Monthly Archives: June 2010

Food, Inc.

The current method of raw food production is largely a response to the growth of the fast food industry since the 1950s. The production of food overall has changed more so in the past decades than in any time in human history. The industry is controlled by a handful of multinational corporations, and health and safety are often overlooked by the companies focused on the bottom line and they themselves are often overlooked by government in an effort to provide inexpensive, unhealthy food regardless of the negative consequences.


9 out of 10

I should say two things: 1. I’m a vegetarian, so there may be a bias in my opinion of this movie. 2. I’m also a journalist (though not in the field anymore). But I still can recognize quality reporting and investigation. This film has both in spades.

There was nothing in this film I wasn’t aware of, but I think it’s message needs to be heard by the masses. Corporate bottom lines have changed the quantity, quality and type of foods we eat. There’s no debate about that. This isn’t a film that preaches for all to become vegans. It’s about the search for the origins of where our food comes — whether it’s the corporate ag controlled crops or the massive slaughter houses where animals live in the worst conditions, are injected with hormones, and how those affect our health. You should know what you’re putting inside your body.

I know the truth is always somewhere in the middle. I find Michael Moore films (Fahrenheit 911, Sicko) frustrating because he goes for shock and drama, and often skips or misrepresents information. But Moore’s films could be stronger if he just showed his hand rather than pulling stunts. Food, Inc.’s director Robert Kenner pulls no punches, doesn’t go over the top with drama or spectacle. He simply lets the lens tell the story, and it’s one everyone needs to hear.

Toy Story 3

Woody, Buzz and the whole gang are back. As their owner Andy prepares to depart for college, his loyal toys find themselves in daycare where untamed tots with their sticky little fingers do not play nice. It’s all for one and one for all as they join Barbie’s counterpart Ken, a thespian hedgehog named Mr. Pricklepants and a pink, strawberry-scented teddy bear called Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear to plan their great escape.

Rating: 10 out of 10

There is something so magical about the ages between 4 and 10.  There’s no limitation on what we can achieve, who we could become, or what we can imagine.  To date, there are few, if any, films that convey the sense of child-like wonder as the Toy Story films have. Toy Story 3 is the best of all 3.  It’s about so much more than just toys coming to life.  It’s about the loss of innocence and the time to say goodbye to childish things and move on.

It picks up around eight years after Toy Story 2.  Andy, the little boy from the first and second films, is all grown up and getting ready to move to college.  Many of the toys are gone from the previous installments but Andy has held onto his favorite ones in his old toy box.  When he has to clean up his room before moving away, there’s a mixup with his mother and the toys end up being donated to a daycare.  From there, it’s 100 minutes of pure fun that will make you laugh, cheer, and cry. The animation is even more stellar and the performances of all the voice actors is as good as ever.  But, the secret to Pixar’s success is their team of writers that put together film after film of brilliant stories that always capture our imagination and make us feel just like we did before we had to grow up.  Toy Story 3 is their best film to date.

Top 5 kids movies of the 80s

This was a tough list, because there are some great children’s movies that didn’t make the list, like “The Neverending  Story” “The Little Mermaid” and “Labyrinth” and “E.T.” We also should mention that movies like “The Breakfast Club” were not included because those are more targeted to teens. These are movies targeted at kids and families. There was a great selection of kids flicks in the 80s, and these are the ones we hold closest to our hearts.

5. The Goonies: This movie would be higher on the list if it weren’t for a couple corny monologues about “Our time down here” and wishes not coming true at the bottom of a well. But all things considered, this is a classic that’s withstood time. This movie doesn’t feel super 80s, either. Sure, the fashion is a little lame, but this movie could be made now and be a success. Chester Copperpot would be proud.

4. Stand by Me: This was a very sentimental film, but it knew when to pull back and lighten the moment with humor, fantasy and suspense. While the storyline may seem bleak for children — a group of boys goes on the search for the body of a missing boy — the fibers of this film are strong because it’s really about a universal subject all children face: the loss of innocence. All of these characters are someone we knew as children, the abused, the insecure, the weak, the arrogant, the dreamer. It’s not about the goal, it’s about the bonds between friends and the challenges in life they’re trying to escape.

3. The Princess Bride: This film has it all — adventure, romance, hilarious characters, delightful villains, an enchanting world and a classic story with a fresh voice. Rob Reiner did a stupendous job of bringing a romance/fantasy movie that didn’t take itself too seriously. There are elements to this story that can be enjoyed by all ages.

2. Back to the Future: Don’t need money, don’t need fame, don’t need no credit card to ride this train…. But you do need plutonium. I ❤ back to the future. I love Doc Brown, Einstein the dog, Marty, the McFly family, the mean principal, the DeLorean, Biff, and even the soundtrack. Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump) brings us a fun, adventurous film that bridged the gap between 80s kids and their parents who grew up in the 50s and 60s. I even love the sequels. If you don’t like this movie, you can make like a tree and get outta here.

1. Karate Kid: I must have seen this movie six times in the theater when I was a kid. I adored it. My brother and I karate chopped each other into oblivion — crane kicks and all. This is one of the best coming-of-age movies ever, with a wonderful combination of a come-from-behind tale, action, comedy, and drama. Pat Morita was flawless in his delivery of Mr. Kesuke Miyagi, the teacher, the father figure, the wise man with a broken heart and no family. But he finds those parts of himself again in Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio), a Jersey kid new to California that gets picked on by a group of local karate bullies. The two bond, Daniel grows into a man, and becomes stronger while  Miyagi grows softer, less rigid. This is a movie that will always live on — even if there’s remakes. Sweep the leg.

Double Identity

In Chechnya, an American doctor (Val Kilmer) takes a detour in life when he helps a mysterious woman (Izabella Miko) escape from her would-be assailant. He gets caught in the middle of a diamond smuggling, mafia ring when his identity is mixed with another man and he ends up going through a dangerous series ov events as he tries to escape criminals, spies, double spies, and the country. Directed by Dennis Dimmster (Cold Heart).

Rating: 4 out of 10

It’s a shame when a good cast is wasted. This movie was full of solid, not spectacular, but good performances. Each cast member, from Kilmer to the stunning Miko, down to side villains, were believable in a world that was sharp with a nice foreign backdrop for a spy/thriller film.

However, this movie went nowhere. Kilmer and Miko meet on the street when Miko, a spy, is spotted taking pictures of criminals. To escape, she approaches Kilmer, a doctor, and kisses him and he gives her a ride to help her escape. After that, their paths cross again, accept Kilmer’s identity is switched and the villains chasing Kilmer are the same Miko is after. There is no character or relationship development between the two, other than they kiss every time they see each other.

In the end, we’re given some typical chases, gun fights, kidnappings, double agents, and lots and lots and lots of characters that add little to the film. This was a confusing script that didn’t really go anywhere. Our good actors, settings and decent dialogue are squashed under the weight of bad direction that goes nowhere leaving the viewer with little to care about in its characters or plot.

Tony’s Netflix Watch It Now: The Killing

The Movie Brothers welcomes Tony D’Arcangelis, an established sports and fantasy sports writer and an avid movie lover. Tony is a big fan of Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature, as are we — there’s no shortage of great films. Tony will be reviewing films and making suggestions in each of his columns to help you pick from Netflix’s massive instant library. So on with his first review, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing.”

After getting out of prison, Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden)  masterminds a complex race-track heist, but his scheme is complicated by the intervention of the wife of a teller (George Peatty) in on the scheme, the boyfriend of the wife, airport regulations, and a small dog.

Rating: 9 out of 10

As heist films go, this noir classic is near the top of my list. Kubrick penned the script with Jim Thompson – who also wrote The Grifters – a novel that eventually became an Oscar-nominated Donald Westlake screenplay (the taut 1990 flick starred John Cusack, Annette Bening and Anjelica Huston). While Kubrick’s mastery of chilly atmosphere and palpable dismay wasn’t fully developed yet in “The Killing,” its infancy can be spotted in a few of the film’s key sequences.

I’m a big fan of voiceover (when it works) and the narration here seems like Joe Friday got dropped into David Mamet’s universe – a detail I enjoyed as much as the looming tension that’s woven throughout. While we don’t learn a lot about Hayden’s Johnny – certainly not as much as we learn about his character in Dr. Strangelove – he’s an avuncular hustler we root for. He knows what he wants, he’s willing to work to get it, and he relies on everybody to know their painfully specific roles and do what’s expected of them. Johnny doesn’t like questions, but what he’s offering – a portion of a hefty racetrack take – should be worth accepting some shadiness. The lesser actors all perform competently, and if you’re a Kubrick buff, you’ll recognize Brooklyn-born actor Timothy Carey – who shines as reliable marksmen Nikki Arcane – from “Paths of Glory,” Kubrick’s subsequent masterpiece.

The dialogue is just what I’d expect from a young Kubrick – short and snappy lingo that elicits some chuckles, a few gasps, and more than a few satiated smiles. I’d rank the film’s final line somewhere in my top 20 of all-time, mainly for its succinct awesomeness.

Extraordinary Measures

Portland couple John and Aileen Crowley (Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell) have two children with Pompe disease, a genetic anomaly that kills children at an early age. John works in the corporate world but is determined to help find a cure for Pompe. He contacts Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford), a researcher who has a theory on an enzyme treatment. Stonehill is underfunded by the University of Nebraska and a thorny personality that drives away colleagues and potential donors. John and Aileen raise money and eventually work with venture capitalists to create a business with Stonehill. Directed by Tom Vaughn (What Happens in Vegas).

Rating: 5 out of 10

This movie has an excellent story at its core — the unending love of a father determined by any means to save his children. Rather that focusing on the human element of the story, however, we get a corporate drama and very little of the most emotional story — children and families dealing with Pompe every day.

Ego got in the way of this movie. It’s based on a real story, but it was greatly altered for the script. Ford plays Stonehill, a fictional doctor who was actually Asian in real life and nothing like his counterpart. We follow John Crowley and Stonehill on their journey through creating a business for the cure, then get bought out and face corporate culture in a giant pharmaceutical company that pushes them around. Ford was the executive producer, and while his performance was strong and in some ways held the movie together, it was the wrong direction for the picture and the character was shoe-horned while detracting from the real story. It should have been about the father and the family and the struggles the children face. Instead, we are given very little storyline with the family and a great deal of business drama. This wasn’t an awful movie, but it was boring at times.


John Skillpa (Cillian Murphy), a quiet bank clerk living in tiny, 1950s Peacock, Neb., prefers to an invisible existence. This might have to do with John’s secret: he has another personality no one knows about, a woman name Emma who each morning does his chores and cooks him breakfast before he starts his day. Then, in a moment, everything changes. While hanging laundry, a train caboose gets disconnected and crashes in the yard near Emma. People around rush to her aid, and having never seen her, assume she’s John’s wife. John’s life, very secure in unusual routing, is suddenly spinning out of control. Directed and co-written by Michael Lander (Solid Waste).

Rating: 7 out of 10

Lander brings a fascinating character, or depending on your viewpoint – characters – that are full of quirks, depth without saying too much, humanity, pain, and anxiety. He uses that foundation of depth to build an interesting movie that left me with a tight chest and a spinning stomach.

This script is brought to life by a great cast that includes Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, The Wind That Shakes the Barley), Ellen Page (Juno), Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon, Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind), and Keith Carradine (TV’s ‘Dexter’). Murphy was exceptional at delivering a man with multiple personalities — a tightly wound, introverted John and the sweet, thoughtful and personable Emma. The film opens with the train crash and moves quickly into the life of John and Emma. We learn about the world he creates with his two personalities — Emma leaves John notes of errands to run and leaves meals while John acts as if he’s never talked with people that Emma has already talked to. The two personalities clash over helping people, the investigation surrounding the train station, and the interaction with people. The suspense comes from never knowing if John will get caught.

But that’s where script problems stem. The director asks us to take some leaps of faith. No one in town ever suspects they are the same person. However, part of the anxiety the viewer feels is wondering if John will be revealed as Emma. It’s a tiny town and both Emma and John interact with a very small group of people; his boss, the mayor and his wife, and Maggie, played nicely by Page. This element, though, is distracting from other parts of the film, like a political rally Emma plans in the backyard of John’s house, a place he guards with the utmost of secrecy.

There are some distractions with the plot, but the suspense, direction, character development and acting are strong enough to carry the movie.

The Smurfs Movie teaser trailer: What the smurf?!


As if the concept of a Smurfs live-action/animated movie wasn’t exhausting enough, the trailer released today makes me want to put my face in a food processor.

I have to admit, there was a tiny part of me hoping this movie would be a smart, witty satire that adults would enjoy more than kids, like “Wall-E,” “Up” or “Toy Story.” I wasn’t expecting a deep, enchanting tale like “Spirited Away,” but at least for something really funny. That sliver of hope is gone after watching this trailer. I think it’s the hip-hop Tone Lok”Wild Thing” adapted to the Smurfs “La la” song that tipped me over the edge.

The trailer below gives us a glimpse into what I’m sure will be a brain-dead, rehashed television show adapted to film with plenty of name recognition and very little substance. This trailers smurfs.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnasus

“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” is fairy tale of Dr. Parnassus and his extraordinary ‘Imaginarium’, a traveling show where members of the audience get an irresistible opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom. Blessed with the extraordinary gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) is cursed with a dark secret. Long ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr. Nick (Tom Waits), in which he won immortality. Many centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr. Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on condition that when his first-born reached its 16th birthday she would become the property of Mr Nick. His daughter, Valentina (Lily Cole), is now rapidly approaching this coming-of-age milestone and Dr. Parnassus is desperate to protect her from her impending fate. Mr Nick arrives to collect but, always keen to make a bet, renegotiates the wager. Now the winner of Valentina will be determined by whoever saves the first five souls, promising his daughter’s hand in marriage to the man that helps him win.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Terry Gilliam brings us, what he calls, his most mature and immature film. I think he said it best, because it is his most mature film as a director, bringing us his best visual experience to date while delivering a fairy tale that is immature in all the right ways.

I’m not a huge Gilliam fan. I think he’s hit and miss. I’m not at all a fan of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Brazil” is highly overrated. But this movie brings us a true morality fairy tale about choosing between evil and good, and asks whether redemption is possible. Ledger gives a nice performance in his last film before his death, and he’s surrounded by excellent characters and performances. The film starts slowly, and it takes time to adjust to the concepts and visuals, but once it gets going, it’s hard to turn off. I’m a big fan of fairy tales. If you enjoyed “Pan’s Labyrinth,” you’ll enjoy this film.


An out-of-the-way diner becomes the unlikely battleground for the survival of the human race. When God loses faith in humankind, he sends his legion of angels to bring the Apocalypse. Humanity’s only hope lies in a group of strangers trapped in a desert diner with the Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany). Directed by Scott Stewart, a first-time filmmaker better know for his visual effects work in movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “Night at the Museum” and “Iron Man.”

Rating: 4 out of 10

This movie has some great pieces in place. Personally, I like the idea of angels coming to wipe out mankind of behalf of God, whose had enough of our crap.

There are some really solid actor in this cast, too, like Dennis Quaid, Charles S. Dutton and Tyrese Gibson, who all gave a solid performances. Bettany plays Angel Michael well as a loyal-to-the-fault angel who is spurning God’s wishes and attempting to save humanity. He is, along with a group of others, protecting Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) who is pregnant. She’s not sure who the father is, smokes, and works at the diner where they all meet. She’s not particularly likable, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to protect this baby because it will save humanity from the apocalypse that is happening all around. Angels are possessing people, turning them into zombie-like creatures that kill people.

The problem this movie has is it never answers anything. I don’t mind being left with questions. Good movies often do. But everything about this was vague. We don’t know why the baby has to live. When that’s the focus of the film, you should probably give the audience a clue. The film also doesn’t know what it wants to be — a zombie flick, or a religious epic. It’s not all that scary, either. The films visuals and effects are excellent. It’s writing, not so much.