Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

The Wrestler, 2009, R, ***1/2

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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Starring: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood

 

A haggard looking, bleached long-haired Mickey Rourke (a very different appearance than his days in the 80s in the film “9 ½ weeks”) sure fits this part to a tea.  Rourke portrays Randy “The Ram,” an 80s wrestling champion trying to get back into the spotlight.

 

It’s quite depressing, but really depicts someone in a serious dilemma.  Ram’s personal life is very sad, no companion, his daughter hates him (played by the talented Evan Rachel Wood), and his true passion in life is a downward spiral due to a heart attack.   Marisa Tomei plays a local pub dancer that catches Rourke’s eye.  She is one of my favorite actresses and even as a side character adds a nice touch to the film.

 

I commend this movie because it is very real, and shows how no matter what, if you aren’t doing what you love, you are pretty much dead inside.  This is not a movie if you want to escape for a while and forget about hardship during these tough economic times. 

 

 

The Lovely Bones, 2010, ****1/2, PG-13

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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Starring: Mark Whalberg, Stanley Tucci, Saoirse Ronan

 

Director Peter Jackson does an outstanding job on this film adaptation of Alice Sebold’s novel. 

 

In the 1970s, Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan, “City of Ember,” “I Could Never Be Your Woman”) is a young teen full of life and in the midst of running after a love, until one afternoon her life is taken away; brutally.  Her parents, Jack (Whalberg) and Abigail (Rachel Weisz) are destroyed emotionally when she doesn’t return home from school, and the hours become days, and weeks and no evidence other than her crochet hat are found.  Jack and Abigail become separated emotionally and Abigail goes off to another county to cope with the loss, while Jack continues to search for clues, and take care of his other two children with the help of his mother-in-law, (Susan Sarandon).

 

This film is very powerful and moving, and the best murder mystery I’ve ever seen.  The story is so profound with the images of what Susie Salmon’s heaven looks like, and her trying to communicate to her father to let him know she’s okay.  The divide between the living and afterlife have such an emotional connection with the viewer, and makes you want to help Jack find out his daughters murderer.

 

The moral of this story is always go with your gut; if someone seems a tad sketchy, even if he has been friendly with your parents, don’t get trapped, literately.  This film is too deep for young children, and probably even high school kids, but then again, they might learn to stick to their guns and stay away from “strangers.” 

 

Young actress, Saoirse Ronan, is someone to definitely watch.  She played an excellent part in this film, and is going to lead the next generation of stars, Dakota Fanning, lookout!

Taking of Pelham 123 2009, ***1/2, R

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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Starring: John Travolta, Denzel Washington, John Tururro, James Gandolfini

 

The remake is better the original with the late Walter Mathau, due to more action, and comedic one liners, in this Scott-Free Production.  Walter Garber (Washington) plays a transit dispatcher who runs into a snag; a group of hijackers on one of the lines he looks over, Pelham 123. 

 

Garber is a supervisor temporarily demoted while being investigated for bribery. Ryder (Travolta) the showman of the hijackers, demands $10 million within an hour, or he’ll start shooting hostages. He’ll deal only with Garber. The mayor (Gandolfini) okays the payoff, the news of the hostage situation sends the stock market tumbling, and it’s unclear what Ryder really wants or if Garber is part of the deal.

 

I thought this movie was a decent action flick to watch.  I would recommend watching it at least once.  Travolta and Washington make a quite a good pair.

Smart People 2008, **1/2, R

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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“Smart People,” starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Page stand out as a father and daughter who may have high IQ’s, but rate below zero in terms of their human relations skills.

Professor Lawrence Wetherhold (Quaid, “The Alamo,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) might be imperiously brilliant, monumentally self-possessed and an intellectual giant — but when it comes to solving the conundrums of love and family, he’s as downright flummoxed as the next guy. His teenaged daughter (Page, “Hard Candy,” “Whip It,” “Juno”) is an acid-tongued overachiever who follows too closely in dad’s misery-loving footsteps, and his adopted, good-for-nothing brother (Thomas Haden Church, “Sideways”) has perfected the art of sponging off others.

A widower who can’t seem to find passion in anything anymore, not even the Victorian Literature in which he’s an expert, it seems Lawrence is sleepwalking through a very stunted middle age. When his brother shows up unexpectedly for an extended stay at just about the same time as he accidentally encounters his former student Janet (Sarah Jessica Parker, HBO’s “Sex and the City,” “The Family Stone”).

This film is kind of slow, however is one that you can enjoy if you are in the mood for a slice of life type comedy-drama.  I must note, superb acting by Ellen Page, new rising star, of “Juno.” The charm of Smart People is watching these characters squirm and eventually come out of their shells.  Check it out on DVD.

 

Knowing 2009, **3/4, PG-13

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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Starring: Nicholas Cage, Rose Byrne

 

“Knowing,” is like “The Day After Tomorrow,” meets the hit 90s series, “X-Files.”  Another version of the end of the world is the Sun approaching close enough to Earth that it is incinerated.  All life as we know it would burn up, and end.  This is quite frightening.

This film is very disturbing and unsettling.  It really makes you wonder if everything is pre-determined.  

 

In the 1950s in a small Massachusetts town, an Elementary school teacher (Danielle Carter) has her students draw a picture of what they think the future is like.  One particular student writes down an entire page of numbers.  The teacher put the pages in a tube and says they are creating a time capsule.

 

Cage (“Con Air,” “Adaptation,” “Vampire’s Kiss”) plays John Koestler a High School science teacher who is skeptical that everything is pre-determined for the future of the planet.  However, when John’s son Caleb (Chandler Canterbury, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Powder Blue”) son receives the page full of numbers at the unveiling of the 50s time capsule, he begins to think otherwise. As expected John attempts at solving this numeric mystery, which turns into much more than anyone could or would want to imagine.  

 

I think this is one of Cage’s better films, including my favorite, “Con Air.”  I also think this movie is more interesting than his National Treasure adventures.  If you love Sci-Fi you may want to check it out on DVD, at least once. 

Crossing Over 2009, ***, R

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

 

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Starring: Harrison Ford, Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta

 

This film is a series of vignettes that focus on various parts of the Department of Homeland Security, including ICE (Immigration and Customs and Enforcement).

 

Harrison Ford is an ICE team member and rounds up illegals on the California/Mexico border.  At the beginning of the film, he and other team members raid a sewing factory; one particular woman is upset because her son is at an upstairs daycare, and she is forced to leave without him (late Ford-feeling some compassion for the situation-is able to find the child and return him home). 

 

Elsewhere, in the Los Angeles area Ashley Judd works as a social worker and tries to help immigrant families as well as orphaned children.   

 

We also hear from a Muslim teen in a high school classroom where she gives a speech to class and sympathizes with suicide bombers, and the 9/11 Al Qaeda terrorists.  As you can imagine this causes quite a disturbance in the classroom and yet the teacher (probably politically liberal) lets her continue the speech.

 

Ray Liotta is one of the many “approvers” of US Visas, and it just so happens that a particular Australian blonde agrees to sleep with him to get her Visa.  All goes awry there, as you could have guessed. 

 

I think this was a very well done movie, because it shows aspects of immigration issues from all angles.  It reminds me of the film “Crash,” written and directed by Paul Haggis, not only due to the vignette approach, but the idea that there are many different sides to the story.  However, toleration of people that could be threatening to the American people is not accepted, even if it’s a 15 year old (due to the fact that suicide bombers are typically in the mid teens to early 20s.) 

 

The film also has a great line up of actors; however we don’t see them interact with one another-maybe another film?

 

Check this one out on DVD if you are into political dramas, or work for the federal government.

 

 

Drag Me To Hell 2009, **1/2, Un-Rated Directors Cut

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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Starring: Justin Long, Alison Lohman, Lorna Raver

 

This is perfect for these economic times, however, I don’t think anyone will want to work as a loan officer after seeing this horror flick.

 

Most of us have seen the creepy trailer before.  Essentially, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver, who has done many character actor parts in TV dramas and crime shows, “Bones,” “Boston Legal,” “CSI Las Vegas”) is in need of an extension on her payment, for the third time.  Christine Brown (Alison Lohman, “Matchstick Men,” “Flicka”) has to make the ultimate harsh decision of saying no, I’m Sorry, but we just can’t help you out this time. 

 

Brown is trying to becoming assistant manager at the bank, in competition with a new employee that just might get the spot.  Needless to say, sometimes doing the right thing can get you in a massive pickle you can’t get out of.  Mrs. Ganush tells her, “You shamed me” over and over again, and says some curse over Brown.

 

Over the next 3 days some of the most outlandish, bizarre events occur, and Brown and her boyfriend Clay (Justin Long, “Accepted,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”) to and get help from a fortune teller.

 

I liked this movie because of its original storyline.  However, there were some really grotesque parts that some people might not be able to handle.  Some of the special effects were pretty goofy, (but you have to remember, Sam Raimi is the guy that brought us the classic horror/spoof/comedies – The Evil Dead movies) so this was kinda expected.

 

If you want to be spooked or watch a decent horror flick, get this one on your list to rent for Halloween night.