Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City


Movie Reviews:
Oh Yeah, Full Price Baby!
Worth the Change in your pocket aka Matinee
Wait for DVD
Just wait for HBO, Showtime, etc.
Run For Your Life! Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Bother!

Fast Food Nation –
Saw lots of films this weekend, and as Borat would say I liked this movie – not so much. I was expecting something similar to Super Size Me and perhaps that was what much of the let-down was. This movie, based on a book by Eric Schlosser (which I have yet read so cant comment), just feels like it really had more to tell than what it did tell. It follows a VP (Greg Kinnear) who has been told according to research studies that there is sh*t in the meat. And as can be predicted, there are a few too many jokes about that.The story follows immigrant workers from Mexico who come to the States to make money, moreso than they will ever make in Mexico. They are forced to work on the kill floor and help to chop up the cattle, deskin them, cut up the meat making sure to not put any grade-A meat into the hamburger. Of course, if this isnt bad enough, they have a boss who sexually harrasses all the pretty women that come.Also, there is the story of the kids who work at the fast food company called Mickey’s, which of course is next to a McD’s. And the kids do all the things one hears stories about what goes on with the food. If you like your fast food, you may not after seeing this, but for some reason I doubt this will discourage anyone from eating it.There is a huge talent with lots of cameos with everyone from Patricia Arquette to Ethan Hawke to Bruce Willis and the cast goes on. While the movie tries to tell us a lot, it fails in the fact that there is so much going on, and so many side-stories that some of it becomes irrelevant to where the film should be going.

While the film does have some interesting moments, Avril Lavigne playing a college student out to save the world, is laughable at best. While the college students were trying to say something and everyone was, I felt like I heard too much and was not left thinking fast food is back. I came out thinking – corporations are the root of all evil – and for me, this is already something I have my own beliefs on. So does it matter? Id like to think that Fast Food Nation had more to say. Because if its really all about exploitation, I’m sure the fast food industry is not the only people to exploit Mexican workers. I really feel this should have been done as a documentary to get the point across.

The last images witnessing a slaughter-house were hard to watch. Now if everything was that ‘in your face’, Id have gladly recommended it. If youre really interested, I suggest watching Super-Size Me. Morgan Spurlock did a much better job at capturing the realities of fast food. Showing a bunch of fast food restaurants, does not compel one to stop eating there.

Volver –
Pedro Almodovar’s new film Volver is as good as it gets. And perhaps my favorite film of the year so far. The lovely Penelope Cruz (Raimunda), who is looking very lovely in this film, does a great job in her role as a woman trying to work her butt off just to get by.In typical Almodovar style, his movie follows a family of women tied together by scandalous affairs, and murders. I have always loved his films as he always uses some of the most talented women. Carmen Maura plays a woman who has come back from the dead to fix all of the problems in the family that were not fixed before she died. She plays the mother to Raimunda and Sole. Each woman in this movie is going through some sort of drama that she must sort through to move on with her life. Almodovar plays off of Cruz’s good looks, with lingering shots of her cleavage and a few jokes about it too.

Without divulging much of the story, because like most of his films the less you know the better, this film showcases some of Spain’s top-women talent. The story is a bit over-the-top and comical as only Almodovar can do. The acting is great, and when will Americans learn to showcase Americas top-women talent, without relegating them to a supporting role. This is definitely a must-see if it makes it to a theater near you.
Babel – For a movie that I had so badly wanted to see since I saw a preview, I came away a bit disappointed. There is nothing to say entirely negative about the film. The acting is brilliant – Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt are both incredible as well as Gael Garcia Bernal. Inarritu, working with Bernal once again (Amores Perros), makes an amazing film. There is no denying that its a great story, great direction and great acting. The fact that the film is filmed in the native language of each person, makes it that much more compelling of a stories. Unfortunately, it has this feeling of its all been done before and some movies have done it better. Its sad that for most films, anytime theres a tragedy involving an American in another country, its immediately thought of as terrorism. And I guess its thrown down our throats a bit too much.Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett are traveling in Morocco when she gets shot on a tour bus traveling through the countryside. Immediately it becomes an act of terrorism when it hits the airwaves. This event will link a variety of other people to this one event. The stories I felt were done the best was the family in Morocco who is destroyed by one gun; it really shows how these people are just living and trying to feed themselves and go on with day-to-day life, but one event turns their life into utter hell. The other stories I enjoyed the most were the mute-deaf girl in Tokyo who is dealing with her surroundings and sexuality and Bernal’s role as a Mexican trying to help out his aunt and get her to Mexico for her son’s wedding. This journey captures the film and really shows the life of an illegal immigrant.

While there is no denying that this film is worth seeing, I just wonder if it came out a few years ago, (perhaps before Crash), would it have a bigger impact.

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan –
Sacha Baron Cohen is the title star of the film Borat. He is a reporter from Kazakhstan and is going to the States to do an expose on American life.This is the FUNNIEST film I have seen in a long time. It starts off in his home-country giving us a tour of the country-side, his neighbors and relatives. Each person more absurd than the next. A pseudo-documentary style follows Borat from NYC to Atlanta to Texas to California, and other places in between. In each of the different places he visits, there is always something hysterical that will happen. His visit, which was only supposed to be in New York, is soon taking him all over the States to find his elusive tv-woman from Baywatch.The funniest parts for me were his encounters in Atlanta, GA, and the rodeo in Texas. The rodeo scene was by far one of the more funny moments as the crowd at the rodeo were such stereo-typical southerners. As law-suits abound from this movie, I find it terribly funny how offended people are getting from this movie. The hype on this movie has been around for quite a while and its so unpolitically correct. But I would like to think that we all know at the end of the day it is a movie, and has some great moments.For those that take things a bit more serious, and get offended easily, DON’T see this movie. You will just be more pissed off after-ward. For the rest of us, have a great laugh!

Noel – Noel is a sweet movie perfect for the holidays. It should be able to give us all hopes and inspiration. It could be the next modern day Miracle on 34th Street.The movie follows several different people in New York City on Christmas Eve all dealing with different problems. Susan Sarandon (Rose) is a middle-aged woman who has given up her life to take care of her mother who has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t remember her, but will find the will to go on. Penelope Cruz and Paul Walker (Nina and Mike), two very gorgeous people cast, are a couple about to get married but dealing with problems of their own. Mike is the insanely jealous type, and goes livid anytime a man looks at Nina. This is funny of course, in that he is incredibly good-looking his self, but he really has the anger of the jealous types. Alan Arkin (Artie), who is always brilliant, finds his late wife reincarnated in Mike’s body and will teach him a lesson along the way. Marcus Thomas (Jules) yearns to celebrate another Christmas in the hospital, remembering a time long ago, when he had the best Christmas ever.All of these tales will weave in and out of each other’s lives. And it will connect the characters in the movie. The movie itself will make you laugh and cry and also remind us that hope should never be given up on.

The Zodiac – The Zodiac, which consequently has a new movie coming out with the same title, is a fairly small, very forgettable film. It should have really been a made-for-tv movie. The story follows a detective (Justin Chambers of Grey’s Anatomy) who has stumbled onto the Z

odiac crime in Vallejo, CA. It does show the impact of this case on the detective’s family. But in the end there is not much to save this movie. The story in general is pretty weak, with some OK acting, but not enough character development to make you either like or hate the people. Truth be told, I am excited about the new film coming out which has a great cast with Jake Gyllenhaal. I just hope the writers have figured out where to take the movie. As the case itself is unsolved its hard to feel relieved at the end of the movie, but I have hope that next one will do justice. The Lost City –
Its not so often that a movie really inspires me to find old history books and re-read things that I learned in college (I was a Latin American/Iberian Studies Major). This was one of those movies that did. The Lost City is Andy Garcia’s directorial debut and his 16-year labor of love. Its a beautiful story of a city, Havana, Cuba. For most of the actors in this movie, of Cuban descent, this movie is very important, as for they can no longer go back there, and are living in exile.The story moves quickly with music taking us through every step of the film. The music captures the essence of Havana, Cuba, from the powerfulness of Afro-Cuban beats, to more popular Cuban music. The scenery is gorgeous, with views of the colonial city of Havana, to the gorgeous cabanas, to the crystal clear ocean.What is interesting of the film is how the Fellove family begins to crumble. A family that is so filled with love slowly deteriorates, much the way the country of Cuba does. A well-to-do middle class family, with a father that is a professor at the university, Fico (Andy Garcia) who owns the Tropico cabana. But as it becomes apparent that the fall of Batista will be inevitable, and the children start joining Revolutionary armies, the family soon falls apart. One son joins up with the July 26 movement (Che Guevara’s), and another son joins a movement to reinstate the 1940’s Constitution. As the country soon falls, and Che and Fidel rise, choices need to be made. Families are forever torn apart, with many members taking exile in Miami and NYC. Most of these families will never see each other again.

What is unfortunate, unlike Spielberg’s name on the film, it will never been seen by most. It has terrific acting, with cameos from Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murry as the writer (interjecting about the absurdity that is going on), and a brilliant fictional story with historical overtones, its worth seeing in the way Schindler’s List is worth seeing. It doesn’t glorify Che, the way he is now seen on bumper stickers, shirts, etc. It shows Che for what he was and neither him nor Fidel walk away with clean hands. Che is said to have murdered a good 2000 people – which makes one wonder. For those wearing his shirt, I always wondered, did they take the time to read into Che and stop looking at him as a hero.

Unfortunately Cuba is not the only country to have gone through this revolution. Bolivia also had a similar revolution. So did most of Latin America at some point. History does repeat itself unfortunately, and maybe one day people will start to learn about Latin America and what really goes on.

So, if you have the opportunity to see this, please do! And if you have a chance listen to the commentary, and read what the actors had to say about filming this movie. It had an impact on everyone and knowing how it inspired these actors inspired me to start re-reading about some of the brilliant artists, poets and writers from Cuba. Marti was a brilliant poet. And there are so many others to name.

The Prestige –
The Prestige is the new film from Christopher Nolan (who might be best known for Memento). Like, The Illusionist, its another story about magic. But the two are very different films, and each one is definitely worth seeing. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are the two main characters in this movie, about two magicians that are trying to one-up another.The story is very captivating and the acting is great. Aside from Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are Michael Caine, David Bowie and Scarlett Johannson. Bowie plays the inventor Tesla who is very important to the movie and helping with magic that is incredible. Each character takes magic to a whole new level paying absurd prices in life with their choices.This movie is so worth seeing at least once, if not twice. I am sure the second time you will see things that you undoubtedly missed, as there is a lot to take in. Loverboy-
Kyra Sedgwick is an amazingly talented actress in her husband’s new film. Kevin Bacon’s movies seem to get more and more bizarre in subject matter. In this film Kyra plays Emily a woman obsessed with wanting the most perfect child. Her own childhood, played by parents Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei are so in love with each other, they seem to forget they have a daughter around. So Emily is ignored more often than not, except for a neighborhood mother played by Sandra Bullock (Mrs. Harker), who pulls off the small role beautifully.The film is full of talented actors, and seem to probably have worked with Kevin Bacon at some point in his career (now really, who hasnt anymore). Emily becomes a tad obsessed with her son wanting to be with him every moment of the day, teach him everything. After all he is filled with all the perfectness of the different males who she bedded to get pregnant. The one who actually did get her pregnant was played by Campbell Scott, who is smart, passionate and definitely what she wanted for her son.While Kyra is very talented, and the boy who plays her son Dominic Scott Kay does an incredible job with his role, the movie leaves you wanting more. There should have been more of her family life, growing up as a kid. You see a few snippets along the way. But at points I wanted to find out more about how life was growing up. Because this movie is downright depressing and incredibly scary, its hard to watch this woman ruin her child’s life and hers. While her parents left her to her own devices, she takes the ultimate turn with smothering a kid. It just felt like more could have been put into the character.
And as quickly as people show up in the film, they are gone just as quickly.

My favorite scene in the movie, was when Emily is listening to David Bowie with Mrs. Harker, commenting how she listens to cool music. Life on Mars perhaps summed up both of their lives.

This movie is worth checking out if only for the great acting. And there are some really stand-out performances.
Marie Antoinette – /
Marie Antoinette has a few things going for it. And I use the words “a few” lightly. For lovers of 80s new wave tracks you can’t go wrong with New Order, Siouxsie, The Cure, Adam Ant or Bow Wow Wow. And for the guys hoping to catch a peek of the lovely Kristen Dunst near naked, check, you get that too (Let me add, there is no full frontal). And the #1 reason to see this movie, VERSAILLES. The name speaks for itself, but for those who have never had a chance to visit, Sofia Coppola was granted permission to film in Versailles. The Hall of Mirrors, Marie Antoinette’s bed, the gardens, etc. are all breath-taking.

Thats about as much of the greatness of Marie Antoinette. I am a fan of Sofia Coppola, and did love “Lost in Translation” as well as “The Virgin Suicides”. The story which follows Marie Antoinette’s life from the age of 15 when she was married to Louis XVI (played by Sofia’s cousin, the ever-talented Jason Schwartzman) to the age of 19 when she becomes Queen of France. She immediately has problems with Louis XVI in the sex department, and everyone warns her she must have an heir to the crown. Well, she figures, if she won’t do well in that department, she might as well shop, and spend, spend, spend! And that’s exactly what she does. From outrageous hair pieces, to gorgeous shoes, and more shoes, to designer dresses, she does it all. Thusly becoming known as the Queen of Debt. The movie has moments of entertainment, watching the parties, all the food, but it dies off quickly. The fun is soon boring and you just want to get on with the movie. You do see her becoming Queen, and raising her children, and then we’re at the storming of the Bastille. Her much famous beheading is nowhere to be seen, and it ends with the familiy leaving Versailles with the last shot of it being destroyed.

Before seeing it, i had heard of all the backlash at Cannes. And the French booing and leaving. New York audiences aren’t much nicer. While a few people appplauded the movie, most of us stood there with our mouths hanging open, or booed. The story went nowhere and unfortunately music cannot save a movie. While it certainly helps, there is no way anyone should pay full price to see this. At a running time of 2 hours, I am thinking if you cut out a few of her scenes of extravagance (you do get the point pretty quickly), and cut it down to a mere 90mins. it might have been more entertaining. And sadly I learned nothing much about Marie Antoinette. If girls just wanna have fun, she clearly showed thats what life was about.

The Illusionist –
The Illusionist is so worth seeing in theaters, that I can’t figure out why I didn’t see it for so long. Everyone has raved about it, with nothing but praise. Edward Norton plays the title character, Eisenheim, The Illusionist. He is a performer in every sense of the word. He engages his audience and performs incredible tricks. These are more than your average magic tricks, he creates an orange tree before our very eyes.

Eisenheim fell in love with a woman named Sophie growing up in Austria. Unlike Marie Antoinette, accents are actually used in this movie. Of course, the love can’t happen because Sophie is from a higher social class, while Eisenheim is of a low-level. He loses his love at a young age, and 15 years later finds her again. Of course, this time Sophie is to be married to the Crown Prince of Vienna. Hot on Eisenheim’s trail, following his every movie is Inspector Ule, played by Paul Giamatti. He is trying to learn all the secrets of magic, as well as solve a few crimes mixed between. Magic, murder, mystery and love.

While the story may be predictable, its a solid gem out there. The acting is terrific – and I’ve always been a huge fan of Edward Norton and the under-rated Paul Giammati. Jessica Biel holds her own, but does not have a huge role in the movie. At least her accent seems authentic. Engaging, great story that will hold your attention through out the movie.

Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots is based on a true story. I saw this on DVD, so I was fortunate to see some of the cool things of the film. The making of the shoes is pretty cool, as it goes through the factory and all the steps that go into making a shoe. And it’s very interesting to hear about the real-life shoe factory this was based on.

Kinky Boots is the story of Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) and how he was put in the place of taking over his father’s shoe factory, which had been around for at least a century. Charlie never even considered going into the business, but was ready to move to London before he learned he had to return home Charlie soon learns that the factory is not actually surviving and its been losing money. One night out Charlie meets Lola (played by the ever-talented Chiwetel Ejiofor, who captures Lola brililantly), who will become his muse (in a manner of speaking). Lola is a cross-dresser and wears women’s boots when performing on stage. And as men are built much differently than women, the boots keep breaking. So Lola and Charlie go to work and become quite the team. Northhampton, England is not used to having a drag queen let alone working with one. A shoe store that used to make sturdy, stable men’s shoes is now faced with a huge turn of events. To stay in business they must change the shoe.

And so we get boots. And these are gorgeous, stylish boots. Thigh high in bright, fabulous colours. Lola first displays a pair of gorgeous red boots (as soon on the movie poster), and soon there is a niche market for boots for drag-queens.

But this is not just a story based on boots. It shows a friendship that at times is trying between Lola and Charlie. Charlie often times wonders why Lola has to be Lola all the time and cant be himself as a guy. As Lola says, while she’s dressed in drag she feels like she can do anything. Charlie is also engaged, and his fiancee is having a hard time with the new change. His fiancee would rather he just sell the store and get on with life. And of course, there is another woman in the picture who works for Charlie.

In the end we are cheering for Charlie and his factory and having the boots take off. It’s a cute, fun movie, and if you have a passion for shoes, especially boots, you will be greatly entertained. And Lola is amazing in drag. Chiwetel Ejiofor has an amazing voice and performs all of his own songs. The dances are fun and for most of us women who cant walk in shoes that high, its fun to imagine that we could be.

The Notrious Bettie Page –
Oh, such a disappointment. I can’t say it was bad, but at the same time I can’t say it was great. Bettie Page was a stunning beauty, pin-up queen of the 50’s and bondage queen, for which she is probably best known for. Gretchen Mol does a good job playing her, but she just couldn’t hold a candle to her beauty. As far as biopics go, you may learn a thing or two, and it loosely follows her, but there is so much more missing. And yes, I just read up on her, because I felt more needed to be known.

You are vaguely introduced to her family, and implied that her father beat her. Actually she was molested by him. She went to SF before NYC and modeled there, but you’d never know that. While I don’t expect biopics to follow anyone’s entire story, when it leaves out so much, or just gives you a brief glimpse, there’s either the wonder of why even mention it or please give us more.

You do get to see Bettie Page emerging as the pinup girl and how she gets involved in the bondage pictures, which are more often funny than to be taken seriously. Bettie herself referred to everything as props and having fun. From her first experience with very high-heels, of learning how to walk in them, along with the boots, which apparently were made much better than today’s boots (please note: the boots in kinky boots are much nicer and better made; these shoes/boots look straight out of Frederick’s of Hollywood). There is a brief look at the Kefauver hearings, and I wish it had shown more of what actually happened. The film is interspersed between black & white and color. The black & white always showing NYC and her hometown, and the technicolor the heaven known as Florida. Where the water was so crystal clear, and she did a lot of nude photos. And as quickly as we see her, she’s gone – giving herself to Jesus and being re-born.

Its definitely worth a look as she was definitely someone very intriguing, but if you do end up liking what you see, you will inevitably want to read and learn a lot more. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. To be noted, the film is mostly done by women which is definitely a nice change, who didn’t completely sex up the movie. And the supporting cast, including the VERY talented Lili Taylor add to the film.

Little Manhattan –
This is a great gem of a movie. It’s currently on HBO for those that have it. And its easily worth full price. For those of us that don’t remember our first love, first heartache, this movie will take you back to those days. Filmed in NYC on the Upper West Side, for the most part a radius of 9 blocks, it follows the story of Gabe. Gabe, who begins the movie nicely talking about girls having ‘cooties’ and having the best days of his life at age 11, playing basketball with friends, video games and hanging out, decides he must take karate lessons. There he reunites with his kindergarten friend Rosemary whom he will eventually fall in love with.

The pitfalls of love, from whether or not to hold her hand, when he should kiss her, is pretty comical. At times it reminds one of Woody Allen and all of his neuroses. But Gabe is a cute kid, who is analyzing everything along with watching his parents separation. His parents played by Cynthia Nixon and Bradley Whitford are great.

This is a fun movie that will definitely take you back to your childhood days. And for lovers of NYC the locations are amazing. As Gabe says while walking through Central Park ‘This is my Central Park. This is my city’. He couldn’t have summed it up better. He gives an amazing tour of Central Park on his first “date” with Rosemary, and shows her the other great parts of the city. Be ready to laugh, cry and just remember what a remarkable time that was.


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