Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Good Shepherd is recommended

Matt Damon was incredible in The Good Shepherd.  He's actually acting, and it's amazing (not that he doesn't usually act, but, he's just not acting like he does a lot of the time).

Angelina Jolie, on the other hand, looks like a brittle 80-year-old woman the whole movie.  She really can't pull off 18, or 'interesting.'

Anyway, the movie is awesome.  The man on which the movie was based was actually 100% weirder than Matt Damon's character.  It was cool to kinda see the genesis of the CIA.
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Friday, October 05, 2007

The Abandoned is recommended

The Abandoned is a great horror movie.  I just asked Andrew what he thought (without him knowing I'm typing it up):
Actually scary.  Well acted.  There weren't too many ghosts.
I agree.
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Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Good German is recommended

I hear that The Good German got really bad reviews.  I'm not sure why.  I loved this movie.  I usually like Steven Soderbergh's movies (the director).  And I can't get enough George Clooney and/or Kate Blanchett.

I feel like I should say something about World War II or war or something, but I'm too tired.  Not tired-tired, but tired of war, tired of being mad, tired of caring.  America isn't the only country (I mistyped company ... which isn't far from the truth) full of people who have no qualms about killing other people.  It happens all over the world, and it's happened throughout time.

Anyway, the movie gives you lots of things to think about with no real answers nor clear-cut value judgments.
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Fountain is recommended

The Fountain was incredible.  Although it's strange around the edges ... the subject matter addresses the heart of the human condition: someday each of us will have to deal with death, if not that of one we love, then our own.  This movie offers no answers, but it does lead you through an emotional landscape that spans time and space.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Last Winter is recommended

On Saturday we drove up to New York to see The Last Winter at the IFC Theater.  It was the only sucky, rainy day in weeks.  We drove up in the driving rain thinking the whole time that we should have turned back.  But we didn't.  Eventually, it stopped raining, but the sun never did come out.

Larry Fessenden, the director, was there to introduce the movie at it's New York Premiere ... but he (mysteriously) wasn't able to stay for the Q&A afterwards.  We were pretty disappointed, especially since we spent the first half of the day wet from the knees down and the second half of the day carrying around wet umbrellas just because we came up to see his movie ... but we aren't going to hold it against him.

The Last Winter is a great horror movie.  It's heavy on the character development, lets the horrors creep into the movie, and ties everything together with a socially conscious theme.  It was beautifully shot, which is saying a lot when most of your "set" is snow for as far as the eye can see.

[photo taken 9/22/2007 in New York with Andrew's cell phone]
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ocean's Thirteen is recommended

Ocean's Thirteen is a movie about the joy of doing something well.  Not only is that the theme of the movie, but the movie itself is the product of a job well done.  It's fun, it's well-crafted, and it's recommended. :)
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pulse is recommended

We saw Pulse in June ... so my memory is a little hazy on this one.  It's a Japanese horror film.  I remember a lot of bits and pieces, which is more than I can say for most other movies, so at least it stuck with me.

OK, I just read some of the reviews on IMDB and I'm remembering more.  It's a very creepy, scary, weird, and beautiful movie.  I loved it. :)
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Monday, September 17, 2007

Wait Until Dark is recommended

Wait Until Dark is a 1967 thriller starring Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman and Alan Arkin as a cold-blooded killer.  It was a lot more violent and dark than I expected.  Both Audrey and Alan are amazing.  I've been in love with Alan since Little Miss Sunshine.

Strange that Andrew picked this movie with the Casino Royale film from the video store, because the director also directed Dr. No and two other Bond films.

Also, I had no idea that Audrey Hepburn wasn't American.  She was actually a witness to Nazi atrocities in Holland as a young girl (10-15).  You really should read about it.
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Casino Royale is recommended

Casino Royale is a unique and amazing James Bond movie.  I've already mentioned my love of the books.  Did I ever tell you my parent's first date was to see Dr. No?  Well, it was.  Anyway, me and James ... we go way back.

Daniel Craig made an amazing Bond.  AMAZING!  And, Eva Green, who we loved in French movie The Dreamers, was incredible as well.  Not your typical gadget and slick get-away Bond movie.
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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wreckmeister Harmonies is recommended

Wreckmeister Harmonies is teetering on the edge of "too effing arty."  However, I'll go ahead and recommend it, because it really had me thinking and feeling.  I was totally engaged (when I wasn't asking Andrew why the hell the close-up take of the two dudes walking needed to last 5 effing minutes.).

I'm still not sure how I feel about "effing" as opposed to "fucking."  Just today I saw f'n, which might be closer to what I mean.  If I was talking to you, I'd use the whole word ... but in writing, it can sometimes look way more coarse than I mean it.  It's hard to ignore when you write it, but when your talking, an fuck here and there will sometimes go unnoticed.  Anyway, I reserve the right to mix it up f-wise around here from time to time.
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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Suspira is recommended

Suspiria is a weird movie from 1977 by Dario Argento.  He was going for a cinematic version of a nightmare, so plot, naturalism, and sense is almost nonexistent.  There are some creepy, strange moments.  I'd never thought about what it would be like to jump into a room full of rolls of barbed wire ...

The best part is the art direction.  I want the set designer to do the interior of our apartment!  You could describe it as vampire art-deco.   So awesome.  In fact, some of the insane wall paper looks like current Alexander Henry Fabric prints, especially  this one.
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Monday, August 20, 2007

The Lookout is recommended

The Lookout is a great movie.  I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was also the main guy from Brick (a movie I also loved) and the kid from the TV show Third Rock From The Sun.  It's a heist movie, but you wouldn't really notice it because the director/writer keeps you so interested in the characters.  Tons of great actors are in the movie: Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode (Match Point) , and Isla Fisher (Borat's girlfriend, really, she's great!).

[photo taken Philadelphia in 7/14/2007]
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Straight Story is recommended

The night after we watched this movie, I said to Andrew, "The Straight Story was strangely heartwarming."  He said he should get a tape recorder because he'd probably never hear me say that again.

And, it *was* strangely heartwarming.  David Lynch made a heartwarming movie.  Why?  Because his long-time girlfriend wrote it.  That is the only explanation.  But he does the movie justice, in spite of it's warm-fuzzy heart.  Sometimes I feel like David Lynch could look into my heart and explain me better than I could.

David Lynch's movies are amazing.  I also recommend his book Catching The Big Fish about meditation.  Andrew bought it for me.  I don't, however, recommend his brand of meditation, which requires a layout of several thousand dollars.  Meditation is free for all, and all you need to know is right here on Dr. Herbert Benson's site (not that I'm endorsing him, but his research and steps seem pretty straight forward - and I always tend toward a secular solution).

I'd thought that it was a documentary ... but it's merely based on fact.  I was happy to see Harry Dean Stanton.  He rocks.

[photo taken in 2004 in Montreal]
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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bourne Ultimatum is recommended

I loved The Bourne Ultimatum.  The direction was phenomenal.  I was a big sucker for the James Bond books in my early twenties, and Bourne is like a kick-ass updating with better car chases.  Plus Matt Damon is cute.

We actually saw it last weekend.  I was worried about opening weekend crowds, but the theater was less than half full ... thank goodness.  I think it was the first film in YEARS where I didn't hear the people around me talking.  The movie is pretty loud, so maybe that helped.  The guy next to me did have some obnoxious cologne on, though.
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Friday, July 27, 2007

Zodiac is recommended

I really liked Zodiac.  Jake Gyllenhaal is great.  Robert Downey Jr. is also wonderful, and he steals every scene he's in:
Robert: Jesus Herald Christ on rubber crutches! You're doing that thing again. That thing I hate... starts with an L...

Jake: Looming?
I can't hold the slick production and star-studded cast against the movie (which I normally would), because the script and the acting is amazing.  David Fincher (director of Se7en,  Fight Club, Panic Room ...) was the perfect director for this story.  His use of lighting, color, and camera angle (and everything else) perfectly conveys each scenes' particular vibe.  Even day's later, the story is still resonating with me.

Plus, I'm totally fascinated by serial killers.  It probably has a lot to do with being a 16-year-old when Ted Bundy was caught.  I was working at B. Dalton.  I sat at the cash register reading all the True Crime books about him.  When they finally fried him when I was around 23, I slept just a little better.

Actually, I'm fascinated by anyone who does heinous stuff.  I don't think people like that are crazy.  It's dismissive and dangerous to deny that darkness/evil/bad stuff is a natural and normal part of humanity. Some people just do bad things ... just like some people do good things.  It's all normal - or - nothing is normal - same thing.  People like to deny that dark part of humanity ("no one could do something like that ..."), but I think that we'd be much safer if we'd acknowledge it, because then maybe we'll be prepared if we ever have to face it personally.

Knock wood that I don't.

[photo taken 7/25/2007 in Philadelphia]
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Dirty Carnival is recommended

South Korea rocks the house once again with A Dirty Carnival.  This is a great gangster movie.  I particularly liked the fight sequences.  These particular gangs fight with knives and just maim each other.  It's considered bad form to actually kill a rival gangster.  There are lots of torturous hamstringing* and stuff.

The movie was a lot of fun, there was a movie within the movie and a good kid/bad kid from the neighborhood relationship.  Pretty typical stuff, but done very well.

* From, "to disable by cutting the hamstring or hamstrings; cripple."
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Living And The Dead is recommended

Here are a couple words about The Living And The Dead:  Amazing. Creepy. Uncomfortable. Weird. Wonderful.

The Director and DP did a Q&A after the movie.  We learned that the estate where they filmed was mostly unaltered from it's current state for the movie.  Everything about the movie was well done.
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Friday, April 27, 2007

Cruel Winter Blues is recommended

Cruel Winter Blues is an awesome movie.  It incorporates all the gangster-y goodness of an Asian ganster film with a warm and touching story.  Well ... warm and touching in the context of gangsters.

A ton of wonderful films have come from South Korea over the last several years.  I can't think of a South Korean film that we've seen that has been anything but spectacular.
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Severance is recommended

I've seen ads for Severance, so it looks like it's going to get a wide release.  It totally should because it's a great horror/comedy.  Scary and funny.  Perfect.  It was a huge crowd pleaser at the Film Festival.

Here's about all you need to know: "A team-building weekend in the mountains of Eastern Europe goes horribly wrong ..." and "Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, drug content and some sexuality/nudity"
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Red Road is recommended

I really liked Red Road.  I think it obliquely addressed issues of privacy (or lack thereof) while still presenting an engaging story.  I was a little disappointed with the ending.  I don't want to give away too much, but I appreciate a dark movie that follows through to the bitter end and doesn't have everything come up sunshine and roses.

It's the same kind of wuss-out ending that The Woodsman had. Come on!  There are bad people in the world - they don't all end up being redeemed in the end.  Both of these movies explored deep dark places of the human psyche and then tacked on a Disney ending.  Argh!

I still recommend it, though.  But just by a hair.  I like to imagine the movie ended differently. :)
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Monday, April 23, 2007

End Of The Line is recommended

In End Of The Line Fundamentalist Christians get a message on their pagers to let them know the end is nigh.  So, of course, they need to "save" the earth by killing everyone (if you are left alive after the battle [is the movie referring to Rapture or Armageddon?] then you go to hell, so if they kill you, you're saved).

The bulk of the movie takes place on the subway and in subway tunnels.  The movie is low budget and campy, but there are some genuine scares and interesting characters.  It's as much fun as you might imagine (if you imagine movies involving murderous, culty Christians would be fun).  The whole theater was whooping it up.

[photo taken around 2001 of Church Street Station, San Francisco]
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Uro is recommended

Uro is an awesome Norwegian film.  Uro is the name of Norway's elite drug enforcement patrol.  The movie focuses on one officer, HP, who makes the absolute worst decision at every turn.  Every time he'd make a choice, I was thinking, "What? Oh, please turn back now.  Please!"  The movie is exciting, interesting, and well filmed.  I loved it.

[photo taken 1/7/2007 in Philadelphia]
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Friday, April 20, 2007

Invisible Waves is recommended

I was so engrossed in the visual beauty of Invisible Waves* that I only noticed the gaping plot holes after it was over. I'm still recommending it, despite the crap plot, because it was so so beautifully shot.  But, ugh, I'm in no hurry to visit Phuket or Hong Kong.

* The IMDb plot summary states, "After inadvertently killing his girlfriend ..." I'm not sure what movie they were watching, because the killing is anything but inadvertent.

[photo taken 2/11/2007 in Atlantic City, NJ]
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Ten is recommended

We decided to go to the opening night movie of Philadelphia Film Festival since it was "free" with our passes.  The Ten is what you'd get if you took Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, and The State* and mixed them up in a blender.  This kind of comedy probably isn't going to play well in middle America ... I'll admit that I'm not always a big fan of Brooks and Allen, either.

The movie is composed of ten parts (skits?) with each cooresponding to one of the Commandments.  With a mini drama playing out in between them.

The all-star cast was awesome:  Liev Schreiber (with a real, bushy mustache), Famke Janssen (I want her hair!), and Rob Corddry (from The Daily Show).  Justin Theroux was completely unrecognizable as Jesus (yes, that Jesus).  Justin was in David Lynch's Mullholland Drive, where he played a movie director.

After the movie there was Q&A with David Wain, Paul Rudd, Michael Ziegfeld, and Zach Page.  It was pretty funny since David Wain and Paul Rudd were cracking jokes the whole time.

* The State was a sketch comedy show on MTV in the 90's (that I never watched).  A lot of them are now in Reno 911 on Comedy Central (which I've seen several times and love).
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Friday, March 23, 2007

Boondock Saints is recommended

I mentioned that I liked Willem Dafoe to a co-worker and she asked if I'd ever seen Boondock Saints.  I hadn't even heard of it.  Then she said there was a really great actor in the movie ... we looked it up on imdb and she was talking about Norman Reedus.  It was totally weird that she brought him up since we'd just seen Cigarette Burns.

Boondock Saints is a fun movie.  It's a little over the top sometimes and the ending seems a little rushed, but I enjoyed it.
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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cigarette Burns is recommended

Cigarette Burns is one of the episodes of Masters of Horror series on Showtime.  We rented it on DVD.  This one is directed by John Carpenter.

We watched all the extras and the commentary by John Carpenter.  They were great.  John is totally no-bullshit.  He's hilarious, warm, and honest.

Udo Kier is freaky and amazing in this movie.  When you watch the extras, you see how absolutely nutball crazy he is and how that translates into his wonderfully "over the top but it still works" acting. I also loved Norman Reedus.  His acting is very natural and immediate.

This episode is great on so many levels.  I watched the scene of Udo showing the "creature" to Norman at least 6 times ... Udo is such a crack up!
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

11:14 is recommened

11:14 is super-fun.  It was fast paced, full of clues, and utterly ridiculous.  I really don't know how this one got passed me.  I never heard a thing about it.  I mentioned it at work, and someone had just rented it on a whim and she loved it, too.  Patrick Swayze is a hilarious dad.

[photo taken 2004 in Philadelphia]
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Illusionist is recommended

The Illusionist is very well done - beautifully shot and well acted.  It doesn't hurt that I have a soft spot for Edward Norton.  My favorite corridor in the movie is the antler and animal stuffed hallway of the Prince's castle.  Watching the commentary, we learned that nothing (nothing!) was added to the corridor.  It was the hunting lodge of Franz Ferdinand (yes, that one - not the band) and those are all animals he killed.  After his death, they hung his death mask, that of his wife, and the bullets that killed them on the wall.  How macabre and totally awesome.
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Monday, February 19, 2007

The Exorcist is recommeded

We watched The Exorcist on AMC DVD_TV where they pop up stuff at the bottom of the screen while you watch, like trivia and information.  It made watching it again a lot of fun.  It's like commentary track where you can still hear the movie.  Plus, I always like seeing Max von Sydow.
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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hamlet is recommended

Michael Almereyda's Hamlet (2000) is wonderful.  Julia Stiles and Liev Schreiber play a brother and sister, which is funny since they were married in Omen 2006.  Bill Murray doing Shakespeare is as hilarious as you'd imagine.  He is perfect.  Coop (Kyle MacLachlan) is in this one, too.  As is Sam Shepard, playwright extrodinaire.  I almost peed myself when we spotted Larry Fessenden in the crowd shot in a scene at a dance club.  I am super impressed with this adaptation of the play.  I really enjoyed it.
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Friday, February 16, 2007

Fist Full of Dollars is recommended

I love movies with Clint Eastwood, and Fist Full of Dollars is no exception.  This is one of Sergio Leone's awesome westerns that has a bizarre and wonderful score by Ennio Morricone.  The story is based on Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo.  Last Man Standing (1996), with Bruce Willis, is based on the same story and is recommended.

My favorite moment was when one of the character's laughed and something inside my brain snapped.  What!?  It was the laugh that starts the Ministry song "You Know What You Are."  I always love it when I accidentally encounter a Ministry sample.
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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Toolbox Murders is recommended

Toolbox Murders (2004) is an awesome horror movie.  Super scary and gory.  From the director of Poltergiest and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Coogan's Bluff is recommended

Clint Eastwood is awesome in Coogan's Bluff.  This 1968 movie has Clint playing an Arizona cop, who is sent to New York to collect a prisoner.  It's a lot of fun. Seymour Cassel, an awesome actor who was delightful in The Life Aquatic, has a small part as a young hood.
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Monday, February 05, 2007

Requiem is recommended

Requiem (2006, Germany) is an excellent exorcism movie.  It's more intellectual than horror.  I like that it side-steps the whole issue of whether or not the possession is real by just not showing you what she sees.  Because the movie wasn't full of cheesy demons, the focus is on the characters, which is always more interesting than bad computer graphics.
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Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Devil In Daniel Johnston is recommended

The Devil in Daniel Johnston is a well done and interesting documentary.  But, the movie put a burr behind my eye, as my Grandmother used to say. Actually two burrs.


Daniel Johnston is a highly disturbed individual that is used by people to his detriment for their financial enrichment.

They don't disclose Daniel's diagnosis in the movie, but I don't think it's necessary to know exactly what is wrong with him for the purposes of this post. What is clear, is that the guy can't function day-to-day without supervision.  He's damaged on a deep, fundamental level.

Sure, he's raw.  Sure, he's got ambition.  Sure, he's prolific and driven, and his lyrics sometimes have a sweet simplicity that is difficult to achieve. But, at what point does your parading around of this guy (I'm looking at you, music industry and fine art dealers) go from celebrating him to exhibiting him like some lucrative sideshow freak?

Shame on you.  I think you've done more harm to him than his flaws, whatever they may be.


I don't think Daniel Johnston has a sliver of talent (well, maybe just a sliver) and that makes his exploitation all the more painful to me.  Just because you walk around saying you're a chicken, doesn't make you a chicken -- even if other people say you are a chicken, too.  I feel like I'm on crazy pills.  The guy's music isn't great.  The guy's art isn't great.  Am I alone here?
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Fifth Element is recommended

I love The Fifth Element.  It's a fun sci-fi movie with costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier. Gary Oldman plays an evil Texas businessman. He is one of my all-time favorite actors and even if he's in a crappy movie (i.e. Lost in Space, Air Force One) I will pay hard-earned money to see it (or at least watch it on cable).  Luckily, this isn't a crappy movie.

We saw half of Blade Runner the day after this, and I loved seeing all the things that The Fifth Element borrowed from it.  That would be an homage, right? ... not plagiarism.
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Monday, January 29, 2007

The Exorcist III is recommeded

The Exorcist III is recommended.  I was totally surprised that this movie was so good, because I heard that The Exorcist II was crappy.  I'd watch it again just for the creepy hospital scissors. Schnip!!! Those things give shivers just thinking about them ... like fingernails on the chalkboard.  Super creepy and very scary.

[photo taken 11/26/2006 in Philadelphia]
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Edmond is recommended

Edmond is not for the easily offended or the faint-of-heart. On Amazon, there are two kinds of reviews: (1) this is worse than crap, and (2) this is the most sublime cinema.  It's a polarizing kind of movie.  Somewhere I read that it's "controversial and provocative."  I agree and can appreciate those qualities.

It's written by David Mamet, an American playwright and screen writer responsible for movies such as Glengarry Glen Ross.  That was my first exposure to Mamet.  I was smitten.  I particularly like the words he chooses ... what has become known as Mametspeak.  Mamet's dialogue sparkles like a diamond that is just about to cut you.  Sparkly and dangerous.

Other Mamet movies that I love are Spartan, Heist, State and Main, Wag the Dog, American Buffalo, and House of Games.

Edmond isn't always pleasant to watch, because it's not supposed to be.  It's difficult to empathize with the characters, because they are unlikable.  At times, the movie made me very uncomfortable, which I suspect was on purpose.  These things don't make a movie bad.

[photo taken 1-10-2007 in Philadelphia]
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Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Woods is recommended

The Woods features young girls going to a private school in the spooky woods.  More often than not, a movie with this description would be made for teenagers and be sorta dumb, but The Woods was great.  We took a chance on it because the director, Lucky McKee, also made May, an excellent horror movie that I recommend.  The acting in the movie is good - I especially like the headmistress of the school, Patricia Clarkson and the main girl actor, Agnes Bruckner.

[photo taken 1-7-2007 in Philadelphia]
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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Chilidren of Men is recommended

I like to go to movies knowing nothing about them.  Maybe just their name.  That is one of my favorite things to do.  Luckily, Andrew is the movie picker, so I usually don't know anything about the movie.

So, yesterday I only knew that the movie was named Children of Men, and I vaguely remembered seeing the poster for it with dirty children sitting against the wall.  When we got there, the poster is actually of Clive Owen (awesome!). I also found out it was a sci-fi movie (what?).  I have no idea which movie has the dirty children poster.  Maybe we'll see that one next.

Anyway, Children of Men was directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also directed Y tu mamá también (And your mother too), which we loved.  Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine, some of my favorite actors, are in the movie, and they are all great.  Especially Julianne.  She is usually cast as a fragile whack-job, but not this time, and she really pulled it off.

I don't really know what to say about it.  There is something unspeakably touching about the movie (but not in a heartwarming, fluffy kitten kind of way).

[photo taken 6-11-2006 in New York]
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