Previews of the articles – 2009/2010

Newest articles always on the top of the list.  You can click either the text link (in blue, or sometimes it is red, or maybe another color depending on the theme-of-day)  or sometimes I’ll also install a link in the image itself that will take you directly to the article.

December 2010

Shanghai

December 31st, 2010: I’ll end this first full year of my blog called The Arts with a look at this film, Shanghai. The contracts for the principals of this film were signed in 2007. The film was supposed to open on Christmas Day, 2008. Well Christmas of 2010 has come and gone, and Shanghai still hasn’t opened in the USA. I hear that this noirish film that is reminiscent of the classic Bogart/Bergman film Casablanca, will finally roll into American film theaters in the summer of 2011. John Cusack stars as an American spy in Shanghai, China in late 1941. Chow Yun-Fat is the Shanghai-based Chinese gangster who is doing business with the soon-to-be occupying forces of the Japanese. Oscar winner Ken Watanabe portrays the Japanese Chief of Security in Shanghai. Rounding out the headliners of the cast is Gong Li who plays the wife of the Chinese gangster, and Cusack’s love interest. As usual, she oozes sexuality as the femme-fatale.  I’m counting the days.

Black Narcissus

December 31st, 2010: A look back to the 1947 film called Black Narcissus. Like the current hit Black Swan, this is a tale of obsession and a kind of madness. Only these women were not prima ballerinas, they were Anglican nuns. The setting wasn’t Lincoln Center which didn’t exist when this film was made. Instead it was an isolated place 9000 feet up in the Himalayan Mountains. This film won two Oscars and is considered a classic.

Black Swan

December 23rd, 2010: This mesmerizing and haunting story is about of a ballet dancer’s dreams of perfectionwhich become an obsession leading to even more terrifying consequences. A certainty for Oscar nominations and beyond that, this is an unforgettable film directed by Darren Aronofsky. Starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, and Mila Kunis – this is a must see movie.

True Grit

December 22nd, 2010 – The directors, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen have filmed a new version of the Charles Portis novel, True Grit.  The film has a sterling cast with Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, Matt Damon as the Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, and young Hailee Steinfield as Mattie Ross. This is a truly remarkable movie and is a must-see.

The Sicilian Girl


December 20th, 2010: A powerful film taken from the real life story of Rita Altria, the daughter of a Sicilian Mafia chieftain who is slain on the orders of a different mob boss. Rita swears revenge. Years pass, and the now near adult Rita decides to take on the mob – in court. She defies the tradition of omerta (the code of silence). Directed by Marco Amenta and starring Veronica D’Agostino and Gerard Jugnot, this film has a powerful story. Despite the fact that the film is flawed in many respects, you won’t forget this tale of retribution.

The Fighter

December 18, 2010: Mark Wahlberg gets the top billing in this film based on the life of real life of boxer Irish Micky Ward. It is a film featuring an emotion-packed story, a series of fight scenes that gather intensity and length as the film progresses, and a number of superb performances by the cast. Besides Wahlberg we have Christian Bale, Melissa Leo, and Amy Adams in memorable and nominated for awards roles. At times this movie is searing and painful, not because it has been done poorly, but instead because of the story itself. Actually there are a number of stories: A family that believes in holding together even to their own detriment, a descent into drugs, crime, and prison, a love story, and a rise to a championship. This is a must-see film.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

December 12th, 2010 – This is the last I’ll see of Salander and Blomkvist for a while. It is the last of the Millennium Trilogy, and in my view, this film delivers the best reward of all three of the films. It is the most layered and thought provoking of all three films. It also has the least amount of action. Take my word, you will be glad you’ve had the opportunity to see this film.  The film had just limited distribution, but the DVD will be release in mid January. 

The Tourist

December 10th, 2010 – Even with the presence of Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, and with Paris, then Venice for the locations – this is no more than a Hitchcock wannabe. The film looks good, and has the requisite ingredients – suspense, chases, romance, and beautiful locations, but the film doesn’t get very far above mediocre. It’s not bad, but it arrived with far more expectations of being a great film than it was able to deliver.  A nice try at best.  A near dud at worst.

Fair Game (2010)


December 8th, 2010 – Fair Game is actually about two stories which are definitely connected. One is about the the WMD’s (Weapons of Mass Destruction) that turned out to be Weapons of Mass Deception. Naomi Watts stars as Valerie Plame Wilson, a real life CIA covert operations officer who was outed in the press, then disparaged, and then tossed aside by the administration who was angry at her husband, Joe Wilson played by Sean Penn for having the temerity to call out the President and his men for being less than forthcoming and truthful about the facts in the run-up to the US-Iraq war. The second story is about Valerie and Joe’s marriage which was nearly destroyed in the aftermath of one of them speaking out, and the other not being able to speak out.  Directed by Doug Limon.

The Warrior’s Way

December 3rd, 2010 – Martial Arts and a traditional western meet head on in this film overloaded with CGI film. Gimmicky but not particularly good. The hero is iconic but also laconic. The ninjas who arrived from either below the ground or from the sky seem to be no more than cardboard. I mean Yang cuts through them  with seemingly no effort at all. The director of the film seemingly is working through the technical side of CGI rather than directing actors.  Not the least bit believable or memorable.

November 2010

Cheeni Kum

November 30th, 2010 – A very fine film with romance and witty banter as the main ingredients. Cheeni Kum actually translates to Less Sugar, and you will find that the banter is not only witty, but also sarcastic in a very funny way. Pitch perfect lines with flawless timing, It doesn’t get any better than that. He’s 64 and she’s 34, and they’re going to fall in love. Only her father is dead set against this. Some nice locations in London, mostly, and New Delhi (last third of the film). Amitabh Bachchan who has now made 187 films, and Tabu as the love interest Nina, make a great on screen couple. This is a tasty and delightful story; a film that is well worth your time.

A Good Year

November 29th, 2010 – Russell Crowe and Marian Cotillard star in this 2006 rom/com directed by Ridley Scott. A stock trader from London inherits the chateau/estate/vineyards from his Uncle Henry. He intends to sell it off immediately, but things get a bit complicated, especially once he is there for awhile, especially after meeting the town belle, Fanny Chenal, and especially after Uncle Henry’s illegitimate daughter shows up. This isn’t one of Crowe’s best films, nor Scott’s for that matter, but it is entertaining, and the south of France is always a visual treat.

Thanksgiving 2010

November 25th, 2010 – My annual Thanksgiving Day article. Praise the artists, give thanks, and enjoy a break from the football games on TV and your holiday turkey day meal. Enjoy, and Happy Thaksgiving. The beautiful piece of art above is called Early Snow. The artist is Alfredo Rodriguez. For more Alfredo’s art, as well as beautiful pieces by Steve Hanks, Tim Cox, Carl Brenders, and Martin Grelle, check it out. There’s also the classic Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving Day artwork from 1943 to kick things off.


Morning Glory

Let me tell you how it all turns out ...

November 24th, 2010 : – Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, and Diane Keaton star in this laugh-out-loud, again and again, tale of life behind the scenes in one of those happy family televison morning shows. McAdams as the gung-ho to the nth degree Exec Producer who must whip, cajole, beg, or bludgeon this outfit into shape – meaning improve the ratings, or else, she and the whole dysfunctional team will be history. It’s not really can she do it, but instead it is more like how will she do it. By the way, you’ll laugh your ass off even if you won’t be rolling on the floor. For that, you’ll have to wait for the DVD.


The Next Three Days

November 22nd, 2010Russell Crowe is the headliner in this crime/thriller. A college professor believes his wife is innocent of the charge of murder that she jas been convicted of. She is presently languishing in Allegheny County Prison, in Piuttsburgh, PA. Crowe , as Jiohn Brennan, is going to get his wife out of jail one way or another. Preposterous – yes definitely. Believable – not at all. Wrth a look? Yes if you don’t expect much.


Sarkar

November 20, 2010 – Directed by Ram Gopal Varma, this 2005  film is the director’s homage to Francis Ford Coppola’s classic – The Godfather. The film has scenes that are similar in stye, look, feel, characterizations, and storyline. The film is not a remake or a re-imagining of The Godfather, but you won’t be able to NOT see how strongly Coppola’s film has influenced Varma. But this film is good enough to stand on it own as an excellent cinematic effort.


The Girl Who Played With Fire


November 16th, 2010 – The Girl Who Played With Fire is the second of the Millenium Trilogy. Noomi Rapace returns as Lisbeth Salander as does Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomqvist. Some say this one is better than the 1st one – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I don’t. Read why in this review.

Rann

November 13th, 2010 – Rann is the story of what happens when the media, industrialists with an agenda, an politician with massive egos and unbridled ambition decide to join forces.  The result is a combustible mix that would surely topple a government. But can one media figure, near or at the top of his profession provide the truth? Set in modern day India, this is politics and media that you’ve not seen since All The President’s Men. Directed byRam Gopal Varma. Very, very worthwhile.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

November 1st, 2010 – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a superb mystery thriller. A disgraced journalist and a cyberpunk computer hacker pair up to try to get to the bottom of the disappearance of the grand-niece of a young woman nearly 40 years earlier. What they discover is a dysfunctional family the likes of which you ‘ve not seen before. Murder and mayhem is what they find on the surface. Beneath the surface – it is even worse.

October 2010

The Man on the Train

October 4th, 2010 – One late afternoon in November two men, one just off the train into town, meet in a pharmacy in Provincial France. The younger, though not in any way could he be considered young, has a roughness to him, as well as a sense of steely hardness with in him. The older one, the local, is a retired literature teacher. A friendship begins, but at this time, neither one could foresee past three days hence. Each has a secret and each desires something of what the other has.  There are guns, and shooting, and even a bank job – yet this must be considered a thoughtful movie, as well as an excellent film.

The Social Network

October 2nd, 2010: The Social Network is the somewhat fictionalized but mostly realistic story of Facebook, it’s genesis, and the trials and tribulations of it legendary founder Mark Zuckerberg, currently the world’s youngest billionaire. Stemming from being dumped by a girl friend, Zuckerberg, the geek savant creates a pre-cursor called facemash which will grow into Facebook with a little from his friends – even when they didn’t know they were ‘helping’. This is a dazzling film directed marvelously by David Fincher and you’ll love Aaron Sorkin’s great script.  Jesse Eisenberg may look perfect as a computer nerd, but if this film is as successful as he hopes, he may soon move into the ranks of filmdom’s leading male actors. I’m not saying Clooney should be worried just yet. Also watch for Rooney Mara who opens the film under Zuckenberg’s verbal blitzkrieg.

September 2010

Looking Back at Heat

September 30th, 2010 – Strictly speaking this is not a review of the 1995 Michael Mann film Heat. That film is just one of seven films under discussion. All of them contain the word H-E-A-T in their titles. From the late 1940’s to the mid 1990’s, the temperatures are high as we talk about the Heat in films.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

September 24th, 2010 – Oliver Stone’s signature film, and Michael Douglas’s signature role _ Gordon Gekko – Greed is Good, are back on a screen in your hometown. It’s not 1987 anymore. It’s 2001 as the film begins and Gordon Gekko has just been released from prison. Fast forward 7 years to 2008. We meet Gekko now a successful author and lecturer on the book circuit. We also meet Shia LaBoeuf as Jake Moore, the updated version of Bud Fox, and we meet Carey Mulligan as Gekko’s  daughter. She is Moore’s girlfriend. Moore already has a successful Wall Street career. But his luck is about to change. In the wings is James Brolin as the new and updated version of the old Gekko. These four are on a collision course.   Billions are at stake. Tune in for a pulsing ride through the corridors of high finance and brinkmanship where the rewards are unlimited. You may lose your soul in the end, but what a trip.

The Town

September 17th, 2010 – The Town starring Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Rebeccca Hall, Pete Postlethwaite, and Jon Hamm is a bank heist & crime thriller that is going to pick up a lot of street creds. By that I mean Wall Street. Ben Affleck is now going to be added to the  list of bankable movie directors. With The Town now in his resume` he has directed , in this his sophomore effort as Director, a great film. I simply loved it and am calling it the best film I’ve seen this year.

The Japanese Wife

September 16th, 2010: The Japanese Wife, directed by Indian film director Aparna Sen, is self described as a visual love poem. Two lonely people, one a school teacher in West Bengal, India, and the other, a shy shopkeeper in Japan, begin a relationship as pen pals. Over time, and many letters, written in English, and narrated in English, as neither can speak or understand the other’s native language, the bonds of love emerge. So much so, that through these letters, they have married. Aparna Sen’s  story unwinds slowly and we are given some provocative questions to ponder. Can a relationship without physical intimacy be called love? And  can such a relationship be sustained over a lengthy period of time?

The American

September 2nd, 2010: George Clooney plays a mysterious assassin on the run. He has to hide out in Italy after a job goes bad in Sweden, and he barely escapes. The film opens with that pre-credits sequence. Once he is settled in (a small Italian hill town) he is asked to take one more job. Will it be his last mission? Directed by Anton Corbijn, the film is not quite the action/thriller you might have expected. In fact it is more of a think piece. It is a good movie, but not one of Clooney’s best.

August 2010

Jab We Met

August 18th, 2010:  The Kapoor’s do Gable and Colbert – really!  This is another of those on the road pictures which begin with the man, Shahid Kapoor as Aditya, and the lovely woman, Kareena Kapoor as Geet, meeting on a train. He’s depressed, she’s exuberant. It’s hate at first sight. Soon enough an adventure/rom-com begins. If you trace this film’s family roots as well as the film’s roots, we will find our selves back in 1934, when Hollywood’s first winner of the Big Five in Oscars, It Happened One Night, swept the Gold. 72 years and multiple remakes later, that film’s story is still selling tickets.  While Kareena and Shahid are not Colbert and Gable, you might like this one.

Chrissie Chau: Les Vacances d’Amour

August 16th, 2010: Hong Kong super model Chrissie Chau tours France, from Nice and then on to Marseilles, and up to Paris, Chrissie does her best to charm the people who she meets on the streets as well as we viewers. This is styled as a Japanese gravure idol DVD but it is all done Hong Kong style. And done quite well.

Love Aaj Kal

August 6th, 2010Love Aaj Kal (July 31st, 2009 release) is a tale of old and new loves.The modern (now) story is about Jai and Meera (Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Pakudone) . They both live in London. Jai wants a dream job in San Francisco. Meera wants to work in the restoration field back in India. Being practical people, they decide to end a two-year relationship, which is whizzes by from first flirt to break up in 20 minutes. Later Jai meets an older gentlemen named Veer who proceeds to tell the far younger Jai, about women, relationships, and love. So we get a series of flashbacks to 44 years ago, when a younger Veer fell in love. The younger Veer is also played by Saif. The result is two love stories separated by more than 40 years. We get some visual treats as the film was shot on location in London,  UK, San Francisco, CA, as well as some Indian locations. It’s light and lively as well as entertaining.

July 2010

Charlie St.Cloud

July 30th, 2010: Charlie St.Cloud is the story of a young man who seemingly had everything going just right for him, and then in an instant, someone he cared so much for, his brother, was taken from him. Charlie retreats into himself, basically cuts himself off from most of society, and continues – to have his brother in his life. So it seems. But years can go by, an eventually your own life demands that you live it. Sometimes it tales another person to make you see that. Set in the beautiful pacific Northwest, directed by Burr Steers, and starring Zac Efron and Amanda Crew. It is a film that might have been better and should have better. It gets burdened by the philosophical sides of it when it isn’t showing you gorgeous coastal seascapes while sailing.

Salt

July 23rd, 2010 – the new action/spy/thriller directed by Philip Noyce stars Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber. There’s a ton of action and a ton of escapes, feats that defy logic, and plot holes big enough to drive a 18 wheeler through. Nevertheless it is exciting.

Inception

 

You're actually in the middle of our workshop right now ... sleeping ...

July 16th, 2010 – Inception has a tagline which reads, Your mind is the scene of the crime. DiCaprio is an extractor. He can enter your dreams, discover your secrets, and then steal them. Christopher Nolan’s Inception opened today and is a mind-blowing experience.  Not quite like The Matrix, but similar, not quite like 2001, as we are still on our own planet earth, and not quite like an M.C.Escher picture puzzle. It is none of these and all of these – an outstanding motion picture, and easily the finest of the summer blockbusters so far.

Paa

July 15th, 2010 – Paa is a family movie from India. The story centers around a 12 year boy who has a rare form of progeria, a disease that causes an acceleration of the aging process.  Indian film superstar Amitabh Bachchan stars along with his son Abishek Bachchan and actress Vidya Balan. The story takes us between hopeful and hopeless, between alone and together, and between the real and the ideal. Simply… a superb film.

Shootout at Lokhandwala

July 11th, 2010 – Shootout at Lokhandwala is about the police in Bombay India mounting a huge attack on a suburban apartment complex to flush out, no make that a ‘shoot to kill’ siege to be done with a gang of hoodlums and goons who specialized in extortion and racketeering. The film opens after the attack is over, and then via flashbacks we learn the who and the why of the assault. Starring Sanjay Dutt, Amitabh Bachchan and Vivek Oberoi, the film is provocative, violent, and disturbing. IT IS ALSO EXCELLENT.

Predators

July 10th, 2010 – Adrien Brody and a group of humans are transported to another planet and dropped via parachute to that planet’s surface. We are soon told that this planet is a game preserve, and that the group is the game. Based on the original Predator film from 1987 which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and Jesse Ventura.

June

Shinzanmono

June 26th, 2010 – Hiroshi Abe stars as Detective Kaga in this just concluded (on June 20) Japanese television drama series. It is just one case, a murder, and it took place in the Ningyo-cho neighborhood of Nihonbashi, Tokyo. As Detective Kaga proceeds, he finds that most of the town’s neighbors on this busy shopping area, have secrets waiting to be discovered and most if not all are suspects. As the narrator says, “There’s a predator among us on these streets….”. It will be Kaga’s job to uncover the secrets and capture the murderer.

Main aurr Mrs Khanna


June 24th, 2010 – Kareena Kapoor, Salman Khan, and Sohail Khan star in this romance/comedy/drama. There’s too much on the plate and at the same time, not anywhere near enough script to make this one palatable. Kareena looks great, Salman doesn’t, and Sohail clearly can’t act and produce at the same time.

Knight and Day

June 23rd, 2010: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are the headliners in this action/comedy that borrows a little from Bourne, from Bond, and from Mission Impossible. You won’t have the amnesia, the Bondian wit, nor will you see any rubber masks being peeled off..but you will see some recognizable elements. There’s action in Boston, Spain, and Austria. In the air, on the water, or on  the roads. There’s even racing just ahead of the bulls as they run through the streets of Seville, Spain . And it is an entertaining and fun 110 minutes.

The Karate Kid

June 11th, 2010: This is an update and remake of the iconic Karate Kid from 1984.  This time it is set in Beijing China. The Pat Morita role is done by Jackie Chan. And the kid is Will Smith‘s boy, Jaden Smith. It’s a fine movie, and well worth your time. No surprises of course, as this is a feel good, underdog does well, fish-out-of-water, and coming of age film rolled into one, complete with Jackie Chan dispensing Yoda- like advice as well as teaching young Smith, and us, that “Everything is kung fu….

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

June 3rd, 2010 = Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves lives again. Well not quite. There’s no Tony Curtis or a Jeff Chandler in this one. And it was shot someplace other than Hollywood. But there’s plenty of horseman, and swordsmen, and a beautiful princess. While not quite an overwhelming success, this one can get you through a hot summer’s day decently. Jake Gyllenhaal is the titular Prince, and Gemma Arterton does her best as Princess Tamina. To no one’s surprise – Ben Kingsley is the evil uncle.

May

Kurbaan

May 17th, 2010: A Hindu college professor marries a Muslim college professor after a whirlwind romance in and around Delhi. Soon after, they move to New York. And after that, to a suburb. But all is not as it seems. Terrorism is not only present, and terrorists are not only across the street, but they also share the marriage bed. This is both a romance and a thriller. The stars are Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan.

Beast Stalker

May 16th, 2010: An action film from Hong Kong with high speed chases, cops vs bad guys, kidnapping, and an evil hoodlum, who isn’t all that bad, or so it seems. Nicholas Tse and Nick Cheung are the leads.. Directed  by Dante Lam who also helmed Beast Cops.

Robin Hood

May 15th, 2010: This film reunites Director Ridley Scott and his leading man, Russell Crowe. This isn’t the old Robin Hood, this is a prequel if you wish, when Robin Longstreet was just a bowman in the employ of King Richard. Maid Marian has become Lady Marian, ably portrayed by Cate Blanchett. Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, and Mark Strong round out the cast.

April

The Wedding Banquet

April 29th, 2010 – A look back at Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet which preceded Lust, Caution, Brokeback Mountain, The Hulk, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Connected

April 23rd, 2020 – A single Mom, Grace Wong, has been kidnapped. She’s an electronics whiz and sheget a just smashed phone to work.  She makes a random contact, and asks that the person help her. This Hong Kong movie is a remake of the 2004 Hollywood action/thrilled called Cellular.

March

A Wednesday

March 20th, 2010 – The police are going to receive a call from a man who will demand that they release four of the country’s most dangerous terrorists from jail and bring them to a specific place.  Failure to comply, will result in the detonation of five bombs placed at very public and heavily trafficked places. The Terms are non-negotiable. This is a superb and taut edge-of-your-seat thriller. Brilliantly paced and edited, it grabs you right away and doesn’t let you go.

Repo Men

March 19th, 2010 – Repo Men open today with all of its mayhem, blood and guts, and not a lot of glory. It’s kind of like Blade Runner meets Grey’s Anatomy on acid. Watch Jude Law do his best Jason Statham improv, Forest Whitaker give us his usual Mr Stoically Sensitive while he sends you to your death, and Liev Schreiber as another heartless (no pun intended) and soulless villain.

The Joy Luck Club

March 16th, 2010 – the 1989 multi-generational family novel, The Joy Luck Club by author Amy Tan, was brought to the screen in 1993. As far as I am concerned , viewing this film will create an indelible experience for you, that you’ll never forget.  Beautifully written and beautifully performed this film may be about Chinese women and their America born daughters, but it transcends ethnicity and gender.

Green Zone

March 13th, 2010 –  Paul Greengrass directs what some are calling (tongue-in-cheek) Bourne 4. While that may get you interested in the movie, it isn’t the case at all. Despite the pairing of Matt Damon with Greengrass, this is definitely not a Jason Bourne movie. Thrilling, rapid-fire action combined with the director’s signature jittery hand-held camera may invite comparisons, but this film is ripped from the real life invasion of Iraq in 2003. We are going to be looking for the so-called WMD’s via Damon’s CWO Roy Miller, and what we find is that one man’s truth is another man’s fiction.

Brooklyn’s Finest


March 5th, 2010 – Director Antoine Fuqua assembles a noteworthy cast featuring Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, and Wesley Snipes in his brand new cop drama called Brooklyn Finest. The mean streets of Brooklyn are awash with blood, cash, and drugs, in this unrelentingly bleak passion play about three cops  – one trying to get by one day at time, one trying to improve his finances, one drug bust at a time, and one undercover cop who is being asked to give them one more bust, and he wants out now, not after, but now. Their stories are going to play out separately until they meet in the film’s brutal Third Act finale.

February 2010 –

Real Clothes

February 26th, 2010 – Real Clothes, a Japanese TV drama series that aired last fall, begins as a The Devil Wears Prada wanna be. But that’s not truly correct as it begins in the same way – a girl without experience or style gets to work with one of the top people in the fashion industry. But this is an 11 episode drama series  so the scope has to open up. Karina as Kinue Amano is great as the novice fashionista. In the Meryl Streep role, we have Hitomi Kuroki who does a fine job. Kekko! That means fine and it is her mantra throughout the show.  Eventually, Real Clothes and TDWP go there separate ways. But this was a wonderful series to watch. Pretty ladies, fabulous clothes, and enough style to deplete anyone’s credit card. It is a lot of fun.

The Line aka La Linea

February 25th, 2010 – Andy Garcia play Salazaar, a Tijuana, Mexico drug lord. He’s just appointed Pelon played by Esai Morales as the cartel’s new head. This pisses off Salazaar’s step son who expected to get the call. So the newly-installed Pelon sets into motion a deal with some Afghani terrorists (The Taliban?). This angers Garcia, as well as the DEA/CAI  -pick one as we aren’t told which it is.  So Pelon has to go. Ray Liotta portrays a modern day Paladin – have gun , will travel. And he’s not the only assassin in play. This action flick was directed by James Cotten and was released just this past November.


Marty’s Mind Games (A Review of Shutter Island)

February 20th, 2010 – Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese team up again (this is their 4th film together) to give a rather unsettling glimpse into the depth of one man’s being.  Check it out.

Dance Subaru

February 17th, 2010 – Meisa Kuroki stars in this 2009 Japanese movie about the (hard-to-believe-but-it’s-true) rough and tumble world of dance. No one is getting there without a major struggle. This film also stars Korean beauty Ara. The script is what you’d expect about a struggle to succeed, but the dance sequence are superbly done.

fanaa

February 15th, 2010 – Another highly anticipated Bollywood movie from Yash Raj Films, this 2006 Romance, Drama, Thriller features two of Bollywood’s biggest stars: Kajol and Aamir Khan. Beautiful to look at, the story begins with a blind Kashmiri girl meeting an incorrigible flirt and womanizer who is a tour guide in Delhi, India. From there, the story ripples outward and still further outward touching on love and loyalty, right and wrong, and a choice between  the greater of two goods and the lesser of two evils.

Dil Bole Hadippa (The Heart Says  Hurrah!)

February 5th, 2010 – from India’s prestigious film factory – Yash Raj Films comes this Sports/women’s rights/rom-com starring Indian movie headliners Rani Mukherjee and Shahid Kapur and played out against a backdrop of cricket and two border cities Lahore and Amritsar. Despite some weighty issues that you might correctly think are being glossed over (they really are), this is still a fun picture. It can stay fun as long as you don’t take it too seriously. Formulaic – of course, cliched – naturally, memorable – not in the least, but there’s enough beauty on screen to keep both men and women interested.

Staten Island

February 1st, 2010 – Director James DeMonaco crosses Rashomon with Donnie Brascoe and comes up with Staten Island. Three guys – a mobster played by Law & Order: Criminal Intent star Vincent D’Onofrio, a deaf and mute deli owner played by Seymour Cassel, and a septic tank cleaner played by Ethan Hawke, all are Staten Islanders. Their paths will cross, and it won’t be pretty.

January 2010

Edge of Darness (2010)

January 29th, 2010 – Mel Gibson stars as Tommy Craven, a Boston Homicide Detective, whose adult daughter is shot and killed in the film’s first five minutes. Was Craven the intended target, or did it have something to do with his daughter? This is the mystery and the hook.  A fine thriller Directed by Martin Campbell, a veteran helmsman of two James Bond and two Zorro movies, this film grips you by the throat and keeps you involved.

Charles Schridde: Artist and a Man for All Seasons

January 21st, 2010  – Charles Schridde was born in 1926 and as a boy growing up in the midwest, he loves cowboys. As an exceptional artist, even as a youngster, when Charlie got out of college both Madison Avenue and the Detroit car-makers came calling.  Charles Schridde soon rose to the acme of his profession, and his illustrations for Motorola TVs and Chrysler and automobiles were state of the art as well as cutting edge for those days in the late 50’s and 60’s. But Charles never forgot his first idols – the cowboys of the west. Today, his Western impressionist paintings as well as his ultra-realistic cowboy and Indian art is in high demand. Have a good look at his works in this post.

The Hurt Locker

January 21st, 2010 – Comments about this movie and images from the  film directed and produced by Kathryn Bigelow. The posters’ tag line reads – War is A Drug. So what if your day job was to dispose of bombs like the guys in this film do? Do you know what it takes to work in an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) unit? Find some answers, not all, just some, in this film.

The Book of Eli

January 18th, 2009 – released a few days ago, the Hughes Brothers have served up yet another film set in another post-apocalyptic America. The word dystopian comes to mind but you’ll find that most reviews will include this word. I’ll limit its presence to just this preview of the post. In short, Denzel Washington as Eli has a book that Gary Oldman as Carnegie believes he must possess at any cost. The film offers tributes to many other films, and you’ll have no trouble identifying as the onscreen events unspool before your eyes.  While the film falls short of being a thriller, it does hold your interest, and likely you’ll leave the theater avid to discuss it.

Last Chance Harvey

January 17th, 2009 – A Christmas Day release back in 2008, LCH is the story of two people:  Harvey Shine, the American writer of  jingles for TV commercials, and Kate Walker, a 40 something single woman dealing with life in London, UK.  A set of circumstances will bring them together to begin a romance. We are along for the ride, and guess what – the script is so good that we really care for these two as portrayed by Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. This film breaks no new ground in the romantic film genre, but we are entertained and pleased by their story. A big extra plus is that London has never looked better.

Up In The Air

January 16th, 2009 – A new film from Director Jason Reitman (his 3rd feature film). George Clooney plays a terminator of a sort. He doesn’t whack people in the usual sense. Instead his firm is hired by other corporations to be the bearer of bad news. In short, he fires the people face-to-face that these firms won’t or can’t do themselves.  That is the starting premise of the film. Does Ryan Bingham (Clooney) have a personal life? Is he happy?  Well,  Reitman will attempt to answer  these questions by introducing other characters like  Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) and Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), a pair of females, who will indeed turn Bingham’s life upside down.

Kaze No Garden (Garden of the Wind)

January 8th, 2009 – A warm and wonderful Japanese TV Drama Series about a noted and well liked anesthesiologist, Dr. Sadami Shiratori, played by Kiichi Nakai, who is an unreconstructed womanizer. His penchant for affairs, cost him his wife who committed suicide upon hearing of his latest affair, and he was told to leave town and never return. He has not seen his father, played by Ken Ogata, nor his children – Gaku now 14, and Rui, a 21 year old played by Meisa Kuroki in nearly a decade. To his family, he is as good as dead. And he comes to know that he has pancreatic cancer and it has advanced beyond any hope of being cured, so in a short time he will be dead.  This news is enough for him to head home, to the beautiful town of Furano, on Japan’s northern-most island, Hokkaido to find his family before his ‘divine punishment’ takes his life.  Simply a beautiful story, with nature providing a battalion of flowers as a back-drop. Unforgettable.

 

Meisa Kuroki as Rui Shiratori

 

it’s Complicated

January 6th, 2010 – Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin are the headliners in a frothy, funny, and very entertaining rom-com that’s written and directed by Nancy Meyers.  Streep, as Jane Adler, is the very successful baker/restaurateur who was married to Baldwin’s Jake Adler for 20 years. And they’ve be divorced for 10 years. Martin is the architect who is designing Jane’s new kitchen. Under Meyer’s deft direction, all of these characters get involved. Just as the those chocolate croissants that Martin and Streep cook up one evening in the film, which look delicious, the overall flavor of this film will have you laughing out loud repeatedly, which is itself a scrumptious recipe for a delightful couple of hours at the cinema.

Ayumi – Eternal Summer

January 5th, 2010 – A review of another Gravure Idol DVD – meaning a nice look at at a young beautiful lady on a beach, in a bikini.  Just the ticket for a cold winter day. Enjoy.

Ai No Uta aka Love Song

January 4th, 2010 – an article about a Japanese TV Family Drama Series . When Yuji Kataoka’s good natured middle aged man (played by the effervescent Koji Tamaki) meets up with Miho Kanno’s Ai-chan, a surly and disagreeable woman, you just know you’re going to watch a feel-good story and changes will occur. And they do, just not in the way you expected or hoped for.

Sherlock Holmes

January 3rd, 2010 – A review of the Guy Ritchie helmed, Warner Bros. release of Christmas Day, 2009. Starring Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson, this is a Holmes story far closer to the fictional detective series as written by Arthur Conan Doyle over a hundred years ago, and a distance apart from the  Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Holmes and Watson of the 1939 film. The difference is in the writing and of course in the vast budget given to Ritchie to bring this to the cineplex theaters of today.  In short,  a most entertaining film.

December 2009

Ordinary Miracle aka Arifureta Kiseki

December 22nd, 2009 – Two strangers meet on a train platform. They’ve just prevented another man from taking his own life by leaping in front of an oncoming train. This is a beautiful story of two ordinary people who experience an unsurprising or ordinary miracle by getting to know one another. The stars are Yukie Nakama and Ryou Kase. This is a Japanese TV Drama Series now available on DVD with English/Chinese/Malay subtitles.

Vengeance

December 19th, 2009 – This film was shown at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Directed by Johnny To and written by Wai Ka-Fai, the film covers some familiar turf for To’s fans. Yes, once more we are involved with some Triad hitmen, like his previous films The Mission and The Exiled. This time To adds a French icon, Johnny Hallyday to his cast. It is nothing new in the world of Hong Kong action movies, but Johnny To is the best there is in this genre. Check out the review.

Avatar

December 18th, 2009 – Director James Cameron was dreaming of this picture decades ago. Only the technology he needed to make this film had not yet been invented. So he put it aside and moved on to other things like Terminator and Titanic, and of course, the fictional Aquaman. Eventually the gearheads built what he needed, and after  the 4 years it took to make the film, he has released it as a Christmas  present to film-goers. He spent a quarter of a billion dollars to make this film, and that figure may be on the low-side. For sure, it is a must see.

To The One I Love (Itoshi Kimi e)

December 13, 2009 – A Japanese TV-Drama series.  Superbly done, touching, emotional, and ultimately extremely satisfying. The stars are Miho Kanno and Naohito Fujiki. The article includes images from the drama as well as a link to a YouTube  video of the theme song by Naotaro Moriyama.

Invictus: Clint Eastwood’s New Film

December 11th, 2009 – Invictus opened today in theaters across the US. I went to a 10:00 AM showing. The theater was mostly empty at that time of day. Retirees and layabouts like me made up the sparse audience.  Anyway, I went, I saw, I wrote. Check out my semi-synopsis/semi review. The opinions in the review are mine and mine alone. Remember what Truman Capote once said, That’s not writing – that’s typing. Of course I’m talking about myself, not the screenplay.

A Look at the Film: Delhi-6 – 12/10/09

A beautiful and thoughtful film directed by Rakesh Omprakash Mehra. Delhi-6 begins in New York and ends in Chandni Chowk, a neighborhood of Delhi, India. An American man accompanies his ailing grandmother back to India as she wants to die on the soil where she was born. For Roshan, this was to be a short visit. He’d stay just long enough for her to get settled. But India reaches out for him. I thought it was superb.

Ayumi – Summer Jewel – 12/07/09

Journey off to Okinawa and enjoy a beautiful gravure idol at work. Gorgeous Japanese model Ayumi looks great in bikinis and so forth. No sex, no nudity – just a very pretty lady.

Ayumi in Summer Jewel

November 2009

Itchy Heart – The Follow Up to The Seven Year Itch: Fifty Years Later – 11/29/09

More than 50 years ago, in 1955, Marilyn Monroe stood on a subway grate on a Manhattan Street and film history was made. It was a male fantasy – a sexy woman moves into the upstairs apartment and your wife is out-of-town. The film was called The Seven Year Itch. Well, Chinese movie director Matt Chow gave us his version of a husband with suddenly new found freedom. This movie was called Itchy Heart. Check it out in this article.

Cherrie Ying in Itchy Heart

Happy Thanksgiving 2009 – 11/25/2009

Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful for all that we have. A look at the art of James Bama whose incredibly realistic art will make you think of the time when our country’s frontiers were still be being pushed westward, and a time when having a turkey for dinner involved hunting on foot rather than a drive to the supermarket or your favorite restaurant.

Ready to Rendezvous by James Bama

The Actress Who Never Was or The Mysterious Case of Aya Takanashi – 11/13/2009

What ever became of the actress called Aya Takanshi who starred opposite Tom Selleck in the 1992 movie Mr. Baseball? Not only did she never appear again in a film in either Hollywood or Japan, but you can’t find even a single image of her on the web (until now), and trailers for this film are few and hard to find (Try Videodetective.com) . The NY Times did not include even a single image of her in their trailer for this movie. You will have a good look at her in this post, but I have no answers – only questions that start and end with why?  and why not?

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Do You Wanna Dance? – November 12th, 2009

We’ll start with the music of The Beach Boys, visit comedian Jackie Mason, followed by a look at Neve Campbell’s dance film The Company, and end with a look at the breath-taking works of Chinese artist Guan Zeju whose paintings about the ballet are so very memorable.


Two Artistic Views of Japan: By Sofia Coppola and Jeremy Barlow – November 10th, 2009

I recently watched the Sofia Coppola film, Lost in Translation again. I thought about the film and the heady idea of dealing with being alone, tired, and isolated in a foreign country. And then I thought of another kind of view of Japan: that would be the art of Jeremy Barlow. This column is the result.

Buckaroo – November 8th, 2009

Near the end of the film The Hunt for Red October, Jack Ryan, played by Alec Baldwin, says to Captain Ramius played by Sean Connery, “Welcome to the New World, Captain.” So the defection by the Russian submarine captain was successful.  But the American west of today is quite different from  how it was in the days of the frontier. We can see how it was if we examine some art work by painters Martin Grelle, Alfredo Rodriguez, and Howard Terpning, and we can rediscover the days of the ‘buckaroos‘.

Colors: Past & Present – November 5th, 2009

Let’s mix movies like Easy Rider, The Color of Money, and Apocalypse Now, a discussion about Dennis Hopper and combine that with the art by Jeff Ham and John Nieto, and we’ll call the article, Colors: Past & Present.

Ham (top) and Nieto (bottom)

October 2009

Koyuki On My Mind

October 30th, 2009 – A nice look at Japanese actress Koyuki, one of my favorite actresses who has a brand new movie called It’s On Me (Watashi Dasu Wa), opening in theaters in Japan on October 31st. In this feature we will have a look at some of her work in the movies and on Japanese television.

What Do the Papers Say?

October 26th, 2009 – Go to the movies often? Read the papers regularly? Did you ever think about how some great movies are about newspapers? Here’s a column that is basically Your Favorite Movies About Newspapers. You do recall All the President’s Men, don’t you? Well, that’s just one of many.

At times it looked like it might cost them their jobs, their reputations, and maybe even their lives

The Frontiers Within Us

October 26th, 2009 – Inside everyone is a frontier waiting to be discovered. And this is the unifying thread that ties together three movies: The Last of the Mohicans, The Last Samurai, and Dances With Wolves. The hero of each of these films not only crossed physical frontiers but also the frontiers of choice. Artist B.C. Nowlin’s works are also similar in nature as his paintings show a people striving to cross the unknown to reach ‘home’.

Takin’ A Chance on Love

October 25th, 2009 – Going out with a member of the opposite sex is always something of the unknown. At least at first. It is the beginning of a story whose ending is not known. The Art of Rob Hefferan is not an unknown commodity. When it comes to romantic encounters, in oils on a canvas this artist is really a sure thing.

Travels: Paris & Elsewhere

October 25th, 2009 – An American in Paris, the movie, was released in 1951. In early September of 2009, there was another American in Paris, and that would be me.


On The Road Again

October 25th, 2009 – Willie Nelson’s song makes me think of how an idea traveled – from the mind of a Harvard scholar, to a movie screen at a multiplex theater near you .


Changing Times

October 20th, 2009 – Bob Dylan’s masterpiece, The Times They Are A-Changin’ serves to introduce a film review with Michelle Yeoh and Michelle Krusiec in the 2007 released film Far North.


Cocktails on the Verandah

October 19th, 2009 – Travel with me along the fabulous Cliff Walk in Newport, R.I. and get a peek at some of the ritziest summer homes you could ever imagine. Some so opulent they even made it into movies like The Great Gatsby and High Society.

The Breakers - an opulent summer shack of 70 rooms

The Breakers - an opulent 'summer shack' of 70 rooms

Leave out the Details

October 17th, 2009 – A look at the beautiful art of two artists, R.C. Gorman and Nguyen Thanh Binh, who utilized the ‘less is more’ theory.

 

Leave Out the Details

Leave Out the Details

 

Orientalist Art & Other Delights

October 17th, 2009 – Artwork by Jean-Leon Gerome, James Tissot, and other Europeans who discovered the tastes and visual flavors of North Africa and the Middle East.

The Pyramid Road by Edward Lear

The Pyramid Road by Edward Lear

The Good Guys

October 17th, 2009 – Some of my favorite Good Guys from the movies: the cops with the gold detective shields.

Bullitt starring Steve McQueen

Bullitt starring Steve McQueen

Africa: A Grand Setting for the Movies

October 15th, 2009 – The Dark Continent has always been an interesting place to make a movie. Have a look at Blood Diamond, Gorillas In the Mist, Out of Africa, and many more.

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Seduction

October 15th, 2009 – Have a look at three of the best seduction scenes ever in films. The Graduate, Network, and North by Northwest.

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Details

October 14th, 2009 – Artwork by David Gallup, Jiang Guo Fang, Jia Lu, and Liu Yuan-Shou where the beauty of enjoying these paintings is derived from looking at the small details painstakingly crafted by the artist as well as the overall image.

Armillary Sphere by Jia Lu

Armillary Sphere by Jia Lu

Rainy Days in Bangkok and Osaka

October 14th, 2009 – Ridley Scott’s Black Rain and a look at some of the art of Myoe Wun Aung that I saw one rainy day at a gallery in Bangkok, Thailand.

Afternoon by Myoe Win Aung

Afternoon by Myoe Win Aung

East-West Diversions

October 14th, 2009 – If you can’t bring home a fabulous Chinese painting to your significant other, then bring her a bouquet of flowers.

Scenery by Wu Zuoren

Scenery by Wu Zuoren

Great WWII Movies: aka Teamwork

October 14th, 2009 – Some of the best of the classic World War II movies – Bridge Over the River Kwai, The Guns of Navarone, The Great escape and others in which Teamwork was the essential ingredient.

Steve McQueen from the Great Escape

Steve McQueen from the Great Escape

 

Room With a View

October 14th, 2009 – Some great scenic movies with a room with a view, including – what else: A Room With A View

Sammi Cheng in My Left Eye Sees Ghosts

Sammi Cheng in My Left Eye Sees Ghosts

Sea Fever & Siren Songs

October 14th, 2009 – Some grand marine art featuring Rodney Charman, Joe McGurl, Terry Bailey, and John Mecray

Hong Kong Ancjorage at Twilight by Rodney Charman

Hong Kong Anchorage at Twilight by Rodney Charman

Etched in Time

October 14th, 2009 – What do films like Cool Hand Luke, The Shawshank Redemption, and Apocalypse Now have in common?

Googoogajoob

October 14th, 2009 – The Beatles-  Strawberry Fields Forever, Lavender, a movie with Hong Kong film star Kelly Chen, and the great paintings of places in and around Aix-en-Provence in the south of France by Jeremy Barlow.

 Cafe Aix-en-Provence by Jeremy Barlow

Cafe Aix-en-Provence by Jeremy Barlow

A Kiss is Just a Kiss

October 14th, 2009 – Some of the best movies ever where: Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl…..Casablanca, Fatal Attraction, Double Indemnity, Heartbreak Kid, & King Kong

Bogie & Ingrid

Bogie & Ingrid

Just One Look

October 14th, 2009 – Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window – why we are all voyeurs

Methodology & Method Acting

October 14th, 2009 – A trip to Paris and a day at the Louvre made me think of On The Waterfront with Brando, and the TV Series Taxi that featured actor Jeff Conaway as Bobby Wheeler and Danny DeVito as the taxi dispatcher from hell.

The Louvre

The Louvre

One Small Dab to Begin – Art by Howard Behrens

October 14th, 2009 – Fabulous art by Howard Behrens, not painted with a brush; instead the paint is placed on the canvas with a palette knife.

My Beloved by Howard Behrens

My Beloved by Howard Behrens

Serenissima & Summertime

October 13th, 2009 – How romantic – David Lean’s classic romance in Venice – Summertime, plus the stunning Venetian views by means of the wonderful  art of Mark Pettit.

Got Enough Space? – Lawrence of Arabia & Doctor Zhivago

October 13th, 2009 – The clutter in your apartment and the gorgeous vistas by Director David Lean in Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia.

Ourenz, Ourenz - on the way to .... the next well

Ourenz, Ourenz - on the way to .... the next well

The Color Red

October 13th, 2009 – Where ever you go, what ever you do, and more – the indispensable color of life – red.

Wang Yi Hua

by Wang Yi Hua

So Who Do You Like Today

October 13th, 2009 – All the movies men love, sorry make that many of the movies men love, sorry make that many of the movies that most men will watch again and again and again…like every time they’re broadcast.

I don't have to wipe out everyone Tom, just my enemies

I don't have to wipe out everyone Tom, just my enemies

Emi Kobayashi – Alii

October 13th, 2009 – Visit Palau with gravure idol Emi Kobayashi

Living With Water

October 13th, 2009 – Art from SE Asia by Tin Tun Hlaing

Rowing on the Irawaddy by Tin Tun Hlaing

Rowing on the Irawaddy by Tin Tun Hlaing

The City By The Bay

October 13th, 2009 – I left my heart in San Franciscoremembering the city by the bay for real and in the movies.

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge you will never see - except in the movies

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge you will never see - except in the movies

Xie Qiu Wa & Dong Wen Jie: Exquisite Beauty by Chinese Artists

October 13th, 2009 – Is it real or is it memorex; Art may be the one place left where your eyes aren’t being deceived. Beautiful works for a husband and wife team of oil painters from China.

Sunsetset Thoughts by Xie Qiu Wa

Sunset Thoughts by Xie Qiu Wa

Miyabi Isshiki – Good to Go!

October 12th, 2009 – Gravure Idol DVD review

Miyabi Isshiki

Miyabi Isshiki


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