How to Spend $20

By Kim Hollis

February 17, 2009

The cool kids never use umbrellas.

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For you freaky fans of Chuck Palahniuk. You know who you are. And what I'm talking about: Choke

I really don't know what to say about Choke. I'm not a big fan of Chuck Palahniuk's books. In fact, I almost actively dislike them but I think there are redeemable qualities that keep me from going that far. Thus, I was quite ambivalent about the prospect of an adaptation of Choke, not because I cared one way or another about the novel, but rather because it starred the great Sam Rockwell and was written and directed by Clark Gregg (the guy who played Calvin Trager on Sports Night. For those of you who don't read this site regularly, our annual awards are named after that character. We like Clark Gregg).

Unfortunately, the Palahniuk is all too strong in this film. It's weird, sometimes unwatchable and offensive for no good reason. I want to say that I really hated the movie, but there are a lot of things going on that are actually quite good and deserving of praise. Rockwell is absolutely terrific as a guy who shouldn't be likable at all. And Gregg himself has a pretty nice supporting role. The most honest thing I can say here is that it's not a movie for everyone. It's probably not for many people. But I do think there are people who will really like it, so if you think a movie about a sex-addicted guy who works at a historical park and visits his mother in a nursing home might be for you, well, give it a shot.

For people who think that Angelina Jolie has enough children that she probably wouldn't miss one or two of them: Changeling

Most critics seem to be in agreement that Changeling isn't one of director Clint Eastwood's better outings. The complaints seem to come from the fact that the story is told in a very black and white fashion, which disappoints viewers who are used to seeing Eastwood work more in shades of gray.

Many of those same reviewers commented that Angelina Jolie didn't give the best performance of her career here, either. That didn't stop her from getting an Academy Award nomination, though I'm sure it will be quite a shocker if she does manage to win a second statue for her collection on Sunday.

Now that Changeling is available on DVD, it gives a wide audience a chance to determine their own opinion about the film. I know that for myself, I skipped the movie in theaters after reading reviews and hearing friends comment about it. I think it's probably DVD rental-worthy, though.


For the Cloverfield Monster, who's a little ticked that someone seems to have stolen his shtick: Quarantine

A masterful marketing campaign helped propel Quarantine to a terrific $14.2 million opening and an eventual $36 million take, which is all pretty fantastic news for Screen Gems when you consider that the horror film had a $12 million budget. A movie that presented itself as "found footage" that comes out as the result of a TV reporter and her cameraman trapped in an apartment building that is quarantined by the CDC. It seems people have come down with a little virus that turns them into killers. Perhaps someone should have given Alice from Resident Evil a call.

I've been bored with horror films lately, but this is one I'm willing to give a chance. It feels different and fresh even though it's borrowed just about every element from some other film. I guess it's just nice to not see more slasher flicks or torture porn.

February 17, 2009
Body of Lies (2008)
Body of Lies (2-Disc Special Edition) (2008)
Changeling (2008)
Choke (2008)
Dead Like Me: Life After Death (2008)
Feast III: The Happy Finish (2008)
Flash of Genius (2008)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Extended Edition) (2008)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Widescreen) (2008)
Hobson's Choice (Criterion Collection) (1954)
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (2008)
I Served the King of England (2006)
Midnight Meat Train (Director's Cut) (2008)
Mr. Average (2006)
One Long Night (2007)
Palo Alto, CA (2007)
Quarantine (2008)
Religulous (2008)
Screamers: The Hunting (2009)
Still Waiting... (2008)
Touch the Top of the World (2006)

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