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Showing posts from May, 2011

(500) Days of Summer

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my rating: 3 out of 5
Completely naive and expecting fate to pick his wife for him, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), falls hard for Summer (Zooey Deschanel). This is a great "end of summer" movie.
500 Days of Summer is a quirky and romantic look at a young person's struggle with finding true love. I didn't absolutely love this movie, nor did I hate it. Director Marc Webb definitely gets inventive with some of the chronoligical narrative, and the split-screen technique employed in interesting ways. i think that's why I gave it three stars. I want to say, in my heart, that it's a modern day version of Annie Hall, but I think people would get offended if I said that. But, I guess I just said it. :)





Michael Jackson's This Is It

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my rating: 4 out of 5
My relationship to Michael Jackson and his art is very similar to most of the general public. When I was a kid, I remember watching the classic videos on tv. We all know what they are: "Beat It", "Billie Jean", "Thriller", "Bad", and "The Way You Make Me Feel." Going into the 90's, as an elementary and then middle schooler, it was no longer "cool" to admit being a fan. Michael's public persona grew more questionable, and the first accusation against him in the early 90's was a damning judgement against his personal character. The accusation seemed to verify what many mainstream fans instinctively suspected: this weirdo guy with the plastic surgery who owns the zoo/ranch is into kids too much. Even though they settled out of court, it was a destructive turn of events to Michael Jackson's reputation.

There was always an inner conflict with me. I laughed along with any Michael Jackson joke I h…

What Just Happened?

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my rating: 3 out of 5

I went into this because I love Robert Deniro. There are many great performances, however, including Stanley Tucci, Bruce Willis, and a pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart as the daughter.
I find most movies about showbiz appealing. This movie is about one producer's (Robert DeNiro) battle to get a controversial movie made because there is so much money invested in it. At the same time, he is trying to get another movie off the ground that stars a very precocious Bruce Willis as himself. The editing style is embarrassingly similar to Sideways in that it allows scenes to breath, yet it will abruptly switch to a new scene every now and then. Yet, I was interested throughout and it kept the pace fast.
DeNiro is so convincing, it carried me through. A lesser actor couldn't make this work. Bruce Willis is also fascinating playing (a version of) himself. It made me curious to know how much of that was the real Bruce Willis, and how much is "put on". I rated it…

Step Brothers

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my rating: 3 out of 5

I am really torn between two and three stars here. I am traditionally a HUGE HUGE fan of Will Ferrell. I love RonBurgundy, Talladega Nights, Elf, and similar Will Ferrell comedies. However, this one gave me reservations because of the crudeness. And, my reservations were totally justified. There are some really dirty jokes. I'm kind of torn between two and three stars. But, I'm going to go ahead with three stars because there are some jokes that have really stuck with me since I've seen it.

Will Ferrell and John C Reilly play fully grown, but juvenile and immature children who are forced to live together when their parents decide to get together. It is ridiculous, but hilarious. John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell are so utterly convincing as lazy clueless adult children that you really feel invested in these characters.

Mary Steenburgen plays the perfect over-nurturing mother. Richard Jenkins plays the father, and his performance is probably the best one …

The Hottie and the Nottie

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my rating: 3 out of 5


Okay, I get it. Paris Hilton is not Meryl Streep. But, with all of this film's obvious mediocrity, something totally took me by surprise. This movie actually has a heart. I mean, I know the story is predictable. (8th grader could have written it, just about.) I know the acting is mostly not good. (Paris Hilton) But darn it, how do you not fall in love with Christine Lakin? I mean, her "beautiful" scenes are wonderful. Come on! It's "Al" from "Step By Step." Right? I mean, how do you not LOVE that? I actually found myself laughing here and there. This was a great rental. Never would have watched it on the big screen. Paris Hilton sort of weighed down some scenes with her lack of acting. The music is mostly bad, but really touching near the end. The lead dude was tolerable. And, Christine Lakin was fantastic. (In a low budget kind of no-expectations kind of way.) I went in with a one star expectation, and it delivered more. So, …

Live Free or Die Hard

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Turn on the hi-def widescreen, the surround sound, and break out the popcorn. McClane is back, and he's as snarky as ever. This time, he's facing cyber-terrorists in modern America. Even though he has trouble keeping up with the technological aspect of the battle, he has no trouble at all shooting, punching, or blowing up anything in his way. He's been down this road before, and maybe he can teach these techno-terrorists a thing or two the old-school way. The action scenes are nearly laughable because they're so over-the-top. But, the ambition is there to make this a really intense "guy" movie. And, it definitely delivers. Bruce Willis still has what it takes. His performance is wonderful. But, let's not get sidetracked. This movie is not about "good performances" or any of that garbage. It's about great entertainment. This is a much-needed refresher to the Die Hard series.

John McClane is still operating in the information age. Even though …

I Am Number Four: Now on DVD

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I Am Number Four starts out with a panoramic shot of the Earth. The shot zooms in on a jungle, where we are introduced to two dudes hanging out in a hut of some sort. They hear a small noise, then a loud crash. A giant dinosaur/evil alien creature breaks in, and chases these two dudes into the jungle. We are then, as the audience, emerged into an X-Box game. There's leaping, dodging, roaring, and ultimately death. I don't think it ruins the plot to tell you this.


There are many action scenes throughout this flick that had me yawning. These scenes had all the appeal of watching someone else play a video game. Between the action, we have to sit through "dramatic" scenes that have the performance quality of Twilight melo-drama, and the dialouge of a half-baked Stephen King short story. And it draws out for two whole hours.
I am Number Four is obviously geared toward younger teenage X-Box playing males. There's absolutely nothing wrong with younger teenage X-Box play…

Ed Wood: You May Have Missed It

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Ed Wood is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's easy to gush over it. It's funny, surprising, and giddy with inspiration. Since I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: On StrangerTides this past weekend, it brought this old Johnny Depp gem to mind.

Just start with the cast: Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Martin Landau (in an Oscar winning performance.) Throw in Tim Burton as the director, and you've got a winner.
Ed Wood is based on the true story of legendary horrible Hollywood movie director Ed Wood, Jr. His ambition far outweighed his wit, and his struggles to "make it" are simply hilarious. Ed Wood is hilarious, but it also has a heart. Ed befriended washed up movie icon Bela Lugosi (played incredibly by Martin Landau), and their relationship is truly touching. Ed is hoping Bela can boost his struggling directing career. And, Bela is reluctantly glad to have friends again. It's a story of acceptance, and eccentric bands of friends w…

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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Over the weekend, I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides at the drive-in. Yes, an old-fashioned, real deal drive-in. I believe this enhances the moviegoing experience; being under the stars, with a loved one, sippin' my Dew and eatin' m'popcorn. Then, at least if the movie is horrible, it has been a fun experience.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is a great movie, though. It's got Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow again. It has Penelope Cruz as a hot pirate. It has mermaids, explosions, jokes, and a really cool adventure vibe. It's at least ten times better than any of the other pirate movies.
As the movie began, I was really expecting the same 'ol schlock we got from the first three pirate movies. The first three are mostly incoherent. There is always some kind of MacGuffin that forces the stories forward. It's usually like a lost treasure, in the case of pirate movies, or a magical portal, or a large amount of money, or even a person. In …

Glen Garry GlenRoss: in case you missed it

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Take an office full of struggling and jaded salesmen on a rainy night and add a "sales contest" in order to see who gets to keep their jobs, and you have one compelling premise for a play. This play, written by David Mamet, was made into a movie in 1992. (Ok, the rainy night wasn't in the play, that was added for the movie). Probably because of the potency of the writing, A-listers were attracted to this piece like movie star moths to a flame. It's comprised of Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, Al Pacino (in an Oscar nominated performance), and Alec Baldwin (who only appears in one scene that's probably his most famous scene in all his acting career). "Glengarry Glen Ross" is the name of the real estate firm that sells plots of land.

Every single performance in this movie is scorching. I could drone on about each one in detail, but it would almost warrant individual blog entries in order to hash it all out. All I will say is, watch it fo…

3 quick reviews

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Megamind my rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Delightfully witty and fun feel-good comedy. With the now-expanding number of these computer animated movies, Megamind stands out. Fun for kids, and rich with humor. It has hints of the greatness of The Incredibles, with the character charm of any Pixar movie. Dreamworks has done well. Will Ferrell and Tina Fey are wonderful in their roles as the villain, and the love interest.




It's Kind of a Funny Story my rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Zach Galifianakis is capable in the role of recovering crazy in the hospital mental ward. However, his full comedic genius is never fully unleashed. He is confined to a super-sweet, genuine man who is helping 16 year old Craig sort things out. He convinces teenage Craig that, despite his problems, he is young, full of potential, and smart. An interesting endeavor, Its Kind of a FunnyStory is somewhere between made-for-tv dramedy and indie film hipness.




A Dog Year my rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
This is a well-meaning st…

Exploring Woody Allen

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This friday (on May 20), Midnight in Paris will be released in the United States. It is written and directed by Woody Allen.


You can't understand Woody Allen films unless you understand the catalog of Woody Allen films. That establishes the context of his movies. You see, Woody Allen, in my opinion, is a hit or miss director. But, the guy has been making movies for over thirty years. They range from disturbing garbage, mediocre, average, all the way to brilliant cinema art.

If you discuss any Woody Allen film, you're opening a can of worms, of sorts. Everyone has a strong opinion about Allen. He's a polarizing guy. He's got a long list of ex-wives. He's had a lurid personal life that includes a scandalous marriage to Soon-Yi Previn, who was almost his step-daughter.

This weird moral controversy seems to spill into his films, as well. That's because Woody Allen seems to have so much creative control in all his films. He basically writes, directs, and produces all…

Everything Must Go

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Nick (Will Ferrell) has lost his high-powered job, and his wife. In the same day. Since his wife has locked him out of the house and dumped his stuff in the front yard, he must figure out what to do next.



This is the basic story of Everything Must Go, the new "dramedy" from director / writer Dan Rush. It definitely has a warm vibe, and an indie film vibe. People are raving about Will Ferrell's "understated" performance and his acting ability. I sort of agree.

My Thoughts on Ferrell's acting

Yes, Will Ferrell is a talented actor. This one, strangely, hits close to home with me. I used to be involved in quite a bit of acting, theater, and mostly improv comedy. I still have friends heavily involved in acting and comedy. Now, I think I'm more talented at the improv type stuff than I am at "real", or intense "acting." I would rather be a goofball than play Hamlet. I am, by no means, an expert. But, I have been in plays, small film projects,…

Friday the 13th (2009)

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My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Friday the 13th franchise has been around nearly thirty years. It's been through a lot of changes over the years, but a few things remain: it's still a low-budget, tounge-in-cheek, violent slasher series that doesn't take itself too seriously. From Friday the 13th part 3: 3D (yes, the original theatrical release was red and blue 3D!) to Freddy versus Jason (mixing the Nightmare on Elm St. and Friday the 13th series in an epic battle movie), to Jason X (where a group of astronauts must fight Jason in outer space, in the future. Yeah.) the Friday the 13th series has been full of gimmicks. It has also helped pioneer the slasher movie template we all know today, like, "group of teens goes to camp / gets lost / cell phone dies / car won't start / laughable acting and dialouge / crazy slasher picks them off one by one". This template is epitomized best in 80's flicks, and has since kind of died down. You can still find examples …

Exploring Woody Allen

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This friday (on May 20), Midnight in Paris will be released in the United States. It is written and directed by Woody Allen.


You can't understand Woody Allen films unless you understand the catalog of Woody Allen films. That establishes the context of his movies. You see, Woody Allen, in my opinion, is a hit or miss director. But, the guy has been making movies for over thirty years. They range from disturbing garbage, mediocre, average, all the way to brilliant cinema art.

If you discuss any Woody Allen film, you're opening a can of worms, of sorts. Everyone has a strong opinion about Allen. He's a polarizing guy. He's got a long list of ex-wives. He's had a lurid personal life that includes a scandalous marriage to Soon-Yi Previn, who was almost his step-daughter.

This weird moral controversy seems to spill into his films, as well. That's because Woody Allen seems to have so much creative control in all his films. He basically writes, directs, and produces all…

Morning Glory: Now on DVD

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See this movie! It is a wonderfully warm, funny, inspiring, cheesey, and involving bit of escapism.


Rachel McAdams churns out a thoroughly hokey performance as Becky Fuller, a young ambitious morning "news" show producer. I say "news" in quotes because these are the types of morning shows that focus on new cooking recipes, celebrity gossip, and other types of mindless early morning entertainment.
Becky Fuller (Rachel McAdams) must take this failing morning news show dinosaur that is in the basement of ratings and try to turn it around. It's fun to watch Diane Keaton playing the willing morning show hostess, and the scene-stealing legend Harrison Ford, (who is the real anchor of this movie). Appropriately enough, Harrison Ford's character is a legend of the news world.
Jeff Goldblum, who is one of my favorite actors, also plays a smaller role as a network manager who must control television programming.
Morning Glory is charming because it is not overly prete…

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: part 1: Now on DVD

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 has been available on DVD since April, but now Redbox users and Netflix subscribers may now rent it, too.

Harold Potter, Phd in wizardry, is nearing his end at Hogwarts. It has been a fun ride. Harry and the other kids are like the kids that grow up down the street. We know them. They are in the background of our lives for years. Then, one day, we realize they're all grown up. That day, so to speak, is Deathly Hallows: part 1.



Deathly Hallows: part 1 welled up emotions in me about Harry Potter that I didn't know I had. My li'l Potter is all grown up! *tear*. It was quite emotional to experience the panoramic, dark, emotional, exhilirating, and long-paced Deathly Hallows: part 1. Admittedly, I have only read the first few pages of Deathly Hallows, so I can only speak for the movie. But, like everone else, I have strong opinions.



If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series of books and movies, then this review will not add too much n…

You may have missed it: Glengarry Glen Ross

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Take an office full of struggling and jaded salesmen on a rainy night and add a "sales contest" in order to see who gets to keep their jobs, and you have one compelling premise for a play. This play, written by David Mamet, was made into a movie in 1992. (Ok, the rainy night wasn't in the play, that was added for the movie). Probably because of the potency of the writing, A-listers were attracted to this piece like movie star moths to a flame. It's comprised of Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, Al Pacino (in an Oscar nominated performance), and Alec Baldwin (who only appears in one scene that's probably his most famous scene in all his acting career). "Glengarry Glen Ross" is the name of the real estate firm that sells plots of land.

Every single performance in this movie is scorching. I could drone on about each one in detail, but it would almost warrant individual blog entries in order to hash it all out. All I will say is, watch it fo…

You may have missed it: Ed Wood

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Ed Wood is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's easy to gush over it. It's funny, surprising, and giddy with inspiration. Since I watched Pirates of the Caribbean: On StrangerTides this past weekend, it brought this old Johnny Depp gem to mind.

Just start with the cast: Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Martin Landau (in an Oscar winning performance.) Throw in Tim Burton as the director, and you've got a winner.
Ed Wood is based on the true story of legendary horrible Hollywood movie director Ed Wood, Jr. His ambition far outweighed his wit, and his struggles to "make it" are simply hilarious. Ed Wood is hilarious, but it also has a heart. Ed befriended washed up movie icon Bela Lugosi (played incredibly by Martin Landau), and their relationship is truly touching. Ed is hoping Bela can boost his struggling directing career. And, Bela is reluctantly glad to have friends again. It's a story of acceptance, and eccentric bands of friends w…

Life As We Know It: now on DVD

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Life As We Know It is an entertaining and romantic comedy with a dark twist. It is a story of how death can bring people together under trying circumstances. It is also an excuse to pull out some Hollywood "romantic comedy" cliches. (babies, poop jokes, romantic love scenes)


Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel are both beautiful and competent in their roles. After their best friends die and leave them as legal guardians, Holly and Eric must quickly learn to deal with their disdain for each other for the sake of the baby.

Life As We Know It is touching in parts, and funny in parts. Overall, it is an acceptable comedy with a romantic side. It is weighed down by its predictability, but still retains a charm. The "death" theme also gets a bit heavy, and become close to the center of this movie. However, it is thoughtfully done, with just a glaze of Hollywood cheese. But, I'm a sucker for Hollywood cheese sometimes. Even as a man, I thought some of the scenes had some su…

Tron: Legacy (of awesomeness)

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When I saw Tron: Legacy, I couldn't remember the last time I saw the first Tron. I could only vaguely remember the blue circuit motorcycles, Jeff Bridges, and those goofy glowing helmets. I also remember that it was a very long, strange, and even sometimes arduous movie. (What were those guys smoking back in the early 80s???) The first Tron came out in the early 80's. However, for all its weirdness, it was ahead of its time.


Now, we are in 2011. The new Tron begins by explaining that Kevin Flynn, (Jeff Bridges) CEO of the software company that, among other things, created the video game "Tron", mysteriously disappeared in '89. he left behind a sprawling publicly traded software empire, and a very broken-hearted twelve year old son. His son, Sam Flynn, grows up without a father. He pretends like he's over it, but we know it consumes him. He avoids responsibility with the software company because he's "immature". But really, it's because his f…

Iron Man: Proud to be an American

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In the light of the death of Osama Bin Laden, I am recommending an appropriate movie.


Iron Man has the cinematic appeal of a six pack of beer. It's loud, full of explosions, full of cutting edge technology, butt kicking fighting, and it is A W E S O M E !!!

In the opening scenes, we learn that our hero Tony Stark has already gotten himself into trouble. These troubles are, thankfully, the birth of the concept of Iron Man. Being held captive in a cave in the middle east, terrorists force him to build a "super weapon". Oh, he builds a super weapon, alright. Instead of building whatever balogna missle the bad guys wanted, he built a super iron suit so he could break out of cave jail. And, that's just what he did. That was just the beginning of his crime fighting, too. In a suspenseful onslaught of firing guns, grenades, and threatening terrorists, Tony emerges from the cave and blazes a trail to freedom.



Having fed his ego with the first semi-successful suit, Tony gets bac…