06
Oct
12

Red Band Redux: September 2012

The Red Band Redux is Yoda808’s recap of all the movies seen in theaters for the past month. Though not fully formed reviews, here are his off-the-cuff thoughts on movies playing in the past month.

September isn’t usually a great month for movies and it’s more of a post-summer dumping ground of sorts for films that Hollywood didn’t think could cut it in the summer, but aren’t that high minded enough for the fall awards season . . . lucky us. Fortunately there was the art house to turn to in addition to some old favorites that made their way back to the big screen while Hollywood was giving us its dregs. The end of the month finished strong with a great new sci-fi time travel movie and a bunch of girls who could wail. Hopefully the trend continues into October . . .

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Celeste and Jesse isn’t your typical rom-com; in fact it takes a pretty interesting approach to the genre (are romantic comedies their own genre?). Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg star in the title roles as a couple who are going through a divorce, but are such good friends that they still hang out together.

Jones and Samberg definitely have the chemistry to make this odd coupling of a relationship work but at the same time also provide enough awkwardness to show why their relationship didn’t work out. There are also a bunch of fun jokes in the film, but something about the whole thing just didn’t click with me. I wanted just a little bit more from the relationship part of the story, maybe not story wise, but character wise–something just felt missing.

3 stars

—————-

Finding Nemo

Remember . . . just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

Finding Nemo is definitely one of the high water marks for Pixar. Everything about the movie is good. From the voice casting to the relatable story to the wonderful animation . . . Finding Nemo has it all. I think that’s what makes this film so great; people can relate to the story or see themselves in these characters. I mean, who doesn’t identify with Marlin, a dad searching for his lost son? His journey is our journey.

Ended up seeing this for the 3D rerelease and I’m wasn’t too taken by the 3D. I thought it was kind of barely there and didn’t add too much to an already pretty great film.

4.5 stars

—————-

Forrest Gump

Unlike life, you do know what you’re gonna get when you watch Forrest Gump . . . a damn good movie.

There’s nothing like seeing a classic in the theater again and on a big screen. I don’t know what it is about Forrest Gump but it sucks you in every time and there are just tons of great lines you can quote from the movie. Tom Hanks definitely gave a superb performance in the title role but he had a great bunch of supporting actors helping the film out as well. I think what really gets you and makes the film so well loved is the fact that I think anyone can identify with the plight of Forrest at one point or another.

Great film and definitely noticed one or two things seeing it again on the big screen.

4 stars

—————-

For a Good Time, Call . . .

We need to pay our rent, and this sounds crazy, here’s our phone sex line number, call us maybe?

Pretty hilarious movie about female friendship using the premise of starting of phone sex line as a jumping off point. While raunchy, I didn’t feel it was too “in your face” and straddled the line really well between being really funny and just a bit over the top.

Other than the absence of known stars in the lead roles (save for Justin Long in a small supporting role) this indie film has just as much cred AND laughs as a big budget studio comedy with a known actor as a lead (ala the Adam Sandler movies). Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller are both great as two girls who thrown together for a summer and become fast friends. The way their friendship develops definitely is the heart of the film; but there just wasn’t enough here for me to go on thinking of it as more than just a fun comedy.

Decently made and funny movie, but nothing great.

3 stars

—————-

Won’t Back Down

Bad teachers and bad unions, this ain’t your usual fight the power movie.

I feel really bad for Won’t Back Down. It’s a decent enough movie with a great message, but I don’t think anyone will go and see it. Sure it’s got two great and known leads in Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal; but I’m not sure if people will come out for a story about a mom and teacher fighting to better the education of their children. I don’t know, just call me cynical I guess.

The movie definitely tugs at your heartstrings with Gyllenhaal’s character fighting bad teachers and the overzealous union trying to protect them. If fact, I was a little pissed myself at the way one of the “bad” teachers in the film is portrayed. Are there teachers out there that are that bad? I wouldn’t be surprised if there are, but I hope I never get to meet them. In any case, the good fight is fought and you definitely get the heartwarming tale you expect.

3 stars

—————-

Looper

What!?! Old Bruce Willis and young Bruce Willis? This time travel crap really does fry your brain.

What else can I say except that Looper is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Ok well, maybe it isn’t that confusing; but if you get tripped up in the time travel specifics of the film . . . you’re definitely going to miss out. There’s a lot of hyperbole surrounding this film, and while some of it is warranted, I will tell you this. Looper is a movie that you might not expect it to be.

Yes, at it’s core it definitely has the time travel conceit wholly wrapped into the plot of the film; but ultimately time travel doesn’t define the film. If I had to say what the “moral” of the film was, I think it’s that all of us need to think long and hard about the choices that we make. You know . . . why is it we do what we do? Good sci-fi is never about the tech or how things look in the future. It’s about making viewers question things that relate to us through the guise of watching a movie that we think takes place in another time or on another world.

Having said all of that, the film as a whole is just so well done. JGL is of course great as always, but he also plays a good younger Bruce Willis. I know some were bothered by his makeup, but I thought it was ok and didn’t phase me. Bruce Willis, he was serviceable as always. Probably the best thing I can say about his character is that I definitely felt his plight and his motivations for what he was doing. Finally, director Rian Johnson brings such a unique vision and feel to the film. I loved a lot of the shots in the film where action would take place in one angle and in the same take the camera would pan to the side and some other type of action would take place as well. Great film with a good mix of sci-fi and action that definitely makes you think about what’s really going on.

4 stars

—————-

Pitch Perfect

Aca-excuse me?

Pitch Perfect is like Glee getting it on with a Step Up movie . . . you’ve got the singing mixed with song battling against other crews. Having said that, Pitch Perfect is definitely one of the most fun movies I’ve seen all year. Yes you know what you’re getting when you go into this movie (predictable story of an outcast joining a group which helps propel them to victory), but it’s all the extra details and the characters involved that surprised me and made the film really enjoyable.

Let’s start with the ensemble cast. Anna Kendrick is lone wolf lead that ends up joining the all girls choir headed by a veteran and “by the book” Anna Camp with Brittany Snow as the other hold over from the previous year. Together they put together a new group of diverse girls; each of whom have their own quirks that make her stand out–most notably Fat Amy played by Rebel Wilson. Together this group of girls not only learn to harmonize together, but they also bond and face a number of hilarious obstacles together.

Through it all it’s Kendrick as the change agent that keeps the group (and the film) progressing with lots of funny and heartwarming moments. Oh, did I also mention that the musical numbers are pretty great as well? Obviously they save the best of those for last, and it’s definitely worth the wait. If you like Glee or any of those Step Up movies then this is right up your alley.

3.5 stars

—————-

Also reviewed this month: Charles Bradley: Soul of America and The Master.

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