The Five Arts

A detailed review of current and past arts accompanied by a five-star scoring system.



Last night, Creative Loafing and MOR hosted a screening of THOR starring Chris Hemsworthand Natalie Portman. It was shown in 3D which was a surprise for most of the patrons becase the movie was not intended for 3D. I did hear some complaints later that the quality was not up to par and some of the pictureseemed blurry at the edges. I, on the other hand, normally donot care for 3D and ended up really enjoying the 3D feature.The movie itself was full of huge explosions and witty retorts.

As the story goes, there are 9 realms of the universe containing Earth and, Thor's homeland, Asgard. Asgard was depicted as a perfect realm lush with golden buildings and a rainbow bridge. It was apparent that most of Asgard was CGI however, I like to think of that part of the story as most authentic to the comic-book feel. It would have been far too difficult to recreate something as perfect as Asgard was intended to be and it was nice that director Kenneth Branagh held to the fun fantasy side of what Thor creator, Stan Lee, had written.

The story was left open ended so that means either another Thor, yay!, or a precursor to The Avengers. Be sure to stay until the very end, after all the credits, as there is another scene. I won't give anything away but it is worth staying for if you are a comic buff.



Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia is a charming film full of a reminiscent time, one in which women found such joy in the comfort of the kitchen. Nowadays there are too many things to do and not enough hours in the day. Most women have full time jobs in addition to maintaining a household, a quick and easy meal becomes music to the ears. To certain families, home cooked meal means popping a frozen pizza in the oven. Most families have forgotten what it was like to sit around the dinner table together. Women are losing out on a great joy whilst only gaining a few hours to do things that separate us from our families. The kitchen is the heart of the home and this film begins to show why it is so important to keep that heart pumping. Both Julie and Julia teach us how to find pleasure in cooking rather than pain.

The film was based on a novel written by Julie Powell in 2005 and published by Time Warner Book Group. Powell, played by actress Amy Adams, has set a goal to cook 524 recipes from Julia Child's cook book in 365 days. The storyline switches between Julia Child's life, played by the talented Meryl Streep, and Julie Powell's life to show how both women struggled to find themselves in the kitchen. Most of us go through life in a constant search of one thing that will make us truly happy, the one thing that makes us feel alive. Julie and Julia find the art of cooking makes them feel most alive however, they find this out at different stages of their lives. The resounding theme throughout the film is that it doesn't matter how much experience you have (or lack thereof) or your age (Child and Powell were both in their 30's), just do whatever you love with passion and dedication. Never give up or give in.

The story brings an upbeat, empowering, pure love for cooking to the forefront through Julie and Julia's passion for food. The way both women get so excited and feel so accomplished through the act of cooking makes the audience feel like jumping into the kitchen themselves! I am sure the famous beef bourguignon dish that Powell cooked in the film has made hundreds of audience members go back home and try it for themselves. You could almost taste the savory beef melting in your mouth and the smell of wine simmering on the stove as you watched Powell prepare it on screen. I'm actually salivating right now just thinking about it!

No matter what others say, you must take this film for what it's worth. If you are passionate about cooking or are a fan of Julia Child, Julie & Julia will satisfy your craving for a good time. So, dust off your dinner tables, get into that kitchen, and as Mrs. Child would say "Bon Appetit"!


500 Days of Summer

From the opening credits, I had a hard time believing that I would enjoy this movie. I was extremely skeptical, as I always am, of the fact that it was an indie film and the movie poster was all sketchy/artsy and the soundtrack was just too good. I thought they were trying too hard which annoyed me. To me, indies always have a sort of unfinished feel which I despise. When I watch a movie I don't want to worry about the quality, whether acting-wise or directing-wise, that I feel most indie films lack (ex. 2 Days In Paris). I'd rather feel like I'm immersed in the story rather than watching a glorified home video.

That is my very general opinion on independent films however, not all independent films. I must say, 500 Days of Summer has helped nudge me a little closer to the line of trusting these indie films. Something good can actually come out of a low-budget film (when I talk of "indie films", I do mean the low-budget ones) without feeling forced or overly artsy. The director, Marc Webb, created a brilliant balance of a realistic story line with acting talent to satisfying the appetite of both the artsy, indie film go-seers and mainstream audiences.

The narrator of the film begins by telling the audience that "this is not a story of boy meets girl" in order to prepare us for what is come down the road. He flashed a warning sign before a very sharp turn in the story. The warning did not stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks. This is not a happy story of "boy meets girl", the narrator was right in that aspect, rather it is a story of realistic situations and human behavior. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a sympathetic good guy who gets screwed over by a charming girl, a role he is familiar with and plays very well, by involving himself in an office romance with the stunning Zooey Deschanel playing Summer Finn. The story takes the audience on a roller coaster of emotions that any intense relationship is bound to have, especially when the relationship involves a man desperately searching for "the one" and a girl glaringly afraid of commitment. There were cracks in the foundation and we were so lucky to see those cracks grow until the relationship crumbs into a pile of dust. There is light that does shine through the cracks as well- though at times very dim light.

What I enjoyed most about this film is the fact that so many people in the world go through exactly what Gordon-Levitt's character experiences and therefore can easily relate. I was even able to sympathize, in a small way, the experiences and excuses Deschanel's character, Summer, spit to her heartbroken boyfriend.

Please do not go into this film thinking it's all terrible and melodramatic. There are parts showing the exciting, fun, spontaneous moments of a loving relationship. At one point in the film, Gordon-Levitt is surrounded by people on the street singing upbeat songs of love! At that point in the film, however, is when I saw it- a small residue of someone from his past. I had a flash back during this part of the film to a scene from 10 Things I Hate About You when Heath Ledger sings "I Love You, Baby" on the stadium bleachers and the marching band joins in. At that moment, after seeing the similarity in the two scenes, I saw Heath Ledger hidden behind the eyes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Maybe it was just the scene, but I felt it was more. Something in Gordon-Levitt's eyes made me smile warmly at the thought that somehow Heath Ledger would continue to live in a small sort of way. It was a great thing. A great moment, at least worth seeing 500 Days of Summer if not for any other reason just to see a glimpse of someone who reminds you a tiny bit of that legendary actor, Heath Ledger. As it turns out, I am now a Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan.



Yes Man

When I first heard Jim Carrey had a new movie out called Yes Man where he has to say yes to everything, I thought, "Doesn't he already have a movie like that out called Liar, Liar?". Thankfully, it was different enough from the 1997 film Liar, Liar to not be a complete waste of time.
Okay, so Yes Man may sound similar to Liar, Liar as Jim Carrey is the main character in both and can't say "no" when asked a question. But, it's also not the overly hyper 1997 Jim Carrey that we are seeing in Yes Man. Rather, it is a more developed and mature Carrey who still has that bit of charm we all love.
The little treat embedded in this mediocre film is the love interest played by Zooey Deschanel. As a huge fan of hers, I was anticipating a song from her. I was not disappointed. Though the song Deschanel sings, as lead singer in a wacky indie band, is a little out there, her voice is so captivating and pure. I'm sorry to say that it was the highlight of the film. Jim Carrey was lucky to have been saved by such a talented co-star as Zooey Deschanel, otherwise the film would not even be worth watching.


I Love You, Man

Paul Rudd, Paul Rudd. You are oh so hilarious...and so darn cute.
The problem with I Love You, Man is that it has two of my current most favorite comedian actors starring in it. Oh, wait! That's not a problem at all!
This is a story about a man named Peter (Rudd) who is engaged to a beautiful woman, Zooey (Jones). However, when it comes down to actually planning the wedding Zooey discovers Peter does not have any male friends for their bridal party. This problem forces Peter to find a man he can call his friend at which point Sydney, played by Jason Segel, comes into the picture.
Unfortunately, Peter is not used to being friends with a guy and puts himself in a number of hilarious awkward situations in which he is left making a fool of himself.
The chemistry between Jason Segel and Paul Rudd is uncanny. The uncomfortable silences, the awkward comments, and the self-conscious glances are absolutely hilarious. The best part of all of these situations Peter (Rudd) finds himself in, is that it brings him to the level of the audience as we have all been in a place like this before. A place in which we want so badly to be liked as much as we like someone else, whether in a relationship of love or friendship. I Love You, Man is a great story about two men finding each other.


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Okay, we should just be honest. This film was majorly cheesy. It reeked of cheesiness. But that's the fun of Indiana Jones, is it not? Hm. I think for this film there was a little bit that was just a little too over-the-top Hollywood film-making. Mutt finding a snake for Indiana to grab onto in order to be rescued from the sinking sand? Mutt flying through the air on vines with monkeys? Come on, now. But, if you're a die-hard Indy fan you can't help but get goosebumps when you hear that theme music playing. Of course not. And myself, not even being a huge Indiana Jones fan, got goosebumps and clapped excitedly when I heard the theme song. You gotta love it.
Side note: I greatly respect Shia LaBeouf as an actor, he can do no wrong in my eyes. So, my rating is biased.


The Forbidden Kingdom

After viewing many of the summer blockbusters (Iron Man, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) with an overall disappointment, The Forbidden Kingdom starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li was a breath of fresh air. The martial arts in the movie, though censored for young viewers, was great. The director definitely made a point to indulge in the fight scene between Chan and Li lasting approximately ten minutes. The overall feel of the film was a fun and entertaining tale of warriors. I would say that Michael Angarano was mis-cast. You could tell he was struggling with the martial arts choreography which obviously did not come naturally to him. He also lacked the enthusiasm and spunk that would have had a better chemistry with Chan and Li's personalities. However, if you enjoy martial arts and are looking to be entertained, I would recommend this film.