Movie Trailer: Speed Racer

Andy and Larry Wachowski (The Matrix) bring the famous cartoon to the cinema beginning May 9th. From the looks of the trailer, the film is like having an acid trip inside of a pinball machine. Make sure you take your seizure medication before going to see it.


Screenwriters: Andy and Larry Wachowski (V for Vendetta)
Director: Andy and Larry Wachowski (Bound)
Actors: Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild), Christina Ricci (Sleepy Hollow), Matthew Fox (Smokin' Aces), Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise), and John Goodman (Monsters, Inc.)

Click here to return to the Movie Trailer Page

Movie Trailer: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

On May 22nd the fourth and, in my opinion, completely unneeded installment in the adventures of Indiana Jones hits theaters. C'mon, last time out he found THE HOLY GRAIL, what else is there to do?

Is this a return to the brilliance of Raiders of the Lost Ark or is it more like the stupid sequels - honestly, they had him jump out of a crashing plane in a life raft. Spielberg turn Indiana Jones into a rumpled James Bond. Watch the trailer and make your own judgments.


At least we won't have to listen to Kate Capshaw screeching the whole time...I hope.

Screenwriter: David Koepp (Spider-Man)
Director: Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List)
Actors: Harrison Ford (Star Wars), Shia LaBeouf (Transformers), Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Karen Allen (Starman), William Hurt (History of Violence), and Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast)

Click here to return to the Movie Trailer Page

Movie Trailer: Iron Man

In an effort to get to every single superhero who has ever been created on the big screen, Iron Man comes out on May 2nd. This is a good choice since he's much more interesting that some others such as Teflon Man and Pyrex Man.


Director: Jon Favreau (Elf)
Actors: Robert Downey Jr. (Zodiac), Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love), Terrance Howard (Hustle & Flow), Jeff Bridges (Tucker: A Man and His Dream), and Samuel L. Jackson (Eve's Bayou)
Screenwriters: Mark Fergus (Children of Men), Hawk Ostby (Children of Men), Art Marcum (Shadow of Fear), Matt Holloway

Yes, it took four men to write this script. This is Iron Man! This isn't some dissertation on the Russo-Japanese War - it's about a guy in an iron suit.

Eve's Bayou (1997)

Should I see it?

Normally I'd rather clean the inside of an oven with my tongue than sit through a film with a child actor in the lead role. Most child actors are as a pleasant as drinking tepid lye on a warm summer day. Jurnee Smolett's performance in this film overwhelmed my open hostility towards child actors. If the world was a fair place, young Jurnee's performance as a troubled girl who watches her family disintegrate in 1962 Louisiana would have won her a best actress nod from the academy. She makes this film and she's got plenty of competition. The whole cast from Lynn Whitefield, to Samuel L. Jackson to Meagan Good all provide brilliant efforts that mesh together beautifully.
Writer/Director Kasi Lemmons (The Caveman's Valentine) has done more acting in the past few years. This is a shame. She is clearly a talented filmmaker and I'd love to see more from her.
I strongly recommend this movie. It is intelligently written, perfectly acted and quite satisfying. Please note: those who are sensitive to sexual content and violence may find some scenes upsetting. If you don't mind these issues, knock yourself out - this often overlooked film is worth your time.

Related Reviews:
Samuel L. Jackson movies
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
1408 (2007)

Other Critic's Reviews:
Roger Ebert

Carnival of Cinema: Episode 68 – The Bloginator

Welcome to the Carnival of Cinema, a weekly adventure into blogging excellence. Each week we present the some of the best cinema-related posts from around the world. If you love cinema and also love sitting on your butt staring at a computer screen reading about cinema instead of interacting with those around you – you’ve found your dream spot.

Let’s get this party started.

Darrell of THE SOUTHERN CONSERVATIVE gets things up and running with a couple of posts. First, he has a movie review titled “Volver and Delicious Cleavages”. If that doesn't get your attention, I can’t imagine what will. He also looks at the recent horror movie The Mist.

Next Damon treats us to an early look at the upcoming G.I. Joe the Movie. Head over to his site THE DEATHBOX to get a peek at Snake Eyes.

If you didn’t get enough of eyeing up Snake Eyes then head over to FJETSAM where Jim Squires also has a look at the guy.

For as look at more stuff in the works check out Ed Stittle’s list of five half-decent upcoming films this year. He has the list over at his site SOME PUNK KID.

More lists coming your way.

Over at WE OP-ED, Justin has posted a list of the best documentaries about the war in Iraq. He says “Unique among American wars, the War in Iraq has stimulated filmmakers to comment on the war while it is still being waged. Here are some of the best documentaries that have come out in the past five years.

Scott the MOVIE LONER has compiled a list of the five best independent actors. Indie actors? What’s an indie actor? An actor who doesn’t work in big Hollywood products? Isn’t that all but .05% of all thespians? You gotta be real good to get on the top of that pile. Head over to his site to see if you agree.

I guess I can say, since I don’t work for NASA, that I’m an “Indie Astronaut”.

If you want independent from the studios, I’ll give you independent from the studios – head over to YouTube and watch the latest piece of crap sweded version of Transformers from some loser high school kids.

For more on the service which can make even the most idiotic and untalented people passing interests for the rest of us, head over to VIDEOS AND WEB TV where Alex M. talks about YouTube.

More indie stuff -

Next THE IPEX VIEW BLOG’s Daniel LeFleche has an interview with Tonisha Johnson, who started TOMI (The Other Movie Industry) Enterprises, which includes the TOMI Film Festival. This traveling festival is going into its second year and it is one that any minority/underground filmmaker should know about.


If you really want to go indie – check out politically conservative film. Talk about working behind enemy lines. Ben Stein has made a little documentary called Expelled which is about the controversial subject of Intelligent Design. Over at Greg Laden’s blog, GREG LADEN'S BLOG, Greg Laden blogs about the movie and the Richard Dawkins’ reaction to the flick.

To see the trailer to Stein’s flick click below.

From the theory of evolution to the evolution of a theory…

This week film geek and Carnival regular Gautam Valluri has a look at the long-standing auteur theory and its evolution over the decades. Click over to BROKEN PROJECTOR to read more.

The next step in the evolution of the auteur theory has come. Scarlett Johansson is directing a movie. Over at SARAHSPY Sarah says no one gives a rip about Johansson’s latest creative effort making an album.

Johansson directing a movie? Why not, they let Ben Affleck do one.

Gone, Baby Gone gets the business over at CLEVE1212'S MOVIE REVIEW BLOG. Click over to see what Clay Miller thinks of Ben’s little ditty.

Ever wondered if you could get to see movies at the Cannes festival? CANNES OR-BUST! insider Michael Leahy details what you need to do.

Now, let’s dip into our weekly mess o’ reviews.

Starting the string of opinion is Miss O’Shea who takes a gander at the 1955 version of The Desperate Hours on her site THE ROADSHOW VERSION.

Second in line is one of my favorite reviewers, Paul McElligott. Paul takes on the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men on his site CELLULOID HEROES.

Next, Margaret from
THE EARTHLY PARADISE has a review of Miss Potter.

Over at the oddest named blog connected to the Carnival this week, ART AND MASTURBATION, Carlfranzen gives the lowdown on Be Kind Rewind.

Looking to find out more about Le Doulos and Takhté siah? Great news, Gracchi has the reviews you need over at his site WESTMINSTER WISDOM.

MANNY THE MOVIE GUY is next with a review Drillbit Taylor. Judd Apatow's name is associated with this film, but there's a certain 80's icon named John Hughes who's also done some work with this comedy.

Putting a cap on this torrent of opinion, we have two horror movies for ya'.

Blue Sunshine reviews the horror film Mulberry Street. The word is that this indie horror gem manages to balance social commentary, character development, and horror elements. Don't believe me? Head over to MISCGARBAGE.COM and find out for yourself.

Ghost Ship is about a fictional lost luxury Italian ocean liner which is found by a salvage crew. It is also a movie that gets reviewed by Jeet over at BANGALOREBEATS.

Alright, that's enough of the reviews. Come back to the Carnival each week for a full load of movie reviews like the one's we had for you this week.

Let's bring this thing to a close by talking about celebrities.

Do you like reading about what a bunch of stupid celebs are doing? Can't get enough Brad and Angelina and Brittany and Paris and whatnot? Harrison has a resource for everyone to use to keep up with the latest celebrity and cinematic gossip on the site CUSTOMIZED GIRL BLOG.

If you don't want to just read about celebrities but you just gotta throw away your hard earned cash and actually buy their crap, check out CELEBRITY NEWS AND GOSSIP where Silveral has a post about celebrity memorabilia.

And on the note of collecting stuff, Missy from OBSERVATIONS FROM MISSY'S WINDOW has a post called Collecterz Makes It Easy For Collectors. Its about her latest discovery has helped her organize hery DVD collection. It's taken a daunting task and made it ridiculously easy.

…and CUT!…and PRINT!

Thanks to everyone for their submissions, the selection of posts gets better each week!

Hey, why have your posts collect dust in your archive folder? The Carnival of Cinema is ongoing with submissions being taken through each Wednesday and posting every Friday. Send submissions HERE!

Next week you can find the Carnival over at INTERMISSION AT WORK. Joe Ngo will host the proceedings. Thanks to Joe for taking things over.

Other carnival editions:
Carnival of Cinema: Episode III
Carnival of Cinema: Episode IX
Carnival of Cinema: Episode XVIII
Carnival of Cinema: Episode XXIX

L'Empire des loups “Empire of the Wolves” (2005)

Should I see it?

As a fan of Jean Reno, I went in wanting to like this movie. Ol' Reno let me down. This production about a detective (Jocelyn Quivrin) who joins with a fallen former detective (Reno) to delve into the Turkish mob in order to find a serial killer has some good moments, but some good moments doesn't make a movie worth seeing. There just isn't enough here to recommend the movie. Ultimately, this is a pedestrian thriller that relies too heavily on violence when it can't come up with any real substance.

Related Reviews:
Jean Reno movies
Les Rivières pourpres "The Crimson Rivers" (2000)
Les Rivières pourpres II: Les anges de l'apocalypse "Crimson Rivers 2: Angels Of The Apocalypse" (2003)

Other Critic's Reviews:
Reel Film Reviews
Beyond Hollywood

Why Catholic-Bashing Should Concern All Christians

In the recent DVD release, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, the historical conflict between Catholics and Protestants takes center stage. The Protestant Queen Elizabeth I is threatened and undermined by the Catholic King Phillip II of Spain. The Catholics in the film are nearly all blind zealots looking to undo the more rational Queen. The Queen herself is presented not as a figure of any notable Protestant belief, but more as a stalwart secularist protecting her homeland from its mystic foes. The film is not a balanced view of this important time in European history, but rather a half-baked diatribe against religion in general.

Filmmakers casually giving the Catholic Church a swift kick in the shorts isn’t a new phenomena. There have been a few films that take swipes at the church like: Stigmata, The Da Vinci Code, The Order, Priest, Constantine, Jeffrey, Hudson Hawk, Dogma, Saving Silverman, The Golden Compass, The Name of the Rose, Primal Fear, The Pope Must Die, Hail Mary, The Devils, The Magdalene Sisters, Chocolat, The Agnes of God, The Boys of St. Vincent, Mystic River, Casanova…It goes on from there. Add your titles to the list.

Why is the Catholic Church so often the focus of attention rather than other Christians? First because the Church has a broad, international reach, and it has a deep influence on every culture it touches. The impact of the church as a worldwide organization is undeniable. This wide reach didn’t happen overnight. The Church has a long history that goes back to Biblical times. You cannot tell the story of mankind without talking a great deal about the workings of the Church. It is the backbone of the Christian faith.

Another reason Catholicism is so readily used as the entertainment industry’s personal diaper is because Catholics are so dang easy to spot. Priests, nuns, cardinals and Popes all wear easily identifiable uniforms. No one has ever said, "Hey, I was down at Chuck E. Cheese and thought I saw the Pope, it turned out it was Jerry." Even if Jerry likes to wander around with a large bejeweled hat, the Pope is the Pope. Think of it, if you’re a filmmaker and have a point to make about Christianity, what do you do? How do you readily show a Baptist preacher? You'd have to show a guy with big hair and a bad sweater. Even if you do this, you'll still have to point out he’s a Christian and not just some poorly dressed guy with a lot of opinions. For the sake of economy, it would be easier to just slap a collar on the guy and give him an Irish last name.

When filmmakers take shots at Christians in general it always causes an uproar. When the target of the insult is Catholic, the cries of foul often are quieter. Sure, with groups like The Catholic League and the well organized online bloggers few insults go unanswered. For non-Catholics the attacks are usually treated as someone else's problem. If a Christian sees a cheap shot at a priest or a story centering on the Church's misdeeds (both imagined and real) and that Christian isn't troubled, there's a problem. The truth be told, all Christians should react strongly when any of our brothers and sisters - even those we disagree with - are maligned. The fact is that when filmmakers attack the Catholic faith more times than not their real intent is to attack ALL Christians from Catholic, to Lutheran and Baptist to everyone in between. Religion in general is the target, not just one branch of it. If you look at films that specifically focus on the Catholic faith such as Elizabeth: The Golden Age, or The Golden Compass study what they are really saying. They're usually not just attacking the Catholic religion, they're attacking all religion. The following of Christ is the issue. If one can injure Christians and dismantle our collective faith, the vacuum that is created can be filled with a secular belief system. When actor Ian McKellen stated on the Today show “I've often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction.” he speaks for a large number of people in the entertainment industry. Should it come as any surprise that McKellen, a proud hater of the Christian faith, has had ample opportunity to star in a number of films that are openly hostile to God (The Da Vinci Code, The Golden Compass, For the Love of God)? Those who loathe Christ and his teachings have a voice and they use it freely with the support of the film industry. Do not fool yourself, those willing to tear the Catholic Church down do not usually trouble themselves with the distinction in theology between the Pope and Billy Graham. When they throw these cinematic eggs at the Vatican they are meant to splatter on us all.

The New World (2006)

Should I see it?

Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven) is considered by many to be a brilliant director. I'm not one with this group. This film about the conflicts between the English settlers and Native Americans is much like Malick's other works. It is a beautifully shot but wholly self-indulgent bore. Colin Ferrell as John Smith who would seemed to be a mismatch with this material does well. Opposite Farrell, Q'orianka Kilcher portrays Pocahontas. Kilcher likewise adds to the beauty on the screen and out performs Farrell. The problem is that the piece is so poorly paced that the performances are drowned in the amount of footage the audience is asked to endure. Overall, this could have been a great piece if handled by a less ponderous writer/director. As it stands, it is too long and too meandering to recommend.

Related Reviews:
Colin Ferrell movies
Phone Booth (2002)
Alexander (2004)

Other Critic's Reviews:

Movie Trailer: Beaufort


Director: Joseph Cedar (Medurat Hashevet)
Screenwriters: Joseph Cedar, Ron Leshem
Actors: Oshri Cohen (Ha-Kochavim Shel Shlomi), Itay Tiran (Forgiveness)

Click here to visit the Movie Trailer Page

Mystery, Alaska (1999)

Should I see it?

This is a solid, entertaining movie. Russell Crowe fronts this production that tells the underdog story of a small town hockey team's goal of playing against the New York Rangers on television. As the big game approaches the lives of the townsfolk are strained. There is a great deal going for this piece and for the most part it delivers. Its always good to see small town people treated with respect in film. Usually, given that most filmmakers are either from metro areas or from privileged backgrounds, regular people rarely get a fair shake and are viewed as simple and stupid. Director Jay Roach (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me) has some respect for these people who live their quiet but consequential lives.

This is a great back up pick when what you want isn't available. This is also quite a well constructed sports film as well. If you're into sports, you should give this one a second look.

Related Reviews:
Sports movies
Faster (2003)
The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005)

Other Critic's Reviews:
Big Screen Cinema Guide
3 Black Chicks Review Movies

The Carnival of Cinema: Episode 67 - The Lord of the Blogs

Welcome to this week's edition of the Carnival of Cinema. Before we begin, I want to thank Missy from OBSERVATIONS FROM MISSY'S WINDOW for hosting the Carnival last week.

Let's jump right in this week as we bring the Carnival back home.

The best way to begin the Carnival is with a festival.

The 10th MAMI International Film Festival came to a closing on Thursday with a gala award ceremony. Renowned Spanish director Carlos Saura was felicitated with Global Lifetime Achievement Award while Bollywood star of yesteryears
Dharmendra was honoured with a lifetime achievement award. Want to know more? Head over to DEARCINEMA and read what Moveye has to say.

Next up, Daniel LeFleche of IPEX VIEW has an article that lists five key trends that predominated at the South By Southwest 2008 Film Festival. From mumblecore to retro-auterism, from fiction to documentary film trends.

Let's move on to something completely different.

Every villain needs a place to rest his heels. Andy Boyd has a list of 20 iconic evil lairs.
From Burns Manor to The Death Star, see them all over at GEEKABOUT.

If you're looking for a good evil lair, try out
Beowulf. Grendel's mommy is quite the happy homemaker.

For more on
Beowulf, check out Gracchi's review of the animated version of the story over at his site WESTMINSTER WISDOM. Once you're done reading about the cartoon, stick around, he also has a review of the documentary Milosevic on Trial.

Alright, let's have some more reviews.

To begin this gathering of opinion, let's have a revue of reviews of what's new.

Funny Games ain't so funny - at least it shouldn't be funny. If you find yourself laughing at it you are one sick puppy. For more on this ironically named flick read Newman's review on his site NEWMAN'S OWN MOVIE CORNER.

Now, let's look at another non-knee slapper.

Keeping things serious, DARKMATTERS - THE MIND OF MATT's Matt Adcock talks about the Guillermo del Toro produced film El Organato "The Orphanage".

For a viewpoint on a film about multiple viewpoints check out
Joe Ewens' point on Vantage Point. His review can be found on JOYOUS FILM REVIEW. From a film which jumps around with points of view to a movie that just jumps around.

Jumper is still hanging on in theaters. Martin of MCT - IMAGES has the review.

And from a movie about traveling in time to one that travels back in time.

10,000 B.C. is terrible today. Don't believe me? Check out Joe's review of the stinkfest over at INTERMISSION AT WORK.

Next up, Jean Brunet gives us a look at Simon Pegg's latest Run, Fat Boy, Run. Jean has the post over at SIZZLINGPOPCORN.COM. If you like what you read over there, there's plenty more where that came from. Jean also has reviews of Away From Her and No Country for Old Men.

When you're done reading about No Country for Old Men you can head over to
DEARCINEMA. Thee Thomas Elce asks and answers the question "What's next for the Coen Brothers?"

Let's move on to some older films. We'll start with a couple from 1950

Roberto Rossellini's Stromboli is served up over at CAFEPELLICOLA. Click here to see Shalomi Ron's post.

The second movie from 1950 can be found over at Miss O'Shea's site THE ROADSHOW VERSION where it is all about All About Eve.

Too young to know what All About Eve is all about? Check out the trailer below:

Next up, Rich gives his opinion on the snoozer flick Matewan. Head over to RANDOM MOVIE CLUB
™ to read more.

RANDOM MOVIE CLUB™, geez, a trademark? Ain't we fancy. Does this mean every time I write RANDOM MOVIE CLUB™ that I have to put a "™" after it? What happens if I forget to put a ™ after RANDOM MOVIE CLUB™? Can RANDOM MOVIE CLUB™ sue me? That puts a lot of pressure on me. I can't afford to get sued by RANDOM MOVIE CLUB™. Its not like I'm running some big shot site where I have a ™ or something. I hope I don't forget. Man, this ™ crap is stressful.

On the subject of stressful situations - let's turn our attention to getting married.

Check out Harrison's
Top 25 Most Extravegant Celebrity Weddings over at BRIDAL PARTY TEES.

Frillly, silly, girly things - more posts about weddings? Nah, we're talking about the French.

Over at THE EARTHLY PARADISE, Margaret Mary posts that "
Classic Hollywood often exhibited an interesting perspective on the French Revolution. These overblown costume dramas are a delightful diversion that remind movie viewers of all ages."

Next, Christine of ME, MY KID AND LIFE writes about a local filmmaker film festival in Strasbourg, France. and on to something completely unrelated. Blue Skeleton has a movie trailer for Chapter 27. Chapter 27 is a film about the Murder of John Lennon by the Psycho Mark David Chapman. Check out MEDIA PRODUCTION BLOG to see the ad.

Hey, get this, Kevin has personal problems with Back to the Future. How can a person have personal problems with Back to the Future? Search me, head over to Kevin's site POINTLESS BANTER to find out.
Was Peter Lorre at heart a devilish, treacherous, evil creep? Find out, Theodore Pappas has a post about the little guy over at BRITANNICA BLOG.

What's going down with Conan Stevens? Click over to his blog GIANT ACTOR - CONAN STEVENS to read about the big guy's audition for Street Fighter II.

I often get similar reactions when I walk into a room as well, but its usually not a good thing. The reaction I get has the same surprise and language but then its followed by vomiting and tears.

Bringing things to a close this week is Paul McElligott. On his site CELLULOID HEROES, he honors the passing of science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke by reviewing the film based on his work, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

…and CUT!…and PRINT!

Thanks to everyone for their posts.

Hey, why have your posts collect dust in your archive folder? The Carnival of Cinema is ongoing with submissions being taken through each Wednesday and posting every Friday. Send submissions HERE!

Other carnival editions:
Carnival of Cinema: Episode II
Carnival of Cinema: Episode III
Carnival of Cinema: Episode XI

Street Fight (2005)

Should I see it?

Perhaps I'm a sucker for underdog stories, but I found this documentary about the 2002 mayoral campaign in Newark, New Jersey fascinating. Young, idealistic Cory Booker runs against the city's mayor-for-life Sharpe James. The film is heavily tilted toward the young upstart and James' camp comes off seeming as thuggish as possible . This is partly due to the fact James' camp does appear to be populated with thuggish individuals, (James was indicted on conspiracy charges in July 2007). To be fair, the documentary does hold its thumb on the scales in Booker's favor but this doesn't detract overall from the power of the piece.

How's that for moral confusion? I first say the film is tilted to the benefit of one party and then dismiss this as if it weren't a big deal. That's so two-faced, maybe I should be the one running for office.

The fact is that there is enough genuine moments of note in this piece to make it worth seeing. The brutal confrontations and tricks many identify with national campaigns can be found in this simple local election. This film paints a disturbing portrait of American politics.

Related Reviews:
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003)
The Goebbels Experiment (2005)

Other Critic's Reviews:
All Movie Guide

Gwoemul "The Host" (2006)

Should I see it?

A great update to the Godzilla template. A strange monster terrorizes the citizens living near Seoul's Han River. The Park family is sent on a quest to kill the monster when it grabs the teenage Park Hyun-seo (Ah-sung Ko) and hides her away in its lair deep in the sewers. The monster is handled well and seems real enough. This is mostly due to the care the filmmakers took to give it realistic movement. It is somewhat clumsy when rushed but is capable of graceful movement when attacking much like a lizard. I was impressed with how they handled the beast. The characters elevate themselves above being simple sketches and gives this piece an interesting depth that makes this a worthy movie. I warn you that the ending teeters on the ridiculous and almost spoils any successes the earlier acts achieved.

Click on the screaming folk to see the trailer

Related Reviews:
Another monster movie
Cloverfield (2007)

Other Critic's Reviews:
Film Freak Central

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

Should I see it?

Short Review: What's more pathetic than a bunch of goofballs wasting their lives playing Donkey Kong? A bigger goofball writing a review about them wasting their lives playing Donkey Kong.

Tthis is one of the better documentaries I've seen in recent years. I know its strange to say that about a movie telling the story of geeks fighting for the world record score in Donkey Kong. Many may consider this to be a frivolous movie about frivolous people. In some ways this is true, again, at its core it's about losers attaching their self identity to their ability to score fantastically high scores on a 1980's arcade game. The arguments, conniving and shed tears in this piece are anchored in human stupidity - then again so are most things we strive after.

What did I find so wonderful about this film?It is hilarious to see geeks in their natural habitat and completely unfiltered. Their awkward, odd mix of high intelligence/low social skill is on full display. Grown up and surrounded by their own, these geeks revel in their foolish pastime with glee. This peek at geeks is a superficial benefit of the film, look a little deeper and you will find where the movie takes shape.

The film follows perpetual loser Steve Wiebe as he attempts to break the world record for Donkey Kong. Amazingly, this is no easy task. This is not because the game is so hard (it is) but because of the competitive nature of the current champ Billy Mitchell. Mitchell has no intention of relinquishing his crown easily and manipulates the 80's arcade playing society (yes, there is one) against Wiebe. The level of deceit and competition that is shown in this movie is truly surprising.

Documentarian Seth Gordon has a perfect sympathetic hero in Wiebe and couldn't ask for a better villain than Mitchell. Gordon lays out a brilliant competition that seems scripted in many spots. The odd human drama in this movie plays like nerd Shakespeare and this is where the movie gets its depth. The display of our ability to squabble and hurt one another over things so massively trivial is striking to see. The fact that it is being played out by geeks is just the cherry on the sundae.

The natural reaction for most people is to ignore this documentary. It is about Donkey Kong after all. I suggest you give this a second look. If there is any part of you that is intrigued, I recommend you pick it up. At the worst, you have ninety minutes of some serious nerd viewing to enjoy.

Click on the geek to see the trailer

Worldview: Regardless of the ridiculous pastime of these men, they are caught up in an ethical drama. The followers of Mitchell want nothing more than their hero to succeed over the usurper Wiebe. Mitchell pathetically plots to destroy his foe and his starstruck geek minions are more than happy to cheer him on. Wiebe, a perfect Everyman, has spent his life getting the short end of the stick and even in a world of nerds, he cannot find a break.

Mitchell for all of his winning and perceived glory is chasing a meaningless end. He boldly talks about "making history" and likens his achievements to the Red Baron of World War I (he's given to egotism). He seems utterly blind to the foolishness of his efforts, the meaninglessness of his goals. It is interesting that Mitchell's own parents casually explain that he is a manipulative guy who will do what he has to do to win. As I watched him scheme to keep his fragile identity intact, I kept thinking of a verse:

"Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun." Ecclesiastes 2:11

In the end, Mitchell is protecting an empty title, a meaningless concept maintained by men who should be doing better things with their lives. Having the best Donkey Kong score isn't inspirational (actually, Wiebe almost makes it so) and it doesn't improve things. Seeing Mitchell's willingness to be cutthroat over something so petty can be a reminder to the rest of us. What do we hold dear and protect too strongly? Is your identity invested in empty fleeting moments of glory, titles or things or is it in the only thing that actually lasts - God? A person who submits to the Lord is spared from having to cherish the frivolous. See, you can get all of that from a bunch of nerds playing games.

Cautions: I don't recall any cursing and this thing is brimming with nerds, so there's no nudity or sex (just like in real life with these guys). This isn't for the whole family since I can't imagine younger viewers getting into it. Overall, it is a safe flick for those sensitive over content.

Related Reviews:
Street Fight (2005)
This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Other Critic's Reviews:

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Movie Trailer: Wanted

Click here for the official site


Click here to return to the Movie Trailer Page

Director: Timur Bekmambetov (Nochnoy Dozor "Night Watch")
Screenwriters: Michael Brant (3:10 to Yuma), Derek Haas(3:10 to Yuma), Chris Morgan (Cellular)
Actors: James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland), Angelina Jolie (Mr. & Mrs. Smith), Morgan Freeman (Evan Almighty), Terrance Stamp (The Limey), Common (Smokin' Aces)

Movie Trailer: Run Fatboy Run

Click here for the official site


Click here to return to the Movie Trailer Page

Director: David Schwimmer (Yes, the guy from Friends)
Screenwriters: Michael Ian Black (Yes, Johnny Blue Jeans (there's an esoteric reference), Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz)
Actors: Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton (The Pursuit of Happyness), Hank Azaria (Mystery, Alaska)

Movie Trailer: Leatherheads

Click here for the official site


Click here to return to the Movie Trailer Page

Director: George Clooney (Good Night and Good Luck)
Screenwriters: Duncan Brantley, Rick Reilly
Actors: George Clooney, John Krasinski, Renne Zellweger, Stephen Root (Office Space)

Movie Trailer: The Dark Knight

Click here for the official site


Click here to return to the Movie Trailer Page

Director: Christopher Nolan (Memento)
Screenwriters: Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer (Batman Begins)
Actors: Christian Bale (3:10 to Yuma), Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain), Michael Caine (Sleuth), Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko), Gary Oldman (Romeo is Bleeding), and Aaron Eckhart (Thank You For Smoking)

Waiting for Guffman (1996)

Should I see it?

Loaded with wit and charm, this mostly improvised story about a small town's trials while putting on a stage play to celebrate their town's 150th anniversary is one of the best comedies of the nineties. Christopher Guest fronts an ensemble cast that includes Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard, Parker Posey, and Larry Miller. Guest shines in this film, but that is no easy task as everyone on screen is giving some of the more memorable performances of their careers. Posey's dim minded small town girl Libby Mae Brown is particularly funny (at least to me).

Much like Guest's previous ad-libbed outing, This is Spinal Tap! and his follow-up Best in Show, this movie is a showcase of comedians doing what they are meant to do - work off the tops of their heads. The wit in this piece, like in Spinal Tap has an organic vibe that only fuels the comedy. I highly recommend this film, especially if you've ever been involved in theater or the making of a film. The pathetic drama and public display of insecurity is perfectly mocked here.

If you've suffered through Guest and company's other, less successful outings For Your Consideration and A Mighty Wind, don't let those missteps deter you from this fantastic work.

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Other Critic's Reviews:
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Gongdong Gyeongbi Guyeok JSA "J.S.A.: Joint Security Area" (2000)

Should I see it?

Director Chan-wook Park (Three...Extremes) has an interesting premise to work with and manages to develop a pretty good piece - not brilliant, but good. The story centers on the deaths of two North Korean soldiers in the DMZ that divides North and South Korea. When a South Korean solider is accused of killing the men Swiss investigators (a neutral party) is brought in to settle the matter. There are some dynamics working in this film that can only come from the Korean perspective and Chan-wook Park does well playing these elements into his narrative.

Again, this isn't a cinematic marvel by any stretch of the imagination but it is a competent and interesting piece.

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Sleuth (2007)

Should I see it?

Short Review: You could make this film into a drinking game - take a shot every time you get bored.

Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Anthony Shaffer's stage play is lackadaisical from frame one forward. Branagh direction gets in his own way. From his choice of shots to how he lays out his compositions, the piece is over managed and isn't given the freedom to breathe. Its a remarkable thing to see a film so disturbed by the director's hand. The choices made by Branagh and company are so obtuse I had to check twice to make sure this wasn't cobbled together by student filmmakers. The sets, meant to show a rich man's lonely post modern mansion, look more like backdrops to a Duran Duran video than something a human would actually live in. While this may be the ultimate intent of the designer, they distract from the action taking place on screen. Combined with the bone dry dialog, this whole movie is a like a real crappy piece of conceptual art.*

The adaptation, written by Harold Pinter is as dry as old toast covered in sand and served on a plank of dried balsa wood. Shaffer's play pits two characters, the young, handsome Milo and the aged, wealthy and intelligent Andrew. Milo has run off with Andrew's wife and as come to Andrew's mansion to ask the old man to give the woman a divorce. Andrew has a devious plot for the young actor however and a well conceived plot unwinds. Pinter's takes Shaffer's piece and makes it into an antiseptic bore. By the time the piece picks up some steam, Pinter has asked the audience to sit through an insufferable amount of needless prattling. The characters exhibit no actual human qualities beyond the capacity to speak words and inflect their voices. Michael Caine and Jude Law both seem awkward in their lines and developing their roles. Caine in particular seems off. This is surprising since he can pretty much show up on a set and carry the show. In this instance however, he is clearly not comfortable. He should be quite at home in this film though since this isn't the first time he's been around this material.

Back in 1972, Shaffer himself wrote a cleaner and bouncier version that starred Lawrence Oliver and Caine. Caine of course, played the younger role his first time out. The previous version seems like a piece of brilliant cinematic art in comparison to this needless update. The original, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (The Barefoot Contessa, Cleopatra) revels in the play of characters. Branagh's version comes across like someone reading the script to you for ninety minutes.

If you have a need to see this film do yourself a huge favor and head down to your local video store, dig around in the dusty portion of the drama section and rent the original. It will cost a great deal less and entertain a great deal more.

* - to be fair, all conceptual art is crappy.

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