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Xombie Corps (2010)
16 February 2010
This is the greatest short zombie movie I have ever seen. The production was incredible considering it had no budget.

The direction of Michael Hall is quite impressive for a first time directing. Paul DiSilvestro's performance was that of a "John Connor" like hero.

The photography and editing of James Iliff was clearly that of a worker who will go onto bigger and better things.

Of course, the winning element of this masterful project had to have been the producing aspect. Christopher Pollock succeeds as a producer who ranks along the likes of David O. Selznick. I think he will go on to be a major success in the not-too-distant future.

Everyone should see Xombie Corps. It is an incredible short.
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Avatar (2009)
Take the journey with Jakesully
18 December 2009
Open your eyes, and see into the world of Pandora. What you will find is the most magical place you could ever hope to see. Perhaps at one time Earth was not so different.

I will admit this movie could feel a little on the slow side. But it will not feel that way if you really get what Jake is going through. You have to take in everything that you see.

To criticize this movie for being too powerful in the visuals is like criticizing a pizza for having good cheese on it. So what if the movie was done on a computer. That does not change the fact that they put years of work into it, which is more than we can say for New Moon, a movie that was done in such a lazy fashion that Kristin Stewart's hair was not even real.

Do not dismiss this movie. It is one of the greatest films ever made.
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Uncertainty (2008)
A unique and intelligent concept
13 December 2009
This movie is easily described as cool. You are going to feel somewhat robbed at the end when the idea you are being introduced to is not exactly tied together in the end, but try not to think about that. This movie is clearly experimental. Forget the style and focus on what the movie is saying.

What was the point of the two stories? (those who have not watched the movie yet will understand once you have seen it) One story was a family drama and another was a high energy thriller. Both about them unable to make decisions on life effecting choices. Through both situations we are able to learn about these two people and the difficulties they have trying to behave as one. What results from this is two very believable performances.

These two performers were so good together. Very different Joseph than what we saw in (500) Days of Summer. They behaved like a real couple. You would think they are dating off screen.

The raw style in cinematography surprisingly works well with the melodic musical score. New York City is becoming less of a movie setting, so it is always pleasing to see it still.

Good experimental film. I recommend it.
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Up in the Air (I) (2009)
George Clooney shows something he has never shown before. vulnerability.
4 December 2009
Halfway through this movie I considered it an 8 out of 10 and decently spent money. The second half came as a big surprise. George Clooney let go of all his suave and let his eyes show fear and isolation that real people feel.

There were two things going on in this movie. On one end, we were looking at the people getting fired. On the other end, we were seeing the problems with Ryan's way of life. The interviews at the end with the people who lost their jobs explaining that it was family and support that brought them through bad times hit a perfect note for bringing both parts of the story together.

The title of this film literally explains what it is like to not know what aspects of your life are solid, such as a home or a significant other. Everything going on is simply up in the air. One day, what you thought was one way will turn out to be something else entirely.

Best of Reitman's three. Very much recommend it.
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this movie knew how to win over any other recent romance film
22 July 2009
Why was this movie so terrific? Aside from the fact that it was incredibly sincere in its realism while at the same time being very stylistic, it was great for its relevance to romantic experiences.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is such a talent to be cherished? Why is this guy so much more on my respect level than all these other young actors working in Hollywood. Not only does Gordon- Levitt pick movies that have more emphasis in being a good story than being heavily promoted, he is willing to play characters that don't necessarily make himself look like a superstar. He is brave enough to play a part in which he would have to be very insecure in front of massive audiences. For that I commend him.

(500) Days is so successful in humor, replicating real emotions and situations and making people (me at least) recall memories of our own. It has countless parts I cannot stop thinking about and laughing over. It is really wonderful. An unexpected film in a summer filled with high budget action films that can't quite get universal praise.

For this being the first season the Academy nominates 10 films for the big Oscar, and considering they have nominated past films like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno, they BETTER nominate this one.
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Funny People (2009)
Funny People is exactly what the title is
29 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Judd Apatow's movie consists of many of the problems that go on between human relationships. There is a lot of lying followed by bitterness, cheating followed by jealousy, backstabbing followed by ridiculing, the list goes on. Within these conflicts comes the success in Funny People. Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann and most of the characters find themselves in uncomplicated situations that require complicated decisions to make.

Adam Sandler's character George Simmons has destroyed all of his relationships. He cheated on his lover and he abandoned his family. All he has left are fellow famous celebrities that he hangs with occasionally. With a terminal disease expected to take its course on him, it has become time to make sense of his life.

Ira Wright, formerly Ira Weiner, played by Seth Rogen, has a tough time connecting with people due to how reserved he is. He can't lock in a girl any better than he can lock in a crowd. They may want to like him, they'll even give him a few swings at the bat, but he usually ends up short. This issue keeps him from matching up to his two roommates, who though not completely successful, do have their run of good fortune.

After the two lead characters hook up when George hires Ira as an assistant, the rest of the story shows how one affects the other's relationships by their mere presence. George affects the turn of Ira's relationships with his roommates and possible girlfriend when he is invited to a Thanksgiving dinner. Ira influences the outcome of George's plans to rekindle with his beloved Laura. This all leads to a transforming of both men.

Funny People works as a comedy and as a lesson teacher. All of the characters fill their lives with mistakes. These mistakes give them the personalities that make them so comic and fun to watch. To top it off, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann and Eric Bana are all charming in this movie. Adam Sandler is terrific as he always is in the heavy comedies he gets in. He should stick to these films.

Judd Apatow wins again. Go see this movie.
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Heat meets Bonnie and Clyde meets The Assassination of Jesse James
25 June 2009
What a fine collection of talent in Public Enemies. I had so much doubt in anticipation of this movie. I was told that the camera quality was low, Bale's acting was bad and that the plot was confusing and did not explain anything. After Miami Vice, I was willing to believe this might be another let down. Right in the first act, I knew that this movie was the one I have been waiting for.

The last wave of decent crime films was in the first half of the 90's with Heat, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas and Casino. Since then, I have been waiting for more cinematically well- crafted crime dramas. The ones that were expected to be comparable to the older films I think did not reach that level, such as American Gangster. I would say Eastern Promises, Gangs of New York, Road to Perdition, Collateral and The Departed came close, but they are more just good movies of their own.

Public Enemies is the first film in my opinion to have captured the essence of crime drama in a long time. It jumps right into the era, without the explanation that some people wished to have had. We enter right into the world, learning quickly the interactions between Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Frank Nitty, and much more of the criminal society of the Depression. I've always loved seeing these characters portrayed in the other movies they are featured in, but this film really had them right.

Michael Mann really exercised himself as an auteur on this outing. Many can criticize his style and decision to shoot HD. Still, artists can paint the crucifixion of Christ in many different ways, so Mann should have the right to explore the story in his own fashion as well. I personally thought the imagery was fantastic, most especially the opening act.

Depp, Bale and Cotillard were all great. So was the rest of the cast. Great balance between tragedy and humor. Go see this movie in theaters or you will regret it. It's quite simply the coolest movie of 2009.
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The Informers (2008)
A basic lowdown on The Informers
27 April 2009
I thought I would see this movie with a lot of thoughts running through my head when it ended. That did not really happen. There's not really anything to be said about the story when it finished. The reason is that it was not a story. It was just things happening. There wasn't a beginning, middle or end, which is required for dramatic attachment to a movie. Scenes simply played out for a couple hours.

The Informers is not as terrible as most people on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes make it out to be. At the same time, it isn't a good movie. If you want to see it the way I wanted to, go ahead and see it. I don't need to talk you out of it. Just remember, this is Bret Easton Ellis. The characters are shallow and their arcs are difficult to pinpoint. Nonetheless, some of you may be able to relate to the things going on.

On a final note, there is some really decent cinematography and good acting by a good number of the cast. The entire movie is very intimate, so don't take a prude friend with you when you see it.
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The Wackness (2008)
Heartfelt Film That Takes You Back In Time
11 January 2009
I have never felt a movie hit so close to home like The Wackness. This was a true tale of a teenager who fears that where he is in his life is the high point of all experiences. Through his summer, he is bombarded with hardships that could easily tear any 17 year old down. Instead, Shapiro takes his new experiences and lets them build him up as a man. I enjoyed watching this transformation.

This movie also made me miss the 90s. Things like the Forrest Gump advertisement, the old school music, the Nintendo and the tape cassettes really brought authenticity into the movie and gave it the feel it was going for. The movie was smart in the fact that the music was always apart of the environment, and not just a random track playing.

All performances were honest and terrific. With many poor films filling 2008, I hope one day The Wackness is rediscovered. It sure deserved to gross more than say, Twilight.
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The Spirit (2008)
Was not really working
25 December 2008
Frank Miller has a lot of potential in the film industry. He can be one of the better artists in the business. I see The Spirit as him getting to know the craft. This movie had some decent visuals and wanted to be gritty with the scruffy dialogue, but it just was not running with it the way it should have been.

With too much talk and not enough really going on, this movie eventually collapses into very little by the end. It spends more time giving backstory than driving the plot forward, and we are still left wondering where exactly all these characters began relative to their relationship with Denny (the title character).

Again, Frank Miller just needs to do more with what he has to work with, for he does have a lot. When the sequel is made, it will hopefully surpass this disappointment.
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Religulous (2008)
Demands A Viewing
2 October 2008
Two things about this film took away a star. One was that Bill Maher spent so much time with the ones he tried to make look bad that he didn't meet with enough experts who could further the points he was making. The second problem is that the people he interviewed could have easily made fools of themselves without him cutting them off and lecturing them. That being said, let's get to the good points.

For one thing, he makes it so clear how illogical the mass amount of people can be. He exposes phony beliefs and shows how they can become very protective against his film crew. The film stock they put into use is done masterfully. Plenty of laugh out loud moments (particularly the image of Jesus as a teenager, you will see). My word must be taken as truth when I say that the final part of the film MUST be seen. This isn't just about cracking jokes on faith. This film is about the human race taking responsibility of itself and stopping the damage it has been doing for far too long.

I truly hope religious people are not quick to brush this film off. For once, listen to the side from someone who is sincerely concerned about all of our futures.
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Batman: Gotham Knight (2008 Video)
Very Helpful To Watch Before Watching The Dark Knight
19 July 2008
I saw this before I watched the Dark Knight. It proved to be very much worth my time. I was introduced to characters like the Russian, Sal Maroni, and Officer Ramirez. I learned more about Wayne Enterprises' plans to advance technology.

Another thing that was nice is it continued the character development for Bruce Wayne since the Dark Knight did not really have any room for his character to be more explored.

The illustrations were very impressive. The stories were well-written. My favorite two stories were the first one and "Working Through Pain". I recommend this to all true fans of the new Batman Universe that started with Chis Nolan's Batman Begins.
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18 July 2008
I waited years for this film. I just finished watching it in IMax in the midnight premiere. Have I got some thoughts or what?

I'm not going to go into all the stuff everyone else has already said. By that, I mean I'm not going to write about how much Heath deserves that Oscar, although I think he definitely does.

Before I went into this movie, I thought that between leaked photos and video clips, I knew way too much. Boy, was I wrong. I knew nothing about what I was going to see. I made all these predictions. I was wrong about everything. There were certain things I guessed right, but in some way, I was still wrong.

The dialogue and shooting of the Dark Knight was flawless. The music was somewhat of a combination between the first film and the Prestige.

The twists were terrific. Every time I realized what was about to happen, I held my breath. The twists would be followed by straight up action. Action that Michael Bay could only dream of figuring out how to shoot. I mean, Gotham was a serious war zone. I really had that feeling that the Joker was going to strike at any minute.

I give this film a 10/10 on IMDb. Unbelievable stuff. I'm proud of you, Christopher Nolan. And Heath, you truly were a force to be reckoned with.
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Speed Racer (2008)
Artistic Perfection
9 May 2008
Everyone around me told me it was going to be terrible. Early reviews said that it was nothing special. With these planted doubts, I still went to see it in IMax. As of right now, it is the greatest experience I have ever had in a movie theater.

This movie was pure fun. The Wachowskis truly know how to take risks. They just took their art and ran with it. All the actors were terrific. I especially gives props to the actor who played the youngest Racer brother. Honestly, I thought that boy would sink the film but after seeing it, Speed Racer would not have been half as fun without him and the monkey.

This is most visually stunning film to date, with a climax that continues to climb and climb. I wanted to jump out of my chair and cheer for Speed at almost everything. Granted, the film was predictable, but I didn't care. I still held my breath at all the moments, asking myself if Speed would be able to pull it off. I've never smiled through a movie as much as I have with this one in a long time.

Huge 10/10 for Speed Racer and a big thank you to everyone involved in making this masterpiece. My kids will be watching this film. If there is a Speed Racer 2, I am there.
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18 March 2008
I have waited for this movie to become available to my eyes and ears for so long. Finally, on DVD release, I went out and rented it. I have never seen anything like it.

I will go ahead and admit that 90% of the plot is way over my head and that no matter how many times I re-watch it, I will never understand everything going on. I'd be willing to bet that most of the actors thought Richard Kelly was completely insane but did what he asked of them because they were getting paid. Despite its very confusing story, it was so good. It had this flow where the story was constantly moving which few films have (much of the steady pace can be attributed to the terrific musical score by Moby).

I have one guess for why this very unknown movie is so unpopular by the few people who have seen it: they misunderstand it. And of course, people always hate what they do not understand. So I have one piece of advice for the rest of you who have not watched it but plan to: do not bother trying to get it. It does not demand as much thought as you may think. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
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There's one place I'm never getting a haircut or shave
29 December 2007
Tim Burton loves to take well-known stories and turn them into his own personal freak show. Sometimes, like with Sleepy Hollow, it works. Sometimes, like with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it does not. With this movie, it definitely works.

When I read an article in a newspaper that described Sweeney Todd as a movie with "oceans of gore," I thought I knew what I was in for. By the end of the film, I could not think of a bloodier film. This movie was more violent than Eastern Promises. The shock factor was a huge part of making Sweeney Todd an intense ride.

I am no musical expert, and I know Johnny Depp is not the ideal singer, but he along with everyone else seemed to stay on note, which is enough for me. Some of the songs, like the one by the Hanson-looking boy singing about Joanna dragged on a little too long. Other than that, I liked the music.

Cool style, terrific acting by everyone, funny moments followed by extremely emotional ones, and a basement with a meat grinder and a furnace with a floor of blood pouring into the city sewers. Who could ask for anything more?
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another fine piece of cinema from our boy, ridley
2 November 2007
American Gangster ties with Eastern Promises as one of the two top crime dramas of 2007. It had a well structured story, a good cast and fine directing by none other than the best.

There is one thing I take into account when I watch a "cops vs. criminals" film: protagonists and antagonists. Personally, I usually do not care much for the concept. If it is a fictional film then characters can be played out any way that works. In a movie based on a true story however, I prefer to see every character as human beings. American Gangster accomplished that. Frank Lucas was not some evil sadistic heroine kingpin. He was a man of ethics who decided to go into a dirty business. Richie Roberts wasn't a decorated police officer that everyone looked up to. He had to make tough choices when it came to whose side he was on. These people weren't played out to be perfectly good or bad. It made the movie very authentic to the real world and the real story.

I am among the many who believe Ridley Scott deserves that Academy Award he has coming to him. He has made some of the greatest movies of the past several decades. From science fiction to war to historical and many other genres in between, the man has accomplished more than most directors ever could. Ridley is a true artist, and American Gangster can be added to the list of proof that he is.
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awesome stuff
6 October 2007
eastern promises was amazing. let me say what it isn't. it is not a blood thirsty gangster flick filled with meaningless gang war violence. this movie actually has a story. the actors actually act. the characters are structured. and when the violence does come, this movie does not hold back. viggo mortensen and naomi watts brought this movie home with their performances. everything else about it was awesome. the shooting, music, all of it was great. this is a mood type film. you must be able to appreciate that if you can handle the slower pace it moves at. godfather fans should be able to understand that. i hope eastern promises gets recognized come awards season.
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American Gun (2005)
one of the few
9 September 2007
I watched Crash. I thought it was decent. Oscar worthy? Absolutely not. I watched Babel. I thought it was absolutely terrible. If you go to the comments on that movie, you will find what I wrote about it. I watched Magnolia. Another decent type of these, but nothing I would watch over again. All of these movies got quite a bit of notice. Whether they deserved it or not, I don't really know.

But what I do know is that American Gun deserved some serious attention. This movie, which clearly had a lower budget than all of those other movies, was the greatest film of the multiple stories genre.

Maybe it's just because I don't consider "racism bad" a good enough message in a movie for the past two decades (except American History X); I think gun violence, especially in high schools, is one of the most important issues in our country. This movie just managed to get under my skin and rip out emotion from me a lot better than most movies I have seen. This movie should have received the Oscar that Crash won. It was completed before Crash. Forrest Whitaker alone is better than every actor and actress in Crash combined.

Few films pull off the loosely connected people style very well. It annoys me when a movie filled with A-list celebrities gets noticed because of it. American Gun is one of the few that didn't get that notice and deserved it.
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The Lookout (2007)
perfect follow up to Brick
21 August 2007
Joseph Gordan-Levitt is currently my favorite young actor. He is much more respectable than these other youth celebrities. But more importantly, he gets himself into much better movies.

The Lookout is storytelling at its best. Though a touch predictable, you don't know exactly how things are going to turn out the way you know they are going to. Its Memento meets Brick; a young guy who has screwed up memory after an accident in which he was changed forever and now is trying to get his life back.

All other actors delivered. No one tried to hog up the camera. It was gritty without being too blood-thirsty, dark but not lacking those special moments and intense but not making you feel like you are on a never ending roller coaster. One minute into the film, it didn't waste any time. 9/10 for me.
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High School Musical (2006 TV Movie)
Absolutely Terrible
20 August 2007
There is absolutely nothing good about this movie. Nothing! I'll start with the music. It absolutely sucked. I don't see how anybody can enjoy a kid going on about how he needs to keep his head in the game. And "bop to the top" has to be the most annoying lyrics I have ever heard in a song. So basically the music was just straight out bad and unbearable. Oh one more thing. If it's a musical, they can at least make it look like the actors are really singing and not faking it terribly.

Moving onto acting...If you can call it that. Seriously, does Disney not know how to find good actors? They've produced stars like Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan. This movie was just filled with the next generation of cinematic embarrassment.

Now I talk about the stereotypes. Oh do I really need to say more? Whoever wrote this movie did not have any friends in high school. I know this because I used to think that way. Athletes talk to athletes. Smart people talk to smart people. Skater punks talk to skater punks and none of the cliques talk to each other. That couldn't be more wrong. In any real high school, kids that are good at being social talk to anyone else that is good at being social. That means the guys on the football team will talk to the musicians. Tons of people on the math league go party it up on Friday nights. And would you believe it, some smart people actually play sports. Oh my god. Wow it's unheard of for teenagers to do more than one thing and not stand out for it. That would make it hard to generalize, wouldn't it? And it's not like teens in school don't like to be f***ing generalized.

And now for my final major complaint. The portrayal of the drama department. I was in drama class for two years and although I gave it up I am still involved. And I must say I am a little offended by the way this movie made out drama. Setting up a drama stage as punishment is pretty insulting. Some people happen to enjoy making the stage look awesome. The fact that no one tries out for the play suggests that no one likes to be in drama. And I can't even say how much I hated the goddamn drama teacher. She doesn't even know how to say "musical". I have had two drama teachers and they are the most normal, down-to-earth, least stuck up teachers I know. I swear this movie couldn't have been more wrong on what drama is in high school.

So yes, High School Musical got everything wrong. And I'm sure the sequel sucks twice as much.
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better than gladiator
20 July 2007
I just watched Gladiator for the first time in a long time a few minutes ago. It really is a terrific movie. We can all thank Ridley Scott for bringing back the historical genre. But if I had to compare the two films (and I'm sure just about everyone feels the need to compare them), I must say I felt a much stronger pull from Kingdom of Heaven. There were two things Gladiator had that Kingdom of Heaven did not. The first is the villainous character like Commodous. The second was the commanding presence of the hero, Maximus (Orlando still did good as Balian of Ibelin). It was also very operatic. But other than those things, it doesn't have anything superior to KoH. Both had this in common. They meant to stress the importance of the places the people were fighting for. This is where I think Kingdom of Heaven was done better. In Gladiator, they went on and on about what Rome was, but they never really showed what was so amazing about it. IN KoH, I really get a magical sense of what Jerusalem was supposed to be. However, after everything I just said, the two films shouldn't be compared for what's better. I almost consider KoH a sequel to Gladiator. And I can also say there would not be a KoH without Gladiator. I hope to see more of these cinematic masterpieces from Ridley.
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30 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I think I'm good at understanding movies, but this one really messes with me. And it's not even that kind of movie. Everything is supposed to make sense at the end.

So many things didn't make sense to me. Why was the mafia after Noodles the night Prohibition fell? Why did Joe Pesci's character show up at the hospital? Who was the person that was supposed to be the body of Max? Why did Max end up with Deborah? Was the young guy supposed to be Noodles's son? I don't know, I guess I was just expecting the story to be closer to being like the Godfather. I know it's a stupid thing to say since this was its own movie but still, it was so not what I thought it was going to be.

Still, it wasn't necessarily a bad movie. The environment for the time settings was great. James Woods matched Robert DeNiro in perfect performances. Cinematography pretty good.

Growing up with Tarantino, Rodriguez, and Nolan, next to Orson Wells I'd say Sergio Leone is the true inventor of non chronological film. I will have to watch Once Upon A Time In The West now.
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1408 (2007)
not bad, not bad
22 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
What was it that disturbed me about 1408? Was it the part when he looked across the street and saw himself in the other building? Or was every time the alarm clock turned itself on and started playing that music? Or maybe it was when he was trying to get into the next room over only to find that instead of another window to crawl into, it was just more of the cold brick wall? Well, I can say that all of these things were good qualities of a jumpy thriller flick. However, what I found made this movie work was the typical things you would find in a hotel room. The elevator music...the paintings...the bible...the bed that countless people have been in (a fact John was happy to bring up). Yes, I am going to be reminded of 1408 every time I check into a hotel for a while.

There have been many horror movies in the past few years. The most notable stories have been the one where a group of people are lured off the interstate where there is no cell phone service, and creepy villains await them with sharp objects. And then there is the one where a man imprisons several people and tortures them, usually with psychological mind games for no reason at all. 1408 is neither. And while I question whether it does earn the genre of horror, it certainly kept the annoying audience in the theater screaming on opening night.

Once again John Cusack is that guy that goes into the hotel and finds himself in a situation with no rational answers. This movie was no Identity, but I still give 1408 its props.
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7 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
That's just the vibe I got from two scenes. The first was when US soldiers killed surrendering Japanese soldiers in cold blood. The second was when US soldiers took the valuable sword and gun off the admiral.

Aside from those two scenes, the movie was okay. Ten times better than Flags. Honestly though, Clint Eastwood directing war movies doesn't work. His two films were weak. I watch other movies like Saving Private Ryan and Windtalkers and those movies really do show the brutality of war. Flags and Letters didn't really do the same.

Eastwood is a terrific actor. In fact, Kelly's Heroes is my favorite war movie. If he is done acting, he should just retire.
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