Curtain Call

April 11, 2009

Effective immediately, I will no longer be reviewing movies on this site.

Future reviews will appear here.

End scene.

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I Love You, Man

March 27, 2009

i_love_you_man_movie_poster1I Love You, Man is the kind of comedy that a guy can take his serious girlfriend or wife to and still catch some major laughs while simultaneously catering (a bit) to her romantic comedy plot device needs and desires. For him: Vomit in the face gags and masturbation station jokes. For her: Relationship and wedding day drama. For both: The world’s most uncomfortable engagement party toast.

If you are a fan of films like The Forty Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, then I Love You, Man will be right in your comedy wheelhouse. There is a near perfect blend of crude, gross-out humor mixed with subtle yet subversive humor throughout. It was refreshing to see a functional (but not overly) nerdy lead character grow in a (mostly) natural way.

In addition to being laugh out funny in spots, I was very impressed that virtually all of the humor was culled from organic and realistic situations. Even the jokes involving the gay character weren’t stereotypically gay. Grade: A-

3300 BC

March 19, 2009

10000bc_poster1Wait! Before you get all judgmental on me, you need to realize that I knew this movie would suck major ass long before I committed even one second of my time to watching the ten-car pile-up named 10,000 BC. It was only due to my overactive sense of morbid curiosity that I sat down in front of the flat screen that morning last weekend.

Now that I’ve pleaded my case and begged for mercy from you, let me tell you what I thought about the film. Several words and phrases spring to mind: Horrible. Anachronistic. Colossal waste of money. Unachieved suspension of disbelief. Laughably unrealistic. Unintentionally humorous. Greedy studio force feeding the masses wooly mammoth shit disguised as the next big blockbuster. Pathetic, really.

I knew that I was in trouble early on when the cavemen were communicating to each other in friggin’ English. But when the main cavedude got trapped in that pit with the saber-toothed tiger and uttered the following words to the big kitty as he set it free, “You better not attack me,” and the cat didn’t eat him as a snack when freed, I had seen enough of 10,000 BC.

By my calculations, I had seen approximately one-third of this dreck before I pulled the proverbial plug. Being a former math teacher by trade, I quickly calculated about one-third of 10,000 and the new title of 3300 BC was born. Grade: D-

The Last House on the Left (2009)

March 18, 2009

last_house_on_the_left_movie_poster1Everything that you need to know about the basic plot of the 2009 remake of the seventies horror classic, The Last House on the Left, is written in the tag line on the bottom of the movie poster: “If bad people hurt someone you love, how far would you go to hurt them back?”

From those sixteen words, astute and observant movie-goers should be able to connect the dots and figure out that this film will, with nearly complete certainty, end in a absolute bloodbath. If you head to the local multiplex expecting anything less, prepare for disappointment.

TheĀ  funny thing about this movie is what wasn’t disappointing. The casting and acting was top-notch (for a splatter flick), the characters were fully developed and behaved in a (mostly) believable manner, and the camera work was creative and different. The combination of those three elements contributed to a well-paced and interesting movie.

And then there were the revenge killings. If that’s what you’re into sometimes at the movies, then let me tell you, from one desensitized weirdo to another, the bad guys really deserve what they get. From the garbage disposal to the microwave, the kitchen appliances really get a workout. Grade: B

Taking Chance

March 17, 2009

taking-chance-posterI have subscribed to Entertainment Weekly magazine for over a decade now. I’m a big fan. (My friend Katie calls EW her bible, so apparently she’s down, too). Anyhow, I received an email from the fine folks at EW about a month ago inviting me to attend a big screen premiere of the small screen production of the original HBO movie called Taking Chance. I ended up not going to the event, mainly because when Fehmeen, my wife, found out that the movie would be playing on HBO in a week, she refused to go with me, and partially because my Aunt Nancy invited me to a preview of The International the same night. Irregardless of anything, Taking Chance was on my must-see movie radar.

Fast forward in time about two weeks later and after a requisite check of my on-screen cable guide, I noticed that Taking Chance was set to begin in about five minutes. I hastily cleared my schedule (not that difficult a task considering I ain’t got shit to do these days) and settled in to the leathery comforts of the captain’s chair to watch the movie.

Less than eighty minutes later as the closing credits were rolling, I came to the unmistakable conclusion that this movie was a general disappointment overall. Perhaps my expectations were too inflated or my standards for execution too lofty but, for me, Taking Chance never really went were it could have.

The premise was sound: An ex-soldier/current Pentagon analyst played by Kevin Bacon chooses to escort the remains of a Marine killed in Iraq across the country and home to the soldier’s family. The tone was reverential: every single person the pair of soldiers encountered on their journey paid their respects.

But even with those two essential elements in place, the film just left me, I don’t know, unaffected in a way deeper than the explicitly obvious. Maybe it was the lack of a clear antagonist or perhaps I didn’t really perceive how Kevin Bacon’s character grew and changed as a result of his experience, the movie never really delivered in the way I’ve become accustomed to. Grade: C+

Se7en

March 10, 2009

dvd_106931I am a big fan of what I will call the lucky coincidence. Some examples of said phenomenon include walking into your favorite sandwich place at high noon and being the only customer in the store. Or finding a folded up twenty in the pocket of some pants you haven’t worn in awhile. Or turning on the television and discovering that a really great movie is only just beginning.

As good fortune would have it, I stumbled upon the opening credits of Se7en a few weeks ago as I was waiting for Ameer and J2 to come over for the infamous ‘Boys Night In’ gathering. Having at least an hour before their arrival, I hunkered down in the comf leather chair and began to watch.

I have seen Se7en about a half dozen times and I seem to enjoy it more each time I view it. I especially like watching the interplay between Morgan Freeman’s, Brad Pitt’s, and Kevin Spacey’s characters. The movie itself has a certain swagger to it, underlying it’s creepy undertones as the film races to it’s inevitable and unavoidable climax.

It was around this time that the fellas arrived. They took their seats around the room as my dad loitered in the kitchen. He started asking questions about what was happening and Ameer said that he sorta remembers the part where the guy delivers the girl’s head in the box at the exact time the delivery truck appears on the screen. Chalk it up to another lucky coincidence. Grade: B+

Watchmen

March 9, 2009

watchmen-1sht

If you are a collector of anything, be it shoes, records, paintings, or even salt and pepper shakers, then surely you understand the concept of staples. No, I’m not referring to the office supply chain store or the little silver metallic paper attachers, but rather the notion of the one item in your collection that is the cornerstone of that particular set of accumulated stuff. Basically, a staple is that one thing you can’t do without. Here are some of my staples: Book, JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye; CD, Guns n Roses’ Appetite for Destruction; DVD, Freaks and Geeks; and Graphic Novel, Watchmen.

So, when I got wind of the fact that they were making a Watchmen movie, I was excited and skeptical at the same time; stoked because they were finally turning the quintessential comic book series into a full-length feature film and nervous because if they effed it up, it would be completely fubar. From all the pre-release photos and articles I saw and read, it appeared to me that the filmmakers were faithful to the original source material and, by doing so, got the movie right. Of course, I felt somewhat obligated to personally verify my hunches and assertions at the theater. On opening weekend.

Just so you know, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. While I may or may not see it again in the theater, I will most certainly be purchasing the DVD when it comes out. It is, by far, the most complex and adult superhero drama ever filmed. Intricate in plot and satisfying in it’s resolution, the movie lived up to my lofty expectations and really delivered the goods.

Watchmen is not a movie for the faint of heart, though. Excessive and gory violence, an s-load of f-bombs, and even superhero sex help justify the film’s R rating, along with several shots of Dr Manhattan’s little blue skyscraper. It is also not a movie for those short of time: Watchmen clocks in at two hours and forty minutes.

If you are a fan of well made dramatic superhero flicks and you can handle some R rated mayhem, then by all means get yourself to a theater and check it out. Grade: A-

Quarantine

March 5, 2009

quarantine-movie-posterMy initial thoughts upon witnessing the opening sequence of this film was somewhat along the lines of, “did I just press the wrong button on my remote?” For all intents and purposes, the beginning of Quarantine looked a whole lot like one of those ‘Behind the Scenes’ featurettes that you get sometimes on dvd. In this particular instance, the movie begins with a female television reporter filming her introductory comments with her cameraman for her story about being embedded in an L.A. firehouse for the night. Since my expectations for this flick were non-existent (hell, I had never even heard of it before my brother-in-law suggested I rent it), it took me about fifteen minutes to acclimate myself to the Blair Witch Project filming style used throughout.

Unfortunately for the reporter, she chose the absolute wrong evening to shack up with this station of the FDLA because their first call of the night turns out to be the last call of their lives. You see, they end up at an apartment building that is ground zero for a foaming at the mouth while craving the taste of blood walking dead zombie infestation. Only they don’t realize it. Everyone else does, which is why they lock down and fortify the building, allowing no access in, or out.

Ultimately, everyone dies (sorry if I ruined it for you and you’re welcome for saving you the time and money of renting it) and none of the truly important questions are answered like: What caused the outbreak? or Was it contained? or Who recovered the footage? and Why are they allowing us to watch it? Grade: C-

Sex Drive

March 3, 2009

1 SHEET MASTER (CTP READY)Filed unmistakably under the category of teenagers looking for sex but instead they find love, but while they’re figuring that out, let’s be as crass, rude, and crude as possible so we can fill the other eighty-seven minutes kind of movie, Sex Drive aims to be the American Pie meets Road Trip of the moment. In that aspect, the filmmakers succeeded spectacularly. However, if they were trying to be funny, well, been there and done that.

I mean, just from the image on the right alone, I should have set the comedy bar about an inch or two higher than, say, Scary Movie, but I didn’t. Maybe I was distracted by my pizza, my Pepsi, my fresh baked brownies, and my drooping eyelids. Or maybe the movie just wasn’t very good or funny. Grade: C-

Pride and Glory

March 2, 2009

new-pride-and-glory-poster1Pride and Glory was one of three movies that I rented for a ‘Boy’s Night In’ event at my house this past weekend. (The other two were Sexdrive and Quarantine and their reviews are forthcoming).

While I vaguely recall seeing the previews for this film when it was in the theaters, it didn’t really interest me enough to take the time to actually watch it. And upon actually viewing it, I have to say that my initial gut feeling of ambivalence was correct.

Pride and Glory is a story about a family of NYPD cops, some of whom are corrupt and some of whom are not. The dilemma lies in whether or not the shady cops will right themselves and whether or not those who don’t will pay. I’ll spoil it for you: they do and they do.

It’s a fairly paint by numbers crooked cop flick with the only suspenseful moment being when Colin Farrell’s character was looking to get some ironing done. Grade: C+