Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Trailers: The Soloist (2009)

I didn't post this, even when I thought it was coming out in November. It will actually be coming out in the Spring, FYI. Different look for Joe Wright.

Review: Revolutionary Road (2008)

Sam Mendes is really good at making movies at depress the hell out of me.

What we have here is a very rough look at the plastic life of 50's American Suburbia through the eyes of Frank and April Wheeler (Leo and Kate), a young married couple who felt the pressure of society and "resigned from life", as they say.

The film starts out very well; we see how they meet, then BAM, they're married and with two kids. Before the title screen appears we've already seen one of their knock down, drag out wars (which, by the end, we will have gotten used to). It's a great great way to establish the setting. Okay, they're young, married, and unhappy.

Through more drama and infidelities, they decide that the time has come to be courageous and move away, far away, and start a life somewhere else, where-get ready for it-the wife will support the husband. Through this we see how different the Wheelers are from everybody else, despite how well they seem to fit the mold. They're depressed, and now I am too. But, it's refreshing to see married life portrayed so brutally, and (SPOILER ALERT) with no happy ending.

Mendes gives us a superficial world where ignoring someone is as easy as turning the volume on your hearing aid down. Or, getting over the loss of a friend by inviting the new neighbors over. It was a time when everybody was too busy over their martinis and cigarettes to give a damn about anybody else, as long as they all behaved the same. It's perfect.

I almost feel bad for thinking that the acting wasn't great. I rather felt that the two... Do you call them protagonists? I can't say I was definitely rooting for them. They both showed qualities that were far from admirable. Anyway, the two leads, I felt they overacted. I love Kate, I love Leo. But, they were not real great. Leo, I felt, was good when he was out of control. I think that kind of acting would be a fun challenge, and I think he took it and ran. Kate.... What happened? Maybe she'll be good in The Reader.

Just because it was sad, tough to watch, and made me numb, doesn't mean I didn't like it. On the contrary, I thought it was beautifully crafted. Heartbreaking, but beautiful.

They should call it Revolutionary Road, or further proof that Sam Mendes hates the suburbs.

Grade: B

Random News: Fox seeking Watchmen delay...

First there was this, now there's this:

Watchmen is not going to end 2008 on a high note. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a lawyer for 20th Century Fox has said that the studio will seek an order delaying the release of the film. Ever since Fox first filed its suit, Watchmen fans have been panicked that the film's legal woes would delay its March 6 release. Seriously, Fox, don't you just want some money? A nice chunk of money? Don't kick the Watchmen when they're down.


Warner Bros. must be hurting right now. Hey, at least they had The Dark Knight, eh?

Random News: Harry Potter franchise ending early?

From Cinematical:

If you thought the delayed release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was too much to bear, what about never ever getting to see how things wrap up on the big screen? In the wake of news that Disney had dumped Narnia, The Independent reports that Harry Potter could be next.


For Christ' sake.

Trailers: Clive Owen double feature

The International

Duplicity (I'm loathe to admit that this looks better than I thought it would be. Trust in Tony Gilroy)

Does anyone think these movies look kinda the same?

I want to watch Children of Men again...

Review: Australia (2008)

Calling all script editors: Baz Luhrmann is hiring.

Or at least he should be. I'm pretty confused what his latest film is really about.

Is it about cattle wars? Sure, there's about 90 minutes dedicated to the rivalry between Faraway Downs (owned and operated by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, respectively) and King Carney (Bryan Brown and his lackey, David Wenham). It's fun, it's exciting, and it has a happy ending.

But, could it also be about the injustice towards aborigine children, which is an underlying theme throughout the entire 2 hours and 45 minutes. The young child Nullah (Brandon Walters, who carries the weight of the film), is half white, and is constantly alert to "coppers" who will take him away to cleansing camps--where they "breed the black out of him."

Aye, it's most certainly about that.

But it's also about the Japanese attacks in Darwin. This small segment is Lurhman's answer to Pearl Harbor. After the attack, though, there's still like 3 hours of film left. I'm like, what's going on? How many movies is this?

Annnd it's a love story. Very dull. Very sappy. Very fluffy. There's way too much going on in this film. Wasn't there some sort of controversy before about the ending? Well, my complaint is that it's too long. About an hour and a half too long.

The first 20 minutes, I was ready to love it. It's super stylish and funny and pretty. Very Baz Luhrmann. I was like "hey! why is this getting such poor reviews?" Then I find out. It continues on with surface, but no substance. Ugh... Somebody help this film. Like a SCRIPT EDITOR.

Oh look at that, I think this review may need an editor too.

P.S. When is David Wenham going to get his own movie? He's forever the secondary character, and even though he was the main baddie in this, I still wanted to marry him. Oh, I've loved him too long. I think he really needs to get his own film.

Grade: C?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Hm. Most movies I see, I can still enjoy them while still thinking about what I'm going to write here. I tried to think about that for this film, but I couldn't. I still don't know what I'm going to write. So, this will be plain, I think.

I will start out by saying that this film is gorgeous. It's so, so pretty.

This movie is long. It's about 2:40. But, I daresay it is quite necessary for it to be this way. It's not unbearable, but it really does feel like a lifetime. That's... Good, right?

The film raises lots of questions, kind of heavy ones. Like, how do you handle the fact that you outlive everybody you know, before you've even had a chance to really live? Born as an old man, Benjamin Button spends most of his time with the elderly, and they all die when he is still very young. However later in his life he's able to have life experiences in a young man's body with the knowledge and wisdom and experience of an old man. Heavy stuff. Kinda depressing. It's a film that redefines the phrase "growing old together.

Wow. Brad Pitt. Man. What a handsome devil. Even when he's old. Good news for him, right? He was, of course, terrific. He showed great maturity in his expressions. His character is faced with the challenge of growing up very quickly, and it's so so perfect, what he does. Cate Blanchett's character Daisy (and Benjamin's great love), is a bit of the opposite. She's selfish and naive, young and carefree. But always she's played with effortless grace. However, I didn't like her character, which made some of the film kind of annoying.

The biggest accomplishment probably has to be when Benjamin is a young boy in an old man's body. He has great curiosity in his expressions, and innocent looks of hurt and confusion. It's heartbreaking to see such unsheltered emotions on an old man's face. I don't know how much is computer and how much is actor. You kind of always feel really sorry for Benjamin throughout this whole film. It's like, jesus christ. Can he get a break? The answer: No. He cannot.

This film is a whole lot of pretty and a bit of substance. But the slow southern drawl of Brad Pitt's narration is a tad cringe-worthy, and reminiscent of Forrest Gump (which I hated). There's so much bittersweetness that I grimace a bit.

In short: This movie is not as amazing as it should be.

Grade: B-

Friday, December 26, 2008

Review: Frost/Nixon (2008)

I was right to be excited about this one, because it is superb. I don't know why, but when I think of a Ron Howard film, I think pseudo directing. Maybe the DaVinci Code did that for me. Or How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Or Cinderella Man. He's sometimes hard to figure out.

But here, I think he hit the mark. Frost/Nixon is about the aftermath of the notorious Watergate scandal, and Richard Nixon's resignation from office. Of course, after seeing it, that's not what it's really about. It's about a battle of wills between two men.

Frost and Nixon, played by Michael Sheen and Frank Langella, respectively, reprising their roles from broadway (I can't imagine how sick I would be of a role if I played it for a run on Broadway, then in a movie), both deliver devastatingly fantastic performances. I'm young, and to be honest I really don't know anything about Richard Nixon and especially not David Frost, but I trust that they're both good depictions of their characters. There is a scene where Frank Langella is talking to Michael Sheen on speakerphone, so he's able to use his whole body to act, and he does. He does it without having anybody present to work off of. I thought that was fantastic.

The film opens with a tense collage of archival footage, giving viewers a brief history of the last days of Nixon's presidency. I'm reminded very much of Steven Spielberg's Munich, showing just an outdoor show of the White House, with the implied "He's in there somewhere... What's he thinking?" It's very effective, and I'm drawn in immediately.

As for secondary characters, Sam Rockwell has to take the gold here. He plays a passionate anti-Nixon author devoted to "giving him the trial he never had." I loved watching him. He was very earnest, very believable, and very very good. Following him are Oliver Platt and Matthew McFadyen, playing the other two members of Frost's team. They all had great chemistry. Kevin Bacon's role of Nixon Chief of Staff Jack Brennan almost seemed like a joke. Like he was mocking him, with his VERY earnest reactions to Nixon's tale of his daughter hugging him with tears in her eyes when he was about to resign; "That's Beautiful.." Don't get me wrong, he was great, but the character is.. Weird.

This movie has great moments of tension, a fair few moments of comedy, and just the tiniest bit of history thrown in. The premise itself, of forcing President Nixon to apologize to the American People, is apparently much more dramatized than it was, and less important in real life. Or at least, my dad tells me so.

Grade: A

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My present sadness...

I still have a few movies to see before the official movie year is over (this being, in little minneapolis, sometime in january), and I know I'm going to break 80 for the year, but won't reach 100. Maybe that's not something to get bent out of shape about, but next year might not be as plentiful. I haven't been employed at a movie theater since September, and in the dead months of February, March and April, the only reason I saw most of the movies I did is because they were free and convenient.

Well for the love of Christ.

Current Total: 77
Projected Total: 88-90

I can live with that. I GUESS.

Review: Hellboy II The Golden Army (2008)

More catch up. I sort of saw this by accident, but it's all good. I knew going into it that I would be entertained. And, well, I pretty much was. I don't feel the need to review this... So I won't. It was good and pretty, and fun. Isn't that what a summer movie is supposed to be? Seemingly, though all the movies that came out this summer pretty much kicked the ass of any other movie that has or will come out.

Yes, I'm going to continue advocating for Summer Movies. Because they didn't let me down.

Grade: B


Review: Yes Man (2008)

Yeah, I saw Yes Man. On purpose. Jim Carrey makes Jim Carrey movies, just as Will Ferrell makes Will Ferrell movies.. So, I really got nothing more I expected out of this one. That doesn't mean it wasn't entertaining. It's one of those movies where you know you shouldn't want to, but you kinda do.

The premise is simple, he is a negative nancy (named Carl) who is changed by a convention into saying "yes" to every opportunity. So, he does, and lo, how his life changes. He gets a promotion, becomes fluent in many new skills, and falls in love with a quirky, free spirited girl that is totally the opposite of him (everybody's favorite Zooey Deschanel).

The best part, though, is his geeky boss, Norman (who he calls Norm once, and then in turn becomes "Car" for the rest of the movie. Brilliant) played by Rhys Darby (of Flight of the Conchord fame). What worries me is that he is essentially playing the same character, except maybe a bit more polished, and slightly cleverer. Actors got to make their way somehow, though, and he is a fantastically funny actor. My favorite scene: Norman hosts a "dress like your favorite Harry Potter character" party. Oh my god, I want to go to one! I can't really describe WHY it's so funny, but it is. I would see that whole movie again just for Rhys Darby. Or I suppose I could watch Flight of the Conchords, which is actually excellent.

I don't even know why this film needs a review. You already know how you're going to like it before you step foot into the theater.

Grade: C

Review: Doubt (2008)

Doubt is a story of moral ambiguity, incorporating aspects of christianity and philosophy... It makes you think. I like that.

Doubt is a quiet film. It's set simply in the 60's, in a Catholic church/school. We see the workings of the school, how they are trying to reform their image slowly but surely, and one who firmly holds onto tradition and 'decency'. Meryl Streep, in another great role. Some may think she's "trying too hard", but I say, on the contrary, it's an effortless performance. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays her nemesis, the priest who has (maybe??) committed wrong doings, of the altar boy persuasion.

Amy Adams, who, while not cast in the typical flighty role (which she DOES do extraordinarily well), is still marked as the quiet, young, and naïve nun, who is smack dab in the middle of the clash of Streep's heavy-hitting Sister Aloysius and Hoffman's Father Flynn. Even though Adams is playing a serious role, though, she still sounds about 12 years old. But, that works; she has a simple heart, and trusts in what she believes--contradictory to the theme of the entire movie (you guessed it, "doubt").

This, aside from a few excellent dutch angles, which I couldn't get enough of, is ordinary enough, but it's truly an actor's movie. I think those who are in it, bring it.

Grade: B

Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: A Christmas Tale (2008)

Just in time for Christmas, a film about a dysfunctional family. That's what Christmas movies are, aren't they?

This is another one of those families though, where the two elderly parents adore each other still after all these years, live in a fantastic house, live a life of immense culture and happiness. They have children who are all vastly different in their qualities, and they, in turn, have beautiful children. They all come together for Christmas because the mother is dying.

In this case, the mother, Junon, is legendary french actress Catherine Deneuve. She needs a bone marrow transplant, and the only one who can save her is her estranged son Henri (Mathieu Almaric). Henri has been banished by his eldest sister Elizabeth (Anne Consigny), for reasons we don't know and never find out. Apparently nobody else in the family knows either why Henri was forced to keep his distance for 5 years. At first, he seems perfectly likable, and I don't see why his family is supposed to have hated him. Junon professes to not care for him, a sentiment which he happily returns. He transpires to be rude and abrasive, but overall it seems very forced. It's like there was a scramble for him to look unfavorable, so they wrote him some crude dialogue. However, there were one or two scenes where I could see his unruliness, and that's when he was talking to Elizabeth's son, Paul. Paul is mentally unstable, and incidentally, a match for Junon's marrow type. He sees this as a means to bond with his uncle, but it turns out very quickly that Henri is neither interested, or very good at playing the "fun uncle".

Eventually, he seems to have a change of heart. Whatever happens to him, it's not exactly clear, but he becomes genial with his mother, and seems hell-bent on saving her life by doing an organ transplant. And they don't like each other? Perhaps Deneuve and Almaric have too much chemistry, because I couldn't see their supposed dislike for each other. That, and when Henri brings his new girlfriend to the house, all they can ask her is how she puts up with him. First, how insulting, and second, I bet I could put up with him; he doesn't seem bad at all.

The youngest son, Ivan, is the most "perfect" of the three (Elizabeth is a whiny and morose downer the entire film) with a likable wife, and two young, talented sons. However since he's the most grounded, he invariably will attract some difficulties. His wife struggles with newfound information and events transpire that might seem odd and rather unorthodox to our American standards. It was strange, I'll say that.

The acting was good, but for what they were trying to convey, it wasn't happening.

The filmmaking is smart; it employs several different styles and techniques, plays with filters, and narration styles. The location is the small picturesque town of Roubaix, on the edge of northern France. It's pretty, and makes for pretty filmmaking. It clocks in at around 2:30 but it didn't feel long. I found it quick-paced, aesthetically, pleasing; all around an engaging film. In retrospect, it's just another dysfunctional family film, but its quirks are smarter and slightly bolder in its ambiguity.

A worthwhile Christmas film.

Grade: B+

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Marathon-Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Extended Cut)

Why today? It's significant because it's 5 years exactly since Return of the King opened in theaters. And I was there. It's special to me.
Rules? Watch all the way through to the end of the credits.

8:00 AM: Second attempt at waking up with 7:00 AM wake-up call didn't go as planned. I tried. I really tried.
8:14 AM: Waiting for oven to heat up to make cinnamon rolls.
8:20 AM: I put FOTR into the dvd player and wait for the cinnamon rolls to bake. It's almost time.
8:35 AM: Breakfast is ready, time to start. Keeping the volume at 5 for now. When roommate wakes up, as will the volume.

8:36 AM: FOTR has officially begun
0:03: Heh. Hugo Weaving is so cool
0:10: "The Fellowship of the Ring"
0:59: Viggo Mortensen. Huzzah.
1:45: The fellowship is formed, the first disc is done. It takes 40 seconds to start the second, and not a moment too soon; I was starting to get sleepy.
2:10: The Tomb of Balin. I'm sick of this scene already because I spent 3 days there in the Two Towers game for PS2
2:28: Legolas' first pained expression makes an appearance
2:47: Legolas' Lembas Commercial. "One small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man!"
3:12: Legolas' second pained expression; Boromir is slain. The fellowship has disbanded.
3:18: "Let's hunt some Orc." Hellll yeah!
3:20: Frodo and Sam start their trek into uncertainty; credits commence.
3:26: "Special Thanks to the Official Lord of the Rings fan club. It's already been a minute of a lot of names.. We're only on the B's. It could take a while longer.
3:46: The Credits have ended! The Fellowship of the Ring is over. 2 more installments to go.

12:26 PM: The Two Towers is in, and it beigins....Now.
0:02: "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" Again!
0:04: "The Two Towers"
0:16: Pippin drops the leaf from his cloak.
0:18: Aragorn finds leaf from Pippin's cloak
0:23: Enter Eomer!
0:31: "A red sun rises.... Blood has been spilled this night." Legolas is useless
0:36: Uruk-Hai on a stick
0:51: "This forest is old.... Very old.... Full of memory.........and anger."
0:53: Gandalf returns, Legolas indulges us with another pained expression.
0:58: Time to break for lunch. Hopefully shouldn't take longer than 20 minutes.
1:40 PM: Back! Movie resumes
1:13: Glorious Edoras
1:25: That pretty, pretty funeral scene
1:45: Enter Faramir!!
1:46: End of 3rd disc
2:01: Aragorn tumbles off the cliff; Another pained expression from Legolas ensues
2:12: This is the last time we have to see Arwen until the third movie, thank GOD.
2:33: Aragorn makes his grand re-appearance in Helm's Deep. YES.
2:40: Aragorn and Legolas have their first fight. Pained expressions all around.
2:43: Aragorn makes love to his armor. He likes it rough. Legolas apologizes. Smiles all around.
2:47: Soldiers are on the wall, tensions rise, the armies of Isengard approach, rain is falling, and Gimli, as always, provides some much needed comic relief.
2:52: The Wilhelm Scream makes its obligatory appearance
2:58: Legolas snowboards down some stairs. Badass, aye he be.
3:01: Theoden gets his hands dirty for 2 seconds and is already injured. How convenient for the king....
3:04: Oh my god I love this movie
3:09: "Last March of the Ents." I have goosebumps. It's ever such a powerful scene.
3:15: Gandalf returns.. Again. This time with ass-kicking horsemen. Sir Ian has a wicked Battle-Cry.
3:20: Frodo pulls Sting on Sam. We always knew it would happen. What with his mollycoddling. "Don't you know your Sam?" Oh, shut up, Sam. Now he's going to tell a story, wise beyond his years, set to montage.
3:33: Smeagol is losing his mind. Slowly. To himself. The sad and creepy music starts, one fleeting look at the impending doom, and... Credits. They will be Long, long long.
4:32 PM: The sun is setting, and nope, these credits are still not over.
3:54: Credits are done. OVER!

4:42 PM: Here it is, the final chapter... The end of all things, or whatever they say. Let it begin... I love this soundtrack
0:09: "The Return of the King"
0:10:Nothing could interest me less in this movie than Frodo and Sam's perilous journey to Mordor. Gimme the rest of the fellowship.
1:05: The Beacon lighting scene... I think it goes highly understated. It's powerful stuff. Anything that brings it back to Aragorn...
1:12: The Wilhelm scream makes its second appearance!
1:16: I maintain that I'm a lesser fan of this cut, but it does offer more scenes with Faramir, which apparently were unimportant for theaters. Which is probably true, given what little is them. However, I love the character Faramir, and David Wenham is perfect. So... 1 point for the Extended Edition.
1:44: The sad thing about Eowyn, despite how awesome she is, is that everybody always feels sorry for her. Aragorn shoots her down but says "I wished you joy from the moment I first saw you". That really means "I pitied you from the moment I first saw you." It's the same in the book, too. I suppose it doesn't help that she's always kinda whining about how smothered she is by her womanhood.
2:01: 5th disc is ended in the middle of the Battle of Pelennor Fields...
2:02: 6th and final disc has started. I've hit the final stretch.
2:05: It's so amazing that that Lembas bread fell all in the same place and perfectly in its wrappings
2:16: It's amazing how a giant spider can be so stealthy
2:28: "The Ride of the Rohirrim". I've never been so moved by this scene. I've got sweaty palms, goosebumps all over, and my jaw hanging open. Ah, Rohan. How fine and noble. Fuck, Eomer is cool.
2:42: Aragorn shows up with his posse aka ghost army. Holy crap. Aragorn is hot, yeah?
2:45: Wilhelm Scream #3
2:47: Theoden: Dead. He was good and valiant, but he had a baditude.
2:50: Ah, the house of healing. These few chapters in the book are my very favorite. I'm glad that they make an appearance in the movie.. I would've liked a bit more from it, though. I suppose I should be happy just to get what's there.
2:58: Sam and Frodo enter Mordor. Yay. I already want to watch this whole trilogy again.
3:00: "A Diversion". Yes! YES!
3:12: The Mouth of Sauron. A very cool creative addition. Creepy.
3:13: Legolas' 5th? Pained expression. He thinks Frodo is dead. Sad day.
3:25: Frodo is struggling... He doesn't know if she should part with the precious. At first he doesn't. He puts it on and has this weird look on his face, like he's just messing with Sam. Then he puts it on. Also, his lips look chapped.
3:27: Legolas' 6th. Aragorn is in great peril, and he cannot get to him.
3:28: Oh my god. Are you watching this? The Ring is finally destroyed!
3:34: Ending number one. The ring is destroyed, Frodo and Sam are napping on a rock. Gandalf uses his eagle friends to take them to a hotel.
3:36: I love this part where Frodo is in bed and being bombarded one by one by everybody, and he says their name, like it's a sitcom or something. But he doesn't say Legolas' name. Hmmm..
3:37: Second ending. Now the coronation scene. Behold its glorious splendor.
3:38: Aragorn is now king. I prefer him dirty, though. You know, all ragged and hair matted to his face, which is sweaty and grimy... His clothes torn. None of this clean as a whistle crap.
3:39: Here's Legolas, looking like an absolute princess. No more pained expressions from him.
3:40: And there's Arwen. Hot reunion. Even though she looks frumpy. And Elrond is crying tears of joy. Weird considering the entire trilogy he was so down on it all.
3:41: "My Friends. You bow to no one." Powerful stuff from a king. And oh, what a king. And that's the last we see of them. And it makes me sad. I wouldn't want to leave the fellowship. Would you?
3:43: Ah, back in the shire. It seems like ages ago I was watching them in the shire... Before the big journey. Well, it WAS 12 hours ago.
3:44: Sam gets married. Frodo will never be content again. Ouch. "How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand, there is no going back". Gosh that's just depressing. Poor Frodo. He was once so care-free...
3:48: Here we are.. It's almost over. Everybody's splitting up. I don't like it. Why can't things just stay the way they are?
3:55: "Well, I'm back," he said.
3:56: Credits
4:02: I can't believe I just sang along to that whole Annie Lennox song. I don't even like it.
4:18: The End
9:10 PM

I'm on such a LOTR buzz right now. I have to watch some DVD extras or something. I'm going to do this every year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Listmania: Edgar Wright's Top 29 films 2008

Edgar wright has posted his tentative list over at his myspace blog today. Let's see what he says...
Edgar’s Top 29 Films 2008
Yes, there's only 29 films as the year ain't over yet and I still intend to see the following.
THE WRESTLER - next Tuesday.
Still may see AUSTRALIA and CHE. And more.
But here's my pretty solid end of the year list.
Will update on December 31st!

10 - WALL-E
16 - REC
18 - JCVD
20 - RAMBO
26 - MILK
27 - W.

Review: WALL-E (2008)

I'm doing catch up right now, and to general shock and awe, I had not yet seen WALL-E. This review will be short and of low substance, because it pretty much is as good as they say; it is full of heart and visual splendor.

We must never underestimate the power of children's films. The first half is damn near flawless. I really believe it is one of the year's best, as it has rightly been referred to since its release. I wish I had seen it sooner.

Good 2001 refs.

Grade: A


Thursday, December 11, 2008

2009 Golden Globe Nominations

Award season soldiers on, as the 2009 Golden Globes nominations were announced. These awards don't mean a whole lot to me, but I was interested to see The Dark Knight getting one nomination, and Tropic Thunder get two. I haven't seen 3 of the best drama noms so it'll be hard for me to comment on that, but I'll say I'm surprised to see Doubt left out. Also, I'm quite pleased to see In Bruges make the comedy shortlist; I thought for sure people had forgotten about it by now.

Best Motion Picture (Drama)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Revolutionary Road
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy

Burn After Reading
In Bruges
Mamma Mia
Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Full list HERE.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Listmania: Roger Ebert's best of 2008

Possibly the most respected and trusted movie critics alive has released his best-of list for 2008. They're not in order, which is a shame, but you can read his full blurbs HERE. (in bold are the ones I've seen.. Unfortunately there are a few on there that have yet to be released where I live)
The Band's Visit
Chop Shop
The Dark Knight
The Fall
Frozen River
Iron Man
Rachel Getting Married

The Reader
Revolutionary Road
Shotgun Stories
Slumdog Millionaire
Synecdoche, New York


Wow. W.? Really? And no Benjamin Button. Well, I suppose with stunning trailers and hype sky-high, there has to be a certain amount of backlash.

DVD: The Dark Knight Exclusives


Why aren't they advertised more ahead of time? I mean, I'm glad I didn't go ahead and pre-order this time around , but I have to say, I'm baffled by this trend.

For Your Consideration: Kirk Lazarus for Best Supporting Actor

This is both real and fake. Obviously Kirk Lazarus can't be nominated for an Oscar--he isn't real. Plus, hasn't he won FIVE already? Give someone else a shot.
No, this is Dreamworks' clever campaign to get Robert Downey Jr. an Oscar Nod for his role in Tropic Thunder. He's hands down the best part of that movie, and though he won't win (fingers crossed for Heath Ledger) but I think it would be awesome if two summer blockbusters got acting nominations--in the same category. You usually see them get nominated for Sound awards at best (See: The Bourne Ultimatum, which took home 3 of those last year). Says something about the movies this summer, which I think have been the gems of the entire year. Sad, but true.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Review: My Name is Bruce (2007)

If you don't have any idea who Bruce Campbell is, 1.) I'm very sorry and 2.) this movie really isn't for you.

It's constructed mostly of inside jokes and I suppose a few non-inside ones (which don't add anything spectacular) surrounding Bruce Campbell's life as a B-list cult icon.

Also directed by Campbell, it's a highly parodical look into his life. He's rude, chauvinistic, and in general, an asshole. But, you can't help but like him (it helps that he was present at the screening I attended). The film has a few major flaws, such as the script, which you can tell is lacking some depth. It's nearly 90 minutes, but it still felt a bit long. I thought the ending was cheap and contrived. Most of the jokes needed a little extra something, but all in all, it was enjoyable enough, and I love the Evil Dead trilogy, so that was a big factor.

I think I was the most excited whenever Ted Raimi was onscreen (I'm not sure why. Maybe because he rules). He's just a silly guy and actually a good actor. It's a shame he only scrapes by with cameos in his brother's films.

All in all, I'd say Bruce's self-deprecating portrait is decent, as he's surely no Sam Raimi. I think I'll go watch Evil Dead 2...

Grade: C

Friday, December 05, 2008

For Your Consideration: The Dark Knight

Warner Brothers has been working fervently to campaign for The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger for Oscar Nominations. This poster=probably the coolest thing ever.

Fun Stuff: The Lord of the Rings Drinking Game

This=Hilarious. I hope to try it out someday.

And one for all three films

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Video: Prop. 8: The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

This has basically been posted everywhere, but it is hilarious. And how on earth did they get all those people?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Trailers: Che (2008)


Review: The Fall (2008)

This title is listed as 2006 on its IMDB page, but it was officially released in the states in 2008. And it's still 2008! Yay.

I pity anyone who jumped on the Across the Universe wagon last year, citing it as "breathtaking", "bold", or my favorite; "visually stunning". It was none of those things. The Fall is ALL of those things and more.

It's luscious and vibrant. The colors aren't overly-saturated, but just enough so that you can't look away. Not to mention a gorgeous black and white opening credits sequence. It may be the most aesthetically pleasing film I've ever seen.

The story is there, too. A young man (Lee Pace) and a young girl (Catinca Untaru) bond over a fantastical other-worldly adventure. It reminds me somewhat of Alfonso Cuarón's A Little Princess, one of my favorite films when I was young. You're mesmerized until you're just staring blankly at the screen. Eventually the story turns very dark, and I suppose it was all along, and we see our main characters in a most vulnerable light; completely exposed.

Lee Pace is beautiful and amazing and one day I will marry him. For now, though, I will watch him go unrecognized in the now cancelled Pushing Daisies. Catinca Untaru is incredible for being so young. She's silly, endearing, honest, sympathetic, and genuine. Her emotions are very sincere. You love her from the moment you see her. Who couldn't?

Grade: A


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

2009 Spirit Award Nominations

Award Season is underway; the nominations for the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards were announced today. The Spirit Awards will take place on the eve of Oscar Night (February 22). It's televised on IFC... Which means.. I won't be watching it.

Best Feature
Producers: Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh
"Frozen River"
Producers: Chip Hourihan, Heather Rae
"Rachel Getting Married"
Producers: Neda Armian, Jonathan Demme, Marc Platt
"Wendy and Lucy"
Producers: Larry Fessenden, Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani
"The Wrestler"
Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin

See the full list here.

My mom has this thing where she has to see every film nominated for a major category at the Oscars. I may have to go one up on her and try and see all the films nominated for Spirit Awards. They should be some good ones. Tally-ho.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Review: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

In Danny Boyle's latest film, he visits India to show us the hard-knock life of Jamal Malik, a "slumdog", who grew up to be a famous by winning "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". The only problem is, nobody believes he actually knew all the answers, so they interrogate him. What we get is an entertaining look through Jamal's life, complete with the little details as to how he knew the answer to the questions.

I think anyone can relate to that; whenever I know some random piece of information, someone will ask how I know that, and it's simple, this one time I was in this place and this thing happened and that's how I know. Jamal's story is a slightly more unique, though. He went through many hardships before he had even hit puberty. He spent time in tourist hot-spots conning people for money and stealing their shoes. He eventually got a job as an assistant, delivering coffee to people in one of those telemarketing agencies.

Then, he's on the show. But the only reason he is is not to make money, but to see if his long lost childhood soul mate is watching. I've been tricked into watching a love story.

Boyle's directing is decidedly un-tidy. There is a high-paced energy throughout the whole film--except when Jamal is on the hot seat, playing for millions. We see the history of Jamal and Salim (his brother with slightly higher ambitions) and Latika, their childhood companion from the slums; their "third musketeer". We see his heart breaking quest to find them both through his long journey, and he does it always with humility and a Bollywood ending.

I liked this movie a lot. I was always excited whenever Jamal would embark on another story telling. We see that he's not a genius, he's just a normal kid with slightly different life experiences from you or me. I thought his adventures were fun, and because the love story is actually the biggest factor in the whole movie, it'd be hard to tone it down. But I'd say that's what I didn't like so much about it.

The movie is generating a lot of buzz; just last night it won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Newcomer at the British Independent Film awards. It's on the short list for Best Picture at the Oscars. I guess it's supposed to be "this year's Juno or Little Miss Sunshine", but it fits more the underdog category than any of them do.

Grade: B

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I love this guy: Daniel Craig

I don't remember the first thing I saw Daniel Craig in. It might've been Munich, where he sort of clung to the shadows, or Sylvia, in which he played the husband of troubled poet Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes (to be fair, also a poet). At least some time after that I saw him in Layer Cake as a drug trafficker (This movie is NOT directed by Guy Ritchie, for the record). Last year he was in two films; The Golden Compass, and The Invasion, which I've heard is horrible, but I kinda want to see it.

Then, just recently, I witness him in Enduring Love (made in between Sylvia and Layer Cake), as a man who has an above average, happy life, which is ruined by a creepy stalker (Rhys Ifans). The movie is disturbingly beautiful, and Daniel Craig is amazing in it. It was here where I said to myself: "Daniel Craig is so understated as an actor."

Oh but wait, he's doing the whole Bond thing right now. Besides that, for a while it seemed like nobody really knew him, but he was getting all these good parts (again, in movies that weren't really getting out there). Of course, now, he's hot stuff, and I can't wait to see him in Defiance (whenever that comes out)... I just hope he continues to make high quality and thoughtful films. Think about it, Daniel Craig.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Review: Milk (2008)

Finally! A movie meets my expectations! It hasn't happened in a while. In fact it almost never happens. Having seen the trailer (involuntarily) maybe 50 times, I thought for sure I was desensitized to the premise (surely it had to be heartbreaking and I wasn't going to feel heartbroken), and I was sure I was going to be disappointed.

I wasn't.

Milk is a fantastic, touching film, telling the story of the eponymous hero Harvey Milk (the breathtaking Sean Penn), and how he succeeded in getting the wheels turning in the gay right movement in America. The first hour spans 8 years of his move to San Francisco with his partner Scott (James Franco), setting up shop, and generating an openly gay community which thrived on love and good vibrations... In this time Milk decides that it's time that there should be one of his own in office. He makes his campaign, and runs 4 times before he is elected as a city supervisor. In that time, we meet his small and trusty band of loyal gays (Joseph Cross, Lucas Grabeel, Brandon Boyce), his eccentric young protegé (Emile Hirsch, in a seriously awesome role), his token lesbian (Alison Pil), and his second, less-exciting lover (Diego Luna).

They are all great.

Perhaps better still, is Josh Brolin, who plays the villainous--yet surprisingly sympathetic--Dan White, a fellow supervisor with bigot ambitions. He is the one who kills Milk. Surprise! Don't worry, I didn't spoil it. Dan White tries his best and follows his conscience, it just takes a road that not many of us normally would. You can't help but feel sorry for him, even if you know what he's going to do.

Sean Penn's performance completes me. I can't say anything more, but he SO steals my heart.

I think there is nothing too extraordinary about Gus Van Sant's directing style. I'd say there were a few bad choices made, but overall, the movie is extremely powerful and moving. The subject matter is heavy and I can't articulate everything I want to about its effect on society (if there will be any), and perhaps the effect it might've had were it released a month ago (for voter's of California's Proposition 8), and how it might do in the Oscar race (Some people might be scared about how pro-gay it is). The film is not all about Milk, it's about the movement--not the monument--the gave gay people their voices. I think we should be proud of this film.

Grade A-

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Trailers: Star Trek (2009)

WHAT? I hadn't already posted this? For fuck's sake..

I'm not a Trek fan in any sense, but I'm pretty pumped for this movie.

Trailers: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button [INTERNATIONAL] (2008)

I told myself I wouldn't watch it. But, wow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

For Your Consideration: Heath Ledger

From /film:
Warner Bros has publicly begun its push with this Variety advertisement for Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Academy Award ballots are mailed on December 26th, polls close on January 12th, and the nominations are announced on January 22nd.

He will have to contend with Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road, Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt, John Malkovich in Changeling, Ralph Fiennes in Duchess, John Malkovich and Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading and Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder. Will the Academy recognize an outstanding performance in a “comic book movie”?

Review: Quantum of Solace (2008)

Upon walking out of the theater with my sister, I said that I thought the movie didn't get interesting until an hour in, she said that she didn't think the movie got interesting until the whole movie.

Behold, truth.

It would be hard to exceed the greatness that was 2006's Casino Royale, but I felt that this film was hardly even worthy to be its sequel.

The first hour is comprised of five different kinds of chases: A car chase, foot chase, boat chase, plane chase, and the chasing of James Bond, who's gone "rogue". None of these succeeded in getting me "jazzed" or wanting more. They are all so tired and pumped on steroids that I am moved to tears by the lack of style. The plot to me was convoluted and unclear, and apart from a very small number of minute-long sequences I thought were cool, the first hour was useless.

At the end, I felt unfulfilled. It was really just getting going, seriously. It probably could've had another hour of decent stuff. Instead, the tacked-on ending seems cheap and open-ended.

Bad stuff aside, I will give the last 45 minutes credit as being exciting enough for me to be disappointed when it was over. Mathieu Almaric fits the mold for the Bond Villain. He's really popular right now, and he's french; which is lucky for this movie. It feels like it was meant to be. Judi Dench is ever the badass as M, Bond's mysterious boss. Daniel Craig is still good, but he doesn't open his mouth enough. Maybe that's just me, but it's annoying.

I really wanted to be pumped up by this movie. But alas, I was not. Better luck next time.

Grade: C-

Review: Christmas on Mars (2008)

Whoa. Ummmm.

I'm not a Flaming Lips fan, really. Nothing against the music, I just never got into them. Yet I went to see their crazy trip of a film Christmas on Mars tonight, and sat in the company of some people I assume have never been to a movie before.

How to describe the movie... It has a plot, I think, but I don't care. It's an instant cult classic, a mash up between Plan 9 from Outerspace, Eraserhead, and The Wizard of Oz on acid. WHOA.

And thank you, Fred Armisen, for making my life better all the time.

A couple of times I wanted to leave, just because I felt I had already attained the vibe well enough. But I stayed! And it turned out to be fine because the movie is like 70 minutes long. It is deliciously low budget; there is essence of styrofoam and egg cartons everywhere on set. The directing (by Lips front man Wayne Coyne) is bold and interesting. It's a great throwback to 50's B movie sci-fi classics. Film fans would do well not to miss this.

I don't care who you are, what your story is, who you like, who you don't like, how tired you are, just see this movie.

And thank you, Adam Goldberg, for making my life better all the time.

Grade: This movie transcends grading

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Review: Changeling (2008)

Changeling is about a mother who loses her son and the never-ending quest she embarks upon to find him.

But what it's really about is a 1928 Los Angeles and its corrupt police force and the lengths some people will go to bring them to justice.

Angelina Jolie is Christine Collins in this tale, and delivers a heartbreaking performance. Seriously, she is good. At first all is well with her and her little son Walter, until she returns home from work one night to find him missing. She notifies the police and does whatever she can to carry on her life while fervently pursuing the search for her child. At first, the film is sad and poignant. One woman's quiet struggle to find the one thing most dear to her is touching and captivating.

When she is notified one day at work by the captain of the police force that her son has been found, it's the most beautiful and raw moment of the film. And this is also where it starts to become undone. She is confronted with a boy who is spectacularly not her son. She insists, but is jerked around by the LAPD into admitting in front of the press that it IS indeed her son. She smiles for the camera. This is where the story of a mother looking for her lost child ends and the other story begins.

John Malkovich is criminally under-utilized. He plays the soldiering Pastor of a local church, who will stop at nothing to bring down the law. Along the way we meet more police officers, more kids, more wronged women, and are still met with no results.

This movie reminded me a lot of Zodiac. It constantly introduces new characters, new storylines, and new information which makes it all very hard to keep track of. Okay, so this film is a little easier to keep track of, but the ending is just as open-ended.

Director Clint Eastwood does alright here. He gets the period down, he gets the music down, he gets the performances down. However his story is too convoluted; there are actually 2 major storylines at one point in the movie, when there should only be one.

Grade: B-

Trailers: Adventureland (2009)

Oh, it's just Superbad set in an amusement park with a different version of Michael Cera. Whatever, it looks good.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Trailers: The Wrestler (2008)

Moment of Silence

For Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which should've come out today, but didn't, because someone fucked up.

Review: Twilight (2008)

Ah, sweet relief! My first movie in TWO WEEKS.

And yes, it is Twilight. And yes, I DID go see the 10 AM showing this morning despite getting over an illness. And no, I'm not a fan of the book, and have not been waiting on edge for this movie since I first heard about it.

I know nothing of the books. I know they were written by a mormon chick and involve a hot vampire named Edward and a girl with a name only a fantasy writer would use practically (Bella).

What works:
-This is a fantasy story. Every girl under the age of 20 will DEFINITELY love this. It's got a hot romance, lots of pretty people, damsels in distress, friendly gorgeous vampires, and a prom. This is a Dracula for our generation.
-The aesthetic tone of the movie is nice. At least to me. It's what I was drawn to in the first place. The film is shot in the beautiful pacific northwest, and it's constantly cloudy. The costumes are mostly neutral colors, and all the vampires' skin is chalky.
-The best character of the story is Charlie (Billy Burke), Bella's police cop daddy, who is unassuming, likable, and intentionally funny.

Robert Pattinson (who is omg gorgeous) and Kristen Stewart's acting styles complement each other; they're both wooden, completely unemotional, and incredibly irritating. Like nails on the chalk board irritating. I found myself getting restless and frustrated just listening to "Bella" speak. It's like, get it over with already.

I haven't seen any of Catherine Hardwicke's other directorial endeavors, so I can't make any comparisons. But I will say that while this movie was not poorly directed, it was also most emphatically not well directed. I appreciate that a fantasy movie should be stylized, but it all seems rather amateurish to me.

There are possibly too many cringe-worthy moments for this movie to be considered good. I suppose, though, the story is there, and it's mostly exciting. I just can't get over the awkwardness of Edward and Bella (i.e. Pattinson and Stewart)... Eh, go see it for shits and giggles. It'll at least satisfy us fangirls until Harry Potter deems us worthy of its audience.

Grade: C+ (the + is for the unexpected yet not un-welcomed decision to have Radiohead play over the end credits)

Current Total: 65

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Trailers: Watchmen (2009) FULL OFFICIAL TRAILER!


Random News: "Paul" details released!

From /film:

Want some more details about Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s next comedy? Paul will follow the two British geeks, who after visiting Comic-Con, go on a road trip to Area 51 where they encounter a small alien named Paul, who enlists them to help him find his way home. Written by Pegg and Frost, and directed by Greg Mottola (Adventureland, Superbad).

To recap: A sci-fi road trip comedy, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Greg Mottola, an Alien, Comic Con, Area 51?! I don’t know about you guys, but I think this sounds like a winner. Filmmaker Edgar Wright is busy on Scott Pilgrim, which explains why he’s not involved as a director. Mottola is a self professed fan of Nick and Simon’s films so far, and loved the concept. Wright will executive produce. Paul will start shooting in March 2009.

Video: The Kevin Bacon Movie Club!

See more Kevin Bacon videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I love this guy: Josh Brolin

Hopefully this will be a new segment that I can keep going, because I love sooo many people.

Josh Brolin is one of the coolest actors working right now and probably most in-demand. At the end of 2007, he was my favorite actor of the year, along with Ben Foster. I mean, how could he not be? Check out the resume, and the excellent facial hair:

Robert Rodriguez's GRINDHOUSE segment: Planet Terror. Plays a bad guy but honestly I can't see a bad thing about him. If I was Marley Shelton would I rather be getting off with Fergie or Josh Brolin? Fucking Josh Brolin, that's who.

In the unfortunate and anti-climactic Ridley Scott picture American Gangster, Brolin plays a corrupt cop with a killer 'stache. The anti-Russell Crowe, if you will. His performance and presence in the movie is so subtle. If that movie had come out this year, he would've probably gotten third billing. Nevertheless, it took me a very long time to even notice him, but that's not his fault. it's the fucking movie's fault.

The stunning Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men from the Coen brothers. His performance is so fabulous and low key. I love his interactions with Kelly MacDonald, and pretty much with everyone else. Too bad he had to die.

And also too bad he's married to Diane Lane, who has one of the worst hollywood careers right now.

Josh, you can do so much better.

He was of course dead on with his portrayal of George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's decent biopic W. And I can't wait to see him play antagonist to Sean Penn's Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant's Milk, coming out later this month. Can Josh Brolin do no wrong? As far as I can see, I'd say yes.

Trailers: Australia (2008)

I've been anticipating this for a while. Looks like a good old fashioned love story.

Random News: Baz Luhrmann is being owned by Fox

From /film:

The Guardian is reporting that director Baz Luhrmann agreed, after “intense discussions”, to rewrite the final scenes of the Nicole Kidman/Hugh Jackman romantic adventure epic Australia. Apparently studio executives wanted the film to end on a more positive note (We’re not going to discuss the spoiler in question here). Apparently negative feedback from early test screenings prompted the studio’s concerns over the film finale.

I’m told that Luhrmann has final cut on this film, and that Fox could not have forced Luhrmann to change the ending even if they wanted to. That said, there is a lot of other stuff a studio can threaten to do that could have forced Luhrmann’s hand (not to say Fox did such things…).

It’s impossible to make an opinion based on pure hearsay, and I doubt we’ll ever get the real story behind the changes. Some will blame Fox for stepping in and “ruining Baz’s artistic vision” while others may agree that Baz made the right choice in agreeing to the changes. Either way, I’m sure the alternative ending will be available on DVD.

Man, that sucks. Can't do the film's ending the way you want it to? On the other hand, it doesn't sound like the studio doesn't have any real power over Luhrmann, so why does he have to bend?

Interviews: Zack Snyder

Zack Snyder is a director who doesn't fit the stereotype. A gentle voice, buff figure and laid back attitude hardly seems suited to the man behind the zombie-fueled fun of "Dawn of the Dead" or the movie that took leather codpieces and rippled abs out of the S&M club scene and into many an alpha male's heart - "300".

Continue Reading...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Video: A Capella tribute to John Williams

Am I a huge geek for not wanting it to end?

p.s. I really hate all those stupid shirts this guy is wearing.

Rant: Simon Pegg hates fast zombies

From The Guardian:

As an avid horror fan, I found the prospect of last week's five-night TV zombie spectacular rather exciting. Admittedly, the trailer for E4's Dead Set made me somewhat uneasy. The sight of newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy warning the populace of an impending zombie apocalypse induced a sickening sense of indignation. Only five years previously, Edgar Wright and I had hired Krishnan to do the very same thing in our own zombie opus, Shaun of the Dead. It was a bit like seeing an ex-lover walking down the street pushing a pram. Of course, this was a knee-jerk reaction. It's not as if Edgar and I hadn't already pushed someone else's baby up the cultural high street - but that, to some extent, was the point. In Shaun of the Dead, we lifted the mythology established by George A Romero in his 1968 film Night of the Living Dead and offset it against the conventions of a romantic comedy.

Read on...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Review: Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Charlie Kaufman makes his directorial debut with a film he also wrote (natch), starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, and way too many other famous actresses to name.

The movie is very surrealistic and odd; the notion of a timeline is irrelevant. It's hard to know what is real, and what is in the mind, but after a while, I start to not care anymore.

I appreciate the production value, and the film is well made and ambitious. However, it's overly complicated. So many characters flee in and out of the picture, it's unclear who is important and who is not. There are too many things unexplained and left frustratingly ambiguous.

The problem here is not Kaufman's directing, but his writing (surprise!). I desperately wanted to feel for the characters, and hurt when they hurt, but there's nothing there, and where his last script (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) triumphs, this one fails.

I think that this film is good; it is well made and well performed, and the script does sail mostly on positive waters, but just because it's good, doesn't mean I have to like it. See for yourself.

Grade: C

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Review: RocknRolla (2008)

Guy Ritchie does one thing and does it well: The British Gangster flick. The setup is the same as we've seen it in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Snatch. Several storylines overlapping without the characters knowing they're connected, usually involving drug dealers, junkies, mob bosses, etc... Even though I've seen it before, twice, there's still no reason not to like it.

The characters are cheeky and clever, the dialogue is fast and witty, and the film work is sensational. Say what you will about Guy Ritchie's ability to tell stories, the man knows how to make films.

Even though the film is thoroughly enjoyable, it is, however, forgettable. It has its moments of the classic Guy Ritchie wit, but if you skip it, you're not missing out on much. You'd do better to sit back with Lock Stock and Snatch for now, and save this one for Netflix.

Grade: B-

Review: W. (2008)

My awesome sister wrote this, and she's better at writing reviews than I am: (And I agree %100 with what she says)

Stated simply, it’s hard to figure out what this movie is. Is it a comedic slam of George W. Bush, or is it a sincere chronicle of his life ? I’ll tell you, after 2 hours, I’m still not sure.

Let me break it down for you. The way Oliver Stone made this movie evokes two very different interpretations: He either sought to paint W. as a divine tragedy (cue scenes with soft piano over hard times in Bush‘s life), or a great mockery, bringing some classic “Bushisms” back into the picture. But one can never really be sure what gets accomplished here.

On one hand, the scenes of Bush’s young life are done quite well. Josh Brolin steps into the Commander in Chief’s shoes with ease. Brolin’s portrayal of the early, rowdy, alcoholic Bush, who holds a slew of odd jobs, courts trashy women, and is heading down the "wasting your life" type of path, are ironically serious, boasting the possibility that if you just polish this up enough, this might have Oscar written all over it.

On the other hand, scenes of the later years, showing Bush in office, make him look, for lack of a better word: Stupid. There’s no other way to describe the movie at these points. The script is really hammed up with silly “Bushisms,” and they make him seem trivial, and completely overpowered by Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss).

But what does W. ultimately become? A hodge podge of Bush here in ‘77, and then Bush there in ‘02, and then in ’86, and in ’04, and ’02 all over again. Back and forth, and back and forth, and you get the picture. There are so many good ideas here that are undeveloped, and are completely not cohesive, that you kind of wonder why not just put this one back in the oven? And maybe just make the whole thing in chronological order. Clearly this could be a great movie, but not now.

Which brings up another question: Why now? Why produce this movie at the very end of Bush’s presidency? Is it to remind people that he’s still president? Could be. I for one, keep forgetting that he exists amidst this heated political season. Or could it be that Oliver Stone just really wanted to make a movie about Bush, and refused to wait? Or maybe, we’re supposed to enjoy it more because it’s so recent. Whatever the reason was, this is just does not seem like the time.

At the end of the day, Josh Brolin is W.’s only ace. The rest of the movie is so-so. Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush meets expectations, and James Cromwell and Ellen Burstyn as Mama and Papa Bush, are pretty good. However, W. may have relied too much on big names to fill small roles: Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice, Ioan Gruffudd as Tony Blair, Noah Wyle as Don Evans, and I’m still not really sure who Colin Hanks is supposed to be playing. Still more evidence of a diamond in the rough.

My advice to you is to not see this movie if you sincerely love George W. Bush. Conversely, if you hate him, be forewarned that you might find yourself respecting him at times. It’s an extremely slippery slope, but regardless, it’s an interesting movie, even if it’s a few cards short of a deck. It’s probably a good idea to put this one on your radar. If nothing else, you’ll get some laughs.

Grade: B-
Her Blog

Review: Let the Right One In (2008)

Somewhere, in a remote corner of Sweden where IKEA doesn't exist, there is a small town with an unnatural, horrific problem.

This film, from director Tomas Alfredson, tells the story of two young outsiders, Oskar and Eli, who find each other and become friends. The only thing is, she's a vampire. She lives with her father in a apartment where the windows have been covered and he goes out at night to harvest blood. Ew.

Cinematically, this film is gorgeous. There are lots of pretty shots that illustrate the cold and isolated feeling of the area.

Unlike other Vampire films that I've seen (which, I'll admit, are not many), this really focuses more on the relationship between Oskar and Eli. They live next door to each other and communicate with Morse code. We see these two in many aspects of their every day life. Notably Oskar being picked on at school, spending time with his father and mother separately. We see Eli at night only, and how she obtains her feast.

If you're looking for a movie to scare you, this won't quite do the trick. There are a few frightening moments, but it's more about the relationships. A very stunning movie. A must see.

Grade: A

Monday, November 03, 2008

Random News: Joaquin Phoenix is done for reals.

From Yahoo:

LOS ANGELES – The writing on Joaquin Phoenix's fists said it all.

The words "Good Bye" were penned on the actor's knuckles at a premiere Saturday night for his latest film, "Two Lovers," and Phoenix confirmed a surprise announcement he made last week: He's giving up movies.

"I think it's just moving on. It's rediscovering something else," said Phoenix, 34, said in an interview with Associated Press Television News before Saturday's American Film Institute festival, which also premiered "Che," starring Benicio Del Toro.

"Two Lovers" is his last film, he said. His publicist had disclosed Friday that the actor intended to focus on music.
Phoenix first mentioned his decision to "Extra" early last week at a fundraiser in San Francisco. He abruptly ended that interview after the reporter wondered whether he was joking about giving up acting for music.

Phoenix learned to play guitar and did his own singing to play country legend Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line," which earned him an Academy Award nomination. His publicist also said Phoenix has been directing music videos in recent years.

"It's like greener pastures, you know what I mean?" Phoenix said Saturday. "And so, I'm just going to try and like, I'll just be doing the other thing. ... Hopefully, I will emotionally impact you with that, as well."

Trailers: The Reader (2008)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Random Notes: Kevin Smith on Judd Apatow

"I'm thankful for that guy. Nevermind the fact that he brought us Seth Rogen, which I'm really thankful for, but he did shatter that glass ceiling and made my job much easier in terms of, like, trying to get the next one made." -- Kevin Smith on Judd Apatow

Continue HERE.

Random News: Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle sign on for the Avengers

Marvel Entertainment has just announced that Robert Downey Jr and Don Cheadle have signed on for both Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. Iron Man 2 director Jon Favreau will also executive produce The Avengers. As previously reported, Cheadle will be replacing Terrence Howard as Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes.

The announcement also comes with the first look at a plot synopsis tease: ” “In a movie event, The Avengers will bring together the super hero team of Marvel Comics characters for the first time ever, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk and more, as they are forced to band together to battle the biggest foe they’ve ever faced.” Who could that be? With Hulk on the listed team line-up, does that mean that the big green guy is out as a possibility?

Iron Man 2 hits theaters on May 7th 2010, and The Avengers hits theaters on July 15th 2011. Check out the full press release here.