Monday, March 31, 2008

Eighteen (2004) NR - 2½ Stars

A coming of age story, Pip Andrews (Alan Cumming), is a young trouble teenager about to turn 18. Trouble with his family finds him homeless and on the streets. At nights he listens to tapes of his grandfather Jason (Ian McKellen) made on the war and being trapped behind enemy lines. The comparisons between his survival on the streets and his grandfathers, help him to discover who he is and what he wants to do next.

Art House & International
Director: Richard Bell
Writer: Richard Bell
Producers: Cari Green, Dennis Tal, Harry Sutherland
I viewed 8/06

Stephen King's The Mist (2007) R - 3 Stars

I think this movie had the potential to be better but to me it looks like a typical Stephen King book come to life. Obviously made for T.V. with the perfect climax then fade to black, the acting is more like reading a book than a movie. Not to say the actors don't preform well, it's maybe the dialogue they are given to say, in Stephen King's style. However I do love the ending and I did not find that typical at all.

In a small community where everyone knows each other's name, rumors spread fast about people's personalities. After a storm that causes havoc on the town and cuts power, many flock to the local grocery store to stock up on supplies. While shopping, a mist engulfs the community and anyone caught outside is brutally killed.

The military base has been experimenting with other dimensions and accidentally left a door open allowing alien blood thirsty creatures into our world. Tensions flare inside the store when one woman riles up the crowd and turns them against each over her beliefs thats it's a sign from God. A small group decide they'd rather flee by car than stick it out in the store. With a full tank of gas,food and supplies, 5 set out to find the edge of the mist.

MGM Distribution
Director: Frank Darabont
Writer: Frank Darabont
Producers: Liz Glotzer, Frank Darabont, Martin Shafer
I viewed 3/08

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Stand and Deliver (1988) PG - 4 Stars

Zola's pic for one you should see at least one time or own in your collection.

Based on a true story of Jaime Escalante, here is another movie that belongs in your collection. (Edward James Olmos) plays Jaime Escalante, a mathematics teacher in East LA high school. His assignment is to turn a bunch of gangster type misfits into students. The class ignores and makes fun of him till he starts relating to them from his own cultural background. He takes their street names and give them new nicknames of great warriors and achievers in the Latin community. The children find that class becomes something they want to achieve at if they ever are to leave the barrios they come from. Some of the parents feel threatened by him but he eventually wins them over and the class goes on to be one of the smartest in the history of the school. When they all score high on their SAT's the educational system strips them of their title as they must have cheated based on who they are. Jaime goes to bat for the kids and demands they be retested so he can prove the class is full of winners.

Awards include:

1988 - Stand and Deliver - Independent Spirit Awards - Best Supporting Actress
1988 - Stand and Deliver - Independent Spirit Awards - Best Screenplay
1988 - Stand and Deliver - Independent Spirit Awards - Best Director
1988 - Stand and Deliver - Independent Spirit Awards - Best Picture

Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Director: Ramon Menendez
Writers: Ramon Menendez, Tom Musca
Producers: Andrew Scheinman, Ray Gideon, Bruce A. Evans
I viewed 11/07

Phenomenon (1996) PG - 3½ Stars

George Malley, (John Travolta) is celebrating his 37th birthday with his friends Nate (Forest Whitaker) and Doc (Robert Duvall), at a local pub. He goes outside for some air and while gazing into the night, a bright light comes out of the sky and knocks him to the ground. When he comes to he discovers he has incredible powers for knowledge. At the library he checks out every book he can get his hands on and speed read them. He also discovers he now has the power to move things, predict earthquakes learn a different language in minutes. Some deem George the hero of their town where others are still spooked by his new powers. He meets Lace Pennamin (Kyra Sedgwick) and a romance begins. But as word gets out of George accomplishments the FBI wants to know more about him.

I read from Karl Williams - All Movie Guide that "Scientology, led to charges that the film was veiled pro-Scientology propaganda."

Buena Vista Pictures
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Writer: Gerald Di Pego
Producers: Barbara Boyle, Michael Taylor
I viewed 11/07

Secret of the Cave (2006) PG - 2½ Stars

This movie looked like it was going to start out pretty cool. Filmed in a great location and great looking characters, I was hoping for a little more charm and storyline.

A small boy Roy Wallace (Kevin Novotny), is sent to Ireland to live with his uncle Patrick (Patrick Bergin). As soon as Roy arrives, strange things start to happen. Rumors are spread that the town is now haunted. While Roy is exploring the rocky mountain side, he hears strange noises coming from the cave below. There is no easy way to get to the cave itself as it is below a cliff and the tide rushes into it's entrance. But Roy is determined to put the town to rest and explain the mysterious events.

First Look International
Director: Zach Gray
Writers: Zach Gray, David George, Aaron Adams
Producers: Benjamin Keith, David George, Mark Thomas
I viewed 11/07

Black Book (2006) R - 3½ Stars

Based on a true story, Rachel Steinn (Carice van Houten) is a Jewish woman living in German occupied Holland in the 40's. Her and her Jewish family members are promised a way out of the country by boat. They show up with all of their money and enter their names in the German's black book in order to get on board. But these men have other plans and rob and brutally kill them. Rachel escapes by diving into the water and wet and all alone must find a way to survive. She meets up with a resistance movement where she dies her hair blond to pass as a Dutch woman and blend in. She learns the language and when a German commander takes a fancy to her, she must learn how to play the role of her life. German with English subtitles.

2006 - Black Book - Netherlands Film Fest - Best Film.

ContentFilm International
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Writer: Gerard Soeteman, Paul Verhoeven
Producer: Teun Hilte, Jos van der Linden, Jens Meurer
I viewed 11/07

Face the Music (2000) PG13 - 3 Stars

I've watched Tyler Christopher on General Hospital for years now and I guess this is why he is absent from the soap sometimes. He's busy playing a rock star. Decent comedy though predictable and silly.

Dan Stone's (Tyler Christopher) is the leader of a rock and roll band. Sales have been okay but the band is sliding downhill. The group gets together and decides a better way get them back on the charts again by faking the death of their lead singer. Well since Dan can't just disappear, he comes back as a woman who knows a lot about Dan.

When a beautiful reporter (Elena Lyons) is assigned to do a story on the band, Dan meets with her and soaks up everything being said about him. He also falls for this reporter and finds out the hard way he can't have his cake and eat it too.

Winding Road Entertainment, New Line Cinema
Director: Jeff Howard II
Writer: Beth Hollander Harris
Producer:Laura Caulfield
I viewed 10/07

Affliction (1997) - R 2½ Stars

Althogh the movie has a lot of great acting in it, it was a less than average to me over all.

Everyone seems to have something bothering them in this small New England town. Sheriff Wade Whitehouse (Nick Nolte) is a alcoholic man troubled by his past with an abusive father, Glen Whitehouse (James Coburn). Margie Fogg (Sissy Spacek) is Wade's girlfriend and seems to be the only one able to get through to him. Both Wade's ex-wife and daughter are scared of his very presence.

When Wade is called to investigate a hunting accident, he takes a passionate look at all angles for foul play. He consumes himself with the investigation to keep from dealing with his own pain. His brother Rolfe (Willem Dafoe), comes to town after their mother dies. Rolfe seems to have not been afflicted by their father's abuse but once around him again, it starts to affect him.

Lions Gate Films
Director: Paul Schrader
Writer: Paul Schrader
Producer: Linda Reisman
I viewed 10/07

The Lives of Others (2006) R - 3½ Stars

German with English subtitles, this is a get under your skin movie. The more you view,, the more you are sucked into this tiny world of voyerism. The acting is good and you feel as if you are spying on the couple as well.

Capt. Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe) is an agent for the East German Secret Police, "Stasi". His job is to investigate anyone who might pose a threat to the state. Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) is a play write and Capt. Gerd has recently seen his work and starts taking a closer look at Georg to see what skeletons lie in his closet. Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck), is Georg's girlfriend and while Gerd taps into their conversations and private moments, he learns a lot about the couple. Little do they know that Gerd has his secret surveillance equipment right in Georg's attic.

After months of surveillance, Gerd has learned Georg is a one of the few real loyal citizen. But when he also finds out the Christa is being blackmailed to have sex with a higher up in the Stasi, his loyalties change. Gerd is so caught up in the lives of Georg and Christa than he posts an anti-establishment piece in the newspaper that gets the government all riled up. His beliefs in the Stasi changes and he yearns to live a life like the two he has been studying.

Awards include:

2007 - The Lives of Others - New York Film Critics Circle - Best Foreign Film
2007 - The Lives of Others - Ohio Film Critics - Best Foreign Language Film

Sony Pictures
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Writer: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Producers: Quirin Berg, Max Wiedemann
I viewed 10/07

You Kill Me (2007) R - 2½ Stars

Frank Falenczyk (Ben Kingsley) is an alcoholic hit man. But his alcoholic behaviors ruin his work. His bosses order him to rehab to get his act together. He struggles with staying with the program but eventually lands a job at a mortuary. With this new life he meets and falls in love with Laurel, (Téa Leoni) and shares his secrets of his real occupation. Everything is grand for the two lovers until his past start showing up.

IFC Films
Director: John Dahl
Writers: Stephen McFeely, Christopher Markus
Producers: Al Corely, Carol Baum, Eugene Musso
I viewed 10/07

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Holes (2003) PG - 3 Stars

Children are sent to the a juvenile detention camp in the desert. Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LaBeouf) is one of these boys sent to the camp for stealing. But he didn't do it. The tennis shoes fell to his feet after thrown over a bridge as he walking under. Being in the right place at the wrong time, he now thinks it's true what his family has told him his whole life - his family is cursed.

Stanley meets up with a gang of misfits and the children must dig great holes for their punishment and to build character. At least that is what they are told. The warden (Sigourney Weaver) of Camp Green Lake is using the boys to help uncover the mystery that could help break the family curse.

Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Andrew Davis
Writer: Louis Sachar
Producers: Lowell D. Blank, Andrew Davis, Teresa Tucker-Davies
I viewed 10/07

Gas Food Lodging (1992) R - 3 Stars

Trudi (Ione Skye) and Shade (Fairuza Balk) are two sisters growing up in very small town of Laramie, NM. They live with their mother Nora (Brooke Adams) in a trailer park. Trudi is the defiant one and gives her love easily away to any man that will take it. Shade yearns for more of the typical family life with a dad. Trudi becomes pregnant from Dank (Robert Knepper) who is in town studying rock formation in a cave. Shade falls for the projectionist in the movie theater Javier (Jacob Vargas). The girls learn a lot about love and their identities while trying to fit in.

1992 - Gas Food Lodging - New York Film Critics Circle - Best New Director.

IRS Releasing
Directors: Allison Anders
Writers: Allison Anders
Producers: Christoph Henkel, Daniel Hassid, William Ewart
I viewed 10/07

The Memory of a Killer (2003) NR - 3½ Stars

Angelo Ledda (Jan Decleir) is a man with the developing stages of Alzheimer's disease. He's been a hired assassin for most of his life and is offered once last job before he looses his mind completely. Even his scruples won't allow him to fire on a 13 year old girl as requested.

But what he won't do, someone else will. With little left of his mind, he vows to take out everyone responsible for the little girls death. In Dutch with English subtitles but easy to stay with. I liked the movie showing even a killer loosing his memory, has a heart.

Sony Pictures
Director: Erik van Looy
Writers: Erik van Looy, Carl Joos
Producers: Hilde de Laere, Erwin Provoost
I viewed 10/07

The Oh in Ohio (2006) R - 3 Stars

Priscilla Chase (Parker Posey) is a middle aged woman working in the public relations field. Jack (Paul Rudd) is her husband, a high school teacher looking for something more out of life. Their home life suffers when Priscilla is unable to achieve an orgasm with her husband. When Jack's ego is bruised he finds comfort in one of his students, Kristen (Mischa Barton). He enjoys it so much he moves out with Kristen leaving Priscilla to fend for herself.

Priscilla used to think her sex life with Jack was fine but after he left with another woman, Priscilla wants to see what the fuss is all about. She seeks medical attention with sex therapist Dr. Alyssa Donahue (Liza Minnelli) who shows her how to pleasure herself. Now she knows what all the hoopla was about and starts having intense sexual urges.

Wayne (Danny DeVito), a salesman, moves in across the street. Priscilla soon learns that Wayne, though not much to look at, has a certain art in the bedroom. Together she finally is able to achieve orgasm every time and when Jack tries to come back into her life, she tells him to hit the road.

Cyan Pictures
Directors: Adam Wierzbianski, Billy Kent
Writers: Sarah Bird, Billy Kent, Adam Wierzbianski
Producers: Francey Grace, Amy Salko Robertson, Miranda Bailey
I viewed 10/07

Boat Trip (2003) R - 3½ Stars

Jerry (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is a man in love. He has the perfect girlfriend Felicia (Vivica A. Fox), and wants to take the relationship to the next level. He picks a romantic balloon ride to propose to Felicia and she tells him she can't. She doesn't love or want him anymore.

Crushed and not knowing what to do next, he turns to his best friend Nick (Horatio Sanz). Since Nick's not batting a thousand in the relationship field himself, he suggest the two of them take a cruise, the prefect way to meet women. While making the reservations, Nick pisses the travel agent off and he gets even by sending them off on a "gay" cruise. At the beginning, they are not aware of their circumstances but when they discover the ship is full of men winking at them, they pose as lovers so everyone will think they are taken. Jerry meets a beautiful dance instructor Gabriella (Roselyn Sanchez). After spending a lot of time with her and discovering feelings for her, he now her he really is straight. Jerry learns alot about himself and his sexuality which makes him a better man.

MGM Distribution
Director: Mort Nathan
Writers: William Bigelow, Mort Nathan
Producers: Gerhard Schmidt, Frank Hübner, Andrew Sugerman
I viewed 10/07

Friday, March 28, 2008

God Grew Tired of Us (2005) PG - 3 Stars

Filmed in Sudan Africa, this documentary focuses on the refugee camps and the many men living there who dream of someday leaving Africa. A few of these men are chose to come to America and try a better life. The film is a study of 4 years of their journey and how they try to adapt to a more civilized world. Or is it?

The men share apartments and are amazed at everything we, Americans, take for granted. Some still sleep on the hard ground as apposed to the beds out of habit. A/C in their rooms and even flushing toilets are items that take some getting used to. Shopping at stores freaks them out and they are just not sure how to act. I thought it was a very interesting take on just how different peoples way of life can be. While some were able to blend right in others struggled to find comfort.

2006 - God Grew Tired of Us - Sundance Film Festival - Grand Jury Prize: Documentary.

Newmarket Films
Directors: Christopher J. Quinn, Christopher Quinn, Tommy Walker
Writer: Christopher Quinn
Producers: Molly Bradford Pace, Christopher J. Quinn, Christopher Quinn
I viewed 10/07

Waitress (2007) PG13 – 2 ½ Stars

Jenna (Keri Russell) is a simple girl with simple needs. She daydreams a lot of her mother who used to comfort her with baked desserts and sing to her when she was young. Jenna is married to domineering, chauvinistic Earl (Jerey Sisto) and she eagerly hopes for the day she can escape him. Meanwhile she comes up with ideas for her new pie concoctions based on what is going on in her life. Andy Griffith makes a guest appearance as the grumpy, finicky, old customer.

When she is not feeling well she seeks a doctor, Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion) who informs her she is pregnant. Dr. Pomatter takes a liking to Jenna and even though the two try to avoid each other, he breaths new life back into her. Now she write letters to her unborn child and sings song to her while she bakes, just like her mother did. And the story has a happy ending.

Waitress could have been a bit more exciting but Jennas pies are the winner for this movie. Strange note: The film maker, Adrienne Shelly, was killed in her New York apartment a month after her previewed at film Sundance Film Festivals.

Awards:

2007 - Waitress - National Board of Review - Best Independent Film
2007 - Waitress - Southeastern Film Critics Circle - Wyatt Award

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Adrienne Shelly
Writer: Adrienne Shelly
Producer: Michael Roiff
I viewed 1/08

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Pope of Greenwich Village (1984) R - 3 Stars

It was fun revisiting the 80's by watching this movie and for that alone it gets three stars.

Smooth talking Charlie (Mickey Rourke) and wheeling-dealing Paulie (Eric Roberts) are two Italian American cousins from Little Italy, in New York. Paulie wants to get away from the neighborhood so bad, he joins the mob and keeps an ear to the ground on where to find his next scam, while skimming off the top of the restaurant he works in. Charlie also yearns to have his own restaurant someday with his a girlfriend Diane (Daryl Hannah). Diane tries hard to keep Charlie on the straight and narrow path now that she has become pregnant.

Paulie gets wind of a deal to good to pass but they choose the wrong guy, Bed Bug Eddie (Burt Young), to mess with. Even their mobster uncle can't help them now.

MGM Distribution
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Writer: Vincent Patrick
Producers: Gene Kirkwood, Howard W. Koch
I viewed 3/08

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Spitfire Grill (1996) PG 13 - 4 Stars

Percy Talbott, (Alison Elliott) arrives in the small Maine town of Gilead and changes it forever. After being released from prision on manslaughter charges, her hope is to start life over in Gilead. She gets a job at the Spitfire Grill and eventually befriends her new boss Hannah Ferguson (Ellen Burstyn) and another fellow waitress, Shelby Goddard (Marcia Gay Harden). Her boss Hannah has been feeding a homeless man (John M. Jackson) that lives in the woods. When Hannah becomes sick, Percy takes over with the feeding as she is curious about the man. Percy falls in love with Joe Sperlingthe (Kieran Mulroney) and as her lifes seems to be falling into place. But will tradgey occur when she tries help Hannah sell the Grill?

Mendocino Productions
Director: Lee David Zlotoff
Writer: Lee David Zlotoff
Producers: Warren Stitt, Forrest Murray
I viewd 7/07

Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming (2007) R 1½ Stars

I don't think this movie did a very good job of explaning why Lowe came back as disfunctional as he did. Even though he keeps going through flashbacks, I dunno, he just wasn't very convincing to me of someone who gave a crap about much.

Ted Cogan (Rob Lowe), is a captain in the National Guard who has just returned home from his duty in Iraq. He has trouble putting his life back in order, as he is continually haunted by visions of Iraq. These visions dramatically interrupt his life when he keeps replaying faces of the innocent bystanders accidentally killed by him in Iraq. After his son takes it out on an Arab looking local boy, Ted seeks the help of a psychic to try to regain control of his life.

Lions Gate Films
Director: Ernie Barbarash
Writer: Ernie Barbarash
Producers: Philip Stilman, Claire Welland
I viewed 1/08

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Island (2005) PG - 3½ Stars

Here's a world where clones are confined until needed to provide organs to their DNA owners should they need them. The problem is, Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) doesn't know he's a clone.

While in the middle of the 21st century and most of the earth is uninhabitable, he's accepted his life in this confined indoor community with the hopes, like everyone else, that someday he'll win the lottery. What's the prize? Life ever after on a perfect tropical island in the outside world. When he discovers the true fate of the lottery winners he grabs his fellow clone Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) who he's taken a liking to, and the two plan their escape to the outside world.

DreamWorks
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Caspian Tredwell-Owen, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci
Producers: Walter Parkes, Nick Provenzano, Kevin Wallace
I viewed 1/08

Yeelen (1987) R - 3 Stars

Now here's one for you!!!

Yeelen is subtitled in English but in the language of Bambara, filmed in the African country of Mali. A young warrior Nianankoro, sets out barefoot and alone to find his uncle, Djigui, to take an ancestral fetish from his mother. Nianankoro's father, Bafing Diarra, has great magical powers and is looking for his son to kill him as he says he's betrayed their ancestry. Bafing uses a large pole with magical powers, carried by two slaves, as his guidance to find his son. Little does he realize he son has also developed great powers.

On his journeys he encounters a small tribe run buy it's king Uruma Bolly, that needs help to protect their village from attackers. Nianankoro summons the bees and rids the village of their foes. He also gains a wife, quite by accident. His uncle Djigui's twin brother Soma, is also looking for Nianankoro to banish him and meets up with other master blacksmiths. Sitting in front of their sacred icon, Koma, the group partakes in some home made brew. This is the highlight of the movie for me - after they've indulged, they chant and howl and hoot and well it's a great scene.

Nianankoro meets his uncle Djigui give him the fetish from his mother and it is placed into the carved wing which now gives Ninankoro stronger magical powers. His wife is pregnant with their son and bids her farewell as hes off to confront his father. It's a battle of the stronger powers but justice prevails.

They found some great faces for this movie full of aged character and even with the language barrier, I actually thought it was an okay movie.

1987 - Yeelen - Cannes Film Festival - Jury Prize,

Films Cisse, Atriascop, Midas Productions
Director: Souleymane Cisse
Writer: Souleymane Cisse
Producer: Souleymane Cisse

I viewed 3/08

Monday, March 24, 2008

License to Wed (2007) PG13 - 2½ Stars

While this movie had some funny moments, but it was pretty much on the predictable side. I love Robin Williams but I don't think this is one of his greatest attempts.

Ben Murphy (John Krasinski) and Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore) have been wanting to get married at Sadie's family church, St. Augustine. Reverend Frank (Robin Williams) is the minister there. But even after the two year wait for a slot to open up, Reverend Frank won't marry the couple until he is convinced they have what it takes to make a marriage last. He puts them through homework assignments and grueling tests to see if their love can withstand. Which of course causes problems for the two like they've never had before. All works out in the end and the wedding goes on maybe just not as planned.

Warner Bros Pictures
Director: Ken Kwapis
Writers: Kim Barker, Vince Di Meglio, Tim Rasmussen
Producers: Nick Osborne, Arnie Messer, Mike Medavoy
I viewed 1/08

Day Watch (2006) R - 1½ Stars

This movie was hard for me to follow and I don't believe it was the subtitles but more I lost interest in it. Basically, Day Watch is the group that represents the power of the light, the goodness, and Night Watch is the group that represents the dark, evil. The Day Watch monitors the night and visa versa. One night while on patrol for the Night Watch, Anton Gorodensky (Konstantin Khabensky) and Svetlana (Maria Poroshina) are summoned to a disturbance where Anton's son has committed the attack. Anton has to quickly decide what to do to protect his son or protect his mission.

I felt it was trying to be like a Matrix type movie but for me at least, I had a hard time staying with it and have to give it a thumbs down. Foreign with Russian Subtitles.

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writers: Sergei Lukyanenko, Timur Bekmambetov, Aleksandr Talal
Producers: Max Dankevich, Suzanne Jobson, Anatoly Maximov
I viewed 3/08

Ocean's Thirteen (2007) PG - 3½ Stars

I don't usually care for sequels because they never are as good as the first but I have to say Ocean's 13 surprised me.

Willy Bank (Al Pacino) is the hot shot in Vegas who can claim he is the only hotel owner that has earned the prestigious Royal Review Board's Five Diamond Award. But in order to be so successful, he pissed many people off along the way. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) has a huge bone to pick and would love nothing better than to take Willy down. And with a little help from his friends, he does just that. He gets his team ready just in time for the grand opening of Willy's new casino opening. All star cast of (Matt Damon) - Linus Caldwell, Brad Pitt - Rusty Ryan, Matt Damon - Lenny Pepperidge, Andy Garcia - Terry Benedict, Don Cheadle - playing Fender Roads and Basher Tarr, Bernie Mac - Frank Catton, Elliott Gould - Reuben Tishkoff, Carl Reiner - playing Saul Bloom and Kensington Chubb, Casey Affleck - Virgil Malloy, and new comer Ellen Barkin - Abigail Sponder.

Warner Bros Pictures
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writers: David Levien, Brian Koppelman
Producer: Jerry Weintraub
I viewed 1/08