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Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

Yes... kind of.

I remember seeing the original on DVD after being told how great it was and thinking it was OK. I rewatched it in preparation for the sequel and absolutely loved it. It's funny, emotional, action packed... it really has just about everything you could want in a movie.

Boondock Saints II is definitely action packed and has some humorous moments, but struggles with the emotional parts and, stylistically, is really nothing like the original. In fact, although it is written and directed by Troy Duffy, the writer and director of the original, you'd never know it... If Boondock Saints was inspired by Tarantino, All Saints Day was inspired by the Wachowski Brothers. Boondock Saints seemed to effortlessly roll off of Duffy's pen whereas All Saints Day is very heavy handed. Duffy is clearly trying very hard to recreate the qualities of the original and for the first 3/4 of the movie is pretty unsuccessful.

The characters are set up in three groups (just like in the original): law enforcement, the saints, and the mob. Also like in the first movie, the mob are like cartoon characters dripping with stereotypes. I was hoping he might have toned it down a little, but, they remain. The same team of Boston police from the original are back and while they were subtly goofy in the first installment, they're like the three stooges in the sequel. Willem Dafoe's replacement is Julie Benz (Rita from 'Dexter'). She is so annoying throughout the whole movie that it's almost unbearable. The boys are fine although I noticed that Sean Patrick Flannery's brogue seemed a little off... it might just be because I recently learned that he isn't actually from Ireland, he was born in Louisiana and raised in Texas. Maybe if I rewatch the original with this new information, I'll notice it in that one as well.

From the moment Billy Connelly shows up at the end, everything seems to get back on track and the last 20 minutes or so could have easily been tacked onto the end of the first movie. I didn't hate All Saints Day, but I was slightly disappointed. If you're a Boondock Saints fan, check this movie out, but keep your expectations low.

Michael Jackson's This Is It


My problem with This Is It, is that there is no climax. Throughout the film, the editor's continuously introduce layer after layer of the final product, as if there was going to be a final product... there is none.

They start by showing the dancer auditions, then interspersed throughout footage of the rehearsals, they add information about the band, then the production of the video footage for the backdrop of the stage, then the costuming and the pyrotechnics. It all very slowly builds up to what I was hoping would be footage of a near final dress rehearsal with full lighting, make-up and costumes. I recognize the fact that the man died suddenly and that if there was no footage to show, there was no way to create it. I think there were some better choices that could have been made by the director to create a stronger third act to the film.

Performance-wise, I'd have to say I'm slightly disappointed. I know he was just rehearsing and wasn't expecting this footage to be released, but if this was the best footage they had, then they really probably shouldn't have released it.

Sanity-wise, I'd have to say that Michael Jackson had lost a significant portion of his mind prior to the beginning of rehearsals. There were times that he was upset about something and he didn't even know what his problem was. The crew would try to guess what he was trying to say until finally MJ would just repeat the same thing over and over again until the crew would just agree with whatever unintelligible string of words was coming out of his mouth.

Overall, I'd have to say that This Is It is a poorly produced mish-mosh of underperformed classic songs and crazy that goes on for way too long and culminates into absolutely nothing.

Saw VI


I loved Saw and I liked Saw II. Saw's III, IV, and V are a blur. There are some aspects of this entry that help it to stand out, but just because it's recognizable doesn't mean it isn't crap. I guarantee you could pick out a Black-Eyed Pea's song on the radio if it came on... their music is certainly recognizable.

This review contains spoilers. Stop reading now if you don't want to know specific details about the plot.

Saw VI is interesting because it's topical. It had enough sense to take something that is very prevalent in the news and turn it into a story in which someone could be injected with hydrofluoric acid into their mid section until their body disintegrates enough to split in half at the waist, spilling out their intestines. What topic could they possibly take straight out of the news that could incorporate such a repulsive visual? Health care.

That's right, health care... from the grave, Jigsaw goes after the CEO of the insurance company that denied him the treatment that might have saved his life. How does he do this? I have no idea. I can't, for the life of me, understand why these people are agreeing to fulfill this psychopath's wishes. For some reason, the people who have taken over the reigns of Jigsaw's elaborately constructed death train, continue to murder people that have had absolutely no impact on their lives. If these people would just look at each other and say, "He's dead. There's nothing he can do to us if we decide not to continue his murderous rampage. Let's not kill anyone anymore," this could all be over. Instead, they apparently keep recruiting top graduates from MIT to construct these overly elaborate, ostentatious, labyrinthine devices to end people in the most extravagant ways imaginable only to find out that they have set themselves on a road toward certain doom that could have been avoided if they had decided not to kill in the first place.

The movie is constructed fairly well with a mild twist at the end. I've recommended gory movies to the masses before but those movies always have something else going for them (clever writing, a story or characters that you can invest yourself in or relate to). Saw VI has little to nothing going for it.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assisstant


Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant may have been, like, a billion times better than I had expected it to be... but that isn't saying much.

The movie is Harry Potterish in tone, just replace wizards with carnies and a castle with a circus camp site. The movie is filled with conflict that appears out of nowhere. The main character who is so obsessed with spiders that he has the balls to sneak into the dressing room of a vampire to steal his pet really isn't all that believable. At the same time, unbeknownst to the main character, his best friend, who all of a sudden has this horrible life, with a dead dad and a drunk mom, who can't take it anymore and so wants to become a vampire, sneaks into the vampire's room to provoke said vampire into turning him. The film maker's should have spent more time exploring the friends family background before this confrontation, instead of springing it on us out of the blue. If you never get to know the characters through experiencing their situations with them, it's difficult to develop an emotional connection with them and is then impossible to care about the rest of their journey.

The rest of the problems stem, I assume, from the book. "Vampanese"? Come on, is that really the extent of your imagination? In this story, vampanese are the dangerous versions of vampires. But in all of folklore, vampires are dangerous... number 1: Wouldn't it have made more sense to have had the "nice vampires" change their category to something else so that they wouldn't be associated with such a horrible creature?... #2 Vampanese? That has to be one of the laziest, least imaginative creature names I've ever heard. It sounds like the author was stumped and asked his 6 year old kid for an idea.

This is the beginning of a saga, apparently. Hopefully it will fall the way of Eragon and never be continued. If you have kids who have read the books, you may get stuck sitting through this, and to be honest, it really isn't completely unbearable. Otherwise, don't waste your money.

Where the Wild Things Are

Ummm, this can probably wait for home viewing.

Where the Wild Things Are is a somewhat bleak film that could possibly influence some young viewers one way while others might see it from a completely different perspective. Fortunately, I think the director was going for the much more realistic perspective, which may have been the movie's downfall.

One way, and not necessarily the best way, to interpret the film (if you're a young child) is that you can use your imagination to create a world for you to escape into, and that that's a good way solve life's problems. I would love for that to be a good message to send to kids, however (and I have NO scientific evidence to prove this), if they never unlearn that message, they will probably grow up disillusioned, unhappy, and possibly homicidal.

The other way to interpret Where the Wild Things Are, is that you cannot solve life's issues by simply forgetting about them. I believe this is the message that the filmmakers were trying to convey, creating a very bland, in look and feel, cinematic experience. Max spends most of his time in solitude, in a desert, or just sad/angry. What could have been an interesting emotional journey ends up just being a stagnant escape until he misses his mother and wants to go home.

I do think it's worth a viewing, however, for the very naturalistic performance of Max Records as Max, and for the costuming/special effects of the "wild things". I spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out how they were able to express so many emotions through the enormous Muppet heads of the characters. When Where the Wild Things Are comes out on DVD/Blu-ray, give it a rent and check out another thought provoking Spike Jonze film that may or may not be good for the whole family.

Paranormal Activity


Paranormal Activity has a significant amount of flaws and if you're looking for a quality film, this is not it. It scared the shit out of me, though.

I actually audibly gasped at one point. The fright lingered for a little bit but was instantly cured when I got home and watched the season premiere of 30 Rock that I had DVRed earlier that night. It stayed with me up until that point, though, as I walked quickly from my car to my front door and then turned the shower light on before the regular bathroom light to see if there were any shadows. Instead of the traditional 2am fridge raid which would have put me in the kitchen with my back to the sliding glass backdoor to our house and the pitch black void beyond it, filled with who knows what horrors, I headed straight up to the safety (?) of my room and forgot about the horrors of Paranormal Activity with the help of Tina, Alec and Tracy.

The acting was passable at times, and then at other times was absolutely atrocious. There were irrelevant plot points that could have been left out entirely, and the actual actions of the movie could have been consolidated into a shorter time period.

Overall, it was highly effective. Like with The Blair Witch Project, there will probably be a bunch of people who won't admit to having been scared. They're lying... Paranormal Activity is a scary mother fucker.



The only problem I had with Zombieland is that Shaun of the Dead was made first.

Zombieland is American through and through and Shaun of the Dead is definitely British not only in location and accent, but also socio-politically/economically. While both groups will do anything to survive, the folks in SotD seem more concerned with strictly surviving, staying together and coming up with a plan. The Zombieland characters are distinctly American in that they kill zombies for sport, destroy property to relieve stress, and are distrustful of other non-zombies. To be fair, Shaun of the Dead takes place at the beginning of the outbreak whereas the Americans had two months to grow bitter and disheartened in Zombieland before the movie starts.

Zombieland is the Nascar of ZomComs. It's rednecky, obnoxious and in your face. Sounds terrible, right? Wrong. It's a tremendous amount of fun. It takes its place as the best so far in a recent series movies with running times less than 90 minutes long; short and sweet. It's bloody, gory, and funny, with a smattering of heartwarming moments that help to ground the movie in reality without being too heavy handed. If you can stomach the gore, I highly recommend Zombieland.

Couples Retreat


I had very low expectations going in to Couples Retreat. I haven't liked Vince Vaughan since just after Wedding Crashers. Surprisingly, he was almost tolerable compared to the rest of the movie which is filled with unhappy people who are constantly complaining. First about their lives, then about being tricked into couples therapy, then about each other, then about the situations they were in... the just kept complaining non stop.

There were a few humorous scenes, and several that were probably supposed to be funny, but the rest of Couples Retreat was just annoying.

Capitalism: A Love Story

Yes... even though I was a little bored.

The middle class is dying. This movie almost seems like it's designed to explain to people what's happening to them. It doesn't offer any easy solutions, and it doesn't offer a single solution that can't be boiled down to the dreaded "s" word, and I'll tell you... the more conservatives/republicans pull the socialism card, the more I think that it probably isn't all that bad. And before you panic, I really don't know all that much about socialist societies. My point is, it seems like anytime someone wants a well-to-do person to help a not so well-to-do person, they are being called socialist. So if I want to spend my unused insurance money to help someone who can't afford their cancer medicine and their mortgage payments for either one of them via Universal Health Care instead of giving an insurance company CEO's kid a down payment on a new BMW that he probably doesn't deserve... then I guess I'm a socialist.

As far as the movie is concerned, I usually base my opinion on how engaged I am during the movie. I may not know much about the subject matter or even care about it, it's the film maker's job to make me care and to educate me, otherwise he/she is just preaching to the choir. I was less engaged during Capitalism: A Love Story than I needed to be. I was engrossed in Sicko (which is, in my opinion, Moore's best work). I've seen it multiple times. I don't know if I could sit through Capitalism: A Love Story again, but I definitely found most of it to be interesting enough to recommend.

The Brothers Bloom


The Brothers Bloom was released in theatres on 5/15/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/6/09.

In a world where Duplicity and The International get wide releases, I'm having a hard time why The Brothers Bloom kept getting put on the back burner (sorry Clive, I don't know specifically what it is about you that I don't like... I just don't like you.). I didn't like the The Brothers Bloom and it really didn't stand a chance mostly due to my issues with the title. You see, Bloom isn't their last name... it's the first name of Adrien Brody's character, sooooo... it really should just be called The Brother Bloom... or The Brothers whatever their last name is (I have no idea what it is).

That being said, it was cute and quirky. I didn't hate watching it, I really just didn't care.

The Invention of Lying

Sadly, no.

I was very excited for this movie. I love Ricky Gervais. Have you seen his stand-up on HBO? So funny. Not to say that The Invention of Lying wasn't funny. It just wasn't as funny as I was expecting.

I love the direction it took. I really didn't expect it turn into the "big" lie that it ended up turning into and I'm glad it did. I think it wasted too much time on the smaller lies and the whole "will they, won't they" crap went on for far too long.

I think if the movie were 30 minutes shorter (provided they cut out the right scenes) I would be raving about The Invention of Lying. Alas...