Movie Pre-Judgments (2009)
by Rusty W. Spell

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25 Dec 2009

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel -- Ross Bagdasarian is a musical hero of mine, so I lay a flower on his grave each time one of these movies come out.  The Chipmunks have certainly had their problematic incarnations, but this new CG stuff is the worst.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus -- It's a Terry Gilliam picture, so if you like his brand of surreal (I don't), then you'll probably like this, and perhaps even better than lots of his stuff--though really this is closer to his Baron Munchausen movie than anything else he's done.  Watching it makes you kind of wish that Gilliam had done the remake of Chocolate Factory instead of Tim Burton.  (Side note: Lily Cole is an interesting-looking beauty.)

It's Complicated -- Steve Martin brightens the screen when he's on it.  Otherwise, this is pretty lifeless (except maybe also for Lake Bell's reliable cleavage).

Sherlock Holmes -- You can understand the temptation to make a zazzed-up anything iconic, in this case Sherlock Holmes, but when you change the character so much that it might as well be some new character entirely, what's the point?  This is pretty much just an action comedy rather than a detective story.  It could have starred Jackie Chan as Dr. Watson.  However... if you ignore that this is Sherlock Holmes almost in name only, the movie is actually a kind of fun one.  It's kind of like a good version of Van Helsing, or -- in lesser spots -- a better version of Wild Wild West.

18 Dec 2009

Avatar -- You won't know what the big deal is.

Crazy Heart -- A sweet little movie that features Jeff Bridges playing a believable country and western old timer (who makes a believable comeback).  The music is nice and so is the pacing.  Even Maggie Gyllenhaal isn't annoying.

Did You Hear About the Morgans? -- Hugh Grant makes you sniff out a laugh every twenty minutes or so.  Other than that, the best I can say is that it's not horrible for a romantic comedy.

Nine -- The movie version of the musical of the making of Fellini's 8 1/2.  It's not that great, but it's got plenty of sexiness going on if you're into the whole Penelope Cruz / Nicole Kidman / Fergie / Judi Dench thing.

The Young Victoria -- A period piece.  Emily Blunt adds some fresh-facedness to the usual "feast for the eyes" that bores me so much.

11 Dec 2009

Invictus -- I don't like Clint Eastwood.  You do what you want.

The Lovely Bones -- I'm glad that Peter Jackson didn't let the hugeness of The Lord of the Rings and King Kong prevent him from ever making a smallish movie again, so I'm happy to see this little thing appear.  On the other hand, I'm not too impressed with it.  It has some Heavenly Creatures moments, sure, but sometimes it feels more like an M. Night Shyamalan movie or Bridge to Terebithia.

The Princess and the Frog -- Disney paints Belle black, turns Sebastian the Crab into a frog who talks like Lumiere, transforms Jafar into a Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, flat-out borrows the crocodile from Peter Pan, and gives the white 'tude of the past twenty or more years some extra blackitude.  Now that Disney has "progressed" this much racially, can they finally admit that they made Song of the South and put it on DVD?

The Slammin' Salmon -- There are worse movies in the genre of "comedies that make you kind of watch the side of the television more than you watch the screen itself while you're daydreaming about something."

A Single Man -- Annoying eventually, but this movie has some things going for it.

4 Dec 2009

Armored -- Guys in a truck.

Brothers -- No matter what the Bible says, it's not a good idea to sleep with your brother's wife once he's dead.  That is the moral of this movie, more or less.  Witness three characters that you don't like (and two actors that you don't like in anything they do) yell at each other.  Watch in awe as children say things that children would never say.

Everybody's Fine -- A father thinks that his son is the conductor of a symphony orchestra.  But the son harbors a dark secret: he's only a lowly tympani player!  I know, I know!  Can you imagine how humiliated you would be if your father found out you played a kettle drum?  This movie has a premise that wouldn't be thick enough for a short story: children only tell their father the good news and say "everything's fine," when really... well, you know: the tympani.  Also, Drew Barrymore talks funny.

The Last Station -- A pretty good movie about Tolstoy, his wife, and his secretary.  The direction is a little made-for-TV, but the story and actors are great.

Serious Moonlight -- A movie that Danny DeVito might have directed in the 1980s, except even more annoying.  Watching this movie is like walking in on someone taking a dump.

Transylmania -- This is Dorm Daze 3.  No really.  I guess they went too far with the vampire theme to keep the original title.  One might be tempted to say that this combines American Pie with Twilight, but it's really just American Pie but not as funny or good (and it wasn't funny or good to begin with).

Up in the Air -- Jason Reitman makes a movie even worse than Juno.

27 Nov 2009

Me and Orson Welles -- Richard Linklater does sweet.  Claire Danes and Zac Efron are a bit too cheesy, but Christian McKay playing Orson Welles is pretty great.

Ninja Assassin -- As it turns out, ninjas aren't that cool after all.

Old Dogs -- Wild Hogs part two.  It even rhymes.  A Disney kids movie transposed up to adults (which doesn't require much of a change).  Not great stuff.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee -- This is like staring at the design on a coffee mug sold at Starbucks for an hour.

The Road -- Once the end-of-world usual crap gets done with, this becomes a not-too-bad survival movie that questions manliness and violence and all that.  It won't make you think deeply, but it will be a comfortable level of thoughtfulness.

20 Nov 2009

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans -- Holy crap, I love it when art and commerce smack together so perfectly.  This is Werner Herzog doing a remake of Bad Lieutenant starring Nicholas Cage.  If you're wondering if that's a bad or a good thing: it's a good one.  Sometimes Nicholas Cage just monkeys through the millions of movies he's in, but Herzog squeezes the greatness out of him here, just like Lynch and a few others have done.  Deep, electric fun.

The Blind Side -- Sandra Bullock plays the real-life version of Ricky Bobby's wife (but with a heart).  It's not that great a movie, but you won't mind it too much.

Broken Embraces -- It took me this long to realize it, but I really don't like Almodóvar that much.

Mammoth -- This is Lukas Moodysson's first English-language movie, and unfortunately it sounds as if he wrote it using the "common American annoying clichés" phrasebook.  (You know, "I have to take this" when the phone rings and things like that.)  It's got a few of those delicate little Moodysson moments, but the subject matter isn't interesting enough for his conservative values ("conservative" in the true sense of the word, not the political sense) to be affecting.  It's decent for a movie, not great for Moodysson.

Planet 51 -- E.T. in reverse: human lands on another planet and is helped by native to return home, but also charm and goodness in reverse.

Red Cliff -- John Woo set this movie during the Han Dynasty, so we won't see any guys jumping in slow-motion while firing bullets.  In America, Woo is editing the two-part movie down to one semi-digestible film.  It's got some elements that will make it a classic among certain groups, but I don't care about this kind of thing anymore.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon -- Seeing these two fucks return to the big screen was like an old nightmare returning that I thought I'd never have to dream again.  Beyond adding a second layer of annoyance onto my soul, the only new thing we see in this one is the shittiest realization of a werewolf ever put on television or film.

13 Nov 2009

Dare -- Cute Emmy Rossum and some other dudes go around doing stuff and whatever.

Fantastic Mr. Fox -- Wes Anderson has been directing what may as well be cartoons since he started, so it's appropriate that he's doing a real one now (stop-animation specifically).  The designs are kind of boring, but the characters aren't annoying like every other animated character, so it gets a pass.  The voice talent folks are good for live-action but not animation, but everything is so understated here that it doesn't matter.  Anyway, it's Wes's best movie since The Royal Tenenbaums if that means anything.

The Messenger -- A really good movie about two military guys who have to deliver the bad news to the next-of-kin of dead a dead soldier, one of whom gets romantically involved with a widow.  It's got a great pace.

Pirate Radio -- Renamed from The Boat That Rocked, this is another of those British movies where, at some point or points, Bill Nighy snorts.

2012 -- The genre of seeing famous monuments destroyed by a cataclysm continues, adding nothing new.  To me these movies feel less like end-of-world fears and more like wish-fulfillment.

Women in Trouble -- Let's just say it has a lot of "trailer moments."

6 Nov 2009

The Box -- Contender for my least favorite director, Richard Kelly, director of Donnie Dorko and Southland Tales.  This is a stupid movie with one of those stupid premises: "Would you push a button that gives you a million dollars if it kills a stranger somewhere in the world?"  If anyone in any audience would have to think about this for one second, we're in worse shape than I thought.  Because of the extreme suckitude of his first two movies, this is his best one.  Go see it if you like eating someone's peanutty shit!

A Christmas Carol -- This is Robert Zemeckis's second motion-capture Christmas movie, which means that the man is maybe narrowing down his career choices too much.  But while The Polar Express kinda sucked (though Beowulf rocked, even though I was the only one who thought so), this isn't too bad.  Zemeckis is very careful to hit all the usual notes and images, so there's nothing particularly new about this--except for the action sequences, which only feel a little forced.  A good time for kids-n-folks on a Christmas Eve.

The Fourth Kind -- The owls are not what they seem!  This movie takes some of the scarier stuff from old alien abduction movies like Communion, combines it with Paranormal Activity videotape "reality" stuff, adds some frightening sounds, and generally kinda works.  You might feel some horror.

The Men Who Stare at Goats -- If this movie had found its tone, it would be one of my favorites.  But even as it is, it's a really good movie with an interesting true story: when the army was training psychic warriors.

Precious -- This movie's pretty good and not sappy in the way other movies like this are, but it's just too depressing (and realistic) for my tastes.

30 Oct 2009

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day -- Troy "Butthole" Duffy returns, to be a butthole.

Gentlemen Broncos -- Better than his Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, if that means anything.  It's kinda watchable.

The House of the Devil -- If you like old-fashioned horror movies, you'll like this fine.

This Is It -- Actually a good idea: rehearsals for Michael's would-be final show, interviews, and other backstage stuff that's edited with good energy.  This movie represents the good feelings people finally had about Michael Jackson after a decade of making fun of him.

23 Oct 2009

Amelia -- Hilary Swank is convincing as Amelia Earhart, but the movie is boring and typical: lots of fluffy flying and passionate dialogues and stuff.

Antichrist -- Lars Von Trier may be doing a first here.  He's made a movie that will make you cry "from fear."  Not that it's so scary you do a jump and then get upset and start crying. No.  More like crying at fear itself and everything in the world that causes it, as well as everything outside of the world that finds its way into our brains somehow.  This is different from crying from sadness.  It's closer to when you cry from anger, but it's less passionate and more thoughtful.  Anyway, that's the best that I can explain it for now.  If you've heard negative things about this movie, just know that you're listening to people who don't understand art one bit.  There is a tangible power in this movie that will jump out at you.  But, hey, also--it's oddly fun!  You could even laugh.

Astro Boy -- Who ever thought I'd prefer Japanese anime to this?

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant -- This movie doesn't know what it wants to be.  Someone set out to make a different vampire movie (again), but forgot to make it different (again) or interesting at all.  It's really just a teen movie with even less of a point than normal teen movies.  If it weren't for the presence of John C. Reilly, I wouldn't even have paid this much attention.

Motherhood -- So... being a mommy is hard?  Being a mom isn't enough and sometimes you need a "real job" too?  It's harder for you to be a mom when you don't also have a full-time job?  Being a mother in New York City is somehow different?  Because you live in an apartment and have to walk downstairs with kids?  Being a bad writer is good?  Liberals are... what?  Bedraggled is sexy?  What the hell is this movie trying to tell us?  I'm confused, but I also can't be bothered to listen to an explanation.

Ong Bak 2 -- Sorry, readers, but sitting in the middle of this I suddenly realized my life was passing me by.  I treated myself to a dipped cone and looked at butterflies for the next hour that I would have spent watching this movie.

Saw VI -- Saw VI.

16 Oct 2009

Black Dynamite -- I'm supposed to hate this or think it's stupid, but this is such a well done blacksploitation without a lot of winking or irony (though it is funny) that it somehow works.

Law Abiding Citizen -- A decent enough thriller, one of those root-for-the-bad-guy ones.

New York, I Love You -- The same anthology style of Paris, je t'aime, this time set in the world's most overrated city.

The Stepfather -- Unlike most horror movies and thrillers that exaggerate, this accurately portrays step-fathers for the well-meaning-turned-violent bastards they actually are.

Where the Wild Things Are -- Spike Jonze is a really good music video director, which I guess is why people are so affected by the two minute music video trailer featuring a new version of "Wake Up" by The Arcade Fire.  I wasn't affected by the trailer myself for whatever reason, and I found the movie to be a little boring.  At least three kids in the theater fell asleep, so I wasn't the only one.  It's kind of like The Neverending Story with the "use fantasy world to escape bad childhood stuff" idea.  Bridge to Tarabethia was probably the best of this genre.

9 Oct 2009

Bronson -- Some of it seems like Guy Ritchie, but this movie really is doing its own thing--even if it doesn't quite click completely.

Couples Retreat -- A typ. movie with good people.  If you're forced to watch a dumb romantic comedy thing, go for this one.

An Education -- Nothing outstanding, but it's not bad and it will make for a very cozy evening at home one night when it rains.  Carey Mulligan looks like a more normal version of Emily Watson.

Free Style -- ... this time with dirt bikes (again).

Good Hair -- It seems like a typical 00s documentary at first, but Chris Rock and some interesting interviews make it become more fun as it goes.

St. Trinian's -- This British movie takes all the worst crap from this kind of American movie and crams it in.  Still: not too bad for young girls.

Trucker -- Kind of like Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore but with trucking instead of waitressing.  The kid is given some pretty dumb lines; everything else is more or less fine and mopey.

2 Oct 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story -- Michael Moore is getting less funny and his gimmicks are less interesting.  Also, we're tired of seeing old pre-60s footage juxtaposed with the narration.  Like most Michael Moore movies, however, there's a certain level of entertainment and just a smidgen of education.

The Invention of Lying -- This isn't any new kind of comedy or anything; it's just one of those premise comedies; but it's funny enough and the people in it are good.  Have a decent hour and a half with it.

More Than a Game -- I guess if you like LeBron James...

A Serious Man -- This is the best Coen brothers movie since The Man Who Wasn't There.  It has the same kind of big larger-than-life stylizations that we enjoyed so much in The Hudsucker Proxy.  And this movie has relatively few stars (no Brad Pitts, no George Clooneys) which gives it a very fresh feel, like it's something we've never seen before.  It will make you feel all tickly.

Whip It -- Something like Coyote Ugly for even younger girls (but not as horrible).

Zombieland -- Kinda tired of zombedies (zombie comedies) right now.  This one doesn't offer anything new or special.

25 Sep 2009

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men -- The interview sections in this movie are great, since it allows really funny comedians to do their thing.  The story part, however, is really lame.  Watch this on DVD and skip through the dull parts.

Coco Before Chanel -- Borange.  That's the French word for boring.

Fame -- A few weeks ago I pointed out that Fame has been essentially remade for the last thirty years in slightly different forms.  This week, they're just remaking goddamn Fame itself.  It's just as ugly as the first one, with a 00s vibe to make it even more hideous.

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell -- Gross.  I hate men.

Pandorum -- Another attempt at remaking Alien--this time without an alien.

Paranormal Activity -- These new cats get their Blair Witch on and give you something with a videocamera.  If you like those ghost hunter shows on TV, this is like one of those, except it actually shows you something.  It's worth taking a look at.

Surrogates -- Okay, well, you know, okay, fine, well... I guess this one's all right.  It's Matrix fears combined with Facebook fears and the "thrill" part of the thriller is low (while the attempt at depth while failing to be deep is high), but -- yeah -- it won't waste your time.

18 Sep 2009

Bright Star -- Not too bad if you're into overrated Romantic poets.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs -- At least this one has a different sort of story, kinda.  But it's kidocrapo.

The Informant! -- A pretty funny comedy by Soderbergh starring Matt Damon with some Scott Bakula and Joel McHale on the side to make me happy.  Watch it (and don't worry that it lags near the end).

Jennifer's Body -- Fails at being Buffy or even Scream or even The Craft.

Love Happens -- Proof that cute girls look good in little winter hats.  Other than that, crapodapo.

11 Sep 2009

I Can Do Bad All By Myself -- Tyler Perry sometimes makes movies that, while kinda dull, are serviceable dramas.  Unfortunately he sticks himself in there and makes me ashamed to be a black man.  Ignore him and this one is okay.  Taraji P. Henson is kinda hot.

9 -- It's the equivalent of watching a collection of cut scenes from the old video game Oddworld, except that the characters are less appealing.  These are sock monkeys, but not as appealing as those either.  Once again, an all-star cast of non-voice actors are gathered together to waste our time.  This adds nothing significant to the already-boring ten minute short from which this movie was expanded.

The September Issue -- One of these days a smart movie (documentary or otherwise) will be put out that explains and illustrates the true impact of fashion on the world, but for now we'll have to settle for this movie and the one smart scene from The Devil Wears Prada.  Like every fashion-based entertainment, you have to sit and watch the most repulsive and stupid people you've ever seen talking about something they don't themselves quite understand.

Sorority Row -- A remake of The House on Sorority Row, though its closest referent is I Know What You Did Last Summer (which, itself, was pretty much a remake of that first movie).  This one's not too bad.  I mean, it's ridiculous (what horror movie isn't?), but it works more or less.  The most interesting thing about it is that the tone and color palette changes as the movie goes on.  It starts off looking like a sexier version of Party of 5, shifts into Scream, then goes into Rob Zombie mode (though not quite fortunately).  I recommend it for slasher fans, if not for everyone.

Whiteout -- Something about blizzards.

4 Sep 2009

All About Steve -- Rom-a-long-a-com-com.

Carriers -- A horror movie exploiting our swine flu fears.  Hateable characters.

Extract -- Count on Mike Judge to bring some goodness to your life.  Here he forces Jason Bateman to be more human and less "precious" again, reminds us that Ben Affleck was once semi-known for comedy, provides a place to show off how hot Mila Kunis has become (that is to say, she began hot and has gotten even hotter), and gives us some true romance.  Mr. Judge, I'll always give you a huh huh huh.

Gamer -- One of those "in the future where players in a deadly game are real people" movies.  Starring the guy from Dexter and a thousand gallons of stinky testosterone.

No Impact Man: The Documentary -- One of those typical liberal experiments videotaped for the world to see.  The only thing going for this one is the wife that the dickhead husband drags along for the ride: she hates the project but is also funny and sweet about it.

28 Aug 2009

Big Fan -- Hey folks, this one is really good.  Patton Oswald is probably a better actor than he is a comedian (and he's at least 40% a good comedian) and he acts the shit out of this one--but in a very natural way.  A good dramatic movie that's also absurdly funny throughout.

The Final Destination -- Apparently this series doesn't care about continuing any kind of story.  It just keeps doing the same movie over and over, hoping the audience will forget each time (and they will).  This is the fourth 'un.

Halloween II -- More pointlessness from Zombie.

Taking Woodstock -- This is surprisingly cheesy coming from Ang Lee: cheesy look, cheesy story, following the same ol' formula.  The only thing I can say for Ang Lee here is that at least he makes Woodstock look less gritty and disgusting as it actually was.  I will give props to Demetri Martin: he's a kid I wasn't sure if I liked (and I'm still not sure), but he's the only thing good about this movie.

21 Aug 2009

Art & Copy -- The movie to avoid, just as you should avoid commercials themselves.  This movie first of all tells you all the things you've heard already ("advertising is manufacturing an image of what you want to be," etc.) while introducing you to the people behind the commercials who think they are the most creative and smart people in the world (and the movie seems to think so too) when really they are foul-mouthed devil worshippers.  Let me put it this way: I would rather watch two straight hours of Pepsi commercials than to watch this again.

Casi Divas -- Once upon a time the movie Fame existed.  It was about people who worked really hard to "make it."  It wasn't that great, but at least the work ethic was in place.  Today we have swarms of movies and shows and real life centered around people who don't work at all to "make it."  They just show up and hope they are picked.  This is the one from Mexico!

Five Minutes of Heaven -- I'm not sure why this isn't getting a lot of attention.  I mean, it's not completely my cup of tea, but it looks like the kind of thing that wins all the awards... and it's actually good.

Inglourious Basterds -- No really, that's how you spell it.  This is Quentin Tarantino's WWII movie (and a remake of Inglorious Bastards--no really, that's how you spell that too).  Every character is presented as an even-more-violent (if this is possible) version of the Warner Brothers (excellent) propaganda cartoons from that period period.  Hitler is even more cartooney in this movie.  The cool thing is that Tarantino is having fun with violence once again (which I heartily approve of), but he's also giving us a bit of a "don't be as heartless as your enemy" commentary.  We're rooting for the violence while also wishing we weren't this way.  It's a perfect use of movie violence and it's both complicated and subtle.  Which, naturally, means that many in the audience (who haven't had proper literary training) will love it for the wrong reasons or hate it because of a misunderstanding.  But you, my smart readers, should watch it and cheer (even if Brad Pitt himself doesn't always seem to understand his own character).

My One and Only -- It (sometimes) looks and sounds different, but this is usually not a good thing.

Post Grad -- The Devil Wears Prada minus the actual job and anything else that you liked about that movie (whatever that could have possibly been).

X Games 3D: The Movie -- Whatevs.

14 Aug 2009

Bandslam -- Walden Media trades in their golden brown for another high school musical.  This one stars Aly, the sexier sister from Aly and AJ (sorry, AJ).  I don't have any real problem with it.

District 9 -- Never trust a movie that requires a famous director (in this case Peter Jackson) to "present" it.  This isn't as bad as that zombie sheep movie (in fact, it's okay), but it wears itself out quickly.

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard -- Not as funny as we'd like.

Grace -- They have a horror movie for every potential parent.  Three weeks ago we had Orphan and now we have a woman who delivers a demon-child after first having two miscarriages.  (She insists on delivering the dead-inside-her third baby after having a car accident.)  It's not great; it's mostly the last five seconds of Rosemary's Baby blended with the premise of The Little Shop of Horrors (with a baby instead of a man-eating plant).

It Might Get Loud -- A cool guy (Jimmy Page), a douche (The Edge), and a semi-douche (Jack White) get together to wank on guitars so guitarists can wank to them.

I Sell the Dead -- A kinda cool, kinda fun old-fashioned horror comedy.

Paper Heart -- Begins kind of annoying, very premise-y, and then Michael Cera shows up and suddenly it's really good.

Ponyo -- Even more annoying to me that these kinds of movies usually are, especially since the Disney-released English version features the usual non-voice actors.

Spread -- I was probably the last person to not have anything against Ashton Kutcher.  This movie makes me want to join the crowd.

The Time Traveler's Wife -- A Nicholas Sparks type movie with a sci-fi (or whatever) twist.  Like all movies about time travel, this one doesn't make any sense, but the time stuff is just an excuse for longing and romance and mystery and all that gushy crap.

7 Aug 2009

Cold Souls -- Someone's been watching too much Eternal Sunshine (always a bad idea) or Vanya on 42nd Street (a good idea, but not in this case) or maybe even that episode of The Simpsons where Milhouse bought Bart's soul.  Anyway, this is stupid in a way that could only exist in these dismal 00s.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra -- As was the case with Transformers, I have no real nostalgic connection to these toys and cartoons.  I never watched the show (crappy boy stuff) and I only had one action figure ("Clutch").  Also like Transformers (and almost anything these days based around toys, comic books, and other things intended for people ten and under) it's just a big sloppy mess with explosions and boobs and stuff, all while trying to be serious for a grown-up audience.  Still, it's better than The Dark Knight.

Julie & Julia -- You also need Philip Seymour Hoffman in your Meryl Streep and Amy Adams movie if you want it to be good.  This one is definitely a Norah Ephron-quality movie.

A Perfect Getaway -- It's got a certain okay-ness as far as thrillers that look like Survivor go.  Steve Zahn is good.

Shorts -- Robert Rodriguez's kids stuff is sometimes pretty good, sometimes horrible.  This one's pretty good.  It wouldn't have been my cup of tea as a boy, but it's got the kind of characters and situations that many kids will love.  It gets my approval.

31 Jul 2009

Adam -- "Quirky" shifts into directionless into boring within forty-five minutes.

Aliens in the Attic -- Harmless in the way that dumb kids movies from the 80s were harmless.  Not the pure evil of today.

The Collector -- Horror with booby traps.  Stupid.

The Cove -- It will take you a while to convince yourself that this really is a documentary and not something fake.  One of the reasons this takes a long time is because it has almost exactly the same feel of a regular thriller.  In the decade of the same ol' tired political documentaries, this is a pick-me-up.

Funny People -- Judd Apatow goes for more drama than comedy in this one.  The comedy mostly comes in little bits of dialogue and observation (there will be, for example, no one getting his chest hair pulled out).  It's a bit of a "hang out" movie, where you just watch the characters live and talk and it works if you think of it that way.  Adam Sandler and Seth Rogan are perfect for those kinds of roles since they're naturally likeable.

Thirst -- A slightly different kind of vampire movie, but also too gross for my tastes (too much blood slurping).

24 Jul 2009

The Answer Man -- Jeff Daniels' performance and a side (main?) story concerning the lead character's almost religious following add some goodness to this romantic comedy.

G-Force -- Read books to your kids.

In the Loop -- Not only is this a breath of blue beautiful air in the middle of this week of stink, but this is the wittiest movie in a long time.  You might end up comparing it to Dr. Strangelove in a good way, combined with comparisons of your favorite BBC show (also in a good way).  Try to remember this one.

Orphan -- Another "creepy kid of the devil" movie, this time an "orphan"--an old-fashioned descriptor that lets you know this is just a by-the-numbers horror.  It could have just as easily been Babysitter, Middle Kid, or Adult Nurse.  As far as I can tell, the only audience interested in seeing the movie (or knowing anything about it) is protestors of it.

Shrink -- Makes my penis shrink.

The Ugly Truth -- Fart-skillet.

17 Jul 2009

(500) Days of Summer -- Things that should annoy me about this movie actually don't annoy me too much, so there's a compliment.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- This is the sixth one, if you're keeping count.  I've already forgotten what it's about.

Homecoming -- It took me 25 minutes to realize this was a horror movie, then another 30 minutes to realize that it wasn't smart enough to even be a rip-off of Psycho and Misery (and Fatal Attraction), then I sort of tuned out.

10 Jul 2009

Blood: The Last Vampire -- Bored of kung fu, bored of vampires: this is both.

Brüno -- The funniest Sacha Baron Cohen movie since Borat.  I loved it of course.

Humpday -- A lot of this is stupid, but a lot of it is not.  On the stupid side, part of the premise is that two friends have gone in different directions--one a "on the road" drifter type and the other (as he lazily describes himself in the movie) "has like a nice house and a wife and stuff."  Types aren't really problems for me, but the characters are actually so otherwise realistic that this sketchiness of character feels false, as does the idea that they've been away from each other for a long time, since they act like brothers.  The other bit on the stupid side has less to do with this movie and more to do with other movies of the late 00s (and some Kevin Smith): the new explorations of male friendship in comedy, which almost always ends up being about gayness (and defining gayness) in some way, which comes across as more or less ridiculous or immature (and not in a good way).  The good, non-stupid stuff, however, is that the two actors are appealing and real and the movie is always funny in spite of its premise.  I'd recommend watching it over not watching it.

I Love You, Beth Cooper -- It combines the usual clichés of teen comedies with an actually unique approach to story.  Rather than the nerd having to "earn" his chance with the hot girl, he simply tells her how he feels (in a grand way) and she immediately falls for him (at least enough to show him a good time, Lisa in Weird Science style) and they both have fun, her old boyfriend immediately becoming the villain (that she instantly turns against).  If all this sounds unrealistic, so what?  Teen comedies only feel realistic (to some) because the movie tells us how we feel/felt about high school and early college.  This one goes for something new and I applaud it for that.

Soul Power -- A pretty decent document of a concert (and the behind-the-scenes) staged in Africa in 1974, featuring James Brown with a moustache.

3 Jul 2009

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs -- Queen Latifah as a wooly mammoth saying "Talk to the trunk."  I beg of you: let me know who this joke was written for.  Also included in this feature: John Leguizamo as a little animal jacking off a bigger animal.

I Hate Valentine's Day -- The usual Cosmo article transformed into a movie, with some offensive homosexual stereotypes thrown in for good measure.

Public Enemies -- You'd think that the source material of John Dillinger would be rich enough for a good movie (especially starring Johnny Depp), but as it is Michael Mann is pretty much just (as everyone else does) ripping off Bonnie and Clyde but in a flat, bland way.  I can't recommend this one, even to Michael Mann fans.

26 Jun 2009

Cheri -- Makes one want to invent a time machine so one can bomb Paris in the 1920s until one realizes that it's just the stupid movie version of that time and place.

The Hurt Locker -- Here's a surprising one.  The style is interesting, first of all.  It looks like a war documentary that's trying to be theatrical (rather than the usual vice-versa).  The content is intense (not just one bomb-disarming, but many) but also quiet and realistic.  The main actor plays a cool character who is assured and wise in the middle of more typical soldier types, but he also fits in.  Rent this one.

My Sister's Keeper -- Horrible, offensive, stupid ideas: placed on a big screen for your enjoyment.

The Stoning of Soraya M. -- Well, folks, this is a pretty good one.  Laggy, to be sure, but makes up for itself throughout.

Surveillance -- Jennifer Lynch was only twenty-five when she did Boxing Helena, so we can forgive her for that one.  Besides, I enjoyed her Diary of Laura Palmer book.  This one is actually really interesting.  Sure, it does the usual Roshomon thing and it borrows heavily from Lost Highway (including Bill Pullman), but it's actually a little scary.  About 30 minutes toward the end, it just drags on and on, but that first 45 minutes are so will keep you jumpin'.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen -- Slop on a Screen II.

19 Jun 2009

Dead Snow -- Evil Dead in the snow with Nazi zombies.  It's Raimi-esque in a good way.

Food, Inc. -- It's nothing new if you've encountered (in any of their forms) Fast Food Nation, The Omnivore's Dilemma, etc, but this is actually the best of the bunch.

The Proposal -- Whatever, it's cute enough.

Whatever Works -- Woody decided to make a Woody Allen movie again, rather than a "no really, this isn't a Woody Allen movie" movie that ends up being even worse.  It's got the usual themes, but it's not as annoying as when he's trying too hard.

Year One -- Hmmm, whaddaya do?  The movie's not all that great, but you do get some okay jokes and charm from stars Jack Black and Michael Cera.  However, they're just doing their usual characters, so it is almost just as well to watch them in a movie that's actually good.  I'll let you decide.

12 Jun 2009

Imagine That -- What can I say?  As far as Eddie Murphy kiddie movies go, this one's pretty good.  No fat ladies or farting: just some lovey magic with his cute little daughter.

Moon -- Part One: The movie annoys you by looking like it's attempting to remake certain elements of 2001, but in a more realistic, less mythological way.  Part Two: The movie twists into something slightly different having to do with personal identity and space madness.  Part Three: The movie implodes on itself and you get bored.  It's more or less worth watching anyway.

The Taking of Pelham 123 -- Denzel does a good job, but Travolta is an "e-vil" character in the same vein as that dude from Battlefield Earth and Tony Scott just turns the whole thing into a heavy metal rock video with worse camerawork.

Tetro -- Francis Ford Coppola reinvigorates his work by being conservative, taking movies back to traditional styles and Shakespearian plots.  But mixed with crap, so it's not all that worth seeing, and Vincent Gallo is appalling.

5 Jun 2009

Away We Go -- Everyone will love this but me.

The Hangover -- A movie about Ed Helms' missing tooth.  There's some comedy buried underneath, but you won't notice because of Ed Helms' missing tooth.  Seriously.

Land of the Lost -- If nothing else, this is not a remake where too many people will have much stock in the value of the original, and if they do, it will usually be in a campy way.  The movie, luckily (though it is a big-budget blockbuster), retains some of the low-budget looking (and it takes millions to make it look this way) charm of the TV show.  Essentially the movie is pretty backdrops (cheesy pretty) with Will Ferrell in the foreground doing his thing, which makes it worth renting.  Or, hell, see it on the big screen.  What do I care?  Take the kids.

My Life in Ruins -- My big fat Greek whatever.  It's not horrible within the land of rom-coms.

29 May 2009

Departures -- Cute enough movie.

Drag Me To Hell -- Well, thank God Sam Raimi's taking a break from Spider-Man movies for a while.  Not that I don't like those movies (cause I do), but every time he makes one, it prevents something like this from coming out.  This movie has a simple, fairy-tale like plot and a cute lead girl and those perfect scenes where some people will be screaming and hiding their eyes while others, during the same scene, will be laughing their head off.  This is something to get excited about.  So get excited!  Now!

Up -- The newest from Shitxar.

22 May 2009

The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story -- I'm glad that Sherman and Sherman are getting some credit.  They were the guys who wrote any song that Walt Disney needed back in the day: for movies, his theme park, TV stuff, whatever.  Some of the songs are silly but great ("The Parent Trap," "The Monkey's Uncle," "The Spectrum Song") and others are perfect and great ("Chim Chim Cher-ee," "I Wan'na Be Like You," "It's a Small World (After All)"); they're usually one or the other.  Not only am I a fan of Sherman and Sherman themselves, but I've always been a fan of assembly line songwriting, and this documentary gives credit to that method too.  The documentary itself is all Disneyfied and looks about like something you'd find as a bonus on a DVD, and it's not particularly illuminating, but I'm really happy it exists.

Dance Flick -- Remember movies like Save the Last Dance from eight years ago or Flashdance from twenty-six years ago?  This movie expects that twelve-year-olds will not.

Easy Virtue -- A not bad version of a Noel Coward play.  Jessica Biel is pretty good in it.

The Girlfriend Experience -- Forty-six-year-old Steven Soderbergh still thinks that making a movie about a prostitute is shocking, and in case we don't find that shocking enough, he's hired real-life porn star Sasha Grey to play her.  Thanks, buddy.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian -- All the magic and wonder of the Smithsonian that you experienced when you went there will be stripped away when you see this.

Terminator Salvation -- With Charlie's Angels, McG made a very happy and fun pop song.  With this, he's making a cross between a NIN song and a Jaimee Foxxx slow jam.  That's not really a good thing for me, but I appreciate the particular rhythm and colors he's using here, and I can imagine lots of folks liking this on a level deeper than a popcorn film.

15 May 2009

Angels and Demons -- There probably won't be picket signs outside your local movie theater for this prequel to The Da Vinci Code, so some of the spark is gone.  But this makes for a pretty good movie night.

The Brothers Bloom -- The guy who did Brick goes from doing a kinda different shitty movie to a kinda different average movie.

Management -- A kinda typ (but not so typ that it'll make you vomit typ) romantic comedy that is only partially saved by Steve Zahn, who proves here that he should be the guy who plays Rivers Cuomo in the Weezer movie.

O'Horten -- I watched this without subtitles, so I didn't know what all was going on, but it didn't seem worth going through the trouble of reading all those words anyway.

8 May 2009

Little Ashes -- A movie about the life of Salvador Dali, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Luis Buñuel.  But wait!  Don't get excited!  Dali is played by Twilight's Robert Pattinson who seems to be trying to look like Johnny Depp playing Dali.  Essentially, this movie (wrongly) proves that these three kinda geniuses were merely teenage pricks.  Painful.

Next Day Air -- Benny Boom looks like he'll be the black Guy Ritchie (or heist-based Soderbergh), except maybe even better since it's not just flashy camera work that makes this interesting.  The cast is great -- featuring Mos Def, Donald Faison (from Clueless), and a slew of super hot ladies -- and there are actual things to laugh at.

Outrage -- You know those frat boys that gay-bash all while having gay orgies in their frat houses, who then go on to be congressmen who gay-bash with laws while using their power to have sex with any man they want?  This movie is about them (though they only gloss over the frat boy part).  You'll learn nothing new, but it's good for a few minutes of outrage.  Here's a tip, everyone.  Stop gay-bashing unless you want us to find out you secretly suck dicks.  It's just that easy!  (Alternate previous two sentences: "You know how you can prove you're all macho and not gay?  Support gay rights!")

Rudo y Cursi -- Not worth seeing yo.

Star Trek -- Nothing to get excited about here.  Not to be confused with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, this is the movie Star Trek (not to be confused with the TV show Star Trek).  All I have is jokes here.  J.J. Abrams, rather than re-inventing or pumping life or whatever you feel compelled to say, has simply reduced the age of the cast--as well as the acting skills.  Say what you will about Shatner and co., but they did the trick.  These untrained upstarts just make the entire production look like big-budget fan-fiction.  And Abrams is mostly just trying to make Star Trek look like Star Wars (the new batch), which isn't a good thing either.  Let's lose the epic crap and get back to tiny humming space rooms, why don't we?  You'll watch hours of filmmakers and actors pretending that something huge is going on, but I defy you to tell me what.

1 May 2009

Battle for Terra -- Hey, kids!  There's a new cartoon company in town!  It's called Snoot Entertainment!  Doesn't that sound cute and fun?  Well, if you like the blandest characters you've ever seen voiced by bland non voice actors with a bland pseudo-environmentalist story and Star Wars rip-offs, then you're in luck!  And here's the thing: I know you do like those things, so apparently I'm the asshole!

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past -- If Dickens only knew that year after year, people were making increasingly dumber versions of his story.  This time it's a romantic comedy where the dude is haunted by girlfriends!

The Limits of Control -- Jim Jarmusch has always been a few inches shy of David Lynch territory (in a good way), and he's even closer here.  (Just imagine if Lynch's more spooky elements were stripped away.)  Jarmusch also has a way of tricking you into thinking your bored while watching his stuff, until you realize you can't look away and that you want to watch it again a month or two after you've seen it the first time (which is when it really kicks in).  That happens here too.  The cast is outstanding (even if we're tired of Bill Murray in general) and so is the music and look of the film.  This (and Observe and Report) is the first feature this year to get truly excited about.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine -- Eventually these stupid superhero movies realize they can't sustain a story (even though the job of a comic book is to churn out thousands of them) and go back to the beginnings in an attempt to start from scratch.  But, beyond the opera of some kind of slow-motion genesis, there isn't a story there either.  At least the other X-Men movies had some kind of message to teach in your queer studies university class.  This has pretty much nothing.

24 Apr 2009

Earth -- A condensed version of the Planet Earth multi-part documentary.

Fight -- Only Terrence Howard is worth lookin' at.

The Informers -- Is there anything more retro than a movie of a Bret Easton Ellis novel?  (This also has a pretty retro cast.)  I'm usually not a fan of irony about the 1980s, but a little bit of that would have helped here.  The sincerity of this crap is unwatchable.

Mutant Chronicles -- Looks like someone's trying to follow the path of Battlefield Earth and succeeding.

Obsessed -- Even though Beyoncé can't act and Idris Elba isn't as pretty/sexy as the movie wants you to think she is and this is kinda like a made-for-TV movie and it's pretty much a rip-off of Fatal Attraction... it's actually not too bad.

The Soloist -- I think I've seen this one already.  Anyway, it's a goofy movie that takes itself seriously, from the director of other goofy movies that take themselves seriously.

Tyson -- A little bit of a waste of an opportunity, since Mike Tyson could be one of the more interesting figures for a documentary but this ends up being a little lame.  The archival footage is the best part, so it's fine to watch as a collection of Tyson in his prime, when he made even me (who hates boxing) admire the pure power that he had inside him.  The movie doesn't shed any kind of light or provide insight for why Tyson is the way he is, but there are some moments when he says something worth hearing.

17 Apr 2009

Every Little Step -- A story about people auditioning for a story about people auditioning.  Can't we get this kind of uninspired postmodernism from reality TV?

American Violet -- Roy Disney's grandson has directed a pretty good movie with a very solid performance from Nicole Beharie and a backbone named Tim Blake Nelson.

Crank: High Voltage -- Sometimes things are so extreme that they're exciting or funny.  This one is attempting to do that, but falls in the "lame" area instead.  This is made for people who still have a hard-on for the word fuck even after forty years of relaxed censorship.

Enlighten Me -- Another from the documentary machine, but with a somewhat charming and charismatic lead.

Goodbye Solo -- Porn for liberals.

Is Anybody There? -- A cute Michael Cain movie.

17 Again -- If you don't think too hard about the premise (for example, why wouldn't someone's wife recognize your seventeen-year-old self, at least from pictures?), this is a semi-enjoyable movie for teenagers and their parents to watch some night.

Sleep Dealer -- If The Matrix were interested in the border wall and replaced slow-motion bullets with stink sand.

State of Play -- A pretty good little thriller.  You'll barely have to pay attention to it and it'll entertain you.

10 Apr 2009

Anvil! The Story of Anvil -- Since Spinal Tap (and more recently since American Movie), there has been an obsession with funny, dedicated "losers."  Fortunately (although some of this is funny), this isn't played for laughs.  It's actually sad (not pathetic sad).  It's not a feel-good movie or a mocking movie or even a rockumentary.  Primarily, it's a good documentary.  Recommended.  No need to be a metal fan.

Dragonball: Evolution -- Another genre run-through.

Hannah Montana: The Movie -- Hannah Montana's dad realizes that she's gone too far in being a spoiled superstar when she gets in a fight with Tyra Banks over a pair of shoes, so he brings her back to Tennessee where she can learn some good country lessons (like how to break her hymen while riding a horse, how to swing on a rope to practice pole dancing and cock-straddling, etc.), and she ends up enjoying these homely values.  It's actually not a bad little story.  The good (bad?) news is that the movie will provide a certain amount of closure for little girls who have been obsessing over this character for three (has it only been three?) years, and this will be the classy beginning of the end (to precede the not-so-classy actual end).

Observe and Report -- I like Apatow comedies, but don't confuse this with an Apatow comedy.  This is closer in spirit to Gaspar Noé's I Stand Alone (or at least a good version of Falling Down) than Knocked Up (and don't even mention Paul Blart: Mall Cop).  Seth Rogen takes us down into a dark character who still manages to be funny, and Anna Farris (who, it turns out, has perfect boobs) amps up her Scary Movie dumb blonde character, making her a alcoholic who's also loveable and realistic (and funny).  You'll be surprised.  I can't wait to see it again!

3 Apr 2009

Adventureland -- Wow, 1970s T-shirts and moustaches are hilarious!

Alien Trespass -- It's almost impossible to make purposeful B-movie camp and it come across as anything but condescending to the source material that it's pretending to pay tribute to.  (See Mars Attacks! for the worst offender.  The Little Shop of Horrors for about the only thing that's managed to pull it off.)  This one doesn't even make you want to switch it off and watch a real 1950s alien invasion movie; it just makes you want to switch it off.

The Escapist -- Pretend that this is the first prison escape movie that's ever been made and you might enjoy it.  Lose that illusion and you just scratch your head.

Fast and Furious -- This movie demonstrates everything that you sometimes just don't like about boys.

Gigantic -- Out of all the ironically distanced hipster films to come out in the past five years or so, this is the best: primarily because of the cast.

Paris 36 -- Everything about this looks typ (everything you'd expect to see and hear from a move set in 1930s Paris), but the girl's voice is perfect.  Go get the soundtrack.

Sugar -- Not bad for a baseball picture, though nothing I'd watch again.

27 Mar 2009

The Education of Charlie Banks -- Would you believe that the best movie coming out this week is directed by Fred Durst?  His direction is fine (even good sometimes), but it's the slight skewing toward exaggeration that makes the movie interesting.  The main character really stands out: mostly because of his hair, and that's not a joke.  He has a distinguishing trait that makes him instantly loveable and cool, kind of like when you see a smart kid and know s/he's smart without ever talking to them.  And the villain is a realified version of the rich frat boys from 80s movies.  The story and presentation comes off like a made-for-Christians movie, but it's not.  This isn't a movie I'd watch twice, but it's notable.

The Haunting in Connecticut -- A typical haunted house movie that's somewhat saved by some very clean direction.

Monsters vs. Aliens -- More and more, I'm beginning to realize that it's not just the fault of the moviemakers.  It's America's fault.  Maybe it's your fault.  Maybe it's my fault for even giving these movies the attention it takes to hate them so much.  At any rate, these are being made for someone, and it's causing our decline and eventual death.  Change your ways.  Repent.  Every time you see a trailer for one of these movies and giggle at it, go watch a Herzog film for penance.  Every time you buy your child a toy featuring one of these characters, burn it--no! take it back to Wal-Mart and demand a full refund.  Anything so that they won't get your money.  Your money is feeding the death of culture.  You have become evil.  Turn, turn, turn.

12 Rounds -- In the middle of watching this movie, I stood up and asked for a show of hands for those who were sick of watching movies where a killer puts some dude through a series of games to get his wife back or whatever.  No one raised their hands.  I sat down and cried.

20 Mar 2009

Duplicity -- Trying to combine Mr. and Mrs. Smith with Ocean's 11, but apparently in a bland way.

The Great Buck Howard -- You'd think this movie would be great, you'll be tempted to rent it many times, but don't.  The directing and writing just doesn't work, in spite of all the talent everywhere.

I Love You, Man -- Hollywood has been slowly and carefully (but, it thinks, daringly) reexamining male friendship for a few years now, doing so by analyzing clichés such as "man-date" or "bro-mance."  Always throwing in the possibility of gayness (which misses the point).  Making men seem unusual when they have more female friends than male.  This is what happens when you don't live an actual life but instead write fake versions of life over and over for big screens and focus groups.  And then, of course, those who watch the big screens begin to believe it.  And then the world starts to suck even more.

Knowing -- You probably shouldn't make a movie about predictability and numbers if your movie is paint-by-numbers predictable.  Nicholas Cage actually is kind of a weird, good actor, so it's a shame he keeps ending up in these typical leading semi-action man roles.

Sin Nombre -- Boringre.

Super Capers -- It's difficult to do cheesy when you are cheesy.  Also, Ed Gruberman is from that song, so think of another joke.

13 Mar 2009

Brothers at War -- Conservative propaganda posing as a liberal "understanding" of the war in Iraq.

The Last House on the Left -- A remake of the remake of The Virgin Spring, this time reveling more in (you guessed it!) revenge and torture.  Whoo-hoo!  The Bush years live on in horror remakes!

Miss March -- Road trip teen sex comedy with unnecessary coma premise and scenes that go about six minutes longer than they need to.

Race To Witch Mountain -- The Rock provides an unneeded layer of goof to what is actually a decent remake/sequel to the 1970s Witch Mountain movies.  This one, of course, has fancier effects and a color palette of electric blue.

Sunshine Cleaning -- The awful Amy Adams annoys the crap out of us throughout this indie "gem."

6 Mar 2009

The Horsemen -- Se7en meets Saw meets... I dunno, In Good Company.

Phoebe in Wonderland -- Elle Fanning seems even more magical than sister Dakota, and there's also a potential for a good kind of magic in this movie too, but unfortunately most of it relies on the common (including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland itself).

Tokyo! -- Three dumb directors doing tossed-off work.

12 -- A pretty cool Russian remake (sort of) of 12 Angry Men featuring some real-ass man types.

Watchmen -- Zack Snyder tries (and ultimately fails, but not without a fight) to out-retard his previous effort, 300.  In this one, superheroes try to be more angst-ridden than Christian Bale in the Batman bore-fest, characters jump around looking more or less like X-Men, people get slung out of windows in slow-motion, angry music is played, hair is slung around in slow-motion, lack of substance is glossed over with computer zooms (and even more slow-motion), male characters utter profound lines that give actually-gay homophobes big boners while they writhe in their seats and look forward to their next fraternity group showers, misunderstandings of the 1980s are relied upon for flavor, unoriginality is covered by the excuse of intended postmodernism, etc.

27 Feb 2009

Crossing Over -- Apparently, they're converting junior high essays about immigration into movies now (running them through the Crash machine).

Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience -- Watching this is kind of like watching a magician that performs at children's shows, but on the big screen, with behind-the-scenes discussions about his rabbit in the hat trick--but instead of children, pre-teens are loving him.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li -- Wouldn't you rather play video games?

20 Feb 2009

Eleven Minutes -- The dude from that Tyra show gets his own movie which is nearly as annoying as that Tyra show.

Fired Up! -- Guys join cheerleader camp to get girls.  They fall for specific girls, however, and they also learn something about cheering as a serious sport.  There's a competition with the other squads.  The racial element of Bring It On is replaced by testosterone.  Another in the recent line from the pro-cheerleader agenda.

Madea Goes to Jail -- You know it's bad when Tyler Perry starts ripping off Ernest P. Worrell movies.

13 Feb 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic -- This offends me as a woman and a human being.

Friday the 13th -- Someone liked the original so much they re-did it, worse, with nothing original added.  Many of these horror remakes are less inspired than the idea to colorize black-and-white movies.  Why would you watch the new one without watching the old one first, and why would you watch the new one if you've already seen the old one?

Gomorrah -- Sometimes I see movies like this and think, "Where do you get off telling me what the world is like?"

The International -- Paranoia about banks (oh wait--it's not actually paranoia, just real) in thriller form.  The fantasy that anyone can do anything about it.  Not bad.

Two Lovers -- Boring turns to sorta interesting turns to a moment of heartbreak turns to boring again.

6 Feb 2009

Coraline -- A pretty good kids movie (by today's standards), especially for little girls, directed by Henry Selick.  Just don't hold it too close to Pinocchio or it will burn... burn!

Fanboys -- This creators of this movie are smart enough to both make it for the fanboys themselves (of course) and also anyone who wants a fun and kinda funny movie.  It's a trillion times less geeky and annoying than any Kevin Smith movie; let's put it that way.  The movie has a good mildly-surreal quality to it where the realities of the boys' heads interfere with the reality of the movie (but not in the usual fantasy way).  The cameos are obvious and sometimes stupid, but sometimes welcome.  Tons better than Detroit Rock City.

He's Just Not That Into You -- A group of pretty good to great actors get together and insult us all as men and women, treating dating games as if they (a) actually exist or (b) are interesting to anyone anymore on the screen.  The "story" is one of those Love, Actually style interconnected ones, so that adds to the crap.

The Pink Panther 2 -- A sequel to an unsuccessful remake of an already-bloated franchise.  And this one doesn't even have an accompanying Beyoncé video.

Push -- When the movie first started, I was resistant.  It seemed too typical: kids with weird powers being chased by the government, etc.  But then it bumped its way on up to the high level of slightly-above-average and I liked it okay.  Dakota Fanning, unfortunately, is replacing her normally pretty good and emotional acting with the usual flat delivery of teens and adults alike who think that distance is what acting is all about.  (She also wears some risqué outfits, but she's fifteen or so now, so it's legal enough.)

30 Jan 2009

The Class -- Well, this French movie is certainly not one of those "teachers make a difference" kind of movies you get in America.  For one, the students are merely assholes; they're not carrying weapons or anything.  What you do get is a pretty realistic picture of a male teacher who puts up with and barely controls his class of kids who kind of like him but are too teenagery to admit it, so they just keep acting like twits and never learn anything.  It's so realistic, in fact, that's it's primarily stressful with a layer of boring.

New In Town -- A throwback to a particular kind of retarded comedy they made in the 1980s, like Mr. Mom.  More retarded for the fact that it's being made now.

Taken -- A well-above-average thriller in which you get to see Liam Neeson be down-to-earth badass (instead of supernaturally badass like in Star Wars or Darkman or whatever).  Rent this one.

The Uninvited -- Typ. ghost story, this time playing on fears of your dad's new girlfriend.

23 Jan 2009

Inkheart -- On the one hand, this reminds me of those problematic commercials that preach the wonders of reading books by showing you scenes from the Narnia movie.  On the other hand, my first point doesn't much make sense and this is actually a pretty good movie for children, one that adults will enjoy sitting through.  Recommended for the fam!

Killshot -- Elmore Leonard only works if you keep him fun on the screen.  This isn't.

Outlander -- A slightly-different premise (dragons from outer space during the Viking days) makes this one watchable, but not highly recommended.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans -- Tara from The Practice, Tony Blair from The Queen, and Bill Nighy (who doesn't get to do his laugh-snort here, unfortunately) team up for a crappy sequel (part three).  The entire thing is blue-tinted (you know, for "style") and is pretty much an assemblage of noise.

16 Jan 2009

Chandni Chowk to China -- A Stephen Chow style parody from Bollywood (which isn't as weird as it sounds).  Not incredibly funny.

Hotel for Dogs -- Not as bad as a movie with this title would imply, but nothing worth seeing either unless you're a kid stranded at home and this is the only thing on.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D -- At some point, the killer throws something at the audience and wakes everyone up.  It was almost enough.

Notorious -- I always thought Biggie Smalls was some fat old dude, but this biopic taught me he was only 24 when he died.  Other than learning that bit of info, I learned nothing new about how to make movies.  This is less good than all the other stupid musical biographies.  You'd be better off watching one of those VH-1 shows.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop -- Well, folks, this is the best movie coming out this week, so get your Netflix ready.  (Actually, it's not horrible.  You'll laugh about three times and you won't groan even once.)

9 Jan 2009

Bride Wars -- This movie offends me as a woman... and yet, it has a certain War of the Roses quality to it that makes it not completely unbearable (which is about how I describe War of the Roses, by the way).

Not Easily Broken -- Harmless T.D. Jakes thing.

The Unborn -- This is occasionally scary for one or two seconds at a time, but nothing that will sustain you.  You'll be reminded of The Exorcist one more time, as well as other horror movies from the past ten years.

2 Jan 2009

Defiance -- Finally we get to see some Jews kicking Hitler ass in WWII.

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