THE QUEEN (2006)

•February 13, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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Director: Stephen Frears
Cast: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Sylvia Syms, Alen Jennings, Helen McCrory
Screenplay: Peter Morga

After the death of Dianna, Princess of Wales, Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) must try and continue her duties as a Monarch to the British people. But Elizabeth’s decisions to ignore Dianna’s death causes public bashing that the new Prime minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) must help Her majesty to overcome. ”

The Queen” is nothing short of a modern masterpiece about one week of great significance and caused huge sadness not only to England, but to the world. Director Stephen Frears brings us a spectacular new British film with Peter Morgan. Morgan’s account towards what might have happened during those tragic days may or may not be true, but it doesn’t matter for the film had so much to offer. The movie is a good combination of real footage ad newly made footage to start with, it was a very smart way of making a film about real events. Helen Mirren’s Queen Elizabeth II was so incredible, I thought I was actually watching Her Majesty. Kudos to Mirren. Michael Sheen was also very fine and he was very slick as the young Tony Blair. Kudos to everyone who took part of the film because it is truly one of 2006’s best, a wonderful achievement.

(PG-13 for brief strong language)

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THE GOOD GERMAN (2006) (B)

•February 13, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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Director: Steven Soderberg
Cast: George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobby Maguire, Christian Oliver
Screenplay: Paul Attanasio (Based on the novel by Joseph Kanon)

Tully (Tobby Maguire) thinks he has fallen in love with a prostitute and Lena Brandt (Cate Blanchett) right after the war in Germany and promises her that he will find a way to get them out of the wrecked country. Captain Jacob Giesmer (George Clooney) comes along and soon discovers that everybody is looking for the husband of Lena, Emile (Christian Oliver) due to the government secrets he has stored in is brain. After Tully’s sudden murder, Jacob must now uncover the mysteries of the hiding “Good German” and secretive wife.

The acting of “The Good German” was not much. After viewing the trailer, before seeing the picture, I quickly did not expect much from the “Casablanca” (1943) rip off. I was sad to watch that Oscar winners Cate Blanchett (2004’s Best Supporting Actress for “The Aviator”) and George Clooney (2005’s Best Supporting Actor for “Syriana”) was immediately beaten by “Spider-Man’s” Tobby Mauguire in his first scene. Maguire’s potty mouth GI, was not only haunting but very unpredictable, his unspoken actions and face expressions did not come from the script but from his incredible acting. Sadly, this Soderbergh film is not as good as his others. Many parts were boring and often, the lines became cheesy. Mediocre.

(R for language, violence, brief nudity [female] and some sexual content)

THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (2006) (A)

•February 13, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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Director: Jason Rietman
Cast: Aaron Ackhart, William H. Macey, Katie Holmes, Robert Duvall, Adam Brody, Rob Lowe, Todd Louiso, Maria Bello, Cameron Bright, David Koecher, J.K. Simmons
Screenplay: Jason Rietman (Based on the novel by Christopher Buckley)

As the spokesperson of a worldwide smoking corporation called Big Tobacco, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) must continue and speak in behalf of cigarettes and live as one of the most hated people in the world, but also must keep his reputation as being a good role model for his son.

“Thank You for Smoking” is a film with fine performances and very good comedy. The film takes us into a very interesting world and how the people who work there cope with their lives, mainly Aaron Eckhart’s character. Eckhart was the finest choice for the “rather obnoxious, full of himself, big time” cigarettes spokesperson. He did a very good job in one of the best comedy turns of the year. I also liked the movie because it showed facts about smoking in very fun ways. The film clearly shows people ways that smoking can be harmful, but is also shows the “other half” that our parents don’t tell us. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t smoke, but the movie is very truthful as much as it is comedy. The small supporting roles played out by Bello and Katie Holmes were also very amusing. But the best supporting role, even though only given about 5 minutes of screen time was Adam Brody whose “obsessed assistant” to Hollywood mogul played by Rob Lowe was very funny. To some it up, the adapted novel is made with superb acting and creativity.

(R for language and some sexual content)

MARIE ANTOINTETTE (2006) (A)

•February 6, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Jason Swartzman, Steve Coogan, Judy Davis, Rose Byrne, Rip Tourne, Marianne Faithful
Screenplay: Sofia Coppola

Naive Austrian born Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) marries King Louis XVI (Jason Swartzman) at a young age. She must now quickly learn the cultures of France and enjoy her new living styles to profile her right as Queen of France. After Louis’ negative attitude towards their marriage, he slowly start falling for the young monarch and they produce a child. As a gift, Louis gives her a mansion near the palace where the Queen starts many outrageous scandals that her people will hate.

Sophia Coppola’s 4th film as a director: “Marie Antoinette” was a beautiful visual journey that will clear your screen with bright colors, lavish costumes, extravagant sets and fine cinematography. The acting was just okay but Kirsten Dunst did exceptionally well from the rest of the cast. Her title role was played out perfectly and there would have been no better choice. I also found newcomer Jason Swartzman who played the shy King Louis, rather good. Finally he is in a role suit for him and is actually good, far away from the disaster “Bewitched” movie. The odd choice for playing rock ‘n’ roll music in this period film was rather strange though, but that give points to originality. “Marie Antoinette” is a grand production worth watching, it is an interesting biography and is underrated by many critics and audiences alike.

(PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity [female] and innuendo)

LITTLE CHILDREN (2006) (A+)

•February 6, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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Directer: Todd Field
Cast: Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, Jaki Earle Haley, Greg Edelman, Sadie Goldstien, Ty Simpkins, Phyllis Sommerville
Screenplay: Todd Field, Tom Perrotta (Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta)

Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet) is in an unhappy marriage with a husband who secretly goes to porn sites when no one is looking. Brad Adamson has the same problem but instead, his beautiful wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly), is always at work. After meeting at the local park, the two begin a sexual affair during their children’s nap times. Meanwhile, Ronnie J. McGorvey (Jakie Earle Haley), a child molester, is set free from jail and is looking for a few children to “love”.

“Little Children” is a disturbing piece of cinema but it is absolutely beautiful. I think the lesson of the story is that we should always think before we do. Earle Haley was very scary, his child molester gave me chills at my back, he did very good. Wilson finally has a big break, though I enjoyed his supporting role as Raul in 2004’s “The Phantom of the Opera”, I can gladly say he i better lead and he impressed me. Winslet is the best like she always is. Her “desperate/obsessed mistress” is Oscar worthy. Usually, when an actress goes nude for a film for a sex scene, its very tasteless but Winslet makes it very tasteful. She is an incredible actress and she has no more need to prove her self, she already has 10 years before in “Titanic” (1997) and she just keeps getting better. The film is a fine movie and is beautifully directed and creatively made. Lovely and classy.

(R for strong sexuality and nudity [male and female], language and some disturbing content)

LIFE IS NOT A FAIRYTALE: THE FANTASIA BARRINO STORY (2006) (F)

•February 6, 2007 • 1 Comment

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Director: Debbie Allen
Cast: Fantasia Barino, Loretta Devine, Viola Davis, Kardeem Hardison
Screenplay: Keith Glover (Based on the autobiography by Fantasia Barrino)

The story of American Idol winner (Fantasia Barrino) and her struggle from dropping out of school, a rape, a destructive boyfriend, an early pregnantcy and profiling one’s dreams.

I cannot believe I sat through this piece of trash. “Life is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story” is probably the worst acted and most disgusting movie made in 2006. It’s an “F” movie. The whole concept of the movie was just absolutely terrible. There was nothing good about it. By far, the worst biography I have ever seen in my whole lifetime of watching movies. I will warn you now, do not watch this film…it is as bad as bad films can get and the only thing that you’ll get watching from it is irritancies towards the acting, writing and story. Pure rubbish. Fantasia must’ve been so desperate to play herself in a movie biography…

(PG for sexual content)

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM (2006) (B)

•February 6, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Ben Stiller, Dick van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Carla Guguino, Jake Cherry, Mizuo Peck, Rami Malek, Steve Coogan
Screenplay: Ben Garant, Thomas Lenon (Based on the book by Milan Trenc)

After a split from hit wife, Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) becomes determine to find a job to make his son (Jake Cherry) proud of him. In desperation, he takes a job at The Museum of Natural History as a security guard but soon learns that at night, everything in the museum comes to life.

“Night at the Museum” is a fast paces movie with flaws. It was a creative piece of work with a few laughs, here and there, but there was nothing special about it. I loved the whole concept about museum exhibits coming to life at night though, it was more then interesting and in a sense, makes you want to feel young at heart. As much as I love the idea, the movie was just okay. Surely not Stiller’s best, his “Zoolander” has yet to be replaced. The funniest and best actor however was Mickey Rooney, after not seeing him act since 1961’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, I thought he was funny and I never saw him act like that before. The ensemble did a great job and jokes were okay. Some jokes however were a bit too much, some weren’t even funny. I concluded that “Night at the Museum” is nothing more than a film to take younger family members to.

(PG for mild action, language and brief rude humor)