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

Australia

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.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Dark Knight

I can not tell you how many people have asked me, knowing that mom and I go to the movies each weekend, if I've seen The Dark Knight and what I thought about it. I know this is going to come as a bit of a shock, but until today she and I hadn't gone to see this one. Neither of us are a big fan of crowds; therefore, we waited - and waited, and waited. Well folks, today was the day that we finally got around to seeing it and after all of the movie that we've endured lately, I'm wondering why we waited so long...This was an excellent movie!
Batman (Christian Bale) joins forces with Lt. Gordon (Gary Oldman) and a fearless district attorney (Aaron Eckhart) to take on the Gotham underworld and a wild-card villain, the Joker (the late Heath Ledger).
Batman has been doing a good job cleaning up the streets of Gotham. In fact, he may be doing too good a job. The organized crime lords have been backed into a corner. Not only do they have Batman after them, but the new DA, Harvey Dent, who actually wants to clean things up. And of course, Jim Gordon and his crew are fighting the good fight as well. Seeing no other way to deal with the situation, they accept the assistance of a newcomer: The Joker. The trouble is, they don't know what they've unleashed....

Even if Heath Ledger hadn't died, critics and audiences alike would still be buzzing about his performance as The Joker. He was superb!!
If you are one of the few who still hasn't gone to see this one, I suggest you head to your nearest movie theater and get yourself a ticket - make sure you use the bathroom first though, because it is a long movie - you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mirrors

When I saw the previews for this one, my first thought was that I wouldn't even be able to watch it. A movie about Mirrors, a childhood fear of mine not completely abandoned, I thought this would be the one that actually managed to scare me. I almost talked my self out of going to see it; but as the date grew closer, I began to get excited and couldn't wait to go check it out.

Kiefer Sutherland plays Ben, a down and out ex-cop who's battling an alcohol problem and the stigma of killing a man while in the line of duty. While waiting to be reinstated into the police force, he takes a job as a night watchmen at the Mayflower, an old, burned down but still valuable department store. Once there, he begins noticing creepy things going on with the mirrors inside which then leads to him seeing disturbing things in all mirrors.


The potential for a good fright was right there, I could almost grasp it, but then it turned into a gore fest with a stupid ending and I was left feeling very disappointed. Maybe one day someone will a make a scary movie that actually does as it claims, but this wasn't that day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

After seeing the first Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and loving it, I was excited when I saw the previews for a sequel.

If you haven't seen the first Sisterhood movie, the sequel opens with a nice introduction of the characters and summary of events from the previous film, narrated by Carmen (America Ferrera). Carmen's been looking forward to the summer after her first year at Yale, because she will be reunited in her hometown with her three Friends of the Pants: Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), Lena (Alexis Biedel), and Bridget (Blake Lively). They jointly own this pair of really cute jeans, which somehow fits all of them even though they're hardly the same size, so everyone gets to take turns. But it turns out that all four have plans that will keep them from hanging out together, so the pants will have to travel from friend to friend once again.


The three years since we first met them have seen the girls mature and so has the story: sexual discovery, heartbreak, abandonment and forgiveness are on the menu as the girls face adulthood. Perhaps the magical, good karma-bestowing pants that act as a way from them all to stay connected via FedEx have started to fray, destined to be put away with the childish things of girlhood.


Simply, this was a sweet and satisfying time spent in the company of characters we like and understand that ultimately confirms the importance of women's friendship.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Mummy: Tomb of Dragon Emperor

There weren't a lot of choices this weekend. Our choices were between The Mummy: Tomb of Dragon Emperor and Swing Vote, I chose The Mummy; about half way through the movie, as I struggled to keep my eyes open, I was regretting my choice.

I realize that this is nothing more than a popcorn movie designed to lure summer moviegoers in the lull after Dark Knight and before the serious Oscar contenders start to roll out. But even silly pop movies have standards and this one falls short.


The film starts off in 50BC China by telling an ancient tale of forbidden love and revenge when the power-hungry Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) - along with his terracotta army - are turned to stone while seeking the secret of immortality.


Fast forward 2,000 years and we’re in 1946 Oxford, where Egyptologist Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) has retired after his adventures of the first two films with wife Evelyn (Maria Bello, replacing Rachel Weisz). But, the power-crazy maniac has been unleashed and it is up to Rick and his wife to stop him from taking over the world.


Dumb, inept and more than a little dull, this lacklustre film suggests that it’s time to put The Mummy back in its coffin - for good!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

X-Files: I Want to Believe

The X-Files: I Want to Believe was one that you would think I couldn't wait to go see. I've never watched the series so it was a take it or leave it movie for me; but mom, on the other hand, was a big fan of the show and seeing how this show is all about the paranormal - and I LOVE paranormal stuff - it seemed like one I might enjoy so off we went...

As the famous theme tune is whistled over the opening credits, listen carefully and you may hear the gentle chime of ringing tills as Mulder and Scully return for a pointless cash-in on the TV series. I Want To Believe isn’t a terrible film but it’s just not very good either.

Mulder and Scully are called back into action when a disgraced priest starts hearing voices and having visions after two FBI agents disappear.

Void of any monsters, super-natural quirkiness or even a psycho killer, the film fizzles. The only ‘mystery’ in the movie is whether or not the paedophile priest could possibly be psychic – and it’s hard to take this seriously when the priest uses his powers to deduce that the house he’s been taken to isn’t the scene of the crime at all – rather it’s the house opposite. The yellow police tape surrounding the property was probably the biggest clue.

I think it's lost its X factor.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mamma Mia!

We could not wait for this one to come out!! A Musical...with Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan?!?! Oh yeah! This one was on our "MUST SEE" list.
Donna (Meryl Streep) owns and runs a resort hotel on a remote Greek Island where she has raised her daugher, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) alone. Neither Donna nor Sophie know who Sophie's father is but Sophie has narrowed it down to three men - Bill (Stellan Skarsgard), Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry (Colin Firth) - after reading her mother's diary. And unknown to her mom, she invites all three of them to her upcoming wedding.
Donna's closest girlfriends - Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) - also show up for the upcoming nuptials. Leading into tons of singing, dancing and silliness.
I laughed, I tapped my foot, I smiled, and I found myself undeniably amused. If that's the kind of experience you're looking for, and if you dig ABBA, this crazy, mixed-up movie might just be for you.

This is entertainment, not a movie. And as entertainment goes, Mamma Mia! belts it out of the park!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth was one that mom and I just had to go check out...If for no other reason than the visual effects (it was 3-D).

I don't know if this one would be nearly as good in 2-D. These filmmakers understand why audiences have put on the 3-D glasses, and they offer up visual trick after visual trick in hopes of keeping the viewers wowed.
The plot is simple. Brendan Fraser plays Trevor Anderson, a volcanic scientist whose brother went missing during fieldwork. Trevor agrees to have his troubled young nephew Sean (Josh Hutcherson) stay with him for a week, but as soon as the kid arrives, suspicious activity is found on Trevor's computerized volcano-watch system. He and the kid pack up and head for Iceland, where they hire a tour guide named Hanna (Anita Briem) to lead them to the base of a volcano. There, Trevor finds what he always suspected: that there are volcanic tubes plunging straight into the Earth's core.
The trio falls down one of these tunnels and discovers a little "world within the world." There are mountains and an ocean, and other more dangerous things like dinosaurs, carnivorous plants, and man-eating fish. Together, they must navigate all these dangers and find a way to safely return to the surface.


Knowing that two-thirds of American cinemas will show this movie in standard 2-D, which is kind of sad considering that the whole thing exists as a demonstration of how digital 3-D takes a movie thrill ride to the next level. I say in 3-D - yes, absolutely, it's worth your time and money. In 2-D - probably not-so-much; that is unless you just like looking at Brendan Fraser and, in that case, it's still only a maybe.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Handcock

Mom and I thought that Handcock looked like it would be a pretty funny movie so this weekend we decided to go check it out.

There are heroes… there are superheroes… and then there’s Hancock. With great power comes great responsibility – everyone knows that – everyone, that is, but Hancock.


Perhaps the oddest take on superheroes that film has offered yet, Will Smith does an excellent job of playing the disinterested superhero with an existential crisis.


Hancock (Will Smith) is a drunken crime fighter with publicity issues stemming from his tendency to constantly cause collateral damage. But, after saving the life of compassionate public relations expert, Ray Embry (Jason Bateman), Ray is grateful enough to offer his services. Ray thinks he can get the public on Hancock’s side if he agrees to a serious attitude adjustment. Ray’s wife Mary (Charlize Theron) is not happy about the arrangement, fearful that Hancock will disappoint her husband. As it turns out, her reluctance to be around Hancock has more to do with a secret she’s been keeping from her family.


That secret kicks the story into hyper-drive. It changes the entire mindset of both Hancock and the audience, a course change that provides a layer of complexity that the first half of the movie never even hinted was around the bend.


In short, I am more than happy to recommend Hancock as a fun movie to see; however, I would like to stress....that this movie is rated PG-13 for a reason. It has a LOT of foul language and is not one for children under 13!!