Saturday, November 19, 2011

X-Men First Class

I have not seen any of the other X-Men movies, except for the Wolverine movie, which I think is a little different anyway, so I think I come into this movie sort of like someone would come into Star Wars Phantom Menace without seeing A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. I have no idea what the other movies are about.

I expected X-Men First Class to be like the wave of other super hero movies that have been in the theaters the past 5-10 years. And in many ways it is. Lots of computer-animated graphics. Lots of special sound effects. Unrealistic cinematic action. But this movie has something that the other movies didn't have - Kevin Bacon.

X-Men: First Class takes viewers back to World War II when the first mutants were discovered by evil Nazi scientists. Now they, the mutants, are older and various groups of mutants are discovering each other and banning together. Also in the mix are the bad mutants that are ready to take over the world.

Now set in the early 1960's with the Cuban Missile Crisis looming, the bad X-Men plan to use this to their advantage. Their weapons are deception, fear, and intimidation. Or were those the weapons of the Spanish Inquisition?

Also starring in this movie are James McAvoy as Dr. Charles Xavier, the chief of the good X-Men, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, January Jones as Emma Frost, Zoë Kravitz as Angel Salvadore, and Oliver Platt as "Man in Black Suit". I could list another dozen more of the actors playing super heroes. But I'm not going to.

There was one glaring flaw in the battle scene with the computer animated graphics. Any Navy man would probably notice it. Other keen or trained eyes may catch it, too.

X-Men: First Class is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, language, some sexuality, an some partial nudity. Apparently naked aliens counts as nudity now. Maybe only if she has breasts. Blue ones.

Overall, I was impressed with X-Men: First Class. I didn't expect much from the movie, but it was actually not that bad. So if you like or can tolerate science fiction movies, I think you'll like this movie. I give X-Men: First Class 3.6 stars.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hanna

Hanna is a film about a young girl named Hanna (Saoirse Ronan - who I think makes a great young Cate Blanchett) who has been raised in solitude, but trained for combat and self-defense. But why? Her father, Erik Heller (Eric Bana), has been training her his whole life to be a multilingual fighter. But why? What Hanna does not know is that Erik has a secret and the CIA, and more importantly, agent Marissa Wiegle (Cate Blanchett) wants him and Hanna dead.

When Hanna is ready to face the world, she flips a switch indicating to the CIA of Erik's presence. Hanna is soon captured, but not for long. The CIA and Marissa learn that Hanna is fully trained and will be difficult to stop.

The rest of the movie depicts Marissa chasing Hanna and Hanna beating up people, while befriending a family on a vacation in the desert Southwest.

I think I got sort of lost with the movie. I understand why Hanna was running, but what was she running to, other than to kill Marissa before she kills her? I understand the secret, so I guess exposing the secret will destroy Marissa's career, so is that basically it? Is this movie too cerebra for me?

I'll admit that the action was pretty cool and persistent, though the plot was a bit too science fiction to be believable.

Hanna is Rated R for violence, a bit of language, and some sexual situations. The movie was directed by Joe Wright, who also directed Atonement (another Saoirse Ronan movie), and Pride and Prejudice (of the most recent remake). He's currently working on Anna Karenina, which I think will be 200 hours long.

Also starring in the movie are Jessica Barden as Hanna friend, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, and Jason Flemying, mostly actors I do not know.

Overall, I thought that the movie was decent. I just wish that I wasn't so confused at the end. Sometimes I just need someone to explain things to me at the end. I give Hanna and her blond eyebrows 3.4 stars.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Quiet Man

I've never been a big fan of John Wayne. I think that's mostly because he did westerns and I don't really care for westerns. However, he did make a few movies where he didn't wear a cowboy hat. The Quiet Man was one of them.

Many actors have a counterpart of the opposite sex that often play opposite them in many movies. There's Bogey and Bacall, Tracey and Hepburn, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. John Wayne's Katharine Hepburn is Maureen O'Hara. Her most popular movie was probably Miracle on 34th Street. Other big titles were Alfred Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, How Green Was My Valley, and the original The Parent Trap.

In The Quiet Man, Wayne is an Irishman, Sean Thornton, returning to Ireland after living most of his life in America, to reclaim his family's property. Neighboring property owner Red Danaher (Victor McLaglen) wants the property, but Sean outbids him. Meanwhile, Sean falls in love with Red's sister Mary Kate (O'Hara), but Red refuses to allow him to marry her.

Sean, a former boxer, eventually wins approval, but as Sean is unaccustomed to the pride of the Irish and their customs, he has a difficult time appreciating what is important to others, which strains his marriage. He eventually loses respect from many, in addition to losing Mary Kate, and must fight to win her and everyone's respect back.

The best line of the movie is when someone asks Sean Thorton where he lived in America. He said he lived in Pittsburgh, if you can call that living. Hysterical!

The movie was filmed in color, but not by a high quality color film, so by today's standards it looks pretty bad. I initially thought it was a colorized black and white movie. The movie was mostly filmed in Ireland, home to many of the actors, including supporting actor Barry Fitzgerald.

The Quiet Man is 2 hours and ten minutes long. The movie was made in 1952 and directed by the famous John Ford, often considered the best director of all time. In fact, he won an Oscar for Best Director in The Quiet Man. The movie also won an Academy Award for Best Cinemotography. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Victor McLaglen), Best Art Direction, Best Sound, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

I found the movie to be a bit long and without a clear direction. As acclaimed as the movie was, I only thought it to be moderately good. I did, however, enjoy the culturally appropriate music. And I always enjoy Barry Fitzgerald, especially when he's been a wee bit to the bottle.

I give The Quiet Man an even 3 stars.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

When I speak of William Holden being the lead man of his era, I can say that Matt Damon is the lead man of his era. At only 41 years old, Damon continues to put out movies year after year that capture your imagination or your attention, regardless of its material. And he can also successfully slide over to television (Liz Lemon's boyfriend on 30 Rock).

The Adjustment Bureau is Damon's newest movie to be released on DVD (remember I rarely go to the movie theater. Too expensive and people just won't shut the funk up!)

In this movie, Damon is a young Congressman David Norris running for the U.S. Senate. While reflecting upon the day and mentally preparing for his speech, Norris runs into a young lady named Elise (Emily Blunt) and instantly falls in love. Norris' speach is considered a dramatic success, though he loses the election after some frivilous behavior is exposed.

All the while, the audience watches as these men in hats seem to be following him around. Several years later, Harry (Anthony Mackie), one of these hatted men, is instructed to make Norris spill his coffee so that he misses the bus. Harry falls asleep, Norris makes the bus and again runs into Elise. Then he runs into men in his office that seem to be lobotomizing his coworkers. After an unsuccessful flight attempt, Norris is detained and told that the hatted men are from the Adjustment Bureau, men instructed to keep certain people's fate in line. Norris, not wanting to be tied to a predetermined fate which he disagrees with, spends the rest of the movie trying to outrun and mislead the hatted men.

The Adjustment Bureau is based on the romantic science fiction thriller book The Adjustment Team by Philip K. Dick. This movie was captivating to me. I only intended on watching half of it one night and the other half the following night. Instead I found myself watching it through to 11:30pm, which is late for me. I suffered for it the next day at work.

In addition to Damon and Blunt, the movie also stars John Slattery from Mad Men, Anthony Ruivivar, who you may recognize from Third Watch, Michael Kelly, an absolute knock-off for Elliot "Spitz or Swallows" Spitzer, the disgraced former governor of New York. Oh, and left-wing liberal fake news comedian John Stewart's in it, too.

The Adjustment Bureau is an hour and 40 minutes long and Rated R for some strong language, violence, and some minor sexuality.

I really enjoyed The Adjustment Bureau and I think you will, too. You do not have to be a science fiction fan to appreciate this movie. There's romance, action, drama....something for everyone. I'll give The Adjustment Bureau 4.2 stars. Check it out.

The Gallant Hours

I love watching war movies. Mostly movies from World War II. I wish there were more movies about the American Revolution and the Civil War, but there are not. From a cinematic perspective, it's good that World War II occurred when it did because film photography was finally advanced enough to get great footage of the actual war, and to recreate many of the battles that had occurred only months or years prior.

The Gallant Hours is a World War II movie about Admiral "Bull" Halsey. I think the most significant observation of this movie is that James Cagney looks remarkably similar to the actual person he portrayed in the movie. I wonder if the two men ever met. (I just looked it up and they did meet on the set of the movie!)

The movie starts off with Halsey getting ready to retire from the Navy, then goes into a reflection of his years as an Admiral in the Pacific Fleet. The film highlights a critical era in the War in the Pacific as the United States tries to stave off the Japanese in the Philippines.

Counter to the story of Admiral Halsey is the story of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto. What I found interesting is that the dialog in those scenes was in Japanese with no subtitles. The movie is narrated by Robert Montgomery (close friend of Cagney and father of Samantha from Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery). During the Japanese dialog, Montgomery only provides what I assume to be cursory narration.

The Gallant Hours, which was made in 1960, is just under 2 hours long. It was made in black and white. Also starring in the movie are Dennis Weaver (McCloud and Gunsmoke), Les Tremayne, Richard Burton, and Raymond Bailey, whom you may remember as Mr. Drysdale from the Beverly Hillbillies.

The Gallant Hours is a great World War II-era movie, though the film depicts no battle scenes. I read that the movie was very accurate except for a few minor details. Cagney and The Gallant Hours were good enough for me to give them the coveted 5 stars. This is a great movie to watch for Veteran's Day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Union Station

William Holden is one of my favorite actors of all time. I really didn't know anything about him until I was watching an old rerun of Magnum P.I. and Thomas Magnum said that William Holden was one of his favorite actors and his favorite movie was Stalag 17. I then got Stalag 17 from the library and loved it. I then got other Holden movies such as Sunset Boulevard and Sabrina and decided that Thomas Magnum was right - this guy is a great actor. Since then I've seen about 20 or more of his movies. And this is one of them.

In this classic crime drama, Union Station starts with a train ride where a young lady (Nancy Olson, who also starred in Sunset Boulevard) notices two suspicious characters getting on the train that she is riding, then notices one of them has a gun. She reports the issue to one of the conductors, but gets little empathy. Begrudgingly, the issue is reported and Lt. William Calhoun of the train police is brought in to investigate. Once the police get hot on the trail, they realize that another young lady may have been kidnapped and it becomes a cat and mouse chase.

Made in 1950, Union Station is a classic film noir. These are the types of movies your parents grew up on. I'm acting more like my parent's age than my own - I really liked this movie.

The movie also stars the famous Irish character actor Barry Fitzgerald as Inspector Donnelly, whom you may recognize from The Quiet Man and Going My Way. Others include Jan Sterling and Parley Baer, probably best known as the voice of Ernie Keebler of the cookie world.

Union Station has a decent plot, though there are no dramatic plot twists or spans of anxious tension (by today's standards). However, for being a classic crima drama, Union Station fills that niche and fills it well. Holden, as always, is strong, yet romantic.

I give Union Station 4.4 stars.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Casbah

Since we dropped the Netflix plan that delivers movies to your home, I have been watching a lot of older movies, since that is mostly what Netflix offers as movies.

This past week I watched a movie that I put in my queue that has Peter Lorre, whom you would recognize from Bugs Bunny cartoons if you didn't know him as the actor himself. The movie also has Yvonne DeCarlo in it, whom you will remember as Lillith from The Munsters. I have never considered her to be an attractive actress. After all, she was married to Herman Munster and she was more of mistress of the dark. However, in Casbah, as a young woman and not in her goulish costume - she's actually very beautiful.

The movie plot is simple. Algiers is full of thieves and Pepe Le Moko (actor\singer Tony Martin) decides to hide amongst the other thieves. While hiding out he falls in love with French tourist named Gaby (Swedish actress Märta Torén). When his ex-lover Inez (Yvonne DeCarlo) learns of his desire, she decides to work with police to help get him captured. Now Pepe must decide whether to hide or try to flee with his new French love.

Casbah was made in 1948 and directed by John Berry, one of the directors blacklisted during McCarthism for being named as a Communist. The movie was 93 minutes long and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Also starring in the movie are Austrian Hugo Hoss and Thomas Gomez, who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Ride the Pink Horse.

Too old to be rated, but certainly tame enough for a PG rating, I only found Cashab moderately entertaining. As I mentioned I enjoyed looking at a young Yvonne DeCarlo, but the movie is considered a musical, though I don't think there are really that many songs. As far as older movies goes, I'll give this an average 3 stars.

Does this woman look like Lillith Munster????

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Best Laid Plans

Remember my mission to see all of Reese's movies? Well, here's another one I just saw.

When former college friend Bryce (Josh Brolin) shows up, he's treated to an evening of drinking with his old college buddy Nick (Alessandro Nivola), and some sexy romance with a girl he meets (Reese Witherspoon). However, after he wakes up and doesn't remember the evening, things start going horribly wrong. The movie then unfolds into an intricate web of deception, conspiracy, and double-crossing. Will Nick be able to help Bryce get out of this mess? Any more information than this may spoil the plot.

Best Laid Plans is Rated R for violence, adult themes, nudity (not Reese), language, and drug abuse. This psychological thriller from 1999 was directed by Mike Barker, who's best known for American Dad, and is a whopping 93 minutes long.

Best Laid Plans had a lot of potential. The plot is really not that bad - up until the end. When I got to the end, I was so disappointed that I was mad at the movie. "Are you kidding me?" I shouted. I understand that it is difficult to create a plot-twisting dramatic ending, but this ending seems like it was written by a high school drama team 10 minutes before class. 'Hey, we wrote this great movie, but the story is due at 11:30. How should we end it?'

As I stated before, if you like ole Reese, then you would certainly tolerate, if not enjoy, this movie right up until the end. But you can certainly do better than this movie. I give Best Plaid Plans 2.5 stars. Boooooooo.....

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fear

I may have mentioned before that one of my objectives is to watch all of Reese Witherspoon's movies. When I came to the realization that I liked her and looked her library of movies, there really aren't that many big hits. Sweat Home Alabama and Walk the Line come to mind. Both are a couple of my all-time favorite movies.

So thus began my mission to watch all of her movies. I've now seen her ealiest movies that she made as a child (The Man in the Moon (actually, this one was pretty good), Wildflower, Twilight (which I think is the only movie in which she gets naked), and Pleasantville).

This week I watched Fear. In Fear she plays a high school girl (she's actually 20 years old when she plays this role). She's a bit of a party girl and when her parent's decide to leave her home for the weekend, she uses the opportunity to bring home a boy. Little does she know that this boy, Dave (Mark Wahlberg) is a raging lunatic. But as any guy who's been to high school can tell you, the pretty girls always go for the crazy, mean, and stupid guys. What's the attraction???

Eventually, David moves into the family relationship and Nicole's father Steven (William Paterson) starts to question this guy. He's seems awfully chummy with his wife Laura (Amy Brenneman). Nicole starts to realize that David is not who she thinks he is when she sees him with her friend Margo (Alyssa Milano - remember when she was cute? Now she's just kind of weird).

When the family decides that it's time for David to go, David does not go quietly.

Fear is rated R for violence, sexuality, language and unemotional acting. The movie is 96 minutes long.

I say unemotional, because when your life is on the line, or you think something terrible is going to happen, your reaction isn't going to be, "Hmmm....what do we do?" It's going to be a blood-curdling scream. And it's not like the people in the movie were able to contain their emotion. They just lacked it.

The movie's only redeeming quality was the roller coaster scene. You could probably lift that off of the Internet. You'll never think of a roller coaster the same way. And did I mention that she's in a bikini in several scenes???

I did accomplish one objective - I watched another Reese Witherspoon movie. What I did not accomplish was watching a good movie. I can only give Fear 2.3 stars. It really isn't worth watching this movie unless you're a big Witherspoon fan.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Your Highness

If you like filth, foul language, inappropriate and pervasive sexual, masturbatorial, and homo-erotica dialog, you will LOVE this movie. If you don't like those kinds of things, then run away and lock yourself in a room with The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews is your friend.

Your Highness is a middle ages comedy about a young Princess Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel - who's making her rounds on gossip news, of which I could care less) who is kidnapped prior to her wedding to the young brave and worthy Prince Fabious (James Franco). His not-so-worthy overweight and unambitious brother Thadeos (Danny McBride) begrudgingly agrees to go on a mission to rescue his bride and return to the castle.

The two brothers then cross the land and seek knowledge from perverted puppets demanding sexual favors, get attacked by naked women threatening to kill them, and cross paths with the lovely and worthy warrioress, Isabell (Natalie Portman).

This movie is zany. This movie is gross. This movie is hysterical if you can tolerate it.

Directed by David Gordon Green, Your Highness is Rated R, but the unrated version would definitely be XXX. There's language, nudity, pervasive sexual references and innuendo, language, violence, and language.

The movie also stars Charles Dance as King Tallious, which I think is a reference to a penis (tally-whacker), Toby Jones as Julie the peasant helper, and Justin Therox as Leezer.

I'm not real sure how to rate this movie. With most of my friends, this movie would not warrant a discussion. In fact, it may tarnish my reputation to admit that I found parts of it funny. I might be labeled and banned for running for a political office. But to my perverted sexually-twisted friends, they'll like this movie. I'll give it an even-keeled 3 stars.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Win Win

When one thinks of Paul Giamatti, one instantly thinks of John Adams, the wildly successful mini-series on HBO, based on the book by David McCullough. Giamatti doesn't just look like John Adams, he IS John Adams.

Fast forward 200 years, John Adams stars in this comedy drama about a lawyer in New Jersey who's lawyerly life is not living up to what he had hoped it to be for him and his wife Jackie (Amy Ryan). He finds himself taking somewhat advantage of an older gentleman named Leo (Burt Young - Adrian's brother from Rocky) by becoming his guardian, then dumping him off in an assisted living facility and collecting the monthly cash. Then out of nowhere, Leo's grandson shows up to live with Leo.

Having nowhere to go for a few days until things can get settled, John Adams takes in Leo's teenage grandson Kyle (Alex Shaffer), a child of few words. Trying to keep him busy, President Adams offers to take him to his moonlighting job, a high school where he is the wrestling coach. Kyle asks to wrestle with the team and the other coaches, Vigman (Jeffrey Tambor 0f Arrested Development), and Terry (Bobby Cannavale) realize they have a wrestling progeny on their hands.

But just as things are starting to look up for this wayward child, his drug-addicted and abusive mother Cindy (Melanie Lynskey) shows up to take him back with her to Ohio, and Kyle has no intentions of going back.

Directed by Thomas McCarthy, Win Win is rated R for language, and there really wasn't that much of it. And it wasn't used in vain like most movies. The movie is an hour and 40 minutes long.

I liked Win Win. My wife watched this one with me, which is a novelty in itself. She said it was just okay and that the story line was a little slow. I'll give her that. But Win Win is one of those movies that gives you hope that good things can happen. And though not ragingly funny, the movie does have its moments.

I'll give Win Win 3.9 stars.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Unfaithfully Yours

I haven't reviewed an old black and white movie lately. So here you go. A relatively obscure one. Most people have heard of Casablanca and Gone With the Wind, but what about Unfaithfully Yours?

Unfaithfully Yours stars Rex Harrison as Sir Alfred De Carter, a world famous symphony conductor. After he returns from a stint in England, Sir Alfred learns that his brother-in-law August (Rudy Valee), whom has had asked to keep an eye on his wife Daphne (Linda Darnell), (and you thought the only Daphne was from Scooby-Doo), hired an investigator to follow her rather than to 'just keep an eye on her'. However, the private investigator has revealed that Mrs. Daphne has been spending much time with Sir Alfred's personal Secretary Anthony Windborn (Kurt Kreuger). Now Sir Alfred suspects his wife's infidelity.

Throughout the remainder of the movie, Sir Alfred envisions ways to commit the perfect crime - the murder of his wife for her transgressions. His fantasizes about this treachery during his conduction of his symphony's, which drive his wild ambition, which have the effect of much aggrandized performances which mesmerizes his audiences.

Now Sir Alfred must act out his fantasy and do the deed. But will he have the courage?

Unfaithfully Yours was made in 1948, and thus was not rated by the secret society known as the MPAA. The movie has some implied violence and some subtle sexual references, harmless by today's standards.

I really enjoyed this movie and at times could not discern fact from fiction. Rex Harrison becomes the mad infatuated conductor and pulls off his role with absolute brilliance.

I read a bit about the actors in the movie and found their real lives to be just as interesting, if not more, than the actual movie. Linda Darnell, who was a very beautiful woman, fell into alcoholism and depression. She had numerous affairs and marriages, including an affair with Mickey Rooney, and was extorted and threatened. She ended up dying at the age 41 in a house fire.

Rex Harrison, on the other hand, had 6 wives, 2 of whom committed suicide, and 1 died of leukemia.

I really like old "talkies" as my wife calls them. This one was no different. I'll give Unfaithfully Yours 4.1 stars.

Paul

The movie Paul is a culmination of science fiction, referencing popular movies, comics, books, nerd conventions, Area 51, and all other such nerdome, as experienced by British travelers Graeme Willy (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Nick Frost).

After attending the San Diego Comic Con, Graeme and Clive rent an RV (recreational vehicle for all you city-folk) and map out a course of extraterrestrial legends across the desert-Southwest of the United States that they plan to visit. As you would expect anywhere outside of New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles, America is inhabited by lunatic right-wing religious nuts carrying guns, wearing camouflage, and spitting on the floor. Clive and Graeme run into such characters and thus begin their flee from the law.

However, in this dramatic flight, they nearly literally run into Paul, an alien (Seth Rogen), with quite an attitute (like Seth Rogen) and a propensity for some of the finer vices of society, (like Seth Rogen).

What they didn't know is that Paul is also being pursued by Special Agent Lorenzo Zoil (Jason Bateman), Agent Haggard (Bill Hader), and Agent O'Reilly (Joe Lo Trulgio) under the direction of "The Big Guy" (Sigourney Weaver).

Along the way, the Brits run into one-eyed redneck Jesus girl named Ruth (Kristen Wiig) and her father Moses Buggs (John Carroll Lynch), of which Graeme strikes up a love interest (with Ruth, not her father).

All tensions culminate at the end with some good ole' fashion violence. The movie is strung together with some hysterical reference to science fiction pop culture (such as Star Wars). Check out the music being played in the country bar! Or the Han Solo reference, which is more subtle.

There are cameo appearances by Jeffrey Tambor, Bateman's castmate on the hysterically funny show Arrested Development, and the occasionally funny David Koechner.

Paul is Rated R for language, violence, drug use, sexual reference, and at times an inappropriate attack on religion, though interestingly, none of the other reviews mentioned that. But then again the other reviews probably came from liberal atheists out of New York and Los Angeles. The movie is about an hour and 45 minutes long.

I thought Paul was very funny at times, but dragged along at others. I agree with some reviews that the movie had a lot of potential and left it on the drawing board. Paul could have been absolutely hysterical, but unfortunately achieves only moderately funny.

I'll beam down 3.4 stars.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Eagle

The Eagle is a historical fiction about the disappearance of the 9th Legion of the Roman army. Historically true is that the legion advanced north of the Hadriatic wall in Britian, never to be seen again. The Eagle was an important symbol of the time and the legions would defend it to the end.

Despite his father being given up for dead, young Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum) requests to post in Britian near where his father would have been. Young Aquila proves himself a valuable warrior and eventually requests a mission to cross the wall and recover The Eagle, despite not knowing its whereabouts. He has the support of his uncle (Donald Sutherland) and is given a slave a British slave named Esca (Jamie Bell) to accompany him.

They set out for the north of Britian, an area now known as the Scottish Highlands and run into a rabble of people, where they fight and show their gallantry in hope of finding The Eagle. Does it still exist? If they do find it, can they actually return it to Rome?

The Eagle is Rated PG-13 for violence and some borish British acting and is just under 2 hours long.

Also staring in the movie are Mark Strong, Tahar Rahim, and Denis O'Hare - all extremely famous actors from the Highlands.

I kept my expectations for this movie low as I've seen some of Channing's other movies (Public Enemies, G.I. Joe, and The Dilemna). However, I actually enjoyed this movie. The storyline was interesting and with it spurred my interest in reading about the actual 9th Legion, some part of history that I was unaware.

Despite the lack of credible actors, I can give The Eagle 3.8 stars.

Real Steel

My wife won tickets to the see this movie, but actually had no interest in seeing in, so she offered the tickets to me and I took my good friend Duckman and we hauled off to White Marsh to see it. We got there a few minutes before it started, but much to our chagrin the only seats left were the ones right at the front where you have to stare straight up to see it. Ugh...

In the future, society has shunned the brutality of humans boxing each other, and instead shifted to boxing robots. Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is one of the premier boxing robot operators in the world, but certainly not the best. He has a brief encounter with world fame, but quickly falters and begins to wonder if the end of this career path is nearing.

Charlie eventually encounters eleven year old Max (Dakota Goyo) who latches on to him and Charlie humors him by helping him rebuild a relic shadow boxer named Atom and agrees to take him to matches.

Max quickly learns that he does not pocess the skills to operate Atom, but Charlie does. Thus begins their adventure to climb to the top of the boxing world.

So how did I like this movie? This movie was about as predictable as the alphabet. Several times I whispered to my friend what was going to happen next, and low and behold, it happened. He then predicted another scene. One of my Facebook friends, without even seeing the movie, summarized it by saying it is Transformers meets Rocky. Let me tell you, that's not too far from the truth.

Also staring in the movie are Evangeline Lilly, best known for Lost, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis, and James Rebhorn, who you'll remember as the headmaster in Scent of a Woman, and other such movies.

Real Steel is 127 minutes long and Rated PG-13 for violence, language, intense action, and severe predictability.

The movie was moderately average, and have I mentioned predictable? I'll give this movie 2.5 stars. Not bad for a free movie.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Henry's Crime

If you've done the time, do the crime. That's the motto of Henry's Crime. Henry (Keanu Reeves) is convicted of assisting in a bank robbery and does several years in prison in beautifully scenic Buffalo, New York. He didn't do it, but wouldn't turn in his friends that did the crime. And his wife leaves him. Great.

While in prison Henry befriends Max Saltsman (James Caaaaan) and older prisoner that takes him under his wings. While doing his time, Henry and Max learn of each other's crimes. Max is comfortable is prison. It's his home. He's fed. He sleeps. They tell him what to do. It's easy. But Henry's ready to leave. But one thought sticks with him after he hears it while in line getting a haircut: "if you've done the time, do the crime".

After leaving prison, Henry runs into Julie Ivanova (Vera Fermiga), an actress in a play at a theater that sits next to the bank. Perhaps she's a asset to commit his crime, and perhaps they really fall in love. And perhaps this is a bogus adventure.

This movie moved really slow. Bill and Ted are convincingly not very intelligent. Shane Falco suffers from lack of compelling dialog. Why Julie would even let Neo into her life is beyond me. I like James Caaaaaaan. His character is believable and very interesting, as always. Farmiga is okay. I certainly wouldn't expect any Hollywood awards for this film.

Henry's Crime was directed by Malcolm Venville, who's also known for the compelling and heart warming movie 44 Inch Chest. Also starring in the movie are Judy Greer and his pretty, but shallow wife, Fisher Stevens as a former friend and criminal, Peter Stomare as the director, and Bill Duke as the security group.

Henry's Crime is rated R for language and some sexual situations. The language seemed to be randomly placed, giving the impression that it was added with the intention of grabbing that R rating. Remove a few F-bombs and two scenes of moving bed sheets and this movie is easily rated PG-13.

I found myself watching the timer on the DVD player hoping it would almost be over. As much as I have been hoping for 20 years that Keanu Reeve's movie career is on the cusp of turning around, this movie isn't it. I give Henry's Crime 2.4 stars.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Boogie Woogie

When I first saw that Heather Graham was in this movie, I thought to myself, 'this is the second movie she's starred in with the word "boogie" (Boogie Nights was the other). It has nothing to do with nasal drippings. It has to do with dancing and art.


Boogie Woogie is considered a cerebral drama, based in London. Heather Graham plays the role of Beth Freemantle, the assistant and rising star at an art gallery. She works for Art Spindle (Danny Huston), the arrogant and manipulative studio owner. But more importantly, Amanda Seyfried is in the movie starring as a hired assistant named Paige Oppenheimer. Also important to the movie is Alan Cumming as Dewey Dalamanatousis, the flamboyant artist who wants to get his art displayed.

The film tracks these different members of different classes of society. The money rules, and those struggling want some of that money.

The plot of this movie is fairly thin. However, the characters are awesome. Dewey is that weenie of a guy that you really can't stand, but yet harbour sympathy for the fight against the way he is treated. Danny Huston is at the top of his game. He is such an absolute ass and he has an intolerable, yet catching laugh. "ha-ha. HA_HA!!" I find myself repeating it often. It's so phony, but so awesome.

And of course we have both the lovely Amanda Seifried and Heather Graham. The movie also stars Gillian Anderson, Stellen Skarsgard, Jack Huston, and Charlotte Rampling, whom you may remember being totally nude in The Swimming Pool.

Boogie Woogie is Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity (genitals), language, and drug use. Boogie Woogie is 94 minutes long. Fairly short for a non-romantic comedy.

By the way, Boogie Woogie is the name of the famous painting in the movie that they were pursuing. It was owned by Mr Alfred Rhinegold (Christopher Lee), an impoverished gentleman who is being pushed to sell the valuable painting.

Overall, the movie was okay. Like I said, the plot is thin, but the characters are excellent. I would watch this movie again, but need to give it some time. Ha-ha. HA-HA!!! I give it 3.3 stars.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hall Pass

Hall Pass is a movie that most middle-aged men can relate to. And don't use prepositions to end sentences with.

Rick (Owen Wilson) and Fred (Jason Sudeikis) are two middle aged men who are unhappy with their sex lives. Their wives, Grace (Christina Applegate) and Maggie (Jenna Fischer) get tired of catching them looking at other women and surfing porn. They talk with their friend Dr. Lucy (Joy Behar, who I swear her real name is Joy Blowhard) and Dr. Lucy suggests giving their husbands hall passes. This is a pass to do whatever they want for one week and it will save their marriage. This pass includes flirting with women, kissing women, and having sex with other women. In this age of sexually transmitted diseases, this seems to be a big turnoff to me, but if you can be shallow and just look at the intent without the consequences, this could be interesting.

The wives skip town with their kids and the boys are left at home to do as they please. However, they soon realize that they are not 20 anymore. Picking up girls isn't that easy when you're in your 40's. The movie is pretty funny throughout much of the first half. Seeing the guys drinking at the bar that turns out to be Applebee's cracked me up!

The movie has a nice twist when the women put their guard down and start meeting men. At this point I figured out the rest of the movie.

Hall Pass is definitely funnier in the first half compared to the second half. It lacks direction past the first hour and seems to be mostly filler until they can come to a conclusion.

The movie has cameos by former Who's the Boss starlet Alyssa Milano and former Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles player Dwight Evans, in addition to comedian Bo Burnham, and J.B. Smoove.

Hall Pass is directed by the Farrelly brothers, Peter and Bobby. You'll recognize their other romantic comedies and regular comedies, such as Dumb and Dumber, Something About Mary, Me, Myself, and Irene, Shallow Hal, and Fever Pitch.

Hall Pass is Rated R and is 105 minutes long. For those of you who attended Baltimore City public schools this is an hour and 45 minutes. The R-Rating is for some language and nudity, but the straight guys will be disappointed as it was penises. For you gay guys, you'll be super excited!

I did get a few good laughs in this movie, so despite that they came in the first 55 minutes, I'll give Hall Pass 3 stars.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kill the Irishman

Based on a really interesting true story, Kill the Irishman stars Ray Stevenson as Danny Greene, an Irishman who rises to power in the mafia in Cleveland. The movie opens being set in the 1960's on the Cleveland waterfront. Tired of being bullied and overworked, Danny takes the necessary steps to help his union. This eventually leads him to bigger and better things, until eventually he's basically running the Cleveland mafia

Danny Greene's fate is obvious, and it's his murder and investigation that helped the Justice Department bring down the notorious mobster families in New York. Those cases were tried by future New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani.

In addition to Ray Stevenson, the movie stars Vincent D'Onofrio as Greene's closest ally. You'll remember D'Onofrio from his younger days when he played Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket. Also starring in the moving is Christopher Walken as on of the mob connections in Cleveland who helps run money from New York, Val Kilmer as the Cleveland detective, Linda Cardellini as his first wife (remember her from Freaks and Geeks?), Tony Darrow, a real-life mobster who also starred in The Sopranos, Paul Sorvino, from Law and Order and he played a mobster in Goodfellas, and finally Laura Ramsey, the very attractive girlfriend of Danny Greene.

The movie was directed by Jonathan Hensleigh, but I read a review of the movie in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that humorously said 'had Danny Greene lived and operated in New York, he would have been a higher profile gangster and the movie would ultimately have been directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Robert de Niro.

Kill the Irishman is Rated R for strong violence (shootings and car bombs), language, and nudity (Laura Ramsey...gggrrrrr)

I really liked this movie. I'd have to say this is one of the better movies that I've seen this year. Had I realized that this movie was based on a true story prior to watching it, I probably would have enjoyed it even more. As it was, once the movie finished and those closing comments came on the screen, I thought, "Oh, crap! I didn't know that!"

Given what I know now and how much I liked this movie while watching it without the historical benefit, I give Kill the Irishman 4.5 stars.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Love and Other Drugs

You may say that this is just another romantic drama with Anne Hathaway batting her big brown eyes at the camera and putting every male with a sex-drive into a sinful trance. Well, you'd be partially correct. However, in this romantic drama, we get to see a lot of her personal real estate, so to speak.

Love and Other Drugs, a movie based on the non-fiction book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, stars Anne Hathaway as Maggie Murdock, a Parkinson's patient. She crosses paths with drug salesman Jamie Reidy (Jake Gyllenhaal). Mr. Reidy is a bit of an underachiever in his family, but an aggressive overachieving drug salesman shark.

After their initial encounter, Jamie pursues Maggie, despite her outrage at his behavior and abuse of his position. However, they eventually come to like each other, despite her long-term prognosis and expected fate. Jamie, however, meets someone at a convention for people with Parkinson's who is a spouse of a patient, who gave him the advise to run and leave her now. Now Jamie begins to have doubts about their relationship.

Despite the grim circumstances of the movie, Jamie and Maggie have quite an interesting relationship. And their relationship is graphically depicted with lots of nudity. Who knew that Anne Hathaway like to be so naked? Full backal-nudity. (is that a word? Is it the opposite of full-frontal nudity???). I'd say only about 5% of her was not shown on camera in this movie. And I'm not ashamed to say it was fantastic.

For the ladies, or the guys who enjoyed Broke Back Mountain, Jamie shows a bit of butt.

Directed by renowned director Edward Zwick (Glory, Legends of the Fall, Courage Under Fire, The Last Samurai, and Blood Diamond), Love and Other Drugs is Rated R for nudity, strong sexual situations, nudity, language, nudity, drug use, and nudity.

Also staring in Love and Other Drugs was Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, and some others I don't know.

Overall, this movie is just average, perhaps about a 3.3 on a 5 scale. But if you're looking for "cinematography", this one is a solid 4.3.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gulliver's Travels

Here's a movie that I got formy kids. If Jack Black is in it, you know it's goofy and most likely a kid-friendly movie.

The movie sort of follows the book of the same name, but with a modern spin and a lot of the added antics that you would expect from Jack Black.

As you may know, Gulliver travels by sea, but gets hit by a storm and ends up on the island of Lilliput. Lilliput is full of little people, just like in Ireland, but these people are called Lilliputians. They initially fear Gulliver because of his ginormous size, but he helps to save them at one point and earns their respect - the respect of everyone except for the Princess' fiance that is. Gulliver then abuses his new-found fame, and to his chagrin, the Princess' fiance exposes him. Now he must fight to regain their trust. And it could happen when the Princess' fiance goes rogue.

Gulliver's Travels is full of quasi-famous actors, including Jason Segal, one of the original Freaks and Geeks, Emily Blunt as the Princess, the always lovely Amanda Peet, Gulliver's long-time crush, and Billy Connolly as the King (remember him from Head of the Class? He replaced (succeeded?) Howard Hessman).

Gulliver's Travels was produced by Rob Letterman, not sure if he's related to David Letterman. Letterman, the former, also produced the mildly entertaining Monsters vs. Aliens, which is not to be confused with Alien vs. Predator. The latter is a midly entertaining aging talk show host.

The movie is rated PG for some crude humor, a naked butt (nope, not Amanda Peete's nor Emily Blunts - sorry!), and some mild language.

If I had watched this movie on my own, I would not have liked it too much. But watching it with my kids and hearing them laugh made me laugh. Therefore, it was worth it. I'll give this an even 3 stars. It met the expectations of the intended audience.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fair Game

Fair game is the movie based on the true story of Valerie Plame and her exposure as a CIA operative when her husband Joe Wilson admonishes the Bush Administration for going to war in Iraq under false pretenses. Ambassador Joe Wilson is played by Sean Penn. I swear I watched the entire movie thinking, "Is that Sean Penn?" If he only would have said, "Whoa, Mr. Hand!", then I would have known who it was. Valerie Plame is portrayed by Naomi Watts. The story is well-known, especially if you haven't been living under a rock for the past 10 years. Plame is doing undercover work and communicating with operatives in foreign rogue nations. Joe Wilson is in touch with the international community and knows what's going on. When the Bush Administration says that they know Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and are working on a nuclear bomb, he goes on the record on many talk shows dismissing this false rumor. Scooter Libby, the trusted Bush aide, exposes Plame as a secret operative in retaliation. Through government intimidation (White House and CIA), the family is pushed to the brink of what any family can tolerate. Also starring in the movie are David Andrews as Scooter Libby, Geoffrey Cantor as Ari Fleischer, James Rutledge and Andy Card, and Sam Shepard as Sam Plame. Fair Game is 108 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for some language. I was afraid that this movie would have super strong liberal overtones and be anti-Republican, but they did a good job of presenting the facts as they were and not trying to spin it in any way. The movie was a bit slow, but not too bad. Overall I enjoyed this averagely. I will give it 3 stars.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Lost Weekend

I haven't reviewed an old movie in a while. So here you go. The Lost Weekend is the Academy Award-winning movie from 1945 starring Ray Milland and Jane Wyman. For those of you born after 1980, Jane Wyman was the first wife of former President Ronald Reagan. She also holds the distinction of being the only person to win an Oscar and marry a future President. That's quite an honor! Hillary Clinton never won an Oscar!

In this black and white classic, Ray Milland plays Don Birnem, a alcoholic writer who is left alone for the weekend. His girlfriend and brother try to do what they can to help keep him from drinking, but Birnem is a smart drunk. The movie follows him all weekend from buying more rye, going to the bar, reminiscences of the past, and a hospitalization. Birnem discusses taking his own life and mentions a gun he once had that he hocked for more money for alcohol.

The Lost Weekend was directed by the famous Billy Wilder and is an hour and 40 minutes long. The movie also stars lesser known (to me at least) actors such as Phillip Terry, Howard Da Silva, Doris Dowling, and Frank Faylen.

I definitely like classic movies and I have been trying to watch all of the Academy Award winning movies. Unfortunately, I have to say that this will not be on the top of my list of great movies from the era. The subject matter of the movie is serious, but it lacks an element of thematic drama (is that a real thing?) or maybe some subtle humor to keep the audience in tune.

The Lost Weekend wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't the kind of movie I'll want to watch again. I'll give it just 3 stars.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Takers

I watched The Takers a couple of weeks ago. I saw that it had Matt Dillon, Hayden Christiansen (Anakin Skywalker), and Idris Elba (Stringer Bell - The Wire). Couldn't be that bad, right?

The Takers is an action-packed movie full of unrealistic chase scenes where no one ever gets hurt. Plus the movie hoisted its plot directly from The Italian Job, then replaced the white actors with black actors. I guess when they called the movie The Takers, it meant that they took their plot from someone else.

I wasn't going to word it that way, but after I talked to several people and they said that very same thing I figured it was appropriate. The movie isn't terrible, but I've already seen it. It's difficult to say much more than that. Elba uses his British accent, which may throw you if you've watched The Wire, the realistic show about the high crime and political, union, educational, and media corruption in Baltimore.

In The Takers, Dillon plays this over-zealous tough guy that's just a bit too over the top. I may be understating that. He was way over the top. And he chases the group of bad guys who rob banks and armored cars.

The Takers is Rated R for plot theft, violence, language, and a partially nude scene. The movie is 107 minutes long, as opposed to The Italian Job, which was 110 minutes long. And, by the way, The Italian Job from 2003 with Mark Wahlberg is a remake of the movie of the same name from 1969 staring Michael Caine and Benny Hill.

Despite it's entire lack of originality, The Takers earned a top-notch 1.9 stars. Ugh...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Despicable Me

Despicable Me is the latest movie from Netflix that I got for my kids. I usually allow for one per month, though it looks like they will also be getting Megamind this month. Well, actually, I think Despicable Me counts as February and Megamind will count as March. So we're good.

Despicable Me is a animated movie (read cartoon) made by Universal Pictures. It stars Steve Carell as Villanious Gru, the evil mad scientist who is plotting to steal world-wide monuments. For his latest swipe he needs the incredible shrinking machine, but younger evil mad scientist Victor "Vector" Perkins (Jason Segal) has swiped it first. Now Gru's only chance of getting the shrinking ray gun is by exploiting the 3 young female orphans: Margo (Miranda Cosgrove, duh - Carly Shay from iCarly!), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) and having them swipe it. And how in the world did 3 young girls in today's society end up with old lady names like Margo, Edith, and Agnes?

Despicable Me also stars the voices of Julie Andrews as Gru's mother, Russell Brand as Gru's older scientist mentor, Will Arnett as the evil bank administrator, Danny McBride as Gru's neighbor, and Kristen Wiig as Miss Hatie, the mistress of the orphanage.

Rated PG for crude humor and mild action (sounds like something else I know), Despicable Me is 95 minutes long.

My kids loved this movie. It made all of them laugh - the 11 year old, the 9 year old, even my 3 year old. This movie is great for them. I thought it was okay, too. They all lived the little yellow working guys.

Together, we give Despicable Me 4 stars.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wild Target

This movie was in my Netflix queue, but as always I requested it from the library, as well. It's always a guessing game as to which will be able to deliver first. Usually it's Netflix. This time it was the library. This time, Netflix isn't even releasing it until March 8th. Win - library.

Wild Target is a British comedy staring Bill Nighy as Victor Maynard, a hired assassin. After deceiving the wrong person in an art deal switch, Rose (Emily Blunt) has a hit put on her by Ferguson (Rupert Everett), the would-be recipient of the art. Maynard is then hired to carry out the hit, but as he's about to carry out the hit, things go wrong and Rose thinks that Maynard was actually trying to save her.

The silly British shenanigans begin. Rose hires Maynard (the man hired to kill her) to protect her and Tony (Rupert Grint), the passer-by who assisted in saving her, who then tags along and decides he wants to be a private detective.

Not to be deceived twice, Ferguson hires a new assassin to kill Rose and Maynard. Now they are on the run. In addition to dealing with his duplicitous relationship with Ferguson, Maynard must also deal with his overbearing assassin-training mother who is disappointed with her son and his inability to fulfill her expectations of him.

Wild Target was directed by Jonathan Lynn who is known for other big hits such as Clue, My Cousin Vinny, and The Whole Nine Yards.

Also starring in the movie are Martin Freeman (Hot Fuzz), Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood, What A Girl Wants & Cold Mountain), and Gregor Fisher. Wild Target rated PG-13 for violence, language, and some sexual situations.

I was moderately amused by this movie. It is full of irony and cerebral humor, qualities that the average movie viewer does not understand nor appreciate. Wild Target was good enough for me to earn 3.5 stars.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Karate Kid

Karate Kid. No, not the one from the 80's with Ralph Machio and Pat Morita and Elizabeth Shue. This is the remake - no, sequel - no, movie with the same name with different characters in a different city 25 years later? Yep. That's it.

In this "version" of Karate Kid, Dre Parker (the kid) is played by Will Smith's son Jaden Smith. Mr. Miagi is now Mr. Han and he's played by Jackie Chan.

In this 2010 version, Dre and his mother leave Detroit and head to China. Not speaking Chinese well at all, Dre has trouble fitting in. However, he befriends Meiying (Wenwen Han), the cute Chinese girl at his private school. The problem is - there's a bully who doesn't want him around and he doesn't want him to talk to her.

After being beat up a few times, Dre falls under the tutelage of Mr. Han to learn true Kung Fu. And Mr. Han vows to have him fight the bad kids in a tournament. And the bad kids are taught by an instructor who wants his kids to play dirty. Does this sound familiar? It should. Nearly the entire storyline from the original movie is sub-planted in China and reshot using modern high definition film.

If you've never seen the original Karate Kid from 1984 then you're in luck. This 2010 version can stand on its own. I'm not saying it's better. Nor am I saying its worse. It's okay. For those of you stuck in the 80's you probably won't like it because you'll be comparing the two movies the entire time. But don't do that. It's not worth your energy.

Karate Kid has an all-star cast with such headliners as Rongguang Yu, Zhensu Wu, Zhiheng Wang, Zhenwei Wang, and Yi Zhao.

Karate Kid 2010 is 2 hours and 20 minutes in length, so it's a bit long. It is rated PG for martial arts violence, some mild language and bullying. Bullying? Seriously? Yes, it appears that is now one of the attributes used to rate movies.

My kids enjoyed Karate Kid. It was okay for me, too. I will give Karate Kid 3 stars.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Social Network

I wasn't going to put The Social Network in my Netflix queue. It just really didn't seem that interesting to me. But my friend, Charm City Kim, recommended that I add it. She liked it. So I added it. Then a few days later I was at the library and low and behold - guess what's sitting on the shelf? The Social Network. Grab movie, remove from queue!

The movie is a true drama (with some artistic interpretation added I'm sure) about Mark Zuckerberg, the inventor of the wildly popular social networking website Facebook.

There's really no spoiler here. Unless you don't read the newspapers and the gossip columns. Mark Zuckerberg was hired by a couple of meat heads from Harvard where Zuckerberg attended college and they asked him to create a webpage for Harvard that could connect the students. He created the site, but then decided to make something bigger to connect students at other colleges across the country.

His adventure had him cross paths with Sean Parker, the kid who invented Napster. Eventually, people decided to start suing him for stealing their ideas, probably when they realized how successful The Facebook was going to be and how much money everyone was going to make.

The Social Network stars Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerman. You'll remember him from Zombieland and Adventureland, two decent movies. Justin Timberlake stars as Sean Parker. If you're under 30 you'll remember him from one of those boy bands from the 90's. (for the record - I was listening to Stone Templ Pilots and 2Unlimited in the 90's.)

Also staring in the movie are Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, Rooney Mara, Rashida Jones, Brenda Song (London Tiptop from Disney's The Suite Life of Zack & Cody), Malese Jow, and Joseph Mazzello.

The Social Network is considered a 'cerebral' movie and was directed by David Fincher, who's directed other cerebral movies such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Zodiac.

The movie is Rated R for language, some sexuality, and drug and alcohol use. It is just under 2 hours long.

My wife was not a big fan of the movie and she actually wanted to see this one, which is rare. I, however, really liked the movie. I wish I was that smart. But I think I am smart enough to give this movie 4 stars.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Other Guys

My wife is a big fan of Will Ferrell. And who didn't like Will Ferrell back when he was funny?

The Other Guys is his latest exploit of a bumbling character who is obsessive and\or compulsive. In this movie, the top cop positions are held by P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Officer Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson - The Rock). However, opportunity presents itself for lowly desk job cops Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) to move into the top cop position.

Commanded by Captain Gene Mauch (Michael Keaton), officers Gamble and Hoitz seem to go to extremes to prove that they'll never be the top cops.

Also staring in this zany comedy are Eve Mendez as Dr. Sheila Gamble, Allen's beautiful wife, Steve Coogan as (crook\victim), Damon Wayans, Jr. as Officer Fosse, and Rob Riggle.

The Other Guys is directed by Adam McKay who has done other Will Ferrell movies such as Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers.

The movie is rated PG-13 for language that includes sexually explicit conversation, some violence, fire arms, and drug use (actual or implied).

I thought the movie was fairly funny. It's certainly no Anchorman, but I got a few good laughs out of it. I would give The Other Guys 3.6 stars.

The Romantics

Note to self - I'm not enjoying the latest string of romantic dramas. Especially the Indie ones.

As you can already guess, I'm not a big fan of The Romantics. I can't even remember why I put it in my Netflix queue. Was it because Katie Holmes was in it? Or Anna Paquin? Or Malin Akerman? It was probably one of those. Who knows.

The movie is about some rich egotistical misguided young adults who have trudged through treachory, deception, and sexual escapades with each other for a while. I know this because they are staying in a big waterfront house in New England.

The Romantics is actually being sold as a movie about a young couple getting married and their friends and family coming together to celebrate. The only problem is that the bride Lila (Anna Paquin) is marrying Tom (Josh Duhamel), but Tom is actually the ex-lover boyfriend of Lila's sister Laura (Katie Holmes). Now there's some drama.

What's up with films about failing relationships right at the wedding? Remember the other wedding drama meltdown movie - Margot at the Wedding? Three Weddings an a Funeral? Runaway Bride? The Wedding Singer? Are disaster weddings like car accidents? Do we love to see people suffer?

Anyway, The Romantics is full of drama, maybe a little bit of romance, a lot of drinking, some pretty funny toasts, and many awkward moments. One thing that I really did like was the background music played during the wedding. I laughed out loud at that.

The Romantics is rated PG-13 for some brief nudity (a butt in the dark!), language, drinking, some naughty girls in their underwear, and some kissing of people who shouldn't be kissing.

Directed by Grant Niederhoffer, The Romantics also stars Elijah Wood (of Lord of the Rings), Jeremy Strong, Candice Bergen, Adam Brody, Dianne Argon, and Rebecca Lawrence, most of whom I never heard.

So all in all, this hour and 30 minute movie is way long and slow and filled with too much angst for me. I can only give it 2.2 stars. Blah!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is the sequal to the original Wall Street movie staring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen. This time, more than 20 years later, Gordon Gekko is out of prison and he's ready to make right with his life. Or is he?

Gekko's daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) is dating Wall Street trader Jake (Shia LeBouf - who I swear is not interested in the daughters of former money makes; or any daughters for that matter, but I digress). In basically what is a replay of the original movie, some big firm goes down and everyone is left with their hat in hand wondering what to do next.

Wanting his girlfriend to make-up with her just released from prison father, Jake meets with Gekko to talk business. Soon thereafter, Jake is working for Gekko's arch-rival Bretton James (Josh Brolin).

Things don't go as smoothly as you would have expected in the reunification attempt for a convicted white-collar criminal who ruined his family and made a spectacle of everything. But as they say, what goes around comes around.

This movie deals mostly with the credit and real estate bubbles of this decade. It runs like an economics and financial documentary for much of the movie. It's full of back-stabbing and much of the same from the original movie.

For comical entertainment, Charlie Sheen makes a cameo appearance that is absolutely pathetic. To me it appeared to be a plug for the original movie. Are they pushing DVD sales? And if you hadn't seen the original movie it would not have been relevant to you.

But all's well in the end, right?

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is directed by fear-mongering conspiracy theorist Oliver Stone. Also staring in the movie are liberal titan Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella, John Bedford Lloyd, and Oliver Stone. There are also cameos by Wall Street media moguls Jim Cramer, Maria Bartaromo, and David Faber from NBC's business channel CNBC.

The movie is rated PG-13 for some language, one scene of implied violence, deceit, and cerebral economic discussions.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is more of a sentimental movie for people who love the 80's. There is not much cinematic value to this movie. I mean - is it realistic that some 22 year old kid is some power broker? He really leaped over the 40 year olds who have been working the street for 20 years??? I fully expect there to be another Stone movie about the next economic bubble with accusations against the greedy corporate money whores.

The movie isn't terrible. It's got it's witty one-liners, but it's just.....eh.

I give Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps 2.9 stars.

Machete

Machete is an action comedy that shows the conflicting and often hypocritical interests in dealing with the millions of illegal aliens that cross in from Mexico every year.

When Mexican Federale Machete (Danny Trejo) is double-crossed, attacked, and left for dead, he is forced to flee May-hi-co and remain in the underground.

Several years later, superstar border agent Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba) comes across him while monitoring action of the taco truck run by underground leader Luz (Michelle Rodriguez). In South Texas, tensions are high with the keeping out illegal aliens. Texas Senator John McLaughlin is running for reelection on the platform of killin' 'em and closing the borders.

Meanwhile, Machete is finding his way around Texas. He is found fighting handsomely in the streets and is recruited by Von Jackson (Don Johnson) to assassinate the Senator. Meanwhile, the Mexican Mafia is led by Torrez (Steven Seagal) who is giving orders from south of the border .

The movie sports an all-star cast that also includes Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan (who is entirely naked throughout most of the movie), and Jeff Fahey.

Machete is Rated R for lots of nudity (boobies and buttocks - including Jessica Alba), violence (including decapitations and torso thrashings), and language. The violence in many scenes would almost be considered cartoonish. Just tons of blood. Everywhere. And severed limbs.

This movie is ridiculous. As an example, there is one scene where there is an entire courtyard brawl with guns and swords and machetes. Someone pulls out a machine gun and shoots all of the swords and guns and machetes and no one is hurt. Nearly everyone in the movie gets killed. Several people are gored entirely through their torso, but are able to continue their conversation for several more minutes before they die.

I read a couple of reviews and it said that the movie dealt with the conflicts of illegal immigration. I get that many businesses want the illegal immigration for its artificial low wages. But others want to close the borders because they are stealing jobs from Americans. To me, this movie was just an opportunity to make Americans look like a bunch of uneducated racist rednecks, thus making it easier to stomach killing them.

One positive was it was interesting to see Robert DeNiro not be a New York gangster. The other positive - lots of naked girls. If it weren't for all of the skin in the movie, I would have given this 1 star. But because of that bias, I'll go as high as 2.2.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Expendables

Action. Screaming. Blood. Tough guys. Gore. Shooting. Explosions. Grunting. Fire. Smoke. If this is your idea of a movie, shout out "BINGO" because I found a winner.

If you want a movie with tough guys from the 80's trying to recapture a little of their glory, The Expendables was made with you in mind.

In what would have been considered an all-star cast in 1984, The Expendables has true grit. Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jason Stratham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Steve Austin. The only ones we're missing are Jean Claude van Damme and Steven Seagal.

What's the plot? Not sure. I think they're sent on a mission to blow stuff up, but they get shot at and have to leave, but only to decide that they need to return to save the girl and blow up some more stuff. And kill the bad guys.

The Expendables is Rated R for language, some sequences of graphic violence (those sequences last throughout the entire movie), and a face by Sylvester Stallone that will make you cringe.

I got through The Expendables only because it was so ridiculous that it was funny. These guys should not be making action movies any more. They were just silly. I can hardly bring myself to give this movie 2 stars.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Red

In Bruce Willis' latest super secret agent movie, he plays Frank Moses, an ex-CIA secret operative who is in retirement, but is forced out of retirement when he learns that someone has a hit out on him. To make matters worse, these hitmen are also after the phone representative girl (Mary-Louise Parker) that he calls everyday because he's in love with her. Now he must save himself, and her. And he's never met her.

Assisting him on the hunt for the person who put out a hit on him are former ex-CIA secret operatives Nelson Mandella (who convincingly played Morgan Freeman once in a movie - or was it the other way around?), John Malkovich (who starred in Being John Malkovich), and Helen Mirren.

Also staring in the movie are 200 year old Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfuss, Julian McMahon, and Karl Urban.

An interesting point about Julian McMahon - he played the Vice President running for President in the movie. In real life, McMahon is the son of a former Prime Minister of Australia - Sir William McMahon.

Red, which stands for Retired Extremely Dangerous, is more of an action comedy. There were plenty of parts that made me laugh. There is a lot of shooting, not a lot of blood, and a curse word here and there. The movie is rated PG-13 for said shooting and language.

I was adequately entertained by Red and it's nearly continuous sequence of action. I find it suffice to give it 3.5 stars.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

I haven't really reviewed older movies lately. But this movie had so many freakin' people in it I just had to write about it.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World starts when Smiler Grogan (Jimmy Durante) wrecks his car as he careens off of a cliff somewhere in the outback of California. Several car loads of people witness this accident and they all race to the car to see if he's okay. Nearing his last breath, he tells them that there's $350,000 buried beneath the big "W" in the park in Santa Rosita. Seconds later - he's dead.

The mad dash starts as the onlookers race across the state to get to Santa Rosita to get the money. Unbeknownst to them, Captain T.G. Culpepper is on to them and let's them lead him to the money. You see - he's been waiting for a break in the case for 20 years in order to find this money.

So here's a list of the people who star in the movie. If you're a well-rounded person, you'll probably know most, if not all, of them. Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett,
Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Jonathan Winters, Jim Backus, Peter Faulk, Norman Fell, Buster Keaton, Don Knotts, Carl Reiner, Dorothy Provine, Jack Benny, Jimmy Durante, Ron Howard, Jerry Lewis, Eddie "Rochester" Robinson, and the Three Stooges - Moe Howard, Larry Fine, and Curley Joe.

The movie is about 2 hours and 41 minutes long - which wasn't all that uncommon in the 1960's. The movie is not rated (pre-rating era), but the most scandalous thing to come out of the movie was when Ethyl Merman flashed her bloomers when she fell.

This is a great zany goof-ball comedy that anyone who appreciates classic movies will love. If you haven't seen this movie, put it on your list.

I give this movie 4.2 stars.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cyrus

I don't know why I keep torchering myself with Jonah Hill movies. He's a fat obnoxious kid with a potty-mouth. I get enough of that from the cashiers at Best Buy. I guess the rest of the cast had me more interested in this movie.

Cyrus is the name of the title character played by Jonah Hill. He's an overweight psychotic kid (not a difficult role for Jonah to play) living with his mother, Molly, played by Maris Tomei (now we're talking, right???). She's a single mom.

Coming into the picture is John, played by John C. Reilly, Will Farrell's friend. He chose to play the role of John because he's already named John and that would be easy for him to remember. He's a divorcee wandering aimlessly in life, but his ex-wife Jamie (Catherine Keener - not bad for a 50+ year lady!) is encouraging him to meet other women.

When John meets Molly, they hit it off right away. But soon John will have to meet Cyrus. And Cyrus wants Mommy all to himself.

This dry independent comedy was directed by Jay and John Duplass. Cyrus is Rated R for language and some sexual material. I don't recall any nudity, but that's not important, is it?

As much as Jonah Hill irritates me (at least his characters irritate me), I thought this movie was somewhat funny and tolerable. Definitely not a 'watch it again' kind of movie. I will give it a slightly below average 2.9 stars.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Buried

Ryan Reynolds is really doing a good job trying to be a well-rounded actor. He's done romantic comedy - The Proposal, action - X-Men Origins, goofy comedy - Adventureland, and dramas - The Nines. This time, he does a different kind of drama, this time in the new movie war movie Buried.

Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, a contractor who is working in war-torn Iraq driving a truck for a private trucking company. He wakes up in a coffin-like box, buried somewhere in the desert. He finds that he has some items in the box with him - a lighter, a cellphone, a pencil, a flashlight, and some kind of light device (the kind that you snap and it comes on - gives that greenish glow).

Conroy tries calling people back in the states for help. 911. His wife. A mistress? His company. The State Department. Is everyone asleep? What's going on?


As he lies in the box it begins to leak sand and time starts to run out. Can the Americans track his signal and save him before it's too late. Does he have what it takes to survive?

The entire movie is shot from within the box. This has to be the smallest stage-set in the history of movies.

The only other person you see in the movie is a fellow contractor, but you see her through the video on his cellphone.

Buried is Rated R for language and some violence. It is a very suspenseful movie.

It certainly was interesting and I was in it for the long-hull. I can't comment further without giving the movie away. I'll just say that I'll give it 3 stars. You'll have to watch it yourself and let me know if you agree.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The A-Team

One of my favorite shows as a child. I'm sure you remember this intoduction:

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum-security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem...if no one else can help...and if you can find them...maybe you can hire...The A- Team.

In 6th grade we had to write an episode of a television show for our creative writing project. Of course I chose the A-Team, and recorded the theme song off of the television onto a cassette and played it before my script was read to the class. Yes, I was a dork. Still am a dork???

Anyway, in the latest installment of making tv shows from our childhood into movies, the A-Team was finally released, staring Liam Neeson as the cigar-chomping Hannible Smith, Bradley Cooper as Face, Quinton Jackson as "BA"Baracus, and Sharlto Copley as Murdoch.

Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict make cameo appearances in the movie. They originally played Murdoch and Face in the original television series. Mr. T was not in the movie and George Peppard (Hannible) has been dead for years. Additionally, Gerald McRaney makes a cameo. You may remember him from Simon and Simon or Major Dad if you're a bit younger.

The movie follows the classic A-Team style. Someone framed them. They have to find them and resolve it and escape while being pursued by evil government agents. Much of the movie is like watching your kid play a combat game on the Wii. The dialog is just okay - much like the television show. Lot's of outlandish action, though.

Also staring in the movie are Jessica Biel as one of the agents who is pursuing them, but then comes to believe they are innocent, and Patrick Wilson as the unwavering CIA agent chasing them.

Directed by Joe Carnahan, who was a kid himself when the show aired, The A-Team is rated PG-13 for many fake explosions and gun fire that never seems to hit anyone. The movie is just under 2 hours long.

The A-Team was a bit of a novelty for me. Had this been a stand-alone movie with no reference to a television show from my childhood, I probably would have hated it. However, since it wasn't a stand-alone movie, then I shall give it 3.1 stars.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Knight and Day

I'm always hesitant to watch a Tom Cruise movie. Come on - the guy is absolutely off of his rocker. He made Brooke Shields cry because he said she's not as cool as him. What a punk!

I used to be a big fan of Cameron Diaz, (Was there something about Cameron?) until she started dating some dude from some boy band who dressed like he was protecting an inner-city street corner. I think his name is Justin Timberlake.

Anyway, both of these overly-glorified actors recently starred in the released-to-DVD movie Knight and Day. It's a play on words. In the movie, Cruise and Diaz are known as Miller and Havens, but that would not have stoked as much interest as Knight and Day, but Knight does come into play as you will find.

Cruise plays a secret operative (imagine that) and Diaz plays an unsuspecting victim (imagine that) who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, through their trials and tribulations, Miller learns that Havens wouldn't make such a bad secret agent herself.

Would they eventually be able to work together to save the world?

Knight and Day also stars Peter Sarsgaard, who's been in such B movies as Rendition, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, K-19, and an Education.

Directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line, and Girl Interrupted), Knight and Day is rated PG-13 for circus violence, G-fab computer graphics, and some naughty words and some sexual innuendo. The movie is just about 2 hours long.

I actually didn't think Knight and Day was that bad. Tom Cruise doesn't seem to be pompous, but rather competent and matter-of-fact. I would say the movie is more about Cameron Diaz' character.

I give Knight and Day 3.2 stars. If you can't find any of the top-shelf movies to watch, this one will entertain you for the evening. You probably wouldn't care to see it twice, but once is okay.
 
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