Monday, September 22, 2008

Opening Friday, September 19th

Ghost Town - 3 1/2 stars

Ghost Town is the best movie of the week, and the funniest movie I've seen in months. The Great Ricky Gervais stars as Bertram Pincus D.D.S. He hates everyone. When his patients start telling him about their kids, he quickly sticks cotton in their mouths to shut them up. When his co-worker brings cake for everyone, he sneaks out the door so he won't have to socialize with anyone.

While undergoing a routine medical procedure, he dies for about 7 minutes. When he leaves the hospital he is horrified to find that he can see and hear ghosts. The ghosts are excited because this is the first person that has ever been able to talk to them. So naturally they all start following him around, begging him to pass on messages to their surviving relatives.

Its a good idea to take the standard "I see dead people" idea and use it for comedy. Remember Whoopie Goldburg's character from Ghost? After she meets Sam (Patrick Swayze), she is harrased by ghosts all the time. When Sam next sees her, she says "What did you do to me? Did you tell every spook in the world about me? I've got ghosts coming into the shower! I can't get rid of them!" Imagine if that movie had been about Whoopie Goldburg instead of Patrick Swayze. You get the idea.

As fans of the British version of The Office or HBO's Extras can tell you, Ricky Gervais is a genius. There are so many scenes in this movie that would be boring and ordinary with anyone else in the role, but Gervais' deadpan delivery makes those scenes comedy gold. Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear are very good in this too. Go see it right away.

Lakeview Terrace - 3 stars

A racist police officer (Samuel L. Jackson) torments the interracial couple (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) that live next door. At first, he just intimidates them. Then he starts threatening them, and it escalates from there. This is not too original. Reminds me of Unlawful Entry of Pacific Heights. But it is done well enough, and its always fun to see Sam Jackson as a badass.

Transsiberian - 3 1/2 stars

Emily Mortimer and Woody Harrelson star as an American couple who are in China doing missionary work. When they are finished, they decide to take the Transsiberian railroad from Beijing to Moscow. While on the train they share a cabin with another couple (Eduardo Noriega and Kate Mara). There are hints that one of them may be a drug mule, and Ben Kingsley shows up as a Russian narcotics detective.

I don't want to say any more for fear of ruining the surprises. If this were a mainstream Hollywood film, the action would kick in within the first 15 minutes. But since this is an independant film by Brad Anderson (The Machinist), it takes its time. The first 45 minutes or so are rather uneventful. We get to know the characters and we even learn about how the track gauge is a few inches different in Russia. When they cross the border, they have to take the train cars off the wheels and put the correct gauge wheels on so they can continue into Russia.

Once the plot kicks in, it gets very suspenseful. There are a few twists that you won't see coming. This is a smart thriller that you won't soon forget.

Igor (not screened for critics, so it probably sucks)

John Cusack provides the voice for an evil scientist's hunchbacked assistant.

My Best Friend's Girl (not screened for critics, so it probably sucks)

Dane Cook, Kate Hudson, Jason Biggs. Need I say more?

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