Archive for February, 2011

I Spit On Your Grave [2010]


“I Spit On Your Grave” is a remake of a controversial 1979 movie of the same name about a young writer (Sarah Butler) who rents a cabin in an isolated wooded area for a few months in order to work on her next book. Her presence in the small town attracts the attention of a few morally deprived boys who set out one night to teach the city girl a lesson. “Show me your teeth”, one of them says, as he was getting ready to rape and torture her. I won’t even try to describe these horrific scenes, but I just want to say that I’ve never seen anything like it before. The abuse lasts for at least a good 30 minutes of on-screen time (too long in my opinion!). But the good part is, she manages to get away, by sacrificing her broken and beaten body to a raging river that washes her away. They think she’s dead, but against all odds, she comes back seeking revenge. And that’s what the movie is all about. After being assaulted, gang banged, and left for dead, she starts hunting those bastards one by one. And unlike most of the crappy slasher movies we see nowadays, this one will definitely keep your attention until the end.

The cast do their parts well; the villains are truly disgusting and they make themselves very detestable. But I feel the makers of this film underused Sarah Butler’s acting skills. The first half of the film gave her a personality, only to be reduced to just a revenge machine in the second half. Still, the horror fan in me that craves blood and gore was strangely satisfied seeing these men get what they deserved, even if some of the scenes were excessively sadistic and disturbing. If this is your cup of tea, then be my guest. Otherwise, do not bother.

Rating: 2/4

Leave a comment

Sanctum [2011]


“Sanctum” is being falsely advertised as a James Cameron movie. It’s true that he had some input, but he didn’t write or direct the film, and it shows. I found myself losing interest in it only halfway through, and that’s always a bad sign. It’s a dull, predictable and clichéd thriller that reminded me of the equally terrible “The Cave”. We’ve got a bunch of explorers who are stuck in an unexplored cave system and have to find a way out quickly. Sounds exciting at first. But how do they do it? They just go on and on in random directions, yet fail to find an exit. Of course, a few team members die along the way, as usual. So much for plot and character.

The film is definitely not for the claustrophobic. Much of the story takes place in a tight and dark cave. Even the camera is up close to all of the action, and one might get nauseous after a while. This makes the action and the locations of the characters hard to follow, and you’ll be begging to get out of that cave as soon as possible. What’s more, almost no character development occurs before the team find themselves stranded. This makes it hard for us to give a crap about any of these characters. And although the film claims that it was inspired by an incident some years ago, I can’t help but feel that almost everything else was not based on that true story. Either way, the result is a mess, and to see James Cameron’s name attached to this mess is beyond my understanding. Even a National Geographic documentary would have been more rewarding than this dreadful B-movie. Skip it.

Rating: 1.5/4

4 Comments

The Mechanic [2011]


Straighforward action movie starring Jason Statham as Arthur Bishop, a tough, mean, and cold-blooded assassin who whacks guys with the skill of making it seem like an accidents. But things get messy when his wheelchair-bound boss Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland in a one of a kind role) is killed, and his vengeful son Steve (Ben Foster) comes looking for an education in the assassin business. Let me put something straight: If you’re watching “The Mechanic”, chances are you’re a Jason Statham fan. I don’t blame you. I mean whether it’s in “Death Race”, “The Transporter”, “The Expendables”, “Crank”, or any other movie with him in it, it’s always awesome to see him kicking-ass. “The Mechanic” is no exception, for it offers plenty of action to satisfy fans of the genre. But let’s face it: the plot makes zero sense, and every character in the movie is just as stupid and absurd as the next one. This is strictly a guy flick, in other words it’s brainless, bloody, and violent. But I guess in fairness, it’s safe to say that Statham is at the point in his career where he can single handedly save a movie from complete failure. The guy does one thing, and he does it well. And his presence is more than enough to make you forget about the dumb plot, and enjoy this otherwise predictable film.

Rating: 2/4

Leave a comment

It's Kind Of A Funny Story [2010]


Although I didn’t quite hate this movie, I’m afraid I’m still going to call it as misfire for several reasons: 1- The filmmakers (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck who made an impressive debut in “Half Nelson” a few years ago) desperately try to balance between comedy and drama in telling their story, about a 16 year old boy ( Keir Gilchrist) who feels so stressed out that he considers commiting suicide, but checks himself into a hospital instead. He meets all sorts of people during his stay (including the overrated Zack Galifianakis), and soon learns that his problems don’t amount to much compared to the deeply troubled people around him. 2-What’s more, they resort to clichés in their storytelling, including a dream music video sequence in which Keir Gilchrist’s character starts singing David Bowie’s “Under Pressure”. This sequence does nothing to advance the story or enhance the boy’s state of mind. 3- Zack Galifianakis is overrated. 4- Emma Robert’s character is poorly developped. I mean how are supposed to care for her character when we know very little about her? And when we start to learn more, boom the credits start rolling. Big mistake. 5-Zack Galifianakis is overrated (oh wait I said that already). 6- Never mix comedy with drama. You always end up with a bad after-taste. 7- Way to market Zoloft as “the drug” to make one feel better! Now let’s all join hands and sing happy songs. In fact can we get some “la la”s up here? And finally 8- Zack Galifianakis is totally overrated (yep I said that before and I’ll say it again).

Rating: 2/4

Leave a comment

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story [2010]


Although I didn’t quite hate this movie, I’m afraid I’m still going to call it as misfire for several reasons: 1- The filmmakers (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck who made an impressive debut in “Half Nelson” a few years ago) desperately try to balance between comedy and drama in telling their story, about a 16 year old boy ( Keir Gilchrist) who feels so stressed out that he considers commiting suicide, but checks himself into a hospital instead. He meets all sorts of people during his stay (including the overrated Zack Galifianakis), and soon learns that his problems don’t amount to much compared to the deeply troubled people around him. 2-What’s more, they resort to clichés in their storytelling, including a dream music video sequence in which Keir Gilchrist’s character starts singing David Bowie’s “Under Pressure”. This sequence does nothing to advance the story or enhance the boy’s state of mind. 3- Zack Galifianakis is overrated. 4- Emma Robert’s character is poorly developped. I mean how are supposed to care for her character when we know very little about her? And when we start to learn more, boom the credits start rolling. Big mistake. 5-Zack Galifianakis is overrated (oh wait I said that already). 6- Never mix comedy with drama. You always end up with a bad after-taste. 7- Way to market Zoloft as “the drug” to make one feel better! Now let’s all join hands and sing happy songs. In fact can we get some “la la”s up here? And finally 8- Zack Galifianakis is totally overrated (yep I said that before and I’ll say it again).

Rating: 2/4

Leave a comment

No Strings Attached [2011]


Given my low expectations for any movie starring Ashton Kutcher these days (who obviously cannot say no to a cheese plate), I was pleasantly surprised by “No Strings Attached”.  Natalie Portman (who gave the performance of her career in “Black Swan”) and Kutcher managed to create comedy through the awkwardly realistic chemistry between their characters Emma and Adam. The two first met some 15 years ago at a summer camp, when Adam tried to mope about his parent’s divorce to Emma in hope for a sympathy hook up. When he gently asks to “finger her”, you know you’re in for an “adult only” film (not that I’m complaining). Eventually, we move to the present, where Emma is a successful doctor who works eighty hours a week and is not looking for a relationship, while Adam is an aspired writer working at a “High School Musical-ish” televison show. When the two meet again, a sexual dilemma occurs, as they make a pact to enter into a relationship with “No Strings Attached”. No feelings, no commitment, just sex.

This being a Hollywood romantic comedy and all, the outcome of the story is obvious from the word go. So again, and like most of the comedies we see nowadays, this film is all about the journey, and not the destination. The journey is somehow brightened by the chemistry between the two leads. If it weren’t for the presence of these two talented actors, the movie would have been easily lost among every other romantic comedy. They are both pleasant to watch, and the supporting cast features plenty of colorful and amusing characters, including Chris Bridges as one of Ashton’s macho pals, Lake Bell as an awkward TV producer who’s got the hots for Kutcher, and Kevin Kline who is hilarious as his egocentric father. With all the right ingredients, this otherwise predictable comedy still manages to provide some good laughs and I’m glad to say that I had a good time watching it. Of course it doesn’t add anything new to the genre, but as far as escapism goes, it’s not bad at all.

Rating: 2.5/4

7 Comments

Oscar Picks and Predictions


This is my favorite time of the year. The Academy Awards will air on February 27, and I love the fact that they’re naming ten nominess in the best picture category. Because lets face it, this isn’t really about being the best (every movie nominated is a potential oscar winner in my opinion); it’s about recognizing quality filmmaking. Of course some movies were omitted (“The Ghost Writer”and “Shutter Island” come to mind), but overall, the ten nominees are all excellent. I thought I’d share with you my predictions for the winners in the major categories. I feel it’s a tough one this year, but oscar season wouldn’t be the same without the “prediction game”.

                                       

                                        The “Dude” finally won his first oscar in 2010

 

Best Picture – “The King’s Speech”
Best Director – David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Best Actor – Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
Best Actress – Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Best Supporting Actress – Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Adapted Screenplay – “The Social Network”
Original Screenplay – “Another Year”
Animated Feature – “Toy Story 3″
Cinematography – “True Grit”
Costume Design – “Alice In Wonderland”
Makeup – “The Wolfman”
Visual Effects – “Inception”
Documentary – “Exit Through the Gift Shop”
Foreign Language Film – “Biutiful”

8 Comments