Tuesday, December 28, 2010

$1 Movie Night at the Arlington Drafthouse

It was a great night for $1 movies. The Drafthouse was surprisingly full given the big Monday Night Football game between the Saints and Falcons. The movies on the screen tonight have received a little bit of attention from the awards, so I was interested to see if they were worthy.

Love & Other Drugs

Yet another true story, and this one wasn't about what I had originally thought. The movie takes place in 1996 just before the little blue pill first started to make an appearance on nightstands across the country and making men and women happy. What i didn't know was that this movie was about the life of someone with Parkinson's disease and how the illness effects everyone close to them.

The story centers around Jake Gyllenhaal (Jamie Randall) as a guy that likes to be with women more than he likes the responsibilities of everyday life. He gets a job with Phizer selling drugs and uses his skills with the ladies to make himself one of the top drug reps, but along the way meets Anne Hathaway (Maggie Murdock) who has stage one Parkinson's. The movie has a lot of sex scenes between these two hotties. A lot of comic contributions from Josh Gad who at times actually steals the show, but not enough to get any award consideration.

The movie turns when Jamie realizes he loves Maggie and this was when I started to connect with his character. The story starts to focus on the life of someone with Parkinson's, the dependency on medication and the failures of the medical system in finding a cure for the disease. I have never met or known someone with the disease, but the acting performance from Anne Hathaway and this story make you want to do something about it. Earlier attention I read mentioned Gyllenhaal as being a Best Actor nomination, but I strike that down and give the nomination to Anne Hathaway.

I give this one a solid 4 Quacks.


Retired Extremely Dangerous, is quite possibly the best shoot 'em up film of the year. But the accolades for this movie pretty much end there. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren are all amazing. As the story goes, we learn that Bruce Willis is retired and is on a list along with the other old folks to be eliminated.

There really isn't much to say about this movie that the previews don't already tell you. Lots of explosives, funny one-liners, and a relatively okay story to keep you interested. Clearly seeing this for a $1 was the right price. I would be generous to give this one 2 1/2 Quacks, so you can watch this on Netflix or you can wait until it is on USA or FX or whatever network TV stations gets it first.


Probably my last movie of the year, so see everyone in 2011!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Double Feature Sunday

The Fighter (in theaters now 12/26/10, location Regal Kingstowne 16)

Yet another true story this year. How many true stories are they going to make this year. Could make for a tough Adapted Screenplay category. But this movie is a worthy candidate in many areas. It is a story of two brothers from a small town in Massachusetts and how they deal with the pressures of being the big name in the town. The story picks up during a critical point in Micky's life (Mark Wahlberg) and during an HBO special on crack addiction for Dicky (Christian Bale). Their two lives are moving in opposite directions but the family bond allows for one to drag the other into the difficulties of addiction and how the poor decisions made can impact others close to you.

I found myself really cheering during the boxing match and might of even heard someone clapping behind me at the end of one of the fights during the movie. This movie is a Rocky for the younger generation. Rumors have started for a celebrity boxing match between Mark Wahlberg and Will Smith (Ali). Not sure if I would bother with that, but watching Mark Wahlberg go through the training of a boxer made me recall his early career with the Funky Bunch and wanted some "Good Vibrations". However, the soundtrack was more of the 80s rock (and my friends/family know how much I loathe the 80s rock).

This movie should get a couple nominations, including a Best Picture, Best Actor (Mark Wahlberg), Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Supporting Actress (Amy Adams). I give this movie 4 1/2 Quacks

The Kings Speech (in theaters now 12/26/10, location Regal Kingstowne 16)

All the world is a stage...is the Shakespeare line from "As You Like It", but it is very appropriate for the approach taken to telling the story of how King George VI ascended to the throne and the personal challenges that he had to overcome. This movie delivers on every level from a superbly written story, delicate directing, and finished with amazing acting from Colin Firth (King George VI), Helena Bonham Carter (Queen Elizabeth) and Geoffrey Rush as the speech therapist.

My knowledge of the British Monarchy isn't the best, but this story was very intriguing in how the weave between the life of the monarchy and the personal life of King George VI. It is the challenges of his personal life that are unveiled during the scenes with the therapist that make the frustrations and emotions come out. However, the stage is stolen by Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter in how they provide the delicate counterbalance to the harsh realities of the royal life.

The film poignantly points out the contrast of the overwhelming difficulty for the King of England to speak and the overpowering oration skills of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini. In one scene the royal family is watching a news real of Hitler giving a very impassioned and dynamic speech as only Adolf Hitler could do, and the King's daughter asks her father what he is saying. King George enviously replies, "I don't know, but he seems to be saying it rather well."

I will be surprised if this movie doesn't get nominated for several awards. Among them should be a Best Picture, Best Actor (Colin Firth), Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter), Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush) and Adapted Screenplay. In the end this movie receives a respectable 5 Quacks.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Book of Eli

Enough time for one more movie before Sunday NFL starts, so thanks to the kind people at HBO and OnDemand I watched "the Book of Eli" this morning.

When this movie first came out, I wasn't very interested. The reviews were mixed, and if I recall my parents were not that impressed. The movie is directed by the Hughes Brothers who have made some decent movies over the years including Dead Presidents and Menace II Society. However, this movie is very different and delivers on levels that the Hughes Brothers haven't gone to before. The acting from Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis, and Gary Oldman is decent, but nothing to write about (wait isn't that what I am doing)....

So where does this movie deliver? Well it is great on a Sunday because it is like going to church (ha ha, yeah I said it). The writing really make you want to cheer for Denzel's character of Eli in this post-apocalyptic journey of faith. The antithesis to Eli is Gary Oldman's character of Carnegie and between he and Eli is Mila Kunis as Solara. With names like this you know it is a SyFy movie. If I recall this was one of the first performances by Mila Kunis to step out from her "70s Show" and "Family Guy" image. She was okay in this role, but not sure if she stands out here. Where this movie really delivers is in the action with the fight scenes. There was a bit too much explosives and gun play in the later scenes, which is when the movie starts to go down hill for me. It was as if they knew what the story was that they wanted to tell with a decent beginning and a finish, however the journey was not convincing. Not sure why Alcatraz was to be the final destination, but it just seems like an odd choice. The final twist was a bit on the lame side and the final shots of Mila Kunis getting ready to kick butt made me laugh (sorry, but she is too cute to be taken seriously as a bad ass).

I give this one a modest 3 Quacks.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day (what movies did you watch)

Everyone has seen the list of the best holiday movies and there is always a wise-ass that reminds people that "Die Hard" was based around the holiday season. Nothing beats "A Christmas Story" in my book...and a close second is the "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" from 1964 where we learn that a woman's place is in the kitchen.

So what did I watch this year? Well it wasn't a holiday movie for me, but I watched "The Girl Who Played with Fire", which is the 2nd part of a trilogy. This one picks up about a year after the end of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". Lisbeth Salander returns to Sweden. She calls on her court-appointed guardian to remind him, in her own way, of his promise to submit satisfactory reports on her behavior. Mikael Blomkvist continues as an editor of Millenium magazine and they are onto a major story about prostitution and trafficking in women from Eastern Europe. When the investigative journalist working on that story is killed, the police announce that Lisbeth is their prime suspect. Lisbeth and Mikael work independently trying to find who is behind the murders. They not only learn the identity of the culprits but also some of Lisbeth's family secrets.

This one didn't get the best reviews from the critics, but I thought it was every bit as good. The ending delivered just the way that I wanted it to. I haven't read these books, but I understand they are a good read. I am enjoying the movies, but you cannot watch "Fire" without first watching "Dragon Tattoo". Without the character development from the first movie you wouldn't understand the dymanic between Lisbeth and Blomkvist. I very much look forward to the conclusion in "Hornet's Nest" and hope that the American version in 2011 doesn't ruin a good story.

I give this movie 4 Quacks.


but, my movie watching wasn't done for the day as I followed that up with "Whip It", because it was on HBO and I didn't have anything better to do. The movie tries to follow up on the cuteness of Ellen Paige, but doesn't quite deliver for me. Do roller derbies like this really exist? If so, this movie doesn't exactly sell me on buying a ticket. It is your stereotypical young woman coming to maturity story. She has a crappy life at home, finds a loser boyfriend, weird friends, blah blah blah. This was Drew Barrymore's debut as a director, but that isn't exactly an excuse for being such a boring movie.

I would be generous if I gave this one 3 Quacks... next please...


So sure why not, one more movie before the NFL game of the night finally starts. This time I went a little deeper into the movie bag and pulled out "A Prophet", which is the story of an Arab that goes to a French prison. I do not know a lot about the French prison system (or the American one for what it's worth), but I found it interesting that a convict can have a day of leave. Also, the amount of electronics that were allowed into the prison surprised me. And finally the ability to get a prostitute to come to the prison was impressive. Maybe the prisons in France are worth checking out.

The movie addresses much heavier issues regarding religion/race. I found the movie hard to follow at times, and that wasn't because of the subtitles. I have seen several foreign movies and this might be the first one where the soundtrack was American. The movie has some very intense moments and for that the movie succeeds. It also ends with Christmas, so in a way you could say it is a holiday movie (but not really). The work by the director is amazing in how the story unfolds. The movie was nominated last year for best foreign film, but didn't win. i haven't seen the winning film yet, but I will and I hope that it measures up. I will get that one on netflix soon, so check back later.

In the end, "A Prophet" is a quality movie that is worth checking out and receives 4 Quacks.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Green Hornet

I will be honest, I am too young to remember there ever being a Green Hornet radio show and I am also too young to have seen the Bruce Lee version of the Green Hornet. However, if you wanted to bring a new hero to the party of superhero movies this would be a great one to invite. Seth Rogan has some chops and isn't afraid to combine his funny man writing styles to an action movie. This is a strong evolution for him from Pineapple Express where he attempted the same thing; however it works even better here with an established framework to start from. He modernized the story in just the right ways and found the perfect cast for the movie. Of course he had to find rolls for his friends, which include a cameo from James Franco as a hip drug dealing club owner looking to be the big boss, but Christopher Waltz plays a perfect villain as Chudnofsky (but seriously what kind of a name is that). Relatively unknown Jay Chou was a lot of fun to watch as he jumped and kicked and punched across the screen. I suppose I should say that Cameron Dian is in the movie as well, but is not memorable at all. I think she could be the only miss in the casting, but nobody is perfect.

The writing had just enough laughs to make the character of Britt Reid worthy of cheering for as the hero. The jealous tones from Kato were a bit strong and not believable enough. But this movie wan't made for the writing; it was made for the kick ass fighting styles of the Green Hornet and his partner Kato. The movie succeeds in establishing the story and setting the stage for a Summer 2012 sequel. It got the January bump for some reason. However, I think this one has a chance to have a solid weekend in mid-January.

I give this movie a strong 3 Quacks.
(screening 12/21/10, release date 1/14/11, location AMC Mazza Gallerie)

-the Blue Wombat

Premium Movies

IMAX, Digital 3D, regular 3D... what does it all mean?

First thing to say about this topic is that the theater makes more of a difference than the picture format. An older theater may have character, but with older equipment comes lesser quality and you shouldn't pay for crap when you go to the theater. So, if you go to a newer theater you will obviously enjoy yourself more than an older theater. However, if you want to take that movie experience to another level should you fork over the extra money for IMAX or 3D?

Some movies are better in IMAX. These are the usual summer blockbuster movies that have the tie in with the fast food chains, toys for the kids, etc. If you are that geeked up about the movie in advance then I say spend the cash for the experience. It will make it better.

But what about 3D...this one takes a more personal preferrence in my opinion. Some people like it and others do not. For me no matter what 3D format is used the glasses put a strain on my eyes and it is not enjoyable. I have seen the same movie in other formats and the 3D experience does not add enough for me to spend the extra cash.

Bottom line, go to the nice theater and you will be in good hands.


The average person sees about 5 movies a year. With the average cost of a movie at $8 and popcorn at $6 and a beverage at $4 - it is expensive to take a date to a movie these days. So it was time that I put together a blog that would help make the decision making process for those 5 movies a little easier. Special thanks to my friends for encouraging me to do this (you know who you are)...
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