I like my odds

As a life-long lover of zombie flicks, my advice - paranoia and shotguns are your friends.

It also helps to be a complete jerk. No mother, you can't come in, you may be a zombie. Stop whining!

Click here to take the test


97%

and just for fun...

Movie Trailer: Step Brothers

I'm a sucker for Will Ferrell. As my Geddy Lee Lovin' Brother-in-law likes to say "He may be a one trick pony, but its a darn good trick." Being one of a handful of literate people who actually enjoyed Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, there is a stupid little part of me that is hopeful this movie won't stink. Then there's the realist side that looks at the trailer below and sees yet another mindless, cheap comedy.

I honestly think Ferrell and John C. Reilly are a good pairing, they compliment each other well. This seems like it would be a good vehicle for their talents. I'm willing to bet this will be another instance where I secretly think its funny while everyone else around me scoffs and shakes their heads.


Click here to visit the official site

video


Screenwriters: Adam McKay (
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), and Will Ferrell (Elf)
Director: Adam McKay (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby)
Actors: Will Ferrell (Wedding Crashers), John C. Reilly (Magnolia), Mary Steenburgen (The Brave One), and Richard Jenkins (The Kingdom)


Click here to return to the Movie Trailer Page

No Country For Old Men (2007)

***Cross-posted on CATHOLIC MEDIA REVIEW***


Should I see it?

Yes (with cautions)

Short Review: Great until the final act and then it gets very muddled. It’s like getting great, scenic directions to grandma’s house but once you get there, instead of seeing Grandma’s house, you’re left parked in front of a closed down petting zoo that is being used to hold practices for the local bomb squad. Sure it’s interesting but didn’t someone promise we’re going to grandma’s?




The Coen Brothers' intricate film is beautifully shot, and eloquently written film but it is also marred by their tendency towards self indulgence. They are simply the worst at ending their movies. Their final acts almost always descend into strange musings that are incompatible with the rest of the story. I contend the reason they tend to flounder is because they’re not actually telling stories, they’re describing people. They get so involved in their characters
that they forget to propel their narrative into a resolvable direction. In the case of this film, they frankly abandon telling the story and wander off to investigate the ethical issues that curse their characters. It's a little like seeing someone works on a complicated mathematical problem on a chalkboard, only to have them wipe the slate clean before giving you the sum and then begin working on a related problem. If you’re into closure or traditional endings, this film will leave you wanting.

Even with its stuttering resolution, this is a remarkable piece of cinema. It is clearly deserving of all of the awards and praised it has received. Every aspect of the film is m
asterfully handled and shows a dedication to intricate filmmaking that is a pleasure to witness. The story revolves around three men. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a gruff welder, stumbles across the results of a drug deal gone bad in the desert. From this he discovers and keeps a case containing two million dollars. He takes it home to his simple wife Carla (Kelly MacDonald). It isn’t long before the menacing killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem, in an Oscar winning performance) arrives in the area, looking to get the lost loot. Chigurh, with a devil’s smile and a patient, yet frightening, tone tracks down Moss across Texas. He gives the feeling of being supernatural, a symbol more than a man, more on that in a bit. As Chigurh pursues Moss, the killer…well, kills. He leaves a trail of dead hotel clerks, criminals and random people on the road. On this trail, old, crusty sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) struggles to make sense out of the nonsensical deaths caused by Chigurh’s efforts. This may not seem like a foundation for a great film. In many cases, the story itself is rather pedestrian. Where this movie strikes its cord is in character and in the choices made by the Coens.

This is one of the best character pieces made in recent memory. It is a rare thing to be presented with characters so intensely interesting that there’s a sense of loss when long scenes of dialog end. I wanted to see more about these people, learn more about them. This careful character construction makes the confrontations more tense since the audience is involved on both ends of the fight. When Moss and Chigurh finally meet and fight, I found mys
elf hoping for a draw so the film could continue. I can’t think of the last time this has happened.

This is a fantastic movie that I cannot recommend it highly enough. You have two master filmmakers at the height of their skills working with a cast that meets the high expectations of a brilliant script. What more could you ask for?



Cautions:
This is an incredibly violent movie. It is a study of evil and that evil is expressed in blood. This sanguine film doesn’t push the gore to an unreasonable level and the violence, while quite rough, is handled with respect. It’s not there for the sake of showing something exciting; it goes to build the story. In other words, it’s excusable. This said, it is important for those who are sensitive to seeing violent images to be forewarned that this film is loaded with brutal killings.


Worldview:
The film is a search for structure (read God) in this seemingly random world. Two of the main characters, Ed Tom Bell and Anton Chigurh struggle with meaning in different ways. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell tries to think his way to an explanation. He sees the results of men’s dark hearts and the disconnected path of violence. Confronted with this, Bell attempts to keep order and attempts to reason. He fails and ultimately gives up the cause by saying “I always figured when I got older, God would sorta come into my life somehow. And he didn't. I don't blame him. If I was him I would have the same opinion of me that he does.

Anton Chigurh himself is a remorseless killing machine. In a sense he is much like The Terminator since once he begins on a path to kill someone he does not stop until the task is done. At one point however, a fellow killer says of Chigurh when Moss says he will make a deal with the killer “You don't understand. You can't make a deal with him. Even if you gave him the money he'd still kill you. He's a peculiar man. You could even say that he has principles. Principles that transcend money or drugs or anything like that. He's not like you. He's not even like me.” Chicurh, acts as a grim reaper, slowly but surely coming to claim each soul. He is lost, however, in a meaningless world of death. Casually peddles death seems to be a way for him to define certainty in a strange way. In the film’s best scene, Chicurh confronts a dim-eyed shop owner and has the man call a flipped coin. If the man wins, he lives, if he loses, Chigurh will kill him. Chigurh states about the 1958 coin “It's been traveling twenty-two years to get here. And now it's here. And it's either heads or tails. And you have to say. Call it.” The coin, fate (God) decides the outcome to this man’s life, not Chigurh. He never makes the jump that it is his choice whether to kill or not. He doesn’t recognize that it is not fate but rather his choice to flip the coin in the first place which defines him. God may put him in the situation, but his reaction to it is the key. At the end of the film, and if you haven’t seen the film please stop here because I’m going to give away important parts of the plot, Moss’ wife Carla confronts Chigurh face to face. Chigurh, in a moment of mercy, allows her the flip of a coin to decide her fate.

Carla Jean Moss: You don't have to do this.
Anton Chigurh: [smiles] People always say the same thing.
Carla Jean Moss: What do they say?
Anton Chigurh: They say, "You don't have to do this."
Carla Jean Moss: You don't.
Anton Chigurh: Okay.
[
Chigurh flips a coin and covers it with his hand]
Anton Chigurh: This is the best I can do. Call it.
Carla Jean Moss: I knowed you was crazy when I saw you sitting there. I knowed exactly what was in store for me.
Anton Chigurh: Call it.
Carla Jean Moss: No. I ain't gonna call it.
Anton Chigurh: Call it.
Carla Jean Moss: The coin don't have no say. It's just you.
Anton Chigurh: Well, I got here the same way the coin did.

Carla demands Chigurh acknowledge his freewill, his culpability in her murder, in all of his murders. He can’t make the leap, if he comes to admit his actions are of his own making, he is then guilty, an active player in this world and not some random device. Earlier in the film he refers to himself as a “perfect tool for the job”, the job being to kill another person. Chigurh finds his heels stuck in the swamp of a completely fate based world. If man is directed completely by fate then he is nothing more than a tool, a mere function. With freewill, choice, man ignites the sometimes terrible consequence of randomness on the world but he can also be judged for the decisions he makes.


Related Reviews:
Coen Brothers movies
Miller's Crossing (1990)
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
The Ladykillers (2004)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Dear Cinema
Popcorn Junkies



Movie Trailer: The Incredible Hulk

Ang Lee's Hulk stunk so bad Marvel was forced to refranchise the big green guy. Ed Norton has taken scripting duties. I respect Norton's acting ability but giving him the reigns on a script, when he's never been a proven talent in the craft, is beyond me. While superhero movies don't tend to be great cultural events - who knows, maybe this one will be worth it.


video

Screenwriters: Edward Norton, Zak Penn (Last Action Hero)
Director: Louis Leterrier (The Transporter)
Actors: Edward Norton (Fight Club), Liv Tyler (Armageddon), Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs), Robert Downey Jr. (Zodiac), and William Hurt (Mr. Brooks)


Click here to return to the Movie Trailer Page

Movie Trailer: Blindness

Coming out on October 3rd, this film by Fernando Meirelles (City of Men) tells the story of a doctor's wife who cares for her husband as a plague of sudden blindness sweeps through the city. The concept of a virus blinding humanity is interesting and could be the basis for a fascinating film. My gut, and the stink of pretentiousness coming off the trailer below, tells me otherwise.

The movie stars Julianne Moore, an actress who has apparently dedicated her career to pompous movies: Children of Men, Short Cuts, I'm Not There, Boogie Nights, The Hours and Psycho. Its as if she enters into negotiations for every role by demanding that the director create a haughty, unwatchable ode to self indulgence. Adding to the warning signs, certified wing nut Danny Glover makes an appearance - never a good sign.

Just the same, check out the trailer and make up your own mind. What do you think? Does it look good or not?



Click here to visit the official site

video

Return to the Movie Trailer Page



Screenwriter: Don McKellar
Director: Fernando Meirelles (City of Men)
Actors: Julianne Moore (Children of Men), Mark Ruffalo (Zodiac), Alice Braga (I am Legend), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon), Gael Garcia Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries)
and Sandra Oh (Sideways)



The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

Should I see it?
Nope.



Even if you enjoyed the previous two Bourne films (The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy), which I did not (the entire series is all flash and no substance), this outing is a still an unsatisfying and lifeless disappointment.

Matt Damon (The Good Shepherd) returns as Jason Bourne, an assassin, estranged from the government agency that created him. Once again, the government is trying to kill Bourne, and once again he does battle with a number of faceless assassins, all the time helping a kinda pretty damsel in distress who has been sucked into his little drama. The whole series is tedious stuff and Damon is simply a lame lead for an action film. Its casting like this that makes it possible for guys in their fifties and sixties (Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis) to continue to make action movies. Instead of priming a new generation of masculine actors, Hollywood seems content with pushing softies like Damon. We have to look the elderly actors to remind us of how men used to act before this generation of testes-free heroes took the stage. C'mon, Damon looks like he should be playing touch football with his old college pals down at the park rather than kicking the crap out of a bad guy and standing up for what's right.

Back to the film. If you've seen the previous movies, you've basically seen this one already. If you haven't seen the previous movies, there's still nothing new to warrant your attention. You've seen all of this before in one shape or another in other films. Even if you come to this movie wanting nothing more than to see some thrilling chases or gunfights you'll leave disappointed. Director Paul Greengrass (United 93) has delivered a wholly uninspired and ultimately needless addition to this franchise.

Click on Damon's little pug head to read
Jeff Burton's guest review of this film



Related Review:
Matt Damon movies
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
The Brothers Grimm (2005)


Other Critic's Review:
Reel.com
Celluloid Heroes

Guest Reviewer: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

***Thanks to Jeff Burton for this review. For more of his posts, head over to BURTONIA BLOGS***



You might want to make sure your seated while reading this, but there are still rogue elements at the CIA who want Jason Bourne dead. Yes, he's on the run again, and if the dog days of August leave you wishing for more frantic chases in exotic locales interspersed with frantic nail-bitting at the CIA operations center, then let me recommend "Ultimatum". The movie's makers can be forgiven for borrowing heavily from the last plot, if only on the strength of the central figure, Bourne. He's so fun to watch, it doesn't matter if he's caught on some Sisyphean black ops treadmill. The real key to the franchise's success are the clever tricks Bourne uses to foil the bad guys, and this movie has the requisite number.

For the first time, the Bourne series becomes ever so slightly political. I think my Hollywood political B.S. antenna might be more sensitive than most, but I think I counted half a dozen uses of the word "rendition", and they weren't discussing cover bands. But all that is going to sail over 90% of the theater-going-public's heads.

While the movie works well as a summer escapade, it could have been a deeper experience. The frenetic pace and the meth-addled camera work dilute the impact of the important moral message. Up until now, Bourne has blamed others for his predicament. In this movie, he discovers the real source of his troubles, and the ending could have used more time for him and us to process this.

This is a warmed over rehash, and I liked it. That said, I'm sure the "Ultimatum" is the not the ultimate Bourne picture. The franchise is going to have to start exploring new terrain, lest we all roll our eyes and mutter, "Bourne, again."


Click the image below to view
Scott Nehring's take on the film



Related Review:
Matt Damon movies
Syriana (2005)
The Good Shepherd (2006)


Other Critic's Review:
ReelViews
Dark Matters



Carnival of Cinema: Episode 71 – The Wild Blogs

Welcome to the Carnival of Cinema, a weekly round-up of the web’s best cinema related posts.

If you’re interested in submitting your movie review, post about film commentary or industry advice please FOLLOW THIS LINK and be the first kid on your block to see yourself in the best Carnival known to mankind.


Kicking things off, Newman lets us know if we should forget Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Follow the link over to NEWMAN'S OWN MOVIE CORNER to read his review of this new release.


Christina M. Rau begins also takes a look at Forgetting Sarah Marshall on her site LIVIN' THE DREAM (ONE LOSER AT A TIME). Christina also takes on the bomb d’jour, Al Pacino’s 88 Minutes. Head over to check out Christina’s site then come back to this site to check out Pacino’s head.


Nothing sadder than a seventy year old man decked out in black leather and wearing shades at night.

Speaking of the aged…


The Rolling Stones/Martin Scorcese IMAX concert film Shine a Light is reviewed by Dan over at POPCORN, SODA, AND GOOBERS. He says “One of the most enjoyable movie going experiences I've had in years. Make sure to see it in IMAX”


And for all of you who are excited to see the Stones, you’re probably just as thrilled that the movie based on the book series The Clique is coming along swimmingly. Have a deep need to know more? Go over to THE CLIQUE MOVIE UPDATES to get the latest news from Kathy Creighton.


I imagine if I ever am forced by my daughter to sit through The Clique I may just end up on Harrison’s list.


This week Harrison has a list of the top twenty mental breakdowns over at CUSTOMIZEDGIRL BLOG.


For another list, head over to THE SCHOLARPRENEUR to see Tony H.’s list of the ten best movies posters ever.


For yet another list, Joe’s INTERMISSION AT WORK lists the reasons why he doesn’t want you in his theater.


Just for a break let’s take another look at Al Pacino’s goofy head.


Look at this hair, it looks like a small dog crawled up there and died.

Next up, we got a pile of stuff from SIZZLING POPCORN. Jean has a film review of La Misma Luna (Under The Same Moon), a look at the upcoming adaptation The Spirit and tops things off with a rundown on what’s coming out this weekend.


Coming out in August, The Accidental Husband gets reviewed by General Disdain over at THE CRITICAL CRITICS.


A new release back in 1959, Ben Hur, one of the best films of all time, is handled by Matthew Sinclair. On his site SINCLAIR’S MUSING Sinclair posts this as a response to one over at Westminster Wisdom.


This week at CAFE PELLICOLA - WINDOW TO FINE ITALIAN CINEMA, Shlomi Ron has a good film review of the Italian farce I Soliti Ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street).


Click here to see the trailer



Over at ALL RILEYED UP Riley gets all riled up over the family-friendly flick A Plumm Summer.


What Does God Sound Like? That’s the question posed by Tristan L. Sullivan on his site IMAGINE. What does God sound like? I dunno, I assume he has a boom but strangely soothing baratone.


I hope he doesn't sound like Ben Stine.


In the final post this week, Greg Laden expresses his thoughts on Ben Stein’s Intelligent Design documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Click here to go to GREG LADEN'S BLOG.


To close things up, let’s take one final gander at Pacino’s clownishly coiffed hair.

…and CUT!…and PRINT!


Thanks to everyone for their submissions! The Carnival of Cinema is ongoing with submissions being taken through each Wednesday and posting every Friday.








Other Carnival Editions:
The Carnival of Cinema: Episode III
The Carnival of Cinema: Episode IV

Movie Trailer: Redbelt

This David Mamet written/directed film hits your local art house for a few days beginning on May 9th. Mamet may be one of the best living American playwrights but his movies tend to be a serious drag. This one stars Chewitel Ejiofor as a peaceful jujitsu instructor who is lured by circumstance into prize fighting. Apparently, this is Mamet's version of a Steven Segal movie.

Click here to view the official site

video

Screenwriters: David Mamet (Spartan)
Director: David Mamet (Wag the Dog)
Actor:
Chiwetel Ejioforer (American Gangster), Alice Braga (I am Legend), Tim Allen (Galaxy Quest), and David Paymer (Mr. Saturday Night)



Click here to return to the Movie Trailer Page

Movie Trailer: Henry Poole is Here

Coming out on July 25th, Henry Poole is Here stars Luke Wilson in the titular role. The film is about a man who abandons his current life and plans to spend his days in solitude. His plans fall apart when his home becomes a shrine after a stain on his wall is seen as being miraculous - wackiness ensues.

How could it stink? It stars Luke Wilson and was a hit at Sundance...oh wait, those aren't necessarily good things...

video

Return to the Movie Trailer Page


Screenwriter: Albert Torres
Director: Mark Pellington (
U2 3D)
Actors: Luke Wilson (Idiocracy), and Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill)

The Omega Man (1971)

Should I see it?
Only if you don't mind dated material.


Short Review: Charlton Heston shooting mind-numbed radical zombies looking to take over the world...ah, the good ol' days.


Based on Richard Matheson's novel, this movie tells the story of Robert Neville, a scientist who creates a superbug that nearly wipes out mankind. The survivors of the virus have been turned into violent, psychotic creatures that cannot stand the daylight. Neville (Charlton Heston) struggles to survive the onslaught of attacks from the zombies. If this all sounds familiar, this movie comes from the same source material as the Will Smith movie I Am Legend.

This piece is laughable in many areas, not necessarily for faulty film making but because it hasn't dated well. Heston's belligerent style does work well when he's shooting zombies. When things slow down, his bigger than life persona is mismatched and the scenes get clunky.

The "zombies" Neville is threatened by are merely people dressed in black robes and sunglasses. Instead of inciting fear, they are invite snickers, the dated look and their insipid dialog is distracting and pushes the film from being a classic to being kitsch. The zombies believe they have been cursed with their disease as punishment for mankind's reliance on technology. This leads them to see Neville as the final living symbol of the sinful modern civilization. Over and over they bemoan our need to use technology and speak with religious fervor of the coming time where "things of the wheel" will go away. It never dawns on them that they're all wearing sunglasses, a part of sinful modern technology.

Putting this up against Smith's version, I'd recommend watching I Am Legend instead of sitting through this dated movie. It may have been quite something in its day, but now its just...well, silly.


Related Reviews:
Zombie movies
28 Weeks Later (2007)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Roger Ebert
Sci-fi Movie Page


Superbad (2007)

Should I see it?
No.



The title is fitting. Like many comedies today, Superbad seems like its funny but its actually not - its just foul. Trading foul gags for real laughs isn't new, its been going on in mainstream films since I've been alive. As of late, however, the sheer number of comedies that are lacking in any real inventiveness and identifiable humor is on the rise.

This is a comedy for people who don't know any better - meaning teenagers. Sure, I sound like a snob, then again, I am one. Enjoying lukewarm slop like this is akin to being thrilled over hocking down a Whopper. If you don't know what real cuisine tastes like, the greasy slab probably seems good. The writing is horrible, and has nothing to say. The acting by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera is passable, and not noteworthy. The film as a whole is crude, childish and short on intelligence. Many critics have stated that this film is heartwarming on a certain level, I missed this completely. The characters are too thin to give enough depth to become heartwarming. The truth be told, I kept sitting there waiting for the movie to get better. It never did me the favor. My inability to connect with the film of course may be due to the fact that I'm not in the film's demographic, but then again, if the film was well written, that wouldn't matter.

Anyone who's seen any of the stupid teenage sex comedies of the 1980's, The Last American Virgin leaps to mind, you'll find very familiar ground covered here. If you're interested in seeing what lowbrow crud is being passed on to the consumer these days, you may want to give it a look. Other than academic curiosity, you're probably best just avoiding this one.


Related Reviews:
Comedies
The 40-Year Old Virgin (2005)
Reno 911: Miami (2007)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Dark Matters
Cinephile


The Carnival of Cinema: Episode 70 – Sweeney Blog

Welcome to the Carnival of Cinema, a weekly display of the web’s best cinema related posts. Movie reviews, film commentary and industry advice is all yours every week.

The Carnival has been on tour as of late. Last week the Carnival was hosted by Clay Mabbitt's SINGLE SENTENCE MOVIE REVIEW. Thanks to Clay for handing the Carnival – great job.


Let’s get this thing started. Over at BANGALOREBEATS, Jeet talks about Race. According to Jeet, “Race is a Bollywood movie featuring some of the top notch actors from the hindi flim industry. It is a fast paced suspense thriller. The story is about the two NRI brothers who race for everything.” Head on over to read more.


Like movie reviews, we have plenty of movie reviews.


For example, Christina M. Rau has a review of Kevin Spacey’s latest flick 21 over at her site LIVIN' THE DREAM (ONE LOSER AT A TIME). To view the trailer to this recent release, click on the image below of the actors pretending to be actual smart, useful people.

Next, we have Lars and the Real Girl, a movie which came out on DVD on April 15th about a recluse (played by Ryan Gosling) who believes that a sex doll is his real life girlfriend. Want to find out why this odd premise has been so well received? Click over to POPCORN, SODA, AND GOOBERS and let Dan explain.


Away From Her, directed by Sarah Polley (Dawn of the Dead, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), is about a man who struggles when his wife, who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and forgets who he is, falls in love with another man in a hospice. Happy-happy-joy-joy. Gracchi reviews the feel good hit of the summer over at his site WESTMINSTER WISDOM.


Since we’re talking about thoughtful, depressing movies with meaning, let’s keep things going.

If you loved Away From Her, go check out Superhero Movie. Head over to THE CRITICAL CRITICS and read what Vaprak has to say about this latest plop in the cinematic porta-potty that is spoof films.


Looking to Manny the Movie Guy’s site MANNY THE MOVIE GUY, Manny interviews the cast and crew of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He reviews the film as well.


Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is out on DVD and people have opinions.


First, Nigel Beale of NIGEL BEALE NOTA BENE BOOKS provides what I consider to be a spot on review of the film.


Second, Tamika M. Murray of PJSANDAMOVIE gives an alternative view of the movie.


There Will Be Blood…yeah…uh…speaking of blood…


Over at MENSTRUAL POETRY – ewwww, Ginny, your prose is spotting – Holly Ord has a trailer for No Trespassing, a film about dealing with child abuse.


And on the subject of kids, let’s move things forward with Tamika M. Murray who pops up again, this time she’s reviewing the Scarlet Johansson’s Nanny Diaries. Click below to view the trailer.




Like watching movies about those who watch the kids? Adventures in Babysitting gets the once over at Sarah’s site SARAHSPY. Go see the life lessons learned by watching this Elisabeth Shue vehicle.


Check out MES CRAZY EXPERIENCES, there you can read Linda’s post about a Korean romance movie made after books written by Guiyeoni.


According to Steve Anderson, Intent is a big deal. Don’t know why? Go find out over at KWANZOO.


Bringing the opinions to a close this week, A Decker talks about the impressions some movies have left on him. He has it on his site, RESONANT ENIGMA.


Bringing the carnival to a close this week, Conan Stevens talks about how stars are born behind the scenes. He talks about how Scott Levy, WWF's Raven, got the starring in the upcoming Australian horror movie. Conan gives a good glimpse at how casting and the business in general really works. Head over to his site ACTION MOVIE ACTOR - CONAN STEVENS for another insightful post.

…and CUT!…and PRINT!


Thanks to everyone for their submissions and welcome to all of the new faces this week.




Other carnival editions:
Carnival of Cinema: Episode 29
Carnival of Cinema: Episode 39
Carnival of Cinema: Episode 43

Guest Movie Review: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008)

***Thanks to Jeff Burton of Burtonia for this guest post***




Leftist filmmakers have been churning out polemical documentaries like Fahrenheit 9/11, Supersize Me, Outfoxed, and Who Killed the Electric Car? for some time. The right is just getting started (Mine Your Own Business, IndoctrinateU), but I'm not sure it's a trend worth joining. The movie "Expelled" with Ben Stein as narrator, gives the Intelligent Design controversy the Michael Moore treatment, and suffers for it. All movies in this category are dishonest at some level. For example, Expelled makes a half-hearted attempt to employ the tired trope that the narrator is investigating something. We need a whole new term for the genre. Something like "argumentary" or "propagamentary." Something with mentary at the end.

In a misguided attempt to lighten up a serious topic, the filmmakers constantly splice black and white stock footage into the narrative. For instance, if someone is describing an argument between two parties, we are treated to a shot from some '30's screwball comedy with two guys slapping each other. It's as dumb and annoying as it sounds. The repetition of this juvenile technique significantly detracts from the film's message. The movie also overuses newsreel images of the Berlin Wall to reinforce the metaphor of a barrier that has been put up in Academia to keep discussion of Intelligent Design out. There is so much of it that at times I wondered whether the topic was the Cold War rather than Darwinism.

In terms of content, "Expelled" concentrates on the wrong things. Instead of making the straightforward argument that detecting design in nature is a legitimate line of scientific inquiry, the movie takes a great deal of time to complain of persecution and to draw a link between Darwinism and Hitler. Even for someone like me, who is sympathetic to the charges, the evidence for harassment and suppression seemed scant and the alarmism surrounding it was unnecessary.

While I believe the guilt-by-association ploy with respect to Nazism was both irrelevant to the film's purpose and partially wrong (contra David Berlinski, Darwinism was neither a necessary nor sufficient cause of the Holocaust), Darwinists should not take much comfort. First, their claim that the Nazis misunderstood Darwinism invites some uncomfortable questions about exactly how they got it wrong that would be worth a documentary in and of itself. Second, this defense can be read as hypocritical. They retort, "Don't blame us if some crazies use our theories to do dumb stuff." But they use the same flawed reasoning they rightly criticize to dismiss Intelligent Design ("We can't entertain I.D. because the crazy fundamentalists will use it to implement theocracy!").

The best parts of the movie are the interviews with the atheist Darwinists. The movie would have done much better to let these guys talk more. The moments with William Provine and his honest nihilism were haunting. Dawkins was marvelous as always. His frustration with Stein's laborious and ridiculous ticking off of Dawkin's disbelief in the entire catalog of potential deities was very understandable, and the segment's inclusion in the film was inexcusable. Dawkins gave the whole game away, however, in one unguarded moment when he allowed that super-intelligent aliens may have seeded the earth with biotic material. He allowed that science might be able to detect the "fingerprint" of such activity. His caveat that the aliens themselves would have had to have evolved via a Darwinism rang hollow. He admitted that we can employ scientific principles to perceive design in biology. These ten seconds of dialog nearly redeem the entire project.

A movie enjoying this much attention is a major opportunity to education and persuade. Expelled's failures are disappointing, especially in light of far superior predecessors such as The Privileged Planet. Fortunately, truth is immune to the vicissitudes of its defenders, and we can hope a better case is made in the future.


Rush Hour 3 (2007)

Should I see it?
No.



The first Rush Hour was a novelty item. It was a fresh (or at least not entirely stale) look at the buddy cop movie. Chris Tucker finally found an outlet for his screeching, annoying persona. Then came Rush Hour 2, which never rose above the ranks of being a cheap sequel. This said, there were a couple of moments that didn't cause pain. Tucker's one-note delivery - and it is one shrill note I tell you, was on full display. In this outing, a shameful attempt at squeezing the last remaining cents out of a belabored franchise, Tucker is teetering on becoming the single most irritating cinematic presence alive. He is the Jar-Jar Binks of action films.

Jackie Chan perhaps isn't the best actor but he is a great performer. His simple charm and the fact that he could at any time fall into one of his ridiculously over-choreographed fight sequences allows him to be able to survive making dimwitted movies. In this case, hack director Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand, After the Sunset) should have simply filmed Chan cashing a paycheck. This is essentially all he was doing anyway.

This film has nothing to offer. The formula is dried up and the even the actors appear bored. I've had more surprises and fun watching the lens changes down at my local optometrist's office.


Related Reviews:
Rush Hour (1998)
Rush Hour 2 (2001)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Christian Spotlight on the Movies
Qwipster's Movie Reviews



Movie Trailer: Righteous Kill

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino team up once again to show that just because someone is beyond their prime, it doesn't mean they can't make a buck. The two star in this tedious looking flick about two investigators tracking a serial killer who is killing criminals who have fallen through the cracks of the judicial system.

Yawn.

There has to be more serial killers in the movies than there have been in real life. It's never enough that someone is a murderer, they have to be a serial killer. I know, they must have the villain be a serial killer because it sets up a trail the cops can follow and provides a more demonic presence than just some jerk bumping people off.

Back in the old days (the seventies - man, it hurts to call those the "old days") they'd just label the bad guy a "psychotic" and leave it at that. Now they all have themes and plots they're unfurling. It's like all of the cinematic killers are working through grudges they built up while getting their masters degrees.


Click below to see the trailer
video"

Let me call this one: De Niro will be the cop who is single and involved with a woman at least twenty years his junior and their relationship is rocky at best. He is also the "cop on the edge". Pacino will be more stable but broken down after years of labor. He may be a family man but will most certainly be divorced. His family life will most likely be represented by a relationship with his estranged daughter. Pacino will be the one who gets killed by the serial killer who will most likely be a former cop from their past who's just sick of seeing the bad guys get away.

This is obviously targeted towards the older audience set, given the presence of De Niro and Pacino and the inclusion of the Stones' tune in the trailer, but I have to imagine that anyone old enough to be lured by these things is probably old enough to feel like they've seen this movie a thousand times before.


Click here to visit the official site


Screenwriters: Russell Gewirtz (Inside Man)
Director: Jon Avnet (Red Corner)
Actor: Robert De Niro (Raging Bull), Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman), Donnie Wahlberg (Saw II), Carla Gugino (American Gangster), John Leguizamo (Empire) and 50 Cent


The Carnival of Cinema - On the Road

This weeks' edition of the Carnival of Cinema is up for the world to see. Once again this week, the Carnival is on tour. This week's stop? Clay Mabbitt's Single Sentence Movie Review. To see this week's edition click on the link click here.

Thanks to Clay for a fantastic job and for running a great site (he's in my blogroll for a reason).

The Brave One (2007)

Should I see it?
Nope.



Short Review: Deathwish with lip gloss.


I've been putting off reviewing this film for a while now. This is for no other reason than I really didn't have anything to say about it. Since I've put up two posts about Uwe Boll this week, I figured I could finally get to this misfire.

The reason I don't have anything to say about this movie is because this movie doesn't have anything to say either. Jodie Foster plays Erica, a public radio personality (one of those who has an insufferably calm voices and blathers about nothing with sincere self-importance) who transforms into a gun toting Bernie Getz wannabe after her half-man, boyfriend gets bludgeoned to death by bad guys. Erica is shadowed by the investigating cop Detective Mercer (Terrence Howard) who suspects the mopey chick is responsible for shooting a bunch of people who, quite frankly, have it coming.

The problem with the movie is twofold. First, it doesn't want to commit to anything. Erica begins her vigilante streak by killing bad guys in self defense by luring villains into harassing her but eventually makes the descent into flat out murder. The film never fully and plainly condemns nor applauds her actions. Erica suffers with the moral balancing act revenge brings but she never comes down on either side. The people she kills have it coming and their deaths don't come with any sympathetic treatment. The fact is that a guy molesting riders on a subway who pulls a knife on a woman is begging for a gun wound. By the end of the movie there is very little actually said about revenge, society or good film making.

The other problem is that this movie, for all of its inability to be up-front with its point, is painfully self aware. Look at the character names - Erica Bain - "Bane" get it? The old word for Killer, death or a curse. Detective Mercer - Mercy. Ain't we clever. The script by television writers Roderick and Bruce A. Taylor stinks of cheesy and easy bits meant to give the illusion of meaning and depth but actually provides very little.


Related Reviews:
Jodie Foster movies
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Inside Man (2001)


Other Critic's Reviews:
It's Movie Time
Decent Films Guide



Now He's Just Asking For It

This weekend Cinematic slop artist Uwe Boll (Bloodrayne) threw the gauntlet down and claimed that if the Internet petition against him got more than 1,000,000 signatures that he would stop making movies and leave the film industry.

Since that time well over 100,000 signatures have been collected (151,178 as of this posting). In reaction to this Boll, utilizing the same careful logic he's used on all of his horrible movies, has released a statement where he labeled Michael Bay (Transformers) a f**king retard" and that Eli Roth (Hostel, Hostel II) is "making the same sh*tty movies over and over again..." He also announced that he is indeed the "only genius in the whole f**king business". While I have no respect for the works of either Roth nor Bay - why drag them into this? Having Uwe Boll ripping on you is like getting your shorts pulled down by the slow kid in gym class.

Check out his video statement here
Warning: Plenty of heavily accented cursing follows



This is a publicity stunt - I get it, but its a stupid one. Even if the petition does get a million names, this goof ain't gonna quit making his lowbrow trash. It's not like one can expect the guy responsible for Alone in the Dark to be a man of honor. This said, getting a million names on the petition will follow the guy around for the remainder of his wasteful and shameful career. Sure, its not like he was going to be remembered as a misunderstood genius in the first place but sometimes its important for a culture to call a turd a turd.

Right at Your Door (2006)

Should I see it?
No.



The premise of this piece, a couple deal with the aftermath of a dirty bomb going off in L.A. has potential. Unfortunately, little of that potential is realized here. Writer/Director Chris Gorak wants a taut, claustrophobic film, he just gets to actors yelling for ninety minutes. The script has Rory Cochrane (CSI: Miami) and Mary McCormack (Mystery, Alaska) so focused on the mechanics of dealing with the various problems that come with the attack that their characters never develop. When Brad (Cochrane) is forced to lock Lexi (McCormack) out of the house, because she may be radiated, the scene doesn't loses its punch because we don't know enough about the two to get too involved. As bystanders we understand the survival nature of Brad's choice and sympathy for Lexi's plight is nonexistent. More time spent on character development would have made scenes like this, any much of the rest of the film much stronger.


Related Reviews:
Terrorism movies
Dirty War (2004)
Munich (2005)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Daily Film Dose
Film School Rejects


Movie Trailer: The Tracey Fragments

If there's one thing this world needs, its another mopey independent film. Ellen Page (Juno) stars in this film about...get this, (straight from IMDb):
"15-year-old Tracey Berkowitz is naked under a shower curtain at the back of a bus, looking for her little brother Sonny, who thinks he's a dog."
Yeah, this is a film that just begged to be made. Who knows, maybe it will be brilliant (it did get nominated for a pile of Genies). Maybe it will be exactly what it looks like - a bunch of depressed Canadians making an ugly movie because in the film industry ugly=important. This is precisely the kind of movies that get hailed by online critics and undergraduate dimwits as being "intelligent" and "an experience", while those living in the real world roll their eyes and shrug their shoulders.

Ellen Page is a notable young actress and, thanks to her Juno following in the States, she will bring some attention to the piece regardless if its good or not. Here's to hoping against the odds that this thing actually doesn't suck.


Click here to view the official site

video


Screenwriters: Marureen Medved
Director: Bruce McDonald (Queer as Folk)
Actor: Ellen Page (Juno)


Click here to return to the Movie Trailer Page



Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Should I see it?
Nope.



Short Review: Ben Affleck is to directing what Ben Affleck is to acting

Ben Affleck is living proof that a nice smile can get you far in Hollywood. Its probably a good thing because by the looks of things, actual raw talent doesn't help much.

Affleck co-wrote and directed this adaptation of Dennis Lehane's novel about a couple who work as private investigators who look into the disappearance of a young girl. The plot is nothing spectacular and it never cuts any new ground. The couple Patrick (Casey Affleck) and Angie (Michelle Monaghan) are inexperienced in investigating but know the streets quite well. Casey Affleck (the actual talented one in the family) does a passable job, but never fills in his character completely. I don't believe this is necessarily his fault since his performance is hindered by a stuttering script and poor pacing. Each scene begins strongly enough but by the end it feels like the screenwriters (Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard) got bored with their own work and couldn't wait to start on the next scene. Then again, that could have been me, I kept finding myself pleading with Affleck to get moving with his predicable story.

Ed Harris also haunts this piece as a worn down cop who acts just like Ed Harris does in every movie he has ever done where he is strapped with a mediocre director. Harris is one of those actors who either gives a stunning performance (A History of Violence, Glengarry Glen Ross) or completely phones it in (Radio, Enemy At the Gates). Harris' job here is to say his lines and be angry and he does his job quite well. Morgan Freeman also shows up to nab a paycheck. Freeman nearly naps through all of his scenes.Like Harris, Freeman doesn't do much to get beyond his own face recognition and offers just enough of a performance to not hurt his career. Both men could have easily of been replaced by lesser actors and the same results would have been achieved.

Its not like Ben Affleck wasn't seated with a talented pool to pull from. He had everything in place except that he insisted on directing and writing the movie. Perhaps (and probably) his involvement is what got this film made in the first place. This doesn't mean it should have been made. This movie offers nothing new, nothing fresh and nothing lasting. It was made simply for the sake of making something. Since it isn't revolutionary, fresh or thoughtful, there's no reason to watch it. Forget about this one, anything about it that may be worth seeing, you've seen a hundred different times in a hundred different movies.


Related Reviews:
Ben Affleck movies
Boiler Room (2000)
Pearl Harbor (2001)
Paycheck (2003)


Other Critic's Reviews:
Film Critics United
The Stop Button



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