Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Blind Side - Movie Review

The Blind Side (PG-13) 126 minutes D+
Sack and fumble

Starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates, Quinton Aaron, Lily Collins, and Jae Head

Considering all the hype surrounding this film and Sandra Bullock's performance, The Blind Side is an extreme disappointment. I waited a long time to see this best picture nominee because I feared it would be syrupy sweet, contrived, feel good crap and that's more or less what it was.

Hey, I think it's a great thing what this family did for Michael Oher in real life but as art this is nothing more than a Hallmark Channel movie of the week. Sandra Bullock is the main attraction yet she was much more awe-inspiring in Paul Haggis's 2004 film, Crash.

I was almost disappointed that the Academy nominated this film for an Oscar, but it's a small consequence in an effort to inject more diversity (and viewership) to the awards show.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Cove - Movie Review

The Cove (PG-13) 92 minutes B
The Secret Life of Japanese Fishermen

Starring Richard O'Barry Louis Psihoyos, Mandy Rae Cruikshank

The Cove won the 2009 Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and it's this year's favorite to win an Oscar for best documentary. This film is out on DVD but I recently saw it in the theatre so I am reviewing it as such...

This is an intriguing documentary about a team of activists who embark on a real life mission impossible to document and reveal the annual dolphin slaughter (and international dolphin capture and trade) operation in the Japanese town of Taiji.

The dolphin issue and subsequent mercury poisoning are highly important issues but even more fascinating here is the risk that these activist take to stand up for something they believe in.

Interesting and inspiring.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Serious Man - Movie review

A Serious Man (R) 105 minutes C+
Seriously confused

Starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Fred Melamed, Aaron Wolf, Richard Kind, Adam Arkin, Sari Wagner, Jessica McManus

This film came out on DVD two weeks ago but since I actually saw it in the theatre I'm reviewing it as such.

A Serious Man is one of the ten films nominated for this year's best picture Oscar as well as the latest from the Coen brothers. Those two facts alone make it a must-see event, luckily I saw it for free.

It wasn't bad, however, I expected this to be as good as Fargo, as funny as Burn After Reading and as devious as No Country for Old Men... I was disappointed; once again my expectations were probably too high. Yet it's hard not to expect a lot from an Oscar nominated film (especially "best picture").

Back in the mid 80's to early 90's U2 released The Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree and Acthung Baby- three great albums that seemed to be leading them to world domination. Then they released Zooropa... A decent album in its own rite but a bit of a head scratcher at the time. A Serious Man is the Coen Brothers' Zooropa.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Don't Fall In Love With A Lonely Girl (A Music Review)

First Impression Music Review
Freedy Johnston - Rain on the City B

I listened to this album nonstop while Denver had an abundance on snow on the city. It put me in just the right mindset for this newest offering of bittersweet songs from one of my favorite artists of all time.

At first the album felt like a long overdue piece of work that was slightly over polished and over thought, but after a few more spins the songs stuck and became inescapable from my doom. I hum them, I sing them out loud and I sing them to myself.

Johnston is such a great storyteller, the lyrics along with his genuine spirit elevate the songs I was initially unsure of and convinced me that what you cannot see you cannot fight.

Favorite tracks - "Lonely Penny", "Rain on the City", "Venus is Her Name", "What You Cannot See, You Cannot Fight"

Dear John - Movie Review

Dear John (PG-13) 108 minutes C-
Dear John, your film didn't totally suck and you didn't make me cry- The End.

Starring Amanda Seyfried, Channing Tatum, Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas and Keith Robinson

I admit, I stuffed two pieces of tissue in my pocket before walking into the theatre. Turns out I didn't need it but the lady sitting behind me did... she cried through half the film.

Dear John isn't horrible but it's pretty much what you'd expect from a Nicholas Sparks novel adapted to the big screen- i.e., The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember & Nights in Rodanthe.

Very sappy, a little cheesy, but filled with just enough moments that remind you of a time when love was free and the world was your oyster.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day - Movie Review

Valentine's Day (PG-13) 90 minutes C
Candy everyone wants

Starring Jennifer Garner, Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Jamie Foxx, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Queen Latifah, Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Swift, George Lopez, Julie Roberts, Hector Elizondo, Taylor Lautner, Emma Roberts and Shirley MacLaine

It's no secret that I have a weakness for rom-coms, so it should come as no surprise that I liked Valentine's Day a little more than I should have. A film so sugary sweet that you're bound to get a toothache before the credits roll. A film that the New York Post called "less funny or romantic than your average colonoscopy" and a "cringe-inducing bore".

It's full of beautiful people, highly unlikely situations and a nauseatingly cute kid whose way too mature for his age- one of my pet peeves. That being said, there were also a few surprises that I didn't see coming. This is one of those films where I was completely entertained despite it having zero staying power (I will have forgotten this film by next week).

I guess it's appropriate that its called Valentine's Day because similar to those little candy hearts it's a temporary sugar treat that's essentially unfulfilling empty calories. Indulge in moderation or else it could be bad for you.
First Impression Music Review
Suzanna Vega - Close Up Vol 1, Love Songs B-

On this Barnes & Nobles exclusive CD, Suzanne Vega dips into her extensive catalog and shares an intimate acoustic collection of love songs. The highlights here include: "Marlene on the Wall", "(I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May", "If You Were In My Movie" and the undeniably beautiful "Bound" from 2007's Beauty & Crime album. An album that I was terribly disappointed in but probably should give another chance.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Edge of Darkness - Movie Review

Edge of Darkness (R) 117 minutes C
A Boston cop seeks revenge, takes the law into his own hands

Starring Mel Gibson, Danny Huston, Ray Winstone, Shawn Roberts, Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic and Gbenga Akinnagbe.

The heart of this film is a gritty and emotional crime drama, but it's the surrounding elements that drags it to mediocrity. Edge of Darkness is Mel Gibson's first starring role in eight years and it shows. Here he seems aged and rusty yet he's not without flashes of brilliance and moments of believable intensity.

Thomas Craven (Gibson) is a Boston homicide detective whose twenty-four year-old daughter is shot and killed in front of him on his front porch. Initially he was thought to be the intended target but as the story unfolds it's revealed that his daughter was involved in a corporate/governmental conspiracy.

Based on a 1980's BBC TV series, director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) does a nice job of setting a gloomy tone but goes overboard with the sappy flashback scenes and his bad guys (always dressed in black suits) feel contrived and awkward.

Not a bad film but not a good one either... it might be worth renting if you're into crime dramas and/or Mel Gibson. However, a much much better Boston crime drama is Mystic River.
Bonus DVD Review
The Hurt Locker
(R) 130 minutes B-
The Mind Locker- defusing & confusing

DVD Release Date - January 12, 2010
Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Guy Pearce, Brian Geraghty and Ralph Fiennes.

The Hurt Locker is a good film but frankly it doesn't live up to the hype and it definitely doesn't feel like an Oscar caliber best picture nominee... it feels more like a well done "niche" film.

There's several intense moments that will undoubtedly have you on the edge of your seat, but there's also dull and trite moments (let's get drunk and beat the sh*t out of each other) that simply didn't connect with me.

I know a lot of people loved this film but if it wins best picture on Oscar night it might go down in my book as one of the most undeserving best picture winners of all time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Best Films (My Favorites) 2009

Here it is! My Best of 2009 Films :-)

10. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

9. Precious

8. State of Play

7. He's Just Not That Into You

6. An Education

5. Adventureland

4. Humpday

3. 500 Days of Summer

2. The Girlfriend Experience

1. Up In The Air

It's important to note that I saw some very good films and documentaries at various festivals in 2009 that were not released and therefore not eligible for this list. I highly encourage you to seek out these documentaries in the near future: Orgasm Inc, Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy and My Son the Pornographer.

Monday, February 1, 2010

More Year-End Accolades

The Best in Live Music 2009
5. My Bloody Valentine - The Fillmore Auditorium 4/24/2009
4. Camera Obscura - Bluebird Theatre 6/1/2009
3. Sonic Youth - Ogden Theatre 7/31/2009
2. Future of the Left - Bluebird Theatre, 10/20/2009
1. Depeche Mode - Red Rocks Amphitheatre 8/27/2009

My 2009 Book of the Year
Well, I didn't get around to reading as many 2009 books as I would've liked. But among the ones I did read I Love I Lost I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci was my favorite!

The photo of author Giulia Melucci is from April 2009