Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Lookout

In The Lookout, a young man suffers a brain injury in a car accident, and must relearn how to cope with everyday life. From the very basic elements of independence, to acceptance by peers that he really doesn't remember. Part of this acceptance takes an ugly turn when he is told he'll be part of a bank robbery. Well structured, this is not only a good heist film, but an excellent, character-driven, drama. The writing and acting are top-notch.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish play junkies in love in the film Candy. Well written, acted and shot, this love story is overshadowed and driven by their heroin addiction. Surprisingly poetic, though the drug is so cruel, the characters are endearing. Cornish plays Candy with an energy surprising to this subject. Desperate and fragile, they follow thier love, but the drug takes it's toll. Another outstanding performance from Ledger.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

From Russia With Love

In the second Bond film, From Russia With Love, 007 dodges murder to get his hands on a Russian encryption device. Assassins are no match for the super spy as he allies with a beautiful woman to save the free world. I liked the sequence on a train, complete with secret knocks, and a variety of perils.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Variety of Pursuits in DVD

In DVD this week we see all kinds of folks looking for something ......

The only pregnant woman in the world is pursued in Children of Men, awesome film!

Pursuit of acceptance is the theme in Happy Feet.

Pursuit of Happyness ..... well .... OK, this is about the pursuit of success (aka happiness)

And finally, the pursuit of love, and it ain't easy in Curse of the Golden Flower.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Last Mimzy

The fantasy element of The Last Mimzy was lost on me. I'm either too old, too cynical or both. Throughout the film, I kept thinking "get to the point". The theory of time travel has always bothered me, so I'm not a good judge here. The kids around me in the theater seemed to enjoy this story about a brother and sister who find things on the beach that are from the future. These things have been sent to send a message to preserve humanity. The Last Mimzy is in search of a pure heart, to extend the message of hope for the future. The best part of the film is the portrayal of wonder in the children and confusion in the adults.


In Shooter, Mark Wahlberg plays an ex-marine sharp shooter, who was done wrong on a mission in Ethiopia. His spotter is killed, he retires and withdraws from the world. Three years later he is approached to "help" save the President. I love the line "I don't like this President, and didn't much like the one before him".... here, here. Anyway, appears he's been had, and the route of chase and revenge are the bulk of the film. An OK action thriller, though the plot becomes very contrived. Eye popping pyrotechnics and Wahlberg's physique are the most redeeming qualities of this movie.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Host

Do the words Korean monster movie send you running to the theater? Me neither........ I needed the recommendation of one of my favorite film critics, Mike Russell, to get me to see The Host. Thanks Mike! In the year 2000, toxic chemicals are disposed of in Seoul's Han River. In 2006, a mutated fish, terrorizes the people of that city looking for lunch. The fish is one great movie monster! A young girl is captured by the monster, and her dim-witted father gets a call on his cell phone that tells him she's still alive. The government doesn't believe him, so her bumbling family sets out to rescue her. The political satire is excellent, this film is often funny. Every shot is a work of art, and rich with detail. The special effects are great! This film goes on my list of all time favorites, well done!

Reign Over Me

Grief, friendship, loss, coping, understanding and family are all subjects in Reign Over Me. A powerful post 9/11 drama, that addresses the emotions of the survivors. There have been a handful of sensitive films on this subject. The Guys, The 25th Hour, The Great New Wonderful, United 93 and World Trade Center among them. A man loses his family on one of the planes on 9/11. He withdraws from his career as a successful dentist, and escapes to old music, video games and rides through the city of New York on a motorized scooter. His college roommate spots him on the street one day, and chases him down. The man claims no memory of college or his family but the old roommate draws him out. This movie has a lot of heart, and is an excellent examination of grief.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Come Early Morning

In Come Early Morning, a young woman tries to come to peace with her life and herself. She is desperate for love, and actively pursues the attention and approval of her emotionally distant father. By day, she is productive and valued at her job, yet spends her evenings prowling the local bars and going home with whatever man pays attention to her. The relationships in her life are interesting. A supportive house-mate, she's close to her grandparents (Nana is played by my pal Diane Ladd) and actually takes a shot at a relationship with a decent man. A solid drama I enjoyed.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Live Free or Die

ThinkFilm sponsored a screening of Live Free or Die in Providence tonight. This film was screened at the Newport Film Festival this summer, but I didn't get a chance to see it, so I jumped at the chance to see it before it goes into distribution. One of the writer/directors, Andy Robin, gave a little intro before the film. He and Gregg Kavet were writers on Seinfeld for about 6 years, and this film was a stab at another sitcom. Instead, it became a movie. This is an off-beat comedy that plays off the humor of dim-wits and reaction to misinformation. It's a little slow, but has it's moments, some damn funny. The distribution strategy is interesting. The film was made in New Hampshire, so they're doing the limited release in New England, then wide. Who needs New York and LA??

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pirates in a Trailer

I usually don't get geeked out about trailers, but they ran the trailer for the new installment of Pirates of the Caribbean on TV last night, and it looks amazing!! They just keep crankin' up the visuals, and layin' on the drama .... and then there are the snarky remarks! I was pretty excited when the last scene of Dead Man's Chest set us up for At World's End .... can't wait for May 25th to see the gang in action again!!!

Stories with Heart in DVD

In Blood Diamond, a mercinary helps a man regain his family in exchange for a valuable stone. The Nativity Story, well, you know .... Rocky Balboa, again ..... well, you know..... Good rentals this week.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Wind that Shakes the Barley

War is a popular topic for films. In The Wind that Shakes the Barley, we see the clash between Irish rebels and the British army in the years following WW I. It is emotional, violent and loud. A rag tag group of Irish rebels stand up to the British army with a lot of shouting and shooting. Two brothers end up on opposite ends of the conflict. Cillian Murphy turns in another wonderful performance, with a great cast. Beautifully shot, this film is a good portrayal of the passions of war.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I Think I Love My Wife

I Think I Love My Wife is an interesting look at marriage, infidelity and male / female friendships. A remake of the French film, Chloe in the Afternoon, this modern adaptation says Chris Rock all over. His use of humor, race, language, sex and parody are effective. At times, it seemed like I was seeing Rock's stand-up, played out in the scenes of the film. I was very entertained.


I respect Sandra Bullock's choice of film projects, so went to see Premonition. A little misnamed, this film, for me, was more about how the brain deals with devastating tragedy and guilt. An OK time-fold film that bounces around between reality, and the mind of a woman whose husband is killed in a horrific car accident.

Dr. No

Dr. No is the first Bond film in the famous Eon series. Sean Connery establishes Ian Flemming's Bond as dashing, debonair, tough and sexy. Dr. No is a crazy scientist, with a flame-throwing dragon truck, messing with NASA rocket launches. This is also the film that establishes the "Bond girls", as Ursula Andress makes her iconic entrance from the sea, as the shell collecting Honey Ryder.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Holiday

One would think that the romantic comedy, The Holiday, would be another slam dunk for director Nancy Meyers. Great cast (Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Eli Wallach, Jude Law), good story, (two women swap homes to escape unpleasant personal situations), but (and I hate to keep harping on this) can you say "edit"!?!? Two hours and sixteen minutes of romantic comedy, c'mon!!!! I liked this movie, but there were thirty minutes that could have been cut. A decent rental.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

In Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, an older widow moves into a residence hotel in London to be near her daughter and grandson. Unfortunately, they are not interested in her company. Through a chance meeting, she befriends a young man, who poses as her grandson to get the residents to stop teasing her (they accuse her of making up the grandson since he never comes around). A friendship ensues, and serves as a perspective on life goals, aging and relationships. The tongue in cheek look at what is "proper" is cute, and makes a good story.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Ultimate Gift

The Ultimate Gift is a drama that puts perspective on life. The patriarch of a wealthy family dies with billions to leave to his heirs. These spoiled, entitled folks are impossible to like. Turns out the old man had a favorite grandson who he sends on a life changing series of tasks, to become a contributing member of the human race, and his chosen heir. Predictably, the young man goes from obnoxious to angelic in the course of a few months. There's a lot to this movie, and most of the tasks play out well. The middle of the movie drags, but the end is satisfying. I would have edited at least 15 minutes out of this film, but performances are solid and it is a good story. I'd recommend this as a solid rental.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bond Returns in DVD

The remake of Casino Royale is a triumph for the 007 film franchise. After several tepid Bond adventures (World is not Enough, Die Another Day *ugh*), the spy is back with flair and intensity. Some of the best chase scenes . ever.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


300 is a highly stylized film, depicting of the battle at Thermopylae in 480 BC ,where 300 Spartans square off against 100,000 Persians. The film is an adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel, based on this battle. The film style and color makes most of the scenes look like a comic book. It's an impressive visual. The testosterone runs rampant, right down to the Spartans talking shit to both the enemy and each other (which I thought was kind of funny). The battle scenes are incredibly violent, yet there are attempts at a story through scenes with the strong, beautiful queen. The audience I saw this with was predominantly male, and they all had huge smiles on their faces walking out of the the theater.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hard Luck

So I'm driving down Route 2 a while back, and I come upon the Beacon Diner ablaze in movie lights. It was the filming of Hard Luck, which is out now in DVD. This crime thriller is a little wacky and sometimes outrageous. Wesley Snipes an Cybill Shepherd give star cred to this crazy story. I had fun recognizing all the Rhode Island locations!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Naked Men in DVD

Borat was a lot of fun in the theater, and I have a feeling it will be a runaway hit as a rental. ** Beware the naked men ** The Full Monty is also out in DVD. ** Enjoy the naked men ** A great comeback story, it was Oscar nominated for Best Picture. When I saw this film in the theater, I couldn't decide what was more fun to watch, those crazy guys dancing on the screen, or the women in front of me that were laughing uncontrollably!!

Monday, March 05, 2007


In my quest for all that is Bond, my next film is Thunderball. What a ride!! The underwater sequences are amazing, and it's worth watching the "making of" doc to hear of the shark perils. This is the Bond film that introduces the jet pack. Connery could well be the coolest hero in film! Loved it!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Black Snake Moan

For me, in films the story does not have to be believable. Just give me a good story, well written and well acted. Black Snake Moan is that for me. Christina Ricci plays a nymphomaniac, whose boyfriend goes off to war. She is found half dead on the side of the road by a black man, whose wife has left him hurt and bitter. He decides to redeem her, and the first step is physical restraint, in the form of a big-ass chain. The two become friends, and their lives change. Though the chain is the focus of all the promotions, it is secondary to the plot and result. The acting in this film is great. The rookie, Justin Timberlake, holds his own with veterans, Ricci and Samuel L. Jackson.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


David Fincher is another true artist in film. Fight Club, Panic Room, Se7en, The Game and now, Zodiac, among his best work. His films have an intensity of style that I really enjoy watching. The film Zodiac chronicles the investigation of the Zodiac killer in California, which has been an unsolved serial murder case since 1969. This is a long film, and the best advice I heard, before seeing it, was "be patient". Good advice, as this story covers almost 30 years of events and evidence, which is a task in itself. The involvement of the media, and portrayal of the murders, unfold well. Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards play the detectives pursing the serial killer. Robert Downey Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal portray the journalists that become obsessed with the case, to the point that it effects their personal lives. Gyllenhaal takes the investigation of Robert Graysmith, to a frantic dramatic level. His character unravels slowly, but sticks to the investigation to the end. There's even a little comedic relief in the portrayal of his character. Excellent work in this film, both in front of and behind the camera.