Friday, April 30, 2010

Song of the Day - Hazy Shade of Winter, The Bangles

One of the first songs I ever liked was this remake (starts at :26) of the Simon & Garfunkel classic. 23 years later it is still great. Also love these from the group: In Your Room, Manic Monday, Eternal Flame, and of course Walk Like An Egyptian.

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Recent Viewings

1. There Will Be Blood - Keeps getting better. I think most folks miss out on the fact that on some level Daniel is a sympathetic character. Favorite scenes right now are the two with the Standard Oil executive.

2. I Love You, Man - Hilarious and actually insightful. Rudd's a common man genius in this film. He's Tom Hanks' successor.

3. Gran Torino - Every idiot kid I see with skinny jeans needs to watch this over and over.

4. Hall of Presidents (Disneyworld) - This show and presentation have been updated with Barack Obama. The presentation is a GREAT retelling of American history. I was very excited to have my daughters watch it and soak up the greatness of the U-S-A.

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Movie Releases - 4/30/10

Nightmare on Elm Street

Jackie Earle Haley takes over the classic horror character Freddy Krueger in this update of the popular series. Should do huge business with the kids and the nostalgic 30-40 somethings. I've never bothered with any of the originals so why start now?

Furry Vengeance

Brendan Fraser fights off some wild animals when his company tries to build on their natural habitat. Brooke Shields stars as his wife and Kim Jeong spends his 15th minute of fame playing Fraser's boss. It looks like Old Dogs - without the fallen A-list talent.

Harry Brown

Michael Caine stars as the titular character who's out for revenge when a friend is murdered. Caine is said to be pretty great, taking on the young punks. In limited release.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cape Freaky

At De Niro's Tribeca Film Festival, he showed up for Metropia which showcases voicework by Juliette Lewis. This picture gives Cape Fear an extra level of creepy.Wonder if she sucked on his thumb later (again).

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Monday, April 26, 2010

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 4/27/10

Buddha - #
Disgrace - #
District 13: Ultimatum - #
Five Minutes of Heaven - #
Fugitive Kind (Criterion)
Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus - #
It's Complicated - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases.

Elizabeth - *
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
The Jackal
Out of Africa
Ride with the Devil (Criterion)
Traffic - *

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekend Box Office: 4/23-4/25/10

Once again, I couldn't bring myself to a weekend preview. It should be obvious why. J-Lo's artificial insemination rom-com was the biggest new release, followed by The Losers, a twisty, violent, revenge saga starring Chris Evans, Zoe Saldana, and Jason Patric. The best reviewed new film was Disney's Oceans, where the wonders of Planet Earth are again explored.


1. How to Train Dragon: 15 mil / -24% / 178 mil
2. Back-up Plan: 12.3 mil / (-)
3. Date Night: 10.6 mil / -37% / 63 mil
4. The Losers: 9.6 mil / (-)
5. Kick-Ass: 9.5 mil / -52% / 35 mil
6. Clash of the Titans: 9 mil / -42% / 146 mil
7. Death at a Funeral: 8 mil / -51% / 28 mil
8. Oceans: 6 mil / (-)
9. Last Song: 3.7 mil / -38% / 55 mil
10. Alice in W-Land: 2.2 mil / -40% / 327 mil

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Song of the Day - Head Full of Doubt,

Road Full of Promise

By The Avett Brothers

Priest posted their title track from their latest album a few months ago, but I came across this gem today. They sound like the second coming of The Band and have pretty great lyrics, too. Looks like I and Love and You will by my first album purchase since the Into the Wild soundtrack.

There's a darkness upon me that's flooded in light
In the fine print they tell me what's wrong and what's right
And it comes in black and it comes in white
And I'm frightened by those who don't see it

When nothing is old, deserved or expected
And your life doesn't change by the man that's elected
If you're loved by someone you're never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it.

There was a dream
One day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage a broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid, with a head full of doubt
So I scream till I die and don't ask for those bad thoughts to find me out

There's a darkness upon you that's flooded in light
In the fine print they tell you what's wrong and what's right
And it flies by day and it flies by night
And I'm frightened by those who don't see it

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Zodiac's Costume Design

I sleep with my two DVD copies of Zodiac every night.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Date Night - B+

In theaters. Rated PG-13, 88 minutes. Trailer.

A well-adjusted, successful married couple with children tries to liven up their regularly scheduled date night by going into Manhattan. After they take someone else's reservation at a trendy restaurant, they suffer a case of mistaken identity and it leads them on an unbelievably eventful and dangerous night. Even with stars like Tina Fey, Steve Carrell and Mark Wahlberg, I was skeptical going into this one. The premises is pretty dumb and nonsensical, but it ends up providing a serviceable vehicle for a steady stream of laughs. Click below for more DN:

Carrell and Fey have good chemistry and they do a good job of carrying the formulaic comedy with a 'message' about marriage. The jokes about children and married life work great and their interactions with the different characters in their adventure are universally good, especially the sequences with Wahlberg. Carrell's running gag with him about putting on a shirt are really funny. I thought the stick it out with marriage message was really good even though it was pretty simplistic.

The film is probably just a B for single people, but for those married couples with kids, this one is a bullseye. You'll laugh hard the whole time.
One reason I like Tina Fey so much is that projects she is involved in typically glorify responsible people and make fun of idiots - pretty much the opposite of all other entertainment. In this film the responsible married couple are the heroes, and those with the tattoos and making bad choices are called out for the same. A shockingly conservative film.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Eddie Vedder with Conan

Eddie crashed Conan's show in Seattle last night. Great set can be heard/seen here.

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases 4/20/10

Avatar - #
Crazy Heart - #
44 Inch Chest - #
The Lovely Bones - #
Summer Hours (Criterion) - #
Vivre sa vie (Criterion) - #
The Young Victoria - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

The Basketball Diaries
Battleship Potemkin - *
Fist of Legend
Minority Report - *

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor Approved

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Monday, April 19, 2010

SNL - 4/17/10 -Ryan Phillippe

A Larry King skit opened the show with Kristen Wiig's Bjork (OK) and Bill Hader's Richard Branson (pretty great). A memorable monologue was not because of host Ryan Phillippe, but because of guests (Target Lady, Andy Samberg's R&B pervert, and D'Andre Cole). D'Andre is the best new character of the year and the best thing Kenan Thompson's ever done. They found a new way to use him when his usual skit has becoming predictable. One of my favorite faux-commercials followed, the home invasion gem from earlier in the season. The new fake commercial (seen after the jump) was no doubt deemed inappropriate that early in the show . . .

Jason Sudeikis and Will Forte's terrific ESPN commentators continued their hilarious (and well-written) streak followed by some hip hop kids where Andy Samberg tries to talk some sense into his idiotic friends. A digital short ("The Other Man") was OK but ended interestingly with Samberg standing next to his "doppelganger". A Samberg-heavy episode continued with Mort Mort Feingold, an accountant to the stars the took a few jabs at some celebrities (loved Mel Gibson). A Shake-Weight commercial followed which is better seen than described.Ke$ha then lip-synched "Tik Tok" with some astronauts lip-playing instruments. Thanks a bunch from the NASA community. Weekend Update was pretty good this week with Bill Hader's James Carville, Will Forte playing another pervert, and Bobby Moynihan scoring with a new gossip character. A favorite recurring skit of mine is 4 men reminiscing about a song and this week's was humorous but ended with an unnecessary cheap shot at the Tea Party movement. Hader was really good comforting teens in the next skit, Teen Talk, where Fred Armisen psychologically and verbally abused them. Ke$ha then lip-synched "Your Love is My Drug" in a terrible outfit (labeled "Comanche Tron" by Lawyer). If there was a weak link, it was the game show, "I Got This", but it's always nice to see Forte go nuts. Last was the "Outrageous Clown Squad" which was almost as funny as the real song.

For my money, this was the best episode of the season from top to bottom without a throwaway sketch. Zach Galifianakis had some better moments but his episode was uneven. This was better written all the way through and even managed to avoid kissing Obama's ass. After a terrible first half season, SNL has really picked it up since January with excellent hosts (Jon Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, Tina Fey) and hosts that really went for it (Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Lopez). During this episode, Hader and Samberg were everywhere, which is always a good thing. A-

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Sunday, April 18, 2010


1. DLP was ahead of the curve on this genius...SNL parodied the "Miracles" video posted last week.

2. My favorite picture of the Iceland volcano. Its a pretty good argument for the Almighty.

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Up with Pete Docter

My schedule limited me to only 1 screening at the Dallas International Film Festival, so I had to make it count. I was able to take lawyerette #1 to a screening of Up with writer/director Pete Docter. He also wrote and directed Monsters, Inc. and wrote the screenplay for WallE and the story for Toy Story. Docter was engaging, interesting and super-nice. He did a Q&A with Robert Wilonsky and revealed lots of interesting things about Pixar and his process. Up didn't hold up very well for me, but lawyerette now loves yelling squirrel!

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Weekend Box Office: 4/16-4/18/10


1. How Train Dragon: 20mil/-20%/159mil
2. Kick-Ass: 19.8 mil / (-)
3. Date Night: 17.3 mil / -31% / 49 mil
4. Death at a Funeral: 17 mil / (-)
5. Clash of Titans: 15.8mil/-41%/133mil
6. Last Song: 5.8 mil / -41% / 50 mil
7. Why Did I Get Married 2: 4.2 mil/-62%/55 mil
8. Hot Tub Time Machine: 3.5 mil/-35%/43 mil
9. Alice in Wonderland: 3.5 mil / -34% / 324 mil
10. Bounty Hunter: 3.2 mil / -24% / 60 mil

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The Master at Work

This last one's for lawyer.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Special Notes

1. Ke$ha is on SNL tonight, so anyone with suicidal thoughts should go to bed early. Maybe she can recycle another Huey Lewis idea for her next crime upon humanity.

2. Jennifer Garner turns 38 today.

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Song of the Day - Twenty Two Fourteen

By The Album Leaf

All instrumental song by the San Diego group who obviously know how to mellow out better than me. It loses a bit when the drums come in, but still, a pretty good mood song.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Movie Releases - 4/16/10

Death at a Funeral

A remake of the 2007 British film, this one goes for a different audience with Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, & Tracy Morgan. Zoe Saldana, Luke Wilson, Peter Dinklage, and Danny Glover are along for some laughs (hopefully). The preview is OK, but director Neil Labute's usual comedic stylings (In the Company of Men) are much more subtle.

Based on the comic book, some ordinary people try to become superheroes. Nicolas Cage and Aaron Johnson star, but 12 year old Chloe Moretz is said to steal the show. I wouldn't expect much from this were it not for director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) who can hit one out with the right material. Trailer here.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 4/13/10

Great Mouse Detective
Pirate Radio - #
Slammin' Salmon

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases.

Apollo 13 - *
Nightmare on Elm Street

# - also on Blu ray
* - Doctor approved

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Song of the Day - The Only Living Boy in New York, Simon and Garfunkel

S&G have given us some of the best songs of the past 50 years. But, a big chunk of their songs get way too esoteric and whispery (Scarborough Faire) for me to enjoy. A long drive to a campout with a lawyerette this weekend gave me a chance to find and enjoy The Only Living Boy in New York. I love the tone and lyrics, especially the first 90 seconds or so.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekend Box Office: 4/9-4/11/10

The only major weekend release didn't seem to deserve a separate preview post, but did win the weekend over some 3-D holdovers. Tina Fey and Steve Carell jumped to the big screen with success. Fey's weekend SNL hosting stint was disappointing though since she was overshadowed by something called Justin Bieber. The only other new release, Letters to God (a Christian-financed film about child cancer) cracked the top 10.


1. Date Night: 27.1 mil / (-)
2. Clash of the Titans: 26.9 mil / -56% / 110 mil
3. How to Train Dragon: 25.4 mil / -13% / 134 mil
4. Why Did I Get Married 2: 11 mil / -62% / 49 mil
5. The Last Song: 10 mil / -38% / 42 mil
6. Alice in Wonderland: 5.6 mil / -32% / 319 mil
7. Hot Tub Time Machine: 5.4 mil / - 33% / 37 mil
8. Bounty Hunter: 4.3 mil / -29% / 56 mil
9. Diary of Wimpy Kid: 4.1 mil / -23% / 54 mil
10. Letters to God: 1.1 mil / (-)

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The Baader Meinhof Complex - B+

In German with subtitles. Rated R for violence, language, and nudity.

In the late 60s and throughout the 70s, a left wing group in West Germany committed acts of terrorism to protest the Vietnam War and perceived suppression from their own government. The formation of the group featured Andreas Baader, a charismatic, fearless nihilist and Ulrike Meinhof, a respected journalist who gave the group a voice. The group's origin is well-explained and the film is well placed in the context of the 60s social revolution (though it uses overused songs - "My Generation", "Blowin' in the Wind"). As it chronicles their violent existence, the film has an incredible immediacy since real life is much more unpredictable than the typical Hollywood script . . .

Some of the best scenes have Bruno Ganz (Downfall) as a high-level government official trying to understand and capture the group. His observation that terrorism is the new form of war in the absence of a "real" war is perceptive and the extrapolation of the events to modern day is easy but insightful. The film tries to understand why people resort to terrorism and never reaches an easy conclusion. It bends over backward to immortalize both Baader and Meinhof by claiming they never killed innocent "civilians", and were later replaced by leaders with more violent and aggressive proclivities. But none of the reasons ring true. Killing people to protest killing makes no sense anywhere on the political spectrum.

At its best, the film is tense and urgent, immersive and fast-paced. At nearly 2 1/2 hours, it feels a tad long, but never bores. Even if you can't sympathize with the left-wing crazies, you'll be transported, educated, and entertained. Its European view of nudity may be distracting for the American (Puritan) audience. The violence is usually sudden and shocking. It doesn't break any new ground technically like its most direct influences (Z and Day of the Jackal) which prevents it from getting to the A-level. That, and the overly sympathetic view toward the left wing politics. B+

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Favorite Opening Scene

Manhattan, Woody Allen

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Song of the Day- The High Road- PLUS a link

Super-duos are the new supergroups, and Broken Bells (Danger Mouse and James Mercer, singer for The Shins) are among the best. This lead-off from their debut is greatness. It sounds to me like something Lawyer would like.

And here's an update about the Americanization of Let the Right One In, the vampire movie DLP loved. It appears Chloe Moretz of Kiss Ass will be the little bloodsucker in this one.
And here is the rest of it.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Insane Clown Posse

The 'horrorcore' musical group Insane Clown Posse has always horrified and fascinated me. For those unfamiliar, they are a violent rap group that dresses up like clowns and are loved by the most disturbed people in America. But, somehow, they have created the most unintentionally hilarious music video I've seen in a very very long time. They usually rap about murder, here they are somehow rapping about how awesome miracles are!? Priceless lyrics here.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 4/6/10

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - #
Dolan's Cadillac - #
Madonna: Sticky and Sweet - #

Battlestar Galactica: Complete Series-#

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

Flight of the Intruder
Lord of the Ring Trilogy - *
The Natural - *
The Relic
The Thomas Crown Affair

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Monday, April 5, 2010

The September Issue - B+

On DVD (2009). Rated PG, 88 minutes. Trailer.

As someone who thinks 99% of fashion is a joke and hated The Devil Wears Prada, I find myself oddly fascinated with Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue and "High Priestess" of the fashion world. In The September Issue, respected documentarian R.J. Cutler gives us a portrait of Ms. Wintour and the others at Vogue that help put the magazine together, especially the September issue, which is the "fashion bible" that kicks off the fashion season. Click below for more on TSI:

Wintour is a fascinating character, brimming with self-loathing despite the adulation she receives. Cutler does a good job of providing context and opening the film up to the non-fashion types with the questions and contextual shots and scenes. I thought Grace Covington, Vogue's senior art director, stole the movie. She is a fascinating character with a great visual eye and an unflinching personality with a storied past. Her collaboration and battles with Anna are interesting and revealing.

The piece about Wintour's father and scenes with her daughter are really interesting and give the film a substance I was not expecting.

Worth your time. I really enjoyed this one.

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Random Notes.

1. The first 2 minutes of this 2008 tribute to The Who is awesome - features Cameron Crowe, Eddie Vedder, Wayne Coyne, Coldplay, Sting, Conan and others talking about the band.

2. The trailer for the new JLo movie is the worst I've seen in several years. Worth watching its so bad.

3. I love to read Maureen Dowd's columns. This one sums up the Catholic abuse scandal pretty well and some of the reasons (hypocrisy, etc.) for my disenchantment with religion, too.

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Weekend Box Office: 4/2-4/4/10


1. Clash of the Titans: 61.2 mil / (-)
2. Why Did I Get Married 2: 30.2 mil / (-)
3. How to Train Dragon: 29.2mil/-33%/92mil
4. The Last Song: 16.2 mil / (-)
5. Alice in Wonderland: 8.3 mil / -53% / 310 mil
6. Hot Tub Time Machine: 8 mil / - 43% / 28 mil
7. Bounty Hunter: 6.2 mil / -48% / 49 mil
8. Diary of Wimpy Kid: 5.5 mil / -45% / 46 mil
9. She's Out of My League: 1.5mil/-58%/29mil
10. Shutter Island: 1.5 mil / -54% / 123 mil
11. Green Zone: 1.2 mil / -64% / 33 mil
12. Ghost Writer: 1.1 mil / -33% / 11 mil

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox - B+

Priest's original review is here. All 3 of us seem to be in rare agreement.

Wes Anderson's last 2 outings (The Life Acquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited) were beautiful to look at but kept you at arm's length with unrealistic characters and meandering, unfocused stories. Anderson came off as too clever for his own good and had too many inside jokes that the audience wasn't in on. He needed a change of pace and found the perfect antidote with Roald Dahl's popular children's book. Anderson's offbeat sense of humor is used wisely as Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) tries to save his friends and family from some aggressive capitalists. The music by Alexandre Desplat is excellent and the stop-motion animation is interesting as the fur on the characters changes from shot to shot. The pay-off (w/r/t Fox's son) is probably the best in Anderson's oeuvre. B+

Click below for last fall's other famous children's book adaptation.

Where the Wild Things Are

The one thing I dislike more than whiny kids is juvenile dialogue and Spike Jonze's latest has way too much of both of them in his only feature film in 7 years. I'm not sure why Max is such an unhappy kid. He's obviously lonely, but that hardly excuses such terrible behavior. The big portion of the film with the large creatures is interesting to watch and technically proficient, but doesn't add up to much. The music, cinematography, editing, and settings are all superb. But the shaky camera thing is distracting - I get it, the kid's troubled and unsettled. Catherine Keener is very touching in the last scene, but Jonze is sorely missing screenwriter Charlie Kaufman. And an accessible central performance. I'll be giving this another chance, but I'm not looking forward to it. C

Priest liked it a little better.

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An Education - B+

On DVD and Blu-ray this week. Lawyer's similar take is here.

In 1961 London, Jenny (the sublime Carey Mulligan) is on the fast-track to Oxford if she can get her Latin together. She's the best student at an all girls' school and her father (Alfred Molina) has been priming her for an excellent education from day 1. At night, Jenny listens to French records and longs to live life rather than read about others doing so. She meets David, an older man (an appropriately slimy Peter Sarsgaard), who smooth talks his way into her family's life and then shows her the world. But Jenny discovers that there are no short-cuts in life and while hard work can be boring, it eventually pays off.

I'm not sure why Jenny was standing out in the rain with her cello when all she had to do is walk a couple of blocks. She never would have met David and I guess there would have been no movie. I also didn't buy her father suddenly being so permissive and gullible when his whole life is built on order, planning, and caution. For her part, Mulligan completely sells Jenny's desire to experience life so you can understand her decisions. Mulligan also excels with the innocent laughter and the tearful regrets. David is nearly the exact opposite of me so the scenes with him are tough to watch. The setting was nicely put together with the music and costumes. The supporting performances by Emma Thompson, Sally Hawkins, and especially Olivia Williams felt honest and real. I loved every scene with Williams and wish she had been in it more. Director Lone Scherfig pulls the final few scenes together perfectly. B+This should have been a red flag, Jenny.

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The Men Who Stare at Goats - C-

At the start of the Iraq War, a reporter (Ewan McGregor) goes looking for a story after his wife leaves him. He discovers Lyn (George Clooney), a CIA operative with legendary psychic powers that allowed him to find POWs and kill goats just by staring at them. In the early 80s, Lyn was under the tutelage of Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), a Vietnam vet turned hippie pacifist, who created a secret army of "Jedi Warriors" whose intent was to win wars without firing a shot. The group was forced to disband after the unfortunate death of a powerful general's son.

In 2003 Iraq, Lyn is on a secret mission, one that will lead him to redemption and acceptance. The film's flashback structure kills the minimal momentum it builds in both 1983 and 2003. There are even flashback within flashbacks and multi-character flashbacks. I guess this is appropriate since LSD becomes a major plot point toward the end of the film. There are some interesting scenes, but none of them attach coherently to any others. First-time director Grant Heslov is a longtime producing partner of Clooney and can't seem to manage either the film's tone or pace. The cast obviously had a great time making the film, but that can't fix the script's clunky structure.Like every Iraq War movie except The Hurt Locker and Taking Chance, it makes the mistake of making the American military the bad guys. Wait, we want the Americans to die and the Iraqi POWs to be free? Left-wing ideas of peace, love, and dope are great in college dorm rooms, but serve no practical application in the real world, and especially in war. The ending scene is the worst and nonsensical in recent memory. C-

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Movie Releases - 4/2/10

Clash of the Titans

Sam Worthington brings takes his bland brand of acting from the future to the past in this remake of the 1981 camp "classic". Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and Gemma Arterton provide British accents in a laughable attempt at credibility. From the director of The Incredible Hulk and the writers of Aeon Flux. The Neeson-Fiennes Schindler's reunion deserved better.

Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too

Janet Jackson, Michael Jai White, Louis Gossett, Jr., Malik Yoba, Cicely Tyson, Sharon Leal, Tasha Smith and Tyler Perry talk and talk and talk. Tyler Perry writes. Tyler Perry directs. It's good to stick with what works. Don't try to grow as an artist.

The Last Song

From novelist Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) comes the story of a New York teen (Miley Cyrus) who spends the summer with her father (Greg Kinnear) in a Georgia beach town. Initial animosity will no doubt evolve into friendship and respect. From the writer of The Notebook.

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