September 2009

Sunshine Cleaning: A Fun and Meaningful Film

Though not as amazing as Little Miss Sunshine, this film from the same producers features similar themes as well as results. Family problems and harrowing drama like suicide and death coupled with plenty of dark humor yield a winning film about making the world—and yourself—just a little bit better than it was before. (Spoilers ahead.)

Amy Adams plays Rose Lorkowski, a single mom in her thirties taking care of a troubled but bright child. Rose, a former high school cheerleading squad captain, is having an affair with a married man (Zahn) and cleaning houses to support herself and her son. When Oscar, her son, is singled out to be placed in a special education classroom, Rose decides that she needs to make more money in order to put him in a private school, telling him that they’ll never come back to that school again.

Pirates 4 Announced

Sitting in front of a big screen for two hours watching Johnny Depp jump around like Mick Jagger with kohl lining his eyes is just as entertaining for me as anybody else, but haven’t we gone just a little too far already with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise?

I think the general consensus was that each movie got more and more complicated—and not for the best—lost ample amounts of characterization, and pretty much let fans down with a once-every-decade conjugal visit between Swan and Turner (or rather, Turner and Turner…). What more could we possibly want from Jack-I-Eat-My-Own-Brain Sparrow?

Pride and Glory Has Neither

I really like a good crime movie. Thrillers are the best, but even weird, noirish types will work as long as they’re good—with a decent plot, great acting, and definitely a surprise somewhere. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I sat down to watch Pride and Glory; I think the previews had me ready for something truly shocking. However, the film really doesn’t have much of either pride or glory; in fact, it doesn’t have much of anything.

Standard Operating Procedure: Right, Wrong and Indecisive

The truth of any incident is up for debate. Perspectives differ based upon the individual being spoken to and what he or she has thinks might even differ dependent on when a conversation is held. That can’t always explain gulfs in describing a scenario and it all becomes problematic if there is photographic evidence of the proceedings. Despite all that, Errol Morris endeavors to figure out what happened at Abu Ghraib and how all those pictures detailing prisoner abuse actually happened in Standard Operating Procedure (2008). It was Morris’ first film since making The Fog of War (2003) which featured a remorseful, well spoken Robert Strange McNamara attempting to flesh out the whys and hows of Vietnam.

Poor, Lonely Steve Martin

Steve Martin had his moment. He’s still a revered dude in comedy, but no longer in the way he was back during the ‘70s and ‘80s. Bummer. He still has a special place in my heart though.

I played dub records on a community radio station a few years back. Mostly instrumentals and what not. It was received pretty well – at least alota Jamaicans called in and said they were into it. So, that’s good. But I would try to work in interesting material and play stuff on-top of the dubs. Sometimes it worked better than others. But I specifically recall being excited to mix in some Steve Martin stand-up routines. I thought it turned out well. Surely it was startling to hear, but that was the point. There shouldn’t be a boundary to any music despite its codification.

I received a barrage of angry calls. Each told me to stop. I did.

A Swell Guy: Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.

Entering into Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. without too much background on the film or the individual might be the best way by which to enjoy this 1999 documentary from Errol Morris (so, maybe you shouldn’t read the rest of this). If toting in expectations, the first half an hour of the film might be fluff as one waits for the ‘shocking’ revelation afforded by the subsequent hour. On its surface Morris’ film initially shows just a simple biographic glance into the life of an oddball kinda guy, but pretty quickly it all moves into some unexpected realm of punditry – not on the part of the filmmaker, but the folks that he interviews.

Capitalism: A Love Story Opens October 2

It’s coming to a theater near you, and the question on my mind is how much controversy will this one cause?

When it comes to Michael Moore, a self-described slacker documentary filmmaker who dropped out of college when he couldn’t find a place to park, I think it’s either you love him or you hate him. In fact, the two sides are so extreme that he’s got people citing him as one of the most influential people of our time—as well as making counter-documentaries on him and his work.

Microwave Popcorn: Three Mindless Rental Flicks

It's been several years since I had a Netflix account and I recently got back into it. Having a massive queue of movies that get delivered to your home weekly creates an intriguing shift in the way people consume cinema. I had all but forgotten about that effect, that willingness to rent sub-par movies from an online purveyor that never would have otherwise made it into your DVD player and certainly never would have even be considered a possibility for a visit to a honest movie theater. While the idealistic cinophile in me wants to believe that I would use the extensive Netflix library to catch up on old classics or take in the endless stream of limited-run foreign movies that come out every year, more often than not I find that Netflix users fill their queues with forgettable fare to fill in another weeknight. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Here are three movies seemingly tailor-made for microwave popcorn and snarky comments at home.

Are There Any Films You Just Can't Watch?

When I saw the trailer for Obsessed starring Beyoncé Knowles and Ali Larter, I knew I would just have to see it. It’s not that I’m a huge fan of either of them, but even as a pacifist I like me some revenge—especially revenge on a would-be home wrecker! “Oh yeah,” I whooped to my bemused husband, “I wanna see that wife kick that girl’s a**!”

When we finally rented it, there I was, all set to watch the catfight—even though I’d read reviews that dismissed it as simply a movie put in motion to see these two pretty girls fight each other at the end—and suddenly, in the very first scene, I felt my stomach clench as Knowles pulled a small child from his car seat.