Thursday, December 13, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Screenplay by Derek Connolly

Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere, Jeff Garlin, Kristen Bell and Mary Lynn Rajskub

There was a lot of buzz with Safety Not Guaranteed when it opened last summer. It was my intention to catch it when it was in theaters, but I was too late. Now that the movie is on DVD, I hesitant that I might not like it. I liked the movie for the most part, but it start off a little strange for my taste.

Darius (Plaza) is an intern for magazine in Seattle. Much like Aubrey Plaza's other characters, she is a snarky morose girl that hates everything and everyone. Darius wants to do something bigger than she is currently doing. She gets her chance when a reporter, Jeff (Johnson) has an idea for a piece. He pitches doing a pieces on a guy that puts out an ad for a partner to go back in time with him. Jeff takes Darius and another intern, Arnau (Soni) to the city where the ad was placed. Darius manipulates the guy, Kenneth (Duplass) into letting her be that partner for the time travel adventure.

As stated before, it irritates me when someone is doing the same persona is every single role that they were in. I have a problem with Aubrey Plaza playing the role like Michael Cera. It felt like I was going to hate the movie, but when the other characters were introduced, the irritation subsided. At first, I didn't like the Jeff character. I thought he was just another jerk that wants to screw around, but his arch surprised me.

The other thing that made me fall in love with the movie was the chemistry between Darius and Kenneth. You wouldn't think that the guy who might a madman or a mad genius would be someone that Darius can connect with.

The movie made me think if I could make a time machine, where would I go? It makes you think of the regrets people have in their lives. Do I have regrets? Absolutely. If I could go back in time, I would. Besides this movie is not explicitly about time travel like Looper, Primer or Timecrimes.

 My Rating

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street (2012)

Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Story by Michael Bacall & Jonah Hill

Screenplay by Michael Bacall

Stars: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, DeRay Davis and Rob Riggle

I was on the camp of every person that heard that they were making a comedic remake of the 80s series of the same name that it was going to be terrible. I chose to skip the movie when it was in theaters. Then, my movie nerds kept telling me that the film is actually pretty good. I would say that the movie is funny and ridiculous, but not the second coming.

The story centers around two losers, Jenko and Schmidt (Tatum, Hill) who were the outcasts when they went to high school together. Seven years later, they met again while in police academy training. They become fast friends for convenience. They thought everyday would be like COPS, but it's more like Pacific Blue. While on parole, they look at a gang smoking weed and they try to take them down, expect Jenko forgot tell the suspect his Miranda rights. Instead of getting the sack, they are resigned to previously defunct Jump Street mission to see who is dealing a street drug called HFS to high school students.

Before I saw one frame of the film, I thought it was going to be like Starsky & Hutch or The Dukes of Hazzard. I thought it was going to be a horrible comedic remake of a television show of a different genre. No idea why, but the concept kinda works here. You get guys that looks like a typical high school to infiltrate the school to find major shit going on.

It feels like the drug in question is not a big deal to me. It was like LSD and marijuana wrapped in plastic. It was not like it was bath salts or some other crazy shit that's out there. The chemistry between Hill and Tatum was very good. They worked well with each other.

Everybody knows the film has cameos by three of the main stars of the TV show: Holly Robinson-Pete, Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise. I was surprised when a good portion of them showed up. I had to rewind it again.

My Rating

Monday, December 10, 2012

LAMB Acting School 101: Once Bitten

Once Bitten (1985)

Directed by Howard Storm

Story by Dimitri Villard

Screenplay by David Hines & Jeffrey Hause and Jonathan Roberts

Stars: Lauren Hutton, Jim Carrey, Karen Kopins, Cleavon Little, Thomas Ballatore and Skip Lacey

I know! I know. I know. It has been a hot minute since I reviewed a film. I started a new job that had me working crazy hours. Since the last review, the same circumstances happened with a partial power outage. Waiting for the electric company to come, I happened upon Once Bitten. When I was a kid, I loved this film that it was so cheesy. Watching the movie again, I still savor the cheese factor.

Countess (Hutton) is a 300 year old vampire that desires to have the blood of a virgin to stay youthful. Being that she is living in Los Angeles finding a viable virgin would be hard to come by. Countess enlists her flamboyant chauffeur, Sebastian (Little) and her cronies to find a virgin before Halloween. Meanwhile, Mark (Carrey) is frustrated that his girlfriend, Robin (Kopins) is not putting out. Mark's bonehead friends, Jaime and Russ (Ballatore, Lackey) try to get him lead, but they put him in a path to Countess' seductive claws.

Back then, I didn't know that this movie was bad. I thought it was the best movie ever. I was young, I didn't know any better. My taste was not as refined as it is now. Okay. That's a lie. I love shit movies, too. What can I say? Shit movies are funny in its awfulness. The teenagers in the movies were in their mid to late twenties. The plot is ridiculous. Who cares? A female vampire wants to suck the life blood from a virgin's boy inner thigh. Okay. The movie is silly with dream sequences that have to muck of the smoke machine. I love the movie in its awfulness.

My Rating

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Directed by Rich Moore

Story by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston and Jim Reardon

Screenplay by Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee

Stars: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack MacBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Adam Carrolla, Mindy Kipling, Dennis Haysbert, Ed O'Neill

It has been awhile since I reviewed a movie. Today was interesting to say the least. The electricity went out in my neighborhood this morning. I did not want to sit in the house in the darkness so I decided to see something to pass the time. The only movie that I had an inkling to see was Wreck-It Ralph. That blackout must have been a sign, because I moved with this film.

Ralph (Reilly) has been doing the same job for almost thirty years for old school game Fit It Felix Jr (MacBrayer). Being the "bad guy" of the game, he is excluded from activities when the arcade closing up for the night. He is tired of being left out of everything including the celebration of thirty years. Ralph decides to game jumping in order to have some validation to get the notice that he wants. His brash actions may have set off chain of events that lead to disaster or maybe to a greater evil.

I don't see that many animated movies. Mainly to avoid the kids in the audience, but I had no choice. The auditorium was full with them. There was no choice in the matter. My thinking that it was going to be like Megamind. It kinda felt like it. To me, Ralph is not that much of a bad guy. He was misunderstood. People keep telling him that he was a bad guy that he would be brainwashed or something. The same thing is happening to a girl that Ralph meets a girl when he was game jumping named Vanellope (Silverman) was is told she is a glitch in the system of her game, Sugar Rush.

Usually there is a message with these movies. The message is that whatever makes your different makes you unique. You should never let anyone keep you down. By the end of the movie, I was almost on the verge of tears. The enjoyment was felt all around with this film. People should see this.

My Rating

Friday, November 9, 2012


Skyfall (2012)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan

Based on characters created by Ian Fleming

Stars: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace and Albert Finney

After I was throughly disappointed with the "movie" that was Quantum of Solace, I have all but given up hope of the James Bond franchise. Hearing the troubles with MGM delaying the film, it seems like the final nail on the coffin. Now, we have Skyfall that falls on the 50th anniversary of the franchise. This film hearkens back to the past films with a touch of class.

During an assistant in Turkey, 007 (Craig) pursues an assassin, Patrice (Rapace) that has taken an highly sensitive hard drive that contains the identities of MI-6 agents embedded terrorist organizations around the world. In an unlikely moment, his shadow Eve (Harris) accidentally shoots Bond and let the bad  guy get away. Bond is presumed dead. An unknown force is coming after MI-6, but this person is particularly after M (Dench).

I'm familiar with the Bond films. This movie felt like a Bond film. The intrigue, the seductions, the thrills, the suspense, the gadgets; it had all of that. Hearing about the plot of the film beforehand, I knew where the story was going to go, but I did not expect it to go with it did. My analytical brain was trying to figure out where will happen next. Some things I predicted came true and some things didn't. I'm glad that the film went to its roots like in Casino Royale.

The major thing bothered me about the movie was the callbacks to the previous films. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. It felt like deja vu. It understood that it is the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise, but my head was getting dizzy by those moments.

My Rating

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Let's Celebrate

That's right. Exactly one year ago today, I started this blog. The birth of this blog came from the death of my other blog, Foolish Blatherings. I ran that blog for four years until I was unsatisfied about the with the direction it was heading. That site got me into the LAMB and rest is history. I had the name of this blog for about the same time as well for a secret project that never came to fruition.

I'm continuing to change and evolve.This site is going from crawling to a wobbly walk. I want to say thank you to the people that have commented on my posts and follow the site on blogger and on Facebook. I have met some interesting people along the way. I cannot wait to see what happens in the future.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Prometheus (2012)

Directed by Ridley Scott

Screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof

Based on elements created by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett

Stars: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Kate Dickie, Sean Harris and Rafe Spall

There was some hesitance in watching Prometheus, because of the polarizing response when it came out. Is it prequel to the Alien series? Is it a one off movie in the Alien universe? People loving the movie, but they have major gripes with it. I thought that I was going to hate the film. Not knowing the Alien canon might work in my favor this time.

2089. A pair of archaeologists, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Marshall-Green) discovers ancient cave drawings that predate the traditional cave men. It points to a particular star system that is light years away from Earth.

An exploration commences three years later on the spaceship, Prometheus to that very star system. The Weyland Corporation funded the effort to find out of the origins of humanity. The archaeologists as well the cyborg, David (Fassbender), Fifield (Harris), Millburn (Spall) and Ford (Dickie) explore a cavernous ruin that might hold the key to origin of humanity. These explorers might be in over their heads.

Let me just say that I have only seen Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection in its entirety. The other movies have only bits and pieces were seen. Ridley Scott told us that this is not in the vein of the other movies. I cannot explicitly say whether it is or not. I enjoyed this movie very much. If I came into the movie knowing the Alien canon, I might pick the film apart. I might have to revisit the quadrilogy. My opinion might change.

The concept of film has been done in many movies before about exploring alien worlds without knowing the consequences of interrupting the environment. The scope of the film was fascinating the watch. Marc Streitenfeld's score carried weight.

The story went into some unexpected places that made me questions the intentions of everyone on board the ship. I throughly enjoyed Michael Fassbender's performance as David. He plays a being that shows no emotions, but he gives lots of human emotions subtly.

My Rating

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Directed by Drew Goddard

Written by Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard

Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker and Sigourney Weaver

This movie came out earlier this year and I never knew it. People were saying that it was a good movie. I have said earlier this year in Avengers review that Joss Whedon was God. Well, I might need to change religions.

Just like any other horror movie you have to have the classic troupes; you have the slut Jules (Hutchison), the meathead Curt (Hemsworth), the brain Holden (Williams), the pothead Marty (Kranz) and the virgin Dana (Connolly). They have to go to an isolated place, which happens to be a cabin that Curt's cousin bought. It happens to be in the middle of woods. What makes this movie different, big brother. That's right. The young people actions are being watched by Sitterson (Jenkins), Hadley (Whitford), Truman (White) and Lin (Acker) from their control room.

Even though, I said that the I don't see a lot of horror movie, but I have seen enough to know when a movie is trying to be different. Throughout the movie, I kept thinking is this movie trying to be like Hostel. No, maybe The Truman Show? Edtv? Battle Royale? That is what running through my mind when I see this flick. I'm trying to get into it, but I feel like it was going to be have an unsatisfying ending. To me, I think it has.

There is also a mystery aspect to the film that I knew what it was when the first kill happened. Something is really bothering me with the motivations of the kids going to cabin. Those people who have seen the movie wouldn't Curt question his cousin about how they come to acquire the cabin.

I feel very mixed with this movie. There were some smart things the character did to not be the typical horror movie clichés, but it becomes stilted with the ludicrous premise. I expected some much out of this film.

My Rating

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov

Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith

Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith

Stars: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, Marton Csokas, Jimmi Simpson and Mary Elizabeth Winstead

This is one of the rare times that I would read the book before seeing the obvious butchered, er -- altered adaptation of said book. I reviewed the book on the other site. The book was enjoyable because it took a boring biography and jazzed it up. Hearing the awful word about this movie, I stayed away. Seeing the movie now, my prediction did not make this movie better.

Everyone knows about the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln (Walker) or do you? Well, obviously not or there wouldn't be a movie about it, except for that Steven Spielberg movie.All of his life, Abe has been the victim of vampires. They took his mother and he wants to avenge her death. He meets strange fellow named Henry Sturges (Cooper) that takes him as his protégé to slay vampires. There is one vampire that is taking advantage of the turmoil of the country and wants to keep it that way, Adam (Sewell).

 Going into this flick, I knew that the storyline was going to be changed from page to screen. I get it. The same person adapted his own book to the big screen. It seems the director wanted to make the movie bigger than it should have been. Knowing the book gives you more ways to trash the adaptation of it. Characters were jettisoned and plot points were scraped. Fine. Where the idea come up of Lincoln having a black friend named Will Johnson (Mackie)? Really? Putting a generic "villain" in the movie is all right, but the movie should have focused on the slavery issue than a 5000-year-old vampire named Adam.

The biggest problem with the movie that Grahame-Smith tried to make an action flick out of a silly fantasy historical drama. The movie was a hodgepodge of biopic, romantic comedy, brainless action flick and Twilight. Making the vampires scary was a good choices, but they were utilized correctly. You had the vampires out in the daytime and they are supposed to wear sunglasses to protect their eyes to the sun. But, the vampires take their glasses off where sunlight floods in through window or through it doesn't kill them. What?

It seemed the "action" sequences were laughably bad. Why would you have a chase sequence happening during an obvious CGI horse sequence. It looked muddled and ridiculous. This film's failure at the box office should give us any indication that the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie will not see the light of day. Let it stay dead and buried. Pun intended.

My Rating

Fright Night

Fright Night (2011)

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Story by Tom Holland

Screenplay by Marti Noxon

Based on the film, "Fright Night" by Tom Holland

Stars: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco and Reid Ewing

Pretty much everybody knows that horror films are not my forte. When Halloween rolls around, I want to see something different the million slasher films, torture porn or ghost films with freaky children in it. The original Fright Night was one of a handful of films that I saw when I was a kid, including Once Bitten and Creepshow 2. The remake would not on my radar or anybody else's when it was released. The movie is not great, but it's watchable.

Picture it, Las Vegas 2011. Charley (Yelchin) is gangly boy that has the perfect life with douchebag friends,  Mark and Ben (Franco, Ewing) and his hot girlfriend, Amy (Poots). Strange things has been happening with classmates disappearing. Charley's estranged friend, Ed (Mintz-Plasse) tries to tell him that Charley's new next door neighbor, Jerry (Farrell). Ed disappears and Charley takes the torch to see if Ed was correct.

The movie tries to be very now, but it a couple of years the pop culture references would be out of date. I understand that people want to have these youth centric films with characters that supposedly would speak very hipster and with it. It doesn't work here.It seemed like the movie was supposed to be in 3D because the CG blood is flying weirdly at the screen.

Even though I remember bits and pieces of the original movie, it was nice to see Chris Sarandon make a cameo in the movie. I know they have to make dramatic changes with the original story to make it work today. It's understandable, but silly. Would Charley really seek out a David Blaine wannabe named Peter Vincent (Tennant) for vampire advice?

I had some problems with the movie from a logical and physical standpoint. Why would Jerry would exert all this energy on Charley that lives next door? I did not get the layout concept of Jerry's house. I cannot talk too much to spoil that plot point for those that have not seen it.

I enjoyed Anton Yelchin in the film. He is not the likeliest of heroes, but looked like a badass. David Tennant was hilarious in the movie. Colin Farrell was a big problem for me. I did not believe that he was this bloodthirsty 400-year-old vampire. He would be a lot smarter with his tactics towards Charley. His intentions and actions seemed dumb.

My Rating

Saturday, October 27, 2012


50/50 (2011)

Directed by Jonathan Levine

Written by Will Reiser

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Matt Frewer, Philip Baker Hall, Andrew Airlie, Serge Houde and Anjelica Huston

I was very bored and I wanted to see a movie that is not the typical Hollywood fare. Scrolling through the On Demand choices, I settled on 50/50. I have heard of the movie when it was called "I'm with Cancer", It was based on Seth Rogen's friend, the screenwriter Will Reiser's story about how he had cancer and recovered from it. The movie is a heartfelt look at how cancer can affect everyone around you.

Complaining of chronic back pains, Adam (Gordon-Levitt) has a routine physical to see what is going on with him. His doctor, Dr.Ross (Airlie) tells him blunt that he has a rare form of spinal cancer. Adam is in a daze, as he should be. The difficult part is that he has to tell all of the people in his life. His best friend, Kyle (Rogen) tries to get Adam's spirits up as he gone through the cancer treatments.

Let me get this out of the way. In the first couple of scenes, I thought it was going to be a grown up Superbad or something. Seth Rogen's character got under my skin. It feels in every movie, Rogen has to play the foul mouthed, pot smoking jerkoff. It's getting tired. In what universe where these two friends, except that work at an NPR knockoff radio station. Kyle was basically using Adam's condition to get chicks. I found that appalling. Bryce Dallas Howard's character (Adam's girlfriend, Rachael) was transparent. I knew what her true intentions were before Adam got his diagnosis. Anna Kendrick plays a doctor-in-training that is assigned to counsel Adam in his time of crisis. I wish that there wasn't something between them.

I enjoyed the subplot of Adam's mother Diane (Huston) caring for her husband Richard (Houde) that has Alzheimer's. Also, there was bonding Adam was following cancer patients, Alan (Hall) and Mitch (Frewer) when getting chemo that I loved. I thought that JoGo was very good in the lead performance here. I cannot imagine seeing James McAvoy in this movie at all.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but the Kyle character brought the film down. There was also some scenes that would seem out of character for a person going through chemo would actually do.

My Rating

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Grey

The Grey (2012)

Directed by Joe Carnahan

Screenplay by Joe Carnahan & Ian Mackenzie Jeffers

Based on the short story, "Ghost Walkers" by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers

Stars: Liam Neeson, Dallas Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale and Ben Bray

I have never heard of this movie until I heard the praise of it on the Film Junk podcast. Another podcast mentioned a scene in The Bourne Legacy took something out of this movie. The comparison is stretching it a little bit. Seeing the movie, I was underwhelmed by it.

A group of oil men are out in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. They depart in a plane that crash lands and only seven survivors came out of the charred wreckage. Ottway (Neeson) is a sharpshooter that keeps the wolves from attacking anyone on the oil rig. He leads the other survivors out of the crash site to find semblance of civilization. It comes to the survivors attention that they were in the middle of wolf territory. They need find some to get out of the area before being wolf food.

I understand that a movie would have themes of life and death, spirituality and all that junk. It was repeated endlessly in this movie. The wolves represent the cruel savagery of life and those flashbacks the men make represents the sweet release of death. We get it. I know what was going to happen thirty minutes into the movie.

There was no surprise here. It was duh moment at the end. I liked Neeson here as the distant Ottway. Dallas Roberts played Hendrick. I thought that he was good. The one person that got on my damn nerves was Diaz, played by Frank Grillo. I am faulting his performance. The character of Diaz is annoying. I was praying for him to get his comeuppance sooner rather than later.

The movie overall was fine. Nothing to write home about.

My Rating

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jodaeiye Nader az Simin

A Separation (2011)

Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi

Currently #100 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars:  Peyman Moaadi, Leila Hatami, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh, Kimia Hosseini and Merila Zarei

I heard nothing but great things about this movie. Sometimes when a movie gets overly hyped, I tend to have hesitation about the movie when I watch it. It was on top ten lists across the board. The movie won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at last year's Oscars. I enjoyed the movie, but I don't think it's a masterpiece.

Nader and Simin (Moaddi, Hatami) are the separating couple. Simin wants to move to another country to more opportunities for their daughter, Termeh (Farhadi), but Nader doesn't want that. Simin leaves the house to stay with her mother for the time being. Nader has to take care of his ailing father (Shahbazi) that has Alzheimer's. Nader needs a caregiver to help out with his father while he goes to work. He enlists the help of Razieh (Bayat) who is pregnant with her second child had to take her daughter, Somayeh (Hosseini) with her. The arrangement falls through as the tensions rise in the household that comes to a head.

Maybe this is my Westernized mind at work, but I was very confused at some moments of the film. I am not familiar with the culture of Iran or anything Muslim. I couldn't understand why the Razieh couldn't clean the father. I didn't understand the reason why Nader and Simin were separating. It seems frivolous to me. Those were my main complaints about the movie.

When the movie got going, I thought it was very poignant look at how a family dissolves when unforeseen circumstances come into their lives. I can't really say anything else about the movie. I don't want to spoil it for those that have not seen it yet.

My Rating

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Seven Psychopaths

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh

Stars: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, Tom Waits, Zeljko Ivanek, Kevin Corrigan, Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko

I cannot say enough that I loved Martin McDonagh's feature film debut, In Bruges. It was on my top ten list of 2008. It was eagerly anticipating his follow up. The trailer gave an impression that the movie was going to be a slapstick gangster comedy. It's not like that at all. I don't know if I like it or not.

Life imitating art of sorts. Colin Farrell plays a struggling screenwriter named Marty who having writer's block. What screenwriter doesn't? The only thing that he has is the title, 'Seven Psychopaths'. He tries to pull anything to make the creative juices flowing.

His best friend, Billy (Rockwell) relays tales that he has heard over the years about possible inspirations for characters in his screenplay. You should know that Billy is a "professional" dognapper/actor that is employed by the zen boss, Hans (Walen) to collect the reward for their victims. Things get complicated when Billy takes the cherished shih tzu of crime boss, Charlie Costello (Harrelson). Marty and company have to deal with a notorious coming after them and Billy trying to cast other psychopaths in a nonexistent movie.

My expectations were that it was going to be an over the top gangster comedy. Sneaky, sneaky trailer. The movie hearkens to themes of In Bruges about life and death, questioning of religion, the existence of God or heaven and hell. I think that message was better conveyed in this movie than In Bruges.

I would say that the movie is self aware that it is one of those typical gangster movies with over the top violence and the nonexistent presence of the women. Very meta.

The beginning of the movie did not start off on a good feet, because you have people in the movie that were killed off in two seconds flat that had me scratching my head. It chaotic the beginning, but when Tom Waits came in as Zachariah Rigby I was strapped in. The male cast was great in their roles. Colin Farrell was better in In Bruges in my opinion. Walken was deep and hilarious. Harrelson was great as usual. Rockwell is playing a dicey character that could be polarizing for some people.

My Rating

Friday, October 12, 2012


Argo (2012)

Directed by Ben Affleck

Screenplay by Chris Terrio

Based on the article, "Escape from Tehran" by Joshuah Bearman

Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Victor Garber, Scoot McNairy, Kerry Bishé, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Christopher Denham, Rory Cochrane, Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina, Zeljko Ivanek and Richard Kind

Seeing a trailer for this movie, I was not looking forward to it. I was lukewarm with The Town and Gone Baby Gone was unwatchable. After I was disappointed with numerous movies that were supposed to be great, I was hearing a lot of buzz with the film. Having an 86 Metacritic drives me to the theater and I'm glad I did.

Taking place during Iranian Revolution in 1979, the U.S. Embassy was taken over by angry protesters. Just as the protesters burst in six people: Bob Anders, Lee Schatz, Mark and Cora Lijek, Joe and Kathy Stafford (Donovan, Cochrane, Denham, DuVall, McNairy, Bishé) escape the back way. The six seek refuge at the Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor's (Garber) house.

CIA Director Jack O'Donnell (Cranston) asks Tony Mendez (Affleck) to find a way to extract the six from public execution. Tony comes up with the bad idea of having the six be part of a fake Canadian movie production team scouting locations for a film called "Argo." Tony employs the talents of Oscar winning make-up artist John Chambers (Goodman) and washed up producer Lester Siegel (Arkin) to make the fake movie into a sorta reality.

Even though the movie is based on true events, I was on the edge of my seat. I was happy with the juxtaposition of the compelling heart stopping moments with the comedy relief of Goodman and Siegel. Affleck has grown as director. He made the creative direction of shooting the movie on film and making the movie grainy. It was a very nice touch on his part.

People would probably nitpick certain aspects of the movie that was changed. They need to know that the movie has to take dramatic licenses to make it cinematic.

My Rating

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Master

The Master (2012)

Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Laura Dern, Ambyr Childers, Jesse Plemons, Rami Malek, Kevin J. O'Connor and Madisen Beaty

I have a sketchy track record with PT Anderson movies. I generally liked his movies. There are some that I out right hate like Magnolia. The Master has divided audiences since it was released last month. It divided my audiences when I saw it. The movie needs to marinate after you see it to make your judgment.

Freddie Quell (Phoenix) is an alcoholic former Navy seaman that is struggling to adjust to civilian life after WWII. He bounces from job to job until he stowaway on a boat that belongs to Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman). The Dodd family is celebrating the marriage of the daughter, Elizabeth (Childers) and Clark (Malek). Freddie is being introduced to the world of The Master as Dodd calls himself. He is an author of the Cause that is a form of hypnosis that inducing past live regressions. The Master wants to spread his message and make Freddie his guinea pig.

I saw the film yesterday and at first I loved most of the movie, but felt dissatisfied with the ending. It was very abrupt. I was left hanging. Now, I feel that the acting was far superior that the movie as a whole. I thoroughly enjoyed PSH's performance as the charismatic Dodd who tries to tame the unpredictable, hotheaded Freddie who acts like a bratty ten year old.

After Phoenix's "hiatus" from acting, I was concerned about what he will do here. I was mixed with him. He was brilliant in certain moments, but sometimes he would be going off the rails and lose me. I was looking at him and his choices. I asked myself, is he a hunchback? Does he have Bell's palsy? I could barely understand what he was saying a good portion of the time.

This movie is described as the Scientology movie. I don't believe that it is. I deals with the genesis of a religion. People thought that Christianity was a cult. The same can be said of Mormonism, Kabblah, etc. As I said in my Religulous review, I am not a big fan of organized religion. The Master's way of entering your mind can be on the lines of brainwashing. The people are free to believe what they will.

There were only five people in the theater I was in. A pair of older ladies left after Dodd's wife, Peggy (Adams) jerked Dodd off in the bathroom. The bangled lady left when Dodd was spreading his message about the evolution of The Cause. The Asian guy left two minutes before the movie ended. I could tell that this movie is not everyones cup of tea. I found myself bored with the movie. I expected a little more with it. I was slightly disappointed with the film overall.

My Rating

Friday, October 5, 2012


Looper (2012)

Written and directed by Rian Johnson

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Pierce Gagnon, Jeff Daniels, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo and Garret Dillahunt

Today is a bittersweet day for me, this is the end of the blog-a-thon and it is my 32nd birthday. It's weird. The blog-a-thon overall has been a good experience. I crossed off a couple of movies that I should have seen. I wanted to end this blog-a-thon by watching the latest film from Rian Johnson, Looper. The movie asks some interesting questions, but it feels like a cheap shot.

In 2034, the whole is different place even thought it looks same as 2012. Time travel has been banned so underground crime families used the technology from 2074 to send victims back to the past to be wiped out of existence by Loopers. Joe (Gordon-Levitt) is one of the best Loopers out there until his best friend, Seth (Dano) tells him that the latest victim was supposed to be him from the future. He tells Joe that a person called The Rainmaker are killing all of the Loopers from the future. It was not until Joe comes face to face with himself from future (Willis) that they need to stop The Rainmaker in the present.

I was eagerly anticipating this movie, because the trailers looked so cool. I was following this movie when Rian Johnson did an episode of the /Filmcast about preparing to write this movie. He sought inspirations from another time traveling movie, Primer. I got that vibe from this movie. I enjoyed the movie overall, but I thought the themes were thrown by the wayside at the end of the film.

I understand that Johnson wanted to have a movie that ask the question to the viewer, "If you could go back a change something from the past to affect the future, would you?" I get that. People ask themselves that question since time began. It feels that Johnson made the message overly complicated when it didn't need to be.

There are some questions that I have with the movie that I hope the ten of you reading this will help with. Why were the Loopers paid in silver bricks? What was up with those eye drops? I didn't understand the telekinesis angle. Somebody help me here.

My Rating

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Directed by Tomas Alfredson

Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan

Based on the novel by John le Carré

Stars: Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Colin Firth, David Dencik, Ciarán Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon McBurney, Tom Hardy, Konstantin Khabenskiy and Mark Strong

I was eagerly anticipating seeing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy because of the director,  Tomas Alfredson. He made the fantastic Let the Right One In  and I wanted to see his first English language film. Another incentive to see Gary Oldman finally get some notice for his acting when he received a Best Actor nomination. The film also received nominations for Best Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay. I thought I would rave about the film, but I do not.

During the time of the Cold War, MI-6 is rocked when one of their agents, Jim Prideaux (Strong) is killed on a mission in Budapest. Control (Hurt) gets the top brass of the agency together to see who is the mole selling secrets to the Russians. Control assigns the task to sniff out the traitor to George Smiley (Oldman), who is retired.

The story seems simple enough that it doesn't need the over the top plot twist that could be seen a mile away. It didn't know that the movie was a whodunit. It made the reveal anti-climatic. I did not see the original Tinker Tailor Solider Spy miniseries. You don't need to see the British series or read the book to see who the mold was. I knew the mole halfway through the movie.

I wanted to love this film, but I felt completely bored. I was confused with the flashbacks to a Christmas party, a subplot of a missing woman that went nowhere, etc. Hearing a bunch of British accents can be difficult for Americans to decipher. I expected more out of the film when it got a 85 Metacritic score. A lot more.

My Rating

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Waiting for 'Superman'

Waiting for 'Superman' (2010)

Directed by Davis Guggenheim

Written by Davis Guggenheim & Billy Kimball

Stars: Geoffrey Canada, Bill Strickland, Johnathan Alter, Michelle Rhee and Randi Weingarten

Now that the blog-a-thon is almost coming to a close, I wanted to see something different than the dramas and comedies I have seen. I wanted to a documentary. From the team that bring the world  and thinking Al Gore made that movie himself, An Inconvenient Truth. Guggenheim brings us the hot button topic of education or lack thereof in this country.

This talking head documentary the lives of five young people ranging from first to eighth grade as their families to find the best schools for them. Anthony is Washington, DC youth that has been held back because he doesn't like school. Daisy is girl from LA that dreams to be a veterinarian when she grows up. Francisco wants to be a reporter. He has trouble with his teacher who thinks he should be left back. Bianca is going to private school where her mom has been behind on the payments.

The main focus of the film is that the school system is broken. Politicians and school reformers have been trying to solve the problem with failing of our school children since the 1970s. The documentarian shows that it doesn't matter that much about where you live makes you fail, it's the teachers as a whole. They are building the foundation for the next generation and the bad apples are poisoning everyone else.

Geoffrey Canada is a person that is known for having a plan to dramatically change the way school is thought. A DC superintendent Michelle Rhee wants to change the way teachers are being complacent with the teacher's union president, Randi Weingarten. What can be done? It seems that it would not get solved anytime soon.

The film got attention that it wasn't nominated for Best Documentary Feature Oscar. It did get the next best thing. It got an Omie Award. A nice consolation prize. I am reminded about my times in school where I had to take remedial classes, because I was not great with math. I'm still not good with it. Did I have great education? No. I think I got an average one. Educators don't want you to exceed. You are just another body.

The impression I had the film was that I thought it was a thought provoking film, but what is the viewer supposed to do. If the government can't do anything or reformers or parents or students, then what? The movie is Food, Inc. We know that there is a pink elephant in the room, but nobody is addressing it.

My Rating

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Directed by Guy Ritchie

Story by Lionel Wigram and Michael Robert Johnson

Screenplay by Michael Robert Johnson and Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg

Based on the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Robert Maillet, Kelly Reilly, William Houston, Hans Matheson, James Fox and William Hope

It was a struggle trying to find a movie to be covered today. I have seen almost every single movie that was released that year. I thought I would see a movie that I didn't completely see. Sherlock Holmes was the choice. I know that RDJ was a Golden Globe for this "comedy". It was nominated for two Academy Awards. I like the movie, but I think Sherlock Holmes condescends to the viewer.

Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr) is quite different than that what we have seen before. He is more a brawler with a brain than anything else. Him and his long-suffering assistant, Dr. Watson (Law) solved a case by arresting Lord Blackwood (Strong). Blackwood is subsequently hanged. Holmes is depressed that is was the last case as Watson is moving on with his fiancé Mary (Reilly). It is not until rumors of Lord Blackwood rising from the dead would trigger of Holmes and Watson's greatest cases to date.

Guy Ritchie is known for action oriented movies. It comes to know surprise that he would make Sherlock Holmes a 19th century badass. I guess, the image of the stereotypical Holmes with that hat, the large pipe, injecting himself with morphine and taking a bump of cocaine is ingrained in my mind. I'm not saying that I hated RDJ's portrayal, but I have a bias. I will say that this Sherlock Holmes' powers of deduction makes him more of a condescending jerk than being a brilliant detective. It's like the movie punishes you for not paying attention to every minute detail that happened in the movie.

That being said. I enjoyed the acting in the film Mark Strong was very good as the adversary. Does he not make a great bad guy? I liked Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, the woman that outsmarted Holmes a couple of times in the past. Everybody else was fine.

My Rating

Monday, October 1, 2012

Che: Guerrilla

Che: Part Two (2008)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Screenplay by Peter Buchman and Benjamin A. van der Veen

Based on "Bolivian Diary" by Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Demián Bichir, Franka Potente, Rodrigo Santoro, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Julia Ormond, Lou Diamond Phillips, Joaquim de Almeida and Matt Damon

I always have this dilemma when a movie is split in half if I would like one part or the another. The same thing happened with Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. I loved the first movie and hated the second. I believe history is repeating itself with Che.

The whole plot of this movie is about Che Guevara (Del Toro) resigning from his position with Fidel Castro (Bichir). He is disguising himself as Uruguayan representative of the Organization of American States named Ramon traveling to Bolivia. It tells the story of the days in Bolivian mountainside where Che tried and failed attempt to overthrow the government.

As I stated before, I liked the first film better than this one. I tried my damnedest to hold on to see it through the end, but I couldn't. I was not invested in the movie. It was a bunch of talking that I don't really care about. It's history.

I think its ballsy for Steven Soderburgh to tackle such a controversial figure and have the movie primarily in Spanish. It felt like I don't know more about Che the person that I did before I watched the movie. The part was a fail.

My Rating

Che: The Argentine

Che: Part One (2008)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Screenplay by Peter Buchman

Based on the memoir, "Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War" by Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Demián Bichir, Rodrigo Santoro, Julia Ormond, Oscar Isaac, Ramon Fernandez, Yul Vazquez, Jsu Garcia, Victor Rasuk and Édgar Ramírez

I had a tough time deciding whether I was going to review Steven Soderbergh's epic biopic, Che with one or two reviews. When I got through watching Part One, I thought it would be better to make it two. Even thought I don't know that much about Che Guevara, this movie is not The Motorcycles Diaries.

This half of the movie deals with the time that Ernesto (Del Toro) joins the rebel army with Fidel Castro (Bichir) to overthrow the current regime. Fidel and Ernesto embarks on a journeys the forests of the Cuban countryside to kill the opposition. Being a doctor, Ernesto has not gotten in on any of the action like Fidel and his comrades have. It chronicles the precise moment that Ernesto became Che.

Che Guevara is a polarizing figure for people. Some think that he is a revolutionary, others think that he is a murderer. I cannot make a determination on either side of the issue. I am here to talk about the movie. The movie is a mixed bag. I know that the movie is about Che. It felt like the movie focused more on Fidel. Che barely said anything in the movie. This is only the first two hours of the whole. I felt that the middle of this movie was really taxing on me. I became restless and wanted to turn the movie off, but the end picked up and held my attention again.

My Rating

Sunday, September 30, 2012

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson

Based on the novel, "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair

Currently #176 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dillon Freasier, Ciarán Hinds, Sydney McCallister, David Willis, Kevin J. O'Connor, David Warshofsky, Hans Howes and Russell Harvard

One of the greatest omissions of all time is that I have never seen P.T. Anderson's epic, There Will Be Blood. Okay, backpedaling. I saw maybe the first ten minutes of the movie and stopped, because the silence. After seeing and loving 127 Hours, it had long silences. I thought it was high time that I see this movie again. It was nominated for eight Oscars and won two for Best Cinematography and Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. I enjoyed the movie, but it's not flawless.

During the height of the Gold Rush and Oil Boom in the turn of 20th century, Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis) hit the big time by striking oil. He turns into a oil mogul that is buying up land to build oil derricks to pump out the oil. One day, Daniel is approached by a boy, Paul Sunday (Dano) about a possible place where oil is found near the family ranch. Daniel goes to where the oil source might be and tries to buy the land from the father, Abel (Willis) with a stipend to donate a large sum of money to church where son, Eli (Dano) is a minister at.

Sometime when I movie comes around, I would think that it is clear Oscar bait. I have that perception about a lot of movies. This movie feels like that to me. You have Day-Lewis who gives a grandiose performance. Has he ever given a bad performance? If you name one, I will eat crow. I understood why Plainview did some of the things that he did. He did some monstrous things, because I understood the motivations behind them. It was not like that in Match Point where similar actions happened. Daniel did deserve his Oscar.

The movie feels very epic in scope, but I felt that the movie was too long. One strike against the movie would be the pacing. There are some superfluous scenes that needed to be cut out.

The another strike against the film is Paul Dano. I have to say that I didn't understand why P.T. Anderson decided to make Dano play Paul and Eli where you see that Daniel was not surprised to see Eli looked like Paul. Paul was never mentioned again until the end of the movie. Dano was not in the same league as Lewis. It was a David vs Goliath situation and Goliath bitch slapped David. Dano was wooden in the movie. I didn't understand he let the person that was going to be Eli, Kel O'Neill go. I thought it was a big mistake.

My Rating

Saturday, September 29, 2012

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta (2006)

Directed by James McTeigue

Screenplay by Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski

Based on the comic book series by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

Currently #166 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Tim Pigott-Smith, Rupert Graves, Ben Miles, Eddie Marsan and Roger Allam

I have no idea why it took me so long to watch V for Vendetta. It was a LAMB Movie of the Month as far as I know. It had to me take this blog-a-thon to make me finally see it. After the credits rolled, it made me feel I should be a martyr.

Set in a future Britain, where the government had taken over the daily lives of the citizens. Being more of a dictatorship than anything else. Chancellor Adam Sutler (Hurt) does not want subversiveness under his rule. There is one person that seeks to bring him down. It is shadowy figure with Guy Fawkes mask on known as V (Weaving). V rescues a woman, Evey (Portman) from being taken in by the secret police known as the Fingermen. After the rescue, V lets Evey watch as he bombs a building called the Old Bailey which set off a chain of events to shape the future of the colony.

I knew going into the movie that the film will obvious allegories to the Third Reich, concentration camps, Communism, etc. That's all fine and good. I didn't know that there was another aspect to V's plan that came into light. It sucked me into the story more. I wanted to standing beside V as the dictatorship crumbles from within.

I completely forgot to it was around the time that the group, Anonymous came into being as they declared war on Scientology. This movie has ignited a movement of protests and activism that made governments falls. They say that we are free, but we are not free. I don't want to spout off my opinions about society, because it might get me in trouble. I will stop it right there.

My Rating

Friday, September 28, 2012

Match Point

Match Point (2005)

Written and directed by Woody Allen

Stars:  Jonathan Rhys Meyers,  Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton and Brian Cox

The number of Woody Allen films I have seen can be counted on one hand. I know! I know. I wanted to at least one of his most popular films on the list, Match Point. Being known for silly comedies and light dramas, this is a serious departure for him. The film was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award. I must say that I have to call fault with this film.

Chris Wilton (Rhys Meyers) is a former tennis pro that looking to something to fill his time. He decides to teach learns at the local country club. There he meets Tom Hewett (Goode) that is one of his students. The two men quickly bond over their shared love for opera. Out and about, Chris becomes involved with Tom's sister, Chloe (Mortimer). Just as their relationship becomes serious, Chris instantly falls for an American actress named Nola Rice (Johansson). The problem is that Nola is engaged to Tom and things become very... complicated.

People were making a big deal that this was Allen's first thriller. Seeing the trailers for the film at the time of its release, I thought it was going to be like Fatal Attraction. It's not that much. I was enjoying the film when the last thirty minutes of the film had me scratching my head. Really? I thought that it was ludicrous and defies logic. I can't go into details without spoiling the movie for you.

I enjoyed the cast. Something about Johnathon Rhys Meyers have a slightly fey vibe off that I can't shake. I can understand why Chris wanted to be with the Nola character. She is an alluring woman that gives off those signals to take me right here and now. At first, I thought the movie was going to a love rectangle as I call it, but it wasn't. I couldn't understand the motivations of the Chris where he had opportunities served on a silver platter and he didn't take it. I was hard to believe.

My Rating

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Der Untergang

Downfall (2004)

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel

Screenplay by Bernd Eichinger

Based on the books, "Der Untergang: Hitler und das Ende des Dritten Reiches" by Joachim Fest and "Bis zur letzten Stunde" by Traudl Junge and Melissa Müller

Currently #105 of the Top 250 Films of All Time on IMDb (as of this posting)

Stars: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Köhler, Heino Ferch, Christian Berkel and Thomas Kretschmann

This movie has been in the national consciousness ever since the numerous Downfall parodies popped up on YouTube over the past couple of years. I thought that the movie Black Book was this movie for some reason. The movie was nominated for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I fully expected to love this movie, but I felt like I was sucker punched.

The events of the movie take place during the last moments of World War II when the Russians are advancing into Berlin. Adolf Hitler (Ganz) is stuck with the decision to either leave Berlin for his safety or stay and die at the bitter end. The story was supposed to be the perspective of Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge (Lara). If you say so.

I wanted to enjoy this movie very much. The thing is that the secretary is barely in the movie. She pops up every now and then to talk to some random person and leaves for twenty minutes. There were too many unnecessary subplots that could have been taken out. There was the kid soldiers. The doctors trying to give medicine. Blah, blah, blah.

There are times with the movie that different characters would tell Hitler, Junge or Eva Braun (Köhler) to leave Berlin. It gets really annoying to see, hear and read it repeatedly. It gets on my nerves. Stay or die, you assholes. I'm done.

My Rating