Mini-Reviews: To Rome With Love, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

To Rome With Love:

Woody Allen’s final film in his series of European stories leaves us with an abundance of stories and ideas about the fleeting nature of life, but the construction of the film does him no favors. The choppiness of the scenes and the uneven way the segments flow together leave one wondering if he wanted these stories to be viewed as connected. Even he seems to dismiss the idea of these stories being connected in any way by starting the film with the lazy plot device of a narrator saying “I see lots of people in Rome. Here are some of them.” Two of the storylines– one following an average man who finds fame for literally no reason, another following an opera producer discovering a new talent– feel particularly autobiographical. During these chunks, the movie sparks to life. Another plotline starring Ellen Page as a sexual temptress never really clicks because it cast Ellen Page as a sexual temptress, and the fourth never really clicks with the other three, despite strong performances from Alessandra Mastonardi as a Madonnaesque newlywed and Penelope Cruz as a prostitute (Woody always seems inspired as a writer by utterly gorgeous women). It’s still going to be catnip for Allen fans like myself, but it lacks the focus and sure hand of his last film, Midnight in Paris.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:

By taking the source material somewhat seriously, Timur Bekmambetov improved upon his first major Hollywood film, Wanted, by creating a story with heart among the chaos. Ben Walker, who I’ve been hyping since I saw him absolutely slay Broadway in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, gives a charismatic and credible leading man performance, and Bekmambetov keeps the vampires rushing and the axes flying for the most part. Dominic Cooper as a mentor with a secret that you’ll guess in five seconds has some fun, but his role leads to repetition: he warns Abe not to do something, Abe does it, he warns Abe not to do something, Abe does it, etc. While I appreciated the time spent to build character away from the fighting, its repetition drags the middle section down some. But the trademark Bekmambetov insane action sequences don’t disappoint– it’s the only film you’ll ever see in which a bad guy grabs a stampeding horse by the legs, throws it at the hero, knocking him down, yet the hero mounts the horse that just bombarded him in mid-crash, gets it upright, and starts riding it towards the villain. That alone may be worth the admission price. Special note: several frat guys came to this film just to laugh at it, nearly ruining the experience for everyone there. If you give this film a chance, there’s much to enjoy. If you don’t, stay home and don’t be a douche.

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World:

I’m not convinced we’ll ever see a comedy about the apocalypse that *really* works. Maintaining consistent laughter in such a bleak atmosphere without making your characters one-dimensional seems nigh impossible to achieve. Seeking A Friend At The End Of The World tries for a while, and it contains some individually terrific scenes, but the jarring tonal shifts between the reality of doom setting in and the attempts at broad human farce cause the film to simply feel all over the place. There’s a fine line between finding the humor in the blissful ignorance of humanity and stepping over the line into caricature, and the script by Lorene Scafaria (who also wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) dances all over that line from moment to moment. For the most part, I was lightly amused if not truly engaged, primarily because Carell and Knightley do terrific work in the lead roles, until the final half hour, when the film ditches the aspirations of comedy and dives headfirst into the dramatic deep end. Once it stopped trying to make me laugh, the film grabbed a hold of me– Carell does his finest dramatic work to date in this film’s conclusion. They managed to sell me on events that I never would’ve bought had the film tried to stay funny. Scafaria has a clear affinity for music between this and her previous work, and she knows how to find cinematic musical choices that tug the heartstrings without a feeling of forced manipulation. This is worth seeking out, if just for the chunks that work amongst the tonal mess.

If you liked these reviews, please follow my Twitter account with my up-to-date thoughts on movies I’m watching.

~ by russellhainline on July 3, 2012.

38 Responses to “Mini-Reviews: To Rome With Love, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World”

  1. I’m disappointed the new Allen movie is getting such poor reviews, especially after all the unexpected praise of MIP. I’ll still go see it though..

  2. Very interesting reviews. I haven’t seen the other two yet, but I’m surprised you gave Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 2 and 1/2 popcorn. I read the book and was disappointed by pretty much everything but the visual effects. I had been counting down the days until it hit theatres too. Sad. I also had douchey people in the theatre laughing/joking the whole time and I can agree that it really sucks. Nice post!

  3. I did not like Midnight in Paris, so I think I will be skipping out on To Rome with Love. Bummed to hear your review on the last one; was hoping for more. Thanks for your insights.

  4. “Zombieland” managed to maintain the humour, and the apocalypse… Yes, the characters were one dimentional, but that’s all part of the fun. I think its success relied on it being aware of its place in the mire of recent cinematic history.
    As for this particular ‘end-of-the-world’, I’d love to see it, but I don’t think I can stand Keira Knightley for two hours. Or Steve Carrell for that matter.
    Great reviews though!

  5. I agree with the thoughts on Seeking- it was okay for bits and pieces. Did anyone else wonder what the heck happened to the dog? Seemed like a storyboard flaw to me. Also, how big is a cessna gas tank?
    My personal thoughts on Seeking a Friend: 2.25 stars, Dog: 5 stars. He was really believable as a dog. 😀

  6. I kind of want to see “seeking a friend” but I hate “world ending” movie, it’s so gimmicky.

  7. Once again a movie that pairs a lead actor (Carell) old enough to be the father of the lead actress (Knightley).

  8. Articles with original information like yours are an uncommon occurrence. I enjoyed how you used your own unique writing style to make you points clear.

  9. I’m going to catch Abe Lincoln this weekend….. looks very promising. Great reviews

  10. Haven’t seen any of the movies yet. But i’m most interested in Abraham Lincoln one. Seems like the most promising one.

  11. Interesting reviews I haven’t seen any of those yet however, I’ve been having loads of movie nights lately perhaps I’ll pick one up. Or head to the cinema.


  12. Interesting reviews. I feel much like you do about Seeking a Friend feeling like a different movies because of the tone change, and said the same in my review if you want to check that out on Plan to see To Rome with Love soon, since I’m a Woody Allen fan, but I’m not sure about Lincoln film. I think I’ll wait for the Daniel Day Lewis movie to come out to watch a movie about Lincoln. Congrats on being Fresh Pressed!

  13. Congratulation on being freshly pressed!

  14. You’re so lucky you got to see Walker as Jackson. I hear it was a performance for the ages.

  15. nice, crisp review! Being a Woody Allen fan, I am disappointed that the new movie doesn’t promise the tenor of MIP. How about the writing? Is it any good?

  16. Steve Carell is wearing MY sweater in this photo! Proof:

  17. I am loving your blog. The mini reviews are brilliant. Concise and to the point. Plus I LOVE anyone who recommends that the douches stay home. I give this site a four popcorn kernel rating! 🙂

  18. Oh, I almost forgot…Love the name of your blog, wonderful memories of Groucho and Chico at the door of a Speakeasy…

  19. I expected snarky comments and half-baked reviews like I find in Rolling Stone and elsewhere… I much prefer this.
    Follow this blog? Yes. I think I will.

  20. Reblogged this on dmiller1969 and commented:
    I cannot speak for the first two films but Seeking a Friend for the End of the World was a pretty good movie. 🙂

  21. Thank you for this. I trust bloggers from this site more than I do reviews from people paid to do it.

  22. great movies guys! no hate!

  23. Reblogged this on spencergrant32.

  24. Brilliantly constrasted films and beautifully reviewed. I’m intrigued by Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, it sounds like its trying to hard, but I guess somewhere in there, there has to be genuine sentiment trying desperately to get through. May check it out and see if I agree!

  25. “If you don’t, stay home and don’t be a douche.” This totally made me laugh out loud.

    Great reviews!

  26. I enjoyed your reviews. Haven’t seen any of these and might just wait till they come out on on-demand.

  27. I love Steve Carell. I like the choices he’s made regarding movies but didn’t know what to expect with this one. Thanks for the review.

  28. short reviews for short attention spans! love it!

  29. First off I love the idea behind this blog! Seriously, the tag line below the title automatically gets my like! (bonus points because I love movies as well)

  30. I have to agree that the horse thing was probably my favorite part of Lincoln (and I really liked the movie).

    It was like the horse got back up just to help Abe kill the douche that’d thrown him. I leaned back in my seat and went “And he’s okay!” without really meaning to say that aloud.

    Great reviews! I’m probably going to go see Seeking a Friend now.

  31. Reblogged this on Kultural Yakuza.

  32. I think that is among the such a lot important info for me. And i’m satisfied reading your article. But want to remark on some general issues, The website style is great, the articles is in reality excellent : D. Good task, cheers

  33. Enjoyed these. All on my summer movie list. I actually saw three movies this weekend, more than I saw in 2011. Blame it on the heat wave. Wrote about two of them (Ted and Moonrise Kingdom) here.

  34. Reblogged this on 42 Webs.

  35. Reblogged this on Steve_Bro.

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