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Archive for the ‘light-hearted drama’ Category

poster_petedragonYet another trend from Disney which tends to fall flat with each attempt. However, this one wasn’t as bad as I had expected. In fact that’s the best I could say about it; albeit insanely unoriginal in plot, this live action retell of Pete’s Dragon didn’t entirely suck.

Pete’a Dragon is about a toddler named Pete who’s parents and he suffered a terrible car wreck in the woods of Millhaven, Ore. As the toddler survived, but the parents did not, a legendary docile dragon which the boy names Elliot takes him into its care for the next six years until a logging company and a Forrest ranger discover the boy has been living in the wild all this time. Soon, they learn his dragon exists and a hunter party ensues to capture the magical beast while those who respect the creature look to keep it free and hidden.

Here’s what I appreciated about the film. Elliot never spoke. I was so afraid that character was going to receive the A-typical Disney date rape by having this computer generated character speak English and take that much more reality away from a plot already based in fantasy. However, someone made the decision not to and it worked much better for the integrity of the film, I felt.

I also loved the cast. Bryce Dallas Howard (Lady In the Water) as Grace the forest ranger completely sold her part. She committed and within a Disney fantasy I didn’t expect that from anyone in the film. It was a pleasant surprise and increased my respect for her as an actor.

Frankly, this live action remake of a Disney classic will probably disappoint the die hard fans of the original, I think. I wasn’t one. It’s cute, but I feel this storyline is better in the for of the Steven Spielberg directed classic E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

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I have to admit that I’m not exactly in a romantic comedy place right now, so maybe this review maybe a bit unfair. I don’t care.

“Wimbledon” follows the concerns of once medicorce Brittish tennis pro Peter Colt, played by Paul Bettany (Master and Commander), who has lost his competitive drive and will to do anything great with the last of his career.

Of course, he decides to make his exit at Wimbledon. There, he meets the women’s anticipated winner American Lizzie Bradbury and they fall for each other despite their suspertitious natures. So with love and lust in his life, Peter’s game soars, defeating top seeded players, including his own regular practice partner and good friend.

Lizzie’s father, played by Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), is concern her involvement with a man during the Wimbledon games may sabotage her success.

The picture is rich with low-key Brittish comedy, which makes it less comedy and more light-hearted drama with some romance….uhg.

Bettany delivers his funniest lines perfectly, but unfortunately it feels as if every other supporting character had more insightful things to say. When Peter Colt finally gets a chance to say something important about love, it just doesn’t transend the limits of film.

Dunst was also juicey as Bradbury. As she gets older, her performances adopt little differences, which show she’d headed on the right career road. However, in this picture, her character’s motivations switch so rapidly, its difficult to take anything her character says seriously.

“Wimbledon” was directed by Richard Loncraine who directed “My House in Umbria,” “The Gathering Storm,” “Richard III” and…,my goodness, I’m boring myself just listing his credits. You can get the idea of the directing style of this project.

However, I did appreciate the effort to make tennis look like this ultra exciting, ultra fast paced and stressful game. I’m sure for those who play and have an interest in it would agree, but for those of us who prefer hockey and football, shit high school soccer even, come on….ITS TENNIS! It’s a little tough to make an exciting climax out of TENNIS!! Good try, but the climax simply seemed to drag on.

I enjoyed the picture for the most part. I wish I could’ve enjoyed it more. Not the best movie ever, but that’s already a pretty lofty title. 

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It’s independent and very Edward Burns, making this release a nice quiet romantic comedy about brothers who have no clue how to be happy in a relationship.

“She’s the One” is about two brothers, played by Edward Burns and Mike McGlone (The Brothers McMullen) who allow a worthless woman to ruin their lives simply cause she’s good in bed, played by Cameron Diaz (In Her Shoes).

The movie does well at showing how unsettled men can be and also finds a way to give a humorous perspective on women who get stuck in these men’s ridiculous quirks.

The picture has no real story, like most Burns scripted features (The Brothers McMullen, No Looking Back); however, it has signature Burns style of dialogue and character development. The film’s humor is unending, from the sharp wit of the women he writes to the grizzled Irish-American father figure, played by John Mahoney (TV’s Frazier).

As a director, Burns plays up the simpleness of his characters’ conflicts and makes their more complex motivations subtle. It’s a very good light hearted comedy, which it good for a date-at-home rental. There are laughs for both sexes in this one.

Jennifer Aniston (The Good Girl) was very real as McGlone’s onscreen wife Renee, while Burns’ was also very funny as brother Mickey.

The funniest performance came from Mahoney as the patriarch of Mickey and Francis (McGlone). With his very gruff exterior, Mahoney’s performance helps set up the brothers’ insecurities when they are revealed.

Diaz phones in her part as Heather Davis, the ex-girlfriend of Mickey and the woman Francis is cheating on Renee with. We have seen Diaz do SO MUCH better stuff since this 1996 release. In this one, it seems she knew she was only there to play the lust interest.

Overall, this is one of writer/director Edward Burns better pictures. It’s funny, real and is fair to both sexes.

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This is one of the best laid out true story dramas I’ve seen in recent months. “Shattered Glass” I best describe as one of those thrillers without being a thriller, similar to “The Contender.”

“Shattered Glass” tells the story of Stephen Glass, a 24 year old journalist and associate editor with “The New Republic” magazine, who also moonlighted with other major publications like Harper’s, George and New York Times. However, when digital media journalist Adam Penenberg, writing for Forbes online magazine, discovers facts from one of Glass’s stories was fabricated with falsehoods, the Glass house of popularity begins to crumble.

The picture stars Hayden Christensen aka Anakin Skywalker from the new Star Wars trilogy is a very impressive performance. He plays Glass in a demeanor not too far off from the actual person being depicted. The “Shattered Glass” DVD disc contains a five year anniversary spot on the true life person and situation as aired on the TV news magazine show “60 Minutes.” The extra feature adds to the belief that this picture is not only highly fair to the situation, but highly accurate.

Among those in the supporting cast are Peter Sarsgaard as the editor of the New Republic who investigates the truth behind Glass’s submission. Rarely giving a serious dramatic role is Hank Azaria who sets the stage of the conflict after being replaced as New Republic editor.

The story in this feature is so simply and so well timed, it kept me always suspecting what was really going on, yet somehow always guessing what was next to be revealed at the same time. However, after recently coming off over three years of working as a journalist, I can say I have a biased towards the setting of the picture, and relate to much of its material where others may get bored. I doubt it though. As I stated, the picture is a thriller. Any viewer will quickly know where the plot is going and I’m sure would get pulled in. There are no explosions or gun shots. There’s not even anyone running after another person, so action sequences are not to be found. Do not let my use of the word “Thriller” deceive you.

However, I strongly felt the movie was as exciting as any movie that has all those high end production values. This could possibly be the best picture I’ve seen on DVD this year. Rent it!

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