Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

Afterlife 2009, **1/2, R

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

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Starring: Christina Ricci, Justin Long, Liam Neeson

 

By Meredith A. Iager

 

Christina Ricci and Justin Long star in this lifeless and frustrated, cold movie about unfinished business and turmoil that could happen to us when we pass on. 

 

School teacher, Anna Taylor (Cristina Ricci, “Pumpkin,” “Casper”) is caught between life and death, after fight with her boyfriend Paul Coleman (Justin Long, “Accepted,” “Jeepers Creepers”). 

 

She storms out of the restaurant and immediately gets into a fatal car accident, and ends up in the basement of a funeral parlor, here mortician, Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson, “Taken,” “Batman Begins”) begins to explain to her she has died, and he is fixing her up to look beautiful for her funeral.  He tries to calm her of her worries, and explain that she is moving on to another life.

 

Distraught by the events, her boyfriend Paul is told by one of Anna’s students, a young boy named Jack (Chandler Canterbury, “Knowing,” “Repo Men”), that he saw Ms. Taylor walking around upstairs in the funeral parlor.  Paul soon believes that possibly Mr. Deacon (Liam Neeson) is really keeping her alive in the funeral home. 

 

This film is very emotional, and very uneasy.  It is horrifying to believe that once we pass on, we could be in severe distress, and not move toward what many believe is the “light.”

 

I think this film isn’t for everyone.  I think you have to have some what of a grip on life and death, and it would be very emotional for many people to view this.  The film does have a nice twist; however, it does have similarities to films like “Ghost,” and “White Noise.”

 

I liked this film because Christina Ricci is one of my favorite actresses and she really does an excellent job of getting into her roles.  Over the past 3 years, I have watched more Liam Neeson films, and really have noticed his wide range of roles.  This film portrays him as an actor of substance and you cant tell which way his character of Mr. Deacon is going in this film.  It’s a movie you have to watch with close intent on understanding what’s going to happen next.

 

Only watch this film if paranormal and after death experience, don’t upset you — because this film will leave you, uneasy.

 

Charlie St. Cloud, 2010, ****1/2, PG-13

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

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Starring: Zac Efron, Charlie Tahan, Kim Basinger, Amanda Crew, Ray Liotta

 

By Meredith A. Iager

 

I knew this would be one of my favorite dramas when I saw the trailer and I don’t have that happen often.  This is one of the more powerful movies in the past 3 years, and is truly outstanding, yet a tear-jerker.  Everyone should see this movie.  It connects life, death, what you’re passionate about, and how to move on from unexpected tragedy, and seeing things for what they are.

 

Off the coast of Maine, in a small boating town, life’s about taking the second chances God gives you, and going with your gut, in this drama-slice-of-life film.  Charlie St. Cloud (Zac Efron, “High School Musical”) is an avid wind-surfing champion along with his brother.  Tragically, soon after they win the race, Charlie and his brother Sam (Charlie Tahan, “Nights in Rodanthe”) get in a horrific car accident, and Sam dies, and Charlie flat lines, but is brought back to the living by EMT Florio Ferrente (Ray Liotta).

 

Before Sam passes on, Charlie promised him he would train with him 1 hour a day baseball lessons.  Sams’ passion in life was collecting baseball cards, and learning how to be a pro. And he continues his promise even when his brother is in limbo between earth and seeing the light and passing on.

 

As Charlie begins to play baseball with Sam, he starts to take a liking to an old classmate Tess (Amanda Crew, “She’s The Man”).  He starts to forget about Sam, and Sam slowly disappears.  But there are larger complications to the story that will make you baffled, but wanting to understand more of the story.  Just get it and watch the new Blu-Ray!

 

We defiantly get a flavor of more things to come from actor Zac Efron, and I’m more excited to see new projects from him in the future, now that his “High School Musical” teeny-bopper smash hits have subsided.   I also must note Charlie Tahan (Sam) and Amanda Crew (Tess) are also excellent in this film, and really make it special. 

 

Put this DVD on your holiday check list.  This is a keeper and one to watch at least once a year, to keep you in check of what you need to do in life.  Never forget your passions, never forget your dreams, and no matter what, after tragedy, life will move on, greater than it did before.

 

The Last Song, 2010, *** PG

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

 

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Starring: Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Greg Kinnear, Kelly Preston

 

I can never have enough of Nicolas Sparks and his beachy love and life drama-romances.  His latest novel turned movie is simply excellent, however, it seemed like it went by very fast.  I no sooner hit “buy” on the On Demand service, and boom, the movie was almost over.  I think I just enjoyed it so much, it flew by! 

 

Ronnie Miller (Miley Cyrus, “Hannah Montana: The Movie”) is driven down by her mom (Kelly Preston) down to her father’s (Greg Kinnear, “Godsend,” “The Matador”) home on the shore in Georgia for the summer, along with her younger brother Jonah (Bobby Coleman, “Post Grad,” “Martian Child”).  Her relationship with her father hasn’t been too great since her parents divorced and he headed south, not to mention, they are very similar in personality, and both share the gifted, musical gene of playing the piano. 

 

Soon after Ronnie arrives she starts falling for a local rich boy (Liam Hemsworth, “Knowing”) and they start becoming an item in town; making all the ex-girlfriends of his very jealous.  The boy-thing sure helps Ronnie out, and making her relax more, start to talk with her father, and have a fresh slate for their relationship.

 

The film takes a downward spiral when she learns her father’s health has been compromised for some time.  This is probably the most heart wrenching part of the movie, and some great acting by Bobby Coleman (Jonah, Ronnie’s younger brother).

 

You need to watch this film, it’s a good one.

Remember Me, 2010, ****, PG-13

Monday, August 16th, 2010

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Starring: Robert Pattinson, Emilie De Raven, Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Lena Olin

Meredith A. Iager

Remember Me,” is not just a movie about a first real love, its about coping with life when tragedy happens, and dealing with parents as a teenager.  It also reminds us of the horrific day we remember as September 11th; something I believe is a good reminder for those individuals who seem to forget what these terrorists are capable of, and why we are at war. The film takes place in New York City.

The film centers on Tyler Hawkins (Robert Pattinson, “The Twilight Saga” Movies, “Little Ashes“) a teen distraught by the loss of his brother, and the lack of his father (Pierce Brosnan, “The Matador,” “The Thomas Crown Affair“) big wig lawyer.  He’s a good brother for his younger sister, the protector type, and wants his father to be aware that he has children, and be more involved in their lives.

Hawkins meets Ally (Emilie De Raven) on purpose, and his goofball room-mate thinks its a good idea.  Soon, the pair are inseparable, and fall in love.  They both have similar trust issues, and seem to click together and make a balanced couple.

This film is sad, and shows how people develop certain fears, and why the world is such a different place than it was for the baby boomers.  I think it is a film that you will learn from, and is what I call a slice-of-life romance.  This is an excellent film.

Pattinson really shows his talent in this one.  Only watch this if you are in a drama genre mood.

Dear John, 2010, ***1/2, PG-13

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

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Starring: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried

Another Nicolas Sparks novel is adapted’ directed by Lasse Holstrom (“The Cider House Rules,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”). They seem to be a regular thing now, about every 2.5 years… This is definitely not a bad thing! The aftermath of 9/11 sent US Troops to war with Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries. This has created many families, and other relationships to crumble or thrive on the separation makes the heart grow stronger, or to whatever extent you might believe in…

John Tyree (Channing Tatum, “Fighting,” “Step Up”) is a solider in the US Army. He is home on leave with his father (Richard Jenkins, “Step Brothers”), in Wilmington, N.C. He randomly runs into a College bound Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried, “Jennifer’s Body,” “Mean Girls”) on the beach one afternoon, when her purse falls off the pier, and he dives into save it. (I think it would have been better if she got knocked off the pier and he saved her — now that would have made the story more believable (he saves her life, they fall in mad love) ..don’t you think?

Basically, this love-sick saga is through the powerful tool of pen, paper, and a stamp…over a year they write back and forth, then she tells him some bad news, and you think their romance is over… Well I guess you’ll have to find out.

I gained a lot more respect for Channing Tatum as an actor in this film. He has done mostly kiddie type movies, but I guess everyone has to start somewhere. He’s a good looking guy, ripped, and really shows he can pull off the emotional part of the script, well.

Check this one out on DVD, today. This is a must buy for Sparks movie collectors.

Twilight, 2008, **, PG-13

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

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This flick is based on the Stephenie Meyer series, “The Twilight Saga.”‘  It is a very mundane teen vampire romance-drama, that somehow despite it’s lack of true vampire-ism, it grows on you, and you learn to love it!   It might dissapoint if you are unfamiliar with the books, and you are a vampire movie connoisseur.

Bella, (Kristen Stewart, “The Messengers,” “Into the Wild”) who moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father, town Sheriff (Billy Burke). Her new high school classmates all have different agendas, especially one particular group of siblings, the Cullen’s. She takes a particular hot and heavy interest in the suave, yet awkward and perfect Edward Cullen (Pattinson, “Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire”).  He takes a deep interest in her as well, and she soon realizes the kid is a tad freaky, and definitely has a secret. Women—curiosity killed the cat.

“Twilight,” is essentially a teen flick that provides no depth to the subject of vampire-ism, but offers a new twist: vampires sparkle in sunlight. Also, Robert Pattinson looks too feminine.  Something a bit different–vamps playing baseball, awesome music by British band Muse.

This is one for teen flick and vamp lovers only.

Shattered, 2007, **, R

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

 

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This film should have been called, B times 3 (Brosnan, Butler, & Bello)—okay, I know—not too funny.  Pierce Brosnan, Gerard Butler and Maria Bello star in this thriller about a man who black mails a couple for no reason at all, or so we are led to believe.  Butler and Bello are about to be thrown into a tail spin of events when, Brosnan pops up from the back seat of their Range Rover as they are about to embark on a long tedious day of games, and events that will startled them for the rest of their lives.  It is unclear until the very end, why Brosnan is after the couple.  Is it money?  Is it for sheer thrill?  But then you ask yourself, no one would capture two people for a day for no reason at all, unless they are temporarily insane.

 

This flick is good, but in some scenes, it looses you—out of boredom.  It has a storyline that makes you want more, but then I was beginning to ask myself, “Why, waste my time?”  Well, I gave it the benefit of the doubt, and kept watching, and besides – who can resist Gerry Butler?  He is gorgeous, and a different genre for him to attack—typically we see him in period pieces like “Attila,” and “300.”

 

Neil Randall (Gerard Butler) is an ad salesman about to get a promotion.  His wife Abby (Maria Bello, “A History of Violence,” “Coyote Ugly”) is a stay at home mother, who does photography from time to time.  One morning, they drive off to part ways—Niel is going to a meeting, and Abby is spending the day with a friend, and a lady that works at Neil’s office is watching their daughter. 

 

The unexpected happens—a man—Tom Ryan (Pierce Brosnan, “The Matador,” “Married Life”), whom neither of them know jumps up from the back seat of their SUV, and points a gun at them, and immediately tells them, their daughter (Emma Karwandy, “The Dead Zone”) will be murdered if they don’t withdrawal a large amount of money from their accounts.  The entire day becomes like a synchronized swimming routine.  They must stay in line with what the man says or they are dead, along with their child.  Some of the actions of Ryan seem to be deliberately done to confuse them and make them to believe they are being mistaken for another couple.

 

Because the storyline is vague until the bitter end, it makes the viewer stay attentive, even if it does drag.  The actors are great in all of their other films, but this is very true—the script can make a movie, even if the actors are terrible.  The sparkle was definitely missing from this one, which is why the sudden gearshift in the last 20 minutes of the film was heavily needed.  The simple question in this movie is –How far does a parent go to protect their children? Every single step that these parents take is predicated on the well being of their little girl. 

 

I like the twisted ness of the film—because once you find out the entire issue at hand, you will think the same way.  The end of the film has a very powerful premise.  Was the cat and mouse chase worth it?  I think so.  

 

If you are a Gerard Butler fan, this is a must see film.  I will say, however it is a one watcher.  Also, if you want to see a better film, similar genre, rent the Michael Douglass film, “The Game.”  This one will not disappoint.

Arlington Road, 1999, *****, R

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

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Starring: Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Hope Davis

 

It’s is riveting and oozing with suspense from the very beginning. Arlington Road, starring Jeff Bridges (The Contender, Seabiscuit ) and Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption, Mystic River) pulls you towards the edge of your seat. It is for sure gripping, and makes you think about the terrorism situation throughout the world. The acting is pure genius and outstanding performances are done by the entire cast.

 

This is one of the many true acting accomplishments of Jeff Bridges. The mixture of cast between Bridges and Robbins accompanied by Joan Cusack (School of Rock) and Hope Davis is award winning. Joan Cusack plays Robbins’ wife, and perfectly captures a wicked yet concerned neighbor. She adds an extremity like no other support. Hope Davis (American Splendor) play Bridges girlfriend, who is very skeptical of his accusations of their neighbors. She makes Bridges out to be the bad guy, yet she is wrong.

 

The idea of a terrorist living in your neighborhood (in modern day) is hard to accept but with the help of knowledge and evidence it becomes compelling. Individuals, who are ignorant and living in a fantasyland, believe that everyone is a good human being. These individuals have no consciousness of a corrupt society and they do not see the evil in people. Therefore the corrupt people would easily get away with their actions of destruction.

 

College professor Michael Faraday (Jeff Bridges) begins to suspect his neighbor Oliver Lang (Tim Robbins) is not really who he says he is. Faraday takes it upon himself to discover the real past of Lang. From name changes to teenage bombing attempts, Faraday becomes impatient and anxious, as the information he gathers points to a very dangerous terrorist organization led by Lang.

 

This driven, nail-biting action-drama is well laid out and interesting to follow, but it is not your typical hero flick at the end. The suspense builds; there are twists quite different from other films of its kind. Scenes are well ordered so you are not lost in the pace of the story. Flashbacks do occur, and help you understand the main characters feelings about terrorism. This sets the tone, and helps the viewer understand some of Bridges background and knowledge of the subject. The film feels as though there is a climax point every five seconds, although you get a real dose at the very end. You will be hanging by a thread until the bitter end of the road.

 

The music for the film is extremely effective. The music when Faraday is caught researching his neighbor makes your heart pound with fear! The intensity that engages the viewer with full close-ups of Bridges eyes, and facial expressions that reek of fear is sheer brilliance. The lighting arrangements are also rather frightening, which makes you more aware of the terror. These additives are what make the film gripping and a pure excellent production.

I believe this is a film that is not only intelligent, but also superior to all others like it. It shows that we are vulnerable to terrorists. Individuals who are out to destroy and hide in plain sight are the most difficult ones to catch. I believe if everyone had seen this film before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks they would have better understood that these people have no value for human life. They would see that many of these evil individuals get away with their immoral crimes and that something must be done to stop them.

 

Sin City, 2005, Un-Rated, *

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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Starring: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Elijah Wood, Jaime King, Jessica Alba, Brittany Murphy, Benicio Del Toro, Clive Owen, Rosario Dawson, Alexis Bledel, and Josh Hartnett.

Over the last 3 years we have seen Spiderman, Hellboy, the Punisher, Hulk and a few more but, Sin City took way too many leaps of faith.  If you like comics, you may or may not like this one. 

A comic book is one thing.  A motion picture is another.  This comic should never have been made into a film.  In “Sin City” anything and everything goes: EVERYTHING.

There are many gruesome films but Sin City is plain awful.   True, there are many gruesome and violent movies out there that depict the dregs of society and the most heinous of crimes, but seeing creepy Elijah Wood as a cannibal is absolutely mortifying. He is already creepy as Frodo in the Lord of the Rings. 

The whole movie is filled with degenerates, other than Clive Owen and Bruce Willis that try to reduce crime.  Violence is non-stop throughout each sequence.  Different stories are running through out the movie filled with new faces to Hollywood and some of which are veterans.   

And we wonder why high school kids dress the way they do?  This is definitely a good example of why.  It’s different when they want to dress up like Willy Wonka, but not in fish nets and a leather clad suit.  Not Good.

The Time Traveler’s Wife, 2009, ****, PG-13

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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“The Time Traveler’s Wife,” This movie is better than “The Notebook,” you know why?  It adds the Sci-Fi element of time travel that really makes your mind wander around the idea of it actually happening.  Not to mention Eric Bana is like one of those hunks on a Harlequin romance novel. 

 

Claire (Rachel McAdams, “The Notebook,” “The Wedding Crashers”) met Henry (Eric Bana, “Hulk,” “The Nugget,” “Troy”) in the field on her childhood home when she was about 9.  Through the years she kept a diary of the times she saw him, and kept the hope of one day being with this love of her life. 

 

The film centers around Henry’s disappearing act (time travel).  His travels are explained as some sort of genetic disorder.  He began appearing and disappearing after a car accident that left his mother dead, and him being thrust back into different years and places for no apparent reason, one place happening to be Claire’s yard; he appears as a 40-something year old man.

 

I must say, the movie starts out slow, but it is totally worth the watch.  It’s a love story that you won’t forget.  Sometimes love is worth waiting for, over and over again.