Slumdog Millionaire (****)

I cannot believe that in the last weekend of 2008 I actually watched a movie that I can add to my must see list. The Dark Knight was an impressive movie, but the raspy voice of Batman made it lose its fourth star. I was ready to start building the post about how much this year sucked when it came to movies, when my wife went and found this gem of a movie.

Mixing a fictional story with the crude reality affecting the world right now would be impossible to execute, but this film did it. The most amazing thing is that it did it while being entertaining, beautifully shot and impeccably casted.

I loved the use of color on the movie Hero that made the frames almost look like paitings, I also was taken back by how real City of God portrayed poverty and social inequality. I never imagined that a director could create a film where every scene could be made into a poster and hung in a gallery as a photography exhibit and also paint such a clear picture of India.

I know India is a big country and trying to say that a movie can give you an idea of what goes on over there is pretentious. The globalization theme has made me interested in India beyond liking its food and watching National Geographic documentaries. Almost every single aspect of how much India is changing is touched on in the movie. The social commentary is subtle and intelligent. From everything I have written it would seem like this is a heavy movie, but that is the best part of it, the movie is not.

Even though the movie takes on themes like poverty, globalization, and entertainment, in its core this is a coming of age story. Growing up we learn things that we use later on in life. This movie cleverly mixes that idea into how moments in your life can be used to win a game show. Not just any game show, but the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

I hope all the scattered thoughts that I have posted here spark your curiosity, because it’s hard to talk about the movie without giving too much away.

Twilight (**)

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Before anyone wants to take my man card away I want to say that, one I am back to about 100% so I can probably hurt ya, and two, next Monday we are going to go drink beer and see football. Yesterday I got tickets for the midnight showing of twilight for Bea and I go see it. While I was being nursed back to health Bea gave me the first book in the series to read and I was hooked.

Simple writing, compelling story, almost comic book like action got me hooked. I ended up reading all of the books in probably a weeks time. The characters all have some flaw that even when they are immortals make them very human.

But I guess everyone wants to hear about the movie… and I am going to have to be a harsh critic. As a standalone movie, it fails. To fully appreciate the plot and understand the characters behavior you have to read the book first.

A movie goer will be dissapointed by a movie that will feel very slow in some parts and then too fast in others without any transition.

That said, the movie was cast flawlesly. The actors do an excellent job at delivering lines that everyone that has read the book was waiting to hear. There was attention to detail and many of the locations looked very close to what I had imagined them. However it did not have the wow effect that the Harry Potter universe did when the first movie came out.

Bella, played by Kristen Stewar was amazing. She played a very complex character who has the least amount of good lines since most of the book happens through her narration. She comes off likeable without being cheesy, a real person rather than the cartoon most trouble teenagers seem to look like in todays movies. She is a great actress because even though you have seen her in plenty of movies, each character stands on its own. She was in Zathura, Jumper and Panic Room.

Edward played by Robert Pattison who you probably first saw in Harry Potter playing Cedric Diggory plays the perfect vampire from the books lore. He has the best dialogue which he used to stop the hearts of every girl in that theater. I was amazed that there was actually no screaming during the movie, kuddos to all the tweens.

Taylor Lautner played a good Jacob, but his role does not really develop until later on the books. I hope this kid goes through a huge growth spur and can play the rest of the movies which I am pretty sure they are going to make.

The special effects in the movie worked quite well. Visually it did its job. The biggest misstep was the music. Even though the score was not bad, there were plenty of opportunities missed to use excellent songs. I think it would have made the slow not drag so much.

I give the movie two stars because the source material is some of the best I have ever read. Once you read the book, see the movie, it will be very entertaining. If you have not read the book, then be ready to feel like you are missing tons of stuff when you watch it.

Baby Mama (*)

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From the previous I had high hopes for this comedy. I thought that they were funny, but not too SNL like. I was disappointing when I started watching it and saw more movie cliches than actual comedy. I would bother with trying to save the spoilers if I actually thought this movie was somewhat enjoyable, but trust me, you will want to just turn it off. If it was not because both Bea and I had long weeks and were kind of trying to just kick back and relax, we would have probably turned it off and went to do something else.

The problem with the movie is not that it is too predictable, or that it feels like a bunch of SNL skits tied together. The problem is that the characters are never people you could connect with. The moment you were trying to feel for one of them, the punchline to some joke would make them feel too cartoonish to actually be real people.

I am not a Steve Martin fan, I don’t quite dislike him, but I have never found him extremely funny; however his little role in this movie was perfect. He was cartoonish enough that you never took him seriously so he ended up being the only character that really worked.

Do not rent or buy this DVD, please wait for it to come out on cable and maybe then give it a try… but trust me, after a half an hour you will want to turn the channel.

Stand Up Comedian?

I think I am funny… yes, you heard it first, I am delusional. However, people do laugh at what I say, even though it is still up for discussion whether it is with me or at me, people do laugh. Recently I have been picking up the habit of listening to stand up comedy a day. It is something I enjoyed since I was a kid listening to the people that would come to the radio morning shows and Colombian stand up comedians.

I have started to listing to a variety and I find that some of them are not that funny, and even though they are not bombing on their shows, they are not getting that much of a reactions. If those dudes can make it, maybe I can too.

My wife has a pretty good sense of humor, and enjoys mine. It started as an inside jokes that some of our every day life occurrences were going to become part of my stand up. The more I said it as a comeback, them more it started to sound like a possibility. I mentioned it to a couple of friends and they said, do it… go to a local place and give it a try. One even said he will look for me and hold me to do it one of these days.

Without even knowing it, I have been working on material in my head for some time now. And unlike most comedians, I am not afraid of having someone else steal it, or do a version of it. I think that if you get bigger laughs from someone else’s jokes its cool… you do have to make it your own though. So with that thought in mind I present you my first bit.

Do you guys like reality TV?
I used to like it, but now I have realized that reality TV really does not exist. With most shows actually being scripted… I know hard to believe that they actually manipulate people into doing or saying things for money. I actually want to create a Reality TV channel… I know what you are thinking, there already is a Reality TV channel, but the one on right now is not my Reality TV channel.

I will have a show that is a group of friends trying to make it through their 20s, and don’t tell me there is already a show called friends or its most recent clone, how I met your mother, I know, I have seen them and they are not reality. Neither of the shows have a token minority friend, sure they all date minorities to show they are cool, but none of them actually have a friend of a different color… and while we are on the subject, when the being Jewish become a color? I hardly think that not eating a tasty animal like pork puts you on the same level with us “Chicharron” eaters, most Jewish people can keep their last name a secret and still pass for “white.”

Getting back to my real friends show, besides having real multiculturalism in my show, there will be real arguments. Friends will lose friends over money not being paid. Friends will help each other move and destroy and build backyard structures. Friends will forget their wallets when time to pay for dinner will come. When friend date each other the whole group has to break apart and take sides, and the baby mama drama will be real.

My reality TV channel will also have real commercials. None of these commercials that show beaches, flower fields and puppies, I am talking about real life. This is how I would advertise products, come with me.

A kid is trowing a huge tantrum and resists to go to bed, at first you would think I have already seen this in another channel, they are just advertising their Super Nanny show, but just wait. The kid is now running around crying and refusing to go to bed… then suddenly the kid stumbles and passes out… Voice over comes on, Super Drowsy Children Benadryl, because you also deserve a good night of sleep.

Real advertisement, for real life…

So what do you guys think? funny? I have a couple of more things for the bit and it is a work in progress, but give me some feedback.

Jumper (**)

Jumper
I am still trying to decide if I should recommend going to the theater for this one or just making it a rental. I only open with that statement because from this review you might get the sense that I hated the movie, but even though it has many flaws it is still somewhat entertaining action movie.

I am sure that the book is more complete, but the movie script seemed like someone had rolled the dice of a movie plot game. Think of the movie guy’s voice and use his voice to read the following. Two sides fight a battle through history, a neglected child who is bullied as a kid turn out to have powers, from growing up in a small town to a big city, a new hero is born.

I was hoping that Heyden Christensen was going to redeem himself for making Darth Vader uncool, but I think he is not as good of an actor as I had hoped. I first saw him in life as a house, and he showed some promise there. It could just be that the script was not that good, but I have not read the book and might be just giving the material too much credit.

The problem is that the main character is not a hero, the characters are very one dimensional, the plot is at best confusing. Samuel Jackson used to be one of my favorite actors because I thought you could deliver a monologue like no other, but since the Star War retooling he has been giving crappy lines. In this movie he says the same line at least tree times, “Only God Should have the power.” I am almost sure that this is significant in the book, as probably the sacrificial knife to kill jumpers is, but you never get the information on the movie.

What did work was the action. The special effects are done very well and never really distracting. Besides a car scene there are no moments where you go, that’s BS. The fight scenes leave you wanting more, and overall the movie smells of sequel. I think that if you can find a cheap theater to go watch it at, it is not a bad movie. As long as you expect just action and no real plot, y ou will have a good time.

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