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Everything Must Go (2010)
A Wonderful Example of Ferrell's Acting Ability
"Everything Must Go" is a wonderful film. Taken from a short story by Raymond Carver, it is a simple idea, but richly textured so the viewer must look under the layers of simplicity for the story to open up. The short story is only a few pages long and it is very simple on the surface. The writing is sparse, but it still makes you think and this idea goes into the film as well.
Will Ferrell plays Nick Halsey, the ex-Vice President of a Regional Sales Office. We catch him on his last day of work, downing a flask and reminiscing on the meeting where he was recently terminated after falling off the wagon one too many times. After getting beer, Nick arrives home to see all of his stuff in his front yard and the locks changed. His credit cards and bank account are frozen and he's left with the money on his wallet and the stuff on his lawn.
Ferrell gives a very wonderfully subtle performance. Carver would be proud. It seems to me that the main complaint that people have voiced with this film was that there was no big payoff. I disagree. I think there was a big payoff, just not in the sense that there was this huge change in the character. The change is subtle, but it is there. Ferrell goes back to his dramatic abilities to show us the story of a man in crisis, struggling to get out and he does it well. My fear is that this movie will be misunderstood by fans of Ferrell's comedy.
It is a depressing movie, but it is a simple story of finding hope as well with comedy sprinkled throughout. My advice would be to give it a chance and be rewarded by seeing Ferrell's abilities.
The Wackness (2008)
Terrific film, Kingsley is Great
I had only heard the premise of the movie when I picked it up at Blockbuster the other day. While it is not the greatest movie of all time, it is surely in my top 10 of 2008. Not being a fan of Josh Peck, by the end of the movie I could sympathize with his character and I could actually take him seriously. The first half of the movie, I kept comparing Luke Shapiro to Josh Nichols from "Drake and Josh." However, despite others' beliefs, I feel that Peck played the role of Shapiro very well. But even more amazing was Ben Kingsley. Not being a fan of Kingsley either, I had only seen him in "Dave" and "Lucky Number Slevin" and I really didn't know what to expect. He played his part as the drug-addicted pyschiatrist very well and I felt a connection with his character more than Peck's.
The movie begins in what I assume is May of 1994 as Luke Shapiro (Peck) is graduating from high school. With the summer approaching and his family making money, Luke is selling more drugs than he usually does, including to his psychiatrist, Dr. Squires (Kingsley), and Squires' stepdaughter, Stephanie. After a night in jail with Dr. Squires, Luke and Stephanie hit it off and Luke is sure that he's found love. But Dr. Squires thinks differently. As the summer goes on and the heat rises in New York City, Dr. Squires and Luke start reevaluating their lives and trying to find the real meaning of their time on Earth. What starts as a coming-of-age film ends as a deep study of the parallels between young and old. "The Wackness" is a deep and solid film with great performances from Kingsley and Peck. I know exactly why the film was recognized at Sundance. Highly recommended.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Movie That I've Been Waiting for All Summer
I remember in my younger days watching the campy (not necessarily bad) Batman movies with a wide variety of actors from Adam West to Michael Keaton to George Clooney. I remember being a child and being especially afraid of Jack Nicholson's Joker in Tim Burton's version of Batman in 1989. But I didn't even imagine the Joker as I saw him tonight. Heath Ledger is by far the scariest Batman character, I believe, to ever be brought to life on the big screen. The purple-suited prankster is more in love with anarchy than schemes and such. With a dark sense of humor, you find yourself laughing at some unexpected places in the film. But why not put a smile on that face? Enter Bruce Wayne, our model hero, to save the day...or so one would think. But when the going gets tough, Wayne questions his place in Gotham City. Now that new DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is in town, maybe Gotham deserves a "hero with a face," as Bruce puts it. Maybe they deserve the knight in shining armor instead of the knight in midnight black bat suit.
With plenty of humor, character development, and action, "The Dark Knight" keeps you guessing and hanging on until the end credits roll. With the brilliant Nolan brothers writing and directing once again, how could this have failed? Who ever saw Batman as not just a figure in the dark, but a dark figure himself? While the original TV series was campy and comic, "Begins" and "Knight" have surely cast that image away from the franchise. And all I have to say is...bring on some more.
Supporting performances from Eric Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine make "The Dark Knight" a summer winner. Hats off to all involved for the entertainment and a job well done.
Grace Is Gone (2007)
Sad, Beautiful, Brilliant- "Grace" Remains With the Viewer
"Grace is Gone" is a very sad, but important film. Until I read about it on IMDb, I had no idea that it was being made. Very subtley, it slipped in and out of theaters. Finally, I found it at Blockbuster and picked it up to watch with my family. At the end, my family remarked on how sad the movie is. They are very right with this comment. In fact, this may be one of the saddest, but beautiful films I've ever seen. It takes a situation that every parent may face and turns it into a beautiful story about family and love.
Stanley Phillips is a dad taking care of his two daughters while their wife and mother, Grace, is in Iraq in the Army. When the news comes one day that Grace has been killed overseas, Stanley is left alone and clueless as to how to tell his daughters that their mother is not coming home. As a way of avoiding the conversation, Stanley takes the girls on a trip to Enchanted Gardens, an amusement park that looks similar to Disney World.
The plot, with Clint Eastwood's beautiful score and James Strouse's great writing and directing, brings the viewer a subtle and beautiful film. "Grace is Gone" definitely stays with the viewer.
Reign Over Me (2007)
Adam Sandler Makes a...POWERFUL PERFORMANCE?
"Reign Over Me" is not the type of movie that one would expect to see Adam Sandler in. The star of comedy hits such as "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore" is not the type of actor that many, including myself, could imagine in a dramatic role. But Sandler sticks to his character very faithfully and actually gives a powerful performance full of pain and uncertainty.
Sandler plays Charlie Fineman, a once stable dentist who lost his family in the September 11 attacks in New York City. While one may be used to hearing Sandler quite audibly while he's yelling in his other films, I found myself having to turn the subtitles sometimes as he mumbles on to people. This is another key characteristic of Charlie Fineman and Sandler sticks to it throughout the family.
Meanwhile, Fineman's old college roommate Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) is having a crisis. While it is not mid-life, it deals with the boredom of routine and repetition. His life seems to be passing him by and he is taking photography classes and doing puzzles with his wife.
Then one night in the city, Alan and Charlie meet for the first time in a long time. Charlie doesn't remember Alan, let alone college, but soon enough, he doesn't want to leave Alan alone. At first, Alan finds Charlie fine, maybe a bit depressed and quiet, but fine. But soon after, Charlie starts to have emotional issues resulting in fits of anger and jealousy. You see Charlie's life falling apart from Alan's point of view.
With a great soundtrack and even some comedy sprinkled about, "Reign Over Me" is a fantastic film for all involved whether it be Mike Binder, the writer/director/actor, or Sandler and Cheadle. Take a chance and don't let Sandler's name on the box fool you. This is a very serious and deep film, but a beautiful film.
Kudos again to everyone involved.
The Astronaut Farmer (2006)
Thorton Shines in "Farmer"
"The Astronaut Farmer" is the story of Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thorton). After studying space aeronautics in college, Charles returns to his family farm after his father commits suicide. With all of his money, he begins to build a rocket in his barn. But when money gets tight and the bank threatens to foreclose on his farm, Charlie needs all the help he can get. And who else can help him, but his wife (Virginia Madsen) and three children. With the FBI watching his house and every move, Farmer builds his rocket and fights the FAA to fly it.
Even though Farmer is aiming for the moon and stars, HE, is in fact the star. Billy Bob Thorton played his role perfectly and he makes you really feel for his character.
This movie is very well done. It kept my attention without resorting to language or violence. The suspenseful scenes are suspenseful and the dramatic scenes are dramatic. Its an inspirational movie that the whole family can enjoy. With supporting roles from Tim Blake Nelson, J.K. Simmons, Jon Gries, Bruce Willis, and Bruce Dern, "The Astronaut Farmer" is a visual treat for everyone, space buff or not.
Smokin' Aces (2006)
A Whole Lot of Fun with a Great Cast!
I walked into the theater having so-so expectations, but they were blown away when the credits began rolling after the hour and fifty minute run time. I was completely amazed by this movie. The story, dialog, cast, and camera work is all great. The action scenes are all filmed extremely well also.
After Agents Messner (Ryan Reynolds) and Carruthers (Ray Liotta) hear some news of a possible hit against an important witness (Jeremy Piven), the race is on to get to Lake Tahoe to protect him. But the FBI agents aren't the only ones who are hurrying to get to Nevada. Along with them are a bail bondsmen (Ben Affleck) and his crew (Martin Henderson and Peter Berg) and many hit men and women.
The witness, Buddy "Aces" Israel, is a coke head magician who wanted to live the gangster lifestyle. Well, when Israel becomes a threat to the Mob, they supposedly want him dead. So the hit men/women come in and the game is on with a sum of 1,000,000 dollars as the prize.
All the performances are great, but the two that just mesmerized me were Ryan Reynolds and Jeremy Piven. They play their roles perfectly. And I found myself rooting for Reynolds and his band of FBI agents, but at the same time, I felt bad for Piven's character.
The camera work is amazing in the movie. The operators really had an eye, I guess or the director.
With great supporting performances from Chris Pine, Andy Garcia, Peter Berg, Jason Bateman, Alicia Keys, and Common, "Smokin' Aces" is a fun ride from start to finish that will have you on the edge of your seat for the entire time.
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Anaconda 3 Starring Character Development
"Snakes on a Plane." The title is pretty blunt and self-explanatory. We've seen "Anaconda" and "Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid." What else could they put in a snake movie? Snakes are deadly. They are going to kill people. Well, they threw Samuel L. Jackson in the movie and what may seem like just a simple, stupid snake movie to some can be interpreted by others as a story with character development with snakes as a subplot. My second viewing of the movie turned out that way.
The movie starts of with Sean (Nathan Phillips) seeing a murder by a notorious gangster in Hawaii. After the mobster finds out where Sean lives, hero FBI Agent Neville Flynn (Samuel L. Jackson) comes to the rescue. After escaping henchmen once, Flynn tells Sean that he can either get killed by the gangster or come testify in Los Angeles. Sean takes the second choice and Flynn and Sean take the red eye to LA. Little do they know that the gangster has put a variety of poisonous snakes on the plane. When the plane lifts off, the snakes come out causing some gruesome deaths. And of course, its up to Neville Flynn to save the day.
But as the snakes keep coming, the people keep fighting and there's a scene where they almost sound like one big fighting family. So despite this movie having a cheesy title, its actually not that bad at all. Supporting roles from David Koeschner and Keenan Thompson bring some comedic moments to the movie. But beware, there are gruesome scenes in this movie and it is not for everyone. But it is better than both "Anaconda" movies. So if you're looking for a decent snake movie, see this one. Its not bad at all.
Rocky V (1990)
Deserves More Than The 4.0 Rating
As of January 3, 2007, "Rocky V" has a rating of 4.0. And I feel that it deserves better. It has the same feel as all of the other "Rocky" movies. It is a standard underdog type of tale. The story is realistic until the end kind of. And the 5th installment deals a lot more with Rocky Balboa's family life than his fighting and such.
After the events in "Rocky IV," Balboa returns home to the USA to great media and country applause. But that soon ends when Rocky is pronounced unfit to box and he loses all his money with a financial error by his lawyer. So he moves back to the old neighborhood in Philly with Adrian and Robert, Jr., his son. Paulie makes quite a lot of appearances, but it is unsure whether he lives with his brother-in-law's family or not.
And that's when Rocky meets Tommy Gunn, a hotshot fighter who requests Rocky's help. He has enormous potential, but he is young and he refuses to listen. When Gunn wins fights, but craves more, he ditches Rocky for a big time promoter. But Gunn is always in his mentor's shadow as he learns after the fights and money don't bring him the love of the fans. For its like Adrian Balboa says, "They love you because you won with heart, not your fists." But Tommy, not knowing that, feels that he has to beat Rocky with his fists to show he is the more superior fighter.
With plenty of good suspense and lessons, the 5th installment in the "Rocky" series is a winner, but most don't seem to feel that way.
The Ice Harvest (2005)
Great Noir Comedy/Thriller
Black comedy is at its finest in Ivan Reitman's "The Ice Harvest." Mob lawyer Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) decides one day to steal 2 million dollars from his boss, Bill Guerrard (Randy Quaid). Together with pornographer Vic Cavanaugh (Billy Bob Thorton), Charlie thinks that he's pulled off the perfect heist. But when a few hours in Wichita turns into a few hours too long, Charlie and Vic get jumpy and try to skip town. But with the mob now on their tail, they're having problems with trusting people in their community and problems trusting each other.
With Charlie trying to seduce Renata (Connie Nielsen), a stripper who is not as trustworthy as she seems and trying to keep control of Pete (Oliver Platt), his ex-wife's new husband who's trying to reach the "perfect stage of drunkness", Wichita turns into a battleground.
With a great comedic performance from Platt (his character is drunk through the movie), "The Ice Harvest" brings John Cusack to the screen in prime comedic form. Although I would have liked to see more of Randy Quaid (screen time is less than 20 minutes) and a longer cut of the movie, "The Ice Harvest" succeeded in making me laugh (mostly Platt) and keeping my attention.
Has its Moments, But "Anchorman" Will Always Be Funnier
Will Ferrell has always been funny and he will always be funny in my book. From his early days on SNL to the hilarious "Anchorman," his antics have become a pop culture icon of the 90's and 2000's. And now he comes to theaters and Blockbuster with "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby." Although it seems slightly less funny than "Anchorman," "Talladega" has its moments when its laugh after laugh.
Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) is a champion race car driver. Taking advice from his deadbeat semi-pro race car driving dad, Ricky becomes obsessed with the phrase, "If you aren't first you're last." So with his friend, Cal Naughton, Jr. (John C. Reilly) at his side, Ricky is an unbeaten driver...until the hilarious French driver, Jean Girard (Sascha Baron Cohen) comes to America to beat him.
After suffering a terrible crash in a race with Girard, Ricky goes to a hospital where he believes he is paralyzed. It is up to Lucius Washington (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Cal to get him up and driving again. But when the speed-loving Bobby won't go fast anymore, his fans, his wife, and sometimes his best friend abandon him.
With no one on his side, but his deadbeat dad and his loving mom, Ricky must learn to race again and race against the ever-smart Girard. All the actors play their parts perfectly, but I couldn't help but feel like I enjoyed "Anchorman" more as a comedy. With Ferrell's group of friends as supporting actors, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" is worth the $4.27 I spent at Blockbuster for it and possibly the 15 dollars I'll pay in the future for it, but I'm not rushing to get it like I was the day "Anchorman" came out.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
A Dark Comedy for the Family
Meet the Hoovers! Richard (Greg Kinnear) is a failed inspirational speaker. With a wife (Toni Collette) possibly having a mid-life crisis, things are falling apart. With a daughter, Olive (Abigail Breslin), who wants to be a beauty queen, a mute son, Dwayne (Paul Dano), and Grandpa Edwin (Alan Arkin), who has been kicked out of a nursing home for continuing to snort heroin. (He still is.) Also along for the bumpy ride ahead is Frank (Steve Carrell), a suicidal scholar who lost his grad student lover to his rival.
When Olive gets a message one day that says she's been chosen to attend the "Little Miss Sunshine" pageant, she goes ballistic. Grandpa has been teaching her moves and she's ready to compete. With Richard's 9-step program possibly becoming a book, this can't be happening now. But surely it is! Piling into a VW bus, they travel from Albequerque to California to show beauty queens, police officers, hospital staff, and California residents a thing or two about dysfunctional. With memorable lines, scenes, and characters, "Little Miss Sunshine" is a dark comedy that can teach us about family.
Casino Royale (2006)
Bland, But Yet Bold...Craig, Please Stay
I am not a huge James Bond fan. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy all the movies, and from what I've seen James Bond is best portrayed by Sean Connery. But if Sean Connery didn't ever play Bond in Dr. No, then Daniel Craig would be the best. He plays the character perfectly with lapses of emotion and then no emotion.
The story places Bond in a poker game with 9 other players. If the funds go to a sadistic French man, then terrorist organizations will have 150 million dollars more.
With a beautiful treasury agent (Eva Green) at his side, Bond plays poker and plays poker and plays poker some more. "Casino Royale" is the Bond film that hardcore fans have been waiting for. Craig shows how fantastic an actor he is in this picture filled with violence, womens, and, who knew, comedy.
The Departed (2006)
Excellent mix of black comedy, drama, and action
This is quite possibly Martin Scorcese's best picture since "Goodfellas." It may surpass "Goodfellas," in fact. There is an excellent mix of drama, black comedy, and action. It is made even better with excellent writing, direction by Scorcese, and acting by its leads.
We begin the movie with a monologue by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), the crime lord of Boston, Massachusetts. It then shows young Colin Sullivan and how he begins a relationship with Costello doing odd jobs. When older Colin (Matt Damon) becomes a police officer, Costello has a new informant in the State Police.
Enter the mind of Billy Costigan (Leo DiCaprio), a young undercover cop infiltrating the Boston Mob for the State Police. With a family history of criminals, Billy has an easy time fitting in with Costello's crew. He uses paroxysms of violence to show that he can defend himself and that he is not to be pushed around.
When moles are believed to be in the State Police and the Boston Mob, Captain William Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Costello are on the lookout for suspicious behavior among their "allies." With both Sullivan and Costigan getting paranoid, the movie goes deeper into the BPD and the criminal underworld. Great supporting performances from Ray Winstone and Mark Wahlberg make "The Departed" a real treat to watch.
Saw III (2006)
If you can take the gore, its excellent
I did not come into this movie with any expectations whatsoever. If it was a bad third installment, well, we're getting used to them (Final Destination 3, Santa Clause 3). Well, this is one of the better endings to a trilogy.
In this sophomore sequel to 2005's Saw II, John Kramer aka Jigsaw is sick and near death. He is terminally ill, but apparently refuses to accept the fact. To keep him alive, Jigsaw and his protégé, Amanda, kidnap Dina, an anti-depressant-taking doctor in a crumbling marriage. Dina is forced to "play a game" to keep Jigsaw alive. As long as Jigsaw stays alive, so does she.
Angus MacFayden gives a magnificent performance as Jeff, a father who feels that he failed his family when his son was struck and killed by a drunk driver. He is also kidnapped by Jigsaw and put through a series of tests. At the end, Jigsaw promises that he will meet his son's murderer. Jigsaw's tests are about Jeff's morality and forgiveness.
With extra gory scenes of torture and decapitation, the third installment in the Saw series is by far the most graphic, but also the greatest. I was told that it had lack of surprise. This may be true, but the movie makes up for the lack of surprise with a surplus of suspense. It will keep you going until the end.
Running Scared (2006)
Ultra-violent, ultra-profane, ultra-excellent
"Running Scared" is a great film from director/writer Wayne Kramer that shows glimpses of Tony Scott film making and storytelling. The camera work is brilliant and it creates a slick and stylish picture for the movie.
The movie begins with gritty music and comic book credits. The credits may remind you of "The Punisher" or "Hostage," but the premise is entirely different. Joey Gazelle is low on the mob food chain. So when Tommy, his boss's son, kills some corrupt cops, it's up to Joey to dispose of the "hot" weapon.
When young Oleg and Joey's son, Nick, see Joey hiding the gun in the basement, Oleg sneaks the gun home where his depressed mother and his abusive father don't make a quiet home. When shots are heard later, Joey goes to investigate to find that Oleg's father has been shot by the gun that Tommy used to kill the corrupt cop.
Now, with cops, junkies, pimps, the mob, and time running against him, Joey weaves his way through the city to save Oleg's life...and his. This film will not be enjoyed by everybody, but if you enjoy hearing the F-word in every other sentence and don't mind seeing blood and murder, then "Running Scared" is just your movie. With the exception of one scene, this movie is perfect. Elements of Tony Scott are alive and vivid here. Sit back and enjoy the fights.
'Til Death (2006)
Nothing New, But Garrett Makes it Funny
I was never really a huge fan of "Everybody Loves Raymond," but Ray's brother (Garrett) was always my favorite character when I watched the show. Now, after "Raymond" has left the networks, Garrett goes onto his new project "'Til Death." The show is funny. It shows everyday situations that a lot can relate to. It tells about two sets of married couples, one thats been married for 24 years and one that's been married 12 days. While the newlyweds are deeply in love, Garrett and his wife seem to have a strained relationship. I hope this show sticks around for awhile.
With many great one liners, this show is a surefire hit with anyone who's married.
The Night Listener (2006)
A TV Movie Starring Robin Williams
After seeing "The Night Listener" on August 13, 2006, I have mixed feelings about it. Robin Williams give a great performance as Gabriel No one, a troubled late-night radio storyteller. But my mind couldn't help, but scream "LIFETIME MOVIE!" The movie begins in the radio station where troubled Gabriel, who has just broken up with his boyfriend, is describing his fictional stories, but claims for this particular story, which he calls "The Night Listener," to be completely true. So he begins telling the story, starting when his publisher friend gave him a manuscript written by 14-year-old Pete Logand (Rory Culkin). Pete has written an autobiography of how he was sexually abused by his parents and their friends. They made pornographic tapes starring Pete in their basement to sell on the internet.
Now infected with AIDS, Pete writes his memoir hoping to have it published. He forms a very close relationship with Gabriel, almost like a father-son relationship. But when questions about Pete's existence come up, Pete's foster mother (Toni Collette) becomes very protective.
It held my attention for an hour and a half, but, again, my mind kept screaming "LIFETIME MOVIE!" But that is just my opinion. I give "The Night Listener" 6/10 stars. Great acting, okay script. Also stars Sandra Oh.
The Weather Man (2005)
Depressing, Dull, and Ultimately Brilliant
Gore Vebrinski directs this story of weatherman Dave Spritz (Nicolas Cage), whose life is spinning out of control. With his wife, Noreen (Hope Davis), seeing another man who happens to be a jerk and his father (Michael Caine) dying from lymphoma. His young daughter is smoking cigarettes and his teenage son is in rehab. And in the midst of all the pandemonium, Spritz begins to fall apart.
Yes, this movie is depressing. I couldn't help but feel sad watching this movie because you felt bad for Dave, but then you found out why his life was so screwed up. And it was ultimately his fault. Having sex with other women and not paying attention to the wife and kids can hurt a family relationship.
When the movie ended, I turned to my dad and asked what he thought. He replied that he thought it was dull and stupid. I must agree that some parts of the movie did seem to drag, but in the end, this tale of breakdown, grief, and struggle is ultimately brilliant. Great performances from Cage and Caine especially. I'm surprised one of them wasn't up for an Oscar.
"Click" stars Adam Sandler as Michael Newman, a workaholic architect that is putting his job first and family second. Frustrated because he can't turn on the television one night, he storms into Bed, Bath, and Beyond to get a universal remote that can control everything from his ceiling fan to his television. Michael meets Morty (Chrisopher Walken), an strange inventor who gives Michael his "universal" remote: a remote to remote control his universe. Fast forwarding, rewinding, and pausing ensue, but the remote soon programs itself to Michael's preferences: fast forwarding through arguments with his wife (Kate Beckinsale), promotions, and sickness.
I have mixed feelings about this movie. The first half was like an old Adam Sandler movie. Crude remarks and cursing kids open the first half. The second half is somewhat a comedy about how we miss the little things in life. But in the end, "Click" was a fun summer movie that shows us that Adam Sandler can do anything from comedy to drama.
25th Hour (2002)
*Forget* You, Monty Brogan...
We are always wanting to blame other people or things. For Montgomery Brogan, this is just becoming a reality. Facing a seven year jail term starting in 24 little hours, he has a lot to do in a very little time. Recconecting with old friends (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Barry Pepper), his father (Brian Cox), and trying to appreciate the little time he has left with his girlfriend (Rosario Dawson), he spends a day trying to figure out who ratted him out to the DEA. The only two people who knew where his stash was were Naturelle, his girlfriend and his Russian business partner.
Jacob Elinsky is an English teacher and an old friend of Monty's. He has a weak personality, being quiet and soft-spoken. Brilliantly played by the excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman, his performance is one of the major highlights of the movie.
Francis Xavier Slaughtery is a stock broker and swinger. Not caring about anyone or anything, he has a comfortable life. He is extremely intelligent with a list of "theories." Living next to Ground Zero, Frank lives in a nice apartment. He is better than 99 percent of the bachelors in New York, he claims. But as Monty leaves, Francis Xavier Slaughtery becomes aware that after tonight, Monty is gone.
Beautiful shots of New York accompany this masterpiece. It makes you ask "What if today was the last day?" and it gives meaning to the memorable line in "Rent:" "No day but today." Stars: Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Brian Cox, and Rosario Dawson Running Time: 135 minutes (2 hours and 15 minutes) Rated R for Strong Language and Some Violence
The Omen (2006)
Can't Replace the Original, but Pretty Good
They brought the original "Omen" screenwriter on to rewrite his own script. Ambassador Robert Thorn and his wife Katherine had a still birth years ago. Thinking that she couldn't handle the emotional pain, Robert agrees to "switch" babies. He takes an abandoned baby and makes it look as though it is Katherine and his. Little did they know, the child they brought home is not only not human, he is the spawn of Satan.
The biggest problem I have with this movie was that they shouldn't have brought on the original screenwriter. You can hear lots of the same lines in the 1976 version of the film with Gregory Peck. Overall, the movie is watchable. It actually has a plot. Liev Schreiber does a wonderful job as Robert. I wasn't crazy about Julia Stiles's performance. The child who played Damien gave unintentionally funny expressions. He didn't match the creepiness of the original Damien.
My favorite character, though, was David Thewlis as Jennings, the reporter who tries to unravel the mystery with Robert. He is a wonderful actor.
This movie deserves an 8/10. Good, but it can't take the place of the original.
Two Much Information With So Little Time
I have studied Charles Raymond Starkweather for the past six months. I was excited when I saw that it would be on Showtime. Not being able to order Showtime, I picked up a copy at Blockbuster. The review is as follows: In the winter of 1958-1959, Charles Starkweather murdered 11 people with his girlfriend Caril-Ann Fugate as his accomplice. Their symphony of murder is told through this movie inaccurately. The hour-and-a-half runtime it has is too short to tell a story of this magnitude. They could've done so much more with the material they had. They could've explored Charlie's personality. What they produced is a film lacking depth and any reason. The psychological effects that Starkweather's crimes had on the public was not displayed at all. And Starkweather's murders are not portrayed accurately.
This movie could've been great given a longer running time and an accurate portrayal. But what the viewing public is left with is a Lifetime Movie on a different channel.
Everything Is Illuminated (2005)
Is the War Over?
Everything is Illuminated, adapted by Liev Schrieber from Jonathan Safran Foer's novel, tells the story of Jonathan Safran Foer's travels to the Ukraine in search of the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis.
Elijah Wood plays Jonathan, a collector of dirt, false teeth, and other family items. As the movie begins, we see Jonathan at a nursing home with his grandmother. She tells him that his grandfather wanted him to have a photo for his collection. The picture shows his grandfather and a woman named Augustine. Before Jonathan can find out who Augustine is, his grandmother passes away. Now, Jonathan must find out for himself.
Eugene Hutz plays Alex, a Ukrainian man greatly influenced by American culture. He and his grandfather are hired by Jonathan to take him to the village where Augustine lives or lived. Along for the ride is Sammy Davis, Jr., Jr., the demented "seeing eye dog" for Alex's "blind" grandfather.
In a strange country that Alex doesn't know, he searches for this mysterious woman and ultimately finds something else, something more. The things of the past are greatly illuminated. The past lives forever.
Is the War over? 9/10 stars
The Benchwarmers (2006)
For the nerd in all of us, Gus, Ritchie, and Clark have come to play baseball for missed opportunities.
When young Nelson, the son of billionaire Mel, is bullied by some nasty little league players, Gus comes to defend him followed by video rental clerk Ritchie and paper boy Clark. Challenged to a game of 3 on 9, Gus single-handedly beats the 9 opponents.
Challenged again, with Nelson and Mel watching, the Benchwarmers win again. Mel decides that he must sponsor them for him, his son, and nerds everywhere.
Thus, Mel holds a little league tournament with a team of three grown men. What follows is a series of laughs, forgiveness, and lighthearted comedy.
Starring Rob Schneider as Gus, David Spade as Ritchie, and Jon Heder as Clark, "The Benchwarmers" is a comedy showing us that it is never too late to take a stand and to play the All-American passtime. Go see it for Jon Heder. Go see it for the baseball. Go see it for the laughs. Go see it for a break from the real world.