Elie Samaha

Elie Samaha

Elie Samaha Quick Links

Film RSS

City By The Seatest Review


Excellent
Relationships between fathers and sons must be the "in" topic for Hollywood. Road to Perdition was a moving story about the sacrifices made by generations of mob fathers to provide for their boys. Similar relationships are presented in City by the Sea; however, this film explores the opposite phenomenon. In City by the Sea, the lack of sacrifice by two generations of fathers has lasting repercussions on their children.

City by the Sea is inspired by the true events surrounding the life of New York City Homicide Detective Vincent LaMarca. A veteran of the police force, LaMarca (Robert De Niro) returns to the boardwalks of Long Beach, Long Island (a.k.a. City by the Sea), where he grew up, to investigate a homicide that his son Joey (James Franco) is under suspicion of committing. Vincent and Joey have been estranged since Vincent divorced his wife (Patti LuPone) 14 years ago. As a result, Joey has fallen into the pitfalls of drugs and vagrancy. When a drug deal goes bad, and Joey kills the dealer in the ensuing struggle, he becomes the target of many overzealous police officers who want to charge him with the crime. Joey is also the target for another drug dealer (William Forsythe) who wants the drug money he thinks Joey stole.

Continue reading: City By The Seatest Review

Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj Review


Terrible
If I was the studio that produced Revenge of the Nerds, I'd be on the phone to a lawyer to file a plagiarism/copyright violation suit against the studio that produced Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj, which is as close to a scene-by-scene ripoff as you could possibly imagine.

Check it out: Van Wilder 2 (which does not feature the original film's title character in any way whatsoever, nor does it even take place in the same country) has Taj (Kal Penn), a minor character from the original, of to a British university to continue his education. Here he tries to join the ritzy fraternity, only to be quickly turned away. At his new home, he joins with the campus losers to start their own frat house. The bulk of the film comprises a series of contests on campus with some vague prize going to the winning fraternity. Along the way, Taj steals the girlfriend of his posh rival (Daniel Percival). Naturally, no opportunity to present a naked bosom is passed by.

Continue reading: Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj Review

A Sound Of Thunder Review


Terrible
The best thing that can be said for the embarrassing A Sound of Thunder is that at least it presupposes an audience whose belief in evolution is ironclad, sadly a minor triumph in these increasingly Scopes monkey trial-like times.

Adapted with sub-simian grace from the iconic Ray Bradbury story, the film puts us in the year 2055, where a Chicago firm called Time Safari takes wealthy, bored men back in time and hunt dinosaurs. The trick here is that Bradbury - prefiguring all the great time travel paradox stories and films to follow - realized one couldn't just do this without creating massive complications further down the time pipeline. So Time Safari has its hunters walk through the 65-million-year-old jungle on a pathway suspended above the ground, with the strict dictum not to touch anything, never step off the path and not to bring even the most microscopic thing back with them. And the dinosaur that they "hunt" (over and over again) has been selected for the fact that it's going to die anyway, bare seconds after the safari team shoots it. Thusly the time continuum remains unchanged and everybody's happy.

Continue reading: A Sound Of Thunder Review

The In-Laws (2003) Review


Excellent
Has Michael Douglas found The Fountain of Youth in Catherine Zeta-Jones? Since the Gordon Gekko days of Wall Street fame, his body is certainly a little less nimble, his face a little more wrinkled, and his hair a shade too light. But the guy looks great, and he's once again an action hero. That bumps him up from "silver spoon" to "ageless wonder" in the Hollywood classification book - ever closer to the royalty of perennial good lookers Redford and Basinger.

In The In-Laws (based on the 1979 film of the same name), like most other Michael Douglas vehicles, his gaunt face is rarely off the camera. Wisely, director Andrew Fleming inserts a hilarious Albert Brooks as the perfect remedy for Douglas's self-absorption.

Continue reading: The In-Laws (2003) Review

The Boondock Saints Review


OK
Already an insanely overrated cult classic, The Boondock Saints has Irish (and super-religious) brothers (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) taking Boston by storm as vigilantes ridding the town of evildoers. Meanwhile, a gay FBI agent (Willem Dafoe, who steals the show completely) is hot on the trail, while the boys also get hunted by kooky crime lord (Billy Connolly).

Stylish and fun in a cheeseball sort of way (think Tarantino without the retro hipness), these Saints are amusing enough -- until the endless gunplay, blood-splattering, and monotonous SCREAMING MATCHES wear you down. I'd had enough within 45 minutes, but you'll have to make it through 110... and then there's the sequel that's on the way.

Continue reading: The Boondock Saints Review

The Break Up (1998) Review


Unbearable
Pedestrian thriller. Nonsensical and obvious why it went straight to cable, despite a decent cast of stars. What's with Weber's big moustache, anyway?

Tristan & Isolde Review


Excellent
Kevin Reynolds is one of Hollywood's most unjustly maligned filmmakers. I'm frequently astounded by the fact that his superior craftsmanship is not more widely recognized. Surely his attention to detail and sensual prowess is equal that of championed filmmakers like Ridley and Tony Scott (who both produced this film).

I suspect that most of this disregard is due to the fact that more often than not Reynolds' films are burdened with clunky and sentimental scripts. Films like Rapa Nui and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves were gorgeously shot and produced but weighed down by melodrama and hobbled by sentimentality. And then there was the whole Waterworld debacle from which it seems Reynolds has never really recovered. The Count of Monte Cristo was a start, but this is the film that should bring Reynolds back to the table. (I happen to think Waterworld is fantastically accomplished and enormously entertaining but don't tell anyone I said that.)

Continue reading: Tristan & Isolde Review

The Caveman's Valentine Review


Excellent
After working as an actor for some time, Kasi Lemmons (The Silence of the Lambs) wrote and directed her first feature, Eve's Bayou, in 1997. She has since spent the past 4 years putting together The Caveman's Valentine, which took 10-plus producers to come to fruition. Instead of directing original material, Lemmons directs from the book by Georges Dawes Green, who adapted it for the screen.

Samuel L. Jackson (Unbreakable, Shaft) teams up with Lemmons again (he played the philandering husband in Eve's Bayou) to star as the disturbed and homeless Romulus. Thankfully, no easy explanation is ever uttered as to the nature of his psychosis. He lives partially obsessed with a fantasy world in which exotic dancers inspire his hands on the piano, and his ultimate nemesis resides in the Chrysler building.

Continue reading: The Caveman's Valentine Review

Animal Factory Review


Good
Dear Ma,

After seeing Steve Buscemi's sophomore directorial effort, Animal Factory (following 1996's Trees Lounge), I nearly reconsidered choosing film criticism as a career path. For the first hour of this film, it seemed the way to go was to become a convict. (By the way, ma, they don't call 'em inmates in the pen, they call 'em convicts.)

Continue reading: Animal Factory Review

If... Dog... Rabbit... Review


Weak
Promising film starts out great then turns into yet another predictable caper-gone-awry homage to The Killing. A rather unfortunate vanity production from first-time writer/director Modine. Special award for having the worst title in the history of movies (though it is "explained" in the credits).

Continue reading: If... Dog... Rabbit... Review

A Sound Of Thunder Review


Terrible
The best thing that can be said for the embarrassing A Sound of Thunder is that at least it presupposes an audience whose belief in evolution is ironclad, sadly a minor triumph in these increasingly Scopes monkey trial-like times.

Adapted with sub-simian grace from the iconic Ray Bradbury story, the film puts us in the year 2055, where a Chicago firm called Time Safari takes wealthy, bored men back in time and hunt dinosaurs. The trick here is that Bradbury - prefiguring all the great time travel paradox stories and films to follow - realized one couldn't just do this without creating massive complications further down the time pipeline. So Time Safari has its hunters walk through the 65-million-year-old jungle on a pathway suspended above the ground, with the strict dictum not to touch anything, never step off the path and not to bring even the most microscopic thing back with them. And the dinosaur that they "hunt" (over and over again) has been selected for the fact that it's going to die anyway, bare seconds after the safari team shoots it. Thusly the time continuum remains unchanged and everybody's happy.

Continue reading: A Sound Of Thunder Review

Get Carter (2000) Review


Grim
Forget Get Carter. Instead... get me a cup of coffee.

What the hell has happened to all good American action movies? Did I unknowingly miss a meeting somewhere? When did all of the bad-ass, kicking butt and taking names, gun-toting, crazed, vengeful characters of the 1980s -- from such films as Commando, Cobra, Predator, Raw Deal, First Blood -- suddenly turn into innocent, compassionate, sensitive, teary-eyed knuckleheads. The only place to turn these days for an honest action film is towards the East -- and I don't mean New York City.

Continue reading: Get Carter (2000) Review

Half Past Dead Review


Grim
Martin Boris Velanov is the hardest working man in show business. According to the end credits for the prison thriller Half Past Dead, Mr. Velanov works full-time (some would say "overtime") as the stand-in for Steven Seagal, a past-his-prime action hero mistakenly labeled as marketable after his last endeavor, Exit Wounds, found an audience.

By my calculations - and this is far from scientific - Seagal appears in approximately 15% of his own scenes. The rest of the time, director Don Michael Paul uses quick-cuts, (very) large shadows and wide-angle shots taken from a distance to hide the liberal use of a body double. So why use Seagal at all? Is he really a draw? An effective marketing tool?

Continue reading: Half Past Dead Review

The Pledge Review


Excellent
An early note to parents with young, blonde daughters: Think twice about seeing The Pledge, and if you must go -- if you're eager to see Jack Nicholson give one of his best cinematic performances ever -- then take a Valium before entering the theater and practice saying, "This won't happen to my family! This won't happen to my family!"

From the opening shot, where we see the top of Nicholson's half-bald, hair-transplanted head, The Pledge is an exercise in stomaching an ugly truth. Body parts, pony-tailed girls splotched with blood and bruises -- this isn't a film about happy endings and human triumph. Suspected sex perverts lurk down every road in The Pledge, causing Nicholson's character, a retired homicide detective, so much angst that he becomes his own worst enemy.

Continue reading: The Pledge Review

Driven Review


OK
What better way to start an action movie than with... statistics!

From that rousing introduction we are thrown into the world of Driven, the highly anticipated CART-inspired movie that takes us on a whirlwind tour of made-up races.

Continue reading: Driven Review

Elie Samaha

Elie Samaha Quick Links

Film RSS
Advertisement

Suggested

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Film Review

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Film Review

Writer-director Christopher McQuarrie brings a dark and gritty tone to this larger-than-life franchise.

American Ultra - Trailer

American Ultra - Trailer

Mike's current life revolves around his girlfriend, a healthy amount of weed and his job at the local cash & carry.

Advertisement
Is Calvin Harris About To Pop The Question?

Is Calvin Harris About To Pop The Question?

As soon a pop partnership Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift got together, we knew it...

Surprise New One Direction Single Tops iTunes Chart Within An Hour

Surprise New One Direction Single Tops iTunes Chart Within An Hour

Just a day after Zayn Malik said that he had left them to make “#realmusic”, One Direction...

Advertisement