MOVIES I'VE SEEN "LATELY..."

"Lately…" being over the last 3 months! Sheesh, I'll try to keep these shorter, but you may need popcorn for this anyway. Oh, and I think I've only been to the movies three times in the past couple of months, and once was a free screening, and another time for an old favorite Times sure have changed, huh? Crazy. Anyways, at the end of this I've got a new feature, so give it a check.

Tropic Thunder: This movie is really the Robert Downey Jr. show, with everyone else taking a back seat to his hysterical performance. The dude's been on fire this year. Anyway, the movie is funny, but not overwhelmingly so. I just expected to laugh a little harder than I did given the cast. Tom Cruise's part is pretty good though, go figure.

Appaloosa: Could've been a good western, but Renee Zellweger stunk up the screen big time. I wanted to shoot her myself. It sucks because Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen were excellent, and played off each other very well. The supporting cast is solid, as well as the actual story, but man that woman ruined it. Grrr!

Marie Antoinette: Ugh. This movie goes nowhere. Nice style, music, great costumes, but that's it. I give props to Sofia Coppola for trying something a tad different with the subject matter, but I can only give so much.

Yellow Brick Road: A feel good documentary about a group of mentally challenged folks putting on a performance of The Wizard of Oz. It's very well done, and better than I expected. You really feel for everyone involved.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay: A fun sequel, and one that compares favorably to the first movie. Not that the first set the bar that high or anything, but this was just as fun I thought. Of course, Doogie Howser steals the show here as well.

Penelope: I can't recall if I've mentioned this before, but I dig Christina Ricci. I like the way she acts, and it don't hurt that she's a cutey. She gives a nice cutesy performance in this fairy tale about a girl with a cursed pig nose, and her quest to find her true love which will break it. Nothing groundbreaking or anything, but pretty OK for a rental.

The Hitcher: Another OK for a rent movie. This one being on the thriller/horror side. BTW, can anyone tell me the difference between the genres?! Anyways, Sean Bean is real good in the title role of this remake. He's brutal and relentless, but sly and witty. The movie itself is not without its problems, but get it for him.

War In Space: Bad, bad, Toho sci-fi flick from the 70's. The company had exhausted its Godzilla franchise for the first time (of 3), and so they were struggling to get something together. Sci-fi was pretty big at that point, but this is one hell of clunker. It's cheap and crappy all around. Skip it, even if you are an enthusiast.

Dead Fish: I may not be a big Italian Mafia movie fan, but I sure as hell love tales of the London Underworld. This is a fun movie with Gary Oldman leading the cast as a hitman who falls for a girl that wants nothing to do with him, and of her boyfriend's flight from both the mob and other crazies he owes money too. All the plot lines converge at the end, naturally. Good, fun cast with all kinds of eclectic characters.

Frida: This was a damn good bio pic about the Mexican painter and her struggles in both the art world and a changing Mexico. The cast, direction, and cinematography are all excellent. The problem I have with alot of bio pics is their lack of a good story arc, this movie, however, doesn't have that. It flows very well right to the end. It's probably the best acting Salma Hayek has done too, and Alfred Molina is really fantastic as well.

Starbucking: The subject matter of a guy on a quest to hit every Starbucks ever isn't bad, especially considering he's not the most stable of people, but the doc itself is terrible. I was into this for like a second, then blah. Bad job keeping my interest, documentarian.

The Fountain: Darren Aronofsky's 3rd movie centers on the notion that love is everlasting, but it comes across more as love equals everlasting pain and suffering. Don't get me wrong it's a pretty decent movie, but the movie's message is muddled, and the story is too vague to really get the point across. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weiz are both good in the lead roles, but the story is so bleak you almost dread the resolve of their arcs. And truly it was a thing of dread. It's a beautifully shot film, and Aronofsky is definitely creative, but I was left abit unsatisfied, although I can talk at length about the story. Maybe that was his point.

Baby Mama: I'm a fan of both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and I loved their time together on the Weekend Update segments of SNL, so I was really looking forward to this. Well, its a decent enough laughter, but falls short on really utilizing their talents, so it's overall a tad disappointing. It's fine for rental though, so enjoy.

The Colossus of Rhodes: The next two come from directors I love, but are both horrendous. First, Sergio Leone's first film, the swords and sandals pic The Colossus of Rhodes. I really could not get through the first 30 minutes of this slow, boring, terrible movie. It's no wonder that film historians seem to erase this one from Leone's otherwise unblemished record.

Ghosts of Mars: Next we have John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars, a by the numbers sci-fi action horror movie. You can tell Carpenter was completely burnt out by the time he got to this one as there is not one bit of freshness to it. He just grabbed elements from all his other movies and slapped them together. This movie has one of the worst last lines, if not the, ever.

Speed Racer: I had read all kinds of bad reviews for the Wachowskis latest, an update of the 60's anime series, but to hell with that! I loved every morsel of this film! It's like a super sugar sweet candy coated, adrenaline fueled, brain freeze! The actions and visuals are outstanding, and the story, while simple, is completely fine. It's really just an outline for all the coolness. Who cares about anything, just turn your brain off, and enjoy!

Black Snake Moan: I had no idea what I was getting into when I rented this, except for a half naked Christina Ricci and Sam Jackson looking like scruffy, grumpy old man . What I got was that and more. This is a pretty damn good movie with satisfying story arcs for both main characters, and even for some of the supporters. And yes, Christina Ricci half naked throughout most of it helps. Alot.

Run, Fatboy, Run: I really dug this one, and mostly because Simon Pegg is just one of the funniest SOBs working today. I've loved him in just about everything he's been in, mostly because he's pretty relatable, especially here. Sure, it's a typical feel good story, but it's got everything I love: a down on his luck protagonist, a dirty successful antagonist, an impossible goal, insurmountable odds, and the eventual amazing comeback. Loved it.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer: This is one hell of an original idea excellently brought to the screen by Run Lola Run's Tom Tykwer. This guy's got chops. Basically, it's about a very interesting serial killer during the French Revolutionary era, who really doesn't realize what he's doing because he's just following his hyper sensitive nose. Sounds weird? It gets more bizarre as it goes. I recommend this, because it's really different.

Lost in Translation: I finally got to see this movie, Sofia Coppola's movie prior to Marie Antoinette. I liked this one a lot more than that one, but it's still not great. Her stories seem to follow this pattern that isn't engrossing enough for me. Maybe she's trying to be too realistic, or maybe hyper sense of that, but it doesn't work for me at all. Still though, she's trying different approaches and that's commendable. Bill Murray is great as usual, but I'm starting to realize I don't Scarlett Johansson much as an actress.

You Don't Mess with the Zohan: This is an OK comedy, and like Baby Mama I felt that more could've been done given the materials to work with. The premise of an Israeli super agent becoming a hair stylist in NYC is perfect comedy fodder, but there wasn't enough done with Sandler's character once he gets to the States. I expected more super agenty stuff while he cut hair, like using special cutting techniques and stuff. It's not a bad rental though, so go ahead.

Ultraman Tiga/Ultraman Dyna: This was my first Ultraman experience ever, and I hated every moment of it. I've always shied away from Ultraman for some reason, maybe feeling loyalty to Godzilla and Gamera, but I was craving giant monster movies I hadn't seen so I popped this on my Netflix. It's from the late 90's, and if someone can tell me Ultraman is better than this, please do, because at this point I don't wanna see anything else from the series.

The Island: Pretty good sci-fi flick from Michael Bay. This is probably the first movie I watched after the last "Movies..." post, so it isn't so fresh in my mind, but I liked the premise enough. I guess I shouldn't spoil it, but it's a good movie, with maybe more meat than other Bay movies usually have. Give it a check if you haven't seen it.

Drillbit Taylor: Another comedy with potential that falls short, this one falling way short. This bully movie staring Owen Wilson has some fun moments, but overall it wasn't worth the time. It's basically just there.

Eagle vs. Shark: Onto movies I actually watched this weekend, finally. E vs S stars Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords and relative newcomer Loren Horsely as one very weird, and extremely awkward couple. While we watched it for Clement, Horsely completely steals this movie. It has a pretty sweet heart, and made me feel good. I recommend this movie.

Thumbsucker: This one had it's moments, and super fun supporting roles by Vince Vaughn, Benjamn Bratt, and especially Keanu Reeves, but overall ran abit long, and left me a bit unsatisfied. I mean it's good, but something about it didn't ring right with me in the end. I'm not gonna say not to see it, because it's worth it for the supporting spots, so give it a check, and let me know your thoughts.

MY PICK: Out of these reviews I really think you should see Perfume: The Story of a Murderer before anything else here. This movie is very different from the normal Hollywood fare, and is pretty excellent all around. It's definitely something to talk about at the water cooler. Put it on your Netflix now.

OK, I'm done, phew, you can go now. Go on now, go outside and play or something. (so what if it's raining!)