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Posts posted by njskaguy33

  1. Great find, Pepperkorn!

    If you like old time monster movies, cinemassacre.com is doing their yearly Monster Madness this month. Everyday, he talks about a different monster movie, but this year the theme is sequels. He just finished going through the Universal Frankenstein movies and is now working on the Hammer Dracula films. The guy is most known for being the Angry Video Game Nerd, but he's quite the horror guru. Some really good stuff on there!

  2. Get this, I have my thin ps2 on ebay along with 8 games (all games that I tried to bring to the local play and trade and they said they didnt want them for various reasons). The store wanted to give me 18 dollars for the console but the controller is missing the rubber piece on the right analog so they said no thanks. Put all of this in the description on ebay. Started it at 20 dollars. Its got 2 hours left and 2 people are having a bidding war on it. Its currently at $38 dollars.

    Why would you want a ps2 let alone pay almost 40 dollars for it?

    I also have NHL10 on there and its at 5 dollars. :rolleyes:

    Well, because a slim PS2 with 8 games is a great deal for $40. The PS3's aren't backwards compatible and if you want to play your library of PS2 games, that's your only option. Also, Gamestop sells refurbished PS2's for $60, so $40 for a slim with 8 games is a great deal. As for why people still want to play PS2, the system has an amazing library of games. Last year I picked up a PS2 just so I could play though some of the classics I missed when I was out of gaming...Silent Hill, Devil May Cry, Shadow, etc, etc. So, long story short, you're offering a great deal!

  3. http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/09/22/wepner.boxing/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

    They're making Rocky again, except this time it'll be based on the real guy from Jersey, not some unintelligible fictional Philadelphian.

    Reaaallly interesting topic for a movie! Read the whole article and it will be interestign to see which way they take the story. Will they focus on the man who's lived in Rocky's shadow or will they simply tell the "inspiration" story. Should be pretty fascinating, regardless. Good find, DiG!

  4. Opening This Week – Nationwide

    The Ides Of March – Directed and starring Geroge Clooney as a presidential hopeful, this film is all about the acting and less about the story. Need proof? Take a looksee at the cast. Ryan Gosling plays an up and coming press secretary, Clooney the presidential hopeful Gosling backs, Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as opposing campaign managers…yeah, the cast is star studded. That said, the story is less so, surrounding the world of lies, deceit and ambition inherent in modern day politics. Critics have been mostly positive about this flick, saying that you come for the acting, despite the end result being telegraphed in the trailers. For me, I’ll always side on good acting so with that, and Gosling being one of my favorite actors working right now, I’ll give this a very cautious See It!

    Real Steel (Also showing in IMAX) – Hugh Jackman playing Rock ‘N Sock ‘Em Robots? According to critics, sure, why not! Basically a tin can version of Rocky, Jackman plays a down and out boxing promoter who, after flesh and blood boxers were replaced with eight foot tall metal ones, spends his days piecing together fighting robots to compete in rinky dink matches around the country. Naturally one of these creations does pretty well and rises in the ranks to complete in some sort of title fight or something. According to critics, the movie actually makes an effort to create a connection between creations and creator and despite the Rocky-esqe tones of the feature, actually succeeds in it’s aim to be a well made Hollywood action movie. Basically, this is what Transformers wanted to be, so if fighting robots are your thing (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love that idea), give this a shot.

    Intruders – So, RT says this is releasing wide this weekend yet Fandango doesn’t have a single listing. Hmmm, who do I believe? Regardless, this film about parallel families dealing with demons real and imagined stars Clive Owen, so I guess that counts for something! Critical response has been surprisingly limited but the few who’ve seen it say it’s beautifully made and well acted but has a very thin plot supporting the whole affair. In fact, due to mystery surrounding this feature, I’m starting to think the movie itself is an apparition. Check it out if you can find it…and if it even exists.

    Opening This Week – Limited Release

    Blackthorn – Starring Sam Shepard as Butch Cassidy, this movie takes an alternate look at the life of the famed Western outlaw. Instead of perishing at the hands of the Bolivian army, this film has Cassidy escaping and living out his days under the name of James Blackthorn. However, with his natural life coming to an end, Butch decides to head back to the US to see his famiy and in the process, finds himself in an unexpected adventure. Critics have universally praised the work of Shepard in the lead role and say that alone is worth a watch, despite the film playing long and slow. Me, I don’t mind a patient western, so I’m saying give it a watch this weekend. Playing at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Landmark Sunshine

    The Way – Written, directed and sometimes featuring Emilio Estevez, this movie tracks a mourning father (Martin Sheen) following in his recently deceased son’s footsteps on a very trail that killed him. Critics have been mostly positive about this labor of love, saying it has just enough heart to elevate it above its Lifetime story sensibilities. Good work by Martin Sheen doesn’t hurt either in a film that’s full of dramatic clichés but thanks to its inherent sweetness, proves to be more than the sum of its parts. Playing at AMC Lowes Kips Bay 15 and AMC Empire 25

    Dirty Girl – Juno Temple stars as Danielle, a rebellious girl high school girl who, with the help of an ostracized gay friend, strike out to California to meet the father she never knew. Crass to a fault, this movie focuses too much on the “dirty girl” aspects and not the girl herself, creating an experience that is entirely too thin to enjoy. Playing at Regal Union Square, AMC Lowes Lincoln Square 13 and Clearview Chelsea

    1911 – Focusing on the 1911 Chinese Revolution and the people involved, this film centers on the ruling class that’s held sway for 250 years and the young revolutionaries hungry for change. Reportedly, the film is historically accurate to a fault, playing like a PBS documentary, not a piece of cinema that requires us to care about the people involved. Unless you’re a true buff of the time period, I’d give this a skip. Showing at Regal E-Walk Stadium 13

    The Women on the 6th Floor – French farce about a stodgy old stockbroker who, after hiring a sassy Spanish maid, finds his life turned upside down after befriending the maid and six of her fun loving friends. Generally, I like the way the French treat whimsical fun but critics have been divided, with its supporters finding plenty of lighthearted laughs and its detractors not. Haven’t seen it myself, so I’ll have to give it a See it For Yourself, despite my thinking that I’d probably enjoy it more than most. Showing at City Cinemas Paris Theatre

    Opening This Week – Indie, Art House and Small Screenings

    Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) – Alrighty then. The first Human Centipede became a cult classic, much to chagrin of most of the film going community. Problem was, it didn’t even satisfy the torture porn crowd of basement dwellers it was made for. Trust me, I’ve seen about half the movie through various internet shows and it’s not even that disturbing. Even the eventual “centipede” is almost hilarious in its execution. So what did writer / director Tom Six do for the sequel? Dial up the disgusting meter to the point where they distributed Human Centipede themed barf bags to the premiere and, oh yeah, they were used. Critics again are lambasting this film, although this time not for pulling punches, but for going entirely too far. Gore is only valid when it’s done for a reason and this movieis designed only to revolt, not entertain its audience. Just avoid it. Screening at the IFC Center

    Toast – Helena Bonham Carter plays Mrs. Potter, a newly hired housekeeper who, after the death of the culinary confused mother and wife of the two fellas left behind, finds herself completing for the attention of the two men. Using the idea of cooking prowess as a fairly strong metaphor, critics have been mostly charmed by the dark comedy inherent in the plot synopsis. Featuring a good performance by Carter and a sexually charged tale of food stuffs and moving on, Toast seems to have just enough behind it to warrant a viewing. Playing at the Indie Screen (Brooklyn)

    My 3 To See

    50/50 – Still the best reviewed movie out in wide release that’s not named Drive (a movie I’m going to see tonight), 50/50 nicely balances humor and heart in a very enjoyable package

    Take Shelter – Still the best reviewed movie out in limited release, Take Shelter features a brilliant Michael Shannon in a story about obsession, premonitions and doing whatever it takes to protect one’s family, regardless of the threat.

    Ides Of March / Real Steel – Sure, I was going to pick one or the other, but it’s really a toss up. See Real Steel if you want to see robots fighting or see March if you want to see good actors in a blandly plotted film. Actors versus robots…now that’s a match worth seeing!

    Confused by the colors? Here’s the guide!

    Green means that reviews are great, the trailer looks great, so this is definitely worth seeing!

    Orange means reviews have been mixed but there’s enough here for me to say, “See It For Yourself”.

    Red means this film should be avoided at all costs! Run, Devil fans, run!!

  5. Review My Collection #11

    American Beauty

    When my brother and I get together, we talk flicks. Him being an aspiring film director, me an aspiring film critic, our conversations are interesting, detailed and rooted in shared experience. To be frank, we know our stuff. Last week, my brother and I met up to see Contagion and during out pre-movie dinner, our conversation turned to movies, specifically film number 11 in my Review My Collection series, American Beauty. During our conversation, I mentioned that some critics have soured on the movie over the years, saying the film is all snarky dialogue and unrealistic situations. For a little while there, I felt a little strange about loving this film as much as I do. Maybe my fond recollections of that bag floating in the wind were based on teenage ennui, not true filmmaking brilliance. Thanks to my discussion with my brother and my rewatching of the film for this review, my fears were unfounded. American Beauty is an excellent piece of modern cinema, one that provides the right mix of suburban malaise, sexual surrealism and shocking comedy that is, for lack of a better word, simply beautiful.

    Opening with the soothing voiceover of our main protagonist, we met Lester (Kevin Spacey), a fourty-something magazine writer who is shambling through the ennui of American life. Walking through his days as if he's comatose, Lester is surrounded by his materialistic wife (Annette Benning) and his brooding daughter (Thora Birch). However when Lester meets Ricky (Wes Bentley), an introverted yet intense young neighbor with an eye for Jane, he is shaken out of his doldrums to discover there is still life to be lived, even when you feel you're on the downward slope. The feature film debut of British stage director Sam Mendes, American Beauty has a number of fascinating themes running through it. From the blandness of cookie cutter suburban life to recapturing old energy to discovering the wonder inherent in everyday things, Mendes allows the film to breathe in a way that's quite extraordinary. While a near brilliant script by Alan Ball helps things, Mendes gives the movie life through excellent pacing and fantastic acting direction.

    In fact, when discussing American Beauty, one would be remiss if they didn't mention the amazing work of the ensemble cast. Sure, we all remember Kevin Spacey's hilarious yet touching turn as Lester but the cast around him work equally well. Early in the production of the film, Mendes allowed for the cast to rehearse in costume on the actual sets, much like you would in a theater production, and the result is a natural chemistry between the players. Every nuance of the performances, from Mena Suvari's turn as Jane's self obsessed best friend to Chris Cooper as Ricky's ex-Marine father, all capture a little piece of the American puzzle. While some of the characters border on parody, Mendes' careful direction helps bring the oddities back to earth.

    And the lauding could go on and on. While some critics have seen this movie as a enjoyable but vapid piece of Oscar bait, those reviewers should watch it again and, at the advice of the film's trailer, "Look Closer". Filled with moments of gut busting hilarity and heart welling emotion, all wrapped in a package that seems disarmingly familiar, American Beauty is a new century classic. In fact, when talking about this movie with my brother, he revealed that this film, along with Fight Club, made him want to peruse filmmaking as a career. Up until this point, he had no idea a movie could transcend simple entertainment and make you feel something so strongly, so simply. I imagine many people have felt this way about American Beauty and for that reason alone, it's worth ignoring the naysayers. Watch this again for the nuance and if you haven't seen it before, now's the perfect time.

    **Check out my RT blog entitled "Review My Collection" for the rest of the series!!**

  6. To quote A River Runs Through It:

    I am pleased.

    Yes. I am pleased.

    Fine movie reference, PK. And yes, I'm quite pleased with the naming. The obvious and best choice for all involved. And yes, I only respond to things when they are movie related...I'm a touch obsessed. :-D

  7. Fantastic game, definitely agree with you.

    Soooo this is not a console-related game, but my roommate just introduced me to a game called 'Minecraft'..

    Has anyone else tried this game? It's like...Legos..you can build whatever you want. Like, anything. Blew my mind the first time I played it, I feel like I'll be wasting some serious time on that game until MW3 and/or Skyrim come out.

    For Twilight Princess, I was just about to get bored collecting tears at Lake Hylia when the game gets all sorts of creepy and downright fascinating. Man, I am really hooked now!

    As for Minecraft, I've never played it myself but I've seen plenty of videos of what you can do with it and it's pretty amazing. There's a great community in support of it as well, and you're right you just build anything you can dream od and roam around other peoples insane creations. Interesting stuff!

  8. Opening This Week – Nationwide

    50/50 – Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anna Kendrick this story of a young man’s diagnosis of cancer and how he deals with it has been getting mostly fine reviews from critics this weekend. Levitt plays cancer patient Adam who, with the help of his best friend Kyle (Rogan) learns to do deal wit his newfound affliction with humor and a sense of loving life. While critics have been mostly positive, the few criticisms surround the staging of the film, with some saying it comes off almost like a sitcom. Still, critics agree that a film with this much heart and life can supersede the weakness it’s filmmaking, making this an easy recommendation this weekend.

    Dream House – Daniel Craig running around a haunted house filled with creepy crawlies? Some may say why not but I’m saying head for the hills. Let’s just say you know a film is bad when the major plot twist is revealed in the trailers. Craig and company move in to a creepy New England home that they just realize was the site of a series of murders. Who committed them? Who cares in a movie so preposterous, the studio decided to not pre-screen it for the critical community. While there are a couple of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes right now, they all reflect my initial trepidation, painting the film, as one critic put it, as a “tepic, excitement free Hallmark telepic dressed up in an A-list thrillers clothing”. Skip!

    Courageous – Now I see why this too has no critical reviews just yet. It’s a Bible thumper! This films looks into the life of four brave officers who, after some unexpected tragedy, try to find God in the mire of their personal lives. Spiritual films of this stamp attract a certain type of filmgoer, but I couldn’t care less so long as the film is good. That said, there are no reviews out for this yet, so I’ll labeling it as See It For Yourself!

    What’s Your Number? – One more bad one before we look into the indie scene, this dreary rom com stars Anna Faris who, in an attempt to do something, starts calling up old liaisons in a search for her “best ex”. When the corporately submitted synopsis is one line, you know the movie has nothing going for it. Critics agree giving it the same horrible reviews a film of this type is expected to get. In fact, I’m not even sure if it’s worth continuing to write about, so I’m just going to cut my losses here.

    Opening This Week – Limited Release

    Take Shelter – Character actor Michael Shannon gets a crack at a starring role and, according to critics, puts forth a career performance in this film. A mix of family drama and thriller elements, Shannon plays Curtis, father to a loving wife and a deaf child who, despite the financial strain having a child with needs can entail, lives a happy life. That is until Curtis has a vivid dream of an apocalyptic storm and becomes obsessed with building a shelter in his backyard, alienating himself from the community and more importantly the family he’s trying to protect. Critics have been unilaterally positive of the film, saying it is full of powerful performances and great writing. Worth seeing! Screening at the Angelika and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

    Margaret – Story of a 17 year old high school student who, after witnessing a horrific traffic accident, feels she somehow contributed to it and descends into a self destructive cycle. Featuring some star power from Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo and Jean Reno, the film has opened to mixed reviews. The more vocal critics have said that the film spreads itself too thin but the movie’s supporters have praised director Kenneth Lonergan’s bold vision, even if it plays out almost an hour too long. Playing at Landmark Sunshine

    American Teacher – Documentary narrated by Matt Damon that chronicles the stories of four teachers working in different subsets of American society. Another film seeing mixed reviews this weekend, your enjoyment of the movie will largely depend on how much you connect with the tales of woe these educators put forth. While the movie can come off heavy handed at times, it’s hard to deny the impact these people have on our children and society as a whole. Showing at AMC Empire 25

    Bunraku – A movie that was finished nearly three years ago and is just now searching for an audience, Bunraku, starring Woody Harrelson and Josh Hartnett, is a genre mashing film in the vein of Sin City without any skill, fun or intrigue. More like this years Sucker Punch, this movie promises all flash with absolutely nothing underneath it. Oh, the story? A mysterious drifter and Japanese warrior fight to free a town under the tyrannical rule of Ron Pearlman. I think I’ve said enough…. Showing at AMC Empire 25

    Sarah Palin: You Betcha! – Say what you want about Alaska governor and Presidential hopeful Sarah Pailn, but when a movie so blantantly tries to muckrake and marvel at it’s own superiority, it’s hard to the smear campaign seriously. Nick Broomfield plays a poor man’s Morgan Sperlock where he interviews her constituents, investigates her policies and reveals shocking facts like she was texting during a meeting. Huh? A film that’s designed to preach to the converted providing nothing new or interesting, You Betcha is more propaganda than documentary. Screening at the Angelika and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

    Opening This Week – Indie, Art House and Small Screenings

    Tucker & Dale vs Evil – Playing like Shaun of the Dead for hillbillies, this film takes a couple of good ol’ boys who, after getting mistaken for Deliverance characters by a group of preppy college students, decide to lend a hand leading to mass murder and bloodshed. Again, I say…huh? Despite a horrific review in Time Out New York, critics have been surprisingly positive about the movie, saying that despite its student film tendencies, there is some redemption in the bloodshed. Thanks to largely excellent reviews, I’ll give this a cautious See It. Playing at City Cinemas Village East

    Benda Bilili! – Documentary about a group of street musicians, half of which are disabled, who spread a message of hope through music in the country of Congo. Critics have been largely praising this film saying it accurately captures the joy and energy of the film’s central subjects. Showing at the IFC Center

    My 3 To See

    50/50 – The best reviewed movie being released this weekend, this Seth Rogan / Joseph Gordon-Levitt vehicle may sound like it’s all depression and angst but the reality is a well balanced film of hope during the toughest life has to offer.

    Take Shelter – Featuring a fine performance by the underrated Michael Shannon, Take Shelter provides family warmth and intense moments with equal vigor.

    Moneyball – Mentioned Drive last week, this week I’ll give Moneyball a plug, a well written and smartly acted film that supersedes filmgoers expectations with real emotional weight.

    Confused by the colors? Here’s the guide!

    Green means that reviews are great, the trailer looks great, so this is definitely worth seeing!

    Orange means reviews have been mixed but there’s enough here for me to say, “See It For Yourself”.

    Red means this film should be avoided at all costs! Run, Devil fans, run!!

  9. Did anyone else last night watch the ESPN documentary on the Steve Bartman incident? It was EXCELLENT!

    After last night's wild finish, I was scrolling through this thread and came across this comment. Glad that doc was good as I had tickets to see that during the Tribeca Film Festival but couldn't go due to a scheduling conflict. Really crazy story and Gibney is an excellent documentary director, probably one of my favorites. Definately check out his other work if you enoyed Catching Hell.

  10. So, I'm two dungeons through Twilight Princess and yes, I realize the game is about 6 years old but it's new to me! Not sure if there are any Nintendo fans or even old school gaming fans in here, but I think it's the best story out of all the Zelda games and it rivals Ocarina in fun factor. While my favorite Zelda will forever be Link to The Past, this is a solid third on my list.

    Also, just put my order in for the ICO/Shadow of the Collosus collection for PS3. While I've never played ICO, I adored Shadow back on the PS2 so I'm looking forward to having them both on the PS3, in limited HD. In case you've never heard of it, here's the PS2 trailer for Shadow.

    As you can see, it's a very patient, quiet game that depends on mood, atmosphere and puzzle solving for the gameplay. And yes, all you do is roam a barren countryside and fight 16 monstrous bosses. And yes, it's brilliant. Worth at least a rental for the youngin's out there who've never played it.

  11. New Movie Review


    Every few years or so, Hollywood decides to kill the world. Ever since the first ever disaster movie, 1924’s The Last Man On Earth to more recent efforts like I Am Legend, 28 Days Later and the Resident Evil series, filmmakers have often fantasized about a world afflicted by plague, pestilence and natural disaster. That said, it’s been about five years since 2008, the “Year Of Airborne Sickness” which saw the release of such films as Doomsday, Blindness, The Happening, Quarantine (a remake of REC) and the A&E reimagining of The Andromeda Strain. After that, mankind was relatively safe from the ravages of invisible threats, that is until Steven Soderbergh released his 2011 film, Contagion, a thought provoking yet bland film about an easily transmitted virus ravaging the world’s population.

    Featuring an ensemble cast of usually fine actors, Contagion opens with the story of Beth Emhoff, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Beth is off doing business, among other things, in Hong Kong and upon returning to her Minnesota home, develops a case of the sniffles. Of course, as the film’s title suggests, this seemingly benign illness quickly turns into a strange disease that nobody has ever seen before. This sets in motion a mad chase by the Center for Disease Control to try and contain this newly discovered sickness before it infects the entire world. From this one plot point, literally six different story points branch off. To fight this new affliction, you have the head of the CDC trying to keep a nation under control (Laurence Fishburne), a plucky doctor hell bent on finding a cure (Jennifer Ehle) and two field agents doing the ground work, one in Hong Kong (Marion Cotliard) and the other in Minnesota (Kate Winslet). Add to that a muck raking blogger trying to get to the truth (Jude Law) and Beth’s seemingly immune husband who just wants to keep his family safe (Matt Damon) and you have a tangled mess of storylines, none of which ever really hold together or hold your attention.

    That said, the main narrative drive of the movie, the search for the virus’ antidote, is done rather well. The film takes great pains to make sure the scientific jargon makes sense and, thanks to a well researched screenplay by Scott Z. Burns, the film succeeds at that aim. Never once are you confused over the science, even when they throw around medical terms and rush around laboratories. The very idea of a deadly virus simply appearing is an inherently scary one and as a description of that terror, Contagion takes a very adult and honest position. For example, this virus is never described as a “world killer”, it simply could off a quarter of the population. This grounding in reality brings about some the film’s best moments, which includes the social backlash of word getting out. The fix takes time and in the year or so depicted in the film, we see humanity at its most base, fighting for supplies, looting homes and existing in a general sense of panic. Although I could criticize the fact that they never show the more empathetic side of society, a side that we’ve seen through our own crises, this natural panic is important in giving the film some spark and life.

    And why would that be important in a film about a deadly disease ravaging the world’s population? Because you sure don’t get any sort of excitement out of the people affected by it. The problem with having so many storylines and characters is that none of them ever have time to develop, creating a disaster impacting people we really don’t care about. Storylines snap off and pick up an hour later, main characters are describable only by their jobs and even Matt Damon, the character we spend the most time with, comes off disinterested in the events affecting his family. Only Jude Law, in the role of the anti-establishment blogger, injects any personality or life into his character, a character that’s really only there to provide the conspiracy theorist angle. While Damon does finally start to show a hint of emotion towards the end, it’s too little too late for the film. If it weren’t for movie poster wow, Soderbergh could have left at least two of these storylines on the cutting room floor, allowing the reaming characters to breathe a bit. The result is a tensionless film that’s almost as sterile as the hazard suit wearing scientists finding the cure or the bottles of Purell it’s constantly shilling.

    Make no mistake, I enjoy most of these actors and I really enjoy Soderbergh as a director. He has made some amazing films in the past and will continue to make amazing films in the future. The problem is, Soderbergh eschews character development for solid film structure and the result is a movie that has all the tension and intrigue of a medical procedural. Interesting, yes, but emotionally involving? Not even close. Despite the weakness of the main cast, the film does have a fairly interesting storyline attached to it, and although the ending is obvious as most of these films are, the way it investigates the solving of the riddle is fun to watch. In the end, Contagion is opportunity squandered by below average acting, very poor characterization and more plot points than an Ayn Rand novel. Mission accomplished, by the way, in getting me to stop touching my face so often. Just would’ve been better if the movie had shown me a good time while teaching me to do so.

  12. I'm not nearly the video game nerd I once was. Used to be unstoppable in the NHL games, but stopped playing around '06. Picked up '09 and it was like the game had completely passed me by. I'm afraid to even try '12. :lol:

    I did enjoy the hell out of Arkham Asylum, though. Might have to get Arkham City. And I got inFAMOUS with that PS3 "Welcome Back" free games promotion and have been having a lot of fun with that too.

    Yeah, I'm quite looking forward to Arkham City and I did the same thing as you, got Infamous with the whole PSN debacle. Infmaous is a very entertaining game! Call me crazy, but zapping people with electricity NEVER gets old. That and that jump charge move that blows the hell out of everybody in sight. Very cool stuff.

    I dont mind Assassins Creed anymore. Honestly the first one was horrible but the second one made up for it, and the story has a big twist.

    I think my sister's boyfriend has AC2, so I may just have to give it a shot at some point.

    I decided to buy L.A. Noire, found a used copy and figured it would be worth it. The game play was new to a Rockstar game and I must say it is prob. the most well done R-Star game to date. They def. brought a new style of game genre to the front and would love another one, maybe N.Y. or Chicago or something. Maybe even switch it up and make one where you aren't a detective but keep the game style. The story line was one of the best I have ever played and that is probably why I beat it so fast. There was a nice mixture of flash backs and things of that nature where you learn about the character you play as you go along with his past and how he connects with the other characters in the game. The only negative is there were a few bugs, some that you would expect if you have ever played a Rockstar game in the past. The story line does end kind of abruptly and I did not finish all the side missions or find all the easter eggs. I do recommend this game, especially if you find it cheap. Everyone should try to make it last longer than I did though.

    I was very close to pulling the trigger on LA Noire but I couldn't find it cheap enough so I decided to get Zelda: Twilight Princess for $9. So far, so good but there really isn't a bad Zelda game. Well, not including the CD-I disasters....


    Doubly NSFW
  13. Review My Collection #10


    Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet wasn’t always such a playful guy.

    Sure, the director will forever be linked to his most popular film, Amelie, a story about a charming young woman’s search for love, courage and serenity in modern day Paris but Jeunet wasn’t always so cheerful. His first two films, 1991’s Delicatessen and 1995’s The City of Lost Children were bleak visions of a future that had its inhabitants stealing dreams from children, suffering from famine and slaughtering people ala Sweeny Todd. Even his one foray into Hollywood directing, 1997’s misguided Alien Resurrection was dark in tone. So imagine everybody’s surprise when in 2001, Jeunet broke free from long time directing partner Marc Cano and released a sweet romantic comedy starring then unknown Audrey Tautou. The response? Not only did the film end up on many critics Best Of lists, it managed to gross over seventeen times its initial budget and snag five Academy Award nominations along the way. French cinema was suddenly very cool. Now, over ten years later, Amelie stands out as one of the finest films of the past decade, creating a world of magic, whimsy and sweet simplicity.

    Amelie, as a film, is really broken out into two parts. The first part is her role as an arm’s length matchmaker and guardian angel. Throughout the movie, Amelie learns there’s great joy to be had in helping others and finds herself flitting about Paris providing silent assistance to people who didn’t realize they needed it. From walking with a blind stranger to describe the world around him to hooking up a customer and coworker at the restaurant where she works to convincing her widowed father to see the world via a globetrotting garden gnome, Amelie revels in the helping of others. However, all this worldly insight means nothing when it comes to her own relationships and that leads to the charming and sometimes maddening cat and mouse game of the second part, where she pursues, in a number of ingenious ways, a strange young man. Most people fall in love with the Amelie character due to her playful nature and love of the simplistic pleasures life has to offer, but it’s here where we start to get a bit annoyed with her. While this is a credit to how well the character is written and how much we come to really root for her, there’s many a moment when I yelled, “Just talk to him!!” at the movie. Her indecision and constantly escalating mechanisms work as a plot device and are charming in their own way but the game runs a bit too long before the eventual ending.

    Luckily for the film, that’s my only criticism as the rest of the movie is truly fantastic. In the role of Amelie, the person we all wish we could be, Audrey Tautou is magnificent in a part nobody else on this planet could probably play. While many fans remember her playful smile, beautiful big eyes and magnetic personality, the character of Amelie is much more complex than people realize. Although Amelie finds inner piece in being the silent matchmaker, she sacrifices her own happiness in the process, creating a character that remains relatable throughout the diabetes inducing plotline. It’s a subtle trick, but an effective one. Luckily for us, the character Tautou creates glazes everything with a lighthearted sheen even when she’s at her most maddening and her most devious. Again, most remember the sweet French girl that does some amazingly creative boy chasing but Amelie has a devious side as well, especially when driving a particularly nasty food grocer to near madness via a series of practical jokes. It’s this balance that helps us stay connected to a character that teeters on the edge but never exceeds to the point of parody.

    And of course, nobody can talk intelligently about a Jeunet film without discussing some of the most brilliantly unique cinematography in all of filmmaking. With his old directing partner Marc Cano, his previous efforts had a dark pallor to them but in Amelie, unhinged from his long time collaborator, Jeunet opens up the color palette to astonishing levels. Everything in Amelie is over-real, thanks to some ingenious camerawork and sets so brightly saturated with color, it’s almost impossible to take it all in during one viewing. Amelie is pure visual eye candy, helping to create a surreal world that’s almost dreamlike in its composition, important in a film where two people communicate via chalk arrows and signs reading, “Who Are You”.

    When all is said and done, Amelie is a film about following one’s passions, no matter how small or how big they may seem. From the simple pleasure of skipping stones on a pond to popping bubble paper to more grand aspirations like traveling the world and falling in love, Amelie treats all of these pursuits with an even keel. Some critics deride this film as being too sweet, too saccharine, too whimsical and that, in a word, is hogwash. The sad fact is, those people are simply too embittered to appreciate the joy pouring out of every frame this movie has to offer. From the opening frames of a young Amelie playing childish games to a final encounter that chokes me up every damn time I see it, Amelie is a small wonder, a movie so full of life, it makes you want to seek out those tiny little treasures yourself. In the end, life in Amelie is full of small miracles, miracles we can find for ourselves if we only take a second and look.

    **Check out my RT blog entitled "Review My Collection" for the rest of the series!!**

  14. Opening This Week – Nationwide

    Abduction – Let’s just start off with the worst of the lot. Resident Twilight hottie Taylor Lautner stars as Nathan Harper, a regular Joe who finds out his entire life has been an orchestrated lie and once he discovers this fact, find himself on the run from dudes with guns. Known more for his abdominals than his acting chops, Lautner could be a decent enough action star given some time but right now, according to some of the most brutal reviews I’ve read in quite some time, he just doesn’t have the panache for the job. Still, the kid is 19, so I can’t hate on him too much. The big surprise is that the film is directed by John Singleton, famed creator of Boyz n the Hood, so I would expect something at least watchable. Sadly, according to critics, the film is a complete and total mess and while reviews are limited, they are unilaterally bad, so this one is an easy skip.

    Moneyball – Brad Pitt, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill star in the true story of Billy Beane, virtuoso manager of the Oakland A’s. When I first saw trailers for this movie, I thought to myself, “Gee. Another baseball movie” but critical response has proven otherwise. Directed by Bennett Miller (Capote) and co-written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), this film focuses more on the redemption of the beleaguered manager and the bravery required to challenge the system, a wise decision. Looks like I’ll have to give this a watch, especially in light of the overwhelmingly good reviews this flick has received.

    Dolphin Tale (Also showing in 3D) – Starring Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd and Kris Kristofferson, this movie is about…well…a dolphin and the kindly people who band together to save its life. That’s about it! Despite some clumsy direction and some less than inspiring 3D effects, critics have been very kind to a film that doesn’t look like could offend anybody. Featuring a simple yet inspiring true story, Dolphin Tale is sweet and inoffensive, a perfect film to take the kids to that won’t make drive you nuts in the process.

    Killer Elite – Remember The Expendables from last year? Well, this is same deal, only pared down to a cast of three tough guys instead of eight. Starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert DeNiro, this story of two ex-special ops agents on the hunt for an international super criminal just screams standard action far, almost to the point of SNL parody. Featuring standard action in a standard screenplay that depends on the cool factor of an aged DeNiro kicking ass, Killer Elite looks to be a killer waste of time.

    Opening This Week – Limited Release

    Thunder Soul – Presented by Jamie Foxx (which basically means he thought it was a good idea), Thunder Soul tells the true story of a 35 year reunion of the Kashmere High School Stage Band, a revolutionary high school jazz / funk band that helped break down the color barriers in the early 70’s. Critics have been very positive of this film, saying it serves as a rousing testament to the power of music education and funk music. Being a recipient of music education myself, I was hoping this film would get good review and I’m glad to say critics are calling this a must see! Playing in limited theaters throughout New York and New Jersey

    Puncture – Chris Evans in a film that doesn’t require him to wear tights and a shield? Sure, I’m game! Evans plays Mike Weiss, a talented lawyer who also has to battle his own demons of drug addiction. When Weiss and his partner Paul, played by co-director Mark Kassen, take on a high profile pharmaceutical case, they stretch their boundaries both personally and professionally. Critics have been mixed on this with some saying the screenplay doesn’t have enough meat to keep it afloat with others saying it’s a sharp yet flawed courtroom drama. Check out a trailer or two before giving it a watch. Screening at AMC Empire 25 and Landmark Sunshine

    Machine Gun Preacher – A film that’s been getting some pretty decent buzz yet has seen some lackluster reviews, Gerard Butler plays Sam Childers, a ex-biker turned social worker who goes to East Africa to break ground on an orphanage…AND KICKS ASS! Loosely based on a true story, this film looks like a Machete wanna-be that got dressed up for awards season. According to critics, this film doesn’t know if it wants to be a drama about helping children or a campy flick and that looks to be the death knell for this film. Ignore the rumbling buzz and skip this stinker. Playing at Regal Union Square 14 and AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13

    Limelight – Documentary about Peter Gatien, the famed king of the New York club scene, owner of Limelight, Tunnel and Palladium. Directed by Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys), critics have said that the film is more interesting for the insight to the pre-Disney NYC than it is as a portrait of Gatien but thanks to the hyperactive filmmaking of Corben, the film holds together. Definitely worth checking out for those interested. Showing at Landmark Sunshine Cinema

    The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby – Long title, anybody? Told by the son of the title’s CIA operative, this film examines the world and the cost of having a high profile father who lives a secret life. Getting fine reviews in limited reviews, critics have hailed the movie as personal, moving and fascinating, a true human story. Worth a watch! Screening at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

    Opening This Week – Indie, Art House and Small Screenings

    Pearl Jam Twenty – Director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous) documents the twentieth anniversary of the famous Seatle band in this well received doc. Film fans know Crowe’s love of music very well and this doc has been getting movies reviews, mostly dependent on how much the reviewer liked the “fan with a camera” feel Crowe represents. For me, the man loves music and that love permeates everything he does, so I say see it! Showing at the IFC Center

    A Bird of The Air – Two people meet on strange terms when a missing parrot flies into the life of long time loner Lyman. Lyman, finds the birds owner, Fiona and starts a strange relationship with the animal lover. The few reporting critics have been giving this poor reviews saying that there’s no grit to balance out the schmaltz, but I’m going to reserve judgment until more reviews come out. Screening at City Cinemas Village East

    The Whale – Narrated by Ryan Reynolds, The Whale is a true story about an orca who befriends a group of humans in British Columbia. While some critics say there’s not enough here to sustain a full length documentary, others have said it survives, albeit barely, on the strength of the leaping whale. Screening at Cinema Village 12th St

    Weekend – Highly lauded festival circuit film is about a newly met gay couple who spends a 48 hour span, living, loving and affecting each other in profound ways. Critics have been universally praising this film, saying that despite its low budget and small scale, the connection between the two leads is marvelous and worth the price of admission alone. Showing at IFC Center

    My 3 To See

    Moneyball – Brad Pitt stars in this well received film that’s more a study of defeating the establishment that baseball clichés and that is definitely a good thing.

    Thunder Soul – Funk music? Check. A tribute concert for a civil rights leader? Check. A touching story about the power of music? Double check! Methinks this is going on my watch list and it should go on yours!

    Drive – Still the best reviewed film in wide release, this Ryan Gossling actioner is just what film fans need to get their adrenaline pumping.

    Confused by the colors? Here’s the guide!

    Green means that reviews are great, the trailer looks great, so this is definitely worth seeing!

    Orange means reviews have been mixed but there’s enough here for me to say, “See It For Yourself”.

    Red means this film should be avoided at all costs! Run, Devil fans, run!!

  15. I played Assassins Creed 1 and 2 but havent played brotherhood or looked up much on the next one though I do want to get them all eventually. I was getting heavily into the story line of that game it is actually very good which I did not expect after playing the first one.

    You know, I just couldn't get past the boredom of the first Assassins Creed. Bought it on a whim last year and was very disappointed in how repetititve it was. While I've read the newer ones have fixed the issues, I can't can't get into that whole "replaying memories" storyline as it sucks all the drama out of the game. You don't die, you fail to follow in the footsteps of your ancestors! For me, that sucks all the tension of trying to stay alive. And don't get me started on how you're this amazingly agile assassin and the common goons who chase you seem to have the same amazing abilities. Someone needs to convince me AC2 is that much better for me to continue the series!

    As for wartime FPS's, I've mainly stuck with the CoW series, MW1, MW2 and Black Ops and always because I got them for dirt cheap or recieved them as a gift. The only other wartime FPS I've played is Medal of Honor which was decent. Maybe I'll give Battlefield a rent at some point.

    Oh, I need to add two more games to my watch list:

    Bioshock Infinite

    Final Fantasy 13-2

    Bioshock Infinite just looks brilliant and I think I'm the only person in exsistance who actually enjoyed FF13. Looking forward to seeing how the after story pans out and the developers hopefully fixing the many issues in the original game.

    Also, quick question for the Bioshock fans out there...Bioshock 2. Is it worth playing? I can get it for crazy cheap on Amazon right now but I'd like to know if it's worthwhile before sinking 25 hours into it.

  16. Yeah, there's an NHL thread but no video game, as far as I know, so I'll help you out with one!

    I'm an old school gamer that just started back up about a year and a half ago, so I'm busy catching up on all the classics from the last few years. Bioshock, God Of War 3, Heavy Rain and Uncharted being some of my favorite and yes, I'm a PS3 guy. I also have a Wii but while I love the stuff Nintendo puts out (Donkey Kong Country Returns is amazing), I find myself logging way more PS3 time than anything else. Just finished Arkham Asylum in preparation for Arkham City and good God, that game is ridiculous! I'm not even a huge Batman or comic book guy and I absolutely loved it. The games I'm looking forward to this winter are, in order:

    Uncharted 3

    ICO / Shadow of the Colossus reissue (coming out next week, I think!)

    Arkham City

    The Last Guardian (whenever that's supposed to come out)

    Also looking forward to the PS3 God of War Origins series that's getting re-released on PS3 and may even be out already. As for Battlefield, I've never played the first two, so I'm always skeptical of trying out a sequel without playing originals, which is why I've never tried the Mass Effect series (you can get 2 on PS3, but not 1). That, and I'm not a bit FPS player although I do enjoy the CoD games on a purely single player, oh my God, they just bombed the White House sort of way. Have played online maybe a handful of times, didn't enjoy the bratty kids shooting the snot out of me and didn't go back to it.

    Now that I'm done with Arkham, I think my next game is going to be LA Noire, which should tide me over until the holidays and Uncharted 3.

    Oh, and I loves me some Final Fantasy. Yep, I'm one of those guys.

    Looking forward to seeing this thread develop!

  17. Opening This Week – Nationwide

    Drive – The pinnacle of indie cool hits wide release this weekend and this heist movie starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Albert Brooks looks to feed the urges of moviegoers looking for well made gut wrenching action this weekend. Gosling stars as a Log Angeles stuntman who moonlights as a getaway man for a number of high end criminals. When a particular heist goes out of control, Gosling is forced to go on the run and eventually on the offensive when his love interest becomes part of the game. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refh (Valhalla Rising, Bronson), his first major film combines art house cool with high octane action to create a package that critics have been calling irresistible. September can be sometimes seen as the dark days of movie going, the period where the blockbusters fade and the prestige films are still on their way but Drive helps bridge that gap with energy, excitement and bloody good times. Recommended!

    Straw Dogs – James Marsden and Kate Bosworth star as a Hollywood couple returning home to deal with the estate of their recently deceased father. Once there, they have to not only deal with the loss but have to contend with a violent confrontation with Bosworth’s ex boyfriend, played by Alexander Skarsgard. Nah, doesn’t make me want to see it either. Critics have been…well…critical about this remake of the decently received Sam Peckinpah film saying it’s soulless and boring, despite the brutality depicted. Full of blood and violence but lacking in the interest department, fans of the original may want to see how director Rod Lurie treats the story but everyone else should just see something else this weekend.

    I Don’t Know How She Does It – You know what I don’t know? How Sarah Jessica Parker keeps getting work. When I first saw this trailer, I seriously thought, Sex in the City 3? Already?? Nope, this is Parker doing her standard Carrie shtick, only this time in Boston trying to juggle work, kids and a failing marriage. It all adds up to the same rote gags you’ve seen in a hundred similar movies. Will she bumble her way through dinner with her dashing boss? (Pierce Brosnan) Yep. Will she actually get a chance to have sex with her bumbling husband? (Greg Kinnear) Nope. Will I be seeing this film anytime soon? Based on the color assigned this wreck, take a wild guess.

    Lion King 3D – The Disney classic gets the three dimensional treatment this weekend and fans of the original may be well served to check this out, especially if you have young children who’ve never seen it. Critics have said that the 3D effect is actually applied fairly well, especially in the sweeping opening when we first meet young Simba held aloft in the hands of Rafiki (no, not Rafalski….crazy Devils fans…) Even if the 3D is unnecessary, The Lion King is cherished relic of old school animation and should be experienced again by young and old alike.

    Opening This Week – Limited Release

    Restless – How’s this for indie comedy gold? Take a terminal cancer patient and a depressed orphan, have them meet at a funeral and play it all up for dour laughs. Sounds like a fun time to you? No? Well, you’re not alone as critics have been fairly down on this downer, despite having a good cast in Henry Hopper and Mia Wasikowska and a great director in Gus Van Sant. The main issue seems to be that the film is too smarmy for it’s own good and while Van Sant is a genius at creating dreamy, disconnected scenarios, the film seems like it’s on autopilot, requiring nobody involved to really stretch their skills. The result is a bland looking film that’s really not going to appeal to anybody. Screening at Regal Union Square Stadium 14, AMC Empire 25 and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

    3 (Drei) – German film about a modern couple of over twenty years who both fall in love with same mysterious man. Critics have been right down the middle with this one with some saying the movie is beautiful and stirring and other saying its all arty shots of naked people with absolutely no soul. Not one I’ll run out to see, but I wouldn’t fault you if you did. Showing at the Angelika

    Happy, Happy – It’s rare when a movie can pull off dramatic and comedic in the same breath, but according to critics, this Norwegian film does just that. Focusing around the Amelie-esqe life of quirky girl in Norway, the film examines all the emotional missteps one can take when they spend their days comparing themselves to the world around them. Definitely worth a viewing for those looking for a smile to go with their bleak world views. Playing at Landmark Sunshine

    Silent Souls – Story about two friends, Miron and Aist, who take a pilgrimage of remembrance after the death of Miron’s wife, in accordance with 17th century Merja tradition. Clocking in at a slim 75 minutes, this dreamily sweet film has been getting fine reviews from critics, so it might be a dark horse “must see” for me this weekend. Showing at the Angelika

    Opening This Week – Indie, Art House and Small Screenings

    Jane’s Journey – Documentary staring, about and narrated by famed naturalist Jane Goodall and her work with saving species all around the world. Despite the heart of the subject matter, many critics have described the film as sitting with kindly old lady as she waxes on and on and on about her many adventures cleaning the monkey pen. Not something I would run out to see, but those who find inspiration in Goodall’s story will find much to enjoy here. Screening at the IFC Center

    My Afternoons With Margueritte – Quietly sweet French film about the unlikely friendship between illiterate town fool Germain (Gerard Depardieu) and 90 year old sophisticate Margueritte (Gisele Casadesus) who, after randomly meeting on a park bench, teach each other about life and the power of literature. While some critics have complained of some preachiness, the vast majority have been swept away by the sweet simplicity of the story. Worth watching, especially for those who appreciate good French film. Screening at City Cinemas Paris Theatre

    The Weird World of Blowfly – Strange documentary about Clarence Reid and his original dirty rapper persona, Blowfly. The film showcases the wild weird world of Mr. Blowfly and while the end result is a bit scattershot, the character of Reid himself is more than worth the price of admission…if you actually care. Showing at Quad Cinema

    My 3 To See

    Drive – Fast, frenetic and featuring a great cast, this indie action flick is the perfect bridge between the summer blockbuster season and the coming Oscar films.

    Silent Souls – Costing very little in time but requiring a ton of emotional connection, this quiet little film has been enchanting audiences all over.

    Contagion – Directly responsible for the stock price spike of Purell (not really), this film features good performances by the ensemble cast, decent action and enough squirmy thrills to keep you engaged.

    Confused by the colors? Here’s the guide!

    Green means that reviews are great, the trailer looks great, so this is definitely worth seeing!

    Orange means reviews have been mixed but there’s enough here for me to say, “See It For Yourself”.

    Red means this film should be avoided at all costs! Run, Devil fans, run!!

  18. Sorry, BP, I didn't mean to freak you out.

    Totally and completely not your fault! I can't ask for suggestions and then get all weirded out when I get one. Sorry the thread took a minor derail with my crazy, but I tried to pepper in some scene descriptions in the latest review. Hopefully, ya'll enjoy it!

    Oh, and in case I don't get around to yet another Week in Review, Drive is getting great reviews. Totally worth seeing.

  19. Newish Movie Review

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes

    Let’s take a step back and really examine this situation. Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Really? How did we get here, discussing a reboot of a failed remake of a campy late sixties franchise? Frankly, why does this movie exist? Luckily for you, I’ve thought long and hard about this and I can only come to one conclusion. It’s all about the moohla. The Tim Burton remake, while being universally panned by audiences and critics alike, still brought in major bank, 300 million dollars worth. Despite the studio’s insistence that they would support a second film if the first was financially successful, Burton reportedly said that he would, “rather jump out of a window” than do another Apes and the project broke down. Now, exactly ten years later, in the hopes audiences have forgotten the Burton experiment and to hopefully gain some box office gold, Hollywood is again giving us a reboot of the classic franchise. The good news is that as reboot prequels of corny Charlton Heston movies go, this version, directed by indie director Rupert Wyatt, is about as good as a movie of this type could possibly be. The bad news? It’s still Planet of the freaking Apes.

    Taking place in modern times, this Planet stars a robot version of James Franco as scientist Will Rodman, a genetics expert who is experimenting with a serum intended to restore brain function in people afflicted with Alzheimer’s. The point of this miracle cure is his addled father, played by the only human being in the film, John Lithgow. However, when the project gets nixed due to a manic monkey attacking a board room full of executives, Robot Franco sneaks home young Caesar and raises him like a son. Naturally Caesar, infused with the power of Robot Franco’s brain juice becomes self aware and, after a stint in ape prison for an ill advised neighbor attack, becomes that much more aggressive.

    This leads us to one of the finest examples of filmmaking trickery you will probably see this year. Almost freakishly lifelike, the character models in this version of Planet far surpass anything I’ve ever seen as far as realism and technical mastery go. Of course, I’m talking about the amazing work done in creating true to life CGI models of stars James Franco, Frieda Pinto and Brian Cox as the main scientist, his veterinarian love interest and the keeper of the monkey jail. A true feat of modern filmmaking techniques, these animatronic cyborgs, look, sound and for the most part act like their human…

    Wait a minute. Those are the real actors? Seriously?! C’mon! That can’t be same James Franco who co stared in Milk or the famed character actor Brian Cox sleepwalking through these roles. Can’t be! Even Frieda Pinto who was charming in Slumdog Millionaire can’t be that wooden. Really??? Lemme check Rotten Tomatoes real quick…

    Oh! Ohhh. Ooooohhhhhhh……

    Sarcasm aside, for all the great work Serkis does in the role of Caesar, the main failing of the film is the wooden performances by the rest of the human cast. Only Lithgow makes an honest, if overdone go of it, leaving the rest of the cast to wallow in mediocrity. Now, one could argue that this film is all about Caesar: his rise to intelligence, his struggle to adapt and his arc to becoming master of the new Darwinism. While I agree Andy Serkis did do an outstanding job in the main role, he shouldn’t win any sort of Oscar for it, simply because the movie forces him to break the number one rule of acting: make your fellow actors feel something. If you can make them feel, they make you feel and alacazam, good acting is borne. Despite how much we feel for the main protagonist, he can’t emote to his fellow actors because he isn’t really there. Sure, I don’t know how they pulled this off, but I imagine is was a lot of Andy Serkis acting like a monkey or James Franco trying to feel for a guy in a body suit with facial sensors. The result is a supporting cast that looks like they are playing to nobody and when that happens, the film takes a few steps back from greatness.

    That’s not to say, however, the film isn’t good. Far from it, Rise provides some highly entertaining set piece action scenes. From battling armies of hapless humans on a bridge, to a daring escape from the monkey pound to a very stirring engagement with the sadistic night watchmen in the main compound, a scene that climaxes with such a start, the entire audience gasped, Wyatt wisely balances action, suspense and winks to the original film. The result is a satisfying is forgettable experience that doesn’t do a whole lot wrong in Caesar’s journey from slave to master.

    And yes, much ado, hootenanny and ballyhoo has been made over the performance of Andy Serkis as the main ape Caesar and, sure thing, that praise is well deserved. The facial expressions and emoting of Caesar is frankly stunning and although I felt his supporting cast was dreadfully dull, the damn dirty ape more than makes up for it. Serkis is excellent at telling a story with his eyes and this skill really helps you lose yourself in the character. Towards the end, I completely forgot this was a guy doing monkey pantomimes and lost myself in Caesar and his struggle, a commendable accomplishment. Not an award winning performance like many reviewers have said, but one that deserves my respect.

    Like I said in the opening, despite the exciting action, easy to swallow story and fantastic work by Mr. Serkis, this is still Planet of the Apes, which based on the premise alone can’t help but feel charmingly B-movie. Wyatt almost takes the material too seriously but I can’t fault a guy for giving it his absolute all, which he most certainly did. Come for the monkeys, stay for the action scenes and grab some popcorn when Franco starts yapping, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a totally enjoyable summer flick that peppers just enough skill but behind the camera and behind the scenes to make this a worthy watch on the big screen. Just don’t expect an animated Caesar at the Academy Awards this year.

    Oh by the way, this reboot has made nearly exactly the same amount the Tim Burton film made ten years ago. Mission accomplished, Hollywood.

  20. I believe we found the truth here. Move along please, nothing further to see. laugh.gif

    anyway, shame on whomever for reading a review and expecting to not glean info about the movie out of it. urg.gif duhhhh

    Just fixing your dig at me :D In the end, I'm just trying to write the best stuff I can and I hope that people dig it. I'll do what I can to improve and hope you all hang with my work while I do!

    And yeah, I'm not sure why 95's comment, while valid, put such a start in me. Not his fault at all, just a bit of what my good friend likes to call, "my crazy" sneaking in. Anyway, back to movies! Review of Planet of the Apes coming soon!

  21. Maybe the forum's spoiler tags could be of use? For example:

    Pretend these words are your film review. Things are moving along with a good pace and flow that you wouldn't like to interrupt. And now you make a point about how Chuck Norris really showed how much he's improved his acting range since his last film.

    And here's an explanation of the scene in which Norris kicks an old guy in the balls really, really convincingly, thus representing an improvement in his acting chops.

    And here the review continues. The scene example is an option for the reader, like a parenthetical interjection that can be explored or ignored.

    Of course, this would create more work for you. So ... yeah ... :lol:

    While that wouldn't be the worst idea, I also post these reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and they don't have those spoiler tags, so, in the interest of keeping things consistant (and yes, reducing my workload), I probably won't be utilizing them anytime soon. Besides, I think you can discuss a movie without giving away major plot points.

    It's funny, I've been thinking alot about this topic while working on my next review and the more I think about it, the more I rebel against it. For example, take my Almost Famous review that 95 pointed out. The first three sentences of the second paragraph is a pretty concise synopsis of the major plot of the movie. Do I really need a part that says, "When confronted by the bands manager with a box full of t-shirts, emblazoned with an image of Crudup against a shadowy band, Jason Lee flexes acting muscles nobody knew he had." or "The peak of Crudup's performance arrives when he's standing atop a midwestern house, screaming, "I am a golden God" to the throng of drunken admirers below". Maybe I do, maybe I don't but I'm just not sure of how that would work.

    Like I said, I'll do what I can to better contexualize the comments I make and I hope you all keep reading and commenting! Also, I'll try to get back to the Week In Reviews as I've been more than lax on them.

  22. Hey BP, do you mind a little constructive criticism of your movie reviews? How about including some descriptions of specific scenes?

    Many times you write about story arcs, or plot twists, or how the script was weak, or how the actors played well off each other, or how the film/acting/directing might be Oscar-worthy, etc., etc., etc. ... but I have no idea of how you came to those conclusions because you rarely provide any examples of any specific scenes.

    When I read a movie review in the newspaper or online, I'm looking for at least one or two scene descriptions to give me an idea of what the movie might be like. Of course, I realize that you can't give anything big away.

    Other than that, I admire your work -- you obviously love movies and put a lot of work into doing what you do. Hopefully I'm not speaking out of line.

    Firstly, no worries about providing constructive critisism as that's the only way I can improve as a writer. My main goal is to provide an educated critique about a movie that will help you make a descision on whether or not to spend time and money checking it out, so any way I can improve that is helpful.

    As for scene descriptions, the better I like a movie, the less I talk specifics, simply because I really want you to see it for yourself! I'm very careful about my reviews being "spoiler free", so scene descriptions, unless they are unimportant to the story, kinda go against that aim.

    To me, the descriptions of acting, music, direction, script, etc should help you make a descision but my real goal is the tone of the review. On Rotten Tomatoes, I usually assign a score but here I don't, simply because my hope is that people read it and just from the energy and tone of the review can tell what I thought of it.

    Also, and this could be a shortcoming in my technique, but I never know how to squeeze in scene descriptions without ruining the flow of the review. Usually, I provide a synopsis of the movie in the second paragraph (although lately, I'm trying to pepper it in throughout the piece to keep things interesting) and for me, that's enough to give my opinions context.

    So, I guess that's a long winded way of saying that I'm just not good at squeezing in scene descriptions. That said, I'll try to do a better job of giving my opinions more context going forward as that's really important for me to get the message across. Thanks for the comments and the compliments! Much appreciated, 95!

  23. Review My Collection #9

    Almost Famous

    Rock and roll doesn’t die. It just grows older and hopefully, grows up.

    Of the many messages in Cameron Crowe’s near epic loss of innocence story we know as the great Almost Famous, the above rings the truest. The first I heard of this film was its amazing soundtrack, a CD on everyday rotation in my ex-girlfriend’s Honda Civic. With classic tunes like Simon and Garfunkel’s “America”, Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” and the quintessential “Every Picture Tells A Story” from Rod Stewart, the arc of the film is mirrored closely in the music that surrounds it. Largely a coming of age story, not only for aspiring rock journalist, William Miller but for everybody involved in this tale, Almost Famous is a breezy yet poignant film full of excellent performances, glib laughter and heartfelt fun.

    The center of this movie revolves around the aforementioned Mr. Miller, a 15 year old music fan who, thanks to some handy plot contrivances, is tasked by Rolling Stone to write an expose on the rock band Stillwater. Fronted by the egotistical yet insecure Jeff (Jason Lee in a role he was born to play) and backed by the guitar virtuoso, Russell (Billy Crudup), Stillwater is a band on the rise and while they’re mistrustful of the young writer at first, they quickly warm to his sweet down home mannerisms, taking the boy on the road to experience the rock and roll life first hand. The ensemble cast that fills the wild, weird and sometimes sad world Will finds himself in is unilaterally fantastic. From Kate Hudson as Penny, a groupie and on / off lover of Russell to the scene stealing Frances McDormand as Will’s doting mother to Phillip Seymour Hoffman as famed rock critic Lester Bangs, the cast works seamlessly together, creating a vibe that’s fun, inviting and emotionally involving, despite the leaps of faith the film takes to make it all work.

    That’s not say writer / director Cameron Crowe did a poor job. Quite the opposite, Crowe makes some smart decisions in making sure everybody in the film learns a thing or two by the time the final frame flickers. Rock flicks can sometimes be over-glamorous or under-honest but Almost Famous manages to highlight both the reckless fun and emotional strain that comes with spending months on end with an entourage of band members, musical and otherwise. The result is a film that’s enlightening while staying entertaining, the obvious product of Crowe’s own experience writing rock columns and hanging with people who on stage seem larger than life but in the real world, have the same fears and worries as the rest of us. Sure, Crowe uses a fair amount of plot devices, script feints and a third act deus ex machina that’s fairly ridiculous yet critical to the final bend in the story arc, but those manipulations are forgivable thanks to a well written script and the fantastic cast performing it.

    Almost Famous is one of those films that, like the burgeoning rock stars of its focus, is easy to deride as pure escapist entertainment, simply because it’s fun and it knows it. However, if you peel back the curtain and spend a few minutes looking at the journey these fascinating characters undergo in the space of two hours, the film takes on a new shape, one of personal discovery, understanding and revelation. Sure, these characters smoke, screw, drink and rage but in the end, when all is said and done, these people and this movie are there for the love of the music. Cameron Crowe captures this emotional power and delivers a well balanced, smartly written and completely enjoyable film. A movie that, when all is said and done, celebrates the passion required to make this type of music, Almost Famous deserves a spot among some the finest films made in the early twenty-first century and is an absolute must see not only for the music but for an examination of the turning points that define these unique characters. Remember, rock and roll may never die but thanks to Cameron Crowe and Almost Famous, it can age rather gracefully.

    ***NOTE: The version I watched was the newly released “Bootleg Edition” Blue Ray which adds a whopping 30 minutes of footage to an already two hour movie. While the extra footage doesn’t detract from the film in any way, in my opinion it doesn’t add anything either. While I can’t in good faith knock points off of the score for the decision of the filmmakers to include this footage, I wish there was a way to skip this material as this version definitely feels over-long compared to original I remember. Just a quick note to those who see this extended version and wonder why I don’t mention its bloated length in the main review.***

    **Check out my RT blog entitled "Review My Collection" for the rest of the series!!**

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