5.31.2010

182: Eleven Minutes

Eleven Minutes (PG) - 2008 - Runtime: 103 minutes
Starring: Jay McCarroll
Director: Michael Selditch, Robert Tate

I have to confess that I'm a big fan of Project Runway. It's one of the few reality shows I follow quite religiously. I don't consider myself into fashion, nor do I have a great fashion sense, but the series has always been one of the few honest competition shows. It's more about talent than anything else. There's drama, but it always takes a back seat to the fashion. And I can't help myself, I like seeing the dresses come down the runway and being able to judge the merits of the dress. So, when I heard a documentary was finally coming out on DVD that showcases PR's first season winner, Jay, I was super stoked. Maggie had already seen it on TV when it first came out, but I didn't get a chance to see it. And I think if you're at all into fashion or PR, you have to see this documentary.

The movie follows Jay's journey to showcase a collection for a runway show. It's quite amazing how much work was put into just eleven minutes that pretty much makes or breaks someone's career. There's a lot of stress in the movie and it almost seems that the directors wanted to make a villain out of certain people. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but I feel like they wanted to come from a certain angle, rather than just observe. But that doesn't detract from the main event that is Jay. If you don't like McCarroll at all, then you probably won't like this movie at all. He has a perverted sense of humor which I find highly amusing - I was laughing quite a bit throughout.

And I loved the fashion - he's edgy and a bit out of control. You get the sense he's almost too weird and artsy for high fashion - but that makes it all the more reason to root for Jay. He's a real down to earth guy that doesn't care about being open and honest about his feelings. It's real fun to watch how he interacts with other professionals and what he has to say when they're out of the picture.

It's a fantastic look at how it all goes down and the brown nosing that needs to occur in order to be successful as a start up venture in fashion. I loved every minute of this documentary and wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to anyone!

Rating: Rent It!

182: The French Connection

The French Connection (R) - 1971 - Runtime: 104 minutes
Starring: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider
Director: William Friedkin

I've always heard nothing but high praise for this movie and when I found it at Blockbuster for $3.99 (the two-disc version to boot!) I had to pick it up! The only thing I really heard was how awesome the car chase scene was and that's about it. But the movie is much more than that one chase scene. It's a good thriller that's made even better by the two cops who are in charge of the investigation.


Police detectives "Popeye" Doyle and Buddy Russo find themselves caught up in an investigation that involves a huge drug shipment coming from France. The movie is their subsequent work on exposing this shipment and taking down all those involved. It all plays out wonderfully and that famous car chase scene (although it's really a car and an elevated train) is pretty fantastic, but not exactly awesome. But once you find out that most of the stunts are real and not jazzed up after the fact, it's simply a jaw-dropping cinematic feat. Aside from that action, there's two very different, but very close detectives. Doyle is brash, crude and will shoot a man in the back (like in the poster) if he has to for justice. Russo is more guarded and hesitant to fire off his gun and his mouth. They work well together and it's like a well-oiled machine as to how they operate. Hackman is at his best here and so is Scheider (I'm starting to like this dude!). While the plot isn't exactly intricate or hard to follow, it's cool to watch how it all plays out. There's a lot of good scenes of tension and thrills, which is what the movie is really all about.

A fun ride and deserving of all the accolades! I can't wait to sit down and watch this one again - it was a blast to watch and certainly one to own!

Rating: Own It!

182: Jaws

Jaws (PG) - 1975 - Runtime: 124 minutes
Starring: Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss
Director: Steven Spielberg

Jaws is the movie that started it all and gave Hollywood its first blockbuster and ushered in the modern movie making business of "high concept" movies: a film that can be sold on a simple premise. It's surprising I haven't seen this movie, it's right up my alley, but we just never crossed paths. It's not like you'll happen to stumble upon it on TV, either. Well, I'm glad I finally sat down to watch it, because this is a good thrill ride of a movie that holds up well after thirty years.

Jaws is a simple movie to understand: one huge ass shark is terrorizing the local beach town that relies heavily on its tourist economy. Of course, the film has all the usual trappings of this kind of genre (probably some of the first!): the reluctant hero, the evil city councilmen who look the other way at their impending doom, the rugged hunter espousing wisdom and the nerdy scientist who just wants to make it big with this new discovery. So it's not really the plot that's the focus, but rather how this rag tag group of different men try to hunt down this giant shark. The movie has its share of suspense, especially when the city isn't quite aware of how dangerous it is to be in the water. Kids are obvious bait for this kind of suspense, but it still works! The best part of the movie is the latter half when all three men take out to sea to see the demise of the underwater terror. There's enough animosity between all three of them, but they share a common enemy and it's an effective way to drive forward the story.

Of course, all three main characters are pretty solid - I think Roy Scheider is so good in this movie. He's the new sheriff in town and has to cut his teeth on this monster. It's pretty ballsy stuff they're doing in the movie and Robert Shaw's characters seems like he can handle three or four of these great whites. And Richard Dreyfuss pretty much personifies the nerd. All three of them have their moments in the movie and of course it's pretty fantastic how it all goes down. The shark is still quite terrifying in my mind even though I know it's just a puppet. I can't imagine what it would have looked now if they used CGI, but the idea of the actors acting with something as big and real as the shark in this movie more than holds its own against any special effects.

It's a great movie and worth owning - the special features on the DVD are interesting and the movie is such good popcorn fare that I can't help but giving it my highest praise!

Rating: Own It!

182: Akira

Akira (R) - 1988 - Runtime: 124 minutes
Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo

I've always been intrigued by this movie. I've pretty much stayed on the periphery of anime. It's a genre that I think is too spastic and weird. It's probably mostly due to something lost in the translation. But sometimes there are gems (like Spirited Away and Ghost in the Shell) and I think Akira stands above them all as far as story, characters and just plain epicness. It's a unique tale, but doesn't stray too far from a typical sci-fi epic. A live action version is in the works (and has been for at least fifteen years) and I think it would translate well to the big screen with CGI effects galore.

The story is set in the future where World War III has happened and Tokyo has been decimated by a nuclear attack. It's a brutal landscape where the government tries to quell revolutionaries and the police works hard to break up gang warfare. The story centers around Kaneda and Tetsuo, a pair of bikers who are caught up in a gang war between other bikers. During a chase, Tetsuo accidentally runs literally into an escaped prisoner, who happens to be an experimental psychic weapon being tested by the government (trust me, it makes much more sense in the movie!). Tetsuo ends up in the hands of the government and is experimented on as well. The ensuing story takes off as the Tetsuo becomes more and more powerful and tries to take out all of Tokyo and Japan. The movie has a broad stroke, but isn't afraid to take the time and delve into the characters. The best epic movies are not necessarily about the plot or the vast scope of the narrative, but the cast of characters. And Akira has an incredible palette of interesting and very real characters. It's a testament to the writing and the source material that it's based on. It's easy to connect to Kaneda and Tetsuo as they find themselves becoming bitter enemies.

The movie isn't without its flaws, however. Sometimes the movie is too big for its own good. There's just so much going on and so many characters that it's hard at times to follow. It's almost necessary to have a repeat viewing to understand all that's happening (or just use Wikipedia like I did). Of course, as with most anime, sometimes the voice work and dialogue veers towards cheesy when a simple look would do. But these are minor quibbles in a movie that delivers solidly on action and character. I'm actually excited to read the graphic novel it's based on, which is certainly the highest praise a movie can get in my opinion! If you're at all a sci-fi fan, you owe it to yourself to check it out and watch it over and over again!

Rating: Own It!

5.30.2010

The Homestretch!


Only five weeks left to finish what I started waaay back in July of 2009! I've actually had to cut back on some of my goals in order to justify watching other movies that I really wanted to see. So instead of watching 10 westerns like I promised, I cut it back to 8. My whole tally goes something like this now:
Classics (30), Cult Classics (8), Book Adaptations (10), Foreign (8), Horror (8), Western (8), Musicals (5), Documentaries (5), Kevin Bacon (6), Maggie's Pick (1), Oscar (9), Suggestions (18), Other (66)

Whew, that's a lot! I added Oscar movies because I've been trying to make a point to watch all the best picture nominees since 2006. And out of 182 movies, I've seen 164! Granted, a big majority of those are ones I would have watched anyways, but there's at least a 100 movies I would normally not have seen in the list. I'm actually projecting to go over my total of 182, simply because there is so many movies I wanted to see anyway on top of watching the classics, etc.

I haven't been posting any reviews lately, but I promise to rectify that by writing at least two or three everyday from now on (I have about 30 to write!). It's a pretty good feeling - this blog has been more to satisfy myself than anyone and I feel like have accomplished a pretty tremendous goal already!

5.21.2010

182: The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath (NR) - 1940 - Runtime: 128 minutes
Starring: Henry Fonda
Director: John Ford

Everytime I say "The Grapes of Wrath" in my head, I get the Facts of Life theme song stuck in my head but the words are replaced - "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the grapes of wrath! The grapes of wrath!" Not to belittle this movie (or the book, of which I have not read, unlike 99% of America who passed the ninth grade. What can I say? I lived in backwoods Ohio apparently where such liberal minded books could not be appreciated). So after watching the most depressing movie on the planet I thought I'd better take a bottle of Prozac if I wanted to get through this one. Surprisingly, despite the subject matter I was not sad but instead I was thoroughly entranced by this movie (I don't know if that's the right word, but what the hell!) and found myself rooting for the Joads to find happiness out west.

The movie follows the Joads' journey from Oklahoma to the promised land that is California. After the banks seize their land, the Joad family finds itself having to head west in search of a better life. Henry Fonda plays Tom, who just got out of prison for killing a man and joins his family on their journey. I don't know why I was so into this movie - maybe it's the general idea of the American spirit and all the cheese that comes with that phrase: picking yourself up by your bootstraps and all that nonsense. I found it an inspiring movie and it really holds up well after seventy years. Obviously, it can be said that a lot of the themes found in the movie are especially resonate these past few years and it's completely true. I guess the best part of the movie captures the whole experience of the Depression era, but one that doesn't end on a bitter note or condemnation of America. In fact, the movie is quite the opposite - there's always a ray of silver lining on the horizon for the Joads.

It's quite an ambitious film and it's does a great job of focusing in on one family's ordeal after being supplanted from their home. I thought Henry Fonda was excellent as Tom and the supporting cast was just as good. They all delivered a believable family with flaws and ambitions. I really can't explain why this movie got to the me the way it did, but I really, really enjoyed it. I want to read the book now and I think that's the highest praise you can get for a movie adaptation. It's a movie that I could sit down and watch over and over again.

Rating: Own It!

182: A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire (PG) - 1951 - Runtime: 122 minutes
Starring: Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden
Director: Elia Kazan

This is one of those movie I really wasn't looking forward to. I kept putting off this movie when I rented it twice! I will admit that I had really no clue as to what the movie is about. I just know most of Tennessee Williams' plays are full of depressing characters who I have no interest in finding out what happens to them. But this movie adaptation is considered a classic and despite the great performances, I couldn't help myself but start browsing the web on Maggie's pink laptop during the next hour. It was dull and utterly depressing.

Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister in New Orleans, trying to escape her dark past. But this only ends up becoming a nightmare for Blanche as her brutish brother-in-law torments her and she slowly starts to lose her mind. It's a pretty depressing tale that I couldn't find myself getting into. I didn't care about any of the characters because I just didn't understand any of their motivations. I get that Blanche is a bit disturbed and it's says a lot about the times because she really just needs some support, but no one wants to help. It's just a movie where I don't get it: I don't get Stanley and Stella's relationship, nor do I sympathise with Blanche at all. Part of me feels like Stanley when Blanche starts to dither on about her fantasies - I just wanted to shake her and tell her to shut up and find a job! C'mon!

Apart from the horrible plot that had me falling asleep, the acting was good. Brando is good at playing the tough guy and here it's no different. Stanley to me, is a caricature of a drunken slob, but Brando manages to make it more that that - I feel like Stanley has his own issues but we're not privy to. And Vivien Leigh knows how to play demented. I felt completely awkward during that famous scene where she's tries to seduce the paperboy. It's utterly squeamish and that's mostly due to her performance.

The movie back in the day was censored dramatically but I watched the restored version where there's a clear indication of rape and references to Blanche's dead husband as being gay. It's quite remarkable to think how far we've come because all these censored scenes are considered to be PG now. Not gonna lie, I was reading the wikipedia article while watching the movie (sooo boring!) and thought the article was way more interesting. So I'm gonna just let y'all know that I didn't like this movie and that I wouldn't recommend it, unless you have a thing for mental disorders, Brando in a wife beater or hot paperboy lip action.

Rating: Not Worth Paying For!

5.13.2010

182: Friday

Friday (R) - 1995 - Runtime: 91 minutes
Starring: Ice Cube, Chris Tucker
Director: F. Gary Gray

I was super excited to see this one, considered to be a cult classic and one of the best stoner movies ever. So when I popped it in and after an hour and a half, I found myself wondering if I needed to be high to really enjoy this movie.

The movie is about Ice Cube and Chris Tucker who have nothing better to do than sit on the front porch, get high and watch what happens in the neighborhood. The plot is irrelevant for the most part - the movie's more about the characters and neighborhood shenanigans. I don't know why this movie is considered a comedy, because I would put this movie in the drama department. Sure, there's some funny moments in the movie, but it's all overshadowed by the Do the Right Thing-vibe throughout. In fact, this movie has more in common with that Spike Lee joint than Cheech & Chong. I mean, the best stoner movies are at least entertaining enough to be watched while not high and this is not the case with Friday.

Maybe I didn't get it, but there were far too few jokes and a lot of them seemed pretty lame (the midget neighbor who finds his wife cheating on him and then goes on his little midget rampage was one of the low points of the movie). Like I said, I think it would be hilarious if I was high, but even then I think I would start getting the munchies and ditch this movie. And as for the pot smoking? One scene! That's it and it's over with in a few minutes. It's pretty lame and I was wondering why everyone thinks this movie is so funny. I guess they've never watched it straight. So I say ditch this movie and watch a much better stoner movie like Dude, Where's My Car? and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle!

Rating: Avoid Like the Plague!

182: Aguirre, the Wrath of God

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (NR) - 1972 - Runtime: 93 minutes
Starring: Klaus Kinski
Director: Werner Herzog

This is one of my cult classics movies that I was looking forward to. First, it has Werner Herzog, who now has claim to being a popular internet meme. But he's also a good director! He's done sooo many movies - of only a couple I've seen (Grizzly Man, Encounters at the End of the World and Rescue Dawn) - and have really enjoyed his unique point of view. Second, I really enjoy movies about expeditions, particularly to find ancient civilizations of untold wealth (read The Lost City of Z and Pandora in the Congo if you haven't!). So even with the unheard of cast, I knew I was in for a treat. And while the movie wasn't particularly awesome, I found it nonetheless captivating.

The movie is based very loosely on a sixteenth century expedition to find El Dorado, the legendary city of gold down the Amazon river. The expedition is lead by Pizarro who, after struggling through the thick jungle, orders a smaller scouting group to go on ahead down the river on rafts to find what lies ahead. He puts Pedro de Ursúa in charge of the group and second-in-command is Lope de Aguirre. Well, of course the mission doesn't go exactly as planned and Aguirre sparks a mutiny and continues down the Amazon, all the while growing madder and losing most of his sanity.

It's a tale about greed and power and also sanity. There's a lot going on despite the minimalist plot and location. The movie takes place mainly on the raft as they drift endlessly through the jungle. It's a bit of Heart of Darkness in that when left to their own devices, these men will stoop to the lowest of the low. Corruption and insanity are the norm. It's a quick movie that is over before you know it and I really enjoyed the performance by Kinski - he's got a bit of madness in his eyes that makes you wonder. I'm torn between recommending this one or not - it's a great movie, but I really don't think it's an absolute must see. You have to like the subject matter and be in for a meandering movie that's more about the men on the raft than the actual journey. So I'd say rent it if you the subject matter at all intrigues you!

Rating: Rent It!

182: The Godfather, Part II

The Godfather Part II (R) - 1974 - Runtime: 200 minutes
Starring: Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton
Director: Francis Ford Coppola


I was hoping for a really, really good movie after I watched the first Godfather, a movie I did enjoy, but thought it was waaay overhyped. I've heard the the second part is even better, so I was really hoping to be won over and really enjoy this one. But alas, I was sorely disappointed by the meandering, hard to follow plot and the extreme melodrama involved with the Corleone family.

The plot pretty much takes off where the first movie ended and Michael Corleone is in charge of the family affairs in Nevada of all places. He finds himself caught up in an assassination plot that was put together by another rival boss, a Jewish man named Hyman Roth. The movie deals with their struggle for power and also flashes back to Michael's dad's (played this time by Robert De Niro) early years of his rise to prominence and power in New York. I found myself enjoying the flashbacks a lot more than Michael's problems. It was just really interesting to see how things came about for Vito and his struggle from being a wanted man in Sicily to a renewed man in America as an Italian immigrant. It's a great story to tell and I'm glad they told it in this movie, otherwise I would have been extremely upset at the waste of time I spent with Michael Corleone.

There are several problems I have with the main plot of this movie. First of all, the location is Nevada. Not even Las Vegas, Nevada but a ranch out in Lake Tahoe. This setting is not nearly as captivating or relatable as the thriving metropolis of New York. It's just dull and I found myself wondering where all the people were and how can you build an empire when you're surrounded by desert? It seemed lacking.

My second problem with the movie? The "villain" is an old, old Jewish man who seems to have an endless supply of goons. What I don't get is that why doesn't Michael just wait for the old man to wither and die - he's clearly on his last breath. Yes, he tried to kill Michael, but that's only because he's got traitors in his midst. If he just takes care of his own business and holes up for maybe one year, then he can really take over New York again if he wanted. The whole conflict pales in comparison to the five families that are struggling for power in the first movie.

And third, I found the family problems to take second hand to the mafia problems. Which is too bad, because I think there was some great stuff to portray about his wife and family who are caught up in all this. Sure, there's some scenes that deal with his wife leaving him and taking the kids, but it came out of nowhere and there's wasn't enough to really make me feel too bad about things. There's just too much going on and of course this plotline gets second fiddle.

All in all, it wasn't a bad movie - once again the acting is fantastic - but I wouldn't sit down to watch this movie again, whereas I would with the Godfather. In fact, this movie made me appreciate the first one even more - mainly because of how dull the conflict is, but also because of the flashbacks to Vito's early life. I thought that fleshed out a lot of great character development. It's a good backstory and I really do appreciate the first movie! But I don't think I would ever watch this one again.

Rating: Not Worth Paying For!

182: Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass (R) - 2010 - Runtime: 117 minutes
Starring: Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, Mark Strong, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Oh my god this movie is aptly titled! I had expected great things from this movie and it delivered. It's sure to be a cult classic in ten years and it's too bad that a lot of critics didn't like it. I feel like this movie is more for my generation than the older crowd. There's so much to love here that it's going to be hard writing a review without gushing too much. But by far, it's the best movie I've seen so far this year.

Dave Lizewski is your typical geek who pretty much lives through pop culture - comic books, movies, etc. He finds himself questioning what direction he's taking in life and decides to don a mask and name himself a superhero - Kick-Ass. His first encounter with real crime leaves him on the edge of death - but leaves him with a renewed sense of energy and direction - and a pretty ridged body because of all the reconstruction the doctors did on his bones. His next encounter with a group of thugs ends up becoming a You Tube sensation thanks to an onlooker's camera phone. Soon, everyone is talking about his alter-ego but there's trouble brewing with the local mob boss who happens to think Kick-Ass is a real threat because of some other super-hero type wannabes played by Chloe Moretz and Nicolas Cage.

It's a great set up for some over-the-top action and funny moments. Aaron Johnson plays the geek well but doesn't make him out to be a one-note character or stereotype. I truly believed every bit of his performance and as for the rest of the cast? Just frickin' awesome! I don't like Nicolas Cage too much, but he's really good at playing the geek dad bent on revenge and Chloe Moretz? She steals the movie - from her foul mouth to her fantastic set of moves and style - it all works and there's some great scenes that I truly believe are some of the best action sequences I've seen in a long time. No joke! Mark Strong is great as the villain (as he was in Sherlock Holmes) and Mintz-Plasse plays another geek who gets overshadowed by everyone else in the movie. It's too bad because I think there's a lot of potential for him to be an awesome character in this world.

Which leads me to the ending - it's pretty much perfect and there's a whole lot of build up to it that you're itching for it to come and it pays off! Plus! The movie is perfectly set up for a sequel which I hope they do because this could become such a great franchise. The humor is there, the action is well-choreographed (and I can actually see what's happening!) and the characters are people I want to learn more about. It's such a good movie and I wouldn't hesitate to call this the best movie of the year!

Rating: See It!

182: Brazil

Brazil (R) - 1985 - Runtime: 132 minutes
Starring: Jonathan Pryce, Katherine Helmond, Robert De Niro
Director: Terry Gilliam

I've only seen a couple Terry Gilliam movies, but I'm a big fan. I think 12 Monkeys is perhaps one of the greatest sci-fi flicks of all time. I even enjoyed the critical and financial bomb, The Brothers Grimm. I've always been meaning to check out his older movies because he's such a creative force in cinema. You really need to watch his movies a couple of times to appreciate all the ideas floating around. With that said, I feel like I'm going to need a second and third viewing of Brazil to fully comprehend and enjoy all the intricacies going on.

Brazil is set in a dystopian future where government bureaucratic red tape rules the land and everyone is obsessed with consumerism. It's a fairly distinct future and one that's offbeat and humorous. There's lots of little gags like a woman holding a picket sign that says "Christians for consumerism" and the cumbersome apartment buildings in which in order to fix any problem you need to fill out twenty or so forms. The movie follows Sam Lowry, a government bureaucrat himself, who has been having some very enlightening dreams in which he tries to save a woman. He gets caught up in a messy situation in which a very literal bug has screwed up two separate lives - one of which is considered a terrorist. The government intervenes and kills an innocent person because of this screw up and Sam delves deeper into the case. He ends up finding the woman in his dreams involved in the case and eventually finds himself an enemy of the state.

That's a lot of info to gather and I think that's why I really love this movie - there's is so much going on it's hard to take it all in during one sit down. I loved the atmosphere - there's lots of dark and noir-ish themes and set pieces, but all with a twisted sense of humor. Robert De Niro plays the terrorist whose identity has been switched with an innocent person - but he's more or less a hero because of his anti-government agenda. Supposedly he's part of the terrorist bombings that keep happening that kill dozens and hurt more.

Despite the heavy plot and dark undertones, the film is still quite funny. Sam's relationship with his overbearing and vain mother is funny. At one point she's seen getting literally a new face - the skin is pulled from her face like putty (a pretty disturbing and hilarious scene). And the absurdness of all the paperwork involved in day-to-day activities is hilarious but full of meaning. I really did enjoy this movie and it's going to take another viewing or two to really appreciate it.

Rating: Own It!

5.05.2010

182: Some Like I t Hot

Some Like It Hot (PG) - 1959 - Runtime: 120 minutes
Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon
Director: Billy Wilder

I've been wanting to rent this movie even before I started this project. I'd always say to Maggie that I should get it (much to her annoyance - "Just get it already!"), but I was never really in the mood to watch it. This movie is considered a classic in its own right and deservedly so. It's a comedy that still stands the test of time and although not necessarily a movie that I found myself laughing out loud, but I was smiling most of the time.

Tony Curits and Jack Lemmon play Joe & Jerry, two musicians who get mixed up in gang business. Not entirely their fault, because they're wanted by the mob for witnessing a mob hit. And the only way to flee town is through a travelling all-women's band. Unfortunately that means they have to pretend they're women, too: "Joesphine" and "Daphne." It's a great set up for some wonderful comedy. I'm not entirely sure how original this movie was when it came out, but variations of this movie have been around for a long time (one of the most successful, although not involving drag, is Wedding Crashers that I can think of). The movie sets up a romantic interest in Marilyn Monroe's ditzy character, Sugar. Monroe is actually pretty good in this role - she comes off as a bombshell, but pretty innocent and ditzy at the same time. And of course, Curtis and Lemmon are fantastic as the odd couple who have to adjust to being ladies. Joe falls for Sugar and has to maintain two different roles: "Josephine" and "Junior," a wealthy millionaire who is everything Sugar desires.

There's a lot of great moments, especially with Lemmon, who seems to be fitting into his role as Daphne a bit too well. He's managed to charm the pants off (almost quite literally) a wealthy millionaire himself. There's a lot of physical comedy and I really did enjoy the movie. It's still funny and there's good payoff with all the character's and the plot. It's almost a perfect comedy except for a somewhat rushed ending where Sugar just accepts Joe as he is, despite his dubious shenanigans. If you haven't seen this classic, it's worth a rental!

Rating: Rent It!

5.04.2010

182: Date Night

Date Night (PG-13) - 2010 - Runtime: 88 minutes
Starring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey
Director: Shawn Levy

I had been anticipating this movie ever since I saw the trailer last year. It seemed like another fun movie with some light action and of course, the always hip and cool Tina Fey and Steve Carell. Throw in a bunch of cameos from Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Kristen Wiig, William Fichtner and Mila Kunis and it's guaranteed to bring the laughs. And so it did, just maybe not as big as I thought they would.

Carell and Fey play a couple who seem to have hit a brick wall when it comes to their relationship. Every week they have a date night, but it ends up always being the same experience. Until one night when they decide to mix it up. All hell breaks loose when they're mistaken for another couple who seem to be in a lot of trouble. It's a good setup and the movie is pretty good but, like most other reviews have said, the comedy is elevated to whole other level because of Fey and Carell. They're really good together and they have such good comedic timing. The same goes for the supporting actors - Wahlberg plays the macho know it all that seems to always be shirtless. And Franco and Kunis play the real couple who's identity had been stolen - they're great as a couple of misfits - it's probably one of the best and funniest scenes in the movie.

The action was pretty good, too and the plot serves itself well - I was invested as to where the movie was going, even if it was a bit predictable. I laughed a lot and that's always good, right? I wouldn't say it's the funniest movie I've seen this year (Hot Tub Time Machine and She's Out of My League are taking those honors)  If you haven't seen it, you should check it out!

Rating: See It!

182: Carrie

Carrie (R) - 1976 - Runtime: 98 minutes
Starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, John Travolta
Director: Brian De Palma

I've never really been a fan of horror movies. It's partly because they are scary (yes, I'm a pansy) and partly because most of the horror movies in the past 10 years are not really interesting save for a few. Like Hostel and many others, the modern horror movie tends to shock, rather than terrify. That's not to say I've neglected the genre: The Descent and 28 Days Later are two of my favorite movies. So this is why I've decided to watch horror movies - I've actually never seen most of the classics and what better way than Brian De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's popular novel?

As with most horror movies, the story is simple, but the underlying themes and metaphors are much more complex. The movie starts off as probably a high school girl's worst nightmare: she has her first period in the girl's locker room and doesn't know what it means. Her mother is a complete religious nutjob who thinks that a woman's period is proof of sinning. The girls mock and taunt her all the while throwing tampons in her face. It's truly disgusting, but it's effective at conveying Carrie's emotional collapse. I was completely horrified by the opening sequence - a juxtaposition between the naked, playful girls in the locker room against the eventual nastiness of their mockery. Of course, this moment triggers Carrie's possibly uncontrollable psychic abilities. She continues to get tormented, leading up the climax of the movie where she unleashes hell's own version of prom night.

Despite being in the horror section, the movie has more to do with high school and the agony associated with not fitting in. I really enjoyed the movie, although it's funny, I guess I'm used to blood and guts so when the queen bitch gets killed in a car crash because of Carrie, it seemed kind of anti-climactic. I wanted to see her decapitated or something truly gruesome. Oh well - the implications of what she does in the gym are truly horrific. No one is spared her wrath, save one girl who gets out in time (the only well-intentioned girl in the movie). There's a lot of scenes with her crazy mother, almost one too many scenes, actually and it got on my nerves, but I enjoyed the ending thoroughly. The movie does do a good job of mixing the cheese with the supernaturally scary, though.

If you haven't seen this classic, it's definitely worth checking out! Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie are fantastic in their roles. I don't think we'll ever see a movie as graphic and bare about high school anxiety again like this one.

Rating: Rent It!

5.02.2010

182: Rain Man

Rain Man (R) - 1988 - Runtime: 133 minutes
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise
Director: Barry Levinson

Another suggestion, this time from a co-worker. She was absolutely flabbergasted that I had not seen this movie. It's just that it was never on my radar, but I'm glad I finally checked it out - it's a great movie.

Tom Cruise is Charlie Babbitt, a fast-dealing salesman who's father has just passed away. And the only thing that Charlie gets in his father's will? A fancy old car and the knowledge he has an older brother, Raymond - one who is autistic, but quite literally a genius. Charlie takes it upon himself to steal Raymond away from the hospital he's staying at to selfishly get his father's inheritance. It's a great road trip movie - but not exactly a typical one, either. I thought Hoffman was brilliant and much deserving of his Oscar win. Cruise is good, but once again, he's playing that same character over again!

The movie has aged very well - it's still as fresh and fun now as it probably was back then. It's just got a good combination of laughs and drama that works so well. I don't know what else to say except that if you haven't seen it, it's worthy of your time!

Rating: Rent It!

182: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (PG-13) - 2007 - Runtime: 112 minutes
Starring: Mathieu Amalric
Director: Julian Schnabel

My cousin had suggested this movie to me on facebook when I first started, but I've been putting off my suggestions for a while. I wish I hadn't, because this is one of the most beautiful and poetic movies I've seen in a long time.

The movie opens up with the viewpoint of Jean-Do who has just come out of a coma. He can barely see and for the first twenty or so minutes, the movie is limited to his two eyes (one of which isn't in good shape and eventually gets sewn up). It's a very different approach to the movie - it's actually great because it makes you feel so claustrophobic and you at least get an inkling of what Jean-Do was experiencing. Jean-Do had it all - a great job as editor of Elle magazine, a wife and two kids, even a mistress. But one day he suffers from a stroke that leaves him completely paralyzed except for his eyes. And with that, the movie opens about his struggles to cope with his new life and trying to communicate only by blinking.

When I say it's poetic, I'd have to say the way the film is shot. The movie is very pretty and the way the camera is basically Jean-Do's eye is very effective. There's a lot of inner dialogue coming from Jean-Do and it's all quite sad. But gradually, he learns to cope and see his life as a fresh start after all the mean and hurtful things he's done. It's a truly moving and emotional story that is well-shot and is perfectly made with some great music. It's amazing that with the help of a therapist, he was able to write his own memoir and this was the inspiration for the movie. I loved every minute of it!

Rating: Own It!

182: Sixteen Candles

Sixteen Candles (PG/R) - 1984 - Runtime: 93 minutes
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling
Director: John Hughes

Yeah, I've only caught bits and pieces of this movie on TV and when I told Maggie that I haven't actually seen this movie, she freaked! In fact, we've been sharing a long running joke about how our mothers don't think we're dorks. She thought I knew the reference, but in actuality I didn't. I was a liar and she called me out on it. So we had to go and pick this one up. I'd have to say it's pretty awesome!

It's Samantha Baker's sixteenth birthday, but no one seems to notice, even her family. It's her sister's wedding that weekend and she's become invisible to everyone, except for Jake Ryan, the school stud. Needless to say, it's a fun, teen comedy/romance that everyone should watch. John Hughes is a master at showcasing teenage high school life in all its ups and downs. Molly Ringwald is pitch perfect in the role as the awkward teenager and Anthony Michael Hall is great as the geek. There's a lot of funny stuff, including Long Duk Dong, the foreign exchange student who has a thing for macho ladies. And despite its apparent 80s influence on fashion, the movie actually isn't at all that dated. The same themes of teenage angst, loneliness and rebellion still resonate today. This is a timeless classic!

The movie was great - and I'd have to say it's worth owning. However, the DVD says PG, but there is definitely boobies in this movie! The movie got an original R rating, but after an appeal, it was awarded a PG! But the DVD doesn't actually take out the nudity. It's all a bit confusing, so if you don't mind boobies (and who doesn't?) this is a great addition to your collection!

Rating: Own It!

182: Annie Hall

Annie Hall (PG-13) - 1977 - Runtime: 93 minutes
Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton
Director: Woody Allen

I'm not a particularly big fan of Woody Allen. I've liked some of his newer movies - Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, even Scoop! - but I've never really been interested in watching his older movies. They seem dull and all about the negative aspects of relationships. But Annie Hall seemed like it would be something light and fun to watch. Well, I was partly right and wrong.

The movie is about a famous comedian, Alvy, and his relationship with Annie (aaduh!). The movie flashes back and forth between the present and the past with Alvy breaking the fourth wall several times. I found this movie to be a bit distracting, mostly because Allen is a whiny little bitch and his jokes just aren't that funny to me. There's some good moments in the movie, but overall, the movie is too self-loathing and even the charming Keaton, who's really good, can't help fight that narcissistic tone of Allen's. And yeah, I realize that's kind of the point of the movie, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable!

I'd say skip this one - it's not worth the time, despite some surprising (for me) cameos (holy cow Christopher Walken looks, well, like his usual self. That man does not age!).

Rating: Not Worth Paying For!

182: Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans (PG-13) - 2010 - Runtime: 106 minutes
Starring: Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson
Director: Louis Letterrier

I don't care what people say, this movie was just pure popcorn fun. You don't have to think to much, the action is stellar and the cast is pretty good (and good lookin' - I'm looking at you Gemma Arterton). I'm really glad I did not see this in 3D. I think it would have been too distracting. I can't imagine watching any movie that was retro-fitted with 3D. Thank god they abandoned that choice with Iron Man 2!

So the story is about Perseus, the illegitimate child of Zeus. If you don't know the story, well, you must have not paid any attention in English, because it's your typical, dad is a god and wants you to save the world from his brother who happens to be lord of the underworld story. The plot's not necessarily the best part of the movie, but it's sufficient and I think Ralph Fiennes is thoroughly creepy as Hades. Liam Neeson is pretty spot on too and Sam Worthington has pretty much took over Gerard Butler's sandals after he abandoned the action genre because he wanted to beef up his estrogen fanbase.

The action scenes are great - particularly the giant scorpions and the kraken. Both were pretty slick-looking and had me engaged. I love the world they created with this movie - Greek mythology is always fascinating and I thought the movie did a good job at blending the cheese with the serious action. Like I said, it was a fun ride that was definitely worth seeing on the big screen.

Rating: See It!

182: A Few Good Men

A Few Good Men (R) - 1992 - Runtime: 138 minutes
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore
Director: Rob Reiner

I had always thought this movie was just a dull, military legal procedural movie that was probably dated. But Kevin Bacon was in it and, honestly, it's one of his few movies that I'm at all interested in seeing. Part of the deal with this project was to watch six Bacon movies (Maggie's idea, not mine!) and so far, I've only managed to watch one! So imagine my surprise when the movie wasn't at all dated (except for Demi Moore's haircut, yeesh!) and was fully engaging throughout the two plus hours.

For those who didn't grow up in the early nineties or haven't heard the phrase "You can't handle the truth!" the movie stars Cruise as a young, brash and very cocky lawyer (this seems to be mostly what Cruise plays in all his movies, which I started to notice after this one - Cocktail, The Color of Money, Top Gun, The Firm, Risky Business, Rain Man, Jerry Maguire. Seriously, it's harder not to find a movie where he's not a young, cocky and brash). And he gets to test his mettle against a case that involves fellow soldiers taking orders to kill a fellow soldier. It's pretty heavy stuff, but nothing to crazy to wrap your head around. It's a great plot that sets up for some good characters. You can tell this movie was based on a play because of all the staging and emphasis on the dialogue. But that's not a bad thing - it just makes for some wonderful lines (duh!) and great acting. Tom Cruise is great and Jack Nicholson is at his best. Hell, even Demi Moore is pretty good. If it was playing on a rainy afternoon, I'd probably sit down and watch it again!

So all in all, I was really surprised how much I loved this movie. It was really, really good and totally the opposite of what I expected. So kudos, Aaron Sorkin. Well played.

Rating: Own It!