Monday, January 31, 2011

127 Hours

Starring James Franco

Directed by Danny Boyle

Release Date: November 5th, 2010

Out in the wilderness, Aron Ralston must struggle against all odds to survive.Based on the true story of Aron Ralston, director Danny Boyle and James Franco adapt Ralston's harrowing story to the big screen. In 2003, Aron (Franco) went out one weekend in Robbers Roost, Utah to have an adventure. Soon, Aron gets his arm pinned under a boulder: he has limited tools and no one knew he was going out there. With the clock ticking and Aron low on solutions, he may have to go to extremes to survive.

The cinematography for this film is incredible. The way that Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle evokes a sense of wonder during Aron's trials one minute and then dread and claustrophia the next. Boyle himself makes Aron's personal nightmare into a fanstastic experience to view Aron's moments of panic, joy, and remorse. James Franco does an amazing job of portraying Aron Ralston, making the majority of his screentime into a powerhouse performance playing off of his echoes, loneliness, and desperation.

127 Hours is a mesmerizing experience that must be seen to believe it. Danny Boyle captures the intense and fast-paced action of Aron's expericnes while James Franco gives a strong performance as Ralston.
Rating: * * * * 1/2 of 5

Click Here to buy Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Starring Lance Henriksen

Directed by Stan Winston

Release Date: October 14th, 1988

An average B-movie Creature feature with some interesting concepts and a creepy looking monster. Plus, the director was Stan Winston, the special effects wizard behind such movies as Aliens, Predator, and the Jurassic Park trilogy. While the teenage yuppies are underdeveloped, the story of Ed Harley (Henriksen) is a great tale of loss, revenge, and redemption. Henrikesen does a great job making Ed into a fully developed character that the audience would root for.

Rating: * * * 1/2 of 5

Click Here to buy Pumpkinhead (Collector's Edition)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood

Release Date: March 24th, 2009

From the pages of Watchmen come two books: the comic book story Tales of the Black Freighter and Hollis Mason's' Autobiography Under the Hood. Cut from the Watchmen 2009 Feature Film, the animated comic and a "Documentary" on Hollis Mason and his novel.

Tales of the Black Freighter
Starring the Voice talents of Gerard Butler
Directed by Daniel DelPurgatorio and Mike Smith
Tales of the Black Freighter: Combined into one singular animated film, the pirate story read by one of the characters is presented here voiced by Gerard Bulter and the adaptation co-written by Zack Snyder. ON the positive side, the animation looks great; the coloring influences the mood, matching the plot of the story very well without having to be copying the original art by Dave Gibbons. Unfortunately, for how good the movie looks and sounds, at the end it just feels hollow. Maybe the Black Freighter story should have been included in the theatrical cut of Watchmen, but that's my opinion. The animated adaptation isn't bad, just not as good as it could have been.
Rating: 3 of 5

Under the Hood
Starring Carla Gugino, Jeffery Dean Morgan, and Stephen McHattie
Directed by Eric Matthies
Under the Hood: Knowing that adapting perfectly the "excerpts" of Hollis Mason's Autobiography wouldn't make a movie, the filmmakers turned these back-up stories became a documentary. When talking about these two spin-offs, I found Under the Hood to be a more perfected adaptation and to be a fascinating film that captured the tone and spirit of the Watchmen movie. Also, it gives more character development to minor characters such as Mason, Silk Spectre I a.k.a. Sally Jupiter, or Big Figure.
Rating: 4 of 5

Click Here to buy Watchmen - Tales of the Black Freighter Exclusive Steelbook
Click Here to buy Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the Hood [Blu-ray]

Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Starring the voice talents of Steven Blum, Wendee Lee, Beau Billingslea, and Melissa Fahn

Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe

Release Date(s):

September 1st, 2001 (Japan)

August 11th, 2002 (USA)

Adapted from the hit anime series, CB: Knockin' on Heaven's Door brings the ecclectic bounty crew of the stars to the big screen.
On Mars 2071 A.D., a madman has caused enough chaos to leave hundreds infected with a strange virus and the Martian government to declare his capture worth 200 million woolongs (this universe's currency). While tracking down the elusive terrorist, aloof bounty hunter Spike Spiegel and short-tempered Faye Valentine uncover a sinister plot that set this man down his path. Will our Bebop crew stop his devilish plan? Maybe, since the bounty  is good......

I like the original Japanese subtitle rather than our translated, generic "the movie" that gets slapped on every movie adapted from a tv show. I'd like more TV movies to get a little creative when titling their movies, but whatcha gonna do? Still, the movie is great for Bebop fans, even for those new to Bebop. It's good that the movie gives you a fun, action-packed adventure that fans don't have to worry about where it fits into the chronology of the series; while newbies get a fun story without getting lost. The best thing about the movie is how great the animation looks: it is very similar to the show while being more cleaned up and detailed for a big screen presentation. Finally, the voice cast is back from the series, both Japanese and English cast, that brings that energy and fun into bringing the characters to life. It's always awesome to hear Steven Blum's Spike Spiegel; Blum's Spike is one of my favorite anime characters and his charming bounty hunter is a perfect introductory character to non-fans of anime.  Finally, there's the mysterious Vincent, clearly modeled after Bob Dylan. Vincent is a great addition to the Bebop Universe and quite the complex antagonist.
Rating: * * * * 1/2 of 5

Click Here to buy Cowboy Bebop Remix Complete Collection (Anime Legends)

Click Here to buy Cowboy Bebop: The Movie [Special Edition]

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Pelican Brief

Starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts

Directed by Alan J. Pakula

Release Date: December 17th , 1993

Man, what a boring movie. 2 1/2 hours long and nothing happens for the first hour. Well, except for an unintentionally humourous moment that the filmmakers probably didn't mean for (let's just say, you'll see it coming a mile away).  For a political thriller, the MacGuffin that moves the plot along is not explained very well and the action in the movie is far and few between. The only reason I'm giving the movie 2 stars is because of the good cast and their performances.
Don't waste your time with this movie.

Rating: * * of 5

Click Here to buy The Pelican Brief (Keepcase)

Click here to buy The Pelican Brief: A Novel 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Children of Men

Starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine

Directed by Alfonso Curón

Release Date: January 5th, 2007
More Questions than answers in a world without children. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, our story takes place in 2027, as London is one of the the last "civilized" cities left after the world is on the brink of disaster. People try to go on with their lives as Terrorism sweeps the land, there haven't been any births in 18 years and people known as "fugees" are treated as third-class citizens literally trapped in cages. Now, my problem lies with the motivation of getting the pregnant Kee into the hands of the Human Project. Why can't the government do anything? Was the infertility the government's fault? Anyways, by now you should know that this is a very dark world, no happiness here folks. In fact, there's a passing mention of how the government sells pills to create chemical happiness in the brain. As the story moves on, we realize just how deep the cut goes when the world has no children left; people see a miracle as an opportunity to push a political movement and will destroy and kill innocent people just to get their way. The direction is great, as the world we are presented is dark and filthy, as if procreation influenced the world as it is now decaying into ruins. A great dystopian story with great direction, a stellar cast and incredible cinematography.

Rating: * * * * of 5

Click Here to buy Children of Men (Widescreen Edition)

Click Here to buy Children of Men [Blu-ray]

Click Here to buy The Children of Men

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Green Hornet

Starring Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, and Tom Wilkinson

Directed by Michel Gondry

Release Date: January 14, 2011

The Green Hornet: the trailers were pretty bad, but does that mean the movie will suck?

It's not the worst comic book movie I've seen, but it's certainly not the best. The majority of the reviews of The Green Hornet have been that Seth Rogen is too annoying, Kato (Chou) does all the work, and Cameron Diaz is unnecessary for her part. Now, I will address those problems: 1) Yes, Seth Rogen's portrayal of Britt Reid is his standard frat-boy annnoying self. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Rogen is on SPIN CYCLE acting, where he contstantly plays the same character over and over again. 2) Kato is hardcore awesome, so much so that the audience evertually cheers harder for him than for the Green Hornet. I'd like to think that co-writer Rogen did this intentionally, since Britt is a useless hero. 3) Of all three complaints, this is the one I agree with the most; Cameron Diaz should not have been in this movie. Seriously, it's like the part was originally written for an up-and-coming actress then rewritten when the filmmakers were told she was interested in the movie. Still, for all the movie's flaws, they've got Christoph Waltz playing up the craziness of his over-the-hill villain Chudnofsky.

The jokes are pretty funny (some of Rogen's schtick gets old fast), the action is good, and the movie does good job. The Green Hornet is a good movie, but could have been much more impressive than the final result.

Rating: * * * 1/2 of 5

The Last Dragon

Directed by Michael Schultz

Starring Taimak, Vanity, and William H. Macy

Release Date: March 22nd, 1985

This is an insanely bizarrre action comedy. Similar to Kung Fu Hustle, The Last Dragon is a broad, cartoonish take on kung-fu action movies with a major obsession with Bruce Lee. The movie is certainly a guily pleasure, with such head-scratching moments as "Bruce" Leroy (Taimak)'s obsessive man-crush on Bruce Lee or an off-screen aquatic monster that can destroy a pig foot in seconds but only gives the antagonist a paper-cut scar. However, if you're looking for a movie with a lot of laughs and a scene with Mr.T combined with Santa Claus, then search for The Last Dragon.
Who's the Shogun of Harlem? SHO'NUF!
Rating: * * * of 5

Click Here to buy The Last Dragon

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Social Network

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, and  Rooney Mara

Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

Direted by David Fincher

Release Date:  October 1st, 2010
The obsession to get ahead and be at the top of the societal classes, Mark Zuckerberg became a visionary, thief or both to those around him. Did Mark steal Facebook, or did he create the latest social network on his own?

Usually, I would type a description of the plot, but that would give away the amazingly stunning story written by Aaron Sorkin, so I'll just say this: I was wrong about THE SOCIAL NETWORK. I would tell people that there's no way this is a good idea, that facebook was just made, that there's not enough impact on pop culture to warrant a movie, etc etc. Ok, I was wrong; this is the perfect time for a movie about how our generation is obsessed with being the most popular, who's dating who, and being the best.  We all spend hours on facebook; why wouldn't a movie about facebook make sense? So, with the creation and its' humongeous impact of facebook, now was the time for David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin to team up and bring on the best scripted dramas of 2010.

The movie is fantastic, from the inital scene where we meet Mark Zuckerberg (Eisenberg) and his blunt, forceful demeanor with his soon-to-be-exgirlfriend Erica (Mara). Due to his social ineptitude and lack of grace, Mark appears to be rude but in his eyes, he is merely telling the truth without wasting any time in his responses in day to day life. Mark can be a genius and a villain, all in the same breath. Jesse Eisenberg is a great actor, breathing life in to what could have been a sterotypical introverted nerd.

The Social Network is a battle of intellectual properties, friendship, and popularity.
Rating: * * * * 1/2 of 5

Click Here to buy The Social Network (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Click Here to buy The Social Network (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]

Click Here to buy The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal

Monday, January 17, 2011

The King's Speech

Starring Colin Furth, Geoffrey Rush,  Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce

Directed by Tom Hooper

Release Date: December 10th, 2010

A stunning display over the determination of the Duke of York and his dedication to his country in 1930's England.

In 1930s England, King George V (Gambon) rules over the land as a powerful monarch and a commanding speaker to his country. His son, Duke of York Albert George (Firth), has a stutter and a fear of one day ruling in his father's absence. After seeing the best physicians and doctors in the country, Albert's wife Elizabeth (Bonham Carter) discovers a speech therapist named Lionel Logue with an unconventional style that may cure Albert of his stutter and gain a composure suited for a king. Soon, Albert's brother David (Pearce) has abdicated the throne and now Duke of York Albert has become King George VI of England....

The King's Speech, based on the true relationship between George VI and Lionel Logue, is a riveting drama where the spoken word commands all and the ability to speak one's mind is of the highest importance, whether they be king or commoner. The attention to every word spoken, to the impact of conversation amongst the royal family, is a battle of wills and power that is stagging to behold yet so familiar the audience can relate to Albert's struggle to control his stammer and speak his mind. Speaking of Albert, Colin Firth is staggeringly fantastic as Albert, moving through the room as a royal yet wanting to know the life that an everyday Englishman goes through. There's a striking sadness when Albert pours out his soul to Lionel, such as when the two have a session where Lionel instructs Albert to "sing" everything he wants to say. The rest of the cast is fantastic, from co-star/executive producer Geoffrey Rush, to Timothy Spall doing an amazing performance capturing the nuances of Winston Churchill.

A tale of a man trying to express his presence and authority in times of war, The King's Speech is an amazing story with a stellar cast of British and Australian talent.
Rating: * * * * 1/2 of 5

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Tourist

Starring Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, and Steven Berkoff

Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Release Date: December 10th, 2010

A tale of espionage, mistaken identities, and romance in this Italian action thriller starring Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, and Paul Bettany as a remake of the 2005 French film, Anthony Zimmer.

Venice, Italy: College Professor Frank (Depp) is looking forward to a nice vacation in Italy, nothing out of the ordinary for him. Suddenly, a mysterious British woman named Elise (Jolie), strikes up a conversation with the meek professor and invites him to stay with her at a fancy hotel posing as her husband. Out of the blue, Italian Interpol agents and Russian mobsters are chasing our American everyman due to his similarity to a British criminal known as Alexander Pierce. What is Elise's connection to Pierce? Will Frank avoid capture and death but still run away with the dashing beauty?

In comparison with more modern spy thrillers like The Bourne trilogy or the 2005 remake of Casino Royale, The Tourist is a more character driven, subdued mystery. The majority of the movie is a game of cat and mouse between Frank and Elise, each trying to play aloof with their motivations and desires. Personally, I enjoyed the nuances of the film, playing off the portrayals of the actors rather than how many car chases and gun fights the characters get into (not that the movie is without action; there's a unique boat chase in the Venitian canals). Finally, the casting for the movie is great, with the A-list actors (Jolie and Depp) having wonderful chemistry and making their characters captivating and interesting. Also, there's a great villainous portrayal by Steven Berkoff as British gangster Reginald Shaw.

For fans of Charade or North by Northwest, The Tourist is an energetic and mystifiying thriller.

Rating: * * * * of 5

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Evangelion 2.0 US Screenings

Hey Everyone!

Just thought I'd let everyone know about the US schedule for EVANGELION 2.0: You can (not) advance. It will be in limited release theaters from January to February 2011 with the blu-ray release March 29th, 2011. If you're an Evangelion fan, I highly recommend finding the closest theater near you to see it. For everyone else, just be patient until the blu-ray release in March (which I will do my best to review the video, audio, and special features of the blu-ray).

Finally, here is my review of Evangelion 2.0: You can (not) advance


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Princess and The Frog

Starring the voice talents of Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Jim Cummings, Michael-Leon Wooley, Jennifer Cody,Oprah Winfrey, and Terence Howard

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker

Release Date: December 11th, 2009

A lively and colorful film from Disney Animation.
Tianna had a dream in her heart since she was a little girl to open her own restaurant in New Orleans. However, in 1920's New Orleans, life as a single African-American woman is hard enough since she has to work 3 full-time jobs just to make her dream come true. While Tia slaves in the kitchen, a dashing prince from the country of Maldonia has come to the grand city during Mardi Gras to find a wealthy, beautiful woman to marry so that he can regain his riches from his parents. Faster than you can say "Happily Ever After", an evil voodoo doctor known as the Shadow Man has cursed Prince Naveen (Campos) to turn into a frog, and can only become human again by kissing a beautiful princess. But, fairy tales aren't always how we expect them to turn out...
After the disasterous "Home on the Range", Disney has gone to the master of Pixar Animation, John Lassater, to executive produce their new animated films from now on. Thankfully, Lassater has given his magic touch not only to 2008's Bolt (starring John Travolta) but also to this 2009 Jazzy animated adaption of the classic fairly tale, "The Frog Prince". "TP&TF" is a magificently produced animated film with bright, dazzling visuals and some amazing songs such as "Friends on the Other Side" and "Ma Belle Evangeline". I thoroughly enjoyed how fun and engaging the film is, especially with the voice casting of Anika Noni Rose as Tianna and Jim Cummings as Ray-Ray. My only real complaint with the voice casting has to do with Oprah Winnfrey as Tianna's mother; it's a good part, but why spring for such an A-list celebrity for a vastly minor part? Personnally, I would have cast a lesser-known actress in need of a comeback (but that's just me). Also, I really enjoyed the sinister Shadow Man, and would have loved to have seen a bit more of the character than what we're given in the film itself.
The Princess and the Frog is a return to greatness with Disney animation, thanks in part to the colorful animation style and the fantastic soundtrack.
Rating: * * * * of 5

Click Here to buy The Princess and the Frog (Single Disc Widescreen)

Click Here to buy The Princess and the Frog (Single Disc Blu-ray)

Click Here to buy The Princess and The Frog (Three Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cop Out

Starring Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Jason Lee, and Seann William Scott

Directed by Kevin Smith

Release Date: February 26th, 2010

Wow, I'm completely shocked at how dull and boring this movie was. For months I'd heard how atrocious this movie was, just how low Kevin Smith had sunk in his career with his movie. Unfortunately, all I saw was a really dull "action comedy". For one, the comedy in this movie, especially the interactions between the main stars, are boring. Bruce Willis is mainly sleepwalking through his role and Tracy Morgan is stuck on autopilot "wacky loud guy" mode; on top of that, they're just not fun to follow on this so-called adventure. Other than that, the jokes are just dull, not funny, not inspired just ho-hum. Second of all, the action part of the movie, is so formulaic so uninspired it will put the most hard-core action movie junkies to sleep. I really wanted to feel something from this movie-joy, excitement, even frustration-but all I got out of it was a decent nap.

The movie's a balanced disappointment: I can't recommend it as Cop Out isn't a fairly good movie and I can't recommend it as a guily pleasure/good 'bad' movie as there's nothing to laugh at. All it really is is a wasted afternoon for you and a paycheck for the cast and crew.

Rating: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz...oh sorry, * * of 5

Click Here to buy .....*sigh* Cop Out Cop Out(Blu-ray)

Or.. these other Kevin Smith movies

Clerks (15th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]
Clerks (Three-Disc 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition)
Clerks II (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)

Clerks II [Blu-ray]
An Evening With Kevin Smith
An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder
Sold Out: A Threevening With Kevin Smith
Chasing Amy: The Criterion Collection
Mallrats (Collector's Edition)
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (Dimension Collector's Series)
Dogma [Blu-ray]

Friday, January 7, 2011


Starring the voice talents of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, David Cross, Jonah Hill, and Brad Pitt

Directed by Tom McGrath, Cameron Hood, and Kyle Jefferson

Release Date: November 5th, 2010
What if the superhero were finally beaten by the supervilliain? What if the supervillain wasn't all that bad? Those two questions create the premise for Dreamworks' Megamind, starring Will Ferrell as the titular supervillain.

 Long ago, two orphans from two different planets crash landed on earth: one child was brought up by the priviledge of wealth while the other was raised in a prison. Soon, one child grew up to be praised for his heroic exploits while the other became a villain: they were Metro Man (Pitt) and Mega Mind (Ferrell). Eventually, the two battled each other in Metro City with Metro Man always winning and Mega Mind being defeated and sent back to prison. Until one day, Mega Mind defeats the hero, to the shock of such civilans as Metro Man's girlfriend Roxanne Ritchie (Fey). With the hero gone and the city at his mercy, Mega Mind is remorseful at the loss of his adversary......

Leave it to an animated movie to allow Will Ferrell's over-the-top comedic talents to really shine. As the protanistic villain, Ferrell is truly hilarious as the wacky Megamind and he is equally successful at making the audience both relate to the warped psycho and care for him. It takes a particular brand of wacky to make a villain who uses death rays and evil monologues a funny and likable character for children. Second, the side kick character of Minion, voiced by David Cross, is a humorous and silly side character whom sci-fi fans will notice that  the creators based on the appearance of the monster in Robot Monster, Also of note is the spectacular supporting cast, from Tina Fey to Brad Pitt. Tina Fey gets in a funny sequence involving the cliches of supervillain threats, and Pitt is hamming it up in a good way as Metro Man. Jonah Hill.......really needs to try harder, as it seems he has one style of acting and it's getting real old, old fast.

Rating: * * * * of 5

Click Here to buy Megamind (Single-Disc Edition) Megamind (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)  Megamind (Mega Double Two-Pack)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wake Up, Ron Burgundy

Starring Will Ferrell, Christina Appelgate, Steve Carell, and Paul Rudd

Directed by Adam McKay

Release Date: Never Officially Released in Theaters

What's that, you say? ANOTHER Ron Burgundy movie, when did that come out? Well, Ferrell and cast had so much material for ANCHORMAN: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, that an entire sub-plot was cut out of the movie and released as its own DVD extra with the movie. For years, WAKE UP! was only available for a short time offer, forcing Ferrell fans to hunt eBay auctions for the rare "lost" movie. Well, thanks to Best Buy, now you can watch this rare movie on blu-ray!

As for the movie itself, it's an enjoyable comedy for fans of Anchorman. Certain characters are given on-screen appearances, such as Ron's mentor Jess Moondragon or Ed Harken's deliquent son, and a new misadventure with the Channel 4 News Team is explored. Instead of Ron and Veronica figthing for top billing on the news, a group of radicals are terrorizing San Diego and are now after Ron Burgundy to stop the lies (...whatever that means). This is billed as a "sequel", but don't fool yourselves folks, it's just cut material from the original film. Don't get me wrong, it's still a really funny film, but the tacked on narration trying to justify how this takes place after the first movie was a bad idea (still, the narrator gets some really funny lines when he goes on a tangent). If you enjoy a low-brow comedy, check out Wake Up, Ron Burgundy!

Rating: * * * * of 5

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Starring Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Walter Matthau, and James Coburn

Directed by Stanley Donnen

Release Date: December 5th, 1963

A parisian tale of mystery, tricks, lies, and greed. Charade is a suspenseful and humorous tale of a woman's journey to uncovering the mystery of her husband's murder.

Reggie Lampish (Hepburn), fresh off a ski-slope vacation, has just been told that she is now a widow. Mr. Charles Lampish was found murdered after being thrown off a train in his pajamas, with only loose change and a letter to his wife among his possessions. Soon, Reggie is contacted by CIA Administrator Hamilton Bartholomew (Matthau), who alters Mrs. Lampish that her husband was keeping secrets from her: that he was living under a fake name, and that he and 4 friends stole $250,000 during WWII only for Charles to run off with the money and one friend killed. Now, the remaining co-horts are after Reggie for her to give up the money, or suffer dearly. Will the help of a charming stranger (Grant) be enough to solve the answer of Charles Lampish's death?

Charade is given the title of "the best Hitchcock movie Hitchcock never made", but that is underselling how energetic and marvelous the film really is. Charade is a whirlwind adventure through the streets of Paris as scored by Henry Mancini, and has a great combination of suspense and comedy. Through the levity of such scenes like the "pass the orange" game could have sidetracked the mood of the film, it never feels forced or distracting to the film's objective of keeping Reggie on her toes about the dangers she's in or the villiains after her. Audrey Hepburn is wonderful as Reggie, making her a sympathetic and likable protagonist whose confusion is real and understandable. Also, Hepburn and co-star Grant have fantastic chemistry together, slyfully playing cat-and-mouse with each other.
Rating: * * * * * of 5

Click Here to buy Charade (The Criterion Collection)
Click Here to buy Charade (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Monday, January 3, 2011

Black Swan

Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Winona Ryder

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Release Date: December 3rd, 2010

From the director of The Wrestler and Requiem for a dream, Darren Aronofsky delves into a ballerina's obsession with perfection and the dangers of her pursuit.
All Nina (Portman) wants to be is the finest ballerina in her company, only to play bit parts in every play such as the opening production of Swan Lake. After star ballerina Beth (Rider) is "retired" by director Thomas (Casse), the search is on for a new dancer to play the dual lead roles of the White Swan and the Black Swan; where the White Swan is pure and innocent, the Black Swan is her dark counterpart, the sensual and evil character. However, all Thomas sees Nina as is the White Swan, so extra dedication and effort is required to transform Nina's emotionless dancing into a sensual, dark creature of The Black Swan....

Leave it to Darren Aronofsky to turn the beautiful art of ballet into a macabre dance of intrigue, suspense and paranoia. The movie may throw around similar icons to depict Nina's descent into madness, but I felt that the film did a great job of subtly increasing the disturbing (and shocking) images seen in Nina's terrified story of obsession. If anything, the film makes the simple act of a ballerina dancing on point into an act of terrifying cruelty and pain upon the dancer. Speaking of dancers, both Portman and Kunis are on the top of their game as Nina and Lily, respetively. Portman is stunningly sympathetic as Nina, a woman who is losing her sanity and innocence for the sake of art. Kunis did a fantastic job as Lily, Nina's exact opposite, where Nina is meek and rigid, Lily is wild, passionate, and dangerous.

Black Swan is a dangerously fanstastic movie, but not for the faint of heart.

Rating: * * * * 1/2 of 5

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dinner for Schmucks

Starring Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Ron Livingston, and Bruce Greenwood

Directed by Jay Roach

Release Date: July 30th, 2010

Based on the French film Le dîner de cons ("The Dinner of Dolts"), Dinner for Schmucks reteams Carell and Rudd with the director of the Austin Powers trilogy. Tim (Rudd) is a mid-level financial executive with big dreams at Fender Financial. Impressed by Tim's ingenuity toward landing a new client, Lance Fender (Greenwood) invites Tim to a special dinner: the dinner is for the employees to bring a loser and then Fender will declare the biggest loser a "winner" with the guest none the wiser. The loser of dinner? They get fired. While Tim wrestles with his guilt over exploiting someone and his girlfriend ashamed of the idea, he meets Barry, quite possibly the strangest person Tim has ever met. Barry is a IRS agent with a hobby of dressing up dead mice in dioramas and 1% awareness of the world around him. With Barry raring and willing to go to dinner, will Tim be a winner, or a loser?

Though I have yet to see the original film, I genuinely enjoyed how wacky and hilarious Dinner for schmucks was. During the opening credits, we get a glimpse into Barry's hobbies...his creepy, creepy hobby of dressing up dead mice including making one appear to be sunbathing topless (that will haunt my dreams for a week). In addition to Tim's misadventures with Barry, we get to meet Kieran (Jermaine Clement), an eccentric painter who works with Tim's girlfriend Julie. Kieran is a hiliarious character, from his reason for why art = love making, to having a meaningful conversation dressed like a faun. Finally, there is the cherry on top of a bizarre sundae, Thurman (Galifianakis), who believes he has mind control powers and gets uber-serious over questions like "Can I eat your pudding?". The dinner is equally hilarious, particularly when Thurman and Barry have a mind-control vs. brain control fight.

Dinner for Schmucks is a goofy, enjoyable comedy.

Rating: * * * * of 5

Click Here to buy Le Diner de Cons (Original French Version with English Subtitles)

Click Here to buy Dinner for Schmucks

Click Here to buy Dinner for Schmucks [Blu-ray]

The Last Airbender

Starring Noah Ringer, Dev Patel, and Cliff Curtis

Directed By M. Night Shymalan

Release Date: July 1st, 2010

To say this is a terrible film is like saying Michael Bay kinda likes Explosions: HUGE UNDERSTATEMENT.  There is almost nothing good to say about this movie. It's terrible; the dialogue, the "plot", the horrible, wooden perfomances from the actors. If you're a fan of AVATAR: The Last Airbender, don't see this movie. No one deserves to give themselves such a headache. In fact, I saw the film with a friend who was unfamiliar with the series, and he was just as dumbfounded as I was with how confusing and stupid the movie actually was.

Did it seem like M. Night Shymalan even cared about the source material? The names of the characters are mispronounced, the film itself is at best a highlight of season one, and the awful, awful special effects. What happened to this movie from pre-production to production? I shudder to imagine seeing this in 3D, if the effects in 2D looked like amateur work from a computer animation course. The Last Airbender can be summed up in one word: STUPID. Ugh, What a rotten movie and shame on M. Night Shymalan for taking a fantastic animated series and turning it into one of the worst movies of 2010. Spoony tried to warn me , the cinema snob tried to warn me, but I didn't listen. I wasted two hours of my life when it felt like twenty years were stolen from me.
Rating: 0 of 5.........AVOID AT ALL COSTS

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