Tag Archives: arthur

Binky International Film Festival: Day Eight

Hello and welcome to Day Eight of “Binky International Film Festival“! I can’t believe we actually made it to Day Eight, I thought I was going to be done with this in a week. How wrong can I be. 🙂 And I really hope you are enjoying this series as much as I do. I don’t know if I’m going to make this an annual event yet, but I’m considering it. This was so much fun for me to do, even as I’m battling the flu. Didn’t mean that to rhyme.

Anyway. Today we are going to take a look at some great and not-so-great 2011 comedies with the genre “Laugh It Up”. I love drama as much as the next girl, but my first love will always be comedy. Life is no trip for me, and sometimes I just want to forget my troubles and laugh without any inhibition. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Life is far too important a thing to be taken seriously.” That being said, let’s all take a look at this year’s comedies!

Laugh It Up

30 Minutes Or Less

Opening Weekend: August 12, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 83 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Michael Diliberti. Story by Michael Diliberti & Matthew Sullivan
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, etc

I usually love slacker comedies, and I always love Jesse Eisenberg, but for some reason I couldn’t really connect with this one. I don’t know why, I guess it’s just really not that funny. Which is a shame because Aziz Ansari is hilarious in Parks and Recreation – and here he’s just kind of meh. Jesse Eisenberg still plays up the old nervous, neurotic schtick but it doesn’t really work here. He’s funny when he’s neurotic when there’s no reason to be. But having a bomb strapped to his chest kind of defeats the purpose. This falls in the “not-so-great” comedy of 2011 for the unmemorable-ness of it all.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Horrible Bosses

Opening Weekend: July 8, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 98 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Seth Gordon & Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldberg. Story by Michael Markowitz
Stars: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, etc

Who knew that little Sam Weir from Freaks and Geeks who later grew up to be cutie Dr. Sweets in Bones would actually be multi-talented as well as easy on the eyes? He wrote this hilarious summer comedy and judging from the box office earnings, and the fact that my brother-in-law scream giggled his way through the movie, Horrible Bosses definitely falls in the pretty great comedy category. All three leads: Bateman, Sudeikis and Day were simply fantastic, backed by a strong supporting cast (which includes Jennifer Aniston! She’s been in the tabloids so much we’ve forgotten she can be funny. Welcome back, Jen Aniston), and laugh out loud lines – this movie is the 2011 comedy you shouldn’t miss. So get to the DVD store (or Netflix) before the year is over!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Take Me Home Tonight

Opening Weekend: March 4, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 97 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Michael Dowse & Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo. Story by Topher Grace & Gordon Kaywin
Stars: Topher Grace, Anna Farris, Chris Pratt, Dan Fogler, etc

Critics weren’t so kind with this set-in-the-80s sorta coming of age comedy, but I actually didn’t think it was that bad. It’s not “oh my god this is the greatest thing ever” good but it’s watchable, and it has some really funny parts too. Topher Grace, like Jesse Eisenberg, always nails the nervous, neurotic pasty white guy role, and he’s in his element in this movie. Anna Farris, as always, shows why she’s probably the most underrated comedic actress of the year. And Chris Pratt, her real life husband, plays her jerk (but loving) fiance so perfectly. The story, however, is just so-so and follows the typical “staying up all night” comedy formula, which makes the movie predictable and boring in some parts. But hey, if you have nothing to do on a weekend, there’s no harm in trying this movie out.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Paul

Opening Weekend: March 18, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 104 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Greg Mottola & Simon Pegg, Nick Frost.
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, etc

This is quite possibly, my favorite comedy of 2011 (along with Bridesmaids), and sadly not many people saw this movie. Maybe it’s because the title is just too vague, or maybe because Americans aren’t as familiar with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the Brits do, or maybe because of lack of promotion – in any case, it was criminally ignored and I wish to rectify that. Go get Paul on DVD because, even if you’re not a sci-fi geek and you’re not into aliens, it’s still laugh out loud funny. Because Pegg and Frost are always brilliant together, and adding Seth Rogen as the politically incorrect alien, Kristen Wiig as the glass-eyed daughter of Bible-thumpin’ trailer park owner, Jason Bateman and Bill Hader as hapless FBI agents make this movie an insanely funny movie that everyone should watch. So watch Paul. You won’t regret it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Arthur

Opening Weekend: April 8, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 110 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Jason Winer, Peter Baynham. Story by Steve Gordon
Stars: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner

Speaking of British imports, Russell Brand may be the one that most international public are familiar with. There’s that whole schtick with the Jonas Brothers a few years ago, and then he married pop star Katy Perry (though rumor has it they’re “having troubles and spending time apart” so who knows how long they’ll last — UPDATE 12/30: Brand just filed for divorce), which made him a household name in both sides of the Atlantic. But that doesn’t mean that all his movies are successful. In fact, in the case of Arthur, it’s kind of a dud. It’s tricky to remake a classic, and it’s even trickier to remake a classic with a comedian like Brandt, who has a polarizing effect on the public. That’s not to say that Arthur is all bad, it has it moments. Sadly, there aren’t a lot of those. However, the soundtrack, produced by Mark Ronson and featuring Ben Gibbard, Daniel Merriwhether and Fitz and The Tantrums, is definitely worth listening to. 😉

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Your Highness

Opening Weekend: April 8, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 102 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): David Gordon Green & Danny McBride, Ben Best
Stars: Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, etc

This movie seems to have sparked only two reactions: love and loathe. For example, David Edelstein, NY Magazine’s resident film critic loves it. But then a lot of people hate it too. I usually don’t agree with Edelstein (he hates The Dark Knight and Inception, and calls Drive “overrated”) but for some weird reason he and I are in agreement about this one movie. I actually like Your Highness. It’s a screwball comedy done right, I think, and Justin Theroux, who is much much more than just Jen Aniston’s boytoy du jour, is simply delicious as the villain. Is this movie crass? Absolutely. Does it have a coherent plot? Not so much. But is it funny? Yes. Both Portman and Deschanel were delightful, McBride was hilarious and James Franco once again is a delight in his clueless Pineapple Express-y comedic way. I thought it was a fun watch.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The Change-Up

Opening Weekend: August 5, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 112 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): David Dobkin & Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Stars: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde, Leslie Mann, etc

This is another comedy in this list that critics seem to hate, and I don’t exactly fault them. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this movie, but I understand completely why they did. The problem isn’t in the premise, tired as it may seem this whole Freaky Friday body-swapping thing, nor the actors – both Bateman and Reynolds know how to bring the funny and Mann and Wilde are great sidekicks, but it’s in the fact that the movie tries just a little too hard to be funny. It’s like watching a stand up comedian who’s nervous and tries too hard to make people laugh that he resorts to slipping on a banana peel, when all he needs to do is just tell the jokes and he might actually get some sincere laughs. That’s kinda how this movie feels. It could’ve been actually enjoyable and funny, but it just tries too hard to be and it ends up being not that funny. Shame, really, because it really does have the potential but it just can’t quite get there.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

And that concludes Day Eight of Binky International Film Festival. We only have two more days to go, you guys! I really hope I can finish on New Year’s Eve, but you’ll have to blame Downton Abbey if I don’t because I am still busy devouring both seasons right now. 😉 Don’t worry, I kid. Not about Downton Abbey. We’ll get to Day 10 on the 31st, I promise. But check back in tomorrow, on Day Nine we’ll take a look at this new genre I just invented: “Romance That Makes Me Want To Stick A Fork In My Eye”. I know, it’s a mouthful. But it should be fun, so I’ll see you back here tomorrow!

xoxo

Binky Bee

Advertisements

Something Old, Something New…

Despite the title, this post is not about weddings. In fact, it has nothing to do with one. I just thought the title is catchy. 🙂 Anyway, I got the idea for this post from a fellow WordPress-er (is that the correct term?) and twitter friend Madmonq (everyone check out his blog, it’s pretty awesome). He once told me on twitter that my “pop culture consumption is impressive”, which I took as a compliment. 😉 Now, I’m not a greedy person and I believe in sharing the wealth. So I thought I should share with you my recommendation on all things (well, maybe some things) pop culture. Who knows, maybe you’ll get something good out of it… a new favorite show or movie, perhaps?

So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

NOTE: The title “Something old, something new” means I’m going to recommend something new/just released/recently premiered and something great that has been around for a while.

At The Movies:

Arthur
Stars: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Greta Gerwig
Director: Jason Winer
Release Date: April 1, 2011

Synopsis:
Irresponsible charmer Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) has always relied on two things to get by: his limitless fortune and the good sense of lifelong nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren) to keep him out of trouble. Now he faces his biggest challenge–choosing between an arranged marriage that will ensure his lavish lifestyle or an uncertain future with the one thing money can’t buy, Naomi (Greta Gerwig), the only woman he has ever loved. With Naomi’s inspiration and some unconventional help from Hobson, Arthur will take the most expensive risk of his life and finally learn what it means to become a man, in this re-imagining of the classic romantic comedy “Arthur.”

Why You Should Watch It:
I still haven’t seen the original for some reason so it’s part of the reason why I want to check this movie out. The thing about remakes is that it’s far more enjoyable if you haven’t seen the original, thus you have nothing to compare it with. And I actually like Russell Brand. I don’t like him enough to see all of his films but this one has Helen Mirren. I mean, Dame Helen Mirren. She’s the queen, for god’s sake. It should be reason enough. 🙂 Also, do you know who did the music for this movie? Mark Ronson, whom I happen to be madly in love with. This movie has my stamp of approval all over it, and if it turns out to be shit, well… I’m sorry? 😉

HappyThankYouMorePlease
Stars: Josh Radnor, Malin Akerman, Zoe Kazan, Kate Mara
Director: Josh Radnor
Release Date: March 4, 2011

Synopsis:
Six New Yorkers juggle love, friendship, and the keenly challenging specter of adulthood. Sam Wexler (Josh Radnor) is a struggling writer who’s having a particularly bad day. When a young boy gets separated from his family on the subway, Sam makes the questionable decision to bring the child back to his apartment and thus begins a rewarding, yet complicated, friendship between the two.

Why You Should Watch It:
This Sundance favorite is the brainchild of actor Josh Radnor, who is more famous as Ted, the complicated architect in search of his soulmate, in CBS hit comedy How I Met Your Mother, and even though (I think) it only got a limited release on theaters, the movie is quite a hit with critics and indie film lovers alike. For me, the biggest appeal of the movie is the existential crisis that this group of friends are going through, it’s definitely something I can relate to. Not to mention, it’s about New Yorkers and I am a sucker for movies about young, attractive New Yorkers trying to find their place in life. I don’t know if you can still find it in theaters but if it is… Go see it!

On The Couch:

Mr. Sunshine
Stars: Matthew Perry, Allison Janney, Andrea Anders, James LeSure
Network: ABC
Airs on: Wednesday, 9.30 PM EST

Premise:
Ben Donovan (Matthew Perry) is the operations manager for the Sunshine Center, a second-tier arena in San Diego, who has to deal with the unusual demands of his job and his unpredictable boss (Allison Janney) and his lovably kooky staff, while at the same time navigate the awkwardness of working closely with his ex and her new boyfriend.

Why You Should Watch It:
Mr Sunshine marks Matthew Perry’s second attempt to get back in television after Friends. His first attempt, in Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, crashed and burned quicker that you can say Studio 60. But recently, his fellow “Friends” have successfully returned to TV. Courtney Cox thrived with Cougar Town and Matt LeBlanc was redeemed by Episodes. It would seem twice is the charm for these Friends because along with Cougar Town and Episodes, Mr Sunshine turns out to be a funny, delightfully quirky comedy with a stellar supporting cast (Allison Janney, Andrea Anders, that black guy from Las Vegas) and the Matthew Perry we all love to watch; selfish, commitment-phobic, goofy but ultimately well-meaning. So if you’re looking for a fresh new comedy this mid-season, look no further than on ABC every Wednesday night, at least until Cougar Town returns (and then watch that show. It’s HILARIOUS. One of the best comedies on TV right now!)

United States of Tara
Stars: Toni Colette, John Corbett, Rosemary deWitt, Brie Larson, Keir Gilchrist and Patton Oswalt
Network: Showtime
Air Date: Monday, 10.30 PM EST

Premise:
Tara Gregson is a suburban housewife and a loving mother who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which, triggered by stress and trauma, makes her transition into one of her multiple alters; a 50s housewife named Alice, a Vietnam war veteran named Buck, an oversexed teenager named T and more recently a psychologist named Shoshana. The show follows Tara and her family as they try to deal with her illness and maintain some semblance of normalcy.

Why You Should Watch It:
The great TV reviewer Alan Sepinwall just published his review of this season of United States of Tara and he practically sung his praises. Over at New York Magazine, TV reviewer Emily Nussbaum also gave this show a glowing review, praising its boldness in tackling the difficult and often dark side of living with Dissociative Identity Disorder. In its third season, the show continues to grow and transform just like Tara and her family in their journey dealing with Tara’s many alters, and the psychological traumas that created them in the first place. However, despite its dark undertone, this show still manages to make us smile, especially with the help of the amazing Rosemary deWitt, one of the most underrated actresses of our time, and comedian Patton Oswalt as well as guest-star Eddie Izzard. The third season just premiered last Monday so I suggest you catch up on the first two seasons on DVD this weekend.

Fringe
Stars: Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, John Nobel, Lance Reddick, Jasika Nicole
Network: FOX
Air Date: Friday, 9 PM EST

Premise:
Fringe follows the casework of the Fringe Division, a Joint Federal Task Force supported primarily by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which includes Agent Olivia Dunham; Dr. Walter Bishop, the archetypal mad scientist; and Peter Bishop, Walter’s estranged son and jack-of-all-trades. They are supported by Phillip Broyles, the force’s director, and Agent Astrid Farnsworth, who assists Walter in laboratory research. The Fringe Division investigates cases relating to fringe science, ranging from transhumanist experiments gone wrong to the prospect of a destructive technological singularity to a possible collision of two parallel universes.

Why You Should Watch It:
Beloved sci-fi shows come and go rather quickly on network television, mostly because even though most people love to watch television, not that many love to watch sci-fi shows. Sure, there are millions and millions of sci-fi geeks out there but the numbers are still small compared to the reality TV addicts. Thus, network TV’s great sci-fi shows are almost always destined to be “cult-favorites” that get the axe after one or two seasons. By some miracle though, one of the most beloved sci-fi shows of the new millennium, Fringe, seems to escape the chopping block and has just been renewed for a fourth season. Why? Because of its freakishly loyal fans, yours truly included. And why are we freakishly loyal? Because the show is so darn good. Now that season three is coming to an end, we are all sitting at the edge of our seats, wondering if both universes will survive the season finale. If you have no clue what I am talking about, then you need to start watching the show. Right now. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

In The iTunes:

Angles
Artist: The Strokes
Release Date: March 21, 2011
Genre: Hip NYC Rock

What It Sounds Like:
According to the BBC Reviewer, “Early U2 and Talking Heads on a seesaw with The National acting as a fulcrum”, which is the description I happen to agree the most with.

Why This Needs To Be In Your Playlist:
The Strokes is cool again! Remember back in 2001-2002 when you were the only few people who have heard of The Strokes and you kept recommending their debut album Is This It to whoever gave you the time of day? Well “Angles” is like those times again, only better because this time people actually know what you’re talking about. Every track in the album is so addictive and I guarantee you, before long you’ll hear the songs of this album playing in the background in every TV show/movie you’ll watch for the next two years.

All You Need Is Now
Artist: Duran Duran
Release Date: March 21, 2011
Genre: 80s Forever

What it Sounds Like:
Think Duran Duran in their heyday in the early 80s. Think Rio, or as one reviewer on the web said, their “unashamed return to their original sound”.

Why This Needs To Be In Your Playlist:
Duran Duran will always remind me of being a kid again, five or six years old, sitting on the living room floor, watching in amazement while my older sister was blasting Rio from the Hi-Fi (yes, those were the days) and singing along to Simon LeBon. This new album takes me back to those days. It’s the 80s all over again and life is good. If you love this band back then, you’ll love this surprisingly nostalgic new album.

Record Collection
Artist: Mark Ronson and The Business Int’l
Release Date: Sept 27, 2010
Genre: Catchy Fun Electropop

What It Sounds Like:
The best of 80s robotic electropop mix with a lil bit of soul and hip hop. In my ears, pure heaven. But I’m a huge fan and therefore, a little bias. 🙂 But seriously, I think this is his best record to date.

Why This Needs To Be In Your Playlist:
Despite not having the best vocals in the world, this stylish uber-producer/DJ/sexiest man to ever walk on planet earth earnestly sang, “I only want to be in your record collection.” in the titular song of this album, and he should be. Record Collection is fresh, hip and fun, the kind of album you can listen to over and over again without driving yourself crazy, mostly because the songs are that good. From the brilliantly catchy Bang Bang Bang, featuring legendary rapper Q-Tip and newcomer MNDR (Amanda Warner) to the more soulful Somebody To Love Me, featuring the vocals of Boy George and Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt, this album is filled with songs that lift your spirits and make you want to dance, while at the same time the lyrics make you reflect on love, life and what makes us human. One of my favorites is Hey Girl, featuring the vocals of ex-Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall, that’s both sweet and addictive like Halloween candy treats. Mark Ronson may have polarizing effect on people; some, like me, are absolutely besotted, while some just can’t stand him, but I think this album may have reconciled both camps. It is just that good.

So there you have it, my friends, from my pop culture-addled brain to yours, my recommendation for the remaining months of Spring. Summer is upon us, and I’ll be sure to post my recommendation to get you through those long hot days. But in the meantime, I shall bid you adieu and I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Xoxo

Binky Bee