Michael Burns

Michael Burns

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Bug (2007) Review


Terrible
On my way out of William Friedkin's latest Bug, I overheard a gentleman in the lobby say to his companion that he hopes everyone involved in the picture fires their agents. The movie could mean at least a long stint in the doghouse for its two leads, Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon. It's regrettable, because the actors are clearly giving all they've got and then some to a project that, ultimately, amounts to a staggering miscalculation. As for Friedkin, I'm guessing he'll stay put for a few years before returning with another questionable clunker.

Working from Tracy Letts' adaptation of his own play, Friedkin gives us a five-character chamber piece, set in a downtrodden motel room out in the sticks. Bi-curious basket case Agnes (Judd) works as a waitress in a redneck bar by night, and shacks up in a motel room, in a pot-, coke-, and booze-induced stupor by day. It's her meager defense against the onslaught of just-paroled ex-husband Jerry (a beefed-up and amusing Harry Connick Jr.), who drops by to inflict verbal and physical abuse, not to mention dredging up memories of her long-lost son. The woman's only respite is her girlfriend, R.C. (Lynn Collins), a fellow waitress who's a tad too freewheeling for the reserved Agnes. Twitched-out and fragile, she meets her perfect match in the taciturn Peter (Shannon), a war veteran who harbors traumas of his own. Soon after they hook up, Peter becomes increasingly convinced that his body's been colonized by bugs -- bugs laying eggs and traveling up and down his bloodstream. Peter claims to be an escapee from a government medical lab where he was the subject of nefarious tests. He suspects the bugs were bio-engineered by the government to be tools for mind control. Before you know it, Bug has become a full-blown freak show, fueled by military-industrial conspiracies, and styled after Macbeth as the paranoid Peter and the needy Agnes become obsessive partners in mutual destruction.

Continue reading: Bug (2007) Review

Employee Of The Month (2006) Review


OK
Employee of the Month's main character, thirtysomething box boy Zack (Dane Cook), relishes having a job with the least amount of responsibility. When the Costco-like store where he works hires a new, comely cashier (Jessica Simpson) who has a history for hooking up with the employee of the month, Zack decides to try harder so he can win her affection.

Too bad the movie never follows Zack's example. For 103 minutes, Employee of the Month refuses to go beyond shallow observations and silly slapstick, making for an ordinary outing when that should not be the case. Anyone who has ever worked in retail (or seen Clerks) knows there's a wealth of material for a good comedy. When I managed a used bookstore, a customer argued her case for a lower price by repeatedly stating that she was "a lawyer." At Borders, I had another customer so convinced we carried International Male (we didn't) that he was threatened with police action. Also at Borders, I have never worked with so many people who had visible tattoos, including one who had a small image of a pen and book on her lower back.

Continue reading: Employee Of The Month (2006) Review

Employee Of The Month Review


OK
Employee of the Month's main character, thirtysomething box boy Zack (Dane Cook), relishes having a job with the least amount of responsibility. When the Costco-like store where he works hires a new, comely cashier (Jessica Simpson) who has a history for hooking up with the employee of the month, Zack decides to try harder so he can win her affection.

Too bad the movie never follows Zack's example. For 103 minutes, Employee of the Month refuses to go beyond shallow observations and silly slapstick, making for an ordinary outing when that should not be the case. Anyone who has ever worked in retail (or seen Clerks) knows there's a wealth of material for a good comedy. When I managed a used bookstore, a customer argued her case for a lower price by repeatedly stating that she was "a lawyer." At Borders, I had another customer so convinced we carried International Male (we didn't) that he was threatened with police action. Also at Borders, I have never worked with so many people who had visible tattoos, including one who had a small image of a pen and book on her lower back.

Continue reading: Employee Of The Month Review

Six-String Samurai Review


Excellent
Mad Max meets The Highlander meets... Elvis?

Surprisingly fun and funny indie flick about a post-Apocalypse Buddy Holly (type) heading to "Lost Vegas" to make his claim for the crown, previously held by one known as The King. Along the way, he must overcome every type of obstacle imaginable, including shepherding a little boy and going toe to toe with "Death," aka Guns' N Roses' Slash.

Continue reading: Six-String Samurai Review

Confidence Review


Extraordinary
If Heist held your attention and The Score kept you guessing, you need to see Confidence, James Foley's stunningly original sting movie that puts the majority of sting movies to shame. Who knew that Foley, the man responsible for brainless thrillers like The Corruptor and Fear, would helm a genre film that outwits even those from acclaimed filmmakers David Mamet and Frank Oz?

Confidence has triple the pizzazz of any caper movie released in the past several years. To say that it keeps you guessing would be misleading; the film has so many twists, turns, and reveals them in such an order that you don't even know where to start guessing. You'll need a scorecard to keep everything in order. Yet, remarkably, in the end, everything adds up without any apparent plot holes. It's astonishing.

Continue reading: Confidence Review

Undiscovered Review


Bad
Watch enough movies and after a while you learn a few things. Here's one important lesson: When the number of ushers assigned to a theater showing a movie is greater than the number of people actually watching the movie, you're in trouble. For Undiscovered, the final count during this reviewer's public screening: Ushers 3; Audience Members 1.

This underwhelming romantic drama set against the backdrop of L.A.'s rock music scene doesn't break that rule. Oddly enough, what dooms the movie is its strict adherence to two overused story tactics, "a star is made; a star is destroyed" and "the missed opportunity" romance. Predictably, the results are not pleasant and ushers nationwide will have an easy time cleaning gum and cola off the floors.

Continue reading: Undiscovered Review

Get Over It Review


OK
Get Over It at least has one thing that a lot of other high school movies don't: earnest, affable leads. It also has all of the key flaws that make going to teen movies so risky: an almost unbearable goofy streak, a plot with the strength of a newborn fawn, and bland supporting characters.

The movie makes the same mistakes over and over and eventually drains one's patience, but yet I stuck around because the leads played kids I would have liked to know.

Continue reading: Get Over It Review

Michael Burns

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Michael Burns Movies

Bug (2007) Movie Review

Bug (2007) Movie Review

On my way out of William Friedkin's latest Bug, I overheard a gentleman in the...

Employee Of The Month (2006) Movie Review

Employee Of The Month (2006) Movie Review

Employee of the Month's main character, thirtysomething box boy Zack (Dane Cook), relishes having a...

Employee Of The Month Movie Review

Employee Of The Month Movie Review

Employee of the Month's main character, thirtysomething box boy Zack (Dane Cook), relishes having a...

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Six-String Samurai Movie Review

Six-String Samurai Movie Review

Mad Max meets The Highlander meets... Elvis?Surprisingly fun and funny indie flick about a post-Apocalypse...

Confidence Movie Review

Confidence Movie Review

If Heist held your attention and The Score kept you guessing, you need to see...

Undiscovered Movie Review

Undiscovered Movie Review

Watch enough movies and after a while you learn a few things. Here's one important...

Get Over It Movie Review

Get Over It Movie Review

Get Over It at least has one thing that a lot of other high school...

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