Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Debt

Title: The Debt
Directed by: John Madden
Starring: Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Wilkinson
Genres: Drama, Thriller, Suspense
Running Time: 1 hour. 54 minutes
Release Date: August 31st, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'The Debt' is a well casted, well acted film, telling an interesting story. It is the English language remake of the Israeli thriller 'Ha-Hov', which centers on three Mossad agents on a mission to identify and apprehend Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor nicknamed the Angel of Death for his experiments on Auschwitz inmates, now suspected of living and practicing medicine in 1966 Berlin. Of course, the mission goes sideways, and 'The Debt' tells of the events that follows that failed mission, which has far-reaching consequences, all the way to current time.

At times, 'The Debt' is a mix of white-knuckle tension, and the slow pace of stale memories, long-kept secrets and regret. The subject is meaningful, at times even gripping, the performances are solid, but somehow 'The Debt' fails to reach its full potential.
Grade: 6.5

Friday, August 26, 2011


Title: Colombiana
Directed by: Oliver Megaton
Starring: Zoe Zaldana, Michael Vartan, Amandla Stenberg
Genres: Action, Thriller
Running Time: 1 hour. 45 minutes
Release Date: August 26th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: 'Colombiana' is a classic "child-sees-parents-get-killed-grows-up-seeking-revenge" tale, and as such it is quite predictable. It is action packed, explosive, and filled with fight scenes.

Of course, the notion that a 95 lbs chick would be able to throw 200+ lbs guys around like she's had a dose of Hulk-making radiation is completely ridiculous, unless she really was a female Hulk. And as Zoe Saldana does not bust through her clothes and turn green in this flick (although, with the wardrobe she does have at her disposal, we get to see just as much of Ms. Saldana as if she would have exploded out of her clothes), the notion is back to being ridiculous. But this is popcorn entertainment, so let's not focus on that detail.

All in all, 'Colombiana' delivers what's expected; a sexy action flick, all style and no substance, for some light entertainment. Bring your teenage little brother and his High School buddies, they seem to be the target audience for this flick.
Grade: 6

Friday, August 12, 2011

30 Minutes or Less

Title: 30 Minutes or Less
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Danny R. McBride, Aziz Ansari, Michael Pena, Nick Swardson, Jesse Eisenberg, Fred Ward
Genres: Action, Comedy
Running Time: 1 hour. 23 minutes
Release Date: August 12, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: While '30 Minutes or Less' does have a few funny moments, the absolute crap of the rest of the film vastly outweighs the moments that might be considered worth while, and the resulting film is of Walk-Out quality. In fact, I did walk out of this one, and unless you're certain you'll live forever, and have 1 hour 23 to spare, don't waste your time.
Grade: 3

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Help

Title: The Help
Directed by: Tate Taylor
Starring: Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Ahna O Reilly
Genres: Drama, Adaptation
Running Time: 2 hours. 17 minutes
Release Date: August 10th, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: After having thoroughly enjoyed the book, I was really looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation of 'The Help'. And it didn't disappoint. The movie was solid, well casted and well acted, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it mentioned again around award season.
Viola Davis, is wonderful in this film, as are most of the cast, and I feel they did capture the essence of the book, even though it is not a perfect word-for-word adaptation, but when is it ever?

I enjoyed how the movie-version of some of the really funny scenes of the book, the toilet scene, in particular, as well as how the movie portrayed the varying scenes of sadness from the book.
Overall, a good, solid film that I would recommend, although not as highly as the book.
If you liked 'The Secret Lives of Bees', this one will be right up your alley.

Grade: 8

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Whistleblower

Title: The Whistleblower
Directed by: Larysa Kondracki
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathairn
Genres: Drama, Thriller, Biography
Running Time: 1 hour. 52 minutes
Release Date: August 5th, 2011
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'The Whistleblower', a drama based on the experiences of a police officer from Nebraska, Kathryn Bolkovac, who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia. During her mission, she uncovered a human trafficking ring involving the UN. However, I would not call it a drama, I would call it a thriller.

A thriller in which we get to follow Ms. Bolkovac as she comes in contact with the girls who are being/have been sold into a lifetime of sex slavery, and what happens when she tries to ring the alarm through her work channels at the UN. It's a horrifying look into the life of these girls, especially considering that this is not dreamt up by some Hollywood writer, looking for the next big blockbuster; it based on the truth. As are the government efforts going into keeping Ms. Bolkovak quiet. Interesting, indeed.

This film is brutal, hearth wrenching, even horrifying at times. And most frightening of all, very real. Rachel Weisz is great as Kathryn Bolkovac, and the rest of the cast, mostly unknown to me previously, also impressed with the authenticity of their portrayals. All in all, a film worth seeing, if for no other reason than to bring attention to the issues it represents.
Grade: 9