Review Young Adult

Grow up.
Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) left her (fictional) hick town of Mercury, MN to move to the big city. In this case, that city is Minneapolis. Her job is a ghost writer for a once popular young adult series. When she gets an email letting her know that her old high school flame, Buddy (Patrick Wilson) has just welcomed a child. Mavis, recently divorced, decides that she's going to go "save" buddy from what she thinks is an unhappy marriage that traps him in the small down. She runs into fellow classmate, Matt, (Patton Oswald) whom she never gave the time of day before, and drunkenly tells him her master plan. He attempts to knock some sense into her.

Young Adult is Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody's 2nd collaboration, and you have to give them credit for being gutsy enough to center their film around a completely unlikable character. Diablo Cody's signature dialogue is thankfully toned down and Theron and Oswald thrive off of their off beat chemistry. What I didn't like about the film was there was no redemption. I suppose that sets it apart from most films where the main character gets a serious reality check, but not having that happy ending hurt it in my opinion. Sure, Mavis realizes she needs to get the hell away from her small town, and as a small town girl, I can relate, but she never stopped being a heinous bitch. Her one redeeming moment at the end of the film is ruined by the fact that she still doesn't care about other people and that soured the movie for me. I just wanted her to apologize, and she never does.

Young Adult isn't a bad film, but it's certainly Reitman's worse. Even though I didn't like the final note, I can't say that I hated watching it. One minor gripe from a Minnesotan - NO one refers to Minneapolis as just "the city." It's always "The Cities" because of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Minor gripe that I'm surprised wasn't addressed when making it.

Recommended: Yes, for Reitman fans.

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "I see you got a KenTacoHut." - Mavis (Charlize Theron)

Indie Gems: Ghost World

Back in the day when Thora Birch was more famous than Scarlett Johansson

Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) are two recent high school graduates who are total outsiders. They spend most of their days pestering creeps, when they decide to play a mean prank on Seymour ,(Steve Buscemi) a pathetic looking man they find in the classifieds. Enid actually finds herself feeling bad for him and forms a relationship that will test her friendship with Rebecca, and possibly reshape her future forever.

I'm a big fan of Birch's work and I think this is one of her best movies. She plays the outsider so well, yet she's so likable and relatable. Johansson doesn't have a lot to do here, which is fine because she's certainly the weaker of the two. Buscemi is perfect as Seymour. He's creepy and heartwarming at the same time.

Ghost World was the first film based off of a graphic novel to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars. That alone is pretty cool.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "By the end of this summer, you're gonna be up to your neck in pussy." - Enid (Thora Birch)

DVD Review: Jane Eyre

Everyone has secrets.

Some are just a little more drastic than others. Jane Eyre (Mia Wasikowska) has had a tough life. Her parents died when she was young, she was forced to live with an aunt (Sally Hawkins, not her usual lovely self) that hates her. She goes to work for a man, Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender) and eventually falls in love. But it's not that simple.

I've never read Jane Eyre and had never seen any of the previous adaptations. This one interested me at first because Ellen Page was supposed to play the lead. I cannot imagine her in the role, I thought Mia did well. Both she and Fassbender were interesting leads, and it was nice to see small roles by Judi Dench and Jamie Bell thrown in there too. Since I had not read the book the ending genuinely surprised me. I have to admit I was expecting Jane and St John to start furiously making out there for a second. The film sets a dark and dreary town, but doesn't come off as overly depressing. I can't compare it to the other films, but I'm glad I started with this one.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Kill you? Those words are unfeminine and untrue." - St. John Rivers (Jamie Bell)

Indie Gems: Terri

We've all been there.

Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is an overweight teen who is teased at school and is tasked with taking care of his sick uncle at home. He forms a bond with his off beat vice principal, Mr. Fitzgerald. (John C. Reilly) Mr F takes notice of the outcasts and meets with them weekly. He pretends to ream them to amuse his secretary, but he generally cares about where they go in life. When Terri sticks up for another classmate, Heather (Olivia Crocicchia) his life starts to go in a different direction.


There's lots of dry humor in Terri, and Reilly and Wysocki carry the show. They have wonderful chemistry. You generally feel bad for Terri, and root for him even though he makes some questionable choices. For me, it was a little weird seeing Crocicchia, who played little Katy Gavin on Rescue Me in a more grown up and promiscuous role. In the end, it is a loving and cute little film. While not the best, nor the worst, it deserves to be seen if you are a fan of Reilly.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "I knew this kid growing up who tied flaming tennis balls to cats' tails and loved every minute of it. I think he's a cop now."

DVD Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Love hurts.

Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) are getting a divorce. Their young son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo) has a thing for his babysitter Jessica. (Analeigh Tipton) Jessica has a thing for Cal. Cal goes to a swanky bar to drink his depression away when he meets Jacob, (Ryan Gosling) a ladies man that shows him how to pick up chicks. Jacob eventually finds himself settling down when he meets Hannah. (Emma Stone) Did you catch all that? Everyone is connected in Crazy, Stupid, Love; a comedy that tells you how love really is.

The movie was filled with cliches, but still managed to stay aware of them. It also contained one of the most interesting "family show down" moments I've seen in awhile. Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei have small roles, but they feel wasted after being so heavily focused on in the movie's many trailers. I didn't find the movie particularly funny, there weren't any scenes that made me laugh out loud. I can appreciate the little things, like the costume designs for the folks in the bar (dapper suits, sophisticated dresses, fashionable heels.) The babysitter and son storyline was actually pretty funny. Oh, and Ryan Gosling is really, really hot. Any movie featuring him nearly naked automatically gets a higher grade than it deserves.

Recommended: Yes, it's a mediocre movie, but I wouldn't call it bad.

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "He doesn't know that I'm in love with him and he doesn't know about the naked pictures!" - Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) 

Review: The Descendants

Now what?

Matt King (George Clooney) is a lawyer and the trustee of a large chunk of land on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. While he's making the difficult decision on who to sell it too, he suffers a personal blow much greater: His wife has been in a boating accident, and will never come out of the coma it has put her in. This leaves Matt to raise his two daughters, the bad girl Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and the middle finger loving Scottie. (Amara Miller) on his own. Matt knows that Alexandra and her mother fought about something before her accident, and he encourages her to let it go. But she can't. You see, his wife had been cheating on him. Matt had no idea, now he's trying to find the man that his wife was in love with.

The Descendants at first felt a lot like Up In The Air, which I loved, so I didn't mind. It eventually morphed into it's own movie. I've never been on the Clooney bandwagon, but after Up In The Air I started to take more notice, and after this film, I'm firmly on board. I thought Clooney was tremendous as a grieving father with some tough choices to make. I was also very impressed with Woodley, who I've only seen in passing on her show The Secret Life. I enjoyed the classic Hawaiian music they played through out, and of course the beautiful scenery. The story was fantastic, instead of being the revenge flick that it very well could be, it's endearing and even a tear jerker. Small parts by Judy Greer and Matthew Lillard were a nice touch as well.

The Descendants is by far one of the best films I've seen all year.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Why did you tell me in the pool!?" - Alexandra (Shailene Woodley)

Indie Gems: Beautiful Boy

Do you blame the parents?

While I've been waiting patiently for We Need To Talk About Kevin to come my way, I started looking around for movies like it just for kicks. This is how I came across Beautiful Boy.

Kate (Maria Bello) and Bill (Michael Sheen) are a couple that's possibly on the edge of getting a divorce. They're growing apart, and with their only son away at college what's holding them back? That is until their son, Sam (Kyle Gallner) opens fire on campus and kills 17 other people before killing himself. They are now not only faced with the difficult decision of what to do in wake of this tragedy, but now their feelings towards each other will get the ultimate test.

What this movie did very well was show us the raw emotions that Kate and Bill are going through. They don't know why Sammy did what he did, and neither do  we. A video Sammy made for the world to see is only shown in part, so we don't get an answer. It shows us how miserable that must be to be the parents of a murderer, you ask yourself "Is this my fault?" "Was I a bad parent?" I thought Bello and Sheen were top notch as the troubled couple, and a scene with them in their hotel room is particularly powerful.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I wish we never would've had him!" - Bill (Michael Sheen)



2010 Golden Globe Nominees:

My thoughts, as always are in green.

Best Drama
The Descendants
The Help
Hugo
The Ides of March
Moneyball
War Horse

The biggest surprise here for me is The Ides of March. That movie had a tremendous cast, but was very mediocre. I thought Deathly Hallows 2 might have slipped in here since it's the Globes, but I guess not. I would've had Drive and Martha Marcy May Marlene in here instead of Ides and Hugo.

Best Comedy/Musical
50/50
The Artist
Bridesmaids
Carnage
Midnight in Paris
My Week with Marilyn
SO Happy that 50/50 deservingly got in here! I would definitely say it's between this and the Artist. I haven't seen My Week with Marilyn yet, but I thought it looked like a drama. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope Bridesmaids doesn't win.

Best Animated Film
Arthur Christmas
Cars 2
Rango
Puss in Boots
The Adventures of Tintin

There wasn't a single animated film that interested me this year. The closest to it was probably Rango.
Best Foreign Language Film
The Flowers of War
In the Land of Blood and Honey
The Kid With a Bike
A Separation
The Skin I Live In
I haven't seen any of these, but thanks to a dork at work, I know exactly what happens in The Skin I Live In.

Best Actor in a Drama
George Clooney, The Descendants
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
The Usual Suspects, It's a shame Michael Shannon didn't sneak in there for Take Shelter. Gosling should've been nominated for Drive, not Ides of March. At least Fassbender got in there after being forgotten at the SAGs.

Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brendan Gleeson, The Guard
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 50/50
Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris
Yay! Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Who's bias? Me, and I don't care. He's really the only nom I care about in this category, sadly it will probably go to Dujardin. Though, I here he was wonderful in The Artist.

Best Supporting Actor
 in a Motion Picture
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Albert Brooks, Drive
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method
Viggo is a nice surprise! Jonah Hill is not.

Best Actress in a Drama
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Where the hell is Elizabeth Olsen? I feel like Mara only got in there because The Globes love big budget movies and Dragon Tattoo is falling under that. I'm sure she's fine in it, but newcomer Olsen was great in Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy
Jodie Foster, Carnage
Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Kate Winslet, Carnage
Carnage is something I've been wanting to see, but it hasn't come out in my area. Glad to see it's getting some love.

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Shailene Woodley, The Descendants
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
I have a feeling this is what the Oscar's will look like too. This list, exactly.

Best Director

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
George Clooney, The Ides of March
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Again with the Ides of March. That's so surprising. They must really like Clooney. Thank God Von Trier and Malik aren't in here.

Best Screenplay for a Motion Picture
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants
Steve Zallian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin, Michael Lewis, Moneyball
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon, The Ides of March
I would've thrown out Ides and added 50/50. They are a dark horse for an Oscar nom.

Best Original Score in a Motion Picture
Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Abel Korzeniowski, W.E.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Howard Shore, Hugo
John Williams, War Horse

Best Original Song in a Motion Picture
“Hello Hello,” Gnomeo & Juliet
“The Keeper,” Machine Gun Preacher
“Lay Your Head Down,” Albert Nobbs
“The Living Proof,” The Help
“Masterpiece,” W.E.

Best TV Drama
American Horror Story
Boardwalk Empire
Boss
Game of Thrones
Homeland
Leaving out Breaking Bad is absurd. That's the best drama on television. Boss and Homeland? Really? I'll be rooting for Boardwalk I guess.

Best TV Comedy or Musical
Enlightened
Episodes
Glee
Modern Family
New Girl

I can't believe they left out 30 Rock. Wow.

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture
Cinema Verite
Downton Abbey
The Hour
Mildred Pierce
Too Big To Fail


Best Actor in a TV Drama
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Jeremy Irons, The Borgias
Kelsey Grammer, Boss
Well at least they had the decency to nominate Bryan Cranston, if they didn't the Globes would seriously be fucked. Lots of people turn in great performances, but Cranston kills it every time.

Best Actor in a TV Musical or Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 RockDavid Duchovny,
Californication
Johnny Galecki, The Big Bang Theory
Thomas Jane, Hung
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
That's pretty cool that Galecki got in here over Jim Parsons. I love Parsons, but seeing Galecki get some love is just as good.

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Made-for-TV Movie
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Idris Elba, Luther
William Hurt, Too Big To Fail
Bill Nighy, Page Eight
Dominic West, The Hour

Best Supporting Actor in TV Series, Mini-Series, or Made-for-TV Movie
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Paul Giamatti, Too Big To Fail
Guy Pearce, Mildred Pierce
Tim Robbins, Cinema Verite
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
No Aaron Paul? Fail.

Best Actress in a TV Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland
Mireille Enos, The Killing
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Madeleine Stowe, Revenge
Callie Thorne, Necessary Roughness
Callie Thorne for Necessary Roughness? This is like last year's Piper Perabo.


Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy
Laura Dern, Enlightened
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Laura Linney, The Big C
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
I'm glad to see Zooey, but I hear that show is awful. I'll have to watch it for myself.

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or Made-for-TV Movie
Romola Garai, The Hour
Diane Lane, Cinema Verite
Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey
Emily Watson, Appropriate Adult
Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce

Best Supporting Actress in TV Series, Mini-Series, or Made-for-TV Movie

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Kelly Macdonald, Boardwalk Empire
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Evan Rachel Wood, Mildred Pierce
Evan Rachel Wood!! FTW!

2012 SAG Award Nominations

My 2 cents are in green as always.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
DEMIÁN BICHIR / A BETTER LIFE
GEORGE CLOONEY / THE DESCENDANTS
LEONARDO DiCAPRIO / J. EDGAR
JEAN DUJARDIN /THE ARTIST
BRAD PITT /MONEYBALL
I'm surprised Michael Fassebender isn't in here for Shame. Or Ryan Gosling for Drive. I'm a bit disappointed Joseph Gordon-Levitt didn't get in there for 50/50. I think he'll have a better chance of a nom at the Globes. I find Pitt's nomination sort of amusing, he was great in Moneyball, but this was hardly his most difficult role.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
GLENN CLOSE /ALBERT NOBBS
VIOLA DAVIS /THE HELP
MERYL STREEP /THE IRON LADY
TILDA SWINTON /WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
MICHELLE WILLIAMS /MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
Does it seem like Meryl Streep gets nominated just for being herself? I think Elizabeth Olsen deserved to be here for Martha Marcy May Marlene. She should have Streep's spot. I haven't seen Swinton's performance, but I'm dying too. I expect Glenn Close takes it, her part seems the trickiest. No Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia, The movie really ruined it for her, her performance was great.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
KENNETH BRANAGH / MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
ARMIE HAMMER /J. EDGAR
JONAH HILL /MONEYBALL
NICK NOLTE /WARRIOR
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER /BEGINNERS
Jonah Hill doesn't belong here in my opinion. He wasn't spectacular in Moneyball, he just was playing a different character for once. I guess this is positive encouragement?

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
BÉRÉNICE BEJO /THE ARTIST
JESSICA CHASTAIN /THE HELP
MELISSA McCARTHY /BRIDESMAIDS
JANET McTEER /ALBERT NOBBS
OCTAVIA SPENCER /THE HELP
Love that Spencer and Chastain are here! Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids? She had some great lines but that movie is vastly overrated.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
THE ARTIST
BRIDESMAIDS
THE DESCENDANTS
THE HELP
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
The Help deserves this in my opinion. Again, I think Bridesmaids is overrated and it doesn't feel like it belongs here. I thought the cast of 50/50 was great. Why not them? Or Martha Marcy May Marlene? or Drive?

PRIMETIME TELEVISION

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
LAURENCE FISHBURNE /THURGOOD
PAUL GIAMATTI /TOO BIG TO FAIL
GREG KINNEAR /THE KENNEDYS
GUY PEARCE /MILDRED PIERCE
JAMES WOODS/TOO BIG TO FAIL
Mildred Pierce will take it home.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
DIANE LANE /CINEMA VERITE
MAGGIE SMITH /DOWNTON ABBEY
EMILY WATSON /APPROPRIATE ADULT
BETTY WHITE /HALLMARK HALL OF FAME: THE LOST VALENTINE
KATE WINSLET /MILDRED PIERCE
Again, Mildred Pierce will take it home.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
PATRICK J. ADAMS /SUITS
STEVE BUSCEMI /BOARDWALK EMPIRE
KYLE CHANDLER /FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
BRYAN CRANSTON /BREAKING BAD
MICHAEL C. HALL /DEXTER
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that Bryan Cranston is in here. Nobody deserves his award more. Nobody.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
KATHY BATES /HARRY’S LAW
GLENN CLOSE /DAMAGES
JESSICA LANGE /AMERICAN HORROR STORY
JULIANNA MARGULIES /THE GOOD WIFE
KYRA SEDGWICK / THE CLOSER
That's kind of cool that American Horror Story got in here, I don't watch the show, but I always applaud when a Freshman show snags it's first big nomination.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
ALEC BALDWIN /30 ROCK
TY BURRELL MODERN FAMILY
STEVE CARELL / THE OFFICE
JON CRYER /TWO AND A HALF MEN
ERIC STONESTREET MODERN FAMILY
Apparently the Critic's love Jim Parson's in The Big Bang Theory but not his peers? He's snubbed every year. Normally I'd assume Alec Baldwin will take it for the 5th or 6th time in a row, but after this whole Airplane business I'm not so sure anymore.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
JULIE BOWEN / MODERN FAMILY
EDIE FALCO / NURSE JACKIE
TINA FEY /30 ROCK
SOFIA VERGARA /MODERN FAMILY
BETTY WHITE /HOT IN CLEVELAND
I'm sick of Betty White. Plain and simple.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
BOARDWALK EMPIRE
BREAKING BAD
DEXTER
GAME OF THRONES
THE GOOD WIFE
Again, LOVE that Breaking Bad is in here. I hope it wins, it deserves it. On a side note I love that Boardwalk Empire included the child actors in the cast nomination. That's really sweet.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
30 ROCK
THE BIG BANG THEORY
GLEE
MODERN FAMILY
THE OFFICE
So happy The Big Bang Theory is in here! I know a lot of people hate it, but I'm not one of them. I expect Modern Family to win, but I'd love TBBT to.

DVD Review: 30 Minutes or Less

Life is hard when you're a pizza delivery guy.

Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) learns this the hard way. He's in a dead end job delivering pizzas, he hates his boss, oh, and two lazy lunatics (played by Danny McBride, in full Kenny Powers mode and Nick Swardson) strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank so that they can get $100,000 to kill Dwayne's (McBride) father. Nick pulls his reluctant friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari) along for the ride.

30 Minutes or Less is filled with laughs and some great one liners. The banter between Swardson and McBride is strong, they are clearly very talented comedic actors, but it's Eisenberg who carries the film. He's witty and amusing, yet convincing when he needs to be scared or stressed out. Michael Pena also has a hilarious part as the hit man that is hired to kill of Dwayne's father. At this point I'm not sure if Ansari has a lot to offer. He delivers every line exactly the same way. Thankfully he had some good material to work with.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "No, I'm holding the bomb." - Nick (Jesse Eisenberg)

Indie Gems: This Is Spinal Tap

Very loud.

Ahh Rob Reiner's cult classic. Most people love it, some think it's overrated. Even though I'm with the former, I can see the latter's point as well.

Marty DiBergi (Reiner) is filming a come back tour for an aging British band known as Spinal Tap. (Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer) He follows them around and gets up close and personal with their love lives, their friendship, and their determination to get people to their shows..even if they are confusing most of their fans.

The film felt very real and the soundtrack is top notch. At only 82 mins, it's a short film, but some scenes drag and make it feel longer. All of the actors fit their parts well (hell they've even performed as Spinal Tap live and made albums together), but it's really Reiner who stands out here. His directing intends to make Spinal Tap into a parody, but he adds on layers. There's plenty of laughs, and great dialogue.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Well, this piece is called 'Lick my Love Pump.'" - Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) 

DVD Review: Bad Teacher

Missed opportunities.

Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is a selfish gold digger, who after being dumped by her rich fiance finds herself going back to her day job of teaching. Her life now consists of raising money to get breast implants, finding a man to look after her, (possibly handsome new sub, Mr. Delacourte (Justin Timberlake) and dodging the come on's of gym teacher Mr. Gettis. (Jason Segal) There's also that feud with super peppy fellow teacher, Amy Squirrel. (Lucy Puch)


Bad Teacher had the raunch factor going, but failed to capitalize on almost every level. The comedic talent of Jason Segal is horribly wasted, Cameron Diaz seemed out of place and Lucy Punch's over dramatic schtick is getting a little old. The main problem exists in the script. Elizabeth is our main character. Therefore, she has to have something the audience can relate to right? Nope. There's nothing likable about Elizabeth. Her priorities are a mess, she's completely inappropriate, when she bests Amy Squirrel, are we supposed to be happy for her? We surely can't sympathize with her.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I'm going to suck your dick like I'm mad at it!" - Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz)

DVD Review: The Tree of Life

Did I miss something?

The movie I just watched is nothing like I thought it would be. Was Malick doing his best impression of Lars Von Trier?


Jack as an adult is played by Sean Penn. He's questioning the meaning of life and faith as an adult. His brother R.L died when he was 19 (we don't know how, we can just assume.) Jack reminisces about his childhood in Texas. His father, played by Brad Pitt is strict, his mother, played by Jessica Chastain is ethereal and meek. He thinks of the time spent with his two brothers. The lessons they learned, the things they did, both good and bad. All of this is littered with shots of oceans, stars, dinosaurs, (yep) and other things that are supposed to represent how God created the world we live in. It reminded me of something I might find on Deviantart.com.

Malick never shoots his actors straight on. The camera is always looking up, looking to the side, or behind them. The cast talk as if they are in a dream, they walk, and walk, and walk while mumbling what's going on in their minds. This works for a few scenes, then grows old. The shots of special effects made the film feel twice as long as it really was. Sean Penn stated in an interview that the movie that Malick put together on screen was not at all like the script he read, he said the emotion wasn't there. I completely understand where he is coming from. On paper, I bet this story was fantastic, it had all the makings to be a great coming of age story about a family that is halted by tragedy, but the way our director chose to edit it completely ruined whatever heart this film had. The ending in particular frustrated me. If Malick had chosen to shoot the film like a normal drama, the ending would've been beautiful and meaningful. Since the entire movie was filmed that way, it didn't feel special at all.

What a shame.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "The nuns taught us there were two ways through life - the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you'll follow."  - Mrs. O'Brien (Jessican Chastain)


Indie Gems: SLC Punk

Anarchy.

Stevo (Matthew Lillard) and Heroin Bob, (Michael A. Goorjian) who doesn't actually do heroin, or any other drug for that matter are two punks living in Salt Lake City, Utah. They are obviously out of place, Stevo's father wants him to go to Harvard like he did, but Stevo is more interested in anarchy than the law. The film follows the two men as they encounter various things in the punk rock scene.

SLC Punk is shot like a jerky documentary, which works tremendously with the theme of the film. Stevo narrates, and occasionally breaks the fourth wall to tell us about his daily routine, how he hates rednecks and neo-nazis, what a good concert is like, and ultimately the important life lesson he learns at the end. This role is perfect for Lillard who's usually accustomed to playing obnoxious characters, but he digs a little deeper into Stevo, and that's what makes this his best performance to date.

Recommended Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I wasn't ready for this!" - Stevo (Matthew Lillard)



Review: Martha Marcy May Marlene.

This is the only Olsen you need to care about.

I wanted to be the Olsen Twins when I was a child/tween. They had it all. As an adult I can look back and note that they did have it all...except acting talent. Luckily for us, little sister Elizabeth got all those acting chops and is getting off to a good start.


Martha, Marcy May, and Marlene are all the same person. Martha, (Elizabeth Olsen) is the real thing. A young woman that has spent the last two years of her life as part of a cult and has recently run away. Marcy May is what they called her there, and Marlene was the fake name her and the other women used when answering the phone. Martha has taken refuge with her older sister, Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and her husband Ted. (Hugh Dancy) She lies to them about where she's been, but that doesn't stop her from having disturbing flashbacks and dreams about her life with the cult and it's cunning leader, Patrick. (John Hawkes) She begins a downward spiral, and Lucy and Ted just aren't fit to help her.

We don't know why Martha ran away to a cult, and in a way it doesn't matter. What matters is she made a mistake and she was obviously messed with to the point where normal things about society are now abnormal and her outlook on life is naive. Olsen really captures a lot of emotion in her first role and has a bright future. Hawkes is creepy, and their scenes together are completely uncomfortable. The ending of the film is extremely abrupt and left opened. It's hard to be bothered by it when you think of the near endless possibilities that could happen to Martha after that final scene. It's quite fascinating.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "I am a teacher and a leader." - Martha (Elizabeth Olsen)



The Independent Spirit Award Nominees

As always, my 2 cents are in green. Great variety of films, many of them are on my list to see.

BEST FEATURE
50/50
Beginners
Drive
Take Shelter
The Artist Producer:
The Descendants

Glad to see 50/50 and Drive in there. Both two of my favorite movies of the year so far. Take Shelter is playing here, hopefully I can catch that soon.

BEST DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Mike Mills - Beginners
Jeff Nichols - Take Shelter
Alexander Payne - The Descendants
Nicolas Winding - Refn Drive


BEST SCREENPLAY
Joseph Cedar - Footnote
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Tom McCarthy - Win Win
Mike Mills - Beginners
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash - The Descendants

For some reason I thought Win Win would've qualified last year, It feels like that movie came out a long time ago. Haven't seen any of these films, but would like to.

BEST FIRST FEATURE
Another Earth 
In The Family
Margin Call
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Natural Selection
Seeing Martha Marcy May Marlene tomorrow! Very excited.

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

Another Earth
Margin Call
Terri
Cedar Rapids
50/50
Again, love that 50/50 is in here. Same with Cedar Rapids, though that movie feels like it came out so long ago as well. Terri is currently in my Netflix queue.

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD

Bellflower
Circumstance
Hello Lonesome

Pariah
The Dynamiter Writer
I have heard wonderful things about Pariah, I hope to check it out.

BEST FEMALE LEAD

Lauren Ambrose - Think of Me
Rachael Harris - Natural Selection
Alepero Oduye - Pariah
Elizabeth Olsen - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn
Good for Elizabeth Olsen, already out acting her sisters. Michelle Williams will probably take this home, I've heard wonderful things about My Week with Marilyn.


BEST MALE LEAD

Demián Bichir - A Better Life
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Ryan Gosling - Drive
Woody Harrelson - Rampart
Michael Shannon - Take Shelter
I'm bummed that Joseph Gordon-Levitt wasn't nominated for 50/50, but Ryan Gosling for Drive makes me happy.


BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

Jessica Chastain - Take Shelter
Anjelica Huston - 50/50

Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs
Harmony Santana - Gun Hill Road
Shailene Woodley - The Descendants
How many movies has Jessica Chastain been in there year?


BEST SUPPORTING MALE

Albert Brooks - Drive
John Hawkes - Martha Marcy May Marlene
Christopher Plummer - Beginners
John C. Reilly - Cedar Rapids
Corey Stoll Midnight in Paris
I love John Ce. Reilly, that's all I have to say about that.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Joel Hodge - Bellflower
Benjamin Kasulke - The Off Hours
Darius Khondji - Midnight in Paris
Guillaume Schiffman - The Artist
Jeffrey Waldron - The Dynamiter


BEST DOCUMENTARY

The Interrupters
The Redemption of General Butt Naked
We Were Here

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM

A Separation
(Iran) Director: Asghar Farhadi
Melancholia
(Denmark/Sweden/France/Germany) Director: Lars von Trier
Shame
(UK) Director: Steve McQueen
The Kid With a Bike
(Belgium/France/Italy) Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Tyrannosaur
(UK) Director: Paddy Considine
Lars Von Trier shouldn't be encouraged. I'd love to see Shame though, but because of it's harsh rating I'll more than likely have to wait for the DVD.

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD

Chad Burris - Mosquita y Mari
Sophia Lin - Take Shelter
Josh Mond Martha Marcy May Marlene


SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD

Simon Arthur - Silver Tongues
Mark Jackson - Without
Nicholas Ozeki - Mamitas


TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD

Heather Courtney - Where Soldiers Come From
Danfung Dennis - Hell and Back Again
Alma Har’el - Bombay Beach


ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD

Margin Call
Ensemble Cast: Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci

DVD Review: Last Night

To cheat or not to cheat.

That is the question pondered in Last Night. A posh, NYC married couple Joanna (Keira Knightley) and Michael (Sam Worthington) are apart for one night. The night before, Joanna accuses Michael of having an affair with a beautiful co-worker, Laura. (Eva Mendes) Now they are away together at a conference. Meanwhile, Joanna encounters a past fling, Alex (Gulliaume Canet) and has dinner with him while her husband is away.

I liked how the film was shot from a character's point of view, drinking in the others. Other than the nifty camera work and upscale New York settings, not much else happens in Last Night. We know what our character's are about to do, yet we don't get to see the results of their actions. I will say that it was nice to see Knightley in something other than a period piece, and Canet was was completely charming. I'll be looking for more films staring this Frenchman.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "You can be happy, but still tempted." - Michael (Sam Worthington)

RE Post: Indie Gems: The Vicious Kind

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends, happy Thursday to my international ones! Due to the fact that I'm out of town for work, I didn't get the time to post a new Indie Gem this week. (Or much else for that matter) so instead, I am re-posting my favorite Thanksgiving themed Indie. I reviewed The Vicious Kind back in March of 2010, Loved it. Hope you do it.

http://ramblingfilm.blogspot.com/2010/03/dvd-review-vicious-kind.html

DVD Review: Wasted

Pretend like nothing is wrong.

I had to watch this movie for my Addiction Studies class in college, I never got to see the ending. So when it randomly came on TV the other day, I had to see where the story went.

This made for TV movie was loosely based off of the huge heroin bust in Plato, TX. Sam, (Summer Phoenix) Owen, (Aaron Paul) and Chris (Nick Stahl) are inseparable best friends who get caught up in the drug scene. Owen's a full blown addict, Sam has low self esteem, and Chris is the track star that no one suspects to be addicted.

The production value is incredibly low, but in a way it works for the tone of the film. The movie is a great example of people who are battling addiction. The subject matter (i.e swearing, sex) is kept light, unless it's talking about the drugs. Then they go all out. That's why I think it's a good film for younger teens to watch. It's a great learning tool.

A film lover's opinion? Besides the lesson it teaches I found Summer Phoenix a terrible lead, that's probably why she left the acting to her older brothers. Nick Stahl and Aaron Paul have proved themselves to be great actors today, so it was a little interesting to see how they started out. I don't think they quite received the direction they needed.

Recommended Yes: for teens or young adults that need a lesson on addiction. No for anyone that's just looking for a good movie. (Go See Trainspotting instead)

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I tried to pretend that Chris had just stayed up late or had a cold. But I knew."  - Sam (Summer Phoenix)

Review: Melancholia

The final straw for me.

The final straw for what, you may ask? For Lars Von Trier films. Kirsten Dunst has been one of my favorite actresses since I was a kid. She always had all the cool roles in my eyes. Even though a lot of her films were geared towards teens, she still had acting chops to go with them. See: Interview with a Vampire, The Devil's Arithmetic. So When She won the Best Actress prize at Cannes, I decided to put my dislike for Von Trier aside and check out her performance.

Justine (Kirsten Dunst) has just gotten married to passive Michael (Alexander Skarsgard, a far cry from the brooding Eric Northman on True Blood that I'm used to.) Her sister Claire (Charolette Gainsbourgh) and her husband John (Keifer Sutherland) have thrown them a massive reception at their home. Justin and Claire's relationship is strained to say the least. Justine is battling severe depression, and Claire is trying to help her through it. Meanwhile, a planet named Melancholia has been hiding behind the sun (yep) and is now hurtling towards earth. John says it will be a "fly by." Claire grows more paranoid and panicky the closer the planet gets. Although it's never quite explained why these sister's both have different accents. One American, the other British.

At least Von Trier admitted he didn't look at the possibility of Melancholia scientifically. He wanted it for merely a metaphor. A back drop. His direction is still overly pretentious and he still goes out of his way to try to be too "arty." The slow motion opening sequence was so ridiculous I had to fast forward it. (Thanks, VOD, it looked better in sped up mode too.) The classical music score was too up front and didn't blend with the film at all, it just added to it's ego, so to speak.  The most beautiful moments were when the camera was just taking in the scene. Those subtle moments that Von Trier probably didn't intend to be the best parts. They were. When he's so up front with with his colors and music is when his direction is the worst. In my opinion, anyways.

The sad part about all of this? Dunst gives the best performance of her career. She's brilliant, and Gainsbourgh is right behind her. These two ladies were heartbreaking and really captured the essence of depression and paranoia, even though Dunst's character constantly walked the line between sad and downright annoying. It's a shame that two great performances have to be hampered down with pretentious directing.

Recommended: No/Yes. I want to recommend the film for Dunst's performance, but the directing style is not for me. Not for me at all.

Grade: C

Memorable Quote:

Indie Gems: Red State

"Stop being so middle class."

The usually comedic Kevin Smith brings us Red State, his indie thriller that got a lot of attention at this year's Sundance film festival. Both good, (the film itself) bad, (Some people thought he was selling out/full of himself.) and hilarious. (the westboro baptist church tried to picket it) Oh, I didn't capitalize the name of that church cult because it doesn't deserve it...moving on...

Travis, (Michael Angarano) Jared, (Kyle Gallner )and Billy Ray (Nicholas Braun) are high school boys that answer an online ad for group sex. The woman behind that ad: Sarah Cooper. (Melissa Leo) Sarah drugs them and brings them to her religious cult led by Abin Cooper. (Michael Parks) When the police follow up with an unrelated weapons charge, all hell breaks loose.

It's pretty obvious that the Five Points church is a direct jab at the westboro church, they even name drop them at one point.  The film is brutally honest when making it's points about religion and politics and how they don't mix.  This is a very different thing we're seeing from Smith. While the motives of the characters are pretty obvious Smith still takes his time to explain them. The film is full of some pretty impressive camera work, I must say. Quick shots and some great chase scenes.

The ending isn't going to work for everybody. I myself, was a bit disappointed, but I still appreciate the fact that it's different and honest and stuck so true to it's point. In a way I wanted the typical cookie cutter ending, but that's not what was given, and I'm glad. Red State stands on it's soap box and makes it's point. It's damn impressive point. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Well he was standing unnaturally close to me.." Joseph Keenan (John Goodman)

DVD Review: You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

Can someone explain the hype around Woody Allen films?
I mostly stick to my own tastes in movies, but at the same time, I like to have a film recommended to me by a good friend or a blogger I read. This is where Woody Allen comes in. I've never liked a single Woody Allen film, there are a few that I would label "ok" at best. Yet, everyone I know is in love with the guy. So I've been trying to give his films a go, and I seem to come up disappointed every time. Maybe next year's film starring two of my favorites: Ellen Page and Jesse Eisenberg will do the trick?

This film is a study of couples, betrayal, (is there always cheating in an Allen film?) and life in general. Helena (Gemma Jones) is recently separated from her husband of 40 years, Alfie. (Anthony Hopkins) Alife now has a new squeeze, Charmaine, who he hopes to have a son with. (Lucy Punch) This doesn't really set well for his only child, Sally (Naomi Watts) who finds herself attracted to her boss, Greg (Antonio Bandarass) and growing frustrated with her husband, Roy, (Josh Brolin) who's taken up watching his beautiful neighbor, Dia (Freida Pinto) through their window. Did you get all that?

My main reason for giving his Allen film a try is the beautiful and talented Naomi Watts, but not even she could save this mess. The film drags it's feet as it jumps from plot to plot and is otherwise, I dare say, just plain boring. What a waste of a cast of capable actors. They were held back by the story. I did enjoy the narrator, however. I thought that added a nice touch.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I don't want to keep doing this if we have to use a contraceptive." - Sally (Naomi Watts)

DVD Review: Bridesmaids

Lady Hangover.
When Bridesmaids first came out, I avoided it. It didn't look like my type of film at all. Then to my surprise, tons of positive reviews came in. So when it became available on Netflix, I figured I'd give it a shot.

Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married. Her best friend, Annie (Kristen Wiig) is her maid of honor, and this causes some friction between her and Lillian's new friend/bridesmaid Helen. (Rose Byrne) As they plan a bachelorette party, Annie and Helen must learn to play nice.

I should've stuck with my initial instinct, because I didn't think Bridesmaids was funny at all. There were some great one-liners, but it mostly wasted the talent of Wiig, Rudoph, Byrne, and Melissa McCarthy. I enjoyed the raunchiness of the movie, but the rest of it fell flat on it's face.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: I'm sure she welcomes him home, beaver first. - Annie's Mom (Jill Clayburgh)

Indie Gems: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

How would it feel to be trapped in your own body?
This is just one of the questions you ask yourself after viewing the French film: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric) is the editor of Elle magazine. He suffers a stroke and ends up with "Locked-in Syndrome." The only part of his body that he has control over is his left eye. He developes a code with his therapist as a way to communicate, and while he struggles with being completely aware and trapped in his own body, he eventually accepts it.

I know when you read the summary of this movie, you're probably thinking: "No way, that's too depressing." I'd be lying if I said it wasn't. The film is sad, it will make you cry, and it will make you feel so sorry for people that this sort of thing actually happens to. But it's the way this story is told that makes it special. Director Julian Schnbal chose to shoot a good portion of the fim from Jean-Do's point of view, and the cinematography is nothing short of beautiful. The music fits the film well and there's a dream sequence sampled from The 400 Blows that is absolutely stunning.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorabe Quote: "I decided to stop pitying myself. Other than my eye, two things aren't paralyzed, my imagination and my memory." - Jean-Dominique Bauby (Mathieu Amalric)

Review: In Time

When you know you'll be running, it's best to wear a dress and five inch heels.

In Time doesn't have the time to tell you how people ended up engineered with green clocks on their arms, how they stop aging at 25, or how time is now the currency. But it does have the time to tell you about Will Salas, (Justin Timberlake) a man from the ghetto who's given extra time by the mysterious Henry Hamilton. Will dares to cross time zones and fraternize with "rich" people like Sylvia. (Amanda Seyfriend, in a bad wig) Soon time keeper Leon (Cillian Murphy) is accusing Will of theft, and he and Sylvia are now on the run, and only have minutes to live.

In Time has an interesting concept, but it's littered with horrible dialogue, bad special effects, obvious stunt doubles, and bland acting. Timberlake and Seyfried have zero chemistry and their performances were completely emotionless. You can't put all the blame on the actors, the screen play doesn't give them much to work with. The gang subplot turns out to be completely pointless and while Cillian Murphy is creepy as the baddie, his character is disposed as quickly as he is introduced. This film has no heart. No soul, and no enjoyment. The funniest part of the movie to me? The fact that Sylvia runs all over the place in platform heels, and when given the opportunity to change, she chooses another dress and platform heels. Did they stop making running shoes in the future?

Recommended: No

Grade: D

Memorable Quote: "Unfuckingbelievable." - Will (Justin Timberlake)

DVD Review: What We Do Is Secret

It all started with a germ.

Shot almost documentary style, What We Do Is Secret is a biopic about The Germ's front man, Darby Crash. (Shane West) We start off with Darby and band mates Pat Smear, (Rick Gonzalez) Lorna Doom (Bijou Phillips) and their countless drummers in high school. They don't know how to play their instruments, they just decide to form a band and play a show first. The film follows them through their underground success in the Punk scene, and ends with Crash's overdose.

The first thing I noticed about this film was the horrible back drops. Parts of this film were obviously shot on a stage and the backgrounds looked horribly fake at times. The acting was hard to watch, when you read or watch interviews and footage of the Germs, you see that the characters in this film act nothing like them. You can tell a lot of effort was put into this film, some of the lines in the film were deep, then were muddled by the rest of the crappy screenplay. Shane West even sang for the Germs in real life when they went on a reunion tour, but the pay off just wasn't great. Worst of all, the film is forgettable. Unlike the Germs, who certainly left their mark in the punk rock world.

I honestly just feel bad for the movie. It tried so hard.

Recommended: No

Grade: D

Memorable Quote: "It's the Germ Burn. 40 years from now, you'll be getting groceries, and you'll see it on the cashier, and you'll know: They were part of it." - Darby Crash (Shane West)

Indie Gems: Bobby

He was going to change everything.
I know I'm probably in the minority over this film. When it first came out many critics hated it because it didn't focus enough on Robert F. Kennedy. After reading all those reviews, by the time I actually got around to seeing it I knew what not to expect.
 
 
Bobby is an ensemble drama about roughly 20 people who's lives are somewhat connected to the Ambassador Hotel. Some are staying there, others work there, we meet a slew of people and see what their lives are like on that fateful day in June.
 
 
The cast ranges from William H. Macy, Shia LaBeouf, Elijah Wood, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, Anthony Hopkins, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ashton Kutcher, Freddy Rodriguiz and Christian Slater. Not all are great actors, nor are all the story lines interesting, but they come together nicely. You could really feel the faith some of them at put into Kennedy, and how devastated everything was when he was murdered.
 
 
Recommended: Yes
 
 
Grade: B-
 
 
Memorable Quote: "Now that Dr. King is gone, nobody left but Bobby. Nobody." - Dwayne (Nick Cannon)

*Yes, I chose a quote coming from Nick Cannon's mouth. It's a rare moment of serenity from this guy.*

Indie Gems: Halloween

Don't fear the reaper.

Michael Myers (Tony Moran) stabbed his older sister to death when he was just a child. After being in a mental hospital for all of his youth, he escapes and returns to his home town of Haddonfeild, IL. His psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) has an idea of what Michael might do. He's returned to target young Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends.


Halloween continues to be one of the most frightening movies of all time. There have been many sequels, even a few remakes, but none can compare to John Carpenter's original masterpiece.  Besides his creepy mask (and the wonderfully ominous score that follows him) we didn't know a whole lot about Michael Myers. That's what made him so scary. He was just plain crazy, no intentions, just the need to kill. In Jamie Lee Curtis' first role, she cemented herself in the screen queen scene.

You have to have a lot of respect for this Indie Gem. It was the highest grossing independent film of it's time. They had to paint fake leaves to make it feel like fall, then gather them after they filmed a scene. All of the actors wore their own clothes, the majority of the film's minuscule budget ($320,000) went towards the cameras used to shoot the film. Hell, Michael's signature mask was a William Shatner Star Trek mask painted white! That's making the most of your money.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "He was standing right there.." - Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis)

Indie Gems: 28 Days Later

Not zombies. Just rage.
Anyone who reads my blog knows about the Danny Boyle lovefest that goes on here constantly. So 28 Days Later is a perfect fit for my horror Indie Gems.
Animal Activists attempt to set some caged monkeys free only to find out the hard way they are infected with the rage virus. 28 Days Later we see Jim (Cillian Murphy) waking up stark naked in an empty London hospital. He soon encounters fellow survivors, Selena, (Naomie Harris) Frank (Brenden Gleeson) and Hannah (Megan Burns) they attempt to find refuge in this deserted land while trying to avoid the raging humans infected with the virus.
28 Days Later often gets categorized as a Zombie movie when it really isn't. These aren't the walking dead. They are alive, just infected. Boyle's signature way or shooting things is front and center with quick cuts and spots of rich color amongst the gloomy London backdrop. Then there's the fact that the film is down right creepy and has plenty of suspenseful moments. This film introduced me to Cillian Murphy who has easily become one of my favorite actors since. This is one of the best horror movies out there, everything about it works. Just ignore the inferior sequel.
Recommended: Yes
Grade: A-
Memorable Quote: "Are you trying to kill me?" - Hannah (Megan Burns)

Indie Gems: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Meet Leatherface.

You know, that creepy dude with the mask made out of people's skin, who wielded a chainsaw and had the balls to saw a dude in a wheelchair in half. He's the focus of the scary Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I point this out because the remakes and prequels like to show us more of Leatherface's dysfunctional family as if it's an excuse for this monster. Yes they were a family of cannibals, but they made the father out to be more of the monster than the son, and that's where I think the film lost focus. That and that God-awful scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning where baby Leatherface literally CRAWLS out of his mother during child birth. Terrible film making.

Now that's out of my system, lets talk about the original TCM. Shot so wonderfully it felt like it really happened. (what a convincing narrator) They even marketed it that way. (It didn't by the way, it's loosely based off of Ed Gein.) All those classic deaths, the meat hook, the frightening scene of someone chasing you with a chainsaw to Sally's (Marilyn Burns) iconic scream as she finally escapes on the back of a pick up. TCM was downright terrifying. By the time I saw this, I was used to seeing Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger stab people to death. But Leatherface had a fucking chainsaw! I couldn't think of anything more terrifying. This was a slasher flick that dared to be different. Instead of the sneaking up on his victims slowly, Leatherface ran. He showed no mercy. He was ready to feed these five teens to his entire family. I still consider The Exorcist to be the scariest movie I've ever seen, but TCM is a close second. For any horror fan, this is a must see.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre." - The Narrator.

DVD Review: The Extra Man

Gentleman.

Louis (Paul Dano) is a young teacher who loses his job after being caught curiously trying on a bra in the teacher's lounge. He goes to Manhattan in an effort to find himself and ends up bunking with strange man that escorts older women, Henry. (Kevin Kline) Henry dances strangely, sneaks into Operas, and thinks women shouldn't get an education. He's a playwright, but his ex room mate who he refers to as a "Swedish Hunchback" stole his one great piece of work. Louis goes along on his escapades, all while trying to find a way to balance his new job, his new crush, and his secret enjoyment of cross dressing. Then there's neighbor Gershon (John C. Reilly) with a huge head of hair, long beard, and Mickey Mouse voice that shows up for a few laughs.


I thought the movie felt smart and fresh, but jumbled and disjointed. They tried to cram too many subplots into one film. The characters are interesting and different, but the film loses it's focus on them. Still, Dano and Kline give good performances. John C. Reilly was funny, but his part was brief. Katie Holmes also stars as Louis's Vegan co-worker, but she falls flat as always. I have yet to see a believable performance from her.

Recommended: Yes, disjointed or not, it's still a clever story.

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Gershon is pathologically late." - Henry (Kevin Kline)






Indie Gems: Cabin Fever

Nothing bad ever happens when you spend your vacation in a remote cabin in the woods.

Right? Never happens! Cabin Fever has a simple formula.

Five college friends spend their vacation in the mountains. On their first night they encounter a strange drifter who appears to be sick. Soon, one of them contracts a scary, flesh-eating virus. Of course they can't just drive away and get help. As the virus spreads the survival instinct kicks in and perhaps these friends aren't as close as they seem.

Cabin Fever introduced me to a true horror fan in director Eli Roth. He took a cliche horror movie plot and turned it into something enjoyable. Who can forget that infamous scene of Marcy shaving her legs? Or Paul making the tough decision of ending the one he love's misery. And he managed to be clever and funny on top of that. It's always a good thing when a horror movie can bring on equal amounts of creep, gore, and laughter in my opinion. Plus you have to love Eli Roth's taste in horror. When you see his name on something, you know it will be gory and creepy. Because of him I also discovered the wonderful Japanese film Audition. I'm thankful for that.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I made it! I made it!!" - Jeff (Joey Kern)