Movie of the Month - July, 2006

June 26th, 2006

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss, Bang BangThey say love and money don't mix, but you can't blame Harry Lockhart for trying. He's been whisked from a life of petty crime to Hollywood, where he'll audition for the role of a movie detective and be tutored for the part by a private eye. Now all Harry has to do is convince the dream girl he meets that he's an actual detective. And try not to stumble over the corpses as reel life abruptly gives way to the real.

Lights, camera, plenty of action! Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) provides the screenplay and makes his directing debut in a clever fusion of buddy movie and hardboiled noir produced by Joel Silver. Roberty Downey Jr., Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan play the thrust-together trio -- a naive schemer, a tough-as-nails gay detective, and a hopeful actress clinging to her dream. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Watch Watch.

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June 14th, 2006
Three AmigosLucky Day: In a way, each of us has an El Guapo to face. For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us. But as sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo, who also happens to be the actual El Guapo!

Grizzly Man

June 12th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0427312/

Grizzly ManTimothy Treadwell spent 13 seasons with the grizzly bears in Alaska. He followed them, studied them, lived among them. For the first few years he would take pictures and in the later years he carried a video camera with him to document his experiences on film. He would present them at various speaking engagements for which he never charged a fee. He wanted to dispel the feeling that grizzly bears were inherently dangerous. He believed, rather, that they should be respected and loved by humans. His message, from the beginning, was that he was so passionate about this cause that he would die for these animals. Each year when he set off to Alaska he would tell friends that if he should not return, they should not worry because it was what he wanted. It was how he wanted to go, if he must.

In the end, that is exactly what Timothy got. In 2003 he and his companion killed by a bear.

Grizzly Man is a documentary about Timothy Treadwell. It tells about the man before he became obsessed with bears and it talks about the man as he lived among the bears. We see actual footage taken by Timothy and we see first person accounts from family and friends. One of the more interesting perspectives included in the film is that from people who think Timothy got exactly what he deserved. The contrast between a man and woman tragically killed by a bear and sentiment that he was doing more harm than good to the bears he was committed to protect was sharp.

The movie was very interesting. Despite the interference with nature, and the breaking of a few federal laws, Timothy Treadwell had a unique perspective on life. The film would not have been worth seeing if it did not contain so much footage from his time in Alaska. So much of his philosophy was explained as narrative to his video. His transition away from human society was remarkably well captured over the years. He grew more and more comfortable among the bears and less and less cautious. It would be his downfall.

I do not usually make a point to watch documentaries, but this one looked different. It was entertaining in documentary terms, but if you are deciding between this and something a bit more fictional, I am not sure you should pick Grizzly Man.

I liked it well enough, though I do not anticipate the need to ever watch it a second time. Put Grizzly Man on your "to rent" list.

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Top 5 Movies: Starring Tom Hanks

June 9th, 2006

The Break-Up

June 8th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0452594/

Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) and Gary (Vince Vaughn) live in the condo that they own together. They have had all of the conversations about what is to come from their future; things look good until one night. Brooke feels that Gary does not participate well enough in the relationship. She feels that she goes above and beyond her duty and not only does he fail to meet her halfway, he does not appreciate what she does for him. She breaks up with him.

Now she must do everything in her womanly power to make him realize that he needs to make some changes in his life and want to win himself back into her favor. But is it that simple?

My expectations were relatively low. To my knowledge, the movie has not been reviewed well in most circles. Some people expect it to be 100% chick flick. Some people expect it to be 100% Vince Vaughn hilarity. The reality falls somewhere south of the latter and to the left of the former.

The movie was absolutely hilarious...until their first fight - the break-up fight. The movie then took on a serious tone for the next 20-30 minutes. It was a sharp contrast from the raucous laughter that spewed from the audience as the movie began. The laughs that came throughout the remainder of the movie were hearty, though sporadic.

I had heard that it was not a great date movie. Various scenes harp on not-so-subtle idiosyncrasies exhibited by both men and women in relationships. Apparently there has been some trouble caused among viewers who then have things pointed out that they relate to their own mate. My feelings are that maybe this could be true if you are in a middle stage of a relationship. If you are early you have not seen signs of anything yet that could be highlighted in the movie and if you are late in the game you are over it by now. But I do pass along the warning anyway.

Vince Vaughn was great. Vince Vaughn's humor was somewhat of an amalgamation of other roles he has played. He had relationship insight like he did in Wedding Crashers and some right-on-time trash talk like he did in Swingers. I will continue to tout him as the new Bill Murray. He does the slapstick, sophomoric humor; he does serious drama; he does touching chick flick. He is very likeable on screen. So far anyway, he has the Midas Touch.

Jennifer Aniston, in many scenes, has never looked better. I do not expect to see her name attached to any blockbuster roles, but she does well in this chick-flick niche. She is well suited to the characters in the genre.

Welcome back to movies, Joey Lauren Adams. She put on a few pounds and looks good. Her role was small, but she did a good job as the nagging friend whose advice is misinterpreted by Brooke.

Vincent D'Onofrio takes on another quirky role like the one he played in Thumbsucker. The characters were vastly different, but it seems that Mr. D'Onofrio is stretching his artistic legs a little. It was a small part, but he did well.

As if Joey Lauren Adams' reincarnation wasn't enough, Cole Hauser came out of the woodwork. Probably the only thing you've seen him in was Dazed and Confused, and after that role you did not expect to see him in anything ever again. Though he did have a small roll in Tigerland, which is a fantastic movie.

Jon Favreau was great. I love to see Favreau and Vaughn interact on screen. I still picture Mikey and Trent (Swingers) when the witty banter begins.

The movie was good, not great. I may never see it again, but it was entertaining enough.

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The Brothers McMullen

June 6th, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0112585/

Three brothers from New York struggle through conflicts arising from their Irish Catholic heritage. At first separately, and then together they tackle love, marriage, and infidelity. Their parents were not ideal role models in matters of the heart so they are forced to teach themselves in this picture written and directed by Ed Burns, which features familiar faces from She's The One.

The acting was a little rough around the edges and with the choppy video, it is evident that this was a low-budget project. Ed Burns was not the first to write a movie about failed relationships and burgeoning love, nor did he put an overly memorable feel on his version. The ending was slightly touching, which was at least nice from my perspective to get some relatively positive emotion out of the movie. I spent most of my time bored with it, but it did end decently by comparison.

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June 5th, 2006
ElizabethtownDrew Baylor: No true fiasco ever began as a quest for mere adequacy. A motto of the British Special Air Force is: 'Those who risk, win.' A single green vine shoot is able to grow through cement. The Pacific Northwestern salmon beats itself bloody on it's quest to travel hundreds of miles upstream against the current, with a single purpose, sex of course, but also....life.

The Da Vinci Code

June 1st, 2006

Link: http://imdb.com/title/tt0382625/

Harvard professor Robert Langdon was dragged into a religious conflict that dated back a few millenniums. He and French Cryptographer Sophie Neveu had work together to follow the path toward the answers. Conflicts arose from many sources: the figurative path to follow was not known, neither were the questions whose answers are sought, and Robert Langdon was wanted for murder. In a surprising turn of events, the path begano reveal itself in religious lore and a few of Leonardo Da Vinci's works.

I cannot say how enjoyable the movie would be to someone who has not read the book, or at least read it recently. I had just finished reading the book about two weeks before I saw the movie at the theater. Many things were different. In my opinion, too many things were different. There were so many intricate details pieced together in the book that had to be removed for the sake of time that left enormous holes. Some of the holes were patched with movie-specific details, but they were not as good.

I believe that, for the most part, people prefer whichever came first, reading the book or seeing the movie. It becomes a reference point against which the other is measured and many differences seem too great to overcome. Having read the book first, I cannot tell you if the book is worth reading after seeing the movie. I can tell you, however, the movie was not worth seeing after reading the book.

A friend of mine made a fantastic point that summed up the difference between the two mediums perfectly. He said, "The book was much more Indiana Jones than the movie." On paper, the story had much more mystery and suspense. Almost none of it translated onto the big screen.

He and I differed in our opinions of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon. I cannot speak for his reasons, but he thought Hanks was good for the part. I thought it was a poor casting choice. Additionally, he sounded like he did back in the 80s; the sound is as if hearing his own voice delivering the words is a surprise to him. (Think about it.)

The dialogue in the movie was horribly forced. It was a long string of forced cues. To be able to explain what was happening, without the luxury to include a chapter of text, writers built all-too-convenient verbal cues. One character, seemingly out of the blue, would ask another something completely unrelated to the current conversation and then the second person would feign surprise and explain how it all ties together. Compare this exactly to when you try to coerce another person to answer a question to which you already know the answer. (I don't think I explained that very well, but it was the best I can do.)

If you have read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, especially recently, I do not recommend you see the movie. I thought the movie was as bad as I expected the book to be...

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Top 5 Movies: Sports Flicks

May 25th, 2006

Movie of the Month - June, 2006

May 21st, 2006

Bottle Rocket

Bottle RocketAn offbeat crime caper that turns convention on its head, Bottle Rocket is "the sort of endearingly oddball project that will be remembered for years to come... for the formidable talent it introduces to the world" (Michael Medved, New York Post).

Newcomer Owen Wilson, in a star-making performance, co-wrote the screenplay about three best friends who attempt to escape their suburban boredom through a life of crime. But these bickering, bumbling thieves are no match for the local 'godfather' (James Caan) who leads them into the biggest heist of their careers. Co-starring Luke Wilson and Bob Musgrave in their film debuts, Bottle Rocket is the cult comedy hit that "will shoot to the top of your favorite film list" (Stephen Saban, Details Magazine).

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