Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia
Filmmaker Nora Ephron transports viewers to the Paris of the 1950s and the New York City of this decade in her tale of two true stories Julie & Julia. Combining the biographies Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme, Ephron's Julie & Julia follows cooking icon Julia Child (flamboyantly, lovingly played by Meryl Streep) in her years in postwar France as she becomes the celebrated chef and author we remember today. The secondary storyline follows Julie Powell (Amy Adams), as she seeks an outlet during her soul-crushing time in New York after 9/11 and finds much needed joy in both blogging and cooking.

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Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons
Dan Brown is often, and incorrectly, described as a "beach read" author – the kind of writer who pumps out high-concept, low-brow adventures that can easily pass the six-hour flight between JFK and LAX. James Patterson, for example, is the king of this kind of storytelling, spinning tales of suspense with a dash of character and a pinch of mystery, fast enough and smart enough to be engaging without necessarily being challenging. And so, operating under the guise of your Dean Koontz's and Susan Kay's, Brown gets something of a pass in the world of housewives, Hollywood, and East Coast/West Coast commuters. Except that, when you look closer – when you look at the history and themes and ideas behind his populist yarns – a question emerges:

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Jackass 3D

Jackass 3D
Before seeing Jackass 3D, I only knew the franchise by reputation. I never watched the show or saw the first two movies. I was familiar with the premise: guys torture themselves for our amusement. The intellectual in me (tiny as he may be) always scoffed at the subject. “What a sad commentary on the state of entertainment in post-modern American (cue snobbish laugh)”. But then I remember that I watch Tosh.0 every week and seeing the self-inflected misfortunes of others makes me giggle. With that in mind, I went to see Jackass 3D and got exactly what I expected. While the 3D is only used effectively for about a quarter of the film’s sketches (particularly the first and last sketch), most of the gags are clever and some of the gags will make you gag. But there is no mistaking Jackass 3D, even if this is the first time you’ve stared into their abyss of pain.

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Mullewapp - Das große Kinoabenteuer der Freunde

Mullewapp - Das große Kinoabenteuer der Freunde
Auf dem Weg in den Schauspielolymp, scheitert Darsteller Johnny Mauser (gesprochen von Benno Fürmann) immer wieder an seiner Größe. Als Mäuserich muss man wahrlich über sich hinaus wachsen um auf einer großen Theaterbühne Beachtung zu finden. Beim Vorsprechen für eine heldenhafte Piratenrolle, gibt Johnny alles. Um unter harscher Kritik vom Theaterdirektor durch die Hintertür hinaus geschmissen zu werden. Zurück auf dem harten Boden der Tatsachen, zieht Johnny weiter.

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10,000 B.C.

10,000 B.C.
Directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich, who's previously given us Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 B.C. offers audiences the prospect of epic action on a canvas as broad as human history; what it delivers is another matter entirely. In an age where computer-generated effects make spectacle possible, and audiences reward blood-and-thunder films like Gladiator and 300 at the box office, greenlighting 10,000 B.C. must have seemed logical. I can imagine someone pitching the film, to paraphrase Team America: World Police, by saying "It's like 300 .... plus 9,700!"

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Critters

Critters
The only thing that made this flick even more strange is that I just noticed that Adolf Hitler has starring credit on IMDB for the film. And here I thought that shape-changing aliens and weird hungry, furry, sharp toothed creatures was enough. I don’t exactly recall seeing Hitler in the movie but I remember hearing that terrible song Power of the Night more than a few times. It’s been a long time since I picked up all the Critters films but I just never got around to watching them. There’s always time for cheese in The Film Reel’s schedule though and I just happen to have enough time right now for all 4 films!

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Feast
Zero-star movies are a rare and terrifying breed - films that warrant recommendation only as an alternative to physical distress. Sitting in a theater as one of these examples of cinematic diarrhea unspools creates a curious tug-of-war within the viewer. On one hand, there's an almost overwhelming desire to flee from the auditorium, to get away as far and as fast as is humanly possible. On the other hand, there's a compulsion to stay - the result of a sick fascination to see if the production can possibly get worse. Such is the case with Feast, a "horror/comedy" whose dreadfulness has defeated the marketing whizzes at Dimension Films. Rather than merely dumping Feast into theaters, Dimension has elected to do a "limited dump" - the film is showing only twice (Friday at midnight; Saturday at midnight). After that, it will move to the DVD realm, where its midnight exposure will allow it to avoid the ignominy of being labeled a "direct-to-DVD" feature.

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Descent

Descent
A film about spelunkers going where no sane man (or woman) has gone before and running afoul of things that lurk in the deep darkness… Sound familiar? If you're thinking of a misbegotten film called The Cave, put it from your mind. That movie was flat-out stupid. This one is a creepy white-knuckle excursion into horror, where even the "boo!" moments are so well developed that they cause a jolt. It's too early in the year to coronate a movie with the title of "Scariest Movie of 2006" but, when all the corpses have been counted on New Year's Eve, The Descent will at least be near the top. For horror fans and those who love things that go bump in the night, this is one not to miss.

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Games People Play: New York

Games People Play: New York
At first glance, James Ronald Whitney's Games People Play: New York appears to be what one might call an extreme reality game - a combination of "Fear Factor" and "Candid Camera" with stunts so over-the-top that even an R rating would be unattainable. But first glances can be deceiving, especially when the viewer takes the time to look a little deeper. Sure, Games People Play is the ultimate guilty pleasure with plenty of eye candy (in the form of full-frontal male and female nudity), but there's more to the film than fit, naked bodies. Not only does Whitney (who admits in the production notes to being "a reality whore") do a credible ape of reality game shows, but he offers some emotional resonance. Part documentary, part parody, and part something indefinable, the film manages to succeed on its own terms and entertain on just about anyone's.

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Far From Heaven

Far From Heaven
Welcome to the world of "Father Knows Best", white picket fences, and brilliant fall colors. Todd Haynes' Far From Heaven takes us to Hartford, Connecticut, circa 1957. However, unlike most traditional period piece dramas, the intention here isn't just to replicate an American community as it was a half-century ago, but to emulate that community as it would have been portrayed in a movie of the era. One of Haynes' goals in crafting Far From Heaven is to emulate the so-called "women's films" of Douglas Sirk. In terms of style, visual approach, and general thematic content, Haynes has come as close as it's possible to in re-creating a '50s domestic melodrama for '00s consumption.

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Once
The traditional movie musical may not be dead, but it's on life support, a victim of the changing taste of movie-goers. Once is an effort to provide a musical that works for a modern audience by grounding the situation in reality and cutting out the corniness and implausibility of characters suddenly and inexplicably bursting into song. What was magical in the '40s and '50s may be seen as silly by today's standards. However, if a film can find a way to make the songs part of the storyline, a huge impediment is avoided. That's what writer/director John Carney has achieved in Once.

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War of the Roses

War of the Roses
When it comes to dark satires of the romantic comedy genre, few films are more vicious than Danny DeVito's 1989 offering, The War of the Roses. The film revels in its blackness in a way that few films during the last several decades have; even that celebration of misanthropy, Bad Santa, offers a morsel of light at the end of the tunnel. Here, to quote Dante, it's "all hope abandon ye who enter here." As the story wends ever into a labyrinth of increasingly more absurd incidents, one can't but admire a filmmaker who doesn't feel the need to soften things to make his product more "accessible."

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Half a Person

Half a Person
Two best buddies from Sudbury, Ontario take a road trip to Toronto that will change their friendship forever.

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Killing Me Softly

Killing Me Softly
A London website designer ops out of her comfortable but ordinary relationship with a nice boyfriend when she forms a dangerously obsessive bond with a handsome, mysterious mountaineer, who turns out to have some secrets.

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Leprechaun 4: In Space

Leprechaun 4: In Space
On a distant planet, a power hungry Leprechaun kidnaps a Dominian princess, Princess Zarina, and plans to make himself king, but not if a bumbling brigade of space marines have anything to say about it. Their commander is a mad scientist by the name of Dr. Mittenhand, whos half machine thanks to one of his experiments. Once on the planet, Leprechaun is blown up, but quickly is reborn through one of the marines (ala Alien) and wreaks havoc aboard the ship, meanwhile Dr. Mittenhand plans to use the princess for his experiments to make himself whole again. But now, after many of the marines are killed, Leprechaun turns Dr. Mittenhand into a grotesque monster and plans to blow up the ship. The remaining marines have to stop his evil plans and blow him up.

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My Sassy Girl

My Sassy Girl
My Sassy Girl is the tale of the first and last time Charlie Bello falls in love. From their initial meeting, trouble is the name of the game. Imagine an amorphous mass of dating disasters and you get an idea of the relationship between the young couple. Some mysterious force with the strength of gravity between two planets must be at play between Charlie and Jordan as the relationship truly makes no sense on the surface. Everything seems pitted against the two of them. Things suddenly come to a halt when the two write letters confessing their love for each other. Agreeing to meet a year later to read the love letters together, Charlie and Jordan go their separate ways.

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