Chic-Flick Trailers

Friday, January 30, 2009

THE TEEN CULT FAVOURITE: Look beyond the mesmerizing glare to the message of Catherine Hardwicke's TWILIGHT!

We've all been there. You read the book or played the video game and now even if the movie sucks serious [insert rude comment here], you will still pledge alliance to it. The most recent being Twilight, following such popular trends as Harry Potter and High School Musical. I read the books, grudgingly, after being shut out of most conversations with my friends because I didn't have an opinion on Edward Cullen. But do I ever have an opinion now!

I had high hopes for this movie because the trailer was really interesting and because I didn't really like the book, I thought the movie might give it a chance. The really sad part is that it didn't. The concentration seemed to be on the atmosphere of the film instead of the characters and plot line. The acting was good at some moments and really, really bad at others, which made me question the editing and choices of the director. The plot doesn't really begin until about an hour into the film and the secondary character seem unnecessary in the storyline. The Cullen family seemed to be in the movie because they are in the book and you can't cut them out, though there nothing significant about their characters that impacts the story.

I felt like it was really difficult to understand Bella's character, not only because of her obsession with Edward, but because of her dismissal of her father who is nothing but nice to her, if a little distant. Kristen Stewart's performance is typical of a misunderstood teenage girl gone wrong. She is so entranced by the Cullens that she brushes off the quirky, interesting characters at her high school who seem to genuinely want to get to know her. She is a teenage snob obsessed with the grass on the other side, which does not give a good name to the teen romance or teen movies in general. The teenage stereotype is one too-cool-for-school or good-natured fun whether it be with friends or family, which makes it so easy for critics to smash them to pieces. Teens are depicted as one-dimensional characters who deal with problems without thought or care, which personally, I find insulting. If more movies were made about the different people trapped in a teenage body dealing with teenage circumstances, than it may come to be more respected. Success has come in movies like Juno and even Superbad, and performances by people like Ellen Page and Michael Cera.

This movie did fabulously well at the box office securing the sequel to come out next year. But it was nice to know that some people were noticing aspects beyond Edward Cullen's otherworldly appeal to the disturbing portrayals of l
ove that are being put into the minds of young girls today. A great summary of my basic problems with the series in general was written by blogger otahyoni in her review of the book :

I'm not going to go into the disturbing way Bella and Edward's obsessive relationship is portrayed as true love, or how borderline abusive it is, with Bella's complete lack of self outside Edward and Edward's controlling, emotionally unstable behavior.

Blogger avadriel has a similar attitude and some great insight into the problems of the series in her review. This is an attempt to save my readers from a rant about my somewhat feminist opinion of the love story, but I also think these are worth reading for a critical view into the scary phenomenon (scary for its popularity and the reasons behind it). But it was not just bloggers, another criticism I really respected was, again, by trustworthy Roger Ebert, who just can't seem to understand women. This review proves Ebert's wisdom and insight into human nature which is really interesting to read compared with his skill to recognize a film for what it is. But I will end in the way Ebert has taught me. Fans will love this movie just as they loved the book and rightly so. My only suggestion would be to investigate what they love so much about it and take a more critical stance as to why, because the results might give some surprising personal insight.

Favoiurite quote: "Well, since I'm already going to hell." - Edward Cullen
Chemistry level
: 4/5 I think the fact that he wants to kill her, even kills some of the chemistry even on a subconscious level. Otherwise, their attraction is, admittedly, interesting to watch.
Best performance
: Billy Burke's quiet, contemplative, and somewhat distanced father of Bella, Charlie Swan, is right on the ball. He is so likable that when Bella treats him badly, it makes it very hard to like or sympathize with her. I felt bad for him for having to deal with such an angsty, self-obsessed brat.
Most Awkward Moment: When Bella and Edward admit their feelings for each other. It's not all in the performance, even the blocking makes me cringe. Their pained faces are about an inch from each other as they admit these deep, dark emotions that is so unbelievable. I just don't believe the intensity of the feelings they have for each other, and they way it was visually presented on-screen didn't help.
Lack of Realism: I can't understand why Bella puts up with Edward's mood swings: "Your mood swings are starting to give me whiplash". Who is honestly attracted to, nay, obsessed with someone who plays mind games? Should she stay away or do you want to be friends? Please pick one. If the guy doesn't have enough confidence in himself to convince you to go out with him, his chances in real life of getting a date is slim.
Cullen Family or Fork's High Students: The high school kids were normal, seemed nice and knew how to have fun. The Cullen glared at her and brushed her off with cool disregard (no pun intended). So why, I ask, did the Cullen family hold such appeal? Maybe the same reason Edward did. I still wanted more of the kids who humped trees to get her attention and called her Arizona. The Cullens paled in comparison (pun intended).
Edward Cullen, Hot or Not?: I like Robert Pattinson. I think he's really interesting and he brought a lightheartedness to the character that wasn't in the book. I also respected that it wasn't an arrogant performance because the character is so beloved. But how is one to create a facial expression of wanting to suck human blood exactly? Sadly, it turned out pretty comical.

Friday, January 23, 2009

THE SISTERHOOD FLICK: Gillian Armstrong's 1994 LITTLE WOMEN! Ah, the good ol' days

Before Christian Bale was Batman, before Winona Ryder was a thief and before anyone knew who Claire Danes was, there was Little Women. I can't imagine another audience for this movie other than the classic chic-flickers. This is an old-fashioned take on a popular sub-genre of chic-flicks about women's relationships with other women and how it affects their lives. Other sisterhood movies are The Joy Luck Club, How to Make an American Quilt, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series and The Jane Austen Book Club. A movie that people and critics usually remember from this sub-genre is The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. This is a movie that gives chic-flicks a bad name, not so much because of the movie itself, but because people(usually men-people) love to hate it and make fun of women's movies just because of it. But don't be afraid, just because women stick together and have healthy relationships with each other does not mean the fall of mankind is upon us.

Little Women also branches out of this sub-genre and is usually given some extra credit because it's based on Louise May Alcott's acclaimed novel. It is definitely one of my favourite movies of all time and something I would recommend to any movie lover. This is when I first fell in love with Christian Bale as the slightly naive but priveledged Laurie, friend to the March sisters. It was also Winona Ryder's second Oscar nod for leading actress for her portrayal of the hopelessly independent and wise-beyond-her-time, Jo March. Claire Danes appears in one of her first movie appearences, as the sensitive and tragic sister, Beth, while Kirsten Dunst, at the age of 12, plays the mischievious and fiery Amy.
A great treat is Susan Sarandon as Marmy, one of the best onscreen moms I've ever seen. Sarandon is as good in this as she is in everything else. And if you've been watching Grey's Anatomy this season, you might recognize Mr. Brooke (Eric Stoltz) as the serial killer on death row and Older Amy (Samantha Mathis), as the mother of a child with liver failure.

Ebert gets it right this time in his review, saying it "grew on me" and letting his audience know that:

Little Women may be marketed for children and teenagers, but my hunch is it will be best appreciated by their parents. It's a film about how all of life seems to stretch ahead of us when we're young, and how, through a series of choices, we narrow our destiny.

What I love about the plot now is funnily enough what I hated when I first saw it. For those who aren't familiar with the book, you believe that Bale's character is set up as a love interest for Ryder's Jo, but not so fast. What I love about it so much now is that her character isn't compromised for a typical love plot. For the girl who dreams of going to Europe, performing theatre onstage and writing melodramas to suddenly sacrifice it all for the suitable marriage we, the audience, know she has no taste for, would just be a crime against fiction. It's also really nice to see a genuinely platonic female/male relationship onscreen.

Unlike the critiques of some sisterhood films, it's not even close to an obnoxious girl-power movie. It develops its male characters with as much deep thought and devotion as it treats its female ones. They are good-natured, trustworthy, real gentlemen and thats not only due to the period. Some say men were made different back then but again I say nay! The same can be said about women and how they demanded to be treated differently. The sisters' bond is not contrived in the dialogue or the chemistry between the actresses. It does everything a good, homemade family drama should; makes you laugh a little, cry a lot, and warms our cold, battered, post-modern hearts.

Favourite Quotes: "Feminine weaknesses and fainting spells are the direct result of our confining young girls to the house, bent over their needlework, and restrictive corsets." - Marmee, "Over the mysteries of female life there is drawn a veil best left undisturbed. " - Mr.Brooke
, "I find it poor logic to say that women should vote because they are good. Men do not vote because they are good; they vote because they are male, and women should vote, not because we are angels and men are animals, but because we are human beings and citizens of this country." - Jo.
Chemistry level: 5/5 for all. Well done all.
Best Love Story: Anyone of Laurie's, I think. Of course I may be biased.
Best Tearjerker Moment: Poor Beth's moments of compassion and simple sadness and confusion over the changes happening in her family: "Why does everyone want to go away? I love being home. But I don't like being left behind."
Best Performance: It's definitely a hard choice because the cast is stellar, so I would have to choose the ensemble. I think what's really special about it is not so much the individual performances but them all collectively.
Best Surprise: Watch out for Gabriel Byrne as the german professor who might just make Jo think marriage and children aen't such a bad idea and a sweet, little resolution for Laurie's broken heart.
Mean Girl Moment: For all its good-natured, sisterly behaviour it does have a few aspects of bitchy realism in Dunst's Younger Amy and the wealthy Belle Gardiner (Corrie Clark).
Girly Stuff: Just for us girls, they throw in a little opera, a ball or two, and period dresses to absolutely die for.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

THE EPIC: Baz Lurhman's AUSTRALIA! Suspend your disbelief for me a little, wontcha?

Now you're probably going to say the same thing my mom did, "is that a chic-flick?". YES! Yes, it is. If only for the fact that it was marketed like a man-candy movie in the trailers, spots and interviews starring a wet, half-naked Hugh Jackman. If he wasn't so hot and the scene wasn't so much fun, I might actually feel bad for the way he was objectified as Australian-cowboy man-candy.
But alas, I am human.

Unfortunately, most of the movie's buzz was about Jackman being named People's Sexiest Man Alive for 2008. Not that I blame them, of course, he is one of the best parts of the movie but brace yourself ladies, there's even more. This was my favourite movie of the Winter holidays. I had extremely high expectations and this movie delivered, unlike quite a few others that looked promising. Christmas is usually my favourite movie time because it's when all the production companies release their best stuff for the Oscar season. But sadly, a lot of critics do not agree with me and my intense love of AUSTRALIA.

This is my favourite kind of movie...the epic! And I believe in my heart of hearts that most epics are chic-flicks. Take movies like
Titanic, Gone With the Wind, Out of Africa, Pearl Harbour and The English Patient. They market them as movies for all ages, genders and tastes but what you really remember about them are their heartbreaking love stories. Ebert calls the genre "sweeping romantic melodrama" in his review, which slightly disappointed me but is worth reading. He couldn't suspend his disbelief in the more fantastical elements of the story involving the aboriginees, Nullah (Brandon Walters), whose song has a strong power, taught to him by his grandfather, King George (David Gulpilil). Yahoo! Movies averages the critics and user reviews, and of course, the user reviews are a whole grade higher than the critics'. The worst review complains of it's lack of content over extreme spectacle, to which I say...what exactly do you think you're watching ? The movie is called AUSTRALIA, involves stampedes, child-beating villains, kisses in the rain and Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow"?? And I thought my expectations were high. Most of the other criticism centered around the extreme ambition that doesn't deliver, but I say NAY! Yes, it's ambitious and extends over the 2 1/2 hour mark, but it's over 2 1/2 hours of action, romance, and an absolutely thrilling landscape. Plus, they all have Australian accents, how could it possibly go wrong?

The story is not actually about Australia generally, but about the different kinds of people who inhabit it, surrounded by its overwhelmingly vast landscape and a significant event around the time of Pearl Harbour. It explores the lives of the aboriginees, through the story of Nullah, a half-white and half-aboriginal boy who must find his identity in a world where he doesn't seem to belong. The other half of the story centers upon the differences between the white Australian settlers, in the Drover's (Hugh Jackman) situation, and the European newcomers, in the journey of English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman). It's all a big sweeping allegory about tolerance and human connection beyond race, age and culture, but it doesn't beat you over the head with it. I like to think the only reason I noticed is because I'm an English major.

I'm not saying the movie is perfect or that it couldn't have been edited for a smoother, more effortless effect in the end product but the fact that movies like this are still being made
by someone is enough for me. An attempt at an old-fashioned night at the cinema is a lot more exciting and praise-worthy than more mind-numbing action flicks with bad actors just trying to get their leading ladies naked, pointless teen-horror films just trying to get any girl naked and please stop me before I offend someone. This movie has a really big heart that swells, makes you swoon, and even breaks a few times. The emotion runs really deep and hits you where it hurts (watch out for a few heart-stopping moments in the end), and that's not so common anymore in film. My point is take it for what it is and appreciate something a little different for once. I say Bravo Baz! You give me hope for movies to come. And if you believe any of the critics, it seems they can only get better!

Favourite quotes: "I'm as capable as any man!"- Lady Ashley, "I sing you to me." - Nullah, "I'm in charge." - The Drover
Favourite man-candy moment: Poor objectified Hugh Jackman. I'm sure you've seen it. But also look out for another fan fave, Clark Gable done Australian.
Favourite independent woman moment: Lady Sarah Ashley beats a man with a horsewhip when he goes after a child. I think I literally said "Booyah!" in my seat.
Favourite Landscape shot: A 180 degree pan of a stampede of horses right outside Lady Ashley's ranch, Faraway Downs.
Best performance: Newcomer Brandon Walters is absolute magic and ease, but who I really loved was David Wenham's villain, Neil Fletcher. His last scene is something to keep an eye out for!
Chemistry level: 3.5/5 Sometimes I just don't believe Kidman. She has the most bizarre kissing technique that makes her look like she's trying to run from her leading man. I get that you're married with a baby, but come on now! Thankfully, Jackman makes up for it in his chemistry with everyone woman in the audience.
Hotness level: Well..uhmm...I guess....No, there are no words or numbers that can describe Hugh Jackman's absolute perfection of a man when he is the Drover. He may be the hottest guy in any movie, ever! If that's not incentive to see it, than nothing will be.
Annoying setbacks: Kidman's hair. She has incredible red hair that is dyed the worst blonde that just makes her look old. Don't get me wrong, she's gorgeous, but bring back the Moulin Rouge hair!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Are you a Movie-aholic? Acceptance is the first step.

Hello, my name is Vanessa and I'm a movie-aholic. Now let's go around and have everyone introduce themselves. You think it's funny now but sometimes I seriously wonder if I have a problem. Most people go to the movies to hang out with friends or use it for an opportunity to go out with someone new, but when the question, "what do you wanna see", comes up, I'm the first one with a suggestion and I may even bail on you if you choose something that doesn't fit my taste. I like to go to the movies to actually see them! I take pity on the poor soul who might try to motivate me otherwise. And of course, I doubt there is any movie out there that I don't have an opinion about, and yes, I tend to share them whether encouraged or not.

I own over 150 DVDs in my premature collection and Blockbuster is like a second home to me. I watch trailers on-line at Apple Trailers and Fandango and my search engine is IMDB. In my spare time I use YouTube to search interviews and clips and I've even been known to tape Letterman or Ellen if they are promoting a good new movie. As a teenager I had a few embarrassing movie obsessions, the craziest by far being Titanic (1997). I spent 50 bucks on a photo-book of the screenplay and at around 13, that's a little ridiculous. So when I was required to start a blog for a class I immediately knew I could write a lot about movies.

As you can see, this is specifically a chick-flick blog and yes I dropped the k in chick and not just because I think I'm cooler than I actually am. I want to re-establish the chic-flick as a film genre instead of a movie goer's guilty pleasure by deconstructing and commenting through review posts in the future. I'll essentially highlight the substance, discuss overlooked issues and problems that create nasty stereotypes separating
genres like chic-flicks from good film and award-worthy drama in the minds of movie goers. Not that there aren't problems with many a girly flick which I intend to discuss, I'm sure, at length.

Through this experience I will hopefully gain some insight and post interesting trends and not so interesting ones, right and wrong moves, common misconceptions and mishaps that I come across. I'll eventually compile lists of haters (bloggers or critics who judge them too harshly) and people I recommend reading, my favourite chic-flicks, and my not-so favourite ones, common themes, different types in the genre and tips on how to spot a bad one in the first 15 minutes.

I was disappointed to notice that I was a little embarrassed to admit my fascination with these movies and start writing about them, so I hope to justify my taste (because I still believe I have a damn good one) and even branch out to skeptics and serious film geeks who believe that all they have to offer is eye candy and fluff. Expect reviews of new, old, sad, funny, animated, live-action and any other kinds of movies reviews basically based on my strength of opinion about them. You will definitely see my reviews referencing other reviewers, bloggers and critics, like my trustworthy friend Roger Ebert (typical, I know), and cites like Rotten Tomatoes and Yahoo!Movies.

I like strong female characters, witty dialogue and a story that's fresh and keeps your interest, and sadly that's not so easy to find. My basic criteria for any good movie is substance, integrity, chemistry, intelligence and hope. I'm sure I'll be picky, harsh or too lenient, but I always have a reason and I'll always make you aware of it. I learned from the best (my man, Roger), that a good movie critic always thinks about the films intended audience and my guarantee is to make recommendations based on the audience I believe will enjoy the film. But, in the end, I'm the Chic-Flicker and these are my fancies. Welcome to Cinema Coquette, where everyone's entitled to MY opinion...No! I mean, sorry, where all personal tastes and comments are valid and appreciated.