Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Dark Knight revisited in IMAX

I finally went to see The Dark Knight in IMAX today and was not disappointed. The look and style of the film is so conducive to the huge screen. The scenes that were shot with IMAX cameras were obvious, and gave me that roller coaster feeling in my stomach that was missing in the traditional format. This film holds up well to multiple viewings. I saw things more clearly this round, and I don't seem to be able to get enough of Ledger's performance, truly brilliant. I'd see it again. If you have the chance, I recommend seeing this in IMAX for the full Dark Knight experience. I'm glad I did.

Swing Kids

In my perpetual search for film with Christian Bale, I was turned on to the film Swing Kids. In 1939 Germany, the joy of swing dancing contrasts the ugly face of war. The young seek the dance as a retreat, the Nazis try to control them. The passion of the kids for their art is portrayed well, and rules over all government and politics. Well done.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Favorites of Summer 2008

The Labor Day weekend marks the end of the summer season. I usually lobby for people to revel in the last 3 weeks of summer, as this can be the best weather of the year! The summer movie season feels like it's over late in July. I think this was one of the best summer season for movies in years. I'm feeling compelled to list my favorites of the season as it draws to a close and we ease into the release schedule of Oscar hopefuls.

These are the films I enjoyed the most in this summer season. Click on the titles to see what I thought ......

The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Son of Rambow

I was also charmed by Mamma Mia!, The Wackness, Tell No One, Hancock, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and The Incredible Hulk.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 8/29/08

This week, the arrivals in RI theaters are a little underwhelming. Elegy and Transsiberian arrive in art houses. I'd like to see both. Traitor and Hamlet 2 are new this week. I thought Traitor was OK, but it may be a more satisfying rental in a few months. I still haven't seen The Dark Knight in IMAX, I hope to get there this weekend. Vicky Cristina Barcelona is worth a look. For fun, there's a singalong version of Mamma Mia! making the rounds. Grab your friends and join in! For funny there's House Bunny, Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder. If you're looking for something to enhance your Tropic Thunder experience, there's a free download on iTunes called Rain of Madness. Pretty funny. Have a lovely long weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Traitor is a political thriller that looks at terrorism, religion and heroism. A special ops agent is embedded with terrorists and pursued by the FBI. An intriguing morality tale.

The Life Before Her Eyes

In The Life Before Her Eyes, two high school girls are involved in a school shooting incident. In flashback form, we see their relationships and young lives unfold, with a look at one of the girls' present day life. Or so we think. A poetic drama where things are not as they appear.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Film, Flirts, Fights and Finding in DVD

One of my favorite films of the summer is out in DVD this week. Son of Rambow is sweet, smart and made me smile. Redbelt is a good sports film I enjoyed, martial arts is the centerpiece.

In my DVD que is What Happens in Vegas. Romantic comedy that I have heard is rental worthy. The release of Where in the World is Osam Bin Laden? is a relief. It was in theaters around here for only 2 weeks, and I didn't ge there. Morgan Spurlock gave an awesome interview on my favorite morning radio show. Look forward to seeing this one!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gonzo:The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Gonzo:The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is a cool ride through the passions and politics of the man. With his own words as a backdrop, his friends and colleagues explain and explore the man, his works and his lifestyle. This film is well done, I'll be re-reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas this week.


The election process in the US is flawed. Especially when a race is close. As we know, in 2000, the Bush / Gore presidential race was so close, there was a recount in Florida. The events are dramatized in the HBO film Recount. The defects of the system and the laws in our process are revisited, it's an eerie film.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fiday Flick Picks 8/22/08

Light comedy and documentary are tasty treats in RI theaters this week. In comedy, I'm a bit smitten with The Rocker, and The House Bunny looks promising. In documentary, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson is at the Cable Car (yes, the theater with the couches) and American Teen is getting good reviews. Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Mamma Mia! and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 are worth your movie dollar. I'm interested too see if The Dark Knight bounces back into the #1 spot at the box office this weekend, enjoy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Rocker

I decided to reward a productive work week with a movie. Looking for a light, entertaining comedy, I chose The Rocker. Rainn Wilson plays a middle age drummer, whose rock and roll dreams were dashed by getting kicked out of his band 20 years a go. Taking refuge in his sisters attic, he gets sucked into his nephew's high school garage band. It's an awkward fit, but he's an awesome drummer and the kids have a good sound. Through a series of circumstances, they end up on Youtube, and "The Naked Drummer" becomes a sensation. They are approached by a label, complete with a sleazy management-type (who gets the most laughs here). And we are off down the path of the movie success story. I'll admit I was smitten by the characters, likable folks you'd hug if they weren't so sweaty. I was entertained by this one, I think it will be a solid rental.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Music, Miss and New DVD Post

I'm going to revise my format for my DVD release post. Thought I'd let you know what I've seen (as usual) and what I'm renting (the new).

This week I'm also going to mention a film I've never seen and will probably never rent, but it's tough to ignore Miley Cyrus these days. The smash hit, 3D concert film, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus:Best of Both Worlds releases to DVD this week. The teen tidal wave rolls on!

I've seen Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, also released to DVD this week. A dowdy woman has a wonderful effect on a young, ambitious actress. They both benefit, a nice film.

Ready for release in my rental Que are The Life Before Her Eyes, which never hit theaters around here, but has a lot of appeal for me. Recount was released to HBO earlier this year, I'm looking forward to seeing this one. Director Jay Roach moderated a panel I attended last year, I'm anxious to see his latest work. An American Crime is based on a true story of a kidnapping, with an amazing cast.

A good week for DVD releases, enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Counterfeiters

In The Counterfeiters, we watch a group of concentration camp prisoners, forced to forge money and documents for the Nazis in WWII. It goes against their moral fiber and hatred for the Nazis, but it is survival. This German film won the Academy Award for best Foreign Film and it is well deserved. Amazing story, well told.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

The latest film from Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, is an interesting look at alternative relationships, security and desire. If you open your mind and let this story in, it is a satisfying tale. The sexual aspects are interesting, but not graphic. I liked how the character Cristina denounced labels. Performances are outstanding, a very modern love story.

Henry Poole Is Here

Henry Poole Is Here is an interesting examination of faith and spirituality. It gives voice to both believers and skeptics. A decent movie. A bit slow at times and the ending is what you make it. An interesting topic with no real resolution, but it made me think.


Surfwise is a touching story of family and life philosophy. The unconventional, vagabond lifestyle of the Paskowitz family produced 9 very interesting adults. Their stories make a compelling documentary. The father's final words in the film sum it up best, "It is easier to die when you have lived, than it is to die when you haven't. So I say to all young people, go make memories beautiful memories, when the time comes for you to go, you will not go alone."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Flick Picks 8/15/08

The summer action comedy Tropic Thunder opened in RI on Wednesday. Vicki Cristina Barcelona, Bottle Shock and Henry Poole Is Here arrive at RI theaters today. Still in theaters worth seeing there's The Dark Knight, Swing Vote and The Wackness. Tell No One and Brideshead Revisited are in art houses. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tropic Thunder

What's so funny about Tropic Thunder?

A good hard poke at actors who take themselves and their movies too seriously.
A crazed movie executive.
Booty Sweat
Subjects that push the offensive and language that makes me blush.
The line "you've got hands?"
Tivo as a character.

The quality of the filming and special effects is impressive. The fake trailers and closing credits are as funny as the movie itself. Another satisfying summer action - comedy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Intellect in DVD

Smart People is out in DVD this week. A family story that struggles with intellect vs emotion. I liked this one, a drama worth a rental.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Pineapple Express

A crazy chase is the basic story of the film, Pineapple Express. A witless goof-ball witnesses a murder that is part of a drug war, and the drug lord wants him dead. The chase is on, in a violent, pot-infused extravaganza. Funny, violent and mindlessly entertaining, I got a kick out of this flick! (Did I mention that it's violent?)

Friday Flick Picks 8/8/08

The Pineapple Express rolls into RI theaters this week. Two witless men get caught in the middle of a drug war. A hilarious, violent chase ensues. The girls are still Fedexing those jeans around the world in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. Good story, good cast. The Dark Knight and WALL-E still deserve a look. I liked Swing Vote, The Wackness and Tell No One. Still plenty of summer fun at the movies, enjoy!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants continues. The girls have completed their freshman year in college (RI connection - RISD and Brown are two of the schools) and we catch up with them all at the start of the film. They have separate adventures throughout the summer. The pants do travel, but they have become a less significant charm. The girls take responsibility for their actions, make decisions based on head and heart. It's a nice story for young adults. The film is edited in short scenes, that almost made me feel like the girls were together. Interesting technique. A good summer drama.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tell No One

Sunday closings foiled a few of the errands I planned before my movie today. This had me on the east side of Providence 40 minutes early for the matinée of Tell No One. Thankfully, there is a lovely restaurant next to the movie theater that serves a tasty Bloody Mary (is there any other kind?), so I had a place to linger with my magazine. Two women came in after I'd been there about 10 minutes, ordering cocktails as well. I heard them tell the bartender they were going to the movie. They engaged me in their conversation about film, and invited me to sit with them during the movie. The twists and turns of this French thriller had me guessing right up to the final scenes. I was glad to have people to sort things out with when the film was over. Well worth seeing!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Swing Vote

The first trailers I saw for Swing Vote had me skeptical. A presidential election hangs on one man's vote, and he's a nit wit. Then I saw an interview with Kevin Costner this week, and was a bit smitten. I've always liked his work, but I wouldn't call myself a big fan. I do remember being impressed with him in The Upside of Anger, and his character in Swing Vote seemed to have the same effect on me. The character, Bud Johnson, is witless and endearing. The themes of civic responsibility, family and media insanity are well treated. I was surprised that I liked this film as much as I did, worth a look.

Step Brothers

Last week, I had free passes to see Step Brothers. The night of the screening we had dramatic thunder storms, traffic into the city was a mess, early reviews on the film were poor, I decided to stay home. All week I've been wondering, "could it really be that bad?" Also, Richard Jenkins is one of my favorite actors, I was anxious to see his performance. After a long week, today was one of those days I didn't want to talk to anyone, so I scheduled a triple play at the movies. Step Brothers was everything I expected. Silly story, poor execution, but Jenkins' performance made it worth my movie dollar. I kind of felt sorry for the guy who tried to engage me in conversation, on the way out, by saying, "that was freakin' hilarious!" Not so much for me.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Anchorman : The Legend of Ron Burgundy

When Anchorman:The Legend of Ron Burgundy first came out, I avoided it, because the trailers made it look so sexist. When Step Brothers came out, people were waxing poetic for classic Will Ferrell comedic acting. I got just that from Anchorman. Not only from Ferrell, but Christina Applegate (who sweetly gave me an autograph after seeing her in Sweet Charity on Broadway), Steve Carell, Vince Vaughn, Fred Willard and Paul Rudd turned in strong performances. Cool cameo appearances made this fun to watch. After seeing it, I realize it was not sexist, but funny, clever, smart, and, did I mention, funny? Well written and executed, I'm probably one of the last people on the planet to see this one. Enjoy!

Friday Flick Picks 8/1/08

RI theaters enjoy the charm of Kevin Costner in the new movie Swing Vote. A comedy that takes on politics and civic responsibility. The Mummy:Tomb of the Dragon Emperor looks like a big mess, but I loved the first 2 parts of the franchise, so I'll probably check it out. The french thriller Tell No One is in art houses, along with The Wackness and The Rape of Europa. For the fun and funny there's Mamma Mia!, Step Brothers and Wall-e. The best action film of the summer, The Dark Knight is well worth your movie dollar. If none of this appeals to you, rent Shine a Light, out in DVD this week. RI International Film Festival starts Tuesday, check out the schedule here. Enjoy!