Friday, July 31, 2009


Judd Apatow's Funny People is the big release for this weekend. I am pretty excited to see it. The trailers haven't blown me away, but I've really enjoyed Apatow's work up to this point, and I am curious to see him get more serious and introspective, which is what I've heard Funny People is. I'll be away this weekend, so not sure if I'll be able to see it over the next few days, so if not, it'll be a mid-week thing next week.

Also, I am looking forward to (500) Days of Summer, the critically acclaimed new romantic dramedy with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. I'll be seeing that one next Monday or Tuesday night.

From Netflix, I've got the drugged-out looking Japanese import Big Man Japan. Can't wait.

The new Blu Ray is hooked up and looking extra-sweet. Popped in Coraline last night -- what a beautiful little film. And the 3-D at-home feature is actually pretty cool. And those opening credits of Watchmen -- geez, Lousie. Simply stunning. I can't wait to get my Blu Ray on in the coming months.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Today is my birthday (one year left before the big 3-0) and my amazing wife hooked it up with my first Blu Ray player. Along with it came Watchmen, Coraline, and Miami Vice. BIG TIME! Can't wait to set it up tonight.

I've got some DVD reviews coming up for Notorious (very solid) and Waltz with Bashir (an uncompromising masterwork).

Also, I'll be doing some sort of summer movie wrap up over the next few weeks with reactions to all of movies I caught these last few months. There are still some flicks of serious (and less serious) interest over the next few weeks, including: (500) Days of Summer, Funny People, G.I. Joe, District 9, Julie & Julia, Inglorious Basterds, Away We Go, G-Force, Thirst, The Time Traveler's Wife, and The Final Destination: 3-D.

And not that it really matters, but after taking his normal critical beating, Michael Bay is once again laughing all the way to the bank as his latest effort (and magnum opus), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, has amassed (as of today) $381 million, landing it at #9 all-time domestic. It'll probably eek its way to $400 million domestic. Its worldwide total stands at $796 million, so look for it top top off at roughly $850 million worldwide when all is said and done. I bring this up not because I personally care, but because I find it so funny that Bay pretty much automatically summons hate from his critics (in many cases probably sight unseen) and yet, his movies always DESTROY the box office. It's yet another instance of "critics" being incredibly out-of-step with the general populace. And it's not just the dumb-fun-popcorn-movies; I could list any number of smaller, more challenging films that critics have dismissed as garbage but that people have warmly embraced.

It's all about enjoying yourself and having fun. Life's too short and too unpredictable to always be bitching about something, especially something as intrinsically fun as movies.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker sits alongside Black Hawk Down as one the best modern war films in recent memory. The pure tension that you feel as a viewer while watching this tour de force -- and make no mistake, this film is a tour de force -- is remarkable. Bigelow's kinetic direction, combined with extremely sharp editing, a nervous, jittery shooting style, and dense sound design, all make for a visceral piece of grab-you-by-the-throat filmmaking. I'll have a full review soon, but it's the best action picture of the year, and one of the best movies of the year in general. Bigelow is back. Big time. It's up there with Strange Days as the best piece of work in her career. I hope she makes another film very, very soon.

Friday, July 24, 2009



The Hurt Locker. Sunday. Can't wait.

Got Notorious from Netlfix. I heard some good stuff. We'll see...

And for some strange reason, I am very curious about G-Force. Maybe next week one night...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


For what it offers, The Proposal (B+) works extremely well. The film is helped enormously by the excellent chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, and Peter Chiarelli's script, while contrived (what rom-com isn't these days?), has enough in the way of mild-surprise and sarcastically funny dialogue to make the whole thing much better than you might expect. The film has a high-concept logline: an uber-successful (and uber-bitchy) book editor (Bullock) is forced to marry her put-upon assistant (Reynolds) when she's faced with deportation back to her home country of Canada. Chaos and romance follows when they go back to the assistant's home town (in Alaska!) to meet his family and hold an impromptu wedding. It's a ludicrous premise, played with a small wink and big smiles by the entire cast. Marry Steenburgen is Reynolds' mom, and beyond looking really hot for her advancing age, she's actually quite good in one of those thankless roles. Craig T. Nelson is appropriately disapproving as Reynolds' father. And Betty White steals the entire film whenever she's on screen as Reynolds' still-randy grandmother. She gets some choice lines and some really funny scenes. There's even a cast member from The Office who gets a priceless cameo. Yes, the film is predictable; you know that the stressed and annoyed assistant is going to eventually develop feelings for his boss, and that his boss is going to finally realize, after three punishing years, that her assistant is really Mr. Right. But it's no more or less predictable than an above-average action movie, and sometimes a genre movie that just works is good enough for a night's entertainment. Directed by Anne Fletcher (Step Up, 27 Dresses), the film looks nice (except for one or two bad blue screen process shots), has a jaunty pace, and the scenes of slapstick comedy are actually handled quite well. Fletcher's background is in dance choreography, so it's not all that surprising that she has a way with staging physical comedy. But The Proposal wouldn't be half the fun that it is without the involvement of Bullock and Reynolds. Especially Reynolds. He's now on the cusp of super-stardom with The Proposal (domestic box office gross to date is $130 million). After starring in a run of mid-level comedies (Van Wilder, Waiting, Just Friends) and actioners (Smokin' Aces, Blade 3, Wolverine), he's about to blow up on the spot next year as he steps into the comic-book tights of The Green Lantern. He's great looking (the wife adores him), he's got perfect comedic timing and delivery, and he's not always trying to sell you on everything that he does (Dane Cook should take some notes from him). If you haven't seen it, go rent Definitely, Maybe, which is better than The Proposal because it's more original and really keeps you guessing; it's also got his best performance to date. And as for Bullock, I don't remember liking her this much, since, say, Speed. She's got the slapstick stuff down pat, she looks really hot, and she's just all-around likable, even if her character is abrasive. The Proposal isn't brilliant or genre-changing, but it's really enjoyable and definitely the best surprise I've had at the movies this year.


Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (A+)
Pete Docter’s Up (A+)
Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah (A+)
Jody Hill’s Observe and Report (A)
Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (A)
Henry Selick’s Coraline (A)
Todd Philips’ The Hangover (A)
Tony Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 123 (A)
Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (A)
JJ Abrams’ Star Trek (A)

James Gray’s Two Lovers (A-)
Neveldine/Taylor’s Crank: High Voltage (A-)
Larry Charles’ Bruno (A-)
Kevin McDonald’s State of Play (A-)
Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience (A-)
Tony Gilroy’s Duplicity (B+)
Greg Mottola’s Adventureland (B+)
John Hamburg’s I Love You, Man (B+)
Anne Fletcher's The Proposal (B+)
Alex Proyas’ Knowing (B)

Tom Tywker’s The International (B)
Wayne Kramer’s Crossing Over (B)
Pierre Morel’s Taken (C)
Ken Kwapis’ He’s Just Not That Into You (C)
Paul McGuigan’s Push (C-)
McG’s Terminator: Salvation (D)
Timothy Linh Bui’s Powder Blue (D)

Monday, July 20, 2009


Push (C-) should have been much better than it ended up being. Stylishly directed (but to no end) by Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin, Gangster No. 1), this poorly written sci-fi movie scores some points for taking it's X-Men-derivative plot (people with mutant-like super-powers are pursued by a shadowy group who wants them killed) and setting all of the sci-fi proceedings in a gritty, real-world milieu. Low budget sci-fi can work when the writing is sharp and the ideas are strong, but everything in Push's narrative is a muddle, and the weak dialogue doesn't help matters. Chris Evans is a fun actor to watch and the rest of the cast is decent, but the movie looks like it cost about $25 to make, and while McGuigan tarts his film up with lots of stylistic tics and flourishes, the film never really clicks into high-gear. Clearly aiming for a franchise, the filmmakers probably won't be getting their wish.


Bruno (A-) is yet another uncomfortably hilarious mockumentary from Sacha Baron Cohen, who previously brought Borat to the big screen. I'll have a full reaction up at some point soon (probably in a summer movie wrap-up piece) but if you're a fan of Cohen's, or if you want to see something that's so sexually outrageous and envelope pushing that your jaw will utterly hit the floor in astonishment, go see Bruno. I cannot believe that the MPAA gave this movie an R-rating. It's also, like Borat, an extremely sad piece of commentary about how close-minded many people are in this country. The distinct (and sometimes hateful) levels of homophobia caught by Cohen's cameras in this movie is disturbing (yet unsurprising); I can only imagine a litany of law-suits will be sent Cohen's way. But you know what -- most of the people that Cohen destroys in this film can go fuck themselves -- when you operate like a Neanderthal (or an outright hate monger -- Mr. "Gay-Converter," I'm looking at you!), you deserve to get ripped on. Cohen is a fearless performer; the level of commitment he brings to the role of Bruno is just ridiculous and requires a special sort of talent that few other big screen comics could ever hope to possess. Bruno is a very funny, extremely raunchy movie that will shock and appall many people, but delight those of us who are able to find humor in the most awkward (and humiliating) of places. Directed by Larry Charles (Borat, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Religulous), this logistically challenging movie could not have been easy to make. It really is something else.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Knowing (B) is a goofy, preposterous, and entertaining sci-fi thriller that's nowhere near as bad as most critics said it was. It's also not the 4-star masterpiece that Roger Ebert hailed it as either. Stylishly directed (on a smaller than normal budget for the genre) by Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City), it's got a lot of great ideas, some nasty scenes of CGI-enhanced destruction, and a real doozy of an ending. It's far from perfect, but when it gets going, Knowing is a tense, intricate, and fairly heady concoction of end-of-the-world paranoia and religious-based scientific conjecture. Nicolas Cage stars as an M.I.T. professor who drinks too much and has a son to look after since the death of his wife. The son of a pastor, Cage's character doesn't believe in God, and views life through a scientific lens. However, when a time capsule is unearthed at his son's elementary school, and a shocking list of numbers is pulled from it, everything starts to get wacky. The numbers appear to correspond to various deadly tragedies over the last 50 years. And wouldn't you know it, but the last three tragedies are set to occur rapidly, with the final omen being a rather large one. Add in some mysterious and shadowy figures who appear at random times, some silky-smooth black rocks that may or may not be some sort of key, and some vividly depicted moments of destruction (a plane crash sequence shot in one, bravura take with Cage running through the burning wreckage is almost too intensely detailed), and Knowing builds to a wild finale that's surprisingly downbeat. Recycling some themes and motifs from his best film, Dark City, Proyas is most definitely a gifted movie-maker. His previous effort, I, Robot, was decent summer sci-fi, but Knowing is closer in spirit to Dark City, and while it's not as good, Proyas reminds you that it's nice to have some ideas and thought mixed into all of the action and pyrotechnics. It's not a great movie, but it's good enough, somewhat thought-provoking, and worth checking out.


I'll be seeing Bruno tomorrow. Really looking forward.

I've got the indie sci-fi actioner Push on DVD. I've also got Waltz with Bashir on DVD.

There are three smaller movies that have just been released near me but the theater they're playing in sucks so bad that it's tough to justify plunking down $10 per ticket to sit in a theater from the 70's that hasn't seen any upgrades. Whatever Works, Moon, and Away We Go are the titles in question. Very annoying.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Mad Men. Season 3. Less than a month. Big time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Michael Mann's Public Enemies is a masterpiece and the best film of 2009 thus far. From first frame to last, I was totally engrossed in this sprawling yet intimate crime saga. I'll be seeing this one again in the theater a few times. Dante Spinotti's electrifying cinematography is a sure-bet for an Oscar nom (if not win). Mann stages some of the best shoot-outs of his career (with one set-piece coming close to the downtown-LA shootout in Heat) in Public Enemies, and he's helped enormously by Johnny Depp's charismatic and showy lead performance. The screenplay is intelligent, economical, and always engaging. As Dargis in the NY Times said, it's a work of art, and unlike any gangster film before it.

Monday, July 13, 2009


We got married on Sunday, June 28th, 2009. Nicholas and Erica Clement. The weather was beautiful. My wife looked extraordinary. The food was sensational. Everyone partied. Everything went perfect. Take a peek.

Our sweet-heart table, next to the cake (natch).

The Perennial Garden at Elizabeth Park in West Hartford, CT.

We named the various guest tables after some of our favorite movies. We sat at True Romance, natch.

My father (and best man) giving his amazing speech.

Me kissing the most beautiful woman I've ever seen.

My groomsmen: Jed, John, Matt, Mike. My other groomsmen, Lon, was helping my grandparents get settled. Thanks for all of the help, buddy.

Happy. Relieved. Excited.

The name-cards for our guests.

The kiss of our lives.

People hard at work, making it all look smashing.

Elizabeth Park. We got lucky. It was 75 degrees. Breezy. Nobody was sweating. Couldn't have asked for better weather.

A big moment right here.

Aren't we a bunch of tough guys.

Our Right Stuff/Michael Bay hero shot/Reservoir Dogs moment.

Erica's sister, Denise (matron of honor), Erica, and her mother, Rhonda.

Cocktail hour.

Me dancing with my beautiful sister, Marisa (she was a bridesmaid).

Lon gets a hug from the groom.

The two men in Erica's life.

I'm a lucky duck. Our first dance.

I love kissing her.

A sweet little shot.

Pure happiness.

My mom, ever the perfectionist, working some last-minute magic on the cake table. Martha Stewart a'int got shit on my mother.

One of my groomsmen, Matt, with his lovely parents.

My parents. Cute, huh?

Lon escorting my grandparents, who made the trip from Naples, Florida. He's 93. She's 83. And they're still full of life.

My parents walking me down to the ceremony spot.

Erica with her parents.

My sister looking all dramatic and teary.

My cousin Gabe, my grandpa Lou, my uncle Peter.

They played during the ceremony in the garden.

My dad and his daughter.

My dad and his poker buddies.

Cutting the cake. Marble cake with mocha-cappuccino mousse. Yes, we put a slice in the freezer for next June.

Our Justice of the Peace (Shelley), me, my dad, Jed.

The cake.

My mother, Erica, and Erica's mother.

Erica's father, Bill, gets a dance with his gorgeous daughter.

Bill giving his speech.

Me and all my boys.

A lifetime of happines awaits.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I've been away for the last 12 days on my honeymoon. We first went to The Balsams Grand Resort in Dixville Notch, NH. Then we went to Montreal. We finished up in NYC for the weekend. It went perfect. Here's some snaps:

We arrive at The Balsams and grab drinks at The Tavern.

Breakfast at The Balsams. Always an event.

Us in front of a rushing waterfall (it rained every day) at The Balsams.

The facade.

Us at dinner at The Balsams

Taking a practice swing on the one morning when it didn't rain.

The Panorama Golf Course at The Balsams. I shot an 89; played the best round of my life. Though Erica dropped a 75-foot chip shot from the outer rough. It was a mind-blowing moment.

Taking down a lobster.

4th of July fireworks at The Balsams. This picture doesn't do it any justice.

Our favorite spot in Montreal -- a little Suisse chocolatier who made some of the best frozen chocolate drinks we've ever tasted. The guy knew us by name by the end of the week.

Breakfast at Eggspecations in Montreal. I swear the cook was a coke addict and his powder got mixed into my food because I was higher than a mother-fucker after eating this dish. Strawberry-bannana french toast where the fruit has been cooked in Brandy. I broke out into a cold sweat for about 45 minutes after eating it. The world around me looked sped up like it does in action movies when the d.o.p. undercranks the shutter to make everthing look crisp and fast.

Notre-dame Basillica in Old Montreal.

Light from The 30th Annual Jazz Festival in Montreal.

Listening to some tunes at the Jazz Festival.

A Pagoda at the Botanical gardens in Montreal.

Erica looking all bad-ass.

Botanical gardens.

More botanical gardens.

One more garden shot for good measure.

Dinner at Gibby's in Old Montreal. The place is an institution. I had a Parmesan/breadcrumb/dijon mustard crusted strip steak. Medium rare. Erica went with the Filet Mignon. Truly incredible.

The happy couple in the throws of a steak-gasm.

Probably the best photo I've ever taken. About 30 minutes after an intense sun-shower. The streets of Old Montreal.

Another shot I love.

Nice light.

Nice clouds.

A hungry little bird that I fed while having a pizza on Crescent street in Montreal.

The best frozen chocolate drinks of all time. Dark-chocolate orange and white-chocolate Toblerone.

The bathroom at the Soho Grand hotel in Soho, NY.

There's Italian food and then there's Angelo's on Mulberry (at Grand). Linguine alla Vongole and Rigatoni alla Vodka with chicken. Can't be beat. The oldest (and best) restaurant in Little Italy.

Us at Angelo's.

Soho. Sunday morning at about 11am.

Public garden in Soho.

Our in-room gold-fish at The Soho Grand.

The Soho Grand.

The best restaurant meal I've ever eaten. Asia de Cuba on Madison Ave at the Morgans Hotel. Strip steak in an orange seseame-soy marinade with Honeydew/Cantaloupe slaw, with chicpea fries. Unfuckingreal.

Outside of the Soho Grand.

The Chocolate Opera Cake at Asia de Cuba. It tastes as intense as it looks.

On the movie front, we saw Transformers 2 in a museum-style Imax theater and I literally shit myself in my seat. We also saw Under the Sea: 3-D at the Science Museum in Montreal. It was a blast.
Tomorrow is Public Enemies. Bruno on Tuesday.