This is a bit of a departure from my normal Wednesday posting. I haven't been reading anything new, other than old New York Times Magazines, since I finished my last book. But I did watch quite a few movies over the weekend, so I'm going to try my hand at that.
On Saturday, in a post brunch daze, some friends and I rented Bachelorette (the wonders of video on demand). I had only heard great things about this movie and definitely excited to see it. It did not disappoint. Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Kaplan, Isla Fisher, and Rebel Wilson are best friends from high school ("The Bitch Faces") who reunite for the first of their weddings (Rebel Wilson's). Dunst plays the type-A, controlling maid of honor, while Kaplan and Fisher are the West coast party girls.
All of the leads were fantastic, but I particularly loved Fisher's character. The night before the wedding starts off with a low-key party in the bride's room, but escalates to a cocaine and champagne binge by the bridesmaids. Hilarity ensues.
The male characters were also great, including James Marsden and Adam Scott. And yes, this movie did include the long awaited Party Down reunion of Kaplan and Scott. Everything I've ever dreamed of.
Certainly a fun movie, although some of it got a bit heavy, and unnecessarily so in my opinion, but I would absolutely recommend this. Especially if you are in a wedding soon!
Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine are both getting awards buzz for this one and deservedly so. Based on a true story, Bernie, played by Jack Black, is an assistant funeral director and all around good guy in a small East Texas town who befriends hateful (and hated) old bag Marjorie after the death of her husband.
Although there are rumors about exactly what type of relationship Bernie and Marjorie have, they seem to make each other happy and be wonderful companions. That is, until Marjorie begins taking advantage of Bernie and becomes increasingly possessive of him. One day, she is particularly cruel, and Bernie snaps, killing her.
The most interesting part of the story comes after he is found to be her murderer, when the entire town rallies in support of Bernie, much to the District Attorney's (played in scenery-chewing fashion by Matthew McConaughey) dismay.
Black and MacClaine are both exquisite here, and while I had certain expectations of the plot, I still found myself surprised quite a few times. I assumed that a darker side of Bernie would eventually be shown, a more manipulative and greedy side, but it never was. The film uses real residents of the town to further the plot and provide commentary.
Incredibly interesting with two amazing performances, you should absolutely see this one.
And finally, Taken 3: Taken by Wolves. No, I kid. Despite Liam Neeson's recent turn as regular guy action hero of epic proportions, this film is much more nuanced and subtle. Yes, his occupation is wolf-hunter and he's pretty damn good at it, but at its core, this is a film about survival and the lengths man will go to in order to achieve it.
A plane carrying oil workers crashes in the Alaskan wild. Most are dead and no help is coming for the survivors. Neeson becomes the survivors' leader, building fires, finding food, and setting out on a path to hopefully find help. An unexpected problem arises when they discover that a pack of wolves are stalking their camp.
As the men make their way to try and find help, they are picked off either by nature or by the wolves, one by one. In the down times, they joke and laugh, tell stories of their loved ones. This is the film's strength, as well as grounding Neeson's character in flashbacks to his wife, whose full story we don't learn until the very end, and his father, a typical drunken Irishman with an affinity for poetry.
The plane crash itself was incredibly terrifying and well-done. Moreover, the setting is phenomenal. When the movie came out, I read that it was actually filmed in extreme isolation and the actors were freezing and miserable most of the time. It may have been brutal, but it certainly made for great performances.
The Grey is longer than your typical action flick, and harder to watch in many ways, but decidedly more engrossing. Despite a few implausibilities, I give this movie high marks as well.