Saturday, October 17, 2009

The 25th Hour

Gripping. Edward Norton depicts a man sentenced to seven years in prison. On his last night as a free man, he's forced to face both what his life has come to and what is yet in store. Norton reveals a strong heart behind a petty drug pusher and tells a story not often told. Shiningly emotional, intimate; The 25th Hour in a epic character study of a man on the precipice of despair.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Monty Python's The Holy Grail

If you like to laugh, I have a film for you. Clever, silly and contradictory, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is the defining film of British humor. From the writers and actors of Flying Circus, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life comes a series of skits that happen to add up to the story of King Richard’s great crusade. If you aren’t already quoting the banter, open your ears and await the French insults: “I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.” Or the Black Knight’s famous, “It's just a flesh wound.” And Sir Bedevere’s surprising exchange with a peasant: “What makes you think she's a witch? Well, she turned me into a newt! A newt? …I got better.” Regardless of your friends irritating and incessant quotation of this film, it is a must see.

The Adventures of Robin Hood

If you like the story of Robin Hood, clever action heroes, or old movies, you’ll love the 1938 Adventures of Robin Hood (in color!) featuring adventure star Errol Fynn. As always, our hero must rescue maid Marion from a terrible fate and stop Prince John from robbing the good people of England. Olivia de Halvilland sparkles as Marion, however impotent the fair lady may be. The reality is that no matter her competencies, any woman should prefer rescue from the Errol Flynn Robin Hood to the Kevin Costner Robin Hood. The Flynn Hood knows the smooth words for Marion and the sharp quips for the sheriff, a better hood I have yet to see (save perhaps the adorable Brian Bedford as Robin Hood the fox). I give it 5 out of 5 stars for the witty banter and the “Roaring” retro action shots. If you haven’t seen an Errol Flynn film, The Adventures of Robin Hood is the best place to start.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Rafael chasing the foot and saving April O'Neil for 95 minutes; who could not but fail to see how totally tubular the turtles are? If you enjoyed the 80's cartoon, you'll love this film. If you didn't enjoy the 80's cartoon, you'll love this film. The Puppetry by Jim Henson, brings out a realistic, albeit teddy-bearish, element to the turtles that no CGI can do.


One of Tim Burton's best, this dark film brought out the black part of Batman's heart that most other tellings of his story had left out. Michael Keaton opposite Jack Nicholson is a magic spell waiting to be cast. Could there be a better Joker than Jack Nicholson? (He is, in fact, the joker in his everyday life) The answer, no.

American Beauty

Beautifully American. This film speaks volumes without saying much. Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening portray the typical suburban family, each adding a touch of their own mad brilliance to their role. Sam Mendes created a true work of art and a lovely American tale. Laugh out loud, and feel just a little guilty doing it. When this happens, you've realized the truth and beauty that is American Beauty.

The Incredible Hulk

Edward Norton is captivating from the moment he enters the screen. While the story of the Hulk can be brutally anticipated, Norton under the direction of Louis Leterrier, brings The Incredible Hulk to a surprising level of originality and intrigue. Beginning in Brazil, quite clearly a lead off of the 2003 version with Eric Bana, Bruce Banner travels through the Americas in order to escape the U.S. military and keep safe those he loves. Even though I was mildly let down by the climactic battle between the Hulk and The Abomination, I give the film four out of five for the sheer surprise of it.

Ocean's Thirteen

George Clooney returns with the whole crew minus Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones (perhaps a better film for it) to pull off a revenge job on the guy who screwed Elliot Gould’s character Rueben out of millions and put him (indirectly so) on his deathbed. The film had no lack in disguises – including an astoundingly crafted prosthetic nose for Matt Damon – and dynamic plot twists – including a partnership with a long time rival. While the surprises were no match for those of eleven, the banter was clever and the camaraderie contagious.

I Am Legend

It appears to be 28 Days Later in New York City, yet there is enough intrigue in Will Smith’s character Robert Neville and his determination to find a cure for a disease brought on by a (Ironically) British scientist who discovers a cure for cancer. While Smith lacks the punch of Independence Day or Men In Black and the conviction of Pursuit of Happyness or Seven Pounds, director Frances Lawrence leads Smith to bring Neville to a place of some conviction and some punch leaving the audience to care in the end. I give the film a 3 out of 5 stars because of its lack originality and its mild entertainment.


Hugh Jackman, a real live Ausie, slips seamlessly into the character of a hot-blooded man with the heart of a lion. Acting along slide Nicole Kidman who remains a strong steadfast woman throughout the film portraying an English lady come abroad to investigate property in the land down under. The connection between the characters carries into every scene riding with the epic proportions of the plot. This film, in its 165 minutes literally has everything: romance, action, comedy, tragedy, and a Hollywood ending with a bittersweet flavor. It is understandable that many critics leave their viewing unsatisfied; this film does not offer more the entertainment and emotion evocation and eye candy, but it does so exquisitely.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Subtle and eloquent, Pitt and Blanchett piece together this remarkable fictitious love story of a man born old and who must grow backwards. While the film reaches 3 hours, the passage of time sifts by as you witness the life of Benjamin Button. I give this movie five stories for its originality and beautiful transition from short story to script to film.


While this film is neither particularly inspirational nor meaningful in any real manner, it sure does entertain in all the ways an action flick should. I give it four stars for rockin' the roof off the theater.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Having not read the books myself, I worry that I may not have the breakdown correctly, but I think it goes something like this: The film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe consists of the novels The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion the witch and the Wardrobe and The Horse and His Boy. The Film’s sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian consisted of the novels Prince Caspian, The voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Silver Chair and The Last Battle. I thought it important to include this information so that potential views would be aware that despite the fact that there are seven books, there will be no more than the two movies. My impression of this film is thus: entertaining, fantastical, and crammed. I wanted it to be so much better, knowing the intricate detail of the novels and the amazing story that it is. However my let down was not unexpected. The intriguing addition of Prince Caspian, portrayed by Ben Barnes, spiced the film with a new element and introduced the audience to a previously absent kingdom of Telmar, that which Prince Caspian should rightly rule if not for his devious and power-hungry uncle. Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy return to Narnia to find their magical kingdom void of all the mystical delights they had defended 1300 years before (in Narnia time). On their quest to discover what has happened the regal children meet Prince Caspian and the foreseeable results follow: Peter and Prince Caspian become rivals while Susan and Prince Caspian form some kind of adolescent unfulfilled love affair (something that should have played a more pivotal role in the plot but was instead left to the distant margins). There were scores of new mythological creatures (being that all the other had died in the1300 years had past for all but 4 of the characters) including an agile mouse equipped with a rapier who may have been inspired by either Robin Hood or Puss in Boots: a positively delightful character. The final battle was only what could be described as traditionally entertaining, if not slightly drawn out. There are scenes clearly present merely because they occurred in one of the four novels constituted in the film. Unfortunately, they direly needed to be edited out. Unnecessary additions like these did not help the flow of the film, nor did they better tell the story. From a viewer’s perspective, there was much that clotted the story. However, despite these negative aspects, I rate the film a shaky four out of five stars because, honestly, I was entertained, and true to the form of any fantasy story, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian had a moral message about courage in the face of oblivion and selflessness over selfishness. I am a sucker for a message, especially when communicated through epic battles and talking animals.

Monday, February 9, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

This star studded film was, in one word, adorable. Well edited to keep the audience gripped to the story and yet not even the slightest bit confusing despite the multiple story lines. While each story was slightly unique and at the very least mildly interesting, it was inevitable that some would prevail as the central plot line and more intriguing than the others. The love story between Ginnifer Goodwin and Justin Long carry the film and it is their story which communicates the rules of the book He's Just Not That Into You written by Charmaine Bee. there is some truth in the message but more irony than anything else. The experiences had by the characters are shared with almost all and certainly the lessons learned about perpetual hope for love and persistence in finding happiness can be transpired into the everyday lives of ordinary people. The stories between Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck and between Bradly Cooper and Jennifer Connelly are interesting yet have spots that lag. However both have a just resolution. The other minor relationship strands throughout the movie (there were about seven) filled in space and helped carry the film to a complete and appropriate ending. In the end, I would allot this film two separate ratings; a four and half stars in the genre of romantic comedies and a three and a half stars as an over all film rating. I would recommend this movie to anyone who wanted a feel-good movie.

Friday, January 30, 2009

New In Town

Absolutely, gut busting funny. This film tells the love story of two people who would have not otherwise come together without the bitter cold winter of Minnesota. It would be right to say that this is an objectively funny film, but the occurrences within the plot particularly hit home for a) those of us who live in the Midwest (specifically northern Minnesota or b) those of us who have ever visited the Midwest and felt, quite literally, left out in the cold. The humor is contagious and the story reaches a level of originality not often found among today's big name romantic comedies. I label this movie a 4 out of 5 stars for its general good humor and strikingly real portrayal of northern Minnesota.