Thursday, August 28, 2008

MOVIE: SON OF RAMBOW



Son of Rambow is a 2007 comedy-drama film written and directed by Garth Jennings.

Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) is a well-mannered schoolboy being raised in an ultra-religious community that deplores such corruptive distractions as television and seeks to maintain its purity by severely limiting contact with the outside world. In order to exorcise his creative inner demons, Will has taken to sketching imaginative drawings and complex illustrations. Lee Carter (Will Poulter) is the school terror, a rampaging hellion whose overaggressive behavior has made him an endless source of frustration to the faculty, and a source of fear to his fellow classmates.

As fate would have it, Will is in the school hallway avoiding exposure to the classroom television when a fed-up teacher ejects Lee from the classroom. Though at first it appears as if Lee is about to torment timid Will just as he does the rest of the student body, the two form a tight bond after Will convinces Lee to view a bootleg copy of Rambo: First Blood.

When Lee informs Will that he wants to shoot a homebrewed version of the violent action film for an upcoming amateur filmmaking contest, a sudden streak of rebellion prompts his sheltered classmate to readily agree. As the summer wears on the two boys set out to create the ultimate no-budget action movie, but their grand vision hits an unexpected hitch when a busload of French exchange students arrive at the school and the leader of the pack attempts to hijack the production.




I remember making movies all the time when I was a little kid. Using my dad's giant camcorder, my little sister and her dolls as different characters, anything I could find around the house to use as props and our backyard as the wild jungle because it did look like a wild jungle for a whole year when my dad decided he didn't want to mow it. The two kids in Son of Rambow are doing the same exact thing and having fun along the way.

The movie is very well made and light on the heavy subjects because a movie like this really doesn't need the dramatics of a Christopher Nolan film. The two kids go to the same school but are from two very different lifestyles which are shown to great effect. Lee Carter lives in a big house connected to an old folks home. His parents are always away so it's just him and his older brother who he loves but the feeling isn't shared. He has almost a warehouse of fun things at his disposal which is every kids dream but no friends to share it with. Will lives with his mom, grandmother and little sister in a Shaker like household. He doesn't get to watch TV or have any fun even though he has a great imagination that he puts down in drawings.

So when they meet up and decide to make the movie together, Lee Carter gets a friend and Will gets to have fun. The movie never crosses the line into making it more sappy, emotional or dramatic than it needs to be. I liked the other side plot of the movie with the French exchange student and his English prep school groupies. He is a fan of movies and Patrick Swayze, so he decides to help Lee Carter and Will with their movie. I liked the scene when they are all at party with a bunch of teenagers who are eating candy and getting wash off tattoos.

The second half of the movie mostly deals with the family drama and I think that's when it looses a little bit of its fun. It kind of forgets about the whole Son of Rambow movie and just mainly wants to deal with the drama that comes up between Lee Carter and Will. It is still an enjoyable movie to the end though. The two kids are really good actors and the cinematography is great. It feels like it would have fit better as a short film than as a whole movie but the extra hour is not a waste of your time.

Son of Rambow: 6 out of 10

The DVD features trailers; audio commentary; making-of featurette and a short film.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MOVIE: REDBELT



Redbelt is a martial arts film written and directed by David Mamet.

When a respected jujitsu master (Chiwetel Ejiofor) eschews a lucrative prizefighting career in favor of opening a self-defense dojo, it appears that he has chosen a peaceful path in life. The dedicated martial artist's fate takes an unanticipated turn, however, when he is manipulated into participating in ultimate fighting championships by a group of unscrupulous actors and fight promoters.

Later, as the master is being relentlessly beaten in a dirty street fight, he connects with a high-profile action star (Tim Allen) with serious marital problems. Realizing that the only way to regain his honor is to step into the ring, the jujitsu master reluctantly prepares for the fight of his life.




Mamet, that awesome master of dialogue, usually makes movies that revolve around a con. Usually every character has a part in it and everyone is a suspect, well, except for the main character of course. In most Mamet films we get the pleasure of following around the main character as they try to figure things and then become surprised, just as they are, when they do unravel the mystery. In Redbelt however, we are just as lost as Ejiofor is and when everything is finally revealed in the end he knows what their talking about but we are still stuck in the what the hell is going on stage.

I am sad to report that Redbelt just may be Mamet's least interesting movie ever. However, that doesn't make it bad. Mamet has everything set up to make one of his great signature movies. We have a lot of the same actors that have been in his previous films delivering the Mamet style dialogue that he is known for. We have the con that we must try to figure out along with Ejiofor in who is a who and what is what. This is all here, except for the fact that it all happens very uneventfully and the con itself just may be one of the most ridiculous cons ever.

The movie revolves around martial arts but the fight scenes are very sloppy and the direction doesn't help. Mamet shows nothing here of his great directing. His dialogue also doesn't have any power to it. Usually, you can tell a Mamet film a mile away just by hearing the dialogue but Jennifer Lopez could have written Redbelt and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.

Now it seems like this review is headed for a bad rating but it is not. I have been giving Redbelt a mostly negative review so far but I guess I am just giving it a bad review based on the criteria for what a Mamet film should be. If I forget for a second that it was written and directed by Mamet, I come to realize that it is a decent movie. It features cinematography by the great Robert Elswit, has some of my very favorite actors which is pretty much every actor in the movie. It gives me a little hope that Allen will stop making retarded movies aimed for kids and turn to more dramatic fare. The first half of the movie is actually really good but its the second half that ruins it for everyone. That's when all is revealed in its cheesy glory and the very slow moving competition scenes at the end have you looking at the running time to see when it will end.

I hope that Mamet was just having one of his bad days with Redbelt and that with his next film he will get back on track. Let's just hope that it won't be 4 years again until we find out if will have our awesome Mamet back or the one who came up with the equivalent of a better version of Rollerball.

Redbelt: 6 out of 10

The DVD features a behind-the-scenes featurette and fighter profiles.


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Sunday, August 24, 2008

MOVIE: WHERE IN THE WORLD IS OSAMA BIN LADEN?



Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? is a documentary film, conceived by Adam Dell and co-written, produced, directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, an American independent filmmaker.

When Spurlock learns that he and his wife are expecting a baby, he decides that he wants the child to grow up in a safer world than we know today, so he takes it upon himself to track down the most dangerous man on Earth, Osama bin Laden. Spurlock hops on a plane and flies to the Middle East in search of his quarry, making stops in Egypt, Morocco, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan as he keeps an eye peeled for the head of Al Qaeda.

When he isn't playing sleuth, Spurlock interviews people representing all walks of life, ranging from Orthodox Israeli enclaves and a mosque operated by rabidly anti-American Muslims to political moderates and ordinary folks at the supermarket, quizzing them about the nature of post-9/11 conflict and the need for peace.


Spurlock goes from McDonald's to Terrorism and with it a big leap from entertaining to serious. Where In The World's trailer and poster would have you believe that it's going to be just like Super Size Me. Filled with humor and an entertaining look at things. Indeed, Where In The World does start off with some humor. Watching an animated Spurlock fight Osama in a video game like environment while a theme song based on the title plays in the background is funny for about a second. Thankfully, the humor and animation go away after the first 20 minutes. The movie then switches to being serious.

When Spurlock was making Super Size Me, he made it as entertaining as possible since he himself was at the center of the movie and had free will of what to do. As over the top as Super Size Me was, it still worked as a documentary while still being entertaining. Michael Moore does the same thing to greater effect with much heavier subjects. Spurlock puts himself at the center again, along with his pregnant wife, but doesn't make himself the main attraction. After all, Osama is in the title and he should get top billing.

Where In The World isn't really about finding Osama and Spurlock knows that. I think he used it as a gimmick to get the film made and I'm sure he didn't have a problem getting financing for a documentary with that kind of title. Spurlock is more interested in the people of the middle east. Getting to talk to the people that Osama has affected in Osama's own turf. Spurlock asks a lot of basic questions but gets revealing and interesting answers from the people. Spurlock also doesn't use a lot of gimmicks like he did in Super Size Me, except for the ending of the film, which is really cheesy. Spurlock also goes through the film looking like a crazed mountain man and I'm not sure why.

Where In The World doesn't really tell us anything that we don't already know about the middle east but does show some revealing sides about the people that a lot of Americans think are the enemies when they are anything but. Where In The World would be a great film to show to a high school class that is just getting to know what the middle east is and to better understand peace in the middle east.

Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?: 6 out of 10

The DVD has no special features.


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MUSIC: SSION "A WOLVES EYE"



"A WOLVES EYE" MP3

MUSIC: THROW ME THE STATUE "YUCATAN GOLD"



"Yucatan Gold" is a single off of "Moonbeams", the debut album from Throw Me The Statue.

"YUCATAN GOLD" MP3

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MUSIC: AFGHAN RAIDERS "FUTURE THINKERS"



"FUTURE THINKERS" MP3

MUSIC: RA RA RIOT "GHOST UNDER ROCKS"



"Ghost Under Rocks" is a single off of The Rhumb Line, the debut LP for the Syracuse-based indie rock band Ra Ra Riot. Recorded in late 2007 with Ryan Hadlock in Woodinville, WA, the band released their debut album on August 19, 2008, through Seattle-based indie label Barsuk Records.


"GHOST UNDER ROCKS" MP3



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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MUSIC: LYKKE LI "YOUTH NOVELS"



Youth Novels is the debut album by Swedish singer Lykke Li.

The tracks with an * are the best.
  1. "Melodies & Desires" *
  2. "Dance, Dance, Dance"
  3. "I'm Good, I'm Gone" *
  4. "Let It Fall"
  5. "My Love"
  6. "Little Bit"
  7. "Hanging High"
  8. "This Trumpet in My Head"
  9. "Complaint Department"
  10. "Breaking It Up" *
  11. "Time Flies" *
  12. "Window Blues"
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Monday, August 18, 2008

MOVIE: STREET KINGS



Street Kings (originally titled The Night Watchman) is a 2008 action-crime film, directed by David Ayer, and starring Keanu Reeves, Hugh Laurie and Forest Whitaker. The initial screenplay drafts were written by James Ellroy in the late 1990s under the title The Nightwatchman.

LAPD veteran Tom Ludlow (Reeves) has borne personal witness to the worst that the streets have to offer, and when his partner, Detective Terrance Washington (Terry Crews), is killed the violence strikes a bit too close to home. Now Ludlow is on a mission to bring his partner's killer to justice, though Captain Walker (Whitaker) is concerned that the hotheaded detective is taking the case too personally.

Now, as Captain Walker attempts to convince Ludlow to work within the confines of the law, Internal Affairs Captain Biggs (Laurie) begins following the vengeful lawman's every move. In order to accomplish his mission, Ludlow recruits fresh-faced Robbery Homicide Detective Diskant (Chris Evans) to trace Washington's killers through the winding streets of Los Angeles. Later, when Ludlow and Diskant come face to face with the remorseless cop killers, they must chose between upholding the law and seeking bitter vengeance.




Street Kings is like Training Day's little brother. It wants to be just as good but we all know that Reeves is no Denzel Washington. Street Kings is not that bad though and it is filled with really good actors. I had my doubts because even a 5 year old could tell that it is trying to be like Training Day and that the director also made the similar Harsh Times. Either he needs to step it up a notch with these types of films or just move on to something else.

The movie tries to tackle so many things but it just doesn't know how to. Reeves has a drinking problem but let's move on. Reeves has a dead wife but let's move on. There is a lot of cops looking suspicious but let's move on to the action. Some scenes even feel like they were stopped too soon, as if the camera ran out of film or something. James Ellroy has given us a lot of good stories and this is not one of them. He is listed in the credits as coming up with it and co-writing but I doubt he had much to do with the final product that we get.

Street Kings wasn't a waste of my time but I know I could have watched something better. I just got out of work, I was tired, it was dark and windy outside. I just felt like watching a cheesy corrupt cop movie. If you want to see something exactly like this movie but I know for a fact that you won't hate, rent or buy Dark Blue. It stars Kurt Russell and hey what do you know, it's by James Ellroy.

Street Kings: 6 out of 10

The DVD features director's commentary; screenwriter's commentary; cast commentary; deleted scenes; vignettes; training diaries (somebody's sucking up).


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Sunday, August 17, 2008

MUSIC: BOWERBIRDS "IN OUR TALONS"



"In Our Talons" is a single off of Hymns For a Dark Horse, the debut album from Bowerbirds, a nu-folk band from Raleigh, North Carolina. The band members are Beth Tacular, Phil Moore and Mark Paulson. Bowerbirds have toured in support of The Mountain Goats, with John Darnielle referring to the band as his "new favorite band in forever".

"IN OUR TALONS" MP3




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MUSIC: THE DANDY WARHOLS "THE LEGEND OF THE LAST OF THE OUTLAW TRUCKERS AKA THE BALLAD OF THE SHERRIFF SHORTY"



"The Legend of the Last of the Outlaw Truckers AKA the Ballad Of Sherriff Shorty" is a single off of …Earth to the Dandy Warhols…, an album by alternative rock band The Dandy Warhols, now available for download and streaming play. The CD version of the album will be released on August 18, 2008. It is their first recording after leaving Capitol Records. On May 5th, the band gave away the song "The World The People Together (Come On)" as a free download on their website along with announcing that the album was available to play on over 10,000 AMI Jukeboxes.

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MUSIC: LYKKE LI "BREAKING IT UP"



"Breaking It Up" is a single off of Youth Novels, the debut album by Swedish singer Lykke Li.

"BREAKING IT UP" MP3




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Friday, August 15, 2008

MOVIE: LUST, CAUTION



Lust, Caution
(Chinese: Sè, Jiè) is a 2007 Chinese espionage thriller film directed by Taiwanese director Ang Lee, based on the short story of the same name published in 1979 by Chinese author Eileen Chang.

Lust, Caution is set in World War II-era Shanghai and details the political intrigue surrounding a powerful political figure named Mr. Yee (Tony Leung) in Japanese-occupied Shanghai. Spanning the late-'30s and early-'40s, the movie introduces us to Hong Kong teen Wong Chia Chi (Tang Wei), a shy college freshman who finds her calling in a drama society devoted to patriotic plays. But the troupe's leader, Kuang Yu Min (Wang Leehom) isn't just a theater maven - he's a revolutionary as well, and he's devoted to carrying out a bold plan to assassinate top Japanese collaborator Mr. Yee. Each student has an important role to play, and Wong puts herself in a dangerous position as Mrs. Mak: she befriends Mr. Yee's wife (Joan Chen), and slowly gains trust before tempting him into an affair.

While at first the plan goes exactly as scripted, things suddenly take a deadly turn and Wong is emigrate from Hong Kong. Later, in 1941, the occupation shows no signs of ceasing and Wong is simply drifting through her days in Shanghai. Much to her surprise, the former actress finds Kuang requesting that she resume the role of Mrs. Mak. Now, as Wong again gains intimate access to her dangerous prey, she must struggle with her own identity in order to pull off the performance of a lifetime.

The film adaption and the story are loosely based on events that took place during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai. The film's explicit sex scenes resulted in the film being rated NC-17 in the US.




When you sit down to watch an Ang Lee film you know you are in for some good filmmaking. The man knows how to direct a movie and with Lust, Caution he doesn't disappoint. Although, it isn't much like his other films. Most of his films contain a lot of beautiful shots and Lust, Caution doesn't carry very many. The movie mostly takes place indoors and in close conversations. It doesn't give Lee very much room to move around but he really doesn't need to.

The film mostly involves the characters in discussions and quick glancing looks at each other. The writing and acting is what stands out the most. Although if this same material were in other hands, without Lee behind the camera, it wouldn't be as interesting. He manages to make quiet scenes stand out and loud scenes to happen quietly. There is a scene when someone gets stabbed to death quite a bit and it seems to happen in slow motion until you realize that it is not. It's just that there is no hyped up music or quick camera movements.

The film deserves its NC-17 rating as there is a lot of sex in this movie. The characters have sex in positions that I have never seen or heard of before. They are very graphic but Lee still makes them tasteful of enough so it never seems like you are watching a porno film. The sex scenes are very important in understanding the two main characters. Mr. Yee likes it rough and Lee isn't afraid to show how rough he can get.

Lust, Caution is very different compared to The Hulk or Brokeback Mountain. It is not as show offish as those two or most of his films. Even though it is not one of Lee's best, it is his most quietest and sometimes that can be a good change of pace.

Lust, Caution: 7 out of 10

The DVD features a Tiles of Deception, Lurid Affections featurette.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

MOVIE: SMART PEOPLE



Smart People is a 2008 comedy film starring Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page and Thomas Haden Church. The film was directed by Noam Murro and written by Mark Poirier.

Ever since his wife passed away, Lawrence Wetherhold (Quaid) has become overly acerbic and self-absorbed. He's alienated his son (Ashton Holmes) and transformed his daughter (Page) into a friendless overachiever. Now, at the precise moment Lawrence thought he had finally figured it all out, his life comes crashing down all around him as he falls for a former student (Parker) and his shiftless adopted brother (Church) comes knocking on the door in search of a place to stay. Though Lawrence always relied on his intelligence to get him out of life's little jams in the past, it's going to take quite a bit more than intellectual thinking to move past this sticky stage in his suddenly chaotic life. David Denman and Christine Lahti co-star in this romantic comedy drama.




Most of the time, I like to think of myself as being a smart person with a quick wit. The only problem is that most of the time this is not actually the case. I'm not saying that I'm not smart because I do think I'm just as knowledgeable as most people. It all depends on what is what. If I'm talking to a computer hacker, and I know nothing about computer hacking, then the hacker is smarter than I am in that particular discussion. If were talking about movies, then I'm probably the smarter person in that discussion. In my opinion, everyone is smart when it comes to something and no one is smart in everything.

Most of the characters in Smart People think they are smarter then everyone else and most of the time can only think about themselves. The movie plays out with an intellectual family trying to start over again. Quaid plays his character perfectly as he tries to start dating again with the disapproval of his children. His adopted brother shows up to annoy him and crash at his place because he has no where else to crash. He ties to get a book published and become head of his teaching department, even though he really doesn't want to. Quaid also nails the professor with the beard look as well.

There is a little bit of quirky humor mostly supplied by the banter between Page and Church. But the movie mostly tries to be a romantic and to get Parker to fall in love with her old professor. Parker is very good here and is always a talented actress when she is not in something called Sex and the City.

The type of people who only care about themselves are usually the type of people who call themselves smart or think that their shit don't stink. These types of people can overcome this way of thinking though and the characters in Smart People make an effort to which in turn supplies the ending of the movie. If you go through life only caring about yourself, then it is going to be one lonely life.

Smart People: 6 out of 10

The DVD features deleted scenes; outtakes; cast and crew interviews; audio commentary.


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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

MUSIC: LADYTRON "RUNAWAY"



"Runaway" is a song written by the electropop band Ladytron for their fourth studio album Velocifero, and it is the second single following Ghosts.

"RUNAWAY" MP3




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MUSIC: BE YOUR OWN PET "BECKY"



"Becky" is a single off of Get Awkward, the second album by Be Your Own Pet.

"BECKY" MP3




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MUSIC: AC "NEW SOUL"



Wednesday, August 6, 2008

MOVIE: DIARY OF THE DEAD



Diary of the Dead (also known as George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead) is a horror film by George A. Romero. Although independently produced, it is distributed by Dimension Films.

Jason Creed (Joshua Close) and his crew are shooting a mummy movie in the Pennsylvania woods when media reports begin pouring in about the dead rising from their graves to feast on the flesh of the living. While self-centered star Ridley (Phillip Riccio) beats a hasty retreat to his family's fortified mansion halfway across the state, the remaining cast and crew are forced to fight for their lives despite having no weapons to speak of, and only a wobbly recreational vehicle in which to seek shelter.

Immediately recognizing the gravity of the situation and outspokenly skeptical of the media, determined director Creed decides to use his own camera to capture the real story in a documentary entitled "The Death of Death." Now, as the group attempts to fight their way to safety, the skeptics will all watch as their greatest fears become reality, and the realists will attempt to process a nightmare that modern science would pass off as impossible.




There are lots of zombie movies nowadays. Most of them are not very good but once in a while you get one like 28 Days Later, which I think is the best zombie movie ever made but zombie fans will say that its not even a zombie film. Well, what do they think makes a good zombie movie? Certainly not whats in Diary of the Dead. This is one terrible movie and its surprising that it comes from Romero who created the zombie genre.

I liked Night of the Living Dead and his comeback film Land of the Dead, but I don't know what he was thinking with this one. I guess he was trying to make a zombie film that was hip in some way with teenagers uploading zombie movies to their MySpace pages and squeezing out the last drip of the Blair Witch Project style of filmmaking. The problem with Diary is that it isn't as scary and well put together as Blair Witch. I'm sick of these movies that try to rip off the Blair Witch style, yet still shoot on high definition cameras and it ends up looking like a real movie instead of real life, which is what they are trying to achieve. This didn't bother me in Cloverfield because it was well edited, had good acting and had frightening moments.

I know Cloverfield had a bigger budget but it wasn't that big and Blair Witch manged to pull it off with a lot less. Diary is full of cheesy editing techniques with footage of actual riots and stuff all throughout the film. Since the whole cast is filled with unknown actors, all do a terrible job of looking scared. Sometimes it doesn't even seem like they are trying. The film also uses special effects instead of the old fashioned way of make-up. Which is strange since the movie has such a low budget you would think that would be the way to go. Especially since it would have made the zombie scenes a little bit better. Instead, every zombie death in the movie happens really close-up and quick. I guess to get the crappy special effects across quick enough so you can't see how crappy it is.

The big problem with the movie is that it takes itself seriously. Most of Romero's zombie movies usually have a lot of humor and have a point to make in the process. Diary has a bit of humor like when they come in contact with a death Amish guy who is pretty badass with a scythe. It also tries to get the message across that we are all killing each other. You don't have to make a zombie film to tell me that the Amish are badasses and that we are all killing each other, most of us already know that. If it would have played the whole film like it did with the Amish guy scene, I think it would have worked better. It doesn't, so instead we get really crappy actors in a really crappy zombie movie.

Diary of the Dead: 2 out of 10

The DVD has no special features.


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MOVIE: DEFINITELY, MAYBE



Definitely, Maybe is a 2008 romantic comedy film from Universal Pictures, directed by Adam Brooks, that stars Ryan Reynolds, Rachel Weisz, Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Abigail Breslin.

A political consultant in the midst of a bitter divorce attempts to delicately divulge the truth about his past relationships to his curious young daughter, who simply won't stop asking questions until she's satisfied with all the answers. Ten-year-old Maya (Breslin) is heartbroken to see her parents splitting up, but she's determined to find out precisely how it was that mom and dad came together in the first place. When Maya starts questioning her father Will (Reynolds) about his life before marriage, dad's memories soon drift back to the time when, as a naïve Wisconsin native and aspiring politician hoping to work on the presidential election, he first arrived in New York City.

As Will gradually became savvy to the ways of the big city, he gradually developed romantic relationships with three very different women: Emily (Banks) was the girl-next-door that he could always depend on, apolitical April (Fisher) was the best friend and confidante who was always there to listen, and free-spirited journalist Summer (Weisz) was both beautiful and ambitious. In order to prevent his perceptive little girl from predicting the outcome before his story is told, Will carefully changes the names of his three romantic interests, creating a hopelessly romantic puzzle that highlights both the joys and hardships of true love.




Relationships are a tough and complicated thing. If you've never been in a long relationship, you have no idea the true meaning of those words. If you're just starting in a relationship, you will find out soon enough. Instead of teaching us useless crap in high school, they should have taught us the ways of life and about the opposite sex.

Definitely, Maybe understands how relationships work and thats why the movie works. The way the characters speak to each other and the choices they make are believable. I liked how Breslin's character has to guess throughout the movie who her mom is in the story and so do we. Some viewers might figure it out sooner than others. I was guessing all the way to the end and even then my guess was wrong. Weird though that my girlfriend Kelly, who only watched the first half hour of the movie because she had to go to work, guessed who it was going to be and she was right.

Reynold's has been in some crappy movies and continues to be, which is unfortunate because he is a really good actor. After the disappointment that was Nim's Island, Breslin shows that she is still a good little actress. Banks is sweet as Reynold's high school sweetheart. Fisher is beautiful and charming as ever as the one that always gets away. Weisz, the more mature and serious woman of the bunch, radiates with warmth. There is not a single mistake in casting here, all the actors are perfect for the roles that they are in and all do a great job.

My girlfriend Kelly and I have had are ups and downs. We have been together for two years this month, well sort of, since we each broke up with each other twice during that time. There have been times where I just couldn't see myself with her anymore and times where she has felt like that too. We fight a lot and hard at that. One time she threw half my DVD collection at me and slapped me in the face. I have never physically hurt her and never will, but I have hurt her with words. I recently read a study that said fighting and disagreements in a relationship is a good thing. Being in a relationship where nothing ever seems wrong, probably means that something is wrong, its just that one of you are lying about it.

Reynold's character in Definitely, Maybe has to make a lot of relationship decisions that are tough to make. Like I said before, being in a relationship is tough, and you never know exactly what lies ahead. The movie knows this and deals with these situations rather realistically. I like where I am at now with Kelly and I have seriously thought of marrying her someday. You never know what will happen in a relationship down the road, but unlike the characters in this movie, I hope there are no speed bumps.

Definitely, Maybe: 7 out of 10

The DVD features include deleted scenes, audio commentary and bonus featurettes.


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Monday, August 4, 2008

MOVIE: NIM'S ISLAND



Nim's Island is a 2008 American film directed by Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin. The film stars Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster, and Gerard Butler. The story is a adventure-fantasy film based on the book Nim's Island by Wendy Orr, a Canadian-born Australian writer.

A young girl, Nim (Breslin), seeks help from the author of her favourite adventure series when her scientist father (Butler) goes missing. Nim, though, lives on an island in the South Pacific. The author, Alexandra Rover (Foster), is an agoraphobic living in San Francisco. Rover overcomes her fears and sets out in search of Nim while Nim tries to overcome her fear of losing her father. In the meantime, a cruise ship company threatens to invade Nim's island with uncouth tourists.




I am always down for a fantasy adventure film that is aimed towards the younger kids. Just read my review of The Spiderwick Chronicles that I wrote last week. Like Spiderwick, Nim's Island has the heart but it's not in the right place, it's actually all over the place. The film takes a simple premise and stretches it for the entire film. Nothing that exciting is going on but the film seems to think so.

It takes forever for Nim to realize that her dad is not coming back when he said he would. It takes forever for Foster to leave her apartment. It takes her forever to get to the island. It takes forever for Nim to make the tourist ship go away. It takes forever for Nim's dad to get back home. This all happens in 4 days, when it feels like 4 years.

Breslin is cute and so are the animals that she befriends. Foster is good but kind of over doing it a bit and Butler is, well, Butler. The scenes with the tourist ship turning the island into a resort and Nim trying to kick them off is not exciting or funny, just there. That's how all the scenes in the movie feel. They all feel like they are just there and thats that. There is also so much waves knocking people off boats in this movie that I thought I was watching The Perfect Storm. Nim tries but doesn't succeed as a good family film.

Nim's Island: 4 out of 10

The DVD features the director's and writer's commentary, along with commentary from Breslin and Foster, deleted scenes and featurettes.


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MOVIE: THE COUNTERFEITERS



The Counterfeiters (German: Die Fälscher) is an Academy Award winning 2007Austrian/German film written and directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky. It fictionalizes Operation Bernhard, a secret plan by the Nazis during the Second World War to destabilize the United Kingdom by flooding its economy with forged Bank of England currency. It won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar at the 80th Academy Awards in 2008 for Austria.

Ruzowitzky explores the moral corrosion of Nazi complicity with this tightly wound adaptation of Adolf Burger's fact-based book The Devil's Workshop. Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics) may be a talented artist at heart, but his desire for wealth has driven him to use his creativity for more nefarious means. Arrested by the police inspector Herzog (Devid Striesow) at the onset of World War II, Sorowitsch is sent to the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp. It's not long before Salomon's thinly veiled opportunism earns him a relatively comfortable position as the camp's resident sketch artist, and five years later he is mysteriously swept away to Sachsenhausen.

Upon arriving at the camp, Sorowitsch discovers that Herzog, now a commandant, is attempting to destabilize the economies of the Allies while simultaneously funding the Nazi war machine by assembling a special team of counterfeit artists to create millions in fraudulent pounds and dollars. As the operation gets under way, Sorowitsch finds the efforts of the team continually undermined by unyieldingly idealistic collotype specialist Adolf Burger (August Diehl). In the months that follow, the team wrestles with their consciences as Axis forces are gradually overwhelmed by Allied might.




I was surprised that The Counterfeiters won the Oscar for best foreign language film because I'm pretty sure I've seen a bunch of foreign films this past year that were way better. I'm surprised that it even got nominated to tell you the truth. Maybe Oscar voters just don't have good taste in foreign films. Take for example Amelie not winning the Oscar or A Very Long Engagement not even getting a nomination, losing out to The Chorus, which was a crappy film. Maybe Counterfeiters was up against some even worse movies, I don't know since I haven't seen any of the other ones that were nominated yet.

I am just shocked that a movie this bad even won an Oscar. It has all the setup to be an Oscar contending movie though. You have WWII, Nazi's, concentration camps and Jews fighting to survive. What more do you need in a film to be nominated for an Oscar? However, The Counterfeiters doesn't know how to use these things to make a good movie. The direction is horrible with hardly any establishing shots. Just a lot of close-ups of faces and shaky camera work. The camera shakes and zooms into faces so much that it makes The Blair Witch Project look like Lawrence of Arabia. The film quality is also very bad. It's almost like watching an episode of 24.

The acting is probably the only good thing in the movie. Markovics does a fine job, even if he is kind of hard on the eyes. His face looks like someone hit it with a sledgehammer and he has the personality of a marble. He has sex twice in the movie and you have to wonder if those women might have been mentally handicapped.

The movie begins, continues and ends very uninterestingly. The fact that the movie was based on a true story must have been lost on the filmmakers because they make no attempt to take that story and make it interesting in anyway. The writing is bad and uneventful. There is no way that this true story, set in a concentration camp, could have been this boring. I blame the filmmakers and not the true events or even the book it was based on.

The Counterfeiters: 3 out of 10

The DVD features director's commentary, a making-of featurette, deleted scenes and interviews with the cast and crew.


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Sunday, August 3, 2008

MUSIC: AMANDA PALMER "RUNS IN THE FAMILY"



"Runs In The Family" is a single off of Who Killed Amanda Palmer, the forthcoming debut solo effort by Amanda Palmer, lead singer, pianist, and lyricist/composer of the "Brechtian punk cabaret" duo The Dresden Dolls.

The album was mostly recorded in Nashville, TN with collaborator Ben Folds and will be released on Roadrunner Records (also home to The Dresden Dolls). The name of the album is a reference to the series Twin Peaks, which revolves around events surrounding the death of Laura Palmer.

Certain tracks will also feature Folds on percussion and keyboards and former Rasputina member Zoë Keating on cello.

The magazine Alternative Press named this album one of the "Most Anticipated Albums of 2008".

On April 20, 2008, Amanda confirmed in an interview with Penguins in the Desert on WHRW, Binghamton University's radio station, that the release date would be September 16, 2008.




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MUSIC: M83 "KIM & JESSIE"



"Kim & Jessie" is a single off of Saturdays=Youth, an album by French electronic group M83.

The album was recorded with Ken Thomas (known for his work with Sigur Rós, The Sugarcubes, Cocteau Twins and Suede) and Ewan Pearson (who has also produced for Tracey Thorn, The Rapture and Ladytron). The album is said to deliver the rich sonic textures for which M83 is well known, but with a more focused approach to song structure and form.

"Kim and Jessie" was the third single.

The album hit number 107 on the billboard 200.

"KIM & JESSIE" MP3




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MUSIC: DEVENDRA BANHART "CARMENSITA"



"Carmensita" is a single off of Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, a Devendra Banhart album. This album features more instrumentation than the previous records, as well as more genre experimentation. The album was #19 on Rolling Stone's list of the Top 50 Albums of 2007.

"CARMENSITA" MP3




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