FILM : Smokin' Aces - An Ace of Waste

Synopsis : Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven), a sleazy Las Vegas stage magician, has agreed to turn state’s evidence against prominent and powerful mob boss, Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin). Primo, intent on doing away with the lousy snitch, puts out word that he will pay $1,000,000 for Buddy’s head. The offer attracts every hit man and woman within shouting distance and these deadly assassins descend on the Lake Tahoe penthouse hotel where Israel is hiding in Smokin’ Aces.

I hate it when it happens... A movie that kinda' looks promising; you expect it to be cool and hip and fun. You started to visualize Tarantino and Ritchie or Kill Bill and Snatch etc. But then it turns out to be just another one of those trying-too-hard-to-be-cool movie that the shooting and the killing has become somewhat pointless, redundant and boring.

Smokin' Aces is a cartoonish Tarantino wannabe overload filmmaking style that is just so overdone. It's like True Romance crossed with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels remade with the artistic vision of Domino. If Kill Bill was the ultimate exploitation picture, then Smokin' Aces is too-hip-for-Hollywood writer/director Joe Carnahan's depraved attempt to top it. Carnahan doesn't actually have a movie here; it's just a premise. He’s just got about half a dozen strenuously 'colorful' assassins, all converging on Buddy’s Lake Tahoe hotel room at the exact same time. So it’s not so much a motion picture as it is the last 20 minutes of True Romance dragged kicking and screaming out to the two-hour mark. And the ending tries to be more like The Usual Suspects (but fails) - and ending of mind-boggling improbability, to send us home feeling lost and confused. If this paragraph sounded like a mess or a bad mash-up of great movies - well that's just sum up what Smokin' Aces is.

Carnahan has attracted an impressive cast, but he throws so many of them at you in his opening frames it makes your head spin. He even managed to get hip-hop icons Alicia Keys and Common to make their motion picture debut. There's no doubt they look cool, but that just about it. In fact, in my opinion the most worthwhile thing about this over-orchestrated mess is Jason Bateman as corrupt lawyer Rip Reed who forgot to wear his pants. He's the only saving grace; often funny and occasionally raising the film above its level. Everybody else in this film is working too damn hard at being edgy.

Director Carnahan and his behind the camera crew have a fine eye for action and Smokin' Aces does looks good, but good looks do not make a great movie. This is a cotton candy film, not a satisfying meal at all. I enjoy shoot 'em up action and gritty dialog as much as any fan of this genre but I also want a story that will stay with me. It is fun (in an ultra-violence kind of way) but it’s not fantastic. The violence is intricately choreographed, but as over the top as a Sunday morning cartoon. It's all supposed to be ironically, blackly funny but the over sensory onslaught just produces exhaustion and the bored sense of having seen it all before.

TV : Heroes Hiatus, Again??

Quick recap from episode 18 *could contain spoilers* :

That's all you get from Claire nowadays - a wry smile. The only smile on Ep. 18. *sigh*

The new badass chick, Candice Wilmer with 'Mystique'-like powers. Mighty morphin! Candice is played by Missy Peregrym. If she looks familiar, chances are you might seen her in the gymnastic movie, 'Stick It'.

Grandma Petrelli knows about it too?? Never saw that one coming...

Hey.. It's that guy from Caligula!! Seriously, his character in Heroes is exactly like the one he played in HBO's Entourage. Mean, sarcastic and ruthless..

Now for the bad news..

I've just found out that Heroes will be going on a brief hiatus. According to various sources, it will either be a 5-weeks or a 7-weeks (??) hiatus, or somewhere in-between. So the next episode which is, Episode 19 will be aired on the 23rd of April.

7 weeks??
I have to wait THAT long...?
What's with this hiatus.. I can't seem to understand it, really...

Shit. Guess we will patiently wait.

*a very,very,very..VERY long sigh*

FILM : Music & Lyrics - Singing To The Right Tune

From Yahoo Movies - Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) is a washed-up '80s pop star who's been reduced to working the nostalgia circuit at county fairs and amusement parks. The charismatic and talented musician gets a chance at a comeback when reigning diva Cora Corman (Haley Bennet) invites him to write and record a duet with her, but there's a problem--Alex hasn't written a song in years, he's never written lyrics, and he has to come up with a hit in a matter of days. Enter Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), Alex's beguilingly quirky plant lady, whose flair for words strikes a chord with the struggling songwriter. On the rebound from a bad relationship, Sophie is reluctant to collaborate with anyone, especially commitment-phobe Alex. As their chemistry heats up at the piano and under it, Alex and Sophie will have to face their fears--and the music--if they want to find the love and success they both deserve.

I went to see this movie because of two main reasons - Hugh Grant & Drew Barrymore. I find that Hugh is usually entertaining playing charming rakes in a rom-com movies. He got that comic timing and always delivered his lines smoothly. And Drew... well, well, well; I fancied her since, like, err.. Doppelganger! (..remember that one?). So the idea of seeing them together, doing what they do best, is great. And as it turns out, Music & Lyrics (M&L) is quite a charming movie.

M&L turns out to be a better than average romantic comedy where the characters click and, unusual for movies of the genre, there are instances when genuine laughter bubbles up.There is a tendency in romantic comedies to make everything bigger than it needs to be. So we get overamped comedy sequences and a romantic finale so extreme that it pulls us out of the story. Here, both pitfalls are largely avoided. And the ending, while undeniably romantic, shows enough restraint to be satisfying without going over the top. This significance of this should not be underestimated. Plus, when the inevitable romantic complications arrive, they have nothing to do with another man and/or woman and everything to do with morality and ethics.

I believe that romantic comedies often rise or fall based on the stars at their center, and M&L is lucky to have both Drew and Hugh offering their services. The two generate more heart than they do heat, but that's the point. You want to see them together not just because they're adorable, but because you believe that their characters can take each other to a place neither could get to on their own. Credit also should also be given to the lovely supporting cast; Brad Garrett as Alex's manager, the very cute Haley Bennet as Cora Corman (..more on her later), and suprisingly, Campbell Scott who I haven't seen in such a long time (..remember Steve from Singles??).

I should also mention about the music in M&L. The film opens with a sidesplitting '80s-vintage music-video starring PoP!, one-hit wonders singing their bouncy ditty, "Pop! Goes My Heart." (This song and the rest of the movie's new tunes, all frothy fun, were written by Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger.) There's Hugh Grant, face smooth as a newborn's bottom and hair moussed and mussed into a mullet, hip-thrusting to drum-machine rhythms like Andrew Ridgely of Wham! That music-video is so damn funny. There's also this cute little song called "Way Back Into Love", that was sung by Hugh & Drew that serves as a connection between the movie storyline. That song is so infectious, even after three days, I still can't get the melody out of my head! So if you want to hear how good (or bad) Hugh Grant & Drew Barrymore sings, I provided a link down there for you to download.

Music and Lyrics is frequently appealing, often witty, and occasionally funny, but it's not going to convert skeptics and cynics into sentimentalists. If you're thinking of watching a light-hearted comedy, filled with some sugary moments (but not too sweet) and a good story, than I suggest you go and watch this movie with the one you love. I guarantee you will have a good time. The movie fails to achieve a position in the top ranks of romantic comedies, but it resides high enough to be worth a look by anyone with a penchant for some rom-com love.

Links :

'Way Back Into Love' sung by Drew Barrymore & Hugh Grant
a clip of Music & Lyrics in YouTube
Official Site

Here's some pictures of the very lovely, and very cute Haley Bennet who plays Cora Corman in M&L. She's 18 and M&L is actually her debut movie. She's also an inspiring singer-songwriter, currently recording her first album. Check out her MySpace here. Judging from her talent as an actress / singer and her beauty, I think we will hear more from this girl. Enjoy.. :)