Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kurt Cobain: About a Son (2006)

This is not a documentary like it was advertised. It was an interview Kurt Cobain gave in the early 90s that was heard over corresponding shots of places in his life. In other words, it was boring.

The traditional doc be damned, director AJ Schnack wanted to just basically show the audience, in real pictures, what Cobain's life was like. Of course, you're supposed to forget that 95% of the shots are from nowadays and not the 70s, 80s and 90s when Cobain lived. Cobain explained his life from the great times he had as a child to the bizarre times he had as a teenager. He explained it all to interviewer Michael Azzerad.

While it was very interesting to hear Cobain himself, as incoherent as he was at times, explain his life, the movie just didn't do enough to keep my focus. Kudos to the director for trying something different, but it did not work.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Great Buck Howard (2009)

Based on the life of the Amazing Kreskin, Buck Howard is a magician (excuse me, mentalist) is down on his luck. And to the audience, it's kind of funny. His life is, for lack of a cornier term, wacky.

Howard (John Malkovich) recounts his old days as a mentalist and the times he spent with celebrities from Johnny Carson to George Takei. Troy (Colin Hanks) is a law school dropout who is defying the logic of his father (Tom Hanks) to stay in school, even though he won't be happy. Troy follows his dreams and moves to LA and finds a job as the new road manager for the Great Buck Howard. He is in charge of operations of the various shows that Howard performs in different cities. As Howard becomes more eccentric, Troy starts losing his will to work for him and wants to set out on his own.

This movie proves that comedies don't need to be 2 hours laugh riots. This was a very short, mildly funny comedy that had a good amount of heart to it. The characters seemed genuine and not wacky for the sake of wacky. Hanks and Malkovich had a nice chemistry but the scene stealer was Steve Zahn, who plays a Cincinatti show coordinator. I do recommend this. It won't take much of your time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Eagle Eye (2008)

This movie had moments where it was fun to watch and a little bit exciting. But I couldn't help notice the similarities between this and a certain 2004 movie. I can't really say which movie, because it may give away some of the plot of this one.

Shia LaBeouf plays Jerry Shaw, a broke Chicagoan who starts receiving a series of mysterious phone calls after his twin brother is killed in a car accident. Michelle Monaghan plays Rachel Holloman, a divorced mother who starts receiving mysterious phone calls after placing her son on a train for a school band trip. The calls lead Jerry and Rachel to cross paths and begin doing the bidding of the mystery voice. They are told to do things that are illegal and they must elude the feds along the way. In between all that is a lot of action.

The movie was more fun that I expected, but the plot was ridiculous and so "out there" at parts that you know it's not possible. Not to mention that certain 2004 movie it's like. It stars an actor whose name rhymes with Sill Wmith.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Finally, I'm getting around to watching movies not made within the past year and a half. And I picked a classic listed at #149 on the top 250. It did not disappoint.

The story follows an aging Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and his younger partner in crime the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) as they realize that they are getting too old for the bank robbing business and are starting to call it quits. They decide to do one last take, so they go after a train carrying a bank's money. After that, people are hot on their trail, making it more difficult to escape.

You have Newman and Redford on screen, so you know the performances you are going to get are going to be terrific. It was kind of slow at parts, but all in all a very nicely paced movie that entertains and entices the audience.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

As with most of the Harry Potter franchise, the movies don't do a whole lot of explaining. They expect you to have read the books beforehand, which I have not. In this movie, I didn't mind the lack of explanation.

Harry and the school chums are back for another year after Harry has a bad summer. He is now being hailed as the "Chosen One" and is getting a lot more attention than he can ask for. Before long, he begins to uncover a plot that sees Draco Malfoy conversing with the death eaters. Only Dumbledore believes Harry at first in his accusations, per usual. Soon enough, the truth is known to all.

While this is not the best of the Potter movies (Prisoner of Azkaban), it is definitely strides ahead of the last film (Order of the Phoenix). I would go as far as to say this was probably the #2 in the pecking order. I was so against these films when they came out and now I find myself invested.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Brüno (2009)

Not quite as funny as Borat was, but leaps and bounds more outrageous and shocking. Sacha Baron Cohen definitely tried to push the envelope a lot farther in this one.

Brüno is a gay, Austrian fashionista who happens to run his own show in Austria. After a series of unfortunate events, he is dropped from his network and decides to head west to the US. He has one sidekick to help him through his journey to become a very famous actor. Brüno has trouble getting started, so he tries to hype up himself by doing all sorts of ridiculous things that he reads about celebrities doing in the tabloids. From adopting African babies to becoming straight. As he meanders his way through the country, he truly finds himself...I guess.

This movie was laugh out loud funny and just kept me wondering what he would do next. There were definitely a few awkward moments that you wish you wouldn't laugh at but did anyways. There was a thought that maybe he was just doing some things to be "out there" and not try and comment on social stigmas. However, when he focused on those stigmas, the film was terrific.

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

This movie got some positive reviews and it also got some very negative reviews. I am on the latter half of that spectrum.

The movie is about play director Caden Cotard (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and his pitiful life. His famous artist wife Adele (Catherine Keener) has left him and taken their daughter with her. Now he's got nothing to really live for. On top of that, doctors think he's dying but aren't really sure from what. So, he decides to make one last play about his life. He buys a warehouse and decides to build a close to lifesize model of NYC in there as the stage for his play. The bad part, he just can't stop making it. The production starts lasting almost as long as his life has.

The main problem with this movie is that you just didn't care about any of the characters except Caden. There was no development surrounding him. Charlie Kaufman, the great writer of movies like Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine..., takes the director's chair in this one and adds his style to the flick. It just doesn't make that much sense. At least in those other two movies I mentioned, you can follow them. This one, you really can't.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gran Torino (2008)

I'm just going to take a stab at it, but the moral of this movie is that everyone is racist. I may be slightly off.

Clint Eastwood plays Walt, a Korean War vet who is just as curmudgeonly as they come. He finds something to hate in every aspect of life. Some are reasonable, like when his granddaughter dresses inappropriately and texts during his wife's funeral. Some are not reasonable, like his racism. After a Hmong family moves in next door, he realizes that the neighborhood has changed around him to, almost entirely, gang territory with the new neighbors in the middle. Walt eventually grows close to the family, saving the kids, Thao and Sue, from gangs on a couple of occasions. He relies on no one's help but his own and feels his form of justice is justice served.

I thought this was a great movie, with an ending that was mildly surprising to me. I expect a little bit of a shock from all of Eastwood's movies lately, so I was looking for it and I was still surprised. Great performance from Clint and nice performances from the newcomers in the Hmong family. I recommend this film to anyone.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mamma Mia! (2008)

I will start this by saying I did not see this out of necessity or choice. I mean, it's a musical, and it's not Once. Either way, not good.

The movie follows Donna (Streep) get ready for her daughter Sophie's (Amanda Seyfried) wedding. Unbeknownst to Donna, Sophie has read her old diary and found out there are three gentlemen suitors who could have been her mother. So she invites the three (Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård) to attend the wedding under the guise that Donna invited them. Oh yeah, they break into song on occasion. Donna eventually finds the gents and doesn't know how they showed up. Hijinx do ensue, don't you worry.

This movie was predictable, boring and, you got it, musical. These are the conventional type of musicals that really haven't been good since the 60s and 70s. You want to know what made this movie worse? It was all ABBA songs, and they didn't even sing "Fernando."