Friday, April 29, 2011


Higggggghhhhhwaaaaaay toooooooooo the daaaaaangerrrrrr zzzzooonnneeee!!

This Saturday marks a special occasion -- I will be seeing Tony Scott's legendary masterpiece Top Gun on the big screen for the first time ever.  My heart is racing.  My fists are clenched.  I'm sweating a tad.  I've got a change of shorts to bring with me to the theater...

Tonight I'm gonna catch the asinine looking Fast Five -- looks as good as as PG-13 actioner is gonna get.

From Netflix is the documentary Marwencol, which sounds very, very intense.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Joe Wright's kinetic, artsy-minded, techno-thriller Hanna is so many things we've already seen but something all its own, all at once.  Take aspects of The Bourne Identity, Leon, Kick-Ass, Run Lola Run and then filter it through the prism of a Grimm's Fairy Tale and you almost get an approximation of this strange, bewildering, entirely engrossing genre entry from Wright, who takes a major leap as a director of action after a mostly subtle and classical start to his directing career (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, and The Soloist are his other credits).  The plot is best not to be poured over too closely as there are definitely some plot holes and questions of logic (not to mention geography) but never mind -- the film is a rush of motion, color, texture, violence, and pulsating sound (the electric score is by The Chemical Brothers) and it never really rests for a moment, even when in the second act the plot seems to come to an abrupt change of pace.  Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Atonement, The Way Back) is positively stellar as the titular heroine, a 15 year old girl raised by her ex-CIA agent father (a customarily intense Eric Bana) to be a ruthless killer.  Shielded all her life from the outside world, Hanna knows how to run, shoot, chop, and kill her way to safety.  Enter the icy, dangerous Marissa (the always perfect Cate Blanchett), a government operative with a thing for silencers, razor-sharp red haircuts, and electronic toothbrushes (this movie has tons of quirks which always keeps it interesting).  Marissa will stop at nothing to find Hanna -- but why?  If the ultimate answer doesn't turn out to be as amazing as you might expect, that doesn't mean you aren't going to be satisfied with this wild, twisty, and sometimes twisted little modern fairy tale.  Wright directs with extreme confidence, utilizing an attention grabbing blend of cinematography and editing techniques.  There's an interesting mix of rough, hand-held camerawork coupled with jagged editing patterns, that somehow fits perfectly with Wright's traditional fluid shooting style (a six or seven minute long steadicam fight sequence with Bana taking on a group of assassins is the movie's obvious tour de force of technical virtuosity).  Movies like Hanna have been done before but never quite like this.  It's the most fun I've had at the movies so far this year.


In order of preference:

The Adjustment Bureau
Source Code
Battle: Los Angeles
Your Highness
Sucker Punch
The Green Hornet

It's been a genrerific start to 2011.


Looks like a pisser...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011



Michael Winterbottom is a constantly surprising filmmaker.  Looking forward to this.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I'd like to see Water for Elephants but not sure if I'll have the time to see it this weekend.

Nothing at home from Netflix; sending Fish Tank back today after watching it last night -- holy shit what a punch to the gut that film was.  Bleak storytelling but forcefully acted and extremely well written by writer/director Andrea Arnold.  Michael Fassbender was slimy brilliance and first time lead actress Katie Jarvis was just exceptional.  It's a tough, gritty, dirty-feeling movie but well done in all respects.  The last 15 minutes or so were truly unpredictable and more than a little unnerving.

Yesterday was a HUGE day as I advanced purchased my tickets for next Saturday's anniversary screening of Top Gun.  I am so excited I could puke in my mouth.


Criminally underrated film.  Powerful, breathtaking stuff.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Get Low is a nice little movie with some dark laughs and a great sense of time and place. Robert Duvall and Bill Murray were both really good; Duvall has a speech at the end that's nothing short of show-stopping. It's a slow-burn, southern-tinged dramedy that really lights a potent fuse during the final 15 minutes.  It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen but it was definitely well put together and worth a rental.


Sunday, April 17, 2011


Just watched the first four episodes of AMC's engrossing new crime drama The Killing.  Excellent stuff.  Goes to some dark places but it's very well written and acted and the intrigue factor from episode to episode is extremely high.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011


Not sure what I'm gonna see this weekend.  Scream 4 only looks a'ight and The Conspirator looks good but has gotten very mediocre reviews.  I still want to see it but my expectations have been slightly lessened.

From Netflix is Get Low.

Earlier this week I saw Hanna -- best movie of 2011 so far. Not perfect, but holy shit what a twisted, wild ride. Ronan was tremendous. Blanchett makes for a terrific villain. Joe Wright definitely has some serious action-chops. Great cinematography and a pulsating score from The Chemical Brothers.  Full review coming up soon...

Thursday, April 14, 2011


The less you know about the real-life antics of Steven Russell and the plot of the darkly hilarious I Love You Phillip Morris the better.  This is a movie made up of constant surprises and frequent twists and turns.  You'll find yourself repeatedly saying "This can't be true" or "This couldn't have really happened," but like the filmmakers state at the front of the film -- it did.  All of it.  And then some (post movie I read up online about the particulars and there's even more that was left out of the movie).  In short, I Love You Phillip Morris deals with Steven Russell (an amazing Jim Carrey in one of his best performances), a family man living a secret life as a con-artist.  One day, after a life-changing moment, he comes out of the closet, gets a hunky boyfriend, and moves down to Miami Beach, continuing the art of the con, and still maintaining a civil relationship with his wife and kids.  Then, he goes to jail, and that's when things get really complicated.  Steven immediately falls in love with a guy named Phillip Morris (wonderfully played by the always likable Ewan MacGregor) and basically makes it his life's goal to never be separated from him.  That's all I am going to say.  The rest is for you to discover.  What I will allow is this -- there was a moment where I was in total tears, emotionally crushed by what I was watching, only to have the rug pulled out from under my feet, leaving me in a state of stunned hysterics.  The film marks the directorial debut of the Glenn Ficarsa and John Requa, who also wrote the black-heartedly brilliant Bad Santa.  They are natural born directors with a quirky-stylish visual sensibility who hold an amazing talent for mixing crude one-liners with believable and unintrusive sentimentality which keeps their work grounded in reality, never pushing it into farce.  I Love You Phillip Morris effectively juggles multiple tones in its script, and while many scenes seem too crazy to be true, there's always something real and honest about an individual moment or line of dialogue that brings everything back down to reality.  It's a shame that there wasn't a wider release for this film because it's so fucking good and so unpredictable and enjoyable that it just goes to show you how homophobic our society really is.  My assumption is that the graphic gay sex scenes/dialogue were a turn off for all of the major Hollywood studios (indie distrib Roadside Attractions handled the movie and Luc Besson's French company Europa put up most of the production budget) because despite the name cast and accessible genre, nobody in Tinseltown wanted to deal with this film.  Pretty f'ing bogus if you ask me.  I Love You, Phillip Morris is the best movie you haven't seen.


Your Highness is silly as fuck but it knows it and revels in that fact.  Everyone involved with this wild fantasy spoof knew exactly what they were making -- an idiotic, adolescent-minded, medieval stoner comedy that could never be taken seriously at any point.  The film marks an interesting turning point for director David Gordon Green, who early in his career was rightfully being called a young Terrence Malick.  After a string of small, critically acclaimed independent films (George Washington, All the Real Girls, Undertow, Snow Angels -- all of which are four star movies in my estimation) he ventured into the mainstream with the pot-flavored action flick Pineapple Express (made my 10 best list in 2008) before turning his attention to HBO's sublime, aggressively mean Eastbound and Down.  He is film school buddies with co-writer/actor Danny McBride, current clown du jour, and the two of them clearly love working with each other.  I didn't like Your Highness as much as Pineapple and it's definitely Green's "worst" movie, but that doesn't mean I didn't laugh like a jack-ass throughout most of the stony buffoonery.  Despite the overwhelming crudeness of the script, the film is so likable and strangely charming that I found it hard not to have perma-grin the entire time.  The hazy plot involves McBride and James Franco as two mismatched princes who set off to rescue Franco's fiance (the wide-eyed Zooey Deschanel) from the clutches of an evil wizard (an amusing Justin Theroux) who plans to impregnate Deschanel with some sort of dragon.  It's really all just an excuse for some awesomely retro Ghostbusters-esque special effects, nods to Krull and Dark Crystal and Legend, dick and fart jokes galore, McBride acting like a prick to everyone he comes into contact with, Nathalie Portman in a thong, a severed Minotaur penis, a character with no reproductive organs, and, oh, why am I spoiling the fun?  Your Highness is also big and lush looking and has some uncommonly good cinematography for a major studio comedy; it's nice to see a comedy director actually give a shit about how his film looks.  But like I mentioned in the comments section on another post, Your Highness is just as likely to be a turn off as it is a turn on for viewers.  There is a nasty undercurrent to much of McBride's humor, and the movie really, really caters to fans of scatological humor, so if you weren't a fan before, you won't likely be one now.  As a piece of filmmaking, it's a weird hybrid of sloppy and polished.  It's also fairly daring at times, and genuinely weird in that it's a movie that seems to have been made for a crowd of about 100 people.  Which is fine -- it's not my $50 million.  I'd rather have Green get a project like Your Highness made over something like The Bounty Hunter or some truly insipid, cookie-cutter, from-the-assembly-line schwill.  I laughed frequently and that's all that matters when it comes to a movie as inconsequential as Your Highness.


I love this film.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Do you know how long that's going to take?

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Tony Scott's masterpiece Top Gun is getting a THEATRICAL RERELEASE(!) to commemorate its 25th anniversary.  Saturday, April 30th, 2011.  12:30pm.  I was six years old when this film was released, so I never had a chance to see it in the theaters.  However, once I hit roughly 10, the film began its endless cycle on HBO and cable.  It's easily one of my favorite films of all time, and one the defining action movies from the Hollywood studio system.  I will be purchasing advance tickets tomorrow.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Double feature Saturday -- Your Highness in the afternoon and Hanna at night.  Both look sweet.

From Netflix, I think I'll have Get Low or Fish Tank shipping today.  Not sure which one.  I just sent back I Love You Phillip Morris, which was basically a small masterpiece of dark, deranged comedy.  Look for a full review soon.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Duncan Jones likes to play around with his audience.  He likes to make you think while also giving you solid entertainment.  His first movie, the underrated sci-fi drama Moon, was a one-man show for its star, Sam Rockwell, and it demonstrated a filmmaker in command of his craft and asking some heady thematic questions.  His new film, the endearingly loopy and wonderfully entertaining Source Code, carries a much bigger budget (but still small when compared to other genre entries) with flashier digital effects, but Jones never looses sight of the human element found within Ben Ripley's multi layered, Nolan-esque screenplay.  Source Code demands that you stick with it the entire time, and while there are some nice sequences of fiery-action and bloody fisticuffs, it's definitely what I'd call a "thinking-person's" action film, one that will reward attentive viewers. 

Jake Gyllenhal (engaging as always) plays a solider who is unwittingly drafted into a high-tech, experimental government program where he's able to inhabit the body and mind of a person for the last eight minutes of their life.  In the film's disorienting opening moments, Gyllenhal wakes up on a commuter train headed for downtown Chicago, not knowing anyone, and is then blown up due to a terrorist explosion.  He learns that his mission is to figure out who and where the bomber is.  So, in Groundhog Day-like fashion, he keeps going back to the same moment, waking up on the train, trying to piece things together and find the bomber, before he's blown up again.  Things get extra complicated when he develops feelings for a cute train passenger (Michelle Monaghan), who he becomes certain he can save by bending the laws of time and space.  Gyllenhal seems to really be coming into his own as an actor; his work in Zodiac, Brokeback Mountain, and Love & Other Drugs had me convinced he was the real deal after he broke out in Donnie Darko and Moonlight Mile.  But with Source Code, he's a true "leading-man," and he brings humor, gravity, and a sense of urgency to his character.

Source Code, like Inception or The Adjustment Bureau or any film of this sort, requires suspension of disbelief in order to remain watchable.  You've just got to accept what this movie is offering.  What I love about the science fiction genre is that it captivates your imagination in ways that almost every other genre cannot do -- there's something so inherently exciting and intriguing (at least to me) about sci-fi concepts, and when they're grounded in a familiar reality like it's done here (the film also recalls Tony Scott's kinetic head-trip Deja Vu), the story becomes all the more interesting.  Add to that commanding performances from a solid cast (Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright nail their respective roles) and slick direction from Jones, who shows his stylish hand at directing CGI-infused set pieces, and you've got a trippy-cool movie that will have a long shelf life.  The last 15 minutes of Source Code will give your brain a work out as you try and put all of the pieces together; it's a flick that will certainly benefit from multiple viewings.  And even if the ending feels a bit "Hollywood" (I'd have preferred a darker resolution) it confirms that Jones is no fluke and that he's a major talent to look out for in the future.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


At home:  I Love You, Phillip Morris

Inside Job
Get Low
Fish Tank
Melinda & Melinda
A Summer in Genoa
The Secret in Their Eyes
Read My Lips
The Sunchaser
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Three Monkeys


Quentin Dupieux's Rubber is a clever, witty, film-school-style joke that could only have been made by someone with a very specific sense of humor. Totally self-reflexive and likely to appeal best to film majors and movie geeks, this is a uniquely French look at the most tired of genres (the serial killer thriller), while at the same time, never truly being an actual "movie" at any given point.  The filmmakers and cast are constantly reminding the viewer that what they're watching is fake and "just a movie;" Dupieux's cinematic ambition seems to be to deconstruct movies themselves and treat them as a big in-joke.  And the one thematic thread that's constant in the film -- that of "No Reason" -- serves the entire movie as a logical backing for all of the strange detours that Dupieux takes.  The "plot," such as it is, concerns a serial-killing tire named Robert who awakens from a dusty slumber and rolls around a dessert town killing random people and spying on a cute brunette in the shower.  A bunch of cops are tasked with finding the tire, and a local kid sees more than he should.  Of course, none of it is taken seriously, and all of it is simply a comment on genre conventions and viewer expectations.  There are some poetic, Malick-inspired shots of the tire rolling along at "magic-hour" and some ridiculously graphic violence when the tire decides to kill that spark things up a bit.  The camerawork is exacting and the musical score is arresting.  So...I liked the film, it's an interesting piece of filmmaking, but I doubt that many people will actually like it as a traditional piece of cinema-watching.  Rubber is probably the most uncommerical movie that I've ever seen; its release via On Demand platforms ensures that at least some people will check it out due to the curiosity factor ("Hey, it's that killer tire movie!)  But overall, it's the kind of art-film-stunt that will leave just as many people perplexed as it will satisfied.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The first installment, Mesrine: Killer Instinct, was incredible.  Can't wait to delve into this...


Sunday, April 3, 2011


George Gallo directed the shit out of Middle Men. HUGELY entertaining. What an underrated movie. Totally engrossing from the start, this is a wild, seedy, true-life tale that has to be seen to be believed. Revels in T&A with some priceless bits of humor derived from coke-induced paranoia.  Makes for a nice double feature with Ted Demme's Blow

The Tourist was less a movie and more like a souffle. Totally harmless fluff. Had I spent $20 to see it in the theater I might've been disappointed. But for a $5 On Demand rental it was good enough. It's basically a fashion ad with Jolie prancing around Italy. It wasn't offensively bad, or as bad as all the "critics" made it out to be. But was totally lacking in anything that I hadn't seen before. And yet...I still enjoyed myself for the 104 minutes that it lasted. Go figure.  It was nice to see Depp play normal for a change.  Totally predictable but breezy and jaunty and again -- nothing to get all that pissed off about.


Let the summer movie season begin.  Well...mostly begin.  It's just the begining of April but there's plenty of high profile releases on their way. 

In April, I'm expecting funny idiocy from Your Highness, stylish thrills from Hanna, hot babes and fast cars in Fast Five, some decent thrills (hopefully) from Scream 4, a good history lesson from The Conspirator, a riveting look at Oregon trail life in Meek's Cutoff, and dreamy, magical realism from Water for Elephants.
The big-dog of May is unquestionably Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life.  There is no other film for the rest of the year that I'm anticipating this much.  Pirates 4 looks decent, Thor looks fun, The Beaver looks funny and sad, Bridesmaids looks like a pisser, and The Hangover 2 looks surprisingly tepid but I can't imagine it won't be a hoot.  But really, at the end of the day, it's all about The Tree of Life.
In June, the superhero onslaught continues.  X-Men First Class looks good and dare I say it -- subtle?  Green Lantern looks epic and expensive and like an 8-year olds fantasy come to life.  Super 8 looks utterly brilliant.  Bad Teacher looks like nasty fun.  Mr. Popper's Penguins has potential.  Cars 2 does nothing for me.
It wouldn't be the summer without an offering from Michael Bay -- Transformers 3-D is gonna melt faces.  I'll definitely be bringing a change of shorts to the theater that day.  Larry Crowne will surely be a nice adult offering in the midst of all of the CGI rubble.  Horrible Bosses has a great cast and a great premise.  Winnie the Pooh will be a delight.  Captain America looks fantastic -- can't wait to see what Joe Johnston's pulls off.  Friends with Benefits could be sexy/funny.  Cowboys & Aliens is gonna be fucking amazing -- you can just tell from the trailers that Favreau is gonna nail this one.
August has a lot of question marks -- Rise of the Apes with James Franco?  Crazy/Stupid Love with Ryan Gosling in comedic mode?  A new, R-rated Conan the Barbarian?  I'm most excited for the action-comedy 30 Minutes or Less with Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, and Aziz Ansari.  Fright Night could be the rare horror movie I check out in the theater.  The Change-Up has two great comedic leads (Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman).  And Our Idiot Brother sounds like this summer's little indie movie that will break out.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011


Source Code on Saturday afternoon.  Looks sweet.  BIG fan of the director's previous movie (the sci-fi gem Moon with Sam Rockwell).

From Netflix is the internet porn drama Middle Men with Owen Wilson.  It sounds like sleazy fun and I've long been a fan of George Gallo (Midnight Run, Bad Boys).

Still have a bunch of HD On Demand options...