The Bottom Line on the Bottom Line

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Directed by Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Bill Nighy, Keira Knightley and Stellan Skarsgard
Rating- PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours and 31 minutes

Website :

Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann are back in another swashbuckling, high-seas pirating adventure from Disney. With Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley all reprising their roles from the original box office sensation Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).

In this - the second installment of the franchise we are introduced to two pivotal characters and a mythical ship called THE FLYING DUTCHMAN. The characters are Will Turner's father played by Skarsgard and Davy Jones, the nefarious captain who is half-man, half-octopus and pretty much all-evil. Sparrow owes him a debt and Turner and Swann can not get married if Sparrow is still at bay.

Sure, it's a complicated plot and a lot of the resolution of that plot requires more suspension of disbelief than you might have pre-considered, but the craftsmanship of this huge $250 million dollar budgeted film is marvellous to the eyes and ears. Depp's performance as Sparrow is slightly stale - perhaps we've seen it before or perhaps his role in this film is more central and less supporting, so the plot points hinge on him revealing where the action leads instead of providing the laughs.

In fact there aren't many laughs from Sparrow at all. Most of the laughs come from British comic actors Mackenzie Crook (which some might know from the British TV show THE OFFICE) and Kevin McNally (veteran actor).

The romance is also put on hold as we to a large part await further resolution for this film in the final installment which is to be called Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End - due out in theaters next Memorial Day (2007).

Therefore, think of your $10 ticket as an installment payment for a 1 out of 2 part adventure that will cost you $20 (plus popcorn etc) for 5 total hours of entertainment for Parts 2 & 3 of this trilogy. In other words- $4 an hour. Is this movie or are these 2 movies - which cost a combined $500 million to make - worth $4 a hour worth it to view- Sure they are.

And as a result the box office has been incredible. The very first day of release- July 7th was a Friday and the total box office for that day smashed the un-breakable mark of $50 million in a day- coming in at $55 million. This was more than Star Wars 3's first day (a Thursday) and people who watch Star Wars are SUPER GEEKS! This means that more people- more non-geeks went to see this movie in 1 day than ever before (24 hour period since this also includes midnight and 3 AM showings).

To top this off, Pirates 2 took in a total of $134 million in the three day weekend period. This was more than Spider-Man and more than the fictional Aquaman (from Entourage) could rake in. This is so much that the studio UNDER-estimated it's weekend total on Sunday by saying they had taken in $132 million (this never happens- Studios usually inflate their take by a small percentage - but here they under-shot by $2 million- because they probably couldn't believe how huge their film was).

To top off this huge weekend more records were being broken on the first Monday- the film scored $18 million dollars- beating all non-holiday, non-openers for a Monday by more than $6 million. Tuesday was even more impressive when Pirates 2 raked in $14 million squashing THE OMEN's record Tuesday opening (6/6/06) of $12 million dollars and becoming the #1 movie on a Tuesday of all time. Yesterday, Pirates 2 didn't slow down and scored $14 million as well.

What does this mean? This movie is a locomotive. Now, all the people who weren't going to see it right away- are. And the notoriety from the huge opening will propel further interest. The most fascinating question people are asking is- how big will the 2nd weekend drop be. A 50% drop still means the film will do $77 million this coming weekend. They kept all of their 4,133 screens and this could mean disaster to upcomng films such as LITTLE MAN, YOU, ME AND DUPREE, MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND and LADY IN THE WATER.

Pirates 2 already crushed Superman and it's potential to decimate all comers is a reality that many are poised for. Everyone knew the film's numbers would be big, but not this big. The only winners in the face of such competition might be smaller films and art-house films. Films such as INCONVENIENT TRUTH and perhaps the upcoming LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE might be opportunities for film-goers to go see films at art-houses or with a message and avoid the huge lines that Pirates 2 is attracting.

And now the moment you've been waiting for....

The rating...

2.5 stars

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine Review

Little Miss Sunshine

Directed by: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Starring: Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, Steve Carrell and Alan Arkin.

Running Time: 101 Minutes

Studio: Fox Searchlight

Release date: July 26, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine is a special movie. I saw it at the Los Angeles Film Festival and it was well recieved there by the generous festival audience, as it was at the Sydney Festival and at Sundance Film Festival, where it recieved a standing ovation and was purchased by Fox Searchlight for a record amount. I think the film resonates so well is due in some part to the timing of Steve Carrell's meteoric rise and his participation in the film is wonderful, yet he is not the star of the film - he is one of many elements that makes this film a delight to view.

Little Miss Sunshine is a movie about a family. The Hoovers. They are certainly not the typical American family and each and every character is a misfit in some way. Sure, Kinnear's character is a wannabe motiviational speaker and guide to how to be a "Winner" - but he himself is flawed and bankrupt, too poor to afford sending his daughter to Redondo Beach, CA to participate in a beauty pageant, the only suitable solution is to pack the family into a VW bug and do a road-trip from New Mexico to Southern California.

The VW bug itself is a character in this film and each of the passengers in it serves the story well. The script is funny, poignant and also emotional and the directors are wise to pace the film appropriately allowing for lulls and then laughter and then more laughter as circumstances become more absurd. But it is the characters - the main characters of the family- the Hoovers, but also the minor characters we meet along the way who are absurd and funny and although they may, from the outside appear to be more normal than the Hoovers, it is the Hoovers who ultimately you root for in the end.

Little Miss Sunshine is a difficult film to market. Good thing it is being handled by Searchlight who will probably give the film the Sideways treatment and roll it out slowly. Surely the festival accolades will help and also the participation and hopefully the publicity support of Steve Carrell. But it's always hard to tell if a film such as this can gross more than $10 million in the box office and take off in a Napoleon Dynamite kind of way or whether it will take a meteoric rise and gross more than $50 million.

Similarly, its hard to tell if this is the type of film that critics will gather behind en masse and give it Oscar momentum. I do feel the performances merit some consideration, but its too early in the year to tell and since the film is quirky and "special" it might take a big box office to propel further speculation about Oscar worthiness.

In the meantime, do your part and support this film by seeing it. It will warm your heart, make you laugh and also make you appreciate quality screenwriting, acting and directing in the midst of a summer that is entrenched with blockbuster films and very little special-ness or originality.

3.5 Stars

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Inconvenient Truth Review

An Inconvenient Truth - Review
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Directed by David Guggenheim
Starring: Al Gore Jr.
Released May 24, 2006 (Participant Productions)

Former US Vice President and Senator Al Gore Jr. has spent the last six years since running for President travelling across the world with a slide show. I suppose that's the thing to do when you win the majority of votes in a Presidential election, yet through the stupidity of the Electoral College, the cheating of the Republican party and the corruption of the state of Florida, you can either become fed up, grow a bear (Gore grew a beard and later shaved it off) and run to the woods or you can try and change the world from its inevitable doom.

Inevitable doom you say? Yes, didn't you know. Apparently its no secret to anyone with a science degree and half a brain, but the current President of the United States- George W. Bush has denied that there is such a problem as Global Warming. In fact, before admitting that the US has an "oil addiction" Bush himself was one of the pushers. There is no river in Africa called DENIAL. But apparently Bush didn't get that memo.

So what's an INCONVENIENT TRUTH all about - well basically it's a slide show that demonstrates through graphs, facts, pictures and other visuals how places such as Mt. Kiliminjaro in Kenya and the glaciers of Patagonia along with important ice masses in the Arctic and Antartictica are rapidly changing. Changing like they haven't in thousands of years. These changes are due in large part to the increased water and air temperatures of the Earth and these due primarily to human being pollution which adds an extra layer to the Earth's atmosphere and doesn't allow for the heat to escape into Space.

I am very much a science dummy and this movie is a GLOBAL WARMING FOR DUMMIES movie. It explains everything you need to know and then right before it ends (don't you dare leave the film before it ends because you might committ suicide) it shows how- with the passing of some laws and changed behavior we can avert a catastrophic demise in less than a century.

And when I say catastrophic demise I am not joking. Gore shows how Shanghai, Beijing, San Francisco, Miami and New York city can all be covered in 20 feet of water basically displacing over 40 million people in the next 20 years. Other crazy stuff like that.

This movie is definitely a must see if you have any interest in gaining knowledge on the most important topic our world faces today. It will be a must-rent or must-own for DVD - but you might as well rush out to see it and educate yourself on what has been purposefully kept from you by the most corrupt and evil Presidential Administration of our time.

3 Stars

Leonard Cohen : I'm Your Man Review

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man


Directed by Lian Lunson

Released June 21, 2006

Leonard Cohen is a living legend. He's been a well-known poet in Canada since the late 1950's and emerged musically in the late 1960's in the United States and the rest of the world. His song's lyrics are on par with Bob Dylan's and Bruce Springsteen's and his deep singing voice mesmerize the mind and the soul. Some of his most famous songs include "Suzanne," "I'm Your Man", "First we Take Manhattan", "So Long Marianne" and "Hallelujah".

The movie is a moving tribute to this very shy, very complex, yet very brilliant man. A man who has gained knowledge through hardship, experiences with drugs such as LSD and through toiling at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center under Zen Master Roshi from Japan and becoming a monk in the process.

The tributes to Cohen manifest in a concert that was performed in Australia last year with various singers performing his best-known songs. Performers such as Beth Orton, Rufus Wainright, Nick Cave and U2. U2's performance is of course the best as it is performed with Leonard Cohen singing and is the only time we hear the 73 year old Cohen sing in the movie. The rest of the songs are from the in-concert portion and although some are good (standouts being Jarvis Cocker and Nick Cave. Rufus Wainrights' songs are hit or miss for the large part)

Each of these performers also speaks about Cohen and interspersed some insight into his personal history is given. The film isn't exactly gripping, but it is enjoyable. Especially if you are as fond of Cohen as an artist, man and thinker as I am. What is missing is more historical footage from performances past and of course Cohen either singing in the past or the present. There's just too much reliance on this tribute concert and I feel that this is probably a business decision so that more soundtrack copies are sold.

This is definitely a solid film to watch once it comes around on the Sundance Channel and unless you are like me - a huge fan of Cohen's. There's no need to rush out to the theater to see it.

2 Stars