Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I have yet to read the Stieg Larsson trilogy this came from and after seeing this I doubt I'll bother. A fine suspense film for sure but only stands out as unique due to the fact it takes it's time to develop the main characters but I'm of the mind had this been an American production (there are rumours Fincher may indeed direct a remake) there wouldn't have been much fuss made about it. Indeed they are using a quote (from People I think) to promote this, "believe the hype" and that is about all I found here.....hype. The way it was talked about I expected something akin to BLADERUNNER and LA FEMME NIKITA and it just doesn't deliver. I certainly enjoyed Noomie Rapace as the chick with the lizard on her back but other than that it reminded me of a '70s BBC production. Certainly worth a view but ditch the hype before you do so.


Where oh where do I begin with this one. The Spierig Brothers gave us a unique take on the zombie genre with UNDEAD but from the previews DAYBREAKERS struck me as about to be GATTACA with vampires. Not just because it stars Ethan Hawke but the visual style and indeed DAYBREAKERS stars out in this fashion. It takes itself serious for a bit, then Willem Dafoe shows up as comic relief and a film with mucho potential quickly careens right into predictable nonsense. Entertaining predictable nonsense yes but not what we expected especially when it could have been so much more. Sam Neill looks like he walked right from the set of THE FINAL CONFLICT and sadly adds more ham than substance to this blood fest and yes, there be blood with one of the best exploding head scenes in ages but we get back to the same problem of DAYBREAKERS being camp when you want high art.


Being a fan of Philip Ridley's THE REFLECTING SKIN I went in with some high expectations from HEARTLESS and they were only half met. By every stretch of the imagination this is a dark and complex piece of work but it seems too intent on straddling the balance beam between art-house and main stream and this may irk some viewers. Jim Sturgess as the birth marked photographer who discovers demons living amongst us quickly brings to mind NOMADS and throughout you may find yourself thinking of ANGEL HEART and JACOB'S LADDER as well. It's not a direct rip but the elements Ridley works with here make comparisons inevitable. Interesting just how many members of the support cast are CASUALTY veterans and fans of the show will enjoy this face gazing aspect. Some great scares, good splat and brilliant atmosphere will make you forgive the tidy ending.

Harry Brown

Why critics continue to be so harsh on Daniel Barber's feature debut still puzzles me as this is one bloody good film. By no means unique as we've seen this "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore" story many times but the way it's presented here gives it a new twist. There is in fact a story and where it ends up should take you by surprise. What also might surprise you is Michael Caine who appears to have actually showed up to film this rather than mailing in his work. This is in no way a knock at Caine who I always enjoy but there is a gravitas to his work here we've not seen recently. Many ave written they found the villains cartoonish and if so I'd love to know what 'toons they be watchin' 'cause I want 'em! The scene where Caine goes to buy a gun introduces us to a couple of blokes you're not likely to forget anytime soon and by my book is an instant classic. Aside from the excellent ending I enjoyed Barber's restraint with the social commentary. Unlike so many American films he doesn't hammer you over the head with a Reader's Digest message of the day, he doesn't have to as it's there right before your eyes and while you may like HARRY BROWN you wont like what you see.

The Good Guy

Uggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....why oh why do I continue to torture my peepers with teenie targeting stuff like this? Because every now then there are little gems to be found. THE GOOD GUY doesn't quite reach gem but it's a better offering than lots of other stuff out there and if nothing else it answered my question of whatever happened to Anna Chlumsky. Turns out the breakout childhood star is doing bit work is flicks like this. Alexis Bledel of GILMORE GIRLS fame struck me a little too weak to lead this ensemble which could have done better with a heavier presence to match the males on display. The Brazilian waxing scene was an excellent showcase of former tweenine TV talent which I quite enjoyed and throwing Bryan Greenberg and Scott Porter, both good Omaha, Nebraska boys, together was a great touch. Speaking of Porter, he plays a great scum bucket and somebody has best snag him a serial killer role and fast. I say this because THE GOOD GUY has shades of AMERICAN PSYCHO and other than said "good guy" you will probably hate all of the characters including a long-time INK CASUALTY fave Andrew McCarthy who justly slimes in every scene he's involved with. I'm not giving THE GOOD GUY the thumbs up but if you are stuck watching it there are a few things of interest, the lovely Kate Nauta certainly being one of them.

Hot Tub Time Machine

When I see John Cusack is starring in something new I used to get excited but after 2012, 1408 and now this, not so much. He has one great moment, with sunglasses and a bong, which gets more of a cerebral chuckle than a belly laugh and this is the problem with HOT TUB TIME isn't very funny. I'm serious, the only thing I laughed out loud at was the friggin' squirrel! Sure, it was entertaining as a time waster but it never steps up to the plate and taps the homer. Crispen Glover tries to spice things up, nothing doin' and while I always love to see Montreal's Jessica Pare in a state of undress it isn't enough to make me recommend this one to anybody. Hell, they couldn't even get the real POISON to do the flick.

Green Zone

If you were looking for another BOURNE film in this one forget it. Paul Greengrass does a fine ob directing and actually managed to edit this one in a non-headache inducing fashion but the heavy moral bent to the script gets in the way of what should an eyes forward action flick. Matt Damon once again shows he's more than cut out for this type of work but there is nothing here to make this project stand out. Fine if there is nothing else to view, otherwise forgettable.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dear John

From the opening scene I thought I'd be writing something nice about DEAR JOHN and then it went all Energizer Bunny on me and now I won't. To quote a local nine year old I asked about this as she was returning the DVD to the shop "it was sooooooooooo fucking sad" and I'm honestly not sure if she meant that as crying sad or simply weak sad. I don't remember the Nicholas Sparks novel dragging like this and I'm fond of Lasse Hallstrom's work but something here just doesn't add up and I think this is about all I have to say about DEAR JOHN.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Brooklyn's Finest

The last time we saw Ethan Hawke directed by Antoine Fuqua was in TRAINING DAY and he was the fresh faced rookie with the moral compass. Almost a decade later we see him flipping the coin as a cop with a moral dilemma. So does Richard Gere in a role quite similar to that he played in THE FLOCK. So does Don Cheadle whose issues are a bit more complex and involve Wesley Snipes making his big return to the mainstream. It's an ambitious project for Fuqua and he nearly pulls it off but the end there is something missing. Still can't put my finger on what it was but what could have been an exceptional film falls short and remains merely above average. Great opening scene and Vincent D'Onofrio is excellent for the little bit of screen time he gets. Fantastic to see Lili Taylor back on the big screen and a racey breakout role for ALL MY CHILDREN's Shannon Kane.

Green Street Hooligans 2

As far as I know Ross McCall is the only leftover from the first but no matter, this is a fun little number mixing tow great things, fottie and violence. Prison drama with boat loads of ass kicking, bukets of blood and a fine showcase for the talents of Graham McTavish. Stuntman turned filmmaker Jesse V. Johnson knows what it takes to deliver a film hence why it's above average.


Well, for once I can honest to God say this was an earth moving film as there just so happened to be an earthquake during the jet scene! So happens to be a first for me and I can pretty much say that myth of birds knowing when such an event is about to happen is just that, a myth, as they fluttered about for a second and were right back at the seeds before the quake had even ended but back to INVICTUS.
Of all the great things I could say about Clint Eastwood let me state this, he constantly reminds me what film making is all about. Never mind the artistic liberties taken here (the title itself is supposedly in error), never mind the whitewashed politics and put aside the lengthy rugby segment at the end, INVICTUS is an inspirational and extremely well crafted film. Morgan Freeman well deserved the Oscar this earned him and he did indeed catch the magic of Mandela he spoke of in so many interviews promoting this picture. Matt Damon, though certainly a main character is mereley a sidebar much like the rugby itself but his scene in Mandela's actual prison cell is the stuff movie legends are made of. With South Africa holding he world cup of soccer at the moment this is a perfect time to rent this one if it hasn't already graced your screen.

Valentine's Day

An all-star chick flick named after the sappiest day of the's as bad as you think! BUT I loved it. The whole thing struck me as what life would be like if you had a dozen movie channels and an ol' big ass clicker. There are maybe a dozen stories going on in this Garry Marshall picture and maybe a hundred faces you'll know which is why I enjoyed it so much. It's TMZ in movie form. Hell, even Taylor Swift makes an appearance, her first and it's in funny good and I'll fess up to being happy to see her despite that damn overplayed 15 song of hers.
Ashton the guy but fuck me he was bad in this one. Julia Roberts....worse and why does she always do an airplane scene in these type of flicks. Great scene between Anne Hathaway and Queen Latifah....well...actually between Hathaway and herself. Jennfer Garner and Bradley Cooper.....why Marshall didn't do the obvious ALIAS reunion is beyond me. Jamie Foxx and the acid reflux line is classic and you bloody well can't tell me he didn't enjoy working with Jessica Biel. Anna Kulinova cameos, there is a dog named Pushkin and a shot with Alexis Peters who just so happens to be the niece of Joe Mantegna who STEALS the film with one FIVE SECOND cameo!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

While Brad Pitt gets top billing in this one the film actually belongs to Casey Affleck who is causing one fuck of a stir right now with his work in THE KILLER INSIDE ME. To date we really haven't seen Casey show his chops but he sure as hell does here and if the competition wasn't so stiff in 2008 he would have snagged an Oscar on this one. Pitt himself does some fine work here though at times you wonder if he isn't blending Early from KALIFORNIA and Jeffrey from TWELVE MONKEYS. As good as his acting is here his best is when he 's playing dead and the scenes of Jesse on death display are uncanny in their historical realism. Andrew Dominik does an excellent job directing this thinking man's Western and though I would have rather had the film narration free I can certainly understand why he chose to do so. I'd love to see the original four hour cut but most important here is JESSE JAMES shows off Dominik's style and it seems he's a perfect fit to helm the Cormac McCarthy project CITIES OF THE PLAIN. Those looking for fast Western shoot-em-up action you might want to take a pass but those who like their fare character study driven will absolutely love this one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


This take on the Hercules legend comes courtesy of Hallmark and if you can get by some low budget effects this made for television number isn't bad. Of course it's meant for the family so the blood and sex is kept to the minimum but as a Sunday time waster with the kiddies you can't lose. I had a bit of trouble with Paul Telfer in the lead as there is some heavy star power here with the likes of Timothy Dalton, Sean Astin, Elizabeth Perkins, Tyler Mane, Kim Coates and Leelee Sobieski on board. Ah Leelee.........yes....she still needs to go back to acting school because about all she does here is look pensive and doe-eyed but hey, that's why we love her. Straight forward stuff you can take or leave.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rush Hour 2

"We could have had something special......but you is one crazy ass bitch". Chris Tucker utters this line and on it's merit alone I give RUSH HOUR 2 the big thumbs up! I love this line so much I rank it up there in my top ten best in cinema history! As for the picture itself it's everything you'd expect. I always look at the RUSH HOUR series as a poor man's LETHAL WEAPON but they deliver what they're supposed to. Would have like to have seen more action from John Lone who is rather wasted here but the Jackie Chan/Don Cheadle fight scene more than makes up for it. Ziya Zhang steals every scene she's in and always great to see Maggie Q. Standard fare but at least you know what to expect.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Ranger, the Cook and a Hole in the Sky

I checked this one out simply on the strength of Sam Elliott who I find can make any film worth watching. This certainly holds true here but even better was how good this little made for TV number turned out to be. Adapted from the Norman Maclean (A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT) short story this deals with a young woodsman and the adventures of the year before he turns 18. Jerry O'Connell does duty as Mac and is amazing well casted here and I'm tempted to sat this is the best work I've seen him do. While Elliott is great as always and is joined by card master extrodinaire Ricky Jay and Molly Parker it is the minor cast that blew me away. A virtual all-star number of Canadian character actors make this a great face watcher and with damn near 90 % of the cast being X-FILES or BATTLESTAR GALACTICA alumni sci-fi heads will have a blast with this one. Don S Davis, Michael Tayles, Tom Butler and Robert Wisden to name a few all add a special flavor to the mix making this one extremly pleasurable view. May be a bit slow for some but I thought this added to the charm and director John Kent Harrison has a work to be proud of here. Excellent score provided by veteran Lawrence Shragge only sweetens the pot here.

The Stranger

Robert Lieberman predominantly works in television with directing stints on THE X-FILES and DEXTER so it's interesting to see him at the helm of this Stone Cold Steve Austin vehicle. These two elements are about all that's interesting about THE STRANGER which suffers not from the directing, script or even Stone Cold but wretchedly poor acting all around. While Stone Cold is by no means a thespian he more than adequately does the job he was hired to do and I'm of the thought only his fans will take anything away from this one. The script has some interesting aspects and is crafted well enough but offers little in the something new department. Erica Cerra does her best to spice things up but the supporting cast simpky sucks the life out of anything her or Austin try to get going. Might pass as a good hangover film but nothing more.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

R.I.P.-Peter Orlovsky

The generation slowly fades

Clash of the Titans

Louis Leterrier delivers a faithful remake of this 1981 "classic" and fans of the original will be happy. It's just as cheesy, over-the-top and silly as the original despite the fact we have CGI replacing Dynamation. To Leterrier's credit he did his best to lure Ray Harryhausen out of retirement for this project but Ray was having no part of that action. I had a bit of a problem with Sam Worthington in the lead as Perseus though I can't think of who I would have rather seen. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes seem to having fun with the ham sandwiches and the lovely Gemma Arterton if fab as Io. Truth be told though, I was never that gig on the original and though this is slick and action packed it struck me as more of that been there and seen that stuff though I'll give the giant scorpions ther due. Biggest surprise for me was being happy to see Bubo the owl which I hated in the first. Catch it in 3-D if you can.

Turn the Beat Around

By any standards this film was a stinker. Promoted on the backs of some winners from that SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (can't remember if it was Canada or U.S.) show whick I can't stand in the first place, it seemed to me they couldn't even make the boogieing interesting. Then again, I'm not the vacuous couch tater this inane drivel was targeted at and the only reason I suffered through the damn thing is because CTV slapped in in front of the season finale of CRIMINAL MINDS. Alas, I will admit to enjoying Shauna MacDonald (of TRAILER PARK BOYS and SAW fame not to mention the pride of Antigonish, N.S.) but then you could put her in a test pattern and I'd be entertained.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Edge of Darkness

I'm happy to say this is one of those rare cases where I HAVEN'T seen the original British TV series this was based on (same with STATE OF PLAY both in need of viewing) so I can't make all cafe chic and high brow pooh pooh on how badly Martin Campbell fucked it up. Happy because I was able to watch this with clean eyes as it were and I sure as hell liked what I saw. Then again, how could Campell screw it up when there were only six episodes in the series and he directed them all, besides, from CASINO ROYALE to THE MASK OF ZORRO I just love his film making style and I'm anxious to see what he does with the GREEN LANTERN but we're talking about EDGE OF DARKNESS. It's pretty straight forward stuff being cop's daughter is killed and said cop wants revenge. There are a few interesting twists along the way but all in all it's a forum for Mel Gibson to growl and kick the shit out of anything that gets in the way and here in lay the problem. People have got a serious hate on for Mel these days, right or wrong is of no consequence, they do and this I believe is why so many folks didn't twig to this picture. I loved it and I think Mel was just fine, especially the funky vocals he uses in the part. The suspense is good, pacing fine and the action excellent. There is one car scene that will simply knock your socks off! All of it wrapped up with an ending you'll either love or hate (I thought it worked) making this a definate viewing choice.