Archive for July, 2004

Cast your vote for this “”Candidate””

July 30, 2004

Since 2002, Jonathan Demme spent his days remaking two classic Hollywood thrillers, though one update is infinitely better than the other. Last year

“”Village”” is more twisty fun from M. Night

July 30, 2004

Sooner or later writer/director M. Night Shyamalan is going to paint himself into that cinematic corner where a well-placed plot twist (or two) won’t be enough to bail his picture out of the realm of mediocrity.

Now isn’t the time, though. Shyamalan hits another one out of the park with “”The Village,”” a good looking and well-paced oddity that’s marketed as a thriller and sold as a plot-twister, but manages to stand on its own legs as a touching romance between unconventional characters with obstacles to overcome.To tell you much more would be a crime. Literally, I think the representatives from Disney would hunt me down and have me arrested. No worries, the trailer spells out what you need to know, and the less you’re aware of going in, the better.I’m keeping this review short. Two wisdom teeth parted company with my jawbone this morning, and I’m in dire need of painkillers. Here’s what you need to know about “”The Village.”” The rest I’ll leave for you to figure out on your own:1. As expected from Shyamalan, “”The Village”” boasts clever plot twists. Some you’ll see coming, though at least two of them will catch you off guard.2. One character is poised to lead the film from the onset. But after the stirring first act that properly sets the stage, “”Village”” switches gears altogether and lands squarely on the shoulders of Bryce Dallas Howard – Ron Howard’s daughter – in her big-screen debut. In short, she is spectacular. Howard gives one of those performances critics and audiences will be discussing for years to come. She’s a fierce talent, an absolute joy to watch. 3. Adrian Brody’s character might be the main reason “”Village”” isn’t perfect. His motivations are understood, even though when all the chips have fallen, they make very little sense. Whenever “”Village”” relies on his actions, it becomes convenient rather than crafty. I understand why his presence is necessary, though I do wish Shyamalan had come up with a better way around this character’s flaws.4. The council of elders running the village contains so many cherished actors. Where else will you see William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Brendan Gleeson and Cherry Jones sharing a scene, even if they’re discussing skinned animals swinging from the doorframes of the village’s somber homes? 5. Once again, James Newton Howard’s score plays a solid supporting role. It’s as effective as Judy Greer, Michael Pitt or the red-hooded monsters sulking through the forest.6. Did I mention how good Bryce Dallas Howard is in this film? Oscar nominators, are you listening.7. “”Village”” is gorgeous. CInematographer Roger Deakins shoots beautiful scenes of backlight forests at night. Torches, candles and moonlight bring out natural terrors in the Pennsylvania landscape. His use of color, particularly red, helps “”Village”” rise an inch or two off the screen.8. It’s safe to say that Shyamalan is the closest thing to a young Spielberg we have in Hollywood today. His film’s, though in need of a grain of salt that helps Spielberg’s finest go down, carefully construct an original world in which we’re content to operate. He establishes ground rules based loosely in reality, tests the limits of those boundaries as he goes, and coaxes top notch performances out of the chosen cast. Like Spielberg, M. Night prefers to linger in science fiction and fantasy when digging for chills. For every “”Signs”” there is a “”Close Encounters.”” For every “”Unbreakable”” there is a “”Jaws.”” And now, for every “”Terminal,”” there will be a “”Village”” to warm the heart and chill the spine.Grade: B+By Sean O’ConnellJuly 30, 2004

RESIDENT EVIL POSTER CONTEST!!!

July 30, 2004

Following the success of the poster contest for the first RESIDENT EVIL, Screen Gems has once again invited FANS to try their hand at designing the official poster for the sequel, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE!

Almost 8,000 poster submissions were received — more than double the number of entries submitted for the first contest!

The five finalists were presented to a crowd of over 6,000 fans
by Sienna Guillory (JILL VALENTINE) at COMIC-CON on Saturday (8/24).

Five finalists were chosen but only one can be the grand-prize winner…

And YOU, the fans, chose who the winner will be!

VISIT RE2.COM TO CAST YOUR VOTE…

RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYSE IN THEATRES EVERYWHERE
SEPTEMBER 10th!

Amish Paradise ?

July 30, 2004

Anyone catch UPN’s latest reality series, AMISH IN THE CITY ? I heard a piece on NPR the other day, and it sounded intriguing. And the reviews are apparently in, saying its a good show, and respects the lifestyle. Anyone want to weigh in ?

“Collateral”

July 30, 2004

“Collateral” is a well-made, by-the-numbers summer ‘guy’ flick. Tom Cruise valiantly attempts to be the baddie who forces cab driver Jamie Foxx to assist in a series of murders one night in Los Angeles. There are, fortunately, a few surprises and a few laughs along the way. Be ready for some slow spots and artsy photography. Rated “R” for language and violence.

GRADE = “B-“

Evel Knieval: Cheesy BioFlick Doesn’t Quite Clear The Canyon

July 30, 2004

Evel Knievel was a womanizer and a serial drinker. He was also charming. In TNT

Decisive Battles – History Was Never This Much Fun!

July 29, 2004

In an intriguing mix of computer graphics and high-profile hosting, the producers of

Rude, but Fun ‘Trip’ in “”Harold and Kumar…””

July 29, 2004

There are films that inform, enlighten, and persuade one to take a stand. These motion pictures look to make viewers aware of activities that companies, foreign governments–even our own government have taken part in, and so these celluloid works challenge the viewpoints of some, and inspire others to get up and act (such as certain films this year).

Then, there is “”Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle””….which does not belong in this category, but does provide an entertaining hour and a half, as well as a movie with Asian-Americans in the two main roles (Korean-American and Indian-American respectively).Harold (John Cho) is a hard worker at an investment banking firm, who gets saddled with extra work from his co-workers, harassed by a local group of X-game playing punks (led by Steve Braun), and cannot muster the courage to speak to Maria (Paula Garces), his attractive neighbor who he literally dreams of being with. His bud (he he, bud) and roommate Kumar (Kal Penn), on the other hand, is an extremely bright pre-med student who prefers to use his talents for hanging out and particularly for looking for weed/pot/marijuana/whatever. Kumar goes on interviews for med programs, as exemplified but does this so his parents can continue paying his rent (plus dad is a doctor).The movie’s plot, to use the term somewhat loosely, is spurred when the title characters get a case of late-Friday night munchies–thanks in part to being under the narcotic influence–and spy a TV ad for White Castle. Kumar suggests they head to New Brunswick (New Jersey) since there is apparently one of these burger joints (hehe…joint) there, only it turns out to be another fast food place. Fortunately, one of the restaurant workers (Anthony Anderson) tells the two that there is a 24-hour White Castle down in Cherry Hill, and so Harold and Kumar are off…to White Castle.The rest of the movie has the leads going through a series of misadventures, including run-ins with animals (a raccoon and a cheetah that escaped from the zoo, respectively), continual run-ins with the above sports punks, less than positive experience with local police–including Harold getting arrested, and even meet Doogie Howser himself..Neil Patrick Harris. Kumar and Harold also bump into their Jewish neighbors from across the hall—Goldstein (David Krumholtz) and Rosenberg (Eddie Kaye ‘Finch’ Thomas)–who themselves are looking for a place called Hot Dog Heaven. Harold also tries to cope, not very well, with his feelings for fellow “”Sixteen Candles”” fan Maria. Some of the jokes work here, and some are kinda, well, a little too weird. The former include the bits with the police department in a place called Muckleberg, featuring Officer Palumbo (Sandy Jobin-Bevans)–particularly funny here are a Rutgers University professor who becomes Harold’s cell mate (Gary Anthony Williams) and the ‘extremely sketches’ depicted near the end. Also humorous are the hippie-esque Princeton University student named Brad (Dov Tiefenbach) from whom Kumar scores some stash, the drive-thru person that Anthony Anderson plays (too bad about his recent real life troubles), and the ‘diversity of burgers’ speech that Kumar gives at the climax.[pagebreak]On the flip side, there are scenes that aren’t as effective, or as funny–rather just gross. These include showing the physique, warts and all, of a creepy auto repair guy named Freakshow (Christopher Meloni) and the bathroom game that some Princeton co-eds play. Also, on a different topic, the New Jersey geography seems a little off; sure, Harold and Kumar—from around Hoboken–have a big case of the munchies and would eventually drive to Cherry Hill (we’re talking BIG appetite here), but they initially go to New Brunswick on a lark for a quick bite, and that is a good thirty miles away from where they live (for the record Cherry Hill and Hoboken are about 90-100 miles apart–White Castle must have some ‘really’ good burgers {also for the record, there is no White Castle in Cherry Hill, but that is another matter}).Geographic and driving time issues (Cherry Hill is generally more than a 45-minute drive from New Brunswick….but anyway) aside, and despite some cringe-worthy segments, “”Harold and Kumar…”” is a generally funny, and fun, flick. The real strength of the film though, other than pot and other such jokes, which you can get in any number of films, is the diversity of casting. In addition to the two main stars–and how many other films out there have Asian-American lead characters in non-stereotypical roles–this movie has characters who are African-American, Hispanic, Jewish, and just plain white, as well as other (East- and South- ) Asian Americans.Who knew that the director of “”Dude, Where’s my Car?””–a.k.a. Danny Leiner–could be so innovative, so progressive? Well, in all fairness, some of the side characters (such as Kumar’s father and some students Harold encounters at Princeton) fall into more typical categories. The protagonists, however, are just two regular guys, and John Cho’s character, while highly intelligent, is cool, fun, likes to chill out (though not as much as Kumar), and has the same concerns as any number of twenty-somethings.This is a buddy picture with Harold being the one who has it together and his roommate being the stoner–very bright, but a stoner nonetheless. “”Harold and Kumar…”” gets points for its choice of casting; though the topic of race in the film does come up in dealing with the police and the group of bullies, Harold and Kumar could be any pair of young dudes…who just happen to be trekking around searching for the elusive fast-food franchise with the royal name. The film also gets points for providing laughs–not much in the way of wit here, but just basic sit-back-and-enjoy laughs. This is helped by the many cameos, ranging from Anthony Anderson and Neil Patrick Harris, to Fred Willard (as someone interviewing Kumar for med school) and Jamie Kennedy (barely recognizable as a roadside creep that Kumar encounters. The rest of the cast does well too, particularly Tiefenbach, and also Eddie Kaye Thomas and David Krumholtz as the protagonists’ neighbors who crave hot dogs and Katie Holmes, among other things.””Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle”” get points for being entertaining and for its diverse casting. This is no way is an endorsement of all the behavior depicted in the film, so here then is an important message…Say NO to Burgers!Grade: BEM Reviewby Andrew Haas7/30/04

“A Home at the End of the World”

July 29, 2004

“A Home at the End of the World” is a character study of a basically asexual person searching for affection and a home; thus, the title should be ‘A Home for Bobby’. The individual is born around 1960 with an indulgent brother who is several years older. Early on, one by one each of the other family members die. Be ready for intimacy between males, no ‘hollywood ending’, and a depressed mood. The best reason for seeing this quiet film about painful relationships is the quality of the performances. There should be Oscar nominations. Rated “R” for illicit drug use, sexual activities, nudity, and language.

GRADE = “A-“

Through The Gate And Down The Galaxy We Go – Stargate SG-1’s Best Years

July 28, 2004

Not many science-fiction TV programs have an eight-year run