Friday, August 31, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Star Trek, season 3 (1968-1969) ***½

NR, 24 50-min. episodes
Creator: Gene Roddenberry

Directors: Marc Daniels, John Meredyth Lucas, Jud Taylor, Marvin J. Chomsky, Ralph Senensky, Vincent McEveety, Anton Leader, Herb Wallerstein, David Alexander, John Erman, Herbert Kenwith, Murray Golden, Herschel Daugherty

Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Gene L. Coon, D.C. Fontana, Margaret Armen, Edward J. Lasko, Jean Lisette Aroeste, Jerome Bixby, Hendrick Vollaerts, Judy Burns, Chet Richards, Meyer Dolinsky, Arthur Heineman, Joyce Muskat, John Meredyth Lucas, Oliver Crawford, George F. Slavin, Jeremy Tarcher, Shari Lewis, David Gerrold, Arthur H. Singer

Starring: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Majel Barrett

Guests: Marj Dusay, Joanne Linville, Jack Donner, Sabrina Scharf, Rudy Solari, Richard Hale, Craig Hundley, James Wellman, Melvin Belli, Diana Muldaur, David Frankham, Ron Soble, Bonnie Beecher, Charles Maxwell, Rex Holman, Sam Gilman, Michael Ansara, Susan Howard, Kate Woodville, Byron Morrow, Michael Dunn, Liam Sullivan, Barbara Babcock, Ted Scott, Derek Partridge, Kathie Brown, Jason Evers, Kathryn Hays, Alan Bergmann, France Nuyen, Jay Robinson, Tony Young, Steve Ihnat, Yvonne Craig, Frank Gorshin, Lou Antonio, Sharon Acker, David Hurst, Richard Derr, Lee Meriwether, Naomi Pollack, Booker Bradshaw, Jan Shutan, John Winston, James Daly, Louise Sorel, Skip Homeier, Charles Napier, Mary-Linda Rapelye, Jeff Corey, Diana Ewing, Charlene Polite, Fred Williamson, Lee Bergere, Barry Atwater, Phillip Pine, Mariette Hartley, Ian Wolfe, Kermit Murdock, Sandra Smith, Harry Landers

Wow. I can see this new way I have of listing the guest stars on an entire season of a television show is going to mean credits that are much more significant than the body of my miniaturized Penny Thoughts reviews.

“Star Trek” surprisingly only lasted three seasons in its original network run. It seems that it lasted my entire childhood. Of course, it was actually done and gone long before I was introduced to this world. However, it did play in syndication throughout my childhood. We adopted a dog named Blue when I was about seven. The man we adopted him from claimed that “Star Trek” was Blue’s favorite TV show. He was named after his favorite color, the same as worn by the science officers on “Star Trek”, so it was no surprise to learn that Spock was Blue’s favorite character. The funny thing is, I never saw that dog watch the show, or any television for that matter.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Ronin (1998) ***½

R, 122 min.
Director: John Frankenheimer
Writers: J.D. Zeik, Richard Weisz
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård, Skipp Sudduth, Sean Bean, Michael Lonsdale, Jan Triska, Jonathan Pryce, Katarina Witt

“Ronin” is a movie that impressed me greatly when I originally saw it in theaters. It seemed destined to go down as an action classic, but it was out of its time. It seems to have faded from most people’s memory. I think that’s because it was a movie born in the 70s that didn’t get made until the 90s.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Thief (1981) ****

R, 122 min.
Director: Michael Mann
Writers: Michael Mann, Frank Hohimer (novel “The Home Invaders”)
Starring: James Caan, Tuesday Weld, James Belushi, Robert Prosky, Tom Signorelli, Willie Nelson

Michael Mann’s debut feature film “Thief” is like a preview of the best of what was to come from this powerful director. On top of that, it’s a great movie in itsel. It follows the story of a small time jewel thief who is offered a chance at the big time. He’s reluctant to take the chance, because it would mean he was no longer in working for just himself. Circumstances arise that convince him to just take a taste and the end results are not what he was promised.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (2011) ****

NR, 121 min.
Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Starring: Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, Jessie Misskelley Jr., Pam Hobbs, Terry Hobbs, John Mark Byers, Jessie Misskelley Sr.

The 1993 Robin Hood Hills murders of three grade school children were tragic and sad. Almost as tragic was the fate of three older teens, who were blamed and served 18 years in prison despite little beyond circumstantial evidence convicting them of the murders. The boys-turned-men became known as the West Memphis Three, after the Arkansas town in which the murders occurred.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Mirror Mirror (2012) ***

PG, 106 min.
Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
Writers: Marc Klein, Jason Keller, Melisa Wallack
Starring: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joey Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno, Martin Klebba, Ronald Lee Clark, Robert Emms, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner, Sean Bean

Tarsem’s “Mirror Mirror” was the first live action Snow White adaptation to hit the big screen this year. It was generally thought to be the slighter of the two. Although, I enjoyed the Middle Earth take on the fairy tale in “Snow White and the Huntsman”, mostly due to a wonderful villain provided by Charlize Theron, I think I like this version slightly better.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Campaign / **½ (R)

Cam Brady: Will Ferrell
Marty Huggins: Zach Galifianakis
Mitch: Jason Sudeikis
Tim Wattley: Dylan McDermott
Rose Brady: Katherine LaNasa
Mitzi Huggins: Sarah Baker
Glenn Motch: John Lithgow
Wade Motch: Dan Aykroyd
Raymond Huggins: Brian Cox
Mrs. Yao: Karen Maruyama

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a film directed by Jay Roach. Written by Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell. Running time: 85 min. Rated R (for crude sexual content, language and brief nudity).

Good comedy is often a balancing act. Being funny isn’t just about being funny. The subject matter often defines the parameters of the rules to which the comedy must abide. Perhaps if this weren’t an election year the new movie “The Campaign” would just seem like a silly lark. But, considering the current political climate, the stakes are raised when making a comedy about a political campaign.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Day of the Jackal (1973) ***

PG, 143 min.
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Writers: Kenneth Ross, Frederick Forsyth (novel)
Starring: Edward Fox, Michael Lonsdale, Alan Badel, Derek Jacobi, Olga Georges-Picot, Delphine Seyrig, Cyril Cusack, Ronald Pickup, Jean Martin, Denis Carey, Terence Alexander, Jacques François

The 1973 spy classic “The Day of the Jackal”, with its efficiency of storytelling, proves that something has gone wrong with the spy thrillers of today. I couldn’t help thinking about the recent theatrical release “The Bourne Legacy” as I watched the first 40 minutes of “Jackal”, based on the book by Frederick Forsyth.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) ***½

PG-13, 124 min.
Director: Joe Johnston
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Joe Simon (comic book), Jack Kirby (comic book)
Starring: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci, Bruno Ricci, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Richard Armitage, Kenneth Choi, JJ Feild, Samuel L. Jackson

The boys have been consuming all the Marvel movies they can in preparation for the release of ‘The Avengers” on Blu-ray. “Captain America: The First Avenger” is one of the best of them. The boys didn’t get a chance to see this in theaters, and I had a feeling it would be their favorite, so I saved it for last.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—True Romance (1993) ***½

R, 120 min.
Director: Tony Scott
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, Bronson Pinochot, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, Conchata Ferrell, James Gandolfini, Victor Argo, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Kevin Corrigan

Tony Scott and Quentin Tarantino made a surprisingly fit pair in 1993, when Scott directed Tarantino’s first sold screenplay. The original screenplay was one of QT’s sprawling dialogue-driven epics until Warner Bros. parceled it out into the two scripts that would become “True Romance” and “Natural Born Killers”. The former probably came out closer to something that held the QT signature than Stone’s paranoia-driven take on reality-based television and serial killers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Top Gun (1986) ***

PG, 110 min.
Director: Tony Scott
Writers: Jim Cass, Jack Epps Jr., Ehud Yonay (magazine article “Top Guns”)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt, Michael Ironside, Meg Ryan, Rick Rossovich, Barry Tubb, Whip Hubley, Tim Robbins, John Stockwell, Clarence Gilyard Jr., James Tolkan

Last Sunday we lost one of the most influential filmmakers of the 80s. “Top Gun” is one of the main reasons why. Tony Scott was never one of my favorite directors. “Top Gun” wasn’t my favorite movie of his, but it was my dad’s. My father was a Marine Corps. fighter pilot. He flew A4s in Vietnam and F4s before he retired from active duty. “Top Gun” may have been his favorite movie of all time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Expendables 2 / ** (R)

Barney Ross: Sylvester Stallone
Lee Christmas: Jason Statham
Maggie: Yu Nan
Vilain: Jean-Claude Van Damme
Gunner Jensen: Dolph Lundgren
Hale Caesar: Terry Crews
Toll Road: Randy Couture
Bill the Kid: Liam Hemsworth
Yin Yang: Jet Li
Hector: Scott Adkins
Church: Bruce Willis
Trench: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Booker: Chuck Norris

Lionsgate presents a film directed by Simon West. Written by Richard Wenck and Sylvester Stallone and Ken Kaufman & David Agosto. Based on characters created by David Callaham. Running time: 102 min. Rated R (for strong bloody violence throughout).

While I was excited for the original “Expendables” to feature a who’s who of 80s action picture musclemen, I was disappointed with the outcome. I had hope, though, that a second go at it might produce better results, I’m now forced into the conclusion that these movies just aren’t made for me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

R.I.P. Tony Scott (1944-2012)

It was widely reported this morning that on August 19, 2012 Hollywood director and producer Tony Scott died at age 68. The British-born director jumped to his death from the Vincent Thomas Bridge near Long Beach, Calif. according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Officials said a suicide note was found in his car. 

Scott started his filmmaking career with his older brother Ridley making award-winning commercials. They formed a production company together, Scott Free Productions. Scott is responsible for some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster hits.

He was best known for directing the Tom Cruise Navy flying thriller “Top Gun” in 1986. His distinctive style included his knack for lighting his films as if they all took place during the “magic hour”, when the setting sun shrouds everything in a golden light.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

ParaNorman / *** (PG)

Featuring the voices of:
Norman Babcock: Kodi Smit-McPhee
Neil: Tucker Albrizzi
Courtney Babcock: Anna Kendrick
Mitch: Casey Affleck
Alvin: Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Sandra Babcock: Leslie Mann
Perry Babcock: Jeff Garlin
Grandma: Elaine Stritch
The Judge: Bernard Hill
Aggie: Jodell Ferland
Sherriff Hooper: Tempestt Bledsoe
Mrs. Henscher: Alex Borstein
Mr. Prenderghast: John Goodman

Focus Features presents a film directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell. Written by Butler. Running time: 93 min. Rated PG (for scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language).

Never in the history of the world has mankind been more prepared for the impending zombie apocalypse than it is today. We’ve got zombies on the brain. Perhaps we’re just overly concerned that they’ll get our brains. Whatever the reason, we are more knowledgeable about zombies than we’ve ever been. We watch movies about them. We watch TV shows about them. We read books and comics about them. Heck, I even contribute reviews to Zombie Apocalypse Monthly, an e-zine dedicated to them. Even our children are becoming experts, as evidenced by the new animated film “ParaNorman”.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Get the Gringo (2012) **½

R, 96 min.
Director: Adrian Grünberg
Writers: Mel Gibson, Adrian Grünberg, Stacy Perskie
Starring: Mel Gibson, Kevin Hernandez, Dolores Heredia, Peter Gerety, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Peter Stromare, Bob Gunton, Scott Cohen, Patrick Bauchau, Dean Norris

Mel Gibson’s “Get the Gringo” is a strange action movie. It appears to be shot on digital video. Most of the cast is Hispanic, and there may be enough Spanish spoken to qualify it as a foreign language film. Gibson plays an unusual antihero. And, most of the action takes place in a Mexican prison. It’s no surprise that the gringo of the title that must be got is Gibson.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Iron Man 2 (2010) ***

PG-13, 124 min.
Director: Jon Favreau
Writers: Justin Theroux, Stan Lee (comic book), Don Heck (comic book), Lerry Lieber (comic book), Jack Kirby (comic book)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, John Slattery, Garry Shandling, Paul Bettany (voice), Kate Mara, Leslie Bibb, Jon Favreau

So, my kids forced me into my third viewing of “Iron Man 2”. And, by ‘forced’ I mean, I asked them if they wanted to see “Iron Man 2”, and they said, “Yes.” My youngest boy has been going nuts over War Machine for months. He somehow latched onto the Iron Man spin off superhero shortly after seeing “The Avengers”, and he’s decided that War Machine is his hero.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Mission: Impossible III (2006) ***

PG-13, 126 min.
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writers: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, J.J. Abrams
Starring: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Maggie Q, Lawrence Fishburne, Simon Pegg, Keri Russell, Eddie Marsan, Aaron Paul

After the failure of “M:I2” to combine John Woo’s emotionally driven stylized action with the plot heavy intricacies of the spy genre, it was back to the drawing board. The Cruise/Wagner production team decided to seek help in achieving their goals of turning the “M:I” franchise into a more emotion-based espionage franchise of their own style. They looked to television and the still current TV golden boy J.J. Abrams.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Hunter (2012) ***

R, 102 min.
Director: Daniel Nettheim
Writer: Alice Addison, Wain Fimeri, Julia Leigh (novel)
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Frances O’Connor, Sam Neill, Morgana Davies, Finn Woodlock

“The Hunter” is one of those small independent movies that would be easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention. It has a unique subject for a “small” film. I suppose it’s a unique subject for any film. It involves the Tasmanian tiger, a species of animal that was thought to have gone extinct in the 1930s. Willem Dafoe plays a hunter who is hired by a pharmaceutical company to find one in the wild. He arrives in Tasmania to hostility from the natives and housing conditions that are less than promised. The family he stays with lost their father over a year earlier. It’s rumored that he had seen a Tasmanian tiger.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Mission: Impossible II (2000) **

PG-13, 123 min.
Director: John Woo
Writers: Robert Towne, Ronald D. Moore, Brannon Braga, Bruce Geller (television series)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Thandie Newton, Dougray Scott, Ving Rhames, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, Radé Sherbedgia

If 1996’s “Mission: Impossible” is an undervalued but subtly brilliant reboot of the iconic television series. “Mission: Impossible II” is universally thought to be the worst of the film series. It is most certainly a misstep in the Cruise/Wagner plan to revitalize the series into an original film franchise and make it their own.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Bourne Legacy / **½ (PG-13)

Aaron Cross: Jeremy Renner
Dr. Marta Shearing: Rachel Weisz
Retired Col. Eric Byer, USAF: Edward Norton
Retired Adm. Mark Turso, USN: Stacy Keach
Terrence Ward: Dennis Boutsikaris
Dita Mandy: Donna Murphy
Arthur Ingram: Michael Chernus
Zev Vendel: Corey Stoll
Dr. Donald Foite: Zeljko Ivanek
Outcome #3: Oscar Isaac

Universal Pictures presents a film directed by Tony Gilroy. Written by Tony Gilroy & Dan Gilroy. Inspired by the Bourne series by Robert Ludlum. Running time: 135 min. Rated PG-13 (for violence and action sequences).

I’m finding it frustrating to discuss the extension project to the Jason Bourne trilogy, the new movie “The Bourne Legacy”. It’s frustrating because this is one of those times I’d like to abandon the four star rating system. It’s one of those movies that can’t be quantified by a collection of stars that assigns a definitive success factor to the film. Is the movie successful in what it’s trying to do? Most certainly. Is it well made? Definitely. Did I enjoy watching it? Very much so. But, in the end, what is the point of it?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—21 Jump Street (2012) ***

R, 109 min.
Director: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Writers: Michael Bacall, Jonah Hill, Patrick Hasburgh (television series), Stephen J. Cannell (television series)
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, DeRay Davis, Ice Cube, Dax Flame, Chris Parnell, Ellie Kemper, Jake Johnson, Nick Offerman

“Fuck you, ‘Glee’.” —Jenko.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Secret World of Arrietty (2012) ***

G, 94 min.
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Writers: Hayao Miyazaki, Keiko Niwa, Mary Norton (novel “The Borrowers”)
Starring: Bridgit Mendler, David Henry, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Gracie Poletti, Moises Arias

“The Borrowers” is a story made for the imaginative filmmaking of Studio Ghibli. Founded by perhaps the greatest animation director to ever live, Hayao Miyazaki’s studio has always strived to tell stories with a strong message of family and individuality. He understands the human spirit can and is most comfortable inhabiting both of those life styles. “The Secret World of Arrietty” is Miyazaki’s script based on Mary Norton’s popular novel. It is a story perfectly comfortable in Miyazaki’s world.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days / ** (PG)

Greg Heffley: Zachary Gordon
Frank Heffley: Steve Zahn
Rowley Jefferson: Robert Capron
Roderick Heffley: Devon Bostick
Susan Heffley: Rachel Harris
Holly Hills: Peyton List
Fregley: Grayson Russell
Chirag: Karan Brar
Patty Farrell: Laine MacNeil

Fox 2000 Pictures presents a film directed by David Bowers. Written by Maya Forbes & Wallace Wolodarsky. Based on the book by Jeff Kinney. Running time: 94 min. Rated PG (for some rude humor).

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” is the third film in the series adapted to the screen from the popular children’s books. Don’t ask me how many of those there are. I’m sure if I were ten I would know them all inside and out, and I would anticipate the movies as if they were my only chance to win millions of dollars and live the life of my dreams. I have an eleven-year-old who does feel that way about them. He has related so many of Greg Heffley’s adventures throughout the past few years, I’m sure he would be quite disappointed at my retention rate for them. But then, they aren’t made for me. I’m not an eleven-year-old boy any more.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—White Mane (1953) ***

NR, 40 min.
Director: Albert Lamorisse
Writers: Albert Lamorisse, Denys Colomb de Duanant (adaptation), James Agee (commentary)
Starring: Alain Emery, Laurent Roche, Clan-Clan
Narrator: Frank Silvera

“White Mane” is a short film by the same director of “The Red Balloon” (1956). Albert Lamorisse’s better known “Balloon” is about a boy who chases a balloon all over Paris. The balloon seems to have its own will and personality and it befriends the child. “White Mane” tells a similar story about a boy who tames a wild stallion. Both films won the best short film at the Cannes Film Festival in their respective years.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Last Days Here (2012) ***

NR, 91 min.
Directors: Don Argott, Damien Fenton
Starring: Bobby Liebling, Sean Pelletier

The documentary “Last Days Here” tells the often sad story of Bobby Liebling, front man for the seminal doom metal band Pentagram. Liebling’s band was once thought to be potentially as big as Black Sabbath, but Liebling’s demanding personality resulted in an ever revolving door of band members and producers. He was impossible to work with and eventually drugs took him from any form of functional life. When the filmmakers of this documentary caught up with Liebling, he was living in his parents’ basement and in a world of drug fueled paranoia.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Mission: Impossible (1996) ***½

PG-13, 110 min.
Director: Brian De Palma
Writers: David Koepp, Robert Towne, Steven Zaillian, Bruce Geller (television series)
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Henry Czerny, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emilio Estevez, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Vanessa Redgrave, Dale Dye

I think it’s easy to dismiss the first “Mission: Impossible” movie as just another Hollywood blockbuster remake that exists to thrill and excite and maybe even bolster the career of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, but I feel it is an extremely well conceived spearhead by its star Tom Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner to reinvent a franchise into an on going genre machine.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Total Recall / *** (PG-13)

Douglas Quaid: Colin Farrell
Lori Quaid: Kate Beckinsale
Melina: Jessica Biel
Cohaagen: Bryan Cranston
Harry: Bokeem Woodbine
Mathias: Bill Nighy
McClane: John Cho

Columbia Pictures presents a film directed by Len Wiseman. Written by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback. Based on a screen story by Ronald Shusett & Dan O’Bannon and Jon Povill and Wimmer. Inspired by the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick. Running time: 118 min. Rated PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity, and language).

“We can rebuild him. We have the technology… Better than before. Better. Stronger. Faster.”
            —Opening lines to the television series “The Six Million Dollar Man”.

Why am I quoting a television show that has nothing to do with a 22-year old science fiction camp classic that has just been remade? Because it holds some truth about why sometimes a remake is necessary. At the time of its release, the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle “Total Recall” was a phenomenon. I didn’t see the movie in theaters and didn’t catch up to it for a few years. When I did, I was shocked to look back at how popular it was, because it was so very bad. So, when it was announced that a remake of the movie based on Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”, it really could only have been an improvement.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—God Bless America (2012) **½

R, 105 min.
Director/Writer: Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring: Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr

I greatly admire the message Bobcat Goldthwait delivers in his latest movie. Unfortunately, the recent shootings around our country make his delivery system a little hard to cope with. He gives us an everyman loser who is having migraines and can’t seem escape the stupidity of our voyeuristic, judgmental society. No one seems to see the flaws in the world he does, but in truth, we all do. We celebrate stupidity and meanness in our fascinations with reality television, politically divisive talk show hosts, and the highlighting of the worst news there is to be found in the world.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Grey (2012) ***½

R, 117 min.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Writers: Joe Carnahan, Ian Mackenzie Jeffers (also short story “Ghost Walker”)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, Nonzo Anozie, James Badge Dale, Ben Hernandez

“The Grey” is sparse, like the landscape within it. In keeping it simple, director Joe Carnahan finds the strength in the story of “The Grey”. Simplicity has not always been a trait of Carnahan’s writing or direction. This change shows maturity for the director.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Penny Thoughts '12 - Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987) ****

R, 98 min.
Director/Writer: John Hughes
Starring: Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robbins, Michael McKean, Kevin Bacon, Dylan Baker, Carol Bruce, Olivia Burnette, Diana Douglas, Mrtin Ferrero, Larry Hankin, Richard Herd, Susan Kellermann, Matthew Lawrence, Eddie McClurg 

I was almost sad to report that I have no new post for today. When I began this daily movie endeavor, I had high hopes that a day wouldn't come when I didn't have a movie to talk about. It really isn't a surprise that my movieless day would come in the first year of the daily features, however. I have yet to fully establish how this routine will work from week to week and day to day. I knew I watched enough movies to pull it off. I'm often stacked up with reviews days in advance. However, this week an unfortunate series of events ran my well dry. 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Airplane II: The Sequel (1982) ***

PG, 84 min.
Director/Writer: Ken Finkleman
Starring: Robert Hays, Julie Haggerty, Lloyd Bridges, Chad Everett, Peter Graves, Chuck Connors, William Shatner, Raymond Burr, John Vernon, Stephen Stucker, Kent McCord, James A. Watson Jr., John Dehner, Rip Torn, Sonny Bono

I’ve never felt that “Airplane II” ever got the respect that it deserved. Its predecessor is often cited as one of the best spoofs of all time, but like all sequels, this one doesn’t live up to the first one. Essentially that’s true, but most people think of this second “Airplane” movie as stupid and derivative of the original. Well, of course it’s derivative; it’s a sequel. But the filmmakers do a very good job of only repeating a couple of the jokes from the first film. The new jokes are all made in the same spirit and are quite funny.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Watch / *** (R)

Evan: Ben Stiller
Bob: Vince Vaughn
Franklin: Jonah Hill
Jamarcus: Richard Ayoade
Abby: Rosemarie DeWitt
Sgt. Bressman: Will Forte
Creepy Neighbor: Billy Crudup

20th Century Fox presents a film directed by Akiva Schaffer. Written by Jared Stern and Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg. Running time: 101 min. Rated R (for some strong sexual content including references, pervasive language and violent images).

When you see enough movies, you begin to wonder about the details of their plots. Aliens have been invading the Earth cinematically for well over a century by now. They always seem to be pretty hard to kill; yet there’s always a weakness. Sometimes that weakness has to do with their social structure. If you can infect one of them, the entire race might fall. Sometimes you can just blast them to hell, as long as their blood doesn’t get all over you and burn your face off. What if their weakness were a little simpler than that? What if just shooting off their genitals got the job done?