Friday, December 30, 2011

Hall Pass (2011)

Adolescent humor at its worst
A couple of married guys are given "hall passes" by their wives from marriage.  They have an entire week away from their wives to do whatever they want.  Hall Pass is the latest offering from the Farrelly Brothers, the team responsible for Dumb and Dumber, Shallow Hal, There's Something About Mary, and other slapstick comedies.  The only reason I watched this is because I was at my in-laws for Xmas and they were watching it.  About halfway through it, I started reading a book.  Consisting mostly of crude jokes about sex and bodily functions, this film feels like it stole a few of my IQ points.

Slightly amusing, but mostly offensive, Hall Pass gets 1 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Writer: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Pete Jones, Kevin Barnett
Starring: Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate
Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
Metacritic: 45 out of 100

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vampires (2009)

Twilight meets Spinal Tap
These documentary filmmakers follow a vampire family to  learn about vampire life.  Did I mention that this is also a dysfunctional vampire family?  This tongue in cheek mockumentary, set mostly in Belgium and partly in Quebec, is very refreshing especially in the face of all the serious, angsty vampire fare out there.  The film doesn't take itself or the subject too seriously.  It is a pretty dang funny film - goofy, quirky, ridiculous.

With lots of laughs, Vampires kills with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Vincent Lannoo
Writer: Vincent Lannoo, Frédérique Broos
Starring: Carlo Ferrante, Vera Van Dooren, Pierre Lognay  and Fleur Lise Heuet
Rotten Tomatoes: no review
Metacritic: no review

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Exam (2009)

Time's up, pencils down
Eight candidates competing for the same job are seated in a room for an exam. Each is given a piece of paper, a pencil, and very little instruction. Told that the first candidate to answer their question is the winner, they are given 80 minutes and the instructor leaves the room.  Each candidate turns his or her page over to find it blank. And the next two hours are pretty wild. Exam explores the limitations, possibilities, and dangers that one room can hold. I put this film right alongside Hitchcock's Rope or Rodrigo Cortés' Buried. Minimalistic and intense, this film is a great thriller which had me hooked from the opening credits.

Exam passes the test with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Stuart Hazeldine (Exam is his feature film directorial debut. He has written screenplays for Knowing with Nicholas Cage, Scott Derrickson's remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, and the upcoming screen adaptation of Milton's Paradise Lost.)
Writer: Stuart Hazeldine, Simon Garrity
Metacritic: not reviewed

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Attack the Block (2011)

Aliens don't stand a chance in the ghetto
When aliens attack a tower block (the British equivalent of the ghetto) in London, they get a rude awakening.  A group of teenagers takes it upon themselves to defend their territory no matter the cost.  Reminds me of a passage from Deadline about Oakland, CA when it was invaded with zombies "...they had a lot of places they could hole up, and they had a lot of guns.  Maybe most important of all, thanks to the gang violence I mentioned earlier, they had a lot of people who actually knew how to use the guns".  This is the kind of film I loved as a kid - a film about kids having adventures and being heroes.  Loads of fun, fast paced, full of action, and the kids save the day, Attack the Block is part Goonies, part Gremlins, and part Kick Ass and is a total good time. 

Attack the Block kicks some serious behind with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Joe Cornish
Writer: Joe Cornish
Starring: Nick Frost (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway (Clash of the Titans)
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Metacritic: 75 out of 100

Paul (2011)

Out of this world road trip
English pals Graeme and Clive (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost respectively) make their geek-dream pilgrimage to Comic Con in San Diego.  The pals then hit the road to visit 'alien' sites throughout the southwest.  They meet up with Paul, an alien who takes them on a madcap road trip fraught with rednecks, government agents, and fundamentalists.  Paul works well as a tribute to E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind with nods toward Men In Black and the Alien franchise.  Pegg and Frost have great chemistry and the film is a fun watch with a a few laugh out loud moments.  But Paul pales in comparison to Shaun of the Dead and is not quite as good as Hot Fuzz.  The film hovers mainly in the area of 'amusing'.

A fun film that falls a little flat, Paul gets an out of this world 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Greg Mottola (Superbad, Adventureland)
Writer: Nick Frost, Simon Pegg
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Jason Bateman, and appearances by Jeffrey Tambor, Jane Lynch, and Sigourney Weaver
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Metacritic: 57 out of 100

Prometheus trailer

Ridley Scott's new film Prometheus is set in the same universe as Alien.  Here's the trailer as seen on Collider:

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Nines (2007)

What the heck is going on?
Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern, Buried, Blade: Trinity) stars as three different characters alongside two other actors who also play three different characters.  Sound confusing?  It is, but in a good way.   John August (screenwriter of several Tim Burton films - Big Fish, Corpse Bride, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) tells a story of characters whose lives are intertwined.  Using the same actors for multiple roles could have been a confusing mess but August pulls it off well.  Mislabeled as a 'thriller' because it was not very thrilling.  It was however engrossing, funny, and unpredictable. 

A good film with an interesting pay-off, The Nines gets 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: John August
Writer: John August
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Hope Davis and Melissa McCarthy
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Metacritic: 52 out of 100

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ne Le Dis a Personne (Tell No One) 2006

It ain't over 'til its over
Dr Alexandre Beck's wife Margot is killed mysteriously. Eight years later he gets a cryptic email leading him to believe she is still alive. Then a video of Margot shows up in his inbox confirming that fact.  Alexandre is left trying to figure out what is happening. This is a good old-fashioned whodunit movie that twists and turns until the payoff. And the payoff is as good or better than many that I've seen. The French know how to make good movies.  They also know how to make great bread, coffee, wine, cheese, soccer players, and cyclists.  Viva la France!!!

Tell No One pays off with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Guillaume Canet
Writer: Guillaume Canet, Philippe Lefebvre,
Starring: François Cluzet, Marie-Josée Croze, (Munich, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) Kristin Scott Thomas (Mission Impossible, Gosford Park, Sarah's Key)
Metacritic: 82 out of 100

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Melancholia (2011)

Its the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)
What if a planet were to collide with Earth?  Of course that would be bring worldwide disaster.  Lars von Trier takes us into the minds of a few people as they anticipate this event.  The wedding of Justine and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) and later how Claire (her sister) deals with Justine's mental breakdown are the events through which we view this apocalyptic disaster.   Kirsten Dunst as Justine and Charlotte Gainsbourg (The Science of Sleep ) as Claire give equally stunning performances. The emotions conjured up by the actors is convincing to the point of making the viewing experience feel more like an intrusion on some of life's more intimate, painful, and embarrassing moments. And I mean that as a positive aspect of the film.  With Melancholia, von Trier gives us is a stunning viewing experience.  The intro alone is worth the price of admission and could easily stand on its on as a short film.  Lastly, I love Magnolia Pictures!

5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Lars von Trier
Writer: Lars von Trier
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgård, John Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Metacritic: 81 out of 100

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Trollhunter (2011)

The title says it all
A group of university students is tracking a suspicious character.  He doesn't want to be followed, but they keep tracking him.  They find out that he is a guy that hunts trolls.  Thus the title.  It is a 'found footage documentary' in the vein of The Blair Witch Project, or Cloverfield.  This Norwegian film is very fun to watch and very entertaining.  The gorgeous Norwegian scenery alone is worth the watch.  Another great release into the US market by Magnolia Pictures.  Destined to be a cult classic.  Troll!!!

The Trollhunter gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: André Øvredal
Writer: André Øvredal, Håvard S. Johansen
Starring: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alf Larsen, and Hans Morten Hansen
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Metacritic: 61 out of 100

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Red Cliff (2008)

Not missing much if you missed this one
I love China, having lived there for three years.  I also enjoy Chinese historical epics.  Not many countries have a history as long and rich as the Middle Kingdom does.  That history usually translates well to film.  But this particular epic falls flat.  John Woo is great, but this film has too many characters, too much melodrama, and not enough substance.  The filmmaking is high quality, the costumes and sets and are gorgeous, and the cast is great, but the story is not interesting.  And at the heart of every film, there should be a good story.  I watched the first half telling myself I'd finish it the next night, but realized I didn't care how it ended so I never finished it.  Maybe I've just seen more than my share of this type of film which were much better that this.  Side note: this film was brought to the US by Magnolia/ Magnet, one of my favorite film distributors.  They bring great indy and foreign films to the big and small screen. 

Red Cliff left me hanging with only 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: John Woo
Writer: John Woo, Khan Chan, Cheng Kuo, Heyu Sheng
Starring: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Fengyi Zhang
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Metacritic: 73 out of 100

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crazy Heart (2009)

A little help from my friends
Bad Blake is a washed up country singer who has resorted to playing in dive bars and bowling alleys to make a living.  The film shows Bad at the end of his downward spiral drinking too much, staying is ratty hotels, and living a very unglamorous life.  Circumstances lead him to see that his life needs to change and get back on track.   Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, True Grit) gives life to the role.   Maggie Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, The Dark Knight), Collin Farrell (Daredevil, Minority Report, Phone Booth) and Robert Duvall (The Godfather series, TheApostle, The Road) help to get Bad Blake on his feet again.

Crazy Heart gets a rehabilitating 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Scott Cooper
Writer: Scott Cooper, Thomas Cobb (novel)
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gylenhall, Collin Farrel, and Robert Duvall
Rotten Tomatoes:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sucker Punch (2011)

What is real?
When a young girl is delivered to an insane asylum, the lines between the real world and hallucinations become blurred.  Baby Doll and her fellow inmates hatch a plot to break out of the asylum.  They have several tasks to complete before their escape.  In Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder (300 Watchmen) gives us a story within a story within a story.  The film is beautifully shot, has a great surreal feel to it, an interesting story, and some shots that are absolutely brilliant.  It also has an awesome trailer and a great director, but in general, Sucker Punch fails to deliver. 

Sucker Punch barely misses a full impact with 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director:  Zack Snyder
Writer:  Zack Snyder & Steve Shibuya
Starring:  Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, and Carla Gugino
Rotten Tomatoes:  23%
Metacritic: 33 out of 100

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Take Shelter (2011)

Just because you're paranoid don't mean they're not after you
Curtis starts having vivid nighttime dreams and daytime visions about a storm of apocalyptic proportions.  This nightmare storm provokes people to do horrific things.  Curtis is terrified and begins preparing for this coming storm.  Everyone in his small town thinks he is crazy.  Michael Shannon does a powerful job of portraying Curtis.  He channels the terror, frustration, and desperation of the character with great power.  Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life) has a few standout moments as Curtis' wife Samantha but is otherwise just kind of there.  The feeling of the film is one of the real stars.  This simple, haunting indie thriller will make you think for a while.  It makes me think - just because people think you are crazy, that doesn't mean you are.  And just because you experience things that are outside the realm of 'normal' doesn't mean you are unbalanced and need counseling and medication.  

Take Shelter still haunts me with 4 out 5 Poblanos!

Director: Jeff Nichols
Writer: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain and Shea Whigham
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Metacritic: 85 out of 100

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Contagion (2011)

Hope you're not coming down with something
Starting off with Day 2, the viewer is thrown into a wild ride of a movie.  A super contagious disease spreads around the globe.  Steven Soderbergh's latest film gives us glimpse into what the fallout might look like.  With too many stars to list, this is a haunting reminder of how small our world has become with intercontinental air travel.  Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) and Marion Cotillard (Inception) are two of the my favorites in the apocalyptic drama.  I love the ambiguity of this film - Soderbergh leaves loose ends that the viewer can either tie up or leave untied.  And I love the payoff which brings everything full circle.

Contagion is one sick film with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law,
 Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Metacritic: 70 out of 100

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Man From Nowhere (2010)

Not just a pawn (broker)
Bin Won, seen in Mother, gives another great performance.  Cha Tae-sik is known to his neighbors as the local pawn broker, but who is he really?  When his young neighbor is kidnapped, Cha Tae-sik shows everyone he's way more than just a pawn broker.  But the real show stealer is Sae-ron Kim an 11 year old actress who puts many adult thespians to shame.  A great action movie, with great acting and solid fight sequences, especially the knife fight near the end.

Slightly melodramatic at points, but The Man from Nowhere one knocks down 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Jeong-beom Lee
Writer:  Jeong-beom Lee
Starring:  Bin Won, Thanayong Wongtrakul and Sae-ron Kim
Rotten Tomatoes:  no score yet
Metacritic: no score yet

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bunny and the Bull (2009)

Road trip!
Stephen has not left his home for over a year.   He trips down memory lane recalling the European road trip he took with his friend Bunny.  I was hooked on this one from the neatly imagined long shot opening credits.  And the rest of the film did not disappoint.  Mixing stop motion animation, live action, and creative sets we voyage across Europe with Stephen and Bunny as they meet a fiery Spanish girl, a stuffed bear, and a crazy homeless man.  Offbeat and slightly weird, this one is laugh out loud funny.  Recommended if you like anything by Michel Gondry especially The Science of Sleep

This long strange trip gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director:  Paul King
Writer:  Paul King
Starring:  Edward Hogg, Simon Farnaby and Verónica Echegui
Rotten Tomatoes:  61%
Metacritic: no ratings

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Childhood movie goodness - The Goonies

I was 11 when The Goonies came out. At the time, it may have been the greatest movie I had ever seen. The kids in the movie had adventures that I dreamed I could have.  Plus most of the kids were my age.

Seeing it as an adult, from a filmmaking standpoint, it is a genius film. The dialogue is sharp and witty and has some of the most quotable lines of all time.  Also, few films have such memorable characters - Data and his gadgets, Mikey and his inability to use the right words, Mouth and his mouth, Chunk and the truffle shuffle.  And who could ever forget Sloth? 

The kids' performances are great. The sets are great, the tone of the film, the pacing, everything about it is great. And apart from some editing and continuity issues, it is still a very well made film.  
At some point in my childhood, I recorded it from TV and would watch it a couple of times a week. I pretty much wore out that VHS tape.  At one time in my life I could recite nearly the entire movie.

 I've grown up with the actors from The Goonies and several have been in some of my favorite films - Corey Feldman in Stand By Me and The Lost Boys, Sean Astin in The Lord of the Rings, Josh Brolin in No Country for Old Men.
The Goonies is one of the greatest films from my childhood.   Goonies never say die!
Next time: Star Wars

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Back where it all began
In this latest installment of the Apes franchise, we learn the apes’ origin.  The story is decent but the writing and acting are sub-par, the score is melodramatic, and a number of the effects are less than impressive, even cheesy.  Harry Potter alum Tom Felton's accent is laughable. And what is Brian Cox doing?   But while the human talent flops, the apes are the stars of this film.  Andy Serkis shows his acting prowess in his portrayal of Caesar.  While the original films (and Tim Burton’s remake) are better than this one, this film serves the franchise by filling in some blanks in the mythology.   It could have been a good addition to the franchise if it had been done better.  As it is, this film feels underdone and unnecessary.  Speaking of the franchise, Collider reports that sequels are already in the works.  Let's hope the rest are better than this one.

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes falls flat with only 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Rupert Wyatt
Writer: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Starring: Andy Serkis, James Franco, John Lithgow, Tom Felton, Brian Cox
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Metacritic: 68 out of 100

Trailer: Melancholia

 This one comes out next month.  Gotta see it.  Read more about it at Twitch

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hanna (2011)

Raise your child up in the way she should go
Hanna has been raised in the wilderness by her father.  She can hunt, track, and fight, plus she's multilingual and very smart.  When her father presents her with a button, she declares herself ready presses it, and launches herself into the world of espionage.  Hanna is an international thriller which winds its way from Scandinavia to North Africa and across Europe.  Teenage actress Saoirse Ronan who plays Hanna holds her own next to international superstars Cate Blanchett, and Eric Bana.  Well written, very nicely shot (watch for the long shots as Eric Bana leaves the bus station), and very entertaining.

With a good mix of revenge, action, intrigue, and espionage, Hanna gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, The Soloist)
Writer: Seth Lochhead and David Farr
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, and Eric Bana.
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Metacritic: 65 out of 100

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Divide trailer

The Divide is an apocalyptic thriller and, dang, this looks like one intense movie.  Read what Twitch has to say about it and then watch the trailer.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Four Lions (2010)

Keystone cops meet the jihad
Take some jihadists, add some incompetence, and lot of cheeky British humor and the product is brilliant.  Very few films or TV shows make me laugh out loud.   This one did.  I laughed throughout the entire movie.

Full of laughs and dealing with serious issues, Four Lions gets 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director:  Christopher Morris
Writer: Christopher Morris, Simon Blackwell, Jesse Armstrong, Sam Bain
Starring: Will Adamsdale, Riz Ahmed and Adeel Akhtar
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Metacritic: 68 out of 100

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sequels drive me crazy

Ah the Sequel.  A.K.A. the Hollywood Cash Cow.  In general I dislike sequels.  Here's an entry I wrote a couple of years ago on my other blog: "ridicurous": movie pet peeves

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Enter the Void (2009)

Imagining the hereafter
French director Gaspar Noé takes us on a journey through the mind in Enter the Void. Oscar and his sister Linda live in Tokyo. Oscar is a drug dealer and user. His sister is an exotic dancer. Oscar's death and life play out before the viewer in a non-linear sequence of events. Little by little, we learn how he got to where he was in life. The film is a wild ride of a movie that showcases Noé's technical prowess - long shots, flyovers, first person POV shots - but after a while the film becomes repetitive.  45 minutes or more could have pared off to improve the pacing and make a good film into a superior one. Enter the Void loses points for repetitiveness and numerous scenes that fail to advance the story.

A mind altering 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Gaspar Noé
Writer: Gaspar Noé & Lucile Hadzihalilovic
Metacritic: 69 out of 100

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Darkest hour Trailer

The Darkest Hour is produced by Timur Bekmambetov the man behind some of my favorite films of the past few years - Night Watch, Day Watch, Wanted, and 9.  Its directed by a guy named Chris Gorak who has worked on some great films as well - Tombstone, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fight Club, Minority Report, Blade: Trinity to name a few.  This looks looks like a winner to me. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Biutiful (2010)

Beautiful disaster
Biutiful tells the heartbreaking tales of several hardworking people whose lives have gone wrong. Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Eat, Pray, Love) portrays Uxgal, a low class entrepreneur in Barcelona who employs illegal aliens to produce and sell counterfeit goods. Estranged from his wife Maramba (Maricel Álvarez), and raising their two children alone, he also happens to hear dead people. On top of all that he has cancer. Uxgal is a hard worker doing all he can to support his family. But nothing seems to be working out for him.

An engrossing tragedy with supernatural undertones, Biutiful gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Nicolás Giacobone
Starring: Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez and Hanaa Bouchaib
Metacritic: 58 out of 100

Monday, October 10, 2011

El Aura (2005)

Playing make believe
Esteban (Ricardo Darín) is a taxidermist with an active imagination and a photographic memory.  He goes on a hunting trip with a friend and ends up in some situations that he never anticipated.  There are some real money shots in this film - near the beginning when Esteban is telling his friend how he'd pull off a heist and later, the transition between him sitting in his home, in the airport lounge, on the plane, then in the jeep. 

An engrossing story, beautifully executed scenes, and superb acting give El Aura a glowing 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Fabián Bielinsky
Writer: Fabián Bielinsky
Starring: Ricardo Darín, Manuel Rodal and Dolores Fonzi
Rotten Tomatoes:  89%
Metacritic: 78 out of 100

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Tree of Life (2011)

Feeling that transcends film
Childhood memories and family tensions populate Terrance Malick's Cannes favorite.  The plot meanders through time, but emotion holds center stage.  Brad Pitt shows his acting prowess as the father of three young boys.  A great display of film as art which invokes many emotions.  Recommended if you like The Thin Red Line.

Ambitious, transcendent, thoughtful, and impacting, Malick's The Tree of Life produces 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director:  Terrance Malick
Writer:  Terrance Malick
Starring:  Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain
Rotten Tomatoes -  85%
Metacritic - 85 out of 100

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In Time trailer

Here's a movie I'm pretty stoked about, In Time.  From Andrew Niccol, the creator of The Truman Show, S1mone and Gattaca. Starring Justin TimberlakeAmanda Seyfried, and Cillian Murphy.  Read about it at /Film.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blue Valentine (2010)

Good lovin' gone bad
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams play out the story of blossoming love between Dean and Cindy.  Told with a dual time-line, the film moves back and forth between the older them and the younger them.  Both of these actors give stand out performances.

Giving us a painfully honest look at the deterioration of a relationship,  Blue Valentine wins my heart with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director:  Derek Cianfrance
Writer:  Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis
Starring:  Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams
Rotten Tomatoes -  88%
Metacritic - 81 out of 100

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mother (2009)

That's one mean mother!
When a mentally handicapped man is accused of a crime, his mother comes to his aid.  The son played by Bin Won (The Man from Nowhere) and his mother played by Hye-ja Kim give standout performances.  Mother asks the question, what lengths will a parent go to for their child?  Joon-ho Bong director of The Host brings great visuals, a great plot that twists and turns, and great acting.

This Mother earns her 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director:  Joon-ho Bong
Writer:  Joon-ho Bong, Eun-kyo Park
Starring:  Hye-ja Kim, Bin Won and Ku Jin
Rotten Tomatoes -  95%
Metacritic - 79 out of 100

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Natural City (2003)

Very life-like actors in less than life-like roles
Mankind has achieved the ability to create cyborgs with souls.  They appear humans, but are more than human.  Natural City is billed by some as one of the top foreign (non-American made) sci-fi films.  Honestly I fell asleep during this one, just for a few minutes, but still...  The rambling plot did not keep my attention.  It wasn't a bad film at all - the effects were good, the action was good, albeit confusing at points.  But Hollywood has already proven many times over that effects and explosions don't make a good movie.

2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director:  Byung-chun Min
Writer:  Byung-chun Min
Starring:  Ji-tae Yu (Oldboy), Jae-un Lee, Rin Seo
Rotten Tomatoes -  67%
Metacritic - not reviewed

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jackie Chan's new film 1911

Here's the trailer for Jackie Chan's upcoming film 1911.  Wikipedia says, "The film is a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution. It is also Jackie Chan's 100th film in his career."  Looks like a good one:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Buried (2010)

Will no one help Ryan Reynolds?
A civilian truck driver delivering supplies in Iraq is kidnapped and Buried alive.  Disoriented, Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) uses every tool at his disposal to free himself from impending doom while his captors try to milk him for ransom money.  I love the idea of imposing limitations on film making as Hitchcock did in Rope.  Spanish Director Rodrigo Cortés limits himself to a coffin and the result is stunning.  It is emotional, funny, thrilling, and just plain good.  I was hanging on every frame of this one.  Bottom line - he might be alone in a box, but Ryan Renolds needs no help.  He puts on an amazing one man show.

5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director:  Rodrigo Cortés
Writer:  Chris Sparling
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
Rotten Tomatoes -  86%
Metacritic - 65 out of 100

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Raid trailer

I mentioned Gareth Evans' new film The Raid yesterday.  Here's the trailer and a link to articles at Collider and Twitch.  If it is half as good as the trailer, it is on course to put the majority of action films to shame.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Merantau (2009)

Back to the old school future
The story has been told before - country boy goes to city, has adventures - but not with such force.  The protagonist Yuda, a student of Silat Harimau, one of Indonesia's indigenous martial arts, is on his Merantau, a kind of rite of passage for young men.  Upon reaching the big city, Yuda is propelled into the life of a girl names Astri.  After that, the action is off to the races.  With fight after great fight, the choreography and stunt work are outstanding.  This is the type of old school martial arts flick that I love - a down to earth action film in the style of Bruce Lee and early Jackie Chan.  This is a beautiful fighting style and I can't wait to see more of it in Gareth Evans' next film, The Raid. 

A butt kicking 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Gareth Evans 
Writer: Gareth Evans, Daiwanne Ralie (translation)
Starring: Iko Uwais, Sisca Jessica, Mads Koudal, Laurent Buson
Rotten Tomatoes -  60 (audience score)
Metacritic - no rating

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Intacto (2001)

Feeling Lucky?
Do some people have more luck than others?  Is luck transferable?  The Spanish film Intacto puts these questions to the test.  Players who consider themselves very lucky compete for big stakes in order to find out who has the most luck. This movie was crazy.  Good crazy.

Inatacto lucks out with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
Writers: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Andrés M. Koppel
Starring: Max von Sydow, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Eusebio Poncela, Mónica López
Rotten Tomatoes - 72%
Metacritic - 59 of 100

Monday, September 19, 2011

Carriers (2009)

Been there, done that and the second time is not a charm
A super disease has hit the world and there are very few survivors.  The survivors band together to try to stay alive.  Unoriginal, and plain boring, this disease disaster flick falls flat.  This is the 2nd time I've tried watching Carriers.  I got about 20 minutes further than before (only about 1/2 hour into the film).  And I still did not care even one bit what happened to any of the characters.

Unable to carry its own weight, Carriers comes up short with 1 out of 5 Poblanos. 

Directors:  David Pastor, Àlex Pastor
Writer:  David Pastor, Àlex Pastor
Starring: Chris Pine, etc
Rotten Tomatoes -  60%
Metacritic - no score yet with 2 critics

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Another Earth (2011)

Out of this world theme, down to earth story
While Earth 2 looms in the background throughout this science-fiction drama, the focus in Another Earth is on this earth, and on Rhoda, played convincingly by Brit Marling.  Rhoda searches out a stranger, John, played by William Mapother (Ethan from Lost) with whom she has a horrific connection.  Bad choices &  their consequences, forgiveness & reconciliation, and penance, play large roles in this human centered drama.  While this story could have been told sans Earth 2, the spector of the 2nd earth adds to the intrigue.

A very watchable and moving film that earns its 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Mike Cahill
Writer: Mike Cahill, Brit Marling
Starring: Brit Marling, William Mapother
Rotten Tomatoes - 62%
Metacritic - 66 out of 100