Archive for September, 2006

Heading South
2005

September 6, 2006
Camera 12
France / Canada
French / English
108 Minutes

Full podcast review at cinebanter.

7.4 Metacritic

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2002

September 4, 2006
DVD
USA
English
224 Minutes

Silent Bob Speaks.

Kevin Smith speaks at five college campuses. The students love him, to an almost ridiculous degree. But he sure can spin a yarn. One by one, college students, many not exactly sober, take the microphone to ask him a question. Some can be answered in one word, but Smith often uses the question as an excuse to talk about Afleck, sex with his wife, Prince, and baggies of pot. They are all entertaining. He has a relaxed way with his speaking. The fact that he’s sweating profusely and wearing his trademark sleeveless sweatshirt and constantly pushing his glasses back up makes him seem like any other geeky movie fan. That’s his genius. Also, his self-deprecation has been honed to such a degree that you fall right into his trap. Towards the end, the story of his first date with his wife is pure genius.

He swears a lot, he mocks himself and his fans, and he absolutely does have a good story to tell. He is a regular guy who made it relatively big.

I also think that he is one of the smartest writers in film today. He was the first filmmaker/writer who is younger than me, but who I couldn’t possibly measure up to. Whether he’s writing a screenplay, appearing next to Mr. Roper, judging stories on Howard Stern, or speaking in front of a boisterous crowd, he remains that same smart person who feels like he lucked into his dream job.

He’s hard not to like. At 224 minutes long, however, you may want to break up the viewing into several days.

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2006

September 2, 2006
DVD
USA
English
82 Minutes

As mentioned in Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, and every other publication when discussing 9/11 conspiracies. There is compelling evidence in this free download that the “official” story behind the September 11th attack may not be entirely truthful. If you loved JFK, if you think our government is evil and not just bumbling and arrogant, this is for you. I felt nervous and dirty as I watched. How exactly did all those cell phones work on the Penn flight? Why did eyewitnesses mention a missile or a small commuter plane instead of commercial aircraft? Even if it turns out to be all wrong, it had my attention.

And even if the filmmaker’s main reason for 9/11 (to pull our country together to attack Iraq) isn’t exactly correct, no one can deny that since the attack, our president has used this excuse to pretty much do whatever he wants.

Download the film here (they ask you to, you’re not stealing in this case.)

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(House Of Sand)
2005

August 30, 2006
San Jose CA — Camera 12
Brazil
Portuguese
115 Minutes

Full review on Cinebanter podcast.

6.9 Metacritic

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2006

August 30, 2006
San Jose CA — Camera 12
USA
English
105 Minutes

Dreams Are Not Lived On The Sidelines.

Exactly what you’d expect from a sports film from Disney. The true story of a bartender from South Philly who tries out for and earns a spot with the 1976 Philadelphia Eagles.

He had exactly one year of High School football experience. But he was way better than the other mooks he plays with on a vacant lot field straight from central casting. (This vacant lot is so blue-collar that the hole in its fence is decorated with hub caps and the field itself is one of those which never dries.) So why not?

New coach Dick Vermeil (played by Greg Kinnear and a 70s wig) admires his gumption and keeps him on the team despite the hostility shown by some veterans (which mostly include black players, incidentally).

Mark Walberg is Vince Papale, who will soon need to cut back on his bartending hours as he’s going to be #83 on the Eagles for the next three years.

I’m a sucker for this kind of movie and I’m pretty sure your enjoyment will hinge on how much you like underdog stories, sports films, and maybe most importantly, the National Football League.

When Vince is standing on the field at Veteran’s Stadium (which I’ve stood on, thank you very much) and looks up at the mock-up of the liberty bell and his upper deck season seats, I almost teared up immediately. We know he’s going to make it, but we’re still happy when he does. He constantly tells people he’ll be back to his old job any day now. The first cut-down day was pretty funny. Huge veterans are being told one by one, with a knock on their dorm doors “Coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook.” They’ll all be cut. Anyone who watched the HBO doc series on the Baltimore Ravens training camp will know just how truthful those scenes were. We cut to Vince who is sitting on his bed, with his bag packed and playbook ready for the inevitable knock, which never comes.

Sure it’s simplistic. The love interest is a Giants fan who can quote football stats–surely the sign of the perfect woman. Most ridiculous is that it appeared that Vince’s entire success was based not on his innate talent, but on a 2-second lesson that his huge roommate taught him about the color of an opponent’s knuckles.

The comparisons to RUDY are going to happen. Rudy will appeal to college fans more, and those who are Notre Dame fans won’t feel that INVINCIBLE deserves to carry RUDY’s jock. But this one made me smile. When Vince jogs onto the turf at Cowboy Stadium, I almost vomited from nervousness. The post-release reaction to RUDY wasn’t always good. The true story is that he wasn’t carried off the field on that final game. To stop those same accusations on this film, the director includes Super 8 footage of the very same play we just watched Walberg execute. Granted, in the movie, Walberg takes slow motion steps and runs what seems like 70 yards, and then we see Papale sort of fall on the ball in the endzone, but the effort is appreciated. Then we see other shots of the real Papale smiling and hugging other players. We also see the fans of Philadelphia, in all their mid-70s glory.

The constant reminder that they are the toughest, least-patient fans in any American City is true and correct. This I can verify.

The Eagles would make it to the 1980 Superbowl, led by Ron Jaworski, played in the now infamous Superdome which was enveloped in a yellow ribbon for the Iranian hostages. What happened there? Oh yeah, my beloved Raiders crushed them to become Champions.

The music was almost too 1970s perfect, but I swallowed it whole. The town looked sepiatoned and though we’re told it’s dangerous, we don’t see any danger. Papale in the film doesn’t really have much riding on his making the team. It begins as a lark and he finds out he likes it. Add this to the other guy realizing a dream film that Walberg was in, ROCK STAR.

And I didn’t see a single guy eating a sandwich at any time. How truthful is a film about Philly without a Cheesesteak or Hoagie?

Did I tear up? Of course. But I’m a wuss.

6.3 Metacritic

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2006

August 26, 2006
HBO
USA
English
255 Minutes

A film every American should see. I especially liked seeing Wendell Pierce, a New Orleans native, who appears on the best show on television, HBO’s The Wire. It’s more than four hours long, but doesn’t drag. There are characters galore. The white guy who armed himself before returning to his home after hearing of looters and murder. There are stoic people and people who sound crazy. By far the best interview is the woman who recounts her efforts to get on a plane from the New Orleans airport. The cops on the bridge story is recounted as are all the stories that ended up being false about babies being raped and thrown from the upper deck of the Superdome. People really open up to Spike’s camera. A man had to leave his dead mother in a wheelchair at the Convention Center when he was told at gunpoint to board a bus whose destination hadn’t yet been determined. And then the insurance companies came. Pierce says, “there’s a special circle in hell for insurance people.”

Had he taken out the stories of the government purposely bombing the levees in order to flood the poor sections, it may have had more impact. He left in those rumors and conspiracy stories because years ago, those areas were purposely flooded. The list of interviewees is quite something. Academics, angry black professors, Sean Penn, rich white people, newscasters.

Well done.

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2005

August 18, 2006
DVD
USA
English
103 Minutes

Fantastic documentary about a block party Dave Chappelle threw in Brooklyn for no real reason except that he sort of wanted to. He gets his friends together who are famous in Hip Hop and R & B, finds a nice gritty location, and invites a wide range of people to enjoy themselves. Watching Dave walk around his hometown of Dayton OH is something special. He doesn’t seem to have any star issues. He also seems to be embarrassed at his financial success. He lives there because people ignore him. He walks around and invites a pair of college kids, the lady who works the convenience store, two tax officials, and an entire marching band.

At the party, the acts perform, it rains, and everyone mingles for ten hours or so on a Saturday afternoon. Rich rappers and poor college students hanging out. The Fugees reunited for this movie which doesn’t really mean anything to me, but might to you. Fantastic.

8.4 Metacritic

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Written by Michael W. Cummins