Disturbia

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Disturbia (C). I do not remember Rear Window very well, having seen it only once a long time ago. But I remember it well enough to know it was a lot better than this remake. (Is this movie considered a remake?) Shia LaBeouf (Transformers) plays Kale Brecht, a troubled youth whose indiscretions (like slugging his Spanish teacher) land him in house arrest for the summer. He starts watching his neighbors, who just happen to include the lovely Ashley (Sarah Roemer, The Grudge 2) and a guy who may be a serial killer. Ashley doesn’t mind that Kale spies on her when she goes swimming, and as a reward he sends his dorky best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo, Rocket Science) to go break into the maybe-murderer’s house instead of Ashley. Oh, and Trinity from The Matrix is Kale’s mom (Carrie-Anne Moss, Pompeii). Humdrum.

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2 Days in Paris

New review from The Movie Snob

2 Days in Paris (C). I thought French actress Julie Delpy was cute enough in those movies with Ethan Hawke, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Here she not only stars but writes and directs. And her parents play her character’s parents. Perhaps a little outside assistance would have been a good thing. Anyway, Delpy plays Marion, a 35-year-old photographer living in New York, and the hirsute Adam Goldberg (Zodiac) plays her boyfriend Jack. They’ve been together for two years, but this is the first time she has taken him to Paris to meet her parents and sister. For a while it’s not a bad little movie, very conversational, like her movies with Hawke. Then it turns all melodramatic, as Marion seems to have a past with every Parisian guy they run into. It’s okay, nothing special.

Evan Almighty

New review from The Movie Snob

Evan Almighty (B). I didn’t hear such great things about this movie, so I waited until it got to the dollar theater to see it. (Which, by the way, now costs $1.75.) I was pleasantly surprised, perhaps because my expectations were so low, or perhaps because Steve Carell (The Way Way Back) and Morgan Freeman (Batman Begins) lift the quality of any movie they appear in. It’s not really a comedy, even though there are some funny parts, but it’s more like a modern-day fairy tale. Carell plays Evan Baxter, a newly elected congressman who ran on the slogan “Change the World” and is naive enough to mean it. But his plans are derailed when God (Freeman) appears to him and directs him to build an ark. He resists, but God is not easily denied, especially since He can give you Old-Testament-prophet style hair and wardrobe any time He wants. The lovely Lauren Graham (Bad Santa) provides suffering and support as Baxter’s wife. I enjoyed it.

The Lives of Others

DVD review from Nick at Nite.

The Lives of Others

I finally saw this because two of my friends said, “it is the best movie of the year.” Frankly, my friends are smarter and more sophisticated than me, because I would not call this the best movie of the year. I get it, I get it. This is a story about how hard it was for folks having to live in secrecy. It is about how some folks working for the government listened in on ordinary folks, how nothing was private and how everyone was always on edge. No, no, this is not about George Bush and his treatment of ordinary citizens living in America. This is about the East Germans and their treatment of playwrights and other trouble makers living behind the iron curtain. I am not going to give away much of the plot – because it is a very good story. If I based my critique just on the story, acting, and moviemaking, it might prove to be one of the best movies of the year. I will tell you why I was not too keen on the movie and it is embarrassing. I didn’t like the fact that it was in German. I found the German to be a little grating. I know. It needs to be and should be in German. It was set in Germany. It makes the story more believable. It makes the story seem more real. I am totally embarrassed about my critique and feel like an ethnocentric idiot. Also, I cannot seem to square this with my great admiration for Das Boot and Run Lola, Run . . . except that there was so much action in Das Boot and Run Lola, Run that the language did not seem to get in the way. What I have decided is that French, Spanish, and Italian (the romance languages) are a little easier on the ear. Thus, explaining why I think Pan’s Labyrinth was the best foreign film last year. I give The Lives of Others an “A” if you speak German and I give it a “B” if you prefer the romance languages.

Vacancy

Nick at Nite knows horror.

Vacancy

Luke Wilson (The Skeleton Twins) and that girl from the Underworld movies star in this under-budgeted, boring, low-rent horror film. Honestly, I am not sure that I understand to whom this movie is intended to appeal. It is not a slasher movie. It is not a suspenseful movie. It is not a scary movie. I think it is intended to be one of these, but it ends up being none of them. Basically, our unhappily married couple ends up with car trouble in the middle of the deserted backwoods in some unidentified state. They end up staying at a very creepy, very dirty, uninhabited hotel. Once in their room, weird things happen. Someone knocks on the door, yet when they open the door, no one is there. Someone calls on the phone, yet when the answer the phone, no one is there. They try to go to sleep and decide to pop in a video tape they found in the room “to help them sleep.” Turns out the video is of a murder that happened in the very room they are in. Then, they must escape. Bored? So was I. Don’t watch this movie. If you want something suspenseful, go see a Hitchcock film. If you want something gory, go see a George Romero flick. If you want a slasher flick, try Hellraiser. This just doesn’t cut it. I give it a “C.”

December Boys

New from The Movie Snob

December Boys (B-). My cousin dragged me to this little movie starring Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame. It’s set in Australia in the 1960’s. Four orphans at a boys’ orphanage run by nuns get to take a holiday at a seaside village. They stay with a kindly older married couple. The oldest (Radcliffe) discovers girls, or at least one girl named Lucy (Teresa Palmer, Warm Bodies). The other three are caught up in the possibility that a young childless couple in the village might adopt one of them. It’s a pleasant enough little movie, although my cousin was outraged by a theological atrocity committed at the very end.

In the Shadow of the Moon

New review from The Movie Snob

In the Shadow of the Moon (A). This is an excellent new documentary about the Apollo astronauts, still the only men ever to have walked on the moon. There are lots of clips from recent interviews with the astronauts, along with tons of NASA footage, much of it apparently never seen before. I was only 1 year old when Apollo 11 made the first moon landing, but I was still moved by the courage of the astronauts and the adulation the world poured on them after their feats. Notably absent — any new footage of Neil Armstrong, who has apparently become weird and reclusive since the historic flight. But this is still a fine movie for people who have any interest at all in this sort of thing.