January 30, 2009
Albert Brooks is Woody Allen without the substance and Modern Romance is as whiny and predictable as they come. And for something touted as a romance, there is no chemistry between Brooks and leading lady Kathryn Harrold despite the latter's best effort. Skip this and watch Annie Hall for a romance that is modern even thirty years later.
January 25, 2009
For the Love of Dolly, more than being a love song to the titular singer, is a love song to the five fans who have devoted their lives and homes to her. Although Dolly Parton appears in the documentary it is through the use of digital video filmed by fans and not interviews; in fact, only one Parton-performed track is used in the movie at all (Hello God over the final credits). The fan profiles are both poignant and uplifting - two adjectives I would also use to describe the beloved singer/songwriter herself.
January 22, 2009
A Night at the Museum is first and foremost a movie for children as the story is too ridiculous and the script filled with too many plot holes to enjoy it as an adult. The special effects are decent and the obligatory romance middling but the introduction of villains halfway through the overlong film comes out of nowhere with no raison d'etre. The cameo from star Ben Stiller's real-life mom Anne Meara was my favorite part.
January 21, 2009
Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun) is often touted as Rainer Werner Fassbinder's most successful film and, with a magnificent performance by Hanna Schygulla in the title role, it most probably is. The story reminds me of about 5% of the 1945 film, Mildred Pierce which also concerns a woman working her way up the corporate ladder, so to speak, after World War II. Unlike the 1945 film though, Fassbinder has layered his story with underlying themes of post-war reconstruction and sexuality and ended the whole thing brilliantly; you'll be ruminating on this one for days.
January 20, 2009
For the Bible Tells Me So is a heartfelt documentary (with a comical nod to Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11) about Christians that have (or have had) adult gay family members and how they have (or have not) overcome feelings of homophobia. The film is poignant and forthright and a must-see for all despite it's us against them stance on biblical interpretation; fundamentalists will just rant how the interpretation presented in the film is wrong and they are right. Despite that flaw, it shines when detailing the hypocrisy of the church's love thy neighbor mantra and the humanity of the profiled families.
January 15, 2009
Just as the poster reads, Hatchet is old-school American horror - not a remake, not a sequel and not originally a Japanese film. The script is above average for the genre, there is a huge amount of blood and guts (that includes one of the most stunning horror film killings this aficionado has EVER scene) and the film has a number of cameos by actors that any horror film aficionado (like myself) would recognize. Not for everyone but those who are not everyone will definitely get a kick out of it.
January 13, 2009
I can't figure out why Pineapple Express was received by film critics so positively. It's dopey (pun intended) and rather childish and, IMHO, inferior to The 40 Year Old Virgin, an excellent film from the Judd Apatow factory. I enjoyed James Franco's performance but Seth Rogen was not seen in his best light which, as star and co-writer, makes this one much ado about nothing.
January 6, 2009
Pandora's Box is a classic, they-don't-make-them-like-that-anymore film that couples the luminous presence of Louise Brooks, the intelligent direction of Georg Wilhelm Pabst, and the artful cinematography of Günther Krampf with modern themes and a smart screenplay. For a silent film from 1929, you can't get better than this one. And, despite it's technical age, it feels younger than springtime.
January 3, 2009
Mrs. Harris is an absorbing dramatization of the events that lead up to the murder of Herman Tarnower, the Scarsdale Diet doctor, by his paramour Harris - as memorably portrayed by Ben Kingsley and Annette Benning. The events are filmed honestly with excellent realizations of Harris's mindset the night of, and Tarnower's behavior the 14 years prior to, the murder. The luminescent Mary McDonnell, the dependable Frances Fisher, the inimitable Cloris Leachman and Mrs. Harris from the network television movie made way back when, Ellen Burstyn, all show up in great cameos.