Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
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.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
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
4. David Fincher's The Game
6. Spike Jonze's Adaptation
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
7. Luc Besson's Leon
8. Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon
9. Paul Greengrass' The Bourne Ultimatum
10. John Woo's Face/Off
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.
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
1. Ridley Scott's Bladerunner
2. James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgement Day
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
Friday, May 22, 2009
3. Ron Shelton's Tin Cup
I absolutely cannot wait to see this movie.
From Netflix I have the Bollywood romp Chandi Chowk to China. If you haven't seen the trailer, I suggest you go to apple.com/trailers 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
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
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
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
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
9. Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest
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
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
Friday, May 15, 2009
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
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
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.
Monday, May 11, 2009
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
Friday, May 8, 2009
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.
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 http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/12/12/movies/12kill.html
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
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 http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0611683/ 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.
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.
http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1809943432/trailer (I suggest watching it in HD).