Wednesday, January 31, 2007
What a hack job.
Seriously… Did Woody Allen write this as he was shooting it? This story is strung together so whimsically and motivated by dialogue so tough to swallow that even the actors seem at sea, painfully demonstrated by a chorus of flat-as-a-board performances… namely the highly overrated “Scleavage" Johansson. Who told Allen it was a great idea to make a 2-hour melodrama on the metaphor of luck between love and tennis, anyway? It would be more forgiving had he incorporated any of the usual witty and comedic banter, but sadly, this film takes itself far too seriously. To top it off, lead actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who courts 2 lady lovers in the film, comes across as flaming gay. Talk about unconvincing.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
"The Never Ending Story" meets "Schindler's List" ... !@#&!!
Seriously… Writer/Director Guillermo del Toro presents a highly unique and flawless fusion between a dark fantasy world and a hyper-real war story. The film is extremely well crafted on all technical fronts as evidenced by its 6 Oscar nominations, and is worth the viewing based on this alone. However, given its decision to evade the meaning and methods of its own madness, or without offering more explicit explanations for connecting the two contrasting genres outside of "escapism", is it still effective? Or is it just a badass movie? It’s like that Metallica album “S&M” that was recorded live with the San Francisco Symphony... you want to like it, but do you really?
Hey buddy, lose the mask and shut up.
Seriously... “V for Vendetta” boldly explores a dark political world that sometimes resembles an ideal frighteningly close to our own. Great material, right? But too much of the story is delivered in tedious monologues and philosophical rants by the title character, V, who has a goofy mask fixed to his face. So you spend half of the movie staring at an inanimate object preaching to you… or is that the point? I don’t care. The fact that V is played by bad boy Hugo Weaving doesn’t even alleviate this. Natalie Portman, however, provides a gutsy performance and a welcome change from that Padme crap. And John Hurt never hurts.
Everything a huge Hollywood Superhero movie should be.
Seriously… “Superman Returns” plays like a grand opera. It elegantly explores a story of high heroics equally physical and emotional with a graceful pace and fluidity. Also, given the general knowledge of the man of steel, the film is able to maintain a simple plot that doesn't attempt to cover too vast a tale (a pitfall of so many big-budget pictures that feel forced into distinguishing themselves), and by the end, the weighty groundwork is certainly laid for the following installment(s). People just want to know… if Superman’s weakness is kryptonite, then how the hell does he fly off into space with that chunk the size of Cali at the end? He just does.
*Expanded Review in "Comments"
Friday, January 26, 2007
A Masterpiece… Except for the usual Scorsese slips.
Seriously… Director Martin Scorsese finally delivers a mind blowing, crowd pleasing, genuine Hollywood heavyweight. As Scorsese testifies, “It was the first picture I made with a plot.” It seems like that is exactly what the people were waiting for, as the opening weekend gross of $26.8 million obliterated all other Scorsese releases. And regardless of its shortcomings, Marty certainly reassures us all that he is still the master of modern mortality with a riveting final half-hour of elegant and exciting violence that is right on par with the ‘Baptism/Murder’ crescendo in “The Godfather” -- when Michael Corleone finishes all of the family’s unfinished business. With “The Departed,” it seems that Marty also finishes some business of his own. Now give him the damn Oscar!
*Expanded Review in "Comments"
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Academy Award Nominees
Seriously... Martin Scorsese has been personally nominated for a total of 8 Academy Awards including 5 for Best Director since 1980’s “Raging Bull” and has lost every single time. Nor has a Scorsese film ever won for Best Picture, despite several nominations. Marty most recently lost to Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) in both the Directing & Picture categories, and whom he faces again this year with “Letters From Iwo Jima,” again in both categories, and also among other stiff competition. Could this be the year the curse is broken? It better be.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Tom Cruise is insane… the good kind.
Seriously… So he jumps on couches, he marries strangers, and he might secretly play for the Northern Vermont softball league… Who cares? The bottom line is this: He is an Actor through and through. It’s what he knows and it’s what he does; and he’s not bad. As Star and Producer on all 3 “Mission: Impossible” films there is no doubt that he regards the series as his pet-projects and his real-life babies. In M:i:III Mr. Cruise simply exerts himself to the max and gives the paying public a whopping 150% of Tom! Notice the Chinese canal sequence where he is running so fast and hard he could have gone straight through a brick wall. This guy loves his work and he leads the way every step of the way in a very action-packed action film.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
It would have made a better book.
Seriously… Reading the book it seems that such a thrilling tale should make a great movie, especially one starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou. But things don’t always work out. With loads of details and frequent plot twists the story becomes cumbersome to translate into a feature film. This saturation instead produces a talking-heads routine where the picture depends on constant dialogue to relay the necessary information, and really without enough pay-off. Ian McKellen, however, delivers a superb performance, and even manages to pull of an otherwise boring 15-minute monologue sequence in captivating style as usual.
*IDEA: One of the theater chains should replay of “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy every December.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Without Penelope, who really cares?
Seriously… Director Pedro Almodovar delivers an elegant film with compassionate themes that can be lighthearted, comical, serious, and sorrowful. That’s nice, I guess. But if sweet-pea Penelope is not baking this cake, then I don’t know how far I make it. It’s like taking a cab ride around Dayton, Ohio (nothing wrong with that), but then Penelope Cruz is your driver… not a bad deal, eh? In “Volver” we are often up-close and personal with our leading lady and she rarely lets us down, except to read the subtitles. Suggested title for a sequel: “Volver Returns.”
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I think the term is “Beautiful Disaster.”
Seriously… Selma Hayek + Penelope Cruz, the perfect recipe for success, right? Especially when you factor in the lack of clothing. Unfortunately, the film fails on just about every other level, and miserably so. This troubled, straight-to-video release boasts an incomprehensible script that makes Disney TV movies look brilliant and a supporting cast that simply did not show up to work. I mean was this filmed in 2 days? It was so bad that I barely made it through the whole thing, and when I did I felt a sickness and a deep regret I haven’t felt since “Fat Albert.” I can only imagine how disappointed the girls must have been when they saw it for the first time too… poor, poor things. There, now.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Sasha Cohen should win some awards for this one.
Seriously... and he did. How could the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy (or Musical) NOT go to a man who lived, breathed, ate, and smelled like his obscenely extreme character almost 24/7? This is the type of comedy that doesn't just stop when the camera turns off, and herein lies the awe of Cohen and company. The line between script and improvisation; sincerity and levity; and malice and insight is usually impossible to distinguish, and this, my friends, when the comedian cannot be tamed by his audience, is comedy.
*Expanded Review in "Comments"
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Should have been called “A Night at The Ambassador Hotel.”
Seriously... This film always gives you something to chew on. In the vein of a Robert Altman picture (i.e. “Nashville”), Writer/Director Emilio Estevez assembles a cast of 22 A-List actors and thrusts them into non-conventional roles meant to reflect the tumultuous times, giving you reason to hang on for each scene. But let’s face it, the focus was roughly 10% Bobby and 90% everyone else at the hotel, most of which had no relation to Bobby… So let’s just call it “A Night at the Ambassador,” the whole Bobby thing can be a nice bonus, and bam! We'll call it a day.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Should have been called "The Passion of the Mayan-Heart."
Seriously... Mel Gibson rules. Once again, he lays it all on the line with pure in-your-face insanity. His films emanate a visceral and raw intensity, and he turns violence into an art form. Who else has the balls to shoot a 45-minute chase scene on foot? But what do we see here that is not essentially in his last 2 features? Rape? No. Public executions? No. Mass killings/buckets of blood? No. Decapitated heads? No... OK, about a dozen decapitated heads rolling down pyramid steps followed by a game of human Big Buck Hunter? I'll give him that.
Eh... It's a Good Shepherd. Not a Great Shepherd.
Seriously... Matt Damon is at his best in dramatic roles, and not while playing the goofy kid with that wicked grin that reminds me so much of Hillary Swank. In fact, I don't think he smiles once in this film, he walks with a slouch, and despite being a government official he actually takes public transportation to work... all tremendous tonal touches from Bobby D., whose second tour at directing is an improvement from the now 13-year-old "A Bronx Tale", another film that explores a complicated father-son theme.
Why weren't the two lead females hotter?
Seriously... This film would have catapulted from the level of "Exceptional script and execution... A refreshing action film with great focus... It learns from the mistakes of others... Director Michael Mann delivers yet again..." to "(all of the aforementioned) with bangin’ hot chicks." COME ON! That would have hit the spot.