By May Chan
If Lady Gaga watched When in Rome, she would call it a “bad romance” of the ages. You know the film is not destined for an Oscar nomination when it uses Facebook commentary to promote it. And you know a romantic comedy is not worth watching if the male lead has starred in another romantic comedy (ahem, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!) that was equally not worth watching.
Despite this film being titled after a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie, I ignored the warning signs and paid the matinee price.
Directed by Mark Steven Johnson, the film follows Beth (Kristen Bell), a New Yorker who has little luck with love. At her sister’s posh wedding in Rome, a drunken Beth, thinking that her luck would change, takes a few coins out of a magic fountain to ensure she meets the right man. Enter Nick (Josh Duhamel), a sports columnist, who is instantly smitten with Beth.
Beth’s luck suddenly worsens with a gaggle of men following her: Antonio (Will Arnett), Lance (Jon Heder), Gale (Dax Shepard), and Al (Danny Devito) vie for Beth’s affections in unexpected outlandish ways. Even when Beth returns to New York, these men run into her endlessly.
When Beth finds out that her suitors are under a spell, she wonders if Nick’s attraction to her is genuine or not. The rest of the premise is easily predictable.
Out of convenience, the men who follow Beth around happen to be fellow New Yorkers as well. The few laughs extracted from the film feature Beth interacting with wannabe model Gale, but other than that, Nick seems to be there for the obvious charming reason of swooping in at the right time.
Although the year has just begun, few romantic comedies, including this one, have stood out. The character, Beth, seems like every protagonist audiences have seen in 2009, like in The Proposal and The Ugly Truth. The seemingly Type-A woman denies her attraction for the goofy guy. The problem with When in Rome is that Bell and Duhamel’s chemistry lacks substance. For an hour-and-a-half movie, there was enough time to progress from the mere flirting that high school lovers ping pong back and forth.
Recently, Kristen Bell has been typecast as the one, which guys fight over, and this plot is no different. Maybe she should concentrate on more comedy and less romance or find a traditional love story worth investing. Duhamel, on the other hand, should just consider staying away from romantic comedies.
As for the location, Rome did not seem very prominent other than the fountain scene. The film title seemed unintentionally cheesy, as if the director expected the title to carry the film. How romantic. The film is set in Rome. Who cares if the plot is wacky? The wackier, the better.
A romantic comedy enthusiast would consider this movie to be disappointing, and surely this is not a film for those cynical about love. However, if this film is at the top of your must-watch films, save the money and get it on Netflix. That way, you can at least fast forward to the ending and skip the not-so-funny scenes.
by May Chan
War is hell—a hell so close to a soldier it sticks with him even when he makes the trip back home. A slew of television shows and films have shown what war does to soldiers and their families, but Brothers takes it a step further with performances from Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Directed by Jim Sheridan, the film follows Captain Sam Cahill (Maguire), as he prepares to return to the frontlines in a few days. Sam’s deployment coincides with his younger brother Tommy’s release from jail. Their bond as brothers has not severed even after all this time.
As the family members welcome Tommy back, they are sending Sam off with a last supper. Sam’s wife, Grace (Portman) and their two daughters, Isabelle and Maggie learn to reacquaint themselves with their uncle.
While Tommy relies on his charisma and humor to get by, he has cornered himself as being the black sheep of the family.
Also at the dinner table, Hank Cahill (Sam Shepard), the father of both sons, has a difficult time accepting his eldest son back by making quips causing tempers to flare.
After Sam leaves to Afghanistan, Tommy takes on the role of favorable uncle. And as Grace and the girls wait for Sam to come home, Tommy transitions more into a father figure by helping around the house and spending time with the daughters.
Meanwhile, the helicopter carrying Sam has been shot down. The assumption is that no one survived, as the next scene is cut to the Cahill home, where Grace and the girls reside.
Grace comes out of the bathroom and descends the stairs to the bad news waiting for her: Sam’s dead. No words are uttered in the scene. Grace just knows, yet she does not feel it in her bones that Sam is gone.
However, with a funeral already set up, Grace, along with the rest of the family members have to deal with the news. Isabelle and Maggie are in a state of naiveté on whether their father really is dead. Tommy and a liquored-up Hank hash out on who’s to blame for Sam’s death.
Back in Afghanistan, the audience sees that Sam is alive, but disheveled with another soldier by his side. Both captured men endure the torture as much as possible. And the price of a life is not easy when Sam has to sacrifice his morals to come home to a family who has already grieved for him.
Sam’s struggle to come out of war intact proves to be heartbreaking with Tobey Maguire’s haunting portrayal of someone who has to grapple with the aftermath. Jake Gyllenhaal’s drifter approach to the role of Tommy could have had more of an impact if the film showed more of how jail affected him. Nevertheless, the inseparable love both brothers share arrives at a poignant moment at the end.
As part of the main cast, Natalie Portman delivers an original performance with a mixture of maternal stoicism bolstered by the daughters, played by Bailee Madison and Taylor Geare.
Moviegoers should take the time to see Brothers, despite the dark subject material. No matter how anyone feels about the war in Afghanistan or any ongoing war, the film is a must-see because of the different perspectives established from a tight-knit family.
by May Chan
Opening on Christmas Day, Sherlock Holmes leaves one to wonder, “Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock? Really?” As much I adore the actor and his cynical humor in films, the whole time I almost expected the detective to transform into Iron Man at any moment.
The movie, directed by Guy Ritchie, introduces Sherlock Holmes with his partner Dr. John Watson (Jude Law), just as they are in the middle of capturing Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), a murderer who practices black magic.
Early on the film, Lord Blackwood presumably meets his demise with a trial and execution.
Should Holmes and Watson call the case a success? Not so fast, boys.
Lord Blackwood mysteriously returns, leaving a trail of killings for the sleuths to find. And as the duo banter with one another about Watson’s fiancé and their differences, they have to put it all aside to save England from this criminal sorcerer.
Adding to the mystery, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) enters into the picture catching the interest of Holmes. But appearances are deceiving as Irene demonstrates: she, too, can outwit the detective in the middle of solving a mystery.
Although each cast member gives a solid performance, Sherlock Holmes is not superb. With more than one screenwriter handling the story and modernizing the plot, along with shaping the characters’ back-story, the tradition of what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had originally created is somewhat lost in the big screen.
Before anyone starts chiming in that Robert Downey Jr. deserves the Golden Globe nomination, I concur. Should he win? That is debatable.
As for Jude Law’s part as Watson, the character was written too much into the film as a bromantic (yes, I’m coining that adjective) relationship with Holmes. Keep Watson as a supporting character and cut some of the Harold and Kumar chumminess.
Of course the film could not be long enough, so the screenwriters had to develop another story line with Irene Adler, Even though Rachel McAdams fits in nicely with the all-male cast, her adventuress role barely hinges off of the mystery.
Noticeable throughout the movie is the music score that aptly works into each scene set in 1880s London. However, if the music stands out more than the script, what does that say about Sherlock Holmes?
Watch the film if you are a Robert Downey Jr. fan; otherwise, check it out when it comes out on DVD. The film, honestly, has no particular moments or quotes that stand out as water cooler topics, so audiences are not missing much if they do not see it right away.
by Lucie Rutter
It seems everyone is completely crazy for Vampires right now, and I am no exception. Once upon a time Vampires were viewed as the villains of the story, which is a far cry from how we see them now. Fangs are officially in fashion and girls all over the world want a Vampire boyfriend to brighten up their love lives.
With popular television series True Blood and The Vampire Diaries the craze is bigger than ever. It is, however, New Moon that everyone is fanatical about at the moment, after a year long wait since the first instalment it is finally here, and it does not disappoint.
New Moon is the second instalment from the Twilight saga, based on the series by Stephanie Meyer. The films tell the story of Bella (Kristen Stewart) a normal, teenage girl who moves to the overcast town of Forks, Washington, expecting a dreary life in the rain but instead she falls in love with the extraordinary Edward Cullen and her life becomes far from dreary.
Twilight, the first movie in the series, shows the budding romance between Bella and Edward (Robert Pattinson) as Bella discovers Edward is no normal student, he is a vampire and part of him thirsts for Bella’s blood.
Bella is a clumsy damsel in distress who appears to be a magnet for trouble and Edward is her ice cold white Knight. It is a romance that every girl dreams of and Stewart and Pattinson portray the forbidden love in a way that grips the audience, keeping us wanting more.
The romance continues in New Moon but the passion heightens as the pair fall more deeply in love (who wouldn’t fall in love with Edward?!) But on Bella’s birthday she gets a cut at the Cullen house and finds herself facing a family of very thirsty Vampires. Edward suddenly realises the risk he has taken by inviting Bella into his life and the family leave in order to save Bella from any other danger.
With Edward gone Bella is lifeless and morose until she finds friendship in the form of Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), whom she describes as her own personal Sun and he begins to bring Bella back to life. Bella is finally waking up from her comatose state and is happy to have some stability in her life, then she realises that Jacob has a secret of his own and nothing in Forks is as it seems.
New Moon captures the audience from the start, with excellent performances from all the cast, picturesque scenery and a love that one can only dream of, you are swept into the story effortlessly and left wanting more.
New Moon brings not only the beautiful Edward Cullen but new heartthrob Jacob and his pack of muscled friends who remain topless throughout the film, much to the delight of the audience. The second instalment has everything you expect and more, it is five stars worth of action and romance and has left every teenage girl hoping to get a Werewolf or a Vampire in their stocking this Christmas.
A mom clutches the New Moon hardcover in front of me. Adolescent girls behind me wear black shirts with Edward Cullen emblazoned on their chests. Am I the weird one of the bunch? The vampires are back in the second installment to Twilight, but they have taken a back seat to make room for the wolves.
Directed by Chris Weitz, New Moon continues where the first film left off: High school student, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) settle into their bittersweet relationship, while the vengeful vampire, Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre) still chases after Bella for the demise of her vampire mate, James (Cam Gigandet).
During Bella’s birthday party, when the occasion should be a happy one, everything goes awry with the reminder that Edward will always put his human girlfriend in danger. And when the inevitable break-up comes, Bella deals with it in agony after Edward leaves her in the middle of the forest. She turns to her best friend, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) to take her mind off of her pain, yet her vampire ex remains in the back of her mind. The more Bella puts herself in danger, the more she realizes Edward will appear as an illusion.
Meanwhile, Jacob undergoes obvious changes himself. His transformation from a teenage boy to super wolf almost looks cult-like in Bella’s eyes. Even though Jacob shows off his strength and agility in front of Bella in the beginning, she has a difficult time figuring out his behavior change. Jacob can hint at being a wolf, but it is up to Bella to piece the information together from the past.
Just when Bella starts “healing” from her break-up, a surprise visit from Edward’s sister, Alice (Ashley Greene) pulls her back into the vampire world. To make matters worse, Jacob tells Edward over the phone that the Swan residence is in preparation for a funeral, and Edward assumes the worst has happened to Bella.
Ridden with guilt, Edward cannot live with himself and travels to Italy, where the powerful vampire clan, Volturi, resides. Edward wants to ask the Volturi to kill him, but will they? Once Bella finds out, what can she do even if she arrives on time to save Edward?
Aside from the trailer spoilers that give away most of the plot, New Moon is not for anyone looking for surprises. For fans of the Stephenie Meyer books, this movie is for them; it is not for middle-aged film reviewers or those who do not understand the melodramatic tone of the books. New Moon, surprisingly, is better than Twilight.
Despite the film running over two hours long, parts of it seem rushed. Does anyone believe that Bella, stewing in her depression, sits on a chair in front of her window for months? If this movie is supposed to develop Jacob as a worthy candidate to woo Bella in the future, it is sorely failing. Jacob and Bella seem like nothing more than friends, so here is hoping that Taylor Lautner has a stronger romantic chemistry with Kristen Stewart in Eclipse, the third movie in the series. If not, at least Robert Pattinson and his hair will appear more in the next one.
FUN FACT: RCG mag EIC, Nikki Roberti is on “Team Edward.”
By Ali Coad
Dear John is the newest novel turned movie to come from popular novelist Nicholas Sparks. He is perhaps best known for his novel The Notebook, which was adapted into a major motion picture starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. In this novel, Sparks continues to leave readers impassioned and invested in the simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-mending story of John Tyree and Savannah Curtis. Sparks captures the reader’s attention with a subtly simplistic writing style. He always seems to leave the reader hungry for more. Needless to say, I devoured this book.
When I heard that this book was going to be adapted into a movie, I was very excited. Then I heard that Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried were starring and the already highly anticipated movie was instantly fast-tracked to a “must see.” I only hope that this film doesn’t disappoint and remains true to the story that Sparks wrote.
The tale beings with Savannah, an innocent and naïve young woman, falling irrevocably in love with John, an angry and isolated soldier. They meet on a hot summer day while John is on leave and Savannah is building houses for the homeless in Wilmington, NC. John said it was love at first sight, and upon their first meeting, when they first made eye contact, “[He] felt something click, like a key turning in a lock.” Savannah, as we discover later in the book, felt the exact same way. But John and Savannah are still a very long way from happily ever after.
John is soon forced to return to Germany, where he has been stationed for the war, and Savannah and John are equally heartbroken. They remain faithful in their relationship and continue to talk through weekly letters and sporadic phone calls. Days pass at impossibly slow rates, only making their time apart more unbearable. Finally, the time has come for John to return home. Then September 11 happens. He is forced to choose between the love of his life and the duty to his country.
As expected, Sparks leaves the reader reaching for tissues. The emotional journey ends favorably but not expectedly, and not before he takes the reader on a series of twists and turns. Hopefully, the film adaptation of Dear John, directed by Oscar nominated filmmaker, Lasse Hallstrom, does the novel justice. The book was quite the page-turner, and I’m expecting the movie to be just as good. The theatrical debut is set for February 5, 2010, just in time for Valentine’s Day!
The man behind the most famous dolphin in pop-culture is now trying to reverse the popularity of dolphins as entertainment and leads a fight to try to stop the dolphin cruelty and inhumanity that exists in Taiji, Japan. Dolphin trainers and dolphin brokers frequent the small fishing town of Taiji to buy and partake in the merciless dolphin barter.
In order to bring the issue of dolphin capture and slaughter to the forefront of society, former dolphin and “Flipper” trainer Ric O’Berry enlisted the assistance of director Louie Psihoyos, and together they collaborated on the documentary entitled “The Cove.” The Oceanic Preservation Society alongside dolphin, acoustic, and diving experts, goes beyond the “keep out” signs in a deadly cove tucked away in Taiji to illuminate the utter cruelty done to dolphins. “The Cove” convincingly presents dolphins as human equals, capable of humanly intelligence, thus showing the negative impacts of watching dolphins perform stressful routines for viewing pleasure.
The documentary incorporates suspenseful footage of late-night Taiji cove pilgrimages in an attempt to reveal what happens behind the barred premises. International dealings with the politics behind the dolphin issue continue to be debated, but together O’Berry and Psihoyos (and many other contributors) built “The Cove” in hopes of highlighting the dolphin issues in Taiji, Japan.
Images from www.thecovemovie.com
From Hogwarts to Brown, transferring schools isn’t the only thing Ballet Shoes, and played the voice of Princess Pea in Kate DiCamillo’s Tale of Despereaux, which was released in 2008. Now, you can see her in print ads for the high end fashion line, Burberry. is doing these days. In 2001 she started off her career as Hermoine, in the ever so popular Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Since then, she has starred in the next five movies in the Harry Potter series, acted in the television film
Emma Watson went from being the typical young teen wearing t-shirts and jeans, to a fashion icon. She has been on the cover of London Fashion week! No matter where she is or what she is doing, her outfits are stunning. On the Late Show with David Letterman Emma sported a creme-gold dress outlined in black with a unique necklace-type collar. At the in London, she was dressed in a white gown with sequins covering the chest. multiple times and is part of the Burberry campaign, which means modeling at
Her attire is always original and never too revealing. Emma Watson is never spotted wearing the same dress to an awards show as another celebrity. And she doesn’t wear trashy dresses, as do other celebrities close in age — plunging too deep at the chest and cut to short above the knees.
Emma Watson is a great fashion role model for teen girls. Many of her outfits are custom made, but her style can be created at recessionista price by highlighting certain elements of her style.
So what’s next for Emma Watson? According to a Teen Vogue interview, she is uncertain if she wants to continue her career as an actress. She fell in love and had a strong connection with the character Hermoine, but if she doesn’t feel that way about another character maybe she’ll become a doctor or an english teacher. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have Emma Watson teach your writing class?
by May Chan
Warning: Ritalin is optional after seeing Where the Wild Things Are. On its opening weekend, the Spike Jonze directed film opened at number one. No surprise there, considering the hype surrounding it with Urban Outfitters clothing lines, skateboards, and web ads, but did the movie, based on Maurice Sendak’s children book, really pull this movie reviewer’s heartstrings? Yes, a little.
For anyone who has never flipped through Sendak’s story, this film may seem disorienting. Max (Max Records), the unruly protagonist in his signature wolf uniform, acts out for the first ten minutes of the film when he sees his divorced mother (Catherine Keener) spending time with her boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo) in the living room. The climax hits when the mom chases Max to the front door, tries to pick him up, and he bites her. Literally.
Max’s mother sends her son to his room without dinner, yet what is waiting in his room is nothing ordinary: only his imagination.
A picturesque backdrop of a forest, followed by an oceanic thrust into a sailboat, leads Max to travel to a foreign island, filled with six beasts each different in their personalities. Max watches these creatures carefully and sees one beast covered in light fur stripes, screaming as it terrorizes huts. That would be Carol (James Gandolfini).
After meeting Carol, Max joins the rest of the hairy gang, including Alexander (Paul Dano) Douglas (Chris Cooper), Ira (Forest Whitaker), Judith (Catherine O’Hara), and The Bull (Michael Berry Jr.).
The fun really begins when Carol declares Max as the their king after the boy convinces the wild things that he was king back home and he has the ability to crack their brains. No kidding.
For those who grew up reading the children’s 1963 classic, the line, “Let the wild rumpus start!” should reawaken anybody’s inner child. Then, the thrashing and running around like a loose canon makes sense. Before, the dragging of Max’s pouting induced fits could irritate even that crying baby in the movie theater you love to hate.
Director Spike Jonze’s reimagining of the larger-than-life wooly costumes for the beasts translates well into the film, especially when audiences see the characters in these breathtaking landscapes, fueled by the mind’s changing weather.
And of course, let’s not forget the soundtrack that captured Max’s every emotion of wanting to disappear. Anyone surprised that the film was not driven by The Arcade Fire like the trailer led on? The music heavily relied on Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to deliver the lingering sentiments, and the playful music works in laying out the moody environment.
In the end, will children love Where The Wild Things Are if they have never read the book? Will adults, who read the story, enjoy it?
This all depends on viewers suspending their disbeliefs, because really, having talking creatures “argh” at you in every scene better be worth the moral or some coming-of-age lesson that cannot be summed up into words yet. Whatever that may be, sit in the theater and take it all in and wish hopelessly that someday, that sort of place exists, where six wooly mammoths can bring order to chaos.
by May Chan
If anyone has seen Juno, then Jennifer’s Body should come as a surprise: it is not Juno. Diablo Cody, the screenwriter for the popularized baby bump of a film, wrote Jennifer’s Body with a similar wicked sense of humor. The campy horror film, directed by Karyn Kusama, plays to Megan Fox’s strong suit. Fox stars as Jennifer Check, the captain of a high school flag team, who claims to be a virgin.
Read that far along without laughing yet? Jennifer and her best friend Needy Lesnicky (Amanda Seyfried) head to Devil Lake Bar to check out the indie band playing because Jennifer is enamored with lead singer, Nikolai Wolf (Adam Brody). Before the band starts playing, Needy overhears the lead singer boasting about snagging the “virginal” Jennifer and defends her friend. Even though Needy warns Jennifer about the band members’ intentions, her friend brushes it off, as the band begins playing.
During the emo crooning lip-syncing, the curtains catch on fire and spreads, burning the bar down to a smoldering crisp. Jennifer and Needy, along with the band, escape the fire that kills some of the town’s denizens. The usually confident Jennifer looks traumatized and shaken afterwards, despite Needy comforting her. The eyeliner-wearing lead singer appears before the two girls and seizes Jennifer.
After Needy hopelessly watches Nikolai take Jennifer into a van and drive away, she goes home and calls her boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons), before finding out that she is not alone in her own home. Jennifer has come back, not her old self.
While the student body copes with the recent deaths, high school boys start dying one after another. Needy notices Jennifer’s behavior is less than kind, and her pale complexion makes her “look like every other girl,” Jennifer laments. Needy pieces Jennifer’s abnormal signs with the boys’ brutal killings and goes on a mission to stop her demonic friend from feasting on another life. Little does Needy know that Chip is Jennifer’s next testosterone target.
Although Megan Fox looks to be the main character for obvious reasons, it is Amanda Seyfried, whose perspective audiences follow as she interjects with voiceovers throughout the film. For a movie set in high school, the characters are not two-dimensional. Diablo Cody tries to distinguish each character, playing with stereotypes through comical one-liners. And for those who wonder if Fox can act outside of explosive blockbusters, she can…to a degree.
In this year’s Comic Con, when asked how the role differed from her part in Transformers, Fox said, “I was just trying to have fun with it and I felt like I was able to make fun of my own image as to how some people perceive ‘Megan Fox’ to be.”
Male moviegoers may have been curious to see Jennifer’s Body on its opening weekend for Ms. Fox, but leave it to the director to give the rest of us female audiences a story to hang on to between the skinny dipping and lesbian make-out session. Are some scenes gratuitous? Yes. Sure, the film does have a creative and original premise, yet why does it lead up to the ending the way it does? Splurge a little with purposeful gore, please, and the ending would not have been met with an “Ok…”
On a scale from one to ten, Jennifer’s Body deserves a six, maybe a seven if some of the scenes were not so random. See it with a guy friend or rent it and laugh at teenage boys getting killed. That might make anyone’s high school experience not so shabby.