Movie review : Crazy Heart

Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart
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[ No spoilers ] For most people, if asked to name a Jeff Bridges movie, more than half would say Starman. I’ve always felt that it was his best role. Until today.

Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake, a wash-up, alcoholic country singer reduced to singing in bowling alleys for chump change will go down in cinema history.

Bridges’ performance as Bad Blake has never and will never be equaled. He looks the part of a tired old man who’s seen the bottom of a shot glass too many times. He’s overweight and poorly groomed and even though his voice is still able to hold the attention of everyone in the room, you know that he was so much better when he was at the top of the charts.

I think that’s part of the magic of this movie, you know who he was before the bottle took over his life, without resorting the cheesy flashback. Maggie Gyllenhaal is great as the love interest. And what can I say about Robert Duvall as Bad’s mentor. He’s Tender Mercy all over again.

Movie review : From Paris With Love

From Paris With Love
From Paris With Love
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[ No spoilers ] I was really looking forward to this movie. And while I’m not hugely disappointed I’m also not exactly thrilled with it either. I guess the good news is that it’s a decent movie because it could have really sucked. But with the talented combination of Travolta acting and Luc Besson writing there’s only so bad it could get.

Getting peetimes for this movie wasn’t easy. That’s because there’s a bit of a mystery going on during the middle of the movie as Wax and James try to figure out who’s running the show. I kept having a feeling that this could be important later. Ultimately it wasn’t that big of a deal. If you’re going to see this movie for the plot then you’re probably going to be very disappointed.

The action was average. Lots of Wax – Travolta – shooting dozens of people while never getting a scratch on him. That’s as good as it gets. Wax does have a few good lines here and there but nothing iconic. Well, just one line that is a reuse of an iconic line he delivered in Pulp Fiction. You’ll like that moment.

The other guy – Jonathan Rhys Meyers – as James was decent. Nothing award winning but then it’s not that kind of movie.

It does seem that they were trying to set this up as a franchise, as the two desperate characters work well together as a team, blah, blah, blah. But I doubt if this is going to have the popularity it will need to bring on a sequel. Because in the end it’s just an average action movie.

One tiny little thing that bothers me is the movie poster. It didn’t happen in the movie that way. Not that it’s important, but James isn’t driving when Wax is shooting the rocket launcher. And besides that, Wax doesn’t even shoot the rocket launcher from the car. What movie were these guys watching when they made this poster? 🙂

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Movie review : Dear John

Dear John
Dear John
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[ No spoilers ] The movie schedule this week worked out to where I had to see this movie instead of my mother or wife. So a middle aged guy is probably not the demographic this movie was aiming for. I’m pretty sure I was the only single guy in the entire theater. Most were groups of young women or couples of all ages.

Getting peetimes for this movie wasn’t too hard because there are really just a few moments in the movie that are remotely missable. Personally I think the love/sex scene is the best time to get away because really, not a lot going on besides the camera panning over their bodies for a minute or so. You’re better off missing that than some important dialog.

The acting and production values were all spot on. Amanda Seyfried was pretty great. And I just discovered that she played Lilly Kane in Veronica Mars. I thought she looked familiar. 🙂 She pretty much carried the show. It isn’t that Channing Tatum is bad or anything. He just plays a young, fairly dower Army guy. Not a lot of expressions going on there. But then if he did it might seem a bit misplaced. So kudos for him not trying to over act the part.

I was really impressed with the job Richard Jenkins – John’s father – did. It was a fairly small role but he did a lot with it.

I think what most people will want to know is how emotional is this movie? Well, it’s both happy and sad which is probably what you want to hear. And I’ll bet that 99% of the women who see this movie will shed a few tears and a large percentage of men will as well. And then there’s the one scene where I actually heard people sobbing. So yes, this movie brings the emotion pretty well. And hey, there’s even a few explosions and gun fights tossed in there so everyone can be happy. 🙂

What did you think about Dear John? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness
Edge of Darkness
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Mel Gibson provides just the right touch in Edge of Darkness – he’s a sweetheart father, a rough Boston cop dedicated to his job, and pretty darned good at psyching people out to give up their creepy intel. He’s also lucky to make it to the end in one piece (so to speak) with that nothing-left-to-lose ‘tude he pulls on everyone in his path. Yes, he’s done that before in Lethal Weapon, but that was back in the Pleistocene. Mel’s a grown up now, and a lot darker.

It was hard to find PeeTimes for this movie, since you really do need to pay ATTENTION to everything that goes on. And sometimes, even when you are paying close attention, you still miss a subtle clue, or just can’t untangle what someone with a quiet but thick English accent might have just said.

Is this a scary flick? No. There’s some vomit and blood, but it all makes sense with what is going on. You’ll startle at least once (there’s a thing with a car door…). Are there laughs? A running gag about what’s legal in Massachusetts got the audience going each time. Will you cry? I tried not to. I almost made it. That last 15 seconds got me over the edge, dang it.

An excellent score by Howard Shore backs up this surprisingly thoughtful thriller. Dark, complicated, intense, a few light laughs and a tiny bit of tears at the very end. See this film. A-

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Movie review : When in Rome

When in Rome
When in Rome
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I like Kristen Bell; she is a doll. When in Rome is charming fluff to pleasantly fill an hour and make you want to believe in magic. Maybe. Ignore the plot holes and try to just have fun.

The film sweeps along at a swift clip with hardly any filler. Bell and Josh Duhamel have a nice, easygoing chemistry. The silly suitors (including one surprise casting) get down with their bad selves as enjoyable irritants. The Wizard of Oz ending was sappy but cute: “And without you, Dorothy, I would never have found the courage/heart/brains to become a better person.”

Duhamel’s buddy Puck is also a hoot in his off-kilter supporting role. Let’s hope he finds a woman who appreciates Wookies.

I would have liked more scenes in Rome. Most of the film is in New York, and that was a let down. New York City – pish – done that. At least recent rom-com Leap Year treated us to a fine Irish panorama. I wanted more Rome.

Thoughtful use of the Guggenheim, though.

When in Rome earns a solid B for light hearted, silly fun with a ‘different’ romantic premise. It’s not trying to make a statement or pretend to be something deep. The audience laughed a lot, and so did I.

Ingredients: love-struck suitor fun, amiable romantic antics, wedding chuckles. Add a pinch of art discussion and one Roman statue of Venus. Mix well with attractive leads. Serve warm, with a side of laughter.


Okay, duty done: let’s get down to what really needs to happen: Getting Veronica Mars back. Please? Any producers listening?


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Movie review : Extraordinary Measures

Extraordinary Measures
Extraordinary Measures
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This was a major disappointment, sad to say. The sick children were perky and adorable, and it was neat to watch Harrison Ford play a crotchety misogynist. And…that’s about it. B- and rent the DVD if you must.

Here is the screenplay, in a nutshell:

Investors: Do it our way if you want the money. Bwahaha.

Father: My kids! My sick kids!

Investors: So your kids are sick, so what? We need to make this profitable; also you represent a conflict of interest.

Harrison Ford: I love rock n roll. So put another dime in the jukebox, baby.

Lab Techs: Sir, there’s a problem with the quantum polarity generator in the graviton field! We need to align the variances in the isolinear emitter of the multidimensional subspace amplifiers!

Father: Did you know my kids are sick and really cute?

Everyone: [Together] Awwwww. Hugs and bunnies and pooping rainbows!

Harrison Ford: I hate all you people.

Brendan Fraser: I thought I saw a mummy around here somewhere.


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Movie review : The Tooth Fairy

Tooth Fairy
Tooth Fairy
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[ No Spoilers ]

It’s no secret: I love kids movies. To be more precise I love kids movies that have good humor, good acting and deliver a message without being silly about it. That being said, “I loved Tooth Fairy.”

There are a lot of comedies that aren’t funny. Take for instance Funny People which had funny people in the movie but they didn’t do much that was funny. The Tooth has lots of hilarious scenes. I mean throwing your head back and laughing out loud scenes. And that was the reaction from most of the audience which was predominantly adults. I’m sure that kids would find it even more hilarious.

Dwayne Johnson – The Rock – is great. I’ve seen a lot of his movies and some of them suck. Take the remake of Escape From Witch Mountain. Huge suckage but that wasn’t necessarily his fault. It was just a lame story and had pathetic production values. There’s none of that in Tooth Fairy.

Probably the most important skill that Dwayne Johnson has is his ability to act with kids. He had a lot of one-on-one time with the two kids – Lily and Randy – in this movie and did very well. And they weren’t easy scenes either. They required both parties to perform well, which is something that many adult actors can’t pull off when working with kids. My theory is that the adult has to make the kid feel comfortable. Which is something that Johnson must be adept at.

Of course the core of any good movie is in the telling of a good story. Yes, the story is predictable. It’s a kids movie. What else would you expect? However the story doesn’t go exactly in the direction that you might expect. What I liked most was that when the characters decided to really work at something they didn’t succeed right away. There were failures to overcome. In many stories once the characters become determined to accomplish something they do so. Which is simplistic because life just isn’t that way. I think this shows kids a valuable lesson in that they must continue to believe in themselves and not be afraid to change tactics when trying to accomplish something.

As someone who grew up watching Billy Crystal movies it was so nice to see him back at his best. He doesn’t work much anymore but he still has the gift. His role here is reminiscent of his role in Princess Bride but as a happier character. If you like Billy then by all means see this movie.

And it cannot go unmentioned that Ashley Judd does a good job with her part even though she doesn’t have much of a role. I didn’t even know that she was in the movie until she was introduced. Putting talented actors in minor roles really helps bring the grade up for this film. The same can be said for the ageless Julie Andrews and Stephen Merchant – The Office. Both are perfect for their roles.

What did you think about Tooth Fairy? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Legion

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Legion. Big sigh. I wanted so much more.

It’s about Revelations, sorta, and that is a really big deal in Christian mythology. Four horsemen, the holy host, avenging angels. The legions of God, right? Thus the title? We got boils and locusts. And…strangely enough, zombies.

So the world ends by God Matrixing people into flesh eating zombies? Whut?

Where were all the angels? The wrath of the Almighty? Why does this movie devolve into a languid morass of exposition, recycled Terminator plotlines and lackluster zombies? Even for a zombie movie, this is uninspired drivel. There is one cool moment with a creepy ice cream man, and the nice old evil dead lady offered a promising tease.

And then? A whole lot of nothing, paired with a random cast of morons to get picked off before you gave a turd. Turd. Yes, that is what this movie was. It makes me mad. It makes me want to go back and see Daybreakers again, which was a GOOD monster movie, to flush the disappointment of Legion out of my system.

B- for okay production values and fine work by Paul Bettany as Archangel Michael. Bettany conveys power and majesty, even wingless and armed with automatic rifles (again, whut?), in this sad excuse for a horror-action event. His scenes with Archangel Gabriel are pretty good. More of that would have been nice.

Finally, the denouement was plain old dumb: “I gave him what he wanted.” Fail. I am all testy now. Testy, huh, like Old Testament testy.

Perhaps some other writer will try to mine this rich field again and give us a blockbuster film about God giving up on mankind, with all the philosophical resonances, mankind’s struggle, the horror of angels wielding death brands and smiting humanity the forsaken.

What did you think about Legion? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones
[ No spoilers ]
The Lovely Bones..Ted Bundy meets What Dreams May Come. I read the book..loved it…then saw the movie…loved it also. The nearly full theater applauded at the end of the movie which is always a good sign.
I came home eager to read the latest reviews. I knew there were three possibilities:
  1. those who read the book, saw the movie and felt betrayed
  2. those who didn’t read the book, but gathered from the trailers that it was going to be a supernatural slasher/thriller and disappointed that it was neither
  3. Then folks like me who read the book, knew what to expect, and was very forgiving for a few plot holes because it was such a pretty movie
I was completely engaged throughout the movie, never felt that one point or another was being beat to death, was impressed with the acting, especially impressed with Rose McIver, her character went from age 11 to 20 and she pulled it off beautifully, not with a change in hair and makeup, but with her attitude. Stanley Tucci was Oscar worthy, one of the creepiest villains ever.
Marky Mark Wahlberg fortunately didn’t have to do much but look sad and angry, same for Rachel Weisz. Saoirse Ronan was perfect for the role of the murdered teenager. We saw her as an innocent young girl, waiting for that first kiss, then as an angry confused murder victim wanting to exact revenge on her killer. But finding that it was more important to help her earth-bound family cope with her death.
Peter Jackson did a beautiful job of not only allowing us to feel her wide range of emotions but to see the emotions through some pretty spectacular landscapes straight out of a Maxfield Parrish painting. Even the cold desolate landscapes revealing her anger showing us the dead corn field and crumbling gazebo were breathtaking.
My only complaint: Susan Sarandon should have been given a much larger role, she was fantastic.

What did you think about The Lovely Bones? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli

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[ No Spoilers ]

If you’re a Denzel Washington fan then worst case scenario is you’ll just barely enjoy this film. More than likely you’ll enjoy it a lot. Maybe even love it.

What will probably be the determining factor in what most people think of this film is how well they take to the style that it is filmed in. The lighting is always stark and washed out. It’s almost looks like it was filmed in black and white. The lighting isn’t just for some stylistic impression. It’s that way because this takes place after a nuclear war.

I personally loved the style and cinematography that was used. Very dramatic, and it sets the mood well for the story that is being told.

As for the story: immediately after the film I would have given it a solid 8-out-of-10. But after thinking about it more and more, I find myself liking the movie more. Usually it’s the other way around. So good work on putting together something that gave us a nice revelation at the end that hardly anyone will see coming. Yeah, you’re going to want to steer clear of any spoilers for this film. If someone starts to tell you how it ends, then just stick a knife through their throat. That’s what Eli would do. 🙂 That being said – now that I know what’s what – I’m looking forward to seeing this movie again on DVD.

What did you think about The Book of Eli? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.