WEAPONS (2007)

Written & Directed By: Adam Bhala Lough Cinematography: Manuel Alberto Claro Editor: Jay Rabinowitz 

Cast: Nick Cannon, Paul Dano, Mark Webber, Riley Smith, John Campo, Regine Nahu, Brandon Mychel Smith. Arliss Howard, Aris Mendoza,  Amy Ferguson, Serena Reeder, Jade Yorker 

Weapons present a series of brutal, seemingly random youth-related killings over the course of a weekend in a typical small town in America, and tragically reveals how they are all interrelated.


The film’s structure is Tight and how it begins with a shocking and graphic scene. Then the rest of the film explores how we got to that event by following different characters’ experiences or their own points of view. Leading up to one event where it is handed off to a character who was more in the background of the last character P.O.V.

I don’t like the film but I can’t Lie. It has you as an audience member thinking about it a lot for a few days after. But I can’t say if I didn’t like it because it’s a gruesome story that I felt didn’t need to be told and had no real desire to ever see again or did one just not like the film. 

In its own way. The film tries to have a message of what is going down on the streets with teenagers at the time. it makes no real decisions. It doesn’t condemn nor does it celebrate these kid’s behavior, but tries to show it in simple terms. No gloss, no glory but it still feels wrong.

It’s like wanna-be kids but with more violence and a lot less sex. It just ends up being very disturbing.

It bothers you the way the characters really don’t care about anything or have no fear of the future. Where their actions might lead. The only time we get a glimpse is when Nick Cannon’s character has second thoughts about a decision he has been dead set to do. Then another person takes the decision out of his hands and does it for him. 

You truly feel sorry for most of the characters. Except two by the end. The kids seem so narcissistic. They are impervious to dangerous and shocking things that lie before them.

Plus the director attempts a gritty realism. Which he gets but some scenes could be easily cut down. I’m all for realism but they go on long. Where the characters do absolutely nothing and don’t add to the film overall or characters unless they are supposed to be as bored as the audience.

One question that was left with where are all the parents The whole time? That bothers you and no answers are offered.

What worked against the film was seeing established actors mixed in with the novices. You could tell the difference. It seems real but when you see nick cannon or someone else familiar. It instantly takes you out and reminds you that it’s a movie. No matter how good and believable he is, which is shocking.

This is definitely not a movie teenagers should see, but maybe parents should at least scare them To pay more attention to their kids.

So this worst-case scenario doesn’t happen to them. As this film keeps leaning towards the artistic

This film feels like it goes overboard to be shocking and provocative. It ends up coming out more exploitive. that’s educating the audience and trying to confirm the worst fears of the viewers 

GRADE: C- 

MARGOT AT THE WEDDING (2007)

Written & Directed By: Noah Baumbach
Cinematography By: Harris Savides
Editor: Carol Littleton

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Halley Feiffer, John Turturro, Cirian Hinds, Zane Pais, Seth Barrish, Flora Closs, Michael Cullen 


 A slice of family life: sisters, husbands, children, history, secrets, jealousies. Margot and her teen son, Claude, travel from Manhattan to her family’s Long Island home, occupied by sister Pauline, Pauline’s daughter, and Malcolm, the slacker Pauline will marry outdoors that week under a tree neighbors want removed. Backbiting marks family discussion, particularly between the sisters and in Margot’s cutting remarks to Claude. Pauline tells Margot a secret that Margot promptly tells Claude. Margot dislikes Malcolm and undermines him. She also has marital problems and a lover nearby. People are cruel, inside and outside their families. Is there a refuge for Margot or for Pauline? 


I don’t know if this is supposed to be misery/tragedy emotional pornography with some humor or not. As it is beautifully filmed with natural lighting, but when you are complimenting the filmmaking or certain technical aspects over the whole of the film or you just happen to notice and focus on that more than anything else. You know the movie might be in trouble.

I was looking forward to this film having loved his previous film THE SQUID & THE WHALE. Not to mention other films he has made before and since. This was his bug follow up project. Though I have to say this was a big disappointment really his first for me. It might be because he was following up a big success and his film would have to live up to it and it falls short.

I should have known when Nicole Kidman was cast in it. Not that she is a bad actress. Quite the contrary. Around this time and. Wrote She only seems to do independent films when she wants to be noticed m. As her career might be in trouble and she wants to prove herself to critics again (TO DIE FOR, FUR, RABBIT HOLE) she also comes off as icy onscreen so if she was looking to play different. She could have tried Jennifer Jason Leigh’s role in this film.

Unfortunately for her. This was not like the redirection Charlize Theron had with MONSTER. Here she plays such a bitchy unlikeable character, It’s hard to like anything about her unfortunately for this film other than the kids the same goes for almost every character in this film. Jennifer Jason Leigh is fragile, sympathetic and pathetic. Oddly enough though this maybe the best and funniest work ever by jack black at the time. It takes awhile to get ignited but You can see all the promise people have been saying about him. Though The uncomfortable nature of his relationship with the teenage girl in the film feels reprehensible and especially after the film tries to get us on his side. After that it seems pretty easily to detest his character.

The constant war their characters have with their neighbors could have gone on longer. Those scenes might have sped the move up. The way it stands the neighbors come off like a mix of the duckie boys from THE WANDERERS and The Bumpasses of A CHRISTMAS STORY. They seem to be dirty and mean instead of just mean like the other characters in this film. Who just have better wittier one liners and vocabularies.

Nicole Kidman is the main attraction here. As the film takes place more or less around her character. Even though she is only there for a wedding, but her arrival brings old family drama and her sister’s drama and problems with her fiancé to the forefront.

Of course Nicole Kidman stands out in this film as she all but consumes the film and takes it with her. As she is thebttile character everything seems to stem from her. Even when we try to get into the side stories of other characters they are usually all connected or come back to her 

This is also the moodiest if all of writer director Noh Baumbach’s films which usually are dramatic and go to dark places though usually manage to have a smile. While the film does have humor it seems to have a chilly mean spirited vibe throughout. Which again seems to stem from Nicole Kidman’s character

The film offers the actors plenty to play with and they all get room to shine a bit, but the film and screenplay are more focused on the character of Margot. Her name is in the title.

Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, & Jennifer Jason Leigh moved in together during filming because they wanted to perfect their roles as a dysfunctional family.

The film exists as an emotional melodrama where the overall mood is depression and just melancholy with some bits of humor. While most of the characters are intellectuals.

Jack Black gives an ok performance and much was made of his appearance in the film. Here he gets to play a character who is unlikeable and normal. Which is something that is rare for him. As now he seems more the master of cameo roles or kids entertainment comedy. Though with a kind of wicked streak enough that adults still find him funny. He seems to manage to have it all.

This seems more like a film devoted to the 1970’s and with a twist of the French new wave in presenting a kind of familiar story more emotionally but also with more cutting edge pizzaz.

The film is Not a complete failure. It tries to play more like a European film or at least seems to be inspired by them. Though this film among other does make me wonder why when a film Is depressing they call it realistic and natural. There are a few happy moments that feel like simple pleasure within but in these films it just seems to be more attention paid to the doom and gloom.

Cinematographer Harris Savides used old lenses and shot mostly in natural light to get the dim, ominous look of the film. The natural light and old lenses making the hues darker doesn’t cover up sub par material. This film just heavily is disappointing. It has It’s moments but not enough for the audience. You never know you might like it.

The film feels like an overblown second novel that has too much to prove. Like the first one wasn’t a failure so it feels bloated with self importance. Like the writer is trying too hard to prove themselves. As he wants to explain things yet also be vague enough to have the evidence read into more

GRADE: C

TEETH (2007)

Written & Directed By: Mitchell Lichtenstein 
Cinematography By: Wolfgang Held 
Editor: Joe Landauer 

Cast: Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Josh Pais, Lenny Von Dohlen, Ashley Springer, Hale Appleman  


Dawn grows up in the shadow of a nuclear power plant. In high school, while her biology class studies evolution, she realizes she may have a hidden curse, an “adaptation.” She lives with her mom, step-father, and hard-edged step-brother. She likes Tobey, a guy at school, and he likes her. She takes a pledge to remain chaste until marriage, so they date in groups, watch G-rated films, and don’t kiss, but the power of teen hormones is great, so temptation beckons. Dawn has an admirer in Ryan, and when when things have an unexpected twist with Tobey, she turns to Ryan for help. Will he be her mythical hero and rescue her? Or can she find her way as her own hero, turning the curse into an asset?


Not a blood thirsty violent horror film, not a fun look at the genre.

The premise of a midnight movie that has hints of horror but comes off as a brutal satire based in female sexuality and a vigilante tale all in one.

Jess Weixler is excellent in the lead role and makes quite the on screen debut.

The film isn’t as exploitive or sensationalistic as you might expect considering the premise. It and it’s shots are properly composed it feels off putting and isolated as everything is more matter of fact which makes it feel even more creepy. As in a David Lynch directed film where you wonder what dark intentions lie underneath this flaccid facade.

Not only the guilty are punished or become victims of this particular abnormality. Most of the male characters seem to be unlikeable or become that way. As they come across as predatory in some way. As the abnormality is not controllable as it strikes even when she is feeling comfortable and pleasure, but it seems to have an instinct.

As the film proves to be more complicated then at first thought. As it also includes a dysfunctional family melodrama but when her and her stepbrother played by John Hensley who seems intent on making her a victim in someway. The film does manage to surprise. As it seeks to be more then one note that It could have easily been or become.

The film is intense and punishing though chooses to take it’s time and be about more than it’s noteworthy premise.

One can see how some males would feel uncomfortable watching this film as it shows them being maimed, mutilated and disfigured usually in the genital region. Which allows the shoe to be on the other foot and see how some women might have problems watching films that seem to bask in or glorify violence against women.

Though director Mitchell Lichtenstein seems to over reach to try and make the film overly artistic though then again That could just be his style which gives the film an off kilter feel.

It’s an interesting film to watch but if expecting something over the top. You will be disappointed as or goes for something more textured.

Really hope there is a sequel. If anything his movie teaches us most teenage boys are dare rapists. I don’t know how true that is, but the cast is great, Jess Weixler cute bit in an ordinary way makes you believe her and her characters woes.

John Hensley is still A very peculiar looking man. Like a human anime character truly made me hate him and Lenny von dohlen. Great to see him alive always was a fan because of the movie ELECTRIC DREAMS but I haven’t. Seen him on anything since TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME.

So my final verdict check this out for a Friday night. Not a Saturday night

Grade: C+

PRIDE (2007)

Directed By: Sunu Gonera 
Written By: Kevin Michael Smith, Michael Gozzard, J Mills Goodloe & Norman Vance Jr. 
Story By: Kevin Michael Smith & Michael Gozzard 
Cinematography By: Matthew F. Leonetti 
Editor: Billy Fox 

Cast: Terrence Howard, Bernie Mac, Tom Arnold, Kimberly Elise, Evan Ross, Nate Parker, Scott Eastwood, Gary Sturgis, Brandon Fobbs, Alphonso McAuley 

The determined Jim Ellis starts a swim team for troubled teens at the Philadelphia Department of Recreation.


There must be a cliche that says if you are making an African American period piece that the Afro wigs that are used must be ridiculously, horribly fake that almost distracted me from this film as a whole. While not as terrible as the wigs in the movie THE WOOD. These were pretty bad. This film suffers from more than that, while I did enjoy this film. Call me biased but intend to like heartwarming films especially African American ones because it is rare that we see them.

I also have a weakness for sports story of triumph. With this film like most sports films is predictable and when it’s not predictable it’s cliche ridden. They Coach goes up against his word, but for a good reason. The saintly character had a dark and sordid past. The racist whites who will come around at the end to give respect to the people they were calling animals only minutes earlier.

This film even has Tom Arnold doing a dramatic performance though it doesn’t offer too much dramatic depth. As he is more a villain as one of the racist white coaches.

Bernie mac does a good job, though anytime it calls for him to be emotional. You feel like cracking up. It’s not because he is bad. He actually is good but that is the reaction it seems to garner.

Terrence Howard while a good actor is not usually one of my favorites. He has this quality sometimes that seems to suggest he feels he is too good to be in whatever role he is playing, plus his eyes while pretty always look like they are on the verge of watering or crying.

The film also takes on a romantic subplot, out of nowhere that not only has no steam behind it but also no chemistry.

The film also adds in the fact that education is key to the future. The looming criminal or gangster of the neighborhoods influence. The sole female member joining the team because it also gives voice to women’s rights to this story of success and struggle. Because we all are equal after all.

We don’t know all of the facts behind this true story. So I can’t say which aspects are true or embellished.

The film tries to be earnest and tell it’s story, that while actions happen the film is teaching the characters and viewers life lessons. not sensationalizing it. So for that I must give it the proper respect and it didn’t waste my time or sicken me. It was the acting, directing, editing, staging, cinematography, writing and production values. The script could use some work to be maybe more subtle rather than cookie cutter.

Still give the film it’s props, but I can’t really say there was anything really that special about the film. More a heroic tale that allows for a chance to show black excellence.

GRADE: C+

THE BAND’S VISIT (2007)

Written & Directed by: Eran Kolirin Cinematography: Shai Goldman

Editor: Arik Leibovitch

Cast: Sasson Gabai, Ronit Elkabatz, Saleh Bakri, Khalifa Najour, Rubi Moskovitz, Uri Gavriel, Hilla Sarjon 

A band comprised of members of the Egyptian police force head to Israel to play at the inaugural ceremony of an Arab arts center, only to find themselves lost in the wrong town.


It took me some time to finally watch this movie. Now I am kicking myself for talking so long. As this film is low key magical. That might be best to discover without knowing too much. Even as the title says it all.

The film sneaks up on you the more you spend time with the film and it’s characters. The more depth you realize and feel underneath all the layers That you are charmed. 

Yet the film is filled with a quiet dignity and sadness. That maintains a distance yet leaves itself at times to be vulnerable.

One of the characters realizes who they want to be but also realizes that he is set in his sadness and no matter how he tries he will never be brought out of it. So he focuses on career as that is all he has to the point of obsession and when he is partly separated. He can see what he is missing and is overcome by the kindness shown when he has not been. 

The woman who tries to help them on his travels and takes an interest in him particularly is the first person he has opened up to. As she seems bored in her day to day and him or at least breaking him might be the first amount of excitement she has had In a while. Even as she is more outgoing and extroverted.

The leader of the band refuses her advances and tries to set up a younger Many to carry out the passion he can’t for her physically.

This film hits you like an alcoholic drink that is caffeinated. Throws you off balance but you can’t help but pay attention.

The film takes it’s time as each of the members of the band goes on a visit and has their own little adventure. That would seem more like footnotes In most film, But all add up to a grand experience 

The film stays quirky yet always seems dipped in sadness. As most characters seem longing for something and that leading to them being stilted emotionally.

Used to a certain Comfort yet longing for more even if just a simple gesture. 

Like the music itself, the film has it’s own rhythm and it’s own beats that makes the film not only visually lyrical. It’s a masterpiece of it’s own. Especially as what seems to be said and done with so little. 

Grade: A

STARDUST (2007)

Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman
Based on the Novel By: Neil Gaiman
Cinematography By: Ben Davis
Editor: Jon Harris

Cast: Ben Barnes, Robert Deniro, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Henry Cavill, Mark Strong, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, Ian McKellan, Ricky Gervais

In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he’ll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm.


For the grand adventure that the film is. It lacks an epic feel or grandiose locations and sights. Half the time it feels like the surroundings are sets. The film does end up better then you’d imagine though.

The lead Ben Barnes seems to be miscast. He feels weak and in effect unbelievably when he eventually becomes heroic. Especially when all the supporting characters are much richer and entertaining than the lead. Who lacks charisma and never comes close to being dashing. Though they try to make him so. Maybe that was the intention to go against type but it ends up not working at all.

What I really appreciate about the film is it’s macabre sense of humor and a mean streak to go with all this fantasy. While keeping the film fu adds a general sense of danger rather than films like THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Which while funny feels almost childlike and storybook clean. Whereas this film is a storybook and fantasy fairytale but with a bit of an edge. so that the film plays more for teens and adults.

Words like cute and fun come to mind while watching the film. Though it’s not what I would expect a director like Matthew Vaughn to make especially after his debut film LAYER CAKE a gangster film. He went to make this a full-fledged fantasy adaptation which is a wise choice showing he has range. In his talents though so far all of his films are adaptations. He is showing a diverse resume as he hasn’t made a truly bad film yet. So he has shown his talent which I would expect as a former producer of Guy Ritchie films.

The film is a fun little fantasy that you can get lost into the universe of and enjoy yourself. Which is rare these days. At least without it seeming processed and set up to sell toys.

It’s better than I personally thought it would be. The world they live in is never clearly defined. We never get to know the characters some of whom just seem like ideas more than developed characters integral to the story, Almost like distractions to pad out the story and have us not realize how thin the main story is but letting us get caught up in the situations, though the film is quite likable. The film stays within the fantasy limits but also tries to come off as smarter or more winking to the audience then most films of it’s type.

Though disappointingly another fantasy world that lacks minorities. It’s not a huge point but one I’d like to note probably not entirely the filmmaker’s fault but more could try. Minorities are underrepresented or not represented in most Fantasy Sci-Fi leaving you to wonder are they afterthoughts or in these so-called fantasy worlds are they Aryan wonderlands. Sorry to go off on a rant just a point that needed to be expressed.

Terry Gilliam Also almost directed the film which is a perfect example of the right director with the right material, but after directing THE BROTHERS GRIMM he was wiped out creatively. This would have been actually better for him to make.

GRADE: B

NORBIT (2007)

norbit

Directed By: Brian Robbins
Written By: Eddie Murphy, Charles Murphy, Jay Scherick & David Ronn
Story By: Eddie Murphy & Charles Murphy
Cinematography By: Clark Mathis
Editor: Ned Bastille

CAST: Eddie Murphy, Thandie Newton, Cuba Gooding Jr, Terry Crews, Clifton Powell, Eddie Griffin, Katt Williams, Marlon Wayans, Michael Colyar, Kristen Schaal, Rob Huebel

Norbit is a normal person, who after being adopted by Mr. Wong, ends up being married to the very large, Rasputia. Norbit’s childhood love, Kate Thomas arrives back in town to buy the orphanage. Norbit sees this as his chance to get back together with Kate, until he discovers that she is in fact engaged to Deion Hughes. Norbit isn’t going to lay this to rest, whilst he tries to survive life with Rasputia, and it looks like Deion also has something he would like to keep secret.

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I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY (2007)

nowpronounce

Directed By: Dennis Dugan
Written By: Barry Fanaro, Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
Based on a screen Treatment By: Lew Gallo
Cinematography By: Dean Semler
Editor: Jeff Gourson 


Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Nicholas Turturro, Ving Rhames, Rob Schneider, Allen Covert Dan Aykroyd, Richard Chamberlin, Steve Buscemi, Blake Clark, Rachel Dratch, Nick Swardson, Mary Pat Gleason, Jamie Chung, Rob Coddry, Robert Smeigel, Richard Kline, Gary Valentine, Dave Matthews, Lance Bass, David Spade, Peter Dante, Jonathna Loughran 


Two straight, single Brooklyn firefighters pretend to be a gay couple in order to receive domestic partner benefits.

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SNOW ANGELS (2007)

snow-angels-trailer

Written & Directed By: David Gordon Green
Based On The Novel By: Stewart O’Nan
Cinematography By: Tim Orr

Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Thirlby, Amy Sedaris, Tom Noonan, Nicky Katt

On a cold afternoon, with snow on the ground, the high school band is practicing for the last football game. They hear shots. Flashback a few weeks before. Arthur is a high school student, bussing at a restaurant. Annie and Barb are waitresses there – Annie was Arthur’s babysitter when he was little. She’s now separated from her husband Glenn, who’s on the wagon, starting a new job, praying to Jesus, and trying to prove he has his balance back so he can see more of their small daughter, Tara. Annie’s seeing someone else, Arthur’s parents have just separated, and Arthur is attracted to Lila, a new student at the high school. It’s a small town, people’s lives cross.

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