Sunday, October 26, 2008

Battle in Seattle

Today I saw Battle in Seattle, starring Woody Harrelson and Martin Henderson.

As someone who lived through the event this movie is about, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have bias going into it.

So I'm just going to divide this review into the "good" and the "bad" and call it a night:

The Good

• The documentary-like way in which the film is shot gives it an organic, authentic feel, as does the real news footage of President Clinton, Pine Street, etc.

• The acting is good by Harrelson and Charlize Theron (who plays his wife).

• The writer (Stuart Townsend, who also directed) did a good job of not "taking sides" in the narrative and displaying the fiasco for what it was—a situation that got out of hand mainly due to a third party that refused to respect the agreements that were in place.

• The person they found to play our Governor was both physically and verbally a lot like the real guy.

The Bad

• They changed the mayor's name, age and appearance (the real mayor was an older, heavy set gentleman named Paul; in the film it's Richard Greico playing someone named Jim). Why change something that is easily Google-able? They couldn't find someone that looked like the real guy? I find that hard to believe.

• The situation they put Charlize's character in is a bit ludicrous. The riots were completely out of control, and innocent people did get caught in the crossfire. But the "action" they had the cop take was too over-the-top to be believable.

• They didn't explain enough about what the WTO was trying to accomplish.

• They included shots of buildings in Seattle that didn't exist in 1999 (Qwest Field, etc.)

All in all, it's nice someone (an Irishman, no less) felt this stain in our city's past worthy of a film; I just don't see why the accuracy was so hard to achieve. Interviewing anyone who lived through it, a real story could've emerged that was more interesting than the two forced stories that made up this film.

And I'd say that even if I didn't live here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ask and you shall receive...

I enjoy chatting with many of you via e-mail about films and television shows, and I've found that I get a lot of the same questions asked over and over again, so I thought I'd answer them here, in one blog entry, and then if folks ask again, I can simply send them the link.

Here goes:

1) What are the podcasts that you participate in called?

Cinebanter (my movie review podcast with Michael Cummins of San Jose), @U2 (the U2-fan podcast produced by a site that I write for) and formerly the U2 Chatcast (created by a friend, Dan Eliot, who manages They are all available on iTunes (and there is a Cinebanter link in the sidebar of this blog).

2) Do you write any other blogs?

Yes. In addition to this, I have a MySpace blog (also linked from the sidebar here) and as a staff writer, I contribute to the @U2 blog from time to time.

3) What is your day job?

I am a Public Relations/Marketing Manager for a gifted elementary school in Washington State. Before that I was a fashion advertising writer for 8 years.

4) Where are you from?

Originally, Portland, Oregon, but I've lived in several places (Columbia, MO, Mesa, AZ, etc.)

5) Did you go to college?

Yes. I hold a Bachelor's degree with distinction in English from Columbia College in Missouri.

6) Are you married?


7) Do you have children?


8) What is your favorite movie of all time?

This is a tough one. Sentimentally, I'd vote for Back to the Future or Before Sunrise, but on merit probably Gone With the Wind.

9) What is your favorite TV show of all time?

Family Ties

10) Do you like any bands besides U2?

Yes. The Beatles are actually my favorite band. U2 is my favorite "living" band. I also love Joe Jackson, Duran Duran, Cheap Trick and Billy Joel, in addition to scores of others.

11) If you went to the store to buy a DVD, what would it be?

My Amazon Film Wishlist is in the sidebar. See for yourself.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rachel Getting Married

Tonight I saw Rachel Getting Married, starring Anne Hathaway and Rosemarie DeWitt.

It was the topic of Cinebanter #62, which is available here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Tonight I saw Transsiberian, starring Emily Mortimer and Woody Harrelson.

An American couple who has just completed some sort of religious or philanthropic mission is continuing their journey through Russia by railway to see the sites and experience a European adventure.

Roy (Harrelson) is the goody-two-shoes of the two, seeing life through a crystal clear pair of rose-colored glasses. His wife Jessie (Mortimer) is less trusting of others, which we learn is due to her own wild past.

All seems well on the trip until they meet Carlos and Abby—a Spaniard man in his thirties and his twenty-year-old American girlfriend. They all share a train car and become fast friends...or do they?

On one of their pit stops, Roy misses the train and the other three get a hotel room at the next stop ahead to wait for him.

Everything that happens after this point is a spoiler, so I can't go any further, but the twists and turns the story takes are not only unexpected, but alternately horrifying and thrilling.

I can't imagine anyone's blood pressure not raising upon a first viewing of this film. It's got action and mystery rolled into clear and present danger, topped off with a bit of love.

Mortimer is phenomenal in her most complex role to date, and Harrelson is oddly convincing as a Bible-bouncing do-gooder.

If you want to sit uncontrollably on the edge of your seat for an hour and 47 minutes, go see this film.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Tonight I saw Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings.

When you find your musical soul mate—the one who has the same concert pick for the inevitable time machine "what if?" and the person who understands why you tingle at the sound of certain songs, it's as if all is right with the world.

Searching for that soul mate is the hard part.

In this film, a heartbroken Nick (Cera) makes volumes of mix CDs for the ex-girlfriend who has dumped him, and they ultimately land in the hands of Norah (Dennings), who seems to genuinely appreciate them (though she doesn't know who Nick is).

After a meet-cute at one of Nick's concerts (did I mention he's the only straight guy in a gay band?), the two end up in the same car on the same night with the same purpose: to find Norah's lost drunken friend, and later to find the band "Where's Fluffy?"

The rest of the film is formulaic fluff at its best (though I really could've done without the vomit scenes, even if this is meant for a teenage crowd), though the overall charm of the story saves it.

Cera is adorable in his usual nice-guy role (note: I like him so much I'd REALLY like to see him branch out a bit and try a different genre next time) and Dennings feels as if she's part Kelly McDonald, part Ione Skye, circa 1991—in a good way. They make a lovely couple.

New York City also shines in a raw yet welcoming light and well, the music isn't so bad either.

If you want to feel nostalgiac for that first love who "got" the Beatles (or whomever your band might have been) right along with you, see this film.

Just beware you may be the oldest person in the crowd.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Today I saw the Bill Maher documentary Religulous.

It was the topic of Cinebanter #61, which is available for download here.