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Showing posts from July 20, 2014

Review: Paycheck

Ben Affleck plays a top engineer who carries out top-secret assignments for his rich businessman employer (Aaron Eckhart) and allows his memory to be wiped after each mission so that he can’t recall the details of it. Usually it’s only a short mission and thus only a few months’ worth of memories are lost, but Affleck’s latest assignment has him losing three years in exchange for big bucks at the end. Unfortunately, something has gone very, very awry. He now has no money in the bank ($92 million bucks, all gone!), in its place are several trivial and seemingly useless items in a safety deposit box. Oh yeah, and people (chiefly assassin/henchman Colm Feore) are trying to kill him, the FBI (Joe Morton and Michael C. Hall) are out to arrest him. Aside from best friend Paul Giamatti, the only person seemingly on his side is biologist Uma Thurman, whom Affleck was known to in the missing few years, and thus now has no idea who the hell she is.

This 2003 film didn’t set the world on fire on…

Review: Lady in the Water

Paul Giamatti is the stupidly named Cleveland Heep, a building manager who goes to investigate a possible intruder on the premises, before falling into the pool. When he comes to, he finds before him a naked young woman (a not very naked Bryce Dallas Howard) who is in fact a Narf, which is apparently not the same noise Pinky from “Pinky and the Brain” used to make, but a mythical creature from a story magically come to life. In order for her to be sent back to her world, Cleveland must help her find the writer of the story, believed to be one of Cleveland’s tenants. Other tenants are believed to play roles in the story to, it’s just a matter of finding out who plays what. Making matters difficult are another set of creatures, vicious little bastards skulking about in the grass. Bob Balaban plays an uppity film critic, whilst other tenants are played by Sarita Choudhury, Jeffrey Wright, Jared Harris, Cindy Cheung, and M. Night Shyamalan.

The story goes that writer-director M. Night Shy…

Review: Philomena

Cynical political spin doctor and ex-BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) is looking for his latest project when he is presented with the story of Philomena (Dame Judi Dench), an elderly Irish woman who back in the 1950s found herself an unmarried, and na├»ve, and pregnant teenager, sent to a convent for ‘wayward girls’. Her child was taken away from her when he was a toddler and sold overseas for adoption. The still devoutly Catholic Philomena has never quite recovered, and although he’s not a human interest story kinda guy (not to mention an atheist), Sixsmith feels he’s got something here and agrees to help in the search, hoping to be able to tell the story.

I wish I could praise this 2013 Stephen Frears (“The Grifters”, “The Queen”) drama, which features excellent performances by Dame Judi Dench and a well-cast Steve Coogan, who co-wrote the screenplay with Jeff Pope (from the book by the real Martin Sixsmith). Unfortunately, this film’s real-life origins aren’t enough to …

Review: Fantasia

Featuring not so much plot as animated imagery meant to represent one’s imagination whilst listening to various pieces of classical music. For over two hours.

Scripted by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer (the writers of “Dumbo”) and directed by a whopping ten people, this 1940 Disney film is a favourite of many. To me as a 9 year-old it was a crushing bore, and seeing it once again at age 34 I’m happy to report that I was one astute little 9 year-old. I hated this movie then and I still hate it now, as I continue my current viewing of Disney animated films (I seem to be on a diet of mostly Disney and Woody Allen at the moment. Make of that what you will). There’s more identifiable and entertaining storytelling from the narration/set-up by Arthur Miller lookalike Deems Taylor than in the entire film of animation/music segments. He tells the stories, so why do we need to see it repeated far less enjoyably and far more pretentiously? And we get a 15 minute intermission? From what? This isn’t ev…

Review: The Sword in the Stone

Set in ye olde England where King Uther has died. There’s a sword, it’s in a stone, and only the rightful owner can pluck it and take the throne. Our main character is wannabe squire Arthur, AKA ‘Wart’ who comes into contact with a seemingly prescient wizard named Merlin, who attempts to educate the boy for a higher purpose Arthur does not yet know of. In their way stands sorceress Madame Mim (voiced by Martha Wentworth), who may or may not play the cranky bus driver on “South Park” in another life.

Released in 1963, this Disney animated film was the studio’s animated version of the legend of King Arthur. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman (“Sleeping Beauty”, “The Jungle Book”, the underrated “Robin Hood”) and scripted by Bill Peet (“Fantasia”, “Cinderella”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Peter Pan”), it’s a pretty boring film, despite it being one of the lighter interpretations of the legend, which is more my thing than say the much darker and murkier “Excalibur”. Unfortunately, it’s also bare…

Review: The Internship

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play a couple of salesmen whose failure to adapt to the digital age sees them out of work in their mid-40s, no less. Somehow they get it into their heads to apply for an internship at Google, despite not having much of a clue about computers or the internet. After miraculously bluffing their way through a Skype interview, they venture to Google HQ where things are decided via team-based challenges somewhere in between “Harry Potter” and “Revenge of the Nerds”. The winning team get the jobs. Being that they are two old farts who are way beyond out of touch (they don’t even understand “X-Men” references, rather improbably), Vaughn and Wilson get stuck in the leftovers/misfits team, and frequently mocked by snooty rival Max Minghella, as well as the head of the internship program (Aasif Mandvi). Meanwhile, Wilson tries to strike up a relationship with pretty but workaholic Google employee Rose Byrne (who, like Brit Minghella is allowed to keep her natural Aus…

Review: 42

The story of pioneering African-American baseballer Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), the first-ever black player in MLB. Hired by Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) he must exercise great self-control in addition to his playing ability, ignoring a shitstorm of racial taunts from idiot fans, writers, opponents, even some of his own teammates. And there’s even the occasional death threat thrown in. Rickey for his part, must ease the concerns of his associates (including a worried and sceptical T.R. Knight) that Robinson is what’s best for The Dodgers, and baseball. i.e. Win the pennant, put arses in seats. Nicole Beharie plays Robinson’s more strident wife, Alan Tudyk is a hateful cracker opposing team manager, John C. McGinley plays colourful sports commentator Red Barber, a grown-up Lucas Black is one of Robinson’s few supportive teammates (his Pee Wee Reese could very well warrant his own movie if you ask me), Ryan Merriman is anything but supportive as another so-c…