Sunday, January 22, 2006

 

GUY'S NIGHT OUT: End of the Spear, he said 3.0


I saw this movie last Saturday. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't really great. I waited too long to write this review because now I can't even remember much about it. Like what I liked and disliked. I would suggest this as a possible rental or dollar theater visit.

What did you think?
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Saturday, January 21, 2006

 

Last Holiday, he said 3.0


I really like Queen Latifah. I think she is very talented and beautiful and to me, she is one of the few actresses working today who actually has the gravitas of what I consider to be a true "movie star" (whatever that means). Sadly, she has really not been blessed with the best roles to work with. Other than her fabulous turn as Mama in "Chicago," most of her roles (and the movies) have been pretty forgettable. However, Queen Latifah tends to do a good job of making the most of what she is given. In this remakes of the 1950s movie of the same name, she takes over the role of Sir Alec Guinness and produces my favorite Latifah character since Mama.

That said, the movie itself could have been a lot better. I liked its message and I found a lot of it very funny. I appreciated that it did not have to result to lewd and gross gags for cheap laughs. It's a comedy of manners and false assumptions which reminds me very much of classic comedies. Although the movie does not resort to crass humor, it does make full use of cheesy humor. One scene in particular involving snowboarding felt more like something from the Disney Channel.

I really loved Latifah's character of Georgia Byrd. The chef was funny. I liked seeing Georgia learn balance in her life. My favorite scene involves a passionate prayer from Georgia at church about her illness that the rest of the congregation turns into a rousing musical number.

"Last Holiday" is fun but simple movie with a life affirming message. Although the movie begins during the Christmas season, I think the studio was wise to hold off the release until January. Following all of the "heavy" releases at the end of the year, this movie made for a nice escapist trip to the cinema.

Note: Congrats, Patricia. You beat me. After such a long hiatus, I simply forgot about writing this.

What did you think?





all this will be invisible until you click on the title
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Friday, January 20, 2006

 

Last Holiday, she said 2.0


Guess who's back - back again. Yes ladies and gents, happy New Year and all the other holidays that were recently celebrated. I originally made a New Year's resolution to post on time but clearly that one has already be a miss so we will pretend nothing was said- I digress.

So, I will say that “Last Holiday” was a good mediocre film. Queen Latifah plays a square woman that set high goals and dreams and rather than acting on her wishes, she stores them in a book of ‘possibilities’. Misdiagnosed with a rare brain tumor, she is given three weeks to survive. Like any other red blooded American, she cashes in her savings and sets out to convert all of her possibilities into realities (cheers from the crowd). She buys a plane ticket to Europe – I think France – and proceeds to live it up at the grand European hotel the PUPP (pronounced 'poop'). She meets fabulous people, eats fabulous food and has the time of her life. Shockingly, (I use that word laden with sarcasm) she discovers she is not sick, marries the man of her dreams and consequently learns a valuable lesson of living your life to the fullest - or something like that. If only real life were that cliché!

Despite the rubber stamped plot line the movie was not bad. Gerard Depardieu, the impassionate French chef, added the perfect amount of cheese. Honestly, I had a hard time not staring at his nose - but he made me laugh nonetheless. I gave this film such a low rating because I really do not think you should waste your money in the theater...Netflix it. “Last Holiday” is the perfect rainy day/stay inside/ want to laugh but not think type of movie. Queue it today!


NOTE: I beat Brandon
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

 

Counting Down His Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2005


1. Revenge of the Sith
What a fitting finale to the Star Wars saga! Those of you who know me know that I am slightly obsessed with Star Wars. I love it all even the flawed, but in my opinion, worthy prequels. After six years of me feeling the need to be a prequel apologist, Lucas finally showed everyone that he still has it in him to deliver a great fun (and dark) movie. "Revenge of the Sith" made me better appreciate the earlier prequels and see the original trilogy in a new light. For the first time ever, I am able to really view the saga as the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker (in fact, he's become one of my favorite characters). "Revenge of the Sith" perfectly bridged the gap between new and old, but it was also a great movie on its own. The tragedy builds throughout the movie, and Ian McDiarmid owns! We finally get to see Yoda take on the Sith, Alderaan, the Jedi purge, and Anakin versus Obi-Wan! And it was awesome!


2. Serenity
An enormously fun and sadly underwatched movie that resurrected Joss Whedon's "Firefly" 'verse. This movie is top-grade popcorn fun in the same vein as the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. If you have not seen this movie, you must get your hands on the newly released DVD. This a movie that few people I know have seen, but everyone I know that has seen it loved it! Hopefully this is not the last we have seen of the crew of Serenity.

3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Watching this faithful adaptation of C.S. Lewis' classic brings the same warmth and excitement as reading the book. Remarkable special effects and wonderful acting (notably Georgie Henley, William Moseley, and Tilda Swinton) create inspiring and frightening characters and spectacles. Upon my first viewing of this movie, I was just a little bit disappointed. I still loved it, but it just wasn't quite as good as I expected. However, after having now seen it several more times, the movie seems to get better with each viewing. This is a future family classic. It's already inspired a classic SNL sketch Hmm, I wonder how many more times I can use the word "classic" in this paragraph?

4. Batman Begins
This movie came as close to being like an actual Batman comic story than any that came before it. By being faithful to the story (for the most part) and respecting the source material (no camp), Christopher Nolan brought to the silver screen the same joy I get from reading each month's issue of "Batman." A truly all-star cast, a strong score, and amazing action sequences (you really feel those punches) add to the coolness of this movie. The movie is not the typical comic book action movie, but, like the great "Superman: The Movie," it really gets into what makes the character who he is. The results delve deeply into the psychology of Bruce Wayne and the nature of heroism. 'Twas not Bane that broke the Batman, it was Joel Schumacher. Nolan creates a brilliant resurrection of the Batman movie franchise. Here's praying this year's "Superman Returns" (Superman is my all-time favorite superhero) is just as good.

5. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Growing up many of my friends were huge fans of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." I didn't quite understand why. Yes, it was an enjoyable movie, but I didn't think it was the classic that they made it out to be. Now, I was a fan of Roald Dahl. Although I still have not read "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," I knew that the old movie did not feel like a Dahl story. Thankfully Tim Burton rescued it. Burton, like Dahl, is a master of creating wonderful, twisted fantasies. In "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," he does it again. His unique style permeates the entire movie. I have a hard time putting into words all that I like about any Burton movie (so much of it depends on "the look" of it), but watching this movie brings back childhood joys of seeing "Batman" and "Edward Scissorhands." If "Finding Neverland" wasn't enough to convince you that Freddie Highmore is one of the best child actors ever, his performance here is further evidence of his talent. Johnny Depp gives a brilliant preformance as Willy Wonka. He creates a delightfully maniacal character that one is both apprehensive of and sympathetic for. While Gene Wilder was the best thing about the previous adaptation of this story, Depp far surpasses him. Yeah, I said it Depp's Wonka is better than Wilder's.


Now we are into the top five. These movies are all really close. These five have all become some of my most favorite movies already. The ranking of these was extremely difficult and very likely to constantly change depending on my mood.

6. Crash
Like "Hotel Rwanda" the year before, this was a movie that really haunted me. It made me look at my own life and attitudes and re-examine how I live. The movie feautres an amazing cast and all of them bring their A-game (even performers I don't really care for, like Sandra Bullock, do well here). It is really an ensemble piece that features interloping stories that force us to deal with the issue of racism. I liked how no character was portrayed as simply a villain or simply a victim. All of them were both victims and perpetrators of racism in some way. This was a challenging and haunting movie that I think teaches us a great deal without being preachy.

7. Cinderella Man
Ron Howard starred in one of my favorite movies (American Graffiti) and old TV shows (The Andy Griffith Show), but I think that perhaps he was born to be not an actor but a director. While many of his previous films have been hit-or-miss for me, this one played like a classic. I was hesitant to see this. Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger are both actors I do not usually care for, but I went along with a group of friends to see this and was mesmerized. I loved Jim Braddock and his story. I loved seeing such a strong marriage and family portrayed on the screen. For some hard to explain reason, this movie reminded me of Frank Capra.

8. Walk The Line
This Johnny Cash biopic is made great by three amazing preformances from Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, and Robert Patrick. I liked all three of these actors before, but this movie moved them all up a notch in my book. I had some problems with the way the movie portrayed aspects of Cash's life and and elements were lifted straight out of "Rock Star Biographies 101," but the acting (even among the supporting cast) and the power of this man's story make the movie great.

9. Pride & Prejudice
Another surprise for me. Keira Knightley proves that she is more than just a pretty face with a winning performance as Miss Elizabeth Bennett in this beautifully filmed adapatation of the Jane Austen classic. Effectively condensed for the screen, the movie does a great job of capturing the spirit of Austen's wit.

10. Hostage
A surprisingly good movie that strikes a nice balance between old-school Bruce Willis action movies and his more recent somber Shyamalan thrillers featuring a downright creepy performance from "Freaks and Geeks" alum Ben Foster.


As we begin a new year, let us look back at the movies we saw last year. Overall, 2005 was not the "Year of Great Movies" that I thought it was going to be this time last year. Most of the movies were rather mediocre. Picking out my ten favorite was actually easier this year because these were about the only movies I was passionate about at all. However, despite many disappointments, these ten were really good and many of them are already among my favorites ever. These may have been the only ten movies I liked this year, but I really enjoyed them. Check back daily to see what makes the top spot.
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Monday, January 09, 2006

 

GUY'S NIGHT OUT: Cheaper by the Dozen 2, he said 4.0


I cannot justify why I liked this movie and its predecessor as much as I do. As I watched it, I knew it was not really a good movie, but I liked it anyway. It suffers from some of the worst things about sequels (it reminded me of "Beethoven 2" in many ways). It also is plagued by the cloying schmaltz that was present in the first movie. But still, I liked it.

I really like many of the actors such as Bonnie Hunt, Tom Welling, Steve Martin, Eugene Levy, Piper Perabo, and yes, even Hilary Duff (a guilty pleasure I know). Carmen Electra, as Levy's trophy wife, provided many of the funniest moments (Kudos!...It's my word). I find all of the characters likeable, and I enjoyed the family rivalry between the Bakers and the Murtaughs.

And yes, even though parts are somewhat maudlin, they always make me go "aww." Bottom line: If you liked the first one, you'll probably like this one. If not, there is nothing here that will change your mind.

What did you think?




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