Monday, March 18, 2013

Lake City (2008) R - 2½ Stars

This could have been such a better movie. Sissy Spacek is perfect in this type of a rural setting, playing a troubled mom out in a remote location. She's great as usual, however, she can't hold it up on her own and should have saved her talent for movies worthy of her. It's not that I thought the acting was horrible starring Troy Garity but the movie is slow and leaves unanswered questions and takes so long to make any connection to the characters. I understand why Billy is having problems relating to his newly discovered son but why do you wait till almost the end before you know why? If Billy had been doing so well cleaning up his act, what the hell is he doing with the drug infested Hope? What happened to Spacek's husband? What's the band at the gas station all about, you never even hear them play? And why is Billy leaving now? Is he together with Jenny and why is he leaving his son with grandma? Characters just pop in and out of this movie without any substance to them? I guess my favorite part is when Spacek and Garity make amends, and maybe the corn field chase scene but other than that, it just wasn't there.

Maggie (Sissy Spacek), is a single aging mom taking care of the land she raised her kids on. Even though the developers of a new highway want her to sell her property, Maggie has memories of her children there and doesn't want to leave.

Meanwhile, Billy (Troy Garity), is on the run from a drug dealer wanting his money. He's on the road with a young boy Clayton (Colin Ford), as Clayton's mom has suddenly abandoned them both along with the dealers drugs. Billy seeks refuge at his mothers house deciding what to do next. But Maggie and Billy have many issues to work out from their past before anyone can start the future new.

Screen Media Films
Directors: Perry Moore, Hunter Hill
Writers: Perry Moore, Hunter Hill
Producers: Donna Bascom, Sally Pope, Mike Ryan
I viewed 2/10

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Expendables (2010) R - 3 Stars

Gosh, I usually love Lionsgate movies but for having such an all star cast, the movie is not only predictable but cheesy in oh so many ways. Though, if you like a good action movie to increase your testosterone levels, you'll probably love this one. I don't get how this macho Stallone, full of void and void of emotions, lets a woman he just met, get to him. For me, the best part of the movie is the massive gun Hale Caesar uses to blow everything away. Arnold Schwarzenegger even makes a brief cameo appearance.

Barney Ross, (Sylvester Stallone), is loyal to no one except his team of modern day warriors. When Church, (Bruce Willis), offers him an profitable assignment in Vilena, he quickly pulls together his team consisting of Lee Christmas, (Jason Statham), a former SAS who prefers knives to guns, Hale Caesar, (Terry Crews), weapon specialist, Gunner Jensen, (Dolph Lundgren), a precision sniper, Toll Road (Randy Couture), expert on blowing things up and the short guy, Ying Yang, (Jet Li). Their treacherous mission is to overthrow American Vilena dictator General Gaza,(David Zayas). In doing so, they will learn who their real enemies are in James Munroe, (Eric Roberts), former CIA and his body guard Paine, (Steve Austin). As Church and Ross scout out the island, their contact Sandra, (Giselle Itie), a guerrilla fighter, refuses to leave her people behind and is captured instead. Non emotional Ross, can't seem to bare he failed getting Sandra off the island, so he returns with his merry mob determined to save this damsel in distress.

Director: Sylvester Stallone
Writers: Sylvester Stallone, Dave Callaham
Producers: John Thompson, Kevin King-Templeton, Avi Lerner
I viewed 12/10

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Invention of Lying (2009) PG13 - 3 Stars

Wow I just watched back to back movies starring Ricky Gervais. I think I liked this one just a little bit more. Once again, a cute romantic comedy but this one kept my attention more than Ghosttown. Gervais plays almost the same type of character, this time in a world where people can not tell a lie as they haven't evolved that far. Gervais quickly rises to the top as he develops the skills needed to learn to fib. Along the way, his heart is taken by a woman who only sees his physical attributes and he tries to teach her to look beyond his cover. Tina Fay makes a cameo appearance playing the office girl Shelley.

The world is somewhat awkwardly perfectly with everyone struck with brutal honesty, telling the truth with no thought of the consequences. Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais), is just an average guy who's been set up on a date with the gorgeous Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner). Right from the start, it's made perfectly clear that his DNA would never be good enough for her high standards of beauty. And even though Mark knows he's out of her league, he's finding himself more attracted to her. But Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe), constantly reaffirms Mark is just about as low as you can get on the food chain. Brad believes that Anna should be with one of superior quality, like himself.

And if things weren't bad enough for Mark, he looses his job and with only $300.00 to his name, he's about to become evicted. While at the bank withdrawing his life's savings, the computers are down to confirm his account balance. Something comes over him which causes him to over exaggerate his balance and asks the teller for $800.00. She quickly agrees and before he knows it, the wheels are turning in his head of how easy he can reach a higher life style proving himself worthy to Anna.

With his new trait, Mark convinces his suicidal neighbor Frank (Jonah Hill), not to kill himself and then takes his low life friend Greg (Louis C.K.), to Las Vegas to hone his new skills. Winning big at the tables and slots, Frank and Mark return with mountains of cash. But even with all his lying rewards, he can't lie his way into the heart of the girl he dreams of. And he can't prolong the death of his sickly mother. Seeing her in such despair on her dying bed, he quickly tells her of the "Man in the Sky" and all the rewards she has awaiting her. But when word gets out that Mark gets messages directly from a "Man in the Sky," they flock to him to learn more. Now, Mark has his work cut out as he teaches the world to open their eyes.

Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Directors: Matthew Robinson, Ricky Gervais
Writers: Matthew Robinson, Ricky Gervais
Producers: Sue Baden-Powell, Ricky Gervais, Lynda Obst
I viewed 2/10

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Wackness (2008) R - 3 Stars

A cute coming of age comedy about drugs, getting old and relationships. Kingsley is great in his role as a bored pot smoking therapist trying to keep his younger side alive. Peck is also great in his role as Luke, using his creative imagination selling drugs out of an ice cream cart, and Thirlby is gorgeous playing Luke's girl. Together they fill a void in each other while teaching themselves the meaning of life. Good sound track.

It's 1994 and Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck), a teenage drug dealer, is working the summer streets of Manhattan, peddling drugs from his disguised ices cart. Along his journeys he meets Dr. Jeffrey Squires (Ben Kingsley) who he trades drugs in exchange for therapy sessions. The two form an uncommon yet understood friendship where Dr. Squires encourages Luke to go after the girl he's been thinking about. But things get complicated when the girl Luke's after, turns out to be Dr. Squires step daughter, Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby).

Awards include:
2008 - The Wackness - Alliance of Women Film Journalists - Most Egregious Age Difference Between Leading Man and Love Interest
2008 - The Wackness - Sundance Film Festival - Audience Award

Occupant Films, LLC, Shapiro Levine Productions, SBK Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Jonathan Levine
Producers: Keith Calder, Joe Neurauter, Felipe Marino
I viewed 3/09

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Man Named Pearl (2006) G - 3½ Stars

A warm hearted documentary about the passionate life and garden of a man named Pearl. He's been called the Edward Scissorhands of Bishopville, South Carolina. You must check out his gallery on line.

Pearl is just a good old boy who's life has never been easy and purchases a home in 1976, in a upper class all white neighborhood where he is not wanted. The Real estate agent told Pearl and his wife Metra, that "black people don't keep up their yards properly", and Pearl, the proud man that he is, sets forth to make his garden something the neighbors will be happy with. He teaches himself the art of topiary and is allowed free plants from the dump pile the local garden house is throwing away. When he hears of a contest offered for the best yard of the month, he is eager to make his yard something worthy of the prestigious honor. With his creative mind and faith in what he wanted to achieve would grow, he began to twist and tie branches in unnatural ways. Sometimes waiting 5 years or more for his creation to be realised. Then he meticulously hands trims the bushes and trees into abstract art. Along with his trash art made up of items found here and there, he has transformed his over 3 acres into a magical garden, people from all over have come to see.

In one conversation with Japanese tourists, the admit that Pearl's garden is even more stunning then many in Japan. His work has been featured in many magazine and he has done television interviews and has become the no named wonder in the gardening / landscaping world. The local waffle house has his twisted work outside of their doors and give Pearl and his wife free breakfast for life because of all the attention his masterpieces have brought to their doorsteps. It is now the hope that Pearl at age 68, can continue his 30 years of magic by adorning the city streets of Bishopville and Lee County with his artistic and calming creations, driving tourists back to their small economic dwindling town. You're heart with fall in love with a man named Pearl.

Shadow Distribution
Directors: Brent Pierson, Scott Galloway
Producers: Brent Pierson, Scott Galloway
I viewed 1/09

Thursday, March 7, 2013

After (2006) NR - 1 Star

Rarely does a movie come along that makes one have the urge to shoot themselves but I've found it.

An extreme group of urban thrill seekers travel to Russia in search of Stalin's secret metro and Ivan the Terrible's torture chamber. The film is shot in a documentary style but trying to be creative, the camera jumps all over the place. I think the producer thought that added to the effects but for me at least, I really could not stand watching it. I felt like shooting myself for wasting my time and applauded that is was finally over.

I doubt you'll be seeing any awards for this one any time soon.
No photos to be found as well but trust me - no big loss.

After... Films LLC
Director: David L. Cunningham
Writers: Kevin Miller, David L. Cunningham
Producers: Penelope L. Foster, David L. Cunningham, Edwin L. Marshall
I viewed 1/08

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gracie (2007) PG13 - 4 Stars

Gracie is a movie that makes you feel good while rooting for the underdog. Based on the true story of the death of William Shue, a cast member and the director made this film to honor their brother.

(Carly Schroeder) is Gracie Bowen, a 15 year old tom girl that looks up to her older brother Johnny (Jesse Lee Soffer), star player for their high school soccer team. The family lives and breaths soccer. When he dies suddenly in a car accident, Gracie vows somehow to take his place in the world of soccer. She has followed her brothers footsteps and learned from him but everyone tells her she can't do it. Her family doesn't want her to become involved because she is a girl. And even her best friend tells her she will be deemed a lesbian if she plays for the team. All she has to do is convince the Coach Clark (Andrew Shue) that she is qualified. The boys show her no mercy but she refuses to give up. Not until she's reached the top in every one's eyes.

Director: Davis Guggenheim
Writers: Lisa Marie Petersen, Karen Janszen
Producers: Elisabeth Shue, Andrew Shue, Davis Guggenheim
I viewed 10/07

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Falling Down (1993) R - 4 Stars

Zola's pic for one you should see at least one time or own in your collection.

William Foster's (Michael Douglas) is not having a very good day. He's on the way to a job that he's been laid off from and it hasn't quite sunk in yet. Neither has the fact he is divorced and is suppose to stay clear of his daughter and ex-wife Beth (Barbara Hershey).

While day dreaming about his daughters birthday, he finds himself in the middle of traffic pile up on the 110. With so much annoying him, he abandons his car and just walks off. He needs to make a call to his daughter and when the Korean shop owner refuses to make change for him, his anger starts to mount. No one seems to be cooperating with him.

Obviously delusional, he stops to rest and gets lippy with a group of gangsters defending their turf. The punks later retaliate but wind up fighting for their lives. Foster becomes armed and though already mentally unsound, takes on the rest of the city. He snaps when the fast food restaurant refuses to make him breakfast at lunch time.

Meanwhile, with a wife constantly calling to remind him, officer Prendergast (Robert Duvall), counts down the hours of his last days on the job. Replaying his somewhat boring future in his head, Pendergast picks up on clues other detectives have missed. It's important to him to solve this last case. When Foster and Pendergast confront each other, both men have nothing to loose.

Warner Bros Pictures
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Ebbe Roe Smith
Producers: Herschel Weingrod, Timothy Harris, Mike Jackman
I viewed 1/08

Monday, March 4, 2013

Whiteout (2009) R - 3 Stars

I have mixed emotions about this movie. It wasn't a great movie at all but something kept me drawn and somewhat nearing the edge on my seat a few times. Maybe it was just a good job of feeling the freezing blizzard or perhaps the uncertainty of a killer on the loose, hacking his way through what's left of the crew. But that's when it also got a little cheesy to me as this killer was really a bad shot. I think I counted at least 12 hacks toward Marshall Stetko, while never striking her once. If nothing else, it gives a pretty realistic feel to what it must be like to live and work at the North or South Pole.

U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko (Kate Beckinsale), has been reassigned a position at Antarctica's South Pole research base after her partner turned on her and she had to shoot to kill. The betraying images still haunt her nightly so she prefers this solitude of misdemeanor crimes rather than deal with who she can trust. When a body is discovered on the snow away from base, her investigative instincts quickly return as it's apparent the man was murdered.

Dark Castle Entertainment, Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution
Director: Dominic Sena
Writers: Jon Hoeber, Chad Hayes, Erich Hoeber
Producers: Susan Downey, Joel Silver, David Gambino
I viewed 2/10

Sunday, March 3, 2013

What Doesn't Kill You (2008) R - 3½ Stars

Based on a true story, of two boys growing up as street thugs in the south part of Boston. They only know how to do one thing only, making a quick buck regardless of what must be done to get it. With no respect for life, the two eventually find themselves in over their heads behind bars.

Brian (Mark Ruffalo), and Paulie (Ethan Hawke), are growing up on the streets of Boston, almost if brothers, both coming from broken homes. They are willing participants in any petty crime that mob boss Pat Kelly (Brian Goodman), assigns to them. In this town where only the strong survive, Brian and Paulie have become the perfect street thugs, involved in misdemeanor crimes in order to make a quick buck. Now, as adults, their petty crimes have taken a new direction, landing both of them in long term prison sentences.

When parole come up, Paulie takes the rap in a case of jail cell pay back, so Brain can go free and to start a new life with wife Stacey (Amanda Peet) and their son. But Detective Moran (Donnie Wahlberg), won't let things lie with Brain, watching his every move, and eventually Paulie's as well, when he joins the outside regrouping with Brian. Though Brian has vowed to stay clean from drugs and rekindle his relationship with his wife and son, it's getting tougher with steady work becoming harder to find. When Paulie approaches Brian with a plan of off one last great heist that will financially set them free, Brian must reflect back to his prison days in order to find the strength to say no.

Yari Film Group, Battle Plan Productions
Director: Brian Goodman
Writers: Donnie Wahlberg, Paul T. Murray, Brian Goodman
Producer: Rod Lurie, Bob Yari, Marc Frydman
I viewed 5/09

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Iraq in Fragments (2005) Part 2 NR - 2½ Stars

This is a 2 part documentary of what you are not going to see on CNN or the local news. Part 2 is a more personal look at how the war has effected the Iraqi people. I watch every documentary I can about the war because it is the only way to see all sides of the story. It's subtitled and broken down into chapters. Part 2 drug on a little for me but was still educational and comes with Part 1 automatically.

Chapter one - Sari's Mother:

Sari Zehum is a 10 year old boy who has contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion. This chapter shows the mother point of view in trying to get care for her boy who's had the disease for 4 years now. She becomes lost in the health care system that really has no idea how to treat the infliction. The children play war games with their clay toys putting bombs under the wheels of cars.

Chapter two - Jim McDermott visit to Baghdad:

Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott and the James Longley travel to Baghdad to see what condition the country is in after the Gulf War. Their speeches are of trying to disarm Iraq. The film shows the sewage treatment plants not operational and causing diseases to the Iraqi children. Also birth defects are up do to the large degree of radiation poison from uranium plus debris and tanks left all over the country side.

The last section is made up of the Independent Film & Television Center (IFTC) and the artist community before and after the war strikes. 4 short films by students are included in this section as well as Director commentary.

2006 - Iraq in Fragments - Sundance Film Festival - Excellence in Cinematography - Documentary Competition.

To read more about the filming of this documentary, click here.

Typecast Releasing
Driector: James Longley
Producers: James Longley, John Sinno
I viewed 5/08

Friday, March 1, 2013

Iraq in Fragments (2005) Part 1 NR - 3 Stars

This is a 2 part documentary of what you are not going to see on CNN or the local news. It's actual footage of how the Sunnie, Shia and Kurds feel about America and our invasion into their country. I watch every documentary I can about the war because it is the only way to see all sides of the story. It's subtitled and broken down into three chapters.

The first chapter is entitled Mohammed in Baghdad. Mohammed Haithem Majid is an 11 year old boy who is needs to look after himself after he's disconnected with his father during the start of the war. He works in an auto shop for a man he'd like to call his dad but he makes fun of him as he can't read or write and has flunked the same grade 4 times. This man tries to instill the importance of an education but with the talk of Americans invading his country, he's uncertain which direction he should take.

Chapter two is entitled Sadr's South. About the fundamentalist Shiite cabal of Moqtada Sadr and his strict government based on guns and Muslim Law. They are against alcohol of any type and raid swap meets where they know sellers are peddling their goods. Mehdi Army fighter, Naseriyah is featured. Scary to see fanaticism of these young men as one can trigger them all into fury. None of these Iraqi men are happy with the American invasion, some even saying things were better with Saddam.

Chapter three is entitled Kurdish Spring shows the Kurds as farmers making bricks holding onto the faith that someday will be better. They welcome the US presence as it has allowed them a measure of freedom previously denied.

Awards include:
2006 - Iraq in Fragments - Sundance Film Festival - Excellence in Cinematography - Documentary Competition.
2006 - Iraq in Fragments - Sundance Film Festival - Documentary Film Editing Award
2006 - Iraq in Fragments - Sundance Film Festival - Documentary Directing Award

To read more about the filming of this documentary, click here.

Typecast Releasing
Director: James Longley
Producers: James Longley, John Sinno
I viewed 5/08