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Old 02-12-2009, 12:45 PM   #1
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I didn't want to go searching for the old thread, so I decided to toss up another. I am still writing movie reviews on a weekly basis, and I thought I would continue to share those. So, here is my latest:




HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU (**/****)


In 2004, comedian Greg Behrendt and actress Liz Tuccillo authored the New York Times bestselling self-improvement book "He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys," inspired from a moment from the highly successful HBO television series Sex and the City. Behrendt worked on the Emmy Award winning sitcom as the only straight-male writer on staff, as well as a consultant, while Tuccillo worked on the show as a story editor, whose job it is to assist with the development of stories and then ensures that the scripts that are penned by the writers are suitable for the show's production budget.

In a season six episode of the series, entitled "Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little," show headliner Sarah Jessica Parker stars as the widly popular fashionista Carrie Bradshaw, who is dating a novelist named Jack Berger, played by Ron Livingston. Carrie's best friend Miranda Hobbes, portrayed by Cynthia Nixon, decides to pick the brain of Berger, hoping he can provide some insight into the post-date behavior of a man who Miranda believes might be a potential love interest for her. Berger, though, stops far short of letting her down gently. "I'm not going to sugar coat it for you," Berger says. "He's just not that into you. When a guy's really into you, he's coming upstairs, meeting or no meeting. There are no mixed messages."

Five years later, Hollywood comes calling. Never one not to threaten to destroy a good idea, New Line Cinema has taken a simple, humorous line turned slightly amusing book and used it as the basis for a well-manicured romantic comedy arriving in theatres just in time for the Valentine's Day holiday. And the movie boasts an incredible ensemble, including Academy Award winners Ben Affleck (Smokin' Aces, Hollywoodland) and Jennifer Connelly (Inkheart, The Day the Earth Stood Still), Emmy Award winner Jennifer Anniston (Marley & Me, The Break-Up), Golden Globe nominees Drew Barrymore (Lucky You, Music and Lyrics), Kevin Connolly (The Notebook, TV's Entourage) and Scarlett Johansson (The Spirit, Vicky Christina Barcelona), and rising young talents like Bradley Cooper (Yes Man, TV's Nip/Tuck), Ginnifer Goodwin (Birds of America, TV's Big Love) and Justin Long (Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Strange Wilderness).



Now playing, He's Just Not That Into You explores the relationships of nine individuals in Baltimore, Maryland, all linked to each other in a strange six-degrees-of-Kevin Bacon sort-of way. At the heart of the story is Gigi Haim (Goodwin), a bubbly but insecure twenty-something outright craving a boyfriend, yet is at times too overbearing for the men who are at least initially interested in getting to know her. While they try to let her down gently, Gigi repeatedly misinterprets their politeness as a sign that they like her. One such guy is Conor Taylor (Connolly), a real estate agent involved in a friends-with-benefits relationship with Anna (Johansson), an aspiring singer and yoga instructor who only seeks comfort in Conor's arms when she has no one else to turn to. While Conor is not feeling it with Gigi and holds out hope for more than just a fling with Anna, Gigi purposely tries to bump into Conor, as she wants to find out why he hasn't returned her calls. Instead, she meets Conor's best friend Alex (Long), a blunt bartender that takes it upon himself to offer Gigi some needed dating advice.

Gigi's older sister is Janine Gunders (Connelly), the only one in the wide-range of characters who is actually married. She and her husband Ben (Cooper) have seen their marriage grow stale, to the point that the most exciting and flirtatious conversation in their day revolves around what color of paint to use in a fix-it-up room in their house. Then, a chance encounter at a grocery store brings Ben and Anna together. Some brief sexual tension between the two should have been deflated once Ben mentioned he was married, but that news does little to shut down Anna's advances. Partly because Anna receives a vote of confidence from her friend Mary (Barrymore), the editor of a gay-themed Baltimore newspaper. And Ben's best-friend is Neil Jones (Affleck), who has been dating Beth Bartlett (Aniston), Gigi's co-worker, for seven-years. The two seem insanely happy with each other, but they struggle with the fact that one wants to get married while the other doesn't.



A movie that aims to chronicle relationships and rejection in an honest manner, He's Just Not That Into You is like an overcooked episode of Sex and the City with a delicious cast and arousing storylines that are unfortunately hampered by the filmmakers' failure to trim the fat and locate the meat in the material. There is simply too much going on and a handful of characters are rather pointless, with their primary purpose in the film being to connect one significant character to another. Otherwise, some worthwhile moments are present, but the picture refrains from becoming a steadfast drama ala HBO's now defunct series Tell Me You Love Me, instead opting for a watered-down version sprinkled with some lighthearted comedy that offers just as many happy times as it does tears.

Directed by Ken Kwapis, who previously brought us the wretched romantic comedy License to Wed and the far too ordinary coming of age tale The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, this film might be his strongest work to date, but offers just as many hits as misses and Kwapis never quite finds a pleasing balance between drama and comedy, thus the film becomes more melodramatic than anything. Adapted for the screen by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, who previously worked with Barrymore on Never Been Kissed, the film is also nasty and meanspirited in its treatment of its female characters. It dissects women as obsessed with having to have a man to make their life fulfilling, regardless of his availability, or at the very least small-minded enough to destroy a lengthy, healthy and committed relationship over something as petty as the label that comes with being married.

While Cooper and Johansson's extramarital affair is only about lust and provides the needed eye-candy for viewers in search of it, the story does open the door for Connelly to deliver the best performance in the film as the wife willing to go the extra-mile and try to improve her flaws in order to save her marriage, despite the fact that it's not her fault it's tanking. And Affleck and Aniston seem so real and comfortable on-screen together, but their complex relationships is not explored deeply enough and is overshadowed by the abundance of shallow and paranoid people who ultimately drive the picture.

Starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Ginnifer Goodwin and Justin Long, He's Just Not That Into You has a 129-minute runtime and is rated PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language.

Last edited by tobynosker; 02-12-2009 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 02-14-2009, 04:19 PM   #2
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Great post, toby. Ebert has nothing on you. :thumbup:
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Old 02-15-2009, 11:25 AM   #3
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Went to see this with my fiancee yesterday and let us just say it has its moments. There are some pretty good one liners that made me laugh but on a whole it was a fairly predictable outcome and it kind of got bogged down a bit. It probably could have been a bit shorter.
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Old 02-19-2009, 11:12 AM   #4
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SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (****/****)


On Sunday, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences will hand out their coveted golden statues to this year's Academy Award winning films at an annual star studded gala in Hollywood. The frontrunner for this year's Best Picture Oscar is the feel good story of the year, Slumdog Millionaire. Nominated for ten Academy Awards, this wonderfully upbeat and surprisingly infectious film has already become the critical darling of this winter's award season. The picture has won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, as well as four Golden Globe Awards, seven British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, three British Independent Film Awards and five Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, among countless other nominations and accolades from those inside the industry.

Last month, Slumdog Millionaire also snatched the Producers Guild Award for Theatrical Motion Pictures, besting other nominees The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon and Milk. Over sixty-percent of the time, the winner of the Producers Guild Award has gone on to win the Best Picture Oscar, and those that don't are usually victims of political maneuvering and offstage scheming, such as when Miramax distribution company's heavily-pushed Shakespeare in Love won over Saving Private Ryan, or when the controversial Brokeback Mountain was upset by a little film festival picture known as Crash.

Slumdog Millionaire derives from the award winning 2005 novel "Q and A," penned by Indian diplomat Vikas Swarup. The novel is a fictional firsthand account of a penniless waiter in Mumbai, India who becomes the biggest quiz show winner in television history when he somehow answers twelve random questions. The waiter, Ram Mohammad Thomas, is then sent to jail as accusations flourish that he cheated to claim the ultimate prize. The international bestseller has been translated into thirty-six different languages and has also been adapted into an acclaimed radio play and stage musical. The big-screen adaptation, directed by Danny Boyle (Sunshine, Millions), begins playing on Friday.



Filmed and set in India, Slumdog Millionaire follows wide-eyed Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a former impoverished street child raised in the slums of Dharavi. When we are first introduced to Jamal, he is being tortured to a great degree by a police inspector (Irrfan Khan) who is using physical force as a means to coerce Jamal into admitting that he has cheated as a contestant on the widely successful Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Audiences will instantly recall the ABC television game show that captivated the nation at the beginning of the decade by offering very large cash prizes to contestants who could correctly answer a series of consecutive multiple choice questions that would increase in difficulty the further along the game would move. The Indian version showcased in this movie is entirely the same, although the pay off is ultimately higher, and instead of the often shallow-brained Regis Philbin steering the ship, the version in the film is guided by the overly animated and outright bombastic Prem Kumar (Anil Kapoor), who relays to us that he has risen from Jamal's current slumdog status to become a prosperous celebrity in his homeland.

To the surprise of an entire nation, Jamal has made it to the final question that, if he answers correctly, will net him $20 million. But Jamal's incredible run on the game show mostly comes as a shock to Kumar and the rest of the show's producers who believe that Jamal has managed to swindle his way through the game. They elect to turn Jamal over to the police who demand answers as to how an uneducated teenage orphan has been able to exhibit such intelligence and vast knowledge of the world around him. Prominently presented in a series of flashbacks, Jamal documents the particulars of a childhood where knowledge was imparted on him through what most would describe as the school of hard knocks; where riots, gang violence, savagery and abandonment have been indelibly impressed in his memory. Yet, maybe more importantly, Jamal has discovered a lot about himself through his distraught relationship with his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal), along with his budding friendship with a mislead orphan girl named Latika (Freida Pinto).



A breathtaking romantic adventure cleverly constructed as a modern-day fairy tale masked inside of an unyielding, gritty environment, Slumdog Millionaire is rightfully being heralded as one of the best films of 2008. Two-time Academy Award nominated screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, The Full Monty) delivers a divine screenplay that relies completely on a gimmicky narrative and a storyline deeply rooted in fate and destiny that may turn off a few, but for those willing to take the journey, you will find one of the most exhilirating worlds recently depicted on-screen. Beaufoy and director Danny Boyle, who never ceases to surprise audiences as he continues to wrestle with new ideas within varying genres with each passing film, have turned out one of the more purely entertaining, completely realized films of the year.

It's extremely hard to amass something so funny, inspiring, suspenseful and profound out of a plotline that seems entirely simple and slightly mawkish on paper, but that is what the creative crew behind Slumdog Millionaire have been able to do. At first glance, the picture looks like a compelling take on life in the slums of Mumbia, resembling one of this decade's other great films City of God, which explored the poverty-striken life of children growing up in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. But in the end, the two films may share a similar visual flair and energetic pace, but they seem to be operating on separate wavelengths. This picture is uplifting, high-spirited and draws a breath of hope out of a life that tends to be emotionally shattering.

Traditionally this sort of joyous story in today's film world is never quite as technically impressive as this flick turns out to be, but that's because Boyle has made a typical Hollywood-themed movie alongside an unfamiliar backdrop. The music throughout Slumdog Millionaire is heartpounding and exciting, from the fresh hip-hop beats of M.I.A. to the fierce score from Oscar nominated composer A.R. Rahman. The warm and colorful allure brought to life by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle expertly assists both the story's uneasy jolts and its intimate embrace, while the splendid performances from unknown actors Patel and Kapoor, as well as the gorgeous Pinto and the under valued child stars at the start of the film, combine to make a first-rate escapist tale.

Starring Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Irrfan Khan and Anil Kapoor, Slumdog Millionaire has a 120-minute runtime and is rated R for some violence, disturbing images and language.
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Old 02-25-2009, 07:54 PM   #5
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Just saw it the other day and really enjoyed it.
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:32 PM   #6
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Madea Goes To Jail


Funny as ****!!!!!
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellis
Just saw it the other day and really enjoyed it.
Agreed. ***.5/****

One of my favorite documentaries of last year, behind Taxi to the Darkside and Gonzo: The Life and Times of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:06 PM   #8
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PAUL BLART: MALL COP (*.5/****)


New York-born comedian Kevin James rose to prominence with his own sitcom in the mid-1990s entitled The King of Queens. The situation comedy, inspired by The Honeymooners sitcom of the 1950s, ran for nine seasons on CBS and was nominated for favorite television comedy at the People's Choice Awards in each of its final two seasons, while in 2006, James earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

Surprisingly, since the start of the show in 1997 up until its final season, James never seemed as active as some television stars when it comes capitalizing on their small-screen success and trying to turn it into a modest box-office career. His feature-film debut came in the 2005 romantic comedy Hitch, opposite Will Smith and Eva Mendes. James starred as a junior accountant who has fallen head-over-heels for one of his clients, but lacks the confidence and the charisma needed to succeed with women. He enlists the help of a self-proclaimed "date doctor" played by Smith, who tries to provide James' character with the necessary tools to woo his client. A predictable and breezy date film, James was likeable but primarily served as the set-up man for Smith to continuously toss jokes off of.

In the summer of 2007, James returned to the big-screen alongside Adam Sandler in the borderline offensive tale I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. In this film, James played Larry Valentine, a widowed father of two who has been informed by his caseworker that he failed to change the primary beneficiary of his pension by the required deadline following the passing of his wife. Seemingly out of options, Valentine decides to fake being a homosexual with his friend and co-worker Chuck Levine (Sandler) so he can name Levine as the caretaker of Larry’s children. A movie that had some potential in the beginning but quickly squandered it away, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry was an uncomfortable and unfunny film experience that attempted to mask its numerous homophobic and misogynistic jokes by adding a small dose of rhetoric geared specifically towards the politically correct crowd, but ultimately failed to move past its goofiness, its cheap jokes and its objectionable stereotypes which hindered the movie's forced concluding message about tolerance and acceptance.



This year, James has landed his first major starring role without another major movie star beside him to steal his comedic spotlight. The film, a witless and asinine jaunt produced by Sandler's Happy Madison Productions and directed by Steve Carr (Are We Done Yet?, Daddy Day Care), is Paul Blart: Mall Cop, now playing. James plays the title role of Blart, a mild-mannered man with dreams of one day making it as a New Jersey State Trooper. But because Blart suffers from hypoglecemia, he has never been able to pass the trooper-designed obstacle course and has instead spent the last ten years working as a security officer at the West Orange Pavilion Mall. Blart is also a single father to young Maya (Raini Rodriguez), whose mother was an illegal immigrant and fled from Paul the second she gained citizenship into the country. And to make matters worse, the two live with Paul's mother (Shirley Knight), who has never stepped away from pampering her son.

While at work, Paul is introduced to the lovely Amy (Jayma Mays), who has just started working at a kiosk known as UnbeWEAVEable, which provides a wide-range of hair extensions and colorful wigs. The two hit off, but a drunken night together at a bar in which Paul publicly humiliates Amy in front of other mall staffers throws a wrench into their relationship. Two days later on Black Friday, Paul's new trainee Veck Sims (Keir O'Donnell) and a group of disguised robbers working as Santa's Little Helpers seize control of the mall, with the intention of stealing thirty million dollars by obtaining the codes to the mall's credit card machines. To keep the actual police at bay, Veck takes some hostages inside, including Amy. But Veck is unaware that Blart is also still inside the mall and is working as the inner-eyes for the local police force.



A foolhardy mishmash of Mallrats, Career Opportunities and Die Hard catered directly to an eight-year old boy's sensibilities, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is one endless joke about an overweight loser who flubs up at every corner, but since he is devoted to his family and his job, I assume that the filmmaker's believe he is the type of guy that we would all love to have as a friend despite his obvious awkwardness, his lack of common sense and his rush to try and draw sympathy to himself in every scenario based on his hefty size. But as hard as it might be to find Blart likeable as an everyday bud, audiences are also supposed to buy into the fact that a good looking twenty-something female is supposed to fall in love with a 43-year old chubby mall cop within three days of meeting each other. I know it's asking too much to expect a film like this to be entirely plausible, but buying into the love subplot requires a much bigger stretch than the material that makes up Blart's form fitting work attire, and it was a gargantuan leap that I was not willing to take.

The first-half of the film plays like a series of bloopers from America's Funniest Home Videos as we watch Blart struggle with an old man on a motorized cart, tussle with an obese woman in Victoria's Secret and cruise around the mall, the parking lot and the entire West Orange community while trying to maintain his balance on a segway. All of these moments are intended to make us laugh, but they are not that funny. Yes, a slight chuckle here or there might arise, but the film has zero sustained laugh-out-loud material.

The second-half of the film is when the action with the hostage takeover begins to take shape, but once again the audience is asked to be blissfully ignorant and not closely examine why we are actually seeing what we are witnessing unfold. Most of the mall robbers appear to be professional BMX bikers that are more interested in performing outrageous stunts than actually taking down Blart. James' commitment to the material, which he co-wrote with former The Kings of Queens writer Nick Bakay, makes most of these wasted scenes somewhat bearable, but they are never that interesting.

Starring Kevin James, Keir O'Donnell, Jayma Mays, Raini Rodriguez and Shirley Knight, Paul Blart: Mall Cop has an 87-minute runtime and is rated PG for some violence, mild crude and suggestive humor, and langauge.
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Old 03-05-2009, 12:40 PM   #9
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THE UNINVITED (*.5/****)




Despite having its moments in time, the horror movie genre continues to produce most of mainstream Hollywood's most insipid and soulless releases each year. The genre, which has fluttered about for decades, was brought to a standstill in the 1990s because of the lack of creative juices used in the making of horror movies. Throughout the decade prior, Hollywood was bombarded with nonstop slasher films like Friday the 13th, Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre which each began with a tinge of original thought, but those ideas quickly spiraled out-of-control, with these three franchises alone combining for twenty-three sequels or remakes. Along came Wes Craven, who in 1996 directed the teen slasher flick Scream, which parodied the genre while shrewdly succumbing to its own conventions. A breath of fresh air, this one release managed to reignite a dormant genre that elected to continue to repeat its obvious mistakes, as it ushered out an overabundance of teen horror pics, including I Know What You Did Last Summer, Teaching Mrs. Tingle and Urban Legends, among others.

The movie studio's ability to constantly beat a dead horse ultimately wrecked the genre, and this was further emphasized in this decade. A 2004 entry into the annual Sundance Film Festival, Saw was a low-budgeted and extremely graphic horror film about two men trapped in a grimy bathroom by the Jigsaw Killer. Saw was an inventive and gruesome offering that immediately maneuvered itself into cult film status, but saw its original premise and clever twists-and-turns soon give way to Hollywood's insatiable appetite and money grubbing mentality for remaking and sequelizing every successful concept ad nauseam. Not only have the once thrilling and exciting ideas behind Saw gotten crushed beneath its own overexposure and lack of creative direction in four sequels, but a new film style known as "torture porn" developed and produced unbearable, yearly-worst productions such as Captivity, Hostel and Turistas.

In 2002, Gore Verbenski directed The Ring, which derived from the Asian horror tale Ringu. Another cult favorite, The Ring was a gripping scare-flick that operated moreso on the psychological aspect of the genre, as well as its well-crafted tense and brooding atmosphere that's far more appealing than any cheap shock tactic technique delivered by others. But after The Ring grossed over $128 million at the box-office, more American studios started adapting Asian horror films, including lesser work like The Grudge and last year's Shutter. Another of its kind, 2009's The Uninvited, is now playing.



An American remake of this decade's earlier South Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited stars 20-year old Emily Browning (Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Ned Kelly) as Anna Rydell. Rydell's mother Lilian (Maya Massar) is terminally ill and resides in the family's boathouse just outside of their waterfront home. Lilian's nurse, Rachel Summers (Elizabeth Banks), has tied a bell around Lilian's wrist that she can ring in case of an emergency. One night, Anna hears the bell ring and becomes alarmed. She rushes to the boathouse to check on her mother, but upon heading back up to the house for the night, the boathouse explodes into flames and the accident results in the life of her mother.

In the present day, ten months following the events of that night, Anna's psychiatrist Dr. Silberling (Dean Paul Gibson) believes Anna is ready to return to home, and releases her from the mental institution that she's been staying in back to the loving arms of her widowed father Steven (David Strathairn). Although she is reunited with her dad and her older sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel), Anna is also brought back into contact with her mother's nurse Rachel, who now lives in their house and is engaged to her father. To this day, Anna still struggles with nightmares from the events of her mother's death, and these visions lead the teenager to suspect that her mother's death was not an accident as a result of a leaky gasoline pipe as previously thought, but that she was in fact murdered by her troubled nurse.



A by-the-numbers fright flick that is better than some but is brought down by its failure to break new ground, The Uninvited scores some points for some effective casting and a fairly clever twist ending, but the overall script is shaky, the direction is as standard as it comes and the build-up to the shocking finale is primarily dull and dreary. The film marks the directorial debut for brothers Charles and Thomas Guard and was adapted for the screen Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro and Craig Rosenberg (After the Sunset). The movie strays far away from the standard teenage horror picture audiences have most recently seen in remakes of Friday the 13th, Prom Night and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's refreshing to see that the teenagers at the forefront of this film are not constantly partying, throwing themselves at the opposite sex and randomly running away from deranged, menacing murderers. Instead, the movie is more a psychological mindgame that does just enough things correctly to make the surprise twist work.

That said, the movie's supernatural aspects are relatively familiar to any fan of the genre and even without watching the original South Korean film that this movie is based on, most of the characters, their interactions with each other and the actions that they ultimately take can be seen coming from a mile away. A movie like The Sixth Sense captured the imaginations of critics and filmgoers alike most notably because of the impact of its conclusion, which would not have been as effective without the intriguing characters and the involving story that captivated us from the start. The Uninvited only exists for its ending, which ties its story together in a logical fashion, but never had enough tension and suspense created prior to its reveal that would enable the twist to fully succeed.

Browning and Kebbel (The Grudge 2, John Tucker Must Die) are the quintessential teenagers devoid of emotions and pleasing personalities who feel entirely wrong for the parts in which they were cast to play. Not surprisingly, Academy Award nominee Strathairn (The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Bourne Ultimatum) is also entirely wasted away in his part as the father. Yet, the movie comes together thanks to an against-type role for female comedic actress Banks (Role Models, Zack and Miri Make a Porno), who transitions wonderfully into the sexy seductress, mysterious nurse character that drives the first two-thirds of the film.

Starring Emily Browning, Elizabeth Banks, Arielle Kebbel, David Strathairn and Jesse Moss, The Uninvited has an 87-minute runtime and is rated PG-13 for violent and disturbing images, thematic material, sexual content, language and teen drinking
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Old 03-13-2009, 11:23 AM   #10
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WATCHMEN (**.5/****)




Former television commerical director Zack Snyder made his feature-film debut in 2004 directing the remake of Dawn of the Dead, a horror revamp of the 1978 cult fave of the same name from George A. Romero, but it was his sophomore effort 300 that made a box-office splash in 2007 and cemented Snyder's place on the Hollywood landscape. A polished, big-budget action flick, 300 borrowed the highly-emphasized computer graphic techniques witnessed in the 2005 film Sin City to create a stylistic treat around the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 B.C., where 300 Spartans engaged in a fight with the advancing and invading Persian army. Vastly outnumbered, the 300 Spartans sacrifice themselves in order to buy time for the rest of the Greek forces to prepare for the pending invasion. The adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel received mixed reaction from critics but was the first blockbuster of that year, grabbing over $210 million in theatres.

Plot-holes were certainly apparent and the dialogue was slightly embarrassing at times when delivered in standard, comic book fashion, but everyone should be allowed at least a couple of popcorn flicks per year to enjoy, simply by turning off the brain, and Snyder made that quite easy by allowing us to sit-back and gaze and marvel over the visual spectacle that is 300. Brazen about appealing to the lowest common denominator in people through shear testosterone-driven action and violence, Snyder's direction strongly illuminated the tremendous battle sequences, with spectacular moments of brutality oftentimes either sped up or slowed down to keep the audience visually hooked. The film also didn’t hold back from showcasing excessive amounts of blood and gore, either, and the cartoonish nature of the events in 300 felt very distinct and incomparable. The CGI-work made the movie a visual delight to sit through, and brought to life beautiful landscapes, gorgeous backgrounds and added several amazing dimensions to the live-action characters. The breathtaking imagery also provided the extraordinary feel of a comic book brought to life, and gave off the impression that you were watching an original and unique film.

With that said, expectations were then raised exceedingly high when it was announced that Snyder would be directing a film adaptation of "Watchmen," lifted from the twelve-issue comic book limited series created by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins. In 2005, "Watchmen" was the only graphic novel listed on Time's 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present, and Entertainment Weekly later placed it in the top fifteen on its list of the 50 best novels of the last 25 years.



Now playing, Watchmen takes place in the mid-1980s where rising Cold War tensions between the United States of America and the Soviet Union threaten a devastating nuclear war, where President Richard Nixon has been elected to an unprecedented fifth term, now seeking a sixth, and where what you thought you might have known or believed to be the truth about the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy turns out to be far different than you ever imagined. A group of costumed and masked vigilantes have become a part of the American fabric, but when one of the former superheroes is murdered, members of this legion uncover a plot that both threatens them and threatens to destroy their historical accomplishments.

The crime-fighting tandem reconnects. They include Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), the daughter of the infamous Sally Jupiter (Carla Gugino) and the lone female in the gang; Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), a retired superhero with a vast amount of technological experience; Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), who turned into a blue-skinned superpowered being after he was accidentally locked in a test chamber at a nuclear research center. Dr. Manhattan now works for the United States government and is the only one who possesses real superhero powers. The group also includes Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), now known as Adrian Veidt after he made his identity public to the world. And lastly, there's Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), the only who still continues vigilante work long after the crime-fighters have been outlawed by the government.



Not as visually satisfying as Snyder's 300 but a film that similar to last year's The Dark Knight continues to provide the genre with complex characters, rare emotional depth in storytelling and provides serious weight to the philosophical and sociological issues discussed, Watchmen is the first big-budget bonanza to hit the big-screen in 2009. Snyder once again takes on the task of transforming a graphic novel into a feature-film and attempts to mimic the source material so closely that the movie lacks any personal touches from the director and is without its own identity. But while one waits to see what sort of original ideas may one day be expressed by a director who is not quite the visionary filmmaker that this movie's previews might suggest, there is no denying that Snyder is slick and suave behind the camera, incredibly deft at adapting source material and somehow finds a way to construct a sophisticated picture for adults filled with the adventure and the excitement they once desired as a youth, alongside of eye-popping visuals, elaborate costumes and gorgeous set designs.

The movie is not without its faults. While I was a fan of composer Tyler Bates' (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Doomsday) original music, especially in the final third of the film, the inclusion of music from Simon & Garfunkel, Tears for Fears and even Nena's German hit "99 Luftballoons" is often offputting and distracting, never quite blending into the story. Also, in the new alternate universe created in the Watchmen, we are still introduced to well-known figures like Pat Buchanan (James M. Connor), President Nixon (Robert Wisden), Henry Kissinger (Frank Novak) and even newsman Ted Koppel (Ron Fassler). Each have their place in the context of the story, but only needed subtle name mentions and not acting recognition. The filmmakers have gone so over-the-top trying to create look-alikes that it immediately pulls you out of the involving story and starts to lessen the impact of ofther moments in the film because you are not as engrossed as you should be.

Adapted by David Hayter (The Scorpion King, X-Men) and Alex Tse, some of the characters in Watchmen leave quite an impression on you long after the film is over. The best of which are Rorschach, with Academy Award nominee Jackie Earle Haley (Semi-Pro, Little Children) stealing just about every scene he is in, and Dr. Manhattan, whose nude appearance might turn off some, but whose backstory provides some of the most compelling elements in the film.

Starring Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley and Patrick Wilson, Watchmen has a 163-minute runtime and is rated R for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and language.
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Old 03-16-2009, 06:52 PM   #11
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Great freakin' flick. Saw it again this past weekend.

3.5 stars
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:50 PM   #12
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I think the movie "Duplicity" looks good. I like Julia Roberts and Clive Owen (especially in their last movie, "The Closer"). There is something very sexy about Julia.
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Old 03-19-2009, 08:00 AM   #13
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Duplicity is one movie that appeals to me more and more each time I see the trailer for it. I just hope it is better than this year's earlier The International, as that movie left me underwhelmed despite a decent performance from Clive Owen.

I will have to hold off on watching Duplicity, though, as I finally get the opportunity to watch Frost/Nixon this weekend, and the girlfriend is dragging me to go see I Love You, Man. I have to squeeze those two movies in, while trying to take in as much NCAA Basketball this weekend as I can.
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Old 03-19-2009, 12:43 PM   #14
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FIRED UP! (*/****)




One of the staples in storytelling in Hollywood is the buddy film, in which the primary focal point in the story is on the friendship of the two male leads, more so than that of a male-female relationship that oftentimes is the driving force behind a picture, but in a buddy film is relegated to the back burner. Male bonding has always been a theme in film since the dawn of cinema, but emerged in the 1970s in response to the feminist movement. According to the Journal of Popular Film and Television, "To punish women for their desire for equality, the buddy film pushes them out of the center of the narrative and replaces the traditional central romantic relationship between a man and a woman with a buddy relationship between two men. By making both protagonists men, the central issue of the film becomes the growth and development of their friendship. Women as potential love interests are thus eliminated from the narrative space."

Buddy films were often a result of real life pals parlaying their already established friendship into on-screen chemistry and commerical success. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby starred in a series of comedies together in the 1940s and 1950s that were often referred to as road pictures, including Road to Singapore, Road to Moroco and Road to Utopia. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the late-Paul Newman partnered with Robert Redford on two critically-acclaimed films, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, the latter of which won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1973. Legendary actor Jack Lemmon, who previously was nominated for an Oscar for his work in Billy Wilder's buddy film Some Like It Hot opposite Tony Curtis, often appeared in movies alongside his friend Walter Matthau. One of the most beloved duos in cinema, the two starred together in the 1960s and 1970s in The Odd Couple, The Fortune Cookie and The Front Page, before reuniting in the 1990s with Grumpy Old Men, its sequel Grumpier Old Men and Out to Sea.

To this day, buddy films are as popular as ever, whether it be with buddy cop films like Lethal Weapon or the Rush Hour film series, or in standard comedies like Clerks, Dumb and Dumber or Swingers. In fact, some of the most successful comedies over the last several years have focused on buddy relationships, including Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Superbad or last year's Pineapple Express.



Another entry into the buddy comedy genre is this year's Fired Up!, now playing. The film stars Nicholas D'Agosto (Rocket Science, TV's Heroes) and Eric Christian Olsen (Sunshine Cleaning, Eagle Eye) as Shawn Colfax and Nick Brady, two high school teenagers that every dad in America dreads their teenage daughter may one day bring home. While they are stellar athletes on the football field, Shawn and Nick could be remarkable players if they would devote as much time to scoring on the gridiron as they do with the female population at their mundane high school, Gerald R. Ford High. Not wanting to give up two weeks of chasing girls to attend the high school's annual football camp, the two devise a plan to join the high school's cheer squad, which would enable them to attend the overlapping cheer camp, which is expected draw 300 girls the duo have yet to conquer.

Against the idea from the start is the school's head cheerleader Carly (Sarah Roemer), who is well aware that Shawn and Nick do not have the cheer squad's best interest at heart. But with a little help from Shawn's overly zealous sister Poppy (Juliette Goglia), the boys are able to convince the high school's cheer sponsor Ms. Klingerhoff (Edie McClurg) that they have the right amount of spirit that the team is missing. What starts as a quest to hook-up with as many girls as they possibly can over the course of two weeks develops into something different for both friends, as Shawn unexpectedly starts to fall head over heels in love with Carly. But Carly is already romantically involved with a freshman medical student named Rick (David Walton).



An unoriginal, uninspired and insipid comedy that will be an easy contender for one of the worst films of the year, Fired Up! is an offensive and excruciating outing not because it's as vulgar or smutty as something such as College or Road Trip, although the film finds every way imagineable to be as obscene as possible and still earn itself a PG-13 rating, but because it's highly irritating and annoying having to suffer through every stereotype under the sun without the film imparting anything that makes the characters feel relatable or believable to those of us having to witness this putrid production. At the very least, it would have been nice to find a smattering of jokes that haven't been done to death in the teen sex genre for several years prior, but the film remains unimaginative throughout, playing less like a mash-up of American Pie meets Bring It On than it does as a combination of the direct-to-DVD sequels to those films that only exist to garble up cash from teens desperate for smut specifically targeted to them.

Sloppily made and predictable to boot, the major faults of Fired Up! come from first-time director Will Gluck and first-time screenwriter Freedom Jones who combine to set the feminist movement back several decades. In Wedding Crashers, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn play two skirt chasers who are ultimately challenged by a pair of sisters who are designed strongly enough by the writers that they become much more than just two women with hot bodies, as they are able to match the guys in both wit and intellect, and in one particular case, deception. Here, every female is a drunk passerby and eager participant in Shawn and Nick's merry-go-round game of sleep with them and forget about them. The only thing more disrespectful than their handling of women is the manner in which the filmmaker's treat the film's homosexual male yell leaders, who are either the most flamboyantly gay men one will ever come across or a man and a woman who both apparently only feel comfortable letting their sexual orientation be known by sexually assaulting those around them who are completely oblivious to their true feelings.

As far as the cast of Fired Up! is concerned, it should be noted that it is not really acting when your line delivery sounds like you are reading everything straight off of the script, yet that is how bored the actors appear in their roles. But what else should we expect from a cast of twenty and thirty-year olds, including 28-year old lead D'Agosto and 31-year old Olsen, that are still meddling around in parts intended to be played by teenagers.

Starring Nicholas D'Agosto, Eric Christian Olsen, Sarah Roemer, Molly Sims and AnnaLynne McCord, Fired Up! has a 90-minute runtime and is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, partial nudity, language and some teen partying.
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Old 03-23-2009, 10:04 PM   #15
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Quote:
Whoa, who is that? She is SMOKING! :thumbsup2:

I am going to buy Quantum Solace on Blu-ray tomorrow. Didn't like it in the theater, but I want to give it another chance and always watch the Bonds multiple times.
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