Posted on 1/26/13 12:44 PM
This was crap. If you want to see the same type of movie with a great story and characters, I recommend The Full Monty. That was good, this movie was terrible except maybe for sexually frustrated women who don't care about plot and characters. However, you can find soft porn that has a better storyline than this movie.
Posted on 6/06/11 11:31 AM
There are three schools of thought on The Hangover Part II. You most likely will fit into one of the three following categories: 1) The Hangover Part II was funnier than the original; 2) The Hangover Part II was not as funny as the original; or 3) both movies were trash and I would never go see either of them. If your answer is #3, please go watch a Looney Toons rerun (with all respect to the G -rated Looney Toons that I also love). However, with a $200 million worldwide take so far, chances are very good that you already have seen it and your answer will be either #1 or #2.
For me, the answer is #2. I did not find this one as funny as the original. So my question to myself - I frequently ask myself questions like, why did the TV show Lost have such a bummer of an ending - but that's another story - my question to myself is, why? Well I think it's a bit of perspective. I thought the first one would be average at best and then was shocked when it was almost a laugh a minute comedy. Sooo, I went into this one expecting a laugh a minute comedy. And I did not get one. The beginning was rough with some real dry patches. The Mike Tyson scene was forced and not funny at all - unlike the original. All the talk in the news about the penises in the film (horrors!) ruined those jokes because you now knew they were coming.
Don't get me wrong, there was a lot to like. Zack Galifianakis is as funny to watch as his name is difficult to pronounce. He reminds me of one of my favorite comedians - Curly Howard of the Three Stooges. His physical comedy and pranks are very reminiscent of old vaudevillian humor. Ed Helms remains the perfect nerd and Bradley Cooper is Bradley Cooper, especially il peut parler du français. And Ken Jeong will obviously do anything for a laugh.
Based on all the money made and records broken, it's as certain as death and taxes that there will be a Part 3 (or Episode Trois, if Cooper gets to pick). I hope when it happens that it either earns its money with more laughs or it warns me so I can adjust my expectations. As a Monday morning movie quarterback, I should have waited. For those of you who answered #1, I am glad you laughed all the way to the parking lot. However, for me, this time the laugh was on me....
Posted on 6/03/11 10:01 AM
Having seen Seabiscuit, the grittier story of a horse that lifted a nation's spirit, I thought I would try Disney's horse movie, Secretariat. Unlike Seabiscuit, who accomplished his great feats long before I was born, Secretariat's story occurred right in the middle of my college years. And surprisingly, Disney does a very good job with it. Like Seabiscuit, Secretariat performed at a time when America was looking for heroes again. Nixon had just resigned in disgrace and the Vietnam war was just concluding. America needed a hero. Secretariat obliged.
Diane Lane does a great as Penny Chenery, a housewife from Denver who has a horse farm thrust upon her when her father becomes debilitated following the death of her mother. In a microcosm of the the women's movement of the time, Penny takes on the Virginia male horse society by taking over her father's failing venture. She hires Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich) a well-regarded but not quite successful manager. Together they hire Ronnie Turcotte (Otto Thorwarth) , a hell bent, but determined jockey to ride Secretariat. The cast made the characters both believable and highly enjoyable. You cared what happened to them each step of the way.
Movies like these are challenging since you know the story as well as the final result. However, director Randall Wallace weaves an excellent story where you can snicker at the people making fun of Penny or Lucien knowing that comeuppance is just around the corner. The scenes where the owner of the challenger horse, Sham, boasts to the press are particularly great as he is not likable and you can't wait until he gets his - and he does.
And then there's the horse. Secretariat's a beautiful horse and a camera hog as well. His records still stand at all three races of the Triple Crown - The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes for those unfamiliar with the various tracks that are the components of the Triple Crown. He momentarily helped America forget its problems as he simply raced his way into horse racing history. I still remember when Sports Illustrated named him "Sportsman of the Year". It was quite an achievement for an animal to upstage all the athletes in MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL combined. But then again, his records speak for him....
Posted on 5/28/11 01:08 PM
After traveling to Rio this summer with Vin Diesel in Fast Five, I thought worthwhile to take a more relaxing trip and there was no better vehicle for this than Rio. Rio is a wonderful story, brilliantly drawn with lavish colors and entertaining characters. It has all the excitement I'd expect to see in Rio both during Carnivale and in the jungle. And the film cleverly crafts some of its humor by comparing Rio to Minnesota which amuses me for personal reasons.
If you were to create a role for a nerd, who would you pick? Well the obvious, and the choice for the lead character in Rio, was Jesse Eisenberg. And he does his best nerd impersonation here as Blu the endangered blue macaw raised in Minnesota but brought back to Rio to potentially mate with Jewel (Anne Hathaway), the last remaining blue macaw on Earth. Of course, she is not very interested in a nerd and therein lies the story's humor.
The plot is not unusual, girl can't stand boy, friends try and intercede, bad guys try and corral the whole crew and sell them to unscrupulous exotic bird stores, boy eventually gets girl. But the visuals and the humor carry the story and I would recommend it to anyone, not just people with young children. And the characters, played by such people as Jamie Foxx, Will.I.Am, Jane Lynch and George Lopez, support the main characters with their own brand of humor.
I like the fact that there are really well done, well crafted animated features being created not just for children but for the entire family. Films like Rio insert dialogue that only adults can appreciate that children might not get. Yet they have the action sequences that children enjoy. I enjoy these films and now will look forward to Cars 2....
Posted on 3/26/11 03:10 PM
There are movies that are just fun and entertaining. Not much thought has to go into them, they are just fun. Then there are great movies. These are the films that are most interesting to watch and even better to review. The Wages of Fear is such a movie. As a fan of the great Alfred Hitchcock, it is always great to read that someone, in this case director Henri - Georges Clouzot, out-Hitchcocked Hitchcock. While I might not jump to such hyperbole, this was a great film in the Hitchcock tradition.
Better known maybe for his film Diabolique, a highly regarded film on RT, Clouzot has created an even better film here. Maybe it is the subject matter or the setting, but this film was just fun to watch despite its length (around 2.5 hours). The film starts in some oil town in the middle of South America. The town has attracted all kinds of drifters drawn most likely by the opportunity to work for the oil company. However, not everyone has found a job and they just loiter passing the time. Clouzot does a good job getting us acquainted with the characters who will play a role in the rest of the film.
We meet Mario, Luigi (who both go on to greater fame for Nintendo, lol), Bimba and Jo, four drifters that are acquainted with each other via their life of mutual loitering. Clouzot brings together an impressive cast. Yves Montand (Mario), Charles Vanel (Jo), Folco Lulli (Luigi) and Peter Van Eyck (Bimba) develop hard luck characters that are difficult not to like. Films that draw you into the characters and do that with a well-written story are difficult not to enjoy. This was the case with The Wages Of Fear.
Soon after an oil rig explosion creates a runaway fire, the company needs to get a load of nitroglycerine to the site to try and "blow out" the burning rig. However, they don't have the required equipment to transport and the union won't allow the use of company drivers. Some humane soul in the oil company decides that they could hire the best drivers among the drifters and give them a huge payout if they agree to drive to the well head. And so Mario and Jo get to drive one truck and Bimba and Luigi get the second. The oil company decides on two trucks for this quasi-suicide mission in the hopes that one makes it.
It is the drive to the well where Clouzot brings the suspense. The viewer knows this isn't going to end well but Clouzot keeps you guessing where and when it will it not end well. Hitchcock once said that if two people are sitting at a table and the table blows up, there's no suspense. However, if you show the audience the bomb ticking away under the table, the audience gets involved and wonders with each second will the people get away from the table in time. Here Clouzot doesn't even have to show the audience. Everyone, including the drivers, knows there's a bomb in the back that the slightest bump will trigger. And we ride with these men as each struggle on the jungle road could mean instant death.
As suspenseful as the drive is, the ending is equally a surprise. Clouzot weaves a great story that possibly could have been trimmed a bit but, in all, a highly suspenseful film that is not to be missed. As for the Hitchcock hyperbole, I would rather like to think that Sir Alfred would have certainly appreciated this film.....
Posted on 2/20/11 09:40 AM
Take the films X-Men, Superman and Harry Potter, toss in the TV shows X-Files and Supernatural, mix them together and the result is a wonderful film called I Am Number Four. I have not read the book from which the story is derived but this film has peaked my interest enough to go out and read it. I do not know if this is a series of books or not, but the movie enfolds like the pilot for a TV series, providing enough hints that there will be more episodes, and I am now looking forward to future installments of this franchise in the birthing stage.
I found it interesting that Michael Bay produced this film, at least he had his name on it. I didn't realize he could do something that was not just flash and bang (though there is enough of that). However, in this film, science fiction is blended with a teen movie with a good deal of success. The teen story is compelling even for someone like me in middle age. The teens acted like teens (even Dianna Agron, Quinn from Glee, is in the film and it doesn't get any more teen than Glee) and it was not overdone as teen films are want to do.
Quick synopsis: In the film, John is a teenager on the run with a protector named Henri who poses as his father. Henri is played by Timothy Olyphant and I can't believe he didn't have to check his ego playing the older father. For fans of the TV show Justified, he is a much more kick ass lead in that show. John is being protected because he, and eight other teens are all that remain of a world where some real bad aliens killed off the population of their planet. Now they are being chased by those very same aliens who not only want to kill them but like Earth too much and want it too. Let the battle begin!
Alex Pettyfer plays John, someone relatively new on the acting scene but he will be seen again soon this year in Beastly. He brings not just his looks but a naivete to the role as one would expect from an adolescent just learning about his role and newfound powers as he grows older. Olyphant is both kindly and determined as John's protector. As Numbers 1-3 get killed the pressure on both of them to survive mounts. But then love strikes and the game changes. The supporting cast is does a good job and the arrival of a hot and kick ass Number 6 (Teresa Palmer) creates a great team that made for a great ending. An ending or a new beginning??
Does this story have holes? Sure, like they didn't explain what I assume is that the powers these teens have kicked in a puberty. Also, why did the alien bad guys (called the Mogadorians) wait until the kids got their powers before trying to eliminate them? But this film was too much fun to worry about such minor stuff. And what of Numbers 5, 7, 8 and 9? I must admit I can't wait to find out.....
Posted on 1/16/11 12:52 PM
The Green Hornet was an entertaining TV show from my youth that I enjoyed watching and thought was cool. Now that I have seen this remake on the big screen, I can safely state that the movie version will never be in any favorite film list I would ever compile. Seth Rogen, why on earth did you make this a half-assed comedy? This schizophrenic screenplay never really takes off until near the end and by then it only leaves you feeling that at least you didn't waste your money completely.
If you do not know the story of the Green Hornet, I am not sure you will learn it from this movie. However, Rogen and someone else (Evan Goldberg who might want to remain anonymous) did piece this screenplay together. That might explain how he got to be a spoiled son of a rich newspaperman (J. Jonah Jamison is laughing in his own strip over this one!). A complete twit, he wastes his life until his father's untimely death when he becomes heir to the entire business and fortune. Now he gets to be the twit and an entire organization has to put up with it, not just his father (Tom Wilkinson).
Then comes Kato, played by Jay Chou. He deserved better than this. Though he doesn't exude a great screen presence, he is likable, something Rogen can only dream of. However, he is the constant whipping boy for Rogen's narcissistic, spoiled character. Kato's one redemption is when he beats the snot out of his partner. The movie gets better after that but you had to suffer through almost half the film to get there. Christoph Waltz deserved better as the villain, or maybe that was his punishment - to be in this movie. So good in Inglorious Basterds, his character is mostly a joke here.
For fans of jokes about kicks to the groin, take heart! This film is filled with plenty of them. For fans of 3D, of which I am one, the 3D is a total waste. It really only comes into play during the ending credits. For someone who wants a real good comic book hero turned movie hero you will come up empty. I recently watched the A Team and I will admit I liked that better than this. Seth, stick to sad-sack comedies, Pah - Leaz!.......
Posted on 12/29/10 04:30 PM
And the award for best actress goes to - Natalie Portman. In a film that is just plain crazy, she shines like the White Swan she plays. However, it is the Black Swan part for which she deserves the Oscar. There have been a few films that have successfully depicted a character's descent into madness, Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre being one often cited as the standard for all others. Well Natalie sets her own standard in this film as the mentally collapsing ballerina, Nina Sayers.
Part drama, part thriller and part horror, the Black Swan has you constantly guessing the reality from the insanity. It took a special performance to do that as Portman demonstrated here as her insatiable quest for perfection on the stage took her and us, the viewer, over the edge. But she couldn't do it in a vacuum and she had a wonderful cast to support her. Her mother, a real deranged control freak played by Barbara Hersey, provides more than sufficient evidence that Nina comes by her craziness honestly. Mila Kunis as Lily, Nina's main competition for the lead role, does a great job trying (or not?) to help Nina stay focused. Was she or not, we'll never know from Nina's viewpoint. Finally, the production's director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) is a dictator that could drive anyone over the edge.
The filming is well done and the ballerina scenes are captivating. You really feel you have gotten a backstage view of how a big production is achieved. Portman herself performed the majority of her dance scenes. The other stars also did many of their scenes. The music completes the film and seamlessly intertwines with the drama.
This has been a great two weeks for movie fans. It has been a awhile that I have seen three films in current release that are so outstanding (Black Swan, True Grit and The Kings Speech). I look forward to 147 Hours and The Social Network. In the meantime, I have a new appreciation for ballet and personally want no parts of that competition. I am way too imperfect.......
Posted on 12/27/10 10:59 AM
John Wayne, move over, there's another marshall in town. Well not exactly another marshall, but surely a different one. I had been eagerly awaiting the Coens release of True Grit since I heard of its filming. And it did not disappoint. In fact, in some ways it made the improvements to the original that were really needed.
But first, to the hero, Rooster Cogburn. In the original, it was John Wayne playing John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn. In this adaptation, Jeff Bridges excels at creating the persona of Cogburn. This Cogburn is every bit the drunken gunslinger who seems to be calculating everything behind his surly squint. There is less emotion here as compared to the original. Cogburn enjoys life and his own sense of right and wrong, and for the most part, right usually wins out in his world view. For those trying to predict Oscars for Best Actor, Bridges it great but I could not vote him in before Colin Firth. His Cogburn seems mostly an extension of his character in Crazy Heart. Great but not the extra special I would like for the award.
As for the Coens, they made changes that worked. First, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) was not the annoying character of the original. Instead, she is a spunky, assertive young woman. So when LaBeef (the Coens did not stick with LaBoeuf from the original instead using the English beef) and Cogburn tell her she earned her place on the trail, you believe them. Second, they kept the humor but made it flow a lot better than the original (the original often seems a comedy). And lastly, the ending is quite different but IMO, much better. I love Iris Dement and her haunting song was the perfect accompaniment to the ending.
Being a Coens film, the wonderful cinematography was not unexpected. It is a fun film to watch. The Coens pay attention to the details and make you feel a part of the film's environment. Overall, you get the feeling that the actors enjoyed making the film, especially Bridges. You just enjoy this film. That being said, I cannot see this being the Best Picture but you will not be disappointed watching it......