Movie Review Archive - F
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Failure To Launch (PG13)
"Failure to launch" is a pop-psychology term for a child's inability or unwillingness to move out of his or her parent's house. Apparently the parents are sometimes at fault as well. These days it's easier to blame society in general and your parents in particular for all of your faults. That way you don't have to take responsibility for your shortcomings and you can go around acting like a victim. Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) is a 35 year old who still lives at home. Mom and Dad hire Paula (Sarah Jessica Lange), a professional interventionist, who pretends to fall for these types of men and gets them to move out of their parents' abodes. First of all, isn't it kind of far fetched to imagine a 35 year old man still living with his parents? It just doesn't happen. Secondly, Tripp keeps getting bitten by creatures that are normally docile. Is this supposed to be funny? Animal bites are certainly no laughing matter. Have you ever been bitten by a disoriented skunk or a rabid dog? It can really ruin your day. Despite the novel premise and a solid cast, this film is pretty bad. The characters are mostly idiots, the situations were too contrived and the dialogue alternates between banal and nauseating. In short, this is a wonderful date movie. There are many lulls which are perfect opportunities to try the popcorn trick. Also starring Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw. 97 minutes.
The Family Stone (PG-13)
A sixty-something couple's family comes home to celebrate Christmas together. No one can stand their oldest son's fiancée. A somewhat predictable tear-jerker that is saved by some great performances. While this is not exactly Holiday Inn or It's A Wonderful Life, I wish that I had seen The Family Stone in mid-December instead of mid-January. Upon leaving the theater I wanted to go home and bake a cake made of rainbows and smiles but instead I decided to go to a liquor store for some tequila. Starring Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Jessica Parker (pick TWO names), Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Claire Danes. 102 minutes.
Far From Heaven (PG13)
1950's America was an amazingly conformist and prejudiced society. Such is the conservative climate in writer/director Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven. The dialogue, music, sets, titles, color, editing, photography and costumes are truly authentic. Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid play a Hartford, Connecticut couple who seem to have it all. The problem is, they have some "dirty little secrets". 107 minutes.
Femme Fatale (R)
Director Brian DePalma, known for his stylish and sexy thrillers, shoots and scores with his latest film, Femme Fatale. The plot centers around 10 million dollars worth of diamonds that are stolen from a woman during The Cannes Film Festival. The audience and the characters are kept guessing as to what's really happening right up until the very end. They say that the less talented an actress is, the more time she spends shedding her clothing in front of the camera. Spokes-model Rebecca Ptomaine-Staymoist gets naked a real lot. She's remarkably bad. Nice looking though. That's Hollywood for you. Also starring Antonio Banderas. 107 minutes.
Fever Pitch (PG13)
A woman (Drew Barrymore) falls in love with a man (Jimmy Fallon) who turns out to be a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. This romantic comedy had to be partially re-shot after the Sox finally became world champs again in 2004. The laughs are sparse, there's little chemistry between Fallon and Barrymore but the film works. Mostly because we get a realistic glimpse of fanatic loyalty to a sports team and it's impact on every day life. Not to mention some great scenes shot at venerable Fenway Park. 98 minutes.
A security expert for a major financial institution (Harrison Ford) is forced to help a group of crooks steal millions from his bank or they will kill his kidnapped family. It used to be that casting Harrison Ford in suspenseful action pictures such as Star Wars, Raiders Of The Lost Arc, Blade Runner, Witness, Presumed Innocent, Patriot Games and The Fugitive was a slam dunk. Although Ford is beginning to be a bit old for these types of roles I think that the problem here lies in the screenplay. The story is too familiar, the characters spend too much time at computer keyboards and the end is a laugh. Also starring Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind), Virginia Madsen (Sideways), Mary Lynn Rajskub ("The Larry Sanders Show"), Alan Arkin (The In-Laws), Robert Forster (Mulholland Drive), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2) and Carly Schroeder ("Lizzie McGuire"). 120 minutes.
Flight Of The Phoenix (PG13)
A cargo plane carrying 12 passengers crash lands in the Gobi Desert. The survivors struggle to build a new smaller craft out of the wreckage and avoid hostile nomads. Formulaic but fun. Starring Dennis Quaid. 112 minutes.
A woman's young daughter goes missing on a jumbo jet traveling from Germany to America. No one remembers seeing the girl, her name is not on the passenger list and when the crew calls Germany they are told that she died earlier in the week. Great premise. The first two reels are very good but like the recent Red Eye, the film loses credibility on the ground. Starring grim faced Jody Foster, Peter Sarsgaard (my junior high wrestling coach made us wear those) and Sean Bean. 95 minutes.
Following Sean (not rated)
In 1969, Ralph Arlyck, a young film student living in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco, filmed an award winning documentary about a four year old boy named Sean. Sean doesn't like to wear shoes, enjoys running through the neighborhood streets, smokes pot and hates the police! The Bay Area in 1969 was a hotbed of political and cultural clashes between radical groups such as the yippies and The Black Panthers versus "the establishment" with The Vietnam War as a bloody backdrop. Amid dire predictions about Sean's future, Arlyck went back thirty six years later to see what Sean and his family were up to. I got the sense that in order to add some contrast (and some length) to his film, Arlyck decided to add a before and after look at his own Upstate New York family, as sort of an afterthought. The most ironic thing about Following Sean is that the look at the family Arlyck is the most poignant. Also starring Jason Bateman as Jerry Garcia. 87 minutes.
40 Days And 40 Nights (R)
One of the great things about this country is that people are free to make movies like this. Freedom is sexy. But make no mistake about it. It's this kind of entertainment that those fundamentalist Islamic bastards point to when they say that Western Civilization is wicked. 40 Days And 40 Nights focuses on Matt (Josh Hartnett), a twenty-something ad-man who has a sex hang-up. Ever since he and his sex-pot girlfriend Nicole (Vinessa Shaw) broke up, Matt has been haunted by visions of a "black hole" whenever he has sex with his many partners. Matt likes to have sex but he feels as though the best thing for him to do is to abstain from sex for the 40 day Lenten period. Word gets out and poor Matt must fend off sexual advances from many sexy women who are "willing to do whatever it takes (have sex with him) to get the job done." Masturbation is not allowed either, although it is talked about frequently. Matt then meets another sexy young woman named Erica (Shannyn Sossamon) whom he really likes. Erica wants to have sex with Matt and Matt wants to have sex with Erica but Matt is not allowed to have sex until Easter. Then Nicole and her fiancé (who it turns out is a sexual predator) split and Nicole shows up at Matt's apartment and proposes that they have sex. Matt doesn't really want to have sex with Nicole and if he has the sex and his friends find out about the sex, there will be a problem because Matt's friends have started a pool to bet on how long he can go without having sex. Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. This film sucks. Also starring someone named Monet Mazur. 93 sexy minutes.
The 40 Year-Old Virgin (R)
He's 40 years old and never been laid. Like that's some big deal. It was difficult for me to get to the mall for this one 'cause my dad forgot to leave my allowance before he left for work and my mom wouldn't let me use her car as punishment for staying out beyond curfew on Saturday. Luckily, my best friend picked me up and paid for the film and snacks. A much funnier and dirtier movie than I was expecting. DO NOT GO SEE THIS WITH YOUR MOTHER! Starring Steve Carell and Catherine Keener (The Interpreter, The Ballad Of Jack And Rose). 116 minutes.
The Four Feathers (PG13)
A British Officer resigns his commission in order to stay with his fiance just after war in The Sudan is declared in The Four Feathers. He is subsequently branded a coward by his fellow soldiers and given the heave ho by his sweetheart and family. Pretty boy Heath Ledger (Isn't that a candy bar accounting method?) is adequate but Kate Hudson (Almost Famous) just doesn't deliver the goods. Set in the 1880's, Feathers is hokey and long but it is just interesting enough to recommend. High praise indeed. 128 minutes.
Religious fanatics that are mentally unstable, over zealous, misinformed or just plain stupid have always scared me more than ghosts, goblins or vampires. That's because these people have existed throughout history and have caused tremendous instability and human suffering in the name of their particular "God". Frailty is the chilling saga of a man (Bill Paxton) who believes that God has told him to kill certain people who are in fact not people, but demons. This fine film is gory and depressing. If you want to get out of your current relationship, take your mate to dinner at Fresno's and then to this movie. Also starring Powers Boothe (Don't you love that name?) and Mathew McConaughey. 100 minutes.
Friends With Money (R)
A film about wealthy, self-obsessed Americans who are never satisfied. You know the type. They have every material thing that they could ever want and many of them are still not happy. They pick at their spouses, at their friends and at themselves. A well made movie but who really cares? Although her range is quite limited (her essence or "spine" never changes), Jennifer Aniston is a better actress than you might expect. Also starring the currently ubiquitous Catherine Keener (Death To Smoochy, The Ballad Of Jack And Rose, The Interpreter, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Capote), Frances McDoormat, and Joan Cusack. 88 minutes.
From Hell (R)
Johnny Depp plays Inspector Abberline, an opium smoking, absinthe swilling, 19th Century London sleuth hot on the trail of Jack The Ripper in From Hell. The durable Ripper tale gets a political cover-up twist in this gruesome (What did I expect?) update. Depp brings a certain depth to his character and Heather Graham (Boogie Nights) never breaks a sweat as an English prostitute. This film is dark, mysterious, violent, expertly crafted and depressing. Watching repeated throat slashings and disembowelments has never been my idea of a fun night out, no matter how well a film is made. I prefer the Time After Time slasher saga. Also starring Ian Holm and Robbie Coltrane. Bon Appetite!
Fun With Dick And Jane (PG13)
A corporate lackey (Jim Carrey) gets promoted to vice president just as the company goes bankrupt. Once all of their savings are spent, he and his wife (Tea Leoni) embark on a crime spree that culminates with the CEO's (Sir Alec Baldwin) Grand Cayman account. While they are quite good, Carrey, Leoni and Baldwin have played similar roles countless times and the story is just a modern re-make of the flimsy 1977 original. 90 minutes.