At The Theater #7: The Last Station Feb21

At The Theater #7: The Last Station...

Walking into the theater at The Angelika, I didn’t know anything about The Last Station other than James McAvoy stars in it. When I sat down, and was told it was about Tolstoy, I reaction was “Really?” Inside I was thinking “How did I let this happen? Great, time to prep for something boring and pretentious.” But as it turns out I need not have worried. The Last Station is a surprisingly humorous movie, especially considering that it’s a movie about Tolstoy. The movie features what will probably be the funniest sex scene of James McAvoy’s career. I did think it was weird that my companions and I were the only ones laughing during some scenes. Maybe the other theatergoers were also prepped for something boring and pretentious, and no amount of humor was going to rob them of that. The scene right before this picture is worth the price of admission. Christopher Plummer plays Tolstoy. This is the second movie this year that I thought Christopher Plummer was Ian McKellen. This is also the second movie where upon finding out he wasn’t Ian McKellen, I thought he was Christopher Lee. For some reason, I forgot Chrisopher Lee’s last name and thought Christopher Lee and Christopher Plummer were the same person. “He looks so different than when he played Saruman,” I’d think. “It must be because his beard is so much scragglier here than when it was so nicely combed in Lord of The Rings.” Because I thought Christopher Lee and Christopher Plummer were the same person, I found it very funny when one of the characters with a General Zod-like beard was on screen at the same time as Tolstoy. Luckily someone that looks like General Zod is funny no matter who is starring alongside him. It...

On The Couch #5: Julie & Julia Feb16

On The Couch #5: Julie & Julia...

I need to apologize to anyone who ever watches a movie with me that has location shoots in any places that mean anything to me. There we’ll be, quietly watching a movie together, like say Julie & Julia, and a character gets off the subway at 45 Road/Courthouse Square in Queens and I yell out “Hey! That’s Long Island City!” This is followed by confused silence from my movie-watching companions. “That’s grandma’s old building in the background; the red brick one! And there’s the diner!” Which is usually given the sarcastic response of “Great…” or the non-sarcastic response of “Uh huh, so?” Amy Adams’ Julie Powell gets on and off that subway stop a few times in Julie & Julia, so…sorry. -“Look! It’s Long Island City!” -“Um, great.” I thought Julie & Julia was quite good. Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, who starts a blog about going through every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. There are 524 recipes in the book and she gives herself a deadline of 1 year, so she has her work cut out for her. She’s motivated by her dissatisfaction with her job and and of her apartment in Queens. I get the job bit; that job looked torturous. But Queens? Come on. She acts like it’s Staten Island. Meryl Streep was excellent as Julia Child. This performance has me circling her name in any Oscar pool I’m in this year. The two storylines dovetail well together, often playing off the same themes, and, as this is a movie about one person writing the same cookbook the other is reading, the same recipes. The book that started it all. But even more so than Streep, how awesome in Stanley Tucci? In this movie, he plays Julia Child’s husband Paul. He’s great here, but what I really...

At The Movies #6: An Education Feb11

At The Movies #6: An Education...

My main reason for wanting to see An Education was that the screenplay was written by Nick Hornby, author of two of my favorite books: High Fidelity and About a Boy. I read all of his novels, so the completist in me felt the need to see this movie. I didn’t know it was based on a memoir by Lynn Barber until the movie started. This let me down a little because going into it I was excited to see Nick Hornby’s first original screenplay, one that wasn’t a movie based on one of his books. But it looks like I’ll still have to wait for that because while this wasn’t based on one of his books, it was based on someone else’s. An Education was playing at my local movie theater, The Brooklyn Heights Cinema, for a while at the end of last year, but I didn’t manage to catch it. Thankfully, the Oscar nomination for best picture brought it back there. A word to the wise about The Brooklyn Heights Cinema: the two theaters aren’t labeled, but one is the left of the ticket window and one is to the right. You can tell which theater to walk into by looking at the arrows next to the movie’s name on the ticket window. If more people noticed that, half the people in our theater wouldn’t have missed the first 7 minutes of The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus when they realized they were in the wrong theater. The premise of An Education is very straightforward. An honors student, bored with here life of studying is swept off her feet by Peter, a sharply dressed, smooth talking playboy. The initial problem is that he’s nearly twice her age. But Jenny is mature and Peter is very sweet,...

On The Couch #4: Funny People Feb09

On The Couch #4: Funny People...

Wow, I had Funny People sitting next to my DVD player for a long time. I received it from Netflix in late November and finally watched it on Friday. The weird thing is I really wanted to see this movie. I pushed it to the top of queue is late November, knowing that I would watch it the day it came; I was that excited about this movie. But the disc went neglected in the lead-up to Christmas and New Year’s, always sitting atop an empty spot on the television stand, never completely out of sight, never completely out of mind. Even having off from work the week between Christmas and New Year’s didn’t help. There was always some reason not to watch it. One night around New Year’s we invited over Andrew and Jen, two good friends who were visiting from California. They were just sitting down to watch a DVD though, and would be over after that. I said “Think they’ll want to watch Funny People after that?” They did not. Because the DVD they were watching was Funny People. Son of a – ! When they came over to hang out, Andrew warned that the movie was really long. They turned it off with a half hour left in order to come to our place. “Eric Bana doesn’t show up until about two hours in, and he’s in the commercials,” Andrew warned, “It’s like two movies in one.” Sure enough, I checked the DVD sleeve. 2 hours and 38 minutes! Damn! Andrew’s warning and seeing the length of time on the DVD sleeve aided in my delay. Once I returned to work, it was hard to work in a 2 hour and 38 minute movie. If we started it at 8...

At The Theater #5: Youth in Revolt Feb07

At The Theater #5: Youth in Revolt...

I have a new favorite movie of the year, and it is Youth in Revolt. I’m really surprised that Youth in Revolt didn’t do better both financially and with critics. I thought this movie was hilarious and would label it a must-see. It is the story of Nick Twisp, a nice guy who can’t get the girl. Nick, played by Michael Cera, invents a new personality for himself named Francois Dillinger. Francois is everything that Nick isn’t, namely cool and more aggressive. He’s like a teenage Tyler Durden, compsenating for Nick’s shortcomings, sometimes to extremes. Francois makes me almost want to reverse my stance on moustaches. Francois does such a good job of transforming Nick that I wouldn’t be surprised if skinny white pants and pencil thin moustaches become the standard look for nerds trying to make a stand. At least it’s a better look than modeling yourself after Napoleon Dynamite. If you’ve got $800 to spare and a yearning to really wear Michael Cera’s clothes, you can buy the whole Francois outfit package here. But you could probably also by the same outfit for 1/10 that price at H&M too. The new look for bad boy nerds? I think that Youth in Revolt will be remembered as the movie where Michael Cera stopped being so Michael Cera-like. There’s plenty of Michael Cera being Michael Cera for anyone who can’t enough of Michael Cera’s trademark awkwardness. Nick Twisp is basically George Michael Bluth or Paulie Bleeker. But Francois Dillinger definitely isn’t. He’s something new, and if you’ve grown a little tired of Michael Cera being Michael Cera, this is definitely worth seeing. I was really happy to see Adhir Kalyan show up, playing Nick’s school friend Vijay Joshi. I was fan of his short lived TV series Aliens in America,...