Monthly Archives: March 2012

Flash Movie Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Dream big; this was a recurring theme throughout this wonderful movie. It resonated deeply inside of me. When one of my elementary school teachers asked each of us in the class what we wanted to be when we grew up, I replied a writer. She looked at me and told me to forget it; I would amount to nothing. Need I say anything more? In this film Dr. Alfred Jones, a fisheries expert, played by Ewan McGregor (Beginners, The Ghost Writer) and Harriet, a consultant played by Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau, The Young Victoria) were instrumental in helping a sheik realize his dream of bringing salmon fishing to his country. There was such a loving sweetness to this movie; I thoroughly enjoyed watching the story unfold, as each of the characters were motivated by their individual hopes and dreams. In particular, Emily Blunt was totally endearing as the lovely Harriet; she is becoming my new favorite actress. The chemistry between her and Ewan was believable, helped by a solid script. With a touch of humor, a bit of sadness, a little excitement; this beautiful story was a fine example for dreaming big and having faith.

 

3 1/3 stars

 

Flash Movie Review: Youth in Revolt

The title of this movie triggered memories of my own rebellious youth. I know in the scheme of things, my ways of asserting myself were rather tame–I would wear copper metallic pants my parents disliked and as soon as I graduated high school, I let my hair grow long, similar to Angela Davis in her heyday. Pretty much it is a given when Michael Cera (Juno, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is chosen as he was for the role of Nick Twisp/Francois; we can expect wry humor with spot on comedic timing. Honestly, I think he has already been typecast for these type of characters. On a getaway trip with his mother and her current boyfriend, Nick encountered beautiful Sheeni Saunders, played by Portia Doubleday (Legend of the Mummy, Almost Kings), at the trailer park where they were staying. She became the object of his desires. But how far would he go, to make her the vessel that would lift him away from his burdensome virginity? There were no surprises in this movie; the performances were good and some scenes stood out for their humor. Overall, it was an enjoyable movie, there was just nothing new added to the story. I guess depending on how rebellious you were growing up will determine how much you enjoy this movie.

 

2 1/4 stars — DVD

 

Flash Movie Review: 21 Jump Street

It is all about the timing; if I would have only been born later in life, I would have finally been part of the cool group in high school. This movie was certainly not the same as the television show and I was fine with it. Updated with a fresh coat of sarcasm and humor, I was surprised this film turned out better then I expected. Granted, when Jonah Hill (Moneyball, Superbad) is part of a movie, more than likely the humor is not going to be sophisticated, sinking instead to juvenile, potty-mouthed humor. Even though this funny film had its share of childish humor, there was an equal amount of witty, laugh out loud moments. I think a majority of viewers would be able to relate to the amusing twist given to the high school student pecking order. For me, I could identify with Jonah’s character Schmidt more easily than his partner Jenko, played by Channing Tatum (The Vow, The Eagle). After spending their high school years at opposite ends of the popularity spectrum, police officers Jenko and Schmidt further bond when they were sent undercover to bust a high school drug ring. The pacing was fast through most of the movie and I will give Jonah extra credit for his contribution to the writing of the script. I would never have thought, but I had a good time watching this movie. And I laughed at the surprise cameo appearance towards the end of this comedic action film.

 

2 3/4 starsĀ 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Being Flynn

Welcome back Mr. De Niro, you have been missed. For the longest time, Robert De Niro (New Year’s Eve, Goodfellas) has been more like a caricature of himself; doing some cheesy, crappy movies. I was grateful to see him take on the role of Jonathan Flynn; a delusional, self-proclaimed writer. As an absentee father to his son Nick, played by Paul Dano (There Will be Blood, Cowboys & Aliens), Jonathan re-appeared into his son’s life, when he walked into the homeless shelter where Nick was employed. With this set-up the audience was treated to some fine acting from father and son, as the conflicted Nick wondered if there was a chance to connect with his dad. I felt the scenes in the shelter were some of the best in the movie. The story periodically jumped from present to Nick’s childhood, where we were fortunate to see Nick’s mother, Jody Flynn played by the wonderful Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right, Chloe). For the latter part of the movie, I felt the story weakened, slowing down the pace. If nothing else, it was good to see Robert De Niro take on a decent role. I only hope he continues to take on challenging roles and display that fine acting we were used to getting.

 

2 3/4 stars

 

Flash Movie Review: The Bank Job

What a surprise; this unordinary heist movie took away my notion that Jason Statham (Transporter, Crank) cannot act. Playing shady, London car dealer Terry Leather, he was excellent in this role. Based on true events, Terry was brought into a scheme by Martine Love, played by Saffron Burrows (Troy, Reign Over Me), to break into a bank when its alarm system was going to be down for a time. Pretty much a foolproof plan; however, Terry and his assembled team got more than money and jewels when they opened a particular safety deposit box. This film started out a little slow, but do not worry. The story builds on itself with surprise twists and revealing turns. I really got wrapped up into this thrilling crime drama. As I mentioned earlier, do not let the slow start stop you from missing out on this astonishing story of a real crime event and its aftermath. There are some scenes of violence.

 

3 stars — DVD

 

Flash Movie Review: Friends With Kids

Am I to assume that having children is just a different form of a prison sentence? Seeing the married couples portrayed in this movie, it certainly looked as if marital quality took a nosedive once a child was born. Let me start by saying I give props to Jennifer Westfeldt (Ira & Abby, Kissing Jessica Stein), the writer, producer, director and lead actress of this comedy. Her character Julie Keller with close friend Jason Fryman, played by Adam Scott (The Aviator, Step Brothers) decided they wanted to have a baby. However, witnessing the drama of their married friends and their children, Julie and Adam wanted to maintain their platonic friendship, avoiding the stresses of holy deadlock. The wild portrayals of their friends were crazy in this movie; with some great, funny lines of dialog. The stand outs for me were Jon Hamm (The Town, Sucker Punch) as Ben and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Date Night) as Missy. I felt the premise of the movie was original, taking the “can a woman and man be best friends” question to a new level. One of the issues I had with this movie, however, was Jennifer’s acting. There was something about it that was lacking for me. This may sound odd, but her face seemed as if it had just been treated with botox; I could not get any visual cues on her emotions. By the end of the movie, I felt the story lost its edge and went the safe route. More chuckles then belly laughs; this film was a good idea that did not carry through by the end.

 

2 1/2 stars

 

Flash Movie Review: The Three Musketeers

That famous quote, “One for all and all for one,” took on a new meaning for the making of this movie. The film studio must have thought it meant for them to pick parts of different movies and blend them into one story. Sacrebleu, there was a little part of The Matrix; a cup of The Wild, Wild West and a touch of Mission Impossible all stirred into this confused film. Right from the beginning, when the ninja looking scuba diver rose from the depths of the murky water, I realized these musketeers were not the same as the ones I read about in school. Though the movie had an imaginative look about it, along with fun fighting scenes, I found myself growing tired from the poorly written script. A surprise for me was seeing Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Carnage) playing Cardinal Richelieu. Why did he agree to do this movie? Though I will say, he tried his best with what he had been handed. The character Milady de Winter, played by Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, Resident Evil franchise) was so odd to me; she came across as a poor excuse for my beloved Emma Peel from the old television series. I could understand the Musketeers coming out of retirement to foil the sinister Richelieu’s plot against the king; sadly, they were not good enough to save this movie.

 

1 3/4 stars — DVD

 

Flash Movie Review: John Carter

On my quest to see all 50 states, little did I know I had been to Mars on one of my excursions. While viewing this movie I recognized the landscape in several of the scenes. Did it distract me from the story? Not at all; it was about the images and it was obvious Disney poured a lot of money into this visual extravaganza of a movie. For me, the look of it reminded me slightly of Star Wars. There were fascinating alien creatures, big battle scenes and a love story involving a princess. Lynn Collins (The Number 23, The Lake House) played the strong, intelligent princess, Dejah Thoris. As for the story, I found it weak, leaving me confused in some parts. Civil War vet John Carter, played by Taylor Kitsch (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Covenant), unwittingly discovered he was transported to another planet, where he now had super strength and agility. Oh and those twelve foot tall aliens were another clue he was not on earth. There were several basic plot lines: a group of mysterious beings that I did not fully understand what their ultimate purpose was in the story; an individual who was determined to take over the entire planet and a search for some mysterious thing that would tip the scale of power among opposing forces. As I said, the story was not the best; however, the movie’s action was exciting and I enjoyed all the special effects. I only wish Disney would have spent just a little more money on disguising the locale they used, here on earth.

 

2 3/4 stars

 

Flash Movie Review: Up the Yangtze

What some people have said was the greatest feat since the building of the Great Wall of China, was the creation of the Three Gorges Dam. To become the biggest hydroelectric dam in history, this massive undertaking was the centerpiece for this fascinating documentary. Instead of rattling off statistics and facts to the viewer; I was fascinated with the juxtaposition of scenes between poor, soon to be displaced, families with the wealthy tourists on the cruise ships, traveling the Yangtze River. To me, it felt like old China meeting New China; it was surreal to watch this documentary. This project was going to displace over 2 million people from their homes; that is right, over two million. One family in particular was shown as their way of life was changing, from farming the land to being placed in temporary housing and having to buy their own food and water. Their daughter was followed as she helped to support her family by applying for a position on one of the cruise ships. This conflict of old and new, ancient versus modern, made this touching documentary a beautiful way to capture a part of history in the making.

 

3 1/3 stars — DVD

 

Flash Movie Review: Rampart

When you need crazy intensity who better to get then Woody? The role of Los Angeles dirty cop, David Douglas Brown aka Date Rape Dave, was perfectly cast with Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, The Messenger). I could not think of another actor who could have brought the intensity the way Woody did for this character. As I watched this movie, I cringed with anxiety every time it looked like Woody, as Officer Brown, was about to explode with dark, fiery emotions–that is how good he acted in this role. Not only was I tensing up, but almost every character in the movie was when interacting with this police officer. For example, his former wives Barbara and Catherine, played by Cynthia Nixon (The Babysitters, Sex and the City) and Anne Heche (Volcano, Cedar Rapids) were excellent as they had to tread carefully around their explosive ex-husband. This movie was all about the acting, unfortunately sacrificing the story, letting it sink into a mess. The story was set in 1999 Los Angeles, where scandal had befallen the police department and Dave Brown already had an outrageous reputation. When he was recently filmed severely beating a citizen, officer Brown’s life spirals out of control, while the police department tried to figure out how to get out of the mess. If you are a fan of Woody Harrelson, you definitely want to see him in this movie.

 

2 2/3 stars

 

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