Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I know it's early to say this...

I stand behind this 100% Lars Von Triers' new film "Antichrist" is the best film of 2009. I will provide you with a detailed review soon enough.

(thank you to for providing me with the link)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Films of 2009 (cont.)

Observe and Report - Dir. Jody Hill

The raunchy comedy era has come back in a big way. The last few years, it's been lead by Judd Apatow with his directorial debut; The 40 Year Old Virgin. Along with Apatow, his cast and crew have branched out to become stars in their own right. Everyone from Seth Rogan, Bill Hader, and Danny Mcbride, to behind the scenes writers and rising comedy directors like Jody Hill and David Gordon Green and writers like Evan Goldberg. Observe and Report is the second film by Jody Hill; who has already gained notoriety for his debut "The Foot Fist Way" with Danny McBride. Seth Rogan plays Ronnie Barnhardt, the head of security for his mall; who takes his job a little too seriously. His duty is especially called when a local streaker has hit the property and terrorizes any mall patron that crosses his path. Ronnie along with his associates; a spanish security guard named Dennis, surprisingly (but brilliantly) played by Michael Pena, and two twin asian gun nuts, jump on the path to solving the crime. Other subplots begin to emerge, including a theft that brings in Det. Harrison, played by Ray Liotta, an Ronnie's obsession with the cosmetics girl, played by Anna Faris. Those not familiar with Jody Hill's tone, may be rubbed incorrectly with certain aspects of the humor in this film. Like Hill's fantastic HBO series Eastbound and Down, the humor is lowbrow, offensive, but surprisingly subtle. With a lot of Rogen's films feeling like his comedy comes natural, the main character's complete darkness is actually a departure from Rogen's previous films and makes this character fresh and extremely entertaining to follow. The Apatow branched comedy troupe shows no signs of slowing down with all his alumni consistenly finding work with their own projects as well as other big directors; Rogen was also lucky enough to work with Kevin Smith for his 2008 hit Zach and Miri make a Porno. Observe and Report may not be for everyone, but for the fans of other strange films like The Cable Guy, The Weather Man, and Serial Mom, Observe and Report is another gem from Hill and Rogen that in my book has tremendous replay value and lots of laughs.

Rogen and Pena on Patrol in Observe and Report. (thanks to for the photo.)

The Hangover - Dir. Todd Philips

What happened in Vegas is out like dirty laundry in Todd Philips' return to his very best; after his A-Team-esque cinematic misses like Starsky and Hutch and School for Scoundrels. The Hangover is about a group of friends celebrating their best friend's final night of freedom before marriage in none other than Las Vegas. Before long, the characters wake up dazed, confused, and worse...missing their best friend. What begins is a journey that's filled with as many questions and answers that make you feel like you're watching Chinatown replaced with a bunch of misfits. The mystery and pacing of the films answers to the plot unfold just as precise as if you were watching a murder mystery or a serious dramatic political conspiracy. With no recollection of the previous evening, we follow these characters on what chalks up to be a more fun filled day in vegas than actually partying in the sin city nightlife. Bradley Cooper heads the cast as a raunchy school teacher named Phil Wenneck, Cooper isn't a stranger to comedy with his previous; and great portrayal of a self important rich man on campus in Wedding Crashers. Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis co star with Cooper in helping Phil (Cooper), the best man of the wedding, find their friend and make it back to the wedding on time. This film was actually the biggest surprise of the summer grossing over 100 million and garnering extremely positive reviews; which is not typical of a comedy film with this type of subject matter. The hype isn't just hype though, the film is extremely worth the praise. It's gag-factor is high and the pacing of the film is the exact type of formula we knew and loved from Philips' earlier films such as Road Trip and Old School. The Hangover is easily Philips' best film and one of my favorite picks for the year 2009.

Cooper and crew, trying to figure out what happened.
(thank you to for the screencap.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Men Who Stare At Goats (2009)

I just stumbled on this trailer and I really felt the need to share it with you. I love Clooney in his comedy roles and the rest of the cast is excellent. The trailer alone, had me laughing hysterically. Enjoy!

The year of 2009 (so far)

I must admit, in the beginning of this year, I wasn't looking forward to much of anything. All I really had to look forward to in cinema, were the films that were yet to be released in theaters where I live, that came out in 2008. The summer actually brought some quality films and not to mention made me appreciate certain genres that I never found myself appreciating before. The following films are in no particular order or importance...just films I saw this year and my abridged reviews for them.

Watchmen - Directed by Zach Snyder

The genre of comic book films got a huge notice as of last year with the monstrous Dark Knight; Christopher Nolans vision of Batman for the new age. After a film like that, comic book films definitely became something more critics were noticing. With the right writers, you can easily meld a story that resonates within cultures, beliefs, mirror society, and of course still have the fun of dressing the characters up in costumes. I use Dark Knight as my stepping stone in this write up because many people consider it to be the greatest comic book film of all time, I beg to differ. When Zach Snyder first came onto the scene with his lackluster debut of the re-imagined Dawn of the Dead, I wrote him off as another young director that hollywood would use to exploit older creations and just bring in the run of the mill audiences into the multiplex. Then, Snyder makes you notice his next film 300, based on Frank Miller's graphic novel. 300, shot entirely on green screen, turned out to be a pleasant surprise and showed Snyder blossoming into something more special as a director, not to mention, creating a style of action that's as noticeable as John Woo's gunplay of the 1980's. Based on a graphic novel that has a rabid following starting since it's release in the mid 1980's, Watchmen is a story of a grand scale, dealing with the indignation of a group of superheroes that are wondering if the society they've spent years protecting, is still worth saving. The film feels as if each scene is literally taken directly from the pages of the graphic novel, which isn't a bad thing in this case. In the first scene consisting of a beautifully choreographed fight, scored to the Nat King Cole classic "unforgettable", Snyder immediately grabs your attention and shows you that his maturity as a filmmaker has grown tenfold. Watchmen is a story that speaks and entertains in volumes to nearly every age group. What's more interesting about the story, and what I found to be absolutely fascinating, was the amalgam of historical events that were true in society, being altered by these pivotal characters. In return, the involvement of these characters in such events as The Vietnam War, The Kennedy Assassination, and the US reaching the moon, give us the product of the society we see in this film.

Watchmen are the second generation of heroes following the Minutemen. The novel contains more of a detailed history on the older generation heroes. However, since the story is so vast, Snyder covered the history of these characters respectfully and beautifully, with a montage in the opening credits of the film, scored with the Bob Dylan classic "The times they are a changin". The film generally follows Rorscach, the more sadistic of the group, investigating the murder of one of his peers; Edward Blake otherwise known as The Comedian. As he continues to pry more into the reasons behind the murder of his friend, he goes out to warn the rest of his fellow Watchmen, who are living normal lives due to a law banning their vigilante actions as per the president. The Casting is excellent with a melting pot of seasoned film veterans and great up and coming talent. The film is epic in scale and is saturated with character studies that greatly add to the central plot of the film. The metaphors of the film/novel's society and message of right and wrong easily transcend to this generation and are just as important as they were when the novel was originally written in the mid 1980's. Watchmen was the first film of 2009 that I thoroughly enjoyed and surprisingly enough, is actually in the top 3 of best films of 2009.

more films of 2009 to come...including Up, The Hangover, Drag Me To Hell, Star Trek, Inglorious Basterds, and District 9.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My apologies....

Things have been running slow on this website. I've been working on a screenplay and a lot of personal things that have kept me pre-occupied from posting on here. Soon to come, Inglourious Basterds review, as well as other films throughout the summer.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Recent DVD(s) to look up.

Thanks for checking out my section on DVDs. Most people who know me well, know that i'm an avid DVD collector, almost rabid to a degree. I've been collecting since high school. I enjoy to purchase and add to my library your average hollywood pictures and normal all around great films (as well as guilty pleasure from time to time), but what I really look for also, are things you don't normally find. I'm going to review a few recent purchases that I've had the privilege of watching and giving you; the reader, some insight on what I enjoyed.

1. Waltz with Bashir - Directed by Ari Folman

Unfortunately in America, we tend to be oblivious of a lot of atrocities that go on in the world around us. Usually because since it doesn't involve our country, we are pretty selfish to turn a blind eye and instead litter our news coverage with inept celebrities and news about things that really do not matter in the least bit. So the subject matter of Waltz with Bashir is automatically going to be a subject in which most domestic viewers will know absolutely nothing about. In 1982, Sabra and Shatila were two refugee camps that were being controlled by the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and this was in the middle of a heightened war that was centralized in Lebanon. The film's approach to the subject matter could've easily been another run of the mill documentary that you've seen on many other occasions. However, Folman's approach was that of innovative, creative, and overall devastating. Shot in real time and later all actors are animated (like Linklater's 2006 film A Scanner Darkly), the film approaches the subject in the form of an interactive documentary, for both the protagonist (director Folman) and the audience. We are listening to the testimonials of people involved in these atrocities, all the while seeing these actions recreated in a form of animation that is truly captivating. The documentary/narrative film involves Folman involved at one point in this war as a soldier, bewildered of the fact that he can't remember his participation in this war. He then begins to visit and speak to other comrades that stood by him to piece together the events that unfolded, to find out his true involvement. The fast paced nature of the film runs at a 90 mins that seems too quick (not in a bad way of course) and the overall impact of the film is unparalleled. The film itself is impressive but this review is also about the DVD too. The features are few and far between but Sony Pictures Classics makes the time worthwhile by giving you insight on things that are really interesting. There is a great segment on the creation of the film starting from storyboards to real time filming and to the eventual animated process that follows to give you the finished product of what you see. The commentary is enlightening if not educating as well, giving you further insight on the events the film takes you on a journey through. The making of the film itself is also short but sweet. Overall, the DVD (and film of course) is a good buy and a great film to watch alone and with friends. It's subject matter that can definitely bring a reflective thought within yourself after viewing, and great conversation between others as well. I highly recommend this DVD.

2. Gran Torino - Directed By Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood returns again to the director's chair with another film just as special as some of the legendary films he's created in the past few years. This one had more attention mainly because it was also he return the silver screen as an actor and sadly, his apparent final screen performance. Gran Torino is a metaphor about the changing of the times, racism and tolerance. Walt Kowalski is a Korean War Veteran dealing with the next chapter in his life, Solitude. Walt's wife passes away and he continues to move on in his life in the best way he knows how. The neighborhood around him continues to change (for the worse in Walt's eyes) but he refuses to move. Like the stern brick wall character he is, he drinks his beer, banters with his dog, and continues the household chores and keeps living. Until one night when the neighbor Thao is caught attempting to steal his Gran Torino in an apparent gang initiation. Walt's life becomes involved with these new neighbors through a series of different events that make him question his bigoted past and whether life is really worth living in hatred. As he understands his new neighbors, he forms a bond with the youngest one Thao in a father/son style relationship that clearly wasn't ever established with his own son. Trouble continues to be a face in Walt's neighborhood as he deals with the Korean gang that keeps bothering Thao and his family, so Walt feels compelled to protect them. Gran Torino is a beautifully shot, wonderfully paced story from Eastwood; who brings another character that will live in the annals of film history. The dialogue is amusing as much as it is shocking, but ultimately in all the rough wooden exterior that this film possesses, you'll find that Eastwood has put more heart into this film than expected, which resonates within you by the start of the film's end credits. Being that this was one of Eastwood's most successful films critically and financially, you can't help but feel cheated with the DVD's release. Eastwood has been a staple of the silver screen for more than 4 decades, and being that this is his final acting job is pretty big deal. You would expect maybe a retrospect on his career, or the preparations he may have taken for his last role in front of the camera. You dont... Maybe you'd want to know why he chose this as his last role? You won't know... What about his approach for casting the film? Why he chose to use actual Hmong people with no acting experience what so ever for the film? Sadly, we won't know. All we get is a simple short documentary on the history of the Gran Torino car (which is somewhat interesting within itself) and another documentary on america's obsession with the muscle car and a festival that celebrates such automobiles. I wouldn't be surprised if the film gets a stronger release later (because that's how companies are now a days, look at the Dark Knight's pitiful DVD release). It just seems as though this DVD wasn't worth the delayed wait. Where most films generally make the DVD shelves in about 3 months after it's theatrical release, this film took 6 months. Kind of like opening a package on christmas day that you knew was sitting there since july...and it's clothes from Wal Mart. The film is fantastic, the special features however are nearly close to being easily forgotten.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment and I'll be reviewing more DVD soon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Daniel Day Lewis' new film "Nine"

Daniel Day Lewis is quite possibly one of the most gifted actors of our generation. Every role he touches is literally award winning gold! My Left Foot, In The Name Of The Father, Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood, there isn't a role he can't do. So I'm sure it wouldn't surprise you if I said he's an actor that I always looks forward to seeing. When I first heard of his next project "Nine", I was intrigued. It's supposed to be a re-imagining of Federico Fellini's classic "8 1/2". I'm 50/50 on remakes because I feel as if they are absolutely unnecessary if you plan on just tracing over someone's work. I feel to do a solid remake to a film (classic or not), you should bring something new to the table, use your vision in respect to the predecessor's work to create something as special. Otherwise, just leave it alone.

Now on to my next order of business, the director of "Nine". I'm not very fond of musicals typically. I can name the musicals I've enjoyed over the years with one hand. While I applaud Marshall for deciding to do something different with this film, I'm not quite sure if this translates well into a musical. I might be one of the only people in the world that thought "Chicago" was an absolute embarrassment and felt it didn't deserve not 1 oscar that it received in 2002, especially Best Picture. The Academy does enjoy making a lot of mistakes from time to time, Slumdog Millionaire, as good as it was, definitely didn't deserve best picture either...but that's for a whole other discussion entirely. Rob Marshall then followed up Chicago with Memoirs Of a Geisha. I wasn't thrilled on finding out he was directing, but I give everyone a shot; except for Michael Bay. Memoirs Of a Geisha turned out to be a pretty nice picture and I felt it was a little underrated. So now we have Rob Marshall bringing us "Nine". A story about a creative man juggling the many women in his life, from his wife to his mistress, star of his picture to his own mother (played by the legendary Sophia Loren).

The cast of this film brings together Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, Judi Dench, and it pains me to say...Stacey Ferguson (yes, Fergie...). The trailer has been released and here it is for your viewing pleasure. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. I mean, Day-Lewis typically comes out with a movie at the minimum of every 3 years because he becomes very involved in his roles; and it shows with the spectacular performances he always brings us. I guess There Will Be Blood is a tough act to follow and I was expecting anything but a musical as his next offering. I have high hopes for this due to it's casting over wonderful leading ladies and of course with Day-Lewis, but I have my reservations just as much because of Rob Marshall and Fergie. The scale is in the middle and it's just about balanced, let's see which side it leans more towards as the release date comes closer.