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Showing posts from October, 2009

Review: A Serious Man

Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a Midwestern Professor of mathematics and his life is falling apart.
Larry's daughter is stealing from him in an attempt to pay for a nose job. His brother is developing algorithms to win at gambling, crashing on the couch and has no plans on leaving in the foreseeable future. His son is a pothead, content to listen to Jefferson Airplane and avoid the class bullies. If that weren't enough his wife is leaving him for another professor because he is a more "serious man." Larry's entire life is upended in just the first half hour of the film!
After finding money on his desk left behind by a student, Larry tries to return the money only to find out it was a bribe. With so much bad news surrounding Larry, he is finding it harder to keep his own morality from failing. His growing sexual frustrations are thrown in his face in the form of his attractive neighbor who sunbathes in the nude. For all of his troubles Larry is constantly re…

Review: Gentlemen Broncos

What do you get when you mix a great cast with a poor writer and a director with a tired schtick?

You get Gentlemen Broncos!

Jared Hess was supposed to do a Q&A after the screening I attended, but he didn't come out. He was probably too embarrassed to show up. His comedic direction was very lacklustre. It's a common criticism of his work, but Hess has to learn that you can't base a comedy around laughing at ugly people and people with abnormal voices.

The writing wasn't up to scratch either. It did take the film into some unique and novel directions while exposing the sci-fi world of the protagonist's novel (these interludes were the best part of the film). However, these sci-fi scenes didn't move along the main plot; they were just goofy skits meant only to provide comic relief. This is no way to write a screenplay for a motion picture. Every scene, cut, line and hand gesture must either provide characterization or further the plot.

The script as a whole …

Damon and Brolin Have Grit

Matt Damon and Josh Brolin are joining the Coen's True Grit.

Damon is in talks to play La Boeuf, the Texas Ranger who pairs up with Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and Mattie, the daughter of the gunned down. Brolin will be playing opposite of his good guy character in No Country taking on the role of Tom Chaney, the man who killed Mattie's father.

True Grit is set to be released in late 2010.

'The Third Man' Remake?

According to industry reports Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire might be starring in a remake of the classic film The Third Man, which is reportedly being written by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises).

Of course three major questions come from this: will the film be made as a period piece? will DiCaprio play Lime, or Martins? will one of the most excellent scenes captured on celluloid be re-made?

The Vault: Screwballs (1983)

Screwballs is a hopelessly dated early 80's raunchy comedy, left in the wake of an increasingly liberated society. It no longer qualifies as being raunchy or funny.
The film is about a group of five teenagers who spend their time sexually harassing and sexually assaulting their female peers.
The whole film is an elaborate setup to show boobies. Supposedly it was difficult for teenage boys to find media depicting topless women in the 1980s. In a world where this issue has been thoroughly dealt with, a movie like Screwballs no longer has any purpose.

Review: Bronson

Charles Bronson was originally born Michael Peterson in a small village in Great Britain. After he knocked over a post office, Peterson heads off to prison. This is about where the break between Charles Bronson the man and Charles Bronson the character occurs.

Tom Hardy's Bronson could not be described as anything other than unstable. Whether out of boredom or a thirst for fame, Bronson decides prison is chance at the big time. A few thousand years ago, Charles Bronson would have felt more than comfortable in a gladiatorial contest. Beating man after man down for the sheer thrill of the audience. There is nothing equatable to that in the modern world.

Nicolas Winding Refn protagonists (and I use that term very loosely) are not from a practiced reality. They are unconventional and often hard to connect with. Bronson fits that template to the T. This is a man who at spontaneous intervals decides to strip down and take on entire staffs of prison guards. His definition of armor: blac…

The Vault: American Hardcore (2006)

American Hardcore kicks off with an excellent quote about the rebellion that impelled the American hardcore punk scene in the late 70s and early 80s. To paraphrase, they were rebelling against the 1950s fantasy that was popular in the 1980s; they were rebelling against the backlash against the various civil rights movements of the time. The backlash culminated in the election of Ronald Reagan and the corresponding cultural change that still resonates today, nearly 30 years later.
Protest against regressive horseshit is fantastic, and should be encouraged.
By tapping into the anger caused by a society trying to maintain its own inequality, these musicians created an energetic, fast-paced genre spun off from the original punk movement. Songs were typically performed by people with very little musical talent, so the music had a very raw sound. Hardcore punk is more an outlet for emotion than an expression of art.
Unfortunately this limited sound produces a very repetitive style; most of …

Review: Where the Wild Things Are

When I say the name Spike Jonze, the first thing that comes to the minds of most moviegoers is Being John Malkovich, his elaborate music video career, or Adaptation. What doesn't pop up are childhood works of fiction, especially not Maurice Sendak's classic Where the Wild Things Are.
Where the Wild Things Are is not a lengthy book by any means, 48 pages long, so the question was how Spike Jonze would manage to string together enough material for a film to be worthwhile. Yet succeed Jonze did and provided cinemas this week with probably the best film about childhood that isn't for children.

Max Records stars as the boisterous Max, left understandably angry after his parents divorce and at odds with the world. His mother (Catherine Keener) has been paying a little too much attention to her new boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo) instead of him, and it is driving him mad. Max throws a temper tantrum and storms out of the house and out into the night. As the trees blur behind him, Max ta…

'Fight Club' is 10 Today

Still the best movie of 1999 in my opinion regardless of what the Academy thought. With the cult following it's developed and people introduced to it everyday and a Blu-ray release coming soon Fight Club will probably still be talked about when I'm 50 years old.

The Vault: Moving (1988)

There was a time when Richard Pryor was considered to be one of the funniest comedic lead actors of the day. This time is known as "the 1980s."
Not being old enough to remember most aspects of the 80s has its charms, but I would like to know more about the public's perception of Richard Pryor as a comedian at the time. His movies are, in hindsight at least, generally run-of-the-mill fare. They are often funny, but usually not hilarious, and rarely push any boundaries or comment on any issues. People probably appreciated him mostly for his stand-up comedy, like Susan Sarandon and Wil Wheaton do.
In 1988, Pryor starred as Arlo Pear in Moving, a film with as self-descriptive a name as I've ever seen.
The movie adheres to a well-worn comedic formula: illustrate the comedic pratfalls of broadly relatable occurrences. There are a few funny scenes and gags, but nothing here is ground-breaking. It's not that there's anything wrong with a mildly enjoyable formulaic f…

The Box Poster

It bears mentioning that the story Matheson wrote was all of 12 pages long and almost three quarters of the film is from Richard Kelly. This is the same man who helmed the beloved Donnie Darko and the much maligned Southland Tales, so flip a coin when deciding to see this one.

The Vault: Irreversible (2002)

"Time destroys all things," and in the case of Monica Bellucci's character Alex in Irreversible there could be no other truth. Probably the most harrowing portrayal of how beauty is destroyed by human depravity.
Gaspar Noe uses some of the most innovative camera techniques to mirror the frenzied state of Alex's boyfriend Marcus (Vincent Cassel) and her former lover Pierre (Albert Dupontel) as they attempt to find the man who raped and beat Alex into a coma. Once finding out La Tenia, the man who raped Alex, is a frequent customer at the local gay bar, not far from the crime scene, things spiral out of control.
Despite Pierre's constant pleas to just let the police handle the matter Marcus barges into the club demanding to know where La Tenia is. After harassing several clubmembers he finally fingers who he thinks is La Tenia and proceeds to smash a bottle against his head. The man is tougher than Marcus though and breaks his arm, once pinned on the ground while …

Kevin Smith's Done With Slackers

While talking to the Huffington Post director Kevin Smith revealed that he had an epiphany following Zack and Miri's box-office failure,

"It's sad when you realize you can't be the angry young man anymore. The angry young man is barely ever interesting, and tolerable in his 20s. But his late 20s? Early 30s? God forbid late 30s? You can't anymore. I'm in a business where I get to make pretend for a living, so what the fuck am I angry about? There's nothing anymore; I'm a very content, middle aged man," Smith said. "People are like 'Ah when are Jay and Silent Bob coming back?' And I'm like 'I don't think they are. I'm fuckin' 39! I can't just put my fuckin' hat on backwards."
His next film is A Couple of Dicks starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as buddies who have been on the force for years. That's sad to hear that Smith is done with slacker films after he's made classics like Clerks, Mallra…

The Vault: Secrecy (2008)

Secrecy follows the creation and abuses of the American Government Secrets.
Secrecy is often necessary for national security, but also often unnecessary and sometimes detrimental. Secrecy is often abused to cover-up injustices.
Secrecy is a riveting and informative documentary. It makes a compelling argument that secrecy is another form of power that governments accumulate solely for their own empowerment. It reminiscent of the retort George Mallory gave when asked why he scaled Everest: "Because it was there." This isn't a conspiracy theory film — it's just good citizenship in action. Questioning the unjust machinations of the government is the duty of every citizen; you are not just standing up for the abused, but also for yourself and the safe foundation of citizenship.
Secrecy is the only documentary film I've seen that used modern art installations to illustrate the narrative. This is a much more visually stimulating technique than the History Channel's st…

Review: Zombieland

Zombieland takes place in the near-future where the United States no longer exists and regular people are the minority. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a loner and the last surviving member from his college in Austin, has managed to stay alive according to his notebook of rules.

The rules in question: avoid bathrooms, always use the double-tap when putting down a zombie, and wear seat-belts. Heading home to find his parents in Ohio Columbus meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) a gun-toting, zombie killing aficionado who is seeking the last batch of Twinkies—yes, believe it or not, Twinkies expire.

Along the way they run into Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) who subsequently hijack the duo and leave them stranded outside of a convenience store. They meet again and bond after conversations regarding Willie Nelson, Hannah Montana and other icons. Hearing that the West Coast could be zombie-free, they head to sunny California.
The gore and zombies in Zombieland are played…

Review: Invention of Lying

Invention of Lying has an excellent premise and an ace funny man to deliver on it in Ricky Gervais so why the low score on Rotten Tomatoes (a site I find decreasing in value every day)? The fact that Lying isn't a strict comedy probably did it in for a lot of people expecting this to be a full-on comedy that instead aims more for your head than your gut.
Mark Bellison (Gervais) is a struggling writer for a movie company and is on the verge of being fired tomorrow virtually everyday. But life is looking up for him through a favor acquired through a mutual friend Mark scores a date with Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner). Although there is a spark Mark is not a capable genetic match for Anna and her hopes for attractive children. After finally being fired the next day, Mark faces eviction and heads to the bank to withdrawal all of his savings. There, to his astonishment, he creates the world's first lie, and extracts far more money from the bank than he has.
With his newfound lyin…

Vault: The Hospital (1971)

It is all rubbish isn't it. I mean... transplants, anti-bodies, we can produce birth ectogenetically, we can clone people like carrots, and half the kids in this ghetto haven't been inoculated for polio. We have established an enormous medical entity and we're sicker than ever. We cure nothing! We heal, nothing! The whole goddamn wretched world, strangulating in front of our eyes.
Contrasting the burning desire for a doctor to do good while working against a thoroughly broken system, The Hospital is a deeply affecting look at modern health-care. The film calls out the evils of for-profit care, wide-scale indifference and ineptitude, profiteering doctors and a health-care establishment that is at odds with what is best for its community. The titular hospital represents all that is right and all that is wrong with the American health care system: there is a stunning contrast between what is possible and what actually happens, a contrast between the incredibly advanced care t…

Coming Soon: Iron Man 2

It looks like Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has taken the publically known superhero thing a little too comfortably. Catching some late breakfast grub at a donut shop in the middle of the day seems like a poor choice. Which is probably why Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) will able to attack him so easily.
The scene pictured is at the beginning of the comic-con footage that was deleted nearly everywhere online. Nick Fury(Samuel L. Jackson) head of S.H.I.E.L.D. meets Stark at a restaurant to discuss his appreciated, but sometimes reckless heroics.
Iron Man 2 hits theatres May 4th, 2010

Top "Ghost" Movies

The best movies whose title begins with the word "Ghost" are, in order:
GhostbustersGhost Dog: The Way of the SamuraiGhost TownGhostGhost in the ShellGhosts of MarsGhost RiderGhost Dad
These are just the "Ghost" movies that I've seen that which I can name off the top of my head. I may have missed something good. Some I haven't seen include Ghost Ship, Ghosts of Girlfriends Pastand Ghosts of the Abyss.

The Vault: Road House (1989)

During the first hour and twenty minutes of watching Roadhouse, I kept thinking "This movie is so dated. He's (Sam Elliot) not fucking anybody up; if this were made today, he'd be fucking these guys up." But then it happened. I was simultaneously aghast and amazed. "Porter (Patrick Swayze) has nothing on this guy," I mused, "nothing at all."