Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti

"One man's extraordinary fight to save the family he loved."

James J. Braddock

Probably still inspired by the euphoric win of Manny Pacquiao over Erik Morales, I picked out this movie from the rental shop despite my aversion towards boxing. So I'm glad it didn't disappoint me at all. The story of a down on his luck boxer during the Depression era in America is truly inspirational. Everything is authentically portrayed from the wardrobe, the vehicles to the squalid living conditions during that harsh period in America's history. We witness how Braddock and his family fall on hard times after he lost all of his earnings in the plunge of the stock market. His struggle to get job shifts at the shipward. His complete devotion to his family with his wife supporting his aspirations as a boxer.
The first part of the movie is a bit dragging, since it focuses on his life outside the boxing ring. But once he is given a second chance to prove himself, the pace picks up and gets really exciting. All his fighting matches are well executed and you can't help but root for him.
Russell Crowe is perfect for this role. His rugged yet sensitive portrayal of James Braddock projects well on screen. Renee Zellweger doesn't do much but smile and pout her lips. But Paul Giamatti as Braddock's manager/handler was excellent. He is one of the most underrated actors we have around. Ron Howard's direction is flawless. It just might be one of the best boxing movies I've seen so far.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Monica Bellucci, Thomas Jane

"Everyone has secrets. Some of them are crimes."

A movie with two of the best actors around, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman. The former is a tax attorney being interrogated as a suspect for the murder of 2 young girls while Freeman is the detective heading the investigation. We are drawn into an intricate tale of how one man's life unravels as he tries to prove his innocence. So due to incriminating evidence, we witness how the suspect slowly succumbs and further buries himself deep under a quadmire of suspicion. His own wife who is woodenly portrayed by Monica Bellucci just makes the whole matter worse. It just gets to the point that we all believe he is indeed guilty. So the surprising twist towards the end just leaves you completely baffled. More questions are raised, no clear answers are provided. So if you are not into movies that leave you puzzled instead of feeding you with a 'happy ending', then don't watch this film. But there are 2 reasons you'll enjoy this one - Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman! Enough said!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, Maggie Gyllenhaal

"Ever get the feeling you are being played?"


A film about con artists. John C. Reilly is the 'criminal' who tricks people without actually pickpocketing or robbing them, neither does he use any weapon or violence to deceive them. I won't reveal what tricks he pulls through, you need to see it to believe it. He chances upon a young Mexican guy who got caught doing his own scam and rescues him posing as a detective with the LAPD. Soon enough, he hires Rodrigo as his partner and together they hit the streets conning people. They stumble upon a deal which entails them to sell a counterfeit bank note to a rich collector. A lot of people try to get their own cut from the money, twists and turns abound, he even got his younger siblings involved in some inheritance law suit.
The movie is based on an Argentinian film called "Nine Queens" and since I've never even heard of it let alone seen it, I have no basis for comparison. But "Criminal" was pretty fast paced, snappy and it sustains your attention till the end. The 'scam' wasn't as complicated as in the Ed Burns starrer "Confidence", also a grifters movie. In the end, the twist unfolds and it seems the conman was set up and everybody is happy although I think there wasn't exactly any money to be had. So be it. It was kind of like "The Matchstick Men" but it has its own characteristic flair. The 3 main actors all deliver believable performances. John C. Reilly is as always good in an under rated way. I thought that Diego Luna looked familiar and now I know why. He was the guy with Gael Garcia Bernal in "Et tu Mama Tambien". Except here he speaks English and this role seems tailored made for him!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Anjelica Huston, Alan Alda, Sam Waterston, Joanna Gleason, Claire Bloom, Jerry Orbach

"A film about humanity"

Classic Woody Allen renditionThe beauty of a Woody Allen film lies in its easy flowing delivery of the dialogue. Something which can only be achieved by having a good ensemble cast. So this movie doesn't disappoint in those aspects. It is about an ophthalmologist who hires his brother to take care of a messy little affair that threatens to implode and ruin his successful life. On the other spectrum, you have an irrelevant film maker stuck in a failing marriage who contemplates committing adultery. Both of them don't really know each other yet they move in the same circle of people. Woody Allen's character favorite pasttime is to watch old black and white movies with his niece. So you have short clips of actual footage of these movies throughout the entire film. Then you also get some insights on love and life in general from a professor whom the film maker was hoping to base his new film on but tragedy strikes when said professor commits suicide. Interesting bunch of characters, all well fleshed out by good actors such as Martin Landau and Alan Alda.
I just love how neurotically insecure Woody Allen's characters are. So much angst and hang ups all the time, it's brilliant. I just wish they produce more movies like this, nowadays. No violence, no sex, no computer graphics ... Just relying on witty dialogue and a good plot to grab our attention. Is that too much to ask for?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Jennifer Aniston, Mark Ruffalo, Kevin Costner, Shirley Maclaine, Mena Suvari, Richard Jenkins

"Based on a true rumor."

Cinema 3, Edsa Shangri-la Plaza


Silly me, I always keep forgetting to bring a sweater or something whenever I watched at the Shangri-la cinemas, it is freezing inside. Anyways now about the film. It is a light romantic comedy with an good cast, its whole premise based on a rumor. The main character's grandmother, portrayed brilliantly by Shirley Maclaine is supposedly the real Mrs Robinson from that famed movie, "The Graduate". Yes, I've seen the Graduate and yes I remember loving it. But this was a pretty weak premise to begin with. Some woman running off to find 'the graduate' with the remote possibility that he is her father, finds out he isn't then ends up in bed with him?! But no worries, I wasn't really in the mood for some angst ridden drama so I just watched it with no qualms whatsoever. Just shivering here and there from the aircon. Jennifer Aniston was endearing as Polly in "Along came Polly" but in this movie, it seems she was trying too hard. She has lost a considerable amount of weight therefore she looked haggard. Poor girl had just ended her marriage so it is understandable. Kevin Costner well I don't know I never found him appealing so that's that. Shirley Maclaine was a delight to watch. Mark Ruffalo is pure eye candy even though he has visibly aged since I last saw him on "13 going on 30". The best line in the movie is when she tells her dad "you drive so slow". He answers back "I only drive slow because you are in the car" Awwwwww that made my heart skip a beat.
But the really funny part is after the movie when I was at the toilets, I overhead 2 young girls (ok so she must have been around 24) talking. One asked "Hmmm so what was the rumor? I don't get it" The other replies "I don't know ,come to think about it I don't get it either" Hahahahaha. Hilarious really. I swear that sounded like a blond moment but they weren't even blonde just young perhaps? Maybe they never even heard of "The Graduate". Oh well!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Sarah Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, Claire Danes

"Feel the love"

Edsa Shangri-la, Cinema 3

The Family StoneI guess there is nothing more stressful than going to meet your boyfriend's whole family for the holidays. Then it turns out they all hate you with a vengeance despite you trying your darnest best to impress them and fit in. As if that isn't bad enough, when your younger sister comes to visit, they all like her more than you. Geeez! Total Nightmare, I tell you! So I was more sympathetic towards Sarah Jessica Parker's character in this movie. She was a guest in their house and they treated her like crap. Oh man, whatsup with that?! Other than that, I cried my heart out throughout the movie. Something about knowing your mother won't make it through another year and that you are celebrating your last Christmas together is so heart wrenchingly sad! My tears just flowed like a river.
But it was a nice holiday movie with a good ensemble cast. I admit I really hated Rachel McAdams in this movie, she was so mean. But otherwise all of them contributed well to make it a pleasant little film. And all that snow wow I really miss winter so much. But most of all, I miss celebrating White Christmases!


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