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Since school has ended, I’ve been getting my money’s worth on my Netflix subscription and then some.  Here are my two cents on a few of the films I’ve seen lately.  To spice things up, I will preface each with a haiku:

Everything is Illuminated

2/5 stars

the little hobbit

quests for his family’s past

mordor was cooler



“A young American Jewish man begins an exhausting quest — aided by a naïve Ukranian translator — to find the righteous gentile woman who saved his grandfather when his small Ukranian village (along with most of the populace) was obliterated during the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941. Stars Elijah Wood, Eugene Hutz and Boris Leskin. Liev Schreiber directs –”

Yes, you read that correctly.

Yes, you read that correctly.

“–Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.”  (Netflix)

The first half of this movie is great, with “Royal Tenenbaums”-like quirkiness and charm, displayed wonderfully in the trailer.  Eugene Hutz, especially, is hilarious as Alex, the young Ukranian translator who makes hapless attempts at Americanisms.  But when Schrieber attempts to get all poignant about the Holocaust, he ends up overdoing the sad music and close up shots of people crying, and the movie just kind of grinds to a halt.

Across the Universe

3/5 stars

love it or hate it,

unless you’re high, you’ll agree:

bono’s no walrus



“An American girl (Evan Rachel Wood) and a British lad (Jim Sturgess) fall in love amid the upheaval of the 1960s in this musical featuring classic Beatles songs and a mix of live action and innovative animation. On an excursion to America, Liverpool dock worker Jude (Sturgess) falls for Lucy (Wood). When Lucy’s brother (Joe Anderson) is drafted, Jude and Lucy take a stand as anti-war activists. Dana Fuchs, Bono and Eddie Izzard co-star.” (Netflix)

I really enjoyed the beginning and the end, but thought the middle could have withstood some judicious cutting and come out for the better.  Bono’s cameo cover of “I am the Walrus” was one of the most painful things I have watched; the director could have recruited a tone-deaf, slightly-sloshed nobody from a random karaoke bar, and the scene would have turned out the same (if not slightly better).

He plays a douche remarkably well, though.

He plays a douche remarkably well, though.

Bono aside, the soundtrack is a real gem and what saved this movie from being a 2-star.  As long as you’re not a purist, you’ll enjoy the unique spin the film gives to classic Beatles songs.  “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Come Together” are two examples that also have good dance sequences:

Star Trek

5/5 stars

blending old and new

this film kicks ass.  credits roll,

i applaud madly



“Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his trusted team on the starship USS Enterprise boldly go where no man has gone before in this installment of Gene Roddenberry’s sci-fi franchise that follows the early days of the intergalactic adventurers. The crew includes Spock (Zachary Quinto), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Sulu (John Cho). Eric Bana co-stars, and Leonard Nimoy appears as an older version of Spock.” (Netflix)

I was already a fan of the previous work of  John Cho, Anton Yelchin, and Karl Urban, so I was super delighted that they would all be in a movie together.  And how cool is it that John Cho as Sulu had a sizeable part in the script?  I am all for the correction of underrepresentation of Asian-Americans in film.

Nish described this movie on opening weekend as “Pirates of the Caribbean in space.”  I would have to say that’s not far off the mark, and would like to append “…but awesomer”.  It was well-written, well-directed, and if I had any quibble, it would be that the film felt a bit too short.  Five stars not because it was a pinnacle of cinematic achievement, but because it was the first film in a long time that I walked away from feeling completely satisfied.  You’ve got me, Star Trek franchise.  I eagerly await a sequel.

While theaters have recently been filled with many films that promise to entertain, few promise to educate, and even fewer do so in the thought-provoking way that Gus Van Sant’s new movie, Milk, does.

Milk tells the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California.

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The film follows Milk’s life from from the moment he decided he wanted to be a politician, to the moment he finally won a seat a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors . Milk  ran unsuccessfully for political office on three separate occasions; with each attempt, he gained more and more support. Milk, however, had  short-lived political career. Dan White, a fellow San Francisco supervisor, shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk  on November 27, 1978.

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While each person has his or her own views on the sensitive issue of homosexuality, the film’s release could not have come at a more appropriate time. When Proposition 8 passed at the end of last year, many felt Californians had taken a huge step back in the fight for equality. Although that may very well be the case, Milk puts a face to the fight for gay rights. Harvey Milk’s touching and motivating story is guaranteed make you think a little before treating anyone poorly.

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