29 April 2009

Coming Up Friday, May 1

When you look at the offerings at your local theater you will realize that none of the other studios expect to make any money by competing with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. With that being said, I have to admit that I already have low expectations for this film. The advertising thus far would lead one to believe that this film is the equivalent of last year's The Incredible Hulk, in the amount of money spent on effects, budget for actors, and (most importantly) writing and directing.

It does look like it is going to attempt to place Wolverine in some historical context. If it can pull this off as a plausible explanation of the origin of the character this film might possibly overcome the obvious reliance on special effects in place of the story. In this case, the film might be able to rise to the level of Ironman, rather than The Incredible Hulk.

Wolverine was always my favorite X-Men character when I was a kid. I just hope that it isn't ruined by opportunists trying to make a quick buck copying the proven success of recent superhero films, and especially the Batman franchise with it's focus on the explanation of a character's gritty origins.

I'm still holding out hope. I had a lot of reservations when they announced the first X-Men, for many of these same reasons... they're childhood icons, screen representations and actors won't be able to live up, etc. But they managed to put together a fairly good movie, and the actors met their roles reasonably well.

So, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. They don't have Brian Singer involved, which was part of what made the first two movies work, but they also don't have Brett Ratner, which is part of what made the third movie fail. I don't know what to expect with Gavin Hood, as I haven't seen either of the films he's directed previously, but I'm staying optimistic. But perhaps the wish is the father of the thought.
Read on...

28 April 2009

Listless Tuesdays: Top 5 School's Out Movies -- Lucas

Getting out of school is one of those few experiences shared across nearly all social divisions of American culture. Everyone knows that feeling of elation that comes with not being held down, with having the world open to you. Here are five movies I think best capture that spirit.

5. Adventureland

Yes, yes, it's still in theaters, but it is a perfect school's out movie... The characters are finally on their own in the world, and they realize that in some ways it sucks, but in a lot of ways they have freedom they lacked in school. Greater responsibility, but greater power, if you will.

4. Superbad

Superbad has a tried-and-true theme: nerds try to get laid before college. The standard trajectory is here: the boys have some comic mishaps, they find the right girls, they realize it's not all about the sex, then they get the girls. I could have put American Pie at the beginning of the paragraph and no one would have noticed. But Superbad does it funnier, dirtier, and sweeter.

3. Almost Famous

This one might be a stretch to call it a school's out movie, but William's journey with Stillwater is the ultimate tale of getting out of school and into the real world. He misses his own highschool graduation to be on tour with a rock band, writing an article for Rolling Stone. Along the way, he learns that the world isn't quite the place he thought it was, but the friendships he develops win out, and he gets his article.

2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Like Jay says, it's not exactly a "school's out for summer" movie like the rest, but it might as well be. The repeated scenes of Ben Stein's monotonous econ class make the fun capers Ferris pulls off seem even more exuberant, and the lesson of the movie, enjoy life and youth while you still have it, is the perfect lesson for a getting out of school movie.

1. American Graffiti

George Lucas used to be an indie director. For people like me, who grew up with Star Wars a movie my parents went to see when they were in highschool, that's hard to wrap my head around. Even more amazing to people of my generation... he used to be a good director. The plot has all the classic elements of a end-of-highschool movie, but they are all done well, and the actors, nearly all of whom went on to become famous, nail their parts. Harrison Ford, especially. A classic movie about how to deal with life out of school.
Read on...

Listless Tuesdays: Top 5 School's Out Movies: Urban

It’s about that time. May is here and another year of school is about to be in the books. With that in mind, here are my Top 5 School’s Out movies.

5. Say Anything

This one begins with the music. It ends with one of the most poignant and often copied scenes in film history (most directly in Night at the Roxbury). One of those films that defined relationships and what was cool in the greatest decade for teen films, the 80’s.

4. Can’t Hardly Wait

Jennifer Love Hewitt headlines this film that carries a barely there storyline with an ensemble cast. The point isn’t whether or not the guy and the girl end up together. The point, is the end of the year party. Here, unlike during school, all elements of high school society are combined and allowed to enact their love, hate, revenge, scoring fantasies. This one also contains a great soundtrack headlined by GNR’s “Paradise City”.

3. Superbad

Easily, the film with the best one liners in this list. This film is laugh out loud funny the entire way through, but also tells a great story about the meaning of moving on.

2. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

While technically, this isn’t a last day of school film, it might as well be. The themes, setting, and feeling are all the same. This film portrays the cleverness of the Western World in all of its glory. Ferris, triumphs against every adult in the film, not because of his strength or will, but because of his quick thinking and the willingness of others to go the extra mile to help him, based on the confidence that he has earned from his peers.

1. Dazed and Confused

Linklater’s classic is certainly rooted in a time and place, but it hasn’t stopped this film from receiving more attention as time passes. The characters are impossibly cool. The cars are even cooler. I don’t have room here to go on about the music. Suffice it to say that the feeling of school being over pervades every frame. That presence makes this film not only the best on this list, but among the greats in my book.

One thing that I noticed from making this list, is that in many of these films the last day of school is important not because of the future that is unlocked, but rather because of the impending “no later than” date that they provide. They also happen to have great soundtracks.

Read on...

25 April 2009


URBAN: A feature that some will love, some, being those that like Beyonce Knowles. Everyone else will be very frustrated because this film never answers the "why".
LUCAS: The first half is interesting, the rest is mostly garbage.

Obsessed features The Wire's Idris Elba as Derek, a high-powered executive, with a near-perfect marriage to Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles), a young son, and a beautiful new house. His storybook life is interrupted with the arrival of a new office assistant, Lisa (Ali Larter). Lisa becomes obsessed with Derek, and in a series of escalating incidents, tries to live out her fantasy of being with him.

I can't really describe what I feel as a disappointment, because I didn't expect much. On some level though, I did want there to be a backstory that explained why Ali Larter was so aggressive.

I agree, Ali Larter's character had no explanation whatsoever, and while that doesn't make or break a movie, in this case it broke it. The film set itself up as a psychological thriller. The first half builds up tension nicely, you wonder what Lisa's angle is, and you cringe as Derek just manages to extricate himself from sticky situations. Then it turns out she has no angle, she's just nuts. It could have been so much more. It was like the screenwriters watched Disclosure and wanted to re-make it, but forgot to give the crazy girl a motivation.

Really the two halves of the film could have worked if they had each been separated and expanded into separate movies. The first half, a psychological cat-and-mouse game, the last half, a pure horror movie.

More important that the story and the total lack of artistic expression here was the cultural phenomenon that we stumbled upon. Without even looking for it we scheduled ourselves to see the most popular movie of the weekend (I'm calling it now). The Soloist should have been called "Reek of Desperation, Seeking Oscar". Fighting a remake of Step up to the Streets with fists. What Obsessed had that those didn't was simply Beyonce.

People, especially particular demographics will turn out in droves to see Beyonce Knowles in a film. While it wasn't especially marketed as a vehicle for her, by the end, this film is all about Beyonce, showcasing her fierceness in a long fight scene against the homewrecking Larter. I was surprised at how violent this scene was. It was too bad that this theme, and playing up on these race relations wasn't more of the subject of the film.

Yes, they missed out on a chance to make intelligent and insightful commentary on race relations, but instead shied entirely away from the issue. The one moment I thought they were going to make a go for it was when Derek's co-worker is warning him to watch out for Lisa... but they just breezed on by.

Overall, I had to say that one of the primary reasons that I didn't care for this film was the anti-feminist story over-arching throughout the film. It is really unfair that one of the women is solely to blame, and that the other one is made to look foolish for continuing to support her male counterpart. This squaring-off of the females is an easy play and doesn't rely on any subtlety.

Ah yes, another opportunity for subtext that the film missed entirely. Instead of commenting on the different ways social contact can be perceived by different people, they make one perception (Derek's) absolutely right, and the other perception (Lisa's) absolutely wrong. It seemed at the beginning that they may play with the idea that Derek was leading Lisa on, but instead they turn Lisa into a parody of a jilted lover and play it for all it's worth. Ham-handed and boring.

LUCAS: Not recommended.
URBAN: Not Recommended.
Read on...

23 April 2009

Readers Respond -- Top 5 Films -- Michael David

"Readers Respond" will be an on-going, occasional feature where you, the reader, can write and comment on a top-5 list of your own.
He’s a guy’s guy and he doesn’t want to talk about his feelings. No matter how good you think you did something, he can always outdo you. He’s Michael David, winner of the 2008 Everett Oratory Contest, and all-around bad-ass. These are his five favorite films.

5. Boondock Saints

Willem Dafoe's character is awesome. I greatly enjoy the general theme of a vigilante acting in the name of virtue. The cinematography that involves first showing Dafoe trying to figure out what happened at a crime scene, and then showing the scene actually happening works really well.

4. The Big Lebowski

This film is funny on multiple levels. It also draws a lot of parallels into itself from the current events of the time.

3. Old School

I saw this movie in theaters with my brother and other Sigma Chi members on my first trip to Hillsdale College, and none of us could stop laughing for the entire time. That is one of my favorite memories, and this movie played a big part in it. Also, each character is hilarious in a different way.

2. The Matrix

This film is a real mind blower of a movie. When you combine the story with awesome fight scenes, music, and plot, it doesn’t get a lot better. Also, I love Keanu Reeves.

1. Anchorman

I have seen this movie at least 10 times and the jokes only get better with age. Plus, I really love Will Ferrell.
Read on...

22 April 2009

Coming Up Friday, April 24...

So, for this week, once again we have three choices.

A. The Soloist: Star power, and a tale of the untiring strength of the human heart.....I'm thinking this looks very much like a cross between The Pursuit of Happyness and Rainman.

B. Fighting: The equivalent of last week's Crank 2, an action film for guys that need GRATUITOUS AMOUNTS OF ENERGY!!!!!!

C. Obsessed: Stringer Bell. Seriously, even though this doesn't look that great, I loved Stringer Bell in The Wire. That's enough for me.

I guess the best bet for a film that we could recommend would be The Soloist, but I kind of want to see Obsessed because I would get to see Stringer Bell.

To be honest, I'm leaning toward Obsessed as well. I like Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx both, but the trailer for The Soloist didn't really do it for me. And, as much as the roles look they will give both leads the chance to show off their acting chops, I'm not in the mood for an overcoming-all-obstacles movie this week. I'd rather see sexy people be nasty to each other. And it's Stringer Bell.

Read on...

21 April 2009

Top 5 Films I'm Looking Forward To This Summer -- Lucas

This list does have some overlap with Jay's, but I tried to highlight a few other titles that I'm planning to see. The Honorable Mentions at the end may have made the list if Jay hadn't already brought them to your attention.

5. Funny People

I feel like I'm in Apatow overload. But there's no denying that when the man himself is in the director's chair, with material he wrote, he makes a great movie. Throughout the trailer, I tried to tell myself, "this is too much, it's just another one," but I laughed at the jokes, and I wanted to see more. Good trailer or good movie? We'll see.

4. The Brothers Bloom

This film makes it on my list solely on the strength of writer/director Rian Johnson's previous film, Brick. I've been looking forward to something new out of Johnson ever since I saw it last year. That said, the premise of the movie looks strong on its own: Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo as con men, swindling millionaires. There's something wonderfully thrilling about watching con men in movies. The best parts of Matchstick Men were the opening scenes with Nicholas Cage working his magic on clueless citizens. Here's hoping Johnson can live up.

3. Star Trek

People have called me a Trekkie before... I don't think I do the moniker justice, since I've never seen more than a few episodes of The Original Series, and I can't give a disertation on warp drive technolgy. But I do look forward to new Star Trek movies with childlike glee, so I have to put this on the list. I'm worried, however, by the trailers that say "this is not your father's Star Trek." Hopefully this is just a marketing phrase to bring in younger viewers, and not an indication that the core ideals of the Star Trek universe have been gutted in favor of flashy graphics and carefully choreographed fight scenes.

2. Year One

This is another film that got my attention solely because of the writer/director. Harold Ramis has had a huge impact on my life through his comedy. Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day... All are treasured childhood memories. But Ramis isn't the only thing! Jack Black and Michael Cera play the protagonist cavemen. And Judd Apatow produces. That's a lot of funny. Finally, Olivia Wilde as a caveman princess. All the pieces are there, let's hope the final product lives up to its pedigree.

1. Public Enemies

The trailer for Public Enemies that has been showing in theaters opens with a shot of the backs of three men in full suits, walking arm's length apart up a wide flight of stairs into a bank. The instant I saw that shot for the first time, I turned to my fellow movie-goers and said, "That film is going to be cool." Director Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral) knows how to put together an action movie, and a movie based on the life of John Dillinger is bound to be action-packed. With Mann at the helm, Johnnie Depp and Christian Bale starring, and a subject who still, for better or worse, inspires the imaginations of many Americans, this is bound to be a great ride.

Honorable Mention: Inglorious Basterds, G.I. Joe, Wolverine
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Top 5 Films I'm Looking Forward To This Summer -- Urban

Top 5 Movies that I am looking forward to seeing this summer.

5. Public Enemies

This film traces the life of John Dillinger on his bank robbing sprees before and after having escaped from prison. I guess that I look forward to this film for two reasons; First, my leftist side loves movies that glorify the Robin Hood type of character. Second, I love films like this where the end is not in doubt, and the telling of the story becomes the focus rather than the story itself. The gangster epic always makes a splash with fans. I just hope that this one doesn’t get lost among all of the other films with bigger budgets and crazier special effects.

4. Funny People

Judd Apatow has been on a great run as of late. Unfortunately, many of the people that were boosted to fame in his projects have been making and acting in films that look eerily similar the originals, but lack the same amount of depth and treatment. Thanks to a great in-theater marketing campaign by the Universal Pictures, I firmly believe that this film will be the next to make you laugh riotously while also achieving a great amount of feeling.

3. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

This film will be a great intersection of my life as a child and my current situation. When I was a kid my favorite way to spend time was playing with G. I. Joe action figures. Today I am in the Army. I had this idea that G.I. Joe would be a perfect vehicle to tell a story that was very relevant to the current terrorist situation to our country. After all, what else is Cobra but a multinational terrorist organization headed by a psycho with intentions on the world (Al Qaeda).

That being said, from seeing the previews I think that this film has the best chance of striking out.

2. Terminator Salvation

I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic films. This, looks to be one of the best in a long time. While I am not the biggest fan of the Terminator series, I have always wondered why John Conner was so special, what exactly does he do that would warrant that he be sought out and destroyed before he reaches puberty. I guess we will find out.

1. Inglourious Basterds

Jewish fantasy #1

Notably left off the list: Transformers, Wolverine

Read on...

17 April 2009

State of Play

Urban: Thrilling at times with lots of Twists and Turns, maybe one too many.
Lucas: A slowly-growing story of an investigation, that mutates too suddenly.

In State of Play, director Kevin Macdonald, goes behind the scenes of modern day Washington D.C., detailing the combination of government, big business, and press in order to tell a tale where the lies and twists are plentiful. Russell Crowe (Cal McAffrey), Ben Affleck (Rep. Stephen Collins), and Rachel McAdams (Della Frye) provide the star power, portraying the old school press, the government, and the new school of blogging press, respectively. When a link is found between two seemingly unrelated murders, the great machines of D.C. go into gear working with and against each other.

One of the marks of a great piece of art is that it can stand up to criticism from a variety of angles. This film can be taken apart on many levels. While the conflicts between government accountability, the press, and privatized security companies that thrive off of government contracts take center stage, the film could also be read as a variety of critiques on sub-conflicts that our society currently deals with. The issues that the press deals with; withholding the names of sources, catering to media corporations instead of local leadership, the fight for resources between newspaper reporters and new style bloggers, biting that hand that feeds you with government stories and sources, getting too close to the source, misplacing the role of story when a police case is still open, and most relevant- the decline of news in print form, are all felt quite strongly in this film.

As mentioned above, the film sent a strong message about the importance of the journalistic process. Crowe is a white knight battling against all those who would turn journalism into a purely money-gaining enterprise, nicely paralleling Affleck's fight to keep national defense in the hands of the government rather than a for-profit company. The theme of corrupted ideals is prevalent, which may be why the filmmakers opted for the ending they did.

While the characters are good, the intrigue of the story is really what drives this film. Despite this, it is hard to give too many details because of the nature of the many twists of the plot. The action is limited to only three short scenes. The rest of the film consists of conversations between the characters and shots of people driving too and from meetings. While it seems like this may get dreary, the combination of Crowe and McAdams actually is quite interesting and works to develop many of the themes found within the film. Affleck plays himself as always. In this one he’s a toolish Congresman from Pennsylvania who finds himself in a perilous position when his lover (even though he is married) is murdered and he realizes that his position on a powerful committee has been compromised.

The movie was about the chase, digging deeper and deeper into a story until the truth starts to take slow shape. One clue means a dozen new angles to check out, all but one of which lead nowhere. But that one new clue starts the process all over again. Finally, after many phone calls, much wheeling and dealing, and even some shooting and low-level extortion, it seems as though Crowe and McAdams have a handle on what really happened. Then, the movie decides to turn into an Agatha Christie novel, and a subtle clue turns the whole story on its head.

Crowe turned in a typically fine performace, playing the petulant child for his editor, the gruff mentor for McAdams, and the grown-apart old lover for Penn, all within a single character. Some of the minor characters, such as Jason Bateman's sleazeball PR guy, and the two reporters assigned to help Crowe with his investigation brought welcomed comic relief to a movie that was in danger of being over-dramaticized.

Artistically, the only real theme that rose to the surface was the repeated shots of helicopters flying above the city. We never get ‘feed’ from these choppers, we just see them flying. So, we never know whether they are surveillance by the government, a news team reporting, or even, some combination of the two. Nevertheless, director Macdonald does maintain a certain amount of art in the consistency with which he portrays his characters. One of the best shots in this vein occurs during the first meeting between Congressman Collins (Affleck) and his wife. Affleck is easily recognizable in a back hallway, but he is maintained in the shadows during the entire meeting with his wife. In fact, Affleck is filmed in the shadows, or briefly emerging from the shadows in nearly every scene in which he makes an appearance. Of course this is foreshadowing, but it also seems organic within the context of the film.

This film had a love affair with the city of Washington. As far as I could tell, all of the exterior shots were done on location, and as an area resident, it did a lot to enhance the movie's credibility. They didn't concentrate on the monuments that everyone and his high-school tour group has seen again and again, but rather on the monuments for the locals, such as Ben's Chili Bowl, the Americana Hotel, and even the Metro system. Kudos to the filmmakers for keeping the film authentic in that regard, and showing off some of what D.C. has to offer for non-tourists.

I feel that I must say this, even though it may ruin the film for some. The ending is garbage. It would have been much better and more satisfying (for the viewer) to end the film about 15 minutes earlier, before the big twist kicks in. To add to this, the images being shown over the credits really bring home the point about the importance of the newspaper and reporter as a democratic necessity. It just seems kind of out of place considering that this was a theme that arose, but certainly not the central issue of the film.

The last 15 minutes felt like a deus ex machina set up to allow Crowe to take his stand on the side of journalism rather than friendship. That's a fine ending, and it makes sense for Crowe's character, but it wasn't supported by the rest of the plot. Even Affleck's character says that he thought Crowe's initial theory on the murder was correct. Drop the last 15 minutes, and you lose Crowe's life choice, but gain a coherent movie.

Urban: Recommended, mainly because of the other weak offerings at the cinema this weekend.
Lucas: Recommended, for D.C. residents, and those don't mind non sequitur endings.
Read on...

15 April 2009


CARL: Smart, emotionally honest, and funny.
JAY: Smart, serious, funny (but not as funny as you would be led to think by watching the previews, basically, a marketing problem)

Adventureland is written and directed by Greg Motolla, who got his street cred directing Superbad. The film follows James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) during the summer of 1987, when a change in financial situations forces him to forego his post-grad tour of Europe to work at a local amusement park. The film's main focus is on Brennan as he develops a romance with Emily Lewin (Kristen Stewart). Complicating things are a ditzy but 80s-sexy co-worker called "Lisa P" (Margarita Levieva) who has eyes for Brennan, and Emily's on again/off again affair with a married ride repairman, the cool-as-hell Connell (Ryan Reynolds).

Adventureland feels autobiographical, and apparently Greg Mottola did work at Adventureland amusement park. This contributes to the feel of authenticity surrounding the work-a-day life of carnies. A fellow movie-goer, who had worked many summers at an amusement park, said it was like having flashbacks. The authenticity doesn't end there, either. The film's relationships stand out.

Brennan and Emily have a romance that actually develops, as he sheds his shyness and insecurity, and she opens up to a relationship that is emotional as well as physical. One of my favorite relationships, however, is the friendship between Brennan and Connell. They both throw each other under the bus, Connell by convincing Brennan into going out with Lisa P, and Brennan by spilling the beans on Connell's affair with Em. As Brennan says goodbye to Connell at the end, they both know that there was no malice, and each was living his life the best way he knew how: Connell by being a womanizer, and Brennan by being an optimist.

Personally, I loved the way relationships were portrayed here. Rarely do viewers get to see the strong feelings of early adulthood without the compulsory look down from the perspective of adulthood scorn. In fact, the parents barely register in this film, and when they do we see them for who they are, people living with the results of the decisions they made when they were in there early 20’s. It isn't ideal, but it is a reality for most people.

I agree with your perspective on Connell, Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder) provides a bad-guy performance with subtlety that I didn’t think he was capable of. I would say that both of them left as friends, even though both portrayed the other in a very negative way.

For me though, the picture was made by its artistic impressions more than simply dialogue. Watch the 4th of July scene, right after Brennan says that he celebrates Bastille Day. The shot perfectly breaks up the ridiculous prose with concrete, sparkle and fade Americana. It is the metaphorical hole being shot in his dream of spending a summer in Europe, but also demonstrating that these new plans have a benefit of their own.

I also was impressed by the scene which occurs when Brennan confronts Lisa P. about spreading the gossip of Em and Van Wilder. All of the impressions he projected upon her because of her beauty all go out the window once Amadeus comes in over the loudspeakers and she starts dancing.

All in all, the ending was weak and the first 10-15 minutes really didn't catch me at all, but by the end I was enamored with this film, probably the best I have seen this year so far. It had great music, funny jokes (satin lives) great characterization, and the story was told extremely well. My only serious gripe was that the soundtrack (which was amazing) wasn't featured more prominently.

Ahh, the soundtrack. I had been listening to The Velvet Underground, as well as some of Lou Reed's solo work, the same day, just before I saw the film. So, to hear "Pale Blue Eyes" featured so prominently felt like my mind was playing tricks on me. The music drew distinct lines in the movie. Brennan and Em listen to the Cure, Lou Reed, and other emotionally honest and intelligently written music, while at work they suffer through an endless barrage of pop songs, worst of all Falco. Connell recognizes Brennan's superior musical tastes, wants to be in the "cool crowd", but in the end Brennan gets his one instant of superiority over Connell, when he corrects Connell's mis-naming of a Lou Reed song, whom Connel claims to have jammed with.

I don't think the soundtrack was too minimized, but I've been arguing for a while that movies should get away from the Garden State ethos of making the whole movie one gigantic music video.

The beginning was weak, I agree. There was nothing to make you feel sympathetic about this idiot kid who can't get laid because he's too neurotic, and the ex-girlfriend never had any screen-time and never made an emotional impact.

But as for the ending, other than cutting off the 30-second scene inside Em's apartment, it was the best way they could have ended it. Doing a Good Will Hunting ending, with Brennan finally having the stones to go see the girl, would not have told the full story, because both sides of this relationship are messed up. To have closure, you need both of them in the same place, both deciding to be together.

I agree that the ending was storyboarded well. By that I mean that all of the characters were in the right places at the right times. The failure that I saw was including the foreplay and portraying the certainty of the near future in the dialogue. Certainly, the dialogue remained consistent with the characterization, but I'm not sure that the situation did.

Besides the beginning and the very end this is a strong film.

CARL: Recommended.
JAY: Recommended.
Read on...

14 April 2009

Listless Tuedays -- Top 5 TV Shows That Should Have Ended With Movies -- Urban

When coming up with this list I was looking for television shows that didn’t get to and the way that they should have, along with stories that people would be interested in watching for two more hours.

5. Deadwood
There were talks that this series should be turned into a movie on HBO. Since HBO was its home, it wouldn’t take too much to drum up a movie. The last two years have had a great run of a variety of types of westerns. The characters are already timeless. Deadwood would go fit right in with those in exploring contemporary themes through the classic genre. This would be some great content to be shaped by a big picture director.

4. Band of Brothers
I know that this is technically a miniseries, but the show ended on a bit of a down note despite the Allied victory. There were several winding down episodes and the last two didn’t contain any combat action. Despite the slowdown and what the seeming jubilation at the prospects of victory of the Germans, cracks were beginning to show. The men of Easy Company had been away from home for a long time. Their nerves and confidence were never more at odds with one another. I would love a movie that would follow the stories of all the characters from the show. It would include action, following those who stayed in the military through the war in Korea and on. It would also include pathos; the stories of those who left the military, and how they dealt with/succeeded because of their experiences in the war.

3. Alias
Jennifer Garner has made the transition into a movie star. Why not let her return to the TV role that made her marketable? This show, from ABC was a great vehicle for her, showing off her vast array of kicks and wigs. It is quite unfortunate that her recent mode has more to do with motherhood when her fame is based on sex and karate.

2. Coach
This will show you my tastes, but Coach is a show that lasted a while, but always contained a unifying focus. Craig T. Nelson managed to keep the same staff locked in around him and to get the girl in the end. He won a national championship in college football, but never got that shot at the Super Bowl Ring. Sports movies have been green lighted from a lot less.

1. Arrested Development
The show’s finale did a good job of tying up a lot of loose ends, but you know that the story could never be finished with that group of characters. I could see Michael trying to work for another company and being succesful, but he will always have to carry his big brother, his sister, her husband, and the rest of the Bluth crew. It would also be great to watch George Michael go to college. In a great twist of fate he could become popular as a by-accident dealer of his Uncle Oscar's famous "afternoon delight".
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Bio -- Jay Urban

Jay Urban is an officer in the United States Army (1LT). He is stationed at Fort Riley and lives in Manhattan, Kansas. He holds a BA from Hillsdale College in Michigan and is working towards a Master’s Degree from Central Michigan University. He wants people to think of him as a second Woody Allen, but his inner life is undoubtedly more transgressive, kind of Philip Roth, but less poetic. Read about him and philosophical Pragmatism at www.appliedpragmatism.blogspot.com.
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Bio -- Carl Lucas

Carl Lucas is a student currently living in Washington, DC. He has a BA from Hillsdale College, and expects a JD in May 2010. He is caught up in the idea that life can be important and meaningful if he can turn it into a narrative, but has a sneaking suspicion that it may take a bit more. He enjoys puns, good beer, and good movies.
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13 April 2009


The mission of Cinema Comment is to critically review film from every level, at the highest level that we are capable of attaining. The best criticism is done holistically, taking into account theory, politics, and economics that shape the work. It is our goal, as critics, to point out the art that succeeds and describe why it does so. Likewise, it is also our job to do the same with what fails. Finally, criticism is not only an act of taking apart. The act, in its sum, should posit something.

Cinema Comment will bring you a review of a new feature-length on Friday (or Saturday morning), and secondary content, including top-5 lists, retrospectives, and reviews of non-feature-length films on Tuesdays.
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