Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Dog Problem (2007) R - 2½ Stars

The movie seems to have many mixed reviews online with some viewers getting more out of it than I did. Labeled a comedy, it's hard for me to call it that because other than one time I don't remember smiling often. I couldn't even find a credit given for Don Cheadle's role on the rental box or in the final rolling credits. Maybe I just got a bad copy.

I feel the director is trying to bring across the similarities between this odd mix of dysfunctional people stumbling through their lives with people that surround all of our lives daily but for me, I couldn't connect with anyone. The story is of a man who under the advise of his therapist, buys a dog hoping to give his life some purpose.

Solo Harrington (Giovanni Ribisi), is a depressed novelist who can't get in touch with his creative side. Even though he's been successful in the past, he's spent all his lives savings on women, drugs and his expensive psychiatrist, Dr. Nourmand (Don Cheadle). When nothing seems to help Solo break out of his mood, the doctor suggest he get a dog to help with his lonesomeness. Casper (Scott Caan), Solo's friend, introduces him to a rich girl Jules (Mena Suvari), who Solo tries to convince to take the dog when he suddenly notices he's becoming attached. But with Benny (Kevin Corrigan) is breathing down his back to pay his loan, and the dog gets bit at a dog park needing expensive medical treatment, he meets a feisty stripper named Lola (Lynn Collins), who he tries to convince to take the dog and pay his veterinarian bill. Now he has to sort out his feelings of letting go of the dog?

A Thousand Words
Director: Scott Caan
Writer: Scott Caan
Producers: Jonah Smith, Palmer West
I viewed 3/13

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Return to Paradise (1998) R - 3½ Stars

If your friend was in trouble in another country and the only way you could save their life was by going to jail yourself, would you? This movie asks that question of how far are you willing to go to help a friend. Good plot, makes you feel the pressure of those tiny little voices in the back of your mind that tell you to walk away.

John 'Sheriff' Volgecherev (Vince Vaughn), Lewis McBride (Joaquin Phoenix) and Tony Croft (David Conrad) are on a dream vacation of a lifetime. In the exotic country of Malaysia, the three spend days drinking rum, smoking hashish and having their way with the local women. Eventually it's time to return to their normal lives. John and Tony leave to go back to their corporate lives in New York while Lewis stays behind to devote his life, joining a team to rescue orangutans. As soon as John and Tony leave, Lewis gets arrested with a huge leftover stash of hash, charged with drug trafficking, punishable by death. Lawyer Beth Eastern (Anne Heche) travels to New York in search of John and Tony to convince them to return to Malaysia saving their friend from certain death. If they do return they will definitely spend time in a third world jail.

Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Propaganda Films, Tetragram
Director: Joseph Ruben
Writers: Pierre Joliver, Olivier Schatzky
Producers: David Arnold, Alain Bernheim, Lashan Browning, Steve Golin, Ezra Swerdlow
I viewed 5/15

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I Love Your Work (2004) R - 2½ Stars

I didn't care too much for this movie. I felt it is pretty twisted and the story line is all over the place making you totally clueless as to what the movie is trying to get across. Maybe it's just me but then the movie becomes nothing but predictable.

Gray Evans (Giovanni Ribisi) is a celebrity at the young age of 20 having a slow meltdown. He's married to a beautiful successful actress Mia Lang (Franka Potente). Gary drinks up the attention of the spot light making most think his life should be perfect but Gary's obsessed. He's obsessed thinking he has a fan that is stalking him.

While he is at a video store, he meets a guy named John (Joshua Jackson). John tells Gary he's one of his biggest fans. This makes Gary extremely nervous that his belief is true and that it is John who is the one that has been stalking him. Gary decides to turn the tables and starts to follow John to keep tabs on him. When he returns to the video store he meets John's wife, Jane (Marisa Coughlan). The two seem to have a perfect caring marriage so Gary feels sort of silly thinking John could have been involved in actually stalking him. But now that he's met Jane, he's driven to stalk her as he'd like to be in her life. Confused? Yeah me too.

Director: Adam Goldberg
Writers: Adam Butchart, Adam Goldberg, Adrian Butchart
Producers: Adrienne Gruben, Terry Spazek, David Hillary
I viewed 5/15

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Six Degrees of Separation (1993) R - 4 Stars

This one gets my recommendation as one of those movies that messes with your mind. Starring Will Smith and Donald Sutherland, Smith is great playing a well educated, con man. The "six-degrees-of-separation paradigm" says that if you find the right string of friends, relatives, colleagues and lovers, you can move in six steps to connect them. Everyone in the world is touched somehow by this 6th person's connection therefore everyone out there somewhere/anywhere is connected to you in 6 steps.

Flan (Donald Sutherland) and Ouisa Kittredge (Stockard Channing) are married, living in Manhattan and art dealers to the higher ups. They are throwing a party one night to sell some art when Paul (Will Smith) knocks on the door. He tells them he is a friend of their children whom he went to school with. Seems he's been mugged and he just needs a place for the night till he can get himself together in the morning.

Paul is extremely proper and elegant in appearance and he offers to help fix dinner for them for payment. He claims to be the son of Sidney Poitier and tells them about his life in the upper class white area of New York. They Kittredge's are mesmerized with this young man who cooks like a chef and tells them magnificent stories. He helps close an art deal that night. Everything is grand until they find Paul in bed with another man in their home and immediately ask him to leave. Once gone, they realize how much he has touched them.

When the couple gets together with some of their friends, they find out that Paul has been conning all of them with his fascinating stories. Paul has touched them all in a way they'll re-evaluate their lives.

MGM Distribution
Director: Fred Schepisi
Writer: John Guare
Producers: Arnon Milchan, Fred Schepisi

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Reef (2010) R - 3½ Stars

The suspense in this movie is pretty good. I could feel my blood pressure raise more than a few times. Based on a true story, the movie offers you a good thrill ride. Though I would have liked to have gotten more acquainted with the characters before they were thrown out to sea, you really begin to feel their fear yelling to yourself, "Swim, you fools swim!"

A brother and sister, plus their significant others, Luke (Damian Walshe-Howling), Kate (Zoe Naylor), Suzie (Adrienne Pickering), Matt (Gyton Grantley) and Warren (Kieran Darcy-Smith) head off to explore Australia's Great Barrier Reef. When the boat tears a hole in the bottom of its haul, it capsizes leaving it's five travelers in the water. Now,the group has to decide if  they stay with the boat hoping to be rescued or put themselves in shark infested waters,  to swim to a shore more than 12 miles away they can't even see?

Lightning Entertainment, Screen Australia, Image Entertainment
Director: Andrew Traucki
Writer: Andrew Traucki
Producers: Andrew Traucki, Michael Robertson
I viewed 7/12

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lakeview Terrace (2008) PG13 - 4 Stars

I like this movie a whole lot more than most other critics out there. For me, I think Samuel L. Jackson is perfect in his character. The macho cop, looking after his kids, but holds a grudge against everyone for the fact he's doing it alone. It's a good high charged movie throwing the proverbial wrench into the gear at every opportunity. The grass isn't always greener at the top of the hill.

Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), is a LAPD officer living with his two children in the upscale neighborhood in Lakeview Terrace. Chris Mattson (Patrick Wilson) and his new wife Lisa (Kerry Washington), have just moved into their dream home, becoming new neighbors with Abel. Abel is not impressed with his new interracial neighbors. Instead shows contempt at any glace thrown his way.

The first night in their new home, the newlyweds are rudely awakened by powerful spot lights, illuminate their bedroom. Abel has a sophisticated light system, surrounding his home, to keep intruders out. But it also makes it impossible for Chris and Lisa to sleep as the light blares in their bedroom window.

Tensions escalate, from both sides of the fence, as Abel's children are exposed to a midnight love making session in the new neighbors pool. It's not long after that, Chris and Lisa start receiving threats from their new neighbor. But no one will be ready when the sparks ignite into flames too hot for any of them to put out.

Overbrook Entertainment, Sony Pictures Releasing
Director: Neil LaBute
Writers: Howard Korder, David Loughery
Producers: James Lassiter, Will Smith
I viewed 2/09

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Air I Breathe (2007) R - 3 Stars

Great all star cast, I was hoping the movie would be over the top but instead falls into the mediocre. The movie splits itself into 4 separate stories, based on an ancient Chinese proverb of four emotional cornerstones of life: happiness, pleasure, sorrow and love. But with all the great acting, the characters don't fall into place properly. While each name star gives a great performance, I didn't feel that powerful connection in the end to Sarah the way the director probably intended. On the same plane as movies like "Crash" and different lives intertwining, it does allow you to get close to the characters, feeling their pain and desperation but it just doesn't come all together properly, instead leaves you depressed and wondering what that point is suppose to be as the time line is so confusing.

When a nerdy businessman, "Happiness"(Forest Whitaker), is in the right place at the right time, he over hears three men talking about a horse that's a shoe in in tomorrows race. Taking his entire life savings, he attends the race putting his life on the line to find out there is no sure thing and now finds crime boss Fingers (Andy Garcia), about to dismember him if he doesn't come up with the money. This once quiet man, now desperate, robs a bank to come up with the cash.

A gangster, "Pleasure"(Brendan Fraser), who works for Fingers, is assigned the task of collecting money along with his nephew Tony, (Emile Hirsch). His assignment is to go after Trista "Sorrow", (Sarah Michelle Gellar) a famous pop singer, who has lost her contract to Fingers without her knowledge. Along the way he has a powerful premonition keeping him from doing his job.

A doctor "Love"(Kevin Bacon), will learn the true meaning of the word as he attempts to save the woman he loves Gina (Julie Delpy), who is dying from serious injuries. But her rare blood type will test his abilities in playing God with the one he loves. Each event seems to have an effect on the other characters to come to a head at the end.

ThinkFilm, Pathe International
Director: Lee Jieho
Writers: Bob DeRosa, Lee Jieho, Jieho Lee
Producers: Darlene Caamano Loquet, Paul Schiff, Emilio Diez Barroso
I viewed 4/09