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Review: Drive

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Ryan Gosling is, hands down, one of my favorite actors in Hollywood.  Having said that, I didn't care at all about Drive when I heard about it.  I'm not into movies about cars and shootouts; that's all just boring to me.  But when I went to see it I was blown away.  Set in Los Angeles, the movie follows Ryan Gosling's character, a mechanic/stuntman/wheel man.  Gosling (who is only referred to as "the driver" through the entire movie) starts falling for his neighbor  Irene (Carey Mulligan) before finding out that she is married to an ex-con who is involved in some pretty dangerous stuff.  Driver does his best to protect her, which means helping her husband pay off some debts he owes.

The movie is over the top, yet minimalistic.  It's extremely violent, but still sweet.  There is an amazing soundtrack that pays homage to the 80's perfectly.  Hopefully word of mouth gets this film and director Nicolas Winding Refn the credit they deserve. 


   

Review: "Dakota Skye"

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Recently a friend handed me a copy of Dakota Skye and insisted I watch it, and since I had 89 minutes to spare, I decided to give it a shot.  The movie focuses on an unmotivated 17 year-old girl who begins the film by revealing that she has a superpower - she can see the truth even when people are lying.  Armed with this superpower she goes on to deal with an apathetic boyfriend more focused on getting high and playing in his band than being with Dakota.  At the same time, she's got friends she barely likes forcing her to study for the upcoming SATs and a cute, new guy who can't help but notice how unappreciated she is.  This new guy happens to be her boyfriend's best friend, which makes this the central conflict of the movie. 

For the most part, it's a normal teen movie about a girl and a guy breaking up, getting together, etc, but it is also filled with beautiful shots and perfect dialogue.  Eileen Boylan also does a phenomenal job in her first starring role.  Director John Humber made his directorial debut after spending the past 7 years as a Production Assistant on various films and even just acting as an assistant to stars like Orlando Bloom.  Film festivals in 2008 seemed to notice it as well.  It won Best Film at the Charlotte Film Festival and First Glance Film Fest, as well as Best Screenplay in the Phoenix Film Festival.   Dakota Skye is an incredibly well-made and well-written micro-budget movie shot for only $150,000. So, if you were looking for something new on Netflix, I highly suggest this.

   

Review: Harry Potter

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J. K. Rowling, after receiving an honorary deg...

JK Rowling (Photo by sjhillI via Wikipedia)

I, along with most of the world, have been waiting for this movie for 10 years.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was split into two movies, one released last November, and the second half released Thursday night.  AMC Theatres was doing a double feature, so I decided to dress like Hermione and go to the theatre and watch both movies back to back.  That was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Review - Transformers:Dark of the Moon

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Movie director Michael Bay instructs Airmen fi...

Michael Bay on the set of Transformers (Public Domain mage via Wikipedia)

Transformers 3 is a certified blockbuster, raking in more than $204 million so far in the US alone.  After public outrage over Transformers 2, a film most fans thought was just not up to par, Michael Bay and the crew had a lot to live up to.  He lost Megan Fox (thus began an epic war of the words between the 2) and did his best to try and live up the expectations the original Transformers film set.  With that said, the best Michael Bay could do was still not very impressive. 

Synopsis: The Autobots battle the Decepticons... again.

Review: Super 8

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Steven Spielberg 1999

Steven Spielberg (Public Domain Image via Wikipedia)

The speculation around Super 8 made me almost as excited as the actual premise.  I went to a midnight showing on Thursday expecting Spielberg fans to be lined up out the door.  What I got instead, was a theater of about 10 people.  Granted, Steven Spielberg did not direct this movie; JJ Abrams did.  As it progresses, that fact becomes unavoidable.  The film starts by giving you the information that Joe Lamb (played by Joel Courtney) has just lost his mother in an accident and that his father, a police officer in the small town of Lillian, Ohio is now having to step up and take care of him on his own, whether is prepared to do that or not.  Then we follow Joe and his friends, all perfectly cast, as they film a zombie movie to try and submit to a film contest.  They witness a train crash and have to spend the rest of the movie figuring what or who is behind it and why strange things are happening in their town.  Dogs and people are disappearing, whole counties are without power, and no one seems to have any answers.  The plot itself is pure 1980's Spielberg.  It feels like the Goonies or ET, and that was always its selling point.  However, once you're watching the movie you quickly see that those things are all it really has- it feels like ET or the Goonies, but it certainly is not. 

Review: Tree of Life

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That's my hand holding the microphone!

Image by Atlaslin via Wikipedia

While I'm still just hoping that a theater in my area will be playing Tree of Life soon, Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter has composed an incredible review of the film, just after its premiere at Cannes

This fifth feature in Terrence Malick's eccentric four-decade career is a beauteous creation that ponders the imponderables, asks the questions that religious and thoughtful people have posed for millennia and provokes expansive philosophical musings along with intense personal introspection.


Read the article by Todd McCarthy: The Tree of Life: Cannes Review

Weekend Box Office - May 16, 2011

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Chris Hemsworth at 2010 Comic-Con International

Chris Hemsworth at Comic-con (Photo by Ronald Woan Image via Wikipedia)

No matter how much Bridesmaids tried, there was just no way to take the box office crown from Thor just yet.  The latest installment in the super hero genre, starring Chris Hemsworth, added $37.4 million to its earnings, bring it to to $119.5 million to date.  With a budget of $150M though, it still has a way to go.

Bridesmaids, a film produced and written by its start Kristen Wiig along with Judd Apatow was able to tap into a large comedy audience and came through with an impressive $26.2M opening.  The film's R rating doesn't seem to be hindering its success any.  It is full of raunchy comedy, hilarious gags, and a great chemistry between stars and Saturday Night Live alums Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph

Review: Water For Elephants

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Actress Reese Witherspoon in the Oval Office o...

Reese Witherspoon (Public Domain Image via Wikipedia)

Aside from my fascination with the circus and the early 1900's, I had no real interest in seeing Water For Elephants.  As it turned out, I had a free ticket, and I'm still counting down the minutes until Super 8 comes out, so I needed something to occupy my time.  The film, based on the Sara Gruen novel of the same name, starts off with an old man (Hal Holbrook) recounting stories from his youth and one of the "most famous circus disasters of all time."

Jacob Jankowski, played by Robert Pattinson, is suddenly orphaned and hops aboard a passing train hoping to find work and a new life.  The train he chooses is a part of the Benzini Brothers traveling circus, where he is able to find work in the midst of the Depression.  As a veterinary student, he's given the opportunity to work with the animals, and in turn, work with Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), the star performer who is also married to August (Christoph Waltz), the man who runs the business. The developing love triangle is the focal point of the film. Jacob thinks he is the better man, and August's rage is proving that to be true.  Their fight to win the love of Marlena creates genuine emotions for these characters.  The chemistry between Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon is often weak and a little forced, but the incredible acting of Christoph Waltz carries the movie.