Wednesday, April 29, 2009

RED (2008)

Directed By: Lucky McKee & Trygve Allister Diesen
Written By: Stephen Susco
Based On The Book By: Jack Ketchum
Cinematography By: Harald Gunnar Paalgard
Editor: Jon Endre Mok

CAST: Brain Cox, Tom Sizemore, Noel Fisher, Shiloh Fernandez, Robert Englund, Amanda Plummer, Kim Dickens, Richard Riehle, Kyle Gallner

First and foremost the main reason to see this film is the performance of brain cox even though the film is good he really elevates the material and brings it to a level that could have been reached without him but not in the same way.

Now I read the book the movie is based on before watching the film I literally watched the movie the same day I finished the book now they have changed some things around from the book a bit of the ending and some details that were served in the book to flesh out the story but in the film are skipped to keep the plot going with no distractions. The films ending makes you think surprisingly more then the book which in turn makes the lead character a little more deep.

The only problem I really had with the film is that it is filmed on digital video which makes this production look cheap. I don’t know what the budget of the film was but it takes away or distracts a little from the movie which deserves more richness in the background and I understand the story takes place in a small town but wherever they filmed it it looks like a ghost town more of a tourist attraction. Buildings don’t look lived in preserved but not lived in. I know it’s a nit-pick, but it bothered me.

The story is one of revenge where a tragedy happens for no real good reason and all the man wants is a apology and for the perpetrator to take responsibility but wherever he turns he can’t get any justice and just when he is ready to settle he keeps getting pushed and picked on to his breaking point when all hell breaks loose.

The reason this tale works is that like It’s main character it’s rough but sticks to a certain moral code that seems lacking in the modern world or seems to be dying and considered outdated. I really liked the main character in the book. The way brain cox plays him in the movie fleshed him out and made me like all the more.

This film has a curious production most of the film was completed by director Lucky McKee until filming was halted and then started up six months later with director
Trygve Allister Diesen. taking over no explination was ever given but luckily the film uses both men’s footage seamlessly there are no scenes where I would guess one of them directed this and the other directed that there is no bad overlapping of styles or performances. Which is surprising. It’s really a shame because with this film it really seemed like lucky McKee was back on the right track with a worthy follow up to his Excellent First Film MAY. He almost directed the film version of Jack Ketchum’s Novel the lost but ended up just producing it.

Tom Sizemore’s performance could have been better he usually plays these types of roles in his sleep and here he seems like he is doing exactly that he doesn’t seem to have the energy that he usually puts into his performances. He just seems wishy washy and not even a good nemesis for brain Cox’s character you could see the hero washing the floor with this guy. Also it’s a shame a talented actress like Amanda plummer has to take bit roles like these she deserves better not that this is not a worthy movie for her. She just deserves bigger and better roles.

This is a worthy rental that will make you think afterwards. Thanks to a poignant ending.


Saturday, April 25, 2009


CAST: Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Michael Pena, Ray Liotta, Jesse Plemons, Colette Wolfe, Celia Watson, Aziz Ansari, Patton Oswalt, Danny McBride, Ben Best

Written & Directed By: Jody Hill
Cinematography By: Tim Orr
Editor: Zene Baker

he reason the film works is that it takes so many unexpected turns that a normal studio comedy doesn’t take that it is refreshing to see. The film takes many chances with it’s comedy it doesn’t force feed you jokes and tell you when to laugh so much of the comedy comes from not only uncomfortable moments but the characters and there behavior. It’s not a typical comedy it has a lot of dramatic scenes that have comedy in them.

I like it because the film doesn’t fit into a nice little box if you tried to fit it in one, It would leave the box stained and beaten up. It’s a misfit. It is also one of the first roles that actually requires Seth Rogen to show and have range. He passes with flying colors.

In one sense it’s disturbing but it has a original voice that the film will not appeal to a mass audience but I think will gain a audience who appreciate it. Now it doesn’t help that PAUL BLART: MALL COP came out a few months before it now while both revolve around the same job of a main character they are totally different paul blart is more of a family comedy that goes with humor and jokes and crazy situations. Where as this film is more about character comedy

It’s not only the lead the supporting characters are memorable and hilarious on there own that any of them could be the star of there own movies but they are better to be taken in small doses as not to go overboard with there presence that you get tired of them and the possibilities there character can do in certain situations. Chief among them michela pena’s character who is just so bizarre and outlandish you can’t stop laughing at him whenever he is in a scene there is also anna faris who brings another memorable comedic character to her cannon like a movie Saturday night live cast member it seems like each time she is in a comedy she creates another comedic personae. Ray liotta who plays it more like he is in a drama then a comedy comes across as not only scary but a commanding maleovolent presence there are also a couple of stand up comedian cameos who that are brilliant

The film also has a few scens that will disturb a few audience members as they are controversial due to bad taste and questionable morals.

The third act ending is almost like TOTAL RECALL in the way that it has a false happy ending that could take place all in his mind. It’s a joyous ending that ties everything in a happy bow or at least as happy as you can get in this warped tale and since Writer/Director Jody Hill calls this film a Comedic Version of TAXI DRIVER. Just like that film you can never tell at the end if it is truly a happy ending or all in his mind in fact everything after the jail scene or the scene at home taking his medication again could be a dream as good things start to happen immediately after the shot of him laying on his bed implying he is dreaming or that this is a fantasy because really after all he has causedwould the mall really give him his job back. Plus during the third act the pixies song WHERE IS MY MIND is played but performed by citywolf which maybe a clue but you look at it whichever way you want to.

Either way the movies a must see in my book and one that leaves itself to many conversations and great admiration


Thursday, April 16, 2009

SHUTTLE (2008)

Cast: Tony Curran, Peyton List, Cameron Goodman, Cullen Douglas, Dave Power, James Snyder

Written & Directed By: Edward Anderson
Cinematography By: Matthew Fimognari
Editor: William Yeh

The film has a basic horror storyline that plays it more like a thriller. But as it goes along sets a certain mood.

The film is very unpredictable at least to me where as instead of trying to guess what would happen next or really think during this film I was so pulled in and on the edge of my seat everything came to me as almost a surprise. The film also made you care about almost every character and you actually cared about there fates. The two female leads are not only beautiful but they have as much talent as they do looks.

Cameron Goodman in particular makes a lasting impression what her character goes through is so immense and you feel her performance not so much through dialogue but through physical reactions and facial expressions and throughout the film you feel she is the vivacious rebellious character who changes the most through her ordeal who by the end is left like a wide eyed innocent lamb going to the slaughter

The movie is about two girls coming back from a Mexican vacation who meet two guys In the airport and decide to hang with them and share a shuttle bus from the airport back t there place. They take the shuttle with another random passenger then before they know it they are driven to a random secluded part of town robbed and taken hostage by the driver. But that is only the beginning the night will bring about many surpises for all of them especially for the ones who survive.

The reason why this film is scary is that it has a realistic quality that makes you feel like this could actually happen in real life.

While at times the story has it’s plot holes you still hang in there and follow it. You are paid back for it tenfold with a tight original thriller that deserves a audience and a good following. Someone should give the director a film deal.

This is partly one of those gimmick films that I have a belief that when young filmmakers finally get enough money to make there first movies they have stories they want to tell but also they want to make a mar in the marketplace and with viewers so that maybe they get another chance to make a film. Some are successful some make horrible first films but somehow get another chance to make another film and redeem themselves and are able to make another film where they prove themselves maybe they learned there lesson making the first one in what not to do. The director Edward Anderson here proves himself a major talent and I look forward to hopefully ore films from him though if not he makes a good impression with this film his debut that will not make you forget it anytime soon

A must see



Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, Amamda Peet, Angela Featherstone, Lindsay McKeon, Brian Goodman, Donnie Wahlberg, Eddie Lynch, Will Lyman

Directed By: Brian Goodman
Written By: Brian Goodman & Donnie Wahlberg & Paul T. Murray
Cinematography By: Chris Norr
Editor: Robert Hoffman

The problem with this film is that since it is based on a true story there are only a certain amount of liberties you can take with the story.

It would have been nice to learn a bit more about the side characters who are actually more interesting then the lead character but we only get slight glimpses into there lives which leaves you wanting more.

That alas is the movies big problem it is interesting and you can get into it but it feels like a story you have seen plenty of times before and the things that could set it apart isn’t going to be in it because it is based on the director’s life and wants to stay as true to the situations that it allows. So whle you would expect more sex and or violence it remains rather tame in both.

This film doesn’t glamorize the criminal life but shows it’s more mundane day to day existence there are some joys but many lows and not as much money as you would expect and you have to keep hustling and making deals just to make a nice chunk of change and have a continuing income.

The film does have it’s dramatic scenes as it tells of criminal life redemption addiction and trying to do what’s right by friends and family due to obligations and getting clean and your life in order. Mostly through one character’s eyes but you always have a sense of what’s going to happen next there is little to no surprise in the film.

It doesn’t help that the film and it’s story is presented it comes off devoid of color and bland. Since it is a story of redemption if you are looking for a violent gangster story this is not the type of film for you. It tells one characters story who is not that deep into the gangster life.

It tries to tell the life story of the lead but the early scenes while defining the code of the streets goes by so fast you don’t really feel it gives any deeper insights into the characters plus the film jumps around in times a few times that it leaves you to wonder what exactly happened during those years and how it may have changed them. Like for instance when he becomes addicted to drugs I understand it is from the pressure but they could have explained it a little better because it seems he just drinks then the next scene he just want to get high no build-up at all. One scene while in prison with a child molester and there beating him up seems more like a scene there to make the characters sympathetic and just.

Donnie Wahlberg who has proven himself a good actor after moving on from his music group the new kids on the block not only appears in the film but also helped co-write it. The film feels authentic but not a story that seems that filmable. It is a nice attempt and it has potential but turns about disappointing.

Mark Ruffalo is a actor I always though of as dependent but has never impressed me that may be the allure of him as a actor to critics and filmmakers he doesn’t showboat but you totally believe him as the character he is playing because he easily immerses himself so thoroughly and doesn’t take away from his fellow actors while garnering attention for himself at the same time.

Ethan Hawke seems to be making a habit at this point in his career by playing criminals, hoods or cops. Much more dangerous characters then when his career first started and he is good at it. I really liked his character and wished he was in more of the film.

It’s a ok rental


Sunday, April 12, 2009


Why is it now when certain stars work together in a film it feels like a special event or like a added bonus like if you like him you’ll love the fact that this star isn’t is in it too.

If you look at classic films like GUNS OF THE NAVARONE or LAWRENCE OF ARABIA great actors always co-starred with each other for whatever reasons. Now it seems you have to satisfy the egos of the stars for them just to work together. It’s just like how all the great actors seem to be doing big budget action or Super hero films.

I guess because at this point they come cheaper then the movie stars who can’t act even though the films are more centered on effects then cast but at least you know you’ll get a good performance plus it gives the actor to add some box-office clout to there name unfortunately though it seems only in these movies, Do you ever get a superstar cast of actors to be in the same films.

Look at IRON MAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK both of which have a great cast for a drama. Under those circumstances the films would be oscar bait but you have all this talent for a blockbuster movie. I’m not putting it down I regularly enjoy these films but why does it have to be only for these type of films? How come there isn’t a drama that co-stars Edward Norton and Robert Downey Jr.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

GATTACA (1998)

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Elias Koates, Loren Dean, Alan Arkin, Jude Law, Blair Underwood, Gore Vidal, Xander Berkley, Maya Rudolph, Mason Gamble, William Lee Scott, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Shaloub, Ken Marino,

Written & Directed By: Andrew Niccol
Cinematography By: Slawomir Idziak
Editor: Lisa Zeno Churgin
Original Music By: Michal Nyman
Production Design: Jan Roelfs

The Scary thing about this movie is the thought that the film’s world is coming closer to being a reality. In the search for our planet to become a utopia instead of leaving things natural and up to chance or nature we constantly find ourselves wanting to control everything in our life and world. This film explores a world with those choices available and what it can do to people who strive for more then what has been decided for them.

The film is a eye opener just from a art direction stand point everything is post modern and clean. Nothing is out of place. The acting is phenomenal it is the film Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke fell in love on. Uma with her statuesque beauty was a natural for this film. This is one of the first times Ethan Hawke really impressed me as a actor it is also the first time I saw Jude law act. And it reminds me of what a wonderful actor he can be.

This is Andrew Niccol’s first film he wrote the Truman show and followed this film with the film S1mone and just like that film he is attracted to cold surreal images devoid of too much color very precise and very clean and clear. While having vivid ides and creativity and unforgettable surreal images like paintings

The film is one that is very unappreciated over time I would have hoped it would have become more popular but it is still a undiscovered gem. I like it as a sci-fi story that says more about the human spirit and humanity then it does about actual science. Then it also involves a murder mystery detective storyline. It does keep the story moving but it could have been dropped and still been a interesting film.

This is a film more for you to discover then me tell you too much about it just trust me see it I’m sure you will enjoy it. I could complain about the lack of minorities in this future but hey you have to pick and choose your battles and I don’t feel this film is overtly racist it just is what it is and as usual forgets about that component totally.

The story follows Ethan Hawke’s character who is deemed a genetic failure since he was born the natural way whose parents decide there next child will be designed. In his teens he runs away from home and ends up a janitor his future decided for him but he wants to become a astronaut so he goes underground and buys someone else’s identity and cells so that he can achieve this dream even going through painful and time consuming plastic surgery just to achieve it. He has the smarts for it but not the physical aspects and stamina says science and while he is going through preparations for his launch a murder happens at the facility and into his life a pair of detectives investigating it. It’s almost like CSI Where anything biological can give you away a spare hair, skin, Sweat. The enemy in this film that will betray you is your DNA



Cast: Ray Stevenson, Colin Salmon, Julie Benz, Dash Mihok, Dominic West, Doug Hutchinson, Wayne Knight, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Ron Lea

Directed By: Lexi Alexander
Written By: Nick Santora & Art Marcum & Matt Holloway
Cinematography By: Steve Gainer
Editor: William Yeh

This is yet another attempt to make and launch the punisher as a viable comic book movie series. Now I will admit I liked the last one even though it delved away from the original source. This film has ray Stevenson playing frank castle and while he has the look he just doesn’t seem to have emotions to make his punisher not only believable but likeable which brings up the idea that are awe supposed to really like a glorified vigilante who goes after his prey while not letting anything stand in his way.

If this film had been made in the 80’s it would have been passable. Come on the monkey gang a bunch of meth head acrobatic goons who are lead by a dreadlocked black guy with a Scottish accent. That shows you what type of film this is. The film plays exactly like a comic book way over the top to the point of being ridiculous and half the actors perform that way especially the villains dominic west playing jigsaw chews the Scenery left and right. While seeming to be n his own 1930’s Gangster movie. So does his right hand man crazy brother played by the always overacting doug Hutchinson who at least always seems to be having fun.

Even the backgrounds and locations just feel like a set or are on a lot almost like cardboard scenery in a school play nothing in this movie feels real at all. The action sequences while they are impressive just seem to be there for the gratuitous violence half of it not needed or not needed to be shown as much as it is. I men come on the punisher puches a guy in the face and his fist goes right through the guys skull. To show how unnatural the movie is the beginning and the creation of the villain Jigsaw feels like it is a variation of Tim burton’s batman creation of the joker.

This film makes every criminal seem like a violent psychopath. And everytime someone gets hit they must bleed a lot. I will give this film credit in that it seems to be a all-star extravaganza of character actors who all need better work then this.

It’s a shame Lexi Alexander started off well with the film “Green Street Hooligans” and I hoped she would continue while showing a great talent for violent scenes but also seeming to handle dramatic ones also. Here she is a natural as a action director but any other scenes are terrible. The Script doesn’t help by giving the punisher a family like hs own that was killed to bond with and protect. She is also one of the few Female directors out there nonetheless directing action films.

But let’s face it if this is the type of film you are interested in and want to watch it doesn’t matter what I say you’ll go to see it and probably love it. To me it’s like watching a midnight movie it is that ridiculous. But it is a time waster. It seems like it should hae gone straight to home video. I guess it’s back to the drawing board for a film that seems like it would be simple enough to make a decent movie from. The fact that this is not a sequel as it was set up to be and none of the cast from the last punisher returned was a hint at how bad this would be. Plus director john Dahl (The Last Seduction) Turned it down right before it was due to be filmed. If it was a sequel they could have had john travolta’s son from the first film comeback seeking vengeance.

Even Doug Hutchinson originally turned it down hating the script but Lexi Alexander called him personally and told him her vision of the film which got him to sign on. Paddy Constantine (In America) Was also cast cast when dominic west turned his role down originally but he changed his mind and paddy was sent packing. He actually should thank Mr. West for saving him from this movie. There was also a r-rated version of the script written by the shield writer Kurt sutter that brung the punisher out of the comic books and into the realistic streets of new york fighting crime. But the studio wanting sequel opputunities decided to go with anther script they had sutter became so disgusted he didn’t even accept a story by credit.

The only nice thing I can say is that the lighting is good and the Production values are not embarrassing. This film has obviously never heard of the term overkill.

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