Tag Archives: musical

Don’t Go Into The Woods

A young band heads to the woods in order to focus on writing new songs. Hoping to emerge with new music that will score them their big break, they instead find themselves in the middle of a nightmare beyond comprehension.

Rating: 2 out of 10

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A bunch of hipsters go into the woods to make a musical horror movie…

No, it’s not a joke, it’s real. It’s a genuine effort by Vincent D’Onofrio to make a slasher flick that doubles as a genuine musical, chock full o’ tunes… like a jillion songs. This has more songs than “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Singin’ In the Rain” combined. The victims are literally breaking into song as they’re being sliced and diced.

Vincent D’Onofrio, who is a talented actor, wrote and directed this flick, which I have to guess was a labor of love that he made for a dime with no-name actors. There are a couple tunes that weren’t bad, but they couldn’t make up for bad acting, poor special effects, a lackluster villain, a laughable presentation, and even worse premise. It would be one thing if this was all done with tongue in cheeck as a campy movie, but it’s not. It’s dead serious about being a horror flick and a musical.

This movie is really just a joke.

Brian’s Review – “Across The Universe”

An American girl (Evan Rachel Wood) and a British lad (Jim Sturgess) fall in love amid the social and political upheaval of the 1960s in this movie musical from director Julie Taymor that features classic Beatles songs and a mix of live action and animation. On an excursion to America, Liverpool dock worker Jude (Sturgess) falls for Lucy (Wood). But when Lucy’s brother (Joe Anderson) is drafted, Jude and Lucy take a stand as anti-war activists.

Across the Universe

Rating: 2 out of 10

There are plenty of people that might find this an interesting film that will bring back memories of a time that I am far too young to have experienced.  But, being realistic, as a cohesive film, it’s a complete fucking waste.  That’s not to say that the concept behind it was necessarily a bad idea.  All of the characters sing Beatles song throughout the story.  When the film first started, I let it go that it wasn’t the original versions of the songs.  My thinking was that it was how the Beatles music related to the characters during important moments in their life and the fact that they sung it themselves reinforced that idea.  Well, as the film progressed it was clear that I had put a lot more thought into it than the people that made this pile of shit did.  The amazing and beautiful songs by the Beatles are wasted.

The story is almost non-existent.  We get a kid from Liverpool (ugh) who’s name is Jude (double ugh) and comes to America, runs into random people, and ends up living in a house with a girl named Prudence(triple ugh), another girl named Sadie(feeling the need to vomit), and a guy named Jo-Jo(ok, I can’t take anymore characters named after Beatles songs. I’m running out of ugh’s).   There’s a film somewhere here but the script lacks any creativity and it doesn’t just end with stupid character names.  The song numbers just don’t work.  The worst offender is the scene where one kid is drafted to fight in Vietnam to “I Want You (She’s so heavy)” with a CGI Uncle Sam pointing at him and singing I Want You!!  I couldn’t make this shit up.  I started laughing my ass off at the ridiculousness of it.  It’s like the writers wrote a bunch of songs on a piece of paper and played connect the dots to somehow fill a 2 hour movie.  The actors in it are sub-par.  Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood have no chemistry at all.  It also doesn’t help that their voices suck and neither can really hold a tune much less perform in a musical.  I’d keep pointing at them but how are they supposed to deliver great performances with a script that has lines like, “Jude, we’re in the middle of a revolution!”  I’ll give credit to the writers. They managed to fit two Beatles songs in one sentence.

As a card carrying Beatles fan, this film is both an insult to the Beatles and their fans.  Their music is certainly fitting for a movie where the story uses their songs to advance a plot, give us characters that we give a shit about, and provide us with an experience worthy of the legacy they left behind after their breakup in 1969.  Unfortunately, this isn’t it….


After leaving Iowa with stars in her eyes, Ali (Christina Aguilera) arrives in Los Angeles and at a burlesque lounge, where she dreams of taking the stage with her soaring voice. Club owner Tess (Cher) is about to lose the place and thinks Ali may help business. Meanwhile, Ali’s roommate (Cam Gigandet) starts to fall for her in this snappy, Golden Globe-nominated comedy co-starring Stanley Tucci as Tess’s sidekick and Kristen Bell as Ali’s rival.

Rating: 2 out of 10

I don’t know why I always get sucked into these movies. It’s like I see sparkles and hear singing and think “oh, that’s going to be good.” But it’s never good. Never ever ever.

The small town girl with a big heart and even bigger dreams makes her way to the big city. She wants her name in lights and works her way up, standing up to the established stars, proving her talent, and stunning the legend, the boy she likes, and pissing off the current star who’s a massive bitch. As she makes her way into the spotlight she dates the wrong guy but eventually finds her way to the nice boy and ends up with everything.

Kinda sounds like “Showgirls” doesn’t it? Nope. “Coyote Ugly?” Try again. This is “Burlesque,” and it’s awful. Sure, Cher and Christina can sing. The dance numbers are fun, the music is great, and Stanley Tucci can do no wrong, but, oh god, the acting, the dialogue, the story. It’s so awful.

Top 5 underrated actresses


This list is in response to my brother’s Top 5 underrated actors he posted last week. Again, our definition isn’t limited to actresses and actors who aren’t famous. I’m putting the spotlight on five women who are often overlooked in the conversation of who the best actresses working today are.

5. Catherine Keener has been very good in a ton of supporting roles and a handful of leading roles. She was nominated for best supporting Oscars for Being John Malkovich and Capote. Her career didn’t quite take off until the late 90s, but since then she’s had a string of good movies such as Your Friends & Neighbors, Death to Smoochy, The Interpreter, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Friends with Money, Into the Wild, Where the Wild Things Are, The Soloist, An American Crime and Cyrus. Most of these movies are very good, but even when they’re not, like The Soloist, her performances are very strong. I could see her winning an Oscar while she’s in her prime.

Keener in An American Crime, where she plays a deranged woman who tortures a young girl. This is a disturbing scene:

4. Juliette Lewis is a bad ass. On top of always being great in movies — she was nominated for an Oscar for Cape Fear — she also fronts the rock band Juliette and The Licks.  I always find her enjoyable to watch, even though she can be very intense. Again, Lewis is usually in supporting roles in films like Whip It, Natural Born Killers, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, From Dusk Til Dawn, or The Basketball Diaries. But she is also excellent when she takes on a leading role in a film such as My Louisiana Sky. She a triple threat in comedy, drama and music. She’s got loads of talent and she’s not afraid to take chances. She’s my kind of gal.

Lewis from a scene from her Academy Award-nominated role in Cape Fear

3. Sigourney Weaver has been nominated for three Oscars, two Emmys, and six Golden Globes. She won Golden Globes for best supporting actress in Working Girl and best actress for Gorillas in the Myst in the same year. She was nominated for a best actress Oscar for the iconic sci-fi film Aliens, which is saying a lot because the Academy rarely nominates anything that has to do with science-fiction. If they do, it’s usually for special effects and not acting. She’s chosen a huge swath of characters to play, from an autistic woman in Snow Cake, a cellist possessed by a demon in Ghostbusters or an activist scientist in the highest grossing film of all time, Avatar. There are few actresses willing to take the chances Weaver has, and her career has shined because of it.

Weaver in a scene from Snow Cake where she plays an autistic woman

2. Catherine O’Hara is always good, even if it’s a bad movie. She’s hilarious but has proven she can take on dramatic roles in films like A Mighty Wind (she performed on the Oscar nominated song from the movie) and The Life Before This. She’s been in a ton of hilarious roles in films like Beetle Juice, Heartburn, Best in Show (for which she won an American Comedy Award), Dick Tracy, Home Alone and Waiting for Guffman. She’s also done some great television, such as HBO’s Six Feet under and won an Emmy for SCTV. Comedic actors don’t get enough love, and they should. It’s hard to be funny and O’Hara is one of the funniest actresses who gives consistently good performances and always makes me laugh.

O’Hara in Best in Show

1. Ellen Burstyn is my number one. I know it may seem silly to have her as the most underrated actress when she’s been nominated six times for an Oscar and won once for Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. But Burstyn’s brilliant performance in Requiem for a Dream lost to Julia Roberts, who was the darling pick for Erin Brockovich. That is the definition of underrated. When was the last time you heard someone mention her among the best actresses? Or who was the last person you heard say, “Ellen Burstyn is my favorite actress.” She’s been in more than 125 roles as an actress, including classics like The Exorcist, The Last Picture Show, The People Vs. Jean Harris, Requiem for a Dream, and has had a fantastic recurring role on the HBO series Big Love. Aside from Requiem for a Dream and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, she was also nominated for best actress in Resurrection, Same Time, Next Year, The Exorcist, and for best supporting actress in The Last Picture Show and won an Emmy for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” for a guest role. Burstyn has a natural strength about her with a genuine vulnerability and has a fantastic delivery of any part she plays. She never mails in a role.

Ellen Burstyn in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

I couldn’t embed this video, but click on the link and watch this scene from Requiem for a Dream. Hard to believe she lost to Julia Roberts


An unnamed guy is a Dublin street guitarist and singer-songwriter who makes a living by fixing vacuum cleaners in his Dad’s Hoover repair shop by day. At night, he heads for the streets to sing and play for the money strangers give him in Dublin. An unnamed girl is a Czech who plays piano when she gets a chance and does odd jobs by day and takes care of her mom and her daughter by night. Guy meets girl and they get to know each other as the Girl helps the Guy to put together a demo disc that he can take to London in hope of landing a music contract. During the same several day period, the guy and girl work through their past loves and reveal their budding but disconnected love for one another through their songs.

Rating: 8 out of 10

This is a musical like no other. It’s gritty, it’s real, and it has characters we can relate to — as opposed to the ones who break out into highly detailed choreography in the streets with bakers, butchers, nuns, and anyone else around who join in.

Don’t get me wrong, I love musicals. But this one stands out for its heart-breaking story and realistic characters who seem so much more real through the hand-held lens. They have awkward moments, real chemistry, and a love that will never connect. They also make beautiful music together.

The film is about 60 percent music, mostly acoustic-based folk/pop, but it’s entirely enchanting and emotional.  I found myself completely engrossed in this very simple film. It’s a heart-breaker, but one I love. We’ve all had that person we want so bad, but can never have.


Nine tells the story of Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), a world famous film director as he confronts an epic mid-life crisis with both creative and personal problems. He must balance the many women of his life, including his wife (Marion Cotillard), his mistress (Penelope Cruz), his film star muse (Nicole Kidman), his confidant and costume designer (Judi Dench), an American fashion journalist (Kate Hudson), the prostitute from his youth (Fergie) and his mother (Sophia Loren).

Rating: 5 out of 10

Day-Lewis is engaging as the anxiety-ridden genius director who is on harder times after weak follow-ups to early success. He makes terrible decisions with women, sabotages any chance of happiness, seeks insight into religions and friends. The women who surround him are varied — strong, weak, wise — and the performances are strong.

The major problems with this film are the music and the storyline.

I couldn’t tell you one song from this musical, which is its biggest failure. The greatest musicals, like “Singin’ In the Rain” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” have songs that stay with us. They stand the test of time and stick in our heads like ticks on flesh. But this has weak music. The strongest musical performance is by Hudson, who seemed misplaced on the surface in this cast of Academy Award winners, but she gave a strong performance.

The story goes no where. We are given a compelling performance and character by Lewis — albiet a character we don’t empathize for or relate to — but the film fizzles from uninteresting musical numbers and a plot that takes us no where.

Top 5 most overrated movies

There are plenty of films that become critics darlings, or take the film award season by storm. Many of them, however, are crap. For instance, the timeless film “Raging Bull” was nominated for several Oscars, including best picture in 1980. Can you tell me who won? “Ordinary People” took home the award. It was crap. Here are two lists of our most overrated movies.


5. The English Patient: By the time this overlong, overly sentimental film is over, the most painful thing is that you’ll never get that 3 hours of your life back.  It’s complete drivel that somehow managed to pull out a best picture Oscar.  Such a shame….

WARNING: Watch this movie in bed, as you are likely to fall asleep, just like the actors did in this film clip.

4.  The Pink Panther (Any of them): Another film that is heralded as a classic and put Blake “no talent” Edwards on the map.  He only had one good movie ever with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”  The rest are pure garbage.  “The Pink Panther” is terribly dull and unfunny — I had a hard time staying awake.  Classic? I think not.

In search of a funny movie? Look elsewhere.

3.  Chicago: Another best picture winner that has the deodorizer known as an Oscar to cover up the rank smell of shit permeating from this turd.  No plot, no characters I care about, musical tunes that are boring or sung completely out of tune (Richard Gere, you bastard, my ears will never be the same) are among the highlights of a film that has already been forgotten.

2. Shakespeare in Love: This won best picture over “Saving Private Ryan”…  Wait a minute, I just had to catch my breath.  Let me try this again.  THIS WON BEST PICTURE OVER SAVING PRIVATE RYAN?!?!?!?!!  You’ve got to be kidding me!  That’s all I have to say.

1.  Moulin Rouge: One of the worst films that I have ever seen in 34 years on this Earth was nominated for eight fucking Academy Awards.  What in the hell were they smoking?!  This movie has zero plot, characters that completely suck, musical numbers borrowed from modern sources that don’t work in the slightest, and the most annoying editing I’ve ever seen.  It moves like a manic snot nosed child who ate too much sugar while staring at a bad 60’s fashion show.  Baz Luhrman, please, just stay away from the camera.  You don’t belong there.  All of your movies suck but this one is the worst.

Shiny! But all the glitz adds up to little substance.



5. Animal House: John Belushi was an exceptional talent. His work on “Saturday Night Live” set a precedence the show strives to replicate to this day. But “Animal House” is trite, silly without being funny, and hard to stomach. It’s not a terrible movie, it’s below average for certain, but not at all deserving of the iconic status its been elevated to.

If you think eating like a slob is funny, you'll love this movie.

4. Brokeback Mountain: Heath Ledger gave an incredible performance in this movie about two cowboys who become lovers while trying to maintain a normal life in rural, close-minded America. However, this is “Romeo and Juliet” with two gay cowboys. It’s predictable in every fashion and also very slow. This should not have won a best writing Oscar.

3. Shakespeare In Love: I took a date to see this movie. It was a perfect date movie. We laughed, we were entertained, and I’d give this film a positive review. However, it is not worthy of 7 Oscars, let along a best picture award over “Saving Private Ryan.” Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance was solid, but not worthy of a best acting Oscar. Judi Dench was in the movie eight minutes and won a best supporting actress Oscar. Ridiculous. Can we say overrated critics darling?

Someone needs to punch these two.

2. Titanic: This movie had a titanic mess of a script. Even amazing actors like Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett couldn’t give anything but wooden performances with this cheesy script. James Cameron knows how to make a visual spectacle, but doesn’t know how to develop a character. This was not worthy of a best picture Oscar. Here’s a lovely piece of dialogue.
Jack: Where to, Miss?
Rose: To the stars.


1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy: I loved these movies when they came out in the theaters. When I got them on DVD, and sat down with a buttery bowl of popcorn, I couldn’t believe what a huge nerd I was. I wish I could jump in a time machine and smack me for liking these trite, horribly written films with characters that are overly sentimental, wooden, and boring. If wizards and goblins are your thing, have at it. I like motorcycles, sports, beer and women. You can have your Dungeons and Dragons.

Sam: I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise. “Don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee.” And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.

When you say your last sentence twice, you know it’s good writing. You know it’s good writing.