Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Proposal

Margaret is an executive at a high powered publishing company and is known for being ruthless. Andrew is her handsome, adorable assistant that she tortures daily while he waits patiently for a promotion to editor and possibly a chance to have his manuscript published. However, Margaret is Canadian and unexpectedly she has her visa revoked and is told she will be removed from her job while in Canada reapplying for her visa. In desperation Margaret tells the partners that she and Andrew are engaged and the two being to engage in deceiving an immigration officer in the hopes that Margaret and Andrew can marry long enough for her to be granted citizenship. What Margaret doesn’t count on is meeting Andrew’s family in Alaska and what that will change in her grand plans.

The Proposal was a cute movie; it wasn’t worth buying, or seeing twice, but it also didn’t bore me – that’s actually pretty good for a romantic comedy. I laughed when I was supposed to laugh, and fell a little in love with the characters, the only thing I never really saw was the relationship. Most of the time this would be a killer for a review of a romantic comedy, but Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds brought a lot of chemistry and were incredibly personable characters, and this is what made the film work, even though I did not see the romance in their relationship.

I have to say that the more I see him in the more I adore Ryan Reynolds. The man has a personality, charisma and humor that radiates from any character he plays and somehow doesn’t detract from his portrayal. The closest thing I can equate him to is a classic star like Clark Gable – you watch him perform and you are aware you are watching an actor, but you still see the mastery of the role.

As a date movie, or a distraction The Proposal is a movie to see. I don’t know if it will have much in the way of legs on DVD, but it’s definitely worth seeing at least once.

Director: Anne Fletcher
Writer: Pete Chiarelli
Margaret Tate: Sandra bullock
Andrew Paxton: Ryan Reynolds
Grace Paxton: Mary Steenburgen
Joe Paxton: Craig T. Nelson
Grandma Annie: Betty White
Gertrude: Malin Akerman

Margaret Tate: What am I allergic to?
Andrew Paxton: Pine nuts, and the full spectrum of human emotion.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bottle Shock

I enjoyed Bottle Shock so much I went out and bought it so I could enjoy it for a second time. I really did not expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did.

Watching the movie again I have to give credit to the actors, this is a movie that has a great cast supporting it and is a textbook example of how a good script turns into a highly enjoyable movie when given to a capable director and a talented cast. There is not one performance in this film that bothers me in the slightest – even in the bit parts. I watch Bottle Shock and believe that these characters could physically and emotionally exist in the time period in which the movie is set.

Also, I must give credit to Randall Miller. The setting of Bottle Shock is spectacular and beautiful and instead of letting this overrun the films visuals. I would love to find out if any of the film was shot in sets or if it was entirely on location because this is a Napa that I want to visit badly and I am not an outdoors kind of person.

I will be watching this movie again before too long because it’s the kind of film that is infectious. Watching it puts you in a good mood, makes you root for the underdog and cheer at any victory no matter how small. Bottle Shock is definitely an accomplishment.

Bo Barrett: It wasn't always like this. Before Paris, people didn't drink our wine. I mean, my friends did. But you could hardly consider their palates discerning... Hell, we were farmers... sort of...

Star Trek: the Motion Picture

James T. Kirk is an admiral in Starfleet, and when an anomaly that appears to be very dangerous is headed toward Earth he convinces the brass to let him take control of the Enterprise back so that he can intercept the alien force. Along the way Kirk manages to pull Spock and McCoy back into service as well. Once they catch up with the anomaly they become trapped and begin to learn about the entity now known as V-ger. As V-ger gets closer to Earth Kirk and crew must figure out how to stop it before it kills every living being on the planet.

Star Trek: the Motion Picture did give birth to the Star Trek franchise, so it does deserve some credit. However, there is a reason that the nickname for this movie is Star Trek: the Motionless Picture. NOTHING happens in this entire movie. They talk, they philosophize, they look at one another, they watch things, they listen to reports from eye witnesses…and that is it. Even the climax is just them walking into the center of V-ger and talking about what they discovered. Seriously.

I think Robert Wise is amazing, but if I had to see one more shot of the Enterprise flying through space something was going to die.

The worst part of this film is that everything is drawn out ten times longer than it should be. An example? Kirk is being shuttled back to the Enterprise by Scotty. They board the little ship and you see space, then they exchange a few lines of dialogue and Scotty starts the journey, now we have a shot of the Enterprise, then a shot of the shuttle flying, then a shot of Kirk looking, next another shot of the Enterprise, and another shot of earth and maybe the shuttle, then back to Kirk looking, then the Enterprise; after about three to five minutes of this the shuttle finally docks, Kirk & Scotty exchange another few lines of dialogue and then we are into the ship. If you cut out the shots of the ship flying through space you may have a thirty minute movie.

I am a big lover of the original series Star Trek movies because I grew up with them. But if I ever have to watch Star Trek: the Motion Picture again it will be too soon. Personally, I find it amazing that they were able to get Wrath of Khan off the ground.

Director: Robert Wise
Writer: Harold Livingston
Kirk: William Shatner
Spokc: Leonard Nimoy
Bones: DeForest Kelley
Scotty: James Doohan
Sulu: George Takei
Checkov: Walter Koenig
Uhura: Nichelle Nichols
Decker: Stephen Collins

Bones: Well Jim... I hear Chapel's an M.D. now. Well I'm gonna need a top nurse... not a doctor who'll argue every little diagnosis with me. And they probably redesigned the whole sickbay, too! I know engineers, they LOVE to change things.

Friday, June 26, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

I just realized that Ken Kwapis harkens all the way back to my childhood; he directed one of my favorite movies as a child - Follow That Bird. That’s right he made the movie about Big Bird running away from home and being brought back to Sesame Street when he missed his friends. I know it’s dorky but that makes me love Ken Kwapis just a little bit.

He’s Just Not That Into You is arguably Kwapis’s biggest film to date and probably the one that will bring him a great deal of romantic comedies in the future. In the hands of a less through director the interwoven romantic tales of a large group of friends would be unwieldy and feel every minute of its over two hours in length, but through the strength of the script, and talent of the cast and director the film does not feel laborious as it should. Instead, it feels real, funny and relatable.

It is my personal opinion that He’s Just Not That Into You will be remembered as time moves on mainly because of its cast. The film has some of today’s biggest stars with Ben Affleck, Jennifer Anniston, Jennifer Connelly, Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson as well as containing fast rising stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Bradley Cooper and Justin Long. This cast is going to go far and most of them will probably be looked back on as the great stars of this era the way we look at Clark gable, Vivian Leigh, Mae West, and Rock Hudson. Their names will be remembered.

A nice thing about seeing He’s Just Not That Into You for the second time was that I was no longer shocked and embarrassed for Ginnifer Goodwin’s character. Her situations were not as uncomfortable for me this time around!

Gigi: So what now I'm just supposed to turn from every guy who doesn't like me?
Alex: Uh. Yeah!
Gigi: There's not gonna be anybody left.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: Season One

Originally uploaded by Twinsplynn
Years ago the residents of Caprica created the Cylons, a race of machines that became more than they were meant to be and revolted against them. For years the people of Caprica have been living Cylon-free until the Cylons mount their ultimate battle and bomb Caprica, killing any human that cannot flee on one of the few remaining star ships. With less than 50,000 humans remaining Secretary of Education Laura Roslin is the highest ranking political official and takes over the presidency, and one lone Battlestar military vessel becomes the defender of the human race. In the first season of Battlestar Galactica the last of the human race is pursued across space by the Cylons as they hunt for the Earth from their myths, a planet that most only believe to be a myth but might be the only planet they have left.

I didn’t have cable when Galactica first began so I purposely never got into it. Now that I can catch it all on DVD it’s a different story entirely. I will be watching this series all the way until it’s conclusion. I am a sci-fi junkie and I have to say that the world these characters exist in is pretty frackin amazing.

What the new imagining of Galactica has done that the original did not, and what perhaps gives it the edge that pushed it into the acclaim it experienced through its run, is that the Cylons now look human. Sure, the giant silver “toasters” from the original series are still Cylons but what is not explained in the first season is that somewhere along the line the Cylons developed a way of looking human, and while there are only a certain number of people they look like the quantity of these human looking Cylons is endless. The scary part for almost everyone is that no one knows they Cylons look human until it is too late, and that there are sleep agents littered within the surviving humans that do not know they are Cylons. This creates a wonderful dramatic device that opened up a whole new storytelling device for the new series.

What I love about Battlestar is what I love about good sci-fi and fantasy. Ronald Moore and crew have created a fully imagined, fully realized world that becomes believable because they have thought about each and every aspect of it right down to vocabulary. For crying out loud they invented FRACK to get back the censors. Frack is now a part of pop-culture.

Battlestar is also populated with great female characters. Starbuck, Roslin & Number Six are great, diverse females that really create dynamic story possibilities on the show. I also have to applaud Moore and Co. for having the audacity to take a popular classic character like Starbuck and make the new character one of the most kick-ass females in television, right next to Buffy.

The metaphor in season one is pretty easy. America was a post-9/11 world with a new war on terror, terrified that we had terrorists among us and surrounding us, ready to do away with our way of life. Though I am told that the metaphor of Battlestar changes frequently, with only one season initially guaranteed it is pretty dang obvious that Islamic terrorists/the war on terror was the metaphor for these first episodes.

Admaril Adama: Edward James Olmos
President Roslin: Mary McDonnell
Apollo: Jamie Bamber
Gaius: James Callis
Number 6: Tricia Helfer
Boomer: Grace Park
Starbuck: Katee Sackhoff
Colnel Tigh: Michael Hogan
Chief: Aaron Douglas
Helo: Tahmoh Penikett

Free Enterprise

Mark & Robert are frustrated artists, filmmakers, and geeks; no one understands them except a core group of people, especially when it comes to their love of Star Trek and Captain Kirk. One day Mark and Robert are in local book store and run into their idol – William Shatner. Willing to let the men buy him a drink so he can share his idea for a project, the three strike up a friendship and begin to help each other achieve their filmmaking ambitions. Meanwhile, Mark begins to freak out about his upcoming 30th birthday and Robert looses his editing job and meets the girl of his dreams leaving his friends in the cold.

The first time I saw Free Enterprise no one else had seen it, or at least that’s the way it felt. However, being a self-described sci-fi geek I absolutely loved it. While Free Enterprise may be a tongue-in-cheek look at a Trekkie’s obsession it deals with just about every major science fiction product up to that date. And honestly, being a hard core geek myself it’s a pretty true look at a lot of people I know, and up until geeks recently made their way into pop culture it was a very good look at how people looked at me during my childhood & teen years.

Perhaps the best thing about Free Enterprise is William Shatner. He may be playing a exaggerated version of himself but as Bill he is a dang humorous addition to the movie. The great part about Shatner being written is as a character in the film is that he’s not just there to be the celebrity cameo, on a technical story level he is actually the vehicle that allows the Robert and Mark to begin a new level of maturity; Kirk/Shatner was each man’s childhood idol and seeing the flawed, real-life version before them makes them stop and think about themselves and their own desires in life and teaches them how they can still hold onto the core pieces of themselves despite the disillusionment that occurs.

Since its release in 1998 Free Enterprise has risen to the status of cult classic. If you are a fan of Trek or even just science fiction I highly recommend that you see this film at least once.

Director: Robert Meyer Burnett
Writers: Mark A. Altman & Robert Meyer Burnett
Mark: Eric McCormack
Robert: Rafer Weigel
Bill: William Shatner
Claire: Audie England

Young Mark: So you're saying I should engage my advanced-for-a-twelve-year-old intellect and use logic?
Imaginary William Shatner: Logic is the other guy's schtick, but yes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Star Trek

I don’t go to bars. I don’t drink. I don’t party. What I do is watch movies. That’s why is blog is already up to over 100 posts this year, and why I saw Star Trek again. Last Friday after seeing a matinee of Drag Me to Hell, going to dinner, Barnes & Noble, Hot Topic and a few other places, my brother and I walked back past the theatre and saw that Trek was starting in ten minutes…since we had used free movie tickets (yes we see enough movies to earn free tickets a lot) on the earlier film we went.

What did amaze me is that the movie had already been out for about 6 weeks, and even though it has been moved to smaller theatres it is still packing the house, and pulling the audience into the film. People still cheer, clap, gasp and laugh at all the appropriate moments. The shine has not worn off Star Trek.

I will also admit that I have already done an extensive google search to see if I can find the DVD release information for the film…it doesn’t have a date yet. You can be sure that I will be buying this one on the day it comes out and watching it that night. But I still might be seeing it a few more times in theatres.

Leonard 'Bones' McCoy: I may throw up on ya.
Kirk: I think these things are pretty safe.
Leonard 'Bones' McCoy: Don't pander to me, kid. One tiny crack in the hull and our blood boils in thirteen seconds. Solar flare might crop up, cook us in our seats. And wait till you're sitting pretty with a case of Andorian shingles, see if you're so relaxed when your eyeballs are bleeding. Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence.
Kirk: Well, I hate to break this to you, but Starfleet operates in space.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Drag Me to Hell

Christine Brown has a great life; she is a loan processor up for promotion to assistant manager, her boyfriend is cute, successful and well off, and her life is on the up. Then one day at work she finds out that unless she can be trusted to make the hard decisions her co-worker Stu will get the promotion. Unfortunately for Christine she decides to start making the hard decisions the day that Mrs. Ganush comes to her for the third extension on her mortgage; when turned down Mrs. Ganush decides to seek retribution and curses Christine so that the Lamia will torment her and drag her to hell in three days.

Sam Raimi has a talent I envy. He takes some of the most bizarre pieces imaginable and turns them into startlingly striking images, he does this in Drag Me to Hell. Raimi has the corner on being strange, quirky, creepy and downright beautifully visual. His films have what so few young directors have now, when you see a Raimi film you know that it is a Raimi film – it cannot be mistaken for anything else.

Like most of Raimi’s horror films, I didn’t really enjoy this on my initial viewing. However, if this follows the pattern of his other horror films it will improve on me if I see it a second time. What bothers me about Raimi’s horror films are that he enjoys the gross out horror, and he telegraphs his films. I can tell you exactly what will happen for each plot point in the film and when it will happen. It’s downright clichéd and predictable. Normally, this gets brushed off by me because it’s hand-held directing, but somehow with each viewing Raimi’s films normally become more entertaining for me because deep down Raimi does have a considerable amount of skill – movies like Spiderman 1 & 2 have proven that.

I am also enjoying that Justin Long is getting some good parts. In Drag Me to Hell Long plays the boyfriend, a young college professor whose blue-blooded parents aren’t sure Christine is right for him. Long is able to be the one stable, grounded, human force in the otherwise bizarre horror-comedy – he is the sweet boyfriend every girlfriend dreams of having.

Drag Me to Hell is not the perfect Sam Raimi movie. However, it definitely feels like Raimi was trying to clense his psyche and appease his fans after the travesty that was Spiderman 3. The one signature missing from this film was an appearance from Bruce Campbell, I am going to have to hope that maybe he'll guest in Raimi's next project.

Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Sam & Ivan Raimi
Christine Brown: Alison Lohman
Clay Dalton: Justin Long
Mrs. Ganush: Lorna Raver
Ram Jas: Dileep Rao
Mr. Jacks: David Paymer

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Star Trek: the Search for Spock

The Wrath of Khan ends with the death of Spock, a sacrifice that costs him everything but save the life of everyone on the Enterprise by getting them away from the Genesis planet. Once back at Starfleet headquarters the crew of the Enterprise mourn Spock and are visited by Sarek (Spock’s father) who reveals that Spock would have left his entity, his “soul” in Kirk or another close individual and that Kirk must bring this individual and Spock’s body to Vulcan for his final rites. Kirk asks for permission to take the Enterprise to Genesis and retrieve Spock’s tube but is told that the ship is going to be decommissioned and Kirk should enjoy his time off. This leads Kirk and crew to steal the Enterprise and make their way to Genesis where Saavik and David have encountered not only a crew on Klingons looking to turn Genesis into a weapon but a being that appears to be a very young, quickly maturing Spock.

Star Trek: the Search for Spock is a great movie. I honestly think that this is one of my favorite Star Trek movies, I mean for crying out loud Kirk, Sulu, Scotty, McCoy, Uhura & Chekov steal the Enterprise and disable another Starfleet ship in order to get to Spock. Then you have McCoy doing an amazingly hysterical Spock impersonation through half the movie, and Scotty and Uhura get to be badasses. It’s a pretty damn cool Star Trek experience.

Watching the original series has reminded me of two things: Bones has always been one of my favorite characters in fiction, and that James T. Kirk is an amazing character.

Bones is always the character that points out the obvious in the most sarcastic way possible. He gets the best lines and whether he’s played by Urban or Kelley they are delivered perfectly. He is the epitome of the opinionated prick and he is a more memorable character because of it.

Kirk on the other hand is a brash, intelligent, adventurous character – he’s practically Davy Crockett in space. Kirk doesn’t look for challenges, but when presented he does the only thing that occurs to him – he faces them head on and finds a way to defeat them. Kirk inspires loyalty from those that are close to him and hate from his enemies because they know he will stop at nothing to defeat him. Kirk is the hero that can even cheat death if he had to.

I grew up with The Next Generation and loved the adventures of Picard and crew, but before I was ever introduced to Q or the Borg I watched Kirk, Spock & McCoy deal with the Klingon’s, Romulan’s and Starfleet brass. I am glad that these characters have been reincarnated for a new generation.

Director: Leonard Nimoy
Writer: Harve Bennett
Kirk: William Shatner
Spock: Leonard Nimoy
McCoy: DeForrest Kelley
Scotty: James Doohan
Sulu: George Takei
Chekov: Walter Koenig
Uhura: Nichelle Nichols
Cmdr. Kruge: Christopher Lloyd

Kirk: My God, Bones... what have I done?
McCoy: What you had to do. What you always do: turn death into a fighting chance to live.

The Last House on the Left

last house on the left
Originally uploaded by hypostylin
Mari is a hippie to the soul who has parents that love her but are trying to understand her. The day before her birthday she goes into New York to see a concert with her friend Phyllis. In traditional teenage fashion the two become rambunctious once in the city and decide to try and score some pot. However, they ask the wrong seedy individual and instead of getting high they end up the prisoners of a group of criminals; these criminals torture the girls and finally kill them and as luck would have it when their car breaks down on the run they end up seeking shelter at Mari’s house. When Mari’s parents discover what these people are responsible for they realize they are stuck without phones, and without police so they take revenge into their own hands.

The Last House on the Left is the movie that helped put Wes Craven on the map and I am a huge Craven fan, but I did not like The Last House on the Left. I found it tonally bizarre and downright gross – I have never been a fan of gross horror. I didn’t understand why on earth the police officers in the film were inserted into the film as slapstick comedy segments, and the music choices were just as odd.

I really can’t say a whole lot about this movie, like most of the horror classics I’ve seen I leave them wanting more. I do know that I don’t really want to dwell on this movie too much because while I thought it was kind of stupid, it was also pretty disgusting. However, I actually disliked this movie so much that I am not sure I will see the remake.

Director & Writer: Wes Craven
Mari Collingwood: Sandra Peabody
Phyllis: Lucy Grantham
Krug: David Hess
Fred: Fred J. Lincoln
Sadie: Jeramie Rain
Dr. Collingwood: Richard Towers
Estelle Collingwood: Cynthia Carr

Estelle Collingwood: I think it's crazy.
Mari: What's crazy?
Estelle Collingwood: All that blood and violence. I thought you were supposed to be the love generation.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan

Seeing Abrams Star Trek made me remember how much I loved going to see the original Star Trek movies with my parents, and it made me all nostalgic. As such, I went out and bought the Kirk & Spock 3 pack of DVD’s that was just released and then sat down and watched The Wrath of Kahn.

Wrath of Kahn picks up after the first Star Trek movie that is downright near-unwatchable. Kirk is now an admiral and Spock is the captain of the Enterprise. While his success should be a good thing, Kirk is facing a birthday and begun to feel like he is a relic of Starfleet instead of the active participant he used to be and despite the efforts of Bones, Spock and his friends he cannot snap out of it. Kirk goes aboard the Enterprise to inspect the new crew and instead they decide to take the ship out for a test run. While on their training voyage they receive a troubling transmission from Dr. Carol Marcus, furious that Kirk is taking her Genesis experiment away from her – Kirk has made no such order so the Enterprise rushes to get to the scientists. Once there they discover that Kahn, a genetically engineered man, has returned from the exile Kirk imposed on him to seek his revenge.

This is by and far one of the best Star Trek movies ever made. Up until the new Star Trek I would argue that it was the best, now I am still deciding which is better.

This is Starfleet as a military organization and Enterprise as a peacekeeper and Kirk as the badass we all remember him to be. Kirk and Spock drive this movie with Spock trying to make Kirk feel relevant again until Kahn takes over that job by seeking Kirk out for his revenge. The relationship between Kirk and

What makes Wrath of Kahn truly amazing is the ending. Without giving too many things away Kirk and Spock each have life altering moments. Kirk is known for taking no-win scenarios and turning them into winnable situations; however, at the end of the film there is a no-win scenario that Kirk cannot find a way out of…until Spock makes a decision that saves the Enterprise.

Those that want to pick on William Shatner for his acting capabilities can stuff it. While Star Trek may not hold the same prestige as playing Hamlet, if you’ve seen the end of Wrath of Kahn you cannot deny that Shatner has some acting chops and he knows how to use them.

Director: Nicholas Meyer
Writers: Jack B. Sowards
James Kirk: William Shatner
Spock: Leonard Nimoy
McCoy: DeForest Kelley
Scotty: James Doohan
Checkov: Walter Koenig
Sulu: George Takei
Uhura: Nichelle Nichols
Lt. Saavik: Kristie Alley
Khan: Ricardo Montalban

Kirk: I suppose you're about to remind me that logic alone dictates your actions?
Spock: I would not remind you of that which you know so well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bottle Shock

In 1976 California vineyards weren’t taken too seriously much to the chagrin of winemakers like Jim and Bo Barrett at Chateau Montelena in the Napa Valley. In Paris, wine store owner Steven Spurrier’s business is failing due to the snobbery of French wine elite and the British-born Spurrier decides to convince the French wine academy to hold a blind tasting between French and California wines in order to bolster his business and improve his reputation. However, once Spurrier arrives in California to select the wines for competition he not only has to deal with the distrust of the local vineyards but somehow process the fact that these California wines are much better than he expected them to be.

Honestly, I knew nothing about Bottle Shock going in besides it made it into Sundance a year or two ago, and starred Chris Pine. I netflixed it because I was interested in seeing Chris Pine outside of Star Trek and Princess Diaries 2. I loved this movie. I have wanted to watch it a second time ever since I resealed the Netflix envelope.

Perhaps what surprised me is that the film is funny. I would not be surprised if it turns out that 90% of Bottle Shock is fiction but it’s so well written and about a unique enough event that I don’t care. Bottle Shock is a well made dramedy that mixes a lot of storylines together to complete one meaningful, thought out film that had a lot less attention than it deserved. The cast in the film is superb, made of mostly unknowns at the time and added some credibility with the talents of Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman & a bit part by Dennis Farina.

It was a bit startling to watch Chris Pine, now known as the rebellious but clean cut Capt. Kirk as a long haired, lazy, hippie. Pine and Pullman play the main roles as father and son and manage to have a very good chemistry together and are a good representation of father and son. Bottle Shock is a period piece even if it isn’t set too many centuries back, and director Randall Miller managed to encapsulate the generational disparities very well using Jim (Pullman) and Bo (Pine) to show this most profoundly and in a very relatable way.

I have to compliment Miller on Bottle Shock. Call me a bad Californian, a bad American, or just too young but I never knew about the Judgment in Paris before this film; I don’t think I would have cared if I had read about it in a text book or on the back of a wine bottle. However, Bottle Shock is a dang entertaining and well made film that has me desiring to find a bottle of the Cheateau Montelena chardonnay, learn more about wine, and visit the Napa Valley. I think that’s probably an earmark of a good film.

Director: Randall Miller
Writers: Jody Savin, Randall Miller & Ross Schwartz
Bo Barrett: Chris Pine
Steven Spurrier: Alan Rickman
Jim Barrett: Bill Pullman
Sam: Rachel Taylor
Gustavo Brambila: Freddy Rodriguez
Maurice: Dennis Farina
Joe: Eliza Dushku

Jim Barrett: Why don't I like you?
Steven Spurrier: Because you think I'm an arsehole. And I'm not, really. I'm just British and, well... you're not.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Brothers Bloom

The Brothers Bloom
Originally uploaded by AsceticMonk
Brother’s Bloom and Stephen lived a rag tag life of floating from foster home to foster home never finding their role in the world until they discover the art of the con. Stephen and Bloom rise to the top of the con echelon with Stephen as the master architect and Bloom as his main player; the con is their work of art with actors, themes and over-reaching ideas. Their schemes are things of beauty. Soon, Bloom grows tired of having no life but the ones Stephen writes for him, but before he can quit Stephen talks him into one final con, to take bored heiress on the adventure of a life time and relieve her of part of her fortune. What Bloom doesn’t count on is that Penelope could be the one thing he’s always wanted in his life.

What I love most about Rian Johnson’s movies is that they surprise me. From the opening frames right until the end credit scroll beings I don’t know what is going to happen or how Johnson is going to take me there. This alone would gain Johnson credibility in my book simply because of the amount of movies I see, but the fact that his movies are astoundingly complex and beautiful on all levels makes me wish The Brother’s Bloom was a movie that could get remembered come Oscar nomination.

Most of the critics out there have universally declared that Rachel Weisz steals the film. I do not disagree with this. She is funny, charming and all together irrepressible. However, I have to say that Rinko Kikuchi who barely speaks a word in the film as pyro expert Bang Bang steals a bit of the film herself.

I won’t say much to spoil Johnson’s latest tale here, but what I can say is that The Brother’s Bloom is not a movie that should be missed. It should be praised, re-watched and added to DVD collections everywhere. If it can garner an award or two that would be even better.

Penelope: Rachel Weisz
Bloom: Adrien Brody
Stephen: Mark Ruffalo
Bang Bang: Rinko Kikuchi
The Curator: Robbie Coltrane

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Hangover

Originally uploaded by ranggayang
Three friends and a soon-to-be brother-in-law head to Vegas for the bachelor’s party of a lifetime. The only problem is when Phil, Stu & Alan wake up in their thrashed hotel suite they can’t remember what happened the previous night – or where Doug is. The men proceed to try and follow the clues in their hotel room back to their origins in an effort to find Doug before his fiancée panics and the wedding is off.

If I try to describe The Hangover to you it won’t be funny, but trust me, the film is beyond funny. It’s gross, inappropriate, slapstick, verbally witty, and unexpected and beyond all else an incredibly fresh comedy populated with incredibly charismatic and talented cast. Even the baby was funny.

The Hangover had what it take to make a truly funny comedy – good writing. The film chose to set up it’s jokes without immediately playing them out, something that was shown in the beginning wouldn’t get played into a joke until another act in the film, or they’d be referenced at several other points in the film so that the joke kept getting funnier. There is at least one line in the film that had me laughing so hard that it took me a few minutes to recover.

This is a film that suffers from great comedic timing, and will undoubtedly end up continuing to make great amounts of money at the box office and prove that movies rated above PG-13 can still work in a modern day market.

Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
Phil: Bradley Cooper
Stu: Ed Helms
Alan: Zach Galifianakis
Doug: Justin Bartha
Jade: Heather Graham

Alan Garner: Who's baby is that?
Phil Wenneck: We'll deal with the baby later.
Stu Price: We're not gonna leave a baby in the room. There's a tiger in the bathroom!


Originally uploaded by cybermelli
Carl Fredrickson grew up fascinated with adventure but was too afraid to actually do anything, until he met the girl that would become his wife in Ellie. He and Ellie planned to have glorious adventures and travels together but of course life intefeared right up through Ellie’s death. Carl’s whole world was Ellie and without her he never expanded and learned to deal with the outside world. When the city rules that Carl needs to move into a retirement home he rigs his house to become a flying vessel with hundreds of balloons and tries to follow the flight path his idol Charles Muntz to Paradise Falls – where he and Ellie always wanted to go. However, Carl accidently picks up hitchhiker Russell whom Carl sent on a snipe-hunt. Together Carl and Russell make their way to Paradise Falls and discover that Muntz is still there.

Up is a beautiful movie. It’s full of symbols, well-rounded characters you can connect with, imagination, stunning visuals and more than anything else it is a film that knows what it wants to tell you and how it wants to tell it. There is no wasted space in a pixar film. From start to finish every shot, line and beat is plotted, purposeful and concise in a way that no one else can do simply because it is what their production process dictates. This perfection has led to making Up one of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen this year.

Perhaps what I love best about Up is that it is a movie about fatherhood. Carl Freidrickson is an old man that never got a chance to be a father. He and Ellie tried but couldn’t become parents; once Ellie was gone this left Carl alone in the world until Russell accidently came into his life. Russell is the child that Carl never had. Though Carl is annoyed and aggravated by Russell he slowly comes to develop affection for the boy; this happens in large part because Russell needs a father. As Russell talks incessantly to Carl he begins to reveal that his parents are divorced, and he rarely sees or talks to his father – this has lead Russell to Carl’s doorstep, literally. Russell joined the Wildreness Scouts because it’s something fathers are supposed to do with their sons. When that doesn’t work to get his father’s attention he earns every badge in existence, because the fathers are supposed to come to the ceremony to pin them on, and when that doesn’t work he goes after the final badge which will lead him to his promotion and Carl – the helping the elderly badge. As their adventures wind to a close Carl realizes that Russell needs him as much as he needs Russell and the actualization of this is beautiful.

I am not a crier at movies. However, Up had me very close to crying. I dare you to not be emotionally affected by the montage of Carl’s life with Ellie, or the ending sequence between Russell and Carl. Also, Dug the dog cannot be missed.

Directors & Writers: Pete Doctor & Bob Peterson
Carl Fredricksen: Ed Asner
Charles Muntz: Christopher Plummer
Russell: Jordan Nagai
Dug: Bob Peterson
Beta: Delroy Lindo

Carl Fredricksen: This is crazy. I finally meet my childhood hero and he's trying to kill us. What a joke.
Dug: Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, "I forgot to gather acorns for the winter and now I am dead." Ha ha! It's funny because the squirrel gets dead.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight
Originally uploaded by Yamal Taha
A lot of anticipation preceded The Dark Knight and I am sad to say that one of the most tragic deaths of 2008 with Heath Ledger also aided in the buzz surrounding the film. However, after watching this film multiple times I can still say that The Dark Knight deserved the praise it received.

I never truly expected The Dark Knight to be nominated for best picture but I do think that it deserved it, and that Christopher Nolan deserved a nomination for best director. The Dark Knight is a technological and artistic masterwork that simply put should have received some kind of recognition beyond technical awards, especially in light of the films that actually ended up nominated. However, I suppose this does give me room to make a Superman movie that perhaps the Oscars will recognize and break the taboo.

Everytime I watch The Dark Night I am astounded by the performance of Heath Ledger. Watching him not only makes me sad that he can never reprise his role at Joker but that he can never again bring his talent to the screen.

I hope that Nolan’s Batman films break the comic book conventions and the third one knocks it out of the park.

Alfred Pennyworth: Know your limits, Master Wayne.
Bruce Wayne: Batman has no limits.
Alfred Pennyworth: Well, you do, sir.
Bruce Wayne: Well, can't afford to know 'em.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Batman Begins

The Cast
Originally uploaded by Matt Garland
Batman Begins does not get old.

While I loved The Dark Knight I have to say that I will probably watch Batman Begins much more. Nothing against The Dark Knight, it’s just that Nolan’s first installment fits my own thematic outlook much more. While it is never a bright and cheery movie the tone and characters in Batman Begins are much more hopeful and optimistic than the follow-up film.

In the light of Natasha Richardson’s recent death I found myself paying much more attention to the performance of Liam Neeson. When I first heard Neeson was playing the films villain I wasn’t sure what to think about it. Nolan managed to trick us all into thinking it was in fact Ken Watanabe playing Ra’s Al Ghul instead of Neeson so when it was revealed that he was in fact the immortal Al Ghul was Neeson it was quite a surprise. He was a perfect Ra’s Al Ghul.

Nolan has proven time and again that he can make great movies. Like Bryan Singer before him, he took a comic book movie and made it a movie that transcended what other people would have seen as limitations.

Alfred Pennyworth: It's a problem with the graphite, sir. The next 10,000 will be up to specifications.
Bruce Wayne: At least they gave us a discount.
Alfred Pennyworth: Quite. In the, uh, meantime, Sir, may I suggest you try to avoid landing on your head?

The Soloist

Poster The Soloist
Originally uploaded by Cine Fanatico
I went to The Soloist with some friends. We had all ages in our little group: my friends daughter was the teen, my friend was the middle-aged range, her mother was the senior and I represented the twenties. I have to say that it was a lot of fun.

On thing that this viewing proved was that we all think that the performances of Downey and Foxx sell The Soloist. However, what our teenage contingent did perfectly illustrate for me is that the more experimental sections of the film will throw audience members off of the film.

What we all did agree on is that Joe Wright made an amazing movie and we hope that people won’t forget about it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

True Blood

God Hates Fangs
Originally uploaded by snorrem
Sookie Stackhouse is a normal small town, southern girl; she lives with her grandmother, is a waitress at the local bar, and is subject to the criticism and scorn of the town – because she’s telepathic and can hear what those around her are thinking. As such Sookie doesn’t really fit in around her and other than her close group of friends exists slightly out of the world everyone around her lives in. It’s for this reason that when the vampires come out of the closet Sookie is excited instead of repelled by the news; two years after the “great revelation” Bon Temps has its first vampire resident in Bill Compton and controversy abounds when he and Sookie develop into more than friends.

True Blood is a great series. I can’t speak for the majority of Alan Ball’s works (though they have received great criticial praise) because True Blood is the first of his shows that I have seen more than sporadic episodes. What I can say is that the show works because it is tongue-in-cheek, well written, incredibly acted and so unique it stands out even among vampire/fantasy shows.

I am a fan of the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris which True Blood is based on and in watching the season one I was shocked at how well Dead Unitl Dark translated into season one. The changes that were made to the plot and the characters don’t seem to harm the story Harris told in her books, but instead helped give the television series a flare all of its own along with streamlining events and people so that a television audience could understand them.

What I was surprised by is how much I am enjoying Anna Paquin as Sookie. She doesn’t look like the Sookie I pictured when I read the books but she perfectly embodies her so that now she is all I can picture.

I am sorry to know that I will have to wait for season 2 until it comes to DVD and will be unable to watch it as it airs.

Creator: Alan Ball
Sookie Stackhouse: Anna Paquin
Bill Compton: Stephen Moyer
Sam Merlotte: Sam Trammell
Eric: Alexander Skarsgård

I will update soon. I

I will update soon. I promise. My pick for the weekend is The Hangover btw - looks hysterical.