Thursday, August 25, 2011

One Day

My View:  One Day   Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) meet on the day they graduate college and spend the night together. They each go their separate ways, but they stay in touch. They have different career paths; he becomes a successful, late night TV host, but she can’t seem to find her way.  She continues to pine for Dex to the excessive point where you just want smack her in the head and say “Get it together.  He’s not worth it.”  That’s the biggest problem with this film.  You can (though it’s hard) accept that he doesn’t see how beautiful she is (Hathaway doesn’t play frumpy very well), and you can ignore her bad English accent, but you can’t ignore how much of an asshole he is!  And, that is why, throughout the film, you question (and can’t believe) why she loves him so much.  I won’t ruin the ending for you, but man is it frustrating.  Here’s hoping that “One Day” Anne Hathaway finds a good romantic film.   My Rating:  Cable   One Day Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst film of all time)
#36 Worst Film:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  (1978) This is one of those films that, when you’re watching it, your jaw drops and you just can’t believe what you’re seeing.  You almost expect your eyes and ears to bleed.  It’s that bad.  The idea behind this film was to tell the story, by using the songs of The Beatles, of a small town band that deals with the fame and corruption of the music business.  It stars The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton as the band members, with an extra “all-star cast” performing the other musical numbers.  Are you ready for an 80 year-old George Burns doing “Fixing A Hole?”  Frampton has to be one of the least charismatic leading men of all time, delivering his songs as if he’s auditioning for the chorus of Donny and Marie.  Legendary Beatles producer, George Martin, should be forced to give back all the royalties he made for creating this wreck of a film.   Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Info
Forgotten Film:   Sounder (1972)   This four-time Academy nominated film tells the story of a Black sharecropper family in the depression era south and their son who is forced to become a man before his time.  Paul Winfield, as the father, is convicted of a petty crime and sent way to a prison camp.  His family has to keep the farm alive in his absence.  This burden falls on the mother, played by the incredible Cicely Tyson, and on the oldest son, played by Kevin Hooks.  The son is eventually sent to find his father and experiences amazing adventures on his journey.  A moving film that uses strong performances from its cast and a brilliant soundtrack from bluesman, Taj Mahal, to create an emotional and touching story of family, struggle and perseverance.   Sounder Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD)
Win Win (2011)   Paul Giamatti is a small town lawyer struggling to keeps his practice open and supplements his income by moonlighting as a high school wrestling coach. A troubled teenager (played by Alex Shaffer) shows up at an elderly client’s doorstep and, through a series of events, Giamatti and his family take him in.  Things start unraveling when the teen’s mother comes to town.  If you liked Little Miss Sunshine and Juno, then you should see this warm and touching film.  My Rating:  Full Price   Win Win Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea)
The Thing (2011)   A remake or is it a prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter film of the same name?  At an Antarctica research site, an alien craft is discovered, and then people start dying.   Can’t scientists learn that it’s not wise to drill into an alien craft, especially if you are out in the middle of nowhere?  And, it’s never a good sign when you see the trailer, and you don’t recognize any of the actors other than the girl from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.   The Thing Website

Weird Credits:   From the credits of Fright Night (2011):  Jerry’s Vampire Vocals

Flictionary (a definition of a film term):  Foley Artist:  The person who creates many of the ambient noises in a film, such as footsteps or glass breaking.  Foley, the effects-making process, is done in a recording studio, and various, unrealized props are used to re-create the sounds you hear (and maybe take for granted) in a film.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  50/50   Adam (played by Inception’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a writer at a radio station who finds out he has cancer with only a 50/50 chance at survival.  His girlfriend (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) and his best friend (played by funnyman Seth Rogen) rally around him for support, but he doesn’t really come to grips with what he is dealing with until he meets a woman (played by Anna Kendrick) who is training to become a therapist.   50/50 Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, August 19, 2011

30 Minutes or Less

My View:  30 Minutes or Less:  Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) is a pizza delivery guy who is kidnapped, gets a bomb strapped to his chest and is told he has ten hours to rob a bank, or it’s boom. He enlists his best friend, Chet (played by Aziz Ansari) to help him rob the bank, but things just don’t go right for the pair.  This is a comedy that has quite a bit of action and violence and, as with most recent films, goes for the cheap, crude joke.  I was disappointed that Eisenberg would stoop to do a film this bad as he has done some funny stuff in the past (Advertureland and Zombieland). With this film, the pizza was late, it wasn't what we ordered and it was cold. By the way, if you stay to the end of the film, you may want to hang through the credits as there is some bonus footage, but…why would you…stay?   My rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again   30 Minutes or Less Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst film of all time)
#37 Best Film
Kings Row  (1942)  Ronald Reagan and Robert Cummings play two young men growing up in a small town during the turn of the twentieth century.  Cummings is an idealistic man who is studying to be a doctor; Reagan is a carefree guy who is rich and enjoys being single.  There are troubles in this seemingly perfect community, and the two are forced to make choices in their lives that will affect their friendships and the lives of others.  Master cinematographer, James Wong Howe, does an incredible job of lighting this B&W masterpiece, and Reagan gives the performance of his lifetime.   Kings Row Info
Forgotten Film:  The Accidental Tourist  (1988)  After suffering through the accidental death of his son and his crumbling marriage, William Hurt plays a travel book writer who is just trying to make it through another day.  One day, he takes his dog to a dog trainer and meets a woman that changes his outlook on life.  Hurt gives a brilliant performance as the downtrodden writer, but it’s Geena Davis, as the single mom dog trainer, who steals this movie.   The Accidental Tourist Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD):  The Conspirator (2011)  Robert Redford directed this true story of trial of the mother (played by Robin Wright) of one of the conspirators of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.  A young lawyer (played by James McAcoy) comes to her aid as the government stream rolls the case against her.  Wright’s performance is worth seeing when she plays a mother who is willing to die for her son.  My Rating:  Cable   The Conspirator Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  The Sitter  Jonah Hill is a suspended college student who is forced to take a babysitting job.  In a rip–off of a much loved Adventures in Babysitting(1987), Hill takes the three kids he’s babysitting on a night of bar-hopping while trying to avoid drug dealers.  Man, does he know how to treat kids to an adventurous night.   The Sitter Info

Weird Credits:   From the credits of The Devil’s Double (2011):  Tax Shelter Financing

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Contagion  This thriller is about a team of doctors who try to halt the rapid expansion of a deadly outbreak of an unknown virus that has the potential to kill half the world in only months.  The all-star lineup is the attraction of this film with a headliner cast of Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.   Contagion Info
Until Next Time!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Help

My View:  The Help   Emma Stone plays Skeeter Phelan, a recent college graduate who returns home in 1962 to Montgomery,  Mississippi to work for the local paper.  She befriends two maids (played by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer) and decides to write a tell-all book about their lives, working in the world of the privileged.  This is a touching movie.  While Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard (who plays the queen bee of the society ladies) are entertaining to watch, the heart of this film is the moving performances by Spencer and especially Viola Davis, whom, I predict, will be in the nominee mix for a supporting actress Oscar nod.  When I saw this film, the audience, rightly so, clapped at the end.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Help Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst films of all time)
#37 Worst Film:
Neighbors  (1981)  John Belushi is Earl, a mild-mannered middle class husband with a wife and kid, living the quiet life in suburbia.  It all changes when loud-mouthed Vic (Dan Aykroyd) moves next door with his wife, Ramona (played by Cathy Moriarty). While Aykroyd is fun to watch as the out-of-control character who creates a hellish world for his neighbors, Belushi appears as though he just wants out of this picture.  He apparently was so unhappy with the direction, he spent much of the shooting schedule drunk. Director, John Avildsen, seems to never decide if he is making a sit-com or a black comedy, and the film never settles into anything watchable.  Watching this film will make you want to sing the blues.   Neighbors Info
Forgotten Film:  The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings  (1976)  Billy Dee Williams plays a pitcher in the 1930’s, who acts out against the team owner, leaves the team and convinces other all star caliber players to join him on an All-Star team to barnstorm the Midwest.  The cast of players include James Earl Jones and a young Richard Pryor, who is very funny as a player who is always trying to figure out a way he can break into the big leagues.  This is a comical, well written film that showcases a long-forgotten segment of American history.   Bingo Long Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Jane Eyre  (2011)  This film, part romance, part horror, is  worth watching because of the two leads, Mia Wasikodska, who plays the plain and headstrong Jane, and Michael Fassbender, who plays the love of her life, the mysterious and troubled Mr. Rochester.  Jane has been hired to be a governess by Mr. Rochester, a man she, at first, finds cold and aloof, but soon falls in love with.  She soon discovers, however,  he may be hiding a terrible secret.  Waskiodska is brilliant in the part as she brings a multilayered performance to this role, much better than her other starring role in Alice In Wonderland.   My Rating:  Full Price   Jane Eyre Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Warrior:  Two brothers, who are struggling to survive in today’s world, meet in the finals of a mixed martial arts tournament.  Note to reader:  Please read the following sentence while listening to dramatic music.  The youngest brother is fighting to escape the demons of his past; the older brother is fighting for the survival of his marriage and family.   But one brother has an edge over the other, as his trainer is their father.  Wait!  Maybe it’s not an edge.  The father is played by Nick Nolte.  Could be game over for that fighter.  Warrior Website

Weird Credits From the credits of Salvation Boulevard:  Lizard Wrangler

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)  A new horror film written and produced by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) about a young girl sent to live with her father and his girlfriend.  Early in the film, the girl discovers there are creatures living in the house, and they want to claim her as one of their own.  This film is getting noticed as a scary movie that is also intelligent - something that is rare these days in Hollywood.   Don't Be Afraid of the Dark Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

My View:  Cowboys & Aliens:  This is one of those movies that you won't hate but you also won't really like.  You think this film “just has to be good,” but it's just not.  Jon Favreau follows up his Iron Man movies with this tale of a man (played by 007 Daniel Craig) in the 1870s Wild West, who wakes up with no memory and in the middle of nowhere, with a big, metal bracelet on his wrist.   He finds his way to the nearest town, a town that is soon under attack by…wait for it…aliens in spaceships.  And so our adventure begins.  While Craig and Harrison Ford, who plays the town’s robber baron, do an adequate job as cowboys, the weak link in this film is Olivia Wilde, the mysterious girl whom Craig is destined to get involved with.  Wilde seems to sleepwalk through her lines, and there's no fire in her performance, a role where supposedly she has survived the wide open west on her own.  I’m not saying this film would have been great with someone else (like Michelle Williams) in the role, but the film may have, at least, kept us awake before the big battle with the alien bad guys.   My rating:  Bargain Matinee   Cowboys & Aliens Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst films of all time)
#38 Best Film 
The Last of the Mohicans  (1992):  Michael Mann (Heat, Ali) directed this dazzling film about life in colonial America during the French and Indian War.  Daniel Day-Lewis plays Hawkeye, a trapper raised by the Mohican tribe, who becomes involved with the British army in their fight against the French.  Hawkeye is reluctant to join the fight until he meets the daughter of a British general, played by the gorgeous Madeleine Stowe.  Day-Lewis is perfect in his role, and he brings to the screen a quiet intensity in a man you can count on in a fight.  Incredible cinematography, beautiful North Carolina scenery and intense battle sequences make this a film that is quite memorable.   The Last of the Mohicans Info
Forgotten Film:  Flipped (2010)  This Rob Reiner-directed film was in theaters for about one minute last fall, which is sad because this is an amazing film, reminiscent of Reiner’s classic, Stand by Me.  Set in the 1960s, Flipped tells the story of a young boy and girl who live across the street from each other.  Juli (played by Madeline Carroll) falls in love with Bryce (played by Callan McAuliffe) the moment she meets him, but Bryce thinks Juli, who raises chickens and likes to sit in trees, is a little weird.  Their story is told "flipping" from one perspective of a boy's to a girl’s perspective.  As the boy and girl mature, we see, through their eyes, their blossoming relationship and the trials and tribulations of growing up.  This is a extraordinary film that has just the right amount of humor and heart to make it very enjoyable.   Flipped Website
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD) Soul Surfer   (2011)   This film is based on the true life story of Bethany Hamilton, a talented and promising surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack.  AnnaSophia Robb does well in the lead role as Bethany, and Dennis Quaid/Helen Hunt make a surprising turn (how the mighty have fallen) as Hamilton's parents; but the Christian overtones in this movie are just so over-the-top that the film becomes almost too uncomfortable to watch.  Another downfall is Carrie Underwood as Bethany's religious go-to person, who tries really hard to act but just can't.  My Rating:  Cable   Soul Surfer Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Apollo 18   It turns out there was a mission to the moon that the government has never admitted.  It's being called Blair Witch in Space, but didn't we just determine by watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon what exactly is located there?   Apollo 18 Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Tabloid:  Vagina Dentata illustration by

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Restless   Directed by Indie favorite, Gus Van Sant.  Mia Wasikowska plays a terminally ill girl who falls for a boy, played by Henry Hopper.  The boy likes to attend funerals and has a sidekick who is the ghost of a World War II kamikaze pilot.  This is right down Van Sant's alley.   Restless Website
Until Next Time!