SNOW FLOWER, BLOOMS

Beautifully photographed the drama Snow Flower and the Secret Fan provides a stunning window into the lives of four women.  Although the film is a bit long, I found the journey well worth taking. Although a major chick flick, the film still plays well to older males.

 

The film features the custom of laotung a binding of friends for life as soul mates.  The tradition comforts the main characters Snow Flower (Ji-hyeon) and Lilly (Li Bingbing) through the best of times and then the toughest tests of their lives.

 

In a parallel story in present day Shanghai, the laotong’s descendants, Nina and Sophia, struggle to maintain the intimacy of their own childhood friendship in the face of demanding careers, complicated love lives, and a relentlessly evolving Shanghai.  Drawing on the lessons of the past, the two modern women must understand the story of their ancestral connection, hidden from them in the folds of the antique white silk fan, or risk losing one another forever.

Snow Flower and Lilly become laotung

Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) pulls excellent performances from his cast although I found myself struggling at times to separate the modern day female pair from their ancestors because he used the same actors.  Even with the make up and costume differences, the ploy just doesn’t work for me.  That said, Ji-hyeon as Snow Flower/Sofia and Li Bingbing as Nina/Lilly are brilliant in their roles portraying the delicate women who have to live through some very hard times.

 

The film does have some drawbacks however; the transitions between the modern day laotung women to their 1800’s counterparts happen a little too frequently, which causes a disjointing of the storyline.  Although director Wang found it a necessary bridge between eras, larger spans of each couples lives would have made the film more compelling.  Continuity suffered from a possible shorting of some scenes, especially the invasion of the Chinese rebels that displace a whole village only to find them returned in such a short span of time.

 

The customs of the early Chinese involve foot binding whereby the parents of young girls wrap their feet tightly so they will not grow.  Since most high-class suitors like women with small feet it becomes a way for most families to increase their station in life. Nicely inserted this binding process generates empathy and sadness for Sunflower and Lilly adding to the emotional charged film.

 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence/disturbing images and drug use. Be cautions on dragging along immature pre-teens due to the subject matter. English subtitles are used during Chinese dialog.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A challenging film for viewers and the filmmaker. (B-)


 

Beer-Soaked & Sweatin’ It Out at the Village Voice 4Knots Music Fest

 

[In case you missed it] … Every summer for ten years straight, The Village Voice has tossed New York a golden indie-rock bone with its popular (not a dirty word in this case) Siren Music Festival showcasing a well-curated roster of artists. This year they decided to pull a switch-a-roo, doing away with Coney Island’s Siren to debut Manhattan’s 4Knots Music Festival – a showcase with basically the same vibe as before, only written in a different font and held at a better location. Land ahead…

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THE SMURFS, A KIDS DELIGHT

Reviewed by Marisa Ings

 

Hidden deep within an enchanted forest is a small village with houses made of mushroom and little blue men (and one woman) living together in peace. The magical blue creatures are called The Smurfs and they have lived in their town for hundreds of years. But, in one instance that all changes when an evil wizard named Gargamel discovers the village and goes on a rampage destroying their happy homes with the dastardly intent to capture all smurfs for their magical essence.

The little blue beings frantically try to escape Gargamel’s wrath when six of them are sucked into a vortex that plunges them in the middle of New York City. In the Big Apple, the estranged smurfs cross paths with Patrick Winslow VP of Marketing of Anjelou cosmetics, turning his life upside down and painting the town blue while doing it. Missing their home and friends, the smurfs are determined to find a way back to the enchanted forest.

Neal Patrick Harris has a run in with The Smurfs

Honestly, I was a bit excited when I discovered that a movie based on one of my favorite cartoons was coming to the big screen and I would be able to see it! The little blue people often entertained me on Saturday mornings as I sat, eyes glued to the TV while eating a bowl of cereal. Parents and children alike will enjoy this film as I observed during the screening I attended. There was much laughter in the theatre and the kids really enjoyed the pummeling of the foolish antagonist that is Gargamel.

Hank Azaria does a fantastic job portraying the sometimes-gullible Gargamel and all his wackiness. Besides the CGI smurfs, Gargamel is the best entertainment in the film. While Neil Patrick Harris does a fine job playing Patrick Winslow, Jayma Mays as Grace Winslow just does not flow well. Luckily, most children don’t see a movie for it’s acting anyway instead they are excited about the laughs and the outrageous scenes.

Similar to the movies Enchanted and Alvin and the Chipmunks, I would suggest that if your film tastes are too sophisticated to enjoy a simple child-targeted movie you will not enjoy this film. However, if you are still a hipster, in tune with your inner child, you may enjoy the slapstick comedy and cute CGI smurfs.

Final Grade: C+



Great, now I have the song stuck in my head again “La la la-la la la, Sing a happy song”…enjoy everyone!

 

REVIEWED BY Marisa Ings for John Delia’s page on the ACED Magazine Network

 


CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE – ROMANTIC NONSENSE

It’s crazy and yes it’s stupid and not much more than that.  While I found myself wondering why Steve Carell would make a movie this mediocre, hackneyed and not a lot of fun to watch, I realized he just didn’t have his “Office” on for Crazy, Stupid, Love.  A below average romancer, this flick is perfect for young couples who want to smooch in the back row of the theater and don’t have to pay attention to the dialogue.

 

The movie centers on Carl (Steve Carell) married to his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) for nearly 25 years.  One evening while driving home from a parent’s night out Emily tells Carl that she wants a divorce.  Carl’s stunned by the announcement and so are the children, especially their 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) who has reached puberty and lusts for the baby sitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) who lusts for Carl. After moving out of the house Carl frequents a local bar where he meets Jacob (Ryan Gosling) a local womanizer. Jacob takes Carl under his wing and gives him a new look setting off a chain of events that puts his family life in a tizzy.

Jacob (Ryan Gosling) teaching Carl (Steve Carell) his pick-up tricks

The film falls flat after the first fifteen minutes and I found myself trying to figure out whether it’s nice to laugh at divorce and the circumstances surrounding the life choice.  The plot has some funny stuff watching Carl being set free after a makeover to run with the bulls bedding every hot lady he can drop a line on, but haven’t wee seen that before in a film.  Beyond that the writer thinks he needs to treat us to a somewhat awkward attempt by a 13-year-old (Carl’s son) to connect with his 17-year-old babysitter; and that babysitter’s cruel imagination of taking pictures of her body as bait to hook up with her boss (Carl).

 

Well you can see where I am going with this.  Crazy, Stupid, Love just doesn’t work as a comedy or a romance and it may be due to the story written by Dan Fogelman (Cars, Bolt, Tangled and Fred Claus) who doesn’t seem to have made it to the PG-13 Romantic Comedy big league.  There’s nothing in this film that’s realistic enough for teens or the pre-teens who will sneak in to see it.

 

Some of the problem could be attributed to the fact that Crazy, Stupid, Love had TWO directors, John Requa and Glenn Ficarra.  The two also collaborated on I Love You Phillip Morris that was about romance of a completely different variety.  That film took on a dark comedic theme, but the change over to a lighter theme here just doesn’t come off the screen in their Crazy, Stupid, Love.

 

The film is rated PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language and contains some material that may be a bit over-the-top for immature teens.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Romantic Nonsense. (D)

COWBOYS & ALIENS, A RIP SNORTER

Strap your six-gun to your waist, tie the string around your leg and ride over to see the movie Cowboys & Aliens a rip snorting account of a universe invasion.  Seriously now, there will be no guns allowed in the movie theatre, not even toy type.  If you want some action with great special effects that make a film come alive with awesome space creatures then check this one out.

 

The story centers on Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), a badass cowboy who awakens with memory loss.  With a weird bracelet attached to his wrist he rides into a small 1870’s town where he gets caught in the middle of an incident where Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) the son of a domineering rancher gets arrested.  Shortly thereafter Percy’s dad, Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) comes to town to get him released. But, just when the Colonel and Percy think they can ride out of town the place gets invaded by space ships snatching people off the streets, including Percy.  When Jake finds he can use the bracelet to shoot down a couple of fighters, the Colonel enlists him to go after his son.

Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) awakens in the desert

The acting here is very good with Daniel Craig doing his best western accent, Harrison Ford working his serious face and Olivia Wilde showing her, well you’ll have to see that for yourself.  Although the story’s a little campy and sometimes ridiculous, the actors are so much fun to watch in this ‘Gun Fight at the OK Corral’ facing the ugliest aliens in recent film history.  If you really want to enjoy this movie, leave your serious face at home.

Jake (Craig) and the Colonel (Harrison Ford) take on the aliens

The direction here by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) fits well with his style of science fiction fantasy, especially working with a huge popular cast.  He gets into the action quickly and keeps it coming so there isn’t any time for your mind to wander.  I like the way he introduces Jake Lonergan lying face down in the dust, slowly getting up and with a lost look on his face.  It’s classic western and he shows his audience that they are in for an unusual ride.

 

If there is a downside to the film, it’s the resiliency of the characters and fast recovery from mayhem, but it is a movie however and much like other Favreau work we are dealing with fantasy.  Also if I were a town’s person in the 1870’s and saw a metal airship come flying out of the sky shooting at the ground, I would be terror stricken, and a lot of them acted a little dumbfounded, yet ready for action. With flaws like this however, it’s really something easily overlooked if you are a true science fiction fan.

 

Cowboy’s & Aliens has been rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference, but nothing your X-Box users haven’t already seen.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A fun Sci-Fi action film with a lot of whimsical exaggeration. (B)

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER,

Not what I expected, but Captain America: The First Avenger pours on the adventure in style.  I’m not a huge comic book fan and know little about this super hero yet for me, that’s a good thing.  If you like your action with a good back-story, then this one should fuel your engine.

 

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has been trying to join the military to help his country fight the Nazis in Europe, but he keeps getting rejected because of his size. Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a scientist, has developed a super soldier serum and quite by accident finds Steve Rogers a perfect subject.  Steve volunteers to participate in the experimental program and it turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. But Rogers finds himself being a recruiter for the Army instead of a fighter.  When the evil HYDRA organization led by the Red Skull (Hugo Wearing) takes over the Nazi crusade with special weapons, Captain America steps up to meet the challenge.

 

Chris Evans as Captain America

 

The computer graphics play a huge part in the production of the film and in most cases come across with a WOW factor.  There is plenty of action created by the huge blaster tanks, high-powered ray guns, Red Skull’s blazing car, special ‘gyrocopter’ and may other things to dazzle the action hound’s brain.  The winged airplane was a total treat with a battle that overshadows most Iron Man sequences.

Joe Johnson on the set of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

Director Joe Johnson (Jumanji) does a terrific job of creating the period piece not only with an amazing set, but make-up and costumes for his cast. Hayley Atwell’s portrayal of the tough WAC Peggy Carter stands out in her WWII apparel, hot red lips and long black lashes dating her into the strong hearted women soldiers of the time.  I liked the way he deals with the whole Army sequence and relates to the war films of old.

Steve Rogers before and after serum

The film is not perfect as I found myself trying to fit Chris into my mind as a skinny little runt.  I am amazed on how they computerized his character, but something just didn’t feel right much like what bothered me with Benjamin Button (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and his body change.  But it’s easy to get past this and I found myself right in the middle of the action as the film progressed ‘knowing’ that Chris became the hulk that he is meant to be.

 

This chapter in the Avengers finally puts all the back-stories in line for the grand finale when Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye, The Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury get together in an estimated $150 million production for one explosive time.

 

Captain America: The First Avenger is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, nothing that most mature pre-teens cannot handle. The film is available in 3D (however unnecessary).

 

FINAL ANAYLSIS: A ‘BLAST’ of the past. (B)

 

 

 

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, LOVE WITH A TWIST

What saves this remix from taking a nosedive into oblivion is the cast.  Friends With Benefits’ Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake are the winners here who outdo Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher in their attempt to jazz up friendship with sex in No Strings Attached.  So if you haven’t seen the latter, then don’t miss Friends With Benefits, it’s a stitch.

 

Dylan’s (Timberlake) a young star as an Art Director in LA who seems to be getting along just fine with his fellow workers. On a lark he takes up an offer by New York headhunter Jamie (Kunis) to interview for an opening at GQ magazine to head up their Art Department.  Dylan gets offered the job and after a lot of coaxing by Jamie decides to take it, but on one condition, she be his friend while he transitions.  When their other relationships don’t pan out sexually, Dylan and Jamie turn to a mutual bedroom solution to that problem.

 

Jamie (Mila Kunis) and Dylan (Justin Timberlake)

Timberlake and Kunis save the film with their chemistry for each other.  The relationship has a nice romantic touch that really differs from the raunchy one between Portman and Kutcher in No Strings Attached.   The lead-in between the two in Friends With Benefits has a more realistic connection with Kunis’s character Jamie being more of a crutch for Dylan in the city of high energy and fast lane business.  And as far as the sex goes, it may not be as SPICY as Kutcher and Portman, but there’s more tenderness and passion here.

Will Gluck Director on the set of FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

Director Will Gluck uses a lighter touch with his actors not overdoing the sexuality to make it the only interest in the film.  His ability to use Kunis’s comedic torch to catch Timbelake’s Dylan soft naiveté off guard makes many scenes funny that would ordinarily be filler in most films.  And when he brings in a scene that would turn most audience into a remorseful mood, he uses it to tighten Jamie and Dylan’s relationship even more.

 

Should you go see the film at the theater?  For those who have seen No Strings Attached it’s a maybe; for those who haven’t make it a date night.  Friends With Benefits is certainly worth the watch.

 

Friends With Benefits is rated R for sexual content, language and some drug material and it is no film to take immature youngsters.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  Friends puts comedy in the bedroom. (B-)

 

 

 

HARRY POTTER DH Part 2, A THUNDERING FINALE

It’s all about the action in part two of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I can see why the filmmakers split the book for this final sequel as it would have been a long and drawn out affair if they hadn’t.  The special effects and CGI sparkle in this edition making the action explosive and adventurous.

 

Continuing where part 1 left off, Voldemort is found testing his new all-powerful wand.  Harry, Hermione and Ron have smashed another Horcrux (Voldemort’s death escape objects) and are searching for the final three in order to make him vulnerable.  When they find them an all out war begins between a horde of Voldemort followers, conjured creatures and the Death Eaters versus the Hogwarts class lead by Neville Longbottom, joining Hermione, Ron and Harry. But the final challenge between Voldemort and Harry strikes the final blow.

 

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Herminoe (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint)

 

Direction by David Yates who took over in 2007 with the series is courageous and impressive. He puts Harry into the action and in many cases with extras running in all directions yet the focus still stays on his main man. I like the way he brings back Longbottom, the Weasleys and others for one last great performance.  His ability to mix CGI with live action puts Yates up with the best of the directors of today.

Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort

 

Excellent Cinematography makes the film outstanding with amazing clarity even during the most hectic scenes with the cast running in all directions, CGI creatures entering the melee and Harry still the center of attraction.  Close-ups of Voldemort are amazingly hard to get due to special make-up, prosthetic pieces and computer graphic blend for his face, but that seemed to be little problem for the camera crew. I give a tip of the hat to the CGI crew for producing an incredible dragon.

 

It was fun to see the return to Hogwarts with all the people in the paintings running for cover, the moving staircases taking a lot of the action, Hogwarts castle resisting the onslaught of Voldemort’s wrath and more.  And many answers to the puzzling characters that came up during previous episodes are answered, friendships rekindled, and secrets are revealed.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 has been rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images. See it in 3D and you can reach for a piece of Voldemort.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A truly good ending to a great series. (A)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTO ETERNITY, A NUCLEAR CEMETERY

What you are about to see in the documentary Into Eternity is the Netherlands’s answer to an age-old problem.  The film attempts to answer the question; What do we do with the waste from the result of using nuclear energy that gives us electricity, submarine power and even yes the development of weaponry.  The Fins and Swedes feel they have found an answer and are releasing their film worldwide.

 

In documentary form officials, scientists and their spokespersons introduce a problem the government of Finland and Sweden are now facing, ‘Should they tell the people of the world where they are burying the waste from their Nuclear Power plants?’  You see, there is no scientific formula for reusing the nuclear waste that is the by-product of making the electricity the country uses (the same problem facing countries that have nuclear power plants throughout the world) therefore it must be burried.

 

In Finland they have buried their nuclear waste in a pit miles below their country in a rock bed that they believe will keep it from exploding, giving off radio active energy or any future contamination, forever. Their only dilemma is should they keep the place a secret so no one will find it for 100,000 years or tell each generation where it is and not to go near it for eternity?

 

Why would I want to know where this stuff is buried?  Well according to the documentary, some people may accidentally find it, an earthquake may disturb its resting place or even an unknown volcano may cause the stuff to be exposed.  Um, if they haven’t found a way to reuse the trash, and there is no other place to put it, then it’s best left unknown.  If in 50,000 years from now someone trips over it, then so be it.  Hopefully they already will have an answer to the reversal of nuclear waste.

 

There isn’t a lot you can say about the film.  Even though it drags a bit, seems like a self-serving pat on the back and gets repetitive, the message rings clear that if we are going to use Nuclear Energy for any purpose, the waste must be put in a place where it cannot be touched for 100,000 years.

 

I am neither a physicist nor an expert on what happens when humans get exposed to radiation.  But it seems to me it is something very bad.  If we are to live on the only earth we have, then all countries should follow in the footsteps of the Netherlands.

 

Is the message good?  ABSOLUTLY, and for that reason I recommend it for required viewing by every government agency, office and even the president/queen/officiate of every country in the world, especially if they are going to or are in the process of using plutonium for any reason.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A HOT topic that needs to be addressed. (B)

The film is in English but has helpful subtitles as well due to the Finish accents.

 

NUCLEAR FACTS

Onkalo – the world’s FIRST permanent nuclear waste repository

 

Onkalo is a Finnish word for hiding place. It is situated at Olkiluoto in Finland – approximately 300 km northwest of Helsinki and it’s the world’s first attempt at a permanent repository. It is a huge system of underground tunnels hewn out of solid bedrock. Work on the concept behind the facility commenced in 1970s and the repository is expected to be backfilled and decommissioned in the 2100s – more than a century from now. No person working on the facility today will live to see it completed. The Finnish and Swedish Nuclear Authorities are collaborating on the project, and Sweden is planning a similar facility, but has not begun the actual construction of it.

Facts about nuclear waste

High-level nuclear waste is the inevitable end result of nuclear energy production. The waste will remain radioactive and/or radiotoxic for at least 100,000 years. It is estimated that the total amount of high-level nuclear waste in the world today is between 250,000 and 300,000 tons. The amount of waste increases daily.

Security standards

Radioactive waste is hazardous to all living organisms and exposure to radiation may result in death, incurable disease, as well as mutation of the genetic code. The security standards are based on theoretical assumptions, as humanity has no previous experience to build on with regards to radioactive waste. In Europe there is a security standard of 100,000 years for the minimum period that the waste must remain isolated from all living organisms; in the US it is 1,000,000 years.

 

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

February 16, 2010

 

Obama Administration Announces Loan Guarantees to Construct New Nuclear Power Reactors in Georgia

Conditional deal is major step towards restarting the domestic nuclear industry

 

Washington D.C. — Underscoring his Administration’s commitment to jumpstarting the nation’s nuclear power industry, President Obama today announced that the Department of Energy has offered conditional commitments for a total of $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for the construction and operation of two new nuclear reactors at a plant in Burke, Georgia. The project is scheduled to be the first U.S. nuclear power plant to break ground in nearly three decades.

“To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we need to increase our supply of nuclear power and today’s announcement helps to move us down that path.  But energy leaders and experts recognize that as long as producing carbon pollution carries no cost, traditional plants that use fossil fuels will be more cost-effective than plants that use nuclear fuel.  That is why we need comprehensive energy and climate legislation to create a system of incentives to make clean energy profitable,” said President Obama.  “What I hope this announcement underscores is both our commitment to meeting the energy challenge – and our willingness to look at this challenge not as a partisan issue, but as a matter far more important than politics.”

The two new 1,100 megawatt Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant will supplement the two existing reactor units at the facility. According to industry projections, the project will create approximately 3,500 onsite construction jobs. Once the nuclear reactors become operational, the project will create 800 permanent jobs.

“This is a significant step by the Obama Administration to restart our domestic nuclear industry, helping to create valuable long-term jobs and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said.

Project sponsors include Georgia Power Company (GPC), Oglethorpe Power Corporation (OPC), the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG) and the City of Dalton, Georgia (Dalton).

For more information, please visit www.lgprogram.energy.gov.

https://lpo.energy.gov/?page_id=45

Some information supplied in this review came from Michael Madsen’s movie press notes

 

THE TRIP, BLATHERINGLY BORING

 

Corny and blathering The Trip documents a dining trip taken by Comic Steve Coogan and impressionist Rob Brydon as they travel across the north face of England.  Sometimes funny but mostly droll, the movie will probably not be appreciated by Americans unless they are decedents of Great Britain and understand why it is funny.

 

Here is the description of the film by the filmmaker; When Steve Coogan is asked by The Observer (A newspaper in London) to tour the country’s finest restaurants, he envisions it as the perfect getaway with his beautiful girlfriend. But, when she backs out on him, he has no one to accompany him but his best friend and source of eternal aggravation, Rob Brydon. As the brilliant comic duo, free styling with flair, drive each other mad with constant competition and showdowns of competing impressions (including dueling Michael Caines, Sean Connerys and Al Pacinos), the ultimate odd couple realize in the end a rich amount about not only good food, but the nature of fame, relationships and their own lives.

 

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in THE TRIP

Now, I don’t know how many of you know Steve Coogan (Ershon in The Other Guys, Hades in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Octavis in Night At The Museum, and Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days) but the aforementioned movie titles should give you a clue.  He has starred in many British TV shows and is well known on British Late Night and on US’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  So if you like the films or happen to like British humor, then that’s a good reason to see this film.

 

Rob Brydon has a huge following as a Television star in Britain appearing on over 50 shows.  In this film his comedy surrounds his ability to imitate famous actors and notables with a lot of tongue in cheek remarks. Not having witnessed his comedy prior to this film was probably why I couldn’t connect with why he kept interjecting famous voices whenever Coogan got the best of him.

A-scene-from-TheTrip

I couldn’t tell whether the cinematography was purposefully deplorable or Northern England has to be the dankest part of the earth.  Shots of even the more meaningful dining spots are so dimly lit that Coogan and Brydon loose all their expressiveness during the comical chat.

 

I was not impressed with the film as I found it boring, unimaginative, and not very funny.  The impressions of Michael Caine are good by both, but after ‘replaying’ the voice so many times in the film it becomes inane.  Maybe I am not a big lover of British Comedy; after all I don’t get Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I love Monty Python and Peter Sellers.

 

The Trip is not rated and should be left that way.  Although it is billed as a comedy be forewarned that Coogan and Brydon are professional Brits and do not pretend to be otherwise.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: See it only if you know what’s in bangers and mash. (D)


 

HORRIBLE BOSSES, CRUDE RUDE AND UNGLUED

 

Most everyone would like to be the boss, but in most instances there’s only one.  I hope my readers don’t have a boss as despicable as the ones in Horrible Bosses a nicely funny comedy directed by Seth Gordon.  Filled with a lot of hilarious situations, this film is perfect for mature adults. If you are not offended by sexuality and a lot of crude language then run to see Horrible Bosses.

 

The film centers on three friends Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) who have run into a stone barrier at their jobs.  Nick works for a twisted supervisor (Kevin Spacey) who has dangled a Senior Vice President carrot in front of him only to absorb the job for himself. Master accountant Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), loved by Mr. Pellit owner of the company he works for, has been groomed to take over when he retires, but his drug-addicted son (Colin Farrell) has other plans.  Finally, Dale a dental assistant to Dr. Julia Harris (Jennifer Aniston) works in an environment of sexually harassment by his x-rated boss who makes her workday a play day.

 

The bosses are really sinister when it comes to management and the three friends plot to do something about it. When a very bad idea goes horribly wrong the boys find themselves in dire straits.

Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), Dale (Charlie Day) and Nick (Jason Bateman)

The three buddy characters’ actors deliver some very hysterical comedy and in most cases are well suited to their roles.  Bateman does a great job of making Nick the most intelligent of the group who keeps things in perspective when the three band together to take out revenge.  Day puts on his best comedy face for the very goofy role of Dale an engaged man who goes to work everyday trying to fend off Dr. Julia’s onslaught for sex.  And yes lets not forget Sudeikis who has to deal with a freaky Bobby Pellit and does so in a screwy kind of way providing some dark comedy of his own.

Dale fends off Dr. Harris (Jennifer Aniston) in HORRIBLE BOSSES

Director Seth Gordon (Freakononics) does a pretty good job of keeping the laughs rolling and the situations ridiculous.  His ability to tie the talent together boss to employee and a realistic trio of friends is truly admirable.  I like the pace, situations and resolve in Horrible Bosses making the film an above average comedy in my book.

The film isn’t perfect however and there are some situations that ‘shovel the corn’.  I found the ‘three stooges’ slapping childish, Aniston’s hypersexual lust way over the top, Ferrell’s Bobby Pellit frightfully chilling and Spacey extremely overbearing, but I guess in Seth Gordon’s mind that’s what makes this film fun.  Now I’m just saying, but if I had a nymphomaniac boss like Jennifer Aniston…well you fill in the blanks.

Horrible Bosses is rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language and some drug material.  The language is very raw and the sexual oriented gestures and innuendos extremely vulgar for anyone under the age of 17.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: Bosses tries for a Hangover, but gets kicked to the side of the road. (C+)

 


 

 

BRIDE FLIGHT, A LOFTY ROMANCE

A period piece with a lot of style, good acting and directing Bride Flight inspired by a true event provides a visual delight for romantics.  I liked the film for its characters, the interesting story and New Zealand photography.  If you take your romance served slowly yet gracefully then Bride Flight’s a delicious treat.

 

The story involves three intended brides, Ada (Karina Smulders) a young woman desperate for companionship, Esther (Anna Drijver) a holocaust survivor with dreams of being a designer and Marjorie (Elise Schaap) on her way to start a family, that travel to New Zealand following World War II.  The three become friends fast on their long trip from Holland.  During the flight Ada meets Frank (Waldemar Torenstra) who is on his way to start a new life in the far county and the two become enamored with each other.  When the four finally land at their destination they realize that a bond has been made, but to what end?

Ada Von Holland (Karina Smulders)

I like the way director Ben Sombogaart (his film Twin Sisters was nominated for an Oscar in 2002) weaves his tail making sure each of his characters are developed before throwing them into their new lives.  Although he takes a long time with the story his characters are amazingly addictive with charming qualities that induce you to want more.  Not overbearing with a single subject, he takes the three women and intertwines their relationships playing out each act as one story.

 

A fine cast lead by Smulders as the lovely yet romantically confused Ada graces the screen with a stunning performance that keeps the viewer wanting more. Smulders’ chemistry with Torenstra as Frank makes the romanticism realistic and compelling.  The two smolder up the screen with their love for each other.

Frank (Waldemar Torenstra) and Esther (Anna Drijver)

The cinematography of post WWII New Zealand showing the beauty and promise of the land helps the story along.  I liked the way Sombogaart fits his costumed actors into the rugged sets providing a step back into the past. Aided by some great natural formations, hot springs, 1940’s settlements and majestic mountains, the film becomes somewhat of a travelogue as well.

 

 

Bride Flight is rated R for a strong sex scene and some graphic nudity.  The film also contains a traumatic birthing scene and some violence.  Subtitles are provided for the Dutch language.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A nicely played out romantic adventure. (B)

 

AWARDS

Scottsdale Film Festival – Audience Award for Best Film
Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival – Audience Favorite Award
Rehoboth Beach Film Festival – Best Feature Audience Award
Newport Beach Film Festival – Best Feature Film, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Cinematographer, Best Screenplay

 


LARRY CROWNE, RIDES AGAIN

 

Opening up in a crowded market Larry Crowne takes a big chance that the romance filmgoer needs a break from all the explosive action now on the big screen.  But does this film have what it takes to go up against Transformers 3, Green Lantern, Super 8 and Bad Teacher?  Even Monte Carlo with its teen market will have a tough time.

The film centers on Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) a mild mannered man who is liked by his fellow employees at U-Mart.  In fact he has won Employee of the Month a lot of times.  On the last Friday of the Month he hears his name called over the store speaker to report to the break room.  The company is downsizing and since Larry doesn’t have a college degree they let him go.  Torn by this Larry goes home to rethink and downsize his life goals.  When the bank finds Larry with no job and late payments Larry decides to go to college and earn a degree.

Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in LARRY CROWNE

From this point on the fun begins with Larry getting acclimated with the younger students and his new teachers.  But the movie wouldn’t be more than a average Indie if it weren’t for Tom Hanks (the film’s writer, producer, director and actor).  As an actor Hanks makes his character inquisitive, energetic, positive and involving the things that make a person interesting. As a writer he invests in the deplorable situation of job loss in order to capture his audience before showing them that there is always a way out.

 

His directing skills are not all that bad either, moving his characters in and out of the story after showing their lighter side of life.  Here he really stands out however, keeping his story tight, not giving his recognizable actor’s too much rope to take over the action and not spending a lot of time with Larry’s difficulties thus avoiding a sappy film.

 

Julia Roberts makes a good teacher and even provides a few Erin Brockovich moments that show her characters bold ilk.  Although the chemistry between her and Hanks is lacking in part, Roberts still sells herself well on the screen.

Hanks here with Cedric the Entertainer and Taraji P. Henson

Hanks throws in some good character actors like Cedric the Entertainer (his garage sale diva next door), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (a hottie fellow student), Bryan Cranston (Robert’s character’s husband in a midlife crisis), Wilder Valderamma (a jealous scooter ‘gang’ member), and many more recognizable faces to help his film with a comical touch.

 

The film is good and enjoyable to watch and though it received a PG-13 rating for brief strong language and some sexual content (a sensual kiss) should not be too over the top for mature pre-teens.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: It’s a film the older crowd will probably appreciate most. (B)

 


TRANSFORMERS, WITLESS YET MIND-BLOWING

 

Prolonged sequences of Sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction and that’s what the MPAA thought of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  It’s all that and more in this exciting alien robot adventure by action director Michael Bay.  If you are a gamer, a science fiction movie lover or just get your thrills from astounding CGI then Transformers: Dark of the Moon is your ticket to ride.

 

LeBeof and Whiteley in TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

In this third sequel of the Transformers we find Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) entering the work world following his graduation from college.  High on life he has dropped his old flame Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) and has upped his game living with high stylish Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).  Holding on to her however get tough for Sam with no job and he finds himself conflicted.  From here on out in the 154-minute film Sam’s conflict continues in the middle of a hellacious battle between Autobots and Decepticons vying for control of the Earth.

Chicago on fire

Michael Bay goes all out in Transformer’s 3 kicking it up several notches with a plethora of explosive scenes.  He also does a little tribute to his awesome Armageddon with a space shot that out does the Bruce Willis flight.  The buildings in Transformers 3 get toppled in ground zero Chicago much like New York in Cloverfield, but that’s a good thing here since the treacherous bots bring about some incredible devastation.

Sentinel Prime and Optimus Prime do battle

The last 30 minutes of the film and scattered skirmishes between the soldiers and the robotic nemeses are absolutely amazing.  This time you get to see the relentless destruction of Chicago by a mega force not seen in the previous three Transformer films.  That’s the fun of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and worth the nearly 2-hour wait.

 

There are many silly relationships played out in the film including Sam and his meddling parents, Carly unwittingly involved with the enemy, Sam confronting Mearing (Francess McDormand) the head of security with his hero medal, a jealous interaction between Carly’s boss Dylan (Patrick Dempsey) and Sam, and so on throughout the film.  These are just distractions that only interrupt the film from the real reason you purchased a ticket, the battling transformers.

 

The 3D here is quite good especially in scenes where Sam slides down buildings and Autobots fight the Decepticons.  And the sound gets incredible with bullets whizzing behind you and explosions all around. I can only imagine what this film would be like in IMAX 3D.

 

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is rated PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A witless story but an amazing display of sci-fi excitement. (C+)