Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne)

As of August 31st, I will no longer be posting here at blogspot. But come and see me at my new place over at, and update your feeds to Thanks!

If you look up this film, you're bound to read its tag line: Eight years ago, Alex's wife was murdered. Today... she e-mailed him. You may also come across words like 'thriller' combined with words like 'intense.' If I had that information before going into the theater, I would have written off Tell No One (Ne le dis à personne) as some action flick with poor acting and worse scriptwriting. It is anything, but that.

The film is based on the book of the same title by American author Harlan Coben. I haven't read the book, but with a screenplay this complex, I must read it's source material, and is now definitely on my TBR list. No One comes from director Guillaume Canet (My Idol, J'peux pas dormir) who is one of France's highest paid, and lusted after actors.

While Canet has a small role, he directs an all star cast that oozes with talent. The opening scene introduces us to Alexander Beck (François Cluzet), and his wife Margot (Marie-Josée Croze) at an idyllic, deserted lake. After laying together on the dock, Margot decides to go back to the house. Once out of view, Alex hears a scream, when he goes to check on her, he's hit in the head with a bat and falls unconscious in the water. It then cuts to 8 years later. Alex had been investigated in the disappearance/murder of his wife, but had been cleared of suspicion until some new evidence re-opened the case. He also receives a mysterious coded e-mail which leads him to a video that suggests his wife may not be dead, that the unrecognizable body they buried under the name Margot was a fake.

From that point on there are twists, and turns, and police chases, and serial killers, and conspiracies. However, although it sounds sensational, it doesn't feel that way at all. The film isn't based on these factors alone, it's based on its characters, and thanks to dedicated development we can relate and suspend our disbelief with almost no effort. While the film runs just over two hours, it certainly doesn't feel that way. Canet masterfully keeps his cast, his characters, his plot, his camera angles, and his vision in check and the result is mesmerizing and engaging. It's clear Canet took some cues from recent successful French and European thrillers like unendingly disturbing films Cache and Voorloos (The Vanishing), but he takes those cues and makes them his own.

Rottentomatoes: 91% - Cream of the Crop:95%

Although this is not an official Lit Flicks Challenge entry, it would be the perfect candidate since it's based on a book...and I saw the movie! That's all it takes folks to be involved. The challenge starts September 1st, so sign up here, and check back soon! After all, you're probably reading books, and watching movies anyway, why not win prizes for doing so?

Friday, August 29, 2008


As of August 31st, I will no longer be posting here at blogspot. But come and see me at my new place over at, and update your feeds to Thanks!

Sometimes mixing three of my favorite things isn't a good idea. For example: going to movies, sleeping, and toast: not a good combination. But in the case of Rushmore, it worked really well. Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman mix real nice.

Having finally watched this film, I've now exposed myself to Anderson's entire oeuvre (yeah, I know it's only 5 feature length films, and one short film, but still...). All were a hit except for that one misstep, 'The Life Aquatic,' and we'll pretend that never happened.

Rushmore was written through a team effort from Anderson himself and his college buddy Owen Wilson (which explains the Luke Wilson cameo). The film follows Max Fischer (played by Jason Schwartzman) and his overly ambitious endeavors at his prep school, Rushmore. This is Schwartzman's first film, and has since entertained us with his hilarity in movies like I Heart Huckabees and Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. At Rushmore, Max befriends Herman Blume (Bill Murray), the father of some of his fellow classmates, and falls in love with elementary school teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams). The three promptly fall into a quirky love triangle in classic French New Wave style.

I like to think of Wes Anderson as a sort of Tim Burton on Prozac. Not to say Anderson is any less original than Burton, but he has a totally original, distinctive, and pleasing style. His more recent projects The Darjeeling Limited, and The Royal Tenenbaums follow in the same suit.

Rushmore is hilarious and doesn't depend on the crassness and potty humor trend that comedies seem to be following these days. Murray and Schwartzman make a great team and I wish they'd work together again, (Side note: although they both haven't actually been in the same film together since, they both went on to star in films directed by Sophia Coppola who is Schwartzman's cousin. Once again, proof that all the things I love are interconnected).

I've heard this film described as a 'boy movie.' But it's not true. This film is for everyone!

Rottentomatoes: 86% - Cream of the Crop: 76%

Rated R for language and brief nudity.

(If you decide to buy this film, be sure and get the Criterion Collection edition, and read the blog 'Stuff White People Like' about Wes Anderson films.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The House Bunny

As of August 31st, I will no longer be posting here at blogspot. But come and see me at my new place over at, and update your feeds to Thanks!

Yeah, I saw it. So what? Sometimes there's nothing else out there except a Ben Stiller movie that's getting decent reviews but you hate him so, so much you've vowed never to see another of his movies again. So yeah, I saw The House Bunny.

Bunny comes to us from director Fred Wolf (who also wrote and directed 2008's Strange Wilderness, which received the dubious honor of a 0% rating on rottentomatoes...). The story follows Shelley, a Playboy bunny kicked out of the Playboy mansion when she turns 27. Without any direction in her life, she stumbles into the world of college sororities and fraternities, decides to become a house mom, and whips a bunch of misfit co-eds into slightly prettier, more shallow versions of themselves.

This film would be a complete loss if it weren't for it's star Anna Faris, who is completely hilarious. Even though they beat some of the funnier jokes to death, her comedic timing is pitch perfect, and I laughed out loud almost every time she opened her mouth (at least until the last 30 minutes when the film just completely falls flat on its face). It's really a miracle what she can do with such a shite script. She is the only reason (if there are any) to see this flick.

Wait for the DVD on this one.

Bitchin' Stars: * out of ****

Rottentomatoes: 40% - Cream of the Crop: 29%

Rated PG-13 for sex-related humor, partial nudity and brief strong language.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Being John Malkovich

As of August 31st, I will no longer be posting here at blogspot. But come and see me at my new place over at, and update your feeds to Thanks!

I'm ashamed that it's taken me so long to see this fantastic film, directed by Spike Jonze. I'm not sure what my hesitancy was in watching it, except for some bad memories of John Malkovich in that 3 musketeers movie from when I was, like, 10. Anyway, this movie blew me away.

Spike Jonze started out as a music video director. Directing videos for Bjork, the Beastie Boys, and others, he developed quite the style, which is immediately evident with his direction in Being John Malkovich. Some directors that make the Jump from music videos to film put all their effort into style, and let the content (plot lines, character development, etc.) slide (unfortunately, Tarsem falls into this catagory, even though The Fall is one of my favorite films this year). Fortunately for Jonze, Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation) wrote one helluva script that leaves you completely satisfied and yet wanting more.

The script was fresh, entertaining and wickedly funny. One of my favorite parts follows:
"Excuse me, are you John Malkovich?"

"Yes, I am."

"Wow, you're really, uh, great in that movie, where you play that retard."

"Oh, thank you very much..."

"I have a cousin who's a retard."

"...oh, thank you."

"Yeah, so, um, as you might imagine, it means a lot to me to see retards portrayed on the silver screen so... compassionately."

"Well thank you very much, I appreciate that. Good night."

Read here for more memorable quotes from the movie. If I can't convince you to see this movie, those quotes will.

All the players are remarkable. Cameron Diaz isn't even recognizable as Lotte, the frumpy wife animal-lover, that believes she's transgendered, once experiencing lovemaking with a woman from Malkovich's point of view. There's her husband Craig (John Cusack), who just wants to share his artistic vision with the world as a puppeteer and resents his wife for wanting children. There's Craig's co-worker Maxine (Catherine Keener, who is the true star of the show) who falls in love with Lotte, but only when she inhabits Malkovich. I've always felt the Academy has snubbed Catherine Keener, but they finally recognized her fantastic performance in this movie with a nomination nod. Craig discovers a small door in his office that serves as a portal to the conscious of John Malkovich. Because he's in love with her, Craig shares this with Maxine who decides to rent out the experience afterhours to those who want to be somebody else. And finally there's John Malkovich who is, as always, (except that musketeer movie) tremendous.

I can't praise Malkovich enough. It is endlessly entertaining, and I gaurantee you will lose yourself in it, if you only give it a chance.

Rottentomatoes: 92% - Cream of the Crop: 92%

Rated R for language and sexuality.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Dead Girl

I don't know why, but as I perused the aisles of Blockbuster the other night (aisles that I have practically memorized), this DVD just happened to catch my eye. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's a subconscious fascination with the morbid. Anyway, I picked up The Dead Girl and was astounded at the list of what I consider to be A-list actors, and at the fact I'd never even heard of this 2006 release.

When I saw Brittany Murphy listed, my mind made an inaudible, 'Ahhhh' (Ahhhh in the bad, disappointed way, not like the Ahhhh you make when you see puppies). But then I continued to read: Toni Collette, Giovanni Ribisi (okay, he's questionable), Rose Byrne, James Franco (who only won me over last week with his performance in Pineapple Express), Josh Brolin, Marcia Gay Harden, and several others. Then I asked ChaCha what it got on RottenTomatoes and was pleasantly surprised to find out it received 74%. This resulted in a renting. An ensemble cast like that had to at least be interesting.

The film is made up of several vignettes with simplistic titles like 'The Stranger,' 'The Mother,' 'The Dead Girl.' Each vignette varies greatly in interest (often connected to the acting talent of the main players), although all are disturbing in there own way. In the same vein as Robert Altman's Short Cuts and P.T. Anderson's Magnolia, each seemingly unrelated story ends up being related, in some way or another, to the discovery of the body of a dead girl. I definitely can't say that all parts of the film are worth watching, but some definitely are (particularly the section with Rose Byrne).

Writer/director Karen Moncrieff doesn't have much experience writing or directing (to date, she's stuck mostly with TV, including directing an episode of Six Feet Under). But still there's something to her direction, the film definitely has some shining moments. The Dead Girl failed to achieve it's lofty ambitions (I'm pretty sure the limited release on December 29th meant she had award season dreams), but deserves respect for it's attempt at originality.

Rottentomatoes: 74% - Cream of the Crop: 63%

Rated R for language, grisly images and sexuality/nudity.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lit Flicks Challenge from

My sister has a ridiculously well run book review blog at She's created a bitchin' challenge/blog festival that you should all participate in. Since she reviews books and I review film, we decided to collaborate and review the following subjects: books made into film, films made into books, film about books, books about film...really any subject that combines literature and film, hence the title of the challenge 'Lit Flicks.' And we want you to participate!

Check out all the information here. There you'll find all the rules and regulations, as well as information about how to get in on all the giveaways and activities we'll be hosting from now until Oscar month (February).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Movie Madness!

My good blogging buddy Jen is hosting Movie Madness at her site Go over there, check it out and participate in the celebration of movies!

And don't forget I'm moving my movie reviews to my very own domain name. Check it out at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Brideshead Revisited

It's difficult to compare this movie to the novel it's based off of when I've never read it. But if the film is similar to the book, I think that I'll probably pass on it (no offense to Evelyn Waugh). There is so much content shoved into this 1 hour and 40 minute film, I never really quite understood what direction Julian Jarrold wanted to go.

The first third of the film was incestuously and erotically charged (a la The Dreamers by Bernardo Bertolucci). The story follows Charles Ryder (Matthew Goode) as he begins his studies at Oxford. While there, he becomes friends with the flaming homosexual Sebastian (played ever so creepily by Ben Whishaw), who happens to be royalty, and the son of Lady Marchmain (the wickedly talented Emma Thompson who may have, with this performance, joined the ranks of royal British actresses like Judi Dench and Helen Mirren). Sebastian has a sister, Julia (Hayley Atwell). Between the two siblings is something odd, and disturbing. While Ryder experiments with Sebastian, he also becomes involved with Julia. And it's really really weird.

Then the movie quickly changes pace (don't take this to mean the pacing is quick, it's not, it's very very slow). It's as if Evelyn Waugh decided to stop writing about homoerotic skinny dipping in the estate's pond, and decides to pontificate on her feelings about the church... You see, Ryder is an atheist (no, not agnostic which would be more acceptable, but atheist) who is living in sin with a man, but wants to marry Julia, which Lady Marchmain, the extremely pious and self-righteous Catholic simply can't put up with.

As the rest of the plot unfolds, the piousness of Lady Marchmain and her children's fear of disappointing her ruin life after life, and there's sub-plot after sub-plot that just sort of loses the viewer. Is this about sex (can it really be about sex with a PG-13 rating)? Is it about the evils of the Church of England and Catholicism? Is it about something deeper? I can't tell!

It's not that the movie isn't beautiful. Filming locations are remarkable, giving it such a grandiose, and beautiful feel, that you can't help but be transported back into that time. The real pride of the film is in the acting. Emma Thompson (as mentioned before) steals the show and every scene she's in. The younger actors shine as well. Matthew Goode, who has shown us his talents in bigger films like Woody Allen's Match Point, and lesser known indies like The Lookout, proves he can carry a film as the leading man.

While this movie isn't fantastic, I'd suggest a viewing, given the fact the pickin's are kind of slim right now. Maybe Waugh fans will catch lots of meaning that I managed to miss. Do watch the trailer though, it's great!

Rottentomatoes: 68% - Cream of the Crop: 69%

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

This movie blows. I'm embarassed I paid $8.25 to see it. I'm embarassed I invited a good friend, and my brother-in-law. Admittedly, we went for the sole purpose of poking fun, but nevertheless... I'm embarassed for Brendan Fraiser and Jet Li's CGI-ed face that morphs into a three headed dragon, and even more embarassed for the yetis representing Jesus taking mortally wounded Fraiser to a pool of magical water where a bath (or baptism-you say tomato, I say toe-mah-toe) saves his life.

The most entertaining part of this movie is that people actually don't understand why Rachel Weisz didn't reprise her role for this third installment. Hahahhahahahahahah.

Don't go see this movie. Go see Mamma Mia, or that movie about girls that share pants.

Rottentomatoes: 9% - Cream of the Crop: 10%

James Taylor

In a rare deviation from the usual pedantic ramblings about films no one really cares about, I'm going to mix this blog up.

I'm not sure how to review concerts. I don't know much about music unless it's obscure Canadian post-rock bands, or misunderstood Icelandic geniuses.

What I do know, is that the James Taylor concert on Monday was bitchin'. Cindy gave me an early birthday present and we witnessed the musical deity play for a hearty two and a half hours at the outdoor Amphitheater in Kaysville. Never have I been so entertained by a 60 year old man scatting blues songs making jokes just like my dad ('...I was abroad for a year. Wait, that didn't come out right...). Plus, hearing the music I grew up on live was more meaningful than even the Celine Dion concert I attended last year (and she even sang 'My Heart Will Go On').

All this magic was preceded by a wickedly delicious (okay, not delicious, but hilarious) and entertaining dinner at Hooter's (please visit our local Hooters on the corner of State St. and 7200 S. in Salt Lake, business seemed a little slow).

What a bitchin' night.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Beat My Heart Skipped

France's 2005 thriller De Battre Mon Coeur s'est Arrete (The Beat My Heart Skipped) is one of those movies you just shouldn't miss. It's a shame that subtitles will scare away so many from such a fantastic film.

Based on the book by Tonino Benacquista, directed by Parisian Jacques Audiard, this movie seems to come out of nowhere and grab you by the balls. The first time I saw this movie was in 2005, the year it was released, but a recent re-viewing reminded me of just how bitchin' Heart is.

The plot follows our protagonist Thomas Seyr, as he follows in his bastard of a father's footsteps making money in shady real estate deals. Some may term these deals 'criminal,' but hey, this is France, they let 12 year-olds drink and smoke. It becomes clear he has a history of studying the piano (obviously due to his deceased mother) and an opportunity presents itself to 27 year-old Tom to take up the piano again, possibly to a professional level, or continue on his current path of crime.

His father (who makes Tom often do his dirty work) manipulates his son into believing he must choose between music and family. The occasional shitty best friend and love interest make appearances and play their parts as well. The plot may sound simple enough, but Audiard is to directing what Thom Yorke is to post-rock. Audiard makes this movie so compelling you can't take your eyes off the damn screen, and you won't want to either. All performance are first-rate, making some scenes pretty difficult to watch because they're so believable (lead Romain Duris is freakishly gifted).

The cinematography is brilliant, the camera movements, angles, the images captured in each shot make on-screen poetry. All this is coupled with one of my favorite soundtracks ever. It's a masterful score that puts the icing on the cake, mixing classical ranging from Rachmaninoff and Brahms to Bloc Party to Telepopmusik's 'Breathe,' creating a feel and atmosphere you won't be able to forget. Tom reminds us in the film, 'it's not about making money, it's about art.' And Audiard never forgot that.

While the film's not rated, be prepared for elements. No nudity (sorry pervs), but language and violence would probably warrant an R rating from Fascist censor Nazis at the MPAA.

Rottentomatoes: 85% - Cream of the Crop: 78%

Finding a decent quality trailer for this film on YouTube was kind of hard. So I posted a couple, one in French that I think has better editing, one with writing at least in English (you can pretend it's that deep voiced guy that says stuff like, 'In a world, where nothing else matters...), and one where a guy put a bunch of the film's scenes to a Radiohead song that I liked. So, enjoy!