Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mrs. Henderson Presents

Mrs. Henderson Presents has a provacative cover on the movie and teases us with this comment:

"...Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) embarks on her newest adventure: the transformation of an old movie theater into the Windmill, a space that will host, of all things, a nude musical revue…"

Being a guy, this certainly caught my interest. The movie stars, as previously mentioned, Judi Dench, who has been busy over the past few years. She starred in several of the previous James Bond movies and in Notes on a Scandal, which was reviewed here recently. The movie also stars Bob Hoskins, Eddie of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Oh, and I should mention that it also stars about a dozen beautiful young ladies who get naked.

Now don't get me wrong. This movie is no Show Girls. The nudity is mostly from afar, non-sexual and short in length. If one can buy this, it is tasteful nudity - what you might expect in a artistic photography book.

The movie is based on a true story. It is set in World War II London. The city is under the anxiety of constant nightly bombing raids from the Germans. Mrs. Henderson decides to put on this nude review as a classy alternative to the nude underground and the boring stodgy shows that currently exist. She opens The Windmill Theatre.

Mrs. Henderson has an awesome sense of humor and sets her British counterparts into a tizzy. I definitely got a great laugh from the conversations that she had. The dialog is great.

Other than seeing Bob Hoskins totally nude, I loved this movie. I gave it 4 stars.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Comebacks

The Comebacks is a new comedy staring David Koechner, famous for being in several of Will Ferrell's movies including Talladega Nights and Anchorman, The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The movie was produced by the same producer as "The Wedding Crashers" as advertised on their movie poster.

This movie is soaked in gags and guttural humor. The movie does a good job of spoofing many other movies, so the more movies you have seen, the better understanding you have of the intended humor.

I say intended humor, because a lot of it was mildly funny, not hee-haw funny. For example, his daughter starts dating one of the players on the team. Throughout the movie she keeps refereeing to him as her "black boyfriend". Funny the first time, maybe. Borderline controversial for the other 45 times that she said it throughout the movie.

The first part of the movie was funny enough to keep my interest, even if my response was, "ahhh…ok." There were lots of gags like the ones you would see in Top Secret, Airplane, and Scary Movie (including all 17 sequels). I like a good gag/spoof movie now and then.

However, the second half of the movie put me over the edge. Not funny. I couldn't wait for it to be over. One good thing about the movie is that it was only 97 minutes long. However, the bad thing is that it should have ended about 50 minutes into it.

Overall, I want to give this movie 3 stars, because there were some parts that were funny enough. However, the ending just wouldn't come soon enough as the second half was on the cusp of boring. So I have to give this movie 2 stars, but would give it 2 1/2 if my business rules would have allowed it - but unfortunately they don't.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Going My Way

The war-time winner of the Oscar for Best Picture in 1944, Going My Way stars Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley who was sent to an older parish that is in financial disarray. The movie won 7 Oscars total, including Best Actor (Bing Crosby) and Best Supporting Actor (Barry Fitzgerald) and was nominated for 10.

Crosby shows an uncanny knack for handling difficult situations and inspires the neighborhood hoodlums into joining the Church choir. In the end, Crosby saves the Church only to see disaster strike. The movie is filled with singing and includes Crosby's famous "White Christmas".

The movie is not without a great supporting cast. Black and white movie aficionados will recognize the mortgage lender as the judge from Miracle on 34th Street (whose famous line was "if the United States Post Office recognizes this man as Santa Claus, then so does this court!", and William Frawly, who was made famous as Fred Mertz on "I Love Lucy".

Additionally, the movie contains the famous saying that is something to the effect of, "At 18 I thought my father was the dumbest man in the world. By the time I was 21, I was amazed at how much he had learned in that short period of time."

Overall, I give this movie 4 stars. I love the old movies, and best of all, this movie put my son to sleep the other night when he refused to go to bed. He's not as much of a fan of "gray movies" as I am.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum is the third (and supposedly last) in the series of the secret spy thrillers starring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. The previous 2 movies, The Bourne Supremacy and the Bourne Identity, were excellent movies in their own right. The Bourne Ultimatum does not disappoint. However, this movie cannot stand alone. If you have not seen the first two movies, this movie will have you clueless.

The movie is action-packed and there is never a dull moment. It is not loaded down with boring romantic conversation or useless dialog. The movie is filled with 3-5 second clips shifting from one scene to another. This not your epileptic friend's movie. The plot keeps you in constant suspense and there is continuous twists.

Though the "good" guys wind up winning in the end, the movie leaves itself wide open for a sequel. However, I think they may be running out of clever words that go with "born". Perhaps Bourne on the 4th of July? Bourne to Run? Bourne in the U.S.A.?

The movie had me laughing and glued to the television in suspense. Which reminds me of a joke - how do you keep an idiot in suspense?

I give this movie 4 stars. I could have done with a little less 4 second scene changes, but overall I liked the movie.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End

Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End is the third movie of the Disney trilogy. I will say that I really liked the first two movies. However, I suspected that the third one would be really silly - and I was right.

What I wasn't expecting was the nearly three hours of seemingly unending endings. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the action and the special effects and that is what was supposed to make the movie worth watching. And what girl-loving guy doesn't like Keira Knightley. I thought it was amazing how her skin and hair were really dirty and 30 seconds later she was all pretty and clean.

Johnny Depp again plays the perpetually juiced Captain Jack Sparrow. His character is comical and lucky, which makes him a likable character. Orlando Bloom was thrown in again because he's so pretty.

The movie tells about how the many parties, Will Turner, Sparrow, Captain Barbossa, Elizabeth Swan, and Admiral Norrington and even Sao Feng fight their way to Davy Jones' locker to release the condemned goddess Calypso.

The movie borders on the unbelievable until you remember that this is supposed to be a fantastical movie. Of course good defeats evil. You'd be all pissed off if it happened otherwise. However, the ending leaves it wide open for a sequel. So much for calling it a trilogy.

Overall, I gave this movie 4 stars. Like other ratings that I've given, it fits its niche well. Note, however that I gave the other two movies 5 stars each. So of the three movies, I relatively liked this one the least. Would I see a fourth? But, of course.

Perfect Stranger

I was expecting Balki and cousin Larry, but instead I got Halle Berry and Bruce Willis. Actually now that I think about it, that's a pretty good trade.

This Perfect Stranger is about a woman (Halle Berry) trying to bring down Bruce Willis for a murder of one of her friends. She will do anything to bring him to justice. Her role is convincing. Bruce, however, played the same character that he always plays. Now, the movie kept my interest and I knew I had it all figured out...until the end.

Let me tell you, when a movie uses the Scooby-Doo method of solving the case, it is a bad movie. At the end one of the main characters runs through what actually happened, but watching the movie would not have provided you any clues. That totally defeats the purpose of a good mystery. Trust me, I was pretty ticked off at this point.

Unfortunately for Halle Berry, her good looks could not sway me. I give this movie 1 star. If not for the "oh, this is how it happened" speech at the end, I would have given this 3 stars. The only thing that would have made it worse is if Scrappy-Doo jumped out and said, "Let me at 'em, uncle Scooby!"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo

I have fond memories of Herbie the Love Bug from my childhood. The lovable and funny car was part of a family-friendly series of movies.

So last week when my kids were browsing through the children's DVD's and picking out some of the worst stuff they could find, I gently directed them to some Disney classics. I said, "How about this one?!!!" "Yeah-Yeah!!!!" Oh, how easy it is sometimes to manipulate children!

On Friday my son had a friend over. They decided to watch a movie. My son suggested the Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo movie.

His friend said, "What is that?"

"Oh, it's this movie about a car that comes to life."

"Oh!!! Cool!!! Just like Transformers?!!!"

Uh, maybe we shouldn't watch this movie. Finally we watched it on Friday night. In this timeless classic from 1977, Dean Jones and Mr. Furley (also known as Don Knotts) work together to qualify for the race across France. They run into the beautiful Julie Sommars. Herbie falls in love with her car and has to be coerced through the movie to concentrate on the race.

In the meantime, a gem heist has occurred at a local museum and the gem was hidden in Herbie gas line. One of the bad guys is Roy Kinnear, also known as Veruca Salt's father in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

As with all Disney movies, the good guys win in the end. As far as quality movies, this one is far from the top. However, for a good child-friendly laugher, this one quite neatly fits into its niche.

I give this movie 3 stars. It serves its intended audience well.

North by Northwest

North by Northwest is the Alfred Hitchcock thriller starring Cary Grant and the lovely Eva Marie Saint (check out the movie, you might put her on your list). It was one of the last movies that Cary Grant starred. He only played in six more movies before retiring.

The movie is your typical Hitchcock thriller. Nominated for 3 Oscars and the winner of the highly coveted Edgar Allen Poe Award for best picture, NBTW keeps the viewer in constant suspense. Grant is kidnapped and later framed for murder and spends the rest of the movie trying to find out why so that he can prove his innocence. He never knows who's a friend and who's a fiend.

He does run into the lovely Eva Marie Saint who quickly seduces him. She claims to be 26 years old and traveling. Grant, who's about 55, is charmed and finds nothing odd in that a woman half is age is extremely attracted to him. Now, when I'm 55, this would be my greatest fantasy, but come on, this was not that realistic.

The special affects are reflective of the technology from the 1950's - very special. However, very few movies keep me in suspense like this. For that, I give this movie 4 stars. It's one of the classics and a must see for a movie aficionado.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Ten

This is one of those movies you think will either be really funny or really stupid. After all, it starts the attractive Jessica Alba, Paul Rudd, Wynona Ryder, Liev Schreiber, Adam Brody, just to name a few.

You should take the fact that I fell asleep half way through the movie as an idication that it is not very good. Movies always keep my attention - unless they suck. And don't get me wrong - I can take a good religous spoof, as long as it's tastefully done and not done in hatred. The Ten passed that test.

The premise of the movie is to act out a story for each of the Ten Commandments. The one skit with the skydiver just would not end. It was not funny. It was irritating. I laughed a couple of times during the other skits, but not the kind of laughing that you would do when a guy steps on a rake and it comes up and smashes him in the nose.

Overall, I gave this movie 2 stars. It wasn't so horrible that it made me sick and I did laugh a couple of times. However, I would have preferred to have spent my time doing something else. If you are using this blog to gauge whether or not to watch this movie, skip it. Watch something else. you're not missing anything that's worth seeing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Jackass Number Two

For anyone who enjoyed those deviant years of middle school and the crude humor that accompanied it (and yes, there are some of us that did), then Jackass: Number Two is for you.

I have not seen the original Jackass movie, but I suspected that there were no plot themes that needed to be understood before you saw the sequel - and I was correct. From poop, explosions, cussing, punches, and eating gross things, this movie does not disappoint the average 13 year old - and an occasional 35 year old. Why anyone would subject themselves to this level of humor is beyond me, but as a voyeuristic society, a lot of us are glad that Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, and Bam Magera did.

This movie is no intellectual teaser. In fact, the movie is still funny with the sound turned off. My 5 year-old son walked into the room and I quickly turned off the sound because of the occasional curse word (occasional meaning every other word). Together we watched them crash into a few things and we both laughed.

Overall, I give this movie 4 stars. I would not have expected this movie to win any awards, but if you are in the mood for a cheap non-thinking comedy, this movie is for you. I laughed a lot and didn't feel guilty about doing so.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Thunderball is the 9th of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, though the fourth in the series of movies. Adjusted for inflation, it was the most successful James Bond film grossing $924 million using 2007 adjusted numbers.

Made during the Sean Connery era, the movie often resembles the special effects of the same-era Batman tv show. For example, you can tell the boat is going really fast when they speed up the camera. And the only thing missing from the fight scenes are the "Ka-Pow!!" and "Blam!!!".

However, don't let this deter you from watching this movie. The chauvinistic Bond never disappoints. In one scene, one of the beautiful starlets lies in the bath tub when he walks in. I bit stunned, she asks if he can hand her something to put on. He reaches out and hands her a pair of shoes.

And for the corny-coolness factor, when asked what Bond does for a living, he responds, "I'm sort of a licensed trouble-shooter."

I rate this movie 4 stars. There are enough one-liners that will keep you laughing. However, if you are like me and aspire to be cool, this Bond film gives you a healthy dose of things you wish you could say on the spot and do as a secret British agent.

On a side note, the movie was remade in 1983 and called Never Say Never Again. The plot is nearly the same and this time Domino is portrayed by Kim Basinger. Additionally, Never Say Never Again ran in theaters during the same year as a competing Bond film, the titillatingly titled Octopussy.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Goodfellas is the 1990 hit movie about mobster life in New York/New Jersey. Siskel and Ebert (inidicating how old the movie is) said this was the greatest mobster movie of all time.

I agree that this was a good movie. It stars and is narrated by Ray Liotta, best known for being the security guard who helped the Muppets escape from the evil scientist in Muppets from Space. He also had a minor role in a lesser-known movie called Field of Dreams portraying Shoeless Joe Jackson. Goodfellas also stars every other guy that always plays a mobster, except James Gandolfini. It does include Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, Frank Sivero, and Tony Darrow, who was in Sopranos with Gandolfini.

The movie starts in the 1950's with Liotta's character as a kid and follows him through life as he grows up in the mob. There's a lot of shickanery going on, lots of shooting, and lots of cussing. In fact, I think the movie could have been called Goodfukkas. Joe Pesci's character said 10 different words throughout the movie, of which 8 of those were derivations of the F-word.

The ending of the movie gets a little hokey. I started thinking, "really? This is getting a little silly." However, the movie is powerful and can get intense. If you are like me and had never seen this movie, get it from Netflix (it'll arrive in 2 weeks and then they'll pretend that you didn't return it for another 3) or get it from the library. It's worth your time. I give this movie 4 stars.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Michael Moore Hates America

Netflix is pretending that they aren't receiving my movies again. In the last 3 weeks I've seen 3 Netflix movies. Normally I can turnaround 2 movies a week. I guess they're not getting their money's worth out of me. So last night I borrowed Michael Moore Hates America from a friend.

Now I will qualify my critique by saying that I pretty much don’t like Michael Moore, though I have seen Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine, and Fahrenheit 9/11.

Michael Wilson brings us this amateurish documentary about making a documentary about a guy who pretends to make documentaries. Hollywood loves Michael Moore because even though the facts are not correct and the ones that are close are often distorted, Moore is still sending the right message. However, to a true documentary purist, you would have to say that Michael Moore produces Fictiontaries.

Wilson does a good job of pointing out the inaccuracies of Moore's movies. And he does a great job of spoofing the cover of Roger and Me for the cover of his own movie. He even interviews some of the same people that were in Moore's movies. Most did not know their purpose of being in Moore's movies and felt that they had been deceived. One went as far as to say that he never even met Moore. Moore just used video footage of him to prove that the military hates America. This guy wasn't too happy.

During the whole movie, Wilson is trying to get an interview with Moore, but is repeatably denied by the gatekeepers of Dog Eat Dog Films, Moore's production company. Then Wilson shows clips of several interviewers asking Moore why he won't agree to interview with Wilson and Moore repeatedly says that he's never heard of the guy. It's all very comical.

Overall, I give this movie 3 stars. The quality and flow is a little choppy, but Wilson makes his point. This movie will not convince the blind followers of Moore that he's just a fat rich hypocritical pig, but for those of us that already know this, this movie is fairly enjoyable.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Notes on a Scandal

What happens when you put 2 lunatic teachers together in the same school? You either get my high school or you get the plot for a movie.

Ini this British drama, you have one teacher that is a love-seeking unappologetic pedophile, while the other is a militaristc befriending control-freak who seeks out and destroys the reputation of attractive young teachers. The older teacher, best known for playing M in the new James Bond movies, documents her voyaristic exploits in journals that are the source of her enjoyment, hence the notes on the scandal.

Every boy's dream is to hook up with a hot teacher. I am no exception. My 11th grade English student teacher may have secretly shared my desire for her. The kid (or victim if you're politically correct) in this movie is not the type of kid you cheer for when conquers his sexual desires. He's an arrogant and aggressive punk with a penchant for flattery that wins over love-starving Cate Blanchett.

The movie ends by leaving you hanging. What happens to the teacher? We can only make assumptions. Though we do see M starting her exploitation of her next victim.

Overall, I give this movie 3 stars. I kept my attention, though the ending was disappointing.

But I do have good news everyone - the Golden Globe Awards show has been cancelled this year to the writer's strike. Who said nothing good would come out of this strike?!!!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Rescue Dawn

Rescue Dawn is the newest in the line of Veit-Nam era war movies. We really have not seen a new one of these since Full Metal Jacket and Hamburger Hill, unless, of course, you consider Forrest Gump and Viet-Nam era war movie. But as we know, Forrest Gump more accurately portrays John Kerry than it did any real soldiers.

Rescue Dawn stars Christian Bale, who's been busy in the last couple of years with 3:10 To Yuma, The Prestige, and Batman Begins. The beginning starts off exciting enough aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ranger. It leads to his eventual crash and detainment as a prisoner in a war camp somewhere in Southeast Asia.

He is united with other prisoners, including Jeremy Davies who appears as a Charles Manson-like character, who interesting starred as Charles Manson in the 2004 TV movie Helter Skelter. The hatch out a plan to overtake the guards and escape from the camp and seek rescue from friendly faces. The later scenes border on somewhat "too convenient" circumstances, but the movie is based on a true story, so we may have to assume that much of it is true.

Overall, I like the movie and gave it 3 stars out of 5. On a side note, the movie was produced by former Duke basketball player Elton Brand. And we thought athletes from Duke couldn't amount to anything other than NBA stars.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Gods And Generals

Gods and Generals is the 2003 adaptation of Jeff Shaara's book about the Civil War, of which this was one of the trilogy. His father, Michael Shaara, wrote Killer Angels, and Jeff followed up with The Last Full Measure.

The movie stars Robert Duvall, Jeff Daniels, and Stephen Lang. Robert Duvall does a good job portraying Robert E. Lee. Jeff Daniels, though listed as one of the stars, really does not have that significant a role in the movie, though he does have a powerful part when he describes why the war is not about states rights and northern aggression, as some of our Southern brethren would like to believe. Instead, it is the fight to end slavery and to truly have liberty for all men in the United States. As would later play out over the next 100 years, liberty can be a relative term. Slavery is bad, but segregation racial inequities were not too much better, but that's for another commentary.

Continuing, Stephen Lang portrays Southern General "Stonewall" Jackson. You may know Lang from his other huge hits such as Another You and Shadow Conspiracy. Lang also suffers from Kevin Costner syndrome - the inability to cast a believable southern accent. Costner destroyed Kenny O'Donnell's southern accent in 13 Days, and Lang was just as unbelievable as a Southerner.

All in all, Gods and Generals is a high quality, 4 hour Civil War epic that any war historian should see. The battle scenes are intense and the history, though entwined with some fictional drama, is fairly accurate.


Up until we joined Netflix a year and a half ago, everyone, mainly my friends Dave and Kim, poked fun at the fact that I had not seen any movies since...really since I was in high school.

"Remember in The Big Lewbowski..."

"That's like those Poison Ivy movies when...."
"Never saw them."

So when my wife decided that we were joining Netflix, I decided to make this my opportunity to catch up on Americana. In addition, my obsessive personality made me also get movies from the library. In the past 2 years, I've now seen over 300 movies. Yeah, that's like one every other day. I often what I could have done around the house or how many books I could have read in that time.

Nonetheless, since I am wasting my time watching so many movies, I thought I would start benefiting my readers with reviews of said movies. Not everything is old. Like my co-worker Robert, I watch a lot of pre-1960 movies.

Be ready for reviews old and new. It may even inspire you to watch something that you have not seen in a really long time, or perhaps to watch one of the classics.
My Zimbio