Posts Tagged ‘Steven Russell’

Film Reviews!: I Love You Phillip Morris

January 7, 2011

I Love You Phillip Morris is so good it’s hard to remember what type of movie you are watching.  That isn’t some hyperbolic statement intended to garner curiosity or to make the author (moi) seem wiser than reality would hold true, one actually comes away from Phillip Morris in such awe of the story just told that it merits a reminder that what the audience just viewed was a comedy.  A fabulous, fully-functioning comedy, but a comedy, nonetheless.

Based on a fantastical, too-good-to-be-true story, Phillip Morris revolves around a con-man’s (Carrey) life as he continually commits insurance fraud, breaks out of jail, and pursues the man he is so wildly in love with, the titular Phillip Morris (McGregor).  Carrey and McGregor fill the screen so fully throughout the entirety of this movie that there is hardly any room for anyone else onscreen.  And the amazing outcome is that it absolutely works.  Spending over 100 minutes with the hyper-dynamic couple of McGregor and Carrey is not only feasible, it’s preferred.  Short of a select few incredibly minute supporting roles that do help to push the story along, McGregor and Carrey’s frenetic entanglement of a relationship and life together creates an environment so perfect and exciting that you need nothing more than their own excellent camerawork.

Carrey and McGregor’s performances truly are what make this endeavor the brilliant outing that it is.  Not only do they perfectly capture the comedic timing and comical minutiae that make the story work so well, they also manage to create two entirely lovable, relateable characters, also.  Carrey brings Steven Russell to life with relative ease while Ewan McGregor makes a Morris into an equally versed, yet fragile romantic foil for Carrey’s Russell.  One of the biggest accomplishments of the stars (and certainly the screenwriters as well) is their ability to produce a comedy about a homosexual love affair in prison without once making the relationship feel cheap, trite, or cliche.  While the entire movie is incredibly funny, it never gives in to any cheap material about homosexuality or even the gay community, at large.  The story evolves at the perfect pace and never has any need or space to fit any banal, pedestrian humor about the couple’s sexual orientation into the grand scheme of things.  Instead, the couple feels absolutely fitting as the hectic world that they have built around themselves speeds by them.  Carrey and McGregor are adorable together and have you rooting for them as a team from the very get-go.  The chemistry that they share and the duo that they so quickly become is what gives the film such an intense feeling of charm, without which the movie would certainly be lost.

The score and cinematography both ring true to the story at hand and guide everything along to create the perfect atmosphere for Carrey and McGregor’s basically two-man show.  The true masterpiece of Phillip Morris‘ technical expertise, however, is the script.  The writing team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have created an airtight screenplay that never lingers or moves too expediently.  Instead, Ficarra and Requa’s screenplay moves at just the right pace to pack year’s worth of action into a movie under two hours leaving you wanting more while simultaneously tying up each and every possible loose end or tangential piece of the narrative.  And while it would be easy to credit the story’s perfect pacing to the original book it was based off of, that simply is not the case.  What Ficarra and Requa have accomplished is a story perfectly, succinctly, and genuinely told in the language of the cinema.  Their story fully utilizes the cinematic medium, utilizing brilliant quick cuts, and edits to bring everything together.  One of the best moments of the film occurs while the camera lingers on Carrey and McGregor, slow dancing in their cells while their neighbor cellmate gets beaten, offscreen, by a battalion of cops to beautiful music.  It is an absolutely brilliant moment that is perfectly encapsulated through the meeting of imagery and sound.  Something that the pages of a book simply cannot deliver.

I started this review out by stating that Phillip Morris makes the audience forget the type of movie they’re watching.  While true that the audience may forget, I want to clarify that the movie itself NEVER forgets.  I Love You Phillip Morris never stops succeeding as a superior comedy, it just ALSO succeeds as a genuine film.  Phillip Morris is funny, touching, passionate, fulfilling, exciting, and extremely well put-together.  Great acting and great writing come together to tell a great story in one of the best entries of 2010.

Score/Soundtrack:  70/100

Performance/Direction:  94/100

Script:  93/100

Cinematography/Aesthetics:  82/100

Overall:  90/100

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Top 10 of 2010!

January 5, 2011

 

And here we are again!  Another year down and another slew of movies to comprehend and compare.  Unlike the last few years, 2010 brought a cavalcade of competent cinema that was absolutely unprecedented.  I was fully unprepared for the likes of the last few months and the intense entries into the Oscar season that began to give way as the year came to a close.  Now, as always, I’m certain that this list will be viewed as juvenile and haphazard (story of my life) but these are MY top 10 movies of the year.  I wish I could watch all of these entries over again to more properly gauge my level of enthusiasm and their prowess, however, I will stand by every one of these entries and will fight you to the death for any of them!  (Though I will admit, I give major kudos to originality and ingenuity in form over traditional cinematic bravado)  Let the ranking begin!

10.  127 Hours


Danny Boyle does so much with so very little.  In this masterful retelling of the infamous expedition-gone-wrong of Aron Ralston, Boyle makes the story of a man trapped in the desert for five days into a life-affirming, absurdly inspirational tale.  Boyle deserves immense credit for taking  a cinematically antithetical story and turning it into one of the most captivating of the year.

9.  Never Let Me Go


Mark Romanek made a big splash on the screen this year with this film, which delves into themes of humanity, fate, and despondency at the hands of one’s own demise.  All against the backdrop of a beautifully filmed, beautifully performed script.  Never Let Me Go reaffirmed Andrew Garfield’s, Carey Mulligan’s, and Keira Knightley’s prowess all in one fail swoop.

8.  True Grit


Being the second Coen brothers movie I have ever ACTUALLY enjoyed, True Grit put multiple stereotypes of mine to rest.  I was concerned about ANOTHER overly hyped Coen flick, I was concerned about another update of a classic western, and I was concerned about a story with a cliche, precocious, young female protagonist who comes across as seemingly unflappable.  But when you realize that the Coen’s entire body of work details the lives of larger-than-life characters that are seemingly unflappable, you begin to forgive this mini masterpiece for its very few flaws.

7.  The Kids Are All Right


Easily one of the best pieces of acting this year, the raw talent in this film makes me question how more fuss wasn’t made over it.  Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are irreplaceable in this comedy about the inner-workings of family and the importance of love, understanding, and functionality in the face of adversity, stress, and life’s constant ambiguity.  Did I mention that the performances are incredible?

 

6.  The Social Network


One of my more traditional choice for the year, Fincher’s techno-epic about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is truly as efficient as the hype made it out to be.  With a spot-on score produced by Trent Reznor, and cinematography that would make lawn-mowing a fascinating, IMAX-worthy venture, the film is almost incapable of NOT delighting audiences.

5.  I Love You Phillip Morris

Ironically, this may be the most contested movie on this list, as it does have its fair share of tonal anomalies and inconsistencies, however, Phillip Morris simply cannot be overlooked as one of the most adventurous and insightful picks of the year.  It takes risks and utilizes techniques just as well as 127 Hours and The Social Network, both.  It merely uses them in different regards and for different outcomes.  Not to mention that the performances are absolutely fabulous.

4.  Kick-Ass

Again, this film can be RIDICULOUSLY tonally inconsistent at times.  It can even leave viewers borderline disenchanted and at a loss.  But for fans of the genre, and just movie geeks in general, Kick-Ass lives to deliver both a send-up of the entire superhero canon, as well as overtly-indulgent entry in and of itself.

3.  Toy Story 3

If you would have told me that a three-quel to one of the biggest Disney franchises of all time would make my top 3 of ANY year, I would be forced to furrow my brow at you in extreme doubt, but Toy Story 3 is one of the most adroit offerings that Pixar has put out since…well, I guess since Up.  Still, it speaks incredibly highly of a studio that is capable of making sequels to films without losing any of the magic and without giving in to any sense of pandering or desperation.  Pixar should literally be a class that all film executives at EVERY studio should have to take.

2.  The Fighter

Going into this movie with little to no expectations of what I was about to see gave way to easily one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences of this year.  David O. Russell truly knows how to make an incredible film, both critically and for mainstream audiences.  Visually arresting, with performances that are EASILY Oscar-worthy (I’m looking at you, Christian Bale and Amy Adams) this entry came out of nowhere and proved to be my second favorite of the year AS WELL AS my technical #2.  The film simply cannot be denied as a masterpiece on multiple fronts.

1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

If you ever wanted to confirm my absolute geekiness, look no further than this #1 pick.  Is it a stereotypical selection?  Sure.  Is it a smidge over-praised by moi?  Perhaps.  But I simply don’t care.  Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World was easily my favorite movie of the year and easily one of my top 10 favorite films of all time, as well, perhaps even top 5 (I told you I was willing to acquiesce that I may be a bit blind to this movie).  Everything about this movie takes the extravagances of previous cinematic treasures and expounds upon them.  I challenge you to find a faster-paced, funnier, better-choreographed film that speaks so directly to an entire culture and properly adapts six graphic novels into a story under two hours long.  Did that sentence just blow your mind?  Well that’s how you feel for the entirety of the movie, even after the tenth viewing.  I know from experience.

P.S. And to be fair, here is a list of the most-talked-abouts that I have yet to see:

_The King’s Speech

_Shutter Island

_Waiting for Superman

_The Town

_Fair Game

_Mother

_Tangled

_Despicable Me

_Catfish

_Blue Valentine

_Animal Kingdom