Sunday, May 31, 2009

Racing with the Moon (1984) PG - 3½ Stars

Wait till you see how young Sean Penn and Nicholas Cage are in this movie. Set in 1942, two young men are about to go to war and plan on seeking as much fun, romance and adventure they can cram in before they leave. Not a huge thriller movie, just a coming of age story about the innocence of life.

It's 1942 and have just six short weeks before Henry "Hopper" Nash (Sean Penn), and his friend Nicky (Nicolas Cage), will become Marines and serve their country in World War II. The two are set to have some fun and a little romance before they leave. Hopper notices one girl in particular, Caddie Winger (Elizabeth McGovern), that he can't keep his eyes off of. He's especially attracted to her as he believes she is from money based on where she is living. Their relationship develops into a true romantic encounter.

Meanwhile, the always mischievous Nicky, gets his girlfriend Sally Kaiser (Suzanne Adkinson), pregnant and without the funds to pay for an abortion, he turns to Hopper for money. When Hopper can't produce, he forces her to involve Caddie to borrow money from her wealthy family. All of their relationships will be tested as well as the friendship between the two boys before they go off to war.

Paramount Pictures
Director: Richard Benjamin
Writer: Steve Kloves
Producers: Sherry Lansing, Stanley Jaffe, Alain Bernheim
I viewed 5/09

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bedtime Stories (2008) PG - 3½ Stars

What child doesn't like bedtime stories? But the stories Adam Sandler tells, seem to manifest themselves into the real world causing some screwy effects in his life. I'm not a big Andy Sandler fan but he's toned down even enough for me, and the children should enjoy the adventures in his stories.

Skeeter Bronson (Adam Sandler) was always the adventurous boy never taking the world at face value. For him, growing up in a small hotel owned and operated by his father Marty Bronson (Jonathan Pryce), he was always the type to tinker with things and ask the questions why. But alas, his father was not quite the best business man and he had to sign the papers over to hotel chain entrepreneur Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths), who promises Skeeter a job when he grows up. And that he does, just not the job Skeeter had envisioned of hotel manager but instead handyman. Over worked and under appreciated, Skeeter lives a humble solitude life. That is until his sister Wendy (Courtney Cox), must suddenly leave town for a job interview. She entrusts her children, Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit), and Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling), to Uncle Skeeter's care, with many restrictions on what they are allowed to eat and do. Skeeter feels the safest thing to do is send them to bed so he can't screw anything up.

Patrick and Bobbi are accustomed to bedtime stories and even though Skeeter is no expert, he calls on the days of stories from his dad and quickly ad libs a bedtime tale, to their liking. But as the children become more involved in the stories, ad libbing their own lines, Skeeter noticed that parts of the stories are starting to happen in his real life. As he tries to guide the children's direction of story telling into his own personal gain, he finds you can't trick fate and love might already be standing right in front of you.

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Director: Adam Shankman
Writers: Tim Herlihy, Matt Lopez
Producers: Andrew Gunn, Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo
I viewed 5/09

Thursday, May 28, 2009

White Oleander (2002) PG13 - 3½ Stars

A very young Michelle Pfeiffer, she plays Ingrid a possessive, controlling over the edge mother, who has committed murder and even from jail, still is in control of her daughters thoughts. Alison Lohman, is quite beautiful playing the daughter forced to grow up too fast when she is left to fend for herself in a variety of foster homes.

Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer), and 15 year old Astrid Magnusson (Alison Lohman), live a somewhat carefree life of artistic bliss. Ingrid has taught her daughter to be independent from men and as long as she stays true to her art, it will provide for her better than any man. But Ingrid is a loaded gun of emotions and proves it one day as she kills her boyfriend for abandoning her, while Astrid waits in the car. When the police arrive at the door to take Ingrid away, Astrid finds herself orphaned and alone and placed in a foster home with Starr (Robin Wright Penn), and her boyfriend Ray (Cole Hauser), along with two other small children. Astrid looks up to Ray having never had a father figure in her life but the attraction increases her sexuality, driving Starr insanely jealous, finally shooting Astrid in an attempt to end the pain.

Astrid is plucked from the surroundings and put in an institution run by the state for orphaned teens. Astrid again must be asked to grow up quickly and learn to defend herself against the other troubled youth in the home. She retaliates by chopping her hair off and befriending Paul (Patrick Fugit), a cartoon artist, who's the only other one she can relate to. Once again, Astrid is giving another chance when Claire Richards (Renée Zellweger), and her husband Ron (Noah Wyle), who can not have children of their own, bring Astrid in to mend their relationship in the home. Claire herself is an insecure emotional wreck and Astrid is just what she needed to make herself feel whole. Together the two form a tight bond until Ingrid finds out her daughter is no longer in need of her guidance. She contacts Claire and feeds her without enough poisonous doubt to drive a wedge between her daughter and Claire. But Astrid must make a choice, putting her mother's wishes aside, freeing herself from the control of her adolescence to blossom into the next stage in life.

Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution, John Wells Productions, Oleander Productions, Pandora Films
Director: Peter Kosminsky
Writer: Mary Agnes Donoghue
Producers: John Wells, Hunt Lowry
I viewed 5/09

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Yes Man (2008) PG13 - 3½ Stars

You have to love all the crazy faces Carrey is able to contort his face to. Like the pumped up scene with Red Bull or the scotch taping of his face, "Yes Man" is a very cute romantic comedy also staring Zooey Deschanel. I think she is a perfect match to add that off the wall touch balancing Carrey's behavior. I especially like the motorcycle ride at the end and the
super high buzz at Griffith park.

Carl Allen (Jim Carrey), is a banker stagnant in his job and becoming a bit of a recluse in his home life ever since his break up with girlfriend Stephanie (Molly Sims). Stephanie has found new love with a wealthy man that can give her anything her heart desires. Carl, on the other hand, is stuck in a time warp, always at local video store, renting movies, and staying at home ignoring the phone. (Wow sounds like me!) haha. But his life is about to change when he attends a self help meeting and introduced to the leader, Mr. Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp), "Yes Man" guru himself. Terrance's tells Carl "You say no to life and therefore you are not living." He convinces Carl that if he will start answering YES to every situation, he can open his life to all sorts of new opportunities.

It starts right away when Carl is approached by a homeless man (Brent Briscoe), who asks for a ride to his home in the bushes of Elysian Park. Carl obliges and also gives the man all of the money in his wallet. As he leaves, he runs out of gas and realises his cell phone is dead after letting the homeless man reach out and touch all his family and friends. Off down the road he goes to get some gas when he is approached by Allison (Zooey Deschanel), on a moped, who offers him a ride back to his car. Before long, Carl finds himself saying yes to each and every situation as his friends Peter (Bradley Cooper), Norman (Rhys Darby), and Nick (John Michael Higgins), notice major changes in Carl. Life is good for Carl, who gets a promotion at work and a new chance at love with Allison, that is until Allison realises Carl's just been saying yes due to the seminar rather than because of her. Now Carl has to start choosing his words very carefully if he is to win the heart of the girl he truly loves.

Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Jarrad Paul, Andy Mogel, Nick Stoller
Producers: David Heyman, Richard D. Zanuck
I viewed 5/09

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Confession (2005) R - 3½ Stars

I love it when I get one of the free "inside" movies from Blockbuster and it turns out to be good. I'm surprised the movie didn't get better ratings as I thought it was a pretty good drama with some powerful performances by Bosley, and Daddo who is sworn to secrecy by hearing the truth through confession. He would rather take the blame than go against all he believes in his religion.

Luther Scott (Chris Pine) is the boy in school who is smart as a whip but doesn't always use his head. Instead he is finding ways to corrupt the men's dorm at St. Michael's Catholic Prep School. Along with his room mate, Robbie Willingham (Lukas Behnken) he sells beer, videos and Playboy Magazines to the other students to break up their boring school routines. When the boys are caught drinking in their dorm by Father Thomas Parker (Bruce Davison), all are brought in for questioning. No one opens their mouth to the truth except, David Bennet (Adam Bussell), which gets Luther and Robbie terminated from the school. Luther convinces Robbie to get David and make him pay for what he has done. Dressed in a white robe, Luther, finds David and chases him to the second story bridge of campus. There, the two wrestle until David falls from the railing to the pavement below. While Robbie runs to hide, Luther runs straight to Father Michael Kelly's (Cameron Daddo), confessional to explain his side of the story. He knows that Father Kelly will be bound to secrecy for his confession based on their religion.

When detective William Fletcher (Peter Greene), investigates the death, a witness comes forward to say he saw a white robed priest run from the scene. Father Abbot Sutton (Tom Bosley) assists detective Fletcher in questioning the priests one by one. Now Father Kelly's faith will be tested as he is framed for the murder of David and refuses to speak about what he knows.

Crazy Dreams Entertainment, Artist View Entertainment
Director: Jonathan Meyers
Writer: Jonathan Meyers
Producers: Randy Holleschau, Craig Anderson, Alex Yanev
I watched 5/09

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mini's First Time (2006) R - 2½ Stars

Another one for the Bizarre collection, "Mini's First Time" is one of those movies that you have to shake your head for. I have to say that I was a bit taken back when the daughter is all of a sudden sleeping with the dad. I guess I didn't realise right away that Martin was actually Mini's step father and found it quit strange to see her sleeping with him. Either I wasn't paying attention to the dialogue well or the director didn't totally make that clear.

Mini (Nikki Reed), is a spoiled 18 year old teen age girl living wealthy and getting what she wants. She lives with her stepfather Martin (Alec Baldwin), and her rather annoying mother Diane (Carrie-Anne Moss). Mini has never felt loved and rebels against her mother at every given opportunity. She believes that everything should always be experienced for the "first time," regardless what the outcome is. And she finds that the easiest way to get what she wants, is to get her mother out of the picture. She seduces her step father Martin into taking her mother out. But not without attracting attention by Detective John Garson (Luke Wilson), and her neighbor Mike Ruddell (Jeff Goldblum).

2006 - Mini's First Time - Women Film Critics Circle - WFCC Hall of Shame

First Independent Pictures, Bold Films, Trigger Street Productions
Director: Nick Guthe
Writer: Nick Guthe
Producers: Evan Astrowsky, Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti
I viewed 5/09

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Away From Her (2006) PG13 - 3½ Stars

A sad look into Alzheimer's Disease, and how it can effect you and the ones you love. Do we cease to exist when our memories of what used to be fade away? An aging couple has been married for most of their lives and their love alone has provided them throughout the years. Now as the wife forgets the man she is married to, he must come to grips with watching her slip away from his life. Strong performances by Christie as you watch her seemingly somewhat sane, but loosing all concepts of reality and Anderson hopelessly watching their demise.

Fiona (Julie Christie), and Grant Anderson (Gordon Pinsent), have been married and "Soul Mates" for many happy years. Retired, they live in a nice country setting where their favorite past time of cross country skiing is right outside their back door. As time passes by, Grant notices Fiona loosing track of simple things the couples once did like putting things that don't belong in the refrigerator and always seeming to not know what she did 5 minutes ago. Now into their elder years, Grant, still strongly in love with Fiona, has overlooked the small things to make her life as comfortable as possible. But as Fiona realises her mind is slipping away, she insists she be taken to a home allowing the burden removed from her husband. Gordon reluctantly goes along with Fiona's plans as he is compassionate to her needs. Once she's checked in, the focused home's Administrator Madeleine (Wendy Crewson), insists there be no communications with his wife for one month to allow her to settle into her new permanent home.

Gordon feels like he is giving up on his wife, but allows her wishes and travels to the home to see her, if only from a far. Veronica (Deanna Dezmari), a nurse at the home, shows Gordan the understanding needed as he watches his wife interact with patients at the home. As Fiona becomes more settled her nurturing tendencies come out allowing her to become close to another patient, Aubrey (Michael Murphy), who's suffering from the same memory loss but farther advanced. Other than Veronica, Aubrey's wife Marian (Olympia Dukakis), is the only one Gordon can relate to and he looks to her for answers on what to do next. Together, they try and find the strength to do what's best for their lives.

Awards include:

2007 - Away From Her - Alliance of Women Film Journalists - Best Adapted Screenplay
2007 - Away From Her - New York Film Critics Circle - Best First Film
2007 - Away From Her - Ohio Film Critics - Breakthrough Film Artist
2007 - Away From Her - Screen Actors Guild - Best Actress
2007 - Away From Her - National Board of Review - Best Independent Film

Lionsgate, Victorious Films, Pulling Focus Pictures, The Film Farm, Foundry Films
Director: Sarah Polley
Writer: Sarah Polley
Producers: Simone Urdl, Daniel Iron, Jennifer Weiss
I viewed 5/09

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Dirty Shame (2004) NC17 - 2 Stars

This has got to be one of the strangest movies I've seen in awhile regarding sex. It even brings to the table, David Hasselhoff taking a poop in the sky. Tracy Ullman, Chris Issak, Johnny Knowville, what were you thinking?

This whole town is awakened sexually when they are smacked in the head by the cosmic sex drive taking over the city. Though some, the "neuters," try and hold up decency in the neighborhood, the sex bug eventually effects everyone and they all need it now. Eeeeeeek scary! Leave it to John Waters.

The Pinewood Park and Pay local market is where Sylvia Stickles (Tracey Ullman) and her husband Vaughn (Chris Isaak) work. Vaughn awakens each morning with his manly hood proudly displayed but Sylvia doesn't seem interested. Upstairs, under lock and key, is their daughter Caprice (Selma Blair), also known as who Ursula Udders due to her excessively large breasts. While Sylvia is driving to work one morning she runs out of gas and needs the immediate attention of the local perverted tow truck driver Ray-Ray (Johnny Knoxville), to pump new life into her. When she's knocked on the head and sent crashing to the street, her sexuality awakens while she tries to hump everything in sight on the way home. And even though her mother Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd), tries to turn off the town, even she becomes overwhelmed when the love bug smacks her upside the head.

New Line Cinema
Director: John Waters
Writer: John Waters
Producers: Ted Hope, Christine Vachon
I viewed 5/09

Friday, May 22, 2009

Taken (2009) PG13 - 4 Stars

According to the U.S. Department of State, there are an estimated 800,000 – 1,200,000 children, women and men trafficked across international borders each year. 70 percent are female and 50 percent are children. The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade.

I almost gave "Taken" 4 stars not because it's a great 4 star movie, but because I did enjoy the action scenes and perhaps making the public more aware of the act of human trafficking. While Neeson performance seemed to be a cross between James Bond and Jack Bauer, I really enjoyed his enthusiasm being one invincible bad ass. Let's just say, he made the movie, almost on his own. Though a lot of scenes are pretty far fetched, I am aware that these types of human trafficking rings do exist and the kidnapping of men, women and children drugged and used as sex slaves, does happen.

Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), used to work for the government undercover taking care of the bad guys. But his job took him away from his wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), and his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), so since the divorce he has not been able to spend much time with Kim. Now semi retired from his position, he's given up the spy work to move closer and rediscover his relationship with his daughter.

Lenore has remarried into wealth and Kim pretty much has everything she needs making Bryan's birthday gift look meager in comparison to her new step father's present of a fine filly. But when Kim and her friend Amanda convince dad to let them travel to Paris alone, it will be dad, who comes to the rescue to save his daughter just in time before she drifts below the surface of ever being found.

20th Century Fox Distribution
Director: Pierre Morel
Writers: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Producers: Luc Besson, India Osborne, Pierre-Ange Le Pogam
I viewed 5/09

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I've Loved You So Long... (2007) PG13 - 3½ Stars

If you can handle sub titles, this is a great little drama with outstanding strong performances, by Kristin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein. Juliette (Thomas), has spent 15 years in prison for the murder of her son. You really feel her emptiness as she comes to grip with what she's done. Lea (Zylberstein), is the loving forgivable sister, almost naive to understanding the reality of what Juliette's done.

Juliette Fontaine (Kristin Scott Thomas), has been estranged from her family since the night of the murder. Her sister Lea (Elsa Zylberstein), hardly remembers her older sister, only the fact that their mother, now in a home, has never forgiven her. It's been 15 long years and Juliette has lived with the painful reminder of that horrible night. Now, free and no where to go, Lea invites her to move in until she gets settled and finds a job. Luc (Serge Hazanavicius), Lea's husband, keeps his guard up towards Juliette, as they have two small children in the family. With everyone walking on pins and needles, Juliette must cut deep into her soul, to share tragic details that have haunting her alive.

2008 - I've Loved You So Long... - Women Film Critics Circle - Best Foreign Film

Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Philippe Claudel
Writer: Philippe Claudel
Producer: Yves Marmion
I viewed 4/09

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Music Within (2007) R - 4 Stars

What a great little movie. And the fact that it's based on the true life story of Richard Pimentel, I actually learned something too. Definitely a movie I recommend to watch. The music that follows each period, is an outstanding collection all by itself.

Richard Pimentel (Ron Livingston) was born in Portland Oregon to a mother (Rebecca De Mornay) who pretty much lost her mind after having 7 miscarriages before Richard was born. She couldn't cope that a child had survived and drove him to California, giving him up to a catholic orphanage. 2 years later she remembered where she left him and went to fetch him and bring him back home. Soon after she returned, his father divorced them.

In 1969 a Chinese merchant named Del Fong took him under his wing until he died from a soy sauce accident. He then worked in a go-go girls restaurant trying to study as he realized he had a talent for public speech. The girls help get him dressed nicely for a visit to college to prove worthy of a scholarship. The College Bowl founder Dr. Ben Padrow (Hector Elizondo), loved his talent but tells him he has no heart in what he speaks. Discouraged he leaves and tries to find his true calling. He decides to enlist in the 1970 Vietnam War. There he becomes a hero and is decorated and while celebrating the victory, a missile lands on the tent and renders Richard deaf. Well not totally deaf, but he now suffers from tinnitus and can not hear most peoples voice from the ringing in his ears. But something good does come from it.

He meets Mike Stoltz (Yul Vázquez) who lost his leg in the war, and he and Mike begin to work with each other to find jobs for disabled vets. He also meets Art Honeyman (Michael Sheen) who has Cerebral Palsy but strangely he is able to hear Art's voice clearly between stutters. The two become friends and everywhere they go, people look at Art like a freak and don't want to be in the same room with him. He takes Art rollerskating in his wheel chair and literally runs into Christine (Melissa George) a hip free love sort of girl. The three become friends and after Art and he are refused service at a restaurant because Art looks too freaky and making people uncomfortable, he fights for the rights of disabled people.

In 1988 he starts a program called "Windmill" to help bring to light the ADA American w/ Disabilities Act and speaks and trains CIA agents, NASA and more to learn how to work with disabled people. When George Bush is elected president in 1992 he gets the act finally passed by Congress.

Richard and Art are still friends to this day. Unfortunately Mike took his own life still scared from the war. Today the "Perspectives" program Mike started for training and helping revolutionize the modern workplace, is in place in 23 countries.

MGM Distribution
Director: Steven Sawalich
Writers: Mark Andrew Olsen, Kelly Kennemer, Bret McKinney
Producers: Steven Sawalich, Brett Donowho
I viewed 4/08

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Trudell (2005) NR - 2½ Stars

John Trudell was a political activist and the major voice for the American Indian Movement "AIM" in 1968. In 1969 he was involved with the occupation of Alcatraz Island as they wanted the prison to be used as a school for their children. In 1973 he became chairman of the group. When his wife, mother-in-law, and three daughters were burned in a fire, some say the FBI was responsible. For earlier that year, he was involved in a protest that burned an American flag on the doorsteps of the FBI building. The FBI devoted over 17,000 pages labeling him "extremely eloquent, therefore extremely dangerous".

After his families death he turned once again to his writings as a poet. Musician Jackson Browne read some of these lyrics and encourages to song. This gave him another avenue to express his political and personal concerns.

This documentary was made while Native American filmmaker Heather Rae followed Trudell and interviewed his friends for over 12 years. Trudell still has an active voice in AIM today.

Appaloosa Pictures
Director: Heather Rae
Producer2: Heather Rae, Elyse Katz
I viewed 10/07

Monday, May 18, 2009

Last Chance Harvey (2008) PG 13 - 3½ Stars

They say there is someone out there in the world for everyone and sometimes you have to step out of yourself in order to find yourself. That's what Harvey does, when the rest of his life is falling apart and feeling pretty meaningless, he finds new hope in a chance meeting with fate.

Harvey Shine (Dustin Hoffman) has always wanted to be a great jazz pianist. Instead, he's resorted to writing jingles for commercials. When he leaves work to travel to his daughter Susan's (Liane Balaban), wedding in London, he is told by his boss (Richard Schiff), to take more time as he will have the younger, fresher staff, take care of his account. But Harvey, vows to be back on Monday, feeling he is the only one who can land the account.

Once in London, Harvey just seems to be in an out of place environment. After checking into his hotel, he learns the rest of the wedding party has been housed in a very private and special home. He also gets the instructions wrong and buys a new white suit to wear to the rehearsal dinner where everyone else is in black. With the security anti-theft device firmly attached to his arm, Harvey makes the appearance at the dinner only to find out that he's been replaced at giving his daughter away, by her new stepfather Brian (James Brolin). Feeling like an outsider where he doesn't belong, he decides he will attend the wedding and return back home to continue with his jungles. But nothing seems to be going right for Harvey as he misses his plane and is forced to spend another night in London. When he calls his boss to explain why he won't be in on Monday, his boss fires him telling him he's basically a has been and no longer needed at his job.

Meanwhile, Kate Walker (Emma Thompson) is feeling like her live is going no where too. With her mother Maggie (Eileen Atkins), constantly calling her over her mysterious events of the neighbor, Kate is beginning to feel that she doesn't have much going on in her life. Even when her friends try and set her up, she still manages to come off like an outsider with little recognition. So she tries to loose herself by keeping her nose in romantic novels. After the wedding, Harvey returns to the airport to find he has missed the flight and can not get back to New York until the following day. So Harvey strolls up to the airport bar to start loosing his troubles in alcohol. Kate is there on her break and as Harvey pushes Kate to strike up a conversation, they find they both have had pretty miserable days and decide to find comfort in hearing how bad each others stories are. Realising they have been leading pretty empty lives, the two find true love and happiness at a time when they both need it the most.

Overture Films, Process Media
Director: Joel Hopkins
Writer: Joel Hopkins
Producers: Nicola Usborne, Tim Perell
I viewed 5/09

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saving Grace (2000) R - 3½ Stars

For all you marijuana lovers come a perfect British comedy about growing it. Grace Trevethan (Brenda Blethyn), has spent most of her life being a housewife keeping herself busy in her garden. Money had never been an issue, thanks to her husband who kept her life style in the upper middle class. Life is good for Grace until one day her husband is tragically killed. Since he always made the financial decisions, she now has to think quickly to keep the bank from taking her home. The entire town of Cornwall feels for her and tries to offer help but Grace is a proud woman determined to find her own way. She's not a business woman and with gardening her best skill, she struggles to come up with a plan for making money at it.

When she enlists the help of her care taker / gardener Matthew (Craig Ferguson), he perfects her newly learned cross pollination skills, and the two are exposed to the art of growing some kick ass wacky tobacky. Life is good until drug lord Jacques (Tcheky Karyo), learns why his business has slowed down. It seems that Grace and her perfect Indigo, have put a real damper in his profits and he will stop at nothing to take her down.

2000 - Saving Grace - Sundance Film Festival - Audience Award for World Cinema Film.

Fine Line Features
Director: Nigel Cole
Writer: Craig Ferguson
I viewed 10/07

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) PG13 - 4 Stars

Really great movie but wow it is long. It took me a few viewings to get through the entire movie and I think it would be best to watch it all in one sitting. I do like the direction the movie took, based on the 1920's story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, an ailing mother is awaiting her fate, while her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond), reads the diary of her mothers romance with a man in her youth. As she reads the diary, she discovers the story of her true father and the events that took place with her mother Daisy (Cate Blanchett) in 1918 New Orleans towards the end of World War I.

Thomas Button (Jason Flemyng), lost his wife as she gave birth to their only child Benjamin. But Benjamin was not a normal baby, in the body of a baby, he is afflicted with a crippling disease of an 80 year old man. Hideous to look at, his father takes him immediately from the crib and leaves him on the doorsteps of Queenie (Taraji P. Henson), a young black woman, running a home for the aging. Queenie looks at Benjamin as a miracle from God and takes him in and raises him as her own since she is unable to bare children. The movie follows Benjamin's life, as he ages backwards, meeting the love of his live, Daisy taking them both into the 21st Century.

Awards include:

2008 - Academy Winner - Best Art Direction - Donald Graham Burt, Victor Zolfo
2008 - Academy Winner - Best Makeup - Greg Cannom
2008 - Academy Winner - Best Visual Effects - Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt C. Dalton, Craig Barron
2008 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - American Film Institute - Best Picture
2008 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Houston Film Critics - Best Cinematography
2008 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - National Board of Review - Best Director
2008 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association - Most Original, Innovative or Creative Film

Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Paramount Pictures
Director: David Fincher
Writer: Eric Roth
Producers: David Fincher, Kathleen Kennedy, Cean Chaffin
I viewed 5/09

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fat Man & Little Boy (1989) PG13 - 3 Stars

Once again a movie enlightens me as I never paid attention to the nicknames of the atomic bombs made to drop over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With the general pushing the men to make a deadline, no one stopped to think about what it would be used to do. Paul Newman gives a strong performance of General Leslie Groves and while the movie is interesting I just didn't find it fully captivating until the accident. The movie is shown through the eyes of the men responsible for building these first atomic bombs.

The movie takes focus on the people who worked on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico. With the onset of World II, the best scientists are called in to discover the mechanics needed to make the most powerful explosive, the U.S. can provide. J. Robert Oppenheimer (Dwight Schultz), is a atomic scientist, in charge of the project and finds he and his crew get caught up in the discovery and deadline, without considering the consequences of its use.

Kathleen Robinson (Laura Dern), is a nurse at the site with limited knowledge of what the men are working on. She develops a liking for Michael Merriman (John Cusack), one of the scientists on the project. With Oppenheimer's marriage on the rocks and General Leslie Groves (Paul Newman) pushing for the deadline, Merriman becomes exposed to a massive dose of radiation while testing the inner core. It's then the men realize the power they hold in their hands and start to question the morality of building something so powerful.

Paramount Pictures
Director: Roland Joffé
Writers: Bruce Robinson, Roland Joffé
Producers: John Calley, Ken Strausbaugh, Tony Garnett
I viewed 5/09

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Zola's Intermission Take 13 - May 14th, 2009

Zola's Movie Reviews gets some recognition. My blog has been given the prestige honor of reviewing a new upcoming movie. I'd thought I'd share her letter and also help spread awareness of the film. I received my copy today and normally would have it on my blog over the weekend, if it weren't for the fact I'll be away in my tent camping, with out the luxury of a DVD player and electricity. But stayed tuned early next week, as I am looking forward to watching what looks to be a fun movie.

Dear Zola;

I'm the co-writer and executive producer on of an independent feature film Man Overboard, a comedy which revolves around a used boat lot and a sociopath salesman. We're currently trying to reach out to the film community to build awareness for the film. I'm hoping you would be willing to watch the movie and post a review of it on your website. It's a really fun film and so far just about everyone who has seen it thinks it's quite funny.

If you would be willing to watch Man Overboard please let me know and I'll mail you a copy of the DVD.


Ashley Scott Meyers

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Inland Empire (2006) R - 1½ Stars

I usually love David Lynch movies and his quirky style of filming. The movies are bizzare and Laura Dern seems to like them too cause Lynch usually casts her in the major roles. With his unusual surreal style, he seems to find the characters with great Diane Arbus type faces. However, I think David's gone too far with this latest attempt. Granted you need to stay with the story line real well or you will get lost, but I don't think this movie really has one.

Kingsley (Jeremy Irons) is a director making a remake of a Polish movie about a prostitute that is trying to escape a slave ring. The first movie was never completed as both leads were murdered. Nikki (Laura Dern), is cast as the star and she starts feeling like the movie she is playing a role in, is mimicing her real life. However, someone please tell me where the imagery of humans in bunny suits, and screwdriver in stomachs ties in? Nikki eventually becomes lost in her character.

2006 - Inland Empire - National Society of Film Critics - Best Experimental Film.

Absurda Productions
Director: David Lynch
Writer: David Lynch
Producers: David Lynch, Mary Sweeney
I viewed 9/07

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Puff, Puff, Pass (2006) 2½ Stars

I guess if you are a complete total stoner, you might find parts of this movie entertaining, but if you have half your mind left, ugh!! It's not a total waste of time and if someone wants to lend it to you, watch it otherwise don't spend your hard earned money.

Larry (Danny Masterson) and Rico (Ronnie Warner), are two stoners who's lives consist of watching the Shawshank Redemption marathon on TNT all day. Or the "Shank" as they call it. Their money is running out for rent so they need a new place to stay that has cable. So they decide to check themselves into rehab to keep on viewing the Shank. But they get bored and try to pull off a really big scam against Mr. Big.

Sony Pictures
Director: Mekhi Phifer
Writers: Kent George, Ronnie Warner
Producers: William Packer, Mekhi Phifer
I watched 12/06

Monday, May 11, 2009

Underground (2007) 2 - Stars

I wasn't impressed with much in this movie, maybe it's just not my type. The trailer looks interesting but the movie is flat and just feels like a huge testosterone rush of martial art fighting, with no real story line behind the fighters. Only for the viewer who likes to see brutal ass whoppings as the fight scenes are pretty action packed and believable for the martial arts fan. But, with no character development you could care a less who wins or loses.

In the suburbs of the United Kingdom an underground fighter organization is recruiting masters of kickboxing, kung fu, tae kwon do, boxing, wushu, karate wrestling, capoeira, freestyle ninjitsu, and all sorts of other martial arts. They will make up an elite group of 12 to do battle taking home a purse of £500,000.00, but only one can win and there are no rules. Fighting cast includes, Joey Ansah, Nathan Lewis, Liang Yang, Zara Phythian, Gary Webster, Fidel Nanton, Mark Strange, Leon Sua, Leonard Fenton, and Danny John-Jules.

Intense Productions, Skylandian Pictures, Park Entertainment
Director: Chee Keong Cheung
Writers: Chee Keong Cheung, Oliver Morran
Producers: Chee Keong Cheung, Oliver Morran, Mark Strange
I viewed 3/09

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fireproof (2008) PG - 3 Stars

When I rented this movie I was expecting it to be all about the lives of fire fighters and their challenging battles to save lives and homes while putting themselves in harms way. And yes it does have some good fire scenes but the clearer objective of the movie is one with a religious message. That everything is possible when you except God's love as an example.

Captain Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron), and his wife Catherine (Erin Bethea), both have very stressful jobs, he as a firefighter and her as a public relations director of a hospital. Their careers are about to take a toll on their marriage as they are very close to filing for divorce. Holt has become a hero in the media when he saves a young girls life, but he certainly is not a hero at home.

Caleb's father John (Harris Malcolm), makes a proposition to his his son to commit to a 40 day experiment called "The Love Dare." The dare pulls examples from Caleb's work as a firefighter, and his motto of never leaving a partner behind. But Catherine is unwilling to listen anymore and Caleb must learn to give the same type of unconditional love that God has for all of humanity. This will prove to be Caleb toughest battle as he tries to put out the fire at home and regain the trust and support of his partner, to save their marriage.

Samuel Goldwyn Films, Affirm Films, Sherwood Pictures, Provident Films, Carmel Entertainment Group, LLC
Director: Alex Kendrick
Writers: Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick
Producers: Stephen Kendrick, Alex Kendrick, David Nixon
I viewed 3/09

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Welcome to the Dollhouse (1996) R - 3 Stars

Aka "Middle Child," I have my mixed emotions about this dark comedy about an adolescent girl going through puberty. The movie paints a realistic view of the pain felt growing up being the unpopular kid in school and at home. Everywhere she goes everyone humiliates her as she tries to smile her way through all the cruelty. However, it was hard to see humor in a teenage girl being threatened with rape or her sister's kidnapping. Don't take the movie too literal and remember you are looking through Dawn's eyes as she sees the people in the world around her.

Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo), is at that awkward age of 13, growing up in New Jersey where the kids at school have come to know her as "Wienerdog." Dawn just can't seem to get a break, even in her home life where she must watch her parents, Mrs. Wiener (Angela Pietropinto), and Mr. Wiener (Bill Buell), make over her irritatingly cute younger sister Missy (Daria Kalinina) and her geekish bookworm older brother Mark (Matthew Faber). When Mark strikes up a band with Steve (Eric Mabius), your typical rock band looking guitarist, Dawn immediately develops a crush for him as he's cool and she's not. Along with her sister's kidnapping and the mean boy at school, Brandon (Brendan Sexton), threatening to rape her, she painfully struggles to get through adolescence.


1996 - Welcome to the Dollhouse - Independent Spirit Awards - Best Debut Performance
1996 - Welcome to the Dollhouse - Sundance Film Festival - Grand Jury Prize - Dramatic

Suburban Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Todd Solondz
Writer: Todd Solondz
Producer: Todd Solondz
I viewed 4/09

Friday, May 8, 2009

Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008) PG - 3½ Stars

First let me say this is not the type of movie I would go out and rent on my own, but my sister brought it over before she returned it, so free is always nice. Getting the low down from her grandchildren, they thought "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" rocks! Okay, so it's cute and of course the story is pretty far fetched, but then again dogs talking are pretty far fetched so forget all about that and just have fun with it. I think it's a great entertainment for the children and they'll laugh a lot as it's a really cute movie and anything that helps bring kindness in people to pets, I'm all for that. I just love Drew Barrymore and she has the perfect voice for Chloe Lopez and Garcia were perfect as doggy heroes. A very rich pampered pooch gets lost in Mexico and has the adventure of a lifetime finding her way back to Beverly Hills

"Miss" Chloe (voice - Drew Barrymore), is one pampered chihuahua, who's not only adorned by a diamond collar but also wears Prada as wealthy owner, "Aunt" Viv (Jamie Lee Curtis), gives her nothing but the finest. Viv goes on an exotic retreat and leaves her pride and joy with her niece Rachel (Piper Perabo). Sam Cortez (Manolo Cardona) is the gardener at the mansion and along with his chihuahua pooch Papi (voice - George Lopez), the are minding the outside of the home while Viv is away. Papi, has a thing for Chloe but she can't be bothered with the hired help. When Rachel isn't happy just laying around the mansion in Beverly Hills, her girlfriends talk her into taking a road trip to Cabo. With Chloe in hand, the girls set off to soak up the sunny shores of Mexico.

While the girls are away from the hotel, they leave Chloe all alone with a regular can of dog food which Chloe finds repulsive and when she leaves the hotel to find Rachel, she is picked up by a dog snacther and taken to a dog fighting ring where she will face off against bloodthirsty Doberman, El Diablo (Edward James Olmos). Delgado (voice - Andy Garcia) a German Shepard will help Chloe get out of this mess but not before she gets into more trouble with Manuel the shifty rat (voice - Cheech Marin) and his sidekick Chico (voice - Paul Rodriguez), the iguana. But love struck Papi will track her scent and help bring Chloe safely home before Viv knows what happened.

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Director: Raja Gosnell
Writers: Analisa LaBianco, Jeff Bushell
Producers: Todd Lieberman, David Hoberman, John L. Jacobs
I viewed 5/09

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Reader (2008) R - 4½ Stars

WOW what a great movie and it's easy to see why Kate Winslet won the Academy Award. She is outstanding in this role and even naked again, which has got to be challenge for any actress. Set in the Berlin post-Nazi days, Winslet works on a tram and helps a young boy, who is sick with fever. When he returns to her home to thank her, the two develop a love affair that will follow them as they age. Beautiful cinematography and I thought Kross was the perfect young boy an older woman could find attractive.

Michael Berg (David Kross), age 15, is coming home one day from school when he suddenly becomes ill and gets sick in the street. Hanna Schmitz (Kate Winslet) is there and throws a pail of water on the ground to clean his mess and also washes his hands, face and shoes. Once home, Scarlet Fever has Michael bed ridden for weeks. But when he's feeling better, he takes flowers to Hanna's home to thank her for the care she showed that day. The two instantly develop a close bond that turns sexual as Hanna, twice his age, seduces him. But their relationship it's not only sexual and Hanna enjoys when Michael reads to her the novels he's brought from school. The two can not mention their love affair to anyone. Michael constantly dreams about his first love and as he arrives at her home, he finds the house abandoned with no message from her. Michael is devastated and withdrawals from other woman in his life. Hanna was offered a new desk position promotion at her job but rather than take it she instead leaves to become a guard. Even eight years later as he attends college to study law, he still thinks about his affair with Hanna and how she scarred his heart for life by abandoning him.

In college, his class is allowed to attend a trial of women convicted of aiding in the executions of Jews in Nazi concentration camps. Hanna is one of the woman on trial and as he watches her, memories of their past come back to haunt him. He also realizes something about Hanna that could dramatically change the events of the trial. But he can not intervene and Hanna is sentenced to prison. Michael (Ralph Fiennes), now a grown man, will find that even though his life has been seriously altered by Hanna, he can't abandon her in her time of need.


2008 - The Reader - Alliance of Women Film Journalists - Best Depiction of Nudity or Sexuality
2008 - The Reader - Alliance of Women Film Journalists - Best Actress
2008 - The Reader - Chicago Film Critics Association - Best Supporting Actress
2008 - The Reader - Hollywood Foreign Press Association - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
2008 - The Reader - Las Vegas Film Critics Association - Best Young Actor
2008 - The Reader - Las Vegas Film Critics Association - Best Actress
2008 - The Reader - San Diego Film Critics Association - Best Actress
2008 - The Reader - Vancouver Film Critics - Best Actress

Miramax Films, The Weinstein Company
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writer: David Hare
Producers: Scott Rudin, Redmond Morris, Sydney Pollack
I viewed 5/09

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Splinter (2006) NR - 2 Stars

This probably could have been a better movie as the story line is believable, just not well executed. Edward James Olmos's son Michael takes on the role of director, and his father has a role too, but it's pretty low budget.

A young gang member Dreamer (Enrique Almeida), takes a bullet in the head while trying to protect his brother in a gang fight. His brother dies and Dreamer starts loosing his memory from the wound. He can't exactly remember the details but sets out to revenge his brothers death. Dreamer's mind tell him his brothers friends are the people he is looking for and he takes them out one at a time.

Magic Lamp Releasing
Directors: Michael D. Olmos
Writers: Enrique Almeida, Michael D. Olmos, Adrian Cruz
Producers: Adrian Cruz, Mark Hall, Steve Machat
I viewed 10/07