Planet of the Apes

Mark Walhberg was enjoyable to watch throughout the film like he has been in all of his recent films. He is quickly becoming one of the best young mainstream actors. Other characters such as Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Roth and Michael Clarke Duncan made notably good apes, though none even compared to the energy from Charlton Heston’s brief role. The human characters were rather disappointing; Kris Kristofferson was wasted to a small and somewhat unnecessary part. Estella Warren played the usual role of a supermodel turned actress, to stand around and look good. The rest of the humans had very little personality if any, and for the most part they were just walking zombies. This could be explained by being prisoners of the apes, but I still would have like to see some personality in them, even when their ‘hero’ came they didn’t even talk.

I had a problem with the ape’s having the ability to defy all laws of gravity and physics. Some of them could amazingly fly back and forth from wall to wall, and leap some 25-30 feet in the air similar to the abilities of Chow Yun Fat in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” But even with these slightly improbable feats I was able to put aside these superpowers and forgive Burton due to the interest it helped caused.

Up to the last twenty-five minutes or so it was an enjoyable movie then it began its big twist ending. Now generally I like big twists at the end when they are done properly such as in “Seven,” “Fight Club” or even “The Score,” but this twist was just there for the sake of confusing everyone. The last few minutes just went crazy, almost to the point of absurdity. While after much discussion after the film with my friends I believe I figured out the ending, I found it to be unnecessary for the most part. The ending was intriguing as Burton was surely attempting it to be, but it is nearly unexplainable and will definitely be over the heads of 99.9% of the audience. The ending itself begs for a sequel to explain itself, which is likely something executives at Fox demanded so they could have another franchise. This is the sort of movie you might have to see multiple times to truly comprehend whether the ending was a mess or brilliant on a much higher intelligence level than the rest of the film. Either way it merits discussion, more so than any other action movie released this year.

Rating: B+
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Wet Hot American Summer

That’s not to say that these last few months have been a total wash. “Memento” was finishing its run during the early days of the summer season. “Shrek” was amusing. “Legally Blonde” and “The Others” saved the big studios from total fucking embarassment and the indie scene has given us a plethora of solid entertainment with “Sexy Beast,” “With A Friend Like Harry,” “Made,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and on and on. If it wasn’t for independent cinema I would have had to have cracked open a book or two to entertain myself. And I may have started reading that little golden book sitting on my coffee table this weekend except my second most anticipated movie of the summer finally opened on two, count ’em two, screens in Los Angeles. That’s right. It was time for “Wet Hot American Summer.”

You know how sometimes it seems that a certain movie was made specifically for your For instance, I have a bizarre obsession with the 1950’s and Reese Witherspoon so I was pretty certain that “Pleasantville” would enter my canon before I even entered the fucking theater. Well, “Wet Hot American Summer” seemed like another one of those movies for me. Thanks to a pair non-attentive parents and a stolen VCR I must have watched “Meatballs” around three dozen times in my formative years. Bill Murray was a surrogate uncle for me, Rudy and Spaz my big brothers. I enjoyed the movie tremendously when I was a child and I like it now, but I’m woman enough to realize that it’s pretty stupid. Once I got to high school, every waking hour not spent playing Mortal Kombat II was used exclusively to view and review episode upon episode of MTV’s sketch comedy show “The State”. When I heard that David Wain and Michael Showalter of aforementioned TV show had just made a parody of the whole “Meatballs” genre starring several State alumns and two of my all-time favorite comedy actors, Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce, well, I had to run out and find a homeless no one cared about to fuck to death.

After all of this rabid anticipation, I was finally able to see the film unfurl at the AMC Santa Monica 7 this afternoon and I have to say…it made me feel old.

The movie starts out pretty well. It seems like a smarter, up-to-date version of Meatballs. It’s the last day of summer camp and everybody–campers, counselors, associate professors living next door to the camp–just wants to score before the fall begins. But when Janeane Garofalo’s Beth goes into town to research books on astrophysics (don’t ask), WHAS reveals itself to be a full on throw-every-piece-of-shit-you-can-find-to-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks madcap affair akin to Airplane! There are at least five climaxes, each one lifted from and poking fun at another film from the summer camp-genre and such giggle inducing lines like “Fuck my cock.” But many of the gags overstay their welcome, others are just too weird to be funny and I quickly realized that what I was watching was a bunch of leftover State sketches. And then I also quickly realized that a type of humor I found endlessly hilarious back in high-school had passed me by and became merely chuckle-inducing. Fuck. There is nothing worse than being in your mid-20’s and feeling like the world has passed you by.

Not to say that I wouldn’t recommend the movie. I would. I would even say to see it in the theater so you can get that whole communal laughter thing going. There are moments in it that made me laugh just as hard as some of the shit in “American Pie 2.” I would also say you should see WHAS for Marguerite Moreau who is so incredibly hot I nearly forgot about that homeless guy I left bleeding from the ass in a deserted alley the week before. The lovely Marguerite also has the unenviable job of playing the straight man through most of the picture and she pulls it off admirably. Janeane and Niles are funny as are my boyz from The State Ken (I wanna dip my balls in it) Marino, Michael Ian Black (which I changed from Schwarz because I’m ashamed of being Jewish) and Joe Lo Truglio (who never had any cool catch phrases on the show, but that’s okay because he Joe Lo Fucking Truglio!). Molly Shannon is annoying, but what did you expect from someone who came over from a shitty sketch comedy show. A true revelation, though, is Chris Meloni who must of us know from “Oz” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”. I had no idea this guy could be so funny. When he starts humping a refrigerator I not only laughed, but started being pissed off at Hollywood for not using this guy enough. I look forward to seeing his next comedic role. I also look forward to the next un-official “The State” movie from these guys because “Wet Hot American Summer” does have several things going for it…I just hope the next one has several more.

Rating: B
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Brother

To do a minor story recap, Yamamoto (Takeshi) is forced to relocate to America following a mob war in Japan that he lost. He goes to find his kid brother Ken (Kuroudo Maki), who he has been sending money for school to, only to find him dealing drugs on a street corner with Danny (Omar Epps) and his friends. Yamamoto takes over their gang and immediately turns them in to a major underworld in LA, which leads to a conflict with the local Mafia.

The first thing that I’m sure will strike people when they see this film is the violence. To be honest, this is a very violent film, in an uncompromising way that makes it entirely clear that this is not a life one should want to try and emulate. While I’m sure that if this film becomes a hit (which it deserves to), it will immediately be hammered on by Senators Lieberman and Clinton as more evidence of Hollywood attempting to corrupt the youth of America. Frankly, I hope that both of them and their stupid asinine bill go away quickly, but that’s another thing entirely. The bottom line is that for all the violence, this isn’t a film about how great it is to shoot and kill people. It is a film about the friendships we make and how those will sustain us through everything. I hope that this is what is pushed when people discuss the film, but I know that it won’t be and that saddens me.

As for the technical merits of the film, they are outstanding. Kitano infuses the film with a completely objective eye, viewing everything for it is and nothing more. Even in the most violent scenes he never uses the camera to convince you of who is “evil” and who is “good”. He leaves that judgment up to the viewer, without forcing emotions on to the audience as most Hollywood directors do. The editing of the film, while keeping the pace moving, never uses the insanely fast cuts favored by most people when shooting action films. All of this serves to draw in the viewer by allowing him or her to just let the images soak in and affect them in whatever way they wish them to.

The acting of the film is all-around solid, with probably the best performance I’ve ever seen out of Omar Epps. To be honest, he was the person I was most worried about going in to the film, but he definitely surprised me with the depth of his performance. The way he and Takeshi played off each other allowed me to easily believe in the connection that the two of them had to have to make the story have its proper style and gravity. I hope to see more of all of these actors in other films, as they all gave great performances.

Overall, this was just an amazing film. It releases for the general public in July, and I cannot stress enough they you should seek this film out as soon as you can to see. In a year of fairly weak films, this is unquestionably a bright spot and one of the best films I have ever seen.

Rating: A+
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Ghost World

To be honest, I didn’t understand a whole lot. Maybe it was just me. Maybe it was because I only got 4 hours of sleep the night before. Maybe it was the fact that the movie was about nothing. Yeah, I said it; nothing.

The entire movie we’re following around a girl who feels she doesn’t fit into the world. We follow her around, her adventures, her misadventures, whatever. She has a best friend and the two become distant after they graduate high school. She tries to help an older man find a date. She hates her dad’s girlfriend. Nothing real important; just life in general.

Now, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy the movie. It was entertaining, sure. It was funny, yeah. Did it make any senser Was there any moral to the storyr Were the producers smoking crack when they thought this comic book would make a good movier

Would I see this movie againr Hell no. Would I recommend it to someone elser Sure, if they like movies about nothing. I can’t even think of something even remotely close to compare it to. It’s like watching one of those stupid reality shows where the plot goes nowhere and nothing ever makes any sense. Hey, shoot me.

Rating: D
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Jurassic Park 3

“JP3” answers that question. Actually, “JP3” scares it into you. This film is scary. I shit you not, its frigging out and out SCARY. New director Joe Johnston has decided not to make this enjoyable, pop corn, kiddie summer fun, and thank Christ for small favors. Instead, he opts to pull out all the stops and jams the film with unrelenting action. ACTION. DINOSAURS. ATTACKS. This movie is not pussified. The camera does not cut away when a dino attacks, and we are left with only seeing water turning red. “JP3” does what “JP2” should have done. MAKE YOU AFRAID OF THE GODDAMN 8 TON DINOSAUR. I cannot stress it enough. I’m so pumped right now. The film is an utter rush. Its dark and gritty. It doesn’t stop. The effects are top notch…perhaps better than the previous 2 films for one reason… more dinosaurs. The new bad ass, Spinosaurus stands out… and when I say new bad ass, I mean it. Wait till you see this fucker… and his fight with a T Rex.

The stars of the film, I must say, go to the Ptredons… flying dinos. They kick ass. Nasty bastards. Best action sequences in the film belong to the birds… who were greatly ignored in the first two.

Of course, the raptors are back… and, well, they’re evolved. They’re smarter… bigger… more menacing. Very cool stuff is done with them. I’m sure by now, everyone has seen the previews and know what the premise is, so I wont waste time with plot details. What I will say is that once the group is OVER (Notice I didn’t say ON) the island, the action never stops. The group travels through JP, hoping to survive, all the while being stalked by the Spinosaurus (God, he is a BAD ASS).

The actors are top notch. Sam Neill is in top form as Dr. Grant, Bill Macy is terrific as always, playing a character your not sure to like… even Tea Leoni joins the fun and manages to out act her computer counterparts. I especially liked seeing Laura Dern return as Ellie Sattler… it kind of brought back alot of the first film… making “JP3” seem more like home. The thing I liked most though, was the tone. The first film, we got awe. Sure, we got intense suspense, but it mostly achieved by snagging our amazement. In “JP2,” we got mindless, summer movie shit. The tone of “JP3” is dark. The dinosaurs take on the role a dinosaur should… a nasty bastard. Big, nasty bastards. They’re unforgiving this time out.

Sure, “JP3” is a summer flick. But its a SMART summer flick. This is not mindless entertainment. I promise you, your eyes will be glued to the screen. Not because of what you see, but because of what your afraid to miss.

Rating: A
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Bully

After years of debating this issue with myself, I’m convinced that guys like Larry Clark and Harmony Korine (the writer of “Kids” and director of such elegant art as “Gummo”) aren’t out to make films, but emotional roadmaps. I can’t find a logistical thread of story through any of their work… it’s always about the characters, the moment, the mood, and the potentials. I’ll just have to accept this and move on with my life.

If I ignore the complete lack of script and point, “Kids” was an almost-great film with one fatal flaw: they were ghetto trash. Maybe it was realistic, I dunno, I don’t care. If rich kids can buy cocaine, so can poor kids, they can rob someone for it, okayr The worst drugs done in Kids were gangsta chronic and Special-K-deluxe or whatever the fuck Harmony Korine decided it was. Sorry, that killed the film for me, I can’t buy that the line stops there, not with this crowd.

What’s “Bully” aboutr In a nutshell, there’s this closeted asshole who rapes chicks and beats up the guys, particularly his best friend, whom he’s attracted to. He rapes chicks to gay porn and forces his buddy to dance on a stage at a local nightclub filled with trolls and shit like that. Whatever. The buddy’s girlfriend, she don’t play that, so she arranges this lazy, pot-inspired plot to whack the fucking bully. And they drag like 8 other teenagers into the ploy. And they whack the dude. And they feel the need to talk about it. I’m not spoiling shit, by the way, this is all a TRUE FUCKING STORY.

Is “Bully” shockingr If you’re a fucking Mormon, sure. There are plenty of crotch shots… I don’t mean like “Basic Instinct,” I mean, crotch shots that put every other crotch shot to shame… you’ll find yourself smiling in a strange way as Bijou Phillips climbs into the front seat of a car, based solely on the chosen camera angle. If you find yourself stunned by shots of chicks dripping hot candle wax onto a guy’s nipples while she straddles him… you need to get out more. I’ve seen a 14-year-old get done by a goddamn mule. I’ve seen footage of a crazy dude drop an 8 inch steel rod in his pisshole, and I don’t mean for an STD test. If hot candle wax shocks you, you are no longer allowed to visit this website. Fuck you.

Does “Bully” workr On some levels. The kids have money, but they’re still white trash. Clark has learned his lessons well. The moral of the story is sorta clear. The film is entertaining. Works for me.

Does “Bully” have flawsr Yeah, it’s completely stupid. Your jaw will drop at how fucking stupid these kids are. And believe me, it’s not only true, but it’s true to life. If you’ve ever been down in Tallahassee, you’ll know I’m right. There’s a scene where Brad Renfro gets to emulate Eminem. Need I elaborater

Does “Bully” have good sex scenes for being an unrated filmr No. Seeing a chick’s pubes and tits and panties and a guy’s pubes and ass are hardly what I’d call groundbreaking American cinema. Show me a vagina hooding up like a cobra and spitting at the camera and you’ll earn my respect, okayr

How are the performancesr Pretty decent. Renfro’s damn good, Nick Stahl is pretty convincing for a skinny little prick, and the chicks are just there to show their crotches. You see, chicks in this kinda film don’t have much to do… it’s guys who have all the major, violence-inspired emotional problems at this age. If you’re thinking I’m getting sexist, I am, against guys… let’s put it like this, chicks do not beat each other up because of a lesbian impulse. And if they did, and made a film outta it, I’m there.

Does “Bully” seem like a celebration of pedophiliar Uhhhh, the correct term is like ‘ebephophilia’ or something, I know I fucked up the spelling, okay, but pedophilia is ‘love of children’, whereas the latter word means ‘love of adolescents’. Sure it does. It’s a guy thing, and I commend Clark for not giving a shit. I don’t mind seeing pre-college titties, okayr And for you switch hitters and titty-blessed out there, you won’t mind a few smooth chests and whatnot. Who gives a fuckr If you don’t like seeing chicks gargle semen and smile at the camera, don’t see “In The Realm of the Senses.” If you’re uncomfortable with the concept of young people who don’t have all their body hair yet fuck and get nude and smoke mushrooms and viciously stab a motherfucker to death, don’t see “Bully.”

Do you recommend “Bullyr” Yeah. Go see it. I think it’s better than “Kids.” For an indie-drama, I sure laughed a lot during the film, moreso than most of the comedies I’ve seen in a while. Fuck it, go see it when it comes to a run-down indie shithole near you.

Peace.

Rating: B-
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