More Reviews Than You Can Shake a Stick At

I’ve got 5 films to review, so it’ll be 5 mini-reviews. Kinda like when “Rescue Me” did those “mini-sodes” after the 5th season got postponed due to the damn writer’s strike. Only there was no strike. I just fell behind.

Gran Torino

4.5 stars

It’s interesting… I knew at somepoint I would have to accept that I would eventually be reviewing Clint Eastwood’s last film as an actor. I just figured he’d be dead. But no, he’s retired. And his swan song, Gran Torino is caps off an overall wonderful, if at times curious and disappointing, career.

Eastwood is pitch perfect as an aging Korean War vet with an archaic (re: racist) view of the world. He’s stuck in his ways, but is forced to confront his evolving neighbourhood after he helps the kid next door out of a scuffle with a street gang. He even grows to respect and even grows fond of the next door neighbours, treating them as family. Actually, better than he treats his own family.

As director, Eastwood utilizes a great cast of Korean non-actors to further separate his character from theirs. And for never having done any professional screen work, the performances turned in by young actors Bee Vang as the wayward youth Thao, and Ahney Her as his older sister are remarkably impressive, and do well in holding their own against 50+ year veteran Eastwood.

I’d say this is one to watch come Awards season, but since I’m writing this on Oscar Nomination Day (it’s a Holiday for me), that’s a little anachronistic (it wasn’t nominated for anything). But this is definitely one worth viewing. It has the added bonus of Eastwood holding a shotgun and delivering the greatest version of every crazy old coot’s favourite phrase: “Get off my lawn!”


Bride Wars

.5 Stars

Oh, Anne Hathaway… I expect more out of you. Not so much out of Kate Hudson, this film is about on par with what I expect from her. But Anne, Anne, Anne…. You’re more talented than this. So is Kate, now that I think of it, but she hasn’t made a good career choice since Almost Famous, and that was 10 years ago.

A scheduling mix-up forces two best friends to duke it out over who gets to keep their dream wedding. With alledgedly hilarious results.

But the actual results are predictable, unfunny, forgetable and ultimately insulting.

I’ve seen some unfunny comedies in my day, but this one has to take the cake (no pun intended). Sure, maybe I cracked a smile every now and then, but was I laughing at the content, or the fact that the content exists? 99.9% of the time, the latter.

Every character except the two leads was expendable, and the writers seemed to make it that way. The only way I was able to tell which fiancee was which, was by which female lead happened to be on screen, and unfortunately that didn’t help in several scenes.

But it truley dives into the insulting pool by it’s portrayal of women. They’re sycophantic, shallow, and I wonder if they’re actually functionally retarded. There are no socially redeeming, or remotely admirable qualities in these two women. It pains me to say that Sex and the City was a more accurate representation of women, and they’re materialistic, sex crazed bimbos. If those two were really friends, and I’ve seen this in real life, one would have made a sacrifice. These are who little girls are looking up to. Seriously, Judd Apatow, Kevin Smith, Joss Wedon and Quentin Tarantino need to write more scripts, they’re the only ones writing great roles for females, it seems like. I’m saying that and Apatow’s been accused of sexism. So…. eat it Hudson.

Hudson says she wants jucier roles, so lets hope she makes better choices. Because she can be a great actress, she just needs to pick better roles. And Hathaway…. stay far away from material like this. If you hadn’t long ago proved yourself as a competant actress, I’d say this role is enough to get your recent Oscar Nomination revoked (she got it for Rachel Getting Married, a thankfully unrelated movie, review coming next week).

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

2.5 stars

Safe? Yes. Original? No. Enjoyable? Yes

Paul Blart (Kevin James) is a mall security guard. Paul Blart is a mall security guard because he can’t seem to pass the New Jersey State Troopers exam. His heroics are put to a Die Hard-ian test when his mall is overrun with criminals out for credit card info on Black Friday.

James treads the safe waters of goof-ball, broad-comedy, quasi-parody with Paul Blart. It’s clearly a poor man’s Die Hard, but Airheads did it better 15 years ago when the reference was relevent.

But it gets in some good jokes, and the some of the best parts may be in the trailer, but there’s some good filler. Wait for the DVD on this one, though.

It’s safe, it’s harmless, good for the whole family. But seriously, what’s the deal with Jayma Mays’ eyes, they take up like half her face?

Last Chance Harvey

3.5 Stars

You know… Joel put it best: “Romantic comedies tend to never really be romantic. Or comedic.” I agree with that sentiment (that and they aren’t geared towards the demographic I am a part of), so I stay away from the usual effor that is put forth in the genre. But this one piqued my interest, due to the leads. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. Both of whom I am a fan. And both are interesting choices as romantic leads. In 2009. Hoffman, yeah, sure, about 40 years ago. Thompson, about 25 ago.

And it works. I count the two amongst my favourites in their respective genders, and they are on top of their game. The film isn’t nearly their best work, but it’s good. It doesn’t have to break the wall down to be good.

Hoffman’s titular Harvey, a New York jingle composer, travels to London for his daughter’s wedding, only to find out his daughter wants her step father (James Brolin) to walk her down the aisle. Hoffman makes a hasty departure for the airport to get back for a big meeting with a client, only to be informed en route that he’s been fired. He connects with Thompson’s Kate in an airport bar, and the two commiserate over drinks, and they begin an unorthodox romance.

And with his spirits renewed, Harvey returns to his daughter’s reception with Kate. And with nothing to go home to, decides to stay in London for a while.

It speaks to the dis-heartened souls, who are frustrated with life. That something will come along to bring them out of a rut. It’s not holding a rosey coloured lens to the world, and giving the Disney ending of a story, but it is providing a good, happy ending, with out the overly sweet sentimentality.

Think of it as Diet Disney.

My Bloody Valentine 3D

3 Stars

I entered this movie the same way I entered watching Zombie Strippers– very low expectations. It’s a cheesy slasher flick, a modern one at that. Think of the last time a really good horror movie was released. Saw. The first one. After that… I got nothing. And slasher flicks? That sub-genre hasn’t been good since Scream effectively satirized it to death 13 years ago (I’ll do a post soon about my feelings on Scream soon, but I do love it).

But you know what? If you enter it with your expectations set at “Good way to kill an hour and a half” and nothing more, then you will have an enjoyable time.

One year after a crazed miner went on a killing spree following the collapse of the mine, he awakens from his coma to go on another killing spree, and is killed in another mine collapse, in the same mine. Then 10 years later, when the son of the mine owner (and cause of the original collapse) returns to town, the killings by a masked miner start again. Suspicians abound as to who could be causing it. But think about it, the ending isn’t as shocking as perhaps they want it to be.

It’s a good slasher flick. A nice throw back to the slasher hey day of the of 1980’s. Unfortunately is missing the thinly veiled social commentary that Elm Street, Halloween and Friday The 13th had. Lots of gratuitous violence, gore and nudity, all in one neatly wrapped 3D package. You don’t get that much these days.

The performances… well they sucked. Little to no actual character there. Just brooding angst, nuttiness, faux heroics and the obligatory stupid whore. I went with Joel and his fiancee Fawn (who watched the film through her fingers), but Joel commented about halfway through that WB/CW mainstay Jensen Ackles clearly graduated from the Keanu Reeves School of Acting.

What made this movie was the kitschy nostalgia of 3D horror. And that’s really all the film has going for it. I give it higher marks for not having too many scenes that are obviously only in existence to flex the 3D muscle.

So if you like horror movies… go for the 3D, stay for the… 3D. I can’t wait for the sequel that they will most likely make.

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