Friday, June 26, 2015

"Inside Out" and The Week in Reviews

[It's more about what to avoid this week except for the new movie "Inside Out." I also review the DVDs "The Long Way Down" and "Hot Tub Time Machine 2." The Book of the Week is "Always Pack a Party Dress," fashion advice from a fashionista, and I also bring you up to date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project:" - the Soviet silent film "Earth"]

Pixar's animated version of what it's like inside the mind of an 11-year-old.

Eleven-year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) lives happily in Minnesota with her parents.  She loves her parents (Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane), she loves playing hockey, she likes to be goofy and has a best friend.  But when her family movies to San Francisco, Riley's world starts to fall apart.  She has a hard time making friends and misses her old friends, has an embarrassing moment at school, the hockey is not working out so well and she hates the pizza...and it doesn't help that adolescence is just around the corner.

If you ever wonder what your kids are thinking, well, now we know how it all works as Pixar takes us inside their minds.

We can see inside Riley's brain, where Joy, (Amy Poeller), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) live.  Joy runs the show.  She is a happy control freak but that's great because joy is what rules little Riley's life.  Joy doesn't want anything but joy for little Riley. Anger blows steam and flames out of his head when riled.  Fear runs amok, Disgust says "ugh" a lot and Sadness is a round blue blob of melancholy who keeps screwing things up, but as long as Joy is running things, she can keep those negative emotions at bay.

But Sadness can't keep her hands to herself and keeps touching the little balls of Riley's happy memories that are in storage up there at Headquarters and contaminating them. But it's the "core" memories that are most important and when Sadness messes those up, Joy and Sadness must go deep into the recesses of Riley's mind to save them.  There they run into Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Riley's long forgotten imaginary friend, part elephant, part floppy-eared dog who cries candy tears and who tries to help them.  But they also run into Riley's fears and sad memories.

While Joy and Sadness are gone from "control central," Fear, Disgust and Anger try to keep things running smoothly in Riley's mind.  Well, you can pretty much figure how that's going to work.

But what Joy doesn't realize in her frenzied quest to keep Riley happy is that Riley needs to be sad sometimes.  Sadness makes you appreciate the joy.  

That's the message in this delightful story devised and written by 
Pete Doctor ("Up," "Monsters, Inc." and "Toy Story") and others and directed by Doctor and Ronaldo del Carmen

But don't be fooled by this being a Disney picture.  This is not "Toy Story" or "Cars."  Yet it is just as enjoyable but probably not for very little kids.  The little kids in the audience were running around and not watching this film, because this one is more cerebral and aimed at older kids and their parents.

There are all kinds of funny moments and recurring bits such as a chewing gum jingle that once played you can't get out of your mind (we've all had that happen, right?) and Riley's "train of thought" is actually a train.


How is Pixar able to create characters that look like Keane paintings and yet get you to care so much that the hankies are out for much of the film?  It's the end of childhood.  That gets to all of us.

 Rosy the Reviewer says...a not-to-be missed summer movie!



***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)
 
 

Four disparate people find themselves up on a London rooftop on New Year's Eve, all planning to kill themselves. 

However, they talk each other off the ledge (literally).  The four make a pact that they cannot kill themselves until February 14 (the next date that people are likely to kill themselves).

Slowly the film reveals each character's story and what led them to that rooftop on that New Year's Eve.

Jess (Imogen Poots) is a politician's daughter (Sam Neill is her Dad), a sort of bad girl who is despairing of a recent rejection. 
 
Martin (Pierce Brosnan) is a disgraced TV presenter.
 
Maureen (Toni Collette) is overwhelmed caring for an invalid son and JJ (Aaron Paul) wanted to be a rock star but now is reduced to delivering pizzas. Oh and by the way, he is also dying of brain cancer.

The press finds out about the four of them so they decide to make some money out of it by telling their stories and saying that an angel stopped them from killing themselves.  But it all blows up and they decide to get away together to Tenerife to escape the press.

What started for each of them as a mission to kill themselves becomes a mission to save each other. 

I love Pierce Brosman and I have liked Nick Hornby's other screenplays ("High Fidelity," "About a Boy"), though he didn't write this one.  This one is based on his 2005 novel, adapted by Jack Thorne and directed by Pascal Chaumeil and it's a really good idea for a film: four people who all decide to kill themselves forming a bond not to. 

So what's the problem?  It just doesn't add up to a satisfying film. The characters are not particularly likable so you just don't really care what happens to them. Perhaps if Hornsby himself had written the screenplay, the film might have had more gravitas.  Unfortunately, the film was executed in a disjointed way and treats the issue of suicide in a rather glib manner.

Rosy the Reviewer says...good idea that they couldn't quite pull off.  Not recommended unless you are a big Pierce Brosnan fan (he is still handsome as hell) or wondered what happened to Aaron Paul after "Breaking Bad" ended.

 

If you didn't see the first one, there is a hot tub that is really a time machine.

There is a bit of a recap at the beginning of this film, in case you didn't see the first one.  Lou (Rob Corrdry), Nick (Craig Robinson), Jacob (Clark Duke) and Adam (Adam Scott) discovered that their hot tub could transport them back in time.  Knowing what they knew in the present, they were able to make money and change their lives from what they learned from the past.   

So as this sequel begins, Lou is a rich big shot Internet mogul (he invented a search engine called Louggle), and Nick is a successful songwriter from stealing parts of other songs from the past.  Clark Duke is back as Lou's son Jacob and Adam Scott replaces John Cusack (who very wisely did not affiliate himself with this film), accompanied them back in time in the first one, as Cusack's son. 

Lou is shot in the groin at one of his over-the-top parties, and it is revealed that he has actually hidden the hot tub from his pals. But now they plan to go back in time before Lou was shot to save him.  Unfortunately, they end up in the future instead of the past.  Supposedly, The Hot Tub doesn't take you where you want to go.  It takes you where you NEED to go, and though I couldn't really figure it out, they needed to go into the future.

In the future - 2025 - Neil Patrick Harris is President.  And it gets worse.
 
Now bear with me.  The boys are here in the future to kill Lou's killer who came from the future to kill him in the present.  If you understand that you will enjoy this movie far more than I did.

There is one laugh: a smart car that wants to kill you and an ensuing fight between Lou and the smart car but basically it's penis jokes and offensive homophobic humor.

If they went into the future, why didn't Lou die?  If they couldn't control where they went when they ended up in the future, how could they get back to the present?  Oh, geez, why do I even try to figure this out?  I should instead try to figure out why I watched this thing in the first place!

Yes, I have to ask myself why. Why do I keep doing it?  Watching these comedies that are just terrible.  In my eternal quest to find a comedy that is actually funny, I have to kiss a lot of frogs or should I say, watch a lot of clunkers. But I remembered the first one as being funny, so I thought this one would be too.

That's the problem with sequels.

Beware of sequels, unless it's a "Star Wars" film (though all of those weren't stellar), "The Godfather," or "Jurassic World."  I am actually starting to get phobic about it because of the spate of sequels we have been subjected to, none of which measured up to the first (Pitch Perfect 2, both "Hangover" sequels,  and "Anchorman 2.")  And what is worse, many of them didn't deserve a sequel to begin with.  Think "Dumb and Dumber." If anything could be dumber than "Dumb and Dumber," it's "Dumb and Dumber To." If you liked the first one they will crank out as many as you can stomach, each one more horrible than the next until you can't stand it any more.  I am already worried about "Magic Mike XXL" and the next "Hunger Games."
 
Rosy the Reviewer says... if you like penis jokes, you might like this, but it's the kind of base humor that appeals to 15-year-old boys (and Hubby).  Don't wait until the future.  Avoid this DVD NOW!




***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***




258 to go!

 

 
 
Earth (1930)

 

It's the Ukraine in 1930. The peasants want collectivization but the landowners do not.
 
The film begins with close-ups of fruits and flowers, then long close-ups of pensive peasants. Our hero Vasyl, a proponent of collectivization, arrives with a tractor.  All of the other farmers urinate into an overheated radiator to show their solidarity in what has become a famous scene.  Vasyl is killed by an opponenet of collectivization but in death he becomes a symbol of the new way of life.
 
Why it's a Must See:  "Aleksandr Dovshenko's Earth is arguably the single greatest achievement of the ever-more-impressive Soviet silent cinema...Dovshenko's ode to the beginning of collectivization in the Ukraine is a riot of delirious imagery of swaying wheat fields, ripening fruits, and stampeding horses."
---1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

I have to be honest.  The silent films are the tough ones to appreciate. It's bad enough that we have to read subtitles, but the histrionic acting used to supplant the fact that no one talking is difficult to watch by today's standards.  It's probably because we are so over stimulated these days.  But if we can try to put ourselves back almost 100 years, I think we can appreciate the films that were produced then.

This was a bit like doing homework.  As a film enthusiast, this is one I had to be educated about, because I did not find it particularly enjoyable.  But I also didn't like math but knew I needed to know about it.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Unless you are really into film history and like Soviet silent films, you can probably skip this one.




***Book of the Week***





Always Pack a Party Dress: And Other Lessons Learned from a (Half) Life in Fashion by Amanda Brooks (2015) 
 

Brooks is the author of "I Love Your Style: How To Define and Refine Your Personal Style (2009)" and has worked as fashion director for Barneys - New York.  Here she shares her life and career along with fashion tips and other advice.
 
I was drawn to this book because I love fashion:  I like reading about it and I like wearing it.  However, when I am reading about buying basics for my wardrobe and a Rolex comes up, I am wondering what the hell I am doing with this book.  Brooks also says the book is aimed at 20-somethings with the goal of helping them feel fabulous.  If it takes a Rolex to feel fabulous, I pity those 20-somethings reading this book.  I don't know any who can afford a Rolex.

Brooks got into the fashion business early by becoming a photo assistant to  Patrick Demarchelier and from there her opportunities skyrocketed.  Reading books like this remind me that coming from money (she went to Deerfield - and you don't go to Deerfield if you don't come from money - and Brown, summered in Palm Beach and dated Diane von Furstenberg's son) helps you in life and being pretty doesn't hurt either when it comes to getting glamorous jobs and hanging out with the beautiful people (Mick Jagger had the hots for her and she name-drops like there is no tomorrow).

Brooks shares her "style influences (her mother - she's the one with the Rolex) - Sofia Coppola, Tracee Ellis Ross, David Hicks and Celine, to name a few.  When your style influences are movie or musical royalty, British nobility or a person whose name embodies a very high end brand, you know you are reading the work of someone who moves in circles you can't hope to enter.

She shares her ten best pieces of clothing which include a Balmain pea coat, a Chanel faux-crocodile jacket, and a Philip Lim evening cape and her five best accessories are Manolo Blahnik pumps, a Chanel bag, Celine sunglasses, Proenza Schouler colorblocked bag and Repetto flats, you know she is just  showing off and writing this book for her friends.  I don't even know who or what Proenza Schauler and Repetto are.

She tries to mitigate that with a chapter on how to pack (don't forget that party dress because you never know when one of the jet set will expect you at their party), how to learn from your mistakes, how to handle rejection, consulting tips (not sure how that slipped in there - not sure how many of those 20-somethings she is targeting are consultants) and making jam on her farm (read estate) in the Cotswolds, the fact remains that she thinks we can turn things we like to do on the weekends into a career, she gets to go to the Met Ball (not just once but many times) and she married a rich guy.  If you 20-somethings out there can relate to that, fine.  If anyone out there can relate to this, fine. I'm just trying to fit INTO a party dress!

Rosy the Reviewer says...there are some fun fashion tips here but unless you can relate to having lunch with Isabella Blow, and getting free Louboutin's from Louboutin himself, this is an exercise in futility and will just depress you.




That's it for this week!

Thanks for Reading!


 
See you Tuesday for

"Why Have a Wife?"

 

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