Monthly Archives: June 2010

Brooklyn’s Finest (2010)

My Rating: 4.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “I loved this flick, a lot of chaos and police involved. It was a generous attempt, frankly. Wesley makes a fireball comeback, Ethan rocks the screen and Don/Gere are just unavoidable!”

In the course of one chaotic week, the lives of three conflicted New York City police officers are dramatically transformed by their involvement in a massive drug operation in Brooklyn’s Finest, a searing new crime drama from acclaimed director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day). Burned out veteran Eddie Dugan (Golden Globe®-winner Richard Gere) is just one week away from his pension and a fishing cabin in Connecticut. Narcotics officer Sal Procida (Oscar® nominee Ethan Hawke) has discovered there’s no line he won’t cross to provide a better life for his long-suffering wife and seven children.

Brooklyn's Finest

And Clarence “Tango” Butler (Oscar® nominee Don Cheadle) has been undercover so long his loyalties have started to shift from his fellow police officers to his prison buddy Caz (Wesley Snipes), one of Brooklyn’s most infamous drug dealers. With personal and work pressures bearing down on them, each man faces daily tests of judgment and honor in one of the world’s most difficult jobs. When NYPD’s Operation Clean Up targets the notoriously drug-ridden BK housing project, all three officers find themselves swept away by the violence and corruption of Brooklyn’s gritty 65th Precinct and its most treacherous criminals.

Brooklyn's Finest

During seven fateful days, Eddie, Sal and Tango find themselves hurtling inextricably toward the same fatal crime scene and a shattering collision with destiny. The film captures the volatile and deadly world of one of New York’s most dangerous precincts through the eyes of the men and women pledged to protect and serve, as they face the wrenching choices that make them Brooklyn’s Finest.

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Slow Burn (2007)

My Rating: 3/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Movie was a lot thrilling, even though I had to rewind to know more!”

In director/writer Wayne Beach’s neo-noir thriller, SLOW BURN, various characters on both sides of the law collide in an unnamed city. District Attorney Ford Cole (Ray Liotta) is campaigning to become mayor, but his assistant D.A. and lover, Nora Timmer (a sultry Jolene Blalock, best known for her stint on the STAR TREK series ENTERPRISE), finds herself implicated in the murder of a record-store employee (Mekhi Phifer), seriously jeopardizing her boss’s bid.

Slow Burn

As evidence about the incident comes to light, other suspects surface, including the mysterious Luther Pinks (LL Cool J, born James Todd Smith), along with a determined reporter (Chiwetel Ejiofor), creating a complex web of deceit. Filmed in 2003 but not officially released until 2007, SLOW BURN may have best been showcased as a TV movie, but its considerable star power (Liotta, Smith, etc.) helps to elevate it above similar small-screen fare.

Slow Burn

Beach is a veteran screenwriter (with THE ART OF WAR and MURDER AT 1600, both starring Wesley Snipes, on his resume), Beach clearly knows how to set up a suspenseful mystery, and his impressive cast (which includes always-outstanding character actors Ejiofor and Bruce McGill) gamely follows his twists and turns. Although the movie is heavily indebted to THE USUAL SUSPECTS it stands on its own as a decent, if convoluted, crime drama.

Unknown (2006)

My Rating: 2/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Too many twisted characters, plot goes very confusing till the end!”

Five men wake up in a chemical warehouse and realizing they don’t know who they are and how they got there. But, through time they deduct that some of them are hostages and some are kidnappers.

Unknown

The men now must figure out who is who as they’ve learned the lead kidnapper is on his way and plans to kill the hostages.


Scoop (2006)

My Rating: 3.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “A thrilling, comedy venture with the directorial master himself acting in it!”

Scoop is the new contemporary comedy from writer/director Woody Allen, and is his second consecutive film to be set and shot in London (following Match Point). Scoop stars Mr. Allen, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and Ian McShane. The late U.K. journalist Joe Strombel (played by Mr. McShane) is being mourned by his colleagues – even as, stuck in limbo, Joe remains committed to pursuing a hot tip on the identity of “the Tarot Card Killer” at large in London.

Scoop

But how can his legwork get done now? Via the very much alive Sondra Pransky (Ms. Johansson). Sondra is an American journalism student visiting friends in London. During a stage performance by another American, magician Sid Waterman (Mr. Allen), Sondra is shocked to find herself able to see and hear Joe. From beyond, he gives her the scoop of a lifetime and urges her to pursue it.

Scoop

Sondra immediately starts chasing the big story, enlisting the aid of a reluctant Sid (a.k.a. Splendini). That chase leads right to handsome British aristocrat Peter Lyman (Mr. Jackman). Soon, Sondra finds that the romance of her life may well be the dangerous scoop she’s looking for.

Shadowboxer (2006)

My Rating: 3/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “An average romantic thriller, don’t expect a lot out of it because of Helen!”

Hardboiled and at times incongruous, Lee Daniels’s (PRECIOUS) directorial debut sets out to smash stereotypes with a noirish crime thriller about loyalty, loss, love, and guilt. Cuba Gooding Jr. (MEN OF HONOR) and Helen Mirren (CALENDAR GIRLS) star as Mikey and Rose, a pair of contract killers. Once stepmother and son, they are now lovers as well as partners, and have decided to do one last job together before Rose leaves the business due to her terminal cancer.

Shadowboxer

Brutal criminal Clayton (Stephen Dorff) has hired them to take care of members of his inner circle–including his pregnant wife, Vickie (Vanessa Ferlito, SPIDER MAN 2)–but when the pair goes to carry out the job, Vickie goes into labor and Rose suffers a crisis of conscience. Rose helps Vickie through the birth and adopts both mother and son, going into hiding and telling Clayton the job was done. The four briefly form a strange kind of family before illness, tragedy, and the past inevitably disturb their tenuous peace.

Shadowboxer

The chemistry between Mirren and Gooding is intense and unforced, forming just one aspect of this great cast that also includes Joseph Gordon Levitt (BRICK) as a doctor who ministers to the criminal element, and Mo’nique as his demanding girlfriend. The film’s gorgeous cinematography offsets the high violence quotient, which begins with an early scene involving a pool cue that audiences aren’t likely to forget. SHADOWBOXER is a film that interests by virtue of its unusual casting, fast-paced story, and well-shot look.

Shutter Island (2010)

My Rating: 4.5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “A psychological thriller with a killer story and a fantastic climax!”

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio team up for a fourth time for this adaptation of SHUTTER ISLAND, a novel by Dennis LeHane (MYSTIC RIVER). The film opens in 1954 as World War II veteran and current federal marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner, Chuck (Mark Ruffalo), ferry to Shutter Island, a water-bound mental hospital housing the criminally insane. They have been asked to investigate the disappearance of Rachel Solando (Emily Mortimer), a patient admitted to the asylum after she murdered her three children.

Shutter Island

As Teddy quizzes Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), the head of the institution, he begins to suspect that the authorities in charge might not be giving him the whole truth, and that a terrible fate may befall all the patients in spooky Ward C — a unit devoted to the most heinous of the hospital’s inmates. Complicating matters further, Teddy has a secret of his own — the arsonist who murdered his wife is incarcerated on Shutter Island. Driven to confront his wife’s killer, and stranded on the island because of a hurricane, Teddy must unravel the secrets of the eerie place before succumbing to his own madness. Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer, Michelle Williams, Patricia Clarkson, and Jackie Earle Haley round out the supporting cast.

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

My Rating: 3/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “A total sucky story, but totally laughable jokes and dialogues. Loved it!”

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE follows a group of best friends who’ve become bored with their adult lives: Adam (John Cusack) has been dumped by his girlfriend; Lou (Rob Corddry) is a party guy who can’t find the party; Nick’s (Craig Robinson) wife controls his every move; and video game-obsessed Jacob (Clark Duke) won’t leave his basement.

Hot Tub Time Machine

After a crazy night of drinking in a ski resort hot tub, the men wake up, heads pounding, in the year 1986. This is their chance to kick some past and change their futures – one will find a new love life, one will learn to stand up for himself with the ladies, one will find his mojo, and one will make sure he still exists!

RV (2006)

My Rating: 2/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Robin Williams movies are funny, but as years go by they are getting dumb!”

A family film for the Instant Messenger age, RV takes a humorous look at a mostly functional suburban family’s attempt to get away from it all on a rare vacation. The always hilarious Robin Williams plays Bob Munro, a beaten-down middle manager who feels alienated from the family he works so hard to keep comfortable. Upon his insistence, the Munro family rents an RV and embarks on a search for quality time in the land of Manifest Destiny. With his frustrated wife Jamie (the always stellar Cheryl Hines of TV’s CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM), rapper-wannabe son Carl (Josh Hutcherson), and angsty daughter Cassie (Joanna Levesque, best known as a tween pop singer), la famiglia Munro is Westward Ho.

RV

However, white-collar Bob’s lack of adeptness at handling the monstrous vehicle causes plenty of amusing chaos. Thank God for the kindness of strangers–in this case, a couple of endearing oddballs played by Jeff Daniels (who proved his comedic chops in the DUMB AND DUMBER films) and Kristin Chenoweth. As Travis and Mary Jo, two obsessive RV-ers with a penchant for barbecues, beer, and yodeling, they serve as the Middle-American heart and soul of the film, much smarter and savvier than cultural stereotypes write them off as being. Seasoned comedy director Barry Sonnenfield (MEN IN BLACK, WILD, WILD WEST) proves that he has mastered the intelligent comedy, and Williams, particularly in moments that are improvised, proves his brilliance once again. But it is the uniformly excellent supporting cast, in particular a knee-slapping turn by Will Arnett (Gob on TV’s ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT), that makes RV so memorable.


The Bounty Hunter (2010)

My Rating: 2/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “Gerrard and Aniston make a great pair, but the movie sucks to the core!”

Hapless bounty hunter Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler) jumps for joy at the prospect of tracking down his bail-skipping ex-wife Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston), but gets a hard dose of reality when the job proves tougher than anticipated. Every time Milo gets close to resourceful reporter Nicole, she gives him the slip.

The Bounty Hunter

A high-profile murder has been committed, and Nicole is determined to stay out of jail long enough to crack the case. And she must be getting close, because now someone is trying to take them both out. They may not have been able to make marriage work, but if Milo and Nicole can just stay alive long enough to solve the murder, they might discover they’re not such a bad team after all.

The Proposition (2006)

My Rating: 5/5 STARS
MovieStudio Quote >> “A fierce, talented and sensational film-making. A mesmerizing western story!”

Australian director John Hillcoat first teamed up with singer Nick Cave on 1988’s disturbing GHOSTS…OF THE CIVIL DEAD, for which Cave co-authored the screenplay and took a memorably brief acting role. The two reconvene for 2006’s THE PROPOSITION, with Cave penning the screenplay and providing a soundtrack written with Dirty Three member Warren Ellis. Cave’s 19th-century tale begins with the proposition of the title, as Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) captures fugitive brothers Charley (Guy Pearce) and Mikey Burns (Richard Wilson) at a scene of bloody rape and murder.

The Proposition

Informing Charley that he must kill his older brother, Arthur (Danny Huston), in order to be set free, Stanley drags Mikey to a decrepit jailhouse while he waits for Charley to carry out the deed. Hillcoat’s Western reeks of the dry desert heat, with flies buzzing, temperatures soaring, and emotions spiraling out of control. As Charley reluctantly sets about his task, Hillcoat and cinematographer Benoît Delhomme create a mesmerizing vision of the Australian outback. The slow, meandering pace of the film is peppered with brutal jolts of unremitting violence, and there are fine performances from the entire cast, who are supported in small but significant roles from Emily Watson (BREAKING THE WAVES) and John Hurt (THE ELEPHANT MAN).

The Proposition

Cave’s screenplay is tight and focused, leaving little room for sentiment–or anyone for the audience to root for–by giving all his principal characters plenty of grimly undesirable personality traits. But it works perfectly, and in Winstone and Pearce, Hillcoat got his casting exactly right. Both actors give dizzying performances as two men unable to escape their personal demons, finding a tragic outlet only in ceaseless acts of aggression. A memorable feature that lingers long after the last frame of celluloid has flickered onto the screen, THE PROPOSITION establishes Hillcoat as a director of major gravitas.