Monday, December 15, 2008

Doubt (2008)

3 out of 5 Stars.
I saw this on Broadway in 2004 and I'm still 'doubting' that of all of Shanley's amazing work, this should be his pulitzer winner. In many ways I got more from the film than I did from the play (although the metaphor of 'wind' and 'change' was a bit over the top). I thought that Phil Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis gave great performances. Meryl Streep, on the other hand, seemed to be starring in a completely different film. I thought her portrayal of Sister Aloysius was over the top -- Streep seemed to be reverting to her Mamma Mia! - esque over dramatization and while perhaps on stage that could have worked, in this film it was out of place with the rest of the subtle and nuanced acting. One of my problems with the play is that none of the characters are sympathetic. I felt very detached from the story and (even in the play) I tend to be annoyed by Sister Aloysius's very brief character reversal. She has doubts? Well of course. Doubts about the way the Catholic Church is male dominated, doubts about progressive learning versus the old way, doubts about change. Her character is just so unlikeable that the final scene makes me roll my eyes.
Still, I give this film 3 stars for an overall very well written script. Amy Adams needs to be in more movies.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Mamma Mia!

2.5 out of 5 Stars
This is one of those films that goes so far beyond the trappings of 'bad', 'cringe inducing', and 'embarrassing', that it actually had moments of being pants-peeingly funny. I think the fact that I saw it on an airplane and had drunk a vodka cranberry made the musical numbers all the more humorous. The entire movie is one big exclamation mark (Mamma Mia! Greece! Meryl Streep! Who's the Daddy!) -- it is Hollywood's very own version of Bollywood (though not as well done). The plot is simple, the songs are Abba!, the cast is packed with talent who oddly enough take their roles very seriously. It's worth watching on DVD with some friends and some fruity cocktails.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

4 out of 5 Stars
Ah India! A country so beautiful and at the same time decayed by religious and political strife. It would be hard to take a bad photo of Mumbai. Danny Boyle does not disappoint, on the contrary, he has created a film which so completely captures the beauty and chaos that is India -- the juxtaposition of the breath takingly peaceful, serene and romantic Taj Mahal surrounded by the slums of the lowest caste eagerly peddling their wares, and watching Indian 'Millionaire' on beat up television sets. Via the Indian train, the film captures both Bombay and it's surroundings as well as Agra and the Taj Mahal.

The gist of the story is so inherently Hindu that at times I wanted to cry out of plain adoration and respect for Jamal, the protagonist. As is the Hindu belief in karma, if you do good and true things, then good things will come your way. Danny Boyle took a script that could so easily have been turned into an average film and enhanced it so ingeniously by shooting entirely on location in Mumbai (even using some actual Bollywood sets -- not to mention the ingenious Bollywood dance sequence during the credits). The child actors he used are Mumbai natives, whose performances were heart breaking, honest, and completely accurate due to the fact that A) they have lived and experienced the material and B) they adore Bollywood. EVERYONE in India adores Bollywood.

Side note, when I was in India the Indian version of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' (aka "Kaun Banega Crorepati?") is a show that appeals to the entire caste system -- I conversed about the show with taxi drivers, waiters, children in the streets, and business men. And Boyle captured this in the film -- television and technology in some ways as a tool bringing together a nation. It was clever how Amitabh Bachchan made an appearance in the Slums (in reality he is the host of Indian Millionaire, not to mention a legend of Bollywood film). When I was in Bombay, our Bollywood host took us to Mr. Bachchan's favorite restaurant guaranteeing that we would see him there and we did!)

I highly recommend seeing this film. It made me want to go back to India and spend more quality time with the children.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Synecdoche, New York

5 out of 5 Stars.

No, this film is not pronounced 'Syn-OH-Do-Chey', or 'Sin-Eh-Doch'

Synecdoche - (Sih-NECK-doh-kee)
The word "synecdoche" is derived from the Greek συνεκδοχή, from the prepositions συν- + εκ- and the verb -δέχομαι (accept), meaning originally the acceptance of a part of the responsibility for something.
Synecdoche is closely related to metonymy (the figure of speech in which a term denoting one thing is used to refer to a related thing); indeed, synecdoche is considered a subclass of metonymy. It is more distantly related to other figures of speech, such as metaphor.

And yes, the beginning of the film is set in Schenectady, NY. Just in case you were wondering. Indeed, Sarah A. who moonlights as a film reviewer/book critic/writer of her own damn opinions on what she considers 'art' needs to state this obvious title meaning outright. Get it? Got it? Good. So moving on.

'Synecdoche, NY' is the title of the film which has so far received mixed reviews, some of which have called this not only Kaufman's worst but one of the years' worst films. These critics clearly did not understand not only the literary genius of the script (it's 'great novel' worthy) but also apparently lacked an understanding of the visual and character oriented meta theatrical arc of the film. If this review of mine sounds obnoxious or pretentious, that does not mean that you won't enjoy this film, scenes from the film, pieces of the film, or even at least a few minutes. Minutes that you may grudgingly regret spending at 'Sarah's recommendation', but I promise you, weeks later you won't have forgotten those minutes.

And then there are critics who agree with me -- who firmly believe that Charlie Kaufman has added to his already thought provoking screenplay repertoire ('Being John Malkcovich', 'Adaptation', 'Eternal Sunshine' et al.) and in many ways far surpassed his lyrical and existential potential.

Either way, how can you not want to see a film that has it's viewers consumed in a love/hate relationship? A film that leaves theater goers either in in tears due to an existential panic attack or alternately in an inherent relief due to accepting and possibly overcoming these philosophical issues about the state of life and human relationships and art and connecting to people?

For me, personally, I experienced both sentiments (and yes, this film deserves at least several more viewings). I was completely enraptured, depressed, moved, angered, amused, and nervous. Yes, all within a 2 hour running time. I can honestly say that 'Synecdoche, New York' is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen and is climbing the charts as being one of my favorite films (again, it will require many more viewings, not unlike my theatrical experience with Lynch's 'Mullholland Drive').

Every other life relates to those encounters in the same way, depending on local conditions. Life's a stage, and we bit players upon it. Charlie Kaufman's "Synecdoche, New York" is a film that boldly tries to illustrate this universal process by using a director immersed in a production of indefinite duration on a stage representing his mind. Is he mentally sound? Well, let's start with the name Kaufman chose for the 'protagonist' (another brilliant and effortless performance by Phillip Seymour Hoffman) -- 'Caden Cotard'. Sound familiar? Flashback to Psych class in college -- Cotard's Syndrome--a rare neuropsychiatric disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that he or she is dead or does not exist. Rarely, it can include delusions of immortality. It is named after Jules Cotard (1840–1889), a French neurologist who described the syndrome as having various degrees of severity, ranging from mild to severe. In a mild state, feelings of despair and self-loathing occur, however it is in the severe state that a person with Cotards actually starts to deny the very existence of the self.

Indeed, every written word, every spoken word, every image, every voice in this film has a deeper meaning. Bless you Charlie Kaufman for making a film that will encourage audience's to 'think' (good lord, have we forgotten how to do that?!?) If paying $11 for a movie means actually using your brain (and believe me, I have paid $11 to have some quite restful naps in films such as 'Dark knight', 'Pirates of the Caribbean', 'King Kong' and 'Napoleon Dynamite') is that not a good thing?

Many of my friends and coworkers were unmoved by the film and accused it of being confused, contradictory and unclear. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly grades it "D plus" and has what I agree is a reasonable reaction to this film: "An artist makes a movie that is so labyrinthine and obscure, such a road map of blind alleys, such a turgid challenge to sit through that it sends most people skulking out of the theater -- except, that is, for a cadre of eggheads who hail the work as a visionary achievement." I do agree that he is speaking for a majority. Yet, I am an 'egghead' and I imagine there are more like me out there. Let's not forget, myself and my wonderfully brilliant film critic of a mother (who, as an aside also happened to laugh out loud several times during 'Blades of Glory') were possibly the only two people who were moved by the simplicity and 'black box' theatricality of Lars Van Trier's 'Dogville'. 'Synecdoche has some parallels to Von Trier. But more so possesses major similarities to Harold Ramis' 'Groundhog Day' (which, by the way also happens to be one of my all time favorite films).

Synecdoche is a film about what goes on in our everyday lives, made visual by the inspired set design, rooms on top of rooms, all containing separate activities, with the protagonist trying to satisfy, or direct, or obey or evade, or learn from, or receive solace from, the people in all of the rooms.

There is honestly nothing I can adequately write to 'review' this film. It is incapable of being reviewed. You have to see it for yourself. And I hope you do. And when you do, you better e-mail me what you thought. I think this film is a masterpiece.

According to the Kaufman's footnotes --

"Comparable to great fiction? Yes, with the same complexity and slow penetrability. Not complex as a strategy or a shortcoming. Complex because it interweaves and cross-refers, and every moment of apparent perplexity leads back somewhere in the movie to its solution. Some great fiction, like Ulysses or The Sound and the Fury or The Golden Bowl, was hypertext when hypertext wasn't a name, but only a need. Henry James seems the steadiest of hands, but underneath, his opening chapters are straining to touch the closing ones, and the middle hides concealed loyalties. And when he writes "intercourse," you never quite know what he means. Very hypertextual.

Why is the house always on fire, but nobody seems to notice it? Don't unhappy homes always seem like that? Aren't people always trying to ignore it?

The voice-over. Maybe the only time I've heard coughing in a voice-over."

That matte painting. Right. It moves."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


3.5 out of 5 Stars
I was very impressed with Clint Eastwood's direction, particularly after the boredom I experienced in 'Million Dollar Baby' (though I liked 'Mystic River'). I was not overly eager to watch another almost three hour Eastwood directed epic, but I really respected Eastwood's cinematography and attention to detail when it came to depicting Los Angeles in the late 20s and early 30s. (my only small nit-picky issue was that nobody in the film smoked cigarettes). Angelina Jolie gave another fantastic performance -- her facial expressions, her reactions, her emotions -- gave Christine Collins depth and a heart wrenching sense of honesty, tragedy and emotion. Still, I couldn't help thinking that Eastwood intentionally made this film with the Oscars in mind -- he even threw in an unnecessary scene at the end involving Christine Collins's pick for an Oscar winning film.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blindness (2008)

1.5 out of 5 Stars
An entrancing novel that, alas, turned into a horribly pretentious and LONG film. If I hadn't previously read the novel, I probably would have only given the film 1 star (rather than the 1.5 I am designating). The film is so obvious and preachy. Yes, we *know* human nature is skewed. We *know* that our society is 'blind' to human interaction. (though actually Jose Saramago's novel manages to keep the idea of 'allegorical blindness' understated and thought provoking with his minimal use of punctuation). This film is anything but. The allegory is 'in your face' and embarrassingly obvious. The film (even with it's ridiculously long running time) left out the scenes in the novel that I found most meaningful, and the director almost made a mockery of the rain and baptismal metaphors. The only good part of this abhorant film? Julianne Moore gives her role as 'the seeinging wife' an heir or realism and honesty. She makes the script's weak dialogue sound believable.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Casa de Los Babys (2003)

3.5 out of 5 Stars
A sensitive and understated film. Under stated, well written and extremely well acted. I felt like I was watching a play. Sayles shows all sides of the foreign adoption argument without allowing opinions or politics to cloud the viewers' impressions.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bug (2007)

4 out of 5 Stars
It's unfortunate that this film was marketed wrong. I vaguely remember seeing posters for it in bus shelters and I assumed it was a horror movie about killer bugs. Come to find out, it's the same 'Bug', written by the talented Tracy Letts, that I saw a few years ago Off Broadway (with Michael Shannon reprising his role). The film version of the play was very well done, recapturing the effect of the black outs between scenes, the manic paranoia of cocaine use, and the fast descent into madness. Ashley Judd gives a very strong performance as Agnes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

4 out of 5 Stars
I was pleased to see director Jonathan Demme return to independent film making (though I admit that I was a bit queasy in the Blair Witch sense from the hand held camera). Jenny Lumet's script is strong and sharp and the dialogue is so natural that much of it felt improvised. For two hours, I felt like I was a part of Rachel's wedding -- sympathizing which every character, feeling like a fly on the wall, watching the train wreck occur before my eyes and being powerless to stop it. This is the best I have ever seen Anne Hathaway.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Girlhood (2003)

3.5 out of 5 Stars
An honest, strong and ultimately hopeful documentary following 4 years in the lives of Shanae and Megan -- two teenage girls struggling through coping with the situations and hardships life brought them at an early age. This is both a story of innocence lost and the hardships young girls face at a young age in today's society and the behaviors they resort to. It's a story of families and trust and betrayals and tolerance. It is both heart breaking and enlightening.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Burn After Reading

4 out of 5 Stars
I almost didn't see this film, due to the fact that the preview made it appear as a some what light-hearted slap stick romp through Washington D.C. But I was so pleasantly surprised by just how entertaining, quirky, clever, and funny this film turned out to be. And it *is* funny, 'laugh-out-loud' in the movie theater funny', just not in an annoying slap stick immature type of way. No, it's wry, it's at times very dark, it's fast paced, sharply edited, and has a spark to it which I haven't seen in a Coen Brothers' film since 'Fargo'. My only criticism is that I thought Tilda Swinton was miscast. I felt as though she was playing her role as though she were in a completely different type of film. Unlike the other lead actors, who handled the dark comedy material in an amusing-not too serious-but I'm playing it realistic - type way, Swinton seemed to miss the beats and was bringing her classical British acting experience to a film that would have better off with someone more adept at Coen Brothers comedy. Someone like Catherine Keener would have been better suited. Bonus points for Richard Jenkins' performance. He's now 2 for 2 this year (this film and 'The Visitor').

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Borderland (2007)

3 out of 5 Stars
've been slowly working my way through 2007's collection of 'After Dark Horror Films' (I missed the screenings last year). Though this film (which is apparently 'based on true incidents') is a tale we have seen done before in several other horror films, Borderland did not disappoint. It was what 'Turistas' could have been, and probably should have been. I give director Zev Berman credit for creating at least two very well shot, original scenes (at the carnival and the hotel chase scene). His characters are stereotypical but the actors he used pull off some quite strong performances (particularly Sean Astin and Jake Muxworthy).

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


2 out of 5 Stars
It actually rather pains me to only be able to give 2 out of 5 starts to an Alan Ball film. Especially a film with such a strong and talented cast. But I thought Alan Ball completely missed the mark with Alicia Erian's novel. Issues that I had with the book (ie. cringing page after page for Jasira's innocence and youth and how she allowed herself to be so taken advantage of) were made less sympathetic in the film. I think the loss of first person narrative (which made the novel what it was) contributed to taking difficult but important subject matter and turning it into a jumbled and poorly arranged film. Or maybe something got lost in the editing?

Still, Summer Bishil did an excellent job using a poor script adaptation. Her 'Jasira' stuck with me, days after I left the theater.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mrs. Pettigrew Lives For A Day

3.5 out of 5 Stars
A delightful (though somewhat unforgettable) period film kept crisp and sharp by an adequate adaptation of a fun novel and made even more enjoyable by fabulous performances by Amy Adams, Lee Pace, and Frances McDormand. A wonderful 'air plane movie', it certainly kept me entertained during the flight from NYC to San Francisco.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tropic Thunder

4 out of 5 Stars
I thought this movie was clever and extremely funny. Okay yes, it's offensive (interestingly I was one of the few people in the theater who was laughing out loud) but Ben Stiller compiled a cast of such strong actors who play satire with impeccable wit and timing. I thought this film trumped Hamlet 2 by a long shot (and it was great to see Steve Coogan on screen again). Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Cruise clinched it for me. I would definitely like to see this again.

Vicky Christina Barcelona

3.5 out of 5 Stars
This is the first Woody Allen film I've seen since he 'left' Manhattan and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The cast was impeccable, particularly Penelope Cruz. The shots of Gaudi architecture and the romace of Spain was beautiful, and the story itself was both comic, thought provoking, and honest. I identified with both Vicky and Christina, at different times throughout. I thought overall this film was very well done.

Monday, September 1, 2008


3 out of 5 Stars
Incredibly poetic cinematographry -- a very well made 'documentary' (though most of it uses actors) about an extremely disturbing and upsetting subject. I see why this film garnered such a reaction at Sundance and also received honors. At times I was queasy, at times I felt peaceful watching the images of the Washinton Mountains, but mostly, I felt like taking a shower when it ended to cleanse myself of watching 1 hour and 20 minutes about such an upsetting topic.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nightmare Man

3.5 out of 5 Stars
This is definitely one of the better works of the 'campy horror' genre. Woman orders fertility mask online, mask arrives but it is actually a death mask, woman is stalked by 'Nightmare Man' in his crazy looking Tanzanian mask, then the films veers toward cheesy porno with gratuitous nudity and truth or dare and *then* becomes a slasher film involving bad acting and woman who morphs into Linda Blair in the excorcist. I laughed throughout. Next step, someone needs to produce 'Nightmare Man The Musical', because hell, I could see a great musical montage involving the demon and the non english speaking husband!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hamlet 2

Hamlet 2
3.5 out of 5 Stars
I laughed for two straight hours. A lot. And genuinely. Watching Steve Coogan do physical comedy is like watching young Kevin Kline. This film is not quite up to Christopher Guest 'Guffman' standards, but it still holds it's own. I would definitely see it again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Secret (2007)

3.5 out of 5 Stars
Based on a Japanese novel, this film was like a darker, updated version of 'Freaky Friday'. But with so much more to it -- understanding generational gaps, coping with grief and mourning, the guilt of regret and what was left unsaid, and an air of dark and metaphysical underlying themes. A well made film, strengthened by such a strong cast -- Olivia Thirlby is quickly topping my list of very talented young actors -- I am eager to see her make more of these unique indy choices (she certainly held my interest in 'The Wackness'). She holds her own against David Duchovny and Lili Taylor. I recommend this film.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sleepwalking (2008)

Sleepwalking - 2.5 out of 5 Stars
I saw this on an airplane and I rather liked it's bleakness. But I think had I have seen it in the theaters I may have been more harsh in my critique. Nick Stahl (who we know can play down and out, ie. 'Bully' and 'Carnivale') was a bit too soft to be believable. Some of the dialogue was over the top ('Sometimes I feel like I'm Sleepwalking through life' --okay, yes, we get the analogy). But Dennis Hopper as the crazy abusive father was great and Annasophia Robb played her role with the perfect mixture of tough attitude and innocent child.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Girl Next Door (2007)

3 out of 5 Stars
Somehow, I must have put this movie in my Netflix cue thinking it was going to be a trashy horror film. I had no idea that it was a film version of a book loosely based on the death of Sylvia Likens. Oddly enough, just last month I had seen 'An American Crime' so I obviously spent most of Wilson's film comparing it to the former (although 'Girl Next Door' was released before 'An American Crime'). The story is a bit more fictitious, but the brutal horror and shock of the story is the same. I preferred 'American Crime', only because it was more true to the actual events, and 'American Crime' made me respect Ellen Page's complete and utter grasp of the role of Sylvia. Still, B;anche Baker gives Catherine Keener (who I adore) a run for her money. Even if you dislike true crime, this film is worth checking out for the brillianced of Baker's performance.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Smart People

Smart People - 2.5 out of 5 Stars
I feel as though in the past few years I have seen a slew of films prominently featuring an older, burned out, intelligent college professor ('Squid and the Whale' and 'The Visitor' for example). And Dennis Quaid held his own in the role. Actually, this performance was one of his better ones. That being said, this movie had many flaws (namely a very miscast Sarah Jessica Parker). But I give this film 2.5 stars for Quaid's performance and Thomas Hayden Church's spot on characterization of the laid back brother/uncle. Ellen Page was also okay, though she was slightly miscast -- still I consider this film worth renting on Netflix.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

American Teen

2.5 out of 5 Stars
I really wanted to like this documentary. I thought Nanette Burstein had a wonderful premise, compiled a group of completely interesting teenagers, and found a town that had 'high school documentary' written all over it. But the documentary itself felt so forced and whatever point Burstein was trying to convey ('stereotypes of high school students a la the Breakfast Club 20 years later) but I expected Burstein to take more risks. The most interesting 'characters' were the girls -- Megan and Hannah (and Hannah's blonde friend). So much more could have been done with this -- Hannah and the family issue of manic depression and Megan and her sister's death. I thought it was extremely brave of these kids to appear in the documentary. I also thought it was interesting that, except for Hannah, none of the kids seemed 'bored' with small town life or seemed to have interest in breaking away.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Otis (2008)

3 out of 5 Stars
This film actually made me laugh out loud at least 5 times -- the kind of 'guffaw' that I wasn't expecting! Examples - Ileanna Douglas's character's lines "I'm going to cut off your scrotum and feed it to the neighbor's shih-tzu" and "Wait! We were just about to blend his fingers and toes into a smoothie and make him drink it!" Okay, out of context perhaps it doesn't quite capture the dead pan humor of Ms. Douglas, but still, it was extremely funny. Also, Daniel Stern's humor gets me every time. And the actor who played Reed has quite a career ahead him! And Ashley Johnson, all grown up from her 'Growing Pains' days was great. This film is not quite sure if it is a dark comedy or a torture porn. but it's not bad.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Duck! The Carbine High Massacre

1 out of 5 Stars
This is the first film I have ever given only ONE star to. No, I didn't give this rating because I found this film offensive to Columbine (I'm all about freedom of speech). But this 'film' was literally unwatchable -- BAD acting, BAD script, embarrassingly cheap and BAD camera work and video quality. I couldn't find any redeemable qualities. It's not schlocky, just VERY poorly executed and produced. I think a genuine snuff film would have been more enjoyable.

Here is what constitutes the '1 Star' -- 'William Hellfire' was surprisingly relaxed and natural as an actor. The role was probably not a real reach for him though, but he was enjoyable in a general cast of wooden planks. The gunshot effects were well done! The blood and explosions from the doomed student's bodies were all done very nicely. Derwin's inital beat down was also extremely brutal. The only problem is that these scenes only make up 10 to 15 minutes of the movie. The rest of the flick is all stiff dialogue and often tedious build-up. The pay off just isn't worth the effort sometimes.

Yes, I'm kidding. This 'movie' is just painfully and ridiculously BAD!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The X-Files I Want To Believe

3 out of 5 Stars
Yes, I realize that this was not the best film ever made. Certainly, it had plot gaps and overlooked any sort of conspiracy theories or alien abductions. But I didn't care. It was so, so wonderful to see Mulder and Scully together again, and on the big screen! Duchovny as Mulder remains sexy and intriguing, and Gillian Anderson as Scully reprises the character with the same doubtful and sardonic wit seen in the TV series. This left me wanting MORE X-Files! In the meantime, I'll have to get my fix from watching the DVDs.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Savage Grace

3.5 out of 5 Stars
This was a disturbing and upsetting film. I never read the novel nor was particularly familiar with the true story it was based on. As a film, it seemed 'abridged' and the script felt very rushed. This could have been a film that was a disturbing portrayal of incest, money, homosexuality, corruption, and mental health issues, but instead the script was choppy and it never gave the viewer a full understanding of the motivations of any of the characters. Still, I give it 3 stars for the acting. Julianne Moore was chilling.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror

3 out of 5 Stars
Holy crap, this movie was ridiculously funny.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dark Knight

3 out of 5 Stars
I give 'Dark Knight' a solid three stars for being a well scripted, well shot, well directed, and incredibly well acted film. This is one of those movies that I recognize as 'good', but like The Godfather Trilogy, it just didn't hold my interest. Maybe I don't know enough about Batman. Still, Heath Ledger was brilliantly creepy as the sociopathic Joker--his performance gave me chills.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Wackness

3 out of 5 Stars
The film itself lacks a direct plot -- it plays like the film maker's autobiography of the summer after graduation in the 90s. And there is nothing wrong with that. Jonathan Levine assembled an extremely talented cast who not only give realistic and strong performances, but give quite a bit of credibility to what could have been a lack luster and self indulgent script. As a high schooler in the 90s, this film certainly made me nostalgic, and while it has it's flaws, I overall found it enjoyable.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


4.5 out of 5 Stars
I can officially add WALL-E to my list of all time favorite films. I am so glad I saw this in the theater, normally I don't see a lot of animated films (even Pixar), I get enough 'child entertainment' being a teacher, but WALL-E is did not at all strike me as an animated children's film. Much like 'Babe Pig In the City' (a film where children were leaving the theater in tears), WALL-E contained many disturbing and graphic images, yet still was able to remain chaste to it's 'G' rating. And this is what makes WALL-E so special -- children and adults interprate the post apocalyptic images differently. The visuals in this film are so beautiful that at times I felt like I was looking at a piece of art, rather than watching a story on screen (I love the opening with the juxtaposition of the musical number from 'Hello Dolly' with the bleak image of the future of the earth), and I also particularly appreciated the credits which give a wonderfully charming depiction of art history. I was completely smitten with robot WALL-E himself, his personality, his character, his will, his drive, his 'love', his ability to feel empathy and kindness. And how all of this was conveyed in his eyes and his movements through animation -- it still takes my breath away. The overall story was touching and plausible, perhaps the social commentary wasn't subtle but I was never annoyed. Only moved. I would definitely see this again!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

27 Dresses

1 out of 5 Stars
I barely made it to the end of this one. Weddings have been on my mind recently so I was prompted to watch this On Demand and I was very underwhelmed. The script is weak, the shots of NY all seem to have been dragged out of stock footage, the story is predictable and this is only slightly better than 'Made of Honor'.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Fall

4 out of 5 Stars
It is so refreshing to see a film that is *new* -- nothing 'borrowed' from previously made work. This is one of the few original and unique things I have seen. Visually it is breathtaking -- I love Tarsem Singh's images. He he financed the entire thing himself and it was shot in 18 different countries with virtually *no* computer graphics -- he does all of his own photography. Amazing. A lot of critics panned it for 'lack of story' but I fear they were strongly misguided -- it is a beautiful story about the world pre WWI. The story is told literally from an adult POV but the images are being interpreted by a young Romanian child -- absolutely moving. And Catinca Untaru? Probably the best performance I have ever seen given by a young child. And Lee Pace, as always, is brilliant.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Raising Cain

2.5 out of 5 Stars
Oh Lithgow! This is one of those films that in theory should be creepy and suspenseful but what actually is a decent late night 2am campy and over the top soap opera. Makes me laugh out loud for it's campiness and John Lithgow's overacting!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sex and the City

Tuesday night J and I attended the premiere of the Sex and the City film at Radio City followed by an after party at the MOMA. There is simply way to much to say about the experience, why it was so extremely meaningful and special to me, and how it concluded a Memorial Day Weekend that was so beyond fantastic I will never, ever in my life forget it.

Some things are better left written about in paper journals :) So in the meantime, I am going to talk about the film and I PROMISE...NO SPOILERS!! Chances are I am going to see the film again when it officially opens on Friday, and then again after that.

I give the film a solid 4.5 out of 5 Stars. Anyone who is/was a fan of the TV series will most likely be quite enraptured with the film. And even more possible, those unacquainted with the four Manhattan friends and their 10 year history may just find appreciation in the sharp and witty dialogue, and mixture of humor and bittersweet reality. Michael Patrick King wrote a strong, solid, honest continuation of the lives of these (now very known) New Yorkers -- his script is on par with the episodes written by the fabulous Cindy Chupak and the notable absence of Candace Bushnell in any of the writing credits made the film stronger. Those who have followed the show have watched these women grow, hurt, mourn, celebrate, and triumph. And true fans have been able to appreciate watching these four actors develop these characters from stereotypes to something far, far deeper. I did find two (semi minor) faults with the film -- neither having to do with the plot. As much as I enjoy the character of Charlotte, in the film she is written as somewhat of a charicature (although Kristen Davis plays a scene in Mexico with such brilliant humor that I laughed hours afterward). There is a scene involving discussion of weight (referring to Samantha) which I found utterly tasteless and I will go into further detail once the film has opened.

Some photos-

Kojo (sp?) That fashion dude on E!