Saturday, March 31, 2012

Janie Jones: Movie Review


A subtle father-daughter story told with quiet undertones.

Janie Jones (Abigail Breslin), a 13 year-old girl is with her mother and they are off to meet her father. Except her mother (Elisabeth Shue) is a whore-like drug- addicted loser who’s abandoning her daughter. And her father (Alessandro Nivola) is a fading rock-and-roll star who has no idea he has a daughter, let alone any intention of being a father to one. “Janie Jones” the film and each of the characters pick all the right notes.2010 (with 2012 DVD release)

Directed by: David M. Rosenthal

Screenplay by: David M. Rosenthal

Starring: Abigail Breslin and Alessandro Nivola

Friday, March 30, 2012

Retreat: Movie Review


A tight, gripping indie thriller devolving into blood-soaked conspiracies.

Retreat started out as a tight, minimalistic indie thriller, maintained the well written characters, and then added in some intriguing mind games played out beneath the surface. And then it devolved into a blood-fest of science fiction diseases and government conspiracies. I was riveted for the first hour and twenty minutes and then sat agape in frustration for the last ten minutes.2011

Directed by: Carl Tibbetts

Screenplay by: Janice Hallett and Carl Tibbetts

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Conception: Movie Review


Lacking in originality and meaning; swarming with characters.

“Conception” starts in the classroom with the best part. One little boy raises his hand and asks where babies come from. Our young teacher squirms and then tells him to ask his parents. Instantly a second little boy has his hand so far in the air, he can’t sit down. So teacher calls on him, and he informs first little boy that he knows where babies come from, so he will tell him. Our young hero goes from fear to defeat and then proceeds into the explanation. 2011

Directed by: Josh Stolberg

Screenplay by: Josh Stolberg

Starring: Connie Britton, Alan Tudyk and Julie Bowen

Friday, March 23, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin: Movie Review


We could talk about Kevin but nobody knows what to say.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” is about a young boy who is exhibiting serious behavioral problems and then as a teenager is most likely responsible for some pretty heinous actions. It’s also about his mother. The recent excellent film “Beautiful Boy” follows similar relationships but takes the stance that it isn’t always the fault of the parents. This film seems to say to forget about that morality tale, it is the mother’s fault.2011

Directed by: Lynne Ramsay

Screenplay by: Lynne Ramsay and Rory Kinnear

Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller

Friday, March 16, 2012

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen: Movie Review


Brings humour and faith to science, politics and romantic comedies.
A rich sheik has decided that he would like to bring the faith and sport of fly-fishing to Yemen. British fisheries expert, Dr. Alfred Jones (Ewan McGregor), thinks it’s a joke. But the PM likes the idea of positive Anglo-Yemeni cooperation and the 2 million potential voters who fish. Dr. Jones still thinks it’s a joke. The sheik transfers $50 Million over to his consultant’s firm, and thus the project begins.

Directed by: Lasse Hallstrom

Screenplay by: Simon Beaufoy
Based on the novel by Paul Torday

Starring: Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Woman in Black: Movie Review


Simple, quiet and creepy harshness to a classic horror.

I went into “The Woman in Black” thinking it was going to be a dramatic thriller along the lines of “Martha Marcy May Marlene” or “Take Shelter”. But it turns out to be a classic horror. Better than a Hollywood horror movie, at least it’s a British indie. Set in the late 1800s in a haunted house, the film thrives on the austere harshness of the small town, the house and its inhabitants.2012

Directed by: James Watkins

Screenplay by: Jane Goldman
Based on the novel by Susan Hill

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friends with Kids: Movie Review


Authenticity and maturity to a dramatic romantic comedy.

“Friends with Kids” is the long-awaited third feature written by, directed by, produced by and starring Jennifer Westfeldt. 10 years ago she came out with the charming, witty and somewhat original romantic comedy “Kissing Jessica Stein” and then 5 years later followed that up with the charming, witty and somewhat original romantic comedy “Ira & Abby”. I loved all three.

Directed by: Jennifer Westfeldt

Screenplay by: Jennifer Westfeldt

Starring: Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt and Maya Rudolph

Friday, March 9, 2012

What's Your Number: Movie Review


A romantic comedy that goes to idiotic extremes.

At the beginning of “What’s Your Number”, Ally (Anna Faris) is fired, so she immediately starts fretting about the number of guys she has slept with. Apparently, those two actions go hand-in-hand. Never mind finding a new job, she needs to get married. In the first 10 minutes, she goes from losing her job, to thinking she’s a slut, to a celibacy vow to get her a husband.2011

Directed by: Mark Mylod

Screenplay by: Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden

Starring: Anna Faris, Chris Evans

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sympathy for Delicious: Movie Review


The Devil's music brought to you by the helping hand of God.

“Sympathy for Delicious” invites us to feel sympathy for the lead character nicknamed Delicious D. He’s a former DJ now paralyzed and in a wheelchair living day to day off the support of a local church-run homeless shelter. However, it’s implied that he’s in his current penny-less situation because of his disability. But as far as I know, there aren’t many high paying jobs for DJs regardless of ability to stand.2010 (2012 DVD release)

Directed by: Mark Ruffalo

Screenplay by: Christopher Thornton

Starring: Christopher Thornton and Mark Ruffalo

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Straw Dogs: Movie Review


Straw characters living in a dull world which then turns violent.

“Straw Dogs” is a faithful adaptation of the original 1971 version. But only if your definition of “faithful” means scene-by-scene, word-for-word duplication, not if your definition means including the same thoughtful ideas that can stay with you after the movie ends. It’s also a thriller. But, again, only if “thriller” means nothing happens until we get a lot of gruesome violence at the end. Which apparently it does for most people.2011

Directed by: Rod Lurie

Screenplay by: Rod Lurie

Starring: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander SkarsgÄrd

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fireflies in the Garden: Movie Review


The very picture of an irreversibly dysfunctional family.

“Fireflies in the Garden” is one of those rare movies where a stellar cast and script based on a Robert Frost poem (!) could not get itself a release. Four years later, it got a straight-to-DVD release. And for good reason, it’s really bad. It’s a dysfunctional family drama where the characters are messed up from beginning to middle to end. There is no relief, comedy or otherwise, from the dysfunction. 2008 (2012 DVD Release)

Directed by: Dennis Lee

Screenplay by: Dennis Lee

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Julia Roberts

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Rebound: Movie Review


Great actors and good characters gamely traversing a tedious romantic comedy.

“The Rebound” starts with a lame, double-meaning title, ventures into the cringe-worthy territory of romantic comedy, and then somehow finds two characters that are not overdone. Catherine Zeta-Jones is Sandy, fresh off a divorce, starting a new job as a sports writer, and trying to meet a man. (Have you figured out the cleverness of the title?) While, Justin Bartha is Aram, a twenty-something trying to find himself under the annoyance of his wealthy, conservative parents. 2010 (2012 DVD Release)

Directed by: Bart Freundlich

Screenplay by: Bart Freundlich

Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones and Justin Bartha