Halle Berry

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Fairly Recent DVD Release: Movie 43

Published September 5, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, Charlie Saxton, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Live Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, J.B. Smoove, Emma Stone, Kieran Culkin, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Jack McBryer, Aasif Mandvi, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Bobby Cannavale, Kristen Bell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Terrence Howard, Josh Duhamel, and Elizabeth Banks.

Rated: R. Comedy. Running Time: 1 hour & 34 minutes.

Ross and I rented Movie 43 on a whim.  We were en route to our home from cocktails & dinner.  Neither of us was expecting much at all.  I remember seeing the previews and thinking, “Wow, that’s some cast” (see above listing).  But then it fell off the radar.  And I figured, if no one is talking about it, could it really be worth watching?  The answer is: YES.  The movie makes up for any later transgression in the first skit.  Five minutes in, Ross and I were laughing so hard that neither of us could speak or breathe.  That being said, if you don’t like immature humor, skip this one and you should probably leave my blog for good.  We had no idea what to expect, but what unfolded on the screen left us bewildered, delighted and quite intrigued.  Once the movie got rolling, we realized it was a series of interconnected sketches featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.  I kept asking myself, “How did they get all these people!”  There were some promising moments of hilarity & ingenuity…but taken in its entirety – this movie was bad.

I had no idea what we were in for when we rented Movie 43, but with that cast, you had to expect something decent.  I don’t know if I agree with Maria that the movie was bad.  If a movie entertains, makes you laugh or cry or feel exhilarated, I think that’s enough.  I will say the premise, an ever increasingly insane Dennis Quaid (playing a version of himself?) pitching his movie idea to a generic movie executive, Kinnear, is silly.  The “movie” is just a series of skits.  There is no way anyone could think they could make a coherent, full standing movie.  However, many of the vignettes are clever and hilarious.  None more than the first one, a first date for Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet.  If you follow MRSRAG at all, you know that Maria and I rarely, if ever, give out spoilers, and we’re not going to do it here.  But this first skit has a shocking surprise, a side splittingly funny one that keeps on giving.  Beyond the great opener, a few of my favorites were, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts as parents who are homeschooling their teenaged son, complete with all of high school’s worst possible scenarios.  A girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) getting her  period for the first time.  And Terrence Howard as a basketball coach circa the 1960’s (think Pleasantville or Hoosiers) giving a pep talk to his all black team before their first game against an all white squad.  While maybe “bad” isn’t the right word to describe Movie 43, it is hard to believe the creators convinced all these “A” list actors to associate their names with it.  

It was entertaining, but at times, hard to watch.  I’m actually surprised that Ross enjoyed it more than me, since he has some difficulty with awkward humor.  I will say that Movie 43 is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  And the “A” list actors is what put some of the skits over the edge for me.  Watching these Academy Award nominees and winners act out these absurd storylines was not only amusing, but shocking.  It took me a full day to get over the movie.  I kept asking Ross, “Was that real?”, “How did they get everyone to sign on?”, “Did I drink a lot last night?”!  It is in one word: unbelievable.  There were several vignettes, most of which my partner has described, that were pure comic genius.  They must be viewed.  But if I really look at this film in its entirety, it missed the mark.  And that is truly unfortunate because it contains so much potential.  Bottom line, go rent this for a $1.27.  The belly laughs are well worth that price.

An extremely tough movie to review.  Ultimately I have to recommend that you see it.  If you’re in the mood for some raunchy, clever, original comedy, Movie 43 should get the job done.  It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and it won’t end up on your Top 20 list, but it’s not quite like anything you’ve ever seen before.  And, you will probably never see a larger collection of stars in one project.  There is one last scene I have to mention; a skit where a man is obviously going to propose marriage to his girlfriend.  “I have something I want to say.”  “Me too”, she replies.  “Ok, let’s say it together.  One. Two. Three….”  She beats him to the punch, and I almost fell off the couch!  You may want to keep some pillows handy for that one.

Maria’s Rating:  2.5 Gummy Bears out of 5. (Mostly for Jackman & Winslet)

Ross’ Rating:  3.25 Gummies.

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Recent DVD Release: Cloud Atlas

Published June 13, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Xun Zhou, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D’Arcy, Davis Gyasi, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant.

Rated: R. Adventure/Drama/Science Fiction. Running Time: 2 hours 52 minutes.

Let me begin by saying, I couldn’t wait to see this movie. We missed it in the theaters, and when it showed up in our Redbox yesterday, I was psyched. Maria wasn’t nearly as excited as I was, but she’s always a good sport, so it was dinner and Cloud Atlas. I knew we were in trouble very quickly. It’s nearly impossible to capsulize the plot, truly. Suffice it to say, Cloud Atlas makes Inception seem like a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. It jumps around from one time to another with reckless abandon. The actors all play numerous roles, in some they’re good, in some bad. If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you know that series has a dozen story lines that they address in any given episode. GoT is a one man Broadway play compared to Cloud Atlas. And if the breakneck speed of changing ages and landscapes isn’t enough, in one of the settings they’re speaking some kind of bastardized language that’s reminiscent of Jar Jar Binks’ blatherings in Star Wars. Eventually, the movie somewhat ties up all the plotlines, but it’s WAY too late. If you want the “true-true”, stay far away from this nearly endless epic tale, far away and with extreme prejudice.

Fifteen minutes in and I was already feeling overwhelmed, overworked and unimpressed. My brain was hurting from trying to keep track of who, what, when, where and why. I admit when I first peeped previews of this film I was intrigued and excited. For one, it was pitched as a ‘Wachowski’ film (the people who brought us The Matrix). It also seemed to explore certain spiritual themes that I am somewhat familiar with. I’m not a very religious type, but I do believe in something and I’ve found some past lives writing quite interesting. My personal favorite was a suggestion of my good friend Kate Doyle, “Many Lives, Many Masters” written by Dr. Brian L. Weiss (READ THIS!). It’s a fantastic read and raises some important questions about the meaning and mysteries of life. Cloud Atlas courageously explores these same concepts, but fails to make a lasting impression. It has glimpses of greatness, but then drags the viewer into an exhausting montage of times and places. Just enough to drain all of the heart and magic out of this film. What really annoyed me about this movie was that it had the potential to be wonderful, but eventually couldn’t get out of its own way. They missed the mark and apparently missed the day of class when the instructor went over the KISS principle. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

When it comes down to it, I’m a pretty fair Sci-Fi nerd. I love everything Star Trek, The Matrix Trilogy, X-Files, Fringe. To a lesser extent, Star Wars, Transformers, Inception. And it remains one of my favorite genres. Maria mentioned the Wachowski influence, and that was promising to me because The Matrix was fantastic. Cloud Atlas is extremely clever and deeply thought provoking, which is generally a perfect formula for me. However, it is also long and convoluted and despite everything that’s going on; boring. Hey, I’m not MENSA material, but I’m no schlub either. I don’t think it’s conceited of me to say that I’m smarter than the average bear, but Cloud Atlas had my head swimming and my brain just drowned. As I pointed out, near the end the writers did endeavor to make a little sense of the previous two and a half hours of chaos, but by then I just didn’t care. The movie was filled with some of my all-time favorites, Hanks, Weaving, Broadbent, Grant, and they did their jobs as well as they usually do. Unfortunately, the maelstrom that is Cloud Atlas just swallowed them whole. If indeed I’m not intelligent enough to enjoy Cloud Atlas, then I say “ignorance is bliss!”

Obviously, we both did not enjoy this film. However, there were some positive aspects. The visual effects were awesome and the overall theme was meaningful. I also had a special affinity for the character of Mr. Meeks, an elderly nursing home resident who only speaks the words, “I know, I know”…for the majority of the film, until he needs to save himself and his friends from a certainly bleak future. Sadly, these few things were lost in the Uber mindfuck that is Cloud Atlas. I can’t imagine you’d consider wasting several hours on this flick after reading this glowing review, but if you dare – perhaps some research into the plot will benefit you. After conducting a mild investigation to fill in the details for our piece, I read a two sentence synopsis that shed more light on the story. I usually like to have a grasp of what’s going on in the beginning, middle or end of a movie. Yet, even now I have questions. The most pertinent one being, “Why did we watch this?”

Ross’ Rating: 1.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 1.5 Gummies.