Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Control Room (2003) NR - 3½ Stars

The Vietnam war gave the public a glimpse behind the scenes of the ugliness of war. With Kuwait and Iraq wars, society was media-managed as to what we were to see and not to see. There's only so much reliable information on the Internet, which is mostly biased, to form an objective opinion. Watching this film shows how easily American propaganda takes over in our media as opposed to how media allows the people of the middle east to complete reality.

I  watched this movie back in 2007 while the war in Iraq was still active on the ground. The images shown to us were exactly as our government and media wanted us to see. Direct hits on bad guys, front line pushing forward while sheltered from any reality of bombs hitting civilian targets. For me, watching documentaries that show all points of view allow me to form my own opinion of what I believe the truth to be.

We are invited into the headquarters of Al-Jazeera television to see how the news of the Iraq war is reported in the Arab nations. American television avoids the death and destruction where Al-Jazeera focuses on it and they make good arguments on it's benefits. For anyone who wants to see the Iraq war from all sides, search my site under war for the movies I've reviewed.

2004 - Control Room - Boston Society of Film Critics - Best Documentary.

Magnolia Pictures
Director: Jehane Noujaim
Producers: Rosadel Varela, Abdullah
I viewed 11/07

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Puncture (2011) R - 3½ Stars

As I began to watch this film I immediately formed a bad opinion of what I thought was to come. With lots of drugs, not great acting and a confusing mix of the characters, it looked like we were going no where at all and I lost interest. However, after watching for a while, I found myself more engaged and it became pretty interesting. Even the acting improved.

Based on a true story, there was no surprise to learn big players in the health industry are more interested in making money than treating the sick or prevention of disease. I had to list this is my political category because it really is all about the politics of major corporations, and in this case the health industry with the tightly knit circle that surrounds them.  Free trade is definitely kept out of this circle. At the end, I feel the writers intentionally leave you with a doubt as to what happened to attorney Weiss as if they seem convinced of foul play. You just might be convinced too.

Nurse Vicky Rogers (Vinessa Shaw), has an violent emergency patient which she must administer a shot to calm him down. But, in his restless stage, the needle punctures her skin and she becomes infected with AIDS. As she becomes sick, and her insurance is about to be canceled, she seeks the help of attorneys Mike Weiss (Chris Evans), and Paul Danziger (Mark Kassen). She shows them a retractable new safety needle invented by engineer Jeffrey Matthew Dancort (Marshall Bell). Dancort own a company called Safety Point where he has patented and produced this new idea that could potentially save many lives. The problem is, he's unable to sell the product to the any other hospitals besides San Antonio Memorial. This one hospital, San Antonio Memorial, will try his product but it appears the United Medical group stands between Dancort trying to sell his product as they will not allow his product on the market. Mike and Paul soon learn fighting with these big boys, headed by attorney Nathaniel Price (Brett Cullen), and their ruthless techniques, immediately shoot down any attempt they can possibly try.

Cherry Sky Films, Kassen Brothers Production, LikeMinded Pictures, Millennium Entertainment
Directors: Adam Kassen, Mark Kassen
Writers: Chris Lopata, Ela Thier, Paul Danziger
Producers: Craig Cohen, Paul Danziger, Rod De Llano,
I viewed 8/12

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rear Window (1954) PG - 4½ Stars

I can't say enough about one of Hitchcock's best!!! An all time classic that if you have'nt seen it yet, make a point to. A true classic that never gets old. Stewart and Keyy are awesome and, for me, the innocence of the era adds to the excitement of the film.

L.B. Jeffries , (James Stewart) is confined to his apartment after breaking his leg. With not much to do he takes comfort, with his binoculars, watching his neighbors through his window into the courtyard. While watching their normal daily routines and lifestyles, he develops nicknames for his neighbors. But suddenly, he can't believe what he thinks he sees. Could one of his neighbors just have murdered his wife and now trying to dispose of her body in a suitcase?

On the brink of obsession, he can't take anymore and involves his model girlfriend, Lisa, (Grace Kelly). Voyeurism at it's finest.

Awards include:

1998 - Rear Window - American Film Institute - 100 Greatest American Movies.
1997 - Rear Window - Library of Congress - U.S. National Film Registry.
1954 - Rear Window - National Board of Review - Best Actress.
1954 - Rear Window - New York Film Critics Circle - Best Actress.

Paramount Pictures
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: John Michael Hayes
Producer: Alfred Hitchcock
I viewed 6/07

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sicko (2007) PG13 - 3½ Stars

You either like Michael Moore's work or you hate it. For me, any movie that stirs me up and makes me angry and causes a reaction in me is a good thing. Michael produces directs and stars in this documentary on the health care system here in America as well as other parts of the world. When you see how much the costs we pay for prescription drugs and medical treatments here in the United States versus other parts of the world, well something isn't right.

Though Michael gets a bit dramatic towards the end of the movie, it was very sad to learn that detainees in Guantanamo have better health care then most American citizens do. Yet we as a society don't do anything to protest it but just complain.

Awards include:

2007 - Sicko - Chicago Film Critics Association - Best Documentary.
2007 - Sicko - Las Vegas Film Critics Association - Best Documentary.
2007 - Sicko - Phoenix Film Critics Association - Best Documentary.

Lions Gate Films
Director: Michael Moore
Writer: Michael Moore
Producers: Meghan O'Hara, Michael Moore
I viewed 1/08

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dan in Real Life (2007) PG13 - 3½ Stars

What fun a large family reunion like this one would be. This movie, set in the great back woods of Rhode Island, is a wittey comedy that gives you that farm fuzzy feeling of finding love.

Dan Burns, (Steve Carell), is a single father and writes an advice column for the local newspaper. His column is directed toward parents and being one himself, he can relate to how hard it is to make intelligent choices. It's been four years since his wife died and he is struggling with the needs of his fast growing and outspoken daughters. Jane, (Alison Pill), Cara (Brittany Robertson), and Lilly (Marlene Lawson).  On a family reunion to Rhode Island, he meets the woman of his dreams Marie, (Juliette Binoche), only to find out his brother Mitch (Dane Cook), has brought her to the reunion as his guest - girlfriend, Situations clash and Dan finds out from his daughters what true love really is.

Buena Vista Pictures
Director: Peter Hedges
Writers: Peter Hedges, Pierce Gardner
Producers: Brad Epstein, Jonathan Shestack
I viewed 3/08

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Age of Adaline (2015) PG-13 3 1/2 Stars

Unless it's an animated Disney or Pixer movie, it's hard for me to get into a movie that wants me to believe the impossible. This movie does just that, expecting the viewer to accept the fact Adaline can never age beyond her 29th year. Parts of the movie are narrated by Hugh Ross which sometimes go on too long. However, this simple love story, with good acting and romantic cinematography, allows you to get past the impossibility and step on board the ride.

Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively), was born 12:01 New Years Eve 1908. She lived a normal life, married and had a child named Flemming. At the age of 29, she lost her husband in a tragic accident and then was involved in a horrible car accident of her own. Because of the crash, and a weather phenomenal fluke allowing her body to never age past 29.

As Flemming ages (Ellen Burstyn), Adaline is forced to keep her age a secret by moving every decade, changing her identity and never allowing anyone to get close. While her youth has it's benefits of beauty it holds her back on living, never becoming close with friends or relationships. That is until she meets Ellis Jones, (Michiel Huisman), with his persistence and charm. As he takes her home to meet his family William Jones, (Harrison Ford), and Kathy Jones, (Kathy Baker) she'll be forced to make a bog decision.

Lakeshore Entertainment
Director: Lee Toland Krieger
Writers: James Mills Goodloe, Salvador Paskowitz
Producers: Steve Golin, David Kern, Andre Lamal, Sidney Kimmel
I viewed 6/16

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Das Boot - The Directors Cut (1981) R - 5 Stars

I've got to say this is one looooong ass movie but also one of the best submarine war epics I've ever seen and well worth the time spent watching. The acting is outstanding and it's great to hear the German dialect, with subtitles easy to read. You really get to experience what it's like being in the tight quarters of a submarine and your mission is war. Based on the true story of a World War II photographer Lothar-Guenther Buchheim, from the images he captured during the grooling days waiting for war. "Sometimes you're the prey and sometimes you're the hunter." One of those movies you have to see at least once and go for the directors cut.

Some of the actors include:
Capt.-Lt. Henrich Lehmann-Willenbrock - Der Alte - (Jürgen Prochnow)
Lt. Werner - Correspondent (Herbert Grönemeyer)
Chief Engineer Fritz Grade - Der Leitende-Der LI (Klaus Wennemann)
1st Lieutenant - Number One-1WO (Hubertus Bengsch)

Awards include:
1982 Bavarian Film Awards - Best Director - Wolfgang Petersen
1982 Bavarian Film Awards - Best Cinematography - Jost Vocano
1982 Munich Film Festival - Best Young Actor - Heinz Hoenig

Bavaria Film, Radiant Film GmbH, Süddeutscher Rundfunk (SDR)
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Writers: Wolfgang Petersen, Dean Riesner
Producers: Edward R. Pressman, Günter Rohrbach, John W. Hyde
I viewed 4/14

Friday, June 10, 2016

9/11 Explosive Evidence Experts Speak Out (2012) NR - 4 Stars

I, for one, will never be convinced that 9/11 unfolded the way the world has been lead to believe. Never having been one of the herd that just conforms to the crowd, I question just about everything. Sometimes to the point of obsessiveness; how did my good friend put it "I can complicate a free lunch," that can sometimes be true. However, it frustrates me when people are so narrow minded they do not want to even consider the slightest possibility of something different than what we are told.

How do you explain the towers falling in so preciously in just 9 seconds and Tower 7 not even hit by a plane imploding in just 12. Controlled demolition explosives is the only explanation but when you look at the 9/11 commission reports, they never even address the possibility or test for explosives. There's eye witness reports from reliable sources firemen eye witnessing of hearing explosions but NSID does not even address the possiblity. The film has counselors at the end who try to explain why society doesn't want to hear or believe our government could cover something like this up.

I'm sorry but war is good business. It keeps a lot of people in jobs and holds power over the country when they want you live in fear. I believe we created the hatred of ISIS and Al Qaeda and all the people who want to blow us up because we stuck our noses where they didn't belong starting with Iraq. At least keep an open mind and listen to what qualified experts with PHD's say. Steal just doesn't melt unless you plan it to.

Janson Media, AE911 TRUTH
Director: Richard Gage
Writer: Richard Gage
Producer: Francis Battaglia, Charles Ewing Smith, Richard Gage
I viewed 5/16

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

9/11 The Falling Man (2006) NR 4 Stars

Very good documentary, tastefully done, about the worst day in modern U.S. history and in particular, one of it's most controversial photos published after the attacks on 9/11/2001.

The media quickly filled the newsstands with images of devastation and destruction of the terror attacks. It also filmed and published controversy images of people seemingly jumping to their deaths. One photo in a series taken by photographer Richard Drew, who just happened to be there, was labeled "The Falling Man." With it's powerful imagery, Drew captured the quiet and calmness of one man alone who felt there was no other choice. Many images were taken that day of people jumping/falling to their deaths but this one stood out symbolically. But after it's appearance in the next mornings news, it was "quickly airbrushed it out of history" due to it's gut wrench emotion no one wanted to continue to feel. The photograph was stifled and never seen again about being published on 9/12.

I remember viewing that photo and it was very hard to look at yet I couldn't look away. The images were quickly replaced with images of the heroic side of America coming together in the face of disaster. To prove you couldn't keep America down. But it's hard to imagine looking out of a window so high in the sky and thinking, yep I'm jumping. One can only imagine those horrific last moments of these victims lives.

The documentary follows one journalist who is committed to finding out the identity of this one brave man who seems so calm looking falling to his death. Like many others that day, who felt the better choice was to jump rather than burn, one can only imagine being faced with their options. But while trying to identify the man, one family's religious beliefs are shattered when the journalist tells them he believes it's their beloved father, brother and husband. They are unable to rest knowing his soul would go to hell by taking his own life. When it is finally revealed it is not their beloved, they can finally accept his death in peace. Even though the film finds a pretty good idea of who this man is, the film establishes the strength of the photo speaks for itself of the terror of that horrific day.

Like the tomb of the unknown soldier in, the picture represents everyone who lost their lives that day especially those who had felt they had no other option but to jump.

2007 New York Festival - Best Documentary - Henry Singer

Darlow Smithson Productions
Director: Harry Singer
Writers: Tom Junod
Producers: Harry Singer, Sue Bourne, John Smithson
I viewed 5/16

Friday, June 3, 2016

Red State (2011) R - 3 Stars

Here's a freaky one for you starring John Goodman. A religious group of gay haters congregants three young boys who were looking for sex on the Internet. This grandpa preacher thinks he can save their souls by killing them. For me it was sort of a small glimpse into religious Wacko fanaticism as you watch these believers defend their holy grounds along with their preacher and an arsenal of weapons. The ending is not what I had expected. Not great, but worth a watch if you have Netflix.

Three young teenagers Travis (Michael Angarano), Billy-Ray (Nicholas Braun), and Jarod (Kyle Gallner) make an online date with an older woman (Deborah Aquila) who after some lewd conversation agrees to take on all three boys. The excited boys show up at the woman's trailer and offered beer to drink to set the mood. The beer is tainted knocking all three teens out. When they awaken, the boys are tied up together in the hands of Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks), who accuses the boys of homosexuality since they were willing to have sex together with this woman. Pastor Cooper and his daughter Sara (Melissa Leo), as well as the entire congregation are convinced the boys need to die to rid the Satan within them. Government agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman), has to treat these religious fanatics have now become terrorists and must be eliminated.

2012 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards - Best Supporting Actor Michael Parks
2011 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival - Best Actor - Michael Parks
2011 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival - Best Film - Kevin Smith

Harvey Boys, SModcast Pictures
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Producer: Jonathan Gordon
I viewed 8/15

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Paul (2011) R - 3½ Stars

I have to say this is a movie I would probably not have rented on my own. My friend owns a copy and told me to put on my happy face, sip a little wine and keep an open mind while I watched it. I have to say Paul is an unexpectedly funny almost "cute" movie, though watching the unrated version, I doubt "cute" is the proper word. This is not a movie for children as it does contain many adult situations and strong language but if you need a good laugh it can probably find one of your funny bones.

Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen), an alien from another world, has been on planet earth now for years working solely with our government answering and sharing information. Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg), and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost), two English Sci-Fi geeks and comic book fanatics, are on their way to the Comic-Con convention in San Diego, California. They have rented an RV and vow to have their greatest adventure by visiting every site of major extraterrestrial importance along the way. While headed to New Mexico deserts of Area 51, they stop to help a car that raced passed them and crashed off the side of the road. Paul emerges from the accident he tells Graeme and Cliff the Feds will be looking for him and they must help him escape and get back to his spaceship so he can return home.

Awards: 2011 Best Comedy Award - National Movie Awards, UK

Universal Pictures
Director: Greg Mottola
Writers: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Producers: Eric Fellner, Nira Park, Tim Bevan
I viewed 10/15

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Dog Problem (2007) R - 2½ Stars

The movie seems to have many mixed reviews online with some viewers getting more out of it than I did. Labeled a comedy, it's hard for me to call it that because other than one time I don't remember smiling often. I couldn't even find a credit given for Don Cheadle's role on the rental box or in the final rolling credits. Maybe I just got a bad copy.

I feel the director is trying to bring across the similarities between this odd mix of dysfunctional people stumbling through their lives with people that surround all of our lives daily but for me, I couldn't connect with anyone. The story is of a man who under the advise of his therapist, buys a dog hoping to give his life some purpose.

Solo Harrington (Giovanni Ribisi), is a depressed novelist who can't get in touch with his creative side. Even though he's been successful in the past, he's spent all his lives savings on women, drugs and his expensive psychiatrist, Dr. Nourmand (Don Cheadle). When nothing seems to help Solo break out of his mood, the doctor suggest he get a dog to help with his lonesomeness. Casper (Scott Caan), Solo's friend, introduces him to a rich girl Jules (Mena Suvari), who Solo tries to convince to take the dog when he suddenly notices he's becoming attached. But with Benny (Kevin Corrigan) is breathing down his back to pay his loan, and the dog gets bit at a dog park needing expensive medical treatment, he meets a feisty stripper named Lola (Lynn Collins), who he tries to convince to take the dog and pay his veterinarian bill. Now he has to sort out his feelings of letting go of the dog?

A Thousand Words
Director: Scott Caan
Writer: Scott Caan
Producers: Jonah Smith, Palmer West
I viewed 3/13

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Return to Paradise (1998) R - 3½ Stars

If your friend was in trouble in another country and the only way you could save their life was by going to jail yourself, would you? This movie asks that question of how far are you willing to go to help a friend. Good plot, makes you feel the pressure of those tiny little voices in the back of your mind that tell you to walk away.

John 'Sheriff' Volgecherev (Vince Vaughn), Lewis McBride (Joaquin Phoenix) and Tony Croft (David Conrad) are on a dream vacation of a lifetime. In the exotic country of Malaysia, the three spend days drinking rum, smoking hashish and having their way with the local women. Eventually it's time to return to their normal lives. John and Tony leave to go back to their corporate lives in New York while Lewis stays behind to devote his life, joining a team to rescue orangutans. As soon as John and Tony leave, Lewis gets arrested with a huge leftover stash of hash, charged with drug trafficking, punishable by death. Lawyer Beth Eastern (Anne Heche) travels to New York in search of John and Tony to convince them to return to Malaysia saving their friend from certain death. If they do return they will definitely spend time in a third world jail.

Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Propaganda Films, Tetragram
Director: Joseph Ruben
Writers: Pierre Joliver, Olivier Schatzky
Producers: David Arnold, Alain Bernheim, Lashan Browning, Steve Golin, Ezra Swerdlow
I viewed 5/15

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I Love Your Work (2004) R - 2½ Stars

I didn't care too much for this movie. I felt it is pretty twisted and the story line is all over the place making you totally clueless as to what the movie is trying to get across. Maybe it's just me but then the movie becomes nothing but predictable.

Gray Evans (Giovanni Ribisi) is a celebrity at the young age of 20 having a slow meltdown. He's married to a beautiful successful actress Mia Lang (Franka Potente). Gary drinks up the attention of the spot light making most think his life should be perfect but Gary's obsessed. He's obsessed thinking he has a fan that is stalking him.

While he is at a video store, he meets a guy named John (Joshua Jackson). John tells Gary he's one of his biggest fans. This makes Gary extremely nervous that his belief is true and that it is John who is the one that has been stalking him. Gary decides to turn the tables and starts to follow John to keep tabs on him. When he returns to the video store he meets John's wife, Jane (Marisa Coughlan). The two seem to have a perfect caring marriage so Gary feels sort of silly thinking John could have been involved in actually stalking him. But now that he's met Jane, he's driven to stalk her as he'd like to be in her life. Confused? Yeah me too.

Director: Adam Goldberg
Writers: Adam Butchart, Adam Goldberg, Adrian Butchart
Producers: Adrienne Gruben, Terry Spazek, David Hillary
I viewed 5/15