Sunday, May 31, 2009


Up is a masterpiece. The people over at Pixar are apparently incapable of creating anything less than a perfect movie going experience. More to come in a full review, but this film has it all: a huge heart, a real sense of excitement, a witty sense of humor, tears of joy, tears of pain, and incredible moments of personal triumph. It's a brilliant piece of work. I'll probably see it again in the theaters.

Friday, May 29, 2009


I'll be seeing Pixar's Up this Sunday. Probably gonna check it out in 3-D. It should be fun. It's gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews. I loved last summer's Pixar entry Wall*E -- it's pretty much my favorite animated movie of all time. I've been slow to warm up to animated movies, but some of the recent offerings from Pixar (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall*E) have been as good or better than most of the live-action movies released in those years.

From Netflix I have the straight-to-DVD indie Powder Blue, a.k.a, the movie where Jessica Biel gets naked while playing a stripper.

Also, I watched Marley & Me recently, which was about 1,000 times better than I ever expected it to be (the fact that Scott Frank and Don Roos wrote the script helped a lot). I assumed, based on the trailers, that it would be a 90 minute dog food commercial, but I was wrong. Sure, it's not brilliant, but it was actually entertaining, and anyone who has love in their heart for animals won't be able to resist it. Also, I barely made it through 20 minutes of the Bollywood genre-melder Chandi Chowk to China before I started watching it on fast-forward. It was terrible.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


1. Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight
2. Richard Donner's Superman
3. Sam Raimi's Spiderman 2
4. Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins
5. Zack Snyder's 300
6. Tim Burton's Batman
7. Zack Snyder's Watchmen
8. M. Night Shymalan's Unbreakable
9. Bryan Singer's X-2
10. Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy


1. David Fincher's Fight Club
2. Mary Harron's American Psycho
3. Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko
4. David Fincher's The Game
5. M. Night Shymalan's The Sixth Sense
6. Spike Jonze's Adaptation
7. David Slade's Hard Candy
8. Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, NY
9. Joel & Ethan Coen's Barton Fink
10. Alan Parker's Pink Floyd: The Wall

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


1. Tony Scott's Top Gun
2. Michael Bay's The Rock
3. John McTiernan's Die Hard with a Vengeance
4. Michael Bay's Bad Boys 2
5. John McTiernan's Die Hard
6. Steven Speilberg's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
7. Luc Besson's Leon
8. Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon
9. Paul Greengrass' The Bourne Ultimatum
10. John Woo's Face/Off


The only thing that links the new Star Trek and Terminator franchise re-boots is the common element of actor Anton Yelchin, who appears in both films. But the similarities end right there. Where the new Star Trek adventure reps possibly the best installment ever in that franchise, the new Terminator movie is easily the worst in its series.

J.J. Abrams can't miss right now. He redesigned the monster movie for a new generation with last year's Cloverfield. He's been dominating the television landscape for the better part of the last decade (Lost, Alias, Felicity, Fringe). And his feature film directorial debut, Mission: Impossible 3, was the best yet in that franchise. Now, with his exciting and re-energized Star Trek (A-), he boldly takes the old-school Trek template and breathes fresh new life into its DNA. Powered by a young, sexy and talented cast and bolstered by eye-popping special effects and tremendous production values, this new Star Trek starts over from the beginning (ala Casino Royale and Batman Begins) and tells you to forget all that came before. Never being a "Trekkie," I went into this new movie as a lover, first and foremost, of the science fiction genre, basically looking for a fun time at the movies. And what I got was nothing less than supreme entertainment. The story is loony but what did you expect? Kirk (Chris Pine, a star in the making) and Spock (Zachary Quinto, perfect) clash for control over the U.S.S. Enterprise while contending with a nasty Romulan villain (played with evil relish by Eric Bana) who's bent on destroying most of the known universe (for surprisingly thoughtful reasons it turns out...). Abrams and his ace cinematographer Daniel Mindel (who shot Domino and Spy Game for Tony Scott) shoot the film with a vibrant color palette and include a series of near-blinding lens flares throughout much of the film to simulate the newness and the grandeur of space. The film has a gorgeous visual panache all throughout. There are any number of stand-out action set-pieces, my favorite being the ridiculous yet heart-stopping "space-dive" onto a space-elevator-like platform where Kirk, Spock, and Sulu battle some nasty henchmen. The movie breezes along at a frenetic but never incomprehensible pace, and thanks to the tight-enough scripting by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers 1 & 2, Eagle Eye), you never really stop to second guess some of the plot holes (they’re there if you want to nit-pick). It's all too much damn fun to sweat the small stuff. The broad strokes are all right on the money, which is why it's easy to forgive some momentary lapses in logic, and the sheer idiocy of the idea that a space ship could outrun a rapidly forming black hole. Being that this is the first film in a new series (and with this movie closing in on $200 million in domestic ticket sales in less than a month you can bet there will be sequels), you have to wade through some obligatory scenes of exposition and set-up. One can imagine that the sequel, if handled correctly, could become The Dark Knight of pop science-fiction adventures. We'll see what happens, but I love where Abrams and his crew have taken us so far.

On the complete opposite end of the quality spectrum lives McTool's, err…sorry…I meant…McG's rancid Terminator: Salvation (D), a film that takes a fat dump on a once potent franchise of sci-fi blockbusters. Honestly, the less said about this disgrace the better. I had my doubts about whether or not this film would be any good the moment I head that McG was going to be directing. He's responsible for the two Charlie's Angels movies (a series of clips posing as complete works) and the overly sentimental football movie We Are Marshall. What producer thought that this clown was fit to tackle this franchise? Just because you've seen Terminator 2 about 1,000 times and just because you were a fan of Children of Men (Terminator: Salvation has a bunch of cool but unnecessary unbroken shots of heavily choreographed action and destruction) doesn't mean you're ready to take on a $200 million science fiction blockbuster. Hell, even the sort-of jokey Terminator 3 was a better movie; at least that film had a ballsy ending and some genuinely suspenseful action sequences. In Terminator: Salvation, the best that can be said is that the explosions went off at the same time that the cameras were rolling. The screenplay is a joke. The dialogue is beyond wooden and witless, and none of the spoken words are done many favors by the grunting and shouting that McG calls "acting" from a cast that looks bored stiff. I hate to say it, but for the first time to my eye, Christian Bale has delivered a completely phoned-in performance. He's John Connor, the leader of the resistance of humans who are fighting against the machines that started "Judgement Day" and wiped out most of humanity with nukes. The confused screenplay cuts back and forth between Connor fighting the good fight against Skynet, and a mysterious criminal named Marcus Wright who holds some sort of secret. Honestly, I am done "reviewing" this piece of shit. McG has dropped a wet-fart in the lap of series creator James Cameron; I'd love to hear what Cameron thinks of this travesty. Gone is the novelty of Terminator, the narrative and visual elegance of Terminator 2, and the brute-force of Terminator 3. Instead, we have a limp, PG-13 rated sci-fi/war movie hybrid that feels over-long while actually clocking in at less than two hours. Sure, the special effects are impressive, and the Terminator robots themselves have been lovingly crafted and built. I do commend the visual effects artists and the cinematographer, Shane Hurlburt, who have created a gun-metal gray, monochromatic apocalyptic wasteland that looks and feels authentic. It's just a pity that the performances suck (this new guy Sam Worthington is a total non-starter), that the script is junk, and that the direction is formless and flat. The film feels like a special-effects demo reel and not a complete piece of cinema. I won't be upset if this is the last time I see the Terminator saga on the big screen. And that feeling is probably the most disappointing aspect of the entire experience.

Monday, May 25, 2009


1. Andrew Dominik's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
2. John Ford's My Darling Clementine
3. George Roy Hill's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
4. Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch
5. John Ford's The Searchers
6. Anthony Mann's Winchester ‘73
7. Sam Peckinpah's Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia
8. Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
9. John Hillcoat's The Proposition
10. Ron Howard's The Missing


1. Ridley Scott's Bladerunner
2. James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgement Day
3. Ridley Scott's Alien
4. Alex Proyas' Dark City
5. Steven Speilberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind
6. Robert Zemeckis' Back to the Future
7. Irvin Kirshner's The Empire Strikes Back
8. Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men
9. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey
10. Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys


McG's Terminator: Salvation is a wet fart.

Friday, May 22, 2009


1. Phil Alden Robinson's Field of Dreams
2. Peter Berg's Friday Night Lights
3. Ron Shelton's Tin Cup
4. John Lee Hancock's The Rookie
5. David Anspaugh's Rudy
6. John Sayles' Eight Men Out
7. Ron Shelton's White Men Can't Jump
8. David S. Ward's Major League
9. Ron Shelton's Bull Durham
10. Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday


I absolutely cannot wait to see this movie.


I wish Terminator: Salvation had gotten better reviews. I will still see it (Monday morning most likely) but my expectations are low at this point. The major concern I've had about this movie (other than the PG-13 rating) is the film's director: McG. The guy is sort of a tool. We'll see what the deal is the very least I expect to see some cool explosions and special effects.

From Netflix I have the Bollywood romp Chandi Chowk to China. If you haven't seen the trailer, I suggest you go to and check it out. And then tell me that it doesn't look completely off-the-wall-insane.

Also, over the last week, I've been watching the amazing, three-hour making-of documentary on the recently released Criterion edition of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It's a truly extraordinary behind the scenes look at how long it took to get the film up on the big screen. The painstaking digital process to create the old/young Benjamin is just mind-blowing. It really needs to be seen to be believed. Great movie; great doc. Check it out when you can.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


1. Jim Abraham, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker's Airplane
2. Peter & Bobby Farrelly's Dumb and Dumber
3. Jon Favreau's Made
4. Harold Ramis' Groundhog Day
5. George Roy Hill's Slapshot
6. Ivan Reitman's Ghost Busters
7. David Gordon Green's Pineapple Express
8. Peter & Bobby Farrelly's Kingpin
9. Joel & Ethan Coen's The Big Lebowski
10. Trey Parker & Matt Stone's Team America: World Police
(Note: what is it about the comedy genre that brings out tandem directors?)


Typical. Love it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


1. Michael Mann's Heat
2. William Friedkin's The French Connection
3. Joe Carnahan's Narc
4. Martin Scorsese's The Departed
5. Michael Mann's Miami Vice
6. Antoine Fuqua's Training Day
7. Martin Brest's Beverly Hills Cop
8. James Mangold's Copland
9. William Friedkin's To Live and Die in L.A.
10. Erik Skjoldbjaerg's Insomnia (1997)


1. Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas
2. Fernando Meirelles' City of God
3. Martin Scorsese's Casino
4. Jonathan Glazer's Sexy Beast
5. Brian De Palma's Scarface (1983)
6. Joel and Ethan Coen's Millers Crossing
7. Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition
8. Brian De Palma's The Untouchables
9. Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather: Part 2
10. Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America


Kelly Reichardt's darkly poignant Wendy and Lucy (A) is a small masterpiece, a film filled with nuance, subtlety, and intense but always honest emotions. Michelle Williams, who was robbed of an Oscar nomination, gives a bravura performance, etching a startling portrait of a woman who is literally at the end of her mental and pyhsical rope. Reichardt's unsentimental yet deeply affecting narrative offers multiple glimpses of human compassion, something that's rare to see in most movies today; it's a small tour de force for all involved.

Monday, May 18, 2009


1. Joel and Ethan Coen's Fargo
2. Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction
3. Neil LaBute's In the Company of Men
4. Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove
5. Alexander Payne's Election
6. Todd Solondz's Happiness
7. Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums
8. Robert Altman's The Player
9. Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa
10. Jody Hill's Observe and Report


1. David Fincher's Seven
2. Park Chan-Wook's Oldboy
3. Jonathan Demme's Silence of the Lambs
4. Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train
5. David Fincher's Zodiac
6. Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver
7. Bryan Singer's The Usual Suspects
8. Steven Spielberg's Jaws
9. Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest
10. Fritz Lang's M.


Sunday, May 17, 2009


1. Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity
2. Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential
3. Roman Polanski's Chinatown
4. Tony Scott's True Romance
5. John Huston's The Maltese Falcon
6. John Dahl's Red Rock West
7. Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep
8. John Dahl's The Last Seduction
9. Stanley Kubrick's The Killing
10. Robert Rodriguez's Sin City


1. Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down
2. Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line
3. Oliver Stone's Platoon
4. Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter
5. Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket
6. Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan
7. Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot
8. Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now
9. Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July
10. Franklin J. Schaffner's Patton


After seeing this piece by filmmaker Frank Darabont (Shawshank, Green Mile, The Mist) -- -- I've been inspired to rank my favorite movies in any given genre. Please note in Darabont's article that his picks aren't necessarily the "best" movies in that genre, but rather, his favorite. Same goes for me. I'll be posting a bunch of these coming up; hopefully the people that read this blog can share with their own selections.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009


I am not excited enough about Angels and Demons to see it in the theater. I'll check it out on DVD. The DaVinici Code literally put me to the theater...even during the car chase. I'll get around to this new one at some point, but I'm in no rush.

I'd still like to catch Wolverine on a matinee at some point. Expectations are low, but that might be an advantage.

From Netflix, I've got Wendy and Lucy, the critically acclaimed 2008 indie with Michelle Williams that won tons of festival awards and appeared on numerous top 10 lists.

It'll be interesting to see how big Angels and Demons opens at the box office. I think there's a chance that Star Trek could beat it for the #1 spot. Trek's weekday grosses have been phenomenal (it's set to cross $100 million in domestic ticket sales today). If I had the time (and sadly I probably won't) I'd go see Star Trek again. It was a blast. My full review will be posted soon.

Also, as well as continuing my series of posts on movies that I think are underrated, I'm going to be posting genre lists, or rather, my 10 favorite movies in any given genre. Should be fun.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Last night's finale of Lost's fifth season was intense. This show has gotten so layered that it's gonna take an act of god to unravel all of the narrative's mysteries during its final 16 episode season next year. **SPOILERS** With the apparent detonation of a nuclear device in the episode's final moments, and with that sketchy flash-to-white with the tagline: 2010. The End Begins, Lost is really going to be something special to experience next year. For those of us who have remained faithful to this brilliant, one-of-a-kind show, the pay-off could be truly spectacular. epic fail. We'll see...


I love R-rated movies. You just know that nothing's been compromised. There are other R-rated features coming out this summer (Bruno, Inglorious Basterds), but these are the two that I want to see the most. Having a Michael Mann film and a film by Tony Scott in the same summer (not to mention in a 10 day stretch) is pure movie-going bliss. At least for me...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009



Andrew Niccol is a smart guy. He wrote The Truman Show and the first draft of The Terminal and wrote and directed a very underrated sci-fi noir called Gattaca. However, his most recent film, Lord of War, which came and went in theaters during the fall of 2005, is a supremely undervalued effort that deserves a second life. It sits at 61% "fresh" overall at Rottentomatoes, which isn't terrible. It's just that way too many critics missed the boat on this movie. However, some people, like Ebert and David Deby saw the film for what it is: a dryly ironic and savage indictment of military policy and the worldwide demand for guns and ammunition. Lionsgate, the production company behind the release of the film (which was an independent production and the creative freedom from that fact shows in the final product), miss-marketed the movie as a straight-forward action flick, showcasing the few times guns are actually fired in the movie during the trailer, and making it out to be some standard Nic Cage blow 'em up, something that Lord of War most definitely is not.

Based on true events, the movie is about an international arms dealer named Yuri Orlov (Cage) who travels to all of the global hot-spots where war is being raged. He supplies people with their guns and he gets paid. Lots and lots of money. Yuri has zero conscience; these people (no matter how poor or uneducated) want their guns and they're going to get them one way or another. He's just giving the people what they want. On Yuri's trail is an FBI agent played by Ethan Hawke who is always one step behind him. There's some B-story action involving Yuri's model wife, which isn't as engaging as the material that deals with Yuri's profession. He's also got a coke-head brother played by Jared Leto who might become Yuri's undoing. Niccol's poison-arrow satire darts hit all of their intended targets in Lord of War; this is a purposefully cynical movie about a merchant of death, a "lord of war." Yuri isn't a likable guy, but Cage makes him engaging; it's one of his better recent performances, up there with his work in Matchstick Men and Adaptation.

The film also has a note-perfect ending that I just love. Lord of War also has a brilliant opening titles sequence, giving the audience a front-row view of the birth of a bullet, from melted metal all the way to being placed in the chamber of an M-16. The camera positions itself on the side of the bullet, and we follow the bullet's life from creation to eventual resting place. It's a small tour de force of filmmaking. Working with extra-slick images from cinematographer Amir Mokri (Bad Boys 2), Niccol sometimes contradicts himself with super-sexy images of artillery and murder, while his screenplay clearly condemns the actions of its characters. This might have been Niccol's point, however; guns are attractive to people, even if what they're used for doesn't create attractive results. Lord of War deserved a better theatrical life than it was afforded; it crashed and burned at the domestic box office with just about $25 million but also pulled in about $50 million overseas. I would have to assume it's done well on DVD, but this is just one of those movies that I don't think enough people have seen, and a film that I think many people might be thrown off by because of the poor marketing it received. Lord of War isn't a masterpiece, but it's damn good, very entertaining, occasionally thought provoking, and very pissed off over a real problem that our world has always faced.


Good for Brian Goodman (pictured above, inbetween Ethan Hawke and Mark Ruffalo). Goodman, a character actor you've probably seen many times in the past, co-wrote and directed What Doesn't Kill You (A-), an excellent but brutal Boston-set crime picture with a phenomenal lead performance by Ruffalo, who is shaping up to be one of the premier actors of his generation. The fact that this is Goodman's directing debut only makes the film even more impressive; it's got a sure-hand much in the same way that Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck's directorial debut), The Departed, and Mystic River had while working in this similar milieu. The film is very simple but extremely effective. Brian (Ruffalo) and Paulie (Hawke) have been best friends since childhood. Growing up in the rough and tumble "Southie" district of Boston has led them into a life of crime. They report to crime boss Pat (Goodman, smartly casting himself in the role), who is always taking a cut of their payouts. But when Pat goes to prison, Brian and Paulie start doing jobs on their own and not reporting in to Pat's team. Then, Brian becomes a base-head, much to Paulie's anger. And as a result of Brian's addiction, his relationship with his wife Stacy (Amanda Peet, always solid) and kids becomes very strained. All of these things lead to a climactic decision on the part of Brian and Paulie of whether or not to try and rob an armored truck, which could be the score of their lives. What Doesn't Kill You works, first and foremost, as a meat and potatoes crime movie. All of the genre's themes are there: loyalty, friendship, honor, betrayal, love, and anger. Yet none of it ever feels tired or cliched. And then when you realize that the movie is a true story, one that's based on Goodman's own life (Ruffalo is playing him), the movie becomes even more riveting. Goodman, who co-wrote the sharp screenplay with Donnie Wahlberg and Paul T. Murray, directs with a straight-forward grace and cold elegance that melds perfectly with the wintry backdrop to this always compelling story. Had Yari Film Group (the production/distribution company also behind my DVD pick last week, Nothing But the Truth) not filed for bankruptcy last year, I really think that Ruffalo could have been in the running for a best actor nomination. He's that strong. But this is no surprise; for the past 10 years he's been giving great performances in a slew of movies -- check out Collateral, Zodiac, In the Cut, Reservation Road, Blindness, You Can Count On Me, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, We Don't Live Here Anymore, and XX/XY for further proof of his estimable talents. What Doesn't Kill You is one of those scrappy, ass-kicking B-movies that transcends its genre roots and rises to the top of the crop.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I've been using a star system to rate each movie I check out. I'm gonna switch it up a little and start using letter grades (including + or -). I'll see what happens. I have a feeling that I'll be more satisfied in some weird way. Anyways, here's where I'm at for the year thus far:

Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah (A+)
Jody Hill’s Observe and Report (A)
Henry Selick’s Coraline (A)
Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (A-)
JJ Abrams’ Star Trek (A-)
James Gray’s Two Lovers (A-)
Neveldine/Taylor’s Crank: High Voltage (A-)
Kevin McDonald’s State of Play (A-)
Tony Gilroy’s Duplicity (B+)
Greg Mottola’s Adventureland (B+)
John Hamburg’s I Love You, Man (B+)
Pierre Morel’s Taken (C)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


J.J. Abrams has rebooted the Star Trek franchise in the same way that Christopher Nolan rebooted Batman and Martin Campbell rebooted Bond. Star Trek (A-) is a tight, two-hour blast of summer movie fun. The special effects are stunning, Chris Pine owns the role of Kirk, the entire cast is pretty much spotless, Abrams' direction is very energetic, and the cinematography is flat-out incredible. It's not perfect, but it fully succeeds in what it wants to do, and it does it with style, smarts, and a terrific sense of reverence for the old show. If you can't be entertained by this sort of thing, than I don't know what to tell ya.


Without our mothers, none of us would be here.

Happy Mothers Day to all.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Brian De Palma's B-movie masterpiece Femme Fatale is a film that not enough people have seen. It came and went from theaters in the fall of 2002 and was met with very divided opinions by critics. Some people hated it and some people really loved it, as is the case very often with De Palma's films. However, if you want to read some excellent pieces of film criticism, check out the completely spot on reviews by Roger Ebert and A.O. Scott

The film is a supremely stylish ode to Hitchcock, murder, crime, sexy women, dangerous men, shady dealings, surrealistic dream-style fantasy, and to De Palma himself. Often labeled a Hitchcock rip-off by some critics, De Palma has made a career out of exposing a perverse sense of suspense and sexuality in his movies; check out Body Double, Dressed to Kill, Sisters, Blow Out, and Obsession for a masters class in kinky cinema. In Femme Fatale, he has fun with his own body of work, and rips himself off multiple times, with much apparent glee. Its the De Palmiest of De Palma films, like how Domino is the Toniest of Tony Scott films. The plot is too much fun to spoil in a review, but I will say that I agree with Ebert's claim that the movie is an example of "pure filmmaking." Femme Fatale is in love with cinema, and, to an exciting degree, in love with itself. It's a pastiche of different years and styles of filmmaking, revolving around an often immitated genre staple (the femme fatale and the man she dupes), set in elegant locations, and starring one of the sexiest women of all time, Rebecca Romijn. The opening heist sequence, almost 15 minutes in length and with limited dialogue, is the very definition of a tour de force. Working with the incredible cinematographer Thierry Abrogast (Leon, The Fifth Element), De Palma's swerving, gliding camerawork takes the viewer on a twisty journey down the red carpet and into one of the main screening rooms at the Cannes Film Festival, where an erotically-charged diamond heist is taking place behind the scenes. I fear I've already said too much. This movie is just a ton of fun to watch. If you like classic noirs like The Big Sleep and Double Indemnity (which gets a clever shout-out at the begining of Femme Fatale) and neo-noirs like The Last Seduction and Red Rock West (what the fuck happened to John Dahl?!), then you'll love Femme Fatale. It's glorious moviemaking.



Star Trek is the big one for this weekend. Really looking forward. It's gotten fantastic reviews (95% fresh at Rottentomatoes, with a 90% cream of the crop) and the trailers are slick as all get out. Saturday afternoon. Should be a blast.

From Netflix, I've got What Doesn't Kill You, a crime movie that got dumped into theaters last December when its distributor, Yari Film Group (Crash, Nothing but the Truth), filed for bankruptcy. It stars Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke, and marks the writing/directing debut of character actor Brian Goodman (Lost, 24). It got excellent reviews, with a notable rave from Manohla Dargis in the NYT

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Kate Beckinsale and Vera Farmiga deliver high-powered performances in Nothing But the Truth (***1/2), Rod Lurie's absorbingly melodramatic political thriller centering around a Valerie Plame/Judith Miller-esque scenario involving a headstrong journalist (Beckinsale) who refuses to name her source in relation to an article that she's written which exposes an undercover CIA agent (Farmiga). Lurie, who also wrote and directed the slightly better political pot-boiler The Contender, clearly has an understanding of journalistic ethics and the government's desire to keep a lid on sensitive information, regardless of the outcome. The film has a wild twist in its final moments, one that is both extremely clever and potentially preposterous, but it's all kept in check by the excellent supporting cast (Matt Dillon and Alan Alda are standouts), the focused work by Beckinsale (who's only better performance was in last year's underrated Snow Angels), Farmiga's live-wire portrait of a woman under extreme stress, one big plot surprise, and Lurie's clear-eyed direction and stylish eye for simple yet engrossing composition.

Without the benefit of having Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson as his stars, Joel Hopkins' Last Chance Harvey (***) would have been mediocre at best; instead, because of the star-wattage brought to the table by these classy screen vets, this enjoyable but extremely light dramedy goes down nice and smooth. Hoffman is Harvey, a guy who loses his job, misses his transcontinental flight, and is dissed by his daughter in favor of her step-father at her wedding in the span of about an hour; thankfully he meets the frumpy but fun Kate (Thompson) at the airport bar and finds a new reason to give a shit about life. The film is sappy and obvious, and some of the dialogue is the very definition of banal, but Hoffman and Thompson are both given one terrific scene each to work with, the film moves along quickly, and sometimes a feather-light movie such as this one is all you need for an evenings worth of casual, amiable entertainment.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I know the film came out last year, but I just saw this poster for Charlie Kaufman's brilliant mind-bender Synecdoche, New York, and damn it if this one-sheet doesn't perfectly sum up the movie.

Friday, May 1, 2009


(image 1st seen at

This is a very cool short film made by the director of the upcoming sci-fi flick District 9, which is basically a feature version of the short. This guy, at one point, was set to direct the big-screen movie version of Halo.


Russell Mulcahy is a director who has, for me at least, mostly made crap. To be sure, he's had an eclectic career and he's made a few really fun genre flicks -- The Shadow, Highlander, and Ricochet are his standouts. But his new film, the completely awesome looking Give 'Em Hell, Malone, looks like a serious bust-out for him. Or at least I hope so. I love this sort of hard-boiled, tough-as-nails detetective/crime stuff, and with Thomas Jane in the lead, this film could really be an incredible B-movie. I wonder if it gets a wide release? I wonder if it's better than this trailer? Consider me very, very curious.


Well...the summer movie season officially begins this weekend with the arrival of Gavin Hood's critically slammed Wolverine. Not that the critical reaction will prevent it from becoming the first blockbuster of the season. I'm expecting at least $75 million opening weekend, with the tally potentially reaching as high as $90 million. I plan on seeing it at some point, but I'm in no rush. The trailers have been decent, but some of the F/X work looks dodgy, and the advance buzz has been pretty bad the last few months. I'd like to hope that it's better than X3, but we'll have to wait and see. Maybe I'll get to it this weekend...maybe next week one night...or maybe in a few weeks.

Also opening is Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, which in all honesty, looks like dog-shit that has been left out to rot in the hot sun.

I still have Nothing but the Truth from Netflix; plan on watching it tonight. Really looking forward.


By all accounts thus far, Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is going to make the first movie look like a fuckin' student film, and make mince meat of the rest of the summer competition.'re on another planet if this trailer doesn't do it for you: (I suggest watching it in HD).