Friday, November 27, 2009

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

I watched this movie back-to-back with The Proposal, so it's sort of like a visual romantic comedy orgy.

Ghosts of Girlfriends past stars Matthew McConaughey's handsome face and quick and funny one-liners, but not his acting ability, in addition to Jennifer Garner, and Michael Douglas.

McConaughey plays Conner Mead, the orphaned nephew of Douglas (Uncle Wayne) who grows up having to raise his little brother Paul (Breckin Meyer). While growing up, Conner has a budding relationship with Jenny Perotti (Garner). However, after spending some time with Uncle Wayne, Conner learns that you need to treat girls like dirt and rack up as many as you can. This will make you happy. Or so he thought.

Conner Mead returns home for his brother's wedding and is reunited with Jenny. The old flame heats up, but Conner plays it cool and smooth. Unfortuantely, Conner being Conner, starts ruining the rehearsal evening and possibly threating the wedding. That night, however, like the Christmas Carol, Conner is visited by the ghosts of girlfriends past, the ghost of girlfriends present, and the ghost of the future. Scaring the crap out of him, he vows to make up for his wrongs.

This romantic comedy, also predictable, has some funny twists that made me laugh, but for the most part is just McConaughey running around trying to be cool, but also acting like a fool. Meanwhile, Jennifer Garner is still a bit of a pretensious woman who wants to find the best in people. I still find her attractive, but not as much as in previous movies.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past was directed by Mark Waters who also directed The Spiderwick Chronicles and Just Like Heaven (a Reese Witherspoon movie!). The movie is an hour and 40 minutes long, another requirement of romantic comedies. It is rated PG-13 for sexual content, language, and some drug content, all requirements. So it appears that this movie has met the recipe requirements for a romantic comedy, so it passes.

I thought this movie was just average. Nothing thrilling, nothing too funny, no man-women interactions that gave me that tingle. So I'm just gonig to have to give this movie the standard 3 stars.

The Proposal

The Proposal is a fairly new release to DVD with a handful of well-known actors, including Ryan Reynolds, who starred in several movies in the past 2 years (including X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Paper Man, Adventureland, and Definitely, Maybe), Sanda Bullock, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, and Craig T. Nelson, better known as Coach.

Reynolds plays Andrew Paxton, an aspiring writer who works for dragon lady bitch Margaret Tate (Bullock) at a prestigious editing firm. Upon learning that her Canadian visa is expiring and she's threatened with deportation, she informs her company that Andrew and she are getting married, much to Andrew's chagrin. Fearing losing his position and being black-listed in the industry if he fails to comply with her demands, he succumbs to her threat. Unfortunately, the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) is on to her and they are out to prove that the wedding is a fraud.

In an effort to learn more about each other and pad their story, they head to Alaska for Andrew's grandmother's (White) 90th birthday. However, as Bullock, who grew up without a family, learns more about Andrew and his wonderful family, she starts reflecting upon herself and perhaps sees that some change is in order.

As with any romantic comedy, predictability is key. So if 2 people are forced to fake a marriage in order for one of them to stay in the country, what do you suspect will happen to the real relationship between them? Of course!

The Proposal was directed by Anne Fletcher who also directed 27 Dresses. The movie is an hour and 40 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for sexual content, language, and nudity, which is really just Sandra Bullock running around with one hand over her genitals and another across her breasts. So even though she's technically naked, you ain't gonna see anything. But I'm sure that you're not going to complain either.

I have always been a fan of Bullock and I think she looks pretty darn good for 45 years old. And Ryan Reynolds seems like a pretty cool dude. No, it's not a man crush. This comedy will make you laugh and is generally an enjoyable movie. I'll give it 4 stars.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This movie sucks. Don't watch it.

Oh, did you want more of a review? Okay.

Having watched Borat, which I thought was absolutely hysterical, I knew I had to watch Bruno. I thought I knew what the premise was - a homosexual fashion reporter coming to America to try and make a name for himself. He would use his overzealous homosexuality in awkward situations with people that you would expect not to be tolerant of homosexuals. Fair enough. I know what I'm getting. Sacha Baron Cohen is still funny. I can get past the other, right? Not quite.

Bruno is a homo-erotic sexcapade whose only objective is in-your-face homosexuality with intentions of crossing the barriers of decency to the point that people (the ones watching the movie) are uncomfortable. Sure, there were a couple of funny parts. But watching him do the windmill with his penis, simulated oral sex, and ram-rodding, are just not funny. And when it seems to be persistant and pervasive, it is just irritating.

A friend forwarded a review to me written by a gay person that said that even open-minded people would react uncomfortably and that the movie in general is just in bad taste. Another friend said that she was sorry she hadn't given me that feedback either. She saw it earlier and said it was totally not worth watching.

So, for what it's worth, Bruno is rated R (though that was generous) for pervasive and crude homosexual content, graphic penises, and language. Bruno is 82 minutes too long, and has cameos by Ron Paul, Paula Abdul, Elton John, Bono, Harrison Ford, and Richard Bey.

Some reviews have stated that this movie is not appropriate for kids. I say if you let your children watch this movie then Child Protective Services should storm your house and take immediate custody of your children and have you arrested.

My rating system is 1 through 5, so I cannot legitimately give it zero stars, so Bruno earns the dubious 1 star award.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Netflix Delay

Another delay. I dropped My Life In Ruins in the mailbox yesterday, but Netflix has no idea where it is today. Perhaps I should find another mailbox.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Taking of Pelham 123

This is a remake of the 1974 film that had a decent cast including Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Dick O'Neill, and future Seinfeld show husband and wife Jerry Stiller and Doris Roberts.

The modern version of the movie, that includes a lot more cussing, includes Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Luis Guzmán, John Tuturro, and James Gandolfini, who goes from the head of the mob in The Sopranos to the mayor of the city.

In the 35 years that have passed since the original, the plot has changed very little. A New York subway train is hijacked (the Pelham 123) and stopped in a tunnel. Through some mechanical wizardry, they are able to take over the communications and begin making their demands to dispatch.

Recently demoted to train dispatcher because of a bribery investigation, Zachary Garber (Denzel) initially makes contact with criminal mastermind Ryder (Travolta). Despite the disparity of their roles in the current situation, they form a bond because they know what it's like when the man comes down on them.

This exciting thriller is full of action and hostile dialog, which means a lot of cussing, much like you would expect from a movie with hostages and a crazed man with guns. The Taking of Pelham 123 was directed by Tony Scott, a well known director who has other thrillers on his resume such as Spy Game, Enemy of the State, Crimson Tide (another Denzel movie), and Top Gun.

The movie is an hour and 40 minutes long and is rated R for non-stop F bombs and violence, which includes shooting and intense car accidents.

I enjoyed watching this movie and having seen the original version recently, enjoyed looking for the parallels between the two movies. There are some differences, but I think Tony Scott did a good job of not deviating too much from the original to make this an entirely different movie.

I give The Taking of Pelham 123 1-2-3-4 stars.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Answer Man

An independent film (Indie Film) originally known as Arlen Faber, The Answer Man stars Jeff Daniels as, hark, Arlen Faber, an author of spiritually-related inspirational books.

Arlen is an intelligent man who has answers to a lot of simple questions. Logic is his ally, though he plays it off as inspiration from God. A pathological jerk, Faber tries to hide from society as he suffers from his own psychoses. However, circumstances, such as a bad back, force him to interact with society and that is when he runs into a single mother (Lauren Graham - Flash of Genius, Because I Said So, & Evan Almighty) who really doesn't give a crap about who he is and he finds that moderately intriguing.

Also staring in the movie is Kris (Lou Taylor Pucci) who is a recovering alcoholic who lives with an alcoholic. Kris owns a bookstore that buys back books and Faber likes to return all of his books for money. Unfortunately for Kris, times are tough and Faber is the thorn in his side at the worst possible time.

Now that Faber is falling in love, he starts to loosen up a bit and without this veil of ambivalence towards society, starts to show some compassion.

This romantic drama is rated R for language and is 97 minutes long. Directed by John Hindman, the movie also stars a couple of really cute girls whom I would not mind seeing again - Olivia Thirlby and Kat Dennings.

I liked this movie a lot and give it 4 stars. I got several good laughs from it. And if you are a weeper, this movie will probably move you to tears.

After having reviewed the movie, I checked Jeff Daniels' movies and realized that I have rated his movies at least 4 stars 6 times. That's pretty darn good.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How Green Was My Valley

One of things that I am trying to do with my movie watching is pick off the winners of the Best Picture. How Green Was My Valley was the winner in 1941. The movie is based on the book by Richard Llewellyn about life in the mining towns in Wales during the late 1800's or early 1900's from the perspective of young Huw Morgan, though now told through his eyes as an older man.

The movie stars Walter Pidgeon (who has a magnificant voice) as Mr. Gruffydd, a very beautiful Maureen O'Hara as Angharad Morgan, Huw's sister, and Roddy McDowall as Huw Morgan. Roddy is probably better known as one of the apes from Planet of the Apes during its heyday in the 1960's.

Life in the mining town was peaceful, but soon turned sour when talks of unionization started and rumors of communist ties began to be associated with different residents. Huw, appearing to have a higher intelligence than most of his townsfolk, is sent off to another town to attend school, but soon learns of the prejudices and stereostypes that afflict his town. He quickly learns to fight to protect himself and his valley's honor.

Meanwhile, rumors spread of an unholy relationship between Mr. Gruffydd, the new preacher in town, and Angharad. Though not true, the rumors destroy the reputation of the good preacher and he ends up leaving the Church and Angharad's reputation is likewise soiled.

Throughout the movie tragedies strike, mostly at the mine and the Morgan's begin to lose the members of their family and Huw has little interest in staying in the Valley. Eventually, everything good that once represented the town has disintegrated. What was once a green valley is now one covered in the gray and black slag of the mine, and the happy smiling faces of the singing townsfolk are now the quiet saddened & ruined faces of a people whose spirits have been destroyed.

How Green Was My Valley won numerous awards including Best Picture for Producer Darryl F. Zanuck, Best Director for John Ford, Best Supporting Actor for Donald Crisp for his role as Gwilym Morgan, the patriarch of the family, Best Black-and-White Cinematography, and Best Black-and-White Art Direction-Interior Decoration.

The Award for Best Director was significant for John Ford as it was the third year in a row that he had won the award, the others being Stagecoach in 1939, and The Grapes of Wrath in 1940.

The movie is just under 2 hours long and was produced prior to movie ratings, though there is nothing that would garner it anything other than a G-rating except that it wouldn't draw an audience unless it had a PG rating.

I read the book several years ago and admit that it is one of my favorite books. Given that, I criticize the movie for what it is missing, though if it did icnlude everything in the book the movie would be about 6 hours long. I therefore give How Green Was My Valley a hesitant 3 stars.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Whatever Works

I've never been much of a fan of Larry David. Sure, the stuff he wrote for Seinfeld was hysterical. But Seinfeld played the part. When Larry David does the same thing, he's just annoying, gassy, egotistical, arrogant, and whiny. Have you ever seen Curb Your Enthusiasm? Do you really think that's funny?

Whatever Works is David's newest creation. He's not one for movies, but he jumped that barrier, probably in an unapologetic attempt to get some more money. Heck, be basically said so in the movie. He's pretending to talk to the audience in the beginning and he narrates the picture throughout.

David plays Boris Yellnikoff who does a lot of yelling. He eats at the deli everyday and chats with his friends. He doesn't appear to have a job - other than complaining about everything. One night a young vagrant named Melodie St. Ann Celestine (Evan Rachel Wood - The Wrestler) pleads for some food as she hasn't eaten all day. Being young and somewhat attractive, Boris takes her in for just a few minutes so that she can get something to eat. She ends up staying for months.

Boris slowly becomes more attracted to this Southern belle from a strongly religious Christian family. Since Boris is a self-proclaimed genius, he is able to show her the way by complaining about everything and pointing out everything that is wrong - mostly with religion.

Eventually Melodie's mother comes looking for her, but fortunately Boris is there to corrupt her and separate her from her false religious beliefs and into turning into a hedonist. Melodie's mother, on the other hand, has different plans for her.

All plans come to fruition when Melodie's father (Ed Begley Jr.) shows up. In the name of humor, all religious beliefs are bastardized and everyone is happy.

The movie was written and directed by Woody Allen. I found many of the scenes to be funny and even laughed at loud at a couple, something that doesn't happen too often. However, I was a bit dismayed at the constant bashing of religion. Yes, I get that it was the point of the movie. I think Rachel Evan Wood is cute and is a likable character and easy on the eyes, but the fake Southern accent sort of wore on me.

Whatever Works is rated PG-13 for language, extensive complaining by an overly sensitive non-practicing Jew, sexual situations, and a room full of pictures of a naked woman. The movie is just under 90 minutes long, which legally is about as much Larry David as the Federal Trade Commission allows in one sitting.

Also staring in the movie were Patricia Clarkson as Melodie's mother, Christian Johnston, Jessica Hecht, Adam Brooks, Lyle Kanouse, and Michael McKean.

If you are a religious person, I would recommend avoiding this movie. If you don't mind a few low blows at your beliefs and can appreciate the movie for its pathetic humor (this isn't a bash at the movie. Boris is intentionally a pathetic character.), then you may enjoy this movie. I'll give Whatever Works the low-end of the 3 stars.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Netflix Delay

Netflix did not receive the movie I put in the mail yesterday. Is election day not a postal delivery day? Or am I just getting my monthly stiff since I got several new releases in a row?

Clash of the Titans

Having learned that there is a remake underway of Clash of the Titans, I thought it would be a good time to watch the original. I recall this movie from my childhood. During one week in 1981 my brother and sister spent the week at my grandparents' house. I could not go as I had baseball games. However, since my mom worked at night, on the nights that I didn't have a game my dad took me to the movies. We saw The Empire Strikes Back, The Great Muppet Caper, and Clash of the Titans. It was great bonding with my dad at the movies during that week.

The original Clash of the Titans stars Harry Hamlin as Perseus, son of Zeus. Hamlin went onto greater fame with L.A. Law. Also starring were Sir Lawrence Olivier as Zeus, Judi Bowker as Andromeda, Burgess Meredith as Ammon the playwrite, Claire Bloom as Hera, and Ursula Andress (of James Bond fame) as Aphrodite.

Perseus, heir to the kingdom of Argos, is moved by the goddess Thetis during a dream to Joppa where he is to marry Andromeda, but only after he can answer a riddle. If he fails, he will be burned at the stake.

Unfortunately for Joppa, Queen Cassiepeia's transgression of comparing her daughter's beauty to be superior to that of Thetis while in the temple dedicated to Thetis causes the status to come to life and declare that her daughter must be sacrificed to the Kraken, one of the titans. Andromeda must be unknown to a man (i.e. a virgin). If the sacrifice is not carried out, then the Kraken will destroy Joppa. It is now Persues' job to save Joppa.

Perseus' journey takes him to the far reaches of land, first to a visit to the Stygian witches, then across the River Styx to the isle of the dead to face Medusa, and several battles with Calibos, the son of Thetis and former fiancé of Andromeda. Calibos was transformed into a monster for his transgressions against Zeus, including the murder of the herd of flying horses except for Pegasus. To help him along his journey the gods give Perseus several gifts, including the helmet that makes him invisible, the sword that can cut stone, a talking shield that gives advice, sort of like a talking 8 ball, and Bubo, the magical owl.

This 1981 mythology classic is very dated by today's standards. It features double-screening and stop-motion special effects. However, when I was 9 years old, it was quite scary. The movie is rated PG for violence and nudity. And by nudity there was more than I remembered as a child, probably because naked women are less alluring to a 9 year old than a 37 year old. Had this movie been made today it would most likely be rated PG-13.

Clash of the Titans gets a boost because of my fondness for the movie as a child. It also gets a boost from the naked butts of Judi Bowker, and Vida Taylor. I sentimentally give Clash of the Titans 4 stars. Remember to put the remake in your Netflix queue. It stars Liam Neeson, Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes, and Alexa Davalos. It looks quite good.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I'm not sure if this movie is a fantasy for young men or older women. All I know is that while I was watching the movie I kept thinking that my friend Twinkie would L.O.V.E. this movie. This morning I sent her an email asking if she had seen the movie, she had not, but she replied that she just watched the trailer and she totally agrees that she would love this movie.

Chéri stars Michelle Pfeiffer, the still-attractive 51 year old starlet of Scarface, Grease 2, Dangerous Minds, and Batman Returns fame. Set in the 1920's in France, no longer the 1950's of Los Angeles, and no longer the young Stephanie Zinone of the Pink Ladies, she is now Lea de Lonval, the madame of gentlemen.

Across town, Madame Peloux, played by Kathy Bates, is the mother of Chéri (Rupert Friend), a dandy of a young man with absolutely no ambition in life. Madame Pelous wants de Lonval to take him under her wings, per se, to help him to....become a man, per se.

The arrangement is to last for several weeks, after which time Chéri would be ready to find his bride. However, Chéri ends up spending many years, not weeks, with de Lonval to the point that they are like husband and wife. When time comes for Chéri to leave, de Lonval realizes that she is no longer his teacher, but finds herself in love with him.

Also staring in the movie is Felicity Jones as Edmee, Chéri's bride-to-be, who is quite easy on the eyes.

The movie has a lot of almost nudity, a little real nudity (Chéri), a lot of sex, though never more than a butt, thus giving the movie its R Rating.

Directed by Stephen Frears who is known for The Queen, High Fidelity, and Dangerous liaisons, Chéri is 93 minutes long.

Chéri is just an average movie for me. Though I found the ending a bit humorous, I did think it was a quick out. However, if you are a chick and you like romantic dramas bordering on comedies, you surely would enjoy this movie. If you are into action heroes, explosions, and wild nudity, this ain't your movie. Chéri gets 3 stars from me.
My Zimbio