Friday, December 21, 2012
There are a couple of interesting songs like He's a Tramp and Bella Notte.
If you hadn't seen either of the original movies then both films stand on their own pretty much fine. The problem is when you compare them with the original films then you wonder why did they bother doing a remake? (The answer is DVD sales.)
You could take all my comments and also apply them to the 2001 version of "The Planet of the Apes." This particular remake was O.K. but now has been mostly forgotten. On the other hand, the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a triumph of film making because it wasn't so much a remake as it was a prequel that gave us a new and original story.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Best movie I never heard of: Cloud Atlas Extended Trailer #1 (2012) - Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Wachowski Movie HD
Saturday, December 1, 2012
What von Trier is determined to show is that Americans are not friendly, we are suspicious of outsiders, we cave in to authority, we are inherently violent, etc. All of these things are true, and all of these things are untrue. It's a big country, and it has a lot of different kinds of people. Without stepping too far out on a limb, however, I doubt that we have any villages where the helpless visitor would eventually be chained to a bed and raped by every man in town.
"Killing Them Softly" continues as a dismal, dreary series of cruel and painful murders, mostly by men who know one another, in a barren city where it's usually night, often rainy and is never identifiable as New Orleans — not even by the restaurants.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Sunday, November 4, 2012
As a player of mediocre strength, I have no hope of playing at the level achieved by these students. But if I win, I have proven myself better than the person seated across the board from me, and every player knows the finality when the other player sadly turns over his king, signaling surrender. We know it even better when we do it ourselves."
Thursday, November 1, 2012
…” A new film is already in the works and slated for 2015 with plans to release a new Star Wars film every two to three years.”…
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Thursday, October 11, 2012
The switch is discovered when the Israeli boy is turned down by the army because his blood type doesn't match his parents. We have two boys accustomed to think of themselves as Jewish or Palestinian, and they are legally each other."
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Sunday, August 12, 2012
The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve poorer surrounding districts. As a punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol by the districts, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by an annual lottery to participate in the televised Hunger Games. The participants of the Hunger Games must fight to the death until only one remains alive. Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl from District 12, volunteers to take the place of her younger sister, Primrose, who was selected by the lottery.
There is much to like about The Hungers Games. The movie creates an environment that is rich in detail. There are so many aspects to this world that remain unsaid, but the movie conveys ideas with great imagery. The fist half of the film is the buildup to The Hunger Games, which is intensely suspenseful, but is mostly used to give us a feel for the really crazy world that these characters live in.
The movie has some outstanding performances, including Donald Sutherland playing an old ruthless dictator with quiet reserve.
My only complaint about the film is that it is tamer than I expected it to be. With 24 teenagers fighting to the death, the film never conveys any sense of terror. The characters seem way braver than I would be. Although the movie is violent, often the violence is brief and some of it is off screen. Also, the main character only kills in self defense. Since I wanted to see her survive, then I wanted her to be more aggressive about killing her opponents. She also allies herself with a 12 year old girl and helps her to survive. This is all because the movie is based on a very popular young adult novel. With an appeal to teenagers, the movie is rated PG-13 and is only willing to take the horror of the situation so far.
All this had me wondering about the psychological effect that a battle to death would have on the winner? Would the winner have nightmares or go crazy with remorse? The movie addresses this question slightly with the character of Haymitch Abernathy, played brilliantly by Woody Harrelson. He is a former winner and a drunken mess.
Were this just a movie about people fighting to the death then it would be rather ordinary. Instead, I walked away feeling that the movie had a lot to say about the depths of depravity that humans can go to. As terrible as the premise might sound, worse atrocities happen on this planet all the time.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
Superman Returns explores the Superman story in a post 9-11 world. After a trip to find his home planet, Superman returns to earth to find that Lois Lane is married and has a child. It is a world that has mostly forgotten about superheroes.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Once in office, Harvey Milk developed a working relationship with Dan White, another city supervisor. At first this relationship was amicable, but it turned increasingly confrontational as the two men disagreed on issues. Dan White resigned as supervisor because of his frustration over low pay. Later he tried to get his job back, but the Mayor refused. On November 27, 1978, Dan White assassinated both the Mayor and Harvey Milk.
Harvey Milk's death lead to 30,000 people holding a candle light vigil at City Hall. Dan White's trial resulted in him being convicted on lessor charges and getting a light sentence that seems unreasonable considering the severity of his crimes. This light sentence sparked violent riots in San Francisco.
The movie portrays Harvey Milk as somewhat nervous, but likable, charismatic and a great speech maker. The fact that he is a likable character is important in a movie like this. Most of the gay characters in this movie are likable. Although I don't know if these people were really the same as the movie portrays them to be, the movie gives us a strong sense that they were fighting for a just cause. It would be hard to watch this movie and not be somewhat persuaded and moved.
The movie does not try to gloss over that these characters are gay and engage in homosexual acts. It tries to show the way things were.
What makes this movie a really good film that you will want to watch at least twice? Sean Penn as Milk and Josh Brolin as White both prove what outstanding actors they are. Sean Penn is truly amazing in this movie and won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Many of the supporting actors also give really good performances. Other than the acting, it is hard for me to pinpoint why I liked the movie so much. Part of it has to do with it being a historical drama, but the rest is that it is just a very interesting story.
Milk is available on DVD and is rated R.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Friday, July 13, 2012
Monday, July 9, 2012
While sitting in the theater I thought, this is the same story different day. But after listening to some of the reviews I liked it much better. The main positive points are that this Peter Parker has more sides to him than the previous versions of his character. The negatives I agreed with were that the monster was pretty shallow. The writers missed a big opportunity to a better story with a “Jekyll and Hyde” subplot.
Act of Valor
Pretty cheesy acting but I still liked it for the attempts at realism and sincerity.
Johnny English Reborn
I’m starting to like this guy.
We bought a Zoo.
Not the goofy movie I thought it would be and was pleasantly surprised.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Phillips: "The most patriotic film you could possibly see over the Fourth of July weekend is..." -- chicagotribune.com
Sunday, June 17, 2012
The movie is a prequel the movie Alien, which is often described as the most scary movie ever made. Actually, the sequel, Aliens, scared me even more. Although Prometheus is not a particularly scary movie, it does present us with a grand vision of the events preceding the first movie along with an interesting mythology to back it up.
The story is that archaeologists discover evidence that ancient humans were visited by an alien race, and they think that they have a good idea where those aliens are from. They convince a corporate trillionaire to finance a huge space ship in an effort to go find the aliens. This is the point where a person might wonder if this is a good business venture? What they find on this trip very neatly leads up to the first Alien movie, which means that if you haven't seen that film, the ending of Prometheus won't have as much significance.
Of particular significance on this trip is an android named David, played creepily by Michael Fassbender. He seems to have his own agenda, and protecting the humans on the ship isn't part of it. Another person who has an agenda, is the corporate trillionaire, played by Guy Pearce. Seems that he is a stowaway on this trip. Charlize Theron plays his daughter, who runs the ship, and she is about as unemotional as the android.
The R rating puzzles me. There is some violence and sexuality in this movie, but neither is very graphic. Compared to other R rated films, this movie seems tame. There is a little bit of alien monster violence that might seem intense.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The movie does feel lightweight. My other problem with the film is that I don't think that it breaks any new ground. Everything that is done in this movie has been done before. It might as well be an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which is actually a far better show than most people realize. Only a few Buffy fans like me understand its greatness.
There are many elements in the first film that are repeated in the remake but done better.
Despite my complaints, there is enough action in the film to get me caught up in the story. At one point there is a battle between the vampire and people in a car. The car loses. Later, there is a subterranean battle between humans and vampires that is pretty well done.
I like seeing David Tennant playing an actor and reluctant vampire expert. Too bad he left Doctor Who for this.
I could tell you the plot, but what is the point? An evil lord rises up to conquer all of China and has to be defeated. What makes the all too familiar story interesting is how well it is executed, the humor, and the quality of the characters. Here Po struggles to understand where he came from and who he is. It is revealed that Mr. Ping is not Po's real father, but that is not even a little bit of a surprise given that he is a Chinese Goose.
The computer animation is so beautiful and so detailed, it had me wondering how they do it and how much it cost to produce a movie like this? ($150 million.) Kung Fu Panda 2 looks better than the first film and the first film looked pretty good. The beauty of the animated scenery becomes like another character because we are entertained just by looking at it.
The first film had me wondering why the movie needed to be animated and why did all the characters have to be animals? It seemed a little odd to see all these different animals interacting like human characters. The original story could have used live human actors with Jack Black playing the lead, but in this animated universe the characters do extreme martial arts that would seem impossible and silly if humans did them. The two movies have a certain amount of charm showing that many different types of animals can interact and be friends. It also made me wonder what all these animals eat? They all seem to be vegetarians, which is convenient given that the animals aren't eating each other.
Check out the trailer here.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Personally, I think Khan would be an amazing character to see brought back to the big screen, especially given the excellent casting of Kirk and Spock. On the other hand, it's becoming rarer and rarer to find a good original story in Hollywood these days, so part of me would rather they start fresh with an interesting new villain for the new look crew.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
This is a fun movie, if you don’t think about it too much. There are some major plausibility problems. Good to see the Navy get some Hollywood air time.
I’m always glad to see Taylor Kitsch (Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights and John Carter) get lead roles. From the previews you would think this is a Transformers movie, but it’s not. That’s good, because I dislike all the Transformer movies, but I still watch them when they come out on disk just to keep up.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The performances are all excellent. The Brad Pitt father character felt very real to me. The interaction of his three boys tugged at my heart strings and occasionally made me laugh.
The movie is really a spiritual journey. Sean Penn plays one the boys who is now an older man and questioning his place in the universe. The entire film is about him reminiscing over his youth and his lost brother. I am sure that the last 8 minutes won't make much sense to most people, but it is similar to the ending of Lost (****) where all the dead gather together before moving on, or even more similar to the ending of Places in the Heart (***½) where we see images of the living and dead together.
The movie is told in a non-linear fashion that makes it harder to follow, but it is a necessary part of the story to show how past and present are tied together.
I was sure that the movie would be told from a Pantheist perspective, but the film is remarkably non-committal about its view of religion and spirituality. Whatever your faith or lack of faith might be, the film will probably appeal to your viewpoint.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Being a big Josh Whedon fan, I was delighted to see that he wrote and directed The Avengers, but it is a fruitcake of a movie; Its disparate parts mesh together to form a whole that is interesting but does not live up to its full potential. My chief complaint is that the last third of the film is all action that is almost as mindless, but not quite, as the last third of Transformers (**½). For people who want an intense summer action flick, then the last third of the movie will be the "payoff" after a rather long build up. However, it is my opinion that action scenes work best, if not brilliantly, when they also serve to reveal more about the characters. The action scenes in The Avengers do a little bit of that, but not enough. They are mostly just an overdose of eye candy.
I felt vaguely satisfied but wished that it could have been better. In way too many movies when something horrendous threatens a city or the world, the movies show scenes of a small group of people on the ground with cars blowing up all around them. This has been done so many times that it has gotten old, and it is repeated too many times in this movie. (If I never see another car blow up, I will die happy.)
Speaking of recycled scenes: The cage that they put Loki in seems right out of X-Men (***). The flying aircraft carrier we saw before in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (**½).
Too many of the characters in this movie do things that are physically impossible, but maybe we can tolerate that in a movie about super-heroes. The movie defies logic at times: A redirected nuclear missile just happens to explode at the right place and time? A group of super-heroes have trouble putting aside their differences when faced with a threat to the whole planet? When faced with such an attack, the military is not called out to repel the threat? Real wars are not won by heroes or super-heroes, but by armies.
This weekend I also saw Men in Black III, which I found to be slightly more entertaining.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
Will Hunting is a 20 year old punk, former orphan, who gets into fights, is on parole, works as a janitor, and happens to be a mathematical super-genius. When he is discovered by a MIT college professor, the professor makes a deal with a judge to keep the boy out of jail and to get the boy into counseling. Will Hunting is defiant to anyone who wants to help him and isn't willing to embrace that he might have a higher potential.
The counselor is played by Robin Williams, who is surprisingly somber for Robin Williams, although he does sneak in a couple of jokes and one impression. Will Hunting is played by Matt Damon, who is great in every movie he is in. He co-wrote the script along with his co-star Ben Affleck, and it is a pretty smart script.
However, I had a little trouble believing the "punk is really a super-genius but wants to stay a punk" story. If the guy is so smart, why hasn't he tried to make a better life for himself? Real geniuses are driven to do the things that they are good at. In this movie, everyone wants to hand Will Hunting success on a silver platter; All he has to do is be willing to take it.
There are way too many movies about people who are infinitely more talented than everybody else and succeed without making any real effort. The first half of Ice Castles is an example that comes to mind. The real world is full of talented and smart people, but few are successful in a big way, and none succeed in a big way without a great deal of hard work and maybe some luck.
If it wasn't for all the foul language and sexual references, this could be a pretty good PAX-TV movie. There is a pivotal psycho-babble moment when the counselor tells Will Hunting over and over "It's not your fault" until finally Will Hunting breaks down and drops some of his defiance. In some respects this movie is a Rocky equivalent, where a no-name low-life finally starts to make good. Like Rocky, the movie is full of colorful inner-city characters. Like Rocky, the story was written by the leading actor who was relatively unknown prior to the movie. This is the movie that made Matt Damon a star, and he is one of my favorite actors.
I think that it is a pretty good movie. The colorful cast of characters makes the movie intriguing. This movie is mostly about personalities and there are plenty of interesting personalities to enjoy here.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Much of the problem comes down to Suspension of Disbelief and how much fantasy a person can tolerate. When you think about it, all movies are fantasy, but if you don't believe it then chances are you won't enjoy watching it. There are maybe a few movies that seem so absurd that I would lose interest, but for the most part my ability to Suspend Disbelief is pretty high. I have no problem watching The Muppets (twice) because I enjoy the characters; Some of them feel like old friends to me. I have no problem watching a movie about a sponge who cooks burgers at the bottom of the sea because the whole thing is satire on human society; It's not about sea creatures. It is about people in the same way that Aesop's fables are about people. Much of science fiction and horror is actually intended to be a commentary on our society, so they could be viewed as modern fables.
The comment I made about The Ultimate Gift is that I don't necessarily have to believe it to enjoy the movie for what it is. All that was required is that the characters be likable, and they are, and for there to be suspense, and there is.
So where does one draw the line? Even I have a slight problem with the movies where the dead come back to life because I know it is impossible. To believe such a thing would require us to believe in supernatural forces, which is the problem that I have with most horror movies. Still, it can be fun to pretend. It can be fun to imagine what we would do if we were faced with such a situation. But if the situation doesn't sound interesting to you, then maybe Suspension of Disbelief goes out the window?
The best show where the dead come back to life is not a movie, but The Walking Dead television show. This show has great characters - really great characters. Because of this, I am a die hard fan. Do yourself a favor and watch the first 15 minutes. You will meet some very interesting people. Everyone I know who has watched it, loves it.
Not all zombie movies are movies where the dead come back to life. The most successful zombie movie ever made, the Will Smith version of I am Legend, is really about a virus that turns humans into homicidal maniacs. In fact, the producer of 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, both of which are pretty good movies, argues that his movies aren't zombie movies at all; They are about the spread of a "rage virus." Another really good movie, The Crazies, has the same premise, except that it is a bio-weapon. The comedy Zombieland, which I happen to absolutely love, claims that it is a mutated form of Mad Cow Disease, which doesn't sound that impossible to me.
I prefer this type of zombie movie where a disease has infected most of the human population. In this respect, movies like this are not much different than a movie like Contagion, which is terrific movie about a pandemic. The primary difference is that Contagion doesn't have hordes of crazy people chasing and killing the non-infected.
Almost all zombie movies share certain characteristics:
- The breakdown of society. I think that this is the major part of the appeal. Most zombie movies are post-apocalyptic. In that respect, they are not that different from Mad Max movies.
- Man's greatest enemy is still his fellow (living) man. Most zombie movies have people at odds with each other. I would think that under these circumstances, people would put aside their differences and unite against a common non-living enemy, but that might not make for a very interesting movie. Instead it is the living people who end up killing each other.
- Gore. Personally I can live without excessive gore in my entertainment, but it does give the story an extra urgency when you see people ripped apart by a horde of attacking zombies. The George Romero series of zombie movies and The Walking Dead TV series tend to be excessively gory, but the other movies that I listed above aren't nearly as bad.
- Social Commentary. Most zombie movies comment in one way or another about the human condition, but the George Romero movies are especially famous for this.
For me the movie is just O.K. It is obviously low budget. The acting and production quality are second rate.
There is a whole genre of movies about people hiding in a building or a house while being attacked from the outside. These movies have the advantage of of creating a suspense that carries the film because the audience wants to see how it ends. Despite the cheap production quality, the movie is suspenseful and occasionally exciting.
At first I was disappointed that the movie ended with such a predictable tragedy. After some reflection, I felt satisfied with it. One common theme in most zombie films is that even though there are monsters everywhere, man's greatest enemy is still his fellow man.
One thing that makes George Romero zombie movies stand out is that they all have a certain amount of social commentary.
There is some unpleasant gore at the end, but it is not as bad as some other zombie movies.
- You like zombie or horror movies.
- You are interested in the George Romero series.
Romero originally intended the movie to be a much more epic film, but couldn't get the funding for it. The film looks somewhat cheap, like a made for TV movie.
I could have done without all of the gory special effects. Every zombie movie has at least one scene where a massive hoard of zombies attacks people, but here they take the special effects to a new level by showing live people being ripped apart. The special effects are interesting in a clinical sort of way, but reality would be much messier. Therefore the gore in this film is more on the comic book level, although extreme, which almost makes it tolerable.
I have a problem with any movie where the characters spend a lot of time arguing with each other. Here the conflict is between a small group of scientists doing research in an underground bunker, and a small group of soldiers assigned to protect them. You would think that if these people thought that they might be last people on earth, that they would put aside their differences and band together to fight a common enemy, which is the zombies. Much of the conflict revolves around the head scientist and the head soldier, both of which have gone a little crazy.
The lead scientist is especially crazy because he has the wacky idea that he can train the zombies to be non-aggressive. The trouble with his theory is that the humans are outnumbered by a hundred million to one, so his chance of training all the zombies is nil. He actually makes progress with a captured zombie that he has nicknamed "Bob" (pictured), who oddly enough starts to develop a bit of a personality. Bob ends up being so interesting that he makes the movie almost worth seeing.
Despite all the flaws, I couldn't help but think that the movie is entertaining. It has a whopping 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. When the humans start to kill each other, there is a certain suspense in wanting to know how it turns out.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
The Muppet Movie finished the end credits with a surprise and was maybe the first movie to do so. Many other movies have since imitated this. I was disappointed that this film didn't do the same.
Check out the trailer here.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
I have the same problem…
Is there a place you can look that lists what currently is in the Netflix streaming catalog?
I’m not interested in scrolling in their interface. I want to see a list that I can browse by title or search. Is the list a secret from the competition (Apple)? You don’t know if something is available until you go look for it and see if it is or not? And that’s only after you signed up for the service?
I wanted to watch Titanic over the weekend but couldn’t figure out if it was in the streaming catalog or not. I got indicators that it was, but since I dropped streaming long ago I could not see what was in the catalog. Well my streaming is now active and I see that Titanic is not in the streaming catalog. PHFFT!
Monday, April 23, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
I found myself wondering what the point of the film was? The main character is in essence a super hero who goes around killing people with impunity. If he can't be killed, and he gets shot dozes of times without suffering any real harm, then where is the suspense in that? Well, it turns out that he has a vulnerability and the bad guys figure that out in the last 20 minutes of the movie. If it wasn't for this, then the story might have seemed flat.
Any action picture wouldn't be complete without a good cop and a bad cop and cute little girl thrown in, which makes the movie seem a little cheap, but it does give the movie a little variety. The movie works as a revenge picture because most of the characters are somewhat interesting. That includes the good guys and the bad guys and a couple characters who are a mixture of both.
Brandon's Lee's performance is good when he is being all Gothic and vengeful, but in a couple of moments where his character tries to just talk to people, his character seems inconsistently wimpy.
It is unfortunate that Brandon Lee died from a gun shot accident on the set of the film. After this tragic accident, his mother and fiance both supported the completion of the movie. Other actors were used to finish the incomplete parts of the movie.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
I like that Clooney only plays a supporting character. He plays a smooth politician who behind the scenes is a little less than holy. We get to experience Clooney's character through the eyes of Gosling's character, who starts out so full of hope, but soon gets a few hard lessons in reality.
The expression "Ides of March" literally means middle of March, but it can also refer to the betrayal and assassination of Julius Caesar. There is a whole lot of backstabbing that takes place in this movie. The movie is rated R only for language, but that strong language is there to illustrate that behind the scenes politicians are tough bastards who aren't afraid to get their hands a little dirty.
The ending is an extended shot of an actor's face like in Michael Clayton. It was a disaster in that movie and only barely works in this one. It can get a little dull, but at least in this film it has more of a point.
It seems to me that everything in this movie could apply to the current Republican primary race, but this movie is about Democrats. Everything I saw in the film made me think of Republicans, so why isn't the movie about Republicans? Either Clooney didn't want to play a Republican, or it was a deliberate decision to not infer anything about the people currently running for office. It might have been fun to see Clooney play a conservative for a change.
I notice that a portion of the movie takes place in Kentucky, as do many Clooney movies. Clooney is from Kentucky.
The movie makes a passing reference to "Operation Chaos."
Since George Clooney wrote and directed this film, I am starting to develop a new appreciation for his work. I might actually become a fan.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
1. A lurid love affair. Seems that everyone in this movie is interested in sex. Freud studies it and everyone else has it. The movie is not very graphic, no more than say "Titanic", and probably should have been rated PG-13 were it not for one naughty word.
2. An insightful history lesson about early psychoanalysis.
3. An extremely well acted and beautifully filmed period piece. I really like how well the actors portray these characters. Jung is frequently conflicted but subtly so. Freud seems determined to maintain some sort of superiority.
Near the end the movie seems to slow down a bit. I thought that maybe it was becoming too much of soap opera, but everything up to that point I found deeply fascinating. If you have no interest in history nor psychoanalysis then you might get a little bored.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
"The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" is the first movie in the remake of the Swedish trilogy. Since the movie still takes place in Sweeden, as far as I can tell the film is identical to the original in every scene except that the spoken language is English. Some critics still prefer the original, but both versions are a real visceral experience. The nastiness of the subject matter might turn off some people, but I think that everyone will agree that the movie is intense.
I can't wait for the sequel. I might just watch the Swedish sequel.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
The movie looks so realistic that you have to pay close attention to see that it is animated. This movie looks really good. The level of detail is beyond anything I have seen before in an animated film. There is a ton of detail that just flies by.
Occasionally the movie gets a touch silly just to remind us that the source material came from the comic pages. This is probably a kids film but I think that adults will enjoy it too.