Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Going to see X-Piles wasn't a complete waste of time. Well, the 100 minutes of tense music, enthusiastic Mulder and perpetually skeptical Scully was a waste of time, but the trailers before hand provided some very interesting prospects for the near future. Of which the most promising is Blindness.

This movie seems to have everything going for it. Literally, everything. It's directed by Fernando Meirelles. The man we can thank for the near perfect City of God, and the 2006 Oscar favorite The Constant Gardner. This Academy Award nominated director knows his stuff, if you don't believe me, watch either of the two previously mentioned movies, give me a call, and I'll say I told you so.

Blindness is based on the book of the same name, written by Portuguese Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago, the plot follows a city wide epidemic causing blindness in 90% of the population. The city's ultimate and immediate goal becomes containment of the infection. Those afflicted are quarantined to an abandoned mental hospital, where they are left with meager food rations and no contact with the outside world. Left completely to their own devices, a sightless, savage society is formed based on greed and brutality. Power is left in the hands of those that control food and supplies. Left to their own devices, this 'society' quickly devolves and loses it's humanity (a la Lord of the Flies).

The cast offers an endless supply of some of the most talented actors in Hollywood today. The Julianne Moore (Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Children of Men) plays the wife of a Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) who's infected. She follows him to the quarantined hospital, keeping her sight a secret while leading/protecting the underdogs. The film also stars the wickedly talented Gail Garcia Bernal (The King, Babel), Sandra Oh (Hard Candy, Sideways), Danny Glover and scores more. Check out the full cast here.

Blindness is set to be released September 26th and while it's not yet rated, if it stays true to Saramago's novel, it will most likely be rated R. Check out the official movie site at blindness-themovie.com.

Check out the following trailers and teasers as well (some of which feature the ridiculously awesome original score to Danny Boyle's Sunshine).

Official Trailer #2

Official Trailer #1

Teaser Scene 1

Monday, July 28, 2008

X-Piles: I Just Didn't Believe

It's hard to review a film you completely didn't care about in the first place. I never watched the TV series, and I think I caught about 85% of the first film on TBS. If truth be told, I only watched this movie because I had a short window of time that needed to be filled and neither Mamma Mia! nor Space Chimps had times that fit my schedule.

Director Chis Carter brings us this second feature length installment in the X-Files (and final hopefully?). Both Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny reprise their roles and Scully and Mulder. After the four year hiatus, the sexual chemistry between the two is still as strong as ever (why can't they just be together?), and their performances never miss a beat. They share exactly one on-screen kiss in I Want To Believe and one awkwardly filmed scene that shows the two in bed (not too much is shown...Scully was just not in the mood)

The boring part of this film is that even though some slightly mysterious events lure the two out of retirement, their involvement in the case doesn't advance the investigation at all. The film gets really creepy when, get this, the pedophile psychic leading FBI teams to frozen, severed limbs hidden in the Virginian wilderness starts to cry BLOOD! It's sooo weird. Can't you hear the theme music now?

Two thirds of the way through the movie, all creepiness comes to a screeching halt, and Carter apparently started taking his cues from made-for-TV movies and it's difficult to stay focused for the remaining 20 minutes or so.

Granted, I don't know enough about X-Files to say whether or not the cult following will enjoy this or not, but I can pretty much guarantee the average viewer will be somewhere in between bored and underwhelmed when viewing this movie.

Rated PG-13 for violent and disturbing content and thematic material.

Rottentomatoes: 35% - Cream of the Crop: 27%

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday's Meme...about Film!

This is NOT a MySpace survey, or anything similar. This is simply a number of questions that will help you understand my movie choices and reviews. Any resemblance to a networking website chain-mail survey is purely coincidental.

Name a movie you’ve been meaning to see forever: The Graduate is definitely one I've been meaning to check out. But I'm always attracted to the the outer wall at Blockbuster with all the seductive new releases...I'm also working to view the entire works of Stanley Kubrick, and Andrei Tarkovsky (but I need to take both of these directors in small installments).

Steal one costume from a movie for your wardrobe: That tux that James McAvoy wears in Atonement was dope. I'd only to get use it when I'm invited to upper-class meals in 1930s England, but still....

Your favorite film franchise is: The non-pretentious answer is probably James Bond. I was a fan of the Pierce Brosnan dynasty, but the new Daniel Craig era has ushered in a sexier, more orgasmic reign of Bond that keeps me coming back for more. It also helps that the first 'new' Bond girl was the goddess Eva Green. The pretentious answer is Lars Von Trier's "Golden Heart" trilogy in which the heroines remain naïve despite their actions (the trillogy includes Bjork's Dancer in the Dark,

Invite five (living) movie people over for dinner. Who are they? And Why would you invite them?

Angelina Jolie - Mostly because I'd like to discuss the living conditions of refugees, her work as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN, and to ogle her.

Edward Norton - Because he's brilliant, and most like the most talented actor in Hollywood right now (Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't count as part of the 'Hollywood crowd' because he's so pretentious). His movie choices have never failed to disappointment, although I haven't seen the Woody Allen musical he starred in in the early ninties...

Noah Baumbach - The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding spoke to me more than most recent contemporary films. He's got a terrific voice.

Sophia Coppola - Her films The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation capture something completely unique in my opinion, and picking her brain would be terrifically interesting. Also, embarassingly enough, I thoroughly enjoyed Marie Antoinette (but don't tell anyone I know).

And Lastly...Paul Thomas Anderson - Someone with the ability to masterfully direct films ranging from Boogie Nights, Magnolia (one of the best movies ever), Punch Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood, must have some sort of impressive genius that I would love to discuss.

What is the appropriate punishment for people who answer cell phones in the movie theater? There is no appropriate punishment. These people shouldn't be allowed to visit that theater for a very extended period of time after this infraction. They should also have some sort of fine imposed on them that is roughly equal to 3 days pay. For a college student, that's like $60 bucks, for Bill Gates, it's probably $6,000,000 bucks. People in all tax brackets should be equally afraid to disrupt my moving going experience.

Choose a female bodyguard: Carrie Anne Moss. Did you see her in action in her bitchin' leather suit in The Matrix? She frightens me, and turns me on, it's the perfect mix.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever seen in a movie? Remember the scene in Se7en when they cover the 'Lust' scene? You can see the clip here, it's kind of bad quality, but not too graphic. The patron of the prostitute was forced to kill her in a ridiculously awful away. The actor who plays the unfortunate patron forced into murder deserved award nominations for his convincing portrayal of a man who's lost his mind because of what he was forced to do. That scene will stay with me 'til the day I die. The last time I saw that film (2003) it messed me up, and messed me up real good. Second would be the amount of claustrophobic, edge-of-your-seat intensity I felt throughout the entire film The Descent. That movie is really, really scary.

Your favorite genre (excluding "comedy" because that doesn't even count as film): Drama would be hands down. The complexities of realistic human drama provide more than just entertainment, but an insight to society, and sucks the viewer into a world outside of their own. And THAT is what makes great film.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight

I will no longer be posting here at blogspot. But come and see me at my new place over at www.bitchinfilmreviews.com, and update your feeds to http://bitchinfilmreviews.com/?feed=rss2. Thanks!

There’s not really much left to say about ‘The Dark Knight.’ It was a fantastic film. But everybody knows that. One visit to TDK Rottentomatoes page will reveal critic after critic falling all over themselves to praise this film almost to no end, calling it a classic, comparing it to Scorsese’s ‘The Departed, and De Palma’s ‘The Untouchables,’ and giving it Oscar buzz like the year was already over and we already knew what the holiday season will bring.

I enjoyed the film, a lot. I’ll probably go see it again. Heath Ledger was haunting and brilliant in his performance, the action was endlessly entertaining (the more elaborate scenes were filmed in IMAX). But I left the theater feeling slightly underwhelmed. This isn’t Christopher Nolan’s fault, who deserves such high praise for reminding us that high-budgeted, big studio movies can be more than just mindless drivel. It wasn’t the actors’ fault (the cast was stellar; let’s thanks the folks with Scientology who mind-controlled Tom Cruise into forbidding Katie Holmes from reprising her roll as Rachel, Maggie Gyllenhaal is a better actor than Holmes will ever be.). But I daresay it was the fault of the studio who previewed this film so much to critics, so far in advance, that I’ve been expecting a damn near perfect film since mid-June.

The studio really couldn’t care about this side effects of building such rapport. They already have their great reviews, they already have (according to early estimations) the highest grossing opening weekend of all time. So no one was really hurt I suppose.

I’ve had a few such experiences, when a movie is built up so much that I feel a little let down (I know someone who is definitely not me who was underwhelmed upon his first viewing of ‘The Godfather’ due to this very reason).

Of course, all this media fanfare about the movie doesn’t make the movie itself any less well made. The two and a half hours literally flies by as you’re mesmerized by Aaron Eckhart as Two Face, Michael Caine as Alfred, the twisted love triangle between Harvey Dent, Bruce and Rachel, and all the other goodies that Nolan used to weave this masterful web. My one other qualm with TDK is this: Where’s Christian Bale? It’s granted that this was Heath Ledger’s moment to shine (even more so with this being his last performance) but Bale is wicked talented, and definitely needed more screen time. He’s the reason ‘Batman Begins’ was so revitalizing for the franchise, he should have been given more opportunity to show his acting chops.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Now, I know a lot of people really like Will Smith. Who wouldn’t, with mega rap hits like ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,’ and fan pleasing blockbusters like ’MIB 2.’ But it seems to me that he has a bit of a Messiah complex. And his big studio cronies will pretty much do whatever he wants because a movie starring Will Smith has like, a 50% percent chance of being in the top 100 high grossing films ever (see: I Am Legend, Men in Black, Independence Day, etc., etc.).

Hancock seems to be just an excuse to let a Smith be Superman. Another movie where he saves the world! But not the Superman we all know, this is the BET version, complete with horrible one-liners and everything! Remember on the trailer where the little kid tries to alert Hancock to the bad guys, and he responds, ‘Whatchu wan? A cookie?’ That’s about as good as the scriptwriting gets…sorry Smith fans.

Hancock is directed by Peter Berg (the guy you can thank for bitchin' hits like 'Smokin' Aces' and 'Corky Romano'). Even coupling the actions scenes with chart topping hits like, ‘Move bitch, get out the way’ fail to bring any sort of emotion to the viewer. Now, not everything was so bad, Jason Bateman plays Ray, the guy without character flaws who just wants to save the world and believes so much in Hancock that he uses his PR skills to change out Los Angeles sees him (I’m not sure why though, the sober Hancock is even less fun than drunk Hancock. His comedic timing is spot on, just like all his other endeavors (bring back Arrested Development!) .

Charlize Theron plays Ray’s wife Mary, who spends a lot of time gazing at Hancock with a worried look…might she have something to hide?! We all know she has the chops to deliver a solid performance, but maybe she was as bored with the script as I was and played Mary with such lackluster, I was actually entertained at how little she seemed to care.

There are some plot developments, twists we’ll call them (although they’re not really interesting enough to be called twists, more like little bends in the plot line) that aren’t completely obvious, but aren’t really engaging either. If you’re dead set on watching this movie as most Smith fans will be, see this while it’s still in theaters, I shudder to think how even more deeply underwhelming it will be on your 32′ TV.

Rottentomatoes: 37% - Cream of the Crop: 38%

Remember: I'm moving my blog to www.bitchinfilmreviews.com, so go over there! And change your links or bookmarks. Thanks!

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'm Back

After a brief hiatus, I'm back in the blogosphere. I had surgery last week and chose to not try and write anything coherent while under the influence of various drugs meant to ease my pain.

Also, I've started a website outside of the world of blogspot. It's definitely a work in progress, but I'm going to post my reviews there as well as here for a while. Check it out if you get a chance: http://bitchinfilmreviews.com.


God knows I really wish I remember watching this film. As it were, I can't remember very well since I had just had surgery and was enjoying (perhaps a little too much) my oxycodone prescription when I saw 'WALL-E.'

Maybe it's for the best as I'm usually a naysayer when it comes to animated films. I didn't so much enjoy 'Toy Story' or 'Monsters Inc.' I did like 'The Incredibles' a whole lot. That movie was great. It's this hit-and-miss record that made me nervous to pay money to see PIXAR's latest.

I do remember enjoying myself. I remember vague references to 'E.T.' and Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey.' I also remember a whole lot of fat humans. Even through my hazy, pain-killer high, I saw the ruthless satire of an indulgent society bent on ruining earth in favor of watching some sort of screen (tv, computer, iPod, etc.). Had I not been so relaxed, I probably would have been annoyed at PIXAR judging me, but at the time it seemed fitting, deserved, and terrifically entetaining. I remember laughing at WALL-E and his comical adventure that eventually returns all the fatso humans back to earth to clean up the mess they left.

So, yeah. I probably wouldn't have enjoyed this movie without my Percocet, but it was vastly entertaining. You haven't been this endeared by a robot since...ever.

Friday, July 4, 2008

From the Library: Enduring Love

Occasionally I will be reviewing films from my DVD library. This--is the first.

'Enduring Love' is one of those movies that will stay with you long after the credits finish rolling. This is in large part thanks, no doubt, to Ian McEwan, the author of the book from which this film is adapted. Anyone familiar with McEwan's work recognizes the power of his written word. His book 'Atonement' also inspired the 2007 Oscar contender. Scriptwriter Joe Penhall (who wrote the script for this fall's much anticipated 'The Road) is credited with 'Enduring Love's' adaptation.

'Love' is directed by Roger Michell (The Mother, Notting Hill) and was released in 2004. He wastes no time showing is talent at creating raw energy and suspense. In the first scene of the film, a quiet meadow is disturbed by a hot air balloon with two passengers ripping through out of control. The only witnesses (including Joe, played by Daniel Craig, and Jed, played by Rhys Ifan) rush to the aid of these two, attempting to pull the balloon down to safety. Just as the task is almost accomplished, a burst of air takes sends the balloon airborne again. The group of men hanging on to the basket hang on as long as they can, but each drops to the ground as they raise higher and higher. All, except one man, who clings on as they float higher and higher. Eventually he drops from a terrific height to a gruesome death.

It's from this magnificently shot scene that the movie starts its story line. You see, Jed feels that he and Joe share an intense, personal, and erotic bond having shared this horrible experience. He quickly shows signs of obsession, showing up in Joe's life in all the strangest places. He insinuates himself deeper and deeper into Joe's life, bit by bit, showing up at odd moments and then shadowing him with a persistent desperation Joe cannot understand or escape.

The film is shot beautifully. It's worth the price of a rental if only for the opening sequence. Daniel Craig performs solidly along side Bill Nighy (who, despite his small role, can't help but steal the scenes he's in) Joe's girlfriend Claire, played by Samantha Morton, is just as entertaining to watch. However, none of these performances compare to the disturbing portrayal of Jed by Rhys Ifan. It's been a long time since I've been so creeped out by character in a film. The subtleties of his performance will haunt you.

Admittedly, the film loses control of itself as it goes along. It seems that during the last 20 minutes, somebody decided to just stop trying and resort to a level that insults the intelligence of the rest of the film. All in all, the film has some strikingly beautiful moments and certainly deserves at least one viewing.

Rated R for language, some violence and a disturbing image.

Rottentomatoes: 59% -- Cream of the Crop: 58%

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Visitor

It's difficult to summarize 'The Visitor.' When you say it's about a lonely college professor learning to play the drums, it sounds like lame. When you say it's about immigrants and their plight, it sounds lame. Yet 'The Visitor' is anything but lame.

This film is written and directed by 'The Wire's' Thomas McCarthy, and despite his inexperience in directing, this film will move you. The story follows widow Professor Walter Vale (Richard Jenkins) as he ventures into Manhattan to his rarely used apartment to attend a conference there. When he gets to his apartment, he finds that a young couple (who happen to be illegal immigrants) has been living there without his knowledge for a few months. Vale allows the young couple to stay at his place and consequently gets involved with their immigrationn and deportation issues (damn the ICE!).

Now usually, heartfelt, human-rights-message movies put me to sleep. They usually are so preachy, it's like being hit in the head over and over for the entire length of the movie. With 'The Visitor,' it's not so much that way. Instead of shouting his cause from the rooftops, McCarthy chose to let human interactions tell the story. The characters are flawed, but decent people, people you could seeing living next door to you, people you could see yourself being friends with. And because McCarthy let's the characters' action speak for them, you will actually become emotionally involved with their plight.

Both the acting and direction are of award caliber. Richard Jenkins deserves a special mention here. You've probably seen him before, his IMDB page is very impressive (my favorite is his role as the cynical, dead father on HBO's Six Feet Under). But he performance in 'The Visitor' is eerily good. Even though this only his sophomore effort, McCarthy shows a maturity that lead you to believe he's spent a lifetime behind the camera. 'The Visitor' will leave you wanting to see more from this promising director.

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Blueberry Nights

Released today on DVD is the film, 'My Blueberry Nights.' This is the first feature length English-feature film of Chinese director Kar Wai Wong. The film begins by quickly introducing us to Elizabeth (Norah Jones), our quiet, soul-searching protagonist and her cheating boyfriend. Jaded by the city that served as the backdrop of her boyfriend's betrayal, she leaves on a country-wide journey searching for...well, that's not really clear (and not really that interesting).

Her quest brings her into contact with various interesting encounters and people, including restaurant worker/love interest Jeremy (Jude Law), lonely and angry wife-of-an-alcoholic (Rachel, Weisz), and a gambling addict with daddy issues (Natalie Portman).

While the adjectives sure sound interesting, the story isn't so much. It seems that Wong tries to make up for this fact by using all sorts of unusual camera effects, such as blurred vision, overexposure, and slow motion that apparently is meant to add to atmosphere.

Despite these shortcomings, the cast is able to shine. The performances of Weisz, Law, Portman and even Norah Jones (for whom this is her film debut) are above par and allow you to forget that the story isn't that interesting.

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including violence, drinking and smoking.

Rottentomatoes score: 47%, with Top critics: 30%