Monthly Archives: August 2011

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Trailer – Fireflies in the Garden

Category : Trailer

Director: Dennis Lee

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Julia Roberts

Release: October 14, 2011

I feel like this film is trying to trick me. It looks emotional and interesting, but having Ryan Reynolds grow a beard won’t make me forget that he was Van Wilder, and having Julia Roberts die won’t make me forget that I hate her.



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Movie Review – The Stand

Category : Movie Review

Director: Mick Garris
Starring: Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Adam Storke,
Rob Lowe, Jamey Sheridan, Ruby Dee
Year: 1994

Stephen King is my favorite author. I have a large collection of his books, I’ve read almost everything he has written, I pore over the details of his stories looking for ‘Dark Tower’ connections, and I think that he is, in general, awesome. Films based on his works, however, cannot always be described as such. Some are quite excellent: The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, Green Mile. But some are downright awful: Hearts in Atlantis, Thinner, The Dark Half. It doesn’t seem to matter how good the book is, the movie version takes on a life of its own. For this reason, I was nervous to watch The Stand, one of the greatest King books of all-time.
This TV miniseries, based very closely on the epic novel, was originally aired in four 90 minute episodes: The Plague, The Dreams, The Betrayal, and The Stand. Taking place throughout the United States, the story is broad, yet simple; a government developed ‘Super Flu’ is unleashed on the population, leading to the near annihilation of the human race. The few survivors must come together if they hope to survive, but a choice is given to them: join an ancient grandmother in Nebraska or a dark man in the west. Their decisions will set the scene for an epic battle between good and evil, one that will decide the future of mankind.
Six hours in a long time to devote to any film, but, thankfully, The Stand was worth it. The plot stuck to the novel as much as was possible, which, given the success of the book, was very wise. The story flowed, it was interesting, and it never felt as long as it was. The special effects might have been very TV and, therefore bad, but they didn’t detract too much. The acting, as a whole, was surprisingly good, with a few interesting cameos from Ed Harris, Kathy Bates, and even Stephen King himself. Molly Ringwald (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles) might have been utterly horrible, but even she couldn’t mess up the chemistry that the rest of the cast had. All in all, for a made-for-TV miniseries, it was a well-made film.
That’s not to say there weren’t problems. The side characters were poorly acted, the dialogue got a little preachy towards the end, and most of the adult themes were removed to pacify TV audiences. But the story could not be denied, nor could King’s natural talent for forcing you to enter his world and beg to stay. ‘The Stand’ is a phenomenal novel, but also a strong film, one worth the time.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰


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Trailer – Melancholia

Category : Trailer

Director: Lars von Trier

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland

Release: November 2011

I might hate Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On, Spider-Man) and I might be scared of Lars von Trier (Dancer in the Dark, Antichrist), but this film still intrigues me. Other than dramatic, I have no idea what it will be like, and I like that.



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Movie Review – Cracks

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jordan Scott 
Starring: Eva Green, Juno Temple, Maria Valverde 
Year: 2009

The problem with amateur directors is that they create amateur films. The problem with directors’ children who become directors themselves is that they don’t consider themselves to be amateurs. They create beautiful films that seem wonderfully rich and deep, but then fail to deliver, puttering out and losing steam. Such is the case with Sofia Coppola (The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation), daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, and also Jordan Scott, daughter of Ridley Scott. Cracks may not seem like an amateur film at first, but give it half a chance and it will prove to you that it is.
Set in an English all-girl boarding school in the 1930s, this dramatic period piece is one part thrilling, one part creepy. Eva Green (Casino Royale, Camelot) is an extremely involved teacher who creates a diving club for a select group of girls. As these girl form a tight clique, they begin to love their teacher in an almost god-like fashion. When a foreign beauty joins their group and begins to steal attention away from the leader of the club, jealousy and greed begin to infiltrate the team, creating divisions that could shatter the serene life the girls once knew.
As far as the scenery, lighting, music, and mood went, the film was excellent. Taking it a step further, however, it lacked a driving force, a depth, a climax; something intangible that it’s hard to pin down. Yes, the film was beautiful, and yes, it was suspenseful, but there was a touch of finesse missing that kept it from being great. Perhaps a little too similar to the first half of Atonement, the plot began strong but failed to finish the same way. The acting by Green was mesmerizing, but seemed almost too good when compared to her costars, leaving the film, again, feeling a little empty.
For an amateur film, Cracks was fairly excellent. But for a film that promised so much more and didn’t deliver, it was just alright. Most films are either good or bad, but this one may be neither, as is failed to leave much of an impression one way or the other. I wouldn’t call it a waste of time, because there were positives, just not enough of them.

My rating: ✰ ✰


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Trailer – 50/50

Category : Trailer

Director: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen

Release: September 30th, 2011

I’m always up for a humorous take on a serious subject. It adds levity to a depressing topic and it gives comedians a chance to show their dramatic abilities. And also, it will be nice to see Seth Rogen (Superbad, Knocked Up) back in the supporting role, which he is definitely more suited for.



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Review – The Little Mermaid

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ron Clements
Starring: Jodi Benson, Christopher Barnes, Buddy Hackett
Year: 1989

Reviewing an animated movie is difficult. There is no pure acting, only voice-overs, the script, in this case, is half musical number, and most of the jokes are aimed at 7-year-olds. Add in the fact that The Little Mermaid was one of my childhood favorites, and a favorite of millions of American kids in the 80s, and you’ve got one tricky situation. However, it’s much easier if the movie is either obviously wonderful or painfully bad. And so, as I sat down to watch this blast from the past, I hoped that it would at least be one or the other.
Based on the much more gruesome fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, this nautical romp follows Ariel, a young mermaid who longs for something more than her pampered undersea life. Fascinated by humans, but forbidden by her domineering father to go near them, she studies them in secret, and, by chance, meets a young human prince. When the evil sea witch Ursula promises to aid Ariel in meeting the prince again, she accepts the dangerous deal, no matter what the cost. With the help of her fishy friends, Ariel begins a journey to discover the human world, and, ultimately, to discover herself.
Thankfully, and despite a mildly silly storyline, The Little Mermaid is delightfully magnificent. The characters are believable, deep, and well-formed, making Ariel’s quest for love one we can all relate to. The humor might be a touch more juvenile than the modern animated features from Pixar, but that didn’t stop me from laughing at the prat falls and silly sight gags that are still funny after all these years. What shifts the film from good to great, however, is the music. Classic songs like ‘Kiss the Girl’, ‘Under the Sea’, and, of course, ‘Part of Your World’ are both touching and fun, creating a movie experience that cannot be paralleled.
It takes a great film to withstand the transition between childhood and adulthood, but Disney seems to have mastered the art, showing again and again that their films are truly timeless. The Little Mermaid is definitely one of these; a wonderful story that never gets old, and yet somehow has a depth to it that is only revealed through time. 

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰


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Trailer – I Don’t Know How She Does It

Category : Trailer

Director: Douglas McGrath

Starring: Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosnan

Year: 2011

Yes, Sarah Jessica Parker is relatable and normal-looking. And yes, women work hard to take care of their families. But are these two facts enough to base an entire movie on? I don’t think so.



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Movie Review – The Forgotten

Category : Movie Review

Director: Joseph Ruben
Starring: Julianne Moore, Dominic West, Gary Sinise
Year: 2004

The X-Files was a relatively popular television show. Combining interesting plots, good acting, and cool effects, it was able to sustain nine seasons and keep audiences hooked. The X-Files movies, however, failed miserably in all categories. Perhaps it was the time length; we are willing to accept flaws more easily when we are only watching them for fourty-five minutes, as opposed to over two hours; a lesson apparently lost on the producers of The Forgotten.
In this psychological thriller, a mother, Moore (Far from Heaven, Hannibal) attempts to come to terms with the death of her 8-year-old son. When her husband and her therapist, Sinise (Apollo 13, Forrest Gump) both begin to tell her that the memories of her son are just delusions, she starts a quest to discover the truth. With the help of a father who lost his daughter in the same tragic accident, the lies that surround these forgotten children come to light, and the pair begin to understand that there is more to this mystery than can be explained.
With more plot holes than any X-Files episode ever dreamed of, this “thriller” leaves much to be desired; a cohesive story, for one. Audiences are thrust into the plot, yanked back and forth between reality and doubt, and left thinking, “Well, that didn’t make any sense.” Even the smallest bit of believable acting might have helped this porous plot, but there was none to be found. Moore may be one of the worse actresses on screen, but she was never even given a chance, what with all the running she had to do; it’s quite difficult to be dramatic when you’re being chased by husbands, feds, and creepy, silent men. Although, had she been able to slow down and speak, I doubt we would have been grateful.
In a film that was all idea and no punch, it’s difficult to find any bright spots. The plot was interesting, and it might have made for a good TV episode, but not a feature length production. They obviously filled time by having the characters run around in circles, fleeing different agencies, but making a bad thing longer doesn’t make it good; it makes it awful.

My rating: ✰ ✰


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Trailer – Swinging with the Finkels

Category : Trailer

Director: Jonathan Newman

Starring: Martin Freeman, Mandy Moore, Jonathan Silverman

Year: 2011

I’m not sure if I actually want to see this movie or if I just want to think of Mandy Moore in this way. It seems quite an odd cast really: a Hobbit, a pop star, and that guy from Weekend at Bernie’s. Strange.



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Review – Blue Valentine

Category : Movie Review

Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams

Year: 2010
Computer animation technology in movies is becoming too good, making characters look too real. A recent study showed that there is a point at which an animation becomes so lifelike that it makes the audience uncomfortable. The same could be said about dramas as well; Blue Valentine is a film that is almost too realistic, so familiar that it’s painful. And yet, this is not make-believe, this is real life, and the line between comfort and realism has just been crossed.
The story is no more and no less than the classic boy-meets-girl. Shown throughout different stages of their relationship, Gosling (The Notebook, Half Nelson) and Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Shutter Island) follow the usual path: meet, fall in love, start a family. But, of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Their pasts, their problems, and their insecurities shape their lives together, as they attempt to hold on to the pieces of what they had once created.
Married, single, young, or old, everyone can relate to some part of the characters in this film. They are so real that it’s frightening, forcing us to see ourselves for what we really are, the good and the bad. The story may be simple, but it is true, undecorated, and all too common. Gosling and Williams do an amazing job, draining themselves and giving us raw performances that transforms us into voyeurs, seeing something we should not be seeing. This film was a look into the lives of two people that we can all relate to in some way, which is why it is so wonderful and so disturbing at the same time.
Although a special film, it is definitely not for everyone. It is a pure character piece; two actors having conversations with each other without much else to rely on. Also, the themes are incredibly adult: sex, death, marriage, hope, and not much time for a breath. But if you can stand to face a few fears, see things that make you wince, and allow some walls to be torn down, then Blue Valentine can be an unparalleled work of art that is, truly, too real to deny. 
My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰