Monday, January 19, 2009

Ghost Town (2008)

To say this is a romantic comedy, as it's listed on IMDB, is actually a bit of a stretch. This seems more like just a vehicle for Gervais' dry British wit and it works. While it has a lot of the same elements as most movies in the "ghost" genre (man sees ghosts and has to help them), it's also different in a few ways.

Gervais' character, Bertram, never wants to help any of them. As annoyed as he is with real people, he's even more so by all these ghosts. Greg Kinnear (Frank) is the one ghost who is above all the rest and he wants he widow (Tea Leoni) to just be happy in life. That's where Frank thinks Bertram will come in handy.

This was a good movie and the reason was all Ricky Gervais. His shy-guy character really works here and it'll be interesting to see if more movies can utilize it like this one did.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Man on Wire (2008)

Outstanding documentary. The whole thing almost feels like some sort of fairy tale. How he got the idea, how he got the wire up to the yet-completed top of the WTC, and how he managed to complete the entire escapade without many hitches.

The story of wirewalker Philippe Petit's journey through life that lead him to love the freedom of walking on air. It shows his other walks in Paris and Sydney, before he completes his idea for walking between the two rising New York giants. The trials and tribulations of how he got it done are just mindboggling. Not to mention the fact that he wanted to do it. I think the most poignant part for me was how he stared death in the face and, while in the middle of his walk, sat down on the wire and looked to the ground. It was almost mocking death.

While this wasn't my favorite documentary of 2008 (Young@Heart), this movie was great. It did nothing to end a fear of heights (and if you have one, you may want to stay away), but it was a great movie.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Capote (2005)

This movie is great. I did not know much about Truman Capote before I saw this, and now I know as much as I could probably handle. Phillip Seymour Hoffman just transformed into this character and fully enveloped himself. The person who doesn't get enough credit is Clifton Collins, Jr as the killer Perry Smith. His role was so in depth and introverted, that it was easy to get lost in Hoffman's overall performance.

The movie as a whole does not get all the credit it should. The storyline was great, and while it never came out and said he was gay, he wasn't hiding it in the movie. He let himself get really close to Smith and use him to get his book finished. Smith didn't get angry, he knew what was going on and let it happen.

Hoffman deserved everything he got for this role, but I wish the movie got more praise and more awards as a whole.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Yes Man (2008)

Basically, this is Liar Liar 2. While I enjoy most of Jim Carrey's movies, this one fell really flat. The storyline is very basic and the comedy is just good. There are a few laugh out loud moments, but not enough to sustain a whole film.

Jim plays Carl, a depressed office worker who has shunned off everyone else in his life after his wife left him. On a whim, he gets sucked into a self-help seminar where the leader (Terrence Stamp) encourages everyone to stop saying No and start saying Yes to everything. Get it?

The supporting cast of Bradley Cooper, Danny Masterson and Zooey Deschanel are nice compliments to Carrey's all out antics. In the end, this doesn't really pan out as a good Carrey comedy.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The 10 Worst Movies of 2008

A Countdown of the worst of the year: From worst to worstest.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - A major disappointment following huge expectations and a kick-ass trailer. (Positive note: fire ant scene)

The Other Boleyn Girl - Didn't have many expectations going into this one and I left with fewer. A somewhat interesting historical story turned into a real boring love triangle, sorta, I think....see, I still don't fully get the movie

Step Brothers - Not even the brief bouts of humor could help this Will Ferrell movie, and God, do I love Will Ferrell movies, but this was beyond stupidity.

What Happens in Vegas - Actually funnier than Step Brothers, but that's not gonna save it much. The best parts of the movie were the supporting cast of Zach Galifianakis and Rob Corddry.

Leatherheads - Maybe if there was more comedy in this supposed comedy, I would have enjoyed it. So much potential squandered.

Meet Bill - Though this movie went to a film festival in 2007, it was never released to the public (either limited or national) until 2008. I don't understand what the holdup was for, it wasn't worth it.

The Love Guru - Ok, I admit, I should not have even touched this movie. I thought maybe the cast would save it, and I was horribly wrong.

Vantage Point - Kept jumping back and forth and back and forth between all the stories that, in the end, make this a 30 minute movie. I will say that the car chase scene was passable.

August - I was so interested in this idea about the internet boom in the early 2000s, but I was so let down. It kept drawing you in and building you up to try and get a resolution and then NOTHING. I was duped. Sucked into a story that went nowhere.

The Forbidden Kingdom - The absolute worst movie I have seen this year. I get sucked into these Jackie Chan fight movies that, for some reason, I cannot get away from. This movie, the fight scenes were not any good. A ridiculous plot, god-awful acting (worse than expected), and just no real interest in anything that happened.

There you have it, I know 2009 will give me bad movies, but maybe just a little less bad.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

This movie was as emotionally amazing as it was visually. On paper, a movie about intertwining a life with being a contestant on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? seems like it would have worked if this was 1999. But it does.

The story of a boy from the slums of India (get the title now?) with a background that is just riddled let downs and disappointments, but all going back to the girl he fell in love with as a child. As their lives begin to distance from each other, the boy (Jamal) keeps trying to find ways of getting back to her, thus the reason for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

The direction is outstanding. I have seen two other movies by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting and The Beach) and now I want to see all of them. His use of colors to help accentuate the brightness of their imaginations and not the darkness of their lives is unbelievable. I highly suggest this to anyone who likes movies. Doesn't matter what kind, but anyone can appreciate this one.

The Wrestler (2008)

This is THE movie of 2008. Not only did it bring Mickey Rourke back into the mainstream, but it is an all-around terrific movie. It shows everything. It has emotion, it has heartbreak, it has triumphs and it has let-downs.

Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Rourke) is a down and out wrestler who is constantly trying to relive his glory days from the 1980s. Think Hulk Hogan and Jake "the Snake" Roberts individual stories combined and you have Randy. Shot in a grainy, almost documentary style, the movie follows Randy as he lives his bare-bones lifestyle of working part time at a grocery store and wrestling on the weekends in half-filled YMCAs and high school gymnasiums. He is definitely passed his prime, but can't do anything else with his life. A great complement is Marisa Tomei playing Cassidy/Pam, the stripper who is also passed her prime. With his assumed relationship with Cassidy and his painfully broken one with his daughter, played by Evan Rachel Wood, Randy has only one thing he knows he does right, and that is wrestling.

This movie also got pro wrestling just right and finally makes it appear legitimate in film. Between the painkillers, the steroids, but especially the backstage camaraderie. This movie should be the end all, be all of wrestling movies and deserves a spot as one of the greatest sports movies ever made.

Changeling (2008)

This movie is completely different than it looks. I thought I was going to be watching a movie about a mother who loses her child and is given fake one. Basic but somewhat interesting. What I got was a movie about the uncovering of police corruption and manipulation that made this movie a hell of a lot better.

Angelina Jolie plays the distraught mother perfectly I felt. The fact that she is recently a mother, of many, probably helped a lot. I actually believed her performance. I wanted everything to work out for her. Malkovich played the ostentatious and boisterous pastor who is always fighting to stop the LAPD corruption and is willing to help Jolie get the justice that she deserves, as opposed to the treatment she is getting. One of the underrated performances was that of Jeffrey Donovan as the juvenile department's chief.

You can't mess with Clint Eastwood nowadays. He continues to make movies that start one way and head another. I am consistently amazed by the work that he does.

Hamlet 2 (2008)

What this movie trailer makes it look like and what it actual is are two completely different things. The trailer makes it seem like it's just a stupid comedy with a somewhat funny premise. Actually, this is a parody or satire of all the inspirational teacher movies out there. Dead Poets Society, Dangerous Minds, Lean on Me, etc. It works as the latter.

Steve Coogan is great as a down-on-his-luck actor who becomes a high school drama teacher, just to fulfill his dreams, but all he can write are plays based on popular movies (Erin Brokovich being the main one). When he starts losing funding, he needs to generate funds as best he can, and that's by doing a play of his own; Hamlet 2. That's when the movie gets really funny. Elizabeth Shue is great at playing a bummed out version of herself.

I recommend this movie because it is great satire and just flat out funny. The best part is the performance of "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus."

City Lights (1931)

Charlie Chaplin, throughout most of his career, managed to make movies that portray real emotion without any spoken words. This movie is one of his best. Maybe the best.

Of course, Chaplin is the star of this movie and the only real attraction. All the other cast worked well, but the movie was obviously made by Chaplin and no one else could have done it better. With the premise being that he convinces a blind flower-girl he is a wealthy man, as opposed to his usual tramp, sound manages to be one of the key elements in the movie. But you don't hear anything. She is convinced by a car door shutting nearby. We all know what a car door sounds like and so does she, but we don't hear a thing.

This is only the 2nd Chaplin film I've seen and I'm going to see more. The reason I gave this 4.5 stars instead of a full 5 is because I know Chaplin made other great movies, and I want them to top this one.