Saturday, November 29, 2008


“MILK” (Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, James Franco & Emile Hirsch)
A little bit of a disappointment, but a good film nonetheless. Sean is being called the odds-on favorite to win Best Actor, and I think he’s the best actor in the world today, so I hope he does, but to be honest, I thought he was better in “The Assassination of Richard Nixon”, “I Am Sam” & “Dead Man Walking”.
Obviously homophobes are going to stay away from this movie, but for those of you that might feel uneasy over seeing ‘gay’ sex – it isn’t as graphic as I feared it might be – there’s plenty of male to male make out scenes but no creepy nude scenes (except one that takes place in a darkened room) & no ‘ride ‘em, cowboy’ Brokeback Mountain tent scenes. Even though I was slightly uncomfortable with the passionate kissing scenes but not to the point where it made me dislike the film.
But I can’t really say that I liked it all that much – & here’s why – the archived footage of the actual events that were used distracted from the characterizations; it gave the film somewhat of a documentary feel. It’s more of a period piece on the 70’s Gay Rights movement than it is the story of Harvey Milk - & yes, I realize that’s what Harvey was all about, but if that’s the case – why call the film ‘Milk’? Call it ‘The Recruits’ instead (Since every one of Harvey’s speeches began with the line, “I’m Harvey Milk & I want to recruit you.”)
I guess I wanted the plot to center more on Harvey & Josh Brolin’s character, Dan White. To explore their relationship more & what lead to the tragic events that end the film.
I know that if I were gay & felt strongly about ‘the cause’, I would have enjoyed the film more, but it got to the point of being the same scene shown over & over again; Harvey runs for political office/gay make-out scene/Harvey loses election/gay make-out scene/Harvey runs for political office/gay make-out scene/Harvey loses election...
And Harvey is also shown to be flawed – a scene where he angrily voices his disappointment over an initiative for human rights not containing the word ‘gay’ makes him look like a hypocrite. His choice of boyfriend, a pretty boy latino with the I.Q. of a feather duster, makes him appear to be superficial; ‘as long as the sex is good, I don’t care if my lover is an embarrassingly needy bimbo’.
Among the supporting cast, Emile Hirsch impressed me the most – overlooked for a Best Actor nod in last year’s “Into The Wild”, the kid bounces back here from what I’m sure was a career low point in playing ‘Speed Racer’. He plays Cleve Jones, a runaway teenager (from Phoenix) that Harvey ‘recruits’ to join his cause. When Harvey finally wins an election, Cleve is given the job of leading the gay marches on City Hall since Harvey is no longer allowed to do so (Since he works there!)
Josh Brolin’s name has been mentioned as possible Supporting Actor fodder, but I don’t see it at all. He has one drunken scene where his character has to change from his normally dour demeanor, but other than that, it’s a one-note role & not very challenging at that. All I remember thinking about his performance in ‘Milk’ was that he sure didn’t look like George W. Bush in this one...
Praise is being heaped upon James Franco (As Harvey’s earlier boyfriend, Scott) & once again, I thought his portrayal was low-key & ‘one note’; Scott’s main duties seemed to be French kissing Harvey & smiling a lot.
The most disturbing scene for me comes at the end – just on the off chance you DON’T know how the story ends, I won’t go into details, but the finale is particularly gruesome because of how realistic it looks. I’m afraid that image is going to stick with me for a long time since its sending shudders down my spine just writing about it.
So ‘Milk’ is a good film, but not great. Sean Penn gives an impressive performance that is worth viewing; he’s 'full blown' gay, but he’s not flamboyant about it. Penn's Harvey is a sweetheart; someone every non-biased person would love to have as a friend. I guess he learned from “I Am Sam” & decided NOT to go FULL homesexual.
Harvey is a very nice, lovable man; unsure of himself at times, but staying focused on the task at hand. Harvey loves men, but he loves his status as the first openly gay man to be elected to public office more.
After spending forty years doing ‘nothing’ with his life, Harvey moves to San Francisco & makes Gay Rights his passion – His entire campaign stems on telling homosexuals to ‘come out of the closet’ so that everyone can see that they know someone who is gay & they’re just like ‘normal’ people; something I learned many years ago.
So I fully expected to like ‘Milk’ but the movie was just too preachy & kind of boring in spots. It does, however pack a huge wallop of an ending – even when you know what’s coming, it doesn’t stop it from being powerful & heartbreaking...

Friday, November 28, 2008


“AUSTRALIA” (Nicole Kidman & Hugh Jackman)
When I saw the preview to this it had ‘epic’ written all over it - & Hollywood loves epics, so I predicted it would win Best Picture of 2008 just off the trailer... For the first twenty minutes I thought, “How misleading – this is a pile of junk!”
I hated it from the beginning – having a small boy that was difficult to understand doing the narration had me shaking my head in bewilderment. When the kid started singing like Celine Dion, I was ready to leave the theatre & ask for my money back! And then, it turns...
The previews were not misleading – this is an epic among epics – “Australia” catapults Hugh Jackman from known movie actor to World famous film star – That’s the only way I can describe his performance – He owns the screen in this film – he’s handsome, he can act & he displays moments of ultimate tough guy & sentimental softie & not once looking out of character while doing so – He simply exudes ‘movie star’.
Nicole Kidman gives one of her finer performances as well, though she is part of the problem with the beginning by playing her hoity toity rich b*tch ‘Lady Ashley’ with a typical snooty stiffness that made her look ‘cookie cutter’ – as though she were merely imitating other actresses playing similar roles from the past. But she too takes a dramatic turn for the better as the film wears on.
“Australia” is an extraordinary film in that it actually made me notice the cinematography; I’m normally a ‘good story/good acting & I’m happy' kind of guy – I
don’t generally care what it looks like, as long as it isn’t distracting from the story &/or acting. The scene that first made me go ‘wow’ involves a cattle stampede; once you’ve seen the film you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to. Even though I knew what was going to happen, the entire sequence made my jaw drop – it was ‘spectacular’. And from that moment on, this film had me hooked – I could even forgive the little boy’s poor acting & horrible narrating – I wanted these people to succeed (& survive) though I knew that one or more of them would not. Rule #2; develop characters that are worth caring about – “Australia” does that brilliantly because they take the somewhat unlikable lead characters & turn them into real, yet unique human beings. Are you getting the feeling that I think this is the Best Picture of 2008?
Using a basic Good vs. Evil plot, the story revolves around Kidman’s Sarah Ashley, who flies to Darwin. Australia in 1939 to join her estranged husband on their cattle ranch. She arrives on the same day her husband’s murdered body is discovered; a ‘mystical’ aborigine known as King George is blamed for the killing. King George (David Gupilil) spends a great deal of his time chanting to the night sky. He also seems to have a connection with Nullah, the young half white/half black boy (Called a ‘creamy’ by the racist townfolk; portrayed by unknown child actor, Brandon Walters)
Lady Ashley is advised to sell the ranch to local cattle baron King Carney (Bryan Brown) but she reneges on the deal when she discovers the man in charge of running her ranch, Neil Fletcher (David Wenham) has been secretly working for Carney & stealing her cattle. She hires ‘Drover’ (Hugh Jackman) to round up her cattle & help to deliver the herd to market. This venture is what leads to the stampede & ultimately brings Lady Ashley & the ‘Drover’ into each other’s arms. Though the heart of the movie is as much the connection between Sarah & Nullah as it is between the two adults.
The film then amps up the drama by employing an air attack by the Japanese; if I were to chastise this movie at all it would be that they should have explained the reason for this attack other than to give the special effects people lots of things to blow up. Still, the aftermath produces some fairly impressive scenes of mass destruction & several ‘lump in the throat’ moments as the 3 lead characters struggle to survive & find one another to hopefully bring about that elusive ‘happy ending’. Obviously I won’t tell you what happens here, but I will say ‘Australia’ delivers in every way shape & form that you want an ‘epic’ to entertain you. After a rocky beginning, I fell in love with this movie & seriously doubt I will see a better one for quite a while.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


“BOLT” (Voice of John Travolta)
To save you a couple of bucks, there isn’t any reason to see this cartoon in 3D;
as there are no special 3D effects with that ‘wow’ moment.
I would recommend it highly for young children as ‘Bolt’, the animated dog is absolutely adorable, despite being voiced by John Travolta. There aren’t any
‘adult humor’ lines as in most modern-day cartoons – It is very much like an animated ‘Underdog’.
I wanted to see this when I heard about the premise; a TV superhero dog believes
that he actually has supercanine powers (Well, they aren’t superhuman powers now,
are they?)
He gets separated from his owner/Co-star & finds himself out in the real world thinking he can stop evil doers with his ‘power bark’. Fortunately the lead v/o
work of Travolta & Miley Cyrus (voicing Bolt’s co-star, Penny) doesn’t detract from the story, which uses tried & true standard Disney fare – it is cut from the same mold as ‘The Incredible Journey’ except instead of a second dog, there’s a delusional hamster that believes Bolt is a real superhero dog.
To bolster ratings of the TV series, a 2-part ‘Bolt’ episode is devised; the cliffhanger involving Penny being kidnapped by the evil ‘Man with the Green Eye’. Bolt has lived is entire life on the set & the producers have gone to great lengths to make the pup believe that all of his adventures are real by hiding cameras & microphones. They do this to make Bolt stand out as the single greatest canine method-actor in the business – If the dog believes he has superpowers, so will the audience. Penny begs the director to let Bolt see that she wasn’t really kidnapped, but they claim that will give away the secret of the TV show. So Bolt escapes from his trailer & ventures out to rescue Penny...
Styrofoam is blamed for Bolt’s weakened powers (After he lands in a box full of ‘peanuts’ & gets transported from Hollywood to New York)
The Man with the Green Eye has a black cat so when Bolt encounters a lookalike black cat, he captures the feline & forces her to take him to Penny. The cat, Mittens (nicely voiced by Susie Essman) initially thinks she’s in the clutches of a psychotic nut-hound, but after meeting a TV addicted hamster named Rhino (Mark Walton) she comes to realize that Bolt is a duped 'TV actor'. The transformation from arch enemies to best friends between Bolt & Mittens gives this animated tale its heart.
For comedy, it doesn’t offer too many guffaw inducing lines, but it has numerous whimsical moments; a trio of dimwitted pigeons provide some of the funniest scenes, but they ARE over-used & by the end you kind of wished they’d brought in some different characters to deliver their lines. (I guess since they were aiming at a younger audience they figured they should keep it simple)
If you’re a dog lover you’ll probably enjoy this film, but if you have kids 10 or under, take them to see it.
Normally my wife will say, “Wasn’t that cute?” at the end of a cute little movie like this, but for ‘Bolt’ I beat her to the punch by saying, “Wasn’t that adorable?” And that is the best adjective to describe ‘Bolt’ & his journey across America to rescue his ‘person’ & continue the quest even after he discovers the truth about his life & that Penny is just an actor pretending to love him. It is a nice lesson in friendships & (puppy) love for kids of all ages.

Friday, November 21, 2008


“The EXPRESS” (Rob Brown & Dennis Quaid)

Other than knowing he was the first black man to win the Heisman trophy, I didn’t know very much about Ernie Davis; & even though I enjoyed this movie quite a bit, it did seem to harken back to familiar territory covered recently (by “Glory Road”) & long ago (“Brian’s Song”) I feel it is important to see films such as this to remind us of what despicable people the parents of the baby boomer generation really were. It is difficult for me, personally, to view because I’m embarrassed to admit that this is how I was brought up - & yet proud of myself for ‘growing up’ & discovering my parents were wrong, & that anyone who judges another human being by his ethnicity is a moron. Every time I hear Aerosmith’s “Living On The Edge”, I want to write Steven Tyler & tell him to re-record that song & change the line, “If you can judge a wise man by the color of his skin, then mister you’re a better man than I.” to “Mister, you’re a lesser man than I” because the ‘better’ man doesn’t judge people by their skin color.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, movies!
I liked how they made the focus on Ernie’s relationship with his coach, Ben Schwartzwalder(Dennis Quaid) As Jim Brown (Darrin D. Henson) tells Ernie (Rob Brown) ‘Ben is a great coach, he will make you a better football player’ but don’t expect him to treat you as if you were a member of his ‘team’. Ernie takes this information to Syracuse & teaches his coach a thing or two about people while Schwartzwalder utilizes Ernie’s natural talents on the football field toward an undefeated season & a match up with racist Texas in Dallas in the Cotton Bowl to decide #1.
Rob Brown does an impressive job conveying Ernie’s emotions; a childhood stutter causes adult Ernie to learn to speak distinctly - & this is where Ernie separates himself from idol Jim Brown – Jim just went thru the motions & did what he had to do to get a lucrative job in the NFL – Ernie challenged the rules that said a black man can’t do this or do that & forced his coaches & team mates to see that hiding behind the cloak of ‘Hey, at least we give them a chance by putting them on the team1’ doesn’t make them any less prejudice than the idiots in West Virginia or Texas that spew their racial insults openly.
Charles Dutton plays ‘Pops’, Ernie’s Grandfather; it is a subtle, yet moving portrayal as Dutton shows his emotions without saying a word in most of his scenes.
Although the film centers on Ernie’s college years in the late 50’s & early 60’s, the story covers his entire life. It is an emotional tale & I’ll admit it brought water to my crusty old eyes. Yes, it has a familiar theme, but the Ernie Davis story is one that you won’t forget once you’ve seen it - & please do see it when you get a chance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

ZACK & MIRI . . .

“ZACK & MIRI MAKE A PORNO” (Seth Rogen & Elizabeth Banks)
For those of you who want to see this just to see how far they push the envelope?
Save your cash, they don’t even lick the damn thing! If you’re a Seth Rogen fan & you thought ‘Pineapple Express’ was a great flick, you’ll love this because it’s just as unfunny as that piece of junk was. This, like ‘Express’ comes across as a film without an actual script – just ideas - & then the actors were told to improvise their dialogue...
Either that, or Seth Rogen is actually getting worse as an actor as his popularity rises for some weird reason. Fortunately, Rogen (as Zack) doesn’t get naked in his porno; unfortunately, neither does Elizabeth Banks (Miri) If she had, then there would be at least ONE reason to pay money to see this film. But she doesn’t, so don’t.
I was so tired of Rogen being matched up with great looking women, I decided not to see him hook up with another cute actress – then I learned that they play room mates that aren’t a couple, so I decided to see what the deal was with the ‘Almost’ NC-17 rating.
I believe writer/director Kevin Smith used an actual penetration scene (With actual porn star Katie Morgan who provides the female nudity) just to get the NC-17 & then cut it out so he could promote the film as being cutting edge. This comedy porno is neither funny nor dirty; it is quite bland to tell the truth - & to reveal a SPOILER ALERT piece of information – Zack & Miri DO end up having sex with each other... with all of their clothes on & mostly showing close ups of their faces! (& if there’s anything less sexy than a close-up of Seth Rogen, I have yet to see it!)
The plot doesn’t really fit, since Zack & Miri both have jobs & yet somehow can’t pay their bills(???) So the whole ‘we’re so broke we have to resort to making a porno’ premise is unreasonable. The reason Zack MUST have a job is so they can use the in store video equipment to film their PG-13 rated porno... A PG-13 porno starring Seth Rogen...
As my dog said to me when he walked into the bathroom for a drink of water & found me sitting on the bowl – “Who wants to see that?”

Saturday, November 15, 2008


“ROLE MODELS” (Paul Rudd, Seann William Scott & Elizabeth Banks)
Here’s the premise, tell me if this ‘sounds’ like something you’d want to see;
Danny (Rudd) is bored with his life & especially His job – He drives from school to school selling an energy drink under the guise of an ‘Anti-Drug’ program. His partner, Wheeler (Scott) dresses up in a Minotaur costume & shouts out encouraging phrases as Danny does his sales pitch, er, I mean, anti-drug abuse speech.
On his birthday, his co-workers throw him a party, inviting his longtime girlfriend Beth (Banks) to attend as well. A karaoke machine is available & Beth winds up singing by herself because ‘Downbeat Danny’ would rather sit & mope about his boring life than have a good time witrh her.
The next day Danny gets wired on the energy drink & explodes at the kids by using filthy language – he then discovers the company Minotaur 4WD is about to be towed so he jumps into the truck & crashes it into the statue of a horse outside the school.
Danny continues to dwell in his misery & decides the way out is to ask Beth to marry him & he tells her just that – Let’s get married because I’m bored with my life & need a change. Beth breaks up with him. Now, even more depressed than ever, Danny broods constantly.
Danny & Wheeler are given the choice to either do 3 months in jail or log in a ton of community service hours being the ‘big’ brothers to needy children. The boys they are connected with are a foul-mouthed black kid & a geeky nerd that wears a cape & pretends he’s living in medieval times. Oh, & I’ll throw this little plot twist in as well, Wheeler bonds with Ronnie, the black kid, by playing old Kiss songs for him & pointing out that Paul Stanley’s ‘Love Gun’ is actually referring to his... member.
Like it so far? Sounds like a total piece of garbage, doesn’t it? Here’s the surprise – I liked this movie. Don’t ask me how, but they make it work.
Jane Lynch (The store manager in ’40 Year Old Virgin’) has many humorous scenes as the leader of the local ‘Big Brothers’ organization; constantly referring to her days as a cocaine addict & the disgusting things she used to do to get high.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Why didn’t someone tell this kid to change his name?) is Augie, the kid that thinks he’s a ‘knight in days of yore’ & Bobbe J. Thompson is Ronnie. In the beginning, Danny makes it obvious to Augie that he’s just ‘pretending’ to be his friend until he logs in enough hours to fulfill his community service – so there’s no hope for any future bonding moments with them; Wheeler & Ronnie are a different story, Ronnie actually comes to admire Wheeler because he teaches him how to ogle women’s breasts without being detected. Wheeler is an actual horndog & takes Ronnie along to an adult party, leaving the boy to play video games while he scores with one of the horny chicks in attendance. A mistake is made when Ronnie gets upset that Wheeler would abandon him – they made it plain that the kid admired Wheeler for his sexual promiscuity – So why would he get upset because the jerk left him while he... fulfilled his wanton urges?
Kerri Kenney-Silver plays Augie’s mother, Mrs. Farks & I knew I’d seen her somewhere before, but couldn’t place her – At first I thought it was Beth Littleford from the Daily Show, but soon discovered that was incorrect. Come to find out she plays the dumb female cop on 'Reno 911', except in ‘Role Models’ she’s blonde & isn’t bad looking at all.
Anyway, it’s Rudd & his character that have to redeem themselves & save this film from being another movie about a jerk that doesn’t deserve all the good things (& beautiful women) that fall his way (See ‘My Best Friend’s Girl, below) & he pulls it off. From the moment he has dinner with Augie’s parents until the Kiss tribute finale at the Medieval Times’ battle of the century, Danny becomes likable & sincerely repentant of his past behavior. & yes, it sounds like the plot to a film for teenagers, but it isn’t – It’s rated R for a reason – Jane Lynch’s line about how she’ll be able to get the judge to not throw them in jail after they missed a court appearance made me laugh loudly, but the best line belongs to Mints-Plasse (‘McLovin’ from “Superbad”) as he rambles & rants about his life while attempting to give his Kiss ‘army’ a pre-battle pep talk. I’ll just say that if you don’t know who Marvin Hamlisch is or what he looks like – look him up before you see this film, otherwise the best line will go over your head.
It drags a little just prior to the finale, but this is a surprisingly funny movie that I recommend highly if your just looking for some nice friendly R-Rated comedy – with a sentimental man/boy bonding tale thrown in for all you pedophiles out there to enjoy...
“MY BEST FRIEND’S GIRL” (Dane Cook, Kate Hudson & Jason Biggs)
Seen for $3 at East Valley, this one was ‘almost’ worth the reduced price of admission.
It has a few good laughs, but as far as character’s & storylines go – it’s a complete failure. First, it tries so hard to be like Wedding Crashers, it’s embarrassing at times, yet because it rips off a very funny movie some of the best lines/scenes are from the sister’s wedding segment.
Premise; Dane Cook plays Tank, a total scumbag whose regular job is being a telemarketer (Don’t you hate him already?) his hobby/sideline job is going out on dates with women who have recently broken up with their boyfriends & being such an a—hole that they come to appreciate what they had & go back to the lamoid they dumped. The lamoids in question pay Tank to provide this service.
Tank’s best friend Dustin (Jason Biggs) is in love with co-worker Alexis (Kate Hidson) but can’t seem to make it past the ‘buddy’ stage; when he finally blurts out ‘I love you’ during a casual dinner with Alexis, she ‘suggests’ they take a break from their friendship. Desperate, Dustin implores Tank to ‘work his magic’ on Alexis. Tank reluctantly agrees.
He ‘arranges’ a chance encounter with Alexis, gets her phone number & takes her out.
For some unknown reason Alexis decides to get roaring drunk prior to being picked up for her date with Tank. So when he plays obnoxious, women degrading rap songs & takes her to a strip club & forces her to watch him receive a topless table dance, she thinks he’s a fun guy... Until she invites him to have sex with her & he turns her down (because she’s Dustin’s girl) So Alexis is upset because Tank DIDN’T use & degrade her in bed the same way he did on their date... HUH?
Alexis gives Tank a second chance & they end up in bed together & become... bed partners – they rarely go out on dates, they just get together &... copulate.
Dustin catches them together, quits his job & disappears (& Alexis can’t put 2 + 2 together to figure out what’s been going on)
When Alec Baldwin appears as Tank’s father, Professor Turner, I thought there would be a redemption period, but no, Prof. Turner is even more shallow & degrading toward women than Tank could ever dream of being. Plus, this time Alec’s character just isn’t given any zingers to spout.
The movie then goes into ‘Wedding Crashers’ mode when Alexis’ sister Rachel gets married (Rachel Getting Married? I should have known this wasn’t going to work!)
& Tank goes to extremes to get EVERYONE at the wedding to despise him. Although these scenes made me laugh out loud, they were still ‘stolen’ from Wedding Crashers –
Tank talks dirty to a table full of children; Tank comes on to Alexis’ mother in a very crude manner; Tank gets drunk & drops Grandma during a dance & Tank eats the top layer of the wedding cake before its presented... You get the idea – overkill.
The word a—hole is used repeatedly to describe Tank – He proved it on their first date - & still, Alexis wants to be with this jerk? So why do we care if these shallow & stupid people end up ‘happily ever after’ or not? Answer – We Don’t. & that’s what makes this film POINTLESS. Characters that are void of having any ‘character’ outweighs the fact that there are some laughs sprinkled throughout the script. So, sorry, Cars fans – let’s hope the next song title of theirs that is made into a movie fares a whole lot better than this one... Hmm, “Shake It Up” doesn’t sound very promising; “Tonight She Comes” could be a porno; so I guess that leaves “Good Times Roll”... No wait, wasn’t that the title of Sonny & Cher’s failed attempt to become movie stars? All right, “Since You’re Gone” it is; the story of a guy that gets fed up with his job & runs the company truck into a horse statue to keep it from being towed & then has his longtime girlfriend break up with him right after he proposes to her... Uh-oh, I think I might be stealing this idea, I’ve heard that plot before somewhere...


“The HOUSE BUNNY” (Anna Faris)
About 3/4ers of the way thru this fiasco, it suddenly dawned on me – Hugh Hefner doesn’t have a lick of talent & yet, there he is surrounded by plastic coated bimbos young enough to be his great granddaughters & living in a mansion... How’d he do that?
A better question would be – why do filmmakers insist on having the real ‘Hef’ play himself in movies when the guy couldn’t get a bit part in an elementary school play?
Anyway, this is Anna Faris’s film & she’s hit & miss in the title role (Mostly ‘miss’)
Anna is Shelley, an aging ‘bunny’ that is hoping to finally be selected as ‘Playmate of the month’, but instead receives a note from Hef on the morning after her 27th birthday telling her to get out of the mansion.
Shelley stumbles into a sorority & meets the other house mothers; she is ridiculed by the head mother (Beverly D’Angelo) but still comes out of the conversation thinking she’s house mother material & applies at the loser Zeta Alpha Zeta house.
Emma Stone & Kat Dennings play the 2 lead geeks that can’t get anyone to pledge to their sorority (& thus they are about to be shut down)
Shelley teaches them how to be bimbos – the homeliest girls on campus transfer into gorgeous babes overnight & become the hottest sorority around receiving more than enough pledges to keep their charter alive. The ‘snooty’ leader of the smart, pretty girls sorority plots to steal their pledges & that pretty much takes you to the inevitable conclusion. Throw in the exciting Colin Hanks as Shelley’s love interest & you’ve got the makings of a really bad film. I like Anna, she’s cute & can be funny, but if there’s a House Bunny 2, I think we all can agree that whatever you consider to be your Higher Power hates the United States of America...

Sunday, November 9, 2008


“RACHEL GETTING MARRIED” (Anne Hathaway & Rosemarie DeWitt)
At one point during ‘Rachel Getting Married’ Anne Hathaway’s Kym sits in a NA meeting & whines about her pathetic life following a family tragedy that leads to her drug addiction - being, as we have witnessed many times prior to this scene, totally self-absorbed. Behind her sits a 30-ish male; head tilted to the side & slightly back, eyes shut and mouth agape; obviously sound asleep . . . Oh, how I envied that man!
Why, oh why couldn’t I have fallen asleep during this wretched film?
This movie is awful – very reminiscent of last year’s flop, ‘Margot At The Wedding’ and every bit as tedious & boring – maybe more-so if that’s at all possible.
I hated this film right from the opening scenes due to the amateurish camera work – Most of the movie is purposely meant to look as though it was being filmed by a family member (One that might possibly have Parkinson’s disease)
So it is like watching a home made video filled with unlikable, non-witty, whiney, self-centered babies. If that’s your idea of a fun evening – & remember these are the home movies of people you’ve never met – you’ll enjoy ‘Rachel Getting Married’. And IF you’re that easily entertained, then I’d like to invite you to my house so I can show you the video of my wedding ceremony & reception – Believe me, it has just as much entertainment value as ‘Rachel Getting Married’ & I won’t charge you $8 to get in!
‘Rachel’ is right up there (or should I say ‘down’ there?) with some of the worst movies of 2008; Is it as bad as ‘Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2’? Well, it didn’t have any lines nearly as funny as ‘the pants would have wanted it that way’ - Or those inane flicks ‘What Happens In Vegas’, ‘Fool’s Gold’ & ‘Over Her Dead Body’? Well, no it isn’t THAT bad – but for a movie that’s supposedly ‘Oscar’ material, it gets the award for biggest disappointment.
The plot is simple; Anne Hathaway’s Kym is released from rehab so she may attend her sister Rachel’s wedding. Nothing matters more to Kym that what affects Kym – how dare her sister NOT chose her drug addicted sister to be her Maid of Honor – Why are we talking about Rachel all the time when fabulous Kym is in the room? My constant smoking bothers you? Well, tough titties, I’m KYM, dammit – I can do whatever I want, I’m in rehab you know? By the time we learn about the horrible accident that sent Kym into a ‘suicidal downward spiral’ (She was previously just on an ‘average’ downward spiral) we DON’T CARE because Kym is an annoying little bitch who isn’t happy unless every eye in the room is focused on her & she is in the middle of making everyone uncomfortable by bringing them down to her level of depression... Her own family doesn’t want her around, so why should we want to view this abhorrent behavior for 2 hours?
But Kym ISN’T the worst part of this movie! Get a load of this intriguing plot twist –
For a good 10 minute chunk of wasted celluloid, director Jonathan Demme thought it would be a great idea to show two men loading a dishwasher with dirty dishes. Once again, I swear on a stack of Penthouse Forums, I AM NOT MAKING THAT UP.
Then we have to sit thru the ENTIRE WEDDING CEREMONY... from the cheesy band playing a Jimi Hendrix-style ‘Here Comes The Bride’ (I think the band members names were officially listed as’ the 2 kids that live next door’) to watching every bridesmaid traipse down the aisle while the female guests all ‘sing’ “Rachel” & the males sing “Sidney”(the groom) but, believe it or not, it actually gets worse than that – We are hopeful when the ‘nuptials’ are brief & to the point but then – Golly, I almost hate to spoil the surprise in case you STILL want to go & sit thru this disaster, but I’ll sleep better knowing that I gave you fair warning... Sidney(The whitest dark-skinned black man on the planet) sings Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend” a cappella (What, he didn’t know the words to “Helpless”?)
During this exasperating sequence I whispered to my wife, “From now on NO MORE movies with ‘MARRIED’ or ‘WEDDING’ in the title – Never Again!”
I appreciated the mixing of the races, but Demme just went overboard with it – Dad’s
2nd wife is black as well; Asians, Gays, Brits & Nerds all commingle together like one big international stew while The 2 kids that live next door jam with African drummers, Indian belly dancers & Jamaican Reggae singers.
Rosemarie DeWitt does an okay job as bride-to-be Rachel & I really liked Bill Irwin as the wishy-washy ‘why can’t we all just get along?’ Dad, but Debra Winger, whom I have never cared for, hasn’t improved with age – her cameo as Kym & Rachel’s mother is just short of embarrassing – she has one big flare up scene & then sleep-walks thru the rest of the film... & some have suggested this as a Best Supporting Actress nomination? You’ve got to be kidding me!
Saving Anne Hathaway for last – she’ll probably get nominated for this – Hollywood loves drunks & drug addicts - & she’s very good in the role; Kym is most definitely unlikable... but so is this movie. There is NO payoff at the end – the film finishes as blandly as it began. There WAS an interesting story to be told here, but Jonathan Demme chose not to tell it. Blow out all the wedding crap & focus instead on Kym’s ‘accident’ & how she might recover from it & you’ve got a potentially decent movie on your hands. Due to lack of competition this year, I’d have to place Anne in the Top 5 right now for Best Actress, but Angelina Jolie is so much better in ‘Changeling’ it shouldn’t even be a close vote.
I will end with the one good line I heard – Kym is offered a job by a woman who works at a Public Relations firm. Her response is, “I don’t think so... the public is afraid of me.”
Speaking on behalf of the public at large, allow me to add – The public doesn’t like you, either.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


“W” (Josh Brolin)
It’s as if Oliver Stone thought Michael Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ was too tough on GWB, so he decided to make amends by producing this fluff piece.
This film is, as the one recurring scene shows us, a ‘softball’; an easy out pop fly.
Oliver Stone’s ‘W’ is presented as a sympathetic, unappreciated son – The Tom Smothers of politics; Mom and Dad always loved Jeb more & made no bones about letting ‘Jr.’ know where he stood in the family hierarchy. Being brought up in a similar household where one child was blatantly favored over another, I should have been able to identify with GWB – but knowing what he became kept me from bonding with the ‘character’.
The film bounces back & forth from pre-9/11 to post-9/11 without ever touching on that fateful day. No explanation is given as to why W sat in that classroom for so long after being informed that our nation was ‘under attack’ by terrorists... & with that being the case, one has to wonder why Mr. Stone even bothered to make this film?
W’s years of abusing alcohol are skimmed over as a whimsical college phase. For every scene where he is exposed as an inept, unintelligent, uninformed politician, there’s an immediate counter scene showing W in complete control and as someone who learns from his mistakes... Gee, Oliver, how painful was the operation that resulted in having your spine removed?
Josh Brolin gives yeoman’s service in the starring role; not Oscar caliber, but a capable impersonation. It would have been easier to play the man as a complete buffoon so Josh is to be applauded for making W appear to be both competent & inadequate during his climb up the political ladder.
For the supporting cast, no one stands out all that much – I heard a lot of criticism of Thandie Newton’s Condoleeza Rice – Why, because she was annoying? Well, the woman IS annoying, so I had no problem with her being portrayed as such. In fact, the rest of the cast SHOULD have been MORE annoying than they were. Richard Dreyfuss’s Dick Cheney needed to be more bitter & spiteful – instead he challenges Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright) as the ‘most intelligent man in the room’ & we all know that the only competent member of that staff was General Powell. My problem with Wright’s portrayal is that he didn’t give the man much of a backbone – Thus, we are to forgive W for waging war against Iraq, despite the fact that there was no logical reason other than attempted world domination, to do so. As chief military advisor, Powell SHOULD have been more adamant against the invasion - Instead it plays out as Oliver Stone offering up another excuse for W’s actions.
Toby Jones plays Bush ass kisser Karl Rove, Bruce McGill has had better roles than George Tenet & Scott Glenn gives no personality at all to Donald Rumsfeld.
My favorite name in acting, Ioan Gruffudd has one scene as Tony Blair & all he does is stand & look befuddled as W tells him, ‘we’re going to war whether there’s a reason to or not...’
James ‘Stretch Cunningham’ Cromwell plays Daddy Bush as a rotten father (to ‘W’ only) but a grand politician... Yet another misrepresentation, Oliver? The only time he displays ‘actual’ George H.W. Bush characterizations is when he breaks down & starts weeping after losing to Clinton. I won’t mention Ellen Burstyn’s lame take on ‘Barb’ other than she could have at least put on 20 or 30 pounds because simply donning a white wig wasn’t sufficient. And I used to think the lady was one of our better actresses.
Elizabeth Banks is beautiful, intelligent & sympathetic as Laura Bush, & to be quite honest with you I have no idea if this is a proper caricature (Other than Laura isn’t nearly as pretty as Ms. Banks) I found it interesting that every time Laura would tell W “Your father’s on the phone,” she would leave the room, only to return just as the conversation ends to ask, “So what did he have to say?”
I was skeptical about the authenticity of one particular scene; Cheney, Bush & several members of his cabinet are seen walking through a field out in the open – there isn’t a single Secret Service man in sight - then they get lost as they wander around discussing strategy. I always thought that the president & vice president were never to be seen together out in the open where they both could be taken down by an assassin – but there they ALL are, walking down a path (near a grassy knoll, no less) with no protection in sight. I’m asking my expert, Alan Smithee to please confirm or enlighten me as to whether or not this scene could have taken place. Then again, since this administration never ‘played by the rules’ perhaps it did take place & W. & his cronies ‘dared’ someone to take a shot at them - & let’s be honest, even though he was huffing & puffing & bringing up the rear, we all know Cheney was packing heat. So perhaps it COULD have taken place, but is there a rule that states the P & VP should not be seen together outside of the White House?
The final scene hints that George Walker Bush is merely a ‘deer caught in the glow of headlights’ and simply can’t see any way out of his predicament – that seems to be the only indictment that Stone throws at the man.
Please forgive me for adding MY personal opinion into what is supposed to be an ‘informative’ review but I found this film to be as unenlightening as it was ‘soft’, so I felt someone had to throw a few hardballs at the over-inflated ‘W.’

Saturday, November 1, 2008


“CHANGELING” (Angelina Jolie)
I didn’t list the co-stars because this is pretty much a one woman show & the only stand-out among the supporting roles is by an unknown. I’ve never thought much of Clint Eastwood as an actor(All those one-note spaghetti westerns & Dirty Harry roles didn’t show me a lot of range) but as a director he gets the best out of his cast members – In this case, Angelina Jolie. She’s a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination &, as of this moment, the obvious favorite to win. I think she’s a very strange human being, but the lady shows that she has developed into an excellent actress; her performance here is as impressive as they come. The fact that the story is fascinating (based on true life events) & her character goes thru a wide range of emotions while underneath it all being a withdrawn, very private person helps her cause to capture her 2nd Oscar.
Jolie plays Christine Collins, a single mother raising her 9 year old son, Walter in late 1920’s LA. Christine works as a telephone operator supervisor & though she makes enough money to live in a rather large home, she doesn’t seem to have enough to afford a babysitter. To her defense, she is called into work on a Saturday on the day Walter is abducted & turns up missing. How did the boy get taken from his home without screaming or putting up a fight? How come none of the neighbors witnessed this or see any strangers lurking about? Well, those questions are not only left answered, they aren’t even touched upon. (I’m getting my few beefs out of the way because I actually LOVED this film – It is my new #1 of 2008)
Proving that even wonderful movies have flaws, I also wasn’t impressed with John Malkovich’s portrayal of a local priest who ‘goes after’ corrupt cops. (A ‘holy man’ in the 1920’s using the phrase “Where in the Hell is Christine Collins?” – didn’t really ring true to me) My last complaint has to do with the abduction, but I’m not going to mention it in this review as it would reveal too much – All I’ll say is the way the director (Eastwood) explains how Walter’s supposed abductor operates doesn’t match up with what happens...
Which brings me to another extremely impressive performance – that by Jason Butler Harner as Gordon Northcutt – the creepily charming abductor. A very disturbed character given a very unique portrayal by the actor - In a film full of nuanced supporting performances, his stood out to me. Michael Kelly as Detective Ybarra, who discovers the truth about Walter’s disappearance & Amy Ryan, once again packing a lot of power into the few scenes she is given as a prostitute deemed ‘insane’ by the LAPD are also to be applauded for their efforts.
When I first saw the preview to this, I thought ‘how stupid’ – A missing child is returned to his mother & she claims that the boy isn’t her son, but no one believes her??? What kind of nonsense is Clint trying to sell us? When you add in the fact that the boy was missing for only 5 months, it makes it even more ridiculous. So it’s a stretch to ‘buy’ into that premise, but they make it almost seem possible due to how they ‘convince’ Christine to ‘just go along’ with the hoax for now – With the heat off of them to find her ‘real’ son, they’ll be able to follow more leads. When that doesn’t turn out to be the case & Christine starts losing her grip while living with a strange child that calls her mommy, she moves to take action against the LAPD by telling the press what actually happened.
If it wasn’t for the Reverend Gustav Briegleb (Malkovich) Mrs. Collins would have wasted away in a mental ward.
The kid actors are kid actors – they read their lines & you try not to let it interrupt the illusion of watching this story thru the eyes of the characters. It seems that lately the best child actors are female & the better adult actors are male – but not in this case. Angelina Jolie plays a real person & she plays her exceptionally well – not like Robert Downey, Jr. who was just a dude playing a dude that’s pretending to be another dude in ‘Tropic Thunder’, Jolie becomes Christine Collins (Assuming the real Mrs. Collins had big fat lips smothered in big fat red lipstick) Yes, she looked like Angelina, but I didn’t see a speck of the actress in this role. Now I just hope that Sean Penn gets his long overdue 2nd Oscar the same night Angelina gets hers...