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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

My 12 Days of Christmas Countdown: Eighth Day

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me; two black swans, one kick-ass tween and a country-singing queen bee. 🙂 Welcome back to another day of My (quite ambitious) 12 Days of Christmas Countdown. If you’re getting bored with this already, I’m sorry. But it’s not my fault that it’s 12 Days of Christmas instead of three. Anyway, I’ve covered the 10 Movie Screen Scorchers yesterday so naturally today is all about the ladies. Who are this year’s most fabulous big screen actresses? Let’s get right to it.

My Top 10 Fabulous Big Screen Ladies of 2010

1/ Natalie Portman, Black Swan.

This time last year, Sandra Bullock was the talk of Hollywood. Her performance in The Blind Side impressed the critics so much that she was getting a much-deserved Oscar buzz. Now, it’s Natalie Portman’s turn. Her performance in Black Swan got everyone a-buzzin’ and she’s pretty much got the Oscar nomination in the bag. And that’s why she’s our number one lady. She’s always been immensely talented, I remember seeing her in The Professional and being utterly amazed by her tour-de-force performance. She was only about 13 at the time. I knew winning an Oscar was only a matter of time for this Harvard graduate, and the time could be now. And if she doesn’t, hey, at least she’ll have something else to look forward to. Mazel Tov, Natalie!

2/ Mila Kunis, Black Swan.

Natalie Portman isn’t the only actress from Black Swan getting rave reviews and award nominations, and I couldn’t be happier for our number two lady. Not only is she one of my girl-crushes, she’s also a terrific actress who can nail both dramatic and comedic roles with such ease and grace. Kunis got her start in the hit Fox comedy That 70s Show, but when the careers of other That 70s Show stars seem to have stalled (even Kutcher’s), Kunis’ star continues to rise. I don’t know if she’s going to get an Oscar nomination, unlike Portman, her Globes and SAG nominations come as a total surprise, but even without it I have no doubt she’ll dominate the big screen. She’s beautiful, talented and surprisingly low-key. And those are all great qualities to have in this business.

3/ Chloe Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass/Let Me In.

I’m not usually a big fan of child actors. I find most of them, especially the girls, precocious and grating. But when I saw this tween actress in Kick-Ass, I changed my mind completely. She. Was. AWESOME. Some of my girl friends were horrified watching her violently kill people and fluently use coarse language (including the C-word) in the movie, but she totally rocked my world. And then I saw her in that vampire film Let Me In, the American adaptation of the Swedish movie “Let The Right One In”, and I was just in awe of her. I mean, she really put R-Pattz and his band of sparkly vampires to shame. She was tortured and evil at the same time, it’s amazing. And to think, she’s only 13! She may not be a “lady” yet, but she’s so fabulous she deserves a spot in this list.

4/ Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine.

When she started out on Dawson’s Creek, I don’t think we all quite expected that she would be the one with an impressive career – since the show was all about Katie Holmes’ Joey. But Katie Holmes is nothing more than Tom Cruise’s wife now while Michelle Williams is an Oscar-nominated actress, and a critics’ darling. Sure, most people pay attention to her because of Heath Ledger and his untimely death, but before and after Ledger, Williams have shown she’s an actress to be taken seriously. Now with Blue Valentine, I won’t be surprised if she gets nominated for another Oscar. And I bet it won’t be the last.

5/ Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right.

We may tease her fake Boston accent when she guest-starred in 30 Rock as Jack Donaghy’s long lost love, but we can’t deny her amazing performance in The Kids Are All Right. As Jules, she is funny, confusing, often frustrating and yet very likable, even after she cheats on her wife with Mark Rufallo. She takes a complex character and plays her in a very human way, giving us access and room to relate. And that’s just one of the reasons why she’s so fabulous. I don’t know if she’ll be nominated for an Oscar, but I have a feeling she might take home the Globes. You hear that HFPA? Give that trophy to Jules already!

6/ Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right.

Remember when Annette Bening used to only be famous for being Warren Beatty’s wife? No? Neither do I, because this Mrs. Warren Beatty has been nominated for so many awards over the last decade that no one even seems to remember who she’s married to. There are only a few actresses in this world that can sell a movie to me (as in, I’ll watch the movie simply because she’s in it and no other reason), and Annette Bening is one of those few. I’m actually surprised she hasn’t won an Oscar yet, she shines in every role. If only both her and Julianne Moore can win in that Best Actress Comedy category at the Globes… ah, that would make me one very happy camper.

7/ Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone.

She’s still considered a newcomer now, but considering her critically-acclaimed performance in Winter’s Bone and the fact that she’ll be in the next X-Men movie, I’m thinking she’ll be a mega star before long. I actually didn’t know this girl before I saw Winter’s Bone, but now I’m totally in awe of her. Hollywood is filled with troubled and not that talented young actresses, so seeing this relative unknown carry an intense movie and a difficult role with such conviction just gives me hope that Hollywood is not lacking in talent after all.

8/ Emma Stone, Easy A.

If you thought Emma Stone was charming and fun in Superbad, you’re going to fall in love with her, like majorly, in Easy A. She wasn’t only charming, she was funny, self-assured and brilliant. Yeah, sure, playing a seventeen-year-old dealing with nasty high school rumors may not seem like a stretch, compared to, feather-plucking ballerina for example, but as Lindsay Lohan proves in Mean Girls, it’s not that easy either. And this redhead succeeds where Lohan failed, she actually can act. If Tina Fey ever thinks of writing another teen comedy, she should have Emma Stone’s number on speed-dial.

9/ Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.

She wasn’t on my radar before Scott Pilgrim, but after seeing her rock a blue (and sometimes green and red) hair in the film, I have a major girl-crush on her. She has primarily been called a “scream queen” thanks to her roles in various horror films like Final Destination 3 and The Thing, but I think she can move up to comic book hero any time soon. Have they cast the new Mary Jane for Spiderman yet? She and Andrew Garfield will so burn up the screen!

10/ Leighton Meester, Country Strong.

I know Gwyneth Paltrow is the star of the country music drama, but just like her character in the movie, Ms Meester is slowly stealing the spotlight. First of all, despite her failed attempt at being a music star, she actually sounds amazing in the soundtrack, which got me thinking that she should’ve gone country instead of all pop R&B with Robin Thicke in the first place, and second, she already said that her contract with Gossip Girl is ending in two years, which means, considering the steady drop in quality, she’ll be free to star in more movies soon. Besides, we’ve already established that she’s a way better actress than Blake Lively. She’s the queen bee after all.

And that wraps up my Top 10 Fabulous Big Screen Ladies of 2010. I hope you’re still enjoying my 12 Days of Christmas series, I’ll be back tomorrow with the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2010. Don’t worry, I won’t forget to include The Tourist. 🙂

Until then,

xoxo

Binky Bee