1. DROP DEAD GORGEOUS
A dark American comedy, directed by Michael Patrick Jann, Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) is a mockumentary, which follows the story of a young woman in the tiny, fictional town of Mount Rose, Minnesota. Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst) competes in the Sarah Rose Cosmetics Mount Rose American Teen Princess Pageant as a means of escaping the clutches of settling down in Mount Rose.
The film is set in 1995, in the small and conservative town of Mount Rose, Minnesota. As they prepare for one of the only “big-ticket” events around, Amber Atkins signs up for the pageant. She sees winning the pageant as a way to follow in the footsteps of her idols, her mother Annette Atkins (Ellen Barkin), and Diane Sawyer. While living in a trailer park near her mother’s best friend Loretta (Allison Janney), Amber works as a beautician in the local funeral home where she also practices her tap dancing talent. Amber’s humble life is quite the contrast to another contestant in the pageant, Rebecca Anne Leeman (Denise Richards), daughter of the richest man in town and Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley). Mrs. Leeman, both head of the pageant organizing committee and a former winner, is extremely critical and judgmental of anyone that is not in her immediate family. Rebecca’s winning the pageant is basically foreseen the moment the Leeman family is introduced in the film. As one of the pageant judges is an employee at the Leeman Furniture store, many speculate that the contest is fixed. Other contestants share small stories of their lives as they are introduced throughout the film. A few of the contestants seem like they only belong in a small town, while others show promise of a somewhat more ideal life.
As the pageant draws closer, many odd events begin to occur. Before things really get going, Tammy Curry (one of the contestants) is killed when her tractor explodes. As she is President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club, beating out Rebecca Leeman, it is speculated that Leeman might possibly have something to do with it. After Tammy’s funeral, Amber finds a picture of Tammy in her locker at school with the words “you’re next” on the back. A few days later, Rebecca’s love interest Brett Clemmens (who seems more interested in Amber), is found dead in a “hunting accident.” Amber fears for her life and decides to quit the pageant after her mother is injured during an explosion at their mobile home. Annette is found in a neighbor’s lawn after saving Amber’s tap shoes by shoving them into her underwear. When Amber finds her at the hospital, Annette’s hand suffers severe burns and her hand must be amputated upon which a can of beer melted. Amber does not want to see anyone else hurt for her sake and wants to quit the pageant, but Loretta talks her out of it. During the dress rehearsal, fellow contestant Jenelle Betz (Sarah Stewart) and Amber switch contestant numbers as Jenelle has a newborn baby to go visit. Although the accident was meant for Amber, a stage light falls and hits Jenelle on the head, knocking her unconscious, rendering her deaf.
Leading up to the pageant, many more events reveal to Amber that there is foul play going on around the town. Kirsten Dunst and Kirstie Alley do a phenomenal job of their portrayal of women in a small American town, right down to their accents. The film is also a debut of the Academy-Award-nominated actress Amy Adams, who received praise (along with Denise Richards) for her performance in the film. Drop Dead Gorgeous is a great concept and contains hilarious, quirky interactions between characters. The story is hysterically portrayed between Amber and the Leeman’s.
2. NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST
A romantic comedy film based on a novel of the same name written by Rachel Cohn, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008) directed by Peter Sollett, tells the story of two teenagers Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings). The two meet while out in New York City with a separate group of friends. Over the course of the night, their adventure gets a little out of hand as they search for Norah’s drunken friend and their favorite band’s secret show.
Nick O’Leary is a regular, straight electric bass player in an all-gay band called the “Jerk-Offs” from Hoboken, New Jersey and is heartbroken after his girlfriend, Tris (Alexis Dziena), breaks up with him. He is so heartbroken that he constantly talks about her and makes her “breakup” mix CD’s. Nick’s gay band mates, Thorn (Aaron Yoo) and Dev (Rafi Gavron), convince him to perform at a club the same night as their favorite band, Where’s Fluffy? Despite his hesitance, Nick agrees to play. Norah Silverberg (Kat Dennings) is the teenage daughter of a very wealthy and successful record producer who shares a very similar musical taste to Nick’s. Although she is a curvy, unique looking girl, she shares the same type of socially quirk as Nick, which is why their characters seem to click so well. Norah and Tris attend the same high school and dislike each other, but have a mutual friend named Caroline (Ari Graynor). The same night that Nick goes out, Caroline and Norah find themselves at the same club, Arlene’s Grocery, where Nick and his friends are playing. As Norah wants to show up Tris, she asks Nick to pretend that they are dating. Nick’s friends see this as an opportunity to set Nick and Norah up and offer to take a very drunk Caroline home in order to give the two a chance to spend time together.
While at a quick stop, a very bewildered Caroline wakes up in Thom’s van and quickly escapes. In an effort to find Caroline, Thom and Dev visit a club where Where’s Fluffy? Are supposed to be playing but find out it was merely a rumor. After finding out that he and Norah have sparked an interest in each other, Tris is eager to win Nick back. She decides to follow them. Nick and Norah find Caroline at a gay cabaret, celebrating Christmas as a Christmas tree. After rescuing Caroline, Norah decides to let Nick talk to Tris (who is waiting on the hood of his car) as she and Caroline leave. Tris attempts to seduce Nick by dancing for him seductively outside of his car, but is surprised when he leaves her near the river to find Norah.
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a film of adventure and spontaneity. The character development between Nick and Norah is nothing short of adorable as their characters immediately have a strong chemistry. The film received generally favorable reviews and critics described it as a “shy sweet romance that surveys the varieties of teenage experience with tolerant sympathy.” It is a fun watch, nothing too special, but definitely gives an audience feelings of nostalgia and brings one back to teenage, carefree years when staying awake all night long was merely another adventure.
3. THE CORE
An American disaster/science fiction film, The Core (2003) directed by Jon Amiel, tells the story of a team that must drill to the core of the Earth in order to restart its rotation, fortifying the Ozone layer, and saving the Earth. The Earth’s electromagnetic field has become instable and is quickly falling apart piece by piece. Dr. Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart), a leading geologist surveying the spectacle, discovers that the Earth’s molten core has stopped rotating, which will cause the Earth’s electromagnetic field to collapse. A team put together by Dr. Keyes and fellow scientists Serge Leveque (Tchéky Karyo) and Conrad Zimsky (Stanley Tucci) develop a plan with the United States government to save the Earth.
The film opens with what seems like a regular day for planet Earth. All of a sudden, things begin happening and a multitude of people fall dead on the ground for no reason. Dr. Josh Keyes and his comrades look into the matter, discovering that the Earth’s electromagnetic field is on the verge of collapse, putting the entire planet in jeopardy. In order to change the fate of their world, the three scientists develop a confidential plan with the United States government in which a team of specialized, very capable men and women will bore into the Earth’s core and plant an arrangement of nuclear charges in an attempt to restart the core and restore the field. The three design a giant, multi-compartment vessel named Virgil with the help of Ed “Braz” Brazzelton (Delroy Lindo). Braz has developed a laser capable of boring through some of the planet’s most indestructible materials as well as a material known as “unobtainium,” used to build the vessel’s hull. Keyes also recruits one of the best computer hackers in the business, Theodore Donald “Rat” Finch (DJ Qualls), in order to keep the potential disaster off the Internet and off the grid.
The vessel is ready and piloted by the space shuttle Endeavor’s Commander Robert Iverson (Bruce Greenwood) and Major Rebecca “Beck” Childs (Hilary Swank). After accidentally drilling into the wrong structure, the vessel drops closer to the bottom but gets stuck. Molten lava begins pouring in from the hole they made after dropping and they must drill through a giant stone-like structure in order to free and restart the ship. While drilling, a piece of crystal shard hits the top of Iverson’s helmet, piercing his helmet and killing him. With no time to mourn the death of a teammate, the ship must press on. The vessel clips the edge of a huge diamond, which opens the hull of the rear compartment. Leveque gives up his life in order to save the launch codes before the compartment is released and crushed under a massive amount of pressure.
The Core is a compelling movie with a great concept very much relatable to the 21st century life as the planet’s resources have seemed to deplete and there is less sustainability for human life. The film received critical reviews of the most negative degree, however it is a decent watch for any science fiction fanatic.
4. GET HIM TO THE GREEK
An American comedy film written, directed, and produced by Nicholas Stoller, Get Him To the Greek (2010), is a spin-off sequel of Stoller’s film Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008). Two actors from Stoller’s 2008 film, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) and Jonah Hill make another appearance in Stoller’s 2010 film and their performance leaves the audience falling out of their seats laughing.
Aldous Snow, a British rock star, releases an album with a single called “African Child,” which completely flops and becomes a critical failure. After being sober for seven years, Aldous relapses after an interview with his pop-star girlfriend Jackie Q (Rose Byrne) reveals that they have a “boring life.” Aldous impulsively breaks up with Jackie, loses custody of his son Naples and sabotages his career.
Simultaneously, in Los Angeles, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) works as a talent scout for Pinnacle Records. While living with his girlfriend, Daphne (Elisabeth Moss), Aaron struggles to find middle ground between trying to keep his job and spending time with his girlfriend who is a doctor and works mostly nights. As a result of poor record sales, Sergio Roma (Diddy) demands new ideas. Aaron suggests that Aldous Snow play at the Greek Theatre in L.A. on the anniversary of his legendary performance at the same venue. Sergio likes the idea and sends Aaron to London in order to escort Aldous to the theatre. Little does Aaron know, fetching Aldous will be anything but simple.
Upon arriving at Aldous’ apartment, Aaron discovers that the concert had been pre-determined two months ahead of time. He learns that the concert was not really his idea and feels discouraged and out of place, as Aldous did not expect an escort. After a while of convincing, Aldous and Aaron make their way to the airport, where Aldous makes many detours and misses many flights. They end up barhopping all around the town, which does not stress Aaron out any less, as he must keep rescheduling their flights.
Before stopping in Los Angeles, they arrive in New York City for Aldous’ appearance on Today, Aaron imbibes all of Aldous’ marijuana and alcohol in order to keep him sober for the performance. After realizing that he does not remember to his recent hit “African Child,” Aldous replaces it with his hit, “The Clap” and receives a large amount of praise from the audience. After the performance, Aaron and Aldous hit the sky for Los Angeles. While on the flight, Aaron learns that Aldous is miserable, lonely, and misses his son and has grown apart from his father Jonathan (Colm Meanery) for years. Aaron, feeling sympathetic for Aldous, suggests that they visit Jonathan after Aldous’ performance at the Greek. Jonathan lives in Las Vegas and after the show, the two go to visit him. All types of chaos and havoc is wreaked upon Aaron’s life as he shortly lives the fast-paced nightlife of a rock star alongside Aldous and his father.
Get Him To the Greek received extremely positive reviews, as some critics described is a film with a “suitably raunchy script [with a ] pair of winning performances from Jonah Hill and Russell Brand…it is one of the year’s funniest comedies.” In its opening weekend, the film debuted at number two, behind Shrek Forever After, grossing over $17 million. The film is raunchy, silly and hilarious as Jonah Hill and Russell Brand work quite well together to rip a roar from the audience.
An adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name based upon Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Boheme, Rent (2005), is an American musical drama film. The film tells the story of several people living in New York City and their struggles with sexuality, cross-dressing, paying their bills, and drugs. Taking place specifically in the East Village of the city from 1989 to 1990, the film features six of the original Broadway cast members in their roles.
The film opens on Christmas Eve, 1989, where aspiring filmmaker Mark Cohen (Anthony Rapp) and his roommate, Roger Davis (Adam Pascal) learn that their rent is due. Their landlord, Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III (Taye Diggs), reveals that although their rent was previously waived, they must pay up. Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin), their former roommate arrives at the same time and has just been mugged in an alleyway. Mark and Benny are told that they can have free rent if they convince Maureen Johnson (Idina Mensel), Mark’s ex-girlfriend, to stop her protest against Collins’ plans to tear down a homeless shelter and built a cyber studio.
Angel Dumott Schunard (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), a street drummer/drag queen, finds Collins in the alleyway and helps him. After finding out that they are both victims of AIDS.
Collins and Angel arrive with gifts to give to Mark and Roger. They explain that a local AIDS support group is meeting and invite them to join in. Roger does not wish to go and Mark goes to find Maureen and discourage her from going through with the protest. During his search, Mark runs into Maureen’s new girlfriend, Joanne Jefferson (Tracie Thoms), and surprisingly forms a strange bond with her over Maureen’s promiscuity.
Mimi Marquez, Roger’s neighbor and also an HIV-positive heroin addict, finishes her dancing job and returns home to flirt with Roger. Roger is not at all interested and throws her out of his apartment. The next day, Roger comes to the Life Support meeting in honor of his friends.
The film (and play) consist of a group of young adults who are all each other has and are brought even closer after they lose the life of one of the main characters. The story is a soap opera, sometimes playful and uses music as a tool used to move the story. During the time of the musical’s conception, AIDS was a newly discovered major horror in the nation, which caused many deaths without knowledge of what it was. The film was created in order to gain a slightly larger, more mainstream audience. Although it is a nice adaptation, nothing quite compares to the musical itself, which is better to watch in person.
Enjoy all our movies at www.filmbull.com