Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

good_the_bad_and_the_ugly

Two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. We’re gonna have to earn it.

— Man With No Name

I have been trying to dive into more classic movies. Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly comes in at number 4 of the Top 250 of all time on IMDB. This is a movie out of MANY that I was embarrassed to have not seen. I am not partial to westerns per say, but I was willing to give it a try. I really liked it.

This is the last film of “The Man With No Name” trilogy. I forgot that it was a trilogy. I need to see A Fistful of Dollars and For Some Dollars More. This movie holds up well on it’s own, which is very rare.

Being introduced to Sergio Leone, I have noticed his unique filming style with multiple close-up shots on the actors, the indelible score by Ennio Morricone and the ten minute wordless beginning. Brillant.

In this final installment, The Man with No Name aka “The Good” (Clint Eastwood) and his outlaw friend, Tuco aka “The Ugly” (Eli Wallach) are searching through the American southwest during the Civil War to find a grave that is said to contain $200,ooo in gold.

After they back stab each other along the way to find the money, their plans are thwarted by a heartless gun slinging Union soldier, Sentenza aka “The Bad” (Lee Van Clef).

Not unlike every other western, the ending fairly predictable, but I enjoyed the ride there. I did have some problems with some of the pacing. The movie was almost three hours long. I was confused that the people talking were dubbed. I found out that most of the characters spoke in Italian or Spanish. I can let that slide.

Overall, the film was a solid film that needs to be viewed.

Judgment: Being this is my first Sergio Leone movie, I would love to see the rest of his films. I would suggest you will, too.

Rating: ****1/2

Advertisements

State of Play (2009)

state_of_play

That’s what you call damn fine reporting.

— Cal McAffrey

Yesterday, I saw State of Play that is based on the BBC miniseries of the same name. This movie is written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray. Directed by Kevin Macdonald.

I heard about this movie a year ago when the writer’s strike was happening. I heard news that Brad Pitt was set to play Cal McAffrey, and Edward Norton was suppose to play Representative Stephen Collins, but they had to drop out of the film. Pitt’s reason was because of the script needing a rewrite and Norton has scheduling conflicts.

The movie opens a possible random act when a drug dealer and bicyclist are gunned down in a dark alleyway by a man with a silencer (Michael Berresse).

The next day, a young Congressional aide, Sonia Baker (Maria Thayer) is found dead after a subway accident. The news travels to Rep. Collins (Ben Affleck) that leads to a media firestorm after their dirty laundry is exposed to the public. The news does not sit well with his wife, Anne (Robin Wright Penn).

A Washington Globe journalist, Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) is an old college friend of Collins. He personally investigates to see if the two murders are interconnected.

The editor-in-chief Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren) is struggling to keep the newspaper afloat in an ever-changing electronic media age. She assigns a rookie that works for the newspaper’s blog, Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) to Cal. Cal is not happy about it. He thinks that bloggers regurgitates another person’s work that adds their “opinion” to it.

There are twists and turns that kept me engaged with the story to the very end. The movie is showing that newspapers are dying a slow, painful death. Nothing is being done to stop it. In an age of Internet blogging, newspapers are struggling to stay current to the times.

Newspapers rule and blogs drool. That should have been the tag line to the movie.

Judgment: If you are looking for a tight political thriller, then check this movie out.

Rating: ***1/2

Retroactive Top Ten Favorite Films of 2000

Here is another retroactive list of top ten favorite films in the year 2000. It was another idea from PIPER at Lazy Eye Theatre. This meme was created by Counting Down the Zeroes.

As per last time, here is my list of favorite films starting from ten:

10

wonder_boysWonder Boys

9

snatch_ver2Snatch

8

high_fidelityHigh Fidelity

7

chocolatChocolat

6

before_night_fallsBefore Night Falls

Read the rest of this entry

KNOW1NG (2009)

knowing

The numbers are the key to everything.

— John Koestler

Seeing as though this is billed as a Nicolas Cage vehicle, I wanted to stay away from this movie as possible. I heard that the ending was a big WTF and a lot of people wanted to know what it means. I saw Knowing and I have some questions about the ending. I was discuss it in the spoiler section after the jump.

The movies starts in 1959 with Lucinda Embry, a peculiar young girl that writes down a series of numbers on a piece of paper for a time capsule that was supposed to be buried in front of the school.

Fifty years later, the capsule is dug up with the contents of it is distributed to the children in the crowd. The letter that contain the numbers is handed to Caleb (Chandler Canterbury) who inadvertently takes it home.

His father, John (Cage), an MIT professor discovers it. He scans the page to see the date of 9/11 and the number of victims from that day. As he drinks heavily throughout that night, discovers that the numbers are a sequence of disastrous events that will lead to the end of life on Earth.

John is trying to reconcile the scientific aspects of the numbers and his waning faith about spirituality, fate, predestination, free will, prophecy, meaning of life.

As he becomes more involved with the incidents, he enlists the help of Diana Wayland, (Rose Byrne) and her daughter, Abby (Lara Robinson) to figure out what can be done with the end of days.

This movie was uneven. The beginning of the movie, I was bored. The action sequences were good, but the CG was awful. The acting was bad. I felt so sorry for Rose. She was underused in the film.

Judgment: If you last thirty minutes of the film were stretched throughout the movie, I would have been ten times better.

Rating: **1/2

Read the rest of this entry

I Love You, Man (2009)

i_love_you_man

Why is it weird that I have girl friends?

— Peter Klaven

Saturday night, I wanted to catch up with some movies that I missed last month. The first of these is I Love You, Man. The bromantic comedy– I hate that saying by the way– that stars Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. After seeing Observe and Report with its WTF ending, I found this film quite refreshing.

Peter Klaven (Rudd) is a man friend deficient, real estate agent that is trying to sell the home of Lou Ferrigno, without much success. At the beginning of the movie, Peter proposes to his girlfriend, Zooey (Rashida Jones).

When they are beginning to plan for the wedding, they realize that Peter does not have any close male friends to be a part of the wedding. With the help of his mother, Joyce (Jane Curtin) and his gay brother, Robbie (Andy Samberg), Peter goes on a series of “man dates” to find the best man for his wedding. Hilarity ensues.

At an open house, Peter meets Sydney Fife (Segel), a manchild investment broker that show Peter how to be man. He ushers him into the world of man. Having a best friend that is a man.

Peter learns about the music of Rush, the dance of passing gas, talking about masturbating, sex and all that.

This is the gayest straight movie ever. This some gay undertones to the movie, but it tries to be so macho. It was hilarious. I enjoyed this movie.

I identified with the Paul Rudd character. I have girl friends and not that many guy friends. I sympathize with Peter’s plight.

Judgment: I suggest check this movie out. There is something different for people to see.

Rating: ****

Top Ten Favorite Characters of All Time

Some of my blogger counterparts were participating in naming their top ten favorite characters of all time. I tagged myself by looking at Piper from Lazy Eye Theatre’s list.

Here is my list starting from number ten.

10

jack-black-high-fidelityBarry played by Jack Black in

“High Fidelity”

Oh, that’s not obvious enough, Rob. How about the Beatles? Or fucking… fucking Beethoven? Side one, track one of the Fifth Symphony… How can someone with no interest in music own a record store?

Everyone has a “Barry” in their lives. That one friend that seems to know everything, and dismisses anyone that might have subpar taste in music. Jack stole every scene that he was in. It made watching this movie more of a pleasure.

9

juleswinnfieldJules Winnfield played by Samuel L. Jackson in

“Pulp Fiction”

Normally, both your asses would be dead as fucking fried chicken, but you happen to pull this shit while I’m in a transitional period. So I don’t wanna kill you. But I can’t give you this case. It don’t belong to me. Besides, I’ve already been through too much shit this morning over this case to hand it over to your dumb ass.

How can you not put Jules Winnfield on your list? Every line that Jackson delivers in gold even something as mundane as television pilots were interesting. He has a duality of being a contract killer, but he could get philosophical on you.

8

khudson_10Penny Lane played by Kate Hudson in

“Almost Famous”

We are not groupies. Groupies sleep with rock stars because they want to be near someone famous. We are here because of the music, we inspire the music. We are Band Aids.

Watching Kate Hudson play Penny Lane, the ultimate Band Aid was a joy. She changed the name of “groupie” forever. There is a look of her face that speaks volumes. Wonderful.

7

airplane_xl_01-film-aDr. Ramack played by Leslie Nielsen in

“Airplane!”

I am serious and don’t call me “Shirley.”

Nielsen playing the straight guy in “Airplane!” was a joy to watch. The one-liners kept coming. I was lapping it up. Fabulous comedic timing.

6

beatrix_2The Bride played by Uma Thurman in the

“Kill Bill” series

Bitch, you can stop right there. Just because I have no wish to murder you before the eyes of your daughter, does not mean parading her around in front of me is going to inspire sympathy. You and I have unfinished business. And not a goddamn fuckin’ thing you’ve done in the subsequent four years, including getting knocked up, is going to change that.

I love the mystery within the Kill Bill series, trying to figure out who “The Bride” was. She wanted to take revenge on the people that ruined her life. I rooted for a killer. Her sword fight was the Crazy 88. Genius.

Read the rest of this entry

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Romantic Comedy

Possibly my favorite quote from any movie, PERIOD!

This is the time when you are all supposed to be in a romantic mood, since I’m about to talk about a real romance type of film. I must say, guys, don’t stray, there’s plenty for you as well!

The script writing and witty execution by Harry Burns (Billy Crystal) and Sally Albright (Meg Ryan) is what movies are missing these days. I was exploring IMDB.com for a grabbing quote, and folks, this whole movie is freakin quotable, its a roar,especially when watching with your significant other and you realize your relationship is just like HArry and Sally’s! Take note, there will never be a movie like this made again!

By the fate of friends and connections, Harry and Sally take a drive from Chicago to New York City where they are off to begin their own lives out of college. On the long trip, Sally is invited into Harry’s twisted and sometimes cynical personality. “You never think of death do you?” he asks. Quickly followed by “I read the last page of a book just incase I die before I’m able to finish, that way, I know how the story ends. That’s sick!”

Sally begins to hate Harry, the womanizer and prodder into her life. They soon part however into the city of 8 million, never expecting to mysteriously meet again in an airport boarding the same flight. Sally’s anger and frustration with the quick talking and clever Harry is renewed as they renew their “never to be” friendship. But soon, like the time before, they part into their lives.

Another five years have passed, and again they run into each other, now after bitter separations from their significant others. But they kindle a friendship that neither of them believed would ever happen. Over the next months, they grew closer and closer together, sharing their lives and stories of dates they had been through.

The times were great, but their trust and relationship takes a huge hit when a night of passion turns into feuding, when Harry treats Sally like “every other woman” he had been with.

But talk about romance, on the night of the big New Year’s Eve party, Harry chases down Sally and makes her believe that he has fallen in love. “Harry Burns, this is what I hate about you! You make it impossible for me to hate you!” And she falls in his arms and lives happily ever after, 10 years and 4 months after they first met.

Okay, so sappiness aside, this is a hilarious movie that will keep you laughing from end to end. I remember hearing about the “orgasm scene” long before ever seeing the movie, and if nothing else, you need to watch the movie just for that!

But in all seriousness, this movie is a classic romance for men and women. Its fun, clever, loving, heart breaking (only shortly) and then the puzzle is assembled. It shows destiny is on our side, and when a person finds their one true love, fate has a way of twisting life so you spend the rest of your lives together. This is an older movie with a certain class that movie makers can not replicate these days. Movies like “When Harry Met Sally” make me wonder where the state of love is these days and how crushed it really is.

Please, for those of you unfortunate enough not to have seen this movie, take it from me, it’s worth it. And even if you have seen it dozens of times, watch it again, especially if you’re married with a story of your own. I laughed from beginning to end and was amazed in one of my classes recently to see how many of my peers have not seen this film. People, IT IS A MUST SEE!

 

Rating: 4 stars (because I can’t give more)!

 

Cash Back (2006)

Director: Sean Ellis

Rated: R

cashback1

“This is the haunting period. The time when the demons of regret come for you.”

Hello all! My name is Mike, and I’m new here, so nice to meet all of you!

I generally don’t dabble with the movie scene, but as an avid viewer, I decided to partake on this journey with you all.

All I ask is that you be gentle, as I said, I am new with all of this. With that said, comment freely and critically on my reviews. I try to be honest and I want the same from you. It’s the only way we get better at what we do!

So, without further adu:

I decided to peel back a few years ago to 2006, and grabbed this little surprise that I recently ran over about an artist, his heartbreak and how his world came crashing to a hault, literally!

Ben Willis (Sean Biggerstaff) is in a load of trouble. How is an art student with a broken heart and insomnia supposed to cope with the hazards of loneliness and depression?

After breaking up with his girlfriend, Ben suddenly finds himself unable to sleep and wondering, “what do I do with an extra eight hours on my hands?” In the nightly hours as his body becomes restless and his mind unable to release the image of his screaming girlfriend.

With the thoughts of his ex- racing through his mind, Ben decides to start working for a supermarket on the night shift, where he spends eight hours counting away the minutes with a cast of quirky characters, each having learned how to pass the time(including some spectacular scooter races down aisle 6).

Ben learns to use his artistic imagination to stop time. With the blink of an eye the people around him freeze, and he is able to study the curves and beauty that lies within everyone. But particularly he takes to a cute checkout girl, Sharon (Emilia Fox), who may unlock the secret to Ben’s insomnia.

(Spoiler alert, don’t wanna read, turn away now!)

Okay, so the ending is predictable, the two end up together. But the way Ben is able to blow her mind is potentially on the edge of amazing and creepy. But look, the guy is able to freeze time, and being an artist, he has always been blown away by the female form (seeing a Swedish exchange student who was nothing if not modest). So he is able to sketch and capture those he has stopped in time and bring their beauty to life on canvas. You may think this is creepy and stalkerish, but he was able to bring beauty out from the lines and surfaces of each model.

This movie has a subtlety to it, and an inner beauty I really looked for. I has read some reviews saying both good and bad things about this movie, and I was intrigued and trust me I was not disappointed. There lies a connection with Ben as most have gone through an emotional time like a break up, and we’ve all wanted to curl up and disappear from the world. That’s what Ben did, and director/writer Sean Ellis was able to portray it to a T!

For more of the plot, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0460740/ .

I would recommend everyone that is old enough to handle mature scenes (nudity, language, the movie is rated R) should watch this movie twice (the second time to get the real feeling for all those subtle things I mentioned).

Rating: 4 stars!

So get on it!

Observe and Report (2009)

observe_and_report

The world has no use for another scared man. Right now, the world needs a fucking hero.

— Ronnie Barnhardt

I was curious to see Observe and Report because of the dark comic nature of the piece from writer/director, Jody Hill of The Foot Fist Way. Hill wanted the movie to be a comedic take on Taxi Driver. People have been comparing Ronnie Barnhardt to Travis Bickle. I guess, Hill succeeded in that regard, but not in other regards.

I saw the red band trailer for the movie. I was intrigued to see it.  Some of the biggest laughs were spoiled in that trailer.

Ronnie (Seth Rogen) is a gun-toting, self-absorbed, bi-polar security guard that blows Paul Blart out of the water as he tries to catch a flasher that is stalking the mall. The flasher eventually exposes himself to Brandi (Anna Faris), a makeup counter girl and Ronnie’s infatuation.

Ronnie tries his best to swoop in and save the day when Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) is called in to help catch the flasher also. Ronnie doesn’t want any interference from the police department.

He calls in his troops; the right hand man Dennis (Michael Peña), the Yuen twins (Matt and John Yuan), and lastly, the reluctant Charles (Jesse Plemons).

Ronnie moves in on Harrison’s investigation by trying to figure out another crime that happened at a shoe store. Ronnie blames any brown-skinned person that he talks to including, Saddamn (Aziz Ansari).

During the course of the movie, the tone goes into a very dark place. The last thirty minutes of the movie are FUBAR. Inexplicable guns appearing, a “date rape” scene — that was so brief — that was the scene that got people up in arms, endless violence, a slow motion male frontal nudity shot, and copious amounts of drugs.

Judgment: I love a comedy that have a dark sense of humor, but this movie is flawed. Watch In Bruges instead.

Rating: **1/2

Fast & Furious (2009)

fast_and_furious1

I’m a boy who appreciates a good body, regardless of the marque.

— Dominic Toretto

After burning through millions of DVDs over the past week, I wanted to catch a movie at the cinema. The movies that I wanted to watch were not available, except for one: Fast & Furious. I was not terribly excited for this movie. All the the original cast the The Fast and the Furious are back this outing. It was a waste of time.

In this “interquel” from the first movie, the audience is reintroduced to Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his girlfriend, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) as they try to rob an oil tanker. Things go wrong. They are focused to go on the run some more.

Dom knows that he would be caught and he doesn’t want Letty to be there to see it. He leaves her behind.

When he is in Panama, he hears news from his sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster) that Letty was killed. Everything becomes like a vigilante story, instead of a film about fast cars.

The morally comprised undercover cop/FBI agent, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) investigates a drug cartel kingpin named Braga, who is trying to sneak his supply in the U.S.

The former rivals, O’Conner and Toretto re-team to help track down the person that killed Letty and the Braga person that could be the mastermind behind everything.

I have watched the entire franchise that this movie was so boring. Why can’t it be flashy cars, burning rubber and sexy bare chestedness? The cars were just on the back burner in this movie than in the first movie. It is a shame.

The movie tried to be a procedural, but it fails. I didn’t care. The characters were wasted. The tunnel chase was completely lame. The GPS race was morally reprehensible. Endangering innocent people lives so they could be Braga’s “driver.” Whatever.

One last little note about Brian O’Conner. How the hell did he get the FBI job? He is awful as a cop. He let Dom go in the end of the first movie and the high-ups say, “Yes, you neglected to bring in Toretto. Let’s promote you.” Say what? Are you fucking kidding me?

Judgment: Don’t bother watching this movie. Watch the first movie and Tokyo Drift instead.

Rating: *1/2

%d bloggers like this: