Critic's Corner

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What I've been doing

I have been watching movies but my classes have kept me pretty busy. I have made a point of seeing at least one movie a week, and have done well since the first of the year. But I just don't have the time to keep up with my blog the way I should be. One class in particular is keeping me extremely busy. Unfortunately, my blog has to suffer.

Here is a paper I wrote for one of my classes. Just in case you want to see what I've been up to.

I have a tendency to see things in black and white. I’m not talking about race or hues, nor do I mean to say “monochrome.” The fact is that I see things in extremes. If you’re not hot, you’re cold. If you’re not nice, you’re mean. When it comes to life, “indifferent” and “comfortable” are rare words in my vocabulary. My therapist says I should try to retrain my thinking pattern, but hey… that’s how he’s able to justify the bill he sends to the insurance company every month, so I don’t hear him complaining.

I think the same way when it comes to politics. If you’re not for something, you’re against it. “Undecided,” in my mind, simply implies ignorance or apathy. Yes, I am ignorant to a whole lot of what happens in politics today. This is why I am currently not affiliated with any party. Political Parties have a propensity to pigeonhole people. (There’s some alliteration for you; say that ten times fast.) I do not like to be pigeonholed.

Some may argue that “no party affiliation” is a pigeonhole within itself, and I won’t disagree. But as Woody Allen famously said in Annie Hall, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member."

Coming from a background of seeing in black and white and “undecided” indicating ignorance, I decided to learn a little more about politics, what with the upcoming presidential election and all. So when I was tasked with the assignment to interview two people on the topic of my choice, I (being an overachiever) decided to interview three. In fact, I chose the three professors who spoke at our student debate a few weeks ago.

John Scolaro, Democrat and Professor of Humanities, Jack Chambless, Libertarian and Professor of Economics, and Bill Symolon, Republican and Professor of US Government were my targets. I had a specific group of questions to ask each interviewee, and my pen and paper ready to go. But when it came down to it, I was more involved in experiencing what these gentlemen have in their minds than writing it down on paper.

In all three interviews, one thing was made abundantly clear. When it comes to politics, what concerns you most determines how you vote. Whether it is taxes, immigration reform, or the war in Iraq, you will choose the candidate with the most similar platform to the action you wish to be taken, regardless of the rest of the candidate’s platform.

The first interview was with Professor John Scolaro. A casual conversation, unstructured and yielding, we chatted for a while, getting to know each other before we started with the actual interview. One thing was made abundantly clear. His biggest concern for the platform for the next president is health care. This is why he strongly supports Senator Clinton; he believes that Hilary’s Universal Healthcare is what this country needs most. With 47 million people uninsured, I can see why. Scolaro comes from a background of living in a place that had universal health care, and he has seen first-hand how it works. He believes that it could work here as well. His argument was very convincing.

Jack Chambless, in our telephone interview, had a different perspective. Libertarians are looking for someone to let us live our own lives. It surprises me that, with the narcissistic reputation we have, this party doesn’t have a larger following. The Libertarian principle is: “Let us do our own thing, as long as we’re not hurting anyone.” Their motto is “Smaller Government, Lower Taxes, More Freedom.” If you’re concerned about the economy and keeping the money you make, the Libertarian party may be for you.

However, being registered Libertarian, Independent, or no party affiliation has its pitfalls, like not being able to vote in the primaries. Some believe that their voice will not be heard. Jack Chambless explained that it is typical of a two- party system to produce a system which does not recognize those who do not agree with it. I can see his point.

The final interview with Bill Symolon was both fascinating and informative. Bill was my POS 2041 professor four years ago when George W Bush was running for re-election. A retired Marine, Bill is a Republican with very strong feelings regarding the War in Iraq. He does not believe that we should leave until we are done. Therefore, John McCain is his man. Bill also explained quite a few things that I was confused about, like how the Republican Party benefits the middle class by letting them keep their tax dollars and not give them up for platforms that support welfare systems.

The bottom line is that I still don’t know where I stand when it comes to November’s vote, but the more informed I become, the easier it will be to make my choice. The biggest question now is: what means the most to me?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Myriad of Movies

Just a quick overview of a few movies for all of you, with 5 *’s being the highest:

Bobby **1/2 - Not horrible. Not amazing. The cast was pretty impressive, and I guess if I remembered that day, I may have appreciated this film a bit more. It is one of Sharon Stone’s best performances, albeit a small role. Just a pretty good movie.

Derailed ****- Unbelievable. I loved this movie. It was suspenseful, edge of your seat, something new around every corner. Although I have to say I wasn’t totally blown away with the reveal, it was still very well done. I liked this film so much that I immediately started reading the book when it was over. Great movie.

The Good Shepherd *1/2 - Meh. Matt Damon aside, this character was just a two-dimensional character that didn’t warrant a whole lot of sympathy, which is what I believe the producers wanted us to give. It was really nothing special, just like Angelina Jolie. It was a decent movie, but I don’t see myself watching it again.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix **** - Woo hoo!!! I LOVE Harry Potter, and this film was NO exception. Awesome effects, great plot, true to the books… everything Harry Potter never fails to impress.

Little Children ***1/2- I wasn’t totally sold on this movie when I first saw it but it gets under your skin and you can’t stop thinking about it. It was a really good movie and I was very impressed with Kate Winslet’s ability to shed the British accent. This is definitely worth the rental.

The Woodsman **1/2 - Interesting movie with a very interesting premise. My friend’s husband said “It’s not often that you see a movie where the protagonist is a pedophile.” Indeed. It was a good movie. If you can get over the creepy crawly feeling of watching this pedophile, it’s worth the rental. Still, I think I’d rather see “Little Children” again.

Once Upon a Time in the West ***1/2- An AFI Top 100 New Addition. This was a very good movie once I got everyone straight in my head. There were a lot of people in the film that at first I couldn’t tell apart, but after watching the film for a bit, I started to understand it. It was a very good movie.

The Last Picture Show ***1/2- This is another one of the AFI new additions. It was also very good. I’m sure that had I been watching it from a student’s point of view, I would have more to say about it. But it was a good movie that I would see again.

Dark Water ***- This movie was pretty good. It was interesting enough to keep my attention, and it is not the worst film I’ve ever seen. Pete Postlethwaite was appropriately creepy, and it had an air of “The Ring” about it, but not as frightening. But it was a pretty good movie.

Next time I will talk about the Bourne Trilogy. I have to get out to see Ultimatum and I’ll get back to you all.

Super Bad



This was one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. It was also one of the raunchiest. I swear, every other word was "cock." It was hilarious.

I was never one of those kids that caused all kinds of trouble in high school. Living in the home I grew up in, it wasn't exactly acceptable behavior. That didn't stop me from appreciating this movie, though. I am a fan of Arrested Development and Michael Cera didn't really sway from the George Michael character, had GM been allowed to have friends other than his father.

I just have to say, though... parents, please do not take your young child to this movie. About 1/2 way through this movie, which was making me blush (check out the quotes page on IMDB... it's pretty indicative of the language used in the film some lady brought in her 4 kids. I could tell that they were theater hopping and was half tempted to say something. Her oldest kid couldn't have been more than 11. This is NOT a movie for children!!!

It's a fantastic movie for adults. You should see it. But leave the kids at home!

Monday, July 09, 2007

4 Movies in one day

I spent the entire fourth of July at the movies.
Here are some brief reviews:

This movie was very creepy- and had Stephen King all over it! From the walls bleeding (in the fashion of The Shining) to the camera on a circular dolly around John Cusack’s and Samuel L Jackson’s first encounter (a la Carrie), there were telltale signs of the horror master’s craft. What a tale! The ever cynical Cusack is set out to debunk the horror mysteries of haunted hotel rooms. Never having seen a ghost before, he is skeptical to say the least. However, when he enters 1408 (on the 13th floor- since there is no 13th floor, and 1+4+0+8 = 13) he goes in with a cynical demeanor, but what happens in the room causes him to reconstruct his beliefs. The walls change, the thermostat goes up and down, windows slam shut, people who are not there appear out of nowhere; everything about the room is evil. Add to that the open wounds of losing a daughter to illness, and you have a roller-coaster ride of asking “what is real?” and “what is hallucination?” The most interesting part is when Cusack’s character sees his father. His father says “As I was, you are; as I am, you will be.” It really makes you wonder- it doesn’t say whether his father is dead or crazy, but he is clearly institutionalized in the vision. It leaves you wondering if the character will die or go crazy or… you make the call. This is definitely a film to check out, folks.

Evan Almighty
This movie is a good movie to take the kids to see. I believe that they may have thrown in a “hell” or “damn” or “piss” for rating values (since a rating of PG is the kiss of death, but a PG 13 gives a movie a better shot) but if you can allow your kids to see that, you will probably find it worth your while. Steve Carrell reprises his role as Evan from the Bruce Almighty film, but we see more “Michael Scott” and “Andy the 40 Year Old Virgin” than Evan. Wanda Sykes is not given a lot to work with, but it’s fun to watch and see not only the animals, but how many of “The Office” characters you can find in the crowd. The CGI of the flood was terrible, but at least they used the real animals instead of CGI animals. The flood was really nothing impressive either, and nobody is killed, keeping in the true spirit of “Family” movies. But it is a pretty good movie.

Knocked Up
This movie is NOT for the kids!!!!!!! It is filled with raunchy sophomoric humor, sidesplitting hilarious one-liners, and it actually shows the baby crowning towards the end of the movie. But it is so very funny. I thought that maybe they would be pushing the envelope with a two hour and fifteen minute comedy, but it has so many very funny scenes, you hardly notice the time passing by. This movie trumps so many other comedies which have done so much better- it is better than ALL of the American Pie movies on all levels- it is funnier, raunchier, and better in so many ways. SEE THIS MOVIE!

This was a pretty good movie. It was no “Finding Nemo” but it was still cute. It follows the typical animated format- the underdog who dreams of better things, the unsupportive family, the hero who has to break away to achieve his destiny and the one who helps him do so. The characters were as well defined as any cartoon, but what was interesting about this particular one was the fact that the rats speak English to each other, as do the humans (while living in Paris, which was a little confusing.) But when the rats speak to the humans, the humans only hear squeaking. That was an interesting touch. It’s a cute movie for the family.

Coming next time:

The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Supremacy
The Good Shepherd
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Woodsman

And coming soon:
The Bourne Ultimatum
A Mighty Heart
V for Vendetta

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I Promise

After running into my former English professor this morning, I realized that I've been neglectful! With July just around the corner and the summer quickly coming to an end for those of us taking classes at University, I now realize that, despite my promises to see more films, I have been slacking on my film reviews. I am determined to rectify this situation. Besides... I had better get used to writing. My classes next semester are "Creative Writing for English Majors" and "Professional Writing for Undergraduates".

Movies I will see and review over the next two months

(I promise)

In Theaters:
Mighty Wind
Ratatouille (opens Friday)
Evan Almighty
Knocked Up
The Bourne Ultimatum (Opens 3 August 2007)
Harry Potter (you bet your sweet patootie!)
Sicko (despite the fact that Michael Moore is a headline whore)
Superbad (opens 17 August 2007)

The Good Shepherd
The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Supremacy

That will keep me busy.

Friday, May 11, 2007


If you have ever been a waiter/waitress, you will like this movie.
If you love Empire Records, you will like this movie.

If both of the above statements pertain to you, you will really like this movie.

Waiting is the film about a bunch of people who work at a "Fridays" like restaurant, and it's actually pretty funny. It is quite raunchy, so I wouldn't suggest letting the kids watch it, mostly because they wouldn't get it and would start imitating it, which is more than likely something parents won't appreciate.

But if you want a good laugh and are open to watching what I have deemed "Empire Records in a Restaurant", I would recommend it. It's worth the rental.

Night At The Museum

Well this one was a big let down.

I like Ben Stiller, but this was just too stupid. I can see how it would be popular for a family movie since there is nothing raunchy about it or anything like that but i was just candy coated crap. It was the same old special effects that hollywood has been using since Jumanji and it was equally as unimpressive.

If you have some kids, it may be a wise rental, but wait until it's real cheap before you buy it... It's definitely not worth the $20 they're charging at the stores unless your kids really like it.

But if you don't have kids, don't bother.

Sunday, April 15, 2007



I've heard all of the hype about this (double) film. I have also heard that Tarantino's film was sooo much better than Rodriguez's... I don't agree at all. And I am not a fan of Zombie movies. Rodriguez's film was clever, funny, and (although I am NOT a fan of gore either) it was completely gory. The scene with Tarantino's dick made me sick but I couldn't stop laughing. It was so over the top. I really really liked it.

As far as Tarantino's movie- I love Tarantino. He is the king of resurrecting careers, first with Sean Penn in reservior Dogs, then John Travolta, then both Pam Grier and Robert Forrester, and then David Carradine, and finally, Kurt Russell. But what is the damn hype about Rosario Dawson? I don't think she's anything but pretty. The talent is lacking, and in fact, when I saw her in Sin City, which I really enjoyed, I still didn't think there was no way she couldn't be replaced.

I really liked the car chase scenes, and almost cheered when the first "accident" happened... simply because those girls were really pissing me the hell off.

I guess I am not a feminist if feminism means I enjoy hearing women sitting around telling stupid stories to each other, walking around acting like they can get any man in the world, and having some sense of entitlement which has no root whatsoever. A bunch of fucking spoiled rotten brats who think that the world revolves around them- what the hell? I actually sat in the theater and said "get on with it... i'm bored!!"

I guess if I had to use 3 words to describe Grindhouse, I would say "I expected more."

Friday, January 05, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

I know that it has been quite a while since I wrote a rave review, so I wanted to reassure all of the readers in cyber-land that I do still enjoy a good movie.

Recently, I received a copy of Little Miss Sunshine as a gift. I watched it and, while I was thoroughly interested in the storyline, it didn't strike me as the wonderful film everyone was raving about. However... when I watched it again a second time, I loved it. Upon initial viewing, I followed the storyline and could appreciate the story for what it was. The second time, knowing what was going to happen, I was able to allow myself to become more involved in the script. There were moments where I was laughing so much I couldn't stop. Alan Arkin's character "Grandpa" was just hilarious. Some of his lines were delivered so perfectly, like " I had second degree burns on my johnson, I kid you not." He had me laughing so hard!

Paul Dano and Steve Carell were both just wonderful. Carell was vulnerable and sarcastic and just bloomed in this film. Dano had very few lines, a character trait, but when he finally does speak, it's like the chief in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"- an event in and of itself. Both started out so depressed and the viewer was almost pulled out of their depressions at the same time they were. They had a wonderful little bonding moment which summarizes life in a nutshell. The writing was brilliant.

The beauty pageant scene was similar to "Best In Show"; however, while it did not focus on the obsessive nature of the parents, the contrast between Olive and the other girls in the competition spoke volumes about the preparation and torture that parents put these little girls through. And who's better to officiate the contest than Donnie Darko's Beth Grant... Hollywood's uptight tight ass? Abigail Breslin was adorable, Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear were great... the whole movie was worth a second look.

This is one of those films that I will be putting on and listening to while I clean the house, like Magnolia or American Beauty or Donnie Darko. It was beautiful.