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The Company Men (2010)
What "The Social Network" is to the younger generation...
..."The Company Men" is to people over, perhaps, the age of 40. The movie gets the details right about what it's like to suffer through unemployment when your white collar skills aren't going to help you anymore.
"The Company Men" gets the details right. The useless "out training" sessions, the huddling over a computer and a phone at the employment centre. The not being able to go home, because...what will the neighbours think? The hair dye for competing for jobs with 22-year-olds with masters degrees. It's there and it feels real. A younger colleague of mine said she found the film predictable. As drama, perhaps it is a bit. Everything does seem to get tied up in a bow in the end, but does it really? Isn't the finale, though certainly delivering a positive message, as uncertain as the rest of what has gone before?
The Shepherd (2008)
Excellent throwback to 90's Van Damme
Unlike many of his action "contemporaries" (uh, you know who) Van Damme has at least been trying to improve himself as an actor with his direct to video films, while working with better directors. Many have been attempts at something different, like the somewhat surreal "in Hell". This is applaud able, but who really wants a Van Damme movie with little or no action? The Shepherd is a throwback to his 90's films where plot was minimal and fights and other action scenes took centre stage, where everyone knew they were making a pot boiler and had fun doing it. And thank God, because while no biggie plot wise, this movie delivers everything you'd want from a Van Damme movie. Great if happily familiar martial art fights (it even opens in that old action movie stand by, a diner)lots of guns and explosions, and even a torture scene for our boy. It's also well directed, starting with a great sense of humor then turning dead serious when it needs to. The last 15 minutes or so are wall to wall boom boom.
For pure action, for what Van Damme does best, this is absolutely his most entertaining film since he went DTV.
Butterfly on a Wheel (2007)
A sorry career move for Pirece and everyone else
What a terrible disappointment. The movie wanted to be a thriller in the Hands That Rocks the Cradle or Deathtrap mode, but failed desperately. If this happened to you. you'd call the police immediately. The fact that the characters were left alone for long periods of time to escape, call police or say, go home, or at least call a **** neighbor. Yes, it all adds up in the end blah, blah, blah. But the ride should be fun as the destination in a thriller. Before you get to that twist ending, all you can do is curse at the screen at how retarded these people were being for the first 80 minutes or so. There are no "red herrings" and if there are, they aren't on screen enough to register thusly. Put it this way, the director of this film is no M.Night Shmalyn (apologies if spelling wrong).
As for Pierce Brosnan, with this and Seraphim Falls more or less going direct to DVD, I hope his next projects are not as unreleasable as this. He deserves better now that he's hung up his license to kill. The man is a fine actor. Just give him a decent script. See his self produced "Evelyn" if you don't believe me.
Let me sum it up like this. If I ever had an affair, my wife promises me she'd ruin me in every way possible: financial, familial, physical, you name the cake , it'd be smashed in my face. But I doubt she'd come up with an elaborate ruse that necessitated her wearing a red dress???? Lastly. The title. When I heard it was called Butterfly on a Wheel. It sounded really cool. But "Shattered"???? Not only generic but also not something that's gonna jump into your hands while perusing the walls of your local Blockbuster (unless you rent your videos elsewhere,in which case I applaud you.) In fact, I am going to start a thread on what this thing could have been titled.
Casino Royale (2006)
This is Bond territory previously covered
I am a long time Bond geek. I have framed posters in the house. On my honeymoon in Niagara Falls, I stopped at the MGM store and spent way too much on Bond swag. My wife has learned to live with this harmless obsession. So, this is not the mere ramblings of the uninformed. There are a number of reasons why I disliked "Casino Royale", but as most aspects of the like/dislike Craig arena have been covered ad nauseum, as have reviews of its entertainmen value, I'll confine myself to one. One of the reasons why "Casino" is being applauded is because it creates, with apparent brilliantly unpaved territory, a baseline for why Bond became the dark, cold individual he is. Ruined due to the love of a woman, hurt, damaged, etc. This created the kind of emotionally barren character who, indeed, could have a licence to kill. Four words folks: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". I'll leave it at that.
Van Helsing (2004)
I completely loved it!!!!!
This action-packed movie is to cool! brilliantly cast, especially the vampires. the way the wings and weather were made were so perfect. If you say this movie is bad you must be in another world. Van Helsing may be a rip-off of the old detective, but with a young person doing the part they can make him do a back flip. if it where the old one we would be watching an old guy putting his fingers into a cross. The surprise ending with his love dying is the perfect touch of tragedy, because all great hero's lose someone. like spider man has lost 4 girls ( 3 to many ). but anyway this movie is the best. warning: this movie is not for the faint of heart or really touchy people. please don't tell your siblings the surprise ending! my sister did the same thing and i did'nt enjoy it as much as i should have. this will stand for at least the next 10-20 years.
A History of Violence (2005)
What this suddenly reminded me of
I had a hard time with this movie because I knew I'd seen it somewhere else, just done a lot better. This is an action movie without the action sequences. This is 'The Long Kiss Goodnight'. A popcorn picture without the pretensions to greatness this one has. Cronenberg is turning into a out of touch old man who throws in snatches of tit and gore to amuse himself, and sets the villains up (the robbers in the first scene) to be just plain evil incarnate. Then has a sex scene on a stairwell because...why? He likes violence? She likes it too? The whole family is violent What? Why? Huh? Renny Harlin did it better. That's the first time in history anyone has ever said that about anything.
The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005)
Those are my nipples......somebody is going to get b****slapped....I want a date with J-Lo....DO ANY OF THESE THINGS BELONG IN A MUPPT MOVIE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!???!!?!?!?!!? The answer, of course, is no. One of the most recent examples of Hollywood decision-makers not understanding that children's films should, in fact, be geared towards children, this travesty manages to destroy two beloved childhood institutions in one fell, distasteful blow. Also, it blows! The use of CGI to create the wizard in a puppet movie is jarring and unnecessary and wrong. Turning the field of poppies into a bar called Poppyfields is wrong. Everything about this movie - especially the music and the utterly untalented Ashanti as Dorothy - is wrong.
Turning Dorothy into a ghetto girl might have worked if the movie had a good script, decent score and some semblance of likability, innocence or any sympathetic characters. Instead, it comes off as pandering to a generation with A.D.D. and appealing to the lowest common denominator in our overly-commercialized world.
Once upon a time (remember those words?) the Muppets stood for a certain standard in zany humour that could be appreciated by kids and parents alike. Perhaps the jokes were a little adult, but they were harmless, universal, timeless and could be appreciated on several levels depending on the age of the viewer. The subtlety of those days is missing in this movie in which Dorothy says that the magic shoes (silver Minoloes) make her feel sexy. Ugh! Does a 5 year-old need to know? Do I? I have loved the muppets for many years now and appreciate the contribution of such newer characters as Pepe the Prawn and Clifford. However, let's not leave behind everything that has made the muppets such a success for the past 25+ years.
Can someone please buy this franchise from Disney and fix it...please? Jim Henson is turning in his grave and, after all the years of happiness he brought to children around the world, his memory deserves better.
Be Cool (2005)
Who is this movie for?
You would assume when studio executives green light a big budget movie, they have some idea who the audience will be for it, but this is a movie that seems to have no idea of its potential audience. Instead of focusing on either the middle aged audience who, presumably, made the first one a hit, or the youth audience who will be drawn by the hip hop music and all star supporting cast, they go for both. The result can be charitably termed a cinematic bouillabaisse. Besides, would a hero who respects the Black Eyed Peas because they teamed up with Sergio Mendez really care about, or have an ear for, contemporary pop? And are other guest stars like Aerosmith even "contemporary"? The movie is trying to be all things to all demographics, and no movie can do that.
A while ago, a friend of mine met a producer who explained that a movie like "Bringing Down The House" was made because "hip hop is hot". Fine. But for a sequel to "Get Shorty"? The middling box office for "Be Cool" seems to support this. Fans of the first one were turned off by the transparent attempt to reach a teen audience.The teen audience couldn't care less about Chilli Palmer.
As for Travolta, yeah, the movie is a mess, and a failure. He walks through this movie seeming bored, almost a supporting character in his own movie amongst so many scene stealers. He's coasting on the last fumes of his "Pulp Fiction" comeback. But give him a few years. He'll lay low for awhile then come back, bigger than ever. He has a knack for winding up in truly iconic roles every 15 years or so. He'll be due again around 2009. People love this guy. It'll just take a few years and another good movie for them to remember why.
From what I've read, most of the people who have seen this show have seen it at some kind of audience testing session...which is where I saw it tonight. We were told it was shot 12 years ago and they wanted to know what we thought of Valerie Harper, because perhaps they'd come up with another show for her. However, all the questions on the audience survey were about how we liked the characters and the show itself. I can only imagine they're using this old show to weed out audiences for future surveys.
As for the show itself, it had a strong supporting cast, but conceptually,"Spin City" has been there already. As for Valarie Harper, she's fine. A sitcom perenial. Whatever the case, she'll be back in something.
Seed of Chucky (2004)
IF you think you might like this, trust me, you will!
Towards the climax of "Seed of Chucky", Chucky himself manages to subvert the ENTIRE concept of the ENTIRE series so far, and thus most films of its kind, by using simple reasoning. I have been dying to hear that from a "slasher villain" for, well...since the birth of slasher villains.
What a great time this movie is! "Bride of Chucky" reinvented what had become a dull, unscary franchaise as black comedy. "Seed" takes that ball and runs with it. Don Mancini, who created Chucky many years ago, finally gets a chance to direct and I think this film will get him jobs outside the series. He not only makes the fifth take on Chucky feel fresh- a major accomplishment in itself for any series that has gone on this long- but shows a flair for satirizing movie clichés (a certain object flies upwards towards the camera at one point and it's a gas considering how overused that shot has been in action movies of recent years)and has a strong visual sense- check out the floor of Jennifer Tilly's foyer for an unexpected laugh. And I've got to hand it to Ms.Tilly- the girl's a trooper for sure,letting herself be the butt of jokes, both cruel and crazy. This is balanced by a great scene- a lot of directors would have left it for the DVD- where she reveals that she's not the one note Hollywood caricature she's been built up to be. Add that to a gender confusion subplot, and a piss take on twelve step programs, and you've got something a hell of a lot smarter than most horror films. Hell, than most comedies.
Speaking of Hollywood, the refreshing thing for a movie that takes place there? It isn't married to tired in jokes- save for one great one for B-Movie fans- the name of Chucky and Tiffany's child- which I will leave you to discover for yourself.
"Seed" has the over the top humour of the best obnoxious comedies ("American Pie" comes to mind, but better examples probably escape me), and a surprisingly graphic amount of gore- this thing doesn't skimp on the blood. For the latter reason, no way will it cross over to a mainstream audience. It is what it is and is the most entertaining version of what it is, I think, possible.
What it all comes down to is, if you're on this page, reading reviews, you're probably a partial convert to a movie like "Seed of Chucky", and if you're wondering if you'll like it, I have to tell you, this movie doesn't skimp. It's got all the slasher movie essentials like gore and nudity, married to a crude, black, very funny sense of humour, and even some semblance of humanity.
What I'm saying is, you'll like it.
Shock Treatment (1981)
It's a comment on the whole RHPS phenomenon
"Shock Treatment", aside from being a hellava lot of fun, seems to be Richard O'Brien's dig at the whole RHPS phenomenon.
Forget about this being a RHPS sequel. It's not. The whole tone is different. RHPS was an affectionate salute to B-science fiction movies of the 50's married to the seventies punk rock movement. "Shock Treatment", if it is related to RHPS at all, is a satire of the whole RHPS fan culture. Consider: "Shock Treatment" takes place in a TV studio where the audience lives 24/7. They live for the highs received from Denton TV, yet are a pretty conservative lot on the whole. Isn't that like the typical RHPS audience where straight laced Brad and Janet types go to the show, enjoy the freakiness for two hours, then go back to their normal, suburban lives? "Shock Treatment" goes to great lengths to satirize the horrors of suburbanity, and the costumed entertainers they worship. The most blatant example? Two of the main characters, who profess to be doctors, turn out to be character actors. Character actors who have great fun in costume and in the end, drive off into the sunset, in a cool new car, back to suburban normalcy.
And you know what? I have barely scratched the surface of what makes "Shock Treatment" so clever. If you've read anything recent written about it, you know the film is a huge piss take on reality television, and a prescient(by over 20 years)parody of our current culture which makes stars of...well, whomever the TV industry, film industry, and Hollywood publicists tell us we should think of as stars. Paris Hilton? Vin Diesel? Even Jude Law. Did we discover these people? No, they were foisted upon us,we were TOLD they were stars, much as Janet is in "Shock Treatment". When Janet wakes up and realizes she wants her real life back, another cute chick is pimped up and easily accepted.
"Shock Treatment" is a very smart movie that works on the intellectual level RHPS did not. Hey, I love RHPS, but it operates from a gut, instinctual level. "Shock Treatment", if you give it a chance, will make you think about the media's grip on society, make you take a second look at the "stars" adorning the covers of magazines such as Entertainemt Weekly, give you a whole new take on the audiences lining up for RHPS every Halloween (unlike the 80's when we went every month or weekend), and, having been made in 1981 (!) add no surprise to the fact that Richard O'Brien is a prescient futurist who made a killing in the stock market.
Heck, I haven't even talked about the fact that "Shock Treatment"s use of primary colors, editing, and music video style sequences, predates the birth of MTV by at least a year. This movie could be called a template for the 80's music video boom.
Lastly, I have to comment on one facet which will either a) draw RHPS fans and non fans to check this move out or b) disregard this entire review. I absolutely, unequivocally, LOVE the music in this movie. Every song is fun in the best tradition of the short lived "rock musical" genre (I often sing a somewhat edited version of "Lullaby" to my kids at bedtime)and, on screen, every song is presented with a strong sense of atmosphere. Come to think of it, this IS "Shock Treatment"s greatest commonality to RHPS, except in RHPS, the atmosphere was dark and cluttered, in "Shock Treatment", it's bright and sterile. Two different settings. Two different themes. Both brilliantly achieved.
Run Ronnie Run (2002)
They're smarter than this!
Why on Earth would the guys who gave us one of the smartest "premise" based comedy shows on television choose such an easy target for their first film? New Line's tampering is not the reason the film isn't that great, guys. It's the idea to begin with. A parody of red necks? Ohhhhh, how cutting edge. THAT'S never been done before. The guys seem to have gone out of their way to play two really tired characters, in a tired situation (Reality TV) that we've seen parodied over and over again in other places and are now about as fresh and funny as a "Full House" rerun. This is a really sad loss 'cause I doubt it's likely anyone will poney up the money now to give these guys a second chance.
Also, the cameos. Great stuff with Jeff Goldblum, and Jack Black's bit is hysterical, but usually the famous people are just standing around without a single amusing thing to do ( Sarah Silverman and Gary Shandling immediately come to mind).
An insult to "Vacation" fans
I haven't hated a movie this violently since "The Flitstones", and being a huge fan of the "Vacation" movies compounded my anger.That was just embarrasingly bad. I mean utterly humiliating for all concerned. We can only hope this one goes the way of the Star Wars Holiday Special. I'm not joking. This is the worst excuse for entertainment I have suffered through in a long time, and because I am an idiot fan of the franchaise, I insisted on ruining my family's Christmas by making them be in proximity to the television while I watched it. My father and girlfriend will not let me live this one down for a long time. It will be a negative touchstone for the rest of our lives.
This movie was just a mean joke to play on Vacation fans. It was dumber than anything I've ever seen, the humour was anachronistic and tasteless without being "funny-tasteless". There was no direction that I could see, it was predictable, had not even a SINGLE LAUGH, Randy Quaid seemed to be, oddly, not even there. An extra in his own movie. In an interview recently, he said something like: "I'm not sure about Eddie without Clark. Actually, I'm still not sure". He was sososososososososososososososososo RIGHT and I WISH he'd stuck with his instincts. I actually felt embarrased for Dana Barron and she hasn't done anything since "Beverly Hills 90210"...
This thing was awful. Let's leave it at that.
Pep Squad (1998)
Now THIS is a B!
If you like B movies, "Pep Squad" is a B Movie in the best sense of the word. Why it went straight to video is beyond me. It's mix of humour and artistry makes it stand out as the "El Mariachi" of teen flicks.
First time director Steve Balderson has fashioned not only an exceedingly witty script (Fave moment in a film full of fave moments: The cheer Cherry pays the cheerleaders to do), but has an eye for what Brian DePalma called "film as a visual medium". Take the costumes, each character given a very specfic look and tone through wardrobe, take the finale- a breathtakingly clever denoument set to a new wave version of the star spangled banner. Balderson also knows what B fans come to see and has seen fit to throw in the occasional bit of shock violence and gratuitous nudity (though even that is shot with a fair degree of look and purpose).
Special mention must be made of the director's sister, Brooke Balderson who, in the time warped town the film takes place in, is the most warped of all- a teenage Cruella DeVille. She's perfect- snarly, mean and way over the top. Then there's Jane Wiedlin look alike Summer Makovkin...well let's just say she's appealing on a purely personal level.
"Pep Squad" is what would happen if David Lynch, in full "Twin Peaks" mode, decided to make a John Hughes film. I can say nothing more than run out and rent it and let's get this film the cult following it so richly deserves.
The Alternate (2000)
This is a truly poor excuse for an action film. the characters act so stupidly and have so little charisma, it's hard to care for them one way or another. At one point, the villian fakes his death through a helicopter crash. Though he has the money he'd asked for as ransom and has no reason what so ever to go back to the site of his crime-he goes back. Another ridiculous plot point- the hero, having saved the president from a "Die Hard" style terrorist attack, doesn't just walk the Pres out of the building, but rather sits around, making calls on his cell phone.
This idiocy would all be okay if this flick had some decent action, but the fight scenes are choreographed with the energy of a sloth monkey and the shoot outs take place with enemies twenty feet from eachother, yet unable to hit a damn thing...and would the hero really shoot back at the villian if the President, this movie's "macguffin" was between them? Yes he would in this flick, because it means he can dive between pillars. This movie isn't bad because it's dumb- dumb ain't bad, I love dumb action movies- it's bad because it's insulting even to the undemanding.