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!