Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Grosse Pointe Blank

" What do you do?

'I'm a professional killer.'

Oh, good for you. It's a growth industry."
A great quirky movie that's well acted and well written. It is supported by a strong cast from John and Joan Cusack, Minnie Driver to Dan Ackroyd and Jeremy Piven. The soundtrack is also a great time capsule of 80s music.

Well worth watching. I wish more movies were done this well.

4 1/2 Dead Clowns


Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Ah, Shia LaBeouf. This “re-imagining” of Rear Window would not have worked without him.

He is a very talented guy, and much like Transformers, the material here is elevated by his charisma. In the hands of a lesser actor, this would have bombed. It’s through sheer force of personality that lifted this from direct-to-video quality to theatrical success.

Shia plays Kale, a kid reeling from the loss of a family member, who falls into some trouble that leaves him on house arrest. As tedium sets in, he decides to grab some binoculars and spy on the neighbors. He gets more than he bargained for, and with the help of hot neighbor girl, must unravel what is going on at the neighborhood loner’s house. There are a few good scares, but there isn’t enough of a creepy factor. It takes a little too long to get the ball rolling, and then it just jumps from zero to sixty. A more skilled director might have built it up a little more, but there is very little room for doubt about how this will turn out. Still it’s worth a rental.


2 1/2 Dead Clowns

Dead Silence

From the same team that brought you Saw, comes a retread of other ventriloquist dummy movies and shows that preceded it. It’s well acted, well shot, but the only innovation here is the use of “dead silence” that warns people trouble is approaching; certainly not enough of a gimmick to keep you in suspense. I will give them some credit as it has the feel of a 1970’s movie, and gore is kept to a minimum.


1 1/2 Dead Clowns

Friday, January 25, 2008


You know, I expect a lot more from Danny Boyle. This film is a lot more The Beach than 28 Days Later. There are a lot of interesting concepts at work, but the film drags at a Solaris pace that begged for some editing or a few more action pieces. Though I can't knock it to much, as it does give a nice role to the criminally underused Michele Yeoh. There is a scene towards the end that made me think Chris Evans just took the role as an inside joke (though he and Michele were the only two actors who were really given emotional beats.) And just what are we supposed to make of that ending? And interesting attempt that falls flat, I give it 3 Dead Clowns.


The most surprising thing about this movie was the score, which was well done throughout. I agree with Brian that the acting was unexpected, but the dialogue was unatural in some scenes. The pacing is terrible. There were moments during the movie that it felt like a day by day diary of their 16 month journey.

Put up with it (that's what the fast forward button is for) and you'll get a good sci-fi thriller.

3 1/2 Dead Clowns


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CSA: The Confederate States of America

What an interesting movie. Is it satire? Social commentary? I'll have to read up on the film makers to see what their intent was.

CSA basically presents you with a fictional look at what our country would look like had the South won the War of Northern Aggression.

The highlight isn't even the story itself, but the jaw dropping racist commercials interspersed throughout, along with the wicked twist at the end.

3 1/2 Dead Clowns


Monday, January 21, 2008

Arctic Tale

Arctic Tale, by the creators of March of the Penguins and An Inconvenient Truth, focuses on three main characters a Polar Bear, a Walrus, and the damaging effects of global warming.

Arctic Tale does easily convey its message about global warming because the awkward narration (Queen Latifah), score, and personification of the animals tells us how we should feel. It really undermines the cinematography, which is the strength of this documentary.

Watch it to feel bad about wasting electricity or driving your gas guzzling SUV because this excess consumption will eventually lead to the extinction of these Arctic creatures.

2 1/2 Dead Clowns



That Eddie Murphy is a funny guy. No, really. Funny guy. There is a scene where Eddie as an old Chinese man insults Eddie as a fat Black woman. Priceless. There are a lot of moments like that, but the glue holding the story together? Eh...we've all seen it before. Investors want the land to do something else with it; mayhem proceeds. But, if you want a laugh, and there are several great ones here, its worth a rental.

2 1/2 Dead Clowns


Saturday, January 19, 2008


Cloverfield was book ended by two events for me. The first was while waiting on-line to get in. A woman coming out of another showing and shouted “you’re all wasting your money!”

Cloverfield as a film owes as much as a film to The Blair Witch Project as it does Godzilla. Thankfully it’s more the latter than the former. And I’m very glad I thought ahead and took some motion sickness pills. I feel for anyone entering the theater that didn’t. Still, when it was over I was unsteady on my feet, and had to stand for a few minutes before attempting the stairs.

One the surface, Cloverfield is what it appears to be in trailer form, a kick ass monster movie; all head of the Statue of Liberty rolling down the street and building smashing you can take. On the other, much like the original Godzilla, it’s a parable. Where Godzilla played on nuclear fears, Cloverfield plays the terrorism card in such a way that it will go right over most people’s heads.

The movie is shot by camcorder, as a going away party suddenly becomes a quest to escape a horrible event in lower Manhattan. As the head of Lady Liberty rolls, so too does the dust of a building crumbling to the ground. As the human throng runs from falling debris, you can’t help but recall the memory of people fleeing the attack on the World Trade Center, as the Twin Towers crashed to the ground. There is no condemnation of anyone here, there is little time for reflection; these are people on the run for their lives. With so little time to look back, the monster is seen in camcorder flashes, as is the horror left in its wake. There is such a visceral response to the terror these people feel and empathy for their plight that I found I had to remind myself that this was a movie. And that is part of the genius of how it was filmed. This is not some slick Hollywood version of a monster movie, but a post 9/11 look at terror. Not to say the effects aren’t top notch. The destruction of New York is so realistic I’m still not sure how they pulled it off. Is it model work, CGI or a mix of both? There is one scene towards the end that stretches disbelief a bit, but it’s so pee-down-the-leg intense that I can forgive it.

This is a film that no matter the box office should never have a sequel. It is what it is, and should stand that way. You could easily show the story from another camcorders perspective, but it would dilute what was done here. This is masterful storytelling that should stand on its own.

The second event of the evening was a woman who stood up at the end of the film and said “I want my money back!” Both women left me shaking my head…some people just don’t get it.

4 1/2 Dead Clowns