Monthly Archives: March 2011

Junebug (2005)

I wonder what she looks like. I bet she’s skinny. She probably is. She’s skinnier’n me and prettier too. Now I’ll hate her. Oh, I can’t wait!

— Ashley

I have had a passing interest in seeing Junebug since it garnered Amy Adams an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 2005 and catapulted her to A-list status. My favorite movie podcast, Cinebanter sung its praises. I thought that I might have to check to check it out at the library. I  have to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

This slice of life movie pulls you in with the marvelous, whimsical soundtrack that gives you an automatic smile on your face. The movie revolves around an ambitious art curator from Chicago named Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) who is trying to woo a gifted artist, David Wark (Frank Hoyt Taylor) who has a form of autism. David reinterpreted the Civil War into a sexual orgy of big black penises impaling Confederate soldiers and cum filled scrotums.

The only way she can get him from signing to a rival New York curator to go to David’s home in North Carolina where her husband pf six month George’s (Alessandro Nivola) family is close neighbors with. George’s family is not too excited for their arrival like his grumpy little brother, Johnny (Ben McKenzie) and his mother, Peg (Celia Weston). George’s withdrawn father, Eugene (Scott Wilson) feels indifferent about it, retreating to his basement sanctuary. The only person that is excited is Johnny’s pregnant wife, Ashley (Adams) who makes the Energizer Bunny look like a wind up toy.

When Madeleine and George arrives, the married couple from the Chicago and the uber-religious family from North Carolina clash in some unexpected ways. Jealousies arise and past resentments come bubbling to the surface as these people struggle to co-exist under the same roof.

As first, i thought that the movies was going to be a straight comedy of errors, but there are some dark moments that tugged at my heart. Did Amy Adams deserved the recognition for her performance? Yes. The scene in the hospital was painful to watch. I ached when she ached.

Some of the actions of the characters were fairly predictable. I guess, when you see millions of independent movies, you see the same patterns over and over.

Judgment: I did enjoy this movie and I would like to revisit this family again.

Rating: 8/10

The Untouchables (1987)

I want you to get this fuck where he breathes! I want you to find this nancy-boy Eliot Ness, I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES.

— Al Capone

I was so excited that The Untouchables was being shown on BBC America over the weekend. I have not seen the film in a while. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. This is the movie that brought Sean Connery the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Some people think that Brian De Palma is a hack director, but you cannot tell that the shootout in the train station was not an exercise of tension, suspense and keeping the audience at the edge of their seats.

The Untouchables is the big screen version of the 1950s television series that explored the adventures of Special Agent of the Treasury Department, Detective Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) abiding by the laws that he swore to uphold.

He has trouble doing this because 1930s Los Angeles is filled with corruption, violence and murder. The main culprit is the notorious gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro) that has the police department and the judicial system on his payroll. Ness believes that he has the intel on a shipment of Canadian whiskey ordered by Capone. It turns out to be a ruse and Ness has egg on his face.

Ostracized at the force, Ness has a chances meeting with a beat cop named Jim Malone (Connery) who turns out to be a mentor to him. Ness wants to form a new task force with some unlikely characters like a mousey accountant that was hired to look into Capone’s books, Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith) or a fresh recruit that has a dead on shot, George Stone (Andy Garcia). They form the titular team.

They begin to taken down Al Capone’s liquor hideouts. Capone is not happy and wants to make Ness’ life a living hell.

I am a sucker for period action films with gangsters, liquor and tommy guns.

Judgment: This movie is perfect for me. I think this is a guy film like The Shawshank Redemption and Fight Club.

Rating: 8/10

A Home at the End of the World (2004)

The best thing about Philadelphia is you can leave it.

— Jonathan Glover

I was surprised that I got the chance to see A Home at the End of the World, because I heard about the infamous Colin Farrell full frontal scene that was cut out of the movie. I wanted to see Farrell play gay because I had the biggest crush on him at the time. The bad boy persona was inviting. It was nice to watch the movie on Logo.

Based on the book by Michael Cunningham who penned the script, the movie is about a trio of friends who grow in and out of love with each other. There is the sardonic Jonathan (Dallas Roberts) who grew up with his hippie friend Bobby (Farrell). They have been interested in each other since they were kids.

They reconnect in 1980s New York where Jonathan is an out gay man where he is rooming with the free spirited, Claire (Robin Wright Penn). Their relationships are tested where the plan of Jonathan of fathering Claire’s kid is derailed when Claire decides to bed the inexperienced Bobby who is bisexual.

The three of them become a family of their own when they are trying to raise the baby.

I’m surprised that I don’t have anything more to say about this movie. The storyline is straightforward. Nothing compelling goes on with it. It was a nice treat to see Colin kiss another man.

The thing that takes me out of the film is that Claire is supposed to be the same age range as Jonathan and Bobby. I don’t buy her being a free spirit when she is clearly a good decade older than them. I’m sorry but I need to say that.

Judgment: It’s a throwaway movie that is nice to see when flipping channels.

Rating: 6.5/10

What’s one movie you ALWAYS recommend?

That’s a good question. I always recommened a small movie like "Frozen River" (Thank you, Tassoula) or "The Station Agent." People could see the known movie easily.

Ask me anything

If you could have one movie to be destroyed, what would it be?

The Brown Bunny. It’s not even a movie! It’s just an excuse to get Chloe Sevigny to blow you on camera.

Ask me anything

If you met someone who had never seen a movie before and could recommend one film to be their ‘first’ – what movie would that be?

That is a good question. I would introduce them to "The Shawshank Redemption." Yes, I said it. That is a perfect movie. I would that person to find a flaw with it.

Ask me anything

The Special Relationship (2010)

I had a taped showing of The Special Relationship on the DVR for a couple of months before I had to delete it. I happened upon the flick when I was flipping through the channels. At first, I thought that the movie was about the relationship that landed Bill Clinton in hot water during the latter part of his second term. I forgot that the movie is about the relationship between Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Yeah! (Branden says sarcastically.)

Starting in 1996, the movie is about newly elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) having a meeting with US President, Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid). They want to join forces to advance a democratic, progressive way a country is run.

Screenwriter Peter Morgan tried to portray these two political factions from opposite sides of the ocean. It should the everyday lives of the Blairs and Clintons. Their relationship is tested when the Monica Lewinsky scandal reared its ugly head. Clinton thinks that the scandal would die down quickly, but it snowballed out of control.

Usually, I’m not keen on political movies. This movie proves that way of thinking. Does this story need to be told? I lived through that time of the country where the scandal was all on the minds of the media and the country. You would imagine that leaders of the country would be friendly with each other. I felt that I didn’t learn anything from the movie. Maybe the next generation could get some enjoyment out of it.

The only saving grace with this movie is Michael Sheen as Blair, because he has played him in The Queen and the British TV movie, The Deal. He knows the character inside and out. He was believable. Quaid on the other hand was a parody of Clinton. I enjoyed John Travolta’s Clinton-isms in Primary Colors than in this movie. Hope Davis as Hilary Clinton was bland. Nuff said.

Judgment: Skip this flick.

Rating: 3/10

Into the Wild (2007)

I’m going to paraphrase Thoreau here… rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness… give me truth.

— Christopher McCandless

I was always wanted to see the #145 Film of All-Time on IMDb, Into the Wild where people in the movie blogger community was saying that this movie got shafted at the Oscars when it was only nominated in two categories for Best Editing and Best Supporting Actor for Hal Holbrook. People were showering this movie with endless amounts of praise. When I saw the movie was on the shelf at my local library, I jumped at the chance to rent it. After watching the movie, I was thinking to myself what is the big deal.

Bad boy actor, Sean Penn wrote the screenplay and directed the true life story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) based on the book by Jon Krakauer. McCandless came from a privileged life in the early 90s. He graduated from Emory University, but he feels that his parents, Billie and Walt (Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt) are living in a superficial world of wealth and affluence. Chris wanted to live in a world where money doesn’t matter.

He decides to sell his possessions, cut up his credit cards, cash out his life saving and abandon his car to hitchhike across the country to find his authentic self. He doesn’t tell his parents or his younger sister, Carine (Jena Malone) about his whereabouts.

The audience gets to see Chris having chance encounters with a hippie couple, Rainey and Jan (Brian H. Dierker, Catherine Keener) in Arizona, working for a farmer, Wayne (Vince Vaughn) in Iowa, meeting  a  girly that crushes on him, Tracy (Kristin Stewart) and a broken war vet, Ron Franz (Holbrook).

I understand that this movie was supposed to talk about living an authentic life, finding yourself in the world and all that. The whole spiel about quoting Thoreau, having the holier-than-thou attitude about other people left a bad taste in my mouth. It is a sad story. If I don’t care about the lead character, why should I care about this movie?

Judgment: The movie was gorgeous to look at, but it felt empty to me.

Rating: 6/10

The Sunset Limited (2011)

I don’t believe in God. Can you understand that? Look around you, man. Can’t you see? The clamour and din of those in torment has to be the sound most pleasing to his ear.

— White

I was mildly interested in seeing The Sunset Limited when it came on HBO a couple of weeks. When I first saw the film, I fell asleep halfway through it. I thought maybe it was that I was tired. Looking at the film again, I almost fell asleep again. The movie was very dry.

Based on the play by famed author, Cormac McCarthy adapted it to become a television movie directed by Tommy Lee Jones. The main thrust of the movie is about an ex-con, Mr. Black (Samuel L. Jackson) saving a philosophy professor, Mr. White (Tommy Lee Jones) from being a Jackson Pollack painting on a subway car called “The Sunset Limited.” The whole movie is taking place at Mr. Black’s rundown apartment where he is trying to dissect why would an educated man wanted to end his life.

It was a verbal chess match with the two opposing forces trying to get to the checkmate. Mr. Black is the spiritual man trying to find the good in people where Mr. White sees nothing but darkness. Mr. Black wants to save Mr. White from doing the same thing again the next day by having a lengthy discussion with him about faith, the human condition and man’s existence in the world.

I understand the intention of what Cormac McCarthy was trying to do. The eternal debate of nihilism and blind faith. Black and white. Light and darkness. He tries to turn traditional images of this on its head. Have the “white” character be filled with darkness and have the “black” character be very hopeful about life and God. I do not believe that a philosophy professor would have an existential conversation on a deep level with an ex-con.

Besides, I thought Jackson blow Jones out of the water. I felt like a play being filmed. Is this a knock on Tommy Lee Jones as the director? Yes. I was bored by the end of the movie. There were some moments of brilliance in the movie but it was too few and far between.

Judgment: What was the point of the movie, to advocate atheism?

Rating: 5.5/10

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