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Archive for the ‘actors’ Category

There was a time when all science fiction movies were just that – fiction. Written and told by future thinkers…storytellers. But the close ties to reality painted by the screenwriters and actors who contributed to “District 9” changed my views of science fiction during the course of the movie.

Having only watched “District 9” once, I’m sure I’ve missed all the subtleties of present-day politics, human rights and persistent (and evil) search for control and power. Oh wait. I caught these three parallels so obviously portrayed in this movie. But there’s more. Much more.

“District 9” brings home the nuances of just how ugly human kind can be when placed in odd circumstances. Not that the war crimes committed by Nazis in WWII could ever be forgotten, but it’s just one instance in which this movie shows through parallel how completely brutal people can be when self-motivation overrules common sense.

This story is unique and unfolds in ways no unsuspecting movie watcher could anticipate. And while there were one or two moments in which I thought, “okay, that wasn’t necessary,” by and large the vast majority of this movie seemed more real and possible than any alien-based movie I’ve seen since “Signs.”

And I’ll admit, I have a thing about aliens on Earth that tends to keep me up at night.

Go see “District 9” and you’ll forget its even about alien creatures and “what if” scenarios. Because, in the end, we are such an imperfect bunch of humans.

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Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder star in this set-in-LA movie about greed, sex, rock and roll and “the industry.” The screenplay, by Brett Ellis, highlights the continuum of those on the pinnacle of success with those in the far corners of darkness and anonymity.

I want to see this movie!

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I once watched a truly terrible movie, “Kabluey.”  (Should have known it was gonna be bad when the flick starred Lisa Kudrow…but the premise of it seemed good). Afterward I thought to myself, “Why would anyone produce such a major waste of time?” Now, whenever I pass that DVD jacket at the local rental store, I laugh inside. Last week while shopping at the rental store, I noticed someone pick up the movie and I had to refrain from shouting, “Don’t rent it! It’s awful!” But I hushed myself.

Moments later in the store, I was checking out a flick called, “Lake City.” Little did I know it was equally sucky. We watched “Lake City,” on Sunday and at one point during the movie, I looked across the living room and said, “This feels like it was made for TV.” It wasn’t, but it was written, directed and produced like it was. Note to self: Sissy Spacek can’t really act and she can’t get by in movies on her good looks. What’s more, Dave Matthews can’t play the evil bad guy. His face is too kind.

Meanwhile, I’m thoroughly enjoying season one of “Deadwood,” which I’ve nearly completed watching. I’ve added season two to my Netfkix queue along with Will Smith’s  “Seven Pounds,” something I never saw in theaters.

The occasional bad movie resembles a bad cup of coffee. It’s bitter or weak and gets cold before you can finish it…but it’s still coffee and if you love coffee you drink it anyway.

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Valentine’s Day night found me at the W Hotel in downtown Minneapolis celebrating the 30th birthday of a friend’s friend. I’ve not been to the Living Room bar at the hotel, adjacent to Manny’s Steakhouse, since last October.  And unlike that first experience, which was quiet and comfortable, last night the place was rockin’ with people – beautiful, unassuming couples and ostentatious men and women whom I was embarrassed for because of their crazy costumes on Feb. 14. It’s Valentine’s Day, not Halloween, right?!?

So our small group of eight stood in the midst of all the couples enjoying their evening at a hip bar/restaurant and we drank our Grey Goose martinis or Manhattans. One lively conversation led to another and another, including the topic of Obama’s economic stimulus package recently passed by the Senate and scheduled for signing on Feb. 17.  As I talked with young 30-somethings just getting married and starting their lives, their interest in owning a home is a clear priority. But some don’t have the financial wherewithall to make it a reality. Obama’s plan allows for first-time home buyers to obtain an $8,000 tax credit if they purchase a home by Dec. 31, 2009. Not bad, but wouldn’t this stimulus plan be even better if that a$8,000 could be immediately applied to the downpayment a first-time home buyer needs to make? That would finally enable many who don’t have an adequate downpayment to push their ability over that hurdle. I guess there’s more than one way to stimulate the economy, but in our current woeful economic state, I’m of the opinion the best way to stimulate the economy is to put funds and programs directly into the hands of people who have long-term plans. Homebuyers, for example.

From the trendy and hip W, the group moved west several blocks to a bar along First Avenue called, The Ugly Mug. Here is where I had a quick glass of Blue Moon and then checked out for the night. Not only is this place designed exclusively for Gen We-ers, it’s also excessively loud. At my age, I prefer not to stand in a bar pretending to hear conversation when all I can do is see lips moving, nod in return and smile a lot.  God, I sound old.

Mickey Rourke and Marissa Tomei make “The Wrestler,” an Oscar worthy movie. I finally got to see this film on Saturday afternoon. The audience was small, but it was Valentine’s Day at 5 p.m., and this movie isn’t really a feel-good kinda show.  Those who haven’t seen Rourke since his pretty boy days of “9 1/2 Weeks,” won’t recognize him. This role was essentially written for him, and I got the impression that Rourke barely had to act to fulfill his part in the film, especially given the past two decades of his life and the hard knocks he’s lived through. Still, the story is a good one, the father/daughter struggle all to painfully real, and the wrestling scenes almost comical in a very WWE kind of way. Tomei, in her role as stripper/single mom, deserves a solid for making her part not just relevant but dominant throughout the movie. Her torn life and dream to make something more of herself become the antithesis of Randy “Ram’s” day-to-day, piss it all away rut that he can’t get out of. In the end it seems they both get exactly what they want.

See “The Wrestler,” in theaters if for nothing else to say you saw Rourke in his comeback effort and Tomei looking beautiful in her plain-Jane kinda way she does so well. Stay for the credits and hear Bruce Springsteen sing the title track to the movie.

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I’m not ashamed: I like Batman. I’ve been a fan of Batman since the ’60s when I started watching the live-action series on television and letting Adam West, Burt Ward, and all the villainous characters enter into my world as a five-year-old. Batman always intrigued as a super hero who relied on his mind, physical capabilities and technological prowess to defeat The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin and other bad boys of the era.

The Batman movies have always captured my attention, again starting back in the ’70s when West and Ward starred in a feature length, schmaltzy take off of their highly successful, but short-lived TV series.  But from the first real Batman movie in 1989 to the most recent Christian Bale feature films, I’ve been hooked. The premise of each film makes me shudder. The music and high def productions of a mere trailer for the latest offering, “The Dark Knight,” (which you can see here) gives me goose bumps.

The Dark Knight will, of course, be dedicated to actor Heath Ledger, who for unknown reasons accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills and pain medications last January. Ledger was nominated for an Academy Award when he starred in “Brokeback Mountain.” The critics are saying his role as the Joker in the latest installment of Batman movies surpasses all villain roles ever played on the silver screen.  Here’s a great review of Ledger’s portrayal from the Canadian Press.

On July 18, when “The Dark Knight,” is released to the masses, I’ll be in line ready and eager to pay my $9 to see the latest Batman movie; to discover just how Batman, my super hero of all comic book heroes, manages to dispose of the Joker and save Gotham from utter destruction once again.

Here…we…go.

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CNN is reporting that actor Heath Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. At least that’s what the official New York City medical examiner’s report apparently states.

Accidental overdose.

I could understand an accidental overdose if a three-year-old got his hands on mommy’s diazepam (valium). But how does a 28-year-old, educated man accidentally overdose himself? Perhaps Ledger was a sleepwalker and double or triple-dosed himself without even knowing it. Or maybe there’s more to the story – a conspiracy of the magnitude that still surrounds Marilyn Monroe.

Ooops. I accidentally poured myself another cup of coffee. Call 911.

And as if that’s not a plausible cause for a Hollywood celeb’s death, Mommy Spears is now claiming that her daughter, Britney, has been “controlled” by drugs dispensed by Brit’s manager, Sam Lutfi.  Sam, allegedly, ground up pills and mixed the concoctions into Britney’s food.

The combination of prescription drugs that Britney Spears’ mother claims were ground up in the singer’s food was a risky mix that could cause hysterical outbursts, agitation, creepy hallucinations, even a stroke, medical experts told ABCNEWS.com.

Creepy.

I’m not a fan of Britney Spears, never have been, but if this starlet’s business manager was truly doping her as a way to control her situation, he should be sent to Quantico, jailed and tortured with the members of the Taliban that military forces have managed to capture.

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New movie releases that only open in New York and LA often get ignored in fly-over states like Minnesota. But if there’s a movie to keep on the radar this fall, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” sounds like the one.

Reviews such as this one in The New York Times, make me jittery to see this film. Directed by Sidney Lumet, who happens to be an octagenerian (and who also happens to have directed 40-plus movies in the past 50 years), “Before…” is an all-in-the-family crime-gone-wrong story. The trailer sucked me in. The cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, and Albert Finney to name a few. And yes, Hoffman plays the bad seed…the provoker. His ability with characters such as the one in this movie always make viewers despise him…in a good way.

BTDKYD

Those getting sneak peeks at the film are saying Lumet has hit his prime…in his senior years. If you don’t know, Lumet also directed such films as Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Prince of The City. “Before the Devil…” may just make him a household name.

Interestingly, several years ago The NY Times ran a piece about Elmore Leonard and his 10 Tips on Writing. In that piece, Leonard suggests that if a writer must provide detailed descriptions about characters, he or she isn’t doing his job. Liken that to this line written in The NY Times review of “Before the Devil…”:

Andy and Hank are not explained, dissected or excused. They speak their lines and carry out their actions, and, by the time the film is over, we know them inside and out.

Seems like Lumet and Leonard are on the same page.

I’ll be seeing this film.

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Ten Favorite Movies

I enjoy movies. Even in single life, I don’t hesitate to hit the theatre on my own. I can sit where I want, no one is in whispering (too loudly) in my ear asking, “what happened,” and there’s no sharing of popcorn. 

There are two movies I plan to see this weekend, in fact: Michael Clayton and Gone Baby Gone

So while I’m thinking about movies and the few DVDs I have actually bought, it became apparent that I have a list of favorites. These are the movies I enjoyed from the onset – and the ones I’ll watch when I find myself scanning the cable channels on a Sunday afternoon. They’re worthy of sitting through even if it means TV edits and commercial interruptions (and even though I have several in my DVD library).

1. Unforgiven.  Clint Eastwood directed and starred in this throwback western with Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman. I’m a huge fan of Clint and he nailed this role of good guy gone bad ass (again) even against his better judgment.

2. Memento. This is a must own movie because it’s one you have to watch at least 10 times to get. I’m still watching it and figuring out the nuances of a killer script and so many twists it numbs the mind.

3. Meet Joe Black. Claire Forlani, Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins in a story about love, life, death and taxes.  Actually, it’s really about life and making the most of it. 

4. Serendipity. The title says it all. John Cusak always portrays the every day guy in a way that seems so…every day. Kate Beckinsdale plays the superstitious, but amazingly likable love interest.

5. Platoon. Oliver Stone has several productions that could make my Top 10 list, but this one stands out due to a great cast and the human trauma about Vietnam that is captured so well.

6. Rear Window.  Not sure when I first saw Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but I never get tired of watching the movie. Maybe it’s the innuendo that exists between Stewart and Grace Kelly. Maybe it’s the way Raymond Burr stares eerily into the camera.

7. Finding Neverland. If you haven’t seen Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet in this remarkable movie about playwright J.M. Barrie (who would go on to write Peter Pan), you’ve missed one of Depp’s best films. I could have placed Pirate’s of the Caribbean on this list, but that’s too obvious.

8. Once Upon a Time in Mexico. This is simply a fun and well directed movie with some action, a plot and cool filmography.

9. The Departed. I’ve only seen this recent movie once, but there are parts of it that are still fresh in my mind (like the elevator descent when Damon has finally caught de Caprio only to get totally smoked when the doors open). Martin Sheen is also in this movie and I’ve liked Martin Sheen for a variety of reasons.

10. Million Dollar Baby.  The 10th movie is always the hardest to list. I could go on listing another 10 or 20 movies (like Dances with Wolves, Mulholland Drive, A Bridge Too Far, Seven, China Syndrome and others), but I’ll end with Million Dollar Baby because it’s Eastwood and Freeman (again!) in a story that has so much heartache and realness. No wonder it won an Oscar.

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