Category Archives: 2006 Movie reviews

Snakes on a Plane-2006

Snakes on a Plane-2006

Director-David R. Ellis

Starring-Samuel L. Jackson

Reviewed August 5, 2007

Grade: B

Snakes on a Plane, the surprise internet bruhaha sensation of 2006 has much to criticize. The plot is inane, the acting way over the top, and the subject portrayed in such a dumb manner, I could the results being horrific, but there is just something I really enjoyed about the film too, as admittedly stupid as it is. I simply could not help but sit back and enjoy it.

I enjoyed the setting of an airplane- trapped at 35, 000 feet, in peril, has always enamored me (think Airport disaster films of the 1970’s). The story involves a plot to release hundreds of deadly snakes on a passenger flight, in order to kill a witness to a murder trial.  Of course, innocent passengers are met with their dire fates as the cartoon-like characters are offed one by one, horror film style.

Sadly, the film did not live up to anticipated expectations, commercially or critically, and was considered somewhat of a dud after all of the hype, but I rather enjoyed it for what is was. Hardly high art, it entertained me.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest-2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest-2006

Director-Gore Verbinski

Starring-Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom

Reviewed August 7, 2008

Grade: B-

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, the follow-up to the original Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, from 2003. The sequel is decent, but certainly inferior to Curse of the Black Pearl. The visual effects are spectacular, and the budget very high, but the story wasn’t really there. The film drags along at times as well as being a bit confusing.

Johnny Depp gives his all to his role of Jack Sparrow, performing with gusto and is clearly the highlight of the franchise. The supporting characters, Bloom as Will Turner, and Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann, are fine, but not on the level of Depp. Otherwise, the performances are all okay, but just a carbon copy of the first film.

Story-wise, Will and Elizabeth are arrested for aiding Jack Sparrow’s escape execution, and the plot involves the attempts at locating Sparrow along with the typical adventure aspects of a film like this and the stock character villains, with grimaces, heavy makeup, and over-acting, but I expected as much.

Not a bad sequel, certain to entertain the masses, and guaranteed to make a ton of money, inevitably ensuring another sequel will be made, with little doubt of being even less compelling.

Masters of Horror: Dario Argento: Pelts-2006

Masters of Horror: Dario Argento: Pelts-2006

Director-Dario Argento

Starring-Meat Loaf, John Saxon

Reviewed January 25, 2009

Grade: C+

For those unfamiliar with Masters of Horror, this was a spectacular horror series which aired during the mid 2000’s featuring vignettes of superlative horror chapters- famed Italian horror maestro, Dario Argento directed two such chapters during the series run- Pelts is an okay story, but unspectacular, and really only for die-hard Argento fans.

The chapter is quite gory and extreme (this is the main positive)  and stars Meatloaf (the singer) and John Saxon (from Nightmare on Elm Street, and Black Christmas). The story centers around a fur trader named Jake Feldman, who encounters a fellow fur trader offering raccoon skin. Eager to make money and impress a stripper, Jake leaps at the chance, with dire results.

This episode of Masters of Horror is not for the squeamish. If you are a fan of raccoons this might be up your alley. My slight disappointment in this chapter merely comes from my utter love for some of the other chapters, and this one pales in comparison.

Little Children-2006

Little Children-2006

Director-Todd Field

Starring-Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson

Top 100 Films-#52

70052692

Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

Little Children is a subtle, dark drama from 2006 that reminds me a great deal of The Ice Storm and American Beauty- both equally quiet masterpieces. All are similar films about dysfunctional, interpersonal relationships that are damaged. The great film is one of my more modern all time favorites.

On the surface, the small suburban Boston town in which the members of the film reside is whimsical, peaceful, and quiet. Spacious colonial and victorian houses line the sleepy streets in similar fashion. The small town (unnamed) is affluent and, we learn very early on, is rife with scandal. A child-molester, Ronnie, (Jackie Earle Haley), who is also a resident of the town, living with his mother, has recently been let loose to resume his life, which makes the neighborhood tense and angry. It is summertime, and the air is thick with heat and secrets.

Other than the child-molester story, the main drama involves Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet), an intelligent, bored, stay at home housewife. She is angry and frustrated.  She cares for her three-year old daughter Lucy, while her husband is addicted to porn and regularly sniffs panties that he purchases on-line, even risking his job to immerse himself in his addiction to porn. They have a sex-less marriage. Soon, Sarah embarks on a relationship with the resident hunk, Brad (Patrick Wilson), a stay-at home Dad to four-year old Aaron. His wife, Katherine (Jennifer Connelly), a “knockout”, produces documentaries and is the bread-winner of the family. Thrown in the mix is crazed ex-cop, Larry, obsessed with protecting the neighborhood from Ronnie, and a trio of suburban house-wives, who are friendly with Sarah and secretly lust after Brad.

Little Children is a film clearly about relationships, insecurities, and dreams remaining unfulfilled. How these relationships are damaged, filled with angst, or yearning for a resolution far out of reach, are explored and every character is sad in some way. Each character is unfulfilled and in the middle of all of it is the torrid romance between Sarah and Brad. They while away the summer in romance that we just know will not last. They find some happy moments, but how will this continue?

Tragic is the situation with Ronnie- despite being a child molester he is portrayed as sympathetic character. The entire town is against him- a sad scene involves the townspeople fleeing the community pool when Ronnie dares to go for a swim. When he tearfully tells the police that he just wanted to cool down, there is such a sadness in his eyes.

Despite being supporting characters in the film, my favorite performances are by Haley and Phyllis Somerville, as Ronnie’s feisty yet haggard mother, May. Determined to make sure her son has a decent life, she lashes out at anyone who bullies her poor Ronnie. Somerville’s performance is heartbreaking and, in a perfect Hollywood world, she would have received an Oscar nomination. Happily, Haley did, as injecting any sort of sympathy in a character such as his is a difficult task, but Haley does so in spades.

The film is filled with narrative- in not dissimilar fashion to the classic Barry Lyndon- as the narrator explains the thoughts and inner turmoil of the characters in regular intervals. This adds layers and clarity to the film.

A masterful scene involves one centered around the dinner table, successfully done. Curious about husband Brad’s daytime life when she is away at work, Katherine invites Sarah and her daughter to join them for a cozy dinner. As everyone eats and converses, the light bulb suddenly goes on in Katherine’s head and she pieces together events, realizing Brad and Sarah’s true relationship. All of those days when she knew not where Brad was now come flowing back to her. A similar scene was played out in 2008’s The Kids Are Allright, working successfully in that film too.

The stories eventually intersect and I love this point of the film, especially being that it takes place in a smothering small town. Character driven, cynical, tragic, and dark. Little Children is a humanistic masterpiece that I never tire of watching- one of my favorites.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane-2006

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane-2006

Director-Jonathan Levine

Starring-Amber Heard

70074100

Reviewed December 22, 2013

Grade: B-

Interesting, experimental type horror meets art film from 2006. On the surface it appears to be a by the numbers horror throwback involving a group of teens spending a boozy weekend on a Texas farm, of course, in the middle of nowhere. They are systematically offed one by one. This sounds standard, but there are some moody, artistic, beautiful scenes mixed in, hence the horror/art house label. There is a certain “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” charm to it as well. The story, however, makes little sense and the protagonist’s motivations are confusing and never explained, so while adventurous in parts, the film ultimately fails based on the story inconsistencies. The characters are also rather unlikable, perhaps intentionally so, as these are the characters the audience enjoys seeing hacked to bits.