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Showing posts from August, 2011

DVD Review: Ninja Assassin

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File this under "So Bad it's Good." Sometimes we come across a movie that's so ridiculous that you can't help but have a good time while viewing it. You watch numerous characters make cliched mistakes, speak as if they were reading from poorly written teleprompters, and have extraordinary things happen to them, all while being littered with plot holes. When a film does this, and doesn't take itself seriously, it begins to be fun instead of a complete bomb. Ninja Assassin is a perfect example of this. Raizo (Korean Pop Star Rain) was raised to be a lethal weapon. After his girlfriend is killed, he turns his back on the family that took him in and now seeks revenge. With the aid of Mika, (Naomie Harris) Raizo must fight hundreds of Ninjas before they kill him first. Here's a few things I learned from this movie. 1) CGI blood looks worse than corn syrup. Every fight scene in this film had CGI blood. Now, the movie required a lot of it, but I felt like th

Indie Gems: Lymelife

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The American Dream sucks. At least it does for these two families who's once normal suburban lives are now crumbling. The film follows Scott Barlett (Rory Culkin) who has a crush on his neighbor Adrianna Bragg. (Emma Roberts) That's not all Scott has on his plate. He thinks his unhappy mother, Brenda (Jill Hennessy) is crazy and his father, Mickey (Alec Baldwin) is having an affair with Adrianna's mother, Melissa. (Cynthia Nixon) Melissa's husband, Charlie (Timothy Hutton) has recently been diagnosed with lyme disease and has become very distant from the rest of the family. There's lots of drama to go around between the two familes and we see Scott and Adrianna's relationship sort of blossum amidst all of this. Lymelife reminded me a bit of American Beauty, which as you know is my all time favorite movie. That's one of the things that made me like it so much. It had the same formula, not everything is great in suburbia, but it still brought it's own sp

Review: Eastern Promises

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Cronenberg at his best. This is my submission for LAMB's latest addition of The Director's Chair. Not only is Eastern Promises my favorite Cronenberg film, it's easily in my top 5 favorite films of all time. Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) is a driver for a family associated with the Vory V Zakone, a dangerous Russian mob. He works for Semyon, (Armin Mueller-Stahl) who masks his crime with his posh Russian restaurant in London. His son, Kirill (Vincent Cassell) trusts Nikolai and is his constant companion. When Anna,(Naomi Watts) a midwife who has a young teenager die during childbirth on her shift comes across Semyon's business card in her diary. She goes to the restaurant looking for the girl's family so that she can send the child back to them. She soon learns that these people are dangerous to be around. Nikolai subtly tries to help her while trying to convince Kirill otherwise. Cronenberg has directed a lot of great films, but this one is his best. The amount o

Review: The Help

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Some people are ridiculous. The Help proves this. Set in Mississippi in the 1960's, racism is a huge problem. We're told two stories here, one is Abileen's (Viola Davis) and one is Skeeter's. (Emma Stone) Skeeter is fresh out of college and wants to be a writer. She starts writing a house keeping collumn for her local newspaper and asks Abileen, a friend's maid, for advise. Hilly, (Bryce Dallas Howard) gets a law passed that requires each home to have a seperate bathroom for their hired help. Disturbed by this and the way some of the people in her town treat their help, Skeeter decides to write a book from their prospective. At first no maid will talk, but eventually Abileen does. She and Skeeter form a strong friendship as she writes her story, and eventually other maids join in. Doing all of this is dangerous and illegal, but they want to get their stories told. I have to say this is probably the best emsemble cast I've seen all year. Everyone did such a fan

DVD Review: Troubled Water (DeUsynlige)

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Can people change? Troubled Water is the story of Jan Thomas, ( Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen) a young man recently released from prison where he did time for murdering a child. He claims it was an accident. He gets a job playing the organ at a local church and soon befriends Anna, (Ellen Dorit Peterson) the priest and her young son, Jens. Thomas (he goes by his middle name now) doesn't tell Anna of his past for obvious reasons, but when Agnes, (Trine Dyrholm) the mother of the young boy he killed recognizes him at the church, she's determined to expose him to everyone. The film starts off from Thomas's point of view then finishes up from Agnes'. It's a very creative way of telling the story and makes you feel both sympothy and anger towards both parties. Part of you wants Thomas to lead a normal life, the other part shuns him for what he did. Part of you completely understands where Agnes's anger is coming from, the other part thinks she takes it too far. One thin

Indie Gems: Wristcutters: A Love Story

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No smiling here. Zia (Patrick Fugit) is depressed over his breakup with Desiree. (Leslie Bibb) He kills himself and wakes up in a purgatory for suicides. He tries to adapt to life in his new home, but then learns that Desiree committed suicide not long after he did. He's determined to find her. He sets off on a road trip with Eugene (Shea Wingham) and eventually they pick up Mikal, (Shannyn Sossamon) a girl looking for "the people in charge" because she's there by mistake. They eventually find Desiree in the company of a man who calls himself The Messiah (Will Arnett) and promises something extraordinary. This is a really neat film with a lot of quirky elements. When you go to this purgatory, you no longer have the ability to smile. There's a hole in the back seat of Zia's car that is essentially a black hole just to name a few. The acting is great, subtle, and works well with the flow of the movie. Our characters are wondering, and that's how the movie

DVD Review: Hobo With A Shotgun

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Bang Bang. All this Hobo (Rutger Hauer) wants to do is start his own lawn mowing business. There's a surprisingly sweet scene in which he finally puts his hands on the mower he plans to buy and smiles. Then back to reality, he realizes this new town he has just rolled into is full of crime. Mob bosses and deranged cops rule the city. They rob innocent victims, kill children, abuse prostitutes, etc. Instead of buying that mower, our Hobo gets a shotgun instead. He's going to solve the city's violent problems one shell at a time. He finds himself saving, protecting, and ultimately fighting along side Abby, (Molly Dunsworth) a prostitute that was nearly killed. This is a grind house style movie, so obviously you are watching it for the gore. What I personally appreciated about the film was that they had multiple instances where they could've had over the top sexual assaults. But they didn't, not one is shown, attempts are implied, but they never happen. Maybe I'm

Random Ramblings: Midnight Movies

I haven't been able to sleep for more than a few hours for the past week. The result of this is watching a lot of random movies and TV Shows. Instead of writing individual reviews, I decided to give some quick thoughts on the films I've come across in the middle of the night. Yes, they are very random. Catch Me If You Can - This is a movie that most people love that I really don't like. I almost feel bad for not liking it because it's got a lot of qualities that I look for in movies. It's like running a marathon, this movie is never ending. It feels longer than it's 140 run time. I swear I watched this movie from midnight all the way to 6:00 am. Defiance - I finally got around to finishing this movie. Interesting story, nice score, horrible pacing. Another movie that felt like it was 5 hours long. Have you ever read the IMDb message boards for Defiance? There's a lot of bigots and racists on there. I hate it when stupid people get a hold of computers.

Indie Gems: Factory Girl

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Edie is a superstar. Sienna Miller gives her best performance to date as doomed socialite Edie Sedgwick. She was a young girl with a lot of money that dreamed of the glamorous life. She meets Andy Warhol (Guy Pearce) and quickly becomes his muse. Life with Andy is perfect for Edie until she begins to get into drugs and starts a fling with a musician (Hayden Christensen) that ultimately tears her apart from Warhol. When her seemingly endless pocket book finally runs out, Edie hits rock bottom. Of all the films I've seen featuring Andy Warhol, I must say I enjoyed Pearce's interpretation the most. He plays him with just the right amount of seriousness, flamboyant traits, nervous habits, yet solemn and focused. There's so much emotion packed in there that it's easy to see why so many people are obsessed with him. Miller's Edie is just as fascinating. I thought she captured her well and I'm really surprised Miller didn't get more attention for this role. Chris

Review: Cowboys and Aliens

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Western meets Sci Fi. I can't quite put my finger one what Cowboys and Aliens was missing. I had higher expectations for this film, but it wasn't great. It wasn't a bad movie either, it was just lacking, and I wish I could explain what it is I wanted from the film. Jake (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of nowhere with no memory of what has happened to him. He's injured and has a strange bracelet strapped to his wrist that he cannot remove. He makes his way to a village only to find out he's a wanted man. While tangling with a powerful man, Woodrow Dollarhyde's (Harrison Ford) son (played by Paul Dano) they soon find themselves under attack by aliens. They take many people from the town, Ella (Oliva Wilde) seems to be the only one that regonizes these creatures and she knows that Jake is the key to help. There were some pretty interesting action sequences in this movie. Obviously technology is different from the 1800's old west and the aliens, so you

DVD Review: Dogville

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A lesson learned. What is that lesson you ask? The lesson of if you really can't stand a director's work, you probably should stop giving him chances. M. Night Shaymalan is a good example of this. He made a wonderful film in The Sixth Sense, an ok film in Unbreakable, and then ruined everything else. I've stopped giving him chances, and now I stop with Lars Von Trier. Von Trier's directing has always come off a bit pretentious to me. I think he tries way to hard to make his films feel "arty." I know that's a broad statement, but some directors (Danny Boyle, Quentin Tarantino) just have a way of shooting things and making them feel brilliant. Von Trier shoves his long shots and slow panning of his stage down our throats. I hated Antichrist. Hated Dancer in the Dark. The only reason I picked up Dogville is because I've been on a bit of a Paul Bettany kick lately and figured something with him, Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skarsgard wouldn't be so bad.

Indie Gems: Manic

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You can't escape yourself. Before we saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel together in the wonderful (500) Days of Summer, we saw them in this gritty indie about teenagers in a psych ward. Lyle (Gordon-Levitt) has just been admitted into treatment for his violent outbursts. The film is about the relationships be forms with the staff and other residents. There's Dr. Monroe (Don Cheadle) who's trying to help him.  Chad (Michael Bacall), a resident he gets close too. He also gets feelings for another disturbed resident, Tracy. (Zooey Deschanel) JGL shot this film when he was a teenager, and even back then you can see what strong actor he is. The film deals with a lot of serious issues youth in treatment face, and it breezes through them without feeling intrusive. I liked the chemistry between Tracy and Lyle, even though their relationship was far from normal. I liked how we got a little bit of story on all of the "main residents." What brought them there, w

Review: Cedar Rapids

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Making other people's dreams come true. That's the philosophy of of Tim Lippe. (Ed Helms) He's a small town insurance salesman who views his occupation as that of a super hero. Saving other people when they are in need of it the most. It's actually a nice way to look at it. Tim has never left home and after a tragedy at work finds himself representing his place of business at a big convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Naive Tim has trouble fitting in with his room mates, Ron (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and Ziegler,(John C. Reilly) and doesn't quite know how to take the advances of Joan (Anne Heche) or even Bree. (Alia Shawkat) Cedar Rapids is a comedy, but it never quite passes from just "ok" to "amusing." I found Ed Helm's character to be way too over the top to be convincing. He's almost too neurotic. Are we really supposed to believe that Tim would get traveler's cheques for a weekend visit to another state? Or that he wouldn't recogni

DVD Review: Running On Empty

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All in the family. Annie and Arthur Pope (Christine Lahti and Judd Hirsch) have been on the run for years. They blew up a building to protest the war and now they must live with fake identities. Unfortuntely this means their young songs have to do the same. Danny, (River Phoenix) is a piano prodigy who is nearly 18. He must make a choice, continue to live this lie, or go on to become a musician and follow his dreams. River Phoenix was truely one of a kind, the depth he showed at such a young age is amazing. He didn't play all the piano peices by himself, but he memorized the movements to make it as legit as he could. He steals scenes left and right. The film would've been mediocre without him. You really start to feel his pain and insecurities with the situation he is in. When he encounters love for the first time (with real life girlfriend Martha Plimpton) we as the audience want him to confess and just have what he's working so hard for. It's hard to watch kids havi