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Devil (2010)
Redemption and morality. That's what its all about., 2 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"My mother's story would always begin the same way, with a suicide paving the way for the Devil's arrival. And it would always end with the deaths of all those trapped"

What can you expect from the minds of John Erick Dowdle and M. Night Shyamalan? The first one has directed a remake of a brilliant Spanish horror film called 'REC' and the more famous one has directed such "classics" as 'Lady in the Water' and 'The Happening'. Well, something small and quite good. Just as my pen....cil.

Set in Philadelphia (duh, like Shyamalan would set his films anywhere else? Some exceptions may be), five people are trapped inside an elevator. The elevator suddenly goes all dark and tadaa... First kill made. People turn against each other. The elevator goes dark. Tadaa! Second kill. And so on. Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) is called to calm the sh*t down. Will he succeed before the elevator turns dark again. No. Tadadaa! Third person killed. Who's the killer? The Devil? Belsebub? Lucifer? Tracy Morgan?

As you may have already gotten a hint of, I'm not going to go deep in to details of the story. The poster already says that we are dealing with something evil. Something dark (Tracy Morgan?). Brian Nelson, the writer, has managed to create a story that is easy to watch. A bit too easy in fact. I've enjoyed his two last films, 'Hard Candy' and '30 Days of Night', so 'Devil' was a minor letdown. The important tone/mood is nearly nonexistent. The writer and the director have gotten surprisingly little conflicts and interaction between the characters. But then again, elevators tend to be the most silent places in the world, except the annoying music of course. After the first kill, I would've gone berserk and suspected everyone, with closed fists...

'Buried' was another small film that used closed spaces (a coffin) and managed to deliver a claustrophobic storytelling on the screen. Dowdle seems to forget that the elevator could've been the real stealer in the movie, an important supporting element. But instead the movie is set more in the surveillance room. Not like this. Come on! If you have a tiny chance to make something different, make most of it! 'Devil' has its moments but the interpretion of the Bible and folktales tend to take too much importance to the storytelling. The end twists are clichéd and a bit humorous. The ending should've needed a real kick in the nuts. Redemption and morality. That's what 'Devil' is all about.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Compared to all other comedies done lately, this is a masterpiece!, 2 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"I'd like to bend her over a barrel and show her the fifty states." I was in New York for two weeks for the second time now. I had some goals for the trip, like buying some comics, eating a genuine NY hot dog, a pizza slice, walking thru the Park etc. One of the main goals was to see a movie in the theatres, cuz I wanted to compare the differences between Finnish and American moviegoers. On a hot day, we ended to go to the theatre near Bloomingdales. 'Horrible Bosses' was our pick and that was a choice I'll never regret.

Everyone of us has had our frustrations with our bosses. I can tell you now that I've hated everyone of 'em in some ways, some of 'em in all ways imaginable. But have I ever wanted them dead? No. These guys do. Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis) and Dale (Day) have horrible bosses. The Anti-Christ, a coked up green belt and a sexy, horny dentist. Wait? Is the last one that horrible? It's obvious that these guys aren't the killa types, so they seek out for some help from a specialist called Muthafucker Jones (Foxx). With all the tattoos and the attitude, is Muthafucker the real deal? Well, he does give the guys the idea of 'em killing not their own bosses but instead making it a mixed killing. Nick kills Kurt's, Kurt Dale's and Dale Nick's. A simple plan that needs some recon. What could go wrong? The casting for the movie is great. The bosses are well-known performers. Kevin Spacey plays the Anti-Christ, Colin Farrell the coked up green belt and Aniston the sexy bitch. Especially Farrell tends to steal the movie completely. He reminded me of Les Grossman from Ben Stiller's 'Tropic Thunder'. It's like they're some sort of relatives. Farrell doesn't even have to say anything, just looking at him makes you mimic Stan Smith's laughter (American Dad!', anyone?).

"I'm a green belt, motherf**ker!" Aniston's character has probably the filthiest dialogue I've heard from a woman's mouth for a long time. She nails the role perfectly and I'm sure that most of us perverts are pleased to see her deepthroating an innocent banana in her lingerie. It's nice to see Aniston change her casting from these lame rom-coms and do something different. I think that this is her best role as a post-Friends actress.

Kevin Spacey can nail any role so there's not that much to say about that. I'm pretty sure that if I would have a boss like Dave Harken, I'd be in jail right about yesterday. Looking at Spacey, Farrell and Aniston, their enjoyment of the roles is so apparent. The same goes for the "good guys".

I had never seen Sudeikis before this (wait! after some IMDb viewing, 'Semi-Pro' proved me wrong) so there's nothing I can compare him to. But he was good in his role and that's all you need, right.

Jason Bateman has done a long career and after a lame big screen start, he started to get some good roles after 'Juno', back in '07. The films I've seen him in, it looks as if he's been typecast. He does pretty much the same things, manners etc in his roles. But like I've said so many times now, it works.

Charlie Day. I simply put love this guy! This is the first movie I've seen him in, but I've enjoyed 7 seasons of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'. Day is for me the new big hit in the comedy business. There is a problem though. If you've seen Day in 'Sunny in Philly', it doesn't differ that much from his character in the series. He is somewhat "milder" here but if he would do his stuff in 'Horrible Bosses' like he does in the series, the film would be something that the majority would probably not "approve". But I like offensive humor and parts of 'Horrible Bosses' humor is pretty offensive...

I'm fed up with all these lame comedies that the studios defecate to us. 'Horrible Bosses' is something that needs to be done more often. Compared to the other (R-rated) comedies I've seen this year ('Hangover 2', 'Just Go With It'), 'Horrible Bosses' is superb. I enjoyed the film from start to finish. The mood was right, the characters quirky enough and the dialogue probably improvised and funny as hell. This was some crazy sh*t at best and at its "worst", I still had one hell of a time!

Bridesmaids (2011/I)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A romcom with emotional depth?, 2 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"You read my diary? - At first I did not know it was your diary, I thought it was a very sad handwritten book."

At first you'd think that 'Bridesmaids' would just be another romcom. Women having a good time before the wedding with a bachelorette party, meeting men etc and losing every male audience member while doing it. Well, 'Bridesmaids' proves to be a fresh example of a new strong female comedy.

'Bridesmaids' is directed by Paul Feig, who has made a name of himself directing award winning TV series like 'The Office', 'Mad Men' and 'Weeds'. But this is not the reason why 'Bridesmaids' is a success. The whole glory and honor goes to Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who have written the script. What I've read is that Wiig and Mumolo (who makes a short appearance in the movie as the nervous plane passenger) wrote the basic plot and dialogue for the film and when the film went in to production, the cast met and rehearsed for a couple of weeks. The dialogue, the scenes that then came to the screen are mostly improvised by the performers.

Wiig stars in her first major role as Annie, a 30 something woman who has lost pretty much everything. Her fiancé, her business and self respect. Her societal clock is ticking. We all know that in the US, a woman of that age is considered a failure. Get married, get children and lose yourself in the illusion inside the white picket fence. She tries to do everything to get her hands on the cocky money man (Jon Hamm), even though she knows that he's just using her.

Despite all this crap in her life, she does have something nice happening in her life (not to her, though). Her best friend Lily (Maya Rudolph) is getting married and asks her to be her maid of honor. Without money, how does she manage to make Lily's day the best ever possible? And then there's Lily's new friend Helen (Rose Byrne) fighting for the title BFF, doing everything she can to make Annie look meaningless.

The bachelorette party, Vegas, the bridal shower. All clichés that has to be in the movie of course, but the scenes end up being nothing close to a cliché. We have the female rat pack including Megan, Rita and Becca. Megan (Melissa McCarthy) is the not so typical woman. She's more of a masculine trashtalker who has limitless confidence towards the opposite sex. Rita is bored with her "perfect" life and Becca is a sweet innocent woman who knows NOTHING of the real life. Six different women celebrating the last days of Lily's single life. What could go wrong?

Like I said earlier, Paul Feig has nothing to do with the success of 'Bridesmaids'. It's a good thing that he has let loose the women and let them go on their way. Wiig and McCarthy are powerful comedians and there are several scenes that will deliver serious laughter. The scene in the bridal shop, the airplane, the bridal shower to name a few.

There was one unfamiliar face that I started to like a lot. Chris O'Dowd who plays the police officer did a fantastic and in my opinion a realistic performance. I enjoyed it a lot and I'm sure that after the success of 'Bridesmaids', he (as Kristen Wiig) will get some serious offers from the production companies.

There is one thing that "bothered" me. Like most of the other Apatow productions, 'Bridesmaids' could've been edited a 10-15 minutes shorter. Fortunately 'Bridesmaids' ain't no 'Funny People' in length but some repetitive comedy can be seen in the film.

But now for the real reason why 'Bridesmaids' is in my opinion a good movie. This movie has some enormous emotional depth. When was the last time you saw a film with female leads talking of something else than men? Women and their ways of thinking will always be somewhat of a mystery to men but 'Bridesmaids' investigates and gives a realistic (at least that is what I think) view on how the female friendship works. The movie gives a whole different perspective on women and their friendship on the screen. F**k all the lame '27 Dresses', 'In Her Shoes' and 'Bride Wars'. This is the real stuff (still, just thinking over here!)

I hope that 'Bridesmaids' will change the view on how studios see female comedies. This film is smart, sexy, funny and in some ways cruel. It doesn't star the soon-to-be relics like Julia Roberts or whatever. The cast is somewhat unfamiliar to the bigger audience but managed to make hell of a lot of money because of the strong cast and performances. Recommended! Also to those with a purple helmeted beaver basher.

Speed (1994)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One of the better action films of the 90's, 2 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do!?"

The action movie of the 80's is without a doubt 'Die Hard'. The movie that defines action in the first decade of the millennium change is in my opinion 'The Matrix' (I know it's made in '99 but you do understand I have to get 'Speed' here in my introduction and besides I first saw 'The Matrix' in 2000...). So what comes to mind when thinking of action films that defines and changes the genre for better in the 90's? 'Speed'. F**k it, I just came to think about 'T2 - Judgment Day'...

So anyhow, 'Speed' didn't define action for the 90's. 'The Matrix' and 'T2' did a better job. But if 'Speed' would've been done wrong, the end result would've been terrible ('Speed 2, anyone?). Done well, action films can be a lot of fun (and thus forgiving some serious goofs and illogical happenings).

Jan de Bont directed 'Speed' as his first feature film. He had worked on several action films prior to 'Speed' as a cinematographer (Die Hard', 'Hunt for the Red October'...). What I've read from various film magazines and interweb sites, 'Speed' had some issues when going to production.

First of all, I have to mention Joss Whedon's ('Firefly' and 'Serenity') name as he contributed on the script making it work better. He was left uncredited, though. But what worried me the most was that Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock weren't among the first choices for starring roles. Stephen Baldwin, William Baldwin, Arnold Schwarzenegger... "Get to da choppa!" just sounds better than "Stop da buzz!".

Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Anjelica Huston, Emma Thompson, Diane Lane? Great actresses without a doubt but was their first intention to make the film about a group of middle aged tourists on a 20 mph bus touring Beverly Hills? OK, that sounded very stupid and I apologize for my lame effort to be "funny".

Films like 'Speed' are intended to charm the younger audience. I can't think of a better on-screen couple than Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Both good looking and terrible actors (yeah, like she deserved the Oscar!). The acting is so terrible at times that you have to be set for the right mood for it to work. You can't see 'Speed' and wait for some groundbreaking method acting. This is supposed to be cheesy and fun. It's not like Jeff Daniels or Dennis Hopper would be doing a better job but I just can't think of any other for their roles. Hopper is perfect for his role as the villain (just like in 'Super Mario Bros'... yeah right.) and in my opinion he is the scene stealer.

So what's the film really about then? Small pensions and cheap gold watches make retired cops go berserk and make bombs on elevators and buses while forgetting everything about police tactics and getting their faces turn purple of paint. That is pretty much the whole idea. So what do you do? What do you do!? Just go see it for the fun and the hidden charm.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Monsters in Manhattan? Who would've thought..?, 2 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"I had a good day."

I remember when I saw the teaser trailer for 'Cloverfield' at the cinema. Having Lady Liberty's head thrown to the streets of Manhattan. Wow. At the same time, advertisements of 'Cloverfield' started to take over the web. Little did they tell about the movie but I guess it worked cuz the audience found the movie.

I basically knew nothing of Matt Reeves, the director, but I guess everyone knows who J.J Abrams is. The man behind 'Lost' and the amazing 'Star Trek' reboot and 'Super 8' as his latest film. All you need is one talented name in the production and the interest level goes way up.

'Cloverfield's' 15-20 first minutes focuses mainly on the main characters. Character development shown thru flashbacks found on the camera recorder and the "live" development going on at the party and voila. There you got the assembled characters for things to come. I consider these first minutes prior to the main event important, cuz if you'd have like no interest in the persons, the film would not work at all. Some may look at this as something very dull and useless but they don't know sh*t...

After the Statue of Liberty scene, the viewer is put straight to the core of the action. The viewer knows and sees just as much as the characters. Answers like "what, why and how" aren't answered. You have to experience them yourself. Things aren't explained at any point, not even during or after the credits. The film starts as an evidence clip found on the site "formerly known as Manhattan". This leaves a good "aftertaste" when the film has ended.

The richness of 'Cloverfield' lies in its technical execution. Some may feel the shaky hand-held camera as annoying or whatever but I think that this is the stronger parts of 'Cloverfield'. This documentary like feeling works nicely and I couldn't think of any other way on how the filmmakers would have shot the film.

Use of the lesser known performers is also a good thing. It makes 'Cloverfield' look more "realistic". I really wouldn't wanna see any of the Baldwin brothers or any other B class has-been screaming in panic on the screen. The performers do a good job but then again it's mostly just panic like fear and screams displayed on screen. But I have to mention once more that it all seems so realistic.

'Cloverfield' isn't the most profound movie out there but it does have some fine, intensive and exciting scenes. It does have some illogical things here and there but as a 80 minute thrillride it works perfectly.

Open Range (2003)
Glimpse of hope for the western genre, 2 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Well, if I'm gonna get killed, I got a hankerin' to soothe my sweet tooth."

The western genre isn't doing that well anymore. After Kevin Costner's 'Dances With the Wolves' and Clint Eastwood's 'Unforgiven', it's been kinda slow for the cowboys. It took over a decade before a considerable western was made. It wasn't' a big surprise that Costner did it. He really seems to have the ability to capture the magic of the era.

'Open Range' tells the story of two free-range cattlemen, who get in to trouble with a local land baron. He hates the way of these free-rangers who "steal and destroy" his lands (these kinda conflicts weren't that unusual in the late 19th century and several westerns were made in the golden era of westerns in the 40's and 50's). Things result in terrible ways, which leads to Boss Spearman (Duvall) and Charley Waite (Costner) prepare to defend themselves and to get some justice.

'Open Range' is a typical western, from the storyline point of view. Costner has yet managed to increase the suspense towards the end finale and capture the "old spirit" of westerns. The story develops in a calm way but doesn't fail to be draging or boring. Costner has given plenty of time for character development, revealing glimpses of the two main characters past.

There are a few complaints regarding the movie. 'Open Range' could've been edited some minutes shorter by not adding a useless sub plot regarding Costner's and Annette Bening's characters relationship. There are some scenes, not gonna mention when and where for spoilers, that have some very queasy and implausible dialogue. It just didn't work that well.

The cinematography of 'Open Range' is beautiful with longlasting shots of the beautiful landscape. Jim Muro has also managed to capture the tension of the shootout. The shootout is by the way one of the best I've seen. I've mentioned lately in my reviews the word realistic. This does look realistic and Muro has had some terrific eye for capturing it all on the big screen. Nicely choreographed by the way.

'Open Range' is one of the better westerns I've seen, even though it doesn't deliver anything new to the genre. Nice chemistry between the two main characters, good dialogue between them and all together good acting by the actors. Considerable westerns haven't been made that many lately (3:10 to Yuma), so 'Open Range' is a welcomed addition to a genre that needs some glimpse of hope.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
What a waste of talent and chance of making something completely hilarious, 2 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"This quest sucks!"

David Gordon Green has made some interesting and good films in the past ('Undertow') and pretty recently ('Pineapple Express'). But what about this one then? The quote above pretty much sums it all up.

In a far away land, there lives two princes. Thadeous (McBride), a cocky and cowardly fatty. With fatty I'm not talking about a perfectly shaped large ass. Let's just say that he's not in shape. But he does enjoy smoking fatties... Where were we again. Was there another prince? Oh yes. Fabious. He's just fabulous. The next King. The great hope of the kingdom. But I'm pretty sure that this gullible princeter has been molested by a wizard of some sort...

So anywho. There are other characters but who really gives a f**k. All of them are pointlessly put out in the script. Zooey Deschanel, who is by the way the sexiest chick in the business, is totally lost in the picture even though she's the princess their after. Damian Lewis's character could've been written better. Natalie Portman? OK, she just won the Oscar. Did you know that 'Your Highness' was re-scheduled a few times. Why's that? I guess they've learned of the Eddie Murphy 'Dreamgirls' - 'Norbit' incident. Murphy would've won the Oscar without that 'Norbit' disaster released at the same time. Nuff said. Where were we again? I guess Green has tried to make 'Your Highness' as a mocking tribute to all these 80's fantasy adventures we've grown up with. 'Willow', 'Conan the Barbarian', 'Red Sonja' etc, you know 'em all. Green just went wrong on some really important things. There's a lot of missed opportunities here.

First of all, 'Your Highness' starts on very slowly. I understand that you have to introduce the protagonists etc but man... I almost broke my main rule and searched for the forward button on the remote.

Secondly, 'Your Highness' just ain't that funny. There are some scenes that are amusing but you know that feeling when you're cracking up completely? It ain't here.

Thirdly (can I even say it like that?), Green does deliver some obscene scenes but he doesn't max 'em out completely. It almost feels as if he's apologizing before hand.

There ain't gonna come a "fourthly", because I'd probably brake every rule in English grammar. This film just is a mess. There were some scenes that were OK but there's gotta be more. There's no denying that 'Your Highness' has lots of talent in it. It just ain't used the way it should.

"All I want is for you to be a part of this moment. I want you to be gay with me and father. - I don't want to be gay with you two!"

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bale's fantastic performance in an underrated masterpiece should be seen by all!, 2 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Who are you?"

Christian Bale goes beyond extremity in his role as Trevor Reznik. He lost over 30 kg (60 lbs) to get this troubled skeleton looking character to life. A tremendous act of commitment for the part and method acting at its best.

Trevor Reznik hasn't slept for over a year. He works in a factory as a machinist. One day he causes an accident to a co-worker. He was distracted because of Ivan, a mysterious man who seems to know something about his past.

After the accident, Trevor starts to get closer to paranoia, he thinks that his co-workers have made a plot against him. Mysterious notes, with the game of hangman, starts to appear at his home. The only comfort he gets is from a whore, played by the always great Jennifer Jason Leigh, and a waitress, whom he meets every night after work at the airport cafeteria.

"What, babe? What's going on in that crazy head of yours?"

'The Machinist' has some familiar themes like insomnia and the consequences of it. Is it all just an illusion or harsh reality? It is hard to trust the images given to the viewer, the world seems different to Trevor than to the other people in the film. It's difficult to know who's real and who is not.

"You outta do something about that faulty memory of yours, pal. Might make life a little bit easier."

The film offers some "deja vu" like scenes. For example the Route 666 scene where Trevor is offered two choices; "Highway to Hell" or "Road to Salvation". Later on in the movie, in the sewers there's either A or B, dark or light. This is just an example on how detailed the script is. Another fine example on the mystery is the register plates on the cars. Check 'em out, they'll give you some hints.

Duskiness of the lighting and the grainy photography gives us an industrial feeling. Xavi Giménez, the cinematographer, uses different shades of grey and blue throughout the movie. "The Machinist" looks very good and is something different than the average picture.

'The Machinist' is not for the casual movie goers. It's dark and heavy to look at. The detailed script gives the viewer a lot of excitement and twists that guarantee a rewarding experience.

As curiosity, Brad Anderson had troubles to get the film to production in the States so he decided to do it in Spain with foreign producers. Thanks for that, because this film is one of my favourites.

"I know who you are..."