Monthly Archives: January 2009

Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000)

My Rating : 2.5/5 STARS

Jesse (Ashton Kutcher) and Chester (Seann William Scott) got really wasted last night. The fridge is packed with pudding, their girlfriends–“The Twins”–are ticked off, and somehow Jesse’s car has disappeared. So the hapless stoners set out to find the car, which happens to have their girlfriends’ anniversary presents in it. But they soon discover that losing the car isn’t half the story.

Dude, Where's My Car?

Dude, Where's My Car?

High school hottie Christie (Kristy Swanson) is mysteriously hot for Jesse, Chester is a favorite customer at the local topless club, and they owe a suitcase full of money to a transvestite stripper. On top of all that, they’re being pursued by a minivan full of geeks, horny “space babes,” and a couple of “totally gay” Scandinavian dudes–all trying to find the “continuum transfunctioner,” the device that can save or destroy the universe. Duuude…. DUDE’s comic formula is pretty simple: throw the dudes in one bizarre situation after another and watch them goof their way out. Given the movie’s PG-13 rating, it all lands on the lighter side of the teen-comedy spectrum, and if angry ostriches, donut-loving cops, a 50-foot bimbo in a miniskirt, and a pot-smoking dog sound like a good combo, DUDE has got a deal for you.

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Chocolate (2009)

My Rating : 5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Magnificent, Entertaining, Breathtaking and Heart-Throbbing Stunts – MUST WATCH!”

A young autistic woman named Zen (Yanin Vismistananda) has developed uncanny martial arts skills by watching television, and from living next door to a Muay Thai academy.

The girl is the daughter of Zin (Ammara Siripong), the Thai wife of Yakuza boss Masashi (Hiroshi Abe).

Zin was previously the girlfriend of Thai gangster No. 8 (Pongpat Wachirabunjong), who was jealous of her relationship with rival gangster Masashi. After Zin chose Masashi, he shot his own toe and forbids Zin from ever seeing him again. Zin asks Masashi to go back to Japan as they would not be able to be together safely. He begrudgingly leaves.

chocolate

chocolate

Soon after Zin finds herself pregnant and moves into a new place to get away from No. 8. She has a daughter that she names Zen. Soon it is discovered that Zen suffers from Autism and will need special care. As Zen gets older, one day Zin decides to tell Masashi about his daughter by writing him a letter. No. 8 finds out that Zin is in contact with Masashi and is furious. He visits Zin and cuts off one of Zin’s toes, to remind her she is forbidden from seeing Masashi. Zin is forced to move again to a house shared by a Muay Thai kickboxing school.

chocolate

chocolate

Zen becomes infatuated with martial arts and begins to self-teach herself by mimicking the moves she sees as well as what she watches on television. One day when coming home from work Zin sees a poor little boy being picked on in the streets named Muum. Feeling sorry for his plight she takes him in. It is shown that Zen has uncanny reflexes and is able to catch balls thrown without even looking.

chocolate

chocolate

Zin then falls ill with cancer, and does not have the money to pay for treatments. Zen and Muum attempt to make money to pay for these treatments by having people throw balls at her as a street performer. Unfortunately they are not able to earn enough to keep up with the treatments.

chocolate

chocolate

One day, Muum discovers a list of debtors in an old notebook, from the days when Zin was a high-interest moneylender under No. 8. In order to get money to pay for her mother’s cancer treatment, Zen and Muum decide to collect on the debts, which leads to confrontations with various criminal gangs and, eventually, No. 8.

W. (2008)

My Rating : 4/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “One of the best Real Life Movie about a very REAL LIFE PRESIDENT!”

Whether you love him or hate him, there is no question that George W. Bush is one of the most controversial public figures in recent memory.

W.

W.

In an unprecedented undertaking, acclaimed director Oliver Stone is bringing the life of our 43rd President to the big screen as only he can.

W.

W.

W takes viewers through Bush’s eventful life — his struggles and triumphs, how he found both his wife and his faith, and of course the critical days leading up to Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

W.

W.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

My Rating : 4/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Enlightening, Mystifying and out-of-the-world Special Effects!”

A remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic of the same name, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL follows astrobiologist Helen Benson (Jennifer Connelly) as she is unceremoniously plucked from her everyday life with her stepson (Jaden Smith), and whisked away to consult the government on a top-secret matter.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

That matter happens to be the arrival of a massive glowing sphere in Central Park, accompanied by a towering robot-like protector dubbed Gort and an alien ambassador named Klaatu (Keanu Reeves), who takes up human form to communicate with the people of Earth. When Klaatu finds himself faced with hawkish, uncompromising officials, he goes on the run with Benson and her son as the fate of the world gradually becomes clear.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Directed by Scott Derrickson (THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE), this reimagining of THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL is fairly reverent to the original film, while adding a number of 21st-century elements, most notably a darker tone embodied by a more threatening Gort and the chilly, contemplative Klaatu, who is portrayed with pitch-perfect remove by Reeves.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

While the film–and the fate of humanity–rests on Reeves’s shoulders, the cast is impressively filled out by Connelly and Smith, along with Kathy Bates, John Cleese, and familiar TV actors Jon Hamm (MAD MEN) and Kyle Chandler (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS). Derrickson also tempers excellent special effects with a bleak color palette and plenty of existential turmoil, making this EARTH a thoughtful and fascinatingly moody blockbuster.

Quarantine (2008)

My Rating : 3.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “A Blair With Project type, haunting, thrilling and dangerously made!”

A faithful adaptation of the 2007 Spanish film REC, QUARANTINE chronicles the outbreak of a rabies-like disease in a Los Angeles apartment building and the struggle of the unaffected residents to… A faithful adaptation of the 2007 Spanish film REC, QUARANTINE chronicles the outbreak of a rabies-like disease in a Los Angeles apartment building and the struggle of the unaffected residents to stay alive after the authorities trap them inside in an effort to contain it. Equal parts BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and 28 DAYS LATER, the film is presented through the eye of a video camera, putting the audience in the middle of the action and creating a heightened level of intensity and realism.

quarantine

quarantine

Television reporter Angela (Jennifer Carpenter) and her cameraman, Scott (Steve Harris), are covering the goings-on at a firehouse for a program about night shift workers. As she clowns around with two flirty firemen (Jonathan Schaech and Jay Hernandez), an alarm sounds, and a truck is dispatched–with Angela and Scott on board—to an apartment building where an old woman has seemingly lost her mind. The woman bites one of the firemen and is soon killed, but when more tenants turn up with the same disorder, it’s clear that a chain reaction is occurring.

quarantine

quarantine

Unfortunately for Angela and the rest of the uninfected residents, the authorities have quarantined the building—but she and Scott continue to document the tragic and terrifying events inside the building as those inside are one by one transformed into bloodthirsty monsters. Director John Eric Dowdle, whose film THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES also used a pseudo-documentary approach in detailing the crimes of a serial killer, creates a sustained level of chaos and fear that will have all but the most seasoned horror fan cowering in the corner. Though the shaky camerawork may be difficult to take for those prone to motion sickness, it–along with a complete absence of music–gives the film a startling realism and immediacy to accompany its stomach-churning descent into full-on hopelessness and dread.

Miracle at St. Anna (2008)

My Rating : 4.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “A Larger Than Life portrayal of a True Story beyond imagination!”

All Spike Lee’s movies, from SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT forward, have tackled big ideas head-on using wide strokes to a paint a picture that is both impressionistic and realistic. Though not the most subtle director, Lee has consistently challenged both his audience and himself. His step into genre filmmaking with 2006’s INSIDE MAN was a delightful surprise, and though he continues down this road somewhat with the World War II film MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, he also returns with force to the realm of the big idea.

Miracle at St. Anna

Miracle at St. Anna

The first film ever to tell the story of the Army’s all African-American Buffalo Soldier unit, MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA is inherently an important film. Yet rather than allow it to stand on its own as simply a war picture starring African-American actors, Lee takes on myriad social and historical discussions. Based on the novel of the same name by James McBride (who also wrote the script), the movie follows four soldiers as they take refuge in an Italian village after being cut off from their platoon. There are various supernatural elements to the film, the most pronounced of which is a mysterious statue head that one soldier acquires and refuses to part with. There’s also a framing device involving a murder nearly 40 years after the conclusion of the war; add to that a subplot involving the Italian resistance movement, and it’s easy to get a bit lost in this Byzantine tale.

Miracle at St. Anna

Miracle at St. Anna

Still, Lee is never anything less than passionate about his subjects, and with MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA he brings that fire to a story that took decades to come to the big screen. Perhaps not the most definitive “Spike Lee Joint,” MIRACLE remains a noteworthy film in the canon of one of America’s most important filmmakers.

The Morgue (2007)

My Rating : 2/5 STARS

A group of six strangers plagued by a condition that causes them to be invisible–although not quite dead–to the temporal world soon find themselves thrown together by fate.

The Morgue

The Morgue

Congregated in a strange morgue, their common problem allows them to relate to each other. Before the night is out, however, the morgue will reveal to them a shocking secret. Heather Donahue (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) stars in this eerie horror-thriller.

Black Christmas (2006)

My Rating : 3.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “A Christmas made of Blood! – Deadly, Gory and Thrilling”

Though it was only a mild success upon its release in 1974, the original BLACK CHRISTMAS (directed by Bob Clark, who would go on to direct A CHRISTMAS STORY in 1984) has become a cult favorite… Though it was only a mild success upon its release in 1974, the original BLACK CHRISTMAS (directed by Bob Clark, who would go on to direct A CHRISTMAS STORY in 1984) has become a cult favorite among horror buffs since the dawn of the home-video era. An early example of the “body count” genre, the film also predates WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (1979) in its use of a killer making threatening phone calls that originate within his potential victims’ own house.

Black Christmas

Black Christmas

In this remake, writer/director Glen Morgan takes the basics of Roy Moore’s screenplay for the original to create an elaborate and almost comically disturbing back story for Billy, the killer who previously remained a mystery. A handful of sorority girls remain at the house after the school shuts down for Christmas break. An ominous snowstorm blows in, isolating them. At the same time, a killer–who in this version escapes from a mental institution to return to his former family home–breaks into the attic and begins making terrifying phone calls to the girls (led by Kate Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Lacey Chabert) before killing them off one by one.

Black Christmas

Black Christmas

SCTV veteran Andrea Martin, who portrayed a victim in the original, returns as Ms. Mac, the house mother. Stylistically, Moore’s remake avoids casting the film in the ironic post-SCREAM or streamlined, gore-free Japanese-horror-inspired fright films of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Instead he makes BLACK CHRISTMAS in the style of a wet and red ’80s slasher film.

Black Christmas

Black Christmas

The plentiful blood and guts will please fans of that era, as will tributes to the HALLOWEEN films. This, along with a soundtrack that eschews holiday standards in favor of modern pop music, plus a dim lighting scheme that relies heavily on colored Christmas bulbs, combine to create an atmosphere of holiday dread in this fun update of what has become a horror classic.

You, Me and Dupree (2006)

My Rating : 3.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Hilarious, Motivating and a sensational comedy drama!”

Several of the hottest comic talents in the film world today headline the story of a loveable, well-meaning, but arrested adolescent who drives his best friends nuts in the new comedy You, Me and… Several of the hottest comic talents in the film world today headline the story of a loveable, well-meaning, but arrested adolescent who drives his best friends nuts in the new comedy You, Me and Dupree. OWEN WILSON, coming off of the biggest comic sensation of the past several years with Wedding Crashers, now brings his latest character—free-spirited bachelor and permanent houseguest Randolph Dupree—straight to the film’s front door. KATE HUDSON (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Skeleton Key) stars as Molly Peterson, the understanding—yet put upon—schoolteacher bride of Dupree’s oldest friend Carl (MATT DILLON, There’s Something About Mary, Crash). Joining the trio, two-time Oscar® winner MICHAEL DOUGLAS (Wall Street, The War of the Roses) plays Molly’s dad (and Carl’s boss), the doting-yet-scheming real estate tycoon Mr. Thompson, while SETH ROGEN (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) plays Carl and Dupree’s good buddy Neil. Face it. No matter who you are, you have met, dated, loaned money to, bailed out of a jam or played host to a Dupree.

You, Me and Dupree

You, Me and Dupree

Who among us doesn’t have that wayward, slacker friend who marches to the beat of his own drum? We all know a Dupree: the good-hearted confidante, that party animal who can drink us under the table while dispensing unique wisdom into our lives…and who loves nothing more than couch channel-surfing while the rest of the world trudges off to the daily grind. In You, Me and Dupree, Carl and Molly have found the one unfortunate hitch in their perfectly constructed newly wedded world: Dupree. A slacker with the soul of a poet, Dupree just can’t seem to catch a break from “The Man.” When he takes a week off to best-man Carl and Molly’s marriage in Hawaii, Dupree gets the unceremonious heave-ho from his boss.

You, Me and Dupree

You, Me and Dupree

Now jobless, car-less and evicted from the cot at his favorite watering hole, he just needs to crash with the Petersons for a couple of days; okay, maybe a month or so… At first, Carl is psyched to have the couch guest while Molly bears the brunt of Dupree’s well-meaning antics. But, as Carl becomes buried in his grown-up job of land development and headaches, he finds it hard to juggle Dupree and his newlywed responsibilities. As time passes, his and Molly’s houseguest uses his ample spare time to become a great companion to her, underscoring Carl’s new workaholic tendencies. Even Molly’s dad begins to fall for Dupree’s carefree wisdom, frustrating Carl to no end. Soon, everyone (but Carl) begins to root for Dupree to stick around. But just as the impish buddy starts becoming a fixture in the Petersons’ home, three becomes not just a crowd…but a full-blown comic catastrophe. As the couple realizes their ideas of a white-picket fence marriage are morphing, their loveable pal serves as a daily reminder that finding your inner Dupree might just be one of life’s hidden secrets. For anyone who has ever longed to live by the seat of her pants or go where the wind blows him comes a comedy from Emmy Award-winning directors ANTHONY & JOE RUSSO (Arrested Development).

You, Me and Dupree

You, Me and Dupree

The directing duo helm the wildly comic story from first-time screenwriter MICHAEL LE SIEUR of a suburban couple who are just trying to make their new marriage work when her and me unexpectedly become You, Me and Dupree. The inaugural feature from the new production company formed by longtime partners SCOTT STUBER and MARY PARENT, You, Me and Dupree is also produced by Wilson. Stuber comes to Dupree fresh from his recent production with Vince Vaughn of The Break-Up, the highest-opening romantic comedy of all-time. The film is executive produced by MICHAEL FOTTRELL (Sweet Home Alabama), AARON KAPLAN (Dead Asleep) and SEAN PERRONE (Dead Asleep). The creative team supporting the Russo brothers includes director of photography CHARLES MINSKY (Raising Helen), film editors PETER B. ELLIS (television’s Carnivàle) and DEBRA NEIL-FISHER (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days). Production designer BARRY ROBISON (Wedding Crashers) returns to work with Wilson for the film. The music is by ROLFE KENT (Failure to Launch); music supervisor is RANDALL POSTER (The School of Rock).

Swing Vote (2008)

My Rating : 3.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Funny story revolving around an election, a totally new kinda story!”

Writer/director Joshua Michael Stern (NEVERWAS) tackles American politics in his second feature film. Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) is just your below-average Joe. He works in an egg factory, likes… Writer/director Joshua Michael Stern (NEVERWAS) tackles American politics in his second feature film. Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner) is just your below-average Joe. He works in an egg factory, likes to knock back a few too many beers, and is a single parent to 12-year old Molly (Madeline Carroll), a bright spitfire who does her best to keep her dad on the straight and narrow. Patriotic Molly insists that apathetic Bud do his civic duty and vote in the upcoming presidential election, a tight race between Republican incumbent Andrew Boone (Kelsey Grammer) and Democratic candidate Donald Greenleaf (Dennis Hopper).

swing vote

swing vote

Soon the media and both candidates descend upon Bud’s hometown of Texico, New Mexico, when it’s determined that his vote wasn’t counted and will decide the outcome of the entire presidential election. Now that Bud is a “somebody”–there’s even a “Bud Cam” capturing his every move–will he be swayed by visits to Air Force One and the “Bud Ball” held in his honor, or will he be the voice of the American people and vote for the better candidate? The lengths the candidates go to in order to win Bud’s vote are high points of the film, as they find themselves supporting initiatives that are completely opposed to their platforms at the urging of their campaign managers, played by Stanley Tucci and Nathan Lane.

swing vote

swing vote

Grammer is well cast as Boone, and it’s a hoot to see counterculture icon Hopper in this light. Costner makes Bud likable despite the loser stereotype he personifies. But this film belongs to Carroll, a lovely young actress who can steal a scene with one look. If nothing else, SWING VOTE is a reminder that even though politics may be a game, every single vote really does count.