Monday, October 29, 2007

Spidey and Petey In DVD this Week

Spiderman 3 is out in DVD this week. Peter Parker swings through NYC, as Spiderman, saving mankind and his friends. A strong addition to the franchise. Also out is Talk to Me, biopic of the original "shock jock" Petey Greene. An interesting man and a cool film.

And a little bird (thanks Liam) told me that You Must be This Tall : The Story of Rocky Point Park is available for pre-order for the DVD release December 11th. A special 2 disk set, check it out.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Elizabeth : The Golden Age

The joy of my Oscar project, is seeing so much great film. The curse of my Oscar project, is keeping an eye out for that not-so-great film that might get nominated for something like costumes, makeup, score, etc. This time of year, the film might not be out in DVD by February. This is part of the game for me. Thanks to sites like I have a lot of help. Thus, I went to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age for two reasons. One, it will probably be nominated for the costumes, and two, it won't be out in DVD till March.

Fortunately, this film was better than I expected. First of all, we have Clive Owen in the role of Sir Walter Raleigh. He's on my list of actors I'd watch read the phone book. And an impressive performance from Cate Blanchett, again, cast as the Virgin Queen (not sure why folks are so obsessed with this). For a period film it plays out well, and thankfully they kept it to 2 hours. An amazing cast made this worth seeing. Most notable Geoffrey Rush, Samantha Morton and Abbie Cornish. Will it get nominated for the costumes? I'd say yes, and possibly cinematography ... well done!

Pacino in my Living Room

Once again, Inside the Actors Studio on DVD, lent me a little insight to a great actor, Al Pacino. He was happy to talk about his acting education and experience. He can tell a pretty funny story. He also has a sense of humor about people talking about him. As one of the co-presidents of The Actors Studio, he truly believes in the institution as a tool and haven for actors. Very interesting to hear him talk about the writers and directors he has worked with. He was very open about the processes involved in creating the many characters he has portrayed.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lust, Caution

I have been wracking my brain trying to remember the name of the Focus Features executive I drove this summer at the Newport Film Festival. Through all my Google searches, and photo exploration (it was dark and the guy was sitting behind me) I think it was James Shamus. He asked me a ton of questions, and in our 4 minute encounter, made me feel special.

Today I saw a film he worked on with Ang Lee, and I'm pretty impressed. Lust, Caution is a very cool spy thriller set in World War II China. A member of a resistance faction turns spy to try to bring down a political hotshot, using physical attraction as her weapon. Her role is to lure him into a position for assassination. Both get more emotionally involved than they should. Not a happy ending. Lee brings his beautiful film style to this story. Violent and erotic, an interesting war-time thriller.

Mr. Brooks

Mr. Brooks is an interesting thriller. A serial killer with a devil on his shoulder, just can't stop killing people. On the surface, he is a successful businessman, husband and father. Under it all, he gets a kick out of killing, and treats it like any other addiction. When he is found out by someone looking for the same thrill, things get complicated. Not great, but better than I expected. A decent rental.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dan in Real Life

Simply put, Dan in Real Life is just a nice movie. This is the story of a man, Dan Burns, who has been widowed and has three daughters. On his way to a family reunion, he runs into a charming woman in a store. They have coffee, they talk, she reluctantly gives him her phone number when they part. On the arrival of his siblings at the reunion, his brother shows up with his new girlfriend. Yes, it's the woman Dan just met! The family dynamic is explored with humor and love. This is not a new story, but I loved the characters, the interactions and the setting. This film was made in Rhode Island last year. Fun to recognize the local setting. This romantic, family comedy is sweet, funny and real, just a nice movie, enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

De Niro in my Living Room

Thanks to DVD, and Inside the Actors Studio, Robert De Niro spent an hour in my living room last night. One of my favorite actors, the man spoke of his training and his films. Unlike media interviews, Inside the Actors Studio brings a more conversational atmosphere to the actor's interviews. Initially, it takes James Lipton a while to find the right questions to get De Niro to relax, but it happens and he opens up. I think the fact that the audience is filled with aspiring film students motivates the actors to be open and helpful. De Niro was that, and gave a fan like me some insight to the man and his art. I'm thrilled that Inside the Actors Studio has made these programs available on DVD, fun to have stars in my living room!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited

I must begin by saying that I'm pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed The Darjeeling Limited. I've always been a little underwhelmed by Wes Anderson's work, often a little too quirky for me. This road trip tale of three brothers (who really don't get along very well), on a train in India, charmed me. Their personalities cracked me up, the quest was interesting and evolved. There was drama, a touch of romance and several twists and reveals. Visually, this film is a treat. Color, detail, gags, scenery, I was impressed. If the rumors are true about the short film Hotel Chevalier being shown before this at screenings starting this week, I may go see it again!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Time Travel in DVD

The only thing I've seen that's out in DVD this week is Meet the Robinsons. An animated offering that has a boy searching for his family in the future. Funny, clever, great looking film!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gone Baby Gone

Crime investigation stories make good cinema. Ben Affleck chose to adapt the novel Gone Baby Gone for his directorial debut. I think it was a good choice. Set in Boston, a 4 year old girl is missing, and a private investigator is approached to find her. Old contacts and new influence the investigation. Information and misinformation cause people to make important decisions and judgements. This is a good who done it, with just enough twists to keep it interesting. There is also an element of "what would you do?" that makes the viewer think. I enjoyed this film.

Children of Heaven

The Iranian film Children of Heaven is a story of family. A little boy loses his sister's only pair of shoes. The family cannot afford another pair, so they share a pair of sneakers. The little boy enters a footrace that has a prize of a new pair of sneakers. A wonderful story of responsibility, family and community. I get teased about noticing people's shoes, so shoes as a plot device works well for me. There are several sequences with just shoes, that communicates a search, achievement and even a tense chase scene. In the end, the shoes are a symbol of love and support. The children in this film are charming, it is beautifully filmed. I have no idea where I found this film, but it is well worth a look.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Extraordinary rendition, the incarceration and interrogation of suspected terrorists, without representation, is legal. In the film Rendition, an innocent man, suspected of terrorist connections, is grabbed by the CIA. He is subjected to torture until he tells them what they want to hear. Those scenes are harrowing. The international politics are disturbing, this is a very dramatic story. Told from both sides, an all-star cast portray the tense emotion of the situation well.

Crazy Love

Real life can hold more drama than any story that is made up. I think that's why I like documentary film so much. In Crazy Love, the turbulent relationship of Linda and Burt Pugach comes to film. They fell in love, he assaulted her, disfigured her, he went to jail, they reunite, they marry, they live happily ever after. Crazy, but true. A wild story, an interesting film. This was screened at both Tribeca and Newport Film festivals this year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What the Havoc 2 ?!? ... in DVD

OK kids, the DVD release of a film I really enjoyed this year, slipped way under my radar because they changed the name. Just got an e-mail saying that Normal Adolescent Behavior is out in DVD under the title Havoc 2. I saw this film at Tribeca Film Festival this spring and really liked it. The angst of being a teenager is explored with creativity and heart. I thought it was well done, and it was filmed in RI! I'm a tad confused by the renaming. Yes, Normal Adolescent Behavior is a bit wordy for a film title, but so is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford *ahem*. I'm sure you can tell, I'm not crazy about the new name. Anywayyyyyy, it's still a good film, and I think it's well worth a look.


I remember seeing Moonraker, at the drive-in, back in the day. I'm amused that whenever I think of this film, I think of space sex and lawn chairs. This Bond adventure goes very hokey very quickly. Stolen space shuttle?!? Saving the world?!? An OK story, but the characters seem a little too camp, with a strong dose of cheesy. The Bond shine is dimming for me.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Aliens, Allies, Alienation, Amo...a big week in DVD!

It's a big week for DVD releases, so here we go. All I can say about Transformers is WOO HOO!!! Such a fun film with great action and a sense of humor. In the middle east, Mariane Pearl tries to make sense of the senseless murder of her husband. A Mighty Heart is a melancholy story of love and politics. In The Hoax a desperate writer tells a story that never happened, way to lose your credibility! Finally, the first film in the Grindhouse double feature, Planet Terror, stands on its own. A super shoot 'em up, Rose McGowan plays one bad-ass-one-legged-chick (you can't say that about too many folks!) Something for everyone ... enjoy!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Michael Clayton

The legal drama Michael Clayton is a smart thriller. A legal "fixer" has to sort out a mess left by one of his colleagues in a class action law suit against a large corporation. I liked that the characters are flawed, and the legal system and big business take a bit of a dressing down. Though George Clooney plays a strong, vulnerable, persistent Michael Clayton, Tom Wilkinson's performance as the whistle blower really gives the film it's tone and impact.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lars and the Real Girl

The power of compassion and community is portrayed in the film Lars and the Real Girl. A young man suffers with delusion and makes up a girlfriend. Through the gentle actions and words of friends and family he works through his issues. The plot goes a little far at a few points, but the basic concept of love and diligence worked for me in this drama. I wouldn't call this a comedy, but there are some very funny moments. Well written and acted, Ryan Gosling gives another wonderful performance. The whole ensemble makes this film worth seeing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

200 Cigarettes

New Year's Eve can be rough. In 200 Cigarettes, we see the evening through the eyes of a random group of young folks in NYC, circa mid 80s. The clothes, the shoes and the earl careers of some pretty successful actors entertained me. The most notable cast member in this crew, in light of this year's releases, is Casey Affleck who shone even back in the day. I like the way all of the people are brought together in the end. Kinda chuckling over the fact that "Shake Your Groove Thing" is now stuck in my head!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Into the Wild

The joy of life is celebrated in Into the Wild. Sean Penn's version of the adventures of Chris McCandless is joyful, intense and astounding. The story of a young man's trek from Georgia to Alaska is the story of goals and relationships. The film is made up of scenes of Chris' time in Alaska, interspersed with scenes of his journey. The people he meets along the way, and decisions he makes, show just what kind of person he is. The spirit of this young man is portrayed by Emile Hirsch, as much in his expressions and body language, as his words. A fantastic performance. The soundtrack features original songs from Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) that really capture the essence of the time and space. Penn's film style shows, not only the beauty of the wilderness, but the beauty of Chris McCandless.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Angst and the Almighty in DVD this week

In DVD this week, the film Reign Over Me hits the shelves. This drama looks at post traumatic stress syndrome in a man who lost his family in one of the plane crashes on 9/11/01. A worthwhile drama. In the comedy Evan Almighty, the subject of divine intervention gets a new twist with crazy special effects. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 06, 2007


In Jindabyne we meet a group of men who love to fish. We meet their families and friends, learn about their work. They go off on an annual fishing trip, and come across the dead body of a girl in the river. They have the appropriate reactions, right up to the point where they leave the body, even tie it down so it won't float away, to continue their trip. They may not have committed the murder, but the repercussions of this horrible decision make for an intense drama.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Flick Picks with a Hallowen Twist

Every Friday, I am fortunate enough to share my thoughts on the latest movie releases, live ... on the air ... on Giovanni and Kim in the Morning on 92 ProFM. I've known Gio, Kim and their producer Will, since 2001. Last summer, they asked if I would share my thoughts on films in RI theaters on their Friday show. Me? Talk about movies? With an audience? Sign me up! Friday Flick Picks was born!! They know how much I love movies, so for 5-10 minutes a week I get to tell the ProFM listeners what I think of the latest releases. They always give this web address, and listeners comment here every once in a while. (Thanks guys!)

Last week, a listener asked me about Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween. That forced me to a confession. I don't watch horror films much. If you've read here for any amount of time, you know that film violence doesn't bother me. But as I have gotten older, I just don't have what it takes to sit through a true, gory, slasher, horror movie. Let me say, I respect the film makers and fans of the genre, it's just not for me. In this Halloween season of scary movies, I'm more likely to be found at Spookley the Square Pumpkin than Saw IV!

In the spirit of the season, today Kim shared the most popular movie themed Halloween costumes, posted by Fandango, for this year. Love this list ....

#1.) Captain Jack Sparrow (--Johnny Depp's character from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.)
#2.) Spider-Man
#3.) Dracula
#4.) Batman
#5.) Harry Potter
#6.) Superman
#7.) Darth Vader
#8.) Indiana Jones
#9.) Wolverine
#10.) Borat

#1.) Catwoman
#2.) Tinkerbell
#3.) Cinderella
#4.) Lara Croft
#5.) Cleopatra
#6.) Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz"
#7.) Princess Leia
#8.) MARILYN MONROE. . . (--In her white dress from "The Seven Year Itch".)
#9.) Edna Turnblad (--The WOMAN played by JOHN TRAVOLTA in "Hairspray".)
#10.) Elizabeth Swann (--KEIRA KNIGHTLEY'S character in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.)

Halloween season is upon us, enjoy!

Monday, October 01, 2007

October Starts Scary in DVD

1408 is out in DVD this week. John Cusack is the anchor of this screen adaptation of Stephen King's short story. Being sceptical about the supernatural can be pretty risky. So starts the scares of October!