Archive for September, 2007

Review: Knocked Up

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Coming from The 40-Year Old Virgin writer/director Judd Apatow, comes another romantic comedy. Unlike Virgin, this one seems to build upon a more realistic type of sweetness at its core, while following a pretty unsurprising story line. This movie has to have it more from lengthy dialogue instead of the usual punchlines and/or idiocy, and it seems to make a difference (though other people will think it more boring this way). Even then, Katherine Heigl is a beauty and acts well (far different than the drama role in Grey’s Anatomy), while the sometimes obnoxious Seth Rogen can play the sympathy card.7½.

TV Review – Summer roundup

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

With most series premiering this week already, it’s time for a summer roundup. Some shows already had their season finales, some are still in progress.

Psych S2 / Monk S6:
As usual with the USA network, the first half of the seasons aired, with the second half rounding out the beginning of next year. As usual both shows were funny as hell (though for both goes, the season openers were a riot, while episodes after that left you wanting for the same superb quality, but was too hard to reach).

The 4400 S4:
A great season again, with a total different tone than season before. Seems like they manage to make each season very different, but still keep the core story intact, developing characters along the way. And of course, great season finale, as usual.

The Dead Zone S6:
Following the trend of making the beginning and ending interesting, it keeps forgetting the episodes inbetween. But even with that flaw, I’ll be looking forward to season 7

Weeds S3:
Funny and dramatic at the same time, it’s a shame Mary-Louise Parker didn’t win an Emmy. Story continues on both city-wide as well as family level, and strangely enough, soft drugs is still able to be the main push for stories. Addiction alert !

Damages S1:
While the amazing tour de force (mostly Glenn Close’s and Ted Danson’s characters) shown in the first few episodes have died down a bit, it’s still a real treat, drama-wise, and each episode has real gems for moments. All the while, with so many things happening, shocking both sides, you wonder how they will ever continue this for another season, without heads rolling in the superb cast.

Big Love S2:
Another season to prove this family, bound by love, will be around for a while. Family matters continue to be interesting, and the dynamics in this Mormon family is a joy to watch.

The Closer S3:
While they seem to integrate more personal stuff (from Kyra Sedgwick’s character) into the story lines, at best it’s still a formulaic procedural.

Saving Grace S1:
Holly Hunter or not, divine help or not, it has no qualities to make this show stand out head and shoulders above any other show. It’s boring-ish dialogue and story lines, with only a few funny religious jokes now and then doesn’t quite cut it.

All in all, a pretty great summer, with the shows I like all probably greenlighted for a new season, meaning the next summer will be evenly enjoyable. Who needs sun and vacation eh ?

Review: The Brave One

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

A dark-ish drama, headlining Jodie Foster, undoubtly one of the best actresses around, but feeling a bit miscast anyway. So too is the whole cast. Script follows a bit of a traditional victim to revenge line, thought the slow transition within Foster’s character is probably the most redeeming quality of this movie. There are a few slower boring scenes too, but mostly it’s average enough to be satisfied for a one time showing.7.

US Box Office

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Milla Jovovich scares up enough zombies to reach the top spot, as Resident Evil: Extinction earns a modest 23.7 million. While seemingly okay, movies of this series proven to fall hard the following weeks, earning just above the break-even point (domestically).
Romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck, starring Jessica Alba and Dane Cook, opens at number 2 with $13.7 million. Dropping to the third place is The Brave One, earning $7.3 million. Also dropping two spots is 3:10 to Yuma, doing it with $6.2 million. Rounding out the top 5 is Eastern Promises, earning $5.6 million, probably due to its Toronto Film Festival winner status.

Review: The Bourne Ultimatum

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Somehow I didn’t have faith in the Bourne franchise anymore. The rave critical and user reviews lightened things up a bit, and now I’m convinced it’s the best in the series. Of course, it’s still not that story driven, and it has to have everything in the thrills and high pace. Matt Damon is well-suited in his character keeping the drama high onscreen, while the other actors do well with their characters (mostly non characteristic and no back story). Flashbacks and speedy spy/secret agent like conduct propels the action, hard against hard (evenly matched agents). Throw in some high speed car chases where special effects are blended to unseen subtleties, and you have a big old style action movie. I’m not sure if this formula would hold up with a fourth movie (since the end was in sight in this one), but for now, if they spin it in a new direction, I wouldn’t mind it at all.8-.

Emmy Awards

Monday, September 17th, 2007

It’s been done, votes have been cast by shady individuals, and the winners are crowned. As with every year, there’s a lot I agree with, and there’s a lot I just can’t get my head around. Here’s what I think:

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series:
Extras • HBO • BBC and HBO Entertainment
Ricky Gervais as Andy Millman

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Boston Legal • ABC • David E. Kelley Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television
James Spader as Alan Shore

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Brothers & Sisters • ABC • ABC Studios
Sally Field as Nora Walker

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series
Lost • ABC • ABC Studios
Terry O’Quinn as John Locke

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series
My Name Is Earl • NBC • Amigos de Garcia Production in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Jaime Pressly as Joy Turner

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series
Grey’s Anatomy • ABC • ABC Studios
Katherine Heigl as Isobel ‘Izzie’ Stevens

You can see why I agree with those, all receiving praise in my previous TV reviews, but it’s a short list. Which means, there’s a lot I don’t agree with. Extras was snubbed two other awards, and so was Weeds. Battlestar Galactica, Boston Legal, Heroes, Lost and Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip should’ve won some more too (though they were up against each other for Drama Series). And I still scratch my head, wondering how an awful show as 30 Rock can win the Comedy Series award. Also wondering why there’s a reality show category.
But hurting most of all, is that The Colbert Report missed out on THREE awards. One taken by his Jew rival, Jon Stewart, but no less than TWO were handed over to Tony Bennett ! With last year’s fiasco (losing against another singer, Barry Manilow) still fresh on his mind, Stephen will probably cry his eyes out on-air for a whole week.

US Box Office

Monday, September 17th, 2007

The Brave One hits the top spot on a weak box office weekend. For Jodie Foster, the $14 million opening for this drama thriller is a dip compared to her previous headlined movies. Dropping one spot is 3:10 to Yuma, $9.2 million in its second week. Following are two new releases, Billy Bob Thornton, Seann William Scott and Susan Sarandon starrer Mr. Woodcock earns $9.1 million, in a badly reviewed comedy. At 4, slaughtered by critics, is D-War (or Dragon War in full), already slain before it could rise with just $5.4 million (on a est. budget of $75 million). Rounding out the top 5 is Superbad with $5.2 million in its fifth week.

Review: Talk to Me

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

Biopic of Petey Greene, a 60-70-ties radio and TV star, depicted well by Don Cheadle. It’s a drama, but light hearted and soulful. His life seems interesting enough, but there are no real extremes. As a biopic, it’s not boring and it’s even lightly inspiring (though if biopics are your cup of tea, I’d recommend Ray or Walk the Line over this one).7-.

US Box Office

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

3:10 to Yuma, a western no less, earns the top spot this week. James Mangold directed, Russell Crowe and Christian Bale starring movie earns rave critical reviews and fares well with the general public, riding together some $14 million in a slow post-labor day week.
In its second week, and still several weeks away from the real deal, Halloween scares up $9.5 million (a heavy 65% drop).
Meanwhile at number 3, Superbad crosses the $100 million mark by adding $7.6 million in its fourth week. And at 4, heavy action flick Shoot’em Up almost doesn’t register with only $5.7 million. Rounding out the top 5 is Bourne Ultimatum with $5.67 million in its 6th week (only the sixth movie this year to stay in the top 5 after 6 weeks).

Review: Crank

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Doing a long worldwide run (already opened a year ago in the States) is a hint it might be direct-to-video (or direct-to-dvd, nowadays) quality. With no real big stars attached, headlined only by Jason Statham (and Amy Smart, the main reason why I went to see it anyway), my instinct was correct.
It’s a banal story, mainly trying to create a certain rush and non-stop action sequences, but even then, it barely holds on to your attention. Directed with an MTV videoclip style, it tries a few psychedelic effects and segues, but that’s just not good enough.
That said, it’s good for a one time showing, and I actually laughed at a few jokes.6-.

Review: Mr. Brooks

Friday, September 7th, 2007

There aren’t an awful lot of movies solely focusing on a bad guy, and there are even less with a bigger star playing the antagonist. This one is a fine balance between drama and thriller, with a only a dash of dry humor. Story actually has a handful of branches, all worked out quite well, but we are basically in Kevin Costner’s head most of the time (though there’s also a pretty strong role for Demi Moore).
Being balanced, there are no extremes on the drama side, and the same goes for the thrills. All the story lines will keep you awake for the duration, while there are a few revelations, it’s not overly shocking or dark (a la Zodiac).
So, all in all, mild, but entertaining.7½.

Review: The Lookout

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Ever since his obnoxious character in 3rd Rock From the Sun (a comedy series I totally didn’t like), Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been hammering on his indie picture career. And quite impressively so, as I’ve seen most of them (while some could be seen as boring, it was never the acting that let down).
Here’s another independent flick, and it takes time to focus it all on Joseph’s troubled character (again). Even if they do everything wrong, at least that’s done right. Luckily, story seems to progress well, and other characters, while not overly developed, are a nice throw-in. Story is a bit predictable, but it still builds up nicely.
So all in all, this could be seen as his best and most memorable indie effort yet.7½.

US Box Office

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

For a while, horror flicks were in a dip after a few years of riding high scary waves (During the days of The Ring and Saw), but it seems that dip is shortlived (only this year). Now a re-imagined (a la Batman Begins) Halloween slashes its way onto the screens with no less than $31 million. Relative new comer Rob Zombie (former heavy metal rock star) directs an even bigger Michael Myers (Tyler Mane, X-men’s Sabretooth).
Meanwhile, high school low budget comedy Superbad is heading for the $100 million mark, adding $15.6 million to a $92.4 million cume in its third week.
A new entry at 3, Balls of Fire, a spoof featuring ping pong duels inspired by Bruce Lee movies earns $14.3 million.
Rounding out the top 5 are left-overs The Bourne Ultimatum (crossing the $200 million mark in its 5th week) and Rush Hour 3 resp. with $13.2 million and $10.4 million.

Review: Hot Rod

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

One of the biggest failures this year, and I would say comedic failure in full, if only I laughed once or twice during the showing. It’s an utterly long sit through all the lame “jokes”, and it gives you time to think how such a movie would ever get approved. Will Ferrell and Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live) are producers, and they must gotten this project greenlighted when they were both drunk along with a bunch of high Paramount suits. Anyone with an IQ higher than 10 could’ve read the script and thrown it away, but no. Let’s take an SNL star along, and let’s take one who isn’t even that overly funny to begin with (Andy Samberg).
This one really has to be avoided at all cost. If you ever get into a hostage situation, and this one shows up on TV, kill yourself and your fellow hostages, because your situation couldn’t get worse, and you’d help everyone out that way.2.