Monthly Archives: April 2009

What Doesn’t Kill You (2008)

My Rating : 5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Inspiring, and Ruffalo’s done a never-before-seen role, Superb!”

For his assured directorial debut, character actor Brian Goodman reaches into his troubled past. WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU tells the tale of two best friends who grew up in South Boston and fell into a… For his assured directorial debut, character actor Brian Goodman reaches into his troubled past. WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU tells the tale of two best friends who grew up in South Boston and fell into a life of petty crime. Brian (Mark Ruffalo) has a beautiful wife (Amanda Peet) and two children, but his addiction to drugs and alcohol keeps him from becoming the father he should be. Paulie (Ethan Hawke) is determined to make a big score so that they can stop scraping by and retire in style. But when a local police officer (co-writer Donnie Wahlberg) finally catches them in the act, they are forced to serve time in jail.

What Doesn't Kill You

What Doesn't Kill You

Upon returning home, Brian must confront the painful truth that crime is the only life that he knows. Yet, as difficult as it seems, he struggles to clean up his act once and for all, in order to make sure that he never has to leave his family behind again. WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU is an old-school crime drama, directed with a knowing confidence by Goodman, who himself grew up on the streets of Southie and spent time in prison. Ruffalo and Hawke step into their roles with convincing gusto. In the process, they reaffirm their status as two of their generation’s finest actors. What ultimately elevates the film’s impact is the realization that this isn’t just another thriller; it’s the heartfelt story of a man who wants to make a better life for himself and his family.

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The Hurt Locker (2009)

My Rating : 5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “The deadliest IRAQ movie so far, EXPLOSIVE and WILD!”

The Hurt Locker is a riveting, suspenseful portrait of the courage under fire of the military’s most unrecognized heroes: the technicians of the bomb squad, who volunteer to challenge the odds and save lives in one of the world’s most dangerous places. Three members of the Army’s elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) squad battle insurgents and each other as they seek out and disarm a wave of roadside bombs on the streets of Baghdad — in order to try and make the city a safer place for Iraqis and Americans alike. Their mission is clear – protect and save – but it’s anything but easy, for the margin of error on a war-zone bomb is zero. A thrilling and heart-thumping look at the effects of combat and danger on the human psyche, The Hurt Lockeris based on the first-hand observations of journalist and screenwriter Mark Boal, who was embedded with a special bomb unit in Iraq.

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker

Visionary director Kathryn Bigelow brings together groundbreaking realistic action and intimate human drama in a gripping film starring Jeremy Renner (Dahmer, The Assassination of Jesse James), Anthony Mackie (Half Nelson, We Are Marshall) and Brian Geraghty (We Are Marshall, Jarhead), with cameo appearances by Ralph Fiennes (The Reader), David Morse (“John Adams”), Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”) and Guy Pearce (Memento). The Hurt Locker is produced by Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Greg Shapiro and Nicolas Chartier. The screenplay is written by Mark Boal (In the Valley of Elah, story). Barry Ackroyd, BSC (United 93, The Wind That Shakes the Barley) is director of photography. Production designer is Karl Juliusson (K19: The Widowmaker, Breaking the Waves). Editors are Bob Murawski (Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3) and Chris Innis. Costume designer is George Little (Jarhead, Crimson Tide). Music is by Academy Award Nominee Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders (3:10 to Yuma), and sound design by Academy Award Nominee Paul N.J. Ottosson (Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3).

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker

In the summer of 2004, Sergeant J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) of Bravo Company are at the volatile center of the war, part of a small counterforce specifically trained to handle the homemade bombs, or Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), that account for more than half of American hostile deaths and have killed thousands of Iraqis. A high-pressure, high-stakes assignment, the job leaves no room for mistakes, as they learn when they lose their team leader on a mission.

When Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner) takes over the team, Sanborn and Eldridge are shocked by what seems like his reckless disregard for military protocol and basic safety measures. And yet, in the fog of war, appearances are never reliable for long. Is James really a swaggering cowboy who lives for peak experiences and the moments when the margin of error is zero or is he a consummate professional who has honed his esoteric craft to high-wire precision? As the fiery chaos of Baghdad swirls around them, the men struggle to understand and contain their new leader long enough for them to make it home. They have only 38 days left in their tour of Iraq, but with each new mission comes another deadly encounter, and as James blurs the line between bravery and bravado, it seems only a matter of time before disaster will strike.

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker

With a visual and emotional intensity that makes audiences feel like they have been transported to Iraq¹s dizzying, 24-hour turmoil, The Hurt Locker is both a tense portrayal of real-life sacrifice and heroism, and a probing look at the soul-numbing rigors and potent allure of the modern battlefield.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)

My Rating : 3/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Hilariously Fat!”

: Coming off the finale of television’s popular sitcom THE KING OF QUEENS and 2007’s I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY, funnyman Kevin James takes the role of a single dad in this largely physical comedy, which the actor also co-wrote. Paul Blart (James) is a hard worker, but has never landed his dream job of being New Jersey state trooper due to his excess weight. Determined to support his mother and his daughter, Blart takes the slightly less glamorous post as the security guard at his local shopping mall. He never complains, approaching the job with impressive diligence and pride, but doesn’t get much respect for it.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

It’s only when a group of misfits in Santa’s Helper disguises take hold of the mall and several hostages that Blart’s would-be cop smarts come in handy and he gets a chance to shine. With a deadly situation on hand, Blart may finally be able to show the world (and his romantic interest, who just happens to be one of the hostages) what he’s made of. Though the villains have several advantages over him, Blart has a Segway scooter and a big heart on his side. While many of its jokes come at the expense of James’s extra pounds, the film ultimately makes its star out to be a hero. With his everyman appeal, James is well-suited to play Blart, showing that even average Joes can make a difference with the right attitude. PAUL BLART: MALL COP takes the banal out of the shopping mall, infusing a familiar setting with energy, laughs, and high-stakes drama.

Wushu (2008)

My Rating : 3.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “A very talented Cast, and perfectly done!”

Brothers Yi and Er live in an elite martial arts school where their father, Li Hui, is a teacher. Together with their five best friends they form a gang, the Jinwunmen, swearing allegiance to each other and to be the best in the trade.

WuShu

WuShu

10 years later in their graduation year with the provincial team selection looming, their lives take an unexpected turn when they cross roads with Ke Le and foil a kidnapping attempt. Faced with a real enemy out to kill them, they have to turn to their athletic abilities into real combat.

The Warlords (2007)

My Rating : 4/5 STARS
MovisStudio Quote >> “Fantastic movie-making, ground breaking and Terrific!”

Love, politics and loyalty threaten to tear apart three soldiers in this lavish historical epic from Hong Kong. In 1870, the power of the corrupt Qing Dynasty has been threatened by the rise of a revolutionary army, led by religious fanatics, and civil war is tearing the nation apart. Pang Qingyun (Jet Li), a good man who finds himself fighting for the Qing leadership, is one of the only survivors of a bloody battle in between revolutionaries and Qing troops, and is looking for someplace to go when he’s offered shelter by a beautiful peasant woman, Lian (Xu Jinglei). Pang and Lian spend the night in each others arms, and he finds himself falling in love with her.

The Warlords

The Warlords

Pang sets out to make his way home when he’s befriended by Zhao Erhu (Andy Lau) and Jiang Wuyang (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a pair of bandits. When Jiang is attacked in an ambush, Pang helps save his life, and the three men become blood brothers in a gory ritual.

The Warlords

The Warlords

Pang convinces Jiang and Zhao to join him in the fight against the revolutionaries, and with their help Pang is able to achieve some impressive victories. However, when Pang allows his own ego and dreams of glory to override his common sense and loyalty, Zhao and Jiang come to distrust their ally, and matters become worse when it is revealed that Lian is Zhao’s wife.

Home of the Brave (2006)

My Rating : 4.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Patriotic, Impressive and a truly Inspiring Flick!”

The Vietnam War provided plenty of cinematic ruminations on the futility of battle and the struggle of returning soldiers to adjust to normal life. With HOME OF THE BRAVE director Irwin Winkler (THE NET) applies similar concepts to the Iraq War of the early 21st century, positing actors Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, Brian Presley, and 50 Cent (credited here under his real name, Curtis Jackson) in the roles of army recruits who tussle with the mundanity of life after war.The action begins during the heat of battle, with an ambush that leaves many of its victims either dead or wounded.

Home of the Brave

Home of the Brave

Winkler subsequently transports the action to the struggles his characters endure once safely back home, with alcoholism, prosthetic limbs, parental abuse, and a hostage crisis all causing innumerable problems, none of which are helped by a military that remains uninterested in their frantic pleas for help and guidance. Winkler infuses his film with an equal mixture of anger and grief, and while he may not reach the heights of Oliver Stone’s BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY or Michael Cimino’s THE DEER HUNTER, he draws on similar frustrations felt by the characters in those movies. HOME OF THE BRAVE was shot while the violence still raged in Iraq, which will doubtless make it a fascinating curio in years to come, especially as this denied Winkler a distance from his subject that many of the filmmakers who masterfully dissected the Vietnam War undoubtedly benefited from.

Donkey Punch (2009)

My Rating : 4/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “This was hell of a thriller with a bloody plot!”

Kim (Jaime Winstone), Tammi (Nichola Burley) and Lisa (Sian Breckin) are best friends on a girl’s weekend in Mallorca, away from grey Leeds. Feisty Kim and carefree Lisa are determined to party and… Kim (Jaime Winstone), Tammi (Nichola Burley) and Lisa (Sian Breckin) are best friends on a girl’s weekend in Mallorca, away from grey Leeds. Feisty Kim and carefree Lisa are determined to party and distract Tammi from an ex-boyfriend back home. They hit the town, giggling, dancing and flirting, they’re up for fun and maybe a little bit of trouble too, and find both with three middle-class London boys: smooth operator Marcus (Jay Taylor), bad boy Bluey (Tom Burke) and fresh-faced Josh (Julian Morris).

Donkey Punch

Donkey Punch

They hit it off instantly and, while sipping stolen champagne on the beach, the boys brag about the luxury yacht they are crewing on for the summer, and lure the girls back to the boat for sunset tunes and bubbly. Despite Tammi’s hesitation, Kim and Lisa are keen to party and Lisa finally coaxes Tammi onboard, but only after they’ve spotted the rather lovely Sean (Robert Boulter) who’d stayed behind on the boat while the boys were bar-hopping.

Josh gives the girls the grand tour and they are suitably impressed. Bluey jumps on the DJ decks and Sean, who turns out to be Josh’s older brother, shows his sensible nature demanding Bluey turn the music down. Marcus decides they should head out to sea where noise won’t be a problem.

The scene is idyllic. The sun is shining, the ocean is crystal blue and Bluey, (wannabe rude-boy, drug-dealer and DJ) can pump the music as loud as he wants, because there’s no one around for miles.

Bluey distributes some pills and, while they take a dip in the sparkling water, talk turns sexual. To get a reaction, Bluey explains the meaning of the phrase “donkey punch” to the shocked group and an embarrassed Josh, who’d claimed he’d mastered it.

Donkey Punch

Donkey Punch

As the ecstasy kicks in, the girls and guys begin to pair up. Bluey and Marcus decide to take the action below deck, leading Kim and Lisa into the master bedroom, while Josh scampers after them to watch. The video camera comes out and the ‘fun’ starts. While Tammi and Sean talk about deep and meaningful relationships above deck, downstairs things quickly become raunchy and out of control. Bluey is clearly an instigator and Lisa is open to experimentation. Stoked by drugs, the masculine sexual bravado is taken one step too far, when suddenly a game of dare has become a horrific fatal accident, and Lisa is dead.

Forced to straighten up and think on their feet, rash decisions are made and the girls see the boys veer swiftly from charming to cold and calculating as they see their comfy middle-class futures disappearing before their eyes. The boys turn against the girls and against each other as drug-fuelled paranoia sets in and the true nature of each character comes to the fore. Trying first manipulation and then brute force the boys try to get the girls to agree they’ll tell the police Lisa just fell overboard. While only Sean is left with some empathy for the horrific situation, in order to protect his brother he agrees to throw the body overboard. But, as the girls desperately struggle to outwit the boys, frayed nerves and intense paranoia make their vulnerability glaringly obvious.

Striking for its sparseness, Donkey Punch centres on the three elements; the characters, the boat and the ocean.

Very Bad Things (1998)

My Rating : 3/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Funny killing spree, well made and Spontaneous!”

When a group of friends go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, things begin to go wrong when the party’s stripper dies.

Very Bad Things

Very Bad Things

Attempting to cover up her death only leads to greater, and grislier, complications. A brutally dark comedy written and directed by Peter Berg of “Chicago Hope” fame.

The New World (2005)

My Rating : 4.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Splendid, Superb and a very enchanting movie!”

” …in the beginning all the World was America, and more so than it is now.” – John Locke, Second Treatise on government (1690) The New World is an epic adventure set amid the encounter of… ” …in the beginning all the World was America, and more so than it is now.” – John Locke, Second Treatise on government (1690) The New World is an epic adventure set amid the encounter of European and Native American cultures during the founding of the Jamestown settlement in 1607. Inspired by the legend of John Smith and Pocahontas, acclaimed filmmaker TERRENCE MALICK transforms this classic story into a sweeping exploration of love, loss and discovery, both a celebration and an elegy of the America that was…and the America that was yet to come. Against the dramatic and historically rich backdrop of a pristine Eden inhabited by a great native civilization, Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line) has set a dramatized tale of two strong-willed characters, a passionate and noble young native woman and an ambitious soldier of fortune who find themselves torn between the undeniable requirements of civic duty and the inescapable demands of the heart.

The New World

The New World

In the early years of the 17th century, North America is much as it has been for the previous five thousand years—a vast land of seemingly endless primeval wilderness populated by an intricate network of tribal cultures. Although these nations live in graceful harmony with their environment, their relations with each other are a bit more uneasy. All it will take to upset the balance is an intrusion from the outside. One is not long in coming. On a spring day in April of 1607, three diminutive ships bearing 103 men sail into this world from their unimaginably distant home, the island kingdom of England, three thousand miles to the east across a vast ocean. On behalf of their sponsor, the royally chartered Virginia Company, they are seeking to establish a cultural, religious, and economic foothold on the coast of what they regard as the New World.

The New World

The New World

The lead ship of the tiny flotilla is called the Susan Constant. Shackled below decks in her brig is a rebellious 27-year-old named John Smith (COLIN FARRELL), sentence and destined to be hanged for insubordination as soon as the ship reaches land. A veteran of countless European wars, Smith is a soldier of fortune…though fortune has often turned its back on him. Still, he is too talented and popular to have his neck stretched by his own people, and so he is freed by Captain Christopher Newport (CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER) soon after the Susan Constant drops anchor. As Captain Newport knows—and the colonists will soon discover—surviving in this unknown wilderness will require the services of every able-bodied man…particularly one of Smith’s abilities. Though they don’t realize it at the time, Newport and his band of British settlers have landed in the midst of a sophisticated Native American empire ruled by the powerful chieftain Powhatan (AUGUST SCHELLENBERG).

The New World

The New World

To the colonists, it may be a new world. But to Powhatan and his people, it is an ancient world—and the only one they have ever known. The English, strangers in a strange land, struggle from the beginning, unable—or, in some cases, stubbornly unwilling—to fend for themselves. Smith, searching for assistance from the local tribesmen, chances upon a young woman who at first seems to be more woodland sprite than human being. A willful and impetuous young woman whose family and friends affectionately call her “Pocahontas”—or “playful one”—she is the favorite of Powhatan’s children. Before long a bond develops between Smith and Pocahontas (Q’ORIANKA KILCHER in her feature starring debut), a bond so powerful that it transcends friendship or even romance—and eventually becomes the basis of one of the most enduring American legends of the past 400 years.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

My Rating : 5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Rating >> “Outrageous, Ridley Scott just made this an Epic!”

“Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Speak the truth, always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath…” Director Ridley Scott is the master of epic cinematic storytelling with a deeply personal core, as he has shown in films like Gladiator, Blade Runner, and Black Hawk Down. In KINGDOM OF HEAVEN he now turns to the Crusades — that world-shaping 200-year collision between Europe and the East — to frame the tale of a young Frenchman who discovers his destiny as a knight, then lives out what that glorious title really means. Orlando Bloom stars as Balian, a blacksmith who has lost his family and nearly lost his faith. The religious wars raging in the far-off Holy Land seem remote to him, yet he is pulled into that immense drama.

Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven

Amid the pageantry and intrigues of medieval Jerusalem he falls in love, grows into a leader, and ultimately uses all his courage and skill to defend the city against staggering odds. Destiny comes seeking Balian in the form of a great knight, Godfrey of Ibelin (Liam Neeson), a Crusader briefly home to France from fighting in the East. Revealing himself as Balian’s father, Godfrey shows him the true meaning of knighthood and takes him on a journey across continents to the fabled Holy City. In Jerusalem at that moment — between the Second and Third Crusades — a fragile peace prevails, through the efforts of its enlightened Christian king, Baldwin IV, aided by his advisor Tiberias (Jeremy Irons), and the military restraint of the legendary Muslim leader Saladin (Ghassan Massoud).

Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven

But Baldwin’s days are numbered, and strains of fanaticism, greed, and jealousy among the Crusaders threaten to shatter the truce. King Baldwin’s vision of peace — a “kingdom of heaven” — is shared by a handful of knights, including Godfrey of Ibelin, who swear to uphold it with their lives and honor. As Godfrey passes his sword to his son, he also passes on that sacred oath: to protect the helpless, safeguard the peace, and work toward harmony between religions and cultures, so that a kingdom of heaven can flourish on earth. Balian takes the sword and steps into history.