Monday, December 18, 2006

Akeelah and the Bee

If you like Spelling Bees, you will like this movie. Although "Akeelah and the Bee" is a little cheesy, it stays just enough unpredictable to keep you interested and rooting for Akeelah. I watched this film on a 15 hour car ride home from Florida and I did thoroughly enjoy the viewing experience. I have to admit that some of the scenes were moving and I may have teared up a little. Emotional confessions aside, it is a film worthy of all the critics praise this year and those kids can spell.

The Upside of Anger

"The Upside of Anger" showcases Kevin Costner in yet another baseball role, but this time he is a retired baseball player that likes the drink a little too much. I loved this movie. It came out a while ago and I remember that it got very little marketing, but this is a great film. It is about a family's struggles after their husband/father leaves them. Joan Allen plays the wife/mother who, having once been a very happy person, is now VERY angry. The movie focuses on her interactions with her four beautiful daughters and their family friend. This movie mad me laugh, sad, and happy all rolled into one and I love that! It's a very realistic portrayal of life without the hideously dark and artistic portrayal that I get so sick of.

The Pursuit of Happyness

"The Pursuit of Happyness" is a decent film with an excellent cast. I did enjoy the film, but felt that it was a little long at a run time of 117 min. The story was touching, but it was really predictable. Without a doubt, the acting was superb and believable with Will Smith playing a man struggling to create a real life for his son. Ever since I saw "Six Degrees of Separation" I knew that Will Smith was an incredible actor and this piece is another example of his ability. While I did enjoy this movie, I will have to recommend it for DVD rental. There's really no need to see it in the theater and I may have liked it more if I had been in the comfort of my own home.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Stranger than Fiction

"Stranger than Fiction" is a funny film following a boring and regimented man who works for the IRS. As he performs his daily menial tasks he begins hearing narration of his own life. The film progresses as he attempts to determine who is doing the narration and begins to examine his own life at the same time. Working as an IRS auditor has few perks and some funny scenes ensue as he attempts to perform a job that he begins to realize has very little appeal to him. Will Ferrell's interactions with his fellow castmates is right on and all of the performances are believable and revealing. It's amazing to see the correlation between film and writing and the depth of study into literature and writers is excellent. This film shows an appealing humanity and smart humor that everyone will enjoy.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Casino Royale

I have to admit that I have seen every James Bond movie. I used to watch the marathons on TBS during summer vacation when I was in elementary school. (Marathons also watched include...Elvis musicals and Frankie Avalon beach movies.) Casino Royale has changed the texture of the Bond genre. Gone are the tired cliches of the classic James bond movies, we now get to see a little bit into the mind of James Bond (He has a mind?) and begin to understand his motivations. I have to applaud the film makers in picking this particular book as a platform for the new James Bond, Daniel Craig, it allows Bond to start over in film and in person.

I have read the book, and while the film is different, I didn't like it any less. Daniel Craig brings a realness to James Bond that hasn't been seen for a long time. It was great to see all of the cheesiness removed and a physically fit and young guy play the lead! I highly recommend this film to all Bond and non-Bond fans.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Marty (1955)

Marty is a refreshingly real movie about a middle aged bachelor-butcher, Ernest Borgnine, who has gone through life being mistreated by indifferent women. He lives with a mother who has married off the rest of her offspring and harasses the low self-esteemed Marty about his single status. "Marty" follows the bachelor life of this butcher as he tries to make everyone else around him happy until he meets a "dog" of a woman that is his female equivalent."Marty" reminded me of the current wave of independent films that follow realistic characters around in there depressing lives. Except, this film is truer to life in that it has real ups and downs. Life isn't really as those independent films portray with no hope and full of malignant people and depressing circumstances. Many people lead happy lives with hardships and trials similar to Marty; there is hope and happiness out there amidst the hard times.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Benchwarmers- The worst movie I have seen this year

I had low expectations for "The Benchwarmers" and was not surprised when those expectations were met. I knew that I wasn't going to be watching a movie with much of a plot, but this movie had a plot that made absolutely no sense and seemed to be very forced.
I absolutely loved Rob Schneider in other Adam Sandler movies because he was superb at playing the completely whacking, and yet wholly realized, friend of the protagonist. In "The Benchwarmers" he plays the protagonist, a normal guy with very little depth, and it felt like he was acting as if he was normal when his wild side really wanted to come out. Rob, let that dirty Hawaiian out. The acting in this movie was horrible by every actor and the past roles of these actors in no way redeem them from their stunted performances in this movie. Jen Heder, David Spade, and Jon Lovitz all play caricatures of themselves. Each line had a forced delivery and the dialogue had no natural rhythm.
Do not go see this movie for the few laughs it had, it's not worth the agony of sitting through the whole movie.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Talladega Nights

"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" exceeded my expectations by having some really funny moments and enough of a plot to keep me interested. The story follows Ricky Bobby as he becomes the best race car driver only to come up against a new (better) driver and then goes through a series of problems trying to beat this French nemesis on the track. The cast for this movie was excellent and Will Ferrell gave an excellent performance playing a man with two first names. I could not stop laughing when he started running around the track with only his underwear on.
As a side note, Nathan and I watched this movie in a teenager filled theater with kids that have no understanding of anything that has occurred before they were born. A few jokes in this movie revolved around “Highlander” movie and not only 3 people in the theater laughed: Nathan, me, and some other old dude. The girl next to me asked, “What’s the highlander?” It saddens me that none of these kiddies have seen that classic Sean Connery film complete with swords and guys with kilts.
I do not think I would see this movie again, however, because I could do without the racing sequences as that's not really my cup of tea. Go see this movie if you like to laugh at Will Ferrell in his underwear.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Family Stone

I resisted seeing "The Family Stone" for a long time even though it received good reviews from professional critics and friends had told me that they liked it. Well, I finally rented and watched it. I was prepared to be really annoyed by some of the actors and actresses, but they all surprised me by playing their roles so well that I was drawn into the movie and watched the characters and not the actors.
It was a lot more thought provoking and fresh than the ads ever insinuated. While some of the plot lines where predictable, the humor and portrayal was new enough to make it a really good movie. It was a great mix of humor, drama, and romance and I highly recommend this to males and females alike.
PS: Luke Wilson was hilarious.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Lake House

I was tempted to walk out of the movie theater after watching Keanu Reeves "act" after the first few minutes of this movie. I even whispered that it seemed as if he was a high school student performing in his first play.
Keanu plays an architect and, in the beginning of the movie, is busy walking around a job site telling the contractor which part of the foundation to pour next and how to shuffle workers around to get the job moving faster. Right, like an architect on condominium projects has that much control over the construction process. I couldn't believe how incongruent the writer's and director's view of architecture was with reality. It only takes about 5 minutes to research how architects really work and all you have to do is, at the very least, step into an architect’s office. There were lots of drafting boards shown, but no computers in the offices shown.
Hollywood's take on architectural theory made me want to vomit. The movie would have been a lot better without the pretentious and incorrect architectural sub-plot. This movie couldn't make up its mind as to whether it wanted to be a chick-flick or a deep-meaning melo-drama.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cell: A Novel

I was not sure if I wanted to read Stephen King's latest novel, "Cell", because, let's face it, I judged a book by its cover. I saw the bloody cell phone and assumed that this book was about some stalker with a cell phone. I don't know why I jumped to that conclusion, but the whole cover really turned me off of reading the novel. I managed to pick up the book after ready a tiny article stating that it was more of an apocalyptic scenario and I love those!
I liked this book, but I did not love it. I found the characters to be surprisingly 2-dimensional. One thing I love about Stephen King’s writing is the depth of his characters and how you feel as if you really know everything about every insignificant person. I love that omniscient viewpoint, but it's missing from this novel. The characters remain characters and never become real.
I did enjoy the plot of this novel as it was inventive and managed to keep me entertained even if this was a caricature of a Stephen King novel. I miss the old Stephen King.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Aeron Chair- A La Mode

“Combining distinctive looks with pioneering ergonomics, Aeron performs like no other chair. It adapts naturally and adjusts precisely to fit people of all sizes and postures doing all kinds of activities, all day long. The imaginative design of both the work and side chairs gives superior comfort, body support, and style that are widely copied but never matched.”
-Herman Miller Website

I find it interesting that this “ergonomically perfect” chair has very traditional looking cushion on it. This chair was given to our division manager by a local furniture representative and has, obviously, not met his needs. Subsequently, this jarringly different cushion was placed on a very contemporary chair.

I gave this marriage of chair and cushion two Leos, because I have to laugh every time I walk by it. Don’t get me wrong, I doubt the chair is performing incorrectly; it probably needs to be adjusted to fit my division manager, but why bother when you can use a cushion that doesn’t remotely blend with its aesthetics?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Guyver (aka: Power Rangers)

This is a review of the first minutes of a horrible movie that was released in 1992 called "Guyver". Its illustrious stars include Mark Hamill, JJ (from "Good Times"), and the creepy cannibal from the original "The Hills have Eyes". I feel compelled to write this review because the movie was incredibly bad. It amazes me that anyone signed up to work on this project.
It is in the Science/Fiction genre and follows a college kid that gets super-human powers from an alien device and then goes on to fight these alien monsters. The graphics and acting were very much on par with "Power Rangers".
Now, the reason I gave this movie a review of one Leo is because Mark Hamill has a mustache in it. It's nice to see him change it up every once in a while.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bleak House

"Bleak House" is, without a doubt, my favorite production of a Dicken's novel. It does credit to the writing and art of this mini-series that, although some of the main characters aren't incredibly attractive, you get drawn in to the plot and become emotionally invested in each character. The plot had its usual twists and turns and kept you on your toes enough to become completely involved.
The casting in the series was terrific and completely believable. You should recognize Lady Dedlock from “X-files”, the Nemo from “Sliding Doors”, and you might recognize John Jarndice as a pilot from the original “Star Wars”. It’s productions like this that make me really want an English accent and frolic around in my misery with the rest of the aristocracy and pseudo-aristocracy.
This series is not for the faint of heart, however, and can only be recommended if you are willing to sit through 8 hours at one time. I was unable to stop watching and couldn’t wait for the next installment as it was shown on PBS.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Zardoz- An Epic of Crap

Zardoz is an obscure Science Fiction/ Fantasy movie released in 1974 and stars Sean Connery in a post-Bond role. I have to say that this might be the worst movie I have ever seen. All of the sequences are drawn out and confused with one scene taking place inside of a tiny crystal that Connery has somehow traveled into. The scene continues with other characters mysteriously waving their arms at him in the crystal's facets for ten minutes. Did I mention Sean Connery wears a 1970's orange sarong thong for most of the movie? Not a great look on an extremely hairy man.
This film is about inequality between the elite and the masses. The elite are infiltrated by a spy who, in a thong, makes no attempt to hide his purpose and was once a thug for the elite to keep down the masses in the name of a god called Zardoz. Connery turns on the elite after discovering that Zardoz is actually fake and is no more than one of the elite's pet projects to use the stupid masses for his own amusement. Zardoz turns out to be a name created from a book called "The WiZARD of OZ". While the immortal elite attempt to suppress the mortal masses, in the end we discover that the elite want nothing more than to die at the hands of the masses in an odd suicidal way.
As I was desperately attempting to follow the meandering plot I was struck by the style of the film and how each decade and genre of film tend to maintain periods of film that are all very similar. Zardoz reminded me of a poorly executed Logan's Run. You can see traces of the psychedelic 1960's lingering, but the 1970's lifestyle is in full force.
I recommend this movie to people that like movies with barely clad, furry men.

Friday, January 13, 2006

His Dark Materials- The Golden Compass

I have learned long ago that I enjoy books for the quality of the material and that I shouldn't discriminate based on the intended audience of the book. His Dark Materials
Book One-The Golden Compass
, by Philip Pullman is an excellent example of a fantasy novel created for young adults that transcends that category. In my opinion this Young Adult category, in its best sense, means that foul language and sexual content have been eliminated from the story. Although I enjoy a little foul language every once in a while I notice no lack in a novel when it is absent.
This novel follows a young scamp of a girl through a world that is very similar to our nineteenth century world. Lyra resides, as an orphan, at Oxford and is thrust, through her own intense curiosity, into a religious and metaphysical maze of treachery. Gradually she is able to piece together answers to a number of strange occurrences that include disappearing children and a beautiful woman with a golden monkey. You see, there is at least one big difference in this world. People have physical representations of their souls, called deamons. While children have deamons that are able to change form at their whim, adults have deamons in a fixed form. This is at the heart the novel and allows Lyra to finally begin to uncover what a mysterious substance, called Dust, really is.
Philip Pullman pulls the reader into this piece through a fantastic portrayal and adventure of a young girl that one can easily relate to amidst the strange world that she lives. I was enthralled throughout the whole book as I could never begin to guess what would happen next. The flaws in each character give this story something to sink your teeth into and allow you to truly engross yourself in this tantalizing world. One thing that intrigued me was the idea of a physical soul. Each character seems to have a deep and affectionate bond with their deamons, but I can't help but wonder what would happen to a person filled with self-loathing.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Woman Behind the Cat

You may ask, "Why is that cat so critical?" Let me explain...
A few years ago I picked up the odd habit of qualifying statements by saying, "Four out of five 'Leos' agree...". It's a silly statement and was created from merging toothpaste commercials, a "Kids in the Hall" skit, and my cat, Leo. He's a very picky cat, so I have anthropomorphized him into actually caring about more things than simply how fuzzy he is.
I have found, over the years, that I really enjoy reading peoples opinions and I sure do like to give my own. So, this blog is an open medium to review anything and everything as I see, read, or hear. I don’t want to just read my own reviews (Oh, No!!) I want to see other people’s opinions, too.