Screen Junkies » Drama http://www.screenjunkies.com Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Wed, 06 Aug 2014 19:50:13 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 The Film Cult Presents: Elizabethtown http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-elizabethtown/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-elizabethtown/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:10:50 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=263157 Warning! Spoilers Ahead! Five movies after the last of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which he played eternally-fare, arrow-wielding Legolas, Orlando Bloom teamed up with Cameron Crowe to...

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Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

Five movies after the last of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which he played eternally-fare, arrow-wielding Legolas, Orlando Bloom teamed up with Cameron Crowe to make a movie steeped in sentimentality, forced “moments”, and a pretentious soundtrack. Kristen Dunst looks like she’s competing for hipster of the decade, and I am not even really sure why Paula Deen is among the cast. That said, Orlando’s American accent not withstanding, Elizabethtown is one of those movies that never got a fair chance. Yes, everything I said is true, but Elizabethtown is one of those movies I can’t shake, and ever time I bring it up to someone who has seen it, they can’t help but gush about how much they love it. How can a movie so obviously flawed be so good?

The plot of the movie is pretty straightforward. Orlando plays Drew Baylor, a business and marketing genius about to launch a shoe that will change the world of covered feet. On the release of his grand invention, he discovers the product is a dismal failure which will lose his company over 900 million dollars. Later that night, his girlfriend dumps him, and just as he’s about to commit suicide, he gets a phone call from his sister telling him his father has died. He’s then asked to take his father’s favorite blue shirt to Elizabethtown, Kentucky for the funeral.

We never meet Drew’s father. We never see them together, and when the father appears in flashbacks or family photos, he’s so unfamiliar that one doesn’t really feel anything for him. A movie maker of Cameron Crowe’s caliber knows what he’s doing, however. The emotional thread of the film is that Drew, because of the flop of his multi-million-dollar shoe, can’t process his father’s death. He’s numb and can’t cry over the fact that his father has died. In this, Drew’s numbness mirrors the viewer’s apathy toward to the father character. I’m not sure that once Drew releases his emotions during the road trip that punctuates the film’s end is enough for us to have the same reaction, but I definitely shed a tear every time I see that moment, which we’ll get to in second.

On his way to Kentucky, Drew meets Claire Colburn, played by Kristen Dunst. Her over-familiar, bubbly hipster schtick is overwrought and borders on tedious throughout the whole film. In fact, I credit her strange character, and the subsequent relationship she has with Drew, with overshadowing the rest of the film as bad. Herein is the movie’s largest flaw. It’s marketed as a romantic comedy, when really it’s about acceptance and grief. Ignoring the banal relationship these two troubled, yet beautiful, people undergo is the best way to watch Elizabethtown. The relationship aside, there are some truly poignant moments in the film.

In Elizabethtown, Drew is reunited with the Southern family he’s never known. These are the first of the more poignant moments the film offers. There’s nothing quite as special as being welcomed by a group of people who love you and are related to you for no other reason than you are family. The montage of him being introduced to his family and friends in that big southern house reminds one of being a child, surrounded by all the adults I naturally took for granted but were gone too soon. You can almost smell the food and hear the gossip and television in the background.

The other poignant moment is the one I mentioned earlier, when Drew finally succumbs to the emotions of his father’s death while on the road trip Claire has constructed for his return to the west coast. With his father’s ashes seat-belted beside him, Drew takes his father on the road trip they never had, scattering his ashes at some of the country’s most important landmarks. The moments at the landmarks are cheesy, but the solo car moments are beautiful. It’s those moments in the car, those deep revelations only found on long car trips with oneself that bring Drew, and me, to tears. You can see Drew’s mind working through the past, letting things go, and yet despite the shoe debacle, the new girl with whom he’s about to reunite, and the huge family he just rediscovered, it’s when he’s by himself that he remembers a single moment playing with his father as a child. We see a young drew pumping his hand up and down, his father doing the same, and then we cut to adult Drew in the car, finally facing responsibility, doing the same gesture, crying his heart out.

Along with a few moments of pure comedy—Susan Sarandon’s eulogy and tap dance routine, the other guests at Drew’s hotel, and Alec Baldwin’s cameo—these aforementioned poignant moments make this movie a personal favorite and an un-heralded cult film. If you’ve never taken a road trip with your dad, if you’ve never allowed yourself to be swallowed by your family, you should watch this movie. And if none of those things sound appealing to you, you should watch it merely for the fact that Orlando Bloom is so beautiful in regular, non-elf clothing, that it’s almost uncomfortable to behold. Almost.

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The Film Cult Presents: Hanna http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/the-film-cult-presents-hanna/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/the-film-cult-presents-hanna/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 17:54:11 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=261696 Warning! Spoilers Ahead! I don’t normally review movies this recent, but having just seen it appear on another website’s list of ten movies one may have overlooked in the last...

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Warning! Spoilers Ahead!


I don’t normally review movies this recent, but having just seen it appear on another website’s list of ten movies one may have overlooked in the last several years, I thought I’d give Hanna some due diligence, as I believe/pray/hope it will become a cult classic in years to come. It certainly deserves cult film status. While not a blockbuster, it’s still considered a financial success, having brought in a worldwide total of $63,782,078. While the movie’s numbers are solid, the fact remains many still have never even heard of or seen this film, which is disheartening because I think it’s one of the best films made in the last five years.

The premise is your classic sixteen-year-old girl who lives in the woods with her dad and has been trained as a total bad-ass ninja then is told she must meet her dad in Berlin after he alerts the CIA to their whereabouts. Hanna is also told that a woman named Marissa will try to kill her, so she better have been paying attention during all those karate and hunting lessons. Well, everything goes to plan, and maybe this is the only flaw in the movie: the big “reveal” is seen from a million miles away and everything expected to happen generally does. But, what happens is so much fun and exquisitely shot that I give the movie a pass for running out of steam three-quarters in.

In no small part is Hanna’s awesomeness due to its cast, which includes the queen of everything Beyoncé isn’t, Cate Blanchett, who celebrated a birthday earlier this week. As Marissa, her steely eyes and perfect southern accent give her such a sinisterly fun quality, one can’t help but be seduced by her intensity and earnestness, knowing full well that she wants to kill Hanna and you, if she had the chance. It’s one of Cate’s more understated roles (no Oscar nods or monarchs here) but it’s one of her most underrated. Incidentally, for another underrated Cate Blanchett vehicle, you should rent Bandits. She’s hilarious.

Moving on, Eric Bana, who I’d love to be my daddy stuck in the woods with any day of the week, plays Hanna’s father with an iron jaw and focused precision that wreaks of strength and confidence. Little good it does him. Saoirse Ronan, whom everyone should go see in The Grand Budapest Hotel, as Hanna has an ethereal beauty to her, so much so that one can almost believe that, while she’s a cold-blooded killer, her innocence is completely intact. Speaking of cast, keep an eye out for Michelle Dockery, Lady Mary herself, in an almost missable moment.

Cinematography is the other main reason this movie is so engrossing. The opening shots of a snow-covered Finland give justice to the stark beauty inherent to a desolate landscape. The same can be said for the shots taken of the dessert when Hanna escapes the CIA. To start in a landscape that feels very “north of the wall” then to take the viewer to the desert, where you can almost feel your own arms begin to sunburn, only to end up in an abandoned amusement park in the German forest leads me to believe that the filmmakers knew the whole film couldn’t run, as no story can, on premise alone. Run out of story? Only have chases left? Perfect, use stylistic choices any serious Tumblr addict would go mad for.

In reviewing this film, I’d also be remiss to mention several fun sequences. The first is when an English family help Hanna escape the desert. Hanna finds her equivalent in this family, a girl named Sophie, who is the comic core of the whole film. She delivers her quips in such perfectly obnoxious way you can’t help but be sad when Hanna must leave them behind. Really, Sophie’s hilarious. Also not to be missed is a super-quick fight sequence with Eric Bana. Again, it’s really the style here that’s most important. I don’t think this scene is an ode to The Wiz, but I could be wrong, because it looks like the same set, to me anyway. And finally, the other great scene is the chase in the shipyard, where all those crates provide enough wacky opportunities to give the whole thing a Bond feel that is rad as fuck.

With that, Hanna is an awesome film about a teenager ninja with a face made for Instagram. She’s got a hot dad, a secret she doesn’t even know, and one of the greatest actresses of our time is trying to kill her. What more could the public want beside a plot and premise that saw its way through to the end of the movie? Everyone’s so picky these days. This is a fun movie with gorgeous shots, hot actors, and yes even some great one-liners.

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Coming of Age Movies That Make Men Cry http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/genres-movies/drama/coming-of-age-movies-that-make-men-cry/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/genres-movies/drama/coming-of-age-movies-that-make-men-cry/#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2011 19:58:30 +0000 Breakstudios http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=219647 Just in time to quench your oddly-specific thirst, here's a list of tried and true tearjerkers that have been known to make a man cry.

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Seeking out coming of age movies that make men cry can be risky business. After all, what man wants to cry during a movie, much less one about some kid learning about life or whatever? Still, sometimes you’re simply in the mood. So, just in time to quench your oddly-specific thirst, here’s a list of tried and true tearjerkers that have been known to turn men into cry babies. Not us, though. Just a guy we know.

 

My Life As A Dog

Ingemar in My Life As A Dog

This is a definitive coming of age drama from director Lasse Holstrom, and if it doesn’t make you cry, not much will. It really piles the misery on top of its young protagonist Ingemar, including but not limited to: a sick and dying mother, being separated from his beloved dog and an array of sexual humiliations. We won’t even blame you if you get a little misty-eyed just reading this.

 

Edward Scissorhands

Johnny Depp hugging Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands

OK, so Edward is an artificial being, so he doesn’t technically age. Still, the movie is about his movement from childlike innocence to bitter disappointment as he experiences the harsh world of love and loss, so it qualifies. And it’ll get you. Particularly the final scene where an elderly Winona Ryder remembers her life as a young girl with Edward and that sweet Danny Elfman score swells. Just try  not to blow your nose too hard if you have scissors for hands. We had an uncle who lost a nostril that way.

 

Boyz N The Hood

Cuba Gooding Jr. crying in Boyz In the Hood

This coming of age drama about kids growing up in a rough LA neighborhood could make even the hardest gangster (or Republican) shed a tear or two. It’s a classic story, featuring several kids who either try to escape the unforgiving neighborhood, or grow to coldly embrace what it takes to survive there. Plus, what is arguably Ice Cube‘s most badass performance alone is enough to bring tears to your eyes. “Domino motherf*cker!”

 

The Lion King

Simba trying to wake up Mufasa in The Lion King

Yeah, it’s a cartoon. You’re looking for movies that make a man cry, what do you expect? This Disney classic has been seen by practically everyone, including more than a few guys who claim to never cry during movies —a healthy percentage of these guys almost certainly teared up when Mufasa was murdered by Scar. Or maybe that was just dust in our eyes.

 

The Tree of Life

Sean Penn in the desert in Tree Of Life

This might seem like a weird choice, since The Tree of Life is a much more experimental movie than the other weepers on this list. Still, if you give it the concentration and focus it deserves, it’ll tug at those heart strings. The scenes depicting life in 1950s suburban Texas might get to you, specifically if you’re around the same age as Sean Penn’s character, whose childhood makes up the bulk of the narrative. Well, that and dinosaurs. And who among us is able to keep his composure when it comes to dinosaurs?

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