Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(500) Days of Summer

The problem with romantic comedies today is that there's too much comedy and not enough romance (or sometimes vice versa). Thankfully, there are some that break the barrier.

An unconventional love story about Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), a woman who doesn't believe in true love, and Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the man who falls for her.

(500) Days of Summer is different from the romantic comedy of today becuase it doesn't rely on bad jokes and sex (or bad sex jokes); it relies on actual emotions. Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel make a really cute couple. The movie is really sweet. It's now one of my favorite romantic comedies (along with The Apartment). It's not one to be avoided.

My Rating: *****

Monday, August 30, 2010

Movie Pitch

For the past couple of weeks over at Anomalous Material, there has been a Hollywood Fantasy Draft. Basically you choose actors and a director you want for your fictional movie. Now I gotta pitch the movie. The rules/requirements for the pitch are:

~You should immediately develop the basic idea, the logline for your movie: The logline is one or two sentence that summarize the concept of your movie. For example: “Are you interested in a story about a man who lives in the Statue of Liberty?” (A real and successful logline)
~You should have a firm grasp of your main characters and their roles in the story.
~You should be able to explain why so and so is going to play so and so.
~You should begin to develop some basic outline or treatment for your story.

Here I go. This is the pitch for my fictictious film Truth and Lies (which, I may add, is directed by Martin Scorsese).

The Logline
What if everything you thought you knew about someone was a lie?

The Characters

  • Meryl Streep is Patricia Malloy, a woman who comes home one night to discover her husband has been murdered.
  • Sean Penn is Malcolm Hyde, the private investigator Malloy hires to infiltrate the mob family she believes was responsible for her husband's murder. After some smooth talking, he becomes an associate for the family.
  • Marisa Tomei is Connie Hyde, Malcolm's wife. She has supported his previous work, ranging from drug trafficking to political scandals. But this job is more dangerous than what he has done before.
  • Ralph Fiennes is Sammy Giardano, the boss of the family Hyde infiltrates. His personality is charming, but behind closed doors he's a different man.
  • Stanley Tucci is Mick Lombardi, Giardano's consigliere. He has a hidden hatred for Giardano since he was to take over the business when the former boss stepped down, but he hides it with an admiration for him.
  • Emile Hirsch is Louie, Giardano's son. He is deeply suspicious of the new associate for his father. He tries to convinces Giordano that something's up, but he and his suspicions are shrugged off.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal is Joey Sullivan, Giardano's top hitman. He has a sadistic streak once he starts a hit; it disappears when his victim is truly dead.
  • Peter Sarsgaard is Bruno Contielle, Giardano's underboss. He is likeable throughout the family due to his good looks and friendly personality.

The Outline

Theme: The main theme is deception. I'll explain more once I get to the outline of the movie.

Prologue: Patricia comes home after a long day of work to find her husband beaten and shot to death. Absolutely stunned, she wants answers and she wants them now. She finds out her husband has been borrowing money from Giardano.

Act One: Appalled by the shoddy police investigation, Patricia hires Malcolm. He agrees to help her, since he is curious on the workings of Giardano's business. Upon first arrival, Malcolm is welcomed by Giordano and Bruno. Malcolm wins over Giardano and becomes an associate. Malcolm also gets acquainted with Mick.

Act Two: Here we are introduced to Louie. He appears to be a nice kid, but he is very suspicious of Malcolm. Since no one else will listen to him, he confides in Joey about it. Joey is like an older brother to Louie, so he thinks that Louie might be right.

Act Three: Malcolm is getting close to booking Giardano. Louie's suspicions on him has only intenstified. He orders Joey to kill Malcolm, which he gladly agrees to do. Joey manages to beat Malcolm up, but it's Joey who gets killed. Shocked by Joey's death, Louie decides to take matters into his own hands. He shoots Malcolm in the back several times before Bruno shows up and subdues him.

Epilogue: Malcolm survives, but is left paralyzed. When he's recovering in the hospital, Bruno visits him and explains everything. Like Malcolm, he is a cop who has infiltrated Giardano's business to try to take him down. Giardano had bribed the police to not thoroughly investigate Patricia's husband's murder (he was killed for not paying back Giardano the thousands of dollars he had borrowed). Giardano, Louie and Mick get arrested for numerous charges. Mick agrees to testify against Giardano, which shocks him. At his sentencing, Giardano says that he never would've suspected that Malcolm and Bruno were involved with the police.

So what do you think? Would you pay to see this?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The French Connection

Movies from the 1970's are renown for their edginess. Their content has stuff that ten years earlier would've have had audiences going "Whoa!" Basically, stuff like drugs, blood-soaked crimes and all that good stuff in between.

Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) is a dapper businessman from Marseilles, Frances, who is in reality a drug lord working on a big score to sell $32 million worth of 89% pure heroin to New York City. But his potential buyer, small-time hood Salvatore Boca (Tony Lo Bianco), is being tailed by undercover cops Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy "Cloudy" Russo (Roy Scheider).

Oh man, this is branded "guy movie" big time. I mean, really. The famed car chase scene alone proves that. Hackman's character of "Popeye" Doyle shows those the hard way he's a cop you shouldn't mess with (much like his other Oscar-winning performance in Unforgiven). Most Best Picture winners lose their edge as the years go on. Not The French Connection.

My Rating: *****

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I have seen several horror movies and numerous Alfred Hitchcock movies, all of which only scared me a little bit. But the one movie that truly scared the hell out of me was Se7en.

Days from his retirement, veteran detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) is teamed up with his replacement David Mills (Brad Pitt) to solve a series of murders based on the seven deadly sins. Will they find the killer before his demented plan is complete?

As I was watching this, I felt parts of my back go numb. At first, I thought it was nothing. Then I realized what it was: I was literally paralyzed with fear.

This is definitely not a movie to toy with. The opening credits along prove that. The Howard Shore music just make every scene creepier. The murder scenes are unsettling and the suspense almost puts Hitchcock to shame. Kevin Spacey, in my opinion, was practically primed to play a villian, mainly because his supposedly calming voice is actually really unnerving in this. If you're looking for a movie that's guranteed to scare the fuck out of you, your search is over.

My Rating: *****

Friday, August 27, 2010


(sigh) Paul Newman. He was such a good actor. Makes me bummed that he's no longer with us.

Hud Bannon (Newman) is a ruthless young man who tarnishes everything and everyone he touches. Hud represents the perfect embodiment of alienated youth, out for kicks with no regards for the consequences. There is bitter conflict between him and his stern and highly principled father Homer (Melvyn Douglas). Hud's nephew Lon (Brandon De Wilde) admires Hud's cheating ways, though he soon becomes aware of Hud's reckless amorality to bear him anymore. In the world of the takers and the taken, Hud is a winner.

This is one of Newman's best performances. He portrays a character you're supposed to dislike, but his charm keeps you from doing that. The performances from Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal are also especially good, mainly Neal. The cinematography by Jame Wong Howe is breathtaking and the movie is a fine piece of filmmaking.

My Rating: *****


Usually when I choose a movie to watch, the plot has to be appealing to me. That's the main requirement.

Richard (Brad Pitt) and Susan (Cate Blanchett) are a troubled married couple on vacation in Morocco trying to work out their differences. While on a tour bus, Susan is shot by an unseen assailant. Their story is connected with Mexican nanny Amelia (Adriana Barraza), the two boys responsible for the shooting and a Japanese businessman whose deaf daughter Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi) longs for affection.

Hmm, another movie focusing on people with different lives but they're somehow connected. Apologies if I sound negative, but the "interwoven storyline" seems a little...cliched. But that doesn't make Babel a bad movie. In my humble opinion, Kikuchi gives the best performance. The movie definitely has a gritty feel to it. Babel also captures the struggles on each individual nationality.

My Rating: ****1/2

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big Fish

If you've been reading this blog long enough, you know that I'm a fan of Tim Burton. Having seen all but three of his works, you could say I'm somewhat of an expert. Anyway, onto the review.

Big Fish follows the incredible life of Edward Bloom (Albert Finney), through a series of flashbacks that begin when his son Will (Billy Crudup) visits him for the last time. Edward is dying of cancer, and Will hasn't spoken to him for years because Will believes him to be a liar that never really cared for his family. As Edward's story unfolds once again, Will tries to finally understand the truth about who his father really was...

You gotta give Burton credit. He directed this in response to his parents' deaths, so the feeling of losing a parent is pretty strong. It's definitely a far cry from his earlier work, which are more dark and gloomy. Big Fish, meanwhile, is more bright and cheerful. It's one of those movies that makes for good discussion.

My Rating: ****

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The main reason that Steven Spielberg made Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was "to apologize for the second one". I don't blame him; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was pushing it for violence. Last Crusade, however, didn't.

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) discovers the history of a biblical artifact called "the Holy Grail". He is also informed that his father Henry Jones (Sean Connery), who was also looking for the Holy Grail, is missing. Indy has to find his father. However, he will become involved in the search of the Holy Grail along with his father, as well as fighting the Nazis to reach it.

There's something on the levels of awesome and brilliance with the casting of Connery as Indy's dad. I mean, you got the original James Bond, for crying out loud. Anyway, back to what I was saying. Last Crusade has the same amount of action Raiders of the Lost Ark has and none of the violence Temple of Doom has. I'm sure you're of the "threequel curse" (notable entries include The Godfather Part III and Spider-Man 3). Thankfully, Last Crusade doesn't fall victim to it.

My Rating: ****1/2

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

31 Day Movie Meme

So there's this meme floating around the interwebs. I feel like doing it, just not in a 31 day period. I'm not the only who did the whole meme in one day.

DAY 1: Sequel that should not have been made
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I was so looking foward to this and was left disappointed. I want a refund, Spielberg.

DAY 2: Movie you think more people should see
Quiz Show. One of the underrated gems from the year dominated by Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption.

DAY 3: Favorite Oscar-nominated movie from most recent ballot
Up in the Air. I'm starting to like Jason Reitman's work. I can't wait to see his next movie.

DAY 4: Movie that makes you laugh every time
The Apartment. It has the right mix of sincerity, sweetness and humor.

DAY 5: Movie you loathe
The Benchwarmers. I pratically felt my brain cells getting killed while watching it, it was so stupid.

DAY 6: Movie that makes you cry every time
WALL-E. No explanation needed if you saw it.

DAY 7: Least favorite movie by a favorite actor/actress
Jack Lemmon in Save the Tiger. He was good, the movie...not so much.

DAY 8: Movie that should be required high school viewing
Kinsey. This has everything you wanted to know about sex, but were afraid to ask.

DAY 9: Best scene ever
The taxi cab scene from On the Waterfront. It just sums up why it's been a classic for years.

DAY 10: A movie you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving
High Fidelity. Since I had read the book beforehand, I was thinking it was gonna be the same. Not true. The movie has its own charm that's different from the book.

DAY 11: A movie that disappointed you
Public Enemies. My review alone sums up why I was left underwhelmed.

DAY 12: Best soundtrack/background music in a scene
"Married Life" from Up. It gave the montage an emotional wallop.

DAY 13: Favorite animated movie
The Nightmare Before Christmas. Who said animated movies are for kids? Apparently not Tim Burton.

DAY 14: Favorite movie in black and white
Ed Wood. Since it's set in the 1950's, it seems appropriate it's in black and white becuase it gives the movie a nogalistic feel to it.

DAY 15: Best musical
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I'm not really a fan of musicals, so I went with this.

DAY 16: Your guilty pleasure movie
In Bruges. Like I stated in the review, I nearly barfed from the violence towards the end of the movie. And yet, I liked it.

DAY 17: Favorite series of related movies
Batman. Not the Joel Schmacher-directed ones, just the ones directed by Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan. They made the comic book genre gritty; Schmacher not so much.

DAY 18: Favorite title sequence
Catch Me If You Can and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. They would make Saul Bass proud.

DAY 19: Best movie cast
Inception. Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, as well as several Nolan alums. Need I say more?

DAY 20: Favorite kiss
The kiss of death in The Godfather Part II and the reuniting kiss in Brokeback Mountain. One full of love, one full of hate.

DAY 21: Favorite romantic couple
Jack and Ennis from Brokeback Mountain. The relationship has sort of a Shakespeare feel to it: a forbidden romance that ends in tragedy.

DAY 22: Favorite final scene/line
Some Like It Hot. "Daphne" is trying everything to get out of her engagement to Osgood and ultimately ending with the revealation that she's a he. That leads to the funniest closing line in movie history.

DAY 23: Best explosion or action scene
The Death Star blowing up in Star Wars. 'Nuff said.

DAY 24: Quote you use most often
"Well, nobody's perfect" from Some Like It Hot. It fits into my daily life, so there.

DAY 25: A movie you plan on watching (old or new)
Saving Private Ryan. I want to see it, but I don't have enough time to watch it.

DAY 26: Freakishly weird movie ending
The Prestige. Was tempted to go with Inception, but this is a million times freakier.

DAY 27: Best villian
Amon Goeth from Schindler's List. Truly one of the scariest performances I've seen in a long, long time.

DAY 28: Most over-hyped movie
Citizen Kane. Sorry, movie buffs, I'm not crazy about it as you are.

DAY 29: Movie you have watched more than ten times
50 First Dates. This was before I became a movie snob, mind you.

DAY 30: Saddest death scene
George from A Single Man. It left me depressed throughout the rest of the day.

DAY 31: Scene that made you stand up and cheer
Andy's escape in The Shawshank Redemption. What else?

Boy, that was annoying.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fahrenheit 451

Dystopia is a common setting in science fiction. Some notable examples among literature are Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange, George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Another good example is Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

"It was a pleasure to burn" is what the novel opens with. Guy Montag is a fireman who doesn't put out fires but starts them; he is to burn books and the houses that contained them. He doesn't question his job until his new neighbor, a seventeen-year-old by the name of Clarisse McClellan, opens him to a past when people weren't afraid.

I found the thought of books being illegal somewhat scary (being the avid reader that I am). And having read a few of Ray Bradbury's short stories prior to reading Fahrenheit 451, I knew that the tone in his writing is anti-technology. The descriptions are vivid and the plot is easy flowing. But overall, it's a very impressive novel.

My Rating: ****

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

When a movie does poorly at the box office, there are a few good explanations for why it did. It was released at the wrong time, it didn't get enough word of mouth or it just wasn't good. In the case of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, it was probably the second one.

The year is 1805. Europe has fallen to Napoleon, and only the Royal Navy stands in his way to total victory. Off the coast of South America, a new conflict is brewing. Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) of the HMS Surprise is under orders to sink or capture the French privateer Acheron, which has been deployed to the region. After seven weeks of uneventful sailing, the Acheron strikes first, all but crippling the Surprise in an engagement in which Aubrey realizes his enemy's ship is nautically superior to his own. Along with his close friend and confidant Stephan Maturin (Paul Bettany) who also happens to be the ship's surgeon, Aubrey is now faced with the choice of retreating to England and admitting defeat or remaining at the Acheron's mercy. Aubrey must now do the impossible if he is to survive, repair his ship, catch up to his enemy and defeat the Acheron -- somehow.

This is one of those movies where I wondered why it didn't do so well commercially. It's actually really good. The cinematography is stunning, the acting is really good and the action is awesome. The direction of Peter Weir, whose previous works include Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show and Witness, is excellent. Is this one to miss? Nope.

My Rating: ****1/2

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mulholland Drive

The only thing I knew about David Lynch is that he directs movies that are really out there. And Mulholland Drive is no exception.

After a brutal car accident in Los Angeles, Rita (Laura Herring) is the sole survivor but suffers mass amnesia. Wandering into a stranger's apartment downtown, her story strangely intertwines with Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), a perky young woman in search of stardom. However, Betty is intrigued by Rita's situation and is willing to put aside her dreams to pursue this mystery. The two women soon discover that nothing is as it seems in the city of dreams.

Holy crap, that was one weird movie. If it's your first time watching it, don't be upset if you don't understand (I sure as hell didn't). It's definitely one of those movies you need to watch a few times to actually get it. Apart from Mulholland Drive being the weirdest thing I've ever watched, it's also a really good film noir. Oh, and also the biggest case of mindfuck EVER. Don't say I didn't warn you.

My Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, August 19, 2010

10 Things I Hate About You

Shakespeare adaptations aren't a new thing. Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet...you name it, chances are it's been adapted. Thankfully for those who don't understand Shakespeare's language (me included), there have been modern takes on his plays (West Side Story).

New kid Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is head over heels for popular sophomore Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik), but Bianca's overprotective father forbids her to date unless Bianca's older ill-tempered sister Kat (Julia Stiles) dates. But Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan) wants Bianca, so he uses sullen senior Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to attempt to win Kat's heart. Will Patrick be able to win Kat over and Cameron will be able to have Bianca?

You think having spent over a year and a half watching critically acclaimed movies and award winners I wouldn't like a teen comedy. Guess not. I'm actually surprised I liked it. Maybe because I could relate to the lead characters. Or because Heath Ledger AND Joseph Gordon-Levitt are in the same movie. I don't know, probably both. Anyway, if you're looking for a light comedy (or a translation of The Taming of the Shrew), here you go.

My Rating: ****

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Natural

Baseball: the national pasttime. When it comes to the movies, it's just as great as the sport itself.

Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) could have been the greatest to ever play the game until a scandalous incident sidetracked his career. Years later, Roy is back, hoping to take one last crack with the struggling New York Knights. The problem is, no one on the team believe there's anything left in this aging rookie.

It's definitely an uplifting movie, I can say that. No matter how much he is belittled, no matter how much he is criticized, Hobbs keeps going. Redford has a strong supporting cast including Glenn Close, Robert Duvall and Kim Basinger. One of the best baseball movies I've seen.

My Rating: ****1/2

The Pianist

I find movies on the Holocaust more believable if the director was either alive during that time and/or survived it. Yes, Steven Spielberg experienced neither, I know, but he's an exception with Schindler's List. Anyway, Roman Polanski's The Pianist shows his views on the event.

Wladyslaw Szpilman (Adrien Brody) is a Polish Jew who is an accomplished piano player. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he becomes subject to the anti-Jewish laws imposed by the conquering Germans. By the start of the 1940s, Szpilman has seen his world go from piano concert halls to the Jewish Ghetto of Warsaw and then must suffer the tragedy of his family deported to German concentration camps, while he is conscripted into a forced German labor compound. At last, he decides to escape. For years, he struggles to survive as the Germans take over.

Schindler's List is in the German's point of view; The Pianist is in the Jew's pointof view. The fact that Polanski based some of the scenes off of his own experiences of the Holocaust gives it a more stunning feel. Brody gives a marvelous performance as Szpilman. The feeling of isolation throughout the second half makes the movie feel more absorbing as though we have been through that. Along with Schindler's List, The Pianist is one of the best movies on the Holocaust and the German occupation.

My Rating: *****

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I try to avoid movie focusing on heavily debated subjects (ie, gay rights, capital punishment) because I know if I bring up the movie it'll start a heated discussion. But if the movie is one of the best-reviewed movies of its release year, then I'll see it.

Milk chronicles the career of openly gay politician Harvey Milk (Sean Penn). His acts to get gay rights in San Francisco garners not only respect and friends, but also more than a few enemies.

Penn delivers a strong performance as Harvey Milk. He acts alongside a stellar supporting cast which includes Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna and James Franco. The movie made my views on gay rights strengthen a bit. As I've stated a few times before, I'm for gay rights. And Milk opened me to the background of the movement.

My Rating: *****

The Deer Hunter

War movies, particularly those set in the Vietnam War, tend to show how vicious man can become. They also show how vunerable man really is.

Michael (Robert De Niro), Nick (Christopher Walken) and Steven (John Savage) are three friends from Pennsylvania who have enlisted to fight in Vietnam. Prior to getting shipped out, they celebrate Steven's wedding and enjoy their final days of civilian life. What they endure in Vietnam will change their lives forever.

This is one of those movies where words can't describe the brilliance and wonder of it. De Niro appears calm during the intense moments, as though he has been through it before. Did Walken earn the Oscar? Absolutely. He gives one of the best performances I've seen in a long time, clearly showing he is the one most affected by the war. The Russian roulette sequences will scare you to no end. Hands down one of the most emotionally powerful movies ever made.

My Rating: *****

Monday, August 16, 2010


I've stated before I'm interested in criminology. The type of crimes I'm the most interested in are the unsolved ones.

Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a cartoonist who works for the San Francisco Chronicle. His quirky ways irritate Paul Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.), a reporter whose drinking gets in the way of doing his job. The two become friends thanks to a shared interest: the Zodiac killer. Graysmith steadily becomes obsessed with the case, as Avery's life spirals into drunken oblivion. Graysmith's amateur sleuthing puts him onto the path of David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo), a police inspector who has thus far failed to catch his man. Graysmith's job, wife and children all become unimportant next to the one thing that really matters: catching the Zodiac.

Although I very much admired Se7en, I think David Fincher tried too hard to make Zodiac like it. But I still like it. Gyllenhaal, Downey and Ruffalo give good performances. I probably would've liked it more if it was just a little shorter. If you're interested in criminology like I am, I recommend Zodiac to you.

My Rating: ****1/2

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gone Baby Gone

Dennis Lehane is renowned for his Boston-based crime novels (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone). The adaptations of his works are just as well-known.

When 4 year old Amanda McCready disappears from her home and the police make little headway in solving the case, the girl's aunt Beatrice (Amy Madigan) hires private investigators Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan). They admit that they have little experience with this type of case, but the family wants them for two reasons: they're not cops and they know the tough neighborhood in which they all live. As the case progresses, Kenzie and Gennaro face drug dealers, gangs and pedophiles. When they finally solve the case, they are faced with a moral dilemma that tears them apart.

Ironic, once you think of it. Ben Affleck isn't that great of an actor, but he's a better director. Not a first time thing (*cough* Sofia Coppola *cough*), but still it's impressive. Having seen two other Lehane adaptations (Mystic River and Shutter Island), I knew what to expect. It's definitely an ambitious and impressive directorial debut.

My Rating: ****1/2

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Minority Report

Sci-fi is an interesting genre on its own. Combine it with film noir and you got a really intriguing movie. Even more so if it's directed by one of the most prolific directors in Hollywood.

John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is a police officer who works for "Pre-Crime", an elite unit that predicts crimes before they happen. However, Anderton discovers that he will kill a complete stranger in less than 36 hours, making him a fugitive.

What can you expect from Steven Spielberg besides a freakin' awesome movie? Because that's what Minority Report is. Having read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (its movie counterpart is better known as Blade Runner), another Philip K. Dick work, I already had a sense of the neo-noir that's a feature to his work. It's just so awesome. Interesting that I said that since I'm not that big of a fan of science fiction.

My Rating: *****

Friday, August 13, 2010

North by Northwest

When the name of Alfred Hitchcock is mentioned, the main five movies that come up are Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo, The Birds and North by Northwest, the latter I will be reviewing.

Advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) gets mistaken for a man by the name of George Kaplan. As he tries to prove he isn't Kaplan, Thornhill almost unwittingly gets involved in a murder case where he is the accused murderer.

In typical Hitchcock style, he brings on the suspense early on. The difference is he reveals one of the major twists early on, which actually works rather than have the movie decline in quality. The chemistry between Grant and Eva Marie Saint is good. This is definitely one of Hitchcock's best.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

I had grown curious on Sidney Lumet's most recent movie after hearing good things about it. And after reading Andrew's high praises, I became very compelled to watch it.

In dire need of money, Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Hank Hanson (Ethan Hawke) conspire to rob their parents' jewelry store. When the attempted robbery leaves their mother dead, their father Charles (Albert Finney) investigates the crime and uncovers shocking details.

As I was watching this, I kept thinking about an earlier Lumet movie, Dog Day Afternoon. The plots for both are almost similar: two men are behind robberies where the results go from bad to worse. The main difference is Before the Devil Knows You're Dead sucks you in (Dog Day Afternoon, however, takes its time). Hoffman and Hawke give great performances, as do Finney and Marisa Tomei. Just watching this made me wonder how Lumet doesn't have an Oscar yet.

My Rating: *****

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

3:10 to Yuma

I've been seeing a lot of westerns lately. Ranging from featuring John Wayne to Clint Eastwood to the actors in between, directors from John Ford to Sergio Leone, and having loads of action, they are always entertaining.

Rancher Daniel Evans (Christian Bale) agrees to help take outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to the 3:10 train to Yuma for his trial. But Wade is a cunning outlaw, so Evans has to keep a sharp eye on him. Throw in having Wade's gang coming after them and it's a fight for their lives.

So awesome. Take note that the final scenes are a homage to High Noon. By that, I mean as time passes the suspense builds. The thrill of an Eastwood western, the intensity of a John Wayne western, 3:10 to Yuma is just damn good. Bale and Crowe are a good actor pairing for this particular movie. Ben Foster, who plays a member of Wade's gang, is also very good. If you're a fan of westerns, this is just for you.

My Rating: ****1/2

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy 101 Award

Okay, so Dan over at Top10Films tagged me with the Happy 101 Award. Basically I gotta name ten things that make me happy and tag ten other bloggers. The good thing is it doesn't have to be all movie-related (about time!). Okay, ten things:

1) Movies. Duh...

2) Books. Again, duh...

3) Comments. That's usually my way of finding out if someone's actually reading what I write.

4) My cat Merlin. He's a handful (and a nut) but I still love the goober.

5) Funny posts. Particularly those by Univarn (who I'm tagging).

6) Black and white movies. A little more specific than the first one I mentioned. I believe black and white films have a more romantic feel to it.

7) Hilarious movies references. More specifically from these two sites.

8) Lists. Usually the choices mentioned on them are pretty interesting. A cool site to check out if you're interested.

9) Music. It's weird because I listen to rock music to calm me down if I'm in a bad mood.

10) Having conversations with other bloggers. I don't usually reply to the comments, but I talk to a lot of other bloggers on Twitter. My account, if you're curious.

So, ten bloggers to tag, huh? Already tagged one earlier, so I'm left with nine.

Julian of Movies and Other Things...
John of John Likes Movies
Andrew of Encore's World of Film and TV
Danny of The King Bulletin
Mad Hatter of The Dark of the Matinee
Alex of Film Forager
Sam at Film Intel

Soo, that's that.


As I said before, when I need an animation fix I rely on Pixar to give a good time.

Grumpy widower Carl Fredrickson (Ed Asner) is forced into a retirement home after accidentally injuring a construction worker. But on the day he's suppose to move, he and his home fly away by thousands of balloons. His main destination is Paradise Falls, a locale he promised his wife they would visit. Carl finds that he's not alone; Russell (Jordan Nagai), a young Wilderness Explorer, had snuck onto the house before takeoff.

Can I just say something? If you don't get a little emotional during the first ten minutes, you have a heart of stone. Anyway, back to the review. Pixar always hits the right notes for an entertaining movie, and this is no exception. I think from time to time that Pixar makes movies aimed at everybody, not just kids. For those who have seen "The Mary Tyler Moore Show", it seems appropriate that Asner was cast as a cantankerous old man ("You got spunk. I hate spunk!"). The Michael Giacchino score fits for every scene, especially for the first ten minutes as mentioned above. Overall, Up is one not to be missed.

My Rating: *****

Monday, August 9, 2010

Flowers for Algernon

Like I said before, it takes a lot for a book or a movie to tug at my heartstrings. One book that managed to do that was Flowers for Algernon.

Charlie Gordon is a man who was born with an unusually low IQ. He has been chosen to be the test subject of an experimental surgery that could raise his intelligence, something already proven successful with a mouse named Algernon. The experiment's a success with Charlie and his intelligence surpasses that of the doctors behind the whole thing. But then Algernon starts to shows side effects. Will it happen to Charlie?

Oh man, I love this book. When the book starts coming to an end, i honestly felt my heart ache to no end. It's just so tragic. And I love it. It's the most heartbreaking novel I've read in a long time. I recommend it highly.

My Rating: *****

Patricia Neal: 1926-2010

Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Neal passed away Sunday from lung cancer. She was 84.
~February 20, 1926 - August 8, 2010~

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Drug addiction is not a pretty thing. It affects lives in horrible ways and can end them tragically. And Hollywood doesn't make it any prettier; it makes it more hideous than it already is.

Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) is a heroin junkie who decides to kick his addiction. Problem is that his closest friends are also heroin addicts, so conquering his addiction might hit a few snags.

Geez, this was an uncomfortable movie to watch. For two things, mainly. One, its gross-out moments (if you've seen it, you know which ones I'm talking about). And two, the scene where Mark tries to quit cold turkey. That was probably one of the more painful scenes I had to watch. But apart from those reasons, Trainspotting is a good movie on addiction and the road to sobriety.

My Rating: ****

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Almost Famous

Most movies have a composed score. Only several times does a movie have its own personal soundtrack (ie, High Fidelity, Trainspotting).
William Miller (Patrick Fugit) is a fifteen-year-old who is hired by Rolling Stone to tour with and write about up-and-coming band Stillwater. During the tour, William learns about love, life and music.
Knowing Cameron Crowe had based Almost Famous off his own experiences as a writer for Rolling Stone gives the movie a more personal feel to it. The acting is just great; Frances McDormand plays William's over concerned mother at the right level, Kate Hudson has a nice dramatic role (which is something she should be doing rather than bad romantic comedies), and Billy Crudup is awesome as Stillwater's lead guitarist. But I loved Fugit's performance more. He's the most sympathetic in the entire movie. As well as stellar acting, you got a schweet soundtrack and a cool flashback to the 1970's. Oh, and it'll leave a warm, fuzzy feeling when it's over. Well, it did for me anyway.
My Rating: *****

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Ever since Alfred Hitchcock left an impact on Hollywood, many have tried to copy his success. There have been many imitators but few have had the same effect.

After being assumed by a wealthy couple as a friend of their son, Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) agrees to go to Italy to bring back the Greenleafs' son Dickie (Jude Law), even though they've never met. Tom manages to charm both Dickie and his girlfriend Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow) at first, but Dickie tires of Tom, causing major problems later on.

This is something you should take note of when you watch The Talented Mr. Ripley. When we're first introduced to Tom, the real Tom, he is perceived as an undignified square. But when he's pretending to be someone he's not, he becomes a much more interesting person.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is perfectly cast (along with Damon, Paltrow and Law, it also features Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman). Damon is great as the cunning con. Law is probably the first actor since Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire to play a character that just oozes sexuality. And like Brando's Stanley, Law's Dickie is self-centered and he uses people for his own gain. To sum it up, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a very sexy and great thriller.

My Rating: *****

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Prizzi's Honor

I think since I saw The Godfather last year I've been seeing more crime-based movies.

Charley Partanna (Jack Nicholson) is a hitman who works for the Prizzis, one of the richest crime syndicate families in the country. Unbeknowst to Charley, the Prizzis just hired free-lance killer Irene Walker (Kathleen Turner) to eliminate someone who double-crossed them. When Irene and Charley fall in love, their jobs become complicated.

Now I like the occasional crime comedy, but this just didn't work for me. Don't get me wrong. I liked it. It's just that it felt a little...off for me. Turner plays the ideal femme fatale while Nicholson is the unfortunate man to fall into her trap.

My Rating: ****

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Animal House

It's lewd. It's crude. It's rude. And also one of the funniest movies I've seen.

Delta House: the worst fraternity at Faber College. It's also the only fraternity that accepts Kent "Flounder" Dorfman (Stephen Furst) and Larry "Pinto" Kroger (Tom Hulce). Dean Wormer (John Vernon) has gotten fed up with the Deltas' antics and will do anything to bring them down. But the Deltas, especially John "Bluto" Blutarsky (John Belushi), aren't going down without a fight.

I will admit that Animal House was originally the funniest movie I've ever seen, but bear in mind I saw this before I saw more sophisticated comedies like The Apartment or Some Like It Hot. It's still funny though. And the fact I can quote Bluto's rousing if historically inaccurate speech to the defeated Deltas makes Animal House a movie that's forever embedded in America's subconscious.

My Rating: *****

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lawrence of Arabia

What classifies a movie as an epic? An epic is considered "human drama on a grand scale". I have seen many in my short but busy life (The Godfather, Schindler's List, Spartacus) and although they're three-plus hours long, they fly by just from their tru brilliance.

T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) is a bored British officer who seeks adventure in the desert during World War I. Lawrence manages to convince his superiors to allow him to make his desert journey so that he can possibly assist in forming a coalition among fractious Arab tribes against their common enemy, the Turks. Once there, Lawrence experiences success beyond his wildest imagination and is lionized for his vision and leadership.

Oh my God, what to say about Lawrence of Arabia? I'll start with the obvious. The cinematography is STUNNING and the music just fits perfectly with every scene. Had there not been such a huge competition that year, O'Toole definitely would've won the Oscar. Thank you David Lean for directing a powerful and brilliant epic. Oh, and if you want the true effect, watch this on a big screen.

My Rating: *****

Sunday, August 1, 2010


One year. That's how long this blog has been up for. I didn't imagine I'd get this far. I pictured the blog lasting for a few months before I called it quits.

I have become a part of the blogging community. I have garnered several acquaintances from my reviews and posts. I have become a member of a well-known movie blog, which made me compelled to continue reviewing.

I have several people to thank who are responsible for helping me reach this achievement. I thank the bloggers who read and support my work. I thank the readers for making me realize why I do this. I thank you all.

Here's to the coming years.

BOOK VS MOVIE: Revolutionary Road

I have read works that usually takes a while for them to get interesting. Same thing goes for the occasional movie.
Frank and April Wheeler are a young couple whose marriage has hit a snag and have grown bored with suburban life. April suggests they move to Paris, to which they plan vigorously for. But problems arise and tensions flare when Frank gets a promotion and April becomes pregnant.
Richard Yates' writing is unique from other writers I've read. He points out a character's flaws as they're introduced rather than showing them as the novel progresses. That I like.
I recall when the movie was released everyone was saying it was going to be like Titanic. Well, no. Here, Kate and Leo are an unhappily married couple (which is evident in one of the first scenes alone). The only thing that makes Revolutionary Road like Titanic is that one of them is dead by the end of the movie. A few good scenes from the book weren't in the movie, which I didn't like. DiCaprio and Winslet delivered good performances, but Michael Shannon steals the movie right from under their noses. To sum up what I was saying before, Revolutionary Road is the anti-Titanic.
What's worth checking out?: I'd go with the book.