Showing posts from September, 2011

The Bucket List

my rating: 3 out of 5

I have been avoiding watching The Bucket List since ever since it came out. It makes me extremely uncomfortable to confront mortality head on. It's just so inevitable: everyone will die, with no exceptions. It's just a difficult thing to dwell on. And, it can become unhealthy if you get too preoccupied with the subject.

The Bucket List is a Hollywood attempt to shed some light on the uncomfortable subjects of illness, pain, and death. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman play two older men who share a hospital room. They're both diagnosed with terminal cancer. They've never met before being admitted, but predictably, they begin to develop a friendship. Before long, they make a list of things they want to do before they "kick the bucket." AKA - a bucket list. Jack Nicholson's character is extremely wealthy (he actually owns the hospital he's in!) So, they set off on a journey to accomplish their lofty goals.

The subject of death is bro…

Best movies of the 00's

With the CGI effects coming into full bloom in the decade from 00 to 09, Hollywood churned out some incredible effects-driven movies. I believe this lead to a renaissance, of sorts, of comic book movies. I happen to love comic book movies, and it was a great decade for them. It seems like Hollywood finally realized that people across a wide spectrum of demographics love seeing the hero win. (aka - will fork out lots of cash and buy lots of tickets!)

Aside from comic book movies, there were an array of interesting movies that had their own kind of indie vibe. the 00's were mostly defined, in my opinion, by the likes of Wes Anderson and films like Lost In Translation. It was also the decade that we saw the likes of Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp, and Will Ferrell become huge stars. I also really loved seeing Bill Murray enter a new phase of stardom with pretty much an entire decade of wonderful indie films, filled with fantastic Murray performances.

25. Elf (2003)
This was the decade wher…

Netflix Fail

Reed Hastings just can't win. Yesterday, the Netflix CEO sent out a mass email to all Netflix customers to "apologize" for the rushed, poor communication about the services price increase, and the failure to communicate clearly about the company splitting in half. The apology was prompted by a wide-ranging, mass rage prompted by the horrible and abrupt changes made at Netflix.

If you're not familiar with the Netflix split, let me briefly explain. They are going to have a separate company called "Qwikster" that is going to be the DVD mailing service. "Netflix" will become the streaming only service. This is a service that allows you to stream movies and TV shows to your computer, certain devices that connect to your TV, iPads, and many mobile phones. Another change to Netflix is the 60% price increase they implemented not too long ago.

As a movie blogger, I know you giant hoard of loyal readers are hanging on my every word, hoping that I'll weig…


my rating: 3.5 out of 5
A mysterious sickness begins to spread across America, and the rest of the world. It can be traced back to one woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) who made a recent trip to China. The Center for Disease Control must work quickly to research, contain, and find the cure for this destructive bug. Is it biological terrorism? Conspiracy? A freak occurrence of nature? Everyone must put themselves at risk to find the answers; and quickly.

Contagion is the latest film from director Steven Soderbergh, director of such gems as three OceansEleven movies, Traffic, and Erin Brockovich. How does this one stack up against those?

Not as good, in my opinion. However, it does have a lot of positive qualities. It has a hard-hitting cast, including Matt Damon as a hapless husband and father, Gwyneth Paltrow as a sick person, Kate Winslet as a disease investigator, Laurence Fishburne as a head honcho doctor at the CDC, and Jude Law as a conspiracy blogger. (who seems to be sadly absent from lead …

Paul: Now on DVD

my rating: 2.5 out of 5
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame, star in this road trip comedy about two British nerds visiting Comic-Con who stumble upon a real live alien. There is an abundance of "blue" humor, atheism, and foul language to poison the well for me. Any charm this movie may have had has been destroyed by the negative elements.

Otherwise, there are some great actors (Simon, Nick, Bill Hader from SNL, Kristen Wiig from SNL, and Jason Bateman.) There are even a couple of surprise cameos to liven the sci-fi spirit of this cheesy comedy.

There are plenty of "inside" Star Wars references throughout, and it seems the writers / producers were enthusiastically reaching for the geek / sci-fi saavy audience. So then, why are the jokes so crude, offensive, and low-brow? Nerds are smart! We don't want half-hearted crass trash to entertain us. Leave that for the Jersey Shore crowd. Nerds need sci-fi comedy to be compelling, smart, an…

What Just Happened?

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…


Ten years ago today, the United States was changed permanently. I was in college in East Tennessee. I woke up on the sunny, beautiful Tuesday morning and went to a chapel service. We had chapel services twice per week, and this particular one was honoring all the clubs, ministries, and various institutions on campus. The quaint church building was packed, and I remember a whole section of ROTC members in the pews. The picture to the right is the church where the chapel was taking place that morning.

During the chapel service, my friend recieved an "email" news alert on his cell phone. It was an unusual alert, stating that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Towers. I assumed it was a smaller plane, probably an accident or plane malfunction.

Later in the chapel, some people were whispering some things to our college President, a thing, white-haired man in his late fifties, who was sitting at the front of the church sanctuary leading the proceedings. He tentatively …

Best movies of the 90's

Thinking of the 90's conjures images of flannel shirts, facial hair, jeans with shotgun blasts in them, and Doc Martin boots. I think of weird "alternative" rock (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Primus, etc.), and movies like Dazed and Confused,Clueless, and Scream that were defining the times for teenagers. The 90's were an oddly peaceful decade in many ways. We had a short war in the Persian Gulf under President Bush senior, and that was followed by years of relative financial prosperity. We experienced the dot com boom that brought a new flood of wealth, culture, and technology to us. This same advancing computer technology was beginning to change the way movies were made, too. Cutting edge "CGI" (computer generated images, as I always understood it to mean) were hitting the big screen. It's hard to imagine that Hollywood used models on strings, and stop-motion animation before the CGI came along.

Two movies that changed the world in terms of CGI were Terminator…

(500) Days of Summer

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. :)

Best summer movie of 2011

The summer movie season has come to a close. It has been memorable, with big movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows part 2. Vote on your favorite! Leave comments about your fav!

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