Monday, March 26, 2012

Splice (2010) R - 3 Stars

I was in need of a good Sci-Fi so I rented Splice hoping to be a little horrified and/or amazed over the concept of this movie about playing God. This was not the movie to do it. The sad part is the movie leaves itself open for a sequel. Not sure we need to see it all over again. First off, I would have liked to had a little more information on how Ginger and Fred, the blob like organisms, were created. I felt we are rushed in too quickly before building a story line to get us there. But then as I was thinking about that, the writers probably didn't want to tell us too much or it would have been even more unrealistic. I did however like the splice "D's" very intriguing face.

Genetic engineers, Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), have created a hybrid creature that could revolutionize modern medical science. Fame and glory are bestoyed upon them until they add human DNA into the mixture. Dren (Delphine Chanéac), is born and as she evolves they soon learn trying to play God can be a mistake.

Gaumont, Copperheart Entertainment, Dark Castle Entertainment
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Writers: Doug Taylor, Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant
Producer: Steven Hoban
I viewed 10/10

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dazed and Confused (1993) R - 2½ Stars

The movies sort of brings back a few crazy memories from high school days and the troublesome behavior of growing up. Reckless joy riding, not so hip these days, were things we did in our mavericks filled full of current 8-track tapes. Along with hormones running rampant, parties and drugs, it's a wonder any of us survived. Though I don't remember the rituals of going into high school being this bad; young boys hunted down and paddled by male seniors and girls drenched in ketchup, mustard and whip creme squirts, we were called just "scrubs.". A simple coming of age story that us class of 74'ers can relate a bit too, gosh we really did dress like that. It's no American Graffiti but it does get a few laughs. What is up with that hair Matthew McConaughey.

School has just ended for the summer, class of 76', and new sophomores must bare harassment from the high school seniors. In the last day of junior high, some of the new graduates are lucky enough to be sought out by the high school seniors for their official initiations into high school. Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins), Slater (Rory Cochrane), Randy "Pink" Floyd (Jason London), Michelle (Milla Jovovich), Simone (Joey Lauren Adams),  Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey), and a bunch of others are seeing how much fun they can have while surviving their first night of summer vacation.

Gramercy Pictures (I), Alphaville Films, Detour Filmproduction
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater
Producers: James Jacks, Richard Linklater, Sean Daniel
I viewed 3/11

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hempsters: Plant the Seed (2009) R - 3 Stars

When most people hear the word "hemp," their immediate thoughts turn to it's cousin, marijuana. While hemp is a product of the marijuana family, it's not for smoking and getting high. It contains less than 1% THC - Tetra Hydro Cannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana that gives the "buzz." Instead, the industrial crop of hemp, that once fueled our nation, is banned from growing in the United States.

Since 1985, hundreds of thousands of farmers have lost their farms with approximately 500 farmers a week go out of business. The film follows small town farmers who have grown hemp for generations but now current and future generations are banned. 

I learned a lot about this plant from the documentary about it's usage and benefits on our growing society. So many products can be made from hemp, it 's really sort of paranoid of the government and public opinion to not bring it's production back to life. If hemp is grown anywhere that marijuana is grown, hemp will take over the drug plant weakening the strength of the marijuana plant. It looks totally different than the marijuana plant and these differences can be seen by flying over.

30 countries across the world regularly grow hemp to meet their agricultural needs. However, the mention of the product here is untouched because if it's close relationship with the drug.  In 1942, the US Military destroyed all seeds in Kentucky as part of the marijuana prohibition causing American farmers to be forced to grow other products like corn, soy and tobacco. We've seen how these huge corporations gobble up the small farmer , forcing them to only plant their patented seeds. Hemp, once  grown  for military rope and canvas, now effecting Indian tribes and the soil on their land, where exercising their sovereign rights has only brought in the DEA to destroy their only means of income.

The documentary starts in 1996 where actor Woody Harrelson is planting four feral hemp seeds in the lawn in front of Kentucky government building, Knowing he could be arrested and face jail time, this documentary follows his crusade in the hopes of drawing public attention to his environmental activist approach to reliance on foreign oil, and discovering efficient forms of energy. Harrelson joins other activists Ralph Nader, Willie Nelson, Julia "Butterfly" Hill, Merle Haggard and many more top open up societies eyes to the benefits of producing such an important product. I'm unsure where hemp stands in this year 2012 but I do feel if more people watched this documentary to lessen their fears of the plant, hemp would be brought back to live helping solve production relationships with our own people in our own land.

Cinema Libre Studios
Director: Michael Henning
Producer: Diana Oliver
I viewed 2/12

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Super High Me (2007) R - 3 Stars

If you've seen the movie Super Size Me, well this is the equivalent of taking something to the extreme.  Stoner of the Year, Doug Benson, a stand up comedian by night, decides to use himself to test the effects of marijuana on his system. He's a avid pot smoker under normal circumstances but in a effort to make a spoof of the famous food movie, he enlists doctors, psychiatrists and anyone else who wants to get into the movie, to test the limits of cannibal on his system. First he gives up marijuana completely to see the effects on his body and mind. He's tested in his academic skills as well as physically and psychically. Take a trip on the humorous side as you watch one man get as possibly stoned as he can and survive.

Screen Media Ventures
Director: Michael Blieden
Producer: Alex Campbell
I viewed 2/12

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sweet Land (2005) - 3 Stars

I enjoyed this film because it reminded me of what my grandmother must have felt when she first came here from Germany in 1916 not speaking a word of English. Though slow paced, it's the touching story of a forbidden love and cultural survival. Shorty after WWI, Inge travels to America, with her Victrola in tow, to start a new life on the plains of Minnesota. She's been sent for to marry Olaf but the community church and it's people will not accept them. With her lack of communication and paperwork, and non approval from the small town, they are unable to marry. Instead, she plays house at the farm while Olaf sleeps in the barn. The town is in an uproar of their sinful ways of living in their big white house until they prove their sincerity at harvest time.

Inge Ottenberg (Elizabeth Reaser), travels from Germany to the United States in hope of finding happiness with a prearranged  new husband Olaf (Tim Guinee), an American farmer with Norwegian roots. Instead, she arrives in a community full of people judging her background roots. Frandsen (Alan Cumming), and his wife Brownie (Alex Kingston), live in a farm near by with their many children. They offer Inge a place to live as she awaits paperwork to become Olaf's wife. But the over crammed conditions cause he to flee back to the farm of Olaf and even under the town's disapproval, she sets of house while rumors spread. Olaf, a shy man, sleeps in the barn to keep the rumors at bay. But Rev. Sorrensen (John Heard),rallies the town against them.

Inge and Olaf spend every waking hour bringing their harvest to yield, completely alone but proving themselves to the community. When Frandsen's farm is behind in their mortgage, Olaf steps up to be high bidder at the auction as he couldn't bare the thought of separating Frandsen's large family. When Rev. Sorrensen and the rest of the community see they have nothing to fear from Inge and Olaf, they pitch in to bring unity back to the town.

Awards include:

2006 - Independent Spirit Awards - Best First Feature
2006 - Women Film Critics Circle - Best Female Images in a Movie
2006 - Women Film Critics Circle - Karen Morley Award

Forward Entertainment
Director: Ali Selim
Writer: Ali Selim
Producers: Ali Selim, Jim Bigham, Alan Cumming
I viewed 3/12

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New Jersey Drive (1995) R - 3½ Stars

This movie grew on me as it's very realistic. Even though the lifestyle of the main character would be what I consider a "little shit", the movie does a good job of involving you in the peer pressure of running with the wrong crowd, and you really feel for him. Set in the New Jersey low income projects, young teen boys hang together to form a brotherhood of crime. Stealing car, they keep getting away with it till the corrupt police take matters into their own hands. Growing up quite a bit differently, I found myself on the same ride as the boys as they steal cars and get into trouble, mostly just for kicks.

Jason (Sharron Corley), is a young troubled teen growing up in Newark,  New Jersey projects. Though his mother Rene (Gwen McGee), aches for him to stay in school and become something better than where he's from, Jason lies and hangs on the streets with his boys. Along with Midget (Gabriel Casseus), Roscoe (Saul Stein), Tiny Dime (Donald Faison), P-Nut (Conrad Meertins Jr.), Ritchie (Andre Moore) and the other boys, spend their days and nights drinking and stealing cars. They keep getting away with it so they step up their challenges on better cars, even once stealing a police car. But Officer Roscoe (Saul Stein), and some of his corrupt force, retaliate ending up with injury, jail and for some, death

40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks
Directors: Howard McMaster, Nick Gomez
Writers: Michel Marriott, Nick Gomez
Producers: Larry Meistrich, Bob Gosse
I viewed 2/12

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Apollo 18 (2011) PG13 - 2½ Stars

I have mixed emotions about this film. On one hand, I love thrillers that involve monsters and for that fact alone, the movie intrigued me to pay close attention. On the other hand, even though some of the shots are re-created of the moon fairly well, you have to say WTF to the tease on the box that the movie was made from actual footage. Though the movie did give me the heebee jeebees a few times, I was disappointed when the "evil" appeared as I had envisioned it a whole lot differently. This film could have been so much more as the story line is an interesting topic but I feel the creators blew it by trying to promote it as actual footage rather than focus on special effects. The effort should have been made jazzing it to more of a "War of the Worlds" epic. It's a decent attempt at capturing the era, just not executed very well. Anymore said would be a spoiler to those who want to see it. I guess I have to put it in my based on a true story category as that's what the box says.

Found old footage from NASA's 1974 top secret Apollo 18 mission, is exposed to show why the United States has never made another trip to the moon. Astronauts Ben Anderson (Warren Christie), John Grey (Ryan Robbins) and Nate (Lloyd Owen) set out for what they are told is a top secret mission back to the moon. Instead, they find out just why we have never been back.

Dimension Films, Bekmambetov Projects Ltd. (BPL), Apollo 18 Productions
Director: Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego
Writer: Brian Miller
Producers: Michele Wolkoff, Timur Bekmambetov, Cody Zwieg
I viewed 1/12

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Boys Don't Cry (1999) R - 4 Stars

This movie is based on the true life story of Teena Brandon who just wanted to find love and acceptance, living her life. In 1993, she went to the small town of Falls City where she was unknown and thought she could find happiness living her life as the man she intended to be. Instead she was met with hatred and a tragic conclusion to her young life.

Hillary Swank gives an Oscar award winning presentation in her role as Brandon Teena in this sexual discovery movie about love and hate. He meets a young girl and wants desperately to run away with his dream that finding love would make everything okay. But trying to pretend she was a boy, cost her dearly when the lies catch up to her by her lovers deadbeat friends.

Brandon Teena (Hilary Swank), is a transgender young man growing up in Lincoln Nebraska, confused by life but knowing who he wants to be. Living off and on with his good friend Lonny (Matt McGrath), he vows there's a place on earth where he can just be himself. Despite warnings from Lonny that Falls City is not the place to be accepted, he sets out to start his new life there. Brandon meets Candace, (Alicia Goranson), a single mother, who immediately accepts and opens her home to him along with sharing her friends. Lana (Chloe Sevigny), is one friend that Brandon takes an almost immediate liking to and the quickly become lovers. Even Lana's drunken mother (Jeanetta Arnette), and her two closest friends, ex-con John (Peter Sarsgaard), and his buddy Tom (Brendan Sexton), welcome Brandon into their small circle of friends. But when Brandon gets in trouble with the law, his secret is revealed causing betrayal with his close knit group and John and Tom retaliate against him tragically ending Brandon's young live.

Awards include:

1999 - Broadcast Film Critics Association - Best Actress
1999 - Chicago Film Critics Association - Best Actress
1999 - Hollywood Foreign Press Association - Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama 1999 - Independent Spirit Awards - Best Actress
1999 - New York Film Critics Circle - Best Actress
1999 - Toronto Film Critics Association - Best Actress

Fox Searchlight Pictures, The Independent Film Channel Productions, Killer Films
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Writers: Kimberly Peirce, Andy Bienen
Producers: John Hart, Christine Vachon, Jeff Sharp
I viewed 8/08 & 2/12

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Green Rush (2008) NR - 3 Stars

A short documentary peeking into the lives of marijuana growers in Northern California. To protect their identity, bandannas are worn and their names known only by the colors they wear. Mr. Red, Mr. Blue, Mr. Yellow, and Mrs. Pink are just a handful of pot growers who passionately take you on a journey through their struggles to make a living at growing some of the highest yield crops. Even though they legally, under California law, can grow up to a certain number of crops for medicinal use, their constant battle with local invaders, and the constant threat of DEA agents flying over their crops, are always with them. They grow because of their love for the green. Some consider this their only means of financial support and their crops are very important to their existence in the back woods of California. These growers are against larger organized farmers that come in and plant thousands of crops, calling way too much attention to their private fields. Even though the local state enforcers are sympathetic to these growers needs, then can not enforce any protection to them from theft and DEA fly overs.

Bunch Casseday Productions, Living The Dream Productions
Director: Jason S. Edwards
Writers: Geoff Bunch, Casey Casseday, Ryan Wise
Producers: Jay Allen, Geoff Bunch, Casey Casseday, Ryan Wise
I viewed 2/12