Archive for August, 2007

Review: 1408

Friday, August 31st, 2007

A simple thriller-ish psychotic breakdown movie, that gets on your nerves in a good way. All about one hotel room, the 90 minute ride is just about as long as it should be. Applying the no holds barred imagination rule (as in, everything goes), the hotel room has a lot to offer, going through all the possible scary stuff the elements have to bring. Though using rule based story telling would’ve heightened the atmosphere and thriller element (see for instance The Butterfly Effect).
That said, direction is imaginitive, acting is on par (though it’s mostly a one man show, that of John Cusack), and while not all too memorable, it’s a quick rush.7+.

Review: Alpha Dog

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

This movie looks like an indie picture targeted at the youth demographics. So it’s low budget simple shots and scenery, a generally slow pace and lotsa chit-chat. Though no deeply thought-out dialogue is in play here, simple drama hits the marks here and there, throughout otherwise noisy and pretentious foulmouthed gangster-style story.
Problem must be the usually low profile director Nick Cassavetes, because too often, you will see excellent performances (for instance Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone, Anton Yelchin) but degraded to too cheesy and corny within minutes. Even Justin Timberlake has his moments (albeit those are counted in microseconds). Some stricter editing might have solved a lot of problems (though using the interview standpoint didn’t work out either), but still several acts just don’t glue well together. Basically, you’re left with the only consistent role, untarnished by the lacking editing skills, a quite remarkable and brutally fierce Ben Foster, who doesn’t even appear in the final 2 acts. As a whole, this movie is shaky at best.5½.

Review: Rescue Dawn

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Ever since Christian Bale’s role in American Psycho, I couldn’t stand him. Train wreckages like Reign of Fire and Equilibrium followed, making it even worse. The only one film changed everything, and that was 1994’s The Machinist. Ever since then, I thought he was the most dependable actor, with every role so different and well-acted, he’s probably the most under-rated actor ever. Obviously, since then I have seen most of his movies, and while not all are hits, acting is always superb.
So it is also in this movie, a true tale of imprisonment and survival. Slow and moody, while his character seems to be able to keep the spirits up, slowly declining to the end. The story itself is pretty basic, like most of these movies are, but direction is pretty powerful. Most surprising though, is Steve Zahn in a dramatic role, and pulling it off very well too.
For such a low budget movie, the visuals and atmosphere made every dollar worth its while tenfold, though it’s not a movie recommended for everyone.7+.

US Box Office

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Not bad at all, as Superbad hangs on a second week to the top spot, with $18 million. At 2, actually climbing one spot, is Bourne resurfacing with a respectable $12.4 million and a massive $185 million cume.
Dropping steadily is Rush Hour 3 with $12.3 million, just enough to hang on at number 3.
At 4 is Mr. Bean’s Holiday, already ending it’s worldwide run fairly successfully, opening with a moderate $10.1 million. Its $45 million run of the first movie might still be on target if retention holds.
Jet Li/Jason Statham starrer War earns a lowly $10 million. Actioner gains only bad critical reviews but general public rates it fair.

Review: Disturbia

Friday, August 24th, 2007

A Rear Window remake for the teen/young adults demographic, using rising star Shia LaBeouf as the male protagonist, while hottie Sara Roemer (maybe also upcoming star) takes care of the female side.
As contrived as the story might be, and too coincidental plot points fly off the screen, it’s still fun altogether. Mostly good acting, and frivolous dialogue keep the pace going. Kudos for director D.J. Caruso for excellent build-up and structure, mixing fun and thrills in an optimal ratio.8-.


Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

I know my math can be a little bit rusty, but here I have two drink, from the same company:

Vitamin C

But look at how they do THEIR math ?

US Box Office

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Superbad put a stop to the rush hour, winning the battle for the top with $33 million. Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) produced low budget comedy is beyond breaking even in its first week, a job nicely accomplished for this R rated teen comedy.
This means the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker duo has to deal with slower traffic at two, Rush Hour 3 drops some 57%, and drives in $21.4 million, and a $87.7 cume. It’s still hard to say if it will recupe its $140 million budget domestically.
Two of the best summer earners are at 3 and 4, resp. The Bourne Ultimatum with $19.9 million and The Simpsons Movie with $6.8 million, both dropping a nice 40% and some $165 million cume, but Bourne one week fresher.
At 5 is a new entry, but The Invasion didn’t really have any impact. Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake scares up an almost non-existent $5.9 million (on a modest $50 million budget).

Review: The Simpsons Movie

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

Well, this is going to be an easy review. There’s no need to talk about character development, continuity (with the TV series), visual excellence (still TV quality) or anything else, for that matter. It’s just a big TV episode, with the quality around the same level.
For me, as a movie, it’s no surprise this falls a bit short. Sure, for TV, I pick it up now and then for one or 2 episodes, and that’s it. There’s nothing really pulling me back. So as a movie, being on the same level as TV, it’s quite a shame. You will get the same non-consequential story telling (the worst type, hence the reason it’s not really attracting to me), juvenile-ish humor, depending on the viewer’s delight for Homer’s stupidity (making it both predictable and repetitive).
So, it’s easy to say, it gets boring now and then, between the hit and miss potshot jokes. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to see this, not even on DVD. Just wait for the TV airing, where it originally should belong.5½.

Review: Planet Terror

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

This is the high energy part of the Grindhouse double feature. Broken apart outside the States, we have to watch it seperately, and deal with the loss of fake trailers shot by guest directors (no need to wait for the whole credits to roll out, it’s not there). While that’s saddening news we did get one before the movie, but since we’re paying twice as much as the Americans, I’d expect all of them to be included. With that expectation out of the way, Planet Terror does terrorise you. It’s definitely a higher quality gore slasher, with the usual buckets of blood and other slimy human tissue, but also some off the charts drama and humor. It’s a nice combo, and Rodriguez makes the most of his screen time (a great contrast to his counterpart Tarantino, who wasted about 90% of his screen time). As said, for its genre it’s quite good, but as a movie itself, the enjoyment is slightly barred by the lack of indepth story telling.7+.


Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

“What kinda scary abbreviation is that ?” you might ask yourself. Don’t bother googling it. I just found out I was suffering it (guess I never looked at my arms that carefully during shower, or I just showered for the first time this summer). Either way, I needed to name it, so, in full it’s Car Driver Discoloration Syndrome.
Here’s a picture:


Basically, it’s the discoloration of the left arm (darker tone than the right arm), due to it hanging out the car window during sunny weather. I wonder if other people suffer from it too, or that I’m the only one. Maybe I should setup a discussion group, or an online forum. How to live with such a disgraceful abomination ? And if it turns out the be global, do the crazy Brits need their own abbreviation (rCDDS, as in reversed CDDS, so you know which arm is in play here) ?

US Box Office

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Hyper cop duo Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker push away the undercover one-man show this week. Rush Hour 3 didn’t suffer any traffic jams at the top, with a total income of $50.2 million. While respectable, it’s about 72% short of Rush Hour 2’s opening.
Bourne Ultimatum has to do with the runner-up spot, this week with $33.7 million, an expected 51% drop, but still a more than satisfying $132 million cume.
At the third place, The Simpsons take $11.1 million home, now crossing the $150 million total mark. At number 4 is another new release, fantasy story Stardust doesn’t magically sway people to the theatre, a somewhat disappointing $9 million for this mid-high budget movie.
Rounding out the top 5 is Underdog, staying true to its title it only gains another $6.4 million.

Review: Damages 101 – 103

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

Here’s the biggest smashing TV hit (in my opinion) of this summer. Airing on FX, where I don’t watch a lot of shows (The Shield and The Wire bored me a bit, if not irritated me to the bone), those shows are known to push the envelope.
And that’s what you have here. Intrigue, suspense and mostly, characters. Story seems unfolds on flashbacks, but it’s actually the main show. The current time actually moves slowly forward only inch by inch, so the flash-forwards combined with the backstory provide the ultimate kick.
Story surrounds a big media splashing prosecution (think Enron), and we see multiple sides of how it unfolds. Mainly the prosecutor, in the form of Glenn Close, playing one of the most vicious bitch you’ve ever seen (if you think Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada was bad, triple that). Then we have a new associate starting in the prosecutor’s office, and a mysterious bond somehow linking her with the opposite party. Combined is a dark gritty thrillery series, strong on story telling and character development and manipulation. Even if the story was bad, the character would still carry the show, that’s how good it is.

Review: Evan Almighty

Friday, August 10th, 2007

Sequel to Bruce Almighty, then headlined by Jim Carrey, we basically have the same crew behind it. Tom Shadyac is behind the camera again, but script is now under sole control of Steve Oedekerk (having 2 colleagues in Bruce).
Do we get a rehash of the first story ? Only a bit (the discovery part, of course). After that, we go a slightly different path, but it seems obvious with only one writer, sometimes he can go into a wrong direction and keep going, with no one to alert you you’re going off-road.
And that’s actually where it’s heading. The story is simplistic and predictable, and can be fully described in just one line. There’s nothing extra built around it. The jokes are also not inventive enough, nor does the drama hit any emotional strings.
Does that mean this most expensive comedy ever made is totally lost on you ? Well, there are a handful of simple jokes to laugh at, and Wanda Sykes is a riot, as always. The visual effects are also there, with a pace quick enough not to bore you. But in contrast, it’s still a bit of a disappointment.6½.

Behold a Prizewinner…

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

In reply to a comment on my previous post why I was surfing on that site. Well, I got one free lottery ticket in one of those Christmas gift packages, so I signed up and actually never took the time to sign off (write an official letter and stuff). So now, for €8.50 per month, I hope that 50% goes to good charity, as the website assures me.
But the website is up and running again, and behold this page:
Send me that prize certificate soon (the sooner the better, summer might be over before we know it), so I can collect my delicate prize, probably half a liter of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra !

Review: The Kill Point 101 – 103

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

All cable networks seem to be outputting new shows this summer, and so does Spike TV, a network I have no affinity for. Splashing with big names made me curious (Donnie Whalberg, John Leguizamo). Sure, their premier show Blade seemed high budget, but disappointed badly. Now is another chance.
Well, the result is so appalling and shocking, it might never recover from it and hence never watch a show Spike TV produces again. What we have here is highly amateur-ish, something the BBC will easily surpass in quality on an equally low budget.
So, why would I say low budget ? Well, most TV shows on any network are able to give it a film-ic quality. But this show doesn’t seem to care or they’re unable to, because they use lightweight camera’s that just don’t seem to be able to stop shaking. Lighting and sound further reveal it’s made on smaller budget than your average YouTube short. If that wasn’t horrible enough, the acting is laughable and the story and dialogue just brain damaging awful.
Stay away from this one, if you want a proper hostage situation, watch the remainder of the canceled series The Nine on ABC. At least they have everything there what they don’t have here (that included cinematography, story, acting, and everything that makes TV series great).