Thursday, May 29, 2008


Untraceable is one of those scary movies that is even more scary because it could actually happen in real life. And the fact that it could happen makes it kind of a sad world that we live in. Seriously.

The movie takes place from the point of view of Jennifer Marsh, who is an agent in the FBI’s Cybercrime division. She and her partner spend much of their time tracking down criminals who steal identities and prey on underage children…all online. In short, they get to get the bad guy without ever having to physically confront the bad guy. If I ever decide that I want to career in law enforcement, that’s the way I’d like to go.

Except that one night while on the job, Jennifer gets a tip to visit a site that is unlike anything she’s ever seen before. Instead of embezzlers and perverts, Jennifer finds a killer on the site…or at least she finds a killer’s victim. Her first visit to the site features a live stream of a kitten, which is killed, live on the internet while people watch. In fact, the more people that log onto the site, the faster the kitten dies.

As you can imagine, the killer’s victims escalate to humans. Jennifer and her partners are left helplessly watching as people are tortured and killed on a site that is always changing its address…i.e…it’s untraceable, and they can’t find out who is behind it.

The site features a counter that shows how many people are watching, and clearly states that the more people log on, the more severe the torture and deaths will be. Surely some of them think it’s merely a hoax…but some of them know what is going on…which is freaky. How many people out there would WANT to watch something like that? Bleah. In essence each person that logs on to the site is an accomplice to murder…and they are told as much in press conferences and by police. And yet, people keep logging on.

As Jennifer closes in on clues that lead her to the killer, the killer moves closer to Jennifer. You know this is going to happen…it’s movie after all…and eventually her partner and even her family are put at risk. It’s up to Jennifer to find him and stop him before he can get to them.

I thought the movie was a effective thriller. I liked the fact that, while it was very disturbing, it was not as “gruesome” as it might have been. Anymore, it seems like movies just get thrills out of blood and gore, but Untraceable was definitely less violent and gross than it could have been. The scariest thing imaginable, after all, is not physical pain…but what is going on in the minds of those who choose to inflict it.

Lars And The Real Girl

I was kind of underwhelmed by Lars and the Real Girl. I’d heard from several sources that it was really good, and it didn’t suck…it just wasn’t everything I had hoped it would be. I don't know why. I don't know what I expected, so I can't really put a finger on where it was lacking for me.

The movie centers around a quiet but kind man named Lars. He lives in the garage behind the house where he grew up, and his sister-in-law and brother, who live in the house, worry that something is wrong with him because he prefers to spend most of his time alone. They invite him to meals and he finds reasons not to come, and he refuses to talk to anyone, really, more than he has to. There is a girl from church who has an obvious crush on him, but when he’s presented with the opportunity to give her a flower and strike up a conversation, he throws the flower aside and runs away.

Lars’ shyness begins to ebb away when he announces that he’s got a visitor from abroad: Bianca. Due to her religious beliefs, Lars asks his brother and sister-in-law if she can stay with them. She’s very shy and quiet, doesn’t speak much English, and is in a wheelchair. She’s also a doll.

Lars introduces Bianca to the people in his life as his girlfriend, and clearly believes that she is alive. On the recommendation of the doctor in town, Lars’ family and friends…and eventually the whole town…play along with his delusion. They believe that Bianca’s presence in Lars’ life has meaning, and it is clear that she’s bringing him out of his shell in ways that he never could have done on his own. The town plays along so well, in fact, that Bianca is eventually elected to the School Board and is honored at a Hospital volunteer banquet. As Lars watches Bianca “live” her own life, he learns to live his. The support that he has clearly bolsters him as he works through his own issues, which brought Bianca into all of their lives in the first place.

Ryan Gosling, who plays Lars, does a GREAT job in the movie. He’s been charismatic and almost “crush-worthy” in other roles, but he’s 100% socially inept in this one…but still somehow makes himself loveable. The supporting cast does their job, too, and overall, I think the movie shows a side of mental illness that many people have never seen. Instead of being ridiculed and treated like he’s crazy, Lars is loved and helped through his crisis. It’s probably something that would never happen too often in real life…but it did give me a good feeling to know that maybe somewhere there are people who would choose to do the kind thing in an extreme situation.

I know it sounds kind of like I’m praising the movie…but I didn’t love it. I’m not slamming it either, I didn’t dislike the movie at all…but once again, I think I expected more from it due to hearing so many good things about it from others. I would say that it’s a unique movie that’s worth seeing…but it’s probably not one that I’d need to see again or own.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mad Money

Over the weekend I watched Mad Money. I didn’t know much about the movie, other than the fact that I’d read on some celebrity blog that it kind of bombed in theaters. I honestly didn’t even know what it was about. Turns out, though…that it was a fun movie, about stuff that would never happen to me...(then again, they don’t usually make movies about girls who go to work every day and sometimes fall down)…and I liked it.

The movie starts out reminding me, kind of, of Fun With Dick and Jane. Dian Keaton plays Bridget, whose life spins into chaos when her husband, Don, loses his job. While they were once lived very comfortably in an upper middle class lifestyle, they are now facing the loss of her home, as Don is unable to find work anywhere. Though she has been out of the workforce for over twenty years, Bridget takes it upon herself to get a job to support them. After a series of failures in her search, she finally gets a job at the Federal Reserve Bank as a custodian.

Before seeing this movie, I didn’t even know what the Federal Reserve Bank was. Apparently one of their functions…(they may have more?)…is to shred “worn out” money that has run its course, that is going to be replaced by newly printed money. On her first day on the job, Bridget watches Nina, played by Queen Latifah, shred piles and piles of money. Obviously, the stacks of cash catch the newly impoverished Bridget’s eye.

It isn’t long before Bridget develops a plan to take some of the cash…which she justifies by saying that it’s going to be destroyed anyway. She gets Nina in on the plan, and they recruit another girl, Jackie, played by Katie Holmes, to complete their team. The plan is simple: Bridget, while she is cleaning, will change the lock on a cash cart and replace it with an identical lock that she had made. Jackie, who transports the carts from one area to another, will pick up the cart, unlock it with a copy of the new key, and then empty some of the cash into a pre-determined garbage can, which Bridget will empty later in the day. Once the cart has reached Nina in shredding, she will have retrieved the original lock from the bathroom where Bridget has left it, and return it to the cart. At the end of the day, they will take the cash out of the building, stuffed under their clothes, and get away scott-free.

The plan works well for a while. The girls have more money than they can spend…literally. If any of them spends too much of the cash at once, or deposits any large sums in their bank accounts, they will raise suspicion. They agree to live the same lifestyles they’d originally had, aside from paying the bills that they needed to pay and supporting their families. Of course things can’t go smoothly forever, though…or there wouldn’t be a movie. People find out what they shouldn’t find out…significant others get involved in ways that they shouldn’t get involved…things get sticky.

I won’t go into the rest of the details…just know that I thought it was a fun show with some laughs, and I thought it was worth the watch. If nothing else, it made me wish I had a little "mad money" tucked away...but of course I'd have to come by it the honest way. :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

P.S. I Love You

The second movie I watched over the weekend was P.S. I Love You. In this movie, Hilary Swank plays Holly, a young widow who is trying to deal with the recent loss of her husband, Gerry. Gerry’s death was not unexpected, as he had a brain tumor, and Holly finds out that as he prepared for his death, he also prepared a way to try to make losing him easier on Holly. He has made arrangements that letters, from him, will be delivered to her at different times throughout the year after his death, giving her advice and helping her find ways to move on.

This movie was good in many ways. The story line is just sweet and touching. In one scene my heart was breaking for Holly, as she called Gerry’s phone, over and over, just to hear his voice. Then, the next scene I was smiling and laughing as it showed a flashback to a time when Holly and Gerry did Karaoke. I’ve never lost a spouse…obviously…but I think the movie portrays Holly’s grief fairly authentically…one minute she’s smiling and reveling in fond memories…and the next she’s sobbing and inconsolable, unable to imagine how she’ll live her life without her true love. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional roller coaster that losing someone so dear would be.

Some of Gerry’s letters/instructions are simple. He tells her to go back to work…to enjoy what she’s doing. He tells her to get dressed up like a Diva and go back to the Karaoke bar where her previous experience was less than stellar. In one of his grander moves, however, she finds that he has arranged for her and her two best friends to go to Ireland, where he is from, and where they first met. Gerry leaves letters for her friends, as well, giving them instructions on things they need to make her do…places to take her…all in an attempt to help her cope and continue living her life.

While the film features Gerry throughout, (played by the SUPER dreamy Gerard Butler… :)…)...both in flashbacks that tell the story of Holly’s and Gerry’s life together, and through hearing his voiceover as Holly reads the letters, there are two other men in Holly’s life. The first of these is Daniel, who works at the bar that Holly’s mother owns, and who is infatuated with Holly from the moment he sees her at Gerry's wake. Daniel is played by Harry Connick Jr., and isn’t nearly as charming as I know Harry Connick Jr. can be…(He won me over big time in Hope Floats.) Daniel never minces words with his intentions with Holly, and at one point tells her that he wants to help her get rid of Gerry. In spite of his blunt nature, Holly enjoys spending time with him, and they get closer throughout the movie.

The other man is a musician named William, who Holly meets in Ireland. There is an immediate attraction between the two, but Holly is afraid of feeling anything for anyone new. It turns out, though, that William (who is played by the same actor who played Denny Duquette on Grey’s Anatomy, and drove me CRAZY on that show) has insights on Gerry that Holly couldn't have seen coming, and he easily endears himself to Holly (and to me, unbelievably).

I really liked this movie. Like I said, it’s touching and funny…and I feel like it’s “real.” I would highly recommend it to anyone who either likes a good story…maybe a couple of tears…or at the very least, a good looking Irishman…: )

Over Her Dead Body

I recently watched two movies about a person moving on in life after losing their significant other. Each movie addresses the issue differently, but I liked both movies, for the most part.

The first movie I watched was Over Her Dead Body. This movie centers around Henry, who is trying to enter the dating world after losing his fiancĂ©, Kate, who was killed on their wedding day the year before. In an effort to speed the process up, his sister (who really does just want him to be happy) talks a part-time psychic into telling Henry that she has received a message from Kate that she wants Henry to move on. As soon as Henry begins to trust the psychic, Ashley, he begins to fall for her, as well, and his sister’s plan seems to be right on track.

Nobody could account, however, for the fact that Kate, who has not moved on herself, is not ready for Henry to move on, either. On the contrary, she makes it her mission to thwart any and all chances that Henry and Ashley might make it. Although Ashley never saw or heard from Kate in the beginning, Kate makes her presence known to Ashley, who initially freaks out at seeing a ghost, but eventually chooses to defy Kate’s wishes and dates Henry anyway.

This movie was good, but not GREAT. I’m not a huge fan of Paul Rudd, who plays Henry…especially as a leading man. I think he’s fine as the supportive friend/sidekick to the real leading man…but he doesn’t pull of the “main squeeze” role for me. I don’t know why…he just doesn’t. Similarly, Ashley is played by an actress whose name I don’t even know, and who I don’t recognize from anything else. She’s likeable enough, but she’s not a strong enough presence to sell the movie.

Eva Longoria Parker plays Kate, and she’s my favorite person in the movie. In spite of the fact that she knows she is dead…and logically, Henry cannot be expected to pine for her forever…she isn’t willing to let go just yet. She is able to appear whenever she wants in Ashley’s life, and can make Ashley see and hear things that nobody else can. One of the funniest scenes is when Ashley and Henry go off for a weekend together, and Kate has Ashley convinced that Henry is farting up a storm in their hotel room. What can I say? Farts are funny.

Overall, this movie, like I said, is good…but it’s not a new favorite. I don’t think it set out to be the biggest comedy blockbuster of all time…just a fun, pleasant movie…and it achieved that goal. I don’t regret having watched it, but it wasn’t anything that knocked my socks off either.

Friday, May 2, 2008

27 Dresses

How much do I love the movie 27 Dresses, you ask? So much that I saw it once in the theater, and now that it’s out on DVD for 3 days, I’ve watched it twice already, and I’d probably watch it again this weekend if the opportunity presented itself. And, since I rushed out and bought the DVD the day it was released…that opportunity might just rear its glorious head…you never know.

27 Dresses is the story of Jane…a girl who loves weddings so much that she’s found herself in the middle of no less than 27 of them…none of which were her own. She’s not only been the maid of honor or at least a bridesmaid in these weddings, but more often than not, she’s helped plan each of the events, being so intricately involved in each of them that in a way they are hers…right up to the moment when “Here Comes the Bride” begins, and she’s reminded that this is someone else’s day.

The movie opens on a night when Jane is a bridesmaid in two different weddings in the same night, following her back and forth between the two events. Jane makes sure to catch every important moment for two of her very best friends, including two doses of the Macarena. Her dedication to her role as bridesmaid cannot be questioned. Nobody seems to notice that Jane is working both weddings at once, except a writer named Kevin. After watching her jump in and out of a cab numerous times and immediately change clothes as the taxi drives away, he takes a marked interest in Jane. The two share a cab after both weddings are over, and when Jane leaves her date book on the floor of the back seat, Kevin keeps it, in order to learn more about her. Upon investigating, he realizes that she is fully immersed in weddings, and decides that he wants to do a story on her...(he writes the "Commitments" column in the paper, and Jane loves his stories...without knowing that it is him who writes them.) They develop a sort of love/hate relationship, as he is a cynic when it comes to marriage, and she works continually to prove to him that all things “wedding” are not to be frowned upon.

When she’s not “working the wedding circuit,” Jane is an assistant to George…a man she’s not so secretly in love with, but with whom she has never shared her true feelings. She is as dedicated to him as she is to the brides in her life, and she is positive that one day, he’ll come to realize that she is irreplaceable as more than just a work assistant.

Jane’s dreams are shattered, however, when her sister, Tess, comes to town for what is meant to be a visit, and George immediately takes an interest in her. Jane watches helplessly as Tess and George grow closer and closer, (due in part to Tess’ tendency to lie about all of the things that they have in common) and eventually is mortified when George proposes.

Jane not only has to deal with the fact that her sister is getting married to the man that she’s in love with, but also that she is expected to plan the perfect wedding for them. Jane is torn between wanting to take care of Tess, which she has always done since their mother died when they were children, and exposing “the real Tess” to George, who is a good man, and doesn’t deserve to be lied to. The only person who she can turn to in her time of need turns out to be Kevin, and eventually they find that they have more in common than they had originally thought.

I love this movie for so many reasons. I don’t want to go into the plot any further, because it’s a delight that I don’t want to ruin for you. But the movie makes me laugh and scowl, and smile and fall in love with love and everything in between. The characters are likeable, and the circumstances never seem over the top to me. Some of the dresses, though, cannot make such a claim…(the scene where Jane models all of her 27 dresses for a mortified Kevin is one of my favorites)…and I’ve vowed that when I finally get married myself, I will choose bridesmaid dresses that nobody will be humiliated to wear.