Bits! (Blue Valentine Review, Despicable Me vs. Toy Story 3, Favorite Broadway Musical)
Welcome to my first edition of “Bits!”. This is just my lame way of talking about three different things in one post. Today I watched Blue Valentine, don’t ask how. I just did. Anyway, there has been a lot of buzz for this movie, especially for the two leads. So I felt it was my duty to see what the hubbub was.
To summarize, it’s simply just a movie about a young married couple and their problems. The movie jumps back and forth in time between their troubled present and their romantic past. This edgy format can’t save this movie from being a tad tired and too familiar.
This movie IMO was very similar to other movies about married couples with problems and arguments (two movies that immediately come to mind are the superior Revolutionary Road and Rabbit Hole). I didn’t watch a trailer for this movie, nor did I read an article on wikipedia, but as I was watching this movie, I could pretty much predict everything that was happening. This couple gets married young, they can’t have sex with each other, a huge shouting match argument acts as the movie’s climax. This movie…sorry…was a little too formulaic. I expected more. Reviewers discussed this movie like it was the greatest thing since Avatar…but it was just a less-satisfying version of the two movies I mentioned earlier.
This movie, however, isn’t technically bad. I still recommend it, solely for the performances by the two lead actors, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. Ryan Gosling plays the same semi-drugged up bad tempered character that he played in Half Nelson. Michelle Williams’ character is pretty much similar to her previous character in Brokeback Mountain, except without the southern accent. But, really, nonetheless, these performances are still very good. Their performances are raw and realistic. And brave. I commend them…
And I really loved a scene where their characters’ are young, and Ryan Gosling’s character is playing the ukulele while Michelle Williams is dancing on the street. Very cute. This movie is made up of a lot of great individual scenes…but it’s too familiar in the big picture. I don’t like giving movies/tv shows/books grades, but I’d maybe give this one a “B” or “B+”. See? I liked this movie…but there are just other movies with similar formats that I like even better.
So, if you’ve been reading this blog, you’d know that I liked Despicable Me more than Toy Story 3. BLASPHEMOUS, right? Well, I loved both movies with all my heart. And the Toy Story trilogy is probably the greatest film trilogy of all time…but there are three reasons why I loved Despicable Me more.
3. Aren’t Animated Films suppose to be for kids? And when we adults watch these films, aren’t we supposed to dig into our inner child? This may seem like a stupid reason, (and a lot of people would object to this), but Despicable Me seemed more like a children’s film. OK…not all animated films are supposed to be for kids (like Persepolis or Waltz with Bashir) but I would think that the ones marketed towards children, would be for children. Toy Story 3 (especially in the beginning) had a bit too much talking. Too much sadness. Not enough action. However, I believe Despicable Me barely had a slow or dull moment in it. It had action from the beginning to the end. Now…some fuddy duddy old critics may scoff at this, and maybe not all kids prefer this. But…the kid in me did (ooh! Family guy joke!)
2. The voice cast. This is very biased of me. The voices in Toy Story 3 were amazing…but as someone who loves Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Ken Jeong, Jack McBrayer, Mindy Kaling and Jermaine Clement (pretty much regulars of the NBC comedies), the voices in Despicable Me appeal to me more. And this celebrity cast, not professional voice actors, do a really amazing job. Go cast!
1. And last…the laughs and cries. Like any red blooded human being, I cried during Toy Story 3. I cracked up during the funny scenes. But…I did not cry and laugh at the same time. Despicable Me, however, made me cry and laugh at the same time. And when a movie allows me to do that (movies rarely allow me to do that), it just wins. The scenes where Gru is reading that corny storybook to the kids always get me. So…yeah…
So, hate me all you want. I know you “Pixar lovers” are probably reading this and going “bitch pleeeeze“, but it’s just how I feel. I still love them both with a passion. (Actually, I own both movies on DVD!) But, I enjoy one more than the other. And I’m in the lone minority here.
OK…this isn’t technically my favorite musical, but I definitely think it’s the most underrated and forgotten. That is Caroline or Change, written by the same dude (Tony Kushner) who wrote Angels in America. So why isn’t this more popular? This Tony-nominated musical has come and gone on Broadway, but I still recommend you all get the book and CD (and watch some clips on youtube of the original cast). This thorough-composed opera is about a black maid in the south during the civil rights movement and her relationship with the Jewish boy whose family she works for. The music is a mix of Negro spirituals, “yiddish-sounding music”, and a little bit of classic Disney. This whole post is going too long, so I’m not going to give a full fledged review, but I just wanted to bring this show to light for the ones of tens of you who read this blog.
Well…that’s all. SAG awards are coming soon. Expect predictions from me tomorrow. And thanks for reading.