Saturday, March 29, 2008

Review; Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]

Wristcutters: A Love Story
Review By: Kelsey Zukowski
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Shea Whigham, Leslie Bibb
Directed By: Goran Duvic
Written By: Goran Duvic, Etgar Keret
Released: 2006
Grade: B+

The whole point of suicide is supposed to be an escape out of the misery that life can pile up on you. However, what if suicide really wasn’t a way out of anything? What if after committing suicide not only did your existence continue but it led you to a more depressing world void of anything and everything that you did love in your past life? This is the setting of Wristcutters: A Love Story. Goran Duvic created this very unique and intriguing film based on the short story, Kneller’s Happy Campers, by Etgar Keret. Duvic builds off of Keret’s ideas of the afterlife with a mix of gloominess yet fun quirkiness at the same time to share his insights on suicide, death, life, love, and inevitable beauty.

Zia (Fugit) felt completely in love with his girlfriend Desiree (Bibb). When she broke up with him though, he just couldn’t see the point of life anymore. So Zia killed himself and didn’t up in hell, heaven, or even in a non-existence state. Instead he ends up in an afterlife that seems like the same old thing as his previous one, except worse. He gets a job at a pizza shop and finds a place to live with his boss who he ends up constantly having arguments with. Everyone in this world committed suicide and ended up here. It is very hot and no one is very smiley. It is essentially a waste land with a few run down places and people who don’t really want to be there, but are stuck there. Zia does make friends with Eugene, A Russian failed rock star. Oddly enough, his entire family is here; they all killed themselves. The closeness seems to be one of the few joys that Zia has seen. He was never very close with his family, but he wonders what having them around would have been like now that it is impossible. More than anything he misses Desiree more than ever.

There seems to be hope when Zia suddenly hears that Desiree killed herself not too long after Zia did. He convinces Eugene to come with him to go on a search for long lost love. They really have no idea where to go, but they do pick up a hitchhiker, Mikal (Sossamon), on their way. She feels that she doesn’t belong here and just wants to go back home. Mikal is on her own search because of this, to those who are in charge of the suicide afterworld. She is hoping she will be able to convince them that she shouldn’t be here and to let her go back. Zia gets closer in finding Desiree, but it turns out that she has moved. They both continue looking and they end up at a campsite where miracles seem to occur. It is rumored that a real miracle of a man removing his soul from his body so he can teach others how to live in a more appealing afterworld. Eugene falls in love with a mute girl who throat sings and Zia and Mikal get to the point where they either have to turn away from what they have been fighting for or find alternatives that may be better.

Patrick Fugit does incredible as Zia in this film. There is such desperation to him, yet there seems to be no solution to it. Even though he was happy when he was with Desiree it is clear that he puts her so high that she is just the way to solve the problems that he has and hopes she will make his gloomy atmosphere perfect. I liked that he wasn’t as gloomy as his atmosphere seemed though. Sure he wasn’t happy with anything really, but he still seemed like someone we could relate to. Shannyn Sossamon brings great life even when her character, Makil, is dead. She brings hope as she believes that there can be a way out of this. She is very down to earth and caring, which works off of the others characters very well. Shea Whigham is very funny as the more ballsy and slightly perverted guy. In the end he remains to be a good friend, he doesn’t even have to be on this trip but is doing it for Zia and later Mikal too.

Wristcutters: A Love Story is different than any other movie I have seen, particularly about suicide. It depicts it as a very negative thing obviously and brings out the fact that it doesn’t solve anything. When Zia is having a hard time, he thinks about killing himself again, but fears waking up somewhere once again even worse than where he is now. Also, it is brought up that these people are just like everyone else. They have troubles, they just weren’t strong enough to face them. The film seems much more optimistic than most about suicide. It gives the appropriate balance between the darkness of wanting to die and just feeling worse and more helpless after and a splash of hope and harmonious connection between others. Now the ending isn’t perfect and I could see it disappointing some viewers. However, it seemed necessary with everything the film had worked so hard to establish through out the film.

Miracles are a major part of the film. Zia becomes obsessed with the miracles that people at the camp are able to do. They are simple things like floating in the air or making something change colors. They are meaningless and don’t really change anything. Zia doesn’t seem to have the ability to contribute to them though and wants to so desperately. However, it can only be achieved if you don’t want to and are not even thinking about it. Zia just can’t get it out of his mind though. This has a lot to do with patience. If he would have given himself time, he could have either gotten back together with Desiree in his old life or he could have moved on, possibly to something even better. Also when someone is in the dire situation to even consider suicide, often they are hoping that there is something that can stop them. A reason to go on living is what they are really looking for, some miracle that can help them find the beauty in life again. Wristcutters: A Love Story goes further to show us that there can be amazing appeal in everything, even the most simple things that you may not really appreciate. You just have to be able to recognize and appreciate it when it presents itself.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Review: Southland Tales (2007) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Richard Kelly
Written by: Richard Kelly
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Sci-Fi / Thriller
MPAA: Rated R for language, violence, sexual material and some drug content.
Released: USA 14 November 2007 (limited)
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mandy Moore, Justin Timberlake.

Plot: Los Angeles, 2008: The city stands on the brink of social, economic and environmental disaster. Southland Tales is an epic story set over the course of threedays that culminate in a massive 4th of July celebration. A large ensemble cast of characters includes Boxer Santaros (Dwayne Johnson), an action star stricken with amnesia, Krysta Now (Sarah Michelle Gellar), an adult film star developing her own reality television project, and Roland Taverner (Seann William Scott), a Hermosa Beach police officer who holds the key to a vast conspiracy.

Review: 8/10

My Thoughts: “This is the way the world ends-Not with a whimper, but with a bang.” With these words said so begins the beginning of the end. Well that is of course in the much highly anticipated movie Southland Tales which is the follow up to director Richard Kelly’s cult classic film Donnie Darko, which is a film I cannot stress enough how much I love watching, more so the director’s cut which alone I’ve seen a good 15 time already, so when I first heard about Southland Tales being made back in 2005 the plot summery on it sounded quite promising, but what caught my eyes was 1. Who was directing it, see Richard Kelly is a brilliant director who often has his viewers taken on a journey that is both spiritually and imaginative, the part I find most intriguing about his work is he often leaves a lot of the story up to the viewers imagination letting them come up with their own conclusion, this is something most directors will not do solely because it is a great risk that will ether make a film rise to greatness or fall in shambles, well as I’ve said with his films like Donnie Darko he took a great risk and succeeded with getting his point across to the viewers. And the second reason was. Because this was the follow up film to Donnie Darko which you probably know by now is one of my all time favorite films, so with that said my expectations went from zero to a hounded faster than you could say holy cow. Now if you haven’t seen his previous film yet than I highly sedges you do because it’s a worth watching film. But enough about Donnie Darko, Southland Tales is what I’m reviewing here, so with southland it storyline tales place during Julie 2008 in a apocalyptic future setting now you’re probably wondering how the hell can it be set with a post-apocalyptic background with near future settings during 2008? Well for one this the movie was originally supposed to had come out in 2006 but because of the high negative feedback from film critics at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival resulted in the film having no without a distributor, so director Richard Kelly went back and re-edited the film, cutting out 20-25 minutes worth of footage and after the re-editing done to it he got distributors to release his film in late 2007 with a limited release in theaters, the problem I learned that most critics had with the film was its storyline is hard to follow and with it being so close to the modern-day date, it sounded ridiculous, but the thing most of them don’t understand is Southland takes place in an alternate universe where certain chain of horrific evince take place that causes our would to go into a WWIII,

The evince I talk about is during the 4th of Julie weekend in Texas terrorist smuggles in nuclear bombs into the country through Mexico and us them to perform the greatest terrorist attack in history, one that would be so catastrophic that it would put 9/10 to shame, now since such an attack would happened during 2006 that would mean the majority of the people in America was still for the war in Iraq and something this big would only have them support it even more, this is where the story take off, the united states of America locked down from the rest of the world, with our government re-enacting the draft and sending millions of solders across the middle east and in North Korea looking for blood and payback on anyone who may have had a hand in it. Meanwhile anarchy is spreading like a wild fire throughout the country, but something else is also emerging that no one could have thought of. Now I must notify you that if you decide to watch you must have a tolerance for religion and not take the movie so literally because this movie is pretty much an ensemble to the book of revelations being foretold by one of the main characters, Private Pilot Abilene (Timberlake) as he tell of the Apocalypse or if you prefer the end of days, so don’t take it too seriously because some of the stuff in the film will not make a whole lot of scenes, it is to be taken as a references actually rather than literally. So now the question remains, is it better than Donnie Darko or not? The answer is no, it is not even close, not even by a long shot, however it is defiantly not a bad film at all, it just has a few problems that if corrected could have been a great film, the first problem was during the film it had its moments where it’s so cheesy and mediocre that its embarrassing to look at, but with the same amount of bad moments in this film it also has some good ones so it evens out a little, another problem is the run time. I know the film had been cut down by 20-25 minutes worth of footage but it still feels like the it over stayed it’s welcome and if it had been cut down just a little bit more perhaps it could have been a great film.

The story is about Boxer Santaros (Johnson) wakes up in the middle of the desert without his memory but somehow meets up with a porn star named, Krysta Now (Gellar) together they write a screen play about the end of days, but little that they know their screen play plays out much like the events that are about to take place and Boxer Santaros begins to find out who he really is and what his connection is to a state senator running for president, meanwhile a terrorist group built of people who hate the current government called the Neo Marxist Group convinces a a man to pose as his twin brother who is a police officer named Roland Taverner (Scott) and pretend to be a racists cop for them to help spread anarchy by making like he killed a recently married interracial couple, but what doesn’t know is the real officer Taverner might not entirely be his brother but greatly connected to him still, and as all the players to this story go their ways in this story they don’t know that they are greatly connected to each other and will set into motion the end of days.

As for the acting, Dwayne Johnson is ok, I’m not saying he the best thing to hit movie screens, but taken that he’s done a great deal of acting in his past career of wrestling it sure help him in acting in this and other films, as for Seann William Scott, well he’s great but he suffer from a problem on screen I like to call the Steve Stifler syndrome, see ever since watching the American Pie films I’m having a problem seeing him play another role without saying “Hey that’s Stifler, man!“ and the thing is I’m not the only person who has stereotyped him has one particular character, I found out others have as well hence the Steve Stifler syndrome, perhaps if he was to do something that would get him out of this stereotype like starring in a romance or something he could actually become a great actor, I found Mandy Moore to be somewhat annoying in this movie as well as her Mandy Moore character which thought to be too superficial and sometimes (forgive me for saying this) a bitch, as for Justin Timberlake he’s not in the movie much but he gives a narration of the book of revelations in the film from time to time tell the story of the movie you are watching as it goes, which I found to be quite pleasing, also the music number in the film which he lip sings the song “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers was truly a magical moment indeed and was fun seeing because the song with the number alone tells its own story, Miranda Richardson gave a great performance as Nana Mae Frost the head of the new homeland security who is as sinister and heartless as the very evildoers the supposedly fight, it was also nice to see the following actors and actresses on screen, Nora Dunn, John Larroquette, Bai Ling, Jon Lovitz, Curtis Armstrong, Beth Grant, Christopher Lambert, Holmes Osborne, Cheri Oteri, Wallace Shawn, Zelda Rubinstein, Kevin Smith, I could go on but I wouldn’t want to bore you anymore [Laughs] but all of which that’s I have just named here to great jobs in their performances.

Final Say: I really liked this movie a lot and had fun watching it, although many may not agree with me on this film I stand by what I said and will say it’s a great film that worth watching, may not be for everyone though, but still I highly recommend.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Review: Superbad Movie (2007) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Greg Mottola
Written by: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Genre: Comedy / Romance
MPAA: Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content, strong language, drinking, some drug use and a fantasy/comic violent image - all involving teens.
Released: 17 August 2007 (USA)
Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Martha MacIsaac, Emma Stone, Aviva, Joe Lo Truglio, Kevin Corrigan.

Plot: Two co-dependent high school seniors (Hill and Cera) are forced to deal with separation anxiety after their plan to stage a booze-soaked party goes awry.

Review: 8/10

My Thoughts: In a year filled of really bad comedies Superbad proved that there is still some creativity in the comedy genre. Because if you, like me have seen horrible movies like Date Movie, Epic Movie, RV, Deck the Halls, you would have felt a little dumber after watching it. I could go and on with the list but I don't want to waste your time hearing it. But I will say that this year was a surprise for me when I watched Superbad because I thought it was going to be another teen comedy with the same recycled jokes being used since the mid-90's. But it wasn't, in fact I think I enjoyed this movie more than any other Comedy this year. The only one they can come close is Knocked Up, which both have Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill in them, now these two actors I must admit are proving to be big timers in Hollywood. With nothing but success after success in the movies there in. the story seems harmless, and weak at first, but trust once you start watching you'll see that this is no harmless nor weak comedy that is a rollercoaster ride of laughter from start to finish, and that every actor gives it there all and succeed in doing so.

The storyline is about a two friends Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera) that have been best friends there hole lives, and if you didn't know any better you'd think there were brothers. So after spending their high school doing everything together they are about to say goodbye as there will so graduate and go to different colleges. But taken that they spent all those years as virgins Seth comes up with a plan to lose his and his best friends virginity before they go to college, by becoming the booze suppliers for Jules (Stone) party, which Seth has had a crush on for a long time. And hopes that if he can get her drunk enough he can be the late night mistake that all drunk party girls remember. And hopefully he can make her his girl friend for the summer. But the only problem is they don't know how to get the booze for the party. Well that's until they find out there other friend Fogell (Mintz-Plasse) gets himself a fake ID saying his name is McLovin and he's from Hawaii. Well things become a rollercoaster ride for the three of them as they have the wildest night of their lives.

Now first of let me say that both Jonah Hill and Michael Cera did a magnificent performance that will have you laughing till it hurts. What I also liked about their acting is they don't try to give you your average big budget Hollywood style performance, but rather acting like themselves and not pretending to be someone else which works out really good. But as funny as they are, their part of the story comes nowhere near as hilarious as Christopher Mintz-Plasse subplot. I mean his Fogell or should I say McLovin will have you laughing until it hurts. Now what I found to be very interesting is this is Christopher Mintz-Plasse first movie ever which I found to very impressive, and that this movie was written and partly based on a true story by actor Seth Rogen and Screen writer Evan Goldberg, they wrote it back when they were in high school that's why the two main characters are named Seth and Evan. And last but not lease Seth Rogen and Bill Hader both gave great performances as the two corky but funny cops the takes there new found friend McLovin on the ride of his life.

Final Say: I really enjoyed this movie and must say I don't think I've laughed this hard in a really long time. But mostly I think what made my love this movie a lot was the fact that I was little like the three of them being the kid none notices and always wanting to be that cool kid that gets all the girls, so for me was great because they did what most nerds like me dreamed of doing when they were a teen. I highly recommend it. Also make sure you see the unrated extended cut because it's even funnier.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Review: Hitman (2007) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Xavier Gens
Written by: Skip Woods
Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller
MPAA: Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.
Released: 21 November 2007
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Dougray Scott, Olga Kurylenko, Robert Knepper, Ulrich Thomsen, Henry Ian Cusick, Michael Offei, Christian Erickson, Eriq Ebouaney, Joe Sheridan, James Faulkner, Jean-Marc Bellu, Nicky Naude, Abdou Sagna, Loïc Molla, Youssef Diawara, Patrick Ligardes, Anca Radici, Peter Hudson, Cyril Guei, Ivan Yurukov, Vladimir Kolev, Paul Barrett.

Plot: A Hitman known only as Agent 47 (Olyphant) is ensnared in a political conspiracy, which finds him pursued by both Interpol and the Russian military as he treks across Eastern Europe. Hired by a group known as "The Agency" to kill targets for cash.

Review: 8/10

My Thoughts: I have been a long time Hitman gamer, so you can imagine how much anticipation I had building up when word got to me that a Hitman movie was in the works last year. But as much as I wanted to see it I was also worried, because for starters there really haven't been a successful video game movie yet, just a lot of disappointments left and right, now don't get me wrong some of the movies like the Resident Evil films or the Silent Hill movie have all been really good, it's just they don't capture the games essence. And in a way that's a downer because the reason they are made into movies in the first place is to please the gamers who bought the game and supported all its fallowing sequels, only to have the film company to do a 360 on them and do the complete opposite. Well did Hitman live up to its name or did it do a 360 on us, bend us over a table and have its way with our ass? The answer is it lived up to its name and more. Now I'm not saying it's the best movie ever made, or that it was exactly like the game, but it at lease didn't forget us the gamers who played it from the beginning when it was nothing to the world but a cult classic game and watch it grow over the years into the mainstream icon it is today.

The movie doesn't play out as an origin flick, but it does shows brief glimpses here and there in the beginning in the opening credits. So for most people who didn't play the game or doesn't know anything about the back story to our favorite gun for hire, I'd say turn away now and don't comeback until you've played a little Hitman. As for the rest of you, you will be pleased as I did, for one I didn't think Timothy Olyphant was a good choice for Agent 47 in the beginning when filming just started, I thought he would be horrible even though I liked his performance in Live Free or Die Hard. And even while I was sitting in my chair before the movie started I keep thinking, man he is going to kill this movie. But damn was I wrong, and I'm damn glad I was too! He not only mange to maintain the image of Agent 47 in a respectful manner, but he also gave the character an in-depth look. Because the Agent 47 we all know and trust (to get the job done) is just a killer that does his job and gets out. But what about the man behind the assassin? In the movie we see Agent 47 (Olyphant) not just as an assassin for hire but as a man who is trained by the Agency to beat impossible odd. Except for one thing, living without orders. All his life he took orders from others to kill without question. But after his latest mission goes south, the Agency leaves him hanging out in the cold. And now he is being pursued by Interpol, the Russian military, and even his own Agency. And the only one he can trust is Nika Boronina (Kurylenko) a Russian prostitute who his Agency clams witness him in his last mission, and is ordered to kill her to which he agrees to do. But when it's time he can't find it in him to do it, because he knows deep down inside something isn't right. And instead helps her while trying to figure out who's behind this mess.

the movie is about The "Hitman" is a genetically-engineered, elite assassin known only as Agent 47. His hallmarks are lethal grace, unwavering precision, and resolute pride in his work. But even 47 couldn't anticipate a "random equation" in his life exactitude: the unexpected stirrings of his conscience and the unfamiliar emotions aroused in him by a mysterious Russian woman.

As for the acting well Timothy Olyphant did a great job playing as Agent 47, most people who didn't like it said it was because he doesn't show any emotion. Well that's why I said he did a great job because Agent 47 was raised to have neither emotion nor mercy. As for Olga Kurylenko, well she didn't do much but cry here and there in the movie and of course show us that beautiful body of hers. And man was I surprised at how much nudity she shows but then again that's why I liked her performance. [Laughs]. As for Dougray Scott who does one the best performances in the movie, plays Mike Whittier the Interpol investigator who has spent years trying to hunt down and arrest Agent 47 or as he calls him the "ghost". As for the villains in this movie none of which I can really judge because none of the character really have time to develop which in most cases would be a bad thing, but in this case it's a good thing. Also if you liked the movie and plan on playing any of the games I recommend you buy Hitman: Blood Money. It's the latest instilment and best one out the series so far. Plus the movie is closes to: Blood Money than the other two.

Final Say: I had a lot of fun watching Hitman again, more so the unrated version which gave a more insightful look into the plot and a little more violence and gore for the viewers, and though it didn’t make the movie any better it was still has fun as the theatrical cut, I highly recommend.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Review: Enchanted (2007) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]


Review By: Kelsey Zukowski
Starring: Amy Adams, James Marsden, Susan Sarandon, Patrick Dempsey, Rachel Covey, Timothy Spall, Idena Menzel
Directed By: Kevin Lima
Written By: Bill Kelly
Released: 2007
Grade: B+

Enchanted is a wonderful movie that takes all of the Disney fairy tales to another level. The pattern within this category seem to repeat each other, so Enchanted challenges it. It does this by starting out in animation, with a princess and a prince, destined to be with each other, and looking for their true love. Yet this tale is taken out of their comfort zone and in to the real world; our world. This is where all of the common clichés are used in a satirical way while still being light hearted and charming.

Giselle (Adams) is very sweet and homely girl. She resembles a Cinderella type of character who spends her day sowing and making her own clothes with the help of her best friends, the woodland creatures around her house. What she really dreams of though is finding her one true love. She wants to be swept off of her feet by a handsome prince, get married to him, and live happily ever after. It just so happens that Prince Edward (Marsden) wants something very similar. The time is fast approaching that he will take the thrown since there is no king in power. As soon as he finds a bride to become his Queen they will rule the land. Edward really just wants to fall in love with a sweet and beautiful girl who he can spend the rest of his life with. His mother, Queen Narissa (Sarandon), will not have this. She loves her power and she wants her reign to last forever. So the only way for this to happen is if Edward doesn’t get married. Narissa does everything she can to prevent him from doing so. Edward and Giselle bump in to each other, and to them it was just like love at first sight. At the wedding though, Narissa pushes Giselle down a magical water stream that transports her to modern day New York City.

Giselle is completely lost, she has no idea what this strange new world around her is or how she can get back to her prince. Of course people in the city aren’t exactly friendly. When she nearly falls off of a billboard, Robert (Dempsey) and his daughter, Morgan (Covey) come to her rescue. Morgan is stunned to see a real life princess. Robert is very reluctant to let her stay at their house, but he agrees to help her out with a place to stay just for now. When Prince Edward finds out that his bride is missing he goes on a search for her and heads in to New York City too. Queen Narissa finds out about this, she sends her helper, Nathaniel (Spall) to poison Giselle. He has trouble doing this and Narissa comes there herself to kill Giselle so she can stay in power.

The sub-plot of the intermingling love stories is very strong. It shows that love at first sight might not be what it seems to be. Perhaps it is more based on expectations, hopes, and what seems like it should be natural. Robert questions Giselle on how she can be so sure that Edward is her true love after just spending a day with him. Robert isn’t too open or welcoming to Giselle at first. Yet, over time he gets to know her better and really appreciates her. With his girlfriend, Nancy, he always had to work much harder and the idea of commitment towards her doesn’t come to him as easily. At the end, there is suggestion that maybe the two couples would be better with the opposite partners. This really shows that love is unpredictable and it takes time to really get to know someone. Also it resembles that real life fairy tales are attainable. However, they can not be created over night. So in reality, real life fairy tales just mean finding happiness with another person.

Amy Adams resembles the title of the film completely as she is utterly enchanting in her performance as Giselle. She exerts such warmth and radiates loveable energy that really helps set the tone for the movie. It is interesting seeing someone like this, since it isn’t everyday that we see such an animated person. James Marsden nearly matched this, which is not something easy to do. He mastered the charismatic role as Corny Collins in Hairspray and he brought it to an even higher level here giving a very convincing performance as the dazzling and charming Prince Edward. Susan Sarandon was very convincing as the evil queen, even her voice seemed to represent her mentality perfectly. Patrick Dempsey in the end worked well off of Amy Adams although they had very different personas. Rachel Covey as Morgan brought many of the elements together. She had the fantasy mentality and having a real life princess was like a dream come true. She also helped bring her father and Giselle together, which ended up being the basis of the moral.

Enchanted is a much smarter film than the typical fairy tale. It makes comparisons between fantasy and reality. The script is very well written and the characters are developed very well. Nearly everyone is very likeable, which makes us care for them. The musical numbers are wonderful. Even to those who aren’t a fan of musicals, Enchanted speaks to this. Many of the numbers are done in a comical way that spark jokes of what it would be like if someone would really just burst out in song randomly. A lot of the comedy in the film comes from what reality would mean to fantasy situations. Enchanted is very smart, but still prioritizes having fun with the film very high. The movie still has a similar feel to some of the Disney films of the past. It is loveable, light hearted and a creatively energized film that has something for everyone.

Review: In Bruges (2008) [Reviewed By David Dominic DiMichele]

Starring: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes

Director: Martin McDonagh

Release Date: January 17, 2008

Running Time: 107 min

MPAA Rating: R

Distributor: Focus Features
**** out of ****

Where or what exactly is Bruges (pronounced "broozh") you ask? Well, technically it’s a town in Belgium that occupies "fairytale" like surroundings. It presents to the audience an unseen world that consists of an array of medieval buildings, pubs and streets lined with outdoor bistros. Bruges is a town that’s not only an undiscovered tourist attraction but it’s pretty much perfect in its environment. But more importantly, you can say that Bruges plays host to an unforgettable movie, characters that are more than unique and dialogue that’s so sharp, remorseless and funny.

Don’t make the mistake and begin to label this movie as another "hit-man" film or a poor man’s version of a Tarantino film. In Bruges towers over all recent gun-happy movies and has the most confidence and creativity than any other movie in this genre since Pulp Fiction. The creative juice is abundant. It’s granted to In Bruges by writer and director Martin McDonagh (in his first feature length film) that starts with him and slowly reverberates throughout the entire cast of the movie.

The result of this formula is a career high for Colin Farrell (who’s having quite a year with Cassandra’s Dream) and the usual acting clinic that Brendan Gleeson showcases for us. They play Ray and Ken, two good friends who are hit-men sent to Bruges from Dublin in order to keep a low profile after one of their hits in London turned sour. They now have to wait for a phone call by their boss Harry, played venomously by Ralph Fiennes. He sets them up in Bruges because he admires it there and wants them to witness the same experience he felt when he was there.

Ray and Ken aren’t your ordinary hit-men. They don’t kill at the drop of a hat. They eat dinner causally and sip beer the same way. They don’t have Jason Bourne like attributes. They do what they have to do. The two hit-men and their boss each have their own moral code they live by. Above all, this movie is a study of the human choice and the moral values each one lives and dies by. Ray, the rebel and young-buck of the business, hates Bruges right off the bat. He tries easing up to the place when he meets a scorching hot native (Clemence Poesy). While Ken, on the other hand, the seasoned veteran of the business and philosopher like speaker, wants to sight see the entire time. He even buys tour guide books to get in the spirit. Each of them know what they do is wrong and at one point they talk about heaven, hell and purgatory while starring at a painting. They want to know what category they fall under.

That’s all the plot you’re getting from me because of all the twists and turns it only makes me want to bathe in this movie over and over again. Amidst all the razor sharp dialogue and the humor that’s depicted, there comes a deep message. We have one of our characters looking for salvation but can’t find it anywhere. Another who’s faced with a business ordeal that has the most extreme circumstances involved. Ray doesn’t like Bruges at all but he has to admit that there’s something innocent about the place. Maybe, purgatory?

And that leads me to the direction, which is flawless. McDonagh does a wonderful job at weaving humor with intense bloodshed and violence. I’ve never seen a movie filmed in this area of Belgium and the camera feels that way as well. It moves as though it wants to view everything in its vicinity; constantly eager to see what’s coming around the block. McDonagh voluptuously captures the essence of such a city that fell off the map somehow and never seemed to be looked for until now. A perfect music score composed by Carter Burwell only makes the "fairytale" world that Bruges is even more true.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Review: The Bank Job (2008) [Reviewed By David Dominic DiMichele]

Starring: Jason Statham, Saffron Burrows, Stephen Campbell Moore
Director: Roger Donaldson
Release Date: March 7, 2008
Running time: 110min
MPAA Rating: R
Distributors: Lions Gate

The Bank Job has a by-the-book title, but people will be surprised by how smart, inventive and gritty this film actually is. Just look at the poster. There aren’t any overwhelmingly long gun battles between the cops and robbers but rather a basket full of events overflowing the brim of this particular bank job. At the helm is veteran director, Roger Donaldson (Cocktails and The Recruit), and he knows thrills are at their best without any over-the-top action scenes. Amidst all the hoopla of recent heist films, most notably the Ocean franchise, there is something true about The Bank Job. It doesn’t veer off into a fantasy world like Ocean's 13 did. The bank robbery that occurs is so down-to-earth that we can imagine it happening at our local bank. (The film, by the way, is based on a true story - a story that was buried for 30 years due to a government gag order.) It's set in 1971 London and that’s exactly how The Bank Job plays out; almost as if it’s a close cousin to the great heist films of that decade such as The Getaway and Dillinger.

Thief-turned-hero is Terry Leather (Jason Statham), a ordinary man with a wife and two children who finds himself knee-deep in debt to some loan sharks. He’s is the star of the movie. Statham is slowly morphing into a badass Hollywood star along the lines of a young Bruce Willis or maybe even Mel Gibson. Here, Statham abandons what he's done best so far - those fast-paced action and adrenaline films - and settles down to find himself acting quite well. You'll also find some quality one-liners in this film that your stars from the 70s might have said, Clint Eastwood, for example, or Steve McQueen.

When Terry gets a proposition by a former convict/past lover of his, the beautiful Martine Love (Saffron Burrows), to rob a bank’s safety deposit boxes because the alarms will be shut down until they get new ones, he sees it as a blessing and a way out of debt. He hires a fifth-rate team (of very fine actors!) in no time at all. She needs something specific out of one of the boxes but doesn’t tell anyone that, as she’s helping some high-up officers who once helped her out. They're after some valuable information that is stored in one of the boxes - photos that can implicate a member of the Royal family in a sex scandal.

But the goal of the film isn’t to show how Terry and his team succeed in robbing the bank. Instead Donaldson concentrates on unraveling the series of events that transpire after the robbery occurs, which brings the lowest scum in London out of hiding: an extortionist radical, a porn king and crooked cops. It’s a robbery precipitated by severe circumstances and opens doors to the private lives of the highest and most prestigious people in all of London. Corruption is inevitable here. I’m going to quit telling you about this movie because anymore will spoil it for you. Go see it.

Review: Horton Hears A Who (2008) [Reviewed By David Dominic DiMichele]

Horton Hears a Who-
**1/2 Out of ****
Directed by Steve Martino and Jimmy Hayward
March 16, 2008

If there was ever an award that pays homage to a talking elephant that over acts at the drop of a hat the award will have its winner hands down. We get a totally different elephant than what’s depicted in Dr. Seuss’ original book. In the film version the voice of the elephant Horton is Jim Carey and you can say he knows a little bit about over acting in certain situations. Very quickly he wears out Horton’s welcome. He should be as sweet and adorable as they come but that never happens. This is when the loveable mayor of Who-ville comes to the rescue of the movie as he brings with him a breath of fresh air and some much needed comedy that actually makes the audience laugh. The voice is done by Steve Carell with just the right amount of energy and wit.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a loveable and very enjoyable plot here: A huge clumsy and not very well respected elephant finds himself looked upon as a God like figure as he tries to prevent any damage to Who-ville, a world that is located on a tiny speck. But the film doesn’t balance well between the two worlds. Who-ville offers up the most laughs and we tend to want to stay here, rather than go back to the world of Horton. Horton has to get the speck to the safest spot in the jungle and the animals are all against that as they all believe, thanks mainly to a kangaroo, that Horton is loosing his mind. There aren’t any sensible laughs here, whereas in Who-ville the laughs keep coming.

This is a classic Dr. Seuss tale. There’s even some narration in here which makes us wish there was more of it. The voice reminded of the one in the classic cartoon "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," which is much shorter and much better. Seuss’ books aren’t made to be a feature length movie. There is just too much creative juice that oozes from the pages that in return runs wild in our own imaginations for years to follow. Directors Martino and Hayward seemed to be on the right track as they made "Horton" an animated film. Good looking but nothing jaw-dropping. Seriously, did those two directors think they stood a chance at copying what the ingenious and imaginative mind of Theodor Seuss Geisel created? I don’t think so. Previous films that were adapted from Dr. Seuss’ books are both bombs, such as "Cat in the Hat" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

A classic story like the plot that this movie has the luxury of beholding shouldn’t be overshadowed by a sappy father-son relationship or any extreme chase sequence because the simple message alone is all you need. Last time I checked a Seuss book is far from forgettable, while the movies, on the other hand, travel like the speck does; a small object who has no one’s attention, just drifting and drifting and drifting quickly to be forgotten.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Review: Dan in Real Life (2007) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]

Dan in Real Life
Review By: Kelsey Zukowski
Starring: Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson, Marlene Lawston, Diane Weist, John Mahoney
Directed By: Peter Hedges
Written By: Pierce Gardner, Peter Hedges
Released: 2007
Grade: B+

It can be very hard for an actor to keep a consistent career off of one genre. This particularly seems to be the case through comedy. So in order for them to be thought of as a good actor rather than just the funny guy there must be a divergence of character, theme, or genre in the material they act in. After the horrendous Taladega Nights: The Tale of Ricky Bobby, the much more mellow and dramatic, Stranger Than Fiction, immensely brought out Will Ferrell‘s remarkable talent. There was still comedy in Ferrell’s role, but it was much more subtle and showed a different side to him; proving that he does have depth in his abilities. Dan in Real Life was Steve Carell’s Stranger Than Fiction. There is comedy here, but it is mostly done through natural instinct rather than just for the purpose of being funny.

Dan (Carell) is a middle-aged widowed father who is just trying to find his piece of happiness while still being a good father. He misses his wife very much and just wants to do right by her. It has been four years though and perhaps it is time for him to move on. One day at a bookstore he meets Marie (Binoche) who seems like she could bring his life the spark that he has been missing. Although, she says she is seeing someone, Dan gets her number which brings him hope. Meanwhile, there is plenty of going on in his family life. Every year, the family comes together for the weekend at Dan’s parents house. It is a big event with plenty of activities and bonding that occur during the course of a few days. This is when Dan meets back up with Marie ironically enough. The man she has been seeing is his brother, Mitch (Cook). So he has to spend the whole weekend watching the woman he wishes he had with his brother and act like everything is perfectly fine. The difficulty that this brings causes Dan to act like someone very different from himself. It becomes obvious to everyone in the family what the situation is. Dan had been set up with another girl, which added to Marie’s jealousy along with Dan’s. It all piles up so much that it seems easier to just give in to their emotions and desires.

The problem is that not only is he truly bruising his relationship with his brother, but if Marie would stay with either Dan or Mitch, there would be awkwardness that would continue to tear the family apart. All of Dan’s thoughts become so singled on Marie that he forgets about the reason he is there; his family. His youngest daughter, Lily (Lawston), has been trying to spend time with him. When he is too busy for her, she decides to make something for him in dedication to her mother. The oldest daughter, Jane (Pill) doesn’t feel that her dad understands her or that he gives her enough credit. Cara (Robertson) may feel like this even more. She would rather be with her boyfriend or friends and is spiteful that it isn’t that way. Cara is positive that she is in love although she is still very young and this is after being with her boyfriend for three weeks. When Dan realizes all of his mistakes, he tries to just forget about Marie and just be a father. He realizes though, one or the other isn’t going to complete his life, he needs a balance of both.

Steve Carell is one of the funniest comedians and just as a suspected he has great abilities in dramas and acting period. He does a wonderful job with Dan in Real Life giving it his personal, loveable touch. We sympathize with Dan, but we don’t feel sorry for him. We see there are some things he needs to work out and we just want to see him get there. Carell does exert a light sense of comedy that really works with the understanding we develop for him. With Carell we have a hilarious comedian who turns out to be much more with his vast amount of range. On other hand, there is Dane Cook, he seems to be a comedian who only does well when he isn’t in a comedy or trying to be funny. I thought he was fine in Mr. Brooks and in Dan in Real Life he is actually good. Cook actually makes the audience feel sympathy for him. He has a real down to earth persona and he radiates a presence that suggests that he put a lot on the line for Marie, more so than he would usually for a girl. So when you see a decent guy putting his heart out there, really trying, and constantly being there for his brother, you hate to see him taken advantage of. Juliette Binoche had a similar appeal as well. Everyone in the film loved her, she had great depth and eloquence to her. Even though she is the woman at the root of all of the trouble, we don’t blame her. She even wants to tell Mitch upfront about her and Dan’s situation, but Dan insisted that she didn’t. Marie tried to act natural and be loyal to the one that she was initially with. When this becomes too hard for her, even in her moment of weakness, she tries to escape, not wanting to hurt anyone further.

Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson, and Marlene Lawston do a wonderful job as Dan’s three daughters. Alison Pill is the oldest and most mature of the three yet she needs more room to breath and to experience new and exciting things. Pill displays this while still being there for her sisters and trying to get her dad to be the man that he once was. Brittany Robertson really stood out to me. Her performance was very accurate as there were many young teenage girls who she so closely resembled. Robertson’s character, Cara, hates to spend a minute away from her social life especially her boyfriend. She is so sure that she is completely in love and a few weeks with him is the equivalent of eternity to her. Yet she ends up showing her father that sometimes love can emerge quickly and surprise you. Marlene Lawston did very well as the youngest child. She seemed to still be there for her father more than anyone else as her heart almost exceeded her size. Diane Weist and John Mahoney played Dan’s loving parents. They pushed him at times, but they really just wanted what was best for him.
The one thing in Dan in Real Life that I would have changed was how things ended with Dan and Mitch. There was no real conclusion even though the conflict between them was one of the largest of the film. Mitch is furious and hurt when he finds out that Dan went behind his back to be with Marie. He then goes out on a date with the women who Dan recently went out with. It is unclear whether this is to get back at Dan, to get over Marie, or perhaps a little bit of both. This is a critical resolution since unless Mitch forgives and finds someone else that he falls completely in love with than there will never be peace in the family. Aside from this though, the film does a very good job of showing us different qualities of many of the different characters. It is hard not to see something that you like in each one of them. They are all living with very real life situations that prove to be timeless issues since there are similar elements in all of them. This is true through love, life, travel, confidence, desires, dreams, and realizing what you do have in life. Dan in Real Life is presented in a very natural way that is refreshing using the cast, characters, and very well written script to bring out the emotions and relativity of this unique but large and loving family.

Review: Be Kind Rewind (2008) [Reviewed By Tony-D]

“Be Kind Rewind”
**** out of ****
Director: Michel Gondry
Cast: Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover

Dare if I say how much I have a HATE for Michel Gondry. “The Science of Sheep” made me nothing but mad and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” just be one of the most overrated movies since “Titanic.” He even made Dave Chappelle look boring, and I’m a lifelong Dave Chappelle fan. But finally, it looks like Michel Gondry has grown a great pair of balls, for not only does he show why we love movies so much, but how loving movies can bring one together.

Film critic Tony DeFrancisco approves of that message.

“Be Kind Rewind” takes place in a video store called… umm… Be Kind Rewind. The store is a national landmark in Passaic, New Jersey for it is the place where supposedly jazz musician Fats Waller was born. While owner Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover) is out of town for a “memorial of Waller” (which he really is staying in a room across the street from West Coast Video, spying on the owner and the store and their customers), he puts Mike (Mos Def) in charge. Across the street from Be Kind Rewind is a power plant, where Jerry (Jack Black) inhabits next to his trailer. Jerry tries to “sabotage” the plant, but the plant sabotages him instead, electrocuting him and making him a human magnet.

The next day, Jerry walks in the video store and completely wipes out all of the video tapes. (Oh, and did I mention, every bit of film in the store is on VIDEO and not DVD? Not only didn’t Bin Laden upgrade to the next generation video, but so didn’t these guys. (And if you were asking, I think everyone in Bellmawr, New Jersey, has upgraded to DVD.)) So in order to make their videos look good, Jerry and Mike go out and “swede” movies, or make homages of the movies. To the neighborhood, it is an excellent idea, but to the United States government?

“Be Kind Rewind” isn’t nearly as funny as the trailer suggests, but the trailer only shows us half of the story. We’re only showed how Mike and Jerry’s sweded films affect them and the video store, but we’re never shown the other side. The video store is a big part of the community, and they get involved throughout the film. Mike and Jerry’s sweded projects soon become the community’s sweded projects. It would rather be more of a heartfelt film than a comedy, but even a man as cynical and mad as me can accept that.

The film geek in me loved the sweded films. All of the swedes shown in the film got a laugh from me at least once, especially the “Robocop” swede. Hell, I have officially replaced the real “Ghostbusters” theme song with Jerry’s version of the song. That reason alone would catch any real film geek’s attention, especially the scene where Jerry describes his feelings for “The Lion King.” He sounds a lot like Roger Ebert, but the thought alone of one-half of Tenacious D recommending someone a film frightens me.

Jack Black finally plays a role where he is not playing Jack Black. He doesn’t act goofy or obnoxious. Instead, he plays a kind and hearty character, and it doesn’t annoy me at all (thank god). I’m sure that Black’s biggest fans will stay far away from “Be Kind Rewind” after reading that statement, but he has “Kung-Fu Panda” to make up for it later this summer. I’m sure that we’re all going to be entertained by that film, after all.

The little problem that I had with “Be Kind Rewind” is that I wanted more. I wanted to see more swedes. I wanted more character development. I wanted more. Running at one-hundred and five minutes, “Be Kind Rewind” could be considered long enough by most people. Not for me. I had a love for “Be Kind Rewind” that I didn’t want to leave until I was ready.

It’s about time that we get a comedy that actually defines a generation that was long lost about five years ago. I literally have forgotten what VHS was like, but thankfully, Gondry has reminded me the format that I was born into. And now, we have DVD, a format that doesn’t seem to be leaving us for quite some time. Even with Blu-Ray, DVD won’t die. DVD will never die. I expect that in five years, we will be watching DVDs the same way that we have been watching them for the past eleven years.

Review: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (2007) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Zach Helm
Written by: Zach Helm
Genre: Comedy / Family / Fantasy
MPAA: Rated G for all ages
Released: 16 November 2007
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Zach Mills, Jason Bateman, Ted Ludzik, Madalena Brancatella, Paula Boudreau, Mike Realba, Steve Whitmire, Liam Powley-Webster, Marcia Bennett, Oliver Masuda, Samantha Harvey, Jesse Bostick, Isaac Durnford.

Plot: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is the strangest, most fantastic, most wonderful toy store in the world. In fact, it's a magic toy store and everything in it comes to life--including the store itself. The emporium asks only one thing of its customers--you must believe it to see it.

Review: 7/10

The story is about: Mr. Edward Magorium (Hoffman) a man who’s been selling toys for over 200 years, he himself clams to be somewhere around 243 and after a fun filed life running his store he feels that it’s time to past the store down to his apprentice, Molly Mahoney (Portman) so that he can humbly die knowing his store is in good hands but little does Mr. Magorium know, Molly is not interested in owning the store and is thinking about moving on, meanwhile because of Mr. Magorium plans of leaving and Molly not wanting to run the store anymore, the life of the store starts to take a dark and ominous change that begins to take over the once remarkable Emporium.

My Thoughts: As children we see the world much differently than as adults, we see it as a world of magic and endless possibilities, a world of wonders and adventures to be discovered, as adults we see the world as a harsh place with hard problems and struggles to be fought daily, we all wish we could go back to or time of childhood, a care free time when it was all play and no work. Well Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium shows us that just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we have to stop having fun, it’s message is as clear as daylight, saying have fun, go out and play and don’t take life so seriously because after all you only live once. I was really surprised with this one, I thought it was going to be a cheesy and idiotic film, was it cheesy? YES! Was it idiotic? NO! it was a very uplifting, a feel-good film that will put smiles on the faces of anyone who dears to watch it, it is without a doubt this will one day become a timeless classic to be enjoyed by generations to come, the thing I found to be most interesting was unlike most kid flicks this one has a great deal of maturity that will touch the heart and minds of young teens letting them know just because they get older doesn’t mean they have to change the person they are inside, while still remaining fully entertaining for the little ones, it’s certainly something the hole family of all ages will enjoy which is something you don’t see in everyday films, it also doesn’t try to be hip or trendy, it sticks to it’s on level and even revives some old styles, which of course something I greatly like because in most films now days (especially the ones for kids) filmmakers try to make the film as “Hip” as possible with the younger generation, or try to make a fashion statement to the teens or pre-teens generation, which I tend to find very annoying because films that do that are only trying to make a buck instead of being a work of art, but with Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium they stick to their own style and stands proud by it, I like this because it showed that they are original and not some other knockoff film out there to fill in the timeslot for the film studios.

Also the special effects was very exceptional it will without a doubt have viewers of all ages raving of it’s wonderful effects that you just can‘t go wrong with, and the cinematography was fantastic, the colors shine through and through in this which I found to be quite amazing. The only problem I had with the film was a few things, the first one was the beginning of the film, see they start it off with very little back story (if any at all) of Dustin Hoffman’s character “Mr. Magorium” and he isn’t shown in the film until a good five minutes maybe more into the film but that can easily be forgiven as they have good reason for it by introducing Natalie Portman’s character “Molly” first but the thing is When they do finally Mr. Magorium they do so as if we already know him, this was a little disappointing because if I’m going into a film that I no nothing about I’d at least like to know a little of the main character, not just supposed to be expected to know em already, also their was the little part involving the characters of the film, each and every character in a movie should be there for a reason, if not for a part of the plot than at least there as support, but for some reason actress Rebecca Northan who plays actor Zach Mills on screen mother “Ellie” had nothing to contribute to the plot, not even as a side characters to the plot, it just seemed like she was there to be, well there, which I found to be disappointing because her characters had a run time that was more than some characters who actually did contribute something to the plot, also Ted Ludzik’s character “Bellini, the Bookbuilder” had nothing to contribute other than the fact that he’s there, which is odd since it’s noted down that the story was being told throw his point of view, but the most disappointment was the ending, noting wrong with how it ended but how it got there, the ending was magical, something to see, but how it got there was the problem, see in a film’s run it goes through the course from point A to Point B, point A representing the beginning and point B the ending, you need a story that leads from one point to the other, but it felt like after they hit the middle point in the film they ran out of story and couldn’t get to the ending so they just said hey lets end it, and just like that they ended it, with nothing more to add.
As for the acting, Dustin Hoffman is by far one of the best actors in the industry and is on my top 20 all time favorite list of actors/actresses and what he does in this is nothing short of magical, and that is truly remarkable, like all other films he acted in he really puts himself into the role and gives it 110% of his time. Natalie Portman was wonderfully breathtaking, like all films she’s acted in so far she has yet to disappoint me in her acting skills, in fact she has only shown that she gets better with every film she does, Jason Bateman is an actor I don’t normally like, hell I’ve even said on many occasions his acting can be rather dry and his comedy can be a little too dull, you most know by now that I am not a fan of Arrested Development, god that show was (in my opinion) the most horrible comedy I ever saw, and his lousy performance in The Break-Up didn’t help, not to mation his somewhat laughable performance (Not in a good way) in Fast Track was so bad it made want to look for yep you guessed it, an olive fork, hell his one of the main reasons why I hated Smokin' Aces, however, aside from all the negativity I said about the man, I will however say that quite recently he has shown some promise, acting in such films like The Kingdom and Juno, his acting is no way nearly as good in this as it is in the two other films but I will say it is much better than what he normally shows on screen, who knows maybe I’ll grow to like his acting if he keeps it up. Zach Mills was great, I must say normally I don’t think of anything with child actors because they new to it and most of them bad most of the time and the ones that are good later become troubled. But I must saw that he was fairly good, and I respect that.

Final Say: I really had fun watching this, and would love taking another wake at it one day, my only problem was and still be the ending which I said already cuts a little short and feels like it was rushed, oh well maybe I’ll see it differently when I see it again one day. I recommend.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Review: Awake (2007) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Joby Harold
Written by: Joby Harold
Genre: Drama / Thriller
MPAA: Rated R for language, an intense disturbing situation, and brief drug use.
Released: 30 November 2007
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, Terrence Howard, Lena Olin, Christopher McDonald, Sam Robards, Arliss Howard, Fisher Stevens, Georgina Chapman, David Harbour, Steven Hinkle, Denis O'Hare, Charlie Hewson, Court Young, Joseph Costa.

Plot: The story focuses on a man who suffers "anesthetic awareness" and finds himself awake and aware, but paralyzed, during heart surgery. His young wife must wrestle with her own demons as a drama unfolds around them.

Review: 8/10

My Thoughts: Unintended intra-operative awareness, or better known as Anesthesia awareness, is an unfortunate thing that occurs to 20,000-40,000 patients out of every 20 million US surgeries every year, what happens in these cases is when the patient is put under Anesthesia but is not given enough the go fully unconscious, and remains partly conscious but unable to communicate and notify their surgeon of their consciousness nor do they appear to be conscious, to the surgeons they appear to be fully asleep, but what they don’t know is the patient is fully awake and in a paralysis state unable to say or do anything but can hear and feel everything going on, it’s a scary thought, going under the knife feeling every bit of it and not being able to tell anyone, such a thing can very well traumatize a person for life. Well writer and director Joby Harold brings us a delightfully chilling story of what it is like to be trapped in your own body with no one to hear you scream, no one to see your pain, and no one to help you, the thought of it alone is enough to make your skin crawl, and it certainly did for me and it remained stuck in my head for days on in after watching it. Now I must admit I had incredibly low expectations for it because of who was starring in it, yes I’m talking about Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba who I cannot stress enough how much I think they both suck when it comes to acting, but I’ll get back to that later in the review, right now let me say that the I liked how the main is betrayed by the very people he trusted (You‘ll know what I mean after watching it) because it’s a statement that clearly says trust no one, not even the ones you hold so dearly to you especially if you’re a filthy rich tycoon, also the suspense is fantastic, keeping you in the dark of both the main character’s fate and that of the outcome of the story right to the very end.

Which was something I really appreciated because a great deal of many films now days are just way to predictable and it can be a bit of a annoyances when you watch film after film with nothing but predictable plots and crappy endings, but this, this was a surprise for me, I mean it really caught a hold of me and had me glued to it’s bone chilling story right to the very end which will be an even bigger surprise because the film is filled with twists and turns that will have you constantly guessing how will it all end, now that’s not to say the movie is flawless, in fact it has a great deal of flaws and plot holes throughout the film (what film doesn‘t these days) it even has a few unexplained questions but aside from it all I still loved it, one of the things I felt displeased with was the parts in the film where Hayden Christensen did a narration of himself in his mind while the surgery, his acting has always bugged me, and I felt that his dull voice in this particular part in the film was a little dry and had me waiting for that scene to end, but aside from his horrible narration the scene is quite intense, I mean it really looks like they are cutting into him, and for a second there I could have sworn I was watching an actual surgery, so I must give kudos to Barney Burman the makeup artist behind the prosthetics, and of course the cinematography was fantastic which is something that always plays a big part in my movie viewing, I also must say that this film isn’t for everyone as the film has a bit of spiritual take on (you‘ll understand what I mean after watching it) his situation but if you can tolerate it than you shouldn’t have a problem with it.

The story is about tycoon millionaire, Clay Beresford (Christensen) a young man who lives by his mother, Lilith (Olin) rules and aspires to be if not just like, but better than his father was at business, but the only thing that is always slowing him down is his heart defect which requires him to get a heart transplant if he wants to live, so he ask his longtime best friend Jack Harper (Howard) to do the surgery even though it’s against his mothers wishes, so knowing the odds and risks in such a surgery as this that he might die during the operation he decides to put if house in check by marrying his girlfriend Sam (Alba) who he has fallen deeply in love with, soon after marrying her he goes into surgery and put deeply under Anesthesia but soon after something terrifying happens, Clay realize that he can still he the doctors talk, more worst, he can still feel them preparing him to be opened, but the most horrifying thing he hears the very doctors he trusted are making plans to have him deliberately die on the operation table, now the worst thing he could ever imagine is going to happen to him and there is nothing he can do to stop it.

As for the acting, Hayden Christensen is an actor I’ve always found to be a bit of an annoyance, I thought his acting in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones was so bad I thought about pulling my eyes out with an olive fork, than when I saw him in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith it was a slight improvement but that olive fork keep hunting me in the back of my mind, and than when I saw him act in Jumper I thought “wow, this is a big improvement for him“ because I only thought about that god damn olive fork twice in the hole film [Laughs] I know what you’re probably thinking, what hell is with this damn olive fork right? Well it’s how I express my hatred for things I see. but, I must say with Awake I was really impressed with his acting because it was nothing near to what I had seen in the past, the only thing I didn‘t like is that damn narration he does here and there in the films, perhaps there still hope for him after all. Jessica Alba, another name I think sucks when it comes to acting, now let me tell you I have seen a lot of her films and I mean a LOT! But only two things I’ve seen her in have been remotely good and that was Sin City which I can’t tell you how much I talk about my love for that film, and the TV show Dark Angel which was a fantastic show I might add, it’s just sad it went off the air, but other than that nothing I had seen her in could be counted as good, it would seem that she is only as she is seen, but once you get to know her up close you get something you wish you hadn’t, but aside from her previous work, I was impressed with her work in this because it’s a role I’ve never seen her take before and she did a somewhat good job this time so I’ll give her this one as plus on her career. Terrence Howard was fantastic, I have grown to like pretty much everything he’s acted in, Crash, Hustle & Flow, Four Brothers, The Hunting Party, The Brave One just to name a few are some of the films I’ve seen him in and my god he sure knows how to get into character and make any role work to his benefit which is why I liked his acting in this because he didn’t play the character, he became the character which is something to few actors know how to do. Lena Olin was magnificent I remember her from her days on Alias and it was fantastic to see her back working again. Christopher McDonald a great actor and it was great to see him appear in a nice little role in this, Fisher Stevens was also great, god the last time I remember seeing him in something was and this is gonna sound embarrassing but I remember seeing him last in Super Mario Brothers I know I know he’s acted in a tone of films since then but none of them he stood out to me, but this one I remembered his role so that’s got to count as something right?

Final Say: I really enjoyed this film and it has given me hope again for both Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba, lets hope that they do live up to it, well like I’ve said it’s not a flawless film but it is still worth a watch. I highly recommend.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Review: American Pie Presents: Beta House (2007) [Reviewed By Clifford]

Directed by: Andrew Waller
Written by: Adam Herz (characters) and Erik Lindsay (writer)
Genre: Comedy
MPAA: Rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, language and excessive drinking.
Released: 26 December 2007
Starring: Eugene Levy, John White, Robbie Amell, Ross Thomas, Steve Talley, Bradford Anderson, Jake Siegel, Meghan Heffern, Julia Schneider, Nic Nac, Ashleigh Hubbard, Alexandria Galante, Sarah Power, Christopher McDonald,

Plot: Erik and Cooze start college and pledge the Beta House fraternity, presided over by none other than Dwight Stifler. But chaos ensues when a fraternity of geeks threatens to stop the debauchery and the Betas have to make a stand for their right to party.

Review: 3/10

My Thoughts: American Pie, a film that is know today as a mix between a modern-day Animal house and Porky's, in a strange why very much right, than came along it’s sequel American Pie 2 which manages to outdo what the first one did, but with it’s second sequel American Wedding being noting but a great big disappointment, you’d think they’d stop, but than they turn around and give us a third sequel American Pie Presents: Band Camp which was a slight improvement from the last one but still disappointing to watch, and before we can even say “huh” we get yep that right a fourth sequel American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile which at this point was just downright horrible, an insult to the American Pie name, so it didn’t surprise me when American Pie Presents: Beta Housewas made, I mean after all the filmmakers stopped caring about their loyal fan based after part three was made and only seemed to care about turning another buck while the name was still known, now some of you are wondering why in the hell would I be crazy enough to watch something I already knew was a going to be horrible? Well that answer is simple really, even though I didn’t like The Naked Mile I still felt I owed it to everyone to at least finish the series and review this sad case of a film, and what do I get? An even bigger disappointment than the last film, not to mention the film rips off on almost every classic comedy film from animal house with making Beta House having two leaders, one being a conservative gentlemen and the other being a wild party animal, it even rips off the first American Pie film, not to mention so many others that would take me all damn day to go into. It’s sad really because it shows that the writers as well as the filmmakers are unable to come up with any original stuff, it’s just the same old material recycled over and over again to a point where you can’t take it any more, and yet again for a film that has none of the original cast they manage to loose more of the cast from the last film, this only says one thing, with or without you we’re making this movie which is sad because it means the makers of these films don’t care about the actors or the series itself, all they care about is pumping out cheep movies with no story and a shit loud of T&A with the American Pie title slapped on it so they can make a quick buck out of it.

Another thing I found to be most disappointing was the fact that the American Pie series has become just like the National Lampoon films, random films with the title American Pie attached to it, of course they try to keep it somewhat connected to the first films by continuously mentioning it in various forms, and the fact that Eugene Levy is reprising his role as Mr. Levenstein or as most of us who’s been keeping track of the Pie films as “Jim's Dad” in it, oh why I ask is he still in the films? The rest of the orginle cast was long gone two films ago so why is he still here? It just doesn’t make sense, the other connection is the Stifler family, it seems that after the second film Seann William Scott's character “Steve Stifler” became the star of the film in “American Wedding” even though the plot wasn’t focused on him, but when he did not want to return for a fourth film plus the rest of the remaining cast had already moved on in their careers, they decided to bring in Tad Hilgenbrink to play “Matt Stifler” the younger brother to Steve Stifler in Band Camp, and after the film bombed big time what do they do next? Oh they bring in another hole new cast of actors in The Naked Mile, but this time they introduce John White as “Erik Sifler” one of Steve Stifler’s cousins with Steve Talley having a small role in it playing Steve‘s other cousin “Dwight Stifler” which take over as the lead in Beta House with what’s left of the returning cast from The Naked Mile being nothing more but secondary characters, trust me when I say it is greatly disappointing.

The story is about after the events that conspired from The Naked Mile, Erik Stifler (White) and best buddy Mike Coozeman (Siegel) have graduated from High school and on their way to attend collage at University of Michigan with plans to pledge at Beta House fraternity, who the fraternity President just so happens to be none other than Dwight Stifler (Talley) cousin to Erik, and the last truly wild Stifler in the Stifler family tree, who puts them on a wild and adventure of pranks hardcore drinking games and girls girls girls, but while they are pledging to become frat brothers, Dwight is dealing with problems of his own as he must bring his Beta House brothers together so they can face off against a fraternity of Geeks (GEK House) who threatens the very core of Beta House.

As for the acting, well I’m gonna be honest with you here, all the actors tried real hard and give it their all, but their all is not enough, not by a longsome, Steve Talley I would have to say gave the worst performance out the entire cast of the film, trying to be funny but yet every joke he throws out there only falls flat with a sad yet silly punch line, and his sense of direction on how he should handle his character, and it seems the director must have seen it to or not he would not have flooded the movie with so much half naked girls or in some case fully naked girls in most of the film and especially whenever Steve was on camera, now I’m not saying anything wrong with a little nudity, far from it, I appreciate the female form as much as the next as red blooded male, but there is such a thing as an appropriate amount of nudity and this film goes way passed that amount, so much to a point that it becomes clear that the story is so dull, idiotic and full of holes that they tried to fill it with hot attractive nude women as much as possible, Jake Siegel reprises his role as cooze but his performance was horrible, for one thing he acts out of character from when he was in The Naked Mile, it seems like watching the same person playing two different characters in the same film, the other thing is the fact his characters acts like the best friend to John White’s character “Erik” but yet in you watch The Naked Mile you’ll see that it was Ross Thomas’s characters “Ryan” that was best buds with him, but I guess because he did not return for this sad case of film that they altered Erik and cooze friendship to make them best friends, Christopher McDonald who was only in about ten minutes of the last film as “Mr. Stifler” seems to only be in this one for about 3 maby 4 minutes at the very most, which is sad because his run time seems to have the only real moments that would have you somewhat laugh, Eugene Levy is a magnificent actor that is always a pleasure to see on film, but it seems his career choices hasn’t been really that wise lately as he is the only actor in the American Pie series to act in all six films and there is no doubt if they make a seventh film he’ll probably be in it too which is sad when you think about it because it just means that the talent from someone as talented as him is wasted in these films, as for the rest of the cast it made up of nameless actors that are so easily forgettable that it just not worth the time to mentioning them.

Final Say: Every time there’s a new American Pie film I buy it with the hopes that this one will finally be the one where they get their act together and make something worth watching, but instead I’m fall for another trap of disappointment, and even though I say this now I most likely will fall for it again if another one comes out, I don’t know you could say I’m always hoping for the good in things and in people to such a point that I’m naïve, I give this movie a 3/10 but only for trying, other than that I would have given it a 2/10. I don’t recommend it to own I don’t recommend it to even rent, however if you still want to see it than watch it at your own risk.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved