Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Guardian

Like baseball, Kevin Costner seems to have a thing for "water" films and such is the case with THE GUARDIAN which is not to be confused with THE BODYGUARD. At least here he doesn't have that "bad hair" thing happening and once again plays the rugged old vet who has to smack the rookies into shape. One of those rookies happens to be Ashton Kutcher who also happens to be one of the most annoying twits on the planet which makes him perfect for this role. He also happens to be able to act believe it or not and this is what makes THE GUARDIAN a watchable if all be it destined for TBS film. Some good action and a fair little story make this a fine Sunday morning hang over time waster and expect nothing more from it unless you happen to work for the Coast Guard then you may have a blast knocking the inaccuracies in it.

The Break-Up

Well, this was the film that started all of that hype about Vince Vaughn and Jennifer (don't we all want her hair) Aniston being an item after the whole Brangelina mess and like this film I gather that relationship, if it ever existed, went splitsville! THE BREAK-UP succeeds where it's meant to, it's funny at times, obnoxious at times, let's women rail on about how insensitive and stupid men supposedly are etc. etc. etc. and if that's your bag of candy it will serve you well. If not...avoid like a swift kick to the gonads!

Gin gwai (The Eye)

With the remake starring Jessica Alba opening tomorrow, and I do hope to go if I'm not under twenty feet of friggin' snow, I figured a rewatch of the Pang bothers original was in order. The Pang most likely know them from their recent success with THE MESSENGERS but they've been spooking Asian film goers for years now and it was GIN GWAI that broke them into the mainstream. It's a simple story with a blind girl getting new corneas and all of a sudden seeing a bunch of dead people. Actually, it's far deeper in that she has no reference points to understand even the mundane things she is now seeing and she gets the heave ho from her all-blind orchestra to boot making GIN GWAI a complex examination of disocvery and alienation all at the same time which makes it perfect for the teen market. No doubt these subtleties will be lost in the Americanized version but here they ring clear. A smart, tight, sharply presented piece of fright which manages to scare the shit out of you without resorting to the gore fest. Not one to watch alone!

In Bruges

Martin McDonagh copped an Oscar for best short with his film SIX SHOOTER and here with IN BRUGES he picks up where that story left off. I've not seen SIX SHOOTER though I certainly heard about it back in the day and after seeing IN BRUGES I'll most certainly have to track it down because McDonagh is a talent I most definately want to see more from. Brendan Gleeson is the only hold-over from the original and here is joined by Colin Farrell both who are hiding out in Bruges, Belgium after a botched hit job in London. The patter between these two is utterly priceless making this one of the raunchiest and funniest films I've seen in years. When Ralph (call me Rafe) Fiennes shows up things get even stranger and it'e great to see him bust loose for a change. The script, as to be expected from a playwrite, is an absolute gem and with the scenery as a side IN BRUGES should be on the very top of your "must see" list.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Departed

Damn! This was one fucking great film!

Jing wu men (Chinese Connection)

One of Bruce Lee's best action films it is based on a a somewhat true story. There was some confusion back in the day on this one as it's international release title was FIST OF FURY and in America his prior film to this was distributed as FIST OF FURY so a title change was in order. On a small side note Jackie Chan doubled the bad guy actor Riki Hashimoto in several fight scenes. You may get the sense of having seen this all before but it is important to remember this was where most of what you've "seen before" was ripped-off from.


People actually sit around brainstorming to come up with ideas for films like this and in this case they should have kept brainstorming. ACCEPTED deals with a group a university rejects who decide to open there own to appease their parents. Think of it as an adult version of CAMP NOWHERE only not as funny and not as smart. Take a pass and accept something else.


Here is yet another one of those great little films nobody seems to have seen and it's a pit as it's one of Ray Liotta's best. Simple premise, cop has a gambling problems and it gets hime into some serious ass trouble with other cops who also have problems. Tightly written and great acting from the likes of Anthony LaPaglia, Tom Noonan, Giovanni Ribisi and Daniel Baldwin PHOENIX really works because of the directing. Danny Cannon is one of the top helmsmen of CSI as his ability to keep a story moving in a fluid manner is what makes this one such a gem. We also see Angelica Huston in an odd role as well as Xander Berkeley and Kari Wuhrer. Not the easiest film to track down but well worth the effort.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Frank Corai has directed Adam Sandler before in THE WEDDING SINGER and THE WATER BOY and with CLICK we see him attempting to move into a more serious form of in one with a stronger moral....this being "stop and smell the damn roses will you!" and you all know what I think about films like this. Alas, it does have a few laughs most of them supplied by Christopher Walken and if nothing else I feel happy for Adam Sandler getting the chance to cozy up with Kate Beckinsale (lucky bastard!). We also get to see Dolores O'Riordan in what I suppose you might call her big screen debut. It's run of the mill stuff but fine enough for family night.

Whistle Stop

Not the best known piece of 40's film noire but well worth a peek to see a budding Ava Gardner who is just on the verge of become one of her era's greatest sex bombs and the great George Raft playing a no good drunk who can't keep a job and hangs around bars playing cards and fighting all the time which might explain why an old lady friend gave me this film! Not sure what she was trying to say but seeing Raft in roles like this is always a pleasure as is watching Victor McLaglen who in what bit of screen time he has manages to out-sleaze Raft!

Open Season

Yet another from the 2006 animated onslaught, this one featuring an anti-hunting stance and the vocal talents of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher both who manage to be even more annoying in cartoon form than in the flesh. It does on the other hand have some good laughs and better than average writing though I feel they could have made better use of Gary Sinise and especially Billy Connolly while they had them around. Standard stuff with a bit for the adults but mostly for the kiddies.

School for Scoundrels

Not so much a remake of the 1960 British production as a reinterpetation of the theme and the title tells it all. This one star Billy Bon Thornton and that Jon Heder guy from that NAPOLEON DYNAMITE film I have to get around to seeing one day. Heder plays a dude in need of help getting the woman of his dreams, goes to see Thornton and shit happens and we've all seen it before a thousand times and yes there are a few laughs but really...who gives a's a time waster.

Extreme Measures

Michael Apted cut his directing chops on some obsure soap in England called CORONATION STREET back in 1960. I gather the show didn't do very well as nobody has ever heard of it and it fell into the dark regions of the cathode ray ether. Still, he went on to have an illustrious career helming such critically acclaimed films such as NELL, COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER, GORKY PARK, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH and many, many more. So, one might be inclined to think Apted knows what he is doing when it comes to directing a film which is what makes EXTREME MEASURES such a head scratcher. Gene Hackman is a doctor willing to do anything to figure out away to cure spinal injuries and this is where our title comes from. Hugh Grant is the young star who gets caught in the crossfire when he stumbles on to something he wasn't supposed to and Sarah Jessica Parker floats around looking doe-eyed and incredulous. Despite what you might think of Grant and Parker, this type of star power under the direction of Apted should make for a rather tense little medical thriller. It doesn't. Perhaps the fault is with the script which was an early work of Tony Gilroy who may just walk away from this years Oscars with not one but two little gold statues for MICHAEL CLAYTON. Who knows, point is the film seems stilted, almost as if it were an engine trying to start on a cold winter morning only to sputter out and die. Sure, it manages to entertain and as it was shot in part here in Toronto there are some local sights to enjoy as well as a nice cameo from homeboy David Cronenberg and a bit part from CSI's Paul Guilfoyle but in the end you just walk away feeling unmoved.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jackass Number Two

Like CLERKS II is there really any need to say anything about this film? Yes! It's gross, it's funny, it's great and enjoy them while you can because someday they'll kill themselves doing this shit!

Clerks II

If I had any brains at all I'd be out wining and dining some classy lady and taking her to the Michael Bublè concert and trying to get laid. Instead I`m here writing to you about Jay and Silent Bob who are at this very moment no doubt NOT at the Michael Bublè show but ARE getting laid.....and being filthy rich whilst doing so. Honestly though...what do you really need to know about CLERKS II? Same shit, ten years later and everybody still needs a life.....including me! About all that is of any real import here is Jason Mewes and his abilty to swear which if there were a class for in the Olympics he would be wearing a gold medal around that scrawny neck of his!


By far my favorite Western of ALL-TIME! George P. Cosmatos who directed one of my childhood faves THE CASSANDRA CROSSING presents action the way it was meant to be and the man has a superb eye for casting. I don't care what you think Kurt Russell's best film will not find him in any better form than he is here as Wyatt Earp and I'm tempted to say the same of Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday. Everything is just sheer perfection and even if you despise the genre you will be swept into the bravado and drama of it all. Damn but I wish more films were as well made and enjoyable as this one!

Who's Your Caddy?

I was supposed to be at a Robbie Burns dinner tonight gettin' well sauced and jolly....instead I'm here saving you from the horror which shall forever be known as WHO'S YOUR CADDY?. How bad is it.....I'd rather have haggis power injected up my ass than sit through it again. I'm serious...I watched and watched and watched going "I can't really be seeing a comedy so bereft of humor" but was making it even worse than KICKIN IT OLD SKOOL and Tony Cox should be ashamed to have anything to do with it. Jesper Parnavik on the other hand........
Serious folks...self castration will prove to be more entertaining!

The Invisible

A lady friend of mine said I reminded her of the lead character in this remake of the 2002 Swedish film OSYNLIGE, DEN and I don't think she meant it as a compliment! Mind you, I can certainly relate to being a dude who is ignored by those around him but that is an entirely different horror story for another day. With THE INVISIBLE we have a theme we've seen all too many times before....person is dead..or are they...and they can't figure out or rectify what is wrong with their situation. The thing that makes it interesting is the direction of David S. Goyer who we know from the BLADE and BATMAN films and his deft touches allow this standard bit of teenage spookiness raise slightly above the average fare. As Goyer is best when he's scripting we actually get some half decent dialogue here and there are a few twists and jumpers to satisfy even the most jaded of horror fans.

The Ant Bully

Here is another one of those all-star voiced animated features from 2006 I've been on about. Taken out of context one might look at our lead character Lucas Nickle, voiced by Zach Tyler, as a serial killer in the making as his "thing", rather than mutialting small animals is torturing a poor ant hill. Said main ants are done justice somewhat by the vocal talents of Julia Roberts and Nicolas Cage who in my opinion are both dangerously close to joining that alumnus of the Donald Sutherland school of acting. Mind you, at that time EVERYBODY just had to do an animated feature and there really is no harm in it as most have kids of their own to entertain thhese days.....may as well get a slice of the pie as it were to pay for the little boogers Gucci diapers......and there in is the problem with THE ANT's nothing special...the message is too in your face and we've seen it all before.


I must admt I had some small concerns when I heard Rob Zombie was going to helm the prequel/remake of the Michael Myers story. This has nothing to do with Zombie's ability as a director, on the contrary I was more worried about the studios pissing around with his artistic control on this project. I gather I needn't have bothered as when I watched this the other night it was everything you've come to expect from a Zombie film. Much like he all gives it up live, just like he did when I saw him open for Ozzy Osbourne at the ACC Monday evening, his approach to horror is of the over the top straight forward knock your fucking head clean off movement. Not only does he run a tight directorial ship his hand controls the scripting as well and he has single handedly breathed life back into a sadly tired franchise. Not sure if we'll get Malcolm McDowell back as Dr. Loomis but let us hope if they bother with a sequel that we see Tyler Mane back as Myers. Sure, it may not seem like much of a role but his stature and lumbering demeanor is perfect for the role and far better suited to others he's done such as Sabretooth in the X-MEN film. Also worth noting is the love Zombie has of this genre and it not only shows in how he handles the subject matter but in the way he uses so many veteran horror actors in all of his films. HALLOWEEN is no exception and you'll have even more fun on the second viewing trying to place the names to the faces your seeing. Full googleskullplex rating on this morbid baby!

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Here is another Will Ferrell vehicle I was expecting to hate and despite my best intentions I simply couldn't. I can say I did find it similar to the TRAILER PARK BOYS at times as in I didn't think I was watching a comedy. Some of the dialogue between Ferrell and John C. Reilly was just a litte "too" believable for my liking and I gather if you watch it you'll catch my drift. Still, there are some downright gut busting moments in this one which is what fans of Ferrell's film expect though I think in this case you has best be a NASCAR fan or many of the jokes will be lost on you. Some great cameos from current NASCAR driving greats as well as one from Elvis Costello.


Wesley Snipes kicks some serious ass here in BLADE which in my opinion is the besic adaptation of a comic book character other than the FIRST Sam Raimi SPIDER-MAN film. It has superb action, more than adequate acting, a great soundtrack and some serious slobberknocker action scenes. What's even better is it manages to be a "black" film without alienating whitey as an audience. Watch it closely and you'll see what I mean expecially when you consider the fact you don't get any more white a set of villains than Stephen Dorff and Udo Kier who yet again plays a vampire and blows up real good to boot.....and hey...don't forget Traci Lords as a bloodsucker...this alone is worth the price of rental but already know that! As for Kris Kristofferson as Whistler...damn..he be so cool I want to grow up just like 'em!

Employee of the Month

Well, it ain't good but then again it's not as bad as you might think. Imagine clerks without the brains (now THERE is a statement) and a hotter chick to oggle at...said chick of course being Jessica Simpson who I think just might be a member of the Hollywood Train Wreck Club...I'm not sure as I've not read the latest directory as it's as thick as the Tokyo phone book. It has moments and Dane Cook is not without his charms but have X amount of hours left in your sure you want to waste it on this bit of intellectual oatmeal?


You think with Mickey Rourke having written this film himself he might have let his character live for change. Whoops......just ruined the flick for ya didn't I! Seriosuly though...can you think of a leading actor who gets killed off as often as Mickey does. It don't matter if he's the friggin' good guy...he still dies like a dog. Maybe it's because of it and maybe it's because of his love of boxing that he guessed it...a hard luck pugilist trying to make good in this big bad ol' world. It sure as shit don't help when Christopher Walken is your best friend though mind you he did OK in that role in MAN ON FIRE. All joking aside HOMEBOY is one of those great movies you probably never saw and it is more than well worth tracking down for several reasons the first being director Michael Seresin. This is the only film the New Zealand cinematographer has ever directed and for the life of me I know not why because he style is great. The other amazing aspect of this film, movie itself aside, is the haunting score provided by Eric Clapton and Michael Kamen. It suits the feel of this gritty look at the lower side of boxing perfectly as does every actor involved including Stephen Baldwin as a drunk in a park which suuuuuuure must have been an acting stretch for that bad boy! Still, no matter how you slice it this one all comes back to Rourke and as this is his brain child he has every reason to be a proud father.

I Think I Love My Wife

Chris Rock is coming to town soon to do his stand-up routine, which I've seen before and it was mighty damn funny. After seeing this dead weight clunker of a film I think I'll save my money this time around. Seriously...I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE, partly written and solely directed by Rock is about as funny as waking up with a severed horse head in your bed. Maybe he was trying to make a serious film.....I don't think so. Hell, he even manages to take the four hour Viagra hard-on gag, which you just KNEW somebody was going to put on film, and fuck it up in right royal fashion. Who knows what went wrong in production with this one but when Steve Buscemi is the funniest member of the cast you know you have SERIOUS problems.

Flushed Away

I've recently been catching up on the glut of animated films released in 2006 and out of the whole crop I found FLUSHED AWAY to be one of the very best. It's not the animation or even the story (which is good by the way) I found was the film's ability to create believable characters. The plot is simple enough...uptown, or should I say "upworld" gets flushed down the toilet and has to find his way in the sewers of London. Said mouse happens to be voiced by Hugh Jackman who does some mighty fine work in this role. As a matter of fact, the vocal cast is a veritable all-star of the international set, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, David Suchet, Ian McKellen and Kate Winslet all offering their talents here and the results are truly a delight. My personal fave is the Sid Vicious rat done by Shane Richie of the EASTENDERS. The fact the subplot involves the World Cup of soccer certainly does help the action here either. Good fun to impress both old and young alike and a far cry better than most of the cartoon features released that year.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This film has always been a bot of a conundrum to me. Those who like it more often than not do not enjoy the series and vice versa. Myself, I avoided the television show fearing it to be another FRIDAY THE 13th or Buffy would say..."my bad". I now enjoy them both and you should too. The comparisons between Kristy Swanson and Sarah Michelle Gellar are totally unfair. There were years between the two projects and Gellar certainly had years to endear herself to the fan base. Swanson does an excellent job as the cheerleader turned monster killer and Donald Sutherland is great in his role as her watcher. Yes, it's another one of his "pay me and I'll act in anything" but I do like his leering aspect when he looks at Buffy which certainly wasn't there in Anthony Stewart Head's character Giles. Joss Whedon of course scripted this one marking his first foray to the big screen and it is directed by now long time coworker Fran Rubel Kuzui who has earlier had a modest hit with TOKYO POP. Rutger Hauer, who seem to be from the same school of "pay me" as Sutherland is adequate as the head vampire but the real surprises come from the supporting cast. Luke Perry is actually quite fun to watch as is David Arquette who is freaking great in a great homage scene to SALEM'S LOT. Also very, very funny is Paul "Pee Wee" Reubens who may have the greatest death in film history here. Oscar winner Hilary Swank makes her big screen debut here and sadly shows none of the talent she would later exibit and if you look closely you can catch Ben "yes...I'm from Bawsten and I went to the same acting school as Sawtherland and me!" Affleck as a basketball player. Good ghoulie action fun and at least interesting as a precusor to the television series.

Ocean's 13

I don't have much to say about this third offering in the recent OCEAN'S series other than Al Pacino mailed his performance in and believe it or not Julia Roberts is sorely missed. Never thought I'd ever write that! Mailed in...Pacino...I swear Soderergh had all of the sets in place with actors in tow and flew Pacino in and then with or without cue-cards had him walk through every scene he was to be involved with in one afternoon! Mind you, Pacino on autopilot is still better than most's best and if you look closely you'll probably feel everybody of the new-day Rat Pack are mailing in their work. Maybe they were all to hung over from the fun times they were all having off set. Who knows and it doesn't matter....OCEAN'S 13 delivers the goods, fast, tight and witty it entertains without being too heavy and for a summer blockbuster this is what most want. Needless to say the eye-candy for the ladies is in overdrive's just nothing special.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gridiron Gang

Interesting to see Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson reprising a role Lou Gossett Jr. made famous in the 1993 made for television version of this story about a counselor in a juvenile detention centre who uses the game of football to help reform troubled inner city kids. Johnson is perfect for this role as football, depsite being from a family of wrestlers, was his first love and you can see how comfortable he is with the subject matter here. That said. GRIDIRON GANG is nothing special though the documentary footage of the kids the film is based on used during the ending credits is of interest. There are some very serious moments throughout but again nothing to write home about.

Orfanato, El (The Ophanage)

Let's get this out of the way right now, this is not a Guillermo del Toro film, he is merely one of the producers and even though he may have offered a hand here and there I suspect his name was slapped on the project for the sake of marketing. No harm there and it's a good thing too as this Spanish film from director J. A. Bayona is well worth seeing and may have been greatly overlooked otherwise. When you get right down to it THE ORPHANAGE is a simple ghost story but because it's subtitled and shot in a style foreign to our's in North America it packs a greater punch and is just plain spooky all around. Sadly the Hollywood studios are already thinking of doing a remake which would be a shame as all of the magic that makes THE ORPHANGE work will no doubt be lost in a sea a cheap CGI effects and bad acting. Speaking of acting, Belèn Rueda, who we recently saw with Julianne Moore in SAVAGE GRACE is outstanding here. No need to run out to the cinema to catch this one but keep your eyes open for it on DVD or your movie provider and do try to watch it alone late at night as I suspect this one will keep you up afterwards.....which is why we watch these scary films anyway isn't it?

There Will Be Blood

Thank the stars above we have the Academy and the critics or I just may not have noticed THERE WILL BE BLOOD was a "modern masterpiece". Nope, would have sailed right over my fucking head and off into the sunset.....but let me be clear...I've have a love/hate relationship with Paul Thomas Anderson's films. I loved PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE and BOOGIE NIGHTS, absolutely hated MAGNOLIA which I can see in the movie pile which means I'll have to sit through it again soon......perhaps I'll like it better this time....who knows. What I do know is THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a film with some serious flaws and the worst of them is the score. Call me daft but I'm of the school which states the music is there to compliment the work not dominate it and the case here is the worst example of the latter I've ever had the misfortune of encountering. It is so in your face it almost breaks the fourth wall and for the life of me I have no idea why Anderson did serves no purpose and it does ruin the movie....a movie which I quite enjoyed and would have loved if it were not for this. Then we have Daniel Day-Lewis. He has always struck me as an actor who like to push his personal boundaries and deliver characters entirely different from any he has tackled before. With Daniel Plainview I swear we are looking at the genesis of Bill "The Butcher" Cutting and if the time frames weren't off it would make for some interesting speculation. Make no mistake, his performance here is great and he shoulders the whole film, point is we've seen him do this before and I gather it will cost him the Oscar this year. Another thing about this character is you are supposed to dislike him and think him obsessed and mad and to me he was in fact the only decent and sane member of the whole lot! There are other problems I had with THERE WILL BE BLOOD but I shan't bother to go on about them....rather I'll let you see this one for yourself because it is a must-see but it is no "modern masterpiece" which I guess brings me to my biggest complaint which is with the syndicated critics as such. When they hail this as brilliant I can't help but think they are being paid off, don't know a damn thing about film or are just plain fucking stupid...maybe all three but I must say I grow weary of it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


This film pissed me off so bad I was unable to blog for days after seeing it. J.J. Abrams, the man producing a film directed by his old friend Matt Reeves.....a film about yet another monster kicking the shit out of poor old New York again. Needless to say my expectation were high. Too high perhaps. I could rant for hours about the problems I had with this film but as the "critics" now see fit to hail this as a "masterpiece" I will limit my complaints and let you judge for yourself if you dare. First on my list is the camera work. When THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT pulled this stunt with the hand held video cam years back it was new and it was made by novice filmsters, they had an excuse and even then the shakiness was kept to a minimum. Here in CLOVERFIELD it is constant and the effects is such that it should be against the law. Most viewers left the cinema either nauseous or with a severe headache and it was so bad I actually LEFT the theatre three times to have a smoke, oh wait.......maybe it was because the characters sucked and I wanted them ALL to die. Then there is the monster....or monsters that is because we have an unexplained assortment of them....but it's the "big" one I have issue with. It's a good one and actually more science based than any I've seen...problem is we see it from an aerial shot and I swear it looks like me in winter after a three day bender trying to crawl from the bed to the can to puke! Scary stuff indeed but with the bedget they had you think something a little more jaw-dropping would have been in order. All of this aside, for me it comes back to camera work. The folks involved are old pros and they know better...for them to foist this off on the big screen is simply criminal and I can't get past this point.....and what is it with the poor Statue of Liberty always getting the crap kicked out of it?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Georgia Rule

This is one very strange and uneven offering from Garry Marshall. Here is a guy who worked on THE ODD COUPLE and HAPPY DAYS helming a tale about family disfunction and all around life style shit storms and the results are confusing at best. To his credit, this drama/comedy (it never does decide what it wants to be) certainly doesn't shy away from the heavy issues or candy-coat the action....there are some seriously raw moments to experience here and the work from the three women involved is quite stunning...even from Lindsay Lohan who more than well demonstrates why people continue to put up with her crap in Hollywood. Even better is the shocking performance from Felicity Huffman....very earnest and heart felt and I honestly didn't know she had this sort of talent in her. Jane Fonda....well...she's Jane Fonda yet even she kicks it up a notch here. On the other hand, make no mistake, this is a chick flick through and though. There is so much estrogen here I was afraid I'd wake up after having nodded off during it sporting a rack...hence I had to restart the DVD to see what I missed. Not the most satisfying film you'll encounter but by no mean the worst.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The New Kids

Oh...the trouble with youth these least this is what FRIDAY THE 13th director Sean Cunningham was on about in this movies about kids gone bad cowritten by Jake`s dad Stepehn Gyllenhaal. It`s nothing special and is really only of note for being an early James Spader vehicle where he plays a psychotic albino! Take it or leave it.


Well here is an interesting a loose remake of ANIMAL HOUSE only do it with animated barnyard animals. Actually, it really isn`t a remake of ANIMAL HOUSE but it does have an awful lot of similarites...none of them worth going into here. This is yet another one of those 2006 animated features trying to tap into the success of`s harmless enough and the kiddies will enjoy it. As always it has a heavy moral message which I wish they would leave out of these type of films but it`s worth seeing just to hear Sam Elliott do the voice for an old cow with udders...actually...all of the cows have udders which is kind of funny as is Danny Glover voicing a hip mule.

Freedom Writers

"Inspired by a true story". This phrase always gives me cause for concern when applied to a motion picture. This usually tells me some screenwriter has taken a small grain of truth and turned it into a piece of fictional Hollywood crap which is what I suspect happened with FREEDOM WRITERS. It is supposed to be based on a series of diaries written by Los Angeles inner city gang kids for a school project after the Rodney King riots. Maybe it is...I haven't read them so I can't say. What I can say is the teacher, a naive goodie two shoes played by Hilary Swank is a believable character. I know people like her and they do make the world a better place. The kids in the class though, supposed to be a ununited nations of gang members are not believable and look like they were casted from the friggin' Mickey Mouse club. The scene where they use the Holocaust museum as an instrument to teach these kids the dangers of racism.....maybe it happend but in the context in which it is presented here it is not believable. Nice bit of Hollywood drama......but not believable. Still, the message in this film is an important one especially with the similar problems we are now seeing in our Canadian school system. It's worth it to show your kids but as adult entertainment...forget it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy Feet many millions did the movie going public give George Miller and his crew for this animated feature about a dancing penguin? Boat loads is how many....and an Oscar to boot. For some reason I had a problem with this film...perhaps it was the smashed over the head approach with the message about over fishing, fragile eco systems and species preservation. All important issues for sure but I really don't like them with my entertainment. So, while there are some great animation sequences, great voice work from Hugh Jackman, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood and Nicole Kidman and an overall feel-good tone to the flick I just can't wrap my head around it....far be it for me to pan something the movie going public found fit to give boat loads of cash to though. Nope....I would never do that.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Perfect Stranger

James Foley has directed some fine films such as GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, AT CLOSE RANGE and even an episode of TWIN PEAKS...but you'd never know it here. Halle Berry has done some great work and even won an Oscar but by God you would never know it here. Giovanni Ribisi has also done some mighty fine work and once again I have to say you would never know it here. PERFECT STRANGER is fucking awful...and speaking of "fucking" this has to be my biggest complaint of all with the celuloid stinker. It's as if the script was written by a Mormon or in somebody who doesn't use the word fuck in their regular vocabulary. I say this because the word is used throughout the film and it seems about as out of place as farting in a humidor. Then we have the acting. Now, no diss to Bruce Willis but when he stands out as the thespian of the cast you just know you are up the intellectual shit creek without a spoon and I have to say you can almost see he thinking to himself on camera about the ways he will murder his agent when he's done with this clunker.....which would actually make for a good film I think. On a positve note we get to see CSI's Gary Dourdan earning a big screen paycheck but even he looks like he's rather be scraping some week old decomposing corpse out of a theatre seat. What I'm getting at here is PERFECT STRANGE is so "fucking" bad it's not even laughable and I think you would be better served washing the cat for entertainment.

Memoirs of a Geisha

There is very little I can add to what has been written about this lovely soul moving film other than you owe it to yourself to read the novel it is based on. I still find it amazing Arthur Golden was able to write from the female perspective as well as he did. Equally amazing is the performance delivered by Ziyi Zhang who is best known as a martial arts action star. If she brings this level of skill to the rumored live production of MULAN it will end up on my must-see list. Beautiful direction, stunning music and rich visuals...across the baord fantastic and well deserving of the three Oscars it won.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


As action movies go this has to be one of the most insanely stupid I've come across in ages. Jason Stratham plays a hitman who has been knocked out and poisoned and is about to die...really fucking soon. Only adrenalin is keeping him alive as he sets out to avenge his soon to be death. This is a perfect excuse for Stratham to go all pissed off Londoner and bust shit loads of skulls, smash things up and swear one fuck of alot all presented in staccato edited style which will leave the viewer feeling like they are indeed "cranked" up on the same epinephrine flowing through Stratham character's veins. This off course is all great bloody fun and enjoyed this one right from the get go to the stunning finish...and I do not jest when I say's a great ending. Country star, now more actor I think, Dwight Yoakam has a great bit part as Stratham's doctor and Amy Smart sure shows she has grown up quite a bit since her FELICITY days though I suppose her work on ROBOT CHICKEN might attest to that as well. Either way you slice it this is a Stratham showcase an it excels beyond your wildest dreams though I'm not so sure you would want to watch it whilst jacked on speed!~

Waist Deep

Nice tag on this film if I do say "Bonnie and Clyde-on the flip side". Yet another film about life in "the hood" this one had me excited because it stars The Game. Sadly, it is a hip-hop star who goes by The Game and not the wrestler Triple H. No matter, this game is one nasty motherfucker to say the least, running around hacking hands off here and there and just being an all around miserable prick which is perfect for the villain here. From the get go I wasn't expecting much and I must say it was a head scratcher to see just how well this film is directed. The acting is above par as we have Tyrese Gibson and Larenz Tate, both vets by now and actress Meagan Good who we've seen in tons of things including the just released ONE MISSED CALL. The acting coupled with some interesting camera work and rapid fire pacing make this one highly entertaining piece of work even if the ending leaves a tad bit to be desired. Doubt you'll see this on TMN anytime soon but well worth a look if it's on your specialty movie channel

The Good Shepherd

As a director Robert De Niro really only has A BRONX TALE to his credit. He is supposed to have directed much of THE SCORE but this was uncredited so it's hard to say what exactly he was responsible for. With THE GOOD SHEPHERD we see just what De Niro can do and what a stunning shock it is. His work over the years with Coppola is very apparent here so much so you sometimes feel like you are watching a remake of THE CONVERSATION. I won't even bother going into the job the cast does....even Angelina Jolie brings an A-list performance here. No, this one is all about scripting and direction and it exceeds on both counts. It is so unlike the standard Hollywood fare these days you'd almost think you were watching a foreign film. A thinking person's thriller this is one of the most intriguing motion pictures of the last couple of years. Not to be missed!


This in no way lives up to the 1962 version helmed by Kubrick and scripted by Vladimir Nabokov himself. No, this is an entirely different beast. Jeremy Irons and Melanie Griffith are great actors in their own rights but they sre aren't James Mason and Shelley Winters though I will give Dominique Swain the leg up on Sue Lyon. Still, this is a story dealing with sexual perversion of the greatest kind hence why Adrian Lyne would be drawn to it. It' s afine version, well acted, beautifully shot and finely paced. Perhaps a bit slow for the mainstream North American audiences it does nonetheless possess a powerful long as you don't try to compare it to the Kubrick version.

The Others

If you're into horror films you've probably seen this already and if you haven't then you bloody well should. I don't care if it stars Nicole is one of the finest creepy spook fests of the last decade and if you are one of those idiots who wan'ts to say it's a rip-off of THE SIXTH SENSE you are most definately reading the wrong blog! What we have here is a good old fashioned ghost story wonderfully directed and scored by Alejandro Amenabar who also gave us OPEN YOUR EYES. The tone is claustrophobic, the mood as thick as the fog surrounding the house and the scripting simply top notch. Certainly one you may wish to consider not watching by yourself late at night as this one will give you the proverbial goosebumps!

Kickin It Old Skool

I've seen some mighty damn stupid films in my time but this one takes best in show as the most stunned piece of crap I've ever sat through...even worse than FIRST NIGHT. I mean, poor writing and directing, inept acting and about as funny as having a transport truck run over your dick.....which actually would be funnier than anything offered here! For some reason I thought the breakdancer on the DVD package was Steve Zahn and I was actually looking forward to seeing him in this type of comedy......instead I was given Jamie Kennedy who I honestly feel sorry for here as the guy has talent...just none of it...and I do mean NONE....on display here.
Just bloody fucking awful!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

20 Million Miles to Earth

One of the great monster films of the 50's also just happens to be some of Ray Harryhausen's finest work. I caught this just as it was starting tonight on TMC and I must say they have the finest print of this I've ever seen.....mind was probably the digitally remastered version released on DVD last year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of it's release....still...nice, clean and crisp as can be. As far as the story goes, it's a simple one having astronauts returning from Venus, crash landing causing an alien egg to fall into the hands a boy who sells it off to a local carnival. Egg hatches, out pops a baby Ymir who just so happens to grow really fucking big and ends up putting some serious hurt on Rome. Who cares, we're here for the Harryhausen stop-motion animation and the scene where the Ymir fights the elephant, all of it done with clay and wires, is still an amazing sight to behold. Obviously this is one for genre fans only though I think film students in general should see it at least once as the scene when the Ymir is fighting from atop the Colosseum is one of the great classics of the era.

Blazing Saddles

Over thirty years old now and BLAZING SADDLES still is one of the funniest films you'll ever see. Is there really any sense adding to all of the writings there are on this's been voted one of the top best of all time on several's Gene Wilder's best work second only to YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and sadly it's style of humor may be lost on present and future generations. I still say it's worth seeing just for Madeline Kahn's song and dance number for I'M TIRED.

The Island

I can't say I'm the biggest fan of Michael Bay's style of action film. I enjoyed THE ROCK but films like PEARL HARBOR, ARMAGEDDON left me cold. I've yet to see TRANSFORMERS so I can't comment on that one but I can say I was pleasantly surprised by THE ISLAND. Of course it's pretty hard to fuck up a film starring Ewan McGregor, Sean Bean and Scarlett Johansson but I was half expecting Bay to give it the old boy socut try. Instead we have a tightly directed, well written little action number dealing with one of our modern day hot topics...cloning. Yes, we've seen much of THE ISLAND before but as a sci-fi action thriller it more than amply gives us a well needed jolt of cerebral blasting. Not the best you will see but certainly not the worst, then again I'll watch Johansson do tire commercials for hours on end but that's another story.

Syriana is a great little film to ruin your day with. Grim and desolate look at the Middle East and the world's desire for their oil will leave you stunned and depressed and sadly is required viewing for anybody wishing to understand the motives of Hezbollah and the terrorist mentality. George Clooney well deserved his Oscar for the amazing work here and his is well supported by an all-star cast but I simply cannot recommend this film to anybody wishing to keep a smile on their face.

Epic Movie

I usually enjoy the spoof flicks this crew the case of EPIC just fucking sucked.....I mean...really really really sucked. Not even Kal Penn and Tony Cox could help this poorly written and executed piece of shit. Crispin Glover gets a small laugh and Darrell Hammond gets the only belly buster in this whole sordid mess. Avoid at all and any cost and pray MEET THE SPARTANS is better!

The Illusionist

I had to go and hunt up a copy of this as when I caught it over Christmas I somehow missed the end and of course there is where all of the real action is. I certainly found it odd to see two movies dealing with magicians released back to back as was the case with this and THE PRESTIGE and for my money THE PRESTIGE is the better of the two though they really should not be compared. In THE ILLUSIONIST we see similar elements true, but the love story in more out in the open, the magic being merely a means to let the story unfold. Edward Norton once again delivers an amazing performace as does Rufus Sewell and even Paul Giamatti manages to pull off a role without being an annoying twit. Jessica Biel was a little light for my liking as the female lead but even that can be overlooked because the overall feel and scenics of the film are grande enough to sweep you into the tale of the past. I wouldn't recommend is as a double bill with THE PRESTIGE but along with another romance it would do just fine.

Kung Fu Hustle

As some of might have noticed I'm trying to catch up on the blogging backlog from over the holidays so in some cases I am not giving certain flicks their just attention. With KUNG FU HUSTLE all you really need to know is martial arts vet Stephen Chow both directs and stars in this MATRIX inspired spoof and believe me...the action is so over the top it will leaves you drop jawed and in stitches. Certainly this is one for fans of the genre only but a riotous bit of fun in any case.

Step Up

Excluding foreign films I usually think it's a bad sign when the only actor I know in a film happens to be Heavy D....such was the case with STEP UP. Now, a Chilean friend of mine made it her New Year`s resolution to teach me how to salsa dance and believe me....I feel sorry for the poor woman from the bottom of my blackened heart. I just happen to be one of those white folks who Eddie Murphy used to enjoy making fun of when it comes to dancing so to say this lady has more than her work cut out for her would be a gross understatement. That aside, I try to pay attention to the dance flicks now just in case I might glean something by osmosis and in doing so noticed something about STEP UP I might have otherwise missed. It happens to be the directorial debut of Anne Fletcher who by all accounts is one of the busiest and most respected choreographers in Hollywood today and I guarantee you've seen her work even if you aren't aware of it. Hence, STEP UP is a great little dance show if that is all you are looking for. As a teen romance it's a drama....I've seen Saturday cartoons with better substance. That being said.....the film is all about the dance and if this is what you are looking for you will be duly impressed. Now will somebody please tell me who the hell Channing Tatum is and why he's so bloody damn important!


Here is one serious homage to the B-list monster movies of the 50's and 60's from the great Joe Dante and in paying said homage he manages to create what turns out to one of his most clever films ever. It's an interesting premise for sure. A movie schlock movie produced, played to a T by John Goodman, brings his new film to a small town in Florida during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and this is what the action revolves around. While meant to be a light hearted comedy, Dante captures the sheer terror of the moment in history as seen through the eyes of a teenager living through it and the results are perhaps the best examination of the emotions involved to be found in any film period. Dante also incorporates lots of in-jokes and nods to the real films of the period as well and using Kevin McCarthy in the film-within-a-film MANT is just one of those great treats. Good fun with a serious underbelly MATINEE certainly delivers more than first meets the eye and be sure to look for Naomi Watts in one of her first big screen appearances.

Friday, January 11, 2008

There's Something About Mary

Do I really have to bother blogging about this laugh filled bit of crude absurdity. Yes, it was amazing to see Cameron Diaz do such a film and Matt Dillon was bloody great... but we all know it was the dog Puffy. I was happy to discover even Chris Elliott couldn't screw up this film simply because the writing is too strong. is offensive but it's still bloody of course know that because I imagine everybody has seen this one by now.

The Quick and the Dead

The horror world of fandom sure got their blood splattered panties in a collective bunch back in the day when it was announced Sam Raimi was going to make a western starring Sharon Stone no less. I suppose none of us need have bothered and in retrospect it is easy to see just how much the spaghetti westerns influenced Raimi's work. THE QUICK AND THE DEAD is excellent genre fun if you can get past Stone's character. I myself had no problem with her though I'm well aware many did. Hell, I had no problem with Leonardo DiCaprio's self assured boyish gun-slinging obnoxious twit role either. Doesn't matter if you do because the work from Russell Crowe and Gene Hackman is so strong they could have casted a legion of chimps for support cast and thier performances are so good it could carry the whole damn thing. Fortunately this is not the case. It is a genre homage through and through with an interesting twist. Lance Henriksen has a great bit role and look for Gary Sinise in a very interesting cameo to say the least. It isn't UNFORGIVEN but it certainly does the job.


I was sure I had blogged this sucker ages ago but a look through the records proves me any case...I seem to recall this was made around the same time as LEGEND and was held back from release so as not to compete with the other fantasy montrosity. Despite this being a Jim Henson film and having David Bowie in the lead I've never been a huge fan of this film. It might have had something to do with the bad taste left in my mouth after LEG END, it might have been the god-awful Bowie title track (which may be the worst song of his illustrious career!) or it may have been the fact I wanted to hoof Jennifer Connolly's character clean off of the nearest fantasy cliff. It doesn't matter really....Bowie looked like he was having a blast making it, the kids will still enjoy it despite the look being somewhat dated and it wasn't made for me in the first place......though I did enjoy the farting rocks for some morbid reason!

State and Main

One might be tempted to call this a standard ensemble peice from the great David Mamet if there were such a beast. Here with STATE AND MAIN we have more of a character study of a small community and the way it is disrupted when a group of Hollywood film people show up to work their trade. To be sure there are some amazing performances to be had here, especially from William H. Macy, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Alec Baldwin. Pleasant surprises here would be Sarah Jessica Parker and Julia Stiles. It's an interesting story though I suspect many may find it a touch slow and dry...good for a Sunday afternoon time waster if nothing else.

The Messengers

It certainly helps to be familiar and enjoy the Japanese and Korean stlye of horror these days to enjoy THE MESSENGERS. It is slow and atmospheric and generates the slow burn scare rather than slapping you upside the head with viscera and flying intestines. The Pang brothers, famed for their EYE films in Asia, helm this Amercian project and the results are all well and good if you get this manner of film making. The ending is satisfying enough chosing to explain the happenings instead of leaving it up for interpretation and I guess the most important thing I could say about this one is if William B. Davis, A.K.A. the Smoking Man shows up wanting to but your farm........sell the fucking thing!


I caught the first part of this one on the flight back to Halifax for the holidays and then was able to catch the second half of it on the return end. I was so surprised I had to hunt this one down to make sure the air pressure wasn't altering my judgement. People from genration X have been referring to SUPERBAD as the FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH high of the modern age....I think this may be taking things a tad bit too far but there is no doubt this crass little comedy had had an impact with the current teen set. Why? It's crude, it's sexy, it's outrageous and over the top and it's damn funny. Michael Cera is no surprise to me here.....his work on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT more than prepared him for his role here...the stunners for me were Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.....both of which I was prepared to hate, not only as characters but as actors, right from the get go. Both managed to knock my socks off and I'm sure I not only disturbed people on the plane but a few neighbors when I rewatched this last night. It sick and it's disturbed...exactly what a good teen comedy should be and every now and then such a thing can do the soul well.

Man on Fire

I somewhat recall seeing the 1987 original with Scott Glenn as Creasy, the role Denzel Washington would reprise in this 2004 version and I can't say as it stuck out as being anything special. Hence, when this one came down the pipeline I was less than enthusiastic to surrender two hours of my life to view it. My bad as they say. This Tony Scott film is one amazingly solid piece of work and perhaps even more so do to some Sunday Christian show I caught whilst nodding off after Corronation Street. It was some hour of power type deal and there was some clean cut Southern boy interviewing Washington and I was quite dumb-struck to discover just how much a man of faith Denzel is. This is important because the character of Creasy is one of a self professed sheep that God lost and this story is as much about his redemption as it is the corruption and moral bankruptcy of others. Sure, there are a few glaring plot problems, the rave hall explosion being one of them but Washington's performance is so strong these can easily be overlooked for the sake of moving the tale along. Scott's music style rapid video editing is perfectly suited for this style of film and it is interesting to note the thematic similarities between MAN ON FIRE and his brother's much so he actually borrows some of the score music. Oddly enough, Tony Scott was supposed to direct the original but was passed over as the studios felt at the time he was not established enough for the job. This may have lit a fire in his belly as this is one of his more passionate pieces of film work. Dakota Fanning is near perfect here and I must say more and more I look forward to seeing her future mature works.....and yes...that is Mickey Rourke as the legal council though you'd never know it from the look of his face. Solid, soul moving piece of work well worth the investment.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


A very odd offering from the great David Fincher indeed, so much so I had to keep pinching myself to remember ZODIAC was his work. One of the tightest hard boiled character studies I've ever seen on the effects a serial killer has on the individual and the community. Unlike Spike Lee's THE SUMMER OF SAM, this look at the work of the self dubbed Zodiac Killer never strays off course. No sidebar look at the events surrounding the happening Fincher sticks to the facts and nothing more. This is not a gratuitous splatter fest, it is an examination of the lives unfolding in the wake of the Zodiac's work and the effects on an intellectual viewer will be profound. Before seeing it I had strongly wondered how they would end this story and the case was unsolved and I must say the conclusion was far better than I could have imagined. Make sure to pause the ending notes as they are of great import...I missed them due to late night tired eyes and it was only when a friend clued me in as to what they said that my questions were put to rest. Slow moving for sure but well worth the effort.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Not sure how I missed this one as it was based on a Philip K. Dick short story but I stumbled across it by accident late last night on SPACE. Poor Ben Affleck sure get's the piss taken out of him by the critics and public both and I've never quite understood why. He's pleasant enough to look at, his acting skills are more than OK and he's great in the action roles. Here he plays a reverse engineer who figures out trade secrets for the competition and then has his memory erased so as not to divulge what he's done. He's set up by a nasty dude and then only has an envelope filled with what appears to be random articles in which to figure out what has happened to him. Yes, we've seen all this before, especially in MEMENTO and the film certainly borrows heavily from MINORITY REPORT in look and feel. So what, it's a fun and though provoking ride and director John Woo as always throws in some fabulous chase scenes to spice things up. Uma Thurman is somewhat wasted here and Colm Feore looks as though he just walked straight off of the set of yet another film where he plays a cold hearted henchman. My biggest complaint here is with Paul Giamatti who once again comes off as an anooying twit. Why can't a Hollywood production ever just sit back and dare to take itself seriously without throwing in some comic relief sidekick? Take the whole thing with a grain of salt and it will more than entertain you.

I Am Legend

Here we are, 2008 and I've somewhat recovered from the damage I did to myself back in my hometown of Halifax over the holidays. It was wonderful to see so many old faces and friends and I thank you all even if my liver doesn't!
Let's start the movie parade for this year with a current flick you can actually catch in the cinema right now should you be so inclined. I AM LEGEND is a remake of a remake based on the short Richard Matheson novel from 1954. For some stupid reason I always think the book was named I AM LEGION from the biblical reference and I really must work harder to correct that in my head. First made as THE LAST MAN ON EARTH in 1964 it was adapted again in 1974 as THE OMEGA MAN. For this 2007 version we stray ever further away from Matheson's original vision and it's a shame as the elements he uses would be of great import here. Still, I'm not going to trash I AM LEGEND until I see the DVD extended or director's cut because this film reeks of having been cut for screening purposes. Will Smith is more than adequate in the lead and at times this version will remind you of an end of the world version of castaway. Filling in for the role of "Wilson" would be the Smith's german shepherd played by the great Abby who for my money is the real star here. It is slow placed, and there a plot holes you could fly a helicopter through but it does have atmosphere and at times will deliver some bonafide creepy shocks.
I caught it on boxing day on the IMAX screen and I would highly suggest you do the same as seeing a deserted downtown New York adds to the desolate feeling Smith's character faces. Not the best you'll see but certainly better than most of the other crap released in 2007.