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Magic Mike (2012)
Surprisingly entertaining movie, that is more serious than funny.
A professional male stripper, who is known as Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) is a 30 year old male stripper. Who certainly loves his job, entertaining the ladies, having parties and the occasional one night stand. But Mike doesn't want to be a stripper for the rest for his life, he is hoping to get his own business. In the same time, he takes an chance on a young, aimless, handsome 19 year old man by the name of Adam (Alex Pettyfer) to be his protégé. Adam starts to enjoy the nightlife world of male strippers, especially dancing for beautiful ladies of all sorts. While Mike is slowly starts to enjoy Adam's friendship and Adam's worried older sister Brooke (Cody Horn).
Directed by Oscar-Winner:Steven Soderbergh (The "Ocean" Series, Erin Brockovich, Haywire) made an entertaining dramatic comedy that offers fine performances, including Matthew McConaughey as Tatum's sleazy nightclub owner. Tatum has some impressive dance skills, certainly no surprise for those, who have seen "Step Up". The male strippers cast seems to be having an great time with the dances.
The Blu-ray has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) 1080p transfer and an superb DTS 5.1 HD Sound. The extras are sadly disappointing, i was hoping an commentary track, more featurettes or deleted scenes. We do get an brief featurette, play all dances option and three extended dance sequences (The highlight is the "Ken" doll dance scene). "Magic Mike" for some tastes by certain film critics and audiences was not the sleazier male stripping movie, they were expecting. But "Magic Mike" is mostly original piece of work. Soderbergh shows the nightlife of the male stripping world quite nicely. Which it is not all sleazy, most male strippers do it to entertained the costumers and for a few male strippers, it is just an job after all. Fine adult entertainment. Soderbergh also did the cinematography and editing of the film in a pseudonym fashion. HD Widescreen/Hawk-Scope. (****/*****).
Case 39 (2009)
Entertaining if familiar horror/thriller.
Social Worker Emily Jenkins (Oscar-Winner:Renée Zellweger) is assigned to investigate the family of a 10 year-old Lillith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland). Since her father (Callum Keith Rennie) and her mother (Kerry O'Malley) might be abusing her physically. Since Lillith is afraid to sleep at night. One late night, Lillith calls Emily to tell her that she is falling asleep and she fears that her life is in danger. Emily and her police detective friend Mike (Ian McShane) finds her parents nearly killing Lillith by cooking her alive in a large oven. Her parents are arrested for attempted murder and possibly have mental problems as well, since they are placed in a mental institution for quite some time. But Lillith wants Emily to adopted her, instead of staying in a group home for children. Emily agrees, she feels a close bong with Lillith but soon... Emily realized this 10 year-old-girl is not what she seems to be, especially people are close to Emily's life are having terrible accidents.
Directed by Christian Alvart (Antibodies, Pandorum) made an interesting, if familiar horror thriller in the style of "The Omen" series. Although "Case 39" tries very hard to be fresh and original. Good performances by Zellweger and Ferland makes this movie worth watching. The picture has an strong supporting cast including Bradley Cooper (Before his leading horror role in "Clive Barker's The Midnight Meat Train") in a memorable death sequence and Adrian Lester. Director Alvart has a flair for visual style and he sometimes makes up for the flawed parts of the picture.
DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an strong Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD includes featurettes and over 30 minutes of deleted scenes, which it has an alternative death sequence for the McShane's character (Far more interesting than the theatrical release) and alternative ending (The theatrical ending is much more satisfying). For some reason, "Case 39" had trouble releasing in theaters, it nearly taken three years to be finally released in north America in theaters. Since it already came out different parts of overseas. The movie is certainly better than the poor reputation it received. True, the movie has its shares of flaws early on in the film but it slowly makes up for it. "Case 39" is a good if somewhat been there, done that horror movie. Horror fans will certainly be entertained by this one. Written by Ray Wright (The Crazies "Remake" and Pulse "Remake"). Hawk Scope. (*** ½/*****).
Mother and Child (2009)
An fascinating, emotionally true adult drama.
Karen (Annette Bening) always wonder about the baby, she was forced to give up her baby daughter by her mother (Eileen Ryan). When Karen himself was only 14, when she got pregnant. Which her mother give the baby for adaption. Karen wonders how her life would be like, if she knows her daughter. Elizabeth (Noami Watts) is a highly successful lawyer, who knows she was adapted and she is not quite sure, if her real biological mother is looking for her. Elizabeth falls in love with her boss (Samuel L. Jackson) but Elizabeth unintentionally finds herself pregnant. An young woman named Lucy (Kerry Washington) and her husband Joseph (David Ramsey) is looking to adopted a baby, since Lucy can't get pregnant. Somehow the private lives of Karen, Elizabeth and Lucy have an complicated if different unhappy lifestyles that needs some happiness in their lives.
Written and Directed by Rodrigo Garcia Barcha (Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her) made an intriguing human drama with superb performances by Bening and Watts. Although the cast are terrific, including:Jimmy Smits, Cherry Jones, Elpidia Carrillo (Best known for her supporting performances in "Salvador" and "Predator"), Shareeka Epps, David Morse and more. This is a moving film, yet slow, it is mean-spirited at times and probably difficult to like the leading characters but the writer and director of the movie keeps things moving, especially it has some predictable moments.
The Canadian DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) transfer and an fine Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD's only special feature is the original theatrical trailer. "Mother and Child" is certainly an very good movie. It's a fine adult entertainment. If you haven't heard of this flawed but genuinely well made picture is not to be missed. HD Widescreen. (****/*****).
Vampires Suck (2010)
Oddly watchable mess.
Becca Crane (Jenn Proske) moved to Sporks to live with her clueless father (Diedrich Bader), who is the sheriff as well. Becca slowly realized that there is Vampires in Sporks. Becca finds herself falling in love with Edward Sullen (Matt Lanter), who happens to be a vampire as well going to her high school. She becomes friends with Jennifer (Anneliese van der Pol), a fast talking teen slut. Becca is also in danger, when three vampires (Arielle Kebbel, Charlie Weber and B.J. Britt) are after her. Edward saved her from one of the vampire attacks and Jacob (Christopher N. Riggi) also saved Becca from those attacks. But Jacob is a werewolf, who changes into a Chihuahua (!). But Jacob is in love with Becca. Now Becca has to choose between Edward and Jacob.
Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, who are the infamous writers and directors of such low-brow comedic disasters most of the time, laugh-less spoof such as "Date Movie", "Epic Movie", "Meet the Spartans" and the worst of all "Disaster Movie". Although Friedberg and Seltzer wrote an slightly more coherent script. The best thing about "Vampires Suck" is Jenn Proske as Becca, she captures Kristen Stewart performance as Bella from the "Twilight" movies. Proske is dead on in the movie. Bader is well-cast as her dad. Anneliese van der Pol is amusing as Jennifer, she makes fun of Anna Kendrick's role as Jessica quite well.
The DVD rental exclusive has no special features. The DVD is the original theatrical version. DVD has an good anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer and an good Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The worst thing is Friedberg and Seltzer's script. Sometimes their jokes starts as amusing, then so-so and then unfunny. Their visual gags and as well as dialogue doesn't help at all. But at least, "Vampire Suck" is more watchable mess than "Disaster Movie". Proske has one surprisingly sexy sequence with Latner, when she tries to seduced Edward by wearing sexy lingerie (A clever reference of "Naked Gun 33 1/3:The Final Insult). Perphas the best thing about "Vampire Suck" is the end-title sequence with a music track by Marilyn Manson titled "If I Was Your Vampire" is a good touch. Otherwise, "Vampire Suck" is watchable but just don't expect much from the Friedberg and Seltzer team. (** ½/*****).
DeepStar Six (1989)
Trashy "B" movie hurt by low-budget Special Effects.
The Crew (Greg Evigan, Nancy Everhard, Cindy Pickett, Miguel Ferrer, Marius Weyers, Matt McCoy, Nia Peeples, Taurean Blacque, Elya Baskin, Thom Bray and Ronn Carroll) of scientific ocean floor station "DeepStar Six". Which it is funded by the navy is expected to perform scientific studies as well as install an underwater nuclear missile silo. On a routine job, two of the crew members on the small submarine blasted the cave open. They decided to explore it but they encounter the unknown. When a large mysterious creature attacked the underwater ship and killed the two crew members instantly. Since this creature is attractive to light, this thing decides to attack the crew of the ocean floor station.
Directed by "B" movie producer:Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th, Spring Break) made an entertaining, low-budget adventure with some cheap thrills. The cast do their best with this material but it is Ferrer gives the only memorable performance in this cheap feature. Some people prefer this one over "Leviathan" but I think, "Leviathan" is better made, much superior cast and special effects are superior to "DeepStar Six". The look of the creature is not bad, the best thing in Cunningham's direction. He only used the creature in some key sequences and the monster only appears in the movie for a couple of minutes.
"DeepStar Six" should have had an large budget, what i felt hurts the movie are the underwater sequences are not very convincing. It seems to me that Cunningham worked hard on a low budget and he did his best to cover the flawed production values. It seems that Mario Kassar and Andrew Vanja from "Carolco Pictures" only give Cunningham an $10 million budget or less. I felt the script was good and Harry Manfredini (Best known for "Friday the 13th" movies) gives an good music score, probably his best work. I felt the cast seemed out of place, expect for Ferrer but they did their best.
I would love to watch this movie in Widescreen, since the region 1 DVD's are only Full Screen. Maybe in a future Blu-ray release, we can finally watch it in the original Widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1.
This is a update from March 25, 2013. I track down the Region 2 DVD from eBay. DVD has an good anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and Dolby 2.0 Surround Sound is quite good. DVD also includes an rather dull commentary track by the filmmakers, two featurette, original theatrical trailer and photo gallery.
As a "B" movie, it works but fails as a "A" level production. Since "Carolco Pictures" are better known for their big budget productions. As a Guilty Pleasure, "DeepStar Six" is entertaining. It is memorable for Miguel Ferrer's standout supporting performance and an surprisingly good Harry Manfredini score. Certainly an interesting double feature with "Leviathan" for one night's viewing. Super 35. (*** ½/*****).
One of the best spoofs ever made.
Incompetent Cop Frank Drebin (The late Leslie Nielsen) from Police Squad. He is investigating the attempted murder of his partner Nordberg (The infamous O.J. Simpson). He finds himself in a conspiracy that the millionaire Vincent Ludwig (The late Ricardo Montalban) is planning to assassinated Queen Elizabeth the Second (Jeannette Charles).
Directed by David Zucker (Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4, Ruthless People, Top Secret!) made an enjoyable comedic spoof, based on the failed TV Show. Which the TV Show was created by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker. The late Nielsen is terrific as a clueless police detective. Priscilla Presley is amusing as Drebin's love interest. Oscar-Winner:George Kennedy appears in a supporting role as Ed Hocken from the Police Squad.
DVD has an good anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) transfer and an digitally remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD includes an entertaining commentary track by David Zucker, Producer:Robert K. Weiss (The Blues Brothers, Dragnet, Tommy Boy) and Host:Peter Tilden. DVD also includes the original theatrical trailer. "The Naked Gun:From the Files of Police Squad!" is one of the most memorable spoofs ever made and it was certainly one of the funniest comedies made in the 1980's. There is some familiar faces in bit parts. TV Version adds some additional footage. Don't miss this Leslie Nielsen classic, Mr. Nielsen we will miss you. Written by Jerry Zucker (First Knight, Ghost, Rat Race), Jim Abrahams (Hot Shots! and Hot Shots! Part Deux, Big Business, Jane Austin's Mafia!), David Zucker and Pat Proft (Bachelor Party, High School High, Police Academy). (****/*****).
The Brood (1979)
One of Cronenberg's most ambitious horror films.
Dr. Hal Raglan (The late Oliver Reed) is a controversial psychologist, his work is designed to help release the disturbed emotions in his patients. His star patient Nola (Samantha Eggar) is keep in isolation but her negative emotions are more troubled than expected. Her husband Frank (Art Hindle) suspects that his daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds) is hurt and abused by her mother on visitation days. Frank thinks that Dr. Raglan odd therapy is nothing more than a fraud. He needs proof to destroy his creditability but Frank slowly discovers, there is some brutal murders happening. It seems to happen, when Nola vents her fury during her sessions with Dr. Raglan. Frank needs to discover the truth, what is behind these disturbing killings.
Written and Directed by David Cronenberg (The Dead Zone, The Fly "1986", A History of Violence) made an horrific, sometimes disturbing horror film. The movie starts off as a strong drama, then slowly goes to the unknown. There is terrific performances by the late Reed, Eggar and Hindle. Hinds does a good job as the victim in the film. One of the highlights is the memorable music score by the Three Time Oscar-Winner:Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Se7en, The Silence of the Lambs). The feature is especially well shot by Canadian Cinematographer:Mark Irwin (The Blob "1988", Passenger 57, Scanners).
The DVD is the Uncut Version of the picture. This version runs 92 Minutues, although the DVD Cover is credited as a R-Rated Version. DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer and an clean Dolby 2.0 Mono Sound. The only extra is the original theatrical trailer. It would have been nice, if the movie had an running commentary track by the director. Robert A. Silverman has an scene-stealing performance in a supporting role as One of Ralgan's former patients. "The Brood" starts out as a slow-moving drama, then the movie is gets much better with horrific and memorable scares. Certainly one of Cronenberg's most fascinating films. Don't miss it. (****/*****).
Passenger 57 (1992)
Well Made, Action "B" Movie.
John Cutter (Wesley Snipes) is a undercover security operative, who has taken a job training flight attendants and security personnel is how to deal with dangerous criminals or terrorist. When John takes a flight for his new job at Los Angeles, there is a handcuffed international terrorist and his name is Charles Rane (Bruce Payne). Who is known to the FBI as "The Rane of Terror". Which Rane is in FBI Custody, but although Rane's fellow terrorists are on the plane and soon enough, they are taking over the plane. Now John is forced to deal with the dangerous situation.
Directed by Kevin Hooks (Fled) made an reasonably entertaining action-thriller, which it is basically "Die Hard" on a plane. Payne is a extremely enjoyable as the villain, while Snipes is solid as the action hero. The movie is actually clever at times, funny and it has some good special effects. The movie has strong supporting cast including Tom Sizemore, Bruce Greenwood, Ernie Lively and a young Elizabeth Hurley as one of the terrorists! The movie is still fun to watch, although it is dated to say the least.
DVD has an good anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer (Also in Pan & Scan) and an fine digitally remastered:Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD includes Production Notes, Original Theatrical Trailer and an Action Movie Trailer Gallery. "Passenger 57" has some silly moments but it is certainly tight, well made, action "B" movie. Director's father Robert Hooks appears in a small supporting role as a FBI Agent. Also remember, Always Bet on Black. From a story by Stewart Raffill (The Ice Pirates, Mac and Me, The Phildelphia Experiment) and Dan Gordon (The Assignment, Surf Ninjas, Wyatt Earp). Screenplay by David Loughery (Star Trek 5:The Final Frontier, Dreamscape, Lakeview Terrace) and Gordon. J-D-C Scope. (****/*****).
Deck the Halls (2006)
Fairly amusing Christmas movie.
Local eye doctor and Christmas expert Steve Finch (Matthew Broderick) wants an nice simple Christmas with his wife Kelly (Kristen Davis), his daughter Madison (Alia Shawkat) and his son Carter (Dylan Blue). When the Finch family has new neighbors during the holidays, which they are the Hall family. Buddy Hall (Danny DeVito), his wife Tia (Kristen Chenoweth) and their twin daughters, Ashley (Emily Aldridge) and Emily (Kelly Aldridge). Buddy is a pro salesman in a Car Dealership department but he quickly get bored with the previous jobs, he had. Buddy wants to do something totally different for Christmas, he has the idea to have many colorful Christmas lights on his house that they can be seen from Space! Soon enough, it truly annoys Steve and he feels that Buddy will ruined his Christmas spirit. He decides to do whatever it takes to ruined Buddy's Christmas. Especially they competed against each other during the holidays.
Directed by John Whitesell (Big Momma's House 2, Malibu's Most Wanted, See Spot Run) made an decent Christmas movie with some low-brow laughs and an few moments of mean-spirited gags. Broderick and DeVito are certainly good in their roles. But the script could have been much better, sometimes i wonder if the movie was meant to be darker at times. Perphas the dirtiest joke in the movie, when Broderick and DeVito are amused (and probably turned-on) by watching live performance of "Santa Baby", not realized in these short Christmas skirts and Christmas costumes is their daughters. But the worst thing about the movie is the Christmas lights, especially in DeVito's home in the picture. After watching the movie, it kinda made me sick watching these different colors Christmas lights. Overall, "Deck the Halls" is fairly amusing two-thirds of the way but the movie always goes overkill. Too bad with a brighter script, this feature could have been really good. Watchable but nothing memorable. (***/*****).
The Experiment (2010)
Interesting, flawed thriller.
26 men has been chosen to join the roles of Prison Guards and Prisoners for the experiment for two long weeks. The prize is $14,000 a person if they can last two weeks for this experiment. Travis (Oscar-Winner:Ardien Brody) is hoping to get the money for a long deserved vacation and Travis is called Prisoner 77 for the study. Barris (Oscar-Winner:Forest Whitaker) is seemingly normal man, who never had power in his life. Barris is one of the prison guards. This experiment is in a isolated area. At first, the experiment goes well until the prisoners slowly starts acting like real prisoners. It seems that Travis is the lead of the group. While the Prison Guards are getting more sadistic and powerful. Travis would never expected this strange experiment to be deadly real.
Written and Directed by Paul Scheuring made an effective thriller, based on the original German 2001 film titled "Das Experiment". Oscar-Winners:Brody and Whitaker are terrific in the movie. While Cam Gigandet and Travis Fimmel offers scene-stealing performances as the brutal guards. Originally made for theatrical release, somehow this feature went Direct-to-DVD instead. Which it is too bad, because the movie is powerful and brutal at times. Despite some silly dialogue, especially coming from the worst Prison Guards in the movie.
The Canadian DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an strong Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Unlike the American DVD and Blu-ray. The Canadian DVD offers some special features like interviews, B-Roll footage and behind the scenes featurette. "The Experiment" has an few flaws. The first, i wish the movie was much longer. Especially getting to know some of the Prison Guards and Prisoners better in supporting roles. The feature also lacks an satisfying conclusion. But still, strong performances by Oscar-Winner:Brody, Oscar-Winner:Whitaker (His role shows shades of "The Last King of Scotland"), Gignadet and Fimmel makes this picture worth watching. Usually talented character actor:Clifton Collins Jr. is sadly wasted in a underwritten role as one of the prisoners. Super 35. (****/*****).
Strange, unique, sometimes darkly funny disturbing movie.
James G. Ballard (James Spader) is a film director in Toronto, who is bored at his job. His stunningly attractive wife Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger) is bored as well. Which James and Catherine have something of a open relationship. They both fool around at times. One night, when James wasn't paying attention during a late drive. He went off the road and his car collided dead-on, accidentally killing the male passenger. While trapped in the fused wreckage, the driver, Dr. Helen Remington (Oscar-Winner:Holly Hunter), her husband is accidentally killed by James. Weeks has passed, while James and Helen left the hospital and suddenly find themselves turned on. While James was nearly caught in a car accident again with Helen as his passenger. Slowly, James finds himself in a different world. Where a group of people are sexually aroused to car crashes. When James meets the mysterious Vaughan (Elias Koteas), a renegade scientist shows him the world in a different light and which Vaughan is overcome by the excitement of car crashes.
Directed by David Cronenberg (The Brood, The Dead Zone, Scanners) made an genuinely, unpleasant odd drama with explicit sex although this feature is anti-erotic. "Crash" is a fascinating movie, which for some viewers is extremely difficult to make any sense from this feature. But what keeps it alive are the cold performances from Spader, Unger and especially Koteas in one of his best roles. "Crash" is divided into two separate audiences, some will watch this for the intriguing story and the other audiences would watch this for the strange sex sequences (Which some are truly memorable). Cronenberg is certainly no stranger to controversial movies. "Crash" is sometimes shocking but Cronenberg gives intelligence to this unusual movie.
DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) transfer and an good Dolby 2.0 Surround Sound. "Crash" includes the original "NC-17" version and the re-edited "R-Rated" version. Although, i never watched the "R-Rated" cut. It is better to stay with the original version. DVD also includes the original theatrical trailer as well. "Crash" is certainly strong movie to watch, although it is tough to take for some tastes. Cronenberg's themes are present here, some might think of "Crash" as one of Cronenberg's best movies. Although i am a fan of Cronenberg's work, especially with his recent features like "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises" are certainly his best works in years. I think, "Crash" is a very good movie. I don't think (For me, anyway) to be one of his better work. It is the most curio film that he ever made. To best enjoy this feature is simply watching it with a open mind. Based on a novel by the late J.G. Ballard (Empire of the Sun). Screenplay by Cronenberg. (****/*****).
Amusing, sleazy, action-movie.
Dean Johnson (Fred Williamson) came to Bucktown to bury his murdered brother. Dean is forced to stay in Bucktown for two months, because of his brother's will. Now Dean works on his late brother's bar, he becomes friends with a foxy lady named Aretha (Pam Grier) but he has to deal with a sleazy police force led by Chief Patterson (Art Lund) and his men. When Dean calls his best friend Roy (Thalmus Rasulala) to clean up the mess in Bucktown with the help of Roy's men. The clean up is successful and getting rid of these sleazy cops but it ain't easy. Dean slowly realized that Roy and his men are the same of the previous corrupt cops. They want money from any business in town. Now Dean becomes a one-man army to get rid of Roy and his men.
Directed by Arthur Marks (Detroit 9000, Friday Foster, J.D.'s Revenge) made an entertaining, action movie with some good laughs. Williamson is fun to watch as the lead hero. Grier is fine as Dean's girlfriend. Rasulala and Lund are strong in supporting roles. It is nice to Carl Weathers as one of Roy's tough guys in a small role.
DVD has an good anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer and an OK Dolby 2.0 Mono Sound. The DVD's only extra is the original theatrical trailer. "Bucktown" does have some good moments, some of the dialogue are extremely funny but the movie becomes laughable at times and forced at times. Despite some flaws, It's a fun "Soul Cinema" feature. (*** ½/*****).
Graveyard Shift (1990)
Pretty good horror "Rat" movie.
John Hall (David Andrews) is a drifter looking for a job in a small town, somewhere in Maine. He is hired by Warwick (Stephen Macht) to work the Graveyard Shift at the local textile mill. Some of the employees are starting to disappear during the night shift. When Warwick hires John and a group of other workers to work in the fourth of July for clean-up work. Soon enough, they discover the unknown.
Directed by Ralph S. Singleton made an decent horror movie, based on a short story by Stephen King (Cat's Eye, Creepshow, Stand by Me). The two-thirds of "Graveyard Shift" is pretty good, but the Giant Rat-Bat(!) shows up towards the end, the feature turns silly. Still, there is some good performances by Andrews, Macht and Brad Dourif as the Exterminator. Andrew Diroff, Best Known as The Djinn in "Wishmaster 1 & 2" is wasted in a supporting role. Die-Hard fans of Stephen King might forgive some of the flawed. Despite, an messy third act. It is worth a look. (*** ½/*****).
Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
An beautiful. touching, story between two different prisoners.
In a Brazilian prison cell, there is two different people shares an cell. A homosexual man named Luis Molina (Oscar-Winner:William Hurt) is in prison for having sex with a minor and Valentin Arregui (The late Raul Julia) is a political prisoner for the revolutionary group. Which Valentin is been tortured by the prison guards for searching any answering for his political views. Luis keeps his spirit alive by telling old tacky Hollywood movies by past the day, although it entertains Valentin somewhat. As the two prisoners get to know each other, the more Valentin opens up to Luis. But Luis is hoping to get his prison time reduce, if he tells the prison warden (José Lewgoy) some of Valentin's secrets. While Luis is slowly falling in love with Valentin.
Directed by Hector Babenco (At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Ironweed) made an intriguing drama that mixes romance, fantasy and comedy quite well. Hurt won an Oscar for his superb three-dimensional performance. The late Julia is also terrific. While Sonia Braga is amusing in three different roles, which two of the roles are in Luis' tales. This is unique movie that is surprisingly fast-paced and quite moving at times. The movie was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapated Screenplay by the late Leonard Schrader (Blue Collar, Naked Tango, The Yakuza) and Best Director.
The DVD is the two-disc set. Disc One has an good anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) transfer and an fine digitally remastered:Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound (Also in the original Mono sound). Disc One also includes an trivia track in English and Spanish. Disc Two includes an fascinating documentary with the cast & the crew that runs 108 minutes. Disc Two also includes three featurettes, photo galleries and more. "Kiss of the Spider Woman" was an daring movie back in the 1980's, it is certainly much less controversial feature today. Still, the movie has its charms, thanks to Hurt's lovely performance and the late Julia's strong role. Based on a novel by the late Miguel Puig. (****/*****).
Great, sardonic Christmas movie.
Clark Griswold, Jr. (Chevy Chase), his wife Helen (Beverly D'Angelo) and their kids, Rusty (Johnny Galecki) and Andrey (Juliette Lewis) are spending Christmas at their home in the suburban Chicago. Clark invited his family (Diane Ladd and John Randolph) and his wife's family (E.G. Marshall and Doris Roberts) for Christmas. Clark is hoping to get his big Christmas bonus, so, he can buy an swimming pool for his family. As Christmas comes near, Helen's cousin Catherine (Miriam Flynn) and her husband Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) unexpected comes to their home with their two kids (Ellen Hamilton Latzen and Cody Burger) and their dog. Clark's Christmas holiday is suddenly getting bigger and also turning into a mess. Nothing is sane for Clark during his vacation and especially the holidays.
Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik (The Avengers, Benny & Joon, Diabolique "2006") made an amusing Christmas movie that is occasionally dark but over two decades, the movie has become an modern holiday classic. Chase is certainly fun to watch in this picture, who does his best to give his family the best Christmas ever but always turns opposite instead. Quaid is great as Cousin Eddie, who steals the show, when he is on-screen.
DVD has an good anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) transfer and an good Dolby 2.0 Surround Sound. DVD's only real extra is the decent commentary track by the director, the executive producer:Matty Simmons and cast members:D'Angelo, Quaid, Flynn and Galecki. DVD also includes the original theatrical trailer. "Christmas Vacation" does have some clever gags, some real laughs with some cheap jokes but the movie manage to be good-hearted and it is always fun to watch the holidays. Don't miss it. Written by the late John Hughes (The Breakfest Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Uncle Buck). (****/*****).
2 Days in the Valley (1996)
Entertaining, sometimes very funny dark comedy.
Two hit men Dosmo Pizzo (Danny Aiello) and Lee Woods (James Spader) are making a hit on a cheating husband Roy Foxx (Peter Horton). Before they killed him, they drugged his ex-wife Becky (Teri Hatcher), who was sleeping next to her ex-husband. While Lee double-crossed Dosmo, which Lee thought he killed him by blowing out their car. But Dosmo escaped before the car exploded, now Dosmo finds himself in a nice house with an swimming pool but Dosmo isn't alone. Since he is taking hostage of an mean-spirited art dealer (Greg Cruttwell) and his assistant (Glenne Headly). While Lee went back to his hotel with his Normegian girlfriend Helga (Oscar-Winner:Charlize Theron). Now, the both of them are waiting for their money for their last hit. While two police detectives Wes (Eric Stoltz) and Alvin (Jeff Daniels), who hates each other finds themselves on a crime scene, where Roy died. But Wes thinks, there is something not quite right about the murder. While an suicidal TV Producer Teddy Peppers (Paul Mazursky) is trying to himself unsuccessful but in these two days in the San Frenando Valley nothing is what it seems.
Written and Directed by John Herzfeld (The Death and Life of Bobby Z, 15 Minutues, Two of a Kind) made an entertaining Black Comedy that is sometimes very amusing but what makes the movie highly watchable is thanks to a sharp cast. The movie has some surprises and some good laughs. Aiello seems to be having one hell of a time in his role. While Mazursky (Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Moon over Parador, Moscow on the Hudson) steals the show in his supporting cast. Although not a box office success, "2 Days in the Valley" did manage to have an cult following.
DVD has an sharp non-anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an good Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has Cast Bios and the Original Theatrical Trailer. "2 Days in the Valley" is a film that is hardly original but it is clever. The cast are really good and it is nicely shot in Widescreen by Oliver Wood (The Bourne Trilogy, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Mr. Holland's Opus). There is some familiar faces in bit parts. The feature is certainly worth a look. Panavision. (****/*****).
Charming, often funny, fantasy Christmas movie.
Papa Elf (Bob Newhart) tells a story about a thirty year old man named Buddy (Will Ferrell), who lived in the North Pole. Buddy is the only human begin living in that area, since Buddy as a baby accidentally crawls on Santa Claus' (Ed Asner) sack. Buddy is raised by Papa Elf, when Buddy finally realized that he is human. Buddy decides to find his real father, who lives in New York City. His father Walter Hobbs (James Caan) is a humorless working business man, who has an family of his own. Since Walter has an wife named Emily (Oscar-Winner:Mary Steenburgen) and their son Michael (Daniel Tray). Buddy finds New York City to be an whole different place, since some of the people, he meets are cold-blooded. Buddy decides to bring Christmas cheer to the New Yorkers, especially his father and make them believe that Santa Claus truly exists. At the same time, Buddy falls in love with a shy department store worker named Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), who has an lovely voice. This is one adventure in the Big Apple that Buddy will never forget.
Directed by Jon Farveau (Iron Man 1 & 2, Made, Zathura) made an amusing Christmas movie that is somewhat different and fresh, thanks to a very likable performance by Farrell. Which Farrell is absolutely charming and child-like in his role. Deschanel is lovely in her role as Buddy's love interest. This movie has some very funny vignettes and an strong cast in the supporting roles. Caan does his best in a underwritten role. Asner and Newhart has some moments in their scene-stealing roles. Peter Dinklage has one of the funnier moments with Farrell is the biggest laugh of the movie.
DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer (Also in Pan and Scan) and an good Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The Single Disc DVD, the only special feature is the original theatrical trailer. "Elf" is certainly one of those movies will play during the Christmas holidays. "Elf" isn't a perfect picture, it has some flaws. But it is Farrell's amusing performance gives the heart in the right place, which it will delights kids and adults. "Elf" is a very good movie to watch, especially during Christmas. The movie has some choice cameos, including Peter Billingsley (Who is best known playing Ralphie in "A Christmas Story) and director:Favreau as a doctor. (****/*****).
Grown Ups (2010)
Entertaining, silly comedy about friendship.
Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) is a Hollywood agent, he finds out that his basketball coach (Blake Clark) from his childhood died. Lenny brings his wife Roxanne (Selma Hayek) and their three spoiled children (Jake Goldberg, Cameron Boyce and Alexys Nycole Sanchez) to the funeral. At the same time, Lenny meets his former childhood friends, Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock), Marcus (David Spade) and Rob (Rob Schneider). Which Lenny decided to rent the lake house for the fourth of July weekend for his friends, his family and his friends' family. Which is to honor their former basketball coach. Lenny, Eric, Kurt, Marcus and Rob wasn't changed that much, despite having families and Lenny having an successful Hollywood career. These five friends and their families have a lot to do and talk about until the fourth of July is over.
Directed by Dennis Dugan (National Security, Problem Child, You Don't Mess with the Zohan) made an amusing comedy about friendship. At first, the movie seems to be the light-hearted version of "The Big Chill". Since Dugan has an strong comedic cast including Mario Bello, Maya Rudolph and Joyce Van Patten. Dugan is no stranger working with Sandler or some of the cast members like James, Rock, Spade and Schneider since he worked with these comedic actors before. "Grown Ups" is a simple, low-ball comedy that has some big laughs, if you are an fan of their work.
The Blu-ray has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 1080P transfer and an good DTS 5.1 HD Surround Sound. The Blu-ray includes an running commentary track by the director, deleted scenes, outtakes, mini-featurettes and more. This is one of Dugan's most pleasing comedies. An top comedic cast makes up for the flawed moments of the feature. "Grown Ups" is a fun comedy to please the fan of the five leading actors. Especially, since the movie was an major box office hit during the summer of 2010. There are some familiar faces in bit-parts. Written by actor:Sandler and Fred Wolf (Dirty Work, Joe Dirt, Strange Wilderness). (****/*****).
A Christmas Story (1983)
"A Christmas Story" has become one of the best Christmas movies of all times.
Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) wants a genuine Red Ryder 200-shot Carbing Action Air Rifle for Christmas. This story is set in the early 1940's. Ralphie tries to convinced his gruff dad (The late Darren McGavin) and his doting mother (Melinda Dillon) that Gift for Christmas. Ralphine starts giving his parents some hints and asking Santa Claus as well. But he has to deal with a neighbour bully named Scotty Farkus (Zack Ward). Which he, his brother (Ian Petrella) and his two friends (Scott Schwartz and R.D. Robb) has to deal with Farkus, when school is over for the day. As well for other different situations and messes that Ralphie has to deal with before Christmas.
Directed by the late Bob Clark (Death of Night, Loose Cannons, Porky) made an entertaining, original Christmas comedy that become an massive cult classic during the holidays. Since the original release of the movie was a minor box office hit. Billingsley gives an terrific performance as Ralphine, since Billingsley has become an Hollywood producer and director. Although this movie does have an great cast, especially the parents, played by Dillon and the late McGavin feels like genuinely dysfunctional family.
The Blu-ray has an good anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 1080P transfer and an fine Dolby 1.0 Mono Sound. The Blu-ray includes an entertaining commentary track by the late director:Clark and actor:Billingsley, an documentary of the film with the cast & crew, 2 featurettes, script pages (Which scenes were filmed but deleted from the final cut), original theatrical trailer and commerical about the infamous "Leg Lamp". "A Christmas Story" has become one of the best movies of Clark, along with a different holiday horror picture titled "Black Christmas". Which for some die-hard fans of Clark's work would make an fascinating double feature. This is certainly the holiday movie is always played every holiday, along with some classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street". "A Christmas Story" is a really good movie that is made more for adults than for kids. But Kids and Adults will certainly enjoy this. Based on a novel by the late Jean Shephard "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash". Which he appears in a cameo and he also co-wrote the screenplay, along with the director and the late Leigh Brown. (****/*****).
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Amusing, sometimes even darkly funny, Christmas movie.
Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a true workaholic mattress salesman, who's been never been quite there for his sensitive son Jamie (Jake Lloyd). Since Howard missed his son karate class, he promises to make up for his mistakes if Jamie wanted an special gift for Christmas. Jamie wants an action figure of Turbo Man, the hottest Christmas toy of the year. Howard totally forgot to buy his gift. He is forced to go shopping on Christmas Eve, but Howard meet his match, an desperate postal worker named Myron Larabee (Sinbad). Which he turns out to be a major sicko. Now these two men are searching for this toy all over the city of Minneapolis. Howard also has to deal with his sleazy neighbour (The late Phil Hartman), who wants Howard's wife Liz (Rita Wilson).
Directed by Brian Levant (Problem Child 2, Beethoven, The Flintstones) made an enjoyable, wildly crazy Holiday movie about commercialism. Schwarzenegger does his best with his role as the absent father, who tries really hard to get "Turbo Man" for his son for Christmas. Sinbad has some funny moment as Howard's arrival. But it is the late Hartman steals the show as the womanizer neighbour. Although "Jingle All the Way" did so-so business at the box office, the film did went to have an loyal cult following over the years.
DVD has two versions, the original theatrical version and the extended version with five minutes of additional footage. Which both versions are fine, probably die-hard fans of the movie will stick to the theatrical version. DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer and an good Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD includes three featurettes, two games and an photo gallery. I would have love, if they added an filmmaker's commentary track. "Jingle All the Way", it is an fun movie to watch during the holidays, along with "Richard Donner's Scrooged", "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", "The Ref" and "Bad Santa". Which all these holidays movie are darkly humorous. "Jingle All the Way" is notable for being Schwarzenegger's last comedy. James Belushi (Schwarzenegger's co-star from "Red Heat") appears in a amusing supporting role as a con man, dressed an Santa Claus. Don't miss it. (****/*****).
Bad Boys (1995)
Typically buddy-cop movie but it is stylishly made.
Two hip detectives, Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowery are on the case of the missing drugs got stolen in their police department. Now the narcotics division of the Miami Police Department might be shut down, if the drugs is found soon. But the drug investigation turns deadly serious, when Mike's beautiful police informant (Karen Alexander) got killed by the vicious criminal low-life (Tcheky Kayo). Which low-life and his men stolen the drugs. When an attractive woman (Téa Leoni) witness the crime, she asks Mike Lowery for help. But since the police department can't lose the witness, Marcus is forced to pretend to be Mike Lowery. Since Mike is a ladies man and Marcus is a family man. Marcus and Mike only have an few days to find the drugs before it is too late.
Directed by Michael Bay (Armageddon, The Island, The Rock) made an wildly if uneven entertaining action movie with two enjoyable performances by Lawrence and Smith. Leoni is surprisingly good as the woman, who comes unexpectedly to their life's. Typical story made stylized by director Bay, who tries to make it fresh and different from buddy cop movies and he almost succeed. Since it is the directorial debut by Bay, who has great eye for action sequences.
DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) transfer and an strong Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has an fairly interesting commentary track by the director, an isolated music score by Mark Mancina (Speed, Training Day, Twister), an behind the scenes featurette and more. "Bad Boys" isn't an great action movie, the premise could have been much better. Originally "Bad Boys" was going to be made with Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz! Certainly that would be a much different movie. It is made watchable, thanks to Lawrence, Smith and Leoni. It is a good if not totally successful movie from Bay. Followed by a sequel. (*** ½/*****).
The Devil's Rain (1975)
Interesting premise turns somewhat laughable.
A curse hovers over the Preston family for generations. They betrayed their former cult leader Satanic priest John Corbis (Oscar-Winner:Ernest Borgnine). Corbis wants the Satanic book that holds great power. Mrs. Preston (The late Ida Lupino) is kidnapped by Corbis' followers. Now, it is up to Mark Preston (William Snatner) is to find his kidnapped mother and the followers lives in a Ghost Town in the desert. But these cult followers tricked Mark and they turned his mother into one of Corbis' followers. While Mark keeps the book hidden from Corbis. Now Mark's brother Tom (Tom Skerritt) and his wife (Joan Prather) are searching for his brother and his mother along with Dr. Sam Richards (The late Eddie Albert), a psychic researcher. While these satanists truly want the book. Tom has to find a way to his family before it is too late.
Directed by Robert Fuest (And Soon the Darkness) made an offbeat approach to a story about Satanists. At times, "The Devil's Rain" is effective at times but also, it has some moments of unintentional laughter. Especially when Satan appears in his goat-like appearance. Some strong performances from Borgnine, Snatner and Skerritt makes this movie watchable. The movie does have good make-up effects and it is well shot in Widescreen by Alex Phillips Jr. (Born in East L.A., Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia). But the problem with "The Devil's Rain", the premise is not coherent enough and this picture could have been really scary.
But still, it is fairly entertaining with an early-role for John Travolta in a bit part. As one Australian film critic called "The Devil's Rain", "The ultimate cult movie", "It's about a cult, has a cult following, was devised with input from a cult leader, and saw a future superstar indoctrinated into a cult he'd help popularize". That what's pretty sums it's all for "The Devil's Rain". Todd-AO 35. (*** ½/*****).
Saw 3D (2010)
Nicely done "Saw" movie is hopefully the last feature of the series.
Corrupted Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) survived the trap that was set by Jigsaw's former wife Jill (Besty Russell). Now Hoffman is mad as hell, he truly wants Jill dead and he is adding some new traps for his victims for the last time. Hoffman has his eyes on Bobby Degan (Sean Patrick Flanery). Who is supposed to survived a Jigsaw Trap. Bobby is a self-help guru, who achieved fame by writing an successful book. Hoffman has kidnapped Bobby, along his wife Joyce (Gina Holden), his publicist Nina (Noami Snieckus), his lawyer Suzanne (Rebecca Marshell) and his best friend Cale (Dean Armstrong). Bobby has 90 minutes to save all of them before it is too late.
Directed by Kevin Greutert (Saw 6) made an entertaining horror-thriller with some amusing cheap thrills and some gross-out moments. Greutert is no stranger to the "Saw" series, since he edited five "Saw" movies (From the first one to the fifth movies). Tobin Bell, who played Jigsaw is barely in this one. Since his character died in the third movie. Screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan did really tried hard to keep Jigsaw character alive by only using back-stories to that character.
Since i seen this movie in Real 3D, the 3D effects did work quiet well. But the biggest surprise of "Saw 3D" is Cary Elwes, who played Dr. Lawrence Gordon is the original is back in a small supporting role. Although, i wished Elwes role was bigger. But Flanery is a stand-out in the role. "Saw 3D" is actually better than some of the sequels. This was an fun movie to watch in a movie theater with audiences. Since this is the last "Saw" movie, one of the best parts of the feature is the surprise if predictable finale. Fans of the series will be quite happy with this one. (****/*****).
The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
Highly watchable, original drama.
Chelsea, although her real name is Christine (Sasha Grey) is a high-priced call girl living in Manhattan. Chelsea offers sex for her clients but as well for public and private intimacy. She offers conversation, she is a good listener, intelligent and she is very attractive young woman. But these days, Chelsea noticed that her clients are spending less and less frequently in her company. Her caring boyfriend Chris (Chris Santos) is open-minded to her business. But she finds herself drawn to a new client, she never meet. He is a screenwriter (Timothy Davis) from Los Angeles, who is out of town. At the same time, she meets a sleazy critic, who called himself "The Erotic Connoisseur" (Glenn Kenny). Who wants an freebie from her and he will write an supposedly good review about her. Chelsea is a professional for her work, although she truly struggles with her relationships, her relationship with her live-in boyfriend, her finances and her feelings for a new client.
Directed by Oscar-Winner:Steven Soderbergh (The "Ocean" Trilogy, Out of Sight, Traffic). Which Soderbergh is no stranger to independent films and Hollywood movies. Gray is surprisingly good in the lead role, which she is an adult film star. I would like to see Gray doing more independent/mainstream movies. I thought, she was truly solid in the movie. Soderbergh's picture is extremely well-acted, well shot on digital Widescreen cameras and the feature is sometimes funny. Since "The Girlfriend Experience" is about sex, there is very little or no sex in this movie, despite one nude scene with Gray.
DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widescreen (2.35:1) transfer and an good Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD has an humorous and informative commentary track by the director and lead actress:Gray, an alternative cut and an five minute "Promo" about the movie. "The Girlfriend Experience" isn't perfect to say the least but its comes very close. This feature has an fascinating adult subject matter. Since the movie is set of the economic recession and the presidential election is actually clever. Since the story is not told in chronological order. "The Girlfriend Experience" is certainly not for all tastes. But it is intelligent, mature work from Soderbergh. He is certainly one of the most original filmmakers out-there, so, don't miss it. Written by Brain Koppelman and David Levien. Which Koppelman and Levin are best known for their screen writing work in movies like "Knockaround Guys", "Rounders" and "Walking Tall (2004)". HD Widescreen. (****/*****).
Amusing, often very funny, police comedy.
Strictly by the book Police Detective by the name of Sgt. Joe Friday (Dan Aykroyd) is forced to work with an streetwise new partner named Pep Streebek (Two-Time Oscar Winner:Tom Hanks). Which Friday takes his work too seriously (and too old-fashioned as well) and while Streebek is too carefree for his job. Their job is to find and arrest so-called cult figures, who called themselves P.A.G.A.N. (People Against Goodness And Normalcy). When Friday and Streebek find some leads, they witness an secret PAGAN ceremony. Which they were about to murder an attractive virgin woman named Connie Swail (Alexandra Paul). Friday and Streebek saved the woman, but sooner than later... They found out that PAGAN is controlled by a power-mad reverend (Christopher Plummer) and corrupt Police Commissioner (Elizabeth Ashley).
Directed by the late:Tom Mankiewicz (Delirious) made an entertaining, cop comedy is mixed with satire and some real silliness. Aykroyd gives one of his best performances as Sgt. Joe Friday. While Hanks is very likable as his partner. While Paul (Best known for "John Carpenter's Christine") is very sweet as Friday's love interest. This was an surprise Box Office hit in the summer of 1987. The movie certainly plays well on TV.
DVD has an grainy if occasionally sharp anamorphic Widescreen (1.77:1) transfer and an good Dolby 2.0 Surround Sound. DVD also includes Production Notes, Cast & Filmmakers' Bios, Film Highlights and the Original Theatrical Trailer. "Dragnet" did went on to have an loyal cult following on video. The best thing about Dragnet is Aykroyd, since he co-wrote the movie. Aykroyd has great dialogue, especially when he is talking fast, complete with a straight face. If you haven't seen "Dragnet", don't miss, one of the better comedies of the 1980's. Written by Aykroyd (Ghostbusters 1 & 2, The Blues Brothers, Spies Like Us), Alan Zweibel (North, The Story of Us) and director:Mankiewicz. Based on a popular TV series, created by the late Jack Webb. (****/*****).