Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Empire (2002) R - 4 Stars

I really like movies starring John Leguizamo, not because I think he's a great actor, but his movies are usually right up my alley. He does a real good job playing a powerful Latino drug dealer from the Bronx, trying to give up selling drugs in exchange for playing with the big boys on Wall Street. It seems the grass is not always greener on the other side when Leguizamo finds out the hard way he's been scammed. I think Leguizamo's personal commentary throughout the film, works really well. The critics didn't like this movie much but I for one, strongly disagree. Have we seen this type of movie before? - Yes. Is it fairly predictable in many ways? - Yes. Is it entertaining and one great seductive psychological thriller? - YES!

Victor Rosa (John Leguizamo) considers himself an entrepreneur / businessman, while making cash selling a heroin mixed drug cocktail, he's aptly named, "Empire." The money is excellent and has given Victor the power and respect of the neighborhood. Basically he's a good guy that doesn't try to screw people over. Life is good for Victor and he's just bought his fiancee Carmen (Delilah Cotto), an expensive gift of diamonds. But Victor yearns to take his street smart talent for making money, to a higher legitimate business so he can be proud of what he does.

Carmen, a Baruch College student, has a friend at school named Trish (Denise Richards), and as the two start becoming close, Trish invites Carmen, and her fiancee, to a fabulous party her boyfriend Jack Wimmer (Peter Sarsgaard), is throwing for the upper elite. Victor and Jack hit it off and as they talk shop, Jack invites Victor to join in on a "sure deal" investment. Victor is eager to get to the next financial stage of his life and easily comes up with the million that's needed to buy in. In no time, Jack produces results with the money and Victor is convinced he's found a way to go legit. But as Jack entices Victor into the next business venture, it's more money than even Victor has and he must turn to drug dealer La Columbiana (Isabella Rossellini), for a loan. You better know what you're doing getting yourself into a deal with La Columbiana, as she is the last person you want to double cross. Victor gets the money to Jack, only to learn the next morning, Jack has taking him to the cleaners and left town. Now Victor, confronted with a high price tag to repay, must track Jack down to settle the score.

Arenas Entertainment, Universal Pictures
Director: Franc Reyes
Writer: Franc Reyes
Producers: Daniel Bigel, Michael Mailer
I viewed 3/09

Monday, March 30, 2009

Four Sheets to the Wind (2007) R - 2 Stars

One of the few films about and cast with American Indians it gives a combination of laughter and sadness and enormous sociocultural interest. I think the movie could have been so much better. It's not the low budget production as I thought that was done nicely with the money spent. However, the films direction, wasn't enough to keep me involved in the players lives.

Cufe Smallhill (Cody Lightning), is a Native America living on a reservation with his father in Holdenville, Oklahoma. When he finds his fathers dead body next to a pile of sleeping pills, he needs to make sure he honors his dad's wish by sinking his body in the family pond on the reservation. But traditional values lean towards putting dad in a normal coffin with a proper ceremony so Cufe is forced to load a donated coffin with watermelons and weights in order to fool. Instead with the help of some friends, Cufe fills the coffin with Registered Seminole who's part Creek, honors his fathers last wish when he finds his dead body. Dad's wishes were to be submerged in the pond. Cufe goes to Tulsa to spend time with his sister, Miri (Tamara Podemski). While knocking on her door, Miri comes in contact with Francie (Laura Bailey), one of Miri's neighbors. As the two become close, Cufe is beginning to think he life is turning around. But as he sees his sister's city life has her running around with different men and drinking all the time, he struggles to decide which of his lives are better.

2007 - Four Sheets to the Wind - Sundance Film Festival - Special Jury Prize for Acting

Indion Film, First Look
Director: Sterlin Harjo
Writer: Sterlin Harjo
Producers: Chad Burris, Ted Kroeber
I viewed 3/09

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Snow Buddies (2008) G - 3½ Stars

If you have kids, you know Disney movies and just can't go wrong if a heartfelt adventure is in order. Snow buddies is no exception and you'll fall in love with these adorable K9's. The movie teaches kids the values of being kind to animals and pets. Good family adventure for all ages.

The cute and cuddly puppies from Air Buddies, Rosebud, Buddha, Budderball, B-Dawg, and Mudbud, find themselves in a new adventure in the icy world of Alaska. While looking for a tasty ice cream treat, they become locked in a container headed for Alaska. Here they meet new friends like a malamute named Shasta, and compete in a sled race and win. But it's not all fun and games as the puppies need to find their way back home.

Disney Studios
Director: Robert Vince
Writers: Robert Vince, Anna McRoberts
Producers: Robert Vince, Anna McRoberts
I viewed 3/09

Friday, March 27, 2009

Poison Ivy 4: The Secret Society (2008) NR - 2½ Stars

Made for TV, this is yet another loose sequel in the series. Can we stop now please? I suppose the allure of the movie, sexy college girls in compromising positions, might keep them coming back for more, I think if you've seen one, you've seen enough. Though the girls do a decent job of acting, the story still remains cheesy and appears like a slightly soft porn version of Mean Girls.

Danielle "Daisy" Brookes (Miriam McDonald), is a plain country girl going off to college. Leaving her steady boyfriend behind, she heads to New England to stat over. One thing she doesn't know is she's just walked into a den of manipulating women who run a billion dollar secretive feminist Ivy Society. These girls get what they want and have spotted Daisy dropping her luggage and being escorted by Blake (Ryan Kennedy), to her room. She doesn't know that Blake is the son of the Dean Graves (Catherine Hicks), and the well MANicured Professor Andrew Graves (Greg Evigan).

Daisy meets Azalea (Shawna Waldron) who is going after the same internship that Daisy is. Azalea heads up a clique of young femme fatales known as Ivy Society, and wants Daisy as a member so she can keep a closer eye on her. When Daisy refuses to become part of their group, a murder takes place that looks like Daisy committed. Azalea assures she can make it all go away if Daisy devotes herself to their society, or blow up in her face. Daisy's only hope at survival is to expose the Azalea and the other girls before she becomes their next victim.

Insight Film Studios, New Line Home Entertainment
Director: Jason Hreno
Writers: Michael Worth, Peter Sullivan, Liz Maverick
Producer: Lindsay MacAdam
I viewed 3/09

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chain Reaction (1996) PG13 - 3 Stars

Even though the movie stars Morgan Freeman, one of my favorites, unfortunately even he can't hold this one up. Rachel Weisz, though a good actress, her accent and demeanor just don't seem to fit with me. Scientist, yes, but with this group, no. The movie starts well with it's best scene, an explosion that Keanu Reeves must out ride, that you think this might be a good action packed adventure. But from that point on, the pace drags on and you loose connection with who's doing the chasing. Identification of the real bad guys is unclear and it's not clear if Freeman is a good or bad guy. Who are all these secret agencies? I've actually seen the movie twice now and it doesn't become any clearer. To me, the only memorable part is the awesome explosion at the start.

Eddie Kasalivich (Keanu Reeves), a bright student at the University of Chicago, is working with a team of other scientists, on a new fusion technology to turn water into clean energy. Paul Shannon (Morgan Freeman), is overseeing the project. One day while Eddie is working from home, he finds an audio frequency which causes his mini reactor to work. Overjoyed, he takes the concept to the lab to try it large scale. A celebration of the team is in order when the process succeeds. After drinking too much, co-worker Lily Sinclair (Rachel Weisz), allows Eddie to drive her home. When he returns to the plant to retrieve his motorcycle, he witnesses a van pulling away and hears the alarm from inside. Dr. Alistair Barkly (Nicholas Rudall), has been tied up and blindfolded and the fusion reactor is about to blow. Eddie barely has time to escape the building before it explodes reducing a large neighborhood to ruins. The president is notified and the FBI, headed by Agent Ford (Fred Ward), is called in to investigate. Eddie returns to Lily's house as it seems he is the one that has been framed for taking Dr. Barkly's life and disintegrating an entire town. The rest of the movie is the two fleeing for their lives as the FBI, tries to take them out.

Zanuck Company, The, Chicago Pacific Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Director: Andrew Davis
Writers: J.F. Lawton, Michael Bortman
Producers: Andrew Davis, Arne Schmidt
I viewed 3/09

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Three Bad Men (2006) NR - 2 Stars

This has got to be one of the cheesiest acting jobs I have ever seen. And not just out of a few, but from the entire cast. It would be as if I got a bunch of my friends together one weekend and said, hey lets make a western. While the concept of the movie is okay, nothing else went into it.

Three bank robbers, Frame Johnson (Chris Gann), Ed Fiske (George Kennedy) and Luther McKinney (John Dixon), are running from the law when they come across a man bleeding to death. Before he dies, he begs the men to help his wife who's been kidnapped by Dutch Henry (Mike Moroff) and his savage pack of outlaws. Knowing the woman will be harmed without their help, they decide to show they have a heart and honor the dying man's request.

Director: Jeff Hathcock
Writer: Jeff Hathcock
Producer: Jeff Hathcock, Jerry Bestpitch
I viewed 3/09

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) R - 3½ Stars

Not a bad attempt at humor, Zack and Miri Make a Porno actually has some laughs as it touches you in your soft spot. Though fairly predictable, Rogen keeps the script rolling with his pretty funny one liners.

Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri Linky (Elizabeth Banks) are platonic friends living together in a financial demise. With their 2nd eviction notice at the door, they're about to be thrown out of their home. While Zack is at his 10 year high school reunion, he chats with an old schoolmate who has become a porno star. Zack decides desperate times call for desperate measures and suggests making a low budget porno himself to save financial ruin. With the help of friends, they begin auditions for their version of "Star Whores." When Zack and Miri make their naked debut, they discover a romantic love the two have kept suppressed all these years making their relationship, and their movie, a success.

Dimension Films, The Weinstein Company
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Producer: Scott Mosier
I viewed 3/09

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Walker (2007) R - 2½ Stars

Even though Woody Harrelson does a good job playing a gay man escorting older woman from high society, I didn't find the movie interesting but a bit on the boring side. Harrelson's snooty gay character is really the only character that I had any compassion for. Bacall and Tomlin give good performances I just found their characters annoying to listen to.

Natalie Van Miter (Lauren Bacall), Abigail Delorean (Lily Tomlin), and Lynn Lockner (Kristin Scott Thomas), are all the wealthy wives of important players in Washington, D.C.. While their husbands work long hours, they are left in the care of Carter Page III, the wealthy son of senator himself, to escort them to and from each others card games and social settings. Carter is a gay man who doesn't try to hide it and has become these older ladies best friends. They lean to him for comfort and compassion they lack in their own lives. When Natalie finds out her husband is in the middle of a scandal that could destroy her husbands career, Carter helps by suppresses incriminating evidence. But as the finger now points towards him, he must decide if this spoiled life of luxury is really worth the price to pay.

Director: Paul Schrader
Writer: Paul Schrader
Producer: Deepak Nayar
I viewed 3/09

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Half Nelson (2006) R - 3½ Stars

This is a great little movie about an young student and her drug addicted teacher, that form an unlikely bond of friendship. Shareeka Epps is outstanding as Drey, an African American student, who catches her teacher doing drugs in the bathroom. Ryan Gosling plays is very convincing strung out teacher on the verge of snapping while he tries to keep his student away from the drugs he's addicted to.

Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling), a white junior high school teacher in an inner city school, genuinely cares for his less than fortunate students. Most of these kids have more opportunities to turn to the streets, making money delivering drugs, then caring about a good education. Drey (Shareeka Epps), is one of Dan's smarter sassier students and her participation in class, helps get the others children involved. The two have a connection that inspires Drey to listen and Dan hang on to his teaching career. Dan's a good teacher, but his secret side often finds him slipping away from class to feed his addiction. An addiction that is becoming overwhelming stronger and Drey becomes witness to an episode of his in the bathroom. Drey feels like Dan is her friend and promises she won't mention anything. But when Dan finds Drey running drugs on the streets, he has to make a choice of saving the both of them.

Awards include:

2006 - Half Nelson - American Film Institute - Best Picture
2006 - Half Nelson - Independent Spirit Awards - Best Actress
2006 - Half Nelson - New York Film Critics Society - Best Actor - Runner-up
2006 - Half Nelson - Boston Society of Film Critics - Best New Filmmaker

Director: Ryan Fleck
Writers: Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden
Producers: Lynette Howell, Rosanne Korenberg, Ryan Fleck
I viewed 3/09

Saturday, March 21, 2009

All Roads Lead Home (2008) PG - 4 Stars

Based on a true story, I gotta say this movie may have done more for me than for most as I work at an animal hospital and have owned pets most of my life so I could really relate to the plight of some of these poor animals. It takes the innocence of a child to rise up and speak for the animals which is something I've always tried to do. Be prepared, there are some tear jerker parts when the young girl tames even the wildest of beasts, her grandfather. This was also Peter Boyles last movie and it was nice to see him playing the hotel owner who takes in some of the pets to keep his business running. They even have their own web site which includes pet information and adoption.

Belle (Vivien Cardone), is your average child of 12 years old when she, her mom and her dad Cody (Jason London), are involved in a horrible car accident that left her mother clinging to life and with machines keeping her alive. Her father must unplugs the machines and Belle blames her father for ending her mothers life. Even her grandfather Hock (Peter Coyote) sees the accident Cody's fault and shuts himself down to the world.

Cody's daytime job is working for animal control an sometimes these cats and dogs have to be euthanized as there is just no room or money to feed the homeless pets. This angers Cody and in a rebellious act, she sneaks into the kennel one night and sets the animals free. It causes many problems in town and Belle is sent away to live with her grandfather and work on his ranch to teach her some discipline. But Hock looks at her and sees his daughter and the pain is too great so he keeps her busy with chores rather than relate to her. He tries to teach her the importance of running a breeding farm and when some animals don't leave up to their potential of making him money, they must be destroyed. But just when the family seems to be falling apart, Cody breaths new life into them while finding a way to save all them, including the animals.

Waldo West Productions
Director: Dennis Fallon
Writer: Doug Delaney
Producer: Dennis Fallon
I viewed 3/09

Friday, March 20, 2009

Robot Stories (2004) NR - 3½ Stars

A trilogy, okay 4 short stories, of human emotions vs. machine. Though each story is short, they still manage to get the viewer pulled in with feeling. Though I don't believe I have seen any of the stars in other movies, they all fit perfectly into their scripts. This movie is not for everyone, I think you'll either spark emotion in these shorts easily, or you won't like them at all. There's even a web site for more info, if you like the film.

Story #1 - My Robot Baby

Maria (Tamlyn Tomita) and Roy (James Saito) are happily married and on the list for adoption. But first to show they can be good parents, a simulated robot child must be cared for that will record data of the way they care for the child.

Story #2 - The Robot Fixer

Bernice Chin's (Wai Ching Ho), son Wilson, is on life support in the hospital after being hit by a car. Along with his sister, Grace (Cindy Cheung), they visit regularly but while Grace is facing the fact her brother is brain dead, Bernice becomes obsessed with repairing and bringing, to the hospital, all the robots from Wilson's childhood.

Story #3 - Machine Love

Archie - Sprout G9 (Greg Pak), has just be activated in the business office. Work production is at it's finest and all Archie has been programed to adapt to the people and surroundings he is exposed to. But work production takes a halt when the Sprout G9 female version, that's working across the street, is spotted by Archie's newly trained eyes.

Story #4 - Clay

John Lee (Sab Shimono) is a sculptor who's dying of lung disease. He is supposed to be taken in and his brain scanned, before he dies so his architectural wonders stored deep in his brain, will be available for anyone to manipulate.

2003 - Robot Stories - Asian American International Film Festival - Emerging Director Award
2003 - Robot Stories - Florida Film Festival - Best Narrative Feature
2002 - Robot Stories - Hamptons International Film Festival - Best Screenplay

KINO VIDEO, Pak Film Inc.
Director: Greg Pak
Writer: Greg Pak
Producers: Kim Ima, Greg Pak
I viewed 3/09

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Roger & Me (1989) R - 3 Stars

From one of my favorites, Michael Moore is at it again, shaking us to wake up and question why government, big business and politics, have so much control in our lives. He moves us to controversy with passion rather than just excepting what is laid out in front of us. Though I didn't enjoy it as much as some of his newer documentaries, the time period it's quite fascinating to take a comical nostalgic look at where the country was headed just 20 years ago. The focus of this comical revenge movie is to chat with General Motors chairman Roger Smith about how GM could do that to it's loyal workers.

One of Moore's early documentaries, this time he takes us to one of the world's largest corporation, General Motors, as it's closes it's doors in Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan. Moore, the son of an Flint autoworker, can identify with the workers having roots here. Flint used to be a thriving community, where most of it's occupants were employed by GM, but now most have been forced to flee the city to find work, or forced to stay in poverty level turning the the once American Dream, totally awry.

This once thriving town has now been labeled as the worst place to live in America. The empty streets of abandoned, boarded up homes looks like of the desolation of a war zone. With a 25% unemployment rate, Flint surpassed cities like Detroit, with the highest rate of violent crime. But GM reneged on their promise to workers of when WE profit, we ALL profit. Instead they closed the plant, laying off thousands of workers, built plants in Mexico and Asia, invested in automating assembly lines, even though record showed profits over $19 billion. The city invested $13 million in tax funds to build a luxury Hyatt Regency hoping to hold major conventions that went bankrupt. The Mott Foundation based in Flint, spent $100 million building Auto World, the world's largest indoor theme park which promptly closed within 6 months of opening. But how could GM do this to the loyal people of Flint, Michigan who invested their lives making GM rich?

Moore seeks out those who have stayed in Flint and the life style they are now forced to live. The rat population has exceeded the human population census. The lady who slaughters and skins rabbits for a living is forced to decide, pet or meat. Celebrities like Bob Eubanks, Connie Francis, Robert Schuller, Anita Bryant, Bobby Vinton, Pat Boone, and even "Miss Michigan" Kaye Lani Rae Rafko are spotlighted and /or interviewed on their roles they play in boosting confidence in people of Flint and the iconic GM plant in Flint, Michigan. Moore travels to the GM world headquarters in Detroit and is immediately escorted off the property. When he shows up at a board meeting waiting to speak from the podium, they remove him and won't let him speak. And even though he makes numerous attempts to chat with General Motors chairman, Roger Smith, for an explanation on why the GM plant decided to close down, he is unsuccessful in bringing him to face the people.

1988 - Roger & Me - Los Angeles Film Critics Association - Best Documentary
1989 - Roger & Me - National Board of Review - Best Documentary
1989 - Roger & Me - New York Film Critics Circle - Best Documentary

Dog Eat Dog Films
Director: Michael Moore
Writer: Michael Moore
Producer: Michael Moore
I viewed 2/09

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Battle for Haditha (2007) NR - 3½ Stars

Based on the true story from Haditha, Iraq, and the bombing of a U.S. Convoy of Marines on November 19th, 2005. The people of Haditha are in their own battle as if they tell the Marines of any threats, terrorist will kill them and if they don't say anything they could be killed by the Americans for hiding terrorists. The movie shows a much truer side to war then we usually get broadcast by American media. The massacre that took place that day, killed American soldiers as well as Iraqi men and innocent women and children. It's one thing to fight a war when you know who your enemy is and quite another when you don't. You don't know who the enemy is making it harder to fight when then talk with you one moment and attempt to take your life the next.

As a military convoy of American soldiers in Humvees are making their war across the Iraqi desert in a convoy of armored Humvees, a group of Iraqi men are planning their attack. The soldiers stop at a store where the clerk offers conversation and offers DVD's on an adult nature to them. At the same time there are Iraqi men leaving to join others learning how to operate detonators to use the bombs they plan on harming Americans with. As the bomb is completed, the Iraqi men bury it along the roadside. And Iraqi couple see the men covering up the bomb but are unable to say anything to anyone as the men hide in their building to set it off. While the soldiers drive by, the bomb is detonated killing and injuring many of the Americans who take violently justified revenge on anything that moves.

Hanway Films
Director: Nick Broomfield
Writers: Marc Hoeferlin, Anna Telford, Nick Broomfield
Producer: Nick Broomfield
I viewed 2/09

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shut Up and Shoot Me (2005) NR - 3½ Stars

I really love the small town quirky humor in this movie. Here's a sweet guy, that means so well, but also such a nit wit, he can't even get himself killed properly. If you like movies like "In Bruges," I think you will really enjoy this one too. A charming comedy where the laughs are not side splitting, but grow on you compassionately through the entire movie as you shake your head muttering "Geesh, the poor guy." Shot in Prague - pun intended.

Colin's (Andy Nyman) and his wife Maggie (Klára Low), are in love but find that there busy lives have not allowed them to truly enjoy the pleasure of each other. On sort of second honeymoon, they choose to relax and take in the beauty of Europe. As they walk along the cobble stone road, two men are raising a statue to the second story, via pulleys through the window. As Colin and Maggie are reminiscing, a freak accident of breaking rope sends the statue plummeting to earth, covering Maggie completely, crushing her to death. Colin is unsure of where she went until it's explained she's underneath. After realising his wife is dead, he feels like dying himself and once back at his hotel, tries to electrify himself in the bath tub. But all he felt was more pain.

There's a knock at the door and it's Pavel (Karel Roden), a driving sent to pick Colin up and take him to the mortuary to pick up his wife's ashes so Colin can return home from his vacation. Paval leads a pretty pitiful life, taking on many odd jobs in order to maintain his wife's high standard of living. As the two begin to talk, Colin explains that now his wife is gone, he has no reason for living. Since he's been unsuccessful with his electrifying display, he offers Pavel all the money he has in exchange for ending his life. His only request is that it be swift and painless. As this unlikely duo set out upon their mission, the body count grows but Colin is yet to get his wish.

Storitel, ufo Pictures
Director: Steen Agro
Writer: Steen Agro
Producer: Paul Sherwood
I viewed 2/09

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lady Vengeance (2005) R - 3 Stars

Now here is another one of the Korean movies aka, "Kind geum-ja," I'm so fond of. Though not one of my favorites, Lady Vengeance lived up to my expectation of being beyond bizarre. However, I would have ended the movie after our cast of actors stabbed, chopped, hacked and buried our pedophile kidnapper / murderer.

Lee Geum-ja (Lee Yeong-ae) has spent the last 13 years in prison after being found guilty of kidnapping a young boy and causing his death. But she didn't do it and for the last 13 years she hoped for the day she would be able to prove her innocence. She blames Det. Choi (Nam Il-woo) who forced a confession out of her and vows to get her revenge. In her time in prison, she meets many friends that stand behind her as she gets her just reward.n a number of ways.

Tartan Video
Director: Park Chan-wook
Writers: Park Chan-wook, Jeong Seo-gyeong
Producers: Jo Yeong-wook, Lee Tae-heon
I viewed 2/09

Sunday, March 15, 2009

City of Ember (2008) PG - 3½ Stars

Pretty good movie about a city living deep below the ground, who's generator is falling apart and after 200 years, no one knows how to fix it. I liked the imagination of the writer for exploring underground for a change, rather than always into space or at some futuristic time of the planet.

Over 200 years ago, the City of Ember was built deep in the earth, by engineers trying to protect it's people, the "Emberites," from any possible destruction that could fall to and infect earth. The city is run upon one gi-normous generator which Mayor Cole (Bill Murray) keeps behind locked walls. But the city is falling apart as the generator is failing as the lights continually indicate and two teenagers Lina (Saoirse Ronan) and Doon (Harry Treadaway), think they may have found the answer to fixing the problem. They have found pieces to what looks like an instruction manual, left by the original builders. In order to solve the puzzle, they must try and put back together all of the pieces and unlock the secrets the city has to offer. And in doing so, they find a way out of the darkness, above to sunshine. But Mayor Cole wants to leave the city he rules, exactly the way it is and tries to foil their attempts to to gain access to the generator.

Fox Walden
Director: Gil Kenan
Writer: Caroline Thompson
Producers: Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Steven Shareshian
I viewed 2/09

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Deep Winter (2008) PG13 - 3 Stars

The scenery is just awesome in this movie and I have to bow down to these skiers and snowboarders, as they are out of their minds. At the same time, I can't imagine the great high they must get, doing what they do. Unfortunately, that is about all the movie really has going for it.

Tyler Crowe (Eric Lively) is a maverick downhill skier who's just been thrown off the ski team because his coach Dando (Robert Carradine), doesn't think his heads into it. Tyler himself, feels the need to find something that's been lacking in himself. He returns to his home town and old childhood friend, Mark Rider (Kellan Lutz), a thrill seeking fearless snowboarder. Tyler's also notices Mark's younger sister Elisa (Peyton List), has certainly grown. Mark's getting ready to do something radical, snowboarding down a traitorous mountain face in Alaska. He's been signed by a film crew to film his daredevil run and he's eager to get Tyler in on the gig. Tyler's look for the next big adventure in his life so agrees and they head off to Alaska. But not before Elisa sneaks away to be with Tyler. As the quilt begins to show, film maker Stephen Weaks (Luke Goss) and hired guide Dean (Michael Madsen) between weather conditions and timing as the snow behaves different in Alaska and in these types of conditions could send a mountainside of snow crashing down, devouring anything in it's path.

Gigantic Pictures (III)
Director: Mikey Hilb
Writer: John Protass
Producer: Glenn Zoller
I viewed 3/09

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pride and Glory (2008) R - 3 Stars

Wow, what a bunch of dirty cops.I couldn't believe one would actually take the iron to the baby. Eeeeek. Ed Norton is really good playing the good cop, Raymond and Colin Farrell is almost scary playing Jimmy as he really gives you the feeling there are cops like this out there. Not a story with a happy ending but more explores the dark side of law enforcement. While I enjoyed the movie, I don't think it ended with any great conclusion that we haven't seen before.

Ray Tierney (Edward Norton), is and homicide detective but he's been used to playing it safe these days after something bad happens to him. When four police men are found murdered at a drug bust gone bad, the police think they may have a cop killer at large. Ray is asked by his alcoholic father, who also happens to be the chief of Manhattan detectives, Francis Tierney, Sr. (Jon Voight), to become involved in the case. Ray feels he owes it to his brother Francis Tierney, Jr. (Noah Emmerich), as he was in charge of the four police slain. And if that was not enough family involved, Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell), is Ray's brother in law and also a police man. As Ray starts the investigation, he notices Jimmy shows signs he is involved. As Ray begins to question that Jimmy might be corrupt and involved in something large in the precinct, he confides in his brother Francis in an effort to save his life. have a cop killer at large.

New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Writers: Joe Carnahan, Greg O'Connor, Gavin O'Connor
Producers: Greg O'Connor, Paula Weinstein
I viewed 2/09

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Lucky Ones (2008) R - 3 Stars

I think this had the potential to be a better movie but just doesn't grab your attention. It does have good casting with likable characters, but it takes you a long time to acquaint with them. Sort of ironic, their plight when stranded together at the airport, compared to being somewhat stranded together in Iraq.

Fred Cheaver (Tim Robbins) has completed his active duty in Iraq and is returning home to his regular life. Colee Dunn (Rachel McAdams) and TK Poole (Michael Peña) are also returning home for a 30 day leave from Iraq. Colee is trying to get a valuable guitar home to the family of a fallen soldier and TK is hoping his girlfriend will still want him after being shot in his unmentionables.

At the airport, the city has an outage that grounds all planes so they are unable to fly to their destinations. With all rentals already given out, the sales agent gets them the very last car on the lot due to their servicemen status. Together, they decide to drive to St. Louis so Fred can be reunited with his wife. But when they get to St. Louis, Fred's wife wants a divorce and Fred feels completely overwhelmed when his son needs a simple $20,000 to attend Stanford. Fred decides to drive Colee and TK to the closest airport so they can get on with their lives, however the two can't leave their military brother in this condition and instead travel on to each other's destinations. Beginning to feel like they don't fit in anymore, they discover that only together, can they understood the people they've become.

2008 - The Lucky Ones - Toronto International Film Festival - Film Presented

Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions
Director: Neil Burger
Writers: Neil Burger, Dirk Wittenborn
Producers: Neil Burger, David Levien, Rick Schwartz
I viewed 2/09

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This Divided State (2005) NR - 3½ Stars

Being a big fan or most of Michael Moore's work, I had to see yet another controversial documentary, this time about him. The best thing for me about Michael Moore is he gets people excited possibly in a negative way but he sparks a reaction in people that would normally go about "status quo." Stimulating one's mind for thought keeps it rich and alive. My favorite part was the foreign student from Togo, West Africa, who spoke about how blessed we are to have freedom of speech.

It's no secret that the state of Utah is the headquarters to the Mormons and their Church of Latter-Day Saints. The entire state of Utah is pretty much Republican and conservative and when two college students, Joe Vogel, the student body vice-president and Jim Bassey, invite Michael Moore to speak at Utah Valley State College in Orem, UT., the state is changed forever. Kay Anderson, an outspoken Community leaders, is willing to pick up the tab the school would lose if the event would be canceled. He believes his city, aka The Family City, should not be exposed to any different opinion, or "evil influence", that anti-American, immoral Michael Moore can bring. As he puts it, he lives inside of Utah away from the rest of the United States. Kay even goes as far as bringing forth a law suit against Vogel and Bassey.
All for the sake of stopping Michael Moore from influencing any of the State of Utah into a more liberal way of thinking.

Minority Films, LLC.
Director: Steven Greenstreet
Producer: Steven Greenstreet
I viewed 3/09

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nothing to Lose (1997) R - 3 Stars

I love both Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence, but this not be one of the bests. To me, the movie gets almost predictable and not all that funny, though it does have it's moments. The message is good at the end so I'm giving it a 3.

Nick Beame (Tim Robbins) is not having a good day at all. Returning home, he hears his wife Ann (Kelly Preston), having sex with his boss, Phillip Barrow (Michael McKean). Needing to get some air, he takes a drive with no destination in mind. While stopped at a light, T. Paul (Martin Lawrence), jumps in his car and holds Nick's at gun point, demanding his car. But Nick, with his life hanging by a string, decides to take the thief on the ride of his life. Not wanting to die, T. Paul tells of his hard times trying to support his wife and children without a job. The two form an unlikely bond of friendship which takes them on a journey in search of their lives.

Touchstone Pictures, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Director: Steve Oedekerk
Writer: Steve Oedekerk
Producers: Michael S. Bregman, Dan Jinks, Martin Bregman
I viewed 2/09

Monday, March 9, 2009

Frozen River (2008) R - 3½ Stars

While I liked the movie, I was expecting a little more from it. I thought for sure someone was going to die in the frozen river and I guess I was a little let down when they didn't. Obviously not the point of the movie, just my expectations a few times in the movie. The acting was great especially from the new up and coming stars.

Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo) has just found out she is now a single woman. Her husband left and never returned with their life savings that was to be used for their new dream double wide trailer they've been waiting for. Now just days before Christmas, she's desperate to find some reasoning behind her husbands disappearance so she can explain to her two young sons. Ray traces the steps of the places her husband frequented until finally she finds his car in the parking lot of the local bingo hall. But he is no where to be found and instead, a Mohawk Indian girl Lila Littlewolf (Misty Upham), gets into the car and drives it away. In anger, Ray chases the car to the young woman's home where she confronts her as Lila offers to buy the car. She had people willing to pay a lot of money to use it for smuggle people from the Canadian border.

Ray thinks of all the Tang and popcorn dinners she has fed to her sons and decides Lila may have something to offer. With no other option present, she agrees to help Lila traffic illegal aliens into the U.S. The plan is fool proof, as Lila shows her the St. Lawrence River is frozen solid at this time of year, and you can save time be driving right across, rather than to attract more attention by going around.

Lila also is a economically challenged woman. She has a one year old son that has been taken away from her. The tribal elders disagree with any involvement in the wrong doing at the border and have banned auto dealers in town from selling Lila a car, to keep her clean. Both in desperate situations off they go in Ray's nonchalant Dodge Spirit heading towards the frozen icy pathway. Though there are some complications, eventually they agree to pull off a few more runs so both their troubles will be over. But when their forced to deal with a different trafficker, things go terribly wrong and Ray must choose who pays the price.

Awards include:
2008 - Frozen River - Independent Spirit Awards - Best Actress
2008 - Frozen River - American Film Institute - Best Picture
2008 - Frozen River - National Board of Review - Best Independent Film
2008 - Frozen River - Women Film Critics Circle - Best Movie By a Woman

Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Courtney Hunt
Writer: Courtney Hunt
Producers: Chip Hourihan, Heather Rae
I viewed 2/09

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Death by Engagement (2006) NR - 2 Stars

Pretty silly concept and the acting is pretty cheesy and bad but I made it all the way through. An engagement ring wants to be returned to it's owner but keeps making it's way to other couple, always ending in death. It's not even that nice of a ring. Pretty unbelievable story line and low rate acting but I've seen worse.

Det. Cade Hamilton (Aaron MacPherson) and Det. Rikki Moore (Sascha Knopf) are investigating a murder where it appears the groom murdered his bride to be and then was shot by a policeman called to the scene. Officer Mallar (Brian Patrick Wade) sees a huge engagement ring on the brides finger and and exchanges it for the one he's bought his bride to be.

Spencer Starkington (Brandon Largent) is the psychopathic groom, now brain dead but his mother Mrs. Starkington (P.J. Soles), refuses to say goodbye. Instead, she keeps her sons body in his room hooked up to monitors that keep him alive. The detectives have their hands full when more murders keep happening and every time there is a ring involved. It would appear that our brain dead groom Spencer, comes to life and murders anyone that has any involvement in his blessed ring.

Maverick Entertainment Group
Director: Philip Creager
Writer: Philip Creager
Producer: Pennie Orcutt
I viewed 2/09

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Transsiberian (2008) R - 3½ Stars

If you watch the coming attractions for this movie you will think you have watched a different movie. I have not noticed this before, but I don't think the trailer does the movies justice. I thought it took a much different turn than the trailer suggested. Plus I like the fact that it's one of those movies, at least at the beginning when you think you know what's going to happen and something different entirely does.

Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer) are an American couple traveling from Beijing, China to Moscow, Russia via the Transsiberian railway. It's the first time Jessie has ever done this type of traveling so she is a bit uneasy about who to trust and not understanding the language. The two meet up with another couple on the train Abby (Kate Mara) and Carlos (Eduardo Noriega) traveling the same route. Though Jessie doesn't seam to trust their new friends, Roy thinks it's exactly what they need to share the experience of a life time.

At the first stop, everyone gets to leave the train and sight see a bit before re boarding. Jessie and the new companions board the train for it's next destination while Roy manages to miss the call. Panicked and alone, her only choice is to stop at the next town and stay the night to await for Roy on the next train. But that's when the trouble begins as Carlos convinces Jessie to go on a private tour with her. She learns that Carlos is a drug smuggler and has stashed his nesting dolls into Jessie's bag. When Roy finally meets up with Jessie again, they are joined by Roy's new friends, Russian detective Grinko (Ben Kingsley)and Kolzak (Thomas Kretschmann). The ride now becomes an "E ticket" into the twilight zone while the couple is terrorize on their unforgettable journey.

First Look Studios
Director: Brad Anderson
Writers: Will Conroy, Brad Anderson
Producer: Julio Fernández
I viewed 2/09

Friday, March 6, 2009

W. (2008) PG13 - 3 Stars

I was hoping to get more from this movie and I was somewhat disappointed in it. Perhaps I was just looking to dig up the dirt on our ex president to make more sense of the world he left us with. I don't know how much liberty was taken with the story, but I didn't know just how much George W. struggled with alcoholism. I must say, if I closed my eyes and listened, Josh Brolin really sounded a lot like his character. A born again Christian, George W. found that religion was his drive behind his running for office.

Condoleezza Rice (Thandie Newton), was as annoying as I remember her voice to be and also starring Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright), Donald Rumsfeld (Scott Glenn), George Herbert Walker Bush (James Cromwell), Barbara Bush (Ellen Burstyn), Laura Bush (Elizabeth Banks), Dick Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss).

Director: Oliver Stone
Writers: Oliver Stone, Stanley G. Weiser
Producers: Eric Kopeloff, Paul Hanson, Jon Kilik
I viewed 2/09