Wednesday, December 23, 2009

3 quick 2009 reviews: Observe and Report; Julie and Julia; The Messenger

Director - Jody Hill
86 min; R
Ronnie Barnhardt - Seth Rogen
Detective Harrison - Ray Liotta
Brandi - Anna Faris

I suppose I laughed a few times at this quirky noir-comedy, but in reality it is pretty unwatchable. Both this film and Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) suffered from their similar release dates with similar subjects, and I guess to be quite honest, from lack of good writing. The film does contain some dark-comedy that some may enjoy, but I don't think the general viewing public is going to find most of this entertaining. Give me a movie like Punch-Drunk Love (2002)any day. Prepare yourself for a lot of crude humor and vulgar language. You really lose nothing by skipping this one.

* and 1/2 out of 5


Director - Nora Ephron
123 min; PG-13
Julia Child - Meryl Streep
Julie Powell - Amy Adams

I was pleasantly surprised by this cute film which traces two storylines in a side-by-side narrative, that of the life of Julia Child and her rise to world-wide cooking sensation, and that of Julie Powell and her project to spend one year cooking her way through the famous chef's famous cookbook. The film does not reach any major conclusions but it leaves you feeling satisfied, and the fact that it is based on a true story makes it all the better. Is this a top theatrical presentation? Who cares! It is watchable and definitely would work as a date movie.

*** out of 5


Director - Oren Moverman
105 min; R
Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery - Ben Foster
Kelly - Jena Malone
Captain Tony Stone - Woody Harrelson
Dale Martin - Steve Buscemi

A wartime film that follows the lives of two soldiers who hold the distinguished and anguished job of delivering news of death to next of kin. Wonderful performances by both Foster and Harrelson make this film worth seeing, and some of the scenes where they deliver their message are beautiful and powerful, including 2 scenes with a father (Steve Buscemi) that are the best of the movie. Ultimately it falls apart for me as the direction of the film takes a turn towards a strange plotline which I did not feel gave any depth to the subject matter and only left me wanting to see more of these soldiers as they perform their duty, not as they each fight seemingly self-imposed demons.

*** and a 1/2 out of 5

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