Saturday, January 15, 2011

Death of a Survey

Just as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman wished to have many, many people at his funeral, I wished to have many, many people fill out this survey....and.....well, we did not have that many people at all.  Two in fact.

And, so it was a tie.

Hello Dolly vs. Juno.

And......the Brother votes for Juno.

So, here's how its going to go: January (Phantom of the Paradise), February (The Ace of Hearts), March (Juno), April (Hello Dolly).

Thanks to those two people who voted.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 9 out of 10
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieren Culkin
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Comedy, Romance
Run Time: 112 minutes

Scott Pilgrim's (Cera) life is great: he's 23, dating a cute little highschooler named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), mooches off his gay roommate Wallace (Culkin), is part of the awesome band Sex Bob-Omb, and has just met the girl of his dreams--literally!  He first sees Ramona Flowers (Winstead) as she skates through his dreams, and when he sees her at a party (confirming her existence) he decides he needs to go out with her.  There are just a few issues.  The first is Knives, who has just pronounced her love for him.  The second is Ramona.  To date her, he first must defeat her seven evil exes.

This is a fun-filled action movie that's great for gamers.  Besides being filled with video game references, sound effects, and soundtracks, all of Scott's battles are choreographed as though he were in a video game, with really cool attacks and tough boss levels (ie. the exes).  The whole movie almost seems to flow like a comic book, with various sound effects such as doorbells not only sounding but flashing across the screen (ie. DINGDONG).

The evil exes were incredibly creative, from Matthew Patel who has magic powers, Todd Ingram the psychic-powered vegan, and the Katayanagi twins with their almost "other-worldly" musical talent.  Must be seen to be believed!

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a movie with a little bit of everything.  Like action?  The fight scenes are definitely action-packed.  Like drama?  How about Scott having to juggle two girls because he can't just tell the one "no"?  Romance?  This guy like a girl so much he will fight her seven evil exes just to go out with her!  Sounds good to me :)  There is also a ton of comedy (more visual than anything else, so a little hard to describe and still sound funny), and the premise is totally fantasy genre.  Basically, if you like action, romance, fantasy, drama......well, then you might just enjoy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World :)

My Brother's official rating is a 12 out of 10 ^_^

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Last Poll

The results from the latest poll have been collected, and all the movies that were voted on have been moved to the next poll.  This is going to be the last one, though.  I can tell from how you guys have been responding that polls in general are not your thing.  That's fine.  So, I'm just going to ask that you fill out this last one.  Whatever movie gets the most votes will be the one that will be used for the March header.  In the case of a tie, I'll let my brother pick.  To those of you who have been responding, thank you.

In the future, I'll choose the blog headers myself.  If you have a movie that you really want to see as a theme, you can always email me.  That way, if you want to be involved, you can be, and if you don't, you don't have to worry about it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Ace of Hearts (1921)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 9 out of 10
Director: Wallace Worsley
Starring: Lon Chaney, Leatrice Joy, John Bowers
Rated: Not Rated
Genre: Silent, Romance, Drama, Crime
Runtime: 75 minutes

A secret society meets to discuss the fate of their "client," a powerful and corrupt man whom they believe should be killed for the greater good.  The assassin will be one of their own, and the choice is determined by whoever among them draws the ace of hearts playing card.  Farallone (Chaney) and Forrest (Bowers), two colleagues in the society, find themselves rivals for the affections of Lilith (Joy), the only female member.  However, Lilith is only concerned with the group's secret "cause," and refuses both of their advances.  However, when Forrest is dealt the ace of hearts, she agrees to marry him.  But, after their first night together, it seems that Forrest might not be able to carry out the plans.

This was a very interesting silent film, and one I enjoyed quite a bit.  There were some parts that were slow, but overall, it was an exciting premise and carried out very nicely.  Chaney and Bowers were perfect rivals.  Watching their characters Farallone and Forrest interact created just the right amount of tension and drama without being over-the-top.  Both actors had faces you could read like a book, especially in scenes of high emotion.  Bowers has very expressive eyes, and Lon Chaney, the "Man of a Thousand Faces" gave yet another riveting performance.  His character was so beautiful and so pained; its hard not to feel for Farallone!  Chaney's soulful eyes just swallow you up.  In a perfect contrast to this dark, broken character, Forrest is boyish and innocent, shy and excitable; this is a young man with his first crush.
Leatrice Joy also did a wonderful performance as Lilith.  Oftentimes, in films where the main purpose of a female character is to cause tension between the two male leads, its easy for them to become underdeveloped and one-sided.  However, Joy's character is full of life, and fascinating to watch as she makes her transformation from anarchist blindly following a cause to a tender, gentler woman who cares more about love than political upheaval.

All in all, a good performance.  Despite his small amount of screen time, Hardee Kirkland made a wonderful antagonist/villain as the society leader Mr. Morgridge.  I have to say though, that Chaney stole the show.  The scene where Farallone stands in the rain staring up at Lilith's bedroom window just breaks my heart.  His performance is touching, painful, and sad, but beautiful.  Sometimes, complaints are made that Chaney has a tendency to over-act.  However, if he does, this is not one of those films!

Please Poll

I have posted a poll that includes all the movie titles that I've posted on this blog up to this point.  Please select the ones you would want to have for the March header for the blog.  You can vote multiple times through January 12.  After that, I'll shorten it down to include only the posts that got votes, and we'll try again until its lowered to just a few movies and I'll pick the one with the most votes.  If I don't get any votes (or a poor turnout), I'll just pick a header myself. So, please vote!

On a side note, if you know of anyone who might enjoy this blog, please pass the URL on to them but no pressure if you don't.   Thanks for your help :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

And The Results Are In!

The results of my survey are finally in, although, I must say I was a bit disappointed in the poor turnout. Only three people voted, and these three people yielded me with four responses (since you could vote for multiple options).  And so, here are the results of my survey: What do you think of the new header?

2 votes-- I like it; keep it up
0 votes-- Yuck. Go back to the original header
2 votes-- I like the idea, but do a different movie
0 votes-- I have a great idea for an image/header and will email it to you.

And so, here's what I'm going to do.  Since its pretty much balanced between liking this header and doing a different movie, I'm going to change the header every month.  So, The Phantom of the Paradise will be our header for January 2011, and coming up in February, I'm posting a header for the 1921 silent film Ace of Hearts.   After that....well, that's going to be up to you guys.  I'll be posting a series of surveys in an attempt to lower it down to the next month's header (March).  If no one really responds to this next survey, I'll select the header myself from then on.

Just a side note: in an effort to make this blog as exciting as possible, besides just posting a header for each movie, there will also be something posted at the bottom of the page, and a cast list of some of the characters in the sidebar.  This will change every month depending on the movie chosen.

A bonus for Phantom of the Paradise: because this is a musical, click on the pictures and you will be linked to a song from the movie!  After the month is over, I'll post these in the Special Features section.

One more addition I would like to mention: I've been adding labels to all of the review posts.  Currently, most of these posts just mention the basic information on the blog already, such as director and rating; this is to help you find more movies by certain directors or starring certain actors.  I'm also adding to it to give you labels with character names (ie. Hannibal Lecter for Silence of the Lambs) and topics or themes (ie. the Mafia in Mickey Blue Eyes).  All to make the movie selection process more pleasant for all of you!

Have a suggestion for making this blog better?  Please let me know ^_^

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jakob the Liar (1999)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 8 out of 10
Director: Peter Kassovitz
Starring: Robin Williams, Hannah Taylor-Gordon, Alan Arkin
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Drama, War, Comedy
Runtime: 120 minutes

During the Nazi occupation in Poland, Jewish restaurant owner Jakob Heym (Williams), is caught out after dark by one of the German soldiers, and even though he is not violating curfew, is sent to the headquarters just outside the ghetto to receive his punishment.  While there, he overhears a message on the radio that the Russian troops are nearby, meaning that the Jews in Poland could be liberated from their current state of oppression.  On his way home, he is found by 10 year old Lina (Taylor-Gordon), who managed to escape from the train that was transporting her parents to the concentration camps.  He takes her home and hides her in his attic so the Nazis don't find out about her.  Things start to get complicated though.  After Jakob tells his friend Kowalsky (Bob Balaban) the barber about the Russians (to prevent him from killing himself), and later his friend Mischa (Liev Schreiber) (to momentarily distract him), news starts to spread around the Ghetto that Jakob has an illegal radio.  And to keep moral up, Jakob lies, creating news for his friends and neighbors.

This was a very, very good film.  Robin Williams is amazing as Jakob, bringing so much life to the character.  I like how multi-layered he is.  Jakob is not strictly a good man or a bad man, but he has all sorts of conflicts within himself that show through very strongly.  We are painted the picture of what it must have been like for a man living in the ghetto, having lost his wife, saddled with an unexpected child, and now, trying to keep the people happy without the Nazis catching word of his "radio" which would lead to his imprisonment and death.  There is just the right amount of fear and duty in the character; even though he is afraid of the Nazis, he's willing to help his friends and neighbors stay positive through his lies.

Its hard to make a WWII drama that has lighter, comedic bits, because of the heavy subject matter.  However, Jakob the Liar manages to bring some humor to its presentation, especially in the interactions of Jakob and Lina, and Mischa, the former boxer he once managed.

Despite the humorous aspects, this movie can also be very sad.  The ending in particular left me with mixed feelings, but overall, I enjoyed the film.  If you have an interest in war drama or WWII in general, then this is a film you would probably like. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sweeney Todd in Concert (2001)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 10 out of 10
Director: Lonny Price
Starring: George Hearn, Patti Lupone, Neil Patrick Harris, Timothy Nolen
Rated: Not Rated
Genre: Musical, Drama, Crime, Horror
Runtime: 150 minutes
Other Versions: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1982), Sweeney Todd (2007)

Initially performed on PBS, this is a wonderful production of a story that is as tantalising and forbidding as Mrs. Lovett's meat pies:

After he is wrongly imprisoned for life by a corrupt judge who wishes to seduce his wife, Benjamin Barker (Hearn) returns to London under a new name: Sweeney Todd. He joins forces with a pie maker, Mrs. Lovett (Lupone) to kill all those who wronged him. Sweeney, a barber, slits the throats of his victims while shaving them, while Mrs. Lovett turns the bodies into meat pies to hide the evidence. 

Despite the production's dark premise, this truly is an amazing musical.  George Hearn brings depth and passion to the character, making Sweeney more of an anguished anti-hero than a cold, heartless villain.  Deep emotion can be seen in just a glance or in an expression on his face.  Hearn's Sweeney provides just the right amount of bloodlust and human feeling; it almost seems that he is justified in his dark killing spree....almost.  Instead of a dark, sinister murderer, we are shown a man in the greatest pain; his wife Lucy is dead and his daughter Johanna is in the custody of the same man who had him imprisoned and drove Lucy to suicide 15 years earlier.  Of course, its not surprising that Hearn's performance is so powerful; he played the role of Sweeney once before in the 1982 film production Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street alongside Angela Lansbury.
Patti Lupone's performance as Mrs. Lovett is simply delicious.  She brings the perfect combination of humor, suspense, and drama to the part.  Her Mrs. Lovett is not only devious, but she seems completely competent, as though there is something wrong (the woman makes meat pies from human flesh!) but its hidden under the guise of a benevolent pie maker.  She is a fascinating person to watch perform, as she's so dynamic, and works perfectly alongside Hearn.

The two of them were supported by a great cast, including Neil Patrick Harris as the young Tobias Ragg (Toby), Davis Gaines as lovestruck sailor Anthony Hope, and Victoria Clark as the crazy beggar woman.  I have to say though, that probably the best supporting actor (apart from NPH, who defines awesome in every production he does) would have to be Timothy Nolen as the wicked Judge Turpin.  His character was dark, troubled, and multi-layered.  In Judge Turpin, we see almost as much conflict as in Sweeney himself, even to the point where both men give into their respective temptations.  Just as Sweeney is not totally a villain, but has his lighter, more sympathetic moments, so does the judge, who, though clearly the villain of the piece, has moments where he is very human and almost relatable.  Its hard to fully hate Nolen's Turpin, because he's so human.

A wonderful, wonderful production that I cannot recommend highly enough.  Must be seen to be fully appreciated, as I cannot do it justice on my own.

**This movie has 1 bonus feature!**
**This movie has 1 bonus feature!**
**This movie has 1 bonus feature!**

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 5 out of 10
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Kevin James, Adam Sandler, Jessica Biel
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Romance/Bromance
Runtime: 115 minutes

When Larry Valentine (James) finds himself in financial straights, he turns to his best friend and fellow fire fighter Chuck Levine (Sandler)--who owes him a favor for saving his life--to help get him get financial benefits by pretending to be his gay partner.  However, things get messy when the city auditor decides to look into their case, believing them to be just what they are: two straight men trying to pose as a homosexual couple to cheat the system.  Things go from bad to worse, and, to avoid jail time, they have to put on the act of their lives.  Just one glaring issue: when the couple is assigned a lawyer to represent them should their case go to court, they are set up with the smexy Alex McDonough (Biel), and ladies' man Chuck falls head-over-heels for her.

The premise of this film certainly sounds intriguing; two straight guys pretending to be gay while trying not to get caught.  Sadly, even the best premise can fall through if its drawn out too thin, and this movie was no different.  I started off loving it, but after a while, it became kinda tedious.  Sandler and James really made the movie, though, and I doubt that other actors could have made this quite as funny.  Jessica Biel was decent, but I found her character to be a bit annoying, which bothered me.  I think what bothered me most was her relationship with Chuck.  While most girls fantasise about having a gay guy friend to go shopping with, I seriously don't think too many of them allow their gay friends to "feel up" their breasts, thinking it's kosher because they're gay.

The best part of the film had to be the wedding scene, where the crazy homeless man goes off listing his conspiracy theories.

I guess this was a bit of a harsh criticism.  All in all, it was a decently funny movie.  Good for a laugh or two, and probably something that is appreciated more by guys than by girls, as my brother rated this film a 7.  There are some redeeming scenes, and parts that are really, really funny.  So, I guess the best thing I can tell you with this one is....Use your own judgement.  If this sounds like a movie you'd be interested in, check it out.  If not, its not worth worrying about.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Hello, fellow movie enthusiasts!  Another new update has been added to the blog. Now in the sidebar under the newly retitled "Movie Menu" (previously "Pages"), you will find a new link called "Special Features".  This includes links to other videos, facts, documentaries, whatever I could find about the movies I've posted.  Right now, we're starting off small with only two bonus features, but hopefully these will be growing in number.

Also, I wanted to add a reminder: if one of my links isn't working, you find a misspelling, or a fact is simply WRONG, please let me know either via the comments or email me.  I just recently noticed that the trailer for Silence of the Lambs is no longer working, and I'll need to fix it.  I will be checking out old posts and links periodically to keep things up to date, but if you notice something on your own, it doesn't hurt to let me know :)

Rooster Cogburn (1975)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 10 out of 10
Director: Stuart Millar
Starring: John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Zerbe
Rated: PG
Genre: Western, Action, Drama, Comedy
Runtime: 108 minutes
Prequal: True Grit (1969)

John Wayne stars once again as one of his most memorable characters: the drunken, smart-mouthed, one-eyed marshal Rooster Cogburn.  When outlaws ransack a small mission set up in the Indian territory, killing the minster Rev. Goodnight, his daughter Eula (Hepburn), the mission's teacher accompanies Rooster Cogburn to track them down.  The marshal, however, is reluctant to be tailed by a quick-witted preacher woman and her Indian friend Wolf (Richard Romancito)  To make matters worse, if Rooster does not bring the criminals--who not only killed Eula's father, but also stole a shipment of nitroglycerin-- back alive, he'll lose his job.

I think what I liked best about this movie was how much it had to provide.  Besides having a wonderful trio of heroes in Cogburn, Eula Goodnight, and Wolf, there was a great set of horrible villains.  Richard Jordan plays Hawk, the leader of the outlaws; a ruthless, cruel man who will do anything he has to in order to get the payoff.  Jordan's performance was deliciously vile.  His Hawk was both hated and feared; this is not some push-over baddie.  Anthony Zerbe also played an amazing character as Hawk's man Breed.  Zerbe brings another level of danger to the plot; because he once rode with Cogburn, he understands him better than any of the others in Hawk's employment.

The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful.  The water, crystal clear; the mountains, majestic; the trees and cliffs, rugged but awe-inspiring.  It makes you wish that you were there with them; riding horseback across the fields and through the woods.

Even though I loved the scenery and the characters, I think my favorite part had to be the wonderful chemistry between John Wayne and Katharine Hepburn.  The plot combines two rough and stubborn characters, and despite their hard-headed nature, it soon becomes apparent that Rooster has a little thing for Ms. Goodnight, and she likes him as well.  It was a wonderful little romance; not too overpowering, and a perfect supplement to the rest of the film.  Apparently even someone as mean as old Rooster Cogburn has a soft spot in his heart.

If you enjoyed  True Grit, either the original or the recent remake, then you need to see this movie.  Granted, John Wayne's Cogburn is a bit gentler than Jeff Bridges's, but that doesn't mean he's any less of a fighter.  And he's an amazing actor at that!

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