Movie of the Month - April, 2009

March 24th, 2009

Born into Brothels

Born into BrothelsBORN INTO BROTHELS is an inspiring look at the transformative journey of a group of extraordinary children in Calcutta’s red light district. Voted Best Documentary by the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. BORN INTO BROTHELS, which was produced and directed by New York based filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, also garnered over 20 major film festival awards including the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and the Best Documentary Award at the Seattle International Film Festival.

A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, BORN INTO BROTHELS is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta where their mothers work as prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York based photographer, gives each of these youngsters a camera and teaches them how to take pictures, simultaneously causing them to look at their world with new eyes. Together with Ross Kauffman, Briski captures the magical way in which beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places and how a bright and promising future becomes a possibility for children who previously had no future at all.

Touching and heartfelt, yet devoid of sentimentality, BORN INTO BROTHELS defies the tear-stained tourist snapshot of the global underbelly. Briski spent years with these children and became a part of their lives. Their photographs are prisms into their souls, rather than anthropological curiosities, and a true testimony to the power of the indelible creative spirit.

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March 23rd, 2009
Robin HoodLittle John: You know somethin', Robin. I was just wonderin', are we good guys or bad guys? You know, I mean, uh? Our robbin' the rich to feed the poor.
Robin Hood: Rob? Tsk tsk tsk. That's a naughty word. We never rob. We just sort of borrow a bit from those who can afford it.
Little John: Borrow? Boy, are we in debt.

Smart People

March 10th, 2009

Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0858479/

Smart PeopleFrom the producer of Sideways -- get to know a lovable yet dysfunctional family everyone can relate to in this lighthearted comedy People calls "smart and enjoyable." When Lawrence Wetherhold (Dennis Quaid) -- a widowed and self-absorbed professor -- falls for his attractive former student (Sex And The City's Sarah Jessica Parker), his all-too-predictable life suddenly turns sunny-side up. That is, until his freeloading brother (Thomas Haden Church) and his sharp-tongued overachieving daughter (Juno's Ellen Page) speak up, making "chaos" the word of the day. Now on DVD, Smart People is even funnier with never-before-seen interviews, deleted scenes and hilarious outtakes.

A self-absorbed college professor lost sight of the need to be sensitive of other people and their feelings when his wife died. Raising his daughter on his own has been difficult, but she's growing up just like her dad. And no, that is not a good thing. (He has a son, too, but he seems at least relatively well adjusted. So this movie is not about him.) The professor's dead-beat brother moves in with them and tries to give perspective to both the professor and his daughter.

Apparently there is a new formula in small-budget, independent comedies. What do you add to a pretentious lead character to create comedy? Thomas Hayden Church. It worked in Sideways, and it worked again here. He is the down-on-his-luck brother who weasles his way in to free room and board. While staying with his brother and niece he shakes them out of old habits and tries to implore them to take control and live their lives free from societal pressures to be something they do not want to be. Sounds heavy, but it wasn't that bad.

This was Ellen Page's big follow-up to Juno. I don't think this was what people were hoping for. As the professor's daughter she brought all of the attitude of Juno with none of the charm.

Dennis Quaid is our nutty professor, our single father. I like Mr. Quaid. I think that his often-exasperated mannerisms are enjoyable, almost Jack Nicholson-esque at times. I find comfort in his schtick, I guess. He was sometimes frustrating, but otherwise good yet again.

Smart People could have been called "Boring People and the Brother," but that is probably less marketable. This is an okay movie with a good cast. And the overall feel of the movie was saved by Thomas Hayden Church. I don't want to give him a reputation he cannot live up to, but the small resurgence in his career has been worthwhile for me.

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March 9th, 2009
Nick and Norah's Infinite PlaylistNick: I never wash my pants. I like to keep the night on them.

Movie of the Month - March, 2009

February 24th, 2009

Manic

ManicDon Cheadle (Traffic) is "simply mesmerizing" (Entertainment Today) in this "piercing...intimate and edgy" ("Sixty Second Preview") drama about troubled teens hovering on the edge of sanity. Featuring an exceptional young cast, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("3rd Rock From the Sun") and Zooey Deschanel (All the Real Girls), Manic is a "remarkable gem of a film" (London Film Festival).

At first glance, 17-year-old Lyle Jensen (Gordon-Levitt) seems eerily quiet and withdrawn. But he has a problem with anger, and this time his explosive rage has landed him in the juvenile ward of a mental institution under the watchful eye of therapist David Monroe (Cheadle). Can Dr. Monroe get Lyle and the other kids to open up, confront their demons and reclaim their lives?

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February 23rd, 2009
Top Secret!Nick Rivers: Listen to me Hillary. I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a woman that he met at a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist only to lose her to her childhood lover who she last saw on a deserted island who then turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground.
Hillary Flammond: I know. It all sounds like some bad movie.

Run Fatboy Run

February 17th, 2009

Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0425413/

Run Fatboy RunIt's the London Marathon, and thousands of feet pound along the Thames Embankment. Two of those feet belong to out-of-shape, out-of-luck Dennis Doyle. He's running to gain the respect (and hopefully, the love) of Libby, the girl he left pregnant and heartbroken at the altar five years earlier. And running alongside Dennis is Libby's handsome, successful, self-confident and very fit new boyfriend.

Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz), Thandie Newton (Crash) and Hank Azaria (The Simpsons) star in a runaway laughfest from debuting director David Scwimmer (Friends). Can Dennis win back what he lost by lacing up some hi-tech footwear? One thing's for sure: He's putting his heart and soles into the attempt.

On the day of his wedding Dennis leaves his pregnant girlfriend, Libby, at the altar. When he meets her new boyfriend, five years later, Dennis decides that he had better make it up to her now or he might lose her forever. The difficulty lies in the fact that this new boyfriend is many things that Dennis is not. The new guy is successful, confident, responsible and he runs marathons for charity -- and that is held over Dennis's head as if that one thing sums up how Dennis will never be good enough. Dennis responds that he will run the marathon, too. So now he trains for 26 grueling miles as if Libby will be waiting for him at the finish line.

I will admit that my expectations for this film were low. I have enjoyed Simon Pegg in some of his other movies, but not enough to rush out and see this. (Not based on Simon Pegg's involvement, but) I was afraid that it would be one of the romantic comedies that tried to focus on the romantic rather than the comedy.

The movie was funny and charming. The supporting cast was made up with some great characters, including but not limited to Dennis's landlord/upstairs neighbor Mr. Goshdashtidar (Harish Patel) and Dennis's best friend Gordon (Dylan Moran). The involvement of these supporting cast members and the interaction between Dennis and his son were probably the high points of the movie.

This is probably not a movie that you will invite all of your friends over to watch, but it is worth seeing on a night when you stay in.

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February 16th, 2009
The WacknessDr. Squires: Men do the things they need to do to become the men they want to be. Do you understand?

Top 5 Movies: Starring Peter Dinklage

February 5th, 2009

February 4th, 2009
KinseyAlfred Kinsey: When it comes to love, we are all in the dark.