Friday, April 30, 2010


Like I said before, I prefer guy movies over chick flicks. And to cement that statement, I shall review a bonafide guy movie: Heat.

Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) is a expert of the best. His philosophy in life: become attached to nothing in life that you can't walk away from in 30 seconds if you spot the "heat" around the corner. His crew of criminals is a high-tech outfit pulling off professional jobs that impress even the ikes of Det. Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino). But Hanna, a man driven through life only by his work, becomes obssessed, at the expense of his private life, with bringing McCauley down. As McCauley's crew prepare for the score of a lifetime, and Hanna's team tries to bring him in, the two find that they are challenged by the greatest minds on the opposite side of the law that either one has ever encountered.

Man, what to say about Michael Mann's crime film? I have a few choice words: gripping, tense, FUCKIN' AWESOME. (ahem) Moving on. I can truly understand why Christopher Nolan used Heat as an influence when making The Dark Knight.

My Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Sting

Some actor pairings manage to stand the test of time for their longevity (ie, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy). In the case of Paul Newman and Robert Redford's two-film collaboration, it's just as great.

Small time grifter Johnny Hooker (Redford) unknowingly steals from big time crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) when he pulls a standard street con. Lonnegan demands satisfaction for the insult. After his partner Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones) is killed, Hoker flees and seeks the help of Henry Gondorff (Newman), one of Luther's contacts and a master of the long con. Hooker wants to use Gondorff's expertise to take Lonnegan for an enourmous sum of money to even the score, since he admits he "doesn't know enough about killing to kill him". They devise a complicated scheme and amass a talented group of other con artists who want their share of reparations. The stakes are high in this game and our heroes must not only deal with Lonnegan's murderous tendencies, but also other side players who want a piece of the action. To win, Hooker and Gondorff will need all of their skills...and a fair amount of confidence.

In some ways, The Sting reminded me of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid not for the same lead actors (and director) but for the comedic antics woven into the plot of committing the perfect crime. You really have to pay attention to the movie; there are so many twists and turns throughout that if you lose focus, you might not understand what is going on.

My Rating: *****

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Motorcycle Ride on the Sea of Tranquility

I have voiced my opinion on directorial debuts, now onto first-time authors.

Yolanda Sahagun is anticipating the arrival of her older brother Chuy, who is returning from Vietnam. But upon his return, it is evident that the war has changed him.

The fact that the novel is in first person shows more of Yolanda's feeling than if it was in third person. The mood throughout may feel bleak, but Yolanda's optimism manages to keep the book uplifting. Patricia Santana's writing seems typical among first-time authors, but she is very good for a first timer.

My Rating: ****

Why I Love the Movies

Kid In The Front Row asked a simple question for his readers. That question is this:

The task: In NO MORE than 20 words, explain WHY you LOVE the MOVIES!

Well, to answer the question here's my answer:

To laugh, to cry, to escape, to imagine. Would there be any other reason to love the movies?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Soloist

Once in a while, I go to the movies to see a movie that most people overlook rather than an overhyped big-budget blockbuster. Case in point, I'm reviewing The Soloist.

In 2005, the only thing hurting Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey, Jr.) more than his face from a recent bike accident was his pressing need for story ideas. That is when he discovers Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a mentally ill homeless street musician who possesses extraordinary talent, even through his half-broken instruments. Inspired by his story, Lopez writes an acclaimed series of articles about Ayers and attempts to do more to help both him and the rest of the underclass of LA have a better life. However, Lopez's good intentions run headlong in the hard realities of the strength of Ayers' personal demons and the larger social injustices facing the homeless. Regardless, Lopez and Ayers must find a way to conquer their deepest anxieties and frustrations to hope for a brighter future for both of them.

Both Downey and Foxx deliver strong performances, but the movie itself lags throughout. You would think Joe Wright would direct a strong movie judging from his earlier efforts (Pride and Prejudice and Atonement), but alas he does not.

My Rating: ****

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ladder 49

Occasionally, a movie becomes a smash hit then a few years later nobody really remembers much about it. Case in point, I'm reviewing Ladder 49.

Under the watchful eye of his mentor Captain Mike Kennedy (John Travolta), probationary firefighter Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) matures into a seasoned veteran at a Baltimore fire station. Jack has reached a crossroads, however, as the sacrifices he's made have put him in harm's way innumerable times and significantly impacted his relationship with his wife and kids. Responding to the worst blaze in his career, he becomes trapped inside a 20-story building. And as he reflects on his life, now Assistant Chief Kennedy frantically coordinates the effort to save him.

Like what I said in the introduction, Ladder 49 managed to make a large return (its budget was $20 million; made over $100 million worldwide) and a few years later it's all but forgotten. It's worth checking out, I will admit that.

My Rating: ****

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I like watching underrated movies from rolific directors (Billy Wilder's Stalag 17, Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery). An excellent example is Sidney Lumet's Serpico.

Frank Serpico (Al Pacino) is an undercover police officer who starts to grow suspicious of the honesty of his division. His investigation has him embarking into dangerous territory and his fellow officers turning on him.

Lumet definitely knows how to direct a thrilling movie (other examples include Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men). And Serpico is beyond thrilling. It's gritty. It's powerful. It's real. Pacino gives one of his best performances. He probaby would've won too.

My Rating: ****1/2

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Seven Movie Questions Meme

Having seen the success of He Shot Cyrus' 10 Movie Facts About Me Meme, I decided to start one of my own. It's only a few questions, really.

1) What was you first movie-going experience?

2) How many DVDs do you own?

3) What is your guilty pleasure movie?

4) You have compiled a list of your top 100 movies. Which movies didn't make the cut?

5) Which movie(s) do you compulsively watch over and over again?

6) Classic(s) you're embarrassed to admit you haven't seen yet?

7) What movie posters do you have hanging on your wall?

I'm not answering these because I'm more curious on what other bloggers have to say. Speaking of which, I should mention them:

~ Univarn of A Life in Equinox: A Movie Lover's Journal
~ Alex of Film Forager
~ Julian Stark of Movies and Other Things...
~ Danny King of The King Bulletin
~ Matthew Lucas of From the Front Row
~ The Mad Hatter of The Dark of the Matinee
~ Andrew of Encore's World of Film & TV
~ Candice Frederick of Reel Talk
~ Fletch of Blog Cabins
~ John Gilpatrick of John Likes Movies

Okay then, that's it! Get those posts up! GO!

UPDATE: When I said "get those posts up", I meant on your blog not in the comments.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Casino Royale

I'm not that big on movie series, but I take an interest to a few now and then (Indiana Jones, Batman, Star Wars, Back to the Future, etc.). One series that I was introduced to was the James Bond series.

Recently promoted to 00 status, James Bond (Daniel Craig) takes over his first mission, in which he faces a mysterious private banker to world terrorism and poker player, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen). Along with beautiful Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) and Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), the MI6 man in Montenegro, Bond takes part in a high stakes poker game set up by Le Chiffre in order ro recover a huge sum of his clients' money he lost in a failed plot that the British spy took down. 007 will not only discover the threatening organization behind his enemy, but the worst of all truths: to not trust on anyone.

Having never seen of the earlier James Bond movies prior to Casino Royale, I didn't really know what to expect. After seeing Casino Royale, my mind was blown. It had the right amount of action, a smart concept and a damn good time at the movies.

My Rating: ****1/2

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Boy, 1974 was a helluva year for movies. I mean, Francis Ford Coppola had The Godfather Part II and The Conversation, Sidney Lumet had Murder on the Orient Express, Mel Brooks had Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, Martin Scorsese had Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Bob Fosse had Lenny, and Roman Polanski had Chinatown, the latter I'll be reviewing.

Jake "J.J." Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is a private detective who seems to specialize in matrimonial cases. He is hired by Evelyn Mulwray when she suspects that her husband Hollis (Darrell Zwerling), builder of the city's water supply system, of having an affair. Gittes does what he does best and photographs him with a young girl but in the ensuing scandal, it seems he was hired by an impersonator (Diane Ladd) and not the real Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway). When Mr. Mulwray is found dead, Jake is plunged into a complex web of deceit involving murder, incest and municipal corruption all related to the city's water supply.

Having seen Rosemary's Baby before Chinatown, I knew that Roman Polanski was an expert on creating suspense. Nicholson delivers one of his best performances, while Dunaway executes the perfect femme fatale. Robert Towne's screenplay has many twists and turns that'll keep you on edge until the very end.

My Rating: *****

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Taxi Driver

I managed to have seen three of Martin Scorsese's best-known (and violent) movies just this year. Those three being Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Taxi Driver, the latter I will be reviewing.

Vietnam vet Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is a loner in the mean streets of New York City, slipping slowly into isolation and violent misanthropy. In solving his insomnia by driving a taxi cab on the night shift, he grows increasingly disgusted by the low-lifes that hang out at night: "Someday a real rain will come and wash all the scum off the streets." His touching attempts to woo Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), a Senator's campaign worker, turns sour when he takes her to a porn movie on their first date. He even fails in his attempt to persuade child prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster) to desert her pimp Matthew (Harvey Keitel) and return to her parents and school. Driven to the edge by powerlessness, he buys four handguns and sets out to assassinate the Senator, heading for the infamy of a 'lone crazed gunman'...

Although I really liked Taxi Driver, it's not my favorite Scorsese movie (that honor goes to Goodfellas). De Niro's performance of Travis Bickle ranks up there with his performance of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. Scorsese manages to build up the anguish Travis is feeling masterfully. But honestly, who's to judge a famed collaboration like Scorsese and De Niro?

My Rating: *****

Mrs. Dalloway

I have managed to catch up on reading the classics. I've read works by John Steinbeck, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, among others. One work I have recently read was Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway.

In post-World War I London, Clarissa Dalloway plans a party to be held at her home. The novel follows Clarissa's day, as well as the day of several other characters. Two others include Septimus Warren Smith, a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and Peter Walsh, a man who still has affections for Clarissa (and vice versa).

I liked the novel, but there were a few flaws I didn't approve of. For starters, the entire writing style was stream of consciousness, a method I don't really like. It felt like Woolf spent too much time in the minds of her characters. I thought throughout the book, "What point are you trying to make?" But if you have an appreciation for English literature, I would recommend it to those that do.

My Rating: ***

Saturday, April 17, 2010

10 Movie Facts About Me

I don't know whether to thank or curse Univarn for mentioning me. But either way, I knew this would happen. It's going to be hard to think of some good ones, believe me.

1) If you couldn't guess the meaning of my username (MovieNut14), it's actually rather simple. I became interested in movies at the age of 14.

2) Movie I'm ashamed to admit I haven't seen? Schindler's List.

3) I almost never re-watch a movie. My memory is that good.

4) Movie I thank for getting me interested in film? On the Waterfront.

5) Some people get songs stuck in their heads, I get scenes from movies stuck in mine. If I like the scene, it gets stuck in my head and never gets out. For example, the New Year's scene from The Godfather Part II.

6) As well as scenes, I get movie lines stuck in my head. Such as "Well, nobody's perfect" from Some Like It Hot and "We all go a little mad sometimes" from Psycho. Believe me, it's annoying.

7) I never cry at a movie. The farthest I got to getting emotional from a movie was tearing up big time at the end of Chaplin.

8) I don't have a specific genre of movie that I like. I kind of like drama, but overall I'm seeing different types of movies to determine which genre I like.

9) Before starting up the blog, I had (and still do) memberships on two review sites called Everyone's a Critic and EverHYPE (my membership for the latter will be gone once I get all of my reviews from there onto the blog).

10) The first movie I reviewed for the blog was 12 Angry Men.

Hmm, who to nominated... Oh, I know! Danny and Julian Stark, I'd love to see movie facts about you two.

Batman Returns

It's really rare to see a sequel to do as well or better than the original critically in the case of mainstream movies (Aliens, The Dark Knight). If you're wondering where Batman Returns falls into, it's not there.

A deformed baby boy is thrown into Gotham City's river by his horrified parents (Paul Reubens and Diane Salinger). Thirty-three years later, the child is transformed as the Penguin (Danny DeVito), whose gang of freaks disrupts the ceremonial lighting of Gotham's Christmas tree and kidnaps millionaire industrialist Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). Armed with evidence of Shreck's many crimes, the Penguin blackmails him into finding the true identity of his parents. When the Penguin's plight becomes news, he's propelled into running for mayor. Batman (Michael Keaton), however, is unconvinced by the Penguin. Meanwhile, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), Shreck's secretary, discovers a plan created by Shreck to drain Gotham of its power. Because of that, she's thrown fromt he top of the building by Shreck. She's revived by alley cats and returns home. After a bit of needlework, she is now Catwoman.

Much like what I said for the first one, the only problem I had with the movie was that it focused too much on the supporting characters. But if you just want a simple superhero movie to watch on a lazy afternoon, here's your movie.

My Rating: ***1/2

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I have seen four of the six (seven if you count that one from the 1960's) Batman movies, all of which dircted by either Tim Burton or Christopher Nolan.

The town of Gotham City is under control by crime boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance). Despite the best efforts of district attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) and police commissioner James Gordon (Pat Hingle), the city's police department is still corrupt. Meanwhile, photojournalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) and reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) begin to investigate the rumors of a vigilante dressed as a bat, who's been frightening criminals throughout the city. They attend a benefit held at the mansion of billionaire Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton), who's amused by Vicki's charm. That same evening, Grissom's second in command Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) is sent to raid the Axis Chemicals factory, but he realizes he was set up by Grissom, who was angered by the affair Napier had with his mistress, after the police arrive. Batman arrives at the factory in the midst of a shootout. Napier falls into a vat of unknown chemicals and, after a botched surgical attempt, becomes "the Joker".

I like the dark, edgy feel to the movie, but the only problem I had with it was that the supporting roles got more attention than the lead. Forget what the naysayers said, Keaton was good as Batman. Nicholson was also good, but after seeing Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, he was modest at best.

My Rating: ****

Monday, April 12, 2010

Official War Movie Blogathon

To be optimistic, I managed to get e-mails. To be pessimistic, I barely got anything. But nonetheless, I got something this time.
BONUS POST! A Life in Equinox: A Movie Lover's Journal examines the difference between a war movie and a movie during war.

Hmm, I think I should just ask flat out what type of blogathon the readers want. Oh, wait, I think I will. What type of blogathon do you want to see? Do you want about an actor? A director? A certain genre? Geez, I'm sounding desperate. Anyway, let me know what you'd like in the comments.

Oh, I should add something else. THIS IS POST #200! WHOOT!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Walk the Line

I think that the most common subject for biopics are musicians. I mean, come on. The Doors, Coal Miner's Daughter, Ray and The Runaways are good examples. Another good example is the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line.

Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) has gone through a very troublesome life. His brother died when he was young, he never got along with his father and he struggled to get into the music business. Once he broke through, he had to overcome drug addiction with the help of fellow singer June Carter (Reese Witherspoon).

I've been hearing a lot of backlash on Witherspoon's performance, mostly that she didn't deserve the Oscar. I somewhat agree with that statement, but honestly she wasn't that bad but she wasn't that great. Besides, I liked Phoenix's performance more. He probably would've won had Philip Seymour Hoffman and Heath Ledger weren't up for Best Actor the same year.

My Rating: ****1/2

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Days of Heaven

Most movies are noted for something that makes it memorable. Jaws had its score, Citizen Kane had its cinematic shots and Days of Heaven had its cinematography.

Bill (Richard Gere) and Abby (Brooke Adams), a young couple who to the outside world pretend to be brother and sister, are living and working in Chicago at the beginning of the century. They want to escape the poverty and hard labor of the city and travel south. Together with Bill's yonger sister Linda (Linda Manz) (who acts as the narrator), they find employment on a farm in the Texas Panhandle. When the harvest is over, the young, rich, handsome farmer (Sam Shepard) invites them to stay because he has fallen in love with Abby. When Bill and Abby discover that the farmer is seriously ill and has only one year left to live, they decide that Abby will accept his marriage proposal in order to make some benefit out of the situation. When the expected death fails to come, jealousy and impatience are slowly setting in and accidents become eventually inevitable.

Although the cinematography is stunning, it pretty much covers up a weak plotline. The acting is moderate at best. Terrence Malick's direction was good though.

My Rating: ****

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Five Desert Island Movies and Books

The Dark of the Matinee recently did a post on five (later changed to eight) movies he would have if trapped on a desert island. I thought I'd do a similar list. But along with movies, I thought I should throw in some books. And believe me, this is not going to be easy.

1) Some Like It Hot ~ Hey, you're stuck on an island. You need something to cheer you up.
2) The Aviator ~ I am a fan of Raging Bull and Goodfellas, but I rather have The Aviator as my Scorsese movie for a desert island movie. DiCaprio's performance is outstanding.
3) Mystic River ~ Although I've only seen three of his movies as a director, Mystic River is the movie I'll remember Clint Eastwood for.
4) Brokeback Mountain ~ Tragic love story. What more do you need?
5) The Empire Strikes Back ~ I do appreciate the first one, but the second one (the fifth to you Star Wars junkies) has a place in my heart.
6) The Shawshank Redemption ~ As I stated in my review, this managed to leave a bigger impact on me than any other classic I've seen.
7) Ed Wood ~ Being the Tim Burton fan that I am, it would be kinda stupid to not bring along one of his movies if trapped on a desert island. This one is my favorite of the ones I've seen. You gotta love the optimism Johnny Depp has throughout the movie.
8) Once Upon a Time in the West ~ You gotta love it. Great movie, hell of a performance from Henry Fonda, and essentially one of the most effing awesome movies I've seen.

1) The Godfather by Mario Puzo ~ Why this instead of the movie? Although I love the movie, you can handle so much of it.
2) In Cold Blood by Truman Capote ~ The fact that it's about a true crime makes it more chilling.
3) The Shining by Stephen King ~ Again, why this instead of the movie? One reason and one reason only: I liked the book more.
4) A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess ~ Although I have admitted this book scared the hell out of me, I'd be willing to read again.
5) Misery by Stephen King ~ This the only Stephen King novel that truly scared me.

Hmm, the movie choices are diverse but the books all have a theme of violence. Weird...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

In my opinion, biopics are shoo-ins for Oscars. I mean, just look at the number of Oscar-nominated performances that are actual people. Anyway, before I get sidetracked, onto the review.

John Nash (Russell Crowe) goes through a myraid of highs and lows from his time as a mathematics student in graduate school at Princeton in the late 1940's to his Nobel Prize win for Economics in 1994. A brilliant but somewhat arrogant and antisocial man, Nash preferred to spend his time with his thoughts than with people. Two people he did make a connection with were Charles Herman (Paul Bettany), his roommate at Princeton, and Alicia Larde (Jennifer Connelly), one of his students when he was teaching at MIT in the early 1950's. He and Alicia eventually marry. As time goes on, Nash lives more and more within himself which causes major problems in his life.

The performances were good, and that's all I have to say. Connelly was good, but not Oscar-worthy good. Crowe was better and more Oscar-worthy. The movie itself I can sum up in one word: modest.

My Rating: ****1/2

The Conversation

When the name of Francis Ford Coppola is brought up, the two movies most people associate with him are The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. Which is kind of sad since more people know him by those two and not acknowledge the rest of his filmography.

Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is a surveillance expert who's a tad paranoid. He never tells anyone, not even those working in the same field, what he does. When the couple he's monitoring mentions murder in their conversation, his paranoia increases.

I assume not many people are aware of this Coppola gem since it was made between The Godfather and its sequel. But disregarding that fact, don't overlook this. It's a very brilliant thriller.

My Rating: *****

Plannned Reviews for May

The title is pretty much self-explanatory.

May 4

May 6
The Lady from Shanghai
Good Night, and Good Luck

May 7
High Noon

May 9
Finding Neverland
Murder on the Orient Express
Terms of Endearment

May 12
Bringing Up Baby

May 14
Star Wars
Cast Away
Lost in Translation

May 16
The Grapes of Wrath

May 17
Easy Rider

May 18
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

May 19
Sleepless in Seattle

May 20
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

May 23
Tuesdays with Morrie

May 26
The Searchers

May 30
Red River

May 31
In Bruges

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Truman Show

I really like Jim Carrey's work as an actor, but I like his serious work more. You know, movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show, stuff like that.

Truman Burbank (Carrey) has a charmed life, a happy marriage to Meryl (Laura Linney) and good friends. What he doesn't know is that it's all set up; his life is actually a TV show created by Christof (Ed Harris). But Truman begins to suspect his life isn't what it seems...

If you read the plot on paper, you would've thought it was the formula for a box office bomb. But thanks to Carrey's performance, Peter Weir's direction and Andrew Niccol's screenplay, it proved to be a box office success. Carrey's Oscar snub shows how unattentive AMPAS can really be.

My Rating: ****1/2

Monday, April 5, 2010


Damn. Five Hitchcock movies, and they get better and better.
Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) is a psychoanalyst at Green Manors who is perceived by the other doctors as detached and emotionless. Dr. Murchison (Leo G. Carroll), the director of the hospital, is being forced into retirement. His replacement is the much younger Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck). But Petersen notices Edwardes' odd behavior...
This definitely had the Hitchcock tone and feel to it. I liked the dream sequence by Salvador Dali. The chemistry between Bergman and Peck is good, but not strong enough. But overall, it's a damn good psychological thriller.
My Rating: *****

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Find the connection between these names. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. If you guessed they're all famed actor pairings, you're right. I shall review the last movie the latter did together, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

Joanna "Joey" Drayton (Katharine Houghton) returns from a trip to Hawaii with her new fiance Dr. John Prentice (Sidney Poitier). Both are unsure of what their parents will think of their interracial relationship. Joey's mother Christina (Hepburn) approves, though her father Matt (Tracy) does not.

I really like it, but there was one thing that got on my nerves. It was the character of Joey. She's too damn perky. But apart from that, this is a very good movie. The performances from Poitier, Tracy and Hepburn are sensational.

My Rating: *****

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Man, Terry Gilliam has one vivid imagination. Well, what do you expect from one of the members of Monty Python? You ain't gonna find anything normal.

In London, the sideshow troupe of Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) promises to the audiences a journey to the "Imaginarium", an imaginary world commanded by the mind of Doctor Parnassus where dreams come true. In the stories Doctor Parnassus tells to his daughter Valentina (Lily Cole), to the midget Percy (Verne Troyer), and his assistant Anton (Andrew Garfield), he claims have more than one thousand years; however, when he fell in love with a mortal, he made a deal with the devil Mr. Nick (Tom Waits) trading his immortality per youth. As part of bargain, he promised his son or daughter to Mr. Nick on the sixteenth birthday. Valentina now is almost in the doomed age and Doctor Parnassus bets with Mr. Nick that whoever seduces five souls in the Imaginarium will have Valentina as a prize. Meanwhile the troupe rescues Tony (Heath Ledger) that was hanging on a bridge by the Russians that explains why he had been chased and he joins the group. Tony and Valentina fall in love with each other and the jealous Anton discovers that his competitor is a liar.

I really liked the movie, but boy was it trippy. I thought it was kinda weird that an American (Johnny Depp), a Brit (Jude Law), an Irishman (Colin Farrell) and an Aussie (Heath Ledger) were all cast for one role, but it doesn't matter. It works.

My Rating: ****

Sherlock Holmes

(sigh) Robert Downey, Jr.. So hot and talented, a rarity in Hollywood. Anyway, back to the review.

In 1891 London, Sherlock Holmes (Downey) and Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) stop an attempted ritual murder by Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who has killed five other people in a similar manner. Blackwood is hanged, but not before telling Holmes about three impending deaths. Days later, news starts to circulate that Blackwood has risen from the grave, which leads to a investigation by Holmes and Watson.

You know how some directors have a certain style of filmmaking that makes them recognizable? Well, that's true in the case of Guy Ritchie. You can tell that this is his movie just from the trailer. I particularly love the score by Hans Zimmer. It has the sophisticated tone of a period piece mixed with the kick-ass tone found in an action movie. As for Downey and Law, I wouldn't mind to see them act alongside each other for another movie.

My Rating: ****

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Born on the Fourth of July

Another common setting for books and movies is the Vietnam War. Much like my opinion on the media's depiction on World War II, I honestly don't know why the Vietnam War is re-enacted so much. But again, I find that it makes for good entertainment.

Upon his return from the Vietnam War, Ron Kovic has become a changed man. Paralyzed from the waist down, he suffers challenges from his injury. Along with problems of his paralysis, Kovic's views on the war drastically change.

More people may be more familiar with Oliver Stone's adaptation of the novel with Tom Cruise as Kovic. But don't overlook Kovic's memoir, for it's a very true piece of literature. You feel his pain through his words. Kovic is very descriptive on what he saw while serving in Vietnam, how he became paralyzed, the hospital he recovered in, and his life afterwards. It's a very moving memoir.

My Rating: ****

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Good German

One of the more common settings for a book or movie is World War II. Why that is I don't know, but it makes for good entertainment.

Nearing the end of World War II, news correspondent Jake Geismar is sent to Germany to cover the Potsdam Conference. His main goal is to find Lena, the mistress he left behind at the outbreak of the war. Along with finding Lena, Jake becomes enthralled in solving the murder of an American soldier.

I thought that The Good German was a good book, but it's rather wordy. I would recommemd it to anyone who enjoys mystery novels and doesn't mind long books.

My Rating: ****

Thursday, April 1, 2010

BOOK VS MOVIE: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

You know how some authors completely detest the film adaptations of their novels? The most notable example is Stephen King voicing his (ahem) "opinion" on Stanley Kubrick's take of The Shining. Rewind five years earlier, Ken Kesey was upset over how One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, his debut novel, was being treated as a movie.

Life at an Oregon mental institution is normal and under control. That is, until Randale Patrick McMurphy shows up. He enlivens the patients, throws the institution into chaos and turmoil, and tests the patience of Nurse Ratched.

Mental illness is a touchy subject in the media, but it definitely works in both the book and movie. The book is a stellar piece of literature, while the movie is a fine film. The performances are great as well.
What's worth checking out?: I'd go with both.