Thursday, June 23, 2011

Green Lantern

My View:  Green Lantern  (2011)  Is it a problem when the leading man shares a makeup artist and hairstylist with his leading lady?  It is when you have a storyline that appears to have been written in crayon and special effects that make the film look like it’s a Japanese animated T.V. show in the 80's.  It's too bad, because Ryan Reynolds is likable as the pilot chosen by the green ring to become a superhero, but this film depends on its special effects way too much.  They just don't cut it.  The film also wastes a great supporting cast that includes Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins and four time Academy Award nominee (one win) Geoffrey Rush (who does the voice of one of the badly animated Green Lantern troupe members).  This film has one of the most anticlimactic battle sequences that I have ever seen to resolve the film’s conflict.  If you do make it to the end, there is a bonus scene after the main credits that sets up the sequel.  Please, no one wants a sequel!  Don't see this film in 3-D, as it was made in 2-D.  3-D was added in post-production and definitely isn't worth the extra bucks.  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again  Green Lantern Website

Forgotten Film:  Meatballs  (1979)  The tagline for this movie says it all - "The Summer Camp that Makes You Untrustworthy, Disloyal, Unhelpful, Unfriendly, Discourteous, Unkind, Disobedient, and Very Hilarious".  Bill Murray, in his first starring role, plays the laid-back senior boys counselor who runs the camp behind the back of the Camp Director.  This is Murray at his best, delivering timeless one-liners and several scenes where it’s obvious he has gone off-script (and the rest of the cast is trying to keep up).  Chris Makepeace plays the kid whom Murray decides to make his summer project, and pursues teaching him how he should be spending his life.  This is a warm and entertaining film, and very unlike the gross-out teen comedies of today, this film can be seen and enjoyed by the whole family.    Meatballs Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Happythankyoumoreplease (2010)  Written, Directed and Starring Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother), this ensemble piece is about a group of twenty-somethings who begin to realize they need to find their way before adulthood finds them. Radnor plays a struggling writer who encounters a lost boy in the subway.  Instead of turning him over to the authorities, he decides to let the boy tag along.  Radnor meets a girl (played by the cute Kate Mara), whom he quickly becomes enamored with, but she doesn’t want a serious relationship.  In this movie, everyone has to make choices:  choices to stay together or move apart, take a chance on love or run away, to always be looking for the perfect man or finally choose the one who is right for you.  My Rating:  Full Price    Happythankyoumoreplease Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Conan the Barbarian  (2011)  It's not a good sign when, in the trailer, your lead says only a few lines and is barely seen.  Starring Jason Momoa, an unknown, unless you watch the geek sci-fi show, Stargate Atlantis, this is the retelling of the Robert E. Howard story.   Can Momoa fill Arnold's larger than life sandals?  I have my doubts.   Conan the Barbarian Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Soul Surfer:  Hawaiian Nose Flute Preformed by

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)  Am I the only one bugged by the title, as if it's missing something, or maybe I just keep flashing back to Pink Floyd?  Michael Bay has promised that the third installment of the Transformers series will give us more background into the machines’ origins.  Of course, what is on every fanboys mind…will newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley makes us forget Megan Fox.  I hope so…I really do.   Transfomers: Dark of the Moon Website
Until Next Time!

The 50 (a movie from my best/worst films of all time):
#41 Best Film:
Stagecoach (1939)   This western, directed by John Ford, made John Wayne an unforgettable movie star.  Until this film premiered, Wayne was mostly known for doing B-movies and "2 reeler" westerns.  Ford fought for Wayne to play the Ringo Kid and man, did he live up to Ford's faith in him.  Stagecoach is a story of a group of travelers thrown together for a ride across Indian country and, as with any good western, it's more about how people interact with each other than the fight scenes between Cowboys and Indians.  Wayne plays a man who is wanted by the law but feels he must avenge the murder of his father and brother.  Wayne is magnificent in this movie, and the first time we meet his character, he is in a sweeping shot that is one of the greatest intros of all time.  The film has a memorable cast including Claire Trevor, who plays a prostitute with a heart of gold, John Carradine as the dashing gambler and in an Academy Award performance, Thomas Mitchell as the washed up, alcoholic doctor.  The movie ends with one of the most exciting chase sequences that sets the standard for all westerns after.   Stagecoach Info

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Super 8

My View:  Super 8  (2011)  From producer Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and writer/director J.J. Abrams (Lost), this film is part E.T., part Close Encounters and part Alien with a whole lot of The Goonies thrown in.  The film takes place in summer 1979 (an awesome sound track reflects the time period) in a small town in Ohio.  While a group of friends are making a zombie movie using a super 8 camera, they witness a train crash.  After the crash, dogs disappear, people become missing, and strange sounds and power outages start happening.  The young cast, led by Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths and Elle Fanning, carry this movie and do a terrific job sending you on a thrilling adventure. If you enjoyed the Spielberg film-world of the 70’s, see this wondrous film. My Rating:  Full Price   Super 8 Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst films of all time):
#41 Worst Film:  Halloween III:  Season of the Witch (1982)  When is a sequel not a sequel?  When the protagonist from the first two films (bad guy Michael Myers) isn’t even in the film.  Absent also are the stars of the first two films, Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence, who both probably thanked their agents with big bonuses at Christmas time.  There are robot henchmen, some sort of Stonehenge curse is involved and there’s a very annoying commercial that is supposed to entice kids to buy the mask made by an evil toy company which will trigger the murder of millions at 9pm Halloween night.   Now is that East or West Coast time?   Halloween III Info
Forgotten Film:  Ulee’s Gold  (1997)  Peter Fonda received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of soft spoken Ulee Jackson, a bee keeper harvesting honey in Florida.  Ulee has made mistakes with his family in the past and is determined to pull his family back together, even if he has to risk his life and livelihood. Patricia Richardson and Christine Dunford are memorable in the cast, but Fonda is the reason to watch this film, and he doesn’t disappoint.   Ulee's Gold Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD)Red Riding Hood  (2011)  Just skip on to Grandmother's home and pass up this retelling of the folk tale aimed at the Twilight crowd.  Amanda Seyfried is the object of affection of her childhood friend, a man she really loves (played by Shiloh Fernandez) and the boy she is betrothed to (played by Max Irons).  There is, however, a werewolf in the neighborhood that she may have to sacrifice herself to in order to save the village. This film is badly written with a storyline that just keeps adding to its already-too-complicated plot, and it’s one where you wish the wolf would just finally put everyone out of their misery, including the viewing audience.  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again   Red Riding Hood Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea:  Bad Teacher  (2011)  Cameron Diaz (who really needs a hit film to help her career) plays an uninspired junior high teacher, who gets dumped by her sugar daddy. She then tries to woo a millionaire (played by Justin Timberlake) who happens to be more into public service than having fun and spending his money.  This film just looks unfunny, and Diaz’s character seems so unlikeable.  It’s interesting that the recent promos for this film focus on Diaz and not on Timberlake, who is on a comedy hit streak with his recent appearance on Saturday Night Live.   Bad Teacher Website

Weird Credits:   From the credits of Super 8 (2011):  Viral Footage

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Friends with Benefits (2011)  This romantic comedy stars Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show & Black Swan) and Justin Timberlake, who try to remain just friends with sexual benefits.  I have hope for this film since both the principles are first-rate comedy actors, and the trailer was entertaining and made me laugh.   Friends with Benefits Website
Until Next Time!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

X-Men: First Class

My View:  X-Men: First Class (2011)  After just seeing a movie that made no sense (Tree of Life), this film, about the origins of the X-Men, was a pleasant surprise to me, as it was full of exciting action, superb special effects, a groovy 1960's style soundtrack and a well thought out story line.  Charles Xavier (played by James McAcoy) is a brash, young, newly-minted professor who is asked to consult with the CIA about the possibility of mutants being real.  Little does the government know that not only is Xavier a mutant, but so is his adopted sister, Raven (soon to be named Mystique), played by the radiant Jennifer Lawrence.  Kevin Bacon is impressive as the evil Sevastian Shaw, another mutant, who wants to start a nuclear war (Cuban Missile Crisis) so that he and his fellow mutants can take over the world.  The X-Men are formed by Xavier with help from fellow mutant Erik Lehnsherr (played by Michael Fassbender), and we get to discover, in a very funny scene, how each X-Man got his name.  There is real chemistry in the Bro-mance between McAvoy and Fassbender, and Lawrence lights up the screen in a dazzling performance of a mutant who literally isn't comfortable in her own skin.  The only weak link in this film is January Jones, who plays mutant, Emma Frost.  Although Jones looks amazing in her scanty outfits, she never shows any expression except a look as though she pulled a hamstring putting on one of her outfits.  Go see X-men: First Class for the perfect summer action film, but you don't have to stay through the credits.  Unlike Thor and Ironman, there isn't a bonus scene at the end of the movie.     My Rating:   Full Price   X-Men: First Class Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst films of all time):
#42 Best Film: The 39 Steps  (1935)  Directed by the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, this early "talky" is the usual Hitchcock story line:  A man is falsely accused of murder / espionage and must clear his name.  Debonair Robert Donat plays Mr. Hannay who stumbles into a plot to steal secrets from the government.  Along the way, he encounters a woman (played by Madeleine Carroll) who reluctantly helps him try to find the stolen secrets.  As with a lot of Hitchcock films, there is lots of humor, and the blooming romance between Donat and Carroll brings a little steam to the film.  With plenty of twists and turns to the plot, this film maintains a brisk pace with a fantastic ending.  Be sure and look for the usual, elusive Hitchcock appearance.    The 39 Steps Info  
Forgotten Film:  Harold and Maude  (1971)  Directed by Hal Ashby (Being There, Coming Home), this comedy is about an unlikely pairing of a young man (played by Bud Cort) and  a 79 year-old woman (played by Ruth Gordon).  Cort plays a rich, spoiled man in is twenties, who is fascinated with death and funerals. He tries to get attention from his snobbish mother by staging fake suicides in front of her (which she totally ignores).  His life is changed when, while at a funeral, he meets Gorden whose zest for life becomes infectious.  Gorden is a whirlwind of energy, and Cort is brilliant in a performance very reminiscent of silent film star, Buster Keaton.  This is a lively and creative film that gets more amusing with each viewing.   Harold and Maude Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  True Grit  (2010)  Nominated for ten Oscars and directed by the Coen brothers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men), this is the retelling of the 1969 John Wayne film.  Jeff Bridges plays Rooster Cogburn with gusto, and Matt Damon is solid as the Texas Ranger LaBoeuf.  But 14 year-old newcomer, Hailee Steinfeld and her performance make this a vastly improved film over the original.  Steinfeld hires Bridges (a man of true grit) to find the killer of her father, and they embark on a cross country journey.  Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper round out this first rate cast, but Steinfeld is the most obvious reason to see this film.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   True Grit Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Mr. Popper's Penguins  (2011)  Jim Carrey plays a no-nonsense businessman who inherits 6 penguins from his father.  It's not a good sign when the trailer of a comedy produces no laughter from the audience, and the end of a big "fun" stunt is a penguin pooping on Carrey's head.  This looks like another stinker for an actor who hasn't had a hit in a really long time.   Mr. Popper's Penguins Website

Weird Credits:   From the credits of Tree of LIfe (2011):  Organ piano coach to Mr. Pitt

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Green Lantern  (2011)  A test pilot is given a mysterious ring that is the key to saving the world. Can Ryan Reynolds, mostly known for comedies, wear the green ring and carry an action film?  The fan boys are very nervous about this film, but the film’s trailer looks like it could be a good addition to the comic book film world.   Green Lantern Website
See You Next Time!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Everything Must Go

My View:  Everything Must Go (2011)  Will Ferrell plays an alcoholic, who, all on the same day, loses his job, his wife, and he’s locked out of his house,   His wife moved out and tossed all of Ferrell’s belongings onto the front lawn.  Without a car or any money, Ferrell starts living on his front lawn, much to the dismay of his neighbors.  This is a very serious drama, and Ferrell plays his role with great sadness and reserve.  This slow moving film is very predictable, but we get tired of Ferrell continually drinking beer in his recliner, watching his neighbors live the life he no longer has.  The supporting cast is solid with Rebecca Hall as the pregnant neighbor and Christopher Jordan Wallace (son of the late rapper The Notorious B.I.G.) as the kid who befriends Ferrell and who is the brightest spot in this dreary film,.   My Rating:  Cable  Everything Must Go Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst film of all time):
#42 Worst Film:  Players (1979)  The plot of this stinker from the 70’s is a tennis hustler (played by Dean Martin’s son Dean Paul Martin) gets involved with a girl (played by the beautiful but vacent actress Ali MacGraw) who changes his life so much that he becomes competent enough to play for the Men’s Singles title at Wimbledon.  Apparently, the message of this film is, “the love of a good woman changes your backhand and gets you a killer serve.”  This film has one of the most boring / un-erotic love scenes of all time as Martin and MacGraw get intimate on a lawn chair.  It was game/set/match before the opening credits of this film.  Players Info
Forgotten Film:  The Cooler (2003)  William H. Macy plays a man, hired by a Las Vegas casino, whose luck is so bad, he manages to stop the winning streaks of others.  Macy works for Alec Baldwin, perfectly cast in the role of a slick mobster who runs an old style casino.  Macy uses his sad-sack appearance in an advantageous way to show how downtrodden this character is.  But, Macy’s luck is about to change when he meets and falls in love with a cocktail waitress (the radiant Maria Bello).  He becomes a winner, but that doesn’t please Baldwin who uses every trick in the book to get his “Cooler” back to his losing ways.  This is a small film filled with snappy dialogue and brilliant performances.  The Cooler Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD): When In Rome (2010)   Kristen Bell, plays an unlucky in love girl working in New York.  Bell travels toRome to attend a wedding where she meets the man of her dreams, but soon discovers he is with someone else.  In response to he new broken heart, she gets drunk and steals four coins from The Fountain of Love.  Bell doesn’t know, however, that her action provokes the four men who threw the coins into the fountain to fall in love with her.  This film is just unfunny and relies too much on Kristen Bell’s likeability.  What was made in Rome should have stayed in Rome!  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again.  When In Rome Info
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)  Zookeeper  Kevin James and talking animals.  When the idea of taking a talking gorilla to a Friday’s Restaurant is your biggest joke in the trailer, you know the film is probably going to stink.  Zookeeper Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Everything Must Go (2011)  Animal Wrangler (Koi)

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Super 8 (2011)  From writer/director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg, this highly anticipated movie is about a group of friends who witness a train crash in their town.  After the tragic crash, all sorts of bad and strange things begin to happen.  The trailer looks great, and I am hopeful that Spielberg returns some of his E.T. magic to this film.  Super 8 Website
Until Next Time!