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Friday, November 8, 2013

All Quiet on The Western Front Movie Review

“All Quiet on the Western Front” was released in 1930, it is completely in black and white.  For some of you who think this makes for a poor film, you are really missing out.  ,  All Quiet on The Western Front is one of the great war films.  Based on the novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque, it follows the day to day suffering of young infantrymen during World War One.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lincoln Starring Daniel Day Lewis Review

I watched Lincoln last night for the first time on DVD .  I enjoyed it so much that I actually watched the film twice, which is a rare feat to watch the same movie two times consecutively with no other movies watched in between.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

World War Z Movie Review - Nothing Like The Book

I'm not sure if it is fair to judge a film based on the book from which it was adapted but I'm going to give it a shot.  I read Max Brooks book "World War Z" and really loved it.  It is set years after a global war against a zombie apocalypse.  The book is a series of flashbacks by scientists, military personnel, civilian survivors, politicians, etc. describing their experience during the war.  By the end of the book you have a really good idea, what happened, why it happened, where it happened, the strength of humanity, the flaws of humanity, why some survived, why many didn't, how the war was resolved, etc.  Pretty fun stuff and fairly plausible in a, well, zombie kinda way. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Stake Land Vampire Movie Apocalypse Review

I admit, I’m hooked on the whole Zombie Apocalypse thing and “Stake Land” is pretty much the exact same style end-of-world film except in this case it is a vampire apocalypse. I’ll be honest, I liked the film even though I could tear up each cliché implausible scenario, one piece at a time.  I’ll mercifully brief though.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Drive - Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan Movie Review

A man with no name (Ryan Gosling) works during the day as a Los Angeles  movie stuntman driver and at night he works as a getaway driver for various thieves.  A loner, he befriends his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son (Kaden Leos). Irene’s troubled husband (Oscar Isaac) returns from a stint in prison and this triggers a series of events that dramatically change the routine of their lives.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Goon - Pro Hockey Enforcer Fight Movie

Doug Glatt (Shawn William Scott) is hired into an unlikely hockey career because he can fight.  A "Goon" in hockey is a player whose main job is to intimidate, and beat up, other teams.  Doug is hired as a goon.

Shawn William Scott plays a dead-pan dopey yet likable brute in Glatt.  This might not be a break out role for Scott but he does well in a comic-violent role that can be hard to pull off.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kontroll – Budapest Underground Train Crew Film

Kontroll is a dark, grimy, noir-like fictional film about the miserable existence of Budapest ticket inspectors prowling the underground subways checking customers for their tickets.  

42 – Jackie Robinson Breaks Baseball Color Barrier

Boy did I enjoy this film.  It is fun to watch, has some really good feel good moments and introduces a fine actor I haven’t heard of before in Chadwick Boseman who stars as Jackie Robinson, the first baseball player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

 With all that in mind, the film lets itself down.   Yes, this is a good, “feel good” film but it could have been so much better.    

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Twilight Samurai

I've always thought of the Japanese samurai as the disciplined, gung ho, warrior both admired and feared by friend and foe alike. The Twilight Samurai is a film that quickly teaches an unfamiliar audience that the samurai lives a life radically different than what you might think.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Intouchables - Rich Paralyized Man Befriends Criminal Caretaker

An ultra-wealthy, aristocratic, Frenchman (Monsieur Philippe played by François Cluzet) is surrounded by uber-decadent furniture, a mansion home, cars, and personal staff needs a caretaker (he has plenty but apparently he needs one more). He’s a quadriplegic who needs 24 hour care. The hiring process begins. After many dopey interviewees are rejected, a poor, French, African ex-convict barges into the interview. He is Driss (played by Omar Sy) He speaks to the stuffy staff rudely in a sort of I don’t care how rich you are attitude and leaves.

Of course, he gets hired. Over the course of the movie his street-smart approach both lifts the spirits of the staff while tempering their snobby attitude. Same goes for the man he cares for.

Still Walking - Japanese Family Drama Film

Set in Japan, a Japanese family meets every year to remember their adolescent son killed twelve years earlier saving another young boy.

The deceased son is revered and missed presumably because his parents expected great things from him. By contrast, the parents are disappointed in his surviving brother who is kind, well intention, but failed to achieve the success that was expected from him.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ghost In a Shell - Japanese Anime Review

I had never watched a full length Japanese anime film so at the request of a friend I checked out the movie "Ghost in a Shell".

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Indie Game - Independent Game Designer Movie

OK, you've watched some movies in your time right? Ever notice for every formulaic, commercially successful film such as "Saving Private Ryan", "The Blind Side", etc there are tons of decent Independent films that sort of just get trampled on the sidelines? Occasionally some lucky movie-fan finds one of these indie-flicks and that special film with all its artistic heart and soul finally gets its notice of recognition.

Believe it or not, the video game industry is the same way. For every smash-hit Madden 2000-something football game or Max Payne bloodbath, there are indie-games out there made by a very small team of programmers who shun the popular gaming cliches and try to break out with their own ideas.

The film follows four game designers who work out of tiny offices or just their homes for years on one game.

Jonathan Blow created "Braid" .... a guy is trying to rescue a princes

Edmund McMillian Tommy Refenes created "Super Meat Boy" .... basically a bloody skinless cube trying to find his Band-Aid girlfriend

Phil Fish created "Fez" ...... where you collect bugs to rebuild the world the character lives in.

I know what you are thinking.... these games sound all so-done-before and boring. I admit I haven't been a gamer since the 80's and as I watched the film I couldn't help but think how much these resembled Coleco's "Donkey Kong" and perhaps the Atari 2600 "Adventure"

Watch the film more closely though and you'll become intrigued with the wonderful nuances of these games. Yes, on the surface they seem simple but they are truly works of art in their own right. Each designer puts his heart and soul into each game. I can't do descriptions of these nuances any justice here. "Fez" for example inserts a 2 dimensional character into a 3 dimensional setting, can't say that's been done before. "Braid" combines time control and character relationships which remind me of every time I've wanted to rewind time to make things better. "Super Meat Boy" at first glance looks all cutsey, but it is a dark and violent maze about two characters who, quite literally, are without purpose until they find each other.

The film at times is suspenseful and has a classic-underdog feel to the movie. Blow, McMillian, Refenes and Fish all bring distinctly different emotions that add to the intrigue of this film. If you are starving artist yourself or simply love indie films about very indie-people, check this out. You'll enjoy it.

The Giant Mechanical Man - Jenna Fischer Chris Messina

This is a heck of a little film. Jenna Fischer (The Office) and Chris Messina (Julia and Julia / Argo) play Janice and Tim. Both are in their thirties and, you know the saying, "Don't know what they want to do when they grow up."

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Revanche - Austrian Gotz Spielmann Movie Review

Tamara (Irina Potapenko) walks the streets and Alex (Johannes Krisch) is an underemployed ex-convict working as an assistant in a seedy business. They are in love, live in a bad section of Vienna and looking to improve their lives.
Eventually the two encounter a country policeman (Andres Lust) and his wife (Ursula Strauss) which impacts the lives of all of the parties involved.

Revanche is passionate, dark, brooding, talky and disturbing at times. The thing I enjoyed the most about this film was its slow pace. The entire film seems to move in real time (albeit over the course of a few days) and this really lets you dig in to these complex characters in a way that a faster paced film might not be able to do.

At times I thought some of the parts were a bit too convenient or contrived but over all the subtly of the film not only saves it but makes it a terrific film. Not 'terrific' in that when you get done watching it you'll be like "Wow, what a great flick!" Actually, many of you when the film ends will be like "Whaa?" but film is terrific in that it sticks with you. As subtle as it is, I found it stuck with me a while in my thoughts.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Gates of Heaven Pet Funeral Documentary

There are plenty of people who love their pets dearly. Some love their pets more than anything on Earth.  Their pets mean more to them than even some of their close relatives.  Some people will do anything for the animals they own.

"Gates of Heaven" is a documentary film that focuses on the Pet funeral business in California.  It was made in the 1970's and true to filmmaker Errol Morris' form, centers around a real-life cast of people with diverse and overwhelming personalities.

There is no narration. The film is driven largely by the dialog of the people being interviewed.  The cast includes the owner of a failed pet cemetary, the father and sons of a successful pet cemetary, an operator of a dead animal processing center (they make fuel or dogfood or  something from animal remains) and a bunch pet owners.

Who knows what is going on in this film?  It's pretty open for interpretation.  Sure you learn a bit about the business of disposing of dead animals but the movie feels as though it gets off-track, perhaps intentionally way-off track at times, and loses itself in the personalities of its characters.

The characters are certainly all west coast USA, white, affluent types but they are a motley bunch.  At times their viewpoints are hilarious, deeply personal, informative and, just as often, pathetic.  This zany bunch makes the film feel like a dead-pan parody of the pet funeral business but this film is not a parody at all.  It is quite serious and that is what makes it all the more interesting.

Documentary buffs out there, Errol Morris wrote this film. If you have never seen an Errol Morris film, this one would be a good one to start with just to get your feet wet.  You might hate it, you might love it,  but his style of letting the movie unfold on its own through individual monologues from each of the cast sometimes makes me wonder if the whole world is goofy or if he is just turning the mirror on ourselves?  I tend to believe both.

Here's another Movie Review on Best Movie Reviews By TurtleDog

After you see this Liam Neeson wolf movie, you'll wish there were more pet funerals, at least up in Alaska.  Check out my review of Liam Neeson and his 'wolf' movie The Grey

Like Al Pacino? See him  in a terrific Heathcoat Williams play turned movie called Local Stigmatic on DVD


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Local Stigmatic - Al Pacino Heathcoat Williams Short Film

I wish there were more short films with such quality acting but I guess there simply isn't a market for it. "The Local Stigmatic" is a short movie (58 minutes) that follows a pair of close friends whose relationship carries a veiled sense of intimacy powered by a sociopathic game they play on unsuspecting victims. If you are thinking this is just another crime flick though, you are wrong. There are no investigations, police chases, chest pumping, hostage taking or any of the other actions you'd might expect. This film is a dialog-driven character study or sorts of two Englishmen who live in their own shadowy world apart from the rest of mainstream England.