Sunday, November 25, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard

NYPD Detective John McClane lives in Brooklyn, and he's now divorced from Holly Gennero, who lives in San Francisco. John has faced some brutal terrorists in his career, but now, he's about to face what may be his most dangerous enemy yet. John, who occasionally does jobs for the United States Department of Homeland Security, receives a call to bring in a hacker named Matt Farrell, because there has been a breach in an FBI computer system. Farrell is one of the many hackers who are suspected in the attack, and all known hackers are to be questioned. But after John gets to Matt's apartment, a group of men show up and try to kill John and Matt, who barely escape with their lives. As it turns out, a group of terrorists led by Thomas Gabriel are systematically shutting down the United States computer infrastructure. They crash the stock market, crippling America's economy. It turns out that Matt knows enough about hacking to know exactly how Gabriel is shutting down the USA. Gabriel, a disgraced former Department of Defense employee, plans to bring the country to its knees, but he doesn't count on John and Matt figuring out what's going on. Gabriel wants John and Matt out of the way, and for John, the situation becomes personal when an enraged Gabriel kidnaps John's daughter Lucy, who is a student at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Gabriel may think he now has the upper hand on John, but he has no idea how far John is willing to go to rescue Lucy.

Superman Returns

For five years, Superman (Brandon Routh) has been away from Earth, coaxed into space by a belief that Krypton may still exist. Finding nothing, he comes back to a changed world--not only has terrorism become rampant, but Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has married, started a family, and won the Pulitzer for her piece "Why the World Doesnt Need Superman." After a stop in Smallville to see his adopted mother (Eva Marie Saint), Superman is back in Metropolis, and Clark Kent has his old job back at the Daily Planet, with everyone still incredibly oblivious to his alter ego. But where theres Superman, there's Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey), and he is likely to be planning something dastardly--in this case, using a piece of pilfered kryptonite to grow an entirely new continent that he will control.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Bourne is once again brought out of hiding, this time inadvertently by London-based reporter Simon Ross who is trying to unveil Operation BlackBriar--an upgrade to Project Treadstone--in a series of newspaper columns. Bourne (Damon) sets up a meeting with Ross (Considine) and realizes instantly they're being scanned. Information from the reporter stirs a new set of memories, and Bourne must finally, ultimately, uncover his dark past whilst dodging The Company's best efforts in trying to eradicate him.
I actually saw this movie in my hotel room in Philadelphia (my sister was in the Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade where she tapdanced with about 700 other girls! It was really cool.). The acting by Matt Damon in this movie is phonominal. He plays Jason Bourne so well in this movie from the action perspective of the movie to the actual acting. The plot is excellent and this movie is an awesomre wrap-up to the trilogy. If you enjoyed the first two movies, then you will most definately enjoy this one.

American Gangster

Nobody used to notice Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), the quiet driver to one of the inner city's leading black crime bosses. But when his boss suddenly dies, Frank exploits the opening in the power structure to build his own empire and create his own version of the American Dream. Through ingenuity and a strict business ethic, he comes to rule the inner-city drug trade, flooding the streets with a purer product at a better price. Lucas outplays all of the leading crime syndicates and becomes not only one of the city's mainline corrupters, but part of its circle of legit civic superstars.

Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an outcast cop close enough to the streets to feel a shift of control in the drug underworld. Roberts believes someone is climbing the rungs above the known Mafia families and starts to suspect that a black power player has come from nowhere to dominate the scene. Both Lucas and Roberts share a rigorous ethical code that sets them apart from their own colleagues, making them lone figures on opposite sides of the law. The destinies of these two men will become intertwined as they approach a confrontation where only one of them can come out on top.

Ing's review:

This gangster movie does not have the usual extreme violence common in films such as Goodfellows and Scarface, instead it is more of a drama told through the development of characters. From what I have heard about the real-life Frank Lucas, an even more interesting story could have been told, but this film is definately worth watching. It is also a really neat look into the time period.

Bee Movie

Barry B. Benson, a bee who has just graduated from college, is disillusioned at his lone career choice: making honey. On a special trip outside the hive, Barry's life is saved by Vanessa, a florist in New York City. As their relationship blossoms, he discovers humans actually eat honey, and subsequently decides to sue us.

Lions for Lambs

Two determined students at a West Coast University, Arian and Ernest, follow the inspiration of their idealistic professor, Dr. Malley, and attempt to do something important with their lives. But when the two make the bold decision to join the battle in Afghanistan, Malley is both moved and distraught. Now, as Arian and Ernest fight for survival in the field, they become the string that binds together two disparate stories on opposite sides of America. In California, an anguished Dr. Malley attempts to reach a privileged but disaffected student, who is the very opposite of Arian and Ernest. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C. the charismatic Presidential hopeful, Senator Jasper Irving, is about to give a bombshell story to a probing TV journalist that may affect Arian and Ernest's fates. As arguments, memories and bullets fly, the three stories are woven ever more tightly together, revealing how each of these Americans has a profound impact on each other--and the world.

Ing's Review: My friend, a friend with excellent taste in movies I might add, recommended this film to me and so I was anxious to see it. This time my friend let me down! Of the three main characters, Cruise, Streep and Redford, only Streep makes an impression. Redford is easy on the easy and Cruise is, well, Cruise, but Streep really acts. Her part of the film would have made a good movie on its on, had it been fleshed out. That's the problem with the whole film, actually-- nothing is fleshed out. A bit of promise, but no delivery at all.


It's Christmas Eve, Angela Bridges, an ambitious young executive, works late before she leaves for her family's holiday party. When she gets down to the parking garage, she discovers that her car won't start. Her garage is deserted and her cell phone doesn't get a signal underground. When Thomas, a friendly security guard, comes along and offers to help, Angela nervously accepts his gesture of good will. Soon after a failed attempt to start her car, he invites her to stay and share a small Christmas dinner he's preparing in the parking office, but she laughs it off. Angela doesn't realize this is no laughing matter. Thomas has been watching her closely--for months. His dinner invitation is not optional. If Angela wants to live to see Christmas morning, she must find a way to escape from level P2 of the parking garage.

Ing's review:

P2 starts off great with a fresh premise on the stalker story. The film moves quickly, with plently of jumps and scares, but it ends like a straight to video slasher. A weak ending ruined the film for me.

Rescue Dawn

This film tells the real-life story of U.S. fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, a German-American shot down and captured in Laos during the Vietnam War. Dengler organized a death-defying escape for a small band of POWs, including Duane Martin.

WARNING: May contain spoilers!

A fictionalized account of personal bravery and comradeship in the early days of the Viet Nam war. The story follows the experiences of Lt. Dieter Dengler whose plane was shot down over Laos and taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. In a story that should not be classified as either pro or anti war, it explores the tragedies of war for all involved.

August Rush

The story of a charismatic young Irish guitarist and a sheltered young cellist who have a chance encounter one magical night above New York's Washington Square, but are soon torn apart, leaving in their wake an infant, August Rush, orphaned by circumstance. Now performing on the streets of New York and cared for by a mysterious stranger, August uses his remarkable musical talent to seek the parents from whom he was separated at birth.
WARNING: May contain spoilers.
Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) is a brilliant cellist who has just finish performing a concert in New York City. Lyla goes out on the town with her girlfriend and end up at a party near New Yorks Washington Square. She meets Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) an Irish guitar player. They share the love of music and end up falling in love and bonding together that night. It was the most wonderful night in Lylas life. Lyla must rush back to the hotel where her father Thomas (William Sadler) is waiting for her. Lyla promised to meet Louis in Washington Square, but her father forces her to go to her next concert. They are like two ships that pass in the night, never to see each other again, except for the fact that Lyla is now with child. Sadly, Lyla is in a car accident and the unborn child is lost. Eleven years pass and Lylas father is on his death bed, and he must tell her the truth that he secretly gave Lylas baby boy up for adoption. August Rush (Freddie Highmore) is her child, who was born with the gift to hear music all around him. He believes that he will find his parents if they only hear his music, because they are truly bonded by their music.

The Mist

After a violent storm attacks a town in Maine, an approaching cloud of mist appears the next morning. As the mist quickly envelops the area, a group of people get trapped in a local grocery store -among them, artist David Drayton and his five-year-old son. The people soon discover that within the mist lives numerous species of horrific, unworldly creatures that entered through an inter-dimensional rift, which may or may not have been caused by a nearby military base. As the world around them manifests into a nightmare, the horrified citizens try desperately to survive this apocalyptic disaster.

Ing's review:

Terrific! Terrifying! By now you have probably heard about the shocker ending-- or at least that the ending is a shocker. Ending aside, this is one film that you will not forget. It is more about the monsters inside the grocery store than the monsters from the mist. A neat character study and plenty of gross-0ut as well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fred Claus

Fred Claus has lived his entire life in his brother's very large shadow. Fred tried, but could hardly live up to the example set by the younger Nicholas, who was just a perfect, well, saint. True to form, Nicholas (a.k.a Santa Claus) grew up to be the model of giving, while Fred became the polar opposite: a fast-talking repo man who's run out of luck and money. Eventually Fred's bad behavior catches up with him and he is sent to jail. His only recourse is to turn to his brother. Over Mrs. Claus' objections, Nicholas agrees to help his brother on one condition: that he come to the North Pole and earn the money he needs by working in Santa's Toy Shop. The trouble is that Fred isn't exactly elf material and cut out for creating toys and spreading good cheer. With Christmas fast approaching, Fred could jeopardize the jolliest holiday of the year and ruin Christmas.

Ing's review:

I'm not a big fan of Christmas movies, but this one made me laugh! Very funny, very orginial and I don't care what the other critics say, this one is worth seeing this season.


A long time ago, far away on the planet of Cybertron, a war was being waged between the noble Autobots (led by the wise Optimus Prime) and the devious Decepticons (commanded by the dreaded Megatron) for control over the Allspark, a mystical talisman that would grant unlimited power to whoever possessed it. The Autobots managed to smuggle the Allspark off the planet, but Megatron blasted off in search of it. He eventually tracked it to the planet of Earth (circa 1850), but his reckless desire for power sent him right into the Arctic Ocean, and the sheer cold forced him into a paralyzed state. His body was later found by Captain Archibald Witwicky, and before going into a comatose state Megatron used the last of his energy to engrave a map, showing the location of the Allspark, into the Captain's glasses, and send a transmission to Cybertron. He is then carted away by the Captain's ship. A century later, Sam Witwicky, nicknamed Spike by his friends, buys his first car. To his shock, he discovers it to be Bumblebee, an Autobot in disguise who is to protect Spike, as he bears the Captain's glasses and the map carved on them. But Bumblebee is not the only Transformer to have arrived on Earth - in the desert of Qatar, the Decepticons Blackout and Scorponok attack a U.S. military base, causing the Pentagon to send their special Sector Seven agents to capture all "specimens of this alien race," and Spike and his girlfriend Mikaela find themselves in the middle of a grand battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons, stretching from Hoover Dam all the way to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, within the depths of Hoover Dam, the cryogenically stored form of Megatron awakens...

In my opinion, this movie has the best special effects I have ever seen. Also, the actors in this movie were phenominal. All in all, I definatelly encourage you to rent this movie.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


It is the year 1250 B.C. during the late Bronze age. Two emerging nations begin to clash after Paris, the Trojan prince, convinces Helen, Queen of Sparta, to leave her husband Menelaus, and sail with him back to Troy. After Menelaus finds out that his wife was taken by the Trojans, he asks his brother Agamemnom to help him get her back. Agamemnon sees this as an opportunity for power. So they set off with 1,000 ships holding 50,000 Greeks to Troy. With the help of Achilles, the Greeks are able to fight the never before defeated Trojans. But they come to a stop by Hector, Prince of Troy. The whole movie shows their battle struggles, and the foreshadowing of fate in this remake by Wolfgang Petersen of Homer's "The Iliad."

Brad Pitt plays Achilles, the legendary Greek warrior. King Agamemnon's army reveres Achilles as their greatest fighter, faster, stronger, and deadlier with a sword then all others. As the Greek's army champion, Achilles has won many battles by defeating the other country's champion. The Trojan War begins when Prince Paris of Troy (Orlando Bloom) takes his lover, the beautiful Queen Helen (Diane Kruger), the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta (Brendan Gleeson), back to Troy. All the Greek armies unite under King Agamemnon (Brian Cox), a total of 50,000 soldiers sail to Troy in a thousand ships. The walls of Troy are invincible to an invading army, so Troy has never been defeated in battle. The battle begins with Achilles and his men reaching the Troy beach first and taking the beach almost by themselves. Achilles captures Prince Hector (Eric Bana) in the temple, but he lets him go free for another day. King Agamemnon does not honor Achilles for his victory, and Achilles' pride is hurt. Achilles and his men stayed out of the next battle, and the Greeks are beaten badly. Achilles is about to return home when Hector kills his cousin in battle, thinking it was Achilles. Achilles challenges Hector, and they fight to the death. Achilles wins and drags Hector's body away. Hector is returned for a proper funeral, which includes a 12-day truce. During this time, the Greeks build the Trojan Horse and leave. The wooden horse is taken into the city, and the men inside open the gates of Troy.

I personally felt that this movie is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It very well directed and well casted. This movie also has beautiful scenery. And on top of that, the fight scenes in this movie were very well choreographed. For example, in the opening scene Achilles fights the champion of another army invading Greece. In that battle, Achilles kills the man with a single stroke of his sword. All in all, this movie definnately gives you a bang for you buck.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Knocked Up

Finally made it back to the drive-in this week and saw Knocked Up starring Seth Rogan and Katherine Heigl. I hadn't met anyone who has actually seen this movie, but when I mentioned what I was going to see that night, folks told me, "That's supposed to be really funny!" and "I heard that's great!"...well, it WAS funny and while it wasn't great, it was really, really good. It would have been better if the women in the film weren't so darn awful-- not their acting, but their personalities. It was hard to like any of the females in this film. Cranky, moody, selfish, arrogant-- ugh!
Most are probably familiar with the plot line- good-looking, smart career girl has one night stand with overweight slacker dude and become pregnant. There are some very funny lines in the film, mostly credited to Rogan and his fellow slackers. Definately worth seeing for a few laughs, if you can tolerate the miserable women characters! I would love to hear from any of you who saw this film-- did you feel as I did?

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Happy Feet

Since I just reviewed Cars, I might as well review the movie that beat it for the Best Animated Oscar this year. Take a dancing penguin, Elijah Wood, and as many social/political issues that you can cram into a 2 hour movie, and you have Happy Feet. Those filmmakers were smart. They could've gotten plenty of other actors to voice Mumble, but they got Elijah Wood, which drew in the Elijah Wood fangirls. (I got dragged--erm, went along with a friend who went for that reason.) The dancing penguin factor brings the kids in, and the social/political issues keep the parents from falling asleep, and then it makes them want to buy it so their kids can watch it over and over and learn about enviornmental issues.
In the world of Happy Feet, all penguins sing with beautiful, professional quality voices and have a "heart song". When they find another penguin whose song fits with theirs, it means they're supposed to get married. Mumble (Elijah Wood) can't sing and doesn't have a song. Instead, he tap dances. So all the penguins pick on him. Except of course, for the most beautiful girl penguin, Gloria (Brittany Murphy). She likes him. (*cough*Pebble and the Penguin*cough*) Meanwhile, all the fish are dissapearing, so the old penguins decide to blame in on Mumble, who, by their logic, must be causing all the probelms since he's DIFFERENT! Also, Mumble's dad, voiced by Hugh Jackman, hates him.
One day, Mumble winds up meeting a bunch of adelie penguins, most of which are voiced by Robin Williams. He dances, and they like it, so he ditches his family and becomes friends with them. (can you tell that I don't like this movie?) More dancing, more singing, more Mumble trying to get the girl. Mumble finally DOES get the girl by dancing to her heart song, but then he tells her to leave because he's going off on a dangersous quest to find the fish. Another hour of enviornmental issues, Mumble comes back, we get to see thousands of tap-dancing penguins, and then everyone lives happily ever after.
The only reason this beat Cars is because the plot was different. The only reason the plot was different was because they couldn't pick just one issue to address. The only thing I really liked about the movie was the animation. I honestly don't know if they filmed real people or animated them. The landscapes of antartica made me think I it was a live-action movie at times. The penguins were animated very realistsically, except that they were tap-dancing and singing. It's one of the greatest animation jobs I've seen in an American movie. The only, and I mean ONLY animated thing I didn't like was Mumble. When emperor penguins are born, they have lots of fuzzy white feathers. When they're around a year old (I think...) they have completely lost their feathers. The ENTIRE movie, Mumble had his fledgling feathers. He spent weeks, if not months trying to get the fish back and talk to the people, and he still had feathers! I know that the filmmakers did this so we could tell Mumble apart, but if they made no attempt to give the other penguins special features, why only do it for Mumble? Maybe they thought it would be too stereotypical. They could be right, but to me, it just looked stupid.
Rating: 2 and half stars because that was some of the best animation I've seen since FF7: Advent Children.


The only reasons I wanted to see Cars were: 1, John Lasseter, the director, is friends with Hayao Miyazaki-sensei and 2, Pixar usually has the best animated movies in the US. The only Pixar movies that weren't nominated for Academy Awards were the ones that were made before the Best Animated Film award was created, and until now, only one lost, and that was to Shrek. So I fully expected Cars to take the Oscar home this year. To my surprise, Happy Feet, not Cars, got the prize. I now know why.
The only thing original about Cars is... well, the cars. It had the standard plot of a hotshot young rookie, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) who thinks only about himself and has no friends. One night, on the way to the tiebraker for the coveted Piston Cup, Lightning falls off of his truck, gets chased by a cop, and destroys the road in a little town in the middle of nowhere. The citizens of the town punish him by forcing him to fix the road he destroyed, a job that, according to the town leader, Doc Hudson (voiced by Paul Newman) will take 5 days. But Lighting must get to California in... atually, I don't remember them saying how long he had to get to California. Just that he really had to get there, and apparently didn't have 5 days. To make a long story short, Lighting learns lots of life lessons, becomes friends with a tow truck voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, falls in love with a cute porcshe named Sally (Bonnie Hunt), and helps the little town of Radiator Springs. It's everything the previews made it out to be, and nothing more. Not to say that I didn't enjoy the film, but I did expect a little better from Pixar. The animation was very well-done, but in Pixar's style, which isn't the most realistic I've seen. That may also be a reason Happy Feet won over Cars. Still, overall it was cute and worth the 116 minutes I spent to watch it.
Rating: 2 and a half stars. The plot was just too predictable. Sorry, Pixar.
If you like this: A Bug's Life, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hannibal Rising

I have always been a fan of creepy things but only recently have been turned on formally to "Horror Fiction". Sure I read one or two Stephen King novels in my high school days, but it wasn't until last August when I spotted a issue of the literary magazine Cemetery Dance at a bookstore that I really discovered the horror genre. I read my first issue of CD in one sitting and I was hooked. Reading as much Jack Ketchum, Al Sarrantonio, Ramsey Campbell, etc. as I could. I also found a terrific podcast called Pod of Horror which features what's new in the genre, author interview and horror book reviews.
A few episodes ago, on Pod of Horror, fiction reviewer, Scott Bradley reviewed the book Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris. Harris introduced the serial killer Hannibal Lecter in his 1981 novel, Red Dragon. (The film adaptation of Red Dragon came out in '02). The sequel novel, Silence of the Lambs came out in 1988 and became hugely popular when the film, starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins was released in 1991. I read Lambs when it first came out in the late 80s and couldn't put the book down. The film never lived up to the novel for me. In 1999 Harris published the sequel to Silence of the Lambs, simply titled, Hannibal. It was made into a film of the same name in 2001.
In December of 2006 Harris published the novel Hannibal Rising, which is essentially the "making of a serial killer"- the reason why Hannibal became a cannibal. Scott Bradley gave Hannibal Rising- the book- a horrible review and said that Harris seemed to have sold out, wrote the book just for the purpose of making money.
The movie, Hannibal Rising was released last month and after hearing the book review and seeing the movie reviews I had no strong desire to see the movie. Especially since I hadn't seen or heard anything about Lecter since watching Silence of the Lambs in the early 90s; however, Friday night found me with nothing to do and it was a warm night and the drive in was open, as usual so I went.
And I am really glad I did. This is not a slasher/jump-in-your-seat movie, but rather an interesting drama with a lot of suspence. We meet Hannibal Lecter at age 8. He and his family are hiding from the Nazis in the Luthianian country side. Hannibal witnesses the deaths of his parents and the death and devouring of his little sister at the hands of Lithuanian militiamen. Hannibal eventually is taken in at a Soviet orphange where he lives for eight years and eventually escapes, in search of remaning family members. He finds an aunt who teaches him the ways of the Japanese warriors and he sets out to avenge the cannibalistic death of his little sister. Hannibal tracks down the Lithuanian militiamen and makes quick work of them in very nasty ways.
There are a few plot holes and some scenes are a bit unbelievable, but overall this movie is worth the rent, even if you haven't seen all of the Hannibal films.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


When I went on the IMDB to get the link for Norbit, I was really surprised to see that it has gotten a much lower rating than Wild Hogs. As I write in the previous post, Wild Hogs was the worst excuse for a comedy I've seen in a long, long time. Norbit was the second feature at the drive-in this past weekend. After nearly falling asleep during Hogs (or maybe it was hypothermia, it was freezing) I thought that Norbit would be even worse, given the bad ratings it has received. This is the story of Norbit, a meek, not-so-bright, kind man who marries a loud and downright nasty woman named Rasputia. What a clever name! The choice alone of Rasputia as the name of this wicked, cheating woman was funnier than anything in Hogs. This is definately not high-brow comedy. I have been asked how I could like this movie being that it makes fun of heavy people and I am definately heavy, but I really wasn't offended at all. The movie makes fun of everyone! This is a good movie to rent, or see at the cheap movies, or the second feature at a drive-in! Definately worth a laugh or two or three or four.

Wild Hogs

Oh my, oh my, oh my. Just when I thought that Because I Said So was going to be the worst movie of the first quarter of the year, I went to see Wild Hogs. So hopeful was I that I went to see it at the drive-in during a snow squall to see it. I kept hearing from unnamed sources that it was going to AWESOME! It was truly awful. Looking back I can't remember where I heard Wild Hogs was any good. I hadn't read any reviews and I didn't know anyone who actually saw the movie prior to my treck out to the Dependable Drive-in. Maybe everyone, myself included, just figured that anything with William H. Macy was worth watching. I can't recall one clever moment in this movie. Not one. It is filled with jokes about middle aged men needing to go to the bathroom more often than they did when they were young. It contains a scene were the EVIL bikers threaten to burn down the cafe owned by the girlfriend of the GOOD bikers. This movie was so unfunny, it was sad. The only consolation was that, having seen it at the drive-in, it only cost me three dollars. What a disappointment. Oh yeah, it is the story of group of four middle-aged friends who decide to get away from their boring lives and take a road trip on their bikes. Sorry the summary wasn't more colorful, neither was the movie. Blah! Snooze!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Number 23

"The main character in this movie, Walter Sparrow, played by Jim Carrey, becomes obsessed with the number 23. After his wife gives him a copy of a strange book that introduces him to the theory that all things add up to the number 23, Sparrow sees the number everywhere. Watching this film today I, too became convinced that the number 23 is everywhere, specifically regarding how many hours I felt I had been in the theater. The Number 23 is 23 hours long. I am sure of it." - That is what I wrote about The Number 23 last Tuesday, right after I left the theater. Now almost a week later I feel exactly the same.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

What a terrific movie! Quirky, brilliant, understated, heart-warming, thought-provoking, dark, delightful-- a simply wonderful film! It tells the story of a disfunctional family that is determined to get their young daughter to the finals of Little Miss Sunshine pageant across country. Richard (Greg Kinnear) and Sheryl (Toni Collette) star as the parents of Olive (Abigail Breslin) the young, bespectacled, unexpected beauty queen. Paul Dano is Dwayne, the teenage Nietzsche-reading brother of Olive. Steve Carrell plays Frank, Sheryl's sucidal brother and Alan Arkin is Grandpa. I thought that beauty pageants as a whole were deserving of more mocking, but other than that, this movie was truly awesome.


As I watched Babel at the bargain cinema this weekend, I had a strange sense of deja vu. Make no mistake-- I enjoyed Babel. I even found myself tearing up at the end of the movie, which rarely happens, but as many reviews (reviews far more skilled than I) have said, Babel is Crash on an international scale. Babel begins in Morocco. We meet a family of goat herders who purchase a rifle to help defend their herd from jackals. The rifle becomes the weapon that critically wounds an American tourist (Cate Blanchett), traveling with her husband (Brad Pitt) on a tour bus. Blanchett and Pitt have two children, living in San Deigo, who are being cared for by their nanny, Amelia (Adriana Barraza). Naturally because of the incident, Pitt and Blanchett will not be returning to San Deigo as expected. Amelia however, wants to return to her native Mexico to attend her son's wedding and decides to take the children across the boarder with her, for the celebration. The movie then takes us to Japan and a young teenage girl, Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi). Chieko lives with her father (Kôji Yakusho) and is still grieving the loss of her mother who committed suicide. Needless to say this is a complex movie! Not only does it skip around the world, but it skips back and forth in time as well. It is a bit preachy, but I still found it definately worth the watch.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Howl's Moving Castle

Hello fellow moviegoers! My name is Alexis, and I'm the newest addition to the Bethel Park movie library blog! Today I will be reviewing Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle, (Japanese: Hauru no ugoku shiro) based on the book by Diana Wynne Jones. Howl was nominated for Best Animated Feature in the 2006 Academy Awards along with Corpse Bride and Wallace and Grommit: The Cure of the Were-Rabbit. Unfortunately, it lost to Wallace and Grommit. In any other year, though, it would have won. (For that matter, so would Corpse Bride.)
Howl's Moving Castle is Miyazaki-sensei's most recent film. Other movies he dircted include Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and the 2002 Oscar winner for Best Animated, Spirited Away. I HIGHLY reccommend all of those movies. The library owns all of them, and you can even have them shipped to you! All you need is your library card.
Anyway, on with the review! Howl's Moving Castle is the story of 18-year old Sophie (voiced by Emily Mortimer) who gets cursed by the Witch of the Waste (Laruen Bacall). The curse turns Sophie into a 90-year old woman. (now voiced by Jean Simmons) Sophie goes out in search of the Wizard Howl (Christian Bale) to help her break the curse. She goes to Howl's "castle", which is actually just a magic pile of junk that moves, where we meet Calcifer (Billy Crystal) a fire demon that moves the castle, Markl (Josh Hutcherson) Howl's apprentice, and a scarecrow with a turnip for a head that Sophie aptly names "Turnip-head".
If you've read the book, you're going to spend the whole movie going "That never happened!" and "Markl is supposed to be 10 years older!" and "wasn't Suliman a man?" . What you need to do is forget everything from after page 20 of the book, THEN watch the movie. I guarentee you will love it. Miyzaki-sensei is literally the greatest animated movie dirctor in the world. This movie has some of the most beautiful animation that I've ever seen. Seemlessly combinging 2D with 3D effects (the castle) , and a 3D program that makes things look handrawn when they're really not (the blob-men), this movie is visually perfect. Also, it has one of the greatest composers in the movie industry, Joe Hisaishi. (Who also scored almost all of the Studio Ghibli movies)
Rating: 3 and a half stars. It's good, but Miyazaki has better.
If you like this: Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Whisper of the Heart.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Epic Movie

I wanted to see Epic Movie so much once I heard that Jennifer Coolidge was in it, as I love her in the Christopher Guest movies. I also loved most of the Scary Movie series. But man, this was truly bad. Not the worst movie I've ever seen but it was not very funny at all. The film spoofs (or attempts to spoof) Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Nacho Libre, Punk'd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and more. It spoofs none of them very well, but there are handful of funny lines. The best parts, not surprisingly where when Jennifer Coolidge was on screen. I had no idea that Fred Willard was in the film and so that was great fun, seeing him as Aslo (Aslan) in the Land of Gnarnia. This is worth renting if there is nothing else at the video store.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Departed

When I see a movie like this it makes me wonder: Are there REALLY people out there like this? It completely freaks me out! The Departed is an indepth look at corruption in the Massachusettes State Police and the Irish Mob. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Billy Costigan, a statie assigned to infiltrate a crime syndicate run by Frank Costello (Jack Nicolson). Matt Damon is the darling of the Massachusettes State Police, however he has close ties to Costello is always tipping off the mob boss to police investigations. Damon is assigned the task of smoking out the rat in Costello's group and DiCaprio must discover the leak in the State Police Department. Sound confusing? It isn't, really, it is just hard for me to describe well! This is definately a gritty film. Lots of rough language and more violence than Black Xmas, but it is a good movie. It is 2 1/2 hours long, which was way too long for me. The suspense was so great that halfway through I ended up googling the film on my cell phone to find out ahead of time who would live and who would die. Definately good for a rental or a trip to the bargin movies, where I saw it. I am not a fan of Jack Nicolson, even though the world loves him, I think he plays the same character in every movie. Maybe I would have liked The Departed more if he wasn't in it. However, as much as I think Nicolson is over-rated, I think Leonardo DiCaprio is under-rated. His perfomance was excellent. Unlike Nicolson, I think he really acts. Matt Damon was excellent also as were Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg in supporting roles.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

Two things drew me to this movie...Will and Jayden Smith, who appeared on "Oprah" before I saw this movie and were such a joy to watch! This real-life father/son duo were even more of a joy to watch on the big screen, as the true love of Will toward his son was so evident it brought tears to everyone's eyes, especially the scene in the public restroom. This movie has a PG rating, but my entire family saw it, and there is no sex, language or violence, so it's a great movie for everyone. The movie also brings us back to center and helps us appreciate all the blessings in our lives that we may take for granted. This movie is based on a true story and centers around a bone density scanner salesman (Chris Gardner) who can never make enough money to make ends meet for his family and eventually gains custody of his son after his wife leaves him. Together they embark on a journey to remember, through homelessness, jail time and tax seisure, as he tries to complete a 6-month unpaid stockbroker internship that will hopefully land him a job that will lead them to "happyness" (when you see the movie you will find out why the word is misspelled!). I would definitely recommend this movie! Also, a bit of trivia regarding the movie: the homeless people working as extras in the movie were paid a full day's minimum wage ($8.62/hr in SF) and were given free catered meals as compensation for appearing in the film.
See Pursuit of Happyness at the Internet Movie Database

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Hitcher 2007

I love a good horror movie and this is a GREAT one! This has to be one of the best I have ever seen. This story of a psycho hitch-hiker who stalks a couple of college kids on spring break is definately gory and definately not for kids! I haven't seen the 1986 version but I can't imagine it being any better than this. The Hitcher is more of a slasher film than a suspense movie, so if you are looking for strong character development or insight into why The Hitcher does what he does, you won't find it here. If you are looking for lots of opportunities to jump out of your seat and scream, this is the film for you. My friend and I saw this at the drive in and we didn't even notice the 20 degree temps, as the movie moves very quickly and is short to begin with- only 83 minutes. It really made me rethink my tendency to pick up hitch-hikers. That at the fact that my passenger side door no longer opens.

Stranger than Fiction

So many people told me not to miss this movie and now I am telling you. You can now get it on DVD so there is no excuse. I happened to see it at a bargain movie house for a buck and a half, but I would have been happy to pay full price. Stranger than Fiction stars Will Farrell, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman. If that group of folks isn't enough to send you to the Family Video, the Dollar Movies or at least to the "PLAY" button on your Pay-Per-View, I don't know what is. Will Farrell stars as Harold Crick, an IRS agent who discovers that he is actually the main character in a book that Kay Eiffel (Thompson) is writing. His discovery comes when he hears Thompson narrating his actions as he performs them. In time he discovers that Thompson is planning to kill off his character and so he must find her and try to change her mind. There is a lot to think about in this movie and it is a wonderful story! See this movie today!

Please, SKIP THIS MOVIE and not just Because I Said So

As fan of pretty much everything Diane Keaton has ever done, with the exception of The Family Stone, I really wanted to like Because I Said So, starring Keaton and Mandy Moore. It was a cold, miserable Friday evening before Valentine's Day and I thought a nice, light romantic comedy would be the perfect entertainment for the evening. The previews looked really good! Half way through this movie about a meddling mother (Keaton) who tries to find a mate for her youngest daughter (Moore) by posting an ad on the internet, I found myself wondering if perhaps the best parts of the film were already shown in the trailer and the previews. My friend and I sat in the theater in silent disbelief as all around us, women were laughing hysterically. Some were even SLAPPING THEIR KNEES! I turned to my friend and said that surely they were laughing at something else...sharing a joke on cell phone screen, or listening to the radio or laughing in their sleep. My friend and I didn't find one amusing thing in this movie at all. Admittedly though, the rest of the theater seemed to enjoy it, but if you ask me, this one isn't even worth renting.