ENJOY THE SHOW
I'm gonna start out by saying I loved this film. Let me just get it out of the way now. Zombie Strippers is a fun, frolicking fest of undead female flesh! It is packed with enough laughs, nudity and philosophy to make it required viewing for any college student's weekend late night plans. Not since Chopper Chick in Zombie Town have I laughed this hard at an intentionally funny horror film. For sheer entertainment value, Zombie Strippers ranks among the top films of the year.
There is only one game in a casino where you play against the house and you have the possibility of beating the odds - if you know what you're doing. That game is blackjack aka 21. The rules are simple: starting with two cards, you can keep drawing until you get as close to 21 as you can without going over. The dealer does the same thing and whoever is closer at the end, wins. Simple, right?
Well, in the early 80s through the early 90s, different groups of students at MIT used a mathematical system to beat the game and take various casinos for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then, in 1993, it all changed. A small group of MIT students, led by a charismatic mathematics professor, decided to try and take Vegas for the big score. The new film 21 is based loosely on their experiences.
Shutter, the latest in the Asian/American horror film exchange program, is one of the weaker entries, although it still has enough chills to make it a decent Friday night date film. The story is typical horror film fare: photographer Ben Shaw (Joshua Jackson) and his wife Jane (Rachael Taylor) get married and move to Japan where Ben has a job. For Ben, this is his second tour in Japan, having lived there two years earlier working for the same company. This time, though, since he's newly married, he and his wife spend a few days honeymooning. As Jane drives the couple to an idyllic cabin in the shadow of Mt. Fuji, a ghostly female figure appears on the road. Jane can't get out of the way fast enough and runs the girl down, crashing the car in the process. Of course, when she and Ben examine the road, no body is found. Like I said, typical.
Run Fatboy Run is probably the worst, if most descriptive, title of a film out this season. In the simplest terms, it tells you the basic plot of a film where a slightly overweight man, Dennis (Simon Pegg), is going to do some running. What it doesn't tell you, however, is how much heart, humor and honesty there is in this little film. And how much you'll enjoy the hundred minutes you spend in the theater watching it.
The first real tear-jerker of 2008 is here and it's called La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon). That "same moon" is the one under which both Rosario, a young mother working in Los Angeles and Carlitos, her nine year old son back in Mexico, both sleep. It's the moon they both look at knowing the other is also looking. It's a way they have to connect with each other between their weekly Sunday morning phone calls. At times, it is the only hope they have of ever seeing each other again.
The filmmakers behind the new animated feature Horton Hears a Who have created a sumptuous looking movie, however, they seem to have missed the mark when it comes to their intended audience. Which is to say they never quite master the great cartoon juggling act which involves enough silliness to keep the little ones interested and enough smart and clever dialogue and plot to satisfy the parents. Here, it seems, there are times when anything happening on screen beyond the visual is going to go right over the children's heads while at other times, the film plays like bad Saturday morning fare - and there's really very little crossover.
Sports movies have their own tropes and clichés. There's always the underdog team, the former star hoping for a comeback, the rising star looking for his break, the down-and-out owner looking to make his team profitable and the big play at the end which redeems everything. Semi-Pro, Will Ferrell's new vehicle, hits all of those conventions and at the same time adds in a new one, that of Will Ferrell.
Recently, there has been a run of films which should be good based on everything from idea to cast to behind the camera talent and yet they just don't work. Vantage Point is the latest entry in this long and distinguished list.
The film steals it's basic idea from Akira Kurosawa's Rashômon, where the same event is seen from differing perspectives. The idea is that when seen from a different angle, different things become more apparent. Here, the central event is the attempted assassination of the President of The United States (William Hurt) while at a summit meeting in Spain and the efforts of Secret Serviceman Thomas Barnes (Dennis Quaid), who took a bullet for his Commandeer-in-Chief a year prior, to solve the crime.
The biggest problem with Doug Liman's new action film Jumper is that, well, it's boring. There's not enough action in it to keep the plot moving and not enough drama to really engage the viewer. Ultimately, it feels like an engine misfiring on three out of four cylinders – you can feel the power there, but it's just not getting through.
The genre of hitman movies has just gotten another addition in the form of In Bruges, and this one deserves the accolades. Contrary to the trailers, which paint the film as a comedy in the same vein as Gross Pointe Blank (another standout in the field), In Bruges takes its subject matter very seriously, infusing humor into a dark, compelling drama.
What is it? After months of hype and speculation, the J.J. Abrams produced monster movie Cloverfield finally hits the big screen and you know what? We still don't know what it means. And that's okay. From the get go this has been a high-concept affair - "Blair Witch Project meets Godzilla" - and it mostly delivers what it has been promising since we first saw the head of the Statue of Liberty come sailing out of the sky back in June.
There's something about an underwater treasure hunt that gets my blood pumping. It brings out the pirate in me. Show me a film with promises of buried gold, shipwrecks and archaeological history and I'm first in line. Thankfully, Fool's Gold delivers. Mostly. Yes, there are chests of gold and sunken boats but there are also a few too many coincidences, silly dialogue and some weak performances.
Traditionally, January is the time of year when studios dump all the films they don't think are going to do very well. With Mad Money, the new film directed by Calle Khouri, I'm not sure they're right. But that doesn't make it a good film. Mad Money follows Bridget Cardigan (Diane Keaton), an upper class housewife who needs to find a job in order to help stave off the impending financial doom caused by her husband being downsized. She starts working for the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, the place where they destroy used money.
What a year it's been...
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes - and ships - and sealing wax -
of cabbages - and kings."
This past year has been a year of such a variety and differentiation amongst the crop of both Hollywood and independent cinema that there really is no way to actually encompass it all. As my first year back on the reviewing circuit, it was a bit overwhelming to catch the diversity the viewing public is being presented with. Granted, like Theodore Sturgeon said, "90% of everything is crud" and the film industry is no exception. So when something rises to the top, it's only fair to note it, to praise it and hope that the people responsible will take notice and endeavor to repeat it.