Until Death Do Us Part - Jonas

Isnin, Julai 13, 2009

#600. Berehat Seketika [till we meet again]

Salam buat semua pembaca Layar,

Maya ingin mengucapkan terimakasih yang tidak terhingga pada semua yang sudi singgah membaca blog Layar. Maya mungkin tidak dapat menulis dalam waktu terdekat kerana keadaan kesihatan Maya tidak mengizinkan dan Maya terpaksa dirawat di Hospital buat suatu jangka waktu tertentu. Tidak sekali-kali mengucapkan Selamat Tinggal pada semua tetapi memberitahu agar semua teman2 tidak tertanya-tanya kemana hilangnya Maya. Maya ingin memohon ampun dan maaf kepada teman2 blogger dan pembaca andai terdapat kata-kata, komen mahupun pandangan Maya menyinggung hati dan perasaan. Segala yang buruk dan hina itu semuanya dari diri Maya yang penuh kekurangan dan kelemahan. Ampunkan Maya dan Maya berharap andai diizinkanNYA Maya panjang umur, Insyaallah setelah tamat tempoh rawatan dan Maya sihat, Maya akan kembali menulis. Sehingga itu sambutlah salam sayang dari Maya buat semua teman-teman blogger dan semua pembaca yang Maya sayangi.

Salam dan Terimakasih.

Sayang Selalu

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Isnin, Jun 29, 2009

#599. Homecoming [2009]

Everyone has had problems with exes, but chances are your situation never reached the extreme portrayed in Homecoming, the story of a former high school football star who returns home from college to find that his ex-girlfriend still pines desperately for him. Unfortunately for all involved, he's brought his new girlfriend along with him.Homecoming is an upcoming American 2009 Indie-thriller film, directed by Morgan J. Freeman, written by Katie L. Fetting, Jake Goldberger and Frank Hannah, and starring Mischa Barton, Matt Long, and Jessica Stroup. It will be released in New York and Los Angeles on 17 July 2009 and expanded in subsequent weeks.

Director: Morgan J. Freeman
Cast: Mischa Barton, Jessica Stroup, Matt Long, Michael Landes, Allen Williamson, Joshua Elijah Reese, Nick Pasqual, Joe Forgione, Alex Hooper
Release Date: July 17, 2009

Plot : A few months after graduating from high school, small-town football hero Mike Donaldson (Matt Long) returns from his new life at Northwestern University for the Homecoming retirement of his old jersey. While he's moved on to bigger and better things -- including a new girlfriend, Elizabeth (Jessica Stroup), whom he brings home to meet the folks -- life in town remains stagnant. His cousin Billy (Michael Landes) is still a cop and doesn't think that Mike realizes how good he has it, especially when it comes to Mike's ex, Shelby (Mischa Barton), who still runs the local bowling alley.

Although Mike assures Elizabeth that she has nothing to worry about regarding Shelby, he's surprised to learn that Shelby thought that their breakup was just a temporary solution to his going away to college. Aw-kward. Tensions cool, though, when Shelby plasters on a faux smile and welcomes Elizabeth by plying her with alcohol, knowing that she'll be drunk when it comes time to meet Mike's parents. Realizing her predicament, Elizabeth opts to spend the night in a motel to dry out.

Through a series of unlikely circumstances, however, Elizabeth finds herself hoofing it down a deserted road later that night, suitcase in tow. Shelby happens to drive by, and by "by" I mean "accidentally runs over Elizabeth." Panicked, Shelby takes her unconscious rival to her house and hooks her up with all of the painkillers her ill mother had taken before her death a few months earlier.Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game between the two young women, as Shelby uses the situation to her advantage by prolonging Elizabeth's capitivity and trying to make Mike believe that she's dumped him, while Elizabeth tries simply to survive and escape her newfound prison

Homecoming is anything but original. Its by-the-numbers thriller plot starts out Fatal Attraction and ends up Misery, down to an obligatory "hobbling"-esque scene in which Shelby lays the smack down on Elizabeth for attempting to escape. It's predictable with a thoroughly underwhelming (and borderline ridiculous) climax.

Still, good performances by Barton, Stroup, Long and Landes and intriguing character development buoy the hackneyed plot. What could be a group of flat, thriller-standard caricatures ends up the subject of an involving character study of four people with divergent goals whose lives intertwine under tragic circumstances. Barton's Shelby isn't a typical, insane Hollywood "single white female" villalin; she actually doesn't mean to hit Elizabeth with her car but rather gets wrapped up in a situation born of desperation and a string of bad luck.

The end result is solidly entertaining in a TV movie-of-the-week sort of way, told at a brisk pace with nice production value -- even if you know where it's going the entire time.

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#598.Thirst [2009]

Thirst (Hangul: 박쥐; RR: Bakjwi) is a 2009 horror/drama film, written and directed by Park Chan-wook. It tells the story of a priest who is in love with his friend’s wife turning into a vampire through a failed medical experiment. Park has stated, “this film was originally called The Bat to convey a sense of horror."The film won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and is believed to be the first mainstream Korean film to feature full-frontal adult male nudity, by its star, Song Kang-ho.We are introduced to Sang-hyun, a priest whose free time is spent volunteering at the local hospital and providing ministry to the patients. He is well respected for his unwavering faith and the dedicated service he provides to all those around him, but he secretly suffers from.. overwhelming feelings of doubt and sadness about living in a world that seems to be drowning in suffering and death.

After getting fed up with the endless cycle of human suffering that the world offers, Sang-hyun volunteers to participate in an experiment to find a vaccine for the deadly F.I.V. virus with the hope of saving even one life, and heads off to Africa. Although the experiment fails disastrously and Sang-hyun is infected with a seemingly fatal disease, he makes a complete and rapid recovery. News of his marvelous recovery is quickly spread to the devout parishioners of Sang-hyun’s congregation, and they begin to believe that the man has a miraculous gift for healing. Soon, thousands more people flock to Sang-hyun’s services. Among the new churchgoers are Kang-woo, Sang-hyun’s childhood friend, and his family. Later on, Kang-woo invites his old friend to join the weekly mahjong night at his house, and there Sang-hyun finds himself precariously drawn to Kang-woo’s wife, Tae-ju.

Suddenly Sang-hyun relapses into his illness; he coughs up blood and passes away. The next day however, he opens his eyes in dire need of shelter from the sweltering sunlight; he has become a vampire. At first Sang-hyun feels a newfound vigor and is energized by his insistent bodily desires, but soon he is aghast to find himself sucking down blood from a comatose patient in the hospital. After attempting to kill himself, he finds that he is drawn back to the taste of human blood against his will. To make matters worse, the symptoms of F.I.V. have come roaring back. Desperately trying to avoid committing a murder, he resorts to stealing blood transfusion packs from the hospital. Tae-ju, now living with her ill husband and her over-protective mother-in-law, leads a dreary and unhappy life. She finds herself drawn to Sang-hyun and his odd new physicality, and his inability to resist his desires. The two begin an affair, but when Tae-ju first discovers the truth about Sang-hyun’s new lifestyle, she retreats in fear. When Sang-hyun pleads with her to run away with him she turns him down, suggesting that they kill her husband instead.

Directed : Park Chan-wook
Produced : Park Chan-wook
Written : Park Chan-wook, Seo-Gyeong Jeong
Starring : Song Kang-ho,Kim Ok-bin,Shin Ha-kyun
Cinematography Jeong Jeong-hun
Release date(s): South Korea April 30, 2009,US July 31, 2009 (limited

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#597. DVD : Laid To Rest [2009]

The film begins with a credits sequence showing women being assaulted, before moving to The Girl (Bobbi Sue Luther) waking up inside a coffin in a funeral home. The funeral director (Richard Lynch) hears this, and exits the room. The Girl manages to knock the coffin over, and crawls out. She crawls to the exit, only to find it locked, but the door to the adjacent room is open, so she goes in there instead.She picks up the phone and dials 911, where she is unable to report what has happened to her due to amnesia. The operator offers to send a police car to her, but she accidentally pulls the phone off the hook before they can find out where she is. She walks over to the door, but Chrome Skull (Nick Principe) sees her and rushes to the door. He tries to get it open, but fails, and she sits down on the floor. When he goes away, she throws the phone down, and the funeral director returns to let her in. He puts the keys in the door, only for Chrome Skull to appear behind him. The Girl attempts to warn him, but he tells her no one is there, and Chrome Skull kills him. Chrome Skull tries the door, but The Girl pushes it into his head and knocks him out, before running away.

She runs into the street, where she is picked up by Tucker (Kevin Gage), and she tells him she had been locked in a box. He takes her home, where she meets his wife, Cindy (Lena Headey). At first, Cindy is nasty towards her, but after Tucker explains the situation, she calms down, and allows The Girl to take a shower. She tells The Girl that she doesnt have a phone because the phone company cut them off, but her brother Johnny (Jonathon Schaech) will be over in the morning, and he can take her into town.

The Girl goes for a lie down, and gets upset, so Tucker comes in to comfort her. When he has finished, they notice Cindy has disappeared. They go outside to find that Chrome Skull has her. Chrome Skull tries to get Tucker to give The Girl up in exchange for his wife, but he refuses. Tucker tries to attack Chrome Skull, but he stabs Cindy in the head and pins her to the house. The Girl drags Tucker away, but Chrome Skull comes forward. Tucker hits him with his walking stick and he falls down some stairs. Tucker and The Girl get into Tuckers truck and drive away.

Meanwhile, Johnny and his girlfriend Jamie (Jana Kramer) arrive at Cindys house. Johnny goes to investigate Chrome Skulls car, and then comes back to his own car, where Chrome Skull cuts off his face. Jamie crawls on to the back seat, and reaches for the phone, but Chrome Skull stabs her in the hand. She gets out of the car, and cannot see him, so she runs into the garden, where he cuts her with his knife. She carries on running only to find that he has cut her stomach open and her intestines are hanging out.

Tucker and The Girl arrange to go to the next house, where Steven (Sean Whalen) answers the door. He invites them in and tells them he can use his computer to contact the police. They tell him that Cindy has died and a man with a shiny face has killed them and wants to kill her too. While she goes to the toilet, they report the crime on the computer. They then look for more information on Chrome Skull, and look for missing people that match The Girls description. The site tells them that Chrome Skull has killed over 31 girls so far and filmed their deaths.

They go to the police station in Stevens car and look for the Sheriff, who radios in a report. Tucker answers it, and reports the crime. The Sheriff tells them he is locked in the supply closet. The Girl finds a body in a cell with a camera strapped to it, and then they hear someone behind them, and Tucker tells them it isnt the Sheriff. He radios the Sheriff again, who says he is locked in the supply closet. As Steven enters the closet, which is empty, the cell door opens and the camera comes on, just as Chrome Skull appears and dashes towards The Girl. He slices her, but Tucker knocks him over and into the cell. He and The Girl escape, inadvertently locking Steven in, so The Girl goes back to get him and Steven stabs Chrome Skull in the leg.

They drive to the funeral home, where Tucker dresses The Girls wounds, and Steven sees his mothers corpse in a hearse next to his car. Tucker reassures The Girl that no one is going to kill her, and hugs her. Chrome Skull arrives and takes Stevens mothers corpse into his lair at the side of the funeral home.

Tucker goes home to clear up the mess in case Johnny sees it (he doesnt know Johnny is already dead), and The Girl decides to stop Chrome Skull. She enters his lair and tries to rescue a woman, but he approaches them, so she runs away. He then decapitates the woman. The Girl hides inside a coffin and he drills a hole in the top before putting a camera on there.

Tucker arrives back with a gun and shouts at Steven for not looking after The Girl. They enter Chrome Skulls lair and Tucker shoots him twice. They get the girl out of the coffin and steal Chrome Skulls car, where they find a new phone. They go to Stevens house, and The Girl waits in the car. She watches a video of the funeral director telling Chrome Skull that the Sheriff was on to their plan. Then she inputs the destination of the nearest store into the GPS and sets off towards it.

Tucker and Steven find her gone and go after her on foot. Meanwhile, Chrome Skull gets into a hearse and syncs the two GPS machines so he can track his car, before driving off to find it. Tucker and Steven attempt to get a lift from Tommy (Thomas Dekker) and Anthony (Anthony Fitzgerald), who drive away.

The Girl pulls up at the store and tries to get out, but the doors are locked. She tries to get the attention of the Clerk (Lucas Till), by beeping the horn, but he cant hear her. When Tommy and Anthony arrive she tries to get their attention too, but they ignore her and enter the store. Chrome Skull arrives next and enters the car. He gives her a message to get some tapes, and sends her into the store. She puts the phone on the counter and asks for the tapes, but he sends her a threatening message, which the Clerk sees. The Clerk goes outside with a rifle and threatens Chrome Skull, but Chrome Skull grabs the gun and points it at his head just as he is about to fire it, causing him to shoot himself in the head. Inside, Anthony manages to call the police and reports the crime, before locking the front door.

As Tucker and Steven arrive, Anthony goes to check the back exit, and is decapitated by Chrome Skull. Tommy initially refuses to let them in, but The Girl says she knows them. She apologises for driving away, and Tucker hugs her again. Steven then mixes some acid that will cause someones face to burn, before they get a message on the phone. He goes to answer it, but Chrome Skull sprays tyre sealant into his ears, causing his head to explode. Tucker tells Tommy to bring his car to the door and not to leave until The Girl gets out. Tucker fires at Chrome Skull but runs out of ammo, and tells The Girl to leave, but she refuses.

She tells him Chrome Skull will never stop, but he tells her (knowing her real identity) that she is somebody great, and not to forget it. He attacks Chrome Skull, but Chrome Skull gets the upper hand and stabs him in the chest. The Girl climbs into the fridge, and Chrome Skull puts a camera in there. She watches the video and it is revealed that she is just a prostitute.

Chrome Skull then starts to use the acid, thinking it is glue, to glue his mask back on. When he puts it on, his face begins to melt and he falls to the ground. The Girl climbs out of the freezer and grabs a baseball bat, hitting him in the face and causing his head to smash. She then gets into Tommys car and they go to Atlanta with her in Anthonys place.

Genres: Suspense/Horror and Thriller
Release Date: April 21st, 2009 (DVD)
Directed by: Robert Hall (VI)
Starring: Lena Headey, Thomas Dekker, Sean Whalen, Lucas Till, Kevin Gage

Laid to Rest certainly doesn’t try to reinvent the slasher genre, but it definitely succeeds in creating an above-average and very entertaining horror flick. It is one of the most entertaining slasher films I’ve seen in a long time and it actually manages to feel fresh despite its derivative nature.Though the film itself is basically one big chase scene, director Hall keeps things interesting by giving us likable characters, a menacing killer and “the girl’s” mysterious past to unravel. There are also plenty of nasty surprises Chrome Skull has for his victims and lots, and I mean LOTS, of awesome gore effects.

With Hall’s background in special FX, could you really expect anything less than stellar gore? The inventive kill scenes are some of the goriest I’ve seen yet this year! There are plenty of crushed skulls, stabbings, chopped up corpses, torture, etc., etc. to make even the most hardcore gorehound sit up and take notice! And the spectacular river of blood that cascades from all this carnage certainly doesn’t disappoint either! The effects in this film are far and above some of the best and most unique I’ve seen in quite some time…and that is really saying something!

The story, written by Hall, is almost equally impressive in regards that that it feels more original and more developed than most DTV horror flicks. I enjoyed the whole mystery of who “the girl” really was and where she came from, the killer’s background (given very briefly on a police website one of the characters looks up) and the fact that Hall tried to do something different that just having your stereotypical teen characters get knocked off one by one. He actually had “the girl” fight back and other characters be equally resourceful. Still, there were some problems with the script…like why every single car didn’t have enough gas to get them the heck outta Dodge, why none of the characters had phones and why the characters didn’t try to hoof it out of there on foot. And why did it take the police, who were only 100 miles away (roughly an hour and a half), all night to reach them? I guess the killer really knew how to pick the perfect hideout spot!

However, the direction on the other hand was fantastic! Everything was crystal clear and there was a definite lack of murkiness you usually get with slasher flicks filmed at night where you really can’t see what’s going on. In Laid to Rest you could see every horrifying detail, from the half-rotted and hacked apart bodies in coffins that Chrome Skull kept to each and every sudden kill scene where blood just covered the entire shot! Robert Hall really has an eye for direction and should continue pursuing it.

The acting was overall pretty good and I though Kevin Gage was the real standout as Tucker. He really makes his character believable and likable. Bobbi Sue Luther also did a fantastic job as the “final girl” and wasn’t just there for eye candy. She really gave a strong performance and didn’t let her character sit back and be the “damsel-in-distress.” There were also many familiar faces that popped up (if only for a few moments), including Lena Heady and Thomas Dekker (who are both in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Johnathon Schaech and Sean Whalen.

While the film has its problems, I still found myself enjoying Laid to Rest. It certainly doesn’t break any new ground, but it is definitely an enjoyable slasher flick that is head and shoulders above most DTV horror films.

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#596. New World Order [2009]

New World Order is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Luke Meyer and Andrew Neel. It explores activists who are committed to vigorously opposing what they perceive to be an emerging "New World Order".The film concentrates on the activities of Alex Jones, Jim Tucker, Jack McLamb, Luke Rudowski, and Timuçin Leflef, with particular focus on their efforts to expose the highly secretive meetings of the Bilderberg Group, promotion of the 9/11 Truth Movement, and opposition to the erosion of traditional American, Constitutionally-based civil and political rights and liberties.In an interview with Oxford Film Freak, Luke Meyer said he and partner Andrew Neel decided to make the documentary because, "I have always been interested in people who refuse to accept the standard belief systems, who do what they want or what they feel they have to regardless of what other people think." Neel added, "I thought conspiracy theorists were interesting because they see the world in a very different way... I wanted to know what it was like to be one of them."

The film contains archival footage of then-President George W. Bush, then-Senator (and later Vice President) Joe Biden, Senator John McCain, and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. It also includes appearances by Jim Marrs and Geraldo Rivera.The film premiered at South by Southwest on March 13, 2009, and Independent Film Channel began broadcasting it on April 16.

Directed by :Luke Meyer,Andrew Neel
Cinematography : Luke Meyer,Andrew Neel
Release Date : May 22, 2009

Few things are as tiresome as listening to people rant about their conspiracy theories. While there are, no doubt, tantalizing speculations to be made about the “inside job” that demolished the World Trade Center and the nefarious agenda of the global elite, movies about such things do well to involve James Bond and giant explosions.

“New World Order,” an unrelentingly tedious documentary by Luke Meyer and Andrew Neel, follows a group of considerably less glamorous truth-seekers. The most prominent of the filmmakers’ subjects, the radio host Alex Jones, who is based in Austin, Tex., rails against the powers that be — all of them — in a manner that reinforces every cliché of the conspiracy theorist loon: paranoid, megalomaniacal, delusional, sweaty. The documentary’s most action-packed scene finds Mr. Jones throwing a major hissy fit when his hotel fire alarm goes off, thereby proving, without a shadow of a doubt, that “they” are trying to suppress his revelations.

On the (somewhat) mellower side, Luke Rudowski, a 21-year-old New Yorker, spends all his free time distributing fliers and DVDs purporting to uncover the truth about 9/11. Seth Jackson, a relief worker in Louisiana, does his part by heckling Bill Clinton and other dark overlords. A retired police officer, Jack McLamb, meanwhile, has retreated to the safety of a separatist militia group.

There’s a movie to be made about the psychology of such men, their personal lives and private obsessions. “New World Order” merely gawks at them.

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#595. Under Our Skin [2009]

Under Our Skin: The Untold Story of Lyme Disease (2008) is a documentary film about Lyme disease, focusing on the controversy surrounding "chronic" Lyme disease. The film was directed by Andy Abrahams Wilson, who became interested in the subject after his sister contracted Lyme disease. Under Our Skin has been shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, the Maine International Film Festival, the Silverdocs Film Festival, and the Mill Valley Film Festival. Variety noted that"it sides with those advocating unconventional treatments,[but]gives gatekeepers from Infectious Diseases of America [sic,actually Infectious Diseases Society of America]their say."

Synopsis : A dramatic tale of microbes, medicine and money, this eye-opening film investigates the untold story of Lyme disease, an emerging epidemic larger than AIDS. Each year thousands go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, told that their symptoms are "all in their head." Following the stories of patients and physicians as they battle for their lives and livelihoods, the film brings into focus a haunting picture of our health care system and its inability to cope with a silent terror under our skin.

Director: Andy Abrahams Wilson
Distributor: Shadow Distribution
Country: US
Theatrical Release Date: June 19, 2009

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#594.The Beaches of Agnes - Les Plages d'Agnes [2009]

Agnès Varda’s poetic memoir of a life at the movies. An early member of the French New Wave, Varda has worked with Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Jane Birkin, Michel Piccoli, Catherine Deneuve and Philippe Noiret – not to mention Harrison Ford, the Black Panthers and Viva.Stories of her childhood in Brussels and adolescence in occupied Paris, of Los Angeles in the ‘60s, and of life in her 14e arrondissement Paris neighborhood are melded with clips from both documentary and fiction work. Husband/filmmaker Jacques Demy, who died in 1990, is an abiding presence. Varda is an avid collector : of people and places, sensual experiences and intellectual preoccupations, personal commitments and political principles. She is a mother and wife, a feminist, nature-lover and urban-dwelling artist. Above all, she is a woman in love with the cinema whose new movie perfectly expresses her sentiment.

Director: Agnès Varda
Writer: Agnès Varda
Cast: Agnès Varda
Distributor: Cinema Guild
Country: France
Theatrical Release Date: July 1, 2009

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#593. DVD : Dark Streets [2008]

A dazzling film about a nightclub owner who gambles everything when he looks deeper into his father's death. Music. Betrayal. Passion... Welcome to the Blues and mystery of Dark Streets. Chaz Davenport (Gabriel Mann) is a dashing playboy who has it all: a hot nightclub, two glamorous singers (Bijou Phillips and Izabella Miko)and the most seductive music ever created playing from his stage. But when he enlists the help of the menacing "Lieutenant" to look into the sinister circumstances surrounding his father's death, his life spirals dangerously out-of control. Dark, sexy and sensuous, this music-driven journey smolders with a smoking hot score and a soundtrack that includes 12 original songs featuring Etta James, Aaron Neville and more! Co-starring sensational underground performer, Toledo.

Director: Rachel Samuels
Writer: Wallace King
Cast: Gabriel Mann, Bijou Phillips, Izabella Miko, Elias Koteas, Michael Fairman, Toledo Diamond
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Country: US
DVD Release Date: June 30, 2009

Sometimes when I am watching a really bad movie, I start to question how it even got made, leading me to imagine what might have been said at a pitch meeting to get a green light for such a car wreck. Normally, in a traumatic experience, one will wish him or herself to a happier place, so it tells you how bad a movie is that, by comparison, a meeting with Hollywood execs is preferable.

Such is the case with the jazz-age crime musical Dark Streets.

"You see, it's like Sin City meets Outkast's Idlewild, but Idlewild for white people. We'll talk about blues music and have some bluesy riffs running through the songs, but this will be with an almost completely white cast, headed by a guy like Ryan Gosling or the dude from Pushing Daisies. Or at least someone cheaper who looks a whole hell of a lot like them. To throw a bone to the legitimate blues community, we'll give a black guy the court jester role. You know, a narrator like Taye Diggs in Chicago, but he'll ham it up more and smoke a lot like he's in a rap video. We'll borrow a little of the plot from Chinatown, and the clothes will be crazy, almost like superhero costumes, because comic book movies are a big deal. Think Baz Luhrmann squaring off with Guy Ritchie in a back alley, but way more poncey."

Okay, granted, that's not a very serious attempt at what it must have been like, but if the people involved in this--director Rachel Samuels (The Suicide Club), first-time screenwriter Wallace King, or producer Glenn M. Stewart, who allegedly wrote a play this was based on--took it any more seriously themselves, then they have to be three of the most delusional people on the planet. In a year when I suffered through crap like The Women, to call Dark Streets the worst time I had at the movies in the last twelve months is really saying something.

For those who may be curious, the plot involves milquetoast rich boy Chaz (Gabriel Mann, 80 Minutes) running his frou-frou jazz club into the ground, sleeping most of the day away in an alcoholic haze, and crying over the money his recently deceased father decided not to leave him. Daddy was the head of a power company, and his death has occurred in the midst of troubling city-wide blackouts--a fact that should give anyone pause, but Chaz fails to see the connection until it is pointed out to him. But then, Chaz fails to see a lot of things, and his memory isn't so good. The latter part is pretty convenient for the writers, because they hinge half of their plot twists on Chaz remembering things he had previously forgotten when it best suits the story. "Oh, that's right, Daddy had a best friend who I totally hadn't thought about until I saw this picture of him." "The cabin in the woods? I forgot we had a cabin in the woods. I'll hide there and find new clues!" "Logic and plot construction? Was I supposed to bring some?"

Which might be fine if Gabriel Mann wasn't totally inept as an actor. You can have him grow a moustache and put a flask in his hand, but were I the one holding the liquor bottle, he wouldn't be able to convince me he was of legal drinking age with a valid driver's license, birth certificate, and the doctor who delivered him from his mother's womb standing by his side. All of the girls at the club swoon over the rich pretty boy, including the brassy Crystal (Bijou Phillips, Choke), who has a history with Chaz, but also a history with cocaine, so at least she had an excuse. She is threatened by the new singer in Chaz's club, the blonde and angelic Madelaine (Izabella Miko, Coyote Ugly), who was pushed on Chaz by a snarling cop (Elias Koteas, Some Kind of Wonderful) who is dressed in a uniform that makes him look like he's just stepped through a Stargate. The cop's wardrobe is just one of many inexplicable things in Dark Streets. For instance, why does the narrator, Prince Royale (Toledo Diamond), act like he just stepped out of a Fishbone music video--mohawk, cane, flashy suit, and all? Or how does one night away from the club allow it to decay so rapidly it suddenly looks like the morning after the wrap party for a Fellini movie?

These are questions I cannot answer, and I doubt any of the filmmakers can either, because I don't think they ever stopped to ask them. The music in the movie runs at a constant, either sung on stage by one of Chaz's performers or as part of the soundtrack, and I believe it's lathered on so thick in order to hopefully cover up the many plot holes. No doing. Dark Streets is as craggy and absorbent as a sponge, and no matter what Rachel Samuels throws on top of it, it all gets sucked into the boring morass. Hell, the movie doesn't even look good. All of the scenes are underlit, and Samuels and her director of photography, Sharone Meir (Mean Creek), smear the lens with Vaseline so that the image is never fully in focus, the edges of the frame blurred and distorted. I am sure this is meant to represent Chaz's confused state of mind and all the unknowns in the plot, but that's kind of like spitting into a rainstorm to make it more wet.

I suppose there are some people who might make a case for Dark Streets being so bad, it's almost good. It certainly has enough quotable lines, my personal favorite being Bijou Phillips shouting "But not special enough to keep a doctor from sticking a coat hanger in me!" She pops out with that bon mot during a fight with Chaz, and boy, does it shut him up. (Not a spoiler, it's a detail that emerges unprompted and is never mentioned again, neither moving the plot nor really changing anything at all, just like most of the story points in Dark Streets.) I personally think, however, that giving it such a distinction would be too kind to something that deserves no such kindness. When it comes to Dark Streets, we have to let bad just be bad.

Hell, not even an unexpected, somewhat baffling dedication to the people of New Orleans that appears at the end of the film is enough to make me say, "Well, at least they had noble intentions." Instead, I cried out loud, "Haven't those people suffered enough?" I certainly felt like I had.

Reviewed by :Jamie S.Rich [http://www.dvdtalk.com]

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#592. Sunshine Cleaning [2009]

A single mom and her slacker sister find an unexpected way to turn their lives around in the off-beat dramatic comedy 'Sunshine Cleaning.' Directed by Christine Jeffs (Rain, Sylvia), this uplifting film about an average family that finds the path to its dreams in an unlikely setting screened in competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Once the high school cheerleading captain who dated the quarterback, Rose Lorkowski (Academy Award nominee Amy Adams) now finds herself a thirty something single mother working as a maid. Her sister Norah, (Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt), is still living at home with their dad Joe (Academy Award winner Alan Arkin), a salesman with a lifelong history of ill-fated get rich quick schemes. Desperate to get her son into a better school, Rose persuades Norah to go into the crime scene clean-up business with her to make some quick cash. In no time, the girls are up to their elbows in murders, suicides and otherÂ…specialized situations. As they climb the ranks in a very dirty job, the sisters find a true respect for one another and the closeness they have always craved finally blossoms. By building their own improbable business, Rose and Norah open the door to the joys and challenges of being there for one another--no matter what--while creating a brighter future for the entire Lorkowski family.

GENRE(S): Comedy | Crime
WRITTEN BY: Megan Holley
DIRECTED BY: Christine Jeffs
Theatrical Release Date: 03/13/2009

I wish I’d liked Sunshine Cleaning, a rueful, Sundancey confection from the underrated Christine Jeffs (Sylvia) about two cash-strapped sisters (Amy Adams and Emily Blunt) who move into the niche market of scrubbing down crime scenes. Films with two good young actresses as the leads are hardly a dime a dozen.

Sadly, Megan Holley’s script reminded me of Garden State - red rag to a bull, I’m afraid. We learn halfway that the girls’ mother committed suicide - information carefully withheld then splurged in an unworkable monologue about pecan pie. Far from making sense of her daughters, this reveal simply encourages them into some terribly life-affirming, aren’t-we-sensitive behaviour - Blunt gets her kicks whooping under a speeding train, and poor Adams must contact mum’s spirit on a CB radio.

Meanwhile, Alan Arkin mooches around on the sidelines, automatically cast as their distant, crotchety dad. It’s plainly sentimental under its dressed-down layer of indie grime, but stuffing your heart inside your sleeve is a ploy, not a solution.

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#591. Medicine for Melancholy [2009]

Fate (and alcohol) brings two people together in this independent romantic comedy-drama. Joanne (Tracey Heggins) and Micah (Wyatt Cenac) wake up together one morning after a drunken one-night stand, the result of attending a late-night party at the home of a mutual friend. It becomes clear they don't know each other very well and after sharing breakfast, Joanne isn't interested in getting to know Micah any better. However, when Micah discovers that Joanne has misplaced her wallet, he stops by her apartment to return it, and they end up spending the day together. Joanne and Micah don't appear to have much in common; she's well-to-do and lives in San Francisco's pricey Marina District, while he has a flat in the rough-and-tumble Tenderloin and works with a group of activists struggling to make housing affordable in the city by the bay. As the day wears on, Joanne and Micah become increasingly aware of a genuine mutual attraction, but they also realize just how different they really are. The first feature film from writer and director Barry Jenkins, Medicine for Melancholy received its premiere at the 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival. - Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Starring :Wyatt Cenac, Tracey N. Heggins
Director(s): Barry Jenkins
Release Date: Feb 4, 2009
Genre: Drama

Visually more sophisticated than the bulk of features to yet come out of the new wave of DIY independent American cinema, narratively smoother and yet still boundless in mold-breaking ambition, triple-Independent Spirit Award nominee Medicine for Melancholy offers a self-contained rebuttal to claims that precious, naturalistic dramas about the existential dilemmas of hipster singles are exclusively a white man’s game. But the most exciting thing about the film is that director Barry Jenkins doesn’t seem interested in rebutting anything, or in playing any sort of game but his own. His mission: to talk about what it feels like to be young, black and artsy in a city in which people who fit that description make up a minuscule fraction of the population.

Formally and thematically, Melancholy is, in fact, driven by fractions. African-Americans currently make up less than 7 percent of the city of San Francisco. Several decades of gentrification have all but whitewashed the city’s historically non-white communities south of Market Street; the few non-gentrified pockets still standing are under constant threat of being steamrolled by the luxury housing boom. To make that point visually, Jenkins and cinematographer James Laxton literally drain the color almost completely from their digital video image. On first viewing, I guessed that the entirety of the film had been desaturated 93 percent to match the racial breakdown, but in Jenkins has said the level of desaturation actually fluctuates). The resulting image is soft and smoggy, mostly gray with pastel hints. Melancholy may be more committed to certain of the city’s un-pretty social truths than any other recent fiction film set in San Francisco, but ironically, as a sheer portrait of the city, it’s also maybe the most beautiful.

Jenkins wants us to know that, in such a literally colorless landscape, it’s a freak occurrence that our protagonists have met at all. Micah and Joanne wake up in the same bed the morning after a house party. They’ve apparently had sex, but have neglected to exchange names. An awkward brunch ensues, then a silent shared cab ride. Apparently embarrassed and certainly hungover, she storms out of the car when it reaches the top of Russian Hill, but leaves her wallet behind. He tracks her down, convinces her that they should spend the day together. The day turns into another drunken night.

As they explore the city together, Micah and Jo spend an awful lot of time talking self-consciously about race, even going as far as to argue over “what two black people do on a Sunday afternoon.” This is, initially, jarring, not just because it’s something you almost never see in a film not directed by Spike Lee, but because as a white girl, my knee jerk response was, “Shouldn’t black people know what it means to be a black person?”

Of course, Jenkins’ point is that, as if anybody ever really knows what it means to be what they are, these two certainly don’t, because for the most part, their racial role models are few and far between, and they can only define themselves against what they know they are not. For Micah, this seems to be Jo’s biggest selling point: she represents something he’s fantasized about, and like many of us would, once he stumbles on the embodiment of that fantasy he’s determined to hold on to it and not let it get away. But Joanne senses this, and doesn’t like it. The last thing she wants is to be wanted just because she’s the only black girl in town who silkscreens her own t-shirts and shops at the organic food co-op.

Over the course of the film, Jenkins subtly shifts our perspective, from Micah’s gaze to Joanne’s, all the while refusing to antagonize or fully sympathize with either. Somehow, by the end, we want to see these two kids cinch a traditional a happy ending. But Jenkins instead chooses realistic difficulty over the easy answer fantasy. A weekend coupling might work as a temporary salve for melancholy, but it never solves the problems it momentarily obscures. 24 hours after we enter the picture, we exit, carrying with us a perfectly molded portrait of a place in the form this fling.

review by : Karina Longworth [co-founder Cinematical Blog]

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#590. DVD : Two Lovers [2009]

Set in the insular world of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, 'Two Lovers' is a classic romantic drama, with Joaquin Phoenix giving a raw and vulnerable performance as Leonard, a charismatic but troubled young man who moves back into his childhood home following a recent heartbreak. While recovering under the watchful eye of his parents (Isabella Rossellini and Moni Monoshov), Leonard meets two women in quick succession: Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow), a mysterious and beautiful neighbor who is exotic and out-of-place in Leonard's staid world, and Sandra, the lovely and caring daughter of a businessman who is buying out his family's dry-cleaning business.Leonard becomes deeply infatuated by Michelle, who seems poised to fall for him, but is having a self-destructive affair with a married man. At the same time, mounting pressure from his family pushes him towards committing to Sandra. Leonard is forced to make an impossible decision -- between the impetuousness of desire and the comfort of love -- or risk falling back into the darkness that nearly killed him.

Theatrical Release Date:02/13/2009
DVD Release Date:06/30/2009
Director(s):James Gray
Starring:Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vinessa Shaw, Isabella Rossellini, Elias Koteas

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#589. Lorna's Silence - Le silence de Lorna [2009]

An Albanian woman living in Belgium finds her dreams of opening a snack bar with her boyfriend leading to tragedy after she agrees to marry a Russian Mafioso in order to gain citizenship. All Lorna wanted was to start a small business with her loving boyfriend, but in order to make that happen she would first have to gain citizenship. Local mobster Fabio claims that he can make that happen if Lorna agrees to a sham marriage with a man named Claudy. After gaining Belgian citizenship, Lorna discovers that a high-profile Russian Mafioso is also seeking legal entry into Belgium, and soon. He's willing to pay a hearty sum in order to marry Lorna, but in order for that second marriage to be possible Fabio will have to have Claudy killed. Will Lorna be able to remain silent as Fabio's deadly plot unfolds, and what will become of her if Fabio finds out that she has warned Claudy of the impending danger he faces? - Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Director(s): Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Starring : Arta Dobroshi, Jérémie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione
Genre(s): Drama
Theatrical Release Date:07/31/2009
Country : France

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#588. DVD - Crips and Bloods : Made in America [2008]

Stacy Peralta uses his knack for dissecting counter-cultures to highlight the two most violent gangs in America with Crips and Bloods: Made in America.Since his breakout Sundance hit Dogtown and Z-Boys, about the iconic skateboarders who revolutionized the sport (Peralta was one of the Z-Boys), Peralta has stayed in the alt-sport realm as his second doc, Riding Giants, looked at the history of surfing (it was also the opening film at 04's Sundance). Now Peralta leaves his comfort zone to look at a world he's not directly a part of.In telling the story of the Crips and Bloods, Peralta goes back to the Watts riots of 1965 which let out the anger African-Americans were feeling at the time towards not only their status in America but the brutality the police put on them daily.Segueing to the popularity of black power organizations during the time, gangs in South Central L.A. were at an all time low. But gradually long prison sentences or death to most of the positive black leaders by the end of the civil rights movement leads to the creation of the Crips which quickly attracts the disconnected youth. The Bloods quickly followed as a rival gang leading to decades of a blue (Crips) and red (Bloods) turf war in South Central with little intervention from the state on how to clean it up.

Peralta examines the rise of the Crips and Bloods through interviewing former or current members of the gangs, showing moving still photos, ghastly archival footage of murder scenes and speaking to mothers who've lost their children to gang violence. But Made in America, narrated by Forest Whitaker, isn't so much an expose on gang life as it is an optimistic story of hope. Rather than shocking the audience with the access he can get with the gangs or document initiations or drive-bys, Peralta portrays gang life as not a choice but an all-consuming inevitability for young black males in South Central. The sliver lining in all of this is that it seems gang members who are now middle-aged have seen their errors and are trying to portray a better environment for today's youth, but has the gang mentality become too deep-seeded in the neighborhoods? Peralta doesn't have the answers or attempts to act like he does, he lays out the facts in the hope that change can come on the streets as well as making the audience better understand the reasoning behind joining a gang.

Source : Filmmaker Magazine [http://filmmakermagazine.com]
posted by Jason Guerrasio @ 5/17/2009 11:10:00 PM

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#587. Three-Point Lighting : The Art of Lighting for Film

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of motion pictures. It sets the tone of a film while giving two dimensional images the feeling of three dimensional life.Whether you are a big budget producer shooting on 35mm film or an independent film director working on a shoe string budget with a borrowed digital camera, there is one thing you will need or no one will ever see your film: Lighting. The three-point lighting system is the most common lighting scheme used in motion pictures. It uses a key light, a fill light, and a back light (or rim light). Using three lights from three different directions creates a sense of depth on people and objects guaranteeing everything will look three dimensional.

Key Light
The key light is the primary light used to illuminate a subject. It is usually positioned 15 – 45 degrees from one side of the camera and angled down 15 – 45 degrees from above the subject. This light represents the primary source of light in a scene simulating the sun, a window, a light bulb or some other source of light.

Fill Light
After the key light is positioned you will notice a harsh shadow on one side of the subject opposite the key light. The fill light is meant to reduce the shadow but not eliminate it entirely (shadow gives a sense of depth). A fill light should be placed on the opposite side of the key light but needs to be about half as bright and not positioned quite as high. Do not place it at the exact same angle as the key light. It is meant to simulate other light sources or light that is being reflected off other objects.

Back Light (Rim Light)
The back light needs to be placed behind the subject opposite the camera but high above both so that none of the light goes directly into the camera. This light will create a slight glow on the back of the subject and thus separate it from the background. This prevents the subject from looking two dimensional on the film. It is sometimes referred to as the hallo effect.

Source : Filmstudies [http://filmstudies.suite101.com/article.cfm/threepoint_lighting#ixzz0Jm5vhYRX&D]
© Sean Ryan Valinoti
Aug 4, 2007

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#586. Cinema : The fallen shall rise again

THANKFULLY, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen lived up to expectations. For months now, this sequel to the 2007 original has been the subject of media hype.This time, it’s more of the same except the ride is wilder, faster and wonderfully entertaining. Frankly, I had difficulty identifying which end of the fast-moving Autobots was its head and which was its rear. That’s only a minor visual inconvenience because the sens-surround speakers which pounded the heart and ears for a greater part of 144 minutes more than made up for an exhilarating experience involving good and evil robots battling it out on earth.

Yes, the plot is indeed a little light-weight. So what if ideas have been liberally borrowed from films like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, Species and Star Trek? The totally incredible plot and fantastic supersonic sequences did the trick.

The main players of Transformers (2007) are back at their Star Trooper best. They are Sam Witwicky (Shia Lebeouf), Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox), Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Major Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson).

The story picks up two years after Autobots fought and won their battle with the Decepticons. Sam still has his guardian robot Bumblebee in his garage and the rest of the Autobots are working with a highly classified government team called Nest.

The Nest mission is to seek out Decepticons that are hiding in various parts of the globe and destroy them. However, Megatron is revived from his deathbed at the bottom of the ocean and embarks on a trail of vengeance and destruction.

Things move pretty fast then on, that is just two minutes into the film. Then it sort of flies out in a tangent and boggles the human mind with its sci-fi magic with lots of help from the Industrial Light and Magic experts.

Corny one-liners are in abundance as the action scenes roll out relentlessly. There’s nothing like a staccato series of easy laughter in the cinema to liven up the atmosphere.

Transformers II, in all fairness, must not be compared with Terminator Salvation because the latter was not meant to be funny and belonged to the noir genre.

Optimus Prime and Megatron with all their deadly accomplices are rendered with human-like qualities that make them almost endearing in parts.

Sam (Shia Labeouf) is very likeable on screen as the slightly geeky boy teetering on adulthood. He’s about to embark on an academic adventure in college when he literally hears a higher calling.

Mikaela, as most men would vouch, is the “star attraction” of this show. With her stunning looks and a body to match, most college students who watch this film can be forgiven for forgetting quickly the entire plot. Not that they care anyway.

Honestly, I don’t know what or why Mikaela is working in a motor shop but I swear I will take a close look at all curvy bikes from now on.

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen will best be appreciated in the cinema. And if you are not strapped for cash, a second visit is recommended because the action scenes will outrun your visual perception.

This film is a well engineered and an unadulterated piece of entertainment. With its PG-13 rating, children won’t be in any immediate danger of losing their moral values or having their sense of reality distorted.

Source : Sunday People - New Straits Times {NST] 28/06/09
Review by PHILIP LIM

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