Art & Entertaiment

Movie Reviews – The Ministers

Movie Reviews – The Ministers

This is a very well made crime drama starring John Leguizamo as two characters Dante Mendoza and his twin brother Perfecto.

It starts off with a seemingly ordinary day where a cop Alberto Santana played by Benny Nieves and his partner Joe Bruno played by the stalwart Harvey Keitel (Pulp Fiction), have come to wish Alberto’s daughter Celeste a happy birthday, as Alberto, his wife Gina played by Diane Venora (The 13th Warrior) and Celeste are walking arm in arm towards Celeste’s present, a gunman from nowhere turns up and shoots Alberto point blank, then hands Celeste a pamphlet that reads “A Message from the Lord”.

We meet Celeste several years later who is now a police officer and played by the gorgeous Florencia Lozano (One Life to Live, she looks very much like Matt Parkman’s wife in Heroes), and whose partner is none other than her father’s partner Joe. She is still very bitter at not having caught the murderer of her father, who also at the same time period that her father was killed, killed two businessmen that had committed insurance fraud, where a fire is set to dilapidated buildings in order to collect the insurance money.

In turns out that a similar murder has just taken place with the trademark of “The Ministers” where two armed men wearing a hairy face mask, enter a drug fueled neighbourhood and proceed to shoot all the men they encounter, but leave the women as witnesses, with one of them quoting scripture to her as his partner kills the others.

Celeste is extremely keen on taking the case, much to the despair of her boss, Captain Diaz played by Wanda De Jesus (Blood Work), as well as Joe. Joe on the other hand feels a little guilty for the death of his partner after so many years, and the last thing he would like is for Celeste to put herself in danger, when he has ingrained himself into their family, and considers her his daughter.

Matters come to an interesting twist when one of the twin brothers responsible for killing her father Dante, takes a liking to her and proceeds to charm his way into her life, first by offering to fix her car which has broken down, if she will go out on a date with him, he asks her if she has a jack, she says no, then he says that would mean extra, as in dinner instead of a date, he then asks her if she has a spare tyre, she says no, and he says that could mean dancing and maybe more.

The other twin Perfecto who has the upper hand amongst the two, is still intent on revenge for the harm that has been done to him, while Dante would like to put the past to rest, seeing he is falling for Celeste, but as things go, it is clear things will never be this straight forward.

John Leguizamo is impressive in both roles, playing the more level headed of the twins Dante charmingly, as well as the psychotic and jealous twin Perfecto in equal measure. The suspense will keep the audience at the edge of their seat, on how it all pans out.…


The Warrior’s Way Review (That Cowboys Vs Ninjas Movie)

The Warrior’s Way Review (That Cowboys Vs Ninjas Movie)

Pretty much all one can glean from the trailers for The Warrior’s Way is that it has something to do with cowboys vs. ninjas. No one needs more than that honestly, but the film’s plot turned out to be surprisingly complex. While The Warrior’s Way doesn’t have the smallest budget in the world, it’s clearly a limited one, but the filmmakers spent what they had in all the right places.

Right off the bat, from the first scene to the last, what stood out to me most in The Warrior’s Way were the costumes. The costumes were over the top, and seem to have been inspired by Mortal Kombat and various space western animes like Trigun and Cowboy Bebop. I want one of the dusters that the cowboys wear, I can then officially change my middle name to McAsswhoop.

Beyond some quick action at the beginning of the movie, the first half of The Warrior’s Way is pretty damn slow. Combine this with a weak supporting cast and hit or miss acting, and I became pretty restless for action. The films protagonist, Yang (played by Dong-gun Jang), leaves his country and clan with the last living descendant of their rival clan, due to his inability to murder a baby. Yang ends up heading to the American West to find one of his old friends in a small circus town by the name of Lode. However, upon arrival he discovers that his friend is dead. From there, hardcore laundry service ensues (Don’t question.) The film then introduces a few different factions and the plot gets more complex than I had originally expected.

There are actually two antagonists in The Warrior’s Way. The first is The Sad Flute ninja clan and their leader, appropriately named Saddest Flute. The Sad Flutes are dead set on eliminating the last of their rival clan, and this faction as a whole reminds me of Ra’s Al Ghul’s assassins from Batman Begins. We also have The Colonel and his men, a rogue platoon who periodically hold the town of Lode hostage so the Colonel can rape their young girls. Clearly the Colonel is the enemy easiest to hate. When all three factions collide in the second half of the movie, it gets real.

There are a ton of gimmicks used to shoot The Warrior’s Way, but they are all well executed and seldom repeated. Battles that clearly borrowed from films like 300, Blade, Resident Evil, and the Matrix are brutally violent, and some of the more over the top deaths will have you laughing at their absurdity or cringing in pain. Yang is consistently dodging bullets and slicing his foes into pieces with lightning speed. Although the sword fights aren’t as epic, or as evenly matched, as those you would find in films like Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, they are still just as fun to watch.

The CGI in The Warrior’s Way is really hit or miss, and it’s clear the filmmakers distributed their funds carefully in this regard. A generic explosion that serves to push the narrative along may look horrible, like something from an early 90’s PC game, but a complex slow motion melee looks amazing, with blood, bullets, and limbs flying everywhere.

The good forgives the bad in The Warrior’s Way, and although it’s still pretty much what I was expecting, it’s not the disappointment I thought it would be. There have been far worse offerings this year in the action realm (I’m looking at you Expendables), so action fans shouldn’t miss this one.…


Who Should You Rent Movies Online From? Blockbuster Or Netflix?

Who Should You Rent Movies Online From? Blockbuster Or Netflix?

Nowadays, you don’t have to wait a lengthy amount of time for a new movie release to be available for rent. Within four to six months of a theatre premiere, most films can be rented on DVD through a local video store or an online service.

For convenience purposes, many people choose to rent movies online these days. This service is offered through companies such as Blockbuster and Netflix. And, if you are interested in signing up for a service that meets your needs, this article explains how each works and how they differ.

How does Blockbuster work? Blockbuster ships movies to you by post. When using Blockbuster online to rent new releases or classic films, you can enjoy the benefits of keeping the movie as long as you desire, never having to pay a late fee and the shipping is free.

Customers can fill their rental queue with requested movies and receive their DVDs in the mail upon availability. Blockbuster offers 2 ways to rent movies online: films can be delivered and returned through the mail or, delivered by mail and returned to a store in exchange for free or discounted rentals.

Blockbuster is for you if you prefer to rent and return movies in store. They also offer game rentals.

How Does Netflix Work? The Netflix service is similar to Blockbuster in that the movies are delivered on a first come first served basis and customers are not responsible for paying late fees or returning their rentals by a certain due date.

Although Netflix does not have any store locations or offer game rentals, they have a huge selection of movies to choose from so finding a title you like that is available more likely.

So what does one service offer that the other doesn’t? The range of titles available at both is vast. Finding a good selection of your favourite shows or movies shouldn’t be a problem. However, one may have more of a certain type of film than the other. So this is worth checking before you sign up.

Netflix will charge you extra to rent on Blu Ray and they don’t offer game rentals. You cannot rent and return films in a bricks and mortar type store as you can with Blockbuster. They both allow you to watch movies instantly on your PC or gaming device.

So if you don’t mind paying extra for Blu Ray, then Netflix is best because of the range of titles on offer. If you want to rent games and rent/return movies in store too, Blockbuster is best.

Similar plans at Blockbuster and Netflix cost about the same. Blockbuster will charge extra for in store returns.…


The Importance of Music in Movies

The Importance of Music in Movies

Editing requires the right amount of rhythm and pace and music plays a key role in the structure of how the story will be displayed. Music can trigger fear in horror, suspense in action, and uncertainty in drama movies by providing the right element of surprise to evoke the right responses. In most cases the music can make or break a scene if the scoring isn’t done properly. Just imagine the music in the horror movie “Friday the 13th” when Jason is about to attack his victim or when you hear the music but nothing happen but your still clutching to the edge of your seat.

And what about the various scenes in Star Wars when the music gives you an indication that Darth Vader is about to enter to scene (which also happens to be the theme music during the intro of the movie) you can imagine, the music dictates and creates a reference point for the visuals. I was once told by an Academy award winning editor to play any award winning movie with the music turned off and see if you get the same effect…point made. The only recollection I have of a movie where the scoring did not play a part in driving the narrative, was in the movie “No Country for Old Men” where there was only one scene that had music in the background.

Aside from that, scoring, sound design, and music are essential elements in catering to the emotions of that particular scene in the making of a movie production. In some cases, the music can make the director change the script to make a better marriage between the characters and the music. For example, in the 1972 movie entitled “Super Fly” director Gordon Parks jr. had to change several scenes in the script and the lead character’s (Ron O’Neal) wardrobe in the movie after (R.I.P.) Curtis Mayfield created the complete score based off the screenplay.

And who can forget the famous scoring of all the James Bond movies. In any form of film or video editing, any professional post production editor will always emphasis the importance of developing a pace to tell the story from the inciting incident to the plot, and music is the key component of putting it all together. Of course with technology at our fingertips we have the advantage of producing, directing, and scoring much easier then ever before but the key elements will always remain the same.…


Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

From the very opening scene it’s apparent that the magic that once coursed through the veins of the original Pirates of the Caribbean has all but run dry. The long-awaited reunion with everyone’s favorite scoundrel pirate lacks the humor that should have permeated the entire affair, and such lusterless exploits continue throughout the rest of the film. The romance between Captain Jack Sparrow and newcomer Angelica should have provided a prominent and consistently witty repartee, but instead manages only a few fleeting moments of amusement.

The supporting characters could have presented more hilarity in their preposterous predicaments or at least offered validation for their inclusion in the adventure, but fall short in both aspects. And the villainous Blackbeard definitely should have embodied the dastardly and menacing persona expected of the legendary pirate. Perhaps Sparrow works best in tandem with strong-willed heroes rather than alone with only Barbossa’s wily antics to aid him.

When word reaches King George that Spain has begun a quest to locate the Fountain of Youth, he hires pirate-turned-privateer Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to find it first – with the help of Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) who happens to possess the map to the long-lost treasure. When Sparrow refuses, he escapes the King’s grasp only to find himself shanghaied aboard the supernaturally powered ship of notorious pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), who seeks the life-giving waters to thwart his own fatal date with destiny. As Sparrow attempts to outwit his captors and his pursuers, he must battle vicious mermaids, nefarious pirates, and the deceptive wiles of his former lover Angelica (Penelope Cruz).

The fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film is very similar to the fourth Indiana Jones outing – it’s fun to see the characters return for a new feature, especially when they remain visually faithful and are scripted with the same sharp wit and idiosyncratic catch phrases. The problem is the story; it’s as if the filmmakers have run out of adventures to tell with these particular heroes. Jack Sparrow should be able to suffice as the lead protagonist, but simply doesn’t have enough emotional involvement with any of the plethora of supporting roles. He has a love interest now, plus new villains and the return of several familiar faces. But despite the nearly nonstop action sequences, he never interacts with the characters around him in a manner that begets investment in his plights, misadventures or successes. It’s hard to care about someone whose perils are approached with such a lack of seriousness.

Most of the film is so dark and shadowy that the 3D is completely lost, along with the specific details of sets and fight choreography – which is further obscured by rapid cuts. The stunts and chases are still overly complex, harkening back to the second film’s attention to purely ridiculous yet uncannily diverting action scenes that bridge moments of verbal storytelling. Here, it’s even more of a reach. Part of the problem is that it is repetitious to see yet another sword fight in the rafters of a wooden dwelling or melees with royal guards or a showdown with a towering warrior.

As the second Transformers movie proved so painfully, once the initial excitement of witnessing a unique cinematic event is gone – in Transformers, the robots metamorphosing; in Pirates of the Caribbean, all sorts of legendary acts of pirating – we’re left with a dreary, dull bit of recycled material. A completely extraneous subplot with a nameless preacher and a nameless mermaid tacks onto the already lengthy running time, along with Spanish soldiers that barely present a predicament and the intricate, on-the-spot rituals necessary to unearth Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. At least the unforgettable, catchy theme music returns in full force.…


Movie Recommendations From Blockbuster Online

Movie Recommendations From Blockbuster Online

When you’re in the mood to watch a movie, sometimes all the choices available can leave you feeling downright confused. Luckily, the folks over at Blockbuster Online have anticipated your plight and put together a list of recommended titles. Most of these suggestions are taken from recently released films, and there are at least 40 recommendations to peruse at any given time. Even if you’re not a subscriber, it’s a great way to generate some cinematic ideas. The following list contains just a few of their highly rated selections.

The Experiment (2010) – An American remake of the 2001 German film Das Experiment, this thriller tells the story of a social experiment designed to study violence in a simulated prison setting. Twenty-six participants are chosen, with the group randomly divided into the roles of guards and inmates. After two weeks, each man is supposed to receive $14,000, but a series of violent events threatens to derail the whole affair. Starring Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace, Clifton Collins, Jr., and Cam Gigandet.

Harry Brown (2009) – Michael Caine stars as a retired Royal Marine living in a violent area of South London. While he tries his best to avoid trouble, his breaking point is reached when his wife dies of natural causes and his best friend is stabbed to death. Harry sets out to make things right, drawing upon his military training and sense of moral outrage. Co-starring Emily Mortimer and Liam Cunningham. Imagine Death Wish, but with a senior citizen in the lead role.

The Losers (2010) – Based on a comic book series, The Losers revolves around a U.S. Special Forces team who are betrayed and left for dead in the jungles of Bolivia. But they survive and plot their revenge with the help of a mysterious woman (Zoe Saldana). The team itself consists of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Chris Evans, Columbus Short, and Oscar Jaenada.

Just Wright (2010) – Queen Latifah and Common star in this romantic tale of a physical therapist who falls for the NBA player she’s treating. A number of real-life NBA stars appear as themselves, including Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, and Rashard Lewis.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) – Nicolas Cage plays a crooked cop who suffers from chronic back pain and is addicted to both gambling and drugs. His girlfriend (Eva Mendes) is a high-priced prostitute, and he’s just been assigned to investigate the murder of six illegal immigrants from Senegal. As things spiral out of control, he begins to look for redemption in the most unlikely of places. Directed by Werner Herzog with a bizarre visual flair not often seen in Hollywood productions. Also starring Val Kilmer, Brad Dourif, Xzibit, and Fairuza Balk.

Whip It (2009) – Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut in this film about young Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) and her search for acceptance and meaning in her life. She finds it on the roller derby track, taking the name Babe Ruthless and hanging out with teammates sporting such colorful monikers as Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) and Smashley Simpson (Drew Barrymore). A funny and action-packed look at female empowerment.…


The King’s Speech – Movie Review

The King’s Speech – Movie Review

Misery, struggle, failure, frustration, resentment, success, glory and joy – we see it all in a dramatically enriching cinema experience: The King’s Speech. Director, Tom Hooper, along with writer, David Seidler, have masterly development a predictable plot into an absorbing watch. The film is based on a true story of King George VI. His quest to overcome his chronic stammer and give his nation, a leader’s voice!

The film opens with a stammering speech of Prince Albert, Duke of York, at the British Empire exhibition. The pain that is reflected through his eyes on his in-ability to speak confidently and clearly is truly heart breaking. He tries unsuccessfully with several speech therapists and gives it up. The pragmatic Duchess persuades him to see Lionel Logue, an un-conventional Australian speech therapist. Lionel gets informal with the prince and their conversations and sessions become intriguing as the movie moves forward. Their patchy and at times unstable friendship is really touching and is a major driving force in the movie. After the death of King George V and his elder brother’s scandalous abdication the prince becomes King George VI reluctantly. But soon, his stutter raises concerns over his leadership skills. The nation at brink of a war needed a leader’s voice and the King with help of Lionel becomes that voice and delivers a successful war speech.

The whole cast is uniformly excellent. Colin Firth (playing King George VI) and Geoffrey Rush (playing Lionel Logue) deliver tremendous knock out performances. Both wonderful actors have acted brilliantly together and have produced some memorable crowd pleasing sequences with perfect timing. Helena Bonham Carter carries alluring royal looks as the princess. Tom Hooper, director, surely knows his craft and is worthy of all the praises he is getting for this cinematic beauty. Screenplay by David Seidler is gripping and not even for a moment comes a moment of boredom. The film has a prestigious visual appeal (cinematography by Dany Cohen), sets are majestic; the score (Alexandre Desplat) is powerful, it justifies the era, the situations and at times it is emotionally moving. Some historical details have been challenged (mostly relating Winston Churchill) but giving cinematic liberties to its creators it can be considered a minor blemish.

The film has deservedly won various awards including Academy awards for Best Picture, Best director, Best Actor and Best original screenplay. It is an impressive cinematic experience and is surely a must watch for people of all ages.…


10 Reasons Childhood Beats Adulthood

10 Reasons Childhood Beats Adulthood

Movie marathon sleepovers ran up to the finish line

No one would dare close an eye until the last movie played and the popcorn was finished. Today if any adult makes it past the first movie without falling asleep, it is considered a fun-filled evening.

Friendships were as easy as tick the block

There were no cheesy lines. You had a simple note passed to you and you had to answer his question; “would you be my friend, tick the following: yes/no/maybe? If you answered yes, it meant having someone to push you on the swing every day.

Your duvet was your castle

We all raided the linen cupboard and made tents from our bed sheets in the aim to build the perfect sanctuary.

You had a personal chauffeur

In the back seat of the car, seat belt on, a quick nap and all of a sudden, you’re there! No effort at all! No worries about traffic jams, bad drivers, faulty GPS coordinates and Tyre pressure.

You looked trendy in a princess outfit

Bright pink dress? Check. Magic wand? Check. Crown? Check. Ready for the day! There was no need to worry about what the magazines say about the latest trends.

A grazed knee got you a lot of attention

Falling down and crying “ouch” got you picked up by caring adults who praised you for being so brave. If you ended up at the doctor for stitches, they gave you a lollipop to take home. Now you’ll be asked which medical insurance you are on and whether you’re covered for negligence.

Protecting your LEGO was your only mission

The hardest lesson you ever learn to was to share your toys. As an adult try having to share the bathroom with your spouse, your salary with your ever growing debt and your wardrobe with your sister.

Dinner parties were simple

Hot dogs! That was all you needed. Now if you have ten guests for dinner you need to think of a menu that accommodates the vegetarians, the couple that is allergic to nuts and the friend who is on a diet.

When you were sick mum was always there

A light cough ensured that we were bedridden for a day and served chicken soup. As an adult you need to, among other things, end up checking your emails out of sheer panic that there might be an emergency.

You never had to pay

Everything you did was paid for.…