Mark Wahlberg Gets Serious In Lone Survivor Trailer

With 2 Guns opening this weekend and Lone Survivor hitting this winter, Mark Wahlberg’s showing very different acting chops on the big screen. As we mentioned yesterday, 2 Guns seems to have a more light hearted, comedic tone to it, at least judging by his character’s one-liners, while Survivor is a lot more serious. Directed by Peter Berg (Hancock, The Rundown), this new film tells the (based on a true) story of a quartet of Navy Seals whose mission in Afghanistan goes sour and they have to eventually fight their way out of trouble. The film also stars Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster.

The above trailer showcases the dramatic aspects of the film which, according to Variety, is being pushed as an Oscar contender by Universal hence the early New York and LA release of December 27 in advance of the wider January 10th one.

Little Movies, Big Casts: Spring Breakdown (2009) & The Air I Breathe (2007)

The combination of Amy Poehler and Rachel Dratch sold me on watching Spring Breakdows as I’m not much of Parker Posey fan. It seems fairly obvious from watching the movie, though, that Posey wasn’t the first choice to play Beck St. Germaine as she basically plays a Tina Fey character. I would like to think that if Fey was in this movie it would be a lot better, but then again I was pretty disappointed and I find Poehler and Dratch to be great comediennes. The story follows three friends as they head to spring break to keep Posey’s boss’s daughter out of trouble, but as it turns out, the daughter is just a big nerd. There’s a current of lameness that seems to run under this movie at all times that seeps into the performances, dampening all of them except for Seth Meyers’ which is solid throughout his few scenes as Dratch’s gay fiance. But even his performance can’t elevate this very been-there-done-that movie. And again, this cast is crazy stacked with talent. Aside from the three leads, you’ve got Amber Tamblyn, Mae Whitman (Anne from Arrested Development), Sarah Hagan (Buffy, Freaks & Geeks), Jane Lynch, Will Arnett and even a brief cameo by Jack McBrayer (Kenneth from 30 Rock). And it still falls flat. Laguna Beach fans might want to take note that Kristen Cavaleri’s in the movie, but I’m guessing the director wasn’t too pleased with her performance as I, a recovering  LB fan, didn’t even notice her until about 3/4 of the way through the movie where she finally says something. There’s even a sexy talent show dance where she barely appears because, I’m guessing, she can’t dance.

Anyway, avoid this one. It’s played way too goofy and not in an ironic way, though it is nice to see Poehler playing a smarter character than Leslie Knope. I guess there’s a reason that some movies go straight to video.

While still not a great movie, The Air I Breathe was much better than Spring Breakdown, though comparing a goofy and boring spring break movie with a drama about emotions and people and how those people and emotions are connected probably isn’t an even one to make. Before getting into the plot, which I probably don’t completely understand, I want to give you a cast list. Ahem. Kevin Bacon, Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Emile Hirsch (completely didn’t recognize him, but knew he looked familiar), Forest Whitaker, Kelly Hu and John Cho are all in this movie. Okay, so here’s the deal as far as I can tell. Brendan Fraser can see the future. He works as muscle for Garcia’s mobster. Fraser kind of convinces Whitaker to try and rob a bank which goes wrong. Fraser then has to show Hirsch, playing Garcia’s visiting nephew, how not to get killed while being a mobster. Fraser sees Hirsch getting killed in a vision but somehow prevents it. Then, in exchange for not killing a guy, Garcia gets SMG’s pop star managing contract and puts Fraser in charge of her safety. They fall in love. It gets weird from there and a little circular, but I don’t think the way the movie ends makes sense compared to what you just saw a little while before. Basically, I’m not sure what happened to Fraser because I was working while watching.

Did anyone else watch this movie? I’m kind of surprised it didn’t make it to theaters with such an impressive cast and it’s not a bad movie by any means, but just more confusing that it should be. Fraser also plays his roll a bit too over dramatically for my taste, but everyone else seemed on point.

Lords of Dogtown (2005) … Is Awesome!

So, as some of you know, my job recently moved into NYC. As a result I’ve got a couple hours on the train every day to get to work, which means I’ve got time for reading and watching movies. It’s nice to have something to do, but it also means I’m watching a movie in pieces instead of all at once. The first movie I watched like this was Lords of Dogtown.

Man, this was a rad movie. It took a while to watch the whole thing, but the great thing about the movie is that, even watching it that way, it was still crazy fun, engaging as hell and hit me in the guts at the end.

LOD is a biopic about a group of kids who were skating back in the 70s and went on to become a pretty big deal in the skateboarding world. It stars Emile Hirsch, some other kids who I hadn’t heard of but were AWESOME, Rebecca De Mornay as Hirsch’s strung-out mom, Heath Ledger as the surf and skate shop owner and Ethan from Lost as De Mornay’s one-time boyfriend.

The kids start off just skating in their neighborhood, join up with Ledger’s skate crew, getting big in the skate world then getting drawn on to bigger companies to skate for.

The crazy thing about the movie is that, I recognized Ledger early in the movie when he was surfing and then didn’t realize it was him as the surf shop owner because he really gives himself up to the character. I really thought it was another guy because he puts on this great Cali-dude voice. Ledger’s character isn’t the center of attention by any means, but he’s the character I felt for the most. He helps them out, sponsors their team, gets them into the game and then everyone bails on him for bigger and better (or, well, less and close-to-nothing).

So, on to the actual stars of the movie. I really like all these kids, even when they’re being unlikable (a true testament to their abilities). Hirsch really shines as the troubled kid from a bad place who slowly slips into what appears to be the life of a gangster after walking away from pro skating.

I realize I’m not capturing how much I liked this movie or how good it really is, but I think what I liked about the movie is that it was real and, even though it kind of followed the biopic pattern of small time guys getting big and then burning out, there’s a huge glimmer of hope at the end of the flick, well, for most of the characters. And, as a plus, unlike most biopics, everyone isn’t dead at the very end.

Seriously, if you’ve ever liked Emile Hirsch or Heath Ledger in a flick or have any interest in skating or 70s period pieces or just damn good acting, you should definitely check Lords of Dogtown out. I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary it was based on Dogtown and Z-Boys.

Newer Movie Round-Up

2008-09-28
3:42:25 am

Just wanted to say a few quick things about three movies that I’ve seen recently and really enjoyed.

Sometime last week or the week before Em and I watched Baby Mama, starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Steve Martin, Romany Malco and more. I am a big fan of Tina and Amy first from their work on SNL and later Fey on 30 Rock, Romany was awesome in 40 Year Old Virgin and I can’t wait for him to star in something on his own and Steve Martin is funnier in this as an aging hippy mogul that he’s been in anything I’ve seen in a while. The basic plot is that Tina Fey wants to have a baby, but she can’t so she goes through an agency and ends up with Amy Poehler as her surrogate. The plot itself is VERY formulaic (I had it nailed down about 20-ish minutes in), but it’s the performances that really make this movie worth watching. If you’re a fan of Poehler and or Fey, then it’s definitely worth checking out.

Then, just today we watched Speed Racer. I know it bombed in the box office, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. The Wachowski Brothers took a tired old cartoon that I generally disliked and turned it into this crazy mix of action and drama in a really effective live action cartoon. Oh, it also stars Christina Ricci who I’ve had a crush on since Casper. But really, I laughed and called out “Oh [bad word for poo]” off and on so many times during the 2 hour movie. Don’t believe the bad hype and check this flick out on DVD. Emile Hirsch, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox and Shaft himself Richard Roundtree all offer up fantastically believable performances even against the backdrop of this cartoony world. Plus, the chimp scenes in this movie are my second favorite next to Any Which You But Loose and its sequel. Big ups to the Wachowskis, I think there’s some kind of Hollywood conspiracy that kept this movie from doing well. A CONSPIRACY I tells ya!

Finally, tonight Em, her mom and I went to see the Coen Brothers’ latest flick Burn After Reading. It was 97 minutes of pure delight. Definitely more Lebowski than No Country. It was much funnier than I expected it to be (I actually didn’t really know what it was about going in, just that it was some kind of spy thriller). It’s also a pretty hard movie to summarize, so I won’t bother. Two of my favorite actors George Clooney and Brad Pitt were awesome, JK Simmons made me laugh so hard I almost watered up. And of course John Malkovich brought his A game. The Coen’s really wove an interesting yarn with this one, keeping me guessing as to what was going to happen next, but also challenging me to keep up with the story. Oh, I also really liked the poster. Well done, what a great week for movies.