M

October 10th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0022100/

MA simple, haunting phrase whistled off-screen tells us that a young girl will be killed. "Who is the murderer?" pleads a nearby placard as serial killer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) closes in on little Elsie Beckmann. In his harrowing masterwork M, Fritz Lang merges trenchant social commentary with chilling suspense, creating a panorama of private madness and public hysteria that to this day remains the blueprint for the psychological thriller.

There are so many cinematic gems from the first half of the 20th century that are hidden under piles of dust. It is unfortunate that many have been largely forgotten. The good news is that I do not foresee the same fate for M. Filmed in 1931, M still entertains and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats generations later. The elaborate steps through which good guys and bad guys alike must keep watch for the man who has already killed 8 children was thoroughly engaging. And the irony of crooks bringing a criminal to justice was beautiful.

I grew up with Peter Lorre being nothing more than an occasional guest spot in a Looney Tunes Cartoon. I had no idea who this man was with these signature puppy-dog eyes and this voice you wouldn't let read to your kids at night. I had no idea he made movies until I was older. I began to see his name associated with certain movies that were well before my time. I heard stories and read snippets about him that praised his body of work. Before M I had seen him support such great leads as Humphrey Bogart and Daffy Duck. It wasn't until M that I experienced first hand how good Peter Lorre was. He spends most of the movie nearly silent. I was nearly confused by why his name was so prominently displayed on the DVD, though he had such a quiet role. And then the movie began to draw to a close and as it did its pace quickened and Peter Lorre came out of his shell.

I really enjoyed M.

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Waiting...

October 9th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0348333/

Waiting...Always remember the cardinal rule of eating out: Never mess with people who handle your food! Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder), Anna Faris (the Scary Movie series) and Justin Long (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) star in this hilarious comedy about the band of mischievous waiters, waitresses and cooks just waiting to show guests how extraordinary the service at ShenaniganZ restaurant can be.

I sat down to watch this movie with friends a few months ago and only made it through the first 30 minutes before I fell asleep. It was not the movie's fault, I was grossly sleep deprived at the time. It is hard to imagine that I was able to fall asleep considering how hard I laughed through the first 30 minutes. All I can say for sure is that I had to see the rest if the beginning was that funny.

I've now seen the entire movie and it was funny. I laughed hard and often. I don't recommend the movie to you if you fell in with those who criticized Napoleon Dynamite for its lack of plot. You would be similarly disappointed with Waiting. Sure there is a moral dilemma in which one waiter is entrenched, but the rest of the movie is just about daily shenanigans of a few angsty employees of the food industry.

If you are naive enough to believe that restaurant dining is 100% clean and healthy, you may want to avoid seeing Waiting as it is an over-the-top portrayal of how sometimes a disgruntled server and/or cook will take a few inappopriate measures to get even with an annoying customer.

Ryan Reynolds gives a solid performance that, while not his best, goes to great strides to typecast him as the nearly past his prime big man on campus; a part he played perfectly in Van Wilder.

This will never be listed in the annals of great comedies, but it certainly was good for a few laughs. I am glad I finally got around to seeing the whole thing.

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October 7th, 2006
Joe Versus the VolcanoPatricia: My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.

Top 5 Movies: Adapted from Stephen King writings.

October 5th, 2006

September 30th, 2006
The Breakfast ClubAndrew: We're all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that's all.

The Ice Harvest

September 26th, 2006

Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0400525/

The Ice HarvestJohn Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton lead an all-star cast in this hilarious and unpredictable thriller that critics are calling "very funny stuff" (Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper).

When lawyer Charlie (Cusack) and his partner Vic (Thornton) steal from a mob boss, they think they've pulled off the perfect crime. But when they race through a night filled with mayhem, lust and lethal surprises, they realize that the biggest risk they'll take will be trusting each other.

From the director of Analyze This and Groundhog Day, The Ice Harvest cracks with outrageous laughs and slippery twists that will keep you guessing until the very end.

I liked John Cusack's character (Charlie). He is a mob boss's lawyer, so he has probably worked a few too many hours, which has caused at least one woman to walk out of his life. He is just not happy with his station in life; something needs to change. He tells a story about how his father always played by the rules and respected the law. He wanted his son to grow up a lawyer and protect those same rules he held so dear. And we can imagine that working within the confines of those rules to assist a man who does bad things is as close as Charlie has come rebelling or acting out. The character really allowed Cusack to get back to the type of acting that makes me like him so much. He is a nicer guy than he tries to let on. He is on edge, angry about something that may have never happened. And he is impatient. It was refreshing to see old Cusack in a new role.

Billy Bob Thornton (Vic), as far as I am concerned, was just another actor in this movie. I probably shouldn't admit that I am generally a fan of his work. I like his personality and the quirks he brings to his work. (There, I said it.) There wasn't much depth to Vic. Putting Thornton in the movie helped impress people with the names associated with the project I am sure, but I think he was underutilized.

I never thought I would say that the highlight of any movie I had seen was the performance delivered by Oliver Platt. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Platt, but in what few roles I have seen him in, he has not played any characters that have left a positive impression on me...until now. His character Pete, the drunk, unhappy architect, brought some much needed comedy to The Ice Harvest. He had what may be seen as the easy job of delivering the best lines in the movie, but I think he brought a lot to those lines and did a great job.

As for the movie itself, I think it was good for the performances by Cusack and Platt. It was in the theaters so long ago that I was able to let go of the expectations that once had been for a great movie. I did not love the movie, but I am glad I was able to watch it somewhat objectively and enjoy it for what it was and not see it through let-down eyes. It took a few weird (maybe even unnecessary) twists to eventually lead up to the ending, but the ending was great.

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The Matador

September 25th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0365485/

The MatadorLonely hit man Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan in a Golden Globe-nominated performance) and struggling salesman Danny Wright (Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear) form an unexpected bond during a chance meeting in a Mexican bar. Six months later, when the self-proclaimed "facilitator of fatalities" turns up on the doorstep desperate for help, Danny and his wife (Hope Davis) are both horrified...but intrigued enough to oblige. Together, the two men set out for the most thrilling adventure of Danny's life and the most critical kill of Julian's career. Deftly mixing explosive action with savage wit, The Matador is "effortlessly entertaining" (Rex Reed, The New York Observer).

I cannot remember who it was that suggested I watch The Matador. I always try to get back to those who make recommendations I use and offer my feedback, but this time please forgive me.

I have always enjoyed Pierce Brosnan. I never really thought he was the best James Bond, but he did well in the roll...if that makes any sense. Either way, you understand that he is always the cool Brit chick-magnet. In The Matador, there is a small twist on that as he has a strong penchant towards booze and loose women. Not only does Julian Noble lack the class of James Bond, but he may be completely devoid of tact as well. He is a loose cannon and completely socially awkward. For 22 years he has enjoyed a career that has kept him in total isolation from other people's personal lives. Or more so that it has been his personal life that has remained in isolation.

Things have changed. While in Mexico on a job, he has a startling realization that he has no friends. Drunk and lonely he stumbles into the hotel bar and finds an unsuspecting Greg Kinnear character (Danny). This poor man, who is nervously waiting to hear back from the company he just pitched for business, breaks the commandment of thou shalt not be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is the first friendly face Julian has come across since he realized he had no friendly faces in his life and he is immediately labeled "friend."

The unlikely duo plays the get-to-know-you game for a little while before Julian oversteps his boundaries by asking Danny to help him on a job. Julian asks Danny to help him kill a man. Pulling the trigger or distracting body guards, there is no difference to Danny who wants no part of Julian's business in Mexico, a decision from which we are shown the seeming end of the friendship. Until Julian shows up on Danny's doorstep in Colorado.

For a few days Danny stayed in Mexico in case the company whose business he sought needed to hear his pitch a second time, and over those few days he shared a few drinks with a man who kills people for a living, a man with no one else to turn to when he is at his wit's end. Julian needs a friend again and with no one else to turn to, he gives Danny the choice to help or turn his back.

Brosnan and Kinnear play an odd-couple of sorts, two personalities who could hardly be more different. I would argue that they did not have good chemistry together, but that was the whole point. I believe every interaction between Julian and Danny was supposed to be as uncomfortable for the viewers as it was for Danny. That was mission accomplished.

I liked where the movie started. I liked where it was going. I did not like where it ended up. The final scene was the best way they could have ended the movie, but it was the conflict resolution I did not like. I liked the Julian Noble character, but the movie would have been better had it been about all of the years he was the best at what he did. Remove the conflict in The Matador and let Julian do what he does best with a camera over his shoulder. Give me a The Matador prequel and I bet you sell more tickets.

The movie was luke warm. You would be ok to see it at someone else's request, but you needn't actively seek out The Matador.

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September 23rd, 2006
Me and You and Everyone We KnowAndrew: Dude, did you just give her the family discount?
Richard Swersey: Yeah. She's my neighbor, and I'm trying to work on my karma. Do you know what karma means?
Andrew: Yeah.
Richard Swersey: It means that she owes me one.

Top 5 Movies: Starring Adam Sandler

September 21st, 2006

Movie of the Month - October, 2006

September 20th, 2006

M

MA simple, haunting phrase whistled off-screen tells us that a young girl will be killed. "Who is the murderer?" pleads a nearby placard as serial killer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) closes in on little Elsie Beckmann. In his harrowing masterwork M, Fritz Lang merges trenchant social commentary with chilling suspense, creating a panorama of private madness and public hysteria that to this day remains the blueprint for the psychological thriller.

| Buy it from Amazon | Discuss it |