Trailer Time: Once Upon A Time In Vietnam, Getaway & Pompeii

Once Upon A Time In Vietnam (formerly¬†Monk On Fire) has obvious ties to Spaghetti Westerns considering it’s themes and title, but it also looks to mix action, fantasy and history in a way that we can get behind. Dustin Nguyen directed and stars in this flick that will see Vietnamese theaters on August 22nd. Here’s hoping for a quick, but good dubbed version to makes its way to the States without too much delay.¬†[via Asian Movie Pulse]

If you watch network TV on a regular basis, you’ve probably seen a good deal of commercials for Courtney Solomon’s Getaway starring Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and Jon Voight. Hawke and Gomez seem to spend a good deal of time in a super fast car driving around and committing crimes for Voight in order to get Hawke’s wife back from the criminal. It opens on August 30th.

And finally, here’s the teaser for Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii starring Kit Harington (Game Of Thrones) and Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) as two star crossed lovers trying to stay alive as Mt. Vesuvius rains down ash around them. The film bows on February 21, 2014.

Revisiting Mission: Impossible (1996)

What a difference fifteen years can make. When Mission: Impossible came out in 1996 I was 13, Tom Cruise was still a viable actor and Emilio Estevez was still in movies. Okay, that last one wasn’t very nice and I might be completely wrong about the second one, but I know I’ve been leery about watching Cruise flicks ever since his Oprah freakout and learning more about the weirdness that is Scientology.

I think I saw this movie in the theater with friends when it came out, but can’t be certain. I remember really liking it at the time, not knowing anything about Brian De Palma (I think this was the first of his movies I ever saw) and probably not having as much experience with the kind of plot featured in the flick. Since then, I’ve seen the whole “It’s not what you think!” thing done better and worse, but even if this wasn’t the first example I saw, it was highly influential.

Watching it again was a lot of fun because I haven’t seen it very many times since it came out. I had forgotten that Estevez was in the flick, then after a few moments remembered and then remembered why I didn’t remember. Ouch. About 10 or 15 minutes in, I remembered the whole plot and was along for the ride. On the negative side of things, this is not a Usual Suspects-type fake out movie where it’s actually more interesting watching after knowing the secret. In fact, it actually felt a little silly at times, knowing the truth as the heroes slog through things. On the other hand, I was able to look at the movie with a new eye thanks to having studied film a bit and watching a ton of movies. De Palma uses all kinds of actual director’s tricks to help convey mood and emotion without slamming you in the face with it. When Cruise’s Ethan Hunt first realizes he’s not in a good spot and returns to the safe house, the director uses all kinds of high angles making Hunt look small and worries. I’m sure there’s lots more, but that’s the one that really stuck out.

Aside from that, though, it’s still a pretty solid movie. Sure, some of the special effects don’t hold up so well (the helicopter at the end), but overall I was jazzed to watch the movie again. Of course I was looking forward to the big scenes I remembered, but was also surprised by the ones I had forgotten. I knew the “hanging-from-the-ceiling” bit was coming, but had forgotten about the exploding fish tank. Oh man, that is such a cool looking scene! I’ve got the next two flicks queued up from Netflix and am excited to revisit them. This is such an interesting film series to me because it not only spans a fairly long period of time in Hollywood, but also has a diverse and impressive line up of directors: De Palma, John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird doing Ghost Protocol, which I probably won’t get to see until it comes out on DVD.

Quick Movie Review: Holes (2003)

A few weekends back, the missus and I watched part of Holes on TV, but neither of us were very focused. We liked what we saw enough to move it to the top of the Netflix Queue. I assumed we’d just turn it on at the moment we stopped watching (probably 20-30 minutes before the end, maybe less) and just see how it ended. However, the missus wanted to watch from the beginning because she was in and out of the room the first time around. No big deal, I figured I’d read comics while it was on, but I actually found myself drawn back into the story.

The movie–based on a book I never heard of before the movie came out–stars Shia LaBeouf as a kid whose great great grandfather got cursed because of a pig and a girl way back in the day. That bad luck carries through to Shia as he gets unfairly sentenced to a work camp after a pair of stolen autographed shoes literally fall out of the sky and are found on his person by the cops. Said camp is run by the warden played by Sigourney Weaver and her underling Jon Voight. Shia and the other kids are made to dig holes five feet deep and five feet across one a day for as long as they’re there to build character. They’re continually told they’re digging for their own good, but if they find something, they’re supposed to tell one of the adults. Meanwhile, we get multiple flashbacks to Shia’s relatives getting cursed as well as the inhabitants of this area back when a lake was in the place of a desert.

I was really impressed with how well put together this movie is. You can pick up what’s going on and how the different stories relate to what Shia’s going through, but if not, they’re explained soon after. There were parts I caught on to pretty early on and others the missus explained to me right before the movie did. The whole thing plays out as a pretty interesting mystery, which makes sense considering you get the feeling there is a reason for them to be digging holes aside from, as the adults say, building character. It’s funny though, as Shia continues to dig the holes, he does wind up building character thanks to his growing friendship with the younger character Zero, a fellow “camper.” Anyway, the movie has a bit of a fantasy bent to it but more in the fairy tale sense. In fact, that’s what the story reminded me of the most a really well put together fairy tale complete with curse, witch, moral and most importantly kids throwing off the yokes of adult oppression and proving that they’re smart enough to get by.

I highly recommend the movie. I’m still thinking about it now and it inspired me to start eating sunflower seeds again (I literally saw Voight eating them on screen and ran out to buy some from the nearby gas station). It can be a nasty habit, but I love them.