Archive for February, 2008

26 Feb 2008

Spring Movie Preview

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From a retro Japanese cartoon driver named Racer to a teenage take on “Chinatown,”Hollywood has plenty of reasons for students to avoid the sunshine this spring. Movies like “10,000 BC”keep the ancient war movie streak going that “300″started. From sadistic dramas like “Funny Games”to comedies like “The Rocker,”starring Rainn Wilson (“Juno”), the gamut has been covered. America’s favorite pregnant teen, Ellen Page (“Juno”), returns in “Smart People.” Jet Li and a dreadlocks-sporting Jackie Chan team up in “The Forbidden Kingdom.”Simon Pegg runs a marathon to prove his love to a woman he left at the altar in a more serious but still comical movie, “Run, Fat Boy, Run.” Indiana Jones fans await, and may be a little skeptical about Shia LaBeouf (“Transformers”) joining Harrison Ford in the long-awaited and final Indiana Jones movie. To top it off, Robert Downey Jr. blasts onto movie screens as the Batman of the Marvel comic world, Tony Stark, who moonlights as the high-tech superhero Iron Man.
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25 Feb 2008

Be Kind Rewind

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bkr-02253.jpgBeyond Jack Black’s dramatic overacting and the poorly set up plot, this film about amateur filmmakers is a huge disappointment considering the unique premise and talented actors.

When the “Be Kind Rewind”video store is in danger of being torn down, store manager Mr. Fletcher (Danny Glover, “Honeydripper”) decides to take a week off to scout other rental outlets for ideas to keep the store. While away, he puts his only employee Mike (Mos Def, “Journey to the End of the Night”) in charge and tells him not to let his idiotic mechanic friend Jerry (Jack Black, “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”) into the store.

Surely enough, after becoming magnetized from a secret mission gone bad, Jerry walks into the store and unintentionally erases all of the films. With a store full of blank tapes and a list of customers waiting for movies, Mike and Jerry decide to make their own versions of the erased films.

It’s hard to believe that “Be Kind Rewind”isn’t an automatic nominee for the worst film of the year.

In fact, the best part of the film is the beginning, which fools viewers into believing the idea of watching these amateurs make their films will be amusing every time. Once Black is electrocuted with a “gazillion”volts of electricity and survives only to be magically magnetized, this simple and possibly realistic story becomes one big joke.

“Be Kind Rewind”also fails to create any kind of character development. Black’s character is essentially the biggest retard in cinematic history since Ben Affleck’s pathetic attempt at a gangster in “Gigli.” With no explanation as to why he lives in a tinfoiled van and wears kitchen utensils to work, his jokes come off as well as President Bush’s attempts at humor. While Def’s character is more believable, his whiny, slurring accent makes him extremely hard to like.

Another downfall of the film is the presentation of the jokes. A prime example is when Black first learns he is magnetized. Through multiple barf sequences and Black’s pitiful attempts at throwing himself at metal objects, Oscar winner Michel Gondry’s script uses the same physical humor seen every week on “Family Guy.”Almost all of the jokes seem to be forced onto the audience, while there are very few that just come naturally from the cleverness of the script.

As the film progresses and the FBI inevitably forces the duo to cease their illegal venture, the movie tries to gain a heart by focusing on a legendary jazz musician who inspired Glover’s character. While it succeeds in bringing a good feeling to the oppressed film, a “too-good-to-be-true”clichéd ending destroys all momentum. As a last attempt at redemption, the film succeeds by accompanying the credits with a humorous jazz song about a man rejecting another man because his feet are too big.

“Be Kind Rewind”may have some wondering why they wasted their $9.50, but hopefully most will just be glad they got to see what flowing magnetic urine looks like.

‘Be Kind Rewind
Release Date: Feb. 22
Director: Michel Gondry
Starring: Jack Black, Danny Glover and Mos Def
Genre: Comedy
Rating: PG- 13
Grade: D

Image courtesy New Line Cinema

18 Feb 2008

Definitely Maybe

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Photo from movieweb.com

“Definitely, Maybe”is definitely unpredictable and maybe the most well-acted and charming romantic comedy of the decade.Ryan Reynolds (“The Nines”) stars as Will Hayes, a hardworking dad in the midst of an awkward divorce. One night, his daughter Maya, (Abigail Breslin, “No Reservations”) asks him about his past relationships and how he came to be with her mother. To make things interesting, Will tells the story of the three women of his life and disguises their names so Maya is forced to guess who her mother is.

Today’s typical romantic comedy has three parts: boy meets girl and strikes up a relationship; boy makes a mistake and loses girl; boy finds a way to make things right and happily ever after is reached. While “Definitely, Maybe”is indeed a romantic comedy, it succeeds by not directly following those three clichéd guidelines.

By having three different relationships to follow, the film is never dull and keeps the viewer guessing along with Maya. Will’s first relationship with Emily (Elizabeth Banks, “Fred Claus”) is probably the least entertaining but introduces Will’s kooky attitude perfectly. The film plays off today’s politics by setting the story around the ‘92 election where Will is a measly grunt on Clinton’s campaign trail. Jokes of Clinton’s lady skills ensue.

On the trail Will meets Summer (Rachel Weisz, “Fred Claus”) and April (Isla Fisher, “Hot Rod”) who complicate his already hectic life. Weisz is easily the strongest actress of the bunch and owns the screen by using her witty British charm to captivate Will. Summer also serves as a way to introduce Hampton Roth (Kevin Kline, “Trade”). Roth is a horny college professor who has an on-and-off relationship with Summer. One of his highlights includes teaching Will how to drink like a man, but his role falls apart for any Nevada viewer once he pronounces Nevada “Ne-vah-duh”during a book reading.

Throughout the story, Maya interrupts from time to time to ask some difficult questions. While most believe Breslin was the cutest thing ever in “Little Miss Sunshine,”this is by far her best role to date. Even against Reynolds’s wise-cracking remarks, she is always able to quickly and professionally pull off a great retort.

The third and final love of Will’s life, April, is truly the heart of the film. Fisher portrays April as a girl just going with the times and trying to make a living. On the other hand, there is Will who is hopelessly searching for his soul mate. The “opposites attract”chemistry between the two is undeniable even with the hilariously noticeable one-foot height difference.

With a heartwarming ending that would make any girl bawl like it was her wedding, “Definitely, Maybe”is the best Valentine’s gift Hollywood has given in quite some time.

‘Definitely, Maybe
Release Date: Feb. 14
Director: Kevin Lima
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Elizabeth Banks
Genre: Romantic, Comedy
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A-

12 Feb 2008

Close looks at the cosmos

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The Planetarium picks up two new shows to play on its IMAX planetarium.jpg

Forget Hannah Montana in Disney Digital 3-D, Fleischmann Planetarium has two new shows that only Reno has to offer in the 70 mm large-format film.

Large-format film “The Alps”and digital sky show “Extreme Planets”will show daily until Sept. 1.

Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for children under 14 and seniors 54 and older. University of Nevada, Reno students will receive a $2 discount at the door by showing their school ID.

In “The Alps,”viewers get a one-of-a-kind look at how one American mountain climber fulfilled his life’s dream by climbing Europe’s most notorious mountain range. Assistant Director of the Planetarium Dan Ruby feels that bringing the unique story of “The Alps”will encourage Reno citizens to fill the small 60-seat theater dome.
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11 Feb 2008

Persepolos

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Graphic novel adaption’s visuals outshine story

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Photo from movieweb.com

When mixing a depressing war backdrop, a girl’s soul search and witty, sarcastic humor, the outcome can be at times an overwhelmingly bland and somewhat confusing theater experience.

“Persepolis“is simply the story of one girl’s childhood seen through a series of flashbacks. With surprisingly creative and visually thrilling two-dimensional black and white animation, Marjane meticulously describes her struggle to find herself in Iran and France in the midst of a war-torn realm.

The film’s most enthralling section is the first 30 minutes when the audience is introduced to Marjane as a child. Marjane is the epitome of innocence and curiosity. Whether it be bragging to her friends about her uncle’s heroic jail time served, or stating that her main dream in life is to shave her legs, her adorability is undeniable. Her parents can’t help but be amused by her serene little world when they’re dealing with Iran’s biggest revolution in the it’s history.

As the details of the dreary and graphic battle flood the screen, Marjane’s personality is the only thing keeping the movie from becoming an overly depressing war drama.

With majestic dream-like sequences, the war and its history are laid out like a puppet show or in terms of how a child would see it. The film’s animators create visuals viewers have never seen before in black and white that keep the audience captivated to see what happens next.

Once Marjane transforms into a teenager and slowly loses her exuberant innocence, the film’s novelty begins to fade as well. The occasional clever stab at American pop-culture keeps the mood light, but the film’s growing theme of understanding and acceptance disappointingly changes the tone.

Instead of watching a joyful girl making the best of a bad situation, viewers are treated to the clichéd story of just another girl trying to find her way in life. Once her never-ending search for love begins, it is hard to tell whether you are watching an Oscar-nominated film or just another Reese Witherspoon romance.

The only stable character in the film is the spirited, infinitely wise, and seemingly never-aging grandma. Through all of Marjane’s shenanigans, grandma always has the answers to all of life’s problems.

She often steals the show by always speaking the truth of everyone. Hilarity often ensues whenever she relates other men’s insecurities to their God-given small endowments.

“Persepolis”may not keep a steady pace, but it always intrigues with its autobiographical real life depiction. Writer and director Marjane Satrapi fearlessly brought her haunting childhood to the screen with an overwhelming passion. Showing rebellion by wearing a punk denim jacket, but also accepting her culture by wearing her traditional veil, Marjane connects with every person who has been in a public school system.

While most will be captivated by the film’s unorthodox look at an unimaginable situation, others might feel like they’ve seen this story before, only told in another language.

‘Persepolis’
Release Date: Feb. 8
Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Starring: Chiara Mastroianni, Gabrielle Lopes, Danielle Darrieux
Genre: Animated, Comedy, Drama
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B-