Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

What do you get if you mix in a broken down hot tub, a group of middle aged losers, and an exotic energy drink? A time machine, of course. Hot tub time machine is a better movie than its title suggests, but it doesn't really bring too much to the table. It stars John Cusack, Criag Robinson, and Rob Corddry as three buddies facing a huge mid-life crises. And a magical hot tub time machine is exactly what these guys needed to re-examine and restart their lives. Overall, this movie does have its funny moments, but just don't expect too much. John Cusack seems really out of place in this movie, and you can tell from his performance that he may just be thinking the same thing. If you are in mood to just sit back and watch a silly movie and not have to think too much, then this might be what you are looking for.

Rotten Tomatoes- critics-64% community- 58%
Yong's Rating- 6.5/10 (skip it)


Man on Wire (2008)

There are those of us who only dream but never act upon it, and there are few like Philippe Petit who does everything within his powers to achieve it. Man on Wire (2008) is a documentary about the daring French wire walker, Philippe Petit. he is a true thrill seeker who loves what he does best, putting himself within inches of death in order to entertain the audience and prove to himself that he can do anything he puts his mind to. One day, Philippe stumbles upon the challenge that he's been waiting for all his life; the twin towers. The twin towers never leave his mind, constantly taunting him, and daring him to conquer it. The documentary chronicles philippe's exhilarating chase to conquer his biggest challenge. This is a truly inspiring documentary that is sure to entertain you.

Rotten Tomatoes-Critics-100%, community-88%
Yong's Rating-8/10 (worth a look)


Departures (2008)

Departures is a Japanese film about a young cellist who returns to his childhood home from Tokyo after losing his job with the orchestra. Unable to afford the expensive life style of the big city, Daigo has to take his wife back to his hometown in hopes to get his life back on tract. Back home, a fateful encounter with a newspaper ad leads Daigo to a career that seems as if he was meant for all along. Departures is truly one of the most beautiful film I've ever seen. The acting as well as the beautiful cinematography draws you in and leaves you with a sense of peace. So, if you are looking for a film with genuine human emotions then consider checking out Departures.

Rotten Tomatoes-critics-81% community- 87%
Yong's rating-8.8/10 (highly recommended)


Shutter Island (2010)

In Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese creates an atmosphere of going on a thrilling roller coaster ride. Set in the year 1954, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as US marshal Teddy Daniel sent to a mental hospital for the criminally insane on Shutter Island in order to investigate the mysterious disappearance of one of its inmates. During the investigation you get to learn the past behind its central character, and the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. While the story was adopted from a novel, Scorsese shows his master touch as a film maker. Leo provides another stellar performance under the direction of Scorsese and the rest of the cast is full of wonderful actors and actresses. The film starts out with a bang, and whether you love or hate this film will depend largely on how you feel about its ending. Personally, I liked the ending. This is a well made film by a great director and it's a film anyone looking for a good thriller should check out.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-67% Community-73%
Yong's rating- 9.3/10 (highly recommended)


Before Sunrise (1995)

A guy on a trip to a foreign country meets a girl on a train, hits it off, and spends an amazing romantic day with her in one of the most romantic cities in the world. Sounds too cliche to be a believable movie? Well, you would think so on the surface. However, Before Sunrise is a very intelligent and intimate film that takes a close look at the nature of relationships and life. Ethan Hawke plays Jesse, a free-spirited American on a trip to Europe, and Julie Delpy play Celine, a neurotic French grad student. The two meet by chance on a train and strike up a conversation. Jesse has only one day left to spend in Europe and persuades Julie to spend the day with him in Vienna before he has to leave. When the two gets off the train together, we are treated to watching the two strangers find out more about themselves and each other through series of engaging conversations behind the backdrop of beautiful Vienna streets. The film is very slow-moving, but it does a great job of creating character development and i genuinely felt interested in hearing their opinions. This movie may not be for everyone. It is a very refreshing take from the everyday romantic movies, that anyone interested should watch.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-100%, community-92%
Yong's Rating-8.3/10 (recommended)

Zombieland (2009)

Zombieland is a fun and very enjoyable zombie comedy. While it is not as good as Shaun of the Dead, it is definitely worth a look if you are looking for a fun zombie-bashing time at the movies. It stars Jesse Eisenberg (who basically plays the same character he played in adventureland), woody harrelson, emma stone (the hot girl from superbad, and yes she is still hot), and abigail breslin (little girl from little miss sunshine). The movie takes place in a world where mysterious brain disease has quickly spread, turning humans into zombies. the movie follows the two basic zombie rules: number one, you get bitten, you turn into zombie and number two you must blow up the zombie's head to make sure it is dead. Bascially, blow off their head before they bite and devour you. Zombieland tells the story of the four surviving outcasts' struggle to survive and find the joy in the little things along the way.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-89%, Community- 87%
Yong's Rating-8.5/10 (highly recommended)


The Other Guys (2010)

I saw this movie during summer break, and i meant to review it earlier. Well, here it is. The Other Guys is a buddy cop comedy starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. The two unlikely partners stumble upon a lead to a series of crimes and it is up to them to find the bad guy. These two guys definitely share a good comedic chemistry and know how to carry a movie like this one. Will Ferrell is his usual funny self and his fans are sure to enjoy his performance. Wahlberg plays a more serious role to the funny Ferrell and provides a good balance. This movie delivers what it is meant to deliver; a light, fun getaway for a few hours. So if are in a mood for some silly laughs, you should check this out.

Rotten Tomatoes- critics-78%, community-63%
Yong's rating-7/10 (worth a look)


Moon (2009)

If sci-fi movies are your thing, then Moon is definitely a movie you should consider adding to your must see list. It takes place in the future where the world's source of energy is harvested on a station on the moon by a single astronaut commissioned for 3 year contract. Sam Rockwell delivers a brilliant performance as the astronaut on the verge of finishing his contracted time and longing to get back to earth and his family. Basically, Sam Rockwell steals the show, because, well, he's pretty much the only person in the movie. And, that's a good thing in this case. I'm not going to get into too much details of the movie. the less you know about the movie, more you'll enjoy it. So if you are looking for an engaging, thrilling, and well-made sci-fi film, go check out Moon.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 89% community-95%
Yong's Rating- 8.5/10 (worth a look)


Wild Strawberries (1957)*#

My personal experience with films in general can be divided into before and after I was introduced to the works of Ingmar Bergman. I've always been a casual fan of movies and knew that certain movies were better than others. But, as I got older I began to notice that certain directors made the movie watching experience much more special. They had a way of reaching me in a personal level that I never realized movies were capable of doing. Bergman uses his films to explore the deepest fears and desires of the human condition with such honesty. Wild Strawberries is one of my favorite Bergman films because it is so personal and I feel that I can watch it at different points in my life and learn something new from it every time. Here is my review of Wild Strawberries. Before I continue with the review, I just want to add that I was very impressed by the performance of the beautiful, Bibi Andersson. Also, Victor Sjostrom's portrayal of Dr. Isak Borg is one of the most authentic performance I have ever seen in movies.
This film is told from the perspective of Dr. Isak Borg, who we are introduced to as an old man being haunted by vivid nightmares of death. Isak is about to receive a honorary emeritus degree from an university. He decides on a whim to take the long drive to the university instead of flying. During the drive, Isak is haunted by visions of his past, feelings of emptiness, and realization of a life wasted away. Bergman's use of imagery in the dream sequences in this film is just amazing and sets a groundwork for future film makers to emulate.
Even with his numerous achievements and good standing in the community, Isak is all alone, resented by his son and those who are closest to him. Isak's self-reflections into his past and visions of haunting nightmares causes him to examine himself for who he really is and how he has hurt and alienated those closest to him throughout his life. Even though he has already spent the better part of his life, mostly in bitter solitude, there seems to a glimpse of possibility of hope for a change for the better for the old professor.

#-IMDB-8.3/10 (#153 on top 250)
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-94% Community-94%
Yong's Rating- 10/10 (Must see)
* One of 1001 movies you must watch before you die.


Leap Year (2009)

I have always had a soft spot for the romantic comedy genre. To me there's nothing better than watching a well-made, intelligent romantic comedy when it comes to movies. Well, Leap Year is not one (feel free to read on if you want to know why).
Being a fan of Amy Adams' work, i decided to give Leap Year a try.The movie is about a woman (Amy Adams) who has everything in her life going according her plan. Successful career, comfortable lifestyle, and an ideal boyfriend. The only thing missing in her plan is the wedding. When her boyfriend (Adam Scott) goes on a business trip to Ireland, Adams character comes up with the perfect plan to propose to her boyfriend on leap day(Feb.29th) based on an old Ireland tradition. However, getting to her boyfriend is not as easy as it seems as she runs into some transportation problems. And, with time running out, she must seek help from a local inn keeper (Matthew Goode) to get to her boyfriend on time.
This movies does have some beautiful shots of Ireland, but i guess that really isn't that hard to do. The storyline is very predictable, and the acting is mediocre at best. Leap Year is just one of many generic romantic comedies the studios are turning out these days. But, to its credit, it's slightly better than the average generic romantic comedy. So, if you are in a mood for a simple romantic comedy flick, where you can just sit back and not have to think very hard, Leap Year just might make your night.

Rotten Tomatoes- critics-20% community-50%
Yong's Rating-5.5/10 (skip it)


Tyson (2008)

"The past is history and the future is a mystery."- Mike Tyson

These are the words spoken by the controversial boxer Mike Tyson in his intimate documentary, Tyson. This movie provides a personal look into the career and thoughts of Iron Mike Tyson. Made up mostly of one on one interview and footages from his careers, this documentary tells the story of some of the most controversial moments from his career and personal life. One of the most interesting aspects of this movie was learning about how Tyson escaped from his rough situation growing up as a shy and timid teenager to become one of the most dangerous boxers of all time.
Tyson seems truly genuine in the interviews and you can tell that this Tyson is not the same person he was when he was younger and ruled the sports world as the most dangerous man on the planet. There's a sort of a broken down quality about him that just made me feel for the guy. You can see what going from having everything you want at your fingertips to being jailed and bankrupted can do to humble any man. I highly recommend Tyson to any sports fans and anyone wanting to know a bit more about Iron Mike.

Rotten tomatoes-critics- 85% community-78%
Yong's rating- 7.5/10 (worth a look)


Kick Ass (2010) #

Directed by Matthew Vaughan, Kick Ass is as a bold of a movie as its title suggests. It is in your face violence mixed in with some quirky humor. Based on a comic book, it does contain fantasy elements, but with very real life consequences mainly in form of graphic violence. The movie basically has two storylines. One is about an awkward comic geek teenager (Aaron Johnson) who creates the persona of Kick-Ass in order to escape his boring life and for the adrenaline of becoming a loved superhero. Another is about a father (Nic Cage) and daughter (Chloe Moretz), who are much more legitimate superheroes than Kick-Ass. They form the superhero team of Big Daddy and Hit Girl and are on a mission to take down one of the biggest bad guys in town. So basically the movie is about Kick-Ass' struggle to become a superhero and Big Daddy and Hit Girl's mission to take down their nemesis. And of course, their paths do cross.
I did find this movie to be quick-witted and fun to watch for the most part, but I have to warn that this movie is definitely intended for mature audience and those who don't like violence and vulgar language should just stand clear of this one. If you aren't easily offended and are fan of quirky humor mixed with some graphic violence then this movie is worth a look.

#-IMDB-8.1/10 (Top 250: #192)
Rotten Tomatoes- critics- 75% community- 83%
Yong's rating- 7.7/10 (worth a look)

Go Bears!

It's the first NFL sunday! If there's one thing i love more than movies, it's sports! Being from chicago i'm a huge fan of da Bears, da Bulls, and da Cubbies. And naturally the Creighton Bluejays!

Up in the Air (2009)

Up in the Air is director jason reitman's follow-up to Juno and Thank you for Smoking. It stars George Clooney who plays Ryan Bingham. His job is to travel all over the country and do the dirty job of firing people for the companies that hire him. He is good at what he does and his life is devoted to his job. He seems more comfortable on an airplane than on ground. The main headquarter for the company is Omaha, which i found very interesting having spent the last 7 years here in the big O. Always good to see the Woodman building in a movie.
Even though clooney plays a cynical and self-absorbed character, you end up cheering for the guy. I was very impressed by the way Clooney portrayed his deep sense of loneliness while hiding behind his cloak of cynicism. Vera Farmiga shines as clooney's love interest and anna kendrick also delivers a very good performance as the fresh talent learning from clooney. Up in the Air provides a lot of real emotions as well as few laughs along the way. if you are looking for a feel good movie, this isn't for you. what it does provide is a smart, well-made indie film that is worth a look.

Rotten Tomatoes- critics- 90% community- 89%
Yong's star rating- 8/10 (worth a look)


Up (2009)#

Here's my review of Up (2009) from last year. enjoy.

Up is the new movie from Pixar. and like any other Pixar movies, it is hard not to resist its charm. Up tells the story of Carl Fredricksen, who we first see as a young boy. he meets and falls in love with his wife to be, Ellie. the start of the movie establishes the strong love between Carl and Ellie as we watch clips of them starting their lives and growing old together. the rest of the movie is about the old Mr.Fredricksen who is all alone following the death of his sweetheart. As you can tell from the title and movie posters, Mr.Fredricksen flies his house up using a lot of balloons. he does this to keep a promise he made to Ellie as a young boy. and the wonderful adventure starts. he lands in a mysterious land along with a talkative young wilderness explorer where he meets talking dogs and a fast moving bird. Up really is a sweet movie that everyone can enjoy. and one you should check out if you are looking for a uplifting story.

#-imdb- 9.2/10 #151 in top 250
Rotten tomatoes- critics-98% community-90%
Yong's star-9/10 (highly recommended)

Let the Right One In (2008)#

I see that there's going to be an American remake of Let the Right One In, starring Chloe Moretz. It will be called Let Me In. I strongly recommend you check out the original version first. Here's my review of Let the Right One In from few months ago.

- I know there's been a lot of hype about this Twilight mania, but if you want a different take on the teenager vampire genre, i strongly recommend Let the Right One In. and by different i mean better, way better. that's just personal opinion. Let the Right One In is a much more darker and graphic film than Twilight, so it definitely wasn't intended for teenage viewers as Twilight was.
Let the Right One In is a Swedish movie which centers around potential trials and awkwardness of adolescence. It's a typical troubled boy meets a mysterious girl and falls in love story, mixed in with some vampire and violent twist. so if you are in a mood for a vampire flick you just might to give this one a try.

#-Imdb-8.2/10, #193 in top 250
Rotten Tomatoes- critics-98%, Community-93%
Yong's Stars- 8.5/10 (highly recommended)

Meet Alvy

Just thought I'd introduce my cat, Alvy. And, yes he likes watching movies too. I guess you can guess his favorite movie is Annie Hall.


Rating system

I've decided to rate the movies i review as well. I'll call it Yong's star system. here's the breakdown.

0-4 = awful movies in my opinion. do not recommend. Watch at your own risk.
e.g.- Ghost Ship, AVP:Alien vs. Predators, White Noise, Junior, etc.

5-7 = Worth a look if you are fan of the actors, director, or the genre. Worth a rental.
e.g- Adam, Once, Hancock, Greenberg, Crazy Heart, Kick-Ass, Avatar, etc.

8-10 = highly recommend. Go watch it now!
e.g. - Hoop Dreams, 8 1/2, Oldboy, Godfather, Amelie, Seventh Seal, Garden State, Manhattan, etc.

Whether you like a certain movie or not is up to you, and this is just my humble opinion.


The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008)*

The Good, the Bad, the Weird is a korean movie following the tradition of old spaghetti westerns. The film is set in the 1930's Manchuria. There we find a group of outlaws, the japanese military and a simple thief all chasing after one mysterious treasure map. The exact specifics surrounding the true nature of the map isn't clear, but with the fervor everyone involved in the chase go after the map, you can be damn sure that it's pretty valuable.
The movie has three main characters; the good (Jung woo-sung)), the bad (Lee Byung-hun), and the weird (Song Kang-ho). Out of these three, Song kang-ho's performance stood out the most for me. You may be familiar with him from his roles in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, The Host and Thirst. Song has that special on-screen presence that only a certain group of great actors command.
Overall, this is a very fast-paced action fun rolled up into a nice package with a Korean touch. However, i felt that it lacked character development. there just wasn't much there for the audience to development any strong connections to the characters. I really wanted to care about what was going on in the screen, but in the end, i couldn't really care less what happened to them. The movie does provide great entertainment and is definitely worth your time, but just don't expect to be blown away.

Rotten Tomatoes- critics- 83%, community 80%
Yong's stars- 7.8/10 (worth a look)
*One of 1001 movies you must see before you die


Attempt at 1001 Movies to see before you die Update

Well, this looks a lot harder than i thought. I have seen 123 movies on the list so far, so it seem like i got some work to do to reach the total and there will likely be additions and cuts from the list along the way. I'll take it one movie at a time and see how far i can get. I'll continue to share my experiences along the way.


My attempt at 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

I've decided to attempt to watch all the films included in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list. Why, you ask? Well, I wanted to see how many of the movies on the list i have already seen and get to find out about other wonderful films i have yet had the chance to experience. Mostly because i love movies. I'm going to try to keep track of my journey through these movies before i die.

Where i will be getting the list from-