Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Tucci’

Monkey Shines

Posted 17 Oct 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Monkey Shines, USA, 1988

Written and Directed by George A. Romero

Based on the Novel Monkey Shines by Michael Stewart

Monkey Shines is quality entertainment from director George A. Romero. Much like famous rappers, great horror directors often do their best (or at least most well-received) work right out of the gate, only to spend decades laboring over increasingly diminished returns. Often this critical and/or commercial appraisal is unfair, but it is arguably true that, for example, Nas never again put out an album as good as his debut, Illmatic, or that John Carpenter has never equaled or exceeded his early work of the 1970s and ’80s, though his late-period Masters of Horror film, Cigarette Burns (2005), showed the kind of genius not seen in his films for about a decade up to that point. Tobe Hooper is another filmmaker who never quite lived up to the promise of his brilliant breakthrough feature, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), despite doing some pretty quality follow-up work such as Salem’s Lot (1979) and Poltergeist (1982), though of course producer Steven Spielberg is commonly recognized as the real creative force behind the latter.

George A. Romero is generally considered to be one of these unlucky filmmakers as well, and while it is true that he never topped his chilling debut feature, Night of the Living Dead (1968), there is a worthwhile body of work to examine in later decades, and his 1988 film Monkey Shines is among his best work, along with films like Martin (1976), Creepshow (1982) and, of course, the original Dead trilogy (I haven’t seen his latest, 2009’s Survival of the Dead, but based on the previous two – 2005’s Land of the Dead and 2007’s Diary of the Dead – I feel relatively comfortable relegating the new Dead trilogy to the same scorn-pile as the new Star Wars trilogy). Read More

Julie & Julia

Posted 28 Jun 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Julie & Julia, USA, 2009 Julie and Julia isn't just a film about cooking.

Written and Directed by Nora Ephron

Based on the Books Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme

Julie and Julia isn’t just a film about cooking. No, it’s much more than that. It’s a film about finishing whatever it is that you start, setting goals for yourself, and achieving those goals despite whatever it is that you may consider odds. Julia Child (Meryl Streep) worked as a government clerk before she discovered her flare and passion for cooking, and Julie Powell (Amy Adams) did the same. The similarities between the two leads are fascinating, so much so that you would almost expect Julie’s last name to start with a “C,” but, thankfully, real life isn’t so cliche. The actresses in the two lead roles each bring their signature styles to the forefront and flip them upside down to bring us not only two of the best performances of the year, but two of the best performances of their careers. Adams, who is generally extremely chipper and very upbeat, plays an utter bitch who becomes so involved in herself that she refuses to see how her actions raze the world around her, and Streep’s approach, while technically similar to her other lauded performances in that she adopts an accent and an obvious demeanor, is strikingly different. She doesn’t attempt to tone down the cartoonish nature of the larger-than-life Julia Child; rather, she celebrates the icon and gives new breath to someone who should be more prevalent in the public eye.

Julie Powell is a writer and a cubicle worker, who suffers from an all-too-human ailment: she doesn’t have it in her to finish what she starts; and Julia Child seems, early on, to have trouble finding something, anything at all, to start. Eventually, through a series of small failures, Julie decides to cook her way through Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. 365 days, 536 recipes. Can she do it? Only time (and an Internet connection, mixed with the curiosity of the user) can tell. Read More

Robots

Posted 23 Aug 2009 — by contributor
Category Animation, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Corey Birkhofer

Robots, USA, 2005

Directed by Chris Wedge and Carlos Saldanha

Rodney Copperbottom and Herb Copperbottom

Hello again, folks. Thanks for checking in. This time around, I’d like to switch gears from live-action and focus on a 20th Century Fox animation called Robots. Being a huge fan of all forms of animation, from old fashioned cell to state-of-the-art CG, the little kid inside of me still gets a little giddy every time I’m about to watch an animated film I haven’t seen yet. It was no different when I happened upon a film released in 2005 that I had heard very little about, called Robots. Now I’ll go and see just about anything Pixar puts out, but I’ve had mixed feelings when it comes to Fox’s animation attempts. I want to see Fox put out great works so Pixar has some competition to keep them on their toes, but unfortunately, Robots was definitely a movie that I did not get into.

Spoiler Alert

The premise is simple: the Copperbottoms (voiced by Stanley Tucci and Dianne Wiest) are a happy robot couple who live in their peaceful world, filled with spare parts and resources in abundance. They decide to build their own robot son, Rodney Copperbottom (voiced by Ewan McGregor) and raise him the best they can. Rodney is a good son with dreams of becoming an inventor like his hero Bigweld (voiced by Mel Brooks). Rodney’s inventions never seem to quite work out the way he intends, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to show his latest invention to Bigweld and become a famous inventor in the big city. So here we have a simple “small town boy wants to make it in the big city” premise that seems like a reasonable enough base from which to build. Despite its lack of originality, I was still intrigued enough to go along for the ride at this point. Unfortunately, things went downhill from here.

Read More