Archive for February 17, 2010

Taking Woodstock

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on February 17, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Set in 1969, the film follows the true story of Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin), an aspiring Greenwich Village interior designer whose parents, Jake (Henry Goodman) and Sonia (Imelda Staunton), own the small dilapidated El Monaco Motel in White Lake, in the town of Bethel, New York The hippie theater troupe The Earthlight Players rents the barn, but can hardly pay any rent. They sometimes run around naked outside, but are then chased back into the barn by Sonia. Due to supposed financial trouble, the motel may have to be closed, but Elliot assists in trying to avoid that.

Elliot plans to hold a small musical festival, and has, for $1, obtained a permit from the town of Bethel. When he hears that the organizers of the Woodstock Festial face opposition against the originally planned location, he offers his permit and the motel accommodations. Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy) provides his nearby farm land; first they agree on a fee of $5,000, but after realizing how many people will come Yasgur demands $75,000, which the organizers reluctantly accept. Elliot comes to agreement about the fee for the motel more smoothly. Initial objections by his mother quickly disappear when she sees the cash paid in advance. A transvestite veteran, Vilma (Liev Schreiber), is hired as security guard.

Elliot and Yasgur encounter a little bit of expected opposition. The local diner refuses to serve Elliot anymore, inspectors target the hotel (and only his) for building code violations, and some local boys paint a swastika and hate words on the hotel. However, these things are quickly squelched, and Yasgur doesn’t care because he’s gotten more politeness from everybody that came than he ever got from the locals who oppose it.

The Tiber family works hard and makes much money. Elliot and the viewer do not see the musical performances; on his way to them Elliot takes an LSD trip with a hippie couple (Paul Dano and Kelli Garner), in their VW Bus.

When back Elliot suggests to Sonia that they now have money to hire a worker, so that he can leave, but Sonia apparently prefers Elliot’s free services. However, it turns out that Sonia secretly (without even her husband knowing) saved $97,000, so that even before the festival they were financially fine. Elliot hates it that his mother pretended financial trouble and requested him to help out (unbeknownst to the protagonist, his mother was simply afraid of close contact with Elliot as she had with her daughter shown earlier in the film)

REVIEW:

Ah…the 60s…summer of love. Taking Woodstock is supposedly a film that explores the fun loving, freewheeling music festival known as Woodstock. The problem is, somewhere along the lines, Ang Lee decided it’d be better to make a film (which he calls a comedy) about the people behind the festival.

The good…Liev Schriber as a transvestite. Yes, he’s the best part of the film. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but he is the one thing that is the most memorable in the entire 2 hrs. He’s never gonna pass as a woman or anything, but somehow he makes a convincing tranny. The only other thing that is even worth mentioning is the LSD trip scene. No matter what film, TV show, or what have you that has one of these, they are always fun to watch, if for nothing more than the pretty colors.

The bad…how can you make a film about Woodstock and not have music? Someone please tell me that! It kind of defeats the purpose. Normally, I’m all about naked folks and whatnot, but the nudity in this thing was just…I dunno. It wasn’t done tastefully, but rather felt like it was there just because they could. For such a light hearted time, they sure chose to make this thing heavy in the drama, but then I shouldn’t be surprised. This is also the director that made the Hulk an absolute bore. The story doesn’t really go anywhere, but rather seems to jump around and not lead to any sort of finish. I’m also not really a fan of Demitri Martin. I seriously think the on;y reason he got this role was because he has that 60s look, and is Jewish. Wait…isn’t there a guy on The Big Bang Theory who fits that criteria as well? Not sure if he’s be better or worse, but wouldn’t have hurt, but that personal bias speaking.

Raise you hand if you really care about the people behind Woodstock, or should I say, seeing a film about said people. If you’re like me, you could honestly care less. Not to take anything away from these people, but Woodstock is all about the music, and that is the most glaring omission from this film, and really hurts it, besides the fact that this is a total bore. I’m sure there is an audience for this picture out there somewhere, but it just wasn’t for me. I can’t sit here and say that you shouldn’t see it, but I can say that I won’t be giving it a second thought.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

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Race to Witch Mountain

Posted in Action/Adventure, Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) is a cab driver in Las Vegas. One of his passengers is Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), a failed scientist who is giving speeches about legitimate scientific theories of UFOs and outer space.

The next day, Bruno notices two children, Sara (AnnaSophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) sitting in the back seat of his cab. They tell him they need to go to a certain destination and are willing to pay all they have ($15,000, which they removed from an ATM) to get there. They lead him to a house in the middle of nowhere. Meanwhile, Major Henry Burke (Ciarán Hinds) is searching for information on the two aliens that landed some days earlier.

When they arrive at the house, Bruno follows them out of concern and curiosity. There, the kids retrieve the device they were looking for, contained within alien flora.

When leaving, they are attacked by a “Siphon” (Tom Woodruff, Jr.), a creature built to destroy a certain target. The Siphon pursues them, until its spaceship crashes into a train, the locomotive is destroyed by an explosion in the railroad tunnel, and the creature is wounded. The trio eventually find themselves in a small town. The children explain to Bruno that they are aliens from a distant planet, who are sent to Earth by their parents because the government of their dying planet intends to attack and invade Earth so that their kind may live on there. They also explain that the object they obtained at the house contains the results of an experiment which their parents set up. The research from this experiment will save their planet without having to attack and invade Earth. However their planet’s military prefer the idea of invading Earth and sent the Siphon assassin to stop them. They are next pursued by government agencies trying to retrieve the children for experiments.

They are joined by Dr. Friedman at the UFO Expo. With help of one of Dr. Friedman’s friends, the kids discover that their crashed spaceship has been relocated to a government base at Witch Mountain. The group, now including Dr. Friedman, after evading the pursuing government agents, eventually arrive at Witch Mountain. There, the children are captured, along with Bruno and Friedman. The government agents began running tests to try to discover the secret of their powers in attempt to harness them. Burke then plans to kill them and do unspeakable things to them. Nevertheless, the two humans escape and come to rescue the kids in nick of time. The Siphon causes a distraction by attacking the base, allowing the humans to free the children and reach their ship. They launch the ship, escape through the mountain’s tunnels and kill the Siphon who boarded the ship. Once safe, the kids drop the humans off, and during a tearful goodbye, give Bruno and Dr. Friedman a device that will allow the kids to always find them. As for Burke, whose base is now in ruins, he is left getting questions from Washington. The movie ends with the spaceship taking off and returning to their planet.

During the end credits, Bruno and Dr. Friedman (now in a relationship) are speaking at a UFO convention about their new successful book called “Race to Witch Mountain”. As the couple get into their car and are about to leave, the device the kids gave Bruno activates, implying that they may be returning.

REVIEW:

I think by now you all know my feelings towards remakes. In case you don’t, I hate them and think they are an insult to the original film, but I do keep an open mind when viewing.

The remake of Race to Witch Mountain turned out to be better than I thought. I think I may have only seen the original once or twice. That was back in the day when Disney Channel actually showed classic Disney programming and wasn’t all tween happy, but that’s another topic for another blog.

While this film isn’t the greatest thing to hit theaters, it isn’t half bad.

The good…lots of action. I’ve been wondering lately why Dwayne Johnson has been doing nothing but these Disney family films, and while this is a family film, it is more of the action flick that is the reason many have forgotten he was a wrestler not that long ago. Carla Gugino in her limited capacity shows off some acting chops instead of her delicious curves (although much of her wardrobe is very curve friendly). The villain is your typical government alien hater who wants to cover it all up and dissect them just because he can. A bit overdone, but it works.

The bad…the boy is a bit cold. I get that he’s supposed to be an alien and all, but this kid has no feeling whatsoever, even at the ned when he tries to convey some emotion, it doesn’t work. I guess we have another Christian Bale or Hayden Chritsensen  on our hands. Like I said the villain is kind of overdone. While he works, I think he could have been scaled back and more emphasis put on the Siphon, or perhaps they should have ended up working together. Adding in the dog was pointless, if you ask me, and why is it the cab took so much abuse, got half fixed, and was still able to run. Something doesn’t quite add up there.

I was surprised as how action packed this thing turned out to be. This jut goes to prove my point about keeping an open mind. While I detest remakes, occasionally one will come along that is worth watching. Race to Witch Mountain does its predecessor justice by being a good film. Is it as good as the original? Well, I’ll have to watch both films again to know that, but as far as this one goes, it is a good flick to watch with the whole family.

4 out of 5 stars