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!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An American Crime

4 out of 5 Stars
This was a very difficult film to watch. I appreciated it for being a well made true crime film -- for an entire two hours I was completely riveted, though at times queasy, by the subject matter. I wanted to take a shower immediately after the credits rolled. Catherine Keener nailed the role of Gertrude Baniszewski. Any other actress could have easily turned such a difficult role into 'camp' (a la Faye Dunaway in Mommy Dearest), but Keener stayed realistic, disturbing, brutal, and unsympathetic. Ellen Page was adequate as Sylvia, but it is Keener who allows me to give this film 4 out of 5 stars. It's a shocking and abhorrant crime, depicting the very worst of human nature.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Mist

3 out of 5 Stars
This was definitely better than I expected. It is a solid two hour monster movie, with all the action taking place in one locale ('s like a play! But with special effects, giant bugs, and blood!!). But it's the interactions and reactions of the characters that make this film worth watching. Human nature at it's worst in times of crisis -- man turning on his fellow man -- betrayals and survival, etc. But by far the highlight of the movie is Marcia Gay Harden as a religious zealot!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Colma The Musical

4 out of 5 Stars
I could speak for hours on the town of Colma, CA -- a town which has a higher population of dead people than living, a suburb of San Francisco, home to Red Lobster, Sizzler, and Serramonte shopping center. I spent many a night at the movie theater (which was later closed due to a rat infestation), and many an afternoon at the discount book store. Parking always available and chances of running into anyone I knew from school were minimal. So obviously, when I heard there was a film that existed titled 'Colma - The Musical' I was very intrigued. What started out as a laugh at the inside jokes of knowing details about 'Colma', slowly morphed into my appreciation of a very well made, very likable, and very entertaining musical film. I have nothing but respect for Richard Wong. His cinamatography was inventive and original. The music was catchy and unpretentious and the characters were well developed and realistic. I appreciated that the actors took their parts seriously and unless it was called for, never 'camped' it up. This more than deserved Special Jury Prize at Sundance! Congrats to the (mostly) native San Franciscan cast and crew! This is a coming of age film that outdoes any I have seen in a very long time.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Raising Helen

4 out of 5 Stars
Okay, so I know this movie was critically panned. However, I am extremely picky when it comes to social fables/romantic comedies/schmaltzy sappy films. You'd think I, of all people, would be right on the bandwagon trashing Gary Marshall along with all the critics.
On the contrary, I was extremely touched and moved by this movie. And yes, I will openly and without any embarrassment, tell you that this film made me cry. More than once. It's heartwarming, it's endearing, it's set in Manhattan (and Queens), it's extremely well acted and in a style only Marshall can maneuver, it captures maturity, moving on, grief, and the innocence of children.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Visitor

2 out of 5 Stars
I was so disappointed by this film. The plot synopsis was something that appealed to me and from the preview it looked like it would be a well done film. Alas, I laughed out loud several times at just how cliched the script was. Immigrants are treated poorly in America! New Yorkers are racist towards Muslims! "Give Me Your Tired Your Poor" is written on the Statue of Liberty so let's devote a long sequence to riding the Staten Island Ferry! Let's make comparisons to Ellis Island! And let's throw in a random and bizarre love interest for no apparent reason. I do agree with what this movie preaches. But as a film it lacked substance and quality -- it didn't show me anything new or teach me anything I didn't already know. It didn't make me *feel* anything, except maybe embarrassed at times for how the script needed several more rewrites. Still, what saved an otherwise 'cringeful' movie from being completely a waste was the amazing performance given by Richard Jenkins. He was honest and heartfelt and broken and even though at times I questioned just *why* his character would allow all of this unnecessary drama in his life, his dead pan expressions and the look of pain he concealed in his eyes had me completely riveted. Not a great film, but worth a viewing if only to see Jenkins' performance.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What Happens in Vegas

3 out of 5 Stars
I give this film a solid 3 stars. I normally dislike romantic comedies ('Made of Honor' was absolute torture), but Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher have chemistry! Plus, Diaz is just so luminescent -- it is wonderful to see her in another romantic comedy (ie. she is so, so much more fun to watch than these 'newer' actresses like Michelle Monahan). Okay, so maybe the plot is predictable. And silly. But I fully enjoyed myself for the entire running time *and* I laughed out loud on more than occasion. Which for me is rare. Diaz does drunk scenes like no other (except possibly Angelina Jolie in 'Playing By Heart'). And the supporting cast is also really funny.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Annie (1982)

5 out of 5 Stars
I don't need anything but this movie. Really. Oh, and a bathtub gin martini with drunk Carol Burnett.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

3.5 out of 5 Stars
Doesn't even come close to the brilliance of the novel but still, Van Sant made a solid and well done movie taken from such a difficult text to adapt to the screen. Uma Thurman is a wonderful Sissy. But Rain Phoenix as Bonanza Jellybean was extremely disappointing. Van Sant captured the wackiness of the novel, I loved his bright color scheme and Robbins narration.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Abandoned

2.5 out of 5 Stars
This one of the more solid 'After Dark Horrorfest - 8 Films to Die For' films. It was well directed and had a semi interesting premise. The image of the old Russian house was arresting and the idea of being haunted/stalked by a ghost of yourself is not only unique but existentially scary. I think with a few more more script rewrites this could have really had some depth and substance. But the middle part dragged and the director threw in too many sequences of the female protagonist wandering the house and the woods. And the ending was rather silly.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Gravedancers

2 out of 5 Stars
Don't get drunk at your friend's funeral, cheat on your wife and dance on the graves of evil people. But if you do, this film may give you some ideas of what could happen. You could ostensibly be haunted by sexual sadists/6 year old pyromaniacs/music teachers with a murderous grudge. This film had a semi decent cast and I was disappointed at how *bad* their performances were. Still, the material they were working with was so silly. This film gets two stars for being very funny at times. Not at all scary. Alas.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Made of Honor

0.5 out of 5 Stars
This was a bad, bad movie. It was a waste of an evening and we should have left the theater.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Girl, Interrupted

4 out of 5 Stars
In my opinion, this film may be one of the rare exceptions of a movie surpassing the novel. Kaysen's memoir (of the same title) annoyed me in the same way most memoirs about mental institutions and rehabs do -- I found her self centered and unsympathetic. But the 'Hollywood-ized' version of her experience makes a far better story; the film presents well developed characters and relationships that are humorous, upsetting, and yes, completely riveting.

It's ironic that Winona Ryder chose to produce the screenplay and play Susanna, when she was so obviously outdone by Angelina Jolie as Lisa. Something about Jolie in this film film really moved me -- she's scary, sexy, and brutally honest. Every scene she's in had me completely riveted. Ryder is also outdone by a fabulous supporting cast -- Clea Duvall, Brittany Murphy and Whoopi Goldberg also give some good, if not brief, performances.

Fantastic soundtrack that captures the 60s.