Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ask The Dust (2006) R - 3 Stars

I loved the way the movie is narrated where it makes you feel like you are involved in the writing of the story. Colin Farrell is pretty good playing a down on his luck writer living in Los Angeles during the Depression era of the 1930's. The one thing I'm unsure of - Was it Farrell's racism towards minorities that made him treat Camilla with such contempt when he first met her or, was it the fact she's a strong woman while he is a frustrated lonely man? It's a decent pick that shows racism comes in other colors besides black and white.

In the early part of the 1930's, Arturo Bandini (Colin Farrell) comes to Los Angeles, California, from Colorado, as he feels it will inspire him to write a great novel. Settling in a Bunker Hill neighborhood, Arturo frequents the local coffee shop to creatively think of what he should write. While he spends his last nickles, drinking coffee served to him by a Mexican waitress, Camilla Lopez (Salma Hayek), the two became enraged with each other. Arturo treats Camilla quite rudely, while he complains about the service and the coffee. In return Camilla reacts the in contempt, feeling snubbed and put down by him. But even after six months, of this bitter cantor between them, both find themselves having each other on their minds. Every time Arturo and Camilla form more of a bond together, something happens to tear them apart again, mainly due to her nationality.

Arturo hangs on to his dreams of writing, by small advance checks given out by his publisher, Hellfrick (Donald Sutherland) and eventually will go on to write his great novel. But will Arturo and Camilla be able to save their love affair?

Paramount Pictures
Director: Robert Towne
Writer: Robert Towne
Producers: Don Granger, Paula Wagner, Tom Cruise
I viewed 12/08

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Adaptation (2002) R - 3½ Stars

This movie really gives you a different perspective at looking at life. Meryl Streep is such a wonderfully adaptive actress and here she plays a writer for The New Yorker who discovers passion in an unlikely source. Nicolas Cage has a hard role to pull off, playing two different characters as twin brothers and I must say, he does a great job. Though the movie lost my interest a few times, with it's many slow turns, it's hard to stay focused on other characters besides Streep's. But, it did manage to pull me back in quickly. For example, it wasn't clear to me at first that Cage even had a twin brother. I was more convinced this second Cage was the conscious of the first one.

Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is a screenwriter who just won an academy award for his script, "Being John Malkovich." He is hired to adapt "The Orchid Thief" a nonfictional book about John Laroche (Chris Cooper), a passionate toothless thief who navigates the Florida Everglades stealing Orchids to call his own. Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) is the author of the book traveling along side John to discover his passion for the flower. This should be the perfect opportunity for Charlie to excel in his work but due to his paranoid nature and major depression, he can't seem to bring words to paper.

Charlie's identical twin brother, Donald Kaufman (Nicolas Cage), comes to town and wants to move in and take after his brother. These two twins couldn't be more different from each other. Donald can easily talk to women, he's overly confident, and can be plain out loud. Donald takes up screen writing, under the tutoring of Robert McKee (Brian Cox), and after finishing a script about a serial killer, his story sells for major bucks, making him the new hot writer in town. This frustrates and depresses Charlie even more. Donald seems to be on top of the world, even landing a new girlfriend Caroline (Maggie Gyllenhaal). This aids to make Charlie struggle more getting his words to paper. Charlie develops an obsession with Susan as he stares at her picture on the books back flap. His passion for Susan grows while Susan develops a passion for John Laroche. When Charlie is given the opportunity to meet Susan face to face, he's too terrified of actually speak to her and sends his brother Donald, in his place. The thought comes to him that he will structure his screen play after his own pathetic life and as the words begin to flow, every one's life will be changed in the process.

Awards include:

2002 - Adaptation - American Film Institute - Top Ten Movie of the Year
2002 - Adaptation - New York Film Critics Circle - Best Screenplay
2002 - Adaptation - Toronto Film Critics Association - Best Picture

Clinica Estetico, Magnet Entertainment, Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group
Director: Spike Jonze
Writers: Donald Kaufman, Charlie Kaufman
Producers: Vincent Landay, Edward Saxon, Jonathan Demme
I viewed 9/09

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Soloist (2008) PG13 - 4 Stars

Very touching movie about humanity, based on the true story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, an inspiring cello prodigy who once studied at Julliard, only to wind up homeless on the streets, stricken by schizophrenia. Excellent acting by both Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr..

I'm listing this one in my racism category because most of society frowns and looks down upon the homeless population. Granted, many of the homeless population have just gotten too lazy. They have options to make a change in their lives, but for others who struggle with mental issues, they have a harder time achieving their full potential in life. And every now and then, you will meet one like, "The Soloist," who has great potential to become something better in life if only the voices inside his head would go away.

Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) is a journalist for the Los Angeles Times but he's bored with his life and his marriage has suffered because of it. While looking for an interesting story on the streets of Los Angeles, he stumbles upon a homeless African American man Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (Jamie Foxx), playing a violin, missing most of it's strings. But even with only two strings, Ayers is able to pluck a symphony out of it. Once Lopez hears Ayers play, he goes out of his way, almost making it his new goal in life, to get Ayers off the street and back into a concert hall.

Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, Universal Pictures
Director: Joe Wright
Writers: Susannah Grant, Steve Lopez
Producers: Russ Krasnoff, Gary Foster
I viewed 10/09

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

U-Turn (1997) R - 4½ Stars

Here is one of those movies I really got into and liked so much so I gave it 4½ stars where other critics rate it around 2½ stars. I love Sean Penn and Jaylo for actors so maybe I am biased too.

Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) is not having a good day. After his finger is cut off for not making good on a loan in Las Vegas , he flees the state towards Arizona. Broke and on the run, his car takes a dump in the middle of the desert in Superior Arizona, where he's forced to spend time waiting for parts.
(Jon Voight) plays a homeless blind man in the city who offers Bobby sound advise whether he wants it or not. He also meets a hot Latina woman Grace McKenna (Jennifer Lopez) who offers to keep him company. She takes him home where she sexually seduces him until her husband Jake (Nick Nolte) walks in. Secretly Jake has wanted his wife dead and offers Bobby a large some of money to help him. Along the way Bobby also has to deal with a flirtatious Jenny (Claire Danes) who's trying to get her infamous boyfriend Toby N. Tucker (Joaquin Phoenix) jealous. This is one town where Bobby is wishing he could just U-Turn out of.

TriStar Pictures
Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: John Ridley
Producers: Clayton Townsend, Dan Halsted
I viewed 2/07

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rosewood (1997) R - 5 Stars

Based on the true story of events taking place in Rosewood, Florida in the 1920's. I really liked this movie though I have to admit, I gave it an extra 1/2 star rating because it's based on a true story and I absolutely love Don Cheadle in these types of movies. The idea that one white woman's lie can cause the murder of an entire black community, is appalling. It's one of those movies that should be mandatory in humanities classes. It embarrasses me as a Caucasian woman to see how ignorant some of these white people were, reacting by enraged hatred of their racial tension. Everyone is outstanding in their role its a shame not to be able to mention them all.

When a stranger, Mann (Ving Rhames), rides into town, he causes a lot of people to take note. Mann is interested in buying property across the street from John Wright's (Jon Voight), store. Wright is one of the only white men in Rosewood and he makes a good living from his store serving the people of his community.

Sylvester (Don Cheadle), is the music teacher of the town and along with Scrappie (Elise Neal), they teach and keep the children in line. But life suddenly takes a turn for the worse when a white woman, who has been sleeping around on her husband, unjustly accuses a black man of raping her. Being too embarrassed to admit that her lover beat her senseless, she instead announces to Sheriff Walker, (Michael Rooker), that a black man came into her home, raped and beat her up. This causes a uproar of built up hatred against the black community by the opposing white men who literally wipe the town off the map, murdering, lynching and burning it down. It will be Mann and John Wright who guide the children and rest of the town to safety but not before more than half the community is killed.

Warner Bros. Pictures International
Director: John Singleton
Writer: Gregory Poirier
Producer: Jon Peters
I viewed 10/09

Monday, October 12, 2009

Management (2008) R - 3 Stars

I love the characters that Woody Harrison portrays and his role as Jango is no exception. Though, this one has got to be labeled a "Chick Flick", it's a cute romantic comedy drama that has enough laughs, men may enjoy too. Steve Zahn is cute in this movie, Anniston shows off her acting skills and Tzi Ma, a new comer to me, helps bring some laughs. The message is good about what it's like to "settle" rather than to take the risk at finding true love.

Mike Crenshaw (Steve Zahn), is the night manager at a motel owned by his mother Trish (Margo Martindale), and father (Fred Ward). Mike's normal routine is instantly shakin up when Sue Claussen (Jennifer Aniston), an art dealer, checks in. Mike's attracted to Sue and must find a way to talk to her. He goes through his old stash of gifts and finds a bottle of wine, dresses it up, and takes it to her room as a complimentary welcome gift. Sue is playing solitaire and feeling pretty lonely herself so she invites him in to her room. Mike attraction is obvious and she allows him to touch her ass, thinking it will give him a thrill and he'll be on his way. What the heck, she is leaving in the morning anyway. But all that does it make the attraction stronger and before she knows it, she's having a sexual encounter with him before she drives away.

Mike can't get Sue off his mind and scrapes together every cent he's got and boards a plane to New York in effort to find the women he loves. Showing up at her office, Sue is taken back by Mikes bold initiative as she views Mike as a man who doesn't have much to offer her. But she's somewhat flattered by his jester and allows him to stay the night. The next morning she puts him on a bus to return home. After all, Mike could not possibly offer Sue anything but love.

Meanwhile Jango (Woody Harrelson), Sue's well to do, ex-punker old boyfriend, comes back into her life and offers her the security she needs. But Mike can't get her out of his mind and once again goes to extremes to find her. Once in town, he is befriended by Truc Quoc (Tzi Ma), who also offers him a job. Together, they put their minds to work, seeking a plan to attract Sue away from Jango and back into Mike's life.

Samuel Goldwyn Films, Image Entertainment
Director: Stephen Belber
Writer: Stephen Belber
Producers: Marty Bowen, Sidney Kimmel, Wyck Godfrey
I viewed 10/09

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Line (2009) R - 3 Stars

The Line, aka La La Linea, is a fairly decent drug lord film but I found it extremely confusing in direction. It did manage to hold my attention through many parts but it left me with so many unanswered questions. For example, what happened to the blond guy smoking the cigar from the beginning of the movie? I didn't understand his involvement. Was Pelon brothers with the bastard son? What was this "big test" for - to see who could be trusted to run the "Line" or to see who was a backstabber, full of greed? And the pills Mark was taking, were they to ignore his past or was he hallucinating because of them? I must say the head butts look very real making one feel the pain.

Pelon (Esai Morales), is a major drug lord dealing cocaine and operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. When he finds a source for buying heroin from the Afghans, his greed takes over and he starts thinking of himself as the boss, cutting out anyone who gets in his way. Mark Shields (Ray Liotta), is a hired hit man, sent to Tijuana to take Pelon out. But Mark's own demons cause him to freeze before taking the shot and Olivia (Valerie Cruz), must rescue him off the streets and nurse him back to health so he can finish the job.

Maya Entertainment, Project One Films, Ronin Films
Director: James Cotten
Producer: R. Ellis Frazier
Writer: R. Ellis Frazier
I viewed 10/09

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Speak (2003) PG13 - 3½ Stars

I bought this as a whim to make up the 4 for $20.00 special at Blockbuster. It was great to find out I now own a pretty good movie. Great story line and Kristen Stewart gives a genuine performance. I fear there are a lot more teens out there than we may realize, suffering from the same affliction possibly camouflaging it a different way.

Melina Sordino (Kristen Stewart) is about to enter high school as a bright focused student with a decent relationship with her family and good attitude on life. At a party before school starts, Melina is violently raped by a jock from school. Rather than telling anyone about what happened, she instead retreats into a silent world, pushing her mother (Elizabeth Perkins) and father (D.B. Sweeney) away. Her mother is so wrapped up in her own problems, she barely realises her daughters estrangement. As she enters high school, she has become an outcast with no friends and her grades begin to suffer. This once positive young girl is now rejecting everything that once made her happy. Even when she tries to tell her best friend (Hallee Hirsh), who is now dating the jock, she thinks she's making it up for attention. But one art teacher is about to change her life.

Mr. Freeman (Steve Zahn) encourages Melina's silence to be expressed in the form of art. He gives her an assignment to draw a tree, that produces some very deep dark effects. Rather than trying to verbally dig out the trenches that block Melina from feeling, he sets out to help her find herself from within by expression of the tree.

Speak Film Inc.
Director: Jessica Sharzer
Writers: Annie Young Frisbie, Jessica Sharzer
Producers: Fred Berner, Matthew Myers
I viewed 12/08