Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Duchess (2008)


Here is another film that has been getting some attention in awards season, The Duchess. Ralph Fiennes is nominated for his supporting performance of William, the Duke of Devonshire at the Golden Globes.

I saw the trailers for this movie a couple of months ago. I wanted to go, because it was getting buzz and the buzz died out. In turn, I didn’t go.

I heard from Tassoula on the “Cinebanter” podcast talk about this movie and how liked the movie and suggested it to other people. I’m glad she did. This film just came out on DVD a couple of days ago.

The story is focused on Georgiana (Keira Knightley) when she was in her late teens. She is sought out by the Duke to become his wife and sired a son. After the wedding, she settles in with her new life as the Duchess of Devonshire.

Her world comes crashing down when she realizes that her husband is a philander. She knows that she is trapped in a loveless marriage. She tries to find other outlets for her. Her mother, Lady Spencer (Charlotte Rampling) urges her to fulfill her duties as a wife and mother of her girls.

In Bath, Georgiana meets a woman that has just rebuffed her husband’s advances, Lady Elizabeth “Bess” Foster (Hayley Atwell). Bess’s husband abandons her for his mistress. Georgiana urges William to let Bess stay with them until she could get back on her feet and have the chance to see her three sons.

During the course of the movie, Georgiana is betrayed in the deepest, hurtful way imaginable. Her husband becomes a miserable cad. Georgiana has a affair with Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper).

I felt so much sympathy for Georgiana. She is modern woman living in the wrong time. I realized that she is actually an ancestor of Princess Diana.

It’s a wonderful sweeping film. The costumes are gorgeous. The music had me on the edge of my seat. The performances were great. You must see this film.

My rating: *** 1/2 stars.

Frozen River (2008)


I heard about Courtney Hunt’s debut film, Frozen River from a couple of people from my Oscar Watchers group. It was a great recommendation from them. This movie has been nominated for 7 Independent Spirit Awards. It is so deserved. I hope that Melissa Leo, Misty Upham and Courtney Hunt’s script get nominated for Oscars. I am serious about that.

This film was also recommended from Metacritic with a score of 82.

The movie takes place a couple of days before Christmas in a desolate New York township where Ray (Melissa Leo) is in danger of having her furniture and her mobile home being reprocessed when her gambling husband skips out of her. She tries to find her hunter green Dodge Spirit. She finds it at a bingo hall where her husband frequents.

A young Mohawk woman, Lila (Misty Upham) takes the car to her small trailer in the middle of the woods. Ray threatens Lila to get the car back to her. Lila propositions Ray to earn easy money for her family’s dream double wide trailer to smuggle illegal immigrants from the Mohawk territory in Quebec across the frozen St. Lawrence River to New York.

This film is wonderful. It’s not predictable with the way that it was going. It was very organic. It touched on how people could do illegal things in order to survive. It’s like the question, would it be right to steal a loaf in order to feed your family? That is the dilemma that faces both Ray and Lila as mothers trying to support their families.

This movie affected my so much to that I want to say to people see this movie. I implore you. Catch it online, at your local indie theater, on DVD. Any capacity.

My rating: ***** stars.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

slumdog_millionaire
Everybody has been salivating over Slumdog Millionaire, which was based on Vikas Swarup’s novel, “Q & A.” This is the latest film from Danny Boyle along with his co-director Loveleen Tandan. This movie has 86 on the Metatcritic and it has been nominated for 4 Golden Globes awards. People are saying that this is the best film of the year. I would strongly disagree with that.

I want to list the good things about this film. The direction of this movie was great. The visuals of the slums in India, the jailhouse and the studio were awesome. To me, I think that the flashback of younger Jamal, Latika and Salim were great. The Hindi parts were genius. I was fine with the subtitles. It was very effective to the narrative. The way that the Muslim people were treated in the slums was heartbreaking. There were some cringe-worthy moments in this film, but not tough to watch.

I loved Anil Kapoor as the game show host, Prem Kumar.

However, I need to say that I have problems with the film. There are an abundant amount of Dutch angles in this film. Is that necessary? The reason why Jamal goes on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” is so stupid. Just so he wants to know that Latika is watching. Are you kidding me?

When Jamal is suspected of cheating every question he knows the answer to, even the ones that he has no idea, he gets right. For example, he was asked how does he know who is on the $100 bill and he flashes back to his blind friend telling him the answer was Benjamin Franklin. Yet, he doesn’t know who is on the currency of the $1000 rupee bill. I call bullshit.

Some of the dialogue was hard to understand with the police officers (Irrfan Khan and Saruabh Shukla). There was one part in the film when a couple of officers pass by the camera. One of them says, “Stop filming. Stop filming.” Shouldn’t the editor, Chris Dickins or Danny Boyle catch that? Lastly, when older Jamal (Dev Patel) confronts his estranged brother, Salim (Madhur Mittal) and punches him, when he yells you can hear Dev’s British accent come out in full force. That took me out of the film.

Some people compare this film to City of God. Personally, they are not in the same league. Yes, they have to deal with kids that have to live through insurmountable odds, and have to turn to violence in order to survive, but that’s where the similarities end.

I think that this movie’s biggest disservice is that it was based on a book. If you based a “romance” from a book, then the romance would feel forced and disingenuous.

It was a good movie. Absolutely, but I’m not going to shower total praise on this film.

My rating: *** stars.

Surprising and Underwhelming Movies of 2008

Well, I wait for five movies that I am looking forward to review, Slumdog Millionaire, Revolutionary Road, Doubt, Rachel Getting Married and The Wrestler to see. I want to see another list of those films that I was surprised that I liked and also those films that I thought were overrated films getting a lot of Oscar buzz that are not needed.

Surprising movies of 2008:

“Hamlet 2”

People were very lukewarm to this movie. Saying it was very offensive and bashing Christianity. I think when people take themselves too seriously then they should be made fun of. I thought the actual production was genius.

“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

I was hesitant to see this film because I was angry when I saw “Cassandra’s Dream” and “Scoop”. I was expecting to hate this movie, but I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this film. I had some problems with the characterizations of Bardem’s and Cruz’s characters, but I enjoyed the dynamics with the characters in different configurations.

“Role Models”

This movie was slow to start with me. Some of the jokes fell flat, but when the Big Brothers (Rudd and Scott) begin to immerse themselves in the lives of their Little Brothers (Mintz-Plaas, Thompson) it really shines. Also, the epic battle sequence at the end was classic.

“Gran Torino”

I heard people trashing movie, Clint’s performance, the young actors, the ridiculous situations, and everything in between. I quite enjoyed this film. Is it the best film of the year? No. Was it a fun ride? For me, abso-fucking-lutely. I liked the playful racist banter between Walt and the barber and the supervisor at the construction site. It was hilarious to me.

“Zack and Miri Make A Porno”

It’s not that I had low expectations of this movie. This film is coming from the wonderfully dirty of Kevin Smith. I was surprised that the film did not make enough money when it was released on Halloween. I listen to his podcast, SModcast for awhile and I was disheartened that Kevin was holed up in his house for months when he learned that the film barely broke even at the box office.

I thought the film was hilarious. Jason Mewes getting incredibly ripped at showing what he’s got. Dutch-ruddering. Classic Kevin Smith. Don’t worry, Kev, people will definitely purchased this on DVD.

“In Bruges”

I saw the trailer for this film at the beginning of the year and I thought it was just another hitman movie. I’ve seen enough of those. When I heard the guys at “Filmspotting” and the hosts of “Cinebanter” praise this film. I wanted to see it when it came out on DVD. This is the most vastly underrated movie of the year. It’s so good with it’s politically incorrect dialogue, unsympathetic characters that have some redeeming qualities about them, also the undercurrent of faith, life, death, and purgatory was perfectly captured in this film.

“Iron Man”

When I heard that “Iron Man” was coming out in theaters, I was iffy with it. Then, after the box office bonanza, I wanted to see it, but I was holding out for “The Dark Knight” and “Sex and the City: The Movie”. I saw this movie around the time the DVD came out. I was hesitant with the beginning sequences in Afghanistan. It went on a little too long, but when it got back to America. It soars. Literally. The special effects, the flying, the way the suit build around Tony Stark. I had a mind-gasm. Let’s not forget the last line of the movie. Pretty bad ass.

Underwhelming movies of 2008:

“Frost/Nixon”

This film has been nominated for a couple of awards; Golden Globes, SAGs, Critics Choice, etc. Frank Langella was good as Richard Nixon. Michael Sheen is an underrated actor as well as Sam Rockwell. The movie as a whole didn’t grab me. This was a play converted to the big screen by Peter Morgan, based on his play. I didn’t feel anything. We all know what happens in the end. The “documentary” vignettes were unnecessary. I wish there was more umph.

“Twilight”

People were going apeshit over this movie. Teenage girls were creaming their panties over Robert Pattinson. Fans of Stephanie Meyers were salivating over seeing this film. I was just curious at what the fuss was all about. The movie was blah. It just laid there like a lump of coal. It was washed out. There was no action in it. The questionable hair choices of the cast. The endless stares. I could go on and on, but I won’t. This movie was disappointing to say the very least.

“The Visitor”

I heard about this movie on one of the podcasts that I listen to. I watched the latest movie from Tom McCarthy and I really liked it, but it lacked the depth and subtly like he had done with “The Station Agent.” Richard Jenkins was good as well as Haaz Sleiman as Tarek. The culture aspect of the film was good, but the hanging chad that was the immigration issue was not explored further.

“Snow Angels”

Here is another film that I heard of and I checked it out and I was not into it like I wanted it to be. The characters were unsympathetic and have no redeeming qualities. I didn’t care about them. I only cared about the teenagers in the movie and Amy Sedaris.

“WALL-E”

I was up and down whether this movie should be here. I like the movie, I almost cried when WALL-E almost died. However, the blatant environmental message that Andrew Stanton tries to downplay. I don’t buy it, sir. I wish that the message did not slap you in the face. The fat people rolling around like blobs of flesh. The inexplicable babies in the nursery when the people always stayed in those hovering chairs.

“Australia”

Except for the orgasmic scene of Hugh Jackman bathing, this movie began so awkwardly. The dynamic between Lady Ashley and the Drover was awful in the beginning. In the middle, I finally saw it. The scenery of Australia was gorgeous. The cinematography, top-notch. The last half of the movie should not be there. The villain was so evil that I could see his side. No ground was broken in this film. I love Bax Luhrmann, but I expected so much more from this ill-conceived epic.

“Sex and the City: The Movie”

I was looking forward to movie when I was angered by the shiteous series finale of this show. I thought that it would be a good book end to the franchise as a whole, but not. Some scenes could have been cut out.

Jennifer Hudson’s character was completely wasted in this film. (My thoughts are with her since her family tragedy.) Samantha did not have sex with Dante (Giles Marini). Dante showed all of his goods. I love that. The men in this movie were wasted as well, except for Big and Steve.

I heard that their might be a sequel. What else can they do?

I wanted to share the movies that were good and not so good. I hope you enjoyed my tirade.

FB Recommendation: In The Bedroom (2001)


On the CW last night, they showed a movie that I loved when it was released back in 2001, In The Bedroom. This movie is vastly underrated as a great film. It was nominated for five Oscars. Deservedly so.

I thought that it was strange that the movie was nominated for Best Picture, but Todd Field was not nominated for directing. The Academy put Ridley Scott and David Lynch in his place. I don’t get that logic.

The movie is about the Fowler family who lives are irrevocably affected a tragic event in their Maine town. Matt Fowler (Tom Wilkinson) is a doctor and Ruth (Sissy Spacek) is a choir director. They are concerned by their college age only child, Frank (Nick Stahl) is having a affair with an older married woman, Natalie Stout (Marisa Tomei).

Their quiet life is rocked to the core when Natalie’s estranged husband, Richard (William Mapother) kills Frank during a fight. The tragedy truly begins when Richard does not go to jail for his crime. This leaves the Fowlers through a path of anger, grief, betrayal and revenge.

A fantastic movie that people should see.

My rating: ****1/2 stars.

Weird Science (1985)


This is one of John Hughes’ films that absolutely loved when I was a kid, besides “Breakfast Club”, “Pretty in Pink”, “Sixteen Candles”, and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. I always watched this movie when it was showing on the WB a couple of years ago.

Encore was doing their 80s weekend. I saw that Weird Science was coming on and I was excited. It’s been a while since I saw this movie unedited, uncensored. I still love this movie. I idenify with the dorky guy trying to fit in the crowd.

I loved this film so much that I even saw the TV show that was playing a couple of years ago.

Watching this again I was quite annoyed with the voice of Wyatt, played by Ilan Mitchell-Smith. It was screechy and whiny.

Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Lisa (Kelly LeBrock) were great. I quoted Lisa’s lines. I know that I’m a total dork. Can you blame me?

This was probably the first time that I could remember that Bill Paxton did not have his signature monotone delivery to his dialogue. It was quite refreshing.

Robert Downey, Jr. makes an appearance here.

I realize that the plot is absurd, but it’s stupidly fun. Classic John Hughes.

My ratings: *** stars.

Worst Films of the Year

Happy Christmakkahwanzaa, everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.

I am still preparing my top ten list of 2008. I will do something a little different. I wanted to harpoon those films that I thought were absolutely atrocious. Some I didn’t bother to write a review for them, because I didn’t want to waste my words and my time on them.

Here is my list of the worst of the worst for 2008:

“Wendy and Lucy”
“The Days the Earth Stood Still”
“JCVD”
“Tropic Thunder”
“Towelhead”
“Pineapple Express”
“Burn After Reading”
“Changeling”
“Dear Zachary”
“Paranoid Park”
“Shelter”
“W.”
“Teeth”

Fight Club (1997)


Over the Christmas holiday, I wanted to ease off on the movie watching. Just relax over the holidays. Now, that I’m back I am plowing ahead full force.

On Christmas, I was looking at Fight Club. It was shown on G4 on their “Movies That Don’t Suck” showcase.

I did not see this film when it was released in theaters in 1999. I was so broke that I couldn’t a ticket. I caught this film when it was on cable a couple of months when it was on rotation. I saw different parts of the movie, but somehow I didn’t see the ending of the film. When I finally saw the ending, it was a sucker punch to the jaw.

I was looking at the movie to see what were the clue that lead to the end of the movie. I totally missed them. Now that I know, it has become a better movie, because of it.

If you don’t know the premise, I’ll summarize. It’s a story about The Narrator (Ed Norton), a mild-mannered salesman meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) to start an underground fight club.

That’s it. It’s a very simple plot line that is executed very well. There are some great dialogue.

My ratings: ***1/2 stars.

I Have Seen 148 of These Movies

SUPPOSEDLY if you’ve seen over 85 films, you have no life. Mark the ones you’ve seen. There are 239 films on this list. Copy this list, go to your own blog/facebook/myspace account, paste this as a note. Then, put x’s next to the films you’ve seen, add them up, change the header adding your number, and click post at the bottom. Have fun.

(X) Rocky Horror Picture Show
(X) Grease
(X) Pirates of the Caribbean
(X) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest
(X) Boondock Saints
(x) Fight Club
() Starsky and Hutch
(X) Neverending Story
() Blazing Saddles
(X) Airplane
Total: 8

(x) The Princess Bride
(x) Anchorman
() Napoleon Dynamite
() Labyrinth
() Saw
() Saw II
() White Noise
(X) White Oleander
(x) Anger Management
(x) 50 First Dates
(x) The Princess Diaries
(x) The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Total so far:15

(x) Scream
(x) Scream 2
(x) Scream 3
(x) Scary Movie
() Scary Movie 2
() Scary Movie 3
() Scary Movie 4
(X) American Pie
(x) American Pie 2
(x) American Wedding
() American Pie Band Camp
Total so far: 22

(X) Harry Potter 1
(X) Harry Potter 2
(X) Harry Potter 3
() Harry Potter 4
() Resident Evil 1
() Resident Evil 2
(x) The Wedding Singer
(x) Little Black Book
(x) The Village
() Lilo & Stitch
Total so far: 28

(x) Finding Nemo
() Finding Neverland
(X) Signs
(x) The Grinch
(x) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
() Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
(x) White Chicks
(x) Butterfly Effect
(x) 13 Going on 30
(X) I, Robot
(X) Robots
Total so far: 37

(X) Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
(x) Universal Soldier
() Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
(X) Along Came Polly
() Deep Impact
(x) KingPin
(x) Never Been Kissed
(x) Meet The Parents
(x) Meet the Fockers
(x) Eight Crazy Nights
() Joe Dirt
(x) KING KONG
Total so far: 46

(x) A Cinderella Story
(X) The Terminal
() The Lizzie McGuire Movie
() Passport to Paris
(x) Dumb & Dumber
() Dumber & Dumberer
(x) Final Destination
(x) Final Destination 2
() Final Destination 3
(x) Halloween
(X) The Ring
() The Ring 2
(x) Surviving X-MAS
(x) Flubber
Total so far: 55

() Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
(x) Practical Magic
(x) Chicago
() Ghost Ship
() From Hell
(x) Hellboy
(x) Secret Window
(x) I Am Sam
(x) The Whole Nine Yards
(x) The Whole Ten Yards
Total so far: 62

(X) The Day After Tomorrow
(x) Child’s Play
() Seed of Chucky
() Bride of Chucky
(x) Ten Things I Hate About You
() Just Married
(x) Gothika
(x) Nightmare on Elm Street
(x) Sixteen Candles
(x) Remember the Titans
() Coach Carter
() The Grudge
() The Grudge 2
(x) The Mask
() Son Of The Mask
Total so far: 70

(X) Bad Boys
() Bad Boys 2
() Joy Ride
() Lucky Number Slevin
(x) Ocean’s Eleven
(x) Ocean’s Twelve
(X) Bourne Identity
(X) Bourne Supremacy
() Lone Star
(x) Bedazzled
(X) Predator I
() Predator II
() The Fog
(x) Ice Age
(x) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
() Curious George
Total so far: 79

(X) Independence Day
() Cujo
() A Bronx Tale
() Darkness Falls
() Christine
(x) ET
(x) Children of the Corn
() My Bosses Daughter
(x) Maid in Manhattan
(X) War of the Worlds
(X) Rush Hour
(x) Rush Hour 2
Total so far: 86

() Best Bet
(x) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
(x) She’s All That
(x) Calendar Girls
(X) Sideways
() Mars Attacks
() Event Horizon
(x) Ever After
(x) Wizard of Oz
(x) Forrest Gump
(X) Big Trouble in Little China
(X) The Terminator
(X) The Terminator 2
(X) The Terminator 3
Total so far: 97

(x) X-Men
(x) X-2
(x) X-3
(X) Spider-Man
(x) Spider-Man 2
(x) Sky High
() Jeepers Creepers
() Jeepers Creepers 2
() Catch Me If You Can
(x) The Little Mermaid
() Freaky Friday – ORIGINAL VERSION
(x) Reign of Fire
(x) The Skulls
(x) Cruel Intentions
() Cruel Intentions 2
() The Hot Chick
(X) Shrek
(x) Shrek 2
Total so far: 109

(X) Swimfan
() Miracle on 34th street – ORIGINAL VERSION, BLACK AND WHITE
(x) Old School
() The Notebook
(x) K-Pax
() Krippendorf’s Tribe
(x) A Walk to Remember
() Ice Castles
() Boogeyman
(x) The 40-year-old Virgin
Total so far: 114

(X) Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring
(X) Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
(X) Lord of the Rings Return Of the King
(x) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
(x) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
(x) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Total so far: 120

(x) Baseketball
() Hostel
() Waiting for Guffman
() House of 1000 Corpses
() Devils Rejects
(x) Elf
() Highlander
(x) Mothman Prophecies
(x) American History X
() Three
Total so Far: 124

(x) The Jacket
() Kung Fu Hustle
() Shaolin Soccer
() Night Watch
(X) Monsters Inc.
(x) Titanic
(X) Monty Python and the Holy Grail
() Shaun Of the Dead
() Willard
Total so far: 128

() High Tension
() Club Dread
(X) Hulk
() Dawn Of the Dead
(X) Hook
() Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
(X) 28 days later
() Orgazmo
() Phantasm
(X) Waterworld
Total so far: 132

(X) Kill Bill vol 1
(X) Kill Bill vol 2
(x)Mortal Kombat
() Wolf Creek
() Kingdom of Heaven
() the Hills Have Eyes – ORIGINAL VERSION
() I Spit on Your Grave aka the Day of the Woman
() The Last House on the Left
() Re-Animator
() Army of Darkness
Total so far: 135

(x) Star Wars Ep. I The Phantom Menace
(x) Star Wars Ep. II Attack of the Clones
(x) Star Wars Ep. III Revenge of the Sith
(x) Star Wars Ep. IV A New Hope
(x) Star Wars Ep. V The Empire Strikes Back
(x) Star Wars Ep. VI Return of the Jedi
() Ewoks Caravan Of Courage
() Ewoks The Battle For Endor
Total so far: 141

(x) The Matrix
(X) The Matrix Reloaded
(X) The Matrix Revolutions
() Animatrix
() Evil Dead
() Evil Dead 2
(x) Team America: World Police
(x) Red Dragon
(x Silence of the Lambs
(x) Hannibal
Total so far: 148

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)


Here is another movie that have been nominated for 4 Golden Globes recently. Best Actor for Javier Bardem, Best Actress for Rebecca Hall, Best Supporting Actress for Penélope Cruz and Best Picture – Comedy.

This is a movie that I actually liked. It was showing at one movie theater here in Houston. I saw the movie yesterday.

This movies is the latest Woody Allen movie in European tour after he abandoned his beloved New York City behind a couple of years ago. After I was disappointed with his latest efforts, I was surprised that I loved this film. I heard that Allen was offered some money from the Spanish government to film a movie there. Here Vicky Cristina Barcelona is born.

The movie is about a pair of friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) visiting Barcelona for a couple of months. Vicky is a timid college student that is studying the Catalan culture of Spain. She is engaged to Doug (Chris Messina) that is working in New York. Cristina is free-spirited woman that does not want to led a boring life. She is trying to find herself and passion for something more in life.

They stay in the house of Vicky’s distant relative, Judy Nash (Patricia Clarkson) and her husband, Mark(Kevin Dunn).

One night when they are out at an art gallery, they meet a broodingly handsome painter, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Cristina is immediately attracted to him. Out to dinner, they run into Juan Antonio, who blatantly propositions them to a threesome at his house in Oviedo. Vicky brutally rebuffs him, but Cristina is gung-ho about bedding down a total stranger.

Eventually, romantic entanglements occur between Vicky and Juan Antonio, Cristina and Juan Antonio and also between Cristina, Juan Antonio and his spitfire ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz).

Everybody was salivating with the kiss between Cristina and Maria Elena. It was very sweet. Nothing sexual.

During the course of the film, the personalities between Cristina and Vicky switch. Cristina wants to be in a monogamous relationship with Juan Antonio, but Maria Elena is a complication in the matter. Vicky takes a chance at being reckless with her relationship toward Juan Antonio and her engagement to Doug.

I liked this movie better than “Scoop” or “Cassandra’s Dream.” It was on par with “Match Point.” The scenery was wonderful. It reminded me of the time when I visited Spain over a decade ago. Fond memories.

I will say that I have a problem with the narration by Christopher Evan Welch. It does not need to be in this movie. I think it was very lazy in that respect. Why can’t we have silence? Contemplation? I wanted to have that period to reflect the action of action. I don’t need everything being spelled out to me.

Lastly, I think that Woody Allen did a disservice for the Spanish characters in this movie. The male as the stereotypical Latin lover/Lothario character and the female as the spitfire. Really, Woody? We have seen these archetypes again and again.

My rating: ***1/2 stars.

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