Thursday, July 31, 2008

Open Season (2006) PG - 3½ Stars

Another cute animated story line that I' sure does more for the children than it did for me but none the less still cute. A deer gets a huge grizzly in over his head till both have to leave before hunting season. Not knowing where to go and what to do, the two befriend other creatures in the woods, to chase away the hunters when the animals take over.

Raised by the park ranger Beth (Debra Messing) in her garage ever since he was a just a cub, 900-pound grizzly Boog (Martin Lawrence) is getting too big to stay in the city. When Elliot (Ashton Kutcher) a mule deer pulls up strapped to the hood of a jeep, Boog helps free him just a bit so he can get away. The hunters are outraged and order Boog up for fair game in hunting season. Beth takes her dear friend to the top of a hillside along with Elliot so they'll be out of reach this "Open Season." But Boog doesn't know what to do by not having his food brought to him and the forest can be a scary place. The two join forces with all the other forest animals and together, turn the tables on the hunters.

Sony Pictures
Directors: Jill Culton, Roger Allers, Anthony Stacchi
Writers: Anthony Stacchi, Jill Culton, Ron J. Friedman
Producer: Michelle Murdocca
I viewed 11/07

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) R - 4½ Stars

I absolutely love this movie and it almost warrants a 5 rating. I love movies that mess with your head and this one does it, always one step ahead of you. The acting is great, the story great and I feel this is one you must own in your collection. Matt Damon enjoys the lifestyle of Dickie so much, he tries to take over his life.

It's the late 1950's and Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) is making a living in New York City as a men's room attendant, part time pianist and full time con artist who's falls into a life of deception by accident. Tom meets wealthy shipping tycoon Herbert Greenleaf (James Rebhorn), who believes Tom's a Princeton student like his son was. The two begin to chat when Mr. Greenleaf offers Tom, $1,000 plus his expenses, to go to Italy and talk his son into returning home.

Meanwhile, off the coast of Italy, Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law), and his girlfriend Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow), are living it up in the Mediterranean, off of daddy's money. When Tom arrives in Italy and meets the couple, he grows extremely envious of Dickie and his lifestyle of leisure and pleasure. The closer Dickie and Tom become, the more Tom wants to stay and hang out. But when Dickie grows tired of Tom and sends him on his way, Tom impulsively murders Dickie and assumes his identity. But just how long can he pull this off?

Awards include:

1999 - The Talented Mr. Ripley - British Academy of Film and Television Arts - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
1999 - The Talented Mr. Ripley - Broadcast Film Critics Association - Best Score

Paramount Vantage
Director: Anthony Minghella
Writer: Anthony Minghella
Producers: Tom Sternberg, William Horberg
I viewed 11/07

Descent (2005) PG - 3 Stars

Okay I have to admit I am scoring this movie a wee bit high BUT for the Sci-Fi type movies like this, I actually enjoyed it. Okay yeah far fetched, yeah cheesy acting, okay a bit of a stretch on the story line, BUT the two geek hackers are my cup of tea. Coincidentally, I watched this movie on 7/28/08 and it had earthquakes and lava flows and then today 7/29/08, Los Angeles had it's biggest earthquake (5.4) of the last 14 years. Seemed sort of weird to me in a strange sort of way. Okay enough about me....

A group of brainy scientists have constructed a machine that is capable of drilling into the core of the earth, 10 miles down. It is in this area of earth, they have discovered new minerals and produced "Timi" that will power the ship with a nuclear charge, able to drill through solid rock. But all this drilling has caused the tectonic plates to shift around the world, setting off great earthquakes and volcanic eruptions too. (oh yeah I am BIG on red lava flowing so probably another reason I gave it a 3).

Well since they started it, they have to fix it and somehow the military is involved with a secret cover up. Biggest problem is, they will have to drill deeper, 25 miles, then they ever have before. Time is of the essence so let's fire that puppy up and hope for the best. Starring Luke Perry, Rick Roberts and Michael.

Lions Gate Films
Director: Terry Cunningham
Writers: Michael Konyves, L.S. Miller
Producers: Stefan Wodoslawsky, Neil Bregman
Staring: Michael Dorn, Rick Roberts, Luke Perry
I viewed 7/28/08

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Particles of Truth (2004) NR - 3½ Stars

The story of a germ freak and a dysfunctional girl who become good friends and help each other out of their funk. The movie takes a little while to get going and the kids seem to put all the blame of their dysfunctionality on their parents, but eventually it all comes into place. Decent movie once you see where it's going.

(Jennifer Elster), wrote, directed and stars in this film as Lilli. (That's gotta be tough) but she pulls it off fairly well. An artist, living in New York City, she's pretty negative about most everything in life. She has issues with her drug addicted parents as her father (Alan Samulski) is dying now and it doesn't seem to trouble her, on the surface, at all. Her mother (Susan Floyd), is a psycho who tells herself he's left town a long time ago. It's all too much for her to deal with and has effected her self esteem and just dealing with life. Even given the opportunity to show her work at the opening at a major gallery, has her questioning if art is even something she wants to pursue.

Morrison (Gale Harold), is sitting in his car when he sees Lilli walking by. The two sort of start a conversation but Morrison is too obsessed with germs to get out of his car and approach her. Eventually she enters the car with him and the two talk about their problems with each other. Both extremely attracted to each other, it's going to take a lot of work for these two to have any kind of a moderately healthy relationship together. "In 48 hours, some fall apart, some piece themselves together."

Matter Productions LLC
Director: Jennifer Elster
Writer: Jennifer Elster
Producer: Jennifer Elster
I Viewed 11/07

Monday, July 28, 2008

Gates of Heaven (1978) NR - 3 Stars

Roger Ebert placed this documentary, by filmmaker Errol Morris, on his Top Ten Movies of All Time list. I thought it was an honest look at a sensitive subject regarding the pet cementary business. Since I work at an animal hospital, I have to deal with people who have lost their pets and for some it can't be any worse then if they had lost their child. I had never heard of "rendering a pet" before I worked at the hospital. Now, I could never consider dispoing of my pet in this way. However, I am not sure why this movie made Ebert's top ten list? While I found it informative and compassionate, it's just a decent documentary, made in the 70's, and I didn't walk away with some moment in awe that would find it on my top ten.

Foothill Memorial Gardens pet cemetery, located north of San Francisco, was started when the owner lost his own dog and could not stand the though of his pet being "rendered" rather than having a nice place to rest. And the need was great, as many animal lovers were eager to give their trusted friends some dignity after they've left this earth. But when the cemetery was forced to shut down, Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park, in Petaluma, California, was where 450 pets needed to be moved to. The documentary focuses on with the families who have dedicated their lives and time to the preservation of the beloved family pet. The sons have joined with their mother and father and one, a rock guitar player, stands on the hill top playing to the pets below. The family has focused on death which has brought new life within them all.

Cremation is big at my hospital as no one wants to see their beloved pet, end up as a rendered pet. I don't want to gross you out but, many of you might have never given a thought to what they do with dead animal bodies. Every part of the animal is used for something including cement, lip stick and even pet food. Here are a few places to have a peek at if you really want to know. Corpse disposal is one place as well as sign a petition to Stop Rendering Our Pets Into Pet Foods and from Wikipedia.

New Yorker Films
Director: Errol Morris
Producer: Errol Morris
I viewed 7/08

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) PG - 4 Stars

Okay that's enough Harry Potter for now. Number 5 is as good as all the rest, 4 stars for the imagery alone. Yet another true adventure for our young stars.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) now in his 5th year at Hogwarts and once again his friends are with him Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). Even though Harry dealt with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in the last episode, rumor has it that he has returned. Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge (Robert Hardy) tries to keep these rumors underwrap as he suspects Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) may be the one who started the rumors.

Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). is in charge of watching over the young teens. But even she won't be able to defend the ministry against what's coming to them. Harry must join forces with some of the other students to form "Dumbledore's Army" in order to defeat the supernatural showdown that's about to begin.

2007 - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Las Vegas Film Critics Association - Best Art Direction

Warner Bros Pictures
Director: David Yates
Writer: Michael Goldenberg
Producers: David Heyman, David Barron
I viewed 11/07

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) PG13 - 4 Stars

The fourth installment to the Harry Potter series and I must say they are have been great up to this point. The special effects are awesome and the acting from all the children is great and you can really feel this group has gotten into their rolls entirely. I think it's great most of the cast has stayed together making it easier to identify the characters as if you know them already.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) I guess is now 14 or soemthing. It's fun to watch him grow up before your eyes. In this episode, Harry boards the train to Hogwarts school to start his 4th sememster of magicical training. His best friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), (fun watching them grow up now too). In this episode we meet another Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Mad-Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson). You gotta love his eye. Moody has agreed to take on the infamous "DADA" professorship as a personal favor to Headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon).

The enchanted Goblet of Fire selects Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson), Victor Krumand Stanislav Ianevski), Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy) and eventually spits out Harry's name, all choosen to represent Hogwarts' Tri-Wizard Tournament. The prize to whoever completes three magical tasks will be the thousand-galleon purse coveted Triwizard Cup, and the admiration of the international wizard community. The most feared wizard in the world, the Dark Mark - Lord Voldemort who hasn't been seen for 13 years, will be looking on as the tournament begins.

2005 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - British Academy of Film and Television Arts - Best Production Design

Warner Bros Pictures
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: Steve Kloves
Producer: David Heyman
I viewed 11/07

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) PG13 - 4 Stars

The 3rd in the series and no disappointment. I've never read any of the books and each adventure is definitely worth the ride. The double-decker bus ride was pretty fun with the talking shrunken head. As a matter of fact, all the imagery is awesome.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has turned 13 when his Aunt Marge (Pam Ferris), comes to visit. Harry has never gotten along well with Aunt Marge and after being pushed by her, he causes her to inflate like a balloon and blow away into the sky. The Ministry of Magic strictly forbids students from using magic outside of their world so Harry flees his relatives home, to avoid punishment. Harry joins up for another year at Hogwarts, school of magic run by Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon).

Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), has escaped from the Azkaban prison after 12 years behind bars. It's rumored that Black has returned to seek revenge on Harry for rendering the dark wizard Voldemort powerless. Voldemort was Black's master and he is determined to do away with Harry, who's merely a boy. When Harry learns Black is close he has serious fainting spells that render him worthless. The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), and his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) help Harry determine what the clues mean to help Harry learn his past.

Warner Bros Pictures
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Writer: Steve Kloves
Producer: David Heyman
I viewed 11/07

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) PG - 4 Stars

Okay here is number 2 in the series and sequels usually suck but this was just as good as the first. I figured I would post all of the series all together as I had myself a Harry Potter marathon weekend last winter and got it out of my system and caught up on where the story has come so far. I've never read any of the books by J.K. Rowling, but got the DVD series cheap from someone who was switching to Blue Ray Discs only. Again the special effects are awesome and it's truly a family adventure movie for most ages.

This time Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has turned 12 and again living with his aunt and uncle while waiting for the school to start. He's feeling like his friends have forgotten him an he has not received one letter from either Ron or Hermione. When house-elf Dobby appears in Harry's bedroom, his friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are quick to nab Harry and whisk away to Hogwarts where, along with Hagrid the Giant (Robbie Coltrane), again they are together for the second epsiode of the series.

Now it's their second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where Headmaster Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Professor Snape (Alan Rickman), Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith), are still in charge. This year they are joined by new faculty members Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), an expert in Defense against the Dark Arts, and Sprout (Miriam Margolyes), a teacher of Herbology.

In this session, someone has opened the Chamber of Secrets, unleashing a monster from within who is reeking havoc on Hogwart. Some on the students are turning to stone like statues, messages appear on the wall written in blood and Harry and his friends learn how to ride brooms. It turns out that a student Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) could be the one responsible for unleashing the creature and now takes Harry and his friends on the ride of their lives in order to bring piece back to Hogwarts.

Awards:

2003 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Broadcast Film Critics Association - Best Live Action Family Film
2003 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Broadcast Film Critics Association - Best Score

Warner Bros Pictures
Director: Chris Columbus
Writer: Steve Kloves
Producer: David Heyman
I viewed 11/07

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) PG - 4 Stars

I've never read one of the books from the best-selling author (J.K. Rowling) but kids have gone crazy over them. So I decided to see what all the hupla was about. I've bought the series and decided to watch them all and see what's driving these kids mad and making tons of money for Ms. Rowling. Great special effects and truly an adventure for the entire family.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), has been living with his aunt Petunia Dursley (Fiona Shaw) and uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths) since his parents death. He's 11 and doesn't have a great relationship with his aunt and uncle and his birthday will contain no celebration, party or gifts. But Harry has made some friends of his own like a giant named Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane). Hagrid tells Harry stories of magic and how Harry's father was a great and powerful wizard who's death was not by accident.

A boarding school for wizards, called Hogwarts, offers Harry a place to live and learn more about the power of wizardry. There he meets new friends Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and with their help, begin to put the puzzle pieces together about who Harry is, where he came from and what really happened to his parents.

2001 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - Broadcast Film Critics Association - Best Live Action Family Film.

Warner Bros Pictures
Director: Chris Columbus
Writer: Steve Kloves
Producer: David Heyman
I viewed 11/07

Friday, July 25, 2008

Poster Boy (2006) R - 3 Stars

Pretty decent movie about controversy, politics and family crisis one U.S. senator, in his race for the White House. I think the movie had a strong potential of being a great movie as the acting is fairly strong but the story line jumps all over the place, hard to follow and just got botched up in production with only the latter part of the movie, producing any quality results. Still, it's a decent rental if all the good ones are checked out.

Jack Kray (Michael Lerner) is a U.S. senator married to Eunice (Karen Allen). who's coming up re-election is a very close race. His right winged positions have earned him the nickname "the Nazi from North Carolina." His advisers recommend he pull his entire family, especially his son, into the campaign to give himself that added personal touch towards a younger audience. Problem is, his son Henry (Matt Newton) is not what is known as a poster child and not a willing participant as he's against most of his fathers values.

Actually Henry is somewhat of a slut who's college life and homosexuality is a bit of an open secret. Anthony (Jack Noseworthy), is one such guy on campus looking for a good time who hooks up with Henry in a wild night of sex, on the floor of the gymnasium on campus. Anthony has no idea who Henry is and that his father is a U.S. senator and when he finds out, he thinks he can use the information of his sexual presence against him. As the two spend more time together, Anthony finds himself falling deeper for Henry and now he must decide if he can use someone he cares for, to his own personal political agenda.

Regent Releasing
Directors: Douglas Keeve, Zak Tucker
Writers: Lecia Rosenthal, Trevor Ristow, Ryan Shiraki
Producers: Stanley Buchtal, Jeff Campagna, Dolly Hall
I viewed 11/07

The Sentinel (2006) PG13 - 4 Stars

Boy I thought this was a great movie. Michael Douglas alone starring was enough to draw me in, but the movie is a "hang on to the edge of your seat," winner. Douglas works for the Secret Service of the United States and learns of an assassination plot against the presidents life. Working with his team of other agents, it's a race against time to uncover the attempt before it's too late.

Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas), works for the Secret Service and has made a distinguished career out of protecting the President of the United States. But when intelligence data shows someone in the department, is planning an assassination attempt on President Ballentine (David Rasche), it is Garrison's job to add some special investigating to uncover their mole.

David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), another Secret Service Agent, looks up to and admires Garrison, and puts much trust in Garrison's decisions. He is brought in to go over everything with a fine tooth comb, and undermine the plot. But as Breckinridge examines evidence, all signs seem to point to Garrison as the bad guy. Jill Marin (Eva Longoria), another agent in the department tries to convince her team that Garrison could not possibly be involved, but Breckinridge orders his arrest anyway. Now Garrison must evade his captors, try to clear his name, and still foil the alleged plot on the presidents life, before it's too late. Also starring (Kim Basinger) as the First Lady.

Regent Releasing
Director: Clark Johnson
Writer: George Nolfi
Producers: Michael Douglas, Arnon Milchan, Marcy Drogin
I viewed 11/07

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America (2006) NR - 3 Stars

I thought this movie was okay and I watched it as I thought maybe I would learn more about this Bird Flu and how far it has come to infect us here in the U.S. I didn't like how the movie ended and don't think I learned anything more from it, but a decent watch if something better has already been checked out.

This movie was originally made for television about a disaster outbreak of the dreaded Avian Flu. Modern societies worst case scenario has finally become a reality when this Hong Kong bird flu adapts traits that allow it to transfer from human to human. It causes a major panic as millions of people are infected and start dying from the disease. Entire cities become under quarantine and some compare it to the Black Plague of the 14th century. The entire planet is at risk unless someone can come up with a plan soon.

Sony Pictures
Director: Richard Pearce
Writer: Ron McGee
I viewed 11/07

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Footsteps (2003) NR - 3 Stars

Originally made for T.V., the movie was a decent thriller about a murder mystery writer thinking she is having a nervous breakdown. Solid performance by Candice, worth a rent if you can't find something current.

Daisy Lowenthal (Candice Bergen)is a best selling author who specializes in thrillers. In her book, she has recently killed off one of her most popular fictional characters. And the fans are not happy about it. Daisy feels she is loosing her mind over it and spends a weekend at her beach home completely isolated to get over her fears. She doesn't even want her husband Robbie (Michael Murphy) to stay with her.

One of the locals in the area named Spencer (Bug Hall), is Daisy's biggest fan and knows just about everything about her and her novels. He tells her things that freak her out regarding her personal life. She fears him and her paranoia thinks a cop Eddie Bruno (Bryan Brown), might be the one to help her settle her nerves. But there is more to the story than meets the eyes and Daisy will finally face every fear she held inside.

20th Century
Director: John Badham
Writer: Shelley Evans
I viewed 11/07

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Darjeeling Limited (2007) R - 2½ Stars

Three brothers travel to India to rekindle their relationships between themselves. Though the movie has fairly decent reviews from most sources, and I love Owen Wilson, I just didn't think it was all that funny of a movie. It didn't do much for me so I'm not recommending this one.

Francis (Owen Wilson), Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) are three brothers who have not spoken to each other in over a year. They take a train ride through India to strengthen the bond between them.

The trip has nothing but trouble but in some sort of way, brings the three closer. Even through the 11 suitcases they are lugging around, a laminating machine, Indian cough syrup and pain killers they can buy over he counter, the three endure the journey and it does manage to open every one's eyes to their new journey in life.

2007 - The Darjeeling Limited - New York Film Critics Online - Best Screenplay

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Roman Coppola, Wes Anderson, Jason Schwartzman
Producers: Scott Rudin, Lydia Dean Pilcher, Roman Coppola
I viewed 10/07

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Kid Could Paint That (2007) PG13 - 3½ Stars

Well this documentary is a tough call on who you want to believe. While it started out just filming a small girl's obsession for paint, it was caught in the middle of a 60 Minutes interview of controversy. That is whether Marla creates her paintings on her own, or if she has help to finish them off, thus changing the promotional value of the images. After watching this film and even going to her web site, I still feel that Marla is coached by her dad in some ways. I don't feel he is the one actually doing the paintings but I feel he gives her the color choices and guides her on what choices to use and where to put them. I think he might even add parts to show Marla what things can be done to improve the paintings an while I don't think this is wrong of him, I don't believe him when he says he has nothing to do with it. I feel Laura the mom, is pretty much not around when Marla is painting that often and she believes Marla is doing them entirely on her own. Judge for yourself by going to her website MarlaOlmstead.com or the documentary film maker site and even the article from 60 Minutes.

Marla Olmstead is your typical 4 year old little girl who likes to paint. But Marla is not your typical 4 year old. Born in 2000, she already has an art showing in Binghamton, New York of her abstract art. (Anthony Brunelli) is a gallery owner and painter and Marla's biggest fan. He proudly promotes her work among the artist community.

Marla's work has been displayed around the United States and has even been sold around the world with some going for very high price tags. This documentary is about her life and her parents father (Mark Olmstead), mother (Laura Olmstead) and her younger brother (Zane).

(Elizabeth Cohen) is a Columnist for the Sun Bulletin and she is writing a column about Marla's life. She spends a lot of time with the Olmstead's as well as (Amir Bar-Lev) who directs and produces this documentary. He is documenting her progress at painting and premiere art openings and the fame she and her family are attracting. Once Marla's paintings start selling for thousands, the news broadcast, "60 Minutes," does a piece of the family exposing the idea that Marla is not doing these paintings on her own, but coached from her father, who's also a painter. The public starts doubting the authenticity of the work and sales drop while the family struggles to prove their daughter is creating the paintings all on her own. But on most of the footage by Amir, it appears that when Marla is confronted to paint on film, she reverts to smearing and coloring like any typical 4 year old would be doing. Thus, turning even Amir against the fact that she is doing these paintings alone. The film examines the young girl, her paintings and the controversy behind it in his film.

The Olmstead's make their own DVD videos showing Marla in process of painting and her techniques and at a show in Los Angeles, after the viewing of "60 Minutes", they promote the DVD's showing Marla painting "Ocean." (Jackie Wescott) and (Stuart Simpson) are two Marla collectors who's value of their paintings, fluctuate back and forth between the child's authenticity.

"My Kid Could Paint That" official selection at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.

Sony Pictures
Director: Amir Bar-Lev
Producer: Amir Bar-Lev
I viewed 7/08

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chapter 27 (2006) R - 2 Stars

Well I guess I am glad I watched the other "I Shot John Lennon" movie first. This movie was a weak attempt to show the mind of Mark David Chapman. Though it's filmed in a similar pattern time line, it provides no information of his life in Hawaii with his mother and his wife, it provides no great obsession as to why he did it and his connection to "The Catcher and the Rye" and it's like someone watched the other movie first and just made a very condensed version. I was thinking the other movie was too long but at least it explained the reasoning behind Chapman's actions.

Another documentary to show some sort of understanding on why Mark David Chapman would fly twice from Hawaii to New York City all for the mission of killing John Lennon, whom he really did like the music of. (Jared Leto) stars as Mark David Chapman and Jude is played by (Lindsay Lohan). This movie focused better on his meeting and lunch with Jude and the photographer Paul but if you have your choice of watching the other, I think it explains the story better.

Vitagraph Films
Directors: J.P. Schaefer, Jarrett Schaeffer
Writers: Jarrett Schaeffer, J.P. Schaefer
Producers: Naomi Despres, Robert Salerno, Alexandra Milchan
I viewed 7/08

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) PG - 4 Stars

WOW, if you've ever like fairies and goblins, you will like this movie. Great adventure movie for the whole family, unless of course the little ones get scared of the mean old ugly ogre. It's the story of a family going through not having their father with them and mom trying to make ends meet, uproots them to the country side.

Jared (Freddie Highmore) and Simon (Freddie Highmore) are twins and along with their sister Mallory (Sarah Bolger) and mother Helen (Mary-Louise Parker), they move away from the busy city to a huge old house in the countryside. Mom is taking them to their great great uncle Arthur Spiderwick's (David Strathairn) old home which holds many secrets to the world around them. Jared doesn't want to go and rebels all the way to their destination by not speaking. He wants to be with his father and not live way out nowhere with his siblings who don't understand him and blame him for any wrong doing.

Jared notices many disturbances of the house, like his sister waking one morning with her hair tied to the bed posts. He uncovers a secret passageway in the house direct to his uncles old study. There he finds a book that's been locked away for year and begins to read it to figure out whats going on in the house. He discover the magical history of the property and is now able to see what most people can't. He uses these powers to fight off the evils of the house and restore nature back to it's balance, bringing his family closer together.

Paramount Pictures
Director: Mark S. Waters
Writers: John Sayles, Karey Kirkpatrick, David Berenbaum
Producers: Larry Franco, Kathleen Kennedy, Karey Kirkpatrick
I viewed 7/08

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kings of South Beach (2007) NR - 2½ Stars

Mafia type guys try to rule Miami and see who can have the nicest night club. The guy that does have it is a true ass and you want to see him go down anyway. The whole movie was pretty cheesy to me and I didn't care about any of the characters. Based on a true story of a nightclub owner taking his club to the top and making South Beach nightlife what it is today. Most of the movie is filmed in the night club which gets a bit over done.

Chris Troiano (Jason Gedrick) is the owner of one of the hottest nightclubs in the Miami South Beach area. It's the place to be and people will wait a long time to get in, just to be in THIS club. It's where all the trendy people go and you have to be someone to get in special in front of the lines. The police are watching the place as they know there is more going on there than meets the eye and just waiting for Troiano to mess up.

Andy Burnett (Donnie Walhberg) works at the club sometimes watching the door, a bouncer when needed and anything else Troiano has in store. Troiano is close to bankruptcy. He takes Andy under his wing and together they face the mafia to establish the best club on South Beach. But eventually Troiano goes off on just about everyone he knows as the police stay one step before him.

Sony Pictures
Director: Tim Hunter
Writer: Nicholas Pileggi
Producers: Nicholas Pileggi, Kip Konwiser
I viewed 1/07

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reign Over Me (2007) R - 3½ Stars

Adam Sandler plays an ex-dentist who has lost his mind after his wife and 3 children were killed in a plane crash. I'm pretty tired of all the silly Adam Sandler movies but he is really good in this role and gave me a new outlook on him. And of course Don Cheadle is just awesome in anything he does. This is a story of the friendship of two men who by chance meeting, find out how much they really need each other at this moment in their lives.

Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) lost everything, including his practice as a dentist, his entire family, and now even his mind. He's withdrawn from life, and most people, and has become a loner. By chance of fate, he is flagged down by an old college room mate Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) another successful dentist. Charlie is almost childlike and doesn't seem to remember a lot of details of the past as he has blanked out those memories from his mind. He rides a motorized scooter around town and eventually takes Alan for rides and exposes him to the fun side of himself. While Charlie is helping Alan realises what it means to be alive, Alan is desperately trying to help bring life back into Charlie.

Sony Pictures
Director: Mike Binder
Writer: Mike Binder
Producers:Michael Rotenberg, Jack Binder
I viewed 1/07

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

For All Mankind (1989) NR - 4½ Stars

WOW What a cool documentary. Yeah I know, a lot of you think we never made it to the moon. But for me, I remember vividly sitting there glued to the television set watching the moon landing and taping the whole broadcast with my tape cassette recorder. It was like, the entire nation and the world, stopped and watched every movement of the broadcast. Sort of like we used to when the first space shuttle went up. Now the are launched and half the nation or more could care a less or doesn't even know about it unless there is a tragedy. I'll tell ya, I would MUCH prefer to spend my tax dollars exploring other worlds and space then the waste it as we do here now with war. The documentary compiles actual footage taken from NASA's nine missions to the moon. I'm just printing up some of the review from Clarke Fountain as it sums up a little more about the film I wouldn't have known about. I'll volunteer on any mission they need a guinea pig. You can't get much higher than that!

"The footage was blown up to 35mm without a loss of visual quality. Many parts are narrated by the actual voices and words of the astronauts themselves. One reviewer called this "the most expensive film ever made," referring to the many billions of dollars that went into the moon landing program. This footage was extensively mined by Ron Howard for his (Apollo 13, so it may seem familiar. For All Mankind features a score by experimental rock composer Brian Eno." Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide.

1988 - For All Mankind - Sundance Film Festival - Grand Prize: Documentary.

Apollo Associates - FAM Productions
Director: Al Reinert
Producer: Betsy Broyles Breoer
I viewed 7/08

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Host (2006) R - 3 Stars

Man I love these Korean subtitled movies. Here's another one to see for fun. A fish like monster is created when a lab dumps chemicals into a Korea's River Han. The monster snatches a young girl and her family must unite to find and rescue her. I love the characters of this movie.

A monster is formed in Seoul Korea when a lab owner gets mad at his employee for dust on his lab bottles and tells him to pour every last one of the Formaldehyde bottles down the drain. They contaminate the water mutating the sea life.

A young girl (Hyun-seo), is with her father (Gang-du),a single parent, working with her grandfather (Hee-bong) at her families store on the river front. When a horrible slimy creature, crawls up on the banks and snatches victims along the way, (Hyun-seo), is taking while her family watches on. The family is quarantined as they have made contact with the creature, but with a little help they are able to escape. Their will to save (Hyun-seo) from her perils, drives them to unthinking measures to singlehandly hunt for her and try on the creature, to bring her back to safety. They are united with other family members, aunt (Nam-joo) a champion archer, and (Nam-il) her uncle.

Awards:

2006 - The Host - Blue Dragon Film Awards - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
2006 - The Host - Blue Dragon Film Awards - Technical Achievement
2006 - The Host - Blue Dragon Film Awards - Best Lighting
2006 - The Host - Blue Dragon Film Awards - Best New Actress
2006 - The Host - Blue Dragon Film Awards - Best Picture
2007 - The Host - Utah Film Critics - Best Non-English Language Feature

Magnolia Pictures
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Writers: Ha Jun-weon, Bong Joon-ho, Ha Joon-Won
Producers: Choi Yong-bae
I viewed 1/07

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Everything's Gone Green (2006) R - 2½ Stars

A young man trying to get a head legitimately, find everyone including his father growing pot and everyone trying to get a head. The movie takes place in Vancouver, the only town I could ever move to and be completely happy in the lush greenness. However, I didn't find it very funny, the story line was weak and the acting is not all that great. I guess you'll like it if you like Vancouver greenery, or your a stoner, if not, it's not a great pick.

Ryan (Paulo Costanzo) is beginning to think he comes from a family of losers. His father is growing pot in the basement, and his brother is scamming foreigners out of their money selling properties, the buyer will never see. But today is not a good day for Ryan. After loosing his job, he comes home to find his girlfriend has dumped him too. He's pushing 30 and finds employment with the lottery, writing about the lives of lottery winners. Along with their photograph, the winners are featured in the magazine. Ryan enrolls in a Mandarin language class and meets Ming (Steph Song). While trying to win over Ming from her current boyfriend Bryce, he pretends and starts to live the life style of a rich lottery winner. He needs to convince Ming to leave Bryce and how he really is a different person than he looks.

First Independent Picures
Director: Paul Fox
Writer: Douglas Coupland
Producers: Henrik Meyer, Elizabeth Yake, Chris Nanos
I viewed 1/07

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Divine Trash (1998) NR - 3 Stars

Wow, me a movie lover and I felt pretty naive after seeing this documentary as why I had not heard of John Waters before. Pink Flamingos doesn't show up at Blockbuster, so I will be on the hunt for a copy.

The documentary focuses on his early career of bad taste cult film making. He's famous in the underground midnight movie world for his shock value and pushing the envelope as far as he could. A pencil thin mustache adorned his top lip giving him a distinctive unique look.

From Baltimore, Maryland in 1972, Waters released the most important underground film ever made, Pink Flamingos. Waters managed to sell out almost all of his shows just by advertising his movies by word of mouth alone. As a child, Waters was obsessed with car crashes, storybook villains, and puppets and frequently ran many puppy shows at $25.00 a show. Not bad for a 10 year old. And when his parents asked therapists if it was normal for him to crash any new car or truck toy he was given, there merely replied, "if it makes him happy, let him."

The film interviews directors that inspired Waters and also those Waters has inspired with his films. Roman Candles, Mondo Trasho and Multiple Maniacs drove film censors like Mary Avara, crazy with what see called complete trash. When "Divine" (born Harris Glenn Milstea), stared in Pink Flamingos, she was involved in the infamous doggy-doo scene which Waters says is the first and last time it will ever be done. And there was no law against it. It also features other odd characters like the "egg lady", "talking asshole" and "mink stole" as well as his pretty straight and narrow parents. It was his father that loaned him the money to make Pink Flamingo, which neither parent ever want to see. His dad was also shocked that within a year, their son paid them back every dime.

1998 - Divine Trash - Sundance Film Festival - Filmmakers Trophy: Documentary.

Divine Trash Productions
Director: Steve Yeager
Writers: Kevin Heffernan, Steve Yeager
Producers: Cindy Miller, Steve Yeager
I viewed 7/08

Friday, July 11, 2008

Definitely, Maybe (2008) PG13 - 3 Stars

While the movie is cute and fairly well acted, I didn't find it all that funny.

Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) is a political consultant Manhattan dad going through a nasty divorce. His daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin), is trying to figure out why her father is not very happy. Though she is very sad over her parents breakup, she wants to know all about how her dad and mom first met. Will is reluctant to talk about his past with his 10 year old daughter, but she persists and finally he gives in.

This bed time story starts in 1992 when Will moves to New York from Wisconsin in order to work on the presidential campaign of Bill Clinton. Along the way he meets 3 very different type of women and explains his relationship with all of them to his daughter cause after all, she's just had a sex education class in school and now dad can discuss anything with her???

Universal Pictures
Director: Adam Brooks
Writer: Adam Brooks
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
I viewed 7/08