Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Hudsucker Proxy

I grew up watching the Coen’s films before they were Oscar winners, when the world at large didn’t know who they were and a bizarre comic slant affected everything they made. The Coen’s make movies that make me happy; they may not be normal, they may not be logical, but the films are always spectacular and memorable. The Hudsucker Proxy is one of the Coen’s earlier films that I just had the pleasure of watching for the first time.

Old Mr. Hudsucker, founder of Hudsucker Industries decides to take a swan dive out of the board room window when the company is at its most profitable; the problem for Sidney Mussburger and the remainder of the Hudsucker board is that Mr. Hudsucker didn’t have a will, so all of his shares will go up for public sale in the new year and the board will lose all control of the company and profits if they lose those shares. The board hatches a plan, they will chose the worst president they can, let the stocks take a dive as public confidence fails and then they will buy up Hudsucker’s shares themselves at insanely low prices. Luckily for Mussburger Norville Barnes has just arrived in the mail room and is eager to rise to high places. When Norville accidently causes an accident that almost causes Mussburger to plummet to his death as well Nussburger and the board decide he might just be the bumbling idiot to lead Hudsucker in the direction they wish to go.

I am going to be honest when I say that I am not sure I fully understood The Hudsucker Proxy, even for the Coen’s it’s pretty far out there, but I loved it just the same. It’s an insane romp of imagination, business ethics and the spirit of invention wrapped in a comedy by people that know how to entertain an audience – why wouldn’t that be enjoyable?

Watching this movie reminded me of how much I love Paul Newman. Newman played Sidney Mussburger, the most unscrupulous character in the film who would so anything he can to get ahead financially and he is the tormenting figure only Newman could play while still inserting class and style into the comedy.

The single best character in the film for me is Norville Barnes. Norville is an absolutely inexperienced character, fresh off the bus from middle America ready to make his mark in the bustling city of New York, New York, where dreams are made. His insistence from start to finish that his simple sketch that’s “you know, for kids” will revolutionize Hudsucker is both endearing and memorable. He’s the kind of character you get to root for and scorn through the process of the film as his ego gets too big and then is redeemed. Tim Robbins plays Barnes as a innocent, almost child-like character that is in the city without a protector and gets caught up in the ultimate game of “be careful what you wish for”.

However, what truly makes the Hudsucker Proxy a Coen film is the denouement. No one crafts an ending quite like Joel & Ethan. The ending to Burn After Reading may still be my favorite but The Hudsucker Proxy is classic Coen and should be seen. If you’ve never experienced the Coen’s movies before No Country for Old Men you need to correct that and correct it quickly. The Coen’s movies are too good to be missed.

Director: Joel Coen
Writers>: Joel & Ethan Coen
Norville Barnes: Tim Robbins
Amy Archer: Jennifer Jason Leigh
Sidney J. Mussburger: Paul Newman
Waring Hudsucker: Charles Durning
Moses: Bill Cobbs
Smitty: Bruce Campbell

Amy Archer: I used to think you were a swell guy. Well, to be honest, I thought you were an imbecile. But then I figured out you WERE a swell guy... A little slow, maybe, but a swell guy. Well, maybe you're not so slow, But you're not so swell either. And it looks like you're an imbecile after all!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Little Deiter Needs to Fly

I took an entire class on documentary film while I was at film school and though I was forced to watch many influential films in that class I don’t think I have ever seen a documentary by Werner Herzog. I’ve seen a few of his narrative films, but nothing else; the entire reason I added Little Dieter Needs to Fly to my Netflix is because I saw Rescue Dawn and the character of Dieter Dengler was absolutely fascinating.

Let me first say that this is the kind of documentary that people make fun of. What I mean by this, is that while there is nothing wrong with this film, it has every stereotype the average person imagines when they think of documentary film – the low budget, video look, rambling story in loosely connected scenes, and Herzog’s German accent as he narrates the film probably pushes it over the edge. However, if you are paying attention you’ll understand why Herzog became fascinated with Dengler, so fascinated he turned his story into a feature film.

Dieter Dengler survived hell. He immigrated from Germany post WWII because Germany had no pilot training program in their military, so he became an American citizen, joined the Air Force & quickly learned he wouldn’t be a pilot there so he got his college degree, joined the Navy, became a pilot and while he was serving in Vietnam he was shot down over Laos and spent a very long time as a POW. The only reason he’s alive is because he managed to help mastermind an escape with his fellow prisoners, but once in the jungle they were all separated and Dengler was the only survivor to be rescued. His story is so astounding it has to be a movie.

After watching Little Dieter Needs to Fly and seeing the man himself I am even more astounded by the performance of Christian Bale in Rescue Dawn. Except for Christian Bale being much more appealing to look at Bale and Dengler could be the same person; Bale perfected Dengler’s accent, his movements, his diction – everything. I have no idea how he does it.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of Little Dieter Needs to Fly it was enjoyable, and at under 90 minutes it was a quick watch. I do think I am going to have to watch another of Herzog’s documentaries though as this one mainly felt like a special feature you would put on the Rescue Dawn DVD.

Director & Writer: Werner Herzog

Dieter Dengler: Duane, my friend, he was gone, and from then on my motions, my progress, became mechanical. In fact, I couldn't care less if I would live or die. But then later on, there was this bear, this beautiful bear that was following me. It was circling me in fact sometimes. It was gone and I missed it. It was just like a dog, it was just like a pet. Of course I knew this bear was there, he was waiting to eat me. When I think about it, this bear meant death to me. And it is really ironic. That's the only friend I had at the end, was death.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Max is trying to figure out the world around him and he’s very confused. His big sister whom he adores no longer give him the time of day and his mother is dating. When Max sees his mother kiss a man in their living room he acts out, throwing a fit for his mother and running out of the house; as he runs he goes further into the recesses of his imagination and discovers the land of the wild things. This is a land where the large, scary monsters are actually friends, and Max is king of it all.

When I was in film school a professor once told me adaptations weren’t so much about being literally faithful to the events, but finding and capturing the spirit of the story. The fact that Spike Jonze was able to fully capture the spirit of Maurice Sendak’s book and turn it into a fully realized feature film for Where the Wild Things Are astounds me. The book is all of 10 sentences about childhood temper tantrums, disappointment, anger and imagination and Jonze found a full length film in this; he turned it into a film about what it’s like to be a child without control over anything and being on the precipice of wanting to understand adult concepts and wanting to run away from change and anything that might actually make you grow up.

Despite being a brilliant film, Where the Wild Things Are will not be a popular movie. Like most films of its kind, people go into a movie like this and whether they are conscious of it or not they expect a glossy, happy children’s movie. Where the Wild Things Are is not that film, and it is better for it, but the fact that there is violence, scary moments, and that Max is a liar and sometimes a bully will turn people off. However, it is these things about the film and about Max that make the movie transcend from being a children’s movie and turn into a beautiful film experience. Through the course of a fight with his mother and a trip into an imaginary land Max completes a character arch, one that teaches him he can’t control the world around him no matter what he pretends and all that really matters is that his family loves him. This might be a simplistic character arch, but it is the arch of a child, and a child is what the movie and the book is all about.

Director: Spike Jonze
Writers: Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers
Max: Max Records
Mom: Catherine Keener
Carol: James Gandolfini
Alexander: Paul Dano
Judith: Catherine O’Hara
Ira: Forest Whitaker
The Bull: Michael Berry Jr.
Douglas: Chris Cooper
KW: Lauren Ambrose

Carol: It's going to be a place where only the things you want to happen, would happen.
Max: We could totally build a place like that!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Supernatural: Season 2

Originally uploaded by LostMyHeadache
Season 2 of Supernatural involves the Winchester brothers dealing with the stark reality of facing hunting after the death of their father, the man that pushed them into this life path. As if that tragedy weren’t enough John left Dean with instructions to beware of Sam – the yellow eyed demon has plans for Sam and all the children like him with psychic abilities. As Sam & Dean deal with Sam’s ever growing abilities they discover kids all across the nation that are developing powers like Sam and it becomes more and more important for them to get the Colt back and kill the yellow eyed demon before he can bring his master plan to fruition.

This season of the show is absolutely pivotal in the evolution of the next seasons of Supernatural, it sets up the way the Winchester’s deal with death, Sam’s slow descent into darkness, Dean’s aggravation with the world he was forced into & the coming demon war that completely overtakes the next three seasons of the show. This is a show that has taken time and much effort to logically place all of the characters and plot lines into a radically ordered sequence so tightly wound that if one even were changed the entire series would come crumbling down. I give Kripke all kinds of kudos for giving us a show this complex and entertaining.

I have to say that as much as I love every character on this show Dean Winchester is one of my absolute favorite characters in the history of television. He is a completely rounded, quick thinking, womanizing, funny and unique character – the character that hits first and asks questions later is something that very few writers develop much but Dean is an exception to that rule. Also, if I’m being honest he’s the old school, macho man most women do secretly have a fantasy about, so that doesn’t hurt my appreciation of Dean either.

The character season 2 really brings into the foray is Bobby, something I am incredibly thankful for. Bobby is an old family friend and veteran hunter who becomes the surrogate father to Sam & Dean after John’s death. Not only does Bobby kick demon butt, but he has some of the best placed one-liners in the show and always manages to come through with the solution the Winchester boys have never heard of.

What is most surprising about Supernatural is actually the sense of humor that runs through the show. This is a show that is populated with a sense of humor without abusing it, they know they are a horror show (as their name would imply) but they have developed a style of their own that lets them work wit and comedy into their characters without compromising the overall flow or concept of each episode and season. That is an act that should be commended.

I had never seen most of season 2 until I broke out my DVD’s and I am very glad I did. I was not fully aware how much season 2 played into the rest of the show until I finished the last episode.

Creator: Eric Kripke
Dean Winchester: Jensen Ackles
Sam Winchester: Jared Padalecki
Bobby: Jim Beaver

Dean: Croatoan?
Sam: Yeah. Roanoke... lost colony... ring a bell? Dean, did you pay any attention in history class?
Dean: Yeah. Shot heard 'round the world, how bills become laws...
Sam: That's not school; that's schoolhouse rock!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat is the story of a group of friends that go to an exotic island resort in the hopes of a dream vacation and to help their friends considering a divorce only to find out that the resort is also a heavy duty couples counseling center – and the counseling is not optional. Each of the four couples undergo counseling and discover a whole host of issues they didn’t know they had in this Mars vs. Venus comedy.

While I enjoyed Couples Retreat like I’ve enjoyed any joint venture between Jon Favreau & Vince Vaughn, I can’t quite say the film was cohesive. The movie isn’t as funny as the trailer leads you to believe, but isn’t bad as you might assume it would be; it’s a little clichéd and predictable at times, but altogether entertaining – something that I mainly pin on the sense of humor that radiates off the screen from almost all the actors.

What I really enjoyed about Couples Retreat was as always the partnering between Favreau & Vaughn, and I found the introduction of Jason Bateman to the mix fit well. These are actors that know comedy and know how to find the quirky or comedic beat in a moment. This is the men from Swingers if they managed to grow up and have kids outside of the LA scene, and seeing that is kind of enjoyable in a very unique way.

The one large downside to me was the character Faizon Love played; I’m not talking negatively against Love himself or his performance but how he actually appeared in the movie. For most of the scenes, including some major ones Love’s character is simply not there; either he was cut out as much as possible in editing and reshoots based on studio notes, or Love for whatever reason was not on set nearly as much as everyone else and they shot around him. The problem is that this leaves the audience feeling like his character was included for ethnic variety and that his character and conflict is never actually developed past being the sad divorcee.

Couples Retreat is a good movie and a fun watch. If you’re looking for a laugh not based on gross outs or jokes involving bodily fluids I highly recommend it – this film actually derives it’s comedy form pretty real to life situations which is kind of refreshing.

Director: Peter Billingsley
Writers: Job Favreau, Vince Vaughn & Dana Fox
Dave: Vince Vaughn
Jason: Jason Bateman
Shane: Faizon Love
Joey: Jon Favreau
Ronnie: Malin Akerman
Cynthia: Kristen Bell
Lucy: Kristin Davis

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

Tom Hanniger has just inherited his fathers mines, the life blood of his small town, the town he abandoned after being blamed for a mine collapse and surviving the following brutal Valentine’s Day murders committed by one of the miners that survived the accident. Ten uneventful years have passed since the tragedy and Tom is ready to sell the mines, until attacks start occurring again and the townsfolk are torn over the identity of the killer – is the original miner dead and someone else is taking on his mantle or did he manage to survive in the mines all these years?

My Bloody Valentine is a remake of a cheesy 1980’s slasher film and all I really know this new version of the flick added was the 3D gimmick; that being said, I am kind of sad I didn’t get to see this film in 3D. Just watching on DVD in 2D I could tell that Patrick Lussier used every trick in his tool shed to make this film pop in 3D, sure he used the clichés of things swinging at the camera, but he used a lot more than that which probably made the film fun to watch in 3D. The DVD does come with 3D glasses & the ability to watch the film in 3D but I don’t think home video has been able to replicate the 3D available in the cinema. I could do without the naked scene and eyeball pop in 3D though, those are just bad.

All kidding aside this is still a movie I can’t decide if I liked or not. It’s not a bad movie, it’s somewhat entertaining to watch, but there are definite things wrong with the movie and definite things that work and are interesting to watch – it’s like the film was half well directed, and half lazy because it’s a remake. It’s a strange combination I’m not sure I’ve really seen before.

Let me first say that the women in this film are some of the stupidest I’ve seen in film in a long time, and I’m sorry to say they really were chosen for their looks not their acting ability. Not only did their performances feel forced, but they did the horrible things like chase after the killer down a dark alley and search abandoned buildings on their own with full knowledge that there was a killer at large.

I also have to say that this script was really loose. Even if you are stuck within the confines of a previous work a good writer can manage to spice up even a dead end story with a bit of character development, or at least making the twist ending a little less absurd – but none of that was done in this film. In fact, you spend most of the film thinking that Tom Hanniger is the main character only to realize about three-quarters of the way through that his ex-girlfriend Sarah actually is. This is a problem because you can’t empathize with her, as an audience you haven’t really been paying attention to her, you’ve been paying attention to her husband the sheriff and Tom – of course even those two you don’t really connect with.

As I began to state previously what really did work in My Bloody Valentine was the visuals. Patrick Lussier really make a pretty rich looking film for what this movie should be, a 3D gimmick. He took time to make otherwise uninteresting shots energetic by adding movement and depth to them, helicopter shots were used frequently in this film. There is also a bit of editing at the end that is just brilliant, as the killer walks through the mines smashing light bulbs every time a light pops the image changes between the killer and the killer fully dressed in his typical garb.

What I can genuinely complain about in this movie was the ending. Most horror films are made great or horrible based on their ending, and in most cases this is the final reveal of the killer. One of the worst final reveals I’ve ever seen was in the French horror flick High Tension. it made the entire rest of the film impossible. The ending to My Bloody Valentine isn’t as bad, but it does come out of left field and make you wonder why this character got the lack luster treatment they received most of the movie, the reveal isn’t as good if you don’t care about the character and their relationship with everyone else in the film…and it really shouldn’t leaving you shrugging your shoulders at the reveal.

My Bloody Valentine will probably be a film I’ll watch again. It’s kind of fun, and Jensen Ackles knows how to work a camera, but if I’m being honest the only reason I will watch this film is to test the 3D or ogle Ackles. That man needs to be in more movies, he’s a star waiting to happen.

Director: Patrick Lussier
Writers: Todd Farmer & Zane Smith
Tom Hanniger: Jensen Ackles
Sarah Palmer: Jamie King
<>Axel Palmer: Kerr Smith
Deputy Martin: Edi Gathegi

Ben Foley: Eloquent, Sheriff. You make us look like an inbred mining community.
Axel Palmer: We are an inbred mining community, Ben.

Children of Men

If I made a list of the most perfect films ever made Children of Men would be one of the films on that list. In 2006 I truly believe that the best film of the year was not even nominated for Best Picture.

Forty years into the future a dystrophic society has emerged; Brittan is forcing immigrants out of the borders, distributing suicide kits to the public and insisting that while the rest of the world has fallen apart they are soldiering on. However, the fact that the human race is now infertile is the ticking time bomb weighing on the mind of the global society, unless it can be fixed humanity will just die out with a sigh, and so far no one can do anything about it. After the world’s youngest person dies Theo is approached by his ex-wife to help in getting a young refugee across the border so that she can meet up with the Human Project, a group of scientists that are working against the destruction of society. On the way Theo’s ex is killed and Theo discovers what is truly at stake – Kee, the refugee is pregnant & she needs to get to the Human Project because this baby could save the human race.

Alfonso Cuaron is one of the best directors working today and Children of Men is his masterpiece. There is not a single thing that does not awe me about this movie; the acting, script, camera work, cinematography & even the costuming is brilliant and completely immersive. This is one of the single most impressive films I’ve ever seen. Part of what Cuaron does to draw you as an audience member in is to build organic sequences that can last for 3-5 minutes or longer without a single edit; in a MTV world this is alarmingly subtle because while the shots stand out when noticed they are so expertly done that they draw you in and have so much energy and movement to them most people don’t know there are no edits.

I also have to say that for the first time in watching a movie with Julianne Moore I enjoyed her character and performance, in fact I was actually upset that she wasn’t in the film more. What can I say? I know she’s a good actress, but Jurassic Park 2 rubbed me the wrong way and she’s annoyed me ever since. Julian is a smart, independent, driven character and Moore was the perfect actress for the part.

I want Cuaron to make another feature film, but I don’t know how his next feature can top Children of Men. I truly don’t think anyone but Cuaron could have made this film, and that if even one element had been changed it would not be nearly the film it is. This is a text book example of a perfect film.

Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Writers: Alsono Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
Theo: Clive Owen
Jasper: Michael Caine
Luke: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Julian: Julianne Moore
Kee: Clare-Hope Ashitey

Miriam: As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in. Very odd, what happens in a world without children's voices.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Whip It

Roller Cool
Originally uploaded by jimkirks
Bliss Cavender is living in her mother’s shadow; a senior in high school and clearly not the beauty pageant type she obediently shuffles from pageant to pageant because her mother insists she can learn from it. However, on a trip to Austin Bliss discovers the world of roller derby and decides to try out; before she knows it Bliss is a Hurl Scout and has to lie to her team about her age and telling her parents she is spending her extra time at a SAT class. On the track Bliss and the Hurl Scouts are finally making a name for themselves and getting closer to taking down the Holy Rollers.

I can’t quite tell you how much I loved this movie, the best way I can sum it up is that when the credits rolled I was utterly proud to be a girl. From Bliss to Maggie Mayhem every type of modern woman is represented in Whip It and I think the reason this story is told so well is because it is made by a woman.

Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut with Whip It and I hope she gets a chance for an encore. While Whip It has some flaws in the editing of the action sequences (which are hard even in a seasoned director’s hands), Barrymore proves she truly is the Hollywood sponge that you would think she is. This is a woman whose heritage is movies, from her family to her earliest jobs she had the masters of cinema surrounding her and she paid attention. What is so incredible about Whip It is that the performances are perfectly executed and captured; this is not an Oscar-bait kind of movie but from Daniel Stern to Alia Shawkat, every performance in the film is spot-on and delivered by actors that trusted their director and a director that knew how to get them to the core of their character.

Perhaps I have a soft spot for Barrymore but my single favorite character was Smashley Simpson. It is hard for a long time actor to take the reins as a director and act in their own movie; some overextend themselves and give themselves to big a part. I am glad to say Barrymore didn’t do this. She gave herself a supporting role with Smashley Simpson, the tempestuous team captain of the Hurl Scouts. Smashley is the most memorable character in Whip It, she has the best lines, the most memorable moments and might be my favorite Barrymore character.

Whip It is a movie that won’t have a lot of longevity in terms of box office, but it will grow a following quite steadily, especially on DVD. This is a film with heart, wit, and whimsy. The film is a cult film in the making and makes me want to try my own had at the world of roller derby.

Director: Drew Barrymore
Writer: Shauna Cross
Bliss Cavender: Ellen Page
Pash: Alia Shawkat
Brooke Cavender: Marcia Gay Harden
Shania Cavender: Eulala Scheel
Earl Cavender: Daniel Stern
Johnny Rocket: Jimmy Fallon
Maggie Mayhem: Kristen Wiig
Bloody Holly: Zoe Bell
Smashley Simpson: Drew Barrymore
Razor: Andrew Wilson
Iron Maven: Juliette Lewis

Razor: Yeah, let's celebrate mediocrity! That's fantastic.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


There are not a lot of zombie movies like Zombieland. Zombieland doesn’t try to take zombie lore to a new place, instead it uses the new 28 Days Later style zombie plague and fast moving zombies, but what it does do is play up the comedic side of life in the zombie plague and make the focus one that does not concentrate on the horror of the situation.

I loved the four main characters in this film; all were entertaining and well played. However, I am in love with Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee and Abigail Breslin’s Little Rock. Harrelson was expertly cast as a man-child, complaining, Twinkie-seeking man who finally found his skill in life – zombie killing. Tallahassee is hysterical and surprisingly thought out for a character that should just be quick remarks and brutal attacks. I also think my life may be complete now that I have seen the little girl from Signs as a shotgun wielding tough girl. Breslin is a phenomenal actor, one that I did not realize was already in her teens and I hope that she can transition into an adult star as she goes through these next few years because I think she will be absolutely phenomenal as she gets older and may be another Natalie Portman.

If you haven’t already heard there is a side-splitting cameo in Zombieland. I will not name who it is or who they play in the film but the cameo is one of the funniest scenes in the entire film – and this is a film that had me laughing from the first few frames. You cannot miss this cameo.

The one element that stood out for me in Zombieland as being what I will carry away from the film had to be the rules that Columbus creates for surviving the zombies. We are introduced to rule number one as the film opens – cardio. That’s right, immediately Columbus explains that the fatties died first when the infection hit for obvious reasons – they couldn’t outrun the zombies. Columbus scribbles down all of his rules in a notebook through the film and never shies away from talking about them. The film even pops up the rules as part of the image when it wants to underscore a moment in the film, like when Tallahassee should have followed one of the rules and limbered up before attacking something.

This is a movie that I want to see again. This is a movie that I think I would like even if I didn’t like the zombie sub-genre. If you appreciate well written, well put together comedies I do suggest you see and enjoy Zombieland even if it’s on DVD.

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers: Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick
Columbus: Jesse Eisenberg
Tallahassee: Woody Harrelsom
Wichita: Emma Stone
Little Rock: Abigail Breslin

Columbus: Don't be afraid to use your ammunition, that lady should have, would have, could have, saved herself. Rule number 4: Double Tap.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Y Tu Mama Tambien

Originally uploaded by toothpicklabeling
About to go off to university two teenage boys mourn the loss of their girlfriends to a post-graduation Europe trip and decide to impress the more mature female cousin of one by taking her on a road trip to “Heaven’s Mouth”, a beach several days away. During their journey the men fight over the woman and she manipulates them finally culminating in the carnal distraction she is after due to the dissolving of her marriage.

Y Tu Mama Tambien is a movie I respect because of the skill put into it by director Alfonso Cuaron, but it is not a movie that I can say I enjoy. The subject matter is quite dark and sexually charged, which I understand that Cuaron was making a very real movie about the complexity of betrayal, relationships and life, but I am not someone who will watch a film this heavy over and over. I truly appreciate the genuinely directed and written situations between these three characters, but seeing their journey once was enough for me to absorb it.

What I genuinely loved about Y Tu Mama Tambien was the use of the omniscient narrator; I can’t recall the last film I saw an omniscient narrator in that fit and made sense, but it worked perfectly for Y Tu Mama Tambien. For those who don’t know what an omniscient narrator does is totally different than what a regular narrator does; a traditional narrator will tell you what’s happening now, what our characters are thinking and the standard fare. An omniscient narrator does much more, he is an all seeing film-centric god who can tell you anything from the standard fare, past and future facts or even things seemingly unrelated to the story unfolding on screen. For this film Cuaron has the narrator tell the audience of the past of our characters and begin to tell us the future that lies ahead of them. It’s a fascinating look at how their backgrounds affect their present, and how their present will affect their future.

Y Tu Mama Tambien is the film that launched Cuaron’s career internationally and it’s pretty easy to see why. This is the kind of film that is so well put together it attracts attention from scholars, critics, the industry and film coinsures; it’s a film with a clear message about the fleeting nature of life and that is a message that is universal.

Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Writers: Alfonso & Carlos Cuaron
Tenoch: Diego Luna
Julio: Gael Garcia Bernal

Julio: Truth is cool but unattainable... the truth is totally amazing, but you can't ever reach it.

Coming Soon

I promise to power blog soon...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Supernatural: Season 1

Supernatural has always been a bad show for me to follow, not because the show is bad or written poorly, but because through school, retail jobs and everything else you can think of I was not able to follow the show week to week until season four. To make up for this, as it might be Supernatural’s last season I am watching the first three seasons again on DVD so I can see the episodes I missed, and put the ones I did catch in context.

Season one has a spectacular first episode that perfectly introduces us to Dean & Sam Winchester and their world. Dean & Sam are brothers whose mother was killed by a demon on the night of Sam’s 6 month birthday. Their father John quickly learned evertything he could about the supernatural world and took up the profession of hunter – he took the boys from city to city as he tracked cases and demons trying to help protect inhabitants from the demonic world that actually surrounds them. When season one starts Sam is finishing Standford, about be a law student and propose to his girlfriend after living estranged from Dean and his father for years. All of that changes when Dean shows up at Sam’s door telling him Dad’s been on a hunting trip and hasn’t checked in for a few days. Out of family loyalty Sam leaves his girlfriend Jessica and tries to track down his father with Dean only to uncover that their father is genuinely missing and returns home just in time to see Jessica murdered by the same demon that killed his mother. This even forces Sam out of the “normal” world he’d been living in and back on the road with Dean to track their father and find the demon that killed the women they love.

This is an amazing show, and one of the things I love about it is that it is not episodic, but the show runners include a recap at the beginning of every episode that is used as a opening theme almost. The recap shows you “then” and “now” and gives you the large chunks of info you need if you are just tuning in for the first time or are a long time viewer trying to keep up with a complex, and now, five year plot line.

One of the fantastic things about Supernatural is that while the first few episodes of the show seemed to be monster-of-the-week style, it became quickly apparent that Eric Kripke had a grander scheme in mind for the show and everything was actually carrying on from episode to episode and building towards a grand plot. Season five is bringing up things brought about in season one and as I watched season one I saw things that would be brought back in future seasons to have a grander meaning, one of the biggest is Sam’s abilities and the Colt – a gun that can kill anything.

Perhaps what helps sell this show over and over is the relationship between Sam & Dean and the chemistry between Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. The two characters are so well written as siblings and brothers, and the actors themselves add that extra element of genuineness that makes you really wonder if Jared & Jensen knew each other before the show even started. These characters are written as the most genuinely accurate brothers I’ve ever seen on TV; they interact like my brothers would act – teasing, playing pranks, calling names, and bending over backwards to keep each other safe no matter how annoyed they are.

Supernatural’s first season has a lot in common both in tone and execution with The X-Files and that is not a coincidence. Some of the lead people on the show worked on The X-Files in its prime. This tone didn’t stay much longer after season one as once Kripke realized he would be allowed to have more than one season he did what most show runners do and slowly evolved into a more unique style for his show.

I cannot wait to see where Supernatural goes this season and if Kripke decides he can do a sixth season, but I am really looking forward to catching up on all the DVD’s as quickly as I can.

Creator: Eric Kripke
Dean Winchester: Jensen Ackles
Sam Winchester: Jared Padalecki
Bobby: Jim Beaver
John Winchester: Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Sam: No. No, whatever you wanna say, you can say it in front of her.
Dean: hasn't been home in a few days.
Sam: So he's working overtime on a Miller Time shift. He'll stumble back in sooner or later.
Dean: Dad's on a hunting trip, and he hasn't been home in a few days.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Little Princess

This is not Shirley Temple’s A Little Princess, it’s the classic you know, re-told with a greater sense of fantasy.

Sara Crewe is pulled out of India where her soldier father is stationed and sent to a school for girls in the U.S. while her father helps the British army fight in WWI. After a few months of the dean Miss Minchin spending Sara’s money they are informed Sara’s father was killed in action. Instead of throwing Sara into the street Miss Minchin forces Sara into servitude. What no one knows is that Sara’s father survived but has amnesia and doesn’t know he even has a daughter…

Alfonso Cuaron is one of my favorite directors, and strangely enough this is the movie I discovered him with. I used to work at a video store, and one of the free screeners we received was A Little Princess; I didn’t remember Curaon’s name after watching the film, but I remembered his visuals. A Little Princess is one of the most stunningly visual children’s films I have ever seen. The name didn’t come back to my attention until he was given Prisoner of Azkaban.

No film based around a child character can really work unless you have a compelling child actor; great examples of this are The Phantom Menace & The Sixth Sense - one of those worked and one didn’t…I’ll let you guess which is which. A Little Princess is helmed by a good child actress – Liesel Matthews. Matthews hasn’t done much in the acting world since A Little Princess but I think perhaps that’s because she developed other interests as she grew up.

A Little Princess is not Cuaron’s best film, but now that I’ve seen most of his films I can safely say that Cuaron has not made a bad film.

Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Writers: Richard LaGravenese & Elizabeth Chandler
Sara Crewe: Liesel Matthews
Miss Minchin: Eleanor Bron
Capt. Crewe: Liam Cunningham

Miss Minchin: Don't tell me you still fancy yourself a princess? Child, look around you! Or better yet, look in the mirror.
Sara Crewe: I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren't pretty, or smart, or young. They're still princesses. All of us. Didn't your father ever tell you that? Didn't he?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Ugly Truth

Originally uploaded by RML Library
Mike Chadway has the most offensive public access show in the Sacramento area, on The Ugly Truth he talks about men, and what men want out of women. Enraged one night local morning show producer Abby calls in and gives Chadway a piece of her mind & his highest ratings ever. Abby’s boss hires Chadway to boost their shows ratings. Angry and relationship challenged Abby agrees to a bet with Chadway, he’ll get her doctor crush to date her or he’ll quit.

The Ugly Truth is a romantic comedy in the tradition of great romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally, which is a refreshing tradition after a string of boring, bland romantic comedies pumped out as cheap date movies. Instead, The Ugly Truth actually manages to build character, plot and chemistry while engaging in the formula of “meet cute” and romantic conflict.

What made The Ugly Truth work for me was the character of Mike Chadway, played by Gerard Butler. Chadway is a womanizing, offensive, egotistical, dog of a man but the writer thought enough about the character to make him human and actually give him empathetic characteristics. There is a reason Chadway is the way he acts now, and even better there is a second side to Chadway that is slowly revealed through the movie.

I think The Ugly Truth will play well to audiences of both sexes. Men & women enjoy the chemistry between Chadway & Abby, and the humor is rooted in the battle of the sexes, something that can always manage to appeal.

Director: Robert Luketic
Writers: Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz & Kristen Smith
Abby Richter: Katherine Heigl
Mike Chadway: Gerard Butler
Georgia: Cheryl Hines
Larry: John Michael Higgins
Joy: Bree Turner
Jonah: Noah Matthews
Elizabeth: Bonnie Somerville
Colin: Eric Winter

Abby: I am not desperate! Why, did you think I sounded desperate?
Mike: Listen to you. Desperately asking me if you sounded desperate?

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Little Behind

Arriba el telón
Originally uploaded by laap mx
Anyone who reads this blog consistantly knows there was no way I only watched about 12 movies last month - that's only like 2-3 a week.

If you were thinking that you are right. September was kind of a crazy month for me. I haven't even been able to publish my September feature at Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Film.

This will be corrected soon. I plan on taking advantage of the weekend and power blogging to get it all done.

Stay tuned!