Monday, April 28, 2008

Baby Mama

WORTH-IT: (Michael McCullers) My number one rule about going to see movies is having no expectations. Enter every viewing with simply the mind to embrace the work put before you by an in-depth team of creative artists, and find entertainment through their medium. Whether or not you enjoy the genre set before you is your own thing, but putting something up to your own expectations seems unfair. That said, I will admit that everyone usually has an idea of the film's value thanks to our world of previews. And, when I went to see Baby Mama, I had formulated expectations off those previews. Obviously, I did expect to laugh, but I also had prepared myself to leave untouched emotionally, a common occurrence with comedic over-the-top parodies of real life. Fortunately for me, Baby Mama exceeded all of my expectations. Not only was this a good (and realistic) story, but it carried emotion as deep as the jokes were funny. And they were funny! Poehler and Fey carry this film the entire way, acting with a chemistry that is evident and appreciated on screen. Poehler's audacity and blunt inappropriateness clash beautifully with Fey's neurotic obsessions with healthy food and conservativeness. They bring opposite worlds and personalities together to help each grow in a new way. There is never a dull moment in the movie, and when you aren't cracking up, it is because the real-life storyline requires attention from your emotions, altogether making it one successful mesh and comedy, romance, and feel-good. Bravo SNL, this is one of your best.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

WORTH-IT: (Tim Burton) It doesn't take much to really get excited about this film. Simply remind yourself that it's Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter slicing throats, making pies of men and doing so singing in a so-very-merry tune. The absurdity will make you laugh out loud, but the candor allows you to fully engage in a story that is as much told by its demonic melodies as it is by honest emotion. The aforementioned dynamic pair gives this film its due credibility and an impossibility factor in disappointment. What it does lack is good editing, so beware the fight to hear lyrics within the songs. Despite the sound flaw, the story carries on with Depp-coined expressions and tone, Bonham Carter personality and a round of appearances by favorites like Sasha Baron Cohen and Alan Rickman. Costume and cinematography pair for a phenomenal job in creating a monochromatic London through scruffy men and dirty women who walk Fleet Street, and production follows suit making the entire film a duotone coloring book for bits and pieces of implied emotion. Basically, Sweeny Todd offers a goody bag of artistic flair, whether its through the characters, cinematography or the personality. Enjoy Depp as a singing demon, applaud his partner for her outstanding ability to remain the most believably unbelievable character, and credit Burton and Co. for another frightful fairy tale.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Into the Wild

MUST-SEE: (Sean Penn) I love this movie. Into the Wild is a step in a direction everyone feels, or has felt, at some poiont in their life (if not arguably a little all the time). Based on the novel by Jon Krakauer, Penn adapts a screenplay to color in the lines of character Chris McCandless's journey across the country and up into Alaska. Into the Wild depicts the story of a young man, deeply troubled with the pain his parents raised him in, and once he graduates, addresses his last chance at freedom, setting out to discover what the world is naturally made of. Along the way, he finds kinship in the most unlikely, yet humble creatures, living on the wind and far away from suburbia. Also a treat for the audience in these glimpses, we get to see unlikely cameos from always phenomenal Catherine Keener, playing an emotional Hippie trying to let herself deserve love, Vince Vaughn, the government-swindling farmer, exploiting the society McCandless has grown to detest. Penn plays to so many emtoins as he winds us through Chris's path, never hinting at which way he'll turn, when enough is enough or when the loneliness overrules the freedom. Even when one man offers to adopt him in the desert, Chris remains a determined loner. Penn offers a tremndous bout on the standpoint of the audience. I remember feeling empathetic and frustrated within minutes of each other, yet never unsatisfied. Something can be said for the ability to get lost in an emotion and then be able to see reality outside of it. There is something disheartening and terrifying about it all at the same time. A polished Emile Hirsch plays this liberated, yet naive young man, having taken great steps from his earlier work to maintain this man of many emotions. Be ready to appreciate his spirit, but love-hate his character. Also prepare yourself for the inevitable self-doubt this story suggests. Go ahead and question your position, but ultimately settle in for entertainment that illustrates it for you. It's an easy film to watch, with beautiful scene and aesthetic compliments of colorful people and places. Bravo Sean Penn. A successful and inspiring adaptation.