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Binky International Film Festival: Day Ten

Hello and welcome to Day Ten of our first ever “Binky International Film Festival“. We have reached the end of 2011 and also the end of this series, yeay! 🙂 I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog series as much as I have, it has been great, looking back and reviewing the movies I saw this year, and I’m really excited to begin 2012 because it seems like it’s only going to get better, what with the highly anticipated Hunger Games and The Amazing Spider-man premiering in March and May respectively.

And now let’s end this series right with the last genre: “Cool Guy Flicks”. It’s not action hero, but it’s pretty darn close. Cool Guy Flicks are the movies in which the protagonist charms, dazzles, saves the day and gets the girl. There aren’t that many that I saw in 2011 but the ones I did were pretty memorable, so let’s take a look, shall we?

“Cool Guy Flicks”

Limitless

Opening Weekend: March 18, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 105 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Neil Burger & Leslie Dixon
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Abby Cornish, Robert DeNiro, Anna Friel

Haven’t you ever wished there was a drug that could make you not only smarter, faster, stronger but also be as cool as Bradley Cooper? In Limitless, that’s exactly what happens to loser Bradley Cooper when he gets his hands on a drug that turns him into super awesome Bradley Cooper – like all the cool Bradley Cooper characters you love combined. Of course great power comes a great price, but you can’t deny that while he’s on top of the world, it is an awesome wild ride. Bradley Cooper does charming manic really well, and even though I still think he’s  NOT the sexiest man alive, I can see the appeal. One thing I especially love about the movie the unusual ending, something refreshing (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it) that doesn’t usually happen in movies like this. If you want your cool guy flick comes with a dash of intelligence, you definitely should give this one a watch.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Source Code

Opening Weekend: April 1, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 93 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Duncan Jones & Ben Ripley
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga

Unlike Limitless’ Bradley Cooper, Source Code’s cool guy protagonist isn’t exactly all charming and handsome and powerful. However he does have to save a train full of people from a terrorist attack over and over again, so he’s definitely a real hero. I really like the premise of Source Code, especially when the possibility of alternate realities (universes) existing within the source code is introduced, and Jake Gyllenhaal knows how to carry this movie and plays the hero without being a little too much, but the ending kind of pisses me off a bit because it opts for a romantic happy ending that leaves more questions than answers, at least when it comes to the logic of these alternate universes that exist within the source code. It’s good right up until the end and then it gets kind of lame, which makes it a little frustrating and anti-climactic. Ah well, better luck next time, Gyllenhaal.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Fright Night

Opening Weekend: August 19, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 106 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Craig Gillespie & Marti Noxon. Story by Tom Holland
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots

Remakes haven’t really had a successful run this year, with Footloose being the worst of it all, but sometimes there are some remakes that can be a fun watch. Fright Night is one of them. I’m not saying this vampire flick is good, I’m just saying it’s actually fun to watch. It’s campy, it’s ridiculous and it’s a little stupid but it’s never lacking in fun. Colin Farrell once again shows his comedic chops as the bloodthirsty vampire neighbor, and he’s just awesome in this. After the “emo vampire” trend that has swept the world these last few years with Twilight, Vampire Diaries and to a certain degree True Blood, it’s quite refreshing to see good ol’ fashioned non-brooding, conscience-free, freakishly violent vampires for once. I wonder why vampires became emo in this side of the millennium. Is it because the majority of the population are on some kind of anti-depression lately that vampires, who live on human blood, become so Zoloft-y mellow? I doubt the diabolical, evil yet sexy and delicious vampires of years past will make a comeback anytime soon, but at least it’s nice to relive the good ol’ days with these bloodsuckers for once.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

And that concludes Day Ten of Binky International Film Festival. I’m all done, you guys, woohoo! It’s a little bittersweet for me to close this year without having seen so many of the highly anticipated 2011 movies such as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and especially Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, but I’m hoping I’ll get a hold of them soon. Until then, I wish you a fabulous new year, may 2012 proves to be an amazing one for us all.

Happy New Year, Blogosphere!

Xoxo

Binky Bee

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Binky International Film Festival: Day Nine

Hello and welcome to Day Nine of “Binky International Film Festival”! We’ve made it, only one day more to go before we end this series and the year 2011 as well. I’ve had a blast doing this, so I hope you all have enjoyed this as much as I have. Today we are going to take a look at my “mistake” movies, aka “Romance That Makes Me Want To Stick A Fork In My Eye”. The genre romance and I have never really gotten along to begin with, but this year the only three movies in this genre that I saw were all torturous. They really do want to make me stick a fork in my eye. Seriously, Hollywood, if romance is this tedious… Maybe the whole celibacy thing is the right way to go after all. 😉

So what are these three movies that make me wish I could ge those combined six hours of my life back? Read on…

Romance That Makes Me Want To Stick A Fork In My Eye

Water For Elephants

Opening Weekend: April 22, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 12o min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Francis Lawrence & Richard LaGravenese
Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz

I watched this movie out of curiosity, and because of it I now fully understand why curiosity kills the cat. I thought I was going to die from boredom watching this movie, and if it weren’t for the divine Christoph Waltz, I would’ve turned it off after 30 minutes. I don’t know exactly what made me hate this movie, maybe it’s Robert Pattinson and the Twilight of it all, or maybe it’s just because it took too damn long to get to the friggin point or because it isn’t a story about animal cruelty in the circus as much as it is about the love affair between an older married woman with a young impressionable ex-veterinary student. And how cruel her husband is. Or something. I don’t know, I stopped paying attention about the time when Pattinson first made googly eyes with Witherspoon and got distracted by other things until that scene where Waltz strangled Witherspoon because it brought me memories of Inglourious Basterds (Christoph Waltz loves to strangle pretty blonds on screen, it seems). Maybe I just don’t have a romantic bone in my body, but dear god this movie was painful to watch, and not just because of the animal abuse.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The Adjustment Bureau

Opening Weekend: March 4, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 106 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Geoff Nolfi
Stars: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Michael Kelly

Three movies disappointed me so deeply this year, and they’re all “sci-fi”: Super 8, Attack The Block and The Adjustment Bureau. But at least in the case of Super 8 and Attack The Block, there are aliens involved. Adjustment Bureau is just a romance masquerading as sci-fi and that is the worst of the worst. I feel cheated. You see, this movie started out cool and promising – there’s Matt Damon, running for Congress, and there are these mysterious men in suits and fedoras that are kind of like The Observers in Fringe, who act as some kind of guardian angels – making sure humans are all in their right path. Problem is, their only concern in this movie is Matt Damon’s love life. They go through so much trouble just to make sure Matt Damon and Emily Blunt don’t hook up, because if they do, Damon won’t be president. And if he doesn’t become president.. Someone else will. And… that’s it. Arrghh!! There are children dying all over the world and that’s all they care about? Really?? I mean, I get if Blunt’s character turns out to be evil or if Damon doesn’t become president, the Antichrist will rise to power or something, but no. They just are so against these two attractive people schtupping and Damon spends the whole movie trying to convince them otherwise (because you can’t stop attractive people from having sex with each other, weird men in suits!). At the end I couldn’t take it anymore and turned it off before the movie ended because it made me want to blow my brains out. That was 106 minutes of my life (well, a little less because I didn’t finish it) I could never get back, Matt Damon. I hope you’re happy.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

One Day

Opening Weekend: August 19, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 107 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Lone Scherfig & David Nicholls
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson

The last romance in this list is no better than the other two, but the good thing is, I already know it was bad before I saw it – from the scathing reviews to the many disappointed comments in NY Magazine’s Vulture comment section – so I knew exactly what I was getting going in and therefore I can enjoy this movie more. First, it was just too much fun making fun of Anne Hathaway’s fake British accent. I mean, dear god, it was atrocious! She slipped on and off and halfway through the movie, she even sounded Irish. It was hilarious. She’s a good actress, but she really needs a better dialect coach. Even Reese Witherspoon in Vanity Fair put her to shame! Dear Producers, hire British actresses to play British roles next time. Problem solved. Second, I don’t really get the point of the movie. I haven’t read the book but even I know the premise isn’t something that translates to film easily. It’d take a group effort of incredible director, screenwriters and actors – and this one just fell short, despite the author of the book adapting it to screenplay himself. Dan Humphrey, take note. It’s always better if someone else adapts your book. Luckily though, Jim Sturgess is just so darn cute that I didn’t mind having to stare at him for two hours, even if Hathaway’s accent gets in the way of enjoying his gorgeousness every now and then.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

And there you have it, Day Nine of Binky International Film Festival. We only have one more day left so I hope you’ll come back tomorrow for our final day, where we’ll be taking a look back at some “Cool Dudes Flicks” to end the series. I’ll see you soon!

xoxo

Binky Bee

Binky International Film Festival: Day Six

Hello and welcome to Day Six of “Binky International Film Festival”! I hope you’re all enjoying the holidays. This time of the year is the time where friends and families gather, the time for joy and celebration. So I thought it would be the right time to take a look at some of the most depressing movies of 2011. 🙂 Hey, it’s easier to discuss these movies when we’re in a festive joyful mood than when we’re actually really depressed, right?

There are quite a few “Depression-Inducing Flicks” that came out in 2011 but I only had the energy to see four of them, because I still like my life and I don’t want to kill myself just yet. Watching this type of movies can be draining… But somebody’s got to do it. So let’s take a look at these four flicks and nibble on those Zolofts, shall we?

“Depression-Inducing Flicks”

Monogamy

Release Date: March 13, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 96 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Dana Adam Shapiro & Evan M. Wiener
Stars: Rashida Jones, Chris Messina, Meital Dohan

I saw this movie because I have such a girl crush on Rashida Jones and because it was part of my “Relationship Breakdown” movie night (this and Blue Valentine will make you want to swear off romance forever), and even though this movie isn’t bad, I kinda regretted seeing it because it’s just so sad. I feel really sad for Rashida Jones’ character, who loves and trusts her fiance implicitly and has faith in their relationship, when all he does is become obsessed with a woman he doesn’t even know. What is it about human nature to be dissatisfied of the good thing we have in favor of something that may only appear exciting and unknown? This movie does make me think though, and makes me realize that part of our problem as a society is our lack of gratitude and appreciation of the good things we already have and tend to take for granted. But still, I wish it could’ve just gotten that message across without making Rashida Jones cry.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Melancholia

Release Date: November 11, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 136 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Lars Von Trier
Stars: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgard, Kiefer Sutherland

I watched this movie because it had gotten a lot of praise, not just from critics but from celebrities I follow on Twitter as well. Sure, the Cannes Film Festival premiere of this film was overshadowed by director Lars Von Trier’s idiotic comments about Hitler (yes, that’s the way to get you working in the film industry, Lars, insult the Jews. Nice going), but no matter what your feeling is about this “eccentric” Danish director, you can’t deny he has made some pretty interesting films so far. Dogville was an example that he might just be a genius. Melancholia, however… Okay. How do I put this. I can’t in all honesty say it’s a bad movie. Because it’s not. It’s visually stunning, it’s obvious that Von Trier is a true artist, and Kirsten Dunst’s performance is absolutely poignant here, especially considering she had been to rehab for depression. But I just can’t love this movie or rave about it because it is so nihilistic and non life-affirming that I just want to throw shit at Von Trier after I saw it. I get it, Lars, life is meaningless and then we die. But that’s why we turn to pop culture, to distract us from all that. Come on, at least spread a little joy!

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Release Date: December 9, 2011 (NYC)
Approx. Running Time: 112 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Lynne Ramsay & Rory Kinnear
Stars: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller

If your child grew up to be a teenage sociopath who decided to wake up one day and killed a bunch of his classmates in a high school massacre, should you blame yourself? What makes a psychopath, nature or nurture? Those are the questions that this jarring movie asks, as it follows Eva (Tilda Swinton), who’s trying to slowly put her life back together after her son Kevin commits a massacre that took the life of several of his schoolmates. The movie goes back and forth in time, chronicling Kevin’s life from when he was a baby up to the moment that he decided to do the unimaginable. Tilda Swinton’s performance was just so heartbreaking and, even though he only played a small role, Ezra Miller’s chilling turn as Kevin once again cemented him as the young star to watch. It is hard to watch this movie, because of its heavy subject matter but it’s worth the extra trip to your therapist just to see their amazing performances.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Angels Crest

Release Date: December 30, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 92 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Gaby Dellal & Catherine Trieschmann
Stars: Thomas Dekker, Joseph Morgan, Jeremy Piven, Kate Walsh, Mira Sorvino, etc

They say that nothing is more painful for a parent than having to bury your own child. So the premise of this movie, in which the disappearance of a three year old ripped through a small community, is already depressing by default. Watching a young – very young I might add – father lose his son that he loved very much is hard enough, seeing his growing realization throughout the movie, that he may not have been the best father and that he has indirectly caused the death of his child, is even harder. It’s always sad when you see people with the best intentions fail not because they don’t love enough or care enough but because they don’t know enough. And that’s what this movie is all about. I would’ve loved it more if the ending was a little bit uplifting, but since it was even more heartbreaking… I say don’t watch it unless you’re in a very emotionally stable state.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

And that concludes Day Six of Binky International Film Festival! Sorry for backing out on my words earlier about posting this on Christmas Day, I didn’t count on my flu getting even worse, not better. But I shall get over this soon (I hope). In any case, I will try to post the next four days of this festival before New Year’s Eve. Come back tomorrow for Day 7 where we’ll be taking a look at my personal favorites of 2011 in the “Repeat Viewing” genre.

Till then!

Binky Bee

Binky International Film Festival, Day Five

Hello and welcome to Day Five of the first ever “Binky International Film Festival“. We have taken a look at quite a few genres this past few days and today we are going “Across The Pond” to the United Kingdom and take a look at some of UK’s best that I managed to see this year, aside from the Harry Potter movies, of course (they’ve already been discussed on Day One: “Big Budget Awesomeness”).

Since it’s Christmas Eve and all, I’m going to keep it short and simple because I have a dinner to get to and family’s coming over tomorrow. Busy, busy day! So let’s get straight to it, shall we? 🙂

“Across The Pond”

Jane Eyre

Release Date: September 9, 2011 (UK), March 11, 2011 (USA, limited)
Approx. Running Time: 120 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Cary Fukunaga & Moira Buffini
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Mia Wasikowska, Jamie Bell

I was really anticipating this movie out of all the others this year because Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels of all time and I am anxious to see Michael Fassbender in the role of Rochester, and I’m happy to report that he didn’t disappoint, neither did Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre. It is a little jarring at first to see the chemistry between them simply because of their age difference (and Wasikowska looks so so young) but after I reminded myself that that’s the way things work back then – it didn’t bother me so much, at least not as much as St. John kissing his sisters on the mouth. Yes I know it was a different time, but still. You don’t kiss your sisters on the mouth, dude.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Never Let Me Go

 Release Date: February 11, 2011 (UK), September 15, 2011 (USA, limited)
Approx. Running Time: 103 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Mark Romanek & Alex Garland
Stars: Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield

Like Jane Eyre, this movie is also an adaptation from a popular novel, but the similarities of the two end there. Never Let Me Go, adapted from Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, is romance mixed with science fiction, and I usually have a problem with that. But not this time. Probably because the romance (mild spoiler alert) doesn’t have a happy ending, and because there’s no “grand Hollywood miracle of love”. It’s a little depressing, but at least it stays true to the novel and in a way, to life. The only thing I had a problem with is the love triangle. The way both girls act as if the guy, Tommy, had no choice in the matter, is rather infuriating. Have some self respect, ladies!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Attack The Block

Release Date: May 13, 2011 (UK), July 29, 2011 (USA, limited)
Approx. Running Time: 88 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Joe Cornish
Stars: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Alex Esmall

I was sort of anticipating this movie as well, thanks to the many critics who raved about it on twitter. But I was sorely disappointed. The critics made it seem like this movie was the new “Shaun of The Dead”, and it’s not that at all. It’s more like JJ Abrams’ Super 8, with less sympathetic characters (they’re thugs. It’s hard to be invested in a movie where the fate of the world rests on a bunch of teenage delinquents) and better soundtrack. Luckily for me my Brit friend has already warned me that this movie would disappoint, so I adjusted my expectation prior to watching, but still. I don’t get what those movie critics saw in this film, because I sure don’t see it.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

And that concludes Day Five of “Binky International Film Festival”. Check back in tomorrow where we will continue with Day 6: “Depression-Inducing Flicks”. It’s going to be quite a ride, make sure you have your Zoloft ready. 🙂 Until then!

Happy Holidays to you and yours,

Binky Bee

Binky International Film Festival: Day Four

Hello and welcome to Day Four of the first ever “Binky International Film Festival”! In the last three days, we have revisited quite a few 2011 movies from three different genres: “Big Budget Awesomeness”, “Sundance Darlings” and “Chick Flicks”. And now in Day Four, we are going to take a look at the movies that are doing well and reaping nominations this award season. As I have mentioned in the Introduction post, I don’t live in the United States so there are a few critically acclaimed and award nominated movies that I haven’t gotten a chance to see, so obviously this list is incomplete. But even so, we have quite a few movies to get through today, so let’s get straight to it!

Note: Even though I have seen We Need To Talk About Kevin and Tilda Swinton is nominated both for SAG and Golden Globes for that movie, I’ve decided not to put the movie in this category and instead it’ll be in the “Depression-Inducing” category on Day 6.

“Award Worthy”

The Help

Opening Weekend: August 10, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 146 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Tate Taylor
Stars: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, etc
Nominations: Black Reel Awards, Critics Choice Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Satellite Awards, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, Golden Globes Awards, etc

I read the book before I watched the movie, so I was a little worried that they were going to ruin my love for the book when I decided to give this movie a watch, and I’m glad to report that this adaptation pretty much stick close to the book, sure they made little changes here and there but they weren’t too detrimental to the plot, and they didn’t bother me too much. And Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Bryce Dallas Howard truly rocked my world in this movie, so much so that I didn’t even pay that much attention to Emma Stone’s performance. Those three women plus Jessica Chastain gave such incredible performances that you want to cry, laugh and set that bitch Hilly (played perfectly by Howard) on fire for some of the things she said. The only actor I had a problem with is Chris Lowell, who I feel is a little miscast here, but then again he only appeared a total of 10 minutes in the movie so it didn’t bother me that much.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

50/50

Opening Weekend: September 30, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 100 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Jonathan Levine & Will Reiser
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Gordon, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, etc
Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards, Golden Globes Awards, Hollywood Film Festival, National Board of Reviews, etc

Cancer is no laughing matter. But in the case of this brilliantly-written and wonderfully-acted movie, cancer doesn’t have to be all sad and depressing. Sometimes you can always find comedy in the shittiest situation, even if that shitty situation is cancer. Screenwriter Will Reiser wrote this movie as a fictionalized account of his own battle with cancer, and the result is a poignant movie both sad and funny, that will tug on your heartstrings, and make you chuckle through your tears, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is heartbreaking as Adam, the quiet, ordinary guy whose life is suddenly turned upside down, but surprisingly enough, it’s Seth Rogen’s turn as the insensitive best friend that steals the scenes, a role that he had to play in real life as Reiser’s best friend. If you know someone who has cancer, or even if you’re just a regular human being and nothing bad ever happens to you, I would recommend you check out this movie to celebrate life. Yes, it can be shitty. But it’s worth being thankful for.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Ides of March

Opening Weekend: October 7, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 110 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): George Clooney & Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon
Stars: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, etc
Nominations: Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globes Awards, Venice Film Festival, etc

This is the only movie in this list that I watched expecting to be disappointed, mostly because people have told me how much they hated it and how it wasn’t worth my  time. And these are people whose judgment I trust, so I set the bar really low going in, knowing that I might end up thinking the movie sucked. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t hate it. In fact, I quite enjoy the movie, I thought Ryan Gosling once again did a superb job here, and I wasn’t bored the whole time. There are a few reasons why I seem to like this movie, that got panned by critics as well, as much as the Hollywood Foreign Press Associations members did even though the rest of the world hated it: 1. Just like the financial market, my knowledge of politics is something to laugh about. I just don’t care enough to even read the newspaper about anything political. 2. My love and devotion for both George Clooney and Ryan Gosling made me bias, and I couldn’t see the movie for what it was because I was blinded by their combined sexiness. In conclusion, if you’re not into politics and you  love both Clooney and Gosling, I think you need to give this movie a try. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it immensely like I did (and not afraid to admit it).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Warrior

 Opening Weekend: September 9, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 140 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Gavin O’Connor & Athony Tambakis, Cliff Dorfman. Story by Gavin O’Connor & Cliff Dorfman
Stars: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison
Nominations: Satellite Awards, San Diego Film Critics Society Awards SAG Awards, etc

When I first heard about this movie, I knew I wanted to see it just so I could see Tom Hardy kicking ass. After Inception, you’d be hard press to find a woman on earth who’s not at least a little bit infatuated with this British actor. But when I finally saw the movie, it wasn’t Tom Hardy being a bad-ass that reeled me in. It was Tom Hardy as a broken man, looking for redemption, it was Nick Nolte as his alcoholic, abusive father looking for atonement, it was Joel Edgerton as a beloved teacher and family man just looking for a way to provide for his family – it was a family, all broken apart and coming together in the least likely of events: the mixed martial arts “Sparta” championship. Despite the blood and the fights, you will cry so hard you’ll almost wail (like I did) watching this movie, because it is never about the fights, it’s about love – complicated but redeeming love, the kind that we all crave in this life. And if I could only recommend one movie out of all that I watched in 2011, it’d be this one. Don’t go through life without watching this movie. Trust me.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Moneyball

 Opening Weekend: September 23, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 133 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Bennett Miller & Steve Zailian, Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin & Michael Lewis
Stars: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt, etc
Nominations: New York Film Critics Circle Awards, People’s Choice Awards, Satellite Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes Awards

Also in the list of things I am clueless and can’t give a shit about, aside from the financial market and politics: sports. I don’t do sports, I don’t watch sports, I have never even been attracted to any athlete, no matter how incredibly beautiful they are. David Beckham? Meh. Tom Brady? Yeah, not my type. Derek Jeter? You’ve got to be kidding me, right? However, one of my favorite TV shows of all time is Friday Night Lights, a show centered on football, so I figured after 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights (and actually learning a thing or two about the game), I can watch Moneyball and not be confused by the baseball of it all. And I’m not wrong, but I’m not right either. The premise of the movie doesn’t confuse me, and I think both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill were good in the movie (though I don’t find Pitt’s performance all that amazing, to be honest. If I had to pick between nominating him or Tom Hardy for Best Actor, I’d go with Hardy), but I don’t find the movie as the most inspiring movie of all time like some reviews said. It’s just a baseball movie. Some guy reinvented the game.. and? At least Warrior at the heart is about love and redemption. Moneyball is just about… some guy who reinvented the game. It’s not a bad movie but it’s not exactly that inspiring either. But, what do I know? I don’t even like baseball.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Bridesmaids

Opening Weekend: May 13, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 125 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Paul Feig & Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo
Stars: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, etc
Nominations: Critics Choice Awards, People’s Choice Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes Awards, etc

Those who say that women aren’t funny are just pissed off when women refuse to laugh at their stupid jokes. Because if this movie doesn’t prove to you that a group of women can make you ROTFLMAO – then you’re just bitter and cruel. Bridesmaids, while technically a romantic comedy, is so much more than just a bunch of women obsessing about weddings. It’s about friendship – and the insane (or as Maya Rudolph would say, “Insahn”) things we do in the name of friendship, which sometimes includes getting food poisoning and crapping all over a wedding dress. Bridesmaids is a female comedy that guys can watch and enjoy and these fabulous funny ladies prove that hey, women are funny and we can be funny without having to rag on the men in our lives. Hear that, Adam Sandler?

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Beginners

Opening Weekend: June 3, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 105 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Mike Mills
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Melanie Laurent, Christopher Plummer
Nominations: Independent Spirits Awards, Satellite Awards, National Board of Review, Hollywood Film Festival, SAG Awards

I didn’t discover this little gem of a movie until earlier this month when it started getting nominated left and right, and also winning a few accolades here and there. But I’m glad I finally did, late though I am, because I would’ve regretted missing this movie. A story about a man coping with the death of his father, who had come out of the closet in his old age and discovered a new leash on life only to have it taken away by cancer a few years later, Beginners may as well be called ‘The History of Sadness and What One Does To Overcome It”. It’s sad, yes, but it’s also hopeful – and Christopher Plummer was truly magnificent here. If you too, like me, have only heard of this movie lately, I suggest you look for the DVD or look out for it on Netflix. It’s definitely worth the watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Midnight In Paris

Opening Weekend: June 10, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 94 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Woody Allen
Stars: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates etc
Nominations: independent Spirit Awards, Satellite Awards, SAG Awards, Golden Globes Awards, etc

Since I’m a huge Woody Allen fan, it’s a little hard to praise this movie without sounding bias, but I can tell you, even if you’re not a fan of his work – you have to check out this movie. It’s the best Woody Allen movie since Annie Hall, and I think it’s also Allen’s most successful movie to date. Set in Paris and introduces a new plot element that Allen hasn’t used before (time travel), Midnight In Paris is like taking a vacation with our favorite people on earth, provided those people are Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and even Salvador Dali. It’s funny and delightful, it’s hopeful but still neurotic, it’s truly the best of Allen’s European series. And Owen Wilson channeling Woody Allen is really something to watch. I hope this movie wins every award it’s nominated because it truly deserves it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Carnage

Opening Weekend: December 16, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 79 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Roman Polanski & Yasmine Reza,
Stars: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly, Christoph Waltz
Nominations: Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, Satellite Awards, Venice Film Festival, Golden Globes Awards, etc

Thanks to my flu, I actually get the chance to see this movie, because I’m forced to just lie in bed and not do anything but watch movies after movies after movies. And I’m glad I did because this movie is fantastic. First of all, I never thought Roman Polanski can do comedy. I mean, he was the director of Rosemary’s Baby and he made Oliver Twist kinda dark… I didn’t expect him to direct something that is just straight up hilarious. But he did. And obviously the actors are all wonderful too – Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C Reilly and my favorite Christoph Waltz – without them, this movie wouldn’t have worked so beautifully. No matter what you feel about Polanski as a person, you should not miss this film. It’s definitely one of his better works.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

And there you have it, Day Four of Binky International Film Festival. Sorry for the delay in posting this, but my flu really got the better of me last night. 🙂 To make up for this, I will still post Day Five and Day 6 on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so I’ll be able to get everything done before New Years Eve. Thanks for tuning in so far and I’ll see you tomorrow for Day Five: “Across The Pond”. Till then!

Binky Bee

Binky International Film Festival: Day Three

Hello and welcome to Day Three of “Binky International Film Festival“. Over the past two days, we have reviewed some “Big Budget Awesomeness” and “Sundance Darlings” and today, we are going to concentrate on a genre that is as old as time itself: “Chick Flicks”. Despite being a cynic and a feminist, I have loved romantic comedies since I first saw When Harry Met Sally for the first time back in the sixth grade, and I’m not ashamed of it. 😉 Sure, this genre has declined rapidly over the last decade (where’s Meg Ryan when you need her?) but this year I have seen some improvements. There’s hope for this genre yet. So without further ado, grab your tub of Ben & Jerry’s and let’s dive straight in!

Note: Two of the movies in this post (Country Strong and Waiting For Forever) are not romantic comedies, but since these are the kind of movies that appeal more to women than men, I decided to put them in this category. Also: technically Bridesmaids needs to be in this category as well but since it receives quite a bit of nominations this award season, it’ll be in tomorrow’s “Award Worthy” genre.

“Chick Flicks”

Crazy Stupid Love

 Opening Weekend: July 29, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 118 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Glenn Ficara, John Requa & Dan Fogelman
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, etc

2011 is a great year for one Ryan Gosling. Sure he lost the “Sexiest Man Alive” title to Bradley Cooper (which caused an uproar) but there is no denying that about 99% of women (plus about the same percentage of gay men) on earth want to have sex with him. Myself included. And this movie gives us about 50% of the reason why we all want him (the other 50% is divided between Drive and The Ides of March): he’s a confident, self-assured hottie with a body so perfect Emma Stone’s character accused his abs of being photoshopped. We all want to leave the bar and get straight to bed with him. But enough about Gosling! I think this movie is the best romcom of 2011. Carell is so hilarious, and he and Gosling play off each other so well. If you want to feel all warm and fuzzy while at the same time laugh so hard you nearly pee, you might want to give this movie a try if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.


Rating: 4 Out of 5 stars

Country Strong

Opening Weekend: January 7, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 117 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Shana Feste
Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garret Hedlund, Leighton Meester

Two things I learned from watching this movie: one, I totally understand the Gwyneth Paltrow backlash and why people can’t stand her, and two, Leighton Meester can actually sing, you guys, provided that she wises up and embrace the country pop genre for real. No more of those pop dance-y singles, Leighton, stick with what you’re good at. Other than those two things, this movie is kind of meh. It feels more like Gwyneth Paltrow trying to prove she can do it all (act, sing country, act drunk etc), and the best part of the movie is when her character (spoiler alert) dies, and some sweet Hedlund/Meester scenes. The movie is just not that good, period. Color me unimpressed.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

No Strings Attached

Opening Weekend: January 21, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 108 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Ivan Reitman & Elizabeth Merriwhether. Story by Elizabeth Merriwhether & Michael Samonek.
Stars: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Jake Johnson, Kevin Kline, Mindy Kaling, etc

Just so you know I’m not exactly a fan of Ashton Kutcher and I always assume that a movie with him in the lead would suck. But luckily, I love Natalie Portman so I gave this romcom a chance and I didn’t regret it. The movie is quite funny, Natalie Portman is just so delightful in it. But then again, after her Oscar-winning turn in Black Swan, did we expect anything less? I also love that even though it followed a certain predictable romcom formula, it doesn’t rely too heavily on the cliches. The scene with Natalie Portman in the car, cry-singing “Bleeding Love” and binging on donut holes – that’s genuinely non-cliche funny. And we women can relate! It has happened to us once or twice, right? So even if you can’t stand Kutcher, I still recommend you check out this flick. It’ll put a smile on your face, seriously.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Friends With Benefits

Opening Weekend: July 22, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 109 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Will Gluck & Keith Merryman, David A. Newman. Story by Harley Peyton, Keith Merryman & David A. Newman.
Stars: Mila Kunis, Jason Timberlake, Woody Harrelson, Jenna Elfman, Patricia Clarkson etc

2011 is a pretty good year for movies, but someone somewhere in Hollywood must’ve screwed up because in the space of less than 6 months, two romcoms with identical premises came out, both with attractive leads and both with the same fast-talking zany humor. And who came out on top? Sorry Mila Kunis, but your Black Swan co-star beats you this time around. Out of the two movies, I like No Strings Attached better, maybe because Friends With Benefits tries a little too hard to be tongue-in-cheek and funny. And by the time the movie came out, flash mobs are so two years ago, no matter how cute Mila Kunis tries to convince you of otherwise.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Waiting For Forever

Opening Weekend: February 4, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 95 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): James Keach & Steve Adams
Stars: Rachel Bilson, Tom Sturridge, Richard Jenkins, Blythe Danner

I think I’m the only one who saw this little seen Rachel Bilson movie, and even though it wasn’t the best romantic film of the year, I actually didn’t hate it. Sure at first I thought Tom Sturridge’s character has mental disabilities or something, especially the way he pines for Rachel Bilson’s character but never once dares to make a move, but then I realized that he’s not, he just chooses to deal with the world in his own childlike way. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It may be naïve but it’s not idiotic. I also like Bilson taking on a more complicated role for once, and she’s pretty good in this movie too. But obviously Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom, Blythe Danner steals the scene. She’s just heartbreaking in this movie and if nothing else, she should be the reason to check out this movie. Trust me.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I Don’t Know How She Does It

Opening Weekend: September 16, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 89 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Douglas McGrath & Aline Brosh Mckenna
Stars: Sarah Jessica Parker, Christina Hendricks, Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, etc

Do you ever wonder why, if a woman is successful at her career, and at the same time is successful at being a wife and mother, people ask “How does she do it?” as if women are expected to just be good at one thing and fail miserably at the other? Well this movie attempts to address this way of thinking, and I think it’s pretty successful in presenting the case that women can in fact do it all and we don’t have to apologize for wanting to be a good mother and a career woman, while not downplaying the hardships than are bound to come from wanting to have it all. The good thing about this movie: it deals with the real issues that working mothers actually deal with. The bad thing about this movie: Sarah Jessica Parker can be grating at times. I would have liked to see Christina Hendricks in the lead role instead of SJP, but that’s just me. All in all, it’s not the best, most inspiring movie about women (0r even the most accurate one, to be honest) but it’s pretty enjoyable nonetheless. And what do you know, Olivia Munn can act after all! She’s actually funny! We do learn something from this movie. 🙂

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

And there you have it, Day Three of Binky International Film Festival! I hope you’ve enjoyed all the chick flicks we’ve revisited today and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Day Four, where we’ll be taking a look at this year’s “Award Worthy” movies. Until then!

Binky Bee

Binky International Film Festival: Day Two

Hello and welcome back to the first ever “Binky International Film Festival”! 🙂 Day Two officially begins and this time around we are going to take a look at a few movies that got indie lovers buzzing during the Sundance Film Festival, and I will call this genre “Sundance Darlings”.

As you know, Sundance Film Festival has grown from a little indie film festival in Park City, Utah to the place to scout out the most promising movies of the year. And this year, there are quite a few gems that I highly recommend you to watch, if you haven’t already. What are these promising indie movies? Let’s take a look!

NOTE: (Dec 21, 2011) As promised, now updated with Margin Call.

“Sundance Darlings”

Our Idiot Brother

Release Date: August 26, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 90 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Jesse Peretz & Evgenia Peretz, David Schisgall. Story by Jesse Peretz, Evgenia Peretz & David Schisgall.
Stars: Paul Rudd, Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott etc

Possibly one of the most successful movies to come out at Sundance this year, this lighthearted sibling comedy was the first one bought by a major distributor (the Weinstein Company, no less) and is probably the easiest to market to mass audience. Our Idiot Brother tells the story of a sweet, loving idealist (Paul Rudd) who, after a brief stint in jail for selling pot to a cop, reunites with his three sisters only to accidentally wreak havoc in their already complicated lives. It’s funny but not idiotic (despite the title) and even though halfway through the movie you’d feel like strangling each and every one of the three self-absorbed sister, they manage to redeem themselves by finally banding together as a family and help their “idiot brother” the way he has helped them all along. It’s a family movie for those who can’t stand family movies, and if you love Paul Rudd (and Adam Scott!) as much as I do, I recommend giving this movie a watch. Especially during this time of the year.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Art of Getting By

Release Date: June 17, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 83 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Gavin Wiesen
Stars: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elisabeth Reaser, Rita Wilson, etc

Spoiler alert: that adorable Charlie from Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is no longer that adorable kid who charmed the pants out of Johnny Depp (and all of us). He’s now a tall, lanky teenager who wears a long black coat, refuses to do his coursework, and waxes philosophical debates about life and death and what it means to be a kooky and depressed teenager in The Art of Getting By. If this movie doesn’t make you feel old, then you’re probably still a teenager. The Art of Getting By is a coming of age movie for a generation who has seen too many coming of age movies, and is now lost and wondering if there really is a meaning to all this shit. Life is complicated, and even more so when you’re a teenager and you have no idea what you’re doing. That isn’t to say this movie isn’t enjoyable, it is very much so. It ends in a hopeful note, and at the very least it makes you appreciate being an adult. It’s not perfect, but then again, neither is life. 🙂

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Like Crazy

Release Date: October 28, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 90 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Drake Doremus & Ben York Jones
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence

I was a little scared watching this movie, not because it’s a thriller (it’s not), but because I was all too familiar with the story: I know what it’s like to be separated geographically from the one I love, and not being able to do anything about it. I know the frustration, the loneliness, that overwhelming feeling of sadness from missing that person too much and not knowing what to do about it. In short, I have been where the couple in Like Crazy has been and it was not a fun experience. But I’m glad I didn’t chicken out and decide to watch this movie, because aside from Felicity Jones’ phenomenal acting, this movie gave me a glimpse of what would happen if my ex and I had insisted to stay together against all odds. There are relationships that are only meant to last a season, and Like Crazy shows us what happens if we try to stretch out that season to a lifetime. It can still work out, but you may have to sacrifice your own happiness in the process. So if you’re pining for the one that could have been, maybe this is the movie for you this holiday season, to put things into perspective.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Release Date: October 21, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 102 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Sean Durkin
Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Hugh Dancy

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the other Olsen sister, the one who didn’t start out as a child star and become a millionaire before she’s even old enough to drive, the one who hasn’t parlayed her fame into a billion dollar merchandising (and now fashion) industry, and the only one who can actually act: Elizabeth Olsen. At only 20, the younger Olsen sister stunned the world in her breakout role as a traumatized, troubled young woman who has just returned to her family after years living in an abusive Charles Manson-like cult. Her raw yet understated performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene made her the talk of Hollywood post-Sundance, and I hope she’ll be the one Olsen girl that we’ll be taking seriously in the years to come, because she is just that good. But aside from Olsen, this movie is worth checking out for the sublime performances of her co-stars, especially John Hawkes who is even more creepy and unsettling in this movie than I’ve seen him before. It can be a little hard to watch in a couple of scenes, but it gives good insight to the psyche of a cult, and it leaves you with something to think (and talk) about.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Another Happy Day

Release Date: November 18, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 119 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Sam Levinson
Stars: Ellen Barkin, Ezra Miller, Kate Bosworth, Thomas Haden Church, Demi Moore, etc

This is the only one of this year’s Sundance movies that I didn’t hear about until I followed Ellen Barkin on twitter (you should all follow her, she’s a riot – @ellenbarkin) and it’s a shame since everyone is so amazing in this movie, from Ellen Barkin all the way to young Ezra Miller, who you may know as Tucker, Hank’s hemophiliac patient in Royal Pains, or as creepy teen psychopath Kevin in We Need To Talk About Kevin. In Another Happy Day, Miller also plays a complex, troubled teen who makes his mom’s life even harder – and seeing this relative newcomer and seasoned actor Ellen Barkin go toe-to-toe onscreen is just a delight. They both give incredible performances, and surprisingly enough so did Demi Moore and Kate Bosworth (but more surprisingly, Bosworth! She has depth after all!). This family reunion movie may be more depressing than uplifting, but that doesn’t mean you should pass on this Sam Levinson movie, if only to wonder why no one seems to notice how good Ellen Barkin is in it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Margin Call

Release Date: October 21, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 107 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): JC Chandor
Stars: Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci etc

This movie is definitely fresh in my mind since I just saw it a few hours ago, but that doesn’t mean I actually get it. 🙂 Not the movie’s fault, I’m just totally clueless when it comes to the financial market. I failed Economics twice in college, and then I had to change my major from Mass Communications because apparently, I had to at least get a D in Economics to be able to survive – and I couldn’t even get that. So, I’m probably the wrong person to judge the movie since I do not understand what the hell is going on half the time. BUT. I do know my pop culture and I know a good movie when I see it, even if I’m a little hazy on the core dilemma that the characters are facing. It’s a very relevant movie in these times, and yet it doesn’t point the finger and play the blame game. Sure, these Wall Street people screwed up. But when they did their job well, we enjoyed the benefits too (at least that’s what I got from Paul Bettany’s monologue). Please don’t argue with me on this, like I said, I am so so dumb when it comes to the financial market, so I may be getting the message of the movie all wrong. Bottom line, what I get is that behind of every crisis, whether it be financial or otherwise, there are individuals who have screwed up and now are trying to cover their asses. And that is human. Doesn’t make it right, but that’s the way it is. See the movie if my review confuses you. 🙂

And that concludes Day Two of Binky International Film Festival, now updated with Margin Call. Also, check back in tomorrow for Day Three, where we will be taking a look at this year’s “Chick Flicks”. There are quite a few to get through so I’ll see you then!

Binky Bee