Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A heartbroken man attempts to erase his ex-girlfriend's existence from his memories but falls back in love with her in the process.

Review: I remember a lot of people in college telling me I'd appreciate this, but it looked pretentious and I loathe Kirsten Dunst's acting. Well, they were right, I really liked this! The visuals are simply amazing with countless, impressive shots and concepts. The psychedelic presentation of the memories works wonders but doesn't leave you feeling as though you're coming off an LSD trip. Also, contrary to my original belief that the material would be pretentious, the story is, in fact, pretty straightforward. The sci-fi elements do outshine the romance aspects, however, those who want a love story will still get that and those that want an introspective look at memories and loss will have that as well. Hell, I'd go a step further and say that the film would have been better had it went full sci-fi and took on a darker, serious tone. Can't have everything I suppose.

It's hard to properly word what's so great about this film due to the importance of the cinematography. The bizarre nature of the images is, of course, dream-like, yet it's presented in a unique way that showcases a blending of memories. Meaning, rather than just random shit happening similarly to a dream, there is a specific method to the madness, and we discover this meaning as the film progresses. Connected to this notion is the way in which the love story unfolds with all the film's events coming full circle by the ending; this is something I always love to see...and done well to boot! While the romance itself isn't exactly beyond time and space love, it does--sort of--depict a level of destiny and depth toward the story's conclusion. Assisting in this process were great performances from the leads, Joel and Clementine, played by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet respectively. The chemistry between the two is surprisingly strong despite the, nearly, dysfunctional approach to their relationship. I've always believed Mr. Carrey was better in serious roles than comedy, but the guy can't seem to escape it.

Taking things a tad deeper (why do I always set myself up with this innuendo?), the themes of the film are considerably powerful. The display of loss and love is realistic, and I especially liked the focus on how people fixate on the bad things that happen in a relationship and ignore the majority of the good. When Joel is heard on the recording listing all the things he hated about Clementine, that serves as a great complement to the previous events of him remembering all the good times so fondly. Again, it's hard to adequately describe, but there is an attention to detail that resonates with me. The secondary cast, and their plot line, was somewhat distracting, but I was still intrigued by their drama nonetheless. Of note is Mark Ruffalo's character who is such a little bitch boy. Guys, don't be like this pussy weakling! And, oh boy, Elijah Wood's character is just as pathetic. Dafuq is this shit?! Anyway, the other thing that works is that the ending is both a happy one, and one you can imagine reaching it's inescapable conclusion if you're a realist like me. In other words, if you want to believe Joel and Clementine get a second chance to do their relationship over, then you can imagine it all works out and the film would support that conclusion. However, if you've analyzed the events, saw how incompatible the two actually are, then you can believe they will inevitably break up again at some point since Clementine is clearly neurotic. Here is a tip boys: never date a chick with an unnatural hair color. NEVER.

Now, while there is far more to love than not, there are some bothersome faults. Many of the comedic parts break the immersion due to the overwhelming levels of corniness. For example, Joel imagining himself as a little kid dragged on far too long. The film does include subtlety with other comedic moments yet there was still this need to include full comedy scenes for whatever reason. I'm mostly annoyed that it disrupts the tone that is painstakingly established. Speaking of which, this is where my complaint with the secondary characters comes into play; they take away from the primary tale more than they add. Seriously, everything with Kirsten Dunst could have been cut altogether. Another thing that bugged me was how Joel and Clementine got back together. Was it some kind of twist of fate? Joel's own memories tell him to go somewhere and Clementine also happens to be there that exact same moment? I don't know, maybe I missed something about how he knew Clementine would be there and needed to merely remember that fact after the memory wipe. Anybody have an answer? Finally, it was farfetched that technology like this would merely fly under the radar. The military would definitely be using it as a weapon plus this could be abused readily if in the wrong hands. This could have been quickly resolved by the filmmakers if they acknowledged the practice was commonplace in this universe. Oh well.

Overall, this is an incredible film all around. It's not...quite...the masterpiece people make it out to be, but it's damn close. From a visual perspective, it rivals any big-budget spectacle with it's imaginative presentation of memories. The actors turn in admirable performances and play off each other believably. The love story isn't exactly going to blow your mind, but it's also leagues beyond the emotional depth you'd find in your typical chick flick. There are some plot tangents that could have been cleaned up and some of the pacing tightened, but the flaws are overshadowed by creative ideas, a compelling story, and brilliant cinematography. I'd definitely check this one out for a date movie or just an interesting watch for any filmgoer.

Notable Moment: During the scene when it's raining indoors. If it wouldn't destroy all my shit, I'd love for this to be a possible reality!

Final Rating: 8/10

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Mermaid (2016) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A mermaid tries to kill the businessman responsible for destroying her home and people but falls in love with him instead.

Review: So "The Mermaid" is the most successful Chinese movie of all time...which is a bit shocking to me. I had heard this was supposed to be a (ugh, I hate to say the word) romcom, however, it's severely lacking in the romantic avenue. Luckily, the comedic aspects were strong and salvage most of the film as a whole. In fact, the sheer, over the top nature of the characters and situations worked better than I would have imagined. I especially enjoyed the overacting from the male lead, Liu Xuan, played by Chao Deng, who is constantly screaming his dialogue; this just made me laugh for whatever, strange reason. Of course, I can't ignore the mermaid herself, played by Yun Lin, and the villain, played by Yuqi Zhang. Both are very attractive...though, Ms. Lin has some serious fucking shark teeth going on!

Yun Lin as Shan, the mermaid.

Yuqi Zhang as the villain, Ruolan.

The Good: As previously stated, the comedic elements are done well. We get some next level zany antics with emphasis on randomness. You aren't meant to expect characters to react the way they do which helps the final impression of the film. The overacting also enhances this bizarre comedy style rather than hindering it. Sure, not every joke or gag succeeds, yet, there are more hits than misses overall. Not everyone will be as engaged as I was in this regard, but the comedic style should be applicable enough for most audiences to at least get a chuckle or two out of 'em. As such, I will give the actors credit for embracing the shenanigans head-on. This was Ms. Lin's first starring role, and I was impressed she was able to commit to the role so thoroughly. As such, the Shan character is presented as incredibly sweet and innocent that it's a shame they didn't play the romance aspects straightforwardly. Nevertheless, some cute babes always spice up a movie especially when the background chickadees are cute too.

The Bad: The special effects are HORRENDOUS! For the love of fuck, some of the scenes here are downright embarrassing. Come on...the budget was decent too so there is no excuse to look this bad! The other, huge flaw is that, honestly, the story would have simply been better if the material were taken seriously. A meaningful, dramatic love story could have been applied to the film quite easily, and it would have worked significantly better than what we got. As I mentioned, the Shan character is lovable and her interactions with Liu Xuan could have had great depth in the right hands. This wasted potential becomes more noticeable at the end when the film suddenly transforms into an action movie out of nowhere. The abrupt tonal shift was surprising considering the lighthearted presentation up to that point. This just made me more annoyed that the filmmakers didn't pursue a serious film from the onset. Even that ending, where it was semi-implied that Liu Xuan was watching the waters to find Shan would have been infinitely better if they didn't then show her seconds later, ruining any kind of dramatic tension. Eh...I guess I am faulting a film for not being how I'd want it, but, oh well, it's still wasted potential I can't ignore.

All in all, "The Mermaid" is a terrible romance but a successful comedy. If you were hoping for something serious then look elsewhere. However, if you like over the top characters and hijinks of the highest order, this might be a comedy for you. I'm still not sure how this became the monstrous success it became, but, then again, look at the success of garbage like "Titanic." I want to recommend checking this out for yourself just to see what the fuss is about, but, with those horrific effects, I can't give this a full-fledged recommendation, that's for sure. However, if you're intrigued by the story, just keep in mind what genre this actually is and go from there.

Notable Moment: When some lackey is just trying to say hi to Liu Xuan and he tells him to go to hell. Amusingly random. Also, shortly after, when more goons just started rolling on the floor for no reason was humorous.

Final Rating: 6/10

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Message in a Bottle (1999) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After finding heartfelt letters on the beach, a reporter is determined to track down the man who wrote them.

Review: This appears to be an unintentional tradition since I'm, yet again, reviewing a Nicholas Sparks movie! In a nutshell, this was a decent movie all around, however, it could have been significantly better if they had someone other than Kevin Costner playing the male lead, Garret. Typically I like Mr. Costner, but this must have been a favor for the director or something. He clearly does not care about the role and it shows; his line delivery is laughable at times to boot. With Robin Wright committed fully to the role--and doing quite a good job at that--it becomes more obvious that there is zero chemistry between the two actors. Hell, Paul Newman in his old age would have made for a better love interest since his character was charming at least. Should have scrapped everything and started over. Oh well.

The general premise is somewhat intriguing with the lead, Theresa, finding a message in a bottle from Garret. Conveniently enough, she is a reporter and uses stalker antics to track Garret down and attempt to woo him while he's none the wiser of the situation. And here we have another romance plot line that only works if the genders weren't reversed. You're telling me this wouldn't be a horror movie if it was a guy obsessively stalking a chick across the country and saying he's in love with her without meeting her?! Anyway...if you can get past the creepy setup, Theresa does manage to hit it off with Garret except that he's still in love with his dead wife, of which the letters were originally addressed to. When trying to move forward with his life, and falling for Theresa, Garret discovers her stalker-ish tactics to track him down without ever explaining her self. In a fit of rage, it's revealed that one letter was not actually written by Garret but instead by the dying wife. This, sorta, creates a destined crossing of paths that could have worked, but the story ultimately goes nowhere from here in a pitiful effort to create melodrama. Garret does let go of his wife finally, and, when doing one last gesture to move forward, he, of course, gets himself killed while trying to save people. But of course! Theresa learns he had one last message in a bottle where he explained he was truly in love with Theresa, but the credits are too busy rolling before you can even take in the emotions...or lack thereof. Eh, I appreciate the effort.

Essentially, this is a by the numbers kind of romance--ripe with tropes and cliches--yet it has just the right level of cheese and charm to be a decent movie. There are good ideas strewn about that do work better than you'd think, however, Kevin Costner drags too much of the experience down. I do want to give extra kudos to Ms. Wright since her conviction to the Theresa character heavily compensates for Garret's lack of presence. I want to say this is a chick flick for older audiences, but the themes work just fine at any age. There is also a concerted effort to be overly sentimental that was annoying, but that might make things more engaging to certain audiences.

Notable Moment: When Theresa is outlandishly crying during the sex scene. Give me a break. Actually, this whole movie could have been reworked into a psychological thriller similarly to my stance on "Sleepless in Seattle."

Final Rating: 6/10

Friday, February 17, 2017

Love Actually Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Various characters attempt to find love around Christmas time and the zany antics that ensue.

Review: I guess this could technically be classified as a Christmas movie, but the holiday is nearly irrelevant to the plot outside of a few tangents. Anyway, I had heard this was supposed to be a good chick flick, however, I think this might be one of the worst romance movies I've ever watched. In fact, I'd lump this alongside shit like "Titanic" in the overrated category. With that said, I found the comedic elements to be great, nearly redeeming the film as a whole. I mean, it's not that the film is bad, but the story committed one of the oldest sins of 'em all: telling rather than showing. Film is a visual medium--show us the characters falling for each other! You can't just introduce them and then they're instantly in love the next we see of them. That's not compelling or emotional...where is the passion and drama you'd want from a great love story? Even fucking "Twilight" understood this! Oh shit, maybe that's taking things too far...

It's not all bad though. On the bright side, the interlocking aspect to the characters and stories was a novel idea. Of course, this could have been done in a way to add real meaning to the story, but I appreciate the effort nonetheless. As I already stated, the comedic elements are surprisingly well done. I found myself thoroughly enjoying the Billy Mack character, in particular, and his whole comeback plot line. Likewise, the segment with the Portuguese girl and the writer was amusing with a huge crowd tagging along, not knowing what is even happening. Seriously, the comedy in this movie is handled significantly better than the romance; it's a shame really. Speaking of that writer and Portuguese girl...I'll admit a few tales did have potential for a deep romance. Unfortunately, the film only scratches the surface of their own material. As a consequence, the only decent stories are Billy Mack, the writer/Portuguese girl combo, Liam Neeson and his son, and the guy who goes to America to get laid. And, again, the comedic aspects are what make these stories good rather than the romance themes. Finally, the acting is admittedly good it should be given the massive, star-studded cast.

As to the film's simply fails as a romance outright. Every single tale is rushed and spends more time telling you how characters feel rather than showing the audience. I get it, there are a ton of characters, however, the running time is quite long. Drop plot lines if need be to create a more cohesive and meaningful journey for the remaining characters. Here, I'll even break shit down: Billy Mack didn't need to explain his friendship with his manager; just have him show up at Christmas with drinks in hand and that tells us everything. Everything with Laura Linney was horrible altogether so I don't even give a fuck. Snape and his mistress were pathetic and handled poorly and predictably; though they at least, somewhat, understood facial expressions can do more than words. The Liam Neeson one was cute but would have been better if Liam Neeson had no clue what his son was up to until the very last minute; this would have served as an excellent buildup and payoff as the film went on but nope. The Hugh Grant segment was laughably stupid with a childish interpretation of politics. I have no clue what the fuck was going on with Bilbo's romance since the two chitchat a bit and then are getting married--whaaat? Rick Grimes and Keira Knightley was moronic and ultimately pointless. This could have really gone somewhere deep but failed. On a side note...goddamn Keira Knightley really did have one of the beautiful faces ever and with a sexy voice to boot; however, bitch, eat some pizza with me and get some meat on them bones! Then my favorite, with the writer and Portuguese girl, could have easily been enhanced by slowing down their romantic escalation from meeting to already saying they love each other right away. Hell, I would have made their story into a full-length feature and given it the attention it deserved. Lastly, the guy wanting to get laid was perfect as is--hilarious and Elisha Cuthbert is so dreamy and sexy.

I don't know, it just seemed like each tale was either a hit or miss in terms of entertainment value and all tales failing at the primary goal of presenting a heartfelt romance. The other bizarre aspect was the ordering of the tales and their allotted times being unequal. Why do some characters disappear for half the movie and with little resolution? The tone is also uneven and chaotic. Eh, chick flicks...that's all I can say. I did think it was pretty funny, but it's not consistent in this regard either. There is much to appreciate scattered about yet the anthology-esque presentation boggles down the overall potential rather than helping. They couldn't even incorporate Christmas into the various plots in a significant way which is one of the more unforgivable missteps. Nevertheless, this is a decent movie with all things considered...good but not great. Of course, I am far from the target demographic, however, I think I'm being fair in my rating.

Notable Moment: When Billy Mack tells kids how to get drugs for free. That was a funny scene, and Billy is easily the best character in the movie.

Final Rating: 6/10

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Il Mare Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Two people fall in love across space and time by leaving letters at a house they each once owned.

Review: Now this is how you do fantasy-romance right. The filmmakers perfectly capture the subtle nuances that make a romance work. Those longing stares, the emotional resonance, and, of course, the creative use of bringing the characters together through a twist of fate. I appreciate the original and imaginative nature to the story and how it instills a kind of epic-ness you wouldn't typically find in a mundane chick flick. This truly is some next level, beyond time and space shit right here! I already covered the remake, "The Lake House," but that hardly does this film justice especially in regard to the Eun-ju character. Everything from the cinematography, and general aesthetics, right down to the engaging acting is superior to the remake. If you want a serious romance movie that hits all the right buttons, this is a superb choice.

First and foremost, what seals the deal is the dynamic between the leads. Though they share little screen time with one another, you can feel their love for one another which is a hard feat to accomplish. Jung-jae Lee, as Sung-hyun, works well as the every-man who is trying to step out of his father's shadow. To counter him is the sassy girl herself, Ji-hyun Jun (or Gianna Jun), playing Eun-ju. Ms. Jun portrays the loneliness and longing effectively with numerous shots of her simply staring into the distance (which I love!). We feel her pain and the desire for the two characters to finally just meet. There is a certain degree of wholesome innocence to their romance that makes it feel accessible to any audience. As with "The Lake House," the use of written correspondences establishes a timeless style to the storytelling which will allow it to stand the test of time despite having clear dates presented. Enhancing every lonesome stare is the cinematography that showcases Korea's beautiful scenery. I want to meet Eun-ju on that beach! Although I'd hope there would be some explanation as to what is causing the supernatural elements to occur, the film pulls you in too deeply with the romance that you can simply brush it off as to whatever excuse your mind can muster. While the ending is satisfying, I will acknowledge that "The Lake House" wins in the payoff department. Both end with the two getting together, however, "Il Mare" leaves their relationship starting over while "The Lake House" has it continuing forward from their last letter. makes sense in the context of the story.

I want to do a back and forth of what worked better between each incarnation. As I've already stated, "Il Mare" is a deeper and more emotional movie overall, but I want to mention that the powerful music helps. That song, "Must Say Goodbye," especially creates a dreamy, hopeful tone during the sad scenes that are played up to the audience's delight. This is more than likely a given, but Ms. Jun blows Sandy Bullock away in looks, acting, and character. You cheer for don't cheer for Kate. Kate's overreacting to being stood up is painfully stupid whereas Eun-ju takes it in a better stride. I also felt like her idea that, if she can't be with Sung-hyun, that wanting time altered to stay with her ex made sense rather than just being a little tease cheat that is "settling" while keeping her options open. Man, fuck Kate! Again, we go back to the depiction of loneliness whereby Eun-ju's level of depression is palpable compared to Kate just being an idiot. As for the houses...I do think "The Lake House" wins in this regard, yet, "Il Mare" has the better setting with the sea and tide rolling in. Speaking of which, the origin of the house is better in "The Lake House" and adds more depth to the Alex character that wasn't fully fleshed out with Sung-hyun. Another thing is simply the usage of subtly with "Il Mare." I don't want to repeat myself too much, but "The Lake House" just didn't depict certain story beats sensibly; making Kate forget she made out with Alex is plain stupid! A complaint for both films is why don't the females ever try to find the guy in their time? Plus, neither of these chickadees ever thought to ask why their guy left the house to begin with?! They might have avoided the problem of him being dead if they got off their lazy asses for a second! Sure, Kate was supposed to be a busy doctor but come on. Which, by the way, Kate being a doctor was at least a way to explain how she could afford the house in the first place...but how the hell did Eun-ju afford that shit as a voice actor? I guess her ex-boyfriend was paying?

All things considered, this is a good pick for a date night movie. You have a romance that is portrayed with utmost conviction and complemented by excellent aesthetics and an enjoyable main theme. The sci-fi/fantasy elements work well to elevate this wholly original story to epic proportions where you want to see these character defy space and time to be together. The timeless storytelling and charming leads engage the audience while never overstaying their welcome. The way the events tie together--though paradoxically--leads to a satisfying resolution to our characters who, of course, get together at long last. I'm not big on chick flicks, but "Il Mare" won me over. Likewise, stick to this incarnation of the story since "The Lake House" is lacking despite being a decent film unto itself.

Notable Moment: When Sung-hyun is hit by the car and goes flying. Oh man, this was shot far too humorously. We did not need a slow motion shot of him in midair.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

The Lake House Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Two people discover they can communicate across time and space by leaving letters at a house they both once owned.

Review: With such an innocuous title like "The Lake House," you might think for a second this could be a horror movie. However, it's chick flick month so you know what that means. First order of business, this is a remake of a Korean film called "Il Mare" which I will, of course, review as well. It was tricky deciding which one to review first since obviously "Il Mare" came first, but the Korean film is infinitely better, therefore, I want to spend more time comparing differences in that review (so stick around for that shit!). As for this film's particular's actually pretty good in its own right. I am a sucker for this kind of beyond time and space, cheesy romance, and "The Lake House" delivers the goods. Unfortunately, there is one, huge flaw: Sandy "World's Most Beautiful Woman(?!)" Bullock. Okay, okay, she's no Julia Roberts here on the hate meter. I don't mind Sandy as an actress, but her character, Kate, is such a little tease bitch that it practically ruins everything!

What works is the general premise itself. Trying to create a meaningful romance through storytelling is often difficult without adding fate along the way. Let's be real, most people want to feel like their romantic companion is somehow destined or that you're meant for one another. This is where light sci-fi/fantasy elements come into play to spice things up. We are never told what creates this bridge across space and time, but the way the story progresses makes you forget about that. Who knows, maybe it was the damn doggie causing everything. In fact, the movie should be called The Mailbox since that's what is really getting used, but that probably sounded retarded even on paper. Anyway...I like how the two connect through written correspondences since that gives it a timeless vibe. There is also a slow buildup which makes the resolution that much more satisfying when the two finally get together. Yes, of course the two, presumably, live happily ever after--I mean they did risk the destruction of the space-time continuum just to be together after all! I've already rattled on about Sandwich Bullock yet she does a decent job in her role. Keanu Reeves, as Alex, is okay too...I guess...better than his usual shenanigans that's for sure. The drama between the characters is the appropriate level without going overboard with the cornball antics. And, to the film's credit, there are a few ideas that do improve upon "Il Mare;" for example, the relationship between Alex, his dad, and the brother were well done, enhancing aspects left empty in the original.

While there is a lot to appreciate in the story, it's hard to ignore the negatives that drag down the experience. I'm not holding this against either film, however, you better forget trying to wrap your brain around how time works in this context. The amount of paradoxes in both entries are mind-blowing with "Il Mare" defying the laws of physics to boot. Again, I'm not holding this against either film since you just have to roll with the punches. Onward...the real pain in the ass is the Kate character annoying the hell out of me. She's not likable enough and is not worth waiting years to be with. She keeps getting back with her ex--using him really--and cheats with Alex in a way. Plus, she throws such a little tantrum when Alex doesn't meet up with her. She never even considers any possibility why he might not show up over the course of two years; she just automatically assumes he played her out. You idiot. But--the kicker for me--she makes zero effort to find Alex, expecting him to put in all the work all the while she keeps hooking up with her ex! My god, drop this skank like a sack of potatoes. Eun-ju in "Il Mare" is nothing like this at all. Come to think of it, this film is definitely targeting an older audience than the original. Both Sandwich and Keanu were in their 40s when this came out. In "Il Mare" the characters are supposed to be early to mid-twenties, and Eun-ju, played by Ji-hyun Jun, was actually only 18 in real life when it released. Make of that what you will...

The key to properly enjoying this film is to ignore any glaring time paradoxes, and, somehow, not being totally annoyed with the Kate character. The sci-fi/fantasy plot line adds much needed oomph to the story that allows even a horror fan like me to enjoy it. Sure, it's nowhere near the best romance out there, but it gets the job done for the most part. Had they toned down a bit on the melodrama, or played up different plot lines, this could have been as good as the source material. Regardless, I think this is one of the better date movies that won't be too hard to sell to your boyfriend, husband, lover, stalker, voyeur, pillow you clutch each night, etc. However, the important caveat is that the Korean version is significantly better, and I'd strongly suggest watching that instead even if you're vehemently opposed to subtitles for whatever reason.

Notable Moment: When Keanu performs that horrifically bad sneeze. Acting, Keanu...acting....unless you were going for comedy. In that case, you succeeded admirably.

Final Rating: 6/10

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pretty Woman Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A rich businessman idiotically falls in love with a dirty whore...with a heart of gold, of course!

Review: I guess this is essentially the quintessential chick flick, but, wow, what a piece of shit. The last time I saw this was probably around the early '90s, and I would have sworn that the events of the story took place over a long period of time. However, I'm to believe this bullshit love story took place in a week?! (In Samara voice) Seven days. You have got to be fookin' kidding me here. Richard Gere's character, Edward, could practically have any woman in existence but settles for a random street walker just because she listens to Prince in the tub or something?! AND let's not forget this is Julia Roberts here...I HATE Julia Roberts! I know I've mentioned that before. She doesn't even register as human to me. It's like I'm the only one who can see this--as if I'm wearing those glasses from "They Live." I almost puked up my pizza during one of the sex scenes. Don't scare me like that, movie!

Okay, fine, maybe there are a few positives I can admit. The soundtrack is pretty good--it feels very '80s-esque which makes sense given the slow transition from '80s to '90s. There are a few--and let me stress a few--jokes that work. Richard Gere's line delivery is bad but in the best of ways. It's almost as if he hated the movie as much as me, and that was amusing to behold; in fact, there appears to be some truth that he was not happy with the role. If wikipedia is to be believed, Jennifer Connelly was up for the role of Vivian but was rejected. Let me just go and say that again: they turned down Jennifer fucking Connelly...for JULIA ROBERTS?! Aaah! Why am I mentioning this in the positives? Well, maybe in some perfect, alternate reality, they have this godforsaken movie with Jennifer Connelly in the role at least.

So why does this movie suck? Ignoring the Julia Roberts factor (shudder), it's delusional pandering, and the plot has no conflict. I just couldn't wrap my mind around why Edward is invested in this relationship. He's super rich, smart, good looking, and can even play the piano...yet must settle for this low class trash who woos him with floss?! I shit you not. Seriously, what makes Vivian special? And, fine, let's say he's tired of spoiled brat princesses and wants a "normal girl," you are telling me he'd be this hopelessly in love after a single week? Funny. That is some next level simp shit right there. She must have given some mind-blowing head that first night or something. Maybe it was the strawberries. Goddamn this movie is stupid. And what is the point to anything...really...I want to know? The two barely argue, and Edward's lawyer doesn't like the immediate change he sees. And then they just live happily ever after? That's it?! Where is the drama, the heartbreak, the emotional investment, the beyond time and space romance...where is anything remotely resembling a realistic love story? This is how the movie really should have happened: Edward picks up Vivian, they bang, then it's revealed he's the one that's been killing hookers, and the film ends with Vivian washing up in a river somewhere. Actually, that plot point about dead hookers was never resolved--what's up with that and the constant alluding to a pimp we don't see?

I have no idea how "Pretty Woman" was a such a massive success. There are no stakes to the story, the characters are bland and unrealistic on all levels, the events felt forced and contrived, and the ending is abrupt and equally unrealistic. And, granted, most people don't hate JR as much as me, but, fuck it, she is the single worst aspect hands down. She'd have to pay me to bang her, and I'd just as soon kiss a wookie! Actually, screw it...Jud is right, sometimes, dead is better! Overall, this is a cornball as fuck movie (and not in a good way) that takes itself seriously without ever acknowledging the outlandish scenario unfolding before the audience's eyes. I am giving this movie an extremely generous rating, but you've been warned.

Notable Moment: When Vivian wakes up, is told to do more shopping, and she's annoyed by this prospect. HAHAHAHA! Yeaaaah...oookaaaay. I guess that's supposed to be the comedy part, right?

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ramblings of Ryan Volume 8: Ryan Takes Manhattan (well...not really)

Belated happy birthday, my dear!

First order of business: after all these years, IMDb has decided to shut down their message boards and, seemingly, the ability to even send messages to other users. To put it simply: pitiful. My fucking goodness...I've been a listed user (as it claims) since July 2004, and I'm sure I was lurking for a year or two before signing up officially. If you sift your way through the PR bullshit, it basically boils down to the site feeling as though users need a safe give fake reviews and ratings completely unchallenged. (Whispering) Yaaaaaay. Man, fuck you! I also love how they refer to users as "customers." HAHA that's a good one. Oh sure, the message boards were plagued by idiots, spammers, and someone saying "worst movie ever" on every single film, but that's the way it's always been. Why the change now, huh? HUH? I have no doubt that these pussy bitches were just tired of garbage being called out for what it is. Face it, Hollywood has been churning out shit for years now. The public has grown tired of this and is becoming increasingly vocal. The site already offers numerous ways to filter things so that you read nothing but opinions that agree with what's the problem? You can block people, ignore threads or users, hide your ratings, etc. Realistically, if anyone is being "bullied" on a fucking website they have but to simply log the fuck off! You might not think this is a big deal, but IMDb really is the most comprehensive site for film itself. I mean, they have EVERYTHING! It's like being taken to a library with every book in existence...but then being told you can't talk about what you read. AND, going back to my earlier point, I've yet to see these jackasses crack down on fake reviews and ratings which consistently bolster horrible movies...except now you won't be able to say anything back. Argh. This isn't over, IMDb!

I haven't been posting as many movie reviews lately, because I usually play "Skyrim" remastered with my free time. Sorry. However, the one thing that could take me away even from "Skyrim" was "Resident Evil 7." Finally, the franchise is back on track! Now, don't get me wrong, I'm one of the few people who will defend RE6, but I can't deny that it made no sense and failed miserably to take the franchise further. RE7, on the other hand, is reminiscent of RE4 in that it has completely rejuvenated the franchise in the best of ways. So...I want to go over why RE7 succeeded and why RE6 didn't.

RE7: It kind of feels like a reboot, but it's so different that I wouldn't go as far as classifying it as a remake. Of course there are shortcomings, but that's for a different debate. As for where it succeeded, look no further than properly making things scary again. I remember the first time I played the original "Resident Evil" and how my friends and I tried to figure out the puzzles and jumped from the doggie coming through the window. RE7 recaptures that sense of wonder and puts you on edge. I haven't played the VR version, but, from what I can imagine and have heard, it's pretty intense. You still heal the same, use familiar weapons, and navigate a mansion yet it's such a change of pace somehow. It's tough to properly word. The ending and explanations are a bit lackluster, but the potential has been unleashed in the same way RE4 opened the door to a whole new experience. By the way, RE4 is not only my favorite RE title but in my top 10 games of all time.

RE6: You knew they fucked up when the 6 is in the shape of a giraffe getting a blowjob (I'll confess I did not originally make that observation, but the discoverer was right: you cannot unsee it!). Back on track...RE6 simply tried to tackle too much. I appreciate the massive campaigns since I got my money's worth that's for sure. But the story was utter nonsense, and I still don't really get what was happening. Neo-Umbrella was waiting for a time to strike but their plans were unleashed earlier because of a bitch jealous of Ada? Hell if I fucking know! Honestly, it's irrelevant since the storytelling was doomed from the start just by the character selection and pairings. Leon and...some chick. Chris and...some dude. Ada and...her crossbow (supposedly they patched in someone for her)? Sherry all grown up and Wesker's son...whaaaat? Why the fuck are these two even in the goddamn game?! Why not have it Leon and Ada? Can you imagine how awesome that would have been? Chris and Jill reunited? Or how about Chris and Claire and Jill with Barry or something? Why were there more new characters than classic?! Besides these blunders out the gate, the pacing is too fast with Michael Bay-esque setpieces at every turn for no discernible reason. The bosses take way too much effort to kill and everything feels stupid when it could have been amazing. When you put this alongside RE7 it's like comparing night and day.

Okay, so back to talking about movies. My list of anticipated movies hasn't been updated in a long ass time, because nothing wants to come out! "Rings" is finally out with shitty reviews. Shocking, I know. I'll probably see it...I haven't been to the movies since "Bad Moms," and I crave the popcorn. Of course, I can't forget that I did manage to cross off "Sadako vs Kayako" from the list, but that was something that needed to be experienced. The "It" remake has me worried, and I haven't wanted to watch "Sinister 2" after it too had horrific reviews. My goodness, and, at this point, we might honestly get "Half-Life 3" before we see "Trick 'r Treat 2!" Finally, there is "The Void" with Ellen Wong though I hear she's not the main character yet top billed? Technically, this movie is out but only on the indie circuit. I may be a movie buff, but a film festival might be a little too involved for my liking. Though...what if Ms. Wong made an appearance? Hmm. Besides my desire for Ellen Wong to be the first Asian scream queen, I've been anticipating "The Void" ever since they promised it would be Lovecraft meets "The Thing." Sign me up! Can this finally get a wide release sometime while I'm young(ish)?

I've decided that I'll try to cover romance and chick flicks throughout all of February from here on out since the first two weeks leading up to Valentine's Day don't leave me with a lot of time. Not that I like torturing myself more than I have to, but there are holes in my film knowledge that could use filling. And hey, it's the shortest month after all. The last thing is that I am already trying to assemble what movies to review for May's Asian horror month. If there are any movies I haven't reviewed yet just email me, or reply, send a letter by owl, or contact me however I have this godforsaken blog set up! Preferably, I don't want to review anything with remakes like "Pulse." Ideally, I want standalone entries, but I might cover a franchise like the "Whispering Corridors" quintet. So, yeaaah, pretty much any suggestion is welcome even if it's of a movie I already reviewed (just make sure it was before June 2013 since those are what fall under my updated review list).

Groundhog Day Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: An egotistical weatherman is inexplicably trapped, reliving the same day over and over again.

Review: Yes, I know, it's late--whatever--IT'S GROUNDHOG DAY! This is easily one of the best and most influential gems of the '90s. Besides being profoundly original, the comedic elements blend seamlessly with the philosophical implications. The story makes you ponder your own life, and existence itself, in order to find meaning similarly to the main character, Phil, played perfectly by Bill Murray. Going one step further, "Groundhog Day" has become a cultural phenomenon, a complex idea unto itself, summed up simply by stating the title. That's a powerful notion right there! I'd argue the holiday (and I use that term loosely) has become secondary to the movie in the public's perception. Though...there will always be Ground Hog Day Part 12 in my mind.

So what makes this movie legendary? First and foremost, the core concept of the story--endlessly repeating the same day forever, is what catches any audience's attention. This can be interpreted as the monotony of everyday life or how we become stuck in predictable patterns. Alternatively, take things at face value and contemplate how you would react to Phil's situation. How fast would you resort to murder and/or suicide to end the torment? Not gonna lie, heads would probably be rolling within the first couple days if it were me. Or maybe it's not a curse and more of a blessing? Since the story does not explain what caused the time loop, or why it ends, this only adds to the mystique and intrigue from an audience's perspective. Typically, a lack of explanation can feel cheap, but, in this instance, it actually enhances the storytelling. Maybe Phil is being taught a lesson or maybe he's being offered a second chance in life; it's up to you to decide. The only real conclusion we can draw is that once Phil finally changes his ways, starts to enjoy life and better himself, is when he finally gets what he wants and the day ends. This leads me to my next point...

Bill Murray defines the role; hell, he's practically playing himself it would seem. He's a cynical asshole but still likable enough to want to cheer him on. The comedy isn't burst out laughing levels--it's much more subtle--but you should be smiling plenty as you ponder the great mysteries of the universe. Assisting on this journey is the optimistic Rita, played by Andie MacDowell, who serves as a counter and, eventual, love interest to Phil. The dynamic between these two starts off questionable but picks up big time as the story progresses. Likewise, you could argue the film almost transforms into a romance along the way given how Phil's primary motivation to be better is through inspiration from Rita. Suffice it to say, these two pull off incredible performances. The supporting cast is also good, but they don't contribute quite as much as they could have. Nevertheless, you will probably still remember goofballs like Ned Ryerson long after the credits have rolled.

Now for just random bullshit. How long do you think Phil was in the time loop? Since the original basis was supposed to be 10,000 years, and given how much Phil knows and can do, I'm fine with that. Sure, it's probably shorter, but oh well. The first time I tried to explain what Groundhog Day was to a foreigner, they just kept laughing and didn't get it. Silly will fear the awesome power of the groundhog's shadow! Anyway...maybe it was just that haunted bed and breakfast causing everything? Or maybe it was that old man; I wish they at least acknowledged how Phil dealt with him on the final day. All I know is that if I am trapped reliving a day it better be the day I meet Rika or someone of her caliber. Either that or just let me finally become the fatass time traveler: eating all the pizza throughout history.

Overall, I want to say significantly more about "Groundhog Day," however, this is yet another instance where I feel you MUST watch this for yourself. Neither I or any review could adequately do the story justice, and I find most people catch something unique in their viewing that adds to the philosophical discussion. What I can say is that you will not be disappointed as this is an excellent film both in story and production. This is one of those movies that sticks with you long, long after it's over even if you end up hating it (which is not acceptable!). And forget the holiday, you can watch this whenever and get to it...NOW!

Notable Moment: When Phil is eating all that food at the diner. I want that milkshake...

Final Rating: 9.5/10