Archive for the ‘Bill Nighy’ Category

2012 Mini-Review Wrap Up: The Twelve Best Exotic Marigold War Horse Chimpanzees!

February 12, 2013

I was all set to write my last catch-up review for 2012 (finally!) when I realized I actually had FOUR still pending.  Dude!  I want to tell you about The Hobbit and this great book I just read instead!  So, here’s a quick end to 2012 for you!

BOOK:  The Twelve by Justin Cronin.

This book is the sequel to Cronin’s vamp apocalypse novel The Passage, and it’s part two of a planned trilogy.  That I think I’ve officially given up on.  I enjoyed The Passage, but for a few minor complaints, and I reread it right before I read this one last December and enjoyed it the second time too.  But The Twelve is, put simply, a bloated disaster of epic proportions.  Not only does it flip around in time way too much (pick a timeline, already!), but it has waaaay too many wholly unnecessary subplots and characters.  It’s easily 200 pages too long — something a good editor should’ve done something about — and while I liked certain elements of it (like the whole Red Eye population of semi-civilized half-vamps), and I read the whole damn thing, I spent most of it frustrated and and increasingly short on patience.  When I was done, despite the exciting ramp-up there at the end, I felt pretty done.  No interest in part three whatsoever, unless Cronin hires a new editor and the reviews are spectacular.  I’m still glad I read it — there were things I wanted to know and now I know them.  But another gazillion messy pages just won’t be worth the time for the resolution.  I feel resolved enough as it is.  Genre: Horror.  [Buy it]

The Best Exotic Marigold HotelMOVIE: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

I watched this movie with my mother, who had never seen Dev Patel in anything and is now a believer!  That boy is so damn adorable!  (I made her watch Slumdog Millionaire as soon as we were done, naturally.)  The cast of this film is astounding — not just good ol’ Dev, but also Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, and Tom Wilkinson, and though it’s weighted down in parts with a touch too much cheese, the joy of getting to see all these people in the same movie more than makes up for the tummy ache.  Each character has a unique, authentic personality (with the exception, possibly, of Maggie Smith, who is always the same character in everything these days and who goes from astounding racist to lover of all things Indian awfully abruptly), and each takes a journey into their “outsourced retirement” that comes to a satisfying conclusion.  Wilkinson’s subplot was particularly touching, and I really, really want to be Judi Dench’s character when I grow up.  This is a delightful film, and a great one to watch with your Mom! Cast:  Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel. [Netflix it | Buy it]

MOVIE: War Horse (2012)

I haven’t seen the play this film was based on, so it’s possible it wasn’t really Spielberg’s fault, but dudes, horses, as wonderful and intelligent as they are, are not, in fact, people in animal suits.  The anthropomorphizing in this movie really got in the way of my ability to enjoy it, and Spielberg’s penchant for overwhelmingly artificial sweetness just left both me and my Mom feeling kind of beyuck in general when we were done.  Gorgeous visuals, and both Mom and I are suckers for movies about horses — one of the passions we both shared as little girls.  But this one’s a dud, start to finish.  Cast: Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch.  [Netflix it | Buy it]

MOVIE: Chimpanzee (2012)

This Disney documentary follows the life of an adorable li’l baby chimp named Oscar.  As most animal documentaries do, it begins with the death of the protagonist’s mother, and has kind of a predictable arc that follows.  But the way in which Oscar overcomes his challenge — is truly fascinating and unexpected (in short, he’s taken in not by the other female chimps, who universally reject him despite his near-unbearable cuteness, but instead by the male leader of the group — an incredibly rare thing in the world of chimps and a totally unplanable stroke of luck for the filmmakers).  The scenery can’t be beat, and though I suppose you can accuse this movie of anthropomorphization as well, it feels different when its our closest animal relations, you know what I mean?  Go ahead and call that cute baby boy Oscar.  I’m game.  This would be a great film for kids — though since it involves the death of a mom, you might not want to go too young on this one.  Chimpanzees are so damn cool.  For reals.  Recommended!  [Netflix it | Buy it]

Up next, we enter the present at long last, and there is a return of the Boyfriends!  BELIEVE IT!

 

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Comedy
Cast:  Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel

MOVIE: Rango (2011)

March 13, 2011

Okay, professional movie critics (Ebert exempted — he loved it), what IS your problem?  This extremely kooky and delightful film got kind of trashed by most of the reviewers I read regularly, and the primary reason for it seemed to be that the cartoon critters weren’t cute enough.

What the. . .?  What do you have against warts, whiskers, and waddles?  Lizard bigots.  Sheesh.

This entertaining, clever Western is about a chameleon who is on a road trip through the desert with his human family when the car swerves after hitting an armadillo (who was pretty ugly, I’ll grant you, but hey, looks aren’t everything!), sending our new amigo flying out the back.

Totally lost and completely out of his element, he starts walking and eventually stumbles across a little town named Dirt full of a variety of other desert animals.  He moseys into the local saloon in search of a glass of water, and is immediately approached by a gang of locals who ain’t too keen on strangers.  This gives the chameleon an idea — he loves to act, so he decides to pretend to be a gunslinger named Rango, regaling the saloon’s sots with a Wild West tale about the time he took out seven bad guys with a single bullet.

As Rango settles into town, eventually given the rather dubious honor of being named sheriff (none of the other sheriffs have lived too long, he’s told AFTER accepting the gig), he begins to pick up on the fact Dirt is in trouble.  It’s the middle of a terrible drought and the town is nearly out of water.  But when he and his new gal pal, a lizard lady named Beans, start to notice strange things going on (what looks like a large dumping of water outside of town, the fact the mayor doesn’t seem terribly worried, the robbery of the last of the town’s water), they begin to suspect a conspiracy.

Can Rango and Beans figure out who’s keeping the town dry (and why) before the bad guy comes after them?

Well, of course they can, duh — this is a kid’s movie, after all; it’ll have a happy ending (though I want to note here that this movie is really more suitable for older kids than little ones — there are a lot of truly scary scenes and I’m also not sure little kids will be able to follow the story).

Any fan of Westerns will get a kick out of this smart, satirical flick, which affectionately incorporates almost every classic Western element, from rolling tumbleweeds, angry mobs, bank robbers, posses, and High Noon duels, to bar brawls, a rancher who won’t give up her land, a bad guy who wants to keep the town squished flat under his thumb, and a romance between a drifter and the woman who seems destined to help him put down roots.

There were also some pretty clever additional touches for adults, including a cameo by Dr. Gonzo and Raoul Duke (on their way to or from Vegas, no doubt), a batty take on the helicopter scene from Apocalypse Now, and a sweet hat-tip to The Man With No Name (voiced perfectly by Timothy Olyphant, who really does a mighty fine Clint Eastwood).

The animation is absolutely gorgeous too — there were several scenic shots that were true works of art, in my opinion, and though the critters might, in fact, be a bit on the homely side, they’re intricately drawn, with tons of character in their faces, and even the ugliest of the ugly good guys had an irresistible charm that will win you over by the end.

“No man can walk out of his own story” is a great moral to this classic tale, and I think Rango is a movie both kids and grown-ups will really enjoy (though, again, it’s rated PG, not G, for a reason).

Also glorious:  it was made in 2D and it’s being shown in 2D and there is NO OPTION to see it in 3D.  Utterly refreshing.

And highly recommended!

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Animation, Western, Kids
Cast:  Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant, Ray Winstone

MOVIE: Hot Fuzz (2007)

January 3, 2008

I loved Shaun of the Dead, 2004’s brilliant “zom-rom-com” (zombie romantic comedy), starring Brits Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.  I’ve been wanting to see this film, starring the same two crazy guys, ever since it came out and was excited to finally have the time for it this week.

Hot Fuzz is not QUITE as great as Shaun, but it’s still extremely fun.  It opens in London, where police officer Nicholas Angel (Pegg) has been called in by his superiors (hooray, Bill Nighy!) and told he’s being transferred out of the big city and into a small country town in the middle of nowhere.  Not because he’s bad at his job, but instead quite the opposite — Angel’s high arrest rate is making the rest of them look bad and they’d like to get back to twiddling their thumbs and eating doughnuts, posthaste.

Angel is furious at first, but really has no choice but to do what he’s told.  Arriving in the tiny town of Sandford, he’s amazed to find there’s very little real crime — despite the fact all the local coppers, including his new partner Danny Butterman (Frost), are obviously completely incompetent. But things in Sandord don’t stay quiet for long, as Angel soon begins to suspect a series of local accidents are actually murders instead.

Timothy Dalton is surprisingly hilarious in this, playing the town’s shopkeeper who all-too-coincidentally keeps showing up at all the accident scenes blasting songs with oddly-pertinent lyrics from his car radio.  But, as with Shaun of the Dead, Pegg and Frost totally steal the show.  They’re a truly terrific team with great comedic timing and, even better, it’s just so obvious they’re having a great time making movies together that you can’t help but sit back and bask in their happy glow.  I love that.

This is a really entertaining and goofy little movie, and is definitely one to pick up in you’re in the mood for some silly laughs.  Recommended!

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Comedy
Cast:  Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, Jim Broadbent