Thursday, March 29, 2012

Belated Review: Secretariat

I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to see this film.  I had heard some mixed reviews and I had mixed feelings about Seabiscuit.  I didn't want it to be a replay of that film.

However, I do like horse racing plots (I'm a huge fan of Dick Francis), and I do remember hearing about the Secretariat as a child.  Also, I was curious as to why Craig Ferguson had a fake horse by that name on his talk show.  So that was enough to take the chance.

Overall the film was well done and very engaging.  I found the story to be interesting and it held my interest throughout.  I think as an overall story it flowed much better than Seabiscuit, which seemed to assume that the audience had read the novel or educated themselves enough ahead of time to excuse the lack of exposition at the beginning of that film.

John Malkovitch is only marginally better in this than Dangerous Liaisons.  Here he plays a French-Canadian named Lucien Laurin.  His French-Canadian accent was terrible, especially his pronunciation of his own name.  Considering how proud he was, you'd think he'd get that right.  It's not "Looshun".  It's "Loo-See-En".  And it's not "Lawrenn".  It's "Law-Ran" with the "N" being almost silent at the end of both names.  I can accept the American characters' mispronunciation, but not his own.

Still, aside from that he had some bright moments, and it was a well done film.

Oh, and I think I figured out the whole Craig Ferguson thing.  Very funny.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Belated Review: The Deal

William H. Macy wrote, produced  and starred in this film which also featured Meg Ryan, Jason Ritter and LL Cool J. It's a comedy about a down-on-his-luck producer who decides he's going to get one of the major studios to agree to film a movie about Benjamin Disraeli, only it has to star the recently-converted-to-Judaism action star played by LL Cool J. Elliot Gould is in this as a rabbi who also serves as technical advisor.

There's a lot of jokes about Hollywood, lots of Hebrew spoken by LL Cool J, lots of deal-making scenes that are quite clever (and probably true), and a few really funny moments.

It was an amusing film, but for the most part it didn't have the strength for a theatrical release.  I'm not sure if it has been screened anywhere since I saw it a few year ago.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Belated Review: The Brothers Bloom

I wanted to like it this film, but in the end I didn't.

This was a movie about a couple of con men, this time two brothers. One was the true master of the plan, while the other reluctantly carried it out with him.

It starred Adrien Brody, Mark Rufalo and Rachel Weisz.

My problem with the film was that the whole thing was a con. There were no moments of revelation - not even at the end - no moment of reality, though they seemed to tease us with it from time to time.

Also, my biggest gripe about the movie was the sloppy feel of it. There were at least two situations in the film that were never resolved, and writer/director admitted to us at the screening that he felt he didn't need to resolve it.  He said that the audience could figure it out on their own. I disagreed with him on that.  While I don't mind that concept, not everything can be imagined by the audience.

I like films that make you think and leave things to the imagination, but this one felt a bit lazy.  Just leaving a scene out isn't enough. There has to be something worth talking about.  Leaving a hole isn't the same as an open ended film or dropping a hint that could go in any direction.

He purposely omitted key plot-points because he confessed that he couldn't come up with a good way to effectively present them.  There was another instance in the film where he raised our curiosity about something in a scene, but never answered the question.  And there's one or two more instances that cried for an explanation, but we didn't get one.

I wanted to like this film. There are hilarious moments with a Japanese girl, played by Rinko Kikuchi, who likes to blow things up. They call her Bang Bang. To me she was the funniest, best character in the film, but I was the only one in the theater who laughed at her jokes.

Unless you like the eye candy of the cast, I would pass on this film.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Belated Review: Day Break

This is an Iranian film. It was an interesting movie exploring the act of forgiveness of convicted murderers in the country's prisons. It's part of the religious law that the family of the victim has the right to accept forgiveness from the killer. By doing so they spare him his life. He still has to pay a fine or sign over property as determined by the victim's family, and he has to serve a jail term.

If the family doesn't forgive one member has to administer the execution. This falls under the "eye for an eye" belief. If someone else executes the convict it is considered murder.

Anyway, this movie explores this as we follow one man though his stay at a Teheran prison, where he's already been brought up for execution and delayed twice because the victim's family failed to show up. We watch and wait to see if he will be forgiven or not. It's a fictional story based on real events.

It's a good film. At bit slow in points, but they worked for me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Belated Review: Mongol

Mongol is a film about Gengis Kahn from childhood until he started to unify Mongolia.

I thought it was a good film along the lines of Hero and House of Flying Daggers, but without the 360 degree camerawork and martial arts. This was more like Braveheart with a lot less fighting scenes, but like Hero in the sense that it had some sweeping landscapes and beautiful imagery.

I never learned about Gengis Kahn in school, so I knew very little about him. Apparently, there is no real documented history about him, only stories from people whose lands he captured. The movie paints him in a positive light.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Belated Reviews: 9.99, The Messenger and Precious

Too short to separate.  I highly recommend The Messenger.  Precious was excellent as well.  See below:

Film:  9.99

A bizarre animated film about a bunch of people living in a high-rise apartment complex, each one trying to find meaning in their lives.  One man finds the love of his life and does anything she asks of him, which makes him as happy as she is, no matter how odd the request.

There are other stories, but that's one of the more memorable ones.  This film is a puzzlement.  I really wasn't sure what I was supposed to get from it.

It features voices from today's top Australian actors including Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia.

 Film:  The Messenger

Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster star as two US soldiers stationed in New Jersey who are assigned to visit relatives and break the news of the death of their loved ones. It was very well done. It shows how these two men cope with the job and what wounds of their own they're carrying. For once, NJ was depicted in a better light, although they still mainly show the blue-collar areas.


Film: Precious

A very powerful film. It's well done, but it's a bit difficult to watch.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Belated Review: The Dukes

This movie is about a few former members of a do-wap (a capella) group who keep trying to get jobs making money performing their hits. Sadly, they haven't had much luck, instead doing lame TV commercials. Two of the leaders of the group (Robert Davi and Chazz Palmentari) work for their aunt in her Italian restaurant. Their goal is to settle down and open their own restaurant, but they have no money to do so.

So without giving too much away, the film is a comedy about what capers these guys get into to try to get money to buy a restaurant. Robert Davi wrote and directed this film, which also stars Peter Bogdonovitch, as a sympathetic tour manager, and Miriam Margolyes as their Aunt Vee. :)

There's some great familiar faces in this like Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues) and Joseph Campanella, who has a very nice, brief appearance in the film. :)

Both Robert Davi and Chazz Palmintari can sing and they used to perform as singers before they became actors. Robert does sing in the film.

The movie itself was entertaining, but I found it a bit slow moving until about 1/2 way through. Then it picked up steam. Still, it's a nice film and I would recommend it. :)