The Family Stone

•June 18, 2006 • Leave a Comment

Twentieth Century-Fox presents a film directed and written by Thomas Bezucha. Running time: 102 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for some sexual content including dialogue and drug references).

 

In the neighborhood of family comedies I was expecting good things from this film. And I mean family comedies in the sense that it looked like a comedy about a certain family, not that it is rated accordingly for little creatures like children. The preview was funny and quirky and made me think of one of the greatest holiday films around, Home for the Holidays. That film had its mix of humor and drama, but remained very consistent to the material and the characters. This film on the other hand felt dry and forced at every turn.

 

This is not a bad film, but it does suffer from noticeably bad editing and such dramatic u-turns into the overly melodramatic that can send you into a shock of uncomfortable silence. The cast does everything in their very capable hands to make this a watchable and charming film, but despite the best efforts of Rachael McAdams, Luke Wilson, Sara Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, and even Coach Craig T. Nelson.

 

Worth a look and even a second thought but it won’t make the exclusive holiday cut that already includes Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, Mixed Nuts and It’s a Wonderful Life.

King Kong

•June 18, 2006 • Leave a Comment

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Universal presents a film directed by Peter Jackson. Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson. Based on a story by Merian C. Cooper and Edgar Wallace. Running time: 187 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for frightening adventure violence and some disturbing images).

 

The problem with this film lies in the first hour, where so much time is spent with this filmmaker, that looks like Jack Black, and his struggle to get a movie made. It’s not exactly boring, but for an audience that already knows that the movie is about a giant ape and his accent up the Empire State Building it can go on a bit too long. However, if you should stay awake past the first hour and make it to the island you are in for some of the most exciting action scenes this side of a Steven Spielberg film.

 

Peter Jackson first met acclaim with a little piece called Bad Taste. This led to Heavenly Creatures, a true story about an intense friendship among two young girls, who conspire to kill the mother that tries to come between them. I haven’t seen either of these films, but his next film I did. The Frighteners is a scary film that looks like a comedy. When I first heard of this film I thought it would be more like Ghostbusters than anything else. It turned out being visually haunting with an unnerving story about two lovers who are out to break Ted Bundy’s murder spree record just for the sake of being the best. It was the quality of this film that led me to believe that I would love the Lord of the Rings films, though I did not. But Kong on the other hand, is exciting and funny and contains some of the best action scenes and special effects I’ve ever seen in the movie.

 

My only complaint would be the amount of time the film takes. As talented a filmmaker Peter Jackson is he seems to lack some kind of sensor in his head that allows for hour and a half to two hour films.

 

On a personal note…coming from Phoenix, Arizona I would often frequent a theater called the Cine Capri when I was young. From Batman Returns to Starship Troopers and each rerelease of the Star Wars Trilogy and finally with Titanic I saw great films on the biggest screen in the state, complete with golden curtains and mildew stained seats. This theater was torn down after the theatrical run of Titanic and like Jesus Christ finally resurrected so far out of the city I don’t think it’s actually in Phoenix anymore. But I got to see Kong on that very King sized screen and feel a bit nostalgic doing so. Thank you Dan Harkin for rebuilding this shrine to the most holy ritual I engage in.

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Rumor Has It…

•May 17, 2006 • Leave a Comment

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“I’m not drunk, I just think you’re better off just renting The Graduate.”

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a film directed by Rob Reiner. Written by Ted Griffin. Running time: 96 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for mature thematic material, sexual content, crude humor and a drug reference).

 

This is the story of the real family behind the book that became a movie and the movie that became legendary. This movie presumes that there was actually a guy that slept with a woman, then fell for the daughter and slept with her too. The movie also presumes that Jenny Aniston is the granddaughter of the first woman and the daughter of the other.

 

This character exclaims “Go to the video store and get me a copy of The Graduate!” And from there we have Jenny looking for the actual Dustin Hoffman character, who incidentally looks a lot like Kevin Costner. You can guess what happens next (this is a comedy) Jenny finds Costner, gets drunk and sleeps with him only to realize that because of her age and considering where her mother was all those years ago and more importantly who she was with, Jenny might have very well just slept with her father.

 

This movie was directed by one of my idols. Rob Reiner is responsible for several favorites of mine, including When Harry Met Sally and the Princess Bride, not to mention Misery, A Few Good Men and This is Spinal Tap. But recently Rob has been not so lucky. The Story of Us with Bruce Willis was ok and had potential, but the ending lacked any bravery of any kind and fell flat. The same is true with Rumor Has It. It chickens out of an interesting and disturbing situation and does so with such stupidity that I was just left in my seat completely detached from this film. This film is worth seeing, but only to remind you of how good Rob Reiner used to be.

Ice Harvest

•May 17, 2006 • Leave a Comment

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Focus Features presents a film directed by Harold Ramis. Written by Richard Russo and Robert Benton. Based on the novel by Scott Phillips. Running time: 88 minutes. Rated R (for violence, language and sexuality/ nudity).

 

This movie finds itself in the unique home in which the Coen Classic Fargo resides. It’s funny, it’s dark, violent and unrepented. It’s all these wonderful things that people no longer feel guilty for enjoying so why I ask does Blockbuster Video only order 4 copies for rental. That’s right 4. Not 40 or fuck even 14. Four copies for the 5000 active customers that come into my store once a week and all of them, minus 4, are asking me to look in my magical drop box for a copy, which I assure them would take an act of God, to be available.

 

It doesn’t help matters either when I say to the customer, who didn’t get what they wanted, that “it’s a really good movie too, it’s too bad it isn’t here.” They love hearin’ that shit.

 

This movie was directed by Harold Ramis, whom most of you know as the nerdy Ghostbuster Egon Spengler. But believe it or not he is also responsible for writing the original Caddyshack, Animal House and directing such classics as Groudhog Day, Vacation and Analyze This.

 

I recommend you see this film, but I also recommend a couple thousand “Hail Marys” before going to Blockbuster to find one.

 

Ps.

 

I haven’t even mentioned that this movie also gives you the roles you want to see each of its stars in. Billy Bob as the foul mouth bad man, Connie Neilson as the beautifully 1940s femme fatale, Oliver Platt as the happy drunk and John Cusack as the slightly sad yet sympathetic guy who just wants to get outta town.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

•May 17, 2006 • Leave a Comment

Buena Vista presents a film directed by Andrew Adamson. Screenplay by Ann Peacock, Adamson, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis. Running time: 139 minutes. Rated PG (for battle sequences and frightening moments).

 

Three Hundred Million Dollars or not I didn’t care for this movie. I have memories of watching a very low tech BBC version of this story when I was a kid or was it animated?…Anyway I was ten years old and I loved every minute. So those of you that know me, know that I didn’t really get much more mature than I was back then, so it stands to reason that I would love this souped up version of C.S. Lewis’s masterpiece. I did not.

 

I have no problem understanding why a young person would like this film. It is unbelievably simple and nonthreatening. Therein lies what I didn’t like about this film. Having seen the Harry Potter series in all of its dangerous and colorful drama all else in the kid film category seems to fall flat.

 

This Narnia movie is worth watching and if you’re 10 years old, I mean really 10 years old it is going to be the greatest film you’ve ever seen, that is if you haven’t already seen Jurassic Park or E.T. or Star Wars or The Wizard of Oz or any of the Harry Potter films or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory or the Goonies or Dragonheart or Legend or any classic Disney film like Sleeping Beauty or Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast, but otherwise this movie is well worth their time unless that is if the said 10 year old hasn’t seen any of the movies listed above. It would be considered, by me and the fine state of Colorado, child abuse and criminal negligence to show a child this Narnia bull shit before exposing them to truly great cinematic experiences, all of which are listed above.

 

Carry on.

Rent

•April 18, 2006 • Leave a Comment

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Revolution Studio and Columbia Pictures presents a film directed by Chris Columbus. Written by Columbus and Stephen Chbosky. Based on the musical drama “Rent,” by Jonathan Larson. Running time: 128 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for mature thematic material involving drugs and sexuality, and for some strong language).

 

Five million, twenty five billion, six hundred and forty two. I think is how the opening song goes, but I might be off a bit. First I think it’s important to distinguish between two very different things. First thing is, I know there are a few of you out there who don’t take part in movie musicals and you probably have your varying reasons for that, but I’d like to make very clear right now, there is a very big difference between watching a movie musical and reading a review about a movie musical.

 

For example there won’t be MOMENTS! (Orchestra cues a few hefty notes from the string section) Wonderful moments! When I find myself looking at the sky! Thinking up reasons to get you to see this wonderful movie with ME! (electric guitars riff along side some ass shaking precusion) I see you sitting there, over there, not over here, but over there, thinking about not seeing this movie. NOT SEEING THIS MOVIE! But what you may not get is that this flick features fucking Rosario Dawson and that dude from Law and Order. And if that ain’t it this fucking flick is directed by none other than 1492 films founder the brilliant, incendiary and Spielberg prodigy Chris Columbus. THAT’S RIGHT! (music dives into fluty melodramatic underscore and builds slowly to climax) So get out of that chair, do up your fucking hair and come see the only show out there with enough Aids and attitude and acrobatic authors of New York City’s bohemian subculture to cure the planet of happy faces and sunshine forever and ever and ever and EVER!

 

Yeah, good movie, well directed, well performed, but shit they’re still gonna be gay and they’re still gonna be singin’.

The Legend of Zorro

•April 18, 2006 • Leave a Comment

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“ha HA!”

Columbia Pictures presents a film directed by Martin Campbell. Written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Running time: 129 minutes. Rated PG.

 

It’s been a while and while the box office was pretty high for the first in this series “Mask of Zorro” for some reason they just didn’t get around to making a sequel until now. Here’s the good news: Antonio is back, Zeta-Jones-Douglas is back, director Martin Campbell is back. Now here’s the bad news: Sir Anthony Hopkins is not.

 

Campbell directs action very well and provides a few exciting swashbuckling scenes, but on my drive home as I’m trying to understand why I didn’t care for this film very much I came to a couple realizations. No Tony Hopkins. As always he brought to that role such unexpected grace and intensity that was far better than the writing. Next problem was the length of the film, which could have been fixed by observing the third problem. By now we’ve all seen enough movies to recognize the whole, “poking of the head out from behind something to get a look at what the bad guys are doing, but without being seen myself” routine. That said observe the painfully overdone sequence toward the end of the second act where Zorro follows his wife’s kidnappers to the train in which he follows and follows some more and pokes his head out from behind boxes, doorways, more boxes and behind a series of walls and bushes. When I, in the audience, begin to count the number of times, in a sequence, that a character pokes his head out from behind something than it might be time to hit the editing room for another cut.

 

That said this film was fun and funny, especially in the scenes that find the son of Zorro being just as heroic as his mighty father. But having said that, Tony Hopkins still isn’t in this movie.

Just Friends

•April 18, 2006 • Leave a Comment

New Line Cinema presents a film directed by Roger Kumble. Written by Adam “Tex” Davis. Running time: 94 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for sexual content, including some dialogue).

 

The “friend zone” is that libido killing vortex that can suck a guy in for such things as “being nice” and going “out to lunch” with a girl. These are the beliefs of the man loved by women and idolized by men, Ryan Reynolds.

 

The statue of David known more popularly right now as Van Wilder is on a roll and has established himself as one of the most prominent voices in comedy in this decade. He shares the screen once again with Scary Movie star Anna Faris. Queen of comedy and laugh whore of laughter Faris plays a character much like the one she played in the more critically praised Lost in Translation.

 

However funny I found this film, upon retrospection I compare this film to Hitch and Alfie. All three films find a man with a plethora of women at their disposal and a particular philosophy in attaining them. However Alfie and Just Friends characters do so out of need for compensation. Just Friends Reynolds seems to be pursuing his high school “buddy” just for the sole purpose of getting her. The film does show him change a bit and not too much so as to not disrupt the tone of the comedy in this film. I don’t compare these films to demonstrate one was done right and the other wrong I just find it interesting that these two different characters share so much of the same swagger and so little in class.

Aeon Flux

•April 18, 2006 • Leave a Comment

Paramount Pictures and MTV present a film by Karyn Kusama. Written by Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi. Based on characters created by Peter Chung MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and sexual content. Runtime: 93 min

 

Upon receiving her academy award Charlize said she would only do important films from now on. What I’d like to know is what Charlize deems “important.” If she thinks getting a pay check for squeezing in and out of black vinyl is important than I do too. I guess I got a little paranoid and thought we’d never see her in a role that was an adequate showcase for just how good looking she is. Though I’m sure there was a humble beauty about her coal mining performance in North Country, she looked a little too butch for me.

 

The trouble this film experiences comes from being released in a post Matrix world. Everything since The Matrix has been looked at and then casually discarded with this to say, “It was ok, but it wasn’t the Matrix.” What the animated MTV cartoon had going for it was its Russ Meyer approved female features and its wicked visual style, which the movie failed to capture.

 

This movie’s worth looking at, but there’s it’s not a lot to think about.

Pride & Prejudice

•March 26, 2006 • Leave a Comment

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Focus Features presents a film directed by Joe Wright. Written by Deborah Moggach. Based on the novel by Jane Austen. Running time: 127 minutes. Rated PG (for some mild thematic elements).

 

Writing a review for Pride & Prejudice is almost as arbitrary as making another movie based on the very popular Jane Austin classic.

 

Here it is one more time for those that can’t get enough and here it is for those of us who waited till someone as good looking as Keira Knightley could play the infamously proud Elizabeth Bennett.

 

Now instead of a pointless review I am using this platform to wish two very happy birthdays.

 

The first one goes to Prejudice star Knightley. Happy 21!

 

The second and much more significant to me, my mother. Happy birthday to the little girl born Linda Josephine McCool!

 

I love you both in two very special ways.

Ps. If you really want to know…yes it’s a good movie. Of course it is. What the hell did you think it would be…bad? Come on and use your brain a little.