The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys

April 18th, 2005

The Dangerous Lives of Altar BoysOne of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys, is a movie experience you won't forget.

Tim (Kieren Culkin) and Francis (Emile Hirsch) are best friends, doing their best to cause trouble without getting caught. Under the watchful eye of Sister Assumpta (Jodie Foster), the boys plot to unleash the ultimate prank, involving a man-eating cougar, their school's statue and a lot of cough medicine. While the boys imagine their exploits in a comic book called the Atomic Trinity, Francis begins his growth to adulthood with Catholic schoolgirl Margi Flynn (Jena Malone).

Four young boys from unhappy working class homes find comfort in their friendships with each other. Each has three friends with which to get in trouble and escape reality through the form of their secret identities. These four boys are incredible super heroes with extraordinary powers. Well, in their comic book they are at least.

Jena Malone plays the slightly disturbed young girl that becomes one of the boys' girlfriend. Contragulations to her for being 100% type cast to play the strange young girl with questionable morals (see also: Saved!). I think if I saw a movie in which she played a wholesome character I would not be able to take her seriously.

Aside from that, this movie was good; one I'm glad I finally got around to seeing.

A similarly themed (and better) movie you will enjoy is Sleepers.

If you like Kieren Culkin movies, see Igby Goes Down.

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
is based upon the novel by Chris Fuhrman, whose cancer kept him from seeing it published. The movie is dedicated to his memory.

Buy The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys $15.95

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The Upside of Anger

April 12th, 2005

Though I am currently unable to say what exactly drew me to this movie in the previews, I made it a point to see this one in the theater. It is safe to now say that I wish I had not done so.

When her husband does not come home, a woman deduces that he must have fun off with his secretary to Sweden or someplace; thus leaving her with the sole responsibility over their four daughters. The four daughters range in age from one in middle school to a final year college student. Kevin Costner plays a former baseball star and current drunk who now works for a radio station in Detroit (101.1 WRIF). He, having associations to the family, learns of this husband's disappearing act and offers his form of courtship of the mother. She, now bitter towards the entire world (especially her daughters), parries his advances.

The only thing I took any enjoyment in was the fact that it was to be set in Michigan. Beyond that, this movie brought nothing to the table. I know that many people see Kevin Costner's name near a movie and start their bad reviews on the spot, but he was actually good in this one. His character, however, was 100% unnecessary. The makers of The Upside of Anger did a fantastic job of making his character useless. If you are not left with an empty feeling regarding Costner in this one, I am amazed.

I have so many complaints with this movie, but I will not let on any specific spoiler information in this medium. That is, if I even knew where to begin venting them all.

The only "Upside" to this movie was when it ended.

Despite my feelings towards this movie, it is still getting good reviews. Ok, I will concede that there were a few parts at which I laughed. In no way did those parts save this sinking ship. I would love to pick the brain of someone who actually enjoyed it.

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Run Lola Run

April 3rd, 2005
Run Lola RunA young woman has 20 minutes to rescue her boyfriend from the mob's clutches in this stylistic German thriller. Filmed in hyper-kinetic visual style, the story is told from three different perspectives, each with a different outcome.

Franka Potente is Lola. We are taken for three turns on a wild ride as she attempts to save her boyfriend. Pretty simple really, all she needs to do is come up with 100,000 marks in 20 minutes. Ok, so maybe that is not so simple. The movie derives its name from the fact that, due to a lack of other modes of transportation, Lola must run.

The three different views come from slight variations in timing and action. What I liked most about the film is the idea that there is no "fate"; there is no written script for our lives. We see through Lola that even the smallest event can have an entirely life altering affect on not only yourself, but also on others around you. In each of the three versions, Lola encounters the same people; people she runs past as she attempts to save Manni, her boyfriend. As she passes a few specific people we get a small glimpse of how their lives turn out. Sure the point can be made that by running past an old woman and bumping into her by accident or running cleanly past her will not directly be the difference between two polar opposite outcomes in her life, but the message has a broader meaning.

I cannot recommend this movie to anyone in any given movie-watching situation. I think that if you are in the mood for something more out of the ordinary or maybe something slightly artsy then giving Run Lola Run a try is worth it. I was not in either of these moods, but hey, I will watch anything once.

Buy Run Lola Run $14.96

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April 1st, 2005

Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Volume Three Disc One

From the Main Menu select "Episodes". Here choose 5-9 from the top middle of the screen. Located to the Right of episode 5 (The Cloning) and the Right of episode 6 (Broodwich) there is what appears to be a sock hanging out of Carl's dresser drawer. Highlighting it and pressing Enter takes you into a bizarre version of the opening of the show.

April 1st, 2005

Aqua Teen Hunger Force - Volume Three Disc One

From the Main Menu select "Episodes". Automatically episode one is selected (Frat Aliens). If you press to the Right two times you will see that nothing is selected. If you press Enter at this point you will see home video footage as a sound effect is recorded. You can also access this egg by highlighting episode three (Kidney Car) and pressing to the Left.

The Sea Inside

March 31st, 2005

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2004, The Sea Inside is a fact-based story of Ramón Sampedro, a quadriplegic man who petitions the Spanish government for his right to die. Without the use of his body for 27 years, Sampedro desires above all else the right to be euthanized. His story is taken on by an association that goes by the name of "Die with Dignity" which is how he has a voice in court.

The story begins as a lawyer comes to Ramón to learn his story. She has taken the case pro bono to get his wish to die granted by the courts. This is the first person we see him encounter that tries to understand him; she is not the last.

Through these meetings we see how truly remarkeable Sampedro really is. We see the devices he has invented to assist him in his situation. We see the poetry his heart has poured out over the years. We are party to conversations in which he explains life and freedom of choice, he talks of a future he hopes not to have. Every person he communicates with is so deeply moved by him; it is humbling to see the effect one man may have on others.

Director Alejandro Amenábar (Open Your Eyes, The Others) brings to life this story of a man enslaved to his body. The movie is set in the house Ramón refuses to leave, though we see incredible landscape shots and are taken on an amazing ride as Sampedro jumps out of his two story window and flies all the way to the beach. Through his eyes we see how he lingers over the blue-green water. To this former sailor, the sea represents that which gave him life and ultimately took it away.

The only thing worse than your son dying before him wanting to. -Joaquín Sampedro (Ramón's father)

This was an absolutely beautiful movie. Try as I may to exercise my vocabulary, I keep ending up with the word "beautiful" to describe The Sea Inside. This heart wrenching tale offers various perspectives on both life and death. If you have ever taken the time to consider either, and even if you have not, this movie will be special to you. And I will warn you that there are a few times in the movie when not crying seems unthinkable. I cannot help the feeling that in seeing this movie in the theater last night I was a part of something important. I look forward to the DVD release on May 17, 2005.

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March 29th, 2005

EulogyThree generations of a deliciously dysfunctional family gather to bury the family patriarch, the beloved granddaughter of the deceased is given the task of delivering the eulogy. In the days leading up to the funeral, family secrets are revealed, old grudges resurface and the household erupts with renewed vigor.

This movie has nothing if not an impressive cast of Hank Azaria, Zooey Deschanel, Famke Janssen, Kelly Preston, Ray Romano, Rip Torn and Debra Winger. When there are this many names in one movie, often times the movie itself suffers. I do not feel that Eulogy suffered at all.

Zooey Deschanel is the granddaughter given the unfortunate honor of delivering the eulogy for a man about which no one can remember anything positive. A large family that split into as many parts as there are children is reunited to remember a man it was trying to forget. Over a period of a few days you see just how dysfunctional the family can be. You have one family sister chastising the other over her sexual preference and one brother (and his two twin boys) encouraging it. The other brother is simply trying to deal with the fact that his acting career peaked at age 8.

Ray Romano delivers his first enjoyable performance. Not Everybody Loves his show on prime time television, but the comedy provided by Ray and his twin sons made this movie worth watching. Without the three of them this movie may seem a little too cliche. Sure I think an entire film devoted to simply watching his two sons do stupid stuff would be more entertaining than this entire story, but I can get over that.

I think they could have done a little more with the movie, it has a little potential. It is a good movie if someone else wants to watch it. If the decision is yours, I do not think you will be any worse for the wear if you pick something else.

Buy Eulogy $22.38

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Ripley's Game

March 29th, 2005
Ripley's GameMr. Ripley (two-time Academy Award Nominee John Malkovich) emerges from retirement to preside over one last deadly game, but can he persuade an innocent man to commit murder?

Tom Ripley is an eccentric, American art lover living in Europe. He is viewed as somewhat of a joke by the locals who have adopted him as friends, though they might not if they knew his past; the past that catches up with him. Now Ripley must choose between giving up his retirement or finding someone to do the job in his place. He sets his sights on a man in town who has taken ill. Jonathan Trevanny (Dougray Scott) has been diagnosed with leukemia, will a chance to make some money for the family he will leave behind tempt him to do something unthinkable?

This movie was recommended to me by my barber of all people. And why not? All we ever do is talk about movies while I get my hair cut anyway. The conversation usually revolves around movies currently in the theater that we have both seen. Out of the blue one time he brought up Ripley's Game. He told tale of John Malkovich's performance. He spoke highly of the film and suggested I might like it as well.

As far as I am concerned, Ken the barber was right on all accounts. I was very impressed by the casting decision for Malkovich as Tom Ripley. He played the role very well. The movie, though dark, was very enjoyable.

This movie is based on the book of the same name by Patricia Highsmith.

Buy Ripley's Game $17.97

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March 28th, 2005
CollateralWith Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo and Peter Berg. Directed by Michael Mann. A cab driver becomes an unwilling accomplice to murder when he picks up a contract killer for his next fare.

This movie and I had our ups and downs before I saw it. At first sight I could not wait to see it but then there was just so much money thrown into promoting this film I became tired with it. My desire to see it dropped exponentially with each new piece of marketing material. It became one of the "I will see it when it is out on DVD" movies for me. Well it is, and I did.

I am not sure if I would have actually preferred to see this one in the theater or not. The question of whether or not it could have actually been better on the big screen is why I wonder. On DVD the movie was good. It was not great, but I am ok with that.

Vincent (Cruise) is a contract killer in town for one night and he needs a ride to each of 5 to-be murder scenes. Unluckily for Max (Foxx) he is the driver who picks up the fare. Max has moral issues (surprisingly) with Vincent's line of work once he finds out. He simply cannot comprehend why someone would want to do this to these people, regardless of who they are and what they have done. The local police (Ruffalo and Berg) become involved as they identify crime scenes only to meet FBI interference. Could these murders be connected to a Federal investigation? In a very desperate and sensitive situation, Max pleads with Vincent. Conflict arises only when Max pushes back a bit too hard. When he interferes, the questions become: Can Vincent adapt? Can he improvise?

Many people were saying that Jamie Foxx stole the show, but I disagree. Though he was good, this was just Tom Cruise's movie. He was good. The movie was good. See it.

Buy Collateral $22.49

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March 23rd, 2005

Friday Night Lights

From the Bonus Features menu highlight DVD-ROM. From this point move the cursor to the Left. Appearing will be a highlighted football. Press Enter/Select to see an out take by Director Peter Berg as he introduces and praises his assistant.