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All reviews - Movies (42) - TV Shows (3) - Games (1)

Eating Out: All You Can Eat (2009) review

Posted : 6 years ago on 23 June 2012 06:00 (A review of Eating Out: All You Can Eat (2009))

"Eating Out: All You Can Eat" somewhat departs from the series' gay spin on the raunchy teen sex comedy in favor of semi-sincere romantic comedy -- after a crass and abysmal first stretch, that is. The theatrical blip made by this could-be-worse low-budgeter, opening in San Francisco and New York on Oct. 9, will be followed by more suitable/profitable ancillary biz.
The main attraction is "Eating" mainstay Rebekah Kochan as blonde, buxom L.A. "fag hag" and (hetero-)sexual carnivore Tiffani, who comes across more as an old-school drag queen than a biological female. (The thesp's comedic timing deserves a better showcase.) Viewers who make it past the dreadful opening funeral-parlor scenes get to see Tiffani's initially disastrous attempts to match new-kid-in-town Casey (Daniel Skelton) and local hunk Zack (Chris Salvatore). They're eventually righted in a decent equivalent to the first "Eating Out's" standout phone-sex setpiece. Scattered quotable quips aside, the script panders to its target aud via zero-body-fat casting and routine campy sensibility. But thesps and first-time feature helmer Glenn Gaylord modestly elevate matters when the material allows. Brief full-frontal views suggest MPAA rating isn't a goal.

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Enchanted review

Posted : 6 years ago on 23 June 2012 05:52 (A review of Enchanted)

In a fairly surprising move, Disney has come forward and shown it has an actual sense of humor about its patented brand of cheesy, clichéd, and relentless peppiness. Previously, self-reference has been limited to cross marketing between one Disney film and the next; but in Enchanted the message seems to be: Yeah, we know we've got our share of hokey archetypes, but it works for us. It's a refreshing attitude.

Giselle lives in the conflation of every single Disney trope ever, in an animated, magical fairy-tale kingdom full of songs of her one true love. The evil queen (who is also a wicked stepmother) can't have some upstart marry the prince and move in on her territory, so she banishes Giselle from animation to reality: New York, to be precise.

Now, Giselle is Amy Adams, and her hoop skirt wedding gown and sunshine disposition are purely preposterous in the real world. Giselle is pretty useless, but she still gets her prince: a dour divorce attorney named Robert who's obsessed with the practical (and who is played by Patrick Dempsey, not really stretching past his persona to play a modern-day Prince Charming). Robert is hapless when it comes to dealing with Giselle's wide-eyed naiveté, which generally plays like dementia in this context; even more befuddled are the other fairy tale creatures who follow Giselle through the rabbit hole. There's Prince Edward (James Marsden), come to save his princess; Nathanial (Timothy Spall), the queen's henchman; and a furry chipmunk sidekick.

As concepts go, Enchanted is pretty high up there, with its fairy-tale-princess-meets-modern-world, but in the end it's all Disney adventure, for better or worse. It may mock the overused story, but at the same time, Enchanted is no more realistic, or less moralistic, than the average fairy tale. But we also get the fun side of a Disney flick, with the sharp musical numbers (written by the tried and true duo of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz) that have the added hoot of being performed live in Central Park, or by New York's own mythical woodland creatures, namely rats and roaches. The animation side is also expectedly well done, and all of the drawn characters are dead ringers for the actors who portray them. It's a clever little idea that is lots of fun, even if the execution doesn't always live up to it.

Enchanted drags a bit when it begins to suffer from an identity crisis -- is it a live-action fairy tale for the kids who love Disney, or is it a gentle satire for the parents who are a little sick of the toons? It's somewhere in between, and unfortunately the cheesiness we accept in cartoons does not always play with real people, even if it comes with a cheeky attitude. The joke may start out cute, how ill-suited fairy princesses are for real life, but the gag feels a bit too real as Giselle's simpering simply does not end.

Fortunately, there's a lot to make Enchanted generally more fun than it is awkward. Dempsey mostly just has to look stern and pretty, but everyone else is clearly having fun. Adams does well with doe eyes and unflagging cheer; as the evil witch come to life, Susan Sarandon is gleefully evil, even if her costume looks part Party America clearance rack, part stripper wear. But surprisingly, it's Marsden who steals the show. His Prince Edward is simply preposterous, but he never breaks from or lessens the arrogant buffoonery, and his facial expressions and line delivery are stellar.

While it won't make many lists for movie of the year, Enchanted has two very important things going for it: It's got a great, clever concept, and it's family fun, released the day before Thanksgiving. Those two things combined pretty much assure it to be a hit, even if kids find real life dull compared to the fairy tale, and parents were hoping for a bit more satire.

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7 Khoon Maaf review

Posted : 6 years ago on 19 June 2012 05:33 (A review of 7 Khoon Maaf)

Once that you've decided on a killing,' sang Sting back in 1983, 'first you make a stone of your heart. And if you find that your hands are still willing, then you can turn a murder into art.'

Tragically, Priyanka Chopra is the kind of actress that painstakingly -- and painfully -- tries to spell out just how stony her heart is, something far better conveyed through deed rather than affected mannerism.

Eyes well up with hurt, thick lips quiver in pouty indignation, and subtlety is thrown to the hounds as the actress flounders, trapped inside a bewildering character significantly out of her league.

And while The Police song might have gone on about a slaughtering spree as easy as ABC, Vishal Bhardwaj [ Images ] takes it far too literally and gives us a film so linear, so simplistic in narrative, that it never quite manages to arouse interest. 7 Khoon Maaf may well be about a demented deity with a fetish for husband-killing, but -- incredible as it may seem -- it is a strikingly boring film.

More than that, in fact, this is a cute film. A very adult story told puzzlingly like a children's fable, this Ruskin Bond adaptation never quite shakes off the artificial affectedness and comes across only as a silly film masquerading as a smarter, cooler, deeper one. Its lines mostly overwritten with both cloying mawkishness as well as childish over-exposition, 7 Khoon Maaf is often just being precious -- while not really worth all that much.

It starts off promisingly enough, an investigation tray being wheeled into a government forensics lab -- the kind of place Bollywood never shows us. An expert opens up the box, looks at pictures of a presumably dead Priyanka, and a tear rolls down his cheek. Most of the rest of the film is photo-album driven flashback, involving him telling her story to his shrill, curious wife.

We see a young Priyanka Chopra at her father's funeral, and then are exposed, one-by-one, to a procession of her many fatally flawed grooms. A two-timing Trotskyite, a poetic pervert, an antiquated apothecary, a foolish officer, and a couple of men who can't act. The wedding-fetishist disposes of them all with consummate ease, while the master filmmaker loyally -- and unimaginatively -- serialises her process.

Bhardwaj's cinema has always been one of quirk and energy, the director whimsically bending the narrative and soaking it in such style that it's impossible to look away. This time, however, he seems content to let the film do the talking while he merely watches... there is no panache, no audacity, no trademark flourish. There is just an immaculate song set in Kashmir, and a fabulous one with Russian roots that deserved a better film around it.

There are inevitably a few very clever moments in the film -- a scene involving a white cat in the snow, for example, or that marvelous last line about broken spectacles -- but the characters populating the proceedings are much too exaggerated.

A muted dwarf as if from a Sherlock Holmes adventure; a tender writer with a violent sexual fetish; a Russian man of mystery who quotes Amitabh Bachchan... Bhardwaj's traditionally wonderful dialogue is more basic and less smart this time around, and resultantly the characters emerge considerably contrived and theatrically overdone.

It may be argued, of course, that the maker's intent was to create a macabre opera. Yet this is a highly irregular product, often flip-flopping the line between melodrama and dark comedy, not quite achieving either. And what opera could work if you cared not for its players?

Priyanka tries her best, but is simply not a good enough actress to justify being in a role this nuanced and demanding. It is a fantastic character, one deserving of a Sofia Loren or a Penelope Cruz or a Waheeda Rahman, and try as Ms Chopra might, she never comes close to being convincing. She turns hints into signals, happiness into hysterics, her every movement an act. She looks her best when sternly strutting into a hospital, occasionally gets a line right, and her acting highlight comes with her resigned yet in-control body language as she sees off Annu Kapoor to his car. Yet these are but a few swallows, and she's an actress unworthy of this season.

The strongest acting comes from Vivaan Shah, who plays the film's lovelorn narrator, and Harish Khanna, as a loyal butler who knows it all. Both men have interesting screen presence and relatively solid characters, but are one-note, and frequently drowned out by the buffoons around them.

As for the husbands, only two are any good: Aleksandr Dyachenko charms both heroine and audience, as does Irrfan Khan when reading poetry or drowning breathlessly into Priyanka's eyes. Annu Kapoor is let down by a character written into caricature, while Naseeruddin Shah behaves differently every time we see him. John Abraham, his biceps the size of Bandra, tries hard to be a rocker and fares only marginally better than Neil Nitin Mukesh, playing a furious armyman seemingly focussing on his moustache not falling off.

Yet the heartbreak is in watching Bhardwaj, that fantastic master director, make a bloated film that plods sluggishly along, a film that doesn't connect either emotionally or sensually.

I exit the theatre tiptoeing gingerly through treacley blood, past the fallen corpse of my expectations. That, ladies and gents, is Susanna's seventh casualty. And it's the only one that hurts.

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New York review

Posted : 6 years ago on 19 June 2012 05:25 (A review of New York)

Unlike some of YRF films, this time New York (the city) is the backdrop with a relevant reason. The movie has a little dose of friendship as its strength but it widely deals with racism and more importantly the inhuman treatment of innocent suspects in the detention centers of USA post 9/11 attack.

After Kabul Express, director Kabir Khan has come a long way and New York could well be his claim to fame. His second outing, yet again carries a very humane and sensitive plotline, well written by Aditya Chopra. The director finds the perfect balance between happy and conflicting moments to make New York a great watch, filled with riveting moments.

Although some sequences are over looked to avoid controversies, that such movies usually generate, the unbiased screenplay is convincingly written and executed grippingly that you find yourself glued to the screen guessing what could happen next and each time you are left surprised.

New York starts off brillianty with no beating-around-the-bush in introducing and establishing the relationship between the three friends, the director gets down to the point in no time. Both the light and the aggressive moments are shot extremely well. Post interval, the movie neither looses its pace nor its grip on the audience. The climax although not extraordinary is told very convincingly. Cinematography is first-rate. Editing and background score is brilliant. The dialogues are good. The music is very good too, among all you’ll find yourself humming to the tunes of Junoon.

It’s not just the story that makes this movie a great watch but also the first rate performances by its lead cast. John Abraham does well in a powerful role. Be it while playing an innocent family man or a man out to set the society right, its clear the John has put in a lot of effort into this.. Neil Nithin Mukesh is brilliant, from the beginning to the end, a very consistent performance.

Katrina Kaif is the surprise package and proves herself in a de-glam role. Undoubtedly, her career best performance. Irrfan Khan manages to amaze once again.

Overall, New York is a must watch – well scripted, well directed and add to it the stellar performances. One of Yashraj’s finest movies, in a long long time!

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Legion review

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 16 June 2012 08:30 (A review of Legion)

Scott Stewart's supernatural thriller Legion, scripted by Peter Schink, concerns a group of strangers in an out-of-the-way eatery who become the first line of defense when God, believing the human race is no longer worthy of Him, decides to end their existence. This motley crew's only spiritual ally is the archangel Michael, played by Paul Bettany. Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Charles S. Dutton, and Lucas Black co-star in the Screen Gems production.

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Constantine review

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 1 June 2012 05:56 (A review of Constantine)

An ordinary man with an extraordinary gift must save the planet from evil in this action-packed fantasy. Unknown to most people, the world is crowded with spirits both good and evil who walk among us in human guise. One of the few who can see these spirits is John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), but the responsibility of his vision is more than he can stand, and he tries to kill himself. Saved from death, Constantine must now atone for his actions by acting as a guardian in the middle ground between Paradise and Hell. Constantine also makes the acquaintance of Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz), a police detective who becomes aware of his unusual gift while looking into the death of her sister; he leads her into the unknown world of the spirits and soon circumstances demand that they join forces in a desperate bid to save humanity from evil. Constantine also features Tilda Swinton, Peter Stormare, and Gavin Rossdale, the latter best known as the lead singer of the rock group Bush. Michelle Monaghan (Made of Honor) was originally in the film (cast as a half-breed demon) but director Francis Lawrence cut her scenes.

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The Scorpion King (2002) review

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 1 June 2012 05:48 (A review of The Scorpion King (2002))

The Rock has his first starring role in this prequel to The Mummy films, which was developed while The Mummy Returns was still in production. The film takes place in ancient times, when a mighty swordsman, Memnon (Steven Brand, making his film debut) ruled over nearly all the known world. Memnon, a brutal tyrant, defeats his enemies in battle with the help of a beautiful sorceress, Cassandra (Kelly Hu), who can predict the future. The last of the "free tribes" form a fragile alliance to fight Memnon, and hire a trio of Akkadian assassins, led by Mathayus (pro wrestler The Rock, who made his big-screen debut as this character in The Mummy Returns), to kill the sorceress and thus remove Memnon's advantage. Balthazar (Michael Clarke Duncan of The Green Mile), the powerful leader of the Nubians, objects to hiring mercenaries, but the plan goes forward. The assassins are betrayed by Takmet (Peter Facinelli), the son of one of the tribal leaders, and Mathayus finds himself unable to kill Cassandra. Thanks to the unlikely machinations of Cassandra, and the aid of a horse thief, Arpid (Grant Heslov of True Lies), Mathayus escapes to the desert. He eventually abducts Cassandra, who explains that Memnon was holding her against her will. Mathayus thwarts Memnon's efforts to re-capture Cassandra, then uses his newfound sense of justice to convince the surviving tribal leaders to join forces again to defeat Memnon. The Scorpion King was directed by Chuck Russell. Jonathan Hales (Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones) was credited with the story, and WWF owner Vince McMahon has an executive producer credit. The film, which was shot in the U.S. (very unusual for a big action film), reportedly underwent extensive re-shoots when the first cut came in with a running time of 70 minutes.

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The Transporter (2002) review

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 1 June 2012 05:44 (A review of The Transporter (2002))

An outlaw finds his life becoming all the more dangerous when he turns against a gang of criminals in this action drama. Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is a former Special Forces officer who lives on the French Mediterranean and has a lucrative second career as a underworld courier for hire. Martin will deliver anything anywhere, but he has three iron-clad rules - once the plan is in motion it cannot be changed, neither he nor his customers are to ever use their real names, and under no circumstances will he open the package. Martin is hired to make a delivery to a wealthy but unscrupulous American known as Wall Street (Matt Schulze), but after taking possession of the package he realizes that whatever is inside happens to be alive. Breaking his own rule, Martin opens the bag to discover a beautiful Asian woman, Lai (Shu Qi), who is bound and gagged. Lai briefly escapes, but Martin captures her, and delivers her to Wall Street as promised. However, after being given a parcel to deliver by Wall Street, Martin finds out what Wall Street is up to - in partnership with Lai's father Mr. Kwai (Ric Young), Wall Street is part of a scheme to smuggle Asian illegal aliens into France. Martin's conscience gets the better of him, and he sets out to rescue Lai and put Wall Street and Mr. Kwai out of business; however, as if this wasn't enough of a challenge, Martin discovers a French detective, Tarconi (Francois Berleand) has gotten wind of his illegal business. The Transporter was the first English-language feature for Hong Kong-based director Corey Yuen, who along with directing a number of HK action flicks designed fight choreography for several American films.

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Scoop review

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 31 May 2012 12:31 (A review of Scoop)

Both laughs and thrills are on the masthead in this comedy drama about a would-be reporter written and directed by Woody Allen. Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) is an American journalism student who travels to England to visit friends. While in London, she attends a magic show where magician Sid "Splendini" Waterman (Woody Allen) brings her on-stage as part of a trick in which he makes her disappear. However, while waiting to be "de-materialized," she's visited by the ghost of a murdered reporter (Ian McShane), who passes along the scoop of the decade. The spirit claims that Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman), the wealthy and handsome son of a well-known aristocrat, is leading a double life as "the Tarot Card Killer," a serial murderer who has been terrifying the nation and eluding police. With the magician's help, Jane begins investigating the story and is able to piece together some incriminating evidence against Lyman. However, the more she learns, the more dangerous her investigation becomes -- especially when she falls into a romance with the suspected killer. Scoop was Woody Allen's second consecutive film with leading lady Scarlett Johansson, after the critically acclaimed Match Point; it was also Allen's second feature to be shot in Great Britain.

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Queer as Folk review

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 26 May 2012 12:17 (A review of Queer as Folk)

It's been five years since we were first introduced to the boys of Liberty Avenue. They were as gay as gay could be and wore their pride for the world to see. It's a world that reluctantly looked the other way as long as gays kept their place in the social order and didn't shake the boat. Like any opposed minority, it was only a matter of time before they rose up. They wanted the same rights every heterosexual couple enjoys, which has sparked a nationwide backlash of mammoth proportions. Queer as Folk was one of the pieces bringing us to where we are today. It was the middle finger to all those who said they were an abomination. It was the series that showed heterosexual America what gay life was really like, clearing aside the cluttered stereotypes and misconceptions. Yet it only reached those whose minds were open enough to receive it. It brought its series to a close Sunday night in a fitting tribute to this groundbreaking series.

Now there is little question that the show's edge had dulled over the years. What started out as visceral, in your face, man on man action that lent a voice to the issues and fears plaguing the gay community had, in recent seasons, grown into a weary soap opera, muzzled of its bite. In its final season, it slowly hoisted itself from the ground, padded itself off and tried to see this series out in the manner and respect it so richly deserved. So let's lay the groundwork. A bomb shattered the tranquil existence of our Folk several episodes back, critically injuring Michael, and shutting the doors on Babylon for good. This shocking episode was the series at its best, and this event would send shockwaves through the fate of our characters. Melanie and Lindsay choose to pick up sticks and high tail it to Canada where everyone is accepting and they don't have to fear for their children's lives.

What I want to know is why none of the characters told them to stay and fight? Change can happen, but only if people stand up and demand their rights in the face of their oppressors. What kind of message is that sending, that instead of being a pillar of strength for their children, they opt for the easy way out, jumping the border? Both Brian and Michael give their blessing even though Brian is given pause when he realizes Gus will grow without a father much like he did. Ted has a new ultra-possessive boyfriend, Tad, who looks eerily like Ted himself. And last but certainly not least; Brian and Justin are getting married. No, that was not a typo. Hell is actually making preparations to freeze over.

The most unabashed playboy of the Pittsburgh gay community is leaving the wanton life of drugs and casual sex in the city to plant himself in domestic bliss in the country. I can see the Vegas dealers right now setting odds on whether this blessed/cursed event will actually take place. Roll tape on this week's episode. Brian was totally neutered. Clients gave him a heaping load of crap, and he ate it with a smile. The juiciest of man candy gets served up at the stag party in a metallic thong, and he sends the banana hammock on its way. Justin even heavily prodded him for some serious stiff prodding to which Brian suggested they cuddle instead. This is the stuff coronary embolisms are made of. It was as if the engagement had enacted a complete frontal lobotomy on him. Like Superman pinned in some Bizzaro universe he was unable to escape from.

We find out Ted's new guy is a total box of fruit loops missing the prize. He flies off the handle in a blind, jealous rage at the stag party over nothing as his true colors come beaming through. Of course, constant companion Emmett swoops in to the rescue, though you're not quite sure where this consoling is going considering the characters tangled romantic past. Thankfully, they avoid the easy "Ted and Emmett happily ever after" and magically make Blake appear out of thin air to fill Teddy's emotional vacuum that he emptily said he wasn't going to stuff guys into anymore. Michael and Ben adopt Hunter in an ultra-cheesy scene at the diner. In an emotionally charged goodbye, Mel and Linds do slide out of Pittsburgh after all to freeze their butts off in Canada. No more hot lesbian sex action.

Enough with this goofy filler, onto the marriage of our Godless sodomities. Justin becomes increasingly disturbed by this Brian look alike and wants to know what alien has possessed his scintillating body. Brian confessed that he was just trying to be everything he thought Justin wanted. That triggers the similar compromise Justin made concerning forgoing his art career in New York for Brian. Suddenly, they realize that by getting married they'd be forcing each other into becoming something they weren't and neither could snuff out that person they loved so dearly.

The episode ends fairly depressingly for Mr. Kinney. His surrogate girlfriend heads to the land of hockey and maple leaves. Then his love flies away to crazy cabbies and talentless art critics. Though he is Brian once again, you get that nagging feeling his fate is to die alone as an over-the-hill club boy as Michael would say. Enter Michael to take Brian back to Babylon for a final trip down memory lane. So it ends as it began with Brian and Michael on the decimated floor at Babylon, dancing their cares away. As they dance, Brian's Babylon gets restored to its former glory as the glitter rains from the rafters and the thump-a-thump-a shakes through the glistening bodies on the dance floor. Everything is how it should be.

I have to respect the writers for not taking the weenie way out by sailing Brian and Justin off into the sunset and causing Mel and Linds to stay at the last second. In the end, they stayed true to the characters, and the series needed to leave us with that much more than a sappy ending. After five seasons, I can say I will miss Queer as Folk. It's writing had struggled in recent seasons, signaling that the series had run its course, but there was a lot of heart and good times wrapped up in these characters. Its hard not to think back to that hard hitting first season and remember the show for the potent punch that it once struck, rather than the watered down drama it evolved into.

This episode and this season as a whole was a fitting close to a once great television series. Queer as Folk highlighted the lifestyles and the issues surrounding the gay community in an honest and frank way we hadn't seen before. It got us talking and accepting that which was unknown. It created a new level of awareness and caused many to embrace acceptance rather than boarding the bandwagon of bigotry and hatred. For that, Queer as Folk was a tremendous success that will be greatly missed among the hetero saturated television universe. Let's hope Gale Harold, Hal Sparks and the rest of the talented crew continue their vibrant acting careers in other thought provoking films and television series

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