Month: February 2013

21 and Over (2013)

“From the writers of The Hangover” comes 21 and Over, another comedy about people getting really drunk and then having a bunch of crude and insane things happen to them. The difference here is that the three leads are not trying to find their buddy; they’re instead trying to find their buddy’s house. Oh, and the buddy whose house they’re trying to find has passed out and has to be carried from place to place as the circumstances around them continue to get more dire. Let’s back up a bit. It’s Jeff Chang’s (Justin Chon) 21st birthday. He’s a pre-med student who has a big interview the next morning. His best friends, Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin), have come to his apartment to surprise him and take him out for drinks, as is the American custom. Upon learning that the biggest interview of his life is the next day, Casey does the responsible thing and says that those plans can be postponed. Miller threatens to keep Jeff Chang up all night if he doesn’t come out. “One drink,” we’re told. Like that’s going to happen. We don’t even see Jeff Chang resist the party once it starts. He’s loaded by the time we’ve zoomed forward in time, and only gets worse over the montage depicting the group’s bar-hopping. Eventually, he’s passed out and time is running out...

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Breach (2007)

The problem with Breach is that you know how it has to end. If you don’t know the story of FBI agent Robert Hanssen, and you don’t know that he’s currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of spying for Russia (and the former Soviet Union) for over two decades, then don’t worry, as the film’s opening scene is going to show you. We find out about the conviction, and from that point on, we know the exact road that the film has to take, thus removing any tension that there could be. At least, that’s what I thought would be the case. Admittedly, there are some scenes in which the tension is zapped because of us knowing the conclusion, but there are just as many that still manage to make you breathe slower, make your skin crawl, and raise your heartbeat. This is a very engaging and, at times, thrilling spy drama. It’s way more about the journey — how Hanssen was captured and how he slipped in order to allow for that to happen — than the destination, but if you want a good movie about the case, director Billy Ray has given you one. The film begins with a youthful FBI employee, Eric O’Neill (Ryan Phillippe), hoping to one day become an agent. That’s the end goal, he thinks, and once he gets there, life...

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The Rundown (2003)

I watched The Rundown the night before writing up this review, and I struggled — and for the longest time, failed — to remember that I even watched it. I knew I watched two movies before going to bed, and I knew what the other one was, but I couldn’t even think of a single moment from The Rundown. It was the title that eluded me; it was the entire production. If that doesn’t sound like a reason to avoid it, I don’t know what exactly you’re looking for. It doesn’t speak terribly highly of an action film when you can’t remember a single moment about it not even 24 hours later without really thinking hard. I suppose that’s probably giving away exactly what I thought about it too early, but I do remember points when I was having fun; I just can’t remember them now. There are movies out there that are fairly enjoyable in the moment but mean absolutely nothing just ten minutes after you watch them. The Rundown is one of these movies. You have no reason to watch it other than to kill a couple of hours. It’s sufficient at doing that. The basic set-up seems oddly familiar, even though I can’t think of a movie that used it exactly as it is here. The Rock plays a man named Beck, who is a “retrieval...

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Movie Review of ‘The Bridge’ (2006)

The Bridge¬†kicks off with a montage of serene everyday goings-on at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. It’s here where director Eric Steel lulls us into a false sense of security through shots of birds flying over the water, waves breaking into the harbour, and pedestrians going about their ordinary business. But then a middle-aged man climbs over the tiny barrier at the side of the bridge, and leaps into the abyss below without a moment’s hesitation. You may initially believe this to be the product of elaborate stunt-work or digital effects, but it’s the real deal. It sets the tone for what is about to come. And if you cannot stomach this staggering initial footage of a real suicide, you will not be able to deal with the rest of this ghoulish documentary, which contains authentic footage of numerous suicides. The Golden Gate Bridge has the dubious distinction of being the world’s most popular suicide destination, with citizens leaping off the bridge once every fortnight on average. Throughout 2004, Steel and his team set up cameras on both the north and south sides of the bridge, recording all day for the entire year to capture images of people falling into the water below. During the year, twenty-four people committed suicide, and Steel’s team captured twenty-three of them on camera. It’s powerful stuff, though we often only see either just...

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A Scanner Darkly (2006)

The first thing that you’ll notice about A Scanner Darkly is the way that it was put together. This is a rotoscoped picture, meaning that every frame of live action filmed was drawn over by a team of animators. It’s not completely animation, but it mostly is. It gives the film a very unique look, and while it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to use it in a normal film, this isn’t a normal film. It’s about drug use and paranoia, and the delusions that the characters feel are represented more accurately in this rotoscoped setting. On a more practical level, this type of film allows for potentially expensive scenes to be made just as cheaply as any others. For instance, the opening scene shows us one character, Charles (Rory Cochrane), covered in green bugs. They come out of his hair and other areas of his body, and even after he thinks he’s exterminated them, more appear. They even show up on his dog. Doing this with CGI would be much more expensive and look a whole lot worse. Done here, the bugs look as real as anything else in the film. A Scanner Darkly‘s budget was under $10 million, for the record. The film follows the lives of five people, all of whom live in a society seemingly ruled by drugs. Their lives are, at least. The...

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