Friday, August 27, 2010

INTERESTED IN 'EM ALL











MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

No trips to the theater this weekend. Takers looks semi-entertaining but that'll be a Netflix.

Nothing from Netflix, either. Just watched and sent back The Vicious Kind -- very good but very fucked up. Maybe I'll rent some stuff from Blockbuster as there are a few new releases that I'd like to see. Need to see if anything new hit On Demand.

I still have a summer movie round-up in the works so look for that soon. I saw Piranha 3-D yesterday. It was definitely shameless trash but I was never not entertained.

The next big release I'm excited for is The American. Also, the trailers for Machete are amusing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

WHAT I'VE SEEN SO FAR THIS YEAR

In order of preference:

Inception
Valhalla Rising
Cyrus
Green Zone
Shutter Island
Robin Hood
Repo Men
The Kids are All Right
The Expendables

Kick-Ass
Ondine
Greenberg
The Other Guys

Salt
Knight & Day
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Chloe

Iron Man 2
The Losers
The Killer Inside Me
The Book of Eli

Macgruber
Hot Tub Time Machine
Remember Me
Date Night
Youth in Revolt

Alice in Wonderland
The A-Team

COMING THIS FALL

Here's a list of my most anticipated films for the rest of the year, from September to December:

The American
Machete
Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1
A Woman A Gun and A Noodle Shop
Easy A
The Town
Jack Goes Boating
Never Let Me Go
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Buried
Howl
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Enter the Void
Life During Wartime
Let Me In
The Social Network
Secretariat
Stone
Tamara Drewe
It's Kind of a Funny Story
Jackass 3-D
Red
Hereafter
Conviction
Monsters
The Company Men
Due Date
127 Hours
Fair Game
Welcome to the Riley's
Skyline
Unstoppable
Morning Glory
The Next Three Days
Love and Other Drugs
Black Swan
Miral
The Fighter
The Tourist
The Tempest
Yogi Bear
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
Blue Valentine


And the #1 MOST ANTICIPATED film for the rest of 2010: Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. Let's just see if it actually gets released before the end of the year...

Friday, August 20, 2010

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

It's official dumping ground season in Hollywood! Which means no trips to the theater this weekend.

Vampires Suck! The Switch! Lottery Ticket! Piranha 3-D! Nanny McPhee Returns (OK, this might be cute for kids). All of these look weak to piss-poor.

From Netflix is Roman Polanski's acclaimed drama The Ghost Writer, which was released to great reviews but tepid box-office earlier this year.

I saw and loved The Expendables earlier this week. I am fully aware how silly and ridiculous the film was but that didn't stop me from having a bloody blast with it. Sly Stallone basically made a new fangled Golan-Globus movie, so for peole who grew up on a steady diet of cheesy 80's actioners, this movie is like the ultimate homage to that specific genre. I'll have more comments on The Expendables in my summer movie round-up.

TIGHT

Saw the trailer for Buried before The Expendables (so much manly fun) a few days ago. It looks extremely intense and claustrophobic. Ryan Reynolds appears to be giving a one-man-show and I just love how the trailer took on a Hitchcockian-vibe.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SEEING BLU

Repo Men knocked my socks off. Critically panned and ignored at the box office, the film deserved much, much better. The film is very reminiscent of early to mid 90's Paul Verhoeven; extreme violence & gore mixed with melodrama and satire. I loved this movie and can't wait to watch it again and again; it's definitely one of my favorites from 2010 so far. The premise is loaded with potential, and instead of being lazy with such a great hook and story, first time director Miguel Sapochnik swings for the fences, resulting in a blood-soaked futuristic thriller that has a distinct look, a swerving tone, and some brains to go along with all of the action. Some people will hate this film -- just hate it. It's brutal, sleazy, nasty and very explicit, and the two lead characters (played perfectly by Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker) aren't very likable -- at first. But by the end (and what an incredible finale...) you'll be looking at the screen in a stupor, trying to remember the last time a major studio release took this many chances with black humor and ultra-violence. This is an immediate purchase.

Hot Tub Time Machine made me laugh. Hard. And often. It looks like crap (I think maybe that was the point) and it's beyond stupid but the laugh per minute ratio is very high and the ensemble cast riffs and raffs off each other really well. The film is also extra-fucking-crude; if you thought The Hangover pushed some boundaries this film will make you red in the face. The stand-outs were Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and the scene-stealing Crispin Glover as a one-armed bell-hop. Don't ask...you'll see...

Watching The White Ribbon felt a little bit like a home-work assignment. Don't get me wrong -- it's a beautifully crafted film, directed with pin-point precision, featuring one strong performance after another. It's just...I don't know...why does Michael Haneke feel the need to be so fucking oppressive? A filmmaker who loves to punish his audience (Funny Games, Cache, and The Piano Teacher are a sampling of his other films), The White Ribbon is less overtly violent than some of his other work, but the psychological darkness that permeates the entire film makes for a somewhat challenging sit. And the questions and answers that the narrative raises and offers make for some extremely interesting conversation fodder. The shimmery-cold, black and white cinematography, it must be said, is extraordinary.


Director Joe Johnston is the very definition of a journey man. Some might call him a hack but I think he's too modest, too nice for that term. A Spielberg disciple who got his start in the art department on various George Lucas movies, he's one of those guys who always give you a good looking movie...it's just that he's no better than his scripts. He's made some genuinely wonderful stuff (The Rocketeer, October Sky, Honey I Shrunk the Kids), while some of his other work (Hidalgo, Jurassic Park 3) hasn't totally hit the sweet spot. The Wolfman looks phenomenal (major shout out to cinematographer Shelly Johnson and production designer Rick Heinrichs) but the script is totally average (Andrew Kevin Walker should know better), and Johnston's inability to get anything extra out of his stacked cast (Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt, Hugo Weaving) doesn't help. There's some decent werewolf gore and the action scenes have a nice R-rated edge to them, but the creature stuff is waaaaay to CGI for my tastes, and again, the script just sat there waiting for something exciting to happen. However, Johnston's about to begin production on Captain America -- I think he's gonna nail it.

Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson) is fast becoming one of my favorite filmmakers. After witnessing his brilliant masterpiece Valhalla Rising earlier this summer (review is coming up soon...) and experiencing last year's genre-bending Bronson it's very clear to me that a major, major new talent is about to blow up on the spot. Fear X is a curious little psychological thriller that Refn did in between movies in Europe. It actually stands as the lone American movie on his resume, but that's about to change as Hollywood has come calling -- he's about to shoot a neo-noir called Drive with Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt-driver who enjoys his night job better...that of a getaway driver for thieves. In Fear X, an obsessed and determined John Turturro goes on a search for the identity of his wife's killer. This a slow-moving and methodical piece of filmmaking; the ambient soundtrack, long tracking shots (courtesy of long-time Kubrick collaborator Larry Smith), and careful editing all combine to keep you on the edge of your seat for much of the run time. And if the ending feels like a bit of a letdown, you might need to rethink the entire film. What's most interesting about Fear X is thinking about the genre tropes that Refn avoided, as opposed to what he actually did.

The Book of Eli could have also been called The Road for Dummies. It's got a neat visual style (this being a Hughes Brothers film), Denzel Washington makes for a great bad-ass, Gary Oldman is a more fully-dimensional villain than in most movies like this, and Mila Kunis looks great in tight black leather. But the LUDICROUS plot twist (while somewhat ingenious) makes ZERO FUCKING SENSE, thus rendering the film fairly asinine upon close inspection. It's one of those movies that's enjoyable in the moment but then becomes almost irritating by the end when you realize what kind of pill the filmmakers are asking you to swallow. There's much to like about this film; I just wished it all came together a bit more coherently by the end.


It's sort of shocking how popular The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has been, both in print and on the big screen (the David Fincher re-make is about to go into production). This is a nasty, nasty piece of business with a lot of sexual depravity and graphic violence depicted towards women (and men for that matter...). As everyone has said, the lead performance by Noomi Rapace is hypnotic and totally engrossing, as is the plot and direction -- it's a terrific piece of pulp entertainment, but you pay a price for watching this film. It's fucking Dark with a capital D. Performances across the board are strong and the plot gets extremely complex without being overwhelming or confusing (even with subtitles). It's a tough movie to say that you "loved" but I know I responded to what I watched. It'll be curious to see what aspects Fincher (and Sony) jettison in the big-budget re-do; there is some stuff in the original that most people would immediately object too. I look forward to watching the second installment, The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Date Night wasn't terrible. And it wasn't great. It's what I'd call an agreeable time-waster. It's basically Adventures in Babysitting just with parents in place of the sitter and the kids. Tina Fey and Steve Carrell make for a great duo, and given that the director was Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum 1&2, Cheaper by the Dozen, Just Married, The Pink Panther), I was really expecting something pretty bland and average. He's helped by cinematographer Dean Semler and scene-stealer Mark Whalberg, and again, with Fey and Carrell as your leads, you sort of just need to get out of the way and let the two of them do their thing, which Levy does, for the most part. The high-concept script is total 80's-movie idiocy and can't be thought about while being viewed as nothing really holds up to logic. But at a tight 90 minutes, you could do worse, and the film does have a bunch of laugh out loud moments. Again, not terrible, not great, somewhere in between.

I love a good erotic thriller. And that's what Atom Egoyan's steamy and seductive Chloe is -- a damn good erotic thriller, a genre that's in fast-decline. The premise is simple: Julianne Moore suspects her hubby (played by Liam Neeson) of cheating. Moore hires a young prostitute named Chloe (the eerily hot Amanda Seyfried) to seduce her husband in order to prove his infidelity. What happens from there I'll leave you to discover, only to hint at a possible attraction between the two female leads, with ample amounts of sexual tension and possibilities. All three leads are great, the film looks sleek and sexy, and the ending, without going over the top, feels like a perfect way to cap the story. Oh yeah, there's lots and lots of nudity. I enjoyed this one. Oh yeah.

Friday, August 13, 2010

REALLY?! WTF!?

This BETTER be a nation-wide release...

EVER FEEL LIKE THIS?


A one-of-a-kind movie. Truly. Name me one other film that's quite like Beetlejuice. You can't. Because there aren't any.

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

The Expendables looks big and dopey and a total blast of manly, action-movie idiocy. I'll be seeing Sly Stallone's homage to the output of the Cannon Films label early next week on a matinee.

Also of interest is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World -- maybe I'll catch that this Sunday afternoon.

From Netflix is the Colin Farrell thriller Triage, from the director of No Man's Land (a terrific film which won Best Foreign Language Film a few years ago). I still have a man-crush on Colin.

There's a bunch of titles which have just hit On Demand that I want to check out soon: Repo Men, Date Night, The Runaways and a few others.

I have a big Blu Ray round-up piece I'm working on and a Summer Movie Report Card which will be posted in the coming days.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

TODD PARKER!

Boogie Nights on Blu Ray is fucking magnificent.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

HEAT SET IN BOSTON?

Now look, I'm not saying that Ben Affleck's upcoming action-thriller The Town will be as good as Heat, or even close to the level that Michael Mann's film is on. And I'm certainly not saying that Affleck is as good of a filmmaker as Mann is at this stage in his career. I really enjoyed Gone Baby Gone; it's a tremendously assured debut film and if it's any indication of where Affleck is headed as a storyteller then we'll be in for many great films down the road. But if The Town is half as good as one would expect based on the sensational trailer (available to view @ apple.com/trailers), we'll be in for a treat this fall. The cast for this flick is first-rate (Don Draper!) and it just looks totally kick-ass.

MOVIES FOR THE WEEKEND

I am definitely looking forward to catching The Other Guys. Not sure if I have time to get to the theater this weekend but I will check it out ASAP. I whole-heartedly love Will Ferrell and his brand of idiocy. I do wish the film was a hard-R spoof of the action-movie genre but it looks playful and silly and amusing. Director Adam McKay hasn't made a bad comedy yet so that helps (his impressive track record includes Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers).

I'd still like to see Dinner for Schmucks, but something tells me I might wait for the Blu Ray. I'm a fan of everyone involved (Carrell and Rudd are terrific), it looks pretty funny (though something tells me it should've been rated R considering the darkly comedic French movie that inspires it), but for some reason, there's nothing pulling me to the theater.

From Netflix is Nicolas Winding Refn's American debut (from a few years ago) Fear X. It's very interesting how Refn started his career in Europe with the Pusher trilogy, then made an American feature, and then bounced back to Europe for a few more films. After the deliriously amazing one-two punch of Bronson and Valhalla Rising, Refn is about to tackle his biggest budget yet with Drive, an extremely cool-sounding neo-noir with Ryan Gosling starring as a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for bank robbers. How can that NOT be amazing?!

Monday, August 2, 2010

HERZOG & MALICK WOULD BE PROUD


The violence of Apocalypto + the surreality of Aguirre the Wrath of God + the show-stopping beauty of The New World = Nicolas Winding Refn's masterpiece Valhalla Rising.
Lots more to come on this blog about this particular film. To say that I am obsessed would be an understatement. The Blu Ray cannot get here soon enough...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

BLACK HAWK DOWN + DISTRICT 9

That's what I'm hearing...consider me very curious...the film is (bluntly) titled: Battle: Los Angeles.

A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING