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The Reader


There has been a barrage of movies this awards season that have noteworthy performances, but were unpleasant to watch. This is another one.

From the moment I saw the first trailer for The Reader, I thought it screamed English Patient. From what I saw of The English Patient, I was right. Whenever anyone asked me what the movie was about I would tell them that it's about this chick that picked which Jews to kill in the concentration camps during WWII. You would never know that, however, by the first hour and fifteen minutes of the movie. The beginning of the movie is about Kate Winslet having an affair with a 15 year old. If you're patient enough to get to the main plot, the whole thing only pans out the way it does because Winslet's character is too proud to be honest about one of her other deficiencies. Silly.

The Wrestler

I can't say yes.

There are some genuinely powerful moments in The Wrestler. The relationship between Randy and his daughter begins and ends with some emotionally difficult scenes. The rest of the movie is equally difficult to watch for a variety of reasons. The physical, emotional, and mental distress that this man goes through during the course of the film is unfathomably galling.

I saw My Bloody Valentine in 3D the night before I saw The Wrestler... it was easier to watch My Bloody Valentine. The physical pain that "The Ram" endures is shockingly realistic. I was squirming throughout some of the wrestling matches as well as some other scenes when I was anticipating pain... and you will know it's coming.

While Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood are all outstanding, this is another film that, like Snow Angels and Boy A, is extraordinarily upsetting. The reason that those films made my top 20 of the year and The Wrestler didn't is based entirely on watchability. The performances actually make me want to watch it less because the actors make you care about these degenerates, root for them to succeed, and what they go through is not pleasant. Even the movie's faux-happy ending is open to interpretation and may not be happy at all. Is the movie well-made? Yes and the performances, as I said are phenomenal. But it really is way too difficult to watch.



Milk is an extraordinary film, politically and personally, with powerful performances from THE ENTIRE CAST. Sean Penn, as much as I hate him, is perfect... as always... but James Franco, Josh Brolin, and Emile Hirsch are all deserving of recognition for their work as well.

Harvey Milk was to the gay community, what Martin Luther King Jr. was to the black community. While homosexuals don't have quite as turbulent a history as African Americans, this civil rights story is just as important to tell as that of black history.

Since this is a true story, the writers assumed we would know that Harvey Milk was assassinated. What they were banking on, and in my case they were right, is that the majority of the audience wouldn't know who killed him and why. They did a great job keeping the tension level up throughout the film, first by making you like him, then by putting him in harms way.

I was surprised how at how much I liked Milk. I've gotten bored of biopics as of late. I think the one-two punch of Ray and Walk the Line pushed me over the edge. What sets this one apart is that it doesn't really feel like a biopic. It's funny and entertaining, but it's also intense and heartbreaking. Best Picture of the Year? Not quite... but close.

Man on Wire


Here's what's weird about Man on Wire: Even though the climax of the film is told with a heavy French accent and shown with mostly still, black and white photos, it is still so unbelievably breathtaking that I was actually saying things like "holy shit" out loud to my computer. That's right, I saw it on my 18" computer screen and was still completely blown away by the experience. That, however, was only my description of the last 20 - 30 minutes of this documentary about a man who walked on a tight rope between the two towers of the World Trade Center in the 70's.

The beginning of the movie was a little long. If they had shortened it slightly, it would have been highly entertaining. I suppose it was very entertaining except for the parts that dragged. It was structured like a heist film and really felt like one... actually, I guess it kind of was one. What they were doing was highly illegal and they had to be highly sneaky about it.

While it was generally well crafted and the images were mind numbing, it was a bit too long. If you can get past the accents and the extended running time, the ending will make it all worth while.


There's no reason to see this on the big screen, but it was very good.

Doubt is an intimate character study with powerful performances from Meryl Streep, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis. As far as the rest of the film goes... nothing really happens. Something may have happened, but we never find out. The only one's who may know are Hoffman's character and the boy that may or may not have been involved leaving Streep, Adams and the audience with doubt as to whether or not a crime was actually committed... hence the title.

Don't be surprised to see multiple acting nods as well as a possible writing nomination for writer/director John Patrick Shanley, but should you see Doubt? Nah, not in theatres. Rent it when it comes out on DVD or watch it on cable.

Revolutionary Road


Revolutionary Road was an absolutely miserable movie, but that's actually a good thing because it really is supposed to be.

I've always been a fan of Sam Mendes; American Beauty remains in my top five favorite movies, I enjoyed Road to Perdition, and I loved Jarhead. I kind of feel like he phoned it in on this one. It's a 50's period piece about the two most unhappy people ever, and it relied heavily on it's two lead actors, not necessarily it's director. The set design, costumes, hair and make-up were all accurate for the time period, but those were other peoples' jobs, Mendes only had to sign off on them. With Kate Winslet's and Leonardo DiCaprio's talent, I doubt he had to direct them much.

The performances were powerful. These two are locked in an unwanted relationship and they fight... a lot. They fight from the opening scene until the film's tragic end with the exception of a short period of forced happiness. They worked well together in a complete turnaround from their last movie together. In fact, they could have used the tag line "What if Jack didn't die?" on the poster for Revolutionary Road and made it a, kind of, sequel to Titanic. The 50's may have been a little late for that, but it is the natural progression of their relationship if he had survived the sinking.

So, should you see it?

There is a chance for some acting nominations out of this one. The eerie penultimate scene had me entranced, thanks entirely to Kate and Leo. If you like to see all of the nominated performances before the Oscars, you might want to check this one out. It really is horrible to watch though, so I can't bring myself to recommend Revolutionary Road.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


Words can't express how beautiful this film is. I was absolutely mesmerized from the moment the Paramount logo hit the screen. I actually found my eyes welling up with tears simply from the film's grandeur. I don't know how they aged Brad Pitt the way they did and I don't think I want to know. The visual effects in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button are so subtle that you don't even know they're there... proving, I suppose, how great they are.

Most stories evolve from writers putting an ordinary man into an extraordinary situation. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button does the opposite. It tells the story of an extraordinary man in quite ordinary situations. The movie follows Benjamin's life from the cradle to the grave as he is surrounded by, and surrounds himself with one of the most diverse groups of people ever assembled.

This movie made me think of films like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. All simple stories with complex subtexts, written, directed, acted and filmed at a skill level that most filmmakers can only dream of.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, as well as The Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire, and Wall-E, is making my decision for best film of 2008 an extremely difficult one.

Slumdog Millionaire


Trainspotting brought me into Danny Boyle's world with an immensely entertaining look into the lives of Scottish heroin addicts. He turned the zombie genre on it's head with 28 Days Later... followed immediately by a sophisticated, emotional family film called Millions. He explored the center of our solar system as well of the psychological impact of space travel in Sunshine and now he tells a beautiful and shocking, love/survival story with Slumdog Millionaire.

The culmination of his work alone should win him the Oscar for best director. All director's have a bomb or two and Boyle is no exception. The Beach and A Life Less Ordinary were inexcusable. His willingness and ability, however, to successfully cross genre barriers with such extremity is inspiring. To jump blindly from dark comedy to science-fiction to romantic comedy to horror to family drama, and now, finally, to love story, shows a true love for the art of film making and a skill beyond that of most people in most professions.

Slumdog Millionaire is one of the best told stories I've seen in a long time. Is it predictable? Yes, but it's the journey that moves you. Throughout his life, Jamal has been unknowingly collecting the answers to questions that may ultimately reunite him with his one true love. His horrifying tale of survival as an orphan growing up in Mumbai leads him to to his fateful appearance on India's version of "Who Wants to be Millionaire?" Accused of cheating, Jamal is forced to tell his life story in an effort to explain how an uneducated "slumdog" could possibly know the answers to the questions he was asked on the show.

Stylish and masterful direction, astonishing performances, and a bitter sweet tale of love, sacrifice, and destiny makes Slumdog Millionaire one of the best films of 2008.


Ummm... yeah...

Frost/Nixon is an extremely well made movie. The performances by Michael Sheen and especially Frank Langella were extraordinary and are absolutely deserving of recognition by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; if not with an Oscar then at least with a nomination. It was put together as well as the material would allow, but I honestly don't know that the material was deserving of a major motion picture.

I don't want to minimize the events that the movie conveys. It was an important moment in American history and I recognize the impact it has had on both the government and the media. I can also tell you, however, that I was unaware of the events until I saw the preview for Frost/Nixon for the first time. Should this information be out there for common-folk to see? Yes. Should it be a dramatization? No, it could just as well have been a documentary. Even this dramatization was written and filmed like a documentary with the "confessionals" being acted out in character.

Frost/Nixon is a straight up re-enactment of specific events, without any personal or political views of the filmmakers. It is both critical of, and sympathetic to both characters and therefore, effectively remains neutral in it's stance. The reason why I'm hesitant to recommend the film is because while I recognize that it is an extremely well made film, I wasn't very entertained. In fact, until the end of the second to last interview, I was actually rather bored.

American Teen


This is going to be short. American Teen may as well have been called MTV's True Life: I'm an American Teen. There is nothing extraordinary about this film and there is no reason to have made it. There certainly was no reason to put it on the big screen.

Gran Torino


Why aren't they advertising this movie? Clint Eastwood is amazing in it and the story is heartbreaking, but it's also unbelievably funny. It's predictable in the sense that while I didn't know exactly how the movie would end, I wasn't the least bit surprised. Still, everything about Gran Torino is just less than Oscar-worthy... and that's not bad.

I believe it's still in limited release and will expand after the new year, so seek it out, I think your other choices in January will include The Unborn and My Bloody Valentine 3D.



I wasn't necessarily expecting it to be better... just a little bigger, maybe. Bryan Singer made X2 and passed on a third X-Men movie to make Superman Returns. He put off making another Superman movie so that he could make Valkyrie. Valkyrie was in the works for a very long time and this is the final product. It just seems like Singer in constantly trying to "one-down" himself.

I was also expecting more of a "heist movie" feel. Not the witty banter of the Ocean's films, but at least a similar structure. And actually, I don't think a little bit of humor would have been uncalled for. I know that this is a serious subject and that German's are notoriously unfunny, but a sarcastic or snide remark, or a joke during casual conversation, something to make me care about these people would have been helpful.

I just think this was an unwise time of year to release this film. With movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Frost/Nixon set for a holiday release, Valkyrie would have been better suited for release in late August or October.



Even though I guessed the ending at the very beginning of Baghead, the lack of a budget and the style of filmmaking were both integral in my enjoyment of this movie. It's shot with, seemingly, a home video camera adding a certain amount of personal dread whenever baghead appears. The performances were very realistic as was the dialogue, a necessity if you want to film a movie like this.

There are some great scares in Baghead and it's definiely an entertaining 80 minutes.

Seven Pounds


I really don't want to say too much about Seven Pounds. All of the advertising was extraordinarily cryptic. The poster doesn't really give any hints and after seeing the 2 minutes and 30 second trailer, I thought, "I still have no clue what that's about."

When I sat down to watch it, I made a conscious decision to just sit back and let the story unfold. At no point did I guess at what was going on, only to find out later that I was way off. Like the advertising, the plot remained esoteric for much of the movie. When all finally becomes clear, the film transforms from a bizarre mystery drama, to an emotional powerhouse of a film.

Seven Pounds is not getting very good reviews and the only reasons I can think of to not recommend it would be because it's a mite long and that it has the potential to force moviegoers to examine their own existence. Not that those are necessarily bad things, but it's the kind of statement i expect out of some of these self important critics. Those, however, are not the reasons for the bad reviews. The reasons for the bad reviews contain the words "preposterous", and "unintentionally ludicrous". Bear in mind the source of the following statement, but some critics are way too cynical for their own good.

Seven Pounds is a good movie about good people doing good things for other good people. At the end, it made me want to do good things for good people, too. Unfortunately, I was too tired to do something nice at the time and now I've had a chance to sleep on it. Check out Seven Pounds, it won't win any awards, but it will move you... at least momentarily.

The Tale of Despereaux


This movie has so much back story, that even a half hour in, you still really have no idea what the movie is about. Come to think of it, I still really don't know what it's about.

There's really no reason why this movie couldn't have been called The Tale of (pick any character from the movie). Despereaux's actually not in it very much at all and his story is the least intriguing of the 5 different stories that are being told simultaneously. And that's saying a lot because none of them are even remotely interesting or entertaining.

One of the reasons for the lack of entertainment value is the way the characters are introduced. Each of the characters has a 5 to 10 minute back story that is told as they become known to us. Unfortunately, they are all introduced before any real plot is developed. Since we don't know what their impact on the story will be, it's difficult to care about them. It actually gets pretty frustrating. The one character that I wanted some kind of story about but never got was the fruit/vegetable man. I know what your thinking, What's so interesting about a man who sells fruit and vegetables? Well that's easy... he doesn't sell fruit and vegetables, he is made out of fruit and vegetables. No explanation... he just is.

Another reason is because of how dreary and depressing it is. Even Despereaux isn't adorable enough to liven this up at all.

I haven't read The Tale of Despereaux, but I really can't imagine it being a good book. There isn't much of a story... at least not a coherent one. I know that the movie is never as good as the book, but even if the book is 10 times better than the movie... it still couldn't be good.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

It's strictly for children.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl was released in theatres on 7/2/08 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/28/08.

I almost said "No." This sugary, sickeningly sweet depression era family drama is well made with fine performances and is not entirely unbearable... but it's not really worth sitting through. It is good for kids though.

Four Christmases


Four Christmases officially seals Vince Vaughan's fate on my list of people in Hollywood who have no right being there. This is gonna seem harsh, but he joins the ever growing list which includes Keanu Reeves, Nicholas Cage, and the Bill's Paxton and Pullman. Vince Vaughn;s IMDB page should list all his performances under the "Self:" heading instead of the "Actor:" heading. He has never played a character in a movie, he only changes his name. His wiseassery has gotten him further than it should according to several of my school teachers should have gotten him nowhere. The scene at the end when he is apologizing to Reese Witherspoon for being an ass is the least sincere apology I've ever heard.

While Witherspoon is a very talented actress, this is a major drop in quality from her turn in Walk the Line, still, she hasn't disappointed to the same extent as Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Roberto Benigni, and Cuba Gooding Jr, because she built a career on movies like this and then proved she could act... won an Oscar... and then went back to normal. The others dropped to the level of Keanu Reeves, Nicholas Cage, and the Bill's Paxton and Pullman once they placed Oscar on their mantle.

What does Four Christmases have going for it? It's short. It's mildly original; Multiple Christmases is a fairly common concern at the holidays. Who's going where on Christmas Eve and Day is a major topic of conversation in my family every year starting before Thanksgiving. It's never been addressed in a movie to the extent that it is in this one, unfortunately, it was addressed in this movie and not in a good one. Finally, it is funny... sometimes. I laughed once or twice. For the last 20 minutes, however, you won't laugh once.

There are at least 48 hours of Christmas movies on every day this month an Lifetime, We, and TLC and while Four Christmases isn't as bad as much of what you'll see on those channels, they are free.

Nothing Like the Holidays


Nothing Like the Holidays is a movie full of stupid, cliche characters in forced emotional moments. During the car ride after his cousins pick him up from the airport after his tour in Iraq, Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez) urgently yells at his cousin to "stop the car!". He opens the door and runs into a field, his cousins running after him, and suddenly comes to a halt. He just stands there and admires the view of the old baseball field and it's backdrop of the town he grew up in covered in snow. After the build up of the urgency and the emotion with which he ran from the car, I asked... out loud... "that's it?"

That was the opening scene and the rest of the movie was filled with scenes just like it. A family of such diverse characters (an actress, a lawyer, and a soldier) all coming to terms with the decisions they've made. As soon as you meet all of them, you know exactly what their conflicts will be and you'll know, at least partially, how they will be resolved.

Nothing Like the Holidays is the Latino version of The Family Stone from a couple of years ago and even that wasn't a very good movie.

Punisher: War Zone


There have been a lot of superhero reboots coming out of Hollywood lately. Batman Begins, The Incredible Hulk, Superman Returns and now Punisher: War Zone. Here's the thing... and I'm not the high paid CEO of a multi-million dollar movie studio... but I think that if you're gonna start over, the reboot should be better than the original. Most of the recent reboots have been better than, or at least as good as the previous installment. Punisher: War Zone was not.

Punisher (2004) was actually a good movie. I've spoken to several people about this and the most common response is "I actually like the first one, it was pretty good." It may not have been perfect, but it was a well acted, well produced comic book movie. With comic book movies pulling in a good portion of the money in Hollywood, I would expect Lionsgate to put every dollar they had behind the only superhero franchise they've got. I hope they didn't because if they did, it was a colossal waste of money.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you can't get the original actors to sign on to a sequel, you really should go into rewrites. Most actors have some level of dignity that they need to maintain. Thomas Jane isn't making an awful lot of movies these days, so for him to turn down a role is big. Especially if he had the opportunity to be immortalized on screen as a superhero. For someone to turn down a role like that, the material would have to be ridiculous... and in this instance, it absolutely was. I mean they didn't even keep the origin story the same from the original movie. Whether or not it's the correct one is irrelevant, as far as I'm concerned. Stick to your guns... the origin of Punisher is not an overwhelming concern of mine. The original movie's origin was good. It made sense. It did not need to be changed.

It's never a good sign when you're laughing at the movie instead of with it. War Zone was so bad it was funny... for some of it. Then it dragged on for another hour and fifteen minutes. There was more blood and gore in this than was necessary for even the most horrifying of horror movies. Peoples faces being blown off, of punched through. Hearts being eaten, necks being broken... you get the point. There was blood squirting everywhere. Every New Yorker, apparently, has a very thick ethnic accent, mostly either Italian or Russian. The blacks and Latinos also had ridiculously thick accents (Jamaican and Puerto Rican).

The acting as a whole was terrible. They tried to trick us into believing that Ray Stevenson is a big name in Hollywood by constantly advertising the movie with his name before the title of the movie... This season you can see Tom Cruise in Valkyrie, Adam Sandler in Bedtime Stories, or Ray Stevenson in Punisher: WarZone. We're not idiots. He's a nobody, and he acts appropriately.

Every aspect of Punisher: War Zone is awful. Do not go see it.

Meet Dave


Meet Dave was released in theatres on 7/11/08 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/25/08.

I've seen better acting, writing, directing and special effects in mouthwash commercials. The one ray of sunshine from the whole experience was Elizabeth Banks. She is slowly but surely becoming this generations' Meg Ryan.

I guess I'll never understand why someone would take a title like "comedic legend" and flush it down the drain.


Yes. If you have 3 hours to spare.

Australia is epic. It's long, it has a sweeping score, long, soaring shots of a sprawling beautiful landscape. It has a cross-country adventure, a devastating WWII attack and a love story that is as grand as the exquisite countryside it takes place in. The villain is villainous, the hero is heroic, and the damsel is very often in distress. Australia has all the makings of an Oscar winning film... but it won't win; it probably won't even be nominated.

This movie is too self important for it's own good. It's trying to be epic even though it really already is. There was no reason for Australia to have a 3 hour running time except to make it epic-er. 2:15 or 2:30 would have been just the right amount of epicness as there were two or three times when I felt the movie was dragging.

That being said, I did enjoy it. I think your best bet would be to rent it, but if you wanna go to the movies this week and you've already seen Role Models and Quantum of Solace, Australia is your only choice. There is nothing worth going to until December 19th when Seven Pounds and Yes Man come out... we'll see how those go.



Reprise was released in theatres on 5/16/08 and on DVD on 9/2/08.

Reprise is one of those films that would be perfect if I cared at all about the story. It's almost perfectly written and acted and the style of direction along with the editing kept me fully captivated throughout, but at the end, I just kinda wondered why it even existed. From about half way through I was waiting for some kind of a climax and nothing happened. It's really just the story of two guys who want to be authors.

Here is a synopsis that I pulled from

As Erik and Phillip, lifelong friends and aspiring novelists, stand in front of a mailbox clutching their manuscripts, our narrator takes a moment to speculate upon their futures. Surely both books will garner wild acclaim, lead to prolific careers, and inspire revolutions. In actuality, Phillip's is published and Erik's rejected. But it's Phillip who suffers the harsher fate. Overnight success and a budding, but obsessive, romance prove overwhelming, and he suffers a breakdown. Six months later, when he returns from a psychiatric hospital, Phillip tries to put his life back together, and Erik, having adopted a more measured approach to writing, attempts a literary rebound.
Joachim Trier's debut feature is a whimsical, intelligent reflection on friendship and youthful exuberance. His portrait of two young men for whom life and art occupy the same blurry space is full of honesty and carefully observed moments. And while its preoccupations are weighty (love, disappointment, self-doubt), Reprise is buoyed by visual flourish and an infectious energy. Its splashy, self-conscious style--a throwback to the French New Wave--mixes film stocks, delights in cinematic references, and employs flashbacks, flash-forwards, an unidentified narrator, and frequent detours to Paris (surely with a wink). And with a stellar young cast to boot, Reprise hits every mark, ushering in an exciting young filmmaker. --© Sundance Film Festival

That is the perfect description of the film; if it sounds interesting to you, I highly recommend you check it out. It is, however, in Norwegian with English subtitles, so if you don't dig foreign films, this might not be for you.

Space Chimps


Space Chimps was released in theatres on 7/18/08 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/25/08.

I just don't understand why Fox would even greenlight a project like this. They clearly had absolutely no faith in Space Chimps as proven by it's release date. I mean the success of The Dark Knight wasn't exactly shocking; even a good children's movie would have suffered. Space Chimps is total garbage from beginning to end. The animation is crap, the story is stupid, and the B-list celebrities performing the voices of these characters bring nothing to the table.

Space Chimps was a waste of time for everyone involved. Don't waste yours as well.

Shine a Light

I guess... if you dig the Stones.

Shine a Light was released in theatres on 4/4/08 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/17/08.

This is a movie about ugly people from the music world attempting to collaborate with ugly people from the movie world. But let me tell you, attractive or not, these are the best of music and movies. Even though I really don't dig The Rolling Stones, I was pretty enthralled throughout.

Since I don't really love The Rolling Stones, I feel I need to explain what I meant by "throughout" as used at the end of the last paragraph... I kinda fast forwarded through most of the songs. Not full out fast forward, it was a x1.5 fast forward during which I could still hear everything that was going on. Unfortunately this was more of a concert film than a documentary, so I spent a lot of the time in fast forward.

I loved the behind the scenes and archival footage (which were too few and far between) and as always, Scorsese has put together a masterful piece of cinema.

Transporter 3


I saw Transporter, but not Transporter 2. I didn't like Transporter and everyone says it's better than Transporter. I can't imagine it's worse than Transporter 3.

I'm not sure who they marketed the movie for, but it must have been written by a middle-aged woman or a gay man. Somehow, Jason Statham ends up shirtless, even in situations when you would be 100% sure he could not lose his shirt. All I'm saying is that all of the teenage boys who go to the theatre for an action packed rollercoaster ride of an adventure will most likely be off-put by the strip tease.

Other than that, the movie was pretty shitty. The action sequences are awful; I mean they were bad to begin with, but then they cut them up convoluted them in an effort to make them exciting. It might have actually worked if they hadn't dragged the action sequences out for so long that I realized what they were doing and then got bored. The director fell victim to his own ambition.

That being said, there really is little to like about Transporter 3. The acting is terrible, the action is ridiculous and the editing is too choppy to be considered "stylized". All of that might matter if the story was any good, but there really was no reason to make a third Transporter movie to begin with... or a second one for that matter.

Standard Operating Procedure


Standard Operating Procedure was released in theatres on 4/28/08 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/11/08.

I'm not really sure what the point of this documentary is. It's really not exploring any new territory. I'm pretty sure that at least 80% of the country is aware of the atrocities at Abu Graib and are also aware that while everyone involved acted in poor judgement, that they were actually doing what they were told to do by their superiors.

It is actually a very well made documentary, but as far as content is concerned... I really didn't learn anything new, nor did I care to hear all of the same information about the incidents that I already had heard.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Review coming soon... maybe.

... Yeah, I really have no desire to see Madagascar 2. I didn't like the first one so I probably won't see this one until it's out on DVD next year.


I think I hate Miley Cyrus... but that's only one of the problems I have with Bolt. No. You should not see Bolt... no.

I have a hard time with the concept that the dog thinks the TV show that he stars in is real. How could you possibly convince anyone... human or not that they had lasers shooting out of their eyes. How long have they been running this special effects based show, without rehearsing or reshooting anything... forget about the dog for a second... the humans are getting everything perfect every time? Doubtful... now throw an animal actor in there that is supposed to have very dangerous abilities all of which they need to actually create convincingly in order to keep up the illusion that Bolt actually has those abilities. Did he actally jump over a helicopter without wires? It just doesn't hold up.

Now I know what you're gonna say... "It's a cartoon!" or "It's a kids movie!"... suspension of disbelief has become unnecessary in the world of what I like to call, the Pixar standard. Yes, Wall-E is about a robot that saves the world, Nemo is about a fish from the ocean, that searches for and finds his son... who isn't in the ocean, and Toy Story is about, well, toys who are alive. They all have aspects to their stories that are absolutely unbelievable, but they all make sense in the world which they inhabit. Wall-E takes place 700(?) years int he future... anything is possible and with the progress of technology over the pas several years, sophisticated A.I. and commercial space travel aren't that ridiculous, nor is the state of the environment. Nemo's dad uses legitimate methods to get to his son. Are they exaggerated? Does the fact that all of the animals speak... and the same language help? Sure. My issue isn't with the fact that Bolt can talk though. Even given the ability to talk, if you're going to set something in the real world, you need to follow real world rules. Bolt's first instinct would be to bite his enemies, this is shown by the padded outfit his trainer wears when he is putting bolt back in his trailer. So why isn't the dog biting any of his enemies on the show. If the dog is going to karate chop his trainer in order to escape, there's no need for the bite suit. It's inconsistent, and as I said earlier, in a world where Pixar movies exist, inconsistencies are unacceptable.

As far as Ms. Cyrus is concerned, I turned on the TV the other day and Hannah Montana was on. I had never seen it before so I left it on to see what all the hullabaloo was about. Miley Cyrus is a horrible actress. Horrible. Everything is over exaggerated, her facial expressions, verbal expressions, actions... they are all over the top, and not in a good way. It was all i could think about while I was watching Bolt. Disney needs to ditch her ASAP. Eventually she's just gonna turn into Lindsey Lohan anyway, they really should get out while they are ahead.

Will kids love Bolt? Yes. If that's all that matters, then you should absolutely take them to see this decently animated adventure about an uncomfortably adorable dog. But this is not, by any means, a good movie. Not by Pixar standards.

Encounters at the End of the World


Encounters at the End of the World was released in theatres on 6/11/08 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/18/08.

I'm not really sure why this documentary got such good reviews. It's very boring. In fact, I think it made me boring. If you want to see beautiful landscapes and strange underwater creatures, there are plenty of less pretentious documentaries you can see... just turn on the discovery channel. It was difficult to take Herzog seriously with his ridiculously stereotypical German accent. If this movie were funny at all it could have been an SNL skit.



Transsiberian was released in theatres on 7/18/08 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/4/08.

The truth is it takes way too long for the plot to develop. I was really bored for the first 45-60 minutes of Transsiberian. The worst part is how predictable it is. Now I recognize the fact that I've seen 114 new movies this year alone; me complaining about predictability in movies is sort of asinine. If you aren't going to try for something original then you're movie doesn't need to be 2 hours long.

It's just another instance when if the main character would have just told the truth to begin with there might not have been a movie. Transsiberian was kind of a waste of time.

Mister Foe


Mister Foe was released in theatre on 9/5/08 and on DVD on 11/11/08.

There's a reason why some critically acclaimed movies don't get a wide release. The performances were pretty good across the board, specifically Jamie Bell's. His portrayal of Hallam Foe as a self aware sociopath is tragic and then uplifting. Unfortunately, it's virtually impossible to identify with any of the characters and plot is pretty far fetched.

It's further evidence of Bell's stellar acting chops, but not worthy of a full length feature and certainly not worthy of your time.

Quantum of Solace


... but this is a direct sequel to the previous installment so if you haven't seen Casino Royale, rent that one first.

Bond's quest to avenge the death of his girlfriend leads him straight to a new set of bad guys and I'm not gonna lie... I don't really know what said villains were trying to do other than control land. I'm not sure what they were intending to do with it once they got it. I'm sure when I see it again it will become more clear, in the meantime, see it for yourself strictly for the intense, fast paced action sequences.

I was never a fan of the 007 films, but since Casino Royale, the films have taken on a new identity thanks to the directors (Martin Campbell and Marc Forster) and to writers and actors. It's transformed from the quirky, stylized suave secret agent fighting Dr. Evilesque villains to a British Bourne without the amnesia.

This Bond is darker in nature, but still gives you the traditions of the franchise like Bond girls, fancy cars, and fun toys. See it for a more sophisticated 007 experience, and if you figure out exactly what the evil plot is... please let me know.

Mamma Mia!

Review coming soon (unless I decide to watch The Dark Knight again instead).

UPDATE (7/30/08) I didn't see The Dark Knight again instead of Mamma Mia, but I still just couldn't bring myself to see Mamma Mia either. Maybe I'll go tonight.

UPDATE (11/13/08) I watched 17 minutes and 35 seconds of Mamma Mia and absolutely had to stop. It's hammy and terrible.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

... no.

I love Kevin Smith. I've loved Kevin Smith since Clerks. Unfortunately he can't seem to make a decent flick that isn't part of his View Askewniverse. He flubbed it with Jersey Girl and at the time I attributed it to the PG-13 rating. I fear it doesn't have much to do with the rating though, I think he just doesn't know how to write anyone other than New Jersey deadbeats included, but not limited to Jay and Silent Bob.

There were black jokes because they're trendy, vulgarity for vulgarity's sake and shit... too much shit. The performances are fine, but because of the writing we never really get to know the characters. It seems like we know them, but that's because they aren't really people, they're just stereotypes. Everyone of them is a stereotype and therefore no character development is necessary.

There were a few good laughs, but not enough to recommend that you go out and see it. It was a pretty big disappointment for me and I'm pretty sure the casual moviegoer will be a little bit let down as well.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed


Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed was released in theatres on 4/18/08 and on DVD on 10/21/08.

Ben Stein is a douche. This documentary is supposed to be a defence of the Intelligent Design theory, and yet, at no point does it show any evidence of why that theory is any more realistic than the theory of Evolution. It's goal is to disprove and discredit Darwinism using science and it's connection to Hitler. Unfortunately, he isn't able to make his theory any more probable as a result. Like in Religilous, Stein picks some of the most extreme Darwinists to make the theory look crazier than it is and the most sane seeming Creationists to prove his point. All of them claim that Intelligent Design has nothing to do with religion... but if that's the case, who did the the designing? None of the experts volunteer that information and Stein doesn't ask. The only explanation other than God would be aliens... which is a theory Stein scoffed at when it was in any way, shape, or form suggested in conjunction with Evolution.

He's also a terrible actor; whenever Hitler or the Holocaust is brought up, Stein hides his grimacing face in his hands as if it's the first he's hearing of such atrocities.

This is a horrible documentary. Anyone trying to prove a religious theory really needs to have some evidence. Disproving one theory doesn't prove a another one. You also shouldn't be Ben Stein... that guy is a douche.

Role Models


This comedy fits snugly into the tradition of the recent string of Judd Apatow hits... even without his attachment. It's a raunchy sex comedy with vulgar, shocking language, unnecessary nudity, and a heart of gold.

I saw Role Models on the same day that I watched The Promotion. The Seann William Scott marathon was not only accidental, but unwanted as well. Ever since American Pie, Scott has been playing varying degrees of Stiffler and it's gotten old. I suppose it also depends on the material that surrounds his character and the direction given to him, because while his character in Role Models is almost fully Stiffler... a Semi, if you will... he strayed from the character significantly in The Proposal and was tolerable in both films.

I'm a huge Paul Rudd fan. Maybe it's because of his unassuming look, but it's almost always shocking when he acts the way he does in movies like this and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up, and The 40 Year Old Virgin. He has an innocent look about him unlike Seann William Scott who just looks mischievous. Rudd delivers some of the funniest lines in all of the movies he's in and Role Models is no exception.

The writers, one of whom is Paul Rudd, did an excellent job mixing obvious "dick and fart" jokes with a much more subtle, dry sense of humor. A lot of the gags get an immediate reaction and some of them make you think for a few seconds before you realize how funny the joke actually was. The formula holds true from beginning to end so there are absolutely no surprises to speak of, but it doesn't matter because the parts of the formula are handled with such originality that you don't care what will happen next, you just enjoy it moment to moment.

Soul Men


This could have been fun. I enjoyed whenever Bernie and Sam were on stage performing. When they weren't on stage performing, they were being truly offensive.

It was all boners and old people sex. Stupid humor. If there were teenagers doing the things that these two do in this movie it might have been acceptable. Unfortunately these men are too old for their behavior to be acceptable by anyone's standards. It's not funny... it's sad.

There won't be any posthumous awards for Mac or Issac Hayes. The best part of Soul Men, however, is the tribute to the late actor/comedian and musician at the end of the movie.

The Promotion


The Promotion was released in theatres on 6/6/08 and on DVD on 9/2/08.

I thought this was going to be funnier. That probably sounds like a bad thing. The truth is The Promotion is more of a "funny drama" than a "comedy with a message".

Everything about this movie was sufficient; there is nothing extraordinary about it. It was just enjoyable.


No, except to see Angelina Jolie's heartbreaking performance.

This is one of the most drawn out, anti-climactic movies of the year. With more, longer endings than Return of the King, I almost stood up to leave at least 6 times in the last 20 minutes of the movie. Not because I was disinterested, but just because I thought the story was over. Turns out it still had 10 years of story to tell.

Angelina will most likely be nominated for best lead actress and deservedly so. She ran the gambit of emotions and everyone of them was gut-wrenching. The rest of the performances were adequate, but none of them could change the fact that the movie is never-ending.

If you're like me and you like to see all of the Oscar nominees before the awards are announced, see Changeling, but don't expect a Picture or Director nod, it just wasn't good enough.


Eh... nah.

RocknRolla is the next film in a string of forgettable Guy Ritchie movies. I saw Lock Stock... and I saw Snatch, I don't remember what they were about and I guarantee that when the next Guy Ritchie movie comes out (The Real RockNRolla?) I won't remember what RockNRolla was about.

It all starts out seemingly complicated. I probably just didn't understand what was going on because British witty banter is almost always unintelligible to an American listener. By the time I finished my British to American Rosetta Stone audio tapes, the movie had reduced down to a quirky action comedy with no real point. Something about a "lucky painting" and double jeopardy robberies and then there's the RockNRolla. I'm not really sure why he was in the movie.

The stories all tie together at the end and while I was watching it it all felt important, but the truth is, as entertaining as it was, I feel like it was a waste of time.

Made of Honor

Obviously, no.

Made of Honor was released in theatres on 5/2/08 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/16/08.

But here's the thing... I'm not really sure why it was shit on so hard by critics... yes, it's the same cotton candy crap again, but it was fine for what it was. Did I like it? Nooo. Was it poorly made? Also no.

Don't see it, but if you like that kind of fluff it's not the worst movie out there.

Sex and the City


Sex and the City was released in theatres on 5/30/08 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/23/08.

It took me 4 sittings and after all that, nothing. I never watched the show except for a few minutes here and there on the CW late at night. The characters are made to seem deep with superficial tendencies, but they really are just superficial. There is nothing special or interesting about any of them. It's not that I don't know them either. I didn't need to have seen any of the episodes to "get" the characters... there really is nothing about the characters' character that needed to be developed.

The movie went nowhere. I felt like it should have ended halfway through... which is probably one of the points that I stopped watching. I guess there was nothing technically wrong with the movie and I know I'm not exactly it's target audience, but there really is no reason to watch the Sex and the City movie.

88 Minutes


88 Minutes was released in theatres on 4/18/08 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/16/08.

Terrible. 88 Minutes is the worst acted, written and most poorly directed and edited movie of the year. I honestly don't even know where to start.

They've got Al Pacino running around, diving out of the way of motorcycles and firetrucks. People get shot, hanged and gutted, a building caught on fire and a car explodes and Pacino's student's reaction is an exasperated "ugh, what next?!?" Actually... watch it to see how bad it is. It's hysterically shitty.

Pride & Glory


This time I wasn't just being lazy. Usually, when my page has a movie listed that simply states "Review coming soon", it's because I saw the movie already and was just being lazy when it came to writing the review. This time was different though... this time, I couldn't decide whether you should see it or not.

The performances were strong, the direction was fine, and as far as gritty cop dramas go... this was as gritty as they get. Unfortunately, the material just wasn't there. This was a rehash of nothing... we've seen it all before and there was nothing there the first time. It's your basic corrupt cop movie during which nothing out of the ordinary happens. We all know how it's going to end from the beginning and yet the filmmakers feel the need to drag it out for 2 and a half hours.

The movie was about how the family bond can corrupt you... IE. his brother can commit a crime and then even a law enforcement officer would struggle with whether or not to commit another crime to cover for him. You'll do anything for family. Yet they didn't really show how the final decisions affected their family. Once the plot of the movie played out... the movie ended. If they wanted us to care about these people we needed some kind of a wrap up. How did the mother and sister handle it... the kids that were directly affected... there was too much character development for them not to give us some kind of payoff as far as the characters were concerned. A simple montage at the end or a news report would have sufficed.

If not for the cursing and the brutal violence this could have been a decent story arc for a television series... hell but it on HBO and you can leave the cursing and the violence in... but make a 2 hour movie about it? There isn't enough time to develop the plot and the characters and wrap everything up nicely. Don't bother with Pride and Glory.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster*


Bigger, Stronger, Faster was released in theatres on 5/30/08 and on DVD on 9/30/08.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster examines the steroid use of the director and his two brothers who all grew up idolizing Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan, and Sylvester Stallone.

Beyond the basic issue of anabolic steroid use, Bigger, Stronger, Faster* examines the lack of consistency in how America views drugs, cheating, and the lengths people go to achieve success. This includes looking beyond the steroid issue to such topics as laser eye correction, use of anxiety reducing drugs, and cortisone shots; a legal steroid.

The issue of steroid use in sports is one that has absolutely no effect on me. I don't participate in any sports nor do I bet on them. I couldn't care less about the health ramifications of steroid use because steroids are not in any way a part of my life. Yet, for some reason, I was totally enthralled with this movie. Maybe it's the principal of the matter. The lack of evidence that steroids is harmful was interesting to me as was the plethora of legal performance enhancing techniques that students, musicians, and athletes use to win win win (Beta Blockers, Adderol, Cortisone).

The movie takes a long hard look at the American way of life and how everyone needs to be Bigger, Stronger, Faster, Better, and Smarter. The director, while admitting that all drugs are dangerous (including alcohol and tobacco), examines the hypocrisy of singling out anabolic steroids as a performance enhancing drug when there are other perfectly legal ways of un-leveling the playing field in your favor other than developing your natural talent. It is a well made, personal examination of how the American way of life affects us all.

Boy A


Boy A was released in theatres on 7/28/08 and on DVD on 10/7/08.

You know how after you've been living paycheck to paycheck for a while and you finally decide it's time to start saving for your future, but then you're car breaks down and you have to spend all of the money you've saved to get it fixed? Or let's say you're really overweight and you get stranded on a deserted island with nothing to do but walk around and eat healthy food but then, mysteriously, a crate filled with candy bars, potato chips and ranch dressing falls from the sky. That's what Boy A is on a much grander scale.

Who deserves an opportunity to try again? Who gets to decide? If you have legally fulfilled your obligation to society as sentenced by the court, what gives anyone else the right to judge you? Who really is the bad guy in this movie? There are a lot of questions there and the filmmakers behind Boy A don't presume to know the answers, they simply tell a story about a two kids who make a horrifying decision that changes their lives forever.

All aspects of the film's production are exceptional from the story and the direction to the acting and the cinematography. The more you get to know these characters the more you dread finding out how and why it all started as well as how and why it all ends. Boy A is an absolutely stunning piece of work that everyone should make a point of seeing.



Forget for a moment about how I feel about George W. Bush. This was just a bad movie in a string of bad Oliver Stone movies. World Trade Center wasn't terrible, but Nicholas Cage was in it. Alexander, Any Given Sunday, and U Turn? What happened to him? This is the same guy that made JFK, Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and Natural Born Killers. It's like he forgot how to make good movies.

I can't tell from W. whether Oliver Stone likes or dislikes still-President Bush. It would seem as if he doesn't from the movies content, but he also leads us to believe that the president is misunderstood; hat he's a likable frat guy; a "joe six pack". The fact of the matter is, if the movie is accurate, the still-president is pretty pathetic... and that's frightening.

It seems as if, his whole life, George Jr. had never accomplished anything without daddy's help. Well when H.W. disapproved of him running for president, Georgie saw that as an opportunity to prove that he could do it on his own. Unfortunately for us, he could. Throughout the movie an unqualified man makes decisions for an entire nation as per the advise of his unqualified advisers. The fact that this is art imitating life, and not just art, is sad. These clowns led us into two wars and the worst economic crisis of our generation. He made bad decisions followed by horrible leadership and he's supposed to be the protagonist. I knew it would be a difficult sell, but I really hoped Stone would be able to pull it off. He couldn't.



The image on the poster is the end of the movie. They showed this scene in the the trailer and I thought, "they couldn't possibly be showing the final shot of the movie..." but when I hadn't seen the lead being dragged away, and everyone else was dead, it became clear that their entire advertising plan was devised around giving away the end of the movie. Since they didn't care, neither do I. Everyone dies. The events of the movie are pointless because it all leads to nothing.

The movie begins with what felt like 4 hours of unnecessary setup. The reporter who is shadowing the fire department for a show called "The Late Shift", misses a call and then spends all night paling around with the fire fighters. We didn't need all of that setup, if she had gotten on the truck for the call that she missed, we all would have gotten it. The movie would have been 20 minutes shorter... which would have been a good thing.

The movie then sets up rules only to contradict them. The infected victims become zombies very quickly, but the little girl who owned the dog that brought the disease into the building has been living with it right up until they realize that her dog spread the disease... at which point she attacks her mother and scurries off into the darkness.

The movie really isn't worth discussing so I'll end this by begging everyone to avoid this movie at all costs.

The Express

There really isn't anything that makes The Express stand out from the crowd of inspirational sports movies. So I'm go ahead and say no...

Note: If you are unfamiliar with the story of Ernie Davis, there are spoilers in this review... it is based on a true story though so I really didn't bother censoring myself as far as the plot is concerned.

... That being said, with the exception of a few flaws, The Express is a very good movie. If you feel like paying $10 plus snacks and gas to go see Remember the Titans 2, then there is little I can say to convince you not to. The only issue I have with the movie... that I didn't even think of until someone else mentioned it to me... is the fact that they show Davis' college football career through his sophomore year and then they flash to 2 years later when he wins the Heisman Trophy. They didn't show what he did in those two years to warrant the award.

It was also a little too long. I actually forgot that it was a biopic until after the Cotton Bowl, when I thought the movie was going to end... and it didn't. It went on for like 20-30 more minutes and the movie ended quite anticlimactically.

It was well made for the most part. For some reason Dennis Quaid does his best Jack Nicholson impersonation for his first couple of scenes. After that he is pretty good as it the rest of the cast throughout. If you're going the the movies anyway then you might as well see The Express, but don't go out of your way.

Body of Lies

Another rental... yes, you should see it, but no, not in theatres.

I got the same feeling from this as I got from The Kingdom. Actually they were both released at the beginning of October about a year apart... it's probably a coincidence. Body of Lies was better written with more believable acting and much more believable casting.

I really like the idea of setting up a fake terrorist organization so that the leaders of a real terrorist organization will attempt to contact the fake one... thus revealing themselves. I think it's a clever plot for a movie. I'm not 100% sure it would work in real life. Who knows? Maybe they've already tried it.

I'm starting to respect Leonardo DiCaprio. I didn't think I'd ever be able to after Titanic, but between Body of Lies, Blood Diamond, and mostly The Departed, I'm closer to calling myself a fan than I ever imagined I would be. I still don't like Russell Crowe. I feel like everything that he does is an attempt for another Oscar.

I enjoyed Body of Lies except for the gratuitous torture scenes. I feel like Ridley Scott kept the camera on the crushed and severed digits for too long just to add shock value. He just kept showing them. Other than that, it was a little bit The Kingdom with a touch of Syriana. If you're interested in "war on terror" movies, then see it. Everyone else can wait until it's on DVD.