5 Quick Pics

The Girlfriend Experience (Soderberg, 2009) LOVE the way this film looks and I found the script very funny.  At the end the amateurish acting doesn’t distract. *** 1/2 / ***** Drag Me to Hell (Raimi, 2009) The scariest film I’ve seen in years.  Alison Lohman charms as usual and the kitsch works throughout. **** / ***** In the Heat of the Night (Jewison, 1967) Satisfying in the way Rod Steiger’s sheriff slowly develops a vague appreciation of Poiter’s Mr. Tibbs without being overly preachy in the slightest way.  Instilled with a wry sense of humor and stands up well to … Continue reading 5 Quick Pics

Entourage (2008 – 5.11, 5.12)

Familiarity breed’s contempt?  Not in the case of the seasons finale (s) of Season 5, Episode 11: Play’n with Fire and Episode 12: Return to Queens Blvd. Amazing how Wahlberg, Ellin, Levinson, and Weinstein, etal deliver in this series beyond what even The Sopranos did at the same point in their series history.  Play’n with Fire is as brilliant as anything ever done in this series with Stellan Skarsgård as the maniacal director Verner Vollstedt behind Vince’s lead comeback in the laughingly titled “Smoke Jumpers.”  5.11, which serves as the climactic episode, has opening pyrotechnic scenes that are observed by … Continue reading Entourage (2008 – 5.11, 5.12)

W. (Oliver Stone, 2008)

[not much of a spoiler] W., one of the most underrated films of Oliver Stone, is a collection of set pieces documenting the life and times of former President George W. Bush.  The film has surprising nuance, poignancy, acting (top-notch), editing, directing, writing, technical achievement and it doesn’t seek to hit you over the head with content as per Stone’s 1995 biopic Nixon – other than that, the film stinks! The opening scene has a group of Bush men (and woman) determining what to call the “evil” triumvirate of Iran, Iraq and North Korea and talking, ala 12 Angry Men, … Continue reading W. (Oliver Stone, 2008)

The Happening (M. Night Shyamalan, 2008)

1.   Worst direction in the performance of extras – many instances of smiling children at the time of worst peril. 2.   Worst moment in film history– Wahlberg singing the Doobie Brothers’ Black Water. 3.   Worst diffusing comic banter of any disaster film ever made. 4.   Second Worst moment film history– Wahlberg’s conversation with the plant. 5.   Best looking leads (Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel) who maintain fine apparel and pristine makeup throughout the calamity. 6.   Most disinteresting and superficial insertion of marital problems in a complete failed attempt at story narrative. 7.   The worst case of “I cannot believe what I am watching here” ever. 8.   Worst case of … Continue reading The Happening (M. Night Shyamalan, 2008)

The Visitor (Thomas McCarthy, 2008)

A very sweet story that Richard Jenkins (economics Prof. Walter Vale) was just meant to play.  The feeling I am left with is altruism in it’s purest form, beyond even the backdrop of 9/11 deportation which is somewhat of a political misstep in the film anyway.  Vale, despondent from his mundane existence is reinvigorated by discovering an illegal couple living in a NY property of his but not one he frequents.  There should be more excitement in economics than this.  Vale bonds immediately with the male lead in a mutual love for music.  The film is not without its faults:  … Continue reading The Visitor (Thomas McCarthy, 2008)

The Strangers (Bryan Bertino, 2008)

Crack, craSHH, scream, click.  Good sound design.  Is that it?  About it.  Not sure if this was some Funny Games copy gone awry or an honest attempt at box office penetration, or both.  The first act is really cool, the relationship stuff and how the plot points are delivered in a kind of choppy flash forward / flash back / etc way that works.  Yet after that the pic deteriorates into the genre norm minute by minute, cut by cut. Lord, I gotta say one thing – Liv Tyler has never looked more beautiful on film and plays a great … Continue reading The Strangers (Bryan Bertino, 2008)

Burn After Reading (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2008)

I think its fits in nicely within the Coen ouevre (i.e. people, sometimes dumb, sometimes not, getting involved in situations way over the heads) and they must have needed a break after they’re masterpiece of No Country for Old Men and the grand attention it got….the problem with the film is that the thriller aspects of the film occur too late into the third act. So, in the meantime, the audience has to get by on enjoying the wild, over the top acting…..which is pretty good for the most part. However, if you are going to cast Pitt AND Clooney … Continue reading Burn After Reading (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2008)

Lakeview Terrace (Neil LaBute, 2008)

Your run of the mill thriller with few surprises.  The material is so dated that it comes off as a training manual in how to make a thriller about race relations.  Its not poorly done at all and a few sequences are surprisingly funny (the chainsaw scene).  The oncoming fires are a silly but somewhat effective device as the tension builds.  But overall, I was pretty bored.  Nice score. ** / ***** Continue reading Lakeview Terrace (Neil LaBute, 2008)

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)

So sensual, so Woody…What?!!  Do I have a Woody Allen?  Jesus, this was the sexiest thing I’ve seen recently other than my friend (deleted)’s porno collection.  Rebecca Hall, ScarJo (and she was just fine Filmspotters other than the annoying dark eyebrows – was that by design?) and Cruz, ahh, wow.  Then you add a little Bardem and randomize the sexual dalliances and you are left breathless when added with the sublime cinematography of Barcelona from Javier Aguirresarobe and the flawless story arc from our greatest living American director.  Has all the vibrance of Match Point and the best of Woody’s … Continue reading Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen, 2008)

Standard Operating Procedure (Errol Morris, 2008)

I believe the main principles involved lacked a little something upstairs if you know what I mean.  I say this with sympathy because its clear, and Morris proves it so, that these MPs were out of their element and seemingly just obeying orders with their wheels (and psychotic in the case of Graner) off behavior.  This is a film about the power of photography and Morris crafts it in such a way that even makes his more excessive sequences (e.g. the rather drawn out bit that lines up the three Sony camera images and timeline) acceptable.  Morris’ “interrogation” technique is … Continue reading Standard Operating Procedure (Errol Morris, 2008)