REVIEW: Amelia

18 05 2010

Can I call BS on “Amelia?”  The movie claims to be inspired by two biographies written about female aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart; however, I have located the real source for the movie.

The movie is in fact derived from those cheesy inspirational poster that are plastered on the walls of workplaces and classrooms everywhere.  You know, the ones with the cat reaching for the ball of string on a high table with the caption “You Can Do It!”

“Amelia” is quite literally the biggest cliché I have ever seen.  I know that I use that word a lot in my reviews, but it has never been so dreadful as it is here.  Sometimes clichéd movies are bearable, other times just annoying; Mira Nair’s movie is laughable.  The dialogue is so uninspired that I found myself giggling at it.

The writing is the core of the problems, yet the movie doesn’t exactly help itself out.  The acting is cringe-worthy, led by two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as the titular character.  Despite playing a charismatic figure, she comes off as lifeless and dull.  However, those last two adjectives seem more fitting for Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor as her husband and lover, respectively.  Nair’s direction is unstable, and we are never sure if her portrait of Amelia is supposed to deify her or humanize her.  In my opinion, she’s better left as a legend.

The movie in itself serves as an argument against the dreaded “Oscar Bait” films which audiences believe are tailored to win Academy Awards.  According to my dictionary widget, one of the meanings of bait is “an allurement; a thing intended to tempt or entice.”  In that sense, it absolutely falls flat on its face.  “Amelia” is more likely to turn people away, not bring them in.  Another meaning, in the context of a fisherman, is “food used to entice fish or other animals as prey.”  In this context as well, it also fails.  When Fox Searchlight went fishing for voters with “Amelia,” they might as well have held up a sign that said “WE WANT OSCARS.”  No attempt is made to hide the real ambitions of this movie, and it stings all the more when it winds up as a bona fide flop. D /

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What to Look Forward to In … October 2009

29 08 2009

We give the movie industry late August and all of September to recover from the busy summer season, but in October, it starts to kick it into gear again.  Unfortunately, my most anticipated movie in October, Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” was pushed back to February.  But the month still puts forth several great movies for all tastes.

October 2

This week, I can promise you that I will be throwing my money not at a new release, but at the re-release of two staples of my childhood.  “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” will hit theaters again for a few weeks.  1 ticket.  2 movies. 3-D.  Need I say more?

The week also gives us “The Invention of Lying,” which could be a sleeper comedy hit. The movie stars Ricky Gervais, who was the lead of the British version of “The Office.” Around this time last year, he starred in “Ghost Town,” a comedy with a heart that you need to go rent now, that was dismissed by audiences. I have high hopes for his latest, in which he plays a man who tells the world’s first lie on an alternate Earth. He continues to wield the power to suit his own selfish needs. The movie also features Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and the always funny Tina Fey.

And not to mention, the week delivers Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, “Whip It.” The movie stars the irresistible Ellen Page (“Juno”) as Bliss, a teenager weary of the beauty pageants that she is forced into by her parents. One day, she discovers the world of roller derby and she finds the happiness that she has been so desperately seeking. The movie boasts a hilarious supporting cast including Kristen Wiig (“SNL”), Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden, and Barrymore herself.

And it just keeps getting better.  The Coen Brothers (“No Country for Old Men”) are back with their latest feature, “A Serious Man;” they also wrote the original screenplay.  The movie seems to be a big risk.  It features no marquee names other than the Coens themselves. The trailer is cryptic, giving no indication of what to expect from the movie. I don’t mind an aura of mystique, but this is an aura of confusion. The movie is being marketed as a dark comedy, and I pray that it is the polar opposite of the Coens’ last foray into the genre, “Burn After Reading,” which I didn’t find funny at all. The movie starts in limited release and then will slowly expand from New York and Los Angeles.

The other major release of the week is “Zombieland,” a horror-comedy with Woody Harrelson.

October 9

The only exciting movie hitting theaters across the country this weekend is “Couples Retreat.”  A comedy centered around four couples at a luxurious tropical resort that is revealed to be a marriage therapy clinic, it appears to provide something for everyone.  It has pretty women (Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis) AND funny guys (Jason Bateman, Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau).  The movie is the directorial debut of Ralph Billingsley, best known for playing Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” and the screenplay is written by Vaughn and Favreau.  Hopefully it can provide some good laughs in a season usually replete of hilarious comedies.

Opening in limited release is “An Education,” a movie that has been garnering massive Oscar buzz for months now.  Most of it has centered on the breakout performance of lead actress Carey Mulligan.  In the movie, she stars as Jenny, a 17-year-old in 1960s England who is set on going to Oxford.  However, an older gentleman (Peter Sarsgaard) comes along and sweeps her off of her feet, introducing her to a lifestyle that she immediately loves.  But reality bites, and Jenny is left at a crucial crossroads.  The movie has also generated buzz around supporting actors Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike (the red-haired villain of “Die Another Day”).  Raves are also flying in for the screenplay, written by author Nick Hornby, writer of “About a Boy” and “Fever Pitch.”  And with the 10 nominees for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, many people say it has a good chance of claiming one of the ten.

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