Archive for April, 2010

Send Me No Flowers

Posted in Comedy, Romance with tags on April 29, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Poor George, who thinks he’s dying, tries to find a suitable husband for his wife after he’s passed on.  Light and breezy comedy of errors is like a gorgeously shot sitcom full of colorful production design that highlights suburban style of the mid-60s.  Coy screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, based on the play by Norman Barasch and Carroll Moore, is surprisingly suggestive at times, in a very naive sort of way.  Stars Doris Day and Rock Hudson display great chemistry in their third and last pairing together.  The enthusiastic cast also includes Tony Randall, Paul Lynde and Clint Walker.  Everyone inhabits their characters so comfortably, it’s like they’ve been playing them on the stage for years.  Whimsical music by Frank De Vol boosts this playful farce.

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

Posted in Drama, Family with tags on April 24, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPhotobucketAffectionate tale about the strong bond between a dog and his master.  This warm hearted drama is well acted, has a pretty score and beautiful cinematography, much of it from the dog’s point of view.  Several tender moments quietly illustrate how devoted a pet can be.  Sadly that’s a pretty flimsy excuse to sustain a feature length film.  In The U.S. the movie went direct to video and in fact, this sentimental drama would have played better as a hour long TV show.  This  greeting card will give warm fuzzies to dog lovers everywhere, but ultimately the story is just too slight.  Director Lasse Hallström and actor Richard Gere also worked together 3 years earlier in The Hoax.

The Square

Posted in Drama, Thriller with tags on April 23, 2010 by Mark Hobin

A twist-filled thriller about an adulterous couple’s scheme to steal a bag of cash. Infidelity and greed are the themes explored here.  Naturally the cheating lovers’ best laid plans go horribly awry, as is always the case in movies like this.  The brilliance of this neo-noir from Australia is how the action gradually unfolds, drawing the viewer into a labyrinthine web of misfortune. As an eyewitness, we’re complicit in the crimes which spin recklessly out of control.   The Edgerton brothers (director Nash and screenwriter Joel) have fashioned an assured thriller in their feature film debut.  Unfortunately, the plot ultimately lets the viewer down. It’s a tribute to how strong the picture is, that the resolution doesn’t quite equal the rest of the story in sophistication or complexity.  Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see what this talented duo does next.

Clash of the Titans

Posted in Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy with tags on April 22, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPhotobucketMythological fantasy has Perseus embarking on a quest to rescue the city of Argos from the evil god Hades who demands Princess Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken monster.  Got all that?  Pervasive digital effects overwhelm a cluttered and chaotic narrative. One of those noisy films that makes you long more for the more organic feel of Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion puppets than the superficially superior CGI effects presented here.  In fact, this eye-popping film has more in common with special effects extravaganzas like The Mummy than with the simple, but charming 1981 original.  Actor Sam Worthington lacks charisma as the star and more seriously, the film has no heart.  Sometimes bigger is not better.

Touch of Evil

Posted in Crime, Film Noir, Mystery, Thriller with tags on April 17, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPhotobucketSensational crime drama about a narcotics agent at odds with a corrupt American cop.  They’re investigating the murder of a couple after driving their car across the Mexican-American border.  A B-movie at heart, this film noir is a potboiler dressed up with flashy  camerawork and a stellar cast.  Written, directed by, and co-starring Orson Welles, he flaunts conspicuous direction and stunning visual style.  This is exaggerated stuff, but damn if it isn’t entertaining. Dennis Weaver plays a jittery hotel manager, Marlene Dietrich dons a black wig as a fortune telling madam, and they’ve got Charlton Heston playing a Mexican!  When a gang of hoodlums terrorizes Janet Leigh in a hotel room, the scene threatens to derail the film into trashy melodrama.  Luckily the plot is so arresting it holds the viewer’s interest throughout the film until the very last frame of this tense psychological thriller.

Kick-Ass

Posted in Action, Comedy, Drama with tags on April 16, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPhotobucketSurprisingly violent superhero film about an average teen inspired to don a costume and fight crime despite possessing no powers whatsoever.  Based on the comic book of the same name, director Matthew Vaughn oddly mixes humor with shocking bursts of violence and profanity to make this entertaining film.  Actress Chloe Moretz plays supporting superhero Hit-Girl and she is a character you won‘t soon forget.  An 11 year old badass who uses language that would embarrass Linda Blair in The Exorcist.  Nevertheless, there is something almost exhilarating in seeing a seemingly helpless little girl triumph over evil against insurmountable odds.  Solely aiming a superhero movie at adults is a difficult act to pull off, almost akin to making  a pornographic cartoon.  It’s disturbing.  However this humorous riff on the world of comic books is undeniably well written and well paced.  Call it a guilty pleasure.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Posted in Crime, Mystery, Thriller with tags on April 13, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPhotobucketEngrossing detective thriller about a journalist investigating the decades-old disappearance of a missing woman.  He’s aided by the title character, a young Goth punk computer hacker.  Swedish film adaptation of part one of author Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy” lazily unfolds like a TV miniseries.  Numerous plot threads introduce exploitative subjects ranging from serial killers to child-abuse to Nazis to violence against women.  Indeed, a disgusting rape scene early on serves no purpose other than to explain why our heroine is so antisocial.  It takes a full hour for the main plot to even start.  However once the story finally takes root, it’s gripping.  The two stars form an unlikely duo that is fun to watch and a scene where our hero studies a series of old photographs (shades of Antonioni’s Blowup) to gleam information, is beautifully edited.  Danish director Niels Arden Oplev is clearly influenced in the American cinema of films like Silence of the Lambs and Seven.  The conventional ending even suggests the inevitable Hollywood remake.  Is director David Fincher available?

Paper Heart

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Romance with tags on April 12, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPhotobucketOverly precious romantic comedy chronicles comedienne Charlyne Yi’s trip across America as she makes a documentary on the subject of love.  Along the way she meets actor Michael Cera playing himself.  These supposedly improvised scenes are so carefully prepared that the only joke is on the actors who think they’re fooling anyone into thinking this is unrehearsed.  The two stars do have some chemistry, but it’s buried beneath such artifice that it renders any real emotion void.  As a romantic lead, Charlene is puzzlingly childlike, nervously gigging throughout the film at everything and anything.  One of those quirky comedies that thinks it’s cute to ask a ridiculous question and then cut away to a different scene before the audience can even hear the answer.  Self-conscious and affected.

The Dirty Dozen

Posted in Action, Adventure, Drama, War with tags on April 10, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPhotobucketThe quintessential all male action-adventure film.  12 prisoners convicted of violent crimes, can save themselves by volunteering for a suicide mission. Innovative and influential, this war film was rather progressive for its time in both attitude and brutality.   Actor Lee Marvin as Major John Reisman is not your typical OSS officer.  Cynical and rebellious, he’s placed in charge of a rag tag group made up of murderers and psychopaths that he champions.  What’s interesting is how director Robert Aldrich somehow manages to balance this depraved lot with enough good old-fashioned fun to make an entertaining bunch that we actually root for.  The cast is uniformly excellent.  John Cassavetes received the Oscar nomination, but Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Trini López, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland and Clint Walker all contribute significantly to the film.  A rousing adrenaline rush.

Date Night

Posted in Action, Comedy, Romance with tags on April 9, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketPhotobucketHilarious screwball comedy about a married couple accidentally thrust into a bizarre nighttime adventure in New York City. This mistaken identity action comedy works because actors Steve Carell and Tina Fey are so perfectly matched as the mild mannered married couple whose life has become routine.  They exhibit real chemistry and their constant exasperation with what is happening to them is at times, side-splitting.  The script’s amusing examination on the foibles of marriage is intelligent, although it does get a bit cloying near the end.  On the whole, this comedy is entertaining and fun throughout thanks to its two stars.  They’re matched by a talented supporting cast that, in their seriousness, allows our leads to be even funnier, particularly Mark Wahlberg who is memorable as a high-tech security specialist.

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