Whale of a Tale Productions

A Post Production Company
INDY-JK--7494

Defiance co-written and directed by Edward Zwick (2008)

I have been looking forward to seeing this since I initially saw the trailer, and it looked excellent, and I must say I was not at all dissapointed. This is certainly one of the best films of the year so far, and Zwick deserves some recognition here, as does the amazing cast, and the gorgeous cinematography. Even better this is a true story of what this band of Jews went through to survive the German invasion of Russian in World War 2, since the Russians didn’t seem to apt to help. A really powerful story, with a great cast, all around a great film. I highly recomend checking this one out.

In World War II, in West Belarus in Poland, the Germans have invaded and have begun rounding up Jews. Zus Bielski (Liev Schrieber) returns to his home, having left his wife who was going to get later, to find his parents dead, and his younger brothers still alive, these are Asael Bielski (Jamie Bell from King Kong) and the youngest Aron (George MacKay) and they head for the woods, where they meet up with their oldest brother Tuvia (Daniel Craig) whose wife would not come with him. The brothers were rogues, doing smuggling and the like, and they know the woods well, and Tuvia kind of takes over, especially when they end up having to take on some other Jewish refugees, some of whom were hiding at a friend of theirs house who was killed for harboring Jews. Tuvia takes over, and starts building a camp, where they can live, and sending people out on missions to get money, where Asael is almost killed. Both Tuvia and Zus learn that their wives have died, and both are heart broken, but Zus wants to go and fight. Zus meets a woman named Bella (Iben Hjejle) who he likes, and Asael likes the young and beautiful girl she came with named Chia (Mia Wasikowska) who wants him to help find her family in the Ghetto.

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Marley & Me by David Frankel (2008)

Youch, making money, but painful to watch. A love story about a family, and their dog, which happens to be the worst dog in the world. This film never came together for me at all because first off the dog is just too bad, and you would get rid of it, or the city would. No one could put up with a dog this bad, I mean this dog only does one redeeming thing in the whole film, even if they talk about more, they pretty much only show the bad. And then we have the requisite pull your heart stings parts, which just fall flat to me because I didn’t really care. And it doesn’t help that in the film over a period of 10 years or more, while the dog ages (way too quickly from a puppy in my opinion) Aniston and Wilson don’t age at all, which distracts. This broke my mom and my streak this holiday of great movies, because this one is just not work seeing. Manipulative, with strange life lessons that I don’t think anyone should follow, and a lab that is not only too crazy, but not that good looking (too skinny of a head, not at all like my dad’s labs). Skip this for sure.

John (Owen Wilson) and Jenny Grogan (Jennifer Aniston) are married in cold Michigain, and quickly move to the warmth of Sunny Florida. Both are reporters, but Jenny is quickly getting front page reports at her paper, while John who wants to be a real reporter is writing obituaries and about mundane events. When John realizes that Jenny is contemplating having a child he talks to his best friend and co-worker the ace photographer and reporter Sebastian Tunney (Eric Dane) who suggests that he gets a dog, so John goes out and gets Jenny a yellow Labrador Retriever puppy who he names Marley. The puppy is untrainable, defeating trainer Ms. Kornblut (Kathleen Turner) and doing nothing but cause trouble all the time!

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Slumdog Millionare by Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan (2008)

This lovely lyrical fairy tale of life for a boy from the slums in India deservedly won 4 golden globes for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Score and best screenplay (for Simon Beaufoyadapted from the novel by Vikras Swarup). While the acting could have been better, it doesn’t really matter in this film, because it is all about the amazing, and uplifting love story, that is one of the must see films of the year. Boyle really made up for Sunshine here, though I wonder how much he directed and how much Loveleen Tandan actually did as co-director. Still no matter what this film is really enjoyable and keeps you on the edge of your seat right until the closing credits.

Jamal Malik (Dev Patel a British television actor) a Muslim former street child, is being interrogated by a police inspector (Irrfan Khan) and Constable Srinivas (Saurabh Shukla). He is a contestant on Kaun Benega Crorepati, the Indian equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and has made it to the final question, but has been accused of cheating. We see through the interogation the story of Jamal’s life, and just how he happened to know the answer to all the questions. We see the young Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar). We see him crall through shit to get the autograph of a famous actor, through his brother Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail) sells it, and when they return home, his mother is killed in an anti-Muslim riot, and they end up as street kids. The two befriend an orphan girl named Latika (Rubiana Ali) who they take care of, and in turn get taken in by a gangster named Maman (Ankur Vikal) who uses kids to beg. Maman has plans for Salim, but is going to blind Jamal, so Salim betrays Maman and they escape, but aren’t able to save Latika, though Jamal sweats he will come back and save her, no matter how long it takes him.

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Revolutionary Road by Sam Mendes (2008)

Another of the best films of the year, this re teaming of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio could not be more different than Titanic, and really allows these two actors to show their acting chops like no other film before it. What a powerful and depressing film. An amazing look at relationships, and especially the more structured lives people led in the US in the 1950’s with the man working in a job he might not like, and a woman at home taking care of the house, of being trapped in a life that you don’t necessarily want and that you feel is stifling you. Really an amazing film, and these two had better at least get nominated for their amazing performances. My fiancee Kelly on the other hand hated this film, and everything about it, but I think that may have something to do with the subject matter more than the actual film itself.

In 1955 Frank Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio) is married to the lovely April (Kate Winslet) who aspires to be an actress. Her first acting job in a play is a total failure though, and Frank is anything but helpful, and they get in a huge fight on the way home to their house in the Connecticut suburbs to a house on Revolutionary Road. This couple sees themselves as something different, something better than their neighbors, but they are starting to realize they are the same as them, having children (they had one which is why they got the house) and then a second and leading their simple lives. They have become no different, and started to drift apart. In fact Frank has had an affair with a secretary named Maureen Grube (Zoe Kazan) on his 30th birthday. April has had enough of being the same, and has decided on a plan. Since Frank had loved France during the War, they have wanted to go back there, so April will get a job working for the government there as a secretary, and Frank will do what he always wanted to do, which is find himself, and what he wants to be, with her supporting him. At first Frank is wary, but he ends up agreeing, and they are happier than ever as they begin to pack and plan, but things are not to be.

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Frost/Nixon by Ron Howard (2008)

Wow, my mom and I have seen some good movies this Holiday break, and this one was fantastic, a real acting piece, with two great performances, and a true story about a period of history that was certainly before my time. The play by Peter Morgan, which he also adapted for the screen has proved to be a perfect match for a film, and this cast really brought this film together, especially Frank Langella’s amazing performance as tricky dick, which really makes this film. Everything from his manerisms and way of speaking to his shifty eyes give weight to his performance. And the supporting cast could not be better, and provides a perfect framework for these two to duel. It would be a surprise and shame if this film was not at least heavily nominated, and Langella is a heavy contender for best actor this year. My biggest questions are how much of this is fact (I know the interviews were real, and what happened during them, but how much of the story outside of the facts is also real, because that really adds to the story). I also like the little interviews interspersed with side characters that give insight into the current events going on. A very good device that gets you into what is going on, without having to be shown what is inside Nixon or Frost’s heads. Well worth checking out, and another of the best films of the year, and think it is so apt at this time with George W. Bush playing even more loosely with the law, and making Nixon’s act seem tiny in comparison, and yet W will walk away with nothing against him.

The film starts with news reports about the break in at the Democratic National Committee and the Watergate complex, and how Richard Nixon was involved, and how an impeachment vote was likely, and finally showing Richard Nixon’s (Frank Langella) resignation speech and his final helicopter flight from the white house. At the same time we see television host David Frost (Michael Sheen) finishing taping his Australian talk show, Frost Across Australia, where he watches the event, and asks his producer to get viewing figures for the event, and Frost tries to find out the possibilities of him getting an interview with the ex-President. In London a few weeks later he discusses it with his producer friend John Birth (Matthew Macfadyen), but birth doubts it will happen. At the time Nixon is recovering from illness in California, living at his estate, La Casa Pacifica. There he discusses his memoirs with Hollywood agent Swifty Lazar (Toby Jones) who mentions the Frost interview. They have been offered $350,000 for an interview by CBS, but Frost has offered $500,000, and they think it will be a puff piece, so they get the offer up to $600,000, and agree to the interview.

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Gran Torino by Clint Eastwood (2008)

A powerhouse performance by Eastwood really makes this film. Yyou hate this bigot,Walt Kowalski but at the same time you like and respect him, and it really makes you think about people that you know who may have some of these characteristics. This really is a fitting swan song to Eastwood’s acting career, though I hop he continues directing, because he is such a talented directed. Eastwood has once again showed his directorial talent and has made a very impressive film, with one exception the performance of the young man Bee Vang, who shows little emotion or ability. especially when contrasted to the powerful performance of Ahney Her who plays the sister. In fact the whole rest of the cast do an incredible job, and really help to make this one of the better films of this year, it is just too bad, that the kid, who is such a central role here could not have been a better actor (instead of a first time actor, though Ahney was also a first time actor and did a perfect job). It is great to see Eastwood playing on his roles of the past, to portray an old man who could easily be an old Dirty Harry, not liking the world around him, but still a man with a good heart when it comes down to it, who will do the right thing, no matter what. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and laughed quite a bit, especially with Walt Kowalski’s constant stream of over the top racist epitaph’s.

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is at the funeral of his wife, watching in horror as his two songs Mitch (Brian Haley) and Steve (Brian Howe) bring their children with no respect for their grandmother. They dress like they don’t care, and they really don’t, and this drives Walt crazy, and he steams as he listens to his way too young pastor, Father Janovich (Christopher Carley). Walt is a Koren War vet, who has seen too much, but had a good life, though he is not at all close to his family, and is only close to his yellow lab Daisy. His kids want him to move out of the old neighborhood, where he is the last white man, and move into assisted living, and his grandkids want his perfect condition Ford Torrino, which he keeps in his garage with all his tools, and it is a car he himself worked on in the Ford plant before it was closed. A Hmong family from Vietnam has moved in next to him, quite a large family, and they don’t make Walt happy at all. The son next door, Thao (Bee Vang) gets picked on by some latino gang members, and a Hmong gang including his cousin set there sights on him to join. His first task is to try and steal Walt’s Gran Torino, but walt sees the flashlight in his garage, and goes out with his gun, scaring Thao off. The gang returns and tries to physically take Thao away, but they end up on Walt’s lawn, and he chases them off literally at the point of his Korean war rifle.

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The Wrestler by Darren Aronofsky (2008)

A powerful drama, done in documentary style chronicling the waning years of a professional wrestler 20 years past his prime. This film is made by the spectacular performances of Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, and is a depressing film, that bears some comparison to Raging Bull, though is certainly not that caliber of film, though the performances are pretty amazing. This is a powerful and depressing character piece that is incredibly well done, with it’s one down point being the ubiquitous hand held camera, which here is used to give a documentary style, but the almost constant shots from behind of Rourke as he walks around actually pulled me a bit away from the film instead of drawing me in. Honestly I wish this period of hand held filmmaking would stop in Hollywood, but I am starting to think it will never leave us at this point. Still a good film, and well worth seeing for the incredible performances. I am sure that this will return Rourke to a career, especially with that craggily face that looks like it has lived a long and hard life.

The film opens with us seeing clippings showing the highpoints of the career of the professional wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) who 20 years ago was at the top of his game, and we come to now, and see that The Ram is still wrestling, though no longer anywhere near the top of his game. Randy is a hurting old man, who works doing manual labor at a grocery store during the week and wrestling on the weekend. He lives in a trailer park, but can’t pay his rent, and ends up sleeping in his van. He is a regular at a local strip club, where he vies for the affections of a stripper named Cassidy (Marisa Tomei). Randy finds out that he has a chance of a huge rematch, which could hopefully restart his career, and goes for it, spending every dime he has on juice so he can bulk up and really make an impression, but after an especially brutal match, where he gets stapled with a staple gun, cut with barbed wire, and glass embedded in him, he has a heart attack and collapses.

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The Ex by Jesse Peretz (2007)

Strangely I wrote and posted this review once, but have no idea what happened to it, oh well. Time to start again. The new Zach Braff comedy, and with a feel of Garden State, almost as if this was made exactly for Braff. A funny comedy, with a hysterical performace by Jason Bateman as Braff’s wheelchair bound nemesis. Charles Grodin and Mia Farrow are also hysterical, making this an all around funny cast, and making this a slightly better than average comedy. At least it is believable, with funny characters, and a bunch of cameos from current Saturday Night regulars. Nothing too deep, but funny enough to check out if you can catch in cable.

Tom Reilly (Zach Braff) has never really had any focus in life, wandering from job to job, currently working as a chef. He does have a lovely and successful wife, Sofia (Amanda Peet) who is a lawyer and is about to have a baby, and is set to retire as a lawyer, and allow Tom to take care of the family so she can be a stay at home mom. Of course on the day that Sofia’s water breaks, Tom gets in a fight with his ass of a boss Leon (Paul Rudd) and gets fired. So after the baby is born, and he explains things, Sofia is obviously very angry, but Tom says that he will take the job her father offered in Ohio at the add firm where he works, and move back there, and Sofia agrees, so they leave New York for Ohio. Immediately they see the family, Bob Kowalski (Charles Grodin) and his wife Amelia (Mia Farrow as strange and spaced out as can be), and we can see that Bob doesn’t really approve of the underachiever Tom, but he brings Tom into his add agency, which has been recently bought by the far out Don Wollebin (Donal Logue in hippy hair and all into mountain biking and meditation), and Bob tries to fit in, but doesn’t really. Tom is introduced to the man he will be working with, the wheelchair bound Chip Sanders (Jason Bateman) who has slept with Sofia when they knew each other in High School, and who Tom immediately gets off on the wrong foot with, and even ends up blowing a huge account on his big day, and he realizes that Chip has it out for him, though no one else sees it.

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Silk by Francious Girard (2007)

I am a huge fan of Francious Girard, and especially 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould and the Red Violin, but this film is not the same quality, other than it’s gorgeous cinematography, production design and costumes, but the story, acting and direction fall a bit flat, even with a cast including some impressive actors. I kept hoping their was some amazing point made to this film, which is an adaption of the Italian author Alessandro Baricco’s novel, but overall the film just fell flat to me, and I never saw the deep connections between any of these characters. Also the lackluster effects, and addition of some horrible fake snow attempted the mar the gorgeous picture, but the images did come through, it is just too bad the story didn’t. And the fact that the characters are supposed to be French, and yet speak American English seems very strange, especially with everything in Japan in Japanese without subtitles. And another bad notes is that the film is under 2 hours, but feels more like 3 or even 4 hours long.

In 19th Century France, the young Hervé (Michael Pitt) is a military officer, serving because it is what his father wishes. Hervé is dating a beautiful young woman named Hélene (the very underused Kiera Knightley), and is happy to leave the military and marry her, when a new business opportunity is presented to him. His town makes it’s money through silk, and the silkworms have been infected with a disease, so the local silk purveyor, Baldabiou (Alfred Molina) gets the heads of the town to put up money, and they send out young Hervé to get fresh eggs. First he quickly goes to Africa, and returns with eggs, but they are already infected, so the next time Hervé is sent across the continent to Japan, and blindfolded and snuck in country to a Japanese village lead by Hara Juberi (the great Yahusho Koji). While there Hervé falls for the mistress of Jubei’s (Ashina Sei), who touches him once, and he sees her breasts while she bathes in a hot spring. Hervé returns with the eggs and becomes a rich man, buying Hélene a lovely home, where she can build her dream garden.

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Blood and Chocolate by Katja von Garnier (2007)

A werewolf and human love story adapted from a young adult novel by Annette Curtis Klause which has been reset from the US to Romania, is actually a decently enjoyable popcorn film. The film itself is very well shot with gorgeous cinematography, and a well done dissolve/glow/morph to show the wolf transformation, and I like how the human werewolves seem to be bad ass humans who know parkour martial arts, always jumping around, though they do seem less powerful as wolves, but I love that real wolves were used instead of the inevitable digital which would have been used in the US. Sure the story is simple, and the prophecy stuff never gets explained, just mentioned at first, and then you know what it is, but you never get too much info on it (wonder if there were more books in the series). The film is a B horror film, and is strangely all in English though set in Europe, but overall it works, and I enjoyed the film even if it has nothing deep to it. It does sound like they changed allot from the book, which I am sure I would not have liked, but not having read the book I can say it is a decent enough cheesy horror/romance film.

A young girl is playing in the woods in the US, and leads a hunting party to the house. Her family helps her escape, but they are killed, and we cut to 10 years later, when the girl is 19 years and named Vivian (Agnes Bruckner). Vivian is a loup-garoux or werewolf, who has move to Bucharest, Romania to live with her aunt Astrid (Katja Riemann) who runs a chocolate shop under where they live, and Vivian helps cook, and delivers, which is her favorite thing, to run. Astrid’s former mate is the leader of the werewolf pack named Gabriel (Olivier Martinez) and they have a headstrong son named Rafe (Bryan Dick) who thinks he is hot stuff, and breaks the laws of the clan by hunting on his own. Gabriel gets to chose a new mate from the pack every 7 years, and that is about up, and it is known that he will pick Vivian, who he believes is part of a prophecy about a female from the line of leaders that will lead them to an age of hope. One night Vivian breaks into a locked church that celebrates the loupe-garoux she meets a human artist named Aiden (Hugh Dancy) who is using the story of the loupe-garoux as inspiration for his next graphic novel. Aiden likes her right away, and keeps following her whenever he sees her, though she runs, but finally figures out where the chocolate shop, she goes out with him, and they two fall for each other, but they are discovered by Rafe and his four friends who report it to Gabriel, and he orders Rafe to make Aiden leave.

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Doctor Who Story 155 The Curse of Fenric by Nicholas Mallett (1989)

A mediocre adventure of the Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy. There a lot of explosions, but the bad guys are pretty lame, with bad acting, and don’t seem to scary. I do like Ace (Sophie Aldred) as a companion, and I like how this ties her whole life together, than in fact she was a part of creating her own life, but overall this is not one of the best adventures. I watched this on Netflix, and it looked OK, though not very good.

During the second world war, two dinghies filled with Russian Communist soldiers head towards Maiden’s Point on the English coast, though one gets lost in the fog. The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) dressed in period clothing arrive, and head intoa top secret Navy installation, and walk right in, and into the office of the wheelchair bound Dr. Judson (Dinsdale Landen) who is working on logic problems and a computer to translate german Ultra transmissions and both the Doctor and Ace impress him with their logic abilities, and the Doctor has forged a letter of authority which gives him access to the base. The Soviets meanwhile find the only survivor of the other dingy, who is wounded and delirious, the commander Captain Sorin (Tomek Bork) asks for their sealed orders, but gets no answer, though they are found with a picture of Judson, but the soldier is killed by something under the water. The Doctor and Ace go to a church of Reverend Wainwright (Nicholas Parsons) and see Judson who is trying to decipher some Viking inscriptions under the Church, and who plans to use the ULTIMA code machine to decipher them. Some girls from London, Jean (Joann Kenny) and Phyllis (Joane Bell) make friends with Ace, and make plans to go swimming. The Doctor and Ace discover the Soviets orders at Maiden’s point, he heads to the Church and warns Ace not to go in the water. The Doctor gets translations of the Viking inscriptions from Wainwright and takes it to Judson. Ace makes friends with one of the woman at the base, Kathleen Dudman (Cory Pulman) who plays chess, and has her baby Audrey (which Ace doesn’t like because it is the name of her hated mother) with her at the base. The Base leader Millington (Alfred Lynch) seems a little off, having his office made up like the Nazi intelligence office, and with a viking chess set, and he and Judson read the translation, while new runes appear in the crypt.

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Doctor Who Story 122 Earthshock by Peter Grimwade (1982)

An enjoyable tale of the 5th Doctor Peter Davison, which has quite a sad ending, and involves the Doctor’s nemesis the Cybermen. I like the tension between the Doctor and Adric, and how headstrong that Tegan is, and Davidson is really growing on me as a doctor. I will have to check out more of his episodes.

On a future Earth, a Lieutenant Scott (James Warwick) leads a military team with scanning gear with a Professor Kyle (Clare Clifford) to scan for lifeforms of missing members of the scientific team that were searching underground for dinosaur fossil remains. Kyle is the only member who made it out, and rest have disappeared. The team going underground is being stalked by two robotic figures. The Doctor (Peter Davison) is arguing with Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) who wants to go home, and is trying to plot a course, but the Doctor does not want to take him. Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) don’t like the tension. They take the Tardis to Earth, and end up in the same caves, and the Scanner detects them, especially the alienness of the Doctor. Scott’s teams are attacked, and the wounded people keep disappearing off the scanner as they are killed, and Scott assumes the Doctor must be killing them. The Doctor is fascinated by the dinosaur bones, and wants to go back and see how they became extinct from a great impact. Scott come across the Doctor, and want to kill them, but the Doctor helps them fight the androids that are fighting them, and the Doctor realizes they are defending something. The Andriods are working for the Cyberman, and realize that this must be the Doctor.

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Lost in Beijing 蘋果 by Li Yu (2007)

I have been wanting to watch this dark drama about the harsher side of life in modern Beijing and the decaying of people’s morals is a great character driven piece with amazing performances by Fan Bing BIng and Tony Leung Ka Fai. The performances really bring the film together, and the handheld camera actually increases the intimacy (though Kelly could never watch it). It is good to be able to see the uncut version which had 15 major cuts made by Chinese censors because of it’s intense scenes of sex. It is great to see Fan Bing Bing playing such a grown up role, and really doing a great job, if she keeps this up she could really be a powerhouse in Chinese cinema in the future.

Fan Bing Bing plays Liu Pingguo, an young immigrant in beijing who works at the Golden Basin Massage Parlor as a foot masseuse, hiding the fact that she is married to Ah Kun (Tong Dawei) from her boss Lin Dong (Tony Leung Ka Fai) so she won’t lose her job. Ah Kun works as a window cleaner for the skyscraper his wife works for. Lin Dong is married to Wang Mei (Elaine Kam Yin Ling) who practices chinese medicine, but he is always out sleeping with whores. When Pingguo’s best friend Xiao Mei (Zeng Mei Hui Zi) is fired from the massage parlor for stabbing a guy who tried touching her breasts, the friends go out drinking and Pingguo ends up going to work completely hammered. Lin Dong finds her and when she mistakes him for her husband, he rapes her, which her husband sees through the window. Ah Kun then starts defacing Lin Dong’s Mercedes, and trying to get 20,000 yen out of him, but he is ignored, so he goes to the wife, who instead of giving him money, starts an affair with him.

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Rule # 1 第一誡 by Kelvin Tong (2008)

A supernatural horror film that starts off with a bit too many Ring like scares, then seems to be going well, with an entertaining performance by Ekin Cheng as an alcoholic cop, but the end gets too convoluted, and even seems to unexplainably double back on itself in an ending that while enjoyably dark, doesn’t work with the double ending. And the dark premise seems to make it that everyone in the world would be getting possessed, it is just too easy. An enjoyable popcorn flick, but I wouldn’t pay for it, even though it is great to see Ekin playing his age, and doing such a great job.

Shawn Yue plays a uniformed police officer named Lee Kwok Keung who on a routine traffic stop, ends up finding a dead child in the back in of the car, and the perp ends up shooting him 5 times, and is only stopped when the trunk opens and the dead little girl sits up and distracts the murderer allowing Lee to kill him. Lee recovers, miraculously with a cast on one arm only, and wants to go back to work, though when he refuses to remove the girl from his report, since she had been dead for 4 hours when he found her, he is transferred to a unit called the Miscellaneous Affairs Department or MAD for short. Lee isn’t too happy and his girlfriend (Fiona Xie) notices something different, but continues to live with him. Lee goes to his department in a dilapidated warehouse, where he meets a kid in a wheelchair playing Jenga, and waits for his boss. The kid gets a call, and Lee is sent to a pool where a girl drowned and the worker hears screaming. There he meets his new boss, the alcoholic Lee (Ekin Cheng). Lee sees the dead girl, but Wong gets him to remember Rule #1 that there are no ghosts, and there is always a logic explanation, this being hair caught in a drain.

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Australia written, produced and directed by Baz Luhrmann (2008)

I didn’t want to see this film, as it didn’t look too impressive, but with my dad and step mother to see it while back East, and have to say it was worse than I thought possible. The film is not epic, though it tries to be, and is interminably long, it’s almost 3 hours feeling more like 8. The digital effects all look very low budget, and much of the film seems to have been shot on badly lit green screen, with dramatic lighting that doesn’t fit. And the story is very mediocre, and not very moving (the original ending sounds much better), and the film tries to cram too much into one story, which should have been much shorter, and could have been just all around done better. This film is a let down on every front, trying to pull heart strings, but if you want to see a real moving film about Australia and it’s treatment of Aborigines, just go out and see Rabbit Proof Fence and don’t waste your time with this useless film.

Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) is a noble Englishwoman who travels to Australia to find her husband, and get him to sell the cattle ranch that is losing money. She believes her husband is cheating on her, and that is why he won’t come home. An Australian Cattle Baron owns all the other cattle land, this is King Carney (Bryan Brown) and he wants to corner the market and get the military contract to supply cattle for the British in World War II. Lady Ashley arrives with all her bags, and gets a ride to the cattle ranch Faraway Downs with a man called the Drover (Hugh Jackman) and his friend Magarri (David Ngoombujarra). The drover is friend with Aborigines, so isn’t liked by many. Lady Ashley arrives to find that her husband is dead, and the guy who runs the ranch Neil Fletcher (David Wenham) blames the death on the Aborigine King George (David Gulpilil. Sarah learns what is actually going on from a mixed boy named Nullah (Brandon Walters) who is the grandson of King George, and whose father is in fact Fletcher, though he won’t accept him, and he has to hide from the police who will take him along with other halfcasts to be trained as servants. Sarah learns that in fact Fletcher works for King Carney, and is going to marry his daughter, and he is stealing the best cattle and giving them to King Carney, so Sarah fires him, but he takes all the cowboys, so she must get the Drover, the Aboriginal women, Nullah and the drunken accountant Kipling Flynn (Jack Thompson) to drove the cattle to docks and get the cattle contract.

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Transporter 3 by Olivier Megaton (2008)

I head back east to Maryland to spend the Holiday with my father and we watch a bunch of movies, but this Thanksgiving was pretty lame on the movie front, and to that end we went and saw Transporter 3. I liked the first film, but the second was pretty lame, and this one was even more so. It started alright, but the film just gets too ridiculous in it’s action, and honestly the girls have been getting much less attractive (not hard to do when the first is Shu Qi), but Natalya Rudakova is not too good looking. I wish Jason Statham would get some better roles. Not only is he a great action star, but he is a decent actor, and very like-able, and I just wish he could get better films, because this is not a good film, with bad

Frank Martin (Jason Statham) has returned to France, and is out fishing with his best friend Inspector Tarconi (Francois Berleand) when the Inspector gets a call about someone driving an Audi like crazy away from police in France, and they want to know if it is Frank, though it obviously can’t be. That night Frank is at home, and an Audi comes crashing through his wall, and inside is a friend of his, who had recommended to a job that he refused to take (and fought off the guys henchmen to make off his point). The guy is badly hurt, but has on a strange bracelet, and says something about not getting away from the car. An ambulance comes and takes the friend away, but in the back seat he finds a strange girl (Natalya Rudakova) who shows him the bracelet and says she can’t get away from the car, and he runs to stop his friend, but the ambulance explodes, and when he awakens he is in a strange room, and has one of the bracelets on. He puts on his clothes, and goes out to find out what happened.

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War by Phillip G. Atwell (2007)

I am a fan of Jason Statham, even if he is not in very good movies for the most part, and am a huge fan of Jet Li, but he doesn’t make good very good American films, so I stayed away from this, and I am very sorry it did, because this is the best American film I have seen either of them in ages. A very well done action thriller with a good cast, and action by long time Jet Li fight choreographer Corey Yuen. This is a must see for fans of these stars or this genre. I really enjoyed this.

Two FBI agents John Crawford (Jason Statham) and Tom Lone (Terry Chen) run into a shootout where they are staking out some Chinese Triads, and they follow in a gun fight, where they follow the Assassin Rogue (Jet Li) a former CIA agent, always having plastic surgery to change his identity who works for the Japanese Yakuza. They run into Rogue, and Tom manages to hit Rogue with a bullet as he is about to shoot John a second time, but Rogue falls in the water and is gone. As John recovers, he and his family head over to Tom Lone’s house for a football game, but are running late, but when they show up Rogue has been there, and has killed Tom and his wife and daughter. 6 years later John has become much harder, and running the Asian Crimes unit in San Fransisco with his new partner Wick (Mathew St. Patrick from 6 Feet Under) and a new sniper Goi (Sung Kang from Better Luck Tomorrow). The Japanese Yakuza are led by a japanese man named Shiro (Ryo Ishibashi) and his daughter Kira (Devon Aoki) who are locked in a battle with their mortal enemies the Triad gang run by Chang (John Lone), and it seems that Rogue (now Jet Li) has left Shiro and is now working for Chang, though he doesn’t get on well with Chang’s right hand Wi Ti (Hong Kong actor Mark Cheng).

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Outsourced co-written and directed by John Jeffcoat (2006)

I didn’t expect too much from this film, just watching it because it was HD and I wanted to watch it via netflix streaming on my 360 (and it did look great), but actually I really liked the film, as well as it’s message about outsourcing, and hadn’t realized that Josh Hamilton was the star. I really liked Hamilton when I saw him in Kicking and Screaming, but haven’t seen him in anything since, which I think is really too bad. This is a good love story, as well as a tale of discovering India, but also with a message about outsourcing again and again to save money, not caring about the customer. A really enjoyable film, and I highly recommend it.

Todd Anderson (Josh Hamilton) manages a customer call sales center for the Seattle company Western Novelty which sells crappy products to Americans, and he is informed by his boss Dave (Matt Smith) that they are firing the whole department and he is being sent to India to train his replacement, then will have some nebulous job after that. He doesn’t want to, but he heads to India. Todd misses the person sent to pick him up, and ends up having to figure out how to get to the small town with the call center, and then eating food that loosens his bowels before meeting his nice replacement Purohit N. Virajnarianan (Asif Basra) and the rest of the team, including the cute Asha (Ayesha Dharker). Todd has to teach the Indians about the products and how to sell to Americans, but also must learn about the culture of India so he can really understand these people so he can teach them, and only when they get good enough will he be allowed to go home.

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Twilight by Catherine Hardwicke (2008)

I have to say I was excited as all hell to see this, but still had a great deal of trepidation because the footage I had scene didn’t instill much confidence, and I am a huge fan of the novels by Stephenie Meyers (I would have read all 4 in only a week if they had all been out when I started the series). This romantic tale of a young girl falling for a Vampire was in fact very well adapted, with my only complaints being that the effects are pretty low rent (and I sure hope they get more money to do them for the rest of the films), and I am not sure about the casting of some of the Cullen family because they don’t look at all as described in the book, and since their roles were so small in the film, you can’t really see why they were cast in that case. On the other hand the many of the ancillary characters were perfectly cast. The high school students were all great, and cast very interracially, which is not what I got from the book, but works perfectly in the film. Charlie Swan was perfect, showing all of his uncomfortableness dealing with the daughter he so obviously loves. Billy and Jacob Black were also perfect. Kiristen Stewart as Bella Swan was another amazing choice of casting, having only seen in her in Zathura, I can say she is perfect for the role. And the person I had the most trepidation towards, Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen was in fact perfectly cast. He had the perfect look of horror, where he loves Bella, but at the same time wants to eat her. This is one of the better adaptions of a novel I have seen in a long time, better than many of the Harry Potter adaptions (except of course the perfect PRISONER OF AZKIBAN) and gives me great hope for this whole series. I read this film was budgeted around 37 Million (though it seemed less than that, even in them not having a Porche for Edward), but since it made that much on opening day, I am sure we will be seeing more of these films, and after seeing this one I just hope it doesn’t take them too long! In fact I already want to go see it again today!

Isabella “Bella” Swan (Kristen Stewart) has just had her ditzy mother Renée Dwyer (Sarah Clarke) get married to a pro baseball player Phil Dwyewr (Matt Bushell) so they will be on the road allot, so Bella has decided to make it easy for them, and move from her beloved Phoenix, Arizona to her father’s home in the wet and cold Forks, Washington. Her father is the local chief of police Charlie Swan (Billy Burke) and she used to come visit every summer, but hasn’t been up in ages. Charlie obviously loves hid daughter, but isn’t too good at interpersonal relationships, and gives Bella her space, which is exactly what she wants. Charlie also brings over his friends, the wheelchair bound Billy Black (Gil Birmgingham) and his son Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) who live on the local reservation, and who Charlie just bought their old pickup truck for Bella. On Bella’s first day of school, she is surprised to find that she is instantly a hit at school, all the boys falling over her, like Mike Newton (Michael Welch) and Eric Yorkie (Justin Chon) and also quickly makes friends with some of the girls, like Angela Weber (Christian Serratos) and Jessica Stanley (Anna Kendrick). Bella quickly becomes interested in the aloof adopted students of the local doctor, Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli) and his wife Esme (Elizabeth Cullen). There children are Rosalie Hale (Nikki Reed) and her guy Emmet Cullen (Kellan Lutz), the cute Alice Cullen (Ashely Greene who while Cute is nothing as gorgeous as Alice in the book, so she will really have to prove herself in the next films) and Jasper Hale (Jackson Rathbone) and of course Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Bella ends up having to sit next Edward in Biology class, and it is immediately obvious that he hates, her, rushing out as soon as class is done, and trying to get transfered out, which she catches. She decides to confront Edward, but doesn’t show up at school for a while, until finally coming back and starting to chat with her, and she is completely confused. One day another student Tyler Crowley (Gregory Tyree Boyce) loses control of his car, and almost hits Bella, who was looking at Edward across the school yard, but instantly he is by her side, and saves her, stopping the car with his hand, before rushing off. Bella is OK, but ends up at the hospital, and tries to confront Edward, though he tries to push her away, and he is obviously in trouble with his family for saving her. Now she knows something is up with Edward, who keeps telling her to stay away from him, but can’t seem to stay away from her.

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Doctor Who Story 065 The Three Doctors by Lennie Mayne (1972-1973)

I have to admit I stayed away from this because Jon Pertwee is not at all my favorite doctor, and I never did like the fact that he is trapped on Earth by the Timelords, so he is stuck working with the Brigadier and Unit. And I thought this would be like the Five Doctors, but it isn’t, as this actually does have the first three doctors, though Hartnell is barely in it, though Patrick Troughton has a major part, and I love seeing how the third and second doctors really but heads (plus Troughton is my friend Chris’s favorite Doctor, though I haven’t seen much of him, though I do like his quirkiness). This is enjoyable, and does get Pertwee off earth, which is always good, and also deals with the timelords, another bonus. A side note is I actually watched this with Netflix streaming on XBOX 360, and it looked pretty damn good, and a cool way to watch shows.

A Doctor Tyler (Rex Robison) is going out to get a special weather balloon that measures cosmic rays, the finder, a Mr. Ollis (Laurie Webb) disappears just as he arrives though, so Tyler heads to UNIT to see what they can do about it. Tyler arrives, and is shown to The Doctor’s (Jon Pertwee) lab, along with Jo Grant (Katy Manning) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney). He shows his research on cosmic rays, and which shows a strange beam heading at faster than the speed of light to Earth. The Doctor and Jo go out, and Tyler looks for his results, finding a photo of Ollis in the Cosmic Rays, and then the case opens and something comes out, and sucks him in as well. When the Doctor and Jo return, they see the energy creature, which heads toward the Doctor, and ends up sucking up his car, as they run to the lab. The Doctor, Jo, the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton (John Levene) hide in the Tardis, as strange Aliens attack Unit, and surround the building. Meanwhile the Timelords are having troubles of their own, in fact they are losing all their power to a black hole, and the source of the strange beam, and their only hope is the Doctor, who is himself trapped. So the Timelords, break the first law of Time, and they allow the Doctor to cross his own time stream, and they send the second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) to save him, and also allow them to communicate with the first doctor (William Hartnell).

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War Inc. by Joshue Seftel (2008)

John Cusack’s dark political satire is funny, though a bit of a one joke film. Still being a hardcore progressive who hates the Bush administration and the horrible war they have gotten us into, and outsourcing this war. Enjoyable and funny, with a great cast, and it is always good to see Cusack using his kick boxing skills, though this does seem like a not as good version of Gross Point blank (or at least Cusack’s character). Fun, though not too amazing.

John CUsack stars as Brand Hauser an ex-CIA agent and hit man, now working for the Tamerlane corporation (Haliburton) working for the former and formerly disgraced Vice President (Dan Akyroyd), but so out of it, he is now taking shots of the hottest hot sauce in the world without crying just to give himself some focus. After an initial hit of some Germans, Hauser is sent to Turaqistan, the first war completely outsourced to Tamerlane. Cusack is there to kill the head of the Turaqistan government, and his cover is running a trade show, which will culminate in the wedding of a slutty Central Asian Superstar named Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff). Hauser is being assisted by a Marsha Dillon (Joan Cusack). He also quickly meets a Progressive journalist named Natalie Hegalhuzen (Marisa Romei) who is trying to expose the war, which has advertisements on every corner, and every tank and humvee, and has Hauser handing out gift bags to ever Turaqi he meets. Hauser of course likes Natalie right away, though she just wants to use him to get out of the green zone, and see what is really going on.

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Quantum of Solace by Marc Forster (2008)

Great to see the new Borne film, eh, I mean the new Bond film. Honestly I am a huge Bond fan, at least going through Goldeneye, then Bond started getting too silly even for itself, so I saw that a reboot might be in order. And I enjoyed Casino Royale enough, though I did have issues with it. And as I alluded too, once again this doesn’t really feel like a Bond film at all. Sure Bond is in it, but he doesn’t smoke, and he doesn’t drink Vodka Martinis, and he only sleeps with one woman, he has no gadgets expect a cool smart phone, and they barely play and Bond Music except in the end credits and the new Bond sound by Jack White and Alicia Keys. Strangely he does go back to the old Watlher P38 that Bond was known to carry for so long instead of the new version that Brosnan got, and has a lot more stopping power. Really it feels much more like a Borne film than a Bond film, because is not cool, but brutal and efficient. And while the film is action packed, I don’t Forster is the best action director, and while there is intense stuff going on, the constant shaky cam (a huge pet peeve of mine, and something that made Kelly Sick) makes you unable to see most of it, so you don’t really feel it as well as I feel you should. This film also harkens back to earlier bond films, with a super secret enemy organization, called Quantum, which replaced the old Spectre, and seems to be the main thread of these two films, and obviously the next film. Interesting to have a real continuing story going in Bond (another addition from Bourne). I am still not so sure about this reboot. The movies are cool enough, but they don’t feel like Bond to me.

This film starts right after Casino Royale, with James Bond (Daniel Craig) driving his Astin Martin (which they had at the Arclight, and I have photos of after the break) in a major high speed chase from Lake =Garda to Siene, Italy. After the chase, he arrives to an MI6 safehouse with Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) who has been in the car trunk for an interrogation. Bond’s handler, and the head of MI6, M (Judi Dench) is there with some agents, and they start the interrogation, but find that Mr. White works for some super secret organization that has agents everywhere, and M’s body guard of 8 years Craig Mitchell (Glenn Foster) turns on them, killing White, and taking Bond a huge chase (very reminiscent of Bourne’s rooftop chase) before Bond kills him. Now all they have are some tracked banknotes, which leads Bond to Haiti to find Mitchell’s contact Edmund Slate (Neil Jackson), who Bond quickly kills, but gets a briefcase, and meets up with the beautiful Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko) who Slate was sent to kill, and Bond follows her. Camille leads Bond to her lover, Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), the head of Greene Planet, who is meeting with former Bolivian General Medrano (Joaquín Cosio), who he is helping to state a coup in exchange for some barren desert land. Greene already knows that Camille is using him to get to the General, so he gives her to the General as a present.

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Sparrow 文雀 by Johnnie To Kei Fung (2008)

A super stylish drama about the life of four pickpockets and there world getting turned upside down by the appearance of a mysterious girl. This movie is like a lyrical painting, with style, cinematography, and music coming together to make one of the most stylish films I have ever seen. Sure there is not too much substance, but it doesn’t matter, because this is so much fun to watch, and I love that To is back to his crime films, because that is what he does best. And I think the 3 years wait was worth it, though of course this is not the deepest, nor best film that To could have made, not another Exiled, but I still greatly enjoyed it. This is a romantic world, where even the villains are lovable, each in their own way, and picking pockets is a beautiful thing to behold.

Simon Yam Tat Wah plays Kei, a leader of a gang of four pickpockets, Bo (Gordon Lam Ka Tung), Sak (Law Wing Cheong) and Mac (Kenneth Cheung). Kei’s day opens with a sparrow flying into his apartment, and when he tries to get it to leave, it just flies back. His friends at breakfast take it as a bad omen, but he does not listen. The four then go out, and show their skills, seamlessly stealing as many wallets as they can. All four guys separately run into the beautiful Chung Chun Lei (Kelly Lin), all quickly falling for her, and her charms, but alas it is not to be. She wants them to do something for her, but they are not going to do it.

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Eye for an Eye 눈에는 눈 이에는 이 by Ahn Kwon-tae (안권태) 2008

This huge new Korean movie with Ahn Kwon Tae who directed Friend and Typhoon and superstars Han Seok Gyu from Shiri and Cha Seung Weon did well at the box office, but overall was a real let down. Not much substance, and I really didn’t think the cop was any better than the criminal. Overall I was not at all impressed by this film.

Baek Seong Chan [Han Seok-Kyu (한석규)] is a hot shot police inspector, who wants to quite and help run his friends exterminator business, but when a criminal uses his name to help steal a truck filled with money that belonged to a criminal Kim Hyeon Tae [Song Yeong-chang (송영창)] that he could never prosecute, he gets back in the game to take on the criminal. Baek gets a call from his transexual informant Antonio (Lee Byeong joon) about a gold shipment coming in. The cops follow the corrupt officials and smugglers, but the 4 criminals led by Ahn Heyon Min (Cha Seung Won) outsmart them, and get the money right out from under them. So they go back to lean on Antonio, and realize he was working with the criminals, but they threatened him, so he figured out that either way they would win. The cops do manage to figure out who the 3 lower criminals are though, and through them manage to figure out Ahn, who was the Warden and who met them in prison.

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Red Cliff 赤壁 by John Woo (2008)

Honestly I can’t believe it took me as long as it did to see this, not only Woo’s return to China, but with such a great case, and an adaption of the great Chinese novel, THE ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS which I have read in it’s entirety unabridged (damn it took a while). This film is the first of two parts, and adapts one important battle with Liu Bei and the kingdom of Wu battling the evil Cao Cao who has taken over the imperial palace. The adaption is a good one, though it does remove the magical elements, though still keep the great strength and battle ability of the generals. This film is epic and absolutely gorgeous, with stunning battles, really only suffering from it being a part 1, since instead of ending on a battle, it ends after a battle, with a bigger battle looming, and more character development in between. And don’t expect long battles only, because while this has 2 great battles, the rest of the film is slow character development, which I loved (having read the book and loving these actors), but which may turn some off to the film.

The film starts in 208 A.D. with the battle of Chang Ban, where the evil Prime Minister Cao Cao (Zhang Fengyi)has Emperor Xian (Wang Ning) under his finger and has Lui Bei (You Yong) and his people on the defensive with a much smaller force, and they can’t run because they are protecting too many civilians. The gruff, but strong Zhang Fei (Zhang Jinsheng), Liu Bei’s sworn borther, has a small group of soldiers protecting the retreating civilians, but needs more help. He uses reflective shields to stop the attacking calvalry with a plan by Liu Bei’s chief advisor Zhuge Liang (Kaneshiro Takeshi). The soldier Zhao Yun (Hu Jun) heads back in the city to Find Liu Bei’s wife Lady Mi (He YIn), her infant sun Liu Shan as well as her sister. Zhao Yun goes to rescue them, but is wounded and only manages to bring back Liu Shan as Lady Mi kills herself in a well. Zhuge Liang meanwhile has brought Liu Bei’s other sworn brother Guan Yu (Ba Sen Zha Bu) to help in the battle. They hold off the enemy, and Guan Yu holds back to hold off the enemy. He throws his halberd, just missing Cao Cao, who lets him go, realizing he could have easily killed him if he wanted to.

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