Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Green Hornet - 2011

The Green Hornet
Stars - Seth Rogen
           Jay Chou
           Christoph Waltz
Directed by: Michael Gondry
Summary: Following the death of his father, Britt Reid, heir to his father's large company, teams up with his late dad's assistant Kato to become a masked crime fighting team.
The Green Hornet is a fun, action-packed comedy/superhero hybrid. It's faithful enough, but original where it needs to be. Christoph Waltz, who is extremely impressive and quickly becoming one of my favorite scenery chewers, is great as the slightly unsure of himself bad guy trying to be hip. There are some excellent and well thought out action scenes, mostly featuring Jay Chou as the one-named sidekick/chauffeur Kato. Seth Rogen is capable as the playboy cum masked vigilante without relying too much on the comedic goofball persona he is normally known for.  
In all honesty, the only real downside for me was in the consistently bad acting of Cameron Diaz as the uninterested love interest. How she keeps being considered a quality addition to any cast is beyond my powers of reason. Luckily, she doesn't feature too much in the film.
In summation, fun film, well worth watching. Predictable maybe, but enjoyable nonetheless. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau - 2011

The Adjustment Bureau
Stars:   Matt Damon
           Emily Blunt
           Anthony Mackie
Directed by George Nolfi
Summary: On the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, ambitious politician David Norris (Damon) meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt)-a woman like none he's ever known. But just as he realizes he's falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart. (via imdb)
Trailers and promo spots for this movie sell you a love story wrapped in a very Bourne-esque action/fight against the powers that be blanket. Throw in the tagline that it's based on a story by Philip K. Dick (the writer behind Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and more) and you've got enough to get me in the seat.
What you get, on the other hand, is something a little different. This movie starts a little slow, builds a little slower, but ratchets up the suspense and love story to a great pitch before it  fumbles miserably 2 yards before the goal line. It just seems to wrap up swiftly and in a disappointingly anti-climatic way. If (spoiler alert) the scenes with the oft-mentioned but unseen Chairman had been shown and some free-will vs plan debate, as was originally planned, I may have been more satisfied. (spoiler done)
As it is, it's a good movie, with a great and intriguing story, great performances and an ending that was lacking the gravitas it called for. All in all, I would suggest waiting for it's Netflix premiere.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Casablanca - 1942 My Perfect Movie (Spoilers)

Stars: Humphrey Bogart
         Ingrid Bergman
         Paul Henreid
         Claude Rains
         Peter Lorre
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Summary: In World War II Casablanca, Rick Blaine, exiled American and former freedom fighter, runs the most popular nightspot in town. Blaine comes into the possession of two valuable letters of transit. When Nazi Major Strasser arrives in Casablanca, the sycophantic police Captain Renault does what he can to please him, including detaining Czech underground leader Victor Laszlo. Much to Rick's surprise, Lazslo arrives with Ilsa, Rick's one time love. Rick is very bitter towards Ilsa, who ran out on him in Paris, but when he learns she had good reason to, they plan to run off together again using the letters of transit. Well, that was their original plan.... (via imdb)
Normally, my reviews will be spoiler free, especially newer films, but seeing as this movie is well known and 60+ years old, spoilers full steam ahead.
Casablanca is what I have deemed a near-perfect movie. It is the perfect balance of superb acting, a wonderful and compelling story, suspense, intrigue, a dash of humor, and, at a brisk 102 minute run-time, it's the perfect length. 
Adapted from the play Everyone Comes to Rick's, the dialogue is crisp, believable, and at times, very moving. On the surface, it's a story of intrigue, rebellion, the fight for freedom and a loner with a cynical and self-serving bent. Of course, it's also a riveting love story, especially when you consider that there is no true happy ending for just about anyone in the film. And yet, it's not a sad movie either. The sacrifice that Bogart's normally self-serving character makes is in the best interest of all and the least as well.
The performances of the major players, and indeed some of the background characters, is note perfect. Ilsa, wonderfully and beautifully played by Bergman, is torn between her two loves and her duty as a wife. 
The story is gripping and honest. The movie moves at a brisk and engaging pace, never allowing any unnecessary plot points to interfere with the main themes. 
The twist ending (or twists really) is at once heartbreaking and endearing, and the whole thing ends on a perfect note. 

The Flickist Manifesto: or why you should care about the opinions of another chubby geek and self-confessed film nerd.

I decided my first post here should be a quick explanation of who I am, why I'm writing this blog and what my qualifications are as a film critic. First, I'm a 37 year old, married, father of four. I grew up in Delaware and wasn't a particularly athletically inclined child, hence my extensive catalog of movies watched. The first movie I remember seeing in the theater is The Empire Strikes Back, and as cliche as it sounds, I was enthralled and a love affair with movies was begun.
The second part, why I want to write this, is because I think most movie critics are not able to look at all films objectively. I think movies should be judged in par with the type of film it is. In other words, Cannonball Run cannot be judged with the same yardstick as 12 Angry Men. Both films have an audience, and both films play well to their audience. And while there may not be a lot of cultural crossover for those two films, I have seen and loved both. Simply put, I love movies, and I've seen a ton of them. Good movies, bad movies, good bad movies, deliciously campy movies, bad good movies, and everything in between. 
 If asked, I would say that Casablanca is my favorite movie overall, but it's unfair, because I can't say that I have any one favorite. It sincerely depends on the genre. However, the first official post will be a review of why I think Casablanca is a near-perfect film.
So, what kind of movies will I be reviewing here? All kinds. It will mostly be a random selection depending on my mood and what pops in my mind when I sit down. I'll also do some special selections, like a review of a particular actor or director's whole catalog. One of the first of these will be a look at the films in the View Askewniverse of Kevin Smith, and a retrospective of the highs and lows of nut du jour, Charlie Sheen. 
What I'm most excited about, and here I need your help, is a feature I call "I Watch It For You!" There are those films out there that you may want to watch, but you're not sure of and don't want to plunk down the rental fee without some foresight. Well, just use my professional stunt eyes. Drop me an e-mail at and let me know what bullet to jump in front of for you. If I've already laid eyes on it, I'll let you know whether I think it's worth watching. I really hope this feature takes off and I can provide a good service to you, because there is nothing worse than being excited and hopeful when you make a rental choice and realizing you just wasted your money (I'm looking at you, You Again). Ok, so that's all for now. Let me know in the comments or e-mail if there are any specific review requests or other features you want to see. I'm also mulling a podcast, which, if it launches, will be posted here as well.