Friday, May 25, 2007

Hot Fuzz

Hot Fuzz' is the action-packed new comedy from the makers of the hit movie 'Shaun of the Dead.' This cop action movie farce was written by Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright and pays homage to "Point Break" and the "Bad Boys" movies.

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the finest cop London has to offer, with an arrest record 400% higher than any other officer on the force. He's so good, he makes everyone else look bad. As a result, Angel's superiors send him to a place where his talents won't be quite so embarrassing -- the sleepy, seemingly crime-free village of Sanford.

Once there, he is partnered with police officer Danny Butterman (Nick Frost). The son of likable Police Chief Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent), Danny is a huge action movie fan and believes his new big-city partner might just be his chance to experience the life of gunfights and car chases he so longs for. Angel is quick to dismiss this as childish fantasy and Danny's enthusiasm only adds to Angel's growing frustration.

However, as a series of deadly "accidents' hits the village, Angel is convinced that Sanford is not the sleepy town seems to try to portray. As the accidents increase in number, Angel realizes that there is something amiss and that real police work is needed.

The cast includes Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine (In America), Steve Coogan(Night at the Museum), Timothy Dalton (The Living Daylights), Bill Nighy (Love Actually), and Edward Woodward (The Equalizer), among its great cast of actors.

I found this movie extremely entertaining as well as laugh out loud funny. I would definitely watch this movie again to catch some of the lines I missed due to others laughter in the theater. I would put it in my top twenty best movies, but it does not have staying power of the movies in my top five. It is not timeless in its humor, but rather cashes in on a particular type of movie which can date it in the future. I do recommend this movie for anyone who is looking for a good laugh, it is light-hearted and funny.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

The Queen

This movie was about the two week period leading up to and the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana. The Royal family, especially HM Queen Elizabeth II, wanted to keep it a private matter, but the Prime Minister - Tony Blair - felt that the people of England needed a public show of mourning.

Helen Mirren plays HM Queen Elizabeth II. It was a good movie and Helen Mirren was great as the Queen. The movie showed the battle between the Royal family's need to keep the funeral a private affair and protecting the young princes - William and Harry - and the British public that needed the Royal Family to help them heal. Some of the footage was original footage of British citizens and funeral footage which made the movie seem more real. Helen Mirren was able to convey the emotional turmoil and trying to remain dignified. This came across as robotic and emotionless which caused a disconnect between the Royal family and the public.

While this movie was good and depicted a true story in a comprehensible manner, it is not good enough to make it into my top 5 movies. I enjoyed the movie and it seemed accurate, but it is not a movie I will want to see over and over again. If you are interested in the Royal family this is definitely a must see and I would not be surprised if Helen Mirren receives an Oscar for her performance.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Children of Men

The movie is set in 2027, in a time where the youngest person in the world is 18 years of age. The medical community is at a loss as to what is causing the infertility in the world's population and mankind is heading for extinction. All of the world's societies have collapsed and England is the last safe haven, so it is drawing the world's refugees. By some miracle, a woman has become pregnant, but in the current climate of violence and political/nationalistic sects, the woman and baby's only hope for a safe haven is getting to a boat owned by the Human Project.
I thought this was a really good movie over all. The plot was good and kept me guessing who was the "good" guys and who were the "bad" guys. Over the course of the movie, each character showed their true colors which kept me intrigued.
This movie does not move into my top 5 favorites of all time for a couple of reasons. One was it was a violent movie and a very realistic violent movie at that. While I enjoyed the movie, due to the violence I do not think that I could watch it over and over again like I could with the others on my list. The other reason is that towards the end of the movie there is a scene where the main characters are running through a war zone and one of the extras is killed and blood splatter falls on the camera lens. This blood stays on the lens for the rest of the sequence. If this was shot in a documentary style, where a camera would be following the characters this would work, but it was not so it was merely distracting. Good movie and interesting and engaging story line, but needs some editing.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction in some ways reminds me of Being John Malcovich. It starts with characters who for all intensive purposes are unhappy and in a rut, until something happens to change their circumstance. In this movie, Harold Crick is an IRS audit agent whose life changes when he starts to hear a woman's voice that happens to be narrating his life. The voice is Kay Eiffel, an author trying to write a novel which so far has taken ten years to create. As it turns out she is Harold Crick's narrator and is also writing Harold's life. This would have been fine for Harold, except Kay writes tragic novels in which the main character always dies.
I found this movie interesting as well as funny and sad at the same time. This is the type of movie that I think one has to watch more than once to catch all the nuances as well as some of the dialogue (laughs from the audience caused me to miss the next line). While this movie is a comedy, it is not all fun and games. I would describe this as more of a black comedy. Good thing I like black comedies (see number 5 of my top 5 favorites). Will Farrell plays a sad and unhappy character which is a change from his normal buffoon-like characters. I liked Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman , and Maggie Gyllenhall's characters as well. While I enjoyed the film and will probably see it again, it did not oust any of my top 5 favorites. (I hope I don't get audited due to this review - TAX MAN!)

Happy Feet

Happy Feet is March of the Penguins meets The Inconvenient Truth meets A Bug's Life. Empire penguins meet their mate through song, but Mumble was not born with a good voice but with another gift - the gift of dance (tap dance to be exact). He does not fit in because of his lack of song and because of his "happy feet". He is ostracized and sent away due to this difference.

There are many facets to this movie, which as an animated movie geared towards children, may miss their mark. There are several plot lines as well as lessons that this movie is trying to convey which younger children may not understand. One lesson the story covers is that being different is ok and can be a blessing in the end. This story line was easy to follow. The second lesson is where I think, younger children are going to have some trouble following. The elder Empire penguins think that Mumble has angered the great "Guin" and that is why the fish have gone away. Mumble's explanation is that the "Aliens" (Humans) are to blame. Mumble is sent away and he goes to try to find the Aliens to determine why they have taken the fish. This is a lot for a younger child to understand. There are other mentions of human's tragic and negative thumbprint on the animal world and ecology in general that I feel will be lost on much of the target audience.
With that being said, I do find the movie a fun way to teach the dangers of human's negligence to the environment. Older children will understand the dangers that humans have created in the habitats of the animal world through pollution and waste. The movie is 87 minutes long and will keep the attention of a three year old for much of that time as I witnessed by sitting next to one in the theater. The singing and dancing did help with keeping her attention as did the fact that there was enough room in the aisle for her dance with the penguins and not bother anyone. While it was an entertaining movie with a good message, I would not put it in my top 5 favorite movies. This movie does provide a good soundtrack!

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sweet Land

As Inge buries her husband Olaf on their Minnesota farm in 1968, we relive her life story as she tells her grown grandson about how she arrived from Norway in 1920 as Olaf's postal bride. Being a German in the United States only a few years after the end of World War I was difficult especially when one does not speak English but it is even harder when you are discriminated against. No one wanted Inge and Olaf to marry, but they learned to like each other and then love each other despite their hardships.

This is a brief description of the independent film. I loved this movie because it is relevant today even though it is a period piece. It is a love story that shows how love can triumph over discrimination. Just as many Muslims are stereotyped and discriminated against now due to the war in Iraq, the same thing happened to Germans after World War I. Slowly over time Inge was able to win the love and respect of her husband as well as those in her community despite her heritage.
I also have a special connection to this story because it is also tells the story of Norwegians emigrating to the United States in the mid 1800s and early 1900s in order to make a better life for themselves and their families. My great grandfather and great grandmother on my father's side immigrated separately in the mid 1800s to Minnesota. They met and married and eventually had my grandfather. I was able to see what it was like for my grandparents on both sides of my family growing up in Minnesota in the 1920s. All of my grandparents grew up in and raised families in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My grandfather was Norwegian while my other grandparents were Swedish. All of them were children in 1920 and were just a twinkle in each others eyes, but the scenery was similar to the scenery in pictures of them as children.

Grandpa & Nana Mortenson
Grandma & Grandpa Anderson

While it is not on my list of five greatest movies of all time, it is definitely in the top twenty. The movie was released in October 2006. If you get the chance to see it and you like love stories as well as period pieces, you may want to see this one.