Category Archives: Rent It Tonight

Movie Review: Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (B+) is an audacious piece of revisionist history that imagines what WWII might have been like if a couple of clever factions of bounty hunters, cinephiles and revenge seekers could have tried to kill Hitler at a movie screening. Leave it to Tarantino to take such a high-concept idea to such delicious detail and cast his film with such relish, especially with Christoph Waltz as a particularly menacing Nazi officer and Brad Pitt as a motormouthed mercenary. Some moments are uneven, but overall, this one hits the mark.

Movie Review: District 9 (2009)

Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 (B+) is an amazing hybrid science fiction action film and part dramatic mockumentary that chronicles the ghettoization of alien life forms in Johannesburg. Sharlto Copley holds together most of the scenes with human interactions, spliced with news footage and a series of interviews as illegal experiments are exposed and as a battle ensues. It’s an intriguing metaphor for Apartheid and a whole new way of making an alien movie.

Movie Review: Star Trek (2009)

J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek (A-) is a spectacular reboot of the classic franchise with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto stepping in nicely as Kirk and Spock, respectively. We step back to Starfleet Academy and origin stories and now have a parallel path wormhole device so that new installments can exist in their own universe. On top of the thrilling warp speed action, there was massively funny humor, especially as the chief protagonists both romance Uhura (Zoe Saldona).

Movie Review: Up (2009)

Pete Docter’s Up (A-) is a lovely animated film that peaks in its first ten minutes but then opens up to a variety of rich vistas of imagination. The story of an old man and a kid who drift off in a helium balloon bouquet propelled house to a magical world is a true original. I could have done without the talking dogs and some of the stock villains, but it was mostly gorgeous and moving.

Movie Review: Up in the Air (2009)

In Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air (A+), George Clooney gets his perfect role: a bit of a Br’er Rabbit of the friendly skies. As a job axman on the frequent flier circuit, he falls to earth when paired with spunky Anna Kendrick and affaired with sultry Vera Farmiga. It’s an acerbic, moving film that flawlessly captures the tone of a nation in economic recovery.

Movie Review: A Single Man (2009)

Latest Oscar bait update: Colin Firth is heartbreaking as a man grieving the loss of a lover in A Single Man (A-). In his directorial debut, fashion designer Tom Ford tailors a great character study similar in texture to Gods & Monsters. I finally see why Firth has such a following, and one of my faves Julianne Moore has a wonderful small part.

Movie Review: The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Rebooting the legend after Ang Lee’s esoteric flop five year before, Louis Letterier’s The Incredible Hulk (B) reminds viewers from the opening frames that this is an action movie, pure and simple. A parkeur-style chase across rooftops is just the beginning as the film winds through a global adventure wuth Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/THe Hulk in full enraged scientist mode. Liv Tyler and Tim Roth provide ample support for this solid action film that brings Hulk closer into the Marvel canon in time for Avengers activity.

Movie Review: Milk (2008)

Gus Van Sant’s Milk (A) is a stirring biopic, faithfully recreating a San Francisco of the 1970’s and, as embodied by Sean Penn, giving a star turn of an American hero in Harvey Milk. The film blends personal and political triumphs, with a touching performance by James Franco as Milk’s love interest. The sometimes avant garde Van Sant minimizes his grittier aesthetic for a wide canvas Hollywood epic, and the result is a soaring triumph.

Movie Review: The Dark Knight (2008)

Buoyed by a brilliant performance by Heath Ledger as criminal mastermind The Joker, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (B) is a complex superhero movie that posits that people dressed as bats and harlequins could really be in the realm of political theater and then asks what would happen if they were. The addition of Aaron Eckhart as Two Face, a villain #2, causes Christian Bale’s hero to recede a bit from prominence, and that always hurts a Batman movie in my book. The political machinations are also not quite as interesting as Nolan would like to believe. Still, it’s a pretty good drama that just happens to be a superhero movie. The part of Katie Holmes is now played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, and I still don’t know what that character does.

Movie Review: Slumdog Millionare (2008)


Danny Boyle’s India-set Slumdog Millionaire (A) is an adult fairy tale with elements of magical realism that shows how fate and fortune weave their way into our lives for our own version of happily ever after. As the boy (Dev Patel) who wants to get the girl (Freida Pinto) struggles through poverty, cross-country adventures and ultimately a game show that conjures up his life’s learnings, the brilliant bright-colored cinematography and A.R. Rahman’s propulsive score fuel an absolutely delightful story that will hook you in to its spell. This is an accomplished piece of cinema that will speak to people from many backgrounds around the globe.

Movie Review: Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona (B+) is the latest in the writer/director’s European travelogue in which a Spaniard (Javier Bardem) proposes a three-way to two lovely travelers (Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson), and then they all encounter his former wife (Penélope Cruz). Alternately ambiguous and enchanting, the film is full of comedy and rich characters, with everyone at the top of their game.

Movie Review: Stardust (2007)

stardustMatthew Vaughn’s Stardust (B+) is a whimsical adventure in the tradition of The Princess Bride. Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes and Robert DeNiro are standouts in this fantasy about getting over the walls that block our way to our dreams. Witches, pirates, unicorns, voodoo dolls and so much more are part of the journey ahead. This is a pleasant surprise of a movie that nobody seemed to see in theatres but that has enchanted folks who have seen it.