Inside Pulse » Jennifer Garner A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:00:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Jennifer Garner Dallas Buyers Club – Review Sun, 10 Nov 2013 14:00:54 +0000
Keep enjoying the “McConaissance”

A few years ago Matthew McConaughey’s career as an actor stagnated. Far removed from the days where he was plucked from obscurity to star in a film adaptation of John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, McConaughey would become pigeonholed as the guy in movie advertisements as arm candy to a gal who was looking to lose a guy in ten days. Morphing into the American equivalent to Hugh Grant, starring in a bunch of romantic comedies with an interchangeable starlet, his career path would change as the direct result of another fellow Texan and his emotional problems.

In 2007, Owen Wilson had a rumored suicide attempt and battled depression. Speculation was that the depression was brought on by Wilson’s on again-off again relationship with Kate Hudson, an actress who would occupy the “interchangeable starlet” role alongside McConaughey a time or two. With Wilson in no condition to star in friend Ben Stiller’s comedy Tropic Thunder, McConaughey stepped up in relief in a supporting role. Though small and overshadowed by the likes of Robert Downey Jr.’s “dude playing a dude disguised as another dude,” and Tom Cruise as the Diet Coke-chugging, hot-headed studio executive, it was enough to make producers take notice. But it wouldn’t be until 2011 until the “McConaissance” officially commenced.

Enjoying the type of rejuvenated career that befell actor Ben Affleck when he took to directing, Matthew McConaughey has quickly built a film resume that proves he’s more than a pretty face and arm candy for the starlet of the moment.

It would be easy to contend that his latest film, Dallas Buyers Club, is his attempt to Oscar bait his critics. McConaughey undergoes a physical transformation that looks to serve as a means to deliver a performance that shoots for awards attention and nothing more. But here’s the thing: The film isn’t a maudlin melodrama, investing in shallow theatrics. Yes, McConaughey dropped fifty pounds for the docudrama, and yes the story hits on those emotional beats that goes with a Man vs. Big Business scenario, but Jean-Marc Vallée’s film is an inspirational one anchored by a pair of strong, meaningful performances.

The setting is Texas, 1985. Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) is an electrician and part-time rodeo bull rider. A wild man who enjoys drinking, snorting, and screwing the latest bar floozy, he receives a lifestyle wake-up call in the form of being diagnosed with AIDS. T-cells in the single digits instead of the 500-1000 count range spell Ron’s demise, yet he remains in denial even when the doctor tells him he has 30 days to live. Going through the five stages of grief – including bargaining, not through prayer or inside a confessional but at a strip club – Ron hopes his emphatic pleas to Dr. Saks (Jennifer Garner) will get him into the AZT drug testing study for a chance of survival. Refused, Ron relies on his wiles turning to the black market for treatment. He eventually ends up in Mexico, where a once-licensed U.S. physician (Griffin Dunne) educates Ron about unapproved vials of synthetic protein and pills that encourage a natural fight against the disease, outside the hands of the Food and Drug Administration. Seeing the potential in being able to manage the deadly virus, Ron organizes the Dallas Buyers Club, a small business enterprise that charges money for memberships as a way to avoid legal entanglements. That is until the Club becomes too large and big government intervenes.

Dallas Buyers Club sets up Ron’s story in a sly way. Opening up on Ron and friends gambling, there’s brief discussion about the recent revelation about Rock Hudson’s AIDS exposure, where the star of such films as Giant and A Farewell to Arms, and figured to be a real man’s man was revealed to be homosexual. Such acute description made many think AIDS was a homosexual plague. So when Ron gets his diagnosis, it is foremost a medical emergency but it also becomes a crisis of reputation. Here you have a man whose drinking buddies alienate him on the perceived notion that he sleeps with men.

The episode launches Ron to learn as much as he can about a disease that he thought only affected homosexuals. Scanning through microfiche and books and articles about Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Ron ascertains how he contacted the disease while also realizing the enormity of his current battle to live.

Dallas Buyers Club contains subject matter that some will have difficulty digesting. It is a bittersweet film of discomfort – especially Matthew McConaughey’s drastic weight loss. His Ron Woodroof character is far from a saint, with his fornicating ways leading to his contracted disease. He also has rage issues and dogged homophobia, the latter of which comes into play when be begins the Club with his business partner, Rayon (Jared Leto), a transgender supporter, who he meets when admitted to the hospital. Yet, the story turns from just being about Ron’s plight to become a story about designing an enterprise that infringes upon the medical establishment and FDA regulators.

As if it wasn’t already apparent, the film’s greatest asset is Matthew McConaughey and his transformation into a gaunt cowboy for the role. His acting is strong but still includes a few over-the-top notice me moments. Tangling with mortality and meddling government intervention looking to put a stop to the Dallas Buyers Club, you can just see the anger blister from McConaughey’s pores. Also of note is Jared Leto. His supporting role is pretty much a stock character, but he provides Rayon with some depth and idiosyncrasy.

If given a fighting chance an individual can do incredible things. This is the core of Dallas Buyers Club. Ron Woodroof’s refusal of submit and move forward with life – where 30 days turns into years of fighting and failing – is celebrated to the highest degree with Matthew McConaughey’s stunning portrayal. See it and you’re likely to agree.

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer(s): Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
Notable Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts, Griffin Dunne×120.jpg

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DVD Review: Butter Wed, 26 Dec 2012 15:09:42 +0000 I’ve always been a big fan of Jennifer Garner, and her work in the comedy Butter once again proves why. I hadn’t heard much of anything about Butter when I watched it, and I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of chuckle-worthy jokes that it delivered. This isn’t a laugh-out, sidesplitting comedy that you’ll be quoting at parties. It is however an enjoyable, lighthearted way to spend 90 minutes, and sometimes that’s all you’re looking for.

Right off the bat it’s clear that Butter is a satire of the world it’s portraying. It’s not an over-the-top satire, but the people involved are caricatures, and they all stay within their lines of what you’d expect them to do, and it works. Garner plays Laura Pickler, wife of butter-carving champion Bob Pickler (Ty Burrell), and the one who keeps the butter bus moving in small-town Iowa. She runs a butter camp, makes sure to continuously pimp out her husband’s abilities, and constantly pushes his name out there for jobs such as governor or mayor. Everything changes, however, when the higher ups in the butter carving community ask Bob not to compete after 15 years of success, and give someone else a shot.

Not one to back down, Laura takes it upon herself to enter, and keep the butter carving crown in the Pickler family, much to Bob, and his daughter Kaitlen’s (Ashley Greene) chagrin. Thinking it will be an easy win, Laura scoffs at any competition that’s thrown her way – that is until Destiny (Yara Shahidi) shows up. Destiny is a 10-year-old African-American foster child, who has just been placed with, as she puts it, “The whitest of the white people,” Jill and Ethan (Alicia Silverstone and Rob Corddry). Looking to find something she’s good at, Destiny decides to try out butter carving, which is something she seems to be a natural.

There’s lots of fun to be had here if you’re in the mood for it, though if you’re not, Butter will likely turn you off quite quickly. Garner plays Laura perfectly, with her never-back-down attitude, along with an “I’m better than everybody else” demeanor. She won’t take no for an answer, and keeps doing what she knows she’s good at, and that’s taking control of any situation she’s put in. This is the case when she finds out Bob is cheating on her with a stripper (Olivia Wilde), which she solves in the same manner any rational woman would.

The chemistry between the cast is what really drives this film home. The script, written by Jason Micallef, is solid, and the jokes are timed well enough that they usually aren’t expected. The reactions of Garner are spot on, and really add humour to many of the scenes – especially one between her and Wilde at the butter carving contest entry table. Speaking of Wilde, she’s got some great deliveries here as well, and nothing screams sexy like a stripper riding away on a bicycle in anger.

Burrell is perfectly cast as Bob, simply due to his ability to deliver a submissive type feeling around a stronger woman (much like he does at times on Modern Family) while also being passive aggressive in his own way. Again, he and Wilde have a great scene at the strip club, as she tries to get more money out of him, and he tries to feel an emotional connection to someone on some level.

Shahidi, Silverstone and Corddry are all really good together, and really make their characters feel like they’d be a family that would work. Corddry and Shahidi have a really touching scene outside of the butter contest entry, where Ethan tells Destiny why it’s good to imagine everything possible that could go wrong in a situation before you get into it.

There’s not much depth to Butter, but it works nonetheless. It’s a lighthearted fare, that’s easy to watch and fun to sit through. It’s not overly memorable, but at the same time, the feeling that it was enjoyable while you watched it remains, which may up the replay value, and overall satisfaction with the film. Still, even if it’s a one and done for some, it’s an entertaining one that gets some laughs, hits the right notes, and never tries to hard to be something its not.

The DVD transfer of the film looks good, with lively colours that help emphasize the tone of the story. There’s never any moments where things are overly dark, or shadowy, as even the night scenes are lit up well, which all help reflect the lighthearted feel and atmosphere. The sound transfers works well also, with the music and dialogue all coming through nicely.

There are two small special features found on the disc, with neither really being worthwhile. Though some may want to check out the gag reel, if that’s your sort of thing – even though this one in particular is lacking.

Deleted/Extended Scenes – As usual, each scene found here really would’ve slowed the pacing, or added unnecessary time to the film. There’s one scene in particular, with Jill and Ethan talking about how crazy the whole competition is after someone spray paints a Youtube link on their fence. Jill then expresses her frustration, and uncertainty as to whether or not she can handle being a parent, and the scene ends with the camera going over the fence to reveal Destiny having heard everything. Thankfully none of this was put into the film, as not only is it incredibly melodramatic and cliché, but it’s totally unnecessary and tries to add a deeper meaning than is needed for a film like this.

Gag Reel – This is roughly five minutes in length, and there aren’t any overly funny gags here, so it’ll likely be a pass for most after the first thirty seconds.

Butter is quite packed with starpower, so much so to the point where I forgot to mention Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, who plays Laura’s kooky ex-boyfriend, Boyd. While his role is minimal, he’s got a couple of great deliveries, especially when he’s praying. Overall, Butter is definitely a movie worth checking out if you’re in the mood for something deliciously fun that won’t clog your arteries.

Alliance Films presents Butter. Directed by: Jim Field Smith. Written by: Jason Micallef. Starring: Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, Ashley Greene, Ty Burrell, Yara Shahidi, Alicia Silverstone, Rob Corddry, Hugh Jackman. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released: December 21, 2012. Available at×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: Catch Me If You Can Tue, 25 Dec 2012 13:00:29 +0000 There’s something incredibly exhilarating about living the dangerous life of a conman vicariously through Frank Abagnale Jr. for roughly two and a half hours, without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in Catch Me If You Can, a story that’s based off true events, which sees Frank being chased by the FBI (well, one agent in particular) for years on end before finally being captured. Don’t worry, there’s no spoiler there, as he’s already in prison when the film begins; and besides, the film isn’t about the inevitable conclusion – but the chase it takes us to get there.

Part of the magic of Catch Me If You Can is the time period in which it’s set, as the story takes place in the 1960s. The film was made over a decade ago, and even then it was amazing to watch how easy it was for Frank to pull off some of these cons, simply due to the lack of technology, and the pure smarts (and grapefruits the size of…well, as big as they get) on Frank’s part. After his family loses everything, and his mother divorces his father, Frank decides to run away from home instead of having to decide which parent to choose to live with, and in doing so, all but finalizes the end of his parent’s love in his own mind.

On the run, Frank takes a checkbook his father gave him, and also begins to hone some of the conman tricks his father taught him as well. Of course, his father was a smooth talker, but nowhere as natural at the con game as his son would become. At first it’s not easy for Frank, however, as his checks continuously bounce, and he’s constantly being thrown out of hotels. Needless to say, he realizes he needs to get a job, and the most obvious job for a kid with little education and no credentials to his name is to of course become a pilot – and that’s just what Frank does.

It may sound ridiculous – and it kind of is – but it totally works, and it’s even somewhat understandable as to how Frank was able to slip by all that time without ever being caught. It’s quite incredible actually, and immensely entertaining to watch unfold, as the pilot con is just one of many that he pulls off in fantastic fashion.

Tom Hanks co-stars as FBI agent Carl Hanratty, (“That’s Hanratty!” as he states multiple times throughout) the man who eventually brings down young Mr. Abagnale after years of tracking him. Hanks and DiCaprio have wonderful chemistry, even though they spend a majority of the film apart. There’s a bond between them, and with how young Frank is (he pulled off all of this before the age of 21!), Hanratty can be viewed on some level as a parental figure of sorts; of course, punishment for Frank in his eyes is federal prison, and not the weekend in his room, but I digress.

Steven Spielberg directs the film, and he nails everything on every level, though who would expect anything less from the man. Spielberg and his crew capture the era perfectly, with sets so simple, yet elaborate and natural feeling, that you’re never broken out of the film until it wants you to be.

The pacing of the film works incredibly well, as the time just flies by while watching. We know early on that Frank is captured, so the story leading up to that point is told through flashbacks that jump just often enough between the past and the present where he’s captured, that it all flows smoothly. And even though we know he’s caught, the film is structured so well that it still leaves the viewer guessing as to where it is that Frank must eventually slip up, while also wondering what this resourceful young man may have up his sleeve even at the point of his capture.

Catch Me If You Can is an incredibly well made film, which really sucks you into the era and the story. Frank is such a likeable kid, that even though he’s stealing and conning everyone around him, we know deep down he means well, and isn’t looking to hurt anybody. It’s because of this that his journey is fun, and an enjoyable ride to take alongside him.

There are some moments that lack an emotional tug that would’ve helped make the scene a bit stronger; however, that’s the life Frank chose to lead, and the journey we chose to take with him – no time for emotional baggage, because all it’ll do is slow you down, and if you slow down, you get caught. That doesn’t mean there’s no emotion to be found, it’s just not hammered in, because that’s not the film’s style. And as lame and predictable as the line is: do yourself a favour and “catch” this movie.

The Blu-ray transfer for this film looks great, and the sound is just as good. Both combine to make this a wonderful Blu-ray transfer for one of Spielberg’s lesser-known films, and one definitely worth picking up.

The special features for Catch Me If You Can show their age much more than the film does, with some fullscreen pieces being found here. Still, that doesn’t detract from how solid the information that comes from them are – it just makes them a little more hideous to look at while taking it all in.

Catch Me If You Can: Behind the Camera – This feature is 17 minutes in length, and has interviews with Spielberg talking about why he got on board to direct it, as well as the real Frank Abagnale on set with Spielberg, and various other production notes of how this film came to be.

CAST Me If You Can: The Casting of the Film – Here we five interviews intertwined with clips from the film about why certain actors chose to came on board. It’s only six minutes in total, but there’s some bits of information that are quite interesting – such as the fact that DiCaprio being the one who pretty much got Spielberg on board, when DiCaprio never even thought he was an option.

Scoring: Catch Me If You CanThis is John Williams talking for five minutes about scoring the film, and how they’ve worked on 20 films together, which is quite an accomplishment. Though, can you really blame Spielberg for the repeat business?

Frank Abagnale: Between Reality and Fiction – The thing I find most frustrating about these special features (besides the black bars from hell) is the lack of a “Play All” button at the top of these multi-featurette sections. Having to constantly click on each bit, then having the screen need to adjust from the HD menu to the SD format the bonus features are shot in gets tiresome. Regardless, this section of features sees Spielberg and DiCaprio talk about Frank, the person, and why his story was perfect for a movie.

The FBI Perspective – This featurette is seven minutes in length and shows how a former FBI agent functioned as a technical advisor on set to help advise the script for authenticity, as well as how the agents conduct themselves and so forth.

Catch Me If You Can: In Closing – Here is a quick five minute feature where we hear from the usual suspects above, but also Frank Abagnale who sits down and talks about the movie, how it reflects most events in his life, and how Spielberg was tasked with taking five years of his life and fitting it all into a two hour movie.

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It’s very likely that when most people think Spielberg, they don’t think Catch Me If You Can. This isn’t surprising, but that doesn’t make the film any less great. The acting is superb, the set design and direction is fantastic, and the story and pacing are effortless to watch. This is definitely a film you don’t want to miss. Highly Recommended.

Dreamworks Pictures presents Catch Me If You Can. Directed by: Steven Spielberg. Written by: Jeff Nathanson. Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken, Martin Sheen, Nathalie Baye, Amy Adams, James Brolin, Jennifer Garner. Running time: 141 minutes. Rating: PG. Released: December 4, 2012. Available at×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: Butter Sat, 22 Dec 2012 17:42:03 +0000 Butter barely crossed $100k in box office grosses and for a good reason: it’s awful on every conceivable level.]]> When you look at the sheer talent involved in making Butter it’s fairly difficult to see how this film had a tiny release into theatres before being shunted into theatres. You don’t assemble a cast involving Jennifer Garner, Ty Burrell and Hugh Jackman (among others) without usually garnering a fairly substantial release. It’s odd on the surface, especially considering the film is a comedy, that a film with so much going in would get that treatment with a fairly loaded cast.

And then you watch the film and realize it’s because it’s absolutely rancid.

Butter follows the competition in a butter carving competition in Iowa that doubles as a sort of political satire. Unfortunately it’s idea of satire mainly involves painting those from small towns in the Midwest as ignorant racists with an IQ that would border on the double figures at most.

Laura (Garner) is the wife of Iowa’s best butter carver (Burrell). When he’s forced to resign from the competition she decides to step up in his place. He’s also in love with a stripper (Olivia Wilde) who enters the competition just to mess with her as they’re both competing for Burrell as their “man.” Throw in a 10-year-old butter carving prodigy (Yara Shahidi) into the mix, alongside Hugh Jackman as Laura’s dimwitted ex-boyfriend & accomplice, and you have what’s supposed to be a satire of modern politics but with butter instead of the power to shape government.

Unfortunately it’s not all that much of a satire as opposed to a series of bad jokes that just don’t stop. It’s painfully unfunny at its peak, downright insulting to anyone with half of a brain at most points, as this is the sort of film that thinks it’s funny and opts to keep repeating the same type of joke ad nausea. After a while it’s an endurance test to try and keep watching,

Butter barely crossed $100k in box office grosses and for a good reason: it’s awful on every conceivable level.

The usual Gag Reel and Deleted/Extended Scenes are included and don’t add much back to the film.

In a year where comedy has hit any number of high points, Butter is the absolute bottom. Recommendation to avoid.

Anchor Bay presents Butter. Directed by Jim Field Smith. Written by Jason Micallef. Running time: 90 minutes. Starring Ty Burrell, Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, Ashley Greene, Alicia Silverstone, Rob Corddry. Rated R. Released: December 4, 201212. Available at×120.jpg

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Jennifer Garner Gets Her Inner Michelle Bachmann On In Butter Trailer Mon, 27 Aug 2012 10:00:15 +0000 A trailer for Jennifer Garner’s quirky comedy Butter has a trailer.

Plot Summary: Set in the highly competitive world of championship butter carving, “Butter” blends social commentary, outrageous comedy and heartfelt drama in telling the story of the ambitious Laura Pickler (Jennifer Garner), the self-anointed First Lady of Butter Carving. Refusing to accept that her husband (Ty Burrell) wants to step down after his 15-year run as the “Iowa State Butter Carving Champion,” and therefore end the Pickler family’s reign in the spotlight, Laura takes a stab at the title herself. But her bid for glory is complicated when two unlikely contestants enter the race – one, her husband’s hard-living mistress (Olivia Wilde), and the other a 10-year-old foster child named Destiny (Yara Shahidi). Enlisting the help of her high school sweetheart, Boyd (Hugh Jackman), Laura will stop at nothing to be crowned champion, even if it means resorting to sabotage. Part political satire, part Capra-esque comedy, “Butter” is a story about what it means to win at all costs and against all odds.×120.jpg

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New Trailer For The Odd Life Of Timothy Green With Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Garner Arrives Mon, 14 May 2012 08:00:28 +0000 After having its release date shuffled around a handful of times, a new trailer for The Odd Life of Timothy Green has been released in anticipation of a fall release date. You can watch it below.

Academy Award®–nominated director/writer Peter Hedges (“Dan in Real Life,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”) brings enchantment to the screen with “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” an inspiring, magical story about a happily married couple, Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), who can’t wait to start a family but can only dream about what their child would be like. When young Timothy (CJ Adams) shows up on their doorstep one stormy night, Cindy and Jim—and their small town of Stanleyville—learn that sometimes the unexpected can bring some of life’s greatest gifts.

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Jennifer Garner Wins a Baby in The Odd Life of Timothy Green Trailer Wed, 10 Aug 2011 07:00:49 +0000 Juno and Warrior adopt a child of their own]]> After a sterling term wanting to adopt Ellen Page’s child in Juno, Jennifer Garner is back on the adoption circuit with The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

Plot Summary: Academy Award–nominated director/writer Peter Hedges (“Dan in Real Life,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”) brings enchantment to the screen with “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” an inspiring, magical story about a happily married couple, Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), who can’t wait to start a family but can only dream about what their child would be like. When young Timothy (CJ Adams) shows up on their doorstep one stormy night, Cindy and Jim—and their small town of Stanleyville—learn that sometimes the unexpected can bring some of life’s greatest gifts.

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Disney Sets Release Dates For Two Marvel Projects Mon, 08 Aug 2011 18:35:12 +0000 Disney, which already has films like Lone Ranger and Frankenweenie on its docket for 2012, and Oz: The Great and Powerful and sequels to Thor, Iron Man and Monsters Inc. lined up for 2013, has dated some upcoming titled and untitled film properties for 2012 through 2014.

Peter Hedges’ (Pieces of April) The Odd Life of Timothy Green will open August 15, 2012, despite the fact that the movie is in the can and the trailer is already done. I understand the August release will attempt to attract those who saw Julie & Julia and Eat Pray Love (both released in August) in recent years, but since both lead actors, Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton, have films opening in the next few months, a spring release would have made more sense. Disney could have even gone with the tag line: “April showers bring May children.”

An untitled project from Henry Selick (Coraline) will drop into theaters on October 4, 2013.

Two Marvel movies have been dated for May 16, 2014 and June 27, 2014. Let the speculation begin as to what the two projects will be. Could we see a Captain America sequel even though I speculated a 2015 release at best and Dr. Strange?

Two weeks after the first 2014 Marvel release hits theaters, May 30, 2014 will be the date that a currently untitled Disney/Pixar title gets a release. The last time Pixar had a movie open on May 30th it was Finding Nemo.×120.png

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Blu-ray Review: Arthur Mon, 08 Aug 2011 01:00:15 +0000 Arthur is a rare example of a remake trumping the original in virtually every regard.]]> Every once in a while a movie takes you by surprise, delivering laughs or scares where you may not have expected any. Arthur is just such a film. I popped the Blu-ray into my player with an open mind, but the sour taste of the original Arthur from 1981 still stuck in my mouth from the night before. It may sound blasphemous to some, but where Russell Brand tops Dudley Moore is in his humor: Brand is actually funny! Arthur is a rare example of a remake trumping the original in virtually every regard.

Anyone who has sat through the original Arthur with Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, and John Gielgud will know what to expect with this remake, aside from a few minor changes. Here, Arthur (Russell Brand) is the son of an obnoxiously wealthy businesswoman. His nurse, Hobson (Helen Mirren), has been by his side his entire life, and has grown to become his best friend. One day, his mother decides that he should settle down and marry Susan (Jennifer Garner), a woman that will help keep her company’s positive image. Arthur has no interest in Susan, and refuses the marriage. His mother then gives him an ultimatum: marry Susan, or be cut off from the family money. In order to keep the money that he has grown up with, he agrees to the marriage. In the meantime, he meets Naomi (Greta Gerwig), a non-licensed tour guide, and begins to fall for her. Arthur is left with the difficult decision of choosing love or money.

On-screen chemistry can take a film a long way, and with Arthur, it’s the reason to watch. Russell Brand, Greta Gerwig, and Helen Mirren share a special connection, and when these three – or any combination of two of them – are together on-screen, you feel the energy. At points, Brand’s largely improvised performance reaches near mumblecore levels, as he is constantly throwing out one-liners and talking over, and under, other people’s lines. In some cases, this wouldn’t work, but Brand and the rest of the cast make it seem natural, and the flow is incredible.

It’s difficult to pick which actor performed the best out of the three mentioned above. Mirren was damn near perfect as the stiff, stuck-up, sarcastic Hobson, and Brand plays a witty drunk with ease. Gerwig, on the other hand, plays “normal” about as well as I’ve ever seen it done in a romantic comedy, and really blew me away. I fell in love with her character for the 110-minutes the movie was on. She is really something special in this film: charming, cute, sympathetic, and smart. If I were giving away the award for Best Actor in Arthur, Gerwig would steal it.

Arthur’s downfalls – and there are a few – are the same things that most romcoms suffer from: predictability, and some annoying supporting characters. The story doesn’t do anything to set itself apart from either the remake, or the rest of the films in this genre, and the plot plays out exactly as you’d expect. For such a strong film, I didn’t want such a perfect, pre-packaged final act; I wanted something to put Arthur’s plot above the crowd.

If the scenes with Nick Nolte, playing Susan’s father, were cut out of the film completely, the movie would have been better off. Nolte is given a terrible character, and is as unfunny as humanly possible. I have no idea why his scenes were in the film other than to appease fans of the original. After Nolte’s first scene ended, I was left asking, “What the hell did we just watch”? His character is painfully bad, and a complete waste of time. Jennifer Garner as Susan is typical Jennifer Garner. She isn’t a great actor, but she keeps finding herself in these romcoms. This time she plays the villain, and her performance is kind of funny, and decent enough. Needless to say, she isn’t remarkable, and I would have loved to see an up-and-comer (like Greta Gerwig) tackle the role.

Fans of romantic comedies owe it to themselves to check out Arthur. The film carries a different tone than the original, but for my money, it’s much more memorable, and hilarious. If you haven’t enjoyed Russell Brand in his past performances in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, or Get Him to the Greek, Arthur will do little to change your mind. The on-screen chemistry is stellar, though, and Greta Gerwig plays one of the finest leading ladies in a rom-com I’ve seen in ages. Arthur doesn’t tread any new ground, it just makes the rest of the pack look weaker.

Arthur looks great on this Blu-ray release. The colors are bright and vibrant, and the detail is excellent. The film is given a 1080p widescreen presentation with its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio left in tact. The audio is on par with the excellent video. Admittedly, the audio is never tested too terribly much, but the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track handles the music and dialogue with ease. There is little to complain about on the A/V side of this release as Warner Bros. Pictures has done a great job.

As for special features, this Blu-ray disc has enough to please most fans. The first feature, and the only behind-the-scenes look at the film, is Arthur Unsupervised! (11:17). This really reveals how improvisational the entire film was. Russell Brand comes off as the number one funny man on the set, and this fun and professional atmosphere bleeds its way into the film. Then there are some deleted and extended scenes under the label additional footage (10:21). There are seven scenes in total, but none of them are too exciting. It’s obvious why these were cut out of the final film. Finally, we have a gag reel (1:21). If you enjoyed the film, you will like this feature because it is more of the same. Unfortunately a lot of the footage is from the final cutting of the film, and with a run time of less than one and a half minutes, there is not nearly enough for fans to sink his or her teeth into. As shocking as it is, I just wanted more Russell Brand.

This combo-pack also includes a DVD, and digital copy of the film.

Arthur is an average film made great by some wonderful performances. This Blu-ray disc contains pretty shallow extras, but the inclusion of the DVD and digital copy is a nice benefit for some. The video and audio quality are top-notch. There is no doubt that fans of Russell Brand or romantic comedies will enjoy Arthur, and it comes highly recommended.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents Arthur. Directed by: Jason Winer. Starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, and Jennifer Garner. Written by: Peter Baynham, based on a story by Steve Gordon. Running time: 110 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on Blu-ray: July 15, 2011. Available at×398-e1312763606842-120×120.jpg

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Jennifer Garner gets new franchise in Miss Marple Tue, 29 Mar 2011 15:00:12 +0000 Jennifer Garner’s first attempt at a franchise failed miserably in the comic book film Elektra. Disney is hoping that lightning strikes this time as Garner will be the face of their new attempt at a franchise in Miss Marple according to Deadline Hollywood.

A longtime literary character from Agatha Christie, Miss Marple is an elderly British woman who goes around solving crimes. Spanning 12 novels, eight films and five seasons of a television show, the film will be a starring vehicle for the former Alias star and re-shaped/re-booted with her in mind.

What does this mean? Garner is a solid actress who just hasn’t found a solid franchise to call her own. She’s also not a draw at the box office yet but with the Disney machine behind her she could have a hit film to call her own. The problems come in looking at the character’s “transformation” for a new audience.

While radically changing a beloved character to suit her, from an elderly British woman to an American in her 30s, there’s plenty of potential in there for something good. And lots for bad things, too, as changing the character from a sort of elderly spinster who solves crimes to a hot, young detective type takes away from the character in the same manner that turning Twilight into a Blade rip-off would’ve. A lot of it depends on where Disney takes it from here.

It does reek of Disney taking a good formula and trying to make it “hip” instead of casting someone like Helen Mirren and keeping the franchise as is.×120.jpg

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