Fantastic Mr. Fox

Went out Saturday morning to see Fantastic Mr. Fox. Going off a friends recommendation, a friend that loved The Life Aquatic and I hated, I was not sure what I was in for. Sitting through the first two previews of a sequel for Alvin and the Chipmunks and a new film that has the Rock dressed in baby blue tights playing a tooth fairy, I did not have a good feeling at all.

Ok, so I can be wrong and what a nice surprise this film was. Directed by Wes Anderson, known for his fun and quirky style (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore), if this is your cup of tea, you will love this movie. And even if it isn’t, it is not so over the top that it can’t be enjoyed by all.

The film is about Mr. Fox, a newspaper reporter, that is bored with life and decides to go back to his old habits of stealing chickens from the local farmers to help pay for his new above ground home. Involving many others in his schemes, he eventually gets his visiting nephew in trouble. Of course Mrs. Fox disapproves and wants him to stop before he gets everyone in over their head, and that is exactly what happens.

Normally I don’t like really big names playing animated parts, just because you see a lot more in a character than you should, but George Clooney (Oceans 11, Syriana, Michael Clayton) is great as the quick talking know-it-all center of attention Mr. Fox. Meryl Streep (Bridges of Madison County, Doubt) is the voice of Mrs. Fox. Wes Anderson regulars Bill Murray (Lost in Translation, Caddyshack), Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited) and Owen Wilson (Shanghai Noon, The Royal Tanenbaums) play significant characters as well.

To me, this film was a very refreshing animated film and a change from the normal picture perfect Pixar releases. Not that there is a thing wrong with Pixar, just nice to see someone venture out and do a totally different style of animation. The roughness of the animation really adds to the overall feel and tone of the movie. If you are one normally scared off by Wes Anderson films, go ahead and give this one a chance. This film is a lot of fun with great dialog and story. Worth catching for sure!

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Gran Torino

Gran Torino

Walt Kowalski’s wife has just passed away, and he is the lone white person in a neighborhood of Asian people. Walt, having served in the Korean war, you can imagine some of the racist feelings he has. While defending his property, he is viewed by the families in the neighborhood as saving Thao’s life. Living next door to Thao, Walt has the services of Thao for a week as Thao works for him as a favor. Friendships and relationships grow from there, and Walt in the end has some interesting choices to make. (Not giving too much away here…..you need to see it yourself!)

Walt Kowaslki is played marvelously by Clint Eastwood (Bridges of Madison County, Unforgiven). In fact I was rather disappointed that he did not receive a Best Actor nomination for this his role. Eastwood playing a hard nosed war veteran, and lets the racial cliches and slang fly like it is everyday conversation, believe it or not, adds a touch of humor in the role. You begin to realize he actually has a good heart , and the way he talks…is well…just that, the way he talks. The few that get to know him, don’t seem to mind the talk and it really works for the film when they role with it, especially with Su next Door. “Get me another beer, Dragon Lady! This one’s running on empty.”

I just can’t say enough good things about this film. In fact, in my eyes, this was the Best Picture of 2008, and a shame it didn’t even get nominated. It is a wonderful story and a great piece of film making. Seeing the trailer for the first time, I was unsure of the film, since it looked like an aged Dirty Harry movie. Don’t let that stop you from seeing it. This film will make you laugh, cry, and think. It offers so much on every front. This one is a must see for sure!!!

Proof of Life

085391905226fDespite negative reviews when this film opened, I actually enjoyed watching this film. This film is about a husband and wife just moving to South America. While building a dam, Alice’s husband, Peter, played by David Morse (Contact, 16 Blocks)  is kidnapped by a local militant group. Enter the negotiator, Terry Thorne. The rest of the film in a nut shell is the negotiating with the group for Peter’s release, with a few side plots and twists here and there.

Alice, played by Meg Ryan (You’ve Got Mail, City of Angels) and Terry Thorne, played by Russel Crowe (Best Actor Gladiator) are the two main characters and through the drama, supposedly develop feelings for one another. This was the only fault in the movie for me. I never did think there was much going on between them throughout the entire movie until they parted ways at the end. It made me feel like I missed out on a big romance, and I didn’t think there was much there as far as a relationship. They either should have made more of a romance and then it would have ended up like Bridges of Madison County with the wife left to choose who to be with in the end, or they could have left out the romance completely and would have been a good political thriller on it’s own.

In all, this was a better film than what the critics made it out to be. Even though the love story falls flat for me, there is plenty of action and drama to keep me more than interested. This isn’t one that everyone should see once in their lifetime, but for fans of movies, I would recommend it.