Monthly Archives: March 2008

Review: Shutter

Shutter, the latest in the Asian/American horror film exchange program, is one of the weaker entries, although it still has enough chills to make it a decent Friday night date film. The story is typical horror film fare: photographer Ben Shaw (Joshua Jackson) and his wife Jane (Rachael Taylor) get married and move to Japan where Ben has a job. For Ben, this is his second tour in Japan, having lived there two years earlier working for the same company. This time, though, since he’s newly married, he and his wife spend a few days honeymooning. As Jane drives the couple to an idyllic cabin in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, a ghostly female figure appears on the road. Jane can’t get out of the way fast enough and runs the girl down, crashing the car in the process. Of course, when she and Ben examine the road, no body is found. Like I said, typical. Continue reading

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Review: 21

There is only one game in a casino where you play against the house and you have the possibility of beating the odds – if you know what you’re doing. That game is blackjack aka 21. The rules are simple: starting with two cards, you can keep drawing until you get as close to 21 as you can without going over. The dealer does the same thing and whoever is closer at the end, wins. Simple, right?

Well, in the early 80s through the early 90s, different groups of students at MIT used a mathematical system to beat the game and take various casinos for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then, in 1993, it all changed. A small group of MIT students, led by a charismatic mathematics professor, decided to try and take Vegas for the big score. The new film 21 is based loosely on their experiences. Continue reading

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Review: Run, Fatboy, Run

Run Fatboy Run is probably the worst, if most descriptive, title of a film out this season. In the simplest terms, it tells you the basic plot of a film where a slightly overweight man, Dennis (Simon Pegg), is going to do some running. What it doesn’t tell you, however, is how much heart, humor and honesty there is in this little film. And how much you’ll enjoy the hundred minutes you spend in the theater watching it.

The running mentioned in the title serves a dual purpose – it is both literal and metaphorical. When the film opens, Dennis is about to marry the very pregnant Libby (Thandie Newton). Unfortunately, it isn’t meant to be, since the thought of a wife and child is just too much for the simple Dennis to take. So he runs away, heading off down the street while friends and family yell at him to return. Continue reading

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Review: Under the Same Moon

The first real tear-jerker of 2008 is here and it’s called La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon). That “same moon” is the one under which both Rosario, a young mother working in Los Angeles and Carlitos, her nine year old son back in Mexico, both sleep. It’s the moon they both look at knowing the other is also looking. It’s a way they have to connect with each other between their weekly Sunday morning phone calls. At times, it is the only hope they have of ever seeing each other again.

The problem, of course, is immigration. Rosario has come to the United States illegally in hopes of making some money and, ultimately, gaining legal status and then sending for her son. Carlitos, meanwhile, has been stuck in Mexico living with his grandmother (his father took off before he was born and we find out is living in Tucson). Continue reading

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Review: Horton Hears a Who

Horton hears a whoThe filmmakers behind the new animated feature Horton Hears a Who have created a sumptuous looking movie, however, they seem to have missed the mark when it comes to their intended audience. Which is to say they never quite master the great cartoon juggling act which involves enough silliness to keep the little ones interested and enough smart and clever dialogue and plot to satisfy the parents. Here, it seems, there are times when anything happening on screen beyond the visual is going to go right over the children’s heads while at other times, the film plays like bad Saturday morning fare – and there’s really very little crossover. Continue reading

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Review: Semi-Pro

Sports movies have their own tropes and clichés. There’s always the underdog team, the former star hoping for a comeback, the rising star looking for his break, the down-and-out owner looking to make his team profitable and the big play at the end which redeems everything. Semi-Pro, Will Ferrell’s new vehicle, hits all of those conventions and at the same time adds in a new one, that of Will Ferrell.

Ferrell plays Jackie Moon, a one-hit wonder from 1970s, who used his money to indulge in his second passion, basketball. He is the owner/coach/power forward for the Flint Tropics, an ABA team facing extinction as the league prepares to fold and be absorbed into the NBA. Moon is a horrible player, knowing nothing about the actual mechanics of the game. Instead, he focuses on odd marketing ploys to get a crowd and his mantra of “Everybody Loves Everybody” designed to make the players all feel like a family. Continue reading

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