Movie Reviews

NB: The movies I have reviewed most recently during August and September 2009 have been highlighted.

Monthly Summaries:

You can click on any of the links below for a more detailed summary or review of the movie. 🙂

Drama:

  • Cat City (2009) – described as “a tale of infidelity, deceit, greed, and murder”, it is a fairly slow-moving thriller set in Palm Springs and starring Julian Sands and Rebecca Pidgeon
  • December Boys (2007) – beautiful coming of age story set in Australia, starring Daniel Radcliffe as one of four orphaned boys
  • Eastern Promises (2007) – crime drama about the Russian mafia in London
  • Gone Baby Gone (2007) – crime story in a Boston neighbourhood
  • Grace is Gone (2007) – story of a father who has to tell his two young daughters that their mother has died while fighting in Iraq
  • He was a Quiet Man (2007) a totally cr4p movie about a man who is so unhappy with his work and the rest of his life that he wants to blow everyone up – utter drivel
  • Into the Wild (2007) – documentary of a young American who travels into the wilderness of Alaska
  • Lost (2004) – action movie about a man who gets lost in the Nevada desert after robbing a bank
  • Melinda and Melinda (2005) – an annoyingly pretentious and hyperactively self-analytical Woody Allen movie
  • Montana Sky (2007) – a modern-day Western revolving around a trio of women who inherit a farm in Montana
  • Reign over me (2007) – drama with Adam Sandler
  • River Queen (2005) – New Zealand movie about a young woman who travels up a river to live with a tribe of Maori
  • The Bucket List (2007) – two old men (Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) are diagnosed with terminal cancer and decide to work their way through a list of things they’ve always wanted to do before they ‘kick the bucket’
  • The Jane Austen Book Club (2007) – revolves around a book club that meets once a month over a period of six months to discuss the 6 Jane Austen novels
  • The Savages (2007) – comedy-drama about a brother and a sister who are forced to take care of their estranged elderly father after he develops senile dementia
  • The Willow Tree (2005) – Iranian movie set in Tehran, about a university professor who loses his eyesight
  • Tornado and the Kalahari Horse Whisperer (2008) – South African movie shot on location in the Kalahari desert about the healing journey undertaken by a horse and a troubled young man

Love and Romance:

  • Ask the Dust (2006) – a slow-paced love-hate story about a wannabe writer (Colin Farrell) who comes to Los Angeles during the Great Depression, and who falls in love with a Mexican waitress (Selma Hayek)
  • Atonement (2007) – a romantic drama set in the Second World War
  • Away from her (2006) – love story about a man whose wife develops Alzheimer’s
  • Death Defying Acts (2008) – romantic thriller based on a short period of the life of escape artist Harry Houdini who offers a prize for whoever can reveal to him his dying mother’s last words
  • Griffin and Phoenix (2006) – moving and uplifting love story about two people, both dying of cancer, who fall in love and discover life together
  • My Mom’s New Boyfriend (2008) – a rollicking romantic comedy starring ditzy goofball Meg Ryan and hunky Latin lover Antonio Banderas as the two romantic leads
  • New in Town (2009) – a fun, easily watchable romantic comedy starring Renée Zellweger as a high-powered and ambitious business executive sent out to the sticks of Minnesota, where she sets out to rescue a food processing plant and falls in love with Ted Mitchell (played by Harry Connick Jr.)
  • No Reservations (2007) – romantic comedy about chefs in a restaurant
  • Oyster Farmer (2004) – a very odd and slow-moving Australian romantic comedy/drama
  • Random Hearts (1999) – romantic movie with Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas
  • Silk (2007) – a dreadfully boring movie about a French silkworm smuggler

Action:

  • Appaloosa (2008) – a good, watchable Western about two lawmen who come to the assistance of a small Western town
  • 7 Seconds (2005) – a dreadful action film
  • Fast and Furious (2009) – Vin Diesel returns in the role of Dominic Toretto, a street racer out to avenge the murder of his girlfriend; expect high-octane action sequences featuring high-speed cars and hot babes 🙂
  • Lasko: Death Train (2006) – an action movie made for German television in 2006 about a train that is hijacked en route to Lourdes; it stars Arnold Vosloo as the big baddy who releases a fatal virus, and Mathis Landwehr as the reluctant hero who saves everyone on board amidst spectacular explosions
  • Mercenary for Justice (2006) – appalling action movie by Steven Seagal
  • Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009) – the second live-action film based on the Street Fighter series of video games, it describes Chun-Li’s quest for justice
  • Tango and Cash (1989) – good old-fashioned action hero movie starring Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell
  • The Mummy Returns (2001) – sequel to The Mummy, adventure story about archeologists who discover a magical bracelet

Sci-Fi and Fantasy:

  • Beowulf (2007) – motion-capture action movie set in ancient Denmark about a hero who battles three monsters
  • Bedtime Stories (2009) – cute family-fantasy-comedy about a wannabe hotel manager and two little kids who make up stories that come true – well, partly true
  • Bicentennial Man (1999) – an unusual android becomes more and more human
  • Doomsday (2008) – graphically violent “futuristic action thriller where a team of people work to prevent a disaster threatening the future of the human race”
  • Gene Generation (2009) – a dreadful, incomprehensible, badly written and badly acted sci-fi movie about genetics gone wrong… or something
  • George and the Dragon (2004) – a creative re-telling of the famous legend of Saint George killing the dragon
  • Hitman (2007) – based on a video-game about Agent 47
  • I am Legend (2007) – frightening sci-fi horror set in Manhattan in 2012
  • Jumper (2008) -fast-paced sci-fi action film about the battle between the ‘jumpers’ (people who can teleport) and the ‘Paladins’ (those who hunt them down)
  • Max Payne: Harder Cut (2008) – excessively violent and revenge-driven film noir based on a video game
  • Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – a dark sort of fairytale (in Spanish) about a little girl who discovers a parallel world
  • Race to Witch Mountain (2009) – thoroughly enjoyable family movie about two young aliens who arrive on earth, and the chaos they inadvertently cause
  • Stardust (2007) – enjoyable romantic fantasy adventure
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) – a fantasy drama and love story about a man who is born an old man, and who grows younger as he ages
  • The Dark is Rising (2007) – a children’s fantasy story
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) – an alien who arrives on Earth has to decide whether humankind can change for the better, or whether he must wipe out the human race entirely
  • The Golden Compass (2007) – first instalment of the fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) – children’s fantasy adventure about three kids in a dilapidated house in the middle of a forest, who discover a mysterious leatherbound book called Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You
  • The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2008) – beautiful, feel-good movie set in Scotland during World War II about a little boy who discovers a water horse (which may or may not be the Loch Ness Monster)
  • Underworld (2003) – fantasy-horror-action movie about vampires and werewolves who are at each other’s throats – excuse the pun 🙂
  • Underworld: Evolution (2006) – sequel to ‘Underworld’
  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009) – prequel to ‘Underworld’ and ‘Underworld: Evolution’, focusing on the war between the vampires and the lycans
  • WarGames: The Dead Code (2008) – sequel to 1983 suspense action film WarGames

Animated:

  • Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (2008) – a badly acted and appallingly animated fantasy movie about yet another battle between good and evil – avoid!
  • Enchanted (2007) – Walt disney fairytale rewritten for the 21st century
  • Ratatouille (2007) – Pixar-animated motion picture  about a cute rat with a hyper-developed sense of smell who becomes a chef in Paris

Historical / Documentary / Current Affairs:

  • Becoming Jane (2007) – a fictionalised period piece of the early life of Jane Austen
  • Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) – very good biographical drama about the Texan congressman who persuaded the US government to supply the Mujahideen resistance in Afghanistan with weapons to get the Soviets out of their country
  • Defiance (2008) – a well-made and moving war movie set in Nazi-occupied Belarus from 1940 to 1944, based on the true story of the Bielsky brothers
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) covers the events leading up to the arrival and defeat of the Spanish Armada off the shores of England, when Elizabeth I was still Queen of England
  • Flash of Genius (2008) – an inspirational David-and-Goliath story of Robert Kearns, an inventor, who takes on the Ford Motor Company after they steal his design for an intermittent wiper mechanism
  • Flood (2007) – a truly nail-biting disaster movie set in Scotland and England, about the devastating flooding of central London caused by a storm surge traveling up the Thames Estuary at spring tide; it stars Tom Courtenay, Robert Carlyle and Jessalyn Gilsig as the three main protagonists
  • In the Valley of Elah (2007) – anti-war film about the war in Iraq
  • Rendition (2007) – a stomach-turning but compelling movie about the practice of extraordinary rendition, whereby a terrorist suspect is transferred into another country that is known to use and condone torture to extract information from suspects
  • The 11th Hour (2007) – documentary about the damage caused by humans to the Earth
  • The International (2009) – a fast-paced action thriller set in the high-powered and corrupt world of global finance and politics, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts
  • The Lives of Others (2006) – a dark and subtle thriller set in East Berlin during the 1980s, at a time when the Stasi was monitoring the activities of ‘potential subversives’
  • The Secret (2006) – lengthy infomercial plugging the book The Secret about the power of affirmation and the law of attraction

Comedy:

  • Charlie Bartlett (2007) – comedy set in high school
  • Georgia Rule (2007) – fairly enjoyable comedy drama
  • Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) – British comedy, set in London, about “an irrepressibly cheerful and infinitely optimistic primary school teacher [Pauline ‘Poppy’ Cross] and her relationships with those around her”
  • Hey, Hey, It’s Esther Blueburger (2008) – an Australian independent movie about the coming-of-age of a 13-year-old Jewish girl
  • Juno (2007) – a comedy-drama about a decidedly whacky schoolgirl who finds out she is pregnant and has to decide whether to keep the baby, have an abortion or give it up for adoption
  • Martian Child (2007) – a feel-good comedy drama based on a true story about a widower who adopts a young boy who claims he is from Mars
  • Millions (2004) – an uplifting, fun, tender, compassionate movie about two young boys who find a bag full of money and have to decide what to do with it
  • Scoop (2006) – a romantic comedy / murder mystery set in England, which was unfortunately written and directed by Woody Allen, and (urgh) even stars him at his most annoying and whiny
  • Starter for Ten (2007) – entertaining coming of age story set in England in 1985, revolving around the life of a young man in his first year at university
  • Ten Items or Less (2006) – a quirkily humorous independent film about an actor (Morgan Freeman) who befriends a convenience store cashier (Paz Vega) and helps her to prepare for an interview
  • The Darjeeling Limited (2007) – odd drama-comedy of three brothers travelling through India
  • The Darwin Awards (2006) – occasionally slapstick comedy pairing up Joseph Fiennes and Winona Ryder as two insurance investigators
  • The Deal (2009) – a satire (with elements of romantic comedy thrown in) about the movie industry of Hollywood, starring William H Macy and Meg Ryan
  • Two Days in Paris (2007) – bilingual (English and French) romantic comedy set in Paris

12 thoughts on “Movie Reviews

  1. Hi Amy-Lynn,

    I’m delighted you’ve found this section!

    For about half of last year, I’d been really good at blogging about each DVD we’d watched, but then had so much other more important work and “stuff” to do, that I didn’t make time for writing reviews any more. It’s a pity, because I really enjoyed doing it.

    I also found that watching a DVD with the intention of writing about it made me more alert. I wasn’t just vegging out on the couch, letting myself be swept up by the movie.

    Apart from that, I felt it was developing into a useful database of the movies we had already seen. Now, when we walk into the DVD store, we don’t always remember whether we’d seen something or not. Or when friends ask, “So, can you recommend a good movie”, it’s more difficult to remember.

    I wonder if that’s a sign of ageing. I sure hope not.

  2. Nifty section…I am so grateful that folks can write about feelings and beauty and stuff I am lately going to the drive in here in Hazard and just saw the ICE Age Dawn of Dinosaur Daniel is 12 I am getting to be so pedestrain My dear wife laughs at how tame and so on that I have become…oh well and all did the book card et arrive yet>

    • Hi Bobz – did you say you went to the drive-in? You have those? Awesome! Our last surviving drive-in here in Cape Town closed many years ago, I’d only been twice or so, and it was a really unforgettable cultural experience!

      And no, no mail has arrived. I so hate our post office. A bunch of thieves.

    • Hi Steve – welcome to my blog! And yes, I do enjoy watching DVDs. We don’t have a television, because there’s too much rubbish on it. 🙂 But I also read whenever I get a chance.

      And I used to love listening to radio dramas, those old-fashioned ones, you know? In South Africa, we used to have a radio station called Springbok Radio, which shut down at the end of 1985, on which they broadcast all kinds of plays. The station has recently been “resurrected” and now broadcasts via audio-streaming on the internet here. Great to hear the old voices again. 🙂 Very nostalgic. Give it a listen if you’re curious.

  3. You must, must go & see DISTRICT 9. SciFi movie set in Joburg; directed & acted by South Africans. An SF movie with a difference: the aliens do not land on the White House lawn, guns blazing …. a refreshing change. Their spaceship has broken down and they are stranded over Joburg – things deteriorate from thereon in. Humans are portrayed as being untrustworthy, devious,violent, greedy, stupid, violent, amoral, unwelcoming, and did I mention violent ? No wonder we never get to see aliens, despite evidence of crop circles and strange objects in our skies: they take one look at the human race and depart, as fast as possible!

  4. Interesting. I’ll have to come back and read some of these. You should add a book review tab as well. But, that’s easy for me to say, it is a time-consuming thing to do. And, speaking of books, what a great accomplishment that you’ve published one as well. And all about things you love. Wonderful.

    • Hello Miki – wow, what a challenge! I would love to write book reviews as well, but quite honestly, the last few months have been so busy with all the Defence Reserves events that I find it difficult to make the time to read books; there’s sooo many photos to go through, and still numerous articles to write or finish writing, so reading anything longer than a blog post or a newspaper article has slipped right down the list. Never mind the need to earn a penny or two with the thesis editing and proofreading I do as my real job! 🙂 But thank you for the kind words and the inspiration, muuuuch appreciated.

  5. Hey there baby pigs and the word foefieslide – so homesickness creeps into the day!
    Will have to come back to this site to spend a moment or two.
    Here is Australia there is a Karoo too – the road to Broken Hill (the centre of the country more or less) is a lot like the Karoo.
    I visited an elephant park about forty years ago and remember it clearly – the colonial homestead and the incredible animals.
    Not so long ago, had an amazing view of a huge colony of elephants coming in to a watering hole at the Pilanesburg.
    Oh for a life where pigs and foefie slides anbd elephants are the order of the day!

    • Hello adminsmit, welcome to my blog and thank you for leaving a comment. 🙂

      Great to hear of your memories of visiting South Africa – yes, the wildlife is pretty amazing here, as it is in Australia too. And elephants are one of my favourite animals… there’s a quiet, centred calmness about them, a feeling of agelessness and wisdom. Have you read my post about the Elephant Sanctuary at The Crags, on the Garden Route?

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