Reviews

56 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
10/10
I saw screening tonight of Unsere Afrikareise...
3 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
...and I loved the film. The way director Peter Kubelka edited the 14 hours of film into the 12.5 min is impactful, explosive. He takes sound effects from different sources to create something revealing truths in the footage. Like a gunshot appearing to shoot off a guy's hat or the music in the background during the hunts. A female member of the hunting party laughs and he carries the laugh on far past it's end, while the woman converses.

This movie blew me away. I was mesmerized. Very fortunate to see it screened on the big screen at Yale. I suggest that any true lover of cinema or abstract realism should watch it if given the chance.
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Hey Vern, Win $10,000 (1987 Video)
10/10
Ernest is Excellent
13 November 2007
Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell is one of the most memorable characters I remember from growing up in the 80s. Good stuff. I did not see this short film yet, but I will. Just picked up the Essential Ernest on sale for $5, at WalMart, and its got two films and a lot of the short film content like this one. Ernest and Jim Varney will be sorely missed. If you have never seen an Ernest film, check out Ernest Goes to Camp, which was an excellent comedy. His commercial shorts are hysterical too. The interaction between him and Vern is priceless. Vern is just the camera eye view, we never ever see him in any of his films. Some of his stuff can be rather silly, but its refreshing to see him tackle comedy like that, in a sincerely genuine way. He is like a clown, just not with all the creepy makeup.
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Jestem (2005)
8/10
A good film about a tragic young protagonist.
22 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
On a chilly night, across the world in Warsaw, Poland, I had the privilege of attending the closing gala of the Warsaw International Film Festival. It was a red carpet event, with the director and stars there, and a great opportunity to mingle with them.

The film was called 'Jestem' (in English it means 'I am'), and it was a Polish film directed by Dorota Kedzierzawska. It starred Piotr Jagielski and Agnieszka Nagórzycka, with Pawel Wilczak.

Before watching the movie, we heard a summary of the successful festival from the directors of the festival and a brief statement from the film's director herself, in front.

The lights dimmed, and the movie began.

The film is the story of a boy searching for his place in life, his identity. After running away from an orphanage and being rejected by his mother, the resolute 11-year-old finds a "home" on a deserted old barge. I think it came out well. I enjoyed the film, and thought the young actor in the main role did a fine job.

Worth seeing in my opinion.
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The Queen (2006)
9/10
All hail the Queen, err Helen Mirren!
12 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown" - Henry IV, Part II All hail the Queen! Oops, I meant Helen Mirren, who won a much deserved Oscar for Best Actress at the Academy Awards this year! Helen Mirren's brave and confident portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in THE QUEEN is remarkable. Consider the fact that the monarch is alive and well and Mirren grew up under her reign in the UK. Besides the physical traits the Queen and Mirren share (such as a slightly down turned mouth), her portrayal of the Queen is imbued with a real humanity, quite beyond a simple "stiff upper lip". Our story is set in the year 1997, in London, during a very tumultuous week for England and its royal family. Tony Blair is elected Prime Minister and seeks to modernize the old institutions of the UK. He is overwhelmingly voted into office, and following tradition the Queen appoints him Prime Minister. This is a terribly formal event, involving some rather quaint formalities. Following the usual addresses and bows, the Queen is still obligated to ask him to be Prime Minister - he is not just assumed to have taken on that role just yet. On the heels of Blair's appointment comes the sudden death of Princess Diana in a high speed car chase in Paris. The public reaction worldwide is far greater than the Queen anticipates, and she takes Diana's two children, Prince William, 15, and his brother Harry, 12, away from all the publicity to protect them and help them deal with the tragic loss of their mother. They go to a country estate far from the city. With an old fashioned sensibility, the Queen wants a private funeral for Diana, and the solace of the English mountains. But as the public spectacle grows for Diana, along with the pile of flowers in front of the Buckingham Palace gate, the absence of the Queen is widely viewed as cold indifference. A rift forms between the people and the crown, fueling talk of abolishing the monarchy. Tony Blair respectfully pleads her to come and appear, but to no avail. In the meantime he acts as a mediator on the Queen's behalf; soon it is apparent however that she must concede. 'The Queen' grants us a glimpse behind-the-scenes at an enigmatic figure grasping awkwardly at the fact that times had changed, and that she had to change with them, or be the ruler of an unnecessary establishment. In the shadow of Princess Diana's passing we see the Queen's stoic vulnerability, her burdens, expectations, and conflicts faced in the public eye and behind closed doors. There is an inherent dignity which guides the Queen in her daily decision making. Director Stephen Frears' most recent film 'Mrs. Henderson Presents' starred Judi Dench and was outstanding. Frears does quite well with 'The Queen', earning an Oscar nomination for Best Director, along with a Best Picture nod. When you watch the film you cannot help but think - how do they have any idea of what happened in private? Through extensive interviews with many unnamed sources writer Peter Morgan is able to give us a peek into the intimate events the film focuses on. The sense of realism continues with the choice to use actual footage from that week outside of Buckingham Palace, in Diana's funeral, and the interviews with the public. Helen Mirren impressively paints a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II without wasting effort on perfect mimicry. This film is moving, surprising and completely fascinating.
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8/10
Captain Jack Sparrow steals the show (again).
29 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The 3rd part of the trilogy that has made swashbuckling pirates big screen box office gold once again after many years adrift in VHS Ocean. All the characters are back for another chance to "Arghh" on the high seas in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END - Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightley), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Davy Jones (Bill Nighy), 'Bootstrap' Bill Turner (Stellan Skarsgård), and the real standout of all three films, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). We are introduced to another unsavory character in Singapore Pirate Captain, Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat). Lord Cutler Beckett is hunting down and executing anyone who is or has associated with a convicted pirate. There is a rousing rendition of "Hoist the Colours" initiated by a ten year old boy, gathered with his nefarious peers about to be hanged on some brutally effective gallows. This cutthroat war that Beckett and the East India Trading Company is waging on pirates everywhere prompts a call to action and a meeting of the nine Pirate Lords from the four corners of the globe convenes at Shipwreck Cove. Will, Elizabeth, and Captain Barbossa have to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow from the land of the dead, Davy Jones' Locker. He is stranded there in a vast desert with the grounded Black Pearl and plenty of hallucinations to keep him company. Lord Beckett has possession of Davy Jones' heart and unites with squid-like Jones to conquer the seas, and the pirates in them. The Pirate Lords want to release Calypso, goddess of the sea, who is revealed to be among them in human form. They unite bringing the nine pieces necessary to unbind her and set her free, in hopes that she will aid them in their fight. Will and Elizabeth are soon to marry and have to work through relationship issues amidst all the action, such as Will's deception on his quest to free his father from the Flying Dutchman. A lot of watery twists and turns occur, as the film builds towards a tremendous climax between the pirates and the amphibious crew of the Flying Dutchman, teamed with the British Royal Navy's fleet of ships led by Lord Beckett. Beckett's ship, The Endeavour, appears to have cannons protruding from every orifice! There is a lot of plot to sift through leading up to a climax that will take your breath away. The visual effects at the end are magnificent, setting a high precedent as Hollywood films get more and more dazzling. It is no secret that Johnny Depp's offbeat performance as mascara'ed Captain Jack Sparrow was inspired by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Richard's cameo as Jack's father Captain Teague is one of the film's great surprises. Depp approached him about the part, and through scheduling it worked out. Depp and Richards have been real life friends for over a decade now. Johnny Depp's acting career has always been fearless and unpredictable. His brilliant, comedic turn as Jack Sparrow will be remembered. As for a fourth Pirates movie, Producer Jerry Bruckheimer said he will wait a bit on that. Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush however are both open to a reprise of their pirate characters. Each film in the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' trilogy has been getting longer and longer, 'At World's End' clocks in at 168 minutes – 25 minutes in length over the first 'Pirates' which came out four years ago. It is a very long plank to walk at 168 minutes, but dive in if you have ever taken the Disneyland ride or just want to enjoy a lengthy piece of summer "escape fare". I distinctly remember the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland I rode in the 80's as a child, and while staying true to the ride's theme set forth long ago, at some points the plot was waterlogged. But if you liked the first two, you will most likely revel in the thrills this film offers. Oh, and be sure to stay through the end credits for the final clip shown. Without giving it away, I will just say it is worth the wait. "Aye, I'll have some popcorn with lots of butter and sea salt. Thanks matey."
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9/10
Sharp Comedy!
22 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
KISS KISS BANG BANG is a highly original dark comedy brought to you from the writer of the Lethal Weapon films. This is Shane Black's utterly impressive directorial debut starring Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and co-starring Michelle Monaghan. Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is a thief who is running from the police immediately after a botched store break-in, stumbling into a film audition unexpectedly. Harry is the film's anti-hero and narrator. Harry wows them with his intense "method acting" brought out (unknowingly to the directors) by the script thrust into his hands upon entering the room. Just like the written dialogue he reads from the pages, his partner was also shot in a break in that had just went horribly wrong. While Harry is worked up and kneeling in front of the directors, a cop hot on Harry's tail bursts into the room. The policeman mistakes him for an actor, wishes him luck and then departs. The previous scene lets you in on what you can expect with the viewing of 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'; and that is that you do not really know what to expect. Therein lies the real magic of this film. As a narrator, Harry freezes the reel of the film a couple times to poke fun at the film and to critique his performance as a narrator. As a thief, disguised as an actor, Harry gets tips from Private Eye Consultant, Gay Perry (Val Kilmer), on how to act the part for the film. Harry tells various girls he meets in the L.A. bars that he is a private eye, receiving a lackluster reaction. No doubt they all wished he was a director. By pure chance Harry runs into Harmony (Michelle Monaghan), a girl he was in love with in the small Indiana town where they grew up together. She was 16 when she took a bus to California to be a star. At age 34, she has not yet accomplished that dream, besides a small spot in a beer commercial. Harmony is suspicious of her sister's sudden suicide, and beseeches Harry to help her find out the truth. We are along for the twists and turns of the case that Harry, Gay Perry, and Harmony are officially not supposed to be involved in. Downey and Kilmer are a dynamite comedic duo! Their performances will stick you to your seat with laughter, in 103 minutes of exceptionally sharp writing by director Shane Black. To say Shane Black shows promise his first time out as director, is an understatement. It's like stating that Orson Welles made a modest debut as director with his iconic film classic 'Citizen Kane'. Many movies in film history have had great writing, but with poor direction, the potential is lost in the film-making process. Under Black's direction, this independent noir comedy achieves its potential as a laugh-out-loud original work. Through some online research I discovered that the term "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was first coined in the 1960s by the Japanese press as a nickname for James Bond. Writer/Director Shane Black loved the term and chose it as the movie's title because, "it so clearly represented what this film is." From the opening of 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' until the end, you are in store for an original gold nugget of cinema.
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Spider-Man 3 (2007)
10/10
An early contender for this summer's best blockbuster.
15 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When you venture out to see a movie in the theatre, you hope to be engaged and have your appetite for entertainment met. You congregate with fellow audience members in the darkness and ideally will leave with a satisfied feeling that only a very good movie can give. The third installment of the Spider-Man franchise did just that for me. The film swung into theatres on May 4th and has broken box office records, making $59.3 million it's opening day alone! SPIDER-MAN 3 is something of a marvel, forcefully shaking off the "sequel law" which dictates that each sequel must inevitably get worse and worse, declining in quality and really being just a cheap facsimile of the sharp original movie. The Spiderman trilogy proves once again (i.e. the Indiana Jones trilogy) that the sequel rule can be broken on rare occasion. In case you have not caught the first two Spider-Man films or need some refreshment on the plot, the starting of this film brings you from the beginning of the first Spider-Man right to where the last one left off with a cool montage of clips placed in the opening credits. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) are getting serious in their relationship. But while Spider-Man's popularity in the city is at an all time high, Mary Jane has been let go from her Broadway debut after just one critically bashed performance. Peter is so engrossed in the people's adulation of his alter ego Spider-Man and fails to be a shoulder for MJ to lean on. Peter's former friend, the wealthy Harry Osborn (James Franco), is plotting his revenge for the death of his father who he believes died at the hands of Spider-Man. Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church) is an escaped convict who falls into a particle accelerator while on the run, transforming him into a shape shifting sand-man. He wreaks havoc on the city, robbing banks and armored vehicles. At the Daily Bugle where Peter works we have Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), a hotshot freelance photographer who has just been hired. In competing with Peter for the best photos of Spider-Man he cheats by Photoshopping Spidey into a bank break-in. Yet still, there are more problems for Spidey: one night black alien liquid oozes from a crashed meteorite, and attaches itself to Peter while he sleeps. This gooey creature uses him as a host, making him aggressive and causing a downward spiral into arrogance and selfish behavior. As Spider-Man/Peter Parker confronts the darkness in himself, he must overcome the need for revenge which has consumed him after some recent disturbing facts have come to light. I will not give anything away, but those twists affect core plot points as far back as the first Spider-Man movie! Writer/director Sam Raimi weaves it all into a cohesive and entertaining 2 hours and 20 minutes. There could be a lot of conflict in such a loaded storyline, but it is handled deftly by Sam Raimi, and he leaves you at the end wanting more. He makes us feel empathy for the Sandman who is out getting money for his sick daughter, and Harry who lost his father. The first Spider-Man was extremely "comic-book", really just a visual thrill ride, while the second one made an effort at having deeper character development in its villains and good guys. The third one leaps astronomically far ahead of the previous two on all levels, making it a strong early contender for the summer's best blockbuster. There is a brief cameo by the co-creator of Spider-man Stan Lee as well, midway through the movie, so watch for that. This movie is the most expensive film ever made in history, costing $258 million dollars! So watch a rare product in today's Hollywood: an enormously budgeted movie that has thrilling special effects paired with a compelling and thought provoking storyline.
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10/10
Puts the "fun" in dysfunctional.
18 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Follow a dysfunctional family made up of six vastly different individuals in a bright yellow VW bus on a hurried chaotic road trip, and experience one of the brightest filmic gems of recent memory, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. A Sundance favorite, 'Little Miss Sunshine' has emerged as a mainstream hit receiving four Oscar nominations this year, including Best Picture. The wonderfully penned debut by writer Michael Arndt earned him an Academy Award, and provided the filmmakers with ample material to shape and craft into the memorable film that resulted. The opening of the film quickly establishes the idiosyncrasies of our main characters. Richard (Greg Kinnear) is determined to become a self-help guru with his "Refuse to Lose" system that is far from taking off. His wife Sheryl (Toni Collette) is supportive, but her patience is waning. Sheryl's brother Steve (Steve Carell) is a suicidal Proust scholar, put in the family's care temporarily until he gets better in the head. Richard and Sheryl's two kids are as different as night and day. Their teenage son Dwayne is in the midst of a vow of silence until he gets into the Air Force and becomes a fighter pilot. Dwayne keeps a book by Friedrich Nietzsche cracked open and claims to have been inspired by the German philosopher to stay mute. Olive (Abigail Breslin) is their fragile 7 year old daughter, obsessed with the validation of winning a beauty pageant someday. And finally, we have the grandfather (Alan Arkin), teaching Olive a dance routine for the beauty pageant, meanwhile having a closet heroin addiction. We are introduced to the quirky parts of this imperfect family machine and the story takes off. Olive has the chance to compete in a beauty pageant in Redondo Beach, California, and the entire family is forced to embark on a road trip full of calamity and comedy. Leaving from their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, they each are forced to get to know and appreciate each other, whether they want to or not, in the cramped space of the VW bus. It is really not all that implausible that the vast assortment of these characters can indeed exist in any single American family, making it easily relatable to virtually anyone. Most of us can see a piece of ourselves in either the youthful angst, or the older adult crises. As the VW bus nears its destination, each of the family members are tested, with perceptions and beliefs challenged. The pageant now represents a rallying point for them all, not just a contest for Olive to compete in. Despite setbacks and road adventures, they push on to California to make it on time, and have Olive be their symbolic champion. When all is said and done they see that the outcome does not matter. The fake and polished veneer of the pageant is abhorrent, and they see that awkward little Olive cannot fit in this world, and does not belong there. For in Olive, as in all of them, lies an individual that is important just as they are. 'Little Miss Sunshine' is both heartfelt and tragic, with an important message - life is not about the destination, but about the journey. The plot does not surround the pageant really, but the experiences the family shares on the way there. This ensemble cast works so well because nobody is trying to "steal the show"; they act together with a subtlety that is a treat to watch. This film is a wonderful comedic surprise, and certainly one of my favorites from the last year. This family puts the "fun" in dysfunctional – sit back and enjoy the ride!
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300 (2006)
9/10
Most thrilling visual cinematic experience of the year!!
10 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The phenomenally successful worldwide box office smash '300' has earned almost as much globally as it has domestically, bringing in a whopping total of $323 million dollars so far! '300' is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name, and while taking some artistic license, the story is based on the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. in Greece, between the Spartans and the Persians. Many of you (myself included) are probably not involved in the graphic novel world, but may recognize Frank Miller as the one who wrote the graphic novel Sin City, which was made into a hit film in 2005. As a massive army of Persians, led by the megalomaniacal Xerxes, nears Sparta, Xerxes sends an emissary asking for the submission of the city-state to his will. Xerxes wants to simply conquer the world, and is a self-declared god. In a show of defiance, the Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) kills the messenger, inciting the anger of the so-called divine leader, Xerxes. In preparation for defense of the country, King Leonidas consults the Greek council, which has been infected with political opportunism. They do not want to fight but instead negotiate. To make matters worse, the local oracle, which he is forced to seek permission from, consists of a young drugged woman, held by corrupt priests that do not allow the release of the full army to battle the Persians. King Leonidas, a true Spartan, cannot take this assault lying down and rallies together 300 Spartans to take on the impossible role of putting themselves at odds with 250,000 plus of the Persian army. It is interesting to note the definition of the word Spartan in the dictionary states that they are "rigorously self-disciplined… courageous in the face of pain, danger, or adversity." King Leonidas takes his army of 300 professional soldiers, to fight off the advancing Persian army, choosing a strategically advantageous position in a narrow mountain canyon 12 meters wide, a corridor set in the steep cliffs off the Aegean Sea that the Persians would have to pass through. In the movie this place is referenced as "the Hot Gates" (the literal translation of "Thermopylae"), where the large army trained to fight on Asia's open plains, cannot take advantage of their full numbers, giving an advantage to the Spartans. The hope for reinforcements is always there, but they stand their ground with no certainty of any relief, until death if need be. These Spartans possess courage, self sacrifice, and camaraderie, not fighting as an individual but as a unit for a common purpose – their country. Back home King Leonidas' equally strong wife, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey), navigates the home front perils of crooked politicians and backstabbing. This story is decently wedged in, giving females in the audience more of a reason to see this film (besides the shirtless men with muscular superhuman abs on display throughout most of the film). As the Queen's husband fights the foreign invaders, she struggles to get the backing at home to send the entire army and keep Greece free. The scene in the film's beginning when the King and her part ways is fascinating, with the Queen handling it with a real stoic strength and resilience, knowing to spend a moment on sorrow would be a tax on her energy which she cannot afford. The famed Battle of Thermopylae, the epicenter of this film, is said to have inspired all of Greece to band together against the Persians, and help usher in the world's first democracy. The texture of the film is not meant to create the reality of the historical event, but to make the bare essentials of the story explode on screen in an entertaining fashion. This is not history verbatim, rather an artist's interpretation on those actual events. So you have fiendish monsters, and tinted landscapes that are so beautifully designed with CGI your jaw drops as if seeing a large painting suddenly come to life right before your eyes. '300' does stay away from being campy, because of the display of real grit and conviction in each actor. The glory of Greek stories such as The Iliad, which seem far fetched, is suddenly mounted up on the wall of your local cinema screen on a glorious widescreen canvas! This is the stuff of legends, one of the most famous rallying stories in history, of a stubborn group of fierce warriors who engage a massive army, at the expense of their lives. "It's a place where great and glorious things happened," Frank Miller describes. "We are talking about the crucible, the epicenter of the battle for everything that we have, for everything that is Western civilization. There's a reason why we are as free as we are, and a lot of it begins with the story of 300 young men holding a very narrow pass long enough to inspire the rest of Greece." You are so effectively thrown into this world Frank Miller created, that you almost want to reach for your shield as a spear flies through the air, pick up a fallen comrade, and bare your own sword against the oncoming enemy. The fast and slow motion camera effects warp reality, adding an enjoyable twist to the film. '300' is the most thrilling visual cinematic experience of the year, do not miss this one.
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Adam and Eve (2005)
9/10
One part of story was excellent...
3 April 2007
The moral of the story, and the main plot point between the two main leads, playing Adam & Eve - told very well, and acted out well. The rest of it? I don't know. Guess it is National Lampoon drivel.

So watch the movie for the interplay going on and the well written story about waiting for the right one to have sex with first, and when you hold off, the complications that arise in the male partner. I have been there before myself. And I know what he is feeling. Except now I can handle it with more of a level of maturity. So that is why you should watch this. It is a realistic portrayal of that kind of happening, in many relationships today. Albeit less than a few decades ago, but it is still happening around us...

I connected and cared for these two main characters, Adam & Eve, but the rest? Who cares.
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9/10
A rewarding treat
8 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"The Ultimate Gift" stars James Garner, Brian Dennehy, Drew Fuller, Ali Hillis, and Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin, who recently starred as Olive in "Little Miss Sunshine," which also was nominated this year for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

This is the fourth film from Fox Faith, a division of Twentieth Century Fox, created to provide audiences with quality inspirational features, something of a recently opened Hollywood niche, prompted by the overwhelming success of "The Passion of the Christ." An important thing to keep in mind, though, is that these Fox Faith films are thankfully not "preachy." Their content is more balanced, with solid story lines exploring each character's mental and spiritual health and wellbeing.

The plots revolved around discoveries in people's lives we can easily relate to, leading us to reflect on what values we hold dear. These films straddle the line tastefully, without overdoing pivotal moments in the story. They do a fine job of avoiding the pitfalls that could make them sappy.

This film deals with the universal quest for finding real happiness. In today's world, the pursuit of happiness for many is the chase for wealth, yet many rich people also find happiness alluding.

Red Stevens (Garner) is a billionaire who dies suddenly in a crash. Disturbingly, all of his descendants seem to be only concerned with what they might inherit from him, and as the wishes in his will are carried out, the family members barely receive anything.

Along comes his grandson Jason (Fuller), a spoiled trust fund baby who hopes to cash in on some inheritance. But Jason's grandfather had other ideas planned for him.

Jason is brought into the board room where a lone box rests on the table. Inside the box is a DVD with a special message from his grandfather who has set up a series of 12 gifts for him, leading up to the ultimate gift.

The gifts lead to a chain of events that will stretch Jason to his limits. Starting with digging holes for fence posts down on a large ranch in Texas, his journey takes him as far away as Ecuador, teaching him the value of work, real friends, family, true love, laughter, dreams, gratitude, giving, and the importance of using each day to its fullest.

These are things that Red Stevens could not teach his grandson in life. But with his passing, he offers him a chance to inherit the wealthiest of treasures, a sense of what really matters most in life.

Many surprises wait along the way in this tender story, with solid, heartfelt performances. It is touching to see this self-centered boy start to rearrange his priorities, and connect not only with other people, but himself.

This film is a rewarding treat that everyone should see.
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10/10
A modern comic masterpiece.
26 February 2007
This movie ranks up there with Dumb & Dumber as a comedy that after it's release, as time passes by, it cannot stop making people laugh. As the years roll by (a couple already have), we will be talking about this movie. Something just worked in this movie. The writing. The acting. It just all plays out so well. There are so many quotable lines in this film.

I cannot say that I cared for Talladega Nights that much, although Ferrell is good in Stranger Than Fiction. He has far more talent than the naysayers will give him credit for. I think with Stranger Than Fiction, he has made something which proves that point. Just as Jim Carrey went through that stage, proving his acting chops in more dramatic roles, Will has done the same. Also Winter Passing is a good drama with Will.

I am a highbrow movie snob. A published film critic. An elitist that loves to watch foreign and art-house movies. I chew on deep Kafka-esquire films, where intelligence reigns supreme, and questions are implied, not spelled out. Films with meaning, and subtleties under the surface...

... and I LOVE THIS MOVIE. It just clicks. Behold the comic masterpiece 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy'.

(raises Scotch) "To Ron Burgundy."
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Click (2006)
9/10
Frank Capra meets Adam Sandler
13 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Adam Sandler reunites with his friend, director Frank Coraci, in the movie CLICK. They both went to NYU together, and have collaborated on such comedies as 'The Waterboy' and 'Wedding Singer'. Joining Sandler in 'Click' are comic heavyweights Christopher Walken and Henry Winkler, with Kate Beckinsale (Underworld), David Hasselhoff, Sean Astin (50 First Dates, Lord of the Rings), and Rachel Dratch (Saturday Night Live). Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) is an overworked architect, with a lovely wife (Kate Beckinsale), and two young children – Ben and Samantha. Michael's boss, Mr. Ammer (David Hasselhoff), is a womanizing, inconsiderate jerk who works Michael way too hard. With the opportunity for promotion always dangled in front of him, Michael feels he has no choice, but to sacrifice the occasional camping trip with his two kids or game of catch, rather than sacrifice his career by letting his boss down. He simply has no time. When he gets home and kicks back on the couch, he grabs the nearest remote and turns on the ceiling fan, the stereo, or something else besides the TV. So one night, completely frustrated, he goes to Bed Bath & Beyond for a universal remote to operate everything simply. In his pursuit of the remote, he stumbles upon an out-of-the-way door in the store with a sign positioned above it that reads "Way Beyond". He proceeds through the door, and down a long dark corridor, until he sees a crazy looking techie, mad scientist of sorts, named Morty (Christopher Walken). With a crazy glint in his eye, Morty hands Michael a special remote that will allow him to control everything in his life, and that means everything. So what does he do with these new found powers? With the Menu on this remote he has options like "The Making Of" (his conception), "Language Options" (ever seen David Hasselhoff speak Spanish?), "Rewind", "Forward", and "Skip Chapter". He uses the latter options liberally to skip the unpleasant moments that arise in his daily life, such as sickness, exhausting work projects and arguments with his wife. Sounds good on paper, but as the remote memorizes his skipping habits, life speeds by around him, completely out of his control. He realizes that those small moments he is missing is what life is all about, and he does not want to lose any of them, but as the years go by increasingly faster, is it too late? Imagine Adam Sandler doing a film in the classic tradition of 'It's a Wonderful Life', except in this telling you have a sandwich of meaty morals, placed between two thick slices of Sandler-esquire bread. There are some sincerely tender moments where Sandler turns in serious "Oscar" acting, followed by silly moments that cause you to laugh out loud. All in all 'Click' is a good comedy, with great lessons to take away with you after viewing. You should treasure the mundane things in life; cherish them, because you only get to experience them once. There is no rewind button.
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9/10
UNDERRATED - reserve judgment until you watch film.
6 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Must be one of the truest songs of roadside America that the movies have produced." - Charles Taylor, Salon.com This film was quite good, in my opinion. I had heard so many bad things about it before viewing - the pacing, shots, pretentious filmmaker (said he was "better than Orson Welles"!), on and on. I heard from a friend of mine who was at the Cannes Film Festival premiere, in the audience at the showing, who did not like it. She said everyone thought it was laughable, and awful.

THEN I saw it myself at long last. And I LOVED IT. Call me "artsy-crazy", but I just got the film. I understood why Gallo told the story the way he did.

The slow pacing, the shots, the stuff said and not spoken at all. For many people, these are tedious things in the movie's telling, but for myself this steadily built up into a profound ending that put all of the film into perspective. There is a point after all of the wait, to the wandering in the film, and it is a good point. Well worth the patience some people will have to use to watch it through to the end.

So many shots were exceptionally done: his use of sunshine, and framing is interesting, his use of sound, and the soundtrack IS INCREDIBLE. Listen to it if you get the chance, or better yet, I recommend you seek it out and buy it. John Frusciante (RHCP guitarist) did some songs exclusively for it.

So why does not everyone get it? There are not enough quick cuts, and fast scenes showing a rapidly moving plot, with a huge climactic ending!! There is a "climax" definitely at the ending, but it lends itself to the telling of the story. It is an intricate weaving of someone's emotional state, and the melancholy he feels about a tragedy he cannot get a grip on. His lonely isolation is the feeling we view. We ride along with him in the van, and view the long outstretched road ahead to California, where he is going to meet Daisy, the only woman he has ever loved...

I suggest strongly that you reserve your judgment until you see the film for yourself. There are two versions out there on DVD now: the Cannes Film Festival version (119 minutes), and the official DVD cut version (edited to 93 minutes). I have seen the Brown Bunny three times, and see more and more in it each time. I am looking forward to viewing the longer version.

THIS MOVIE IS VERY UNDERRATED. THAT LED ME TO COME HERE AND PUT IN MY TWO CENTS. OR A BIT OF SENSE - INTO ANY TALK OF 'THE BROWN BUNNY'.
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9/10
Truth Unfiltered
10 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING: starring Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Sam Elliott, Rob Lowe, William H. Macy, Katie Holmes, David Koechner, and Robert Duvall. Warning: This film may cause side splitting laugh attacks, and introspective thought provoked by politically incorrect humor. Pregnant women can safely view the following. 'Thank You for Smoking' is based on the Christopher Buckley novel, and is directed by Jason Reitman, the son of famed Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman. This satirical take on "spin" in today's America centers on Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), the tobacco industry's main lobbyist in Washington, DC, and spokesman for the "Academy of Tobacco Studies". He is the quintessential anti-hero, fronting an organization that has legally killed many millions of people. He advocates personal freedom for the many that choose to light up and smoke, nimbly surviving landmine questions in his public dealings, with answers that twist the questions onto the accuser. Nick Naylor's only two real friends are representatives of organizations that also get cast a lot of blame for society's ills – the alcohol industry's Polly Bailey (Maria Bello), head of the Moderation Council, and the firearm industry's Bobby Jay Bliss (David Koechner), who heads the gun advisory group Safety. At their frequent dinner meetings they compare fatality stats from their own respective products like an ESPN announcer: 30 daily firearm related deaths, 270 daily alcohol related deaths, and tobacco, the overwhelming champion with 1,200 daily deaths. Together the three lobbyists are known as the Merchants of Death. Nick Naylor is in the center of the bulls-eye as Vermont Senator Ortolan K. Finistirre (William H. Macy) pursues a bill that would make it mandatory for a skull and crossbones to be put on the sides of all packs of cigarettes. Jeff Magell (Rob Lowe) is the Hollywood super agent that Nick goes to about the product placement of cigarettes in films, because (as he points out), the majority of people who smoke in films today are Russians, Arabs, or villains. Nick has joint custody of his son Joey with his wife Jill, and as the film progresses, he makes an effort to reach out to him, answering frank questions about how he can do such a morally questionable job that causes him to be despised, hated, and the object of death threats and scorn. In his dealings across the country, he has to placate the ex-Marlboro Man (Sam Elliott), who now has cancer, fend off zealous reporter Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes), and report to the "captain" of the tobacco industry Doak Boykin (Robert Duvall). The thing about this film which is utterly fascinating is that not one cigarette is smoked, and there is not a clear bias as to which side you should belong to, or which beliefs you should subscribe to. Whatever your feelings are, you will be forced to examine them after watching this movie. 'Thank You for Smoking' takes an objective look at a taboo subject, and gives you the unfiltered truth - a behind the scenes peek at how "spin" impacts and shapes our culture. The moral of this story is to examine the "talk" that we are in the midst of on a daily basis, whether we know it or not, and to take responsibility for your choices, and not to be duped by spin tactics. Every side pushes their own agenda, with many of us caught unwittingly in the middle. Because of its raw visage, this is not a completely easy film to watch, but it is a satire after all, so do not take everything "as is". The M.P.A.A. has deemed it necessary to label this film rated R.
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Scoop (2006)
9/10
Truly memorable
19 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
After his critically acclaimed film 'Match Point,' Woody Allen is back with a light-hearted comedy that is unassuming and very accessible. SCOOP is Allen's second film set in London starring the lovely Scarlett Johansson. Joining her this time is Hugh Jackmen, and Allen himself. In London visiting some family friends, nerdish American journalism student Sondra Pransky (Johansson) is given a possible lead on a hot story by recently deceased reporter Joe Strombel, who manages to slip away from the afterlife long enough to let her in on the possible secret. Prostitutes are being murdered all around London, and the killer is still on the loose, with the police turning up with dead ends - pun intended. Who is this mysterious killer who stalks women in the night? The tip Sondra receives points to the aristocratic and highly respectable Peter Lyman (Jackman). Joining her in the pursuit of clues is the aging, travelling stage magician Sidney Waterman (Allen), whose stage name is The Great Splendini. His cheap tricks and funny one-liners, matched with Sondra's awkward behavior around their charming suspect, milk the laughter to it's utmost. Scarlett Johansson tones down her sex appeal for this film, and plays her role as an awkward, bookish student convincingly. She has obviously beguiled Woody Allen, being in his last two films, including this one. Woody does not cast himself as the romantic lead, which is appropriate since Scarlett is old enough to be his daughter or granddaughter. Allen never misses a beat in his comic delivery, showing that his chops are as sharp as ever. Hugh Jackman is the "straight man" in the picture, to Allen and Scarlett's comedic duo, and his portrayal of Peter Lyman is affable - causing it to be even more laughable. A Woody Allen film is not compared to other films, but to the greatest of Woody Allen films as they each are released. That could be a great burden to bear for any other filmmaker, but Woody's worst critic is himself. Each time out, he envisions a 'Citizen Kane' kind of masterpiece, and for the most part is hard on his final product. He has to live up to the high expectations not only of himself, but of the audience with every film. A lot of artists understand that they all can be their own worst critics and praisers in turn. This film has been dubbed "Woody-Lite", and so that is why I make a point about the wide appeal that it holds for the masses out there, whether you are a real Woody Allen fan, or not. Truly memorable. Woody Allen is a frenetic workaholic, releasing close to one film a year in his nearly 40 years of directing films! His writing ability, and limitless reach, has brought us some truly remarkable dramatic films, and a whole lot of classic comedies. 'Scoop' brings to mind some of his funnest films, and is completely entertaining. 96 minutes of laugh out loud hysterics worth taking a look at. Scoop is rated PG-13
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8/10
A diamond in the rough
28 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In the offbeat film WINTER PASSING, writer/director Adam Rapp brings an edgy and beautiful piece to the screen. The film stars Zooey Deschanel (Elf), Will Ferrell (Stranger Than Fiction), Ed Harris (A History of Violence), and Amelia Warner (Quills), who each in turn deliver a strong performance. Reese Holden (Deschanel) is the emotionally detached daughter of the brilliant and famous reclusive novelist Don Holden (Harris), whom she has not had contact with in a long time. One cold winter evening she is offered a large sum of money by a book editor, who is seeking to publish the love letters written by her father to her mother many years ago. Reese has inherited the letters after her mother's recent death from suicide, the only catch being they are at her father's home. Reese hesitantly decides to make the bus trip from NYC, where she is an aspiring actress working at a bar, to the long forgotten home where she grew up, nestled in a quiet wooded area far away. Upon arrival, Reese is greeted at the door by a tall gruff musician named Corbit (Ferrell), a former rhythm guitarist in the Christian rock band Punchin' Pilate. Also inhabiting the house is a former grad student of her father's, Shelly (Warner), a girl from England who has had some health problems and is staying there for a while. Don is the patriarch of this strange family of sorts, and he resides in the garage. He drinks a lot, and has trouble squeezing even a paragraph of writing out of his beleaguered mind. Don's long white hair is usually in a slight tangle around his head. Reese shamelessly speaks her mind. She is skeptical, and closed, all the memories and feelings rushing back to her, from her childhood, which was devoid of affection from her workaholic parents. In the house everyone relies on each other; Shelly cooks and does the laundry, Corbit is the handyman, and Don is the caregiver to them both. In his own quiet way he is reaching out to his daughter Reese to establish a closeness they have never shared. What we get to view is a poignant defining chapter of this young woman's life, in this satisfying, richly textured film of substance. Zooey Deschanel last paired up with Will Ferrell in the holiday film 'Elf,' and they share a real chemistry in both films. Will Ferrell has a definite range, not only shown by his role in this film, but also in the superbly done 'Stranger Than Fict)on,' alongside Emma Thompson. In 'Winter Passing,' Zooey Deschanel turns in a maturely layered performance. If you do not know who she is yet, you certainly will in the years to come, as she will be starring in 'The Assassination of Jesse James' with Brad Pitt, and playing Janis Joplin herself in the upcoming biopic, 'Gospel According to Janis.' This film is a diamond in the rough, and is worth taking the time to watch.
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The Matador (2005)
10/10
Pierce shows his range
14 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A globetrotting hit-man, and a floundering salesman from Denver, walk into a bar in Mexico City, and befriend each other over some martinis. The scene is set for the most likable dark comedy I have seen this year. Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan team up in THE MATADOR, a slick film from first time writer/director Richard Shepard. Danny Wright (Kinnear) is a square businessman, happily married to his high school sweetheart Carolyn (Hope Davis), and they reside in Denver. Danny travels to Mexico City, Mexico for a job interview, with a lot riding on the acquisition of this job after a string of recent bad luck. Meanwhile, Julian Noble (Brosnan), is an aging hit-man, crusty around the edges, who has a couple hits to 'facilitate' in Mexico City. He has no address, no home, and no true friends. Julian and Danny have a chance meeting at a hotel bar, and over the next couple days, while Danny awaits the results from his interview, they forge a truly unlikely friendship. While they take in a bullfight, Danny learns Julian's "trade," but feels some empathy for the lonely Julian, who is in the midst of a breakdown. Julian feels he can learn something from Danny about life, he sure does, with laughs (for us) in abundance. Four years after his last James Bond film, Pierce Brosnan shows his range in this film, departing from the suave British spy persona. Instead he adopts the personality of Julian, an over-the-hill hit-man, who is tough, but vulnerable, unsavory, yet charming. Pierce fleshes out his character quite remarkably, and is the standout here, earning a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor as Julian Noble. Greg Kinnear continues his winning streak, with another memorable comic role as Danny Wright. His impeccable timing in the film 'Auto Focus' still makes my brother and I pause for a laugh at the recollection of a scene! Recently, he starred in the awesome breakout indie hit 'Little Miss Sunshine'. The chemistry between Brosnan and Kinnear is evident, making this a satisfying, well done comedy/action film with heart. A thoughtful look at life, love, luck, and friendship, with plenty of side-splitting, tongue-in-cheek humor. Cinematographer David Tattersall, who worked with Pierce Brosnan in 'Die Another Day,' and also on the new Star Wars Trilogy, does a magnificent job, adding a depth, and scope to 'The Matador'. Pierce Brosnan certainly shows his relevant place in Hollywood in the post-Bond season of his career, overcoming any stereotypes you may have of him after playing in the last four Bond films, beginning in 1995! This film has a feeling of fresh originality, and that can be attributed to the sharp writing, and fantastic performance by Brosnan.
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9/10
Affecting Romantic Drama
13 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock are back with their dynamic chemistry in THE LAKE HOUSE. The film revolves around a rather unusual glass house built on stilts set in a lake outside of Chicago, Illinois. Kate Forster (Bullock) moves out of the house in the spring of 2006, into an apartment in Chicago, where she is starting her career as a doctor. Before she leaves, she drops an envelope with a forwarding address to whoever will occupy the house next. The mailbox is located right out in front of the path to the bridge, which leads to the house's door. She checks back sometime later to see if she has any mail, and finds a letter from a man, Alex Wyler (Reeves), who claims he is living in the house at that very moment! The date he writes on his letter to her says 2004, and Kate leaves a snide reply note mentioning (among other things) the wrong date. Through their odd correspondence, sent and received from this same mailbox nearby the lake house, it comes out that Alex is living in the year 2004, exactly 2 years to the day back from when Kate is living! They both have their own reasons for being lonely and through this mailbox, in ways unexplained, they are able to reach out and feel that special connection with another person, that is so needed and lacking in their own lives. Alex is an architect, who has a true passion for the warmth of a home's design, rather than just its functionality or original design. Alex's father, Simon Wyler (Christopher Plummer), is proud and defiant as his health wanes, and as his son tries to get closer to him in these final days of his own life. Christopher Plummer gives a very noteworthy performance as the brash, arrogant "Architect of the Year" award recipient, who belittles Alex's views on architectural development, while hiding from him the fact that he envies his ability to create a home, rather than just a house, in his building senses. Kate enjoys helping people, in her role as doctor, and after her last failed relationship has kept quite a distance from men. Alex and Kate forge a strong bond, but have to find a way to bridge this gap between them, before it is too late and their love is lost forever! Keanu acts very well in this film, and complimented by Sandra, they give solid depth and breadth to their characters, enabling you to accept the implausible storyline, with refreshingly sincere acting from both of them. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock first starred together in a movie about a speeding bus wired with a bomb that would not allow it to drop below 50 mph. Of course that was 'Speed,' and it's hard to believe that was released over a decade ago, back in 1994. The blockbuster film was not only a critical success, but impressed audiences with its thrilling plot and tangible chemistry shared by the two stars. The film's sequel 'Speed 2: Cruise Control' bombed, due for the most part to the lack of Keanu Reeves being in the film. Reeves and Bullock have an incredible, almost magic presence that they create together on screen. David Auburn pens a terrific screenplay that is both far fetched, but beautifully believable in how the lovers from different times are cleverly intertwined. Auburn also wrote the terrific play 'Proof', which he adapted for the film version that starred Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. While Keanu Reeves has starred with many fine female leads, including Cameron Diaz, Carrie-Anne Moss, Charlize Theron and Winona Ryder, none of those pairings can compare to the explosively memorable pairing he had with Sandra Bullock in 'Speed' and that we are fortunate enough to witness again in 'The Lake House.' I truly feel they are one of modern cinemas most enigmatic on screen male-female couples. This is the most unique and affecting romantic drama to come out in a very long time, in a class all its own. The Lake House is rated PG.
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Inside Man (2006)
10/10
tour de force
31 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Not one to shy away from controversy, director Spike Lee takes a shot at making a heist film, doing an exceptional job with INSIDE MAN. This is the fourth film that Denzel Washington and Spike Lee have made together, alongside 'He Got Game' (1998), 'Malcolm X' (1992), and 'Mo' Better Blues' (1990). Under Lee's direction, Washington embodied the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, Malcolm X, earning him an Oscar nomination that year for Best Actor. So after 8 years Lee and Washington rejoin to make a very irregular heist film, alongside Hollywood heavy hitters Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Willem Dafoe, and veteran actor Christopher Plummer. The film revolves around the attempted heist of a branch of the Manhattan Trust Bank, and the ensuing hostage crisis that follows. Detective Keith Frazier (Washington) is put on the case, and wants to rectify his stained reputation after being accused of stealing $140,000 that mysteriously disappeared in a prior, unrelated case. The bank's CEO, Arthur Case (Plummer), sends a mysterious woman, Madeline White (Foster), to look after his "interests" that lie in a safety deposit box, deep inside the bank. Madeline's Ivy League condescension rubs Detective Frazier the wrong way, putting them at odds, as they each try to work their own agenda in resolving the bank situation. The masked leader of the group of robbers, Dalton Russell (Owen), is exceedingly calm in matching wits with Detective Frazier as they both try to stay one step ahead of each other. Leading right up to the climax, you are left wandering how this ambiguous thriller will end, and exactly where the twists and turns will lead you. In nearly three decades of directing, Spike Lee has made many memorable films, a fair amount of them controversial. But leave your prejudgments at the door when you go see this film, because it is a different type of "Spike Lee Joint." He had the clout of the studio backing him on this one, and it definitely shows in the scope of the film. I have anticipated watching this film ever since I was aware of it's existence some time ago, and so the question is, after seeing it, did it live up to it's promise? In one word – yes! I am thoroughly impressed with this tour de force from Spike Lee. In a genre filled with copycats and atypical holdup flicks, this one pays homage to some of the classic heist films, such as 'Dog Day Afternoon,' resulting in a cool, captivating, and engaging thrill ride. If you would like to catch some other great movies featuring the stars of 'Inside Man,' I recommend the following: Denzel Washington in 'The Manchurian Candidate' (2004), Clive Owen in 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead' (2003), Jodie Foster (only speaking French!) in 'A Very Long Engagement' (2004), Christopher Plummer in 'The Insider' (1999), and Willem Dafoe in 'Auto Focus' (2002).
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9/10
True Idealistic Heroism
17 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In January of 1945 a group of 120 men staged the most triumphant and successful rescue mission in U.S. Military history. This is their story. In the epic tradition of Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line, THE GREAT RAID tells a grand story, inspired by true events, filled with both drama and plenty of action. After Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US was drawn into World War II. The next year, after the Battle of Bataan, our forces were in the Philippines fighting the Japanese. Our men were overwhelmed there, and 70,000 were taken prisoner. It was the largest American army in history to surrender (besides the Civil War). The Japanese led their prisoners on a forced march out of Bataan. Before the "Bataan Death March" was over, those who survived would march more than 60 miles through intense heat with almost no water or food. 15,000 men died in the march alone. The Japanese captors were brutal, abusing their prisoners in an effort to annihilate these men, who they disrespected for surrendering. Some are burned alive in group executions, and others die from the diseases which are running rampant in the camps. Five hundred survivors of the march are transferred to Camp Cabanatuan, and the POWs wait over the next three years, holding onto the faith that their country would not abandon them and allow them all to die in a foreign prison camp. Some try to escape – and are caught and executed. Others wait with the unwavering hope that it will end, and they will see their loved ones again. This movie takes place over five days in January of 1945, and tells the story of the daring rescue of those POWs from impending death in the Japanese prison camp, by a group of men with little or no combat experience. We get to see three different points of view as the story progresses - the prisoners rallying all their strength and fortitude to survive, the Filipino underground movement smuggling medicine and food into the camp, and finally the US Army Rangers who attempt the daring rescue. The Great Raid showcases true idealistic heroism, making it a truly moving and satisfying war story. With great historical accuracy, director John Dahl brings this great and often forgotten piece of military history to the screen. With all the war movie staples, but adding one thing: a strong female lead in the action, the nurse in the Philippines risking her life by smuggling supplies in to save the lives of these American GIs. To bring authenticity to this project, the filmmakers enlisted the aid of 22 year Marine Corp veteran, Capt. Dale Dye, as military adviser. He took all the actors out into the isolated jungle and conducted intensive training, starting out with an early morning jog each day for 5-8 miles. With no showers, not that much sleep, and tactical exercise drills, these men went from merely being actors, to being fully competent to portray the real emotions that these characters felt in the movie. As an added bonus on the DVD, real WWII veterans recount the difficult times they personally experienced in the camp during their prolonged stay. Starring Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order), James Franco (Tristan + Isolde), Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) and Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love). Benjamin Bratt was quite amazing, his acting skills shine, but as for a couple of the unknowns, they were not as good, so that is the only reason why I made it an 8/10. This movie is rated R.
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Four Brothers (2005)
10/10
Wham-bam male drama at its best!
10 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
John Singleton, the director of such acclaimed films as Rosewood and Boyz n the Hood, brings us FOUR BROTHERS. Four men, from different races and backgrounds, are raised under one roof by a very strong and determined foster mother who cares for them and gives them a real home. On a cold, dark wintry night in Detroit she stops by a small convenience store to pick up a few things, and is murdered when it is held up by two armed men, wearing masks. The four men, having developed a bond as tight as true brothers growing up, come back home to lay their mother to rest. In the house, the memories come back. After the police seem to be getting nowhere with the case, the brothers take it into their own hands to avenge the death of the woman they knew as mother. The four brothers are played by Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, André Benjamin (from musical group Outkast), and Garrett Hedlund. Terrence Howard plays the detective intent on bringing justice to the victim in this case, but also not wanting any interference from the men. But the more the four brothers dig, the fishier their mother's murder gets, and there is no turning back. Filled with explosive action scenes, from icy car chases to raw emotion and street justice, this film is powerful in-your-face, wham-bam male drama at its best! Thrilling and funny - an action film with heart and a great story. I really loved this movie. I sat down to watch it with a cup of coffee, and I barely could take two sips. I was drawn in that much. Everyone can rally around these brothers that are 'gonna work it out.' To cap off the appeal of this movie is the awesome Motown soundtrack featuring Marvin Gaye and the Temptations, among others. Four Brothers is a winner all around. This movie is rated R.
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9/10
Laugh out loud funny!
27 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In 1989 the animated duo, Wallace & Gromit debuted to instant success. The short films "The Wrong Trousers" and "A Close Shave" earned creator Nick Park an Academy Award in 1993 and 1995! This year, their first feature film hit the big screen, WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT. When the town's vegetables are being mysteriously devoured in the night, inventor Wallace, and his canine partner Gromit, come to the rescue. Their 'Anti-Pesto SWAT Team' is on the case and on the trail of this enormous beastly rabbit that is terrifying the town's inhabitants! The love interest in the movie, Lady Campanula Tottington, is voiced by Helena Bonham Carter, and Wallace's arch nemesis, Victor Quartermaine, is voiced by none other than actor Ralph Fiennes. Carter was the voice of Johnny Depp's bride in Tim Burton's animated film Corpse Bride that came out last year. The gadgets and gizmos that Wallace and Gromit use are imaginative and ingenious. From their daily life, to the mechanisms they use in attempting to catch the fluffy monster, you are in for a wild ride with these two endearing characters! The rest of the film is packed with memorable characters as well, with zany voices and facial expressions that combine to be laugh out loud funny! The creators of this Wallace & Gromit feature, also created the successful hit Chicken Run, which was released back in 2000. This new film is just as memorable, with an equally entertaining story that adults and kids can enjoy. The claymation is astoundingly good, and in these days of computer animated features, its refreshing to see something real and fleshed out in clay moving before your eyes. The manpower that went into creating this 85-minute film was great, with progress slow and work tedious. Many comparable films are created on a computer grid, with keystrokes and mapping, but this was created the old fashioned way - with sets and pieces being manipulated manually through countless hours of physical labor! The final product is visually impressive, and will keep you smiling and laughing the whole way through. This vegetarian horror film is alongside Disney's CARS as one of my favorite animated films of 2006. Laughter is the best medicine, so be sure to put this on your list of antidotes.
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9/10
Visceral feast for the senses.
27 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In 1999 the Wachowski Brothers brought us the first groundbreaking Matrix film, filled with cutting edge special effect techniques and an action film with no boundaries. On the heels of the Matrix Trilogy, the always mysterious creative duo bring us another veritable action extravaganza, V FOR VENDETTA. Behind the mask of the caped lead is actor Hugo Weaving, who played Agent Smith in The Matrix films. Based on Alan Moore's graphic novel published by Vertigo/DC Comics, the film is set in London, in the not too distant future. The formerly great United States is now apparently a leper colony, and Britain is ruled by an oppressive, authoritarian government where freedom is looked at as a liability in the effort to control the people. The stunned, complacent masses are kept in the dark from the truth of daily events by the government controlled media which manipulates them through propaganda and censorship. Along comes the caped freedom fighter 'V' (Weaving) who stirs things up for the ruling Chancellor and his forces with a show of explosives accompanied by a little Tchaikovsky music piped in simultaneously as the soundtrack. He conducts this "performance" from a nearby rooftop with Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman), a young woman he rescued from a group of men in the streets earlier that night after she was out past the enforced curfew time. He politely forces her to view the massive spectacle alongside himself, the perpetrator. 'V' later takes Evey hostage to protect himself from being betrayed and caught. The ultimate objective of this charismatic madman is to blow up the Parliament building, giving the power back to the people and getting vengeance for events which led to his being burned and horribly scarred during some government endorsed experiments that went wrong. 'V' is uncompromising in his quest for revenge, and the government uses that to promote an atmosphere of fear, gaining an effective tool of control. The government is for the people, and if it is not, then upheaval must occur. The idea of freedom is eternal, and must be a guiding light for governments and the people ruled by those governments. Intentionally or not, the film does have some overtones of present social and political happenings, certainly here in the United States. But it is fiction, and fascinating at that. This film is quite ambitious, with some visuals that brought me back to Terry Gilliam's 1985 film Brazil. The Matrix creators have done it again with a stunning visceral feast for the senses. V for Vendetta is a moving, triumphantly electric, powerful political action thriller. Hugo Weaving does a good job behind the cover of his mask, a daunting task surely, and Natalie Portman flexes her acting muscles in the distressed, yet strong, role of the heroine Also starring in the movie are Stephen Rea, playing the detective tracking 'V' down and John Hurt playing the tyrannical Chancellor Adam Sutler. Is 'V' a terrorist or a freedom fighter? You decide.
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Asylum (2005)
7/10
Complex and Tragic
5 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The romantic thriller ASYLUM stars Ian McKellen, Natasha Richardson, and Marton Csokas. McKellen, of course, played Gandalf in all three Lord of the Rings films, but also was a scene-stealer in the Da Vinci Code alongside Tom Hanks. Csokas played in this year's film version of MTV's Aeon Flux and also was seen in last year's medieval epic Kingdom of Heaven. Our story begins when Max Raphael takes a position at a mental hospital and his wife Stella (Richardson) and son Charlie have to get accustomed to life in this asylum. Max competes with another psychiatrist, Peter Cleave (McKellen), in trying to get the director spot at the hospital, while Charlie befriends an inmate, Edgar Stark (Csokas), a former sculptor who killed his wife years before. Max and Stella's marriage is stale, and Stella sees in Edgar's eyes something she desperately needs. So as she begins to meet with Edgar Stark secretly, a dangerous obsession is ignited. Ian McKellen is an outstanding actor, and again does a superb job in the role of Dr. Peter Cleaves. Cleaves senses that something is developing between his patient, Edgar Starks and Max's wife Stella, and is morbidly fascinated by the turn of events. Edgar's passion and Stella's obsession are the catalyst of this story, about a complex and tragic love affair, in which everyone involved, must lose. I found this psychological film intriguing and dark, definitely worth watching.
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