Thursday, April 30, 2009

Twilight (2008) PG13 - 3½ Stars

Twilight is excellent in bringing that element of mystery and romance back to the blood sucking vampires. Stewart and Pattinson fit each other so well, her on the naive side but so attracted to that one boy that stands out from the others in a mysterious inquisitive way. He's so mysterious in fact, it's driving Stewart mad to learn more about him. Their whole relationship was very believable. Even her name, fits into the movie so well. The only reason I didn't rate the movie higher is I just couldn't get into her meeting the family of vampires. Or the fact that, of all the blood around James could be enjoying, he won't stop till he has Bella's because of her scent.

Isabella "Bella" Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves from Phoenix to Forks, WA, when her mother remarries and sends her to live with her father, Charlie (Billy Burke). Against her wishes, she reluctantly moves, trying to make the best of it and strengthen the relationship with her dad. But Forks, WA. is a fry cry from her old Phoenix high where she never fit in with it's high sorority girls. In fact, Bella is more of a loner and happy with the way her new school life is going. When she is paired off with Edward Cullen, (Robert Pattinson), in biology class, he begins to evoke strange emotions inside of her. He'll do something positive for her and then disappear from her sight. This attraction quickly turns to flirtation where Bella must fight her urges to want to see him. Even when she figures his out his secret of being a vampire, she still can't stay away from him and tells him she knows.

The two become entangled in an offbeat relationship of passion, Edward has been waiting for 90 years for. He has found his soul mate and to keep her safe, he introduces her to his Vampire family consisting of Dr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli), Esme Cullen (Elizabeth Reaser), Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene), Jasper Cullen/ Jasper Hale (Jackson Rathbone), Rosalie Hale (Nikki Reed) and Emmett Cullen (Kellan Lutz). The family eagerly excepts Bella into their group and while playing a game of softball, they are joined by another group of nomad vampires, James (Cam Gigandet), Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre), and Laurent (Edi Gathegi). James immediately becomes aroused by the unique scent of Bella and wants her for his own. Now, the family must join together and pull out every stop to keep Bella from harm and return her back to the safety of Edward before James has his way with her and it's to late.

Summit Entertainment, LLC, Paramount Pictures
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg
Producers: Wyck Godfrey, Greg Mooradian, Karen Rosenfelt
I viewed 4/09

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Blow (2001) R - 4 Stars

Really good movie for the Johnny Depp or Penelope Cruz fan. Heck, it's a great movie for anyone who isn't turned off by drugs. Based on the true story of George Jung, a major drug pioneer first bringing cocaine to the U.S.. It's said that if you did coke in the late 70's, you probably got it indirectly from him. Depp is perfect playing Jung's role and Cruz plays a perfect senorita out for the money. The movie takes you though the life of George Jung living a mislead childhood with proper morals instilled, to his downfall and final capture and arrest. Warning, spoiler enclosed.

George Jung (Johnny Depp) was born in the 1950's and grew up in a middle class neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Living with his parents, Fred (Ray Liotta), and Ermine (Rachel Griffiths), his life seemed far from normal. Ermine constantly walked out and left her child and husband alone in search for a better life. There was no bonding between mother and child, while Fred at least tried to instill good moral judgements to his son and tried to kept him looking on the brighter side of life. But when his mother leaves for an extended time, George decides it's time try something new himself.

George moves to California in the late 60's, along with his best friend Tuna (Ethan Suplee), and quickly notices life is different at the beach. They get lucky and quickly find a small apartment on the beach. Girls in bikinis, parties on the beach day and night, and everyone smoking marijuana. George soon realizes he's found the embrace he was looking for. He meets and falls for Barbara (Franka Potente) who works for the airlines as a stewardess. She introduces George to Derek Foreal (Paul Reubens), who can score large quantities of smoke. He eventually gets Barbara to carry it in her luggage, which is unchecked being a stewardess, and every time she flies to Boston, the group makes a killing in money. All goes as planned until George is arrested in 1972 when his mother turns him in. While he is in prison Barbara dies of cancer.

George bunks with Diego (Jordi Molla), in jail where he learns everything about cocaine. George says, "I went in with a Bachelor of marijuana, came out with a Doctorate of cocaine." As he gets out he meets up with Diego and a new ally in Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar (Cliff Curtis). George quickly regains control of the cocaine drug traffic to the U.S. and meets and falls for Mirtha (Penelope Cruz). The two are married and have a baby girl until Mirtha finally leaves him when he decides to go clean and it's not all about the money. But when he promises his baby a trip to California, George is finally set up by one of his old friends, now working for the F.B.I. where he spend today with as of today, another 2,082 days till his release.

New Line Cinema
Directors: Ted Demme
Writers: Nick Cassavetes, David McKenna
Producers: Joel Stillerman, Ted Demme, Denis Leary
I viewed 4/09

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quantum of Solace (2008) PG13 - 3 Stars

If you are a big James Bond fan, then Quantum of Solace will probably disappoint you. For me, I'm almost getting to the point that if you have seen one James Bond movie, you pretty much know what's going to happen. I have my perceived assumptions of what would take place. Bond working on a secret mission, out running his enemy while saving someones life, great explosions and awesome car crashes, a beautiful co star easily seduced by Bond's charm, some sort of evil villain with maybe a steel arm or one larger eye, and some sort of gadgetry equipted car.

For me, Quantum of Solace doesn't fit well into the 007 Bond series but instead has a different edge, showing Bond in a new light I'm not sure works well if you are trying to save the reputation of what makes James Bond, James Bond. There's no undeniable charm or sparkle in his eye, no funny gadgets or secret devices to transport him out of danger, none of that highly seductive style of class in "Bond ... James Bond" like we've seen in the past and with all the violence, he almost comes off looking like the bad guy. It's as if the movie didn't need to have James Bond for it's star at all. Some other action star could have pulled it off with the same results. Don't get me wrong, the movie has good acting, cast, special effects, though thrown at you entirely to fast, and everything else you might expect from a Bond movie. But, I think if this is the direction 007 is going, then I'm a little "Bonded" out. Did I miss something?

"Quantum of Solice" picks up where "Casino Royal" left off. Bond discovers that his old love Vesper, and her betrayal actually goes a lot deeper than simple blackmail. The action starts out right away with a violent car chase with Bond. Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), is captured and brought in for interrogation by Bond (Daniel Craig), and CIA director, M (Judi Dench), as they try to uncover the network of villains.

With use of forensics, an Mi6 traitor is linked back to a Haitian bank account and Bond sets forth on a mission to South America to get to the heart of the matter. Once there, mistaken identity throws him in with the sassy Camille (Olga Kurylenko). Camille is about to be discarded as used equipment and takes Bond to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric). Greene is the powerful mastermind behind an illegal organization that has very deep pockets and can pull plenty of stings. Greene's plans include overthrowing the existing powers that be, and giving control back to exiled General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), in exchange for piece of land in Bolivia rich with natural resources that will give Greene control over the Bolivian people. Bond's job is stop Greene while weaving his way through a tangled web of trust within the CIA.

2008 - Quantum of Solace - Las Vegas Film Critics Association - Best Song

Danjaq Productions, EON Productions, Sony Pictures Releasing
Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Robert Wade, Neal Purvis, Paul Haggis
Producers: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson
I viewed 4/09

Monday, April 27, 2009

Body of Lies (2008) R - 4 Stars

DiCaprio and Crowe play off each other great in this movie. DiCaprio has the hard job as the infiltrator, gaining the trust of the people surrounding him in order to gain access to terrorist intelligence. Crowe has the easy job as the man calling the shots inside the CIA protecting Homeland Security. They have an unspoken knowledge between them, but even though both are on the same mission, they perceive a different way of handling the job.

Roger Ferris (DiCaprio), undercover for the CIA is, secretly blending and penetrating many groups of terrorist cells. Being in this position, he must overlook the occasional suicide bomber in order to penetrate deeper to the meat and potatoes of the operation.

Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) appears to be the CIA nonchalant mastermind, running the project from the USA. He's so unattached to the death his job brings, he can play with his daughter while giving the order to take someone over the phone. When Ferris finds evidence that a major terrorist leader might be working out of Jordan, he must convince the Jordanian intelligence to work with him. But when it seems like Hoffman is taking too many chances with Ferris's life, Ferris has to decide who he can to trust, in order to finish his mission.

Scott Free Productions, De Line Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: William Monahan
Producers: Donald De Line, Ridley Scott
I viewed 3/09

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Conquest of Space (1954) NR - 2½ Stars

I don't know about this one. It just didn't come off the way George Pal probably intended, and it's on the silly side. Who in their right mind doesn't realize they are building a space ship while they are building it and asks no questions till it's completed? Then, plans suddenly change from sending the ship to the Moon to the new destination, Mars and before you know it, the team is leaving tomorrow. Such preparation! As they are finally on their way, General Daddy decides they are spiritually invading God's space and tries to stop the mission. Mostly hammy acting and even though it was not meant to look like anti-religious, it sort of comes off that way. The graphics are pretty cool for the 1950's.

General Samuel T. Merritt (Walter Brooke), his son, Captain Barney Merritt (Eric Fleming), Sergeant Mahony (Mickey Shaughnessy), Jackie Siegle (Phil Foster), and Imoto (Benson Fong) are about to become the first mission to Mars. As they stop for repairs, the general losses it, trying to sabotage the mission along with it's precious cargo. He's been reading the bible too long and believes that the crew and ship are trespassing in God's space, where they have no right to be. His son with have to take control of the situation if there is any chance of survival.

Paramount Pictures
Director: Byron Haskin
Writers: James O'Hanlon, Philip Yordan, Barré Lyndon
Producer: George Pal
I viewed 3/09

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bolt (2008) PG - 4 Stars

OMG, what a great animation move from the Walt Disney Animation Studios. The characters really come to life and Rhino the hamster in his ball, is just so cool. Mittens reminds me of my black cat and Bolt, the wonder dog, is absolutely lovable. Really fun movie for the entire family.

Penny (voice - Miley Cyrus), and her super dog Bolt (voice - John Travolta), co-star in an action packed series for the studios in Hollywood. Bolt is the wonder dog who always manages to save Penny from harm, just in the nick of time. He truly believes he's a super hero with super powers and his duty in life is to protect his master. When he accidentally gets packed up and shipped off to New York city, he thinks he can easily use his super powers to get back. Alone and on his own he meets up with a group of pigeons who are being manipulated by an alley cat named Mittens (voice - Susie Essman). Mittens seems to know all about Bolt and where he comes from and against her wishes, she's whisked away to help Bolt find Penny. Along the way they run into a over zealous hamster named Rhino (voice - Mark Walton), and his exercise ball. Rhino is a super duper television fan and has seen all of Bolt's movies. He is well aware of Bolt's heroic deeds and wants to join forces to help battle crime and evil. Together, the three will have the adventure of a life time, as the travel cross country to return to Hollywood.

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Directors: Chris Williams, Byron Howard, Chris Sanders
Writers: Chris Williams, Jared Stern, Byron Howard
Producer: Clark Spencer
I viewed 4/09

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) PG13 - 3 Stars

I have to say I was anxiously awaiting this movie to come out but was disappointed in the results. Especially, when comparing it to the 1951 version. Yes all the special effects are there, but why such a Huge Electrifying, yet visually stimulating, space glob for one man and a large robot? I think I prefer the good old flying saucer type ship of old. However, I did like the flamed inferno they tried to hold Gort in while trying to penetrate his metal to see what makes him tick. That was probably my favorite part of the movie. For me at least, the remake would have been better if they pretended like it was still the 50's and just souped it up with some believable special effects. Perhaps added a tinny sounding twilight zone type soundtrack, that made the original such a success. The relationship between Jacob and this alien was not really believable to me. He had the "little poor kid" syndrome and I didn't feel that bond like the bond between the "eager to teach" Bobby and Mr. Carpenter in the 51 version.

I read a review saying feeling this nostalgic was like trying to recapture childhood memories. I just watched it for the first time since my youth and was not etched in my mind as one of my favorites from back then. But the concept IS from the innocent era of one alien man and his robot sent to earth to put it back on the right track. If you're going to remake it, than keep the same feel, otherwise take it to a totally new level, based on the original, maybe with more aliens causing havoc. Example, the 1964 version of War of the Worlds is one of my favorite childhood movies, I'll never forget. The remake was based on the same concept but the movie took it to a totally different scariness for the audience of today.

Scientists are immediately brought together when NASA discovers an object is rapidly approaching on a collision course with earth. Their mission, to come up with way to stop this gigantic meteorite from crashing into New York and taking out the rest of the planet with it. But there's no time, in approx. 70 minutes, life on earth will come to an end. As the team counts down the seconds awaiting impact, there is none. Instead, a huge cosmic sphere embarks in the middle of Central Park. Dr. Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly), is one of the first on scene to view the orb up close and as the smoke clears, out from it emerges an iridescent alien being. And of course, being the human race that we are, we immediately shoot it. After realising the creature is dying, it's rushed, under military guard, to a hospital hoping to repair it's injuries. But this extraterrestrial didn't come alone. His enormous bodyguard robot, Gort, emerges from the pod. Little does anyone know, these two beings are on a mission to heed warning of a global destruction since the people of earth don't value their planet.

Doctors are amazed as the alien begins to mend his own wounds and evolve into a human looking species who calls himself Klaatu (Keanu Reeves). He and his robot are here to meet with all heads of nations to warn them that they will be destroyed for the ridiculous wars, lack of humanity, and human destruction that has been bestowed upon the planet. Regina Jackson (Kathy Bates), Secretary of Defense, is determined to hold the alien under guard and refuse to grant him a his wish of meeting with the world. But Dr. Helen Benson, feels there is good inside of Klaatu and helps him escape into the crowd. Now it is up to her to make Klaatu understand that the human race is worth saving. Along with her son Jacob Benson (Jaden Smith), the two will stop at nothing to try and convince Klaatu to leave the planet intact.

20th Century Fox Distribution
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: David Scarpa, Ryne Douglas Pearson
Producers: Gregory Goodman, Erwin Stoff, Paul Harris Boardman
I viewed 4/09

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) G - 4 Stars

I decided to watch the old version of this movie first in order to see the similarities between this, and the 2008 version. The 1951 version is a timeless classic, "G" rated none the less. You just can't replace the innocence of that time period. Families huddled together in front of their small black and white televisions and radios, while the crowds outside gather eagerly to get a closer look of the spaceship that's landed in Washington D.C.. The broadcasters and reporters, always with their fedora hats, smoking at their desks, while spitting play by play live broadcast into huge microphones, as the events unfold. And the music is priceless and quite frankly, having grown up in this era, they just don't make um like this anymore. Other than the wrinkles in the robots suit when he walks, I'll stick to this old version!

It's just another typical day in 1951, for the typical people of Washington D.C.. As they go about their daily business, a space lands in the middle of an open field. As the crowd of onlookers gather around, out pops Klaatu (Michael Rennie), a dashingly debonair spaceman from another planet, along with his bodyguard robot Gort (Lock Martin). Their mission, to communicate with the leaders of all nations of planet earth in a peaceful manor. But as Klaatu reaches for a gift to share with the earth, he is shot. This doesn't make Gort very happy but before Klaatu passes out, he mummers language to Gort that stops him dead in in tracks.

Klaatu is taken to an observatory hospital to have the bullet removed when he pulls out a chemical that heals himself. He is then sent to take a lie detector test to prove who he is. Instead he turns the tables and escapes into the general population, taking refuge in a boarding house under the name of Mr. Carpenter. It is there he meets Helen Benson (Patricia Neal) and her son Bobby (Billy Gray). Helen and Bobby take a liking to Mr. Carpenter and Helen even entrusts her son to spending the day with him, touring the important buildings of Washington. It is his hope that he can find someone smart enough to get his message through to. Bobby suggests that scientist, Dr. Barnhardt (Sam Jaffe), is the smartest person he knows and together they approach his home looking for him. Even thought Dr. Barnhardt is out, Mr Carpenter makes quite an impression with him as he adds to an equation on Dr. Barnhardt's blackboard. But when no one will take him seriously, he literally makes the world stand still at 12:00 noon the next day, to prove his point.


1951 - The Day the Earth Stood Still - Golden Globe - Motion Picture Promoting International Understanding
1951 - The Day the Earth Stood Still - Hollywood Foreign Press Association - Motion Picture Promoting International Understanding
1994 - The Day the Earth Stood Still - Library of Congress - U.S. National Film Registry

20th Century Fox
Director: Robert Wise
Writer: Edmund H. North
Producer: Julian Blaustein
I viewed 4/09

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pitch Black (2000) R - 4½ Stars

Well I said I don't normal like Vin Diesel movies but I REALLY loved this one. So much so, instead of returning the video to Blockbuster, I bought it from them. It has everything for the Sci-Fi fan, complete with some pretty cool alien monsters that only come out in the dark. Being a Sci-Fi fan, I really have to say this is one of the better ones I have seen. It starts out slow but I loved the escape scene in the dark. Lighting has a lot to do with the flavor of the movie from it's warm tones with one sun setting to the cool tones of another sun rising to the barely lit tones by glow sticks, it all paints a eerie scene of the planet. Radha Mitchell does a good job at being a believable hero to me.

A crew and passengers are on their way through space, traveling to a distant outpost known as New Mecca. But as they sleep, a damaging asteroid shower, awakens them, calling for an immediately manual landing that rookie pilot Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell), must contend with. As the ship begins to break apart upon entry to the atmosphere, Fry must make important decisions to eject certain parts of the ship in order to have any chance at surviving. Either cut lose the precious cargo of passengers or try to to land everyone safely.

The ship crashes into this lifeless world, and as the survivors band together in search for water, they are faced with Johns (Cole Hauser's) prisoner, Riddick (Vin Diesel). When one of the passengers is suddenly killed, Johns assures everyone Riddick is to blame. But as Fry tries to uncover what exactly took place, she also discovers they are not alone. Strange creatures lurk just below the surface and for now, these flesh eating aliens stay below, avoiding any contact with light. However, Fry has also discovered that even with three suns, keeping predators safely below, calculations predict the suns are about to be replaced by a total eclipse, sending their new eerie world into complete darkness.

Gramercy Pictures, USA Films
Director: David N. Twohy
Writers: Jim Wheat, David N. Twohy, Ken Wheat
Producer: Tom Engelman
I viewed 3/09

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Insider (1999) R - 4 Stars

Also known as "Man of the People The Man Who Knew Too Much", this great movie is based on the true story of the big bucks of the tobacco industry trying to stop one man from exposing scientific data proving nicotine has addictive effects the brain and nervous system. Crowe is great in his role off well as Doctor Jeffrey Wigand, a development and scientific head at Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., who was fired when he suggested the public be informed on the harmful effects of nicotine. Wigand, goes out on a limb and risks loosing everything, his family, marriage and his reputation, over a binding contract with his former company. I especially liked the scene where Wigand's wall paper comes to life in his head.

Here's the Pacino we all know and love, playing Lowell, a producer for "60 Minutes" that wants to air his piece but legality issues make the CBS heads back down. They feared the tobacco industry has such bottomless pockets, it could easily over take and own CBS, on a technicality clause of Wigand's confidentiality contract. Plummer plays a good imitation of the pompous "60 Minutes" George Wallace. Liberties were taken to make the movie more dramatic but the acting is really good all around.

Doctor Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), has been undergoing scientific research for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co. He is bound by a confidentiality agreement to not share his findings with anyone. When he suggests to his boss Thomas Sandefur (Michael Gambon), of the public having the right to know these findings, he is fired. But Mr. Sandefur knows the company has a lot at stake and begins to threaten Wigand and his family, if they speak to anyone.

Meanwhile, Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), a producer for segments on TV's CBS "60 Minutes", has been mysteriously delivered a stack of important tobacco industry findings and seeks out the expertise of Wigand to decipher the information. In the process, their relationship develops a strong personal bond that eventually will come to a head, as they fight to reveal the truth.


1999 - The Insider - Broadcast Film Critics Association - Best Actor
1999 - The Insider - Los Angeles Film Critics Association - Best Cinematography
1999 - The Insider - Los Angeles Film Critics Association - Best Supporting Actor
1999 - The Insider - Los Angeles Film Critics Association - Best Picture
1999 - The Insider - Los Angeles Film Critics Association - Best Actor
1999 - The Insider - National Board of Review - Best Actor
1999 - The Insider - National Society of Film Critics - Best Supporting Actor
1999 - The Insider - National Society of Film Critics - Best Actor

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Director: Michael Mann
Writers: Michael Mann, Eric Roth
Producers: Michael Mann, Pieter Jan Brugge
I viewed 4/09

Sunday, April 19, 2009

National Lampoon Presents: Lost Reality (2004) R - 2 Stars

Man, talk about an offensive film. My neighbor rented this movie and said it was about the funniest thing he's ever seen, so I had to have a look too. Granted it did get a few chuckles out of me of what some people are willing to put themselves through, I was laughing more at that than the actual event. It's crude, lewd and puts down race, religion, mental illness and it's just right out so wrong. It's made for the crowd that likes Jack Ass the movies. Okay the episode entitled "Whore" was probably the funniest and I even laughed at the man stealing dildos. Basically it's a collection of ideas people out there people have come up with for Game Shows, Reality TV, and the Bizarre. I'm glad that my neighbor wasted the money rented it than me. What ever happened to the great flicks National Lampoon did like Vacation and stuff.

Don't ask me even who stars in it, (I don't want to know) who wrote it, (a bunch of sick f*cks), produced, (I guess that would be National Lampoon) directed (there is none here) and there is not even any photos to add (probably a real good thing).
I viewed 4/09

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Personal Effects (2009) R - 3 Stars

The story behind the movie is pretty good but it just didn't go over well. With an all star cast, I expected more and I wasn't convinced in Linda's role as the bawling wedding planner. And Walter I just wasn't convinced he was in as much despair that he gave up wrestling, and instead reduced himself to humiliation in a chicken suit. I think it could have been a better movie.

Walter (Ashton Kutcher) and his mother Gloria (Kathy Bates) frequently attend support groups trying to cope with the loss of Walter's twin sister. She was murdered and mom and son are trying to bring closure. At the same meetings, Linda (Michelle Pfeiffer) attends as her husband was also a victim of murder. Walter and Linda keep unexpectedly keep running into each other while hanging around the court building. Together, they will help to heal each other's pain as a romance begins to bloom.

Gil Netter Productions, Insight Film Studios
Director: David Hollander
Writer: David Hollander
Producers: Tim McGrath, Gil Netter, Christian Arnold-Beutel
I viewed 3/09

Friday, April 17, 2009

Proud (2004) PG - 3 Stars

This is the warm hearted real life story of the only black crew to take a warship into battle, escorting convoys and cheating death, but yet were never recognized for it. In 1944, the U.S. Naval ship, USS Mason and it's crew of all African American sailors would play a major role in World War II. These men risked their lives braving the the treacherous waters of the Atlantic and single handedly chasing away German submarines, making them worthy of medal accommodations. Instead, the men were over looked because of their color as most black men in the Navy were only laborers. It takes the persistence of a grandson, to ensure his grandfather legacy and the others like him, are never forgotten. I really loved that the same characters play the young groups of boys then changed to playing the Naval sailors as the story is reenacted. Good documentary about history that I surely don't remember learning in school.

Lorenzo DuFau (Ossie Davis) is a naval veteran of World War II. Even though he fought to get into combat and tells the story of his importance there, he son never recognises his achievement and treats him poorly. Lorenzo's grandson Larry (Albert Jones), has a few of his friends over one night listening to loud music and when the awaken Lorenzo, they are surprised to hear his impressions on their lives and music. At first Larry just wants to make fun of his grandfather too but as Lorenzo continues, he realizes how important his grandfather was to the war and goes on a crusade to get he and his old crew mates the recognition they deserve. Along with his shipmates James Graham (Erik LaRay Harvey), and Gordon Buchanan (Jeffrey Nash), the story is brought back to life to show the men's ordeal at sea.

THEntertainment, Lionsgate
Director: Mary Pat Kelly
Writer: Mary Pat Kelly
Producer: Ally Hilfiger
I viewed 3/09

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Be Kind Rewind (2008) PG13 - 3½ Stars

Leave it to Jack Black to pull off this movie. I love his energy. Pretty funny comedy that has enough laughs for me to watch it a second time back to back to show other friends. After being zapped with electricity, everything Black walks by becomes demagnetized. Wiping out the entire images of a video store, Black and his friend decide to make their own versions of the movies to rent out. It turns out so well, people now form lines around the block to see their latest release.

Mike (Mos Def), works for Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover), at the local video store. Mr. Fletcher still only rents out VHS tapes as he is trying to keep his store to simpler times of yore. Business is slow and Mr. Fletcher is facing the risk of having to close shop.

Jerry (Jack Black), who works and lives at the local junkyard, is Mike's best friend but he's not suppose to be hanging out at the video store as his sloppy appearance and insulting behavior to the customers keep business away. Lately Jerry has been worrying about the power plant over the junkyard, thinking the electrical waves are doing something to his health. He convinces Mike to help him sabotage the power plant but in the process, Mike heads for home leaving Jerry to fend for himself. One false move and Jerry receives an electrical shock that makes himself a human demagnetiser. Mr. Fletcher has just left the store in Mike's capable hands when feeling like crap, Jerry stumbles in not realizing his very presence is causing all of the videos to become erased. When Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow) decides to check up on Mike to make sure he is doing a good job and to rent a copy of Ghost Busters, she finds the store in shambles. Quick thinking by Jerry, assures her that a copy will be waiting for her before the store closes.

Mike and Jerry grab their video camera and proceed to film their version of Ghost Busters in hopes she will not know the difference. As other customers enter the store to request various titles, it's all Mike and Jerry can do to keep up with the demand. Incorporating friends, family and people off the street, Mike and Jerry form a new film crew that now keeps their new "SWEDENIZED versions in sharp demand. Mr. Fletcher returns to find lines of loyal customers but it is too late as he will have to relinquish the store to developers as he can not afford to pay up on the lease. The whole crew will make one last movie to honor Mr. Fletcher and the videos store's many years of commitment to serving their community.

Focus Features, New Line Cinema
Director: Michel Gondry
Writer: Michel Gondry
Producers: Georges Bermann, Michel Gondry, Julie Fong
I viewed 4/09

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Max Payne (2008) R - 3½ Stars

To me this is a visually stunning, Gothicly erotic, nightmarish evoking, adventure. Though I am not sure if I am making my own interpretation of what the movie intended, my take was the good cop gone bad, after his wife, child and partner are murdered, and he's fighting the evil that now surrounds him, becoming one with it. I think it is the type of movie you may need to see twice or really pay attention to for it's true meaning. Perhaps, my mind was effected more the visuals which took me on a journey ignoring the dialog. Perhaps the acting and direction of the movie is poorly cast and has no real direction, but the very cool animation and pretty decent action kept me entertained.

Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is a cop, now widowed and angry, who wants revenge on the evil forces stirring inside his head that take him on a journey beyond this natural world, to the darker side.

20th Century Fox
Director: John Moore
Writer: Beau Thorne
Producers: Scott Faye, Julie Yorn, John Moore
I viewed 2/09

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Milk (2008) R - 3½ Stars

Growing up in Hollywood and having many "in the closet" gay friends, I remember what it was like for homosexuals risking harm by just walking down the street. The gay movement was making it's home in San Francisco while here in Hollywood, most young gay boys were either pulling tricks for money, or found "sugar daddy's" that attended their every need. But there were also those gay men who genuinely cared for each other, were involved in committed relationships, and just wanted to go out in public with their lovers without risking ridicule and bodily harm. These were the young men my girlfriend and I hung out with as it made life easier for them to frequent the night scene without drawing too much attention. With females present, they were not targets to angry young men looking for someone to beat up for fun.

I can see why Penn won the Oscar, as he gives an award winning performance playing Harvey Milk, the political activist / homosexual. Just turning 40, Milk becomes the voice for the gay community of San Francisco and eventually gets elected onto the board of Supervisors for the city, becoming the first opening gay man to ever be elected to office. But with his success also came his tragedies, when his young lover took his own life. After turning 48, he would be assassinated by a colleague, Dan White. As a teen, I do remember hearing of a man trying to get off murder charges by his plea of the "Twinkies Defense." Until now, I never made the connection to Dan White being the man responsible for ending Harvey Milk's life. White's attorney argued that because Dan ate junk food, his mind had become chemically imbalanced causing him to shoot and kill both Harvey Milk and State Senator John Briggs (Denis O'Hare). This is the true story of Harvey Milks life and his importance in getting the gay community on the map to acceptance. Other important figures include Scott Smith (James Franco), Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch), Anne Kronenberg (Alison Pill), and Danny Nicoletta (Lucas Grabeel), to name a few.

Focus Features
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Dustin Lance Black
Producers: Bruce Cohen, Michael London, Dan Jinks
I viewed 3/09

Monday, April 13, 2009

In the Electric Mist (2009) - 3½ Stars

I thought this movie had a cool feel to it, filmed in the the bayous of New Iberia, Louisiana. The houses seemed so spread out from each other the setting alone gave the movie an uneasy eeriness. I enjoyed the movie mainly for that creepiness alone - a constant uneasiness. But other than Kelly that always had Jones back, I didn't get a sense for who anyone really was. Hard to hate the bad guys because the movie never gives depth into them to make them scary. There are also so many insignificant players to scatter your attention to rather than focused into other than Jones, no one has a between them and murder. Tommy Lee is perfect in his role as Dave but his demeanor reminded me of the sheriff he played in "No Country For Old Men.

I enjoy this type of a mysterious movie and I did enjoy Jones and Goodman working together but this detective has some very unorthodox ways of obtaining information, in comparison with his home life, and I would have liked to see where that stemmed from. Unless it was a gator or anaconda movie they were filming, I didn't get the point of the movie stars seemingly always around, getting into trouble and hanging with Det. Dave.

Dave Robicheaux is a New Orleans detective living along the bayous with his wife Bootsie (Mary Steenburgen) and daughter, Alafair (Alana Locke). A young girl Cheri LaBlanc, was brutally murdered and left along a river bank and Det. Robicheaux is trying to make sense of her senseless demise. With murder on his plate, Det. Dave has a chance encounter pulling over film stars Elrod Sykes (Peter Sarsgaard) and Rosie Gomez (Justina Machado). While driving Sykes to jail, Sykes tells Dave of a pile of bones with chains attached, he came across in the Atchafalaya Swamp. Now investigating two murders, one new and and old one he remembers from his past, the past comes back as a Confederate General helps Dave talk through his plans.

After a second girl is found dead, Det. Robicheaux learns that Cheri LaBlanc, was a known prostitute. His partner Kelly Drummond (Kelly Macdonald) and he uncover a photograph of Cheri and mobster Julie (Baby Feet) Balboni, linking them together. But now that he's onto Balboni, his own daughter is taken hostage and Det. Robicheaux will find the tangled web goes of blame goes way farther up the chain of command to the local sheriff' (Gary Grubbs) and mayor Twinky LeMoyne (Ned Beatty).

Little Bear, Ithaca Pictures, Image Entertainment
Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Writers: Marco Beltrami, Tommy Lee Jones, Jerzy Kromolowski
Producers: Michael Fitzgerald, Frederic Bourboulon
I viewed 3/09

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Australia (2008) PG13 - 4 Stars

Taken place as World War II is unfolding, Australia is a stunningly beautiful movie. Kidman is so good at playing this type of role of "ladyness." Jackman also plays the perfect rugged Australian cowboy, obviously not used to having such a strong determined woman in his face. The two play off each other well making their romantic involvement believable.

Prim and proper Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) inherits a ranch in Australia and travels from England to stake her claim. The moment she steps off the ship, she encounters the rough and tumble call of the outback, known as Australia. She is determined to take over the ranch and raise cattle and enters town in search of the person that will take her to the ranch. Drover (Hugh Jackman) happens to be one of the best cattle drivers around and he drives her to the property. The overnight journey put these two opposites, from different ends of the world, together in an uncomfortable predicament that will eventually bond them together.

Once at the ranch, it's learned that a larger ranch nearby, of English herders, are causing trouble for this new comer, trying to convince her to leave. Drover stays on to help protect her land from these greedy and troublesome neighbors. Sarah is convinced that her ranch can compete in the selling of livestock, and after convincing Drover she is capable of riding a horse, they get together what's left of their ranch hands and attempt to drive a large herd of 2,000 cattle across the dangerous outback. Their journey takes them into the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese and hundreds of miles of beautiful yet treacherous landscape.

2008 - Australia - St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association - Best Cinematography

20th Century Fox Distribution
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Writers: Ronald Harwood, Stuart Beattie, Baz Luhrmann
Producer: Catherine Knapman, G. Mac Brown, Baz Luhrmann
I viwed 3/09

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Zola's Intermission Take 12

Hold it Right There!!!

Can you believe it, I forgot to celebrate my 1 year anniversary. Yes we made it, Zola's Movie Pics turned one year old on 3-21-09. Wow has the time flown by, but I am happy to report that I have just started my review of my 636 movie. That's almost averaging two a day. My hope is that you have enjoyed my reviews and have found movies to enjoyed because of them. I feel my reviews have gotten better over the year. When reading some of my earlier reviews, I think you'll agree, they've come a long way. Pages still await me of text I have written but yet to convert to computer. I fear this could take a life time and never catch up as I continue to enjoy great movies. Okay some not all that great, but in the long run, it's been quite the adventure. Movies do entertain and at least for me, they're better than our selection on T.V.. So yes I'm tooting my horn, having a shot and thanks for reading along with me. Here's to many more years of great movies!

Left of the Dial (2005) NR - 3 Stars

As my sister and I watched this documentary, we both found it somewhat busy and distracting but I found it fairly interesting and she hated every annoying moment of it. Where I could appreciate the determination of Al Franken and his crew struggling to get Air America - Left of the Dial, a completely different left approach to talk radio, on the air, she saw just a bunch of people arguing and blah blah blahing. Finally someone to take on the Rush Limbaugh and Bill O"Reilly's. I am a registered Democratic with very liberal views and she is the extreme opposite, Conservative Republican. So, I guess depending on where you fit in, will depend if it's worth the rental or not.

The documentary follows the trials and tribulations associated with creating and sustaining a national radio network, Air America Radio, especially during a politically-charged election year. It interviews people like Al Franken, Evan Cohen and Mark Walsh, and even Michal Moore has a role, of course. But after many setbacks of financial ruin, Air America Radio finally went live on March 31, 2004.

Hbo Home Video
Directors: Patrick Farrelly, Kate O'Callaghan
Producers: Patrick Farrelly, Kate O'Callaghan
I viewed 3/09

Friday, April 10, 2009

Changeling (2008) R - 4½ Stars

I really loved this amazing movie. Angelina Jolie is so great at evoking emotions playing the mother of a kidnapped boy. She really does a great job at making you feel like this nightmare is really happening to you the viewer. Set in the late 1920's and based on the true events of the corruption at the Los Angeles Police Dept., that almost drives one mother insane, when the wrong child is forced upon her after her child is abducted.

Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), kisses her young son Walter (Gattlin Griffith) goodbye and heads off to work. Upon returning home, she finds Walter is no where to be found. Her panics leads her to the streets calling out his name and eventually to the Los Angeles Police Dept. She files a missing report but her life will never be the same. Months go by and no word about Walter's disappearance until one day the police have a young boy claiming to be her child. This is just what the police need to boast their morality in the public eyes and they invite the press to capture the reuniting of the two. But when Christine looks at the boy, she's sure he's not her son. And even though the boy claims he is Walter, Christine notices differences but is assured that after all these months away, she's still in a semi shock over his return.

Christine and Walter return to her home where the more they interact, the more she is sure this is not her son. He doesn't measure up to the marking on the wall her and her son made every year. But no matter how hard she tries to convince the police this is not her son, the more they pressure her into not making the police department look foolish. Christine is unwilling to except the fact her real son is no longer being looking for and the only one who seems to believe her story is a local radio activist, Reverend Briegleb (John Malkovich). She may never realise how lucky she is to have him on her side.

2008 - Changeling - Women Film Critics Circle - Adrienne Shelly Award
2008 - Changeling - Women Film Critics Circle - Best Movie About Women

Universal Pictures
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Producers: Robert Lorenz, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer
I viewed 3/09

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rachel Getting Married (2008) R - 3½ Stars

Let me just say that if I ever get married, I want a wedding like Rachel has. Beautiful, laid back, fun, spiritual in a different way, and of course slightly dysfunctional. Though there's nothing fun or beautiful about whats happening with Kym that causes her to become the family black sheep. I guess I could relate to her in a little as I've been known to be the party girl of my family. The movie's not that all exciting but does make you feel. Especially if you've grown up with a siblings always fighting for attention. The casting is believable with the families looking like the belong to one another. I especially liked the wedding cape and garb. Great acting, Hathaway is great playing Kym and very believable.

Rachel Buchman (Rosemarie DeWitt) is getting married. Everything is working out well with her loving family and adoring friends right be her side. All that's missing is her sister Kym (Anne Hathaway), to stand by her side as she marries the man she loves, Sidney Williams (Tunde Adebimpe). Kym is just being released from rehab and as soon as she returns to the family, everyone is wondering if she will be okay or have a melt down relapse and ruin the ceremony. Even though the storm's cleared up making the outdoor services possible, everyone is holding their breath to see if Kym will become the dark cloud over the happy occasion.

Awards include:

2008 - Rachel Getting Married - Alliance of Women Film Journalists - Best Woman Screenwriter
2008 - Rachel Getting Married - Chicago Film Critics Association - Best Actress
2008 - Rachel Getting Married - Toronto Film Critics Association - Best Director
2008 - Rachel Getting Married - Austin Film Critics - Best Actor
2008 - Rachel Getting Married - Utah Film Critics - Best Screenplay

Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Jonathan Demme
Writer: Jenny Lumet
Producers: Jonathan Demme, Neda Armian, Marc E. Platt
I viewed 4/09

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Seven Pounds (2008) PG13 - 4½ Stars

What's not to love about this very emotional drama. I'm not sure why it didn't get better reviews as it's absolutely a great movie. Will Smith is outstanding in his role as the empty shell of a man plagued with quilt, trying to do the right thing. I think he should have won the Oscar for his portrayal. Smith is on a mission to give seven very special gifts to seven different people, that will change their lives forever. You don't see much in the trailer to give away the story and even though at times it slows down, Smith just immerses you into strong feelings of emotions. I don't want to give too much away in this one as you need to experience the entire movie almost blindly. The pet jelly fish is such an unusually sensual twist to the story.

Ben Thomas (Will Smith), assumes the identity of his younger brother (Michael Ealy), and posses as an IRS agent. He sets out in search of redemption and winds up meeting, and unexpectedly falling in love with one of his clients, Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson). Along the way, he will meet and change the live of seven different strangers.

Sony Pictures Releasing
Director: Gabriele Muccino
Writer: Grant Nieporte
Producers: Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch, Todd Black
I viewed 4/09

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Love to Hide (2005) NR - 4½ Stars

Reall great true love triangle, in German and French with subtitles, it takes place in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942. A Love to Hide is a Holocaust story from the homosexual point of view. It wasn't until 1989 that homosexuals were even acknowledged as being a part of this important time in history. Known as "Vichy persecution of the third sex" in Paris, there was a lot more going on then people realized. Really excellent acting from everyone and even without subtitles, the visual images on screen tells the story. Well written with excellent direction, this movie belongs in the Holocaust archives.

Sara (Louise Monot), is a young Jewish girl living with her family in Paris. When the Germans occupy her country, her proud father refuses to bow down and leave their home while they had the chance. Instead, a smuggler sells her family short and Sara witnesses them family killed by the Nazi's, barely escaping with her own life. With no where to run to, she shows up at the home of a childhood friend Jean (Jeremie Renier), whom she has always felt a love for. Jean offers her shelter but needs to convince his lover Phillipe (Bruno Todeschini), that Sara will not tell of their homosexual affair. In those times, being found to be a homosexual was just as bad as admitting you were a Jew. Jean decides the only way to safely hide Sara is to disguise her as a employee of the family laundry business.

The three form an unlikely bond where both Phillipe and Sara are in love with Jean. His brother Jacques (Nicholas Gob), just released from prison and a black marketeer who would sell his soul for a buck, never measures up in his father's eyes. Jean is the prodigy son and when Jacques discovers his homosexuality secret, he getting him out of the picture for a little while will force his father and Sara to notice him. He sells Jean's arrest to the Gestapo in exchange for addresses from the laundry. But his plan backfires when Sara and he watch in horror Jean is taken away to a Nazi concentration camp where he has experiments preformed on him in order to get rid of his gay thoughts. Now, there's no one even Jacques can pay to help get Jean out.

Merlin Productions, France 2 (FR2)
Director: Christian Fauré
Writers: Samantha Mazeraz, Pascale Fontanille
Producers: Laetitia Bartoli, Pascale Fontanille, Francois Aramburu
I viewed 3/09

Monday, April 6, 2009

Keith (2008) PG13 - 3½ Stars

I liked the movie because in a way it reminded me of growing up with an old boyfriend named Keith driving a truck and a lot like him. Here you have a prom queen type perfect girl, who falls for a jock looking guy and it all seems typical, right? But instead of living happily ever after, she fancies the idea that Keith seems to be shaking her up in ways she doesn't understand. At least speaking for myself, I love the "unconventional" in a man and in "Keith." He's not about show, he has an extreme quirky side but still intelligent, doesn't need to show off to get your attention because and has the self confident cockyness to eventually drive you mad, because you can't stop thinking about him. Keith is a pretty good movie about a boy who enjoys taking risks while at the same time, forces you out of your comfort zone, trying to be with him. I think they picked the right actors for the movie as I believed I was actually watching teenagers, not someone older trying to play young.

Natalie (Elisabeth Harnois), seems to have the perfect life. A great supportive family that watch her every tennis match, perfect grades in school, great looks, and even a scholarship for college. When the new guy Raff (Ignacio Serricchio), comes to town, Natalie makes quick work to make sure he notices her. Soon after, the two become somewhat of an item.

Keith (Jesse McCartney), on the other hand, appears to live quite differently. With little concern for school work, no social network of friends, does not dress to impress, and drives a beat up truck, he's pretty much an outcast labeled "strange guy." But when a class in chemistry hooks up the unlikely pair up, Natalie becomes fascinated with Keith and makes it her challenge to see discover what makes him tick.

Gray Area Entertainment, Lili Claire Communications, No Hands Productions
Director: Todd Kessler
Writers: David Zabel, Todd Kessler
Producers: Todd Kessler, Rebecca Hobbs
I viewed 3/09

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nobel Son (2007) PG13 - 3 Stars

The first thing I have to say is the musical score, sucks! My volume control button never got such a work out between the highs and lows, and in my opinion, the music just doesn't fit with the style of the movie. Plus, a couple of the sped up scenes are enough to make one nauseous. But having said that, the psychological plot is well written making the movie work for me up until the end. Pretty decent acting from Greenberg, Rickman, Hatosy and DeVito and I really liked the mall scenes.

Barkley Michaelson (Bryan Greenberg), a hard working student finishing his PHD thesis, has never lived up to his dad's expectations or felt worthy in his father eyes. His father, Eli Michaelson (Alan Rickman), professor, philanderer, scientist and egotist, has just been informed he's won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. His mother, Sarah (Mary Steenburgen), forensic psychiatrist, is quite aware of Eli's extramarital affairs, but stays by his side as the family gets ready to embarks for
award ceremonies abroad, where Eli will be presented his prize. Gastner (Danny DeVito), who lives on the property, will be looking after the exterior of the home, water plants, etc. Barkely has a late arrival at home, and his parents depart for the airport, leaving his tickets behind for Barkely to catch up. But Barkely never makes it to the airport as he's been kidnapped with a requested ransom of the $2,000,000, Eli will receive in Nobel prize money. Eli doesn't take the call seriously, refusing to pay until a thumb is delivered to his limousine.

Freestyle Releasing
Director: Randall Miller
Writer: Jody Savin, Randall Miller
Producers: Randall Miller, Jody Savin
I viewed 3/09