Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Reviews for October 16th, 2009

All the Best

Directed by Rohit Shetty.

In Hindi with subtitles. Veer (Fardeen Khan), an aspiring rock musician, resides in Goa and relies on his older brother, Dharam (Sanjay Dutt), a millionaire, to pay his daily expenses. When Veer and his good friend, Prem (Ajay Devgan), end up owing the local don (Johnny Lever) a huge sum of money, they must find a way to pay the debt. Veer lies to Dharam that he’s married in hopes of getting an increase in his pocket money, but when Dharam unexpectedly stops by for a visit to Goa and his way to Lusoto, chaos ensues. Dharam assumes that Prem’s beautiful wife, Jhanvi (Bipasha Basu), is married to Veer while Veer’s girlfriend, Vidya (Nugda Godse), is married to Prem. Although each member of the cast delivers an energetic, lively performance, at times, they’re too over-the-top and silly rather than funny. How many times can one laugh at the local don’s facial expressions each time he communicates of striking a spoon inside a glass cup? The screenplay co-written by Robin Bhatt and Yunus Sajawal has a premise that sounds like it could have been a hysterically funny, slapstick comedy of errors, but instead too much of the humor falls flat because it comes across as rather forced and juvenile. Moreover, the musical numbers, especially the one that takes place during the opening credits, look stylish and well-choreographed, but the songs themselves aren’t particularly memorable. There’s a terrifically edited car chase sequence, though, that’s palpably exciting and somewhat funny unlike the rest of the film. Director Rohit Shetty includes a poorly-chosen musical score that makes many scenes feel even more cartoonish than they already are. He could have easily edited down some of the scenes or cut some of them during the first hour because it takes almost an entire tedious hour to get to the second act when Dharam shows up in Goa. At an excessive running time of 2 hours and 24 minutes All the Best can’t be saved by its fleetingly stylish musical numbers and car chase sequence. It ultimately overstays its welcome and falls flat as a comedy with often annoying and cartoonish characters and too much repetitive, forced humor.
Number of times I checked my watch: 6
Released by Yash Raj Films.
Opens at the Big Manhattan I.

Law Abiding Citizen

Directed by F. Gary Gray.

Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler) witnesses two men murdering his wife and daughter inside his Philadelphia home. Assistant DA Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx) works on the case and, because of lack of sufficient incriminating evidence, gives one of the killers a plea bargain that would sentence him to only ten years in prison while the other one gets the death penalty. Ten years later, Clyde, unhappy with the plea bargain, still hasn’t overcome the murder of his beloved wife and daughter and decides to take vengeance on the remaining murderer who was just released from prison. Clyde ends up in prison for torturing-t0-death murderer, but he stops short of giving an explicit confession to the crime. He wants justice at any cost for the murder of his wife and daughter. Nick desperately wants the case to be over, but Clyde continues to play a diabolical game with him that has him killing people associated with the case, so he’s worried that Clyde, now in solitary confinement, might target him and his family. Viola Davis briefly shows up as the mayor of Philadelphia who decides to have police officers everywhere throughout the city. How is Clyde capable of committing so many heinous crimes from inside his prison cell? What kind of reasoning does Clyde have for killing innocent people who didn’t kill his wife and daughter? The lazy screenplay by Kurt Wimmer fails to answer to answer any of those questions intelligently, leaving many implausibilities as the plot professes and allowing for Clyde to seem insane, much like the character Charles Bronson in the sensational prison action film Bronson . However, Bronson aims for and succeeds at showing stylized action, dark humor and surrealism, while Law Abiding Citizen aims for gritty reality along the lines of Death Wish and exploring issues about the justice system, but misses the bullseye by more than a mile. For the most part, Gerard Butler at least has a lot of fun in his role, especially given a few wickedly funny lines that he gets to chew effortlessly every now and then. Director F. Gary Gray includes impressive action sequences and explosions that add some stylishness and energy to the film without resorting to shaky camerawork as a means to generate tension. At a running time of 108 minutes, Law Abiding Citizen manages to be increasingly preposterous and asinine, but nonetheless mindlessly entertaining thanks to Gerard Butler’s oddly invigorating and captivating performance.
Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Overture Films.
Opens nationwide.

New York, I Love You

Directed by Various directors.

This compilation of ten short, untitled films have stories with one common denominator: they each take place in the city that never sleeps, New York. In the segment directed by Jiang Wen, Hayden Christensen plays a pickpocket who steals money from an older man (Andy Garcia) while falling in love with his mistress (Rachel Bilson). Mira Nair directs a segment about a Hassidic woman (Natalie Portman) who flirts with a Jain gem merchant (Irfan Khan) in the Diamond District. A young man (Ethan Hawke) hits on a woman (Maggie Q) outside of a bar at night, and an older man (Chris Cooper) hits on a woman (Robin Wright Penn) in the segment directed by Yvan Attal. The dialogue during those interactions are quite witty, although a biy stilted. Other segments include one directed by Bret Ratner about a teenager (Anton Yelchin) who agrees to take the paraplegic daughter (Olivia Thirlby) of a pharmacist (James Caan) out to the prom, but they both end up spending the night together outside. A clever plot twist at the end of the segment adds a nice element of surprise. Julie Christie adds some gravitas as an opera singer who stays at a hotel room in an attempt to commit suicide before interacting with a bellboy (Shia LaBeouf) in visually the stylish segment directed by Shekhar Kapur. Joshua Marston directs the cute and amusing segment about an elderly married couple (Eli Wallach and Cloris Leachman) who walk together on Coney Island and bicker and complain about all sorts of things such as crossing the street too slowly. Unfortunately, none of the segments truly feel “New Yorkish” and could have taken place in any city. Even though most segments are mildly engaging, they’re often too slight and neither of them illuminates something particularly insightful or memorable for that matter. You’ll often find yourself wondering what the real point of all of the segments as a whole is and wish that the segments were more organic, character-driven and true-to-life. At a lengthy running time of 110 minutes, New York, I Love You manages to be marginally engaging and sporadically clever, but often rather slight, unimaginative and lacking an authentic vibe of New York City.
Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Vivendi Entertainment.

Where the Wild Things Are

Directed by Spike Jonze.

Based on the book by Maurice Sendak. Max (Max Records), an emotionally unstable 9-year-old boy, lives with his mother (Catherine Keener) and often misbehaves without receiving enough attention at home. After throwing snowballs at kids in his neighborhood, he misbehaves yet again by jumping on the kitchen table and yelling at his mother while her boyfriend (Mark Ruffalo) happens to be over for a peaceful date. As she’s about to punish him, he bolts right out the door while wearing a wolf costume and ends up finding a sailboat that takes him to an island where strange monsters roam, namely, Carol (voice of James Gandolfini), Judith (voice of Catherine O’Hara), Alexander (voice of Paul Dano), Ira (voice of Forest Whitaker), The Bull (voice of Michael Berry Jr.), Douglas (voice of Chris Cooper). He tells all of them that he’s actually a king back in the land that he ran away from, so they spare his life instead of eating him even though he recklessly destroyed the homes that they sleep in. Director/co-writer Spike Jonze has essentially taken a short children’s book story and stretched out its thin plot as much as possible, but with mixed results. The modicum of tension arises from the question of how much longer Max will be able to continue lying about being a king and how the monsters will react if the truth does indeed come out somehow. It’s somewhat interesting and inspiring to observe how Max gradually gains inner strength while learning the value of friendship and how to embrace the warmth and comfort of others surrounding him. Unfortunately, the screenplay fails to flesh out his transformation in a compelling, imaginative or truly heartfelt way, especially when it comes to the new friendship that he builds with Carol which just comes across as over-simplified and contrived. Jonze does make terrific use of the musical score, CGI effects, set design and scenery that add a few much-needed layers of richness and eye candy that keep you at least mildly engaged. At a running time of 100 minutes, Where the Wild Things Are has brilliant production values and inspiring messages, but it’s ultimately too uneven, contrived and unimaginative while failing to thoroughly entertain adults and children simultaneously.
Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

Main Page
Alphabetical Menu
Chronological Menu

Avi Offer
The NYC Movie Guru
Privacy Policy