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Disturbia

RATING: THUMBS UP

Shia LaBeouf and Carrie Ann Moss star in this suspense thriller about Kale (LaBeouf), a troubled teen who, during his house arrest, learns quite a bit about his neighbors... including a guy (David Morse) who he thinks is a murderer.  During the course of his voyeuristic activities he meets Ashley (Sarah Roemer), the girl from next door.  Together they assemble a stakeout.  Ashley considers it good fun.  Kale thinks trouble is brewing.

Plenty of red herrings along the way in this one.  Enough to keep you guessing, right to the end.

LaBeouf does a fine job in this and is turning into a good actor.  All grown up and no place to go but to the top.

Well written, adventurous and, often, suspenseful, you'll have a good time at this movie.  Thumbs up.

 

Blades of Glory

RATING:  THUMBS UP

Will Ferrell and Jon Heder star in this hilarious farce about the world of male figure skating.  Ferrell is Chazz Michael Michaels, the rock star of figure skating.  Heder stars as Jimmy MacElroy, the darling of figure skating.  The two are rivals, to the point where they get into a fist fight and subsequently banned from the sport.  But wait.  The coach (Craig T. Nelson) discovers a loop hole in the rules that allow the skaters back in the game as the first all male pairs skating team. 

While the evolution of the relationship of the two enemies is predictable, it is none-the-less really funny.  You might expect that the story focuses on the struggle of masculinity of two guys skating together but it rarely comes up.  Most of all we tend to be embarrassed for the stars even though they don't seem to be.

Will Ferrell is one funny guy.  Thumbs up.

 

300

RATING: THUMBS UP

Blockbuster epic period piece about the famous battle of the Spartans who take on the massive Persian army.  How does millions vs. 300 sound?  Facing rediculous odds, King Leonidas takes his best to Thermopylae to stop King Xerxes from defying democracy.

Sounds like an impossible task, but the brave 300 assemble a plan of brilliance that has to be seen to be understood.

The cinematography is stunning and while violent it is a masterpiece.  Thumbs way up.

 

 

Smokin' Aces

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

Thriller starring Jeremy Piven in a stellar performance as a magician, turned mobster, turned informant.  Piven's performance is this movie's highlight.  Its all downhill from there.

This often violent film also stars Ryan Reynolds, Andy Garcia and Ben Affleck.

The story surrounds Buddy Israel (Piven) who has a bounty on his head.  This brings out what appears to be a group of card carrying hitmen.  Now while I am pretty sure hitmen don't have a union, I am equally sure that they don't come out eight at a time to do a job.  It was the antithesis of a super hero movie that features all of your favorites fighting crime and staying out of the press.  Silly, really.

So after a pile of bullets and herd of some very stupid security people, we are left with the most ridiculous plot twist that I have seen in film in a long long time.  While it is not my nature to reveal the twist, I emplore you not to see this film in order to find out.  Send me an email, and I would be more than happy to save you $8.  Thumbs down.

 

Babel

RATING: THUMBS UP

Brad Pitt and Kate Blanchette star as a couple touring Turkey when she gets clipped by a bullet fired by some local shepard kids.  The point was to prove whether or not the gun could shoot far.  It did.  And now the kids are in some bad trouble.

The incident takes on an international flair when the charge of terrorism is invoked by the U.S. and denied by Turkey.  Pitt's problem is that he just needs treatment for Blanchette.  It all gets embroiled in politics.

In the mean time, there are two subplots involving two other people directly and indirectly related to the story.  Its a creative piece of film making that could fall flat without a wrapup, but it doesn't because the story gets an effective summary.

This is a suspenseful film that has you on the edge.  I found myself unconvinced of the outcome until the climax.  Really slick.

This film will win an Oscar for best picture. 

 

Children of Men

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

Futuristic thriller about a society gone mad.  Mankind can no longer concieve and that makes a pregnant woman a valuable and important person.  The film stars Clive Owen, who plays a guy whose job it is to deliver the pregnant woman to an activist group for safety, goes through some real trouble to do it.  He even sees his former love interest (Julianne Moore) and good friend (Michael Caine) go through some bad situations in the name of the objective.

The movie spends a lot of time sending a political message (i.e. the chaos is the product of government policy and not terrorism) and little time explaining why the pregant woman is so important (it takes two to tango, right?).

In the end all of the comotion just does not seem worth it.  I found myself wondering why anybody would risk their lives over this person.  The movie fails to pack a punch in the end.

 

Charlotte's Web

RATING: THUMBS DOWN

Its been made and remade and I can not think of a reason to make yet another version of this film.  Oh I suppose we can remake every talking animal film ever made using today's computer technology but we've seen it all before.  And quite frankly, Charlotte's Web isn't that compelling of a story.

And then there's Dakota Fanning.  As precocious as she is, it is not a reaon to film this story.  Besides, she always plays the same kid.

With the vast selection of children films (mostly animation) in release, you can surely find a more interesting way to spend your money.

A Night in the Museum

RATING:  THUMBS UP

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson star in this fantasy comedy about a natural history museum under a spell where the inhabitants come to life at night.

Stiller plays the night watchman who is given the task of managing the chaos that prevails when dinosaurs and statues run amuck after the doors close.  He inherits this dubious task when the current night watchmen Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney) are forced to retire (can't happen fast enough)

The film gets off to an unbearably slow start.  Nothing exciting, nothing funny and little plot movement for the first hour.  Rooney will have you considering walking out of the movie.

Eventually, Stiller has to deal with the nightly mess and the morning outcome.  The film picks up steam here.  Funny one liners combined with placing ancients into contemporary situations creates interest.  The Jumanji-like effects also adds to the film's appeal.

Robin Williams also stars as Teddy Roosevelt and has a splendid performance.

Wait out the first half and ignore Stillers constant threat to quit his job and you have a fairly entertaining movie.  Marginal thumbs up.

 

The Pursuit of Happyness

RATING:  THUMBS UP

Will Smith plays Chris Gardner in this true story about the rise from poverty to a successful broker on Wall Street.  Smith stars with his son, who plays his son in the film.

Rough times turn into impossible times after Smith takes on a non-paying internship at a top brokerage firm while working his day job selling medical equipment and raising his son.

When the money dries up, so does the apparent future of Smith and son.  Forced to sleep in public restrooms, they would appear to be headed toward seperation.  Smith's love for his son and self pride begins a sequence of trying weeks that are imminent to smith's success.

The highlight of this movie is Smith's relationship with his son.  No nepitism here.  This kid is a good actor.

This is an inspiring film that will lift you up.  If you question your own wellbeing, go see this movie.  Thumbs up.

 

Apocalypto

RATING:  THUMBS UP

Mel Gibson's interpretation of pre-modern Maya is a violent, subtitled brilliant piece of work.  The story is about a small village of fishermen and hunters who are captured for slavery and eventual sacrifice to the gods.  That is, afterall, what the Mayans did.

The main character (played by Dalia Hernandez) is forced to escape from the clutches of his captors in order to save his life and the lives of his child and wife.  He catches a couple of breaks along the way and eludes in one the best chase scenes ever captured on film.

Despite the controversy that surrounds Gibson, this guy is perhaps the best director in Hollywood.  His unfortunate relationship with that community will deny him Oscar consideration.  He doesn't need it nor does he care.  In the end, if great film making is his final objective, he has succeeded with this effort.  Thumbs way up.

 

The Fountain

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz star as a couple, who experience eternal love... literally.  The pair are involved in a 1000 year struggle to locate the legendary Tree of Life; the tree is supposedly located in Eden and carries the power of healing and eternal life by drinking the tree's sap.

The story begins in 16th century Spain where the conquistodor, Tomas Cero (Jackman) is emplored by the queen of Spain (Weisz), to locate the Tree of Life in order to save Spain from ruin.

Switch to modern day where Jackman is in pursuit of a cure for cancer in order to save his beloved (Weisz).  Get it it?

Eventually, its Jackman as a 26th century astronaut, who is forced to grasp the ultimate outcome of his 1000 year journey.

The film is ocassionally confusing but often quite stylish.  The weakness is that it never quite lays out Jackman's final objective once he finds the Tree of Life.  There is also a connection lacking between modern Jackman and future Jacman.  Weisz is also blatently absent.

The story kept me in the game but fails to deliver the punch in the end.  You just simply fail to identify closure when it is all said and done.  Thumbs down.

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

RATING: THUMBS DOWN

Tim Allen revives his role as St. Nick in the third (and final) installment of The Santa Clause.  In 3, Allen has established his toy manufacturing and delivery service in the north pole.  Once per year, Scott (Allen) ventures out in his sleigh, delivering toys to good girls and boys as St. Nick.  Sounds pretty straight forward and familiar.  But wait.  Its a bit more complicated than that.  Mrs. Clause is pregnant and is getting lonely in the Artic Circle.  The solution is simple (and complicated).  Bring the "in-laws" and others to the pole to keep Mrs. Clause company.  The problem with this idea is that some of these people know about Scott's alter ego.  Others do not.

To over complicate the situation, Jack Frost (You know.  The guy "nipping at your nose".) aspires to take over Scott's business (and alter ego).  Frost (Martin Short) is a creepy, villanous sort, who stirs up trouble by causing seemingly meaningless turmoil.  Meaningless until he forces Scott to inadvertantly invoke The Escape Clause.  Its too stupid to explain.

The original Santa Clause was a fun holiday film, worth watching every holiday season.  This one is not.  The characters are an annoying bunch of complainers, not the least being Jack Frost, who just simply get on your nerves.  Thye punch line isn't the least bit funny, although there is a moment toward the end of the film, where Frost appears to have turned into Clay Aiken (see the film and you'll understand).  Thumbs down.

 

Borat

RATING:  THUMBS UP

Satire film about the sixth most popular guy from the country of Kazakastan.  Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G) stars as Borat Sagdiyev, a local news reporter who has been assigned by his state department to film a documentary about American culture.

The film is irreverent, rude, uncouth and hilarious.  Cohen's portrayal is realistic and an absolute riot.  He seemingly does not understand U.S. history. referring to the American's "war of terror" and really misses when it comes to culture and tradition.

The plot becomes tangled when Borat sees an episode of Baywatch and decides that he will go find and marry Pamela Anderson.  The trip to California is ultimately Borat's undoing as he eventually hits rock bottom.  The bright side is that when you are from Kazakastan, rock bottom isn't much worse than what you are used to.

The supporting "cast" is an enigma.  It would seem that the characters are unwittingly a part of this film.  How this is possible is a mystery but it sure makes for a funny movie.  Thumbs up. 

 

Stranger Than Fiction

RATING:  THUMBS UP

Oddball comedy about a guy whose life is the subject of an author's novel... in real time.  Will Farrell stars as Harold Crick (the guy) and Emma Thompson stars as Kay Eiffel (the author).

The odd part is that Crick can hear the author, in his head, narrate her story as she is typing it.  To those involved in Crick's life, it is written off to schizophrenia but there is much more to it than that.

The annoyance of spending his day listening to Eiffel narrate seems to be tempered when he attracts a love interest, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal).  The situation would seem to be tollerable until he hears the plot of his imminent death.  The story takes a turn at this point.

Crick's pursuit of Eiffel, with the objective of asking her to revise the ending of the story, is predictible.

Farrell brings his usual high quality performance to the screen but it is Thompson who is delightful.  Her obsessive compulsive, sometimes neurotic behavior is just unpredictable enough for you to fear for Crick's life.  Will she or won't she do the right thing?

Its an entertaining story (and certainly original) that really packs a punch in the last 30 minutes.  Thumbs up.

 

The Departed

RATING:  THUMBS UP

Star studded cast highlights this latest Martin Scorcese thriller about an undercover sting of a local mob boss.  Jack Nicolson and Leonardo DeCaprio lead the way as the mob boss and an undercover cop, who has infiltrated Nicolson's gang.  Dishonesty and deceit rule the day as both sides of the conflct depend on insiders, only to learn that there are more players in the field than that meet the eye.

As is typical in a Scorcese film, the characters are well developed and quite complex.  Matt Damon stars as a cop on the fast track who turns out to be an elaborate plant by the bad guys.

The story is brilliant.  A well woven tale that keeps you guessing literally up to the final scene.

Nicholson's performance is as good as any in his career.  His convincing portrayal is so cold that there is little sympathy for him when the current comes down.

Dicaprio is the othere winner.  His family history torments him throughout.  And the truth is, he is really the only good guy in the film.

Both actors are deserved of a nomination (Nicolson could win best actor).  Thumbs up.  

Employee of the Month

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

Jessica Simpson and Dane Cook star in this comedy about a warehouse type retail store and the antics of the employees.  The plot is simple.  The top cashier (Dax Shepard) is on the verge of winning a record number of "employee of the month" awards.  The store gets a new cashier (Simpson) who has a thing for the employee of the month.  Cook decides that this is the way he can get Simpson interested in him so he decides to work harder in order to win the award.  This, of course, is unheard of because Cook is the store "slacker".  As crazy as this sounds, is how bad this film is.  The script is full of unfunny scene gags that have nothing at all to do with the story.  It often leaves you confused.  Jessica Simpson is a liability in this movie as her terrible acting combined with her annoying, unlikeable character has you wishing that nobody would win employee of the month.  Thumbs way down. 

 

The Grudge 2

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

Sequel to the Takashi Shimizu film about an evil that lurks in a house, where violence occured and a curse is its only revenge.  Sarah Michelle Geller resurrects her role only in a cameo and then gives way to her "sister", Amber Tamblyn (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants).  The story seemingly picks up where the first film left off but then takes a terrible turn.  Within the story are several plots in different locations that are somehow connected.  The problem is you don't find out how they are related until the last 10 minutes of the film.  By then, the story delivers a soup of images and themes that are mixed up beyond comprehension.  Director Shimizu must have liked his audience's reaction to those pasty faced Japanese kids that would occasionally be flashed on the screen in a horrifying manner in the first film, because they are all over the screen in the sequel.  So much, in fact, that they earned a spot in the credits.  The over exposure steals from their sinister persona.  Thumbs down.

 

Hollywoodland

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

Period piece stars Adrian Brody as a private investigator assigned to the case of George Reeves's (Superman) death.  Is it suicide or murder?  This comes into question by Brody, but only because he is trying to stir up publicity for his business.  Only, he might be on to something he should not be involved.

The film moves along at a nice brisk pace for the first hour, but then comes to a screeching halt, eventually losing its way.  The plot goes from the mystery of Reeves's death to the torment Brody experiences when he gets in the middle of some bad people.  Nobody really cares and his torment is really boring.  So is this film.  Thumbs down

 

 

Invincible

RATING:  THUMBS UP

This film stars Mark Wahlberg who portrays Vince Papale, a local bartender who tries out for the Philidelphia Eagles in a real life open try out and makes the team.  This true story is set in Philly during the middle 70s, when a lot of people were out of work and struggling to make ends meet.  That makes Papale everybody's hero.  The story is inspiring as you really felt the pain of the community and their triumph when one of their own makes it to their beloved Eagles.

The on-field scenes are breath taking.  Papale's first game as a professional football player ends up in Dallas.  The scene where he enters the stadium, makes the hair raise on the back of your neck as you really get a feel for how serious all of this is.  There's a lot on the line and a 30 year old bartender is in the middle.

Wahlberg, who is best suited for films that he is comfortable in (that means he is not very diverse), is good in this film.  Greg Kinnear also stars are Papale's coach.  Thumbs up. 

 

The Descent

RATING:  THUMBS UP

Low budget thriller about a group of women who are adventurists.  One year following a tragic car accident involving one of the women, the group decides to go exploring a series of caves.  Adventure gets the best of them and they end up in an uncharted cavern.  Within the cave exists a species of humans (?) that evolved into a subspecies and a culture of terror.

The woman eventually become trapped in the cavern and are challenged to survive against all odds and sometimes in spite of each other. 

This film is chock full of those shocking images of stealth like shadows and scary faces.  The darkness and entrapment adds an element of horror that gives you the creeps.  The low budget cinematography also adds to the films gruesome appearance.  Its sometimes quite chilling.

The film stars nobody and is directed by a guy named Paul Smith (XVI) (seriously).  Thumbs up.

 

Little Miss Sunshine

RATING:  THUMBS UP

After a horrible streak of bad films (8 out of the last 9 have been 'thumbs down'), along comes Little Miss Sunshine.  The film stars Steve Carell, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear as The Hoovers, a dysfunctional (yet somehow normal) family determined to take a VW bus on a road trip to enter their daughter/granddaughter/ niece in a beauty pageant for kids.  The joke here is that the kid is a plain, untalented runner up in a local pageant, who happens to land in a national competition due to a disqualification.  Everybody knows she doesn't stand a chance, except for Kinnear (father) who tries to be one of those controlling pageant parents, except he seems a bit under motivated (he doesn't even know his daughter's talent).

Alan Arkin is splendid as the heroin addicted grandfather, who's love for his granddaughter allows you to forgive him for being a d*ck.

Steve Carell, who just got out of a hospital for attempting suicide ends up being the most rational of them all.  That sums up this family pretty well.

One of the funniest plot lines in the film, is the VW bus and its inability to shift out of low gears.  The consequence to this is that the entire family must push to bus in order to get momentum allowing them to drive in higher gears.  They are constantly doing this in the film.

Quirky, funny and sometimes sad, this is a good film.  Thumbs up.

 

 

Talledega Nights:  The Ricky Bobby Story

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

Will Farrell stars in this NASCAR spoof about a pit crew member turned hero.  Ricky Bobby volunteers to drive in a race after the official driver decides to quit the race in favor of a tasty chicken sandwch ("They DO have a good sauce there") and the rest is history...until a swaggering barely English speaking French driver enters the scene.  Ricky can't handle it and fades from the scene.

Enter Rickey's deadbeat father (Gary Cole), who teaches Ricky how to regain his confidence. 

The film moves along at a pace fitting of NASCAR, until Ricky falls on hard times.  Then is stalls like an engine with a bad head gasket.  The rehabilitation of Ricky is painfully slow and often not funny.

Finally the climax, a final race between Ricky and his French nemisis, is so anticlimatic that the payoff isn't worth the time spent watching the film.

The race scenes sound and look cool.  Farrell is pretty funny.  But the film is generally not that funny.  I hardly laughed at all.

 

 

The Lady in the Water

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

M. Night Shyamalan directs this fantasy thriller about a bedtime story that comes to life.  Paul Giamatti stars as the building super who has the responsibility of keeping the "narf" (Bryce Dallas Howard), an angel-like character, safe and getting her back to her world.

The story is derived from an actual bedtime story that the director told his children.  Its a pretty interesting tale.

Giamatti does a very good job portraying his roll as a guy who lacks confidence and is an underachiever and is forced into a dangerous and difficult situation.

The problem is that this movie has way too much going on.  It takes unecessary twists and turns that only makes the movie drag on longer than it needs.  It feels like a bedtime story and perhaps would have better portayed in animation.

Shyamalan has a pretty substantial role as an actor in this film.  Combine that with the fact that he hired Ron Howard's daughter twice (The Village), it makes you wonder if he wants to be an actor instead of a director.  That might be ok.

 

Clerks II

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

I don't get it.  This is the sequel to Clerks, the Kevin Smith low budget sleeper that put Smith on the map.  The script is terrible and the acting is just as bad.  Maybe its just difficult to read bad lines.  I don't know.  What I do know is that the film depends on shock gags (such as beastiality).  I suppose that's ok except that the gags are just not funny. 

And then there is Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith).  Its kind of like they are in a differnt film.  They don't belong in the script, so they really aren't.  They get their own plot line, which has no plot at all.

I must be confused (or maybe critics have been duped into believing that this film is excentric) because I just do not see its appeal.

Another Kevin Smith stinker. 

 

Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest

 

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

2nd film in the 'Pirates' franchise, starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.  Add Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly and you have a star studded cast.  That doesn't mean it will be a good film.  The story in this episode is way too disconnected.  It almost seems like it is a setup for part 3 (which is rumored to be complete)

Depp's Sparrow isn't nearly as edgy as he was in the first film.  Perhaps he should drink a little more.  The characters are falling victim to familiarity in that their personalities are becoming too mainstream.  The film makers should stop being so concerned about whether or not the audience will like the characters and focus on the acting ability of the stars.

So you sit for 2 1/2 hours hoping for some sort of reprieve.  Perhaps that last final scene that pulls it all together.  It just doesn't come.

Use the time to take a nap.

 

The Devil Wears Prada

RATING: THUMBS UP

Lighthearted comedy about an unpretentious journalist (Anne Hathaway), who lands a job as a 2nd assistant to an influential (and pretentious) fashion editor (Meryl Streep).

Its a formula that has been tried and tested:  a plain jane girl experiences remarkable transformation, a bluntly honest coworker (Stanley Tucci) helps the girl with advice and is aloud to be blunt because he is a genius) and the enemy turned ally learns to repect the aforementioned plain jane.

Hathaway's presence on the screen makes it easy to cheer her on, although her relationships outside of the fashion industry grew tiresome.

Streep's character is easy to dislike, but its easy to understand why she is good at what she does.  She takes her business seriously and takes exception to those who don't.  The people she influences are wealthy and the business she manages is lucrative.

The retrospective scene comes at the right time (no Oscar winners here) as we are unable to sustain a thought long enough to tell us a complex story.  We are, after all, in a theatre playing this film.

Such drivel.  But so much fun.  Thumbs up. 

 

Click

RATING: THUMBS DOWN

Comedy about a guy who buys a remote control that controls all aspects of his life.  Well, I think its a comedy.

The concept is really good:  An overworked guy (Adam Sandler) buys a universal remote control from a wacky inventor (Christopher Walken) that allows him to control time and improve his relationship with his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and his job.

The film starts off as expected.  Sandler puts out his typical quick wit and improvised humor. 

But then something goes terribly wrong.  The remote starts affecting his life in a very bad way.  Not "Butterfly Effect" bad but more like "Its a Wonderful Life" bad.  Complete with an angel (Walken).

As the minutes go by, the film becomes very dark.  When the credits finally role, I am glad to get out of the building.

This is not a good film.

 

The Lake House

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

A romantic drama stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.  The concept is great.  A woman from the year 2006 communicates with a man from 2004 (I love that time warp stuff).  They have the lake house in common, so their paths have crossed.  In fact, they have crossed many times.  When the couple knows that they have been at the same place in a different time, Bullock precedes Reeves and can predict for him what will happen.  When their paths have crossed but they didn't know it, Reeves is able to report that to Bullock.  Get it?

Here's the problem (where do I start?).  First of all, they seem to get over the fact that this bizarre, yet impossible relationship is happening, really easy.  Once they figure out what's happening, they don't try to figure out how its happening, why its happening or if it is even happening at all.  Personally, I'd have to talk to a doctor if it happened to me.

Next, they just "willy nilly" tell each other things that alter the future. Great for plot.  Bad for scriot writing because you have to be thorough about how you follow up on everything that the history alteration effects. For example, you can't have a character believe that another character is dead and then go back and change history to alter the future without the same character thinking that the other character is still alive.  The disregard for continuity of the story riddles the film with machine gun sized holes.  As a movie goer, when you stop rationilizing a film because of poor continuity, it basically acts as a "get out of jail free" card for the director.  Sorry.  That's poor movie making.

Better luck next time.

 

 

The Omen

RATING: THUMBS DOWN

Remake of the 1976 classic, and a tough act to follow.  The script is identical but the names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Stars Julia Stiles and Mia Farrow.  There is no suspense and not a lick of a change to the story.  Updated to a modern era, the "kills" are renewed and graphically impressive.  Stiles does a good job as Damien's mother and you just want to throttle Mia Farrow (evil woman, to say the least).

The problem with this film is that it is a remake of one of the best horror films ever made.  You get the impression that the film maker really didn't want to make a great movie but just wanted to make a movie that took advantage of the date, 6-6-06 (seriously).  The script from the original Omen is as good as any.  So they threw a movie together.

Not doing well at the box office, the film's reputation precedes it.

Thumbs down. 

 

The Break Up

RATING:  THUMBS DOWN

Stars Vince Vaughn  and Jennifer Aniston.  Relationship comedy about a couple of opposites that just can't make their relationship whole.  Vaughn plays that fast talking guy, who only cares about himself.  Well that just won't work for Aniston.  The result is "The Break Up".

They try to silly the film up by creating these quirky supporting roles, but they don't seem to fit into the movie.  Examples are Aniston's singing brother and Vaughn's serious brother.  Nothing to add to the plot and they just aren't that funny.  Could have spent more time focusing on the main characters.

It looks like a Vince Vaughn film so the guys should like it.  It looks like a "chick flick" so the girls should like it.  Vaughn isn't that funny and it isn't a chick flick so nobody will like it.

Thumbs down.

 

X-Men: The Last Stand

RATING: THUMBS UP

The third installment of the popular X-men movie trilogy (well, at least they say this is the last one) is the best.  Charles Xavier and Magneto are at it again.  Only this time those pesky humans are mucking things up.  A supposed "cure" for the mutants is provided (well, actually forced) on the mutants ("you're not curin' nothin'!).

Serious developments occur in this film.  If you're an X-men fanatic, you may not like what you see.  But the plot is great for the film.  Alot of mutants die and a lot of mutants get exposed to the "cure".  Sad day on the planet for some.  Oh, and by the way, some even come back to life... but not in a good way.

Filmed in its usual stylistic graphic effects, part three does not disappoint.  The only regret is that this is the last.  Or is it?  Stay through the credits for a scene that most have not seen.

Thumbs way up.

 

The Da Vinci Code

RATING: THUMBS UP

Ron Howard film stars Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou in the film adaptation of the best selling Dan Brown book.  Panned by critics for not having enough suspense, the film is a good portrayal of the book.  How do you make a film suspenseful when 10 million people have read the book?  You just don't.

What you DO do, is make a movie that does the book justice and fills in some of those blanks that your imagination couldn't fill in.  Howard's movie does all of that.  After seeing it, you might want to go back to the book.

Tom Hanks provides another quality performance as a criptologist assigned by a dead man, to figure out the riddle of the Holy Grail.

The scenes look good, taking advantage of the European countryside and Paris. The shots in the Lourve look great and the way Howard meshes the art work into the film with shadows and darkness really gives you a sense of mystery and threat.

 

Art School Confidential 

RATING:  THUMBS UP 

Quirky Indy film about the day to day activities at art school.  This dark comedy includes a serial killer case, the investigation and the pretentious behavior of art students, critics and instructors (at least that's the the screen writer apparently believes.

The film stars John Malkovich as an instructor, who lives his unsuccessful art career through (and at the expense) of his students.

The students are subjected to criticism and praise of the most ridiculous creations you can imagine... sort of like real life.  What makes art, art?  That's what I'd like to know.  So would the main character in the film (Max Minghella). 

And then the film turns dark.  The serial killer investigation picks up steam and reveals a surprise.  The end pokes final fun at the art world, but is true to life.

Story is well written, funny and really eccentric.  What would you expect from a film about art?

 

United 93

RATING:  THUMBS UP

The film is a reenactment of the 9/11 flight that never made its destination (The White House).  Filmed in a docu-drama style, the action revolves around air traffic control, NORAD and Flight 93 as the events of the day unfold.

Difficult to watch at times, but not because of how the film was made as it does not delve into the emotion of the event as you might expect, but because the scenes are raised to a level of intensity that just left me exhausted and because it brings back memories of a very emotional time.

There are no actors in this film.  At least nobody you would know.  It seems as if the people who are in the film are really air traffic controllers and military personnel.

The word "hero" tends to be overused during tragic events.  The people on Flight 93 were heroes.

Many people have said that they choose not to see it.  Don't be afraid of it.  Its a nervous film with a level of intensity that is higher than most films you have seen, but it is an interesting account of the chaos that prevailed on that day.