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The Infidel (2010)
Halal/Kosher cook off
I've just returned from what the organizers dubbed as "The World Premier" of 'The Infidel' at the Hammersmith Apollo, and the mere fact that the first thing on my mind is to review it should say something about this strategically mastered movie written by David Baddiel, who to my surprise can deliver an equally hilarious stand up performance.
The movie takes place in East London and it revolves around the life the Mahmud Nasir a semi-liberal Muslim family man minicab driver whose world gets disrupted by his mother's death and goes into an emotional period compounded by his son's recent engagement to a Pakistani "hate cleric's" step daughter. Mahmud uncovers his birth certificate while cleaning out his mother's stuff and eventually discovers that he is adopted and his original parents are Jewish.
As Mahmud's world swivels in a state of disarray he turns to the only Jewish person he knows, semi-alcoholic recently divorced clinically depressed Lenny (Richard Schiff from The West Wing), who takes it upon himself to teach now 'Solly Shimshillewitz' Jewishness! The two embark on a journey of "oy vey" rehearsals and 'Fiddler on the Roof' reaction sessions as Lenny shows Mahmud the difference between the various types of London Jews. Mahmud's life takes a turn for the worse when he accidentally uncovers wearing a yarmulke at a pro-Palestine rally to which he reacts and subsequently becomes blessed by the "hate cleric".
During this period Mahmud questions his identity and goes into a cathartic phase where logic prevails and he reaches a firm conclusion of who he is and what it means to be Mahmud Nasir.
This tactically mastered comedy touches on subjects regarded as taboo in the film industry and attempts to portray logical religious soundness at a time when religious righteousness is synonymous with hate. A well delivered comedy filled with laugh out loud moments entertains, educates and surprises with a performance by Omid Djalili that can only be described as "joyfully expected".
Porn experiment gone bad?
I never got to see this movie fully thank God, but i did catch big chunks of it on TV, and I have to say this is awful, absolutely gutting! The setting, music, acting and script all seem to be indicative of soft porn but somehow it isn't, and worst of all they always make porn references. The closest to porn is probably the hotel room incident with the blonde girl, but even that is weird.
The girls are gorgeous make no mistake, and I still think that they had failed porn careers (alongside the producer) then changed their names and wanted to go legit (since my searches didn't show much)! However, this movie is HIGHLY unrecommended even to the poker die hards! Bottom line, you are better off without this junk, go play poker or watch a soft porn flick instead!
The Mist (2007)
Diabolically smart writing and directing underly this surefire horror classic
After seeing the trailer for this movie several times in the movies, I quickly decided I will not watch what seemed as horror junk to me at the time, mainly because apart from a few awesome exceptions, I am not a true horror fan. I mean hey, why would anyone pay 10 bucks to sit on the edge of their seat for 90 minutes? Things quickly changed when a group of my mates bullied me into watching this, and I have to say it was the best bullying I've endured to this date! 'The Mist' is the motion picture adaptation of the diabolically smart horror novel written by the great Stephen King, and influenced by the artistry of the great Zdislaw Beksinki.
The movie kicks off in a rather mediocre expected manner, but when a freak storm unleashes the fiends of hell, a small town supermarket becomes the only refuge to a group of people who quickly form a survival colony.
As the movie progresses, issues of morality and human behavior dominate, as Frank Darabont delivers some of the best movie directing seen all year. Monsters, creatures of the dark and mutated life forms take over the movie's setting, while the survival colony gets split into two sects. Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) delivers an enthralling performance as the religious fundamentalist who proclaims prophet-hood and grasps this small town group's imagination, turning them into primeval humanoids thirsty for survival on one hand, and on the other, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) leads a small but rather logistically superior group who eventually take matters into their own hands and decide to gamble matters and explore the unknown.
The Mist's ability to make its audience ask themselves ethical questions as the movie progresses renders it a horror classic. One of the lines that struck me in the movie was when David said that people think they are safe so long as they have 911 and phones, but put them in a disaster setting for ten minutes and their survival instincts kick in. Such was the deep issues of morality and philosophy that this motion picture went into. The ingenious ending epitomizes this great movie and makes sure Frank Darapont has delivered one of the motion pictures of the year.
The Mist is a movie that delivers on so many levels, while managing to capture the wild imagination of it's viewers. Highly recommended!
Marley & Me (2008)
Generic idea surprises and delivers!
After seeing the trailer to this movie months ahead of its release every time I went to catch a movie, I inadvertently established what the movie is about, and decided id pass this one. I mean let's face it, we all know what dog (pet in general) movies are all about, especially when the plot revolves around a couple, and who wanted to see Owen Wilson play Jennifer Aniston's husband anyways, there was no way he was going to top Vince's performance! But as most other guys, my girl nagged her head off and I went along.
The movie started on a sort of a generic note, but as the movie progressed it got quite clear why it started off in such a way. The setting was very typical, but one that I normally enjoy ... big city life, young couple with similar careers, and all that jazz. John Grogan's career is moving up the line, and with this Jennifer Grogan's plan was coming into shape. John fearing that Jennifer was going to pop the idea of children up, decides to bring a pet into the household in an attempt to distract her, taking up on his friend and work mate Sebastian's (Eric Dane) idea. This was the part of the movie which was pretty much expected and up until that point the plot I made in my head wasn't too far off. But when John realizes he is ready to commit to building a family, the plot thickens. Not to throw away too much, this is the part of the movie where Marley connects with the family on so many levels and Jennifer Aniston was delivering one of her best performances. David Frankel really manages to get us involved in the Grogans' life and how they evolved through the years.
At this point, as good as the movie was, it seemed that there wasn't a real twist. But it built up smoothly towards a really touchy ending that I can safely say, its been a while I haven't witnessed. It really reminds the viewer of the quality things in life, and it left a tear or two in my eyes. When the movie ended, it was just weird looking at everyone's faces, it was as if they had all involved somehow in that life changing experience.
A great movie with strong performances, especially by Aniston that deserves to be watched by people of all age groups! Strongly recommended.