Monday, December 6, 2010

Black Swan

I've been away from my site for about 5 months now and without going into detail about why, needless to say, I'm back! What a great 2010 Summer it's been for films, and with it all closing into the new year we are also having one hell of an award season. With films like Inception, Toy Story 3, The Social Network, 127 Hours, Winters Bone, The Town, The Fighter, and Black Swan, I have been very busy at the theater in the past few months. Still on the way this year we have True Grit, Tron: Legacy, and my most anticipated film of the year....Blue Valentine. I'm going to start my return to this site with my review of Black Swan which I saw earlier today.

I was expecting nothing short of being entertained to the fullest while walking into the theater with the digital marque above reading Black Swan. I was so excited as I walked to my seat. I was heading into the ring to face one of the most talented people in the biz....Darren Aronofsky. Not only does this guy have a rep for beating the shit out of his actors and bringing the best out of them, he also tends to have the same effect on his audience. So instead of putting up a fight I just sat back, relaxed, and took a beating. It was great.

The film stars Natalie Portman as Nina, an obsessive ballet dancer who just scored the lead role in the production of Swan Lake. As she struggles to prepare for the role physically and mentally she comes to realize that it's much harder than she thought. The exceptional supporting cast includes Mila Kunis as Lily, the extraordinary Barbara Hershey as Nina's mother Erica, Winona Ryder as Beth, and Vincent Cassel as Thomas Leroy the director of Swan Lake. Every performance is great in this film but the one who really shines is Portman. As I watched her battle her demons on screen, deal with her over protective and obsessive mother, and dance on as good as any professional ballet dancer I've seen, I was wooed. Just learning the art of basic ballet on it's own would be too much for a lot of actors out there to take on. Portman takes it to the next level. Barbara Hershey plays one of the creepiest mothers I've seen in film this year and she's absolutely flawless as she not only loves her daughter more than ever, but also psychotically obsesses over her at the same time. Mila Kunis' Lily is wild, careless, sexy, and seductive. Need I say more?

The score is soft and elegant piano in some scenes and eery as hell in others. The cinematography is very similar to The Wrestler with the close behind shots of Portman walking around and with the sudden quick close-ups which make for some great jumps of sheer fright for the audience. Black Swan is destined to get a whole bunch of noms and wins this awards season. I could talk about it more but not without giving away it's secrets. Black Swan gets an 8 outs 10.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Iron Man 2

The start of the Summer movie madness has officially begun!! The sun is out, the weather is hot as hell, and Iron Man 2 is finally here!! I love everything about the Summer time. But the things I like most are the Summer blockbusters that soar into theaters and create sell out midnight showings and cheering crowds. It's almost like going to a rock concert every Friday for 3 months straight....except better. This Summer started off quite nicely with Iron Man 2 as I had the pleasure of seeing it opening night this past Thursday at midnight.

If you haven't already seen the first Iron Man just stop what you're doing and go buy it now, it's great. If you have then you're like me and have been waiting for the sequel ever since the credits started to roll after the first one. The film opens with the Russian Ivan Vanko, played by Mickey Rourke, sitting by his father as he dies right there at his side. Ivan can I put this....fucking PISSED. For some reason or another we learn in the following scene that this is somehow Tony Starks fault and Ivan immediately goes to work on his own suit to be able to get revenge on Tony and the Stark family name. We then cut to Stark flying into his own Expo in the Iron Man suit followed by a court appearance where we then learn that he has yet another enemy who want's to put Stark out of biz, Justin Hammer, played by Sam Rockwell. Following that scene we realize that Tony is becoming poisoned by the Iron Man chest piece heart thing and he's slowly dying. That's really the entire story right there in a nutshell.

After an incredible scene at the Monte Carlo race track in Italy where Vanko and Stark battle it out, Justin Hammer soon realizes that he needs Vanko's skills, badly if he wants to create a suit that's tough enough to face the Iron Man. Hammer soon breaks Vanko out of jail and they immediately get to work. Vanko and Hammer were my favorite characters in the film and although Robert Downy Jr. is always great, I thought Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell did the best acting jobs in the film. Rourke spent some time off screen in a Russian prison to conduct research fro the role, researched and learned how to speak the Russian language, and apparently wore his own clothes during his scenes. His overall appearance was a little over the top but I actually really liked it. It was original.

Although it was fun I definitely had some complaints with the film. First off there's about a half hour of the film in the middle that I thought was really bad. It's the scene where Stark has a birthday party at his house and he ends up fighting War Machine. It was so over the top, goofy, and just kinda stupid. It just didn't work for me. Second, I hated how War Machine (Rhodey) was introduced. I mean he just hops in the suit and starts fighting Iron Man, his friend, at his own party. I understand why he did it but I thought it was poorly done and I thought in place of that ENTIRE party scene/fight we should have seen Rhodey actually learn how to use the suit. It would've been more epic. Now the result is that I don't give a shit about the War Machine character, they lost my interest now. Also they should've just kept Terrance Howard in the role because Don Cheadle didn't bring jack to the role, he sucked. Thirdly, Tony was a TAD just a TAD over the top with all his comedy. I mean it was to the point where I didn't believe that Tony Stark could even have a serious conversation with someone without cracking a joke and talking a mile a minute. But I DID like him, that was just a minor set back for me.

All in all I enjoyed Iron Man 2 but not quite as much as the first one. It's definitely a blu-ray that I will buy for sure and watch many more times, especially the Monte Carlo scene. Also another thing I loved was John Favreau's character, Happy Hogan. He was hilarious in this and had much more screen time than in the first one. Favs did a great job playing him. SPOILER- Stay after the credits to see Thor's hammer. Iron Man 2 gets a 7 outa 10.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Finally after all the buzz and anticipation, yesterday afternoon during opening weekend I was able to see Kick-Ass!! I used to really be into comic books when I was a kid and had a pretty large collection. I was really into Flash, Green Lantern, and Superman. But I admit that I fell out of the comic book phase and although many people stick with it well into their adult hood, I just fell out. But I do still like them and I may get back into them when I head back to LA, there's some great comic shops out there and that's where I actually read the first issue of Kick-Ass....and I immediately thought to myself "this is a freaking great idea, I can't wait till they make this into a feature film".

Kick-Ass is about a not so popular high school kid named Dave Lizewski. He and his only two friends are obsessed with comics and spend most of their time hanging out at the comic book shop. His life really isn't all that bad, but one day he just says to himself "why has nobody ever tried to become a superhero?" So with no training and no superpowers David orders a crazy looking wet-suit, a couple batons, and dons himself with the name Kick-Ass. I really don't want to give too much of the story away here but after getting his ass kicked Kick-Ass soon joins forces if you will with Hit-Girl, Big Daddy, and Red Mist and team up against a group of ruthless criminals. Well kind'll see.

The film is hilarious, original, and loaded with hard hitting violent action that had me trembling in my seat during a few scenes they were so intense. The film is directed by Matthew Vaughn who's two other films are Layer Cake and Stardust which are both very well done and very well shot films. He has certainly out done himself with Kick-Ass on all the levels I listed above. The cast was extraordinary with Aaron Johnson as Kick-Ass, McLovin as Red Mist, Mark Strong as the head villain Frank, Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy, and the one who stole the show and kicked the most ass.... 13 year old Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl. Hit Girl rocks the freaking house, saves the day numerous times, sheds the most blood, and has the funniest lines of dialogue I've heard from a kid that age, ever. It's like watching a young version of the Bride from Kill Bill except I think that Hit Girl may be able to kick the Brides ass. Some of the stuff she does is just amazing. You root for her on screen and when she's through killing everyone we the audience just laugh and shake our heads saying "OH MY GOD....THAT WAS....AWESOME." There is a scene where she goes on an absolute rampage in a dark warehouse that is so well shot, edited, scored, and choreographed my heart was literally beating out of my chest in excitement. It was my favorite scene in the film and I won't give any more away about it.

I highly recommend that everyone goes out to see this immediately. If you aren't of age and your uncool parents refuse to take you, just buy a ticket to something else and sneak in. I cannot wait to get this on blu-ray as there are so many great scenes that I'll be watching over and over again as well as the film in it's entirety obviously. I really hope they make a sequel and that word gets out about how good this is. I give Kick-Ass a 9/10.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I had a chance to see Chloe the last Thursday at the indi theater downtown which only shows one film at a time. They were losing it on Friday so decided to give it a shot since I had heard mildly interesting/controversial things about the film.

The film is about a woman who hires a prostitute to make a pass at her husband to see if he accepts after she fears he's been cheating on her. Julianne Moore plays Catherine, a doctor, wife, and mother who feels completely left out and unwanted from her husband and sons lives. When her husband David, played by Liam Neeson, "misses" his flight home on his birthday of all days Catherine grows suspicious and after finding a picture of him and a female student together on his pone the next day she decides to investigate the matter even further. That's where prostitute Chloe comes into play, played by Amanda Seyfried of Big Love fame. After Catherine sees Chloe leaving the company of numerous different men from the building next to her office she decides to meet with her and make her the offer to go after David. A test for David if you will.

As the film goes on we realize that Chloe has plans of her own and things start to get a little creepy. Catherine herself starts to slowly break down after she realizes the mess she's gotten herself into. The performances were okay. Julianne Moore is always good but she's really starting to annoy me with her whole pouty and whiney looking face. It's like she's crying in every damn movie she's in in almost every scene, it's just too much. Liam is always pleasant to watch but he's more of a supporting role here and we really don't see all that much of him as the film mainly focuses on Catherine and Chloe.

Director Antom Egoyan has always had a thing for erotic thrillers and that's mostly what he's made in the past with such films as Exotica and Where The Truth Lies. Chloe is in the same category for sure but it just didn't push the limits far enough for me. It just seemed to be holding something back and didn't go all out as the final scene for example seemed incredibly cheap and poorly done. But it is an interesting film to watch, the characters were entertaining, and although the ending was bad there's a pretty good twist about 3/4 of the way through the film that I never really saw coming. Chloe gets a 6/10.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Cruise

I had discovered the documentary The Cruise from watching a clip on Rotten Tomatoes that was Edward Nortons 5 favorite films of all time. The Cruise happened to be his favorite film of all time so with Norton being one of my favorite actors of all time, I immediately started searching for it and low and behold it was on the glorious Netflix instant view.

The Cruise is a 1998 documentary that follows Timothy "Speed" Levitch, a tour guide for New York City's double-decker Gray Line busses. This guy knows just about everything there is to know about NYC. He talks a mile a minute, he's flamboyant, he says what he wants, and he means what he says. He knows about the true history of the city as well as the architecture. I'm not sure if he went to school for architecture or not, I'm pretty sure he didn't, but he probably knows more about it than someone that did.

We come to find out that he only makes a few hundred dollars a week but gets a real joy out of teaching people about the city and making them happy. He certainly doesn't agree with current society and strives to be different and to not live in the shoes of someone who wants to follow all the rules and be a "sucker to society" so to say. I must admit he makes some really valid points on what is expected of humans in this world and how if we don't follow these paths of being "successful" that we're immediately shit on as outcasts. Yes he babbles on and on during the film but it really all makes sense and it's entertaining as hell to watch him strut around the city in his polka dotted jacket and his crazy hair flying all around.

There is a scene in this film where Timothy stands in between the Two Towers and spins around and around to make himself dizzy and then lays on the ground looking up. He stated earlier in the film that this was his favorite thing to do as it appears as though the Two Towers are crashing down upon you. This scene is absolutely beautiful and almost brought a tear to my eye. Timothy "Speed" Levitch may seem like a crazy person at first glance but he's really a beautiful human being with an extraordinary outlook on life and all it's beauty that so many people in this world pass by every day without even noticing. The Cruise gets a 4 and 1/2 outa 5.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I've been meaning to see Fido for quite some time now. I remember always passing it at the Blockbuster in LA at Labrea and Wilshire but never ever renting it. Anyways I had some time last night to sit down and watch it on Netflix instant which is streaming it in HD by the way, so if you have that, check it out.

Fido takes place in the 1950's in a small quiet suburb town that's fenced in from the outside world where zombies run loose in the wild. The zombies that are in the suburb have special electric collars around their necks to keep them under control like pets. People use their own personal zombies to mow their lawns, deliver milk, and to wave at people as they enter the town. When the Robinson's realize they're the only family on the block without one, Mrs. Robinson quickly acquires one and her young son Timmy soon forms a special bond with the zombie and gives him the name Fido.
After Fido saves Timmy from a couple of bullies he gets attacked by an old lady who happens to accidentally break Fido's collar causing him to kill her. Timmy then has to protect Fido form getting sent away back to the "other side" of the fence.

The film has a really great look to it with bright colors and a great 50's feel. Like how all the wives kind of act like robots in the 50's. It's got a look and feel of Edward Scissorhands, Pleasantville, and Dawn of the Dead all mixed as one. It's a very original script and story idea too that offers family fun, emotion, comedy, and gore. The entire cast was great. Carrie-Anne Moss as Mrs. Robinson, Tim Blake Nelson as Mr. Theopolis the neighbor, and of course Billy Connolly as Fido. They were all flawless. Carrie-Anne Moss looks absolutely stunning in this film and delivers some of her best acting ever. Just watching her prance around as this 50's house's amazing. I'm not sure what the budget was on this film but it looked fantastic and I'll be buying this on blu-ray when I get a chance. Go and rent or buy this film asap. I give Fido a 4 outa 5.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Date Night

So I saw Date Night opening night last Friday in downtown Charlottesville at the theater I worked at for a day, so of course I had to sneak around all the employees Mission Impossible style which is always fun. Anyways we got there a little late and got stuck in the second row but it actually didn't turn out to be that bad of a seat other than the super drunk guy next to us was burping and laughing like a drunky.

Date Night is about a couple who steals the reservation of another no-show couple at a nice restaurant and soon gets themselves involved in a serious scandal as they get chased around NYC by crooked cops who are trying to kill them. Steve Carrel and Tina Fey play the Fosters, a couple who aren't exactly questioning the legitimacy of their marriage but they're definitely missing something and there's a bit of tension. In an attempt to change things up a bit they decide to head to the city for their weekly date night and eat at a nice restaurant instead of the normal. This is where things go awry and the action starts.

The film has a strange feel throughout as it's really a mixture of drama, comedy, and action and you're not really sure what feeling to expect next. Sometimes it goes from an intense chase scene to them arguing and an awkward silence fills the theater, but it works for the most part. The comedy is definitely more toned down than that of lets say The Hangover or Superbad, but that's how Tina Fey's last film Baby Mama was too. Fey doesn't go out of her way to deliver comedy or to be noticed which is good, she just kind of has it and it's more realistic in a sense. Carrel is also more toned down in this. I'm not saying there aren't scenes that are dirty and funny, there are. Especially a hilarious scene where Fey and Carrel have to strip in front of a man at strip club. There aren't too many over the top crazy action scenes either with the exception of a really cool and funny car chase scene with J.B. Smoove from Curb Your Enthusiasm. But having everything toned down like that gives the film a more realistic feeling and I think that's what director Shawn Levy was going for.

The performances were good and there are some cameo's by James Franco, Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg, and Mark Ruffalo that were pretty decent. It shows them in the trailer so I'm not giving anything away here. There's really just no such thing as a surprise cameo these days and it sucks. Wahlberg doesn't do too much in his scenes other than walk around without a shirt on but he does bring some really funny stuff out of Carrel's character during those scenes. Tina Fey is on a role so far with feature films and although I liked Baby Mama a bit better than this, I'll still be looking forward to her next for sure. I give Date Night a 3 and a 1/2 outa 5.