Friday, October 28, 2011

The Rum Diary

My View:  The Rum Diary  (2011)   Based on the book by “Gonzo Journalist” Hunter S. Thompson, Johnny Depp plays a failed novelist who moves to Puerto Rico to work at a local newspaper.  The newspaper is staffed by hard-drinking, jaded men, so Depp’s character fits in nicely.  To earn money, Depp begins working for a shady publicist (played by Aaron Eckhart) who is trying to push a land deal.  Depp instantly falls in love with the publicist’s fiancée (played by the stunning Amber Heard) against the advice of his best friend, the newspaper photographer (played by Michael Rispoli).  While I enjoyed Depp’s performance, and this is certainly the best adaptation of a Thompson book, the film is too long (buy the big bag of popcorn - you’re going to need it) and has almost a disjointed feeling to it, as if the filmmakers couldn’t decide if the film was a comedy or a drama.  There are a few very funny scenes, including a couple of amusing car chases, but overall, the film can't match the wit and wisdom of the writer Depp is playing, Hunter S. Thompson.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Rum Diary Website
Indyfest (A Look at a Small, Indie or Foreign Film):  The Mighty Macs  (2011)  Based on a true story, Carla Gugino (Mr. Popper’s Penguins) plays a recently hired women’s basketball coach at a small, all-woman’s Catholic college. It’s 1971, and the NCCA conducts its first woman’s championship.  Gugino takes on a team who doesn’t even have a gym to practice in and teaches the young women how to win.  While a little smaltzy (the film often goes for the heartstrings when it should back down a little), I highly recommend this film for young girls.  The film’s message to girls:  If you believe in yourself, you can do anything.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Mighty Macs Website
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time):
#32  Best Film
To Kill A Mockingbird  (1962)   Based on the Harper Lee novel of the same name, this magnificent film is one of the best adaptations ever done.  In his Oscar-winning  role, Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch, a widowed father  of two kids, younger sister, Scout, and her older brother, Jem, whom he raises in a small southern town in the 1930’s.  Peck is hired to defend a black man who is accused of raping a white girl.  The film brilliantly captures small town life and the innocence of children, who soon discover their father is a man of great conviction and courage.  Peck gives a profound performance, probably his best role ever, and screenwriter Horton Foote does the impossible - brings to the screen the exact feel and wonder of the book.    To Kill a Mockingbird Info
Forgotten Film:  The Omega Man (1971)  Before Will Smith (I, Robot and I Am Legend) and Tom Cruise (War of the Worlds), there was Charlton Heston, who saved the human race from Apocalyptic times in films such as Soylent Green and Planet of the Apes.  In this film, Heston plays a scientist who is the last human on earth, as the rest of the world has either died from a plague or become a sort of zombie/vampire and part of a cult called, “The Family.”  Heston uses his wit, electricity (the Family is nocturnal and sensitive to light) and a whole lot of guns to battle the bad guys.  Heston overacts in this film, but it’s so much fun when he delivers certain lines such as (right after crashing a car), “There’s never a cop around when you need one.”  This is a perfect film to watch late night, especially during Halloween.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee    The Omega Man Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Captain America: The First Avenger   I really liked this film and thought it was one of the better super hero films of the summer.  It tells the origins of Captain America (played by Chris Evens) who goes from a 4-F runt of a man, is injected by the government with some sort of super serum and becomes a fighting machine.  A smashing story-line, rousing special effects and a love interest for the Captain in Hayley Atwell made it a fine setup to next year’s release of Joss Whedon’s, The Avengers.   My Rating: Full Price   Captain America Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  The Son of No One  Pretty boy, Channing Tatum, stars as a young cop assigned to the neighborhood where he grew up, but there is a secret that could destroy him and his family.  Katie Holmes is in this film - my personal marker that this movie is going to stink.   The Son of No One Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Rum Diary:  Contact Lens Technician

Flictionary (a Definition of a Film Term)  Sound Mixer:   An audio engineer who works with the Boom Operator.  Sound Mixers are responsible for all recording of sound on the set or on location.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Secret World of Arrietty   Based on the beloved children’s book, The Borrowers, this animated film, from the makers of the Oscar-winning, Spirited Away, tells the story of the Clock family,  a very tiny family who lives in secret in another family’s home.  When the daughter, Arrietty, is discovered by the normal sized boy in the house, the Clocks’ world gets turned upside down.   The Secret World of Arrietty Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 21, 2011


My View:  Footloose (2011)  A remake of the 1984 film.  Newcomer, Kenny Wormald, stars as a kid from Boston who recently lost his mother to leukemia and goes to live with relatives in BomontGA.  He soon discovers that this is no ordinary town.  Bomont banned dancing and loud music three years ago after the tragic deaths of 5 teenagers on their way home from a party.  Wormald encounters the preacher’s daughter, Dancing with the Stars Julianne Hough, whose father is the town’s preacher/councilman, played by Dennis Quaid.  Hough struggles with her acting and makes every scene she is in almost painful to watch.  Miles Teller is fun as the goofy best friend who can't dance, but he doesn't match what Chris Penn delivered in the original.  The surprising thing about this film is it updates the 1984 film, but it keeps several of the songs from the original film, including the title song.  Much of the soundtrack, though, has a strange country twang to it.  The big difference between the original film and this one is while Wormald is a great dancer, he lacks the charisma and star power of Kevin Bacon, the original’s star.  Bacon was able to change the town's mind about the anti-dancing law because he could inspire people to do greater things.  Wormald can only inspire people to do better dance moves.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Footloose Website
Indyfest (A Look at a Small, Indie or Foreign Film):  Tucker and Dale vs. Evil  (2011):  Tucker and Dale are best friends who are headed to their new vacation cabin (a fixer upper), but there is something you need to know about them:  they are hillbilly rednecks.  A bunch of preppy college kids are headed to the same section of the woods near an isolated lake.  There is one thing that they all find out once they get to their camps…twenty years ago five college students mysteriously disappeared there.  The two groups encounter each other, and the college kids start dying.  The difference between this and other slasher films is this is a comedy, and the deaths are all accidental.   This is a funny film that uses all of the horror stereotypes to play for laughs.  Tyler Labine, who plays Dale (from TV programs Reaper and Mad Love), and  Alan Tudyk (Transformers:  Dark of the Moon), who plays Tucker, are brilliant as the dim-witted  hillbillies who don't quite get why anyone could be afraid of them.  If you are a fan of films like Shaun of the Dead and Attack the Block, you should see this very enjoyable movie.  My Rating:  Full Price   Tucker and Dale vs. Evil Website
The 50 (a Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#32 Worst Film
The Master of Disguise (2002)  Dana Carvey stars in what is considered one of the worst comedies of the decade and may be one of the worst comedies of all time.  Carvey plays Pistachio, an Italian waiter, who has inherited the uncanny ability to disguise himself.  He sets out to stop a criminal mastermind in an attempt to clear his family’s good name.  Carvey is painfully unfunny, and it's unclear if this film is aimed at kids or adults because one minute Carvey is a man who looks like a human turtle, and the next minute he is Tony from Scarface.  The jokes are not at all funny, the disguises are amateurish, and the whole painful experience feels like a bad movie made in 1982 not 2002.  It's rumored that this film ran out of funding during production, but it's too bad it didn't run out of money before it was made.  That could have saved us a lot of pain.   The Master of Disguise Info
Forgotten Film:  Buck and the Preacher  (1972)  Sidney Poitier (In the Heat of the Night) directed and starred in this unique Western film.   Poitier plays Buck, a trail boss who is leading a wagon-train full of former slaves on their way to the West.  During their journey, the travelers encounter The Preacher, played by Harry Belafonte (Uptown Saturday Night), a shady minister who Buck has to enlist to take the group to their destination.  The travelers also have to overcome a group of bandits who have the intent of stopping the wagon train.  This is an amazing film full of humor and remarkable performances, with Poitier showing his superb directing touch.   My  Rating:  Full Price   Buck and the Preacher website
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Green Lantern   (2011)  While I liked Ryan Reynolds as the Lantern, he couldn't rise above a plot that looks like it was written in crayon, special effects that appear to be no better than a Power Rangers TV show, and one of the most anti-climactic battle sequences I have ever seen toward resolution in a film.  My Rating:  You Would Have to Pay Me to See It Again   Green Lantern Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  New Year's Eve (2011)  Another one of those holiday films that brings together as many stars as possible so you can forget how bad the plot really is.  Oh, and two of the "stars" of this film are Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Biel, both who have had quite a few bombs in recent releases.   New Years Eve Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Footloose:  The Producers wish to thank the Meteorology Department of WXIA-TV.

Flictionary (a Definition of a Film Term):  Boom Operator  While the Boom Operator is responsible for the operation of the boom microphone (a microphone attached to the end of a pole or crane), this position is also responsible for almost all microphone placement, including wireless mics.  The Boom Operator works very closely with the production sound mixer and confirms that the correct type of microphones are used to get the best sound results.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close  This highly anticipated film has an all- star cast headlined by Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.  Directed by Stephen Daldry (The ReaderBilly Elliot), this film is the story of a nine year-old boy who searches the streets of New York City for the lock that matches the key left by his father who died in the 9/11 attacks.   Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Until Next Time!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Ides of March

My View:  The Ides of March:   George Clooney, who wrote and directed this film, stars as a top Presidential candidate who is in a neck-and-neck race to get the Democratic nomination.  Ryan Gosling (Drive) plays his top media strategist who believes that Clooney’s character is the man for the job.  Things start to go wrong for Gosling when he takes a phone call from the campaign manager of the rival candidate.  This is an old fashioned political thriller with many twists and turns.  Clooney is surprisingly only a supporting character in this film.  In fact, Philip Seymour Hoffman (Clooney’s campaign manager) and Paul Giamatti (the rival campaign manager) have almost as much screen time.  I liked this film, but I didn’t love it, and I think it’s because Gosling just doesn’t have much of a range as an actor. That’s not a good thing when you’re in a film with Clooney, Giamatti and Hoffman.    My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Ides of March Website
Indyfest (A Look at a Small, Indie or Foreign Film):  Restless   Mia Wasikowska (Alice in WonderlandThe Kids Are All Right) plays a girl who is dying of cancer.  She meets a strange, shy boy (played by newcomer Henry Hopper) at a funeral.  She soon discovers that he attends strangers’ funerals for fun and has a ghost, a dead Japanese kamikaze pilot, as a best friend.  The couple begins hanging out and eventually falls in love, but his dark past and her coming death are big obstacles to overcome.  Wasikowska is sharp and appealing as the intelligent girl who is doomed to die, and Hooper is pleasant as the troubled boyfriend.  While the film is about a dying girl, it’s more about the message of living life to its fullest while you can.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Restless Website
The 50 (a Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time)
#33 Best Film
Bringing Up Baby (1938)  This film, directed by Howard Hawks, is the quintessential “Screwball Comedy,” and its plot has been copied many times.  Cary Grant plays a befuddled paleontologist on the brink of getting a 1 million dollar donation for his museum.  He is engaged to his capable assistant, who runs and organizes his life.  His world is turned upside down when he meets a young heiress (played by Katharine Hepburn) who, at every turn, complicates his life.  This movie moves at almost breathtaking speed with hilarious scenes and lines rapidly played out.  How can you not love a film that has a leopard named “Baby?”   Bringing Up Baby Website
Forgotten Film:  The Stunt Man (1980)  Steve Railsback plays a man who is on the run from the police.  While fleeing, he comes upon a movie being made about World War I and accidentally causes the death of one of the stunt men.  The director of the film (played by Peter O’Toole in an Oscar nominated role) knows what has happened and makes a deal that he won’t say anything if Railsback takes the dead man’s place.  Peter O’Toole is brilliant as the eccentric film director who puts Railsback in more and more dangerous stunts as the film is shot.  Barbara Hershey is absolutely gorgeous as the actress starring in the WWI film and who falls in love with Railsback, much to the displeasure of O’Toole.  This is a fascinating film, and much like the character Railsback plays, you don’t know if what you’re seeing is make believe or real.   My Rating:  Full Price   The Stunt Man Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD): Horrible Bosses (2011)  I didn’t like this movie when I reviewed it in July.  I wanted more of the bosses (played by Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell) and less of the three employees (played by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) who try to kill their bosses.  The movie goes for the cheap laugh too often and wastes the talents of the cast.  My Rating:  Cable   Horrible Bosses Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Johnny English Reborn   I’m not a big Rowan Atkinson fan, so I doubt I will be seeing this 007 spoof film about a bumbling English spy - a sequel to Johnny English (2003).  Yeah, I haven’t heard about that film either.   Johnny English Reborn website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Ides of March:  Executive Producer – Leonardo DiCaprio

Flictionary (a Definition of a Film Term):  Script Supervisor:  Responsible for keeping track of what has been shot and is in charge of continuity.  The Script Supervisor takes pictures and makes notes so that everything appears to look the same to ensure continuity from shot to shot.  This position works very closely with the prop department and the director.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  My Week With Marilyn   Michelle Williams plays Marilyn Monroe in this film about the making of the movie, The Prince and the Showgirl.  Williams rarely disappoints, and this will be the first non-Harry Potter film for Hermione Granger.   My Week With Marilyn Website
Until Next Time!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


My View:  50/50  Based on a true story, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of SummerInception) plays a producer of an NPR-like radio station.  His world is shattered when he is diagnosed with Cancer.  The disease is so severe that he has only a 50 percent chance of survival. He must deal with his life-threatening illness while interacting with a selfish girlfriend (played by The Help's Bryce Dallas Howard), an overly protective mother (Anjelica Huston), and a best friend (Knocked Up's Seth Rogen) whose main occupation is to get as many girls in bed as possible.  He also is only the third patient his therapist (played by Up In The Air's Anna Kendrick) has ever seen.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays his role with usual, understated grace, and Anna Kendrick is fun to watch as the inexperienced therapist who seems to try every cliché’ in the book to treat Gordon-Levitt.  Surprisingly, I found that Rogen was the weak link in this movie, which is interesting because in real life, he is the best friend of the screenwriter, Will Reiser, and supported him when he had a cancer scare.  This comedy has heart and will make you laugh and cry.  My Rating:  Full Price   50/50 Website
Indyfest (A Look at a Small, Indie or Foreign Film):  1911  In the 100th film of Jackie Chan's career, Chan plays a hero of the founding of the Republic of China when revolutionary forces overthrew the Qing Dynasty that ruled for over 200 years.  This is not a typical Jackie Chan film (in which he also co-directed) as there is only one scene of martial arts (what he is known for), and his performance is very restrained, devoid of the humor that we have come to know in his films.  The film tries to be as historically accurate as possible, but, what I think is probably its greatest fault is the storyline is just very boring and extremely complicated.  While the war scenes are thrilling, too much of the movie is talking heads and, at times, it feels like the script was written by a committee where revolutionary ideals are pounded into the film.  My Rating:  Cable   1911 Website
The 50 (a Movie From My Best Worst Films of All Time)
#33 Worst Film
Xanadu (1980)  Olivia Newton-John stars as Kira, a muse sent to earth to inspire a mortal and down-on-his luck artist (played by one of the worst leading men of all time, Michael Beck).  But, Kira goes too far and gets into trouble with the gods because she falls in love with the artist.  The great Gene Kelly (in his last film) plays a former big-band leader with dreams of opening a new night club.  This is a musical, and the music was done by Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra.  Some of the songs are almost tolerable, but the dance numbers are bad as some happen on roller skates (they were big in the disco era), and the camera work is just horrible, shot with little thought.  The most amazing thing about this film is an appearance by the alt-rock band, The Tubes.    Xanadu Info
Forgotten Film:  Jeremiah Johnson  (1972)  Robert Redford plays Jeremiah Johnson, a man who decides he wants to become a trapper, a mountain man, in the harsh weather of the Utah Rocky Mountains.  Along the way, he encounters Indians, fellow trappers and settlers in this beautiful but dangerous wilderness.  This is a truly gorgeous film that captures the beauty of Utah, and we follow Johnson as he traps his way across the territory, battling both weather and Indians.  He even finds love and rescues an Indian woman from an attack by a warring tribe.  This is one of Redford best roles, and he definitely delivers throughout the film.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See It Again   Jeremiah Johnson Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Buck (2011)  This documentary is about the real life horse whisperer, Buck Brannaman, who can seemingly train a horse by just walking into the ring.  It’s an amazing story of a man, who, as a child, was abused but has taken that experience to become a better man.  While he trains horses for a living, he really trains people on how to deal and understand horses.  It is an inspiring film about an extraordinary man.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again.   Buck Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Puss In Boots  A spin-off of the popular Shrek series, the sword-fighting cat (voiced by Antonio Banderas) is headlining his own movie.  I always felt that this was the weakest character in the Shrek movies, and I can see how the Banderas’ accent could get old really fast.   Puss In Boots Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of 50/50:  Marlowe the Wonder Dog - Herself

Flictionary (a Definition of a Film Term): Greensman:  In charge of the arrangement and landscape design of plants or foliage in a film.  Depending on the film, this can be a small job, as in creating some plants in an apartment, or it could be a larger job, for example, creating and arranging foliage on location, in outdoor shoots.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  J. Edgar  The life and times of J. Edgar Hoover, the Head of the F.B.I. for more than 50 years. Clint Eastwood directs Leonardo DiCaprio.  I don't think I need to say anymore.   J. Edgar Website
Until Next Time!