February 2006

Eight Below

by Alan Rapp on February 17, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Eight Below
  • IMDb: link

Eight Below movie reviewThe film starts off with a notice that the story is inspired by real events.  Usually such a notice means we’re going to see something that someone’s friend of a friend heard about that happened and then is given the Hollywood treatment to make it even less believable.  Although there is some of that present the makers of the film tried to limit it and stay true to the story, and the end result is surprisingly good.

Gerry (Paul Walker) is a guide at a remote Antarctic research base who works by taking people out on with his sled dogs on various scientific explorations.  Gerry treats the dogs more like family than pets and his love for them is unwavering.  At the end of the season a scientist (Bruce Greenwood) arrives to look for a meteorite and despite Gerry’s strong concerns and objections he takes him out (cue suspenseful music here).

[click to continue…]

Stay Out of Freedomland

by Alan Rapp on February 17, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

Sometimes a movie is so awful you need a shower to get clean.  Freedomland is just such a movie.  One of the worst films of 2006 and the most vile and disheartening films I’ve seen in quite some time.  I still can’t believe I saw what I saw or that parents with small children allowed them to view this violent, distasteful, and heartless film.  Whatever you do this weekend keep you and yours out of Freedomland.

Negative Stars

The trailer for Freedomland tells about a kidnapped child whose been taken by some evil men to the worst part of the city where they are doing all kinds of offensive and malicious things to him and only Samuel L. Jackson can save the day.  Well, turns out that’s not really what the film is about.  The film is about race relations between the inner (black) city and the surrounding (white) suburb that boils over when a mother says a black man has stolen her child.  The result is a chaotic mess.  And seriously folks after this can’t we take Julianne Moore’s movie mother license away from her; it seems like every movie she’s in a kid of hers is killed or is a pornstar or doesn’t exist or has been abducted by aliens or whatever.  Just make it stop.

Brenda Moore (Julianne Moore) shows up at the hospital hurt and bleeding.  She tells police detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) that her car has been stolen by a young black man and her four year-old son was asleep in the backseat.  The issue quickly becomes highly pressurized and isn’t helped by the fact that Brenda’s brother (Ron Eldard) is a cop.  The black community is quardened off and you know soon or later things are going to over boil and spill out into a full riot.

Lorenzo is skeptical about Moore’s story and the holes she isn’t able or willing to fill in and believes she knows more than she is telling him.  There are also other stories involving Lorenzo’s incarcerated son, a black man who didn’t make his court date, a friend of Lorenzo’s who has an abusive boyfriend, city politics, and more.  None however are as interesting as watching paint dry.

For a movie to include an issue like the abduction and possible murder of a child it better make it important and emotionally accessible to the audience.  This film does neither.  From the very first time we see Brenda she is lying and hiding things from the police and so as the only character in the film with a connection to the child (Eldard’s character is only present to stir the pot) we never get a feel for the actual victim, Cody (Marlon Sherman).

Part of the problem is the movie is much more interested in the effects of the kidnapping on the city, in a superficial way, rather than the child himself.  Cody is basically only a plot device to get things rolling and that is more than just bad writing; it’s wrong.  Nor does the film earn the riot and the scenes of the white cops in full riot gear beating young black men, women and children within inches of their lives.  Nor after the story of Cody is concluded does the film take any kind of look at the action of those involved or the consequences of their actions.  That’s more than just wrong folks; it’s irresponsible.

The movie’s only interesting character is Karen Collucci (Edie Falco) a mother whose son was kidnapped ten years ago and now helps run a volunteer organization of parents who look for missing children.  Falco gives the film a slight thread of credibility but her character and story are gobbled up and wasted by the rest of the film.

The film never earns the race riot it so badly wants to put on screen and so orgasmically happy to show, nor does it ever make Cody real enough to make the audience have any emotional stake in the film.  For a film to take on such topics as kidnapping, murder of children, race riots, and police beating down African Americans in such a loose, insincere, disrespectful, and disingenuous way made me want to vomit.  The best thing about Freedomland was when the closing credits finally rolled.

Pass on Winter

by Alan Rapp on February 17, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

Winter Passing is the type of film I strongly dislike.  It’s a film that’s dark, moody, edgy, and eccentric for the sake of being dark, moody, edgy and eccentric.  It never earns the style it so vehemently wants to impose on us, nor the necessary redemption of its leading character.  It’s just pretentious as hell.

Winter Passing
1 & 1/2 Stars

I like Zooey Deschanel.  I like Ed Harris.  I like Amelia Warner.  Yet I did not like this film.  Oddly cobbled together with a forced vibe of weird and edgy, dark and moody, the film is just an odd compilation of performances.  It’s almost as though these actor’s agents got together and had them make a reel to show to directors and producers showing off their talent for films they want to be considered for.  And note to the writer/director – having the main character drown a kitten makes it a little hard to accept her as a sympathetic character later in the film.

Reese Holden (Zooey Deschanel) is a mess.  Living in New York as a struggling actress in off-off-Broadway productions she spends most of her time drinking, smoking cigarettes, doing cocaine, humping any guy who is nice to her, and banging her hand in dresser drawer.  But she has a kind side; she’s taken in a stray kitten who she takes care of….oops, she found out it has leukemia.  Well she’s still a nice person she’s not going to….hey, why is she walking into the river with the cute cuddly mewing kitten and a small duffle bag??  Oh my god!  Cruella De Vil wasn’t this evil!

The kitten killer’s mother has just committed suicide and bequeathed her a collection of letters she and her father, both famous authors, wrote to each other in their youth.  A publisher (Amy Madigan) offers Reese $100,000 for the letters and so the kitten killer returns home to Michigan on the bus to find her father (Ed Harris) living in the garage and a former student Shelly (Amelia Warner) and an odd character Corbit (Will Ferrell) living in the house.  Seems Daddy’s gone ‘round the bend.

The rest of the film is the unremarkable story of how rigid and mean Reese begins to accept and understand these people who are living in the house and taking care of her father and finding her father has a side she didn’t know.  Awwwww.  The performances aside the entire film is a waste of time and money.  Reese isn’t an interesting or sympathetic character and her father and Corbit are too crazy to be cared about.  The only slightly interesting character is Shelly who has a real story of tragedy and loss that is quickly glossed over in favor of Reese’s self-indulgent pseudo-tragedy.

The story is also oddly interrupted by scenes that have nothing to do with anything connected to the characters or story.  An example, one night driving Reese stops as a deer has been hit by the side of the road and gets out of the car to drag the deer to the side of the road.  Next scene.  Huh?  The film has at least a dozen such moments that make the story structure of the film less and less cohesive.  And we won’t even get into the numerous continuity and logistical issues such as having Ed Harris play a guy with hair, but using an older picture of him on the back of his novel being bald.  Hmm…I think someone should have noticed that before me.

There are no reasons to see the film unless you just really love Zooey Deschanel and want to see her go through all the motions in a bad movie.  The movie makes her character so unsympathetic that we can never accept her as anything else (did I mention she zips up a kitten in a duffle bad and drowns it alive in the Hudson River?).  At least everyone got some good clips to use to land them their next role.

O Captain My Captain

by Alan Rapp on February 15, 2006

in Film News & Trailers

Marvel CEO Avi Arad has announced that one of the new projects for Marvel Studios will be a full length theatrical version of Captain America.  God Bless America!  Finally we can wash the taste of the 1991 straight to video version out of our mouths (unless of course this is even worse – see Fantastic Four).  David Self (Road to Perdition, Thirteen Days) has been tapped to write the script.  No word yet on whether Cap’s WWII origin, life as an icecube, and freeze thaw by The Avengers, will be left intact but early talks seem to put most of the story in the present day (Cap vs. Iraq?).  Development stage could take awhile so don’t expect to see the film before 2009.  In the meantime we can speculate on who Marvel should get to play the Cap’n.  Well let’s see Steve Rogers (Cap’s real name) is a white, blonde, blue-eyed, straight faced, square jawed, buff, slightly gay (anyone remember “Bucky”), humorless type of guy.  Am I the only one that thinks Paul Walker would be perfect for this role?

Captain America

DVD Shelf

by Alan Rapp on February 14, 2006

in Uncategorized

We’re here to let you know what’s out there for your entertainment dollar.  Every week a new batch of DVD’s gets shipped out and thrown onto the shelves.  Here’s what comes out today including Zathura, Mirrormask, and season sets of Charles in Charge, Farscape, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.


Here’s what is getting released today on DVD:


Proof – Gweneth Paltrow plays a woman who may or may not be crazy dealing with the death of her father (Anthony Hopkins) and proof of a new mathematical formula found in his notes.  Read the original review.

Saw II – The “horrific” sequel about a guy who gets his kicks locking people up and torturing them to death.  Read the original review.

Zathura – Sequel to Jumanji about kids playing a magical space board game.  Read the original review.

The Frisco Kid – 1979 film with Gene Wilder as a rabbi sent to San Francisco during the Old West; Harrison Ford also stars.

Mirrormask – Neil Gaiman’s story about a 15 year-old girl trapped in a fantasy world searching for the mirrormask which can save the kingdom and get her home.


He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Season 1, Volume 2 – The final 32 episodes of Adam, Prince of Eternia, and his secret double life as He-Man defender of Grayskull.

Max & Ruby Party Time with Max & Ruby – Adventures of a pair of cute animated bunnies.


The Andy Griffith Show The Complete Fifth Season – All 32 fifth season episodes of Andy, Opie, Barney the entire Mayberry gang.

Charles in Charge The Complete First Season – Scott Baio plays college student Charles who moves in as a housekeeper and babysitter for the Pembroke family.  Willie Ames and Jennifer Runyon also star in the 22 episodes.

Farscape Season 3, Collection 2 -The “Starburst Editiion” continues the third season adventures.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air The Complete Third Season – All 24 third season episodes of Will Smith and the Banks family on four discs along with season highlights and bloopers.

Grey’s Anatomy Season 1 – The first season of ABC’s hit which started as a mid-season replacement.  The set includes alll nine episodes on two discs along with extras and commentary.

Golden Girls The Complete Fourth Season – The old broads are back for another season.

The Pretender The Complete Third Season – Jarod’s (Michael T. Weis) run from The Center continues in 22 fourth season episodes.