Monday, October 25, 2010


The Hereafter- if you sit long enough in this dull and lengthy movie, that is precisely where you will wish you were. Matt Damon is listed as the star- but it is a crummy role indeed. He is only in 1/3 of the film. He has repetitive and annoying dialogue as a retired psychic. He plays a real psychic- he actually can communicate with the dead. Enter the requisite and predictable female who has a near death experience she needs explained. Then enter the saddest loss- a young boy who has lost his twin brother. You can actually write the ending yourself if you've ever seen a movie. It is not poorly edited- it is mostly overscripted. It feels tedious and pointless for 2/3 of the film. You don't have a lot of interest in these boring folks even though they are acting their butts off. When the end mercifully arrives, it is so contrived and so idiotic  that you can hardly believe it. The final 10 seconds are inexplicable. Oh well. See it at your own risk. I think part of the problem is that you honestly have been led to believe you are going to see a movie with Matt Damon in the film- the entire film. Nope.  But you'd be far better off  walking into the next theater to see Jackass 3D- not because I refuse to see it and won't review it, but because at least Jackass doesn't pretend to be art. On the upside, Hereafter isn't the worst film of the year because George Clooney all ready beat them to it.

Let Me In

This is a vampire movie. Make no mistake- it has violent and vicious moments. It is more of a literary movie in that it requires a little more thought than the average vampire flick. If you like somber themes with violence thrown in, then you might do better to rent the original Swedish version, Let the Right One In. The vampire is a young girl- she can never grow up despite her years as a vampire. She will never age. But she must have a companion- and that will be the child who is the loner who is bullied. He will be the best victim. And he will be her slave. But he will age and eventually she must find another. The Swedish version uses long winter nights and snow to contrast with the blood and the hiding. But the plot is the same. If you've never thought about how a vampire child would entice someone to be her caretaker in the human world, if you see this movie, you will. If you don't like dark movies with somewhat restrained action, this would never be the movie for you. But I liked both versions and would really recommend you try one of them. Or read the book.

Friday, October 8, 2010


 Seabiscuit is a much better movie, so if you are seeing this movie for exciting horse races, go rent Seabiscuit. This is the story of Secretariat- sort of. How the horse finishes up is known by almost everyone who knows anything about horse racing history. The film tries to be the back story- the story of the woman, Penny Tweedy Chenery, who predicted the genetic breeding victory of a horse with enough speed and the stamina to win triple crown when she goes to try to save the family farm. Unfortunately, the back story is told in very choppy, uneven bites of storyline. You don't understand why a woman ("housewife") would stay around such a bunch of misogynists.It also indirectly addresses the misery that is the inheritance tax.  The writers bring in the Chenery kids and starts one small, lame story line about a daughter who wants to be a hippy (1973 was pretty late for that anyway). It never gels. Of course, the horse racing scenes have little tension because, well, Secretariat was the greatest horse of his time.  But if you like horses, and you like fairly non-offensive films, this might be a pleasantry for you. But do yourself a favor and rent Seabiscuit, too.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Social Network

What happens when you put the director of Fight Club, the writer of The West Wing in cahoots and have them hire a talented cast to perform a script based on a compelling story? Well, something incredible happens. From the opening scene to the final moments, the story unfolds in a series of flashbacks where you sometimes don't know who to root for because it's not that simple. This is a somewhat (but not much) fictionalized account of the founding of Facebook. It's based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich (who also wrote Bringing Down the House). Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. It is clear that MZ got his idea from others but no one had the patent, and there was no existent code that was stolen, so it gets down to a Harvard gentlemen's code as to whether or not it was actual theft of intellectual property. It is also a story of a fairly austistic human who struggles mightily to understand the nuances of nonverbal and emotional reactions in his interactions. Justin Timberlake is a wonderful version of the sleazy Napster co-founder, Sean Parker. Pay attention to Rooney Mara- the first girlfriend- because she will be the American version of Lizbeth Salander soon. Flashback movies are often annoying. Sometimes they border on incomprehensible. But a writer like Sorkin doesn't have those problems. And this film is virtually flawless. There are no boring moments, no confusion about the characters, and it is written so that each character has enough time for the audience to identify with them. It's a rare film, indeed, that can do these things. This will wind up being the best movie of the year.
And as an aside, Mark Zuckerberg was a phenomenal child prodigy- his parents had special tutors for him to help him learn how to properly write code. It is an example of parents being able to recognize a gift in a child. For all we know, they took him to a shrink all those years, too, hoping to socialize him. Maybe that's a story for another time.