A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
Director: Charles Crichton
Writer(s): John Cleese, Charles Crichton (story)
Starring: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline
I thought I've seen this movie. I could've sworn I've seen this movie. Turns out, I've never seen this movie. I love this movie. Probably John Cleese's best film role ever and easily Jamie Lee Curtis' sexiest film ever, the performances take this farcical crime story and make it an excellent comedy (though Kevin Kline's a bit flat, although that could've been the point). Some tout it as a post-Monty Python Monty Python film, but it isn't really. Sure, Cleese and Michael Palin often seem to homage the famous British comedy troupe, but when do they not? Regardless, this is a fabulous and fabulously funny movie.
Verdict: SEE it.
The A-Team (2010)
Director: Joe Carnahan
Writer(s): Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom, Skip Woods, Frank Lupo (TV series), Stephen J. Cannell (TV series)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel
Over-the-top. Ridiculous. Loud. And worth the ticket. This uber-violent film is not to be taken seriously and it does the gracious thing and admits that to the audience in the opening scene. The result is an over-the-top, ridiculous, loud, and extremely fun movie to watch. While the television series was "family-friendly camp," the film is just action camp, with actors who both play their roles straight and allow their characters to fade into the banter-between-friends that made the television series so popular. I admit, the trailer had me worried and I was expecting something despicable along the lines of G.I. Joe, but I had a great time.
Verdict: SEE it.
The Duchess (2008)
Director: Saul Dibb
Writer(s): Jeffrey Hatcher, Anders Thomas Jensen, Saul Dibb, Amanda Foreman (book)
Starring: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling
The true story of the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Cavendish, is harrowing in and of itself. Maybe even more so than Queen Elizabeth, it's built for the movies (okay, forget I said that). And so, with fairly low expectations (mainly due to a misguided disdain for Keira Knightley... who is one Hell of an actor), I gave the film a view. First, let me state that I love the story. I really do. But... the pacing of the film was rather quick, almost break-neck at points, and a film such as this deserves time to develop, envelop, and engulf its audience in its drama. I've no idea exactly how historically accurate the film is (a cursory investigation reveals that it's not bad), but there are hints of the world at large in many of the subplots, which is a nice touch. I did like the movie and do recommend it. Still, it wasn't as good as it should've been.
Verdict: SEE it. Neither a groundbreaking nor profound film, the subject matter is still interesting enough to be worth a view.
Sanbiki No Samurai (Three Outlaw Samurai) - 1964
Director: Hideo Gosha
Writer(s): Keiichi Abe, Hideo Gosha, Eizaburo Shiba
Starring: Tetsuro Tamba, Isamu Nagato, Mikijiro Hira
Imagine Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai as a shorter, faster, more-traditional action film, and that's essentially what Three Outlaw Samurai is. The two films share similar plots and resolutions, but their setups and progressions are vastly different. Even with a runtime that's over 100 minutes shorter than Seven Samurai, Three Outlaw Samurai presents story and characters (the three protagonists are perfect fits for both the plot and for each other) that are as engaging, entertaining, and memorable. That it is not "epic" is, no doubt, the major reason for its lack of popularity.
Verdict: SEE it.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Director: Lee Unkrich
Writer(s): Michael Arndt, John Lasseter (story), Andrew Stanton (story), Lee Unkrich (story)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
Leave it to Pixar to break the curse of "Part 3s" (Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, The Matrix Revolutions, the list goes on...). Toy Story 3 is quite simply the best way to send off the Toy Story film franchise. Funny, heartwarming, sad, scary, hilarious, and depressing all rolled into one Hell of a computer-animated feature. No, the 3D is unnecessary, but it doesn't hurt the movie one bit. Yes, Pixar knocks another one out of the park. Nothing really much more to say here. Side Note: Outside of some forced moralizing, the pre-feature short film ("Day & Night") is outstanding all by itself. Those Pixar people really are clever.
Verdict: SEE it. Absolutely SEE it.