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