Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bikur Ha-Tizmoret

Written and directed by Eran Kolirin

Stars: Sasson Gabai, Ronit Elkabetz, Saleh Bakri, Khalifa Natour, Rubi Moskovitz, Uri Gavriel, Imad Jabarin, Shlomi Avraham
The Band's Visit is one of those movies that have been talked about and universally praised that I had to see what the fuss what about. Seeing the movie on the library shelf, I was hesitant that I might not like it. I did. A lot.
The movie is about a group of Egyptian police musicians called Alexandria Ceremonial Orchestra travel to Israel for a last ditch effort to save the band from budget cuts. Upon arriving what they think Beit Hatikva instead of Petah Tiqva, they have to stay with a worldly diner owner, Dina (Ronit Elkabetz) for the night. These people that should be enemies find a common bond around music.
The film won the Audience Prize Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It was a lock to be nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, but the movie was disqualified because most of the film's language was in English.

Doing a movie with competing nationalities can be tricky. It could go in Crash territory really fast. The movie as a whole is a comedy of errors of sorts. The humor is from the uncomfortable silences as some people are stuck in their ways while others did not.

I enjoyed the natural progression of the relationship between Dina and leader of the group, the uptight Lieutenant-colonel Tawfiq Zacharya (Sasson Gabai). You would never think think these people would form a bond and they managed to do that beautifully. There was one scene that made me choke up when Tawfiq told Dina about his son.

The best focal point of the movie was the music. I don't know that much traditional Arab music, but I was enthralled. This movie really should be experienced once.

My Rating:

Trailer Tuesday - 11/29/2011

I hope you guys recovered from your turkey hangovers to watch a couple of trailers that were released over the Thanksgiving holiday. Just two.

The first trailer for "The Rep" is a documentary about repertory theaters. What is a repertory theater, you ask? It is a theaters that shows classic movies. Nowadays with everyone going to see mindless blockbusters and renting movies on Netflix, these theaters sere struggling to stay afloat. The movie is still in production. It was conceived to be a web series, but with enough good word of mouth it might come out in theaters.

There is the trailer for Ed Burns next directorial effort called "Newlyweds". Ed plays Buzzy (try not to think of bees) who is living in NYC with his new wife, Katie (Caitlin Fitzgerald). Their quaint life is torn asunder when Buzzy's rebellious sister, Linda (Kerry Bishe) comes into town and stays in their apartment. As you may have guessed, their lives turn upside down. The movie opens on December 26th.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Final Impressions (Holiday Edition) - 11/23/2011

Since Turkey Day is happening on Thursday, the movies are coming out in full force today. The picking are better this week than last week.

The Descendants

It has been seven years since Alexander Payne has a directed a movie since Sideways. His follow up in another loosely adaptation of the a book. People are talking about George Clooney being a front runner for the Best Actor Oscar.

The setting is in Hawaii. It looks nice. I heard some news that the movie is not all it is cracked up to be. It seems like one of those movies that is being hyped up for no payoff. I could be wrong.

The Muppets

It has been awhile since a Muppets movie has hit the big screen. Jason Segel tries to recapture the magic of the nostalgia from people who have grown up with them and kids that are just introduced to them.

The movie is like The Smurfs were humans are introduced to the cartoon characters.

It all seems a little meta like the original movies were.

My Week with Marilyn

Opening in limited release is the movie that is getting Michelle Williams a lot of Oscar attention.

I heard about this movie when a rival Marilyn Monroe movie was in production at the time. People are talking mainly about Michelle. Not much else.


This is Martin Scorsese first foray in having a 3D feature. It's a based on a beloved children's book. I wonder what the movie is going to be like without the guns and f-bombs.

A Dangerous Method

Here is another Oscar contender that is opening in NYC and LA. There is a lot of buzz surrounding this movie as well.

The movie would seem a little to stiff to strike a cord with movie audiences.

Arthur Christmas

I have seen trailers for this movie. It seems like one of this disposable holiday kid flicks to get children to drag their parents along.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Trailer Tuesday - 11/22/2011

Once again, a slew of trailers have been released for our viewing pleasure. Let's take a peek at them, shall we?

I know that first trailer of Tarsem Singh's upcoming rival Snow White film, "Mirror, Mirror" came out on the same day as of the last post. I didn't want confuse you into thinking that they are the same movie. Far from it. Snow White (Lily Collins) is chased by the Evil Queen, inexplicably played by Julia Roberts. That cutie Armie Hammer is in the movie as the Prince and Nathan Lane as the Queen's manservant, Brighton. It opens March 16, 2012.

The second trailer for the next sappy, syrupy Nicholas Sparks adaptation, "The Vow" has been released. Urgh! Why do people get sucked into this bullshit over and over again? Sparks alum Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) and Channing Tatum (Dear John) comes together about a couple gets into a car accident. The wife loses the memories of their time together and he tries to make her fall in love with him again. It opens February 10, 2012.

Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster reunite with "The Messenger" director, Oren Moverman for what is being touted as the movie with the most corrupt cop ever put on screen. That is a big statement to say the least. Harrelson plays Dave Brown, a veteran police officer in 1990s LA. His life is spiraling out of control. The movie has all star cast of Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Ned Beatty, Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi and Sigourney Weaver. It opens January 27, 2012 wide.

"Gone" seems like the kind of disposable movie that would typically come out in the vast wasteland between January to April. It deals with Jill (Amanda Seyfried) who tries to find a serial killer that kidnaps her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) who kidnapped her years earlier. Whatever. The movie opens February 27, 2012.

I am surprised that nobody is reporting about the first trailer for Pixar's upcoming movie, "Brave". People have been buzzing about this movie when the first images of the movie came out. the movie follows a young girl named Merida who defies her family's tradition to be a warrior in medieval Scotland. It opens Summer 2012.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Currently #105 of Top 250 Films on IMDb
(As of this posting)

Directed by John Huston

Written by John Huston
Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Elisha Cook Jr.

The Maltese Falcon is one of those staple movies that have been in the lexicon of film goers for seventy years since it came out. I just watched this three Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Greenstreet. For john Huston's directorial debut, I did not disappoint.

True to it's film noir roots the movies starts with the murder of private detective Sam Spade's (Bogart) partner, Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) when he was trying to tail a prep. The woman that hired the team, Brigid O'Shaughnessy (Astor) is being exposed as being a part of a conspiracy that have innocent people killed  because of a priceless Maltese falcon statue made in the 16th century.

From the word go this movie have you going on a wild roller coaster ride that leads to the satisfying conclusion.

I was surprised  that "deer in the headlights" Peter Lorre was in the film as Joel Cairo. A lot skinner I might add. Bogart played spade like an anti-hero. he is not likable, but he is charming enough enough to make you forgive his transgressions. Mary Astor as the femme fatale was fine. I don't see why everyone wants to be with her. Greenstreet as the "antagonist" of the movie, Gutman was a little weird. He was nominated for an Oscar. I don't see it, but standards were different back then.

My favorite part of the movie was the dynamic between Spade and Gutman's young hitman, Wilmer Cook (Cook, Jr.) Spade treated Wilmer like a gnat that needed to be swatted. I loved the banter between them.

The movie was a delight to see the twists and turns, the anger and betrayal. Easy, breezy, beautiful, Cover Girl.

My Rating:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Final Impressions - 11/18/2011

This week is very light on the new releases. Um... yeah.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1

Holy shit! They are breaking this movie up into two parts. Are you fucking me? Do Twihards want to see more of this insipid "romance"?

Summit tries to suck money money out of the American public. they are the real bloodsuckers.

I saw the first movie. It was awful. I don't care about these movies. I have no interest with these brooding assholes. I can't wait for 2013. No more of these movies! YAY!!!!

Happy Feet 2

I have seen bits of the first movie. Not memorable.

So, it's another sequel.

What else can I say?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Trailer Tuesday - 11/15/2011

It's that time once again for taking a peeking at the latest trailers that Hollywood has bestowed upon us.

First is the sequel to "Journey to the Center of the Earth", "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island." The teaser trailer tells about Josh Hutcherson dragging Dwayne Johnson to Mysterious Island that was told by Jules Verne in his classic book. He wants to search for his long lost grandfather, played by Michael Caine. It looks like another throwaway flick. It opens February 2012.

Next, "Snow White and the Huntsman", one of many fairy movies that are about to be released in the coming year. It twists the tale of Snow White (Kristen Stewart) a bit to tell the tale of the Evil Queen (Charlize Theron) wanting eternal life. She has to consume the heart of Snow White. She calls a hunter (Chris Hemsworth) to hunt her down. By the looks of the trailer, it's going to be a major blockbuster when it open June 1, 2012.

The second trailer for Steven Soderburgh's film, "Haywire" has been released. I saw the trailer on TV and I was less than impressed with it. It seems like another operative double coursed by their employer. It opens January 20, 2012.

Another cliched movie with Jason Statham as the lead. It's called "Safe", a cop, Luke Wright tries to protect a little girl for corrupt cops and gangsters. YAWN! It comes out March 2, 2012. [UPDATE: The movie has been pushed back to April 27th.]

I betcha good money that people were creaming themselves when the full trailer of the highly anticipated film adaptation of the book, "The Hunger Games" was released. I know about the book. Have not read it. My understanding is that it is like "Battle Royale" for Americans. It opens March 23, 2012.

Finally, we end on the latest Meryl Streep vehicle that tries to give her her third Oscar. The UK trailer for the "The Iron Lady" has been released. I don't know that much about former Prime Minister Margret Thatcher. I wonder will Americans be interested to see a movie about a British politician. It opens December 16, 2011 in the US, January 6th in the UK.

Monday, November 14, 2011

M - The Criterion Collection

M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (1931)

Currently #52 of the Top 250 Films on IMDb
(As of this posting)

Directed by Fritz Lang

Written by: Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang
Based on the article by Egon Jacobson

Stars: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke,  Theodor Loos and Inge Landgut

I always wanted to see M,  even though I knew very little about the movie. It is one of top film voted on by users that have seen it. The movie does not disappoint for the most part.

The story follows a suspected child killer, Hans Beckert (Lorre) as he is pursued by all sides. The police want to arrest him and put him on trail, the public wants to crucify him and a bunch of hoods have to deliver street justice on him.

Not being familiar with German films, I was caught off guard with the way that the people were interacting with each other. The beginning of the movie was a slow deliberate burn to add to the tension of the latest victim of Beckart, Elsie Beckmann (Landgut) rocks a small neighborhood. Then, it became chaotic with the different people shouting at each other. It was hard to keep up with what was going.

When the witch hunt focuses in on Beckert, the movie began to take an interesting turn. It dealt more with this disturbed man that is constantly in a "deer in headlights" mode that we feel what it happening to him.

The movie takes an interesting look at the psyche of the human condition. You almost feel sorry for this monster that killed nine little girls as the angry mob want to give him his comeuppance. I also felt the anger from the crowd towards the man as he could get away with murder unless someone stops him.

It is a relevant piece about what is right and wrong. Is there a gray area? Is justice blind?

The movie certainly got better as it went along and I was glad that I stayed on the ride.

My Rating:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Final Impressions 11/11/11

It's that time ladies and gents for Hollywood to release another mixed bag of movies for you to consume. Also, today is 11-11-11. Everybody is going apeshit over it. Give me a break. Here are the movies that are opening today.

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Speaking of a movies that is going apeshit, we have the latest from the director that gave us the glorious masterpieces, Saw 2, 3 and 4, Darren Lynn Bousman.

This horror flick is about a man that survives a car accident at 11:11. Then, strange events happens around 11-11. The date 11-11-11 is supposed to bring an evil unto the world. You know the drill.

Didn't people say the same thing when the remake of The Omen came out on 6-6-06 that the world was going to end and the devil was coming back?

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Who wants to see a bunch of greased up muscle men with swords and shields? Women and gay men will flock at this movie. You still have 300, but this cast is prettier.

The director, Tarsem Singh directed that acclaimed movie, The Fall and The Cell with J. Lo. He has great visual style, but the other aspects of the movie suffer. I don't know what to say about this movie.

Directed by Clint Eastwood
J. Edgar

The Oscar baity movies are amping up with the release of Clint Eastwood's biopic of FBI honcho, J. Edgar Hoover. This is Leonardo DiCaprio's mission to win an Oscar

The movie delves into the his ascension of his status at the FBI, his influence on presidents, his cross dressing and his ambiguous relationship with friend, Carl Tolson (Armie Hammer).

Let the Oscar campaign begin.

Directed by Lars von Trier

Kirsten Dunst have been out of the spotlight for so long that I was surprised that has a movie out. It's a Lars von Trier movie. You know that his characters are going to be happy-go-lucky, don't have a care in the world and live happily ever after. (You know I'm kidding. Right?)

Kirsten won the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. That should say something. Right? Maybe. No. Not at all.

Directed by Dennis Dugan
Jack and Jill

Why on God's green earth would Adam Sandler do this movie? Seriously. Write a comment about who would possess somebody to make this movie.

This is Adam Sandler's version of Norbit. The straight guy and the annoying, outrageous drag version of him.

This looks so unfunny, unimaginative and possibly a waste of your time and money.

Entre les murs

The Class (2008)

Directed by Laurent Cantet

Written by Laurent Cantet, Robin Campillo and François Bégaudeau
Based on the novel by  François Bégaudeau

Stars: François Bégaudeau, Esmeralda Ouertani, Rachel Regulier and Franck Keïta.

The Class was one of the front runners to win the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language when it was beaten by Japan's entry, Departures. I heard nothing, but great things about this movie.

A movie podcast that listened to, Cinebanter, did show on this movie where they thought that the movie felt false to them since they were working in the school system as well. I have to agree with their sentiments.

The author of the book, François Bégaudeau plays François Marin, a idealistic French teacher that tries to inspire a group of immigrant students in a trouble school, Dolto High.

Going into this movie I had some high expectations with it that I would be inspired or feel some response to what I was seeing on screen, but I didn't. The movie is shot in a documentary style that some people find refreshing. I find that annoying.

Being that Bégaudeau was the author of the book and was cast as essentially himself, he was play it straight. Playing it straight doesn't make a compelling movie for the audience to see. It felt mundane and formulaic. We have seen those movies where the teacher inspire the students to greatness.

I wish I knew what the point of the movie truly is, because you don't know that much about the teacher or the  melting pot of students that is in Marin's class. You don't connect with them on any level.

The movie was empty, but there was a few moments that I could drawn into the story when the clash between teacher and students become apparent. That was it.

My Rating:


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Flix Rant - I'm Done With You, Ratner!

I may be a little late to the party with this news story but I have something to say about the insensitive comments made by Brett Ratner during a screening to his latest shitacular movie, Tower Heist.

He said during the event that "rehearsals are for fags." Really? If you don't like rehearsals, that's fine. Do what you think is best. Do you have to say a homophobic slur about something that you don't do? What the fuck, man?

What were you thinking? You know what? You weren't thinking. A word like that should not be in your vocabulary.

Now, that the shit has hit the fan. Brett Ratner resigned from being a producer of the upcoming Oscars hosted by Eddie Murphy.

Here is what he said:

An Open Letter to the Entertainment Industry from Brett Ratner
Dear Colleagues,
Over the last few days, I’ve gotten a well-deserved earful from many of the people I admire most in this industry expressing their outrage and disappointment over the hurtful and stupid things I said in a number of recent media appearances. To them, and to everyone I’ve hurt and offended, I’d like to apologize publicly and unreservedly.
As difficult as the last few days have been for me, they cannot compare to the experience of any young man or woman who has been the target of offensive slurs or derogatory comments. And they pale in comparison to what any gay, lesbian, or transgender individual must deal with as they confront the many inequalities that continue to plague our world.
So many artists and craftspeople in our business are members of the LGBT community, and it pains me deeply that I may have hurt them. I should have known this all along, but at least I know it now: words do matter. Having love in your heart doesn’t count for much if what comes out of your mouth is ugly and bigoted. With this in mind, and to all those who understandably feel that apologies are not enough, please know that I will be taking real action over the coming weeks and months in an effort to do everything I can both professionally and personally to help stamp out the kind of thoughtless bigotry I’ve so foolishly perpetuated.
As a first step, I called Tom Sherak this morning and resigned as a producer of the 84th Academy Awards telecast. Being asked to help put on the Oscar show was the proudest moment of my career. But as painful as this may be for me, it would be worse if my association with the show were to be a distraction from the Academy and the high ideals it represents.
I am grateful to GLAAD for engaging me in a dialogue about what we can do together to increase awareness of the important and troubling issues this episode has raised and I look forward to working with them. I am incredibly lucky to have a career in this business that I love with all of my heart and to be able to work alongside so many of my heroes. I deeply regret my actions and I am determined to learn from this experience.
Brett Ratner
After he delivered that half-assed apology via Twitter, that is least thing that he should do.

I have defended this prick for years, because people think that he is a hack director that fucked up the "X-Men" franchise. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but now I know that people were right about him. What an asshole.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trailer Tuesday - 11/8/2011

I  wanted to create a new ongoing series about the latest trailers that have been released over the past weekend and give my impressions of them. There is a mixed bag this week.

Here is the "fourth" installment of the American Pie series of films. I guess those shitty straight-to-DVD movies don't count. Shame. Everybody from the original movie are reprising their roles. Some have grown up and some have stayed the adolescent that they were.

The premise is that the graduating class of 1999 are coming together for a blowout party together. I just wonder how they are gonna reunite at year thirteen. Whatever.

It's slated for release in April 2012.

Michael Fassbender reunited with the director that made him a star, Steve McQueen with their latest collaboration, Shame.

Fassbender plays Brandon, a NYC man that is living with sexual compulsion disorder. His life is thrown for a loop when his younger sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apartment.

The movie opens on December 2nd.

The House of the Devil director, Ti West, delivers another suspenseful movie about a New England hotel called The Yankee Pedlar Inn is on the verge of closing its doors. The last employees there, Clarie and Luke (Sara Paxton, Pat Healy) want to investigate at the supposed haunting taking place in the inn. When a medium Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGinnis) comes to invoke the spirits. Things get really strange.

The movie opens February 3, 2012

Project X is the movie that is produced by the Hangover director, Todd Phillips. It is the high school party to end high school parties. This is pretty much the premise.

The movie opens March 2012.

I saw the red band trailer of the big screen adaptation of the 1980s television show, "21 Jump Street".  My first thought was "What the fuck is this shit?" This is not the 'Jump Street' I know. It's like "Observe and Report meets "Paul Blart". Where the diversity in the cast? It's just a bunch of assholes who are elderly trying to integrate into a high school setting.

Jonah Hill looks gaunt that he lost his bloat. Channing Tatum is being a wooden actor as always.

The movie opens March 16, 2012.

This trailer has blown up on the Internet when it was released. The movie is about Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington), a CIA operative that went rogue and went eluded capture until he was apprehended. He is taken to a safe house in South Africa where a rookie operative, Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) has to babysit him. The safe house is comprised and they have to go on the run.

The movie opens February 10, 2012.

Paul Rudd re-teams with "Wet Hot American Summer" director, David Wain for "Wanderlust" with his "Object of Affection" co-star, Jennifer Aniston. I loved "Summer", but this trailer was limp. I didn't laugh at any of the jokes or gags or the R. Kelly references.

The movie opens February 24, 2012.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Small Back Room - The Criterion Collection

Also known as Hour of Glory (1949)

Directed by  Michael Powell  & Emeric Pressburger

Written by Michael Powell  & Emeric Pressburger
Based on the novel by Nigel Balchin

Stars: David Farrar, Jack Hawkins and Kathleen Byron

Date of Release:  February 23, 1952

The directing team behind the classic film, The Red Shoes comes back with an introspective look of an scientist Sammy Rice (Ferrar) trying to dismantle a bomb in WWII London.

I believe that one of my friends on Facebook recommended this movie, The Small Back Room to me when I praised the introspective journey of the main character with my essay of The Hurt Locker on my other side. seeing the movie on the shelf at the library. I thought it was kismet. I had to watch this movie.

Instead of writing out the plot of the movie, I wanted to give my impressions of the movie. The movie on the surface is like The Hurt Locker, but they are very different. It is a film noir that has all the tropes of a film of that time. The shadows and limited light brightness up the actors faces.

Overall, the movie was a huge disappoint. At first, I have a huge hang up with British movies. I don't know if it's the accents, the way they carry themselves, something turns me off with those movies. First strikes against it.

The second is the tension was not there. In The Hurt Locker, the score, the way that the camera was positioned, the intensity on the actors faces spoke volumes. Back Room was laying there like a dead fish. There was the ending sequence of the movie that redeemed it a little. I wish that the protagonist was fully fleshed out. He was just booze hound genius that is caught up with a secretary, Susan (Byron) with a tin leg. Big whoop!

Third strike was that I thought the movie was plotting along aimlessly. The beginning was incomprehensible. Asking myself,"Who are these people?", "What the hell is going on?". I was lost. Then, when Captain Stuart (Michael Gough) explains about a bomb explosion happening in the streets that killed some civilians, then I knew what was happening. During the middle of the runtime, I was drifting off to sleep. I was checking to see how long the movie was going to last.

Going back to watching movies is not starting off on the right foot.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Final Impressions - 11/4/2011

I want to create different segments for this new venture of mine. I don't know if most of you know that I have boycotted going to the theater this year. So I decided to take it upon myself to judge the upcoming releases to see if you gonna waste your money or not.

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

There is a THIRD Harold and Kumar movie? Really? Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed with the stoners went to White Castle. I couldn't care less when they busted out of Guantanamo Bay. Now, they are doing Christmas? In 3D? Are you fucking serious?

Why is this movie coming out in early November? Holy shit!

I think you should be stoned off your ass to enjoy this movie.

Hey, Kal Penn, what happened to your cushy White House job that got your character offing himself on House? It didn't work out.

Directed by Brett Ratner

It's the Bernie Madoff story told in a heist comedy. Yay!

I know that Brett Ratner gets a lot of shit for this movies. I don't know think that this movie is doing him any favors.

A madcap group of would be crooks with Zoolander, Professor Klump, Bueller, the less famous Affleck brother, a generic Hispanic guy and Precious. How could they possibly go wrong?

Directed by Dito Montiel

Have you seen a trailer for this movie? Neither have I.

This is Dito Montiel's third movie with Channing Tatum. I guess, he thinks that Tatum is good luck charm for this movie. Maybe that might have a co-pendent relationship like a certain duos. Say, I don't know (cough) Scorsese/DiCaprio. Ahem. (cough)Tim Burton/Johnny Depp. (cough) Oh excuse me. I need to take a lozenge for that.

I saw A Guide of Recognizing Your Saints. It wasn't a bad movie. It was okay. Fighting was just a way from Tatum to take his shirt off. I'll wait until he shakes his Magic Mike at me. Thank you.

Directed by Philipp Stölzl

Okay. This is a German movie that came out a year ago in Europe. Opening in limited release.

Here is the summary of the movie from IMDb: 

After aspiring poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe fails his law exams, he's sent to a sleepy provincial court to reform. Instead, he falls for Lotte, a young woman who is promised to another man.
 Does that sound interesting to you? Have at it. I have no opinion.