September 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Capitalism: A Love Story
  • IMDB: link

capitalism-a-love-story-posterIn the past, Michael Moore has taken on George Bush, the gun lobby, and health care. In his latest film Capitalism: A Love Story, he finds a new target in the economic system of capitalism. Greed, it turns out, isn’t really good afterall. As in his previous movies, Moore combines interviews of real Americans, news footage, the town of Flint, funny clips, his own personal narrative, and his trademark stunts, to try and prove his point. Although Capitalism is a highly entertaining movie, in terms of constructing and presenting an argument it’s Moore’s weakest entry to date.

The basic premise of the film is capitalism is a flawed and inherently destructive system. To help prove his point, Moore showcases the inequality between corporate America and the middle class (which has been taken advantage of by a growing culture of greed). The advantages and opportunities that capitalism fosters such as entrepreneurship, invention, and the ability to rise far above the economic station of your birth, are simply glossed over (or reduced to broad generalization).

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Fame is Fleeting

by Alan Rapp on September 25, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Fame (2009)
  • IMDB: link

fame-2009-posterFame is fleeting and, by itself, unsatisfying. So what are we to conclude about a group of kids chasing a dream, not of being a great singer, dancer, or musician, but only trying to grab the spotlight for themselves?

Fame, the remake of the 1980 film, gives us a variety of characters from the meek Penny (Kay Panabaker) to the angry Malik (Collins Pennie), but in none of them do we find anyone to root for.

Sometimes it was all I could do try and remember what particular talent got each kid into the school; there are simply too many characters. More than once I actually forgot someone was even in the film as they disappeared for long stretches.

The film condenses the journey of a class of students from the New York City High School of Performing Arts from auditions through graduation. That’s more than four years boiled down into less than two hours. The film bites off more than it can chew.

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Castle – The Complete First Season

by Alan Rapp on September 24, 2009

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Castle: The Complete First Season
  • tv.com: link

When a pair of murders are discovered to be recreations of his novels, writer Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) is brought in for questioning by Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). Castle, coming off the end of a best-selling series of novels, is looking for something different. And, much to Beckett’s consternation, he finds it by helping her solve the case.

Rather than part ways Castle becomes a permanent consulatant for the NYPD as he does research for his new character “Nikki Heat” based on Beckett. As he writes, and takes care of his precosuious mother (Susan Sullivan) and responsible daughter (Molly C. Quinn), Castle helps Beckett and her team (Jon Huertas, Seamus Dever, Tamala Jones) solve a string of cases including a man stuffed into a wall safe, a nanny thrown into a dryer, the death of a young private school student in Central Park, a woman frozen for years, a woman drowned in a bathtub full of motor oil, and a dead Councilman.

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Love, you know, Happens

by Alan Rapp on September 18, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Love Happens
  • IMDB: link

love-happens-posterI often dread going to see romantic comedies such as Love Happens. 1,000 times burned, 1,001 times shy. Romcoms are usually known for only their lack of originality, convoluted nature, and eagerness to play on overused themes.

As it happens, Love Happens isn’t a bad film. In fact its a fair bit better than I expected. However, even with two likable stars playing even more likable characters, not to mention a talented supporting cast, the film gets into trouble when it ignores the story it’s trying to tell, one worth watching, and instead focuses on giving us pat scenes which could have been taken from any other movie of this genre.

Aaron Eckhart stars as a widower turned self-help guru on the verge of national syndication. Along with his loyal assistant (Dan Fogler), Burke returns to Seattle for a seminar and hoping to close a lucrative deal. Unexpectedly Burke encounters a flower shop owner (Jennifer Aniston) with a passion for big words. His relationship with Eloise forces Burke to take a hard look at his own life, the loss of his wife, and the pain he still carries around inside him.

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Jennifer’s got a smokin’ Body but no soul

by Alan Rapp on September 18, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Jennifer’s Body
  • IMDB: link

jennifers-body-posterHere’s what I learned from Jennifer’s Body.

1) Academy Award nominated screenwriters are just as good at writing mediocre horror flicks as everyone else.

2) People should really stop giving Æon Flux director Karyn Kusama work.

And 3) Asked to do some real acting, and without Michael Bay’s lascivious ogling lens, Megan Fox (who isn’t allowed to straddle motorcycles in cut-offs here) isn’t nearly the same sexy siren her fans drooled over in the Transformers franchise.

The film isn’t awful, but it wastes what little it brings to the table by serving up a lukewarm TV dinner that fails to satisfy. Jennifer’s Body makes several errors on it’s way to Best Buy’s DVD bargain bin, some of which I’ve summarized below.

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Top Ten Returning TV-Shows

by Alan Rapp on September 17, 2009

in Essays , Nework & Cable TV News 

TV’s new Fall Season seems to be upon us. There are plenty of new shows. There are also more than a few who were dragged out back and unceremoniously capped in the back of the head and dumped in shallow graves. I’m still a bit bummed with the fact that both Life and Pushing Daisies got the chopping block, but there are still plenty (at least ten) which are returning and are worth watching (including a couple returning tonight). Is this a top ten you are sensing? I think it is.

Before we begin let me take a moment to give a shout out to NBC’s Chuck which only misses the cut because his return won’t happen until Spring of 2010. Damn you NBC!!!! (And you wonder why you didn’t get a single show on the list) Okay, having gotten that short rant out of the way, now on with the list…

10. Dollhouse

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Whiteout

by Alan Rapp on September 11, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Whiteout
  • IMDB: link

whiteout-posterAlthough Whiteout was slightly better than I expected, the film is nothing more than your basic thriller complete with a masked killer, a plucky detective with hidden scars, dangerous situations (most of which could be avoided the slightest hint of common sense), and a late plot twist which is far less surprising than it’s expected to be.

Kate Beckinsale stars as US Marshall Carrie Stetko. Due to an unfortunate case in her past, which we are given glimpses of in flashbacks, Carrie transferred as far from the action as possible. For years she has been the law in the icy wilderness of Antarctica where nothing ever happens.

Until now! Cue the suspenseful music.

Only days before her vacation, when the last planes will leave the Antarctic station for winter, a body is discovered. Carrie will have to put her past behind her and with the help of her doctor friend (a gruffy looking Tom Skerritt) and an agent from the United Nations (Gabriel Macht) she’ll try to find a killer from among the small population of the research station.

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Lucky Number “9”

by Alan Rapp on September 9, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: 9
  • IMDB: link

9-posterAdapted by creator Shane Acker from the short film of the same name, and produced by Tim Burton (who knows a thing or too about creepy and unconventional animated films), comes 9.

CGI animation in the style of stop-motion, Acker’s film is a breath of fresh air in both style and story. If you enjoyed Coraline earlier this year then this one’s for you. Here’s a good story beautifully rendered and not afraid to inspire both fear and awe in younger viewers.

Rather than take time to explain the world and its rules (i.e. talk down to its audience), as would happen in well over 90% of animated films (and close to 100% of kid’s films), we’re thrown right into the middle of the action.

The story begins with birth into a world of death. This is a post-apocalyptic world populated only by small puppet figures and dangerous mechanical beasts. We discover the world through the eyes of the newly created 9 (Elijah Wood).

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Taken

by Alan Rapp on September 1, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Taken
  • IMDB: link

taken-posterTaken is the film for you if you simply love Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme flicks, and are constantly bemoaning the fact that they have been relegated to direct-to-DVD and made-for-TV projects. If however, you want more out of a film than pace, so-so action, and a high body count you’re going to be disappointed.

For those of you who haven’t seen the trailer, Liam Neeson stars as a retired spy trying to reconnect with his estranged 17-year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) who wants his permission to travel to France for the summer with her best friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy).

Of course knowing the hidden dangers in such a trip Bryan is reluctant to let his daughter go. That is until he’s guilted into agreement by his ex-wife (Famke Janssen, in full-on bitch mode) only to have his daughter and her friend kidnapped hours after they touch down in Paris. Note – never trust your ex-wife.

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