Review: Role Models (2008)

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“No, venti is twenty. Large is large. In fact, tall is large and grande is Spanish for large. Venti is the only one that doesn’t mean large. It’s also the only one that’s Italian. Congratulations, you’re stupid in three languages.”
– Danny

SYNOPSIS: Wild behavior forces a pair of energy drink reps to enroll in a Big Brother program. – via IMDB

You know, I watched this movie when it came out and I have gone back to it a few times over the years and I still thoroughly enjoy it. No, it isn’t a perfect movie or anything like that, but it is a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

First and foremost, Paul Rudd is absolutely fantastic in this. I adore the man, so will pretty much watch anything he’s in. I think he’s sweet and hilarious and so dry, which works for me. This is no exception, he is plenty entertaining, and works wonders with Stifler Seann William Scott. Scott provides just the type of role you would expect from him, but he does it well. McLovin Christopher Mintz-Plasse entertains endlessly as awkward Augie. Another hilariously awkward character is cocaine-crazy Sweeny, and Jane Lynch has a ball with the role. As you can tell, the movie hinged quite heavily on the actors having fun with the material, and it works. 

The humour made me laugh, too. It’s witty, dry, sarcastic and crude at times throughout, and it totally works. The movie also doesn’t drag out the run-time, so it plays it out and does its thing but doesn’t overstay its welcome, which is great. You just have fun, and then it is over, before it wastes away and tries too hard to be something it isn’t. The story, while not new, is handled deftly. There are a lot of crappy movies in this genre, but every now and then there is one that stands out, one that tries to and succeeds to be more. This is one of those. It has a lot of heart and a lot of humour, knows what it is and goes for it, without being apologetic.

I really enjoyed some of the situations the characters found themselves in and I liked how things were handled. There was even character growth to be found throughout here, which is more than I could have asked for. The soundtrack and score worked, not once taking over and becoming the focus, which is just fine.

So, all in all, if you haven’t checked out Role Models before and feel like a good, light comedy with plenty of heart, I can highly recommend this one, it is quite fun. I don’t really know what to say other than I like this one and I find myself returning to it time and time again and enjoying it without fail.

November Blind Spot Review: City of God (2002)

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“You need more than guts to be a good gangster. You need ideas.”
– Rocket

SYNOPSIS: Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. – via IMDB

Man, I have been meaning to get to this movie for years and years and just never have, and finally I can cross it off my list. I don’t know about Top Ten Movies of All Time material or anything (which is where I see this movie listed often), but this movie is definitely fantastic and well worth the watch. It is heavy and handled exceptionally well, and comes across as authentic, not some attempt at a sob story from a dangerous area.

First off, City of God does not pussyfoot around in terms of the violence, drug use, and life in the slums. Oh no. You get kids with guns doing drugs and killing people and it is just the way it is, and you get a look at junkies, you see robberies and plenty murder. I have no issue with it, but I think some people might find it a little hardcore. I think it told the story in a gritty, brutal manner, and didn’t sugarcoat things.

City of God has an array of characters, and they are all interesting, all bringing a new facet to the story, and I quite liked that. The story is so interesting and immersive, being told in disjointed chapters which all fit together seamlessly as they are laid out. I was mesmerised from the off. It takes a few minutes to get rolling, but once it catches it barrels right along and it is so good. It is so heavy to see the conditions that people live in, and how the violence and danger was simply accepted as a way of life.

There are some heavy scenes that come up throughout the movie that just get your blood boiling (Li’l Zé, you are a supreme dweeb). Benny is a character you cannot help but like – he is just likeable. Yes, he’s in the whole drug racket and is respected and will do what is necessary, but he is also more level-headed and fair, so the people like him more. Rocket, our main peanut, is in a sticky situation all throughout the movie as he does not want to be either a cop or a hood, and I can’t think you would have a lot of options in the slums. Li’l Zé is a freaking crackpot crazy – no two ways about it o.O

Anyway, City of God benefits from a good cast that presents to us an uncomfortable but important and engrossing story. It is gritty and brutal, authentic and heartfelt. The film is shot well and the score works hand in hand with the visuals to draw you in. You become invested in what you are seeing, and the movie truly provokes viewer engagement throughout. You are fascinated, but you don’t want to be these people. For people uhming and ahing about this because it is subtitled, get over it. The story is awesome and you will hardly be aware of those subtitles.

May Blind Spot Review: Rear Window (1954)

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“I’ve seen bickering and family quarrels and mysterious trips at night, and knives and saws and ropes, and now since last evening, not a sign of the wife. How do you explain that?”
– Jeff

SYNOPSIS: A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder. – via IMDB

So I finally, finally watched this. I quite liked Disturbia when I saw it, and learned after the fact that it was based on Rear Window. I have vowed for years that I would get to this, and it has finally happened folks. I am so damn proud of myself. That being said, let’s talk about the movie, a film I particularly liked for a variety of reasons and can finally understand why it is so revered.

Rear Window faces the challenge of taking place in pretty much one place. I am not usually bothered by this even remotely, provided that the story is solid and there is method to the madness. One set is fine with me. This is a prime example of how to handle a single area. You are constantly wondering about Lars Thorwald and all that Jeff is seeing, wondering if there really is an issue, or if Jeff is so bored from sitting there the whole time and his mind is getting awfully creative. The performances from both the stunningly gorgeous Grace Kelly and James Stewart are exceptionally important for the implementation of the film. Because we essentially only have one area the story is taking place in, their chemistry is important, as well as the delivery of their roles. You buy into their obsession – it starts slowly with Lisa, initially dismissive, and then they are hooked, both of them. This obsession also forces them to come together more – they are also so into each other and dancing around it because Jeff is a fool that thinks Lisa is just some finicky fashionista with no real depth. Idiot.

I enjoyed the dynamics between Jeff, Lisa, and Stella. I was not overly keen on Detective Doyle and his distinctly sexist views on things, but it must also be noted that this movie did touch on feminism. Lisa is a strong, independent woman who totally does not fit the mould Jeff would like to place her in, and Stella is also quite the entertaining woman. I also truly appreciated the dialogue of the film – it is fast, witty and sharp.

The way that the movie was shot is also impressive – the voyeuristic feeling you get while Jeff watches the courtyard and the neighbours lingers. It really comes across as curious, and then moves right into creepy territory, which adds to the suspense and unease you feel when watching this, which is awesome. It is masterfully handled. The runtime for this is rather long, but you never feel like time is being wasted while sitting around and watching it. Instead you are hooked from the off and desperate to see what happens.

Rear Window is a rewarding watch, something I can say I am pleased to have finally gotten to. It is masterfully created, the suspense sets in from the off, it is visually appealing to watch and carried by fantastic performances from our lead. It is engaging and fascinating and well worth the look see.

Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

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“I have loved her even when I hated her… only married couples’ll understand that one…”
– Cal Weaver

SYNOPSIS: A middle-aged husband’s life changes dramatically when his wife asks him for a divorce. He seeks to rediscover his manhood with the help of a newfound friend, Jacob, learning to pick up girls at bars. – via IMDB

You know, the more I watch this movie, the more I enjoy it. I watched this years ago at the behest of Natasha, who knows I cannot really stand rom-coms, but does know what type I can deal with. When she told me to check this out, I figured why not? She won’t just recommend me anything in this genre, so it had to be decent. Plus two, the cast is fantastic. Let me tell you, this movie is great, and I grow constantly more fond of it. It is just so much fun.

I enjoyed that this was not some stupid, soppy, desperate love story. This looked at people who have lives that fall apart – midlife crises that aren’t dealt with, cheating, insecurities, all of it. It explores embracing yourself, letting other people in, dealing with issues head on, so many things. I enjoyed the themes of this movie. And yes, love is an extremely prominent theme, but it does not make you want to retch, so that is a good thing! Crazy, Stupid, Love knows what it is and what it wants to be, and goes with it. It is smart, funny, witty, and sweet, and I appreciated all those things.

Let us not even remotely forget the cast. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are absolutely phenomenal here, and have ridiculously amazing chemistry. Really, I could watch them all day together. This is one of two movies where Steve Carell does not grate on my last nerve, and Julianne Moore is, as always, well worth the watch. Kevin Bacon’s moments were also those of pure entertainment, especially as the movie progresses. What a boring man! Also, everyone worked well together. I particularly appreciated Jacob taking Cal out to begin their main training. Oh boy!

There were plenty awkward moments, plenty funny and plenty sweet, but everything works. This is the kind of romantic movie I can revisit without feeling just plain down ridiculous. There is a lot to like about it, and a movie you can get away with watching with your other half without them wanting to slit their wrists. As you can tell, I quite like this one for a variety of reasons, and I can highly recommend it.

Oooh, oooh, before I go. Women across the globe will thank Hannah for not letting him put his shirt back on after assessing his Photoshopped beauty. For science…

Skip the trailer, just go straight to the movie.

January Blind Spot Review: Say Anything (1989)

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“What I really want to do with my life – what I want to do for a living – is I want to be with your daughter. I’m good at it.”
– Lloyd Dobler

SYNOPSIS: A noble underachiever and a beautiful valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes off to college.- via IMDB

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GRADE 8Ah man, this was actually so sweet. I know the iconic image of John Cusack with a boombox, and I know it comes from this, but it was really cool to finally see what this is all about. I really appreciated the fact that Say Anything isn’t overly soppy or drowning under sexual innuendo. Instead it was pretty smart, witty, and had heart.

Obviously one cannot talk about this movie and overlook John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler. He was perfectly cast, and is adorable, lovable, sweet and fun, and I love what he does for Diane. I can totally see him having quite the following. Gosh, they way he was around her, and the way he moved the glass, and… and… there was so much about Lloyd that was awesome. That being said, Diane Court was also a great character. The whole movie pretty much revolves around Lloyd’s love for her, and the drama with her father, and she truly is essential to the story. Also, let’s not forget just how delightful her and Lloyd were together, you root for them every step of the way. It was great just to watch them chill together, to just be, and to see how their relationship develops.

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The relationship between Diane and her father was a good one. They were really open and honest with each other, and Diane could share a lot with him. He was sweet, supportive and yes, he was pushy, too, but he meant well. Unfortunately it seems that Diane was more open with her father than the other way around. Jim Court also respected his daughter, and that is something that scores some major points. Man, what a conflicted character. The movie is so eighties, but I really liked that.

The pacing for this is great. Really. Nothing is rushed, nothing dragged, it comes together really well in that sense. Also, you are captivated from the off. It comes across as honest, especially when you watch the interactions between the characters. The film manages to balance the comedy and the drama, so it isn’t forcing for laughs, but it isn’t wallowing in too much seriousness, either.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this one. It looked great, it sounded great, Lloyd was a sweetheart, and Skye and Cusack had lovely chemistry together. I can see why this was popular, and I am sure that this is something I will rewatch. It is filled with quick dialogue and heartwarming moments, totally worth a look see if you haven’t checked this out already.

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Review: The Duff (2015)

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“It’s not like a big deal, every group has one, you know the one who doesn’t look as good , thus making their friends look better. The one whose easy to talk to because no one’s trying to get with them.”
– Wesley Rush

SYNOPSIS: A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labeled the DUFF – Designated Ugly Fat Friend – by her prettier, more popular counterparts. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8All I know about this film is that is was based on a book, and that it didn’t do so well, and got a bit of flak. Having seen it, I don’t get why it wasn’t too popular. I thought it was pretty funny, a little silly and cheesy, but overall not bad. Just remember to check your brain at the door, it might frustrate you if you try to get too complicated. And I haven’t read the book, so for once I am not too concerned about the parallels. In fact, even after seeing this, I don’t think I will be heading out anytime soon to read the book. I enjoyed just watching it, scoffing, and enjoying how light it was.

Anyway, it isn’t earth shattering or super different, but it is done really well, and carried by a pretty good cast and feels fresh. I absolutely loved watching Robbie Amell and Mae Whitman together. They were just too darn cute, and came across as pretty comfortable with each other. Really great chemistry. Also, I truly appreciated Bianca’s character. She was just so damn cool. I was pleased with the message behind this movie – it wasn’t this whole “change yourself to get the guy” thing, and it also wasn’t all about some dude and how a girl just couldn’t live without him. Man, so over that.

Bianca and her situations can also be so damn relatable, which is really funny and really awkward, all at once. I like that. You can totally get how and why some of these situations would arise, or how one would feel about them. That’s something not all movies get right. I had a particularly good laugh when she achieved something and this went down (we have all had a moment when we felt this):

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I also like that the movie is actually a lot smarter than you would think it would be. I appreciate the fact that it successfully balanced humour and heart, as most other movies go one way or the other. It’s also sassy at times. The movie is predictable, but it is fun. I actually enjoyed this a hell of a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a good coming of age movie that is funny, identifiable, sweet without being sickening, and something that I would actually recommend.

Rapid Review: The Invitation (2015)

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“Forgiveness doesn’t have to wait. I’m free to forgive myself and so are you. It’s a beautiful thing. It really is.”
– Pruitt

SYNOPSIS: While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8So I have read quite a few good reviews on The Invitation, and I have been quite looking forward to checking it out. Eventually, the time had come, and I got on it as soon as possible, and I enjoyed every damn second of it. The film features a ton of unlikable characters, except Will, out main peanut we are supposed to identify with and root for, and I really do like him, and I feel awfully sorry for him. He has obviously not gotten over the death of his son, and seeing him back in the family home was something, because you could see the havoc is wreaked with his mind. Aside from that, he is also the most normal person there is at this insane little dinner party, which makes the situations even more bizarre. The air of awkwardness and tension was palpable in The Invitation, so the atmosphere was great, I really liked it. Like my husband said, the movie actually just makes you feel really uncomfortable, so it definitely scores points on that front. Another thing that is funny – in the movie, David locks the door and Will is uncomfortable with it, and my husband and I scoffed. We would be super uncomfortable here having a dinner party with unlocked doors, etc. But this is Africa. Out there it might very well alarm people when doors are locked in the midst of a dinner party, I don’t know. I just have a suspicion that if/when we move out of the country, we are going to look like such crazy people wherever we move to! The movie is shot incredibly well and looks fantastic. Looking at cults is, as always, fascinating, and this movie handled it just right. The guests of this dinner party were not interested in joining a cult, though the hosts certainly kept pushing the point the whole time, and it was constantly hanging around just on the edges. The performances were all solid, too, and I really think that Logan Marshall-Green nailed his role, I really liked him. The score is also super creepy, and gets right under your skin. Complemented the film every step of the way. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed The Invitation and would highly recommend it – this little thriller is a slow burn (but never too slow) that creeps up and packs a punch, and still has you wondering if you really are understanding what is going on at the best of times, is great to look at, and leaves you feeling unsettled. Tense movie!

Here’s a trailer, but I recommend going in blind if possible, and skipping this trailer. Gives away a tad too much, in my opinion.

The Vampire Diaries: Season 2 (2010 – 2011)

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*CONTAINS SPOILERS* 

What I liked: 

  • Seeing more parts of the past of the Salvatores.
  • Finally getting to meet the evil bitch Katherine.
  • Damon Salvatore. For all sorts of reasons, and not just science. He is such an immensely layered character, especially when you get to see how he was as a human, before he was turned, before Katherine broke his heart.
  • Caroline Forbes as a vampire. While she irritated the crap out of me as a human, as a vampire she is fiercely loyal, strong, more self-assured, much less whiny and quite fun and sassy. Who knew she just needed to be the undead?
  • The friendship between Caroline and Tyler. It really just works on so many levels, and she really makes Tyler a more tolerable person.
  • Elijah. His character is so… intense and incredibly interesting.
  • These Original vampires have so much potential to be awesome, or just downright entertaining. Klaus is crazy to boot though, but so fascinating.
  • Damon’s reaction to Katherine is priceless. He has been in love with her for 145 years, but to find out about her betrayal crushed him, and he has gone out of his way to block her out of his life, to shut down his feelings.

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What I didn’t like:

  • How many murders/disappearances per capita can a small town like Mystic Falls conceivably get away with before rocketing to the top of the most dangerous cities in America list? For reals man, people are just dying left, right, and centre.
  • Seriously, just because a person heals, doesn’t mean there isn’t blood left on the skin.
  • Katherine Pierce. Gosh, the woman is a nightmare.
  • The Jules/Mason arc that came and went. Seriously, there are better things out there to deal with. Plus Jules was the most annoying thing ever.

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Rating:
GRADE 8Sheesh. This was one hell of a busy season, but it was highly entertaining. Unlike the first season, this one hits the ground running and wastes no time searching desperately for momentum. From the off, we are dealing with Katherine finally making an appearance, and how Elena actually ties into everything, and we meet the Originals, the beginning of all vampire bloodlines, and that comes with its own fascinating story. Dramatic, left, right, and centre, of course, but it is good.

Caroline changing was really one of the better things – initially I was dismayed, because now we were never going to get rid of that selfish, needy, whiny bitch, but wow, the change is amazing because she has grown into a character I actually enjoy. While Tyler started really irritatingly in this season, his character changes so much, and a huge part of that is Caroline, and I like that. Matt Donovan is still a whiny child though.

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I was, again, a huge fan of watching Damon and Alaric together, they really are just besties that work. Constantly snippy, but always looking out for each other, it is great. Damon had some real deep character reveals here now, which makes one think back to when he was a human, and a much nicer soul, so different. Lacing that with a cocky bastard was destined to win points all round, and every now and then he lets his nice side out, but hides it so well. He really is a damaged, impulsive, selfish creature, and it is more concerning that Stefan and all his broody history, because Damon is so in your face about his flaws and doesn’t acknowledge a better side, whereas Stefan is so desperate to cling to humanity and not acknowledge the evil of his past.

Stefan is a character that I really enjoy. As I have said, he dedicates so much of his energy to denying himself and what he is, but it makes for a complex character, constantly living on the edge. He also truly loves Elena, and I like watching the two of them together, even though I am interested to see where this is all going to go. I appreciated this season tackling the question of Elena potentially turning, as it is something that had not been addressed, which is off considering her choice of partner.

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This season also spends a lot of time showing how Damon is actually falling for Elena, and how other people are picking up on it more. It works though, it does. I am not actually peeved with this love triangle because it is handled pretty decently, and I usually hate the freaking things. The first time Tyler turns is really sad, too, as you can see things will never be the same again, either. I do like the developments of things with him and Caroline, I was never convinced she should be with Matt.

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I am quite a fan of these new, strange Original vampires being introduced – this has immense amounts of potential to bring awesome to the table. Elijah is a character that fascinated me from the off, and Klaus? What an evil SOB! Like wow, he is just evil, not like a maybe or something, and he just embraces it, which is madness, but I love it. So refreshing. There is so much to explore concerning the Originals, and the bits that we have been given so far are really good. So looking forward to more of this, these Originals really do captivate the audience without fail. Great season, I seriously enjoyed every moment of it.

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