21 January 2009


Spanks - 4

Director - Edward Zwick

Writers - Clayton Frohman & Edward Zwick

Starring - Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell & George MacKay

Release Date - 16 January 09

MPAA Rating - R

Defiance is a film about the Bielski Brothers and their camp during World War Two. It is adapted from Nechama Tec's book "Defiance: The Bielski Partisans". The Bielski's were a Jewish family living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Their parents were killed because they wouldn't go to the ghettos by the local police under the orders of the Nazi. The brothers fled into the forest and find other survivors. Tuvia, the oldest Bielski, becomes the leader. The camp continues to grow as more Jews escape the Germans. The film follows the groups survival in the forest.

The film's trailer makes it look like its about the Jews fighting back against the Nazis like a typical war movie. There are a few battle scenes, but the main focus is the lives of the people living in the forest. The struggles of a cold winter, the sibling rivalry between Tuvia and Zus, antisemitism from the Soviets, starvation, and keeping away from the Germans to stay alive.

It is a very good story. I don't know why it isn't well known, because you don't hear of that much good coming out of World War Two. It wasn't taught to me in high school, I don't know if it was in other high schools.

Defiance doesn't use and fancy cinematography or million dollar digital special effects. It doesn't need too. Its about the people and their lives, not the horrors of war. Showing all that would take away from the story of survival. The only problem I had was the film moves a little slow at times.

19 January 2009


Spanks - 3

Director - Bryan Singer

Writers - Christopher McQuarrie & Nathan Alexander

Starring - Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Stamp & Eddie Izzard

Release Date - 25 December 08

MPAA Rating - R

Valkyrie is about the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944. Tom Cruise stars as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who is a key member of the German Resistance and the man who lead the assassination attempt at the Wolf's Lair. The film starts in Tunisia where Stauffenberg is wounded in battle, then sent back to Germany where he is recruited into the resistance. The film follows how the plot was put together, carried out, and its aftermath.

From what I read, the film is historically accurate, but has a few Hollywood liberties added. Before seeing the film I knew of the assassination plot, but I didn't know the details. I was surprised by a lot of it. The filmmakers also got permission to shot at many of the original locations around Berlin.

Valkyrie is a good film to see if you are into World War II history. It is detailed well about Project Valkyrie, the characters, and the event. If you don't care, then you probably won't like it. It doesn't have loads of battle scenes like Saving Private Ryan, so don't go expecting that. There is action and suspense, just not your typical war movie kind.

04 January 2009

Gran Torino

Spanks - 3.5

Director - Clint Eastwood

Writers - Nick Schenk & Dave Johannson

Starring - Clint Eastwood, Ahney Her, Bee Vang & Christopher Carley

Release Date - 12 December 08 (limited release) and 9 January 09 (wide release)

MPAA Rating - R

Don't base Gran Torino on the trailer. I didn't want to see it after watching the trailer, but went because my friends wanted to see it. Whoever was in charge of producing the trailer made it seem like a different kind of movie. I was very impressed with the film. It was a lot better then Benjamin Button.

The film is about racism that still exist in America in 2008. It follows Clint Eastwood's character, a Korean War veteran, who is struggling with life after the death of his wife. The fact that his neighborhood is being over run by the Hmung doesn't make him any happier. After the troubled teenage neighbor tries to steal his 1972 Gran Torino, he takes the kid under his supervision to make him a good kid.

The film is full of racial remarks to his neighbors, and sometimes he says it right to them. He says some that I have never heard too. If you don't like racist language, this isn't the film for you. Eastwood's character is one of those cool old men who don't care what people think and does whatever he wants because he wants to do it. He does a great job at it, I wouldn't be surprised if he is nominated for an award for acting or directing.

Gran Torino makes you laugh at times, but it also makes you think. Above all it entertains, and that is why we go to the cinema.

03 January 2009

The Spirit

Spanks - 3.5

Director - Frank Miller

Writers - Frank Miller

Starring - Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Dan Lauria, Scarlett Johansson & Eva Mendes

Release Date - 25 December 2008

MPAA Rating - PG-13

The Spirit is a fun comic book adaption and nothing more. If you go expecting exactly that you will enjoy it. If you expect an award winning movie, you won't. Its an origin story about how The Spirit came to be the protector of Central City. It is a good starting point for a franchise series for Lionsgate, if they choose to make more.

The film is set in a unique noir-ish world. The cars, buildings, and costumes are very 30's and 40's looking, while there is modern technology like mobile phones, cloning, big guns. Some characters even talk like they are from that era. Its like Frank Miller took one of Will Eisner's stories and just modernized a few little details.

Of all the comic book adaptions that have come out, The Spirit is the most comic book like. Samuel L. Jackson said in a interview that fighting The Spirit was like Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner and that is the perfect comparison.

If you don't think they are reasons to see the film, here are 5 other reasons to see the spirit. Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Stana Katic, and Paz Vega.

02 January 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Spanks - 3

Director - David Fincher

Writers - Eric Roth and Robin Swicord

Starring - Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond and Tilda Swinton

Release Date - 25 December 2008

MPAA Rating - PG-13

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an interesting concept for a film, but it didn't live up to the expectations I had for it. The makeup and digital special effects to make Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt look younger and older were brilliant, as was the acting and direction.

A lot happens in the film, but nothing happens. The film starts in 1918 on the eve of the end of World War I and ends in 2005 when hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans. It is narrated by the main character's daughter reading the journal of Benjamin Button to her dieing mother. It goes from the birth of Ben as an old man, to his death as a baby. Ben falls in love, Ben travels the world, people die, Ben comes home, he falls in love again, more people die, he travels again, he comes home, he is a child. If your looking for a climax it never comes. It moves very slowly, it seemed like I was there for longer then the 166 minutes run time.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a thinking film, and it grows on you a little as you think about it more. It is also depressing and sad at times. I think if it were shorter I would have liked it a lot more. If I were you I would wait for the DVD to watch it.