Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Hurt Locker (2008) R - 4 Stars

This movie really makes you feel what it's like to be in the middle of a war. One minute you can be doing routine missions and the next, dead. Based loosely on the journals of the first hand war experiences of Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker is an honest and scary look at what our young men and women are face daily in Afghanistan, and Iraq. Having watched a lot of movies about these Middle Eastern wars, they all share the imagery of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), deliberately set with only one purpose in mind; killing American soldiers and innocent Iraqi families. The photo I've selected below is about one of the scariest moments in this movie I've ever seen.

With only 38 days left in their tour of duty with Bravo Company, Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty ), know just how dangerous their current job in Iraq is, dismantling bombs. There highly precision mission involves detecting and disarming Improvised Explosive Devices, or (IEDs). Having just lost a major part of their team of the Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal(EOD),they're uneasy when the new replacement, Staff Sgt. William James(Jeremy Renner), takes seemingly unnecessary risks with their lives.

Nominated for 9 Oscar's, Awards include:

2009 - Austin Film Critics - Best Cinematography
2009 - Boston Society of Film Critics - Best Actor
2010 - Academy Award Winner - Best Picture
2010 - Academy Award Winner - Best Director
2010 - Academy Award Winner - Best Film Editing

Voltage Pictures, First Light, Kingsgate Films, FCEF, Summit Entertainment, LLC
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer: Mark Boal
Producers: Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro, Mark Boal
I viewed 2/10

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Paradise Road (1997) R - 4 Stars

War is not pretty especially when the innocent get caught up in the middle of it. I've actually seen this movie twice now. Once when it first came out before I started my blog and again this month. I'd forgotten what a great movie is was. Many proper well do to European women are captured and put in a POW Japanese camp in 1940's. This is the movie based on their true story of survival in horrendous conditions. It takes almost 3 years in captivity before the war is over and they are finally released. In order to carry on, they form a vocalized orchestra to give them the will to go on. Glenn Close is not necessarily one of my favorite actors but she did an amazing in this movie.

It's the middle of WWII and Adrienne Partiger (Glenn Close), a well to do British woman is attending a gala with her husband at a fancy hotel. All of a sudden, an explosion is heard outside followed by a few soldiers who barge in telling everyone the Japanese are close, all soldiers return to duty and all women and children are to evacuate immediately. The women and children are put on a naval gun ship and sent away. But the Japanese bomb the ship forcing the women into the water. Three of the women become separated by the larger groups and wash ashore the island of Sumatra. They are picked up by a Japanese soldier and delivered to town only to be captured and join the rest of the survivors in a primitive camp. It is here they will spend the next almost three years of their lives, learning to deal with the very brutal conditions of the Japanese as women are lower on the totem pole than garbage. Their only sanity is when Adrienne teaches them to sing in a vocal orchestra. Also starring Margaret Drummond (Pauline Collins), a missionary, Jewish-German Dr. Verstak (Frances McDormand) an Australian nurse Susan McCarthy (Cate Blanchett) and Jennifer Ehle (Rosemary Leighton-Jones) a young bride who gives up the will to live when she sees her young husband captured by the Japanese. Colonel Hiroyo (Sab Shimono), Captain Tanaka (Stan Egi), and the Interpreter (David Chung), all play the Japanese soldiers in command.

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Bruce Beresford
Writer: Bruce Beresford
Producers: Sue Milliken, Gregory Coote
I viewed 2/10

Friday, February 26, 2010

Re-Cycle (2006) NR - 3 Stars

Re-Cycle engages the controversial subject of abortion while it gives an objective view of it consequences. The one thing I liked most about this movie is the colorful imagination of the sets, I found the movie visually stimulating. So much so I want to credit Visual Effects Creative Director, Ng Yuen-fai. Also because of these sets, and the whole mixture of the journey the story line takes, it has to go in my bizarre category. Featuring almost exclusively one actor, Lee Sin Je, I think she does a great job holding down the show, though not always exciting in her facial expressions. With subtitles, an eerie beginning, and a touching ending, I give credit to the entire production for it's unique contribution to the movie industry.

Angelica Lee Ting-yen (Lee Sin Je), is a young author, working on her latest novel. As she tries to concentrate, strange sounds and visions disturb her work almost causing her to send her novel to the shredder for recycling. Frustrated, she's convinced these interruptions are taking her on a parallel journey of horrifying reality. She'll soon learn the importance of things shes discarded in life that now she holds dearly.

Universe Entertainment, Matching Motion Pictures Company, Magic Head, Luminous Velocity Releasing
Directors: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun
Writers: Cub Chin, Pak-sing Pang, Oxide Pang Chun
Producers: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun, Alvin Lam
I viewed 12/09

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ghost Town (2008) PG13 - 3 Stars

Though this movie has a good message about not becoming an uncaring asshole and taking the world for granted, I found it to move too slow for my taste. While it has some chuckles, like the dog with the air freshener scene, and a lot of great acting, it's one of those movies that you can get up and walk away from and not feel your missing something. Gervais has some great one lines and it's cute with a romantic touch but I seemed to enjoyed it more at the end than watching from the start.

A bored with the world and it's people, dentist, Dr. Pincus will encounter an annoying ghost to create major change on his life. After under going a routine colonoscopy, Pincus dies for 7 minutes and when brought back to life, now has the strange ability to converse with the dead.

Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais), is a dentist who routinely goes through his day avoiding as many people as he can. He finds the conversation of his patients, co-workers, neighbors and just about everyone else on the planet, feverishly annoying. After a routine medical procedure where he actually dies for 7 minutes, he is reawakened with a new sensory perception. He can now see and speak to the dead. With his already annoyance of fellow mankind, these new intruders are looking for his help to get messages to their loved ones so they can move on. One in particular is Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear).

While Frank was arranging a love shack for his new Mistress, a large A/C unit crashes to the ground, barely missing him causing his reactions to step foot in the path of an oncoming bus. Next thing he knows, he's dead. Months later, Frank deeply regrets his unfaithful behavior to his wife Gwen (Téa Leoni), as he sees she is about to marry another man, Richard (Billy Campbell), and starts following the dentist to help make amends with his wife. It's Frank's final wish for Pincus to convince Gwen that Richard is not the one for her. But in the process, Pincus develops his own undying love for Gwen, causing major changes in his own circle of life.

DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures, United International Pictures (UIP)
Director: David Koepp
Writers: John Kamps, David Koepp
Producer: Gavin Polone
I viewed 2/10

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Inglourious Basterds (2009) R - 4 Stars

I love movies that make you cheer for the little guy even if these little guys are a pack of Inglorious Bastards. This movie is not for everyone, especially if you can't stay up with subtitles, and graphic brutality. But, I found it to be much more entertaining than other Nazi movies like Valkyrie. Unlike Valkyrie, the best part of this movie is they actually speak GERMAN, French and English, making this movie much more believable even though a rather unbelievable story. Quentin Tarantino always finds a way to add his signature punch with a gasp, and in this case, adding that "in your face" realism of the bloody scalping of Nazi's and the bat of the "Bear Jew." Wars not pretty but Tarantino manages to bring a touch of comedy for his show of brutal retribution.

I wonder if Tarantino deliberately meant to have Pitt talking like a cartoon character but all an all the characters are consistent with their personalities. Even the evil German head of Security has a devilish edge to make him all so much more persuading, almost causing you to shed pity on.

Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), watched her family slaughtered by Nazi's head of Security Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Barley escaping with her life and her new devotion of hatred for the Germans, she flees to Paris operating a cinema. As her theater prepares for the French premiere of "The Nation's Pride," she has her own agenda to getting even with the Germans.

Lt. Aldo "Apache" Raine's (Brad Pitt), motto is "The only good Nazi is a dead Nazi." Now that Germany has occupied France and killing off the Jews, Lt. Aldo enlists the services of a few good men, all dead set of killing any Nazi they encounter. His small band of missionaries include, Bostonian Sgt. Donnie "The Bear Jew" Donowitz (Eli Roth), Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger), Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender), Pfc. Omar Ulmer (Omar Doom), Pfc. Smithson Utivich (B.J. Novak), Gen Ed Fenech (Mike Myers), and PFC Hirschberg (Samm Levine). Aldo's squad joins up with German actress Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), to help infiltrate deeper with the Germans. But the squad is found out when they order drinks not knowing the proper hand symbol for three.

When German's Head of Security Col. Hans Landa, who would sell his mothers soul to come out on top, learns of their plot to kill Hitler as he attends the premiere, he negotiates with the gang to ensure his own asses security. But Aldo's gang will make sure he'll never be able to keep his secret.

Nominated for 8 Oscar's.

2010 - Academy Award Winner - Best Supporting Actor

Lawrence Bender Productions, Studio Babelsberg Motion Pictures GmbH, The Weinstein Company, Universal Pictures
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Producers: Lawrence Bender
I viewed 1/10

Monday, February 22, 2010

Avatar (2009) PG13 - 1,000,000 Stars

The only word I can think of to describe this film is In-Fuc*ing-Credible!!! I guess I haven't gotten out much to a movie theater lately to realize how far technology has taken us in 3-D. Awesome, truly awesome as the entire movie clings all around you. Even down to the smallest details of a spark or ash seeming falling into your hands. Visually stunning, I swear they looked inside my head and produced my magical places I go to in my head, and made them even better!! The seed pods look like jelly fish one of my extreme favorites. And the story is amazing too, as it reaches out and touches every sense of your being. I hope everyone walks away with it's powerful message. We can't continue to destroy all the natural beauty on this planet or any other planer or drive any type of life form to extinction for the sake of any mineral or ore.

I had a hard time catching my breathe and cried at the sad ending and I don't think I have ever been as entertained by a movie before. Bravo, James Cameron, Bravo. Everything you can want in a movie and more. Yes it was long, almost too long, but an Academy Award Winner hands down.

On the planet of Pandorra lies an extremely valuable ore that a mega corporation is trying to mine. The problems are, the air on this planet is not breathable to humans, the creatures will hunt you down and eat you and if they don't, the Na'vi, hunters of an indigenous tribe, will. Too disturbing and violent for young children to understand.

Ex war veteran Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is wheel chair bound and offered the job of replacing his slain twin brother on the planet for a specific mission. The goal is to become an avatar on the planet and gain trust with it's people in order to relocate them from this precious commodity before the colonel goes in and takes it for himself. The tirck is to make avatars with DNA made from the humans so they can breathe the air and infiltrate the "enemy" for the purpose of production.

A story to detailed to spell out in a review as I would never do it justice, it's just that good and a must see for yourself. Excellent casting also starring, Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore), Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), Trudy Chacon (Michelle Rodriguez), Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi), Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore), and so many more. If you see no other movies in your lifetime, you must see this one.

Nominated for 9 Oscar's, Awards include:

2009 - Hollywood Foreign Press Association - Best Director
2009 - Hollywood Foreign Press Association - Best Picture - Drama
2010 - Academy Award Winner - Best Visual Effects
2010 - Academy Award Winner - Best Cinematography
2010 - Academy Award Winner - Best Art Direction

Lightstorm Entertainment, 20th Century Fox
Director: James Cameron
Writer: James Cameron
Producers: Jon Landau, James Cameron
I viewed 2/10

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Desperate Hours (1955) NR - 3½ Stars

Many people may not consider watching an older movie made from the 1950's, but I have to say this is one of the great ones. I just love watching the good old days where there is respect for your fellow neighbor and the family sits down to the table actually communicating. The men, wearing their nice suits and hats, go off to work while their wives glamorously send their families off to school after a full breakfast complete with conversation. Here we have the stereotypical family of the 50's, good proper people who must stand up to desperate ill mannered escapees, while not giving up their dignity. Dad rises to the occasion to protect his family from these three criminals after they forcefully take shelter in the Hilliard home, holding the family hostage as they await finances for the bad guys to leave. Starring Humphrey Bogart, and in B&W it totally looks like it's filmed on the back lots of Paramount Studios.

Dan Hilliard (Fredric March) has just enjoyed a wonderful breakfast prepared by his wife Eleanor (Martha Scott). He enjoys sharing the morning paper with his daughter Cindy (Mary Murphy), and talking with his young son Ralphie (Richard Eyer), who has just declared he would prefer to be called Ralph, before heading off to work. As Dan and Cindy head off in the car, Ralph joins his friends to walk to school, leaving Eleanor to start her morning chores.

Meanwhile, Glenn Griffin (Humphrey Bogart), his brother Hal (Dewey Martin), and Kobish (Robert Middleton), has just escaped from prison. Looking for the first place they can seek refuge at, they show up at the Hilliard's door. As Eleanor opens the door the men barge in immediately take over, forcing Eleanor to wait on their every need until her husband returns. Now the family must try to carry on with their normal activities and not draw any attention to themselves while they await the arrival of Glenn's girlfriend who's arriving with their cash to make a clean getaway. But when she is delayed, their plans start to unravel driving everyone to many desperate hours of survival.

Awards Include:

1955 - Edgar Allan Poe Awards - Best Screenplay
1955 - National Board of Review - Best Director

Paramount Pictures
Director: William Wyler
Writer: Joseph Hayes
Producer: William Wyler
I viewed 2/10

Friday, February 19, 2010

Julie & Julia (2009) PG13 - 3 Stars

Bravo to Meryl Streep for her performance as Julia. She obviously did her homework as many times you could shut your eyes and think Childs was standing right before you. Though the movie slows a bit from time to time and I was never a big fan of Julia Childs mainly due to her accent and quirkish methods, this movie was still enjoyable giving a good insight of the woman behind the name. Adams also does a great job as the amateur chef who decides to write a blog, 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, cooking everything in Julia Childs cookbook in just one year. I liked how the movie switches between the two time periods.

Julia Childs (Meryl Streep), and her adoring husband Paul (Stanley Tucci), are a happy well to do couple living in Europe. Though they are very happy together, Julia is looking for her niche and after struggling in a man's world of French chefs, she refuses to give up eventually becoming famous as she cooks her creations in from of a television audience.

Decades later, Julie Powell (Amy Adams), and her husband Eric (Chris Messina), have just moved into a tiny new apartment. Julie is restless and finds that baking brings her happiness as she settles into the new space. After sitting down with a copy of a cookbook by Julia Childs, she decides not only their names are similar but with both their passion for cooking, they might be more alike then she knew. Julie makes a commitment to bake everything in the Julia's cookbook in the course of a year. As she cooks her way to satisfaction and write religiously on her blog, she too struggles with her obsessions, paralleling her idol.

Nominated for 1 Oscar, Awards include:

2009 - Boston Society of Film Critics - Best Actress
2009 - New York Film Critics Circle - Best Actress
2009 - Hollywood Foreign Press Association - Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy

Sony Pictures Releasing
Director: Nora Ephron
Writer: Nora Ephron
Producers: Amy Robinson, Nora Ephron, Eric Steel
I viewed 1/10

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crashing (2007) NR - 2½ Stars

The coming attractions looked good for this movie and the erotic concept drew me in however, unfortunately it fizzles out. I do enjoy when a creative writer is colorfully narrating the movie as the characters play it out and that's what probably kept me drawn at first. After all, his ideal fantasy to be with two young college students, is about to take place and how could that not be verbalized erotically. Yawn!

The story starts to take shape when the young writers, Kristin (Izabella Miko), and Jacqueline (Lizzy Caplan), ask one of their writing idols to stay on their couch after his wife just locked him out. They learn what it takes from this master writer Richard McMurray (Campbell Scott), who helps bring all of their fantasies to life. At times, you don't really know if it's happening for real or on tablet so that part keeps you interested. But it then went downhill when the actual "dirty deeds" start taking place. They weren't erotic and looked more like some old dude taking advantage of two sexy women while trying to recapture his youth. If you're looking for a sexy Ménage à Trois, this ain't it, as it's boring and looses it's total eroticism however if you'd like a little insight on creative writing, you might enjoy some of the dialog.

Pendragon Film, Existential Films
Director: Gary Walkow
Writer: Gary Walkow
Producer: Alain Silver, Gary Walkow
I viewed 2/10

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Michael Jackson's This Is It (2009) PG - 4 Stars

No matter what you thought of Michael Jackson as a person, no one can ever say he wasn't of our greatest performers. Even with the quirky behavior, accusations of child molestation, numerous rumors of plastic surgeries, I don't know we will ever see another man of his kind bless our planet in the same way. "This is It," is a lovely tribute to the tragic ending of Michael's short life. It gave me a little more perspective into the man and yes he was anal. Anal to the critical aspects of making everything he did, a performance.

Michael wanted every one of his songs to perfectly tell it's magical story the way he intended it. Extreme attention to specific detail is what made his concerts more visual art shows. If you have ever seen him in concert, you'll have to agree with me that it was one of the best concerts you've ever seen. I saw the "Bad" concert series and at first I was embarrassed to tell friends I went to a Michael Jackson concert. After experiencing Michael live, from some pretty great seats, I can home bragging about how awesome it was. The guy sure could dance. Every song took you somewhere, not with just the lyrics, but as he acted out the entire story before your eyes.

Michael wasn't just a great singer and songwriter, but a true professional with a specific ear tuning his songs into remarkable works of art. With a birds eye view, "This is It" gives you front row seats of the preparation it takes to make a great performance. It's a must see, at least one time, for a glimpse into the men we really never knew.

I don't think Michael was the kind of guy to take no for an answer. I think his brain was a turning wheel 24 hours a day making sleep impossible as he articulated and obsessed every detail of his musical life. I'm not a doctor and don't know anything about the drugs Michael was giving inducing his death. I certainly don't condone what Dr. Conrad Murray gave to Michael and yes he should have been a better professional in his field to be able to say no to Michael. But I think the fame and fortune of being involved in Michale's life, got him caught up into loosing his professionalism of doing what was best for his patient, Michael and instead doing what was best for Dr. Conrad Murray. A sad tragedy as Michael was about to take back the stage of his live.

Sony Pictures Releasing, Sony Pictures Releasing International (SPRI)
Director: Kenny Ortega
Producers: Paul Gongaware, Kenny Ortega, Randy Phillips
I viewed 2/10

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stateside (2004) R - 3 Stars

Based on a true story, Stateside is about the coming of age of a two young psychologically troubled teens. Cook plays a singer / actress gone schizophrenic, drowning deeper into her shell while Tucker plays a young man in need of a reason to live. Kilmer plays the tough Sargent that's drills Tucker into turning his life around. On leave, Tucker will stop at nothing to be with the girl he loves, because no matter how unstable she's become, their unique romance completes and saves them from their solitude.

My favorite quote from Kilmer, "You are here because you could not by trained by the mothers of America." The movie is not award winner and wasn't shown in a lot of theaters but a good rent for a romance drama as it goes to show you there is someone out there for everyone.

Mark Deloach (Jonathan Tucker), is a well to do but extremely bored teenager. He meets Dori Lawrence (Rachael Leigh Cook), a rock singer at a club, and falls in love with her rebellious attitude. So much so, he pulls a prank on Sue Dubois (Agnes Bruckner), that results in a deadly drunk-driving accident. Now in order to not face prison, Mark's sent to join the Marines for rehabilitation. Staff Sgt. Skeer (Val Kilmer), is determined to make a soldier out of him. Meanwhile, Dori is admitted into a mental hospital as she falls deeper into her depression.

Mrs. Hagen (Diane Venora), is the head of Dori's halfway house and she believes that Mark seeing Dori only drives her deeper into herself and she lies to keep them apart. But the opposite is true and only Marc can touch Dori in a way that unlocks her inner self. The two will stop at nothing to be together.

Cinerenta, First Look Studios, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Seven Hills Pictures, Independent Distribution Partnership (IDP)
Director: Reverge Anselmo
Writer: Reverge Anselmo
Producers: Reverge Anselmo, Robert Greenhut
I viewed 11/09

Monday, February 15, 2010

Defiance (2008) R - 4½ Stars

There was a time when I hated to tell anyone my ancestry was German as I didn't want to be compared to a Nazi or be related to anyone who could be so revolting. After seeing movies like this one, based on a true story, I question my ancestry once again. A very touching story of three Jewish brothers living in Nazi occupied Poland. They barely escape death as they're away from the village when Nazi's come and kill it's occupants, along with their parents. But they refuse to role over and play dead, and vow revenge on these killers. With no where to go, they head deep into the woods to plot their next move. As more Jews learn of their defiance to the Nazi's, they travel to the woods to join up with the brothers. Even though they have no means to support this new community, more keep showing up. I love at the end when they kick butt and make the Nazi's run the other way. Beautiful cinematography and the acting is well done. A near perfect movie in my book.

It's 1941, the middle of WWII, and the Nazi's have begone invading Belarus, Poland where three brothers, Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber), and Asael Bielski (Jamie Bell), live. While the two older brothers are away, the younger brother, Asael, narrowly escapes death as the Nazi's come into their village killing everyone in sight, including their parents. As the older brothers return and witness the emotional scars left on Asael, they vow to get their revenge on the every Nazi responsible. No one will chase them from their land.

With only a few bullets for protection, they will seek revenge on the Nazi's directly responsible for killing their village. As word gets out of these brave hero's, other Jew flock to the woods where Tuvia evokes their pride as he teaches them to protect and fend for themselves so their culture can survive. He becomes a leader of this new community while Zus see these new settlers as intruders. The brothers will have to come to term with doing the right thing.


2008 - Las Vegas Film Critics Association - Best Score

Paramount Vantage
Director: Edward Zwick
Writers: Clay Frohman, Edward Zwick
Producers: Edward Zwick, Pieter Jan Brugge, Roland Tec
I viewed 12/09

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Two Lovers (2009) R - 3½ Stars

This is a pretty good romantic drama I wouldn't consider a "chick flick." I think men will relate to the movie as it is usually the male who desires the unpredictable wildness over the marital state of normality. Strong performances from both Phoenix and Paltrow, I felt compassion for Phoenix as if almost in an arranged marriage before he has the chance to flap his wings.

Leonard Kraditor (Joaquin Phoenix), in a major depression after a recent heartbreak, moves back into his childhood home with his parents, Ruth (Isabella Rossellini), and Reuben (Moni Moshonov). His parents try to play cupid with Leonard's love life, matching him with a long time family friend's daughter, Sandra Cohen (Vinessa Shaw). Sandra's parents, Michael (Bob Ari) and Carol (Julie Budd), also agree with the arrangement and welcome their families coming closer together. The Cohen's will be buying and taking over Leonard's family run dry cleaning business. And although Sandra is a truly loving, caring and adoring girl, his eyes are focused on the exciting new girl, Michele (Gwyneth Paltrow), he's discovered living in his same building, Seemingly so much out of Leonard's league, Michele keeps calling out her window to him and running into Leonard that he finds himself becoming completely infatuated with her lifestyle. So much so, that even when he finds out Michele is dating an older married man who's ripping her heart out, Leonard still continues to passionately fall in love with her, while valuing just being her friend.

Meanwhile, Leonard's parents are pushing him into this ideal relationship with Sandra, forcing him to make an impossible decision between Michele, the one who has reignited his lust for life, or Sandra, who will offer him comfort, love and security while possibly sending him back into the massive state of depression from his boring former life.

2009 - National Board of Review - Best Independent Film

2929 Productions, Wild Bunch, Tempesta Films, Magnolia Pictures
Director: James Gray
Writers: James Gray, Ric Menello
Producers: Anthony Katagas, Donna Gigliotti, James Gray
I viewed 11/09

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Revolutionary Road (2008) R - 3½ Stars

Based on the 1961 novel by author Richard Yates, I liked this movie with it's great cast, Bates, DiCaprio and Winslet. Winslet does a good job playing a head strong woman so set in her dreams, it will drive her mad if she has to comply with society. DiCaprio, always good in his roles, plays the loving supportive bread winning husband of the 50's. Even though they are defiant to live the "Leave it to Beaver" stereo-typed family, they end up finding themselves living that it anyways.

Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio), and April Wheeler (Kate Winslet), are a young married couple from Connecticut. While everyone else lives in conformity to the 1950's life styles, Frank and April have never thought of themselves as complying to any ones standards but more, the couple that sets the bar. They move to their new home on Revolutionary Road, and soon find out that co-existing with the other "perfect yard - white picket fence" neighbors becomes stifling. As Frank and April try to fit into this, "ideal environment," they find themselves feeling suffocated. Vowing to break up the monotony, they pledge to friends their move to Paris, France. The couple finally feels alive again as they plan their move. But Frank is offered a large pay bonus to stay put and he decides to take the financial stability over the unstable risk. That doesn't go over well with April who now feels she must do it to stay alive.

Awards include:

2008 - Revolutionary Road - Alliance of Women Film Journalists - Best Actress
2008 - Revolutionary Road - St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association - Best Actress
2008 - Revolutionary Road - Vancouver Film Critics - Best Actress

Neal Street Productions, Evamere Entertainment, BBC Films, Paramount Pictures
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Justin Haythe
Producers: Sam Mendes, John Hart, Bobby Cohen
I viewed 9/09

Friday, February 12, 2010

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) PG - 3½ Stars

Yet another cute and well animated adventure from Sony Pictures Animation. Though sometimes I swear these cartoons are made with the adult in mind as there as subtle sexual innuendo that hopefully go right over a child's head. The characters are fun and quirky and the one thing that bothered me just a bit was Sam the girl looked a lot like the girl from Monsters vs. Aliens, who don't get me wrong I loved, but thought possibly this girl could have been animated a little differently.

Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), has been tinkering with things since he was a young boy. Though many of his inventions go bust, like his spray on shows, he still thrives inside knowing someday he will be a great inventor. It seems only his mother Fran (Lauren Graham), believes in him as the town has seen his ideas backfire before. After his mother dies, his father Tim (James Caan), wants Flint to work for him in his Sardine Bait and Tackle Shop and give up these crazy ideas that just make the town turn on him. But Flint is determined to come up with something that will make his late mother and father proud.

Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), is the local weather girl that her television station doesn't take serious. Time and again, she has been flustered in front of the lens that end up making her look bad. As she strolls to the edge of a pier to throw her mic into the water, she stumbles upon Flint, who's been feeling sorry for himself too. When the two meet, Sam is excited to learn about Flint's inventions and seems to understand every scientific reason behind them. It's love at first sight to Flint. With their town on the verge of starvation, Flint is determined to come up with a way to solve their hunger needs. His inventions turns to be a sweet success to Mayor Shelbourne (Bruce Campbell), who now can customize his request to include all of his favorite foods. But when the machine overloads, over sized foot starts falling from the sky putting the town at risk. If Flint is to accomplish any worthy goal in his life, and win over the girl, he must stop his machine before it's too late.

Sony Pictures Releasing, Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group
Directors: Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Christopher Miller
Writers: Christopher Miller, Judi Barrett, Phil Lord
Producer: Pam Marsden
I viewed 2/10

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lies and Illusions (2009) R - 2½ Stars

With two of my favorite actors, Cuba Gooding Jr and Christian Slater, I thought this movie would be a huge hit. However, I was disappointed with it's outcome. Yes it has action and bad guys chasing the good, but the whole story turns out to be a sham, the special effect are cheesy at best and it just doesn't keep you caring for the characters at all. For example, after a huge scene smashing up cars and gun shots a blazing, not one cop is to be found. No one is ever around to save Slater and no matter what he does, you almost know he's going to get it in the end. Their lines don't flow and are predictable and corny. Definitely not one of either one of their best films.

Wes Wilson (Christian Slater), is a accredited writer engaged to his fiancee' Sam (Sarah Ann Schultz). When she has gone missing and presumed dead, Wes's life is turned upside down. Being a self help author unable to help himself, friends suggest he start dating again to break his depression. By chance, he meets Nicole (Christa Campbell), who just might give him something else to focus on.

Without warning, Wes is being stalked and threatened by criminal mastermind Isaac Kahn (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who wants his diamonds back. But Wes knows nothing about any diamonds and as he digs deeper into his fiancees past, he finds she's been keeping secrets as he discovers an arsenal of weapons in a secret room. Now as he realises nothing and no one are as them seem there is no one he can rely on but himself.

Nu Image/Millennium Films, Two Sticks Productions
Director: Tibor Takacs
Writer: Eric James
Producers: Johnny Martin, David Ornston, Rich Cowan
I viewed 8/09

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Powder Blue (2009) R - 3 Stars

Four separate strangers, each with a terrible hole in their lives all intersect to find the courage to go on. On the same realm of a "Crash" style movie, Powder Blue brings these four lives in connection with each other however, never allows you to get a real focus on their connections. Some of the scenes are drawn out and don't tell you much. I thought with such an all star cast and after watching the trailer, it would be powerful drama but it looses too much steam.

Jack Doheny (Ray Liotta) is an ex-con who's has been locked up for the past 25 years. He knows he has a daughter he has not seen and in order to find a reason for his life, he tracks her down to learn more about her, trying to regain her confidence and participate in her life.

Rose Johnny (Jessica Biel) is a professional dancer who moved to Los Angeles in order to make it big. But now that her young son Billy (Chandler Canterbury) has been in a coma for over 3 months, she does whatever it takes to pay the bills even if it means stripping professionally at a club run by a seedy owner Velvet Larry (Patrick Swayze). Qwerty Doolittle (Eddie Redmayne), works in a morgue and has never had a girlfriend. Once he meets Rose he finally discovers feeling in himself he never had before. Randall (Kris Kristofferson), rides the bus at night giving advice to anyone who will listen to him.

Charlie Forest Whitaker was a dedicated priest and met a wonderful woman to call his wife. But when an accident takes her life, he forgets while he ever believed and feels punished by God. Sally (Lisa Kudro), is a waitress and takes a liking to Charlie and she hates to always see him in such despair at her table. Lexus (Alejandro Romero), is a transvestite that Charlie picks up in order to request he/she kill him ending his misery. In one split moment, everyone will touch each other in a way that saves or ends their lives.

Image Entertainment, Speakeasy Releasing
Director: Timothy Linh Bui
Writer: Timothy Linh Bui
Producers: Tracee Stanley, Ross M. Dinerstein, Forest Whitaker
I viewed 6/09

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Killer Condom (1998) NR - 2 Stars

Why Oh Why do we have movies like this and better yet, why do I continue to watch them? Well my neighbor brought this one down and said "Add this to your reviews" and being the devoted viewer I am, all I can say is here's yet another one for my bizarre category. It's almost like a farce on the "B Movie" so for that, I'm giving it a 2. Based on Ralph Konig's German comic book the movie is also in German with subtitles.

Gay Detective Luigi Mackeroni (Udo Samel), secretly visits sleazy motels in search of pleasure. It's no secret that drag Queen Babette (Leonard Lansink), is in love with him as once the two were very close. But now Detective Luigi longs for more manly men. Meanwhile, ladies of the night have been seeing condoms come to life right before their eyes, literally cutting into their action. Luigi is committed to solving this dilemma but needs to be able to investigate one. Be careful for what you wish for as he's about to have a close encounter that might his end his manhood but more importantly redeem him on the force.

Troma Entertainment, Ascot Film and Fernsehproduction, Ecco Films Inc
Director: Martin Walz
Producers: Ralph S. Dietrich, Harald Reichebner, Michael Stricker
Writer: Ralph Honig
I viewed 10/09

Monday, February 8, 2010

Duplicity (2009) R - 3 Stars

Though Roberts and Owen make a great looking team with passionate chemistry that works well together. However, the movie becomes more about them instead of goal they are trying to achieve making it very hard for me to follow. For the longest time you don't even know what they are trying to get their hands on. Even the characters don't know what the prize is. At first, when the movie flashed back 5 years, I was interested in where their relationship stemmed from. But when it keeps flashing back to years, months, and even days before, it makes it confusing to stay focused on the point and only on the couples intimate interactions. Don't get me wrong, I got it in the end but for me, the journey getting there wasn't enjoyable trying to keep up.

Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts), has a long trusted background as a CIA officer. She's working undercover at a company that is trying to uncover a patent that will secure their financial future. Ray Koval (Clive Owen), working at an opposing company is also secretly seeking the same patent. The two play a cat and mouse game with each other trying to hold the upper hand. However the competitors, industry tycoon Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson), and CEO Dick Garsil (Paul Giamatti),will stop at nothing to access the information gaining the advantage.

Universal Pictures
Director: Tony Gilroy
Writer: Tony Gilroy
Producers: Kerry Orent, Jennifer Fox, Laura Bickford
I viewed 8/09

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling (2009) PG13 - 3 Stars

Without a paddle is really without a point but none the less a "cute" pointless movie. I like the fact the main characters are no one I have really seen before, making their innocence easier to accept as they all seem like "nice guys." I doubt any name brand stars would sign up for this one anyway. But having said that, I enjoyed it enough to say rent it if there is nothing else out at the moment.

My take, basically young man has had a huge crush on a girl since high school. When he finds out that his best friend is trying to track her down, it's his opportunity to tag along hoping to re-find his true love. Now here's the kicker. The girl is living in the trees, with her best girl friend, protecting the forest from developers and they must find her before her grandmother kicks the bucket.

Zach (Kristopher Turner), is a nurse at a retirement home and an elderly women he is taking care of has just found out her heart is bad and her days are numbered. She asks Zach to help her find her granddaughter Heather (Madison Riley), before she dies. When Zach sees that the girl he has been asked to find, is the same girl his best friend Ben (Oliver James), was in love with, he forces him to leave his work-a-holic job, and to find her and rekindle his love.

The two travel to where she was last spotted to look for clues where they are told by the locals to stay out of the woods as a monster is present and anyone who goes in there, never comes back.

Nigel (Rik Young), Heathers step brother, shows up as the boys are about to leave, insisting he tag along to help. The trio throw a raft into the river, forgetting to bring anything but beer, and ride the rapids deep into the woods. But when their raft springs a leak, squirrels attack, strange men are following Nigel, and Heather could care a less about Ben, they begin to this nature adventure really bites.

Director: Ellory Elkayem
Writers: Jay Leggett, Mitch Rouse, Stephen Mazur
Producer: Amy Goldberg
I viewed 2/10

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Donnie Brasco (1997 ) R - 4½ Stars

What a great movie based on the true story of Special F.B.I. Agent Danny Brasco, who infiltrated the mafia to get over 100 convictions with evidence he collected. Johnn Depp stars as Danny Brasco and at first glance, I didn't even realize it was him. A 12-year younger Depp up against a 12 year younger Al Pacino who both do an excellent job in their roles. Pretty surprising to see how many stars of this movies, I've seen in other mafia movies even carrying into HBO's, "The Sapranos." Though it took me 12 years to see it, I think it's one of the best mafia movies I've ever seen. Donnie has a 500,000-dollar contract on his life.

Joe Pistone (Johnny Depp), an FBI agent, has been given a tough assignment to infiltrate the Mafia's Bonanno family, gaining their trust in order to collect evidence later to be used against them. His name is changed to Donnie Brasco.

Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino), is a mob hit man whose spent the last 30 years of his life killing people and finding he has gained nothing to show for it in his old age. His life is falling apart before his eyes as his son is addicted to heroin, his marriage is falling apart and when he meets Donnie, he takes him under his wing seeing him as a chance to redeem himself within the mob. Lefty helps get Donnie get "in" with the family as he is quickly accepted as his importance grows. But the closer Donnie gets into the family, the more he begins acting like a mobster himself causing difficulty in his personal family life with his wife Maggie (Anne Heche).

When Donnie finds himself in too deep, leaving is not an option as he fears what they will do to himself and his family. Plus he also knows when the time comes to get out, it will surely mean the end of Lefty, a man he has grown close to and trusted as a friend.

1997 - Donnie Brasco - National Board of Review - Best Supporting Actress

TriStar Pictures
Director: Mike Newell
Writer: Paul Attanasio
Producers: Barry Levinson, Gail Mutrux, Louis Di Giaimo
I viewed 9/09

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Orphan - 2½ Stars

Is it just me or is the concept behind this movie on the ridiculous side. I did like the cute little character of Max as she can't speak and has to keep all the secrets of her new big sister to herself. The Orphan is suppose to be a 33 year old woman posing as a small child to get adopted so she can steal the husband away. Hmmmm, did I give the plot away, well thank me for saving you the trouble of watching it. The trailer is much better then the movie is.

Kate Coleman (Vera Farmiga), has suffered through a miscarriage and it's taking it's toll on her marriage with John (Sarsgaard). The couple already have two children Danny (Jimmy Bennett), and Max (Aryana Engineer), a deaf mute, but Kate feels a new child can help her feel complete. When Kate starts having horrible nightmares, the couple visits an orphanage where Sister Abigail (CCH Pounder), introduces them to Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a mature, seemingly proper and perfect, young girl. Kate thinks Esther is just what they need to put their broken family back together.

Esther is brought home and introduced to the other children who both sense it won't be an easy transition. The longer Ester is around, the more strange things start to happen that jeopardize the safety of her other children. Kate begins to feel something is wrong with Esther but her husband and friends only see the sweet innocent side of Ester and think Kate's still healing. Putting more of a strain on their marriage, Kate begins to investigate Esther's past where she finds out she's not who they think she is. Now she must convince her husband, the child must go before she does something to harm Kate and the other children.

Dark Castle Entertainment, Warner Brothers
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: David Leslie Johnson
Producers: Leonardo DiCaprio, Susan Downey, Joel Silver
I viewed 12/09

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Taking Woodstock (2009) R - 3 Stars

The best part of this movie for me was it allowed us to really get a visual imagination of what it might have been like to attend Woodstock. No, I was a bit too young to have traveled so far for a concert but I did see the Beatles in 1964, my walls were covered with psychedelic posters and do remember this radical change in America's future. The movie didn't spotlight on the great bands but more about the Peace, Love and Happiness era that was over taking the drugged youth of America. An interior designer inadvertently changes America and effects the world.

I wonder how much of this movie was based from the actual event and how much free license the director was able to adapt. It's a slow moving in many parts but a must see if you're of any age to remember, or care to, it's a movie you'll want to see if nothing else but nostalgia . I think the casting was perfect though the Mrs. that ran the hotel, I found quit annoying.

It's 1969 and a revolutionary change is happening in Greenwich Village. Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), is an interior designer who, almost by accident, causes a major impact on the world. Elliot is from the small town of Catskills, NY., and works with his parents at their El Monaco motel. Elliot also heads the city council board where he's just been awarded a permit to have his concert, for the locals of his community, that he's done for the last few years.

Nearby in Wallkill, NY., Elliot hears of the "Woodstock Music and Arts Festival" and how they have just lost their permit to hold the event there. Trying to promote revenue for his city while helping his parents out, he phones Michael Lang (Jonathan Groff), the producer of the show and offers accommodations at his hotel. After Lang flies out to meet with Elliot, they persuade a local farmer to allow usage of his land for the event along with a nice little profit. He agrees and with Elliot's valid permit, the rest is history. But no one could have possibly imagined the massive turnout which will probably never ever be repeated again.

Focus Features
Director: Ang Lee
Writer: James Schamus
Producers: Ang Lee, James Schamus, Celia Costas
I viewed 1/10

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Snow Walker (2003) PG - 4 Stars

I really thought this was a beautiful movie. Shot in Canada, the scenery is breathtaking and I loved almost everything about it. The fall back that stopped me from rating it higher was I didn't like the dialog between the characters. They would have been better off not speaking to each other than trying to make us believe this secluded Eskimo knew as much English as she did. She should have kept to her native tongue and he to his and the movie would have been much more real. But I loved the fact that he was the macho man, brought back to reality when she is teaches him basic survival techniques. Why didn't anyone hear of this movie when it came out?

It's the 1950's and Charlie Halliday (Barry Pepper), has always considered himself to be one the best pilots to fly. Somewhat of a risk taker, Charlie's job has been to deliver supplies to the people of the Artic North. While on a routine delivery he lands to drop off supplies when the native people try to convince him to take one of their extremely sick along with him as she is in need of immediate medical attention for TB. He refuses until they bribe him with a gift of expensive ivory tusks they have harvested. Charlie agrees to talking the ailing Kanaalaq (Annabella Piugattuk), along with him. As the two head off, they are caught in a severe snow storm. When the plane crashes, each is forced to learn from and help the other in order to survive the variety of obstacles the harsh landscape throws in their path.

First Look Studios, Infinity Media, Inc., Walk Well/Snow Walker
Director: Charles Martin Smith
Writer: Charles Martin Smith
Producers: Rob Merilees, William Vince
I viewed 10/09