Wednesday, January 30, 2008

2007 Movies I want to Avoid
There are Ten Best lists and Ten Worst lists. On the following list are ten films from 2007 that I have absolute no interest in and will, to the best of my abilities, avoid seeing:
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Fred Claus
The Hills Have Eyes 2
Hostel Part II
The Invasion
Lions for Lambs
Reign Over Me
If someone thinks they can convince me to see one of the films on my list, give it your best shot.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Basic storyline: The Sun is dying and Earth is in permanent winter. The Icarus II, with a crew of eight, has been dispatched with a nuclear payload is re-ignite the Sun. They are Earth’s last hope. The first mission, dispatched seven years earlier, failed.
This film was directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Millions). It stars Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Batman Begins, Red Eye), Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies, Memoirs of a Geisha) and Chris Evans (Fantastic Four, Cellular).
The setting of this film looks real. I really liked the gold spacesuits. Too cool. The storyline has good moments and not so good but all are food for thought. This falls into the category of a thinking-person’s science fiction story and there are not very many of them. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best example. I’d also include The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). This is not your basic action-adventure sci-fi movie. Besides the science behind such a mission, the story also touches on God and free will. It also asks the question: when can an innocent be sacrificed for the safety of the majority? Not many films ask these hard questions.
I was riveted watching this story unfold. It is not boring. I liked all the questions they raised but I didn’t like all the answers they came up with. I liked the mystery behind the failure of the first mission and what the crew discovered that happened to the first crew but the story takes it one step further (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen the film) and, for me, that hurt the film. As I have said many times, endings are hard.
Overall, see Sunshine. It is well worth your time.
Side Bar: When flying to the sun, never name your craft “Icarus.” If you don’t know why, read the Greek myth about Icarus.
Smart-Ass Side Bar: If I’d written the screenplay, I would have ignored all the science tech stuff about flying to the sun. I would’ve had my team fly at night.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Here I am trying to catch up on the 2007 movie releases and I slip in a few oldies. One I remember watching as a kid, one I vaguely remembered, and two I hadn't seen or didn't remember seeing at all.
Beau Geste with Gary Cooper. The oldest of the lot and the best. This is a last stand movie about the Foreign Legion filled with familiar character actors of the day. The acting is at times corny and/or wooden but, only in old Hollywood would they build an action-adventure film around a "gallant gesture." I liked it.

The Long Gray Line with Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara. Directed by John Ford with the usual Fordisms and cast of Ford regulars. I don't know why this is not mentioned with several other Ford treasures. This is a Hollywood version of a true story. It is about the life of Marty Maher who spent 50 years working at West Point. Not all of it works but there are several "lump-in-the-throat" moments. And Power and O'Hara have a solid chemistry together.

The Black Swan with Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara again. This is a pirate movie. Very cool at times and very, very creaky at others. Still, overall, not bad for a sixty year old film. Okay, not great either. I wanted to like it better than I did.

They Died with Their Boots On with Errol Flynn and Olvia deHavilland. This is the story of George Armstrong Custer. But not really. If anything in this movie is historically accurate it happened by accident. I love Flynn and deHavilland ... their Robin Hood is one of my favorite movies. Westerns are my favorite genre. This doesn't work. Only Flynn and deHavilland's scenes together are worthwhile. And, who would have guessed, based on his role as Crazy Horse in this movie, how talented an actor Anthony Quinn was. He kept his talent well-hidden in this part.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Academy Award nominees for the 2007 movie season were announced today. They are:
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno

Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman, Juno
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Brad Bird, Ratatouille
Diablo Cody, Juno
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl

Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Christopher Hampton, Atonement
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sarah Polley, Away From Her
I've only seen Ratatouille and Eastern Promises. Hmmm ... am I out of touch or is the Academy? I did have a good friend tell me to go see No Country for Old Men. He said it was my kind of movie.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Movies 2007
I've been catching more on more 2007 movie releases. I Am Legend. I liked it. Okay, the first 80% is terrific. Really cool. The last 20% was just OK. Didn't measure up to the rest of the film. Endings are tough. I recommend it however and I'll end up buying it when it comes to DVD. Waitress -- A pleasant surprise. I liked it, too. The camera likes Keri Russell and, whether willing or not, you find yourself rooting for her. Not a perfect movie (ending problems again) but definitely an enjoyable one. In fact, I'd say it moved 28 Weeks Later off my Top Ten list and takes its spot.

The next movies are OK but nothing great. Superbad -- amusing but the old school comedies in the same vein like Animal House and even Porky's were funnier. The Kingdom -- I think I know how they sold this. CSI goes to the Middle East. Intriguing premise but they needed a stronger story. Shoot 'em Up -- it was like popcorn. Enjoyable but basically forgettable. All I remember off the top of my head is Clive Owen eating carrots like Bugs Bunny and Paul Giamatti's cell-phone interruptions from his wife. Eastern Promises starts out well. Very engrossing but it just seems to peter out. I kept thinking toward the end that there has to be more to this but there wasn't.
Didn't like Death Sentence. I don't watch a vigilante-revenge movie for a lesson in morality. Geez, give me a break. And the worst film I saw in this bunch was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. What a miserable experience and I love the first one.


Arriving today in my Netflix queue is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Sunshine. We'll see how they rate.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I Am Legend

Not a perfect movie but very good.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year: 2008
The new year has finally arrived. Please, please, be a better year than 2007.

I have made some resolutions and I will share:
1) Quit smoking (the patches have been purchased)
2) Lose 15-20 pounds (mostly around my chocolate-chip-cookie gut)
3) Go out on a first date sometime before the year ends (haven't been on a date since Annie and I separated then divorced)
4) Sell (or at least have optioned) a screenplay
5) Play Texas Hold 'em in a casino (but don't get hooked on gambling because those big casinos didn't become big casinos by letting people like me win)