Frost/Nixon Â (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B
Oscar Watch! Â This one's up for Best Picture and when that news got out, the studio re-released this. Â That means it was out of theaters in Sacramento, but now it's back and playing a couple places. Make sure you don't go see this movie tired; it's definetly a "Talkie." Â It's not the most exciting movie in the world, there aren't twists and turns that keep you interested either. Â The only thing that makes this movie what it is, is the story and the performances. Â Makes sense too considering that it's based on a play. Â The story is about how a British talk-show host, David Frost, bet everything on getting an interview with former disgraced President, Richard Nixon. Â What Frost tried to do was get Nixon to own up to his mistakes and apologize to America for his wrong-doings. Â A story that echoes the sentiments of how many Americans feel about George W. Bush eerily too well. Â The movie is carried by the two main actors. Â Michael Sheen plays Frost and Frank Langella plays Nixon. Â If there is anyone in this year's Oscar race that can give Mickey Rourke a run for the money and SHOULD win over him, it's Frank Langella. Â Sadly the last thing I remember him from playing Skeletor in "Masters of the Universe." Â But Langella is so good in this movie that it's like watching moving art. Â He has lengthy monologues that make you think that you ARE watching Richard Nixon spout his sadness and insecurities. Â What's just as good as Langella's performance is the partnership between director, Ron Howard, and writer, Peter Morgan (who also wrote the play). Â They actually show Nixon as a smart, crafty, selfish and unstable man, but make you feel so bad and sympathetic for him that you may be like me, and have a few tears by the end. Â However, the biggest tragedy with this movie is that Langella will lose Best Actor to Mickey Rourke.
The Wrestler (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: B+
Oscar Watch!Â Eh, who are we kidding; Mickey Rourke has this one in the bag.Â Everyone is calling this his big comeback to acting, but I thought he had that when he starred in "Sin City" a few years ago.Â Of course instead of shooting comic book bad guys, this time he's a professional wrestler who's down on his luck.Â The whole story personifies Rourke's own career which is why director, Darren Aronofsky, said he would only do this movie with him.Â Aronofsky is the director of "Requiem for a Dream," which is one of my favorite movies.Â His approach to "The Wrestler" was totally different though.Â He used handheld camerawork through the whole movie and made it feel almost like a documentary.Â If you get motion sickness, you might want to sit this one out.Â You may also want to sit this one out if you have a weak stomach, considering one scene is gut-wrenching as we see a brutal wrestling match that involves barbed wire, staple guns and razor wire.Â The one thing that I loved about this movie was that it's the first movie in a long time that really was about an anti-hero.Â At no point during this movie do I like Rourke's character of Randy "The Ram" Robinson.Â I feel bad for him, but he's his own worst enemy.Â The only people in his empty life are his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood)Â and a stripper (Marisa Tomei), who is just as lost as him.Â Those two crank out performances that are just as noteworthy as Rourke's.Â In the end, the movie stands up as a really impressive character-driven story.Â However, the film is like "The Ram," it might be its own worst enemy in the respect that the world of Pro Wrestling might be too much for some moviegoers to take, and the main character is so unlikable that you're not hoping he succeeds.
Gran Torino (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: C
Oscar Watch!Â Clint Eastwood was never one of my favorite actors.Â I always thought that a bulk of his work was cliche and hokie.Â However in recent years, he's really impressed me as a filmmaker.Â His performance in this movie doesn't really do much to change my opinion of him being a walking stereotype since he plays an old, grumpy, racist Korean War Vet.Â He even goes as far as yelling "get off my lawn!" at some gang members.Â But what makes this movieÂ decent is the story.Â Classic tale of meeting friends in unlikely places?Â Yeah.Â But it's a little different in its approach.Â Eastwood is a widower that lives in the same house in a crap neighborhood that has economically and demographically changed.Â Living next door are Hmongs.Â When one of them tries to steal his Gran Tornio (which is a classic, bad-ass car) fate intervenes and he makes unlikely friends.Â That's where the movie goes from good to average, even verging on bad at times.Â I don't know who did the casting in this movie, but Ahney Vor and Bee Vang, who play the syblings living next door,Â are some of the worst actors to ever be in a major motion picture.Â Good God!Â If you are cast in a movie directed, produced and staring Clint Eastwood and you're the LEADS...take some acting classes.Â These two are so piss poor that it detached me from their characters and made me wanting the end of the movie to come sooner than the quality of story should allow.Â It's ashame because the best scene in the whole movie is the one where Eastwood is alone.Â It's a shame when you consider how well he conducted "Million Dollar Baby," and its sensitive story.Â Better luck next time, Clint.
Revolutionary Road (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: C
Oscar Watch!Â Awe!Â It's the re-teaming of a dream couple that everyone in the world loves...except for me.Â Yes, it's the first time that Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio did a movie togetherÂ again since "Titanic."Â Don't make me gag.Â But my lack of compassion for something like that is not the reason why I didn't like this movie.Â I didn't care for it because I didn't know what the movie was trying to say.Â It's from director Sam Mendes, who did the great movie "American Beauty."Â Just like that movie, this is also about the not-so-perfect lives of suburban couples and the destruction of dreams by the toils of life, but this time it's set in 1955.Â Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people that needs a movie spelled out for him.Â I like it when movies leave you walking away with whatever message you wanted to get from it, but this left me with nothing.Â I didn't get what the story was trying to convey.Â Was I suppose to feel bad for one of them, both of them or none of them?Â I certainly did feel bad for the men in the movie, since they all suffer from Premature Ejaculation (both sex scenes begin and end in less than a minute.)Â However both of them did the best they could with the script.Â In fact both were really impressive to watch and Winslet got herself a Golden Globe win for it.Â In supporting acting roles are Kathy Bates and the ever-impressive Michael Shannon, who plays her insane son.Â He's only in two scenes, but may steal the movie with them.Â Mendes' attention to detail -Â from the props, to costumes, to the sets, isÂ impressive too.Â The problem with this film lands square on theÂ shoulders of a confused story that leaves the audience feeling the same way.Â Maybe the book was better.
Doubt (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A
Oscar Watch!Â I didn't love this movie just because I love the play, but that was a HUGE reason why.Â As a film, the movie stands up as quality cinema; shocking considered that it was directed by John Patrick Shanley.Â He's the guy who wrote the play but was more famous for directing the opus "Joe Versus The Volcano!"Â Who knew that guy could be so deep!?Â The movie stars Meryl Streep, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams (who is WAY too cute to play a nun.)Â These three deliver a 1-2-3 combination of amazing acting.Â The story is a metaphore for Good vs. Evil set in a Catholic School in New York City when a nun, played by Streep, suspects the Priest, played by Hoffman, of molesting a young boy.Â The question for you as an audience member is, which one is "Good" and which one is "Evil?"Â Representing the audience is another nun, played by Adams, who gets caught up in the middle.Â The Golden Globes passed on all three of these actors for awards, but I have a feeling that we'll see The Oscars reward at least one of them.Â They're all SO good that they can't be ignored.Â Not only was the acting amazing, but the story is amazing!Â I'm a big fan of stories that can be taken any way that you want them to go.Â Just like how "Hamlet" is considered the greatest play of all time, just because the role of Hamlet can be portrayed in any way possible - it's up to the actor.Â "Doubt" is exactly like this.Â Fascinating to watch play out and even better to try and figure out the truth.Â Also watch for a 10-minute-long performance from Viola Davis, who plays the reserved, loving and tormented mother of the boy in question.Â It may be the best 10 minutes of the movie!