Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Inception (2010) by Drew’s Movie Review

After 2 weeks of blogathon guests, Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is at its conclusion with me and Drew’s concluding movie reviews to wrap-up the blogathon. Drew starts off with a review of 2010’s Inception. You can’t go wrong with this Christopher Nolan directed psychological science fiction thriller.


InceptionSynopsis
Dream extractors Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and their team are hired by Japanese businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) to perform inception, or plant an idea in someone’s mind, on Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), son of Saito’s dying competitor.

Review
Christopher Nolan is a writer and director who is known for films that are bold, that go big, and that are completely original. One of his boldest and biggest films came between the latter two films in his influential The Dark Knight trilogy. Inception has all of Nolan’s trademark elements and, most importantly, the cast to make it work. And it works. It works in a spectacular and unforgettable fashion.

Sometimes movies try to explain their world before getting into the story, often using an overbearing amount of exposition. But Inception doesn’t do that. Rather than use the beginning to set up the technology or concept to enter one’s subconscious, it is used to introduce the notion of dreams within dreams, which becomes an important aspect of the story later on, and also simply give an idea of what it the technology does. The movie accepts that entering dream space is already an established technology so it can start with a bang. However, later in the film we do get the exposition needed to explain such a high concept technology. This information is given to us through Ariadne (Ellen Page), who acts as the bridge between the movie and the audience. But again, it is done in a way that is neither pandering nor dull, somehow making exposition exciting and entertaining.

Although there is a large ensemble, almost everyone gets their fair share of screen time. Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are the main focus but they handle the attention well and give amazing performances. They play off each other humorously and you can feel that their characters are close friends. I haven’t seen many of Cillian Murphy’s films but I’m impressed with his performance here, playing well opposite, and later along side, DiCaprio. Ellen Page is the newcomer to the team and acts a great surrogate for the audience. She offers an innocence and a bit of naivete to the group. However, I would have to say my favorite performances is Tom Hardy as Eames. He brings a charisma that fits his character perfectly.

Cobb has become one of my favorite characters in cinema. He is very complex and it’s easy to forget that he is a thief. He is an antihero but is one because of the circumstances and wants nothing more than to return to his family. Most antiheroes say they have good intentions and only become so out of necessity but secretly enjoy being a thief/killer/whatever kind of antihero they are. Cobb, on the other hand, is truly not a bad person and is only leveraging his skills in a way he believes will allow him to return to his family the quickest, even though it is not a way he would prefer.

I have mentioned many times in other reviews how important the score can be to a movie. Like most other aspects of Inception, the sound work and music beautifully complements what is happening on screen. The movie can get loud to accentuate the action going on but it also gets very quite, making these moments more intimate. Hans Zimmer is my second favorite composer (behind the wonderful John Williams) and for a good example of why he is amazing just look at this movie. His score is memorable and gives a certain gravitas to the events unfolding on screen.

There are some amazing visuals, too. Working inside a dream allows the action to be limited only by the imagination. One of the coolest is an early scene when Ariadne is learning about molding dreams. She is walking around Paris and makes the city fold on itself, among bending the streets and architecture in other ways. There is also a fight scene in zero gravity in a hotel hallway. And these are just a few! On top of that, many of the effects are done practically rather than with computer animation. Even though this film takes place in the dreamscape, it adds a bit of realism in a world that is anything but real. The effects department truly outdid themselves.

I thought Inception was GREAT 😀 Like most of Christopher Nolan’s films, it features a grand and unique concept. Even though the concept is big, it is never dumbed-down or spoon-fed to the audience. The film assumes that they can figure things out for themselves and moves on accordingly, offering marvelous and extraordinary action pieces and character moments. Each character is complex yet relatable and all the actors and actresses play well off each other. Nolan has proven time and again his place as one of the biggest and best storytellers in Hollywood today, and Inception just might be his crown jewel. So far.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Christopher Nolan – Director / Writer
Hans Zimmer – Composer

Leonardo DiCaprio – Cobb
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Arthur
Ellen Page – Ariadne
Tom Hardy – Eames
Ken Watanabe – Saito
Dileep Rao – Yusuf
Cillian Murphy – Robert Fischer
Marion Cotillard – Mal
Tom Berenger – Browning
Pete Postlethwaite – Maurice Fischer
Michael Caine – Miles
Lukas Haas – Nash


You can find all the blogathon entries updated daily HERE.

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Holy Motors (2012) by Flick Hunter

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Next up in the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is Norman from Flick Hunter. Flick Hunter is a movie review site who shares both reviews and commentary on film festival screenings. He also covers new releases as well as a focus on contemporary foreign films. Head over to check it out HERE. Its no surprise that he brings a very unique 2010s  pick which he says is his number 1 pick for the decade which is 2012’s fantasy drama, Holy Motors.


Holy Motors

Holy Motors (2012)

We first meet Monsieur Oscar as he leaves his home at the crack of dawn dressed in a business suit headed for the office.  His wife and family send him off with good wishes and armed guards occupy the rooftops of his family compound as he walks down the driveway towards a white stretch limo. He is greeted by his female driver and settles into the back of the vehicle for the drive into the city. Monsieur Oscar discusses business deals and the need for an upgrade in weaponry for his guards during the drive. His driver (Edith Scob) then hands him a folder that prompts Monsieur Oscar to undergo a transformation the back of the limo emerging as a beggar woman complete with cane and cup to panhandle for money in a busy downtown square. After a while, Mr. Oscar returns to the limo to prepare for his next appointment as a motion capture actor. These are the opening sequences of Leo Carax’s Holy Motors the director’s first feature in thirteen years since 1999’s Pola X.  Carax himself has a brief part in the film billed as the sleeper. He wakes up up a room with a wall featuring a forest mural. A screwdriver appears extending from one of his fingers that he uses to enter the balcony of a movie theatre above an audience full of sleeping patrons.

Holy Motors

Carax has evidently built up a lot of material in the period between films. The plot of many of the film’s appointments could have stood alone as subjects of their own films. When interviewed Carax indicated that he came up with the concept of the film while wandering around Paris mulling over his problems obtaining financing for other projects. He noticed an abundance of limousines and always came across the same elderly female panhandler those early elements were the seeds of the film.

Carax’s regular muse Denis Lavant is mesmerizing as the central character. He switches from one character to the next in the back of the limo that resembles a theatre dressing room. Throughout the day he reviews the folders passed back by his driver Celine ahead of each appointment, completes his own elaborate makeup in a large movable dressing room mirror and his wardrobe options cover the  back two-thirds of the limo.

Holy Motors

The film serves as a low tech take to Cloud Atlas on a multiple character feature. Lavant plays 11 different roles in the film including one where he plays both ends of a deadly encounter. The film is rich in dialogue the day-long banter between Monsieur Oscar and Celine serves as it’s backbone. Along with being his driver Celine plays confidant, motivator, assistant, shrink, mechanic  and there are hints that their relationship has or may grow intimate throughout the film.

Holy Motors

Music is thoughtfully chosen and adds to each scenario.  It has a particularly telling impact in the scene where Lavant assumes the role of Merde a sewer-dwelling goblin that bursts through a cemetery and into the middle of a Paris fashion shoot harkens back to the silent era of monster films.  Then there is the iconic Rock and Roll accordion sequence to R.L. Burnside’s Let My Baby Ride in an old church billed as the films interlude.

Part-way through the film Oscar returns to the limo to find a mysterious older gentleman sitting in the far end of the vehicle. A discussion ensures about Oscar’s motivation and commitment to his role. Oscar responds commenting on how in the beginning the cameras were large and evident, then smaller and hidden and now he is not sure if there are any cameras at all regardless he continues his tasks for the beauty of the Act.

Holy Motors

Holy Motors is why we go to the movies. It’s captivating, breaks entirely new ground and is a fresh take on movie making it my number 1 film of the 2010’s.

A Five Star Film

Holy Motors | Loes Carax | France 2012| 115 min.


A huge thanks to Norman from Flick Hunter for joining in and sharing this very unique pick for his number 1 film of 2010’s! Remember to check out his site!

As always, you can find the list of blogathon entries updated daily HERE.

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Frozen (2013) & Frozen 2 (2019) by Starry Traveler’s Road

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Next up in Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is from my Battle of Ingredients co-host, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road sharing with us a double feature of a popular Disney animated film and its sequel, 2013’s Frozen and 2019’s Frozen II. After you check out her review, head over to check out her blog where she does event recaps, DIY crafts and recently her updates in from jewelry school. Check out her blog HERE.


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Frozen (2013) & Frozen II (2019)

(sing to “Do you want to build a snowman?”) Do you want a movie review? Husband, Miss Bun and I got one just for you! We plan to discuss Frozen 1 and 2 as it really makes sense. We really need to send a BIG thank you to Kim and Drew for hosting us… (tick tock tick tock) for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon!

Our little family saw Frozen during a long flight several years ago and it became a craze around our home thanks to my husband who told me to watch it. I caved in and ended up liking Anna while Bun Bun liked Elsa for her magical abilities. Even our Scholastic book orders are Frozen oriented to the point her educator remarked on it the other day when I submitted the order.

I have no idea where to start but both soundtracks blew my mind. They are both excellent and I really liked how music in Frozen can be found in Frozen 2 like the opening sequences. I love both Let It Go and Show Yourself as they feel empowering. Bun Bun prefers Frozen songs better so I guess that I will be stuck with them for a long time. Husband thinks the Frozen soundtrack was stronger, more original. Missy’s daycare friends’ parents say they thought Frozen 2 songs are better.

I find it hard to judge graphics as 6 years have elapsed between the two. Also, I do not watch movies enough to know what is done as visual effects nowadays. Frozen 2 is definitely prettier.

Scary factor? Bun Bun freaked out in both movies, but definitely more in Frozen 2. We both needed to comfort her at the theater as she asked for daddy. She barely wanted to talk about it when we got out of the theater. As a parent, I think Frozen 2 is scarier for kids under 5 with battles and tragic events as the sisters need to dig up the skeleton in the closet to right the wrong. Husband believes Iduna’s haunting presence throughout the movie also contributed to the eeriness factor. My research has also indicated that it should be 6+.

Husband and Bun Bun both prefer the Frozen storyline. Husband thinks that Frozen 2 had a lot to live up to and was unable to Let It Go. I am okay with both but admit the Frozen 2 storyline was a bit obvious from the start and there is definitely more suspense with Frozen. I also laughed a lot with Frozen 2’s Olaf’s randomness and at a few running gags at Kristoff’s expense. One thing that I definitely liked is aging the characters a little compared to older Disney movies like Mulan and Mulan 2. It is a nice change.

Our overall preferences between the two movies:

Husband: Frozen

Bun Bun: Frozen

Me: Frozen 2

As for other families that I talked to, they are very divided between the two movies with one family leaving midway of Frozen 2. That is it for our review! Thank you for reading! What is your opinion if you watched them?


A huge thanks to Phoebe for sharing her and her family’s views on this Disney double feature of Frozen and Frozen II.

You can find all the posts for the blogathon updated daily HERE.

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013) by 18 Cinema Lane

Wrapping up the first week of Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is a review of 2014 fantasy-adventure film, The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box by Sally Silverscreen of 18 Cinema Lane.

18 Cinema Lane is a beautiful movie blog which shares a variety of movie-related posts, not just reviews. While Sally reviews a lot of variety of movies, she does cover a lot of Hallmark movies due to her appreciation for them. Be sure to head over to check out her blog if you haven’t already and give her a follow HERE.


The Adventurer

Take 3: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box Review

Because I wrote an editorial for the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon, I decided to write a movie review for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon. The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a film I had never heard of until I researched titles for this event. Since it was released in early 2014, I knew it would be a good entry! While learning more about the film, it sounded like a mix between The Librarian trilogy and Sherlock Holmes. Because I enjoy both of those stories, I figured I might get some enjoyment out of this movie! As I’ve stated on countless occasions, I try to use my blog to give lesser-known films the “standing ovation” they might deserve. Talking about The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box definitely fits that goal of mine! But is this movie truly worthy of a “standing ovation”? Please join me on this journey as we’re about to find out in this review!

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: The cast in The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box was solid! I had never heard of Aneurin Barnard prior to watching this film. However, I was impressed with his portrayal of Mariah! His performance was expressive in a subtle way. A good example is when Mariah is explaining to Sacha why he wants to find his brother, Felix. The audience can tell that Mariah is about to cry, but Aneurin primarily relies on expressing those feelings of sadness and loneliness through his eyes. I was also not familiar with Mella Carron before seeing this movie. Like Aneurin, I was impressed with her performance as Sacha! Her overall portrayal was well-rounded. Similar to Aneurin’s performance, she was also expressive in subtle ways. One example is when she’s sharing her problems with Mariah. When she is talking about her father’s troubling behavior, Sacha’s eyes fill with tears, showing how much this situation upsets her. I thought Sam Neill portrayed a convincing villain! I’ve only seen a few of Sam’s films, so I have only seen him portray protagonists or characters that were not villainous. While bringing the character of Otto to life, Sam’s demeanor was arrogant and cunning. These are the qualities you’d likely find in a villain, as these kinds of characters sometimes see themselves as being better than everyone else.

Historical accuracy: The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box takes place in 1885. While watching this movie, I noticed how everything looked and felt like that period in time. The wardrobe and set designs definitely fit within the world the film’s creative team created. The metalwork within the hotel seemed like it came straight from the 1880s. Even the font on posters and signs looked accurate to that time period. The ways this aspect of the film was handled shows that no detail was ignored during any part of the movie’s creative process.

The element of mystery: In The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, there was a mystery within the main plot. This mystery element was one of the most interesting parts of the film! It allowed me to stay invested in what was happening in the story and to the characters. The mystery also created a sense of wonder as to what would happen next. This element brought intrigue to the overall story!

What I didn’t like about the film:

Lack of lighting: While the cinematography was mostly good in this film, there were some scenes that had little to no lighting. They were so dark, I had difficulty seeing what was on screen. One example is toward the beginning of the movie, when Mariah and Felix are having a conversation outside. This scene was so poorly lit, Mariah face was hidden by the darkness. Whenever this happened, I found it to be frustrating.

A misleading title: As I said in my Halloween Double Feature, a film’s title can act as a promise to a film’s audience. When a creative team makes an effort to put a subject in their movie’s title, they need to deliver on that “promise” to their audience. For The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, I didn’t really feel like there was an adventure taking place in the story, despite the film being called The Adventurer. There were some scenes that had a sense of adventure to them. But it never seemed like the characters were going on a journey or allowing the audience to go on a quest with them. The majority of this movie took place in one location. This made the story feel condensed. All these elements presented the overall narrative like it belonged to a mystery movie and not an adventure one.

Two separate mysteries: Like I previously stated, I liked the mystery element within this movie. However, I think it was a mistake to feature more than one mystery in the film. In this story, there is a second mystery that exists while the main mystery is being solved. For most of the film, these mysteries were separate from one another. While they eventually connected, this didn’t happen until it was almost time for the film’s climax. The second mystery also felt like it combined with the first mystery out of plot convenience. I thought both mysteries were intriguing. But they should have been in their own separate films.

My overall impression:

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box is a fine, enjoyable film! There were things about it that I liked, such as the acting and the historical accuracy within the project. However, I can think of movies with adventure stories that were executed better than this one. The fact that this film was light of the adventure was, for me, a disappointment. It also doesn’t help that the film’s title features the word “adventurer”. If you do plan on watching this movie, approach it with the notion that you’re going to watch a mystery movie. That way, the condensed nature of the story and the limited amount of adventure will make more sense. I’m not sure if this film was given a sequel. If it was, I’ll definitely consider reviewing it on 18 Cinema Lane!

Overall score: 7 out of 10

Have you ever heard of The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box? What movie from the 2010s is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!
Sally Silverscreen


A huge thanks to Sally Silverscreen for sharing her thoughts on The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box, a movie that I’ve never heard of prior to the blogathon!

Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews next week to catch the second week of the blogathon and see the next guest review!

Find the archive of posts in the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon updated daily HERE!

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Train to Busan (2012) by John Rieber

The first guest review of Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is for 2016 South Korean zombie film, Train to Busan by John Rieber, who runs a blog under his own name. He covers a lot of really fun topics from movies, TV and all things pop culture along with spectacular food and travel. Its truly a wonderful one stop for a lot of variety of topics and he always has a nice and refreshing angle in how he shares it! Remember to stop by to check out his blog and give him a follow HERE.

Train to Busan

The Terrifying “Train To Busan” Is Now Departing!

Looking back at a decade of great cinema, I’m always interested in seeing films that take an established genre and bring something fresh to the table.  That is certainly the case with “Train To Busan”.

South Korean Director Sang-ho Yeon delivers a modern zombie classic, blending terrific action sequences with rich character development.  

I had heard about this 2016 South Korean thriller, but hadn’t gotten around to seeing it until recently – and it blew my mind!

Train to Busan” takes place as a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out in the country – and a group of train passengers must band together until they reach safety – hopefully – in the city of Busan…little do they know that there is no guarantee they will be let in, and the zombies on the train are multiplying!

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The characters are all terrific:  a Father, played by Gong Yoo, takes his small daughter back to his estranged wife – he chooses the train.  Su-an Kim plays the young girl, and her acting is terrific: she makes the most outrageous aspects of the zombie attack seem real.  Also on the train is Dong-seok Ma, who plays a beefy tough guy who must protect his pregnant wife, played by Yu-mi Jung.

Each character is fully realized without sacrificing any action, which begins shortly after the train departs.  As they are leaving this station, the young girl notices someone on the platform seemingly sick – then is shocked to have a bloody hand slam against the train’s window.  And they are off!

One of the most unique aspects of the film is how quickly someone can be killed and turned into a Zombie – and of course, one sick person manages to get on board the train, infecting the other passengers – so the pack just grows and grows and grows! 

In a world where the “coronavirus” exploded onto the world’s stage with sudden ferocity, watching the infected zombies multiply is even more sobering: and each train car takes drastic measures to try and keep the zombies out.

As the train hurtles toward Busan, the plot continues to evolve as the survivors dwindle and the zombie pack grows.  Each of the main characters are given an important plot point – and it’s a film that never lets up on the suspense. One of the best set pieces is when the Conductor stops at a station because he’s been told that the military is there…an incredible action sequence.

Train To Busan” has set a high bar for all zombie films to come, and one of the most exhilarating films of the 2010’s.


Thanks to John for his great review for this South Korean zombie film. Its definitely a wonderful choice as Train to Busan is also one of my top movies of this past decade.

Head over to Drew’s Movie Review to see the next guest review tomorrow!

You can find the list of reviews for the blogathon updated daily HERE.

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon Kick-Off: The Wandering Earth (流浪地球, 2019)

Welcome to the official kick-off of this year’s ultimate decades blogathon hosted by myself and Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews, Ultimate 2010s Blogathon! As we wave goodbye to the 2010s, its the best time to talk about the movies that defined it. Whether its a favorite or one that shows off  an element that represented the decade, both movie choices are good. With a lot of movies to choose from between 2010 to 2019, there are endless possibility.

Kicking off the first two days is myself and my fantastic co-host, Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews. Starting this off on day 1 as I take a look at one of the biggest trends and changes in the movie landscape is the power of the rise of streaming services opening up a variety of movies, giving a platform for distribution and creation of independent and international titles that may otherwise have remained unknown or less accessible.

The Wandering Earth (流浪地球, 2019)

The Wandering Earth

Director (and co-writer): Frant Gwo

Cast: Jing Wu, Chuxiao Qu, Guangjie Li, Man-Tat Ng, Jin Mai Jaho, Mike Kai Sui, Hongchen Li, Jingjing Qu, Yichi Zhang

As the sun is dying out, people all around the world build giant planet thrusters to move Earth out of its orbit and sail Earth to a new star system. Yet the 2500-year journey comes with unexpected dangers, and in order to save humanity, a group of young people in this age of a wandering Earth fight hard for the survival of humankind. – IMDB

Loosely adapted from a novella of the same name by Li Cixin, The Wandering Earth is not only China’s third highest grossing film of all time but also the third highest non-English film of all time. Taking a change in landscape from the normal Chinese New Year movie release, The Wandering Earth is set on Chinese New Year but isn’t the normal happy movie but rather a high budget science fiction film.

wandering earth 2

Set in a future where the sun has become a threat to Earth, the world has united into the United Earth Government and collectively has initiated The Wandering Earth Project, installing Earth Engines across the surface of the planet to propel Earth out of the Solar System 4.2 light years away to the Alpha Centauri to preserve human civilization. However, as they cross Jupiter, the gravitational pull of the bigger planet takes control of Earth and causes a possible collision while causing other side effects. As teams travel with their Lighter Cores to reignite the failed Earth Engines, the dangers that await them are numerous with the unexpected changes in the environment.

wandering earth

This premise alone of creating a future where Earth is being pushed in movement out of the solar system is unique to say the least and one that has so much room for exploration. The story uses its environment to its full potential as it shows off right from the get-go how the world has changed from its inhabitants living in various underground cities that have everything that you’d have when the world lived above ground to the current frozen above ground and its operations. The visuals of these are done with grandeur, showing off the technological advances in both this film but also in showing off slick cinematography and CGI used in the current Chinese filmmaking landscape which is pretty much  on par with the Hollywood blockbuster films at least delivers the same feeling, especially as the film’s story starts stepping into the dangerous elements.

wandering earth

The story is two-fold. On one hand, it takes place with the father and Chinese astronaut Liu Peiqiang (Jing Wu) who left at the initiation of the Wandering Earth Project 17 years ago and now is on the last day before retiring back to Earth but now is stuck on the space station. On the ground, his son, now a young man Liu Qi (Chuxiao Qu), decides to take his grandfather’s driving access card to show his sister, DuoDuo (Jin Miao Jaho) the world above ground, unknowing getting caught up in the mess as they get caught along with their grandfather (Man-Tat Ng) in the midst of the Earth crumbling as the side effects of crossing through Jupiter and as they try to escape, get commissioned to help transport the rescue mission lead by Wang Lei (Guangjie Li).

Wandering Earth

The story here, while isn’t quite as fresh as its premise, managing to add some little comedic moments through some goofy elements and characters and adding in the expected Chinese drama, in this case, mostly within the family drama with the main characters as well as the hardships and loss of hope through the rescue mission and its possibility of failure. However, where the film shines is in its emphasis on keeping on track with the action and giving this movie in its science fiction a certain level of disaster film quality as well that keeps the film propelling forward. The movie runs for over 2 hours and while some of the slower dramatic moments might drag out a little, the film does focus heavily on the concept of being united and keeps itself focused on these everyday realistic characters but never let them be heroes but rather to let them fight for mankind’s survival together. There’s something so precious and touching about this story as it works up to its endgame and reveals a little more about the state of the United Earth Government and adds in the internationalism with the different languages and authorities working together that makes this future feel hopeful and even utopic.

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The Wandering Earth might not be the best film of the decade (although it definitely is pretty close to at least the Top 20 for myself), but it does achieve a lot and defines a lot of the 2010s. While I would have loved to pick a movie that was also created by Netflix (or some other studio), the global distribution rights for Netflix shows off the change in landscape and how international films are more visible especially as they manage to reach platforms globally and become more accessible especially in the Chinese film market which has its many restrictions and is less openly advertised than other Asian films. As the world moves closer together, these channels give a chance to have access to more international films and especially, those that are as significant as The Wandering Earth with all the success its had in its own country. Its definitely worth a watch to see how far and competent Chinese film are especially great with one that is pretty much a sci-fi blockbuster.


You can check out the full archive of Ultimate 2010s blogathon posts as they go up, updated daily HERE.

Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews to check out my co-host’s kick-off movie review!

Blogathon Reminder: Ultimate 2010s Blogathon! There’s Still Time To Join!

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Hey everyone!

A friendly reminder to everyone! Ultimate 2010s Blogathon deadline is right around the corner in ONE WEEK on February 9th!

If you missed the announcement and would like to join in, there’s still time. You can find all the info HERE.

If you are just seeing this now and need a little more time, don’t be shy to drop us an email and we can arrange it. If anyone you know would like to join in, share it with others. The more the merrier~!

 

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon Finale: The Hangover (2009) by Drew’s Movie Reviews

Time sure flies by! Ultimate 2000s Blogathon is at its final finale post with my awesome co-host Drew sharing his review of 2009 comedy, The Hangover. He takes an in-depth look at the comedies that influenced 2000s and the subgenres that thrived throughout before sharing his thoughts on one that no doubt is a favorite among many people and suitably, one to wrap up this blogathon as it was released in the final year of this decade.


The HangoverMany comedies of the 2000s are based around characters that are crude, clueless, and, put frankly, idiotic. These movies are an evolution of the slap stick films from earlier decades. There are stylistic hints from films like The Naked Gun, The Cannonball Run, Dumb and Dumber, and Happy Gilmore. We began seeing glimpses of this new brand of humor in movies like American Pie and Zoolander. By 2004, this new brand of humor had become the norm. Movies like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Napoleon Dynamite embodied 2000s comedy and characters. These characters were vulgar and naive. The films themselves reveled in their gags and ‘did he really just say/do that’ moments, relying on making the audience laugh from becoming flabbergasted or uncomfortable, rather than genuinely finding the moment or joke funny.

This is especially true in the spoof movies. Movies like Scary Movie, Superhero Movie and Insert-Whatever-Genre-Here Movie looked to cash in on pop culture and parody whatever genre was in the title. Spoofs are nothing new in Hollywood.  Mel Brooks practically made his name making spoofs like Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and Spaceballs. And then there is everyone’s favorite spoof: Airplane!. While these movies shared many similarities with with the parody films of the 2000s, their scripts were solid and, you know, actually funny, an element severely lacking from most of the spoofs during this time period.

By the end of the 2000s, comedy filmmakers were learning that this latest iteration of comedy films needed to be refined; that ignorant or appalling actions do not automatically equal funny. And while actors can be funny on their own, or sometimes ad-lib better and funnier lines, the movie can’t solely rely on them and the script needs to support the actors.  While not every comedy fit this decade-defining mold, such as EuroTrip or The 40-Year-Old Virgin, these feel like exceptions, not the norm. Although this type of comedy, what I’ve come to call ‘stupid funny,’ still continued into the 2010s, it wasn’t to the extent that existed in the previous decade.

Moving into the tail-end of the 2000s, comedies began changing how they approached their characters. They were still profane and sometimes oblivious but that wasn’t the focus the film anymore. Crude jokes weren’t often being made for the sake of being crude. Instead, the films were becoming smart, insightful, and sometimes even filled with heart. Movies like Baby Mama, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I love You, Man, and Tropic Thunder used their comedy to amplify their story, not be the crux of it. They shared many characteristics with the earlier comedies of the 2000s but writers and directors had learned how to use these characteristics more effectively.

To make a long story short, that is why I have chosen The Hangover as my second and final entry for the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon. I could have chosen a film set squarely in the middle of the era of comedies that defined the 2000s. However, these early- and mid-years feel more like stepping stones to get to the comedies in the latter part of the decade that told better stories and were still funny without solely relying on its stars. I believe that The Hangover is one of the best examples of this. So without any further ado, here is my review of The Hangover.

Synopsis
Doug (Justin Bartha) is getting married. For his bachelor party, his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), take him to Las Vegas. Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up the morning after arriving in Vegas with no memory of what happened the night before. They attempt to retrace their steps to figure out what happened and to find Doug, who has gone missing.

Review
When a movie comes along that has a phenomenal cast with perfect chemistry, who are backed by a memorable and quotable script, I get excited. It makes it even better when that criteria applies to a comedy because, in my honest opinion, comedy films are one of the hardest genres to make everything click. The Hangover checks all the correct comedy film boxes and more.

The first thing this movie nails is the casting. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis all have very different brands of humor. Their deliveries are different, their body language is different, their mannerisms are different. Nothing about them is the same. And yet, they all mesh together so well. Their different styles complement each other wonderfully. Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis are in almost every scene together and every scene is filled to the brim with laughs. Coincidence? I think not.

Everyone in the supporting cast is top notch as well.  Justin Bartha rounds out the group of friends at the center of the film. While not much is seen of him, he does add an extra dynamic to the group when he is there. Smaller roles from Heather Graham, Rob Riggle, Bryan Callen, Jeffrey Tambor, and Mike Tyson all bring the laughs. However, the best member from the supporting cast is Ken Jeong. He had me in stitches every time he was on screen. He deserves as much praise as the headlining three.

Even though Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis are funny on their own (and together), the script amplifies their comedic strengths. The script, written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, feels fresh and clever compared to other comedies of the time. It leaves the audience just as in the dark about the previous night’s events as the characters, so as they piece together what happens, the audience is right there with them. It’s crass, it’s vulgar, and at times it’s irreverent, but It doesn’t rely on toilet humor or leaving the viewers dumbfounded to be funny. It uses jokes or visual gags that are funny because they are truly well written or well delivered. As a result, The Hangover is insanely quotable and has very few diminishing returns on its jokes.

This movie reminded me a road trip movie. In road trip movies, the main characters are going from point A to point B, and along the way, they meet people who usually only show up for a scene or two. This format fits this film as well; Phil, Stu, and Alan are going to these different places to try and piece together what happened the night before. It’s fun because it allows the focus to remain on the three main characters while allowing the supporting cast to have their own funny and unique moments.

I thought The Hangover was GREAT 😀 The entire cast had me laughing throughout the film. Every scene was filled with jokes and gags that always landed and are just as humorous after many, many views later. I can think of no better film than to call the best comedy of the decade.

Favorite Quote
Doug: I don’t think you should be doing too much gambling tonight, Alan.
Alan: Gambling? Who said anything about gambling? It’s not gambling when you know you’re gonna
win. Counting cards is a foolproof system.
Stu: It’s also illegal.
Alan: It’s not illegal, it’s frowned upon, like masturbating on an airplane.
Phil: I’m pretty sure that’s illegal too.
Alan: Yeah, maybe after 9/11 where everybody got so sensitive.  Thanks a lot, Bin Laden.

Trivia
No effects or prosthetics were created for Stu’s missing tooth. Ed Helms never had an adult incisor grow, and his fake incisor was taken out for the parts of filming where Stu’s tooth is missing.  (via IMDb)

Trailer  

Cast & Crew  
Tod Phillips – Director
Jon Lucas – Writer
Scott Moore – Writer
Christophe Beck – Composer

Bradley Cooper – Phil
Ed Helms – Stu
Zach Galifianakis – Alan
Justin Bartha – Doug
Heather Graham – Jade
Sasha Barrese – Tracy
Jeffrey Tambor – Sid
Ken Jeong – Mr. Chow
Rachael Harris – Melissia
Mike Tyson – Himself
Jernard Burks – Leonard
Mike Epps – Black Dog
Rob Riggle – Officer Franklin
Cleo King – Officer Garden
Bryan Callen – Eddie


Remember to check back at Drew’s Movie Reviews as we conclude the entire blogathon tomorrow.

You can read all the entries that took part in this blogathon HERE.

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon: Juno (2007) by From the Depths of DVD Hell

The guest to join this Ultimate 2000s Blogathon is Elwood Jones, my co-host of Movies and Tea and Game Warp Podcast as he represents his own movie blog, From the Depths of DVD Hell. For reviews of movies that stray away from the mainstream and dive into the obscure, cult and foreign selections, this is the place to go! For this blogathon, he chooses to take a look at 2007’s indie coming of age teen comedy Juno.


juno

Title: Juno

Director: Jason Reitman

Released: 2007

Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, J.K. Simmons

Plot: After finding out she is pregnant, high school teen Juno (Page) she soon finds herself face with some tough choices of what to do about her unborn child.

Review: Having been brought to the attention of producer Mason Novick after he discovered her blog about stripping Diablo Cody was almost instantly a hot property first for her memoir Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper and unquestionably when she claimed the Best Screenplay Oscar for her debut script. Of course like anything which is a hot property on it’s release there is always the question as to if they still hold up down the line which in particular was what inspired my own re-watch of this film having watched it when it on its original release but hardly thought about it since while Cody despite being marked as an exciting new voice has struggled to create anything which comes close to her debut script.

Juno is the blueprint of the smart-mouthed hipster teen which Director Jason Reitman wastes little time in establishing as she trades barbs with Rainn Wilson’s sarcastic convenience store clerk, after walking through her town swigging Sunny Delight to Barry Louis Polisar’s “All I Want is You”. Even her pregnancy announcement to best friend / Crush Paulie (Cera) has her dragging a furniture set to his lawn only to drop it on him with such casualness that she might as well be making diner plans. At the same time she is unquestionably the sort of character who only exists in the fictional realm with his smart mouth and retro obsessions and certainly with the numerous smart mouth teens which followed in the films wake, as well as a string of teen pregnancies labelled “The Juno Effect” by Time magazine after 17 students at a Gloucester, Massachusetts high school became pregnant which many accused this film and Knocked Up released in the same year of glamorizing teenage pregnancy though how the later could be accused of such a thing is unclear, more so because none of the cast are close to high school age. What makes Juno stand out though is unquestionably Ellen Page who’d prior to this film already caused waves for her pedophile punishing antics in Hard Candy and here really made the character her own as she influenced many of the key details for the character such as her hair as well as the soundtrack being heavy on Kimya Dawson as she felt that this is what Juno would choose to listen to.

Soundtrack wise there’s a mixture of hipster folk from the aforementioned Kimya Dawson and her old band the Mouldy Peaches and a couple of Belle and Sebastian tracks mixed in with a some retro tracks from Mott the Hoople and a Sonic Youth cover of the Carpenters “Superstar” which became one of the selling points of the soundtrack. Largely its just background music which never seems to gel with the film as more often battles for your attention with what’s happening on the screen rather than complementing it. Removed from the film its a fun background music for hangouts, hinging largely on how much you like the abstract tones of Kimya Dawson.

One of the most refreshing aspects to the film though is is how it approaches the subject of teenage pregnancy as Juno is clear from the start that she has no plans to keep the baby with a sobering visit to a Women first clinic broaching a taboo subject which most films wouldn’t touch. Sure the film might not be venturing as deep as Tony Kaye’s “Lake of Fire” but it’s acknowledgement of abortion gives the film much more of a grounding that you would have expected from a film so focused on whitty pop culture influence dialogue. This visit in terms of plotting does serve a purpose as ultimately leading her to Mark and Vanessa to arrange a closed adoption which also forms the real meat of the film as starts to learn more about this couple she is going to be giving her child to.

Seeing this couple develop like our opinions of them over the course of the film is one of the strongest aspects of the film with Vanessa initially coming off the cold only to showing deeper levels of warmth to her character especially with her desire to become a mother. Mark on the other hand still clings onto few traces of rock star ambition that Vanessa allows him to keep in “his room” of their pristine house while he now pays the bills writing jingles for commercials which needless to say plays his character perfectly off Vanessa’s who is seen as the dream crusher initially with Juno and Mark soon bonding over a love of music and horror movies. By the time that Juno is due to deliver this relationship soon takes a darker turn reminding us once more just how well Bateman does suburban creepy while Cody pulls a switch-a-roo with our feelings for these characters the final pay off being delivered not in some stirring monologue but instead a simple note.

Perhaps it could be argued that the film does let Juno off attachment free when it comes to her baby as she is merely just the carrier and host to this child and any comment she really makes about the child is in how its effecting her physically than any kind of connection. As a result she give away her child and settles back into her life nine months prior to this incident now only with the knowledge that she has unconventionally helped someone out.

Juno in many ways marked the high watermark for the American Indie genre before the collapse of several of the major studios which soon saw the remaining studios move away from investing in such risky material which is something of a shame when we consider the wealth of material which came out of this period such as Little Miss Sunshine and The Squid and The Whale. At the same time while this film might not feel as hip on the rewatch as it did back on it’s original release a strong likeable performance from Ellen Page carries the film which at the least should be appreciated for it’s fierce originality as it sidesteps genre cliches to deliver it’s story in a voice which is very much its own.


A huge thanks to our final guest Elwood Jones for joining with this blogathon with a great review of Juno.

We head into me and Drew’s conclusion posts after this one. If you missed any entries, you can find the entire list HERE.