Thursday, January 27, 2011


It’s been no secret that I disliked the other Twilight films, so you might ask why I decided to Netflix Eclipse. I have a two word answer for you: David Slade. That’s right, somehow the Twilight franchise stumbled upon a director who has genuine style and the ability to create character and tension. I am still in shock that the director of Hard Candy was attracted to this franchise.

That being said, I still didn’t like Eclipse. It’s much better in terms of visuals, and acting but…the lead characters are still weak and aimless – the plot is lacking. Bella’s decisions, and the drama of this supernatural world just seem petty in comparison to the worlds of True Blood, Supernatural, or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Unless you’re a Twi-hard, I recommend staying away from this film.

Director: David Slade

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The King's Speech

The King's Speech
Originally uploaded by Naír la jefa
I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about British history. I guess I have a good excuse for it as I’m a citizen of a country that revolted from British control and won. However, because of my father’s obsession with WWII I have a more than healthy knowledge of the war and rather enjoy movies about it.

Set as England was on the verge of entering the second world war, The King’s Speech follows the man that will eventually become King George VI as his brother is made king, knowing that his brother may be forced off the throne and he would be the next in line. Known as Bertie to his family, the prince has no interest in becoming king, but also knows that he may not have a way to avoid it and since the “wireless” has changed how the monarchy must interact with the people Bertie is forced into constant speech therapy to attempt to lose his stammer. However, as he walks out on lesson after lesson, Bertie finally ends up with an unconventional speech therapist in Lionel Logue.

I did not expect to love this movie, but I did. From the direction and cinematography to the two leads I found it absolutely flawless. Geoffrey Rush & Colin Firth are perfect and I am glad that Firth is finally getting some acting love after his work the past few years. I also quite enjoyed how the camera angles and shots would get tighter and more exaggerated as Bertie’s tension level would raise – its’ a bit stylized but truly adds to the feel of the film and Bertie’s emotional state.

This film just won the PGA award, and while I’m not sure that will garner it Best Picture at the Oscars this year, I do think it speaks very well of the diversity of films released this year. I’ve never seen another WWII film take quite the angle that The King’s Speech Does, and the only other film I can think of that takes a raw look inside the monarchy is The Queen - it could be my love of Firth or WWII history, but I rather think that The King’s Speech will remain much more relevant to audiences than The Queen.

Director: Tom Hooper

Elizabeth: My husband's work involves a great deal of public speaking.
Lionel: Then he should change jobs.
Elizabeth: He can't.
Lionel: What is he, an indentured servant?
Elizabeth: Something like that

The Kids Are All Right

Nic & Jules are a same sex couple whose teenage children Joni and Laser throw a wrench in the family dynamic by deciding to contact the sperm downer who is their biological father, Paul. What no one expects is how attached the children become to Paul, or how opposite the reactions of Nic & Jules will be. Jules bonds with Paul while Nic sees him as a danger to the family. What should be a calm and wonderful transition before Joni leaves for college turns into a tumultuous summer as teenage rebellion and marital problems rise to the surface.

If all melodrama were as interesting and well made as The Kids Are All Right I don’t think I’d have the involuntary habit of rolling my eyes when the term melodrama is used. This film is a drama, one that at first glance may seem that the entire gimmick or buzz around the film lies in the fact that it is about a same sex family; however, in the long run The Kids Are All Right doesn’t rely on the fact that Laser & Joni refer to their parents as “Moms” or anything having to do with the sex of their parents, it has to do with a family that has to embrace difficulty, evolution of their family unit and ultimately change they can’t avoid. These are the things we encounter in every day existence with our families, just more beautifully told by Lisa Cholodenko.

While all of the performances in Kids shine, Annette Benning stands out as she always does. Nic is closed off, distracted and afraid of losing her family and Benning plays her as if it were completely natural and unforced. She is a master at what she does. The entire cast is phenomenal as well, folding together in a genuine feeling, contemporary family unit.

I’ve never seen any of Choldenko’s previous work, but I have to say after Kids I am interested in seeing more. This film was handled with such a delicate touch that it makes the lives of Nic & Jules seem so real that it feels like we’re voyeurs looking in on their life. I do think this film deserved the Oscar nominations it received.

Director: Lisa Choldenko

Jules: ...marriage is hard... Just two people slogging through the shit, year after year, getting older, changing. It's a fucking marathon, okay? So, sometimes, you know, you're together for so long, that you just... You stop seeing the other person. You just see weird projections of your own junk. Instead of talking to each other, you go off the rails and act grubby and make stupid choices...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Paranoid Pictures
Originally uploaded by Peter Gasston
Exit Through The Gift Shop has been described as a street art disaster movie, something I didn’t understand until I watched it. I was under the common misconception that Exit was about Banksy. Now that I’ve seen the film I completely agree with calling it a disaster film.

More than just being a cut and dry documentary, Exit is at first a tale of a man (Thierry) who finds and falls in love with street art and falls so hard for it he decides to do a documentary on it. However, Thierry’s documentary is so incoherent that his friend Banksy convinces him to drop the camera and attempt making street art himself – something all of the street artists later regret as he becomes Mr. Brainwash – in essence a street art sell-out.

What I question about Exit Through the Gift Shop, and not in a way that should imply I didn’t love this movie, is how much of the end is real or if it was staged. The entire theme of the film is about how the pure form of street art was corrupted and commercialized over time, and Mr. Brainwash fits that so perfectly it makes me wonder if he was either invented or exaggerated for the sake of the film. Granted, my entire education in street art comes from this film and a Banksy blog so I have no authority when questioning this, but it seems to be so perfect that it makes the writer in me wonder.

Whether Mr. Brainwash is fact or fiction, I know one thing – this film deserved it’s Oscar nomination.

Banksy: Uhmmm... You know... it was at that point that I realized that maybe Thierry wasn't actually a film maker, and he was maybe just someone with mental problems who happened to have a camera.

Monday, January 24, 2011


If I could only choose one movie to take away from 2011 Inception would be the clear winner. It’s not often that I watch a movie that fulfills me 100% creatively, artistically and as an audience member but with Inception Christopher Nolan did all of that for me.

I am a Christopher Nolan junkie. Now and forevermore, I will see any movie he makes. I can’t think of a bad one in the lot, and in fact with each film I think he improves - and since square one he’s been amazing. I’ve said it before, but if I could apprentice to any director working today I would want to apprentice to Christopher Nolan. I can’t think of any contemporary director that can pull of the perfect mesh of creativity and box office appeal - a mix that would make any studio salivate at the thought of making your movie.

Inception is a movie that makes me want to make movies. That is a powerful thing, and something I am incredibly grateful for.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Hangover

The Hangover does not lose it’s funny factor the more I see it. I still love this movie. It’s kind of amazing, and frankly, I can’t wait to see the followup. What was quite enjoyable about watching it this time was that I watched it with someone who’s never seen it before. She loved it too.

Phil Wenneck: Would you please put some pants on? I feel weird having to ask you twice.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Going the Distance

Going the Distance had me at the trailer. I first saw the trailer before Sex & the City 2 and myself, and the entire audience were laughing so hard (and long) that we missed the opening credits - not that seeing the credits would have made SitC2 any better. However, I didn’t get to see Going the Distance in the theatre, I had to wait for netflix.

Erin is a grad student majoring in journalism and working at a summer internship in NYC when she meets Garrett at a bar the night he breaks up with his girlfriend. The two go in their relationship with a devil may care attitude knowing that Erin leave for California in a few weeks and that they don’t want anything serious - that is until they fall for each other. In a desperate move not to end the best relationship they’ve ever had Garrett and Erin decide to be long distance and make their bi-costal relationship work. What neither of them expects is for the job market to be as big an issue to them as the distance and their friends and family to be able to interfere so much.

I know I am a Barrymore fan, but I downright loved this movie. While it doesn’t reach When Harry Met Sally greatness, this is a romantic comedy that doesn’t try to be typical - it decides to populate itself with great characters, and genuinely funny actors to create a real comedy that just happens to be romantic.

Bottom line is if you’re looking for a fun romantic comedy to netflix this Valentine’s Day, I think this is the movie for you.

Director: Nanette Burstein

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Fighter

The fighter
Originally uploaded by Naír la jefa
The Fighter isn’t just a boxing movie, it’s a story about two brothers. These two brothers love each other but their relationship is weighted and tainted by older brother Dickey’s past fame. The problem is Dickey lost his chance, and Micky can’t get out from Dickey’s shadow long enough for anyone to see his merit.

I saw this movie the morning of the Golden Globes, and I have to say I’m glad I did as it made my enjoyment of Christian Bale’s win even better. Bale disappears into every role he takes on, and has probably deserves accolades before, but I am glad he’s getting recognized for Dickey. However, no one in this cast is a slouch. From Melissa Leo to Mark Wahlberg the entire cast delivers.

This film will probably be up for many accolades this awards season and I’m excited to see where it goes.

Director: David O. Russell

Mickey Ward: I'm the one who's fighting. Not you, not you, and not you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

True Grit

This is not John Wayne’s Rooster. True Grit is a film that is completely Coen. This is the reason that films get made. It is a pristine example of all that is wonderful and inspiring with the art and craft of film.

Like I said, this is not a John Wayne movie; though both of the True Grit films are based off the same source material the Coen’s version is like a rouge wave washing away the softer edges and homey feel of the classic. This film is rough, gritty, dirty and tough – much like what I imagine the reality of that day was. Mattie Ross is determined to get justice for the death of her father, and Rooster is the tool that she uses. It’s a wild world, and definitely not a safe one.

Unlike the original, in this film Mattie Ross is played at her true age – 14. Taking the mantle this time is newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, and I have to say the power of this performance reminds me very much of Anna Paquin’s burst into the acting scene with The Piano. For such a young talent, the maturity of her skill is evident and startling. Steinfeld holds her own against Damon, Brolin & Bridges, usually stealing the scene and is undoubtedly the most memorable character in the film.

If I had a vote in the Oscar nominations I’d throw my hat in for Jeff Bridges again. I know he won last year for a fantastic performance in Crazy Heart but I have to say that his turn as Rooster Cogburn is one of my favorite performances of the year. This Cogburn is rough, anti-social and has a wicked sense of humor. Bridges & the Coen’s bring out the changes in Cogburn very subtly as he goes from grumpy old marshall who cares about no one, to the man willing to risk anything to help Mattie.

There’s really nothing I didn’t like about this movie. With every Coen film that comes out I can see their talent growing – something that shouldn’t be possible for two people that are already some of the finest artists working today. True Grit is a masterpiece.

Directors: The Brothers Coen

Mattie Ross: You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I praise this movie a lot. Seriously, I love it. I would have loved to be at Sundance and have seen this movie with the first audience. I am sure it rocked some worlds. This is the kind of movie that is so powerful the first time you watch it that you just don’t have the words for a little while after the credits roll, and I do know that, because the first time I watched those credits roll by I remember being glued to my seat in awe of what had just passed.

Part of why this film has such power for me is because it’s the kind of film that I want to make. Not just because it’s a noir, but because it takes something familiar and flips it on it’s head a bit. It changes things. It has the mark of people who love the craft and a director with a very clear style and vision.

I’m still hoping that someday someone will be saying that about a film of mine.

Brendan: No, bulls would gum it. They'd flash their dusty standards at the wide-eyes and probably find some yegg to pin, probably even the right one. But they'd trample the real tracks and scare the real players back into their holes, and if we're doing this I want the whole story. No cops, not for a bit.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep was my first Raymond Chandler book and it’s a pretty amazing one at that. Chandler has a voice that captivates you and I can understand why his first novel was made into a film with none other than the enigmatic Humphrey Bogart playing Marlowe.

While I knew The Big Sleep was going to be a difficult adaptation because of the time in which it was made, I do have to say that the film was slightly dampened for me because I felt like I could see the censorship board all over it. Bogart was great as Marlowe, and Bacall was ravishing as his clients daughter, but there was too much changed from the book and the bite was taken out. An audience in 1946 may not have known the difference as very few hard hitting films were around in that day, but I can tell you that I’ve seen enough hard edged noirs in my time that I wanted the edge there.

One of the biggest changes script to screen was in Bacall’s character, Vivian Rutledge. In the book Vivian flirts with Marlowe, but is a scandalous spoiled woman, several times divorced and married to the man Marlowe is helping to hunt down. In the film Vivian is single and shares much screen time with Marlowe – not that I could blame the studio for making Bogey and Bacall an onscreen pair, the duo had so much onscreen chemistry a blind man could see it.

All in all, The Big Sleep is an enjoyable noir, but very ripe for a faithful-to-the-book remake.

Director: Howard Hawks

Vivian: You go too far, Marlowe.
Marlowe: Those are harsh words to throw at a man, especially when he's walking out of your bedroom.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas Vacation

And so the holidays rolled around again and I had to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. While this movie may have lost a little of it’s magic for me over time, there is still nothing like watching the Griswald’s attempt to have an old fashioned family Christmas. I do think this is a Christmas classic the likes of the claymation Rudolph videos and frosty cartoons.

Clark: Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.