127 Hours

Swanner: James Franco plays a canyoneer that gets caught between a rock and a hard place. After having his right arm trapped by a fallen rock, a man survives over 5 days until he finally makes the ultimate sacrifice. The one thing that kept crossing my mind was why would anyone want to do this? What is the attraction of jumping back a forth between rocks and crevasses? There were many moments that i couldn’t even watch. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good movie I’m just trying to figure out the motivation.

Judd: The beginning of 127 Hours reminded me a lot of The Decent. The dark claustrophobic spaces, the crawling around in tight cramped areas where normal civilized people have no desire to go creates atmosphere of danger and a sense of “get the hell out of there!” It’s a rush; I can think of better ways to get my jollies. 127 Hours, directed by Danny Boyle, is a one man show set in a space 5 foot wide and framed from the shoulders up. Franco really gets a chance to stretch and show us what he’s capable of, and Boyle gets to try his hand at a very intimate drama. I left the theatre with a much higher opinion of Franco, and my firm belief that Boyle can do no wrong reassured.

Swanner: I completely agree with you on Danny Boyle. Millions, Slumdog Millionaire and 28 days are all great movies so I’m not surprised on how good the film was but to make it such a nail biter when i knew the outcome! Considering the last hour is pretty much just Franco on screen, (and it’s never dull) Boyle uses his signature quick edits and flash backs to keep things moving.

Judd: I enjoy Boyle because he is an excellent storyteller. He can take a dead simple plot and turn it into something rich and complex; if he was a chef, his movies would be gourmet meatloaf. It’s something we’re all familiar with, but Boyle is able to make it completely new. I really liked the diptychs and triptychs that Boyle used throughout 127 Hours. It took a static setting and allowed us to simultaneously watch Franco’s emotions and reactions as we’re watching what he’s thinking about. Triptychs are an extremely old gimmick, but again Boyle is taking something that we’ve seen before and never really given much thought to and forcing us to pay attention. While I’m at it, I want to add that the movie is based on actual events and a book written the victim of said events, Aron Ralston. In the end credits they stated that Aron is still hiking and canyon crawling. So apparently, despite having to sever his own limb with a dull knife, he didn’t learn his damn lesson. As my momma used to say, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses and arm.” So while I enjoyed the movie, I know if I were to meet the real Aron Ralston I would want to punch him in his stupid hippie face.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I always look forward to the latest Harry Potter movie. There is a Christmas morning thrill that comes with the waiting and the same sense of disappointment once it’s over but this one is a bit different. We are only getting one half of our gift so the thrill lives on. (I know once I’ve seen part two I’ll have a big depression but right now I’m talking myself into this) Let me start by saying I’m a huge Harry Potter fan so that fact that I loved The Deathly Hallows should come as no surprise but i can back it up … really I can!!

J. K Rowling is such an amazing writer, she wrote each book as though she were writing it for the Harry in the story. You go back to Sorcerer’s Stone and it reads to what an 11 years might enjoy. Still a complicated story but not too mature. The Deathly Hallows is a story meant for a 17 year old Harry, so the story is darker and ready to challenge the reader more with some pretty heavy duty issues. Director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves have really digested this book and made one for the fans of the book. The decision to divide the book into two movies I’m sure came from greed from some but I’m sure the creative people as well as the fans were all up for it. We seen major storylines removed from the movies and we just wanted to see if real making “the Book” was feasible … it is and Yates and Kloves have produced a thing of beauty.

All the actors that have survived the 10+ years voyage have remained with the series and the continuity that produces is priceless. It’s also been nice to see these kids grow up before our eyes not only in height but also their talent on the screen. When looking back at the first few films you can really see how raw some of the young actors were and how much that has changed. Everyone is wonderful and the richness they bring to these characters must be so rewarding … I know it is for me.

The storyline follows Harry, Ron and Hermione as they decide to find the rest of Voldemort’s Horcruxes in order to stop his rain of terror. I’m not going to give you any more than that. It’s what was promised in the Half-Blood Prince so for those non-book readers you’re just going to have to wait and see. That is the real worry I have for the film. The fans of the movie might find the middle section a bit slow where the book fans are going to be very happy of what remains of our story. Other then that it’s a wonderful emotional film where we get to watch our friends save the day if not the world.


Sky Line

Swanner: If there was one preview that had me really excited to see the film it was Skyline. The non-stop action on the preview had me asking myself how can they keep up that much intensity for the whole movie … I was exhausted after watching it. I have seen the movie and have all the answers. They don’t keep up the intensity because it barely even exists in this what should have been direct to video mess.

Judd: If B-movie beefcake Eric Balfour doesn’t tip you off that Skyline was going to be craptacular, then I feel sorry for you. I went into Skyline hoping for one of those elusive so bad that it’s good movies. It got the bad part right. The script, the direction and the special effects were all low rent. Not that those criteria always equal a shitty movie – look at Paranormal Activity – but in the case of Sky Line, low budget equals low quality.

Swanner: The storyline is about a group of people in a penthouse apartment who have a bird’s eye view of an alien attack on Los Angeles. Other things happen but it really doesn’t matter since you won’t be seeing this movie. I’d have to say that I thought the movie sucked but the last five minutes pushed the movie to a “Wow, that was awful” point for me. I think if I rented this on DVD I’d have been pissed too. I was really surprised that the directors and writers were actually taking credit for the film. The directors are Colin and Greg Strause, the writers are Joshua Cordes and Liam O’Donnell. I would tell you avoid them but they have never written of directed before…no big surprise there!!!

Judd: Who thought it was a good idea to release this to the theatres? The writers and directors weren’t the only unknowns. The only recognizable cast, outside of Balfour (Six Feet Under, Dino Shark) was Donald Fasion (Scrubs) and David Zayas (Oz), so there’s no draw there. Oh, and if you’re wondering if the black guy is the first to die – he is.

Swanner: This is an example of why studios don’t screen movies for critics. They are hoping to get a good opening weekend out of the piece of crap before the bad word of mouth goes around. So remember this next time you hear there are no screenings for critics…it’s almost always the kiss of death. I think what added insult to injury is that they actually leave it open for a sequel.

Judd: There has to be a sequel. Otherwise how will we learn the truth behind all those open questions?

Swanner: Why do you care? And, those weren’t open questions, those were plot holes.

Judd: But … shit.

Swanner: no stars
Judd: no stars.

Morning Glory

From the director of Notting Hill, Roger Michell, and the writer of The Devil Wears Prada & 27 Dresses, Aline Brosh Mckenna, comes a new romance comedy called Morning Glory. The story revolves around Becky (Rachel McAdams), a young woman who has always dreamed of producing The Today Show, who gets hired to revive a national morning show (from the fourth network) that has spent most of it run at the bottom. On Becky’s first day she finds out that the show is a mess with talent that hate each other and crew that have been doing this crap way too long.

Feeling very much like a softer version of Broadcast News, Morning Glory brings more laugh but less substance to the table and that’s okay for a romcom that’s not trying to be something it’s not. This is a light heart comedy about change and wanting something better out of life. The cast is all really good including Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum and Modern Family’s Ty Burrell but the real standouts here are Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton.

Ford plays an aging news man who has been on the front line and now he’s a morning “wake up” show and feeling he could sink much lower. Keaton plays his co-host who has been doing this job for years and now she basically phones it in everyday.

I must say it’s a pleasure watching Keaton act when she’s got a good script. For years now she’s been stuck with mediocre writing and you can really see why she’s an icon with this film. I just wish she had more screen time. Ford really downplays his role. You can feel he’s a broken man that’s been put out to pasture and if he’d only see that this new job of anchoring the morning show could really be the change he’s needed.

I’m sure critics are going to have their day with Morning Glory but it’s a really entertaining film with good direction, script and acting. I’m just glad Brian didn’t see this because i’d hate to hear him tear this sweet little film apart. If you like romantic comedies i think you’ll really like the film



Swanner: We’ve been very lucky the past ten years. Every year we have had a new Pixar movie and just about every other year we get a new offering from the Disney animators. Of course Pixar brought us the brilliant Toy Story 3 and Disney brings us Tangled. Tangled is Disney’s retelling of Rapunzel. They have taken what really is a horror story, based on the Brothers Grimm tale, about a child that was kidnapped and held captive in a tower into a sweet magical treat. Have you ever read Rapunzel? It would keep you up nights

Judd: I have not read Rapunzel, but I’ll be sure to now that you’ve said it’s a horror tale. You’ve got to love those Grimm Brothers. Children’s stories just don’t have enough death and mutilation these days. Anyway, I’ll agree with you that this incarnation is very “Disney” – for better or worse, depending how you like Disney. I’m having a hard time writing this because I’m conflicted – I actually liked the movie. I really liked the movie. The characters are great, the evil step mother is brilliant, and the songs are wonderful. DAMMIT!!!

Swanner: When I realized Alan Menken did the music I knew this was extra special. Menken is the Oscar winning composer of Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, not to mention Broadway’s Little Shop of Horrors. Since the death of his genesis lyricist, Howard Ashman, he has been going through lyricist. This time around it’s Glenn Slater, and personally, I think we have a match. The music is a big stand out here. The characters are well thought out and the voice work works well.

Judd: The music for Tangled sounded much more sophisticated than Menken’s previous Disney films. Mermaid, Beast and Aladdin all came away with tunes that were turned into pop hits, and I’ve already read reviews that the songs in Tangled aren’t “catchy”. While the previous three are Webber quality soundtracks, Tangled has taken the Disney score into Sondheim territory. Peabo Bryson and Celine Dion aren’t going to cut a charting single with anything from Tangled – and that’s a good thing.

Swanner: So the music is great but then the cast is really good as well. Mandy Moore, Zach Levi and Donna Murphy all deliver with both song and script. The two directors (Nathan Greno & Byron Howard) are very new to directing but not the business. I look forward to more good things from them. Dan Fogelman has reworked the story to make it feel very Disney and that’s alright by me. It certainly is a beautiful film and the 3D (although not necessary) really works here to create this wonderful place that only seems to exist in the land of Disney.

Judd: While I usually hate the 3D gimmick, the scene with the lanterns out on the water would have not been the same without it. However, I’m getting tired of CGI animation. I’ve read that Rapunzel was animated too look more hand-drawn, but it was still very CGI looking, and I miss the days of cell animation. If any current movie could have pulled off such and “old fashioned” look, it could have been this one.

Swanner: I totally agree, but grandpa, the days of your youth are gone. Another thing about the script I like was how much fun it was. I was excited to follow these characters and be apart of their journey. The 1:40 running time never seemed long and that says volumes for an animated film. I loved the movie and it will make a great addition to my princess collection.

Swanner: 1/2


The beginning of Clint Eastwood’s new film Hereafter is jaw dropping. At a tropical resort, Maria leaves her hotel to pick up gifts before her plane leaves for Paris. As she’s shopping as tidal wave hits the resort, wiping the small resort town away and almost taking Maria’s life. This scene was freaking awesome and scary all at the same time but here lies the one glaring problem with this movie. The rest of the film, as good as it is, never lives up to this beginning. The film is about three different people who have all been touched by death. Maria (Cecile De France) a investigative journalist in Paris, George (Matt Damon) a physic in San Francisco and Frankie (George McLaren) a school boy in London. It’s a sensitive drama but the audience’s perception from both the beginning of the film and the trailers are thinking there has to be something else big coming and it never does..

It’s very upsetting because it’s a good movie. Eastwood’s direction is paced nicely with a fine script from Peter Morgan. The storyline deals with the Maria trying to adjust to her near death experience, George hating his psychic gift and Frankie dealing with the loss of his twin brother in a car accident. All three are looking for answers but as the film progresses we realize all three need to meet to find those answers.

This is one of those movies that had me talking in the car on the way home. Talking about the relationships and the beautiful way Eastwood gets these actors to deliver low key but very affective performances. I understand why they started the film with a bang but it leaves you wanting that high again to the point of disappointment. The main reason I’m going on about this that i want to make sure people go to see the film and understand there are no more tidal waves so get it off your mind because this movie is too good to be missed. Worse to be misunderstood.


Paranormal Activity 2

Swanner: After the success of the original it comes as no surprise that Paramount would try to capitalize on said success by producing a sequel. The problem with sequels is that they can almost never capture what the original brought to the screen. I say almost because in this case Paranormal Activity 2 has defied the odds by producing equally frightening film

Judd: I wouldn’t say that Paranormal Activity recaptures the scares of the original, in as much as re-bottles them. I enjoyed PA2, but the plot is identical to the first – a woman is afraid of a spirit haunting her house while her husband is skeptical. Add in a step-daughter, a baby, and a German Shepherd for the hell of it, and you’ve got PA2. The reason PA2 works is because it relies on the same drawn out tension building bump-in-the-night moments that made the much smaller budgeted original work so well.

Swanner: This just isn’t some woman … it’s the original woman’s sister, who felt like she’s been followed for years just like the original and it’s happening here first. This story actually happens a few months before the original took place. After their home appears to have been robbed the family has security cameras set all over the house. All the activity centers around the woman and her new baby. The scares are better and I love the twist in the film

Judd: I would not say the scares are “better” – they definitely bigger, but I wouldn’t say better. I would say the first movie is definitely freakier. The panic and dread that Katie experienced was much more compelling, and her husband’s taunting of the spirit was infinitely more stressful than this new husband sticking his fingers in his ear and refusing to listen to his wife, child and maid. In fact the scariest moments in PA2 were lifted directly from the original.

Swanner: That just goes to show you why it’s such a compliment to the first film. The husband does finally except what’s happening and when he does that great twist comes in and bam!! I never saw that coming. The original was freakier because it was new and different. This one takes what worked and expands on that without turning it into Blair Witch 2. With a budget of 3 million dollars this film is exceptional. I liked it as much as the first one and at times better.

Judd: I disagree, the first one may have been new and different, but it also had a better script. I got caught up in Katie’s panic; in this prequel the panic isn’t as intense. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed PA2, and I feel that it is an excellent follow up to the original. However, the first one kept me up at night. This one, I went right to sleep afterward.

Swanner: 1/2