Monday, June 27, 2011

Last week in DVD through June 26th.

Red Riding Hood

What a piece of junk! It's like fairy tales for the Twilight-loving, tween generation. Shot on the set of a Renaissance Fair...well, that's what it feels like anyway. The movie feels very small and low budget. They literally only have like two or three sets in the whole movie.

I don't really need go into the story, as there isn't much of one here and most of you are already aware of Red Riding Hood. It stars Amanda Seyfried. That's about all you need to know. She likes some guy, but is supposed to marry another guy. What this has to do with anything, I don't know. You know this movie isn't going for seriousness when the main love interest for Amanda Seyfried's character shows up with his hair styled up with all kinds of hair gel, yet everyone else is dirty and grimy. I'm surprised he wasn't holding a bottle of Axe during scenes for product placement.

The whole movie just looked generic to me, and it's BOOOOORING. If the werewolf isn't there, then there just isn't anything to care about. Speaking of the werewolf, it was pretty awful looking anyway. It looked worse than the werewolves from Twilight. At one point it's just bounding around the town and you can't even tell what's going on. It's killing villagers indescriminately and you don't who any of them are and you don't care either.

This movie wastes the talents of Gary Oldman and Colonel Tigh from Battlestar Galactica. I have to wonder why someone like Gary Oldman would even be in this, but I guess actors have to eat. I think he tried to have a little fun with this, but there just isn't that much to work with. The acting and dialog are just bad all around. I actually didn't mind Amanda Seyfried here, but again, she's not given that much to do except look pretty. She just had the right look for a movie and role like this.

Also, the soundtrack was awful and distracting. The songs sounded like modern songs that had no place in a movie like this, but again, I'm sure it's that they were targeting the movie at tweens, so you need a modern soundtrack so you can sell it.

It's just clear this is a movie made to get tweens to see it and make money. They don't even try to tell a good story or get good performances out of anyone. The awfulness of this movie shouldn't be a surpise considering it was directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first Twilight film, and we all know how terrible that was. Also this was written by David Johnson, who is also writing the upcoming Clash of the Titans 2, so you know that's just going to be great now.

Oh and the ending is just terrible!

Pass on this.

The Other Women

Natalie Portman plays, here's a shocker for you, the other woman. Only she's really only the 'other woman' in a flashback. She's actually married to the guy at the start of the film. Then they go back and show you how they met, which was confusing, because they just randomly switch to a flashback that lasts for like 15 minutes. Unless maybe I blinked when they said x month/years ago or something. Then you find out that Portman and her new husband had a kid that died I guess or had a miscarriage, it's not clear at first, but finally explained later.

I felt like this was about a bunch of unlikeable people. There are times where it seems like everyone in the movie is an asshole, even the kid. Eventually, they tone it down, but overall there's just not that much to like here as far as the characters.

You get decent performances by Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow, who plays the 'original woman', but that's about it.

This was written and directed by Don Roos, who wrote Marley & Me and Single White Female, so I was expecting a little more here.

This is a pass for me.


Yes, it goes 'nowhere'...hahaha...we all get it! I've heard that joke like ten times. Seriously though, this really just goes nowhere at all.

Sophia Coppolla wrote and directed this, and I believe this is intended as a companion to Lost in Translation. The difference is that with Somewhere you don't care about the lead or much of what's going on. Where Lost in Translation starred a charming Bill Murray, here you get a blank Steven Dorff. You're kind of behind the eight ball right off the bat when you get Stephen Dorff as your lead. I don't dislike the guy, but he's just not all that interesting or distinguishable. In fact, I bet if you showed the average person pictures of Stephen Dorff and then Ethan Hawke, I bet most people would get them mixed up. Hell, I almost wrote this starred Ethan Hawke. Anyway, it's hard to buy this movie because of the lead.

It's about an actor, and you're under the impression that he's a hot commodity (which is why the Dorff casting doesn't make sense), that just seems bored with his life. He's bored with partying, acting, and women. Hell, he's even falling asleep during sex a few times. It seems like everyone kisses his ass, but nobody really likes him. About the only thing he seems to enjoy is his time with his daugther, played by Elle Fanning, who once again is the strongest thing about this movie. Superstar, I tell you!

It's not a bad movie, it's just not all that entertaining or something that you get emotionally connected with. I mean, I get what they were trying to do here, but I just don't see many people watching this and sympathizing with the main character at all. Oh, you're bored with being rich, famous and having women throw themselves at you. Poor baby! Yeah, I get how it would be boring after a while if that's all your life was, but still, cry me a river.

Watch on streaming or cable, but I wouldn't go out of your way to rent it.

Vanishing on 7th Street

Uh oh...another one of my favorites, Hayden Christensen, stars in this one, along with Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo. I actually didn't mind Christensen here, but this isn't exactly a movie you watch expecting great performances. It's a horror/thriller.

It's starts with an interesting enough premise. Basically, there's a rapture-like event where nearly everyone on Earth disappears, leaving only their clothing behind. The survivors figure out that people seem to only disappear when they are surrounded by darkness and any light source, even a small flashlight protects them. Somehow, whatever caused this, also caused all power to fail everywhere and also is causing the days to be shorter and shorter. They eventually all meet up in a bar that is powered by a gas powered generator and is basically the only safe place left in the city.

The issue I had is that nothing is explained. It's never really understood who is doing this. It's just shadows. You don't know the motivation, the cause and there's ultimately no resolution. How are shadow beings affecting the power? How are they making the days shorter? Why is any of this happening?

It is kind of creepy in parts, especially if you have issues with the dark or shadows. I wasn't terribly invested in anyone in the film. Although, there was a short moment at the end that tugged my heart strings a bit, but that involves a kid who's only in the movie for a moment.

This actually feels like something that could have been a TV movie or just an episode of a show like the Twighlight Zone. It's kind of interesting that this was directed by Brad Anderson, who has mostly worked on TV shows, so I guess that explains the TV feel.

Ultimately, I'd only recommend watching this if you catch it streaming or on cable. It's available streaming on Netflix, which is about as far as I'd go out of my way to watch it.

Cedar Rapids

Ed Helms plays an insurance salesman from a small town. He's a sweet guy, but very sheltered. It becomes pretty clear that he's never been outside of the small town he lives in. He's sent to a work conference in Cedar Rapids, which for him is like a normal person going to the big city for the first time, except at the end of the day, it's still just Cedar Rapids. At first he seems to have a hard time acclimating and relating to everyone, but eventually losens up, makes friends and eventually finds himself.

If it feels like I'm kind of just glossing over the the plot, it's because the plot of this movie really isn't the point. It's more about the characters and their interactions. The story itself really isn't all that interesting, but the characters are.

Fans of either John C. Reilly or Ed Helms should like this. The rest of the cast, is great as well. There are many recognizable actors here that show up and bring a little something to the movie.

Overall, I enjoyed this. It had a great cast, it's funny, sometimes sweet, with a little bit of raunch (mostly provided by John C. Reilly), but it's not over the top with it. However, I can see people not liking this. It's one of those comedies that's a little different and I can see it not being liked by everyone.

This one is a good rental for me.


Here's a simple one for you. This is basically about a fraternity prank gone wrong. Once the mistake is made, the frat boys continue to compound bad decision after bad decision. They keep doing stupid things to avoid getting in trouble, save for the one character that wants to do the right thing, but he still kinds of screws up himself.

If you want to see frat-boy douches screw up, then you'll like this all the more.

It has pretty good performances, despite it starring essentially a bunch of unknowns. Also, it's only about 80 minutes long, so it doesn't drag on too long and you don't have to invest a lot of time in this one.

This was written and directed by Will Canon and it looks like this was his first feature, so hopefully we can expect good things from him in the future.

I think it's worth a rental.


The main character, played my Michael Angarano, who appears to be an unsuccessful children's book writer, attempts to rekindle a friendship with an old best best and they take a road trip. However, it becomes clear the the main character is just a fast talking dude that was really masking the trip as a chance to sneak into a wedding to stalk Uma Thurman's character, whom he had a short fling with.

His best friend is a nice enough guy, but also the kind of guy that always lets a stronger friend or personality walk all over him, which happens here a lot. At times you want to sympathize with him, and later you might not like him for not standing up for himself enough. This is the thing I always have an issue with in a lot of Ben Stiller movies.

At times Angarano's fast talking character is amusing, and at other times I didn't like him cause he seemed like too much of a user. The drunk brother played by Jake M. Johnson was the bright spot for me. I thought he was consistently funny. It was also funny seeing Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) playing kind of arrogant ass in this, but he's not in it much.

It's really uneven for me. There are times I thought it was funny and times I couldn't stand either of the main characters. This was written and directed by Max Winkler, and this also appears to be his first feature, so maybe he'll improve over time. It just seems like he wasn't quite sure what kind of movie he wanted to make here.

This is also probably not worth going out of your way to rent, but if you catch it on cable, it wouldn't be a complete waste of your time.

The Eagle

Master thespian Channing Tatum plays a Roman centurion who goes on a mission to guessed Eagle. Actually it's a golden eagle standard, which is a symbol of Roman honor and was lost by his father years ago. As his father lost this symbol of honor, Tatum's family honor has been tarnished and he's on a mission to restore it and prove that his father was not a coward. As it's too dangerous to take an actual force into Northern Britain, he decides to go only with the aid of his Briton slave, played by Jamie Bell.

This has some brutal fight scenes, but it's really not that bloody. Also, the fight scenes are a little few and far between. There are lots of scenic shots and all, but I was hoping for more action. It's just a little too slowly paced for me.

I'll give Tatum credit. At least he's trying. He's still got a long ways to go before being a good actor though. I thought it was weird that all of the actors spoke in American accents, even though most of the actors were English. I don't know if this was an intentional decision or forced by the fact that you cast Channing Tatum as your lead and he probably can't pull off the accent. It was just distracting. Oh Mark Strong (Sinestro from Green Lantern) is in this briefly and is almost unrecognizable. Seems like a waste of a good actor.

This was directed by Kevin Macdonald, who directed The Last Kind of Scotland and State of Play, which I both really liked. I was a disappointed in this as a result.

It's not bad, but there's just nothing to get excited about. As I mentioned above, there isn't enough action, and you really don't care about any of the characters one way or another.

I suppose there are worse things you can rent, but I wouldn't go out of your way. If you get it on streaming or cable, then I'd go that route.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Tree of Life - Movie Review

Before I start, I'd like to give a little shout out to The Vine Theater and Alehouse in Livermore where I saw this. It's funny, I lived in Livermore for about 10 years and never once went to The Vine. It was a old theater that showed first run movies, when there were much newer and better theaters in the area. A few years back (I think after the new Livermore Cinemas opened), The Vine retooled the place into more of an art-house theater, but partnered with the Zephyr Grill next door. You can order food, and they have good beers on tap. I watched The Tree of Life while sipping on a pint of one of my favorite beers, Arrogant Bastard by Stone Brewery.

On to the movie...

It's funny that The Vine had a sign on the door that said, "No refunds or vouchers for The Tree of Life are given if you don't enjoy it or don't get it." That's your warning right there.

This is the latest movie by Terrence Malick, who also did The New World and The Thin Red Line. He's known for visually stunning, but somewhat polarizing movies. I don't think The Tree of Life will change that reputation.

So what is The Tree of Life about? Well for me, it was about life itself, and about family. The central story follows a single family, with the parents played by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain. There's very little dialog to this movie. A lot of it is muted and even the narration is sometimes whispered to the point where you might not hear what is being said. As a result, you might find it hard to follow at points, but for the most part the story is told with the visuals.

As I have sort of hinted at, at times The Tree of Life can be a bit confusing to follow. I wouldn't blame anyone for not understanding what is going on when watching this. I took a bit to get into it. The first ten minutes or so for me were kind of a mess. Then, it launches into a good 30 minutes of a Discovery Science episode about the universe and the planet. This sequence is beautiful to watch, and I love science stuff, so I didn't go nuts, but I found myself wondering what I was watching. After the Discovery Science episode, you go back to the following the family. You see the birth of children, them growing up, and how they are raised.

During this sequence is where Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain really shine. Pitt plays a very stern father, but I still felt like he was trying to love and teach his kids. I really got a lot out of emotion out of Chastain's performance. Jessica Chastain, who appears to be from the Bay Area, hasn't been in much that I'm aware of, but with performances like hers, I expect her to be in a lot more stuff moving forward.

The movie is beautiful, with some interesting camera work. The score for me was also very appropriate and haunting at points.

However, I wasn't as emotionally invested in this as I wanted to be or thought I was going to be going in. At times there were moments that were very real and easy to identify with, but there were also moments where I felt lost. Maybe I'm just an idiot. This is one of those movies that I think is going to mean different things to different people and affect everyone differently.

Unless you live close to a theater that is playing The Tree of Life, I wouldn't make a huge effort to see this in the theater. It's not that it's bad, I just think this is something that is better suited to seeing at home.

I'm going to give this a rental.

Bad Teacher - Movie Review

First off, I'm digging the trend of raunchy comedies starring mostly females or with female leads. I hope it continues, but that they don't run it into the ground. However, this is Hollywood we are talking about, so of course they are going to run it into the ground.

This movie is likely going to draw comparisons with Bad Santa simply because "Bad" is in the title. While there are a few similarities, this is nowhere near as good as Bad Santa. The interesting thing for me is that Bad Santa actually had some character growth that made sense. In Bad Teacher, it seems kind of forced. In fact, the plot itself really isn't all that good. There's a lot of randomness to this movie.

The Good:

- I like that Cameron Diaz took on a role like this. See was funny. It seems like she went out of her way early in her career to play sweet or goofy characters (and in some really bad movies). I think she waited too long for this unfortunately. Still, I hope this isn't the last time she does something like this.
- As much as I want to hate him as a guy, Justin Timberlake was pretty good in this. I only say 'hate' because the guy just seems to have a charmed life. It's hard not to be a little envious of the guy. He's been in some good movies so far though, so maybe he'll turn out to have a good movie career.
- The supporting cast, in general, was pretty good. I felt that some of the funnier parts of the movie involved some of the supporting characters.
- There are many funny bits in this. Yes, it's raunchy comedy, but I never felt like anything was too mean or disgusting.

The Bad:
- Not enough Jason Segel. It seems like the only scenes he's in the movie you see in the trailer. He'd be in a scene and then disappear for like 20 minutes. You'd almost forget he was supposed to be in this until he shows up again.
- As I mentioned before, the plot is kind of weak. It's basically about a teacher that hates teaching and then wants to buy a pair of fake tits to get a guy to like her.
- I mentioned the randomness. It seems like they would just setup a joke or bit and then nothing would happen for a few minutes and then they'd do the next joke. It was like an SNL episode without the commercials.
- There isn't a lot of character development for Cameron Diaz's character. You really don't have a lot of reason to like her and when she eventually turns things around, it seems to just kind of come out of thin air.

The Verdict:

Overall, I thought this was funny enough that I enjoyed it, but didn't really think it was anything special or extraordinary. This is a good matinee, and once again, is a movie that's better to see with friends after having a few drinks.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Green Lantern - Movie Review

I'd have to call this the first true misfire of the summer so far. With all of the negative press and how bad the trailer looked, I wasn't expecting much anyway. Well, I didn't get much. I'm pretty disappointed in this.

For a movie that's about a superhero that I'd have to say isn't the most popular, or well known among the general public, you really have to make sure you explain everything well and have a compelling story. They attempt to explain the entire Green Lantern history to you in the first few minutes, but it's all too quick and neat. They just tell you what happened instead of showing you what happened. If you're just going to tell the story through narration and voiceover, then why make a movie about it? I can read the backstory myself. It kind of defeats the whole point of making a movie about it.

My main complaint about this is the same complaint I had about Kill The Irishman: They try to tell too much story in a short period of time. It seems like there were sequences and relationships that should have been fleshed out much more, especially when he reaches the planet Oa and the character of Sinestro. These scenes are way too short. With a runtime of only 1 hour and 45 min, they could have made this a bit longer and taken the time to explain things better.

If they want to make this a trilogy, it seems they could have done a better job of setting up relationships and characters. It's like they needed to watch X-Men: First Class to see how they should have done this.

The performances and cast were all fine, they just aren't given that much to work with. I'd have to say that I didn't like the character of Hal Jordan all that much. Again, I don't really blame that on Ryan Reynolds, as I just don't think the character is written that well. Maybe that's how he's supposed to be in the comics? I don't know.

For example, after training with the Green Lanterns for only like five minutes, he just goes, "Being a Green Lantern is hard! I quit!", and he just goes home. Plus, they just let him keep the ring. If this ring is supposed to be so powerful and this is first human that's been given the opportunity, you would think they'd make him give the ring back. "Hey, if you're going to quit like a bitch, then you can just give that ring back, human!"

Plus, the villain is just not interesting or compelling. When the climatic battle scene finally happens, you just don't care and it resolves without much difficulty even. It wraps up too neatly to the point where I was like, "Oh, that was convenient."

During the credits there's a reveal that really only makes sense at all to people that have read the comics. If you haven't read them, you see the reveal and are just like, "Um, okay. That seems kind of out of nowhere." It's just not setup well at all.

The effects aren't bad. The clearly put some money into it, but when the power of Green Lantern ring is to make anything the wearer can think of, you'd think they'd be a little more imaginative with it.

As for the 3D, it doesn't do anything for this one. In the theater I saw it in, the 3D was so dark that several times I took the glasses off in order to see better. I just wasn't impressed at all by it.

It's not an awful movie, it's just 'blah'. The whole thing just kind of a 'TV movie' feel to me. Nothing really excited me, made me laugh, or kept me interested. It was missing all of the things that have been in the movies I've enjoyed so far this summer.

I really don't recommend seeing this in the theater. Wait for video and hopefully they'll release a extended or director's cut by then.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Midnight in Paris - Movie Review

I had the pleasure, and I do mean pleasure, of seeing this movie last night. It's kind of interesting, because I've been really hard on Woody Allen movies lately, in fact, I wrote up how I didn't like You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger and thinking Woody Allen had lost it. I didn't think I'd be recommending one of his movies just a few weeks later. Plus, this stars Owen Wilson, who just starred in Hall Pass, which I didn't really like and just posted my review for.

How do I even describe this movie? I really don't want to spoil anything. Owen Wilson plays a writer who's vacationing in Paris with his fiance, played by Rachel McAdams, who a bit of a materialistic bitch, and her parents, who are even more materialistic and bitchy. Owen is a Hollywood script writer who's been trying to write a novel, only he seems like he's unsure that his writing is any good and perhaps even suffering from a bit of writers block. He's thinking his time in Paris should be inspiring him to write better and is even debating moving there. He seems to really love the city, where his fiance and family are more interested in shopping.

They spend their days exploring Paris with a couple of friends, who Owen Wilson clearly doesn't like being around, particularly her 'pedantic' friend, played by Michael Sheen. Eventually, Owen Wilson decides to kind of go off on his own and stumbles on to what he initially believes is some kind of throwback theme party with everyone playing famous writers and artists of the past. Only, after talking to everyone he realizes that somehow he's with the actual people and he's in some kind of time warp. I'm going to call it the 'midnight realm' for the rest of the review.

The next morning he's back in his normal life, excited about what just happened, and motivated. He tries to go back to the 'midnight realm' the next day with his fiance, only for her to get bored waiting around and she leaves just before midnight. Owen has another interesting night in the 'midnight realm' and continues to go back each night meeting more interesting people. He's not just enjoying it, but he also is getting inspiration and help with his writing.

The best way I can describe my feeling about the movie is 'joy'. About two thirds of the way through this movie I found myself smiling and realized I had been smiling for most of the movie. It doesn't even matter if you are up on your literature or art history, most of the names will be familiar to you. You're more into the fact that Wilson's character is so excited and caught up into it. This is the kind of movie that makes you want to go to Wikipedia afterwards and read up on all of these guys.

The actors playing all of historical artists and writers are all great, particularly Corey Stoll, who played Ernest Hemingway. Tom Hiddleston (Loki from Thor) and Alison Pill (Kim Pine from Scott Pilgrim) show up as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Kathy Bates shows up as Gertrude Stein and a hilarious Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali. There are many others well.

Even Owen Wilson, who sometimes annoys the hell out of me, was great. I think this role was made for him and it's probably his best performance. Marion Cotillard also wonderful. Her characters is essentially the mistress of several of the people in the 'midnight realm' and she's just cute as hell. Even with Rachel McAdams it was nice to see her play a role that didn't require her to be sweet or cute for a change.

There just isn't a bad performance in the movie.

My only complaint about the movie, that it's not longer. I could have watched this for another hour and I wished they spent more time with each of the characters. Ultimately, I think that's why it works. The essence of the story is about how we tend to romanticize the past and always think of that as the Golden Age instead of just dealing with the present. If the movie had spent too much time during the sequences in the past, it might have spoiled the movie and kind of gone against the point. It's good that they leave you wanting more.

Midnight in Paris is charming and funny and this is probably in my top five favorite films of the year so far. I wouldn't be shocked at all to see a few Oscar nominations thrown at this one.

Anyway, I highly recommend going out and seeing this movie in the theater. It's worth playing full price, but this would be a great afternoon matinee followed by a drinks or coffee. It's a great date movie. Go see it!

This week in DVD - June 16th

Drive Angry

I kind of put this in that category of it's so bad, it's good. Nick Cage plays a guy that is hunting down a man. Why? Well, you don't know at first. It's all kind of revealed gradually, so I won't spoil too much here. You have William Fichtner, as "The Accountant", tracking Nick Cage down. It becomes clear early on that The Accountant is some kind of supernatural being, which brings into question what exactly Nick Cage is. Nick Cage picks up a tough waitress, played by Amber Heard, who agrees to come along with him.

They drive around (angrily apparently), shoot stuff up, fight, etc. The action is actually pretty good. This was shot in 3D, so you get a lot stuff thrown at the camera throughout the film.

The highlight here is William Fichtner. He's really great as The Accountant and easily the best part of the movie. You can tell he really enjoyed himself making this and he's just chewing up scenery. I've always felt he was an underappreciated actor and movies like this show why.

I was kind of upset that we didn't get the over-the-top Nick Cage here. This movie would have been perfect for it. He's much more subdued here.

Don't get me wrong, this is not a good movie, but I actually enjoyed the hell out of this. Get it! Hell! Do you see what I did there?

If you're in the mode for a dumb, action film, then give this a rental.

Black Death

Sean Bean plays, um... I mean Ulric. Seriously though, he's wearing the same outfit from Lord of the Rings. This movie is set in medieval England during the plague. Borom...I mean Ulric and his group are trying to track down someone they believe to be a necromancer and is living in a town that is somehow untouched by the plague. They recruit a monk, played by Eddie Redmayne (which is an awesome name for a Viking, except he's not a Viking) to go with them. The monk happened to have been looking for a sign to leave the monastery, as he had secretly fallen in love with a woman and wanted to follow after her. He takes the opportunity to follow Ulric as they needed someone from the Church on their quest.

They eventually find the city where the necromancer is living. That's about as far as I can get without spoiling major plot points.

There are some gruesome deaths in the movie that fans of movies like Braveheart will enjoy, but I felt like that stuff came too far and between. The movie felt like it wasn't made on a very large budget, that's probably why they asked Sean Bean to be in the movie. I'm sure they were like, "Hey, he might still have his LotR outfit in a closet somewhere. That should save us a few bucks!"

Ultimately, I liked it. They did some interesting things with the story and kind of left a few things up for you to interpret at the end

I'd say it's worth renting.

Hall Pass

The problem I have with this movie is that the entire premise is implausible. Do you know anyone, in a 'normal' relationship, that has ever actually been granted a Hall Pass? Neither have I. It's like making a movie who's premise is that you actually get to meet and sleep with one of the celebrities on your top five free pass list. It never happens. Actually, that wouldn't make for a bad movie if done right. I'm trademarking that here, right now! June 15th, 2011. I just wrote up a one page draft. I'm totally cereal.

I think the other part that's hard for me to wrap my head around is that the wives, played by the always adorable Jenna Fischer and the still doable Christina Applegate, are two women that I think most guys would be pretty happy to be married to. Their husbands, played by Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis, are shlubby and dorky, who think that they would just be rolling deep in women if it weren't for their wives. I have a hard time identifying with the guys because of this. Anyway, the wives cleary understand that their husband's really have no chance with the ladies, which is why I think they go through with the hall pass in the first place.

They did do a few things right here. It was funny to see how guys that have been married for a long time and out of the game find that they don't have it anymore. They spend their first few nights of freedom just going to places like Applebee's and then going to bed early. As a guy, unless you are going to clubs and trying to hookup, it's hard to set something up in just a week, unless you get lucky with a slutty waitress or something.

I'm also glad they touched on the fact that the wives are the ones that had a much easier time finding someone in that week's timeframe, cause lets face it, that's the reality of it. If you're a resonably attractive woman, there's almost always some horny guy waiting for an opportunity to throw himself at you. The same can't be said for men. That's my experience anyway.

It ultimately tries to be sweet, like they were trying to make their own version of a Judd Apatow movie, and I think it failed on that front. I guess you could argue that Apatow was just doing better versions Farrelly Brothers movies though. Anyway, it's really uneven. There are some good laughs, but then are large stretches where you feel like there's nothing funny at all. There's some gross out stuff that may either make you laugh hysterically, or be disgusted. The Farrelly Brothers don't seem to have the magic touch they had back in the There's Something About Mary days.

If you aren't a fan of the recent trend of male frontal nudity in comedy films, then there's a scene in this you really won't be into. They do balance it out with some nice female frontal nudity though. Either way, it was unnecessary.

If you do watch this, make sure you watch through the credits, as the best part of the movie happens then.

I'd only say to rent this if you are absolutely bored and have nothing else to do. Otherwise, wait for streaming or cable. Even then, it's still not for everyone.

Kill the Irishman

Here's another one for fans of docu-dramas about gangsters. This is like Goodfellas, but starring an Irish American. This is the story of Danny Green, who was a real gangster in Cleveland back in the 60-70's. He basically starts out taking over a union and slowly getting himself involved in the mob and eventually competing and warring against them. He's befriended by local mobster, played by Vincent D'Onofrio, and gains the backing of a loan shark, played by Christopher Walken.

Danny Green is played by Ray Stevenson, who you might remember at Titus Pullo from the Rome series or in the last Punisher film (but nobody saw that). He's the best part about the movie for me and it's easy to follow him.

The problem with the movie is that there are plot points that are introduced and then just abandoned without any resolution or explanation. The movie seems to jump around almost too quickly. Val Kilmer is in this movie and his character seemed totally thrown into the movie. He had so little to do and almost nothing to do with the main story other than being the narrator.

This is an example of a movie that actually should have bee a little longer, so they could have explained certain things better and not jumped around so quickly. It probably would have been more interesting. The run time is about and hour and 45 minutes, but it seems an even two hours might have told a more complete story.

It's not a bad movie. If like movies like Goodfellas and Casino, then I think you'll get some entertainment value out of this. Just don't expect to be wowed and understand going in that certain things won't be explained well.

It's worth a rental though.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

This week in DVD - June 12th

Just Go With It

I had my expectations really lowered here, so it helped me get through it. It's still a pretty bad movie, but I at least got a few laughs out of it.

The entire premise of the films is based on a lie so ridiculous that it's hard to believe he even attempted to keep it up so long. Adam Sandler is a bachelor that wears a fake wedding ring as he's found it helps him meet women. He hooks up with a girl, played by Brooklyn Decker, that he actually likes, but she ends up finding his ring and naturally assumes he's married. This obviously is a problem for her. In a panic, Sandler tells her he's going through a divorce and then elists this aid of his friend, played by Jennifer Aniston and her two annoying kids, to help sell the lie.

It's needlessly elaborate. There are much simpler excuses he could have given that would have gotten him out of this mess on the first day. I would get exhausted after a day or two and said, "Okay, I'm sorry, but I'm full of shit. This is what's really going on. I'm a doctor and I wear a fake ring to keep the gold diggers away", or, "I get hit on a lot, so I wear a ring so I don't have to deal with it." I've actually seen girls do this, so I'm not sure why this wouldn't work for guys, too.

Anyway, this is still yet another romantic comedy that uses the typical convention where the movie would resolve itself if in ten minutes if the characters would just communicate and say what they are thinking. It's so irritating.

The soundtrack was gratingly awful. I don't mind The Police, but every other song was by them and then they were doing these awful mash-ups of lyrics to modern songs mixed with 80's songs.

Lastly, another annoyed was yet another romantic comedy trope I can't stand they used here is the trying on clothes music montage. Can this be retired from all romantic comedies?

I thought the kids in the movie were annoying. They seemed a little too young to be so manipulative. Another bad thing about this movie is that it's nearly two hours long. This is like an episode of Three's Company stretched out over two hours. At certain points I just wanted this to end. For a movie that's as long as it is, it's just not that funny. I got a few chuckles, but nothing that made me laugh out loud.

I think the banter between Jennifer Aniston and Sandler is the only thing that worked for me.. I felt that those two actually clicked in their scenes together. In fact, Jennifer Aniston is probably the only good thing about this film. Well, that and slo-motion shots of Brooklyn Decker.

This is the perfect definition of something you rent when you have nothing else to do or watch on HBO or something.

The Company Men

This is a movie featuring a theme that I always find hard to watch. It's a movie about downsizing and people losing their jobs. This is never fun to watch. Who doesn't fear that themselves or know someone that's dealt with it...recently?

The movie starts with Ben Affleck, who appears to be just a typical corporate upper management-type going in to work. His company decides to downsize and he's one of the first casualties. However, you start out really not liking Ben Affleck's character as he's a bit on the arrogant side after losing his job. He just assumes he's going to get a new job in a week or two and continues to spend money on frivolous things to keep up appearances His priorities are out of whack and it's hard to like or sympathize with him at first. Eventually, he comes back down to Earth though. His performance is fine, it's just the character you might not like. I guess that's the point though.

The performances from Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper and Kevin Costner are all great here.

I actually enjoyed this film until the end, which I felt like the end of kind of a cop out. The whole movie is about people losing their jobs, desperation, with a little bit of corporate greed thrown in, but then they still try to give a happy ending which just felt like a sudden change in tone and out of place.

I'd still say this is worth a rental.


Okay, this is a weird one. If you have a hard time watching foreign, subtitled films, then you can probably stop reading now.

The main character, played by Javier Bardem, I guess is some kind of criminal. It's not really clear what exactly he is and I didn't think they every really explained it. He's some kind of drug or human trafficker. He's also some kind of sweat shop boss, yet he seems to care about the people he's exploiting. You see him a few times very concerned about their well being. I guess he's the criminal with the heart of gold.

Well, we find out very early on in the movie that he appears to be dying of prostate cancer and he only has a few months to live. He basically spends the movie trying to tie up the loose ends in his life, trying to reconcile with his ex wife (who you see sleeping with his brother at the beginning of his film), and making sure his two young kids are taken care of. As he gets sicker, he totally falls apart in the movie. He pees blood, etc. It's not pretty.

Don't get me wrong, Bardem is great. He really can say a lot with just a look. There's a lot going on in his eyes, and I don't mean that in a, "I got lost in his eyes" way. There's just a lot going on there.

However, the movie is excruciatingly long. It's two and half hours and paced very slowly. With all the random stuff in the movie that didn't seem to relate to the main story, it seems they could have trimmed a good 40 minutes out of the movie and told the same story. Here are some examples:

- There's a weird-ass scene where they go to strip club, but all the strippers asses have nipples on them and at first look like giant boobs. Then, they show you a full body shot and she has a giant tit-head. It's like they were suddenly in the Star Wars Cantina. Sure, it's interesting thing to watch, but what did it have to do with the movie?

- There's a thread about two Asian, gay lovers, that I'm not sure what it had to do with the plot. Their inital role is that they are Bardem's underlings running the sweat shop with him, but the plot about them being lovers didn't have anything to do with the rest of the film.

- Also, it appears that Bardem's character is also psychic. There are several scenes of him being paid by people to communicate with the dead, kind of like in Hereafter. Along with that, there are several times where he actually sees the dead people, like just hanging from the ceiling. You almost don't notice it at first. It seems like this would have made for a good horror film if they had explored it, but again, I'm not really sure what that point had to do with the main story.

I caught myself taking several micro-naps during the last forty minutes.

Anyway, maybe I completely missed the point of this film or something was lost in translation, but I'm not going to sit here and tell you this movie is great or brilliant in an attempt to sound smarter, like I get it and you don't.

The director of this film, Alejando Inaritu, also directed Babel, which was another movie that I thought had needless plot threads, so maybe this is just his style.

If any of the above sounds interesting to you, then you might enjoy the rental, but otherwise, I can't really recommend this to anyone.


Boy, was this awful! Don't be fooled by James Cameron's name on this. He's only the executive producer. He didn't write or direct this. I can only assume he was involved because he saw it as an opportunity to show off his 3D technology in an underwater movie. Cameron has always had some weird water fetish, so maybe that's why he got involved.

The initial premise of the movie itself isn't going to be all that appealing to most people. It's about a bunch of dorks exploring a cave that is largely underwater in order to map it out. If you have issues with enclosed spaces or being underwater, this is really going to be a picnic for you. Anyway, the 'expert' cave explorers are financed by some American billionare, and why he has to be American, I have no idea. He's played by Ioan Gruffudd, who's Welsh, but speaking with an American accent for some, but all of the explorers appear to be Australian. I really don't understand the reason he needed to be made American, other than to say the douchey rich guy is an American. I was distracted by this, but granted if you don't know who Ioan Gruffudd is (he was in the Fantastic Four movies), then you probably won't notice this.

So the explorers are warned that a storm is coming and instead of getting out in time, like normal people, they decide to push their departure to the point where it becomes too late and now they are stuck there with the cave slowly flooding and now they have to swim their way out, only they haven't finished mapping the cave, so they don't even know if they can get out or not.

At this point, people start dropping like flies. The problem is that you don't like any of the characters at all, so when they start dying, you just don't care. If they had made the deaths a little more entertaining, then I would have enjoyed this as a campy horror film, but this is trying to be a serious film. The father is kind of a dick, his son is a whiny bitch, the american billionaire is a douche, and his girlfriend is just some dumb chick. At one point she outright refuses the suggestion of the 'expert' cave explorer and she pays for it. You're like, "That's what you get for not listening to someone that knows what he's talking about and you clearly don't." You almost want these people to die. It's that bad.

The dialog and acting are just awful. Like SyFy channel bad. The female leads seemed totally out of place, like all of her dialog was dubbed in after.

I kept waiting for some kind of alien or monster to be in the water. This movie desperately needed that.

Skip this movie hard!!

Super 8 - Movie Review

If this review seems a little scatter-shot, it's because I just got back from a celebration of the Dallas Mavericks beating the horrible, offensive Miami Heat. I had a few celebratory drinks at Buffalo Wild Wings. :)

It's also might be a shorter review, because I just don't have that much to say about the movie.

Anyway, is Super 8 worth the hype? Unfortunately, I have to say no. It's a lot of a setup for a pretty disappointing payoff. Is it a bad movie? Not really. I actually enjoyed it for a lot of reasons:

- It's totally nostalgic for the 70's.
- The performances, especially of the kids, are all good.
- The kids were funny. Kind of Goonies-ish, except there was no Data (and I don't mean Data from Star Trek).
- Elle Fanning is a star in waiting. If you really want to see her shine watch Phoebe in Wonderland. It's one of the few times I found myself emotionally moved by a child's performance in a movie. After seeing that movie I thought she was a better actress than Dakota and I stand by that still.
- Kyle Chandler, who pretty much the main adult, made me think of a young Robert Forster.
- They did a great job of keeping you in suspense of what was causing all of this.

J.J. Abrams: I like you, and I credit you for trying, but you have to cut back on the lens flare. Seriously, I was like ten minutes into the movie and I was like, "Woah! Lens Flare!" It's throughout the movie. It kind of made sense in Star Trek, but in Super 8 it's needlessly distracting.

However, I do credit him and Spielberg for doing a good job of keeping us in the dark about the movie and not spoiling anything the trailers. I'm tired of trailers showing you half the frigging movie before it's out.

Oh yeah, don't leave when the credits start or you'll miss the best part of the movie.

Overall, this is a total matinee.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last Week in DVD - Week of May 30th-June 5th.

Last weekend I was a little light on new releases and mainly catching up on TV shows, so I took advantage of Netflix streaming and went through a few documentaries I've been meaning to watch.


Great documentary about soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. The are stationed in the Korengal Valley, which is pretty much the most dangerous place on Earth. A living hell. They are constantly under fire. Many times throughout the documentary you hear bullets just whizzing by overheard just feet away from where they are.

There's no real structure or story here. It's more of a turn on the cameras and watch the soldiers go through it all. Just another day in the life of a soldier fighting in the war.

I liked it a lot. It's just about the soldiers, with no politics or commentary, just their words and emotions.

Another interesting, and sad, thing is that the photojournalist that filmed this, Tim Hetherington died just a few weeks ago covering the civil war over in Libya.

I highly recommend renting this.

The Transcendent Man

Interesting documentary about Ray Kurzweil and his predictions for how technology will affect humanity in the next 25-40 years. He basically thinks that based on the current rate of advancement seen over the last 40 years, the next 40 years will see advancements that basically will begin to blur the line between man and machines. Technology will develop to the point where it will slow our aging and eventually allow us to live indefinitely.

They also discuss the potential advances of AI and their impact. Kurzweil's predictions are met with varying reaction and responses and other scientists are interviewed as part of the documentary to provide their opinion and insight. Not everyone agrees with Kurzweil and it's good that they included differing opinions.

Overall I thought it was very entertaining and worth watching.

Naked Ambition: An R-Rated Look at an X-Rated Industry

This one was just kind of meh. I've seen other documentaries about the porn industry that were more interesting than this. Now that I think about it, I wouldn't even really call this an documentary about porn. The only parts of this movie that I would call documentary-ish are when they follow the story of a few starlets nominated for best new performer at the AVN awards. The irony is that the eventual winner was not someone he interviewed.

The rest of the movie was more about photographer Michael Grecco taking pictures for his book, so this is really more of a documentary about a guy making an art book that just happens to be about porn, rather than being about porn itself. Grecco several times throughout the documentary seems to be more star struck by some of the performers and excited about some of the people he was able to get to agree to be photographed for his book. "Look at all the cool porn people I got to be in my book!" Sorry, that's just not very interesting. There's one kind of funny scene where Evan Stone basically tells him to piss off.

Even if the subject matter is something of interest to you, I'd still wouldn't recommend watching it. I thought it was pretty much a waste of time.

On to regular movies...

My Big Fat Independent Movie

This is an older DVD back from 2005, but was recently brought to my attention, so I thought I'd give it a watch. This was written and produced by Chris Gore, who I normally like on Attack of the Show. It's kind of surprising that a critic known for independent films could have written and produced this turd. This was truly awful in the league of the Friedberg and Selzter, who are responsible for all of the awful parody movies (Date Movie, Epic Move, Meet that Spartans, etc).

This is parody of the worst kind. It's just stringing together bad references from better films, only none of it is actually funny. It's completely unfunny. Worse yet, they are attempting to parody films that are generally well liked by most people: Pulp Fiction, Swingers and Memento just to name a few. In retrospect those movies almost seem mainstream. Many of the movies he references were at least five to ten years old at the time he made this, so the references weren't even timely. It ends up coming off as petty and jealous for not coming up with the original idea themselves. Chris Gore seems like a hater for making this movie.

This features terrible performances across the board from people you've never heard of and will likely never see again, expect for a a shocking cameo by Bob Odenkirk. I say shocking because I'm shocked he was in it. He's better than this. He must have done this as a favor for someone involved in the production, because I can't believe he got paid for this or needed the $10 this production could afford to pay him.

I've seen Chris Gore on Attack of the Show advise people to not watch movies just like this one and I advise you to not watch his movie. It's frigging terrible!

The Rite

I thought this just sucked. It's boring to the point of being sleep inducing and I actually did fall asleep at around the 40 minute mark and then had to go back about 20 minutes after my nap. Anthony Hopkins seemed to be enjoying himself with his performance. He's just chewing up scenery. That's about the only good thing about The Rite. The main character, played by Colin O'Donoghue, was just awful and totally uncharismatic. I've never heard of this guy before, but if he continues to give performances like this, nobody else will ever hear of this guy either. Alice Braga is also in this and was pretty forgettable as well.

There's nothing scary about The Rite at all. In fact, it seems at parts that they just were excessively loud in an effort to convey terror, but all it did was make me keep turning the volume down. Lastly, it's way too long of a film for it being as boring as it is.

Skip it.

Gnomeo and Juliet

I thought it was okay. There were some clever moments, but overall I wasn't thrilled by it. It's just wasn't witty enough to keep me interested. It's only about 84 minutes though. If you have kids, then they'll probably get a kick out of it.

Rent it if you have kids. I think it's a borderline rental for anyone else.

Get Low

This is an interesting movie about a hermit, played by Robert Duvall, who decides to throw a funeral for himself, but while he's still alive. The difference is that he wants it to be more of a party where anyone can attend and he wants people to show up and tell a story about him. He hires the local funeral parlor owner, played by Bill Murray, to throw the party. Murray's character is looking at this as an opportunity to make some big money.

Robert Duval was great, but I don't expect anything less from him. I also really enjoyed Bill Murray's performance. He has just that right amount of slimy business man.

It's a slower paced film and took me a little bit before I was into it, but overall I really enjoyed it. If you like Robert Duval and Bill Murray, you'll enjoy this strictly on the strength of their performances. The movie itself has it's funny moments and really strikes a good balance between being funny and having some emotional moments.

This is a strong rental recommendation.

Fair Game

I didn't mind this either. I thought the performances were from Sean Penn and Naomi Watts were very good and it wasn't too preachy on the politics. Don't get me wrong, this is a political film, but I didn't think they were beating you over the head with it. At points I felt like I was watching a documentary, and now I have to confess my ignorance, as I didn't even realize when I started watching this that it was based on recent events and real people. I thought this was going to be more of a political thriller, than a biopic.

This is essentially the story of Valerie Plume, who was an undercover CIA agent. She's married to Joseph Wilson, a diplomat who is asked by the CIA to go to Niger and find out if yellowcake uranium is being obtained by Iraq to make WMDs. Valerie's cover is blown by the White House in part to discredit Wilson after he suggests that the intelligence was manipulated to invade Iraq. At this point the movie becomes as much about the media fallout as how this affects Plume and Wilson's marriage.

I thought this movie really struck a good balance between being a biopic, a political thriller and a drama about a couple who's marriage is almost destroyed by the events in the film. The strength of Penn and Watts' performance are what make the drama work here.

A good rental recommendation here.

That's it for now. Later this week I should have reviews of The Company Men, Biutiful, Sanctum, Just Go With It and Super 8.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

X-Men: First Class - Movie Review

This was kind of an interesting day for me. I call it a lesson in keeping an open mind on a film you have strong feelings about. Just before seeing this movie, I was having a burger and talking to my friend, Janelle, about this movie. I was telling her how I was planning on writing two reviews for this movie: One, a normal review based solely on its merits as a movie and, Two, a review from a biased, X-Men comic reader's perspective.

After seeing X-Men: First Class, I'm abandoning my planned second review. It's irrelevant. Why? I loved this movie so much that I don't even care about the liberties this movie took with the X-Men characters and canon. Seriously, I forgive it for that. X-Men: First Class is so good that I forgive Fox for X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

This is my favorite X-Men film. I put it ahead of either of the first two X-Men films. Yes, I think it's that good. It's very well paced, well acted and surprisingly emotional.

I was ready to just shit all over the things they did with some of the characters. I was especially ready to crap all over January Jones and how I thought she was miscast as Emma Frost. Well, she was miscast. First off, Emma Frost is a British character. Considering the other actors and actresses they got for this movie, they couldn't have gotten a Brit for the role? Can January Jones not do an English accent at all? She was really wooden. I maintain that January Jones seems like she gets no joy out of acting. It's like she's just reading the lines and trying to get through it. She looks the part, but man, she can't pull the character off.

If they had only told this kind of story about Anakin Skywalker, the prequels would have been so much better. I say this because for me, X-Men: First Class is basically about how Erik Lehnsherr becomes Magneto, similar to how the prequels were supposed to be about how Anakin becomes Vader. Only, with X-Men, the story is so much more compelling and believable. And it only took them a single, two-hour movie to do it. Michael Fassbender is just fantastic as Magneto. They really could have made an entire movie about the first 30 minutes of his performance. It has such and awesome, retro, 007 feel to it that I was just so into it. I could see another movie about his character easily!

James McAvoy is great as a young Professor Xavier. I wasn't convinced when I heard about his casting in the role, but he really pulled it off. I thought he was just fantastic.

Jennifer Lawrence, who is pretty much my favorite young actress, is also great as Mystique. Although I'm probably a little mesmerized by her in general. I just can't take my eyes off her.

The rest of the casting was great as well. Rose Byrne was really well cast as Moira MacTaggert, but like with Jennifer Lawrence, I could look at Rose Byrne all day.

I've heard some complaints about Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw. I really can't fault anything about his performance. However, I can fault the motivation of how his character was written. I can't really blame that on Bacon though. Even reading the comics as a kid, I never really thought the character of Sebastian Shaw was all that interesting. The Hellfire Club, for me, was always about the Black and White Queen. Seems like they kind of didn't know what to do with his character and as a result, he seemed a little too out there as far as his motivation went.

The only thing cheesy about the movie is how they had to shoehorn some of the names and terms familiar to the X-Men universe. You'll realize what I mean when you see it. That's about it. The cheesy, shoehorning and the casting of January Jones as Emma Frost. There were some problems with the design (clothes and hair styles that aren't from the period) and I found it odd that Emma Frost's diamond skin power seemed to extend to the clothes she was wearing, but I blame that more of the design and effects teams.

I'm so buying this movie on Blu-Ray when it comes out! I would love to see another movie or two based in this universe with these actors and the same people behind it.

I give this movie my highest recommendation of the Summer season so far. Full price!!!