Archive for July, 2009

Cohan’s ‘Bruno’ exploit people’s phobias and stupidity.

Posted in Reviews on July 10, 2009 by Steve Mesa

Who is the man that is willing to travel to the Middle East to get kidnap by terrorists and adopts an African baby by trading an iPod for him? It is none other than Sasha Baron Cohen as his alter-ego, a gay Austrian television personality named Bruno.
Spinning off another character from his HBO show, Da Ali G Show, Cohen takes his character to America after he is arrested for an incident at Milan’s Fashion Week with his patented self-made Velcro suit. When he is blacklisted from every major fashion event in Europe, he decides to go to Hollywood, California where he says he is going to become “the next gay Austrian superstar since Arnold Schwarzenegger”. With his assistant, Lutz (Gustaf Hammarsten), Bruno is willing to do anything to become huge star in America whether it is harassing celebrities like Harrison Ford or solicit sex from former presidential candidate Ron Paul to make a sex tape with.
There is no doubt about it that Bruno is one of the funniest films this year. To watch Cohan use his character’s sexuality to make several non-actors uncomfortable makes the movie more fun to watch. The reason this works, along with several pranks in the film, is the fact that anybody who watches Bruno is in on the joke.
Bruno has several scenes in which border the line between the R-rating and the NC-17 rating. It has certain amount of male frontal nudity, along with outrageous and indiscernible sex acts early in the movie. Most of these sexual acts are between Bruno and his lover, Diesel (Clifford Banagale) is so over-the-top is hard to believe that it is not realistic and achievable. Even most of the hardcore naked scores are censored via a black bar, there is one disturbing and shocking scene that includes a close-up shot of a man’s genitalia for a good solid 30 seconds that was 25 seconds too long.
Bruno is a testament to how far Cohan is willing to go anything to make moviegoers laugh as he is one of the bravest performers today. He goes into dangerous situation knowing that e might b harmed and he still does his performance without breaking character. The most dangerous stunt that seem to almost got him lynched is when he kisses a man in a UFC-like octagon ring in front of a bunch of good ole’ Alabama boys. If you want any further proof for Cohan’s tendency to push the envelope, see Cohan fight naked with naked co-star Ken Davitan in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
The movie is also proves that stupidity plays a bigger part in the pranks as people would stoop a new low if they are able to get in front of a camera. For example, Bruno is auditioning several parents who want to break into the show business with their infant son or daughter. When Bruno asks one mother if she is willing to give her 5-year old and 30 pound daughter liposuction to lose ten pounds, the mother says yes with a straight face.
Bruno is funnier and more outrageous then Borat as the film heightens the homoerotic tones for laughter, shows that Cohan is more than willing to push the envelope and prove that people are willing to say anything with a camera present.

“Bruno”: 4.5/5 STARS

‘Moon’ explores the loneliness of space with some twists

Posted in Reviews on July 10, 2009 by Steve Mesa

How would you pass the time if you were stuck on the moon for three years? This question is one of many questions that are answered in a film from director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie) and fresh from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Moon.
On the far side of the moon in the near future, Astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is about to complete a three-year contract with Lunar Industries to mine Earth’s primary source of energy, Helium-3 (HE-3). Sam has no way to communicate with anybody outside of the moon station lives in beside Gerty (Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey), a robot that express emotion via a computerized smiley face. As he has weeks before he can be reunited with his wife and young daughter, Sam starts to have frequent headaches, hallucination and suffer from a lack of focus. This causes him to have a near-fatal crash in a lunar rover. While recuperating at the base with some memory loss, he meets a younger and agitated version of himself. With a “support crew” on its way to the moon, Sam must figure a way to understand what is going on and why is he in the presence of his doppelganger.
Unlike this year’s first summer blockbuster, Star Trek, where space is bright and filled with a variety of humans and creatures, Moon is the opposite. In the film, space is all about loneliness and being surrounded by the claustrophobic confines of a space station. When it comes to going outside of the space station, it is dark and a grim-looking atmosphere as we watch Sam perform his daily duties in his space rover to harvest HE-3. The movie looks fantastic as Jones manage to assemble a top-notch effects team to recreate the moon’s surface and mining station by using incredible sets and impressively used CGI to the lunar environment.
There are many elements that infused into Moon that reminds us of past science fiction films. The dark and claustrophobic atmosphere in the film whether it is in the space station or the space rover is a very similar feeling that Alien has, except Moon has no alien stalking the crew. When he is not busy sending video messages to his wife and daughter, he interacts with Gerty. Gerty is also similar to the HAL 3000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, except Gerty does not have any homicidal tendencies. Instead, he kind of provides the comic relief in the film as a companion and foil to Sam.
At the pace of 1 hour and 37 minutes, the movie is slow in the actions that the main character does in the film. Being a character-focused feature, this is not really a bad thing as it explores all the emotions that the main character is expressing.
Aside from some unimportant side characters and Kevin Spacey’s voice, Moon is basically a one-man show for actor Sam Rockwell, who has played characters from with crazed goofiness (Choke) to crazed lethalness (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind). This role requires Rockwell to tone down any craziness and settle with a more subtle performance. In this film, he goes through a variety of different moods and sometimes at the same time as Bell’s doppelganger. Rockwell is a great actor as his performances requires him talking to emotionless voice or to himself. His performance manages to become a main highlight for the film and carrier of emotions for the audience.
Moon is an original, but sometimes, slow-paced film that uses great sets and CGI to create our lunar atmosphere. It also has actor Sam Rockwell in his best performance as the film becomes Rockwell’s acting showcase that requires a range of moods to express several emotions that he is feeling.

“Moon”: 4/5 STARS

Low Budget films have potential for breakout success

Posted in Movie News on July 8, 2009 by Steve Mesa

The summer box-office season is usually the time when Hollywood unleashes big-scale and big budget films such as Star Trek and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which predictably become huge hits.

Sometimes, however, a movie like The Hangover goes on to become a surprise success, despite a much smaller budget and less initial promotion. Here are a couple of films that might not be as highly anticipated as the new Harry Potter movie, but could become “sleeper hits.” More importantly, they could turn out to be good movies that might make a worthy alternative to the typical summer fare.

July 10

Moon

On the far side of the moon in the near future, Astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is about to complete a three-year contract with Lunar Industries to mine for Earth’s new alternative energy source. Sam has no way to communicate with anybody outside of the moon station other than Gerty (Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey), a robot that expresses emotion through a cartoon smiley face displayed on a computer screen.

As he has weeks before he can be reunited with his wife and young daughter, Sam starts to have frequent headaches and hallucinations and suffers from a lack of focus. This causes him to have a near-fatal crash in a lunar rover.

While recuperating at the base while suffering some memory loss, he meets a younger and agitated version of himself that turns out to be a clone.

July 17

(500) Days of Summer

When an unlucky greeting card copy writer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is suddenly dumped by his girlfriend (Zooey Deschanel), he looks back at the past 500 days when they were together to try to figure out what specific event led to their break up. Ultimately, his reflections on the great time they spent together lead him to fall in love with her all over again. (500) Days of Summer marks director Mark Webb’s first full length feature film after directing several music videos.

July 24

The Hurt Locker

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break), The Hurt Locker is a fictional tale inspired by real events in the life of journalist and screenwriter Mark Boal, who was with a special bomb unit in Iraq in the summer of 2004. In this movie, three members of the Army’s elite Explosive Ordinance Disposal squad (Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty) battle insurgents and each other as they disarm several roadside bombs on the streets of Baghdad. The movie features cameo appearances from Oscar-nominee Ralph Fiennes (The Reader), David Morse (“John Adams”), Evangeline Lily (“Lost”) and Guy Pearce (Memento), and was filmed in Amman, Jordan and the cast was provided with security from the Jordanian military at the hotels where cast and crew were staying.

July 31

Thirst

A priest (The Host’s Song Kang-Ho) volunteers for a secret vaccine development project intended to stop a deadly virus. The priest comes in contact with the virus and a blood transfusion is given to him. Unfortunately, the operation turns him into a vampire. Already a box office smash hit in Korea, Thirst was honored with the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

Aug. 14

Paper Heart

You may not have heard of Charlyene Li, but you might remember her from her role as Seth Rogen’s roommate’s girlfriend in Knocked Up. In Paper Heart, Li travels the country to make a documentary about love, a subject she is skeptical of. With her friend (and director) Nicolas Jasenovec, they talk to several friends and strangers on the diverse views of modern romance.

As soon as filming begins, Li begins to fall in love with actor Michael Cera and their relationship develops in front of the cameras. Paper Heart premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for its writers, Jasenovec and Li.

Taking Woodstock

Directed by Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) and inspired by a true story, Taking Woodstock tells the story of Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin) and his family, who played a pivotal role in the making of the famous Woodstock Festival. In 1969, Tiber moves from Greenwich Village, New York upstate to help run his parents’ motel in White Lake, New York. When the bank is about to foreclose on the motel, Elliot hears about a hippie festival getting a permit pulled from a neighboring town.

He convinces the producer to come to their town instead in order to attract guests to the motel and prevent the bank’s foreclosure on the family business. The festival that comes to his small hometown ends up attracting half a million people and becomes a defining moment for a generation.

Taking Woodstock has a cast that features Oscar-nominee Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), Eugene Levy (American Pie), Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) and Live Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine). It was nominated for the prestigious Palm D’Or award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Aug. 21

World’s Greatest Dad

Fresh from the 2009 Sundance Film Festival is writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait’s film about a man (Robin Williams) who dreamed of becoming a famous writer, but settles for being a high school poetry teacher. His son (Daryl Sabara) treats him with contempt and the fellow faculty member he is dating (Alexie Gilmore) is ashamed of their relationship.

In the wake of a freak accident, he is faced with the possibility of having all the fame, fortune and popularity he’d always dreamed of while living with how he got into that position.