Extract – A Movie Review

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Feb 212010

Click to watch the trailer for Extract.Joel is one step away from selling his flavor extract factory and retiring to easy street when a freak workplace accident sets in motion a series of disasters that put his business and personal life in jeopardy.

Genres: Comedy; Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min.; Release Date: September 4th, 2009 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for language, sexual references and some drug use.

Starring: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Ben Affleck, J. K. Simmons

Directed by: Mike Judge

We watched this on DVD a couple of weeks ago, and it was reasonably good movie with several funny sub-plots. I watched this movie with Lay having no expectations whatsoever. I hadn’t seen the trailer and I didn’t know who was in it. The initial premise was interesting: a successful businessman in an odd industry wanting to sell up to be able to live a different life and spend more time with his wife.

With a few motion pictures and several television projects under his belt, Mike Judge has become the undisputed master of working man’s comedy. No matter the color of their, the characters created by Judge exist on the front-lines of American industry.  Judge is content not to tug the heartstrings or rely on frequent hilarity as long as he is able to build the impression that the people on screen are an honest reflection of the co-worker to your right or the relative on your left.

The cast Judge has assembled is very good. Jason Bateman continues to display his mastery of portraying the straight man; playing effortlessly against the eccentricities of his oddball co-workers and the other peculiar people surrounding him. The scene-stealers here, though, are Ben Affleck, Clifton Collins Jr., J.K. Simmons and David Koechner. Affleck submits a wonderful performance as a bartender who believes Xanax is the cure for everything (including the common cold). The role tackled by Collins Jr. is one dimensional on paper, but the actor’s performance provides the character with depth and humanity. J.K. Simmons appears to relish the opportunity to play Joel’s business partner and is given several killer lines to play with, while Koechner nails the part as the annoying, talkative, socially awkward neighbour. Mila Kunis (best known as the voice of Meg Griffin in Family Guy) is well-suited to the role of Cindy; she’s required to look ridiculously hot as she goes about her business of tricking the men she encounters, and she pulls it off. The music store scene is especially funny.

Judge places an interesting and funny film that doesn’t seem to be interested in finishing,or filling out the characters and/or situations of the story,and thus falls short of previous efforts(Office Space and Idiocracy). Practically every character besides Joel is left open-ended: the wife,the injured worker in question,the unctuous neighbor played by David Koechner and the grifter hottie. Certainly a quick comedy that plays for absurd events that mull out of mundane occurrences is probably going to have one-dimensional characters,but it still feels like this film was somewhat hurried. A little more exposition and maybe an awkwardly pinned ending might’ve improved the quality of this film.

Still,the lines and some of the performances–the guy who plays the stutlifyingly dumb young hustler hired to seduce Joel’s wife is particularly mint,complimenting Affleck’s inspired turn–make this movie easily enjoyable. Certainly no Oscar contenders here, but it was kind of a fun movie, and worth the time watching it.

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Book of Eli, The – A Movie Review

 Culture, Movies, Religion  Comments Off on Book of Eli, The – A Movie Review
Jan 222010

The Book of Eli Movie PosterIn the not-too-distant future, some 30 years after the final war, a solitary man walks across the wasteland that was once America. Empty cities, broken highways, seared earth–all around him, the marks of catastrophic destruction. There is no civilization here, no law. The roads belong to gangs that would murder a man for his shoes, an ounce of water… or for nothing at all.

But they’re no match for this traveler.  A warrior not by choice but necessity, Eli seeks only peace but, if challenged, will cut his attackers down before they realize their fatal mistake. It’s not his life he guards so fiercely but his hope for the future; a hope he has carried and protected for 30 years and is determined to realize. Driven by this commitment and guided by his belief in something greater than himself, Eli does what he must to survive–and continue.

But neither will find it easy to deter him. Nothing–and no one–can stand in his way. Eli must keep moving to fulfill his destiny and bring help to a ravaged humanity.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction; Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.; Release Date: January 15th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for some brutal violence and language.

Cast: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals,

Directed By: Albert Hughes & Allen Hughes

This was Lay’s choice for this past weekend, but I wanted to see the movie also.

The movie takes place sometime in the future 30 years after “the big flash” seems to have destroyed most of the world. It’s shot in a Sepia tone, and primarily follows Denzel Washington’s character, Eli, as he makes his way towards the west coast to deliver a book that will somehow help renew humanity.

Ultimately, Eli comes across a rough western town run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman of “True Romance”) who is desperately searching for the Bible. He wants the book for the power that comes with it that he plans to exploit for his own selfish gain. He has been sending amoral ruffians out to scour the earth for a Bible. Ironically, the very book–the Bible–that Eli has been led to preserve for posterity was burned. He tells us in one scene that many people blamed the Bible for the destruction of society. Nothing remains of a once affluent society that had too much for its own good and obliterated it because it could not come to terms with religion. The survivors of the war destroyed Bibles because they felt that religion triggered the catastrophe. When Carnegie discovers Eli has the Bible, he resolves to take it away from him.

The cinematography is very good, and sets the motif well for the movie. A stark and forbidding landscape is portrayed well, and frankly, it made me feel dry. The acting was good with Denzel playing a typical character for him as the quiet but explosive hero. Oldman carries the movie coming across as sinister yet portraying an appropriately strange sense of humor. Kunis’ character is mainly meaningless and provides only an excuse for Eli to explain his mission. Her acting is overdone.

Frankly, the film severely over-inflates the influence of the Bible, especially in light of how it’s treated at the end of the movie.

Overall, this movie is probably worth watching, but wait until it is out on video.

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