blake lively

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A Tale of Two Films: “Magic Mike” and “Savages”

One of my best friends, Cortney and I had a movie-going Friday night and saw a double feature - Magic Mike, which I had been anticipating because, you know, I’m a warm-blooded woman and the thought of a movie showcasing hot male strippers is both attractive and hilarious to me, and Savages, the latest (and my first) film from legendary director Olivier Stone. These two were also on my list on what to look out for this summer. I would like to confess here that yes, we did only pay for Magic Mike and movie hopped to Savages. Cortney introduced me to this last year and if we are ever caught, she is the one I’m blaming. I’m a good girl so only a big, corrupting force would ever persuade me to do something like that ::sly smile:: Anyway, on to the mini-reviews…

Do See: Magic Mike (Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughy, Joe Manganiello, Adam Rodriguez)… especially if you like seeing attractive men in various state of undress. Serious, this movie is a must see if only to witness female movie-goers cat-calling like they were ACTUALLY in a strip club. I liked the movie because it was fun, even when it tried to be a untold tale of the unglamorousness world of male stripping (you know, the drug use, body issues, vanity, the corruption of fast money… the penis pumps). The movie follows two guys - “Magic” Mike (Tatum), a guy who has been in the game for six years but whose true passion is designing and making furniture (yes, really) and Adam “The Kid” who Mike gets introduces into the stripper world and mentors him to be a star performer. The fun moments come when we see snippets of the cast of characters that make up the elite dancers of the Tampa strip club. Through glimpses into wardrobe changes (uhh, strippers sow their own thongs?!?) and different costumes and characters (I will never look at a firemen or policeman the same way again), I laughed so hard I cried alittle. Not one of Tatum’s best turns as an actor though and the less romantic spin they introduced with Adam’s sister did nothing for me, but I enjoyed the movie nevertheless. The MVP award goes to Matthew McConaughey would was so great as the ex-dancer turned strip club owner Dallas. Dallas took himself so seriously it made for some great moments on screen. His outfit in the above picture says it all. I have seen many articles (though I haven’t read them) discussing how men would also enjoy this movie but I dare anyone to try to get their boyfriends into this one; I was alittle embarrassed for them. But in the best way possible. 

Don’t See: Savages (Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek) I don’t have a ton of experience with Olivier Stone movies and so not a big fan of his work (this may be strange but he doesn’t exactly dabble in my film genres of choice) so I may be in the minority here on my thoughts about this film as I was not too impressed. Savages is a film meant to shock, disgust, and dismay (as I have heard is little bit of Oliver Stone’s style). Based on the book by Don Winslow, the movie follows an independent mary jane business headed by best friends, the pacifist Ben (Aaron Johnson) and the militant Chon (Taylor Kitsch), which becomes in jeopardy when a big time Mexican cartel lead by the widow Elena (Salma Hayek) moves in and want to take over. Since Ben and Chon do not comply with their requests, the cartel’s enforcer (Benicio del Toro) kidnap the guys’ shared girlfriend “O” (short for Ophelia, played by Black Lively) and holds her hostage. With the help of the local DEA agent the guys have in their pockets (John Travolta), they scheme to get her back. Explosions, guns, and gangster bravado really does nothing for me as a movie watcher; What I was really intrigued me enough to see this movie was the three-way romantic relationship between the main characters - Ben, John, and Ophelia. I was more interested how these people fit into each others lives and complete each other in a way to make this relationship work. The film only hints at their dependency on each other; I wish it would have done more in order for me to care more about these characters and really invest in their plights. Disappointingly Blake Lively didn’t bring that same special something to her role as O as I was hoping for; she was more from Serena from “Gossip Girl” than Krista from The Town. The best part of the movie was Benicio del Toro who gave new meaning to the term sadist and always seems to deliver in my opinion. Oh, and I hear that somebody thought it was a good idea to change the movie ending. If anything, I wish I would have read the book and skipped the movie, which I sure was better written and more exploratory on the characters. Uma Thurman should be happy that she was edited out of this one. 

Top Five: Jeremy Renner Films

To me, Jeremy Renner is just plain exceptional. I first took notice of him in a couple of independent movies only a few years ago, but already he has joined the ranks of Leo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ryan Gosling as one of my favorite actors of my time. I think that’s saying alot for a man who has struggled in the acting game for so long and has only just began to have his big break in Hollywood around the age of 40. He’s comes across so intense, so focused, and so consumed with his characters that you get lost in them too. He has consistently churned out some many really powerful performances in such a short time, it’s incredible. He is definitely one my list of actors I hope to meet one day. I only hope that he doesn’t get too “Hollywood” and stick close to the independent roots that have served him so well. So here’s to Jeremy Renner and his many great futures performances I’m anticipating (Bourne Legacy!). I give you my top five favorite Jeremy Renner performances to date. I highly suggest anyone of these movies for your viewing pleasure.

#5: The Avengers (2012)
I just saw this movie this weekend, and while it can be said that Renner didn’t have a big role as Hawkeye in this box office giant, he was credible as a loner and trained assassin, intensely determined, and created for his enigmatic character enough intrigue that I wouldn’t mind seeing in a Hawkeye (and Black Widow) sequel (or maybe more aptly, a prequel).

#4: Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (2010)
Enter semi-suave Jeremy Renner as an IMF agent initially posing as an mild-mannered analyst. He was a great on-screen match for Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, holding his own against this iconic character. For me, he brought the cool and the ease that balanced out the group dynamic and was probably the best thing the film had going for it.

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Must Watch List (Summer)

I have to say I have only seen one maybe two movies in the theaters in the last two months or so, an absolute rarity for me. It have been pretty much due to the lack of new movies I have been interested in enough to see. Well that is all about to change next month with the slew of summer releases that are on the horizon and I couldn’t be happier. Actually, I’m ecstatic. Thanks to the good people over at EW who continue to publish awesome movie calendars so people like me can plan their theater outings. With almost 15 movies between May and August, this will be my busiest summer yet:

May 4

The Avengers: Yep, I’m planning to assemble with some friends and see this. I will just miss seeing it at Tribeca and will but in Europe on opening weekend but I’m rushing back to see this. If you are like me and missed some of the origin movies like Thor, AMC theaters are running a Marvel movie marathon on May 3rd!


June 1

Killer Joe: When a debt puts a young man (Emile Hirsch)’s life in danger, he decides to hire a contract killer, Killer Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), to kill his evil mother in order to collect the insurance money. No trailer yet but this dark indie comedy premiered at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival to good reviews, and I think it would be worth seeing.


June 8

Safety Not Guaranteed: This is my sweet and genuine comedy pick of the summer. The film is actually inspired by a real internet meme of a newspaper classified ad by a person seeking a companion for time travel (so how can this NOT be funny?). In this, three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed this classified ad. One of my favorite up-and-coming actors Mark Jake Johnson (New Girl) stars.


June 22

To Rome With Love: The next Woody Allen movie focusing on people’s experiences in Rome starring Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, and Alec Baldwin.


June 27

Beasts of the Southern Wild: A magical story of a 6-year old girl who lives with her father in a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. When her father contracts a mysterious illness which threatens the balances of nature, Hushpuppy goes on a quest to find her mother. This was not a film on my radar at this year’s Sundance as I usually avoid anything remotely close to fantasy films but after it won the big prize there, I have to check it out.

Update (5/5): The trailer is here, and its beautiful fantasy film indeed:

June 29

People Like Us: A brother and sister meet for the first time in this upcoming Chris Pine/Elizabeth Banks movie.

Magic Mike: Male strippers without shirts but with plenty of dreams in Steven Soderbergh’s latest starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, and Matthew McConaughey


July 3

The Amazing Spiderman: I still think its too early for a spiderman reboot (or is this a prequel? really?) but I can’t fault them. They had my money at Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.


July 6

Savages: I think Oliver Stone is on the right track with this new crime drama starring Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, John Travolta, Salma Hayek, and Benicio del Toro.


July 20

The Dark Knight Rises: I have to see the next and last entry in the Christopher Nolan Batman franchise. It doesn’t hurt that Inception castmates Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-stars. Am I the only one still not 100% sure of Anne Hathaway at Catwoman? Watch the official trailer or see a (much better, in my opinion) fan-made trailer. A new official trailer is suppose to premiere before The Avengers so keep an eye out for it!


August 3

The Bourne Legacy: In this 4th Bourne film, there is more to the Treadstone project: Jeremy Renner!


August 15

The Odd Life of Timothy Green: This is my family film pick of the summer. A childless couple bury a box in their backyard, containing all of their wishes for an infant. This characteristics are personified with the appearance of Timothy Green, but all is not as it appears. I’m curious to see the gentler side of Joel Edgerton (have you seen some of his past films?).


August 24

Premium Rush: A NYC bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city. I actually don’t think this is going to be anything more than just a cool looking action movie on a bike but Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in it… so… you know… gonna go see it. I actually stumbled across the film set last year so curious to see what they do with it to give it some substance.


August 31

Lawless (formerly The Wettest County): Three brothers (two of which are played by Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy) find their bootlegging business under threat in Prohibition-era Franklin County, Virginia. No trailer yet but I’m already pulled in by the cast which also includes Guy Pearce and Jessica Chastain.

Update (4/24): The trailer has just been released and it looks pretty damn good. I barely recognized Guy Pearce. Anyone thinks like I do that Shia LaBoeuf was born to play an outlaw?

Savages /First the first look photo, then the poster, and now the trailer for the coming crime drama from Oliver Stone. Now, I’m not one for movies with extreme violence but there is enough in this project to intrigue me - a dynamic female bad guy played by Salma Hayek, a shared girl friend played by Blake Lively (who impressed me in The Town), the enforcer played by Benicio del Toro (loved him ever since 21 Grams), and two men with a mission (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson). 

Savages /Just released poster from the upcoming film from Oliver Stone. I love this poster; it’s bold, striking, and but also reminds me alot of the one for Babel. See the first look photo and read more about this film starring Benicio del Toro, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, John Travolta here.  High-res

Savages /Just released poster from the upcoming film from Oliver Stone. I love this poster; it’s bold, striking, and but also reminds me alot of the one for Babel. See the first look photo and read more about this film starring Benicio del Toro, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, John Travolta here

Savages/ First look photo from Oliver Stone’s new crime drama about two Laguna Beach drug dealers whose shared girlfriend (Blake Lively) is kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel enforcer (Benicio Del Toro). Blake Lively surprised me with her turn in The Town so I’m expecting so good things from her. This film boosts a great cast including Uma Thurman, Taylor Kitsch, Selma Hayek, and Emile Hirsch so it should be a great one to look out for.  High-res

Savages/ First look photo from Oliver Stone’s new crime drama about two Laguna Beach drug dealers whose shared girlfriend (Blake Lively) is kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel enforcer (Benicio Del Toro). Blake Lively surprised me with her turn in The Town so I’m expecting so good things from her. This film boosts a great cast including Uma Thurman, Taylor Kitsch, Selma Hayek, and Emile Hirsch so it should be a great one to look out for.