Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nothing But the Truth

Government conspiracies and corporate shinanegans always make for good movies. Remember Barbarians at the Gate or Thank You For Smoking?

Nothing But the Truth sort of fits that vein. The movie stars the lovely Kate Beckinsale as Rachel Armstrong, a reporter for the local D.C. newspaper who has just exposed a C.I.A. agent who recommended that the United States not invade Venezuela after an assassination attempt on the President, but the agent is the wife of a writer critical of the White House Administration. Does this all sound familiar? It should. There's a strong similarity between this movie and the Valerie Plame / Scooter Libby / Bob Novak incident during the Bush 41 Administration.

Armstrong knows that the government will probably come down hard on her, but she has no idea of the intensity of their persuit. A rocky relationship with her husband and an unfettered obligation to conceal the truth behind her source drives her to unimaginable emotional and physical pain. Additionally, her Pulitzer Prize nominated article not only exposes the government for its shinanigans, but may unintentionally ruin the lives of many involved.

Federal prosecutor Patton Dubois (Matt Dillon) goes after Armstrong and will not back down until she exposes the leak that gave her the information. Armstrong refuses to back down.

This drama had me furious and hating the federal prosecutor, getting pissed off at Armstrong's arrogant attorney Alan Burnside (Alan Alda), and sympathetic to the pain and betrayal felt by the CIA agent, Erica Van Doran (Vera Farmiga). Furthermore, throughout the movie and into the night and again this morning I kept running through the story in my mind trying to see if I could resolve the dilemna before I could remind myself that this was just a movie.

Nothing But the Truth was directed by Rod Lurie who also brought us the infuriating movie with Robert Redford, The Last Castle. Nothing But the Truth is an hour and 40 minutes long and is rated R for language, violence, and sexuality.

(--Slight Spoiler Alert--)
I was not able to figure out the movie, which means it is a good movie in my book. The answer is provided to the viewers, but not to the characters, and in retrospect, you probably could have found it.
(--End of Slight Spoiler Alert--)

I enjoyed this movie and it kept my attention throughout. I attached emotions to all of the characters, including the seemingly primodonna Rachel Armstrong. I thought the actors did a fine job with their portrayals and it made this a great movie. On an interesting side-note, I read that this movie had very limited release in the theaters before it was released onto DVD because it ran into financial trouble, probably because of the economy. Another victim of the recession, though Nothing But the Truth did not get a bailout.

I give this movie 4 stars. I would definitely watch it again.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Generally speaking a movie is targeted to a specific audience. Sometimes I fit those demographics. Sometimes I do not. For instance, I am probably not the target audience of Teletubbies - the Magic Pumpkin. Nor is my 9-year old daughter the target audience of the latest bare-breasted Kate Winslet movie.

That being said, I was a bit skeptical about Twilight, the "romantic" vampire movie. Everyone said it was an awesome book and an awesome movie. Whenever something gets hyped up that much it usually sucks. And this is the first in a series of movies, so you know they're going to leave you hanging.

The movie starts off innocently enough. A girl moves in with her father and starts a new school. On her first day of school she ends up sitting next to this pasty white emaciated boy with wall-to-wall carpeting over his eyes. They don't hit it off very well and she obviously thinks he's a freak. I never got past my first impression.

Make-up boy later returns and is friendlier than ever and from there the attraction grows. However, she eventually finds out that he's a vampire (no secret to the viewers unless you've been hiding on Facebook for a year). Now she's caught in a world where she knows too much and can't go back, but she's also in love.

One of the main problems here is that vampires like to eat people. To me this is like having a crush on a slice of pepperoni pizza. Eventually one of us is going to get eaten. Can she date a vampire, or will their love for each other be divided by their circumstances?

The movie was made with many colors filtered out so that all images are mostly white, grey, black, and blue. It's an interesting effect and appropriate for a movie about vampires and darkness and all that. Twilight stars Kristen Stewart (Into the Wild, What Just Happened?) as Bella and Robert Pattinson (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) as Edward Cullen, the mysterious vampire boyfriend. The movie was directed by Catherine Hardwicke who also directed The Nativity Story and 13.

Twilight is 122 minutes long and rated PG-13 for violence and sensuality.

Overall, the movie kept my interest, but I think it was more because people told me it was supposed to. I found the movie to be fairly predictable and the screenplay a bit too artistic. If you like this kind of movie, then you will probably enjoy Twilight. I, however, like to be forced to think about the movie and be surprised by plot twists, or just slap me in the face and make me laugh. This one did neither. I give this movie 3 stars. Not great. Not horrible. It's average.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Americanization of Emily

I love watching Turner Classic Movies. Today, April 7th, is James Garner's birthday. In his honor, they are showing a James Garner-a-thon. Today I watched The Americanization of Emily, staring Garner and Julie Andrews, best known for The Sound of Music.

The comedy is set in London during World War II, prior to the D-Day invasion. The premise is that Garner is sort of an aide-de-camp to Admiral Jessup (Melvyn Douglas). His job is to make sure that the Admiral has all of the goods, drinks, company, and back-rubs that he needs. Anything the General wants - Garner makes sure he gets it.

Upon arriving Garner meets Emily Barham, a staff member at headquarters. His flirtations with her are scoffed, though he does not end his pursuit. Over time she opens up to him, but learns that he is not what he appears on the outside. Instead, he's a coward who hates war, and is spiteful towards the arrogant and hypocritical British.

His plans to stay where it's safe get torpedoed when General Jessup goes nuts and decides that in an effort for the Navy to get more of the action in D-Day, they will make a documentary filming the invasion. The General wants the first casualty of the invasion to be a sailor and he wants Garner to be there to film it.

This movie is an adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky's play, based on the book by William Bradford Huie and directed by Arthur Hiller, not Arthur Miller. Being a big fan of James Garner and older movies, I found this black and white (talkie) movie to be very funny.

Too old to be rated, the movie is fairly innocuous, though Garner does make some sexual references that may have been taboo at the time, and we do see some girls in bras, and a naked back of a girl caught in bed with James Colburn. It probably would have been given a PG-13 rating had it been rated today.

I like this movie and gave it 4 stars. Happy Birthday, James Garner!

Imagine You and Me

If you have not guessed yet, I also have a thing for Piper Parabo. Yes, the list of ladies I like is long, but so is...the list of movies I've seen. Yes, that's it.

Imagine You and Me, the lyrics of the love song So Happy Together by The Turtles, which also happens to be my parents' wedding song, stars Piper as a British lady named Rachel who is getting married to Heck (Matthew Goode). However, during her walk down the aisle she makes eye contact with the florist who's walking out and has an instant attraction to her. There's something to be said for love at first site, though in this case it's lesbian love, not that there's anything wrong with that.

During the wedding reception, Rachel decides to meet up with the florist, who is played by Lena Headey. She finds that they have a mutual attraction and after the honeymoon decide to meet up again. While their love for each other grows, so does the suspicion from her husband. As time passes, Rachel realizes that she must make a decision - her husband or her girlfriend.

This isn't the first time Piper has played a woman with lesbian tendencies. The other movie was Lost and Delirious.

Piper did a good job with her British accent, as does Lena Headey, who actually happens to be from the Isle across the big pond. Headey is probably best known for playing Sarah Conner in the Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles.

Directed by Ol Parker, Imagine You and Me is 93 minutes long, is rated PG-13 for language and a bunch of lesbian sexuality.

There is nothing thrilling about the 2001 movie, though maybe some parts are intriguing. The ending is as I expected, but they got there using a different path than expected. Overall. not a bad movie. I give it 3 stars.

Rumor Has It

This is one of those movies that ties its story-line to another movie, sort of like how Sleepless In Seattle followed the 1957 hit An Affair To Remember staring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. In Rumor Has It, Jennifer Aniston's character Sarah Huttinger suspects that the her family is the subject of the 1967 movie The Graduate, which starred a young Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft.

Throughout her life, Sarah suspects that something's just not right. She looks like no one in her family and she acts nothing like them. Then at her sister's wedding she starts to hear rumors. She then decides to investigate those rumors and learns more than she really wanted to know, especially about her mom. And, of course, she needs to find out everything before her own wedding to Mark Ruffalo, who rolls with Buffalo.

In the process, she meets the man that her mother met before her mother got married. This seedy old guy, played by Kevin Costner, has his own secrets and is interested in making some more secrets.

The movie is a clever play on The Graduate. Having seen The Graduate makes Rumor Has It a lot more understandable, so if you plan on seeing Rumor Has It, watch The Graduate first. The acting is as you would expect from your typical romantic comedy. And, being labeled a romantic comedy, it has to turn out as expected, right?

The movie is directed by Rob Reiner and you'll be happy to know that there are no left-wing punches at the right in the movie. The movie also stars Shirley MacClaine, whose brother is so vain, as Sarah's grandmother and Kathy Bates as one of Sarah's mother's friends.

As far as romantic comedies go, this one is okay. There is some nonconformist sexual situations and a drug use giving the movie a PG-13 rating, the standard for romantic comedies.

You won't lose much by missing this movie, but if you have some time to burn, this one's not too bad. I give this movie 3 stars.
My Zimbio