Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

I was wondering when I was going to get “The Versatile Blogger” award. Thank you to Jim and Jon from Movie Mobsters for this honor. I don’t know if I deserve it, but I’m trying to expand from just movie reviews.

Just like in Fight Club, here the rules:

Rule #1: Thank the person who gave you this award

Rule #2: Share 7 things about yourself

Rule #3: Pass the award along to fifteen other blogs who you have recently discovered and who you think fantastic for whatever reasons! (in no particular order)

Rule #4: Contact the blogs you picked and let them know about the award.

Here are seven facts about me:

1. During a time in 2002, I tried to grow my hair out to look like Justin Guarini from American Idol Season One, but I looked more like Buckwheat from Little Rascals.

2. I am double jointed. Before your mind goes there, it’s only on my left thumb. Weird place to put it.

Next fact contains spoiler:

3. When I was ten and saw Dick Tracy with my father, I thought that Madonna was actually faceless and dead when her character was killed at the end of the movie. It was not until her “Express Yourself” video on Mtv that she was actually alive. Hey, I didn’t know any better.

4. A couple of years ago, I was dead broke. In order to buy food for myself I had to sell my entire collection of movies, TV boxsets and CDs.

5. When I was in sixth grade, I hated that people were spelling my name wrong that I wanted people to call me, Brad. A goofy black boy named Brad. Yeah!

6. With my love for cinema, I went into a job interview at the Angelika Theater here in Houston for an usher position. I have going to the theater for months before this point, I did not get the job. I haven’t been back to the theater since.  Bitterness? Maybe.

7. I went to my first R-rated movie when I was 11. My family wanted to see Boyz ‘N the Hood. The scene where Cuba Gooding Jr is kissing over Nia Long’s uncovered boobs, I covered my eyes.

Tagging is so fun!

I know that most of the people that I am highlighting that have been tagged already. I don’t care. Anybody else reading this, you are tagged by association.

Castor and Red @ Anomalous Material – I just love this site. The Comedy Tournament is genius.

Blake @ Bitchin’ Film Reviews – Even thought we disagree on certain movies, I respect your unique opinions on cinema.

Aiden @ Cut the Crap Movie Reviews – Man, I can’t wait for a new review from you. I think your writing is hilarious.

Matt @ CyniCritics – Reading your reviews make me wonder to better my own chicken scratch.

Simon @ Four of Them – You could be blunt and to the point with your reviews.

Everybody @ iRate Films – Reading the reviews is like eating chocolate. I don’t know what that means.

Caz @ Let’s Go to the Movies – I know that you have been on hiatus. I look forward to reading your words.

Meredith @ M. Carter at the Movies – Congrats on your Best Blog LAMMY. Much deserved!

Marshall @ Marshall and the Movies – Sometimes I questions why you would trash a movies and give it a B, but I understand your reasoning behind it.

Jason @ My New Plaid Pants – He is about as versatile as you can get. Movie reviews, news, trailers, random topics are always hilarious.

Tom @ Plus Trailers – I kinda sucks that you get movies a good six months after they left the theaters here.

Matt Hatter @ The Dark of the Matinee – Love your concise reviews and the podcast is not too shabby either.

Steve and Brian @ The Film Cynics – You guys are fucking AWESOME!

Will @ The Film Reel – Dude, you review the most out there movies.

This Guy @ This Guy Over Here – I didn’t know they were that many films just from the 2000s. (I’m kidding, of course.)

My heart is so filled.

Toy Story 3 (2010)

So long… partner.

— Woody

Currently the #6 Film of All-Time on IMDb, Toy Story 3 is the inevitable conclusion of the series Pixar created over fifteen years ago. It finally goes full circle as we get to know how these characters that we grew up with will do once they are not needed anymore. This latest offering redeems everything bad that I have said about Pixar as of long, a coherent story with memorable characters that is not trying to be overly ambitious.

After years of being holed up in the toy box, the toys try to find ways of getting Andy’s (John Morris) attention. Now that he is seventeen, the dreaded time has come when Andy is going to give them up. He leaves for college in a couple of days. He has to decide whether who will come with him, go to the attic, donate or be thrown away. Half of the toys has already been given away over the years except for Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Hamm, (John Ratzenberger), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Bull’s-Eye, Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles, Estelle Harris) and Molly’s Barbie (Jodi Benson).

While Andy decided to bring Woody to college with him and leave the other toys for the attic. Andy carelessly put the others in a garbage bag which makes Andy’s mom (Laurie Metcalf) think that they are garbage. Woody tries to save them before getting tossed into the garbage where the break out to go to the donate box.

Andy’s mom drops the toys off at a daycare center called Sunny Side. When the toys first get there, they thought it was a fantastical place where they would be played with everyday. This was the Butterfly Room with the pre-schoolers. After the pre-schoolers leave the leader of the Butterfly Room, Lotso the Bear (Ned Beatty) welcomes the newcomers with the help of Ken (Michael Keaton) as a tour guide.

Lotso and Ken show Andy toys around the place and lead them into the Caterpillar Room which is for the toddlers that are not as gentle with the toys like the Butterfly Room. Woody wants the gang to stay together with Andy or in the attic. The others want to stay at the daycare center. Woody wants to stay with Andy. Woody leaves and is picked up by a little girl named Bonnie (Emily Hahn). At Bonnie’s house, Woody hears that the other toys are in trouble and Woody has to decide whether to go back to Andy’s house or save the toys.

This movie explained better the themes that were introduced in the second movies with the inevitably of every toy that they will not be needed anymore. Their owners grow up. They have different priorities and playing with a toy is not one of them. If my toys could talk, they would have the same conversation the toys had in this movie. This movie ultimately shows up that when somebody grows up. No matter how big they are. There will always be an inner child poking out of them.

The ending of the movie was heartbreaking, heart affirming, poignant and brilliant. Being leery of this installment, I would say that this is a perfect ending for this series.

Judgment: Bravo and thank you, Pixar.

Rating: ****1/2

Get Him to the Greek (2010)

When the world slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry wall.

— Aldous Snow

When you hear the word “spin-off”, it usually means impending doom. I did not like Forgotten Sarah Marshall that much. I thought the only highlight of the film was Russell Brand’s Zen rocker character of Aldous Snow. Now, Aldous Snow has he own star vehicle, Get Him to the Greek. It seems like a bad idea to me. Coming away from it, I felt like it was great decision to do so.

We follow Aldous Snow as his new album, African Child is about to drop. There is a media blitz promotion the hell out of it. There is also a video of same name that he performs with his on and off girlfriend of seven years and baby’s mama, Jackie Q (Rose Byrne). When his album comes out, it’s a huge bomb. A devastated Snow pulls a Kanye/Blohan/Winestone with him boozing it up, taking blow, exposing his naughty bits and much worse. He goes underground for awhile.

Jonah Hill—not reprising his role of Matthew the Waiter—is Aaron Green, an intern working for Pinnacle Records. He and his live-in girlfriend, Daphne (Elisabeth Moss) are trying to have sex, but with her hellish schedule, they couldn’t. He is frustrated as all get out.

Aaron gets his ass chewed out along with his co-workers from their boss, Sergio (Sean Combs) from sagging sales of their artists as of late. Sergio wants to know what can be done to remedy their dire situation. Aaron thinks that they should have a reunion concert with Aldous Snow to commemorate the tenth anniversary of him playing the Greek Theater. The subsequent live album was the highest selling in history.

One month later, Snow– who is in London at his mom’s flat—agrees to the gig at the Greek. Since it was Aaron’s idea, Sergio asks Aaron to get Snow, bring him back to New York for a stop at the Today Show and his aforementioned concert at the Greek all within 72 hours.

Aaron thinks it’s just a simple escort trip, but that would be boring. When the shit hits the fan, it splatters everywhere. Daphne breaks up with Aaron, because he doesn’t want to move to Seattle to recreate Grey’s Anatomy. In London, Aldous thought that the gig was in two months instead of three days. Let’s just say that he is unwilling to go unless he goes on his last bender before going to the States. He takes Aaron on his trip of sex, drugs and rock & roll.

This movie is vulgar, offensive and deplorable and I loved it for that. It didn’t give us frank and beans like Marshall did, but it did have its moments. I never thought that I would say this, but Puff Daddy – Puffy – P. Diddy – Sean Combs stole every since that he was in. I laugh my ass off when he came on screen. There are celebrity cameos up the wazoo like P!ink, Meredith Viera, Mario Lopez, Lars Ullrich, and many more. It seems like the long episode of Entourage.

This movie is not the next Hangover, but it does have its moments. I didn’t like the subplot with Aldous and Jackie Q– who supposed to be a parody of Fergie—which I didn’t get. The ending took the bromance a little bit too far. Like Marshall, it has pop culture references that would not mean shit int twenty years. It would seriously date the movie.

Judgment: I cannot believe that I would like a spin-off better than its predecessor.

Rating: ****

The Thing (1982)

I dunno what the hell’s in there, but it’s weird and pissed off, whatever it is.

— Clark

I’ve heard of John Carpenter’s The Thing in passing. This is currently the #163 movie of All Time on IMDb. I always mistake it for Swamp Thing for some reason. I wanted to go into the movie totally blind. Well, that’s not the whole truth. I read the plot summary of the movie. It intrigues me. Watching the movie, it freaked me to no end.

Taking place in the most desolate of places, Antarctica, a group of twelve men are stuck in a post. One day, the camp is invaded by a couple of Norwegian guys in a helicopter trying to shoot down a Siberian husky. When one of the Nordes starts rapid shooting at the dog and the team members, the leader of the group, Garry (Donald Moffat) shoots and kills the Norwegian. They take the dog inside the bunker.

The group begins to wonder what the hell was going on with the Norwegian shoots at a dog. MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Copper (Richard Dysart) investigates the Norwegians camp to see what lead them to go batshit crazy. Going through charred remains, they discover a hollowed out block of ice that might have a specimen inside of it. The question is where is it now? They find some film reels and the charred remains of a body. They take it back to base camp.

Dr. Blair (Wilford Brimley) examines the body to determine that it was human but it was somehow fused together into a gigantic glob. At the same time, Clark (Richard Masur) has to put the husky into the cage with the rest of the huskies. The others start to snarl and bark. The rescue husky starts to transform into a giant spider/dog/human like creature that is siphoning the dogs as food.

Hearing the yelping, MacReady quickly torches the creature. Examining the creature Dr. Blair concludes that the creature has the ability to shift itself into anything the creature kills. If any part of the organism gets in contact with a human it takes over the body like a virus.

The team looks over the footage they salvaged from the Norwegian camp. They saw that the Norwegians discovered a spaceship that crash-landed in the ice for over 100,000 years. The alien pilot tries to get out but was buried in the ice.

The team becomes paranoid that the alien would take the form of any of team members and they start to turn on each other.

This was a great exercise in tension. When the paranoia sets in with Dr. Blair or with MacReady, nobody knows who is human or who was replaced by the alien. You think that when they kill the creature, they are done. No. The alien comes up with a vengeance. These ultimately realize that they might now make it out. They are in total isolation with help thousands of miles away.

Judgment: A horror movie that is not about the blood and gore. It has something to say.

Rating: ****

Toy Story 2 (1999)

How long will it last, Woody? Do you really think Andy is going to take you to college, or on his honeymoon? Andy’s growing up, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s your choice, Woody. You can go back, or you can stay with us and last forever. You’ll be adored by children for generations.

— Stinky Pete the Prospector


Before I watch the latest offering from Pixar, I wanted to refresh my memory with viewing the #243 film of All Time on IMDB, Toy Story 2 again. I did not see the double feature 3D extravaganza late last year. I thought what is the point. Since I have been weary about Pixar movies, I wanted to see if this movie stacks up on its own. My answer would be “no.”

I am not saying tat Toy Story 2 is bad movie it feels like Pixar was fulfilling an obligation – and it was – for Disney to put this movie out. This movie was taking place right after the first one with Andy (John Morris) going to Cowboy Camp with Woody (Tom Hanks). It is there only one-on-one time together until Woody’s arm is ripped when Andy was roughhousing with his toys. His mother (Laurie Metcalf) shelves Woody. Andy couldn’t take Woody with him.

After the Andy leaves, Andy’s mother has a yard sale and decides to sell some of Andy’s old things, which includes Wheezy (John Ranft), a penguin that was collecting dust because its squeaker is broken. Woody tries to save Wheezy from being sold by riding on the back of the family dog, Buster. The rescue mission hits a snag when Woody falls off. He is picked up by a slimy toy collector named Al McWhiggen (Wayne Knight) who is familiar to the toys by dressing up as a chicken for his Al’s Toy Barn commercials.

Al almost spontaneously combusts when he sees the doll. He wants to buy the doll, but Andy’s mother continually says that the toy is not for sale. When her back is the turned, the slimy snake brazenly snatches Woody. The other toys see this happen. They try to piece together who took Woody and where Woody is held. As is customary, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles), Hamm (John Ratzenberger), Rex (Wallace Shawn) and Slinky Dog (Jim Varney) go on a mission to rescue Woody from Al.

Woody wonders where Al took it. Woody is place in a display case with Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl (Joan Cusack), the horse that acts like a dog, Bull’s-Eye, and Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammar) that is mint condition. They are joyous because with the addition of Woody they could be on display at a museum in Tokyo instead of locked up in storage unit. They let Woody know about the television Woody starred in and the numerous products that was in a shrine in Al’s office. Woody learns about the impact on the youth. Jessie wants Woody to leave Andy behind and come to Japan. Woody wants to stay and be Andy’s toy. That is the dilemma Woody has to go through.

You could see the improvements of the animation from the movie to this one. It’s apparent with the humans, the dog, creating individual space rocks in the environment. I thought the story was lacking a little bit. I understand what the screenwriters were trying to say about the inevitability of kid growing up and the toys will be forgotten. Woody’s journey felt a little cheap. I don’t believe that this movie was better than the first one. The introduction of Jessie and Stinky Pete bothered me to know end. I didn’t think that Joan Cusack or Kelsey Grammar were the right people to voice these characters. Cusack came off brash and not the loving sidekick or Stinky Pete who is very country and have Frasier doing his voice. It doesn’t quite work.

Judgment: It was nice to revisit the characters again, but the not the best in terms of story.

Judgment: ***

FB Rant: Why Does This Year’s Summer Movies Suck Major Donkey Balls?

The summer movie season has been long reserved for the major blockbusters that studio want to take up the slack from the dumping ground movies from January to April. DreamWorks’s “How to Train Your Dragon” can not be in theaters forever. Something needs to get the momentum going from good movie to good movie, but they hasn’t. Not yet.

People have been actively avoiding the movies opening up this year including myself. The last movie that I have seen was the SNL movie bomb, “MacGruber”. There are slim picking out there people. Hearing the “meh” response for most of the releases had me worried. Why do the movies this year suck? Is it a trickle down effect of the writer’s strike of late 2007? Projectionists were saying that the effects of the strike would be felt last year and they were right. Is this an elongated domino effect? Who knows?

“Iron Man 2” was supposed to the opening gunshot for the summer movie season, but it was like more of a bb gun going off. When the first movie came out during the same time two years ago, it was a surprise. Everything was against, a superhero that not that many people know, have Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark with an actor/director, Jon Faverau at the helm. This movie was supposed to be a worthy successor, but it turns out just to be a big set-up from the upcoming “Avengers” movie. This will have a trickle down effect on the “Thor” and “Captain America” movies. They would have a mindset of “it’s just gonna be another bridge for this other movie.” Ultimately, they will suffer for it.

Ridley Scott tries to give as the umpteenth version of “Robin Hood”. This is not the “Nottingham” movie that was first pitched that intrigued the film going community. Now, we are stuck with “Gladiator 2” set in medieval times. We have “Shrek Forever After” or “The Final Chapter” whatever the hell it’s called. Who cares about the same characters doing the same thing throughout the entire? Hmm… why does that sound so familiar? Oh, right. The next sparkling vampire-underage jailbait flick that makes the tweens cream themselves, “Eclipse”. People are camping out to see the pile of werewolf shit. See! This is why Hollywood is going to shit.

This is not a fluke people. “Prince of Persia” was a flimsy mess. “Killers” would the operative word for any chance for this movie to succeed. “Marmaduke”? Really? This movie was made! Why?  “Jonah Hex” was a poor excuse of filmmaking in general. Then, you have remakes of 80s properties like “The Karate Kid” and “The A-Team”? Should they even need to be remade? What is wrong with looking at the original properties? Are people so afraid of something older than one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend that they have to see a new carbon copy of it?

As the weeks and months roll in, I continue to avoid going into theater. With “Grown Ups” and “Knight and Day”, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” “Priest”, “Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”, “Little Fockers”, “Step-Up 3D”– Who the fuck wants to see a dance movie in 3D? Are you fucking kidding me people? — on the horizon, I am still holding out.

Do we have to wait until the season is half over to get a movie that has been both critically praised and commercially successful? Apparently, so. There are a few bright spots with “Toy Story 3”, the upcoming Nolan flick “Inception”, “The Other Guys”, “Eat Pray Love”, “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”, and “The Expendables”. I hope that they would be better than the dreck Hollywood spews on us every weekend. It makes me feel sad that I have to scrape and claw to see a good movie at my local indie theater than one of the so-called “blockbusters” than are more blocks of shit.

Hollywood producers need to wake up, because more and more people are getting sick and tired of paying ten dollars to be disappointed. It’s not fair for the consumer, because they feel cheated in the end. It’s just not worth it.

More Trailers, People

Trailer have come out of the woodwork lately. First, everybody was wondering about Michel Gondry’s stance on “The Green Hornet” will be. We got our answer in the first trailer for the flick that has been pushed back to January 2011 to convert it into 3D. Holy shit! This movie is going to bomb big time.

Judging by the trailer it looks like a fun ride with Seth Rogen as the titular character, Jay Chou as his sidekick Kato, Cameron Diaz as the love interest Lenore, Tom Wikinson as Jack Reid and Christoph Waltz as the bad guy, Chudnofsky. It also stars Edward Furlong and  Edward James Olmos.

There is another trailer for the documentary about former football player turned soldier, Pat Tillam called “Tehe Tillman Story.”

It recounts the circumstances from the attacks on 9/11, his decision to join the military, his subsequent death that made national headlines, him being branded a hero. But the story doesn’t stop there. His family was not convinced about the circumstances of his death. They investigate to discover a military cover-up about the day he died. The movie is set for release August 20th.

BONUS: After posting this entry, a red band trailer for the upcoming “Predators” movie coming out July 9th. This trailer is spoilerish about certain plot points.

Have a look if you dare?

Valkyrie (2008)

I’m a soldier, but in serving my country, I have betrayed my conscience.

— Col. Claus von Stauffenberg

Since Tom Cruise is the latest person to be in the LAMB Acting School 101 this month, I thought I would revisit a movie that was largely dismissed WWII drama, Valkyrie. There was a lot bad buzz around this movie with the numerous release date changes and even the possibly of changing the title of movie. A movie about killing Hitler, it’s a no-brainer about what the ending is. This movie is something different to offer about the SS.

The film starting in North Africa during the last years of the war where Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise) is conflicted with serving his country and standing up to the atrocities of what Hitler has done to Jews and his people. He is tries to find somebody that would rise up against the Third Reich. Just then his unit is attacked by the Allied forces.

Losing two fingers in his left hand, left eye and right hand entirely, Stauffenburg is held up in a Munich hospital where he is visited by his wife, Nina (Carice van Houten). He has to return to Berlin to await further instruction from the Fürher (David Bamber).

Meanwhile, there have already been plots to assassinated Hitler mainly with Major-General Henning von Tresckow (Kenneth Branagh) trying to kill Hitler with a bomb that did not go off on the plane with him or Colonel Heinz Brandt (Tom Hollander) who unknowingly carried the package into the plan in the first place. After he botched attempt, Treschow returns to High Command to get it back. Tresckow’s co-conspirator, General Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy) lets him know that their plan might be exposed when another defector is arrested. They would need another person to lead the uprising.

When Stauffenberg comes back to Berlin, he is recruited by Olbricht to lead the resistance. Stauffenberg is surprised that many people want to overthrow their tyrannical leader like Ludwig Beck (Terence Stamp) who tries to find a way to destroy Hitler from the inside out.

Stauffenberg suggests that somebody should infiltrate Hitler’s inner circle. He also suggests that they initiate Operation Valkyrie, which is a plan for when Hitler is dead; the reserved army would be active to help with civil unrest. They want to stage a fake coup to arrest the SS soldiers that take over the government. As Beck said in one conversation, “This is the military. Nothing ever goes according to plan.” Truer words were ever spoken.

The rest of the movie chronicles the failed attempt to kill Hitler. This is history. Everyone knows that Hitler didn’t die until 1945. Knowing the end of the movie was a bit anti-climatic. The movie is not awful. It got a bad rap for something that was the studio’s fault.

Hearing Tom Cruise in his Americanized German dialogue was very distracting to me, except for the guy, Christian Berkel playing Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim. Was he in the same movie? He did dinner theater level acting. Just god-awful. Hearing everybody’s British accents and the lone American – Cruise – made me think that these guys were playing Nazi dress up. I couldn’t buy it all the way. At least, have some slight German accents. Oh, well.

Judgment: What’s the point? Hitler doesn’t die at the end. Oh, spoiler. Sorry.

Rating: **1/2

Coraline (2009)

You are NOT my mother.

— Coraline Jones

Coraline was on my radar to see since it was released in February of 2009. People were talking about how wonderful this adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book was. It was my intention to see it, but never got around to it. When it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, it was on the fast track of my viewing schedule. I’m glad that I saw it. I wish I saw it in 3D.

Director Henry Selick of The Nightmare before Christmas fame forgoes the staple of computer animation to the painstakingly slow process of stop motion animation. This movie is like a twisted version of Alice in Wonderland where a family moves from Michigan into the Pink Palace apartments, which is a Victorian house in the middle of nowhere.

A precocious little girl named Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) is trying to fight for the attention of her parents, Mel and Charlie (Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman) who are too busy finishing up the work on a gardening catalogue. Coraline explores the surroundings and meets up with a peculiar kid named Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.) who may or may not be a stalker. There is also a feral cat (Keith David) that is following her as well.

Feeling bored, Coraline looks through the house finds a small door hidden behind a covering of wallpaper in the living room. She wants to know what is behind the door. When the door is opened by her mother, it is bricked up.

That night, Coraline is awakened by a jumping mouse that leads her to the very same door that opens up to a parallel universe where everything is the complete opposite. Her “other mother” cooks her favorite meals and the other father is very attentive and could play the piano. The trouble is that they have black buttons for eyes in this other world. She starts to warm up to this world.

She wakes up back to her normal life. She befriends the other inhabitants on the other apartments like the Russian circus performer, The Amazing Bobinsky (Ian McShane) who tells Coraline not to go into the little door again. His own jumping mice told him so. The old vaudeville duo, April and Miriam (Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French) have her over for tea. Reading her tea leaves, they also warn her that she is in great danger.

She ignores their incessant warnings and travels to the other world again, because she is so unhappy with her mundane existence. Her other mother makes a proposition for her. Since she loves this other life so much, she should stay. The catch is that sews has to sew the black buttons on her eyes. She is resistant about it, but the other mother is not happy with it and she becomes less than motherly.

It is so freaky that this movie was made in stop motion. It was a mice change of pace for the typical kid friendly movie. The story was not groundbreaking, but enjoyable nonetheless. It was a good time spent.

Judgment: It makes me wonder what Henry Selick will do next.

Rating: ***1/2

A Christmas Tale (2008)

I’ve heard nothing but good things about writer/director Arnaud Desplechin’s film, A Christmas Tale. Knowing the basic plot of the story, I was intrigued to see this movie. It has a Metacritic score of 84. What was something lost in translation or is this terrible mess of a film? Don’t get me wrong. I love French movies, but not all of them are brilliant. Case in point, this one.

The Vuillard family in this film makes the Burnham family in American Beauty look like the Brady Bunch. No lie. This family has been irrecoverably broken when the first son, Joseph develops a form of lymphoma and dies when he could not get a donor in time.

Fast forward thirty-five years, the middle son, Henri (Mathieu Amalric) is unceremoniously banished — excuse me, who banishes people anymore? What is it the 1500s? — from his family by his big sister, Elizabeth (Anne Consigny) who is hoarding some unresolved animosity toward her brother. That might be a blessing in disguise because these people are batshit crazy. Literally.

Five years, Elizabeth is so eager to cut Henri out of his life, but she still talks about him during her therapy sessions. She is a complete basket case when her playwriting career didn’t take off the way it should, because of Henri’s dealing with stealing from the theater that housed her plays.

The unloving matriarch, Junon played by the regal Catherine Deneuve learns that she has refractory anemia attributed to her liver cancer diagnosis. The news leave her husband, Abel (Jean-Paul Roussillon) dumbfounded. Junon needs a bone marrow transplant to any chance to survive. Due to her rare blood type, she has to test her immediate family, which has to include Henri who lives with his cousin, Simon (Laurent Capelluto).

Upon hearing the Junon’s news, Elizabeth’s mentally unstable son, Paul (Emile Berling) has a break down, is hospitalized and tested. He is a match for a donor. He is released from the hospital pumped full of pharmaceutical drugs. He seems to know where his uncle works at even though they never seen each other before to invite him to spend time with the family during Christmastime.

To prepare for the inevitable fallout, Henri writes a letter to Elizabeth to tell her about being civil towards one another through his maniacal drunken ramblings. When the family comes together, they tend to be awkward and distant toward each other. The younger brother, Ivan (Melvil Poupaud) tries to be peacekeeper of the family. In a convenient twist, Henri is tested to be compatible as well. Dun-dun-dun. Junon has a choice; will she accept marrow from a grandson she barely knows or her son that she openly despises? Decisions, decisions.

The ultimate question to pose to you, dear reader, is what is the point of this movie? These people are horrible towards each other for seemingly no reason. They gave up on being a family. They are miserable human beings that make me not want to spend time with them. What were Desplechin intentions here? The central “mystery” of the movie was never solved. Throw the viewer a bone. You don’t have to spell it out. Give us something to work with. Why was Elizabeth so pissed at Henri? Why did she try to keep Paul away from him when they were in a room together?

The movie strives to be grandiose, but it hinges on the melodramatic. What the hell was up with the peephole camera transitions? That bothers the hell out of me. Do we need the subplot of Ivan’s lazy wife, Sylvia (Chiara Mastroianni) try to have a fling with Simon? Who cares? This movie was 2 ½ hours long. It felt longer. It was agony.

Judgment: How could anybody recommend this movie?

Rating: * 1/2

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