DAYDREAM NATION (2010)

Written & Directed By: Michael Goldbach 
Cinematography By: Jon Joffin 
Editor: Jamie Alain 


Cast: Kat Dennings, Reece Thompson, Andie McDowell, Josh Lucas, Rachel Blanchard, Katie Boland


Big city girl Caroline is new to a small town, she disregards her high school classmates, and then just for kicks starts a sexual relationship with her teacher, Mr. A. Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer roaming the town, an industrial fire burning on the outskirts, and Thurston is mourning the loss of his best friend. As Thurston falls in love with Caroline, realities quickly catch up to all characters, and they are all going to have to mature or face the consequences.


While this film didn’t love up to the tone that the trailer sets. I still found much to admire in the film.

The film’s mood is a mixed reality for the most part as some scenes feel like we are in a dreamland. The occasional surreal visuals help set that up throughout the film.

At times the film feels a little over the top filled with a ridiculous serial killer side story. That seems to only be there so there can be some kind of structured plot. Instead of having the story be Random. It also sets up to give teenage angst in this film a feeling of true nihilism because literally today could be their last.

It also leaves it to the audience to examine the characters more closely. Maybe their quirks are hiding some real serious mental problem, leaving their behavior as an obvious red flag.

The title comes from the music group Sonic Youth’s classic album. There are numerous nods to the group throughout the film. One Is that One of the leads played by Reece Thompson is names after the music group’s leader Thurston Moore. Like a Sonic Youth album, there are moments of great beauty. While the characters try to have a hardcore edge. They are broke. Like many of the chords the group plays. The only thing missing is the group’s music. It would have been cool if they scored the film, though the soundtrack isn’t bad. Especially its use of the band STARS music throughout the film. They are a Canadian band and this film was obviously made in Canada. Though at least they use the song KOOL THING by Sonic Youth

One of the film’s strengths is the lead Kat Dennings who totally owns this film. She has an off-kilter sexiness. Like Rose McGowan, but with a sharper wit to go along with her looks. She has a classic look as well as being voluptuous. How she wasn’t cast in the lead for the film EASY A. I’ll never know as it seemed to be a role tailor-made for her. Though Emma stone did a good job.

Here her character has a hard shell, but a vulnerable side she only seems to show the audience a she is the narrator.

I like Josh Lucas as an actor, but here he seems wasted playing more of a wounded caricature. Then rather a character. He deserves better as he seems a major actor stick in a supporting role. His character seems to just make no sense, even after learning his back story.

I enjoyed the film’s chapter stops to fully explain situations with a little more insight.

The film at times can be a bit pretentious and hazy as to who is it all for, but it kept up my interest and left me impressed. The film certainly isn’t for everyone. It feels like a PG-13 version of TWIN PEAKS mixed with a sardonic teen movie. Made by David Lynch only not in control of his skills.

A good rental

 Grade: B-

RABBIT HOLE (2010)

Directed By: John Cameron Mitchell
Written By: David Lindsey-Abaire
Cinematography By: Frank G. Demarco
Editor: Joe Klotz

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Sandra Oh, Diane Wiest, Giancarlo Esposito, Tammy Blanchard, Jon Tenney

The film deals with a couple whose young son was killed in a car accident. They go to group therapy with other parents who had the same thing happen to them. Throughout the film, we see how they deal with the aftermath with family, friends and themselves.

There is nothing really wrong with the film. The actors are all superb and subdued. The film feels somewhat realistic the film presents a certain cool and cold atmosphere that matches the character’s emotional state and outlook on the world.

The film has artistic touches and looks beautiful but at it’s heart, it feels small and more theatrical like it’s origins then natural though it is opened up more location wise to make the story more visual.

I give a lot of respect to it’s director John Cameron Mitchell who shows a wide range from his previous film the wild and campy HEDWIG & THE ANGRY INCH and the shocking yet dramatic SHORTBUS. Here he goes the more reserved route with this effort yet still has heart and an artistic truthfulness.

Shockingly, I was more impressed by Aaron Eckhardt’s performance. Then Nicole Kidman’s. Maybe because we’ve seen her play this type of role before, So it’s not too big a revelation that she was good in the role. I am usually impressed by Mr. Eckhardt but he makes his character fully realized but all in all a loving husband. It’s no surprise she handpicked him for the role.

The film doesn’t contain any real surprises. It actually feels basic while talking about a shocking subject, Maybe I just expected it to be as good it was and that’s exactly what It gives.

The film feels like a project than something passionate to the people who made it. So I’m not really surprised or too impressed as it achieved exactly what it set out to and what I expected from it. I would suggest it but don’t expect to be knocked out by it.

The film comes off more as a independent prestiege film. It’s serviceable. Good but not great.

GRADE: B-

THE EXPENDABLES (2010)

Directed By: Sylvester Stallone
Written By: Dave Gallaham & Sylvester Stallone
Cinematography By: Jeffrey L. Kimball
Editor: Ken Blackwell & Paula Harb

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Charisma Carpenter, Terry Crews, Eric Roberts, Jet Li, Dolph Lungdren, Mickey Rourke, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwartzenegger, David Zayas, Gary Daniels 

Barney Ross leads the “Expendables”, a band of highly skilled mercenaries including knife enthusiast Lee Christmas, martial arts expert Yin Yang, heavy weapons specialist Hale Caesar, demolitionist Toll Road and loose-cannon sniper Gunner Jensen. When the group is commissioned by the mysterious Mr. Church to assassinate the merciless dictator of a small South American island, Barney and Lee head to the remote locale to scout out their opposition. Once there, they meet with local rebel Sandra and discover the true nature of the conflict engulfing the city. When they escape the island and Sandra stays behind, Ross must choose to either walk away and save his own life – or attempt a suicidal rescue mission that might just save his soul.


It is hard to believe that Sylvester Stallone has been not only a star but a box office draw and #1 film superstar over 5 decades. Which makes me respect him for his longevity alone. It is hard to believe and remember that when he first became a star with ROCKY which he also wrote, he was considered a serious dramatic actor compared on the same level as Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino. Now he didn’t really become an action superstar until FIRST BLOOD and has pretty much ran with it ever since.

The 90’s weren’t great for him as he followed that path into the ground with horrible studio action films and comedies that tarnished his record. After many diminishing returns, he decided to branch out again by appearing in indie films and taking a dramatic lead which did show he still could act but it wasn’t the career resurgence he expected like John Travolta at the time so it was only awhile until he returned to the genre he knew best but this time he was more informed and began to return to his iconic roles only this time with him writing and producing the films and as other laughed at him for these decisions it actually proved to be a smart move as the audiences were intrigued and both ROCKY BALBOA and RAMBO were box office hits and surprisingly decent films.

So of course for his first original film since making those films he puts together a all-star cast of action heroes and ex-costars for this film about a group of mercenaries who take on secret covert missions. They decide to take on an unwinnable one to help a land that has been taken over by an ex-cia agent in cahoots with the dictator of the land who is growing drugs to sell but in effect robbing the land and its people of there freedom. So of course Sylvert Stallone and crew take on the mission.

The film is a perfect throwback to 80’s action film with generic Villians and plot, But in it’s own way it is action campy as each of the cast gets a scene to shine. Jason Statham one of the real major co-stars gets a simple side story that is really only there to show off his romantic side and his ass-kicking skills. Nothing in the film makes anyone stretch as an actor. Jet-Li is mostly here to fight Dolph Lundgren in fight scenes.

The rest of the expendables are mostly there in small roles or extended cameos rather than being vital characters. Even early in the film Stallone and Statham go on a mission to check out the land alone and pretty much kick a lot of ass on their own. Only later do they come back with reinforcements.

The only actor who really makes a mark with their role is surprisingly Dolph Lundgren in a role that was rumored to be for Jean-Claude van Damme who turned it down. The action scenes are glorious but nothing special except for the grand scale of them.

There is nothing in the film you wouldn’t expect in this type of film. It falls short in many ways when it comes to my expectations. I was hoping for more surprises. For a top action spectacle. But as an action film that is a homage to the films that made Stallone an 80’s star, it is ok and enjoyable.

The perfect kind of Popcorn movie. It also is missing a lot of Action legends it supposedly is supposed to have Chuck Norris, Steven Segal, The Rock, Jean Claude Van-Damme, Chow Yun Fat, he could have even thrown a bone to some straight to home video action stars for bit roles, Michael Dudikoff, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Thomas Ian Giffith, and Danny Trejo.

Even as more of a guilty pleasure, The film is a satisfying rental

GRADE: C+

DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS (2010)

Directed By: Jay Roach
Written by: David Guion & Michael Handelman
Based on the original screenplay “Le Diner De Cons” by: Francis Veber 
Cinematography: Jim Debault 
Editor: Alan Baumgarten & Jon Poll

Cast: Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifinakis, Jemaine Clement, Bruce Greenwood, Larry Wilmore, Andrea Savage, Lucy Punch, David Williams, Stephane Szostak, Ron Livingston, Kristen Schawlow, Nick Kroll, Randall Park, Chris O’Dowd, Jeff Dunham, Octavia Spencer, Rick Overton 

When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he’s invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest.


While I quite enjoyed the french original it was smaller scale and crueler. Limited in its locations and hijinks. 

As Well the lead was less likable and by the end, all that happens seemed more like a well-deserved comeuppance. Though after a while you Could feel his pain

This American remake is opened up more to allow more characters and situations. That makes the film feel more Bloated than it needs to be.

The film has a talented comedic cast, who all seem to go over the top and try way too hard to make the material work when not needed and steal the movie. It doesn’t feel so much as fun and entertaining. With each trying to top one another in a game of one up man ship that it feels grand in its upper-crust air. Though proves that some bits and pieces are good enough. Which is a shame because the cast is pretty solid. 

Steve Carrell feels too familiar with this role in THE OFFICE of being innocently annoying and stupid more silly here and bigger. While He is one of the stars he keeps getting scenes stolen from him by co-Stars.

Steve Carell does what he is supposed to do and can be a chameleon usually in roles you would never believe he would be cast in, but here he never quite makes a mark to pass into an original or a classic. 

The film certainly lacks any subtlety. The film still wants the main stars to be likable. So the film opens up the story for more hijinks. As well as padding out the cast and a third act showdown. Whereas the original could have been a theatrical stage piece.

One can give credit for opening up the Story but each new location most feels like a set up where you know things are going to go wrong. 

The film isn’t As snobbish or highbrow as this seems more broadly humored. 

Yet again though this is a remake made for now original the foreign language one was and other than it’s the Main point most is changed around for a more mainstream appeal that subtracts what made it so special in the first place. It’s never a good place to be, because if you follow too closely then it’s like the film

LET ME IN practically the same shots with different actors and in English with minor changes. Where you might as well watch the original as everything is pretty much the same. You just won’t recognize the cast and will have to read subtitles.

So if you have seen the original while this is bigger it comes off strangely and as even if you haven’t seen the original. This still will be way too familiar and you’ve seen it before and done better.

GRADE: C

SUBMARINE (2010)

Directed By: Richard Ayoade
Written By: Richard Ayoade & Joe Dunthorne
Based on a Novel By: Joe Dunthorne
Cinematography: Erik Alexander Wilson 
Editor: Chris Dickens & Nick Fenton

Cast: Craig Roberts, Noah Taylor, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine, Yasmin Page, Gemma Chan 

Precocious Oliver struggles with being popular in school but when a dark-haired beauty takes interest in him, he’s determined to become the best boyfriend in the world. Meanwhile, his parents’ already rocky relationship is threatened when his mother’s ex-boyfriend moves in next door. Oliver makes some unorthodox plans to ensure that his parents stay together and that Jordana still likes him.
Now, this film is another one where I read the book first and greatly enjoyed the book and wished that they could incorporate most of the book into the film. It is smart and fun.

It takes what it can from the book to make a coherent story. It doesn’t fail to entertain to stand back and marvel at. It’s a film that will be criticized for copying or emulating the style of Wes Anderson.

Let’s face it any movie that has visual camera tricks. A Minuit style, colorful sets and contains a certain innocence in a cynical world, will be accused of copying the style. Wes Anderson didn’t create it. He liked and revels in it as an artistic choice. As it was there before so if another chooses to use a similar style as ling as it is its own story. Which is what director Richard Ayoade does here. One doesn’t see the problem to do the book justice. You would need that style.

The visuals in The film can be distracting but they are so abstract and creative. They never fail to amaze though after a while you tend to get used to them, but you are glad they are to really get to the heart of the scene.

I can admit story-wise there isn’t much at stake. There will be no great tragedy. No one will not be able to recover from, but just as it always will be when you are a teenager. Your emotions are so on edge. Everything even the small moments and decisions feels magnified and the wrong one feels like the beginning of the apocalypse.

It’s a quality film. The only weak spots I felt were the believability if our main Characters’ parents played by Noah Taylor and Sally Hawkins. Who are both good and heartbreaking but they feel in the movie more like characters instead of human beings.

Sally Hawkins seems too unemotional. While Noah Taylor is over the top emotional and you wonder how their characters even Fell in love, but that relationship of what could have been lies in perfect contrast to the main characters Oliver’s relationship with Jordan’s. What is supposed to be and where is this going as when he is romantic she doesn’t want to be close. When she wants to be close be is scared Away.

The film is directed and co-written by Richard Ayoade. Who is a British comedy writer, performer, and sitcom star. I gained an admiration for him. As he presents himself to be a thoughtful, witty, inventive, and talented filmmaker.

The film is magical it reminds you of the many off-kilter films about young outsiders. Over the years and I must admit, I am a sucker for stories about them. Which is what attracted me to the book in the first place.

The film Most reminds me of HAROLD AND MAUDE. Down to Craig Roberts resembling a young Bud Cort.

I believe this film to be a small gem worth seeking out. Definitely an addition to the film library. I only wish it was a criterion collection. Dvd. So one could know all about the production and the director’s choices. I’d even settle for an audio commentary

GRADE: B+

THE CRAZIES (2010)

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Directed By: Breck Eisner
Written By: Scott Kosar & Ray Wright
Based on the original Screenplay by: George Romero
Cinematography By: Maxime Alexandre
Editor: Billy Fox

Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Danielle Panabaker, Joe Anderson

As a toxin begins to turn the residents of Ogden Marsh, Iowa into violent psychopaths, sheriff David Dutton tries to make sense of the situation while he, his wife, and two other unaffected townspeople band together in a fight for survival.

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DREAM HOME (2010)

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Directed & Story By: Ho-Cheung Pang
Written By: Ho-Cheung Pang, Kwok Cheung Tsang & Chi-Man Wan
Cinematography By: Nelson Yu Lik-Wai
Editor: Wenders Li

Cast: Josie Ho, Michelle Ye, Norman Chu, Eason Chan, Juno Mak

Cheng Li-sheung is a young, upwardly mobile professional finally ready to invest in her first home. But when the deal falls through, she is forced to keep her dream alive – even if it means keeping her would-be neighbors dead.

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BLACK SWAN (2010)

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Directed By: Darren Aaronfsky
Written By: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John J. McLaughlin
Based On A Story By: Andres Heinz
Cinematography By: Matthew Libatique
Editor: Andrew Weisblum

CAST: Natalie Portman, Barbara Hershey, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassell, Winona Ryder

Nina is a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life, like all those in her profession, is completely consumed with dance. She lives with her obsessive former ballerina mother Erica  who exerts a suffocating control over her. When artistic director Thomas Leroy decides to replace prima ballerina Beth MacIntyre for the opening production of their new season, Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily, who impresses Leroy as well. Swan Lake requires a dancer who can play both the White Swan with innocence and grace, and the Black Swan, who represents guile and sensuality. Nina fits the White Swan role perfectly but Lily is the personification of the Black Swan. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side – a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

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EVERYTHING MUST GO (2010)

EverythingMustGo

 

Written & Directed By: Dan Rush
Based on the Short Story “Why Don’t You Dance” By: Raymond Carver
Cinematography By: Michael Barrett
Editor: Sandra Adair 


Cast: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher C.J. Wallace, Laura Dern, Michael Pena, Stephen Root, Glenn Howerton

After Nick is fired from his sales job, mostly because of his penchant for alcohol, he comes home and finds that his wife has kicked him and all of his stuff out of the house and onto the front lawn. He is pretty intent on just sitting in his chair, drinking beer, on the lawn. His cop friend, Frank Garcia, thinks he should at least pretend to have a yard sale to make it legal. He slowly starts making friends with a neighborhood kid who needs something to do, and a pregnant wife who has just moved in across the street, and Nick finds himself moving on and selling all his stuff.

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