Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Mark Ruffalo (the donor), (the domineering mother), and Julianne Moore (the more feminine mother). I had qualms with the resolution but still found this to be a wonderful film.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Berlin Wall fell more than twenty years ago, but it is still much alive in the movies. Here comes a spy thriller involving Russia, secret agents, and nuclear arms, yet set in modern day America. It is utterly preposterous at every turn and for the most part an entertaining and satisfying thriller. Salt opens up in North Korea with the title character Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) being tortured for being a spy, denying the claim, and being released in a prisoner swap (is her surname a reference to the armament control treaties between the U.S. and Russia in the 70s?). We jump two years forward to the present, where Salt has been assigned to a desk and it seems like a normal day. On her way home, while talking with her coworker Ted (Live Schrieber), they receive a report that a Russian defector has entered the building and go to interrogate him. After telling a ludicrous story about Russian babies being abducted and trained as spies, he then tells Salt that she is a Soviet agent assigned to assassinate the Russian president at the recently deceased U.S. Vice President’s funeral in New York. Instead of straightening things out, Salt beats up her coworkers and escapes leading to a series of fights, chases, double crosses, plot twists, and possible global devastation. Salt is directed by Phillip Noyce and written by Brian Helgeland, and here they are able to make an entertaining story out of a ludicrous plot. There is a nod to Die Hard, and I thought they were channeling The Fugitive for a while. The plot does not always go where you expect it too though sometimes it does. Ms. Jolie succeeds in another portrayal of a kick-ass heroine, though I think that Schrieber needs to stick to narrating History Channel documentaries, as he again fails playing his usually glib character. In the end, we feel we got our money’s worth and I’m sure action junkies will be satisfied. I think a word deserves to be said about the action sequences in the film. Noyce directs them with a skill and clarity that is lacking in most auctioneers these days. In this film, you know who is shooting at or hitting who and the scenes always seem to make sense, unlike the Bourne films where the shaky cam leaves you never quite sure. They are also sure handedly choreographed and directed, unlike the disappointing Inception, where loud and intense music was supposed to mask and enhance disappointing fight scenes. The handling of these scenes help to make Salt an entertaining experience.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
impending doom. When this was released in 1993 it came with the tagline "America's worst nightmare" and many hailed it as a ghetto masterpiece. Now, some of the initial power is retained but other parts seem just senseless and unfocused. Also it is hard to root for such an amoral unlikable lead, even though it is clear the film wants us too. The film is undeniably influential and thankfully put the Hughes brothers on the map who have made valuable films since. Still it is not quite in the same league as Boyz N The Hood which created a bleak ghetto landscape while populating it with characters you cared about. On the other hand, now that I know who Caine and o dog are, a lot of rap songs make sense so that's a positive.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Exit Through the Gift Shop is a documentary about various street artists that may or may not be entirely genuine. It starts out with a Frenchman who, for no particular reason at all, decides to start filming his life. After meeting up with a cousin, who has a hobby of making Space Invader stickers and placing them various places aroung the city, the Frenchman decides to follow him around with his camera. Intrigued by the street artist lifestyle, he meets and records endless hours of street artists, including Shepard Fairey (who supposedly invented the red, white, and blue Obama poster) and eventually Bansky, the infamous, anonymous graffiti artist and director of this film. From there the documentary goes in a direction no one could have anticipated. It did not bother me that the filmmakers may have been pulling our legs with this one (I was a little irked with the self-promotion associated with the various artists, especially Banksy). Exit Through the Gift Shop proves to be an entertaining if slight diversion.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Inception is Nolan’s 7th feature film, one of the few that he did not collaborate on with his brother Jonathon, and the first that, in addition to not being called great, can be referred to as a downright stinker. The problem lies not in the production value or action sequences, which are all top notch. The problem has to do with the plot, which takes place in what may or may not be a multilayered dream, that is unable to generate any tension. Because everything takes place in a dream, even the most climatic scenes fail to generate any tension, although the filmmakers due all they can to try to do so.
The “plot” revolves around a con man named Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), who with his partner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), enter peoples dreams, gain their trust, and get them to reveal their darkest secrets. When a mark (Ken Watanabe) decides to hire them to pull of the ultimate heist, they hire a dream architect (Ellen “Juno” Page), a muscle guy, and a dream inducer they are ready to go. That is until elements of Cobb’s reality begin to interfere with the dreams he enters. If that synopsis doesn’t sound ludicrous, trust me it gets worse.
All directors fail. Spielberg had 1941, Coppola had Godfather III, and Shyamalan has had every movie since The Sixth Sense. Its not that Nolan has failed here, it’s the fact that he failed so poorly when the expectations were so high. That is not to say that no one will take enjoyment in the film. In fact the crowd roared when the credits began and many were abuzz in the lobby as they discussed plot points. As this movie will sure to please fanboys and action junkies, it will come across as a nightmare for anyone with any expectations at all.
Monday, July 12, 2010
10. The Crazies
Sometimes a movie surprises you, and this movie did just that. Don't phone the Academy, but this film was solid education filled with some nice scares and a few well-constructed scenes. Timothy Olyphant is becoming a reliable actor.
9. The Book of Eli
Again its not high art, just an entertaining Western of sorts with an utterly preposterous and the usually strong performances from Denzel and Gary Oldman.
8. Robin Hood
Many did not respond to this Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe reteaming, mainly because it forgot about the fun of the earlier entries. However, I found it to be an entertaining and rousing entry in the historical action genre and stands alongside and does not merely clone the likes of Braveheart and Gladiator
7. Brooklyn's Finest
A film filled of just about every cop cliche, and utterly entertaining as we watch three major cop characters head to their fates. Maybe director Fuqua has a knack for cop movies, and its fun to see Cheadle, Hawke, and Gere at there sleazy best. Wesley Snipes makes a welcome return.
A film panned by many due to its violence involving kids (which I can't argue against). Yet, it is utterly original and invigorating, due to its realization of its comic book violence.
5. The Red Riding Trilogy
Barely released in theaters, The Red Riding Trilogy tells a confounding and intriguing story of the Yorkshire Ripper and goes from good to great, as each entry becomes more involving.
4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Great Danish action-thriller is smart and involving, as it maintains interest for its duration. Looking forward to the sequels coming out this month and October.
3. Toy Story 3
Another great entry in the series, another triumph for Pixar, a studio that can't miss lately. The old characters are there with some great new ones in a fascinating and great looking adventure. See it in 2D though.
2. Shutter Island
I called it a masterpiece when I first saw it, and I stand by that statement after two subsequent viewings. Despite an ending (a great one) many claimed they saw coming, there is much to admire about this film from the master Scorsese and top leading man Leo.
1. The Ghost Writer
Although the past has recently caught up with Roman Polanski, he still has not forgotten how to make a great film. The Ghost Writer is a wonderful and smart political thriller that looks great, goes to unexpected places, and makes sense of what does not always seem to.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Toy Story 1 & 2 are great films that I revisit now and again, the last time for its 3D theatrical release, which has motivated me to rewatch the Pixar films again. Still, both films retain the magic that was present in its original release. Although they are technical marvel, the first installment being the premier animated film done entirely by computer and looking great, it knows that craftsmanship isn't enough. It also contains great voice work and an Oscar nominated script that generates real concern for its characters. As many have already noted, Toy Story deserves its place in the pantheon of great films.
The Adventures of Andre and Wally B
This is the short that played before Toy Story during its release, and is actually the first computer animated film ever made. It tells the story of a cartoonish creature being awakened and chased by a bee. It is only two minutes long and primitive by today's standards, but earns its rating when I found out it was made in 1984.
This short played theatrically before the release of Toy Story 2
This short played theatrically before the release of Toy Story 2
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
if you don't like Back To The Future, it's difficult to believe that you like films at all."
Thursday, July 1, 2010