Monday, May 31, 2010

A brief review: Up In The Air

Up In The Air
By: Walter Kirn
Setting: Mostly airports and cities around the US
Format: 362 pgs.
Verdict: SKIP
Rated: PG from what I've read. Lots of F-bomb use and whatnot, but nothing that shady.

Rare case here, I liked the movie better than the book. To tell you the truth, I couldn't finish this one. Not saying that it was BAD or anything, the writing was really good and all, it just never engaged me. After page 100, even Ryan started to annoy me with his opinions about every single little detail and every single person and that bugged the hell out of me. Since there was no Natalie as there was in the movie, knowing that he never gets the chance to redeem himself or think differently didn't help things either. 
There were scenes in the book that went on WAY too  long for its own good, there's a scene where he's with one of his clients that goes on forever when really, it should have stopped at five pages maybe. The plot just wandered around and after a while I just wanted to like it too much. Such a shame, I really wanted to give this one at least a CHECK IT OUT because it's so well written. Too bad. It had so much potential.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

On Writing....

I had just realized that this blog is called Books, Movies AND a Writer's life. However, since I had not written one single post on writing, I decided to make a seperate blog for that.  So from now on, this blog is only Books and their Movies and the new blog is called A Historical Writer's life (yes, I do write historical fiction. Well, regular fiction too) and the link is here: 

-The Critic

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Informant!

The Informant! (Based on the book of the same name by Kurt Eichenwald)

Cast: Matt Damon (Mark Whitacre), Scott Bakula (Agent Brian Shepard), Joel McHale (Agent Bob Herndon), Tom Papa (Mick Andreas), Rick Overton (Terry Wilson),  Melanie Lyskey (Ginger Whitacre)
Script: Scott Z. Burns
Length: 1 hr. 48 min.
Verdict: SEE
Rating: R (There's swearing. As in, normal swearing. That's pretty much it.)
Faithfulness Scale: TBA

 So, I finally saw the movie I always wanted to see for a while this weekend. And, I have to say, it's worth the wait even though some people don't seem to agree with me. Lies! All lies these reviews! Speaking of lies, if you don't know what this movie's about, it's basically the story about the ADM price-fixing case way back in 1995 (my dates correct?) when a particular employer Mark Whitacre (played brilliantly by Matt Damon) noticed something fishy going on behind small grey cubicles. So, what to do except cooperate with the FBI! Ironic that Whitacre is not the most cooperative being on the planet. It turns out that he lied, stole, and schemed his way around the FBI, so that when his two bosses are out of the way, he can be the next person to run ADM. By the time he reached the two year wire-wearing mark with the FBI, Mark had made up all sorts of lies, including that he was adopted by rich parents. Of course he never lied about the price-fixing, but can we even believe that story? 
Matt Damon is brilliant as Whitacre, he made me laugh and moreover, he made me uneasy while watching this. It's especially fun watching Matt Damon put on 30 pounds plus a moustache and act like he's the nicest, but strangest guy on the planet! I don't know if hiring stand-up comics as the FBI agents and the supporting cast worked, the script is not comic enough for them to do comic things. But they were all believable in their roles so I didn't mind. 
Sometimes I did get lost in all the buisness and FBI lingo though, so it's not for anyone who knows nothing at all about buisness or how the FBI does stuff. It will only get you ridiculously confused. Continuing with the dialogue, I know some people were saying it wasn't funny enough. They're really mis-selling this movie, it's not the laugh out loud ha ha ha type of movie you would expect. It has it's moments and it is a light movie (you'll love the springy silly music used in this film. So precious!), but overall, it's not what I would call a serious 'black comedy'.
I was kind of bored during some moments, looking at ADM employees and foreign buisnessmen conduct office affairs isn't exactly interesting to watch, and it does seem to strectch out for too long. But it did teach me certain things about how buisness and the FBI works. It's also shows you how someone who seems like a completely honest, nice family man can even do the shadiest and most illegeal things like taking 11 mill. out of people's bank accounts. So, I say SEE IT, it's definately not for everyone, but it's mainly for older audience members.   

Kiddie-tron: Ehh, pretty harmless. I mean there's swearing, characters drop the F-bomb and the S-bomb a few times, so I wouldn't reccomend it for younger kids (Please stop listening to that stupid, ridiuclous R-rating). Frankly, I wouldn't recomend it for kids period, they'd get bored.

The Informant is out on DVD and Blu-Ray

Mark Whitacre's Mother: Mark's been telling people that you and I were killed in a car accident and he was adopted by rich people? What do you make of that?
Mark Whitacre's Father: Hm. That's kind of weird.

Mark Whitacre: Mark Whitacre, secret agent 0014.
Rusty Williams: Why 0014?
Mark Whitacre: Cause I'm twice as smart as 007.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Girl with a Pearl Earring movie

Girl With a Pearl Earring
Director: Peter Webber
Cast: Scarlett Johansson (Griet), Colin Firth (Vermeer) Tom Wilkinson (Pieter Van Ruivjen), Judy Parfitt (Maria Thins), Cillian Murphy (Pieter), Essie Davis (Catarina), Joanna Scanlan (Tanneke)
Script: Olivia Heetreed
Length: 1 hr. 40 min
Verdict: SKIP
Rated: PG-13 (For a rape scene and a sex scene in the alley)
Faithful Scale: 43%

Question to critics: Why did this movie get good reviews? Because, the only thing I liked about this movie, is the cinematography and Scarlett Johansson. I mean, I'm giving these people who made this movie kudos for casting the person that look exactly like the model does in the painting. Plus, she has such an expressive face, that gives the dull story a boost and makes the movie bearable. You look at her on screen and you immediately know what she's thinking, it takes a real actress to do that. She's perfect for this role, that's for sure. And it's also worth to see it just for the cinematography. It's a beautifully shot film, every shot looks like a painting. But here, it's just dull, dull stuff, like the book. 
To start off, I was annoyed by Colin Firth (Vermeer.) He's basically reduced to a series of reation shots (which are wooden.) Come on dude! Are you sad? Are you happy? Are you what? During the whole movie he never cracked a smile, never showed anything unless if you count akwardness as an emotion. I understand that you're supposed to be mysterious but there are better ways to BE mysterious than just sitting there with a frown on your face. Such a shame, Colin Firth is usually a great actor. 
It was also pretty ridiculous how freakishly panicked Catarina was. Which leads me to this point: I understand that she's supposed to be hysterical, but Judy Parfitt REALLY over did it. In the book, she actually seemed quiet compared to the Catarina in the movie. Parfitt's performance quite bothered me, she didn't scary or intimidating, she just plays it like someone who was just TRYING to be scary and intimidating. 
And this script. Okay, I had the same problem like this in the novel. Vermeer painted Tanneke, right? So, why is Griet supposed to hide the fact that she's being painted? After all, Van Ruijven knows (Tom Wilkinson does an excellent job as a villain) and that's even more scary, no one seems to be making a big deal about it. I mean, am I an idiot? There are scenes filled with lines like this:

Griet: [enters the room, where Maria Thins and Catharina sit quietly by the fireplace, and curtsies]
Catharina: Yes?
Griet: Madam, shall I wash the windows?
Catharina: [Scoffs] You don't need to ask me about such matters.
Griet: It's may change the light.

Those same stuffy lines of dialogue goes on for most of the movie. Plus, I felt that Pieter was almost an afterthought, which seems to me, one of the most important moments in the book. Sadly, you can SKIP IT. Even though the film had so much potential, it just went sliding down-hill after a few minutes.