Friday, January 30, 2009

MANHATTAN (1979)


Directed By: Woody Allen
Written By: Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman
Cinematography By: Gordon Willis
Editor: Susan E. Morse

Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Wallace Shawn, Mariel Hemmingway, Michael Murphy, Meryl Streep, Michael O’Donoghue


Thursday, January 29, 2009

VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (2008)

Written & Directed By: Woody Allen Cinematography By: Javier Aguirresarobe Editor: Alisa Lepselter Cast: Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johnasen, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Dunn, Zak Orth, Chris Messina

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2008 BEST & WORST MOVIES

THE BEST


19. Step Brothers

18. Billy The Kid

17. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

16. Wall-E

15. The Wrestler

14. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

13. The Bank Job

12. Frost/Nixon

11. Hellboy 2


10. Towelhead


9. The Promotion


8. Iron Man


7. The Signal


6. In Bruges


5. SlumDog Millionaire


4. The Dark Knight


3. 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days....


2. Let The Right One In


1. [Rec]






Honorable Mention

Soul Men....

Vicky Christina Barcelona....

Kung Fu Panda....

Role Models....

Hatchet....

Inside....

Elite Squad....

Gran Torino....

Murder Party....

Rachel Getting Married....

Wanted
The most fun with mindless entertainment you can have in a theater

Gonzo: The Life & Times Of Hunter S. Thompson....

The Foot Fist Way

The Express

Hallem Foe

Milk

More for the performances then the actual film....


WORST

10. Lakeview Terrace

9. Midnight Meat Train

8. THE INCREDIBLE HULK

7. What Happens In Vegas

6. Get Smart

5. Eagle-Eye

4. HELL-RIDE

3. Saw V

2. Max Payne

1. Lost Boys 2: The Tribe

I Waited this long for this?!? they shouldn't have even bothered.


Acclaimed Films.... That i didn't see

Che

Happy go Lucky

Doubt

Frozen River

Ballast

Synedoche, New York.

W.

The Changeling

The Reader

Religilous

Monday, January 19, 2009

2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT (1984)

Cast: Roy Scheider, Helen Mirren, John Lithgow, Bob Balaban, Kier Dullea, Douglas Rain, Elya baskin, Mary Jo Deschanel

Written & Directed & Cinematography By: Peter Hyams
Based On Characters & The Novel By: Arthur C. Clarke
Edited By: Mia Goldman & James Mitchell
Set Decoration By: Rick Simpson


This is a strange hybrid as a sequel it seems to try to take the mind blowing philosophy and art of the first film and try to make a more convenient audience friendly sequel to try and make the story fit more into a neat package. This seems to be more about peace between the two superpowers that was raging during the mid 80’s but it is set in 2010 so it instantly dates the film.

The film seems more like a spiritual movie about finding peace in the afterlife. As a science fiction film it works if it was just a random story this movie would be a lot more interesting but as a sequel all you can do is compare it to the original. It’s pretty compelling considering when it was made sure the special effects are dated but it holds your interest. The film has plenty of heart stopping thrills and amazing special effects shots. And who isn’t a fan of the return of HAL-9000
The coldest most innocent and misunderstood villain of all time.

Making a sequel to 2001 was a pretty brave and bold task and I can honestly say peter hyams did not fail or embarrass himself this is when he was still able to make good coherent movies (The less said about The Muskateer and A Sound Of Thunder the better)

Dr. Heywood Floyd helms a joint U.S.-Soviet mission of scientists trying to rendezvous with the abandoned Discovery spacecraft, reactivate the homicidal computer HAL-9000 and finally learn the truth. About what happened aboard the ship and what happened to the crew

The film also gets points for the interesting eclectic cast that it had that weren’t quite stars at the time but eventually went onto become popular names in the acting world. Roy schieder adds another impressive performance to his resume This film jaws, the French connection he appeared in so many classics yet never seem to get the respect of his peers. It also has elya Baskin one of the actors I like to see whenever he gets parts I still remember him from Moscow on the Hudson he has a on screen innocence usually in his films that make you believe he is a caring and decent nice guy. Then you feel sorry when his characters are usually betrayed or killed. The film also uses interesting cameos the original novel’s author Arthur C. Clarke as a man sitting on a bench feeding the pigeons on earth and Candice Bergen as the voice of SAL-9000 even though it is not credited to her but a pseudonym.

This is definitely a film you should check out and rent but only if you can be open minded but don’t expect the magic of 2001: A Space Odessey


GRADE: C+

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2008 MOST DISAPPOINTING MOVIES

Now don't get me wrong these are not the worst movies of the year just movies i really looked forward to and the result was meh. not totally horrible but far from what i expected. I didn't hate any of these and would still give them a repectable grade.

Pineapple Express
How did the writers of superbad (last years #1 movie on my list) come upwith this film i liked the original ending showed on the dvd. I just like to think since this was not a original idea by them it is not totally there fault


The Wackness
It would be too easy to say it lived up to its title. while it had moments of real interest and heart ben kingsley's overcting stepped all over it.


American Teen
Not really worth all the hype it was o.k. but not great or anything i hadn't seen before in numerous other documentries on the same subjects.


Man On Wire
Critics and audiences loved it. i found it a chore to sit through and i really never got into it in fact i fell asleep on it twice.


Paranoid Park
I like gus van sant films not the biggest fan of his experimental films but this film just felt like it had no purpose. it may hae meant something to him when he was filming it but sitting in the audience i felt left out and cold.


Smart People
I thought this was finally going to be a comedy where smart characters could have normal non tortured lives but most of it was look at the misery of intellectuals while if you don't think you lead pretty good life. prejudice against the smart.


ChokeRead the book you'll thank me later. it's much better


Cloverfield
An american godzilla movie with a bad love story thrown in that makes no sense and unbelievable characters who are annoying and you can't wait to die


Burn After Reading
Another Much Ado About nothing movie, that has quirky characters and alot of major confusion. with stupid characters with way too much confidence and buffonish blowhard authority figures


Redbelt
I get the honor code and the respect but it doesn't make a interesting movie and you can see the double crosses coming. the main character can be pure but not stupid


Zack & Miri Make A Porno
Jokes just seemed to lay there and it seemed crude just to be crude not for story purposes


Be Kind Rewind
A nice experiment needed to be a little more coherent


Blindness
Too much rhetoric, too much sex. too many martyr's


Revolutionary RoadMaybe it's just i misunderstood this film but i felt this was more of a woman's film because as a man i felt no sympathy for kate winslet's character and i usually love her. it'slike a extended episode of mad men without the advertsing.

Friday, January 16, 2009

MAX PAYNE (2008)

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Donal Logue, Beau Bridges, Chris O’Donnell, Olga Kurylenko, Kate Burton, Amaury Nolasco, Nelly Furtado, Jamie Hector

Directed By: John Moore
Written By: Beau Thorne
Based On The Videogame By: Sam Lake
Cinematography By: Jonathan Sela
Edited By: Dan Zimmerman

Now even though this film is made competently no bad production values no boom mikes in any shots this film is bad and worse then that it is insulting to the audience now while this film might be awesome to a 11 year old this film is just plain stupid to a thinking person. First of all the film is set in New York yet it looks nothing like New York more like Chicago for some reason there is always bad weather in most scenes either rain or snow that never seems to stick. Every building in this movie looks dirty dingy or rundown even the parties. There are plenty of well known actors in this who are here for nothing more then cameos or they make no sense why they would take such small roles obviously the producers wanted to give this film more credence then they knew it deserved.

The visuals while good in this film are distracting and are used so much that it is obvious they are here to show off while this film is based on a videogame there is no need for this film to have so much of a ridiculous fantasy feel. While there are plenty of action scenes to pad out the running time and to distract you from the ridiculous plot. It is still not enough to wash this film completely from my brain.

Mark Wahlberg is a man who knows when and when not to use his talent I believe he saves up all his creativity for roles like the departed and “I Heart Huckabees” and when it comes to movies like this “Rock Star” and “Invincible” he realizes the type of quality film he is in so he just takes the check and runs. While this film and performance would be noteworthy in the 80’s now it just seems like a really big ridiculous cliché the cop determined to find his wife’s murderer at all cost. The take no nonsense cop. Then you throw in Mila Kunis who looks all of 12 as a Russian asassian trying to find her sister’s killer she’s very non-threatening and seems like a kid trying to impress the adults at the table. Chris “Ludacris” Bridges wasn’t born to be a natural performer and embarasses himself often. Olga Kurylenko Is also in this playing her usual role she is beautiful but so far the only real respectable role she has had is in “Quantam Of Solace” here yet again she plays a scantily clad druggie temptress who barely wears any clothing but doesn’t show any nudity. Which would have at lest made these films she was in noteworthy she plays in these type of movies so much this could have been “Hitman 2” the films are so similar and bad they are close to interchangeable. Which makes sense since they are both based on videogames. This film also strangely has two chart topping musicians in roles one in a bit one supporting.

The plot of this film building a set of super soldiers that can become mutated thanks to a drug yes that is part of the plot it is that stupid. But the really bad part is that it treats this revalation and trying to find out the truth like this was the film “Chinatown” is what is really insulting

It tries so hard to ape Successful films like "300" and "Sin City" in terms of style that it fails miserably because those were made by skilled sirectors and based on graphic novels it seems rare that there is s sucesful film based on a videogame in terms of quailty.

GRADE: F

Saturday, January 10, 2009

CHOKE (2008)

Directed By: Clark Gregg
Written By: Clark Gregg
Based On The Original Novel By: Chuck Palahniuk
Cinematography By: Tim Orr
Editor: Joe Klotz

Cast: Sam Rockwell, Bijou Phillips, Anjelica Huston, Kelly McDonald, Paz De La Huerta, Clark Gregg, Joel Grey, Heather Burns, Brad William Henke, Gillian Jacobs, Matt Malloy

This film may be a revelation as a sex comedy to people who haven’t read the book but if you hae it is rather tame and almost lifeless. The excitement and outrageous fun that there was in the novel has been changed and muted. There seems to be no passion in this film. Things just seem to happen and stand there. it’s not horrible but is very disappointing.

This is probably one of the few times that I have actually read the source novel before seeing the film. This is another case of trust me reading the novel is a lot more exciting and interesting then watching the movie. The book is even more vivid. That maybe because when reading it you are picturing in your own mind the story and pictures on your own so that pretty much when and if it. The book is made into a film probably will never equal what you had in your own mind. It’s the same way with songs and music videos. The more talented directors can come up with visuals that are so good that they make you forget your own vision and like what they present more. This is not one of those times.

It’s not all bad there are some entertaining well played scenes but like the slacker protagonist. The film seems to just lay there and let things pass it by it lacks ambition.

Now I love Sam Rockwell but I feel he was miscast in the role I more envisioned Billy Crudup (Almost Famous) from the description in the book. I know maybe it was more subtle for women who were strangers to let there guard down around a normal looking guy which made it easier fr him to seduce but for the audiences sake it might have been more believable with a better looking leading man.

The actors all give it a try but there are truly no standouts they all do a adequate job but all seem rather more interested in just collecting there pay which is disappointing again because with a cast that has Sam Rockwell and Kelly McDonald as the leads I guess I expected more.

The way director Clark Gregg treats the material is with no flair like he was a hack hired by the studio to helm this movie maybe it’s his history as a actor that leads him to believe that character and dialogue are the most important aspect of this film so setting up confrontations is what is more important to him and that is fine but as evidenced in “Fight Club” particularly in the writing of Chuck Palahniuk is smart, cynical, witty and profound. Is what is missing here he also at most is visual so this film doesn’t feel whole it’s got the language but lacks the visuals.

Speaking of the visuals here they seem washed out and dull. It’s not riveting as the subject matter that they present would have you believe.

The film feels like the work of a director who wants to get noticed so he decided to use a book with sensationalistic material to dress it up and show how he can make it tame and accessable for a mass audience the only problem is that there seems to be no effort it’s one thing to be low key and not want to use too much extreme camera work but there is also a thing called uninspired now as a actor the director Clark Gregg should know better when even if you are not the biggest fan of the material or don’t understand it you should still give it your all.

If your just looking to be entertained this could be a shock to your system. I would describe the plot but it is so wild and goes to many places that it is better if you watch it and discover it for yourself.

It comes off as a passionless exercise I would definitely say wait for cable

GRADE: C

DEATH RACE (2008)

Written & Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson
Based on a original story by lb Melchior & Original Screenplay By Charles Griffith & Robert Thom
Cinematography By: Scott Kevan
Editor: Niven Howie


Cast: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Tyrese Gibson, Jacob Vargas, Natalie Martinez, Ian McShane, Frederick Koehler

Each year we are given Jason Statham in at least 2 new action films sometimes he makes up for the lackluster ones with a good movie like the bank job but then to make the money and please the action fans we get him starring in movies like this. I like to think of Jason Statham as the British Bruce Willis and about every three films that he appears in he makes a good one (Crank, The Transporter) the others run from decent (This) to downright horrible (Dungeon Siege)

This film while really being loosely based on the original film death race 2000 doesn’t embarrass itself completely. It has a good cast and good action sequences. It reminds me more of the running man with the falsely imprisoned man the satire of future audiences being entertained by prisoners killing each other in competitions and it being mostly about money and interestingly enough a sexy Spanish female sidekick. Both films starring foreigners. From this and Paul W.S. Anderson’s career pretty much after his original films soldier and event horizon didn’t exactly light up the box office it seems now that he prefers to either make his mark in on-going film series Aliens Vs. Predator or film movies that have been well established as videogames or now remaking movies that he uses heavy influences from another. Now having said that, He isn’t a hack but a decent commercial director.

This film is good popcorn entertainment never boring but you can tell where it is going every minute. It is loud and action filled. It’s rude and crude with nothing really original to say. It has it’s decadent indulgences like in the middle of the race a big bulldozer of a truck that takes out half the competition that has been presented as such a huge obstacle is taken out so fast you wonder if it was really needed in the first place. If your just looking for something entertaining without thinking too much this is the film. It’s very violent but with enough eye candy to smooth that over. Even with it’s dank surroundings.

The Film takes place in the future where corporations run the penal colonies since the unemployment rate is at a all time high. Which causes crime to soar and prison overcrowding. The prisons now run death races on pay per view to raise revenue and take out the prison population. So when reigning champion Frankenstein is killed there is a replacement needed and it just so happens a new prisoner is recruited to replace him as a former race driver on the outside. He is there after being falsely accused of killing his wife and promised freedom if he wins death race. he just has to survive especially against Frankenstein rival machine gun joe and a sadistic warden. Interesting how it almost ties into the current situation the world is finding itself in.

Joan Allen is obviously slumming but unfortunately in Hollywood as a actress gets older the harder it is to find worthwhile roles so at least if your name isn’t Meryl Streep, Glenn close or Susan Sarandon. Ms. Allen relishes in her role and sinks her teeth in as the main villain. Which at least brings the movie up another level towards respectability. i must give mention to Natalie Martinez who is just so fine and who I look forward to seeing in better roles that at least really give her a part to play but at least here she is a nice part of the eye candy.

This is a good buy when it is on the 14.95 counter but together then that a satisfying rental

GRADE: C+

Saturday, January 3, 2009

FUNNY GAMES (2008) (Remake)

Written & Directed By: Michael Heneke
Cinematography By: Darius khondji
Editor: Monika Willi
Production Design: Kevin Thompson
Art Direction: Hinju Kim

Cast: Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, Devon Gearheart, Siobhan Fallon, Boyd Gaines

Not as good as the original of course I think the real weakness of the film is not only going back and repeating something that was never wrong to begin with just to expose it to a massive audience that might have not seen the film the first time just because it was in a foreign language

It doesn’t show growth but hey rockstars have to play there classic hits once in awhile even with new band members. If they are willing to pay you to do it why not I think one other weakness this film has is that it is opened up more then the original more characters who are minor but it opens it up which in the beginning was scarier and more intense because it was more intimate.

It’s not a shot for shot remake but is similar enough. Maybe the film doesn’t effect me because I already saw the original and know what’s going to happen where as when I saw the original it was a shock and kept me on the edge of my seat watching this is like watching a imitation eve though it is by the same director. Maybe it is also because where as there were no stars in the original so anything could happen and I felt realistic seeing stars in this I know it’s just fake and doesn’t penetrate any of my emotions like it seems to be directed to.. By bringing well known actors into the film it also gives them nothing to do but whimper in pain for two hours there is no great characters to play or great lines unless you have the villains role in this film. I also noticed that in the original the female star was in her underwear for a scene then gets clothed here Naomi watts spends most of the movie in her underwear sure it’s great to look at but I guess it was meant to tap into American horror films as usually the females run around naked and in there underwear as they are stalked and killed rarely do they survive. In fact there is no real violence shown only the aftermath the only time there is violence it happens to one of the villains.

The main villain also doesn’t speak to the audience as much as he did in the original maybe it was deemed annoying. And the remote scene which seemed daring in the original seems like a gimmick here.

Here in making it bigger it is marketed as a thriller but shot like a art film with attention to detail and colors but with no real shown violence that the audience is waiting for. It also plays with the conventions of films such as foreshadowing and making an excuse for the violent behavior, breaking the fourth wall and the illusion that in the end everything will turn out fine. The false hope that it can all turn around because that’s what happens in film they wouldn’t be that messed up. It plays with the rules that you have come to expect and then just when you think it will follow narratives you have seen it switches it up on you. The pacing also seems off that it makes the film almost seem boring.

Some could look at it as satire. It is obviously a message movie because for all that happens in the film it makes you realize your own bloodlust and includes you as a co-conspirator in all that happens because you are sitting there watching for entertainment.

Spoiler

Like the scene where Anna is then taken to the boat where she attempts to cut herself loose with the knife shown earlier in the film, only to have it taken from her as a way to mock the standard Hollywood foreshadowing. She is then dumped overboard and drowns as the two boys discuss school fiction and state the message of the film quite clearly by stating (in reference to a novel they read) "the family was real, the hero was in fiction", demonstrating that violence is real and what occurs for entertainment happens in reality, however rising above the odds and becoming a hero only happens in fiction.

And as a note, all of the killing is off screen, this is a pro-reality but anti violence film in its own brutal right

SPOILER END

Now I didn’t exactly write the last paragraph but it is summed up pretty well that I agree with it

I say if you didn’t see the original this might be interesting but if you did you don’t really have to bother with this film. Trust me rent the original it’s a lot better


GRADE: C