Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bangkok Dangerous (2008) R - 3½ Stars

The movie is a remake of a popular 1999 thriller directed by the same as the original. If you are looking for action, you will probably like the movie as I feel it has plenty of it. However, I don't think it's one of Cage's best. I'm not sure I was convinced of his "relationship" with the deaf girl. Other than her being kind to him, I don't think the story makes you feel the love for her. I do however feel, Cage's stiff performance does lead to his empty character, as an assassin with no feelings. To me, it's worth the price of a rental even though it won't win any awards. Filmed entirely on location in Bangkok.

Joe (Nicolas Cage), is a quiet, private loner with no friends or social life. His goal in life is his work as a ruthless assassin. He's been hired by crime boss Surat (Nirattisai Kaljaruek), to travel to Bangkok to eliminate 4 clients. One thing that makes his job easier, he never meets with the person who hires him, but receives his direction by messenger.

Once in Bangkok, Joe meets up with a hustler named Kong (Chakrit Yamnarm). Kong will do anything to try and make a quick buck and finally learns if he can just keep his mouth shut and just do what's asked, he has a good income coming from Joe. Kong's job as messenger, gets him close to a beautiful dancer where his messages come from. Joe also meets love, in a deaf woman, as he is about to end the life of his last client. Her innocence causes Joe to start feeling again which may cost him his life.

Directors: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun
Writer: Jason Richman
Producers: Nicolas Cage, Jason Shuman, William Sherak
I viewed 1/09

Friday, January 30, 2009

Righteous Kill (2008) R - 3½ Stars

The movie starts out a little slow for me but it sure ends a way I did not expect. DeNiro and Pacino have their way of playing characters with that mysterious touch into the dark side. Both give great performances where you're just not sure who's the good and the bad guy. The movie is not as good as I was hoping it would be with such big named header, but I did still enjoy it a DeNiro and Pacino can hold up on their own.

"Turk" (Robert De Niro), and "Rooster" (Al Pacino) are police detectives in New York and have worked together, as partners taking down the bad guys, for over 30 years. When a new set of murders start happening, they both agree this new "serial killer" targeting scumbags, should be thanked for getting the creeps off the street. But with each new murder, a four line poem is left, as if to justify the killing. Turk and Rooster have worked cases like this in the past and when it's determined the force has a vigilante on their team, the two go to great lengths to protect each others backs. Also starring, Det. Ted Riley (Donnie Wahlberg), Det. Simon Perez (John Leguizamo), and Spider (50 Cent).

Overture Films
Director: Jon Avnet
Writer: Russell Gewirtz
Producers: Avi Lerner, Lati Grobman, Jon Avnet
I viewed 1/09

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pineapple Express (2008) R - 2½ Stars

From the makers of Super Bad, which I thought was super bad, comes Pineapple Express, which I also think is not as bad but not all that great. Then again, I think most movies about smoking pot are way over exaggerated and bad, except of course for "Saving Grace" which was pretty damn funny. Okay back to this one. There are a few laughs but all and all, I thought it was pretty far fetched and not all that funny.

Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) is a process server who visits his local pot connection to score some weed to smoke while waiting to serve his next client. He shows up at Saul Silver (James Franco) apartment and Saul turns him on to some really good stuff called Pineapple Express. The two get high and Dale leaves with baggie in hand and off to the home of his new client. As he sits in front smoking a joint, a cop pulls up behind him. She enters the home and Dale proceeds to watch in horror as the officer and the occupant murder a man. Chucking his roach in the street, he has no one to flee to except Saul. Dale fears the murderer will find his roach and trace the "Pineapple Express" back to Saul so the two flee as they try to figure things out. Before long, they're running for their lives because of the Pineapple Express.

2008 - Pineapple Express - Austin Film Critics - Best Breakthrough Artist

Apatow Productions, Relativity Media, Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group
Director: David Gordon Green
Writers: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Producers: Shauna Robertson, Judd Apatow
I viewed 1/09

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Linewatch (2008) R - 3½ Stars

Seems like the movie is a bit low budget as I can't even find any images to go with it. The story line is somewhat predictable but Cuba does a great job as border patrol agent Dixon. The movie also shows some of the yahoo's patrolling the border without a badge, that just might be out there. Not the greatest but good action that kept me entertained. I think it was worth the rental.

Mike Dixon (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) used to be a gang member in the streets of Los Angeles. Now trying to escape his past, his new line of work has him watching the borders of New Mexico, as an agent for the U.S. Border Patrol.He's settled down and has a new life with his wife Angela (Sharon Leal) and daughter Emily. He now roams the desert canyons in search of paid coyotes making illegal crossings. Hot on their trail, he and his partner arrive at a trailer only to be ambushed. His partner takes a bullet at a trailer they are about to raid. Dixon recognises the last fleeing young man as his nephew (Evan Ross), doesn't shoot and allows him to escape with no mention of his discovery, when writing his report. His old gang, Drake (Omari Hardwick), Stokes (AMG), and others, get wind of it and decide to show up forcing Dixon to ignore his badge and aid them in some artillery smuggling. Drake sets up home with Angela while Dixon has no choice but to help them. Now, he must decide which side of the law he is on.

Sony Pictures
Director: Kevin Bray
Writer: David Warfield
Producers: Brad Krevoy, Reuben Liber, Karri O'Reilly
I viewed 1/09

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Education of Shelby Knox (2005) NR - 3 Stars

Though the documentary is a little slow in getting her point across, I must say I admire the courage of this young teenage girl, from an very religious Christian family, to become a political activist in an effort to bring sex education classes to high schools. Though her parents try to stand behind her having her own opinions, they do not want her to stray away from the strong religious values she was brought up with. I like the fact that as Shelby becomes more involved with meeting people of different sexual orientation, she opens herself up to gay rights and begins to question her strict religious beliefs.

Shelby Knox is a teenage girl growing up in Lubbock, Texas. She has taken a vow of abstaining from sex till marriage. However, Lubbock Texas has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and Shelby tries to make light of why that is. There is no sexual education on the high school as most of the town believes that should be something the parents are responsible for. But when pregnant girls fill the class rooms are pretty much go unnoticed, she decides to do something to change it.

2005 - The Education of Shelby Knox - Sundance Film Festival - American Excellence in Cinematography Award (Documentary)

Directors: Rose Rosenblatt, Tiffany Shlain, Marion Lipschutz
Producers: Marion Lipschutz, Rose Rosenblatt
I viewed 1/09

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Duchess (2008) PG13 - 4 Stars

A powerful performance by Kinghtley and Fiennes. It's easy to see why both are nominated for Academy Awards. The setting and 18th century costumes are exquisite. Very powerful story about the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and the controversy surrounding them, showing the oppression of the women in that time period. Should probably be an "R" rating as a lot of sexual expression going on.

Georgiana Cavendish Spencer (Keira Knightley), is ecstatic to learn that the Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes), one of the most powerful rulers in England, is interested in marry her after only meeting her two times. It's everything Georgiana has dreamed of and moving into Devonshire, she soon becomes England's "It Girl" with her wit and charm. Her social style has her instantly excepted into British high society. It seems, everyone who meets her is in love with the Duchess except for her husband.

The Duke, is distant and cold to her, and at every given opportunity seems to try and make arrangements for sex from other women. He is unhappy with Georgiana, as she is yet to birth a live heir, instead only offering two girls. As Georgiana becomes more lonely, she befriends Lady Bess Foster (Hayley Atwell) who has been beaten and left alone by her husband, who now keeps Bess's sons from seeing their mother. It's agreed with the Duke that Bess will stay at Devonshire.

Earl Grey (Dominic Cooper), a political activist has admired the Duchess and in need of male companionship, Georgiana becomes quite active promoting his causes. So much so, she has fantasized about their being together. When she confronts him on his feelings, the two soon find themselves in each others arms, experiencing the passion she has never felt with her husband. Meanwhile, back in Devonshire, the Duke and Lady Bess have made arrangements of their own. She declares to her husband her acceptance of Bess while she pursues the love she's been lacking, with Earl. Now, this bitter love triangle must be kept under wraps to avoid any scandal.

2008 - The Duchess - Phoenix Film Critics Association - Best Costume Design

Paramount Vantage
Directors: Susanne Bier, Saul Dibb
Writers: Saul Dibb, Anders Thomas Jensen, Jeffrey Hatcher
Producers: Carolyn Marks-Blackwood, Michael Kuhn, Gabrielle Tana
I viewed 1/09

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Eagle Eye (2008) PG13 - 4½ Stars

Wow, what an intense action packed movie. I love it when my heart races while watching a movie and this one can really raise your adrenalin. The ending was not as exciting as the beginning for me, but all and all, I really liked this movie. It could be also because of my love for computers and their capabilities, sometimes scary. I definitely don't want to spoil too much about this one but will be adding this one to my collection.

Your local ATM machine tells you you're rich, it starts spitting out large withdrawals of cash, you run for home only to find it filled with enough firearms and bomb making ingredients to definitely you'll never be able to explain, and as your cell phone rings, it's a woman's voice telling you to leave your apartment within 30 seconds or you'll be arrested. Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) has a lot to take in and by the time he's ready to flee, it's too late and he is arrested as a terrorist. Enter Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton) who thinks the F.B.I. has just landed a cut and dry case. That is till a signed authorized fax comes through allowing Jerry one phone call which puts him in a room alone with a telephone. On the other end, the woman's voice commanding him to "DUCK."

Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) is a recently separated single mom who's out on the town for the night with her girlfriends. She receives a phone call on her cell from a voice telling her to go outside and get into a certain car with keys waiting inside. And if she does not comply, they show her pictures of her son, who she has just put on a train to Washington D.C., and tells her if she ever wants to see him alive, start driving.

With an entire police for after them, Jerry runs to the awaiting car, driven by Rachel and together these two strangers will find themselves running from the law and placed in increasingly dangerous situations, all being commanded by this woman's voice and her seemingly supernatural powers. The two must fight to stay alive, while preforming unthinkable acts of crimes and all the time not knowing why they are doing it. But they realise it's something huge, when they are on their way to the White House where every body in the Presidential Cabinet, will be attending.

Paramount Pictures
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writers: John Glenn, Dan McDermott, Hillary Seitz
Producers: Patrick Crowley, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
I viewed 1/09

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rendition (2007) R - 3½ Stars

Very intense movie I'm close to giving 4 Stars. I 'm also wondering if this movie has any truth behind it. People disappear all the time from kidnappings and I wouldn't be surprised to find our government involved somehow like this. Great performances from an award winning cast who's lives intertwine when one man disappears from the radar, on his way home from Africa. There's a lot going on in this movie and my review is the short version.

Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) has just finished a conference in South Africa, about to return to the United States, and his very pregnant wife Isabella (Reese Witherspoon). Anwar, born in Egypt and a chemical engineer, lands in the U.S., when he is whisked away and taken blindfold to an unknown location. As Isabella and her son realise dad did not come off the plane, she checks with the airlines who have no knowledge of his flight. Anwar has disappeared and Isabella turns to the only friend she knows with any authority, Alan Smith (Peter Sarsgaard), the assistant to a U.S. Senator Hawkins (Alan Arkin), as she thinks he can help her.

Corrinne Whitman (Meryl Streep), gives the order to handle the situation when she learns of Anwar's possible link to terrorism. CIA analyst Douglas Freeman (Jake Gyllenhaal), arrives at the interrogation of Anwar only to realise he may not be cut out for this job. He can't believe the unorthodox methods being used in an attempt to gain information from Anwar. When he realises, Anwar has nothing to tell, he quickly plans his next move to try and free him.

New Line Cinema
Director: Gavin Hood
Writer: Kelley Sane
Producers: Steve Golin, Marcus Viscidi
I viewed 1/09

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The House Bunny (2008) PG13 - 3½ Stars

Okay I have to confess, I really thought this was a cute and funny movie. Anna Faris has one hot body, and plays the perfect bimbo with a brain and heart. She puts the sex appeal back into the loosers at Zeta sorority house, where now everyone who's no one, wants to join.

Shelley (Anna Faris) has lived as a bunny in the Playboy mansion for the last 9 years. As she just celebrates her 27th birthday. her dreams of becoming Miss Centerfold are quickly drying up as she receives a letter from Hef, telling her to pack her bags and leave. One of the other devious bunnies wants the next centerfold position, and writes Shelley the fake eviction notice.

With no where else to go, Shelley shows up on the door steps of a Los Angeles town sorority, Zeta House. The girls of the house are in desperate need of a house mother to raise spirits and pledges in order to save their failing sorority. Shelley teaches them that all girls have a little of the bunny inside of them, and together they make Zeta the most happening sorority on campus.

Sony Pictures Releasing
Director: Fred Wolf
Writers: Karen McCullah Lutz, Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith
Producers: Allen Covert, Jack Giarraputo, Adam Sandler
I viewed 1/09

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Solaris (2002) PG13 - 2½ Stars

The part of the movie I liked was Solaris in the background. It reminded me of one of those electro static balls that when you touch it, it attracts to your hand. I do think Jeremy Davies is great in his role as Snow and even Clooney is good in his role, but the whole movie is pretty slow. it's more about the conflicts he has inside with his wife's suicide and the planets ability to his memories into the flesh. But I don't think the movie explains anything. Why are they there in the first place? Why are only two alive? I dunno, it's just not the greatest of story lines.

Dr. Chris Kelvin, (George Clooney) is married to his wife Rheya (Natascha McElhone) till one day she has an abortion without telling him. When he discovers the truth, he's very hurt and walks out. As he comes to his senses and returns to their home, he finds Rheya has taken her own life, an image that haunts him. His life has become meaningless and routine, seeing his patients as a psychologist until one day he is asked to travel to the Prometheus space station orbiting Solaris, a mission he was once a part of, to try and figure out why the crew is being driven mad.

Once aboard the ship the only crew members he can find are Dr. Helen Gordon (Viola Davis), who has locked herself in her room, and Snow (Jeremy Davies) who has apparently lost most of his mind rambling on and offering no answers. His close friend Gibarian, the commander of the mission, has taken his own life and he is their to find out why. The first night asleep in Prometheus, Kelvin is awoken to the image of his lovely wife. As he knows this can not be, he lures her to the escape pod and sends her image back to space. However, the next night as he sleeps, she comes back more realistic than ever. Now with his mind and Solaris playing tricks on him, he must decide if he takes the escape bag back to Earth with Gordon, or live in the fantasy where he feels the safest.

Lightstorm Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Steven Soderbergh
Producers: James Cameron, Rae Sanchini, Jon Landau
I viewed 1/09

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ripple Effect (2008) R - 2½ Stars

They say that everything happens for a reason. That one change in a plan can have a rippling effect throughout everything else it touches. That is the main point behind the film. Unfortunately the movie's direction gets lost and is slow paced in bringing the two men together. But, Forest Whitaker just viciously attacks any role he takes on, as well as Madsen and Driver, but I didn't feel the connection until almost the end of the movie. I guess it's hard to write, direct, produce and star in your own movie. However, the movie does make a strong point for me that, sometimes you go looking for what you think matters in life without realising you're not living in the day - today, it just was not executed well.

Amer Atrash (Philippe Caland) is a clothing designer from Lebanon that came to American to live out his dream on a 90 day Visa Pass. He's living the American dream with a nice house, lovely wife Sherry (Virginia Madsen), and his daughter Charlie. He's so close to making it big time, but hasn't slept right for the last 15 years. The vision of hitting a man Phillip Blackman (Forest Whitaker), leaving him in a wheelchair, haunts him and he feels he is being punished now, when his business and personal life are having problems. He finally admits his sin to his wife who is on the verge of leaving him as she feels extremely lonely and neglected by him.

He sets out to find Phillip and confess his tragic story to him in hopes of forgiveness. Kitty (Minnie Driver), is Phillip's wife and sings in a local bar. After the set, she lures a man to come home with her an her husband in order to pleasure her since her husband can not any longer. Amer, is brought back to the home but he's not looking for sex with Kitty, but to confess to Phillip. After being thrown out of the home by Kitty from rejection, he quietly waits outside till he can find the time to approach Phillip and finally does as Phillip is teaching students about certain manifestations we have no control over. It is then, he breaks down to Phillip and tells him of what he has done and he does not understand the meaning of life anymore - how can Phillip be so happy and calm while a prisoner of his wheelchair. As the two become closer, they both realise that fateful day, 15 years ago, happens for exactly the right reasons.

Monterey Media, YBG Productions
Director: Philippe Caland
Writer: Philippe Caland
Producer: Philippe Caland
I viewed 1/09

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Breakfast on Pluto (2005) R - 3 Stars

A little slow to the lead in, you do finally feel a connection to "Kitten" in her struggle of acceptance with her feminine side. She's on a quest to find her mother and her own identity. The characters are truly likable and though all have their own skeletons, you can't help but feel for their plight. The cute talking birds at the beginning and end of the movie are an added touch to the fairy tale story of rags to riches. I don't really understand the titles name, as I heard it once just in passing but I've yet to realise it's meaning. The movie does seem extra long at over 2 hours.

In 1970, Patrick Braden (Conor McEvoy), was abandoned by his mother at the church doorsteps of Father Bernard (Liam Neeson). He's not eager to comply with normal boy tendencies and can be found a lot trying on make up and women's clothing. His feminine side was taking control and though not excepted by Father Bernard, his charm and wit carried him through the criticisms.

As Patrick (Cillian Murphy) grew, he changed his name, reflecting his exaggerated feminine side, to "Kitten." She feels the need to continue looking for her mother and finding out who she is suppose to become. Her first of many stops sees her in an affair with Billy Hatchet (Gavin Friday), a member of the Irish Republican Army. She loves the rebellious side of her coming out and thinks this is the stimulation she's looking for. But when a friend is killed in one of the bombings, she retreats to London to continue her quest. But after her getting her ass kicked, she has no where to go but a coffee house to regroup. There she meets Bertie (Stephen Rea), a magician, he develops an interest watching her. Down on her luck, Bertie feels her suffering and offers her a place to stay. At one of his shows, he hypnotizes her and she becomes an instant audience favorite, so he writes her into acts. Just as she starts to feel a sense of belonging, Kitten will find her real family is back in Ireland and returns to father Bernard.

2005 - Breakfast on Pluto - National Board of Review - Special Mention for Excellence in FilmmakingSony Pictures Classics
Director: Neil Jordan
Writers: Neil Jordan, Patrick McCabe
Producers: Francois Invernel, Cameron McCracken, Brendan McCarthy (II), Stephen Woolley, Alan Moloney, Neil Jordan
I viewed 10/08

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Red Water (2003) R - 2½ Stars

You know, it could have been worse and hey Coolio is in itl. And the shark effects are no that bad either. Heck I almost gave it a 3 but it's a pretty cheesy plot with pretty cheesy acting. Still, it held my attention and even made me almost jump once. I must say that it's probably one of the best acting jobs I've seen from Lou Diamond Phillips. But you didn't get much action out of the shark at all. The film debuted on TBS, thus explaining the long pauses for commercial breaks.

A shark is attacking in the strangest of places, the bayous of the Mississippi river in Louisiana. Sanders (Lou Diamond Philips), runs a charter boat to make a living on the river and gets a request from his ex Kelly (Kristy Swanson) to take his boat to thw Wildlife Reservation where she and her company are drilling for oil. She knows Sanders is in need of some extra money to pay off his boat/home. Kelly needs his expertise to help the drilling rig that has hit a snag and not going anywhere, though all signs lead to a mother load of crude. Though he's against the idea, he really has no choice as he is on the verge of loosing his boat from late payments.

Meanwhile Ice (Coolio), Jerry (Jaimz Woolvett), and Brett (Langley Kirkwood)are diving the same area looking for a treasure pay load that has been buried in the river for 5 years. They just so happened to be diving right next to the drilling rig. When a huge bull shark, that can survive in fresh water, enters the river, body parts start flying. The good guys get taken hostage from the bad guys as the rig is about to blow. Everyone gets chucked in and as the red water settles, Coolio gets to meet the shark up close and personal. Will anyone survive the red bull?

Columbia TriStar, Sony Pictures Television
Director: Charles Robert Carner
Writer: J.D. Feigelson
Producer: Mitch Engel
I viewed 12/08

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hamburger Hill (1987) R - 4 Stars

OMG Don Cheadle is so young in this movie along with some of the other actors. Perhaps this is where they got their start. What I really liked about this movie was is it felt real. It's not an Apocalypse Now, Platoon, or Full Metal Jacket action production but more a realistic look at the ugliness of war. Based on the true story of faithful soldiers in 1969, who did the impossible taking over Hill 937 in the Ashua Valley of Vietnam as instructed. Their commanding orders, "Just get up that hill," the infamous hill would better be known as Hamburger Hill due to the massive carnage from both sides, strewn all over it. For all the men that just died, the media parades up the hillside to document, as if they've earned the right for the freedom to pass, because men had just lost their lives for. 70% of the 101st Airborne Division lost their lives, in the 10 day blood bath to overcome the hill. The Vietcong refused to surrender and most lost their lives trying to stand off to each other. Sadly, after their conquest of the hill, it was abandoned with little use to anyone.

Soldiers include Langulli - Vincent (Anthony Barrile) Washburn, (Don Cheadle), McDanile (Don James), Galvin (M.A. Nickles), Motown (Michael Boatman), Murphy (Michael Dolan), Duffy (Harry O'Reilly) and Sgt. Frantz (Dylan McDermott).

Paramount Pictures
Director: John Irvin
Writer: Jim Carabatsos
Producers: Jim Carabatsos, Larry de Waay, David Korda
I viewed 12/08

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Blueberry Nights (2008) PG13 - 3 Stars

A very simple story of love, finding yourself and moving on in relationships, be it love, friendships or family. How sometimes you have to leave your own skin, in order to find out that what you are searching for is right in front of you. The old spin at wanting something you didn't before but just realising it once it's gone. Produced in Hong Kong, it could have been a little more indept into each characters plight in order to understand them better but still worth a rental.

Elizabeth (Norah Jones) has just discovered the man she is in love with is with another woman. She seeks information from Jeremy (Jude Law) who owns a local dinner that her "ex" has visited with his new woman. Jeremy himself has given up on love as he has his own relationship woes. Blueberry pie sits proudly but unclaimed in the freezer cabinet and Lizzy decides to try a piece as to not let the pie feel alone as well. She discovers she likes it and it's worthy, just like she is. But she must find a way to mend her broken heart and abruptly leaves town after visiting the diner regularly. Jeremy finds he is missing her after she's left.

Lizzy buses her way across town, taking waitress and bar jobs to save up money to get her where she's going. Problem is she doesn't know where that is. Along the way she befriends people like Arnie Copeland (David Strathairn), a cop by day and a drunk by night a sweet man still in love with his wife Sue Lynne (Rachel Weisz) though she feels trapped by him and does everything to get away. And then Leslie (Natalie Portman) a good looking gambler that thinks she can read everyone but can't seem to get in touch with herself. But the grass is not always greener on the other side and she returns to her love of Blueberry Pie with the man that's been waiting for her.

The Weinstein Company
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Writers: Lawrence Block, Wong Kar-Wai
Producers: Wong Kar-Wai, Wang Wei, Jacky Pang
I viewed 12/08

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Riding in Cars With Boys (2001) PG13 - 3½ Stars

I just love Drew Barrymore in most everything she does and this movie is no exception. It's a great coming of age story that shares the missed dreams, mistakes and opportunities of a young girl who becomes pregnant at 15. The movie takes place in Connecticut in the 1950's, where such things were not discussed much.

Beverly Donofrio (Drew Barrymore) has big plans of attending college in New York and becoming a famous writer. Growing up, her father (James Woods)used to take her for rides in his police car. One Christmas when the only thing she wants in life is a bra, her father refuses to get it for her and she starts to write that's what probably screwed her up in life.

About to be 16, with active hormones erupting, she soon finds herself imaging the love she feels for the local jock at school. When she hears of a party he will be attending, she makes a point of expressing herself to him. But instead of the effects she had rehearsed, he humiliates her, causing her to make a scene. Instead, Ray Hasek (Steve Zahn), who's admired her from afar, comes to her defense. Eager to get her mind off the jock, Ray takes her for a ride in his car. The two begin to make out with one thing leads to another until her cop "on-duty" father pulls her from the car. Weeks later and no easy way to tell her parents, she informs them of her pregnancy.

But Beverly is still determined to go to college even as her family wants to lock her away from the world from their embarrassment. The only thing to be done is to get married. At her wedding, her father shuns her making her feel the shame she has brought to him. Even with the odds against her, she is still determined to finish high school and get excepted into college.

Her goal is fading from view as she watches her husband Ray strung out, wasting away on his addiction to heroin. She must make the hard choice of leaving Ray to become a teenage single parent. Years later, with her son fully grown, she finally realises all she's dreamed of has been in front of her all this time.

Sony Pictures International, Sony Pictures Releasing
Director: Penny Marshall
Writers: Morgan Upton, Morgan Ward
Producers: Julie Ansell, Richard Sakai, Sara Colleton
I viewed 12/08

Friday, January 9, 2009

Canadian Bacon (1994) R - 3 Stars

Always loving John Candy, I decided to rent this one for a good laugh. It's not "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" but it does still have a few good laughs. I was surprised to see Michael Moore directing it but it's his way of showing the obsession America has with its military power and strength.

The U.S. president (Alan Alda) sees his ratings dropping as well as everything else in his economy. If he could only find a country that's the enemy of the U.S., he could prove himself by exercising his military strength while saving his people from this evil.

Niagara Falls sheriff, Bud Boomer (John Candy), along with his Deputy Honey (Rhea Perlman), are doing what they normally do, patrol the area for suicide jumpers. The one highlight of the night is a hockey game in Canada, where he starts a brawl when he makes a remark about Canadian beer. When the National Security Advisor for the U.S., Stuart Smiley (Kevin Pollak), reports back to the president about a terrible fight he'd just seen at the hockey game, the president looks at it as an opportunity to declare war. Boomer unintentionally starts of the coldest war with Canada, America's ever seen.

Propaganda Films, Imprint Entertainment
Director: Michael Moore
Writer: Michael Moore
Producers: Freddy de Mann, Steve Golin, David Brown
I viewed 12/08

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wanted (2008) R - 4 Stars

Pretty good special effects, my favorite being the power to bend your bullets around the corner in order to hit a hidden target behind. Mind over matter, this selective group of super humans, are here to carry out fate. If you like action movies, with things that blow up, this is one most definitely is for you.

Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is a 25 year old, empty shell of a man. Working at a job where his boss constantly humiliates him, he manages to hold his cool. Even when his girlfriend repeatedly cheats on him ,with one of his co-workers, he still pretends it's not happening. Excepting his non existence of a life, he doesn't care when he learns his father was brutally assassinated. Never knowing the man through his youth, he is suddenly being watched by a secret society, run by their leader Sloan (Morgan Freeman), known as the Fraternity. All members of the Fraternity hold supernatural powers, have no fears and with their immortal abilities, have been turned into the elimination team, selecting their next victims by chances of fate woven into a cloth.

When the gorgeous sexy, Fox (Angelina Jolie), exposes herself to Wesley, he allows her to take him under her wing, unleashing the powers within him. The training is brutal but Wesley is metamorphosed from his low self esteem to powers found even greater than his father. Before long, he has mastered the ability to dismantle the bad guys as he grows to enjoy all the strength, respect and power he's ever needed. But as his powers enhance, the more he begins to realize the Fraternity is not all that it's cracked up to be. He won't need a teacher to show him what his true calling will be.

Universal Pictures
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writers: Michael Brandt, Chris Morgan, Derek Haas
Producers: Jason Netter, Iain Smith, Jim Lemley
I viewed 12/08

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Dark Knight (2008) PG13- 4 Stars

Heath Ledger is awesome in his loony role as he Joker. Appropriately named, with great special effects and while I enjoyed the movie a lot, I find it hard to consider it yet another in the Batman series. I guess I've grown up with the Batman image of being the good guy saving the city. But he's made out to be such a dark empty character with his morals hanging by a thread, perhaps this is where the future of our expectations is headed.

Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) seem to have Gotham City under control until a rising criminal and wisecracking mastermind, known as the Joker (Heath Ledger), make it his mission to cause utter chaos in the streets of Gotham. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale), is called into duty, but this time even he will find he's forced to cross the fine line of vigilante and hero. Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who he's still in love with, now rides the arm of Lt. Gordon and Bruce will learn that even a superhero can't always fix everything trying to restore order.

Awards include:

2008 - The Dark Knight - Austin Film Critics - Best Picture
2008 - The Dark Knight - Dallas/Ft. Worth Film Critics - Best Cinematography
2008 - The Dark Knight - Detroit Film Critics Society - Best Supporting Actor

Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Producers: Emma Thomas, Charles Roven, Christopher Nolan
I viewed 12/08

Monday, January 5, 2009

Smoke (1995) R - 3½ Stars

Now here's an unusual little movie with a great cast of strong performances. If you are looking for that adrenaline rush, this won't be your movie but more, it's the touching story of the bond of friendship within usual people that make up our world, and their daily struggles at life. Everyone connects to each others life just the way they need to.

Auggie Wren (Harvey Keitel) lives and owns a cigar shop in the center of his world in Brooklyn NY. Every day over the last many years, at precisely 8:00 am, he snaps a photo in black and white of his corner store, to capture the people who enter his world. One of his regular customers and friend is Paul Benjamin (William Hurt) who's life has been turned upside down ever since his wife was killed, along with their unborn child, in front of the store.

Paul, a writer, walks around in his fog and walks in front of oncoming traffic when he's pulled to safety by Rashid (Harold Perrineau, Jr.). Rashid is on the streets as he refuses to live with his overbearing aunt, and is desperately searching for his father. Paul feels the need to repay Rashid for saving his life and invites him to stay for a few days, almost becoming his temporary dad. While the two become closer, the distraction is too much for Paul to handle while he tries to complete his novel. So instead, Rashid is once again on the streets in search of his father. His trail leads him to Cyrus Cole (Forest Whitaker) who owns and operates an out of the way gas station in the middle of nowhere. As he studies Cyrus, he knows this is the man he has been looking for. But when he sees Cyrus already has a new family and son he feels he probably has little need for him. In order to stay close to his father in any way possible, he snags a job with him helping out around the station.

Meanwhile, back at the cigar store Paul runs into his ex girlfriend Ruby (Stockard Channing), who needs money in order to help out what might be his drug addicted daughter Felicity (Ashley Judd). Paul feels the need to help eventually leading all of their lives to somewhat interconnect allowing each of them to discover the true meaning in theirs lives.

1995 - Smoke - Berlin International Film Festival - Silver Bear - Special Jury Prize
1995 - Smoke - Independent Spirit Awards - Best First Screenplay

Miramax Films
Director: Wayne Wang
Writer: Paul Auster
Producers: Greg Johnson, Peter Newman, Diana Phillips
I viewed 12/08

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Traitor (2008) PG13 - 4 Stars

It was very strange watching Don Cheadle play the bad guy. He's just such a great and divisive actor, he had me believing he was a bad guy though we usually see him in roles of good. Pretty scary and intense look at living in today's world of terrorism with it's determined terrorists devotedly awaiting their turn at ignition. Sorry for the short review but you can't say much about the story without giving too much away. I do think it warrants an "R" rating though.

Former U.S. Special Operations officer, Samir Horn (Don Cheadle), makes it to the top of the U.S. F.B.I.'s most wanted list. He's become involved with helping terrorists learn how to build proper detonators for the bombs they plan against innocent civilians. FBI agent Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) heads up the investigation to bring him down.

Overture Films
Director: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Writer: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Producers: Todd Lieberman, Todd Liberman, Don Cheadle
I viewed 12/08

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Raisin in the Sun (2008) NR - 5 Stars

OMG what a fantastic version of the epic classic by Lorraine Hansbury's. Academy award performances by all in this made for television movie, featuring some of the original Broadway cast. I bought it used for a Christmas present for one of my relatives and decided to take a sneak preview before I gave it. Well sorry cousin Bob, it's now in my collection of great movies.

It's the 1950's and an African American family huddled together under one roof in Chicago, has lost the pillar of the family, Walter Lee senior. As his widow Lena Younger (Phylicia Rashad) eagerly awaits the $10,000.00 insurance check, the family dreams of finding a better way to get ahead in life.

Walter Lee Jr. (Sean "P. Diddy" Combs), wants to take the money and invest in a liquor store that he's learned other brothers have risen to the top from. He's a dreamer and can't stand one more day of working as a chauffeur for an over pompous white man. He hears of a deal to invest in the store in order to end his families woes of poverty. His wife Ruth (Audra McDonald), works from the home as a servant doing laundry for a white family. Free spirited Beneatha (Sanaa Lathan), is Walter's sister also living under the roof, and she strives for more by attending school to become a doctor. She's confident that her mother Ruth will save some of the inheritance money for her college fund. Beneatha seems to have the best chance to make in out in the big world and is being pursued by two different men, George Murchison (Sean Patrick Thomas), the rich but extremely superficial snappy dresser and classmate Joseph Asagai (David Oyelowo) who allows her to explore her inner child while teaching her about Africa.

Walter Jr's obsession of his investment dreams is taking it's tole on the family where Ruth now has thoughts of aborting her recently found out pregnancy. The two move farther apart from each other as Walter feels he has nothing else to live for without his dreams. As Lena can see what pain her son is going through, she entrusts part of the money with him to make a partial investment, while putting the other half away for his sister's fund. Instead, Walter looses all the money getting foolishly swindled, severely hurting his mother. But at least Lena had done one good thing with part of the money. She bought the family a new home in the better part of town smack dab in the middle of an extremely white and prejudice neighborhood.

Mr. Linder (John Stamos) is on the committee to encourage the family to sell their home and move somewhere else where they would be more suited. In other words, away from the whites. The family now dealing with their savings gone, a new pregnancy and a college fund giving away, must find the courage to rise up and take what's rightfully theirs.

Sony Pictures, Storyline Entertainment
Director: Kenny Leon
Writer: Paris Qualles
Producer: John M. Eckert
I viewed 12/08

Friday, January 2, 2009

East of Eden (1955) NR - 4 Stars

Gosh, all this time and this is my first James Dean movie. Now I see why his name is still a hot topic today since with his short life and tragic death. I found an old photo of my dad that looks just like him. I guess he was quite the looker in his day too. Old movie but pretty risque movie for it's day and age. Timeless in innocence and a must see at least once in your lifetime. It's one of the only movies James Dean ever made.

In 1917, on a Salinas, California lettuce producing farm, two brothers Cal (James Dean) and Aron Trask (Dick Davalos) struggle hard to please their very religious father Adam (Raymond Massey). Both have been told that their mother has died and their focus should be on the lord and the blessed bounty their farm can produce.

Aron leads the model life for his father, helping on the farm and courting a lovely young girl named Abra (Julie Harris) who dad approves of. On the other hand is Cal, who has always been known as the bad sibling to his father as his free willed spirit can not allow him to focus. Adam has invested his life savings into his adaptation of transporting his lettuce east via train, packed on ice to insure freshness. But his idea fails, leaving train cars of soaked ruined lettuce, crushing his dreams as well.

Meanwhile, Cal has been watching a mysterious madam in town, Kate (Jo Van Fleet), as he feels a connection to her since she leads a sinful life too. He sneaks in to meet her to confirm his suspicions that she must be his mother. After telling his brother the truth about their mother, he forces Aron to confront her too. Resembling the biblical Cain and Abel, the two brothers come to blows as Cal proves Kate is their mother.

The sheriff Sam (Burl Ives), believes in Cal when no others can, he tells him the way to make money now is by growing beans. The war is on and Aron leaves to serve his country while Cal stays and invests in a bean crop with money he borrowed from his mom. All he can think of is getting the money back for his father loss, so his dad will see the good in him too. He didn't expect to win the heart of Aron's girlfriend Abra. With the family coming apart at the seams, Adam suffers a stroke rendering him useless. It's up to Cal to do what needs to be done to finally prove himself to his dad.

1955 - East of Eden - Cannes Film Festival - International Prize For Best Dramatic Film
1955 - East of Eden - Golden Globe - Best Picture - Drama
1955 - East of Eden - Golden Globe - Special Achievement

Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Elia Kazan
Writer: Paul Osborn
Producer: Elia Kazan
I viewed 12/08

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Mamma Mia! (2008) PG13 - 3½ Stars

Okay men are going to definitely label this one a chick flick but it really is a fun musical for all. It's playful, Meryl Streep is very good and the movie is done quite nicely. The music is all enjoyable with many good songs I hadn't heard in a while. Sure it's hammy in parts, but it's a musical so everything is over exaggerated. It's not going to make it to my personal collection, but still an enjoyable watch.

Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), is getting married and yearns to have her father walk her down the isle and give her away. Problem is, her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) was a free loving yet rebellious teenager and three different men could fit this bill. Sophie secretly invites the three men, Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth), and Bill (Stellan SkarsgÄrd), to her wedding as guests of her mother. The three arrive and Sophie must hide them, while trying to uncover her true roots, before her mother knows there here. Too late, the cat is out of the bag and Mamma is having to do some double stepping. But eventually all will work out and Donna will learn it's never too late for love.

Universal Pictures
Director: Phyllida Lloyd
Writer: Catherine R. Johnson
Producers: Gary Goetzman, Judy Craymer
I viewed 12/08