Revolver (2005) D+

The hazard of mail in Blockbuster DVDs is that sometimes you get DVDs in the mail that you forget you even wanted to watch in the first place. Kudos to whoever created the trailer for Revolver (2005), they did what the filmmakers couldn’t – made it interesting. Why don’t more trailer people make movies? That’s what I want to know! I mean, seriously, is there anything worse than seeing a CAPTIVATING movie trailer then to be disappointed when the movie sucks?! No. There is nothing worse. It makes me want to go and kick the trailer makers in the balls for being so good at their job. That’s not fair, I know, but neither is raising my hopes.

The film felt like watching two different equally mediocre films. It’s one of those movies where just when you think the plot is making sense to you it does something completely retarded like randomly make small characters important to the crux of the entire movie and rotoscoping. Yes, there is even random rotoscoping. I love a good rotoscope, but it should make sense and not be RANDOM! The individual scenes of this film are great. And it *could* have been fabulous, but it wasn’t. It just wasn’t. The only reason I gave it a plus was the fact that Ray Liotta was in it, but even that isn’t much of a saving grace.
There were some really cool trailers on it, though…

Recount (2008) A+

Recount dramatizes the behind-the-scenes actions that took place during the historical 2000 election. This film is a timely reminder of the highly politicized and partisan legal machine that runs the United States and how much of a sham it is. From the very beginning, this film invites you to be a fly on the wall of Florida’s Election 2000 recount.

Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, Recount is punctuated with moments of wit and fantastically written dialog. Kevin Spacey, Dennis Leary and Laura Dern all give very enjoyable performances. Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of Ron Klain as the story’s determined hero pulled me in immediately and I knew that this political film would be anything but boring. Laura Dern’s performance of Katherine Harris would have been a hilarious caricature, if it wasn’t so on the nose accurate.

Recount is just like that movie that you watch in your high school history class that inspires you to learn more about American government. I applaud the decision to use archival news footage throughout as it really pulled me back to the year 2000 and added crucial credibility to the historic accuracy.

Whether you are Democrat or Republican, Conservative or Liberal Recount speaks to the American public as a country, not two parties as the film states in more than one instance. It reminds us that no matter who the players are what is most important is the fairness and objectivity of the process rather than the politics of the winning candidate. Its broadcast in this crucial election year is very timely and I hope that any American who sees this carries away a message of hope for the coming election. Hopefully, the politicos of all parties who will be involved in the 2008 election take from this film an important lesson in what it means to truly serve the people and stay true to the process of Democracy that should be something we can be proud of.

Cloverfield ****

Warning: Not for the weak of stomach.

Grab your Dramamine and brace yourself, the entire film is shot with a hand held camera. This technique is quite jarring and a cinematic language that is out of the norm. In fact the last big film that comes to mind is the Blair Witch Project (1999). Unlike its predecessor, however, Cloverfield (2008 ) is packed with action, suspense and best of all – monsters!

Drew Goddard the writer behind episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Lost and Alias teams up with J.J. Abrahms to bring big scary monsters to audiences. The movie starts very ominously with placards stating that the film is the property of the U.S. Government and includes a hint of Abrams mythology. After being introduced to the spunky, young leads: Marlena, Lily, Hud and Rob Hawkins mayhem and terror ensue as the bug/crab like creature, Cloverfield, tears through New York City.

I cannot comment enough on the hand held camera work and how appropriate it was for this story. The first person perspective gave it a bit of a claustrophobic tunnel-vision feel, but put you right in the action. Cloverfield is a commentary to the cultural phenomenon of “iReporting,” which has been made possible by Apple’s obsession to add an “i” to the beginning of everything. It is also made possible due to an increase in personal, user-friendly technology such as camera-phones. The filmmakers actually watched YouTube for phone videos from 9-11 and other disasters in preparing for this film, which they talk about on the DVD’s extras.

This movie is most fun on a stormy night with all of the lights off. Great for sucking you in and keeping you at the edge of your seat. Chock full of visual effects surprises, Cloverfield is an incredibly imaginative beast that is fascinating to watch – when you’re given a glimpse of him. Definitely one of the best suspense films I’ve seen in a while.

Juno **

I give the much-hyped film, Juno two stars.

What I didn’t like:

  • I felt the relationship between Juno (Ellen Page) and Bleeker (Michael Cera) could have been better developed. He felt like more of an accessory to the film than a pivotal character.
  • The music.
  • The dialog sounded very forced at times.
  • Its slow pace of the film lacks replay value.
  • The relationship between Juno and Mark Loring (Jason Bateman) was kind of creepy.
  • All the hype.
  • Jennifer Garner’s character.
  • Jennifer Garner. (just for Aaron, she really doesn’t bother me, but I do like watching her kick ass much more than play a yuppie)

What I liked:

  • Ellen Page
  • The film’s handling of a controversial and uncomfortable subject.
  • Allison Janney’s character telling off the ultrasound technician.
  • The way it ended.
  • The title sequence.
  • Jason Bateman
  • Michael Cera

The movie was definitely worth watching, however this character study lacked a certain depth and intimacy. The characters felt at an arm’s length because of the forced slang-filled dialog and its overall lack of relationship set up. We don’t even know who Juno is and the movie starts with her discovering she’s pregnant. From there a series of anticlimactic events ensue. For an emotionally charged issue this film treats pregnancy as more of an incidental medical condition than the start of a human life. As for the awards it was up for and won, I’m going to extend my humble opinion and say that I don’t think it deserved them.

The film did have some laughs and some nice moments. The performances themselves were also right on and the cast was mostly enjoyable to watch. So, go ahead and pick it up when you’re really bored one Friday night. Just don’t expect it to be the phenomenon it’s advertised to be.