Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Written & Directed by Carlos Cuaron

Where & When: Beverly Center 13, West Hollywood, CA. May 26, 2009

I had just read a disturbing story in the paper this morning about a Roman Catholic man in Ireland was beaten to death by a mob of militant Protestant supporters of a Scottish soccer team and they severely injured his wife and a friend. What the fuck is wrong with people?? It's just a stupid game. It's not worth taking some one's life!

So today I went to see, "Rudo y Cursi", a film about two poor, dim brothers who get an opportunity to become soccer stars and how the pursuit of winning causes them to lose themselves in all of the wrong things. Luckily it is a comedy but a dark one.

The story is about Beto who everyone calls "Rudo" which in Spanish means "tough" and Tato who is appropriately nicknamed "Cursi" which means "corny". The brothers are played by Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal respectively who are reunited with the writer of "Y Tu Mama Tambien".

Beto and Tato work unhappily at a banana plantation when one day they help a man with a flat tire traveling through their village. While waiting for the repair, he just happens to catch the boys playing soccer. The man named Batuta, just by chance, is a soccer talent scout and sees the potential in the brothers.

Beto sees this as a way to get out of his lousy job and to help his family while Tato thinks this will be an opportunity to use soccer as way to get to follow his real desire to be a singer. The problem that he sings as well as most of those people during the "American Idol" auditions will not interfere with his dream.

Batuta decides he can only handle one of them so he will choose Tato if he makes the goal and Beto if he blocks him. A misunderstanding sends Tato to Mexico City with Batuta and causes some friction between the brothers.

After a rocky start, Tato finds success as a player and uses it to get his brother on a soccer team and tries to start a singing career. Neither brother is prepared for life in the big city and is completely overwhelmed by it. Beto gets wrapped up in drugs and a gambling problem while Tato is seduced by a sophisticated beauty that's more than he can handle.

"Rudo Y Cursi" is full of charm, humor, drama and thrills. Mr. Luna and Mr. Bernal have great chemistry together and both shine in their roles, proving once again, they make a terrific bromantic acting team. Mr. Cuaron has done well with his first film and look forward to seeing what he does next.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Written by David Levien & Brian Koppelman

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Where & When: Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood, CA, May 25, 2009 1:10 PM

In "The Girfriend Expereince", Steven Soderbergh's latest drama, Sasha Grey (who actually makes her living as porn star) plays Christine, a high class prostitute who works under the name, "Chelsea". Chelsea charges top dollar to people to spend quality time with her and she earns her money by playing the dutiful and understanding "girlfriend" of men who don't have the time or energy to find a real one.

She keeps a journal where she lists each encounter and details everything down to the designer labels of each piece of clothing she was wearing. This logging of her experiences and all of the luxuries her profession enables her to acquire appears to give a healthy boost to her self-esteem. Still not satisfied with her success, Chelsea decides to bring even more awareness to her "brand".  First, she connects with a man who will update her website, then meets with a journalist who wants to interview her for a story before finally meeting a man who is willing to set up a lucrative gig in Dubai and write a positive review of her escort services in exchange for a "sample" of her work.

Chelsea has a very understanding boyfriend, Chris (Chris Santos) who is a personal trainer. He also is selling himself, not physically of course, but trying to get ahead in his field. Money and objects are very important to both of them which makes them seem to be a perfect couple.

Money was an even bigger concern to them at this point of time since this story is set during last fall when the American economy went into the toilet. We see how that life-altering event effected this couple's livelihoods. A serious problem arises in their relationship when Chelsea meets a married client and has a feeling that he could be "the one".

I was hoping "The Girlfriend Experience" might take us in a new direction with another film about the world's oldest profession, particularly because Mr. Soderbergh was involved. But even with the documentary-style film making and the use of non-professional actors, the film is not fresh or inventive. It's actually quite boring.

I just couldn't connect with Chelsea and could care less about her life. The part where she really lost me was when she was telling her boyfriend that she was going off with the married client for the weekend. He is obviously upset since they agreed she would never do that but she tells him its something she has to do and that he's being selfish! I just can't understand why he would want to even consider staying with this woman. Ms Grey plays Chelsea as icy and very self involved but I'm not so sure of how much acting we are actually seeing.

I found the character of Chelsea's boyfriend to be completely unbelievable. I suppose it's possible a guy might be okay that his girlfriend is a hooker but I don't believe that this guy would really be proud to have her as his woman. He seems like a nice guy--delusional but nice. I just don't think he would be the type of person to settle for that.

I was disappointed with "the Girlfriend Experience" but I know that Mr. Soderbergh's films can be either a hit like "Out Of Sight" and "The Limey" or a miss like "Solaris" and "The Good German" but I'm just glad that he is around. He is one of the few American directors willing to challenge audiences with unconventional and innovative cinema. I, for one, appreciate that and will always be willing to go along for the ride.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

SUGAR (2009)

Written & Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck

Where & When: Beverly Center 13 West Hollywood, CA, May 20, 2009 5:10PM

This is the story of Miguel "Sugar" Santos played by newcomer Alegenis Perez Soto. 'Sugar" is living in the Dominican Republic who dreams of coming to the United States to play baseball. He know that if he makes it, he can help make a better life for his family. "Sugar" first has to get through training camp in the Dominican Republic to move on to the next step of getting to a training camp in the United States. He is successful and finds himself in Iowa playing in the minor league. He can barely speak English and is trying to adjust to the culture shock of living in the U.S. He is staying with a kind couple, The Higgins who feel it is their duty to baseball to open their home and house a potential ball player.

"Sugar" is a pitcher and was very popular back home but now in the United States he is one of many who are trying for success in professional baseball. He does well and becomes a minor, new sensation on the team. He makes money and sends it home to his mother. In time he adapts to his new environment and finds himself attracted to the couple's young granddaughter, Anne. She is trying to be friendly and invites him to join her and her friends in their religious group. She is attracted to "Sugar" but is afraid to pursue the relationship further. This is one of the first disappointments "Sugar" will face.

"Sugar" is injured during a game and has to sit out for a while. Jorge, a Dominican friend on the team, who has helped guide "Sugar" is cut from the team because he never really recovered from his own injury. Jorge can't bring himself to go back to the Dominican Republic and goes to New York to start a new life.

Another Dominican joins the team and "Sugar" watches him as he becomes the latest hot, new pitcher. After this, "Sugar" has become disillusioned in baseball. He has lost his confidence and is afraid he will be discarded as well. He decides to leave the team and follow Jorge to New York. His mother tries talking him to go back to the team but he can't do it no matter how much the money he earns can help his family. He arrives in New York but doesn't find Jorge. Since he is there, he has to survive so he gets work in a restaurant. He befriends a carpenter and he helps "Sugar" with a place to live. He is now living for himself. in pursuit of his own future.

Mr. Soto was found after an extensive search in the Dominican Republic. He gives a good performance and actually is a baseball player. The film uses other players in supporting roles as well. I went to the Dominican Republic last year and I saw first hand how life is very difficult there. I can understand how people will do whatever they need to do to survive. It is poor country but the people are kind and welcoming. This is another great film by Ms Boden and Mr Fleck after "Half Nelson" which was one of my favorites of 2006. Now this is not as good as that but it is definitely worth checking out.


Written by Keenan Ivory Wayans & Shawn Wayans & Marlon Wayans & Craig Wayans & Damen Dante Wayans

Directed by Damen Dante Wayans

Where & When: Pacific's The Grove Stadium 14, Los Angeles, CA, May 22, 2009 7:45PM

"Dance Flick" is a spoof on recent films that involved dancing that includes "Save The Last Dance", "Step Up", "You Got Served" and "Hairspray". Here is a quick few words and sentences to sum up my opinion of this film:



Too stupid to be offensive.

Not as funny as it's maker's thinks it is nor as funny as it could have been.

There were five writers on this and THIS was the best they could come up with???

All I feel after sitting through this is that I wasted ninety minutes of my life and I'm never gonna get them back.

I have enjoyed some of the Wayans Brothers previous films (which is why I went to this) but if this had been the first movie of theirs I had ever seen... I would of thought they were hacks.

To be fair, There were a few funny moments-- But they were ALL in the trailer for the movie!

Enough said.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

OUTRAGE (2009)

Written & Directed by Kirby Dick

Where & When: Laemmle Sunset 5, West Hollywood, CA May 11, 2009 5:20PM

This documentary, "Outrage" is coming out at an appropriate time. America is finally being forced to deal with gays and lesbians and their place in this society. People of the LGBTQ communities are no longer accepting to be treated like second class citizens and demand true equality in all aspects in their lives. Marriage, adoption and serving openly in the military are some of the current topics being addressed.

This film deals with several current and former politicians who are gay or at the very least can be identified as "men who have sex with men" but are hiding this fact. They are pretending to be "straight" and at the same time voting against issues that are important to gay and lesbians.

Now in theory, I don't believe in dragging someone out of the closet kicking and screaming. But I also believe that when you are secretly gay in a position of power and the decisions you make can negatively effect the lives of millions of American gays and lesbians... well, I say kick the fucker out of that closet! Expose and shame the disgusting hypocrites so everyone will know who they are.

The film opens with a black screen and the voice of a man being questioned about an incident occurring in a bathroom stall in an airport. That man is, of course, former Senator Larry Craig (R-ID)as he tries to explain what happened in that bathroom and how he was certainly not looking for sex since he is not a homosexual. We then meet a man who claims to have had sex with Senator Craig. Who should we believe?

"Outrage" names several politicians as being closeted gays including Governor Charlie Crist (R-FL), Congressman David Drier (R-CA) and former New York Mayor Ed Koch. We are presented with interviews with people who either know someone or they themselves had a sexual relationship with these politicians. We are presented with other evidence to support the accusations as well as their voting record on gay issues.

There are also interviews with former closeted politicians, Jim McGreevey, Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank who share their stories on struggling of wanting to have a life in politics but choosing to sacrifice being who they truly are in order for that to happen. They all say that their lives were much more fulfilling once they came out.

I loved Michael Rogers, a gay activist who has made it his one man mission to out every closeted politician who opposes or votes against gay rights. He is shown at work, going out on radio or television to expose these people and the damage they are doing. Check out his blog, "Blogactive".

Although I may be biased, I found "Outrage" really fascinating and informative. I was completely unaware that some of these people were gay and the damage that they have caused. The person in this film who annoyed me the most was Mary Cheney. Although she is not in the closet, she has caused irreparable harm by working with and supporting the policies of her father, Dick Cheney. I don't care if he is her father, she should be ashamed.

I also enjoyed Mr. Dick's previous film "This Film is Not Yet Rated" about the secret group who decides on the rating of each movie. If you haven't seen it, go rent it. Now can it be said with complete certainty that all these politicians are actually gay? No, but I tend to believe the facts presented in "Outrage". It has been shown numerous times that there have been many public figures who have claimed, some quite adamantly, to be "straight" but we come to later learn that has hardly been the truth.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Written & Performed by Jake Broder & Vanessa Claire Smith

Directed By Taylor Hackford

Where & When: The Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse April 29, 2009 8:00PM

I know this blog is called "I Luv Movies" but I love theater almost just as much. So, from time to time, I will mention some theater I have seen. which I will recommend... or advise to avoid like a bad case of the clap.

I didn't go to the theater nearly as offen as I would like because I had difficulty finding someone to go with me. I don't mind going to a movie by myself but I just have the hardest time going to see a play without someone sitting next to me.

Luckily, I found Linda. We used to work together and she had complained to me about the exact same thing. Light bulbs went off... and we have been going together ever since. What I love about going with her is that even if the play is mediocre or just really bad, (We have been fortunate to, in our opinion, have only seen a couple "really bad" in the last three years) she always finds something positive to say about it.

I wish I had that gift.

There is a movie connection to this play... It is directed by Taylor Hackford who is much better known as a film director. He has directed "An Officer and A Gentleman " and last year's "Defiance" to name two of his films. In fact, that is how he got involved in directing this play. He was working on a film on this couple when he saw this play. At the time it was at the Sacred Fools, a small theater in Hollywood. He enjoyed it and wanted to get involved in transferring this to a bigger stage and potentially larger audiences.

I went to see this mainly because Linda is a big Keely Smith fan. I had heard of their names but was completely unacquainted with them or their music. So it seemed like a perfect opportunity to get educated.

The play opens in a hospital, with Louis Prima in a coma. This happened from complications from surgery to remove a brain tumor. The heart monitor starts beating faster, creating a rhythm... He rises. We are now inside of his head and he begins to tell us about himself.

He takes us back to his heyday in the 1950's when he was a big name in music. We are soon transported to the stage where Louis is enthusiastically performing with his band. We really learn all about him just from watching him, his joy in sharing the music with an audience. That's what he lives for and all consuming.

Later while at club, Louis reluctantly lets a young girl audition for him. She was nervous but he was mesmerized by her and her talent. This girl is Keely Smith and he knew she had the potential to be great performer. The combination of his skills and experience and her natural gift made them a winning team.

They soon became one of the hottest acts in America, traveling the country before settling in Sin city. They also fell in love and get married. While in Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra suggests that Keely make a solo record. Mr. Sinatra also suggests that he would like to get to know Keely more... intimately. She declines the latter offer but decides to do the recording although she is concerned about Louis' reaction. Frank smoothly convinces him it's a great idea to the point of making Louis think he came up with it.

Keely's star begins to start burning bright while Louis begins to cool. This puts a strain on their relationship and Louis retreats into the arms of several welcoming female fans. Keely has had enough of his philandering and finds herself drifting into the comforting arms of Mr. Sinatra.

During one performance, Louis refused to conduct Keely. She walks out on him and the act which promptly put an end to one of the most successful musical teams.

Throughout the play we are treated to many of the songs which made them famous including "Hey Boy, Hey Girl", "Angelina" and "That Old Black Magic".

Since I am unfamiliar with Louis Prima and Keely Smith, I don't know how much of their spirit is captured in this play. Mr. Broder is the stand out, in great voice and boundless energy. He bounces from one end of the stage to the other and you can't keep your eyes off of him. Ms Smith (no relation) has a pleasant voice but she didn't leave a lasting impression in her singing or acting. The band really rocks the house.

The theater is small, seating no more than 150, which does create an intimate nightclub feeling. This is also a problem because the stage is too small for such a big story. The location changes required in the play were not fully realized. The production does well using the space to the maximum but I still did find it a little distracting.

I think this has an opportunity to go from a good play to a great play. The moving to a larger venue and additional production enhancements with do the trick. I also hope Mr. Hackford gets a chance to make a film of this as well.

I keep referring to this as a play instead of a musical but I think it is more of a play with music than a traditional musical. It doesn't matter... It is certainly worth seeing so do something different...

Get out of the house and GO TO THE THEATER!

Monday, May 4, 2009


Written by Susannah Grant

Directed by Joe Wright

Where & When: Los Feliz 3, Los Angeles, CA May 3, 2009 4:20 PM

"The Soloist" is a touching drama based on a real-life story about two very different men who unwittingly help each other reconnect to something they have both lost while at the same time forging an unlikely friendship.

We first meet Los Angeles Times reporter, Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) cycling through the Hollywood hills when he crashes face first in to the cold concrete. After he is bandaged up, he is struggling to find the story for his next article for the paper. It doesn't help that he is also under pressure for the article by his editor (the great Catherine Keener) who also happens to be his ex-wife. It appears that the marriage ended due to his inability to open himself up enough to let her in to his life.

One day, he hears music coming from the street where he discovers a homeless man playing a violin that only has two strings. This gentleman is named Nathaniel Anthony Ayers who is brilliantly played by Jaime Foxx. Nathaniel appears to be schizophrenic and when he mentions he had attended Julliard, Steve thinks he has found his story.

He write the column about Nathaniel which inspires a reader to donate a cello she is no longer able to play. This sparks a plan by Steve to assist in making Nathaniel's life better. Steve wants to help Nathaniel by telling his story to the world while trying to get him off the streets. This is not as easy as it may seem because Steve has to deal with the obstacles of institutional bureaucracies as well as the complications and the unpredictability of Nathaniel's illness. A true friendship forms by Steve allowing himself to truly connect with another person while Nathaniel finds someone who he believes is actually trying to help bring him back into society.

How Nathaniel ended up on the streets is told in a series of flashbacks cut throughout the film. We find out how the disease slowly took over him starting when he was a child until he finally loses the battle while attending college. Steve finds Nathaniel has a sister (Lisa Gay Hamilton) who was unaware of what had happened to him. We find out she did the best she could for him but Nathaniel's problems were really more than she could really handle on her own.

We are taken inside of Nathaniel's head to help us have some kind of understanding of what he is going through. This is not entirely successful and the worst part was when Nathaniel was listening to the LA Philharmonic rehearse and all we see accompanying the music on the screen is flashing colored lights. This went on for way too long and found myself more irritated by this than any thing else. I understood completely the joy and the pain Nathaniel received from the music by listening and watching him.

This moving film is filled with many really strong performances especially from the leads, Mr. Foxx and Mr. Downey Jr. I have admired the work of the British director Joe Wright and have enjoyed his previous films like, "Pride and Prejudice" and "Atonement". And he has made another exceptional film. If you liked those films, you will not be disappointed. "The Soloist" helped make me more aware of how I tend not to always see the many homeless men and women on the streets who ended up there certainly not by choice but by unfortunate circumstances.