The Ten Best Films of the Decade?

Alright, readers, before I publish my own list, let’s get some conversation going. Think back on the last ten years of cinema and come up with your top few films from that era! Here’s a useful starter, the Academy Awards for each year, with the winner highlighted in all caps: 2000 Picture: “GLADIATOR,” “Chocolat,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Traffic” Actor:RUSSELL CROWE in “Gladiator,” Javier Bardem in “Before Night Falls,” Tom Hanks in “Cast Away,” Ed…Read More

Review: Up In The Air

When I was a kid, I used to think that business travel must be fabulous, a life of glamor punctuated by new cities, fancy hotels and anything you’d like to eat, each and every meal. Then I started to travel and realized just how exhausting and disheartening it is, how it can suck the life out of you and leave you restless both on the road and at home. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) has just…Read More

Review: Ninja Assassin

Ninjas in the modern world?  Isn’t that something from 16th Century feudal Japan?  The basic premise of the entertaining and graphically violent film Ninja Assassin is that the clans still exist and that they are behind some of the most mysterious of assassinations, all paid for using the ancient calculation of a man’s life being worth 100 pounds of gold. The film opens with a tough guy Yakuza gang leader having a tattoo inked on…Read More

Review: Best Worst Movie

I’m an unabashed fan of old, low-budget movies, but even having seen tons of them, I still hadn’t seen what is considered one of the very worst films ever made, Troll II. It’s so bad, actually, that it’s become a cult favorite, in the same spirit as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dawn of the Dead, and more. The indie film Best Worst Movie is a documentary about Troll II, about how an unassuming group…Read More

Pixar’s ‘Up’ Academy Awards Screener Package

Though I can’t say that I’m an unabashed fan of the recent Pixar animated film Up (see my review of Up), I did enjoy it and certainly feel that the first 30 minutes or so stand up as some of the best scenes in a motion picture I’ve ever seen, animated or otherwise.  That’s why it was interesting – and darn cool – when Disney sent me the entire Awards Screener package for Up, known…Read More

Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

In a world of children’s films increasingly characterized by technological accomplishment and sophisticated rendering in lieu of good old-fashioned storytelling, it was a breath of fresh air to enjoy the stop-motion Fantastic Mr. Fox. Tapping the considerable voice talents of George Clooney (Mr. Fox), Meryl Streep (Mrs. Fox), Bill Murray (Badger), Michael Gambon (Franklin Bean), Owen Wilson (Coach Skip), Willem Dafoe (Rat) and Jason Schwartzman (Ash), director Wes Anderson has managed to take the quirky…Read More

Review: Planet 51

If we land on another planet — or back here on Earth — and find something other than what we expect, who is the alien in that situation, the modern day Earthman, or the local? It’s a plot staple of the classic old Twilight Zone series and the basis of a lot of films, including the entire Planet of the Apes series. It’s the allegorical mirror of Pogo’s famous “we have met the enemy and…Read More

Review: Caja Negra (Black Box)

Showing at the Starz Denver Film Festival, I was sent a screener of the curious film Caja Negra (Black Box), a short (80minute) Mexican thriller, directed by Ariel Gordon. In Spanish with English subtitles, it’s almost two completely different films spliced together, but in a very interesting manner. The film starts out with an animated sequence that explains the widespread corruption in Mexico, focused specifically on manipulation of the stock market to enable the low…Read More

Review: 2012

Can you hear that sound? It’s a crack slowly but unceasingly running through the Earth, a crack that will tear buildings apart, leave gaping crevasses where previously there were roads, and rip children out of their parent’s hands, to plummet to their deaths as the world collapses.  But all is not lost, a few hundred thousand people have a secret plan to escape the worldwide destruction and start humanity anew, reseeding the Earth post-apocalypse. Or…Read More

Review: Pirate Radio

Any film that’s built around the fabulous music of the mid-1960’s starts out with one thing going for it: a great soundtrack. That Pirate Radio goes beyond that and offers up an entertaining and poignant story about the loss of innocence is what makes it a film well worth your time. There was so much rock and roll coming out of Britain in the 1960’s that it’s generally referred to as the “British Invasion”, and…Read More

Event: Starz Denver Film Festival

If you’re in Colorado, you owe it to yourself to check out the lineup and go see a film or two at the terrific, world-class Starz Denver Film Festival, opening tomorrow, Nov 12th, 2009.  Here are some interesting facts to whet your appetite:   FACTS Total number of films: 210 Number of “sneak peaks”: 1 Number of documentaries: 56 (including shorts) Number of features: 124 Numbers of shorts: 86 Number of U.S. films: 115 Number…Read More

Review: The Box

The Box is actually two movies clumsily grafted into a single narrative story line. It starts out with a provocative ethical dilemma: would you push a button that you knew would kill someone, somewhere, a stranger, if you were to be paid a million dollars?  That’s the movie I was hoping to see, and to be fair, the first 30-40 minutes of the film are focused on just this situation. But then Norma Lewis (Cameron…Read More

Review: A Christmas Carol

Having three children helps me have a good sense of what kids can handle in a movie, both in terms of imagery, pacing, storyline and overall cinematic experience. And it’s that background that lets me state unequivocally that Robert Zemeckis has completely missed the boat with this new animated A Christmas Carol and instead of creating a heartwarming film about how even the most unhappy person can be redeemed, he’s created a terrifying vision that…Read More

Review: The Men Who Stare at Goats

“Is this really based on facts?” a fellow critic asked the studio rep at the screening I attended of this film. “Does it matter?” I asked in response, and I was right, it doesn’t. Whether it’s true or just a riff on the craziness of modern military and contemporary culture, it turns out that The Men Who Stare at Goats is a witty and engaging satire in the same vein as the classic war films…Read More

Review: Astro Boy

I like animation in just about any form, whether it’s the stop motion brilliance of Coraline or the computer graphics gleam of Toy Story or Shrek. I’m not a huge fan of manga, however, Japanese comics,though I am a definite fan of graphic novels and probably buy a dozen or so every month (which my kids definitely appreciate).  Astro Boy was a mixed bag, therefore, because it’s animated (good) but based on a very Japanese…Read More

Review: Law Abiding Citizen

It’s not hard to find someone with a cynical view of lawyers, especially trial lawyers, many of whom are more interested in their own careers and in winning cases than they are in seeing that justice is served. It’s an old story that’s been told again and again in the cinema. Law Abiding Citizen is the latest in the bad lawyer genre, with Jamie Foxx as career focused attorney Nick Rice who accepts a plea bargain…Read More

News: Redbox testing DVD sales from its kiosks

There’s a very interesting article published today in Video Business that shares that Redbox is testing what happens if it sells DVDs through end-user kiosks. Wow. Apparently they’re tapping a new kiosk design that’s black, not red, and have the Vidigo brand banner (though not for long as there’s already a TV production company by that name at, but they’re not at the same price point as the $1/night Redbox rentals. Instead, they’re going to…Read More

Review: Couples Retreat

Director Peter Billingsley had a tough assignment: take four suburban couples and put them through a series of “relationship building” challenges that were thought-provoking, poignant, revealing, and funny. In his attempt to accomplish this, he commits the cardinal directorial sin: he makes everyone a crass caricature, preventing us from engaging with any of them, nor caring about the outcome of their journey. Worse, it’s just not that funny. Couples Retreat could have been a funny…Read More

Review: Surrogates

Some films start out with bad buzz from the get-go and never seem to shake it, even as people actually see the film. The comments end up being “it’s not as bad as I thought it would be” or “ah, it’s okay”. Surrogates had this problem, and it’s because of the star: Bruce Willis. He’s an actor who has had what Hollywood types call a “checkered career”, with some great films (Die Hard, The Sixth…Read More

Review: Zombieland

It takes a certain sense of humor to enjoy a horror comedy film like Zombieland, but if you can laugh at graphic violence and can see the humor in parody, then this is a great movie for you to catch. Brilliantly funny, full of great lines, Zombieland offers a zombie film unlike any other I’ve seen, though perhaps the cult hit Shaun of the Dead comes somewhat close. The film is set in the present…Read More

Review: Love Happens

Imagine having a tragic loss and coping with that by writing a heartfelt journal that, through a series of coincidences, turns into a national best selling book on dealing with grief. Before you know it, you find yourself a self-help guru running workshops throughout the United States, even as you still have a niggling feeling that you haven’t really dealt with all the emotions related to the loss itself. That’s the situation that Burke Ryan,…Read More