Friday, January 9, 2009

2009 Movie Commentary (Early in the Year)


I know but I'm not telling. What makes this movie good is "Not Knowing" the ending. The acting is good, special effects are good, but the movie moves at a slow pace. I didn't mind that but others might. For those of you that like to contemplate issues like life after death, events in life being predetermined or random, how life on earth may have begun, etc. you will enjoy this movie. I would say it definitely has religious undertones.

Although it got 4 stars in our paper and I liked the movie I'm not sure it deserves more than a solid 3 O's.


The International

Well I was surprised when Cathie wanted to see "The International" on Valentines Day instead of "Confessions of a Shopaholic" but I learned Cathie's mother said Shopaholic was so/so. Well Gramma Bet, so was "The International". We both loved Clive Owen's acting but for an espionage film it was just too slow and too long. It was also hard to hear what they were saying some of the time. I still can't see what makes Naomi Watts a big actress but I will admit she has a great name. I also enjoyed the acting of Armin-Mueller-Stahl. Hard to explain who he is other than an old man that you will recognize from seeing him in many, many films. I looked up his bio and I believe he's had parts in as many as 100 movies.

There was nothing out of the ordinary in this film. Cathie gives it 2 O's and I'll bump it up a notch to 2.5 O's. Best to wait for the DVD ...



It was good to see Liam Neeson (Schindler's List) back in action. He was very believable as a single father trying to rebuild his relationship with his only daughter after being away for most of her life working for the US Government as a "Preventer". Liam's ex wife does not make it easy for him to make amends with his daughter and stands between the two. His daughter goes to France with a friend against Liam's better judgment and gets abducted by an Albanian sex ring. Now it's time for Liam to use his special training to rescue his daughter.

"Taken" does a good job of setting up the plot and characters before the kidnapping takes place and does it efficiently time wise. Once the action starts hold onto your seat. A really fun movie to watch so anyone that is a "Bourne Identity" fan that needs a "Bourne Fix" while waiting for the next Bourne film this will do it. Liam is not Matt Damon but does a solid job.


The Wrestler

Well, Mickey Rourke plays a Slumdog but he's not a millionaire. Just an over the hill wrestler that by his words is a broken down piece of meat. Someone that has lived life by burning the candle on both ends. Unfortunately for him the drugs, steroids, and abuse of painkillers have caught up with him and he's forced to deal with the consequences. Now it's time to try and rebuild the relationship with the daughter he neglected and forge a relationship with a 45 year old stripper (Marisa Tomei). In my opinion this movie would have been a total bomb had his character not been a really nice guy that for some reason earns your sympathy. I think the lesson that can be learned is that no matter how many faults you have most people will overlook them provided you are a sincerely nice person.

"The Wrestler" will define Mickey Rourke's carrier. From what I understand Rourke has lived a troubled life but I think it was his past that enabled him to pull off this role. His character showed extreme vulnerability but owned up to all the failures of his past. I think it's refreshing to see someone take personal responsibility for their predicament and not blame others. His performance was truly Oscar worthy whether he wins or not. Marisa Tomei should be given a badge of courage for the role she played. Being 45 years old and bearing it all to the world as a stripper could not have been easy for her. She may however be rewarded for the risk he took by getting an Oscar for best supporting actress. Fortunately for her she still has an attractive body and was believable in the role.

Yes it is justifiably critically acclaimed but don't feel like you have to rush out to see "the Wrestler". The movie is very raw and the wrestling scenes are gory. His life is anything but glamorous. Only go if you are prepared to do a little soul searching. It will stick with you for awhile after seeing.



Defiance is a true story about 3 brothers that helped protect a large number of Jews from Nazi Germany's brutal attempt of extermination by hiding them in the forest. Daniel Craig (aka James Bond) plays the lead role and proves he is a true character actor. He pulled off the Eastern European accent perfectly and has an amazing ability to carry the pain and suffering in his facial expressions. Of course he is a mere mortal and does not possess any James Bond larger than life fighting capabilities. I found the movie very interesting and well worth telling. In all they kept 1,200 people alive by the end of the war and there are now tens of thousands of descendants from the survivors. WOW! Sounds more like a tale about rabbits.

The acting was good and the story interesting but the movie was a little lacking. Maybe it just moved a little too slow. This movie will never do the box office numbers Valkyrie is doing but it has one thing Valkyrie doesn't have. A main actor that can look, act and sound like someone from Eastern Europe. I wonder how Daniel Craig would have looked with an eye patch.


Gran Torino

Who would have thought making a movie about a cantankerous old man could be so entertaining. Gran Torino's main character Walt Kowalski (played by Clint Eastwood) reminds us of our Fathers and grandfathers. No nonsense men who grew up in tough times and fought in the Great Wars. They were a tough breed who protected the pain they carried from the atrocities they witnessed under a thick and hardened outer shell. Clint Eastwood was both actor and director of Gran Torino. His character was not too different than the one he played in the movie "Unforgiven". Tough as nails and full of flaws but honorable deep down inside. Add in what he learned from directing "Million Dollar Baby" and the recently released "Changling" and you've got one fine film. Although this movie was very much a drama it was loaded with laughs. (Just a warning that although his character was an Army veteran in the movie he swore like a sailor)

At 78 Clint's still got that signature cold stare and is still believable as a force to be reckoned with although it's necessary to use a little more brain than brawn these days. He stayed well within the capabilities of his age which made the move believable. As a director he did a fabulous job of making no name actors look like long time professionals.

This may have been Clint Eastwood's greatest performance as an actor as he seemed to be in almost every scene and carried the movie on his back. For those of you that don't know this is supposedly his final movie as an actor. I would say Clint went out in "Gran Fashion" and proceeded to "Make my Day". It doesn't get any better than this. The audience even broke into applause at the end of the movie. I give Gran Torino a big Four O's.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Fall Commentary (2008)

The Reader

Earlier this year Hollywood gives us the movie "Elegy" about a relationship between a 60 year old man (Ben Kingsley) and 30 year old woman (Penelope Cruz) and now "The Reader" which begins with a relationship between a 15 year old German boy (David Kross) and a 30 year old woman (Kate Winslet). In the The Reader the movie covers a 30 year period so it is necessary to exchange Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient) for David Kross half way through the movie. Kross acts the character of (let's just call him the reader) from 15 all the way up to 25 years old before giving way to the older Fiennes. Why they decided to go from a boy with a German accent to a man with an English accent I'll never know. Other than that there are not many flaws in them movie.

This is a coming of age movie in a big way. Fot many of us our coming of age movie was the 1971 release "The Summer of '42) with Jennifer O'Neil and a little known teenage actor. A teenage boy with a woman in her mid twenties was a big deal back then but the movie left much to our imagination. I'm afraid the times are a changing because this one leaves little to our imagination. Just a word of warning there is full frontal nudity (big time) but it's not Kate. I assume this means Kross is closer to 25 than 15 in real life.

They do a really good job of developing the two characters and establiwhing a relationship between Kross and Winslet before her 8 year disappearance. When he runs into her again she is on trial for Holocaust War Crimes. The movie really gets heavy after that with plenty of moral issues to sort out. Yes she likes to be read to and yes it is a major theme in the movie but I'll just leave it at that as I don't want to ruin the movie for you. I will say that what he does for her in this regard in the later years is one of the more touching, and selfless things I have ever seen in a movie. It really is a love story.

The movie is very slow moving but in a good way. Very thought provoking. Acting was great and the movie was well produced so I'm going to give it 3 O's although this movie isnot for everyone.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Belive it or not I had an idea for this movie back in the early 90's. We were at a video convention (VSDA) in Las Vegas and we listened to a talk from Ted Turner. Ted is a quirky, off the cuff, kind of guy. At the end of the speech he told us to send him a post card if we ever came up with a good idea for a movie. On the plane back to San Antonio I came up with the idea of having something happen to an old man that reversed the aging process. Guess I should have mailed that post card.

Great idea, good acting, terrific "make up artist" but way too slow and way too long. Not only is it a run time of 2:47 but it was shot in slow motion if that is possible. Everyone talked low and slow. Very hard to hear what they were saying. The actors moved slowly (especially Brad Pitt) and the camera panned in slow motion. By the time the movie ended it seemed like we had been watching for 5 solid hours.

See it if you must but I only give it Two O's.


Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog is a film shot in India not necessarily an Indian film. The director Danny Boyle is British, however most of the actors and actresses are Indian. There are a few subtitles in the beginning of the movie but nothing you can't handle. Well produced with very solid acting but you won't recognize any of the actors. (Actually three of the main characters are cast by three different actors portraying three different periods of their life). The movie has a great soundtrack but the style of music will be new to you. Although this is not the same type of movie it reminds me of the old Spaghetti Westerns with Clint Eastwood. Movies made in Italy, with mostly Italian actors, great soundtrack written by an Italian but directed to appeal to the US Market.

In the movie Jamai Malik is an 18 year old Indian boy who grew up in the slums. He works his way onto the Indian version of "Who wants to be a Millionaire". Jamai is accused of cheating so the police bring him to the police station to interrogate him. The only way he can prove he knew the answers was to tell his life story which explains how he knew the answer to each specific question. Good thing Nancy and Troy saw Slumdog first because that story line never would have gotten me to the theatre even though I knew it was critically acclaimed. Although the game show is a big part of the plot I couldn't help but think the story of his upbrigning would have made an interesting movie all on its own. It wasn't until the end of the movie that I realized the game show carried its own weight and turned out to be an inaugural part of the movie.

If you were a fan of "Who wants to be a Millionaire" you will like the game show activity and if you always wanted to know what India was like you will get to see the good, the bad and the ugly. Nice one, huh! You will also get to see the taj Mahal. Stay for the credits and you will see the cast moving and gooving to music Bollywood style. In a strange way it will remind you of MJ's video Thriller.

Great film! I give it Three and a half O's.


Seven Pounds

This movie was a lot heavier than seven pounds. It has a very serious undertone that builds to the finish. The only problem is that it's a very, very, slow build. If you have attention deficit disorder don't even think about it. The director does a very good job of developing the characters which helps set the stage for "Seven Pounds" very powerful ending. He also does a good job of hiding Will Smith's intentions which leaves you very puzzled as to what Will's character is up to. In the end everything becomes crystal clear and on the way home you spend time thinking about the relevance of each characters action. It is similar to the movie "Crash" in this regard At the end of replaying the movie in my head it dawned on me the significance of naming the movie Seven Pounds. Of course I've been known to be a little slow at times. You may very well figure it out quicker.

Will Smith does a superb job of acting. I saw a side of him I've never seen before and I kind of liked it. He left the silly grin at home. His love interest Rosario Dawson did a good job as well. She just recently had a role in the movie "Eagle Eye". By the way be sure to rent eagle Eye when it comes out as the more I think about it the more I like it. I personally guarantee you will like it. You will also see a side of Woody Harrelson you've never seen before. He actually seems like a normal human being in this film. I guess he's not always quirky. Look for Tom Cruise and Niclole Kidman's 13 year old son in the movie and let me know if you spot him. I learned he was in the film after I saw it so can't remember spotting him.

Ok, on to the O thing. The ending and Will Smith's acting is worth a high rating but since I'm not really a movie critic , just a movie commentator, I only give it two and a half O's. It just took too long to develop the characters and make it to the finish line.


The Day The Earth Stood Still

If you are a Sci-Fi fan you will want to see this film. The movie is a remake of the 1951 original. I had a weird feeling when I realized this movie was being released while I was still in the womb. I'm sure nuclear weapons were the new hot topic of the time as the atomic bomb had first been dropped just 6 years prior to the movies release. I guess having an Alien accompanied by a big robot visit Planet Earth to warn mankind about the dangers of nuclear weapons was Hollywood's way of trying to save the planet. Knowing how Hollywood thinks I'm kind of surprised they didn't write in a few global warming warnings as well :>) Not much has changed on planet earth in regards to nuclear weapons but a whole lot has changed in regards to special effects. Hollywood's technical skills sure have come a long way in the last 57 years.

I enjoyed the movie even though at times it seemed more like time standing still than the earth standing still. The movie had some of those slow moving "2001 Space Odyssey" moments. If you want a guy to play an alien incapable of showing human emotions Keanu Reeves is your man. Personally I like Keanu as an actor. Not sure why that is but it may be a certain innocents he brings to his characters. Jennifer Connelly and Kathy Bates both did a solid job of acting. I really liked John Cleese in his short cameo role. Cleese had a very deep and serious role as a Nobel Peace Prize winner that represented the collective consciousness of all mankind. Of course it's impossible to watch Cleese act without thinking about his Monty Python roles. I think we could have used a knight with no arms and legs try to save planet earth don't you? All in all I liked the movie. Nothing earth shattering (no pun intended) but solid. I'll give it Three O's.


Nobel Son

This was a much better movie than I hoped for. I was not that enthralled with the lineup of movies this weekend and almost decided to take a pass until until I found out Cathie would be with Tricia at the Clark talent show and I would be home alone. I can't say "Nobel Son" has an all star cast of characters but they were all on the top of their game. Alan Rickman always plays the guy you love to hate. He must have filmed this movie right after the recently released "Appaloosa" where guess what, he plays the bad guy. Mary Steenburgen actually plays a serious role but was quite amusing and charming as well. It's nice to see she got (Ted Danson) her real life husband a cameo role as I'm sure he hasn't done much since the TV show Cheers. Danny DeVito was his usual quirky self and nailed his character, a recovering obsessive-compulsive gardener. Bill Pullman did his best acting since (Sleepless in Seattle & While you were Sleeping) playing a pretty shrewd detective.

The movie is a psychological thriller with the big line in the film being "it is more cruel to eat the living than the dead". Instead of making a dark film the director chose dark humor. The plot is intelligently written and will keep you entertained, amused and always guessing. There is a thread of off-beat humor strewn throughout the entire movie. I liked "Nobel Son" enough to give it three O's but recommend you probably wait to see it at home on DVD.



MAJESTIC!!! ... The remote areas of Australia work well on the big screen. Beautiful country, brilliant star lit nights, yet desolate. "Australia" is a throwback to the Major Motion Pictures of the past. An Australian "Gone with the Wind" mixed with a little "Quigley Down Under" and "Wizard of Oz". The "Wizard of Oz" actually came out in 1939, the same time period represented in the movie. Even the credits had the look and feel of movies made in the forties. They should have gone all the way and had an intermission just like "Gone with the Wind" the movie was of Epic length. I recommend you see it at the box office as it is made for the big screen, but if you decide to wait for the DVD feel free to watch it in two parts on maybe a Friday and Saturday night. "Australia" is the original and the sequel all wrapped into one.

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman have good chemistry even though Hugh was just awarded sexiest man alive and Nicole is still as pale as a ghost. Nicole is a great actress however and she gave her character great range. As good as they both were it was the 12 year old (local Aboriginal) Brandon Walters that stole the show. The kid was adorable with beautiful big brown eyes and an infectious smile. There was almost something supernatural about him. (maybe it's because he overcame leukemia in his real life at age 7). I've never seen a kid this young so natural (unless it's Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz). Because of this I'm going to make a bold predicton and say Brandon will actually get an Academy Awards Nomination even though he was only 12.

"Australia" was directed by Baz Luhrmann a Sidney born Australian, who directed the movie "Moulin Rouge". The 120 million is the most ever spent on an Australian film. Not only will the studios be rewarded for their risk they took I predict the movie will help Australia's tourism trade as well. I hope the Australia Tourist Bureau is smart enough to use this film in their advertising.

Australia is a movie for all ages. Yes John even for 11 year old Connor. It has adventure, romance, war scenes, beautiful scenery, cowboys, Indians (well Australian Aboriginals) and even a mob of Kangaroos. Because this movie was so well produced and had a great story line along with a great cast of characters I'm going to make Australia my first Four O's movie. It is truly fun for the whole family. (The movie almost makes up for a big island being designated a Continent)


Transporter 3

Juno, I really liked the original "Transporter" and am a big fan of Jason Stratham. After all, this world can use all the good looking balding men it can get, right? The original Transporter was unique and refreshing in the same way Boerne Identity was. Both movies were good enough to warrant sequels. After watching Trans 3 I think it may be time to give it a rest. Jason is still a good actor and the production quality of the action and fight scenes are getting better due to a larger budget but ... the plot was lame and the car chases and fight scenes are getting kind of old, no to mention unbelievable. Most of this could have been overcome if ... they had chosen wisely in regards to Jason's love interest. If Jason Stratham and Natalya Rudakoya had the same kind of chemistry Matt Damon and Franka Potente had in "The Boerne Identity" they may have been able to save the movie even with the lame plot. In one scene Natalya wanted Jason to kiss her and I was thinking "Dude, just say no". I tried to find out more about Natalya's acting career but came up empty. As far as I'm concerned they can send her back to anonymity. I can't recommend seeing this movie at the theatre but if you are an action fan and just want to see some mindless action scenes at home go ahead and rent it on DVD. Better yet, just rent the original Transporter. At the movie theatre I only give "Transporter 3" Two O's.


Quantum of Solace

If you don't already know "Quantum of Solace" is a sequel and picks up where "Casino Royale" left off. It would be a good idea to watch C.R. before going to Solace but since I know a lot of you won't have time I'll give you a short refresher. At the end of Casino Royale Bond falls in love with Vesper Lynd who is played by (Eva Greene). Greene helps Bond win 120 million dollars in a high stakes poker game but winds up betraying him by delivering the money to the boss of a Crime Syndicate. Bond tries to rescue vesper from a cage that submerges underwater but can't get her to the surface in time. Bond then finds out that she had been blackmailed and stole the money to keep the Syndicate from killing her previous lover. Ok, you are up to date.

Isn't it amazing:

The world-famous James Bond theme is built around a suspense-filled movement up and down between three chords. The bottom two notes E and G stay the same, but above them the chromatically sliding B-C-C#-C creates that air of mystery.

Wow! Three cords have become the centerpiece of one of the most recognizable songs in our lifetime. It's amazing how they can make subtle changes to the soundtrack to keep it fresh 22 movies (to date). We just never seem to tire of the soundtrack although you will find they make it 2008 contemporary during the beginning credits. Good think I looked up the previous description because I would have described the cords as:

dumb la dum / da-da-da / dumb la dumb / da-da-da / do do / do da lu ....

Ok, on to the movie

Well, I've got good news and I've got bad news. The bad news is that the critics were not that high on Quantum and only gave it ratings between 2 stars and 2.5 stars. The good news is that in my opinion they are way off the mark. These are the same guys that gave "Role Models" 3 stars and "Rachel Getting Married" 4 stars. (what's up with that) As I was trying to figure out what these guys were smoking I came to the conclusion that they were comparing "Quantum of Solace" to the typical James Bond film and using a benchmark of what I will refer to as "sameness". Roger Ebert says: "A disappointment. No Q, no Miss Moneypenny, no suave and seductive Bond and a Bond girl under-named ... Camille". Our local guy Larry Ratliff bemuses the fact there are no gadgets. They want the "same" Bond film their father watched. I believe this is the 22nd Bond film and has become a Franchise just like McDonald's. Well movie critics I hate to break the news but McDonald's now serves Lattes. Until Daniel Craig came on the scene with "Casino Royale" Bond films had become repetitive. Gadgets are cool but the movies didn't break new ground. Although Daniel Craig doesn't break the mold (nor should they wan him to) he brings much more depth to the character by being a little more serious, sensitive, and vulnerable. Maybe the recent Bond's needed the gadgets but it's refreshing to see someone who can pull off the role without them.

Sequels have a tendency to disappoint but this movie is less of a sequel than part II of the original movie (with a one year intermission of course). Most of the characters have already been developed and the plot just thickens. Judi Dench resumes her role as Bonds boss named M or referred to in the movie as Mom. Her role in the movie was advanced to the point that i wouldn't be surprised if she gets a few best supporting actress votes. I felt the (pardon the pun) bond between M and James Bond was the thread that held the movie together.

I get a sense an effort is being made to make subtle changes to the Bond Franchise in order to attract more women as well as diversify the fan base. Being a guy I can be totally off base here but my sense is Daniel Craig's' sex appeal is enough to hold the attention of women all by itself. His combination of rugged good looks, well developed body, and mesmerizing blue eyes should move him ahead of all previous 'bond's with the possible exception of Sean Connery. Of course the true test is who can move on and become a major motion picture star without the Bond Franchise behind him and there is no doubt Sean Connery currently holds the record hands down. Time will tell whether Daniel Craig can do the same. A good indicator will be Craig's upcoming role in the movie "defiance" scheduled to be released January 16Th.

With the recent success of Matt Damon in the Boerne Identity series James bond movies have some competition. I feel Daniel Craig in the Casino Royale sequel is on par with Matt Damon in the Boerne Identity sequel. Time will tell if I'm correct. I'm going against the trend on this one and giving Quantum three ad a half O's.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Past Commentary (1)

Rachel Getting Married O~O

Cathie decided that she would like to see a movie tonight so I agreed to see Rachel Getting Married. After all what better way to prove to your wife you love here than to sit through a long movie about a wedding. Even though I probably have a wedding phobia I felt I could suck it up for two hours. Besides, it was billed as a "Comedy, Ensemble" film so how tough could it be.

Man, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. Although the movie had comedic moments it was not what I would call a comedy. More like a calamity which is defined by Webster as: a state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss. Yea, this movie was dripping with all of that. Ok, let's agree that every family is dysfunctional from time to time. Now think back to your families dysfunctional "Greatest Hits". How would you like to relive all of them in a two hour period, nonstop. Now that sounds like fun doesn't it. On top of that the movie was shot like a documentary to some extent with the camera following around the actors just like you would film your daughter's wedding if you were doing it yourself. You know that real home movie feel. Now that contest to see whether the bride's Father or the groom could unload and reload a dishwasher full of dirty dishes was quite the entertainment. They even shot the contest in real time so you don't miss a minute of the action :<( I will say Hathaway's acting was excellent and her role was the polar opposite to the one in "The Princess Diaries". This movie got great reviews and I can see why it's critically acclaimed but I don't recommend seeing it unless you are a masochist. I'm going to be stubborn and only give it two O's. Just too darn depressing and because Cathie didn't like it I probably didn't get any brownie points.

Role Models O~O~C

I promised myself I would just wait until "Quantum of Solace" came out next week but then I read three good reviews of "Role Models". For those of you who live in San Antonio that equates to: two thumbs up and three jalapenos. I can see why the movie got good reviews but little did I know it would resemble "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" meets "American Pie". Why they thought to mix a family movie with a juvenile comedy I'll never know. Nothing like a Disney film with a lot of inappropriate language throughout. Had they toned it down the movie could have dropped from an "R" to a "PG 13" easily doubling it's target audience resulting in more money at the box office. Seann William Scott (American Pie) and Paul Rudd (Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin) both were very likable and did a very good job of acting. They weren't vulgar at all. 70% of the obscenities came from a 10 year old boy Scott was mentoring due to the fact both Scott and Rudd were ordered to do 150 hours of community service. The other notable in the movie was actress Elizabeth Banks. Apparently someone in Hollywood has dubbed her the next big thing as she has been in 4 movies just this year. Either that or she works cheap. The most notable are the just released (Zack and Miri make a Porno) and her role as the blond divorce in (Definitely; Maybe). By the way if you haven't rented Definitely; Maybe I think you will really enjoy it. Three and a half O's in my opinion. I think I"ll break form the trend and only give Role Models two and a half O's but only if you are an American Pie veteran, which I am not.


Changeling O~O~O~C

Changeling is a quality movie in every respect. Clint Eastwood is maturing as a Director and when his career is over we may remember his directing as much as his acting. Eastwood did a magnificent job catching the look and feel of Los Angeles in the late 20's. Although the movie has some disturbing scenes most of it was extremely tranquil. The characters moved methodically and spoke gently while a soundtrack of soothing piano music played in the background. The piano cords were basic and uncomplicated similar to those in the song "Color My World" by Chicago. Changeling was a throwback to the way Bogart movies were made in the 40's. I couldn't help but think that maybe Eastwood could have gotten away filming this movie in black and white. Adding the line "play it again Sam" might be a little much though. Although Changeling was well cast there is no mistake this movie was tailor made for Angelina Jolie. She put in her strongest acting performance to date and not only should Angelina get an Academy Awards nomination for best actress I will be surprised if she doesn't win. If you are a mother with a son be forewarned. You may feel your emotions carry you away as you empathise with Angelina's predicament while imagining how you would feel if in her place. I could hear women in the audience gasp every time Angelina's character was mistreated unfairly by the LA Police Department. Of course being blinded by Jolie's bright red lip stick on those Jaggeresk size lips will snap you out of it if and when the grim movie scenes get a little much for you. You might want to throw some sun glasses in your bag just in case. You don't think Mick knew her mother do you. I thought long and hard about giving this movie four O's but decided that although the acting and directing was terrific the story line just didn't get it there. Then again the writers are a little restricted when they are dealing with a true story. Let's go with three and a half O's but be sure you are up for a two and a half hour movie that is about a serious event. O~O~O~C


RocknRolla will be of interest to any of you that enjoyed Guy Ritchie's (Dec 2000) release "Snatch". Nothing like a British made (Action/Comedy/Caper/Crime) movie. Only the Brits can weave their wonderful British humor (Sarcasm/Irony/Self-Deprecation) throughout an Action/Crime movie and lighten it up enough to be able to laugh at the brutality. Be honest now, how many of you would have recognized Guy Ritchie's name if he hadn't been married to Madonna. The cast of characters (and I mean characters) were great but Gerard Butler really stood out in this movie. Gerard is a Scottish actor that spent a number of years in theatre before becoming a movie actor. I believe his role in "RocknRolla" will be his launching pad to many more lead roles much the same way the movie "Snatch" launched the carrier of Jason Statham (Transporter movies & Italian Job). Gerard has a unique quality of being able to play a tough guy while still being sensitive and self-deprecating. Some of you may remember him as Angelina Jolie's love interest in the sequel to "Lara Croft Tomb Raiders", "P.S. I Love You", and his role in the blockbuster movie "300". Part way through the movie I began to subliminally think "Hey, I'm watching another guy that reminds me of Andy Garcia, this is weird". A little later it dawned on me the actor (Mark Strong) was the same British actor that played the Jordanian Head of Intelligence in the movie "Body of Lies". His real British accent had been throwing me off. Glad to see someone else figured out that he was cut out to play a gangster similar to Andy Garcia's role in Godfather III. If you are into British humor as I am then you will enjoy this movie. I give it three O's. By the way rent the movie of Snatch if you haven't seen it. I think it's a 4 star movie and really showcases Brad Pitt as a great character actor. Benicio Del Toro is also in the film.


Pride and Glory

I can't say I went to this movie thinking it would be more than just another cop movie but I began to realize I was watching something special about a third the way through. I find movies usually fall into one of two categories: 1. Entertaining movies that ride above the surface focusing on laughs, or special effects, or how many bad guys a Kung Fu artist can defeat in 60 seconds. Nothing wrong with these when you are semi brain dead from a rough week and aren't up for much else. 2. Serious movies that dive deep below the surface. They engulf you creating several hours of true escape from your daily lives. If done well you begin to start feeling the same emotions the characters feel as they grapple with complex moral issues and how to resolve them. Pride and Glory is everything you are looking for in the second. Brilliantly acted and directed with a solid plot. The acting isn't surprising as Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Jon Voight have put in some pretty strong performances in the past. I think this is Voight's best performance since the 1969 movie "Midnight Cowboy" or "Deliverance". Even Noah Emmerich (one of those actors that you never know his name but you recognize when you see him) held his own. Jennifer Ehle had a riveting performance as Noah's wife who was dying of cancer. Had her role been larger she may have gotten some Best Supporting Actress buzz but I doubt she logged enough minutes. I can see her landing a nice gig based on her performance in this movie. The Director Gavin O'Connor has not directed a film of this magnitude before but is sure to get a chance at another major film based on Pride and Glory. So, in the spirit of all these wonderful TV election ads "I'm Craig O and I approve of this movie" ... to the tune of three and a half O's. Just make sure you want to be in a serious mood after watching.


Max Payne

Max Payne is a good name for this movie as Mark Wahlberg is in "Payne" for the entire movie both mentally and physically. Come to think of it I was in "Payne" a good portion of the movie. Being the #1 rated movie at the box office over the weekend got me there but I must not be the right target audience. Billed as an Action/Thriller it had plenty of both but unfortunately masqueraded as a quasi Sci-Fi movie. It wasn't until the end of the film you realized there was a rational explanation for the appearance of winged creatures. Ok, does Mark Wahlberg remind you of Matt Damon or is it just me. They are similar in looks and stature and are becoming two of the better action male leads. I would have to say Mark is more of a Matt wanna be at this point but is steadily getting better. Looking back at "Body of Lies" I feel Mark or Matt would have been a much better selection than Leonardo DeCaprio. I only give this movie two O's but there is a good size demographic out there that disagrees with me based on the box office numbers. If you know who you are go ahead and watch this movie.


Lakeview Terrace

I've got to say Samuel L. Jackson makes a great "Villain". I wouldn't want him living next door to me. Patrick Wilson is an up and coming actor. This is his first co-lead role and I think we will see him land more. (OK, so Sony Pictures probably doesn't intend Patrick to be Jackson's co-star but I feel Patrick acted his equal) The movie methodically works its way towards a resolution to their dispute so make sure you are in the right mood when you see it as it does not move fast. Might be best seen on DVD when you have plenty of time to kill. Lakeview Terrace is every bit as good as the recent DeNiro/Pacino movie "Righteous Kill (which I gave three O's) but due to the movie moving a little slower I'll give it two and a half O's.


Nick and Norah's Infinite Play List

So, I went to see "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People". After about 30 minutes Simon Pegg managed to alienate me. The movie actually got good reviews even though the previews were so/so at best. Make sure you can handle Simon in the previews because he gets twice as obnoxious in the movie. Didn't feel like asking for my money back so I slipped into the movie next door, "Nick & Norah's"long, long night". You know the movie was not bad if you are somewhere between 14 and 28. I guess this means most of you will be recommending it to your sons and daughters (uh, maybe just your daughters). Norah (Kat Dennings) is on the quirky side just like Ellen Page from "Juno" and Nick (Michael Cera) is just like ... well ... Michael Cera in "Juno". It's amazing how Hollywood can take a homely, but sensitive kid and turn him into the leading man (boy child) in two movies. Maybe it's time for nice, sensitive guys to get their due even if they run like a little girl as he does. Hey, more power to him. OK, I'm going to rate this for the younger set, not us older folks. I could be wrong but I think they will enjoy it to the tune of threes O's.


Body of Lies

Russell Crowe and Leonardo DeCaprio, team up with director Ridley Scott to make a movie about CIA undercover activity in the Middle East. Seems like a recipe for a can't miss movie, right? Well, not as good as it could have been. Casting Crowe as an overweight and obnoxious CIA Director was a waste of his acting ability. There are 20 smaller actors that could have played this role just as well. If you like Crowe in the movie "Insider" you may disagree with me but I can think of many other roles I preferred Crowe in. DeCaprio was just plain miss cast as well. He needs to stick to more refined roles. A tough guy he's not. It was almost amusing listening to DeCaprio try to talk tough throughout the movie. Something tells me he's not in line to become the next Cling Eastwood. Both DeCaprio's and Crowe's accents were a little much. The rest of the movie was cast perfectly. I really enjoyed Goishifteh Farahani (bet you can't tell if I spelled her name correctly or not) who played DeCaprio's love interest. She is an Iranian actress who is acting in her first American film. Goli has a very natural way of acting that makes you feel she is a real person and not an actress. A breath of fresh air that flows through out the film. I also enjoyed Mark Strong's role as the Head of Jordanian Intelligence. Now Mark did a great job with his accent because after the movie I was shocked to discover he is actually an English actor. Watching an English actor play a Jordanian Intelligence agent that looked and acted like Andy Garcia in his Godfather role was quite intriguing. Almost spooky. Good enough to get two and a half O's but could have been much better.



I'll say this about Bill Maher: he has a lot of guts making this film as I'm sure it will come under heavy scrutiny. Bill was raised as a Catholic while his mother was Jewish. Bill's mother admits this created a dysfunctional environment which I assume lead to him questioning and challenging conventional religious beliefs. This movie will challenge what we have been taught about religion. Bill's genius is in the way he pulls this off in a light hearted and witty manner keeping the people he interviews from becoming overly defensive. This keeps the conversations civil an not contentious. The fact Bill simply asks questions an refrains from attacking his subjects also keeps them on confrontational. This allows for the movie to be very humorous as Bill is a funny guy by nature. The religious base interviewed is well diversified as he visits with Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Scientolotists, Mormons, etc. My guess is most in the audience will laugh at the other religious faiths but think he is out of line when he questions their religion. Funny how that works isn't it. Had Bill taken any other approach this movie would have fallen flat on it's face. So here's the deal. If you have a belief system that is set in stone and think you will get offended by being exposed to another point of view then it's kind of pointless going to this movie. You could actually get offended and walk out. That would defeat my purpose of doing reviews to help you save time and money. On the other hand if you are very secure in your belief system and can watch this movie for the comedy aspect without being offended then you could enjoy the movie. Be warned however, no matter what your belief system you will never look at religion exactly the same way again. Not necessarily a bad thing just a fact. Because the movie is extremely entertaining and will get you thinking I give it three O's but "let the movie goers beware.


Nights in Rodanthe

Cathie went to see this with Sister Tricia. The said that although Gere and Lane have good chemistry they did not spend enough time developing the characters. As a result the depth of their relationship wasn't believable as they were only together over a weekend. Cathie and Tricia felt the mother and daughter's relationship was excellent however. They would only give this movie two O's.


Eagle Eye

Shia LaBeouf is one of the hottest new stars in Hollywood. First Transformers an then a great little movie called Disturbia (which you should see on DVD if you haven't already). It didn't hurt that Spielberg had a hand in the film. Very good action thriller. For those of you with a little attention deficit I recommend this movie as its pretty much nonstop action. Not an Academy Awards type but very entertaining. My son Jack tipped me off as he liked it as well. If you don't catch it at the theatre no problem as it will come across well on TV. It will make an excellent DVD rental this Holiday Season. I give it a very solid three O's



For those of you that enjoy Westerns (as I do) this is a must see movie. Use the 2003 release of "Open Range" as a litmus test. Although the plot is not similar the movie has the same feel. Appaloosa's main characters Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zellweger compare favorably to the Open Range characters of Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner and Annette Bening. What's up with Zellweger's eyebrows. They look like they were painted on by one of Cathie and Tricia's Kindergarten students because they are crooked as heck. Annette Benings got her beat hands down. Al Harris gets top billing and does an excellent job but you will really connect with Viggo Mortensen. They made a terrific team and of course Jeremy Irons is ideally suited to play the villain. Not the typical action packed movie and the shootouts are more authentic than most Westerns. this is a serious movie like Clint Eastwood's Academy Awards movie "The Unforgiven" but it also has many humorous moments. Even the music is a little lighter than the typical Western. If you are a Western fan this is a solid three and a half O's but it's so well done I think you will enjoy it even if you are not.



Dangerous OK, tell me I didn't go see this movie. Going to a Nicolas Cage movie is getting pretty risky these days. He either strikes out or hits a home run. Unfortunately he whiffed this one big time. Bankok looks like an interesting city and might remind Kevin of his stay there when he was young but I can't see a reason for the rest of you to see it. Even the romance between Cage and a deaf/mute girl falls flat on it's face. Now don't go reporting me to any of those agencies saying I'm insensitive to handicapped people. There is a young actor (Shahkrit Yamnam) that plays Cage's understudy that kind of grows on you. He may have won himself some upcoming roles from his acting in this movie but wait to see him in something else. Stay away. I only give it one O


What Happens in Vegas

I have to admit this movie looked a little too silly to go see from the previews. Happened to be trapped on a flight to Toronto and watched it because the stewardesses held me down and propped my eye's open with toothpicks. Glad I did. Definitely worth a DVD rental although you chicks will dig it a little more than you guys. Diaz and Kutcher had good chemistry and are both equally wacky. Her friend in the movie (Dennis Farina) and Kutcher's attorney friend (Rob Cordry) were great and their relationship (if you can call it that) was very funny in a sarcastic kind of way. (Is there any other kind of funny) If I was a chick I'd give it three O's but I'm not so it gets two and a half O's.



I love Don Cheadle. He always brings tremendous to his characters. Don't acting didn't disappoint but the character he played was a little dry. The movie did keep you wondering and there were a few good twist and turns at the end. Well worth a DVD rental but one of my big tests is do I think about the movie the next day or would I watch it again on DVD. Not really ...... but I still give it two and a half O's


My Best Friends Girl

Ha, were do I start.... Maybe ... "Something about Marry" - "Wedding Crashers" - "Knocked Up" and "Harry Met Sally" all rolled up into one. I've got to warn you that this movie has more embarrassing scenes than all the others combined. The language gets a little vulgar at times so I wouldn't go see it with your mother. I guess the times are a-changing. The writer worked overtime coming up with witty lines as they just kept coming. I was a little surprised Kate Hudson would play a role this racy but she seemed very comfortable. The lead role was perfect for Dane Cook. That guy can really make you uncomfortable. I will want to see it again when on DVD. If this is your kind of movie I give it three and a half O's


Tropic Thunder

I must have been really board and there was nothing else out. Not as bad as I feared however. Worth renting on DVD if you want a few laughs. Jack Black is his usual self along with Ben Stiller. I swear Stiller is the same no matter what role he's in. I would give anything to see Ben in a serious role. It was interesting to see Robert Downing JR. play a white guy that plays a black man. The sleeper was Tom Cruise playing a bald movie mogul in an UN-credited cameo. Tom's dancing at the end of the movie during the credits was actually worth the price of admission. That also lets me bump it from two O's to two and a half O's



Oh man, what can I say. Twosomes, threesomes, men kissing women, women kissing women ... LOL This was definitely a Woody Allen film. Woody likes to push the envelope. Javier Barden exudes sexuality and I think he's on the way to becoming the next Antonio Bandera. Having a man narrate the movie along with the same French Music playing in the background was classic Woody. How he got Scarlet Johanson and Penelope Cruz to lip lock I'll never know but I guess Woody has his ways. Still I only give it two and a half O's



The acting was magnificent! Who would have thought Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz could have pulled this off. A student in her early 30's falling for a professor in his early 60's, no way right? Wrong. The chemistry between Kinsley and Cruz was off the charts. I believe Penelope Cruz should be nominated for an Academy Award. She was the definition of Sultry. This was also sort of a coming out party for Cruz as she bares it all several times in the movie. Let's put it this way ... if a woman ever wondered if she was Bi Sexual she would have the answer after seeing Cruz in this film. Of course I put my hand over my eyes during several scenes. Ben is in surprisingly good shape for his age and Dennis Hopper was a perfect confidant for Ben. This movie will never do much at the box office but look for at the Academy Awards nominations. I give it a solid three and a half O's


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cumulative List of Past Commentary's

Movie Ratings (Quick Reference for Decision-Making)

Gran Torino O~O~O~O
(Eastwood's last acting performance was fantastic)

Australia O~O~O~O
(Everything a Major Motion Picture should be)

Changeling O~O~O~C
(Jolie and Eastwood make a quality film)

Slumdog Millionaire O~O~O~C
(Made in India not a subtitled Indian film)

The Wrestler O~O~O~C
(This movie will define Mickey Rourke's carrier)

Quantum of Solace O~O~O~C
(More serious less gadgets)

Appaloosa O~O~O~C
(Will become another Western Classic)

My Best Friends Girl O~O~O~C
(Crude but Hilarious)

Elegy O~O~O~C
(Ben Kingsley & Penelope Cruz turn in Academy Award performances)

Pride and Glory O~O~O~C
(Rock Solid performance by entire cast)

The Reader O~O~O
(Coming of age meets the Holocaust)

Taken O~O~O
(A good Bourne Identity Fix while waiting for the next Bourne film)

Knowing O~O~O
(Interesting ending)

Religulous O~O~O
(Controversial but very well done)

Nick & Norah's Infinite Play List O~O~O
(June part II but without Ellen Page)

Eagle Eye O~O~O
(Shia LaBeouf is a rising star)

The Day The Earth Stood Still O~O~O
(Man have special effects come a long way since the original)

Righteous Kill O~O~O
(Slow start but strong ending)

Burn After Reading O~O~O
(Another good Coen Brothers Film)

Nicky/Christina/Barcelona O~O~O
(The women will like Javier Baeden's sexuality)

RocknRolla O~O~O
(If you like Guy Ritchie and his movie Snatch you will like RnR)

Nobel Son O~O~O
(Psychological thriller but not too dark and has an enjoyable plot)

Defiance O~O~O
(Daniel Craig was very good but movie was a little slow)

Seven Pounds O~O~C
(very slow movie with an awesome ending)

Body of Lies O~O~C
(OK, but could have been better)

Lakeview Terrace O~O~C
(Good change of pace for Samuel L. Jackson)

What Happens in Vegas O~O~C
(Surprisingly Watchable)

Traitor O~O~C
(Watch if you are a on Cheadle Fan)

Tropic Thunder O~O~C
(Good movie but Ben Stiller silly)

Role Models O~O~C
(Honey I Shrunk the Kids meets American Pie)

The International O~O~C
(Only see if you are a big Clive Owen fan)

Transporter 3 O~O
(Lot's of action but lame plot and horrible leading lady/girl)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button O~O
(Run time was 2:47 seemed like 5 hours)

Max Payne O~O
(Go only if you are a fan of Mark Wahlberg's)

Nights in Rodanthe O~O
(Needed to develop the Characters better)

Rachel Getting Married O~O
(Just too darn depressing)

Bangkok Dangerous O
(Nicolas Cage Goes down in Flames)