Friday, October 31, 2008

Opening in SLC theaters today

Zack and Miri Make a Porno - 3 stars

The latest from Kevin Smith (Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). Zack and Miri are roommates who can't pay their rent. Zack comes up with the idea to make a porno as a way to make money. He talks Miri into it and recruits his friends, including Jason Mewes (Jay of Jay and Silent Bob) and Craig Robinson (The Office) to help make the movie.

Anyone who knows the story of how Kevin Smith made Clerks will recognize that this story is partly taken from his own experiences. He didn't make a porno, but he did make a movie with help from his friends, filmed at the Quick Stop he worked at (after hours), a hocky stick used to hold the boom mic, ect. Its also nice to see Jason Mewes in a role other than Jay. Unfortunately, he should probably stick to playing Jay, since he isn't as entertaining in this movie as he usually is.

The movie is pretty raunchy, so don't go if you're easily offended. Its not really pornographic, but it does have a lot of nudity, sexual situations, and language. But if you've seen the donkey show in Clerks II, you shouldn't really be surprised. Its not my favorite Kevin Smith movie, but it is very funny. And there are a couple of great cameos at the high school reunion. One of the actors is featured in the trailer (Justin Long), but the other one is a really good surprise.

Changeling - 2 1/2 stars

Its 1928. A single mother (Angeline Jolie) goes to work and when she comes home, her young son is missing. She calls the police who tell her they can't do anything until he has been missing for at least 24 hours. Eventually they find him and when mother and son are reunited, she says "That isn't my son." The police don't want to admit they made a mistake, so they convince her that she is just in shock, and he has been missing for a few months so obviously he has changed a bit.

It would have been interesting if the movie kept it a mystery whether the boy was really her son or not. But we know from the start that it isn't her son. We know for sure when she gets him home and proves that he isn't her son. But the police won't listen. They even send a doctor to the house to examine him, but the doctor is only there to convince the mother that the boy is her son. Eventually another story starts to develop regarding a man who kidnapped and killed a bunch of boys at his ranch.

The movie is based on real events called the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders. Director Clint Eastwood leaves out a few details of the murders, but the movie gets most of it right (as far as I can tell from wikipedia). The movie is pretty depressing and a good half hour too long (running time is 2 hours 20 minutes), so be prepared.

By the way, the two best performances are from John Malkovich (as an evangelical minister) and Jason Butler Harner (as the murderer). Every scene with either of them is very good.

What Just Happened - 2 1/2 stars

Art Linson is a hollywood producer. His credits include Into the Wild, Fight Club and The Untouchables. His book What Just Happened? tells some behind the scenes stories of some of his movies, including Alec Baldwin refusing to shave his beard for The Edge and the studio's reaction to the first screening of Fight Club.

The movie version of the book really has very little to do with the book. Robert DeNiro plays a Hollywood producer named Ben, who is based on Art Linson. The movie is entirely fictional, although at least one story is inspired by a story in the book. In the movie, Bruce Willis is cast as the leading man of a movie and he shows up overweight and with a big, bushy beard. This is obviously inspired by the Alec Baldwin story. There is also an action movie that test screens, and at the end of the movie the hero's dog is shot. The test audience hates it, and the studio chief demands that the ending be changed.

The movie works best when it is focusing on the Hollywood stuff. Stanley Tucci plays an aspiring screenwriter, John Turturro plays Bruce Willis' agent, and Catherine Keener plays a studio chief. The more you know about how movies are made, or the more interested you are in how childish celebrities can be, the more you will enjoy this movie.

RocknRolla - 3 stars

I've never seen Guy Ritchie's previous movies about British gangsters (Snatch; Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels), but I enjoyed this movie enough that I will have to go back and watch those. Its a little hard to follow at first, so you really have to pay attention. Great performances by Gerard Butler (300), Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton), end especially by Mark Strong (Body of Lies).

The plot involves a real estate scam, a crime lord, Russian mobsters, and a drugged out rock star. You really have to pay attention to the story, and new characters keep popping up, but if you can follow it you will enjoy it.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley (not reviewed)

They don't like to screen horror movies for critics, which is a shame because I love a good horror movie.

Rachel Getting Married (not reviewed)

I'm looking forward to this. I've heard nothing but good things.

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