Serena (2014)

A week ago, I scored some tickets to go see the advanced screening of Serena.  I really don’t know much about this one other than the fact that its based on a novel and that it stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Both of them have my highest respect so although I’m not exactly a fan of drama, I was ready to give this out.  Plus, its free,right? Along with one of my girl friends, we headed over to see it.

Note: My friend is a fantastic movie companion because she helped discuss the movie with me afterwards.

serenaDirector: Susanne Bier

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones, Sean Harris, Sam Reid, Blake Ritson, Ana Ularu

In North Caroline 1929, George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper) is trying to build his lumber empire, hoping to expand to Brazil one day.  While away taking care of business, he meets the beautiful Serena (Jennifer Lawrence) where their passion quickly leads them to a flash marriage.  Serena proves to be not only a great wife but also a convincing partner as her beauty matches to her abilities to win herself over the men working in the lumber company. However, her appearance there also has complicated a few relationships.

Oh, Serena, Serena, Serena…. you know how some movies are really bad and you can laugh at it because its so bad.  Like, Sharknado or whatever that doesn’t take themselves seriously.  This one is just really bad.  I’m pretty lenient on movies but let me say this, we had the option to comment as we exited the theatre and the guy responsible asked my friend and she used one word: Painful.  Let me break it down for you a little.

Lets start with the good stuff, ok?

serena

– The location: Smoky mountains, North Carolina, the scenes.  They were all so beautiful.
– Jennifer Lawrence was extremely convincing as Serena.  Her intensity and how she’s equally smart and capable as the men there and her passion fuming a little crazy bitch thing going on.  She was fantastic.
-The rest of the cast: Bradley Cooper, Rhys Ifans etc. were also really good with each of their roles

serena

Now, what suffered?

The script, my friends.  I was curious and went to check out some comments on the novel Serena before I wrote up this.  I got everything the book seems to want to portray: passion and revenge.  Its there. The pacing is absolutely horrible though.  I looked at my watch at about 30 minutes into the movie and thats because it felt like an hour had gone through and nothing has happened except for a lot of random extremely short sex scenes.  At one particular scene involving a bathtub (highlight if you want to see the spoiler: with Jennifer Lawrence being fingered and sex moans ), I started wondering if I was watching soft porn.  Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at passionate sex scenes (no matter how short they are). I promise you passion is the message they want here and its done too much.

serena

So thats just 30 minutes, right? For a movie called Serena, she wasn’t really present.  She has this invisible presence, I guess. She did cause a lot of the problems because of her being there.  Another dude that gets a little weird: quiet and creepy (like Serena’s character in a way) is Galloway.  He says this really weird line before hell breaks loose and everyone laughs because it was so awkward. 

I don’t want to go all judge-y and mean.  Its not who I am but this movie really wasn’t that great. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper and Rhys Ifans, they acted the hell out of this one with what they had but other than the lovely scenery and their convincing acting, the script isn’t strong at all. The message is in there but I just never was able to get into the story or connect with it and its characters.  Not one of them. It was just slow and boring and since I didn’t connect with anything, the ending just made it even worse.

I’m really chill with movies and I try to find something good about it but this one was like watching meaningless porn, then it tried to put me to sleep when that died off.  There is definitely something going on here and I think as a novel, it probably works a gazillion times better.  In fact, I’m going to pick up a copy of that novel and check it out.  I get what the story is trying to do but some things aren’t meant for the big screen and I have a feeling, this is one of those times.

Have you read the novel Serena? Shed some light on your thoughts of it.

Have you seen Serena and what did you think of it? If you didn’t, did the movie intrigue you?

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

After over a month of seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m FINALLY finishing up what I started.

Its weird that I didn’t do this sooner because for one, my movie experience was pretty peculiar.

Not quite as memorable as the whole dog in a theatre nudging on my chair annoying as when I saw Gravity, I sat next to a very peculiar guy with his girlfriend who not only walked past us countless times (we prefer aisle seats) before the movie started, he finally sat down and started answering to my sarcastic comments that I was saying to my boyfriend in the previews.  It was a bit weird because I don’t really mean to interact with strangers.  Movies are like my little bubble.  So, yes, as I’ve thanked Cineplex before, I thank them again for having armrests that go up so I could scoot closer to my boyfriend 😉

Plus, we were in a smart crowd and I wanted to high five the (approximately) 80% that stayed for the after credits scene. FINALLY, people are getting it 😉

guardians of the galaxyDirector: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan

I’ve taken so long to write this up that I don’t really think that I can add anymore than everyone has already said.  Guardians of the Galaxy is an awesome movie and it was so much fun.  If there’s anything I would say is that I rarely find the villains of these team superhero movies to be really villainous.  Thats the only thing really.  Granted, the appearance of Ronan is a lot creepier than say Loki in The Avengers.  Yes, I had issues with Loki but thats because I hadn’t seen Thor so I didn’t know who he was.  I appreciated him more after I caught up with the Marvel movies that came out before The Avengers.  Right now, our focus is on this new team, Guardians of the Galaxy.  Point is, I had a lot of fun with this one! 🙂

Normally, here’s where I’ll start writing the review but this time, I’m going to approach this in a different way: a list of what I liked about the movie, which is EVERYTHING!

TEAM AND CHEMISTRY (plus a hint of their humor)

guardians group

80s MIX TAPE AND MUSIC

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

STAR LORD/PETER QUILL

Star Lord

ROCKET WITH GUNS/Groot & Rocket Bromance

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

GROOT

groot

groot

There you go! Just 5 short and quick points about what I  loved about the movie.  There are probably a few other ones but off the top of my head and to get this out of the way 😉

The last is my fave.  Groot is an amazing character because c’mon, he had 3 words to say through the entire movie over and over again and different intonations gave it a different feeling.  My fave part was where he was having a conversation with Rocket and even though all he said was “I am Groot”, Rocket totally got what he was saying (or maybe he was just pretending?).

Either way, I love it! 🙂

What are your thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy? Is there something else that you liked?

Three Quick Reviews: Less Than Zero, Youth in Revolt, Limitless

As most of you have seen, I’ve been taking it easy with the whole posting world.  One reason is that its hit me that I’ve been really tired so I’m trying to find a balance between everything I post to kind of not slack off on the quality of the context but slow down the frequency of posting, especially now that I’ve start up a second blog.  However, I do want this one to keep one of its main focus on movies so no worries, I will get back to it. Plus, I have a few theatre visits planned so because of slowing down, I had a few movies hanging out in my drafts and I realize the best way to approach this is to do quick reviews 🙂 I promise to not do this frequently but sometimes, its quite refreshing 😉

Lets get it going…

LESS THAN ZERO (1987)

less than zero

Director: Marek Kanievska

Cast: Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr., James Spader

Clay(Andrew McCarthy) heads off to college leaving his two best friends behind as they both carry on with their lives.  His ex-girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz) decides to stay behind and pursue her career as a model while Julian asks his dad to open his own business.  When Clay comes back home for the holiday as his ex-girlfriend’s request, he realizes that things aren’t as smooth as he had expected for his friends.  Julian is now a drug addict who has lost all his father’s money and owes even another rich kid drug dealer money. Putting his own troubles aside, he tries to help with Julian’s situation before its too late.

less than zero

After watching Pretty in Pink, I have gained a fondness for Andrew McCarthy.  He has a weird vibe in his movies but the boyfriend told me that he heard that this one was good so I gave this one a shot.  I didn’t know that Robert Downey Jr. was in this.  Let me just clarify that I’m only a fan of his newer movies so that gave me a little bit of doubt.  Surprisingly, I thought this was a well-made movie that had a strong message about the danger of drug addiction with youth. The most notable performance goes out to Robert Downey Jr.  I never thought I’d say this about his earlier works but he did a very convincing role.

As I was reading, this is supposed to be loosely based on a book with the same title but I’ve never read it so I can’t compare.

Have you read the novel? Have you seen Less Than Zero? What do you think about it? Are you a Robert Downey Jr. fan?  

YOUTH IN REVOLT (2006)

youth in revolt poster

Director: Miguel Arteta

Cast: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Ari Graynor, Justin Long, Ray Liotta

When Nick Twisp’s mother, Estelle (Jean Smart) moves out to the country to live in a trailer while her boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis) hides away from sailors that he cons money from. There he meets a girl, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) that he falls in love with completely.  Any hideaway comes to an end and when he has to leave, he promises Sheeni that he will find a way to get back to her.  With Sheeni’s smartness and his absolute desire to get back to her, Nick tries to find a balance between himself and a slowly develop completely bad alter personality called Francois to give himself courage to be a rebel.

youth in revolt sheeni nick

As I sat through Youth in Revolt, the only thing that ran through my mind was that it was weird.  Its a good weird though because it made me curious about what else would happen.  Honestly, the more fun parts of this was when Nick channeled Francois into his life.  It turned into his own journey to be more courageous and figure out how to be who he had to be.

Youth in Revolt

Although, I wasn’t sure about Sheeni’s intentions, Nick’s desires to be with her had some pretty cute elements to it along with some pretty funny dorky ones as well. Plus, there are many stars before they did some bigger movies in their career here.

What do you think about Youth in Revolt? Have you seen it?

LIMITLESS (2011)

Limitless

Director: Neil Burger

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), a uninspired writer whose girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) just left him, tries this experimental drug called NZT which unlocks 100% of the brain’s capacity.  This allows him to not only finish his book but also learn things at quick pace which he uses in financial investments.  Thats when Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), a powerful  and cunning energy business man uses him to settle a deal that he is trying to land.  As the drugs unknown effects start taking a toll on him, there are also others who have learnt about this drug and want to have their hands on its limited supply putting Eddie in danger on multiple fronts.

Limitless eddie

The premise for this was a good one.  I think it had a really decent idea but the execution fell short.  The script could have been stronger but what it does have is one of the better roles that I’ve seen of Bradley Cooper.  I personally have mixed feelings about him but so far, aside from my hatred for The Hangover, he’s been involved in decent movies. I haven’t seen Silver Linings Playbook so that doesn’t count.  As ridiculous and predictable as some of the events are, it has a pretty intriguing beginning to set up how the movie was heading and right away, it wasn’t a movie that you needed to really over think the details too much if you intend to enjoy it.  And I didn’t, so I actually found it alright.  It could have been better but lets not be too picky sometimes 😉

What do you think about Bradley Cooper? What are your thoughts on Limitless?

Valentine’s Marathon: He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)

It seems that these multiple story movies are becoming a thing.  They usually don’t get a lot of praise except for Love Actually, which was possibly the first of its kind.  This one doesn’t seem to have a lot of good ratings on it either on IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes but when it first came out, I had no expectations from it at first and it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Now I’m going back to see it again for this marathon, lets see how that went…

he's just not that into youDirector: Ken Kwapis

Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kevin Connolly, Scarlett Johansson, Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck, Justin Long, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Drew Barrymore

Based on the self-help book by the author of Sex and the City, He’s Just Not That Into You looks at different types of relationships amongst a group of people that are linked together through friends, coworkers, acquaintances or simply coincidence and how a lot of people will misread and misunderstand the signals that other people send off.  We start with Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin) who is on the search for a relationship.  She always wonders and waits to see if a guy will call her back after a first date or after a first meeting at the bar.  That is until she meets the friend of one of the dates that she decides to try and “accidentally” see.  Alex (Justin Long) is the manager of the City Supper Club and he is the exact opposite of Gigi because he can read the signals of others very well and because of this, he starts helping Gigi in her future pursuits.  At the same time, the guy who Gigi saw at the beginning of the movie, Conor (Kevin Connolly) who is obsessed with Anna (Scarlett Johansson) who had slept with him before but now only finds him in times of need for comfort and affection.  Anna is trying to build a career as a singer and at the supermarket one night, she meets Ben (Bradley Cooper) who is a married man and is in a business that can help her with her career.  They are attracted with each other and despite Ben trying to resist, he eventually has an affair with her while his wife Janine (Jennifer Connelly) is putting all her focus into their new house’s renovations.  At work, Janine’s coworker Beth (Jennifer Aniston) has been in a relationship with Neil (Ben Affleck) for 7 years and she wants to get married however, Neil does not want to.  A string of stories that looks into a guy’s signals and the rules and exceptions of whether a guy is into you or not.

he's just not that into you 1

“If a guy’s into you, he will make it happen no matter what”

Let me just say that I originally didn’t really think I would like this movie at all.  The first time I saw this and realized that it was based on the Sex and the City author.  I don’t really have too much love for those series. Never really caught on to it maybe or its just not my type of series. Either way, this flick was definitely good.  It definitely sticks to its boundaries of being a romantic comedy and especially with a relatively strong cast.  It was witty and fun.  They put in interviews of other people to make it a bit more original with certain issues they were dealing with for example, “if a man doesn’t want to marry you…” then it flips over to people talking about it and some of them are funny.

he's just not that into you 2

If you can brush off the whole trying to be a self-help and teaching us the signs of when things aren’t working out which from the things I’ve read are usually based on stereotypes because we all know that every relationship is different.  If you just solely focus on the stories and think about it in one basic way: Each girl is the exception to the rule when in the eyes of the guy that loves us for who we are.  Its as simple as that.  So take that and just go for the ride and you might enjoy this movie.  One warning though, even if you fellow men out there are okay with rom-coms, I really don’t recommend this one to any guys.  You might want to either fall asleep or yell at the stereotypes (unless you like any of the actresses for their good looks).  I mean, even I wanted to yell at the stereotypes, especially those that Gigi had where she just sits by the phone and waits for the guy to call.  Are all girls supposed to be portrayed as being that desperate?  That part really bothered me because I guess its an extreme to bring Gigi to portray the desperate need to find a guy and how she doesn’t know how to read the signals that the guy is sending out each time so she just hopes all the time. Its the concept of never losing hope that is the theme of her story, so I guess you can’t really blame her.

he's just not that into you 3

As much as all the side stories were cool, the main story is of Gigi’s search for romance and how she learns that its better to have tried to fall in love than to just block out the feeling of being able to love someone.  This is miles and miles away from as being as epic as Love Actually (which I reviewed HERE!), but it does have some witty and fun moments and as always in these flicks, some sweet and touching moments as well.  No tears will be shed but there is enough smiles and laughs to be had.  I state once more that guys should avoid this…it can’t be more targeted towards girls than teaching girls how to know when guys aren’t into them.  This may not be an epic movie but as generic as it may seem, it is really helped a lot by the chemistry that the talented cast brings.

Oh right, one more thing, if you do end up seeing this, you should definitely wait for the ending credits because they still have a few scenes there and those are actually pretty good and wraps up the movie in a pretty good way.

Have you seen this? Did you like it? Do you enjoy these multi-story setup for movies or are they confusing and hard to perfect?