ARIZONA REPORTER



You are currently viewing the January 2009 Edition of Arizona Reporter
By Harvey Karten (AZR) - George Bernard Shaw said that "Youth is wasted on the young," while Mark Twain added, "It's a pity the best part of life comes at the beginning and the worst part at the end." How true. And how fortunate that a couple of quotes like these can prod a writer to wrack his brain to conjure up a tale of vivid imagination.

Paramount Pictures (domestic)/ Warner Bros. (foreign)
Reviewed for Arizona Reporter by Harvey Karten
Grade: B
Directed by: David Fincher
Written By: Eric Roth, from his story and Robin Swicord's based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald story (available on the Internet)
Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Elle Fanning, Jason Flemyng, Julia Osmond, Elias Koteas, Taraji P. Henson

Movie Reviews
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

By Harvey Karten (AZR) - "Trainspotting" director Danny Boyle's rag-to-riches tale, tracking the trials and tribulations of a pair of Mumbai slum-dwellers—one of whom taken in by the gangster world while the other tries his hand at "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire—is an epic tale both in the strict use of the term as a story of a family's progress and as a major undertaking worthy of film awards. It's a sprawling story that benefits from cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantell's capturing of the incessant movement sand boundless energy in the largest city on the South Asian continent, while taking advantage of a group of performers whose amazing yarns do not challenge audience credibility. We receive a tension-filled account that crosses genres of gangster movie, comedy, and romance. Charles Dickens would be more than happy with the Danny Boyle's superb product, which benefits from Simon Beaufoy's rich screenplay adapted from Vikas Swarup's novel "Q&A."

Fox Searchlight/ Warner Bros.
Reviewed for Arizona Reporter by Harvey Karten
Grade: A-
Directed by: Danny Boyle, co-directed by Loveleen Tandan
Written By: Simon Beaufoy from Vikas Swarup's novel "Q&A"
Cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan

Movie Reviews
VALKYRIE

By Harvey Karten (AZR) - Should Claus von Stauffenberg be considered a hero because he led one of the fifteen attempts to assassinate Hitler? That depends on your system of ethics. One school believes that what counts in determining people's ethics is their motivation. Why are they doing what they are doing? Another school believes that what counts is WHAT people choose to do regardless of their motives in doing so. Those who hold to the latter idea may consider actions heroic in that they serve a rightful purpose: to rid the world of a psychotic monstrosity. The former, though, asks: Did Stauffenberg engage in the assassination plot because he considered Hitler's genocidal beliefs to be immoral—that such events as the Holocaust and the insane rush to conquer Europe and the Soviet Union are morally off the charts? Or, as is more likely (though not deeply probed by Bryan Singer's film), did Stauffenberg and his followers commit themselves to the assassination plot only because Germany was losing the war?

MGM
Reviewed for Arizona Reporter by Harvey Karten
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Written By: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander
Cast: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Thomas Krestchmann, Terence Stamp, Eddie Izzard

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In Our Last Issue

  • WAKING SLEEPING BEAUTY

    The year 2008 was a rough one in American finance-recession, job losses, pessimism, a loss in the stock market to such an extent that most investors who did not sell when the selling was good lost half their Wall Street wealth. Those with little faith in the future sold out when the market was at the bottom, while the optimists correctly guessed that in the good old American way, the market would rebound. And it did with a vengeance. In the same way, there's nothing more heartening than a tale of a person suffering loss, whether of a romantic partner or otherwise, then recovering what was swept away. Such a person would have a keener appreciation of what he now has.
  • Remember Me - A Romantic, Angst-Rdden Film

    By Susan Granger - Astute minds are guiding Robert Pattinson's career. Segueing from his vampire role in the "Twilight" franchise, he's transitioned into tortured, misunderstood young man mode.

    In the summer of 2001, moody, rebellious Tyler Hawkins (Pattinson) is still haunted by the fact that his idolized older brother committed suicide on his 22nd birthday, a tragedy that split his wealthy Park Avenue family. While Tyler has reached an understanding with his now re-married mother, Diane Hirsch (Lena Olin), and adores his 11 year-old sister Caroline (Ruby Jerins), he's still at odds with his frosty, Wall Street lawyer father, Charles Hawkins (Pierce Brosnan). In fact, 21 year-old Tyler's only friend seems to be his loud, obnoxious, thoroughly irritating roommate, Aiden (Tate Ellington).
  • Green Zone - Tempting Cynical Wags

    By Susan Granger - If you haven't had enough of the Iraqi War with the Oscar-winning "The Hurt Zone" and are intrigued by re-teaming of director Paul Greengrass with Matt Damon, star of his "Bourne Supremacy" and "Bourne Ultimatum," this political thriller interweaves fact with fiction delving into the chaotic early "shock and awe" days in Baghdad in 2003.
  • MID-AUGUST LUNCH (Pranzo di Ferragosto)

    Girls just want to have fun, sings Cyndi Lauper, and there's no logical reason to believe that "girls" ever outgrow this perfectly human desire. This point is driven home in just a brief seventy-five minutes by Gianni Di Gregorio, who wrote and directed "Mid-August Lunch" (Pranzo di Ferragosto, or "Ferragosto Holiday Lunch" in the Italian title). Using non-professional actors, the first-time director, who takes the major role and inhabits virtually every frame, delivers a witty, charming tale that may be too small-potatoes to afford it a top critical grade but is a diverting piece of pre-prandial entertainment.
  • Review & Trailer: AFTER . LIFE

    If ever a product placement for an industry permeates a movie without the industry's even being mentioned, trust "After.Life" to be a commercial for the cremation business. We witness the gruesome method of one possibly psychotic mortician-how he drains the blood, sews the mouth closed, puts huge needles into the necks of the dead as part of the embalming process, then adds rouge and lipstick to make corpses look as though they were live. All of this is carried on quietly by a calm, seasoned undertaker who has papered the wall of his laboratory with the people he has worked on.
  • Our Family Wedding (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

    They say that when you marry, there are five people in bed with you. Aside from your wife (hopefully) you must make room for your parents and hers. This is realistic. Unless you are an out-and-out individualistic couple who can dismiss the interjections of the people who brought you into the world, you'd do well to have a smooth relationship with the older folks. When you and she come from different ethnic groups within the U.S., your love may last a lifetime, but if the parents and in-laws are more traditional, they may be shocked if you do not "stick to your own kind," as the Greek chorus in "West Side Story" sings.
  • Kimjongilia (Lorber Films)

    If I were asked to choose any country in the world for a trip where all expenses would be paid and would include a guide from a nation that would allow me access everywhere, I'd pick North Korea. This would sound like rank insanity by most of the people living there. After all since North Korea split from the South after both the Soviet Union and the U.S. liberated the entire country from the Japanese in 1945, the North to fall under Soviet communist influence and the South under the U.S., 300,000 people have risked their lives to leave. The reason for my odd ambition? The forbidden fruit. Anybody and his second cousin can travel from the U.S. to London, Paris and Rome, but I'd guess that fewer than 1,000 Americans have ever gone over to the Pyongyang regime to explore the world's most isolated country. This is a region that has no idea what's going in the world except to hear that Americans are evil and that their own state is a workers' paradise. They get no outside TV, no Internet access, at least from what one gathers from N.C. Keiken's documentary, and though Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il is said to have a vast treasury of Hollywood films in his residence, presumably only an elite corps of North Koreans have seen anything made outside their own propaganda mills.
  • MOVIE REVIEW: 'The Secret of Kells' - Stunning!

    By Susan Granger - Few American moviegoers had ever heard of this Irish-French-Belgian co-production until it was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Animated Feature, squeezing out "Ponyo," "Monsters vs. Aliens," "Cloud With a Chance of Meatballs" and "A Christmas Carol." Once you see it, you'll realize why.
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