THE BLIND SIDE (2009)

Written & Directed By: John Lee Hancock 
Based on the book “THE BLIND SIDE: EVOLUTION OF A GAME” By: Michael Lewis 
Cinematography: Alar Kivilo 
Editor: Mark Livolsi 

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Kathy Bates, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw, Kim Dickens, Lily Collins, Ray McKinnon, Irone Singleton, Omar J. Dorsey, Adriane Lenox

The story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All-American football player and first-round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.


I can’t help it. I am a sucker for a lot of tearjerkers. I know the emotional manipulation techniques they use. The emphasis on all the good things that are done.

This one is pretty standard except it also contains the tags to riches story, the orphan story, overcoming The odds, and helping lead the team to victory. In the wrong hands, this could have been just another faith-based movie 

The film is based On The true story of football player Michael Oher,

Now I am a Sandra Bullock fan for the most part and here she gives a strong performance in the less glamorized fresh prince of bel Air-like story.

The film is pretty basic and hits all the right familiar notes. Not too much you haven’t seen before. It’s good family entertainment and inspiration.

One of the problems one has with the movie is that there are scenes that have Michael bond with each individual member of the family alone throughout the film, even bonding with his teacher and tutor, but when it comes to the father in the family. He only bonds with him when the whole family is surrounded. Which seems more forced. It’s a nitpick but it bothered me and made me feel like the father went with the flow. But I didn’t necessarily want to adopt him.

The film also could have been a little fairer to Michael’s character by making him more of a character. Allowing him to show more emotions. Here he is played as the familiar screen type for African Americans. The gentle giant and while he might be in real life. I’m sure there is more to his character than What is presented on screen. Which is simple and all things to all people. The saintly black character helps all The Caucasian characters with their problems.

Especially when most of the African American characters shown in the film aren’t exactly positive characterizations. In fact, more than is needed are more villainous than anything. This is disturbing especially when it is not the same way when it comes to the Caucasian characters

I will give the film credit that it has an absence of real conflict. As everything seems to happen smoothly and successfully. Conflict only occurs towards the end and at that point, it feels more minor.

Maybe the reason it is left out is to show both the family and him coping with these strangers around the.

And how they go against the wishes of their friends to do what they feel is right.

It makes almost everyone come off as saintly. Which would be fine as a movie of the week or a Disney film. While I enjoy the film. I think there is a strong enough story to make a better film. All parties involved do their job.

Some Like Ms. Bullock go above and beyond. While not the most powerful of actresses, she is always a likable screen presence. A star can still disappear at times inside of a character. So it’s nice when she decides to stretch past the romantic comedies that are her forte and actually invest herself in a drama. Lightweight as it might be, but at least she tries and in this case succeeds.

Grade: C+

INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (2009)

Written & Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Cinematography By: Robert Richardson
Editor: Sally Menke

CAST: Brad Pitt, Melanie Laurent, Diane Kruger, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Bruhl, Eli Roth, Samm Levine, B.J. Novak, Paul Rust, Omar Doom, Til Schweiger, Michael Fassbender, Mike Myers, Michael Bacall, Rod Taylor, Jacky Ido, Julie Dreyfus


I am going to start off by saying this is not Tarantino’s best film. it is good but not his best. Then again it could just not be my favorite so far of his films.


It breaks him out a little paying attention a little more to history which of course he re-writes for his own purposes. The film shows that Tarantino is a man in love with dialogue and words particularly his own. Like DEATH PROOF there are tons of scenes of dialogue. The dialogue is great but he needs to learn to edit it down.

The film is long and unfortunately feels the same way. Having read the script I knew what I was getting into but still a few times the film managed to surprise me. Though I will warn you it is advertised as an espionage action-oriented war film but knowing Tarantino you should know it’s not exactly like that and almost half the film is in various foreign languages so there is a lot of subtitles. But if you are a true film fan you shouldn’t mind that. 

Many scenes feel too long but they are understandable as each scene seems to be Tarantino taking glee in having each scene begin innocently that as it goes on it slowly switches gears into a thriller with impending doom. Then towards the end, the tables turn and show that a certain character has been in control the whole time without letting any other person knowing it. 
 
Christoph Waltz steals the movie as a nazi, who is nicknamed the jew hunter his character is the best written and the actor has fun and truly inhabits the role with steely determination and certain happiness. His mastering and fluency of many languages and dialects is amazing. 

Brad Pitt seems to be having fun with his role but it delves into the more ridiculous aspects of the movie and seems more like a character than a real person. Which is the problem with the third act. The third act excites and speeds up the action that had been in the film before but feels more movie action than the real war film finale. 

Also considering you filmed in Europe with beautiful buildings interesting locales and beautiful nature you would figure a filmmaker with an eye would use these locations to their fullest. But just as Tarantino has a talent with dialogue and an eye for visuals. He has always seemed a perfect Indie director as he makes his scenes and camerawork feel claustrophobic. This is a tale that needed to be more open it looks like it was shot on a set or soundstage instead of on location in Europe.
 
 I also wish the Basterds had more time to prove themselves and let us get to know them I know his original ideas were much longer so it feels almost like this is a condensed version. 

not that impressed by Melanie Laurent she didn’t do anything wrong but she didn’t impress or engage me either and the less said about Director Eli Roth the better it seemed like a natural fit of a character for him but he goes for a ridiculous accent and is way too over the top. He also directed the film within a film NATION’S PRIDE. 

 I guess I feel the movie had a great bunch of elements and memorable scenes but they don’t merge to make a great movie. This is a mild disappointment. 

It is in the Tarantino mold of KILL BILL VOL. 2 AND DEATH PROOF where it is tons of dialogue and a few scenes of extreme shocking violence and action mixed in to keep the audience awake and interested in what is happening. Almost like a gift or payoff for sitting through the previous scenes. Trust me it still isn’t a film that will be easily forgotten. 

 Plus I wonder if the reason for the last line in the film “This may be my masterpiece” is what Quentin Tarantino really believes about this film. 
 Now don’t get me wrong I respect Tarantino and get excited when he has a new film out. He is one of my favorite Auteurs, it’s just I hold him to a certain high standard that this one approaches but doesn’t quite rise to that level. 

It is a movie best seen on the big screen but you could wait for home video 

 GRADE: B

THE INFORMANT! (2009)

Directed By: Steven Soderbergh 
Written By: Scott Z. Burns 
Based on the book by: Kurt Eichenwald 
Cinematography By: Steven Soderbergh (As Peter Andrews) 
Editor: Stephen Mirrione 

Cast: Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale, Clancy Brown, Tony Hale, Ann Dowd, Rusty Schwimmer, Eddie Jemison, Tom Papa, Rick Overton, Thomas F. Wilson, Scott Adsit, Andrew Daly, Ann Cisack, Patton Oswalt, Tom Smothers, Paul F. Tompkins, Candy Clark

Mark Whitacre has worked for the lysine developing company ADM for many years and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake – being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he’s a true secret agent. But as his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him.


Based on a true story. This seems like the perfect set-up for a comedy a rather dry one. 

The film starts off a little haphazard at first laying it’s groundwork. That at first is confusing, but you get the full picture as the film goes on. The first half of the film also feels a little pretentious as it seems to feel it’s the smartest kid in the room and has jokes and humor that seems to be inside and to itself, but the film becomes more interesting and compelling as the film goes on. 

Though there are many good actors in the film their roles are so small they never get a chance to shine. Quite a few stand-up comedians in the cast. I believe more in their improv skills and ability to punch up the lines to have a humorous stance, but most of them play straight and deadpan whereas the dramatic actors are playing more comedic roles. Which I believe is another cinematic experiment by director Steven Soderbergh to subvert genre rules and play with the material. 

The film is practically a one-man show for Matt Damon who gained weight for the role. Already a great actor. He is certainly having fun here while portraying a three-dimensional real character. 

It’s always nice to see Scott Bakula on screen as a character actor. Who always seems to pop up in the odd film. Who I always feel should work more though it maybe my hero-worship of him from the Tv Show QUANTUM LEAP. 

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to Mr. Soderbergh and his movies. I applaud his filmmaking skills and the fact that he brings more experimental techniques and direction to mainstream films. The problem is that at times it generally distracts and makes you pay more attention to it. Then the actual story that is onscreen can work if it’s a story you’ve seen many times (ERIN BROCKOVICH) before or the films. Theme and plot are thin or more of a character study, but if it’s a straightforward film it can be a bit much. I respect and honor him for it, but at times it feels a bit much. 

What works here is that in his head Matt Damon’s character is playing this espionage mission and is a hero and has convinced himself that he is the innocent hero and his employers are the villains when in actuality he is the villain, yet see’s himself as a double agent and is able to convince others of this. Only it’s not an exciting action-packed cat and mouse situation, but the most mundane and boring business double-dealing. It’s a nice an interesting contrast considering we have seen Damon actually play a character in life or death Espionage action films in The Bourne Trilogy 

In an NPR radio interview, Matt Damon said that Steven Soderbergh, to get Mark Whitacre’s final apology to the judge just right, directed Damon to perform the lines as if he were accepting an Academy Award. (Damon said it was an example of “perfect direction”.) 

The mood of the film comes off as a timely classic period piece though it is thoroughly modern. Steven Soderbergh makes films full of ideas that might not always work for general audiences, but at least he is trying you get a general sense of excitement behind his films as he is actually thinking far ahead while in the moment. This doesn’t make for the fastest most exciting moments while watching the films. Once you are finished watching the film though it does leave you to think more about what you have seen. it stays with you a bit longer. You just don’t dismiss and forget. It’s not exactly disposable. That is what a true artist as a director brings to the screen. 

The film purposely styles itself like a classic 70’sfilms in tone and mood. Even its titles and score by Marvin Hamlisch. This also leans it more towards the Pretentious style or maybe I am being a bit harsh and it’s more a homage. 

I realize that at times Soderbergh more goes for the documentary-style where he seems like he is filming as it really happens. I give more kudos to the cast for never breaking and making the mundane of the character believable. 

The film starts off as a guy who tells a lie to get out of trouble and the lie just snowballs bigger and bigger leading to a bunch of lies and when he finally gets caught. He tries to lie and deal his way out. The thing is as he is lying at times he even seems to believe the lies but ends up destroying many lives for nothing while still feeling and portraying the victim as not understanding or refusing to see why people are mad at him. 

I believe his character appears to want to be the rebel because he believes he is always being slighted but wanting to be popular also and believing he is the smartest guy in the room. 

GRADE: C+

FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009)


DIRECTED BY: Marcus Nispel
Written By: Damian Shannon & Mark Swift;
Story By: Damian Shannon & Mark Swift & Mark Wheaton
Based On Characters By: Victor Miller
Cinematography By: Daniel C. Pearl
Editor: Ken Blackwell

CAST: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda
Righetti, Aaron Yoo, Derek Mears, Travin Van Winkle, Willa Ford, America Olivio

A group of young adults visits a boarded-up campsite named Crystal Lake where they soon encounter the mysterious Jason Voorhees and his deadly intentions.


The film tries to add some infamous scenes from the previous movies. The ending of part one with the death of Mrs. Voorhies is remade and is the opening minutes of the film. It has all the hallmarks weed, Sex, Nudity. Used to a degree but not as much as the original films. Though used more than most recent horror films. Which feels like a nod of nostalgia but under more modern terms.

It also shows the film Trying to use a less predictable nature that doesn’t work as this film is still predictable.

The Film is so bombastic with the score with every action there is no real surprise you always know what’s going to happen. It gets so predictable. Everything in the film happens matter of factly. There is no suspense leading to the killing. No foreplay just gory violence. The more violent the better no real thought seems to go into it. 

The film also comes up with interesting ideas but quickly drops them like the fact Jason knows where his victims are due to a bell system set up underground that is tied to various objects on the surface to let him know the location of people. Plus elaborate traps and various weapons. For a guy livening in the woods off the land he sure did get big and talented sort of like Michael Myers in the remake of HALLOWEEN how? 

The victims are characters who have no character. I Didn’t like them or feel sorry for them as they were dispatched. That, unfortunately, seems to be a new trend that makes the characters like cattle so the audience doesn’t care, we just wait and root for their demise like a bull at a matador show. Half the time you want to see the victims die. 

They are so unlikeable like the 2 minority characters only seem to be here to play out stereotypes. They get no female attention yet are horny and seemingly the only drug craving characters. In fact, the black guy only seems to be around to add to the body count and say “oh it’s because I’m black” a bunch of times. It made me feel like this Is one of the times I would be happy for the black guy to die first. Get him out of this embarrassing role and movie, but I wouldn’t expect any less from a Michael Bay product. 

Which always seems to be more about visuals and less about the concept, And of course one of the last victims has to be the biggest idiot and asshole to have the anticipation be worth it and while their death is brutal it is not as glorious as one would hope.

 
 It would have been an interesting twist if Jason kept some of the bodies for food and recreation or trophies. It would help explain the part of the film where he kidnaps a girl and keeps her how does she stay alive over time food and water-wise?  The director Marcus Nispel Seems determined to direct every Re-boot of horror series (He Previously directed the remake of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE) being that he is a former video director, it seems he is used to telling a story strictly through visuals and less with dialogue which may explain the style on display in this film as the script has many problems but luscious visuals when you can see them. 

This brings up another problem. It also doesn’t help that the film is so saturated with darkness it makes many scenes hard to see. The best and most entertaining scene In the whole movie was the sex scene at the house. 

This makes me think Marcus Nispel may have a career in making horror porn or should switch to erotic thrillers instead of horror 

GRADE: D+

THE LOVED ONES (2009)

Written & Directed By: Sean Byrne 
Cinematography By: Simon Chapman 
Editor: Andy Canny  

Cast: Robin McLeavy, Xavier Daniel, Jessica McNamee, Victoria Thaine, Richard Wilson, John Brumpton 

In order to avoid a ghostly figure in the road, high school senior Brent Mitchell wraps his car around a tree, killing his father. Constantly confronted by his mother’s emotional collapse after the accident, Brent escapes into a marijuana-fueled world of loud metal music to block the pain and guilt. Dejected and out of sorts, he has a shot at happiness with his girlfriend Holly, a grounded, caring girl with drop-dead good looks, a dream date for the high school prom. But his plans are thwarted by a disturbing series of events that take place under a mirrored disco ball, involving pink satin, glitter, syringes, nails, power drills, and a secret admirer. Brent has become the prom king at a macabre, sadistic event where he is the entertainment.



I have been waiting a while for this film. I have read up all on it and have been excited to finally have gotten a chance to watch it. After reading mostly glowing reviews and have to say. It wasn’t what was expected and didn’t match up to my expectations. it Blew way past them. I figured this film would be inventive but over the top crazy violence.

While the film takes well-known cliches and expectations and constantly twists them. So that you are always on your toes as it stays unpredictable. Don’t get me wrong there is violence and some nudity. Yet it is never gratuitous nor exploitive. The film sets up Story, Characters, Mood, Tension, Atmosphere truly effective necessities to make a truly unique and fitting horror film. Where no one nor is anything disposable it all means something.

I was amazed as the film proceeded how the film ties everything together in a nice bow. Each event has consequences that affect the characters and their lives. Especially Psychologically.

Robin McLeavy gives a star-turning performance. That is memorable As the main tormentor.

This film feels like a trip into a nightmare deranged wonderland. The mood set by the film is horror at first but then becomes more darkly comedic and goofy. Then around the midway point, it raises the stakes and it becomes more serious and violent.

That is when the film truly becomes scary. It reminded me of what I thought Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF A THOUSAND corpses would be after seeing the first preview. Where it looked crazy and unpredictable.

Watching the film though it uses small remote locations for the most part. The house that is the main setting is sort of like its own simple funhouse. As the film goes on it keeps raising the stakes and rearranging itself. So it keeps you off balance. 

SPOILER

Enjoyed like the fact that the film doesn’t just present Princess as just usually getting what she wants and this kidnapping is a one-off thing, That she has been mentally pushed to and her father just wanting to give his little girl whatever she wants, but that she and her father are pretty much sociopathic serial killers. With a hinted at Incestuous relationship that so far has yet to be Consummated. I also like the reveal to hint what exactly is wrong with his friend’s prom date.

SPOILER END 

 This is a true original that deserves not only to be seen and discovered as it feels like the type of film you discover on a whim searching for something to watch for the evening. It would be nice if Horror films like these were the type to actually reach cinemas instead of films like CHERNOBYL DIARIES, THE DEVIL INSIDE, Another SAW sequel. Which pollute our cinemas every few weeks, Which feel disposable and unoriginal as they seem to follow the same formula and feel like an extension of a fad. 

This is a film that reeks of skill and passion that went into it. The filmmaker is here to tell a story and illustrate it with visuals, Characters, and dialogue. He achieves that and actually gets reactions and emotions out of the audience. 
Paramount studios were supposed to release it into theaters wide But seemed to try it in a few test markets and speedily dumped it on DVD. It doesn’t realize what a gem it has in its hands and is mishandling it. 

 I look forward to the future works of Director Sean Byrne and the cast. This is a film that is a secret for now but do yourself a favor see it and tell your friends about it. So it can achieve the respect and audience it deserves. 

 GRADE: B+

ARMORED (2009)

Directed By: Nimrod Antal
Written By: James V. Simpson
Cinematography By: Andrzej Sekula
Editor: Armen Minasian
 
Cast: Columbus Short, Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Skeet Ulrich, Fred Ward, Jean Reno, Milo Ventimiglia, Lorna Raver, Amaury Nolasco 


The war veteran, Ty Hackett, is hired to work as security guard by the Eagle Shield Security where his old friend Mike Cochroone works. Ty is having financial difficulties after the death of his father, and is raising his brother Jimmy alone. He teams up with Mike’s brother-in-law, Baines, and their coworkers Quinn, Palmer and Dobbs. One night, Mike invites Ty to join in the robbery of two armored trucks transporting forty-two million dollars. The reluctant Ty accepts after Mike promises that nobody would be hurt in the heist. 



The directing by Nimrod Antal is solid that is one of the few good things I can say about this film. The story plays out more like action oriented theater. It has limited locations and most of the film takes place at a single one.


The action feels only necessary to dispatch characters and fill out the story. It helps the audience to feel more intense moments. The film feels more like it would play better in the 80’s or 90’s. with less dramatic cast.


Don’t get me wrong Matt Dillon and Laurence fishburne are good (Though Laurence Fishburne is often given to overacting in the film) This feels like a film Mr. Fishburne probably would have starred in, in his youth. Considering the cast involved this film should be much better then it is. They aren’t really given that much in the form of dimensions for characters.


It’s a shame that this is one of those High concept plotted films that could make a interesting big screen film, but feels like a b movie potboiler that is more at home making it’s premiere straight to dvd and/or Cable. The big names Deserve better roles then they have here and the up and comers. Who work out in the leads but shouldn’t be playing stock characters so early in their careers.

I wish we could have seen this cast in the film TAKERS and the cast of takers in this film instead as this film isn’t exactly rich with ideas or situations. This film has only one female speaking role. So this is more of a man’s only film.

The script could have been a lot better. If you are going to limit the action there should be more great dialogue and story or something or somebody to focus on. To take us out of the claustrophobic atmosphere by being interesting. Or add story to make this situation more intense and make the audience feel it.

Maybe tighten the claustrophobic atmosphere so they each must act in their own interests faster. Maybe make the character older so that these are his friend more or less that turn on him. Instead of just being the new guy in need of money and a steady job.

GRADE: D+

I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER (2009)

Directed By: Chris Columbus 
Written By: Larry Doyle (Based Upon his novel)
Cinematography: Phil Abraham
Editor: Peter Honess

Cast: Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rust, Jack Carpenter, Lauren London, Lauren Storm, Shawn Roberts, Jared Kesso, Brendan Penny, Alan Ruck, Pat Finn, Andrea Savage, Samm Levine 

A nerdy valedictorian proclaims his love for Beth Cooper–the hottest, most popular girl in school–during his graduation speech. That very night, she shows up at his door offering to show him the best night of his life.


I really loved the book this film is based on as it truly felt like a zany romantic comedy. While Playing in the expectations of a 1980’s style teen comedy. Yet had heart and twisted those expectations for the better. Still remaining identifiable and had just the right amount of Comedy, love, sex, and romance with a downbeat yet realistic ending.

I believe I feel so sharply and savagely about the film that it is my favorite coming-of-age romantic comedy and comes from a long line of films about getting to know your dream girl cinema. Where usually she never measures up to your expectations and the cute girl who was your friend is truly the one you were looking for or she Falls in love with you and you end up happily ever after. But this story also reminds us we have been there. When a crush is so overpowering that you fall For the idea of someone and not the actual person. 

Maybe I am taking the failure of quality when it comes to this film a little personally. Considering how much of a fan I was of the book. This was the film that made me really become worried when a book adaptation was made of a book I enjoyed. Even when it seemed like it was in capable hands. 

This coming from a man who read THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES novel adaptation before the movie, because the movie kept being sold out in its first week of release. While I eventually Loved the movie the adaptation for me was so much better and rich 

Not only was this film a big disappointment compared to the book. It would be even if you haven’t read the book. 

What was worse is how far it felt like Chris Columbus had fallen either not getting the material or being that far removed from it that he tried so hard with something he doesn’t seem to understand by making it far too general. What might have once been special feels generic. Maybe he was burned out from the HARRY POTTER films he helped produce and decided to Ames this project too quickly as the return to directing or was playing by 1980’s MTV teen movie rules in a more modern age and no one updated him about cultural and stylish change.

Is that this movie was made by writer/director Chris Columbus who is talented and is behind many teen and children’s movies before such as directing some and producing the Harry Potter series of films. Here he seems to have lost his touch or showing his age. As he would seem Like a Perfect choice for the material especially after returning to directing after a brief absence. Here he seems out of place.

Not to mention though the cast is likable they most ultimately feel miscast and instead of playing characters. Play more character types or fill in’s who never get to have a real personality.

The film is a mess as lead Paul Rust who fits the nerdy look but is so obviously too old to play the role. Which makes him look more like a child molester than a romantic leading man. 

The casting of Hayden Panettiere as the female lead is understandable. As she was a hot commodity at the time on a hit show. So this was her stab at being a big-screen movie star. She is good as the lead. As she is plucky yet she is supposed to be so memorable and her character isn’t. Especially not for the lead to go through all this trouble. As they live in a small town and while she is cute. Never see the World Class beauty she supposedly has. She comes across more as temptation or a more Willing femme fatale. 

Her friends in the film don’t exactly help. Casting Lauren London who could have played the lead more convincingly. As she has more a

World-class beauty and here is relegated to second fiddle with little to do or add to the story. Along with Lauren Storm, who is Just thick, and his best friend who gets the fantasy sex scene to become A Reality. Though comes off lame. 

Just like the casting of Hayden Panettiere the film tries too hard to fit in and be all things to all people and instead makes itself unhip and show that this is an older crowd either trying to influence youth or trying to fit in. 

The story is about expectations versus reality. The movie comes off more like a zany comedy where nothing feels honest or direct. It has a harsh ending where reality sets in. In the book, it feels more cruel yet just fine. Making home realize he has to put away childish things on the path to adulthood.

In the film, she seems just dropped and feels like an ending of hope while also getting a version of what he wants. Though lacking a kissing scene as if they did. It might look like a promotion of pedophilia. 

One aspect that is truly surprising other than the casting. Whereas every character doesn’t Look like a model so it does feel and look more like regular small-town folks. 

The film looks washed out. Like they are trying to make the Midwest surroundings dull. So you can see why some can’t wait to escape this town and for some, it’s a forever 

The worst crime the film makes is that it took a book of some merit and made it look generic. The lowly inspired teen film made by people too old and trying too hard to be down. Who ends up faking the funk.

Not all Of this falls on Columbus’ shoulders as the novel’s writer did own the screenplay also. If this was made today it feels like it would have been a limited series. 

Grade: F

CHLOE (2009)

Directed By: Atom Egoyan 
Written By: Erica Cressida Wilson 
Based on The Original Screenplay NATHALIE By: Anne Fontaine 
Cinematography By: Paul Sarossy 
Editor: Susan Shipton 
 
Cast: Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Max Thierot, Nina Dobrev

Catherine and David, she a doctor, he a professor, are at first glance the perfect couple. Happily married with a talented teenage son, they appear to have an idyllic life. But when David misses a flight and his surprise birthday party, Catherine’s long simmering suspicions rise to the surface. Suspecting infidelity, she decides to hire an escort to seduce her husband and test his loyalty. Catherine finds herself ‘directing’ Chloe’s encounters with David, and Chloe’s end of the bargain is to report back, the descriptions becoming increasingly graphic as the meetings multiply.


An emotional thriller, That comes off more like melodrama. The film is supposed to be erotic at times but always felt cold to the touch. All the time there never seems to be any passion or warmth between family and marriages, Not even in the love scenes. This is a constant problem. Not only in this film but a consistent one when it comes to the films of Atom Egoyan that I have seen.

He definitely has talent as a director. Though this is not the right project for him. He still in my opinion hasn’t found the right project to explore it. Not since EXOTICA at least. Even when it comes to his other films THE SWEET HEREAFTER. It’s more the story and material that I am impressed with than the direction. Julianne Moore gives a good tightly wound performance, It really is her movie.

The film after a certain point gets more and more ridiculous and becomes less an arty drama than another genre exercise altogether. Though the film does have a certain style. As well as a overwrought colorful palette of white in the backgrounds. Surprisingly this film was produced by Ivan Reitman. 

I know this is a remake of a French film. For some odd reason, this film gets lost in translation as the film has the right looks and visuals, but feels wrong or that is all flying on all the wrong cylinders. The home life of the central family of characters feels too liberal and too distant. The film falls apart since it is ill-fitting. While the story feels plausible and believable. The scene where it’s all explained just sounds ridiculous. Strangely it feels more like a chick flick. Then anything else with a little eroticism thrown in. 

The eroticism hangs like a cloud through the whole film though there is sensuality in parts yet lacks sex and skin on display. I think your enjoyment of the film will be measured by your attraction to Amanda Seyfried. 

Amanda Seyfried is sexy and a good enough actress, but it feels more like she is playing dress-up. She plays what she thinks is sexy or at least what she thinks sexy is. Without really knowing what is actually sexy, Erotic, or sensual.  The ending feels too theatrical. 

 Screenwriter Erica Cressida Wilson seems to usually write the screenplays for these types of films. Sexually Explicit but emotionally restricted characters bubbling under the surface with passion. She writes usually complex female character dramas with Projects like FUR and SECRETARY.  

Wait for Cable.   

GRADE: C-

SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009)

Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Written By: Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham & Simon Kinberg
Story By: Michael Robert Johnson & Lionel Wigram
Cinematography By: Phillipe Rousselot
Editor: James Herbert

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, James Fox

In London, Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. John Watson captures the follower of black magic and serial killer Lord Blackwood that has already killed five women when he is near to kill his sixth victim. Blackwood is sentenced to be strung up and Dr. Watson attests his death. However, Blackwood mysteriously returns from the afterlife and Inspector Lestrade summons Sherlock Holmes to help the Scotland Yard in the investigation. Meanwhile Dr. Watson intends to get married of the gorgeous Mary Morstan while Sherlock is visited by his former lover Irene Adler that has a secret agenda.




 I should have liked this film, but the film is too big, too many action set pieces, Too many explosions. Not enough Mystery. It’s like everything has to be bigger and better like it’s some kind of sequel or Michael Bay movie with better style and some sensibility.

It’s not good enough for Sherlock Holmes to be a good detective but must also be tough by doing bare-knuckle fighting, being a master of disguise, and always having a weapon handy. Like a victorian era super spy.

Once in a while, we get to see how Holmes’ mind works with deductive thinking. While having a semi homoerotic relationship with Dr. Watson, Who he is jealous of because he is not only moving out of the house they share but also getting married. The case they try to crack involves a woman from Holmes past who is lively and almost as cunning as he is and at first the case seems based on the supernatural. Than along the way becomes more logical.

The chemistry between Downey Jr. and Jude Law seems false and more manufactured than it should and makes you wonder if Jude Law was insulted as being the natural-born brit and having to play the sidekick to the American actor taking over a notorious British character.

The film isn’t horrible and it’s nice to see what director Guy Ritchie can do with a sizeable budget, but as I said before everything feels overblown and like it goes out of its way to keep reminding you this is the NEW Sherlock Holmes.

The leads are both charming and mark Strong is a good villain and the film’s more interesting scenes are when he is on the screen or exploring his character and it’s a conspiracy.

While the film is a good popcorn film afterward you start to feel the fat and the grease and wonder why this movie really needed to be made. Again it’s not horrible it’s not bad either. It’s ok and has some things going for it, but the end feels unnecessary and unremarkable. It keeps your attention as any time the film seems to begin to slow down another action sequence pops up. Not always for a good reason, But for the most part everyone involved seems to be having fun.

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GRADE: C

THE SOLOIST (2009)

Directed By: Joe Wright
Written By: Susannah Grant
Based On The Book By: Steve Lopez
Cinematography By: Seamus McGarvey
Editor: Paul Tothill

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Catherine Keener, Stephen Root, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Rachael Harris, Tom Hollander

In 2005, the only thing hurting Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez more than his face from a recent bike accident was his pressing need for story ideas. That is when he discovers Nathaniel Ayers, a mentally ill, homeless street musician who possesses extraordinary talent, even through his half-broken instruments. Inspired by his story, Lopez writes an acclaimed series of articles about Ayers and attempts to do more to help both him and the rest of the underclass of LA have a better life. However, Lopez’s good intentions run headlong in the hard realities of the strength of Ayers’ personal demons and the larger social injustices facing the homeless. Regardless, Lopez and Ayers must find a way to conquer their deepest anxieties and frustrations to hope for a brighter future for both of them.


The film is perfectly fine entertainment of a film that really doesn’t have a plot. Sure it’s a fascinating fact-based story that may have been better explored as a documentary or maybe even better reading about it, but the film leaves a lot to be desired as not much really happens. Except that it makes the main character feel better by discovering and trying to help a talented homeless schizophrenic. Which is pretty much the plot of the film.

Everyone does a perfectly serviceable performance. I really like Robert Downey Jr’s look. Jamie Foxx’s performance doesn’t really hit as hard. As it seems like his intention sure he is a spot-on mimic, but the performance seems exactly like that an act or impersonation in it’s not really ground in any sort of reality though it is based on a true story.

The film feels empty with no heart which is how the film feels. It tries to get you emotional in many scenes but fails to do so. The film plays like a contemporary movie that seems only made to try and be Oscar bait and a crowd-pleaser. Like the film THE BLIND SIDE only the latter seemed to know how to appeal to the masses this film seems more directed at a more artsy audience. That is why it feels so basic with artistic touches and indulgence.

Other than the two main characters we really never get to know any characters. This is especially daunting as the film has an established supporting cast. So we never get to know the past of the main characters as far as what they tell us. Like we know Steve, as played as Downey Jr., has demons but we only get hints at it. But in the film, we are supposed to believe he faces his own to help another person but other than having serious looks on his face and seeming vulnerable we never know exactly what he has to overcome.

The film also introduces a character who insists that Jamie Foxx’s Character needs to find god and religion, but the first time he suggests it he goes ape-shit. So when right before a recital he tries the same plan again it’s hardly surprising that he messes him up. If this was a traditional film he would be seen as a villain but here he is a normal supposedly intelligent side character.

I can see why this was held over for a few months. When it was thought at first to be Oscar bait then the studio watched the film and realized what a dud they had on their hands and held it for an anonymous release, that would be the best to just make a quick buck on the film.

The film just seems like it is desperate to pat itself on the back especially by including actual homeless people as characters and extras. That it feels false and like a waste of time.

I just hope Joe Wright picks better material for his next film to show off his talent rather than waste it on drivel like this that requires more of a workman-like director with not as much creativity.

GRADE: D+