Cinema Junkie's Published Articles
Movie Review: Green Zone
April 19th, 2010 at 10:27 am | |
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Starring Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan, Antoni Corone, Nicoye Banks
Release date: March 12, 2010
Green Zone: The Truth Ultimatum
The front between myth and reality evaporates as the search for the truth rages on in Paul Greengrass‘ Iraq War thriller, Green Zone.
In Green Zone, Greengrass has decided to merge his serious political films, such as Bloody Sunday and United 93, with the wildly entertaining Jason Bourne films he has directed: The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. At first, the result is one of supreme imperfection, but I have come to the conclusion that Greengrass has directed the first truly great thriller with the Iraq War as background. I have to remember that this is Greengrass’ version of the truth that he has taken from Brian Helgeland‘s screenplay. Helgeland’s screenplay is adapted from Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life In The Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone. Chandrasekaran is a reporter and editor for The Washington Post. The screenplay is more inspired from his wonderfully insightful book than a straight adaptation.
The disconnect between life inside and outside of the Green Zone is shown in the film; this is one of the major themes of Chandrasekaran’s book. With luck, more people will seek out the book after watching the film [...]
Movie Review: The Ghost Writer
March 12th, 2010 at 9:12 pm | |
The Ghost Writer
Directed by Roman Polanski
Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall
Release date: February 19, 2010
“I’ve been having this nightmare. A real swinger of a nightmare, too.”
— Major Bennett Marco from The Manchurian Candidate
“Have you ever heard the expression “Let sleeping dogs lie”? Sometimes you’re better off not knowing.”
– Jake Gittes from Chinatown
“Sorry, I’ve just got one question: Whose map is Britain using when it completely ignores the United Nations and decides to invade Iraq? Or do you think it’s more diplomatic to bend the will of a superpower and politely take part in Vietnam the Sequel?”
–Tessa Quayle from The Constant Gardner
The Ghost Writer: Prisoner Of Convictions
The consequences of our transgressions are the stains that cannot be cleansed away. The past is the vessel that we cherish and regret with equal measure. Art can be the ultimate catharsis when dealing with the past or attempting to get through the present depending on what one’s situation is. Imagine what life would be like if we could write are our memoirs with the aid of a ghost writer who believes everything we say. Unfortunately, what would happen if the ghost writer goes to check all the information you provide? Your life would take on different meaning — more honesty might expose you to disgrace or more ridicule.
The gray skies of Martha’s Vineyard that permeate throughout Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer serve as an indicator of the slippery slope between black and white. Under those foreboding skies, the past and the present are jostling for the right tone to ensure the future of one man’s legacy. The Ghost of the film’s title, superbly played by Ewan McGregor, is never named [...]
Movie Review: Up In The Air
December 15th, 2009 at 6:15 pm | |
Up In The Air
Directed by Jason Reitman
Starring George Clooney, Jason Bateman, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick
Release date: December 4, 2009 (limited)
Up In The Air: Life In The Descent
The beauty of getting lost at the movies is that it allows us to visit worlds vastly different from our own. It is the greatest exercise in being a fly on the wall. It is the ultimate act of voyeurism. Going to the movies, listening to an album or reading a book are some of the greatest trips we will ever take in our lives. Jason Reitman’s Up In The Air is one of those experiences. Before I go any further, it must be stated that Jason Reitman is his own man. He stepped out of his father’s shadow as soon his first feature, Thank You For Smoking, was released in 2006. He followed that with Juno in 2007 and the rest, as they say, is history. While it helps to be Ivan Reitman’s son in order to have a shot in this business, you have to have talent and hunger to survive in this industry; Jason Reitman has both in spades. He is three for three as far as directing films is concerned. The nepotism claim can be thrown away. He, like Nick Cassavetes, Jake Kasdan, and especially Sofia Coppola have forged their identities in the entertainment business. A famous last name can only get one so far, you have to have the talent and skills to truly survive and endure in the film business [...]
Confessions Of A Cinema Junkie: The Art Of The Mixtape, Coming Of Age Films And Drew Barrymore’s Whip It
October 10th, 2009 at 1:28 pm | |
The sonic fury of a film’s soundtrack is integral to its lasting presence. The soundtrack to Drew Barrymore‘s Whip It is a furiously beautiful compliment to this potent and rousing coming of age film. Barrymore understands the importance of a film’s soundtrack. She understands how vital the musical component is to the film. All one has to do is read her note that she wrote for the soundtrack album:
“Music is the soundtrack to our lives, and when you put music and film together, it is a powerful combination.”
“I have always been someone that had a great appreciation for the art of the mix tape.”
“This soundtrack is my mix tape for you.”
Drew Barrymore gets it. She understands the relationship between music and film. While watching the film, I would crack a smile as songs by The Breeders, Tilly And The Wall, The Ramones, The Chordettes, Dolly Parton, Peaches, and many others would blare out during the film’s many magical and cathartic moments. A good soundtrack is essentially an awesome mix tape. Drew Barrymore understands this all too well for her directorial debut.
The Whip It soundtrack is not the only great mix tape this year; the soundtracks for (500) Days Of Summer and Inglourious Basterds are incredible mix tapes as well. As far as Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds goes, his choices of music from Ennio Morricone scores and other film scores is never to be messed with under any conditions. I doubt I will ever be able to listen Nick Perito’s “The Green Leaves Of Summer” without thinking of the opening credits of the Tarantino film. The other tracks on the album are just as powerful. It’s Tarantino’s magical energy to take another film’s music and make it his own. His soundtracks for all of his films are the perfect mix tapes for cinephiles — not only do we want to discover where the music comes from, we want to discover the actual films. Marc Webb’s (500) Days Of Summer may be the finest mix tape since Zach Braff’s Garden State and every Cameron Crowe film, especially the soundtracks to Almost Famous and Singles [...]
Movie Review: Funny People
August 8th, 2009 at 12:50 pm | |
Directed by Judd Apatow
Starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill
Release Date: July 31, 2009
“The whole place seemed to have been stricken with a kind of creeping paralysis – out of beat with the rest of the world, crumbling apart in slow motion.”
– Joe Gillis from Sunset Blvd.
“I don’t know if there is anything wrong because I don’t know how other people are.”
– Barry Egan from Punch-Drunk Love
“You’re my best friend, and I don’t even like you.”
– George Simmons from Funny People
Funny People: Bringing The Nasty Pain
Los Angeles, the bitch of desire, takes no prisoners. Hollywood may be her enchanted vagina, but the rest of her is a ferocious dominatrix ready to force everyone to fall under her demented spell. It is a city with an infinite supply of Sammy Glick’s ready to pleasure the bitch at whatever cost.
Judd Apatow’s third film, Funny People, is a departure for him; it is supposed to show him as a more mature filmmaker. It certainly has many of the raunchy elements that made The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up so memorable. Judd Apatow is trying to move beyond the myth of adulthood in this film. Adulthood seems to be the Holy Grail that his characters can never quite find in his films or even the films of Wes Anderson. Adulthood is out of reach for the so-called adults as well as the younger generations who are stuck in eternal adolescent purgatory. Funny People certainly fits this vital characteristic of what makes a Judd Apatow film, but he has gone further with this film in that he deals with the show business angle — the world of stand-up comedians.
In Knocked Up he touches on the ugly reality of show business as Katherine Heigl’s Allison Scott is told by her work superiors that she essentially has to lose weight. In Funny People, Apatow has given the audience the anti-Entourage [...]
Movie Review: The Hurt Locker
August 1st, 2009 at 8:09 pm | |
The Hurt Locker
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Starring Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Evangeline Lilly
Released date: June 26, 2009
“When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle.” — Captain Benjamin L. Willard from Apocalypse Now
“Death is the best kick of all. That’s why they save it for last.” — Eugene Hunt from Blue Steel
“Life sure has a sick sense of humor, doesn’t it?” — Bodhi from Point Break
The Hurt Locker: The Ultimate Adrenaline Junkie
The ecstasy of war is at the heart of Kathryn Bigelow’s brilliant new action thriller, The Hurt Locker. We only need to read the now famous quote from journalist and author Chris Hedges that precedes the film, “War is a drug”, to realize that Ms. Bigelow is the right person to bring Mark Boal’s screenplay to life. If anyone knows about an addiction to violence and an addiction to the rush of pure adrenaline, it is Kathryn Bigelow. Her previous films such as Near Dark, Blue Steel, Strange Days, K-19: The Widowmaker, and most importantly Point Break deal with adrenaline junkies of one sort or another. She has a natural ability to strip away the fat from subcultures to provide us with a crystal clear acumen of her fascination with them. Her examination of the Army’s elite Explosive Ordinance Squad (EOD) is an exercise in exhilarating and harrowing tension [...]
Movie Review: (500) Days Of Summer
July 20th, 2009 at 9:56 am | |
(500) Days Of Summer
Directed Marc Webb
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Chloe Moretz
Release date: July 17, 2009
“She’s gone. She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen.”
–Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything
“If I had a personal conversation with God, I would ask him to create this girl.”
–Steve Dunne from Singles
“People don’t realize this, but loneliness is underrated.”
– Tom Hansen from 500 Days Of Summer
(500) Days Of Summer: The Architecture Of Expectations And Reality
Happy endings are for massage parlors. Reality is a stranger in most recent romantic comedies. This was not always the case, but in good and bad times, the masses demand that their characters live happily ever after. No one wants to pay ten dollars to hear that life sucks and you do not receive all the assets that come with the American Dream. Is there even an American Dream anymore, regardless of the accessories that may come with it? We do not get the romantic comedies we want, but the ones we deserve.
More recently, audiences have been blessed with three very honest films this year that have been sold as comedies, but work on a far deeper and subtler level: Greg Mottola’s Adventureland, Sam Mendes’ Away We Go, and now Marc Webb’s (500) Days Of Summer. Each of these films work as honest cinema that delivers a gut punch of epic proportions. All of the films work on a comic level, but each delivers a level of brutal honesty which is greatly appreciated by the time the closing credits start to roll. These films never preach or condescend to its audience. Instead, the films speak to us in ways we never thought possible. In harsh economic times, the last thing most people want to see is some structure of reality staring at them from the other side of screen. At the end of the day, it is the realistic film that will stay with you far longer than the far fetched fantasy film. Leaving your brain at the door does not have to be an option. Actually, as I have gotten older, I appreciate having to think about what I am watching [...]
Confessions Of A Cinema Junkie: The Art Of Reversals, The Caper Film and Something Like A Comedy Of Manners In Tony Gilroy’s ‘Duplicity’
April 5th, 2009 at 7:46 pm | |
Tony Gilroy’s Duplicity is the ultimate cinematic cock tease. Duplicity has everything going for it right from the starting gate, but ultimately the film fizzles where it should sizzle. It is not a bad film, far from it, but after all is said and done, one wonders if they have just seen a comedy of manners written with enough reversals to give David Mamet a run for his money. Although “fuck” is never used enough to give it the traditional David Mamet touch, it is con game film. Tony Gilroy’s screenplay may be too smart for its good. Steven Spielberg had confessed that the film was too confusing for him to understand so he passed on directing it.
After Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy should be directing all of his own screenplays. Michael Clayton is a hard film to top for a variety of reasons — not only is it George Clooney at the top of his game, but it was a fantastic directorial debut for screenwriter, Tony Gilroy. Gilroy deserves a lot of credit for rescuing Robert Ludlum and more specifically, the character of Jason Bourne from the dreaded wasteland of the ABC Television miniseries which starred Richard Chamberlain. Gilroy stripped away the dated Cold War melodrama of the Jason Bourne novels and focused on the personality of Jason Bourne. The result is one of the most groundbreaking action series ever made, the James Bond series reboot its style [...]
Movie Review: Taken
February 12th, 2009 at 9:13 am | |
We live in uncertain economic times. A night out at the movies has to be worth the price of admission. People want to escape from their lives for a few hours. They want to escape into the dark theaters for entertainment, for escapism. It does not surprise me that Paul Blart: Mall Cop was number one at the North American box office for two weekends in a row. I have not seen the film and I must say I have very little interest in seeing it, but I see the appeal very clearly. You can take the whole family to see it. Does it surprise anyone that Marley And Me and Bedtime Stories did as well as they did during the holiday season? It should not; these are films that whole families can go see and enjoy together.
During the Great Depression, everyone went to the movies; it was long before television — radio was the only competition. Musicals and comedies were the crowd pleasers of the day. Dark and serious films have a hard enough time during boom times which is a great tragedy, but during bad times, it is much harder to fill seats for serious fare. Now the competition is fierce — movies must compete with television, DVDs, the internet, video games, and a whole host of alternatives. In the best of times, one needed a real crowd pleaser to get people off their sofas and into theater seats. This past summer saw the release of one of those films, The Dark Knight. The film has made well over a billion dollars worldwide. People of all ages and all walks of life went to see the film. It was one of those watershed moments where a film truly speaks to the moment. Given its release date, the film was the calm before the storm [...]
Confessions Of A Cinema Junkie: Glorious Self-Indulgence And The Return Of Grandeur
December 7th, 2008 at 8:37 pm | |
Every weekend we pay to see the fruits of the filmmakers’ dreams at the multiplex. Every weekend translates into a cynical game of Russian roulette with our cash. Every weekend there is a chance to fall under their spells and believe all over again. Every weekend there is a chance to truly escape reality for a few hours. Their self-indulgence is a double-edged sword which can either transcend their final vision into unlimited ecstasy or send it crashing to the eternal damnation of the bargain DVD bin at the local Best Buy. Certain films still have a hypnotic power over me, but there are a few that punch me in the gut and send me into another dimension. Werner Herzog knows all too well about the joy and “burden of dreams.”
I am not talking about the surefire hits like Iron Man, Pineapple Express, In Bruges, The Bank Job, The Dark Knight, or even There Will Be Blood. It was a safe bet that halfway through these films, they had won me over in ways that appeared obvious to anyone with a good heart monitor. It is the other films I am talking about over the last year or so that it usually takes a little while. The filmmaker has to be self-indulgent to a certain degree or what the hell is the point in the first place? I am still trying to figure out if I would have let another filmmaker get away with a film like Inland Empire other than David Lynch. Yet, Lynch is an institution and I am willing to trust him to take me to places where few other filmmakers or artists in other mediums could ever go [...]
Movie Review: The X-Files: I Want To Believe
July 27th, 2008 at 12:55 am | |
Confessions Of A Cinema Junkie: Getting To Know The Dark Knight
The hedonistic glare of the Nineties is a distant memory. I remember my fervent weekly devotion to the X-Files television show. It was one of my favorite shows on network television. For me, the show was the very essence of Nineties television. In a post-Cold War landscape, it was time to turn the lens on ourselves. The show captured paranoia and conspiracy on a grand scale. The high concept pitch would have been The Parallex View meets Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
I would say the series worked very well for the first seven seasons. Why did it work? The relationship between David Duchovny‘s Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson‘s Dana Scully was and will always be the core of the X-Files. Tamper with that dynamic and you do not have much to work with at all. As much as I adore every incarnation of The Avengers, it was always at its best with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg. Yes, Anderson and Duchovny have that kind of chemistry.
July 17th, 2008 at 6:52 am | |
Movie Review: Get Smart
Cinema Junkie’s takes up on a journey to his discovery of Batman in comics and on film.
June 22nd, 2008 at 3:22 pm | |
Movie Review: Street Kings
Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, and Alan Arkin star in this comedy from director Peter Segal based on the 1960′s television show.
April 20th, 2008 at 8:15 am | |
Movie Review: Smart People
Keanu Reeves Chris Evans, and Forest Whitaker star in this James Elroy adaptation big-screen directed by David Ayer.
April 16th, 2008 at 7:02 pm | |
Dennis Quaid, Thomas Haden Church, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Ellen Page star in this film directed by Noam Murro.