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! catalog.einetwork.net. 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.