Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Top 8 DVD Reviews (so far): “An Inconvenient Truth”

Article 6 of 8

Of the first 100 TweeterFlix DVD reviews, this documentary clocks in at number 3 (so far) in the Top 8 list:

An Inconvenient Truth

Another documentary, this one has Al Gore on tour making his Global Warming presentation. He comes off as human, engaging and apolitical. Everything he wasn’t on the campaign trail. But enough about him. The material itself is seriously scary stuff. Plus, there aren’t many films that have garnered Oscars and Nobel prizes. So it’s definitely worth a look. Here’s what I tweeted about it: Al Gore's global warming campaign. If his run for office was this smart, he would have been the PowerPoint Prez. 9.5 (out of 10)

Number 6: “Thirteen”

Coming up next: "What's Up, Doc?"

“An Inconvenient Truth"

Released: 2006

Rating: PG

Length: 96 minutes

Cast: Al Gore

Director: Davis Guggenheim

Genre(s): Documentary, Political

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Top 8 DVD Reviews (so far): “The Fog of War”

Article 5 of 8

Occupying the number 4 slot (so far) among the first 100 TweeterFlix DVD reviews:

The Fog of War

This Errol Morris documentary features Robert McNamara, who served as Secretary of Defense for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. In something just short of a confession, he discusses the lessons he’s learned from his experience in Vietnam. It‘s a very simple film, weaving together archival footage, documents and McNamara telling his story. As I mentioned in an earlier commentary, It should be required viewing for anyone in the diplomatic corps. My Twitter review: McNamara says everything W & Co should have wanted to know about invading a foreign country but were too arrogant to ask. 9.5 (out of 10)

Number 6: “Thirteen”

Coming up next: “An Inconvenient Truth”

“The Fog of War”

Released: 2003

Rating: PG-13

Length: 107 minutes

Cast: Robert S. McNamara

Director: Errol Morris

Genre(s): War, Documentary

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Top 8 DVD Reviews (so far): “Splendor in the Grass”

Article 4 of 8

Of the first 100 TweeterFlix DVD reviews, here’s number 5 (so far):

Splendor in the Grass

I’d pretty much recommend anything from Elia Kazan. And “Splendor” is no different. This features a very young Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty as high school students in love. Her desire not to give in, leads to their breakup and ultimately to her breakdown. While it doesn’t have the grittiness of “A Streetcar Named Desire” or “On the Waterfront,” the story is just as powerful. My review from Twitter: Natalie Wood tries to keep her virtue and ends up in a straight jacket. Not exactly a strong case for abstinence. 9 (out of 10)

Number 6: “Thirteen”

Coming up next: “The Fog of War”

“Splendor in the Grass"

Released: 1961

Rating: NR

Length: 124 minutes

Cast: Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, Audrey Christie

Director: Elia Kazan

Genre(s): Drama

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Top 8 DVD Reviews (so far): “Thirteen”

Article 3 of 8

Here’s the number 6 (so far) in my Top 8 list of the first 100 TweeterFlix DVD reviews:


On Twitter I wrote, Catherine Hardwicke's entirely too believable story of a good girl gone bad. To the parent of a tweener, it's a horror film. 9 (out of 10) Catherine Hardwicke just has a knack for directing teenagers. (She also helmed “Lords of Dogtown” and “Twilight.”) “Thirteen” has Holly Hunter as a well-meaning, but distracted single mom whose daughter falls under the influence of her much more adventurous friend who introduces her to drugs, sex and crime. The story is compelling. And even more so when you learn that the screenplay was co-written by one of its stars, 15-year-old Nikki Reed.

Coming up next: next: “Splendor in the Grass”


Released: 2003

Rating: R

Length: 100 minutes

Cast: Holly Hunter, Evan Rachel Wood, Nikki Reed, Jeremy Sisto

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Genre(s): Drama

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Top 8 DVD Reviews (so far): “The King of Kong”

Article 2 of 8

Continuing my Top 8 list to celebrate the first 100 TweeterFlix DVD reviews, here’s number 7 (so far):

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

My review from Twitter: Steve Wiebe is the Luke Skywalker of the videogame universe & defeats its Evil Empire. Not nearly as geeky as it sounds. 9 (out of 10) You don’t have to be a geek or like videogames to appreciate this documentary. It’s the classic tale of the little guy fighting against the establishment. In this case it’s a school teacher, Steve Wiebe, who decides he can beat the Donkey Kong world record. And he does. But when Steve submits the evidence, Twin Galaxies, the governing body, and Billy Mitchell, the current record holder, throw all sorts of obstacles in his way. But like the determined Mario in the game, that doesn’t stop Steve.

Number 8: “The Dark Knight”

Coming up next: “Thirteen”

“The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters”

Released: 2007

Rating: PG-13

Length: 79 minutes

Cast: Steve Wiebe, Billy Mitchell, Walter Day, Todd Rogers, Steve Sanders

Director: Seth Gordon

Genre(s): Documentary, Technology

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Top 8 DVD Reviews (so far): “The Dark Knight”

Article 1 of 8

To celebrate the first 100 TweeterFlix DVD reviews, I wanted to do a Top 10 List. But frankly, the field gets a little crowded after the first 8. Besides, everyone does Top 10’s. Here’s number 8 (so far):

The Dark Knight

A couple of personal friends complain about the rating I gave “The Dark Knight.” But you have to admit, Heath Ledger's performance is amazing. And Christian Bale’s not shabby either. Christopher Nolan really understands the dark sides of these characters. Compare his to Tim Burton’s. Michael Keaton’s Batman may have been disturbed, but Bale’s is dangerous. And Jack Nicholson was a cartoon character while Leger’s Joker had deep psychological issues. On Twitter, I wrote: Christian Bale's back as Christopher Nolan's brooding Batman-this time to be upstaged by Heath Ledger's brilliant Joker. 9 (out of 10)

Coming up next: “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters”

“The Dark Knight”

Released: 2008

Rating: PG-13

Length: 153 minutes

Cast: Christian Bale, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine

Director: Christopher Nolan

Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy, Sequel

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Coming Soon: The Future, Part 2

Continued from “Children of Men”

For a comedic take on the future, try Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy.” It has Luke Wilson as a volunteer for a one-year hibernation experiment who accidentally sleeps for 500 years. He wakes up to discover what happened while the world’s greatest minds were focused on curing male-pattern baldness and E.D. Now, as the film's title implies, the idiots are running things. Monster Truck Rallies are used to mete out justice and they’re watering crops with sports drinks. But Luke figures it all out in the end. After all, he is the smartest man in the world. My review from Twitter: Idiocracy-In the future, the dumbest people in American rise to power and prominence. Haven’t we have learned from the past? 7 (out of 10)


Released: 2006

Rating: R

Length: 87 minutes

Cast: Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, Sara Ruer

Director: Mike Judge

Genre(s): Comedies, Sci-Fi, Period

Coming Soon: The Future, Part 1

Films about the future have been around for almost as long as there have been films. Here are two that I’ve been recommending a lot recently because they offer such vastly different takes on the future.

The first one, “Children of Men,” paints a future where there hasn’t been a baby born in nearly 20 years. The human race is slowing dying off and society itself is in a bit of a meltdown. It’s not much of a spoiler to say that a woman miraculously does become pregnant, and its up to Clive Owen to deliver that woman to a settlement where they’re building society anew. The scary part is that this kind of future could actually happen. We're pumping the environment and ourselves with so much crap that one day... but I digress. My review from Twitter: Children of Men-While a sterility pandemic is killing off the human race, Clive Owen makes the unusual career choice of midwife. 7.5 (out of 10)

Continue with “Idiocracy”

“Children of Men

Released: 2006

Rating: R

Length: 110 minutes

Cast: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Director: Alfonso Cuaron

Genre(s): Drama, Adaptation, Sci-Fi

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Christmas in July - Part 2

My review on Twitter: A Christmas Story-Cautionary tale about the perils of getting what you wish for because it just might shoot your eye out. 8 (out of 10) If you don’t know where the “shoot your eye out” reference is from, you’ve missed one of the all time great holiday movies. “A Christmas Story” is humorist Jean Shepard’s nostalgic take on the holiday as seen through the eyes of nine-year-old Ralphie Parker who desperately wants “an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock.” While he eagerly tries to secure its arrival, he has to endure the neighborhood bully, a pair of bunny pajamas, his cantankerous father’s battle with their cantankerous furnace and the constant warnings from nearly everyone, including Santa himself, that he’ll shoot his eye out with the rifle. So what happens when Christmas morning finally arrives? Just like Ralphie, you’ll have to wait.

"A Christmas Story"

Released: 1983

Rating: PG

Length: 93 minutes

Cast: Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella

Director: Bob Clark

Genre(s): Comedy, Holiday, Adventure

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'll Cry Tomorrow: Catch a Fallen Star

I usually pan for Netflix gold by searching the actors, directors or writers I’ve liked in other movies. By that measure I have no idea how “I’ll Cry Tomorrow” ended up in my queue. I knew so little about the movie that at first I thought it was a thinly veiled biopic about Judy Garland. But the synopsis on the DVD envelope (always worth reading) informed me that it’s the true story of Lillian Roth, another talented singer/actress. But the plot is familiar. Lillian's mother pushes her along from audition to audition. She controls every aspect of her life, keeping her from developing any real relationships outside this show business bubble. As Lillian grows up, she begins to realize what her mother has been doing and decides to take control of her own life. One of her first emancipating steps, marrying her childhood sweetheart, goes horribly wrong when he suddenly dies before the wedding. To ease the pain, she turns to alcohol, followed by a couple of bad relationships which leads to more alcohol, until she ends up on the street. The movie can get a little melodramatic in parts, which is probably just its age showing. Regardless, Susan Hayward's portrayal of Roth, which earned an Oscar nomination, is quite good. And that makes “I’ll Cry Tomorrow” worth putting in your queue today. My review from Twitter: An ambitious stage mother pushes Susan Hayward to the top where a bottle of booze waits to pull her back down. 7.5 (out of 10)

"I'll Cry Tomorrow"

Released: 1955

Rating: NR

Length: 117 minutes

Cast: Susan Hayward, Richard Conte, Eddie Albert, Jo Van Fleet

Director: Daniel Mann

Genre(s): Drama, Adaptation, Biopic

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Christmas in July - Part 1

Every block has one guy who does it up at Christmas. In “Deck the Halls,” Matthew Broderick is not only that guy, he wears it as a badge of honor. So when Danny DeVito moves in across the street and threatens his standing, it’s war. And they practically go nuclear when Danny articulates his Christmas wish – to have his house be visible from space. “Deck the Halls” isn’t a great movie. But it’s goofy fun, especially if you have kids. And just might cool you off during the dog days of summer. Unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case, the winter motif will fit right in. My review from Twitter: Danny DeVito & Matthew Broderick try to outdo each other's Xmas displays & unwittingly save the local electric utility. 6

"Deck the Halls"

Released: 2006

Rating: PG

Length: 93 minutes

Cast: Danny DeVito, Matthew Broderick, Kristin Chenoweth, Kristin Davis

Director: John P. Whitesell

Genre(s): Comedy, Holiday