netflix review: Infernal Affairs

I finally sat down and watched Infernal Affairs last night, and oh man, I can't wait for The Departed. I hate to say it, but Scorsese may be biting off more than he can chew. I mean it's hard to remake a movie unless you do it better but I fear the master himself, even with the impressive cast he put together, may not be up to the challenge.

Infernal Affairs stars Tony Leung Chui Wai and Andy Lau (who co-directs) as yin and yang; Leung plays a cop who's been undercover for ten years with the mafia and Lau plays a gangster who has infiltrated and worked his way up to a high position in the police force. Both sides learn they have a traitor in their midsts and focus all efforts toward sniffing the other sides' planted mole. The intertwined plots will confuse you, I promise but if you pay attention you will be rewarded by a well-crafted good guy-bad guy morality play.

Definitely worth renting (I may even buy it) and when The Departed comes out I will be first in line to see if Scorsese makes the story his own. I you like gangster movies or Chinese action flicks than this one's for you.


sports movie nostalgia

Disney's new film Invincible, starring Mark Wahlberg based on a real guy who went to open tryouts for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1970s is coming out today. Early buzz is that it's not too bad, similar to The Rookie and Miracle (also Disney releases).

So along that theme, I wanted to present my favorite sports movies list.

1. Raging Bull - One of my all-time favorite films, with or without the boxing.
2. Bull Durham - The best written and funniest baseball movie ever.
3. Breaking Away - Great cast and story, hey maybe Lance watched this growing up.
4. Field of Dreams - Fantastic premise and memorable writing.
5. Eight Men Out - The story of the infamous 'black sox', good companion to Field of Dreams.
6. Friday Night Lights - The ugly politics of high school football on display.
7. Major League - Second funniest baseball movie of all time, sadly too true to reality yet again.
8. White Men Can't Jump - The movie that introduced streetball to all us white kids growing up.
9. Hoop Dreams - Documentary that follows two promising high school players for four years on their heartbreaking quest to make it to the pros.
10. Million Dollar Baby - One of Clint Eastwoods' best directed films; and like all great sports movies, it's more about life in general than sports.

I know what you're thinking, where's Rocky or Hoosiers? I'm so ashamed... I've never actually sat down and watched either film.

Here's a link to the IMBD's top 50 sports movies list based on user votes so you can see where your favorites stand.

There's been a lot of buzz about the documentary Jesus Camp; how it was screened at Michael Moore's film festival after the makers tried to have it pulled from the lineup claiming they didn't want the film to be labeled too liberal, and then Moore later stating that was a shameless publicity stunt saying that the makers begged for it to be screened. Well here's the trailer for Jesus Camp, and holy crap it's scary.

You can also now see the trailer for Little Children, the latest film from the director of In The Bedroom, this one has quickly become one my biggest I-need-to-see-it movies that are coming about over the next few months (Oscar season!).

Finally, if you absolutely have to know everything about the Tom Cruise/Paramount fallout, there's a good piece that explains all involved and their likely motives.


Little Miss Sunshine review

In addition to Ricky Bobby, I was fortunate enough to have time to take in Little Miss Sunshine over the weekend. If you haven't read much about the film, let me say now that it doesn't have much to do with beauty pageants.

The title refers to the pageant that Olive, the youngest of the Hoover family, is granted entry to by way of a technicality. The family, one of the more dysfunctional and realistic ones you'll ever see on screen, puts all other crises on hold and packs up the VW Bus and leaves for California.

The opening scene where we meet all of the characters involved is almost real time and lasts close to twenty minutes; it shows the family coming together to eat dinner (something most dysfunctional families rarely do). That may sound boring but it flies right by and we learn all we need to know about each character and we crave more as the scene ends. Worthy of note, all six Hoovers are present in almost every scene, making frame composition a challenge. The rest of the movie is the family trying to stand each other in the small quarters of the bus as they race to get the pageant in time. There are many obstacles.

Standout performances include Alan Arkin as the unabashed grandfather and Steve Carell as the tormented Uncle. Like recent films such as the Squid and the Whale and the Royal Tennenbaums, Sunshine is drenched in the humor and tragedy that all families experience. This one is by far the sweeter of the three, but just as well conceived.

a sunny comedy that shines

The other two Film Narrators and I went to see Little Miss Sunshine together Sunday. I had been looking forward to the movie for a few weeks now, and my expectations were met. This is one of the best movies I've seen in months, and I am probably going to purchase it when it comes out on DVD.

An avid fan of Wes Anderson flicks, most notably The Royal Tenenbaums, I noticed some similarities right away between Sunshine and Tenenbaums. The camera angles, character development, a similar sense of humor. However, this is not an Anderson film. It was directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, a duo best known for their work doing... music videos.

This film focuses around six family members and you can't help but like each of them. The dad, played by Greg Kinnear, took a little while to warm up to, but by the end I was rooting for him as well. Toni Collette does an outstanding performance as the mother who tries to keep everything and everyone together. The son, played by relative newcomer Paul Dano, has some of the funniest lines, despite having taken a vow of silence-- oh, you'll see what I mean. Steve Carell plays an untraditional role, but shines as well.

In a movie where one bad thing happens after another to a poor family, I tend to get frustrated (I can't stand watching Meet the Parents because I just feel terrible for Ben Stiller the whole time). However, this movie keeps it on the lighter, perhaps sunnier side, and the misfortunes are bearable to watch. After all, they're doing it all for 7-year-old potential beauty queen Olive, and when you see her you'll be able to relate.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby review

So this weekend I saw Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and I'll start by saying that the title is probably the weakest aspect of the film.

First off, when I heard they were making this movie I kind of groaned. I was afraid that it just wouldn’t be any good and Will Ferrell’s film comedy career would be over. Talladega Nights is written by Ferrell and director Adam McKay, the same team behind Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy. I thought ‘How can it go wrong? I liked Anchorman’, but there was this voice in my head saying that I shouldn’t waste my time with it. Well the voice was wrong, but I think I know what it was trying to tell me: This movie is simply Anchorman on wheels.

In the film we have an arrogant, ignorant, close-minded goof who’s at the top of his game before it all comes crashing down due to a ground-breaking change that conflicts with his narrow view of reality (sound familiar?). In Anchorman it was the addition of a female to a 1970s high profile news crew, who’s an equal if not better reporter than the hero. This time it’s the appearance of a homosexual Frenchman trying to conquer NASCAR, who again appears to easily upstage our hero Ricky Bobby; semi-offensive confrontations ensue. Here’s a tip, if you like Ferrell doing his impression of the president AND you find the French accent even a little bit comical: go see this movie. The French driver in question is played by Sacha Baron Cohen, and he is hysterical.

The movie runs a little long but has a great supporting cast, many of whom get underused, too bad for them. Although Talladega Nights is not quite as laugh-out-loud funny as Anchorman, it’s a little bit smarter.

Brick review

My latest Netflix rental was the 2005 release Brick. Written and directed by Rian Johnson (his first full-length feature), the film garnered a lot of attention at last year’s Sundance Film Festival when it won the Special Jury Prize. The film is based on a very simple but unique idea. Take a genre and lift the dialogue, mood and characterizations and place it in an entirely new setting. In this case, Johnson took a typical Noir-ish, gumshoe story and set it in the present day with high school kids filling the roles of tough guys, femme fatales, gangsters and informants.
Needless to say, the concept works very well. Lead tough guy Brendan, played perfectly by Joesph Gordon-Levitt, gets a mysterious phone call from an ex-girlfriend, she sounds scared and seems to want help. He sets off to find out wants she’s gotten into and enlists the help of The Brain, a local know-it-all.
The story has its twists and turns and you have fun watching the classic roles of ‘the muscle’ and ‘crime lord’ filled by such boyish faces. My only issue with the story is that I didn’t care how it ended; it was more fun to just watch the variety of characters. It felt like they slapped on a generic Maltese Falcon like speech at the end that sort of made sense. But it is still a very well-crafted movie and I highly recommend it for fans of 30s and 40s Noir fans.

My next Netflix review will be of Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong cop thriller that Scorsese has remade and is releasing this October as "The Departed".


who's doing what and with who

They tell me it's been a week since I've updated the site. Well, here's a weeks worth of news:

Over at Yahoo Movie News they're reporting that two off my favorite directors will be working on new projects soon. Wes Anderson will start filming his latest flick The Darjeeling Limited in India starting at the end of this year. The film is yet another Anderson/Owen Wilson writing collaboration (I'm a little tired of Owen Wilson but these two do write good screenplays together). Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and Adrien Brody play three brothers on a spiritual trip to India after their father dies. Ah, another family dramedy from Anderson, I can't wait.

Also reported, Tim Burton will bring the musical Sweeney Todd to the big screen and guess who's playing the title character? Burton's go-to guy for off-the-wall characters, Johnny Depp. This should be weird and visually appealing, but we wont know if it's good until it's seen.

I've read that there will be a film adaptation of the children's book "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs". I personally remember that one well and as a child had a fear of being squashed by giant meatballs whenever it rained. This fits well with the slowly developing screen version of "Where the Wild Things Are", another of my boyhood favorites. Spike Jonze was attached to the project last I heard but it seems to be in development limbo, they don't even know if it will be CGI or live-action yet.

A short comment about another project that I would love to see actually happen. Apparently there is a Metal Gear Solid movie slated for release in 2008 by Universal Pictures. We need to write some letters because I want Universal to make this movie happen. The video games this film would be based on are more finely crafted than half of what Hollywood puts out each year. The plots, the action, the cut-scenes are flawless and on top of that the lead hero is the ultimate one-man army. And you know who would be perfect to play Solid Snake?... Hugh Jackman. I know, it would be nice to get the guy who does the voice acting for the games but you need to have a star to get something obscure like this moving. If you haven't play the games, go rent Metal Gear Solid for the playstation or Twisted Snakes for the Gamecube and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Finally, here's a story that just made me angry reading it. I wish that Bryan Singer would just have stayed on and did X-men 3, it could have been so much better than what we got this summer. I'll admit I was excited to see what he would do with Superman, but after seeing both films I was doubly disappointed. Granted, Fox could have waited a couple years and let Singer complete the trilogy after his work on Superman, but they had to get the movie out to compete with Supes. Enter Brett Ratner, the man who brought us the Rush Hour movies and a sub-par adaptation of Red Dragon (saved only by the phenomenal cast). Ratner, combined with the fact that Fox rushed through every step of the filmmaking process, directed a lack-luster, stale action movie. I don't even care if they continue the series. If they try, it won't have Singer's vision and it will be minus most of our favorite mutants. I'd rather see another Singer-directed Superman film before I watch any more X-men movies, and I don't even like Superman that much. Read the whole story and you too will be as depressed as I am right now.


live free like pirates or die hard like spiders

Here's a tentative but mostly official release schedule for the summer of 2007:

May 4: Spider-Man 3
May 18: Shrek the Third
May 25: Pirates of The Caribbean: At World's End
June 8: Ocean's Thirteen
June 15: Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer
June 22: Evan Almighty
June 29th: Live Free or Die Hard
July 4: Transformers
July 13: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
July 27: The Simpsons Movie
August 3: The Bourne Ultimatum
August 10: Rush Hour 3

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I have to say it's an impressive, yet boring lineup. Every single one of these is either the latest in a franchise; a spinoff from a previous summer movie; or based on a TV show. But again I'm torn; I actually want to see most of these movies. In fact I have a moderate to strong desire to see all of these films with the exception of Rush Hour 3, a movie I have little to no interest in seeing (which is the same way I felt about Rush Hour 2).

I guess this is the kind of stuff that we expect from summer movies (Michael Bay will never win an Oscar) but with this volume of franchise releases I don't see how any original films are going to be able to garner any mass attention, let alone any money at the box office. I guess filmmakers with fresh ideas will have to fight over the other 8 months of the year. However, as a fan of box office trends I am anxious to see how obscene the grosses generated by the month of May alone will be with the Spiderman, Shrek and Pirates threequels. For the record, the films I'm most anticipating are: Spiderman 3, The Bourne Ultimatum and Harry Potter 5.


how soon is to soon?

World Trade Center is coming out tomorrow, a release date that is a little over a month shy of the 5th anniversary of the attacks in NYC. For the paper I write for I had the opportunity last week to interview some local fire fighters and police officers and ask what they think about a 9/11 movie being made. The answers varied, as expected. Here's some of the quotes I got, for those interested:

"Personally, I have shied away from this kind of stuff," said a local fire fighter. "Even documentaries. I'm not ready for Hollywood's version either."

The fire fighter added that while it's nice to be honored by Hollywood, glorifying fire fighters and police officers hasn't really done any true service to what he and other officials do.

However, a local police officer praised the makers of World Trade Center for doing their research. Michael Pena spent time living with the Port Authority man he portrays in the film, Officer William Jimeno.

"I'll probably see it," said the police officer. "I know it was approved by some of the fire fighters and police officers involved. They're the ones who have been through the tragedy more than us as a nation... we as citizens should respect that."

I spoke with many others, but this is a sample of some of what is being said about the film. I think I'm on the fence on this one, but I'm keeping an open mind and I'll go see the movie as well.


I want to see that

Here is a little list (I know... another list) of movies coming out this year that I want to see. We'll start with what is left of this month:


World Trade Center - August 9
Yes I’m ready to see it, and then I’m going to rent United 93 when it comes out of DVD.
Idlewild - August 25
I think this movie looks like a lot fun and will showcase some great music.


This Film Is Not Yet Rated - September 1
I’ve been dying to learn the secrets of the MPAA, let’s just hope that this documentary actually delivers them.
Hollywoodland - September 8
A promising noir starring Ben Affleck as the ill-fated George Reeves and Adrien Brody as the P.I. on the case.
The Black Dahlia - September 15
This Hollywood murder mystery comes from the author of ‘L.A. Confidential’, starring Josh Hartnet and Scarlet Johansson. Directed by Brian De Palma.
The Science Of Sleep - September 15
This movie just looks cool, watch the trailer. Directed by Michel Gondry.
The U.S. Vs John Lennon - September 15
A documentary about John Lennon’s fight. Made with Yoko’s permission.
All The King’s Men - September 22
A remake of a southern political drama, starring Sean Penn and Jude Law.
Jet Li’s Fearless - September 22
Allegedly Jet Li’s final action film, guess I better go see it.
Children Of Men - September 29
A future-story with the premise being that humankind can no longer create children.


The Departed - October 6
Scorsese. Nicholson. DiCaprio. Damon. Gangsters. Crime. ‘Nuf said.
Little Children - October 6
From the director of ‘In the Bedroom’. An ensemble drama with character paths crisscrossing in both comic and tragic ways.
Running With Scissors - October 11
A boy from an unstable family is raised by his mother’s therapist.
Man Of The Year - October 13
Barry Levinson directs this story of a late-night talk show host who runs for president.
Flags Of Our Fathers - October 20
Clint Eastwood’s take on the American side of the battle of Iwo Jima.
Killshot - October 20
Adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel about a couple in the Witness Protection Agency on the run from a pair of killers.
The Prestige - October 20
Christopher Nolan directs this tale about two rival magicians at the turn of the twentieth century. Is it magic or is it real?
Babel - October 27
Tragedy hits while an American couple are on vacation, three stories from around the world woven together by the director of ‘21 Grams’.


Volver - November 3
The latest film from Pedro Almodovar about three generations of women dealing with a death in the family.
Stranger Than Fiction - November 10
Will Ferrel stars as a character in an author’s new book. However, both creator and creation seem to exist in the same reality.
Casino Royale - November 17
The origin story of the greatest film spy ever. James Bond is back and blonde in what some are calling “Bond Begins”.
Tenacious D In ‘The Pick Of Destiny’ - November 17
Tenacious D. Jack Black. Kyle. The Pick Of Destiny. Rock on.
For Your Consideration - November 17
Christopher Guest and friends take on the Awards season head-on with this Oscar spoof.
The Fountain - November 22
Darren Aronofsky directs a film that covers 1000 years of a man’s life.


Apocalypto - December 8
Mel Gibson depicts the fall of the Mayan kingdom. Yes, I know what he said and yes, I would still like to see this.
The Good German - December 8
Steven Soderbergh directs this murder mystery set in post-war Berlin.
Rocky Balboa - December 22
Sylvester Stallone is back as Rocky when a computer simulated fight between Rocky and the current champ lures the Italian Stallion out of retirement.
The Good Shephard - December 22
Robert De Niro directs and co-stars in this story about the early history of the CIA.


now in list-o-rama vision

I've been obsessing over movie lists of all sorts lately (hey we could have a 'What's you favorite movie list?' pole) and I found another one that I thoroughly enjoyed. The Top Fifty Movie Endings of All Time list! Now be careful with this one, it's full of spoilers to many great movies. So if you come to a movie you haven't seen yet, please please please, do not read the ending on the list; just skip ahead to the next film that you have seen. This was provided by one of our linked sites, Filmcritic.com they're pretty cool. And if you like lists about movies check to the right for the Film Site link and head on over there for lists upon lists on everything from actors to quotes to genres to favorites moments. That's all I've got for today, one bit of advice: if you haven't watched the trailer for Martin Scorsese's new movie The Departed then head over to Yahoo! Movies for the link to that, I think it looks really good.


the answers to life, the uni...um.. yesterday's questions

So here are my answers to the survey I posted yesterday, let me know what you guys think:

1) What film made you angry, either while watching it or in thinking about it afterward? Basic starring John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, the movie plays like an intriguing military murder mystery and then at the end plays a game on the viewer where they try to see how many twists we’re willing to put up with, beyond frustrating to accept. Then there is The Game starring Michael Douglas, whoever thought it would be cool to play this kind of joke on a man for his birthday (and film a movie around the concept) should be shot.

2) One of your favorite movie lines: "Gentlemen. You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!" from Dr. Strangelove.

3) Describe a perfect moment in a movie: The scene in Jaws when Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, and Roy Scheider are drinking, bonding and singing after a day of shark chasing and Shaw completely takes us out this story and tells another one about the USS Indianapolis that puts ice in your veins.

4) Most exotic or otherwise unusual place in which you ever saw a movie: Not really exotic but definitely unusual; I was on vacation in London when Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith came out, so my sister and I went to a midnight showing surrounded by a crowd of UK geeks followed by a very late cab ride back to the hotel with a Star Wars-loving cabbie.

5) Is it possible to know with any certainty if you could like or love someone based partially on his or her taste in movies? If so, what film might be a potential relationship deal-breaker for you, or the one that might just seal that deal? Personally I don’t think that taste in movies is everything, especially in a relationship. But I suppose I can say that I would have a hard time understanding someone if they hated Casablanca.

6) The scene you most wish you could have witnessed being filmed: The opening scene in Reservoir Dogs where they are at breakfast and talking about Madonna. However they would have had to put a muzzle on me so I could refrain from geeking out and laughing during the whole scene.

7) Ideal pairing of actors/actresses to play on-screen siblings (or parents and children): Harrison Ford and Dennis Quaid (could Indy have a brother?).

8) Your favorite movie poster/one-sheet, or the one you’d most like to own: An original 1933 King Kong one-sheet.

9) With total disregard for whether it would ever actually be considered, even in this age of movie recycling, what film exists that you feel might actually warrant a sequel, or would produce a sequel you’d actually be interested in seeing? L.A. Confidential, (yes I know the Black Dahlia is coming out soon but it’s not going to have Russell Crowe or Guy Pearce in it). I loved the atmosphere of that movie, and of that era in Hollywood and it’s so much fun to go back to that time and watch tough cops take on tougher criminals.

10) Your favorite political movie: Other than Casablanca? Dr. Strangelove and All the President’s Men.

11) Favorite special effects moment: The T-Rex fight from the original King Kong, the skeleton fight from Jason and the Argonauts, the dragon from Dragonslayer, Blade Runner’s futuristic vision of Los Angeles, and the Neo vs. 100 Smiths fight from Matrix Reloaded.

12) What is the movie you’ve encouraged more people to see than any other? The Royal Tennenbaums, everyone who has a family should see this movie.

13) Your favorite movie theater: The Arena Grand in Columbus.

14) Your favorite film made for children: The Incredibles.

15) Your favorite character name: General Jack T. Ripper.

16) Your favorite film of 1970s, -80s, -90s: The Godfather, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Silence of the Lambs.

17) Your favorite movie based on a book you’ve read: The Lord of the Rings trilogy (blasphemy, I know).

18) Your favorite book you'd like to see as a movie and who should direct and star: The Catcher in the Rye (REALLY blasphemous). Starring as Holden I would cast Jesse Eisenberg (the older brother from The Squid and the Whale) and I would have Mike Nichols direct. I can’t even begin to talk about how much this needs to be a movie and how it would be nearly impossible to pull off but would be brilliant if done correctly (Dokota Fanning may NOT play Phoebe!).

19) Describe a moment in a movie that made you weep: In 21 Grams when Naomi Watts finds out what happened to her family, and the scene in The Sixth Sense when the boy gives his mom a message from her dead mother.

20) Describe a transcendent moment in a film (a moment when you realized a film that just seemed routine or merely interesting before had become something much more): In the movie Collateral, there’s a scene at a jazz club that changes that movie for me. Everything after that point in the film has more meaning regarding the characters involved and what the film tells us about the way we live our lives and how we decide when to act upon our instincts and when we simply give in to what we believe to be inevitable.

That's it, took me a while to mull over some of the questions but it was a lot of fun, I encourage anyone to try and answer these and if you like share you answers here.


So there i was minding my own business when i realized i missed a call. It was my roommate. Now i tend to put off calling people back while i am at work for at least a half hour or so.. but i felt i should.. there seemed to be a disturbance in the force if you will. To cut to the chase, i find out that Mr. Christopher Nolan has announced the title of the new Batman, The Dark Knight. How cool is that? What i am not finding cool, and finding it harder to digest is that there is going to be an appearance of another Knight in the film from a Knights Tale, Heath Ledger who will probably sport some make-up and have a grin on his face a lot.. care to take a guess on who i am speaking of? As we all know by now the rumors surrounding the supposed role to play Joker stretched from Mark Hamill ( an obvious one to me), to .. what i just found out to day to be Paul Rubin.. LOL. In any case i am not thrilled but i will give him a chance. Also it rumored that Ryan Phillippe will portray a younger Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face) but facts are unclear as to whether they will have Dent in the 2nd film. ALSO.... there is a real big reason as to why they named it The Dark Knight. Although this is skipping around a bit, The Dark Knight Returns will be the 4th installment of the franchise. If you don’t really know what that means.. it means that Frank Miller will probably be apart of the directing (Sin City anyone?!) and there will HOPEFULLY be a Superman vs Batman battle.. oh man.. you can find all this out if you surf the WB website long enough.. anyways that’s my info for today what do you got Owen?! lol.