- W: Josh Brolin is great, but the movie is OK. It is a credit to both Josh Brolin and Oliver Stone that you leave the movie feeling a little sorry for the President. That said, you feel all 129 minutes of the movie. It just feels longer then it actually is. The movie pretty much goes along with what I think of the President: an average person with the right last name. His Presidency is what happens when “Joe Six-Pack” does become a President. Bush’s biggest mistake was surrounding himself with smart people that had a track record for making the wrong decision.
- The Dark Night: The movie lives up to the hype. This is quite possibly the grittiest superhero movie of all time, and is faithful to the tone of the Frank Miller graphic novels–if not the story. Chris Nolan’s choices of using Chicago as Gotham City and having minimal CG effects are inspired. The story is good and the acting great. Two minor negatives are the use of the Scarecrow character in the beginning of the movie–his short presence brings nothing to the movie–and the movie could have been a little shorter. Overall, though, you should watch this movie on the big screen.
- Up the Yangtze: A good documentary about life on the Yangtze River and how the Three Gorges Dam will effect it. The documentary chronicales a few different people. A poor farmer family that has to move because their home will be flooded, their daughter who gets a job on a river cruise ship, and a few others. The film does an excellant job of putting a face to people, showing the importance that is placed on education, and the anguish the poor family feels when they have to make their daughter work since they cannot afford to continue her education.
- Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian: A decent sequel to a decent movie. The Narnia movies are aimed at kids, and have enough to keep their parents entertained. The acting is OK, the story good, and the special effects much better then last time. The movie does not have to be seen in the theatre. The highlight was the main dwarf. The actor gave a really good and funny/grumpy performance.
- Captain Abu Raed (MIFF): A good Jordanian movie. It is also refreshing to see a movie that takes place in a Middle Eastern country that is about everyday life, and not social/politcal/religious issues. The movie illustrates the many things that we have in common, such as worrying about family, education, getting by. The only flaw with the movie is a time discontinuity, but I chop that up to budget constraints.
- Once Upon a Time in the West (MIFF): The is the restored print of the Sergio Leone classis. This is one of the best westerns ever made. It also has one of the most iconic shattering moments involving Henry Fonda–who is cased against type as the bad guy. The musical score and cinematography are excellant. The plot is difficult to follow, but not inconprehinsible. If you have never seen this movie, you should rent it. If you can see it on the big screen, then do it.
- No Country for Old Men: Another modern western (horror?), this time set in the 1979-80. The story keeps you involved and all the acting is Oscar worthy. Definate must see.
- There Will be Blood: A good turn of the century western. I think it will not be for everyone, but I liked it. The acting was great, from both Daniel Day Lewis & Paul Dano. Overall, a good character study.
- In the Shadow of the Moon: A great documentary. It helps show what a major accomplishment it was for man to reach the moon–especialy for someone who was not alive when it happened or was to young to remember. The director made the right decision by not having a narrator and just having the astronauts speak, as well as all the news footage of the day. It was great to see all the different personalities between the astronauts, and their different takes on the events and experiences. The never-before-seen NASA footage was also incredibable. Again, a great documentary that should be seen on the big screen.
- Show Business: A good documentary about broadway shows. The documentary covered four very different shows: “Avenue Q”, “Wicked”, “Caroline, or Change”, and “Taboo”. Highlights from “Avenue Q” was the father of one of the creators and the lead actors fake reactions to who the winner was for best male lead. From “Wicked”, just the overall depiction of what it takes to make a musical. From “Caroline, or Change”, any interview with the director. And from “Taboo”, not much really but you know that Boy George was bitter about the whole thing and you felt bad for the lead actor. One of the best reoccuring events was the critic’s dinner conversations in which they proved every stereotype true: pompous no talent know it alls, with way too much regard for themselves and their opinions.
- Milk: A really good movie; and very appropiate for the time. The movie is well directed, scripted, and acted. Gus van Sant does an excellant job recreating the time and place, as well as using archival footage. Also, he and the screenwriter do an excellant job of humanizing Dan White. Sean Penn continues to prove that he is the best actor working today, Josh Brolin continues to amaze, and James Franco does a very good job as well. The one negative is that you do not feel for any of the characters until late in the movie. But it is a small negative, go see it in the theatre. The other big positive is the movie leaves you with the feeling that you should get involved, and make your voice heard.
- Wall*E: I have been waiting for this movie for a long time. Usually, by the time I watch the movie I have built up such an expectatioin that it does not live up to my own hype. I am very happy to report that this movie more then delivered. There was nothing wrong with this it. It is perfect. Though it is rated “G” and looks to be aimed at kids, the movie will please all ages. I would even say that it will be more apprecaited by the parents and adults. The first half of the movie is a jem of an almost silent film. The second half dazzles. The story is great, the animation incredible, and you sympathize with the characters. This movie should be nominated for Best Picture, and not just in animation.
- Indiana Jones: Indy is back and looking good for 65. The movie is the least of the Indiana Jones movies. All the things are there that you want to see in the movie, but it is lacking a certain joy. That being said, the acting is good, the story OK, and the special effects not as CGIish as mentioned in reviews. Harrison Ford was a little bit too durable in a few fight scenes, but overall they aged the character well. It was good to see Karen Allen and her big smile again. The story was lacking a strong villian and suffered a few over-the-top moments. Overall, it is a “B” and should be watched on the big screen.
- Iron Man: Definately top five superhero movie of all time, and probably my third favorite after Spider-Man 2 and Batman Begins–this is saying allot since I had very little interest in watching this movie. The origin story was updated for today but remained faithful to the original. The plot was good, special effects great, and acting really good. Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Bridges were both great. The movie was both funny & serious, and kept you engaged. The only fault that I found was in the beginning edit–the story could have proceeded chronologicaly instead of having the quick flashback. Stay through the credits for the addional footage at the end. Also, cudos to the screewnwriter and Jon Favreau for their sublte/not so subtle(?) integration of SHIELD.
- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day: A good mom & popcorn movie. The movie does not make you think, nor does it want you to. The plot is funny, the acting good, and the set design great. It is a rental, but if you want to take mom out, then this is a good movie for that.
- Snow Angels (MIFF): Independant film that shows that the small town experience isn’t always what we imagine. The movie is depressing. Not as musch as “The Hours”, but it is almost there. The acting was OK, the story was good, and sometimes the directing seemed a little film schoolish. Also, I thought the story became predictable. At best, a rental.
- Persepolis: A very good adaptation of a very good graphic novel. It presents Iran, and Iranians, in a way that we are not use to. We see it through the eyes of a girl growing up through the revolution and the growth of the Islamic regime. We learn her story of being a foreigner in a far way land (Austria) and at home (when she comes back). The best adult cartoon I have watched.
- Sweeny Todd: The set design was great, the acting and singing good, and the overall story OK. I thought it was a little to gory, but that was the only negative. The movie was also much easier then the musical to follow.
- Across the Universe: Good visuals and I liked the actors singing with their unprofessional voices; but overall the movie is an “ehhh”. My favorite visuals were when JoJo the guitar player arrived in New York, and when Jude rides on the subway after losing his girl.
- Stardust: “I loved absolutley everything about that movie,” raves Edwin A. Scharlau, III. The movie is along the same vein as “The Princess Bride”, an adult fairy tail. The story and acting was very good, and special effects great. The plot is easy to follow and dialogue witty. Unlike other summer movies, this one moves along quickly and is not ass-numbingly long. On a side note, Claire Danes is looking more and more like Cate Blanchett.
- Twilight: I’ll be honest, I was apprehensive about watching this movie. On the one side it is a vampire movie, and on the other it is based on a book aimed at tween girls. My apprehension was well founded. This movie is horrible, and the blame lies with the director & script. With the exception of James, all the acting was horrible, the editing bad, make-up cheap, and the dialogue clunky. Also, I do not mind when writers mess with the vampire mythology, but having vampires that glisten like diamonds in sunlight as opposed to either experience extreme pain or being destroyed is completely ridiculous.
- The Fall: A very pretty movie that had potential, but was let down by a director who cared more about the visuals. The story is engaging but needed focus. The acting was overall good–the best being the little girl and Lee Pace, the worst being the nurse. The story does bring you in emotionally at the end. It’s a rental.
- Son of Rambow: A really cute movie about two english boys in the country who become friends despite very different backgrounds and make a short film. The kids are good actors, the story is entertaining, and you’ll leave the movie feeling good. The film is also a good nostalgia trip to the eighties, which is when it is set. My only gripe is that it could have been edited shorter.
- Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who: A very good computer animated movie for the whole family. It aims more for the younger members of the audience, but there is material for the adults. The animation is great in a cartooning type of way, the story engaging, and the characters sympathetic. I would watch it again but not own the DVD. It would be better to watch it on the big screen, but not required. The studios should learn from this movie and keep the Dr. Seuss adaptations animated and stay away from the live action and hammy actors (i.e. Mike Myers).
- Flawless (MIFF): This was the North American debut of a British film that will be widely relaeased later this year. The preview I watched misrepresented the movie. From the preview you are left to believe that this is a comedic heist movie. In reality, though there are funny moments and dialogue, the movie is played as a drama. The look of the movie is great. The story, though inplausible, is fun to follow. The acting is also very good. Both Demi Moore & Michael Caine are in good form. Do you have to watch in the theatre? Not really, but I would recomend to do so if you are interested in watching the film.
- The Spiderwick Chronicles: A very enjoyable and sometimes scary kids movie that adults will also enjoy. The movie is fast passed and keeps you entertained & engaged. Freddie Highmore and the supporting actors were very good. The story was simple and to the point, and the special effects were good.
- Atonement: A great looking movie, and well acted. There is one incredibly long tracking shot during the Dunkirk scene. The story is very good and had a good twist ending.
- Elizabeth: It’s OK. There are certain shots that look a little film schoolish, but overall the performances are very good. In the end though, it is a rental. The best I can say is that the film does a good job of showing Queen Elizabeth vulnerable,,,and she had a lot of wigs.
- Eastern Promises: Vitto Morgenson is a great actor. Though most people will think this is a very violent movie, actually it is just very graphic when there is violence. The story is well written, and a very good character study. As such, you do not have to see in on the big screen. The movie does keep you in suspense, and does not baffle you with a convoluted plot.
- Sunshine: I was really let down by this movie. What started as a psychological character study switched to a half-assed ‘Alien’ wannabee. The acting and affects are good, but the story blew.