December 2008

Frost/Nixon

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Frost/Nixon
  • IMDB: link

“What made you exceptional, they said, was that you were a person who had achieved great fame without possessing any discernible quality.”

Sometimes it takes David to bring down Goliath.  David Frost (Michael Sheen) was a likable talk-show host who mortgaged his future and career with an interview with former President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella).  Nixon, in need of money and a change in his public perception, agreed to the interview with the man whom his aide (Kevin Bacon) stated simply “isn’t in your league.”

After an intial montage summing up the Watergate scandal, the film follows Frost on his journey to land, finance, and prepare for the interviews which would almost break him, all while the rest of the world looked on and laughed.

Sheen (The Queen, Music Within) once again gives a great performance on which the film rests.  Over the last two years he’s become one of my favorite actors working today.

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Spirited Silliness

by Ian T. McFarland on December 25, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Spirit
  • IMDb: link

There’s not much to the movie, and that’s just how it should be.  Basically, The Spirit (Gabriel Macht) is vigilante that never seems to die.  The same thing could be said of his arch-nemesis, The Octopus (played by none other than Samuel L. Jackson).  The two have locked heads with each other for the foreseeable past – the good guy fighting for the city, and the bad guy fighting to keep selling drugs.  More stuff happens, like the Spirit’s former flame coming back to town, and something to do with eternity is also mentioned; but there’s not much to figure out in this movie.

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Tom Cruise’s Noble Nazi Flick

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Valkyrie
  • IMDB: link

“God promised Abraham that he would not destroy Sodom if he could find ten righteous men.  I have a feeling that for Germany it may come down to one.”

Tom Cruise stars as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg one of many Nazis loyal to the fatherland, but disatisfied with the Fuhrer’s running of the country.  After getting blown-up in the early scenes the now eye-patched Stauffenberg joins a resistance group and begins planning the assassination of Adolf Hitler (David Bamber).

The film, written by Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander and directed by Bryan Singer has so many issues not even Superman’s return could save it from disaster.

Let’s start with the Nazi’s themselves.  A more honest good-natured group you’d be lucky to find anywhere outside a Hogan’s Heroes re-run.  All the the conspirators are presented as noble, self-sacrificing men who might be handing out money to the poor and donating their time to work with the elderly if it weren’t for that Hitler guy.  Were all these men tricked into joining the Nazi party?

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‘Bedtime Stories’ Makes You Fall Asleep

by Ian T. McFarland on December 25, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Bedtime Stories
  • link

Did you ever wonder what would happen if Adam Sandler all the sudden gained the ability to magically make anything happen just by telling a story about it happening?  Neither did I, but I guess that’s what we pay Walt Disney Studios for.

So Adam Sandler starts telling his niece and nephew bedtime stories and quickly realizes that, well, these stories come true.  The stories are always about Sandler’s character of Skeeter; so the next day, he finds select elements from the story incorporating themselves into his life.  All the sudden he can control his own life!  (And no, this bears no resemblance to any movies Sandler has put out over the past three years.)  This is all great, but oh no!  All of the sudden bad guys are going to demolish the kids’ school to build a new luxery hotel!  Now, by the film’s climax, Uncle Skeeter has to stop this the only way he knows how: a motorcycle race (totally not shitting you there).

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A Movie for Dog Lovers

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Marley & Me
  • IMDB: link

Before we begin let me be honest and admit I’m more of a cat person.  That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy dog movies (when they’re good), but it does mean I’m not likely to give a pass on a film, or go easy on it, just because it has a cute four-legged star.  Based the semi-autobiographical experiences of columnist John Grogan the film tells the story of how a dog changes the lives of a young couple.  If you can get over the cute factor (and the length which, at two-hours, is a problem) you might have an enjoyable enough time.

Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston star as John and Jennifer Grogan.  She’s a well-known feature writer, while he tackles the small local stories which barely earn him a byline.

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A (not-so) curious case of Oscar bait

by Aaron on December 25, 2008

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • IMDB: link

So David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, Panic Room) and Brad Pitt have tossed their hats into the ‘well, we’ve decided we want an Oscar’ ring with the Christmas Day release of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, a sprawling, nearly 3 hour exercise in how to tempt Academy voters that manages to avoid any semblance of plot or meaning. Ostensibly based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story of the same name (which you can read in its entirety here), in truth the two share naught but a title and the central hook of the story: A man who is living his physical life in reverse, de-aging with each passing year.

Normally I’d use this paragraph to sum up the story (and throw in a few pithy comments), but quite frankly there’s precious little of interest to share. The film is not much else but the timing challenged love story between Benjamin and Daisy (played as an adult by the always wonderful Cate Blanchett), but mostly it’s a collection of vignettes filling in the spaces of when Button is too physically elderly to be with the youthful dance ingenue. Button works on a tugboat with the salty and drunk Captain Dan, uh I mean Captain Mike (Jared Harris)! Button has an affair with the bored wife of a spy! (Tilda Swinton) Button uh… hangs around a lot and starts a successful shrimp business. Wait, no. That’s the other one. In this one he kinda inherits a button factory but doesn’t do anything with it. But you get the point.

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Twas the Dark Knight Before Christmas

by Alan Rapp on December 24, 2008

in Found on the Net

As tomorrow is Christmas I thought this was an appropriate gift for all you comic fans out there.  Here’s A Visit from St. Nicholas (better knows as Twas the Night Before Christmas), Batman style.  Listen carefully all the way through, especially to Batman’s whispered thanks to you know who.  Fun stuff.  Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

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Beethoven’s Big Break

by December Lambeth on December 23, 2008

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Beethoven’s Big Break
  • IMDB: link

Beethoven’s Big Break is a family fun lov’n good time. It might be number 5 or 7 in the series, but overall for innocent family/kid TV watching goodness this old dog has got some new tricks, and a few old ones too. Who doesn’t love a 185-lb St Bernard and all his litter coming over for dinner? There are a few laughs, good tunes for the younger audience like the Jonas Brothers and Everlife and a handful of somewhat comical actors like Johathan Silverman and Eddie Grifin. Beethoven’s Big Break is all right for what it is; yet another big slobbering dog makes funny family film.

Oh no, someone has planned to kidnap this adorable lug and hold him for ransom. Will Eddie (Jonathan Silverman) be able to save Beethoven or will the mean bad guys keep him for good? Eddie, an animal trainer and single dad, ends up attempting to train the new star of a big Hollywood hit, a 185-lb St Bernard named Beethoven. First his son, Billy (Moises Arias), straggles home with Beethoven and his rascally lot of puppies and Eddie tries to stick to his NO ANIMALS ALLOWED rules, but he’s a big ole’ sucker and falls for it. Now he finds that Beethoven has taken over a big screen role and he has to train him. Whatever shall Eddie do?

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Still Needs More Sledge Hammer

by Alan Rapp on December 22, 2008

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Burn After Reading
  • IMDB: link

I was pretty mixed on Burn After Reading when I saw it in theaters (read that review).  The film works better for me a second time but it’s still a bit of a mixed bag and could have been vastly improved with simply increasing the dose of Sledge Hammer.

Although I like the film more on DVD, there’s simply not enough here to justify plopping down the cash to add it to your collection, though it would make a nice rental.

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Death Race on DVD

by Alan Rapp on December 22, 2008

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Death Race
  • IMDB: link

If you missed Death Race in the theater you didn’t miss much.  If you miss it on DVD, well, the same could be said.  The movie is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.  Unless you’ve ot nothing left in your Netflix cue or you simple want to fast-forward to all the stunts you probably want ot wait until this turkey (created by the director and producer who gave us Event Horizon) hits cable.

“What we trained to do, very hard in the film, we tried to ground it in reality as much as possible”
—producer Jeremy Bolt

I was less than impressed with Paul W.S. Anderson’s remake of Death Race 2000.  The film follows a group of convicts who race around the prison yard in armored suped-up cars with machine guns, all for the camera.  For more on the plot of the film itself read the original review.

Reading the review and watching the film and features show you just how large the disconnect was with the people involved in making the film and the final result.  “Grounded in reality as much as possible.”  Yeah, like HancockDeath Race isn’t a total waste but it’s more of a cable flick to check out a 2am than something you’re going to want to put money down for – unless you simply want a mindless action flick you can get wasted to with your friends and laugh at, stare at the tame T&A, and enjoy the stunts.  I think that’s actually the target audience for the film.

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