Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Review Rundown (trilogy of reviews)

Alright, I'm kinda back, but not 100%. It's about time I got around to reviewing these movies though so here we go. Let's start with the most recent. Three short reviews, three movies.


The strength of Contagion is its ability to remain calm and quiet in the middle of all the chaos. With a giant epidemic wiping out a large portion of the world, we see the story through the eyes of first responders, doctors, lab technicians at the CDC, a "truth-seeking" blogger, along with a man, immune from the disease, trying to remain calm with his daughter after the passing of his wife and son. The movie is a lean 105 minutes and as much as you would want to spend more time with each and every character, by going the "hyper-link" cinema route in such a quick way perfectly captures the reality of a disease like this. The disease spreads rapidly just by indirect contact and through this you see just how everyone becomes affected. Contagion isn't just about the spreading of a disease, though, it's about the spreading of misinformation and lies and how that affects people as well. It's a film that's very rich in context and is directed by one of the most technically efficient filmmakers out there today, Steven Soderbergh. What is so striking about Soderbergh is just how effortless he makes everything look. And yet, the final result of Contagion is most definitely effective. It's not a movie with big moments, just a series of moments that all relate to each other in a very effective and thrilling way. This is a very well-made film. Between The Informant! and this, it's nice to see Soderbergh behind a couple of very solid movies. Because of this, it's disheartening to know that he's seriously thinking about retiring soon. At least we know that he won't be phoning it in with his last few movies. Rating: 8.5/10

Our Idiot Brother

Paul Rudd leads a lightly charming, docile film about a naive, hippie stoner who is released from prison and has a tough time getting any of his sisters to let him stay with him because he finds a way to ruin their lives (in a comedic manner). What follows is a film with quite a bit of solid laughs, but is ultimately too slight and the material is not strong enough to carry over through 90 minutes. It's a shame as well because Paul Rudd gives a very spirited performance as the too-trusting brother of three narcissistic sisters who have too much going on in their own lives to be able to care for their brother. The sisters have a great amount of chemistry with each other (played by Emily Mortimer, Zooey Deschanel, and Elizabeth Banks) and it's fun to watch these actresses playing off each other. It's also fun to watch Paul Rudd play Ned, it's just a shame that the writers don't do enough with him. The movie starts to feel way too formulaic and almost sitcom-ish and by the time the sisters "learn their lesson," it's just not satisfying enough. Even though there are many good moments in this movie and there's really nothing wrong with a movie following a formula (see Horrible Bosses), it's just that they never really have fun with it and it starts to feel as if the movie is just going through the motions. And when you have as many skilled actors as you do in this movie, it's just kind of disappointing. Still, there's a lot of fun moments to the film and Paul Rudd is always likable no matter what kind of character he plays. It's definitely worth a watch, just don't come into the movie expecting too much. Rating: 6.5/10

30 Minutes or Less

Ok, I saw this about a month ago and really should've written a review then so excuse me for the brevity of the review. But, 30 Minutes or Less is a really fun, fast-paced comedy with a lot of big laughs from everyone. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, the man behind Zombieland, it's easy to see his strengths. He has a knack for visual detail, being able to use special effects for comedic effect, and he and his editor do a hell of a job with pacing and timing. In fact, I found 30 Minutes or Less to be funnier than Zombieland in a lot of ways. 30 Minutes or Less takes a pretty interesting premise (a pizza delivery boy gets forced into robbing a bank) and it goes in so many different comic directions. I like comedies like these, where you know where the movie is ultimately heading, but you have no idea how it's going to get there. And with a lean 83 minute running time, the film is over before you have anytime to process just how absurd it all was. Say what you will about Jesse Eisenberg, but the guy is pretty talented. He has great timing and he makes actors around him better (see The Social Network, Adventureland). Couple that with hilarious performances from Nick Swardson, Aziz Ansari, and Danny McBride, and you have one hell of a fun ride. This is the type of movie where you rent it with a few friends, get drunk, order a couple of pizzas, and just laugh your ass off. It's just great, I had a fun time with this movie despite how dumb it was. Rating: 7.5/10

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