Thursday, October 21, 2010

City Island

In the movie A Bronx Tale, Robert DeNiro’s character drives a bus to a place called City Island, a small fishing village in the Bronx (of all places). For some reason that scene always stuck with me – the image of a peaceful island, surrounded by an overcrowded city. So I rented this movie called City Island, not knowing anything about it, only because I liked the concept. And really, I think that’s the best way to go into the movie; not knowing too much. So I won't talk too much summary.

City Island is about a family living on, you guessed it, City Island. Andy Garcia, who is just so awesome in this, plays Vince, a father with a secret. Julianna Margulies, plays the mother who also has a secret. The son and daughter also keep secrets from the rest of the family. The son’s secret is just so crazy, I can’t imagine how the writer, Raymond De Felitta, came up with it. They all live under one roof, yet they all live their own private lives, on their own private islands. Neat connection huh? Vince works as a correctional officer at a prison, and when he brings a convict home with him, the secrets start to come out.

Andy Garcia is great. Most of the time I think he’s okay. I think his performances are pretty standard; a debonair Italian dude. In City Island, he plays an older, unsure of himself, kind of guy, who longs to be a debonair Italian dude. He even references Pacino, DeNiro and his idol, Marlon Brando. Garcia plays Vince in a humbling yet charming and likeable way. There’s one scene where Vince stares at his own daughter’s chest. It’s a pretty awkward scene, but what makes it even funnier, is that the actress playing his daughter, is actually Garcia’s daughter, Dominik.

Emily Mortimer plays Vince’s friend Molly. She doesn’t have a very large part, but she invokes the beauty and quirkiness of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She’s graceful and silly and supports Vince during his transition into the man he wants to be. I couldn’t help but like her as well.

City Island is a funny movie, but it’s mostly that interesting kind of funny where you say, “Oh that’s funny,” instead of actually laughing. Some of the scenes definitely had me LOL-ing though. It’s a great story, set in a unique locale. The characters are interesting and have some pretty wild secrets. I could definitely see this working on an off-Broadway stage. The ending alone is reminiscent of a Shakespeare.

3.5 Italian dudes

Sunday, October 3, 2010



Been a while.

You look good.

So my friends and I went to see Legend of the Guardians. You know, the owl movie. When we got there, the ticket lady said they weren’t playing it. The Regal website said they were, but they weren’t, and she didn’t know why. She just pointed to the electronic signboard behind her, where the owl movie showimes ended at 3 pm. Can’t argue with that.

So we saw Devil.

We thought it would be good for a laugh. But actually, Devil is a pretty decent flick. It’s scary as hell. You’ve probably seen enough advertisements to know that this is the movie about the people on the elevator. So I don’t think I need to explain much more than that. It’s about people on an elevator and they may or may not have encountered the devil himself. According to the film’s narrator, a security guard who watches the events unfold, the devil arrives whenever there is a suicide and torments the damned on Earth.

When the movie starts, the first thing you see is “The Night Chronicles” followed by a giant number 1. This is the first in a Twilight Zone-like series of supernatural movies under the night chronicles moniker. M. Night Shyamalan has invented each story, the final one apparently based on an Unbreakable sequel, but he isn’t directing. I think he is tired of getting laughed at. Devil is directed by John Erick Dowdle.

In my opinion, M. Night should be happy with Devil. Like I said, it’s really scary. Devil is legitimately the scariest movie I’ve seen since The Ring. In a decade of torture porn, this is a refreshing change. There is actually little to no blood or guts. No one has their eyes poked out and no one is surgically attached to someone else’s butt, centipede-style. For the most part, the really gruesome stuff happens when the lights go out. The lights flicker and you know something bad is about to go down. Only hearing the nasty stuff, and not knowing what you’ll see when the lights go back on, is the scariest part. I think that’s more effective than the disgusting garbage all these amateur studios have been filling Blockbuster with.

The tension increases with the concept that humans become the villains when we are at our worst. I quote Rodney Dangerfield, “What good is being the best, when it brings out the worst in you?” Okay, that’s a stretch, but I watched Ladybugs this morning. In Devil, the five characters are so stressed they turn on each other, which adds a whole new freaky element. Dowdle’s other movie, Quarantine, was also successful as an experiment in claustrophobia.

In classic M. Night style, the actors aren’t the best. I only recognized one of them - he was on The O.C. They do pretty well for the most part, and they are convincing, but there aren’t any stand-out performances. The most annoying thing is when they look into the camera when addressing another character, as if the audience were that character. I get that elevators are small and probably hard to film in. It's just irritating and I might be the only one that noticed it. But now you will, so enjoy.

I’m not sure how scary this movie will be on video, unless you have a really big TV with great surround sound. For me, Devil worked as an experience. When the lights go out, the theater is pitch black and you become an elevator rider yourself. You can’t really escape. In your living room, you can keep the lights on. Plus, you can take the stairs. So, if you’re looking for a good Halloween flick and are tired of the Saw movies, go see Devil. And bring a second pair of underpants.

3 safer methods of transportation because you will not want to ride an elevator again.


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