Wednesday, September 30, 2009


George Romero's original was an entertaining piece of C-level crap. This is the sort of movie that should be getting the remake treatment -- take a potent idea (super-secret toxic chemicals are accidentally dumped into a small town's reservoir and the residents go, well, crazy), drop the original's silliness, don't spend too much money on it, get an indie-flavored cast, and try to scare the shit out of the audience. The director is Breck Eisner, he of Sahara. Make of that what you will. In any event, I'm normally not big on horror movies, but I love the idea of The Crazies, and I'm hoping it's a lot of nasty fun.


Monday, September 28, 2009

TOP 20 OF 2009

Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 (A+)
Michael Mann’s Public Enemies (A+)
Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (A+)
Pete Docter’s Up (A+)
Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah (A+)
Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck’s Sugar (A+)
Ramin Bahrani’s Good Bye Solo (A+)
Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! (A)
Jody Hill’s Observe and Report (A)
Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (A)

Henry Selick’s Coraline (A)
Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (A)
Bobcat Goldthwait’s World’s Greatest Dad (A)
Todd Philips’ The Hangover (A)
Tony Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 123 (A)
Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer (A)
JJ Abrams’ Star Trek (A-)
Mike Judge’s Extract (A-)
Neveldine/Taylor’s Crank: High Voltage (A-)
James Gray’s Two Lovers (A-)

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I absolutely loved Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! (A). The film is like an onion, and for me, will probably prove to be extremely rewarding upon multiple viewings. The screenplay by Scott Z. Burns is brilliant in many respects, and Matt Damon delivers what's probably the best (and my favorite) performance of the year so far. I'll have a full review soon, but this is a deceptive and tricky and sophisticated black comedy that's going to confound some viewers and delight others. Getting old-school Marvin Hamlisch to score the film (sometimes with a freaking kazoo!) is a typical Soderbergh move; this director continues to surprise with his bold filmmaking decisions. The Informant! is an extremely funny movie but in a very ironic, irreverent way; it's also completely terrifying in that you're basically watching a schizophrenic (yet genius) person flush their entire life down the toilet. Comparison's to Michael Mann's The Insider are appropriate but not entirely accurate. Sure, the landscape is big business and both films feature "whistle blowers" as their protagonists, but The Informant! struts its stuff as a devilish, Coen-esque black comedy, where as Mann's masterpiece was a journalism thriller on par with the likes of All the President's Men. In any event, The Informant! is yet another instance of Soderbergh taking wild creative chances, and having those chances paying off like gangbusters. Don't let this movie sneak by you.


From the producing and directing team of District B-13 and Taken. I love this artwork.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I'll be seeing The Informant! on Saturday afternoon. Really looking forward.

On Saturday I should be getting Lymelife from Netflix.

I just picked up the recent DVD release of Observe and Report so I'm guessing I'll watch this deranged masterwork from start to finish at some point over the next few days.

Surrogates looks kinda cool, but aspects of it look...I don't know...a bit off. We'll have to see. In the weeks leading up to its release I've read/heard nothing (good or bad) about it. I love Willis, I love sci-fi, the director is the solid Jonathan Mostow (T3, Breakdown), and the special effects look slick. If anyone checks it out, let me know what you think...

Fame might be a guilty pleasure...when it hits DVD...unless my wife reeeaaallly wants to see it on the big screen :)


It's actually pretty damn creepy. Especially on the big screen. The scariest alien movie I've ever seen is still Fire in the Sky.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009



We saw this trailer before Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs last weekend and it knocked our socks off. Zemeckis, yet again an innovator, looking like he's delivered his second X-mas classic.

Monday, September 21, 2009


This is my 1,000 post on this blog. Congrats to me!

Things will be changing a bit around here. Luckily (and rather miraculously), I've been able to secure a full time job at an advertising agency here in Connecticut. I'm back to work as of this morning at 9am. I am very excited.Blog postings might be lighter for the next few weeks as I get up to speed at my new gig, but I'll still be posting at night and in the morning so be on the lookout for new stuff.

Last weekend I saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 3-D and I found it to be entertaining kiddie nonsense -- a fun way to kill 90 minutes and look at some wacky stuff. Call me crazy, but the idea of pancakes and burgers raining from the sky is pretty neat. I'll be checking out The Informant! later this week or this coming weekend.

Also, my wife and I watched one of our favorite childhood movies, Ron Howard's Splash, last weekend. What a brilliant comedy. Line for line, scene for scene, it's one of the most consistently funny screenplays ever created. I used to watch the film every day when I was growing up and I haven't seen it in close to 15 years, so in many ways, watching it last weekend was a revelation of sorts. Sure, all of the scenes that I liked when I was a child were still funny, but it was the mature humor that I never understood as a kid that struck me this time out. It's such a hard PG movie when you think about it too. John Candy's performance has to be considered one of his best, and the sight of a young Eugene Levy still makes me chuckle. It's still one of Howard's best movies.

We also watched Peggy Sue Got Married, which I had never seen, and found to be cute and harmless and very entertaining due primarily to Nicolas Cage's hysterical and totally bananas performance. His voice in that movie! So hard to think that Coppola made Peggy Sue after The Godfather.

Next up from Netflix is the 80's classic Clue. Haven't seen it in years.

Friday, September 18, 2009


The Informant! is a must see; sometime over the next few days.

I'll also be checking out Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3-D.

Jennifer's Body will be a Netflix in a few short months.

Speaking of Netflix, I'm in disc transition right now, so nothing new for the weekend. Just watched the 80's classic Peggy Sue Got Married last night. Cute flick.

I'll probably hit up Blockbuster at some point over the weekend; I'd like to rent that Disney nature doc Earth on Blu Ray.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm getting a serious Munchausen vibe from this one, and for me, that's a great thing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



I loved Mike Judge's hysterical new comedy Extract (A-). I'm looking forward to discussing it at length soon and I'm already anticipating the DVD release. It's unfortunately dying a quick death at the box office in the same fashion as Judge's other two brilliant comedies, Office Space and Idiocracy. Just not fair. Jason Bateman is a funny motherfucker and he really kills it in this movie. Everyone in the cast kills it for that matter. Go see it.

Also, go out and rent Good Dick (A-), an extremely offbeat and highly emotional romantic dramedy from writer/director/actress Marianna Palka. I'll have some extended thoughts in an upcoming DVD round up.

Lastly, the local Blockbuster Video near my apartment is closing (too many other locations in the immediate area), and they are liquidating their inventory. At reduced rate, I picked up the following titles: Che Part 1, Che Part 2, Two Lovers, Little Monsters, Space Camp, The Squid and the Whale, Happy-Go-Lucky, I Love You, Man, I'm Not Scared, I've Loved You So Long, and Spaceballs. Each week the liquidated prices will get lower, so I'm expecting add more titles by the week.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I am hoping to have a religious experience while watching this movie on the big screen.


This was apparently one of the posters created by the art/marketing dept. on Werner Herzog's upcoming and allegedly druggy crime noir The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. I love this poster; I want to frame it and put it up in my living room. It's priceless and oh so Herzogian in its brazenness.

Friday, September 11, 2009



Husband and wife writer/director team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have knocked it out of the park again with Sugar (A+), a wonderful film about baseball, America, and how an immigrant's first experiences in our country are shaped around our national pastime. Their previous picture, the school-teacher/crack-addict drama Half Nelson, was a startling debut, which announced a new voice in independent cinema. The cinema verite style, combined with intense, raw performances (Ryan Gosling's bravura work should have gotten the Oscar), made for a searing portrait of man coming to pieces. In Sugar, Boden and Fleck take the same pseudo-doc style aesthetic, but have made a film as optimistic as Half Nelson was bleak. And while baseball is a major aspect to Sugar, the film is ultimately about an immigrant's strange and life-changing journey.

The film can be seen as three distinct pieces. In the opening segment we meet Miguel "Sugar" Santos (the fantastic Algenis Perez Soto, a baseball player who decided to give acting a shot) on his home turf in the Dominican Republic. He's a hot-shot pitcher, a phenom, someone who the MLB scouts are pegging could go all the way. We observe his mostly poor surroundings, and we see how he's the treasure of the family, the one person who everyone else thinks will bring the family some fortune. It's a lot of responsibility, and the film is keen to observe that for many young baseball players in the Dominican Republic, this sort of thing is a regular occurrence. Boden and Fleck shoot the scenes in the Dominican Republic in a rougher fashion, especially when compared to the lush camera style and warmer colors they employ when the action shifts to Iowa, where Sugar has been called up to AA ball. Here, the film becomes a fish out of water tale, as Sugar adapts to middle-of-the-U.S.A. living, all the while trying to keep his spot on the team, in the hopes of becoming a pro. The last section, the part I will discuss the least, takes place in a major American city, and these scenes take on a life of their own, in both dramatic function and style.

I guess what I'm trying to get across is that Sugar is exceedingly rich, with lots of genuine emotion and feeling running throughout its seams. The film never stinks of elitist condescension when it comes to the plight of the immigrant; Fleck and Boden's clear-eyed doc-style keeps the film grounded and realistic. The baseball scenes are handled skillfully, but never in a show-off manner. Soto, who was recruited for his baseball skills and handsome looks, delivers a quietly powerful performance as the titular character. A man of few words (for multiple reasons), Sugar represents all that's possible for people when they have a certain talent. And he learns that in the end, it's not necessarily how you use that talent to succeed in life, but rather how you use your talents to broaden your horizons and experience life to the fullest. Fleck and Boden, in working with the great cinematographer Andrij Parekh, keep a close, observant eye on everyone in the film, whether it be through long tracking shots or simple camera set ups which maximize the dramatics of the scene. Sugar isn't just a simple sports film, and those people who are looking for a movie where it all comes down to the final pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning are going to be disappointed. Instead, with Sugar, Fleck and Boden have crafted an exceptionally engaging movie that strikes many interesting, unpredictable, and satisfying chords. It's one of the best films of the year.


This weekend, none of the new releases are of any interest to me.

I'll be catching up with Extract tomorrow afternoon.

From Netflix I've got the rom-com Good Dick. I might take a trip over to Blockbuster as well and grab a few titles...

Hard to believe it's been 8 years since 9/11.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Do you see the above picture? That's basically what Gamer (B) is. Gamer is a deranged movie, made by deranged people (the Crank auteurs, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor), for audiences who like a little deranged entertainment. What I find so interesting about the down and dirty Neveldine/Taylor aesthetic is that it's like they are drug addicts behind the camera; there isn't one single frame of Gamer that hasn't been futzed with in some whacked-out way. Tony Scott eat your heart out. The plot? Ha! It's the near future, and the hottest form of entertainment is something called "Slayer," a role-playing, reality-based video game where convicts are thrown onto an urban battlefield and have to fight to the death. Except the twist is that they are merely avatars for their users; in the case of the film's hero, Kable (Gerard Butler), a 17 year-old punk. Neveldine/Taylor attempt some half-hearted satire but their skills with writing strong dialogue aren't on the same level as their ultra-sophisticated visual style. But I doubt anyone who pays $10 to see this vomitorium of graphic violence and sexual perversity will be thinking much about story or character development. Gamer is what it is and Neveldine/Taylor make no bones about the vicious types of entertainment they like to unleash. The film is as unapologetic when it comes to violence and sex as the Crank movies were, but the difference here is that with Gamer, the psycho writer/directors have tried to make a "movie-movie," and their overall success is a bit limited. Everything works in the Crank films because those films are essentially R-rated Looney Tunes adventures. Gamer has shades of Death Race and The Running Man and even the little-seen Edward Furlong horror/thriller Brainscan. I enjoyed the movie for what it was -- an assault on my senses. The cinematography is ferocious and visceral and there are a few overhead battle sequence shots that were simply incredible. And the Body Double-esque mid-film music video dance sequence/fight was an inspired bit of lunacy. It's silly but fun action-movie trash that could only come from the sick minds of Neveldine/Taylor.


John Baddham's outlandishly entertaining "real-time" thriller Nick of Time (B+) is the Johnny Depp movie that everyone seems to have forgotten about. The film's crazy premise -- an innocent man is plucked at random by terrorists and told that unless he kills the Governor of California his little daughter will be shot -- is handled in such a Hitchcockian B-movie way that it's hard not to enjoy the preposterous fun. Depp is fun to watch as always (interesting to see him here pre-Pirates), Christopher Walken makes for a nasty bad-guy, and Baddham's stylish direction keeps the movie running at a tight clip.

My Date With Drew (B+) could have come off as a stalker video, so it's a testament to the charm of the film's writer/producer/director/star Jon Gunn that it doesn't. This guy decided to try and get a date with his life-long crush (Barrymore) and film the entire process. It's funny, oddly touching in a few spots, and quite surprising in more than one instance.

I laughed out loud a few times while watching the wretched Dance Flick (D-) so on that basis alone, it doesn't get an F. However, this movie, despite the funny trailers, fails in almost every single scene; parody comedy doesn't have to be Shakespeare, but holy shit this film is incompetent. And how many Wayans's are there at this point?

Richard Shepard's The Hunting Party (B+) is an odd duck; not quite a comedy, not quite a thriller, not quite a war satire, but something of a mix of all those parts. It bills itself as a "crazy true story" or something to that effect, and while the plot is involving (a group of thrill-seeking news reporters hunt for a war criminal), it seems a bit too convenient at times. Still, the three central performances from Richard Gere, Jesse Eisenberg, and Terrence Howard are all strong, the cinematography is impressive, and the script hits some seriously dark notes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


When will it open? And will it be unedited?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


...but really looking forward to seeing this on Blu Ray next month.
Also, I loved Sugar (A), which is one of the year's richest and best films. Review will be up soon.
Didn't make it to the theaters this past weekend so no word yet on Extract or Gamer but I hope to see them both soon.
Right now I've got the idiotic but somewhat funny looking Dance Flick and the well reviewed indie rom-com Good Dick at home to watch. I'll have a big DVD round up coming up.

Friday, September 4, 2009




I'll be seeing Extract this weekend, though exactly when I am not sure. Also, I'll be checking out Gamer, but that'll likely be early next week.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


The fact that Jerry Bruckheimer is paying some guy named Peter Craig to write Bad Boys 3 for director Michael Bay and stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

I've got the baseball movie Sugar coming tomorrow from Netflix. Very pumped to see it. Have heard nothing but amazing things about it.

It now appears as if Terrence Malick's fifth feature film, The Tree of Life, will actually open this December. It's being released by a new specialty unit called Apparition Films so I'll be curious to see how wide the release is. The film stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and apparently, some dinosaurs. I will have to bring a change of pants to the theater. Thanks for the heads up on the release date tidbit, Joel. And here's a link to Joel's new spiffy blog:

Disney buying Marvel means nothing to me. More rich people get richer. Corporate strategy. It'll be interesting to see if Disney puts Pixar and Marvel together for any of the upcoming projects...

The whole 10 nominees for Best Picture at the Oscars is both a great idea and a bad idea. I like it because now there's a chance that a few smaller movies with lower profiles could actually get some Oscar traction, thus making them more widely seen. But upping the count from 5 to 10 sort of dings the significance of being "nominated for the Best Picture Oscar."

Another Rambo movie (the fifth installment was just announced yesterday) is something I never thought possible after the most recent one, which was basically gonzo-violence-porn and one of the goriest things I've ever seen. What will Stallone come up with next?

I really can't wait to see this movie:

This one too:

Good Bye Solo has been sticking to the ribs over the last few days. Same with World's Greatest Dad.

Gladiator and Braveheart both get released on Blu Ray today.

JimmyO over at Joblo loved Extract:

The excellent journalism/political thriller State of Play from this past April hits DVD today.

The viciously brilliant and extremely aggressive black comedy Observe and Report hits DVD on 9/22.

Army of Darkness hits Blu Ray on 9/15. Who doesn't love a little medieval slapstick humor?

The childhood classic Labyrinth hits Blu Ray on 9/29. Same with Dark Crystal. It's Jim Henson Day.

The fact that AMC's Mad Men has continued on with its brilliance makes me extremely happy. It's the fastest hour of the week.

It's pretty incredible that Inglorious Basterds is headed to well over $100 million in domestic ticket sales. Not that it's a bad film, far from it. It's just that I never thought that what is essentially a 2.5 hour partially French New Wave-styled art film would connect with audiences in the way it has. Sure, it's got some wild violence which is the stuff of water-cooler chat, but the film is mostly about people talking and characters being developed in a slow-burn fashion. I'm glad it's a hit. I'm looking forward to seeing it again.

The very best movies I've seen so far this year (District 9, Public Enemies, The Hurt Locker, Up, and Gomorrah) have essentially been perfect. At least as far as I'm concerned.

Even though it's been met with mostly critical indifference, I'm still interested in Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock.