DEBS is a hilarious spoof. Sure, its spoofs Clueless and Charlie's… MoreDEBS is a hilarious spoof. Sure, its spoofs Clueless and Charlie's Angels, but throw in Austin Powers-ish James Bonds films too. Oh, and add a dose of comic lesbianism too. I loved everyone in this production, but especially villain Jordana Brewster (of Fast and Furious fame). She far sexier than Goldfinger or Dr. Evil and younger and less villainous than Demi Moore in CA2. Veterans Holland Taylor and Michael Clarke Duncan display unexpected comedic chops in this silly take on the spy genre. Also, while I'm making comparisons, the ending reminds me of Top Gun mixed with Thelma and Louise!
This movie isn't exactly James Bond versus SPECTRE, but those guys never had a bra-snapping scene! So, prepare to be entertained by the smartest sexiest schoolgirls to ever join the espionage game. It's so ridiculous, clichéd, and corny, you have to laugh throughout, but the lesbian relationship angle is handled with surprising maturity. It's a lot of light-hearted fun, and regardless of your sexual orientation, you'll fall in love with Jordana. Maybe it's all part of the designed appeal, but the cheap production quality causes me to deduct a few points.
Stiller's Walter Mitty isn't so much about escapist daydreaming as it… MoreStiller's Walter Mitty isn't so much about escapist daydreaming as it is an underdog fable about following your dream and nice guys finally finishing first. Mitty overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles in a quest for a photo negative, and in a much larger sense, a quest for recognition and redemption. As far as Stiller's directing and starring roles, I think I liked this one the most, although for sheer laughs Zoolander is hard to beat. This kind of role is becoming a signature of Stiller's: a downtrodden loveable loser who must overcome the odds to show the world he's up to the task.
The other actors are good, but not really outstanding. Kristen Wiig, as Stiller's love interest, is more than competent but it doesn't compare to her Bridesmaids role. She is light and natural: very likeable. There's also a villain, an over-the-top caricature played by Adam Scott-who was also great in Stepbrothers.
As others has stated, the cinematography is breathtaking and one of the highlights of the movie. If you've never wanted to visit Iceland prior to watching Walter Mitty, you will now. Even remote Afghanistan complete with a craggy-faced Sean Penn is appealing. Penn, by the way, owns his role as the reclusive photographer and key to Mitty's success.
One accurate adjective that describes this movie is tasteful. Stiller never stoops to sophomoric humor, and the action never takes any wrong turns. The film will seem disjointed if you're expecting a faithful version of Thurber's original story, but I wasn't. When it's over, you'll feel exhilarated and satisfied because some justice still exists. It may be a fable and probably unrealistic, but isn't this why most of us watch movies in the first place.
Starring a pre-shunned Mel Gibson, Payback is an exciting neo-noir… MoreStarring a pre-shunned Mel Gibson, Payback is an exciting neo-noir crime thriller brimming with black humor. Mel Gibson's character, Parker is a criminal with an interesting moral code of his own set against the ?syndicate? in a film in which everyone is some degree of sleazy. Also excellently cast is Gregg Henry, who must have been born to play a sleazeball because he does it so well. Maria Bello is great as tough yet sexy as is Lucy Liu. She plays a hilarious dominatrix who can beat me up anyday. William Devane and James Coburn also shine in smaller roles.
The film has a relentless quality, and an outstanding morbid, grimy vibe. I give great kudos to first-time director Brian Helgeland, who wrote several classics such as LA Confidential, Conspiracy Theory, and Mystic River. Gibson carries the film, but Helgeland's direction and the cinematography combine to make this a memorable comic sleazefest
There's a lot to like in this version of F .Scott Fitzgerald's classic… MoreThere's a lot to like in this version of F .Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel of the jazz age, although this one's a little to "jazzy" for me. Aussie director Baz Luhrmann was an awesome choice to head this project. He captures the spectacle of the novel and its age better than any other I can imagine. It's reminiscent of his earlier works "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!" The best aspect of the film is the cinematography: the sets, fashion, jewelry, etc. are executed to perfection.
The cast is excellent; DiCaprio owns this role as much as any he's played. Tobey Maguire is great as well; he's as effective as Sam Waterston was in the 1974 version. I've always thought he owned that role. Robert Redford was good in that version. He's not the actor that DiCaprio is, but he certainly looked the part. Carey Mulligan surprised me how well she played Daisy Buchanan, although after seeing her performance in "An Education," I knew she was destined for greatness.
Summing up what I liked and what I didn't is almost as simple as the film's emphasis on style over substance. That emphasis encompasses the whole jazz age, so that the film portrays that should come as no surprise. Everyone and everything as seen through the eyes of Nick, the narrator, is completely superficial. As an indictment of the near-universal values of the era, this film really works. I did not like much of the soundtrack. It was distracting and anachronistic, just a device to relate the jazz age material to the hip hop generation. Luhrmann's Gatsby is certainly visually stunning and undeniably entertaining, but I think the "update" detracts from the real power of the story.
Labor Day weekend is the setting of the Jason Reitman-directed drama.… MoreLabor Day weekend is the setting of the Jason Reitman-directed drama. It's not my usual kind of story or film, yet it created the most powerful emotional identification with a movie I've experienced in a long time. The acting is wonderful, and there is constant palpable tension. While some found it clichéd, I found it to be completely genuine.
Beginning with the principal cast; Kate Winslet was incredible as Adele, a vulnerable, slightly mysterious character hard to precisely define. Her chemistry was excellent with Josh Brolin, who was wonderful in his own right and is becoming a huge star. Gattlin Griffith plays her son Henry, adept at portraying an uncomfortable adolescent. Also interesting was the character Eleanor, growing up way too fast.
My one gripe is the plot, which is completely implausible. Although tender, this story does not reach "Nicholas Sparks-style sappiness," as others claim. I thought of Eastwood's "A Perfect World" while I watched this film, maybe because I am a huge Eastwood fan, but at least one professional critic noted a similarity. The story is tied up neatly at the end also. I appreciated the fast forward to adult Henry (Tobey Maguire), the prison release, and the reunion of Adele and Frank. It surely is sentimental but also made the film much more satisfying than had it ended with Frank's apprehension. Highly recommended for Winslet/Brolin fans or just heartfelt drama fans.
While Cinemafantastique termed The Wicker Man "the Citizen Kane" of… MoreWhile Cinemafantastique termed The Wicker Man "the Citizen Kane" of horror films, I believe this is an excellent and fascinating film but that designation is pure hyperbole. This film is not so much a horror film as it is an unusual mystery about a clash of cultures that defy understanding, and within one region of one nation. It is thought-provoking and iconoclastic. The ending is jaw-droppingly memorable, both visually and as the climax of the plot.
I liked the cast; Woodward is perfectly cast, even better than the well-known Christopher Lee. Lee is an iconic villain yet this role calls more for obscure or mysterious than frightening or sinister. One-time Rod Stewart girlfriend Britt Ekland's nudity is a bonus! There is pervasive nudity throughout the film, added as a shock to traditional British sensibilities.
The only real deficiencies, for me, are the goofy, "hippy" elements of this 1973 film. It archaic, today, like a pagan cult Brady Bunch. The plot and characters still hold up today as shocking, only some imagery and music are dated. In summation, this is a brilliant story of manipulation, delusion, even psychosis- comparisons with The Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby are legitimate.
The Watcher is a fairly decent thriller, better at atmospherics than… MoreThe Watcher is a fairly decent thriller, better at atmospherics than plot or characterization. It's a cat and mouse game featuring a relationship between the killer and the detective, somewhat like Eastwood's Bloodwork or the Danny Glover-Dennis Quaid thriller, Switchback. Keanu Reeves is seductive and creepy without being too stereotypical, while James Spader is excellent. He's such a good actor he makes anything he's in better. Reeves isn't capable of emotional depth, but he portrays enthusiasm convincingly here. Marisa Tomei is a great choice for Spader's girlfriend, but she's criminally underutilized in this movie.
The film is just too implausible, but I liked the overall atmosphere. The setting in Chicago is another great touch. Since the plot is so derivative or unoriginal that it is negligible, the film depends on its big budget and performances. On those points, it succeeds. This certainly isn't an outstanding film, but the 10% average doesn't do it justice either.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, though it was creepy enough to make my… MoreI thoroughly enjoyed this film, though it was creepy enough to make my skin crawl. I sensed a palpable stench of death throughout the film. The acting was excellent, even "Cosby daughter" Lisa Bonet's. DeNiro was fantastic as always; just the sight of his extra-long fingernails made me shiver. Mickey Rourke was great in his starring role as well. It's a shame what has happened to his face since this movie was released, but his new appearance does make "The Wrestler" more authentic.
At its heart, this film is a mystery in which all characters have something to hide. Every stone Harry Angel overturns reveals more questions and more corpses. I also enjoyed the twin settings of New York and New Orleans in the 1950s, although the settings were more effective at contributing to character development than being really accurate at portraying the period. While the overall mood and characters were excellently drawn, the plot did have holes. Why have Angel on a quest looking for himself? Couldn't Satan have killed these people by other means? I just didn't completely buy the ending based on the events the precipitated it. All in all, I highly recommend it.
Note to PIs: Never trust a client who's willing to pay ridiculously more than something's worth. He has a hidden agenda from which you may not be able to disentangle.