Archive for July, 2009


August 2009 Movie Release Schedule

“Cold Souls” – Paul Giamatti plays himself, a tormented actor who seeks relief through “soul extraction.” Opens in limited release on August 7, 2009

“G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra” – Dennis Quaid and Chris Eccleston face-off in this big-budget action movie based on the 80’s cartoon series. Watch for Sienna Miller as ‘Baroness’ and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as ‘Cobra Commander’. No word on whether Serpentor will be around. Yo Joe! Opens August 7, 2009

“Julie and Julia” – Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in a movie based on the book about a woman who cooks her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” in a year. Opens August 7, 2009

“Paper Heart” – A girl decides to make a documentary about the one subject she doesn’t understand: love. Stars Michael Cera. Opens August 7, 2009

“A Perfect Getaway” – Milla Jovavich and Steve Zahn are on a honeymoon in Hawaii when they discover they’re being stalked by a pair of killers. Opens August 14, 2009

“Bandslam” – Disney movie about high school misfits finding out it’s a long way to the top if they wanna make a rock ‘n roll band. Stars Vanessa Hudgens and Lisa Kudrow. Opens August 14, 2009

“District 9” – Peter Jackson produced movie about an alien race forced to live in slum-like conditions. Opens August 14, 2009

“The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard” – Jeremy Piven plays Don Ready, an off-the-cuff super-salesman hired to help an ailing car lot move their stock. With the help of his ragtag crew they sell, drink, sell, go to strip clubs, drink, and sell some more… Opens August 14, 2009

“Spread” – Guy (Ashton Kutcher) who sleeps around in a life of privilege meets girl (Margarita Levieva) who does the same. Sorta reminds me of Audrey Tautou’s “Priceless.” Opens August 14, 2009

“The Time Traveler’s Wife” – Based on the novel about a man (Eric Bana) who has a genetic disorder that causes him to time-travel when he’s under duress. He tries to have a relationship with a young heiress (Rache1 McAdams). Go back (and forward) in time on August 14, 2009

“Inglourious Basterds” – A woman who flees after watching her family murdered in German occupied France and a group of Jewish men targeting Nazis in acts of retribution converge in this upcoming Quentin Tarantino movie. Opens August 21, 2009

“Post Grad” – Ryden Lamby (Alexis Bledel) graduates from college, moves back home, gets a job, finds a boyfriend, and has to figure out what to do with her life. Yawn. Also stars Michael Keaton. Opens August 21, 2009

“Shorts” – Robert Rodriguez movie about a small suburban community centered around the Black Box company, which is a be-all end-all do-everything gadget. A mysterious rainbow-colored falls from the sky and has the ability to grant anyone’s wish. Opens August 21, 2009

“The World’s Greatest Dad” – Robin Williams is a recently divorced poetry teacher who dreams of being a novelist. And then a whole bunch of bad stuff happens. Opens August 21, 2009

“Oceans” – Disney documentary on the oceans of the world. There’s a bit of controversy in that while it may not be “Shark Week,” it comes close for its ‘G’ rating. Opens August 22, 2010

“Final Destination 4” – A guy named Nick O’Bannon goes to the racetrack with his family and friends and receives a premonition about an accident. He saves them and cheats Death, which isn’t the kind of thing Death takes kindly too. The 4th installment of the series opens August 28, 2009

“Halloween 2” – Picking up where the first leaves off, we get to follow another Myers murderfest. Opens August 28, 2009

“Taking Woodstock” – Ang Lee directed true story of Elliot Tiber, a man who was pivotal in making the 1969 Woodstock Festival happen. Also stars Emile Hirsch and Liev Schreiber. Opens August 28, 2009


Remake Radar: Footloose



Now I gotta cut
Loose, footloose
Kick off your Sunday shoes

Welcome to Remake Radar, where we take on Hollywood’s penchant for remaking films for better or worse (which is most of the time). This month’s movie:

“Footloose” (1984)

Stars: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, and Sarah Jessica Parker

Director: Herbert Ross

Story: Ren McCormack (Bacon) is a street-wise teenager living in Chicago when his parents move the family west to a small town where dancing and rock music are as illegal as any progressive thought post-1950. Ren gets interested in Ariel (Singer) and with the help of classmates tries to lift the ban only to run up against the Bible-thumping preacher Rev. Shaw Moore. With a rockin’ soundtrack from Kenny Loggins (who does the main theme), Deniece Williams, Bonnie Tyler, Quiet Riot, Foreigner, and John Mellencamp, how can he lose?

What do we know now?: Aside from being turned into a Broadway production, it’s slated for release on June 18, 2010. The director is Kenny Ortega (“High School Musical 3”) and the two signed-on cast members are Chace Crawford (as Ren) and Julianne Hough (as Ariel).


Movie News and Views July 28, 2009 Trailer Edition

“The Collector” – An ex-con goes to steal from his employer only to find the employer’s family held hostage by a masked killer who has intricately placed traps in their country home. Opens July 31, 2009

“I Can Do Bad All By Myself” – Another Madea story, this time she stops a 16-year-old girl and her brother from looting her and sends them to live with her hard-drinking nightclub singing aunt. Opens September 11, 2009

“Jennifer’s Body” – Megan Fox stars in a high school horror film (written by Diablo Cody) about a girl who uses sex to kill teenage boys. Opens September 18, 2009

“Ninja Assassin” – Asian pop star Rain is one of the world’s deadliest assassins, taken from birth and trained in a secret society. When his best friend dies he breaks free, vanishes, and waits to exact his revenge. Opens November 25, 2009

“The Book of Eli” – Denzel Washington is a lone man who is trying to bring society redemption through knowledge culmed from the aforementioned book. Gary Oldman is the sheriff of a small town determined to take the book. Opens January 15, 2010

“Hot Tub Time Machine” – Four college friends return to a ski lodge, complaining about their lives when they discover their hot tub takes them back to 1986. Stars John Cusack and Rob Corddry. Opens February 26, 2010

“Alice in Wonderland” – Walt Disney produced and Tim Burton directed 3-D story based on the books. Stars Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Sheen, and Alan Rickman. Opens May 5, 2010

“Dorian Gray” – Based on the novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” about a man (Ben Barnes) who becomes the subject of a painting. He pursues a hedonistic lifestyle and the painting changes while he looks exactly the same. Coming soon!

“Tron: Legacy” – Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) is the son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) who must venture into a computer game’s world to find his father who has disappeared. Also stars Olivia Wilde. Coming soon!


Movie News and Views July 24, 2009 Poster Edition



– David Goyer (“The Unborn”) is set to write and direct a sequel to “The Invisible Man,” where the character’s nephew will discover his uncle’s formula for invisibility and be recruited by British Intelligence for WWII.

– Cher and Christina Aguilera are set to star in “Burlesque,” a movie about a girl from Iowa who goes to California… you know the rest.

– “Taken 2” is now in the works.

– Christian Bale will star in “Fighter,” based on the real life story of boxer Dicky Edlund and his brother. It will also star Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams and will be directed by David Russell.

– The Oscars will now have 10 Best Picture nominees. No word on how many of them will be movies that didn’t come to your town.

– Frank Miller us rumored to be working on a sequel to “300.” Really? Do we need one?

– Watch for “Hitman 2.” Or not.

– “American Werewolf in London” is looking to be remade.

– “Let the Right One In” is being remade for American audiences.

– “Twilight: Eclipse” will begin filming in August.

– The “Nightmare on Elm Street” reboot will be a trilogy.

– Justin Timberlake and Jason Statham are set to be in Guy Ritchie’s “Guys and Dolls” remake.

– Watch for a Michael Jackson movie.

– Brandon Routh’s “Superman” contract has expired. The WB is working on a second Supes movie, but no word as to whether Routh will be back.

– The View-Master, the thing we got when we were kids that had the 3-D picture reels, is getting a movie.

– The 1987 “The Gate” movie will be remade in 3-D.

– “T.J. Hooker” is headed for the big screen.

– Porn movies will no longer have storylines.

– “MacGruber,” the SNL-skit based on the “MacGuyver” TV series, will begin filming in August.

– The WB must make another “Superman” by 2011 or else give money to the Siegel family.

– Lindsay Lohan is stepping back from acting to produce and direct her own stuff.

– “Tron 2” details: “TRON is a 3D high-tech adventure set in a digital world that’s unlike anything ever captured on the big screen. Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 25 years. Along with Kevin’s loyal confidant (Olivia Wilde), father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous.

– Natalie Portman has been added to the cast of “Thor.”

– Renee Zellweger will pack on the pounds again for “Bridget Jones 3.”


That’s it for now, folks!



Movies on DVD Review: Ice Station Zebra



Not much of an ice station…

Stars Rock Hudson, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown, and Ernest Borgnine. Directed by John Sturges.

Story: Nuclear sub Commander James Ferraday (Hudson) receives notice that him and his men must travel to the North Pole and escort a guy named “Jones” (McGoohan) to a civilian camp for Top Secret reasons. Seeing as the paperwork comes from so high up the command chain he would get a nosebleed, he accepts. “Jones” is a mysterious character who knows more about what’s going on than the Captain and lets him know it. On their trip North they stop and pick up Vaslov (Borgnine) a Russian defector and Marine Captain Anders (Brown). Vaslov is affable and friendly, but uncomfortably pokes around the sub to learn more about it; he’s also good friends with Jones. Captain Anders is dry, hard-nosed, and by-the-book. When prepping a torpedo tube leads to sabotage and the death of a crewmember, the Captain tries to find the saboteur. Is it Anders, Vaslov, Jones, or even one of the crewmembers themselves? When they break through the Northern ice and get to the civilian camp they find half of the people barely alive, while others were shot before being burned in the fire. The hunt is on for a secret canister of film that both sides (American and Russian) want because it contains satellite intel on every base operated by them.

First off let me praise the WB for having an extremely clean print of the film. I watched in on DVD in HD and it’s clean and clear; no grain that stood out. This film was well taken care of.

Secondly, it’s an intriguing film to watch. If you decide to watch it do yourself a favor and view the trailer before seeing the movie because it essentially has the “backstory” you may need to understand what’s going on. Just a helpful hint.

Does the movie hold up to now? Well, it’s a good story. A little dated (it was a Cold War movie) but it’s still enjoyable. The only thing that seems somewhat “stilted” is when the Russians paratroop onto the ice to close in on the base; it seemed a little “hokey” for my tastes. As well as the Russian MiG flyovers.

Why should you watch this movie? Cold War allegory beside, two reasons to watch: Patrick McGoohan and the cinematography. I enjoyed “The Prisoner” (McGoohan’s spy series) and he made this movie in the middle of doing that. If you’re a fan, ya gotta check this one out.

The cinematography was incredible and a good portion of that was because of John Stevens. Stevens was the Second Unit Director who shot the sub under the ice scenes, as well as the crashdive and aerial views. If you love camerawork and what can be/has been done in movies, the scene where the sub is under the ice is enough alone to warrant renting this one. There is a featurette on the disc called “The Man Who Made a Difference.” It talks about Stevens and how he worked on this as well as “Grand Prix” (another good movie, especially for cinematography). Do yourself a favor and check him out on IMDB to see what other Second Unit work he’s done; you’d be surprised.

The story is okay, the acting is good, the music works, and the cinematography is the cherry on top.

My grade: B (solid)


In Passing… Karl Malden (1912-2009)



Actor Karl Malden passed away on July 1, 2009. Born Miaden George Sekulovich in Chicago, IL he was raised in Gary, IN. His father worked in the steel mills and as a milkman while his mother was a seamstress and actress. With a father who had a passion for music and acting, he quickly picked up singing and drama. He took bit parts here and there and at the age of 22 changed his name to Karl Malden. After working in the steel mills for 3 years he left and went to what would become DePaul University and took acting classes on a full scholarship where he later met his wife Mona Greenberg. He graduated in 1937 and without money or a job, moved back to his hometown. Later he traveled to the Big Apple, appearing on Broadway and meeting Elia Kazan. World War II called him into action, having him serve as a noncommissioned officer in the 8th Air Force. Returning from the War he met up with Kazan and began acting again, meeting up with then unknown Marlon Brando. His first film role was as Red in “They Knew What They Wanted” (1940) while his first TV role was on an episode of the “Ford Theatre Hour” (1949). Malden is more notable for appearing in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” (won an Oscar for) “On the Waterfront,” “One-Eyed Jacks,” and “Patton.” He starred in the TV series “The Streets of San Francisco” with Michael Douglas (1972-1977). And for 21 years he did ads for American Express, reminding you to “never leave home with it.” He died from natural causes at the age of 97.

Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

For more information check out his IMDB page at:


Movies on DVD Review: The Unborn



There should be a law against making a horror movie this boring.

Starring Odette Yustman, Gary Oldman, Meagan Good, Idris Elba, and Carla Gugino. Directed by David S. Goyer

The story: Caey Beldon (Yustman) is going for her daily run when she spots a missing glove on the pavement. She picks it up and suddenly sees a kid, who then turns into a dog with a mask of a human face on which runs into the woods. She follows it and discovers a baby fetus buried in the dirt. Bad visions, right?

Cut to Casey talking with her friend Romy (Good) about dreams. Not a lot of information there. We, the audience, come to find that Casey’s mom (Gugino) committed suicide at a local mental hospital. Aside from that we find out that she goes to college (studying what, we never know) and has a boyfriend named Mark (Cam Gigandet). More and more she’s confronted by the spirit of a dead boy, but what does it mean?

Her life is further complicated when she develops a condition in which her eyes start changing color. Afterwards she finds out that she had a twin brother who died during childbirth because the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, suffocating him.

With a lot of pouting, walking around, more pouting, and more walking around, Casey digs through a box of her mother’s belongings and finds 16mm film of the mental hospital (why would someone keep that?) and a newspaper clipping about a woman who had escaped Auschwitz.

More walking and pouting as she goes to the old folks home and meets Sofi Kozma (Jane Alexander). Sofi talks with her a little bit but when shown a picture that includes the dead boy in it, she freaks and sends Casey away. Casey is surprised (as we all are) when Sofi gives a call back to Casey at midnight and invites her back to talk with her. We now learn about the dead boy: he was Sofi’s brother. It seems that he and Sofi were twins experimented on by the Nazis during WWII. Sofi’s brother died but then became possessed by a demon that tries to use twins to come into our world. “What is a twin but a reflection…?” Sofi asks (or a convenient plot device?) Sofi encourages her to find Rabbi Sendak. Another plot point: Sofi is Casey’s grandmother (which is interesting seeing as Casey’s mother was supposedly adopted. Funny how those coincidences occur…)

Casey confronts Sendak (read: more pouting) and asks him to perform an exorcism from an ancient book she stole from the library. Sendak (Oldman) has never performed an exorcism before and wants some time to think about it. The slow plodding of everything pisses off the demon who tries ramping-up the tension by killing Sofi by inhabiting the paralyzed senior resident Eli (which is the ONLY scary moment in the entire film). Then, the demon possesses a small kid who kills Romy.

Casey, Mark, and Sendak meet at a basketball court where Sendak says he’ll do an exorcism (read: “Yeah, I’m cashing a check here but I really am tired of your pouting and walking around.”) He recruits Arthur Wyndham (Elba), a man on the faith whose take on exorcisms is “non-denominational.” They, along with a crew including an EMT, travel to the mental hospital (the place where the evil is greatly concentrated) and perform an exorcism on Casey. The demon exacts his wrath and kills those without a name, limited screen time, or limited use (guess who’s left alive?)

And why, oh why, did Casey have to go through this? In one of those “Shamma-Lamma-Ding-Dong” movie twists… she’s pregnant with twins! Oh no!

The worst thing about this move (if you can get past the story/plot) is that as I’ve said earlier, it’s BORING. It’s like someone copied down the recipe for making a horror film but forget the most important ingredient of all: details. The detail of Casey being pregnant would have worked better at the beginning of the movie instead of the end, where no one really cared. In fact the movie lacks any emotional depth aside from Yustman’s constant crying. But overall, I just didn’t care nor did I find it all that scary.

And while I’m ripping into it, what was the deal with the slow-panning aerial view shots? We’re shown an aerial view of Casey’s house (insert audio BOOM), the retirement place (BOOM), the mental hospital (BOOM). Evidently evil likes heights and having its own sound effect.

Boring. Not scary. Completely B.S.

My grade: D- (It would be an F, but there’s plenty o’ Yustman walking around in undies footage)


Movies on DVD Review: The Dead Girl



Five powerful vignettes.

Starring Toni Collette, Piper Laurie, Giovanni Ribisi, Rose Byrne, James Franco, Mary Steenburgen, Bruce Davison, Marcia Gay Harden, Kerry Washington, Brittany Murphy, and Josh Brolin. Directed by Karen Moncrieff

For those of you looking for a straight-forward movie, this probably isn’t for you. Instead writer/director Karen Moncrieff presents six 15-minute films that comprise the whole.

“The Mother” – Arden (Collette) is a meek, sullen woman constantly harassed and harangued by her domineering mother (Laurie). When Arden finds the body of a dead girl on the outskirts of her property, she incurs questioning by the police and the wrath of her mom. She meets a grocery store clerk (Ribisi) and runs off with him.

“The Sister” – Leah (Byrne) is a forensics student who prepares the body of the dead girl for autopsy. She’s on antidepressants and takes counseling for the fact that her parents (Steenburgen and Davison) will not stop looking for her younger sister, who has been missing for years. She finds solace in fellow student Derek (James Franco).

“The Wife” – Mary Beth Hurt plays a woman who helps run her husband’s storage unit facility. When he goes absent and she’s forced to do his job she discovers a storage unit that has a dresser filled with bloody clothes. He returns and she tries to question him about it, as well as if she should go to the police or not.

“The Mother” – Melora (Harden) is the mother of the dead girl, Krista (Murphy). She finds her daughter’s last place of residence and meets Rosetta (Washington), her daughter’s roommate and lover. Rosetta tells her about Krista, why Krista ran away, and that Krista has a baby girl named Ashley. Melora goes to pick up Ashley from her Hispanic caregiver and tries bonding with Rosetta.

“The Dead Girl” – Krista (Murphy) is a prostitute, drug addict, and mother. She ran away from her home in Washington and lives in SoCal. After a fight with her boyfriend (Brolin) to get a ride to Norwalk to drop off a plush bunny for her kid, she makes it back to her place and finds that Rosetta has been hit by her boyfriend. She takes a motorcycle, exacts revenge, and then winds up without gas on the highway. She’s picked up by Carl (Nick Searcy), the husband from “The Wife” segment.

Overall, I liked it. As I’ve said before it’s not a film whole, but the pars themselves are worth it.

My grade: B


Movie Review: Public Enemies



The timeless institution of bank robbing.

Starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Billy Crudup, and Marion Cotillard. Directed by Michael Mann

The story begins in 1933. America is in steeped in the Depression and folks are looking for “heroes” who come in the form of Chicagoland gangsters such as Al Capone, George “Babyface” Nelson and this movie’s lead, John Dillinger (Depp). We watch Dillinger and an associate walk into the Indiana State Penitentiary and bust out a few members of his gang. From there it’s on the road to more bank robberies.

Cut to Melvin Purvis (Bale), a lawman in his own right. He hunts down “Pretty Boy” Floyd and delivers a gut shot via shotgun. Purvis is so good at tracking down offenders that his boss, J. Edgar Hoover (Crudup), puts Purvis in charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau he’s trying to get Congress to recognize and help fund. Purvis accepts the job and makes Dillinger Public Enemy Number One.

Which is just fine with Dillinger who is having too much fun going from robbery to robbery. Along the way he meets, and falls in love with, Billie Frechette (Cotillard), a hat and coat-check girl at a local motel. Dillinger persists to have Billie with him and after many attempts to get away, finally concedes. Dillinger vows to protect her.

But the outside world is closing in on Dillinger. His gang is shot or captured one-by-one. Other criminal associates are going high-tech. Congress is about to pass a bill that will change the prosecution of crimes across state lines. Purvis has tapped Billie’s phone and kept her under close surveillance. Dillinger’s days as a free-wheelin’ “Robin Hood’ bank robber are numbered.

Let me mention what I liked about the movie: Mann went as far as he could to make the film feel authentic. From the radios to the phone taps, clothing to cars, Michael Mann and his crew diligently recreated mid-1930’s Chicago. The film was shot hand-held, which “amplifies” the feeling of being there. The color scheme has a sort of “O Brother, Where Art Thou” muted-down browns, blacks, and whites.

My problem with the movie is the pacing. The first hour+ is bamm-bamm-bamm-bamm-bamm-bamm. Don’t get me wrong, Mann knows how to construct an action sequence (“Heat, “Collateral”) but here it just seems too much; we as an audience don’t have time to connect to who Dillinger is aside from being a bank robber. Then again, maybe that’s all the info Mann had; I don’t know. I began liking Purvis and felt his frustration in trying to capture Dillinger using the “clean cut” officers given to him by Hoover (which were ineffective if not killed) but Dillinger came off as a cowboy that couldn’t be stopped. Maybe he was. And there was that subplot about not following Dietrich’s points, which may have kept Dillinger alive, which seemed underplayed.

In any case the second half of the movie slows down for what people know is going to happen: the assassination of Dillinger. We all seem to know more about that than the man himself. This is where we, the audience, enjoy the movie because 1) characterization and 2) empathy buildup for Dillinger’s end. “Peter Pan” has to grow up only to find that it’s too late. He tries to find a way to save the love of his life. We all know it ends at the Biograph Theater. This is the best part of the film, in my opinion.

There are scenes here and there that are notable. My favorite is when Dillinger walked into the Chicago Police Headquarters and walked around the Dillinger Division. Nice.

I’ll also throw in my two cents on the soundtrack. Great stuff. “Ten Million Slaves” by Otis Taylor was a great song to use. Check it out.

Watch for Giovanni Ribisi as Alvin Karpis and Leelee Sobieski as Polly Hamilton.

It’s a good movie that could’ve been great.

My grade: B


July Movie Releases

“Ice Age 3” – Scrat and company are back! They discover a hidden jungle world filled with dinosaurs, but that’s all I’m telling. Opens July 1, 2009

“Public Enemies” – Johnny Depp plays John Dillinger in this biopic on the gangster. Directed by Michael Mann, also starring Christian Bale. Opens July 1, 2009

“2012” – It’s not the year 2525, but it’s just as disastrous… Roland Emmerich is behind this apocalyptic movie staring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, and Oliver Platt. Opens July 10, 2009

“Bruno” – Sacha Baron Cohen is back this time as faux gay Australian fashion reporter Bruno. Opens July 10, 2009

“I Love You, Beth Cooper” – The high school valedictorian pronounces his love for “Beth Cooper” (Hayden Panettiere) who takes it upon herself to show him the night of his life. Opens July 10, 2009

“500 Days of Summer” – Zooey Deschanel doesn’t believe in love, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt falls for her anyway. Opens July 17, 2009

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” – No summary; I’ve not bothered watching any of these movies. Opens July 17, 2009

“G-Force” – A group of guinea pigs are recruited for covert government ops. Features the voices of Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Nic Cage, and Penelope Cruz. Opens July 24, 2009

“The Ugly Truth” – Gerard Butler is a chauvinistic TV host and Katherine Heigl is his new producer. He tries to help her romantically with a “new guy,” but his work has unexpected results. Opens July 24, 2009

“Aliens in the Attic” – A group of teens has to protect their vacation home from aliens who have invaded their upstairs. Stars Ashley Tisdale and Tim Meadows. Opens July 31, 2009

“Funny People” – Judd Apatow movie with Adam Sandler as a comedian who has a terminal illness and who takes Seth Rogen under his wing. Opens July 31, 2009