Monday, April 26, 2010

Summer Movies 2010

This weekend sees the opening of A Nightmare on Elm Street. A remake of the horror classic from the 80s about a deranged serial killer who stalks kids in their dreams. More importantly this is the last weekend before the Summer movie season kicks off.

On May 7 Iron Man 2 begins the Summer movie wave which doesn't end until labor day weekend.

For movie lovers the Summer is the best time to catch a flick. Studios release their biggest blockbusters during this season since kids are off from school and many adults are on vacation.

Here are the 10 movies I'm most looking forward to this Summer.

1. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse: The third film in the Vampire/Werewolf saga. Out of the four books this was my favorite. The love story is put on the back burner and the action is amped up. They also hired a true horror director, David Slade, who helmed one of my favorite vampire films, 30 Days of Night.

2. Iron Man 2: I loved the first one and Robert Downey Jr is perfect in the title role. Early buzz says this is a great sequel in the vain of Spiderman 2 and Xmen 2. We'll see.

3. The A Team: I love the TV show from the 80s and with Liam Neeson as Hannibal its gotta be good right?

4.The Last Airbender: M. Knight Shymalan tries to redeem himself after a string of piss-poor films. Based on a popular cartoon, this is the first movie of a proposed trilogy. The trailer looks amazing, lets see if the movie lives up to the hype and gives the Sixth Sense director a much needed shot in the arm.

5. Toy Story 3: These films about Woody the cowboy and Buzz Lightyear put Disney/Pixar on the map. It's been quite a while since we visited with Andy's toys. Hopefully absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. Disney/Pixar has yet to disappoint me. I'd be shocked if they started now.

6. The Expendables: This is supposedly Sly Stallone's gift to action movie fans around the world. He's assembled an all star action movie cast including The Transporter's Jason Stratham, Jet Li and Ivan Drago himself Dolph Lundgren. With cameos by Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger it's either going to be really great or...well, lets not think about the alternative.

7. Predators: Speaking of Arnold, lets hope this reboot of the governor's 1980s cult classic Predator does in fact breath new life into the stale franchise instead of, (gulp) terminating it.

8. Robin Hood: Russell Crowe grabs the bow and arrow and puts on the tights once worn by Kevin Costner. Supposedly this film is more Gladiator than Prince of Thieves. Lets hope so.

9. Inception: This is from director Christopher Nolan, who last helmed a summer blockbuster two years ago; a little film called The Dark Knight. This is supposedly a psychological thriller staring Leonardo DiCaprio, who, like him or not, is one hell of an actor.

10. Grown Ups: Adam Sandler got the band back together for this one. This tale of 40 somethings going through a mid-life crisis stars all of Happy Gilmore's best friends: David Spade, Chris Rock, Kevin James and, of course, Rob Schneider. If these guys play to their potential it could be hilarious.

Other films include Shrek 4, which I've set the bar low for after the just okay, Shrek 3. There's also Prince of Persia with Jake Gyllenhall which has blockbuster written all over it, but something about it doesn't sit right with me.

And what am I predicting as the biggest box office bomb of the summer?

I'm saying Salt with Angelina Jolie. That's got DUD written all over it. Prove me wrong Mrs Pitt. Prove me wrong!

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Think Law and Order: SVU meets The Davinci Code sprinkled with a bit of Basic Instinct and you have the wonderful Sweedish import The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo.

Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) is a noted Swedish investigative journalist on the verge of being railroaded into prison for a series of recent articles about a particular company’s alleged malfeasance. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is a computer expert with a troubled past working for a security firm who specializes in finding out information no one, not even your priest, should ever know.

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs Blomkvist and Lisbeth to investigate.

When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from almost forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vanger's are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

The look of the film is familiar to a thousand police dramas. Blomkvist has a big board to which he has tacked numerous photographs, maps, memos and news clippings. Arrows and string helpfully link items.

It all looks mighty impressive, and of course it's all completely unnecessary, except for atmosphere. The only details that concern us are the missing girl's mysterious codes and the last pictures ever taken of her, which show her staring balefully at an unseen individual. Blomkvist's investigative powers rival those of Zapruder film enthusiasts; he's able to tease information out of blurry backgrounds and sometimes seemingly thin air.

Superbly acted by the two leads and intricate in its detailing of characters, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a wonderful thriller that will captivate, enthrall and repulse you (sometimes all at once), in its various reveals and developments and is worth seeking out in those areas of the country that are lucky enough to have it screened.

3 Stars

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2010)

Running Time: 2 hours 34 minutes.

Starring: Lena Endre, Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Sweedish with English Subtitles

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mellow Yellow Worth The Ride

"The Yellow Handkerchief" is an independent movie. A simple movie and first and foremost a road movie.

The story bounces back and forth between modern day William Hurt, who was just released from jail and a past relationship between he and Maria Bello. The mood here is a somber one. Hurt takes to the road with a couple of kids played by "Twilight's" Kristen Stewart and relative new comer, Eddie Redmayne. As the tale unfolds we learn what happened to derail his life. He's a man of few words, but an interesting fellow, marked with a sadness that you can only see in the eyes.

Hurt is excellent in his role, and he turns an otherwise average film into one I fully recommend. His ex-con is one that's bitter, quiet and respectful - but you wouldn't want to cross him in any way. He takes the kids under his wing, acting as the father figure neither has -while they take the place of the children he wanted, but didn't get. And this entire story plays out while the three meander through Louisiana in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

It is not until the last minute of the movie when we learn the significance of the film's title and at that point you realize it really couldn't have been called anything else.

As I stated at the top of this review, "The Yellow Handkerchief " is a road movie. A road worth traveling.

3 out of 4 stars.

Director: Udayan Prasad
Writers: Erin Dignam (screenplay), Pete Hamill (story)
Cast: William Hurt, Kristen Stewrt, Eddie Redmayne, Maria Bello