Friday, December 26, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

David Fincher’s memorable new drama, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” is a wonderful movie that is loosely based on the 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. However, in Fitzgerald’s story Benjamin was physically, mentally and emotionally older at birth and got younger on all fronts.

The film’s structure starts in a New Orleans hospital in 2005 on the eve of Hurricane Katrina. Daisy (Cate Blanchett) is on her deathbed. Her daughter, Caroline (Julia Ormond) is reading a diary kept by Daisy’s childhood friend Benjamin (beautifully played by Brad Pitt in a bittersweet and endearing performance).

At nearly three hours, the movie is too dense to fully explore, but as Benjamin ages in reverse, we find him meeting along the way all those people who will become important to him. Through reading the diary we flash back from 1918 and follow Benjamin and Daisy up to the 21st century.

Throughout this movie, there’s an ache to the proceedings that’s palpable, particularly as Benjamin slowly turns into the man we eventually recognize as Brad Pitt while those close to him move into the old age he already has experienced. As he grows younger and younger, he watches those closest to him slip away while he himself is fueled by a vitality they have long since forgotten.

This film is rich and intelligent, it's beautifully shot and just as well acted. I would say that it's one of the years best movies.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman star in Baz Luhrmann's epic tale of adventure, romance, war and racial reconciliation Down Under in the movie Australia.

It's 1939. Concerned that her husband is cheating on her, the aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley flies to the remote tip of Northern Australia to grab him by force and drag him back home to England. But his ‘mistress’ is in reality a cattle ranch that others have been trying to steal from him. All Lady Ashley discovers is the crumbling spread called Faraway Downs and a murdered husband. Though she means to leave, she finds herself inexplicably attached to an aboriginal child, as well as intrigued by the challenge of saving the ranch.

Fortunately, to accomplish this, she has help from the rough-edged Drover (Hugh Jackman) and a small team of loyal employees, who must all race across the desert to Darwin to break cattle baron King Carney's (Bryan Brown) monopoly on the armed forces' meat supply. Soon Sarah, Drover and the recently orphaned aboriginal boy, Nullah (excellent newcomer Brandon Walters) have formed a loving, if not quite legitimate, family unit, but there are further troubles brooding on the endless horizon.

This is a classic old-school epic set-up with Kidman and Jackman delivering big performances and chemistry we'd expect from the big ticket 1930s Hollywood film or, in 1997, Titanic. The story and the characters are all larger than life.

Australia won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but its blend of old-fashioned film making and fantasy had me hooked.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rightious Kill

In the first movie where Al Pacino and Robert De Niro starred together, The Godfather: Part II (1974), they both played gangsters. In their second movie Heat (1995), Pacino was a cop, and DeNiro was a gangster. In this, their third movie together, they are both cops.

It's good to see the two great actors of their generation back together in Righteous Kill.

The two Oscar winners star as veteran New York City detectives - David 'Turk' Fisk (Robert De Niro) and Thomas 'Rooster' Cowan (Al Pacino) - who find themselves caught up in an explosive case involving a vigilante serial killer, with problems ensuing as it becomes progressively apparent that a fellow police officer is the most likely suspect.

The majority of the film is a series of flashbacks. "Righteous Kill" portrays Turk and Rooster via deliberate point-counter-point that can, depending on how it’s perceived, lead the viewer to consider that the real killer’s identity isn’t the same one the story is pitching.

While a fine-toothed dissection of plot development would reveal snags, seeing Robert De Niro and Al Pacino circling the thin line between cop and criminal paints a giant grin on the face.

Mom and I enjoyed this movie. We thought it had great humor and an impressive plot twist.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nights in Rodanthe

With Richard Gere and Diane Lane you already know mom and I could hardly wait for this one to come out. I am pleased to announce that it was well worth the wait.

Nights in Rodanthe is based on the book by tear-duct specialist Nicholas Sparks, who also gave us The Notebook and A Walk to Remember.

A story of two unhappy people whose lives become entwined as they develope a life changing romance. Adrienne, played by Diane Lane, is a woman who's weighing up the option of whether or not to allow her cheating husband to return home. To get her head together, she agrees to manage her best friends beach side boarding house in Rodanthe, on North Carolina's Outer Banks. Since it's the storm-heavy off-season, the boarding house only has one guest, in the form of solitary surgeon Paul (Richard Gere), who's come to Rodanthe to make amends with an embittered local whose wife died on the operating table.

Both are troubled souls, stuck alone in a hotel with little to do but sip wine and stare wistfully at the ocean. And when a storm hits the boarding house, Adrienne and Paul find themselves drawn to each other and romantic sparks start to fly.

There is nothing new here – but taking the film on face value, everything that needs to be done right is spot on.

Get the girls out to watch this but don't forget to take your tissues!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ghost Town

Here's one that almost passed us by. Not very well advertised, but with a name like Ghost Town you already know I was going to check it out.

But don't let the name fool you...This is a funny movie and well worth the price of the ticket.

Ricky Gervais plays a Manhattan dentist with an over-sensitive gag reflex who hates people.

He dies for seven minutes during a routine medical procedure and as a result, he can now see ghosts and, of course, they all want something from him. The "something" that one particular ghost, played by Greg Kinnear, wants is for him to prevent his widow (Tea Leoni) from marrying a guy he doesn't like. At first reluctant to take on the task, he is finally blackmailed into to trying to break up her relationship and soon he falls for her himself.

We went in not knowing what to expect in this one and came out pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Women

This weekends movie choice was The Women. This was one that mom and I had been looking forward to seeing since we first saw the previews.

For me, the best part of this one was getting together with my friend Amy and my mom. We ate, talked, laughed and took fun pictures of our day together.

And what would a day be like with Amy and me together without at least one of us walking away with a bathroom story? But enough about us, now on to the movie...

I hate to report that I was a little disappointed in this one, but I was.

When we first saw the previews and the great cast, I just knew it was going to be one to see; unfortunately, I was mistaken. The previews kind of reminded me of Hanging Up - with Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton, Lisa Kudrow and Walter Matthau. I really enjoyed that movie, so maybe I went into this one with unrealistic expectations.

Mary Haines (Meg Ryan) is a wealthy, naive wife whose husband is having an affair with Crystal Allen (Eva Mendes), a gold digging, perfume girl at Saks 5th Avenue.

As Mary embarks on a journey of self-discovery, she'll find help - and hindrance - in her friends, Sylvia Fowler (Annette Bening), the cutthroat editor of a women's magazine; Edie Cohen (Debra Messing), a married woman who keeps popping out kids; and Alex Fisher (Jada Pinkett Smith), the token minority/lesbian/youngster all rolled into one.

At first, Mary tries to deal with this as advised by her mother (Candice Bergen) - just ignore it. When that doesn't work, she confronts Crystal, then Steven, before filing for divorce. Eventually, when separated from her husband, she discovers two truths: she has not been a good mother and she has never figured out who she really is.

The film's second half represents her journey of self-discovery.

Packed with this all star cast, I really had high hopes for this movie. While I had a great time being in the company of two of my favorite women, the movie did nothing for me.

It was alright and had a few funny moments but for the most part, this one was a big disappointment to me. Maybe we should have gone with the guys to see Burn After Reading!?!?

Amy has also posted about this one, but keep in mind, she doesn't get out much - I'm just sayin.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tell No One

If you've looked at the movie listings recently, you probably already know that there isn't much playing right now. With the pickins being so slim, we decided to check out something a little different.

The name of the movie is Tell No One. Francois Cluzet stars in this French thriller, based on the international best seller. A story of upended love with a mystery that exerts its power till the very end.

Eight years after the heinous murder of his wife, doctor Alex Beck receives an ominous email from an unknown source. The message contains a video image of Alex's thought-to-be dead wife in real time.

Maintaining a rewarding balance of genuine emotion and high tension entertainment, Tell No One is one that - if you don't mind subtitles - you will want to see and tell everyone.