November 30th, 2006

Clerks II

From the Main Menu, highlight and select "Special Features." The Special Features menu has two pages. If you highlight and select "more" you will be taken to the second page. Randal (Jeff Anderson) appears on the right side of the screen. Highlight the top option (Play introduction to film by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier) and move the cursor to the right. A thought bubble of what appears to be a hamburger will show up by Randal's head. Pressing enter/select will take you to a video where writer/director Kevin Smith talks about "The Askewniverse Bible."

Four Brothers

November 29th, 2006


Four BrothersMark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, André Benjamin and Garrett Hedlund co-star in this gripping tale of brotherly love, betrayal, and revenge from acclaimed filmmaker John Singleton.

After their adoptive mother is gunned down during a grocery store holdup, the estranged brothers reunite to seek revenge and take matters into their own hands. Defying police orders, the four begin turning their old Detroit neighborhood upside down searching for the mastermind behind the brutal killing. Along the way, they discover they are bound by ties thicker than blood in this emotionally powerful, action-packed drama.

I had expected only to like this movie. I had seen the trailer and commercials and from them the movie looked decent. I had not expected to run out and buy a copy after seeing it so I could watch it time and time again; I did not expect to love it, only to be entertained. And I was entertained, at parts...but only a few of them.

The self-help street justice that the brothers turn to in their effort to avenge their adopted mother's killer was over-the-top unbelievable. The "saintly" woman who took these lost-cause boys into her home apparently did not do nearly as good of a job raising them as everyone gave her credit for. She took these boys when no one else wanted them. She gave them a home when no one else would. In her and each other, they had family. But then they grew up, went their separate ways and never got off the streets. Only one of the four appears to have his head on straight.

Marky Mark was good in his role, but the role just wasn't impressive. None of the roles were. The writing and the action were hijacked out of some 80s movie that is only aired on the basic channels Saturday afternoons when the networks have nothing else to show. I would have thought the film industry had evolved beyond movies like this.

I am usually a supporter of violence in movies. In most action movies it can paint a picture. In Four Brothers it was senseless and unnecessary as it just leads you back to the idea that what the brothers got away with was completely ridiculous.

The ending. Oh my, the ending. "There is a plot twist coming, I can feel it... Wait, was that it? Was that the big finish? Huh. I guess it was." I just narrated your thought process as you watch the end of Four Brothers.

I think the plot was too big for the movie and there was no way the makers could have achieved what they wanted. I cannot imagine a scenario when this would be a movie worth watching. Feel free to pass on Four Brothers.

| Buy it from Amazon | Discuss it |

November 28th, 2006
Tommy BoyTommy: Look at 'em there, pretty maids all in a row. I want the one on the left; she's perfect. Which one d'you want? Huh, huh, huh?... Alright.
Paul: Does it make a difference?
Tommy: Oh yeah. Wait a second. Is this your first time?
Paul: Yeah Tommy, it is.
Tommy: God, you're gonna remember this the rest of your life. Can't believe you've never been cow tipping before. Get ready to live. She's sleepin'. What you do is, you put your shoulder into her and you push.
Paul: And?
Tommy: They fall over...
Paul: And this doesn't strike you as kinda dumb?
Tommy: We're family, we're gonna be doing lots of dumb stuff together. Wait 'til Christmas.

Movie of the Month - December, 2006

November 27th, 2006

The Muppet Christmas Carol

The Muppet Christmas CarolCharles Dickens's classic holiday story sparkles with humor and whimsy in the hands of the always hilarious Muppets! Michael Caine stars as the penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge in a performance that's anything but "bah humbug!" Alone on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by ghosts who transport him to his past, present and future -- and it's not a pretty sight! but along the way he comes upon poor, kind, humble Bob Cratchit (Kermit the Frog) and his family, including Tiny Tim who teaches Scrooge the true meaning of Christmas. Complete with original music and dazzling effects, this heartfelt holiday movie is exceptional entertainment your family will enjoy for every Christmas to come.

| Buy it from Amazon | Discuss it |


November 24th, 2006


JarheadAcademy Award winner Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this critically acclaimed, brilliantly unconventional war story from Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes.

Jarhead (the self-imposed moniker of the Marines) follows Swoff (Gyllenhaal) from a sobering stint in boot camp to active duty, where he sports a sniper rifle through Middle East deserts that provide no cover from the heat or Iraqi soldiers. Swoff and his fellow Marines sustain themselves with sardonic humanity and wicked comedy on blazing desert fields in a country they don't understand against an enemy they can't see for a cause they don't fully grasp.

One quick note before I go on about how much I enjoyed Jarhead. It is described as this ground-breaking film for being set during a war in a hostile zone, but not being ABOUT the war. I think it is unfair that Jarhead is credited as being the first movie to focus on the mental anguish endured by soldiers when other movies have done the same thing. To name a few, see Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter.

And now that I have gotten that out of my system, Jarhead exceeded my expectations. I really enjoyed the performances by Peter Sarsgaard and Jake Gyllenhaal. Even Jamie Foxx deserves credit for the work he did in Jarhead.

I do not normally like Jake Gyllenhaal. It is not that I dislike him at all, in most of his roles I have simply found him unremarkable. He brought a passion to Jarhead that he has not had the ability to display in previous movies. He has come a long way since Bubble Boy.

I like Peter Sarsgaard. I have liked him in pervious parts and I appreciate the complexity he brought to the character in Jarhead.

Not too long ago I could be heard requesting the end of Jamie Foxx's 15 minutes of fame. More often than not he plays a relatively transparent character and he does little, if anything, to bring the parts to life. (Granted, I have not seen Ray, so I am speaking only of his other work.) If he continues to bring the maturity to future characters that he brought to Jarhead, I will gladly eat my words.

I liked the way Jarhead, in a subtle fashion, portrayed different types of Marines. The movie primarily featured the enlisted son of a proud veteran, the cowboy Marine who can't wait to kill anything and everything, the man with the haunted past trying to lose himself in the Marines, and the firm-but-fair, almost fatherly, commanding officer. There were many other men and women who fought and participated bravely in the war, but these characters were the focus of the movie.

I liked two main themes/symbols from the movie. I found it very interesting the way the movie suggests that soldiers are coached on how to address the press when expressing their opinions on the war. I also enjoyed the contrast in one of the final scenes as the veteran Marine joins the young men on the bus. This scene was brilliant in its awkwardness.

(I was a little disappointed by how similar boot camp experience with the drill sergeant was to the beginning of Full Metal Jacket, but it may not bother you at all.)

I approached Jarhead very objectively and found myself very pleased with the movie. I had no expectations, lofty or otherwise. I was able to enjoy the movie for what it was. The language and some subject matter may make the movie prohibitive to a younger audience, but I believe Jarhead is an important movie for the respect and appreciation of our armed forces.

| Buy it from Amazon | Discuss it |

Top 5 Movies: In Black & White

November 23rd, 2006

1. Lost Horizon

2. Casablanca

3. Clerks

4. Raging Bull

5. M

(Honorable Mention: Seven Samurai)

| Discuss it |

November 22nd, 2006
Super TroopersMac: But our shenanigans are cheeky and fun!
Thorny: Yeah, and his shenanigans are cruel and tragic.
Foster: Which... makes them not really shenanigans at all.
Mac: Evil shenanigans!

Saw II

November 15th, 2006


Saw IIJigsaw is back. The brilliant, disturbed mastermind returns for another round of horrifying life-or-death games. When a new murder victim is discovered with all the signs of Jigsaw's hand, Detective Eric Matthews begins a full investigation and apprehends Jigsaw with little effort. But for Jigsaw, getting caught is just another part of his plan. Eight more of his victims are already fighting for their lives and now it's time for Matthews to join the game...

Aside from the unimportant innacuracy in the synopsis provided with the DVD (Matthews did not actually begin a full investigation, he merely tagged along on the raid), I have no gripes with Saw II.

I will try to avoid being too impressed with the death and torture devices used in the movie for fear of sounding too morbid (especially since I can be so squeemish). What I will shoot for, instead, is showing my admiration with how well they were used within the script. And while I am on the subject, I thought Saw II was very well written.

Neither the acting, nor the dialogue was the focus of the movie. Our attention is directed at the "game." We needn't focus on feelings of "Hey that guy was in Showgirls" or "Hey that kid reminds me way too much of Malcolm in the Middle." We are free to enjoy the plot without reservation. What will happen next? What is around that corner? What is on the other side of that door? How will it all end?!

Saw II was not the horror film that Saw was. The sequel would be better described as a (relatively) gory suspense movie. Nothing from part 2 made me apprehensive about my own daily routine as part 1 was able to do. And that is a sign of a good scary movie: one from which you are changed, for even a moment. Even if it is a few days later and you are getting into your car at night and you have a sudden panic that just maybe there is someone laying down, hidden in your back seat, THAT was a good scary movie. Saw I had that, Saw II did not. I did not love either movie. I liked them both, just for different reasons.

You don't HAVE to see Saw first to enjoy Saw II, though I recommend it. And if you like what you read above, I recommend you see them both.

| Buy it from Amazon | Discuss it |

November 11th, 2006
CaddyshackJudge Smails: You know, you should play with Dr. Beeper and myself. I mean, he's been club champion for three years running and I'm no slouch myself.
Ty Webb: Don't sell yourself short Judge, you're a tremendous slouch.


November 10th, 2006


ShadowboxerShadowboxer is an emotionally-charged, full-throttle thriller, which delves deep into the harsh underworld of organized crime and uncovers the complex lives of trained assassins, Mikey (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and Rose (Helen Mirren). But when a brutal crime boss wants his wife dead, Rose has a change of heart when they find her pregnant. And so, the three begin a harrowing life on the run. Driven by fierce love, Rose and Mikey protect their adopted family from present danger -- looking to redeem their tragic past.

As the movie began to pick up steam, it really began to rub me the wrong way. There were ridiculous scenes at the beginning that I figured only set the stage for more to come. Luckily the weird beginning did not become the weird middle or the weird ending. The movie got less bizarre, but the story never really seemed to do much for me. The only redeeming factors in Shadowboxer were a few performances. The cast was decent and some of the actors did a respectful job.

The bad guy: I like Stephen Dorff; he reminds me of a young, Lost Boys-esque Kiefer Sutherland. But maybe the vampire vibe comes from his part in Blade. The world may never know. He plays the over-the-top crime boss. We see that his men are fiercely loyal, though we never know why. We never find out what he does or why he is so good at it. All we know is that he is heartless and wants his wife killed. I like him, but he wasn't great here. Though some of you may enjoy his full-frontal scene...

The good guy: Cuba Gooding, Jr. has played some brilliant parts over his well-respected career. He has done great work in great films and he has done great work in some lesser films. Shadowboxer will fall into the latter category. Cuba's role was not one many other actors would covet, especially if they had his name recognition, but he was impressive in it. Another "lesser" movie in which Cuba excelled is A Murder of Crows.

The doctor: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Out of nowhere, Gordon-Levitt has given me two great performances. He did not have a lead role in Shadowboxer like he did in Brick, but he is still worth mentioning. I can talk about how good Cuba was and I can talk about how excited I get when a movie is set in Philadelphia and someone makes a run to Pat's for cheesesteaks, but it was really Gordon-Levitt's performance that was the highlight of the movie for me. His part was much less serious than his character in Brick, and it was hilarious. Maybe it wasn't intended to make me laugh so hard, but Gordon-Levitt as the crime boss's go-to doctor when "accidents" occur, who also has an affinity for large black women...if you would not laugh you don't have a sense of humor.

If you take a "Hey, I think you'll like this" recommendation from someone who has not even seen the movie you could enjoy parts of it. That is the brief version of how I ended up seeing Shadowboxer. I went through it so now you don't have to. And now I can do my small part to educate you on a movie you are probably better off avoiding.

| Buy it from Amazon | Discuss it |