Point Break, 1991, PG-13, ****

July 14th, 2010

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 “Point Break,” is a slick cops and robbers movie with a beachy connection.  It is a very cool movie.

 

Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves, “A Walk in the Clouds,” “The Lake House”) just started working for the FBI’s San Diego office and was assigned to an unappreciated, not-by-the-book wild n’ crazy veteran agent Angelo (Gary Busey).  The two get off to a rocky start, but soon realize they are a perfect team, to bust up a team of bank robbers.

 

Through undercover work, Utah and Angelo discover the clan is a bunch of surfers.  As Utah is nailing the facts down, various friendships and his career begin to collide.  Bodhi (Patrick Swayze, TV’s new series “The Beast,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Donnie Darko”) is the idealist gang leader befriends Utah but realizes they are in a fundamental conflict. 

 

This film is one of the most entertaining police-action flicks.  It is also one to buy and watch from time to time; it will always keep your attention.

Shattered, 2007, **, R

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

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.

 

Deep Impact, ***1/2, 1998

July 7th, 2010

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Starring: Elijah Wood, Leelee Sobieski, Tea Leoni, Morgan Freemman

 

Many individuals believe this film is a better representation of how all life on earth could end, unless the terrorists get to us first.

 

A teen astronomer, Leo Beiderman (Elijah Wood) discovers an object in the sky during a class project and reports his sighting to a noted Astronomer, Marcus Wolf (Charles Martin Smith).  Upon receiving the teens information Wolf examines the sighting and sees the unimaginable—a larger comet headed toward earth—but is unable to report his findings due to an auto accident in which he is killed.

 

Fortunately, the information is discovered and the government realizes the seriousness of the Wolf/Beiderman discovery and it’s clear a disaster of global proportions is possible.  The government tries to keep the finding a secret until a plan can be developed to deal with the event, however a broadcast reporter (Tea Leoni) puts a few pieces of information together, which expedites the governments announcement of the impending disaster.

The President of the United States (Morgan Freeman) tells the American people of the news and that NASA has organized a space mission to destroy the comet before its arrival.

 

This film is exciting and terrifying at the same time.  It is a film that will give you a shred of hope, because some individuals do survive.  The concept of a comet plummeting toward earth might even be more science fact than fiction, and the hope is that our worlds astronomers will always be combing the stars looking for anything that might be coming our way.

 

“Deep Impact,” has an array of many great actors, and many of the performances are emotional, intense and unforgettable.  Robert Duvall plays the head as the head of the NASA mission; Morgan Freeman is the President of the United States, Elijah Wood as Leo and his girlfriend Sarah is Leelee Sobieski.  Among natural disaster films this is one of the good ones and definitely promotes the sale of telescopes for young astronomers and probably a few Chicken Little’s.

The Day After Tomorrow, PG-13, 2004, *** ½

July 7th, 2010

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Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal

This one makes you want to go buy winter duds, just in case.  Director Roland Emmerich who brought us “Independence Day” in 1996 has done another wowzer again with “The Day After Tomorrow.”

The film starts out with Jack Hall, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climatologist, played by Dennis Quaid (“In Good Company,” “Cold Creek Manor”) is with his crew, including Jason Evans (Dash Mihok) somewhere in Antarctica collecting ice cores when the Glacier begins to split big time.  This opening scene is a breathtaking which that sets the stage for this film, which is filled with many scenes that are just incredible.  In my view, it contains some of the most incredible visuals I’ve seen in years.  You’re in for a journey that you’ll never forget.  This is one of the best weather related films in years.     

Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid, “Yours, Mine & Ours,” “The Alamo”) suspects and warns the government that global warming may be triggering a new Ice Age, but he didn’t expect it so soon.  Initial reactions to his theory are skepticism, until some horrific weather conditions start to occur.  But the speed at which things begin to occur force drastic action by the government just to save as many people as possible from the unbelievable climatic events hitting the northern hemisphere.  Meanwhile Jacks son, Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal, “Bubble Boy,” “Brokeback Mountain”) heads north to New York City for a Scholastic Competition, which lead to a rescue mission by Hall and his crew to the Big Frozen Apple.  From large chunks of hail in Japan, multiple tornados in L.A., to NYC underwater and frozen you’ll just want to run south as fast as you can. 

This is one fantastic film.  While this is more science fiction than fact it makes you think about the weather like you never thought before.  It is scary, yet intriguing and you may even want to get into climatology after viewing this one.  If you saw this in the theater, you know it’s worth another viewing, especially if you can view it on a big screen high-def TV.  I put “The Day After Tomorrow” as a definite multiple view film and a new classic in the natural disaster films grouping.

A Lot like Love, 2005, PG-13, **

July 7th, 2010

a-lot-like-love-pic.jpg Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Amanda Peet, Taryn Manning, Ali Larter

This is definitely not your typical Kutcher film.  It’s not that complete moron Michael Kelso from that 70’s show or the other moron who can’t find his car (Dude Where’s My Car?, Ashton Kutcher, Sean William Scott).  Ashton is toned down a bit from his usual antics.

It’s definitely a “funky kind of love” that Kutcher (Oliver) and Amanda Peet (Emily) show for one another from the start.  They abruptly get together in the bathroom of an airplane.  Now, saying that would make you think it was a one time deal, but these two seem to hit if off “so to speak”. 

Over the next couple years they get back together each time because one of them has gone through a break up and the other needs companionship.  It seems as though they are destined to be together but neither will admit to it.  Although the story does drag here and there you will definitely appreciate the funny moments throughout the story.

From road trips, photos, hang outs, bad break ups filled with heartache, the quirky pair finally make their decision about one another once and for all. 

Sin City, 2005, Un-Rated, *

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.

Valentine’s Day, 2010, **1/2 PG-13

July 7th, 2010

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This Valentine’s Flick has an outstanding cast of veteran actors such as Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts (and her niece, Emma Roberts) as well as new talent, like Taylor Swift, the country singer, and Taylor Lautner, the “Twilight,” and “New Moon” hottie; Bradley Cooper from last years best comedy, “Hangover,” as well as Ashton Kutcher, Grey’s Anatomy’s, Patrick Dempsey, Sin City’s Jessica Alba, and Elektra herself, Jennifer Garner, among others.

 

I believe this was a very well done, intertwined ultimate love-day story.  There is something for everyone in this romantic comedy.  Everything turns out alright in the end, the way love is intended to be.  You simply can’t miss Ashton Kutcher as a florist shop owner!

 

I can say that is it not in an way sappy, but funny, and fun for girls, and guys.  The dos and dont’s of dating, and what it really means to be a true friend, and loved one is what you will grasp from this feature.  Catch this one on DVD.

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

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.   

 

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

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.