Saturday, October 22, 2011

The International - 6 stars out of 10

The International - 6 stars out of 10

"The International" has a bit of intrigue but remains on par with your average action movie.  The shoot-out scene is one of the most intense action scenes from any movie and is really what makes this film worth watching.  Clive Owen is hard core and Naomi Watts again proves her talent as an actress.  It's worth seeing but don't expect it to rock your world.

Brooklyn's Finest - 3 stars out of 10

Brooklyn's Finest - 3 stars out of 10

In the world of hit or miss, "Brooklyn's Finest" is a miss.  It set out to expose the darker side of the police force but only managed to create 2 hours of gruesomely realistic blood-baths.  Even with its long list of popular actors like Cheadle, Gere, Snipes, and Hawke, poor writing prevents the audience from empathizing with the characters.  Appearances from Lili Taylor and Ellen Barkin are less than flattering as they show their age and help us to understand why it's been over a decade since either had a leading role.  Brooklyn's finest does not have much to offer and I can say with certainty that I will not be seeing this movie again.

Silent Movie - 8 stars out of 10

Silent Movie - 8 stars out of 10

Classic Mel Brooks humor (like "The Queen's Rifles") meets silent film slapstick for a clean, fun, unpredictable experience. It really does require 100% attention so be prepared. This silent movie about 3 men wanting to make a silent movie is effectively hilarious without dialogue (merely music and sound effects). It's reliance on visual gags is great as Brooks, Feldman, DeLuise, and Peters expertly overact to get the story across. Add in cameos from a few of Hollywood's biggest stars and it will be on your list of classic Brooks comedies.

The Pixar Story - 8 stars out of 10

The Pixar Story - 8 stars out of 10

"The Pixar Story" is a fascinating look into some of the most popular films of our generation and how this fascinating technology received its start.  It is easy to see any company out there solely as a business but the Pixar studio is truly a blank canvas of creativity.  Featuring key members of the company such as John Lasseter and the few directors who have been entrusted with the Pixar brand, it is interesting to see how the complexity of the films developed alongside the development of the company.  It's also very interesting to see  how people like Steve Jobs and George Lucas factored into the life of John Lasseter and the success of Pixar.  Disney is one of the most "magical" brands out there and it is always excting to see behind the scenes of this magic.  And let's face it - outside of the story of this company coming to fruition, I'm always looking for an excuse to relive some of my favorite moments from Disney films.  This documentary will appeal to any person who has an interest in animation, film production, business, or an appreciation for this revolutionary wave of Disney/Pixar films.

The Room (2003) - 1 star out of 10

The Room (2003) - 1 star out of 10

"The Room" is notorious for possessing some of the worst acting in history, but no warning can prepare you for this 6-million dollar mistake.  Simply put, lead actor Tommy Wiseau (who also happens to be the writer, director, and producer) displays the worst acting in the history of film.  While I spent most of my time trying to figure out where his accent (in its emotionless, awkwardly timed glory) was derived from, the remainder of my time was spent being offended by his blubbery body and wrinkly nude buttox dominating the screen.  It would be bad enough if he gave the only terrible performance, but the entire cast was just awful.  Carolyn Minnott delivers every line with the same inflection, whether it is a line about finding financial stability with a person or her infamously sudden line about having breast cancer (which is then ignored for the remainder of the film).  I still can't figure out what the deal was with with Denny (played by Phillip Haldiman) as he jumps into bed with the two main characters and seems to be a teenager and an adult at the same time, and the rest of the actors seem like 3rd graders on stage for the first time.  The making the film has several entertaining stories, such as the majority of the film's dialogue being dubbed over (and failing to match the timing or emotions on screen) because the script contained so many long-winded, nonsensical monologues that needed to be removed.  A cast member claimed that the script contained "stuff that was just unsayable. I know it's hard to imagine there was stuff that was worse. But there was."  My favorite is the story of an actor (Kyle Vogt) who quit halfway through filming and the decision to have another actor deliver the remainder of the lines without his character ever being introduced into the plot or referred to by name.  It is sad that this is meant to be a serious movie, as the short-distance games of catch with a football (sometimes in tuxes), sex scenes that last way too long, and reaction to suicide become absolutely ludicrous and humorous.

This clip will tell you everything that you need to know about the film:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ4KzClb1C4
View this movie at your own risk!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Point of No Return (The Assassin) - 5 stars out of 10

Point of No Return (The Assassin) - 5 stars out of 10

"Point of No Return" is a worthy remake of its French predecessor, "La Femme Nikita."  Though I did not like Bridget Fonda as much as the original Nikita, her character grew on me and won me over by the midpoint of the film.  This is just a well-written story so I did not mean watching two versions of the same story.  Although the acting of each lead actor is quality, the highlight of the film is Harvey Keitel in the small role of The Cleaner.  His initially unintimidating presence (let's face it, he just looks like a geek) makes him into one of the scariest characters in film with his calm, desensitized way of dealing with his situations.  Bancroft adds a nice performance and overall, it's a great action drama.  Anyone who is an advocate for the empowerment of women should definitely watch this kick-butt film.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Crazies (2010) - 8 stars out of 10

The Crazies (2010) - 8 stars out of 10

"The Crazies" delivers as both a horror film and a thriller. Although its title suggests that it might be a B-list horror film, you will quickly realize that its complex plot develops in a mysterious manner that keeps you on edge from start to finish.  The unique aspect of this film is that it throws us directly into the plot so that we progressively discover the mystery as if we are in the film.  Rather than introducing the characters or explaining anything, the film begins at a community event when the first "Crazy" appears, putting us in the same confused state as the members of the community and making it seem that we are making the journey with the main characters.  Its use of common settings will definitely have you thinking twice the next time that you are at a rest stop, community ball field, or especially a car wash.  It does not feature a mega-star but was very well cast with Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, and Joe Anderson (who delivered a chilling performance). The realistic violence (particularly the pitchfork) and horrific imagery is too much for someone who does not like horror movies, but any critic will find that this movie relies on storyline rather than cheap gory visuals.

Sneakers - 8 stars out of 10

Sneakers - 8 stars out of 10

Despite the title's deception that this movie is about a pair of shoes, I was pleased to find a decent espionage thriller.  The title may not suggest a very interesting movie, but this excellent cast speaks for itself.  Redford, Poitier, and Kingsley are fantastic as always.  I particularly enjoyed Stephen Tobolowsky's character and the cameo by James Earl Jones.  Comedy is mixed with dramatic intensity, resulting in a hilarious ending that managed to avoid cheesiness.  It may not be Ocean's Eleven, but it was very entertaining.

A Single Man - 6 stars out of 10

A Single Man - 6 stars out of 10

"A Single Man" was exactly what I expected.  Unfortunately.  While Colin Firth's performance is admirable, this story did not appeal to me.  This movie was just an extreme downer with few signs of light.  It seems that the intention of the suicide scene was to bring comic relief, but it did not quite make sense to me due to the serious nature of every other minute of this film.  Julianne Moore deserves credit for delivering an emotional role unlike any that I have seen her in - I did not even realize that it was her for a while.  The other plus that I found in A Single Man was its stream-of-consciousness style.  I'd love to see another attempt at a stream-of-consciousness film with a character's flashbacks, ideas, and thoughts appearing throughout - let's just try it with a more appealing subject matter next time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bad Boys (1983) - 5 stars out of 10

Bad Boys (1983) - 5 stars out of 10

Although no prison movie can match the realism of Shawshank, "Bad Boys" offers a unique portrayal of  prison life by displaying it through the lens of juveniles.  A bit of this movie is over the top, particularly the opening events of the film.  I never grew up in inner-city Chicago but it just seems a bit too much, although the car accident is the driving force of the second half of the movie.  Sean Penn gives a great young performance at the age of 23 and for the most part, I could buy that the characters were teenagers.  Although his acting cannot match "I Am Sam" and "Mystic River," the final shot of him shows the potential that he would achieve over the course of his carrer.  The highlight of the movie for me is Eric Gurry as Horowitz.  The whole prison society typified the drama between high school boys, only in a very extreme way, and it was nice to see the nerd stand up for himself and win over the bullies for once.  The first half of the movie tends to be slow  but it is worth it for the fight sequences.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt - 2 stars out of 10

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt - 2 stars out of 10

"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" is over dramatic and overacted.  They put Michael Douglas on the cover to lure you in but in reality, his role is no more than a cameo and you are left with 2 mediocre actors portraying a well thought-out story that lacks depth.  The best part of this film was seeing that the cool guy from the old Mountain Dew commercials is still around.  Everything just happens too fast without proper character development or plot development.  I cannot think of a reason to rewatch this film so you might want to think twice before devoting 100+ minutes to this display of mediocrity.

Monday, October 17, 2011

All the President's Men - 9 stars out of 10

All the President's Men - 9 stars out of 10

"Get out your notebook.  There's more."  All the President's Men is the true story of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper reporters who uncovered a lot of the mystery behind the Watergate Scandal.  Redford and Hoffman put forth an amazing performance in this recreation of the genius reporting that extracted important information from unwilling sources.  The story is sometimes slow-moving but fascinating from start to finish.  The film concludes with a fantastically artistic ending, including the shot of Redford and Hoffman typing in the background with the tv in the foreground, and allowing the typewritten text to tell the ending to this story.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Marley & Me - 8 stars out of 10

Marley & Me - 8 stars out of 10

"Marley & Me" is the story of a growing family's struggles and successes as  told through their "worst dog in the world," Marley.  He is directly and indirectly a part of each chapter in this family's life and serves as an unexpected centerpiece of this entire family's world.  Although the mere mention of this film typically elicits a response of "THAT MOVIE IS SO SAD!!!!!", the majority of the story is heartwarming and happy.  Marley is so cute, even in his most destructive moments, that you will definitely want a lab by the end of the film.  At first sight,  I wanted to write this film off completely because of Owen Wilson, but he is actually quite good as John Grogan.  He has wonderful chemistry with Jennifer Aniston and between the number of children and animals used in the film, the entire cast operates smoothly as a cohesive unit.  Add in the fact that this is a true story and you have a special piece of history preserved to help us appreciate the love of a pet in our lives.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - 9 stars out of 10

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs - 9 stars out of 10

I have never read the children's book so I cannot attest to this movie's accuracy to the original, but I can say that it was incredibly entertaining. Regardless of age, subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) visual gags like the remote control tv and ratbirds will keep you laughing throughout the entire film. The highlight of the movie for me was Mr. T as the cop and I have to compliment the production staff for perfectly voice casting this film. Cloudy...Meatballs provides a unique plot, comedy for all ages, and even a heart-warming, tear-jerking monologue at the end (partial thanks to the musical score of Mark Mothersbaugh). Although it is impossible to match Pixar, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is the next best thing