Tuesday, August 29, 2006

DVD Releases on my Birthday

On the occasion of my 50th birthday, there are several excellent films out in DVD! Click the titles to see what I thought when I saw them.

Akeelah and the Bee is the story of a young girl and her journey to the National Spelling Bee. Friends With Money is a character driven view of relationships. Take the Lead brings ballroom dancing to an inner city high school detention. All of these films are well worth seeing, enjoy!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Illusionist

True to it's title, The Illusionst is a story where nothing is as it appears. The reveal is the best scene in the film. Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel lead us on a story of intrigue and love, with a splash of politics (just enough to provide motivation) in the early 1900's in Vienna. Norton is the illusionist, and Giamatti is the investigator, in this excellent cat and mouse story. The acting, cinematography and editing are outstanding. I saw this in a sold out theater, and the audience applauded at the end! Well deserved.

Marx Brothers Rock !

I had never sat through a whole Marx Brother's film. A Night at the Opera is one very funny movie. The DVD version has a piece under Special Features that tells background stories of the boy's nicknames, their break into feature films from vaudeville, their training (yes, Harpo actually was a talented harpist)and much more. Such fun to watch!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Snakes on a Plane

Action? Thriller? Horror? Comedy? I don't know which genre Snakes on a Plane belongs in, but I'm comfy saying "all of the above"! From the campy dialogue to the crazy places people get bit, this movie has a lot of funny moments. It also made me jump more than once, and what's creepier than snakes!?!? All I know is I enjoyed this movie, I think it lives up to the hype. Good for New Line for releasing it to the fans before the critics. This movie is a crowd pleaser!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

World Trade Center

On the morning of August 30, 2001, I enjoyed an iced cafe mocha in the plaza of the World Trade Center. I marveled at the sparkling buildings, the people hustling to work, the street vendors setting up for the day and the energy of the city in this gorgeous setting. The place was vital and alive. 12 days later, all that changed. My first reaction was disbelief. In the early scenes of the film World Trade Center, this is the core reaction of most people. When the towers came down, all I could think of was what was happening to all the people I knew were in those buildings and the surrounding area. I also had friends and family in lower Manhattan that day. Though I was 200 miles away, the impact was personal and frightening.

The film World Trade Center captures the fear and confusion of those hours from the perspective of those in the midst of the rubble, as well as those on the outside watching helplessly. The scenes of the trapped Port Authority policemen are claustrophobic and tense, the rescue scenes bring the lift we need. Is it too soon? Who knows if it will ever be a good time for films about 9/11. It was traumatic, and on many levels some people may never be ready for films like this.

This was an emotional film to watch, but I was grateful for the happy ending to this story of rescue and reunion.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

In Little Miss Sunshine we see love, dreams, loss and courage. Olive's family drives her 900 miles to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. The trip is not exactly smooth, but they persevere, keeping an eye on the prize. The performances are excellent, this is a very strong cast. The story is engaging, poignant and oh so funny! For me, this is the "must see" movie of the summer.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Inside Man on DVD

Inside Man is an intricate heist film. An outstanding cast and creative editing makes this a strong rental.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ant Bully

The animated film Ant Bully is a classic reform story in miniature. A young boy, who likes to pick on the ant colony in his yard, is brought down to ant size, and is taught a lesson. Simple and cool to look at, this is a satisfying summer offering.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Talladega Nights:The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Talladega Nights:The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, is a satire of NASCAR, and is just plain silly funny. The duh factor entertains in so many ways. I love the roar of the engines and the speed that is NASCAR, but there is so much to poke fun at. From product placement, to the statement "Ricky, you're not a thinker, you're a driver!", there is full range of humor that always comes back to farce. A guilty pleasure of politically incorrect and great improv humor. Will Ferrell is at the top of his game, with the help of a stellar supporting cast (Molly Shannon is comic genius). Well done!

The Night Listener

The story of a broken hearted man falling for the ruse of a woman is the basis for The Night Listener. To say too much will ruin the story, the real suspense comes from Gabriel not knowing if he can believe what he hears, and even what he sees. Based on true events, this is an OK thriller. Performances are excellent.

North by Northwest

On a list of the 50 Films to See Before You Die I was pleased that I had seen 32. I like lists that give my movie viewing direction. I dutifully put the 18 remaining films on my rental list. Many of them are pretty old or foreign.

I rented Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest first in my new quest. The spy thriller stars Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint and is a real gem! As Hitchcock says in the ads "I promise you nothing more than entertainment...." The story traverses the US in an intricate chase that ends up at Mt. Rushmore. Hitchcock's style of irony, twists and amazing location shots earns it a deserved spot on this "must see" list.