Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kite Runner Review

When, a few months back, Marc Forster was announced as the director of the upcoming 22nd James Bond movie I was cautiously stoked (I love much of his previous work, but I was worried about a non-action director doing a mainly action movie). After watching this film, though, I'm absolutely terrified of how it will turn out. This film's (thankfully) limited action scenes are so ineptly filmed and constructed that it defies explanation. How the hell is this guy gonna pull off a Bond movie?!? Beyond that I found this to be a really mixed bag. I really disliked the book (I saw it as one of those 'great books...for people that don't read books') but I was cautiously optimistic that it might work better as a film. Much of what's here really does work. Some of the performances are superb, Homayoun Ershadi as Baba and Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada as Young Hassan in particular, while others are unbelievably amateurish and awful (such as Elham Ehsas as Young Assef). Despite the issues with performances for a good deal of this I thought it really worked and I felt myself really moved when [SPOILER] Amir gets Hassan's last letter [End SPOILER] almost despite itself. The film is very emotionally manipulative...but I think that's far more a product of the source material. Unfortunately the PUTRID action scene really ripped me out of the film it felt so awful and out of place. Other than that scene, I think Forster did pretty much as good a job as could have been done with this material.

Overall Score: 6/10

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Am Legend Review

This was basically 70% of a really really good movie and 30% of simply terrible. Will Smith really brings something to the table of this film. His performance is surprisingly good (considering the material) and he has really grown a lot as an actor in recent year, especially in the realm of facial expression. The early scenes of the film (basically a day-in-the-life in post-apocalyptic NYC) are really wonderful. The designs are convincing and, frankly, amazing and are truly deserving of an IMAX viewing. The last segment of the film, more zombie/vampire focused, is unredeemingly awful. The flashback scenes to the disease outbreak are very effective, if somewhat manipulative. The villains, a mash-up of zombie and vampire traits, are the worst part of the film. Rendered in piss poor CGI that often seems ripped straight out of 1999's The Mummy, the creatures are neither frightening nor believable. Recently 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later have had similar running zombies that are far more effective when rendered with actors and make-up. Alternately, The Descent (maybe the best horror movie of the last 15 years) used male ballet dancers to craft almost otherworldly movement patterns to tremendous effect. Just because we have the tools of CGI, doesn't mean we NEED to use them constantly (plus less CGI would keep budgets down). Star Wars, done largely with scale models, still has more effective visual effects than a huge number of CGI heavy films, Francis Lawrence should learn from that. This could have been so much more. The later action scenes are surprisingly inept (especially considering that Lawrence's prior film Constantine at least had workable action segements) in design and editing. They underuse a truly great performance from Will Smith as well. In one scene, about 2/3 of the way through the film, the film camera focuses entirely on his face during a difficult moment: the effect is astounding and truly moving. Additionally the ending is relatively miserable as is a late introduction of religious themes. The early designs and premise are so great (I think I'd have enjoyed a two hour movie of just Will Smith's life in empty NYC quite a bit) that it makes the poor creature design and weak concluding chapter stand out all the more. It's worth seeing, just temper your expectations from the awesome trailer.

Overall Score: 6/10 (seen on IMAX, possibly a 5 on regular)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

List of Steroid Users from the Mitchell Report (and otherwise)

Up to Date List of Implicated Steroid Users:

Manny Alexander
Chad Allen
Carlos Almanzar*
Wilson Alvarez
Rick Ankiel
David Bell
Mike Bell
Marvin Benard
Gary Bennett, Jr
Rafael Betancourt*
Larry Bigbie
Barry Bonds
Ricky Bones
Bret Boone
Kevin Brown
Paul Byrd
Alex Cabrera
Mike Cameron**
Ken Caminitti
Jose Canseco
Ozzie Canseco
Mark Carreon
Jason Christiansen
Howie Clark
Roger Clemens
Paxton Crawford
Jack Cust
Brenden Donnelly
Chris Donnels
Lenny Dykstra
Bobby Estalella
Chuck Finley
Matt Franco
Ryan Franklin*
Eric Gagne
Jason Giambi**
Jeremy Giambi
Jay Gibbons
Troy Glaus
Juan Gonzalez
Jason Grimsley
Jose Guillen
Jerry Hairston, Jr
Felix Heredia*
Matt Herges
Phil Hiatt
Glenallen Hill
Dave Hollins
Darren Holmes
Tom House
Todd Hundley
Yusaku Iriki*
Wally Joyner
David Justice
Chuck Knoblauch
Tim Laker
Mike Lansing
Matt Lawton*
Jim Leyritz
Paul Lo Duca
Nook Logan
Josias Manzanillo
Dave Martinez
Gary Matthews, Jr
Mark McGwire
Cody McKay
Kent Mercker
Bart Miadich
Agustin Montero*
Hal Morris
Ryan Morse*
Guillermo Mota*
Denny Neagle
Rafael Palmeiro*
Jim Parque
Neifi Perez**
Andy Pettitte
Adam Piatt
Jorge Piedra*
Todd Pratt
Stephen Randolph
Adam Riggs
Juan Rincon*
Armando Rios
Brian Roberts
John Rocker
Ivan Rodriguez
Juan Salas*
Alex Sanchez*
F.P. Santangelo
Benito Santiago
Tony Saunders
Scott Schoeneweis
Dan Sefarini*
David Segui
Gary Sheffield
Termel Sledge*
Mike Stanton
Jamal Strong*
Miguel Tejada
Derrick Turnbow*
Mo Vaughn
Ismael Valdes
Randy Velarde
Ron Villone
Fernando Vina
Rondell White
Jeff Williams
Matt Williams
Todd Williams
Steve Woodard
Kevin Young
Gregg Zaun

* = Failed Test
** = Failed Banned Substance (non steroid) Test

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

Well this is a pretty damn good poster. I don't think I could possibly be more excited for the new Indy...

Grace is Gone Review

Well that was tremendously depressing... Cusack is nothing short of amazing as a card carrying Republic torn up by the loss of his wife in Iraq. The film's action is made up of Cusack's adventures taking his daughters cross country to an amusement pa...(read more)rk to distract him and them from his inability to express the loss. Cusack really becomes the character in a roll that's quite out of the ordinary for him. Both of his daughters are great young actresses, especially the older daughter Shelan O'Keefe. The problem for me is that the film doesn't really go anywhere. The direction is boring and I found myself watching with the same sense of moribund dread that accompany a viewing of Saw or Hostel. Something awful is coming (the revelation to the daughters) and everything else just feels perfunctory. Despite all the issues in plot and direction (it's painfully bland) the performances are really amazing and make this worthy viewing.
Overall Score: 6/10


Nearly everything about this movie is absolutely wonderful. James McAvoy, criminally underated in last year's Last King of Scotland, had damn well get a best actor nomination for his work here. His work is simply remarkable. Keira Knightley, who I've...(read more) not been a huge fan of, is really great convincing and emotive. Both actors are so exquisite as acting with merely a facial expression that they can convey so much so effortlessly without words (the cafe scene is a primo example). Both the 13 and 18 year old Briony actresses are wonderful, with a special nod to young Saoirse Ronan who acts with a mature sense far beyond her years. The story is moving but also frustrating. I often found myself not so much moved but more angry and frustrated at the film's situations (but not in a bad way). Joe Wright's direction is perfect. His tracking/dolley shot across Dunkirk just before the evacuation (if it was truly done in just one take) is the single most impressive shot I've ever seen in a film. It's simply spellbinding. I recommend this movie wholeheartedly (yes, even for guys).
Overall Score: 9/10

Friday, December 7, 2007

First Post

I'll be setting up this blog to track my thoughts focused on the Yankees, film, the Giants, Holy Cross basketball, the Knicks, TV, Video Games and, if law school allows it, the occasional book.

I guess a quick rundown of my film rankings reviews for 2007 would be in order.

2007 Movies:1408: 6/10

28 Weeks Later: 7/10

30 Days of Night: 5/10

300: 6/10

3:10 to Yuma: 10/10

Alpha Dog: 3/10

Amazing Grace: 7/10

American Gangster: 8/10

American Pastime: 6/10

Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The: 6/10

Astronaut Farmer, The: 6/10

Awake: 3/10

Away from Her: 8/10

Babylon 5: The Lost Tales - Voices in the Dark: 3/10

Battlestar Galactica: Razor: 7/10

Because I Said So: 4/10

Bee Movie: 4/10

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead: 6/10

Beowulf: 8/10

Black Snake Moan: 4/10

Blades of Glory: 7/10

Blood and Chocolate: 4/10

Bobby Z: 3/10

Bourne Ultimatum, The: 8/10

Brave One, The: 6/10

Breach: 8/10

Breed, The: 5/10

Bridge to Terabithia: 7/10

Bug: 2/10

Catch and Release: 3/10

Closure: 3/10

Condemned, The: 4/10

Dan in Real Life: 7/10

Darjeeling Limited, The: 7/10

Days of Glory: 5/10

Dead Silence: 3/10

Death at a Funeral: 7/10

Death Sentence: 4/10

Disturbia: 7/10

DOA: Dead or Alive: 3/10

Doctor Strange: 7/10

Dragon Wars: D-War: 2/10

Eastern Promises: 8/10

Elizabeth: The Golden Age: 4/10

Enchanted: 8/10

Epic Movie: 1/10

Evan Almighty: 4/10

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: 7/10

Flying Scotsman, The: 6/10

Fracture: 7/10

Fred Claus: 6/10

Freedom Writers: 6/10

Futurama: Bender's Big Score: 7/10

Game Plan, The: 5/10

Georgia Rule: 2/10

Ghost Rider: 6/10

Golden Compass, The: 5/10

Gone Baby Gone: 10/10

Gracie: 4/10

Gray Matters: 2/10

Grindhouse: 7/10

Hairspray: 6/10

Halloween: 6/10

Hannibal Rising: 3/10

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix: 6/10

Heartbreak Kid, The: 5/10

Hills Have Eyes 2, The: 2/10

Hitcher, The: 5/10

Hitman: 4/10

Hoax, The: 7/10

Host, The: 4/10

Hostel Part II: 6/10

Hot Fuzz: 8/10

Hunting Party, The: 7/10

I Know Who Killed Me: 1/10

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry: 5/10

In the Shadow of the Moon: 9/10

In the Valley of Elah: 7/10

Into the Wild: 9/10

Invasion, The: 4/10

Invincible Iron Man, The: 6/10

Invisible, The: 4/10

Juno: 9/10

Kickin' It Old Skool: 2/10

King of Kong, The: A Fistful of Quarters: 8/10

Kingdom, The: 7/10

Knocked Up: 7/10

Lars and the Real Girl: 8/10

Last Legion, The: 4/10

License to Wed: 5/10

Lions for Lambs: 7/10

Live Free or Die Hard: 8/10

Lives of Others, The: 9/10

Lookout, The: 5/10

Lucky You: 4/10

Lust, Caution: 5/10

Meet the Robinsons: 6/10

Messengers, The: 4/10

Michael Clayton: 9/10

Mighty Heart, A: 6/10

Mist, The: 7/10

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium: 5/10

Mr. Woodcock: 3/10

Music and Lyrics: 5/10

Nanny Diaries, The: 3/10

Next: 3/10

No Country for Old Men: 10/10

No End in Sight: 8/10

No Reservations: 5/10

Norbit: 1/10

Number 23, The: 2.3/10

Ocean's Thirteen: 7/10

Once: 10/10

Orphanage, The: 8/10

Pathfinder: 5/10

Perfect Stranger: 2/10

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: 7/10

Premonition: 4/10

Pride: 4/10

Primeval: 4/10

Ratatouille: 8/10

Reaping, The: 3/10

Reign Over Me: 6/10

Rendition: 5/10

Rescue Dawn: 8/10

Reservation Road: 7/10

Resident Evil: Extinction: 5/10

Rocket Science: 8/10

Rush Hour 3: 5/10

Savages, The: 7/10

Saw IV: 5/10

Seraphim Falls: 6/10

Shoot 'Em Up: 7/10

Shooter: 6/10

Shrek the Third: 5/10

Sicko: 7/10

Simpsons Movie, The: 7/10

Smokin' Aces: 5/10

Southland Tales: 3/10

Spider-Man 3: 6/10

Stardust: 8/10

Starter for 10: 5/10

Stomp the Yard: 2/10

Sunshine: 7/10

Superbad: 8/10

Surf's Up: 7/10

Thr3e: 3/10

TMNT: 6/10

Transformers: 8/10

Vacancy: 6/10

Waitress: 6/10

War: 3/10

We Own the Night: 6/10

Wild Hogs: 4/10

Wind That Shakes the Barley, The: 2/10

Year of the Dog: 2/10

Zodiac: 9/10

Current Top 10 for 2007

10. Zodiac

9. In the Shadow of the Moon

8. Michael Clayton

7. Into the Wild

6. Lives of Others, The

5. Juno

4. 3:10 to Yuma

3. No Country for Old Men

2. Gone Baby Gone

1. Once

Plenty more junk to come. Soon: thoughts on the potential Matsui trades, Atonement review, instincts on the academy award nominations