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Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo July 5, 2010

Posted by judylobo in Movie Review Archives, Movie Reviews, Movie Trailer, Photography.
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Movie Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Alternate Title: Don’t Get Mad, Get Even

Story: It is better to get to the party late than to not get there at all, right? And what a dark party this gripping film turned out to be. It was directed by Niels Arden Oplev and written by Rasmus Heisterberg and Nikolaj Arcel and based on the immensely popular novel by Stieg Larsson. I admit that I have not read Larsson’s Millennium trilogy of books featuring the fascinating character called, Lisbeth Salander.

Journalist Michael Nyqvist has just lost a libel suit brought by a corrupt financier and is about to spend months in jail. While awaiting his jail time he is hired by wealthy industrialist Henrik Vanger to solve the case of his niece who disappeared or was murdered 40 years ago. I will skip over lots of sub-plots and say that Salander, an amazing computer hacker, teams up with Nyqvist to attempt to solve this 40 year old mystery.

Along the way we are introduced to much evil, corruption, Nazis, sexual predators, sadists, rapists, dark secrets, anti-semitism and other such cruelties that will make you squirm. This is a film that allows you to get lost inside its ugly premise. It is beautifully filmed and I could not wait to see how this female protagonist externalized her rage to the delight of this viewer.

Yes, there are many characters and tangential story lines but I was most interested in the crime solving nitty gritty details and the use of one heck of an Apple laptop, internet searches, photo-editing software, web cams and some other very familiar computer geekiness.

If you need a break from this summer’s heat, check out the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I, for one, am ready for the next film in the trilogy.  That tattoo of a Lobo was a cockamamie – and is now gone (erased with rubbing alcohol)

Acting: Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist was perfect in his role as was the amazing Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander.

Trivia: Noomi Rapace used the holes of her old piercing’s when she was a young punk rocker in her role as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Form his website: Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) was a Swedish writer and journalist. Prior to his sudden death of a heart attack in November 2004 he finished three detective novels in his trilogy “The Millenium-series” which were published posthumously; “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest”. Altogether, his trilogy has sold more than 20 million copies in 41 countries (spring of 2010), and he was the second best selling author in the world 2008. Before his career as a writer, Stieg Larsson was mostly known for his struggle against racism and right-wing extremism. http://www.stieglarsson.com/

Predilection: None

Critters: None

Food: Eggs

Sex Spectrum: There is lots of sex (most of it violent).

Blatant Product Placement: Apple, Nikon, Heinz Ketchup

Soundtrack: I stirring soundtrack.

Opening Titles: Financier Henrik Vanger opens a strange package from Hong Kong.

Visual Art: Sweden is cold and foreboding in the winter.

Theater Audience: About 30 other NYer’s escaping form the 100 Big Apple heat. The chilly Swedish landscaped helped to cool my body temperature down.

Weather: Cold

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 3 – the sadistic scenes made me squirm quite a bit.

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout.

Predictability Level: I was pretty sure of what was going to happen.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Maybe

Big Screen or Rental: Go for the big screen if you can still find it playing.

Length: 30 minutes over the two hour Lobo rule.

LOBO HOWLS: 8.5

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Movie Review: Winter’s Bone June 21, 2010

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Movie Review: Winter’s Bone

Alternate Title: What a Meth

Story: The Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s seem like kissing cousins compared to the feuding clans in this depressing, sad tale from the Missouri Ozarks. We find 17 year old Ree, taking care of her two younger siblings and her almost catatonic mother because her father, a convicted meth lab druggie has fled the coop. He has put up the family farm as bounty for his court date and never showed up. If young Ree does not find her father, they will be homeless. The law is after the absent father as are some scary competing druggies and a pissed off bounty hunter. Against all odds, brave Ree stands tall to save her siblings and mother.

Yes, this premise sounds like those crowd pleasing David Vs Goliath tales, but I found the film wanting. The characters generally are without any redeeming qualities (other than Ree) and it is hard to cheer when the odds are so very much against this young girl as she heads towards the poor, depressing, feral life that every other character on screen seems destined to live.The film was directed by Debra Granik and written by Ms. Granik and Anne Rosellini, this gray tale was based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell.

Should you see this dismal film that appears to be in black and white? It will probably roam around the Indie Art House circuit and then go to DVD. I have seen better films about the same subject – but it is worth two hours of your life? I think not.

Acting: Jennifer Lawrence as Ree is the only sympathetic character and she does a fine job. The rest of the cast is fine (but scary) including: John Hawkes (Teardrop), Kevin Breznahan (Little Arthur), Dale Dickey (Merab), Garret Dillahunt (Sheriff Baskin), Sheryl Lee (April), Lauren Sweetser (Gail) and Tate Taylor (Satterfield).

Trivia: This film won the Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting award at this year’s Sundance Festival.

Predilection: This got rave reviews and won some top awards at festivals so I was curious.

Critters: Many, many critters including chicks, horses, cows, birds and squirrels who also appear in the food category.

Food: The abovementioned squirrels and venison stew.

Sex Spectrum: No sex, just drugs.

Soundtrack: Interesting musical selection by Dickon Hinchliffe.

Opening Titles: A solo voice introducing the gray scenery and just the title. All other credits are at the end.

Visual Art: The film appears to be in many shades of gray with little color nor anything that is pleasing to the eye.

Theater Audience: About 30 other people and us.

Weather: Wintry and gray.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: I did not like the dressing of the recently shot squirrel. Very squirmy indeed.

Drift Factor: I looked at my watch often.

Predictability Level: I did not care what happened to most of these people.;

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine.

Length: Under two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 5

Movie Review: The Oath May 10, 2010

Posted by judylobo in Film Awards, Movie Review Archives, Movie Reviews, Movie Trailer, Politics.
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Movie Review: The Oath

Alternate Title: The Caged Bird Sings

Story: Political junkies like me will find this latest documentary film directed by Laura Poitras delivering more questions than answers. Poitras started out making a film about the homecoming of Guantanamo detainee Salim Hamdan (see trivia category below) but ended up primarily filming his brother-in-law, the charismatic Abu Jandal. So what happened to the original story? Jandal’s story fell under the Kleig lights because he was a former bodyguard to Osama bin Laden, admitted to his involvement in jihad activities, knew all of the 9/11 hijackers, spent time in a Yemeni prison and is now a taxi driver in Yemen. Who could resist his story? Add to his resume the fact that he is camera friendly and Poitras’ film takes a turn.

We never get to actually see Salim Hamdan but have to be satisfied with an over voice reading some of his letters from Guantanamo. This story is both complex and incomplete. The many questions that are raised necessitates that we, the audience, do some heavy thinking about our Government’s action, detention, terrorists and the direction all of our lives are headed towards. It almost makes my head hurt. That said, if you are not afraid to think in a movie – you can handle the truth, can’t you?

Acting: This is a documentary so the acting category does not apply. However, Abu Jandal’s story has many question marks and I have decided that he might have been acting.

Trivia: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, (2006), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that military commissions set up by the Bush & Co. to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay lack the power to proceed because its structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949. Specifically, the ruling says that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions was violated. Director Laura Poitras won an Oscar for Best Documentary, Features in 2006 for: “P.O.V.: My Country, My Country”. She also shared the award with Kirsten Johnson for Best Cinematography at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival for The Oath.

Predilection: I like documentary films.

Critters: 0

Food: 0

Sex Spectrum: 0

Soundtrack: A surprisingly fine soundtrack with music by Osvaldo Golijov, sung by Dawn Upshaw.

Opening Titles: All credits at the end.

Visual Art: I was fascinated by the streets of Yemen – the colors, the sounds, the sights.

Theater Audience: One other guy and me.

Weather: Hot and sunny.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: Words of torture make me squirm.

Drift Factor: I did not drift at all.

Predictability Level: If you know the story of Hamdan you will not be in for many surprises however the story of Abu Jandal is another story.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine.

Length: 90 minutes

LOBO HOWLS: 7

Movie Review: The Wolfman February 13, 2010

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Movie Review: The Wolfman

Alternate Title: Bite Me

Story: Can a really awful movie also be entertaining? I will answer that question by saying – “Oh my, yes”! I admit that I am a big fan of the original Wolfman series with Lon Chaney, Jr. There was something heartbreaking and sad about Chaney’s version of the full moon monster. However, this version of the Wolfman by director Joe Johnston had me giggling instead of feeling empathy for the character. The film was written (if you can call it that) by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self and based on the screenplay by Curt Siodmak.

The good news is that the film has a beautiful and haunting atmosphere. There is lots of fog, umpteen full moons, gypsy curses (I love that) and scary things that go bump in the night. The CGI morphing of man into werewolf is very cool. The bad news is – just about everything else.

There is a semblance of a plot that is much like the original. It is 1891, England and Lawrence Talbot returns to his childhood home after his brother goes missing. The brother’s mutilated body is found and Talbot is determined to find out who or what did this the dastardly deed. There is a love interest that does some heavy lip biting and chest heaving. There is the Talbot father who gobbles up each scene like his old Hannibal Lector character. There are villagers with torches (I did like that part). The dialogue is preposterous. The music is over the top and the acting is cartoonish.

That said – it was worth a couple of laughs and a revisit to one of my favorite childhood monsters.

Here’s the 1941 Wolfman trailer:

Acting: Benicio Del Toro as the Wolfman aka Lawrence Talbot was all wrong for the part. Most of the time he seemed drugged. Anthony Hopkins as Sir John Talbot seemed to be having a good time. Emily Blunt as lip biting Gwen hopefully got a hefty paycheck for this role.

Trivia: Benicio Del Toro was offered the role of Reinaldo Arenas in Before Night Falls that eventually went to Javier Bardem (and aren’t we glad he turned it down). He is one of five Oscar winners – for Best Supporting Actor in Traffic – to play a character that spoke mostly in a foreign language. Most of his dialog was in Spanish. The other are Sophia Loren, Robert De Niro, Roberto Benigni and Marion Cotillard. He is the third Puerto Rican Actor to win an Academy Award. The other two were: Rita Moreno (West Side Story (1961)) and José Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)).

Predilection: I like the Wolfman – he howls in the night.

Critters: Horses, foxes, sheep and werewolves.

Food: No time to feast while looking for the beast.

Sex Spectrum: None

Soundtrack: Music by Danny Elfman was over the top as usual.

Opening Titles: A scary opening scene before the title of the film that involves the disappearance of brother Talbot.

Visual Art: Splendid production values.

Theater Audience: Pretty crowded for the first show of opening day. The majority of the audience were men. Possibly lycanthropics all.

Weather: Full moons abound and when it is not a full moon it is usually raining.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I drifted a bit.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine.

Length: 105 minutes

LOBO HOWLS: 5

Movie Review: The Girl on the Train (La fille du RER) February 10, 2010

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Movie Review: The Girl on the Train (La fille du RER)

Alternate Title: Truth and Consequences

Story: Sometimes knowing what a film is about beforehand doesn’t work out so well. I knew that this latest film directed by France’s André Téchiné and written by Mr. Téchiné, Odile Barski and Jean-Marie Besset was inspired by a true story that occurred in France in 2007 and was based on a play by Mr. Besset. The actual event that got France in a frenzy was a hoax perpetrated by a young girl who claimed that she was attacked due to anti-Semitism by a group of young men. She ultimately recanted but the damage was done.

I was surprised to find out that director Techine delivered two films in one. Part one (the longer part) introduces us to the young, restless, sullen Jeanne, who lives with her single mother, is unemployed and spends most of her time roller skating trough the streets of Paris. Pursued by a wannabe wrestler, she ultimately moves in with him, trouble ensues and she gets even more sullen.

It is never clear why she perpetrated the hoax that occurs two-thirds of the way through the film and we also do not get to witness the media frenzy that resulted in France because of this explosive topic.

A secondary, smaller story revolves around a Jewish, well to do family. The connections to this family are not very believable and actually threw me a curve.

That said, the film is interesting but not satisfying. We see beautiful people doing some strange things with their lives and at the end of the film, I simply didn’t care.

The real girl, Marie Leonie LeBlanc’s story is here.

Watch the young Emilie Dequenne in Rosetta from 1999.

Acting: Émilie Dequenne as Jeanne is striking and a powerful actor. I look forward to seeing her grow. Catherine Deneuve as her mother, Louise, never fails to deliver, even in this underplayed role. Michel Blanc as lawyer Samuel Bleistein was fine as was Ronit Elkabetz as Judith (you might remember her from The Band’s Visit) was also more than fine.

Trivia: Émilie Dequenne was one of over 40 female celebrities, activists, and politicians who read from Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” in Paris on March 31, 2003, during the “V-Day Paris: Stop a la Violence” event. Ronit Elkabetz was born in Beersheba 40 years ago and raised in Haifa, she now lives in Paris. Catherine Deneuve liked Breaking the Waves by Lars von Trier so much that she wrote a personal letter to him, asking him for a role in a film of his. The result of this is her part in Dancer in the Dark. Her son, Christian Vadim’ father is Roger Vadim. Her daughter, Chiara Mastroianni’s father is Marcello Mastroianni.

Predilection: None

Critters: A white fluffy dog. I was expecting to see more pets since it was filmed in dog loving Paris.

Food: Conversations around the table but little eating.

Sex Spectrum: It is a French film. There was dreamy, up close sex.

Blatant Product Placement: None

Soundtrack: Interesting

Opening Titles: A fast moving train is going through a dark tunnel.

Visual Art: Paris and its environs never fail to warm the eyes.

Theater Audience: Several people were complaining about the uncomfortable seats. I gave away the tip that the last row in this particular theater had the most comfy seats since the backs did not go back very far. All eight of us ended up in the back row but everyone left but one man and me when it was announced most of the people were in the wrong theater.

Weather: Paris is lovely in the springtime and summer.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 1

Drift Factor: I looked at my watch often.

Predictability Level: High since I knew the story.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine. You can also rent Rosetta, which introduced young Émilie Dequenne to the world.

Length: 105 minutes

LOBO HOWLS: 7


Movie Review: The Blind Side February 2, 2010

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Movie Review: The Blind Side

Alternate Title: Precious Lite

Story: I feel so used. This popular family release film of the year manipulated us, tore at our guts and had so many uplifting moments I could barely think straight. So what’s wrong with that, you say? Can’t we just laugh, cry and feel good? Yes we can. However, the obvious lack of nuance, the serial vignettes of one turning point after another gave me heartburn. It was simply too saccharine for me. I needed some areas of gray. I needed some characters that had more than one dimension. I needed some surprises.

The film was directed and written by John Lee Hancock and was based on the book, The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis. We all know the story by now, even if you did not see the film. Now famous NFL Ravens player, Michael Oher, was once out on the streets, out of luck and abandoned as a teenager, He was found, taken in and saved by the Touhy family of Memphis. More to the point, Leigh Anne Touhy. Mother Touhy knows what’s right for everyone – all of the time. She is portrayed as one feisty lady who gets her way all of the time.

Other than the obvious problems that go along with a rich, white, southern family taking a huge young black man into their homes – we get no real complications. How can that be? How can all of the inherent difficulties that lie within this scenario be glossed over and fixed by as little as a one liner or a knowing glance. Leigh Anne Touhy manages to give heartfelt comeuppances to her doubting friends, gives advice to the coaches and essentially tells everyone around her how to live their lives. I, while finding difficulty disliking the character, at times, wanted to shoot her.

That said – I am sure this film will be enjoyed by people for a long time. It has all of the elements for guaranteed fun, with as little real depth as possible. I wish that even half of the people who saw The Blind Side would go to see Precious.

I said to my sister as we were leaving the theater that if this were not a true story I would not believe it in a million years.

Watch the real Michael Oher:

Acting: Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy has already won a Golden Globe and a SAG award for this performance. Will she win an Oscar? I do not think she deserves it but she will probably get it. Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy was blander than bland. Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher did not move me at all. Kathy Bates as Miss Sue was the one ray of true light. Lily Collins as Collins Tuohy was the only teenage girl on the planet with no raging hormones. Jae Head as S J Tuohy got me annoyed after a few scenes.

Trivia: Director John Lee Hancock is the son of John Lee Hancock Sr., who won Baylor University letters in football in 1950 and 1951. Hancock’s brother Kevin also lettered four years as a 1981-1984 linebacker for the Bears.
John’s other brother Joe played football (center) at Vanderbilt University.

Predilection: I like to see films that have garnered awards (deserved or not).

Critters: Surprisingly none.

Food: Lots of food including a huge Thanksgiving meal.

Sex Spectrum: None

Blatant Product Placement: Taco Bell, Taco Bell and Taco Bell.

Soundtrack: Overly cloying

Opening Titles: An introduction of NFL footage of Lawrence Taylor sacking Joe Theismann and I then learned about the blind side as a sports term.

Visual Art: Everything on the right side of town was clean and pretty.

Theater Audience: This audience was filled with perhaps the last 20 people in Manhattan to see this film.

Sappy Factor: 3

Quirky Meter: 0

Drift Factor: I drifted quite a bit.

Predictability Level: Over the top

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No – but I will be wrong about this.

Big Screen or Rental: Either will do.

Length: Two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 6


Movie Review: The Book of Eli January 20, 2010

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Movie Review: The Book of Eli

Alternate Title: Man With a Mission

Story: After yesterday’s apocalyptic special Senate race in Massachusetts we decided that a film about a post-apocalyptic world seemed to fill the bill. We were not disappointed. This is a thoroughly engaging (if uneven) film directed by Allen Hughes and Albert Hughes and written by Gary Whitta.

It is 30 years in the future after a global disaster of unspecified origin. There are enough hints of what caused the nightmare to keep the story plausible.

A lone man, Eli, is walking across the country, searching for a safe place to deposit his Book, which he believes will save mankind. A tall order for anyone, but Eli is riveting, believable and determined. I went with it. Combine the visuals of a scorched Earth with elements of graphic novels, old fashioned Westerns, some fine action, interesting characters and you have yourself some good entertainment.

The Hughes brothers added just enough humor and touches of quirkiness to stem the overall tension in this very scary future world. The film does get a bit preachy, but it did not bother me since I took the film in as more of a graphic novel than a film with a big message (although I am sure they were trying to get a big message across).

Acting: Denzel Washington as Eli was mighty fine. Gary Oldman as the evil Carnegie was delicious and scene chewing. Mila Kunis as Solara was the weakest link in the chain. The supporting cast, including, Ray Stevenson (Redridge), Jennifer Beals (Claudia), Tom Waits (Engineer), Frances de la Tour (Martha) and Michael Gambon (George) were all more than fine.

Trivia: Directors Allen and Albert Hughes are twin brothers. Mila Kunis has two different colored eyes. Mila and her family moved from Ukraine to LA when she was 7. She learned to speak English from watching the “The New Price Is Right”. She said Bob Barker talked slow enough for her to understand him. She is engaged to Macaulay Culkin. They’ve been together since 2002.

Predilection: I like Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman.

Critters: Oh dear. Cats do not fare well in this film. The opening sequence features a cat being hunted and shot with an arrow. There is a cameo appearance by a very sweet rat.

Food: Not plentiful.

Blatant Product Placement: Old worn signs of Busch and Puma. Cannot believe they paid for that but you never know.

Soundtrack: Haunting.

Opening Titles: All title are at the end.

Visual Art: Director of photography, Don Burgess does a fabulous job of depicting what the scorched Earth might look like after a global disaster. The film is desaturated of color and while this technique has been used before it works very well here.

Theater Audience: About 15 other post-apocalyptic fans.

Weather: Scorched earth is not petty.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: There are a few fight scenes that are a but squirmy.

Drift Factor: I paid attention throughout.

Predictability Level: There were a few surprises.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Probably not.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure.

Length: Two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 8

Movie Review: Police, Adjective January 3, 2010

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Movie Review: Police, Adjective

Alternate Title: Boring, Adjective

Story: A movie is supposed to move. This film was very much like watching grass grow. Yes, we all know that much of real life police work is drudgery, procedural paperwork and long hours. However, that reality doth not make for good cinema. This exercise in viewer patience was produced, written and directed by one of Romania’s most famous New Wave personalities, Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest).

For much of the film we get to watch policeman Cristi tail his suspect – a high school kid who is suspected of dealing hashish. Problem is, after eight days, Cristi cannot find evidence, other than a few cigarette butts of widespread malfeasance and he does not want to send a high school kid to prison for seven years for a crime that Cristi is sure will be legalized soon – in line with how the rest of Europe treats recreational drug use.

Long stretches of the film involve no dialogue. Instead, we watch Cristi watch the kid, watch the kid’s house, watch the kid’s friends and watch the kid’s family cars. There is an occasional foray into discussions of grammar with his wife and a long scene towards the finale that involves a dictionary. It was at this point that I said I should leave the theater but it was so cold outside I decided to stay and watch the rest of the film. I know this is supposed to be an intellectual exercise but I am giving it an F.

Acting: Dragos Bucur as Cristi, Vlad Ivanov as Anghelache, Irina Saulescu as Anca), Ion Stoica as Nelu, Marian Ghenea as the Prosecutor and Cosmin Selesi as Costi somehow all managed to keep a straight face during the filming of this movie.

Trivia: Director Corneliu Porumboiu won the Jury Prize at Cannes for this film. Romania entered this film as it’s one official entry into this year’s Academy Award race.

Predilection: None

Critters: Street dogs

Food: Chicken noodle soup, bread and goulash.

Sex Spectrum: If only…

Soundtrack: I cannot remember anything about a soundtrack. I might have gone into an altered state at some point while watching this film.

Visual Art: This town somewhere in Romania is very gray, bland and very definitely still has the flavor of the eastern Bloc of Communist Romania.

Theater Audience: Three other somewhat conscious people.

Weather: Gray, cold and misty.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: Drifting does not adequately described my mental state.

Predictability Level: I could not care less what happened.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Neither

Length: Thankfully under two hours but felt longer.

LOBO HOWLS: 3

Lobo’s Howls & Growls – Best & Worst Films of 2009 December 29, 2009

Posted by judylobo in Film Awards, Movie Review Archives, Movie Reviews, Photography.
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It turned out to be a good year for film. As usual, I get the most comments from you when I get stuck seeing a bad apple or as they say, a rotten tomato.  Truth be told – it is more fun to write a stinker of a review than a glowing review.  I will be seeing a few more films before the end of the year, but chances are they will not make either list.

Should you want to see the entire 2009 list go to my website and look at the column on the left.  Or, you can go to Rotten Tomatoes website  where they have  my reviews listed in alphabetical order.

If you did not pick up your holiday greeting card from my house to yours, please check it out here. Without further ado here is the list of the Best and the Worst of 2009.

Best Films of 2009Lobo Howls –
1. Crazy Heart (9.25 Howls)
2. A Serious Man (9 Howls)
3. An Education (9 Howls)
4. Bliss (9 Howls)
5. Bright Star (9 Howls)
6. The Cove (9 Howls)
7. Herb and Dorothy (9 Howls)
8. Hurt Locker (9 Howls)

9. Inglourious Basterds (9 Howls)

10. Precious (9 Howls)

11. The Road (9 Howl)

12. The Young Victoria (9 Howls)

Worst Films of 2009Lobo’s Growls –
11. Easy Virtue (4 Howls)
10. Law Abiding Citizen (4 Howls)
9. Lorna’s Silence (4 Howls)
8. Angels and Demons (3 Howls)
7. The Men Who Stare at Goats (3 Howls)
6. Local Color (3 Howls)
5. Cheri (3 Howls)
4. Away We Go (3 Howls)

3. Police, adjective (3 Holws)
2. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (3 Howls)
1. Bruno (0 Howls)

Movie Review: Up In the Air December 8, 2009

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Movie Review: Up In the Air

Alternate Title: Fly By Night

Story: George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, is sleek, slick, detached and noncommittal. Depending on your own lifestyle he could ether be a character that garners your sympathy or sows seeds of avid jealousy. His character works for a company that is hired by corporations to fire people. He swoops in, does the dastardly task and moves on to the next city. He travels most of the time, sits in in front of the plane and has loyalty cards to big, fancy hotels that allows him access to the front of the check-in lines and all of the other perks that frequent travelers accrue. The film was crisply directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno) and written by Mr. Reitman and Sheldon Turner. It is based on the novel by Walter Kirn.

Bingham’s life is turned upside down when a young woman, hired by his firm, comes up with a cost saving way to do their job. It entails the use of teleconferencing technology to fire people. They hit the road together so he can show her how it is really done. This road trip allows the romance, satire and comic relief that a film with an underlying premise of sadness needs.

The film focus’ of course on the main characters. However, a day later, I am fixated on all of the people that were shown being fired by Bingham. Reitman hired some non-professionals to tell their stories. It was current, emotional and sad.

Will Ryan Bingham ever settle down? Does his impermanence define him? The film grows on you as it develops and is well worth your time.

Acting: George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, hits the mark. He is eye candy for all. Vera Farmiga as love interest Alex has a nice chemistry with Clooney. Anna Kendrick as young Natalie Keener is terrific. The supporting cast is perfect too including the always great J. K. Simmons (Bob), Danny McBride (Jim Miller), Jason Bateman (Craig Gregory), Melanie Lynskey (Julie Bingham), Amy Morton (Kara Bingham), Sam Elliott (Maynard Finch), Zach Galifianakis (Steve) and Chris Lowell (Kevin).

Trivia: Jason Reitman is the son of director Ivan Reitman. Anna Kendrick was nominated for Broadway’s 1998 Tony Award as Best Actress (Featured Role – Musical) for “High Society.” She was the second youngest nominee (after 1991’s Tony winner in the same category, Daisy Eagan) in Tony history. Vera Farmiga grew up in a Ukranian-speaking enclave in New Jersey and did not speak English until she was six. George Clooney says he will never get married again, nor have any children, but Michelle Pfeiffer and Nicole Kidman both bet $10,000 each that he would be a father before he turned 40. They were both wrong, and each sent him a check. He returned the money, betting double or nothing that he won’t have kids by age 50. He will be 50 in 2011.

Predilection: I like George Clooney

Critters: None

Sex Spectrum: There is some discussion of the Mile High Club and a scene of ‘after sex’ but nothing to be seen on the big screen.

Blatant Product Placement: American Airlines (not on my favorite list of airlines) must have paid a small fortune for this blatant product placement. We also get to see many Hiltons, a Hampton Inns and Hertz.

Soundtrack: Fun mix.

Opening Titles: The opening credits, with ‘This Land is Your Land’ in the background include a photo montage of those generic landscapes one sees from 35,000 feet as they fly across country.

Visual Art: Bingham’s one room apartment in Omaha has absolutely no personal touches since he lives in hotels for most of the year.

Theater Audience: There was one other guy in the secret balcony with us. I did hear laughter coming from downstairs.

Weather: It snows in many of the cities where American Airlines flies and where people are getting fired.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: It is squirmy to see people being fired.

Drift Factor: It could have used a bit of editing in the middle.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No – but it would not surprise me if there were some nominations anyway.

Big Screen or Rental: Either would do – but I like looking at George Clooney on the big screen.

Length: Under two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 7.5