WARRIOR, A WINNER

This is one of those long films that have a lot to say before it gets into the action it has been promoting.  Warrior depends on its inspirational message to keep the audience entertained while they wait for the fierce fighting that makes this movie a winner.

 

Much like The Fighter, last years Oscar nominated film, the movie pits two brothers against each other in a battle of pride, redemption and anguish over their past relationships with family.  Here however, we find the two Tommy (Tom Hardy) now an ex-marine and Brendan (Joel Edgerton) now a teacher at odds with each other due to an incident that happened when they were young involving their father Paddy (Nick Nolte) who coached them as wrestlers.

 

Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton star in WARRIOR

The story opens with Tommy coming home after being embarrassed in the Marine Corps for misconduct.  His main reason is to enlist his father’s help in winning a ‘winner takes all’ mixed martial arts tournament called Sparta. Surprised by his return Paddy tries to reconcile, but the only way Tommy will accept him is if he trains him for Sparta.  When Brendan gets to word that Paddy is training Tommy he enters Sparta.

 

The acting here is very good and both Hardy and Edgerton fit the mold of two brothers at odds with each other and are fit to enter the ring.  Director Gavin O’Connor (Miracle) takes the men to their limits in both a physical and psychological way.  The final confrontation between the two ranks high in the film world with Raging Bull, The Fighter and Rocky.

Nick Nolte stars as Paddy in WARRIOR

 

But the star of the film comes from an outstanding performance by Nick Nolte as the father who has to make an unpopular decision in order to save his family.  As a recovering alcoholic Nolte’s Paddy finds himself in a pressure situation to which most alcoholics would succumb.  Trying to overcome the past and make things right Paddy tries to reconcile but finally has to decide between his two sons.  It’s a gut wrencher of a role and Nolte pulls it off.  Look for an Oscar nomination for Supporting Actor for Nolte.

 

Good cinematography, sound and choreography are paramount to the final fight and Masanobu Takayanagi (Babel) camera, Ben Wilkins (Final Destination 5) sound editor, J. J. Perry (Haywire) stunt coordinator, work in tandem to produce an amazing explosive martial arts battle.

 

Warrior is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense mixed martial arts fighting, some language and thematic material.  The film spans 2 hours and 19 minutes so you may want to bring along a cushion.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good production with a cringing story. (B)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS IN 3D Blu-ray

 

Things are changing fast in the world of home video and Disney has not fallen behind. Now in release is one of there all time favorites The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D.  The 3D box set comes with 3 disks, Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD/Digital hybrid.  But the biggest delight is the 3D quality that enhances the clarity and depth of the film for an amazing performance.

 

The film has been in theaters off and on over the years since it was first released.  However for those who haven’t seen the film the animated story by Tim Burton goes like this: Bored with his perennial role as Halloween Town’s frightening Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington wanders off and discovers the cheerful village of Christmas Town. Determined to shake things up in Halloween Town, he enlists the help of some mischievous trick-or-treaters to kidnap Santa Claus and takes over the job of delivering gifts to the children of the world himself. When his plan goes awry, Jack attempts to restore Santa to his rightful place. But first, he must rescue St. Nick from the clutches of the evil Oogie Boogie!

 

The extras are plenty and include:

 

A Special Introduction by Tim Burton

 

What’s This? Jack’s Haunted Mansion Holiday Tour – Viewers choose the way they want to tour Disneyland’s Holiday Haunted Mansion. “On Track” explores a tricked-out version of the Haunted Mansion, while “Off Track” reveals what went into creating all the creepy fun.

 

Frankenweenie Short Film– A un-cut version of the Frankenweenie short with introduction by Tim Burton.

 

Vincent Short Film

 

Tim Burton’s Original poem narrated by Christopher Lee – Tim Burton’s poem that inspired the creation of the movie. Now, the original verse comes to creepy life as performed by legendary actor Christopher Lee.

 

Film Commentary – commentary by producer and writer Tim Burton, director Henry Selick and composer Danny Elfman.

 

The Making of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – Go behind the scenes of the very first full-length stop motion animated movie with the filmmakers.

 

The Worlds of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – Witness the creation of the film’s richly imagined dreamscapes, including Halloween Town, Christmas Town and the Real World.

 

Deleted Scenes

 

But, will the kids like the film?  With Halloween just weeks away it fits right into the holiday season and mature youngsters should gobble the film up, especially if you have Blu-ray or the ultimate Blu-ray 3D.

 

GENIUS ON HOLD, REMARKABLE

Not all documentaries can make a mark in society, but I found Genius On Hold a remarkable film that takes a crack at big business and proves positive.  Genius On Hold is eye opening, courageous and extraordinary. It’s a father and son story of fate that intertwines life struggles, crime and monopolies, which decide their future.  If there’s one documentary you see this year, make it be Genius On Hold.

 

From a meager life to a chance at gaining a fortune, Walter HL Shaw starts out as the model for the epitome of the American dream.  Raising a family, Shaw took any job he could get leading to his union with Bell Telephone who discovered that he could invent things for Bell that others of his ilk could only take a back seat.  With his development of the telephone like two-way communications, feedback neutralization, etc. for the sole telephone giant Shaw was dismayed that he was not receiving credit or monetary recompense equal to the task.

Walter HL Shaw at Congressional hearings

Leaving the company, Shaw took a chancy direction in order to make his newest inventions a reality.  Being suppressed by Bell, he desperately turned to other more illegal tactics to earn a living for himself and his family including the New York Mob bosses of the Cosa Nostra.  When the government steps in however, Shaw finds himself in the helpless hands of a defense with little power against a rigorous political system.

 

But that’s not all the documentary covers as it reveals and rehashes the underworld to which Shaw was enticed to be a party.  Putting the mob in perspective, this part of the film imbues the facts showing the mob-busting era of the United States Congress in which Shaw found himself involved.

Walter T Shaw with friends circa. 1969

That’s not the only downfall the family incurred, Genius On Hold also interlaces the life of Walter T. Shaw, son of the inventor who became disillusioned by his father’s conviction for illegal activities and took on a negative insight into social norms.  Taking a path of crime, he became known as the infamous jewel thief who robbed rich mansions as the owners sat in their dining rooms eating their dinner.  Although I felt that it was somewhat of a departure from the main story, it does add affect and impact to the documentary and shows the destruction of a father son relationship.

 

Mesmerized throughout by Frank Langella’s narration, I found myself fascinated and engrossed in this piece of history and the injustice to Shaw by the Bell Corporation (AT&T).  Nicely pieced together, director Gregory Marquette keeps the story moving along at a fast clip intertwining Shaw’s story with the historical value it brings forth.  Using bits and pieces of Shaw’s life told by his son Walter T. and daughter Linda Honey, the reality of the message here is the ‘small man versus the conglomerate’ or the ‘personal brilliance of a one man that was stolen from him because it could’.

Walter Sr and Jr circa. 1996

Genius On Hold is a must see and remarkably a current event with the AT&T (Bell) attempted merger with T-mobile.  Setting the record straight however, has been a long and uphill chore for Walter HL Shaw’s family, yet an eye opener for all who view the film.

 

The haunting song “One More Day” by singer songwriters Isaac Koren and Thorold Koren sets the somber tone while the credits roll with lyrics that implore the listener to look back at their own lives and into the soul of their fathers.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A stroke of genius, and now we all know. (A)

 

NOTE: Walter HL Shaw’s 39 inventions include: speakerphone, voice print recognition system (patent pending), call forwarding, White House ‘alert system’, touchtone phone, answer machine, conference calling and more.

Conference Call device, one of Shaw's 39 inventions

 

 

A GOOD OLD FASHION ORGY, WILD AND WEIRD

This summer has hatched a lot of comedies and that’s a good thing.  Keeping the laughter coming, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy does it’s level best to entertain and it does.  For one thing it’s got a great cast of comedic actors working with a weird little script that delivers.  It may sound like a lot of hooey but A Good Old Fashioned Orgy is worth a look.

 

The screwy film goes something like this; Eric (Jason Sudeikis) has been hosting themed super parties at his father’s vacation home since High School and this season’s shindig was way over the top.  Just when he’s totally satisfied with himself and his closest friends are still celebrating with him, his father drops by to tell him he’s selling the place.  Totally distraught, he decides to have one last unforgettable party for himself and seven of his closest friends.

Eric (Sudeikis) and McCrudden (Labine) doing research
Eric (Sudeikis) and McCrudden (Labine) doing research

 

After a lot of thought Eric decides the theme should be an orgy party. Although not everyone is initially hot about it, each of the friends start coming on board for his or her own personal reasons.

 

Why this script works are the cast and the reasons for participating.  Although some jump in because of the sexual theme others have other things on their minds. The chemistry between the paired off couples works well and the characters they portray are believable enough to just go with it.

Eric (Sudeikis) and Kelly (Leslie Bibb)

I do not envy the job of directors Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck who have to make the film live up to its title.  Although working with a cast that has had their share of working together in an adult themed television show doesn’t hurt, such as Leslie Bibb as Kelly (The League), Lake Bell as Alison (The League), Martin Star as Duquez (The League) and Nick Kroll as Adam (The League).  That seemed to work to their advantage here as the cast looked very comfortable in their roles.  Throw in the fact that the two helms worked together on King of the Hill and The Letterman Show.

 

Getting the audience to believe that the orgy would really take place is a bit of a stretch, but when you throw in the reasons why the women jumped in it does make sense.  Add to this the research that Eric and McCrudden (Tyler Labine) had to do for the party makes their final love-in look tame.

 

The film is rated R for pervasive strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. It’s a wild and raunchy time, just the ticket for a man-group get together.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A howling good time. (B)

THE DEBT, A SIZZLER THAT FIZZLES

A fairly good drama with a lot of intrigue bows at local movie theatres starring a fine cast.  Although the actors do an excellent job of portraying the interesting characters, the story gets muddled a bit with questions of reality.  If you like films geared to getting you incensed about Nazi war crimes then The Debt is worth a look.

 

The film centers on Stephan and David, two Israeli Nazi war criminal hunters who get an assignment to track down a Dr. Vogel in Russian occupied East Berlin during the 60’s wall era.  Stephen and David have Vogel ready for capture but they need someone to be the patient in their plan.  Rachel, a retired agent accepts the assignment and meets up with Stephen and David in the dangerous occupied zone.  Although the capture takes a turn for the worse, the three find themselves heroes.  Years later, a horrible secret comes to a head.

Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington in THE DEBT

Intrigue saves The Debt from an early downfall in this fictional account of the capture of a Nazi war criminal.  Stellar acting helps the drama unfold nicely as the story skips from one era to another and back again.  I enjoyed the determination showed by the actors to make their characters real and fallible, but the story in my estimation gets implausible.

 

The twist here is not how they perceive the hunt and capture to work, but that no matter how intricate the caper the consequences would have been accepted, especially if you are an Israeli secret agent and true to the cause.  This bothered me and no matter how I played it in my mind I could not come up accepting the outcome of the film. I would be interested in finding out if any of my readers come up with the same conclusion.

 

John Madden does a good job of separating the past and present in The Debt.  Weaving the crime to the injustice, and then infusing the final justice, Madden keeps his audience on edge till the final twist of fate.  Although he did his job, the failed script becomes the loser here.

 

The film is rated R for some violence and language, but be aware that there are some very brutal scenes.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: The production flaw here is in the script. (C )


POINT BLANK, adrenaline pumping thriller

 

Thrilling, Intriguing and vicious Point Blank keeps the adrenaline pumping with excitement at every turn.  A fine cast ably directed by Fred Cavaye puts the film in a league with The Departed.  If you like a lot of action with a harrowing storyline then go and see Point Blank.

 

Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) is a male nurse working at a hospital when his pregnant wife Nadia (Elana Anaya) gets kidnapped before his very eyes. Knocked unconscious, he comes to and discovers that a dangerous criminal named Sartet (Roschdy Zem) is responsible, and if he’s ever to see his wife again, he must do Sartet’s bidding. Samuel quickly finds himself pitted against rival gangsters and trigger-happy police in a deadly race to save the lives of his wife and unborn child.

Gilles Lellouche as Samuel in POINT BLANK

Acting by Gilles Lellouche, Elana Anaya and Roschdy Zem can only be described with words like realistic, stunning and gripping.  The three take on the major roles and with the fine direction of Fred Cavaye put on a great show.  I especially like Lellouche’s energy as Samuel who finds himself in some crazy dangerous situations while trying to free his pregnant wife.  Never wavering, his character pushes forward not knowing what his next test may be.

Samuel (Lallouche) and Nadia (Elana Anaya) in Point Blank

Anaya’s performance as the pregnant wife who has to face a brutal kidnapper with only a month left to her due date.  Her acting gets so realistic that you can feel her fright, exasperation and stamina as Nadia fights to keep her and her unborn baby alive. If she could be nominated for an Oscar, she certainly should be for the realism she put in her anguished character.

 

The cinematography by Alain Duplantier is outstanding getting shots that set the tone for the incredible chases, brutal attacks and punishing reprisals.  Duplantier’s next photography project is just a month away and pits Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro against some nasty assassins in Killer Elite. I can’t wait to see the production, if the camera work’s anything like Point Blank it’s sure to be a winner.

 

Point Blank is rated R for strong violence and some language.  The film also contains scenes of brutality and a disturbing image. The film is presented in French with English Subtitles.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A must see for the story and performances. (A)


 

 

 

 

DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, A KILLER CHILLER

The summer has been running out of gas and tries to get a boost from several remakes including another horror film called Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.  It’s a tale of things that go bump in the night.  In this case it’s little monsters that have a plan.  I like a good horror flick now and then and I found this film a winner in the crowded market.  My only question; why it isn’t being released during the Halloween season, a perfect opportunity missed.

 

The story finds Sally (Bailee Madison) a demure youngster moving in with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend Kim (Katie Holmes) in a huge 19th century manor where they are renovating it for a quick sale.  Being easily bored Sally explores the huge old mansion in wonderment.  At one point she discovers the house has a secret lower level that has not been entered for almost a hundred years. While exploring a little too much she accidentally opens a doorway that contains creatures intent on destroying everyone in the household.

Bailee Madison as Sally in DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK

The whole cast does a very good job of showing off their skills as a family in distress.  I liked Holmes in the roll of the ‘surrogate mommy’ who has to try to win Sally over.  She does an excellent job showing her frustration of not being able to soothe Sally’s feelings that she was cast off by her mother to live with her father.  When things start getting heated up in the horror department, Kim’s the one who has to deal with the worst blow.

Madison and Troy Nixey on the set of DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK

The star of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark however is Bailee Madison who makes her character believably startled yet curious, then strong in the face of the beast.  Her bewitching eyes, inquisitive mind and captivating smile get turned into a frightful horror that imbues a state of incredible terror. Controlling the circumstances and enabling the plot to spool out slowly not showing his beasts until well into the film, director Troy Nixey does a good job with his young actor keeping her intent with finding out just what she’s up against.

 

What adds to a good horror flick is the camera work and in this film, there are a lot of excellent shots including a scene in the cellar that will blow your mind.  Aided by some very good CGI, cinematographer Oliver Stapleton (Unthinkable) puts the audience into a very brutal and scary arena filled with ugly creatures that tear, slice and scratch.  His shots of the exterior mansion and the grounds keep the film chilling and cold, while his interiors are a playground for horror.

 

The film is rated R for violence and terror.  There are some scenes of brutality and gore that are very realistic and should only be viewed by mature adults.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A killer of a chiller  (B).


OUR IDIOT BROTHER, A LOSER

 

If you are looking for a comedy that has a lot of laughs and surprising situations, Our Idiot Brother fails to deliver.  Opening late in the summer wasn’t a good idea since the film comes on the heels of a fairly good year for human humor.  A lot of ‘seen that’ and ‘not too original’ puts this film on a fast track to a low box office.  If you haven’t seen a comedy this year, then maybe it’s worth a watch.

Ned (Paul Rudd) with Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) in OUR IDIOT BROTHER

We enter the life of Ned (Paul Rudd) a 30 something loser that sells homegrown vegetables at an open market with his hippie girl friend Janet (Kathryn Hahn).   Being the idiot he is, Ned sells some pot to a uniformed cop in a sting operation. Serving a short time due to good behavior, Ned gets out of jail only to find out Janet has taken over the business is shacking up with a friend and has no need for him.  Ned decides that his only salvation is to take his problem to his mom and three sisters.  When the family starts taking him in one sibling at a time, their lives start turning upside down.

 

Rudd plays his usual lifeless self with deadpan comedy that has become the industry standard for the loner guy.  You’ve probably seen this character before, especially if you follow film stars like Steve Carell (Crazy, Stupid, Love), Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses), Adam Sandler (Just Go With It), Kevin James (Zookeeper), well you get the idea.  Here however, it’s the script that causes Rudd to crash and burn.  His character is so insipid that you cannot feel sorry for the dumb looser.  And the messes he makes are way too avoidable to be realistic.

Elizabeth Banks,Emily Mortimer and Zooey Deschanel as Ned's sisters

In addition to the uncreative writing, part of the blame must go to director Jesse Peretz who didn’t recognize that his story was hackneyed and needed a good script doctor to ramp it up for better entertainment value.  It wasn’t that he didn’t have a great cast including Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer with which to work.  The three likable ladies were dumbed down so much however; it made Rudd’s character look brilliant.  As for predictability, well lets not go there…enough said.

 

Our Idiot Brother is rated R for sexual content including nudity, and for language throughout.  The nudity is mostly gratuitous and not involving the main female cast, the profanity gets very loose and sometimes embarrassing.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A wreck that started with the script. (D)

 

CONAN THE BARBARIAN, SWEET REMAKE

Hollywood has a way of reinventing things by rejuvenating characters and bringing them up to date with all the bells and whistles necessary to make it ‘fresh and new.’  This is the case of the film Conan the Barbarian where they have remade a classic adding all the CGI bells and whistles then throwing in some topless women for eye candy.  If you love a medieval action adventure that kicks butt, there’s a thrill a minute in the ‘new’ Conan the Barbarian.

 

The story takes place during the Hyborian Age where beastly men look for ways to become Gods.  After being sliced from his dieing mother’s womb, Conan gets raised by Corin (Ron Pearlman) his father a strong man and protector of the village. The villagers arch nemesis a Cimmerian warrior Kahalar Zym (Stephen Lang) pays Corin’s village a visit looking for the last piece of a magical mask that coupled with the blood of a descendent of the Sorcerers of Acheron will turn him into a God.  When Corin resists, Kahalar kills him and finds the last fragment. Filled with revenge Conan (Jason Momoa), now grown, starts his search to destroy the evil one.

Jason Momoa is CONAN THE BARBARIAN

The action is non-stop from the very beginning to its explosive ending.  In between Conan runs into extreme fighting against the protectors of Kahalar, a monster caged in a watery pit, and other devilish adversaries.  But the most incredible fight comes against the sand warriors that attack Conan with relentless energy while he’s protecting the gorgeous sorcerer’s descendent Tamara (Rachel Nichols) from capture.

 

Director Marcus Nispel uses every trick in his bag to make Conan realistic and comes up a winner.  His muscle-laden hero commands the screen with Nispel provided sets and Robert E. Howard’s visceral story.  All of the hideous characters are masterpieces of graphic evil personified.  He offsets the macabre with his grubby slave nymphs and meager villagers making his scenes realistically barbaric.

Conan faces frees slaves

The acting by Jason Momoa is really not bad, unlike Arnold Schwartzinegger at least you can understand what he says.  His muscular body mirrors much of what Arnold brought to the screen, but Momoa gets to add a bare butt for female viewers to buzz about.  Momoa’s Conan shows a lot more agility, expressiveness and realism possibly due to the updated special effects and computer graphics.

 

Nicols gives a steamy performance in one scene that if it was her body for real comes close to a prurient stag show.  She and a bevy of slave girls show some extremely enchanting visual food for mature filmgoers.  Her acting isn’t half bad also making Tamara a strong willed woman that doesn’t back down from a good fight.

 

Conan the Barbarian is rated R for strong bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity.  Trust me when I say this is a HARD R and should only be viewed my very mature. The 3D that some theaters will offer does nothing to enhance the film and my recommendation is save the extra bucks.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  An action adventure fit for mature sword and sorcery lovers. (B-)



FRIGHT NIGHT, BLOODSUCKING SCARY

The scary, seething, suspenseful, gory, horror filled Fright Night left me turning my head on my way to the car following the showing.  It’s a frightening flick that takes its toll on those that can have a love for the thrills that evil can provide.  You don’t have to be Goth to enjoy, just a sense of humor and a need to feed your bloody thirst for a good horror movie.

 

Charley (Anton Yelchin) has finally made it to the in crowd in his senior year at his local high school.  He’s got the top girl Amy (Imogen Poots), cool duds and the guys respect him, what more can a teen want.  How about some thrills, just what Charley needs, right?  Well he’s about to get his fill when Jerry (Colin Farrell) a vampire moves in next door and starts raiding the neighborhood for ‘food’.  When his former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) comes up missing, Charley tries to convince his mother and girlfriend that evil lurks in the house on the left.  Luckily Peter Vincent (David Tennant), the vampire killer is in town performing his magic show.

 

Charley (Anton Yelchin) and Amy (Imogen Poots) face up to a vampire

 

I am a huge horror fan and I’ve seen the 1985 original starring Chris Sarandon as Jerry and Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent and loved it even though it didn’t have all the special effects that ramp up this version.  The remake of Fright Night does have much of the comedy as the first except here they use it as a relief from the horror where in Tom Holland’s it was more of a tongue in cheek campy kind of fun.  While this one has a LOT more horror and suspense, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to rent the original for some good laughs, but not before seeing the remake.

 

Jerry (Colin Farrell) tries for a bite out of Charlie

 

The performance by Colin Ferrell as the relentless blood lusting ghoul is chillingly terrific and most times terrifying.  He brings to Jerry a wicked smile and evil eyes that makes his character very creepy and spine chilling, just what’s needed to carry off the menacing plot.

 

Director Craig Gillespie on the set of FRIGHT NIGHT

 

Director Craig Gillespie does a great job of infusing the intermittent laughs with the help of Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Charley’s nerdy best friend Ed who steel many scenes while trying to escape the clutches of the vampire.  Gillespie lays out his story and gets to the meat of it in a very nice fashion leaving no time to make his audience think of other films that may be similar.  He charges right in letting you know who the vampire is and what kind of mayhem he’s taking to the neighborhood.

 

The film is rated R for bloody horror violence and language including some sexual references.  The 3D in Fright Night does have some very nasty things coming at you and a scene of glowing ashes that’s quite mesmerizing, thanks to some amazing CGI.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good horror flick with a lot of gory fun. (B)

 

 

THE NAMES OF LOVE, LIBERALLY FRENCH

 

The French really know how to make a lighthearted sexy comedy and the proof comes in a very funny and provocative film called The Names of Love.  Although complicated as most French comedies are, the quirky little film puts on a good show.

 

Do you remember the days when young people were running around in nearly nothing and chanting, “make love not war”? Well if you do then you’ll fall into the audience category for which this movie takes aim.

 

Baya (Sara Forestier) and Arthur (Jacques Gamblin)

Baya’s (Sara Forestier) a single young outgoing, kinda overly sexual liberal that has found a way to solve her political woes, seduce her rivals and convert them to her way of thinking.  Working her way though some very big political names and receiving excellent results, Baya’s on top of the world.  Everything she touches turns in her favor, up until she meets Arthur (Jacques Gamblin), an older man who has made exceptional strides in the scientific community.  Although a fence walker when it comes to politics, Baya still wants Arthur as one of her trophies.  When she finds out that they have a few too many things in common, things start to get complicated.

 

Director Michel Leclerc does a fine job of helping Forestier put together an outstanding performance as the uninhibited girl that takes French lascivious humor to another level.  The comely Forester burns up the screen showing off her beautiful frame and then some.  Boldly she’s Baya and every sly look, prim walk and confident gesture is projected on the screen for all to see.  It’s a gaping mouth voyeuristic film depicting the bliss for which the French are known.

Baya (Sara Forestier) at the beach in THE NAMES OF LOVE

But, Forestier wouldn’t have given the performance of her life had she not been opposite Gamblin who gives her the naive Arthur who doesn’t have a clue that he’s corralled Baya one of the hottest items in Paris.  But it’s not all romance and sex, the film gloats on several issues that challenges the minds of the modern day world, including anti-Semitism, Arab-Jewish relationships, immigration, and cultural identity.

 

The Names of Love is rated R and includes adult situations, nudity, sexuality and language.  The spoken language is French with English Subtitles.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A very good movie for lovers and art film enthusiasts. (B)


FINAL DESTINATION 5, A COOL GROSS OUT

 

Shattering, piercing, suspenseful, queasy, bloody, gouging, bone breaking, mind blowing, and yet mesmerizing that’s what Final Destination 5 is all about, especially in 3D.  This is one of those select few films that use 3 Dimension well and it will blow your mind.  If you have never seen a Final Destination movie or are a big fan of the guts and gore they deliver, then rush to see Final Destination 5, but do not go over a bridge on your way.

 

The premise behind all 5 of the Final Destinations is that you cannot cheat death.  In the first film 8 students get off an airplane as one of them sees a vision that it is going to crash.  One by one the students find that life is an elusive commodity. The next three sequels feature a horrifying highway wreck, a roller coaster ride gone wrong and a car that explodes into the stands at a racetrack.

 

Molly (Emma Bell) as hangs on to the bridge for dear life

 

The special effects, make-up, computer graphics imaging and motion capture are amazing and the real stars of the film.  The opening credits have so much coming at you that it startles.  If you have seen the first four films then you will find most of the weapons of death used in those flicks popping into view.

Jacqueline Macinnes-Wood as Olivia Castle in FINAL DESTINATION

 

The acting in Final Destination 5 comes in above average with some performances exceptionally good especially Jacqueline MacInnes-Wood as the arrogant Olivia Castle who you lean to love to hate for her snotty selfishness.  When her time comes to meet her maker the ‘eyes’ have it.

 

The film is rated R for strong violent/gruesome accidents, and some language.  If gore makes you ill you may want to stay away from this gross-out.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A goody gruesome for horror hounds. (B)

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 MINUES OR LESS, A ZANY COMEDY

 

The situation action comedy 30 Minutes or Less does a very good job of setting up the laughter while following a story that’s as idiotic as a 3 dollar bill.  The film moves along much like the title with very little time to catch your breath.  It’s a fantasy, but if you accept it then it’s a lot of fun.  If you like films such as Pineapple Express or Fun With Dick and Jane where there’s a lot of unreality with some measure of probability than you should check out 30 Minutes or Less.

 

Without giving a lot away the movie goes something like this.  Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) gets along in life delivering pizza in this small town where there’s not a lot of excitement. Involved in the plot are a couple of hapless delinquents Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) who hatch a plan to knock off Dwayne’s father for the fortune.  Unfortunately the deal with Chango the hit man (Michael Pena) goes bad so the two kidnap Nick to rob a bank for the money to set the matter straight. But there wouldn’t bee a lot of fun if the plan worked out, now would it?

McBride and Swardson in 30 MINUTES OR LESS

 

The actors make this scatterbrain plot work.  McBride plays his usual off-the-wall persona, Swardson kicks in his daffy comedy while Eisenberg uses his dead pan to make the mix work into a lot of laughs.  Throwing comedian Aziz Ansari as Nick’s best friend Chet who tries to make sense of it all becomes a bonus.

Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg in 30 MINUTES OR LESS

Direction of any comedy takes a lot of vision and Rubin Fleischer (Zombieland) does a great job with timing making the situations screwy enough to elicit the necessary off the screen responses. Although the film’s plot is quite predictable, it’s the fun getting to the weird ending that makes it worth a see.

 

On the downside, in addition to the predictability, I found Ansari’s performance a little too wacky, jumpy and unemotional.  But, that just might be me as I have not seen his role in TV’s Parks and Recreation to get enough feel for his kind of comedy.

Michael Pena as Chango in 30 MINUTES OR LESS

On the upbeat, Michael Pena gives a hilarious performance as the Hispanic hired hit man who gets stiffed on his pay.  Going after Chet and Nick turns into some extremely funny ethnic comedy.  Pena is a mainstay with over 10 years in the film industry playing support characters in such films as The Lincoln Lawyer, Lions for Lambs and his other 26 movies.  Here he shows another side of his many faces inserting nervously scary comedy into 30 Minutes of Less.

 

30 Minutes or Less has been rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity and some violence.  VERY IMPORTANT: Avoid seeing trailer as it gives away a lot of the sight gags, excitement and comedy traps.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A zany fun film (B)


 

 

 

THE HELP, TOUCHING AND REAL

It’s hard to believe that it was only a short period of time ago that people were still separating black from white.  In The Help we find what a little thing like writing a book could do to stir up segregation and bring it to the forefront.  In this story there’s a huge helping of right versus wrong with an unexpected outcome that reminds all that man’s inhumanity to man did exist even in the good old USA.

 

It’s the 1960’s Mississippi and the women in this particular town are prominent southern ladies who spend their days at teas and community events.  Their social life depends on how they look and present themselves so having a maid or two is a normal thing.  Skeeter, a local socialite, has just graduated college from Mississippi State and returns following her long absence. Being brought up by a black housekeeper she’s familiar with the power of the local ladies over the help.  A New York publisher gets a call from Skeeter about her wanting to write for the publication and the editor tells her that she wants something controversial.  When she offers her a story on ‘The Help’ things start getting edgy in Mississippi.

Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis in THE HELP

I like the way writer/director Tate Taylor spools his story out slowly delivering a lot of character build-up in this segregation drama. Featuring fine acting from the whole cast their characters are caring, loving, controlling, hurtful and rebellious making the story forceful and convincing yet entertaining.

Tate Taylor and Emma Stone on the set of THE HELP

Both Taylor and novelist Kathryn Stockett were brought up in Mississippi homes where African American maids did all the work including the much-needed attention to the children of the household.  This first hand knowledge makes the film more real and compelling.  Taylor uses his sets and costumes to depict the era while putting his actors through their everyday routines, confrontations and finally a remarkable showdown that sums up the message embodied the film “Change begins with a whisper”.

 

The musical score by Thomas Newman helps put each of the scenes in the mood intended and remarkably adds to the dialogue. A song by Mary J. Blige “The Living Proof” written and sung by Mary for the film adds power to the presentation. Please stay for the end credits to hear the complete rendition.

 

Emma Stone has been making films for several years, all of which were shallow except for possibly Zombieland where she excelled here as a sweetheart with a cobra’s bite.  Here she does an outstanding job playing Skeeter with a very believable performance showing that yes, she can play with the big girls.

 

The Help is rated PG-13 for thematic material.  It does contain some derogatory language and vicious remarks so please be aware of this in choosing to bring immature youngsters.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very realistic story and reminder of a troubled past (B)

 

 

 

MARS NEEDS MOMS, on 3D Blu-ray

 

Technology has really taken a big leap with 3D home viewing and many films with the original format are now available on Blu-ray 3D.  This is the case with the newest Disney Release to 3D called Mars Needs Moms.  Sure it hit big in theatres to its target group kids and pre-teens, but now adults can check it out at home.  Whether you have 3D or other mode of video, the animation in Mars Needs Moms rivals PIXAR.

 

The story involves a nine-year-old named Milo who like most all pre-teens can’t seem to get a grasp on growing up.  Whether it’s at the dinner table or keeping his room tidy, Milo’s not one to follow that drill.  But his mom thinks otherwise and while she provides a good life for Milo, she finds herself in the same boat as other moms when it comes to adolescents.

 

One evening a huge commotion outside brings Milo to out of bed only to see his mother being whisked away by an alien space ship. In hot pursuit he catches up to the ship and stows aboard.  What happens next is an adventure filled with comedy, danger and a chance to make it all up to mom.

 

The 3D special effects are blazing on a home theater.  The strength comes mostly on the depth of field, but there’s plenty of action that comes out at you.  The most exciting thing I found however is the crispness of the animation.

 

Like most Blu-ray and DVD the fun for the kids here is the replay button that will allow them to run the film over and over again.  The story has a lot of kiddy twists and keeps them interested and laughing.  I found myself getting involved in the story even though I found it a little trite and corny at times.  Sure it’s a one time through for me, but since there are children in my life, it will get played plenty of times.

 

There are some cool extras on each of the formats.

 

If there is a 3D theater in your future you’ll want to get the 3D combo pack which has 4 ways to view, 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy all in one package.  Otherwise Mars Needs Moms can be obtained in a Blu-ray Combo or just a DVD.

 

The extras on the 3D disk include everything on the Blu-ray & DVD plus…. “Mom-Napping (All-new 3D Exclusive) – There‘s more than meets the eye during the Martian abduction of Milo‘s Mom”. This alternate scene — completely finished in 3D — tells all.

 

Blu-ray 2D includes Everything on the DVD plus an “Extended Opening – The movie begins… but wait, there‘s more. See it here.”

 

They all have deleted scenes, and many other fun things to search out.  You know, I never thought the youngsters as young as 5 years old would even find the extras, but my son’s children are pros at it.  And even if they have seen it once, unlike me, they will upload it again.

 

Things like  “Life On Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience” – Go way behind the scenes to where the actors performances are captured. This feature-length, picture-in-picture viewing mode also lets you listen to director Simon Wells and actors Seth Green and Dan Fogler give a fun and insightful look into creating the movie.

 

Deleted Scenes with Simon Wells introductions (4 Blu-ray 2D Exclusive Deleted Scenes) – 7 deleted scenes of which four are exclusive to the Blu-ray 2D release. Some cool scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Now you can see them with introductions by director Simon Wells.

 

“Flower Power” Easter Egg – the name of the show that Ki watched and learned English from is entitled ?Freaks on the Street.