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Showing posts from September, 2009

Liquid Paper for the Resumes

Movie Title: Whiteout (2009)
Spoilers: No

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An impending storm, dark skies, miles and miles of desolate surface and ferociously windy cold…that is Antarctica, the featured (and only) attraction in Dominic Sena’s Whiteout.

Kate Beckinsale plays U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko, who is on assignment in Antarctica. It’s an historic event she has on her hands. The first murder ever has occurred on the continent, a place without an official government or ruling body of lawmakers. Making matters worse, Stetko has three days to investigate and get out before an engulfing six months of blizzard darkness makes it impossible to travel to or fro. A saliently talented Tom Skerritt plays Dr. John Fury, a levelheaded doctor and Stetko's close friend.

Sena has seen, well...better...days (Swordfish, 2001, Gone in Sixty Seconds, 2000) as Whiteout boils down to being about little more than a pick-axing madman who is killing people at the South Pole (of all places, yes, the South Pole!) There’s a comple…

Not Hungry for Theta Pie

Movie Title: Sorority Row (2009)
Spoilers: No

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Coming from a Latin term that means “sister,” the word sorority is simply a reference to an organization of women. But women who (a) are young, and (b) feel the need to put Greek letters as the name of their organization are as bad as their male fraternity member counterparts.

Let’s face it; there are loads of people in this life who deserve to fall asleep at the wheel, run off the road, and slam into a tree in a drunken stupor (more power to the tree if the crash is fatal). College partiers, like investment bankers, are the worst kind. They suck. They stay out late. They keep people up at nights. They deserve what they get. Call it karma, or I don’t care what you call it. They suck.

Sorority Row sucks. Title-wise, it’s a far too obvious re-do of 1983’s The House on Sorority Row. In content, however, it’s nothing more than I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) brought back to life with fresh sets of bra-clad (and sometimes not) tits. So…

One Serving of Gluttony, Two of Imagination

Movie Title: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
Spoilers: No ---The thought of food, especially junk food, falling out of the sky and right into my lap…is there a word to describe my exhilaration at the thought? I run no risk in sharing too much about myself when I admit that I light up inside thinking of a day when tacos with extra lettuce and cheese fall from the heavens in unlimited quantities. It would truly be a “blessing” (and I say that as an unabashed atheist).Some reviewers find this gluttonous food-for-all nauseating. I can’t say I relate to that feeling when applied to this film, except on one level, which we’ll discuss in a sec. But can you imagine inventing a machine that creates food from clouds and moisture in the air? I can, and the thought isn’t too enticing when approached from a scientific point of view. Think about how clouds form because dirt particles cluster together in the air until the weight of the bundling water molecules becomes too much. Gravity gets …

Mediocrity Wins This Round

Movie Title: 9 (2009) 
Spoilers: No

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When I saw the 1990 film Edward Scissorhands, I can remember not knowing exactly what to think. Those scissor hands were made for Edward, who himself was also "made," created by his creator/father, The Inventor, who died before he could give him real hands. But he bled. Edward cut himself in one scene. He bled like a human. At the end of the day, he was human…at least he might as well have been. Having a “designed” flesh-and-blood human being was a bit disconcerting. You never get to know much about how he is what he is, and that took from the effect of the film.
Nineteen years later, I’m sitting in front of a screen taking in some incredibly well done special affects about an apocalypse-crushed world. There is so much sensory input, and every bit of it speaks to man’s fascination with doomsday phenomenon. A mechanical “beast” with a great big red eye - well after the world and all life in it seems to have been destroyed - is roaming about…

Forget Madea. Remember the Drama.

Movie Title: Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself (2009)
Spoilers: No

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There is not a single man or woman reading the words of this review who does not have someone in their life who is…for lack of a better word…pitiable, but at the same time, cherished. You and I know someone or some people who exhibit unfortunate or else deplorable characteristic(s), and yet you still have a soft spot in your heart for them. I have few such soft spots, as I do in film. Tyler Perry’s Madea character occupies one of those spots.

A 6’5 400 pound black woman with beautiful silver hair doesn’t bother me, not even when she’s a man underneath who knows how to parody black “ghetto-ness” in a way that is more effective than when Eddie Murphy takes a crack at doing the same. Madea is her own cocktail of craziness, with indomitable self-respect and anger problems: “I will hit you so hard that your cranium, your skull, and your uretha tube will be tied up together inside each other. You won’t be able to do n…

That Syrupy Silver Lining

Movie Title: Extract (2009)
Spoilers: No

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The movie (ineloquently named) Extract is about one Joel (Jason Bateman), a company owner and producer of extract (yes, like Adam’s and whatnot). He’s also a distraught husband who, in addition to having some personal struggles to overcome, has some business-related issues to work out.

Built from the ground up, Joel’s company is run by a mob of shiftless and unsatisfied employees. They aren’t well diversified. Some are racist and gossipy. Some of them are quite dumb (and some are dumber than that). But they show up to work, always with their respective personality glitches in tow, happy or not. That means you, the viewer, are in a position to be entertained by watching them—barring the astoundingly apparent need for acting lessons on the parts of some.

We’ve already mentioned Joel, a sexually frustrated man with his beautiful sweatpants-wearing wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) who is unsure about his company’s future. And you have Brian (J…

I Say "Game Over!"

Movie Title: Gamer (2009)
Spoilers: No

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It is the near-future. The place is…everywhere in the U.S.A. Society has gone the way of ancient Rome with a coliseum game-like obsession for seeing society’s outcasts fight to the bitter end in gun battles as they are controlled in a true-to-life video game. The players have complete control of the convicts. If a convict survives the bullet-flying battles with the hellishly bad odds against them, they go free (never happens). If not, they die, and the world is the better for it. This is not a simulation!

The drive for virtual reality was how it started, and then even that got old. Why virtual reality when you can have reality reality, which is better than that plain old "reality"? Why not pay off the debt that the incarcerated put on our nation’s economy by giving those who will pay for it the opportunity to take ready-to-die prisoners and let them fight it out in teams with house-leveling explosives?

Makes sense, I guess…in an Ivan The…

Coming Up Short

Movie Title: Shorts (2009)
Spoilers: No

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Shorts is a childish cinematic display that is so named for the fact that it is presented in the style of short or segmented presentations with narration by the show’s star, Toe Thompson (Jimmy Bennett).

Toe (that kid who played a young James T. Kirk in Star Trek) and his older sister Stacey Thompson (Kat Dennings) have their share of quirks like everyone else in the film, and so do their germaphobe neighbors, “Nose Noseworthy” (Jake Short) and his dad “Dr. Nose Noseworthy” (William C. Macy). They live in a community called Black Falls.

Toe is being bullied by Helvetica Black (Jolie Vanier) and her older brother Cole (Devon Gearhart). Toe’s parents (Leslie Mann and John Cryer) aren’t doing much to help things. They’re too preoccupied working for the tyrannical Mr. Black (James Spader, Boston Legal’s, “Alan Shore”), who runs a power-hungry corporation known as the Black Box Unlimited Worldwide Industries Incorporated. This madly competitive corpor…

From Those Who Failed Physics Class?

Movie Title: Final Destination IV (2009)
Spoilers: No

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It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film that takes as much teary-eyed joy in sporting outrageously improbable and brutally reckless physics as in Final Destination IV. In this world, what goes up must…keep going up? It seems the laws of physics have banded together and decided to take on a rebellious life of their own. If Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking moved into this universe, they would be considered retards.

I can just mention the word “physics” or “math” and the blood pressure of some starts to rise, but no worries. You don’t have to be a math major to see that 52 spectator deaths at a racetrack stadium from cars exploding are as horribly unlikely as they are horrible. You don’t need to have proved Fermat’s Theorem to know that chance explosions at racing events are not vengefully executed. But in The Final Destination, explosions – like the totality of the laws of cause and effect that we are shown – have a mind of their…

Take the Red Boots and Let’s Call it a Day

Movie Review: All About Steve (2009)
Spoilers: No

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The world wants to know, when is Sandra Bullock going to drop the ditzy, short skirt, clueless, giggling girl routine and resume taking on some serious roles? That’s not a rhetorical question. It’s a straight-up question that calls for a straight-up answer.

Her periodic dilly-dallying in clueless-but-positive-girl-looking-for-love roles is a crushing misuse of her talents. Look at Jean Cabot, the snobbish, well-to-do white woman who needed a friend in Crash (2004). What about Ellen Roark in A Time to Kill (1996)? These roles commanded respect. Her role in All About Steve does not, but practically begs for the arched back hurling of rotten tomatoes.

Bullock is Mary Horowitz, a crossword puzzle producer who works for the Sacramento paper. She loves her job. She’s a genius, with an uncanny ability with words, fluency in 17 languages, and an encyclopedia’s worth of mostly useless information. She wears loud, kick-ass red boots…

Michael Myers, The Genius

Movie Title: Halloween II (2009)
Spoilers: No

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The last time I picked up a knife to stab somebody was in the early 1980s. The knife was made of plastic and my attempt at killing was in good, clean Halloween fun while dressed up in a costume that consisted of army pants and a red bandana. The would-be victim of my pretend attack was an aunt. I remember her turning around and yelling at me: “Stop it!!!”

Pretend or not, that play knife sure did look like the one Michael Myers uses, the one he manages to keep in hand and never loses no matter his encounters. I was always a Jason fan, myself. But choosing between Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees is like choosing between a Mazda B-series truck and a Ford Ranger.

Both Jason and Myers are seemingly unstoppable and do not cease to surprise everyone in town by reappearing at the craziest of times—accompanied by their legends, of course. Both cover their faces and are well built. Both Jason and Michael have unhealthy fixations on their mothers, an…