Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Island

Films with futuristic themes have always entertained me. 2001, Symone, I-Robot and now The Island. This action thriller revolves around a company who creates clones for wealthy folks who want body parts available when they face life threatening circumstances. Unforeseen glitches emerge, and chaos ensues. The dialogue was excellent, some snappy one liners broke the tension from time to time. Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johanson, Steve Buschemi and Sean Bean give great performances. The chase scenes, special effects and cinematography are outstanding, though a little long (Michael Bay likes to put a lot on the screen). The summer action film is alive and well!!

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Hustle & Flow

Rap is an interesting background to a story about a man trying to live his dream. A pimp gets an old high school friend to help him put together some rap tracks for radio air-play, in an attempt to better his life. The pimp's girls help,in interesting ways, and the producer brings in a technician who brings the production together. Of course there is conflict and violence, but the resolutions are good. The characters evolve and work well together, and in the end, Nola is in charge!!!!! I really enjoyed this film.

Bad News Bears.....Again

I have always thought that the first version of The Bad News Bears was clever and entertaining. Well written, well acted and a cheesy ending that worked.

The latest version of the Bad News Bears is fine, but I think the acting is not as good as the original, and the sarcasm in the script is much too adult for the story. The saving grace is Billy Bob Thornton, the man is so good, but his efforts are a little lost in the film. The kids hit their stride near the end of the film, but it too little too late. This would be a fair rental.

Friday, July 29, 2005

How Did I Miss This?

I must have been asleep at the switch when I looked at DVD releases for this week. The Upside of Anger was released to DVD this week. This is a good story with an ending that caught me by surprise. A film worth renting.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Inside Z Channel

I did not know there was a cable movie channel before HBO, it was called Z Channel. I recently watched "Z Channel : A Magnificent Obsession", a documentary about the channel and it's head programmer, Jerry Harvey. Interesting look at film history, Harvey was a real aficionado of cinema as art. I ended up with a long list of films to rent! To me, the most interesting views were from the actor James Woods. He credits the showing of his film Salvadore,on the Z Channel, with changing his career. The film was not doing well in theaters, but Harvey put it on the Z Channel. It was nominated for 3 Oscars that year. Woods believes it was because of the exposure on the Z Channel. Interesting film for anyone into film history.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

March of the Peguins

When I was a kid there were evenings my father would holler, "you kids get down here"! He would have found a National Geographic or Cousteau special on the tube, and we were to watch and learn. I was fascinated by those shows. I think that is where my love for documentary film began.

The film, March of the Peguins, is a window into the lives of the Emperor Penguin in Antarctica. They are born, they grow, they live in the ocean for 4 years, mature, return to the mating ground, mate and return to the ocean. Doesn't sound like much right? Try it at 58 degrees below zero and dinner is a 70 mile walk away, (and your legs are 2 inches long), and, oh yeah, when the wind blows it's 80 degrees below zero....yikes!!! Did I mention this has been going on for centuries!?!?

These animals are amazing, and this film is a view of their world that is hostle, cute, sad, funny, touching, mesmerizing and entertaining. Stay for the credits, you get to meet the film crew. This film is well worth seeing on the big screen!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Dry Spell

As the dog days of summer settle in, I've hit a little dry spell in my film viewing. Vacation travel and summer visits have me otherwise occupied, and there's very little I want to see in the theater. There hasn't been a decent DVD release in weeks.

One little oasis for me has been TV series on DVD. I've enjoyed flipping through episodes of Sopranos, Hogan's Heroes and Entourage. 3rd Rock from the Sun comes out this week, that show always cracked me up!!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Tim Burton has given us a gift in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I tried to go in with no preconceived notions. I did not compare it to the book or the 1971 film, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and I enjoyed a very creative film. First of all, kudos for best sight gag ever, the glass elevator! I thought the first fall was funny, the second hilarious!!! The story moved along nicely and the characters developed quickly. Strong points are the set design, the music and some great tongue in cheek humor .... and believe it or not, a mock-shower scene ... (see last post)!!

This was a fun film for me, and the Oompa Loompas knocked me out!!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Psycho Shower Scenes

So there are shower scenes, and there are SHOWER scenes. The classic film, Psycho, features one of the most famous shower scenes on film, with the lovely Janet Leigh meeting an untimely demise. I recently saw American Psycho (the fascination with Christian Bale continues), and his shower scenes were appreciated by this film connoisseur. On an intellectual level, American Psycho is an intriguing psychological thriller / horror film. On a basic female level, Christian Bale, at 27 years old, is buff, cut and wet, in one (actually I think there are two) VERY memorable shower scenes **sigh** I love cinema!!! hehe

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Winter Films Are Hot on DVD

Two of the finest films of 2004 are out in DVD this week. I saw both of these films in NYC last winter, and both were an experience (click the links to see why).

A Very Long Engagement is a foreign film that tells a touching love story set during the first World War. This film was beautifully shot, and was a pleasure to watch. It is in French and there are subtitles.

Million Dollar Baby was "the" film to see in 2004. Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hillary Swank and Paul Haggis give us a film that enthralls us, then breaks our hearts. I really like boxing, but it took me a bit to get used to watching women box, this film did a great job with the fight scenes. Swank deserved every award she was given for this performance. For all the triumphant moments in this film, there is a heart wrenching ending.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I Wish We Made Chocolate

I work in a factory that makes plastics. We have a lot of big tanks and drums and crazy looking machines to make our products. A friend stopped by today with her grandsons who are 8 and 7 years old. They wanted to see the factory, so I gave them a little tour. When you are not quite 4 feet tall, our machines and tanks look very big and very impressive, they kept saying things like "wow" and "cool"!! As I handed them some plastic pieces we make, as souvenirs, I found myself thinking about the trailer I saw over the weekend for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", due for release at the end of this week. For a second I wished I was Willy Wonka, and was sending them home with a candy bar!! As I snapped out of my movie fantasy, I got a hearty thank you from the wide-eyed boys.

I can find a movie tie-in anywhere!!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Turtles Can Fly

Turtles Can Fly is one of those films that you are glad you saw, but exposes you to unpleasant realities of a cruel world. I went to see it with my friend D, and we had to discuss for several hours after the film. In a village on the Iran/Turkey border, a group of orphans struggles to survive amid land mines and soldiers of war. An excellent film, but a real eye opener to the horrors of war, and a culture that struggles, daily, just to survive.


The penguins are psychotic!!! Madagascar is a cute, characters-out-of-their-element, animated story. Each character's personality quirks are established quickly, and the story moves right along. The unfortunate reality of the food chain challenges these animal friends, but friendship saves the day, and everyone is happy!! New Yorkers will enjoy the inside jokes, and there are a few adult jokes for the folks who paid for the tickets. The animation is top notch, and even the music has a function. A cute film for the kids, and enough for the adults to keep everyone happy.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Me and You and Everyone We Know is this year's film festival darling. From Sundance to Newport, it has won the hearts of many. This is a quirky, heartfelt look at the lives of people that want to touch and be touched, but don't know how, and don't feel sure. For the ones who take a chance, there is reward. This a film you think about a lot after the lights have come back on. The performances from the young people in this film are strong and noteworthy. Miranda July has created a piece to be proud of.

Monday, July 04, 2005


After all the explosions and screaming in the latest summer films, Heights is a nice break. Set in a day in the intertwined lives of a handful of characters, this script keeps you guessing, while giving you all the clues to the end. A nice drama that made me cry at the appropriate moment, not a happy story, but well told. Glenn Close and Elizabeth Banks are a wonderful mother-daughter combo. Nice solid acting throughout is refreshing among other summer fare!!

Hide and Seek on DVD

The film Hide and Seek comes out in DVD this week. I enjoyed this film in the theater, though it did not get great reviews. I would look at the DVD to see the alternate endings. I thought this was a decent thriller.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

War of the Worlds

Steven Spielberg has taken the H.G. Wells classic, War of the Worlds, and given it his interpretation. The classic Spielberg formula of family angst, aliens (this time they are bad) and a two hour chase scene, makes for a wild summer disaster movie. Instead of a tornado or earthquake, we have aliens that destroy everything and everyone in it's path (except the main characters, of course). John Williams has given us another wonderful score, and the special effects are top notch.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Let me count the ways that Mr. & Mrs. Smith entertained me:
(Letterman style, of course)

10. The most superficial of reasons, Pitt and Jolie are smokin' hot!!
9. Special effects and things that get blown up abound.
8. Vince Vaugh's character, and his delivery, are hilarious!
7. The neighbors ... see the film, I need say no more.
6. Creative premise, got a lot more story than I expected.
5. The married folk banter was stereotypical and very funny.
4. Benjamin wearing a Fight Club t-shirt rocks!
3. I love night shots of the Brooklyn Bridge.
2. The dialog and ironic humor had me laughing out loud.
1. Did I mention that Pitt and Jolie are smokin' hot!?!?!?
(And pull off a very funny action adventure film for summer fun!!)


One of my favorite summer TV events are the tennis finals at Wimbledon. This morning I'm enjoying the men's semi finals and women's finals. Men's finals tomorrow, love the power in that match!!

This brings to mind a film from last year called Wimbledon. I enjoyed the love story against the background of this competitive sport. With a strong script, and great performances from Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst, this is a solid rental. The tennis sequences are intense, and well filmed. Some of the scenes were actually filmed at Wimbledon in 2003.