Monthly Archives: September 2008

Mirrors (2008)

My Rating : ****

French director Alexandre Aja adds to his growing canon of horror features with this remake of the Korean feature GEOUL SOKEURO (2003). Kiefer Sutherland stars as Ben Carson, a disgraced former New York City cop who attempts to put his checkered past behind him by taking a job as a security guard. Carson is required to take the night shift in a department store in the city.

mirrors

mirrors

The store closed down after a fire put an end to its business, and Carson soon discovers that malevolent spirits are lurking behind its walls. The spirits connect with the human world through the mirrors in the store, and when they discover Carson’s presence they go after his ex-wife, Amy (Paula Patton), and his kids (played by Erica Gluck and Cameron Boyce). Carson attempts to figure out the meaning of a cryptic message carved into one of the mirrors, hoping it will save his family and cut off contact with the malignant lurking presence. Aja successfully replicates much of the tension and edge-of-your-seat moments that he managed so skillfully in HAUTE TENSION (2003). The film begins with an unnerving set piece in which Carson’s predecessor takes a shard of mirror and slashes his own throat, and it’s an indication of the gore-filled fun that awaits intrepid viewers. Aja creates a palpable sense of unease by shooting dim-lit set pieces in the department store. Sutherland makes for a convincing lead in a character that closely resembles his turn as Jack Bauer in 24. There are plenty of genuine scares in the film, and the director ultimately spins MIRRORS as a cross between a psychological thriller in the vein of the POLTERGEIST movies and a no-holds-barred splatter flick.

Box Office Today

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This
Week
Title
1
/life/_photos/2006/10/15/grudge-thumb.jpg Eagle Eye
Weekend gross
: $29.2M
2
/life/_photos/2006/10/15/grudge-thumb.jpg Nights in Rodanthe
Weekend gross
: $13.6M
3
/life/_photos/2006/10/15/grudge-thumb.jpg Lakeview Terrace
Weekend gross
: $7M
4
/life/_photos/2006/10/15/grudge-thumb.jpg Fireproof (not reviewed)
Weekend gross
: $6.5M
5
/life/_photos/2006/10/15/grudge-thumb.jpg Burn After Reading
Weekend gross
: $6.2M
6
/life/_photos/2006/10/15/grudge-thumb.jpg Igor
Weekend gross
: $5.5M
6
7
/life/_photos/2006/10/15/grudge-thumb.jpg
Righteous Kill
Weekend gross
: $3.803M
8
/life/_photos/2006/10/15/grudge-thumb.jpg My Best Friend’s Girl
Weekend gross
: $3.8M
9
/life/_photos/2006/10/15/grudge-thumb.jpg Miracle at St. Anna
Weekend gross
: $3.5M
10
/life/_photos/2006/10/15/grudge-thumb.jpg Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys
Weekend gross
: $3.

courtesy : http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/box-office.htm

The Kingdom (2007)

My Rating : ****.5

Actor, writer, and director Peter Berg (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS) delivers a fearless, action-packed political thriller with THE KINGDOM. Shot in the Middle East with unsettling immediacy, the hand-held cameras put viewers right inside the action, while the tension between American FBI agents and their Saudi counterparts maintains an interesting uncertainty about who’s “right” and who’s “wrong.” The bad guys, however, are unmistakable: the film opens with a brutal terrorist attack on an oil company compound in Saudi Arabia, where a visiting FBI agent is killed.

the kingdom

the kingdom

Back home in Washington, fellow agents Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx, RAY) and Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner, ALIAS), want revenge, and will do whatever it takes to gain access to the investigation. Fleury all but blackmails a Saudi prince to get clearance against the wishes of a timorous attorney general, and flies overnight to the scene of the crime. Accompanying him are the no-nonsense forensics expert Mayes, Southern-fried bomb authority Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper, ADAPTATION), and Jewish smart aleck Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT). Once there, they encounter the resistance of a Saudi government more interested in getting the Americans safely out of the country and avoiding conflict, rather than in solving the crime. They are assigned a smarmy handler with a weak stomach (Jeremy Piven, ENTOURAGE) to make sure they stay out of trouble. The team must navigate a maze of bureaucracy to begin collecting evidence, but they have an unlikely ally in their Saudi escort, Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom, PARADISE NOW), a scrupulous and intelligent officer whom Fleury befriends. Soon enough, procedure and protocol give way to car chases and explosive fire fights, and the current bleak political climate of extremism and violence is portrayed in a stark light with no easy answers.

College (2008)

My Rating : **.5

First-time director Deb Hagan teams up with first-time screenwriters Dan Callahan and Adam Ellison in the gross-out comedy COLLEGE. Kevin (Drake Bell), Carter (Andrew Caldwell), and Morris (Kevin Covais) are three nerdy high school…  First-time director Deb Hagan teams up with first-time screenwriters Dan Callahan and Adam Ellison in the gross-out comedy COLLEGE. Kevin (Drake Bell), Carter (Andrew Caldwell), and Morris (Kevin Covais) are three nerdy high school seniors who need some adventure in their life. After Gina (Alona Tal) breaks up with Kevin, the trio decides to have a wild weekend at Fieldmont University, where Kevin and Morris are planning on going to college in the fall–Morris on an academic scholarship. When their preassigned dorm room is not ready for them for reasons best left unsaid, they turn instead to one of the fraternities, where a cousin of Carter’s was a member, hoping to be treated as legacies. But the frat, which is on probation and cannot have a new pledge class, takes advantage of the situation by turning Kevin, Carter, and Morris into pre-frosh pledges for the weekend, torturing them in numerous and disgusting ways, some involving pigs, nitrous oxide, bathrooms, and lots of alcohol. The three nerds try to find solace–and possible sex–with Heather (Camille Mana), Kendall (Haley Bennett), and Amy (Nathalie Walker), but the frat brothers have other plans.

college

college

COLLEGE follows in the footsteps of such higher-learning comedies as HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE, REVENGE OF THE NERDS, and AMERICAN PIE, where no joke is too lewd, crude, or rude. And then there’s Bearcat (Gary Owen), who just about steals the show as the craziest of all the fraternity brothers. The soundtrack features songs by Ben Kweller, Oklahomos, the Transcenders, and Supagroup, who also appear in the movie, playing a wild fraternity party.

Mongol (2008)

My Rating : ****

Award-winning Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov (Prisoner of the Mountains) illuminates the life and legend of Genghis Khan in his stunning historical epic, Mongol. Based on leading scholarly accounts and written by Bodrov and Arif Aliyev, Mongol delves into the dramatic and harrowing early years of the ruler who was born as Temudgin in 1162. As it follows Temudgin from his perilous childhood to the battle that sealed his destiny, the film paints a multidimensional portrait of the future conqueror, revealing him not as the evil brute of hoary stereotype, but as an inspiring, fearless and visionary leader. Mongol shows us the making of an extraordinary man, and the foundation on which so much of his greatness rested: his relationship with his wife, Borte, his lifelong love and most trusted advisor.

mongol

mongol

Filmed in the very lands that gave birth to Genghis Khan, Mongol transports us back to a distant and exotic period in world history; to a nomad’s landscape of endless space, climatic extremes and ever-present danger. In a performance of powerful stillness and subtlety, celebrated young Japanese actor Asano Tadanobu (Zatoichi, Last Life in the Universe) captures the inner fire that enabled a hunted boy to become a legendary conqueror. Asano’s achievement is matched by those of his co-stars, including the radiant newcomer Khulan Chuluun as Temudgin’s courageous, spirited wife Borte, and the Chinese actor Honglei Sun (The Road Home) as the Mongol chieftain Jamukha, Temudgin’s dearest friend and deadliest enemy. Masterfully blending action and emotion against some of the most arresting terrain on earth, Bodrov delivers an exciting and awe-inspiring tale of survival and triumph, and a love story for the ages.

Felon (2008)

My Rating : ***.5

A loving husband and father finds his promising future transformed into a waking nightmare when he’s convicted of involuntary manslaughter after accidentally killing the burglar who broke into his home in this gritty prison drama starring Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer.

felon

felon

Wade Porter (Dorff) would have done anything to protect his family, and when they were threatened he did what any caring family man would have done. But somehow everything went wrong, and now Wade has been sentenced to spend three years in a maximum-security prison. It’s a place where the rules of society have been all but forgotten, and in addition to sharing a cell with a notorious mass murderer (Kilmer), Wade somehow incurs the wrath of the sadistic head prison guard (Harold Perrineau). Now, in order to survive the series of vicious beatings orchestrated for the amusement of the guards, Wade realizes that in order to survive the block and get back to his family he will have to become the toughest felon of them all. But even if Wade does manage to live through this harrowing ordeal, what will be left of that loving family man once he’s finally released back into civilized society?

Death Race (2008)

My Rating : ****

Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher star as strangers who wake up a married couple after a crazy night in Las Vegas in director Tom Vaughn’s (STARTER FOR 10) feature film. Joy (Diaz) is the type of woman who makes plans to make plans. She’s… The Roger Corman-produced cult favorite DEATH RACE 2000 (1975) gets an update in this reworking from action director Paul W.S. Anderson (RESIDENT EVIL). In a role sure to please fans of his work in CRANK (2006) and the TRANSPORTER films, Jason Statham is Frankenstein, the fierce driver portrayed by David Carradine in the original. The script, also by Anderson, largely does away with the original’s satirical elements in favor an increased number of breathtaking crashes and stunt driving.

death race

death race

In 2012, the American economy has collapsed, and prisons have been taken over by corporations. Overseen by Warden Hennessey (Joan Allen), Terminal Island prison generates immense amounts of revenue with pay-per-view broadcasts of “Death Race,” in which inmates participate in an auto race where anything goes. New inmate Jensen Ames (Statham), who has been framed for the death of his wife, is chosen to take over the role of Frankenstein, the contest’s recently deceased masked star driver. His chief competitor, Machine Gun Joe (Tyrese Gibson), unaware that a new man is behind the mask of his old rival, will stop at nothing to win. With Case, a sexy navigator from the nearby women’s facility, and a trusty pit crew led by wise veteran Coach (Ian McShane), Ames has a good shot at winning. If he does, he’s been promised his freedom—but the race holds more obstacles than he can imagine, and ratings are more important to Hennessey than being true to her word. Loud, gory, and lightning fast, DEATH RACE is geared to the video game generation, right down to the graphics that appear onscreen during the race’s TV broadcast. Once again, Statham creates a great hero to root for in a performance that rises above the copious stunts and visual effects. Allen, in uncharacteristic role, is suitably imposing as the steely warden.

The Love Guru (2008)

My Rating : **.5

Austin Powers trilogy star Mike Myers collaborates with writer Graham Gordy for this comedy concerning a self-help guru named Pitka (Myers), who devotes his life to unknotting the romantic entanglements of troubled couples. As a young child, Pitka is abandoned at the gates of an ashram in India and taken in by kindly gurus. An American by birth, Pitka absorbs the lessons taught to him by his teachers and later returns to the United States to become a leading authority on spirituality and self-help.

the love guru

the love guru

While Pitka’s methods are decidedly unorthodox, they may be the only means of ensuring that the Toronto Maple Leafs win the coveted Stanley Cup. The Maple Leaf’s star Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) is in trouble. His estranged wife has recently begun dating L.A. Kings star Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake) in a vengeful effort to send her husband’s career into a tailspin, and when Roanoke starts to falter on the ice, the whole team starts to suffer. As their visions of leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Stanley Cup are quickly going up in flames, team owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) and Coach Cherkov (Verne Troyer) enlist the aid of the world’s best-known relationship expert in restoring the peace between Roanoke and his wife, and getting their team back on the track to the championships.

What Happens in Vegas (2008)

My Rating : ****

Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher star as strangers who wake up a married couple after a crazy night in Las Vegas in director Tom Vaughn’s (STARTER FOR 10) feature film. Joy (Diaz) is the type of woman who makes plans to make plans. She’s… Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher star as strangers who wake up a married couple after a crazy night in Las Vegas in director Tom Vaughn’s (STARTER FOR 10) feature film. Joy (Diaz) is the type of woman who makes plans to make plans. She’s expecting a marriage proposal, but her live-in boyfriend, Mason (Jason Sudeikis), has other ideas. When he dumps her, Joy heads to Vegas to forget her troubles with her friend Tipper (Lake Bell) and discovers her fun, spontaneous side. Unfortunately, she also wakes up with recently unemployed Jack (Kutcher) as her husband.

what happens in vegas

what happens in vegas

The two quickly decide to divorce, but the plot thickens when Jack wins a $3 million slot jackpot using Joy’s quarter. Since neither one of them wants to give up the cash, they each try to drive the other to file for divorce and give up the bounty. But love has a funny way of appearing when you least expect it, and in acting their worst, Joy and Jack actually bring out the best in each other. Diaz and Kutcher have nice onscreen chemistry and make a very photogenic couple. Treat Williams stars as Jack’s difficult-to-please father, while Rob Corddry is Jack’s best friend, Hater. Queen Latifah and Dennis Miller appear briefly as a marriage counselor and divorce court judge, respectively. The Vegas scenes are flashy and fun–just like Sin City–and the settings for the New York City scenes differentiate nicely between Joy’s organized, structured life and Jack’s less serious, happy-go-lucky attitude.

Dark Knight (2008)

My Rating : *****

To say that Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT is the best comic book adaptation does the film a bit of a disservice. It may be a Batman film, but this isn’t a kid-friendly action movie full of the bams and pows of the original series. This is a pitch-black thriller with enough drama and tragedy to please even William Shakespeare, but it will certainly keep both comics fans and uninitiated audiences equally happy.

dark knight

dark knight

THE DARK KNIGHT starts in the wake of BATMAN BEGINS: with the appearance of Batman (Christian Bale), Gotham City’s criminal underworld is unnerved. They’re also plagued by the new D.A., Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who, in his quest for justice, remains above the city’s corruption. Enter a new villain, the Joker (Heath Ledger), who wants to unite the criminals for a common purpose: to kill Batman. THE DARK KNIGHT is one of the most hyped movies to date, and a lesser film would be crushed under the weight of all that expectation. Some of the publicity stems from the early death of Ledger, who turns in an excellent performance. He provides moments of humor, but this Joker is terrifying, sharing more with classic villains such as Hannibal Lechter than with his comic book predecessors. Eckhart is equally good as Dent, and Maggie Gyllenhaal deserves praise for taking over the role of Rachel Dawes from Katie Holmes. Though there’s more emphasis on plot and character development than in most comic book adaptations, that doesn’t mean Nolan has skimped on any of the action sequences. Each set piece is done perfectly, leaving the audience breathless. THE DARK KNIGHT is filmmaking at its best; its subject matter may be dark and depressing, but it’s tough not to feel exhilarated by its artistry when the credits begin to roll.