Day: February 6, 2009

Torture Worn: Review for “Saw V”

Posted on

Putting moral messages is a messy and dangerous job. You want to make your point but you don’t want to rub it in your audiences’ faces. Subtlety is an art. However just because your message is subtle doesn’t mean it ends being a good movie. Witness: The Most Violent Morality Tale! It’s Saw! The first Saw was actually a good movie with exceptional writing. And then they decided to make it a franchise and it all went downhill from there. Saw IIwas a disappointing film unsurprisingly. Saw III was actually pretty good. Not great but better. Then I lost all hope in humanity with Saw IV. What idiot executive let this film through the system? While at least the first one was actually a story, the rest were simply excuses for torture and voyeurism. And now we have Saw V. The story takes place right after the last film, (which really takes place during Saw III) bringing back Inspector Straum and Jigsaw’s OTHER protegé right from that dingy warehouse. Suspicions are thrown around, there are plenty of flashback scenes, and for some random reason, there are five sets of traps for these other people who don’t really have anything to do with the film. The movie is violent with brutal traps and unremorseful with its graphic agenda. It is certainly better than Saw IV, but still awful to watch. The films are simply becoming excuses to exhibit torture and voyeurism and that is not a good thing at all.

Grade: D

A “Gran” Ol’ Time: Review for “Gran Torino”

Posted on

Old men are intelligent. Sometimes stubborn, but very intelligent. They have experienced things we cannot even imagine and sometimes freely discuss those events. But sometimes they are too stuck in the past. Too stuck in an age that, to us may seem irrelevant or old fashioned. They won’t catch up; they don’t want to catch up with the current time. They sometimes hate the idea of an iPod or a PlayStation. Clint Eastwood plays an old man who lives in a very ethnic, if somewhat lower class, neighborhood. He has fought in the Vietnam War and the tensions and grudges have not left him. There are gang wars often and his neighbors are Hmong immigrants, an obvious problem for him. But the neighbor’s kid, who is pressured into carrying out a dirty deed to join a gang, tries to steel Wallace’s (Clint Eastwood) 1972 Gran Torino. This car is his most prized possession. His wife is dead, with her funeral commencing the film. Hid sons are greedy little adult prats who feel sorry that their dad is having a hard time. Sorry for Wallace, you ask? No, sorry for themselves and for the stuff they have to put up with. But they have no idea. He eventually befriends the kid who tried to steel his car by means of repayment (the kid works for him for a week). He also befriends the kid’s sister, a quick witted and smart young woman. The film tackles many things, such as generational differences, racism, and peer pressure. Clint Eastwood is great as the aging old man and this is one of his greatest performances. He also directed the film. However, this isn’t one of his greatest films. It’s excellent, but not the enthralling work I had expected. It was actually quite funny. It certainly isn’t a comedy, nor a “dramedy”, but there are quite a few funny moments. And I wasn’t the only one who was laughing in the theater. The language of the film is amazing. Amazing in the sense that you don’t know when a brief silence from profanity will come. Oh, it’s not only the F-word, it is a plethora of racial slurs. In comparison, you seldom hear any “normal” swears. Many of the epithets I hadn’t even been aware of. This mars the film, but not greatly. The ending is extremely powerful and makes the experience enjoyable. The meaning of life is what makes this film. It’s personification of scars and friendship male a film to watch. A very good, if deafening project from a master.

Grade: B+

Something “Evil” This Way Comes: Review for “Deliver Us From Evil”

Posted on Updated on

Evil. What is evil? Is it an act or a feeling? Is anyone truly evil? In an uncomfortable to watch documentary, Deliver Us From Evil gives us a good idea what a truly evil person might look, act, talk, and think like. The scariest thing is that that person was not only in a position of power, but also of trust. Father Oliver O’Grady sexually molested hundreds of children between 1973 and 2006. The documentary, part intervention and part interviews with the victim, creates an extremely disturbing portrait of what a person might have in his closet. Father O’ Grady, aging but still vigorous, talks about his evil beginnings quite calmly. His voice doesn’t tremble, his face doesn’t really scowl, his eyes don’t shed a tear. This, I think, is true evil. He talks of his crimes in a completely unremorseful tone of, not only voice, but also of character.  The film goes on to concentrate on three of his victims, each case which they have filed against him. The Catholic Church ignores the claims against the priest and goes on. Doubtful? The documentary also explores the cover ups. According to the film, the Catholic Church has spent over $10 million covering up claims of priests abusing children. While the film itself is extremely well made, it is not one to actually watch. It is disturbing, unsettling, and depressing. Amy Berg’s excellent film was nominated for Best Documentary in 2006 at the Academy Awards. An exceptional film not to be watched unless for informational use. However, if you plan to see Doubt with Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman, I do advise you watch the this full before you go see it. Facts before fiction.

Grade: A

Bringing Up “Baby”: Review for “Baby Mama”

Posted on

For  a while, during the mid 1990s, Saturday Night Live was going through a creative slump. It wasn’t until a young woman joined the writers that the show jumped back on top of the comedy ladder. She was the first female head writer of the long broadcast sketch show. When she joined the cast, SNL got even, if possible, better. Tina Fey is one of the greatest female comedians ever, up there with Lucille Ball. Her recent turn as Sarah Palin brought new meaning to the word “maverick” and made her skits a hit on the web. Her show 30 Rockis one of NBC’s highest rated shows, both critically and commercially. In Baby Mama, Fey plays high powered, career driven Kate Halbrook. She works at a brilliant company who manufactures health foods. She really wants a baby, but can’t make one. So what does she do? She hires a surrogate named Angie, a crass, rude redneck who wouldn’t know class if it jumped on her head and kicked her in the butt. And so goes this relationship between one uptight woman and one whose clothes are too tight. Amy Peohler is the other genius. She’s just as great on SNL as Tina Fey, with her spot on impressions and witty humor. This comedy is predictable but enjoyable enough. SNL alum Steve Martin co-stars as Fey’s New Age-centric boss, Barry. A cute comedy with frequent laughs and a fun storyline. Amy Poehler’s Angie is the epitome of white trash. She nails her role and not only does she (at first) make us want to throw tomatoes at her, but she also manages to bring some dimension to the role. Tina Fey is, as always, fantastic. Her uptight isn’t a parody of uptight or a mimic, but simply an interpretation. Both work great together, and they should, considering they did the “Weekend Update” sketch together for three weeks. I can’t go any further into the plot due to many a spoiler. All I can say is that, though and easily predicted finale, it does give the charatcers leverage. The film is written and directed by Michael McCullers.

Grade: B