[b]Better Luck Tomorrow[/b], directed Justin Lin, is the story of a group of upper middle class Asian teens who are succesful academically and have a bright future ahead of them. However they get bored with life in suburbia and begin committing crimes. At first minor, they escalate as the group of friends become notorious, ultimately leading to a violent conclusion.
This film got surprisingly strong reviews, but I had difficulty making it through the entire film as it just felt so amatuerish. First, I could not relate to any of these characters. The high school scenes were textbook stale, showing nothing new. The characters, although asian, played more like spoiled high school boys, nothing signifcant about their culture or backgrounds to distinguish this group of teens at all. They were stereotypical white males, except they happened to be Asian. As for a crime drama? Not very good, despite the interesting premise. And the direction? Annoying is the best way I can describe it. The film so wants to be edgy, cool and hip, and Lin bombards us with modern music, speeded up violence, and other inneffective tools. But mostly this film is a bore because there isn't one character worth following. Bad film.
[b]Elizabethtown[/b], written and directed by Cameron Crowe, is another horrible mess. Orlando Bloom stars as Drew Baylor, a shoe designer who makes a huge mistake, forcing the recall of his design and costing his company milions of dollars. Having lost his job, Drew is set to commit suicide when his phone rings. His father had died, and Drew is asked by his mother (Susan Sarandon) to travel to Kentucky, where his father was visiting family, to retrieve the body. On the plane he meets Clare (Kirsten Dunst), an optimistic flight attendant who tries to cheer Drew up. Once in Elizabethtown, Drew meets his father's eccentric family and is torn on whether to respect their wishes for his father's burial there, or his mother's wishes that he be cremated and brought back home. Clare also reappears.
[i]Elizabethtown [/i]never really knows what it wants to be. A family drama? A romance? Crowe tries to force the two together without much success. The family drama wallows in silliness, it's rarely effective or moving, and the romance between Drew and Clare cannot be fully developed due to all of the distractions. I thought the Clare character had quite a bit of potential, and Kirsten Dunst is likable in this film, but Orlando Bloom wasn't a strong enough lead to make this mess work. A huge disappointment.
[b]Winter Solstice,[/b] directed by Josh Sternfeld, is another film that has received fairly positive reviews from most RT viewers. It's a family drama set in a small town. Jim (anthony LaPaglia) is a widower trying to raise his two teenage sons Gabe and Pete (Aaron Stanford and Mark Webber). Pete is unmotivated while Gabe is ready to leave the small town. Meanwhile Jim becomes interested in new neighbor Molly (Allison Janney).
[i]Winter Solstice [/i]feels like a made-for-television movie. It's an incredibly bland film with no standout performances. There isn't much character development, and seemingly little purpose to the film. I wasn't impressed.