Bate and Switch.
September 4, 2009, 2:34 pm
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Every once in a while, a movie will come along and I’ll know even before watching it, that I’ll love it. Extract was one of those. I first saw the trailer around April or May and immediately circled Labor Day weekend on my imaginary calendar. The casting was perfect. Seriously, it ranks right up there with I Love You Man as far as my ideal cast goes.

A film with Jason Bateman as your lead will never fail. The comedy was fresh and hilarious. My only gripe was, although 90+ minutes long, it seemed a bit short. Still, it was easily my favorite comedy of the summer. Office Space took place decades ago it seems. Mike Judge was overdue.

Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, Mila Kunis is kind of unbelievable.

– JD


Go Away.
June 27, 2009, 11:10 am
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away we go

Unlike the rest of America, I really didn’t feel like wasting 9 dollars on a Transformers sequel that was littered with lukewarm reviews. I even had one person go out of his way to convince me it was the worst movie he’s ever seen. Most of the time, I prefer to judge movies for myself, but I’m absolutely certain I will eventually come across this movie in the future.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s paying for a movie, and feeling like I wasted a good portion of my life afterwards.

I’ve put off Away We Go for a couple weeks, but I finally got the chance to see it. Both John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph played characters we wouldn’t expect to see them play. They were quirky, but vastly different from The Office‘s Jim Halpert and the eccentric characters played by Rudolph in SNL. Rudolph’s performance, especially, was truly genuine. After seeing the trailer, I wasn’t ready to believe they were the best actors to cast, as the chemistry didn’t really seem to be there. Turns out I was wrong (who would’ve thunk?).

Supporting (and unexpected) performances by Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Jeff Daniels put this one over the top for me. Definitely three of my personal favorites.

The film follows a couple as they desperately try to find their calling and a new home to bring in their newborn. In the process, they are shown the failures and hardships involved with relationships and families. One of the best films of the year, for sure. And ten times more uplifting than director Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road.

– JD

Flies and Dentures.
June 13, 2009, 11:49 am
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drag me to hell

Sam Raimi deserves all the credit here. The story itself isn’t vastly different from most typical horror movies, but Drag Me To Hell certainly wasn’t ordinary. I haven’t seen enough of Raimi to know if this style is consistent with all his films. But from what I’ve gathered, humor is a huge part of his game. And he definitely knew how to mix the perfect formula of humor, great character usage, and those all-important scared shitless moments. It’s a throwback film, to the days when scary movies were good.

– JD


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Air Up There.
May 30, 2009, 6:05 am
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Genius. Unlike most production companies, Pixar has been substituting quality for quantity, producing one film a year. And it’s hard for anyone to complain because they’ve been on a massive roll, each one seemingly better than the last. The follow-up to last summer’s Wall-E is no different. Up was as enjoyable a movie as I’ve seen.

I’ve always felt that these movies, disguised in CGI animation, are much more geared towards adults than they initially seem. Sure, the overall appearance attracts the kids to the theaters, but the themes and ideologies are every bit as grown-up as the latest Scorsese film. In my opinion, the classical 2-D Disney movies were much more relatable for children.

In any event, Up was a genuine story that was beautifully told, and even though I expected it to be great, it still blew me away. As the credits began to roll, I sat there, trying to figure out something about the film that I didn’t like. Nitpicking is something I tend to do before / after / during a movie. The only problem was I couldn’t think of anything. Actually, I probably would have made it a bit longer.

The streak continues. Let’s hope Toy Story 3 doesn’t tank. Who am I kidding? We all know it won’t.

5.0/5.0 stars


– JD


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May 22, 2009, 12:51 pm
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There were mixed reviews coming out of Sundance, but after seeing the trailer, I told myself I would watch this film anyway and conjure up my own opinion. Steven Soderbergh filmed The Girlfriend Experience during the 2008 election in 16 days with a budget just under 2 million. The main character is an escort, who promises what the title offers — an experience. She gives men a girlfriend, someone to vent to, talk politics with, and give monetary advice to. It’s a profession that would suck the life out of anyone.

Sasha Grey (a real-life porn star) is cast as Chelsea. Her character struggles with balancing her professional relationships and her realtionship with her boyfriend. Grey’s performance is nothing spectacular. In fact, it’s actually pretty dull most of the time. But it was exactly the type of performance needed for this role. It was both believable and understandable. And when it came to the rare instances when she had to show emotion, those moments were magnified, and carried more significance.

The film was, however, missing that one scene that I felt was needed. As an audience, we felt for her character, but we could have felt more. The Experience was strong overall, but didn’t leave the lasting impression I was looking for.

4/5 stars


– JD

Surrounding Influence.
May 16, 2009, 8:21 am
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snow angels

“It’s easy for us to block out the things that upset us. But it’s important that you feel through this, it’s so important I can’t tell you.”

Don’t let the sunny/snowy landscapes fool you. The film is beautifully dark. Its title, Snow Angels, represents that innocence and the child-like qualities in all of us that eventually disappears. Turns out it was a perfect title.

Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Michael Angarano, and Olivia Thirlby star in this film about the harsh world that is adulthood, and the shock felt by those experiencing it for the very first time. It’s a well-written script and was casted excellently. Kate Beckinsale’s great performance is one of many. Director David Gordon Green paid special attention to his characters, and it was much appreciated.

Both Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby were standouts in their roles. It’s a rapid transformation one experiences in high school. You’re no longer a child, but emotionally too immature to be considered an adult. It’s tough, especially if you’re surrounded by adults desperately trying to suck you into their world. The movie is heavy with themes and won’t have that happy ending, but is still worth every moment.



– JD

The Wire.
May 11, 2009, 10:14 am
Filed under: film, movies, reviews

man on wire

“You have to exercise rebellion. To refuse to tape yourself to the rules,
to refuse your own success, to refuse to repeat yourself, to see every day, every year, every idea as a true challenge. Then you will
live your life on the tightrope.”

I should’ve seen it sooner, but I guess seeing it late is better than not seeing it at all. Wow, that’s deep. Back on topic. Man on Wire is a once in a lifetime experience that one man decided to share with as many people as he could. This documentary follows wire-walker Philippe Petit, as he brings his dream of walking across the World Trade Center towers to life.

The unique thing about all of this is we know how the story ends. On a Summer day in 1974, Philippe eventually accomplishes what he set out to do. But it’s the insight, the preparation, and obstacles that made this real story appear like something straight out of the Ocean’s trilogy. I would’ve loved to be one of his accomplices.

It’s inspiring to watch a person devote everything he has to a single goal. Specifically, a goal that I could never accomplish. Putting my fear of heights aside, I can barely walk in a straight line on my driveway.



– JD