Movie review: 5 Star Picks from John

By , July 31, 2009

hsm2

jackandbeanstalk

Tin Man

5 stars

Glass Bottom Boat

5 stars

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

5 stars

High School Musical 2

5 stars

Flinx in Flux

5 stars

Jim Henson’s Jack And The Beanstalk : The real story

5 stars

This is a spectacular film that is well-acted, fun, and entertaining. It is a new take on an old story that starts out a little slow but builds up to an exciting conclusion. This film is rated pg and be aware that this movie is over 3 hours long.

Movie review: Shut Up and Sing

By , July 31, 2009

Shut Up and Sing
Directed by Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck, 2006

The Dixie Chicks are a polarizing force in music.  Ever since the ‘fifteen words heard ‘round the world,’ everyone has an opinion and there aren’t many people in middle. While all of this controversy is a reality, none of it affects the Chicks’ musical talent.  Love them or hate them, they can still play.

Ticket sales were slow for the Chicks’ latest tour supporting their first post-comment album, Taking the Long Way. The band was also hoping to capitalize on the release of their video documentary, Shut Up and Sing, directed by Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck.  I was pleasantly surprised. Shut Up and Sing is an entertaining look at the album making process. All the struggles and doubts showcased in the movie paid off as the Dixie Chicks swept the 2007 Grammy Awards. This movie is a must-see for any fan of the Chicks.

- Amanda

Movie review: Asylum

By , July 31, 2009

Asylum
Directed by Roy Ward Baker, 1972

I have a slight obsession with insane asylums. I gobble up books set in asylums, and I absolutely love movies where the action takes place in an asylum. So, when Asylum came out on DVD in 2006, I knew I had to check it out!

Here’s a run-down of the plot: Dr. Martin arrives at the Dunsmoor Asylum for the incurably insane to apply for an open position. He expects to be interviewed by asylum director Dr. Starr. Instead he is met by Dr. Rutherford, who explains that Dr. Starr suffered a mental breakdown and is now one of the patients. If Martin can deduce which patient is really Dr. Starr, the job is his.
Who is Dr. Starr? Is it the woman whose affair with a married man turns murderous? Is it the tailor who made a one-of-a-kind suit for a very mysterious customer, with evil results? Is it the beautiful young lady accused of murdering her brother while her nurse insists “Lucy” did it? Or is it the “doctor” whose specialty is making voodoo dolls? You’ll use your own skills of deduction as you join Dr. Martin on his quest to find the real Dr. Starr…

For fans of the Hammer horror films, good old fashioned scary stories, or if you’re like me and enjoy anything set in asylum, Asylum is the film for you!

- Crystal

Movie review: The Machinist

By , July 31, 2009

The Machinist
Directed by Brad Anderson, 2004

“It’s as if a screenplay by Franz Kafka had been filmed by Alfred Hitchcock.” This is how one review summed up The Machinist and I wholeheartedly agree. Christian Bale stars as an emaciated industrial worker who is becoming totally detached from reality. We slowly see the many elements of his nightmare existence exposed with devastating results. The film features an appropriately eerie music score by Roque Banos that perfectly evokes the spirit of Bernard Herman, Hitchcock’s favorite composer. This film is highly recommended for fans of the unusual and for me is one of the best of recent years.

- Lew

Movie review: Something New

By , July 31, 2009

Something New
Directed by Sanaa Hamri, 2006

As a rule, I don’t do romantic comedies. I never have anything in common with the characters. The romances seem forced, the breakups ridiculous, and the make-ups even more contrived. Yes, I may be a tad cynical when it comes to romance; but when I saw the trailer for Something New, something told me I should watch this movie.

Kenya McQueen is a young, professional African-American woman. She’s worked very hard to advance in a field not only saturated with men, but white men – colleagues and clients alike. She and her friends get together and talk about what it means to be single and successful black women.

Kenya decides to take a chance on being set up for a blind date. After arriving at the coffee shop, she checks out the black men, looking for the person she’s meeting. Then her date arrives… Kenya is horrified when she realizes she’s been set up with a white guy. She basically blows him off at this point, but runs into him again at a party.

Brian Kelly is a landscaper. Kenya hires him to work for her. As he transforms her disastrous backyard, Kenya is transformed too. You want these two to get together as you experience their chemistry. Brian brings out a new uninhibited side to Kenya.

Of course there is conflict, then a breakup, and eventually a make-up that occurs in this romantic comedy. But Something New addresses other very contemporary and relevant issues during this process. It features a great cast, including Blair Underwood as a wood-be suitor, and Alfre Woodard as Kenya’s mother. The soundtrack is awesome. I won’t say anything else about this movie except watch it!

- Crystal

Movie review: Dot the I

By , July 31, 2009

Dot the I
Directed by Matthew Parkhill, 2003

What a cool movie! It starts with what appears to be a typical love triangle. Imagine a young woman about to be married. She’s out on the town for her hen night (bachelorette party to most Americans). As part of the tradition, she chooses one man to share her last kiss as a free woman. This kiss plants the seed of doubt about whether she’s ready for marriage.

Just when you think the film is going to be a romantic drama, it turns into a thriller. The young lady has a tragic past. Her fiance’ is rich, but dull and controlling. And the guy with whom she shared her last free kiss doesn’t want to let her go. Dot the I is writer/director Matthew Parkhill’s feature film debut. I’ll say no more, lest I give away key points of the plot. This was one of the most refreshing movies I’ve recently watched. It stars Natalia Verbeke, James D’Arcy, and Gael Garcia Bernal, whom you may remember from The Motorcycle Diaries or Y Tu Mama Tambien.

- Crystal

Movie review: 11:14

By , July 31, 2009

11:14
Directed by Greg Marck. Starring Rachael Leigh Cook, Barbara Hershey, Patrick Swayze, and Hilary Swank. 2003

If you’re in the mood for a black comedy containing a 1/3 cup of suspense, and a teaspoon of thriller, try 11:14. The movie consists of several different stories. It starts with a young man driving down the highway drunk. It continues with a van full of kids up to mischief. Enter a cop with two prisoners in his vehicle. Switch to a teenage girl who is pregnant. But wait, I forgot to mention the man who discovers a dead body in a cemetery. Yikes! Yes, you do need to pay attention to the details, including the time when you watch this film. But I guarantee you’ll gain satisfaction when you see how everything fits into 11:14. Director Greg Marcks’ first full-length feature film is pure entertainment!

- Crystal

Movie review: The Killing

By , July 31, 2009

The Killing
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1956

Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing was his first major Hollywood film. His first two films, Fear and Desire and Killer’s Kiss, were small, independent movies. This was the first time he had a major budget ($330,000), major actors (Sterling Hayden, Jay C. Flippen, and Elisha Cook) and a major studio (United Artists). It was based on Lionel White’s novel Clean Break, and the screenplay was co-written by Jim Thompson who wrote crime novels The Grifters and The Killer Inside Me.

The story deals with a heist of a race track. Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) is the ring leader and has come up with a plan that requires spilt second timing. What makes The Killing different from other heist films are the many perspectives the story is told from. You see each story of the gang as they perform their part of the robbery. For example, you see Nikki Arane (Timothy Carey) the sharp shooter of the gang hired to assassinate a race horse to cause a distraction. In this particular episode there is an interesting exchange between Arane and a black car park attendant (James Edwards). Not only is it part of the plot but it makes an interesting comment on racism.
Another interesting aspect of The Killing is how each gang member comes undone. It comes in the form of a horseshoe, a little dog, and of course the femme fatale played to perfection by Marie Windsor.

Tragically, after Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick never made a film in black and white again. Kubrick was one of the last directors who fully exploited the process to its full advantage. Interesting note: Lucien Ballard, the director of photography, was mainly known for working in color and mainly in westerns. The Killing has a documentary-feel to it.

In conclusion, The Killing introduced to the world a great filmmaking talent. The film is still complex and compelling today.

- Bill

Movie review: 3 Quick Picks from Bill

By , July 31, 2009

The Thin Blue Line
By Morris, Errol

“If there was ever hell on earth, it’s Dallas County.”—Randall Adams Hands down, my favorite documentary. It tells the story of Randall Adams, who has been convicted and put on death row for killing a police officer in Dallas County, Texas. This documentary unfolds like a great detective novel. Philip Glass’s haunting score adds to the atmosphere. It is totally engrossing.

ofunknownOf Unknown Origin
By Cosmatos, George Pan

Bart Hughes played by Peter Weller is a man who has everything going for him. He has a job that has put him of the fast track for success, a beautiful trophy wife, and an upscale townhouse. He is a master of the rat race, then a real rat moves in and a war ensues. This clever cat and mouse (or man and rat) story is an off beat thriller that really works. It also has the scariest scene in the history of motion pictures.

aceintheholejpgAce in the Hole
By Billy Wilder

Ace in the Hole is Billy Wilder’s deeply cynical movie about the vicious world of journalism. The movie was released in 1951 and it’s still relevant today. Kirk Douglas portrays Chuck Tatum, a ruthless reporter who manipulates the events surrounding a man trapped in a mine after a cave in. This movie has some of the best dialogue ever written. It’s also one of the most uncompromising films ever made.

- Bill

Movie review: 5 Picks from Crystal

By , July 31, 2009

onceOnce
By John Carney

This Irish film which was a hit at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival plays out like an extended music video, but that’s OK. Writer/director Jim Carney conceptualized Once as a “video album.” The two stars, Glen Hansard of the Irish Band The Frames, and Czech singer/songwriter Markéta Irglová, are true musicians. Their songs transcend the film.

monstersquadThe Monster Squad
By Dekker, Fred

3 stars

All your favorite horror film characters in one movie, complete with the 1980′s style film treatment. This one is a lot of fun, especially if you’re a fan of the genre.

brokenenglishBroken English
By Cassavetes, Zoe R.

3 1/2 stars

This romantic comedy is a bit more serious than most, perhaps due to the influence of Zoe Cassavette’s father John Cassavettes’ films. Parker Posey stars as a neurotic thirty-something New Yorker who uses poor judgment when dealing with matters of the heart. Enter a carefree (and cute!) Frenchman to teach her to love herself, and the rest will fall into place. With a supporting cast that includes Zoe’s mom Gena Rowlands, Broken English is a wonderfully quirky story about modern love.

severanceSeverance

4 stars

Imagine an episode of The Office where they meet up with Leatherface during a weekend teambuilding retreat. If you can picture that, you’ve got the idea behind Severance- Horror at its most brilliant!

conversationsConversations with Other Women

3 1/2 stars

Are you a fan of romance movies? Do you have an admiration for great acting? Have you ever been to a wedding reception and felt lonely? Do you enjoy stylized cinematography? Have you ever fantasized about catching up with an old flame? Do you sometimes take chances on movies you’ve never heard of? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, this film is for you…. It stars Helena Bonham Carter as woman, Aaron Eckhart as man, and is directed by Hans Canosa.

- Crystal

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