Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Grace is Gone

Sometimes life throws something at us we can't handle, whether it be common or uncommon. Somethings happen that in time we must live through. The loss of a loved one is one of those times.

I have just seen a powerful, moving film called Grace is Gone starring John Cusack. "Grace" is the story of a man named Stanley. From the beginning of the film, you get the impression of a man who is just going through the motions of living his life, keeping his family stable, and working a job he really doesn't like while his wife does a tour in Iraq.

Stan is not very forthcoming in the spousal support group he is in and at times he can be a really mean dad to his two girls. But, as the film progresses, we begin to see a man who loves his children, and misses his wife desperately.

Upon the news of his wife's death (the news no family wishes to receive), Stan decides to take his children on a road trip instead of telling them outright that their mother would not be coming home. Stanley is a man who is disconnected from his life and his children emotionally. What could have unfolded into a bigger tragedy, instead becomes a journey of rediscovery and acceptance for Stanley. He is able to appreciate what he does have in this two girls and grow stronger as an individual.

This is a very touching film in many ways. It made think, especially, of the families that have to go through this everyday. One day this war is going to end (thank God), but for the families of loved ones on tours in Iraq and Afghanistan a part of them will be lost over there.

There is an organisation called TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors)and thankfully it exists for the families with loved ones lost in the war. Hopefully, we can all take time out in our own individual communities to help someone dealing with this profound loss.

The website is

The movie is called Grace is Gone and it is a privilege to see the film to reflect on our fallen heroes and making sure they are not forgotten is a worthy cause to become involved in.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Getting "Nailed"

I'm a huge fan of Jake Gyllenhaal, and have been keeping tabs on his latest film Nailed for a while. The concept of it is great. After a local waitress (played by Jessica Biel) has a nail driven into her skull in an accident, her personality changes drastically. She goes to Washington D.C. where her cause is supported by a young up-and-coming senator. Romance occurs. Awesome.
Too bad this movie keeps getting delayed! I'm fearing I'll never see it. So far, it's been shut down three time, mostly because they've run out of funds. The director, who previously did I Heart Huckabees, seems like he can't hold it together. I hope it doesn't end up like Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote, because Nailed sounds like a hit. It just goes to show how hard it is for independent filmmakers to get their voice out there. Even after the success of I Heart Huckabees, director David O. Russell still can't fund his movie. It's easier for veterans George Lucas and Stephen Speilberg to make the mediocre Indiana Jones than for Russell to make something that is probably much better than the summer blockbuster. I hope it gets made, because I think we all need a little more Jake in our lives.

RIP: Sidney Pollack July 1, 1934 - May 26, 2008

I don't know enough about Pollack to comment on him, but I believe his resume speaks for itself. He was an Actor, Director and Producer and one of Hollywoods finest talents. Check out this list of film credits, courtesy of

Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005)
The Interpreter (2005)
... aka Interprète, L' (France)

Random Hearts (1999)
Sabrina (1995)
... aka Sabrina (Germany)
The Firm (1993)
Havana (1990/I)

Out of Africa (1985)
Tootsie (1982)
Absence of Malice (1981)

The Electric Horseman (1979)
Bobby Deerfield (1977)
... aka Heaven Has No Favorites (Australia)
Three Days of the Condor (1975)
... aka 3 Days of the Condor (Australia)
The Yakuza (1974)
... aka Brotherhood of the Yakuza (UK: video title)
The Way We Were (1973)
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)
Castle Keep (1969)
The Swimmer (1968) (uncredited)
The Scalphunters (1968)
This Property Is Condemned (1966)
The Slender Thread (1965)
"Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre" (5 episodes, 1963-1965)
- The Game (1965) TV episode
- The Fliers (1965) TV episode
- Murder in the First (1964) TV episode
- Two Is the Number (1964) TV episode
- Something About Lee Wiley (1963) TV episode
"Kraft Suspense Theatre" (2 episodes, 1964-1965)
- The Last Clear Chance (1965) TV episode
- The Watchman (1964) TV episode
"Slattery's People" (1 episode, 1964)
- Question: What Became of the White Tortilla? (1964) TV episode
"The Fugitive" (1 episode, 1964)
- Man on a String (1964) TV episode
"Breaking Point" (1 episode, 1963)
- Solo for B-Flat Clarinet (1963) TV episode
"Ben Casey" (10 episodes, 1962-1963)
- For This Relief, Much Thanks (1963) TV episode
- Suffer the Little Children (1963) TV episode
- A Cardinal Act of Mercy: Part 2 (1963) TV episode
- A Cardinal Act of Mercy: Part 1 (1963) TV episode
- I'll Be Alright in the Morning (1963) TV episode
(5 more)
"The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" (2 episodes, 1962-1963)
- Diagnosis: Danger (1963) TV episode
- The Black Curtain (1962) TV episode
"The Defenders" (1 episode, 1963)
- Kill or Be Killed (1963) TV episode
"The Tall Man" (2 episodes, 1962)
- Phoebe (1962) TV episode
- Rio Doloroso (1962) TV episode
"Target: The Corruptors" (1 episode, 1962)
- The Wrecker (1962) TV episode
"Cain's Hundred" (1 episode, 1961)
- King of the Mountain (1961) TV episode

In Production
The Reader (2008) (filming) (producer)
Margaret (2008) (completed) (producer)

Recount (2008) (TV) (executive producer)
Leatherheads (2008) (executive producer)
The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (2008) (TV) (executive producer)
Michael Clayton (2007) (producer)
Breaking and Entering (2006) (producer)
Catch a Fire (2006) (executive producer)
... aka Au nom de la liberté (France)
Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005) (executive producer)
The Interpreter (2005) (executive producer)
... aka Interprète, L' (France)
Forty Shades of Blue (2005) (executive producer)
In the Name of Love (2003) (executive producer)
... aka Russian Wives (USA)
Cold Mountain (2003) (producer)
The Quiet American (2002) (executive producer)
... aka Stille Amerikaner, Der (Germany)
... aka The Spy (Philippines: English title)
Heaven (2002) (executive producer)
... aka Heaven (France) (Germany)
Iris (2001/I) (executive producer)
Birthday Girl (2001) (executive producer)
Blow Dry (2001) (executive producer)
... aka Über kurz oder lang (Germany)
Up at the Villa (2000) (executive producer)

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) (executive producer)
... aka The Mysterious Yearning Secretive Sad Lonely Troubled Confused Loving Musical Gifted Intelligent Beautiful Tender Sensitive Haunted Passionate Talented Mr. Ripley (USA: complete title)
Random Hearts (1999) (producer)
Poodle Springs (1998) (TV) (executive producer)
Sliding Doors (1998) (producer)
Bronx County (1998) (TV) (executive producer)
Sabrina (1995) (producer)
... aka Sabrina (Germany)
Sense and Sensibility (1995) (executive producer)
Flesh and Bone (1993) (executive producer)
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) (executive producer)
The Firm (1993) (producer)
"Fallen Angels" (1993) TV series (executive producer) (unknown episodes)
A Private Matter (1992) (TV) (executive producer)
... aka Miss Sherri (USA)
Leaving Normal (1992) (executive producer)
Dead Again (1991) (executive producer)
King Ralph (1991) (executive producer)
Havana (1990/I) (producer)
White Palace (1990) (executive producer)
Presumed Innocent (1990) (producer)

The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) (executive producer)
Bright Lights, Big City (1988) (producer)
Out of Africa (1985) (producer)
Sanford Meisner: The American Theatre's Best Kept Secret (1985) (executive producer)
Songwriter (1984) (producer)
Tootsie (1982) (producer)
Absence of Malice (1981) (producer)
Honeysuckle Rose (1980) (executive producer)
... aka On the Road Again (USA: reissue title)

Bobby Deerfield (1977) (producer)
... aka Heaven Has No Favorites (Australia)
The Yakuza (1974) (producer)
... aka Brotherhood of the Yakuza (UK: video title)

Made of Honor (2008) .... Thomas Bailey Sr.
... aka Made of Honour (Australia) (UK)
"Under the Influence with Elvis Mitchell" (2008) TV series .... Guest
Michael Clayton (2007) .... Marty Bach
"The Sopranos" .... Warren Feldman (1 episode, 2007)
- Stage 5 (2007) TV episode .... Warren Feldman
"Will & Grace" .... George Truman (4 episodes, 2000-2006)
- Blanket Apology (2006) TV episode .... George Truman
- Cheatin' Trouble Blues (2002) TV episode .... George Truman
- Cheaters (2001) TV episode .... George Truman
- Oh Dad, Poor Dad, He's Kept Me in the Closet and I'm So Sad (2000) TV episode .... George Truman
Fauteuils d'orchestre (2006) .... Brian Sobinski
... aka Orchestra Seats (Canada: English title: festival title) (UK)
... aka Avenue Montaigne (USA)
The Interpreter (2005) (uncredited) .... Jay Pettigrew
... aka Interprète, L' (France)
Changing Lanes (2002) .... Stephen Delano
The Majestic (2001) (voice) .... Studio Executive
"Fling" .... Elizabeth's Husband (1 episode)
- Pilot (????) TV episode .... Elizabeth's Husband
"King of the Hill" .... Grant Trimble (1 episode, 2000)
- Transnational Amusements Presents: Peggy's Magic Sex Feet (2000) TV episode (voice) .... Grant Trimble

Random Hearts (1999) .... Carl Broman
Eyes Wide Shut (1999) .... Victor Ziegler
... aka EWS (USA: promotional abbreviation)
A Civil Action (1998) .... Al Eustis
"Mad About You" .... Dr. Sydney Warren (1 episode, 1998)
- Cheating on Sheila (1998) TV episode .... Dr. Sydney Warren
"Frasier" .... Holden Thorpe (1 episode, 1994)
- The Candidate (1994) TV episode (voice) .... Holden Thorpe
Husbands and Wives (1992) .... Jack
Death Becomes Her (1992) (uncredited) .... E.R. Doctor
The Player (1992) .... Dick Mellon

Tootsie (1982) (uncredited) .... George Fields

The Electric Horseman (1979) (uncredited) .... Man who makes pass at Alice

"The New Breed" .... Austin Rogers / ... (2 episodes, 1961-1962)
- Walk This Street Lightly (1962) TV episode .... Bert Masters
- The Compulsion to Confess (1961) TV episode .... Austin Rogers
War Hunt (1962) .... Sgt. Owen Van Horn
"Ben Casey" (1 episode, 1962)
- Monument to an Aged Hunter (1962) TV episode
"The Asphalt Jungle" .... Louie (1 episode, 1961)
- The Professor (1961) TV episode .... Louie
"The Deputy" .... Chuck Johnson (1 episode, 1961)
- Spoken in Silence (1961) TV episode .... Chuck Johnson
"Have Gun - Will Travel" .... Joe Gulp (2 episodes, 1961)
- Quiet Night in Town: Part 2 (1961) TV episode .... Joe Gulp
- Quiet Night in Town: Part 1 (1961) TV episode .... Joe Gulp
"The Twilight Zone" .... Arthur Willis (1 episode, 1960)
... aka The Twilight Zone: The Original Series (Australia)
... aka Twilight Zone (USA: new title)
- The Trouble with Templeton (1960) TV episode .... Arthur Willis
"Alfred Hitchcock Presents" .... Bernie Samuelson (1 episode, 1960)
- The Contest for Aaron Gold (1960) TV episode .... Bernie Samuelson

"The United States Steel Hour" .... Benson (1 episode, 1959)
- The Case of Julia Walton (1959) TV episode .... Benson
"Brenner" (1 episode, 1959)
- Family Man (1959) TV episode
"Playhouse 90" .... Andres (2 episodes, 1959)
- For Whom the Bell Tolls: Part 2 (1959) TV episode .... Andres
- For Whom the Bell Tolls: Part 1 (1959) TV episode .... Andres

Miscellaneous Crew:
Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) (consultant)

The Turn of the Screw (1959) (TV) (dialogue director)

Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005)

Stephanie Daley (2006) (very special thanks)
Budd Boetticher: An American Original (2005) (V) (special thanks)
Budd Boetticher: A Man Can Do That (2005) (TV) (special thanks)

The Way We Were: Looking Back (1999) (V) (the producers wish to thank)

Lost Kubrick: The Unfinished Films of Stanley Kubrick (2007) (V) .... Himself
Great Bolshy Yarblockos! Making 'A Clockwork Orange' (2007) (V) .... Himself
View from the Overlook: Crafting 'The Shining' (2007) (V) .... Himself
Standing on the Shoulders of Kubrick: The Legacy of 2001 (2007) (V) .... Himself
Vision of a Future Passed: The Prophecy of 2001 (2007) (V) .... Himself
The Visions of Stanley Kubrick (2007) (V) .... Himself
"Entourage" .... Himself (1 episode, 2007)
- No Cannes Do (2007) TV episode .... Himself
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Greatest Movies: 10th Anniversary Edition (2007) .... Himself
"Sunday Morning Shootout" .... Himself (3 episodes, 2005-2007)
- Sydney Pollack/John Lesher/Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu/Abigail Breslin/Michael Arndt/Alan Arkin (2007) TV episode .... Himself
- Best of 'D' (2006) TV episode .... Himself
- Episode #3.6 (2005) TV episode .... Himself
2006 BAFTA/LA Cunard Britannia Awards (2006) (TV) .... Himself
"Jour de fête" .... Himself (1 episode, 2006)
- Episode dated 24 October 2006 (2006) TV episode .... Himself
"Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher" .... Himself (1 episode, 2006)
- Episode #1.4 (2006) TV episode .... Himself
Boffo! Tinseltown's Bombs and Blockbusters (2006) .... Himself
"American Masters" .... Narrator (1 episode, 2006)
- John Ford/John Wayne: The Filmmaker and the Legend (2006) TV episode .... Narrator
Cineastes en acció (2005) .... Himself
... aka Cineastas en acción (Spain: Castilian title)
"Biography" .... Himself (3 episodes, 2000-2005)
- Marlon Brando: The Agony of Genius (2005) TV episode .... Himself
- Jessica Lange: On Her Own Terms (2001) TV episode .... Himself
- Robert Redford: Hollywood Outlaw (2000) TV episode .... Himself
Sketches of Frank Gehry (2005) .... Himself
One Six Right (2005) .... Himself
"The Hollywood Greats" .... Himself (1 episode, 2005)
... aka Hollywood Greats (USA: new title)
- Jane Fonda (2005) TV episode .... Himself
Cineastas contra magnates (2005) .... Himself
"Tout le monde en parle" .... Himself (1 episode, 2005)
- Episode dated 28 May 2005 (2005) TV episode .... Himself
"HARDtalk Extra" .... Himself (1 episode, 2005)
- Sydney Pollack (2005) TV episode .... Himself
"HBO First Look" .... Himself (2 episodes, 1999-2005)
- The Interpreter (2005) TV episode .... Himself
- The Making of 'Random Hearts' (1999) TV episode .... Himself
The Last Mogul (2005) .... Himself
... aka The Last Mogul: Life and Times of Lew Wasserman (USA: long title)
The Needs of Kim Stanley (2005)
Männer im Trenchcoat, Frauen im Pelz (2004) (TV) .... Himself
Im freien Fall - Tom Tykwer und das Kino (2004) .... Himself
E! Entertainment Special: Tom Cruise (2004) (TV) .... Himself
Climbing 'Cold Mountain' (2004) (V) .... Himself
AFI Tribute to Meryl Streep (2004) (TV) .... Himself
Something About Sydney Pollack (2004) (TV) .... Himself
A Dying Breed: The Making of 'The Leopard' (2004) (V) .... Himself
Biography Special: The Fondas (2004) (TV) .... Himself
The Words and Music of 'Cold Mountain' (2003) (TV) .... Himself
A Journey to 'Cold Mountain' (2003) (TV) .... Himself
Nicole Kidman: An American Cinematheque Tribute (2003) (TV) .... Himself
Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (2003) .... Narrator
The Score (2003) (TV) .... Himself
A Decade Under the Influence (2003) .... Himself
More About the Condor (2003) (V) .... Himself
I Love New York (2002) (TV) .... Himself
"Bravo Profiles" .... Himself (1 episode, 2002)
- Dustin Hoffman (2002) TV episode .... Himself
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions (2002) (TV) .... Himself
Sydney Pollack y la generación del compromiso (2001) (TV) .... Himself
"Anatomy of a Scene" .... Himself - Executive Producer (1 episode)
- The Quiet American (????) TV episode .... Himself - Executive Producer
"The Ray Martin Show" .... Himself (1 episode, 2001)
- Episode #1.7 (2001) TV episode .... Himself
Dino De Laurentiis: The Last Movie Mogul (2001) (TV) .... Himself
"The Essentials" (2001) TV series .... Himself (unknown episodes)
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001) .... Himself
"Omnibus" .... Himself (1 episode, 2000)
- John Barry: Licence to Thrill (2000) TV episode .... Himself
Hollywood, D.C. (2000) (TV) .... Himself
AFI's 100 Years, 100 Laughs: America's Funniest Movies (2000) (TV) .... Himself
"Just Shoot Me!" .... Himself (1 episode, 2000)
- A&E Biography: Nina Van Horn (2000) TV episode .... Himself
The Orange British Academy Film Awards (2000) (TV) .... Himself
A Song of Africa (2000) (V) .... Himself
Lost Angeles - Eine Stadt zwischen Traum und Trauma (2000) .... Himself

"Mundo VIP" .... Himself (1 episode, 1999)
- Show nº182 (1999) TV episode .... Himself
"The Directors" .... Himself (2 episodes)
- The Films of Anthony Minghella (????) TV episode .... Himself
- The Films of Sydney Pollack (????) TV episode .... Himself
Inside 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' (1999) (V) .... Himself
The Way We Were: Looking Back (1999) (V) .... Himself - Director
Independent's Day (1998) (TV) .... Himself
Burt Lancaster: Daring to Reach (1997) (TV) .... Producer
The Directors: Sydney Pollack (1997) (V) .... Himself
"American Cinema" .... Himself (1 episode)
- The Hollywood Style (????) TV episode .... Himself
"Inside the Actors Studio" .... Himself (1 episode, 1994)
- Episode #1.12 (1994) TV episode .... Himself
Willie Nelson: The Big Six-0 (1993) (TV) .... Himself
John Barry: Moviola (1993) (TV) .... Himself
"Naked Hollywood" (1991) TV mini-series .... Himself

Hello Actors Studio (1988) (TV) .... Himself
One Voice (1986) (TV) (uncredited) .... Himself/Audience Member
The 58th Annual Academy Awards (1986) (TV) .... Himself - Winner: Best Picture & Best Director
Sanford Meisner: The American Theatre's Best Kept Secret (1985) .... Himself
Putting It Together: The Making of the Broadway Album (1985) (V) .... Himself
The Making of 'Absence of Malice' (1982) (TV) .... Himself

The Men Who Made the Movies: Howard Hawks (1973) (TV) (voice) .... Narrator
The Saga of Jeremiah Johnson (1972) .... Himself

The Moviemakers (1969) (uncredited) .... Himself (director)

Archive Footage:
Cámara negra. Teatro Victoria Eugenia (2007) (TV) .... Himself

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I know I am a little behind on this one. Truthfully, I had pysched myself up to the notion that this was already going to be a bad film. Which is why I just saw it a few hours ago.

"You don't even find out what Cloverfield means Jackie."
"Where does the monster even come from?"

and my personal favorite

"It is too much like the Blair Witch Project."

Well, all of these can be said about this film, it's storyline and marketing of it.
But, was it a bad movie? In my opinion, no, it was not. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, and scared shitless too.

Yes, we do have a bizarre camera angled Blair Witch feel to it. But unlike the Blair Witch Project, we actually grow to care about the characters. We see the palpable source of all the commotion destroying the world around them. And, we see actors at the top of their game working with very little to go on.

I cared about the characters, ok? I liked this movie, ok?

I didn't love it. I would have liked to have known where the monster came from and why it targeted New York City. And why the hell the movie is called CLOVERFIELD?
But too much information would have ruined a film like this. This film literally ran on the fear of the unknown.

It was intelligently rendered, and the pay off was a shivering good time.

Very little blood, Just like HALLOWEEN.
No name actors with (hopefully) bright futures. Like HALLOWEEN
and an unstoppable evil bent on destroying everything in it's way. HALLOWEEN

That's a better way to look at this picture, now isn't it?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Review: Speed Racer

The following is a reprint of my review of "Speed Racer", for the DePaulia, due to be published Friday:

By now, you probably know whether or not you’re going to see “Speed Racer”. The trailers have left no room for misconceptions, at any rate; the entire movie looks like the original Japanese cartoon of same name, if the Rainbow Road track from “Mario Kart 64” exploded all over it. My only request is that if you have already written this movie off, give it a chance.

I won’t spend a lot of time dissecting the plot, for there really isn’t much; the film follows the titular character (Emile Hirsch, as far from last year’s “Into The Wild” as he could possibly get) as he negotiates the treacherous world of racing, which here is the term for both organized racing (the courses for which look like something out of a Hot Wheels catalog) and the “seedy” world of rally racing (equally Hot Wheels-esque, but much more dangerous). With the help of his Mom and Pops (Susan Sarandon and John Goodman), along with his girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci), Speed does his best to overthrow the dishonest, cheater-favoring racing world with a mixture of hard work, ingenuity and the occasional dangerous driving maneuver.

The Wachowski brothers (the minds behind the “Matrix” trilogy) find great success here in what is, for them, a new arena: the family movie. They have, with this film, solidified their ability to create movies that seem to spring from feverish fantasies. With the “Matrix” films, they created the ultimate geek fantasy: an average guy who becomes a digital messiah by plugging into his computer. Here, they’ve managed to give vision to what every little kid who played with toy cars used to imagine: racing at impossibly high speeds while using tools and weapons that can exist only in the imagination.

In addition, the visuals themselves are stunning. For those trying to justify the idea that big screen movies will one day cease to exist, and can be replaced by an expensive home theater system, this is a compelling argument to the contrary. This is the very definition of eye candy, with fire engine reds, ocean blues and every other vibrant color imaginable onscreen, no matter how mundane the scene.

Many critics have lit into this movie on the grounds that it has a thin plot, undeveloped characters, exists only for little boys with no attention spans, and so on. This is the problem with most film critics; they spend so much time waiting for the next Significant Movie to come along that they refuse to take a film such as this as pure spectacle and fun. I would like to think that many of these critics, as kids, watched a movie like this, by way of “Star Wars” or some other summer epic of the recent past, and were blown away. The fact that they have since been inundated with the idea that “good films” cannot be like this is no excuse for losing that sense of wonder.

Is “Speed Racer” going to win any Oscars next year? Probably not. However, for what it is, it is a triumph.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Film Review: Descent

Disclaimer: This movie has an NC-17 rating and you must be at 18 years of age to rent.

Thus began this blogger's personal film odyssey.

The movie DESCENT stars Rosario Dawson (who also help produce)as a shy and socially repressed college student. She goes to a party and meets Jared, a smooth talker who seems very much into her.

When they go out on their first dinner date, everything seems to go smoothly. They are getting along fine, and she is laughing and smiling. He seems funny and harmless. Then they go to his place and he rapes her.

Thus, begins her character's descent (hense the title of the film). She becomes emotionally shut down, begins to drink heavily and experiment with drugs and sex at a seedy night club.

However, it is also in this place and in her descent that she gains character and a greater uninhibited strength. But, the price she pays for this is very high in that she loses her innocence and sense of self.

The rape scenes (yes there are 2 rapes in this film) are hard to watch, but fundamentally and functionally are integral to the film's plot. When the Agressor (JARED) becomes the victim, we see the act of rape for what it is--a tool to exhibit control over someone. It is about power, and the harsh reality of this is that these types of things happen to people almost everyday.

It is also interesting when I think back too my emotions during the film. As disgusting as these acts were I couldn't look away. This was a character I felt empathy for and could understand. She did not deserve what happened to her, but did she have the right to take revenge and control the way she did?

That is left up to the audience as a single tear falls down the girl's cheek in the last scene. We are also left to wonder how low can the human spirit fall before it is irredeemable? This was a good movie and it is not for everyone.

Rosario Dawson is an accomplished actress. She can play almost any character in any situation. From Sin City to Rent to Clerks 2, Rosario has it going on.

WTF?!: Donnie Darko 2

My roommate is obsessed with Perez Hilton and his blog. I often come home from work and she has some interesting Hollywood tidbit about so-and-so and a sex tape and I tell her to read a book. But last night, as I typed away on my laptop, she called for me to come into her room. "I have something for you to read, and you're not going to like it!" My ears perked, and I scurry over to her room.

And there it is, just sitting there on her huge-ass Mac screen. They're making a Donnie Darko 2. Why God, why of all the moderate success stories in Hollywood you have to make a sequel to my movie? Donnie Darko is the film that got me into studying film on a critical level. And now stupid-ass people have decided to shove a knife into my back and produce S. Darko, a story about Donnie's little sister Samantha and her bestest buddy on a road trip. And they see weird shit! Maybe even huge bunny rabbits named Frank! No Richard Kelly, no Jake. I don't even know what to do or say about this project. I'm just saying, this is the same studio that plans to produce a film called Garfield's Fun Fest. I kind of want to throw up all over it and then cry in a corner.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Second Endorsement for Iron Man

Jacqueline pretty much said it all.

After last seeing Robert Downey, Jr in "Always Charlie" I was certain he'd be old and falling apart by now (that's a dramatization) but like most hollywood stories the old is the new and in that philosophy we only get better by age ("like the women of Yorkshire"). He played the arrogant asshole well enough to make the audience just adore him. Its funny how you can relate fondly to such a character, but as Pepper brought to light, maybe Tony Stark does have a heart.

I think 'heart' is what some Action movies skip, and -as we found out from the third spiderman installation- that some have too much. Iron Man had plenty of action and the latter. This film was not only entertaining and adventurous, it had plenty of political commentary, which if done correctly, will enhance the overall experience. The fact that the script didn't rely on a love interest sets it apart from other films of its nature. As my friend would say, Iron Man did everything a super hero movie doesn't do. I mean really, where's the sex scene? Joke.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

IRON MAN is da Bomb!

I just saw Iron Man with Robert Downey Jr, Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jeff Bridges, and I was blown away by the fact that it was actually a entertaining film.

The story of billionaire playboy turned superhero is not unfamiliar to todays movie going audience (Hello Batman). Robert's portrayal of Stark is true to comic and life. He is a sarcastic, flirtatious, and brutally magnetic (meaning cute). I actually found myself checking out Robert Downey Jr's butt in a few scenes. I mean, he was totally buff and hot.

Anyway, the storyline: Tony Stark, boy genius turned jet setting billionare, is kidnapped by Afgani terrorist who try to use him to make a weapon. Stark is mortally wounded in the capture, and must wear a battery operated magnate in his chest to keep the shrapnel from his heart.

He creates a suite of armor that allows him to be able to defeat the terrorist and escape. However, his real enemy (played by Jeff Bridges), lies at the homefront.

All ready with a crisis of conscience, Stark decides to give up making weapons all together. He forages a better suite and uses it to fight those who would use his technology for injustice.

Ok. That synopsis sucked. I still have visions of Robert Downey Jr's body in my head. I am such a girl.

Anyway, the chemistry between Gwyneth and Robert on screen is very organic. The seem to have a natural reporte with one another. Terrence Howard is a great actor, but should have been allowed more screen time and more lines. He used his supporting actor role time well however.

The special effects were off the chain (that means great). Iron Man in the sky being chased by F-14s is as memorable as any car chase I have ever seen on screen.

The movie is a lot of fun. Go see it and have a blast.

Don't take it serious if you are not into comic books. And if you are, hey, it is better than all the X pictures and THE SHADOW and John Woo's HULK.

By the way, look for the INCREDIBLE HULK Trailer starring Liv Tyler and Edward Norton (another man I fantasize about).

Monday, May 5, 2008

Film Trailer: Pineapple Express

The year's best (so far)

The one thing that never ceases to depress me about year-end best-of lists is that any film released before September is forgotten come awards season. Even worse is the fact that, generally, any film released between the end of awards season (early January) and the start of the summer movie season (the first weekend of May) is ultimately forgotten by the vast majority of moviegoers. Normally, this is because movies released during that time are terrible, and these months have the stigma of being Hollywood's "dump months", meant only to eradicate useless movies that would die even faster against legitmate competition. So, now that the summer is underway, I thought it prudent to highlight some of the solid films that have graced 2008 so far. (Note: I've seen "Iron Man" twice already, and fantastic though it may be, the point of this exercise is to get people to see movies that didn't make $100 million in the opening weekend. Congrats on that, though.)

The following are listed in alphabetical order:

The Band's Visit - This is the kind of film that, if you'd tell your friend it's great and they asked what it's about, you wouldn't have the slightest clue how to respond, because it's not about anything in particular. Essentially, it follows an Egyptian police band (the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, to be exact) over the course of one day and night in Israel, after they are abandoned at the airport, sent to the wrong town by the young woman at the information desk and forced to rely on the hospitality of total strangers. A lot of critics made much ado about the idea of the citizens of two notoriously rivaled countries interacting, but that's reading far too much into it. The film is gentle and funny without trying to make any sort of statement; there are no major comedic setpieces, but a lot of laughs, and a lot of quiet truths that emerge throughout the evening, particularly regarding the idea of being passed by, by the rest of the world. The band interacts with the locals, experiences the nightlife (that term being used very loosely) and briefly fall in love, and are on their way the next day. Like I said, nothing of particular consequence, but entirely meaningful all the same.

The Bank Job - I worry about Jason Statham sometimes. For every stellar action film he appears in (most notably "Crank", which might be the wildest movie of its kind ever made), he seems to take a lot of paycheck movies, the most egregious of which would be the most recent Uwe Boll abortion "In The Name Of The King". However, if "The Bank Job" is any indication, he won't be turning into the next Steven Seagal anytime soon. Being that I enjoyed this a lot more going in completely cold, I'll try not to ruin it, but I will say this much: The film starts off with a fairly generic premise (a quirky band of thieves take on an out-of-their-league bank heist; complications ensue), but delightfully, elevates itself above such cliches. This is mainly because the heist itself is merely the catalyst for a wild tale (that according to the film, is at least somewhat based on actual events) involving porn kings, black supremacists, corrupt cops, a high-class brothel and English royalty. The film refuses to go where you think it's headed, making the ride there all the more enjoyable.

Be Kind Rewind - As unfair expectations go, this film was saddled with some of the most severe before it even had a trailer. This is due to the fact that Michel Gondry is still being held to the standards of "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind", and has (according to many) failed to meet them. That film was a once-in-a-career masterwork, and since then, Gondry has indulged his more whimsical side, first with 2006's underrated "The Science Of Sleep" and now with "Be Kind Rewind". Pegged with the cruel writeoff of "cute", "Rewind" is essentially a story about the magic of movies, and the transformative power of old-fashioned kindness. Those who could only speak about the film's "potential" or its cliches missed the point by a mile: the film was an homage to a time long past, when movies were a truly magical experiences and jaded cineastes didn't exist, at least in the droves they do now. In the beginning, Jerry (Jack Black) and Mike (Mos Def) are simply trying to keep their video store afloat by remaking (or "sweding") the movies on the shelves, but by the end, the entire neighborhood has come together to make their own. Despite the PG-13 rating (for some sight gags no worse than anything on the Disney Channel at this point), this might be the best childrens' movie to come out in years.

Cloverfield - Okay, so a lot of people know about "the little monster movie that could", but there was a little hiccup. After a stellar opening weekend, business tailed off. Was it because of the cryptic advertising? The destruction of New York City, seemingly allegorical to 9/11? The camera work, so shaky that most theaters started posting warnings at ticket booths? The reports of people leaving the film with motion sickness? More than anything, I think this got written off as a gimmick due to people failing to recognize how genius of a film this really was. Think about it: there is a dearth of information related to the monster's origins, species, etc., but within the context of the film's established rules, it makes perfect sense. The very first frame of the film tells us that what we are about to see is merely one documentation of an event, as seen through the eyes (and lens) of one group of people. Therefore, we listen to the people talk about pointless things in the throes of panic, we see them make bad choices out of fear and/or self-preservation and we are just as much in the dark as they are, discovering information only as they do, and often only as it's too late. One other issue people took with it: the incredibly bleak climax, which is as haunting and genuinely touching an ending as I've seen in a movie in quite some time. Hopefully, this movie will catch on as time elapses, and more people start to understand exactly what was being done with it.

Doomsday - Before you raise an eyebrow at this one, hear me out. Neil Marshall, on the heels of his nightmarish gem "The Descent", decided to take the action route, and much like with the previous film, decided to wear his influences on his sleeve. Much like Richard Kelly's following of "Donnie Darko" with the gonzo epic "Southland Tales", Marshall swings for the fences, and how far he gets really depends on who's watching the movie. The film is hilarious and brutal, sometimes alternately, sometimes not, and more or less exists for a small sect of people who are going to burn holes in their DVD copies of it. The film takes place in three distinct acts: Act One, where a group of mercanaries led by Rhona Mitra enters a quarantined area of Scotland, ravaged by a deadly virus, only to find survivors; Act Two, where the mercanaries are ransacked by said survivors and those remaining are dragged into a neo-gothic underworld; and Act Three, where the even fewer remaining are whisked away to a medieval castle to confront the madman behind it all. Oh, and the film ends with a car chase. Now, if Acts One and Two sounded uncannily like "28 Days Later" and "The Road Warrior", you're right. Don't know why Act Three is there? That's okay. The film switches tones every ten minutes or so, and when put with an action movie, it works. Also, the aforementioned car chase? It easily rivals the ending of last year's "Death Proof" as the best in the last twenty years or so.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall - The fact that this hasn't yet caught on the way that "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" did last year is a shame, because this is funnier than the former and just as great as the latter. In Judd Apatow's latest chapter of his crusade to turn semi-attractive pop culture geeks into sex symbols, regular supporting star Jason Segal is front and center as the TV music composer who flees to Hawaii to escape the titular ex-girlfriend, only to find out she's beaten him there. On a personal level, this is my favorite film of the year so far, in no small part due to Segal, who is absolutely fearless here. Disregarding his already-infamous full-frontal nudity throughout the film, he is also sweet and flawed as the jilted boyfriend fighting to recover, and spends much of the film crying hysterically and binge drinking; it is a measure of how good he is in this film that we find him endearing in light of such behavior. He is also surrounded by stellar co-stars. Kristen Bell, normally so charming in any role, is much less so as Sarah, but manages to pull off the tricky balancing act of switching between sympathetic and enraging, sometimes in the same scene. Mila Kunis is as gorgeous and desirable as movie characters get here, as a hotel employee who leads the charge to save Segal's heart, and British comedian Russell Brand steals every scene he's in as the pompous rock star who catches Sarah on the rebound. Given more space, I would throw accolades at every supporting actor in the film, but suffice it to say that when Richard Roeper stated that he wanted to get down on his knees and proclaim his undying love for this movie, he wasn't too far off.

In Bruges - Imagine a Wes Anderson movie on downers and cynicism, and you're about halfway to understanding just how bizarre "In Bruges" is. The film starts off like a bad joke: Two assassins, one a childish prick (Colin Farrell, in his best performance to date) and the other mellowed by middle age (Brendan Gleeson), are sent to hide in a quaint little town after a hit gone wrong. The town is Bruges, Belgium, a dreamy medieval town and popular tourist destination. Their instructions are simple: Enjoy yourselves, and lay low. They fail at both spectacularly, and soon find themselves involved with a mysterious young woman, a European art film and a dwarf with a penchant for prostitutes and horse tranquilizers. And that's before their boss (Ralph Fiennes) shows up to deal with them. Irish playwright Martin McDonaugh makes his full-length film debut here, and the devilish wit he displays in his plays is ramped up tenfold. The film is at turns gorgeous, hysterical, heartbreaking and incredibly violent, and even as the situation unravels and the bodies start piling up, the wit never disappears; it just requires you to find comedy in the unfunny, which isn't as hard as you'd think.

Snow Angels - Every so often, a movie comes along that seems totally unremarkable during a viewing, and only later emerges as poignant and memorable. This is definitely one of those movies. Character studies are often laborious or too simple for their genre, but here we get several, all done well. There is the story of a woman working in a local restaurant to support her daughter, whose ex-husband refuses to abide her requests to stay out of her life. There is the story of a young teenager forced to cope both with his parents' divorce and a crush on the quirky new girl in school. Their lives cross in and out of one another, but unlike a film such as "Crash", there is no pondering of fate or chance or human connection; the entire story unfolds in a small town, where it is entirely plausible that everybody knows everybody, and that nobody can keep a secret for very long. Director David Gordon Green handles the material at hand well; he does not push us toward a particular conclusion about any of the characters, but rather, allows us to judge them however we see fit, good or bad.
(Side note: Green's next film will be hitting theatres in August: "The Pineapple Express", a film that, if the trailers are any indication, could not be any more different from this.)

The Spiderwick Chronicles - At last, another valuable addition to the pantheon of "kid" movies made more for parents than their kids. Like "The Goonies", "Spiderwick" is a bit morbid for its target audience, but is all the better for it. Freddie Highmore plays twin brothers uprooted from their home in mid-divorce and taken to live in a secluded house, where they discover a book that tells them about a magical world right around them, that they can only see when they look for it. However, soon the wonder of this new world turns to terror as an evil creature (played, in a bit of irony to be appreciated, by Nick Nolte) threatens to kill their family if they keep the book. The film is, for a PG rating, incredibly dark (When's the last time a boy hero stabbed his father in the chest in any movie, let alone one aimed at kids?), but this only helps to give the film a life beyond a certain classification. This is one of those movies, like "The Goonies" or even "Jumanji" that will mean a lot more to the kids who see it now in ten years or so.

Teeth - Allow me to just throw all my cards on the table upfront: Yes, "Teeth" is what you've probably heard of as the "killer vagina movie". And yes, the movie is, in a sense, about just that. However, in another sense, it's also about the importance of sexual discretion and the dangers of exploiting young women, among other things. In both regards, the film works. If taken as pure shock cinema, this is as shocking as you can get, with B-grade monster movie sound effects, numerous shots of stumps where a penis should reside and even a dog ingesting one at one point. Should you choose to go the allegorical route, the film is a potent tale of being at once intrigued by and afraid of sex, and all the potential consequences. This is one fact I cannot stress enough. Jess Weixler, at Dawn, moderates her role with a sense of innocence; she is afraid of sex because of the dangers involved for her lovers, but is simultaneously surrounded by those looking to exploit her, at seemingly every turn. No matter how you slice it, this is solid horror filmmaking.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Shivering with antici.......pation

I'm currently watching Raiders of the Lost Ark on VHS (yeah, I still have some of those) and am as giddy as a school girl about Indiana Jones. Even though I'm half paying attention to it, I still find myself chiming in with the dialogue, making mock punches and Indiana knocks out a Nazi. All the while bullshitting a final paper for my speech class.

Really I just wanted to say, I don't care how old Harrison Ford is, or how much I disliked Mr. Even Stevens, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will rock as long as there's enough Nazi paraphernalia to go around.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Film Review: Juno

Sometimes a film comes along that is surprisingly good and makes you feel good for paying for it in the first place.

I have heard all the hype about the movie. Did JUNO live up to all of it? Yes it did.

From start to finish, Juno was entertaining, introspective, humorous, dramatic and ultimately triumphant.

Not the typical tale of teen angst with dick and fart jokes like American Pie, JUNO tackles the real issue of teenage pregnancy with a bite of irony and wit that is both charming and refreshing.

In the movie, sixteen year old Juno (played by Ellen Page) gets bored and has sex with her boyfriend for the first time. (Having sex with your boyfriend simply because you are bored is a new one for me. I seen alot of these movies. Usually the girl is pressured into it or wants to be cool--whatever the hell that means.)
The result is an unwanted change a pace that lasts nine months and in other such films usually ends in marriage, or heartbreak, or worse.

Juno, is unusually bright and mature for her age. She tells her best friend, calls a clinic, and then tells her boyfriend (Who is strangely supportive.) She decides against abortion after visiting the clinic, deciding that it was too much like the dentist office.

She finds a young affluent couple in the newspaper (played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) that want to adopt a child, and opts to give her baby to them. Then she tells her parents.

Isn't that something.

No where to run to and no where to hide, and she tells her parents anyway. Not your typical teen movie. Not your typical teen life. Juno is not your 'typical' teenager.

Juno deals with different things in this movie that life throws at her with humor. The one lesson a person could take from this film: life does go on while you are pregnant. Not only your life but the lives of the people around you will be changed. Juno is still young and naive. Her outlook and ego take a blow to the head when her boyfriend goes to prom with someone else and the couple she picked to adopt her child teeters off the brink toward divorce.

No major happy ending here, however. In real life, there are no real happy endings. But, life does go on and there is always a new beginning. That is the second lesson I took from this film.

I believe that Diablo Cody's screenplay and Jason Reitman's direction allow for one to take a myriad of lessons and learnings to heart when watching the film.

Juno is a character that one can believe in because one can look on that movie screen and see themselves.

Usually, I am writing the HORROR BLOG here, but this was a nice change of pace for me. I can't wait to see what the future may hold for Ellen Page and Diablo Cody.

This was the best film I have seen in a long time, and yes, you can believe the hype.