MOVIES I'VE SEEN LATELY...

I guess I've been watching a lot of movies lately, huh?

He's Just Not That Into You: Coming out around Valentine's Day is always pretty genius for a romantic comedy, but this one may be detrimental to a couple. It's really about the troubles of dating and relationships in general, but done in a comedic way. We caught a free screening of this, so it made those issues a little more manageable. I also found myself not hating the movie as well, contrary to the reviews. (shocking!) It's far from perfect, but the characters have enough in their compromised screen times to make it work. Everyone was pretty relatable, as I saw a little of myself in most of them. I'm not sure how much I can recommend it, but there are worse movies in this genre to be caught watching. ;)

Coraline: This is more of a partial review, as I completely fell asleep for the middle of the film. I'll give a more proper review when the DVD is released. I definitely liked everything I saw. It's visually pretty amazing, and the story is imaginative enough to draw you in. We saw it in 3D, so there's that aspect of it that is interesting, and I actually jumped during one scene where I thought a flock of birds had flown into the theater. However awesome that was, I did feel that the 3D glasses took away from some the film's colors. I guess I can check that theory when the DVD is released as well. One last thing I want to comment on was Dakota Fanning's voice for Coraline, and the overall character design itself. The latter was a thing of beauty, with some fantastic expressions, which was really lit up by Fanning's voice acting. It was a pretty natural marriage. Anyways, to be continued...

Black Sheep: I first heard of this indie horror movie from New Zealand during the Tribecca Film Festival a couple of years back. I really wanted to go see it, but it never happened. Once it came out on DVD I put it on my queue, but never moved it up.Well, it finally made it to the top, and I am happy to report it was amazing! Why? Why, you say? Well, let me tell you... Black Sheep is a tongue in cheek horror farce about...bloodthirsty mutant sheep! That's why! I mean, they literally had me at "bloodthirsty mutant sheep", but add in the tongue in cheek factor, and you have perfection in my eyes. It's like Dead Alive or Undead in that way. So if you like those kinds of movies, please rent this! I mean it's a movie about crazy sheep! WTF?! That's ballsy! Ooooh, and human were-sheep!!! You need nothing else, go now. Sheep it up!!!

RocknRolla: After making the very interesting, but a bit too complex Revolver, Guy Ritchie returns with the super awesome good time of a crime movie, RocknRolla! With all his signature character types, music savvy, and interlocking storytelling, Ritchie has achieved near genre perfection with this flick. All of these elements combine into one slickly entertaining film that dazzles till the end. I loved pretty much every moment of it. I could tell you more, but I feel good enough to just end it there, just see it.

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels: Speaking of the director, I've seen bits and pieces of Guy Ritchie's first movie over the years, but funny enough it took me two viewings to see it completely this time around, too. While it's not a bad movie at all, I think I can safely say I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I thought I would. It's a bit disjointed, and while you can see where he's headed, overall it lacks that Ritchie wit that I've come to love. The musical ques are phenomenal though, and the ending is quite good. It's not a bad movie at all, and was a pretty solid debut, so there's that.

The French Connection 2: Crazy as it may sound, I liked the sequel to the classic more than the classic! The beauty of this movie is that Gene Hackman's character, Popeye Doyle, is taken out of his element and placed into Marseilles, France. And like the first film, the city plays a huge role as well. The dynamic works in an incredible awkwardness that supplies a ton of atmosphere that looms over the entire film. It's much more brutal and raw than the first one as Doyle continues his hunt for the criminal mastermind Charnier. There's such a desperation to Doyle's plight that it makes your skin crawl as he struggles to understand his French counterparts while trying to get his man. Hackman is just as gritty and intense as he was in the first part, and in my opinion, deserved an Oscar for his performance. This is a fantastic movie that all lovers of the French Connection, and film in general, should see.

Latitude Zero: While classic Godzilla director, the late great Ishiro Honda has made many fantastic movies outside of that series. This one, unfortunately, isn't one of them. It's a sci-fi tale about a hi-tech submarine and its crew that operate out of a secret Utopian society. Opposing them is a mad scientist (Cesar Romero!) who is trying to...well, I'm not sure what he's trying to do actually, but he's surgically creating an army of hybrid beasts to do it with! Among those creations are some bat men and a winged lion with the brains of his failed captain! When he kidnaps a famous scientist and his daughter, the good guys, along with two scientists and a reporter from the real world, set off to get them back! High adventure ensues, really bad high adventure. The effects are not good in this one, as they were in many of Toho's movies around this time. Even the great Akira Ifukube's score seems uninspired. Admittedly, there are plenty of great elements here, but it just doesn't work. Oh well.

District B13: This movie should've been on the last Movies I've Seen Lately... but I somehow forgot it. That's not to say this was a bad movie, as it's actually quite entertaining. It's like an old 80's action movie with new fighting techniques, and that to me wins. Utilizing the new martial art, Parkour, and its inventor, the movie takes place in a slightly futuristic Paris in which the horrible blockaded neighborhood of B13 is being threatened by a nuke with a timer that's been set off. In come two men to stop it, one a special French agent, the best of the best, and the other, a man from the streets of B13, whose sister is a slave of the local drug lord, who also has the bomb in his possession. It's a completely action packed movie, and I highly recommend it to all action nuts. The plot is thin, but who gives a flying, well you know.

The Pixar Story: A fascinating view of the world of Pixar from the very beginning, a beginning that I hadn't a clue about, to tell you the truth. I was shocked to see how long this studio has been developing and working together. I'm a huge fan of Pixar's movies, as they have proven to be not only at the top of the animation field, but also are pretty high at the top of the story field as well. They guys are just masters of these crafts, and this wonderful documentary just shows every aspect of that. I respected them before, but now that respect has reached a whole new level. I'm not sure if this doc is easily found, as it can only be watched as an instant download on Netflix. So for those that have that, get to it!

Toy Story 2: This was the only Pixar full length movie I hadn't seen, strange since I loved the first movie. Just slipped through the cracks I guess, but since watching the Pixar documentary, I really wanted to see this. As with all of the Pixars, it has one hell of a great story with the best animation out there. The story is a bigger adventure story than the first one, with some of the main characters, led by Buzz Lightyear, on a quest to find and bring home Woody, who had been stolen by an "evil" toy store owner/collector who needs Woody to complete his set of Woody's Gang toys and collectibles. The thing plays out as perfectly from there, as you would expect from Pixar. It's funny and emotional, and so well done. I'm constantly amazed with these guys, and I'm looking forward to their next movie, Up.

MY PICK: Overall, I think the two sequels, Toy Story 2 and the French Connection 2, are the best of this bunch, however, for something new, I'd recommend RocknRolla and Black Sheep; although I seriously doubt some of you would like the latter. So, even though I spent the least amount of words on it, my pick is definitely RocknRolla. It's a hell of a fun movie. Rent it tonight!