Saturday, February 26, 2011

"The Ghost Writer" [B]

A very effective suspense thriller in the vein of Hitchcock. This is not surprising, given that the screenwriter and director intended that very thing. Marked down a little for several plot holes.

The Ghost Writer (IMDb)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Despicable Me" [B+]

Despicable Me is a silly animated film with a ridiculous premise. Gru wants to be the greatest villain in the world, but is missing a key component needed for his latest diabolical plan. Enter three adorable orphan girls that he thinks will make it possible. Will they free him from his evil lifestyle? Or will he merely use them for his own gain? Anything is possible in this animated universe and the film insinuates itself into your heart, much like the little girls, creating an entertaining diversion.

Despicable Me (IMDb)

"The Social Network" [B+]

The Social Network somehow manages to take an unsympathetic character and a story that's too complex for words and create a fascinating and compelling story. It's not an uplifting feel good tale. But it is interesting and entertaining.

The Social Network (IMDb)

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Red" (B+)

"Red" is a rock-'em, sock-'em, shoot-'em-up action movie of the best kind. I must admit that most of the the appeal comes from the appeal of the cast. The plot is intentionally action-movie-typical - unknown bad guys are after the good guy for no apparent reason - so that we can focus on how the good guy will find his friends and get out of his predicament and how much fun the cast will have shooting guns and blowing stuff up.

The good guy is Bruce Willis, who plays yet another Jason Bourne inspired spy, except this spy was in action long before Jason Bourne was even a twinkle in his father's eye. To get himself out of his mysterious predicament, he hits the road and recruits his other retired spy buddies. It's a given that the casting and writing all borders on being stereotypical. But it's all done with enough panache and tongue-in-cheek that it can be forgiven and enjoyed.

Red (IMDb)

"Cop Out" [C]

Almost every moment of this film, I kept thinking how much it reminded me of "Beverly Hills Cop" and how much better that film was. It tries for the same silly buddy-cop movie feel, it has almost the same over-synthed pop music score, and it racks up a similar bad-guy body count.

What it hasn't got is a plot that makes any sense, writing that rises above junior high locker room humor, or a comic lead (Tracy Morgan) that does anything except shout his lines in a trademarked annoying monotone.

I wonder if Bruce Willis got roped into this with promises that weren't kept. He doesn't always look like he's having a good time. Perhaps he thought his co-star would be the new Eddie Murphy.

Cop Out (IMDb)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

read: Season of Mists (The Sandman #4)

Season of Mists (The Sandman, #4)Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A well-told, if (in the end) familiar, tale. What stands out is Gaiman's exquisite weaving together of multiple mythic traditions.

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read: Naked Heat

Naked Heat (Nikki Heat #2)Naked Heat by Richard Castle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More plot, more action, more characterization, fewer television tropes. These are what I saw as improvements in this second installment of Richard Castle's crime novel series featuring Detective Nikki Heat, inspired by NYPD Detective Kate Beckett. Of course, Castle and Beckett are also just characters in a television show. The parallels between the two fictitious worlds are part of what makes this book a fun read. On the other hand, the parallel worlds are sometimes plain awkward. Even so, this is great fun for Castle fans. [More...]

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