REVIEW: MEMENTO

CAST

Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Mark Boone Junior (Batman Begins)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Thomas Lennon (Santa Clarita Diet)
Callum Keith Rennie (Californication)

The film starts with the Polaroid photograph of a dead man. As the sequence plays backwards the photo reverts to its undeveloped state, entering the camera before the man is shot in the head. The film then continues, alternating between black and white and color sequences.The black and white sequences begin with Leonard Shelby, an insurance investigator, in a motel room speaking to an unseen and unknown caller. Leonard has anterograde amnesia and is unable to store recent memories, the result of an attack by two men. Leonard explains that he killed the attacker who raped and strangled his wife, but a second clubbed him and escaped. The police did not accept that there was a second attacker, but Leonard believes the attacker’s name is John or James, with a last name starting with G. Leonard conducts his own investigation using a system of notes, Polaroids, and tattoos. From his occupation, Leonard recalls a fellow anterograde amnesiac: Sammy Jankis. Sammy’s diabetic wife, who wasn’t sure if his condition was genuine, repeatedly requested insulin; she hoped that he would remember having given her an injection and stop himself from giving another before she died of an overdose. However, Sammy continues to administer the injections, and his wife falls into a fatal coma.The color sequences are shown reverse-chronologically. In the story’s chronology, Leonard self-directively gets a tattoo of John G’s license plate. Finding a note in his clothes, he meets Natalie, a bartender who resents Leonard as he wears the clothes and drives the car of her boyfriend, Jimmy Grantz. After understanding his condition, she uses it to get Leonard to drive a man named Dodd out of town and offers to run the license plate as a favor. Meanwhile, Leonard meets with a contact, Teddy, who helps with Dodd, but warns about Natalie. However, a photograph instigates Leonard not to trust him. Natalie provides Leonard the driver’s license for a John Edward Gammell, Teddy’s full name. Confirming Leonard’s information on “John G” and his warnings, Leonard drives Teddy to an abandoned building, leading to the opening, where he shoots him.In the final black-and-white sequence, prompted by the caller, Leonard meets with Teddy, an undercover officer, who has found Leonard’s “John G,” Jimmy, and directs Leonard to the abandoned building. When Jimmy arrives, Leonard strangles him and takes a photo of the body. As it develops, the black-and-white transitions to the final color sequence. Leonard swaps clothes with Jimmy, hearing him whisper “Sammy.” As Leonard has only told Sammy’s story to those met, he suddenly doubts Jimmy’s role. Teddy arrives and asserts that Jimmy was John G, but when Leonard is undeterred, Teddy reveals that he helped him kill the real attacker a year ago, and he has been using Leonard ever since. Teddy points out that since “John G” is common, he will cyclically forget and begin again and that even Teddy himself has a “John G” name. Further, Teddy claims that Sammy’s story is Leonard’s himself, repressing the memory to escape guilt.After hearing Teddy’s exposition, Leonard consciously burns Jimmy’s photograph, writes a message to himself on Teddy’s photograph not to trust Teddy, and drives off in Jimmy’s car. He has Teddy’s license plate number tattooed as the second attacker, leading to his eventual death.This film will leave its own memento on your mind, and you’ll have a hard time forgetting how much you enjoyed it.

 

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REVIEW: THE LORAX

CAST

Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
Ed Helms (The Hangover)
Zac Efron (Bad Neighbors)
Taylor Swift (The Giver)
Betty White (The GOlden Girls)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Jenny Slate (The Lego Batman Movie)
Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Heores)
Elmarie Wendel (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Danny Cooksey (The Cavanaughs)

Ted Wiggins is an idealistic boy, who lives in Thneedville, a walled city that, aside from the human citizens, is completely artificial; everything is made of plastic, metal, or synthetics with no living plants. Ted has a crush on local environmentalist Audrey, who wants to see a “real tree” more than anything in the world, and decides to find one in order to impress her. His energetic Grammy Norma secretly tells Ted the legend of the Once-ler, who will tell anyone about trees if they brought him fifteen cents, a nail, and a shell of a great-great-great grandfather snail. When Ted leaves Thneedville in search of the Once-ler, he discovers that the outside world is a contaminated, empty, barren wasteland. Once the boy finds him, the Once-ler agrees to tell Ted about the trees on the condition that he listens to the story over multiple visits. Ted agrees, but on his way home, he encounters the mayor of Thneedville, Aloysius O’Hare, who is also the proprietor of a company that sells bottled oxygen to Thneedville residents. O’Hare explains to Ted that because trees produce oxygen free of charge, he considers it a threat to his business whenever he hears people talking about them. After revealing that he has “security camera eyes” all over the city, O’Hare pressures Ted to stay in town. However, Ted continues to sneak out of O’Hare’s sight (with his grandmother’s encouragement) and learns more of the trees’ history.Over Ted’s various visits, the Once-ler recounts the story that when he was a young man, he departed his family to find good material for his Thneed invention and make a business. The Once-ler meets the guardian of the forest, the Lorax, after cutting down a Truffula tree in a lush Truffula tree forest valley. The Lorax urges the Once-ler to leave the forest, but the Once-ler refuses. Eventually, the Once-ler promises not to chop another tree down, and the two seem to begin a friendship of sorts. Then, the young businessman’s Thneed invention becomes a major success and the Once-ler’s family arrives to participate in the business. At first keeping his promise, the Once-ler continues Thneed production by harvesting the Truffula tree tufts in a slow, but sustainable manner. However, his greedy and lazy relatives soon convince him to resume chopping down the trees. Over time, the Once-ler’s deforestation spirals into a mass overproduction. Flushed with wealth, the Once-ler rationalizes his short-sighted needs into arrogant self-righteousness, and the Lorax’s helpless protests do not stop him. The Once-ler pollutes the sky, river, and landscape, until the very last Truffula Tree falls. With no further chance of business, he is left broken and abandoned by his family, with his mother disowning him, and with the region uninhabitable because of his business’s pollution, the Lorax sends the animals off to find a new place to live before he departs into the sky, leaving only a stone-cut word: “Unless”. Distraught and ruined, the Once-ler becomes a recluse.After he finishes telling his story, the Once-ler finally understands the meaning behind the Lorax’s last message, and gives Ted the last Truffula seed in hopes that he can plant it and make others care about real trees once more. Ted’s desire to impress Audrey also becomes a personal mission to remind his town of the importance of nature. O’Hare, still determined not to have trees undermine his business, takes heavy-handed steps such as covering Audrey’s nature paintings, closing off the door that Ted uses to see the Once-ler, and forcibly searching Ted’s room for the seed. Ted enlists his family and Audrey to help plant the seed, which has begun to germinate after water was accidentally spilled on it. O’Hare and his employees pursue the dissidents until they manage to elude him and reach the town center. When Ted finally attempts to plant the seed, he is interrupted by O’Hare, who rallies the population to stop them by telling the people that trees are dangerous and filthy. To convince them otherwise, Ted takes an earthmover and rams down a section of the city wall to reveal the environmental destruction outside, thereby showing them what O’Hare is encouraging. Horrified at the sight and inspired by Ted’s conviction (as though a part of the Lorax is within him), the crowd turns against O’Hare when they discover his true nature, with his own henchmen expelling him from the town (with a jet pack-like helmet), and the seed is finally planted. Time passes and the land starts to recover; new trees sprout, the animals begin to return, and the redeemed, now-mustached Once-ler happily reunites with the Lorax.Loved it, great animation, great for kids and entertaining for adults. Good all round.

REVIEW: GROUNDHOG DAY

CAST

Bill Murray (Ghostbusters)
Andie MacDowell (Hudson Hawk)
Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Heroes)
Brian Doyle-Murray (Wayne’s World)
Angela Paton (Dirty Harry)
Rick Ducommun (Die Hard)
Rick Overton (Willow)
Robin Duke (Ruby Gloom)
Marita Geraghty (No Mercy)
Harold Ramis (Stripes)
Willie Garson (Kingpin)
Hynden Walch (Jerry Maguire)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)

During his nightly TV weather forecast on February 1, weatherman Phil Connors confidently reassures Pittsburgh viewers that an approaching winter storm will miss western Pennsylvania completely. He then sets off with news producer Rita Hanson and cameraman Larry for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the next morning’s Groundhog Day festivities. Phil makes no secret of his contempt for the assignment, the small town, and the “hicks” who live there.On February 2, Phil awakens at his Punxsutawney bed and breakfast to Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” on the clock radio and the declaration, “It’s Groundhog Day!” He tapes a half-hearted report on Punxsutawney Phil and the town’s festivities. Rita wants to stay and cover some of the other events, but Phil wants to return to Pittsburgh immediately. The blizzard—the one that Phil predicted would miss the area—resolves the issue by blanketing the region in snow, stranding them in Punxsutawney. Phil shuns the celebrations and retires to bed early.Phil wakes to “I Got You Babe” and the same announcement from the radio, and soon discovers the day’s events repeating exactly as before. Thinking it is a bad dream, Phil relives the day and returns to bed, only to discover when he wakes, it is still Groundhog Day. He finds he is trapped in a time loop that no one else is seemingly aware of. Phil realizes there are no consequences for his actions, and spends the first several loops in rambunctious behavior, such as binge drinking, one-night stands, and reckless driving. However, Phil soon becomes depressed being stuck in the loop, leading to him to find ways to commit suicide to end the loop, including electrocuting himself with a toaster in a bathtub, and stealing Punxsutawney Phil and driving off a cliff. Even with his apparent deaths, he still wakes up to “I Got You Babe” on February 2.Phil tries to explain his situation to Rita, for whom he has feelings. To demonstrate his plight to Rita, he points out all the trivial actions of the various townsfolk he has memorized due to being stuck in the loop. Rita takes sympathy and they spend the entirety of one loop together, ending up falling asleep on Phil’s bed that night. However, Phil still wakes up alone at the start of February 2. He decides to use his knowledge of the day’s events to try to better himself and the lives of the townsfolks. Over many loops, he learns how to play the piano, sculpt ice, and speak French. After finding himself unable to prevent the death of a homeless man over several loops, he starts to arrange his actions throughout the day to avert similar accidents and disastrous situations that otherwise would have occurred to the other Punxsutawney residents.Ultimately, on one loop, Phil eagerly attends the Groundhog Day festivities, and gives a very eloquent report that causes all of the other news-stations to turn their cameras to him, amazing Rita. Phil and Rita spend the rest of the day together, with Phil impressing her with his apparent overnight transformation through his contributions to the festivities and helpful nature to the townsfolk. That evening at the town’s Groundhog Day dinner-dance, she “wins” Phil with the high bid at the charity bachelor auction. Phil makes a beautiful snow sculpture of Rita’s face, and tells her that no matter what happens, even if he is doomed to continue awakening alone each morning forever, he wants her to know that he is finally happy, because he loves her. They retire together to Phil’s lodgings.Phil wakes to “I Got You Babe” again, but finds Rita is still in bed with him, and Punxsutawney covered in a fresh blanket of snow; it is February 3 and he has been able to escape the time loop. As they walk out together and marvel at the peaceful, beautiful town, Phil comments to Rita that they should live there—but will rent to start.This is one of the pillars of the cinematic history. It’s perfect in every way, and, obviously can be watched over and over again. Great fun and good feelings for both grown ups and young.

REVIEW: SPACEBALLS

CAST

Bill Pullman (Independance Day)
John Candy (Uncle Buck)
Daphne Zuniga (The Fly II)
Joan Rivers (Shrek 2)
Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein)
Rick Moranis (Ghostbusters)
Dick Van Patten (Cannon)
George Wyner (American Pie 2)
Leslie Bevis (Alien Nation)
Dom DeLuise (Cannonball Run II)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Tony Cox (Bad Santa)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Phil Hartman (The Simpsons)
Micharl York (Logans Run)

Planet Spaceball, led by the incompetent President Skroob, has wasted all of its fresh air. Skroob schemes to force King Roland of the neighboring planet Druidia to give them their air by kidnapping his daughter Princess Vespa on the day of her pre-arranged wedding to the narcoleptic Prince Valium. Skroob sends the villainous Dark Helmet to complete this task with Spaceball One, an impossibly huge ship helmed by Colonel Sandurz. Before they can arrive, Vespa abandons her wedding and flees the planet in her Mercedes spaceship with her droid of honor, Dot Matrix.
Roland contacts mercenary Lone Starr and his mawg (half-man, half-dog) sidekick Barf, offering a lucrative reward to retrieve Vespa before she is captured. Lone Starr readily accepts, as he is in major debt with the gangster Pizza the Hutt. In their Winnebago space ship the Eagle 5, Starr and Barf are able to reach Vespa before Spaceball One, rescue both her and Dot, then escape. Spaceball One tries to follow, but Helmet foolishly orders the ship to “ludicrous speed,” causing it to overshoot the escapees.
Out of fuel, Lone Starr is forced to crash-land on the nearby “desert moon of Vega”. The escapees travel on foot in blazing sun and pass out. They are found by the Dinks, a group of diminutive red-clad aliens, and are taken to a cave occupied by Yogurt, who is old and wise. Yogurt introduces Lone Starr to “The Schwartz”, a metaphysical power similar to the Force. Yogurt also introduces the audience to the film’s merchandising campaign. Starr and Vespa begin to flirt, but Vespa insists she can only be married to a prince.
Helmet and Sandurz break the fourth wall by using a VHS copy of the film to discover Vespa’s location, and Helmet orders Spaceball One to the moon. The Spaceballs capture Vespa and Dot, and return with them to planet Spaceball. Their captors threaten to reverse Vespa’s nose job, forcing Roland to give over the code to the shield that protects Druidia. Helmet and Sandurz take Spaceball One to Druidia, where they transform the ship into Mega Maid, a giant robotic maid with a vacuum cleaner that begins sucking the air from the planet. Lone Starr and Barf rescue Vespa and Dot from captivity, and then race to Druidia. When the vacuum bag is almost full, Lone Starr is able to use the Schwartz to reverse the robot’s sucking action, returning the air to the planet.
Once the air is successfully returned to the planet, Lone Starr and his allies enter the Mega Maid to attempt to destroy it. Lone Starr is forced to fight Helmet with lightsaber-like “Schwartz rings” near the ship’s self-destruct button. Lone Starr manages to defeat Helmet, causing him to involuntarily strike the button. Lone Starr and his friends escape the ship, while Skroob, Helmet, and Sandurz fail to reach any escape pods in time. Trapped in the robot’s head as the ship explodes, they land on a nearby planet, much to the regret of its Planet of the Apes-like population.
With Lone Starr’s debt to Pizza nullified by the gangster’s untimely death, he returns Vespa to Roland and leaves, taking only enough money to cover his expenses. After a lunch break at a diner and a strange incident involving an alien and an astronaut, Lone Starr finds a final message from Yogurt informing him that he is a prince and thus eligible to marry Vespa. He manages to reach Druidia in time to stop her wedding to Valium, announces his royal lineage, then marries Vespa.Spaceballs is seriously just a great comedy, I guarantee you that you will have a good laugh by watching this film. Every scene is just so funny, I highly recommend Spaceballs for anyone, please see this film, you won’t regret it.

REVIEW: MIRROR MIRROR (1990)

CAST

Karen Black (House of 1000 Corpses)
Yvonne De Carlo (Criss Cross)
William Sanderson (Blade Runner)
Rainbow Harvest (Earth Angel)
Kristin Dattilo (Intolerable Cruelty)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Heroes)

Megan Gordon (Rainbow Harvest) is a shy Goth girl who moves into a new neighborhood from Los Angeles with her recently widowed mother Susan (Karen Black). In her new school, Megan does not make friends, and is taunted mercilessly by her peers, apart from Nikki Chandler (Kristin Dattilo) and handsome jock Ron (Ricky Paull Goldin). On moving into her new home, Megan finds an antique framed mirror in her room which belonged to the original owners of the house, and despite an attempt to remove it from the house, it mysteriously appears back in place.
Slowly, Megan comes to realize that the mirror can grant her special powers, enabling her to have vengeance on her tormentors. However, the antiques dealer (Yvonne De Carlo) who was in charge of the house clearance finds an old diary that holds the ominous secret of the mirror’s past: It describes how the mirror is possessed by a demonic force within it, which has the power to grant requests at a deadly price…and the fate of the previous owner’s sister. As it begins to give Megan the ability to take her revenge on her persecutors, she slowly becomes dependent on the mirror, and soon it takes her over. As the death toll mounts, both Megan’s enemies and her friends suffer as the demonic force reaches out and grows in strength. Armed only with a dagger and a vague knowledge of how the demonic mirror can be stopped, Nikki sets out to confront Megan and her mirror, before it is too late.Overall, “Mirror Mirror” is a well-made snapshot of late eighties-early nineties teen horror that is entertaining and thoughtfully made. While it lacks originality and could be heavier on stylistic flair, I appreciated the film as a time capsule for an in-between era of the horror genre as it transitioned from the celebrated eighties slasher to the onslaught of a nineties new wave.

REVIEW: LITTLE BLACK BOOK

CAST

Brittany Murphy (Sin City)
Holly Hunter (Batman v Superman)
Rob Livingston (The Conjuring)
Julianne Nicholson (Kinsey)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)
Rashida Jones (The Muppets)
Yvette Nicole Brown (Community)

Stacy Holt (Brittany Murphy), an associate producer on a daytime talk show (syndicated out of Trenton, New Jersey), is convinced that her boyfriend Derek (Ron Livingston) is the right man for her, though he has an apparent phobia of commitment, and he’s vague about his past relationships. Taking the advice of colleague Barb (Holly Hunter), she looks at his Palm Tungsten C and its record of the names and numbers of three ex-girlfriends: a French supermodel (Josie Maran); a gynecologist (Rashida Jones); and a cook (Julianne Nicholson).She sets up an interview with each woman, in an attempt to learn more about and get closer to Derek. However, Stacy’s plan suffers a setback when she develops a friendship with one of the women. Stacy is eventually betrayed by Barb when Stacy, Derek and the ex-girlfriends are brought together on stage for a live broadcast during sweeps season. During the show, Stacy comes to the realization that she is not the right one for Derek and lets him go. On the way out, Stacy is met by Barb, who is clearly out of her mind. Barb tells Stacy that her actions were not premeditated, goes on to call the “event” a masterpiece and says that she hopes Stacy will one day understand that she got what she wanted: her life back. With a live camera behind her, Stacy responds with, “I should tear your eyes out right now. But how will you be able to look at yourself in the morning?”, which the audience cheers on. Stacy then departs from the studio as the camera stays on a humiliated BarbIn the end, Stacy winds up earning her dream job working for Diane Sawyer and meets her idol, Carly Simon.Its definitely a different concept for a film classified as a romantic comedy. Highly unpredictable, and this only adds to its charm. For those of you who are anticipating a typical romantic comedy, prepare to be shocked. It is a feel good movie with a strange twist. Brittany Murphy is very funny in this role, despite having some bad reviews, but she is perfect for this role. Kathy Bates is wonderful as usual, as is Holly Hunter. Definately a film for those who want a laugh.

REVIEW: MISS CONGENIALITY 2: ARMED AND FABULOUS

CAST

Sandra Bullock (Heat)
Regina King (The Big Bang Theory)
Enrique Murciano (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
William Shatner (Star Trek)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Heather Burns (Two Weeks Notice)
Diedrich Bader (Vampires Suck)
Treat Williams (Deep Rising)
Abraham Benrubi (Buffy)
Elisabeth Rohm (Joy)
Leslie Grossman (Popular)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Heroes)
Katie Finneran (Wonderfalls)

Three weeks after the events of the first film, FBI agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) has become a celebrity after she infiltrated a beauty pageant on her last assignment. Her fame results in her cover being blown while she is trying to prevent a bank heist.

To capitalize on the publicity, the FBI decide to make Gracie the new “face” of the FBI; Gracie, who is hurt after being dumped by her boyfriend, fellow Agent Eric Matthews (who is relocated to Miami), agrees to the reassignment. Ten months later, she begins appearing on morning television giving out fashion advice and promoting her book.

However, when Cheryl (Miss United States, played by Heather Burns), and Gracie’s friend Stan Fields (William Shatner) are kidnapped in Las Vegas, Gracie is prompted to return to her old ways. She goes undercover to try to rescue Cheryl and Stan accompanied by her bodyguard Sam Fuller (Regina King), whom she despises. This puts her at odds with the FBI, as they are unwilling to lose their mascot and are unsure if she’s still up to the tasks. Brian Cosford (Ross Adam), Gracie’s closest confidant help assure her that she is still “armed and fabulous.”Regina King is terrific as the partner/antagonist and Diedrich Bader hams it up convincingly as an over-the-top style guru (the successor to the character played brilliantly by Michael Caine in the first movie). But most of the truly hilarious moments are down to William Shatner. Sandra Bullock is at her most daring comedic genius.