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Showing posts from March, 2010

If You Think You're a Ten...You Are??

Movie Title: She's Out of My League (2010)
Spoilers: No

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We've seen it before. Standing in line at a checkout counter or waiting to be seated at a fancy restaurant is a couple, a mismatched couple. They stick out like a broken broom handle in a maid's closet.

She is blond or brunette, with flowing hair, well accessorized, and obviously a head-turner. Next to her is a contrasted sight, a male, a stubby little man with glasses and a squished face, maybe even an outright ugly fella. The prevailing thought: what the heck does she see in him? Maybe he's got something below deck that really anchors the ship, but you have your doubts.

To most of us, this only becomes bothersome to behold in movies or on TV, or if you have an active social life, most of it spent in clubs or bars. The "rating system" with dates is encoded into your brain like a bar code on a box of cookies at Albertsons. So you notice when the system doesn't seem to work. You don't see it often…

I Wanted More Handcuffs

Movie Title: The Bounty Hunter (2010)
Spoilers: No

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Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston star in The Bounty Hunter. Milo Boyd is a small-time bounty hunter and ex-cop with not much going for him. Nicole Hurley is an accomplished newspaper reporter who puts her career first. Everything is going well for her, right up until bad driving puts her in trouble with the law. Jumping bail, Boyd is selected to bring Nicole in when he accepts a by-chance assignment. None of this would be fascinating were it not for the fact that Nicole is Boyd's ex-wife! 

Aside from a potentially workable plotline (more on that in a moment) and some sprightly music choices, The Bounty Hunter offers no one anything they really want to see, least of all passion or chemistry or romance...you know, the things that matter most in romance movies.

The divorced can appreciate the film's serrated quality of hostile small talk between Boyd and Hurley. This film has some mean put-downs and is relentless with enough i…

Seriously, Don't Drink the Kool-Aid!

Movie Title: The Final (2010)
Spoilers: No

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The aptly titled and suspenseful The Final is a film about peer payback. Bullies beware. What it lacks in directional fortitude it partially makes up for in its timeless, theme-based value, summed up in that always appetite-stimulating word: revenge.

Lucky for it, this budget-challenged lack of cinematic confidence can never be without an inherent and primal appeal. The dialogue may scream: "Isn't it obvious we're being filmed?", but every step of the way leading up to the middle, you know something's cooking for the jerky jocks and snooty drama-queens for whom revenge is a dish best served cold.

The entire movie is the relishing extension of juvenile payback on bullies like only the picked-on can fully appreciate. Of course, kids aren't this philosophic. They don't sit down and plan something like this, not unless they take or need some really strong medication. A cruel beating is payback enough in actuality, w…

Jesus and Hotrods: My Early Years as a Believer

One Step and Then Another


It had been right at a year since converting to Christianity. I was 19 years old. Also approaching the one-year marker was my employment with Capitol Cement. This was the place where dad worked as chief accountant. He got me the job, coincidentally, right about the same time as my conversion to Christianity.

Now, almost a year had passed. I can remember thinking, “I've been here not even a year and they've already thrown me a small goodbye party. Things must be going well!” And things were going well. I was just out of high school with my first full-time job that paid enough to get a shabby efficiency apartment on the po' side of town. I was only a laborer who got to work shoveling gravel in the hot sun, but I didn't mind. I saw it as a new step until I decided the other foot was up next.

The Small Talk Will Kill You Quicker Than The Guns

Movie Title: Brooklyn's Finest (2010)
Spoilers: No

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The New York cop has by now become a clich├ęd item. New York cops get the short end of the stick in movies. They've been getting it for a while. The mostly cloudy weather, the wise Catholic priests who give hushed advice in confessionals, and the heavy New England accents that you can't miss, it’s what we’ve come to expect. Beyond that, they are portrayed as having dirty mouths and are labeled as racists, corrupted by greed.

The result is that it's hard to make a police drama based in New York and see it raise the bar. Brooklyn's Finest doesn't raise the bar. The improbable encounters and situations alone give cause for concern. The acting leaves no one impressed. Brooklyn's Finest has room for improvement. And why not start in the morality department.

If it's corrupt cops we want, why not stop having them take overt and undisguised bribes in meetings, or at least cut back on how often they do it. Talki…

This Time the Zombies are Crazy

Movie Title: The Crazies (2010)
Spoilers: No

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There are easily recognized marks of a good movie. One of them is that it has me thinking about it for a while after it is over. I may not have liked the ending. I may have gone a different route in the way the plot wrapped itself up had I directed it. I may have some lingering questions about the story, maybe even some troubling gaps that need to be filled in my head in order to feel confident recommending it. But I can't quit thinking about it. Good movies can eat at your mind.

The Crazies is one such film. Directed by Breck Eisner, it stars Timothy Olyphant as Sheriff David Dutton and Joe Anderson as Deputy Russell Clank, two men struggling to make sense of why their small and quaint Iowa town is suddenly plagued with unexplained cases of insane behavior. Mentally disconnected townspeople become heartless homicidal maniacs. The strange physiological changes are like nothing a doctor has seen. At least, not a civilian doctor, but the…

A Wolf...Man?

Movie Title: The Wolfman (2010)
Spoilers: none

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I can remember being taken to the store with mom for Halloween shopping. Candy corns were the first things thrown into the basket. Next up were the candy pumpkins. Then, it was over to the toy isle to get a new set of what I bought the year before and always managed to lose—a set of wolf fingers with claws.

I would yank the bag off the shelf and quickly stash it underneath some other groceries mom got. She would always see them at the check-out counter before it came time to pay, but she never made me put them back...except once.

You play wolfman for a few years and then something happens. Time catches up with you and makes some adjustments to your mental hardware. Suddenly, playing wolfman is not only not fun anymore, but it starts to bother you the more you think about the concept. So, you quit thinking about it, unless you happen to be a hopeless analytic. If not, you just quit playing and that's the end of it. 

To every hopeless …

The Clear Alternative to Harry Potter

Movie Title: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)
Spoilers: No

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
comes from a novel by Rick Riordan. Chris Columbus, the director of several Harry Potters, directed the movie. While both series' are aimed at building stories about ancient times, magic, and myth for young audiences, the two are not in competition. The Potter audience wants to become more intimate with the characters and the story, but with Percy, it's about the action and pacing - and believe it or not - the educational value.

It's been ten years, and a generation has grown up with Potter and the gang. They love everything and everyone to do with Potter. They've come to idolize them (while jerks like me just make obscene remarks from the sidelines about Hermiones Granger).

The telltale difference with Percy Jackson fans is that they tend to favor lightheartedness and bookoos of action over a prolonged story with more sentimentall…

Medicine is Money

Movie Title: Extraordinary Measures (2010)
Spoilers: No

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Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser play a biomedical researcher and a businessman in Extraordinary Measures. Based on the emotionally moving true story, a sharp Harvard Business School graduate (Fraser) finds two of his children on death's door due to a fatal genetic condition called Pompe disease. He travels to meet a brilliant scientist on the verge of a potential cure (Ford) in hopes of saving their lives against all odds.

The film is based on a true story, but for more than one reason. The Crowley family and those families that came together in struggle against the devastation of the disease are only half of the story. The other half is the monotonous meetings, the draining discussions, the tiring scientific minutia and finance details that had to be hashed out before a life-saving drug could ever have a chance at emerging.

The potential profitability for collecting on the sick and the dying who will pay to receive treatme…