Syriana: 7 out of 10.
I'll admit I had difficulty following the complete plot of Syriana. I got lost a few times and I'm still not sure I understood it all. At some point today I'll hit the web in search of Cliff Notes that will break it down for me. I normally don't have this issue, but I found "Syriana" particularly complex.
Even though I couldn't follow it all, I liked it. I probably would have liked it more had I not kept comparing it to "Traffic", a film I absolutely loved. "Syriana is Traffic-esque but not as clear and not as fulfilling. Still, it's smart, well acted and a worthwhile watch if you don't mind using your brain while you view.
Freedomland: 5.5 out of 10.
This flick seemed unfinished, as if they had all the footage and they threw it together. It starts pretty strong but loses it's way. Some plot lines are dropped completely and the ending seems tacked on.
I'll admit, I agreed to watch this with Taryn because of the cast. I dig Sam Jackson and Julianne Moore, and both are pretty decent in "Freedomland", but where was the direction? What was the point of Freedomland? Can they really lock down an apartment complex? What was Ron Eldard's purpose?
Block Party: 7.5 out of 10.
I dug the whole vibe of this Dave Chappelle project. He's his typical funny self, the flow is charming and the musical performances are outstanding.
I'd probably laugh my ass off if Chappelle read the phone book for 90 minutes. Still, if you're looking for decent hip hop from today, this is a great introduction.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events: 5 out of 10.
I found the entire ordeal to be one 108 minute bore. At times I thought Jim Carrey was mildly entertaining, but for the most part I just wished they had let Billy Connolly be funny.
The Departed: 8.5 out of 10.
If you exclude family movies and the Toronto International Film Festival, I don't think I've seen a movie in an actual movie theatre since "Kill Bill: Volume 2". Until yesterday, that is.
"The Departed" was fantastic. It's everything I hoped it would be. A great cast, a great story and wonderful direction from Martin Scorsese. It also contain 237 instances of the F bomb.
Jarhead: 5.5 out of 10.
"Jarhead" was marketed perfectly. Remember all those ads to the sound of Kanye West's "Jesus Walks"? They had you thinking about great war movies past; "Full Metal Jacket", "Apocalypse Now", "Three Kings". "Jarhead" could have been great. "Jarhead" should have been great.
Instead it's boring. It starts off okay, but then it gets stuck in a rut. It ends up making "Three Kings" feel like "Apocalypse Now". You'd expect a great deal better from the man who directed "American Beauty".
Welcome to the suck.
Match Point: 7.5 out of 10.
Of course Jonathan Rhys Meyers fell for Scarlett Johansson, who wouldn't? Who could resist?
Woody Allen's got a slick little movie on his hands here. It's got a hypnotic pace, although it could be tightened up just a little, but the conclusion doesn't drag and his opening line permeates throughout.
"I'd rather be lucky than good."
A History of Violence: 7.5 out of 10.
David Cronenberg has pieced together a thought provoking film in "A History of Violence". With great performances by Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt and Ed Harris, the question of natural born killers and innate violent tendencies is raised with spirit.
They'll call the small town Millbrook, Indiana, but it's actually Millbrook, Ontario. And those Philly scenes, that's the T.Dot.
North Country: 7.5 out of 10.
Sure she's pretty, but the girl can act. Charlize Theron is excellent yet again in this fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States.
Theron is great, but my man Richard Jenkins is sharp yet again as well. Jenkins works a great deal and he's always fantastic. I'd bet this guy could carry a film if they'd let him.
I'd like to wrap up this mini-review with a shout out to the soundtrack. There are some fantastic Bob Dylan songs that fit the Minnesota mood perfectly as well as a little Warren Zevon and Molly Hatchet to top things off nicely. She is a girl of the North Country, after all.
Transamerica: 7.5 out of 10.
This one was better than I expected. Felicity Huffman is great as a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual and there are great cameos from our very own Graham Greene and Fionnula Flanagan.
A great deal of this film reminded me of "Southern Comfort", a documentary I watched in the summer about pre-op female-to-male transsexual living with the good ol' boys. I'd link to my review of the flick, but it appears I didn't write one. Shame on me...
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