Nov 24, 2014

Review: Wakusei daikaijû Negadon [Negadon: The Monster from Mars] (2005)

In 2005, it had been 51 years since the release of Godzilla in 1954. If that's not a reason for celebration, I don't know what is. There's just something irresistible about Showa era Japanese special effects films and that is clearly what director/writer Jun Awazu is looking to capture with Negadon: The Monster from Mars. It's an animated short film that took two years to complete which is too bad because it could've made the 50th anniversary of Godzilla if it were finished a year earlier.

Nov 23, 2014

Review: The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013)

Shia LaBeouf gets a pretty bad wrap and for some of the things he's done in his personal life and understandably so. We can't know all the circumstances to what led to some of his controversies and trouble with the law, but Shia strikes me as a bit of a weird guy who just loses his cool way too easily. None of this really matters to me when it came to reviewing The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman because I always separate the artist and their personal lives when I evaluate their work.

One thing I'll always give Shia LaBeouf credit for is trying and putting in the effort. He takes acting really seriously (maybe a bit too seriously) and that's something I really respect. Although he does seem to end up doing the same sort of performance over and over again, I usually enjoy his hectic energy.

Nov 22, 2014

Review: The Sessions (2012)

The Sessions tackles very mature ground with its story line and it's definitely not the kind of thing you'd typically see in Hollywood. That's why it's no surprise that it's an independent movie that managed to get its distribution rights bought by a bigger studio looking to capitalize on the film's success at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Slight star power and good performances also help. You got to admit that it's pretty impressive that director Ben Lewin managed to get John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy with a budget of only $1 million for the entire movie.

With a storyline centered around being physically handicapped and sex, The Sessions is a story that breaks new ground. It's based on the true story of poet Mark O'Brian who got sick with polio in 1955 and became paralyzed from the neck down. He required an iron lung to help him breathe but despite his handicap, he attended UC Berkeley and co-founded a poetry house that featured handicapped poets. The film centers around his experience with a sex surrogate that he hires once he decides he no longer wanted to be a virgin.

Nov 21, 2014

Review: Nebraska (2013)

Alexander Payne has got to be one of the most consistent directors in the business. Excluding the few things he's directed and written before 1999, he's directed some really good films that all deserve recognition. I've noticed that a lot of them have to do with traveling and road trips and I suppose that's his way of having his characters embark on personal journeys of self-exploration. I can count About Schmidt, Sideways and Nebraska as part of this pattern. It's important to note that Payne didn't actually write Nebraska and he apparently didn't want direct the film right after Sideways because of that similarity.

With Nebraska, Alexander Payne has made the choice to film everything in black and white, despite studio opposition. B&W always seems to be a controversial thing for people these days and it has no business being. Movies filmed in black and white always seem to be automatically associated with boring which is dead wrong. That's how you miss out on gems like Nebraska. From a business standpoint, the studio probably wasn't wrong though. I bet that the decision to do black and white is probably why Nebraska only made a little over $17 million worldwide.

Nov 20, 2014

Review: The World is Not Enough (1999)

Now into the third Pierce Brosnan James Bond film out of four, this is where things really start to get problematic for this era. Interestingly enough, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were the writers for The World is Not Enough and they remained so all the way until Skyfall. Fortunes really can change can't they? To think that they're responsible for some of the biggest successes and duds of 007 is pretty impressive. It's important to remember that box office success has never been a problem for them though.

The World is Not Enough is probably most famous for the failed attempt at having Denise Richards as a Bond girl. She's definitely pretty bad and ill suited for her role but she's not the worst Bond girl there's ever been either. I still give that honour to Halle Berry who's so lifeless you might think she's in a zombie movie. We'll save that for another time though once I actually review Die Another Day.

Nov 18, 2014

Review: Dirty Dancing 3: Capoeira Nights (2010)

I'm going to make a pretty big confession here: I love Dirty Dancing. That's with zero sarcasm. It's for sure one of my guiltiest pleasures out of the movies that I like and I can't help do anything about it. I love Patrick Swayze, I love Jennifer Grey, I love the song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" and I love every single stinking montage. Don't even talk to me about the climax because I just love it too much.

Now for the 2004 prequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, I prefer to just ignore it. It can be summed up as a transplantation of Dirty Dancing's story into the past with the Cuban Revolution in the backdrop. It's nothing special and it didn't need to be made at all. Six years later in 2010, Website Funny or Die saw the need to make a comedy short on Dirty Dancing. I can't kill the completionist inside of me so I just had to see it.

Nov 17, 2014

Review: Pleasantville (1998)

Gary Ross is the kind of guy who regularly alternates between director, writer and producer roles. Sometimes he does all three, sometimes he only does one. Not all his movies are that great but he's got enough to his name that makes him a guy to look out for. Out of all the movies he's worked on and that I've seen, I'd say Dave is my favourite in which he was the writer.

Pleasantville is one two movies that Gary Ross acted as director, writer and producer, the other being Seabiscuit. Both movies star Tobey Maguire so he must have a thing for him. Nothing wrong with that because I like him myself too. He's got this kind of innocence and vulnerability about him that I like.

Nov 16, 2014

Review: 9 (2005)

I saw 9, the feature length animated film that is, quite a few years ago. Without a doubt, its biggest strength is its rich, visual details and animation. In that sense it's a good film with a really well constructed and unique world. It's also quite gloomy to say the least.

What I missed those years ago is that 9 is based off of a short film that was created by the director of 9, Shane Acker. Apparently he made this film as his UCLA animation thesis project. Acker made the most of his four and a half years of work by doing the film festival rounds. His hard work didn't go unnoticed because he managed to get Tim Burton's attention as well as a nomination for best animated short film at the Academy Awards.

Nov 15, 2014

Review: My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)

My girlfriend really likes Julia Roberts, so here I am once again with another movie of hers that definitely falls in the "chick flick" category. Wish there was a better term than that because I hate using it. Not that I give my girlfriend any grief though, we're totally even when it comes to what movies we choose so there's no hard feelings. Plus I watch anything anyway and My Best Friend's Wedding is meant to be one of Julia's top movies, so I was curious to see it.

Truth be told, I'm not really sure where I stand in terms of my like for Julia Roberts. Without a doubt Erin Brockovich is my favourite performance of hers that I've seen, bar none. But then she has roles in movies like Runaway Bride and Valentine's Day that I don't find very good. I think my problem is that I never really like her in romantic comedy roles. Notting Hill is the only rom-com I've seen her in that I actually liked. One thing you can't deny though, she's always been a big box office draw. That time is probably coming to an end though.

Nov 14, 2014

Review: The Bling Ring (2011)

Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring was a pretty good movie but lacked depth in actually exploring its characters. It made for a pretty good satire of celebrity worshiping culture though. One thing I can say is that it was a pretty film that had the benefit of being able to actually shoot in Paris Hilton's real house. It also had some pretty tense moments. 

Anyway, when I found out that there was a Lifetime TV movie version of the Bling Ring that came out before Coppola's effort, I just had to see it. It's pretty much just a case of wanting to be able to say that I've seen it though, as a completionist. I definitely wasn't watching it and expecting it to be better than the 2013 version. Good TV movies do exist, but they're pretty rare.