Road to Perdition

November 30, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

Tom Hanks is a small-town gangster out to avenge the killing of his family.

This movie was so good on so many levels…good action, a riveting, edge-of-your-seat plot, bad guys you love to hate, a wonderful father and son relationship, and the dog doesn’t get killed. (I put that in for Mr. Otter, since that’s very important to him in any movie).

All the main characters are excellent, including serious honey Jude Law…amazing that they could make such a totally gorgeous guy look so scruffy and awful. And of course, Paul Newman, another serious honey, yes indeedy!

And the camerawork. Wow. And the SCORE, which is usually the kiss of death if you notice it…but this score is meant to be noticed at some points, and adds to the film instead of distracting from it.

And what would we do without Tom Hanks? Even when he falls on his face (Castaway, for instance) at least he’s trying new things, and different kinds of movies and roles. May he go on forever…our moviegoing lives would be poorer without him.

This is one of the best movies of the year, and I can say that with confidence, even though the year’s barely half over and The Two Towers isn’t out yet…go see this one, your brain will thank you for giving it something to think about for several days.

Reservoir Dogs

November 30, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

A caper flick, seen in aftermath. Brilliant.

Okay, this movie is fourteen years old, so I’m not going to bother to post a second review. But if you haven’t seen it, this review contains SPOILERS and I would hate to ruin any of it for you. So PLEASE go rent it, watch it…then come back and read the review.

This was the movie that made Tarantino a big name. And deservedly so.

Firstly, the cast is full of people who are in lots of his movies, and who (then) were known, but not NEARLY as well known as they are now: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi and Chris Penn, among others. What a great cast. And they are all at the top of their form.

In typical Tarantino style, the main characters are lowlife hoods. They are planning a heist at a jewelry store, and the movie shows the leadup and aftermath, but not the act itself…because the viewer eventually finds out everything he needs to know about that. You also have to put the story together yourself, a technique used later in Pulp Fiction, and brilliantly in both cases.

A gangster movie where the viewer actually has to THINK AND PAY ATTENTION to make sense of the plot? Unheard of! until Tarantino did it.

But the characters and their interactions are the real prize here…amazingly well drawn characters, distinct and interesting, each brought to life through a gesture, a look or a few seconds of dialogue, and some of them have secrets to hide that are not found out until later. I have to admit, the razor blade scene was almost too much for me, I was just about to look away (even the second time I saw it, recently) when the camera cut away instead. This is much more serious and believeable than Pulp Fiction, and so seems more violent…but again, classy, intelligent, and very worth watching.

Mr. Otter and I had a spirited discussion about whether Buschemi gets away at the end…Mr. Otter thinks he does, but I think the cops showed up so soon that they must have caught him. Coem on over, we’ll watch it again and debate it…


November 30, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

A “documentary” about world religion written by and starring Bill Maher

Hm. On the one hand, this is very funny, and made me laugh very hard. Maher, representing himself as part of a film company making a movie about religion, went to and interviewed (or tried to interview, he got thrown out of several places (like the Vatican) as soon as they found out who he was) a wide variety of religous groups and people. There are film clips (including one of Maher from The Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death, made me laugh hard), comments onscreen making fun of whoever is speaking (not Maher, of course), and a lot of shots of Maher in the back seat of a vehicle, talking about religion, his views on it, where they’re headed to, etc.

He even interviews his mother and sister about their family and how they were raised in regard to religion.

On the other hand, very few of the people he interviews get a fair shake. It is only a 100 minute movie, and he hits a LOT of religions and pseudo-religions and religious groups, so there isn’t a lot of time, but still. And when he does talk to people, he hardly lets them get a word in edgewise; you can tell that longer interviews were cut to make the points he wants to make and to make him funnier.

So yes, go see this; like Michael Moore’s movies, even if you hate it, it’s a good discussion starter. It’s funny, it’s short, and I do agree with a lot of what he has to say (although his final conclusion, that all religion needs to be abolished because it’s the real source of most the trouble in the world (look, I just saved you ten bucks! aren’t you glad?)) is not something I agree with; dogmatic, fundamentalist, narrowminded religious belief is wrong and bad and you should stop doing that RIGHT NOW…but there are many people with firmly held religious beliefs who have no problem with others believing what they will, do not proselytize, and are indeed firm supporters of teaching evolution in school. I’m married to one of them (Hi, honey!)

So see it, laugh, take it with a grain of salt, enjoy yourself. But this movie is too one-sided to open anyone’s eyes or change those whose minds are already made up. It’s mostly Maher’s big grandstanding vehicle. And that’s a shame, because he had some interesting points to make…and they are pretty much lost in the silliness.

Reign of Fire

November 30, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

This review contains SPOILERS.

This one was an interesting mix of dragons plus post-nuclear holocaust, which seems like the best of both worlds; for an explodo, it wasn’t bad- the acting was ok, the plot was pretty good (given the initial appearance of the dragons to jump start it) and the special effects were EXCELLENT.

The action takes place in England, and Mr. Otter and I both had problems with people running and shouting to each other in thick British accents of various kinds…we couldn’t make out half of what they were shouting, although normal speaking was fine.

Sigh. Matthew “Mr. Dimples” McConaughey used to be a honey, but I dunno, he just hasn’t had the pizzazz in the last few movies I’ve seen him in…the jury is still out on this one, I’ll let you know.

Reality Police: So the Americans show up with tanks and a helicopter in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE in England, at least 10 years after civilization as we know it has been wiped out. Where are they getting fuel? Even if gas could be stored for longer than a few weeks without going bad, there is no way they could be finding enough for that many machines away from a major industrial area…and I sure didn’t see a Shell truck following them around…

A good ‘afternoon at the movies’ flick, don’t spend too much money on it.

The Red Violin

November 30, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

One violin is traced through the years from when it was built to modern times.

I had high hopes for this one; I’m a fiddler, and it sounded good. Started off well, wanted to like it, but it kinda bogged down…totally unbelieveable, esp. the part about the couple having sex while he played the violin…I don’t think so! not even funny, just stupid.

The tarot cards telling the violin’s fortune instead of the violin maker’s wife’s fortune was an excellent plot device, and the modern stuff with Samuel L. Jackson was okay, but most of the historical vignettes were pretty pointless. Mr. Otter summed it up best: “one of those movies that sounds great over lunch, but just doesn’t work when you try to turn it into a script…”


November 30, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

From the graphic novel of the same name by Warren Ellis

It was the Movie Buddies’ turn to choose a movie, and we were told that this would be the pick. The name rang a bell, and I went into my shelves of unread graphic novels, and sure enough, I owned this one (a very short standalone series.) And it was good…but kind of serious. Hm, I thought, this movie may be a downer…ah well, we love our Movie Buddies and they always pick good stuff for us. I’ll just go with it.

And the night (and the Movie Buddies) arrived. And pizza was ordered. And we watched this movie…which I LOVED.

It’s basically the same plot as the book, but rewritten. It’s full of humor, and Old People Kicking Ass, a genre I love, especially as I…um…<euphemism>gain wisdom</euphemism>.

But seriously, this movie is full of great people- Bruce Willis, Serious Honey Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and more. It’s funny, charming, got great action and explodo, and good screenwriting. Not to mention the special effects, which are excellent.

If you’re looking for a fun explodo to settle down with, especially with buddies, you can’t go wrong with this one.

The Recruit

November 30, 2012

The Internet Movie Database       Movie Reviews

Nice young man is recruited for the CIA by Al Pacino…but what’s REALLY going on?

Sigh. OK, here’s how NOT to make an exciting adventure movie

  1. Have the mysterious guy keep telling the naive young trainee not to trust anyone. Who’s the obvious person to head the list? yup.
  2. Try to build suspense with a relationship between two people that are spying on each other. Been there, done that. And no chemistry between these two either.
  3. Put Al Pacino in it. I mean, you KNOW he’s gonna die by the end, right? no surprises there.
  4. Make the major plot point something so unbelieveable that the audience really doesn’t care if the bad guys succeed in getting the code because IT COULDN’T POSSIBLY WORK ANYWAY*.
  5. Use a lot of technojargon to disguise the fact that the actors don’t know what they’re talking about
  6. Pretty much encapsulate the whole movie, inc. major plot points, in the TRAILER, hell-OOO, I knew going into this thing exactly what was going to happen.

So anyway, I went because I knew The Beck, a real Pacino fan, would want to see this right away…and all I can say is, thank god for free movie tix, at least I didn’t spend my own money on it.

And WHAT is with Pacino’s hair? He should have won the William Shatner award for worst toupe (pronounced toop chez otter, btw, just because we like to). And if, as The Beck thinks, that’s his REAL HAIR, well, all I can say is that he makes PLENTY of money, he can start putting it where it ought to go and get a real hair stylist. Sheesh.






*OK, since you really want to know…

Reality Police: the CIA has a program that will somehow allow a computer to send a virus (I’m not making this up) through an electrical outlet, therefore allowing it to reach all the computers in the US…if the Bad Guys get it, they’ll use it and completely destroy our GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SYSTEM. You just had to scroll down, didn’t you? Aren’t you sorry you peeked?