Last Chance Harvey

•April 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The romantic comedy nowadays hasn’t really lived up to it’s full christian name and often leaves half of itself at the door.  Either you’re watching a romantic film that isn’t funny or you’re watching a funny movie without any moments of true romance.  Being a man, that isn’t this isn’t very important to me, but being  a fan of truly great movies, which sometimes can be quite romantic, I can say that I found the kind of movie in Last Chance Harvey that every single man, woman and single man and woman or otherwise affiliated person looks for when they turn on a movie.

There are several shocking moments in this film that make it truly great and each one of these moments in the hands of lesser writers always finds its way towards old familiar and obvious avenues.  One perfect moment of this film finds Harvey (Dustin Hoffman) stand up in a public areana to speak and one would think embarrass himself.  But the character of Harvey never becomes the movie character.  That is, the person who all in the audience expect or fear him to become.  Instead he remains a very real and surprising character that becomes more and more himself  in no short thanks to a performance that has not been celebrated enough.

The other note I’d like to make of the brilliance of this work is in dialogue.  This is a talking movie in the best ways that made movies like Before Sunrise and Before Sunset classics.  But some of the best words written for this film were the places where nothing was said at all.  There were many opportunities to take advantage of one of the funniest actors to spit lines, however he never says too much and he never says anything witty, just for the sake of a laugh.

Last Chance Harvey is one of the best films of 2008.  Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson deserve medals beyond Oscars for their contribution and for Joel Hopkins (writer/director) who we’re just getting to know, we can now expect great things or at least give him one last chance.DF-00827cr

The Movies

•March 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So I’ve seen a couple movies since my last post.  And in case you wanted to know…they were good, you should see them too.

Just reminded myself how this blogging thing works.  Don’t think I have a review in me right now, but expect one soon, that is if there is anyone out there.  If not I hope you, Jim, enjoy these from time to time.

Charlie Baker

aka Cinema Psychic389626545_266adeb7a61

Cinema Psychic T-Shirts

•March 15, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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Now you can have the Cinema Psychic on your chest! Yes we have finally got our heads out of the sand and put together a store with some great merchandise. Goto the Cinema Psychic web page and click the link at the bottom of the page marked “store“. You will also find Clip Show and Hands on Food merchandise as well!

Thanks for your continued support, buy a shirt, or two!!

Cinema Psychic

•November 28, 2006 • Leave a Comment

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Jim and I have launched a new video podcast staring yours truly. The Cinema Psychic is a once a week video podcast reviewing movies opening in the cinema that week. Check it out every Friday at cinemapsychic.com.

Brick; A Scanner Darkly; Little Miss Sunshine

•September 25, 2006 • 1 Comment

In the middle of summer the good people at Kimball’s Twin Peak Theater were good enough to feature a few non-blockbusters that I was very happy to see.

 

Brick – This is a neo-noir high school murder mystery with a twist of Bogart style dialogue and so much old time slang you’ll need an index to keep up. I little dull in the middle, but interesting enough for me. Again I give you no supporting material. Bet you’re becoming real self reliant.

 

A Scanner Darkly – from the writer of Blade Runner and Total Recall and the Director of Waking Life and Dazed and Confused comes something that will no doubt blow your mind. This movie is glossed over with a style of animation that makes the film look real enough, but also gives you the desired druggy feeling as well. I’d like to explain it, but I’d rather just have you see it and then remind me of how good it is later. Thanks.

 

Little Miss Sunshine – This is the best film I’ve seen this year. It’s a fine line between Comedy and Drama. Often when films try to walk this line the comedy falls flat and the drama is laughable. This movie was funny from start to finish and each character (there’s about 6 or 7 of them) is completely developed and engaging and lovable. This was the best surprise at the movies for me in a long time.

 

And I’m spent. All caught up. Suppose I’ll go see something tonight. Not that you needed to know about that because chances are you won’t hear about it for another 6 months. Okay hey take it easy.

Poseidon; The DaVinci Code; The Devil Wears Prada; The Lady in the Water

•September 25, 2006 • Leave a Comment

There are a couple more blockbusters from last summer to talk about, so ah, lets talk about ‘em.

 

Poseidon – directed by Wolfgang Peterson who has become typecast as the director for any movie to take place around water. Das Boot, The Perfect Storm and now this remake. That’s right it’s a remake. Were you fooled with by the absence of “adventure” from the title? Bet you thought it was a completely different kind of movie. Lots of action. Lots of almost drowning sequences and a couple actual drowning sequences including one of the most shocking moments I’ve witness with an actor I’m quite fond of, but will fail to mention because I’d hate to spoil that little surprise.

 

The DaVinci Code – A whole lotta something was made about this supposed controversial film. This I don’t mind spoiling. Jesus had a wife. Who’s to say he didn’t? why not? And more important. Why not? What I find confusing is that a group of people who place infinite importance on family are enraged by the suggestion that their savior was a family man. This world confuses the hell out of me.

 

The Devil Wears Prada – Jim made me see this one. He’s gotta big crush on that gal that stars in it. What do you want me to say about this film? Yes I formed a small crush myself on the charming young lady. The movie was funny at parts cliché at other parts, to be expected. There are only so many places a film like this is gonna go and further there are only so many options the writers had. Couldn’t throw too many surprises in a film made for teenage girls. They wanna smile and I’m sure a few of ‘em did. I wanted to see the Break Up that night for the record, however I still haven’t seen that one. Suppose I’ll catch it on video. Did you want to know that?

 

Lady in the Water – I don’t know what all the complaining was about. I had a great time. Great characters, funny dialogue, sentimental dialogue, fairy tale kind of feeling and the guy made this movie for his kids. Gotta love that. Last time I heard of a writer makin’ a movie based on something they made up for their kids was William Goldman’s The Princess Bride. Little known fact: Goldman has two daughters, he asked each of them what the story should be about and one of them wanted a story about a princess and the other wanted a story about a…it’s too unbelievable to hear. Never mind.

 

Hope you all enjoyed your summer. If you didn’t try harder next year.

Mission Impossible III; X-Men 3; Superman Returns; Clerks 2; Pirates of the Caribbean 2 Dead Man’s Chest

•September 25, 2006 • Leave a Comment

I’m sure you all just kind of figured that I boycotted the cinema this summer. ME! Miss out on all the sequals?! Never!

 

Mission Impossible 3 – So Tom made friends with the guy that created the television series Felicity, Alias (which Tom thinks is awesome; Jim too for that matter) and my favorite Lost. The story I heard. Tom calls up J. J. Abrams (or a liaison) and invites J. J. out to Tom’s place where they would take about movies and jets and other things that interest Tom. After surviving the weirdness of Tom Cruise’s people calling and inviting you to spend a day with Tom J. J. agreed to do the movie. It turned out ok. Not as stylish as the first two but it’s clever enough and features Phillip Seymore Hoffman in his most intimidating role to date.

 

X-Men 3 – this movie has all the geeks really pissed off because their beloved director Bryan Singer was replaced with Brett Ratner. I’ve seen the first two X-Men films and I’ll admit that they are well enough and I was entertained for a couple hours, but where does Singer get all this adulation. The writing is absurd and the films contain no action. Yes, that’s a very general statement with no supporting points. I realize that. Tough shit. X3 is as good as either of the other two and just as bad.

 

Superman Returns – So this is why the renowned Bryan Singer couldn’t do the X-Men. Here’s what’s good: The music from the original (John Williams) is still here, the opening credits are identical and they didn’t recast Jor-El (Superman’s Father). They reuse the footage of Marlon Brando from 1978. Here’s what’s bad: The original music that was composed for the film, once again the writing is juvenile (once again no supporting points; trust me), and finally the moments where they use Marlon Brando’s voice overs are so pointless and arbitrary. Very disappointed in this one.

 

Clerks 2 – Very funny (no supporting points other than saying it was written by Kevin Smith). Love the cast, love the dialogue (some of it) love Rosario Dawson. This film takes a few dives into the over dramatic and the arguments between a few characters could have been cut up a bit. As for the grand finale which will remain a surprise to you was not that grand. Side note: Kevin said before this film that he wouldn’t make another Jay and Silent Bob film however he promise his co-star and friend Jason Mewes that if he stayed off drugs he’d write another film for him. This was it. Kudos J.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean 2 the Dead Man’s Chest – this movie was too long and personally I found Depp’s routine running a little thin, but that is no criticism of him rather the writing, director and editor that relied to heavily on him.

 

Special thanks to those that have encouraged me to start writing these again! You know who you are. And I hope these didn’t suck too bad.

The Hills Have Eyes; V for Vendetta; The Inside Man; Lucky Number Slevin; Thank You For Smoking

•August 2, 2006 • Leave a Comment

More “half ass” catch up reviews…

 

The Hills Have Eyes is a remake of a 1977 classic by “Master of Horror” Wes Craven. This remake is gory, shocking and never boring. Even in the first act, where nothing devastating has happened, the interaction between family members is entertaining. It was honest and funny and eerie because you know this innocent group has the worst imaginable horror in store for them.

 

V for Vendetta was written by the Wachowski’s, the Masterminds behind the Matrix trilogy. This comic action satire is sharp and funny and grandiose. The man behind the mask deserves special mention here as he is most recognizably Mr. Smith from the Matrix. Hugo’s performance as V is vaudevillian, vivacious, virtuoso and vibrating with vigor, verve and a vagary for volleys of a vast vocabulary.

 

The Inside Man is a bank heist film with a twist. The twist here is the director, Spike Lee. Instead of forgettable performances from the meaningless side characters this film gets its life from the many colorful New York quintessential characters that occupy the background of this film, playing perfect compliment to good performances from Denzel, Clive and Jodie.

 

Lucky Number Slevin is one of my favorite films so far this year. It is a stylish mob against mob flick starring Josh Hartnett, Lucy Lu and a few other familiar faces. The brilliance in this film is the dialogue. This film makes Hartnett sound like Bogart and despite an obvious concluding twist this film provides a lot of fun in between.

 

Thank You For Smoking is another in the string of best films so far this year. This one is written and directed by son of Ivan Reitman, (Ghostbusters director) Jason Reitman. This is a spin story on a spin doctor, not unlike Levinson’s Wag the Dog. Great cast, great dialogue, this story, about a tobacco lobbyist who juggles his job, family and image wins on charm and savvy.

Memoirs of a Geisha; Munich; Brokeback Mountain; New World; MatchPoint

•July 25, 2006 • Leave a Comment

The half ass “catch up” reviews…

 

Memoirs of a Geisha, one of the few books out there I’ve actually read, was originally set to be directed by Steven Spielberg and instead fell in the hands of Rob Marshall of “Chicago” fame. The book as it reads is very cinematic. It seemed like it would take a fool to screw up its adaptation. The fool, Rob Marshall. This is a fine film and entertaining, but pretty flat and no where near the journey it deserved to be.

 

Munich is the film Spielberg gave up on Geisha to direct. This film was the best of all the nominated films for best picture last year. The others: Good Night and Good Luck, Brokeback Mountain, Capote and the winner an oddly enough the hardest for me to remember, Crash. The story everyone was familiar with was the kidnapping and botched rescue of the Israeli Athletes. The story of this film focuses on the vengeance sought out by Israel on those responsible. The film is a beautiful tale of evil begetting evil and in the end violence should be learned as inappropriate measure.

 

Brokeback Mountain, the most talked about picture of the year has given us yet another adjective for the word “gay.” When you feel the need to express that something you observe is “gay” now may say “Brokeback” and not feel as much like a bigot. The film is based on a short story and this explains why the story felt a little stretched to me. The performances were extraordinary and this was a wonderfully tragic story, but I fell victim to the advertising on this one. A great love story is what it was called and I don’t deny that they may have been in love, but the fact that they were in love was not the focus of the story. The focus was on the backlash of admitting who they were to themselves and the rest of the world and for that it was a great movie, however not a great love story.

 

New World is the story of John Smith and Pocahontas as told by the point of view of Pocahontas, which might explain the very earthy feel and pacing to this movie. To many this has proved boring, but for me the level of authenticity given to both parties in the story made for a completely engaging and well told epic which took Pocahontas from her land to the “new world” oversees.

 

Match Point is Woody Allen’s best effort in over a decade. From the setting, to the intensity this is by far the furthest thing from a Woody Allen movie I’ve seen in a Woody Allen movie. The story follows the very kind and respectful, Chris, who meets a wealthy young man, who introduces him to his sister. From there a relationship of convenience begins and a lustful obsession with another woman will take Chris to his very end, where he is reminded of these great words… “it is better to be lucky than good.”

The Squid and the Whale

•June 18, 2006 • Leave a Comment

Samuel Goldwyn Films presents a film written and directed by Noah Baumbach. Running time: 88 minutes. Rated R (for strong sexual content, graphic dialogue and language).

 

I was hoping to watch this film a second time before reviewing it, but in the interest of getting through the seemingly insurmountable list of make up reviews to write I’ll just go ahead and write something.

 

This film is the work of Noah Baumbach, who started in the mid-nineties with an Eric Stoltz and Parker Posey flick called Kicking and Screaming, not to be confused with Will Farrell’s soccer coaching comedy. The next time I heard of this guy he was co-writing The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson’s film about the hunting of a mythical shark for the soul purpose of enacting revenge for the death of a friend.

 

This film is a look at divorce through the eyes of a couple different kids. One of them regards his father as an intellectual giant, who was taken for granted by his idiot mother. The young son is the mother’s boy who jealously guards his mothers name by renouncing his father.

 

The film paints some very tough characters and fatal traits that parents pass on to their children and ends with a very touching realization (as most films should) that finds the young man somewhere in his darkest and most vulnerable memory linking him to one of his parents and The Squid and the Whale.