“Adventureland” Movie Review

“Adventureland” (quality rating: 7 out of 10)
Director: Greg Mottola
Screenplay: Greg Mottola
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds, Kelsey Ford, Margarita Levieva
Time: 1 hr., 47 min.
Rating: R (vulgarity, drug use and sexual references)

What? What? A film about early-20 youth that does not make the boys look and sound like air-headed balls of libidinous ego preoccupied with fashioning obscenities into a monument to the generation? And guys actually have, wha’dya-call’em, “feelings? This, my friends, is a daring movie.

Oh, this is rare. And what a breath of fresh air. Greg Mottola, the director who made the admirably funny and decent quality “Superbad,” now gives us the continuously amusing romance comedy “Adventureland” in which things happen because, in the ingenious way in which the situations unfold, they have to happen. They just grow naturally out of a virtual garden of fertile small conflicts.

Shrewd and smart, this is a well-spent ticket’s-worth of solid modern filmmaking that shames the many schlock screenwriters now pandering to the market. You would not, of course, know that from the cheap appeal publicity currently running for this movie in which, in the cynical estimate of the American intelligence by the film studios’ marketing agents, the film must advertise lots of empty laughs or die at the box office.

This film has guts and heart. Yep, even the guys. So it’s so sad that writer-director Mottola just couldn’t resist scattering some filth around. Yes, there’s drunkenness, puking, stoned characters and the curious addition of a doofus who keeps socking his buddy in the groin. And oh, yes, there’s plenty of racy talk. Still, what the film avoids is gratuitously raw zingers. The individuals actually talk to each other. . . as people, not as scripted targets for creative garbage.

So it’s1987 and here’s dorky-appearing but highly intelligent James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg), just graduated in 1987 Pittsburgh and looking to his summer break. He’s anxiously facing his upcoming European trip as prelude to his fall term in graduate school at New York’s Columbia U. But, uh oh, his alcoholic dad is fired and there go James’ finances.

Instead of Europe, he’s looking at work in a woebegone, rundown amusement park called Adventureland.

Actually, there may be something positive about this, like the girl over at another concession. She’s Em (Kristen Stewart), an upfront, alienated type who shares his love of rock but who’s got some heavy personal baggage involving exiting her life with her father and her obnoxious new stepmother. For one thing, she fails to advise James that she’s in a romance with the park’s mechanic, Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds), a rock star, who’s married. When James falls for Em madly, that’s going to get emotionally hazardous when he also befriends Mike and confides in him. James being a virgin, this is salty stuff. For poor James is the kind of guy who readily reveals himself in a flow of words — how uncool is that? Especially since he’s talking about Mike’s girl Em.

Also of intrigue is Lisa P. (Margarita Levieva), one major hottie of a disco girl who maintains herself as inaccessible to her many pursuers.

There does appear to exist some question as to why Motola chose to set the story in 1987, other than the fact that in this way he doesn’t have to deal with cell phones or expensive modern rock stars. He tries to make up for that by including more than 40 pop tunes to back up the action.

So if you’re weary of youth romance comedies that treat real feelings with a shrug and integrity as box office poison, try this one. It may just point a new direction in the genre.

http://www.martymoviereviews.com Marty Meltz, 30-year former films critic for the Portland (Maine) Sunday Telegram. Offering right-to-the-point reviews that address directly the question of the film’s entertainment value to you. Films have personalities. It doesn’t matter who wrote it, who directs it, who stars in it, if it doesn’t reach out to you with charisma. I examine its honesty and intelligence. Are you being respected, or are you being jerked around?

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The Mechanic Movie Reviews

This widespread misconception that actors don’t do the job tough needs to be hushed following watching “The Machinist.” According to most studies, Christian Bale went from about 180 pounds to just fewer than 120 for this part, which was in no way seen by that many individuals. The good quality of the movie aside, for someone to placed that much operate into one thing is downright astounding. Never ever mind the actual fact that he started shooting “Batman Begins” shortly following. Though the film isn’t wonderful by any indicates, it incorporates a “Combat Team” come to feel from the sense that it demands repeated viewings. Anybody who has observed the movie will agree that is absolutely a brain trip plus a nice adjust of pace through the usual Hollywood fare released using a common basis.

Bale plays Trevor Reznik, suffers from a horrible event of insomnia which has clearly affected both equally his individual everyday life and total well being. His only mates really are a prostitute he regularly makes use of and a waitress who pities him in his weakened, vulnerable condition. Regardless of what he does, the inability to rest has develop into a disorder, and he can no longer regulate his life or his fat. Within the starting, his loss of manage doesn’t seem to unsafe. His basic sticky notes to shell out payments and this sort of begin to disappear and be replaced by notes containing riddles he can’t wrap his intellect round. He quickly begins contact that has a co-employee invisible to every person else as well as loses aim at his function, dismembering one more worker and spinning his daily life much more out of control.

His journey to figuring out what has gone improper his everyday living results in clue following clue, adopted by metaphors that lead him with a ultimate conclusion. Nevertheless strange and creepy, it’s executed effectively plus the market begins to come to feel for Reznik. The movie is nearly surreal whenever you combine the rating with the film with its fashion and structure. You honestly really feel that you’re located in the unique world than Reznik. This alone helps make the motion picture profitable in my eyes. The movie pretty much pays homage to Hitchcock inside feeling that you know he’s crazy, but you don’t know what he will do next or what is even actual. You see, what Reznik sees isn’t necessarily genuine everyday life, so it really is fairly a treat attempting to distinguish the real from your imagined.

Needless to say, Bale is incredible in portraying a person that’s around the edge, but not really through-the-top nonetheless. His straightforward attempts at jokes proves that he is fighting for normalcy, and it struggling to separate the truth through the imagined at identical time as us. Nevertheless the motion picture is executed pretty much perfectly through arrives shut to soiling the encounter. We all know which the ending is going to be exciting and most probable include a twist, however it didn’t seem to be absolutely produced. Without spoiling whatever, it felt as if we ended up along to the ride for that total motion picture, struggling with Reznik to search out and answers and clues, only for being abruptly introduced that has a speedy ending. Nevertheless the ending delivered in its articles, it felt rushed and harmed the integrity of the film slightly. Both way, I now individual equally formats of this DVD and must tell you that its one particular in the best indie films in current reminiscence. Any fan of intriguing movie style need to examine this out.

The very first two capabilities listed are only included to the blu-ray version of the video, and are undoubtedly price using a examine:

“Manifesting the Machinist”: this awesome featurette explores Bale’s image as well as the intriguing narrative behind the video. Though it can be definitely really worth thinking about, it could have undoubtedly employed Bale’s perspective

“Hiding in Plain Sight”: this featurette comprehensive the films twist ending and how its theme throughout the film manipulated the audience. Again, it was quite interesting but was missing Bale’s viewpoint.

The remainder of your stuff in transferred from your standard format DVD and involves a very thorough generating-of featurette in addition because the typical commentary tracks and deleted/extended scenes. The commentary observe was basically fairly exceptional as director Brad Anderson picks apart everything he adored and hated about the motion picture.

Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) is a ‘mechanic’ http://the-mechanic.info/ – an elite assassin with a strict code and unique talent for cleanly eliminating targets. It’s a job that requires professional perfection and total detachment, and Bishop is the best in the business. But when his mentor and close friend Harry (Donald Sutherland) is murdered, Bishop is anything but detached. His next assignment is self-imposed – he wants those responsible dead.

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Grown Ups Movie Review

I honestly don’t know why critics have bashed this movie so bad, I actually really enjoyed grown ups and if you’re looking forward to seeing it then I highly recommend watching it and making your own mind up.

What is it about?

Grown ups is about the reunion of 5 childhood friends who meet back up at a funeral after their beloved basketball coach passes away.  Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and Rob Schneider play very different on screen characters.  Sandler plays the character Lenny who is married to a fashion designer and he is also a very powerful Hollywood agent.  Kevin James plays the very normal husband with the lovely wife.  Chris Rock plays a very funny house husband who is married to a powerful woman who wears the trousers in that relationship.  Schneider plays an odd goofball who is married to an even odder older woman.  These characters are all then put together to share a log cabin for the week.

Is it any good?

With all the comedic talent on show I can see why some reviewers are let down by the final product on screen, however I think this movie has enough laughs all throughout it to make it worth watching.  Sandler and the supporting cast all do well and it’s clear for everyone to see that there is real chemistry on and off camera with all of the actors and actresses.  The off screen chemistry which runs over on to the screen makes grown ups believable and very funny.

I recommend this movie to anyone looking for a few laughs.

If you want to watch this movie or any other movie , please visit 21stCenturyMovies.org

If you want to watch this movie or any other movie , please visit 21stCenturyMovies.org

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Movie Review – 17 Again

In my continuing effort to understand the appeal of Zac Efron, I rented the movie “17 Again.” The movie centers on Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry), a man who made a life decision as a love-struck 17 year old and second guesses that decision to the present day. We meet Mike with his life in shambles. His career has taken a negative turn, his teenage children want nothing to do with him and his wife Scarlett (Leslie Mann) is divorcing him.

Stuck in a rut, the disillusioned Mike goes back to his old high school and gets lost in the pictures of his glory days. Through a curious string of events, Mike is transformed to his seventeen-year-old self (Zac Efron).

Since Mike feels he was given this opportunity to fulfill his basketball destiny, he decides to re-enroll in high school. By pretending to be the son of his best friend Ned Gold (Thomas Lennon), Mike O’Donnell quickly becomes Mark Gold. Everything is going according to plan until he realizes that his son he being bullied by the basketball team and his daughter is dating a jock jerk. His mission changes from his happiness to the happiness of his kids.

As a result of befriending his son, he finds himself spending a lot of time with his soon-to-be-ex-wife and realizes he stills loves her. There are many cringe-worthy scenes between a mid-30’s Scarlett and a seventeen-year-old Mark/Mike.

In the end, he finds himself at the exact same crossroads as when he was seventeen. He has a second chance to achieve his perfect life.

Aside from a few funny moments with Ned, this premise is well-worn territory. This film fairs well when compared to its many peers, but falls far short of the wonderful Tom Hanks starrer “Big.”

It’s painfully obvious that this movie’s sole purpose is to be a Zack Efron vehicle, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Although not meant for the likes of me, I can see the appeal for a Zac Efron fan. His character ranges from cool kid to dorky dad, and it works.

Bottom line: “17 Again” is no “Big,” but it’s pleasant enough and a perfect treat for a Zac Efron fan.

Take care,
Sheryld

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Movie Review: Galgale Nighale

Galgale Nighale is one of the biggest Marathi movie released this year. It had everything needed for any Marathi Movie to be successful. To start with it is a comedy movie. Movie starred the two biggest comedy actors Bharat Jadhav and Siddharth Jadhav in Marathi cinema. Both of them are sure shot crowd puller. Bharat Jadhavs Character Galgale is lifted from a popular play Sahi re Sahi played by Bharat himself. This play and character Galgale is among the all time top in the popularity chart. So there was much more curiosity in people how will character Galgale is going to progress. Then this is Kedar shindes movie, who had brilliant past record. Then Siddharth Jadhav is in negative role first time in his career. Then the movie is presented by Zee Talkies. This one is there third movie after Sade Made Tin, and De Dhakka. Like these two movie Zee talkies made sure Galgale will release in maximum theatres in Maharashtra, which is biggest task for any Marathi film makers. So this movie supposed to have everything in it to be successful entertaining movie.

All these factors do help to pull the crowd to theatres. But it could not fulfill their expectation. Frankly movie has been dragged unnecessarily so many occasions in the film you feel where this movie is going. After Sahi Re Sahi the character Galgale was adored by many people including me but it has been blown out of proportion in the movie so much so that it keep sour taste in the end. I sincerely hope that Kedar shinde wont have touched it. In the opening introduction scene of Galgale only he was unbearable. There were some good moments but nothing new. I couldnt see properly developed story. Of course Marathi movie never needed story what it needs is good screenplay and dialogues. And there is not much to rave about in these departments.

Galgale Nighale is a story of a insurance agent Galgale who has habit of to speaking to himself but in loud which he thinks no one else can listen. And this habit of his put him and peoples around him various strange situations. He falls in love with a girl played by Ketaki Thatte, who is from a gangster family. Then there is siddharth jadhavs character whos love for the Ketaki Thattes character is one sided and he goes all the notorious ways to win her love. Then there is a murder mystery in the movie.

Frankly there is nothing much to rave about this movie. Although there was some scope for the director and actors to create some hilarious moments but they fail to achive that. For the music part only one song was good and which had been used for promotion of the film. It was nice to see senior actor like Ramesh Deo and senior artist Shahir Sable being part of the film. It was also refreshing to hear some koli language in the movie; I am all in favor of using different flavors of Marathi language.

Overall I hope Kedar Shinde will come out of his bad form quickly and come back to his best. And I hope Bharat Jadhav will decide to come out of his image and will try something different next time, he is brilliant actors and much more potential to stick in one image. For the movie if I have to rate it I will give the movie 5 out of 10.

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New York – Movie Review

New York is the best Yash Raj movie after Chak De India. There were theories that New York is a movie that has come way too late, considering it is based on 9/11. But more than dealing on 9/11 attacks, it is about how South East Asians were detained and treated like animals by the Bush government. One such person is Sameer (John Abraham). Read on to know more about New York movie review.

Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is arrested by the FBI as a set-up. The whole deal is that the FBI officer Roshan (Irrfan Khan) wants Omar to work as an undercover secret agent and infiltrate the life of his friends Sameer (John) and Maya (Katrina) who were his friends 8 years back. Roshan has an inkling that Sameer is running a sleeper terrorism cell and wants him caught red-handed. Omar agrees on the condition that there would be no harm done to Sameer.

The trio, Maya, Sameer and Omar were college friends and Omar used to secretly love Maya but the latter was interested in Sameer. When Omar came to know about this, he discreetly backed out of their lives and decided not to interfere in their married life, till the FBI made him enter the lives of the couple. Omar is exposed to a lot of things in Sameer’s life that make him confused about whether he should really spy on his friend or back out of the plan laid by the FBI.

Plus points of New York:
1. Well-researched film. Full marks to director Kabir Khan and his team for coming up with an interesting subject. He proved that he was quality material with Kabul Express and New York is yet another confirmation.
2. Adherence to the subject at hand: New York does not deviate from its plot and keeps going steady. The pace of the movie is good and the performances are commendable.

Minus points of New York:
1 The movie may not catch the fancy of the masses. At the cost of authenticity, New York may lose vernacular audience. The movie touches some crucial points and the dialogues are delivered in English. In fact, 40 percent of the movie is English. So, New York a movie with a universal theme may come across as a niche subject that may be patronized by multiplex crowd.

2. The movie is similar to Fanaa, Don-The Chase Begins and Jannat in some areas. Though they are not intended, you may experience a feeling of Deja vu while seeing New York.

3. The climax is a bit skewed and though there can be ‘n’ number of ways at how the movie could have ended, what is shown may not be agreeable to viewers. Also, Neil Nitin Mukesh does not say ‘the right urgent things’ to John Abraham at the climax and his lines sound filmy and corny at the end.

Best scenes of New York:
New York had some amazing scenes that are worth applauding:
1. The frisking scene of Katrina Kaif by a cop at wee hours of midnight
2. Irrfan Khan’s talk about why America is and always be the land of opportunities. He tells why inspite of being a Muslim, the US has looked at his credentials and given him the job to check on sleeper terrorist activities which were run by muslims.
3. The end credits which show information on how Asians were subjected to illegal detention after 9/11-really leaves an impact.
4. The gory detention scenes really make you cringe.

Performances in new York:
John Abraham after a long time, has come up with a very good performance, perhaps his best after Jism. He is totally in his element and plays his role very well. Katrina Kaif too has got a meaty role to chew on, and she does a very good job at it. Watch Katrina Kaif emote during the preclimax and climax scenes…she is superb. Neil Nitin Mukesh pulls on a superbly restrained performance. The pick of the lot is Irrfan Khan, a flawless performance. He manages to dominate almost all the scenes where he features, and that too effortlessly.

V.S.ARUNRAJ, in his entertaining blog Bollywood Trends gives a low-down on the news, views, reviews, masala and trends of the biggest and the busiest film industry in the world-Bollywood

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Eden Lake Movie Review

This movie is about Jenny, a kindergarten teacher, and her boyfriend Steve, escaping for a romantic weekend away. Steve, planning to propose, has found an idyllic setting: a remote lake enclosed by woodlands and seemingly deserted. The couple’s peace is shattered when a gang of obnoxious kids encircles their campsite. Reveling in provoking the adults, the gang steals the couple’s belongings and vandalizes their car leaving them completely stranded. When Steve confronts them, tempers flare and he suffers a shocking and violent attack. Fleeing for help, Jenny is subject to a brutal and relentless game of cat-and-mouse as she desperately tries to evade her young pursuers and find her way out of the woods.

From the reviews I read about this movie, I was expecting it to be alot better than it really was. The movie starts off slow to build up the storyline and then starts to get good. Once the kids are chasing after Jenny through the woods, it starts getting boring. Most people with common sense would use the woods to their advantage and get revenge but apparently, not this movie. I saw about 3 or more opportunities where the girl, more so than the guy, had an advantage of killing or hurting one or more of the kids. I guess the 2 main people were too stupid to think of making weapons to fight back and just run away. I guess that’s a movie for you.

As for the story, itself, I thought it was quite good. You can see how this could be based on something that might happen, since now days the kids are out of control and have more power than the parents (thanks to the government with their new laws). As for the actors, I thought everyone did a great job on their roles.

Well, there were a few scenes where the guy and lady don’t show too much emotion, when being hurt.

This movie was more of a thriller than a horror movie. If anyone says this movie was scary, then they must have only watched Disney films all their life. Overall, it was worth watching but I really wished the ending played out better, where she killed all the kids to get revenge.

If you haven’t seen this movie and are wondering if you should see it or not, it’s worth seeing, at least once.

For more reviews, trailers, and information about movies, such as Eden Lake, please visit: www.magos-reviews.com

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Movie Review – “Up”

From Academy Award-nominated director Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) and Disney*Pixar comes the newest animated big-screen hit, “UP”. You are invited on a hilarious and heartwarming journey into a lost world, with the least likely duo on Earth.

In the 1930’s, a beacon of hope for a down-and-out American public was a rich, clever and handsome adventurer named Charles F. Muntz (voice of Christopher Plummer). His famous mantra “Adventure is out there!” inspired his biggest fans, youngster Carl and Ellie (voice of Elie Docter).

Carl Fredrickson (voice of legendary actor Ed Asner) is not your everyday hero. He’s a bit of a grouch, but in the tradition of the great Walter Matthau and Spencer Tracy, “he’s a grouch you can love.” After retiring from the balloon business he is forced to leave the home he and his late wife, Ellie, built together. But don’t look for this 78-year-old to move into the old folks home…he’s going to live the rest of his life on his own terms. Instead he takes to the skies! He ties thousands of balloons to the roof, lifting the house into the air and heads south, finally fulfilling the promise he made to his wife so many years ago…to follow the search started by the adventurer Charles F. Muntz for proof of a rare and fantastic 13-foot-tall flightless bird from a remote mountain in South America.

But every great adventure has its unexpected challenges and nightmares. Carl’s manifest themselves in the form of an enthusiastic, overly optimistic, 8-year-old Junior Wilderness Explorer from Tribe 54, Sweat Lodge 12, named Russell (voice of 9-year-old Jordan Nagai, making his acting debut). Equipped with a backpack loaded with official Wilderness Explorer camping gear, Russell is ready for a wilderness adventure.

Here comes the challenging (and often hilarious) part: his only camping experience to date was in his own living room, his knowledge of all things outdoors comes from books and he’s never left the city!

Their journey would not be complete without surviving extreme weather, treacherous terrain, strange inhabitants of a lost world-as well as each other. The “strange inhabitants” include Kevin (voice of Bob Peterson), an extremely rare 13-foot-tall flightless bird with a sweet tooth (something he and Russell have in common) and a penchant for getting himself into some very curious and seemingly impossible situations.

Then there are the members of a pack of dogs on a mission to capture a rare bird that their master is pursuing, which includes Dug, a lovable golden mutt mocked as the nerd of the pack. Pack leader is Alpha (voice of Bob Peterson), a menacing-looking, black-as-night Doberman Pincher. Beta (voice of Delroy Lindo), a tough Rottweiler, is Alpha’s lieutenant, and Gamma (voice of Jerome Ranft), a rough-and-tumble Bulldog, is Alpha’s hench-dog. All the dogs have high-tech collars that give them unusual abilities specially designed for sinister hunting expeditions, including GPS tracking and translating their thoughts into speech. Having been sent into the jungle on a “Special” mission, Dug accidentally succeeds when he discovers the bird following Carl and Russell. Now they are being pursued through the jungle by Dug’s own pack and nothing will detract this pack from their mission. Well, maybe a squirrel!
Along the way “Carl discovers that life’s true adventure can be found not in travel or great accomplishments, but in the everyday relationships that we have with friends and family”.

A special note to all you movie buffs out there: John Ratzenberger gives voice to the Construction Foreman Tom who tries to persuade Carl to sell his home to Tom’s boss, a major contractor. Mr. Ratzenberger is the only actor to voice a character in all 10 of Disney*Pixar’s films.

“UP” is rated PG for some peril and action.

Also showing…”Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian”
Rated PG for mild action and brief language. “In the World’s Biggest Museum, Something Huge is About to Go Down. When Everything Comes to Life, There’s One Man For the Job”.
Starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Robin Williams

Also showing…”Star Trek” Rated PG-13
From director J.J. Abrams and Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Bruce Greenwood, Eric Bana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Leonard Nimoy

Also showing…”Land of the Lost” “Right Place, Wrong Time” Rated PG-13
Starring: Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride

Also showing: “Terminator Salvation” “The End Begins” Rated PG-13
Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington

Also showing: Now in it’s 5th Week…”Angels and Demons” “The holiest event of our time. Perfect for their return” Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material.
From director Ron Howard and Starring: Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer

Keith Johnson enjoys going to the movies, especially with his 10-year-old daughter. You can learn more by viewing his blog, Movie Reviews http://keiths-movies.blogspot.com

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Movie Review – Slumdog Millionaire

I finally saw the movie “Slumdog Millionaire,” and it was beautiful beyond belief. It took me awhile, because I was terrified to see it. It received such a ridiculous level of hype, I was afraid that it would crumble under the weight of my lofty expectations.

I shouldn’t have worried. After the first ten minutes, I was totally, bug-eyed hooked. The story is amazing, the visuals are brilliant and the cast is pitch perfect. These factors are usually indicators of high-quality, but when combined with the talent and vision of film-maker Danny Boyle they produce nothing short of film excellence. At the end of the movie, I couldn’t shake the word beautiful from my psyche. The brilliant part is that while the overall movie is beautiful the events within are painfully ugly. To create such beauty from so much tragedy is a herculean achievement.

The story centers on Jamal, his older brother Salim and the ever, sweet Latika. The movie is told through the eyes of Jamal (Dev Patel) as he explains to police why a common slumdog is able to excel on the gameshow “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” This approach uses a “show, don’t tell” method of story telling that is both informative and emotionally effective (this is how you do it right, you people at “The Philanthropist). Jamal’s life stories intertwine with the gameshow in such a wonderful way, it’s easy to look past the unbelievable coincidence of these particular questions.

When a young Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) jumps through the outhouse floor, in order to get a beloved autograph, he becomes the soul of the movie. When a young Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail) quickly sells that autograph, the relationship between the brothers is cemented.

Salim is a selfish bastard, but is always there for his little brother when it really counts.

If Jamal is the soul of the movie, the relationship between Jamal and Latika is the heart. Their relationship is formed under harsh circumstances that become incrementally more brutal as the years go by. They’re beat down and nearly broken, but they never forget each other.

Bottom line: Must see movie. Have tissues handy.

Take care,
Sheryld

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Movie review ? Up (2009)

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Pixar’s “Up” received some truly outstanding reviews during its theatrical run earlier this year, marking itself out as a Best Picture contender in this new era of expanded awards nominations. My own relationship with Pixar has thus far been a pleasurable one, with the exception of 1998’s “A Bug’s Life” I’ve found their output over the years to be staggeringly brilliant, I’m even a self professed fan of “Cars”. So it was a surprise that I wasn’t completely enamored with “Up”, I liked it sure, but never whilst watching it did I feel like I was viewing an animated masterwork. The characters and narrative just seem a tad weaker than most of Pixar’s previous offerings. I should make myself clear in this early stage of the review that I did have a genuinely good time with the film….it’s just….you know…not quite the mind-blowing family spectacle the hype had promised.

“Up” follows Carl Frederickson (Ed Asner) a curmudgeonly old fellow who’s house is being built around by corporate tyrants, needing only Carl’s property to create the commercialized whole their project demands. In the opening 10 minutes it’s revealed that Carl once had a loving if not occasionally tragic life with his deceased wife Ellie, the house their last remaining bond on Earth. After an unfortunate accident in which a workman is injured through Carl’s emotional pairing with the place he ends up losing his house, and is forced into the unappealing Retirement home way of life. However in a bid to evade this future he concocts a devilish plan to visit a lost land in South America that he and Ellie always dreamed about, whilst taking the house with him.

Attaching thousands of Helium balloons to the property he takes to the sky bringing an unwitting but enthusiastic youngster called Russell (Jordan Nagai) with him. Together they make it to South America and head to the Waterfall that Ellie always wanted to see, meeting along the way an assortment of crazy animals and an explorer gone mad in his pursuit of a mythical local beast.

From a visual perspective “Up” is every bit as beautiful and unique as previous Pixar works, even offering 3-D for added admiration if the viewer is so inclined. Yet I could almost be certain the wonderfully lavish animation looses nothing without the third dimension, the art and character design in “Up” is something truly magical to behold. Pixar have long established themselves as wizards in both the storytelling and CGI departments, “Up” cementing both statuses to a certain degree. Certainly I was more impressed with the look of the product on this occasion, something this blatantly goofy and zany translating beautifully and providing a delightful burst of observable pleasure. The movie is a massively colorful orgy of unparalleled frenzy and craziness, from an aesthetic standpoint the work in “Up” can’t be faulted.

To say the characterization in “Up” is anything less than good would be harsh, yet the central figures are a cut below the very strongest Pixar cohorts. Carl is well voiced by Ed Asner and is ultimately presented as an emotionally complex individual with a deadpan sensibility, but as a lead he lacks the charm or fizzle of a Buzz or a Woody. Thanks to some mature plot devices and a delightful flashback at the beginning it’s not hard to sympathize with him, and yes, as a character he’s commendably three dimensional. However does he evoke the sense of underdog heroism or old school charisma that even Wall-E netted? Not really……he’s a solid hero just not a remarkable one. The voice work is good from the other supporting figures, though in “Up” they’re a group mined heavily for comedy. To a certain extent it might be possible to find some emotional hook within Russell’s persona (he scores bigger on laughs than tears) but otherwise it’s straight up goof-balling from the other eccentrics.

“Up” deserves recognition for its pursuit of more complex and adult themes, Pixar’s interest in the human spirit what ultimately separates them from the like of DreamWorks. “Up” does some courageous work (especially in the first half) with its leading man, drawing him out to be a true cinematic presence, rather than a mere cartoon character. This complex emotional undercurrent is what really gives the movie its fire, the narrative more amiable than outright immense. For a Pixar movie boasting such visual creativity I was surprised how unremarkable and predictable the central plot arc was, without the sound characterizations and lush visuals “Up” would be dabbling dangerously close to the realms of mediocrity. The jokes are frequent and certainly far contrasted from last year’s “Wall-E”, this time Pixar actively seeking chuckles from the silliest of sources. Again the more mature viewer should appreciate the subtler humor offered by Carl, but the energetic and bonkers laughs being mined from the supporting players come from a school of comedy much more in tone with universally appealing comedic values.

I liked “Up” and am keen to see it again, if more than anything to confirm it as a playful if not flawed addition to Pixar’s filmography. It remains a safe bet for a motion picture to keep all family members entertained and stays a beat or two ahead of the DreamWorks crew thanks to its fine tuned emotional detail. However if this is the first Pixar movie to get a best picture nomination I’ll be a little unsettled because whilst it might be damned good, it’s not their masterpiece.

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