Friday, September 30, 2011


My rating: Three and a half reels out of 5

This movie is getting way too much Oscar buzz. Essentially being called The Social Network of baseball movies. The problem though, it's not as good as The Social Network.

Most baseball movies usually focus on the players. With Moneyball, the focus is on the general manager and the business side of baseball. Billy Beane, (Brad Pitt) is a former baseball player and now a general manager for the Oakland A's, who attempts to put a team together with a low budget and by using computer-generated analysis to sign players.

Moneyball is really all about Billy Beane. He has the most depth out of all the characters. He's a risk taker and is defying the odds. Except for Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), most of the other staff and coaches are given one purpose: to defy what Billy Beane wants and what he is doing. He goes against the traditional ways of doing things and no one likes it. With a lot of one dimensional characters, the ensemble cast comes off as a little bland.

Moneyball is different from all other baseball movies and sports movies, and that's actually a good thing. There's no exciting dramatic finish to win a spot into the playoffs or to win a championship. There's no inspiring speech to stir up the team. It was just one man's perspective during one season of baseball, but when you only make one person interesting in the whole movie, then why should I care...

You might enjoy this movie if:
1. You like baseball movies.
2. Your favorite team is the Oakland A's.

You probably won't enjoy this movie if:
1. You think baseball is boring.
2. Your favorite team is the Oakland A's (lol).

On a personal note: I actually grew up liking Oakland A's baseball and I remember the season that this movie is based on. The movie was a little nostalgic for me and I probably liked it more than I should have because it was about my favorite team. I've kind of become a fair weather fan. As soon as I know my team is out of the playoffs, I stop paying attention. But it's because at that point, football season started. I can't even name anyone on the roster for this season. So for someone like me, I kind of forgotten all about that season. I do remember yelling at the tv during the playoffs and my dad for getting me at me because I was so loud.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


My rating: Four reels out of five.

Contagion is not your typical outbreak-type movie and I'm glad. Contagion is a thriller with all-star cast about a deadly virus that kills within days, about those struggling to survive, and the ones combating the disease.

Some people looked at the previews and thought, this film looks like Outbreak. Outbreak was more of a thriller action piece where Contagion is a thriller drama and is more character focused. Among the characters are everyday man, Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon) whose wife is one of the early victims from the disease. Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), who directs the battle against the virus from the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta. Field agent Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet), combating the disease from the front lines. Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle), trying to find a cure in the lab.

The one problem with having so many actors in a film is not all of them will get enough screen time and some characters might be more interesting than other. Some characters may even detract from the story. There are many characters in this film but if there is anyone that masters multiple character stories, it's Stephen Soderbergh. Stephen Soderbergh brought us Traffic and Ocean's Eleven (those happen to be the last films he's made that have stuck with me after viewing). The screen time with the characters in Contagion might be a little limited, but every character has depth to them because of the flaws that they have (and it helps to have an Oscar-nominated actor portraying them).

Contagion is a haunting film. It's a realistic and unnerving look at contagious deadly virus. And at one point it almost seemed apocalyptic. For the impressionable mind, it can probably leave you a little paranoid and a little scared to touch anything without a glove. It's best not to worry about such things. People interact with other people everyday. As far as I know, a deadly virus doesn't break out everyday.

You'll probably enjoy this film if:
1. You like character dramas.
2. You like Stephen Soderbergh films.

You probably won't like this film if:
1. You're expecting something like Outbreak.
2. You find it hard to follow multiple characters.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Expectations couldn't be any higher.

There are a lot of factors that can make or break your movie going thing that can make or break it...expectations.

"Expectations couldn't be any higher." - Coach Gary Gaines, Friday Night Lights

My friend the other night told me how Contagion wasn't what he expected it to be. He enjoyed the movie, but he was expecting something different from the documentary-like film that was given to us. It made me think of how my expectations for movies has changed over the years. There were movies I would have high expectations for and when those expectations were not met, I was usually disappointed. Nowadays, I have learned to let go of my expectations and just enjoy the show.

Friday Night Lights mentioned above was one of the earliest movies that I remembered that I had high expectations for and those expectations were at least met. When I first saw the teaser trailer, I was pumped. I couldn't wait to see the movie. I even went out and bought the book the movie was based on. And despite knowing how the story ended and seeing the trailer many times, I was still able to enjoy the movie.

Transformers 2 was the most recent and last movie I had high expectations for. I watched the trailer for it so many times, I lost count. The trailer was just full of energy and it got me excited for the movies like all trailers should (but not all of them do). I enjoyed the first Transformers movie and I loved the subtitle of the movie, Revenge of the Fallen. If you're going to make a trilogy, the bad guys need to win in the second movie. When the movie finally came out...needless to say, I was disappointed.

Lessons learned from Transfromers 2:
1. Never have high expectations for a Michael Bay film.
2. Never watch a trailer more than a few times (unless it's based on a book and you've read the book already and know what's going to happen).
3. NEVER have high expectations for a Michael Bay film.

I have a friend, who chooses to not know anything for big tent pole release movies. He doesn't watch previews, TV spots, or read anything about the movie. For example, the Harry Potter movies, he would not read the book until after he saw the movie. I thought I would try out this no-trailer-watching method out on a movie. I had a chance to fully test this method out at the 2010 Sundance film festival where it was very easy to avoid watching or hearing anything about a movie. I saw roughly 32 films, and just about enjoyed most of them but it was probably because I was on an independent film high and it was a nice change from main stream films.

I continued the experiment with a popular film, Iron Man 2 (I actually first tried to experiment with Avatar, but I ended up only watching the trailer once). It is extremely difficult to not watch a trailer for a popular movie because it's usually on the trailer pack for everything you watch. To counter this, I would either have to wait out in the hallway until trailers are done, or I would bring in my headphones and listen to music over certain trailers I didn't want to see. I experimented a few more times with some popular films but in the end, I learned that knowing very little about a film before going in, doesn't make the film any better.

The positives about knowing as little as possible. I enjoy the comedies a little more. Almost all the time, you will find the funniest scenes in the trailer. By not watching the trailer, you're hearing the funniest jokes for the first time. And by not watching a trailer, you can eliminate any possible spoilers that may have been in the trailer.

Today, I still try to avoid trailers as much as possible but when I do see a trailer I really like, I don't watch it a hundred times. This has helped me reduce my expectations for a movie. A lot of the times, a trailer could be misleading. I've seen enough movies to dissect a story and I figure out most movies by the end of the first act, so there's usually nothing that surprises me anymore. Most of the time when I am going into a movie, all I know is the plot and actors and sometimes I don't even know what the plot is. I even try to avoid reviews and other people's opinions when I can.

I finally learned never to have high expectations for a movie. It just sets you up for disappointment. I've learned never to expect what a movie will be like based on a trailer, because trailers can deceive you. I can finally just sit back and let the movie unfold in front of me.

What was the last movie you saw where you had high expectations that were not met? Or it wasn't what you expected?

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The other day I was lucky enough to catch a promo screening of 50/50.

Introducing my rating system: 4 and a half reels out of 5. (Now I just need images)

I've never had to deal with cancer in any sort of way but if I was to deal with it in any way then I would imagine it would be something like this movie. I know I'll be fine because I'll have close friends that will always try to make me smile (and take advantage of a situation in order to get laid). I'll have a overbearing mother to look after me. And maybe I'll have a significant other at my side to support me. Cancer is not an easy subject to buy into but the filmmakers treat the subject with respect and humor. I believe anyone can relate to the film whether they have had cancer, knew someone with it, or has never had it but maybe fears it a little.

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt - 500 Days of Summer, Brick) is a normal straight-arrowed guy. He jogs, he works...he recycles. He has a best friend, a girlfriend, and an overbearing mother. His life is interrupted when he is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his back. We follow Adam as he goes through therapy with Katherine (Anna Kendrick - Up In The Air, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World ) who may be a little inexperienced to deal with a case such as Adam. And we meet fellow patients Mitch and Alan (Matt Frewer and Phillip Baker hall) who act as another support base when others in Adam's fail to come through.

The structure of the story is not anything new. What makes this film work is the cast and every part is cast perfectly. Joseph Gordon-Levitt been mainly doing independent films but thanks to Christopher Nolan and Inception, JGL seems to be a little more popular these days. He quietly but powerfully plays his role as Adam. Angelica Huston plays Adam's overbearing mother. The way they played off each other in one scene, I nearly lost it. To balance out the heavy dramatic stuff, we have Seth Rogen playing Adam's best friend, Kyle. Seth Rogen's character is pretty much like any other one of his characters in other movies, but played with some more heart. It made me think that if I ever was diagnosed with a potentially terminal disease, I know my friends' humor would help me get through things because with all things in life, you have to have a little humor.

This film is simply told. It will make you cry and it will make you laugh. It's not a film that would offend anyone. It's a film that might make you take a closer look at some of the relationships in your life and appreciate what you have. You probably didn't need a film to show you such things, but it's hard to watch a film about cancer and not be emotionally moved.

Sidenote: I am a little bias towards Joseph Gordon-Levitt movies. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Taking a look closer...

The other day I was asked..."What's your favorite movie?" I come across this question a lot and it is usually brought up after I mention I was a film student in college. For the longest time, I would say American Beauty. For me, it was the movie that changed the way I saw movies and my career choice. However, I can't tell you the last time I saw this movie and I rarely get urges these days to watch it. It has lost its rewatch value with me. Don't get me wrong, it's a great movie. I'm just not going out of my way to watch it. So does this mean I don't have one all-time favorite anymore?

The simple question of what is my favorite movie is a difficult question to answer for me these days. Simply because I have too many movies to choose from now. There's no way I can choose one over the other because every movie has a different taste and texture. If we simplify into one type of movie, then it's a little easier. When you ask me what's my favorite zombie movie, I will say Shaun of the Dead. My favorite football movie, Friday Night Lights. Picking one all-time favorite movie out of thousands I've seen...becoming increasing difficult.

The two movies I mentioned above, I could watch over and over and I do go out of my way to watch them when I get the urge. So do repeated viewings entail that it is your favorite movie of all time? No, because I watched Independence Day in theatres 14 times when I was younger and Gladiator 11 times. All those times they were in theatres (good thing I was working in a theatre by the time Gladiator came out, didn't pay anything to see it). How many times have I watched those movies on dvd at home? 1 to 2 times each. Some movies are just better on the big screen or with a kick ass home system, which I don't have. And if watching a movie amount of times would define your favorite movie, then Star Wars would be my favorite movie of all time. I've lost count though of how many times I've seen it.

When it comes down to it, American Beauty was a sentimental thing for me. Before, I was just into your typical blockbuster type of movies, lots of action and thought usually needed. Afterwards, I had a deeper appreciation for movies, of any genre. American Beauty was essesntially the first grown up film I ever liked. I felt something emotional stir inside of me and it was something I had never gotten from watching a movie before. It established that I could find a way to relate to a movie in some way. Movies that engage me through emotion, thought, or technical merit are the movies that stay memorable for me these days.  American Beauty doesn't have the impact it once did, all movies lose that initial impact after a while. After thinking about it a little more..."what's my favorite movie" is no longer a difficult question. American Beauty really is my favorite movie of all-time.

So what's your all-time favorite movie? and Why?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Well...I'm back.

A long time a blog far, far, away. Well, not far away but it was a long time ago. An obsessed movie fan try to start a blog and didn't keep up with it, but it's ok because the writing sucked and he had no idea what he was doing. But I'm back now by popular demand. Well, not by popular demand but apparently there are some people out there who care what I have to say. So here we are again, my new blog...Switching Reels. Where I will share with you my thoughts, reviews, and everything else related to movies.

Watch for the cigarette burns...