30 December 2008

The Spirit

Um.

Er.

Wow?

I'm not really sure what to say here. Seriously. Out of my element. I want to love it. But… it's no Sin City.

I love Frank Miller. Love. But, as a movie director, he's still chipping his teeth. Not having ever read any of the comics and only knowing of it loosely, as a comics fan, I'm not really able to speak to the authenticity of it all. The movie is being panned, but I think some of the dry dialog is purposeful… albeit heavy at times.

Miller is a pervert, to be sure.

Frost/Nixon

Ron Howard wants to be Gus Van Sant.

Frank Langella steals the film.

This review says it a lot better than I can.

Not my favorite movie of the year.

Gran Turino

I was most excited about this movie over anything coming out this year. Clint Eastwood is among my favorite directors and even when he's sloppy, he's still good. Which is good, because this film is a little sloppy.

Drawing up the acting chops of Million Dollar Baby, Clint casts himself again as the aging curmudgeon, only this time he's a Korean War veteran and an ex-Ford factory employee with a penchant for doing things NOW and CORRECTLY.

Oh. And he's a racist. An extreme racist.

The character. Not Eastwood.

The movie clumsily explores the relationships between white neighbor and Mong (a overly-explained subsect of Chinese) neighborhood.

The movie is predictable for about 90% of the time, but the surprises are good. The action is clumsy and awkward, almost like they didn't review the film or didn't do more than one take of anything… unless Clint was doing something… which always seemed deliberate and focused.

Direction-wise, the Awakening destroys this film. Story-wise, this is a stronger movie… for my taste anyways.

Seven Pounds

Five movies in four days.

And here they come.

Good. Not great. But who can tell. The people in this theatre wouldn't shut up. It was a noise convention and everyone wanted to see me some chatter. Seriously. One guy was wearing one of those self-important ear phones… but gladly never got a call.

Never go to the Edwards 26 in North Long Beach. Never.

Where was I?

I did not see the Pursuit of Happyness, the director's previous work, but I suspect it has an equal level of heavy-handedness in it. The movie is not rubber hammered into you, like a Speilberg film, but it does have a few moments where the director could have been more delicate with things.

Will Smith's range of facial expressions in this movie is unreal. Seriously. Seriously good. The rest of the cast is okay, with the exception of Barry Pepper, who has the hardest role of all. He's the best friend who receives what can only be described as the worst news ever. Ugh. Gut-wrenching.

While the ending is not a secret — you figure it out pretty quickly — and perhaps not supposed to be, it is damn powerful. Seriously good stuff.

26 December 2008

Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains

I consider Carter to be among one of the most important humanitarians in the world. His efforts to bring peace to Isreal, repair the after-effects of Katrina, and spread his word of good will around the globe. This documentary (by Jonathan Demme) follows Carter's book tour in 2006 as he defends himself against the Israeli Defense League's media machine and the claims that Carter is a liar, plagiarist, and anti-Semite.

And anyone that sees him talk for even 10 minutes know this isn't true.

A must see for Palastinians and anyone else that has had it with stranglehold journalism.

25 December 2008

Rock Star

I like this movie. It's not box office gold, but it's good enough. Mark Wahlberg is an excellent choice and he can really sing.

I would have liked a little more Act II and Act III, but I guess the budget wasn't there… it sort of races to a conclusion when all people really want to see is more sex and drugs and debauchery.

Details were changed from the Ripper Owens/Judas Priest story enough so that they didn’t have to pay for the license rights or something. Some of the inaccuracies to that story are so heavy-handed, it becomes obvious they didn’t want to look too obviously like the non-fictional basis for this film.

Day the Earth Stood Still

People are complaining about Reeves’ obviously mechanical performance (duh), but they should really complain about the lack of a point to this movie.

Will Smith's son is in the film, as the most annoying pre-teen ever. I was praying for Hanna Montana to show up, but that never happened. So. Instead, I got 75 minutes of artificial tension followed by an ending that only makes sense if you've seen the original.

Meh.

Better than Appaloosa, though.

ASIDE: Clease was so poorly cast and his dialog so stupidly rigid, he would have been better off saying nothing. A lot of people felt like they were cast because someone lost a bet. Reeves in the opening three minutes as a mountain climber in 1928 India also could have been trimmed from the movie. It never gets explored again and becomes irrelevant during the McDonald’s scene.

Oh yeah.

There's one of those.

Oh. And Jennifer Connelly doesn't get naked in this one, either. What the heck?

21 December 2008

Smokey and the Bandit I & II

These came together on one disc from netflix.

Legitimately, Smokey and the Bandit is considered the hallmark of the car chase, car wrecking genre. Because of the absence of spelling effects, and the focused "needle" of the camera, it holds up to this day as a great movie. I can watch it over and over again, and never get tired of watching that Trans Am peel out.

[Growing up in a house filled with muscle cars makes me a little biased about this movie, but you can't tell me it's boring.]

Two... well... two may be the worst sequel since Highlander II, Superman III, Star Wars VI, and the Lethal Weapon series. It's almost like everyone was replaced with twelve-year old clones, who lacked the understanding of pacing, dialog, structure, and story… oh… and who also didn't watch the first one.

Why? Oh Why?

My Kid Could Paint That

Uneven production value. Too much heavy-handedness in the direction. Too many people with disjointed testimony. A four-year old kid that is an absolute dream to watch on camera.

I will point you to the wikipedia article about this film and leave it at that. Decide for yourself.

16 December 2008

Arang

Arang is the Korean legend of a young woman whose spirit must be avenged. This movie is a modern cop drama/horror-thriller loosely based on this folklore.

While the film starts slow, the ending is really strong. The writing is really good, even if the production value is very low. The "horror" is never really very scary, but the science and folklore mixed together are a tough act to follow.

Like all good Korean movies I've seen, this one continues to surprise in the final 15 minutes.

And, like all good Korean movies, the level of misery the people must endure makes Se7en look like a Disney movie.

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

This documentary details the "rivalry" of king Donkey Kong players Steve Wiebe (a nobody in the world of video game high scores) and Billy Mitchel (a man whose entire persona and self-esteem revolves around being the best). Of the original FIVE video game titles that Mitchel held, only the Donkey Kong title remained in 2007.

So, of course, Mitchel and his cabal of mutant toadies, helmed by Brian Kuh (a 30-year old retiree who should be thrown under a bus) and Robert Mruczek (something that barely passes for human) do everything in their power to protect King Mitchel's throne from being usurped.

Long story short, you need to see this film and then read up about it on Wikipedia. If for no other reason that this…
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, wondering "Who would have guessed that a documentary about gamers obsessed with scoring a world record at Donkey Kong would not only be roaringly funny but serve as a metaphor for the decline of Western civilization?
Just amazing, the amount of energy these people expend. Jillian Wiebe is the true hero of this documentary.

15 December 2008

Secrets of the Dead: Battle for the Bible

In an attempt to learn more and more about the roots of the Christian pathos, I have been watching a lot of documentaries lately on Jesus and so on. This one is really informative. Well put together.

I was never aware of how hard it was to translate the bible into English, although I was aware of the power the catholic church had over the Western World for 800 years.

A must see for Christians and non-believers.

06 December 2008

Punisher: War Zone

Not really a very good apology for the previous two abominations that are Punisher films, but certainly gory. This movie looks a lot like the blood-drenched corpses in any Steve Dillon comic. Its almost as though the Punisher never existed until Garth Ennis wrote about him, five years ago.

Nice nod to Tim Bradstreet in the movie. He's a friend, so I get all smiley whenever he gets his props.

Everything about this movie is a B-minus, in the strictest sense (except for Jigsaw's acting which is a D-minus.). The production, dialog, pacing, direction, and story. There's nothing new here. Nothing. And because the Punisher only works within the confines of a comic book — and because every 80s revenge movie is a clone of Punisher — there's nothing new to explore here. Certainly everyone involved knew this, but decided to make a big bad movie anyway.

It was better than the Fantastic Four movies, however.

Helvetica

Wow.

What can you say about a documentary detailing the nerdiest topic since Star Trek conventions and college drumlines?

Well. If you're a font snob like I am, a lot.

First, let me state, that while I was not turned around 180 degrees on the aesthetics of Helvetica (it is hideous to me), this documentary did give me some insight into why it might be a little more useful than I thought.

At the end of the day, though, it's still a Euro-trash font. Minimalist, as it maybe, it's still everywhere you go. And while it has innumerable uses, it still doesn't say anything. It's not a good font.

And while there are only a handful of people in the documentary with a dissenting opinion about the world's most important font, that doesn't make it so.

On the merits of the film, however, this is an expertly crafted documentary for anyone who even remotely cares about aesthetics or print.

01 December 2008

School for Scoundrels

Not great. But not as bad as it could have been.

Lots of interesting casting choices, with a very "interesting" directing style... the movie wants to be Bad Santa, but it never gets there.

Poor Jon Heder. Never gets a break. Since Napoleon Dynamite, his choices in roles have been as insignificant as this post.

C+

The State Within

I love political thrillers and this BBC produced six-part saga about a potential attack on the United States and the wheels in motion that could trigger another war... fantastic.

I love six-hour shows and I can't think of anything to make this one better. Sure, the lighting and sound sucked in the first episode, but context-wise, the writing is superb. Really top-drawer.

Jason Issacs is an underrated actor who is really coming into his own here.

Lennie James is good, although a little over the top near the end.

Sharon Gless... um... she's still alive?... is really good, too. She makes a great case for why Donald Rumsfeld is completely irredeemable as a human... and completely unbelievable as a mammal.

And where are all these hot british chicks coming from?

My favorite moment is the "exchange" between Jason Issacs and the Governor of Florida.

Add this to your Netflix queue.

Kickin It Old Skool

Um.

Wow.

Not really as funny as Jamie Kennedy can be.

Although, the "do you like Justin?" gag made the entire movie worth watching.

28 November 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

I cannot objectively review this film.

It is amazing and I will leave it at that.

Read my non-nice blog (sum of our fluids) if you want to hear more about it.

27 November 2008

Trapped in Paradise

Bank caper movies are always good. Making them comedies is even better.

Quick Change
Happy Texas
Disorganized Crime

Set in a small town in Pennsylvannia, Trapped in Paradise is mostly about the hours "after" the heist. The town is small and quaint and the backdrop very normal and subdued. But that doesn't stop Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz from stealing every single scene with their over the top antics. They are that good in this. It's not for people who think Judd Apatow is funny. It is for people who think Bill Murray is funny.

Richard Gallo directs. He also wrote Midnight Run. And you can see his eye for detail in this movie. Lots of subtle jokes. And since he writes and directs in this instance, he chose people for very specific reasons.

Richard Jenkins is so subtle and good in this movie. He doesn't show up until the movie is almost over, but he gets sooooo many good lines. Nicolas Cage chews the scenery in an attempt to get a laugh, forgetting that his character is the straight man.

Go rent it before the holidays are up.

26 November 2008

Transporter 3

Okay. What the hell am I doing watching this movie in the first place, let alone reviewing it?

Well. Smartie. I'll tell you.

I love car chases.

Love them. As a kid I wanted to be a stunt driver. No fooling.

So. I'm required by law to see any movie with a car chase in it. Nothing I can do about it. Sadly, that means I had to watch Transporter Two, which I'm pretty sure I've forgotten.

Three is a nice apology for two, but it's still not great. The heroine in this one is extremely selfish and annoying, although her freckles are cute. I'll give her that. The dialog is mostly okay, with moments of "what?" Statham takes his shirt off three times (ladies), for no apparent reason the last time. The villain is a 9 out of 10 on the sociopathy scale, but a 5 out of 10 on the memorable lines scale. The opening 10 minutes are meaningless. You could open with Statham being pushed into the car and being told "go" and the movie would be awesome. The fist fights are cut and edited to look like what a spastic ADHD sufferer's flashbacks must look like. Luc Besson (the writer) has once again crossed the pervert line with a female pee scene (I wish I was kidding). Lastly, the "love interest" storyline/dialog/waste of time is so bad at points that my wife and I started to pantomine our suicides to one another during the film.

It was bad.

The chases are awesome, though and some of it is very creative.

If you liked one and avoided two, check out three. If you didn't watch any of them, don't bother.

A League of Their Own

Totally underrated. One of the best baseball movies of all time. I love this film.

Penny Marshall is actually a really good director in my opinion.

Everyone is outstanding in their roles and it was great to see Squiggy and the "Big Ragu" making appearances in the movie.

Most people love quoting, "there's no crying in baseball." My favorite, however, is "If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."

20 November 2008

King Korn

While created by two very unprofessional filmmakers who spend too much time talking about family and locals who have nothing to do with the big picture of this film, the overall message is amazing.

Linked with Fast Food Nation and Super-Size Me, this film should pull together a complete picture of the health problems facing America for the next 20 years.

A must must must see.

18 November 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Original.

Damn.

There is a reason it's a classic. Excellent pacing and tone. Really gripping. Unless you're an MTV watcher. Then you'll hate it.

It'll be interesting to see what the new one does. So many things they can't use… like a strange man spending the day with a little boy.

Awkward.

16 November 2008

Quantum of Solace

Some spoilers

I hope this is just a stop-over in a longer series of story points involving Mr. White and the Quantum group.

If it is, this is a really strong second Act. If this is the end of that plot-line, it is a weaker conclusion that it could have been.

Great stunts. Excellent grit. Daniel Craig continues to be the best bond.

I have nothing more to say about it. I need to go watch it again.

14 November 2008

Octopussy

You might be wondering why I would be watching this film a day before Quantum of Solace comes out… Roger Moore is hardly a fitting bond. Who would want to actively seek out a Roger Moore Bond film when you already own Casino Royale? What are you stupid?

Well.That's a great question.

And now to ignore it completely, let me tell you I rented this film for one reason and one reason only… to watch the single best moment in any bond film… Roger Moore racing to disarm the nuclear bomb at the US Air Force base in West Germany.

Holy crap!

Not only is this white knuckle stuff — it's about 20 minutes of film time from point A to point B — it's also the only time we ever see Roger Moore sweat. I mean really, really sweat.

I only watched that scene and then I turned it off.

11 November 2008

Three O'Clock High

Playing on the concept of High Noon, where the hero must wait for the bad guys to arrive for the inevitable fight, Three O'Clock High pits a loner, nobody student against the new school tough guy in an after school fight in the parking lot.

Oh yeah.

This film rocks on toast.

I'm being serious here. Despite it's low budget, this late 80s teenager coming of age story is as good as any of the John Hughes films set in the same "day in the life" vein of films.

Seriously. It's that good. It doesn't have all of the jokes of Sixteen Candles or the angst of Breakfast Club, but it is exactly what this kind of movie needs to be. A totally underrated and overlooked movie in my opinion.

Despite the lack of names that you may recognize, the cast still shows its chops in front of a camera. Something I was very impressed with.

04 November 2008

Changeling

As great as this movie is, and it is great, it's not Eastwood's best.

Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby are hard to top.

But Angelina Jolie is first-rate in this movie and the dirty cops rachet the tension up so high… mercy… I don't even know what else to say about this movie.

Be prepared to be aggravated at the world we live in.

That's all I'm saying.

Rocknrolla

I don't care what you think, I love Guy Ritchie films. He's not a great director, but his stories are always lush with characters and situations. Even if one looks a lot like another, he always comes up with great characters in unbelievable situations.

Rocknrolla is most like Layer Cake, but it's still great in its own right.

I'm not a fan of Gerard Butler, but I loved the rest of the cast. Archie (played by Mark Strong) makes the movie. He's perfect balance for this film.

25 October 2008

W.

Um

What?

Are you serious? This is your movie? This is your portrayal of the dumbest president ever?

Really?

Okay....

24 October 2008

Drunken Master

The original.

Wow.

Not as great as everyone is always saying.

Perhaps the worst Jackie Chan movie I've ever seen.

Very disappointing.

Meh.

Feast

Sometimes awesome. Sometimes awful.

This satirical approach to horror movies his really good, when it wants to be and really dumb when it thinks it's being funny.

The monsters hump each other at one point.

Need I say more?

Lots of unexpected twists and turns. I gave it four out of five stars.

I would say more, but there's not much more to it. Monsters attack and the stars of the movie defend themselves.

That's it.

Max Payne

Unremarkable. Completely and utterly banal.

Seriously.

I won't even remember this movie in another 20 minutes.

Based on a video game, this film fails on any level to entertain or evoke.

Move along.

12 October 2008

Unknown

I cannot tell you what this film is about.

I can only tell you to watch it.

Knowing the plot will ruin it for you.

Enjoy

Religulous

Yikes.

Yikes.

Not a safe topic.

Bill Maher and Larry Charles make a documentary about the only thing you can't make a documentary about.

Religion.

The last 10 minutes is nothing but soap-boxing. Good soap-boxing, but... you know.

The rest is amazing stuff, revealing all religious people for what they really are. Everyone backpedals and over-explains, trying to protect the hypocrisy of their beliefs.

And if Bill were debating with people intellectually, he would have disarmed every single person there, but... these people are debating passion and belief... he's debating logic.

It's an awkward documentary/essay at times.

And while my Long Beach theater was packed, I can see this film going unwatched in most of the world.

Son of Rambow

Not really the movie that was advertised.

It's good. But not great.

Certainly nothing new or spectacular, but very British.

Aren't you glad I'm here to steer you away from these kinds of movies?

07 October 2008

Operation Condor

Do I really need to keep reviewing every Jackie Chan movie I watch?

This is one of the best.

The fighting is beyond amazing and Jackie really goes for some crude humor in this one.

A+

Charlie Bartlett

Disturbingly funny at times. Oddly structured at others.

Anton Yelchin is a fantastic actor. Amazing. He plays whiney too much, and it's obvious in this film he can do so much more.

I'm not a fan of Kat Dennings, however and she does sing before the end of the film. Ugh. But, every moment with Hope Davis or Robert Downey Jr. on the screen is pure fun, so I don't care, too much.

Not much more to say. The film wants to be smart and it starts strong, but the writer and/or director eventually realizes he//she/they don't know much about teenagers or realistic dialog and just sort of slap together the last act of the film.

Lots of potential. It hits about 60% of what it could have been, which is still good enough, I guess.

First Strike

Also known as Police Story 4, this movie was made during the "can't film in Hong Kong because China owns it" period of Jackie's Career. It looks and feels identical to Mr. Nice Guy and Rumble in the Bronx, and feels nothing like a Police Story movie.

It is funny though.

And some the fights are fantastic.

Once again, Jackie is rescuing a girl from bad guys, exchanging one thing for another.

Once again, Jackie has a fight in a mall.

Once again, there is a misunderstanding and Jackie must fight people that will later become friends.

Does any of that bother me?

Hell, no. But this isn't his best work, either.

Mr. Nice Guy

The second best Jackie Chan movie you've never seen.

Seriously. Jackie almost gets cut in half by a radial saw.

Twice.

I'm not kidding.

And who can complain about a 2 million dollar stunt where they drive an earthmover through a mansion?

Fantastic.

Appaloosa

What?

Huh?

Why? Why did… how?

What did I…? How did this happen?

I'm still… it's been over 24 hours and I still don't know what the hell that was supposed to be.

How did Viggo and Ed Harris produce a film this bad?

And how is it getting a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes?

What happened? Did I watch the wrong print?

This thing was awful. AWFUL!!!

Look. One idiot review wrote:
Harris displays a quiet, unshowy confidence and a genuine fondness for the genre, capturing the horses and guns and saloon glasses in a soft, almost-sundown light.
Quiet? Unshowy? What? Every character talked to much, wandered around wondering where the camera was, and basically said EVERYTHING that they thought. Some scenes even duplicated others… with Ed Harris and Viggo talking about curtain patterns.…

…that's right CURTAIN PATTERNS…

…in an "unshowy" western.

Yeah. Okay.

Look. I seriously love both of these actors. Even Irons and Henrickson are a joy in most any other film. But this… this is… this is like watching someone who has just had brain surgery learn to play chess without a rulebook… or an opponent.

It's just absolute… absolute stupid.

Renee Zellweger is officially redundent in hollywood. She's inane, pedantic, and now… with whatever botched face crap she did to herself… hideous.

This movie is just about as bad as anything any of these people could have made. Why are so many reviewers drinking the kool-aid and telling me it's water.

Okay. I've spent too much time talking about this film. I hated it. Hate!!

On to another Jackie Chan movie. I need to get the bile out of my mouth.

06 October 2008

Clerks II

Um.

Funny.

But, still not a very good movie.

Sorry.

Kevin Smith is… um… well… not really the messiah everyone makes him out to be. He's a good writer, but a horrible director.

Sorry.

Police Story 2

I forgot that I had seen this before. Not as great as I remembered. Too much story (and bad dialog) and not enough fighting... although the park fight scene was fantastic.... so fast and creative... and... damn... what else can I say?

The film is generally not as good as the original Police Story, but a lot better than stuff like first strike.

01 October 2008

Hard Boiled (Lat sau san taam)

Effectively, this movie is nothing more than three of the greatest action scenes ever put to film.

I just did a search online for TOP10 action movies of all time (not based on money) and some of the lists are just stupid.

Lawrence of Arabia? Saving Private Ryan? Live and Let Die?

Those first two aren't even action movies… they just have action in them. Secondly, Live and Let Die is the second worst Bond film ever.

What the hell?

Look. Hard Boiled is considered Woo's best movie. It's a ballet. The only thing that comes close to this is Iron Monkey… and they really aren't compariable… or maybe Face/Off, which is another Woo film.

If you want good Woo action, see the follow (in this order)
  • The Killer (Dip huet seung hung)
  • Face/Off
  • Hard Boiled (Lat sau san taam)
Amazing.

I don't care what anyone says about Face/Off, it's really good. And the action in these movies is unparalleled. Even Jackie Chan has a hard time competing with this stuff. It's just so creative and over the top.

Damn.

Supercop

Another Jackie Chan action extravaganza. Too much story. Not enough action. Michelle Yeoh steals the movie with her amazingly fluid stunt work.

There are kicks in this movie, I still don't know how she did them.

Not a masterpiece, but the final fight is passable.

C+

30 September 2008

Miracle at St. Anna

There's been a lot of talk about how uneven this film is,because of Lee's choice of four different points of view (in a flashback, which albeit is weird), but this movie is very strong.

Very smart.

Spike Lee is growing up and while he still has a tendency to put "do the right thing" platitudes into his films, this movie is 90% gold, with the other 10% forgivable because… well… it's Spike Lee.

Complex. Powerful. Moving.

My major complaint would be the lack of attention given to the Germans in the story. Considering the actors chosen for the movie, I expected to see more snippets as events unfolded. A missed opportunity, I say.

This will not get Oscar buzz or even much press, because Lee has a habit of making movies with difficult to swallow pathos. But, that's exactly what I like it.

29 September 2008

Igor

Sort of shotgunning this one:

This movie is NOT for kids, no matter what the marketing says.

John Cusack and Eddie Izzard were odd choices. I really like them, but they're performances didn't match the over-the-top ridiculousness of the film.

Sean Heyes and Steve Buscemi were perfectly cast.

The story is a bit uneven and felt a lot like Shrek toward the end.

The animation is top-notch.

Kung Fu Hustle

The opening 30 minutes are funnier than nearly any kung fu movie I've ever seen.

Brilliant.

Stephen Chow's personal skills at fighting maybe lack-luster, but his writing and directing genius are unparalleled in kung fu cinema.

Almost emotional, that's how good this movie is.

Twin Dragons

Not to be confused with Dragons Forever, this movie is more fun than "fighting." Watching Jackie deal with the "huh" factor that permeates the second act is a pleasure.

And the final garage fight scene is pretty good, too.

Well. More than just pretty good.

Really, really good.

Police Story

My Jackie Chan love affair continues with one of his greatest movies ever.

If I had to pick something I didn't like about this film, it would be Jackie taking the Lieutenant hostage at the end of Act Two.

What the heck is that?

Ignoring that, the movie is filled with really, really good fights and the very well-known leap over down the pole, six stories to the bottom.

Wow.

Wheels on Meals

Caught this on youtube... in 11 parts. The final fights (while good) don't make a lot of sense. And I basically let the slower parts run in the background while I worked.

Not sure what's up with Yuen Biao movie contracts, but he never seems to get the same quality fights that Jackie gets.

Not my favorite Jackie Chan film.

23 September 2008

Dragons Forever

I've never been able to find this on video (locally), but I did watch three of the fight scenes on youtube... and wow... oh wow... are they good.

I take back what I said about Who am I? The fight at the end of this movie is beyond amazing. Yuen Biao even looks better than Jackie does, which explains why he's taken out half-way through the fight.

Sadly, Wa Yueh gets very little use in the final fight, despite being his usual hilarious self. Check him out on imdb. He's done almost 150 movies.

Go to youtube and watch the boat fight scene at least for Dragons Forever. Awesome.

22 September 2008

Drillbit Taylor

I've said many times on here that I don't like Judd Apatow's films, but when he's just the producer on a film, he gets results.

Drillbit Taylor is much funnier than I expected it to be, and the lack of adherence to a formula makes it a little more fun to watch, although the third act does start to crumble a little in typical Apatow fashion. But, that's not why you'd watch a movie like this.

You're not watching for structure and pacing and logic... you want to see kids getting hit, hitting each other, and lots of crazy stunts.

And beer. Lots of beer.

Except this movie lacks beer, but once again has a skinny kid and fat kid as best high school friends, living at the bottom of the high school social ladder, ala Superbad and everything else with Apatow's name on it.

Redbelt

This is not David Mamet's best work. Known as someone who writes and writes and writes, he's had a history of stinkers.

Redbelt is somewhere in the middle.

Mired in a sloppy opening 30 minutes, the movie finally finds it's stride when Mike Terry — played effortlessly and perfectly by Chiwetel Ejiofor — starts to engage more of the world around him.

And Mamet finally directs a movie without the super, super stiff acting he normally asks for (see State and Main, Spartan, and the Heist for more examples of this). Everyone delivers (except for the regular cast of con men associated with his thick-witted patter) and even Tim Allen is a good — if not odd — choice as the aging actor looking to make a score.

Sadly, none of the “con” is necessary in this film, but I don't think Mamet even knew that until he was done filming and editing. For instance, Ejiofor plays a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu instructor who holds tightly to his near-samurai ethics, even if it means being destitute. And the ending perfectly captures the emotion and sentiment behind Ejiofor's character… completely ignoring the complicated and over-developed story that has brought him here.

Mamet could have chosen any number of paths to the third act. Hundreds, if not thousands of options were available to him. Instead, he chose the most convoluted series of cons I've ever seen put to film. I won't bother explaining it. Watch for yourself and then ignore it, because the last 10 minutes do too.

Burn After Reading

A cross between the darkness of Fargo and the comedy of the Big Lebowski, this certainly another hallmark in the great litany of Cohen brother movies.

It starts slow, but once the big SHOCK hits, the movie never slows down.

And the ending is fantastic. Hilarious, even.

You can see them having fun with this one, instead of worrying about exact camera angles and stoic mood in every frame. The story, dialog, and characters drive this one, not the very deliberate direction found in No Country for Old Men.

ASIDE: I really enjoyed seeing George Clooney and Tilda Swinton flipping the roles they played in Michael Clayton. I'm curious if this was a planned action on the Cohen brother's behalf...

21 September 2008

Righteous Kill

As a post-structuralist, one would have to hate this movie. It feels like any other film of it's type, the directing is uneven, and the acting is phoned in.

As someone who loved Inside Man, and wanted to see what a budding new writer was going to do, this movie is awesome.

Without spoiling the ending, let me say that the ending isn't surprising, but it's a GREAT cheat. If you liked how Inside Man tricks you, then you'll love how you think one thing is going on the entire time, but it's something else.

Damn. Maybe that does spoil the ending.

Overall, this movie is forgettable, unlike Inside Man which is highly rewatchable. What should have been directed as a gritty, real-life on the streets, cop drama is nothing more than Miami Vice in Manhattan (or the Bronx, I've already forgotten).

Frozen River

Despite the awful acting of the authentic Native American populace in the film, the first 3/4th of this movie are really, really good.

Sadly, a lack of experience with movies (or a lack of love of movies) drives the final moments into the “we can't act or read good lines contrivance.”

The real problems with the end are four-fold.
  • Too much forced plot
  • Too much exposition and not enough real dialog
  • Every is rushed — we don't get a chance to understand the decisions that are being made nor do we agree that a mother would do something like that
  • The Mohawk cop scene didn't need any dialog at all. Music over the entire scene would have been great.
I was extremely impressed that the movie had no “leading men” roles in it, and didn't feel like a chic-flick. Very cool.

Watch the movie and then write your own ending, I say.

Who am I?

I am probably the only person who has seen this movie, but let me assure you… this is Jackie Chan's best movie.

One of the last he made in China before coming to the states, it sort of disappeared onto VHS (yes, it's that old) and was shuffled into the back shelves of rental stores. So, very few people even know about it, let alone where to get it — deepdiscount.com — but it is a diamond in the rough and a must-see.

While the opening 20 minutes are very slow (and admittedly stupid), once the chase begins, this movie is off the chart good. The final fight is one for the books and the car chase is something no one has copied... they've tried, but not really very well.

Ignore the bad dialog when it crops up, but enjoy the rest. Really. You won't be disappointed.

Police Story

Containing some Jackie Chan's finest stunts, this movie is slower than I remember, but that doesn't stop it from having some very very sweet action.

In order of quality
  • The famous bus scene
  • The mall brawl
  • The fight outside the witness's apartment
  • The car chase through shanty town
Even listing them like this, doesn't really address how ground-breaking Jackie's work was in the early 80s. It would be years before Americans would see this movie. While Chuck Norris was killing the Vietnamese, Jackie Chan was throwing more punches in 20 minutes that entire year of American action films.

I'm about to review Who Am I, and it's going to sound a lot like this one.

Towelhead

I'm not sure how much to praise this film, because it does so many things well. But let me assure you this movie is more than just a diatribe about race relations.

Without telling you too much, let me list the themes of this film.
  • Racism (all of types)
  • Coming of age
  • Virginity
  • Rape
  • Parenting
  • Culture divides
  • Child molestation
  • Narrow-mindedness
  • Patriotism
  • Liberalism
  • Awkwardness
I cannot recall the last time I was this awe-struck with a movie. From beginning to end, the director nailed it… everything. Framing, pacing, acting. If you're not comfortable with films that address these themes, avoid this movie. There are portions of the film that were just awkward beyond belief.

And I loved it.

I'm slowly becoming addicted to these kinds of films and cannot endorse this film any higher than I have here. Rotten Tomatoes didn't like it much, but I suppose people with weak constitutions don't like anything that doesn't end with explosions and people wrapping their children in flags.

This movie does not have a happy ending, nor does it care if you like what it has to say. And I love that about this film.

The God that Wasn't There

A short (very short) documentary questioning the existence of Jesus (not necessarily of God) that basically makes a great case in the first 30 minutes and then runs out of steam, very very very quickly.

The ending is very stupid and you can see the director's bias all over it at this point, completely invalidating anything good he was trying to say with this work.

Go read a book on Christ, instead.

09 September 2008

V for Vendetta

Damn!

So damn powerful.

So good.

I love the graphic novel. It's my favorite of all time. And I approve of all the changes they made (even if Alan Moore didn't).

I'm sure I reviewed this when I saw it in theaters, but I just watched it again on DVD. Natalie Portman as Evie is pure genius.

My favorite scene is the same as in the comic, when Evie finds out that the prison she was in is in fact, V's home... dear god... when she can't breath because the realization of what has happened to her finally catches up... when the weight of all that fear is washed away by years of fetid effluence and societal detritus (waxing poetic here), it's the most cathartic moment in any piece of literature I've ever read or watched.

Damn!

Damn, I say.

What else is left when fear is lifted from your shoulders.

Watch this, read the comic, and then read Midnight Nation by J Michael Straczynski.

Damn.

08 September 2008

Superbad

I bought the "deluxe extended, unrated filled with extras but not really" edition and enjoyed McLovin as much this time as I did last time.

Goodstuff.

Almost as simple a plot as Roadhouse, but not quite.

"We need to get booze for a party, but we only have one fake I.D."

vs.

"I want to clean up my bar and I hear you're the best."

That doesn't make it less great, but it does make it far from being the best #1 film ever.

Sorry, guys.

Again, a great film, because Apatow didn't direct.

About a Boy

Watched this again.

I love this movie.

Hugh Grant as an asshole is great fun.

This is good comedy and no one does films like this anymore.

Quick Change

Part of a barrage of comedies that I've been watching in my down-time. Fantastic movie. My favorite comedy. This and Love Actually... not sure which I'd rather have on the desert island.

OOoh.

And Groundhog Day.

Ong-Bak

Bought this on DVD as well.

Tony Jaa's really only good movie so far. I fear that Ong Bak 2 will suck.

Nonetheless, the fighting here is fantastic.

Hot Fuzz

Hilarious. Of course. Bought it on DVD and I loved it. I've reviewed this before.

It's not as good at home as it if on the big screen, but I loved this one.

Lots of nods to Shaun of the Dead.

The Rocker

As funny as I expected it to be. The physical gags were kept to a minimum and the story flowed well. The music was awful (made for a modern emo/jonas brothers crowd), but the Vesuvius (glam-rock band that kicked him out) stuff was hilarious.

I don't really know what else to say about it.

Christina Applegate was surprisingly good and believable as a MILF/Cougar in the movie. It's the same people from all of Apatow's stuff... so it's kinda the same jokes over and over... but in this case it works (unlike in some of the films that he directed himself — I'm not a fan).

Much better than Dewey Cox, that's for sure.

College

Not really that funny. Too much of a copy of Superbad and not really good enough for the big screen.

If I'd seen this on video, I might have laughed more.

First 10 minutes are boring and the second act sucks (not to mention that bad dialog), but it had its moments.

Sadly, the preview tricked me and I want my two hours back.

04 September 2008

Road House

Perhaps one of the best bad movies ever made, you cannot top this plot.

"I'm trying to fix my bar and I need the best damn bouncer there is to help me do it."

That's it.

How much more complex does it need to get?

"A polar bear fell on me."

Classic.

Rumble in the Bronx

Watched this twice, actually, just to get to the juicy fight scenes.

This was my first Jackie Chan film when I was 20 or something. And I remember thinking... what the hell am I watching? How did they? What was that? Oh my god!

I still get that feeling with this movie.

Even the stupid, hokey ending is fun for me.

I cannot believe that amount of action in this movie. Still stuns me. As I write this, I want to go and watch the fight scene between Jackie vs. the Gang in their "lair."

Shanghai Noon

I bought this at the local con for $4 (although with a few others).

The fighting is slower than I remember, but toward the end of the movie, you hardly notice.

Owen Wilson at his funniest... much better than the abysmal Shanghai Knights.

Spice World

That's right.

You read that title correctly.

Believe it or not, this is an hilarious movie. You are welcome.

24 August 2008

Napoleon Dynamite

Once the awkwardness settles in, this movie is infectious. And of course, there's the dance scene.

If you're not familiar with the movie, move on to the next review. Nothing to see here.

The Wedding Banquet (Xi Yan)

Ang Lee's second best film (Ice Storm is fantastic — go see it).

The old man chastizing Gao Wai Tung for not having a Banquet is my favorite scene in the movie... just awesome. Only an old Asian person could get away with that level of guilt. Not even Jewish mothers can compete with this scene.

Dang!

Watch this and then Eat Drink Man Woman... what a combo.

(Pushing Hands stinks.)

The Replacements

I still can't believe Gene Hackman did this movie. Or Keanu Reeves?

Ha. The salaries for this film must have been the most expensive part of the budget.

Not many good football movies out there, though, so after 20 views I'm still not sick of this one.

It's like comfort fudge that's bad for you.

Death Race

Um.

So.

Uh.

Paul W.S. Anderson...

Um...

Went from Mortal Combat to Soldier to Resident Evil to... um...AVP (oh god) and they still keep giving him movies... ?!?

He's doing the Castlevania movie next, which is great, because he even made this piece of work look like a bad video game.

Sigh.

The car chases are awesome, but anything having to do with logic or story or anything else... well...

Just... go in knowing that it doesn't have any.

Or a very good ending.

23 August 2008

Stuck on You

My second favorite of the Farrelly brother movies.

Hilarious. I don't care what you think about it.

Ha!

And........ Wen Yann Shih is so freaking cute.

Tears of the Sun

In case you ever need to take the edge off the comedy you've been watching, Nigerian genocide is always funny, too.

Whew.

Man. Nothing makes me laugh harder than death/rape camps.

I really wish this last 30 minutes of this movie did not exist. Because Fuqua nails everything else perfectly. But the last fight scene is so Jerry Bruckheimer, I want to claw my eyes out. Ugh.

Tight film otherwise.

Dodgeball

Again.

Tropic Thunder

No where near as funny as Uncle Buck.

Or Dodgeball.

Sigh.

Disappointing.

Good. But not as great as the previews would you lead you to believe. Jack Black's talent was wasted in this film.

The opening four "commercials" however... damn!

Uncle Buck

The classic John Hughes film.

Hilarity. Of course.

John Candy deserves every accolade ever. Funny and sweet at the same time.

19 August 2008

Dragon Tiger Gate

A Chinese Kung Fu extravaganza!

Excellent fighting and sets. Incredible, actually.

But, the story was a lot of "huh?" and the pacing was peppered with sad, slow moments for no reason, other than to film time.

And the villain just sort of "happened."

Seriously, a mixture of great and awful at the same time. It felt like a bad anime film. And of course, everyone's hairdo was straight out of manga. The third wheel of the movie — "Turbo" (yes, that's his name) — had a blonde wig.

Blonde!

Rent it and fast-forward past anything that isn't a fight.

ASIDE: The dream-like pagoda scene would have been great, had it fit into the story somehow.

The Cutting Edge

The classic skating movie that I have not watched in ages.

Everyone knows this one and is embarrased to admit they like it.

It holds up well, except for the cheesy 80s music and film techniques.

11 August 2008

Cashback

This title is as ill-conceived as the 700 themes running parallel through the movie.

Um.

Two bad movies in one night? Is that possible. Must watch Quickchange. Clean sepsis from ears... and eyes.

Izo

Wtf?

No. Seriously. Wtf?

I couldn't get past the 30 minute mark. Whatever this is supposed to be, it's not a movie.

Good luck with it.

10 August 2008

Straight into Darkness

What starts as a very smart and chilling tale of two American soldiers in the Winter of 1945, becomes a slow and meandering story about... mentally disenfranchised French Orphans fighting Nazis.

That's right.

And this isn't a B-movie. With a tiny, tiny budget, this movie is expertly made. The production quality and acting are superb.

But, what the hell?

I don't have much to say about this film after that little tid-bit.

Straight from their website:
When two young American GIs desert their platoon in the final days of World War II, they will find themselves struggling against all odds to stay alive. Their strange and violent journey will bring them together with a band of orphans who are expertly trained killing machines in an attempt to defeat a Nazi battalion. With the perfect combination of horror and action, Straight Into Darkness is a haunting and powerful war film that is unforgettable.
The treatment fails to address the orphans' mental and physical handicaps—the expert killer has no legs—but whatever.

I thought I was getting a horror movie (which in some ways I did), but instead I got Carnivale meets Band of Brothers.

Justice League: New Frontier

I already reviewed this about nine months ago. It's still one of the best cartoons ever made.

So amazingly good.

Watched it again after my friend returned the DVD.

Awesome.

09 August 2008

American Teen

Half-documentary, half-indie film, half-spirited debate about the life of an American teen growing up in the midwest, this film should be on reading list of every American with a child in school.

I remember high school being like this living in Eureka, but high schools in Southern California have a lot more issues going on than this film could ever address.

I'll let you decide which of the five kids you are rooting for.

What are you waiting for?

Mad Max (Special Edition)

Another kind of end of the world film, I never liked Mad Max as much as Road Warrior. But Road Warrior for some reason is harder to find on DVD.

I will never understand that.

The special edition lacks the narrative and end of the world "intro." The movie also felt sluggish and the ending rushed. Maybe it's been a long time since I've seen it, so I don't remember what it's supposed to be like... but it wasn't great.

Grandma's Boy

In not particular order this is film is/has:

funny
bad plot
lots of marijuana
a chimp
geriphilia
shirley jones
video games
nerds
a nerd in a matrix jacket who talks with a robot voice
boobies

The End of Suburbia

Another Documentary in the long line of "out of resources/credit and banks/america are coming to an end" documentaries.

Compile this with the new Warren Buffet film that is coming and a few dozen internet shorts and you've got a recipe for a faded and destitute future. The film is about 20 years behind the curve of what we "should" know and 20 years ahead of what we're going to do.

If you don't like liberal theory, avoid this one. If you want a semi-rounded approach to the topic of overpopulation and resource management, give this one a watch...
assuming of course you know nothing about peak oil. In which case, the film is superfluous.

Strange Days

My favorite "end of the world" film of this type. Cameron can write and Bigelow can direct. I fell in love with Angela Bassett after this film came out. She and Ralph Finnes have great chemistry in this one.

A little long, but otherwise, I find no flaws with this one.

An Evening With Kevin Smith

Meh.

The Prince story was funny.

Dark Knight (IMAX)

The Watchman trailer was even better in IMAX.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Bought it on video the day it came out.

Oh yeah.

I reviewed this before and my opinion has not changed.

Heroes of the East

And old 1976 Kung Fu classic about a Chinese man who must fight seven Japanese masters in each of seven different martial art styles.

It's as good as it sounds.

31 July 2008

Step Brothers

Yeah.

It's funny.

I hate to admit that, because I usually hate Will Ferrell movies.

But this one is funny from beginning to end.

Damnit.

Bang Bang You're Dead

Certainly to be (purposely) confused with the play of the same name by William Mastrosimone, this movie has a little bit of the play in it and a lot bit of Elephant (by Gus Van Sant) in it. Elephant may be the best film on the subject... hell... it certainly is. It's also one of the best high-school films ever made in the non-hijinx arena. Chumscrubber is up there. Donnie Darko has it's limits, but it's great too. Happiness is also very good, although not about High School, really.

But Bang Bang You're Dead has one thing none of them have... Ben Foster... one of the best actors of his age... Crap... why didn't he play Darth Vader?

BBYD is good, not great. But important. The scene where the teachers unearth one of the videos made by Ben Foster (Trevor), is certainly the strongest in the film. It's good without being preachy and about the level of "in your face" that a movie like this needs if it's to get a "message" across... which is the whole point of the film.

It's not for everyone and it certainly won't affect the bullies the way the play pretends to affect football bravado Brad Lynch.

See it as a primer to Elephant, if you haven't already. And make your PTA group watch it for sure.

X-Files: I Want to Believe

Not being an X-Files junkie, this kind of movie is hard for me to review. For instance, I hated Firefly, so it was a no-brainer that I would hate Serenity... which I did. And I certainly didn't like the first X-Files film.

But this new movie. Well... it's hard to explain.

First. It's really good. It's actually a good movie. But, I'm sure a lot of reviewers are going to complain about some of the decisions in the film. Personally, I thought it took a look of brave turns. There's no extra-terrestrials and Mulder and Scully are getting older... and the script doesn't shy away from this.

Second. It's a smart thriller. It doesn't really cheat and there's a lot of "holy crap" moments in it, unless you're a completely jaded movie watched.

Third. It's not a comic-book movie, in a summer full of slam dunk comic-book movies.

Fourth. It captured my attention and I don't like the series. That's pretty resonating feedback, if you ask me.

Sadly, the low budget is obvious and Sculley's subplot is predictable. But the rest of the movie is strong. And if you're going to watch 20 movies this summer, I would add this to the list.

22 July 2008

Dirty Dozen

The Classic.

Not as great as I remember, but still holding up to the test of time.

So ridiculous and unrealistic on every level, but hey, the only people complaining are the set designers who had to watch everything they built turned into scrap.

Private Parts

Love or hate Howard Stern, you have to respect a man who sticks to his convictions.

Funny throughout. I'm sad it didn't make more money in the box office.

Highlights include the DC radio station era and the Kielbasa.

Not for kids.

The Comedian

Been overdosing on Seinfeld humor lately, but this documentary is the tops of his career... in my opinion.

Fantastic.

Bill Cosby at the end is the icing on the cake.

21 July 2008

Batman: Dark Knight

Wow.

Just amazing.

Certainly in contention for best superhero movie ever.

To date, I have no only disliked all of the Batman films, I have openly disdained them. They are marginally good, if that and usually suffer from too many themes and poor tone.

Someone got some notes to all the staff (except Bale) and told them how to perform in this sequel... and it's fantastic. You're going to hear a lot about this movie in the coming months... and all of it is true.

"Out of the park" good.

16 July 2008

Spiderman 3

Not as bad as I remember, not as good as Spiderman 2.

If Venom had been the cliffhanger of this film, that would have been fantastic.

Instead, it shows up as an after-thought. Too much hollywood in this one. Not enough Sam Raimi.

15 July 2008

Superman Doomsday

I have never been much of a Superman fan. He's boring, perfect, and capable of saving the world -- but doesn't do it. He's the proto-typical Christ-figure, sent here by his father, to save us from ourselves... but only to a point.

And this last part disappoints. Superman never kills evil dictators, he never cures cancer, and he never undoes the effects of third-world poverty. He is, by every description, a phantom in his own world, devoid of responsibility and courage.

However, he is continually painted in an heroic light, showing the world his best qualities when the forces of "evil" demonstrate that saving kittens from trees isn't in Superman's purview, but cosmic battles are. In the end, the greatest Superman stories cannot match the greatest Batman stories, because his priorities are so alien to ours.

All of that said, I loved this cartoon. It showed me why a story about someone infallible can still be good... it's just harder to do. In Superman Doomsday, an ancient menace -- a super soldier -- wakes and ravages Metropolis, forcing superman to go toe to toe with a beast beyond his means. Drawn from the Death of Superman comic series, but made smarter for TV and contained with a 90-minute story, Superman Doomsday tells two stories at the same time.

It reveals the frailty and human-like qualities of the Man of Steel (something few stories have done well before) and it pulls back the curtain on the not-so-complex romantic relationship between Kal-El* and Lois Lane.

Filled with more violence and action that I ever could have ever imagined in a Superman comic (there is blood, people die, children's lives are threatened, superman kills), this movie did not disappoint. However, while watching it my mine did wander and I asked myself a few silly questions about "what if Superman were real?"
  • How much monetary damage did he just do to Metropolis?
  • Was anyone working on the 50th floor of that building the just collapsed?
  • Who built those robots?
  • Why doesn't Lois really ask Superman what she wants to know? I know she's a woman, but she's also a reporter. C'mon. Really.
  • Seriously. That's a lot of money to rebuild that street, those buildings, and those tanks.
  • What were those cops thinking, trying to handcuff Superman?
That's all for tonight. I would certainly watch this again and I think if you like Superman, this is an even better story that you're used to. For those of us that don't like him, this is a B+ film, capable of being an A if they just found a way to make Superman "grittier."

* Superman's Kryptonian Name

13 July 2008

Tell no One (Ne le dis à personne)

I was in Pasadena today and I caught this two-year old French film at the Lemmle on Colorado and El Molino (if you're not from Socal, that's all gibberish).

François Cluzet plays Doctor Beck, dealing with the death of his wife... eight years after the fact. Marie-Josée Croze plays the dead wife and Kristin Scott Thomas ... um... speaks French.

There's some lesbian kissing in the film and some non-arousing nudity.

The move is billed as a thriller -- which takes about 30-40 minutes to get started -- and says that it never lets up -- which is true until the final 15 minutes of very very very long and tired exposition as the Doctor is TOLD everything that happened... which is just a sad, sad way to end a movie this good.

Bad writer. No baguette.

I was also disappointed that the movie was never as tense as it lead on. I was never nervous that Beck would be hurt (the people chasing him clearly want to KNOW something, so he's never in mortal danger) and he always has one of four people to help him out... that's a lot.

Truly, the only tension is whether or not he can make a 5pm meeting in the park.

Rounding out the cast, François Berléand plays another veteran cop in a system marked by corruption and bureaucracy... and only he believes the protagonist to be innocent. Ugh. I could have slept through all of his scenes.

I love Berléand, normally. But as soon as he shows up, I know what he's going to tell me.

In the end, it's a great film. Well-acted and well-directed, Tell No One is the smart film watchers "chase across the freeway" movie. The action is limited, but when it's there, it's very very smart.

I hope I haven't rambled, and I think I was careful not to give anything away. It's out on DVD in the fall, I think.

Hellboy II

The most disappointing film since Indy IV.

So uneven. Such poor dialog. Such a joke of a movie... how do you go from Pan's Labyrinth to this?

Seriously. This guy needs to stop writing scripts and just direct.

Reminds me of all the lame from a Star Wars film.

My wife fell asleep during the movie... and I envy her.

11 July 2008

Are You Being Served?

In 1972, one of the greatest TV Shows of all time was created. A British romp about seven department store employees. Then in 1977, someone said, let's make a big screen movie about them, but commit the cardinal sin of removing the story from it's base and placing it somewhere else.

Yes.

In the movie, everyone is on a vacation paid for by the department store. And the seven staff members get into "wacky" hijinx, but none of it really matters too much, because it's all fluff, camp, self-indulgent, and contrived.

I do not think this film shows the best of what this show can be. And for that it gets a big thumbs down. But please, rent the old TV show (which ran for many many seasons). Once it hit it's stride, it was unstoppable.

Spiderman II

I watched from half-way through to the end today, because this portion of Spiderman II might be my favorite of all Superhero movies... Superman Returns is pretty good when Lex Luthor stabs him as well.

Anyway.

Seen the movie tons of times. Just had to watch that last 45 minutes.

Damn. Damn.

Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut)

I watched the original opening weekend, many years ago. I was unimpressed. Ridley Scott isn't perfect. He makes great stuff. But he makes some ass films as well. Despite opinions to the contrary, American Gangster was not a good film. However, Blackhawk Down is one of the best I've ever seen.

That said, I just assumed KoH was another luke-warm film.

Then I read, that over an hour of material was cut from the film by the producerss.

An hour!!!

Someone decided this movie wasn't for history fans or good movie fans. They decided to market it as a massive war movie. And the short version sucked.

Now.

The director's cut is pure honey and gold wrapped in a heavenly aroma. Man. This version is good. And I hate Orlando Bloom. But this film is good, good, good.

Over 3 hours. It includes an intermission. The politics of the film are complex. The king has leprosy. And there's about 20 plot points I'm forgetting to mention.

Enjoy.

08 July 2008

Red Beard

Toshiro Mifune's final performance in an Akira Kurosawa film turns out to be his most humble... and exhausting.

This 3-hour film tracks a half-dozen sad and depressing stories of poverty in post-Tokugawa Japan, in of all places... a free clinic.

Mifune plays Dr. Niibe -- called Red Beard -- the wizened and altruistic doctor leading the clinic. He is the voice of reason in an otherwise melancholy and depressing movie about the need for humanity in an otherwise fragile and painful world.

The pacing is slow, obviously, and Kurosawa tells many many stories throughout, never once stopping to tell a single tale, but rather lots of little ones.

There's not much to more say about this film. I could talk about the framing and lighting and all the other choices that permeate his career as a film-maker. But at the end of the day, it's still Kurosawa. You know it, when you see it.

On the movie barometer, it's a B+. For a Kurosawa film, it's a C+. He's done so many GREAT films that this one sort of gets lost in the miasma. Worth a watch, but it might take several sittings to get through it all.

05 July 2008

Black Book (Zwartboek)

Carice von Houton plays Elise de Vries (Rachel Stein) during the last year of World War II. Living in Holland, and hiding from the Nazi occupation, Rachel changes her identity and infiltrates the offices of the local Obergruppenführer -- the commander who deals with local unrest and "terroritsts."

Hailed as the most expensive Dutch film ever made -- 22 million -- Black Book is nicely gray and even-handed in its depiction of all sides of the inhumanity of war. At one time, De Vries utters -- "Will this ever end?" -- refering to just how much suffering she endures in a small year of her life, some of it after the war has ended.

The film clocks in at almost 2.5 hours and it seems to be an extended cavalcade of misery and impossibility. However, it is based on real events, and the convoluted nature of the film seems to be honest, rather than hallucinogenic. But, I don't buy all of it. It is definitely worth adding to the enormous library of WWII espionage/Jewish survival stories and a nice addition to Verhoeven's otherwise ludicrous film resume.

Pianist is still the best in this genre... so go see that first. Then rent the Black Book.

I did notice that Carice van Houten spoke four different languages in the movie -- Hebrew, German, Dutch, and English -- which I just found amazing. If you see it for any other reason, see it for Carice's performace... unreal how good she is.

Wall-E

No review of this film needs to be longer than this:

Wally is cute. Film is predictable. Wallace and Gromitt will always be better than Pixar. Overly saturated with social commentary (which was surprising). Loses the audience when it gets to the fat people. In the 21st through 25th centuries: Woman can do anything. Men are comic relief.

Road to Guantanamo

Another documentary in the Think Films arsenal designed to make you hate Bush.

And hey.

It worked.

Good. But tiring at times. It's a little dated, now -- knowing what we know -- but worth a view if you want three films a week.

Otherwise, keep pushing it down your netflix queue.

01 July 2008

Wanted

Loosely based on the comic book of the same name, this movie is even better than the comic. Smart, fast, furious, and in a class of action films that includes:

Shoot 'em Up
Smokin' Aces
Snatch

James McAvoy was unreal. Finally someone got a simpering, sad, underclass MALE right in a movie without making him some underfoot sissyboy. Here's a guy that just oozes with all the right elements — charisma, despair, calamity — without sacrificing anything to get there. People will look down at this movie because it's based on a comic and filled with violent action, but I was impressed on every level with the storytelling and directing.

Morgan Freeman needs to stop making these kinds of films, though.

Easily, in the top 10 for the year.

Definitely.

Five Days: Disk Two

The fourth and fifth episodes of this mini-series were not as strong as the first three, but it did end with a very heavy and depressing THUD. The final argument between the old couple in the garden stands as a truly deep and powerful scene.

The grand-daughter and grand-father scene in the "sanitarium" was pretty good, too.

Worth a watch, but not more than once.

21 June 2008

F*CK

This really poorly structured and hap-hazard documentary shows why Think Films makes one good documentary in ten.

This documentary was so unsmart and unfunny, that the preview of Aristocrats drove me to watch that again instead.

Maybe 10 of the 90 minutes of this was noteworthy. And both the right and left-wing talked at cross purposes and said absolutely nothing.

The linguists and Bill Maher were the highlight... oh and Billy Connelly.

Artistocrats

Saw it yet again.

Gilbert Gottfried continues to be the funniest one in this documentary.

19 June 2008

Don't Mess with the Zohan

And don't watch this movie, unless 9 minutes of laughs in a 90 minute movie is your idea of fun.

Trade

Next to Chan-wook Park's vengeance trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance), this is the most disturbing film I've seen.

It is important. It is good. It is not easy to watch.

The plot is about kidnapping, slavery, and the train of people shipped through the Mexican border into the United States for sale to others.

Happy stuff.

Revolver

I do not know how to review this movie.

It is both amazing and confusing at the same time.

Not the subject matter.

Just Guy Ritchie is not smart enough to pull off this script.

I recommend watching it, but I can't even tell you what it's about... because it's not what you think.

That's all I'm going to say. Sorry.

16 June 2008

The Pick of Destiny

Go find all the songs from the film on youtube instead of watching the movie. That's pretty much all the good stuff.

In Short:
Movie bad.
Music good.

13 June 2008

The Incredible Hulk

While the original Hulk movie had maybe 20 good minutes of screen time. This film has 120 good minutes.

Better than Iron Man.

Seriously.

It basically ignores the majority of the first one. And during the credits, it rewrites the important elements and shows you exactly what you need to know about Banner being in exile in South America.

Mr. Blue was not a "strong" choice and Tim Roth's character gets silly quickly, but the rest of the film is great. The numerous chases/fire-fights are really well-paced.

Starts strong. Ends strong. Is exactly what a HULK movie should be.

Norton pulls it off too, and the CGI of the Hulk is much more HUMAN this time around. Very impressive. William Hurt's eyes tell a lot of story and I was really impressed with how well everyone interacted with the fake CGI monster.

Two thumbs up.

Kung Fu Panda

Holy Crap. Super funny. Funnier than expected. Amazing graphics. I mean, predictable, but who cares.

This movie captured the "destiny" kung fu story very well, while having all kinds of funny/intelligent moments. Not to mention, excellent choreography and action. The fight on the rope bridge was particularly amazing.

So. In short. Funny. Smart. Exciting.

What else do you need in a review of an animated film?

Seriously. The graphics may be the best I've ever seen in an animated film.

I did not check the voice list before going in -- except Jack Black -- and I was really surprised (good and bad) with some of the choices. I won't spoil it, but check it out.

08 June 2008

Housesitter

Not the Sinbad comedy with Phil Hartman, but the Frank Oz comedy with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn.

Great premise and story. Really smart. Really funny.

I love the last 30 minutes the most. I wonder if they'd had a stronger director, if the film would have moved faster or smarter.

07 June 2008

Hot Rod

Extremely re-watchable comedy.

Andy Sanberg wasn't even the first choice and this film was completely ignored. But it is hilarious. The speech before the "big jump" rivals any final speech in a movie, ever.

The plot is exactly as transparent as this kind of comedy plot should be.

Highly recommended. And there's no gross-out humor.

06 June 2008

Mongol

I'm not sure how accurate this film is.

Wikipedia gives a loose account of facts that seem to contradict a lot of the movie.

And the book I'm reading right now starts with him at the age of 50 and then tells the story backwards.

He did wipe out the Tangut Empire (just before his death) wiping it from history.

But the meat of the film seems to be about things other than war and the actions that made him great. Instead, it's about the minutia of his times in exile and as a prisoner. The sixteen years he spent uniting the tribes is glossed over and the real stuff I wanted to see... the decimation, occupation, and consolidation of Eastern Russia and Asia is just a tagline on the screen at the end of the film.

Don't get me wrong, this movie is an A+. All the way. Not a single moment is wasted. But I wanted more. I wanted another hour. 126 minutes was not enough. And I suspect that the Russian version of this film was much longer.

Tadanobu Asano and Khulan Chuluun were fantastic. Wow. Chuluun was hot, even. But. Um. That's irrelevant.

This movie is strong. The cast and performances were great. And its great to see a movie like this about a country that gets no attention today.

02 June 2008

The Strangers

Movies like this usually lead to an increase in gun sales I imagine.

Terrifying. Absolutely one of the scariest movies I've ever seen.

Brilliantly paced and my chest still hurts from watching it.

Whew.

I didn't like the clichéd twisted ankle or the last frame, but otherwise, few complaints.

This is not a stereotypical slasher film. Anyone who says that didn't pay attention... this movie rachets up the tension at a level I cannot calculate. While not based on a true story, or even depicting anything remotely close to realistic, the movie does prey on our preternatural fears.

Good.

29 May 2008

Five Days

I have finished watching parts 1-3 of this BBC/HBO re-enactment/fiction/blur of a fantastically complicated story.

I am awaiting the next disc, but this was engrossing and smart.

Here
are a few interviews and more information, if you're interested.

The Murder of Fred Hampton

This really could have been a 20-minute documentary, with some narration and relevant data. Instead it's really pointless pieces of a puzzle that don't add up to much.

This is an important documentary, but a poorly constructed one.

Frontline: the Dark Side

Here's a link to the PBS special.

The description
After 9/11, Vice President Richard Cheney seized the initiative. He pushed to expand executive power, transform America's intelligence agencies and bring the war on terror to Iraq. But first he had to take on George Tenet's CIA for control over intelligence.
is not accurate.

While Rumsfeld and Cheney (aka Vader and the Emperor) had a hand in all this, the special seems to show how the Head of the CIA (at the time George Tenet) lynched himself by wanting to be "in the game" instead of running the CIA. It could take decades to undo the damage he wrought on the system.

These charts show how Rumsfeld (and friends) have been behind the scenes for decades. Interesting stuff. Factual, without being editorialized (like modern conspiracy documentaries). Worth a watch.

23 May 2008

20 May 2008

The V Word

Part of the Masters of Horror series, I just paid $12 for a 60 minute movie with a nice new twist of vampires, but a very small budget. I think they filmed it for two dollars.

Really smart for such a small budget.

Bad lighting, but excellent editing and directing choices.

The little girl was fantastic. The mom and dad were just plot devices. Didn't even need to be in the film.

15 May 2008

La Vie en Rose

I could not finish this movie.

I do not like biographies as movies, but I do like them as documentaries.

Not sure why I even rented it.

11 May 2008

Tom Horn

Steve McQueen plays the notorious "marshal" and cattle driver, Tom Horn. The movie is slow, but the last 30 minutes are really good. Not sure about the importance of the "romance" angle, but it was historically accurate.

Years after the film was made, the "case" was overturned... 100 years too late.

The true story can be found here. [Includes spoilers.]

08 May 2008

Baby Mama

Since I own GTA 4 and I've seen Iron Man, there's not a lot out at the moment for me to watch.

That said, I cannot fathom what demographic this film is targeted at. It's not smart and it's not funny. So it's certainly not for people who
  1. are smart
  2. like to laugh
I laughed two or three times, maybe. And I don't really remember ever "getting into" the film. I like Tina Fey and I want her to succeed, but I think her "schtick" of being a successful woman has been played.

Yeah. We get it. Your smart, somewhat cute, and you make boys laugh. Wow. You deserve a medal.

If people were looking for a reason to dislike her, this film was it.

Dax Shepherd is somewhat funny. Greg Kinnear plays a throw-away character. Just lame.

And Amy Poehler can do no wrong in my opinion, even when the film isn't funny, she's running away with the scenes.

Speaking of... there are literally scenes in this film that I can't figure out why they were in there. After the scene ended, I looked over and asked, "what was that?"

As a final insult, Michael McCullers is both the writer and director of this flop... and apparently he didn't even know what was funny about the movie/script. Or else, he didn't know how to film what was funny.

03 May 2008

Project A 2

I rented this movie, thinking it was Project A... the original that I had seen so many years ago.

Sigh.

I was wrong. This movie had one REALLY good fight scene and the rest was clumsy. You could tell Jackie didn't have his chops on this one. The "axe gang" in this one is really funny though and the handcuff chase/fight is fantastic.

01 May 2008

Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

I think it's possible this was funnier than the original.

Believe it or not, solid writing, smart acting and direction. And with the exception of the Amsterdam scenes -- which were obviously filmed on Super 8 Digital Cameras -- a lot of money was spent on sets and scenes.

Lots of Marijuana jokes and the bill of rights gag is really too much (not to mention Kumar's masturbations scene).

Certainly not a movie for kids, but adults look for shock humor will be pleased.

29 April 2008

Iron Man

I got to see the movie two days early, thanks to a friend with review status like powers. We waited in line for an hour to sit in the second row and see a massively giant screen in the Arclight theatre in hollywood

And my review is....

B-

Great first hour of movie.

And that's all I'm going to say until the movie releases.

28 April 2008

Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land: Media & the Israel-Palestine Conflict

You can watch the entire documentary here.

Extremely important. Without saying so, it points to the CFR. But, watch for yourself. Title says it all.

26 April 2008

Legend of Drunken Master

I absolutely love this movie. Most of Jackie Chan's film, during a certain era, continued to push the boundaries of stunts and kung-fu. The bad guy Jackie uses at the end, with the long legs and the "savate" style fighting has appeared before. And they always have great fights.

This one has a lot of funny moments and just a few touching moments. Jackie is always careful to balance the two in his films.

Sadly, the version I rented was dubbed, with no Chinese/Subtitle option.

Sigh. You get used to it after 20 minutes, but it's still annoying.

20 April 2008

Forbidden Kingdom

Someone should tell Jet Li to stop speaking English.

Period.

Other than that, this film was a blast. I loved the final 30 minutes. Lots of good, strong, emotional beats were hit.

Michael Angarano was just great in this role. Really went to zero to hero.

All the villains were good too and of course, Woo-ping Yuen shows no signs of getting old as he continues to innovate.

From IMDB
The characters are mostly taken from Chinese mythology and adventure pulps. Lu Yan is a famous Taoist Saint. The Jade Emperor is the ruler of the Heavens in Chinese myth. The Monkey King is from a 16th Century fantasy epic by Wu Cheng En. Golden Swallow was the name of the character played by Cheng Pei Pei in a number of Shaw Bros films like Da zui xia (1966). The White Haired Demoness is the anti-heroine of a pulp novel by Liang Yusheng (filmed twice) with the same title.

19 April 2008

Lethal Weapon

Finally, the best of the best in the series was watched today.

Can I just say that Shane Black (author of The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and all the other bad LW films) created an incredible staple of the cop buddy genre with this movie.

[Although, I think To Live and Die L.A. might be my favorite of the 80s.]

Yes. 48 Hours invented the genre, but Shane Black made them really crunchy and gritty. If you look past some the bad directing, you'll see very grim characters, with no real agendas and foibles.

The only writer who does this better is Andrew Kevin Miller (writer of Se7en, 8MM, and the Ambush). Say what you want about 8MM, the writing was top-notch.
Sidenote, I got to do the graphic design for the 8MM and 8MM 2 Double Feature amray. Talk about your tangents.
Shane Black also wrote The Long Kiss Goodnight, which would have been great if Renny Harlin hadn't been involved.

Lethal Weapon is really really good. In my opinion, it's Gibson and Glover's best work (ignoring for a moment, that it's not Glover that makes To Sleep with Anger such a good movie). In fact, Glover is more important to this movie, than Gibson. Certainly Mel's "get beat-up" routine is prevalent and gritty. In fact, the final fight is fantastic. But. Glover knows how to read his lines. Donner's not a good enough director to get that kind of material out of people. It's Glover who mutters and talks under his breath. It's Glover who brings so many signature stylings to the series. And it's Glover who stays in Character through all four movies, no matter how ridiculous the dialog gets.

The question remains, does Lethal Weapon stand up to the test of time. The others don't, but I don't have an answer to this question at the moment.

Street Fight

If you ever want to watch a film that explores the inner workings of Newark city's 2002 mayorial conflict and the corruption that city enjoys as part of its charm and backwater nature... and we all know you do... this is the documentary for you.

If you're looking for fiction, check out New Jersey Drive.

If you're looking for reality, you cannot top the walking, talking, hypocrisy of Sharpe James. Sadly, the filmmaker (Marshall Curry), doesn't get to film Sharpe because his goon squad of cops do not understand the law.

Which is convenient, because they do whatever they like everywhere they go.

The film is very revealing about the various level of dis-education of inner city blacks... it's not as cut and dry as it seems.

Sharpe James is the carnival equivalent of Karl Rove and this is certainly just another in a long line of power breeds corruption seminars that everyone should see.

Lethal Weapon 2

Now.

See.

This is much closer to the original. Still not as strong as the original screenplay. Some of the dialog is bad and Mel can't seem to find that place where he has all this angst. But. Still.

The only good sequel in the series.
  • Joe Pesci is the least annoying in this film (of 2-4)
  • The opening car chase has highs and lows... the lows start early
  • The sexual chemistry with Riga (sp?) makes no sense. She's hot. But. Feh. Whatever.
  • Murtaugh's family members couldn't act in 1 and they still can't
  • Condom trees are funny. "She made me want to buy rubbers."
  • Straightjackets are great for foreshadowing
  • The surfboard stunt does not stand up well to the test of time
  • How did they see Riggs drop his gun in that chase scene anyway?
Enjoy.

14 April 2008

Street Kings

I often enjoy going into movies without knowing anything about the film. In this instance, all I knew was that Keanu and Forest would be in a cop movie. And of course I could have predicted that it would be about dirty cops.

Is there any other story anymore?

Okay. Let's get the good out of the way, very quickly.

I'm glad the title was Street Kings and not Kings of the Street. That would have been awful. The opening dialog between Keanu and the two Korean gangsters was great. The shoot-outs and action were fantastic.

Everything else... well...
  • Every scene between Forest Whitaker and Keanu Reeves felt as though it had been written that morning and neither had been given time to prep.
  • The director had absolutely no pulse. This was "just a movie." There was no style. No verve. No nothing.
  • David Ayer (the director) has one thorn in his crown -- Training Day (writer) and otherwise has produced some of the most forgettable films ever.
  • This movie really really really wanted to be better.
  • But it wasn't.
  • How did so much talent get wasted?
  • What the hell was Jay Mohr doing in this movie?
  • Why did Reeves once again have a Sandra Bullock-looking token female at his side?
I really wanted to like this film, but I just couldn't. There's just so much mediocrity going on. And when you use kidnapped kids as the scape-goat heart-string puller in the opening 15 minutes and then lose me, wow... you've definitely done something wrong. That scene AFTER he rescues the girl could have been where the movie REALLY defined its voice; truly showing Reeves' character as conflicted about what it is that he does. Instead he was just a paper cut-out leading character that could have been replaced with just about anyone or anything... even CGI. Because at the end of the day, the story needs to matter or the glitz is just bad varnish.

Which makes this movie Pledge (not the movie, but the spray for... oh never mind).

All that aside, there was a crying baby in the theatre, a ringing phone, a lady who was shocked by EVERYTHING that happened, and a phone conversation two rows back, encapsulating just how annoying the average movie-goer has become.

12 April 2008

There Will Be Blood

Went to a small "arthaus" to see this movie again.

Still great.

Although I didn't like the transition from son comes home to son gets married to son has final talk with dad.

Felt forced.

No other complaints.

Daniel Day Lewis is fantastic.

09 April 2008

Goonies

I don't remember hating this film as a kid, but I do now.

Too many kids talking all at once. Too much screaming. Too much of the same dumb jokes over and over again.

Here's a short list of people who got started in this film.
Sean Astin
Josh Brolin
Robert Davi
Corey Feldman
Joe Pantoliano
Martha Plimpton

Let us not forget Short Round (no time for love, dr. jones) from Indiana II reprising his racist role as an Asian who can't speakly goodly engrish.

Thankfully, there's talk of a sequel.

(I miss having good movies to review)

07 April 2008

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen)

Unlike the Good Shepherd, this film has a point, a tone, a direction, and the kind of nuance that only Europeans capture really well. And what's amazing about this movie is that it's a German, reflecting shattered portions of the human soul, lost during a time of socialist overlords in Eastern Germany.

Also mocking the Good Shepherd for its inability to capture the tension of the Cold War, this movie revels in the oppressive nature of the time. It's fantastically engrossing, rife with human drama, and Ulrich Mühe plays the stoicism and quiet reflection of his post a million times better than Damon does in Shepherd.

While the film never grows out of the confines of the small apartment that Ulrich spies on (which I think is the point) -- and therefore never tackles the big picture that Shepherd does (hell, the Berlin Wall falls "on the radio") -- it nevertheless covers the human spirit on both an existential (suicide of Albert Jerska) and a spiritual level (a Sonata for a Good Man).

And, in typical European fashion, the villains of this film do NOT conveniently get what's coming to them, simply because Act Three is coming to an end.

I don't have a good ending for this review, so I'll merely tell you to go see it.

The Good Shepherd

Eric Roth has written a lot of good movies. Never great ones. But certainly good ones. Munich and Postman being among my favorites. And De Niro is a fantastic director (shockingly).

Matt Damon is perfectly cast and William Hurt is a fantastic foil to everything good and decent about the CIA (insert snickers). Billy Crudup is given a weird British accent (why?) and Joe Pesci makes a tiny cameo near the end. The son (Eddie Redmayne) is excellently cast to both match the acting and looks of the six-year Edward, Jr. (played by Tommy Nelson). Finally, John Turturro is high on the list of overlooked actors and he's just so strong in this movie.

Paralleling the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Bay of Pigs, and (through flashbacks) post-WWII England and Europe, the film paints a very gray and murky view of the following real events/organizations.
  • The creation of the CIA
  • The Skull and Bones society
  • The importance of Yale in the "Freedom" of the American landscape
  • Tailors and their front for espionage activity (nice touches)
  • Russians are jerks
The characters range from interesting to very real to cardboard (Jolie comes to mind).

What this film fails to do is create suspense, of any kind, which deadens the blows that come throughout the film. It is, merely, 167 minutes of revelations... even the final one of which is telegraphed.

Alec Baldwin is wasted in the film.

Jolie is hardly in the film and it's hard to feel bad about her relationship with Damon, because nothing is ever built there.

My final complaint about this movie is that it's good, but never great. Too many quality actors are brought together to make a movie that never really says anything or does anything. I want to like it more, but I can't. It's certainly a must-add to your netflix queue, belongs around number 70-100 instead of the top.

Lethal Weapon 3

In an attempt to watch the entirety of this series in order of worst to not so worst, I took time out to witness the only lethal weapon co-scribed by Princess Leia. Not to mention, butchered and mauled by Joe Pesci, Mel Gibson, and the once great Rene Russo.

So.

Let's ignore all that and just get straight to the bad.
  • The cops know the identity of the villain with 30 minutes, yet lack the resources to find his house.
  • Dirty cops are more interesting than dirty diplomats (see Lethal Weapon Two).
  • Gibson's dog never appears in the film, but a replacement mutt does.
  • Gibson eats dog biscuits, conveniently announced 20 minutes before encountering the aforementioned replacement mutt.
  • Let's see. The family is barely in this one. Although Glover's son is in it long enough to hang with a gang-banger named Darryl, who was once a good kid. Or something.
  • Darryl hits Mel with a 2x4 which renders him "woozy"... conveniently so Glover can shoot the kid seconds later. The writers and director apparently failed to notice (or be involved with) any of the previous films where Riggs is impervious to blunt trauma, less than six bullets, normal attacks with knives or spoons, and sunlight.
  • A black man who owns a burger shop and has known Murtaugh for 20+ years is introduced in the second sequel (good writing, guys) and apparently let's Glover behind the counter to spank his meat. Not as dirty or interesting as it sounds.
  • Armor-piercing ammo is affectionately called "Cop Killers" just in case the audience is stupid too to know what the words ARMOR or PIERCING mean.
  • This term is used again during the final moments of the film when Danny Glover tosses a home-made Mac-10 to Mel Gibson so he can finish off the villain.
  • Which wasn't enough, because he skids his bulldozer to a halt (which moves so fast, Mel can't get out of the way), but then comes to a stop so that Mel can hit the "shifter" which drives the bleeding and dying bad guy right into the flaming construction site.
  • Oh. Did I fail to mention that the bad guys are in the high desert again (did you not see Lethal Weapon One)?
  • Oh yeah. The movie opens with a big building exploding. Because it's 1977 and exploding buildings are cool.

03 April 2008

10,000 B.C.

I knew going in this would be stupid. Seeing as Roland Emrich might be the stupidest director ever. He's certainly the worst. But he's also probably very stupid.

Anyway. Without further ado, here's the list of stupid (in no particular order).
  • Iron shackles
  • Chains
  • Iron/steel weapons
  • Sabertooth... thing
  • Being thirsty when there is snow everywhere
  • Three different prophecies
  • Calling a race of people the greatest warriors in the land and never showing them kill anyone
  • Awful dialog
  • Inexplicably weird ending that has nothing to do with anything
  • Too many dangling stupid plot hooks to count
  • Wooly Mammoths
  • White Eqyptian God
  • Pyramids
  • Calling the film 10,000 B.C. when it could (instead) have been a fair-to-good fantasy movie.
  • Hunters that don't know a teenager is following them for a FULL DAY.
The boats and bad guy costumes were really really cool. Wow. Is that the best thing I can say about this movie? Oh. Yeah. The CGI animals.

Woohoo.

Gobots Go!!

30 March 2008

Lethal Weapon 4

Wow. I forgot how bad this movie was. If it didn't have a good chase in the middle and Jet Li, I'm not sure I could say even one good thing about it.

And that was it.

Jet Li plays his first ever villain in his first ever American film. And he's fantastic. Why do they insist on making him speak in all the American tripe he produces. His far-away stare is magic. Just make him do that.

Okay.

Let's just go down the list of bad and be done with it. This review took 15 minutes too long to write and I want to go to sleep.
  • Mel Gibson goes from dark and brooding suicide-candidate in Part One, to someone waiting for a brain-donor in Part Four.
  • The director can't make up his mind. He's as retarded as Gibson. He wants us to love poor, dirty Chinese immigrants with 50 kids and hate all other Chinese who show any kind of ambition. Because in this film there are only two. Ambitious criminals and sweet illegal immigrants. Is this where Crash got inspiration for its message of great hispanics; bad everyone else.
  • The racism is non-stop. The Ls for Rs joke (which is about 50 years out of date) is so prevalent, you eventually tune it out. Flied Lice? Are you serious? In the late 20th century?
  • What is up with the car-honking thing when Riggs and Murtaugh interrupt the General and Jet Li? My god. The retard-level just piqued.
  • Danny Glover gets so cartoonish, he's now playing a caricature of himself.
  • Joe Pesci. Shut up about the drive thru!!!
  • Chris Rock. Ever heard of enunciation? It's a trick actors use to be heard AND understood.
  • Renee Russo. What are you doing in this film? Did your agent explain how this might damage your career?
  • I'm supposed to believe that Traci Wolfe (perhaps some of the prettiest and underused eyes in Hollywood) is married to Chris Rock? And carrying his baby?
  • The dialog is some of the worst in the series. Maybe ever. All the racism aside, this movie's dialog was targeted to moronic kindergarteners who dig in the sand with a honeyed-stick for something to eat. So. So. So bad.
  • You want to get married? You do? You don't? What? Huh? Oops. Train.
  • Can we ignore the last ten minutes in the hospital?
  • http://www.hour.ca/film/movie.aspx?iIDFilm=1194&v=vf

Run Fat Boy, Run

Funny. Funny. Funny.

Fantastic movie. Predictable, but not an American comedy, at all. So very British. Excellent ending.

Simon Pegg always pleases. Thandie Newton was an odd cast. The kid has bad teeth. Hank Azaria is steady, as always. Dylan Moran plays Gordon, 180 degrees from his character in Shaun of the Dead.

Maya Goshdashtidar is played by India de Beaufort... the sexiest new woman in years. Wow. Watch for this one.

Directed by David Schwimer even.

What else can I say. Funny movies are very rare nowadays. Go see this one.

From imdb.com
On a March 21st appearance on _"Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (1993)_, ’David Schwimmer (I)' brought up the scene between Hank Azaria and Simon Pegg that takes place in the locker room. Generally, if males have to be nude for a scene, they will use a nude (flesh) colored pouch to cover themselves. However, for some reason, the pouch wouldn't stay put and Azaria ultimately decided to forgo wearing it -- but told Schwimmer not to say anything to Pegg. The reaction of shock we see from Simon Pegg when Azaria drops his towel is genuine.

18 March 2008

The Bank Job

Good heist movie. Sort of meanders toward the end. Waayyy too much sex.

Jason Statham should stick to English thrillers and stop making movies where he fights Jet Li.

It says it's based on a true story and I'd be curious to know how accurate it was.

15 March 2008

Vanishing Point (1997)

Oh my god.

So bad.

I couldn't finish it.

Crap.

This movie just proves that no one can make car chases anymore. They can create STUNTS, but not chases.

Sad.

Maybe Death Proof was good?!?!

Blood Diamond

The Good.

Wow. Fantastic. Smart. Touching at times. Great production value. Unexpected tone. I cannot believe how much money was spent making this film. Much darker than a big picture should be. Van da Kaap is a great moniker for de Beers. Edward Zwick makes it very clear that the consumers of diamonds are jerks. Leonardo is 90% believable in this role. Jennifer Connelley. Duh.

The Bad.

Overwrought. Poorly marketed. Preachy. Inconsequential. Awful final 15 minutes. Africa apparently sucks. I cannot believe how much money was spent making this film. Van da Kaap is an OBVIOUS moniker for de Beers. Edward Zwick asks the viewer to stop buying conflict diamonds, instead of holding big business accountable. Not a single African in the movie holds a candle to Djmon Hounsou, which just make everyone look bad. The villain is over the top. Eric Bana would have made a better lead on this one. Jennifer Connelley doesn't even get close to naked. What?

11 March 2008

Zodiac

I don't really know how to review this movie. David Fincher was so subliminal in this one... it's just... awkward... dirty awkward too.

I honestly knew very little about the Zodiac killer, but it was interesting to see how long he eluded everyone and how poorly prepared for this kind of thing everyone was.

Fascinating and intriguing film, with all kinds of suspense and accuracy. But the ending may frustrate people and at almost 3 hours, it's sure to bore anyone who thinks Transformers was good.