WHAT WOULD TOTO WATCH? — Movie reviews from award-winning journalist Christian Toto

I didn’t know what to expect when I bought the domain name WhatWouldTotoWatch.com back in 2007.

My wife and I had just moved to Denver from D.C., leaving behind Beltway traffic, exhorbitant home prices and a great gig at The Washington Times. I simply figured I needed a nook on the Web to call my own, and perhaps one day I’d wrangle a full-time gig out of it.

Who knew it would take four years and hundreds of blog posts before that happened?

[click to continue…]

{ 26 comments }

Even wallflowers might feel the need to cut “Footloose” this week.

Not only did the Blu-ray version of the 1984 film hit shelves on Sept. 27 – complete with star Kevin Bacon’s screen test – but the upcoming remake is getting a one-day sneak preview. The film doesn’t officially hit theaters until Oct. 14, but on Sept. 30 26 select theaters across the country and Canada will give audiences a chance to see the film first. And, if you dig what you see, you’re encouraged to Tweet your praise using #footloose to join the conversation.

Of course, none of this works if the remake fails to capture the magic of the original. Said magic mostly escaped this film critic who caught up with the 1984 version – finally – earlier this year. But never underestimate the power of dancing.

In the late 1980s I worked at a Mom and Pop video store, and “Dirty Dancing” was the biggest renting title from that era. Our store had to restructure its reservation policy because of it.

The new “Footloose” stars screen newbies Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough in the roles immortalized by Bacon and Lori Singer. Dennis Quaid plays the reverend who doesn’t want dancing in his town. Good luck with that, Rev.

Here’s a list of the chosen movie theaters playing the film at 6 p.m. PT, 7 p.m. CT and 8 p.m. ET this Friday.

[click to continue…]

{ 3 comments }

Dream House Daniel Craig Rachel Weisz

Horror movie fans rarely see A-listers in their favorite genre.

Occasionally we’ll get a Jack Nicholson (“The Shining”) or Anthony Hopkins (“Magic”) wallowing in the genre, but we’re mostly stuck with unknown stars angling for their big break.

To be blunt, there’s a better chance of Leonardo Di Caprio endorsing Ron Paul for president than seeing him in a “Saw” sequel.

That makes the new horror film “Dream House” such a tease. The movie co-stars Daniel Craig, Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts in an update on the standard haunted house movie. And it’s directed by Jim Sheridan, the heralded auteur behind “My Left Foot” and “In the Name of the Father.”

So why won’t the minds behind the movie let film critics see it?

“Dream House” isn’t being screened for Denver-based critics, and the lack of reviews currently appearing on Rottentomatoes.com suggests other cities are also being deprived of the chance to see it before it opens Sept. 30.

What gives?

The film’s trailer might give us a clue. It’s awful, a compendium of tired horror tropes that hardly does the cast justice.

If “Dream House” disappears like a Halloween ghost at the box office, it could coax other actors not to bother with the much-maligned horror genre. And that’s a shame.

(Photo: Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz star in “Dream House,” a suspense thriller about a family that unknowingly moves into a home where several grisly murders were committed … only to find themselves the killer’s next target. Photo Credit: George Kraychyk /Copyright: © 2011 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

{ 2 comments }

Moneyball Brad Pitt

Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane tried to reinvent the national pasttime by casting aside a century of sports wisdom.

The new “Moneyball,” based on Beane’s tumultuous tenure with the California club, sticks to the basics. Fine acting. Whipsmart dialogue. A Cinderella team rewriting the history books. Yes, the tale of the 2002 Oakland A’s doesn’t supply a ticker tape ending, but for most of “Moneyball” reality provides more than enough dramatic oomph to power one of the better baseball films in recent memory.

[click to continue…]

{ 4 comments }

Killer Elite Jason Statham

Actor Jason Statham was born to be an action movie star.

Just look at that bullet-shaped dome of his. It’s practically a weapon unto itself. But is anyone getting tired of seeing him breaking bones with alacrity?

Film critics put Statham leagues ahead of fellow action stars like Steven Seagal and Arnold Schwarzenegger. And rightfully so. Statham can act, and on the rare occasions he’s asked to dramatically carry a scene, as he does in “The Bank Job,” he acquits himself beautifully.

So … why not tackle a character study or simply an action film that doesn’t arrive with the adjective “formulaic” attached to it?

[click to continue…]

{ 11 comments }

Can Lautner break the ‘Twilight’ curse?

September 21, 2011

The “Twilight” franchise made stars out of Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. But is there life after vampires and werewolves?
The trio’s post-”Twilight” projects have ranged from commercial duds (“Remember Me,” “The Runaways”) to films which all but bypassed theaters (“Welcome to the Rileys”). The biggest film starring a “Twilight” alum remains “Water for [...]

Read the full article →

Where did Bridget Fonda go?

September 19, 2011

When director Quentin Tarantino taps you for his latest movie project it’s usually very good news, indeed.
Just ask John Travolta, one of several stars QT resurrected with a simple “Pulp Fiction” casting call. Or Christoph Waltz, the German actor who went from unknown to Oscar winner following “Inglourious Basterds.”
But the opposite happened with Bridget Fonda. [...]

Read the full article →

Why isn’t ‘Blue Sunshine’ a bigger cult smash?

September 19, 2011

This week’s DVD release of “Blue Sunshine” won’t sell as much product as “Bridesmaids.”
But it could boost the 1978 film’s existing cult status up a few notches.
Sure, some folks already know all about “Blue Sunshine,” the tale of a mysterious condition which causes people to lose their hair and become homicidal maniacs. But the film’s [...]

Read the full article →

Toto’s Movie Review: ‘Drive’ (Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan)

September 16, 2011

In “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Ryan Gosling had the gift of gab playing a ladies man cut down to size by love.
His follow-up role in “Drive” finds the actor channeling his inner Steve McQueen. He communicates chiefly through long, penetrating stares. That might be disastrous for many actors, but Gosling can deliver without uttering a syllable.
It [...]

Read the full article →

Is there a better young actor today than Ryan Gosling?

September 15, 2011

Mrs. What Would Toto Watch isn’t exactly a movie buff. When we first started dating she couldn’t pick Al Pacino or Robert De Niro out of a lineup.
Since then, I’ve introduced her to a gaggle of great films, and she’s grown to appreciate movies even if her passion can’t match mine. Yet, she’s still nonplussed [...]

Read the full article →