Monday, May 30, 2011


Tree of Life -- I'll be seeing it this Saturday in NYC.  I can't fucking wait.

Friday, May 20, 2011


I'll be on vacation for the next week so postings will be minimal/limited.

Pirates 4 opens today and it's getting ripped up by the critics.  I'm not all that pumped for it to be honest -- it looks like a studio-stage-bound retread of the first three movies but without the subversive visual wit that Gore Verbinski brought to the original trilogy.  Still, for completists sake, I'll see it at some point over the next few weeks; the mermaids will be enough to draw me in for a viewing but I am not sure if I'm willing to shell out extra greenbacks on the 3-D as I've read that the filmmakers did nothing to utilize the format.  I'm starting to think that Jerry Bruckheimer might be well past his expiration date -- he needs to do Bad Boys 3 more than ever at this point...

Next weekend brings The Hangover: Part 2.  It looks wild.

Over vacation next week I'd like to try and see Will Ferrell's newest film, All Things Must Go, which sounds like a rare dramatic turn for the actor.

Shipping from Netflix today is Jack Goes Boating, Philip Seymour Hoffman's directorial debut.  I'll catch up with it when I get home.

Thursday, May 19, 2011



Has Stephen Dorff EVER top lined a major movie before? He TOTALLY OWNED in Somewhere. Hollywood ennui has never been more fascinating to watch. Sofia Coppola made up for the cream-puff-and-lace-idiocy that was Marie Antoinette in a big way with this quiet, sad, and extremely engrossing look at the life of a movie star who's in the throws of substance abuse and basic emotional meandering. Elle Fanning was delightful as the 11 year old daughter that Dorff has been neglecting.  When his ex-wife has some sort of off-screen breakdown and leaves their daughter with him, Dorff's laconic to the extreme Johnny Marco has to try and become the father that he's been avoiding.  But it's tough to be an effective parent when your days are spent drinking and sexing the hours away with women who show up naked at your hotel room for various forms of entertainment at any given hour and your main food group is alcohol; it's an all-too convincing portrait of Hollywood excess. Harris Savides (Elephant, Zodiac) is a camera-God so it's no surprise that the film has such a beautiful look.  Long master shots comprise most of the film, drawing the viewer in carefully and patiently.  The first 20 minutes or so are nearly wordless, forcing the viewer to take in the atmosphere and the emotional vibe of everyone and everything; the best parts of Somewhere are in the subtle details.  Dorff does so much with so little (dialogue that is) in Somewhere that it's easy to dismiss his performance as just "being there."  Hardly.  Somewhere is a slow-burn, 70's style mood piece with major European influences running through its cinematic veins.  It will definitely frustrate viewers who are looking for a traditional narrative but it will be fantastic for those of us who aren't so concerned with "plot" and external conflict.  Much like The American, this is a film that's all about internal conflict, which for some, can be interpreted as "boring."  Somewhere could only have come from a filmmaker like Coppola (she's stated that aspects of the film are autobiographical) and it's clear that she made exactly the film that she wanted to make.  Oh -- that opening shot that goes on for roughly five minutes -- totally brilliant.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


There's no use in overselling Paul Feig's hysterical new comedy Bridesmaids.  Funny is funny is funny is funny.  Yeah, fine, comedy is the most subjective genre, and what some people find funny others aren't remotely amused by; people still think I'm deranged for loving Observe and Report and finding Due Date funnier than The Hangover.  Kristen Wiig is one of the funniest people on the planet, a comedienne capable of going toe to toe with anyone, and in Bridesmaids, she owns the entire picture, which is no small feat considering the estimable company she find herself in.  Having co-written the script and taking on the lead role, Wiig's many contributions to this smart, warm, and occasionally filthy comedy can never be underestimated.  The terrific supporting cast is up to her every move, with Rose Byrne registering strongly as Wiig's main competition within the bridal party.  There are some awkward-funny moments between these two performers that are laugh until you cry funny.  Rehashing the plot isn't necessary -- if you've seen the trailer you know the broad strokes.  What I wasn't prepared for were the smarts in the screenplay department that Bridesmaids has up its sleeve, and how the film never went totally over the top.  Far removed from supposed "chick-flicks" (and pieces of garbage) like Sex and the City (the films, not the television series) and any movie starring Kate Hudson, Bridesmaids is a further reminder that female-oriented comedies can appeal to guys and never talk down to women.  The best part of the film is the honest emotion that Wiig and Feig are able to ring out of every scene, no matter how crazy the situation.  And Feig, being a veteran director of The Office, brings his considerable talent of underplaying comedy to the point of the dryest of humor.  This is one funny movie that will get better with repeated viewings.  I loved it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


No Strings Attached was surprisingly well written which kept it quite watchable.  All they really did was flip-flop the standard rom-com conventions (she's the one with committment fears and he's the one who wants to snuggle) but Portman and Kutcher had very good chemistry and the colorful supporting cast hit some funny notes.  There's some solid, bawdy, R-rated sex humor that punched things up, but overall, the movie has to be seen as a major success for its director, Ivan Reitman, who has been responsible for one piece of shit after another for the last 15 years (Junior, Father's Day, Six Days, Seven Nights, Evolution, My Super Ex-Girlfriend -- it's a fucking miracle that he got another movie ater that string of disasters!)  Seriously -- the last great comedy Reitman directed was Dave; this is a guy who has been living off his 80's lore for quite some time now.  No Strings Attached isn't great -- hardly -- it's more like decent or above average.  But it's better than total shit.  Which is a step in the right direction.  It's so funny to see Portman go on a popcorn movie binge (Thor, No Strings, Your Highness) atfer her riveting performance in Black Swan; she can do anything it seems.  Good movie for a rainy day.



Friday, May 13, 2011


Thor, at the end of the day, is Masters of the Universe with a much bigger budget.  I’m kidding…it’s certainly better than Gary Goddard’s camp classic…but it never achieves the heights of the genre’s best efforts (The Dark Knight, Dick Donner’s original Superman, Dick Donner’s director’s cut of Superman II, Spiderman 2, and Tim Burton’s Batman Returns).  Part of that is because Thor, as a character, is sort of hammy and cheesy (in an entertaining way), and the film, which was written by a slew of contributors and directed rather ham-fistedly by Shakespeare specialist Kenneth Branagh, feels like it’s reaching for the kiddie seats more often than not.  It’s also rather funny to see how the creators of He-Man shameless ripped off Thor for their character inspiration.    I had fun watching the film, you won’t feel burned if you pay full price, but do yourself a favor and see it in 2-D (some of the film is so darkly lit that I can’t even imagine how shitty it will look in 3-D…) and remember that the film has been designed to appeal best to youngsters.  I like how the Marvel creative team are linking up their films in an effort to lead up to next summer’s The Avengers, so all of the stuff with SHIELD and other superhero characters making cameos feels cool and part of a “larger plan.”  I just wish I had cared a bit more about Thor as a standalone movie.  The film has a disjointed narrative due to frequent cutting between Thor’s planet of Asgard (some sort of hallucinogenic disco party with a strange rainbow bridge) and a dusty New Mexico town that’s clearly been built to explode where he’s banished after his dad gets pissed at him for starting some shit with some mean ice-giants.  His no-good brother Loki is your standard issue second son with jealousy issues who decides to take matters into his own hands.  There are some decent action scenes, the CGI alternates between weak and impressive, and it gets funny how many Dutch angles Branagh and his cinematographer managed to fit in.  But easily, the best part of the film is Chris Hemsworth as the title character.  Brawny, beefy, funny, and totally into his part, he’ll be a perfect match alongside Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman, and (I presume) Chris Evans as Captain America.  And let’s not forget Mark Ruffalo as Hulk/Banner and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.  Joss Whedon certainly has a dream cast…next summer should be VERY interesting…


Documentarian Alex Gibney (Casino Jack, Gonzo, Client 9, Taxi to the Darkside, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) is a terrific filmmaker and this subject matter is deeply interesting to me so I'm looking forward to this new one...


Bridesmaids this Saturday afternoon.  Looks like a total pisser...

From Netflix is the rom-com No Strings Attached.  I'm expecting something decent but not amazing...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


No Strings Attached
Square Grouper
The Beautiful Person
Three Monkeys
Silent Light
The Aura
Nights and Weekends
Red Road
Just Another Love Story
The Border

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Does Luc Besson ever sleep?

Friday, May 6, 2011


I'll be seeing Thor this weekend, though I'd like to see it in 2D rather than 3D.  I only want to plunk down the extra greenbacks if the movie has been SHOT and CONCEIVED in 3D (like Transformers 3 or Avatar).  I'll likely see it Sunday.  Thor was never my favorite superhero (Batman, Supes, Capn America, Ironman and Green Lantern action figures were always played with before Thor) but I still always enjoyed the cosmic aspects to his story and the fact that he seemed like such an outsider.

Shipping today from Netflix is the 2010 Oscar winner for best foreign language film, The Secret in Their Eyes.

Just sent back Conviction. Very compelling story, another great performance by Sam Rockwell, and a reminder that one is capable of doing anything. Yes -- there was definitely a TV-movie/Lifetime sheen and storytelling quality to the whole thing but it was still a solid piece of work. I just can't believe that guy got screwed like that; further proves the point that legal injustice happens everywhere. How did Melissa Leo's cop not go to jail?  It's based on a true story so you can't really say too much about the fact that the characters don't really grow or change -- it is what is so not much you can really do. What I find fascinating is that the guy died about 2 years after his sister got him out of jail -- after getting wasted and falling off a ledge, or some bogus shit like that. The idea that she did all that for her brother was inspiring and I had no real problems with Swank (she's always good) despite her sketchy Bahstan accent. And as mentioned before, Rockwell was a powerhouse. Also -- Juliette Lewis NAILED her cameo.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Lon is NOT ALLOWED to answer...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I have always loved this strange genre mash-up.  I remember seeing it in the theater opening night with some high school buddies.  Seems like yesterday...

Monday, May 2, 2011


Fast Five is EASILY the best of the series when it comes to Michael Bay-style action without actually being directed by the maestro.  It's basically a PG-13 remake of Bad Boys 2 where director Justin Lin gets to announce his coming out as a serious action guy (each and every one of his previous efforts, except for Better Luck Tomorrow, have left me unimpressed). The final chase with the dragging of the bank vault through the crowded streets of Rio was nothing short of sensational, on any number of levels, not the least of which being the pure mayhem and physical destruction that was depicted.  Major sensory overload. And the best part of the whole thing is that almost EVERYTHING looked REAL, which is what I want most when it comes to these summer movie destructathons. The stunt work during the entire film is COMPLETELY INSANE, and the cinematography was tremendous (there are a few shots that really baffle me in terms of how they were accomplished...). The story, acting, and dialogue are exactly what you'd expect and nothing more.  The filmmakers have wisely shifted the series away from the illegal street racing scene into Ocean's 11 heist territory, and Chris Morgan's adequate script throws in a few good one-liners and some imaginative (if physically impossible and totally implausible) action sequences.  The Rock and Vin Diesel get a good five minutes of kicking each other's asses in a wall-destroying, head-bashing brawl that matched anything in last summer's The Expendables.   Just like the rest of the entries in this mega-profitable franchise, Fast Five is as unpretentious of a movie as you're likely to get, as it has only one thing on its wild, crazy, and action-filled mind:  check-your-brain-at-the-door entertainment.

PS -- the new Transformers 3-D trailer is UNFUCKINGBELIEVABLE.

Sunday, May 1, 2011