Showing posts from May, 2011

Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

Everything Must Go (♦♦♦½)

Nick (Will Ferrell, Stranger than Fiction) loses his job as a marketing executive the same day his wife decides to abandon him and throw all his belongings to the front yard. She doesn’t want him to contact her in any way; she just wants out of their marriage. During the next three days—time bought by a policeman friend so he could have a estate sale—Nick befriends a new neighbor (Rebecca Hall, The Town), teaches a thing or two about baseball and business to Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), a kid neighbor, and must learn himself to let go of his possessions and face his demons head on.

Michael Peña and Laura Dern co-star.

I did like this movie. The action occurs almost entirely in the yard; despite of it, it feels surprisingly and refreshingly intimate. Will Ferrell excels as a dramatic actor—better this time than in many of his comedic roles—and so does Christopher Jordan Wallace, as the kid who steals the show with his direct approach to business and friendship. A slimmer Michae…

The Beaver (♦♦♦♦½)

Walter Black (Mel Gibson, Braveheart) has been depressed for several years, so much so that his depression has altered the family dynamics. Thus, his wife (Jodie Foster, The Brave One) opts for asking him to move out of their house. On the brink of suicide, Walter finds a beaver puppet in a dumpster.

Talking to the beaver and making the beaver talk in lieu of himself seems to improve Walter’s condition, and bring his toy company back from near bankruptcy. But soon the beaver takes over Walter’s life and he is again unable to function properly without it. Thus, Walter faces the difficult dilemma of saving himself or being forever a hostage of the beaver.

This movie is a searing, poignant drama, devastatingly real yet uplifting in the end. Mel Gibson delivers a performance that is among his best ever. This seems to be the story of Gibson’s demons—rather than Walter’s—and maybe they are. Jodie Foster directs, very ably, as well as stars in. There is also great acting in the performances…

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (♦♦♦)

King George gives Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, Quills) a navy ship to search for the fountain of youth, a quest that is rumored to be an interest of the Spanish monarchy as well. When Jack tries to set free Gibbs, his lifelong friend, he ends up pursued by English soldiers; thus causing havoc in the street of London. There are rumors in London that Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd) is looking for a crew and a ship for his next adventure; it seems to Jack that someone is posing as him. Jack discovers that Angelica (Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona), a former flame of his, is the impostor; Angelica brings Jack aboard Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane, We are Marshall) ship, which is headed for the fountain of youth. Sultry mermaids with long canine teeth, mutiny and the largest navies of the age are some of the things these pirates will face along the voyage.

Convoluted plot and excessive sword fighting make this movie seem longer than it is. Penelope Cruz turns on th…

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (♦♦♦)

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland) has been claimed by the sea. Now his body and soul belong to Davy Jones. What should his friends do? Travel to the end of the world to bring him back, of course! Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley, Never Let me Go) and the crew of the Black Pearl, led by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech) who has been brought from the dead by Tia Dalma (Naomi Harris), sail to Singapore to meet one of the nine pirate Lords.

Through many machinations, not at all clear, Seao Yen (Yun-Fat Chow, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), the most infamous pirate in Singapore, agrees to help them by giving them a ship, more men and a chart for those unknown corners of the Earth. When the life of Jack Sparrow has been saved, they all must contend against Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and his crew of undead, their constant inner betrayals, the royal armada, and the fury of a scorned goddess.


Pirates of the Caribbean

Curse of the Black Pearl (♦♦♦♦♦)

When the Black Pearl, the most infamous pirate ship in the Caribbean, commandeered by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech), invades Port Royal and sails away with Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley, Never Let me Go), the only child of Port Royal’s Governor Swann, the navy has no other choice than to pursue them. Only few men know where the Black Pearl sets anchor, so with no other clue to find Miss Swann, William Turner (Orlando Bloom, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), forever in love with Elizabeth, must free Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, The Tourist) from jail--where he is expecting a death sentence to be carried out—and steal The Interceptor, the fastest ship in the royal navy, to catch up with the Black Pearl whereabouts.

There are several catches however; the crew of the Black Pearl is cursed. To reverse the curse they must return a gold locket tainted with someone’s blood. To accomplish their goal of rescuing Elizabeth, Will and J…

Thor 3D (♦♦♦)

The realm of Asgard has an uneasy peace with the neighboring realm of Bifrost, but when some of its inhabitants intrude in Asgard palace’s weapons hall, impetuous Thor (Chris Hemsworth) interprets it as an act of war. Odin (Anthony Hopkins), king of Asgard, drives away Thor from his realm to suffer penance for his rash actions and learn humility among humans.

Natalie Portman, Rene Russo and Stellan Skarsgård co-star.

This is the first movie I watch in 3D, and it took me about half the movie to get used to the eyeglasses; I’m not sure if that was the reason why the screen sometimes looked blurry and the battle scenes were hard to follow.

Anthony Hopkins was great as Odin. Rene Russo was miscast and didn’t get enough screen time. Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman had good chemistry together.

If you enjoy the movies where everything gets smashed and everyone fights for a “powerful” reason, then this is a movie you shouldn’t miss.

Something Borrowed (♦♦♦½)

Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin, Walk the Line) has been attracted to Dexter (Colin Egglesfield) since law school, but since he never made a move, she assumes he doesn’t feel the same way she does. Thus, she seems cool when Darcy (Kate Hudson, Nine), her best friend, hits on him and ends up engaged to him. When Rachel winds up in bed with Dex after her surprise birthday party, things get complicated.

John Krasinski (The Office) co-stars.

I really liked this movie, though it works better as a dramedy than as a romantic comedy. The situations are totally believable and most times hard to accept with dry eyes. All four main characters are strikingly beautiful, but I was rooting for Dexter and Rachel’s couple, which made the twists in the story even harder to accept.

Very enjoyable movie.

Water for Elephants (♦♦♦)

Jacob Jankowski (Robert Pattinson, The Twilight Saga) is about to take his final exam to graduate as a vet, when he’s notified of his parents’ death in a car accident. With no possessions in the world, he jumps on a passing train, which is home to the Benzini Brothers Circus. August (Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds)—manager and master of ceremonies— names Jacob the circus’ vet. August is a cruel man with people and animals alike, so when he discovers the ever growing attraction between Jacob and Marlena (Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line), the circus main act and August’s wife, August sets on everything and everyone they hold dear.

The scenes when the circus is in session are rather magical. There’s no chemistry between Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, but I would have been very surprised if they had had any. The most worthwhile moments in this film are ironically provided by Rosie the elephant and Christoph Waltz, who has shown a gift for playing cruel characters to a T. …

Derailed (♦♦♦♦)

When Charles Schine (Clive Owen, Closer) misses his train one morning and is forced to take the next one, he can’t believe his luck when Lucinda Jones (Jennifer Aniston, The Switch), a striking woman riding in the same train car, comes to his rescue by paying his fare. Every morning since, they meet in the train on their way to work until they go out for drinks and end up deciding to have a casual affair. They go to a motel room only to be attacked by a thug (Vincent Cassel, Black Swan), and that’s when the nightmare starts for both of them.

This is a very gritty psychological thriller with solid direction and even better screenplay. Jennifer Aniston impresses as the striking woman torn with guilt and regret. She manages to stay likeable despite the turns in the film. It is, in my opinion, her most accomplished role to date, too bad she seems to prefer mediocre comedies that have given her relative success yet not provided acting challenges. Clive Owen remains credible all along play…

Glory Road (♦♦♦♦♦)

Don Haskins (Josh Lucas, Sweet Home Alabama), the coach of a high school female basketball team, is offered a job as the coach of a college male basketball team in El Paso, Texas in the 1960s. With little money to spare for recruiting, he convinces the president of the college that more scholarships are needed to attract new players, while the assistant coach travels the country to bring onboard the best players they can find anywhere, even in the street courts. The only problem is that the new faces, most of them men of color, have to contend with the racial prejudices prevalent in the era and must learn a lesson about trust, discipline and courage while giving a lesson to the masses about racial understanding and greatness regardless of skin color.

Jon Voight (Mission Impossible), Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher) and Emily Deschanel (Bones) co-star.

This movie is one big rush of adrenaline from start to finish. There are many films with the same topic but this one excels for the tension…

Sense and Sensibility (♦♦♦♦♦)

The Dashwood women--three daughters and their mother--are left penniless when their father dies and their estate is inherited by John, their half brother. John and Fanny, his wife, immediately move to Norland, prompting the Dashwood family to send inquiries for a house with low rent to move out immediately.

Kate Winslet (Titanic) interprets free-spirited Marianne Dashwood, the middle sister. She loves literature, particularly Shakespearean poetry, and falls madly in love with the equally dashing John Willoughby (Greg Wise). Despite sharing Marianne’s affection, Willoughby never proposes and soon departs to London with hardly any explanation. The much older Colonel Christopher Brandon (Alan Rickman, Harry Potter Series) has always loved Marianne yet chosen to remain in the shadows.

Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson, The Remains of the Day), the oldest Dashwood sister, is all about propriety, decorum and reason. She falls in love with Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant, About a Boy), her sister-i…