Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Last King of Scotland

MUST-SEE: A good political warfare movie teaches its audience, as well as entertains them. Comparable to Hotel Rwanda and Blood Diamond, The Last King of Scotland does both. And the quality of this one falls right in the middle of those two. We are introduced to Dr. Nicholas Garriger (James McAvoy), who abandons his comfy home and promising career in Scotland to pursue a career in medical relief in Uganda. Young and naive, Nicholas accepts a job as personal doctor to the president, Whitaker's Idi Amin. Everything is a party until Amin's personality seeps through. People go missing, people are found dead, and most start to live in fear. Dr. Nicholas finds himself a prisoner in the unrest, unable to leave, unable to speak, and fearful of his every move. The film does a fantastic job of creating the sense of fear that spread across Uganda during the regime's assaults. Whitaker earned his Oscar for his portrayal. The director didn't hold back either, exposing even the most graphic details of Amin's power trip. There is no room for tears, though, in this movie, which sets it below Rwanda, because suspense and anxiety, and disgust take precedence. This film is fantastic. The acting deep and emotional. The scenery beautiful and entrapping. The story powerful and grotesque. It's not light. It will leave a pit in your stomach, so know that going in, but let it's story grip you despite and you'll support the Academy on this one.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

WORTH-IT (Verbinski): The third installment of Disney's favorite franchise has been getting a lot of heat. Whether they complain it is too long, claim it was too confusing, or insist the ending was awful, everyone is finding something wrong with it. My suggestion is to get over that Part 3 wasn't the perfect ending you envisioned. First of all, you didn't write it, you didn't direct it, so basically, it isn't your movie to disapprove. Aside from those assumptions, I think Pirates 3 was a solid next chapter. Yes, the ending is foggy. Verbinski is quoted as saying they are leaving the ending open for a fourth, but not binding themselves to it. If we could all take a step back to early Disney movies... you'll remember that almost every one finished up with a happily ever after that we could re-visit for life. (Remember Aladdin 2, Little Mermaid 2, ETC.?) Fortunately, all the fantasy tales provide just that, a tale. NOT a lifetime time line. So, embrace Pirates 3 for what it leaves to our imagination, and appreciate that they MIGHT revisit Jack and friends come several years, to compensate the growing curiosity you were left with at world's end. 3 offers great humor, stronger characters, more digitalized wonder, and a special appearance by Keith Richards himself (the vision of Cap'n Jack). It's a long movie, rounding out at 3 hours, and it's a delicate weave of pirate code, myth, and water. But, it comes together in the end. Everything makes sense, and you spend many moments wanting to cheer on different guys. You never know who to trust, never know who to hate, and in the end, are left wanting more. So, take your thinking cap, and keep your eyes wide open. It's a vision of digital candy and an earful of witty one-liners, all thrown in with intricate story lines. Have fun with it!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Waitress: Don't Wait to see it

(Shelley) MUST-SEE: From this day forth, Keri Russell is in my book. I've never seen Felicity, so really only knew her for her bouncy curls and cutesy smile. Lord, underestimation of the year. She was great! She was quirky, funny, and convincing. (And that cutesy smile is only one of her many talented faces). Waitress surprised me. I expected the usual quirkiness of a Sundance flick, but it carried beyond that. Sure, it started slow, keeping us entertained by the "pie culture" of down-south somewhere, and the anti-maternal antics of Russell's character. And, of course, bringing Andy Griffith into the picture drew swarms of blue-hairs. (And his sour character was the one most loved). But the story, a predictable one, was intriguing and unique in its own sense. We knew what was going to happen, but we held on to watch Russell's Jenna tread her path. All of the characters made me feel their heartache. I shed tears. I laughed out loud. I identified. Shelley delivered a stellar film here, and I suggest it to all. I think men and women can both appreciate the humor and the heart of this film. It brings out the good and the ugly and it helps us to laugh and cry at both. Watch this film. It's transcendence is truly a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shrek the Third: Third Time's a Charmer

WORTH-IT: This third installment was a complete joy to watch. I loved the storyline, but despite the plot, the script is hilarious. The story doesn't even have to be good, because the humor overrides anything sub-par. And the humor is complex and diverse. It covers several senses of humor (dry, tongue-in-cheek, satirical...) and requires an appreciation for every one. I laughed out loud for the majority of the movie. The introduction of every fairy tale character ever creates a nostalgic trip back for viewers of all ages, and, as every good family-friendly comedy should, it appeals on two levels:one for kids and one for adults. I loved it. It keeps the stage open for a Shrek 4 and entices audiences to keep coming. I'll see the fourth. And the fifth. And so on.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Stomp the Yard

QUESTIONABLE: Its hard to think of exactly what I want to say about this movie. I want to describe the energy well enough to keep your opinion aimiable, but in reality, I don't think you're missing too much by skipping this one. The dancing, stepping, and music was phenomenal. Rap, R&B, and rock collide to pump up the teams, the crowds, and the viewer. But, the acting, the back-up storyline, and the execution fell slack. Actually, it fell OFF the yard. Good ideas left out to dry, powerful monologues slammed into a brick wall before blooming, and the potential for incredible digital videography was lost. I think it goes without saying that this is stereotypcial for most dancer movies, but I was thoroughly disappointed this time. I love Chris Brown, but his big-name pull only pulled until he got shot. From then on, it was a laugh, accompanied by great moves and music.

Monday, May 14, 2007


WORTH-IT: (Gregory Hoblit) Fracture is an entertaining movie. The acting was great, the story was compelling, and the trickiness is awesome. As far as one of my favorite movies... it didn't make the cut. (Which is rare, but I am working on narrowing my scope). I was thoroughly entertained. I love Anthony Hopkins and he mastered this role, as his usual bad guy. Gosling I have developed a much deeper respect for and am excited to see him continue to pursue roles with this kind of depth. He did a wonderful job. I hated him and then was on his side, and was completely convinced each time. My confusion is that the twist to the story seemed obvious the whole time. Therefore I could not figure out whether we were supposed to have figured it out and the point was to simply enjoy watching Gosling's character suffer to figure it out, or if I just caught on early, in which case, it was way too obvious. Either way, I liked it for whichever it attempted to be and think it can appeal to anyone looking for a good courtroom drama mixed with a Hopkins-esque psycho defendant.