Tag: 2008

The Escapist, 2008

Frank Perry (Brian Cox) is a long-time convict in an Irish prison where he is ultimately meant to live out the remainder of his life. Things for him change when he learns that his daughter is having problems with drugs and he decides he must escape from prison and try to mend his relationship with her, hoping that in the process he will be able to help her stop her drug abuse. To allow this escape he enlists help from a variety of other convicts, each bringing some skill, knowledge, or other asset to help achieve their common goal of escape.

What appears at first glance to a simple movie with an almost cookie cutter plot delves into ever deeper levels of meaning, symbolism and mental states, depending heavily upon the great skill of the supporting cast.

Aside from the guards, Frank must respect the political arrangements within the prison, which revolve around a drug trade, managed by Viv Batista (Seu Jorge) and overseen by the main power within the prison, a flatly menacing inmate played exceptionally well by the now A-list actor Damian Lewis. Others join the group as the plot becomes more and more complicated, culminating in a race through the underground structures sitting beneath the prison.

So much can be said about the quality of the acting and the depth that is developed by writer/director Rupert Wyatt; from the initially simple story unfolds what can best be described as an exceptionally elegant film. The web of characters is woven with impressive skill and the movie takes on complexity and levels of meaning that are not expected from the initial framing of the plot.

Any viewer who likes good, character-driven stories will likely appreciate this movie and it is highly regarded and recommended by this reviewer.

Movies Opening March 28, 2008

1. 21

Directed by Robert Luketic who is famed for a variety of recently released terrible comedies, 21 is based on the true story of a group of MIT students who formed a group that, via mathematics and advanced card counting methods, was able to successfully beat the odds at blackjack in casinos and in doing so, make millions of dollars.  The screenplay is based on Ben Mezrich‘s book Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions and stars Laurence Fishburne, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey and Jim Sturgess.

Early press is very favorable and having seen a couple of documentaries on this group and now having it adapted into a feature film with such a cast, I expect very good things.

The MPAA has rated 21 PG-13.

2. Run Fatboy Fun

With a story by Michael Ian Black and a screenplay by Michael Ian Black and Simon Pegg, this feature film directorial debut from David Schwimmer has a very solid support system and as his writers are considered contemporary comedic geniuses and Schwimmer is famed for his comedic work on Friends, Run Fatboy Run is the story of Dennis (Simon Pegg), a fat, clueless who five years ago made the mistake of leaving his pregnant fiance Libby (Thandie Newton) five years ago and is now obsessed with winning her back.  Finding Libby has moved onto an American named Whit (Hank Azaria) Dennis makes himself a promise to finish something in his life and makes his mission to train for and then complete an upcoming marathon.

Having received two awards nominations and favorable reviews in its previous release last year and with such a comedic line-up and skilled cast, it is difficult to imagine anything but an excellent comedy coming from this film’s wide, general release.

The MPAA has rated it PG-13.

3. Stop Loss

Writer/Director Kimberly Peirce brings us the story of a highly decorated veteran of the war in Iraq played by Ryan Phillippe who makes a grand return to small town Texas.  Despite his attempts to get back into civilian life and even with the support of family and friends, he strenuously tries to adjust with his best friend, played by Channing Tatum, and just as things start to look up, the Army orders him back to another tour of duty in Iraq.  The conflict calls into question the bonds between family and friends, loyalty, love, and honor.

It has received mixed early reviews and it is unclear how Peirce, whose last directorial experience was Boys Don’t Cry in two versions: 1999 and 1995.

Stop Loss has been rated R by the MPAA.

4. Superhero Movie

Superhero Movie is a spoof of every action, adventure, and comic book movie recently made in the style of Scary Movie by writer/director Craig Mazin and featuring a great comedic cast in Tracy Morgan, Pamela Anderson, Christopher McDonald, Leslie Nielsen, Sara Paxton, and even Brent Spiner.

There’s very little buzz surrounding this movie, but it’s safe to say that if you liked Scary Movie or Scary Movie 3, or Scary Movie 4 you’ll like this movie too.

Superhero Movie has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA

5. Flawless

Experienced director of independent films Michael Radford brings us his next selection in Flawless, starring Michael Caine, Joss Ackland, Demi Moore, and Jonathan Aris.  The film is set in 1960s London where a janitor on the cusp of retirement played by Caine is able to convince a powerful female executive played by Demi Moore to conspire with him to steal diamonds from their mutual employer.

Radford‘s last really noticeable independent movie was Dancing at the Blue Iguana, which was spectacularly received by the critic community and with this cast and this story, it is likely that this movie is going to be pretty good, though probably not excellent in my opinion.  Early buzz is giving it above-average ratings, but none seem to really think of it as excellent.

Flawless is rated PG-13 by the MPAA.

Movies Opening February 8, 2008

1.  Fool’s Gold

The most well-known and predictable of this week’s releases is a romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, and Donald Sutherland.  Directed by Andy Tennant whose previous credits include Sweet Home Alabama, Fools Rush In and Hitch, this movie tells the story of a married couple who discover rumors of a missing treasure and take off in search of it and in doing so renew their strained romance.

It has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA.

2.  The Hottie and the Nottie

Director Tom Putnam teams up with Paris Hilton, Joel Moore, and many other B-list celebrities to tell the story of a young man who travels across the country to woo the woman he’s loved since he was a teenager and is then faced with the problem of her best friend who despises him.  During the course of his work to woo the woman of his dreams he is forced to re-evaluate that because of the changing relationship of him towards the best-friend.  This movie looks like something that should justifiably have gone direct-to-video and it is advisable that if you have any interest in seeing this movie, at least skip the theater and wait for its release into the video market.

It is rated PG-13 by the MPAA.

3.  Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins

Writer/director Malcolm D. Lee brings us this story of this movie after an illustrious career which has included Roll Bounce and Undercover Brother.  I wouldn’t expect much from this, but the story is said to be that a talk show host who is immensely successful in Los Angeles leaves his life to reunite with his family in the south.  The cast includes the most obvious choices for a movie with these connections, including: Martin Lawrence, Cedric the Entertaine, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Mike Epps.  Perhaps most surprising is that James Earl Jones will be playing the father and that may be enough to push this movie from a mediocre cookie-cutter of a plot into something approaching enjoyable.  I still wouldn’t get your hopes up, though.

This movie has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA.

4.  In Bruges [limited]

Initial reviews of this picture indicate that is is phenomenally good.  In Bruges, written and directed by Martin McDonagh is a crime thriller set in the Belgian city of Bruges where hit men have been sent to carry out a murder on behalf of a London gangster.    The tourism industry, Flemish charm, and well-preserved medieval architecture begin to make their time in the city quite surreal as they begin to enjoy their surroundings and have trouble remembering to complete the task which was the reason for their being sent to Bruges.  It is a darkly comic look at the lives of these two characters ensconced in a well-preserved historical setting of Europe and their development as human beings sent to do an awful thing and changed by the beauty that they encounter.  It stars Elizabeth Berrington, Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, and Brendan Gleeson and the early buzz is that this is one of the best movies to come out so far this year.  See it if you’re fortunate enough to have it released in your market!

It is rated R by the MPAA.

5.  Wild West Comedy Show [limited]

Directed by Ari Sandel Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days and 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland chronicles the journey of Vince Vaughn and other comedians as they move across the United States putting on comedy shows in 30 different venues on 30 different days and 30 different nights and includes appearances by Keir O’Donnell, Sebastian Maniscalco, Justin Long, Bret Ernst, John Caparulo, Peter Billingsley, and

Ahmed Ahmed.  There’s been very little word as to quality of this movie, but judging by the cast and the idea, I can’t imagine it won’t be at least mildly entertaining.

It has been rated R by the MPAA.

6.  The Band’s Visit [limited]

Which is also known as Bikur Ha-Tizmoret this is a highly acclaimed Israeli film from director Eran Kolirin which contains Arabic, English and Hebrew and is thus subtitled.  It tells a fish out of water story about a brass band of Egyptian policemen invited to Israel to perform who are delighted to do so, but then find themselves lost in a foreign city that is very different from what they accustomed to.  Based on its earlier releases this movie should prove to be exceptionally good, though you will need to tolerate subtitles, which I know is a frustration for some of the lazier viewers out there.

This movie is rated PG-13 by the MPAA.

7.  Spiral [Los Angeles]

Something a re-relrease is found here in this 2007 picture that is for some reason being released exclusively in Los Angeles.  This is the story of a socially dysfunctional telemarketer whose quiet, dull, and isolated life is suddenly thrown into chaos by the introduction of a new co-worker.  It is unfortunate that with the appearance of this new co-worker, voices and other malevolence begin to find their way into the character’s head and he begins a downward spiral into horror.  It features a cast of unknowns and was directed by Adam Green who has no significant films to his past credit.  Why is this movie being released in this fashion is anyone’s guess, but the buzz being generated by those who saw it in its earlier release is that it is a very watchable thriller.

It is rated PG-13 by the MPAA.

Movies Opening February 1, 2008

The Internet Movie Database reports that the following pictures will be released in the US markets on Friday, February 1, 2008.

1.  The Eye

Unfortunately this is a remake of a mediocre Hong Kong horror film of the same name.  The Eye is directed by David Moreau who is for all intents and purposes, a newcomer in the world of directing, it stars Jessica Alba, Parker Posey, and Rade Serbedzija and tells us the story of a young woman who loses her eyes and is subjected to a full eye transplant to allow her to see.  As a consequence of this transplant she is now able to see into the supernatural world, witnessing the world of death, and she must determine what this power is to be used for and what she must do to keep her sight and use it for good.

The original was good for a couple of scares, but quickly dragged massively.  Looking at the group responsible for bringing this adaption to the US, I wouldn’t expect much and this is certainly something I won’t be seeing until it reaches the video market.

The Eye is rated  PG-13 by the MPAA.

2.  Strange Wilderness

Directed by Fred Wolf, Strange Wilderness tells us the story of two hosts of an animal-themed television show who embark on a quest for bigfoot in a bid to reverse the negative trend of their ratings. With a cast of relatively unknown actors, this is Wolf’s first attempt at direction after having long written and acted in a number of terrible movies like Dickie Roberts.  This sounds like a terrible movie and without anyone attached who looks capable of adding anything special to the effort, this project seems ruined before it even begins showing in the US.

Strange Wilderness has been rated R by the MPAA.

3.  Over Her Dead Body

Eva Longoria Parker, Paul Rudd, and Stephen Root star in this 2008 movie from writer/director Jeff Lowell, previously known for a handful of television show episodes as a writer, in his premiere attempt at direction of any kind.  Over Her Dead Body is a comedy about a dead woman who haunts her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend in an attempt to prevent her from wooing her former lover.  The previews and buzz surrounding this movie lead me to be cautiously optimistic about what is to be found.  While this is a first in direction, it is not a first for Lowell in writing and with the help of a very solid cast, it’s possible, even likely, that this movie will turn out to be something worth seeing.

It is rated PG-13 by the MPAA.

4.  Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds

A confession before I begin: I have vaguely heard of Hannah Montana and that is the extent of my knowledge, though I recall having heard the show has a tremendous following among children.

Hannah Montana: The Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour sounds like a terrible idea.  It will be a wide release that will be nothing more than a 3-d look at concert footage from Hannah Montana.  I think the producers are banking on the idea that children will do anything to see Hannah Montana concerts, so by putting something like this into wide circulation, money can be made.  That’s possible, but an important consideration is how many children spend much at movie theaters.  When you consider how few do so, how unappealing this movie is to essentially everyone who isn’t a child, and the content itself, barring a miracle in the form of children’s finance, this is a flop.  Unless you’re a kid, skip it entirely.

It’s rated G by the MPAA (though that should really come as no surprise…)

5.  Sukkar banat [limited]

The first of two limited market re-releases this week is Sukkar banat. The movie is subtitled from Arabic and French and was made last year in Lebanon.  The bonus of this type of release is that seeing the ratings from the previous releases audiences it is easy to see that this movie is going to be something quite good.

Director Nadine Labaki gives this romantic comedy which tells the story of a group of five women living in Lebanon.  It promises to take comic look at an area that a lot of Westerns often think of as nothing more than warzone and may change some attitudes about that with a comic look at life, even in what may be a slightly dreary setting.

The MPAA has rated the picture PG.

6.  Trailer Park Boys: The Movie [limited]

Finally we come to the Canadian movie that was released two years ago, based on the hit Canadian comedy series.  Writer/director Mike Clattenburg brings a film adaption about the lives of a bunch of losers who live outrageous lives in a Canadian trailer park and as a result bring an absolutely hilarious situation to the screen with an incredibly entertaining and fresh comedy.

While all of the characters loved in the series return here in the film adaptation, the story centers around the boys after they get into trouble for stealing an ATM and (poorly) plan to pull a scam to steal a bunch of coins because they think they’re untraceable.  This movie is hilarious and if you like other Canadian comedy efforts, you’re going to love this one as well!

It is rated R by the MPAA.