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).