Saturday, May 31, 2008

Down in the Valley (2005) R - 2½ Stars

A cowboy from South Dakota in the valley of Los Angeles, falls in love with a girl against her fathers wishes. I actually liked this movie and started to get into it and feel it could have been such a better production if more direction were considered along the way. I love Edward Norton's character and actually all do a great job of acting but some scenes are flawed and some drag on. There is no chance to interact on any deep level and pull you into the characters. But WOW, check out the gas station prices just 3 years ago, $2.19 a gallon, $4.59 here in L.A. now.

Tobe (Evan Rachel Wood) 18, is a young teen on the way to beach with her girlfriends. They stop to get gas where a good looking cowboy Harlan (Edward Norton), gives them full service. The girls flirt with Harlan who tells them he is just here from So. Dakota and never seen the beach before. Tobe suggests he come with them and without a second thought, Harlan quits his job and jumps in their car. Though there is quite a difference in their ages, Tobe and Harlan immediately hit it off. She loves the romantic and simple ways that this cowboy speaks and he is drawn to her by her innocent and sexuality.

Tobe's father Wade (David Morse), is the sheriff of a town in California's San Fernando Valley and he doesn't approve of this love affair between his 18 year old daughter and a 30 something cowboy. He's a single parent doing his best to raise two children but Tobe refuses to allow her domineering dad to stop her from seeing this boy who has awoken her. Soon she will question and slightly become leery of Harlan when the two go horseback riding and end up being confronted by gun toting Charlie (Bruce Dern), a local rancher Harlan has borrowed the horse from. It seems Harlan has told Tobe he got the horse from his old friend Charlie, who in actuality has never seen or met Harlan before. This makes her wonder if there's more to Harlan then he in letting on but she just can't agree that maybe her father was right. When she catches Harlan teaching her little brother Lonnie (Rory Culkin), how to shoot with a hand guns, she still tries to hold on to the one thing that has taken her away from her solitude.

Wade threatens Harlan to stay away from his daughter, Lonnie becomes more intrigued and starts to look up to Harlan and Tobe rebellious behavior grows to unearth their already unstable household.

Director: David Jacobson
Writer: David Jacobson
Producers: Stavros Merjos, Adam Rosenfelt, Holly Wiersma
I viewed 5/07

Breaking and Entering (2006) R - 2½ Stars

A love triangle, a troubled boy and a break in. What do they have in common? The love of architecture. This one just didn't ever get real exciting for me. I get it, the guys feels for the boy and the widowed mom as they are refugees from Bosnia. But the story line is weak, depressing and not visually exciting. I guess the message is hope.

Will Francis (Jude Law) and his partner / friend Sandy (Martin Freeman), run a extremely productive landscape architect studio in a London neighborhood. Their trendy office sits in a crime ridden neighborhood that the two are hoping to renovate and chase out crime. But their studio is broken into two times causing Will to seek police help.

Will normally stays with his girlfriend Liv (Robin Wright Penn), and her gymnast obsessed teenage daughter, Bea (Poppy Rogers). Their relationship is on the rocks, so Will spends more time at the studio. It's also his hopes, he might catch the thief if there is another invasion. What he didn't plan on was watching a 15 year old, break in.

Will follows Miro (Rafi Gavron), without his knowledge, to his home. It's there he runs into his mother Amira (Juliette Binoche), a seamstress. She is a widow and both her and her son are refuges from Bosnia. When Will finally confronts Miro for taking his things, Amira will do anything to keep her son out of jail. Now he must choose between a failing relationship or one he feels compassionate about.

Buena Vista Pictures
Director: Anthony Minghella
Writer: Anthony Minghella
Producers: Sydney Pollack, Tim Bricknell, Anthony Minghella
I viewed 5/07

Money, Power, Respect (2003) NR - 2½ Stars

A real low budget documentary of young kids who think by having money, power and respect, they've achieved all their goals in life. The movie makes a good point though, is it worth dying for?

Levi is a young man from Philadelphia. He must decide to either make his mother and girlfriend happy by changing his life and finding a real job, or continue on with his life filled of risk, drugs, fame and crime.

Ruff Nation Films

Sorry, I can't find any information on who directed, wrote and produced as I only made note of the production company and then returned the disc
I viewed 5/07

Attack of the Gryphon (2007) NR - 2½ Stars

Well, the gryphon was not the worst animation job when the bird was flying through the sky but, it certainly was crap when shown up close. Take a look below. The acting all around is cheesy and weak but the location in Romania where the film was made, kept my interest to make it through the movie.

Lockland's King, Phillip (Adrian Pintea) is in conflict with the rival kingdom of Delphi. This is not a new war, but an ongoing war of over 300 years. In a desperate attempt to save his kingdom, King Phillip looks to a sorcerer named Armand (Larry Drake) to protect the land. Armand uses his powers and the blood of King Phillip, to bring a statue of a great gryphon to life. It is hoped the gryphon will protect Lockland and attack Delphi. But things don't always go according to plans and the great gryphon reeks havoc on both kingdoms instead.

Princess Amelia of Lockland (Amber Benson) steps in to save her fathers legacy and must convince Prince Seth of Delphi (Jonathan LaPaglia) to join together to fight and destroy the gryphon.

Sony Pictures
Director: Andrew J. Prowse
Writers: T.M. Van Orstrand, Tim Cox
Producer: Ken Badish
I viewed 5/07

Friday, May 30, 2008

10 Items or Less (2006) - 2 Stars

I love Morgan Freeman and also THINKFilm movies, but I was disappointed in this one. Old man meets a young girl clerk at the grocery store and they become friends breathing life into each other. The whole story line was pretty unbelievable to me as I didn't feel a real connection for them until the end.

Known only as "Him" (Morgan Freeman) is coming to terms that his days are pretty much over in Hollywood. Once in the center focus, now the only gig he can get is with an Independent movie company. He drives around in a beat up Gremlin and goes to Carson, CA, to check out the role. But after his driver leaves him in a Latino community, he makes his way into a small grocery store where he meets clerk Scarlet (Paz Vega). Abandoned far from Brentwood, he relies on the compassion of this young girl to help him get back home. The trip takes both of them on a ride through personal revelations and both come out better people because of it.

Director: Brad Silberling
Writer: Brad Silberling
Producers: Lori McCreary, Brad Silberling, Julie Lynn
I viewed 5/07

Alpha Dog (2006) R - 4 Stars

True story of an unpaid drug deal where kids get the idea to kidnap a family member in order to collect on a debt. The story is based on the real life of Jesse James, age 21 from Hollywood, CA, that made his claim to fame in 1998, as the youngest person to make it to the top of the F.B.I.'s most wanted list. I just loved this movie. The acting is great from everyone and it had me on the edge of my seat till the very end. I don't think the boys really wanted to do wrong, but more got caught up in something they just never really thought out. A lot of the movie was filmed in North Hollywood close to my grandmother's house, so I recognized a lot of the scenes.

Johnny Truelove (Emile Hirsch) is a 19 year old teen that has made a life for himself selling drugs. He owns the nice home he lives in, drives a nice car and has a lot of loyal friends. Elvis (Shawn Hatosy), Frankie (Justin Timberlake), and Tiko (Fernando Vargas) are his main homeboys. Most every night drugs, girls and parties are happening at Johnny's home.

Jake Mazursky (Ben Foster), is a consist ant customer of Johnny's but when he can't pay his latest huge debt, he instead pisses Johnny off to the point he induces psychotic behavior in him. Johnny is going to get paid and will find a way to show Jake he's serious about collecting his dough.

The group of boys are out driving and sees Jake's younger brother Zack (Anton Yelchin), walking along the side of the road. Their plans were not well thought out when a hasty decision has them grab Zack and throw him into the back of their van. The boys don't hurt Zack but merely keep him under wraps until Johnny tells them what do to next.

Zack becomes a willing participant, loving this new life style of drugs, parties and girls and even losing his virginity. He begins to trust the boys are just doing what they need to do and even when Zack is given the opportunity to run, he decides it's in his brothers best interest if he doesn't rock the boat.

When Jake figures out his brother's disappearance must be his fault, he decides to confide in his father Butch (David Thornton), and stepmother, Olivia (Sharon Stone). His parents become livid when they hear that Zack could have been kidnapped in order to pay off Jake's drug deal. They try to get help from Johnny's father Sonny (Bruce Willis) and now it's a race against time to find Zack before something bad happens. The kidnappers, now looking at life in prison, must decide what their next move should be.

In 1999, Johnny Truelove disappeared - He was arrested in Paraguay in 2005 - In 2006, when this movie was made, he was in California awaiting trial. I was unable to find any info, regarding the status of the case today.

New Line Cinema
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Writer: Nick Cassavetes
Producers: Sidney Kimmel, Chuck Pacheco
I viewed 5/07

Because I Said So (2006) PG13 - 2½ Stars

This movie is too much of a girlie movie for me and I got bored with it fast. Mom is involved in setting up her single daughter. I don't know a mother that would interfere the way this mom does. I just didn't find it real funny either but predictable forcible laughs.

Daphne Wilder (Diane Keaton) is a single mom who's raised three daughters. The oldest Maggie (Lauren Graham), is a psychologist, Mae (Piper Perabo), sexy and brains to boot and the youngest Milly (Mandy Moore) is sort of a klutz.

Daphne really over does it when she places an online dating ad trying to set Milly up with the perfect guy. She wants to make sure Milly doesn't wind up making the same mistakes in life and love that she has. But she continually does the wrong things even though her hearts in the right place. Daphne finally realises it's her own insecurities that she has been trying to make right.

Universal Pictures
Director: Michael Lehmann
Writers: Karen Leigh Hopkins, Jessie Nelson
Producers: Paul Brooks, Jessie Nelson
I viewed 5/07

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2004) - R 4 Stars

This one will keep you glued to your television, make you angry as hell and keep you rewinding the tape to make sure you heard exactly what you just did. How does one of the most successful companies in American history go from being on top to bankruptcy? LIE!!!

This documentary exposes all the players for what their roles were and gives a lot of information that most people might not know about. I thought I would just list some of the facts here from the movie because it is really so informational. It's amazing how long Enron was able to get away with looking like they were a legit profitable company. I highly recommend seeing this documentary to get a whole picture on just where all these "good old boys" come from.


*Started way back with the Vahalla scandal of 1987 when Louis Borget was president. He started forming fraud companies like Mr. M. Yass short for MY ASS.
*Ranked # 7 in the country and a net worth of over $70,000,000,000.00 <-- yes that's billion dollars. *The largest corporation to contribute to the 1st George W. Bush campaign with $300,000,000.00 over 4 years. the most significant relationship between a president and a corporation in American history. *While Andy Fastow - Chief Financial Officer, was in charge, over 200 billion dollars in pensions disappeared. *Directly responsible for oil prices today as their deregulation allows gas prices to float with the currency of the market. *In 1992, Enron involved in the stock market buying up natural gas. *California's deregulation of the electricity market was used to manipulate the state's energy supply. *Implemented the Rank and Yank process - 10% of the work force was fired for not making enough good trades. *Two traders, gambled away in oil all of the reserve capital of Enron. *Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, Fortune 500 magazine reporters exposed the company for it's fraud. *Lou Pi has his own expense account for the strippers he loved to visit so much. He left Enron with 250 million dollars, divorced his wife and married one of his strippers. *The CEO of EES was the 2nd largest land owner in Colorado. *John Olson, a stock analyst, was fired for not playing their game correctly. *Pump and Dump was formed. Pump up value of stock then dump it. *Ken Price sold 53 million in shares. *Ken Ley sold 300 million in shares. *Jeff Skilling sold 200 million in shares. *Chris Baxter sold 35 millions in shares. *30 billion in debt - Andy Fastow's job is to keep stock prices up. *Fastow buries the debt in fake companies like Raptors, Jedi and LJM and manages to net himself 45 million. *96 banks invested some as much as 25 million each. *Stock declines - Jeff Skilling steps down as CEO for emotional reasons August 14, 2001. *Oct. 23, 2001 - Ken lay takes over company and while he gives employees a pep talk rally, SEC investigates while Arthur Anderson (Enron's accounting firm) shreds over 1 ton of Enron's files. * Oct. 24, 2001 - Andy Fastow made to look like the fall guy for taking 45 million from company and pleads the 5th. *Ken Lay pleads he had no such knowledge of Fastow's wrong doings. *Chris Baxter commits suicide in his car. *May 30, 2001 - Gas prices are $4.19 for regular at most gas stations. I was livid after watching this movie. Magnolia Pictures
Director: Alex Gibney
Writer: Alex Gibney
Producers: Jason Kliot, Alex Gibney, Susan Motamed
I watched 5/08

Over Her Dead Body (2008) PG13 - 3 Stars

Cute is the word for this movie so I'm afraid I'm going to have to label this one a chick flick. It's a cute story line and I work with Veterinaries all day so I appreciated the star being one. While it's not the funniest movie I've seen, the lighting of the cherry's jubilee and the naked run through the gym, made my smile. Kate can be such a bitch, you want to root for Henry and Ashley.

Henry (Paul Rudd) and Kate (Eva Longoria Parker) are in the middle of the most special days of their lives until the ice sculpture arrives. Kate wants everything to be perfect and complains her ice angel doesn't have any wings. While the driver is backing up to take it away, she steps in back of the truck to stop the truck from hitting the flowers. Out pops one frozen angel, crushing Kate to death. Now that should make one sad however, we haven't seen the last of Kate yet.

Henry's sister Chloe (Lindsay Sloane) suggests Henry enlist one of her friends Ashely's (Lake Bell) a psychic / caterer, to see if she can channel his dead wife and learn to move on. Chloe even helps Ashely get to know Kate better by giving her Kate's diary to read. But what no one thought would happen was Henry falling for Ashley. The two begin dating and start to fall for each other until Kate's ghost shows up demanding Ashley leave her husband alone. Kate vows to make Ashley's life miserable if she continues to see Henry. Can a fresh true love win out over the past?

Universal Pictures
Director: Jeff Lowell
Writer: Jeff Lowell
Producers: Scott Niemeyer, Norm Waitt, Peter Safran
I viewed 5/08

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blood Diamond (2006) R - 4½ Stars

What a great movie, almost as good as Hotel Rwanda. The acting is top notch, the story line outstanding and I really got into all of the characters. Set in Africa, in the 1990's, Sierra Leone is in the midst of a bloody civil war. When one of the slave workers discovers a pink stone of great magnitude, he attempts stealing it to bring financial wealth to his family. He will find out how much blood must be spilled for the worth of that diamond. Getting a visual of the brutality of the diamonds minds in Africa, and the abuse of their slave workers, you may never look at diamonds the same way again.

Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) a Mende fisherman, is taken from his home and forced to work as a slave in the diamond minds. The men are constantly watched to make sure no one is skimming a rock for themselves. Solomon discovers a huge pink stone and finds a way to get it out of the pit with no one noticing. He can only dream of how his life would be for the value of this rock. While he walks away to relieve himself, he finds a place to stash the stone for later retrieval.

While hiding the stone, the workers are raided and rounded up and thrown behind bars. In jail, a boisterous worker proclaims that he's seen Solomon take a huge diamond from the mining fields. In front of the other workers, Solomon squirms insisting he has no idea what this man speaks of. But the seed has now been planted in every one's mind, and they all do their share keeping an open eye.

Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) a mercenary, also in jail, gets wind that Solomon may have a blood diamond. Danny specialises in these diamonds and knows there's big money to be made in a stone of this quality. Solomon confides in Danny and the two agree to get the diamond and share the bounty of wealth. American journalist Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly) who's romantically involved with Danny, will assist them in recovering the treasure.

As they embark on a trek through rebel territory, Solomon will almost give them away when he discovers his son drugged, trained as a rebel and guarding the mine. In the midst of civil unrest and everything at stake, the three must act quickly or never get out alive.

Awards include:

2006 - Blood Diamond - Las Vegas Film Critics Association - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
2006 - Blood Diamond - National Board of Review - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Warner Bros Pictures
Director: Edward Zwick
Writers: Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Charles Leavitt
Producers: Paula Weinstein, Graham King, Gillian Gorfil
I viewed 3/07

My Life (1993) PG13 - 3½ Stars

Bob Jones (Michael Keaton) is married to his wife Gail (Nicole Kidman) and they've just received wonderful news that Gail is pregnant. However, Bob has just received some news of his own, that he has cancer in his kidneys now spreading to his lungs. He's given under 6 months to live meaning he might not be around for the birth of their child which brings out enormous anger in him.

Having had his share of doctors, his wife convinces him to see a Chinese healing doctor, Mr. Ho (Haing S. Ngor), and he decides to go inside. He thinks this voodoo type of medicine is nonsense until he actually feels a great power from within him reaching out. The doctor tells him he needs to let go of all this anger he has built up inside. Nothing will be clear until he can do so.

At the advice of the doctor, Bob decides to video tape himself talking to his unborn son. He feels he can leave him a part of his legacy this way while still trying to be a father. During a series of tapes, he uncovers a lot of things about his relationship with his own father that he's been keeping out of view. These are the things that are keeping anger inside of him and now he can finally let go making him the best father he's always hoped to be.

Sony Pictures
Director: Bruce Joel Rubin
Writer: Bruce Joel Rubin
Producers: Bruce Joel Rubin, Jerry Zucker, Hunt Lowry
I viewed 11/07

The Kingdom (2007) R - 3½ Stars,

A deliberate bombing takes place at a softball game in an American housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The terrorist wore Saudi police uniforms and killed over 100 innocent people and injured over 200 more. A special secret team of F.B.I. agents are assembled and sent in to investigate. The team is giving just five days to uncover evidence of those responsible for this act of terrorism.

Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) travel to Riyadh along with fellow F.B.I. special agents Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner), Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), and Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman). Their mission is to try to track down who ever is responsible for the bombing. The diplomats are dragging their feet and from the moment the team touches down, it appears they are not wanted there.

They're banned from doing any quality type of investigation as they are not allowed to touch anything or speak with anyone without police presence. Damon Schmidt (Jeremy Piven), from the state department basically gives them lip service arranges a meet between the Saudi Prince and the team. The Prince tries to show concern but there's a lot more going on then meets the eye.

After being given warnings, their safety is at risk, the team soon realizes now they are the targets. Missiles are targeted at their vehicle one of their team is taken hostage during the chaos. They must stay hot on the tail or the abductor if they are to ever see their friend alive again. A Saudi Arabian police officer Col. Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhoum), seems to be the only one they can trust. Now, it's a race against time to find the agent and get out of Riyadh alive.

Universal Pictures
Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Matthew Carnahan
Producers: Scott Stuber, Tim Smythe, Michael Mann
I viewed 1/08

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

American Dreamz (2006) PG 13 - 1½ Stars

Now here's a movie that did absolutely nothing for me. Made to look like an American Idol comedy story, I didn't find myself laughing much at all as it just wasn't very funny. Instead, I felt myself dozing off a couple times.

The President of the United States, (Dennis Quaid) is having some sort of mental problem and spends the day in his pajamas. He doesn't conduct much work or get involved in what's going on in the nation. The Chief of Staff (Willem Dafoe) doesn't know what to do anymore to bring him around.

One day President Staton starts reading the newspapers, and finds he can't stop. Reading everything, he can get his hands he's discovering everything that is going on in the world and feels like he's just woken up to become a part of it. Rumors are surfacing that he's ill and suffering a nervous breakdown. His Chief of Staff decides the best way to get the president back in public view is to make him a guest judge on T.V.'s top rated show, American Dreamz.

The show is hosted by Martin Tweed, (Hugh Grant) an arrogant snob, completely bored with his job. Martin wants to add some contrast to the show and enlists his crew to find him an Arab that can perform. Omer (Sam Golzari) is found and now will compete against Sally (Mandy Moore), in the final competition. But there's more to the story when Omar's friends intend to plant a bomb on stage. The final competition is sure to send the ratings through the roof.

Universal Pictures
Director: Paul Weitz
Writer: Paul Weitz
Producers: Paul Weitz, Rodney Liber, Andrew Miano
I viewed 11/07

Flirting (1990) R - 4 Stars

WOW what a surprisingly good movie set in a beautiful location in Australia. I was surprised to see a real young Nicole Kidman playing Nicola, one of the lead preppy girls in the school. A wonderful group of support characters enhance the story. The professor in the boys dorm is a psycho, caning the boys butts to conformity. The movie is often narrated by one of the main characters, Danny and I love one of his poetic thoughts of digging a cave deep inside of your head to peer out through your eye sockets. The story is of a love and bond so tight, two students would risk it all just to be together.

Taking place in the in 1965 , Nicola Radcliffe (Nicole Kidman) is a snooty prep girl is raised to be a lady at a private girls Australian boarding home. Thandiwe Adjewa (Thandie Newton) Ugandan exchange student is one of the girls in her dorm. Thandiwe has a few friends but mostly is snubbed because she is black and from Africa. The girls are taught at all times to behave like ladies even though the older students are talk sultry dances of seduction.

Across the lake is the boys dorm where Danny Embling (Noah Taylor) and others are being schooled. In these awkward years of becoming young adults, there's a constant flirting going on every time the boys and girls get together. Danny has become the boy the group makes fun of when it's discovered that Thandiwe has taken a fancy to him. He allows himself to become their fall guy as he really doesn't care what people think of him.

Danny and Thandiwe become closer and begin sneaking out to see each other, entirely against every rules of the school. As their interracial romance blossoms, Danny learns she will be leaving the school to fly back to Africa to help her parents in a state of revolution. They must find a way to be together one last time.

1990 - Flirting - Australian Film Institute Awards - Best Film.

Samuel Goldwyn Films
Director: John Duigan
Writer: John Duigan
Producers: George Miller, Doug Mitchell, Terry Hayes
I viewed 5/08

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) PG - 3½ Stars

Action packed and full of special effects, it's a battle of good vs. evil to save our planet. The four superheros are back in Marvel Comics, Fantastic Four as they take on the Silver Surfer.

It's wedding day for Sue and Reed when their special day is interrupted by the appearance of a new alien life form. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) aka Mr. Fantastic, Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) aka The Human Torch, Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) aka The Invisible Girl, and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) aka The Thing, must do battle to save the city of this new menacing force, The Silver Surfer (Larry Fishburne). It's apparent the Silver Surfer has rode into town to see how much havoc he can invoke on Manhattan causing blackouts and tropical storms. His mission, to destroy the earth.

Ben and Johnny get a head start taking on the Surfer and also must contend with the their mortal enemy, Victor Von Doom (Julian MacMahon) aka Dr. Doom, as he has broken out of his prison of ice. Can our hero's save the planet before it's too late - of course they can.

20th Century Fox
Director: Tim Story
Writers: Mark Frost, Carl Johansen, Michael France
Producers: Tom Lesser, Avi Arad, Bernd Eichinger
I viewed 10/07

The Hoax (2007) R - 3½ Stars

Writer Clifford Irving, nearly pulled off the biggest scam of the literary community when he claimed his autobiography of Howard Hughes, which he sold to McGraw Hill publishing company, was based on interviews direct from the horses mouth. Richard Gere is pretty good in this role and he keeps you guessing on what he has to do to cover up his latest lie. He's convincing and sells the concept to "never let the truth get in the way of a good story."

It's the early 70's in Hollywood and Clifford Irving (Richard Gere), is a struggling author trying to make a name for himself. After constant humiliation at publishers, he proclaims he'll be back with "the most important book of the century."

With his mind set on making it big, he comes across a magazine with Howard Hughes on the cover. He starts to think about what it would be like to actually be the one to write the autobiography of Mr. Hughes. Upon sharing his thoughts with his best friend Dick Suskind (Alfred Molina), they begin to come up with ideas on how to pitch the publicist on the idea that Clifford was selected to write the story.

Now they must have a plan how to approach Shelton Fisher (Stanley Tucci), the big wig at McGraw Hill. Clifford practices and practices forging the signature of Howard Hughes till he gets it right. He displays these signatures to the publishers and demands a check for 1 million dollars.It appears the more outrageous it gets with his stories, the more people seem to believe him. But he soon will get caught up in his lies, as all good things must come to an end, putting egg on the face of everyone.

Miramax Films
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writer: William Wheeler
Producers: Mark Gordon, Bob Yari, Joshua Maurer
I viewed 10/07

Monday, May 26, 2008

Strange Wilderness (2008) R - 2½ Stars

This movie has gone beyond trying to be humorous, and just turned out plain old silly. No, I haven't seen a turkey stuck to a penis before and unsticking it gave me a chuckle. Also when they meet Big Foot, their reception for him inspired yet another chuckle but all in all, I found it pretty damn stupid.

Peter Gaulke's (Steve Zahn) dad had one of the most popular wild life T.V. shows of it's time. After his death, Peter has taken over the show running it straight into the ground. It's not because of his undying will to carry on his father legacy, but more the lack of knowledge, common sense and just pure stupidity.

When Peter and Fred Wold (Allen Covert) his partner, are told the show is about to be canceled, they are desperate to find something gigantic to get ratings and save the series. Their failed attempt at photographing Sea Lions puts one of their own in the hospital. Broke and out of ideas, Peter gets word of a map that contains directions to a sighting of Big Foot.

The crew get the old RV in order, hire a few new recruits and set off in search of Big Foot. Their adventures take them to the Andes and the jungles where the team encounters, a thieving guide, man eating alligators, a tribe of hostel Pygmys and eventually Big Foot himself. Now if the crew can manage to get some good footage, they can give their show the boast to the top it's in desperate need of.

Paramount Pictures
Director: Fred Wolf
Writers: Peter Gaulke, Fred Wolf
Producers: Jack Giarraputo, Allen Covert, Adam Sandler
I viewed 5/08

Wah-Wah (2005) R - 2½ Stars

The movie is full of wah wahing. It seems everyone has something to wah over. This family is in turmoil when the wife has an afair with the dads best friend. The son gets caught in the middle and sent to a boarding school. Drinking, adultery, snubing and complaining, this society could all use a valium.

Young Ralph Compton (Zachary Fox) is 11 and growing up in the 60's. His father Harry (Gabriel Byrne), is the minister of education in the African nation of Swaziland. Harry discovers his wife Lauren (Miranda Richardson) is having an affair with his best friend and starts to drink too much. Stuck in the middle, Ralph is sent to a boarding school to be out of the way.

It's 1969 and three years later, and older Ralph (Nicholas Hoult) returns home to find his father has married Ruby (Emily Watson), after knowing her only six weeks. Ruby and Ralph are stand offish with each other at first but eventually become close knowing each other better than most. When mom number one wants to return home, Ruby is put down by the society surrounding them and the women use phrases like "hobbly-jobbly" and other snooty remarks. Eventually Harry and his son Ralph will put their relationship to a test when Harry points a gun at Ralph because he doesn't care to hear anymore about himself. Meanwhile, Lauren decides to forgive and forget, comes back to the family, the only way this family is going to stop their wahing.

Roadside Attractions
Director: Richard E. Grant
Writer: Richard E. Grant
Producers: Pierre Kubel, Jeff Abberley, Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
I viewed 12/07

Avenging Angel (2007) R - 3 Stars

Kevin Sorbo is a preacher that avenges the murder of his wife and daughter who were killed while giving refuge to a group of house squatters in his church. It was a surprise to me to also see a friend of mine I personally know, Van, playing the town mayor and he has a speaking role. I love Westerns and I thought this was a pretty good one.

"The Colonel" (Wings Hauser) is a greedy land barons forcing many poor settlers off their land in order for him to take it over. A group of these land squatters take refuges in the preachers (Kevin Sorbo) church and the Colonel sets the church on fire, killing all inside including the preacher's wife and daughter. Though his beliefs were to never seek revenge, he instead takes on the role of bounty hunter, vowing to bring these killers to justice.

When the preacher is on the trail of the outlaws, he arrives in town only to be beat up and thrown in the streets. Maggie (Cynthia Watros), is no saint herself but along with her daughter, offers him a place to stay near town. Her only rules is no guns are allowed in her home.

The Colonel is once again forcing the land owners off their property by harassment and threats. A small group led by Elijah (Jim Haynie), decide to join together to stand up for their rights. They bought the land fair and square and refuse to just walk away. But when the local town sheriff is bought and in the Colonel's pocket, no one seems to be able to stop them.

Trying to get to the preacher, the thugs resort to hassling Maggie. Without his gun he is still able to take another's and stop the men while Maggie joins, knocking the last of them out with a 2x4. When the sheriff goes to persuade this group of squatters to leave immediately, this time the preacher is armed and takes the sheriff out. He then goes to try and reason with the Colonel and as he leaves the Colonel tries to gun him down. But the preacher is faster on the draw and the Colonel now lies dead too. Eventually, the people will have their land and the preacher can start over again with Maggie and her daughter.

Rhi Entertainment
Director: David S. Cass, Sr.
Writer: William Sims Myers
Producers: Lincoln Lageson, Randy Pope
I viewed 1/08

Zola's Intermission Take 5

First off Happy Memorial Day to all.

I know this is not a movie review but just adding a little tid bit. I thought I would share with everyone because here I am a grown woman of 52 in June, and I am just hearing about this now.

How many of you have wrestled with your Aluminum Foil wrap? You pull the foil and it flips out of the box and just becomes a nightmare trying to make a clean tear.

Well ladies and gentleman, on EVERY box of Reynolds Wrap Foil, there are tabs built into the box to hold the roll in place while you gently tear off a piece. WOW I had no idea till my friend showed me this fantastic feature. Now I can't be the only one who never knew this.

I thought I would pass this little trick on in case a lot of you out there are still pulling it out the hard way.

Awwwwwwww, my life's complete.

The Sweet Hereafter (1997) R - 2½ Stars

A little dream like movie about a father who is struggling with loosing his daughter to her addiction with drugs. He sets out to be the lawyer for a bus accident in a rural town that has taken the lives of 20 children. Though the movie won a lot of awards in Canada, it failed to get my attention, as it bogged out many times without letting the viewer get involved. For me, it seemed like it was all a dream.

Mitchell Stephens (Ian Holm) moves to a small northern village of British Columbia, Canada after hearing about a tragic bus accident that took the lives of 20 children. Smelling money to be made, he convinces the surviving families to unite together and initiate a lawsuit. Mitchell is still coming to terms with his own tragedy of his daughter's drugs addiction eventually causing her death.

Many of the towns people would like to just forget the whole incident, while others are drawn to the cheer leading of Mitchell into getting what's due them. But in the end, the town has mixed emotions and is torn apart even farther by the turn of events in the case.

1997 - Sweet Hereafter - Toronto Film Critics Association - Best Canadian Film.

Alliance Atlantis Pictures
Director: Atom Egoyan
Writer: Atom Egoyan
Producers: Atom Egoyan, Camelia Frieberg
I viewed 1/08

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Deck the Halls (2006) PG - 2½ Stars

I rented this movie hoping to find a nice holiday comedy movie but was disappointed. The movie just seems to filled with typical scenes, lame punch lines and I lost interest in it pretty fast. National Lampoon it's not. I do love Danny Devito in most roles he plays but to me this is one Xmas movie you can leave in your stocking.

Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito) and Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick) are two neighbors in the small town of Cloverdale, New England. It's the Christmas season and both men are determined to out do the other when it comes to decorating their home for the holiday. Steve's wife, Kelly (Kristin Davis), and their two children Madison (Alia Shawkat) and Carter (Dylan Blue) don't share the same enthusiasm as dad. They've grown quit tired of the effort put into decorating their home. Steve has always been known as the king of Christmas but when Buddy moves in and decorates his house with enough lights to be seen by outer space, Steve feels challenged and the two start a war to see who can out do the other.

The Hall's Tia (Kristin Chenoweth) wife and mother, and daughters Emily (Sabrina Aldridge) and Ashley (Kelly Aldridge), welcome the attention while the Finch's are driven insane.

20th Century Fox Distribution
Director: John Whitesell
Writers: Don Rhymer, Chris Ord, Matt Corman
Producers: Arnon Milchan, Michael Costigan, John Whitesell
I watched 12/07

Dirty Pretty Things (2002) R - 3½ Stars

A disturbing movie of an underground operation of human organs being sold on the black market. Amelie's star, Audrey Tautou, makes her debut speaking English in this movie and plays a chamber maid. Wanting to get to America, she is willing to do just about anything.

A Nigerian immigrant, Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a working as a hotel concierge and operating a cab in West London. He is rooming and also works with Senay (Audrey Tautou), an immigrant, from Turkey. The hotel is run by Senor "Sneaky" (Sergi Lopez), and a lot of shady business takes place there from drugs to prostitution.

Juliette (Sophie Okonedo) is a prostitute soliciting the hotel with one of it's guest. She makes a call to the front desk about a toilet not working properly. Okwe enters the room to fix the problem and walks into a underground human organ exchange. He finds a human heart has jammed the toilet.

Okwe shares the news with Senay who now both fear of being deported. Sneaky blackmails Okwe to stay quiet while Senay is lured into possibly selling one of her kidneys for a passport to America. But in the end, the tables and the good doctor gets more than he bargained for.

Awards include:
2003 - Dirty Pretty Things - National Board of Review - Special Recognition for Excellence in Filmmaking.

Miramax Films
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Steve Knight
Producers: Robert Jones, Tracey Seaward
I viewed 3/07

Life of the Party (2005) - 2½ Stars

A young guy wastes his life drinking. He has a hard lesson to learn in order to find his way back to his friends and former running mates. I understand the point of the movie but I became bored with it and didn't really connect with our drinking star.

Michael Elgin (Eion Bailey) used to be in tip top shape and form and a great track runner back in high school. Now in his 30's, he choices to drown himself in alcohol on a daily basis. Not only is it effecting his job but his marriage is suffering because of it. His wife Phoebe (Ellen Pompeo) threatens to leave him and all he does is drink more to drown out his sorrows. When he crashes his friends car into a tree, it's because he's been drinking. Yet, Michael walks away from the accident without a scratch. It's then, his friends decide the must get together and intervene in his life.

Michael's friends plan a meet, along with a psychiatrists, to force him to take a look at his life. However, the doctor doesn't show up as his priority was a suicidal patient. Michael seizes the opportunity to convince his friends to stay and party instead, thus defeating the whole purpose. One drink leads to another and hurtful things are flung around the group. Michael takes notice but it's not until he misses out on his fathers dying, he finally gets a grip on life, laces up his running shoes, and tries to jog himself back into life.

Warner Bros Pictures
Director: Barra Grant
Writer: Barra Grant
Producers: Mark Gordon, Scott Putman, Brian Reilly
I viewed 1/08

Untraceable (2008) R - 3½ Stars

It's funny how different people's opinions can be. I liked this movie and the friend I watched it with, just kept saying how silly and unbelievable it all was. Perhaps I was into it more because it was about the Internet of which I am an avid user. None the less, I bought the story line and was more intrigued into the modern technology, and how fast the F.B.I. could find their prey. The movie gave me the impression I was watching something from the first great Saw movie.

F.B.I. agent Jennifer Marsh (Diane Lane), specializes in Internet cybercrime. She has seen it all before and has helped put many criminals behind bars for identity theft. But nothing can prepare her for this latest cyber crime. Someone has put up a web site, where the creator inflicts major torture on his victims and invites the public to tune in and watch. The more people that log on to view, the faster the victim dies.

Along with Jennifer's partner Griffin Dowd (Colin Hanks), the two race against the clock to find out where the feed is coming from. Even with their sophisticated world of technology, the owner of the site has managed to become unsearchable and the first victim dies live in front of a growing number of Internet voyeurs. The pair are getting closer when Jennifer discovers the reasoning behind the killings. It seems the father of a disturbed boy, committed suicide and blew his brains out on a bridge live on national T.V. The media made a mockery of his death, even replaying the scene one more time, and Owen Riley (Joseph Cross) vows to make them all suffer and pay like his first victim did who sold a piece of his fathers flesh on an Internet auction site.

When this psycho is able to hack into Jennifer's personal computer, and her family is put at risk, the hunt becomes personal. Griffin is tricked and now becomes the latest visual offering. And now that Jennifer has made the connection of all the slaughtered victims, she will find herself fighting for her own life to bring this killer down.

Sony Pictures
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Writers: Allison Burnett, Robert Fyvolent, Mark R. Brinker
Producers: Tom Rosenberg, Andy Cohen, Steve Pearl
I viewed 5/08