Monday, May 16, 2011

Movie Monday: Love Letters, Dean Koontz, Camp Counselors, a Musical, Gerard Butler, and Terrorists at Christmas

The weather in Kansas City has been absolutely crazy over the past week. I remember a week ago today, I was laying out on my back deck getting some color on my skin (and we were under a heat advisory for a couple days). Then the weather took a drastic change where I was dependent on a jacket to keep myself warm. Due to the coldness of the weather, I resorted in some movie watching, which six of them are featured in today's blog. I've got a nice blend of movies, some old and some new, some romantic comedies, action and science fiction- something for everybody!

Letters to Juliet

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and her fiance Victor (Gael Garcia Bernal) are vacationing in Italy. While Victor takes care of a few business matters, Sophie ventures around Verona and comes across a courtyard where women write letters to Juliet -from Shakespeare's famous play- seeking advice about love and relationships. She befriends the "Secretaries of Juliet," who respond to the letters. Sophie finds a letter over fifty years old and decides to respond to it. Before she knows it, she is on a journey with Claire (Vanessa Redgrave) and her grandson Charlie (Christopher Egan) to look for Lorenzo (Fabio Testi), Claire's long lost love.

In the world of predictable chick flicks, it was highly enjoyable. Discovering that Sophie is an aspiring writer was very pleasing to me, since I love seeing movies with characters that has the same career aspirations as myself. As a Shakespeare lover, I enjoyed learning about the wall in the courtyard. I could see myself working with the "Secretaries of Juliet." The movie also honed in on my inner hopeless romantic by showcasing the beauty of the city of Verona and the country-side of Italy. I know that if I want to feel inspired or need a night with love story movies, this movie will be one of my first choices! Rating 4 out of 5 stars


Sisters Lisa (Rose McGowan) and Jennifer (Joanna Going) find the town of Snowfield, Colorado eerily abandoned, or that's what it seems. They discover the townspeople are either dead or have gone missing, with the exception of Sheriff Hammond (Ben Affleck) and his two deputies (Liev Shreiber and Nicky Katt). As they investigate what is attacking the town, they recruit Dr. Flyte (Peter O'Toole) to assist. What they discover is something out of this world...

I'll admit it... I wanted to see this movie because it was referenced (a lot) in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the movie was based on a novel by Dean Koontz (which I've never read any of his work... maybe I need to start). As for a standalone movie, I was a little disappointed. It felt like, for a book to film adaptation, that they cut out too much of the story and it didn't execute as well as it should have. The acting ranged from decent to good, with Rose McGowan and Liev Schreiber as the best two (sorry Affleck... I've seen you do better acting). If I ever get around to reading the novel, I hope that it executes the story a hell of a lot better! Rating 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Friday the 13th (1980)

Camp Crystal Lake is in the midst of reopening years after a tragic accident in which a young boy named Jason drowned. As a group of young adults prepare for the campers to arrive, they settle into their cabins and enjoy each others company. However, someone doesn't like the idea of people on the property and starts killing the counselors, one by one.

I saw the remake of this film several months ago, expecting it to be not as good as the original. Now that I've seen the 1980 classic (On Friday the 13th, no less- I just had to!), I know that I was right. Since I have been playing "catch up" with 80's horror movies, I can definitely say that the decade I was born into produced some of the greatest horror movies of all time. There was enough backstory to understand why Mrs. Voorhees decided to attack the counselors (yes, major spoil alert but anyone who's seen Scream would have known that). What I really liked about this movie was that it didn't involve high school students (such a horror movie cliche) and that you never actually saw the killer in action (the camera was used to show Voorhees point of view when attacking people). Now that I've seen this, I need to start watching the sequels, where Jason is the one attacking people. Rating 4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a film director that is struggling to make his latest film come together just days before shooting begins. In order to get some inspiration, he seeks out his wife Luisa (Marion Cotillard), his mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz), his mother (Sophia Loren), his costume designer (Judi Dench), a whore from his childhood (Fergie), a journalist (Kate Hudson), and his muse (Nicole Kidman).

It took two tries to finally watch this movie from beginning to end. I got bored with it the first time, with good reason. The stage show may have won several Tony awards, but this film is less than to be desired. Many of the musical numbers were great, excellent even, but with a weak story to tell surrounding the numbers... yeah, it just didn't execute well as a feature film. I really hoped it would have been great. I was surprised that Kate Hudson had musical talents. I recommend that if you are going to see Nine to please see it in a concert hall and skip the movie. Rating 3 out of 5 stars

The Bounty Hunter

Milo (Gerard Butler) is a bounty hunter that discovers his next job is to bring in his ex-wife Nicole (Jennifer Aniston), who is a reporter that skips court to get details on a murder cover-up. Milo finds out pretty quickly that this bounty is not going to be easy, between Nicole trying to get away, a few loan sharks, and having to hide from the people responsible for the murder that Nicole has been researching.

This movie seemed like a predictable enough romantic comedy, and it was... for the most part. However, I think they went a tad overboard with sub-plots. Not only were they running away from people doing a murder cover-up, but Milo also had to deal with loan sharks for money he owed them from his gambling hobby. It just started to make the story too complicated for what should have been an easy-to-follow concept. There were a lot of really funny scenes and one-liners, so it was enjoyable in that aspect. I've just seen better adaptations of plots similar to this film. Rating 3 out of 5 stars

Die Hard

John McClane (Bruce Willis) is a New York police officer who is in Los Angeles to see his ex-wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and children. As he attends a Christmas party, a group of European terrorists, led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), take the building hostage. John escapes to another floor of the building, where he makes contact with the LAPD. It's up to John to communicate the activity inside the building to the police and FBI while also trying to save the hostages from danger by the terrorists.

Chandler Bing and Joey Tribbiani would be so proud of me for finally seeing this movie! It has action, suspense, and a lot of heart. What more could you get out of a movie like this? John McClane is a great action hero and uses his common sense when under pressure (with the exception of Hans faking his accent to gain trust... and a gun). I've tasted the Die Hard blood and I want more... Rating 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Until next week, my friends...

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