What I do once a week....

Black Hawk Down - When U.S. Rangers and an elite Delta Force team attempt to kidnap two underlings of a Somali warlord, their Black Hawk helicopters are shot down, and the Americans suffer heavy casualties, facing intense fighting from the militia on the ground. Director Ridley Scott (Gladiator) captures the brutal, incessant battle scenes with powerful and intimidating framework and pace in this military drama based on a true story.

(rent/buy) Whether you rent or buy this movie will really depend on personal taste, but I highly recommend viewing it at least once. It's heavy on action, suspense, and drama. A modern war movie that humanizes the soldiers and attempts to view the events objectively, although the U.S. Forces are obviously viewed in a more positive light than the Somalians they fight. However, even in that the film shows glimpses into the lives of those who live in this area and who fight the fight, bringing humanity to even the villain side.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.

(buy) If you liked the first, you'll probably enjoy the second of these Sherlock Holmes movies. While the first took a long time developing the characters and building the suspense and hinting at what was happening, the this film dives right in to the action. While I felt the first retained slightly more of the original ambiance of the stories, the second grabs the bull by the horns and has plenty more adventure and homo-erotic subtext.

The Prince of Egypt - Born into slavery and cast adrift on the Nile to escape mass genocide, Moses (voiced by Val Kilmer) is reared as the son of Pharaoh Seti (Patrick Stewart) and stepbrother of Ramses (Ralph Fiennes). When Moses learns of his true ancestry, he retreats to the desert, where he answers God's call and accepts his destiny: to lead the Hebrews out of slavery and into freedom.

(rent) Considering this movie is an animated telling of Moses' life (at least the beginning), it does an excellent job of balancing between religious themes and good story. It stays relatively true to the story but focuses more on family and relations than God, which works to make the story more attainable for the masses. The art style is good, so is the pacing, plot, and voice acting. I found the songs to be so-so and overall it didn't bring anything incredibly new to this well-known tale.

Were the World Mine - When his drama teacher casts him as Puck in his school's upcoming production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Timothy (Tanner Cohen) turns in an inspired performance, whipping up a fittingly Shakespearean love potion with the power to turn people gay. He begins, of course, with the school jock -- the object of his affection. Tom Gustafson directs this unconventional movie-musical based on his award-winning short film, "Fairies."

(rent) This was a very different kind of film, but fun. The acting was pretty good overall, even if it was a touch over the top (which could have been on purpose). The singing was excellent and the soundtrack is fun. This is definitely a silly story with a pretty predictable ending, but there are definitely things to enjoy here, and if you want a fun, silly flick, it's definitely worth a watch.

Shelter - Zach (Trevor Wright) sacrifices his dream of going to art school to support his ill father (Don Margolin), sister (Tina Holmes) and her young son (Jackson Wurth) in this moving drama. He finds happiness surfing with buddy Gabe (Ross Thomas). But when he falls for Gabe's older brother, Shaun (Brad Rowe), his world is turned upside down. Zach struggles to learn how to put his own needs first before the demands of his family.

(rent/buy) Good. I mostly rented this (immediately) because of a wave of interest of something happening in the M/M romance book genre, but I'm not commenting on that. It was a good movie, but it didn't really grab me by the balls and take me for a ride either. Good acting, good scenes, didn't feel amateur at all (which happens a lot with this genre). Sadly some of my feelings toward this movie are tainted by the history which I brought into it.

To Save a Life - After tragedy strikes a childhood friend, Jake Taylor (Randy Wayne) reevaluates his life. By reaching out to lonely outsider Jonny (Sean Michael), Jake risks losing everything that matters most to him, including a college scholarship and his friends. A poignant look at doing what's right and the power of unconditional love, this Christian drama also stars Deja Kreutzberg, Joshua Weigel and Steven Crowder.

(rent) This movie has a great opening, but progresses slowly from there. Part of my lacking enjoyment was that I went in expecting one thing and got another. I missed that it was a Christian drama, and it definitely felt like a Christian drama, though I liked that it wasn't "Christians are perfect!" either. It was a fair and touching portrayal of some young lives, but sometimes it felt a little too after-school special to me.

The Men Who Stare at Goats - Journalist Bob Wilton latches onto an unbelievable story in Iraq when he meets Lyn Cassady, a man of mysterious origins who reveals he was a "warrior monk" trained by the U.S. Army to develop psychic powers.

(rent) Mostly funny with some interesting philosophical points. The story is fairly interesting and you don't really know where it's going....or if any of the characters are sane. Worth checking out, but not something I'd need to see more than once. Very, very odd.

David's Birthday - While vacationing in an Italian summer home, happily married Matteo (Massimo Poggio) is surprised to find himself attracted to his best friend's underwear-model son, David (real-life model Thyago Alves). But the plot thickens when David appears to share Matteo's lust. Although she can't quite put a finger on the problem, Matteo's wife (Maria de Medeiros) senses something's happened to their relationship.

(meh/rent) Maybe it's just me or the mood I was in, but I had a hard time getting into this and ended up not finishing it. It's Italian and so it was subtitled and there may be some cultural confusion, but it just felt a little off to me. The relationships were odd, I didn't feel like it was really going toward anything, and I didn't have the patience to continue watching. Others may feel differently.

Mysterious Skin - Gregg Araki's riveting drama, based on a novel by Scott Heim, brings together two unlikely heroes: a young man who works as a prostitute and another who's convinced he was once abducted by aliens. But it seems they have unspeakable tragedy in common.

(rent/buy) This was a strange movie that made me feel like I was crawling out of my skin at times. It's sad and hopeful and a strange mix of everything. Despite having never heard of the movie, it had faces I recognized (although couldn't name). It deals with child abuse in a very real and yet surreal manner, pulling the focus from the perp and onto the victims and what they've become. Definitely worth checking out.

The Avengers - Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.

Friggin' wow. I haven't seen the other movies in this group (Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America) besides Thor, not because I haven't heard good things, but I just tend to not watch movies that don't involve two men unless I'm with friends. I don't know why, the movies without two men are usually far better. Whatever. This movie was fantastic, a brilliant mix of humor, action, and a little poignancy. 

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