Monday, April 28, 2008


This one was not in my Netflix queue. I was busy trying to figure out some software on my computer and decided to just put on a movie as background noise and I picked Mannequin.

This 80's cult classic from 1987 stars the quintessential "must be gay" Andrew McCarthy as Jonathan Switcher, who cannot hold a job until he gets a job working at a department store. He ends up setting up mannequin displays that catch the eye of the owner Claire Prince Timkin (Estelle Getty from the Golden Girls).

Suddenly, one of the mannequins comes to life and it's Emmy Hesire (Kim Cattrall - Sex in the City, Porky's, among others). Jonathan falls in love with Emmy, while Emmy helps him by creating exotic window displays that catch the eye of the public and help save the department store.

The problem is that whenever someone comes within eye-shot of her, she turns back to a mannequin. This makes for some humorous make-out scenes when Jonathan has some 'splainin' to do.

The movie spends the majority of time showing security guard Felix Maxwell (G. W. Bailey - Police Academy movies 1-234) trying to catch the elusive Emmy. "Must be gay" James Spader's character, Mr. Richards, also spends the remainder of the movie trying to convice Mrs. Timkin to fire Jonathan and trying to catch him doing something wrong. Despite several embarrassing situations (Jonathan waking up naked in a pile of fur coats), Mrs. Timkin sticks to him.

In the dramatic ending, a big chase ensues and Jonathan saves Emmy's life when she almost falls into a box shredding machine. This selfless act of love is the spark that's needed to bring Emmy to life permanently and they both express their love for each other and live happily ever after - or something like that.

This movie totally met my expectations - lousy acting, corny scenes throughout, and a weak and predictable plot. I'm amazed that Andrew McCarthy got as many roles as he did in the 1980's, though I wouldn't be surprised if he won an Oscar for those performances.

Mannequin is 88 minutes long, and is rated PG for some adult situations and suggestive humor. I give this movie 2 stars. The only reason you should watch this movie is for nostalgic reasons. The only thing that could be worse than this movie would be a sequel. What's that? There is a sequel? Holy crap - go see Mannequin 2: On the Move. You know that's going to be good!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War

Actors are well known for their special skills in acting. However, sometimes these actors who are acting try to overact and think they can become someone else, accent and all. Think about Kevin Costner in Thirteen Days when he turned into someone from Bah-stin (Boston). The accent was horrible and very distracting. Unfortunately, we had a bit of this in Charlie Wilson's War. Not only were we subject to it with Tom Hanks, but also the ill-looking Julie Roberts.

Charlie Wilson's War is a new release (which I got from Netflix with no delays!!!) and it is a true story. Charlie Wilson was a Congressman from Texas who had a taste for booze, drugs, and naked women, though I challenge you to find a man who doesn't agree with the latter.

While waiting in his office for a meeting, a man asks the secretary why everyone working in the office is a young attractive woman. The secretary responds, "Congressman Wilson says that you can teach a girl to type, but you can't teach her how to grow a great pair of tits." My wife even thought that was pretty funny!

The premise of the movie is that Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) meets with Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts), a rich, politically active socialite, kind of like Paris Hilton, but smart. She requests that Congressman Wilson increase covert funding to the Afghan rebels fighting against the Soviet invaders.

After a visit to Afghanistan and a meeting with CIA agent, the loud-foul-mouthed Gust Avrakotos, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Wilson gets the funding he needs to buy the weapons that successfully help the Afghan's drive the Soviet's out of the country. Hoffman did an awesome job with this character. The dialog with Hoffman and Hanks is hilarious. It is contentious, condescending, and sarcastic, all at once.

The movie also stars Amy Adams (Enchanted), veteran actor Ned Beatty, and slew of hot young ladies that Wilson called his Charlie's Angels.

The movie is Rated R for potty-mouth, some nudity, though it's all in the first 4 minutes of the movie, violence, graphic imagery of children who had their arms blown off my bombs, and some sexual situations. It is only about an hour and a half long, which was good because I was pretty darn tired last night. I don't think I could have made it through 30 more minutes of a movie.

I gave this movie 3 stars. I found the historical aspect of the movie interesting. It was definitely funny to see Tom Hanks as a misogynistic jerk. Julie Roberts looks elderly and ill. Perhaps she is. I used to think she was nice looking. I guess starting next year I can admire her 17 year old niece Emma (who will be 18 on February 10th).

The fake southern accents were a bit annoying. Outside of PSH's character, I thought that the other characters were a little weak, though I thought the dialog was funny. I think this movie will be hit or miss with people.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I am sucker for any movie set during World War II. And I'm a sucker for Keira Knightly (Pirates of the Caribbean movies). And had this movie missed any 2 of these elements, it probably would have been one that you could just forget about.

In Atonement, Keira Knightly stars as Cecilia Tallis, the older sister of Briony Tallis (Saorise Ronan, the 13 year-old version of Briony, who absolutely sucks as an actress, as does Romola Garai, the adult who plays the older Briony later in life.) Briony sees several events at their palatial home during the late 1930's that shape her views and opinions of others.

The movie shows several events from Briony's point of view and they do seem scandalous. However, the events are then replayed from the point of view of Cecilia, and they are not quite what they seem. In what will probably be the most memorable scene from the movie, Knightly dives into a large fountain in a sheer slip to retrieve a piece of a broken vase, only to get out of the fountain to reveal what she's got.

It doesn't help Robbie's (James McAvoy) case later in the movie when he writes an apology to Cecilia for their unfortunate encounter earlier in the day, but then also writes a second erotically-charged version in which he writes Cecilia that he wants to taste her cunt (the movie's words, not mine), which happens to be the version that he gives to Briony to give to Cecilia.

The movie flashes forward and backward constantly, giving the viewer an absolute dismal time of trying to keep up with events. On a nighttime search for the missing twins, a common event in many classic English movies, Briony witnesses a rape of a young girl, but only briefly gets a glimpse of the perpetrator. She immediately suspects Robbie whom she has seen with her sister several times in the misinterpreted moments. Hours later, Robbie returns with the missing twins looking bewildered at the lack of enthusiasm for the safe return of the young lads. He's immediately arrested and sent to prison for several years.

The movie transitions to later in life and Robbie is serving in the military trying to escape Europe during the evacuation of Dunkirk. Cecilia and Briony are both nurses, though Cecilia refuses to speak to her sister. Briony at this point has a sparking drive to deliver penance to Robbie and Cecilia realizing her mistake. Neither will have anything to do with her and she never sees them again.

The movie ends with Cecilia as an old woman talking to a reporter about her latest and final book, Atonement. She tells how her sister died during the bombing of London and Robbie died during the evacuation. So, ironically, the miserable wretched Cecilia, who wrongly accused Robbie of raping a girl and denied her sister true love, gets to live a long life while everyone else died. How wonderful.

As mentioned previously, the historical reference to the evacuation of Dunkirk sparked my interest, as did the passionate love scene between Knightly and McAvoy, as witnessed by Cecilia.

Overall, I gave this movie 3 stars. The Briony parts of the Oscar-nominated movie are clear 1 or 2 star parts, the Cecilia parts are definitely 5 star parts, so I averaged the two ratings. The movie is 2 hours long and is rated R for containing some disturbing war images, and some undisturbing sexual images.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Into the Wild

Movies based on true stories are usually good movies, though I do tend to ruin the story when I look it up on the Internet beforehand or while I'm watching the movie.

Into the Wild, not to be confused with The Wild cartoon of a couple years ago, is about a young man named Christopher McCandless played by Emile Hirsch (who will be staring as Speed Racer in the new Speed Racer movie) who graduates from college, but has a disdain for societal life. His parents are all about the money and the appearances. This is typical of most Americans. We're about as deep as a puddle.

McCandless is offered membership to the elite Phi Beta Kappa honors society, but refuses it because honors and titles are irrelevant. When he graduates from college, he gets rid of his possessions, donates the remainder of his college fund to charity, and heads west in his trusty Datsun without telling anyone. His ultimate plan is to make it to Alaska and live off of the land.

On the way he meets some strange, but interesting characters. He gets caught up with some hippies, one of whom he starts to develop strong feelings, though she is old enough to be his mother. He skips across country and ends up in South Dakota for a while where he meets Vince Vaughan. Rather than playing dodge ball, McCandless works in a grain mill until Vaughan gets arrested.

Before getting to Alaska, McCandless spends some time in the dessert near a nudist colony and he meets Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook), who, fortunately, is not a nudist. Chris and Mr. Franz become good friends with good reason. You'll have to watch the movie to find out why.

Unfortunately for their relationship, McCandless moves on and heads to Alaska. When he gets there, he finds an old abandoned school bus that was probably used by hunters. He's elated at first by the beauty of the land and being one with nature. However, reality begins to settle in and things aren't as easy as he thought they would be. I'm not sure why. Perhaps college graduates with no food or money or any outdoors training aren't qualified to live in Alaska, one of the harshest places in North America? That's just my guess.

The movie also stars William Hurt as Chris' dad, Marcia Gay Harden as his mother, a very nice looking Jena Malone as his sister and the narrator, Catherine Keener as the hippy woman (40 Year Old Virgin), and Signe Egholm Olsen, who is topless for the entire movie.

Anyway, this is a good movie. It's directed by Sean Penn, if you can believe that. The movie is long - it's 2 1/2 hours in length. However, the movie keeps you interested and the interactions that he has with people are stimulating. I give this movie 4 stars.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


One of my greatest interests as a young child was tractor trailers. I had a shiney folder for school that displayed the new 1979 Peterbuilt trucks. This was my favorite folder ever. Needless to say, Sam Peckinpah's 1978 movie hased on C.W. McCall's song Convoy was one of my favorite movies.

The movie stars Highwayman member Kris Kristofferson, who I learned dated Janis Joplin and was married to Rita Coolidge (We're All Alone). Also in the movie is Ali MacGraw, Ernest Borgnine (known to kids today as Mermaid Man from Sponge Bob Square Pants), and Burt Young, most notable as Paulie, Adrian's brother in the Rocky movies.

The movie is a classic trucker movie, though there seem to be many parallels between this movie and the 1977 Smokey and the Bandit movie, except that Convoy was not a comedy. Kristofferson plays "the Rubber Duck", which is his CB handle. He picks up MacGraw at a truckstop after a full fledged fight with the police, most notably Sheriff Lyle Wallace, the "Cottonmouth", played by Borgnine. Sheriff Wallace is a corrupt racist cop that demands cash payments for tickets and is always out to get truckers.

The rest of the movie sees the truckers racing out of Arizona to escape the law. However, the Sheriff gets the Governor and federal officials after him. There's plenty of smash-em up, crash-em up scenes. And the trucker lingo is great.

One of my favorite lines in the movie is when one of the trucks overturns after turning left on a road. The lady driving the truck, nicknamed the Black Widow, is a black woman. She gets out of the truck stomping on the ground yelling, "This piece of white shit! I knew I should have bought a black truck!"

Another great line was when Ali MacGraw was questioning the Rubber Duck about his mission. He basically said that he wasn't on a mission, just running from the law. She says that there was a mile of trucks following him. He turned and corrected her. "There not following me. I just happen to be in front."

And finally, when asked why he was called the Rubber Duck, he repsonds, "Because it rhymes with "luck." See, my daddy always told me to be just like a duck. Stay smooth on the surface and paddle like the devil underneath!"

The movie is a little under 2 hours long and is rated PG, which is deceiving because it's a 1978 PG. At the beginning of the movie, it said it was rated PG for some adult content. I figured this to mean adult situations. No. This meant lot's of cussing, though no F-bombs, lots of fighting, a nice pear of breasts in the sleeper cab, and some sexual situations.

This movie has more sentimental value for me, so my rating is probably bias. I gave this movie 4 stars. It has trucks, country music, pretty girls, and fighting. What more could I guy ask for?

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Water Horse

There have been a lot of movies lately that are aimed at children my daughter's age, which is 8. The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep is no exception.

This is a mystical movie about a boy named Angus MacMorrow (Alex Etel) who finds an egg on the rocky beaches of Scotland during World War II. He hides the egg in his father's workshop and it eventually hatches. As the creature starts to grow, Angus has a difficult time keeping him hidden. We know this creature to be the Loch Ness monster, though this creature is anything but a monster.

First his sister (Priyanka Xi) finds the creature, then the hired hand (Ben Chaplin) that his mother (Emily Watson) has taken in. They realize that this creature is special. They call him the water horse and decide they must do whatever they can to save him. The three of them agree to hide the creature and eventually decide to release him in the Loch. Meanwhile, Angus becomes even more attached to the creature and it helps him overcome his fear of the water.

Unfortunately, the British military (remember that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom) is patrolling the Loch for German U-Boats and become suspicious that something is amiss. The military detachment that's been assigned to the area eventually begins to take target practice at the Loch, which is having adverse affects on the water horse. Angus must now hurry to save him.

Like any epic movie aimed at children, this one has a happy ending. No, the military does not blow up the water horse with its cannons. The movie is mostly dark and very suspenseful. The accents are a bit thick, sometimes to the point where my 8 year old daughter had to ask me what they were saying.

The movie is 112 minutes long, that's nearly 2 hours. I let my daughter rate this movie and she gives it 4 stars. To her, this 2007 release was not as good as Bridge to Terabithia or Nancy Drew, but better than Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Unfortunately for my kids, it looks like the next release of a children's movie will be the Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspia, which will probably be in June.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd is the newest Johnny Depp movie to be released on DVD. It is the cinimatic version of the musical of the same name. Though the movie advertises itself as the on screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, the story is actually about 160 years old and has been playing in theaters for over a century. The story has no known author, though it is often attributed to Edward Lloyd or James Malcome Rymer, probably around the 1840's in Britian.

I first saw the musical Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Center Stage in Baltimore. Though Johnny Depp was not in it and it was not produced by Tim Burton, it was very dark and mysterious. It was one of the better plays that we saw over the 4-5 years that we had season tickets.

In the cinimatic debut, Tim Burton has done a good job of keeping the film dark. Most colors are filtered out leaving the film with blues and grays and the occasional red. Along with Johnny Depp, the movie stars Helena Bonham Carter, who's been in such hits as Mighty Aphrodite, Fight Club, Big Fish, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (another Burton remake), as Mrs. Lovett, Todd's lover and co-conspirator. Additionally, the movie stars Alan Rickman of Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter mystery nerd series, Timothy Spall (Enchanted & Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unforunatee Events), probably the ugliest actor around, and Sacha Baron Cohen, better known as Ali G and Borat.

The premise of the movie is that Todd's beautiful wife is stolen from him from the local judge when Todd is imprisoned on hyped up charges. Todd returns after his prison term and takes up the barber chair that he left years ago. However, he is set on extracting his revenge on unwitting visitors. His new lover, Mrs. Lovett, helps him hide his victims but butchering them and baking them into meat pies, which are the hit of the town.

Unknowingly, Todd's wife and son return to him. However, Sweeney Todd is going crazy killing everyone and does not notice who they are. Will he come to his senses before it is too late? Or will his vindication set him up for his own destruction?

I think Tim Burton did a great job with this movie. Johnny Depp, as usual, continues as a great actor and even gets to sing (it is a musical!). The movie is just under 2 hours long. I gave this movie 4 stars.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Netflix - Further Delays

Despite the note that stated they expect to send the next movie on Friday, my queue now says:

We expect to ship your next available movie by Monday.

So I returned the movie on Wednesday and I will not receive another movie until Tuesday. They advertise that you should receive a movie the next business day, I will have waited 3 business days before they send a movie. The service is getting worse and worse.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Netflix - Throttled Again

For the second week in a row, Netflix has decided that I am a power-user. A rental abuser. And a movie loser. Yes, I've received a whopping 2 movies in 8 days. That's nearly 1 per week! I'd be pissed at me, too, if I was Netflix.

I even threw in Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism , a movie that is not wait-listed. No one is watching this movie! It is sitting on a shelf, waiting for me and several other documentary nerds to request it. But no, it's not available to ship to me today. So I took it out of my queue. Let's see if they send something to me tomorrow. I have in my queue:

American Gangster Long Wait
The Mist Very Long Wait
August Rush Very Long Wait
Atonement Short Wait
Into the Wild Short Wait
My Zimbio