Indie Gems: Snow Cake

With stunning performances by Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Carrie-Anne Moss, this is one of the films that really defines "Indie Gem." How it managed to be so "under the radar" is beyond me.

Alex (Rickman) is fresh out of prison and on a road trip across Canada. He picks up an eccentric hitchhiker Vivienne (Emily Hampshire) along the way. He eventually starts to enjoy her company when a deadly car crash cuts that short. Alex feels the need to apologize to Vivenne's mother directly, he gets her address from the police files, and brings a gift (light up balls that play music) that Vivienne had bought for her. We meet Linda (Weaver), she's autistic. She likes her house clean, sleeping in bunk beads and eating snow. She works part time stocking shelves at the grocery store. She convinces Alex to stay with her so he can take her garbage out. She doesn't do garbage, that was Vivienne's job. Alex agrees to that, and also to help with the funeral. Linda ignores her pesky neighbors, including Maggie (Moss) whom Alex is instantly attracted to.

This film had a ton of chances to be over the top and depressing. It never was. The actors really brought something to each of their characters. Alex is a complicated man. He did some bad things, but we don't care. We feel for him. When a funeral guest wonders "Why is that guy still here?" I became defensive. It's none of her business. Linda made me look at things differently too. Who else could point out that having an orgasm is the inferior version of what she feels when she has a mouth full of snow? It was beautiful, touching, sad but quirky all in one.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "'s a bit obvious, isn't it?" - Linda (Sigourney Weaver)

New Pics from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Wow! These are some shots from the epilouge, which takes place 19 years later. Very cool to see the actors as "adults." Can't wait to see the finished product! Thanks Snitch Seeker!

DVD Review: My Sister's Keeper

This isn't a movie I would normally watch. In fact, I ignored it quite well in theaters. I just happened upon this at midnight on HBO last night and decided to give it a shot.

This film isn't meant to be enlightening, it's not meant for you to feel hopeful. It's here to tell you that sometimes life just really, really sucks. The premise of the movie is Anna (Abigal Breslin) was born to basically be a doner to her older sister who has leukemia. All her life she's been giving bone marrow, stem cells, she's been hospitalized 6 times in her 11 years. Now her parents (Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric) want her to donate her kidney. Anna has had enough, she seeks a popular lawyer (Alec Baldwin) and sues her parents for Medical Emancipation.

In all this weepy, cliched nonsense there really is some credit due. Sofia Vassileva who plays sick daugheter Kate is wonderful. She really is. This movie doesn't dumb down cancer, it shows you how sick and painful it really is. Kate isn't just some bald child like we see in other cancer films. We see her lose her hair, throw up during chemo, have random nose bleeds, kidneys fail, etc. We really see his kid go through hell, the movie doesn't shy away. I appreciated that, cancer affects nearly everyone in some way, shape, or form. It's a horrible thing. That's the only good thing I can say about the film. The script (like the book) is mediocre at best. The film isn't told in order, it jumps to different time periods and instead of being effective it becomes confusing. It's full of crying folks, doomed romances and the typically smiley, laughing families that are hiding their grief. Cameron Diaz is extremely over-dramatic. She doesn't make the mother likable at all.

Perhaps the film's worst moment is the ending. Without spoiling, it ends in the exact opposite way the book ends. As stupid as I thought the ending in the book was, changing it is even worse. It's almost insulting to the author and to the people that actually enjoyed the book. The new ending surely didn't make the movie better. It just made it more generic.

I remember when this film was still in pre-production Dakota and Elle Fanning were set to star. Then they pulled out, news reports said it's because Dakota refused to shave her head. I don't believe this. A) She could've worn a cap and B) She probably just read the script and realized it was horrible. Good move, Dakota. Hopefully Sofia Vassileva gets something out of this.

Recommended: No

Grade: D

Memorable Quote: "I made this for you." "What is it?" "It's everything." - Kate and Sara Fitzgerald (Sofia Vassileva and Cameron Diaz)

DVD Review: Fragments

This is what happens when a bad script happens to good actors. 'Fragments', originally titled 'Winged Creatures' (A far better title, in my opinion) is about the survivors of a random shooting in a Los Angeles diner. They all come together, yet they are all dealing in very different ways.

Carlie (Forest Whitaker) survives a gun shot wound to the neck and believes his luck as turned around. He goes on a gambling spree, and doesn't tell his daughter, Kathy (Jennifer Hudson) where he's gone. Anne (Dakota Fanning) hides under a table with her best friend Jimmy (Josh Hutcherson) while her father is shot and killed. Her mother (Jeanne Triplehorn) is obviously heartbroken, but Anne turns to religion to heel. Jimmy on the other hand is withdrawn, he doesn't talk to his father (Jackie Earl Haley) or anyone else for that matter about what happened. Carla (Kate Beckinsale) is a waitress that survives, but ends up with survivors guilt. She can barely take care of her infant son. She takes an innocent compliment from Dr. Lareby (Guy Peirce) who also held the door open for the shooter at the diner, the wrong way.

All of the characters are potentially interesting, but their dialogue is watered down and hampered by bad writing. The direction of the film doesn't help either. It had all the potential in the world with it's cast and interesting outlines for each character, but the direction makes it feel like just another "Life Time" movie.

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: " Jimmy. It's still just the two of us" - Anne Hagon (Dakota Fanning)

Indie Gems: Me and You and Everyone We Know

I'm normally not a fan of movies that have loads of intertwining stories. Many of them simply get lost within each other and end up not being very interesting. Miranda July's little film 'Me and You and Everyone We Know' is not one of them.

Miranda July directs and stars as Christine, a lonely aspiring artist working in the shoe department at a retail store. We follow her life, and the lives connected to her. The woman she's trying to submit her art too, Nancy. (Tracy Wright) The man she's suddenly infatuated with, Richard (John Hawkes) a recent divorcee and his children Pete and Robby. (Miles Thompson and Brandon Ratcliff) Pete's innocent neighbor, Sylvie (Carlie Westerman) and his not so innocent classmates Heather and Rebecca. (Natasha Slayton and Najarra Townsed)

When this film first premiered Miranda July said she was afraid she would never get it made due to some of the explicit content involving the young children (ie Robbie, not realizing what he's exactly doing starts "cybering" with a stranger online) but it's not exploitative. It's kept innocent and minimal. The characters in the film are all complicated, and while we don't get an extensive background on each one, we understand their troubles and their feelings. Divorces, teenage curiosity, your dreams of adulthood when your a child, and insecurities. It's subtle, quirky, dramatic and interesting. A good film if your looking for an indie you may not have seen.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Macaroni" - Nancy (Tracy Wright)

Random Ramblings: 10 Things I want to see in Deathly Hallows part 1

I just got done reading 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' (again) and it got me thinking about the film. I thought I'd make a list of things I really want to see, then on Nov 18th when the film comes out, I will re-visit this list and see if I got any of my wishes. Of course it will be impossible to incorporate every little detail from the book into the movie, so I'll try to be as fair as possible with my "demands". Also after I see the film I'll write up another column of 10 things I'd like to see in part 2.

1) The opening sequence: There are certain parts of the book that really don't need to be toned down for film. This is one of them. Members of the Order of the Phoenix are trying to get Harry safely from his home on Privet Dr. to random portkeys. (objects that essentially teleport you to another place) These portkeys will all lead them to a safe place. Ron, Hermione, Fluer, Fred, and George are all dressed as fake "Harrys" and they fly with a member of the Order to their portkey. Of course the Death Eaters are waiting, and there's a spectacular chase scene which includes Voldermort flying (sans broomstick) after them. This needs to be left alone. All of it. It was such an intense part of the book, even more so since it happened in the 2nd chapter. It also includes two surprising deaths. People that haven't read the books need to appreciate what we HP nerds see when we read it. This scene is so epic it deserves to be shown in it's entirety.

2) It's RON/HERMIONE. Ok? Thanks. My biggest problem with "screen writer" Steve Kloves is that he is an obvious Harry/Hermione shipper. Even though JK Rowling turned down the idea of Harry and Hermione ever being together, then essentially made fun of anyone who thought they should be. I blame Kloves for this because reading the books, I never had the idea of Harry and Hermione being a couple, although after watching the films (particulary Prisoner of Azkaban) I can totally see where people got that idea. *Spoiler Alert* Ron and Hermione get together in the end, and it's heavily hinted throughout this book. Let it happen, don't litter it with all this touchy feely Harry/Hermione crap when it's supposed to be building up Ron and Hermione's relationship. It's bad enough they left the huge Ron/Hermione moment in the funeral scene out of 'Half Blood Prince'.

3) There's no such thing as too much Alan Rickman Ok, so Snape technically plays a bigger part in "Part II" but let's not get stingy on the Snape scenes in the first part. I love Alan Rickman as Snape, he needs to be on screen as much as possible.

4) There will be blood This was a bloody book, screw the PG rating and go full on PG-13. I don't think they should have a problem with this, especially since they actually got away with a PG rating for HBP when they included the "Sectumsempra" scene.

5)Can 3D just f**k off, please? The plan right now is to show the film in 3D, there is still plenty of time to nix this horrible Idea. 3D is going to drive more people away. Hardcore fans will shell out the $16 a ticket for it but not everyone else will. Harry Potter could have a record breaking opening without the added ticket price. Not to mention this film wasn't originally shot for 3D, and will likely have crap effects like Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans. This film is going to be way to dark for 3D. I'm hoping by November this 3D phase will calm down. Roger Ebert actually wrote a really good piece on why 3D is so lame, go read it. I agree. Let's hope the summer 3D movies bomb, and they can save it all for the IMAX crowds.

6) Let the split happen gradually I already know how annoyed I will be when this film ends. We all will be. Just don't end it at a cliff hanger. What I really admired about Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is that he ended them after something great happened, and they transitioned into black nicely. Please don't end us on a fight scene we have to wait another 7 months for. I have this horrible feeling that they are going to split it right after we learn what the Deathly Hallows are, but right before the Death Eaters break into the Lovegood household and find them there. There's plenty of walking around and searching for horcruxes. Let it end somewhere around there. Where we've seen enough to call it a great film, but we're not cut off and feeling empty. Also don't cut it off when Ron leaves then resume when he comes back. I hated that part of the book enough as it is. I really just should stop guessing on where I think they will split it.. *patience*.

7) House Elves They managed to cut out Dobby's character in every single movie since he first appeared in 'Chamber of Secrets' even though he played important parts in many of the following books. I know for a fact Dobby is in this. (pictures I've seen of them filming) Let both him and Kreacher get some screen time. They're very important to this story.

8) Who was the Half Blood Price again? I really doubt this will happen, but since they so conveniently added a scene to HBP that wasn't in the book and served absolutely no purpose the least they can do is EXPLAIN why Severus Snape is the Half Blood Prince. That was the entire f**king point of the 6th book and they really casted it aside in the film. How about a run down for those non-readers that left the movie seriously confused? It'll only take a minute!

9) Tone down Emma Watson Of all the young actors in the film she's consistently the worst. I want to like her, but I can't. She can't act. Please tell her to tone down the eyebrows, get another expression besides "shocked/pissed" and actually have poofy hair like Hermione is supposed to have. Less Emma Watson is fine with me.

10) Godric's Hallow Harry's place of birth felt down right creepy in the book, lets keep it that way in the film. Especially Nigini crawling out of the women's head. Yeah, that's the part of Harry Potter that is never shown in the films, the fact that the book gets down right creepy at times.

DVD Review: The Men Who Stare At Goats

My initial thought when I was done watching this film was: "Wow..that was stupid." Although as weird as it will sound it wasn't a bad stupid. The cast is so amusing and it was quite obvious that they were having fun with the "out there" script.

Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is a reporter from Ann Arbor, MI. He's in Iraq to prove to his recently estranged wife that he's got something to offer. He meets Lyn Cassidy (George Clooney) who claims he's a "psychic soldier" in a top secret military division. He tags along with Lyn to learn more about his interesting operation. Along the way he meets the founder Bill Django (Jeff Bridges) and the bitter Larry Hopper. (Kevin Spacey)

This movie was plagued by horrible reviews when it first came out, after watching I think that some of those people were perhaps taking the film too seriously. Yes, psychic soldiers who can stare at a goat and stop it's heart is a weird thing. So is the fact that they keep referring to themselves as "Jedis" throughout the film. It's even funnier that they keep using that term in front of Ewan McGregor. It's a fun story with a fun cast. Sure, it's one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen, but I never got bored watching it.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "What's a jedi?" - Bob Wilton (Ewan Obi Wan Kenobi McGregor)

Review: Iron Man 2

The Summer Blockbusters kick off with the highly anticipated 'Iron Man 2'. This has been on my "must see" list all year. Being a comic reader, I never cared much for Iron Man in the comics, that is until Robert Downey Jr. brought him to life on screen. Sure there's some inconsistencies, but I honestly couldn't care less. Downey made a character that I never liked, likable. That's just how great of an actor he is.

'Iron Man 2' starts 6 months after the original. In the first few minutes we get a ton of different stories thrown at us. We see that the military wants Tony Stark to hand over his suit, he refuses and assures everyone that no one else will be able to build a model like his. Then we switch over to Russia. Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke, doing his best Viggo Mortensen impression from 'Eastern Promises') is a jilted son of a former scientist that worked with Tony's father. He's got revenge on his mind, he thinks Stark is responsible for the fall of his family. He's creating something to take Tony out for good. They don't mention it in the film, but he's becoming "Whiplash". Tony has a lot going on, he's become somewhat arrogant, his arc reactor is slowly killing him, but he won't admit it to anyone else. Especially his newly appointed CEO Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) Also in the mix are Lt. Rhodes (Don Cheadle, a nice transition from Terrance Howard who portrayed him in the first) His new paralegal Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) who we already know is a double agent, Natasha Romanoff and last but not least, a new character, and Tony's competition Justin Hammer. (Sam Rockwell)

There's a lot of stories here, I really enjoyed the special effects. Battle scenes, scenes when Tony's working. They are all very well done. I loved the chemistry between Downey and Paltrow, it was perfect for the film. I loved seeing Cheadle in the 'War Machine' get up. The acting was great across the board. Reviews for this film have been someone split, so I tried not to nitpick. I tried to ignore the fact that Scarlett Johansson's character didn't have a Russian accent like is assumed in the comics. She's really only there for sex appeal, which is a shame. She's quite a talented actress. Or the fact that I thought it was really weird for John Favreau to write such a big part for himself in the film (again). One thing I couldn't ignore, however was the obvious set up for the 'Avengers' film.

I think Ironman had a lot of stories to tell, and it all ended up abruptly. They obviously are using this film to start that transition to the Avengers, but I thought they almost focused on it too much. Sure it was nice to see Samuel L Jackson reprise his role as Nick Fury, but with so match at stake for Tony, (and the film's run time of barely over 2 hours)I thought they would've focused more on Ironman, and not what part Ironman is going to play in the Avengers.

All and all, I enjoyed myself, Was it the best comic book movie of all time? No (Dark Knight still holds that crown) Was it entertaining and worth my money? Yes. Extra kudos go to the fantastic 'Inception' trailer. That trailer totally overshadowed the anticipated 'Super 8' trailer in my opinion. Oh, there's a scene after the credits too if you are interested.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "Isn't it funny how annoying a little prick can be?" - Senator Stern (Garry Chandling)

Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

I have a love/hate relationship with horror movies. I love The Exorcist, The Shining, The Omen. I love Alfred Hitchcock and Dario Argento. I love the campy horror like the Evil Dead series, Any Zombie movie and the absolutely hilarious (albeit unintentional) 80's slasher films. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kreuger were staples of my growing up.

Then comes the hate part: Horror Movie Remakes. I admit, I do dig a few. I loved The Ring (It's also the only PG13 horror movie I liked, the original was awesome too) I actually enjoyed the Amityville Horror and House of Wax remakes. Most of them however, suck. Most people agree, but then again, they have that demographic of people that are too lazy to find the originals so they embrace the remakes. Some of them end up being quite successful. Last years 'Friday the 13th' remake had a strong box office, but other remakes such as 'The Last House on the Left' and 'The Hills Have Eyes' failed (hint: Nobody wants to watch a rape/revenge movie) Let's not get started on the remakes of foreign horror movies. The fact that they are remaking Susperia already makes me want to bang my head on the wall..onto the review.

We all know Freddy Kreuger, we don't really need a plot explanation here. It's set in modern times versus the 1984 original. We get to see a little more of Freddy's past. We already knew he was a child killer and probably a pedophile. They just actually come out and say it in this one. We get another group of questionable actors to play our doomed teenagers.

What made this film interesting to me was Jackie Earl Haley. He's an awesome actor, he's very interesting. I loved watching him as Freddy, but I never really believed him as Freddy. That's not taking away from his acting (which was very good) It's just that you get used to seeing Robert Englund all these years that seeing someone else just isn't quite... Freddy. I looked at him as if he were just another serial killer imitating Freddy Kreuger.

They payed a few homages to the original, which was nice. The teens in this movie don't really give us a reason to care about them like we cared for Nancy in the original, but they do well with what they've got. I didn't think there was as much blood as the original series, but some people would disagree. Basically, Michael got a reboot, Jason got a reboot, it's only fair that Freddy gets one too. Although I didn't think it was a great movie, it was still entertaining. Maybe it will encourage some young viewers to go dig out the previous installments and see what we had to grow up with as children. Either way, Fine performance by Haley, not as good as the original, but no one was expecting it to be.

Recommended: Yes (you might as well)

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I don't know what it is you think I did" - Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earl Haley) Oh we already know what you did, Freddy.