Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sucker Punch Review

If you're a fan of director Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) you'll have a blast this his latest film - Sucker Punch. I'll admit, at first glance I rolled my eyes and completely dismissed this movie. However, after I gave it a chance, I realized it could actually be fun. And that's exactly what this action packed movie is - FUN. I love Snyder's style, and even though his movies tend to lack depth and substance, his visually striking style never disappoints. His imaginative visuals were completely stunning. And there was a lot more depth in story than I half expected.

I'll lay it out for, try to keep up as it may get confusing: Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is forced into an insane asylum by her evil stepfather after accidentally killing her younger sister. After being committed we meet the sleazy orderly (Oscar Isaac) who agrees that for the right price he can have her lobotomized. Then there's Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino) who actually tries to help the inmates by getting them to act out their frustrations and traumas.
Suddenly, the scene shifts from dismal gray reality to a world with plush, vivid color. The institution is now a brothel, the orderly is the owner/boss, and Dr. Gorski is the choreographer for the dance numbers the girls are forced to preform for the clientele. During Babydoll's dance tryout she is transported to yet another level of reality where a wise man (Scott Glenn) arms her with a gun and a samurai sword and gives her the knowledge she needs to gain her freedom. She then proceeds to battles three CGI monsters with masterful style.
We actually never get to see Baby Doll do her sexy dance: Every time she begins, we are thrown into her fantasy where she fights giant samurais with machine guns, steam-punk World War II zombies or fire breaking dragons. Four of her fellow inmates also appear with her: Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), Amber (Jamie Chung) and sisters Rocket (Jena Malone) and Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish).

Make no mistake, this video game style of a movie is definitively cool to look at, and has a killer-rad soundtrack to boot (Bjork, Queen, Carla Azar). Even though it doesn't make much sense, it's so vividly conceived, so deliriously bizarre and wonderful you'll enjoy the ride Snyder takes you on. The movie provides all you need for this imaginary world, so that you’re never fully confused, even when the action is set inside a dream within a dream - Inception anyone?

Someone wrote that this movie is "a head trip of the most awesome kind," and I couldn't agree more. Sucker Punch was a sexy, action packed entertaining flick with an underlining message of cool sorts - If you want something fight for it. You have all the tools you need to succeed, so FIGHT!

What's your take?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chilling Insidious Trailer

Source: YouTube

"It's not the house that's haunted..."

I love a good scary movie, but holy mother of freakiness! A couple weeks back FilmDistrict debuted a full-length trailer for James Wan's scary new horror-thriller Insidious, which looks absolutely horrifying. Apparently this movie is a number of things thrown together: part haunted house flick, part demon possession thriller, part Poltergeist, with throwbacks to Sam Raimi. Finally we get a horror flick that not only looks horrifying but might actually be horrifying. I have a good feeling this trailer will follow threw on just that. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne star as parents of a few kids, one of which gets trapped in a coma, but it might be more than that. If you're down with scary, I highly suggest watching this trailer, it will creep you out!

A family tries prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose son in a realm called The Further forever.

Insidious is directed by acclaimed horror filmmaker
James Wan, who previously directed the original (and only descent one) Saw film from 2004, and followed that up with Dead Silence and Death Sentence. The screenplay was written by Wan's filmmaking friend Leigh Whannell, who wrote the original Saw (and also starred in it) and also wrote Dead Silence. I'm not the biggest fan of those movies, but their latest project, Insidious, looks super scary-good. It first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year and was picked up by FilmDistrict for distribution. This film hits theaters everywhere April 1, 2011. Only a week to go.

Are you down?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

Source: CNN

Just when news broke about David Fincher directing the remake of the Egyptian queen comes the sad news that the star of the original 1963 hit film Cleopatra has passed away. CNN reports this morning that Elizabeth Taylor passed away after congestive heart failure at age 79. The actress' publicist announced the sad news saying Taylor died "peacefully today in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Though she had recently suffered a number of complications, her condition had stabilized and it was hoped that she would be able to return home. Sadly, this was not to be." We remember the legendary actress and her work below.

Ms. Taylor definitely made a splash with headlines for her wild-life behavior, but she was much more celebrated for simply being Elizabeth Taylor - sexy, glamorous, tempestuous, fragile, always trailing courtiers, media and fans. Ms. Taylor hasn't appeared in a film since the 1994 live-action adaptation of The Flintstones, but she's very much a name from Old Hollywood and the Golden Age of Cinema.

Ms. Taylor broke into the business at the young age of 10 in There's One Born Every Minute in 1942. From there her acting career took flight. Throughout her amazing career she appeared in numerous films including the original Father of the Bride, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra (one of my personal favorites), and much more. But her biggest career achievement would come later and in the form of two Academy Award wins from her performances in Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? By then she had already been nominated three times previously, so it was only a matter of time before she finally went home with Oscar.

Elizabeth Taylor's has lived a tremendous life and her legend will definitely live on in film for eternity. Her passing today is truly a sad loss for Hollywood and for all her fans throughout generations.

~Rest In Peace~

FYI: Turner Classic Movies just announced they will be honoring Elizabeth Taylor with a 24-hour marathon of her films on April 10th. You can find the full list of films being shown right here.

Tell me your favorite Elizabeth Taylor movie?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Limitless Review

In Neil Burger's latest film, Limitless asks the never ending question - "what if." If you could access 100% of your brain what would you do? Who would you become? Could you end world hunger, cure cancer?

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a man who is introduced to a designer drug that allows him to access 100% of his brain in a matter of minutes. Imagine the limitless possibilities. Before you know it, Morra goes from being a scruffy, grease bum writer, headed no where with a girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) who just dumped him, to a multilingual, smooth-talking motormouth with a photographic memory and an appetite for extreme success. While on this drug, Morra knows no bounds and becomes larger than life. However, there are a few downsides. Addiction does not come without a price. To maintain this "high" you have to take a pill a day, and it causes crippling headaches, vomiting and prolonged blackouts. Taking the drug becomes essential because without it Morra is unable to continue his rock star, I'm so amazing lifestyle. The real question at hand becomes: is it worth it?

This sci-fi fantasy thriller is based on the novel "The Dark Fields," by Alan Glynn. It's an incredibly addicting, fun, entertaining joy-ride. It's a lot more fun than you'd guess from watching the trailer, which suggests some sort of somber, depressing rich-boy addiction drama with a predictable ending. That's not to say it doesn't have its share of flaws and loop holes. But what it lacks in substance it more than makes up for in hot style. Burger does a beautiful job bringing this story to life. The film editing blew my mind. It was edgy, crisp and fun. The use of color in the film was a stroke of genesis too. Notice the drab, boring color quality before Morra consumes the drug and compare it to the electrifying, rich, bold colors afterwords. It's a subtle but brilliant touch. Loved it! You definitely see some David Fincher influences in the film as well, spanning from Fight Club to The Game, especially during its occasional moments of visual brilliance. Burger's definitely a talented visual stylist. I also loved how the film is so easily a metaphor about ambition and addiction, which I found thought provoking and interesting. It's a shame Burger didn't take the time to develop that story further.

With his witty charm, Cooper is well-cast in this leading role, something I didn't think he could accomplish just yet. He smoothly pulls off a guy who goes from total geek, to total chic with a sudden four-digit IQ. Robert De Niro doesn't disappoint either with his smaller but pivotal role. He does fantastic job bringing the story full circle. This film will excite, raise questions and most importantly reel you in with an entertaining hook.


Lincoln Lawyer Review

It's good to finally see Matthew McConaughey where he belongs - drama. I was getting tired of his dismal rom-com, beach-bum roles. Reminiscence of his 1996 movie, A Time to Kill, McConaughey enters the court room once again to play a cocky, slick, smooth-talking L.A. criminal defense attorney. Directed by Brad Furman and adapted from Michael Connelly’s novel, The Lincoln Lawyer offers up an exciting courtroom thriller that ticks along at a pleasing pace.

Mick Haller (McConaughey) drives around L.A in the back of his chauffeured old-school Town Car, unafraid to bend the rules a bit. He employs a network of unorthodox informants and investigators to keep him on top of his game and isn't too picky about clients. The movie takes flight when Haller lands a high paying job defending a snotty, entitled playboy named Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe, who in my opinion, is better at playing these types of roles than anyone in the business) who is accused of brutally assaulting a prostitute. Of course Haller is dazzled by the dollar signs and is convinced Roulet is innocent, and even though his lead investigator (William H. Macy) and prosecutor ex-wife (Marisa Tomei), have their doubts, Holler proceeds with the case anyway. From there an intriguing game of attorney-versus-client plays out and at times it's good.

It was nice to see McConaughey bring his A-game this time around. And even though the story was pretty basic, Lincoln Lawyer definitely delivers on twists and turns that keep you at the edge of your seat with baited breath. The only complaint I had was the unsatisfying ending, which I'm afraid did disappoint. It didn't have that "wow, that was awesome" factor that I was so intent on receiving in the end. Instead, the all too predictable conclusion dragged to a semi weak halt. I would have liked them to reel us in for one last twist, ending with a bang! - "wow, that was awesome." And this thriller was definitely deserving of just that. Instead they settled for a sufficient, mediocre ending. However, being that this is based off a novel, I guess they did the best they could with the material given.

What did you think?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

J.J. Abrams' Sci-Fi Super 8 Trailer

Source: YouTube

A little under a year ago we saw the
teaser for this movie, which had us questioning and wanting more. And now, thanks to Paramount releasing their full length trailer for J.J. Abrams' mysterious sci-fi movie Super 8, inspired by the Spielberg classics of the 70's & 80's, some of those questions will be answered. Not only does it melt your heart with the nostalgic music, resembling that of E.T., but it looks absolutely phenomenal, in every way. I think Abrams has created a classic here that we're about to experience this summer, and I cannot wait! The film stars the likes of Ron Eldard, Elle Fanning (who I simply adore btw), Kyle Chandler, Zach Mills, Noah Emmerich and Amanda Michalka. You must stop and watch this trailer - it is amazing!!

Relationships are tested when a small town experiences extraordinarily fantastic "other-worldly" events.

Super 8 (which is supposedly a tentative title, but that doesn't seem to be the case) is written & directed by visionary director J.J. Abrams, who started his career with "Lost" and "Alias" before first directing Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek. This is being produced by Steven Spielberg at Amblin, Relativity and Bad Robot. Paramount is bringing this movie to theaters everywhere, not in 3D, on June 10, 2011.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Red Band Trailer for Bad Teacher

Source: YouTube

WOW! A couple weeks back Columbia Pictures debuted their very first R-rated red band trailer for Bad Teacher. It's about a "foul-mouthed, junior high teacher" who gets into some raunchy relationship mayhem at her school. It stars the likes Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, Phyllis Smith and John Michael Higgins. Yeah, this has some foul language, but it still looks funny, it's actually a well-cut trailer. Now I'm not a fan of Diaz, she bugs, but despite that, I still want to see this. It could be fun. And is it me or is Diaz looking really old these days? She is not aging very well. She's trying to play someone fifteen years younger than she really is. Anyway, check out the trailer below and enjoy.

A comedy centered around a foul-mouthed, junior high teacher (Cameron Diaz) who, after being dumped by her sugar daddy, begins to woo a colleague (J.T.) -- a move that pits her against a well-loved teacher.

Bad Teacher is directed by Jake Kasdan, who started out with Zero Effect and on "Freaks and Geeks", then directed Orange County (fun movie btw), The TV Set and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story previously. The screenplay was co-written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, the duo behind Year One, veteran producers & writers on "The Office" and the Ghostbusters III script - yeah, they're really making that movie. Columbia & Sony Pictures is bringing Bad Teacher to theaters on June 24, 2011.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Take Me Home Tonight Review

Take Me Home Tonight has every single element you'd expect there to be from an 80's rom-com. It even looks as though the movie was filmed in the 80's, which in my opinion, is hard to pull off. The story is simple enough - Matt (Topher Grace) is a nerdy recent MIT grad, and is unsure of his next life step, and so he takes a job at the local video store to pass the time. One summer night he reunites with his high school crush, Tori (Teresa Palmer), who invites him to a party. He essentially has one night to get her number and hopefully more. Cue the party, the killer, rockin' 80's soundtrack, the bad hair and shoulder pads, and you have a film with all the fixings of a 80's teen comedy.

Of course we've seen this exact movie a dozen times before - it's reminiscent of Can't Hardly Wait set in the 80's. And even though it lacks the whit and charm of a great comedy, not to mention it's completely unoriginal, I still found myself laughing at parts, mainly at Matt's predicament and the horrible 80's fashion. But if anything the soundtrack is DOPE!

With that being said, this romantic comedy manages to pull though just enough, thanks to the lovely presence of Topher Grace (who also wrote and produced the film). Can't say much for his over-the-top, coked-out sidekick, Barry (
Dan Fogler), he was pretty annoying. But all in all the movie is light, unoriginal and at times fun and even funny. It definitely met my expectations.

What did you think?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rango Review

Johnny Depp certainly has a knack for playing oddballs roles. He's made quite a stellar career out of it, so I find it completely fitting he voices one in his latest film - Rango.

Once again
Depp and director Gore Verbinski team up in this charming, animated western about a chameleon who get's scattered to the wind only to be blown into a two-bit, all-animal town that is dwindling due to a water shortage. Folks in the town of Dirt accept their miserable fate, but Rango, a wannabe actor who views the situation as a chance to go deep into "character," somehow convinces the towns creatures he's going to turn things upside down by making things right once again. He puts together a team of volunteers to hopefully save the day/town.

Rango is off its rocker. It's fun and silly, but it's smart-silly, with its nod to Western icons and its sneaky references to a waterless future. It's beautiful two-dimensional animation springs to life with more energy and kick than most of the lame 3-D movies do these days. I loved the rich colors and dizzyingly, quirky characters. Great cast! And of course Depp is Depp - a master of self-awareness and self-mocking. Love it! I did think it was a tad bit long, though, but all in all, I fully enjoyed this animated feature and even though a lot of critics are saying it's not for little kids, I would have to disagree. I think kids would love it just as much as adults.

What did you think?

The Adjustment Bureau Review

Love conquers all in The Adjustment Bureau - A cross between Mad Men and a lesser version of The Matrix . However, it's actually pretty good, not great by any means, but it's definitely entertaining and you will be taken on a decent thrill ride through a love story with the question at hand - can we escape our own fate? The Adjustment offers fresh hurdles to the question.
Matt Damon gives his most charming performance yet as David Norris, a rising young New York politician who suffers an electoral setback after an embarrassing tabloid revelation. That's when he meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a free-spirited ballet dancer to whom he's immediately drawn to. She inspires him so much that he ends up giving one of his best speeches yet, which of course results in a huge boost for his political career, then she disappears. But, as chance would have it, David runs into her again the next morning on the way into work.

However, when David arrives at work that morning, he sees something he shouldn't—a bunch of guys in suits and fedoras reprogramming the brain of his business partner. They explain that they're part of the Adjustment Bureau, people who make sure things happen according to The Chairman's plan. And while they're at it, they inform him he's not to see Elise ever again—it'll ruin The Plan for his life and hers. Richardson (John Slattery), the main adjuster, continues to warns him that if he tells anyone about what he's seen, they will be forced to lobotomize him.

The chemistry between David and Elise is incredibly strong, even though the couple barely know each other, nothing can keep them apart, even though agents of fate will do their best to do so. Of course the film isn't perfect, after all it's nothing more than a fun Hollywood popcorn flick. I'll start with the agents. If they are working for a "higher" power, basically they're angels, why would they need to go through all that trouble in freezing people to adjust their minds, couldn't they simply snap their fingers and be done with it? And I'll end with the sad fate of the predictable and boring Hollywood ending. Though the film almost gets away with these blunders simply based on the skill, attractiveness, and likability of Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.

Though never as flashy as Christopher Nolan was wi
th Inception, director George Nolfi and his excellent cinematographer John Toll (Gone Baby Gone, Almost Famous, Braveheart) make wonderfully creative use of New York locations in the climactic chase scene, which has a surreal intensity to it, which I love. This movie is also based on a short story, "The Adjustment Team", written by Philip K. Dick. In conclusion, don't expect to be blown away, but rather entertained. I certainly enjoyed this movie. It was fun and thrilling.

What did you think?

A Christopher Nolan Tribute

Source: YouTube

I'm sure I wasn't the only one a little disappointed that Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) walked away with the Oscar for Best Director at the 83rd Academy Awards instead of David Fincher (The Social Network). However, the more disappointing aspect of the Best Director award was that Christopher Nolan wasn't even nominated for his amazing work on Inception. All of the practical shooting that happened on set without the assistance of visual effects was worth the nomination in itself. Thankfully DJC Productions has paid tribute to Nolan's work in the aptly named Nolanography, a montage looking back at the director's outstanding films.

You can find a longer Chris Nolan tribute here, if you didn't like this one. Inspired by the year-end montage Filmography 2010 which I highlighted late last year, DJC Productions takes clips from Nolan's films and tosses them into a great montage featuring the song Nostrand by Ratatat. Though there's definitely much more of The Dark Knight and Inception than his other films, it is still a great look back at all of Nolan's work in a short, fun package. So enjoy the video, and let's hope Chris Nolan actually gets a Best Director nod sometime soon.

What's your favorite Nolan film?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2011 Oscar Winners, Highlights & Fashion

By now you all know who went home with Oscar and who went home alone. The 83rd Academy Awards aired last Sunday and even though the show dropped in ratings and received bad reviews, I still enjoyed Hollywood's biggest night. The show did lack the spice and zest of past years though - I expected more from our two host, Anne Hathaway and James Franco. I wanted more side show acts, more comical camaraderie, more "kick." But even if that was all there, the show in itself was pretty predictable anyway. We all knew who was going to win months before the actual night. There weren't any surprises in that regard, leaving the night a little "empty" if you will. But not to end on a sour note... there were definitely some great moments. Below are some of my favorites of the night, and even though director David Fincher didn't take home the golden statue, I was pleased with the list of winners just the same.

Franco and Hathaway kicked off the show by making their way through several Best Picture nominees like Inception with special guests like Alec Baldwin, one of last year's hosts:

I was rooting for The Social Network to win, but truth be told, I really love both The King's Speech and The Social Network, almost equally. However, I knew TKS would win the moment I saw it. It definitely fit the Best Picture mold and plays right to the Academy. It's a fantastic film, and very deserving of the win, both of them were. I would've been happy with either of them winning. For a full list of winners click here.

When the big award for Best Picture came around, this amazing montage with Oscar winning film The King's Speech providing the voice-over proved to be an beautiful highlight reel for the ten nominated films:

Best Director: Tom Hooper - The Kings Speech

Bale has played a gruff, gravelly voiced Batman, a grizzled boxer in his Oscar-winning performance - The Fighter, and a ton of other tough-guy roles, so when he choked up when it came to thanking his wife, it was quite touching.

Best Actor: Colin Firth,
Best Actress: Natalie Portman,
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale,
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo

This was definitely Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' year. They have exceptional talent when it comes to music and this year the Academy made the right choice by honoring them. And even though there was a slew of excellent scores, (I would have been happy to see any of them win), deep down I was rooting for these guys to win. Below is one of my favorite clips from the Oscar Winning Score. Enjoy!

Hathaway sang her number in a very nicely tailored tuxedo, so Franco decided to continue the gender bending by coming out in a rather ill-fitting pink dress.

Add some clever technological maneuvers, and presto – a serious confrontation between Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 becomes a hilarious musical created with Auto-Tuned voices. Edward, Bella and a shirtless Jacob also got the same treatment during a scene from Twilight: Eclipse, jokingly titled "He Doesn't Own a Shirt." Funny Stuff!

On to Fashion...
One of the best parts of Oscar Night are the dresses and jewelery, what's hot and what's not. The fashion on this night is almost just as important and fun as the movies themselves. Here are my picks for Best and Worst Dressed.


This was definitely my favorite of the evening.

Runner Up's...


Nicole never ceases to amaze me with her horrible red carpet fashion.

Runner Up's...

I've had better!

There you have it, my take on the Oscars this year. When you look at the show like this, highlights only, it looks like a fun show, and even though I didn't mind it, I hope they spice it up a lot more next year. But alas, I am excited to see what Hollywood has in store for us this year. All good things I hope. See ya at the movies!

What did you think of the Oscars?

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