Union Square

Release Date: 2003

Plot Outline: Union Square is a very emotional and raw documentary that follows the lives of seven homeless drug addicts that spend most of their time in Union Square, New York.

I was drawn to this film on a personal level. I am no drug addict but I do work with this particular population. I work in AIDS prevention as a Harm Reduction Educator. I had a few problems with this documentary because I work with heroin addicts on a daily basis.

Documentaries normally capture the audience and allow them to experience the lives of other populations they are otherwise unaware of. This allows the audience to sympathize and have empathy for those in the documentary. That was not the case with Union Square. Union Square not only lacks the ability of engaging the audience in sympathetic emotion but it actually does the complete opposite. Watching Union Square, I was angered and put off by these seven individuals, some more so than others. Shockingly, the documentary leaves you with a strong dislike for these homeless and struggling addicts. Though we see them begging for money, sleeping wherever they find some space, and shooting up, many of them state that they have alienated and stolen from their friends and families. A few were parents but had not seen their children in years. One man shared an encounter of his with police. He said he was drunk in a star bucks. Because of this employees would not allow him to use the restroom. Out of anger and frustration he kicked a glass door and it shattered. Of course, police arrested him. The smug, ‘I hate everyone and don’t care about the world or anyone in it’ attitude of the individuals does not exactly make them likable or charming.

One man stated that he makes about 80 dollars a day. This is more than a fulltime minimum wage employee makes daily.

Union Square was a great idea. Homeless drug addicts are a tragedy in this country. They do need help and this situation needs to be made aware of. What I don’t like is that this documentary shows us stereotypical drug addicts.
The documentary was intense and chaotic. The music of the film intensifies the already intense mood. The music was as chaotic, loud, and disturbing as was the documentary itself.

Dead Snow

Release Date: June 19th 2009

Plot Outline: A group of friends go on a ski vacation only to be attacked by Nazi Zombies before their fun even begins.

In the past few years horror movies have become less than creepy. Some people even consider them to be comedies now. The thing about horror movies is that we know what to expect. We have learned the music cues, the fake outs, and the tones of voice, we even know what to expect with particular camera angles. We usually know what is coming and when it is coming.  Movies such as Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, 3, and 4 were popular comical spoofs of the ever-predicable horror film.

The element of surprise and the unknown is what scares the audience. Not knowing what to expect is a key element in horror. Dead Snow was a successful zombie film for the most part because it was foreign.
The music, actors, and film making cues are different in Norway than they are here. The audience is not accustomed to their way of film making. Because of this Dead Snow had a few elements we were unfamiliar with here in the U.S.
The zombies in Dead Snow were former Nazis. They weren’t like the usual zombies we are accustomed to. They reminded me of the zombies from 28 weeks later, aside from the Nazi part. As zombies they were fast, more human like, and murderous…I suppose as Nazis were?

The film was pretty slow and uneventful for a zombie movie but it has a creepy feel.  Nothing really occurred until more than half way through the film. There was too much building. It was actually good until the zombies appeared. Once they did the movie got a little ridiculous. The blood and gore was not convincing at all. The characters weren’t likable so I didn’t really care if they died.

There was somewhat of a plot hole that I noticed but I can’t state it because it might give something away.

Email me at Moviesaccordingtodes@gmail.com if you have seen the movie and want to talk about it.

Overall it was a good movie but not that great of a zombie film. I was disappointed by the second half.

17 Again

Release Date: April 17th 2009

Plot Outline: A man is disappointed with the way his life turned out. He wishes to be 17 again to rewrite his life. He wakes up as his former 17 year old self and finally gets his chance to make his life go the way he wants.

I have to say that I didn’t want to see this film just because of Zac Efron. I was not a fan. I didn’t like his pretty hair, his preppy face, and I was against his Disney activities and his choice to date Disney channel girls. I am embarrassed to say that I am now in love with Zac Efron. He was a much better actor than I thought he would be. He was funny, adorable, and charming. This role of his completely won me over. Just like the amusing Zac Efron, 17 Again was adorable, funny, and charming. It was definitely a feel good film but it had a touch of sadness that was all too realistic. Though the movie is meant to be funny it had a strong underlying message throughout the film. It was about our hopes and dreams that are ruined by the unfortunate surprises of life and realizing that your dreams aren’t always as great as the reality you are already living. The grass is always greener on the other side, 17 Again gives us a beautiful example of this. Sometimes those unfortunate surprises are blessings in disguise.

Overall the acting was decent but I was quite surprised that Zac Efron’s acting left Matthew Perry in the dust. There is a particular scene when Efron turns into Perry. The acting comparison was just sad. Efron was so natural and convincing while Perry obviously struggled to transform into his character.

I think this is the beginning of Zac Efron’s successful career and sadly the end of Matthew Perry’s not so successful career.

I was skeptical about seeing 17 Again. A movie about going back and reliving your life…it has been done many, many times before. Don’t let that discourage you though. 17 Again is well equip to handle the competition. I was impressed. I liked this movie a lot. It was just the type of feel good film I had been wanting to see for a while. Oddly enough it encourages you to reflect and reevaluate your own life.

The Perfect Holiday

Release Date: December 12th 2007

Plot Outline: A little girl asks Santa to bring her mom a husband for Christmas. The mall Santa falls in love with the little girl’s mother, making her Christmas wish come true but not without its complications.

Dejavu! Oh wait…it just seems like I have seen the same movie a hundred times. The Perfect Holiday was pretty much the same feel as the Last Holiday, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, The Best Man, and Are We There Yet? Needless to say that it was extremely predictable.
They all reminded me of each other so much that I did some research; I was surprised to find that they all had different writers and directors.

I felt that this type of movie is not for Terrence Howard. He is a much better actor than this cliché type of holiday movie. He is already well established, he did great films such as Crash and Hustle and Flow. Why this film?

Though predictable and a cookie cutter holiday film, I enjoyed The Perfect Holiday. It’s light, cute and funny. Who doesn’t love a cliché holiday flick?

Gabrielle Union, Queen Latifah, and Morris Chestnut are always in the same type of movies. They are good actors. I don’t know why they choose to type cast themselves?

This isn’t much of a review because it wasn’t much of a movie. It was a cute, mindless, feel good holiday film. You see it once during the holidays and never think about it ever again.

Best Eye Opening Films About Racism

Release Date: March 3rd 1989

Plot Outline: Based on a true story, an unconventional teacher (Morgan Freeman) returns to a school he was fired from as the principal. It is up to him to turn the school around which has been over taken by drug abuse, gang violence, sexual harassment, and poverty.

Release Date: May 6th 2005

Plot Outline: Powerful film surrounding several lives that intertwine; each person is affected by racism in a unique way.

Release Date: December 25th 2007

Plot Outline: Based on a true story that took place in 1935, a professor (Denzel Washington) encourages his students to form the first debate team of their college. They have a difficult time entering debates because they are a primarily black team.


Release Date: August 11th 1995

Plot Outline: An ex marine (Michelle Pfeiffer) is hired as a teacher to straighten out a classroom full of delinquents and unwilling students. She uses unconventional teaching methods to inspire her students and to gain their trust.


Release Date: March 25th 2005

Plot Outline: A remake of the 1967 film, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Guess Who? takes a lighter road in dealing with racism. A young black woman (Zoe Saldana)  brings her white boyfriend (Ashton Kutcher) home to meet her family for the first time.

Release Date: June 30th 1989

Plot Outline: On the hottest day of the year in Brooklyn, tensions rise along with the heat. Conflicts surface when the only two places local businesses are a Korean Market and an Italian pizzeria that are located right across the street from each other.


Release Date: January 13th 2006

Plot Outline: In 1966 a coach (Josh Lucas) leads his primarily black basketball team to the championships but not without many racial driven incidents along the way. 

Taken

Release Date: January 30th 2009

Plot Outline: A former spy uses his former training and connections to find his daughter who has been kidnapped and sold into sex slavery.

I liked Taken a lot. It was full of suspense, it was an intense thriller, the action kept me excited and on the edge of my seat BUT I have a few issues with this film. Though it was exciting and a great action thriller, I don’t like it that the film took something as serious as sex trafficking as an action movie. It is a serious issue going on in the world right now and it is not to be taken lightly. It would be different if it was made to make people aware of the growing problem but it wasn’t. It was clear that it was only made for entertainment purposes. It is a sensitive, serious topic that should not be taken lightly and it most certainly should not be the subject for a blockbuster action film.

Coraline

Release Date: February 6th 2009

Plot Outline: A little girl finds a doorway that leads her to another dimension, a more exciting life than her own. But it isn’t as wonderful as it appears to be.

I was very excited to see Coraline. It looked like a fantastical kids movie. One I have been longing to see since The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I’ll just get right into it and say, I was very disappointed. First off, is this even supposed to be viewed by children? I can see how it would be creepy for a child to watch and besides that, Coraline isn’t a very good role model. She is a very unpleasant child, not nice at all. She is always nasty to friends and her parents, and she always has some sort of attitude. It is obvious that she gets her bad behavior from her parents. They don’t seem to be the most adoring of parents. They never have any time for her and they sadly have no shame in letting her know that.
Along with all of her other negative behavior, Coraline has bad manners. She merely throws things on the floor when she is through with them and is quite demanding with her parents.

I wasn’t a fan of Coraline, the character or the movie. Aside from all of the negative character flaws, the film was slow moving and dull. Children would be attracted by all of the colors and graphics but there isn’t much excitement. Though the plot is original and interesting, it wasn’t successfully carried out or developed.

This is a kids movie you should skip, for the adults and for the children.

Flashdance

Release Date: April 15th 1983

Plot Outline: A woman working two jobs as a welder and dancer dreams of getting into dance company.

A city girl trying to make it on her own; working two jobs, has her own aparment that used to be a warehouse, and trying to pursue her dreams. Alex is an admirable character. She is strong-minded, strong willed, confident, and takes no BS from anyone.

Though Flashdance was very boring, it was however, quite inspiring. Throughout the slow paced, dull film, there was a very well received underlying message; try for your dreams or you never know if they will come true. Without our dreams we die.

This movie took place in the 80’s and we knew it. Everything was very 80’s. The hair, the clothes, and the music were very true to the 80’s. Normally I love dancing movies but the dancing style of the 80’s just wasn’t my taste so I didn’t enjoy the performances, though I did enjoy and much appreciate the inspirational message.

This is a feel good movie to see when you are feeling hopeless and in need of some encouragement and inspiration.