Saturday, May 31, 2008

MY MOM'S NEW BOYFRIEND (2008)

MY MOM’S NEW BOYFRIEND
*

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 97 minutes
Director
: George Gallo (Trapped in Paradise; Double Take)
Writer
: George Gallo (Bad Boys (story); Midnight Run)
Starring
: Antonio Banderas, Meg Ryan, Colin Hanks, Selma Blair, Rocco Savastano, Trevor Morgan, Gary Grubbs, Thomas Joseph Adams

Wow, “My Mom’s New Boyfriend”, a dreadfully unfunny and messy action/romantic-comedy was destined to fail right from the get go. The brains behind the project is writer/director George Gallo who’s only legitimate claim to any sort of relevance in film history is his screenplay for “Midnight Run” . Here he shows why and, in case you’re wondering, his other films have included the tired mistaken identity buddy action flick “Double Take” and Eddie Griffin’s “Dysfunktional Family”- is it sad that his only semi-watchable movie was the Nicolas Cage/Dana Carvey/Jon Lovitz Christmas comedy “Trapped in Paradise”? This movie, originally titled "Homeland Security", had numerous problems before and during production. Annette Bening was originally cast in the Meg Ryan role when the plot was supposed to be a thriller (that the studio was comparing to Hitchcock’s classic “To Catch a Thief”- HA!). After it was changed into a romantic-comedy with some action to mix in, Norm MacDonald was hired and then quit (apparently after actually reading the script). What does that leave us? An over the hill and obviously zonked on prescription meds Meg Ryan running around like an escaped mental patient, an embarrassed Antonio Banderas looking like he’d much rather be doing another movie, Colin Hanks poorly ripping off his own father’s charm, and a ridiculous plot that will make even the most forgiving movie go-er throw out a “hey wait a minute…”. When the film opens, Hanks is leaving mom Ryan to go to FBI school or whatever. Ryan has turned into a mess since her husband passed on- she’s wearing a horrendously fake fat suit and doing all the clichéd Kristie Alley “Fat Actress” bits like always having some kind of turkey leg or cupcake in her mouth during all the opening sequences. When Hanks comes home for vacation, he finds that his mom went on a diet and had a good deal of plastic surgery- including one of the most unnoticeable boob jobs in film history. Hanks has also brought home his fiancée, Emily (Selma Blair- the movie’s saving grace and looking hotter than ever. Her lingerie sequence is almost worth renting this movie. I’d you tube it if you can instead), but Mom has been busy herself and has a different man over every night. She also has a stalker (Rocco Savastano) who spends his nights outside her house drunkenly professing his undying love for her. Like every other joke in the movie, that one is run so far into the ground that by the five or sixth time it happens, you wish a truck would just come by and plow down the dumb bastard. This also resorts to a lot of annoying mugging and whining by Hanks, particularly when a guy younger than him (Trevor Morgan) takes his mom out and then home where they loudly make love all night. “That’s my mom!”, he must say about a thousand times in the picture and not once is it funny. The plot then starts to kick into gear when Mom meets the dashing Tommy (Banderas), a fun loving gentleman who “seems too good to be true”, which of course he is. During an emergency FBI meeting that Hanks has fly off to, he learns that Tommy is one of the FBI’s ten most wanted criminals (how an FBI agent wouldn’t know that is beyond me- I guess I don’t know enough about the profession). He is told by his supervisors not to tell anyone- including mom or the fiancée. Don’t worry, no laughs come about due to this and the movie lazily limps along as Hanks and Banderas play mind games and try to one up each other until- gasp!- Banderas actually ends up being a better guy than Hanks thought. If you think I gave away too much of the plot and ruined the movie for you, don’t be mad, I did you a favor. Save your money and rent “Sleepless in Seattle” again. Remember Meg Ryan in a good way, don’t remember her in the “Fat Elvis” kind of way.

Download Soundtrack M4A:
Lemonheads- Mrs. Robinson
Ben Folds- Rockin' The Suburbs

Buy the DVD Here (Release Date: 06/17/08)


Friday, May 30, 2008

NOISE (2008)

NOISE
**

Rating
: Not Rated
Length
: 88 minutes
Director
: Henry Bean (The Believer)
Writer: Henry Bean (The Believer; Basic Instinct 2)

Starring
: Tim Robbins, William Hurt, Bridget Moynahan, Margarita Levieva, William Baldwin, Maria Ballesteros, Keir O’ Donnell, Gabrielle Brennan

Noise” is an odd movie. One that is filled to the brim with energy and not so much ideas as a single idea that it wants to let you know about for it’s entire running length. That idea, of course, is noise. Having lived in New York with a brief period of time, I can empathize with the hero of the film, David Owen (Tim Robbins- a role originally intended for Ryan Gosling) A.K.A. “The Rectifier”. Owen is a relatively calm business man who is trying to do his best to raise his family that includes a young daughter (Gabrielle Brennan) and keep his marriage to his beautiful wife, Helen (Tom Brady’s ex Bridget Moynahan) stable. When he first moved to New York he loved it- even the never ending sounds that accompanied it. One night, however, everything changed. He is listening to his wife practice her musical instrument and is interrupted by a loud, obnoxious car alarm that continues to go off. After that night, the alarms seem to never stop, the trucks in the city never seem to stop backing up, the people on cell phones are everywhere… David Owen becomes a man obsessed with noise pollution. When he, after a long night of trying to get his child to sleep, he walks down to the street and breaks into the offending car with the never ending alarm he mouths off to the police and is put in jail. After his release he is soon arrested again. He decides that since no one is willing to change anything, he’ll have to become sort of a folk superhero and so the “Rectifier” is born. The “Rectifier” is simply David dressed all in black with a hoodie, smashing in car windows, opening the hoods of the cars, and dismantling their alarms (and leaving his calling card). He also uses similar methods to stores that have irritating alarms as well. One store he vandalizes brings along the questioning of an amateur journalist named Ekaterina (the striking Margarita Levieva), who has David pegged as his alter ego. She doesn’t want to turn him in, she wants to help. David’s marriage is on hold for the moment, so he takes up a passionate affair with Ekaterina and they recruit a small team of activists and attempt to get a new law past. Only the uptight Mayor (a hilarious William Hurt) is so against “The Rectifier”, he is doing everything in his power to make sure the bill won’t pass. Sounds like a busy movie doesn’t it? Not really. There’s a lot of talk and little action. There’s action in the sense that you get to see David break into a lot of cars and stores, but not much else. Mainly he complains a lot. You can see why his wife wants to leave him. He was once a sane man and, for some reason, noise is his weakness and he can’t go on living a normal life with it. He tells a jury in a rather bland courtroom finale that in the future mankind will look back at us and be “amazed at how we lived with all of this noise!”. The movie has a message and yes, it’s hard to disagree that noise pollution is not an annoyance, but when you live in a big city like New York, it’s just part of the way of life. Like I said, I was only there for a few months and the first few weeks I would wake up at the crack of dawn to the sounds of trucks, car alarms, loud voices, horns, subways, you name it, but then a funny thing happened and the noises eventually began to soothe me. When I left Brooklyn for Reno, I found myself unable to sleep the entire time I was there. I missed the noise. Who knows? Maybe if David is to get his way and stop his obsession, he might be left with nothing to show for and maybe he’ll having trouble sleeping for a completely different reason. What would have happened if Ahab would have caught Moby Dick after all?

(I couldn’t find any of the musical score from the film- sorry! Below are some songs that I thought might have fit in well in the film)

Download MP3s:
Björk- It’s Oh So Quiet
Shy Child- Noise Won’t Stop

Buy the DVD Here

Website


Thursday, May 29, 2008

BE KIND REWIND (2008)

BE KIND REWIND
***

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 101 minutes
Director
: Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; The Science of Sleep)
Writer
: Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (story); The Science of Sleep)
Starring
: Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Sigourney Weaver, Mia Farrow, Melonie Diaz, Marcus Carl Franklin, Paul Dinello, Irv Gooch, Heather Lawless, Matt Walsh, Jon Glaser, Kid Creole

Michel Gondry is a director of limitless imagination and a vision that could only be compared to sometime collaborator Charlie Kaufman. Gondry has been fascinated with dreamlike images since his days directing groundbreaking music videos for the likes of Daft Punk and Björk (“Bachelorette” and “Human Behaviour” are two of the greatest videos ever). After an awkward debut with “Human Nature” (based on a weak Kaufman script), Gondry proved any naysayers dead wrong with his masterpiece “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (for which he and Kaufman both won Oscars for their work on the screenplay). Following up such a beloved cult classic was tough and Gondry made a bold decision to write & direct a very personal and very out there dream “romantic” comedy called “The Science of Sleep”- a movie that seems to fall in the “love it or hate it” category with most people. I thought it was wonderful and the film, being his first without Kaufman, showed that Gondry was willing to take risks and willing to let his imagination become his narrative. The movie may have had it’s minor flaws, but it’s one of those films that gets better with each viewing and more appreciated- if you didn’t care so much for it the first time try watching it again. You may get more at what the director was going for. And so that brings us to Gondry’s fourth film, “Be Kind Rewind”, which is unlike any of his prior films. Why? Because despite it’s eccentric plot, it’s Gondry’s most accessible and commercial film to date- it’s less out there than even “Eternal Sunshine” was. It follows a completely linear storyline, doesn’t vary over into weirdsville too often, and has Jack Black, well, doing his Jack Black schtick in it. It’s more of a lark than a step forward. Those expecting an expansion of the progressive work he was doing with “Science of Sleep” may be disappointed, then again maybe the lukewarm receptions for "Sleep" is why he choose this as his next project. It’s a safe choice and it’s poor showing at the box office is puzzling. The movie will most likely find a nice home now that it’s finally coming out on DVD. Those who weren’t willing to take a chance on it in the theaters (the poster, admittedly, doesn’t make it look like a very intelligent picture). Jerry (Black) and Mike (rapper Mos Def- in a role originally intended for Dave Chappelle) work at an independently owned Video Rental Store in a big city. The stubborn owner (Danny Glover) refuses to stock DVDs and the store is slowly going out of business due to the chain store across the street that only carries DVDs. The owner goes out of town and leaves Mike in charge, warning him not let the irresponsible Jerry near the store during his absence. Mike ignores the warning and Jerry, a victim of some sort of magnetizing accident (you have to see the movie to understand), accidentally erases every video in stock. What to do? Particularly when one of the owner’s friends (Mia Farrow- still weird to see without Woody Allen around) comes in and wants to rent a VHS copy of “Ghostbusters” for her teenage son. Unable to locate a copy, Mike and Jerry opt to film their own version (“She’s never seen a science-fiction movie!”, Jerry rationalizes, “She’ll probably think they’re all twenty minutes long”. Mike agrees, “If we stand far enough back then she won’t recognize us”). She comes in the next day and rents the video and wouldn’t you know it? Her kids loved it and they want more. Pretty soon the entire neighborhood wants more and Jerry and Mike and their crew- a pretty Latin dry cleaner (Melonie Diaz) and a homeless man (Irv Gooch) are hard at work trying to meet the supply and demand. Of course, the city officials and some studio lawyers lead by the heartless Ms. Lawson (Sigourney Weaver) want to tear the store down unless they can come up with enough money to meet building regulations. If they can’t come up with the money then the store will have to be re-located to the projects. Gondry and the cast have fun here and after a relatively slow start so does the audience, the energy is hard to shake off. The re-creations of the films are almost impossible not to laugh at and instead of being a one-joke premise, the core of the movie is really about the love of movies in general and people’s interpretations of them. It’s a movie that is flawed for sure, but done with such love and care that you just can’t help but love it. Gondry, I’m sure, has some bizarre new project that’s ready to push some film boundaries in the wings, but it was pleasant enough for him to make something that could appeal to a wide audience and in turn make them laugh and realize why they love movies to begin with.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Ray Parker Jr.- Ghostbusters Theme
Jack Black- Ghostbusters Theme

Buy the DVD Here (Release Date: 06/17/08)
Buy the Soundtrack Here

Website


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

THE STRANGERS (2008)

THE STRANGERS
***

Rating
: R
Length
: 80 minutes
Director
: Bryan Bertino
Writer
: Bryan Bertino
Starring
: Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward, Scott Speedman, Laura Margolis, Kip Weeks, Glenn Howerton

It’s the fear that it could happen just because that makes “The Strangers” work. Indeed one of the villains (Heath Ledger’s ex Gemma Ward) tells her victims (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) that everything is happening simply because they “were home”. The movie is a decidedly assured debut from writer/director Bryan Bertino, who uses the ol’ nudge wink wink trick of claiming the movie is based on true events, when in fact it is loosely based on a handful of separate occasions- none of which really resemble what happens here. In fact, the main inspiration for the film was an incident in Bertino’s childhood where he had a run in with a neighborhood thief. Still, it must have left one hell of an impression on him and the other events that “inspired” the film include a random house invasion that resulted in four deaths. The deadly roll of the dice when dealing with twisted and dangerous minds is more frightening than any Freddy Krueger or “Saw” could ever be. Bertino has also done his homework when it comes to making a solid horror film. The movie is set primarily in one setting- an isolated house in the woods- and has only a handful of characters- most of which barely speak- and yet he works the audience into being on the edge of their seat by simply using the most effective methods of scaring them- the element of surprise and the slow build up of tension. The invaders, dressed up in creepy masks (including an “Orphanage” looking burlap sack) toy with their victims and in turn toys with us. It’s like “Funny Games”- which the movie is all ready getting a lot of unfair comparisons too (they are both great films on their own rights, but “Games” is on a different level and has a different purpose)- in that manner, except it’s allowed to be more realistic and thus more frightening. “The Strangers” for some reason seems to be getting the wrath of most critics. These are the same critics that complain every time the studios drop a lame “Prom Night” or another “Grudge” on us and yet here is a finely crafted horror film that does exactly what it should do- it keeps you in suspense, it scares you, and it leaves you afraid to turn the light off when you get home. Only this time instead of telling yourself “it’s only a movie”, you have to think that maybe one day you might just happen to “be home”.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Joanna Newsom- Sprout and the Bean
Billy Bragg & Wilco- At Window Sad and Lonely

Find Showtimes Here
Buy the Soundtrack Here

Website


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

AMERICAN OUTLAWS (2001)

AMERICAN OUTLAWS
*

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 94 minutes
Director
: Les Mayfield (Encino Man; Blue Streak)
Writers
: Roderick Taylor (The Brave One; Open Graves) and John Rogers (Catwoman; The Core)
Starring
: Colin Farrell, Scott Caan, Ali Larter, Kathy Bates, Timothy Dalton, Gabriel Macht, Will McCormack, Harris Yulin, Ronny Cox, Terry O’Quinn, Gregory Smith. Nathaniel Arcand, Barry Tubb

Having been extremely impressed with “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Ford”, I came across “American Outlaws” and remembered it was about James as well. I barely recalled it being released into theaters, but as a western fan I had always wanted to watch it despite the overwhelmingly negative reviews I had read by the critics (it is included in Roger Ebert’s book collection of awful movies “Your Movie Sucks”). Five minutes in and I thought that maybe the critics were taking themselves too seriously, that “American Outlaws” was going to be a fun, brainless action packed western in the “Young Guns” mold. Fifteen minutes later and the sad realization sunk in that that was not going to be the case. Brainless- yes. Fun- only if you have a group of friends ready to rip the movie apart. Ebert calls the movie a “Boy Band Western” in his review and it’s an accurate description. Released in 2001, a time when dumb teen movies filled the multiplexes, the movie is an excuse to showcase “talents” like Scott Caan and Ali Larter that Hollywood kept insisting were going to be the “next big things”, but fittingly never became them. Colin Farrell managed to escape this mess, but I’m sure he thanks the heavens that “Minority Report” was released the following year, because if his career had to be judged by his performance here then he’d be in a lot of straight-to-DVD releases. The story of Jesse and Frank James has long been an easy fill for Hollywood. The story lends itself well to film, but here instead of letting the story unfold and naturally be interesting, “American Outlaws” decides to just unroll boring clichés and ridiculous action sequences (at one point, Farrell rolls across a bar shooting two six shooters and killing every “bad guy” in sight). It also awkwardly throws in James’ real life romance with his future wife, Zee Mimms (played in a Razzie worthy performance by Larter). The romantic scenes seem to actually try to outdo the awfulness of the action sequences and finally collide into one complete clusterfuck when Zee joins the gang to help rescue Jesse from chief villain Allan Pinkerton (former ‘James Bond’ Timothy Dalton). The movie’s main weakness (out of many) is it’s laughable dialogue- some of the worst in western history- witness the discussion between Farrell and Caan as Caan’s character- real life outlaw and co-gang leader Cole Younger- wants to change the name of the gang from the “James-Younger Gang” to the “Younger-James Gang”. One of the twerps in the gang chimes in that “done makes no sense ‘cuz it will confuse people! People will think that there’s an “Older James Gang”!”. Har Har.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Moby- Find My Baby
Jet Set Satellite- Baby Cool Your Jets

Buy the DVD Here
Buy the Soundtrack Here

Website



Monday, May 26, 2008

DOGFIGHT (1991)

DOGFIGHT
***½

Rating
: R
Length
: 94 minutes
Director
: Nancy Savoca (Household Saints; If These Walls Could Talk)
Writer
: Bob Comfort (Good Luck)
Starring
: River Phoenix, Lili Taylor, Brendan Fraser, Mitchell Whitfield, Anthony Clark, Richard Panebianco, E.G. Daily, Ron Lynch

Dogfight” is one of the most sadly overlooked indie gems of the 1990’s. While River Phoenix had gotten praise (and an Oscar nomination) for “Running on Empty” and for the overrated “My Own Private Idaho”, he gives the best performance of his too short career here. As does indie veteran Lili Taylor. It’s such a sweet and wonderful movie that it’s a wonder that it hasn’t gained a cult audience. It has just become another shamefully hidden treasure. Upon it’s release in 1991, it only opened in only two theaters. I remember seeing a glowing review on “Siskel & Ebert” and then it was quietly released on video where it probably ended up on the previously viewed shelf for sale soon after. If you get a chance to see this movie, do yourself a favor and do so. Yes it’s kind of a romantic picture, but it’s not a chick flick, though girls will most likely enjoy it (if they can get past the R rated language- which inspires a very funny sequence in a fancy restaurant). It’s set in 1963 and Phoenix stars as Eddie Birdlace, a young kid who along with his three friends- all together dubbed the four “B”s- Berzin (Richard Panebianco), Oakie (Anthony Clark) and Benjamin (Mitchell Whitfield) are on the eve of being shipped off to Vietnam- prior to it becoming Vietnam. As Birdlace later explains to his date, “We’re going to go for a few months, have a few laughs, and then come back”, unaware of the hell that awaits him and his friends. They decide to spend their last evening, waiting to ship off in San Francisco, by staging a “dogfight”. Not the Michael Vick kind, but a cruel contest where the sailors try to find the ugliest date and bring them to a club where they are judged and the winner gets a wad of cash. Berzin cheats by hiring a sure winner prostitute (E.G. Daily- Dottie in “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”) with a set of removable front teeth. Clueless, the others scamper to find competition. Birdlace desperately settles on a bashful waitress in a diner named Rose (Taylor). When he first sees her, she is alone in the corner strumming an acoustic guitar. He asks her what music she likes, she lists off Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan and he bullshits his way into getting her to accept a date. He waits outside while she gets ready and is annoyed to discover when she comes out to the car that she has dressed herself up to be actually pretty. They go to the dogfight and Rose ends up winning honorable mention because she drinks too much and throws up. She overhears the prostitute arguing with Berzin about her cut of the winnings and slaps Birdlace and storms out. Instead of spending the rest of the evening in drunken escapades with his friends, Birdlace tracks Rose back down and insists on making the night up to her. He explains to her that he tried to get her to leave the contest because he actually liked her. They spend the evening together dining out, walking, and getting to know each other. The screenplay is so sharp and the performances so strong that there is never a dull moment. The movie feels so right and personal that by the end of the movie you feel like you know the characters personally. The director, Nancy Savoca (making her debut), makes a brave decision and continues the movie after Birdlace returns from Vietnam, providing one of the most tender, heartbreaking conclusions I’ve ever seen. I think back to all of the indie movies that tried too hard that got too much attention in the ‘90’s and how “Dogfight” is better than most of them put together. Something tells me if River Phoenix were around today, he’d say this was his favorite out of all his movies. It’s a terrible tragedy that he isn’t around for us to find out for sure.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Bob Dylan- Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (My favorite Dylan song)
Shirley Ellis- The Nitty Gritty

Buy the DVD Here
Buy the Soundtrack Here


Sunday, May 25, 2008

SHOTGUN STORIES (2008)

SHOTGUN STORIES
***

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 92 minutes
Director
: Jeff Nichols
Writer
: Jeff Nichols
Starring
: Michael Shannon, Glenda Pannell, Douglas Ligon, Barlow Jacobs, Natalie Canerday, Lynnsee Provence, G. Alan Wilkins, Michael Abbot, Jr., Coley Canpany, Cole Hendrixson, Tucker Prentiss, Wyatt Ashton Prentiss, David Rhodes, Travis Smith

It’s no surprise that David Gordon Green (Snow Angels; All the Real Girls) went to film school with the writer/director of “Shotgun Stories”, Jeff Nichols. They both probably learned more from Terrance Malick than the film school and as Malick produced Green’s underrated masterpiece, “Undertow”, Green has produced his old friend Nichol’s film debut. The visuals are striking, the pace is slow but poetic, there is action- though most of it takes place quickly or off-screen, yet more is told through expressions and nuances than dialogue. It’s a story about a family rivalry. A family fathered by one drunken hateful man who abandoned his wife (Natalie Canerday) and three children to start a new life as a born again Christian and fathered four more children with his new wife. They all live in the same small redneck town in Arkansas and when the father dies all hell breaks loose. The abandoned children have grown up and remain extremely close. They are informed of their father’s death by their mother, whom they despise, one night as she knocks on the door and lazily tells them and then leaves. Son (Michael Shannon) is the father figure out of the brothers. He is married to good woman (Glenda Pannell- in a wonderful performance) who can’t understand why he is more loyal to his brothers than to her. He also has a son who he takes out fishing with the other two brothers- Kid (Barlow Jacobs) and Boy (Douglas Ligon). Kid is engaged to his high school sweetheart (Coley Canpany) and sleeps in a tent outside Son’s home. Boy lives in his van and coaches the middle school basketball team, which consists of three kids, and is always listening to an old Benny Mardones cassette that is stuck in his tape deck. After Son’s wife leaves him, the brothers move in. They attend their father’s funeral and Son makes a speech telling everyone in attendance- which of course includes his new family- what kind of man he really was and then he spits on his casket. The incident starts a chain of events that leads to a feud that goes from threats to violence to murder. The new family didn’t know the old version of their father and are loyal to him. Son knows maybe that he made a mistake, but is too proud to admit it. The eldest brother (Michael Abbot, Jr.) of the new family sees what is coming and tries to stop it, but it slips out of his control. The deliberately slow pace is used well to build the tension in the film and it’s a look at how gossip isn’t just something that women at hair salon’s take seriously. Most of the events in the movie are spurned by hearsay- mainly by a homeless drug dealer named Shampoo (a hilarious G. Alan Wilkins) who is sort of the messenger of doom between the two families. It’s also a movie about letting macho ego get in the way of logic and it’s one of the best examinations of a small rural Southern town in recent memory. The characters are rednecks, but they aren’t played for laughs- there are funny moments for sure, though Nichols lets us know that his characters aren’t dumb. They may not think through important decisions, but they are smarter than their appearances. Clearly, this movie isn’t for everyone. Some will be bored, others will be frustrated with some of the plot turns and the open ending. Others will appreciate the honesty and poetry of it. David Gordon Green is earning his reputation as one of the best directors of our generation and it sure is nice of him to introduce another great talent to us. “Shotgun Stories” is an excellent debut and I can’t wait to see what Jeff Nichols will do next.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Lucero- Hold Me Close
Benny Mardones- Into the Night (right click and ‘save as’)

Find Showtimes Here
Pre-order the DVD Here (Release Date: 07/01/08)

Website


Saturday, May 24, 2008

BOYS AND GIRLS (2000)

BOYS AND GIRLS
(No Stars)

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 94 minutes
Director
: Robert Iscove (She’s All That; From Justin to Kelly)
Writers
: Andrew Lowery (Simon Sez; Nothing) and Andrew Miller (Simon Sez; Nothing)
Starring
: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Claire Forlani, Jason Biggs, Amanda Detmer, Alyson Hannigan, Heather Donahue, Lisa Eichhorn

Boys and Girls” is the type of a movie where the guy and the girl- who are “just friends” even though the screenplay let’s us all know in a very obvious way that they are meant for each other- go to a club and a random song comes on (in this case Apollo 440’s Fatboy Slim knock off “Stop the Rock”) and they go on the dance floor and everybody in the whole club has some sort of a synchronized dance routine for it that would have taken a solid month to get down, yet they all are in perfect rhythm (except of course, the goofy boy who has to be taught like he’s a moron for not knowing it in first place). “Boys and Girls” is also the type of movie that during the end credits runs a scene that was presumably originally intended to be in the feature where the Jason Biggs character runs into some Victoria Secrets models in the changing area of one of their shops and they all start farting and try to get him to fart because it “turns them on”. The movie is one of the most painful film experiences I’ve ever had. I couldn’t find one single redeeming quality in it. The cast is awful- particularly Claire Forlani (thank God her career died), the characters are unlikable, and the screenplay is so wretched, unfunny, and moronic that it’s a wonder the two guys that wrote it- labeled as the “Drews”- could figure out how to use their hands to type it to begin with. Freddie Prinze Jr. and the above mentioned Forlani star as Ryan and Jennifer. They first meet as pre-teens on an airplane where nerdy Ryan frets about the flight and Jennifer announces loudly to him that she is on her period. They meet years later and somehow instantly remember each other at a high school football game. Jennifer asks Ryan out on a date and he freaks out and tells her that they aren’t the “right fit” or something stupid like that. Wouldn’t you know it? They end up at the same college and run into each other again, and then again and again. They finally decide to become friends and they give each other romance advice (Ryan briefly dates Jennifer’s roommate) not realizing that they are truly “meant for each other”. They are each supplied with sidekicks. Ryan’s roommate, Hunter (Biggs), who has an identity crisis and just wants to get laid and Jennifer’s roommate, Amy (“Saving Silverman”’s Amanda Detmer), who is also unlucky in love and has a crush on her. It’s the type of movie where even though the characters are in a college filled with thousands of other peers, they somehow stick to only having one sole friend each. The movie tries to be insightful about love and life and fails miserably. Prinze and Forlani have zero chemistry and not only get on each other’s nerves through most of the movie, they have the same effect on the audience as nails on a chalkboard. Biggs and Detmer are so one note and annoying that the ploy ending set up for them is fitting and completely predictable. If the movie has any value whatsoever it’s that it effectively killed the Freddie Prinze romantic-comedy genre (save for the one last hurrah “Head Over Heels”- which was also terrible). The recent and limp, “Jack and Jill vs. the World”, tried to revive it and thankfully went away quietly and unnoticed. People will grow nostalgic for the late ’90’s when he was a movie star, but instead of having fond memories of his movies, I think they will just wonder why they ever liked him to begin with.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Apollo 440- Stop the Rock
Vertical Horizon- Everything You Want

Buy the DVD Here
Buy the Soundtrack Here


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008)

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
***½

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 124 minutes
Director
: Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark; Jaws)
Writer
: David Koepp (Spider-man; Jurassic Park)
Starring
: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, John Hurt, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Sasha Spielberg, Ernie Reyes Jr.

It took a little bit. When the movie first started, I knew that here was Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and he was battling some Russian commie scuzz. He makes some cracks about getting older, gets betrayed by an old friend (Ray Winstone), meets his new nemesis- Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett- awesome as usual)- and ends up surviving a nuclear explosion by hiding in a the refrigerator of a perfect 1950’s model home. It’s business as usual, but it wasn’t until Jones and his new sidekick- a greaser teen named Mutt (Shia LaBeouf)- go exploring into the depths of a cave that I finally was able to relax and realize that I was, in fact, watching an Indiana Jones film. By God, it was a damn good feeling too. Like most of my peers, I was too young to ever watch any of the Indy flicks at the movies (I had a chance to see “Last Crusade”, but passed to see “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” instead, I think- a regret I still have to this day), so it was glorious to finally see all the action on the big screen. Picking up a franchise after a nineteen year hiatus is tough, but the movies have become mandatory viewing for everyone. When the box set of the last three movies were finally released on DVD, they flew off the shelves. Who doesn’t love them? And what a relief that the newest addition (and according to Spielberg- not the last), “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, is an admirably worthy addition to the legacy. You have to admire Spielberg and George Lucas for not rushing this thing out just to cash in. They even passed on scripts by high profilers Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption”), M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”), and Tom Stoppard (“Brazil”). It was worth the wait. Not to say that “Kingdom” is the best entry of the series- it isn’t- but it does fit right in. It has everything you’d want from an Indiana Jones movie- plenty of action, heart pounding chases, insane stunts, great Indy wisecracks, snakes, and even the return of Marion (Karen Allen) - Jones’ love interest from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. This time around, after escaping the nuclear explosion, Indy finds himself tracked down by Mutt, who is a friend of one of Indy’s old colleagues- Professor Oaxley (John Hurt- looking like he went straight from the set of “The Proposition” to here). Oaxley has been taken prisoner by Irina Spalko in order to help locate a hidden skull that will lead the Russians to a lost city of gold. Of course, the two have to go try to rescue him and get the skull out of the hands of those commie bastards before all hell breaks loose. It’s funny how Spielberg can prove he’s still one of the greatest film directors of all time with a third sequel to a film he made in 1981. It just goes to show you how damned talented the guy is that he is able to reconnect with an audience that might be being introduced to Indy for the first time. You can also tell that the movie is a labor of love for him and Lucas. You know that enjoyed every minute making this movie. There will be gripes from some fans I imagine that will be let down and they will search and search to find reasons why. The main ones I’ve heard are silly “there’s no way so and so could do this”, “that could never happen", etc. etc. Have people forgotten that that is the point of the films? They are based on the serials of yesteryear. Where regular people have adventures and keep the audience on the edge of their seat. Sure, nobody could actually do what the characters do in these films during the action sequences, but that’s the point. It’s fantasy. It’s a reminder of a time when an action movie could be illogical with it’s actions, but didn’t treat it’s audience like it was stupid. It just gave them every cent worth of the ticket they bought to see it. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" made every cent worth it. Good to have you back Dr. Jones.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Elvis Presley- Hound Dog
John Williams- Indiana Jones Theme

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Monday, May 19, 2008

SPEED RACER (2008)

SPEED RACER
**½

Rating
: PG
Length
: 135 minutes
Directors
: Larry Wachowski (The Matrix; Bound) and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix; Bound)
Writers
: Larry Wachowski (The Matrix; Bound) and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix; Bound)
Starring
: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Matthew Fox, Scott Porter, Paulie Litt, Kick Gurry, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ji Hoon Jung, Richard Roundtree, Christian Oliver, Benno Furmann, Nayo K. Wallace, Roger Allam, Peter Fernandez, Cosma Shiva Hagen

Leave it to the Wachowski Brothers- the brains behind “The Matrix” trilogy and the lesbian noir thriller “Bound”- to deliver this summer’s most bizarre children’s movie. The film adaptation of the classic/cult Japanimation cartoon series “Speed Racer” comes off as a sincere homage backed with out of this world effects that sometime blow you away and other times have you feel like you’re watching the actors acting in front of the green screen with a Sega Genesis game as their backdrop (or Sega Saturn really if you want to get dorky about it). You have to hand it to them. Even if it has a serious case of A.D.D. and sugar overload, it is a labor of love from it’s makers. There was no half-assing it involved here. Young Speed Racer (Nicholas Elia) dreams of becoming a famous race car driver just like his older brother Rex (“Friday Night Light”’s Scott Porter). The whole Racer family works as a team. Dad Racer (John Goodman) builds the cars with his assistant Sparky (Kick Gurry), while Mom (Susan Sarandon) makes the meals. After a disagreement, Rex leaves the family to go off on his own and a tragic accident occurs. Years later and Speed (now played by Emile Hirsch) has stepped right into Rex’s shoes and is the talk of the racing circuit. He is being courted by an evil corporation named Royalton industries which has a secret agenda in fixing races. Speed is forced to take team with racing rival Racer X (“Lost”’s Matthew Fox), who may or may not be Speed’s presumed deceased brother, Rex. All of this while trying to prepare for the Grand Prix and trying to keep ultra-supportive girlfriend Trixie (a super hot Christina Ricci) happy. The movie is so full of visuals that it’s a bit of an attack on the senses, sometimes in a good way. The Wachowskis are known for the visionary skills and they show off well, even with the Sega backdrops. The problem, though, as it was with the end of the “Matrix” films is that the story and dialogue sometimes take a back seat to those visuals and the action. The brothers are so excited to put it all on the table that they forget that there’s other things that needed to be tendered to to make a successful film- even if it is just for kids. Even the action occasionally is so frantic that it’s tough to decipher just what exactly what in the hell is happening (plus seeing John Goodman kick ass in slow motion is just kind of weird in it’s own right, don’t you think?). The cast is game and know what their directors are looking for, though my main problem with the film was the character of Speed’s little brother, Spritle (Paulie Litt), a hyper and chubby little kid who’s best friend is a monkey named Chum Chum. The character is beyond annoying and appears as if he has sugar pumping directly into his blood stream at all times (there’s also some super strange fantasy sequences involving him too that are really out of place). That aside, the movie is fun, if a bit overlong, though I have feeling most parents that take their kids won’t be reminiscing about when they used to watch the cartoon as much as they will be scratching their heads.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Michael Giacchino- Speed Racer
Michael Giacchino- Let Us Drink Milk

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (1998)

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS
****

Rating
: R
Length
: 118 minutes
Director
: Terry Gilliam (Brazil; Twelve Monkeys)
Writers
: Terry Gilliam (Brazil; Time Bandits), Tony Grisoni (Tideland; Brothers of the Head), Alex Cox (Repo Man; Sid and Nancy), and Tod Davies (Three Businessmen)
Starring
: Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Cameron Diaz, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Ellen Barkin, Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton, Mark Harmon, Flea, Penn Jillette, Craig Bierko, Lyle Lovett, Hunter S. Thompson, Verne Troyer, Christopher Meloni, Laraine Newman, Michael Jeter, Katherine Helmond, Tim Thomerson, Richard Portnow, Debbie Reynolds

Cult animated filmmaker Ralph Bashki (Fritz the Cat; Cool World) once spent a weekend with one of Hunter S. Thompson’s girlfriend’s in the ‘80’s trying to convince her to sell him the rights to make a cartoon version of Thompson’s masterpiece “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” accompanied by the drawings of Thompson illustrator Ralph Steadman. Thompson had given her the rights after his unhappiness with the earlier flat bio-pic of him, “Where the Buffalo Roam”. Bashki failed and said a cartoon version would be the only proper way to make a film of the book. Many years later when Bashki saw Terry Gilliam’s live action version he said that he was “right”, that Gilliam had essentially made a cartoon version of the film. Like most of my contemporaries (unless they are bullshitting you), I knew little about Hunter S. Thompson before I saw this film. I had read a few of his Rolling Stone articles, but had never read “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” or any of his other works. I went to the theaters in 1998 because it was a Terry Gilliam film about drugs that had Johnny Depp in it. The movie blew me away and my cousin Curtis and I ended up seeing it at the AMC Orange Park four times in the two weeks that they actually played it. I took an interest in Thompson immediately and start picking up some of his books. Though I never picked up “Vegas”. The movie had been so panned by critics- critics who I assume were aggravated because they didn’t think the movie did the book justice- that I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it just yet. That maybe somehow it would ruin the film for me. Now at the age of twenty six, I finally have read the book. What can I say? It was brilliant. Worth all the praise. The day after I finished it, I popped in the Criterion DVD of the movie and watched it. I was very pleased that the book hadn’t ruined it, though I believe they are two separate entities- if that makes any sense. I laughed a lot when I read the book, even though I had all ready laughed at the same bits during the many times I had seen the film over the years. The book had, of course, a lot of parts that didn’t make it into the movie and the movie had parts that it elaborated on that worked. And ol’ Bashki was right- the movie is essentially a live action cartoon. That’s what makes it work so well. “Sid and Nancy”/”Repo Man” director Alex Cox was one of the handful of directors (including Martin Scorsese) who tried to bring a film adaptation to the screen (he is credited with co-writing the script here, but only due to some bullshit Writers Guild rule). As much as I respect Cox, I don’t think he could have made a version of the movie that would have done the book justice. Gilliam, the only American “Monty Python” member and one of the best living directors we have around, has the eye and imagination needed to make it work. Anyone who has seen the documentary “Lost in La Mancha” knows how his mind works, how much of a perfectionist he is. Only the man who brought movies like “Brazil” and “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” could have pulled this off. Johnny Depp is absolutely perfect as Thompson- or Raoul Duke rather. Thompson himself vetoed the casting of John Cusack after meeting Depp, saying he was the only person that could play him properly. Benicio Del Toro as Thompson’s attorney, Oscar Acosta (or Dr. Gonzo as he is referred here), is also perfect. They fit in with the madness and are willing to go as far as Gilliam needs them to. Watching it again, I was even more amazed at Gilliam’s work, mystified that the critics didn’t appreciate what he had done, yet vindicated that movie has deservedly become a cult classic over the years (even if it means putting up with a bunch of dorks repeating the “bat country” line whenever you mention the movie to them). I’ll never forget leaving the theater after watching this for the first time. I had seen a movie that was like nothing I had ever seen before, from a director that I had all ready loved, but this time backed by a voice that was new to me. That doesn’t happen every day.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Three Dog Night- Mama Told Me Not to Come
The Dead Kennedys- Viva Las Vegas

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Buy the Book Here


Saturday, May 17, 2008

10 ITEMS OR LESS (2006)

10 ITEMS OR LESS

Rating
: R
Length
: 82 minutes
Director
: Brad Silberling (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events; City of Angels)
Writer: Brad Silberling (Moonlight Mile)

Starring
: Morgan Freeman, Paz Vega, Jonah Hill, Danny DeVito, Anne Dudek, Kumar Pallana, Rhea Pearlman, Bobby Cannavale, Jim Parsons, Leonardo Nam, Jennifer Echols

10 Items or Less” starts off with the appeal of an early/mid 90’s indie picture and then slowly (and I do mean slowly…) ends up wearing out it’s welcome and coming across as a poor man’s “Lost in Translation”- particularly when you learn that writer/director Brad Silberling isn’t much of an indie figure at all. He’s the guy that brought the world the film version of “Casper” and “City of Angels”. Somewhere a small movie that deserved a chance was shelved for this one instead and that’s a real shame. A movie star played by Morgan Freeman (and implied to be Morgan Freeman) visits a small L.A. food market to research his comeback role for an independent picture where he may or may not be set to play a market manager. He’s dropped off by a stoner crew member (Jonah Hill- irritating. His schtick is wearing thin) and immediately gravitates to the 10 items or less line run by the sassy Spanish Scarlet (Paz Vega). After her shift ends, Freeman realizes his ride has left him and Scarlet offers to give him a ride home, but she has some errands to run first. And so begins their day together- they stop by and see her idiot ex-husband (Bobby Cannavale), shop at Target, prep Scarlet for a job interview, etc. Not much happens, which can be okay if you have a film that can rely on it’s characters and dialogue to pull you through, but “10 Items or Less” can’t cut it. Freeman (who also co-produced) is, without a doubt, an incredibly talented actor and he’s allowed to be lose here for a change. He has plenty of charm, but something about him starts to wear thin. He’s almost too charming. As the “fish out of water” in a lower class section of L.A., he doesn’t have the wear of life that Bill Murray brought to “Lost in Translation”. He’s too happy if you know what I mean. Vaga seems like she was picked after Penelope Cruz turned down the role. She has talent and I’d like to see her turn up in something better suited for it. The interactions between the two come off as forced. Silbering likes his idea, but he isn’t sure what to do with it. It’s almost like he wrote the script and had to think of places for his characters to kill time so they could make to the end of the movie. There’s plenty of jokes riffing on Freeman’s movies with Ashley Judd- which end up in various places in the discount bin in the movie. Funny, I imagine this movie will have a place in the same bin pretty soon.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Paul Simon- Duncan
Cypress Hill- Latin Thugs

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Friday, May 16, 2008

VINCE VAUGHN'S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW: 30 DAYS & 30 NIGHTS- HOLLYWOOD TO THE HEARTLAND (2008)

VINCE VAUGHN'S WILD WEST COMEDY SHOW: 30 DAYS & 30 NIGHTS- HOLLYWOOD TO THE HEARTLAND
**

Rating
: R
Length
: 100 minutes
Director
: Ari Sandel (West Bank Story; Brad Cutter Ruined My Life… Again)
Starring
: Vince Vaughn, Justin Long, Jon Favreau, Dwight Yoakam, Ahmed Ahmed, Peter Billingsley, Keir O’Donnell, Buck Owens, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst, Sebastian Maniscalo, Taylor Hackford

When I saw the trailer for the new Vince Vaughn documentary (deep breath…) “Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights- Hollywood to the Heartland”, I was pretty stoked. Vince Vaughn is one of my favorite actors and has the ability to make me laugh usually just by pretty much appearing on screen (I was crying laughing before he even spoke in “Anchorman”- I am a weirdo). The premise of the doc is pretty simple- Vince gathered a handful of hand picked up and coming comics he admired and decided to do a tour- “Just like Buffalo Bill did” according to him- across the heartland of America. Not a bad idea. The stand up comedy docs have had prior success in Jerry Seinfeld’s underrated “Comedian” and Spike Lee’s “The Kings of Comedy” (not the dozen knock offs that followed though). This doc, however, does not work. The comics Vaughn has chosen just simply are not very funny. Not funny enough to carry an entire film anyway. I can only imagine the poor saps that were drawn in to the show due to Vaughn’s name on the Marquee, saw about fifteen minutes of a usually very tired Vaughn (or so it seems), and then had to sit through the weak routines of the comics he brought along. John Caparulo has the most presence of the bunch, but even he seems like a doomed contestant on “Last Comic Standing”. Vaughn occasionally brings along some guests- “Swingers”/ “Made” partner (and “Iron Man” director) Jon Favreau, “Dodgeball” co-star Justin Long, “Wedding Crashers” co-star Keir O’Donnell, Dwight Yoakam, “Christmas Story”’s “Ralphie” (and one of the movie’s producers) Peter Billingsley, etc., but they are mostly wasted. Particularly the bit with Favreau and Long, which Long is literally asked to play waiter to the other two. Billingsley’s bit is one of the movie’s highlights as he provides some old footage of his and Vaughn’s appearance in an ‘80’s after-school special about steroids (all I could think about was that scene in “Swingers” where Vince talks about his after-school special audition). Other than that, the other aspects of the documentary fail to be of interest. The behind the scenes parts are dull with mostly the comics whining about the chores of being on tour or how their performances bombed (in which they are mostly correct). There’s also a really forced Hurricane Katrina portion in which Vaughn, very nicely, puts on a benefit show for the victims- though some of the comics complain about having to hand out free tickets to the victims, which is a bit appalling. All in all, the driving force of the movie -Vince himself- isn’t as charismatic as usual, the editing is sloppy, the comics aren’t funny, and the road trip isn’t very interesting. During a video round up before one of the shows, a fan declares something along the lines of “If Vince thinks these guys are funny, then I completely trust him!”. I hope she had a lot of drinks.

Download Soundtrack M4As:
Johnny Cash- Get Rhythm
Elvis Presley- Too Much

Pre-order the DVD Here (Release Date: 06/03/08)

Website


Thursday, May 15, 2008

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS... (2008)

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS…
**

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 99 minutes
Director
: Tom Vaughn (“Big Love”; “John From Cincinnati”)
Writer
: Dana Fox (The Wedding Date)
Starring
: Cameron Diaz, Ashton Kutcher, Lake Bell, Queen Latifah, Dennis Miller, Zach Galifianakis, Dennis Farina, Treat Williams, Rob Corddry, Deirdre O’Connell, Jason Sudeikis, Krysten Ritter, Andrew Daly, Amanda Setton

Well, you’ve got a strictly by the books romantic-comedy starring two of Hollywood’s least talented leading stars- and yet somehow the movie is strangely watchable. Ashton Kutcher is Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz is exactly the way Anna Faris mocked her in “Lost in Translation”. They don’t seem to have a lot of chemistry, the jokes are predictable and stale, and you know what’s going to happen five minutes before it does, but somehow the movie is mildly entertaining- forgettable, but mildly entertaining. Diaz plays uptight stockbroker Joy McNally, who is dumped by her fiancée (“Saturday Night Live”’s Jason Sudeikis) at a surprise birthday party she throws for him. She had purchased two tickets to Las Vegas as his present and her best friend, Tipper (Lake Bell- an actress I am really starting to become fond of), convinces her they should go anyway. Meanwhile, slacker (surprise!) man-child, Jack (Kutcher), is fired by his own father (Treat Williams). His best friend, incompetent lawyer, Hater (Rob Corddry), convinces him they need to go to Vegas to party down. Through a mistake by the hotel, the two couples are booked in the same room. They end up partying together and guess what? Joy and Jack wake up married! After deciding it’d be best to get an annulment, they play a slot machine and win three million dollars. It was Joy’s quarter, but Jack pulled the lever (“Sour Grapes” anyone?). A judge (Dennis Miller- really hungry for work apparently) orders the couple to try their best at marriage for six months and they can keep the money. Fail and they will lose it all. Joy is forced to move in with Jack and their personalities and lifestyles clash. But wouldn’t you know it? As much as they try to sabotage each other to get the money all to themselves, they start to actually fall in love. You probably didn’t even need to read this far into the review to guess that. Hell, you probably could have guessed it by just looking at the poster for the movie. Romantic-comedy fans should be pleased, others may be bored. I don’t know, maybe I was just in a good mood or something. Two stars certainly isn’t a flattering review, but in this case it was a lot higher than I expected when I popped it in tonight. Your girlfriend/wife could certainly pick out something worse to watch.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Mika- Grace Kelly
Junior Senior- Can I Get Get Get

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

JOSHUA (2007)

JOSHUA
**

Rating
: R
Length
: 106 minutes
Director
: George Ratliff (Hell House; Purgatory County)
Writers
: George Ratliff (End Zone) and David Gilbert (End Zone)
Starring
: Sam Rockwell, Vera Farmiga, Jacob Kogan, Dallas Roberts, Michael McKean, Celia Weston, Nancy Giles, Linda Larkin, Alex Draper, Jodie Markell

You’ve seen one “Evil Child” movie, you’ve seen them all. “Joshua” is no different. Bound to draw comparisons to “The Omen”, “The Bad Seed”, and even the Macaulay Culkin disaster “The Good Son”, “Joshua” asserts itself into the unmemorable section of it’s genre. A shame really, because it has a lot of potential. The cast is dynamite. The always reliable Sam Rockwell is excellent, as if Vera Farmiga, whom I loathed in “The Departed”. Jacob Kogan as the title character/boy from hell is also creepy and effective. The problem is we’ve just seen the story one too many times and there’s nothing really new or different about “Joshua” for it to stand out. Rockwell and Farmiga are an upper class Manhattan family who welcome a newborn baby girl into their family. Their nine year old son, Joshua (Kogan), is instantly jealous. He all ready feels like an outsider and one day stumbles across a video cassette that reveals the horrific post mortem depression his mother went through after his birth. Joshua also senses that his Dad might not really love him. Accidents start to happen, pets start to die, strange events take place without explanations and the finger points to the kid, but he’s too smart to let anyone but dear old dad catch on. The movie isn’t as bloody or terrifying as “The Omen”, which I believe it will get the most comparisons to. It has moments of tension and suspense (the cinematography is very well done), but it just doesn’t add up to anything special. If you’re going to tread familiar waters, it helps to have a dynamite cast, but you have to help them out a little. You have to give them something new to do.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
Dave Matthews- The Fly
Gomez- See the World

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Buy the Soundtrack Here

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

UNDER THE SAME MOON (2008)

UNDER THE SAME MOON
**½

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 106 minutes
Director
: Patricia Riggen (Family Portrait; The Cornfield)
Writer
: Ligiah Villalobos (One World; “Ed”)
Starring
: America Ferrera, Adrian Alonso, Kate del Castillo, Eugenio Derbez, Jesse Garcia, Angelina Pelaez, Carmen Salinas, Maria Rojo, Maya Zapata, Gabriel Porras, Gustavo Sanchez Parra, Los Tigres del Norte

Under the Same Moon”, despite it’s unjustified PG-13 rating, is the perfect family film for a family that doesn’t mind subtitles. Nine year old Carlos (Adrian Alonso) is stuck in Mexico under the care of his Grandmother, while his mother (Kate del Castillo) works in Los Angeles. They meet every Sunday through a pay phone. She has been trying to bring him into the States, but she can’t figure a way out. After Grandma passes on, Carlos decides to track down his mother on his own- and so begins his odyssey into America as an illegal immigrant. It’s a road movie in the tradition of most road movies. Carlos meets a lot of eccentric characters, some good, some bad. His cousin (“Ugly Betty”’s America Ferrera) and her boyfriend attempt to get him into the States, but have some unfortunate luck. Carlos meets a hardened illegal alien (Eugenio Derbez) who at first dislikes the boy, then grows to love him after the boy goes out of his way to make sure he finds work. We all know how the picture will end and that’s both good and bad. There’s nothing new here and though it’s entertaining, it does tend to be a tad slow. One thing that did bother me about the film though was it’s portrayal of the border patrol and most Americans being evil towards immigrants- even some of the Mexicans were portrayed with not so pure hearts too (Ferrera’s character and the boyfriend are helping out Carlos more so for money than for him being family). It’s as if the boy and the mother are the only two pure souls under the moon. Resorting to stereotypes in a movie that is so sweet and heartwarming at parts is a bit insulting to it’s audience. Though, like I said it would be a great family movie if everyone in the family doesn’t mind subtitles. Underneath all the easy pokes lies a very good movie. It’s a shame it had to point fingers to tell it’s story.

Download Soundtrack MP3:
Sarah Brightman- No One Like You

Find Showtimes Here
Pre-order the DVD Here (Available on 6/17/08)
Buy the Soundtrack Here

Website


Monday, May 12, 2008

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN? (2008)

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?
**

Rating
: PG-13
Length
: 93 minutes
Director
: Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me)
Writers
: Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and Jeremy Chilnick
Starring
: Morgan Spurlock, Alexandra Jamieson

Morgan Spurlock lucked out with a documentary that told people something that was very obvious- fast food is bad for you. How many people eat fast food and actually think they are doing their body a favor? Not to say that “Super Size Me” wasn’t an entertaining documentary. I liked it. It didn’t sway my opinion on McDonald’s like it did with everyone else that watched it (and then went back to eating it again in a couple of a months). The movie earned an Oscar nomination and a television series for Spurlock on the FX network called “30 Days”, where he basically milked his “I’ll try such and such for thirty days to show you how to tough or unhealthy it is to do it”. Now, like the last kid to finish the race, he comes along with his Iraq war doc, “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?”, in which Spurlock goes on a world wide search for the “most hated” man in America (now that Saddam is dead, of course). The movie goes to show what many all ready knew- Spurlock can be entertaining, but as a documentarian he isn’t exactly Errol Morris. Why the Weinstein Brothers paid a whole lot of millions to obtain the rights to this movie (after only seeing the first fifteen minutes) is beyond me. America is over Iraq war movies- not just with documentaries (though the Oscars seem to believe different), but with movies even dealing with the subject (look at the box office receipts for “Stop Loss” and “Lion for Lambs”, etc.). We all care deeply about the war and want it to end, but seriously how many more movies do we need about it? Those who have seen the picture may question if it is even a war doc to begin with. After all, Spurlock is mainly just exposing the myths both sides of the war have against each other and he “comically” pulls a Carmen Sandiago in trying to find Osama. So maybe describing it as a war doc is unfair, yet it is impossible to not have it on your mind while viewing the picture and I believe that was an intentional choice on Spurlock’s part. Spurlock’s charisma is also an acquired taste (to put it best). His “I’m smarter than you, yet on the same level as the common man” approach can get old and annoying rather quickly. Was I entertained by this documentary? Sort of. Did I learn anything? Not really. Morgan Spurlock may have got McDonald’s to end their “Super Size” option on their menus, but I’m not really sure what he’s trying to accomplish here. By now, most Americans are smart enough to know that Osama Bin Laden is not the big bad boogeyman that our government has built him up to be. He is, without a doubt, a criminal and a danger to society, but he isn’t waiting in New York City to blow up anything anytime soon. Maybe he’s hanging out with those weapons of mass destruction- or maybe he 's hanging out at the local McAdee's ordering a Big Mac.

Download Soundtrack MP3s:
MC Hammer- U Can’t Touch This
Elvis Costello & the Attractions- What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding (right click and “save as”)

Find Showtimes Here

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