For about a year, from April 2007 – April 2008 (okay, so exactly a year) I wrote movie reviews for a website called FirstShowing.net. They are still going strong and doing some good stuff, but since I’ve got my blog up and running, I figured I’d migrate those reviews over here. So for the next week or so, you may see that I’m posting reviews of movies which are 6-7 years old. Sorry. But If you’re interested in seeing what I thought of the films of that era, feel free to click the link. All of those reviews will be tagged with the FirstShowing tag so they’ll be easy to find and each will include a link at the bottom to the original review so you can see all of the original user comments. The comments on my review of There Will Be Blood are priceless!
I’m gonna start out by saying I loved this film. Let me just get it out of the way now. Zombie Strippers is a fun, frolicking fest of undead female flesh! It is packed with enough laughs, nudity and philosophy to make it required viewing for any college student’s weekend late night plans. Not since Chopper Chick in Zombie Town have I laughed this hard at an intentionally funny horror film. For sheer entertainment value, Zombie Strippers ranks among the top films of the year.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this is a great film – or even a good one, just that it is a blast to watch and if you go in with the attitude that everyone involved was looking to have some fun and make something for you to enjoy, you will walk out pleasantly surprised and with a huge smile on your face. Continue reading “Review: Zombie Strippers”
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 “Review: Shutter”
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 “Review: 21”
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 “Review: Run, Fatboy, Run”
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 “Review: Under the Same Moon”
The 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 “Review: Horton Hears a Who”
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 “Review: Semi-Pro”
Recently, there has been a run of films which should be good based on everything from idea to cast to behind the camera talent and yet they just don’t work. Vantage Point is the latest entry in this long and distinguished list.
The film steals it’s basic idea from Akira Kurosawa’s Rashômon, where the same event is seen from differing perspectives. The idea is that when seen from a different angle, different things become more apparent. Here, the central event is the attempted assassination of the President of The United States (William Hurt) while at a summit meeting in Spain and the efforts of Secret Serviceman Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), who took a bullet for his Commandeer-in-Chief a year prior, to solve the crime. Continue reading “Review: Vantage Point”
The biggest problem with Doug Liman’s new action film Jumper is that, well, it’s boring. There’s not enough action in it to keep the plot moving and not enough drama to really engage the viewer. Ultimately, it feels like an engine misfiring on three out of four cylinders – you can feel the power there, but it’s just not getting through.
The story is easily digestible and doesn’t tax the brain too much. David Rice (Hayden Christensen), the class wimp, discovers he has the power to teleport himself to anyplace he’s seen and so, at fifteen, he quits school and uses this new found ability to rob banks and generally live the life of an international bon vivant. When a shadow law enforcement agency, in the form of Roland (a white haired Samuel L. Jackson) suddenly shows up, knowing about David’s strange power, things start to unravel. He thinks the best course of action is to go home to Detroit, find his high school crush Millie (Rachel Bilson) and jet off to Rome. No, this doesn’t make much sense to me either. Continue reading “Review: Jumper”
The genre of hitman movies has just gotten another addition in the form of In Bruges, and this one deserves the accolades. Contrary to the trailers, which paint the film as a comedy in the same vein as Gross Pointe Blank(another standout in the field), In Bruges takes its subject matter very seriously, infusing humor into a dark, compelling drama.
The story is simple: two hitmen, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) have just finished a job and are hiding out in Bruges, an idyllic tourist attraction in Belgium, waiting for instructions from their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes). Of course, there’s more to it than that. There always is. Here though, we get the whole story in pealed of layers, each time we learn something new, we must rethink what has gone before and put that bit of information into its proper place. In Bruges, then, is not your typical shoot ’em up. It is a film for those who want their action mixed in with thought-provoking conversation. Continue reading “Review: In Bruges”
What is it? After months of hype and speculation, the J.J. Abrams produced monster movie Cloverfield finally hits the big screen and you know what? We still don’t know what it means. And that’s okay. From the get go this has been a high-concept affair – “Blair Witch Project meets Godzilla” – and it mostly delivers what it has been promising since we first saw the head of the Statue of Liberty come sailing out of the sky back in June. Continue reading “Review: Cloverfield”
There’s something about an underwater treasure hunt that gets my blood pumping. It brings out the pirate in me. Show me a film with promises of buried gold, shipwrecks and archaeological history and I’m first in line. Thankfully, Fool’s Gold delivers. Mostly. Yes, there are chests of gold and sunken boats but there are also a few too many coincidences, silly dialogue and some weak performances.
The film opens with treasure hunter Finn (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner Alfonz (Ewen Bremner) discovering the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle, which, we will find out, has been plaguing Finn for many years. Of course, we don’t understand the significance of the shard of a plate, not yet, but that’s part of what works inFool’s Gold. It’s a mystery and it takes almost the whole two hours of the film to completely unravel. Continue reading “Review: Fool’s Gold”
Traditionally, January is the time of year when studios dump all the films they don’t think are going to do very well. With Mad Money, the new film directed by Calle Khouri, I’m not sure they’re right. But that doesn’t make it a good film. Mad Money follows Bridget Cardigan (Diane Keaton), an upper class housewife who needs to find a job in order to help stave off the impending financial doom caused by her husband being downsized. She starts working for the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, the place where they destroy used money.
In the bank, she quickly devises a plan to get some of that money out of the bank, something we are told is nigh on impossible. In order to get her plan to work, though, she needs two more people, Jackie and Nina (Katie Holmes and Queen Latifah). See, Bridget has a theory, that “crime is contagious.” That once one person starts thinking about it, she can “infect” others with the desire. Continue reading “Review: Mad Money”
What was Paul Thomas Anderson thinking? In his new movie, There Will Be Blood, the auteur filmmaker is taking a lesser known novel by Upton Sinclair, Oil!, and turning it into a long, boring rumination on… well, that’s part of the problem, He never really gets around to making a point. Instead, he chooses to spend almost three hours giving us the life of a disagreeable wildcatter named Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) without ever scratching below the obvious.
The plot follows Plainview from his humble beginnings as a miner, showing his grit and determination through some fairly large hardships, to his success as a millionaire oilman and then to his fall, living among his personal demons in a beautiful house but away from the fields he knew so well. It’s a slice of life, certainly, but like a cheese pizza, there’s very little spice or differentiation of taste. Continue reading “Review: There Will Be Blood”