Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Miss Cast Away and the Island Girls (2005) NR - 3 Stars

In memory of Michael Jackson's death, I thought I'd watch a movie that's been sitting on my shelf for over a year. A spoof on a bunch of other movies, I found this one better than most others movies done in this fashion. Though it didn't get very good reviews, I found this satiric comedy, fairly funny. Airplane it's not, but it's sure a lot better than some of the so-called comedies out today like "Mall Cop" and "Super Bad."

Pilot Maximus Powers (Eric Roberts), and Co-Pilot Mike Saunders (Charlie Schlatter), are flying a group of beautiful women to Japan for the Miss Galaxy Beauty Pageant. When most of the engines blow out, the plane is destined to crash land on a deserted island. While Maxiums is enjoying his time alone with a bunch of sexy ladies, Mike has pretty much been winging it alone, finding a secret cave filled with the luxuries of home and federal express packages, delivering his every need. The group soon learns they are not alone but sharing the island with a group of intelligent ape people and one huge ugly Jurrasic Pork pig.

As they stumble upon Noah's Ark, thinking their prayers have been answered for a worthy escape, Special Agent MJ (Michael Jackson), appears asking the group to take on a new mission, destroying the ark before the ape men can set sail, creating the perfect storm destroying earth and humankind as we know it. Also starring Joyce Giraud as Julie and Stuart Pankin as Noah.

Island Productions, Premiere Entertainment International
Director: Bryan Michael Stoller
Writer: Bryan Michael Stoller
Producer: Bryan Michael Stoller
I viewed 6/09

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zola's Intermission Take 14 - June 25th, 2009

Wow some very sad news today, not once, but twice.

We've lost two more special people on the planet,

Farrah Fawcet, 62, passed away at 9:28 a.m at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica. By her side was Ryan O'Neal, her longtime friend and lover and friend Alana Stewart. Perhaps best remembered for her role as Jill Munroe on Charlie's Angels, she will also be remembered for her wing tipped hair style of the late 70's and 80's. I know all of us teen girls wanted our hair to look just like hers.

She was really good as an actress in the 1984 movie, The Burning Bed.

And on another sad note music star, Michael Jackson, 50, died of an alleged heart attack at his home. Fans gathered outside of UCLA Medical Center awaiting the confirmation of his death.

If you were lucky enough to have seen Michael Jackson in concert, you know what a treat that was. I was fortunate to see him at his 1988 "BAD" concert tour. I must say, it was one of the best and most entertaining concerts I have ever been to.

Though we've seen Michael go through many changes in the last few decades, he will always be rememebered as one of the greatest ledgends of the music world.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Moonlight Mile (2002) PG13 - 3½ Stars

Really outstanding performances by the lead actors,Hoffman, Sarandon and sometimes hard to read, Gyllenhaal's eyes. Even though it starts out sort of wishy washy, not guiding the viewer with much direction, it does eventually reel you in with the hook. A family is grieving the death of their only daughter along side of her fiancee. Plans that were made before her tragic death, are kept in place allowing the almost "son-in-law," a role in her fathers business. As the family is trying to come to terms with her death, Gyllenhaal must reveal a disturbing secret that's been holding him back instead of allowing him to move ahead.

Ben Floss (Dustin Hoffman), and his wife JoJo (Susan Sarandon), along with their almost son in law Joe Nast (Jake Gyllenhaal), are morning the tragic loss of Diane, the Floss's only child. Her life was cut short by being in the wrong place and the wrong time, when she was shot and killed by a man at the local diner. Another woman, who can identify the shooter, clings to life after being shot in the head two times. Though Ben, Joe and JoJo rarely mention Diane by name, the family will go through the motion of saying goodbye to their daughter at her funeral and wake at their home. Ben prattles through the empty hallways, paying special attention to small details, like canceling the wedding invitations that have already been posted. It's Joe's job to visit the local post office and stop the invites from being mailed and there he meets Bertie (Ellen Pompeo). Her boyfriend has been MIA in Vietnam and together the two form a special bond in a transition stage. Now Joe has to tell the parents he's not the perfect almost son, they think he is.

My favorite quote of the movie - "You gave us all a huge enema of truth - a rooto rooter of the mind."
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Director: Brad Silberling
Writer: Brad Silberling
Producers :Brad Silberling, Mark Johnson
I viewed 5/09

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Valkyrie (2008) PG13 - 3 Stars

My biggest complaint with this movie is I didn't feel like I was in Germany at all. Every word in English, was uttered with out one real German accent. At first, I was wondering if the characters were really from America, infiltrating and blending in behind enemy lines. Yeah Tom Cruise is a great actor, but I never got that total feeling of being in the hostile Germany, as it was under Hitler's rule.

Taking place in Germany during World War II, a group of political German officers plot to knock down the Nazi regime and assassinate Adolf Hitler (David Bamber), before Germany is destroyed itself. These officers take action by recruiting Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) to join in the resistance movement, and construct the perfect plan. Colonel Claus a loyal officer who's lost a hand, a couple fingers and an eye, serving in his military career. But he can no longer sit quietly back watching his country being destroyed and takes action by risking his life and that of his wife Nina (Carice van Houten), in order to pull this off. Claus creates an ingenious strategy involving Operation Valkyrie, the Fuhrer's own emergency plan. If it works, the Nazi government can topple from the inside out.

Meeting with other high ranked officials Gen. Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy), and Major-Gen. Henning von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh), Claus rewrites the order in Operation Valkyrie, to exclude the SS from taking control and instead putting the control in General Fromm's (Tom Wilkinson), hands. But as Claus tries to recruit Gen. Fromm, Fromm stays neutral but does keep his mouth shut. With the men in place, all Claus has left to do is get Hitler to sign this new Operation Valkyrie.

Bad Hat Harry Productions, Achte Babelsberg Film GmbH, MGM Distribution Company
Director: Bryan Singer
Writers: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander
Producers: Christopher McQuarrie, Bryan Singer, Gilbert Adler
I viewed 5/09

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Theory of Everything (2005) - 1½ Stars

This is not my type of movie as my spirituality comes from a different direction than a biblical source but a true Christian, might enjoy the story. David De Vos, wrote, directs, and also stars in this little tale of faith. Trying to wear all those hats probably causes the film to suffer in conveying it's message. What I took away from it was you can have a pragmatic way of trying to find a closer connection to God, or the powers that be over the universe, or you can stop over analyzing it, open your eyes and look right in front of you.

Dr. Eugene Holland (Victor Lundin), is a brilliant physicist, who's mind is starting to leave him suffering from the degenerative brain disease (CJD). Before he looses his ability to reason and think, he is in a mad dash to complete his formula on his "Theory of Everything," proving the existence of God.

Doug Holloway (David De Vos), who seems to be on his own quest to find God after his life seems to be falling apart. With his marriage failing, he feels the need to seek out his own biological father. Both men, with their different missions, will meet up and show each other that God can exist in places you are not looking.

Blue Yonder Pictures
Director: David De Vos
Writer: David De Vos
I viewed 6/09

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hustle & Flow (2005) R - 4 Stars

I can't believe I am saying this but, this has got to be one of the best PIMP / hustler films I have ever seen. The writing for the movie, the acting, the story line, man it's all great!!! You'll actually feel for the pimp and the women that stand behind him. The movie shows how you can have your life long dreams one moment and everything turn around in the next.

Djay (Terrence Howard) is a hustler / pimp / drug dealer living in Memphis, TN. With one girl Shug (Taraji P. Henson), pregnant, Lexus (Paula Jai Parker), with a kid and Nola (Taryn Manning), his bank. Djay isn't happy with the way his life has turned out and yearns to be doing something different. He takes a keyboard for one of his drug deals and starts plunking around on it. It brings back memories of his dad and now that he's about the same age as when his dad died, he takes a good hard look at his life. Djay starts to playing the keyboard to go along with some lines he tries to lay down. As he begins writing "his flow" down in a notebook, things start feeling right for him. While he's scoring some drugs down at the local store, he runs into and old friend from high school, Key (Anthony Anderson).

Key is a happily married man and technical sound engineer, involved in gospel music. He too has been itching to try something new to get his skills taken to the top of the charts. With Key's mixing sound abilities and Djay's rapping, together the two set up a studio in Djay's house complete with egg carton lining for sound. But something is still lacking until they enlist the musical input of a beat maker named Shelby (DJ Qualls).

This unlikely bunch, start producing different beats and lines till they come up with a catchy beat that flows from the soul. Now they just need someone to promote it as they can't even afford to cut a CD. Djay brags that he knows hip-hop star Skinny Black (Ludacris) and how he will meet with him and promote the cassette. At the club, Arnel (Isaac Hayes), the owner arranges Djay to get to Skinny's table. Now he must make his biggest hustle ever, to get Skinny on his side and take his music to the charts.

Awards include:

2005 - Hustle & Flow - Academy - Best Song.
2005 - Hustle & Flow - Broadcast Film Critics Association - Best Song.
2005 - Hustle & Flow - Sundance Film Festival - American Dramatic Audience Award.

MTV Films
Director: Craig Brewer
Writer: Craig Brewer
Producers: John Singleton, Stephanie Allain
I viewed 6/08

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kenny (2008) PG13 - 3 Stars

Everything you ever wanted to know about the crappy part of owning a business in the port-a-potty service. It's a cute documentary about the real life of Clayton Jacobson and his brother Shane. I came to really feel for and really like the soft and genuine "Kenny", who proudly goes where no other man dares to. Kenny is played by Clayton who directed co-wrote and produced the film along with his brother. He's a proud man in a pile of poo and takes the viewer on his daily trials and tribulations of keeping the johns clean and safe for all of us.

The highlight of the movie is when Kenny travels to the U.S. for the very first time. The Pump and Cleaner Expo in Nashville, Tennessee seems like a dream come true for Kenny as he learns the latest techniques in poo removal and finalizes a larger than life deal in his little poop world.

Madman Entertainment Pty. Ltd.
Director: Clayton Jacobson
Writers: Clayton Jacobson, Shane Jacobson
Producers: Clayton Jacobson, Rohan Timlock
I viewed 10/08

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Ex (2006) PG13 - 3 Stars

Tom Reilly (Zach Braff), and wife Sofia Kowalski (Amanda Peet), have just had a new baby. Tom is a chef and Sofia just quit her job to become a stay home mom. But the couple are used to a certain style of living here in in New York and can no longer afford to keep it up so they move back to Ohio where Sofia is from. Sofia's father Bob Kowalski (Charles Grodin), owns an advertising agency and hires Tom on. It's an okay comedy though and has some funny scenes. Mia Farrow makes an appearance as Sofia's mother.

Chip Sanders (Jason Bateman), is an preppy wheel chaired bound employee at the firm and seems to give Tom a run for his money at any chance he gets. Tom is doing his best to try and fit in but constantly brings attention to himself by screwing up. When Tom finds out that Sofia and Chip go way back to when they were cheer leading and had a one night stand together, it drives him nuts. Chip still holds a torch for Sofia and he's always trying to outdo Tom even though he's in a wheel chair. The two grown men go at each other's last nerves trying to prove who's the man.

The Weinstein Company, MGM Distribution Company
Director: Jesse Peretz
Writers: Michael Handelman, David Guion
Producers: Ted Hope, Anne Carey
I viewed 9/07

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Life as a House (2001) R - 4½ Stars

What a great movie this is. Funny I never heard of it when it first came out but it looked interesting so I rented it. It's about a family that has fallen apart, but finds themselves again building a home together.

On the down side, George (Kevin Kline) lives is an old paint chipped garage turned shack at the beach in a fairly decent neighborhood. The run down habitat sticks out like an sore thumb and his neighbors have become quit annoyed with him over the appearance. Even his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) and has left with their two boys.

By day, George is an architect building intricate models of fantastic homes and landscapes and he's been at the company over 20 years. When he's called into the office and let go, he pretty much looses it and destroys all of the dream homes he had proudly displayed for the company. His life seems to be falling apart.

When he find out he has cancer, he starts taking a serious look at his life about what's important and how he feels he's neglected his family and wants to make amends with his troubled son Sam (Hayden Christiansen), who hates him. George is determined to reconnect with Sam and forces him to spend the summer tearing down the shack and build the home of his dreams. George is determined to leave a legacy to his son, to make up for all the years he hasn't been a good father to him.

Sam kicks and screams but is forced to deal with his father, as well as, understand his rebellious self. Eventually the entire family works together for the cause and finds the love they've been missing.

2001 - Life as a House - National Board of Review - Breakthrough Performance of the Year

New Line Cinema
Director: Irwin Winkler
Writer: Mark Andrus
Producers: Rob Cowan, Irwin Winkler
I viewed 2/07

Saturday, June 13, 2009

13 Tzameti (2005) NR - 3½ Stars

In French with subtitles and subdued image black and white, the movie starts out on the lengthy side explaining a young mans desperate need to make some money but what he's put through to get it, is mind blowing. It's one of those movies you'll never forget.

Sebastien (George Babluani) is a young man in his 20's lives a very meek and poor life with his parents in a poor area of town. When he over hears news about making money quickly, he takes a package containing a train ticket and very detailed instructions on what he needs to do next. He also changes his name to become the proper owner of the ticket.

Along the way he is still unsure of where he is going and for what cause but as he gets closer to his destination, pieces start falling into place. He arrives to see people making huge bets on the tournament that's going on inside. The two betters waiting for his arrival really don't have time to explain the game to him until he steps into the ring of 13 playing Russian Roulette. Once the game is started, it can not be stopped.

2006 - 13 (Tzameti) - Sundance Film Festival - World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic.

Palm Pictures
Director: Géla Babluani
Writers: Sabine Bauchart, Géla Babluani
Producer: Géla Babluani
I viewed 3/07

Friday, June 12, 2009

River's Edge (1986) R - 4 Stars

What makes movie on the scary side of sick is it's based on a true story of a murder that took place in Milpitas, Ca. and the teens that just walked away from it. Take a journey back to the 80's, with this great dysfunctional drama starring a very young Keanu Reeves. It wasn't a big box office success but stirred up controversy in 1986. The story is about a group of young teenagers who make difficult choices between friendships, loyalties and the law. When a girl is murdered by her boyfriend, a small group of teens do not call the police and instead go back to living their screwed up life's doing nothing at all.

Dennis Hopper is at his usual best with his blow up girlfriend and totting the gun he killed the love of his life with. Reeves shows good signs of his young acting abilities and Glover plays a perfect zoned out druggie. Roebuck sort of gives you the creeps the way he brags about killing.

In a very small town, where everyone knows most everything, Samson Tollette (Daniel Roebuck), aptly named "John" for his toilet sounding name, has just killed his naked girlfriend, strangling her to death by the rivers edge. Instead of having any emotions over what he has done, he brags to Layne (Crispin Glover), who becomes a witness. But, Tim (Joshua Miller), not yet a teen but super rebellious, has also seen the dead body and knows John is to blame. He idolizes him and looks up to being like him. A small group of bored students, including Matt (Keanu Reeves), Tim's older brother and Clarissa (Ione Skye), get together to see the dead body, but no one bothers to tell anybody about it. It's like they are numb to her death and what John has done.

Meanwhile, back at a hidden home, Feck (Dennis Hopper), a left over biker missing his leg from a motorcycle accident, now living and loving his blow up doll, "Ella," supplies the young kids with killer weed. Layne decides it a great place to hide John out. But two psychos living together is more than Feck can take and the more John brags, the more Feck wants him dead. As egos rise, guilty consciouses eat away at Matt and Clarissa, and the teens callous attitudes get the better of them.

Favorite silly quote from the movie "Pot head - f*ck brain."

1987 - River's Edge - Independent Spirit Awards - Best Screenplay
1987 - River's Edge - Independent Spirit Awards - Best Picture

Hemdale Releasing Corporation, Island Pictures, New Yorker Films
Director: Tim Hunter
Writer: Neal Jimenez
Producers: Midge Sanford, Sarah Pillsbury
I viewed 6/09

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Blue Butterfly (2004) NR - 3½ Stars

One day when I was at Blockbuster trying to decide what to rent, a woman came over to me and said, "see this one." Actually I think she was flirting with me but I brought it home and it turned out to be a good little movie. There is one last blue butterfly in the rain forest that if it comes to you and you see it, it can bring you good fortune. In this case, Pete returned to his mother walking and was 20 years old in 2004. It's amazing what the power of the mind is capable of.

Pete Carlton (Marc Donato) is a bright 10 year old boy, struggling with terminal brain cancer. Even in light of his condition, he stays positive and has a good outlook on life. He has a collection of butterflies and his hero is an entomologist named Alan Osborne (William Hurt) a man Pete looks up to as one of the best collectors in the world. Pete's dream is to capture the Blue Morpho butterfly only found in the rainforest of Central and South America.

Pete's mother Teresa (Pascale Bussières) is a single mom also struggling with his terminal condition. She is determined to give Pete love and any request within her reach that he desires before his cancer catches up with him. When she learns of her son's final request, she takes him to see Alan at one of his lectures. Adam prefers to spend his time in the lab, rather than to correspond with people but Teresa's undying determination convinces him to take her son to the jungle in search of his elusive request. Alan has been held captive in his labs by his studies and doesn't interact much with people these days but he is finally agrees to take the wheel-chair bound Pete to the Costa Rican rainforest.

Their journey is one chocked full of life and death adventures, where both Adam and Pete will learn much about themselves, Adam will have a metamorphosis of his own, changing both their lives forever.

Palpable Productions Inc
Director: Léa Pool
Writer: Pete McCormack
Producers: Francine Allaire, Arnie Gelbart, Claude Bonin
I viewed 2/07

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Outlander (2008) R - 3½ Stars

I'm adding an extra half point to the movie because of the pretty cool alien monster. Though the movie is a lower budget version, trying to be a great Viking epic, it lacks the acting needed. Myles and Hurt give decent performances making it still worthy of the rental costs, as a tale of romance, courage and adventure.

Kainan (James Caviezel), a soldier from another world, crashes into earth in the Iron age time of the Vikings, unknowingly carrying a very dangerous passenger. Tiny small villages are being ripped apart and Kainan is blamed, taken prisoner and brought to the fenced grounds of King Rothgar (John Hurt). The King rules this over this large Norwegian habitat of Viking warriors, along with his daughter Freya (Sophia Myles), and Prince Wulfric (Jack Huston). Even as they hold Kainan hostage, the outside villagers continue to be slaughtered by a creature known as the Moorwen

Gunnar (Ron Perlman), the leader of another group on the outside, blames the attacks on the warriors of the King, and vows to make the people of the city pay. But when the Morrwen makes his appearance, even Gunnar quickly joins forces to destroy this monster before it destroys them.

The Weinstein Company, Third Rail Releasing
Director: Howard McCain
Writers: Dirk Blackman, Howard McCain
Producers: Christopher Roberts, Barrie M. Osborne, John Schimmel
I viewed 5/09

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Maxed Out (2005) - 3 Stars

A pretty decent documentary that really puts the monetary crisis of today, right up in your face. Focusing on the credit card companies and their target audience of American consumers, who really can't afford it. Their latest targets are college students, knowing they are ripe for the temptation of buying without thinking about paying, until the bill comes in. Most on limited incomes, the card companies are hoping it will be many years, till they are out of debt.

When you are only paying the minimum on your charge cards, you will never get free and back into the black. And the big companies supplying you the credit just LOVE and are looking for people like you. The documentary also focuses on those unfortunate few who have found it easier to take their own lives, then to pay off their bills. While we are bailing out the bank and card companies, who's bailing out us?

Magnolia Pictures, Truly Indie
Director: James D. Scurlock
Writer: James D. Scurlock
Producer: James D. Scurlock
I viewed 4/09

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tracks (2004) R - 3 Stars

From 1982, based on the true story of the first juvenile in New Jersey's history to be tried as an adult, for committing the crime of manslaughter. Peter and his friends unknowingly caused a train derailment, killing the conductor. Only serving two year in prison, when out he went on to work on Wall Street, making a hefty six digit salary.

Peter Madagin (Chris Gunn), age 15, is at that age where getting into trouble can be easily provoked. Along with his friends, they've spend many a night along the train tracks of Fairlawn, New Jersey. One day, as they decide to mess with an oncoming train, switching the tracks, the unknowingly force the train to derail. In doing so, the conductor is killed and all now face charges of manslaughter.

Sentenced to prison, under the direction of Warden (John Heard), and supervision of Officer Clark (Ice-T), Peter must learn what it takes to survive in this new bared home. With the past life of his father abuse, haunting his every move, Peter must decide either to turn his life around or be dumb enough to stay in jail.

Two Dog Productions, First Look Studios
Director: Peter Wade
Writer: Peter Wade
Producers: Anil C. Stevens, Howard Nash, Thomas Walsh
I viewed 5/09

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Passengers (2008) - 3 Stars

I love movies that mess with your mind. It's why I liked this movie enough to rate it 3 stars for concept alone. Though the story moves slowly, making little sense at times, its a fetal attempt, belonging in a chapter of the "Twilight Zone". Complete with a blooper duplicate scene, of the same man traveling down a staircase, it stood out in my mind, making me replay, thinking it had something to do with the plot. Anne Hathaway does a decent job playing a psychologist reaching out to surviving passengers of a crash. Hard to say too much more without given the ending away.

Claire Summers (Anne Hathaway), is a grief counselor sent by Perry (Andre Braugher), to interview five surviving passengers of a plane crash. As she speaks to the withdrawn group, consisting of Shannon (Clea Duvall), Dean (Ryan Robbins), Norman (Don Thompson), Janice (Chelah Horsdal), and the blond man (Andrew Wheeler), she notices discrepancies of an explosion in their stories. The more the group talks, the more they begin to feel paranoid, the airlines are watching them. Eric (Patrick Wilson), is the secretive part of the group, acting like the accident had little effect on him. He seeks counseling from Claire, outside of the group meetings.

Arkin (David Morse), from the airlines, keeps mysteriously showing up, trying to convince Claire the passengers are incorrect in their recollections of an explosion. The deeper Claire delves into her conspiracy theory of the airlines, passengers mysteriously start disappearing, one by one. Her busy body neighbor, Toni (Dianne Wiest), points the way for Claire as she compromises her boundaries with Eric, believing he holds the answers.

TriStar Pictures, Mandate Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing
Director: Rodrigo García
Writer: Ronnie Christensen
Producers: Judd Payne, Matthew Rhodes, Keri Selig
I viewed 5/09

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) PG - 2 Stars

In keeping with a full selection of reviews at Zola's Movie Pics, I reluctantly grabbed Mall Cop from the shelf though every bone in my body was telling me not to. I really should have listened. Though I must say the best thing about the movie is the musical score. Even trying to view it from a kids point of view, I just didn't find it funny.

Paul Blart (Kevin James), wanted to be a New Jersey cop but health reasons held him back so a security gig at the local mall, is right up Paul's alley. He brings his training from the police academy to the mall and treats his job as if it really important, though no one takes him seriously, including Amy (Jayma Mays), a girl at the local shop, that he has taken a liking too. With the Christmas holiday fast approaching, Paul needs to be on extra high alert to protect and serve his public. But when some of Santa's helpers, led by Veck Simmstake (Keir O'Donnell), take over and shut down the mall, Paul will need to pull out all the stops in order to say his girl and bring the bad guys to justice.

Happy Madison Productions, Relativity Media, Sony Pictures Releasing
Director: Steve Carr
Writers: Kevin James, Nick Bakay, Steve Pink
Producers: Adam Sandler, Barry Bernardi, Todd Garner
I viewed 5/09

Friday, June 5, 2009

Night Train (2008) R - 3 Stars

Though a more appropriate name might be "Box of Greed," where do I begin with this one? Picture a mesh between the "Outer Limits" visiting the "Night Gallery," immediately timed warped to the "Twilight Zone," ending up at "Ripley's Believe it or Not." This is yet another one for my bizarre collection with definitely a comedic twist. Having the feel of a made for television movie, the hacking scene alone would banished it to late night. Probably only worthy of 2½ stars, I have to give it a 3 as I did love the idea behind the movie, I felt it was just strangely adapted. It's one of those types of movies you can't explain without giving too much away but I'll give it a try.

It's the Christmas holiday season and Miles (Danny Glover), the train conductor, is about to take the ride of his life. Joining him in the rear cabin are Chloe (Leelee Sobieski), a pre-med student buried in her books and Pete (Steve Zahn), a traveling salesman reaping the rewards of his tiny alcohol bottle collection. Mrs. Froy (Richard O'Brien), takes the middle cabin accompanied by her prize Pomeranian pooch, while Hiro (Takatsuna Mukai) and Yamashita (Togo Igawa) spend their time playing a traditional ancient game. But when Walter (Harry Anichkin), embarks on their journey, their lives are changed forever.

You see, Walter boards the train without saying a word or paying for a ticket. He goes to the rear of the train and sits with Chloe and Pete. Though he never utters a word, he does take an offering of alcohol from Pete and washes a hand full of pills down with it. Moments later, Miles comes to collect the fare, and Walter is found dead. His reaction is to call the police until the three find a magical package, Walter was transporting on the train. Removing the lid to uncover the contents, a wooden box with a small outlet for viewing it's contents, is exposed and they are all overjoyed on what it holds within. But already counting their chickens, they agree to get rid of the Walter's body to split this new found fortune. When Walter' body won't fit in a large trunk, Chloe puts her pre-med skills into action, hacking the body into smaller pieces. At preciously the right time, on the overpass of a bridge, the three push the trunk overboard sending their haunting package to the river below.

Mr. Gutman (Constantine Gregory), boards the train at the next stop, looking to make his connection with Walter, and everyone scrambles for excuses of never seeing him. But when Walter's body parts have are discovered thrown off the train by the ice fisherman below, a detective (Geoff Bell), gets involved to bring justice to these greedy criminals. As more bodies start to appear, all will find a they pay a huge admission price to unlocking their box of dreams.

A-Mark Entertainment, Night Train Films
Director: Brian King
Producers: Christopher Eberts, Brian R. Etting
Writer: Brian King
I viewed 5/09

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Quills (2000) R - 4 Stars

OMG I had forgotten how good this movie is until my neighbor brought it down for me to watch again. A tale of perversion and sexual seduction, "Quills" is a naughty little peek into the true life story of Marquis de Sade. The term "sadism" comes from his name. He spent 32 years of his life incarcerated in various prisons and insane asylums. That is where most of his writings, usually on the subject of sadomasochism, rape and bestiality, came from. He was also accused of blasphemy. In 1801, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered his arrest for writing "Justine." In 1803, he was declared insane and sentenced to live at the Charenton Asylum. The movie does take liberties as to where his writing were done but gives an vivid depiction of this pornographic mind.

Marquis de Sade (Geoffrey Rush), has been committed to Charenton Asylum for the insane and has spent most of his aging life in prisons and asylums. He's been accused of rape, torture, sodomy, and having his way with both of the sexes, but he refused to go away quietly. His room is filled with luxuries to make him more comfortable, paid by his family and he is allowed to have his quills and writing paper so that he could continue to pen for himself.

Madeline (Kate Winslet), is a chamber maid and laundry girl, who services his quarters. On more than one occasion, she has been inside his room listening to his tales of perversion and passing the stories on to other willing ears. Eventually she helps him smuggle chapters of his latest book, "Justine", to an outside source that helps get the book published.

Coulmier (Joaquin Phoenix), is the priest who's in charge of running the institution. While he tries to bring the word of the Lord into Marquis's life and make him repent, he's constantly refused and seduced. Coulmier knows the type of stories he's capable of telling and does his best to shield the other inmates from it. He allows Marquis to put on many plays involving the other inmates as a way of getting them all involved.

Napoleon Bonaparte gets wind of the publishing of "Justine" and orders all copies to be burned at once. Royer-Collard (Michael Caine), under the rule of the emperor, is invited to a play that the inmates of Charenton Asylum will perform. He brings his new very young bride to the show only to find out the joke is on him, as the actors preform an erotic tale based on an older man taking advantage of a very young girl. Royer-Collard is not pleased and orders Coulmier to immediately put Marquis in his place or he will close the asylum. But no matter what Coulmier does to silence Marquis, it only makes his need grow stronger to get his message out.

2000 - Quills - Broadcast Film Critics Association - Best Supporting Actor
2000 - Quills - National Board of Review - Best Supporting Actor
2000 - Quills - National Board of Review - Special Recognition for Freedom of Expression
2000 - Quills - National Board of Review - Best Picture

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Philip Kaufman
Writer: Doug Wright
Producers: Nick Wechsler, Julia Chasman, Peter Kaufman
I viewed 5/09

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bride Wars (2009) PG - 3½ Stars

A cute little romantic comedy about having what you want on your wedding day. Hudson and Hathaway make believable friends turned rival enemies when their weddings are planned on the same day. The girls will stop at nothing to make sure their full proof plans go off without a hitch.

Liv (Kate Hudson), and Emma (Anne Hathaway), have been dreaming about their weddings since little girls growing up together. The tiniest of details have already been planned, and now as adult women of 26, they both have steady men Fletcher (Chris Pratt), and Nate (Bryan Greenberg), ready to pop the question. With rings in tow, the girls set off to meet with Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen), the ultimate bridal planner at New York's Plaza Hotel. Marion only has a few dates left and the girls make their choices for their special days. A mix up with reservations leave both brides scheduled the same date. Now, all bets are off as the girls will do anything to each other to insure their personal plans are not be altered. But with no one willing to cancel their plans, all of their relationships are put to the test.

20th Century Fox Distribution
Director: Gary Winick
Writers: Karen McCullah Lutz, June Diane Raphael, Casey Wilson
Producers: Alan Riche, Kate Hudson, Julie Yorn
I viewed 5/09

Monday, June 1, 2009

Man OverBoard (2009) Not Yet Rated - 3½ Stars

Here's a charming story, not yet released, I had the honor of a privately viewing. Though the movie starts out a little slow, it gains momentum when Fair joins the cast playing the perfect adaptation of the sleazy side of salesmanship. Fair, perfectly cast for his role, knows how to close the deal and doesn't take no for an answer. Kaminsky, compliments him well, playing good against evil.

Boating has been in CJ Mason's (Matt Kaminsky), family since the days of his great grandfather. Now, the proud owner of a used boat shop, Mason Marine, he and his wife Madeline (Brooke Baumer), lead a charmed life along with their two young boys Tommy (Hunter Ryan), and Tyler (Oliver Richman). CJ is a top notch salesperson, but still in the training stages of making good salesmen out of his employees, Frank (Floyd Van buskirk), Steve (Jeffry Stein), Kyle (Graham Norris). These guys don't take their job seriously and sales have been suffering because of it. To make matters worse, Madeline's parents, mother (Michelle Gillette), and father Kevin Hofferman (Bobby Hall), come over, where Kevin loves to ridicule CJ's performance as a father, husband and man. But all that's about to change when Johnny Cross (Mel Fair), a slick, fast talking real estate agent, enters the picture.

Cross is the selling agent for a large house Kevin pushes CJ to buy in order to provide better for his family. In the blink of an eye, Cross manages to get papers signed and hook CJ into a fifty year mortgage making Madeline and the boys very happy. With this new purchase, CJ must now look for ways his company can produce better sales. As if an angel in disguise, Cross drives up to Mason Marine looking for a job. His smooth talking demeanor doesn't wash well with the other employees and they challenge Cross to produce a sale to a certain tight wade customer. There's no denying the ability of Cross when he makes the sale, and CJ happily puts him on to books. But Cross isn't all he seems and as he takes over as top salesman, using devious tactics to gain sales and threatening the men that don't produce bodily harm, CJ is obliviously counting his profits. It takes employees quiting, and customers complaints before CJ realises he's lost track of the importance of his family's dreams. Will it be too late to save them?

To learn more and to order your copy today, please visit the website at http://www.manoverboardmovie.com/

Treasure Entertainment
Directed: Oliver Robins
Producers: Mark Heidelberger, Jesse Felsot, Ashley Scott Meyers
Writers: Nathan Ives, Ashley Scott Meyers
I watched 5/09