Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BIG FAN (2009)


CAST: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rappaport, Matt Servitto

Written & Directed By: Robert D. Siegel
Cinematography By: Michael Simmonds
Editor: John Trank


The film feels like a dark odessey but it’s one that takes place in a lake not a ocean or river.

This is a film that I wanted to love but I ended up only liking a lot.

It appealed to me but scared me at how much the main character resembles me and my life. Only I hope not as depressing. In full admission I am one of the biggest fans of Patton Oswalt. I actually met him while he was in town filming this movie.

It’s a darkly comedic film where all the characters might fit a few stereotypes but they felt real. No one was perfect they all had flaws, They all had good things and bad things about them.

The Writer-Director of the film is Robert Siegel who also wrote THE WRESTLER. In his direction siegel is a simple storyteller he doesn’t use visual trickery or distracting angles He still gets his point across. The films low budget also adds to the films believability. In his writing at first you could write him off as someone interested in characters in sports but each film goes deeper then the actual sport which only plays a small part in they’re overall stories as the film is showing the in’s and out’s of the sport the films let you get inside there heads and what is going on and affecting them in they’re immediate life. It shows the characters and the trouble they find themselves inevitably in usually done to themselves and the fact that the world is cruel. And of course when it rains it pours.

I really don’t like the films ending but if it ended any other way it wouldn’t have made the impact or told it’s message the way it clearly wanted do.

The film is a down trodden character study that seems to revel in it's misery and you feel it deeply as the situations and characters feel more realistic, then fabricated for the story.

Of course the film will be compared to the better TAXI DRIVER. But the film has a identity of it’s own and lends itself to the 70’s era type of filmmaking. Where character comes before story and plot. The reason I believe those films are so well remembered is because the films felt real and believable and the people who made the film wanted to tell stories and not show off they’re technical know how and care more about pleasing studios, audiences and box office returns then making a memorable film and maybe art.

What this film does cleverly is leads you down a dark road. That shocks you and fills you with despair the furthur you go and at each pit stop you think you know and feel dread thinking you know where it's going to lead. It goes in that direction, But then gives you a detour. Making it all the more revealing.
It’s a Must see but it is not a film that needs to be in your film library.

It’s a Must see but it is not a film that needs to be in your film library.

GRADE: B+

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (2008) (Remake)


CAST: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connolly, Jon Hamm, Kathy Bates, Jaden Smith, Kyle Chandler, James Hong, Robert Knepper, John Cleese

Directed By: Scott Derrikson
Written By: David Scarpa; Based on the original Screenplay: Edmund H. North
Cinematography By: David Tattersall
Editor: Wayne Wahrman


Now I will admit I didn’t see the original but I know it is held by many as one of the better science fiction films ever. Even by today’s standards it would be considered slow but the acting great at leas that’s what I heard and one day I will watch it to see for myself but for right now I will review it’s inferior (As Usual) Remake or re-imagining

Now I like the films downbeat nihilistic end of the world message that it stays true to until the end of the film before finally copping out at the end. Which greatly disappointed me because if it had stayed on it’s track I could at least give it credit as original.

I don’t know why Keanu Reeves choose this movie. After THE MATRIX trilogy. He doesn’t need the money. You would think he would be more picky but maybe he doesn’t get sent the best but at least he seems to have found his genre. He is actually good in the film as he doesn’t have to speak much and most of the acting required is physical. So that his stiffness actually works for him in the role since he’s supposed to be playing a alien. But I will admit his acting has never bothered me or phased me as most of his projects are more studio popcorn fare then deep independent or dramatic films.

The Scary thing is that he is also one of the highest grossing Sci-Fi and fantasy actors. The only other actors I can think of with as much clout in the genre nowadays are Will Smith, (whose son Jaden co-stars in the film) Christian Bale and strangely Vin Diesel. What happened when Sci-fi heroes used to be intelligent and nerdy now they are all studly but you have a hard time necessarily believing the intelligence.

As usual there is plenty of time spent on glorious impressive special effects so much that you get whole sequences of just showing it. There is nothing too noteworthy the directing is basic and doesn’t set itself apart.

The film introduces a quirky family situation to the film. In which Jennifer Connolly is a stepmother to a child whose mother died when he was a bay then she arrived his father who was murdered in a war. It’s really the only personality that the film has.

Jennifer Connolly who is fast becoming the queen of melancholy movies. but she always seems to star in movies that should be hits but don’t quite make it even critically like DARK WATERand RESERVATION ROAD. I love her as a actress she just needs the right director to see her as they’re muse like David Cronenberg. There is no reason she couldn’t have a career like Kate Winslet or Angelina Jolie. I wonder if she should shift to action films so she could be like Milla Jovovich (Herself the lower budget equivalent of Angelina Jolie)

I Don’t really have much to say about this film I’m sure it serves up it’s audiences needs but is barely entertaining it’s a movie that just plays and you stare at it time to time but it’s a film that’s better to just have on as you do other things and tend to check back on time to time trust me you don’t really miss anything doing it.

In The end the film comes off as a big budget message film informing us to take care of the planet before we are taken care of permanently. We fail it, it will fail us. And to make sure we get it the studio spent over $100 million dollars.

Skip it.

GRADE: D+

BAD TEACHER - Script Review


This is soemthing new and probably rare that i am going to do.

SCRIPT WRITTEN BY Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky

113 Pages
Draft Dated: June 6, 2008


Don’t ask where I got it because I’m no snitch just know that I have read the screenplay of this upcoming Cameron Diaz Coemdy that will Co-star Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch and Jason Segel.

The film is a quick and entertaining read and a dark comedy in every sense of the word not down and depressing dark but a dark that is politically incorrect and makes no apologies for it’s conduct (Think Bad Santa, but cleaner) the type I really enjoy the script the film won’t be a classic but it could be memorable as long as the film sticks to the nuts and bolts of the screenplay. Now I know that scripts usually change from there drafts but this is the one that will work the best from what I have read.

The Screenplay is about a gold digger teacher ELIZABETH HALSEY. Who thinks she has it made a rich fiancé who loves her she is all set to quit her teaching life and retire to be a trophy wife until she finds out her fiancé is cheating on her with a Woman. She is willing to forgive for a expensive gift, but he rebuffs her and tells her this woman loves him for him and not what he has. Shattered she goes back to work at her school as a 7th grade teacher and trying to snare a rich guy after a summer of trying to get pregnant by various basketball players, She becomes convinced that she can only get a rich guy by getting a boob job so she schemes her way to get money for them when all of a sudden she meets a handsome seemingly perfect substitute teacher who comes from money and she does her best to try and seduce him by being the perfect teacher who cares about her students who she honestly could careless about as she mostly plays movies as lessons while she tries to sleep off hangovers but she is shattered to find he is already dating her nemesis a ms. Perfect rival teacher. As the film goes on the two females battle over him and she schemes more to get things to go her way.

There is a lot more going on but I don’t want to spoil the movie as if it is directed right it will definitely be a fun time at the cinema. In the hands of Director Jake Kasdan it should be interesting the only worrisome part is Cameron Diaz. If she pulls it off it will be a comeback in the quality of films she makes. Reading the script I could imagine Anna Faris is mad she didn’t get the role as this seems to be the type she likes to play sort of like her character in OBSERVE & REPORT only less dark and depressing, But Anna Faris’s characters usually are out there comedically and can be off center, but they usually have a sweetness to them and what I liked about the script is that the character does change but not that much and on there own terms.

Lucy Punch has been Cast as her Nemesis Amy Squirrel. Which could be good as she has been good in movies like HOT FUZZ. But when reading it I imagined Jennifer Love Hewitt in the role since it would be kind of a amalgam of her usual screen image and a chance for her to show some range on the big screen if not her Amy Adams would also be good in the role.

I am shocked That Justin Timberlake took the role of the Substitute Teacher that the ladies fight over as his role is the role of the Beautiful girl in most movies. He doesn’t have much to do but play the straight man to the two women in comedic scenes. But maybe he enjoyed that aspect. I imagine though his role will probably be beefed up to give him more of a reason to be in the film and give him more to do. I also hope they do the same with Jason Segel’s role as Diaz’s roommate who comes into the film here and there to say a line then disappears and we never really learn anything about except for one scene towards the end where he is needed and has a set-up and instant pay off.

All in all I would say this has a chance. I don’t usually read a script in one sitting on my computer usually but the time melted away as I was lead to page after page and never got bored or bogged down.

GRADE: B+

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (2009)


CAST: Kate Beckinsale, Matt Dillon, David Schwimmer, Alan Alda, Vera Farminga, Noah Wyle, Jamey Sheridan, Courtney B. Vance, Angela Bassett

Written & Directed By: Rod Lurie
Cinematography By: Alik Sakharov
Editor: Sarah Boyd


The material is thrilling and edge of your seat worthy. The film has good performances but it feels so basic. It seems like there is no real effort or energy in the film. Which is interesting for a film that is based loosely on a real life tale. They obviously take a lot of liberties with the story.

The Film revolves around a reporter who refuses to give up her source in a story that reveals a CIA agent’s identity and is prosecuted and jailed for it. For standing up to the government and refusing to name her source. Behind bars her life falls apart as does her marriage. We also see what kind of damage it does to the ousted CIA agent’s life as she even becomes a suspect to being the anonymous source.

This film comes before the similar themed project FAIR GAME that covers the same story but has a bigger budget and bigger name actors such as Sean Penn and Naomi watts Directed By Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) which I’m sure will be a little more flashy. This film maybe lower budgeted but it also lets the story be more intimate and not as distracting with issues and Subplots that are rally not needed so it tells one main story.

I believe everyone in the cast does well as far as performances but as usual Vera Farminga excels in her role as the ousted agent she has the right amount of paranoia, toughness, emotion and demeanor. Alan Alda seems to be spending his career at this oint playing high priced attorneys and politicians. It seems to be the only work he gets probably because he is so good at it ironic since his career and personal beliefs have always been so liberal but as usual he is memorable in his role as Kate Beckinsale’s attorney.

Part of the joy of the film is seeing certain TV Actors play against type like David Schwimmer as Kate’s worrywart and weak willed husband who cracks under the pressure of the government and Noah Wyle as the angry newspaper lawyer who thinks he has it all figured out and gets a very rude awakening.

One of the interesting characters is Matt Dillon’s who is the villain of the piece Everytime you think he is going to be nice and decent he only becomes worse and with a friendly demeanor like he is being forced to do these acts and the decisions he makes aren’t his. When he is the power behind it at the end which has a subtle shock we truly find out the reason she never budged when asked and forced to reveal her source and or sources.

This is not a flashy movie as everything is told dryly and direct though the emotions do come after all the questions and decisions. Even the prison scenes are not as over the top as most filmmakers would have had them to convey the horror of being imprisoned.

Director Rod Lurie has a history of political themed projects. So this is almost like his bread and butter. he started out as a film reviewer then made his writing directing debut with the film DETERRENCE about the president of the united states having to decide whether to use nuclear weapons. Then there was the film THE CONTENDER about a female trying to rise to the seat of vice president with rumors of her past blocking her from ascending the seat though there is barely any evidence against her to back the allegations. Then he turned his attention to television with the show COMMANDER IN CHIEF starring Geena Davis as the first female president and then came the show LINE OF FIRE about a female secret service agent showing that they do more then just provide security for the president. His TV shows also seemed like great ideas for movies. So as you can see he has a keen interest in political themed projects. Showing the drama involved.


The film is a satisfying rental.

GRADE: B-

Saturday, April 10, 2010

HUNGER (2009)


Cast: Michael Fassbender

Directed By: Steve McQueen
Written By: Steve McQueen & Edna Walsh
Cinematography By: Sean Bobbitt
Editor: Joe Walker


A powerful film.

THE STEPFATHER (Remake) 2009


CAST: Dylan Walsh, Penn Badgley, Amber Heard, Sela Ward, Sherry Stringfield, Paige Turco, Jon Tenney

Directed By: Nelson McCormick
Written By: J.S. Cardone; Based on a earlier screenplay By: Donald E. Westlake;
Story By: Carolyn Lefcourt & Brain Garfield & Donald E. Westlake
Cinematography By: Patrick Cady
Editor: Eric L. Beason


Friday, April 9, 2010

THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD (2009)


CAST: Colin Hanks, Emily Blunt, John Malkovich, Steve Zahn, Debra Monk, Ricky Jay, Tom Hanks, Griffin Dunne, Don Most, Adam Scott

Written & Directed By: Dean McGinly
Cinematography By: Tak Fujimoto
Editor: Myron Kerstein


The movie is better then expected but still is just ok. The way in which it works is that it is heartwarming just when you think it is going to be cruel. I respect the film for it’s nostalgic feel though it is set up in modern times and doesn’t take the road of cynicism.