Edge of Darkness (2010)

Edge of Darkness opened today, Friday January 29th. My local cineplex has a 10:30 AM show and at just $5 a pop it was quite a bargain for a brand new feature. Mel Gibson portrays Boston Homicide Detective Tommy Craven. This is his first on-screen performance as the lead actor since M.Night Shyamalan’s Signs in 2002.

This latest version of Gibson is that he’s now an older man. He was born in 1956. The fact is that if Braveheart was being cast today, Mel wouldn’t have gotten to play the role of William Wallace.

But like Braveheart, as well as his other characters in Payback, Ransom, Patriot, and even the Mad Max series, Gibson will have a role wherein grievous harm was done to his family. This time, in EOD, within five minutes of the picture’s beginning, his daughter Emma is shot at the entrance to his home, and dies in his arms. That’s no spoiler as it was in the trailer.

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Charles Schridde: An Artist and a Man for All Seasons

[EDIT: May 19th, 2011 – I have been informed by Charles Shridde’s assistant Carol Legg that Charles passed away on May 15th, 2011. I was a fan of his work and appreciated his style and his skills. He will be missed. jmm] 

These days the movies are so dependent on CGI special effects that in many cases, actors perform against a solid background. This is like acting in front of a wall. However by the time the Computers have done their work, and techies have done their work, and the producer, director, and film editor have done their thing, what we then see onscreen in the cinema halls is seemless, beautiful in scope and presentation, and some of the time, totally unreal.

Mountain Man in a Red Coat on a Tree by Charles Schridde

But when it comes to reality, nothing beats paint on a canvas. And it doesn’t get any better than the works of Charles Schridde. Continue reading

The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is one of those films that sets up a dangerous situation, then makes you wait two hours for a resolution, which never really resolves anything except to say; more of the same will follow. The start of the film is pro forma, as we all know the lead isn’t going to die in the first reel. Some one else does die before you’ve gotten to know him, and quite early in the proceedings, and that too is pro forma, as the risk element as well as the randomness of war-time deaths must be established.

Having said that, you can’t fault either Kathryn Bigelow who is a veteran of action movies having directed (among many) K-19: The Widowmaker, Point Break, and Blue Steel. Or her screenwriter and co-producer, Mark Boal, for adhering to a standard of film structure.

The Hurt Locker is a title that gives a way nothing of what the film is about. You’re not going to make the leap from seeing this title to its subject which is about a team of US Army bomb-techs on duty in Iraq working, in some cases against the clock, to dismantle, defuse, or dispose of bombs and anti-personnel explosive devices created by the enemy. Continue reading

The Book of Eli

After some days on the road, Eli /Denzel Washington and Solara /Mila Kunis drop in (and I mean that literally) at the front door of an elderly couple called George and Martha.

Whoa“,  I said to myself, “Now that’s interesting!”  You see, the most famous of all the George and Marthas we’ve seen in films are the ones we recall from Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf, the 1966 film of Edward Albee‘s play of the same name. Back then we watched Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as the leads in a film that garnered 5 Oscars.

This time around, the onscreen George and Martha shown won’t be picking up any awards for their performances, and we’ll have to settle for film vets Michael Gambon and Frances de la Tour instead of Liz and Dickie. We thank the directing twins, the Hughes Bros (Albert and Allen) for yet another of the many cinematic references in their brand new film called The Book Of Eli.
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Last Chance Harvey

Recently I watched a film that opened on Christmas Day. Not this past Christmas of less than a month ago. No, this was from Christmas Day 2008. The film was a love story and starred Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. The movie had two taglines.

The first was: It’s about first loves, last chances and everything in between.

And the second was: When it comes to love, is it ever too late to take a chance?

So you should not be surprised that the title was: Last Chance Harvey.

My brother seemed to prefer labeling this film a rom-com, while I thought it was more aptly labeled a romance with dramatic elements. But this is not a matter of right or wrong as certainly there was humor in the bantering between Thompson’s Kate Walker and Hoffman’s Harvey Shine.

Early on, Director Joel Hopkins cross-cuts between Harvey, a writer of music jingles for TV commercials, and Kate, employed as a section chief by an airline’s customer service department that solicits opinions of the airline’s services from arriving passengers. Continue reading

Up In The Air

As the film opens, we are aloft over a standard mid-size American city. In fact, we will see a whole series of cities  beneath our wingtip montage style. After touchdown, a series of talking heads appear. No, these are not TV newscasters or on-the-scene reporters. These are people who have just been given the news that they have fired, let go, laid-off, sacked, or canned, due to restructuring, downsizing, or other variations of the corporate mumbo-jumbo that basically means hit the road Jack, you’re outahere.

Up In the Air is the story of Ryan Bingham, a termination professional, portrayed by George Clooney. He is a corporate sky-warrior whose profession is to fly across the nation firing people. His firm is a corporate consulting firm hired by other corporations to fly into town and give the bad news to those employees deemed no longer needed.

You might call him the ax-man.

Bingham seems perfect for his job. He’s sincere, he not only knows what to say, but he also knows when to say it. He has heard all of it, be it anger or anguish from those who have just been given their walking papers, a kazillion times over.

We may not admire his work, but we can readily see that he is very good at it. In fact, his firm is in such high demand, that Bingham is on the road over 300 days a year.

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Kaze No Garden (Garden of the Wind)


  • Title: 風のガーデン
  • Title (romaji): Kaze no Garden
  • Also known as: Garden Wind / Garden Breeze
  • Format: Renzoku
  • Genre: Human drama
  • Episodes: 11
  • Viewership ratings: 15.7 (Kanto)
  • Broadcast network: Fuji TV
  • Broadcast period: 2008-Oct-09 to 2008-Dec-18
  • Air time: Thursday 22:00
  • Theme song: Nocturne by Hirahara Ayaka

Let’s begin with the premise of a rather successful and well-liked anesthesiologist whose personal life is a disaster. As an unreconstructed womanizer, he and women got along as famously as bees and flowers. Keep that in mind as it will become important later.

Eight years ago, his wife committed suicide after getting wind of his latest affair. His children turned against him, his father turned against him, and he was told to get out-of-town and never come back. He’s not seen them since.

Kiichi Nakai as Dr. Sadami Shiratori

Now in the present time, he’s been diagnosed to have pancreatic cancer, which has advanced to a level of 4b. What this means is that he has passed the point of having any kind of surgery or chemotherapy. He’s now on a countdown toward his own death.

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it’s Complicated

I’m just back from the local cineplex where I was a part of a packed house for the 11:00 AM showing of it’s Complicated. When you are in Florida, and the temps are in the 40’s, that sort of precludes the beach or the pool from one’s agenda, so the movies are a good bet.

With the kids back in school, and the holidays diminishing into the past with each tick of the clock, plus the aforementioned temp drops, the movie audience was a neat mix of the geriatric set, the baby boomers, and those who have to look back towards their 40th birthday rather than looking ahead.

It’s Complicated stars the ‘above the title’ A-listers, Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin as the threesome who were recruited by Director/Writer Nancy Meyers for this laugh-out-loud rom-com.

It really isn’t a complicated movie. Streep as Jane Adler, was married to Alec Baldwin’s Jake Adler for 20 years, and they’ve now been divorced for 10 years. They had three children who are now all adults.

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Ayumi – Eternal Summer

Ayumi – Eternal Summer (May 5th, 2009)
Line Communications / I-One
Catalog # – LCDV-40373 – Region 2 Disc – 16:9 Aspect
Running Time: 79 Minutes

The Skinny: This one is the follow-up DVD to Summer Jewel which was released in August of 2008. I did a post here in The Arts for that video about a month ago. That article got a lot of views, so I decided to bring in another Ayumi DVD for a new review. Prior to these two videos, Ayumi released two for Liverpool Productions in 2006. I don’t know why she took two years off between videos, but it is likely real life intervened. Rather than speculating further about what Ayumi does with her time, let’s talk about the results of spending your time watching this gem of a gravure idol DVD.

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