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Letterboxd Reviews

So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Movie Review - Killers

Killers (2010)
Starring Ashton Kutcher, Katherine Heigl, Tom Selleck, and Catherine O'Hara
Directed by Robert Luketic

Good Lord...Movies this awful don't come along too often.

Seeing as how I'm not a fan of either of the two leading actors in Killers, I'm not quite sure why I rented it, but I did and I forced myself to sit through the dreck.

Honestly, it's not even really worth talking about.  The characters are poorly developed, the script is paint-by-numbers bland, and the the direction is tv Movie of the Week style.  The whole thing is a mess.  The only thing saving this from a complete and epic failure is that I was moderately entertained by Tom Selleck and Catherine O'Hara as Katherine Heigl's parents.  That said, even they were saddled with a ridiculously bad subplot by the film's end.

I mean, let's face it.  Look at the poster to the left...is there anyone who actually thinks that the movie could be good based on that?  You've got Heigl going "This is a gun...I'm a woman...How do you work this darn thing?  Teeheehee...giggle giggle."  And then you've got Kutcher going, "Who is this prissy chick?  Why am I saddled with her?  Why am I even in movies?  Doesn't anyone know I can't act?"

Avoid at all costs.

The RyMickey Rating:  D-

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Movie Review - Waking Sleeping Beauty

Waking Sleeping Beauty (2010)
Directed by Don Hahn

Not that a full disclosure is needed for most of my readers, but I am an unabashed Disney nut.  With the exception of the teenage takeover of the Disney Channel, I pretty much love it all -- the movies, the theme parks...you name it, I'm a fan.

Also known to most, Beauty and the Beast is one of my absolute favorite films of all time.  Released in 1991, the film came about at that pivotal point in my childhood when I was beginning to understand the importance of "film" in general and first started to grasp the incredibly detailed work that went into creating an animated (or any type of celluloid) masterpiece.  Seeing as how the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty details the Disney animation renaissance from the mid-1980s through the 1994 release of The Lion King -- or, in other words, a detailed look at my movie-going life from age 6 to 14 -- this flick hits home for me in a way it certainly may not for you.  That being said, the documentary is well made and is an absolute must-see for any animation fan.

Walt Disney created the animated feature film with his release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and he certainly kept this genre going throughout his life.  However, after his death in 1966 and the release of The Jungle Book, animated films started to become second string to Disney's live action division. Films like The Aristocats, The Rescuers, and The Fox and the Hound aren't necessarily bad films, but they aren't fondly remembered in the illustrious Disney canon.  By the time 1985's The Black Cauldron rolled around, Disney's animation department was at odds with itself -- the old-time artists who worked with Walt were clashing a bit with the newer group of budding just-out-of-college animators.  

Not helping matters, the Disney company brass was in the midst of a bit of a shake-up.  Roy E. Disney, Walt's nephew longed to get the animation department back to its glory days and believed that it could be saved.  Newly appointed CEO Michael Eisner and COO Frank Wells sided with Roy in that regard, but head of the film division Jeffrey Katzenberger didn't have a huge amount of faith in the animators and found himself focusing more on the possible promotional aspects of films rather than the actual films themselves.  These four corporate honchos found themselves at odds with one another, creating a tug-of-war within the Disney company.  

Surprisingly for a film about Disney, but also released by Disney, the film doesn't exactly paint a perfect picture of the company.  The mid-1980s were a difficult time for all aspects of the Disney corporation.  While there's a "pat on the back" mentality on display in the film that the company got themselves out of the funk, the film also provides an incredibly interesting look at the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that go on at a major motion picture studio (even a motion picture studio as outwardly "pristine" as Disney).

In addition to providing insight into the behind-the-scenes corporate intrigue, Waking Sleeping Beauty is also a love story to the animators, directors, and composers who contributed to Disney's animation renaissance of the late 80's/early 90s.  The amount of work that goes into an animated film (be it Disney or any other) is astounding and this flick gives us just a tiny glimpse at the whole affair.  Placing a large focus on the brilliant lyricist Howard Ashman (whom Roy E. Disney calls a new generation "Walt" in the film), it becomes obvious that "song" and "animation" are two peas in a pod.  While the animators certainly played an enormous role in the success of Disney's animation renewal, Ashman played an integral part of revolutionizing the animation landscape.  One can only wonder what he would have brought to the table had he not passed away much too soon in 1991 prior to the release of Beauty and the Beast.

I could go on and on about little details of the film, but I'm going to spare everyone.  Needless to say, I feel like this film (made up completely of all archival footage and new voiceover interviews) was made for me.  And with that feeling comes the problem that I want to see so much more.  There's an extra feature on the dvd of a 12-minute portion of a lengthy Howard Ashman lecture on music and film -- I wanted to see the entire day-long speech in its entirety, not just 12 minutes.  That's how much the films of this era -- The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King -- mean to me in terms of shaping my love of Disney -- the company -- as a whole.  Waking Sleeping Beauty is probably not as good of a film as I think it is (it's probably much too one-sided for a documentary), but it's a film that hits close to home for me and for that very reason, it's a film that I'll find myself watching over and over again.

The RyMickey Rating: A-

Movie Review - Everybody's Fine

Everybody's Fine (2009)
Starring Robert DeNiro, Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale, and Melissa Leo 
Directed by Kirk Jones

Everybody's Fine was a big failure at the box office last holiday season, but after watching I can't understand why.  Sure, it's overly dramatic, but it's a lovely little film featuring some nice performances from all of the lead actors, particularly Robert DeNiro who has certainly slummed his way through movies in the last decade or so.

It's been a few months since Frank Goode's (DeNiro) wife has passed away and he is eagerly looking forward to a get-together with all of his grown adult children.  However, when they all bail on him, Frank decides to travel around the country and visit each one, hoping to reconnect with them and become a greater part of their lives.  

That's the story in a nutshell.  It's simple and it's kind of sweet and it surprisingly works.  Director and screenwriter Kirk Jones has crafted a really lovely film in both appearance and substance.  While he admittedly gets a tad heavy-handed towards the end, it never felt too sugary or overly sentimental.

The reason for that, in part, is the pleasant and understated performance from Mr. DeNiro.  In recent years, DeNiro has veered way over-the-top whether that be in the godawful Fockers movies, Analyze That, or pretty much anything else in his recent oeuvre.  Here, DeNiro throws aside the caricature of his former actorly self that he's been playing for the last decade and instead is simply an aging, hard-working father who misses his wife and wants to form a better relationship with his kids.  It was actually a surprising departure for DeNiro and a track I'd like to see him continue on in years to come. 

DeNiro is joined by the lovely Kate Beckinsale as his eldest daughter and Sam Rockwell as his eldest son and both of them make the most of the roles.  Beckinsale, in particular, surprised me.  Not that I've even seen the Underworld series of films, but that's what I associate her most with.  I keep forgetting that she gave a bravura performance in 2008's Nothing But the Truth (rent it...trust me), and while her performance in this flick didn't blow me away, it certainly made me remember that the lady can actually act.  [And, although the less said the better, even Drew Barrymore didn't annoy me in this as much as she usually can, although she is playing the same exact character she plays in every other movie...seriously, how is she still popular?]

I honestly watched this because it was the holiday season and I remember there being a tree on the poster...don't be fooled into thinking this is a holiday movie, however.  It's not in the slightest.  Nevertheless, despite that misleading advertising, Everybody's Fine is a flick that surpassed my middling expectations and actually won me over quite a bit with its charm.

The RyMickey Rating: B

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Movie Review - Labyrinth

Labyrinth (1986)
Starring Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie
Directed by Jim Henson
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

I don't know how I never watched this as a child of the 80s, but I never did.  I must admit that I'm a little upset I've waited so long to partake of this trippy flick, because, for the most part, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Labyrinth is the weirder, drugged-up cousin of Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz (and, let's be honest, those too stories are already on the nutty side), complete with Jim Henson muppetry magic and a freakish performance from David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King who has fallen in love with the teenaged Sarah (Jennifer Connelly).  As part of his scheme, Jareth kidnaps Sarah's infant brother and forces her through an elaborate labyrinth in order to find him, seemingly hoping that Sarah will long leave the real world to spend her life with him in the strange realm he calls home.

The obvious high points of the film are the elaborate, intricate sets and the fantastic puppetry from Jim Henson Studios.  Both are of an amazing caliber and make the film certainly worth watching.  Admittedly, everything else about the film -- especially the overacting from David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly -- is simply middle-of-the-road, but oddly enough, it doesn't really matter in a film like this.  Films like Labyrinth are about whimsy, charm, and magic and Labyrinth has all these in spades.  One is able to look past the flaws and simply enjoy the film as it unfolds.  Is it a masterpiece?  Certainly not, but it's a film that I absolutely plan on visiting again sooner rather than later.  Sometimes, simply being "fun" is reason enough to like a flick.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

Movie Review - Heaven Can Wait

Heaven Can Wait (1978)
Starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, James Mason, Charles Grodin, and Dyan Cannon
Directed by Warren Beatty and Buck Henry
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

This is just one of those random movies that's been on the "maybe I'll watch that someday" list and that day has come.  Warren Beatty is pro football quarterback Joe Pendleton who is poised to take his team to the Super Bowl.  Unfortunately, a car accident brings Joe into the afterlife.  However, in the limbo between heaven and earth, Joe discovers that his guardian angel pulled him out of his body too quickly -- Joe simply wasn't scheduled to die yet.  So, it is decided that Joe can return to earth in the body of someone else.  This someone else just happens to be rich multi-millionaire Leo Farnsworth who is in a bit of trouble of his own involving both his wife (Dyan Cannon) and his executive secretary (Charles Grodin) attempting to kill him in order to carry out their torrid affair and an angry British woman (Julie Christie) who is upset that Farnsworth is building an oil refinery in her town.  All the while, Joe longs to be the football quarterback he was in his former body.

An odd summary, I realize, but the movie's odd, too.  There's a lot of everything thrown in here -- comedy, drama, romance -- and the jumbled summary is indicative of a movie that doesn't quite know what it wants to be.  None of the aforementioned elements really takes precedence over any other so you never get a great idea of the tone that co-director-co-screenwriter Beatty was going for.  Things aren't properly balanced and it hurts the movie to a certain extent.

I like Warren Beatty as an actor and I like him here as well.  He's certainly charming and has a nice presence onscreen. Aiding him is Charles Grodin and Dyan Cannon as the conniving couple attempting to kill off Leo Farnsworth in order to gain access to his fortune.  Unfortunately, the biggest letdown in the film is Julie Christie whose romantic subplot with Beatty's Farnsworth is absolutely ridiculous and has no reason for even existing.  It's a subplot that is completely unnecessary and weighs the movie down.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world..."

"...I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport.  General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that.  It seems to me that love is everywhere.  Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends.  When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love.  If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion...love actually is all around."


"They're weirdos, Fozzie..."

"...but they're nice weirdos."

(Side Note: A Muppet Family Christmas is, by far, my favorite Christmas tv special ever.  Check it out on dvd if you've never seen it.)

"I took a shower..."

"...washing every part of my body with soap; including all my major crevices; including in between my toes and in my belly button which I never did before but sort of enjoyed."

"I am not going to New York..."

"...to meet some woman who could be a crazy, sick lunatic.  Didn't you see Fatal Attraction?  Well, I did, and it scared the shit out of me.  It scared the shit out of every man in America."

"Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to..."

"...Don't you see?  It's not just Kris that's on trial.  It's everything he stands for.  It's kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles."

"Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know..."

"...who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem.  Maybe Lucy's right.  Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest."

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Only one thing in the world..."

"...could've dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window."

"You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch..."

"...with a nauseous super naus."

"My mother always told me..."

"...to never eat singing food."

In the spirit of the holiday season, throughout the next 36 hours, I'll be posting images (and an odd quote to go with them) from some of my favorite holiday films.  Christmas films, in general, have a unique quality in that you can re-watch them every year and not get tired of them.  I'm not quite sure how they manage to do that, but it's true.

A Merry Christmas to all (screw being politically correct) and I'll attempt to get the blog back to a normal pace in the next week (there's quite a few releases I need to get myself to).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Movie Review - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010)
Starring Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, and Sven-Bertil Taube
Directed by Niels Arden Oplev
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Much talk has been made on the arthouse circuit for the films that make up Millenium Trilogy, based off of a very successful series of books by Stieg Larsson.  The first flick, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, did quite well for a foreign film here in the States and the Swedish mystery certainly has me intrigued to see what happens in the two follow-up films.

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) has just been convicted of libel against a well-known entrepreneur.  Before he has to head to jail, he's hired by Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube), an elderly gentleman who longs to discover who killed his niece decades earlier.  Mikael agrees to take the case (if only to get his mind off of the fact that he's going to have to go to jail in a few months), but unbeknown to him, his computers are being hacked by Lisbeth Salandar (Noomi Rapace).  I'll be honest...this whole subplot is a little shaky to me...I'm unsure in actuality why Lisbeth was hired by a company to hack Mikael's computer, but, nonetheless, she soon finds herself intrigued in Mikael's investigation and eventually contacts him in order to provide assistance in the case.  Eventually, the two meet and begin to search together for the murderer.

While the plot doesn't sound all that interesting on paper (or in this case, on the computer), it certainly never bored me.  In fact, the nearly 150 minutes flew by.  Bits and pieces of the mystery were revealed at the right moments to continue to provide suspense.  Still, there were scenes in the film that had me questioning why they were there.  There are some fairly intense moments involving Lisbeth prior to her meeting with Mikael that, while certainly providing shock value, were unnecessary.  I realize that in the grand scheme of things, these difficult scenes were in the film in order to create a more well-rounded character and to provide some background for what makes the rough-around-the edges Lisbeth the person whom she is, but despite the fact that the moments were well-produced, they stood out from the rest of the film (and not in a good way).

Nonetheless, just wanted to put this review up rather quickly (hence the probable lack of coherence), but one should note that this is a nice little mystery that is certainly well worth a watch.  It should also be noted that the main mystery is self-contained to this film (or at the very least appeared to be self-contained to this film as I have no idea what happens in the next flicks), so if you give this one a go and don't care for, you won't need to watch the other two films in the trilogy.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Movie Review - Dead Snow

Dead Snow (2009)
Directed by Tommy Wirkola
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

While Scream was certainly a successful film (if not a completely successful franchise), it started this idea of horror films feeling the need to be self-referential in order to be comedic.  Apparently, this new concept doesn't just apply to American films as the German flick Dead Snow falls into this new trap as well.  In its attempt to be funny, it fails miserably and it doesn't generate nearly enough thrills with its ludicrous premise to counteract the supposed "comedy."

This is probably the most ridiculous zombie movie I've ever seen.  Seven friends are vacationing in the snow-covered mountains in Germany.  They soon discover (thanks to one of those ever-present creepy old men who provide exposition and backstory in some horror flicks) that the area was once home to some Nazi soldiers who were forced to leave the town they were inhabiting when the residents had had enough of their politics.  The Nazis moved to the mountains and somehow turned into zombies -- zombies that are completely cognizant of their pasts and who maintain their soldier-like demeanor even as the undead.  Seriously, if one wasn't told that these guys were zombies, you'd never know...you'd just think they had frostbite and drank some Four Loko which aided in their fast-paced stumbling.

Despite the gushing blood and Monty Python-esque amputations, the film is just ridiculous.  And the ending (which I'm going to spoil a bit in the next few lines) just didn't sit well with me at all.  Do I really want to watch some heinous Nazi zombies winning the day and killing off all these people?  There's something innately wrong about these zombies killing people.  It honestly made me really uncomfortable in the end -- not because of the horror, but because it just seemed wrong for the story to play out the way it did.

The RyMickey Rating:  D-

Movie Review - The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)
Starring Annabella Sciorra, Rebecca De Mornay, Matt McCoy, Ernie Hudson, and Julianne Moore
Directed by Curtis Hanson
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Completely mindless entertainment that falls into that late 80s/early 90s genre of adult suspense pics that isn't all that common today.  You'll remember this was the era of Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct, and although The Hand That Rocks the Cradle isn't based in sexuality as those previous two pics were, it has a tone reminiscent of those flicks.

Basically, Claire and Michael Bartel (Annabella Sciorra and Matt McCoy) are a happily married couple with a lovely young child.  Expecting another baby, Claire visits a new ob-gyn's office where he sexually molests her (lovely, I know).  When Claire accuses the doctor, he kills himself.  This, of course, doesn't sit too well with his wife (Rebecca De Mornay) who takes it upon herself to wreak havoc on the Bartel family by taking on the persona of the lovely Peyton Flanders and becoming their nanny.  Its safe to say Peyton's not exactly the sanest gal and things may not turn out so well for the Bartels.

Is this movie cheesy?  Yes.  Does it "feel" like it was made in the 90s?  Yes.  Still, I enjoyed the flick.  It's not gonna win any awards in my book, but it was a decent 105 minutes and Rebecca De Mornay is so over-the-top that she makes it moderately fun to watch.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Movie Review - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Aubrey Plaza, Mae Whitman, Anna Kendrick, and Jason Schwartzman
Directed by Edgar Wright

I'm not a video game guy.  [When I was younger, those gaming systems weren't allowed in my household...until my brothers came along.  The first child was more protected, I guess.]  They're simply not my cup of tea.  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is (of course) a movie, but it's also like a giant real-life video game that, much to my pleasant surprise, is packed with visual pizzazz and style that makes this film a unique experience.

All you need to know about the film is that Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) falls in love with really cool chick Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who just happens to have seven evil exes with superpowers.  In order to be with Ramona, Scott must utilize his knowledge of comic books, indie music, and video games to defeat the exes and win himself the girl.

What makes the film ingenious is director and co-screenwriter Edgar Wright's visual style.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it, Wright has created a movie version of a video game/comic book complete with pop-up high scores, split screens, and old school Batman-esque "THWAP!"s and "BAM!"s running across the screen whenever someone gets hit.  At first, I thought maybe the film would fall into the problem I have with a movie like 300 which I felt looked too fake and screamed "LOOK AT ME!  DON'T I LOOK AWESOME?"  However, somehow Wright manages to make the flick never be just about the visuals because the characters are actually pretty darn nifty, too.

There isn't a single character or actor that I disliked in this film.  From all of Ramona's exes to all of Scott's friends, the characters are surprisingly unique (even though many are based off of standard "indie/grunge" clichés).  To accompany the characters, the acting across the board is top notch, with Wright bringing together one of the best acting ensembles this year.  There's not even really a point in delving into any specifics because I really liked every single person in the cast.

I'd like to say that Scott Pilgrim vs. the World isn't all that ingenious simply because it has a basis in video games -- an entertainment genre that just doesn't do a thing for me.   But there's no denying that I found the whole film incredibly clever and a joy to watch...even with the presence of Michael Cera whom I typically despise.  Even though this review falls into my typical "I don't know how to write incredibly positive reviews" posts, don't let my lack of adequate words deter you from watching this flick.  

The RyMickey Rating:  A-

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Movie Review - Black Swan

Black Swan (2010)
Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder, and Barbara Hershey
Directed by Darren Aronofsky

I don't really know where to begin with Black Swan.  There are things like the direction and Natalie Portman's performance that I truly admired in Darren Aronofsky's character study of a tortured ballerina.  And then there's a script which, for the first two-thirds of the film, is riddled with clichés and painfully silly dialog that not even a talented director and actress can overcome.  While I do believe that Aronofsky is well aware of what I perceive as the script's problems (not that he would agree with that assessment) and attempts to play them to a full-tilt almost camp-like tone, the end product is flawed.

After struggling for a few years as part of a prestigious ballet troupe in New York City, Nina (Natalie Portman) finally seizes her chance to make a name for herself in her craft when the group's director, Thomas (Vincent Cassel) gives the young woman an opportunity to play the lead in his re-imagining of the classic ballet Swan Lake.  As the lead in the ballet, Nina must take on duel roles of both the white swan and black swan, with the former lending itself to the beautiful gracefulness that one typically associates with ballet and the latter adopting a more loose, aggressive, and powerful style.  Thomas is quite pleased with the softer side of Nina, but feels that her technique for the black swan is not nearly as gritty as he would like.  While he tries to prod Nina into exploring her inner self (which apparently only involves pleasuring oneself sexually), the young ballerina slowly begins to break down.  Feeling pressure from both her overbearing mother (Barbara Hershey) who treats Nina as if she were a little girl and Lilly, the sexy and talented newcomer to the group (Mila Kunis) whose wild, heavy-drinking ways are the complete opposite of the uptight and quiet Nina, Nina starts to go a little cuckoo (which is a completely different type of bird from a swan).

In and of itself, the story is fine.  The problem lies in both the dialog (which is so childish and stilted that there were moments I chuckled to myself) and the character of Nina who never really develops any characteristic other than "neurotic."  Even at the beginning of the film, Nina's timidity is too extreme to be normal and as the film progresses, she just gets increasingly more crazy.  Sure, the kookiness is a valid characteristic for the character, but there's nothing else there for Natalie Portman to latch onto as an actress despite the fact that multiple attempts are made to blatantly tell us that Nina is a fractured soul.  If she's so fractured, where are all these other elements besides "CRAZY" that make Nina who she is?

That said, Portman latches onto that craziness and gives the role her all.  Although, as evidenced by the previous paragraph, there's not nearly the depth that I thought was going to be present.  Portman is at her best in scenes where she's paired up with the lovely and sexy (and surprisingly talented) Mila Kunis and the frighteningly "Mommie Dearest-y" Barbara Hershey.  Both Kunis and Hershey are simply playing stereotypes to the hilt, but they embrace those clichés with gusto and make Portman's Nina an infinitely more interesting character.

As a director, Darren Aronofsky is certainly someone whom I admire.  Requiem for a Dream is one of the very few movies that I have given an 'A' to on this blog and it's a film that is probably in my Top 20 of All Time.  The Wrestler also was quite good and, similar to that film which was a tour de force character study for Mickey Rourke, Black Swan attempts to be a showcase for Portman.  Aronofsky certainly has talent -- there are scenes here that held me riveted...and then there was some insanely horrid dialog that ruined things.  But still, Aronsofsky has an eye for interesting visuals.  One scene that had me particularly entranced takes place in a night club and as the strobe lights begin to flash, Aronofsky simply pops up a completely different image with each flash of the strobes.  Portman...then Kunis...then the two together...et cetera.  That scene alone was sexier than any of the others in the film -- and this film certainly has a few sex scenes (although I'm sure a few will be very disappointed by the complete lack of nudity).

Anyway, I've rambled long enough and the more that I'm rambling, the more I'm actually disliking the film.  All that said, I do feel like this is a film I want to watch again without a doubt...and I honestly feel like the next time around, my thoughts could be completely different.  While I don't see this becoming the Best Film of 2010, I can see it rising up in the ratings.  Then again, I can also see it plummeting precipitously if I discover that it seems even emptier than I think it is now.  In the end, Black Swan is too many things and too few things at the same time.  It's a horror film, a psychological drama, and an intense character study...but it's also a character study with a complete lack of characteristics to be studying.  It's difficult to say that the film was one-note simply because I appreciate the direction of Aronofsky, but when you remove all the fluff around the edges of the story, there's really not nearly as much depth in the main character as the filmmakers would lead you to believe.  

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

Friday, December 10, 2010

Movie Review - Oceans

Oceans (2010)
Narrated by Pierce Brosnan
Directed by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud

Last year, DisneyNature took on Earth and this year they're tackling Oceans.  While the film looks beautiful and contains many joyful images, I couldn't help but think that this film had a decidedly more "stagey" feeling than its predecessor despite the former actually carrying more of a storyline than this newest release which really feels like a bunch of nature clips simply thrown together without any sense of an overarching grand story.

The biggest fault in the documentary is that unlike Earth which took three animal families -- polar bears, elephants, and whales -- and focused on their struggles to survive interspersing their journeys with little clips of other creatures, Oceans is simply little clips of creatures rather than focusing on any particular sea animals.  I don't know if they simply felt limited by the sea creatures.  Mammals innately exude a sense of family and caring for their young...fish, not so much.  

So, instead of a story, it's just snippets of neat images without a bit of information to go along with them.  I thought Earth lacked an educational aspect, but Oceans was even worse in that department.  While Pierce Brosnan's voiceover surprisingly didn't lull me to sleep, he wasn't given anything to say to go with the rather fascinating images.  At the very least, if you weren't going to give me a story to follow, at least tell me something about those darn sea lions.  Yes, they are really cute when they yawn, but that's not enough to hold my interest.

Overall, while the film looked pretty, Oceans was an overall disappointment in that there was really no point to the whole affair.

The RyMickey Rating:  D+

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Movie Review - Robin Hood

Robin Hood (2010)
Starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, and Oscar Isaac 
Directed by Ridley Scott

There was much talk when this version of Robin Hood was released in theaters last May.  People felt like the Robin Hood story had been told one too many times.  While that may be true, I was willing to give this version a chance.  The first act of the film had me decidedly won over and I was actually quite intrigued.  That fervor didn't last, however, as the film drifted into a silly romance about thirty minutes in that bored the heck out of me and had me itching for the thing to be over.

The basic old standby summary of Robin Hood is that he's a guy in medieval England who steals from the rich and gives to the poor.  In Ridley Scott's version, while Robin certainly assists the poor, he's not stealing from the rich.  When the film begins, we discover that Robin (Russell Crowe) is aiding the Crown in a fight against France on the foreign country's soil.  When England's king is killed in battle, Robin and three of his friends decide to skedaddle back home -- they've fought for a decade and long to get back to regular life.  Along the way to the French coast, they encounter the English royal guard who, while attempting to get back home to announce the death of the king, get attacked by French soldiers who just so happen to be assisted by English traitor Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong).  Robin and his men manage to stop the attack, but the entire guard is killed, so Robin must bring word of the king's death to their compatriots.  

And it's at this point that the film loses me.  Robin ends up traveling to some village where he meets Marion (Cate Blanchett).  They end up falling in love which leads to a ridiculously silly final battle scene when Marion takes up the sword and, like the stereotypical way in many films, causes more havoc than good, forcing Robin to put himself in more danger because of her.

The film isn't an overwhelming letdown -- there are positives.  Crowe portrays Robin as both powerful and caring and he was actually pleasant to watch.  I often find him quite boring and unemotional, and while that's kind of the case here as well, it worked for this character for some reason.  Also good is Ridley Scott's direction of the battle sequences.  The opening thirty minutes are one battle after another and they're all staged rather well.  While he's not averse to using the quick cuts of many of his contemporaries, he doesn't employ them too often to become annoying.  Additionally, the final battle is quite good, too, although it's marred by an absolutely ridiculous last shot involving a impossibly perfectly shot arrow that had me laughing when it certainly wasn't supposed to.  For that I fault both Scott and the incredibly silly screenwriter for somehow thinking that would play well onscreen.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment in the film is the reliance on the romance between Robin and Marion to carry the film's plot.  There was not a moment where I believed that Crowe and Blanchett had any inkling of chemistry.  Sure, that's partly their fault, but this lack of connection between the characters is also due to screenwriter Brian Helgeland.  Their romantic "journey" was laughable and not the least bit interesting or surprising.

You could certainly do worse than this version of Robin Hood, but there's not enough here for me to recommend it.

The RyMickey Rating:  C-

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Movie Review - After.Life

After.Life (2010)
Starring Christina Ricci, Justin Long, and Liam Neeson
Directed by Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
***Currently Streaming on Netflix***

A really awful movie that goes to show that Liam Neeson (like most moderately successful actors) isn't above wasting away in a film for a paycheck.

Anna (Ricci) is a school teacher who is involved in a tragic car accident.  Following the crash, she wakes up in a funeral home owned by Eliot Deacon (Neeson).  Anna is insistent that she isn't dead and that Eliot is holding her captive, however Eliot tries to convince her that she has definitely moved on to the afterlife and he is simply a man who is able to talk to the dead, helping their souls move on to their next stage.  Whether he's some type of medium or a murderer doesn't really matter because there's not a bit of suspense in the flick.

I can't fault the actors -- Ricci, Neeson, and Justin Long are all adequate.  I can however fault the director and co-writer Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo.  I hate to keep using this as a crutch critique, but After.Life looked like a horrible SyFy channel movie.  If there wasn't nudity and a few F-bombs thrown into the mix, that's right where this would belong (I'm sure the channel has picked up the rights to air it in the upcoming years).  Everything about this film looked and felt generic.  There wasn't an intriguing shot in the whole thing.  The score was incredibly overpowering and created whatever "suspense" there was rather than just adding to the suspense created by the visuals.

I wasted my time on it only because of Neeson...105 minutes I can't get back.  That being said, if you're really into incredibly pale, uncomfortably skinny, corpsey-looking female nudity then this film's for you.  [Side Note:  What's up with the period in the title?  After.Life?  Ridiculous.]

The RyMickey Rating:  D-

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Theater Review - Private Lives

Private Lives
Written by Noël Coward
Directed by Warner Shook
Where: Studio Theater at the Roselle Center for the Arts
(University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware)

I haven't been a huge head-over-heels fan of Noël Coward in the past.  In fact, the University of Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players (REP)/Professional Theater Training Program (PTTP)'s previous foray into Coward - Hay Fever - didn't win me over (not for the company's lack of trying, however).  Because of that, I was less than psyched to see another Coward production.

Let's just say that Coward redeemed himself in my eyes with this one.  Private Lives is a delightful comedy that allows four actors to shine and elevate Coward's rather frivolous play into a wonderful evening of theater.

Calling the play "frivolous" isn't meant to be an insult.  The fact of the matter is that Private Lives really isn't about a whole lot.  I'm sure someone can find deep meanings in it (as one could in anything), but it's really just a tale of two married couples -- Elyot & Sibyl Chase and Victor & Amanda Prynne -- who happen to vacationing in adjacent rooms at the same hotel in France for their honeymoons.  In and of itself, not all that funny.  The hilarity comes from the fact that Elyot and Amanda have been previously married to one another and it's entirely possible that their rocky relationship may not be finished yet, much to the chagrin of their respective spouses.

What elevates this presentation of Private Lives is the quartet of actors that inhabit four distinct characters  each with their own quirks and idiosyncricies.  REP performers Michael Gotch and Carine Montbertrand have each remarkably headlined their own shows in the past (I Am My Own Wife and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, respctively) and putting these two talented performers together doesn't disappoint.  As the divorced couple who perhaps get turned on by their dysfunctional past history, Gotch and Montbertrand (as always) are a pleasure to watch, excelling at both physical comedy and verbal barbs.

However, it's not just the REP performers that make the most of the material.  The PTTP's Meaghan Sullivan and Andy Nagraj prove that there's a reason they made it into the University of Delaware's well-respected theater program.  These two could have easily been left in the dust by the talent of Gotch and Montbertrand, but there are moments where they steal the show.  While their characters Sibyl and Victor are perhaps less-developed than Elyot and Amanda, it doesn't stop Sullivan and Nagraj from making the most of their roles.  The final scene which places their characters front and center was wonderful, hilarious, and a great way to end the evening.

Once again, I'll sound like a broken record, but the technical aspect of this REP production is top of the line.  Wonderful sets, lovely costumes, and a pleasant soundtrack elevate the play to another level.  Kudos also to the stage crew who take center stage during the two intermissions having to both change the sets and clean up after the chaos that ensues.

Although I may be wrong, the REP's website says the play is unfortunately sold out for the remainder of its run.  But you never know...a call to the box office may yield something for you.  If it's possible, I highly recommend checking out this production.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Movie Review - A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
Starring Christian Bale, Calista Flockhart, Dominic West, Anna Friel, Rupert Everett, David Strathairn, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Kline, and Michelle Pfeiffer
Directed by Michael Hoffman

I liked this movie more before I watched a recent stage production of Shakespeare's lighthearted comedy.  However, after watching the Bard's words performed live onstage, the movie's faults began to surface and one begins to realize that watching this many "celebrities" perform Shakespeare makes you focus more on the stars (and their lackluster acting) than the actual story.

I'm not going to delve into a summary (that's what sparknotes.com is for when it comes to Shakespeare's works), but I'll simply say that A Midsummer Night's Dream tells the tale of the meeting of the human world and fairy world.  Wacky mayhem (at least wacky in terms of Shakespeare) ensues.  One portion of the tale deals with young lovers while another looks at a lower class group of actors trying to put on a play for the upper class.  The young lovers side (for the most part) works, but the "play within a play" aspect kind of fails.

Christian Bale and Dominic West are both capable of performing Shakespeare's words as the two men who are vying for Hermia's affections.  Anna Friel as Hermia is far and away the best actor in the film and anytime she was onscreen, it made me want to watch her now-cancelled tv show Pushing Daisies.  

While those three young actors fare well, the "bigger" stars at the time of the film's release -- Calista Flockhart, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Kevin Kline -- aren't as successful at relaying Shakespeare's words.  Kline, in particular, just didn't work for me.  Watching this and then watching the play made me dislike Kline's take on the comedic character of Nick Bottom even more.  Kline goes over-the-top and while that works onstage, it doesn't onscreen.  

The film looks pretty and rich, and, in the end, it's certainly not a bad Shakespeare adaptation.  Still, the back-to-back viewing of A Midsummer Night's Dream on film and then stage made me realize that I think the stage may be the best place to view the Bard's work.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Book Review - The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies

The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies
by Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow

This is one of those coffee table books (or bathroom readers if you're so inclined) that you pick up every now and then, read a little bit, put it down for weeks on end, then pick it back up again...only to finish nearly a year after you started it.  

Those of you that live in the Philly area and have some knowledge of Philly sports may well be aware of Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow, co-authors of The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies.  Didinger is the go-to expert on all things Eagles in the town and finds himself popping up on multiple radio shows and television post-game wrap-ups.  Macnow is the mid-day guy on the local sports radio station WIP and I really enjoy listening to him.  Yeah, he's got the Philly toughness to him, but he also seems like a genuinely nice guy.  Plus, if I remember correctly (and as this book would seemingly verify), he really likes movies.  For a while there, I think he was running some weekly movie-watching club on his radio show.

So anyway...the book lists what Didinger and Macnow call the 100 Greatest Sports Movies of All Time.  Out of the 100, I've seen 20, so a whopping one-fifth.  The duo aren't God's gift to literature, but they're enjoyable to read (kinda like this blogger, I'd hope).  They throw in some witty asides and humor that hit home the fact that these are just regular joes who enjoy sports and movies.

The best part of the book is when the duo steps away from discussing and reviewing the actual films themselves.  Interviews with celebs and sports guys like Dennis Quaid (The Rookie) and Vince Papale (the inspiration for Invincible) are insightful and fun.  Additionally, their breakaways to discuss things like "The Worst Sports Sequels Ever Made" and "Athletes Who Could Not Act" are nice respites from the film analysis.

A decent book that would satisfy the sports or movie lover on your Christmas list.  Nothing mind-blowing, but any 100 Best Sports Movie list that contains both Best in Show and Cool Runnings is alright with me.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Movie Review - 127 Hours

127 Hours (2010)
Starring James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, and Clémance Poésy
Directed by Danny Boyle

I don't get choked up too often.  For some reason or another, as 127 Hours came to a close, my eyes welled up a bit.  No tears flowed, but the true life nature of this story got to me for some reason.  Of course, a movie making you get emotional in that manner is always a good thing and Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle's latest is a winner and one of the best films I've seen in 2010.

Based on the true story of Aron Ralston, James Franco portrays the title character, an adventure-seeking nature lover who, while hiking alone through a canyon in Utah finds himself trapped under a fallen boulder.  It's him...and a boulder...for about eighty minutes.  Reminscent of Tom Hanks' turn in Cast Away, this film rests solely on Franco's shoulders acting-wise and the young talent delivers in spades.  Despite a somewhat shaky start (which I'll discuss in a bit), once Franco gets trapped, I was completely riveted.  Franco's playing two different sides of Ralston here -- a cocky adventurer who feels nothing can harm him shifts quite well into an extremely right-minded logical guy who needs to stay strong in order to survive his horrific ordeal.  Both sides are believable and both sides are executed perfectly by Franco who should be a strong contender for Best Actor at this year's Oscars.

Of course, with a film like this, direction is extremely important considering that the film is literally just a guy stuck underneath of a rock, and Danny Boyle delivers.  While Slumdog Millionaire, while a good film, was perhaps overrated, Boyle's Oscar-winning direction was the star of that film to me.  Here, Boyle ceratinly takes a back seat to Franco.  Still, his clever direction which consists of his trademark quick cuts interspersed with moments of much-needed calm shows true talent.

That being said, the one problem that I had with the film lies a bit in the direction.  The opening scenes screamed "PRETENSION" to me.  The quick cuts and split screens that Boyle employed in the introductory moments really had me despising the film for the first five minutes.  I honestly was kind of dreading the whole experience.  However, things came around and everything fell into place quickly and became a film that I'd absolutely like to watch again.

Beyond the direction and the acting, the film works because Boyle (and his co-screenwriter Simon Beaufoy) cleverly take us into Aron's mind by giving the audience a peek at his dreams and water-deprived hallucinations.  These little asides not only give the viewer a break from the intense feeling of being trapped with Aron, but they also make us relate more to this guy.  It may seem simple, but flashing back to scenes of Aron as a youngster with his mother, father, and sister or scenes with his ex-girlfriend help to shape Aron into a full character.  Had these moments not been included, I really feel the movie would have fallen flat.

[SPOILER ALERT from here on out, although if you know anything about this movie, you're probably 100% aware of what I'm about to discuss.]  Much has been made about the infamous scene in which Aron cuts off his own arm to free himself from the boulder.  I don't quite know why it would be so faint-inducing as has been reported.  However, much like I found myself shockingly emotionally attached to the character, I imagine that may be the reason it's difficult for some people to watch.  Like me, they'd grown to relate to Aron and became oddly invested in his struggle to survive.  As I said above, this movie worked for me much more than I expected it to and I hope to see it get nominted for quite a bit in the upcoming months.

The RyMickey Rating:  A- 

Friday, December 03, 2010

Theater Review - A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Sanford Robbins
Where: Thompson Theater at the Roselle Center for the Arts
(University of Delaware, Newark, DE)
When: Friday, December 3, 2010

At the start of the University of Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players (REP)/Professional Theater Training Program (PTTP)'s season, I was a little worried.  The combination of the professional actors and the students wasn't quite gelling.  However, with last month's Our Town and December's all-too-brief run of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, any and all of my anxieties about the mix of the two troupes have been quashed.  Granted it's been probably a decade since I've last seen a Shakespearean play performed live, but what I saw opening night was a group of actors (and a director) who made the Bard's lighthearted words resonate in a world that no longer speaks using "thou" and "thus."

Going into this play, I felt like I needed to study for it.  I've always felt that way with Shakespeare, whether it be when watching a movie or play based on his works.  For this experience, I popped in the dvd of the 1999 version of the play (a review will be forthcoming).  While I enjoyed the flick, I wasn't overly enthused by the material.  [I don't really remember reading the play in my college Shakespeare class, but I very well might have and didn't remember it.]  In particular, I felt that the last act in which a motley crew of workmen put on a play for the upper class bourgeiosie (for lack of a better word) fell terribly flat.  

Somehow, much to my amazement, watching the last act performed onstage this evening was like a complete 180-degree turn from the film.  It worked...and it worked surprisingly well, providing many laugh-out-loud moments, particularly thanks to the wonderful performance from Stephen Pelinski as the weaver Bottom (but more on the acting in a bit).  Seeing Shakespeare performed live adds an extra dimension to his words that we don't get in film.  The communal experience of watching it with others (as Shakespeare would have wanted) elevates the dialog to another level.

Of course, I'm sure that not every Shakespearean stage production works, but this one does in part because of the wonderful actors from both the REP and the PTTP who now work so well together that it's difficult to even tell the difference between the two troupes.  As mentioned above, REP actor Stephen Pelinski becomes the star of the show -- of course, it helps that Bottom is a showy role and the most comedic of the bunch.  Pelinski manages to make Shakespearean humor resonate with a modern audience thanks to his inflections and mannerisms.  Also stellar are PTTP performers Jasmine Bracey and Ben Charles as Hippolyta/Titania and Philostrate/Puck, respectively.  I singled both these actors out in my review of Our Town and I'll do the same here.  Bracey takes on her duel roles with gusto and strength that is necessary to make her characters believable (or as believable as a headstrong fairy queen can be).  Charles gets to show off his acrobatic skills in ways that I won't spoil here, but this role is a completely different one from his George in Our Town and it once again shows what I love about the REP/PTTP theater experience -- watching the same group of actors inhabit incredibly different roles from one production to the next.  Kudos also to the REP's Mic Matarrese and the PTTP's Sara Griffin and Matthew Simpson for delivering stand-out performances.

With some wonderful costuming (as is seemingly customary in these UD shows) and a lovely scenic design by Takeshi Kata which, while minimalist in some ways, is perhaps the most beautiful and avant garde of any REP production yet, the technical aspects continue to shine here.  My only real qualm with the production is that as I sat in the back row of the balcony, I did miss a bit of the action that took place on a cleverly extended T-shaped stage.  Perhaps moving the "cap of the T" a row closer to the stage would have solved the problem, but that's just a minor quibble.  In the end, the movement that the extended stage allowed the actors to achieve is a credit to the director Sandy Robbins.

Once again, as I tend to always say when I discuss these REP productions at the University of Delaware, we've got real theater right here in our backyard.  Real theater the likes of which you'd see up on Broadway.  Get thee to a REP production and see for yourself the caliber of acting, direction, and design on display because you really won't regret it.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Movie Review - All Good Things

All Good Things (2010)
Starring Ryan Gosling, Kirsten Dunst, and Frank Langella
Directed by Andrew Jarecki
***An early review -- The film opens in select cities throughout December***

All Good Things has apparently been sitting on the shelf for two years which, nine times out of ten, isn't a good sign for a movie.  While the film isn't a complete bust, it's little more than a true-crime Lifetime movie that simply ups the ante a little bit by showing us Kirsten Dunst's boobs.

Based on a true story in which the names have been changed to protect the innocent (and perhaps not-so-innocent), All Good Things tells the tale of David Marks (Ryan Gosling), the son of New York City real estate mogul Sanford Marks (Frank Langella).  Not only does David feel the pressure of living up to the prestige his father holds in the city, but he also has to deal with the psychological torment of having seen his mother kill herself as a young boy.  Although he attempts to put his past behind him when he meets the lovely Katie (Kirsten Dunst), it's nearly impossible for him to push away his demons.  Seeing as how I prefaced the review by saying this was a true crime tale, it's not difficult to infer that David may perhaps do something wrong in regards to his loved ones, but I'll leave the details as a bit of a mystery in case anyone desires to watch the flick without spoilers.

It really has been a long time since I've seen Kirsten Dunst in anything and I was watching it wondering how she got pushed out of the limelight after such a promising start.  She's actually quite good here -- probably the best actor the pic has to offer.  Her Katie is at first a wide-eyed innocent who, after seeing the seedy side of the Marks family, soon realizes that she may be in over her head.  As the head of the clan, Frank Langella is also quite good, effortlessly walking the line between sleeze and charm without going overboard on either.

Ryan Gosling, though, is supposed to be the person upon whom the movie revolves around and I, unfortunately, never was drawn in.  It's a difficult role to play, no doubt, partly because the real life case upon which this film is based remains unsolved.  Because of that (and because the film doesn't make any assumptions as to innocence or guilt), Gosling is asked to play David in a rather ambiguous way.  Is he a bad guy or just psychologically damaged (or are those even mutually exclusive to one another in his case)?  With the film not settling the score in regards to the crimes that take place within it, the viewer is left wondering how exactly we're supposed to relate to David.

The film isn't bad -- the technical aspects are all certainly more than adequate, as well -- but it just doesn't really garner any type of emotion from me either good or bad.  It's certainly a flick that were you flicking channels on the tv in a few months and came across it you may want to give it a chance, but it's not really satisfying in terms of the final product.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Movie Review - I Am Love

I Am Love (Io sono l'amore) (2010)
Starring Tilda Swinton, Flavio Parenti, Edoardo Gabbriellini, and Pippo Delbono
Directed by Luca Guadagnino
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

The Italian flick I Am Love is a film that, should I ever watch it again, I know I would appreciate infinitely more than I did the first time around.  In this initial viewing, I was often at a loss as to where the film was going.  Yes, the characters were appealing and quite well-developed.  Yes, the film looks stunning and has a beautiful musical score.  But it just seemed to be meandering about for a good chunk of the time.  However, come the end of the film, I can't help but think that every scene set up some type of character motivation.  The little nuances that had me going "huh" actually fully fleshed out the film's inhabitants.  Unfortunately, for a good chunk of the film, however, the "huh" was playing a much bigger role in my mind than anything else.

The talented Tilda Swinton is Emma, a Russian who married into the wealthy Recchi clan over two decades ago.  The family, whose wealth was amassed via making clothing, is seeing a bit of upheaval with the patriarch passing away and leaving his company to his son Tancredi (Pippo Delbono) and his grandson Edo (Flavio Parenti).  As the two men get used running the company, Emma finds herself realizing that she doesn't quite fit in with the family even after all these years.  One evening while Edo is hosting a party, Emma meets Edo's friend Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini), a chef who is catering the soiree.  Almost immediately, Emma sees something in Antonio that sparks her interest and soon the two are carrying on a sordid (and certainly sexy) affair.  

Swinton (who won the coveted RyMickey Award for Best Actress last year for her role in the criminally underseen film Julia) plays Emma's sexual awakening with surprising believability.  After her first sexual encounter with the young Antonio, she scurries home like a young teen, giggling and smiling the whole way.  Some may say there's a coldness to a lot of Tilda Swinton's performances, but to me, she plays her characters in a guarded fashion that she lets down at just the right moment to reel the audience in to whatever her character's plight may be.  She may look like Conan O'Brien with breasts, but Swinton is simply fascinating to watch onscreen.  She's surrounded by a talented cast of Italian actors as well.  Although no one who reads this blog will probably have heard of any of them, they are proved to be quite interesting to watch.

As I mentioned above, it takes quite a long time for things to get moving in I Am Love, but the whole time I was intrigued by director Luca Guadagnino's stylish visuals.  I'm not going to pretend that I know a thing about classic Italian film, but this modern day film looked like it could have been filmed in 1965 with just a few minor alterations.  Everything from the costumes to the sets to the actual way Guadagnino shot scenes seemed like it was an homage to classic films he loved (including a rather seductive outdoor sex scene that showed just enough to titillate that really seemed reminiscent of something one would see in a classic foreign film from decades ago).  Admittedly, as is the case with the story itself, the visuals are rather odd to begin with.  Honestly, for the first thirty minutes I was seriously unable to determine whether the film was taking place now or forty years ago.  Still, the whole style grew on me (much like the film as a whole) as everything progressed.

I Am Love is certainly an interesting film, but it's definitely not going to appeal to all.  As I found myself writing this review, I actually found myself enjoying it more the more I thought about it...always a good thing.  Like I mentioned, I can't help but think that this is a film that will shine on a second viewing a few years down the line.

The RyMickey Rating:  B