Saturday, October 31, 2009

This Is It

On putting my thoughts together on the documentary This Is It, I realize that I'm not much of a Michael Jackson Fan. Yes, I like a lot of his music. Yes, he was an amazing performer, but I'm not a die-hard, gotta have all that is Jackson, screaming fan. This film struck me as a tribute to the performer and director of his art. Polite, diplomatic and firm in how he wanted things, it was interesting to watch. As a dance fan I enjoyed the first half of the film that really focused on the choreography and the dancers. The second half was more about Michael, the music and his creative process. As the film came to a close, I teared up as I thought of his family and mother watching this (which I understand they have not). It's a bit too soon, but a loving insight.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 10/30/09

It's a bleak week for openings in RI theaters this week. This Is It and Boondock Saints II : All Saints Day hit theaters. I like a good concert flick so I'll probably check out the Jackson doc. The Boys Are Back, Beeswax, A Serious Man and Paris are playing in local art houses. Where the Wild Things Are, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Whip It, Julie & Julia and Law Abiding Citizen are at the multiplex. Halloween treats are The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jennifer's Body, Zombieland, Paranormal Activity and Cirque du Freak:The Vampire's Assistant. Have a spooctacular time!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spooky Flick Picks 2009

I'll admit it, I'm kinda psyched for Halloween this year. I've got the pumpkins that will become Jack o' Lanterns, I've got candy for the trick-or-treaters, I think I'm ready. A little film will make the holiday complete. Here are some film recommendations for a happy Halloween. BOO!

Trick 'r Treat : cool anthology-style horror flick with a sense of humor. Out in DVD.
Let the Right One In : vampires and subtitles, honest, it's worth it. Out in DVD.
Paranormal Activity : demons under surveillance, good suspense flick. In theaters now.
Drag Me to Hell : demonic possession in a campy style, very entertaining. Out in DVD
Zombieland - zombie road trip with more than a few laughs thrown in. In theaters now.
The Blob (1958) - more of a monster movie, but I saw this one recently and it's a classic. Out in DVD.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I rented Cheri, because the film had good reviews. I wasn't crazy about the May - December romance aspect of this film, but it was an interesting aspect of the story which was originally penned by Colette. I was surprised at how the story developed. The performances were excellent and the plot moved right along. Nice romantic period film. I liked this more than I expected to.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Farce, Fright and Family in DVD

Whatever Works comes out in DVD this week. A clever film with a bit of a twist, funny stuff. Nothing Like the Holidays is in my rental queue. Another sparse week in DVD Land. Do yourself a favor and rent Trick 'r Treat. BOO!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Movie Chat with Cort & Fatboy

Before I went to bed last night, I was going to listen to Friday's Cort & Fatboy podcast. I'd been out with friends, my kids are all visiting for the weekend, all was right with the world. When I went to the KUFO website to find their regular show (hoping for a Mike Russell "power hour") I found a 6 minute message from Cort Webber and Bobby Roberts saying they had been fired. Their programming director and the Rick Emerson Show were gone as well. KUFO was cleaning house. I was shocked.

I started listening to Cort & Fatboy in 2006. Mike Russell, movie reviewer for the Oregonian, was doing Friday night reviews on the air. I liked Mike's taste in film and Cort & Fatboy are very knowledgeable when it comes to film. On Saturday mornings I would listen to the three of them chat film, then I'd turn it off and go about my week. As time went on, I would leave the podcast on and before I knew it, I would have listened to the whole show. Funny, topical, irreverent and smart, I was becoming a Cort & Fatboy fan.

The podcasts are available on iTunes, so I would download them to my iPod, and started listening to them on road trips in the car. They made the time fly and kept me laughing. They'd fill me in on the latest and greatest on movies, music, TV, comics, pop culture and politics. I even enjoyed news of the local events in Portland, though it is 3000 miles away. In an effort to get some exercise this summer, I started to walk a few days a week. Once again, the boys kept me company during a mundane task and I stuck with it, knowing I had something entertaining to listen to as I put in my miles. I felt lucky to have found such quality entertainment. Along the way I got to meet Byron Beck, Dave Walker, Dawn Taylor, Aaron Duran, Steven Humphreys and lots of very smart, talented people. Fortunately I can find all these folks online, but it won't be the same without the glue that is Cort & Fatboy.

Thanks guys, I hope you find a new gig and I'll be listening to you again soon.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 10/23/09

For the horror fans in RI theaters this week there's Saw VI and Cirque du Freak : The Vampire's Assistant. Paranormal Activity and Zombieland can also satisfy the need for a Halloween thrill. For adventure fans there's Astro Boy and Amelia. Worth a look at the multiplex, Where the Wild Things Are. Local art houses are showing A Serious Man.
I've got a house full of family visiting this weekend (so excited) so I won't be in the theater. I'll catch up Halloween weekend. Enjoy!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Robots and Romance in DVD

It's a pretty barren week in DVD releases this week. Transformers : Revenge of the Fallen hits the shelves. Though it was not the best piece of cinema out this year, it was number one in the summer box office. Worth a look on DVD. In my DVD queue is Cheri. With such sparse pickin's, get a copy of Trick 'r Treat and enjoy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Paranormal Activity

To me, the scary part of Paranormal Activity was the anticipation. Waiting and waiting for something to happen is well structured. Brilliant exposure of trailers and promotional materials also helped set up our imaginations until the action kicks in. Excellent technique that sets up an awesome ending. Well done.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Where the Wild Thing Are

Maurice Sendak's nine sentences, and glorious illustrations, set the stage for the film Where the Wild Things Are. Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers use this stage to explore emotions and imagination. In life, we all feel isolation, anger, frustration, creativity, adventure, joy and love. In this film, we see an interpretation of these emotions that is direct, heartfelt, and at times, a little brutal. For me, this film delves into the human psyche, through a young boy, in a powerful, direct fashion. The group dynamic is dramatic and honest. Adults will get the message, kids will enjoy the wild things, Max and the howling rumpus. Well done.

My History with Where the Wild Things Are

I have been trying to remember when Where the Wild Things Are came into my life. I was 7 years old when the book came out, but we didn't have new books in our house much back in the day. I don't think I really got my hands on a copy until my babysitting years. Thinking of this book, I usually flash to a college children's literature course. I had to compile a card file of books for elementary school children. I had to read every book I put in the file. I had to have a minimum of 200 books. I remember sitting in the children's section of my hometown library, over my spring break, with piles of books around me. The one book I could not put back on the shelf was Where the Wild Things Are. A simple story of childhood rebellion and adventure, with the comfort of home and family. The illustrations were exotic and endearing. I was so enamored, I bought a paperback copy. At 20 years old, I kept it on my bookshelf with all my favorite books. It stuck out. The book got old, it traveled, it got beat up, somewhere along the line it was thrown out. When I had children, there was a copy in the house, but with all the other books and years gone by, be darned if I can find it now. My grandson was born a year ago, and his parents have embraced this lovely, poetic text as part of his bed time ritual. I have seen them lovingly recite those nine sentences to a child they love so much. It fills my heart. A few months ago, I bought a new copy of the book for my house. I look through it every once in a while and marvel at it's simplicity and depth. And now they've made a feature film based on this classic book. I hope the film does it proud. The fact that Sendak approves is enough for me. Let the wild rumpus start!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 10/16/09

The only movie I'm interested in seeing this weekend is Where the Wild Things Are. I just want to sit in Max's imagination for a bit. Law Abiding Citizen and Paranormal Activity also open at the multiplex. In art houses we have Paris and Big Fan. Still in RI theaters are Capitalism: A Love Story, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Couples Retreat, The Informant!, Surrogates, Whip It and Zombieland. And if you don't feel like going out, find a copy of Trick 'r Treat and get in the spirit of the season. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trick 'r Treat

Want a good Halloween film? Want to see a clever, anthology-style, horror film? Get your hands on a DVD copy of Trick 'r Treat. Unfortunately, this film never saw the big screen. A shame, because it's a good looking film. It is also a good weave of stories with just enough creepy to satisfy your Halloween pallet. Boo!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Capitalism : A Love Story

I try to give Michael Moore's films the benefit of the doubt. He brings important issues to the table for discussion. Then, through sensationalism and sarcasm, loses focus and productivity. I want films that pounce on social issues to be more productive, give us a direction, offer solutions. In Capitalism : A Love Story, he tries to compare economics to politics. They are related, but he never makes the connections make sense. He does a lot of finger pointing but stops short of drawing any real conclusions or solutions.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dancers, Dads, Demons & Demands in DVD

Out in DVD this week is Drag Me to Hell. An entertaining horror film that takes a tongue-in-cheek poke at the genre. Straight to video is a gem of a film that really should have been shown in theaters, yeah it's that good looking. Trick 'r Treat is a cool anthology-style horror film that gets the job done. Really enjoyed it and now I own it! New releases Every Little Step, Stepfather (1987) and American Violet are in my rental queue this week.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Serious Man

How does life get so complicated? In A Serious Man we see a man trying to live his life. He starts to see each element crumble around him. He reaches out to his Jewish faith to find answers and meaning. He is left empty on many occasions. This black comedy is well written, well structured and a shocker of an ending make this a film worth a look. A strong comment on life, it's disappointments and unexpected turns.

Anvil : The Story of Anvil

The energy of their music, and the agony of the music business makes a poignant story in Anvil : The Story of Anvil. The pure joy and dedication that the members of the band have for their music is well portrayed in this documentary. The film's payoff, for me, was when they take the stage in the final performance in the film. Check it out and see if you don't agree.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Breaking Away

Breaking Away was recommended by Mike Russell as a great sports film. For me, the title has a double meaning. It's about bike racing and it's about life after high school. There is the classic conflict of townies vs college dudes. Adolescent independence vs family. The characters are trying to find themselves in the moment and in the future. This film is also gorgeous. Quarry and bike race scenes so well done. Not only the cinematography, but the music and the cast are pretty as well. Breaking Away is a film well worth a look, thanks Mike.

Whip It

For me, Whip It is about family. Yes there is roller derby, yes there are teens living in a small town wanting to get out, yes there is a dad who loves football, yes there is a beauty pageant, yes there is the rocker boy the girl makes out with. Under it all, there are families. The pageant girl's, the diner, the roller derby teams, the roller derby league. They stick together, they make each other laugh, they show support, they express their concern with respect (wh-wh-what!?!?), they love deeply. The first half of this film is light and sets up all the characters. The second half shows it's heart, hunkers down in reality and kicked my ass. Yes, I needed tissues. Loved these characters, loved this story, loved this film. (I think I got a glimpse of The Alamo Drafthouse) Fun film with a big heart.

Assassination of a High School President

Assassination of a High School President is a dark look at high school life through the eyes of a young man who wants to be an investigative journalist. Stolen SAT tests, drugs, gum, parties, driving tests and awkward teens are all present. The ending was a surprise and rather satisfying. My favorite line came at the end when our hero's friend wisely says, "forget it Bobby, it's high school."

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 10/9/09

For me, it's a lukewarm week in RI theaters. The openings of Couples Retreat, St. Trinians and Thirst feel mediocre at best. I'll be catching up by seeing Whip It, Capitalism: A Love Story and maybe My One and Only. Films in theaters that I think are worth seeing are 9, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Inglourious Basterds, The Informant!, Julie & Julia, Surrogates and Zombieland. I'm hearing that the Toy Story double feature in 3D is fun. For me, Monday is a holiday so you know where to find me, enjoy!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Zombieland starts with a clear explanation of where the zombies came from, and a little survival primer. It then becomes a road trip film to escape. Four characters meet and have a goal, find a zombie-free zone. Some of the zombie battles are trite, but there are enough one-liners to entertain and even a little love story. The gore is there, I couldn't eat my snacks during this one. A decent zombie flick, I liked it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Friday Flick Picks on Monday?

I was remiss in posting Friday Flick Picks this week due to a road trip to visit family. My grandson turned 1 year old and the anticipation of seeing he and his parents was more exciting to me than what was in theaters this weekend. Now that the festivities are over, I'm on my way home. Took the day off to travel today, think I'll try to see Zombieland enroute. Still want to see Whip It, but I'll get to it next weekend. The DVD queue? Anvil! The Story of Anvil and Assassination of a High School President await me. Happy Monday!