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Blogs THE MESSENGER (2009) (***1/2)

Nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay, this psychological look at the effects of war understands what we feel and what others believe we should feel are completely different sometimes. Returning soldiers deal with this more acutely. Soldiers at war deal with death directly and sometimes often, while civilians see it at a distance until it hits them personally. So how does it feel to be the soldier that has to tell the next of kin about their loved one's death?

Staff Sgt. Will Montgomery (Ben Foster, 3:10 TO YUMA) is a returning soldier from Iraq and a decorated war hero. The military has assigned the recovering soldier to deliver death notices for the remainder of his enlistment. He is partnered with Capt. Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson, THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLINT), a recovering alcoholic who served in the first Gulf War. Stone's single-mindedly adheres to the military manual on giving notice. He doesn't want any confusion like the time a solider told a next of kin, or NOK, that their son was no longer with us and his mother thought he had defected.

Blogs SHREK FOREVER AFTER (2010) (**)

In my review for SHREK THE THIRD, I said, "[it] doesn’t walk the edge like the other films, but there are still enough flares of that same good ol’ SHREK that you remember why you were friends in the first place." Three years later those flares have completely burned out. This "what if Shrek were never born" fantasy is the kind of desperate plot that tired sitcoms resort to.

Shrek (Mike Myers, AUSTIN POWERS) has given up his kingdom to settle down in the swamp with Fiona (Cameron Diaz, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH) and the kids. The only problem is his repetitive and safe domestic life doesn't sit well with the ogre who can no longer scare a child. So when Rumpelstiltskin (Watt Dohrn) makes Shrek a deal to trade one day from his childhood for one more day as a real ogre, the big green dummy signs on the dotted line.

Blogs SHREK FOREVER AFTER (2010) (**)

In my review for SHREK THE THIRD, I said, "[it] doesn’t walk the edge like the other films, but there are still enough flares of that same good ol’ SHREK that you remember why you were friends in the first place." Three years later those flares have completely burned out. This "what if Shrek were never born" fantasy is the kind of desperate plot that tired sitcoms resort to.

Blogs Blu-ray: INVICTUS (2009)

Read my original INVICTUS review here!

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings Clint Eastwood's Nelson Mandela tale to Blu-ray in a 1080p/VC-1 edition. While the picture quality isn't blow-your-mind, the transfer keeps the integrity of the original source. Film grain is presented evenly across the entire film. This is not a title that has the three-dimensional pop to it. Color balance is nicely done across the board with the richest moments coming during the final rugby match between South Africa in the green and gold and New Zealand in their stark white and black. Cinematographer Tom Stern doesn't go for flashy camera work and this transfer keeps true to his realistic visual approach.

Blogs 'How to Train Your Dragon' Opens to Critical Acclaim in China

Chinese film industry observers expect that How to Train Your Dragon’s opening will kick IMAX movie viewing into high gear. From the advanced press reviews from China, and response from the first day of screenings in China, the critics and audience absolutely LOVED this movie.

Blogs Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum (podcast) x 07

New, from the makers of the Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum, it's the Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum's Lucky Sevens Sunday Sweep-week Spectacular! Starring Joel Frenzer and Alan Foreman! You'll be wowed by Joel's magical grievance genius! Thrilled by Alan's private area! And swept away by a beautiful wind! Your heart will soar as special guest Carolyn London waxes poetic about life as a soon-to-be mother, life as an independent filmmaker, and the future of inter-galactic voyeurism! But that's not all! If you listen now, you'll receive another Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum Super Saver Bonus Feature bringing you another highlight from the 2009 Ottawa International Animation Festival Animator's Picnic with special guest appearances by Robert Anderson, Gene Fowler, and the 32nd President of the United States of America... Franklin Delano Roosevelt!

Blogs Blu-ray Buzz – Inspiring Rugby, Walkabouts & Real Sex

One of the very best films of last year has arrived on Bu-ray and DVD this week. We'll also take a look at two solid films that are coming to Blu-ray. There are also Buzzed About films that have me very excited to check out.

Pick of the Week
Clint Eastwood's INVICTUS chronicles Nelson Mandela's attempt to reunite South Africa after apartheid. Mandela used the national rugby team as a common bond between blacks and whites. Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon as rugby captain Francois Pienaar were both nominated for the Academy Award. If any inspirational sports film should have been nominated for Best Picture, this should have been the one. Sorry BLIND SIDE. Mandela's story is remarkable and in taking this one part of his life the film captures the great man's spirit as a whole.


Like me, director Werner Herzog has never seen the original BAD LIEUTENANT, starring Harvey Keitel and directed by Abel Ferrara. So he took this project on as an original. That's of course how I had to go into watching it. It seems like the perfect project for Herzog, following a larger than life character with an obsession.

This character is Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage, LEAVING LAS VEGAS), a police detective in New Orleans. Before the waters have receded he and his partner Stevie Pruit (Val Kilmer, TOMBSTONE) stumble upon a prisoner still locked away in a cell as the water rises. The detectives contemplate leaving him to die (Terence doesn't want to ruin his expensive underwear), but he decides to jump in anyway. In the process he injuries his back severely and will suffer pain the rest of his life.

Blogs SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009) (***)

Coming from Guy Ritchie, the director of LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, it's not surprising that this Sherlock Holmes is a more physical chap. But what is surprising is how it is handled. While this film has a contemporary vibe, it stays true to the spirit of the famed character. He is a detective and a skeptic and those qualities drive him and this film.

To start Holmes (Robert Downey Jr., IRON MAN) and his partner Dr. John Watson (Jude Law, A.I.) are on a desperate chase to stop Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong, STARDUST) from committing another ritual murder. Blackwood is caught and sentenced to hang. On the night of his execution he warns Holmes that he will be back to kill again. Soon ritual murders begin again and Blackwood's tomb is broken out of from the inside. As London descends into a panic over the supernatural, Holmes is determined to discover the Earthly truth behind the mystery.


Roger Ebert said it best, "BOONDOCK SAINTS II: ALL SAINTS DAY is an idiotic ode to macho horseshite." The original was an entertaining edition to the stylistic actioners of the late '90s such as EL MARIACHI and John Woo's flicks. The film did poorly in a very small release, but gained cult status on DVD. Director Troy Duffy's quick rise to a production deal at Miramax was unflatteringly captured in the doc OVERNIGHT from his former friends Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith. He comes off as a drunken egotist. Kind of explains this film.

Following the events of the first film, Conner, Murphy and Noah MacManus (Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus and Billy Connolly, respectively) fled to Ireland to hide out. Good idea after being part of bloody massacres. Then a priest is murdered in Boston in the style of the MacManuses. So the brothers Conner and Murphy head back to the States to see what's up. On their way they meet Mexican fighter Romeo (Clifton Collins Jr., CAPOTE) who recognizes them as the infamous Saints and is desperate to be their new partner. They become convinced that the son of their target in the first film, Concezio Yakavetta (Judd Nelson, BREAKFAST CLUB), is behind the killing as a way to lure them out.