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This Week's Movie Buzz: See It, Rent It, Or Skip It?

Evan Crean Evan Crean
May 26th, 2009 8:57am EDT
UpThis week is probably the least exciting of the summer movie season so far because we don't have an epic blockbuster premiering. There are three movies coming out, two of which are mainstream releases. Pixar fans will be happy to see the group's latest animated feature, and Sam Raimi aficionados will get their fix with something that thankfully isn't another "Spider-Man" movie.

While I tend to like Pixar's movies, I never generally get super excited about seeing them in the movie theater. Aside from "Wall-E" and "Toy Story," which I saw in theaters, I've enjoyed their other films at home on DVD.

The movies opening in theaters this week are "Up," "Drag Me to Hell," and "Departures."


Determined to accomplish his life goal of exploring the South American jungle, 78-year-old, Carl Fredricksen, ties thousands of balloons to his house so that he can take flight. After he lifts off on his journey however, he realizes he isn't alone. Russell, an 8-year-old wilderness explorer has accidentally become a passenger on his trip.

Pixar veterans Pete Doctor and Bob Peterson collaborate to direct this movie. Doctor, who wrote the "Toy Story" movies and "Wall-E," co-directs with writer Peterson, who created "Ratatouille" and "Finding Nemo." John Ratzenberger, best known for his role of Cliff Clavin on the TV show "Cheers," lends his voice to this film, making it his tenth Pixar film appearance.

SEE IT, RENT IT, OR SKIP IT? See it. Even though I feel like the CG-animated movie genre is becoming a bit tired, I think Pixar makes films with humor that appeals to people of all ages. Their stories teach the characters important lessons, by sending on them on remarkable life-changing journeys that push their limits and challenge them to grow as individuals. The folks over at Pixar seem to have developed the perfect balance between entertainment and poignancy when it comes to their movies.





A mysterious old woman named Mrs. Ganush comes to a bank to beg for an extension on her mortgage. Loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) denies that extension, thinking it will help her get the promotion she wants. Mrs. Ganush puts the curse of the Lamia on Christine, turning her existence into a nightmare.

Christine turns to a psychic for assistance, who tells her she only has a short time before she is sent to hell. The psychic sets her on a frenzied course to reverse the spell, but she will have to make some desperate choices to remove the curse.

Director Sam Raimi, the man behind the "Spider-man" series and the "Evil Dead" films, returns after a long absence from making horror movies with "Drag Me to Hell." Raimi directs and co-writes this movie with his frequent writing partner: his brother Ivan Raimi. Special appearances in the movie include another brother, Ted Raimi, as well as childhood friend of the Raimi family and fellow filmmaker Scott Spiegel.

SEE IT, RENT IT, OR SKIP IT? See it. I haven't enjoyed Sam Raimi's string of "Spider-man" movies, but "Drag Me to Hell" seems like a trip back to his horror roots. Early buzz from critics, says that it mimics the "Evil Dead" style of horror with a deliberate sense of humor, something most horror movies don't do these days. If modern horror films are funny at all, they are almost always unintentionally funny.

Watch "Drag Me to Hell Trailer"





Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) is a musician who becomes unemployed when his orchestra is disbanded. He moves with his wife back to his hometown for a fresh start, where he searches for a new job. Responding to an ad he mistakes for a travel agency, he stumbles upon an unusual career: a job preparing the deceased for burial.

The film and its director are quite distinguished, and have won a slew of awards. Director Yôjirô Takita won the Best Director award from the Japanese Academy, and the film took home an additional six awards from the Japanese Academy. "Okuribito" was also awarded the American Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language film in 2009.

SEE IT, RENT IT, OR SKIP IT? Rent it. Unless you're a die-hard foreign film viewer, the movie's limited release and subtitles will probably get you to wait and watch this one at home. I think this movie is worth watching though, because it seems like a story of self-discovery, intertwined with the universal themes of life and death. The fact that it won the Academy Award in 2009 for Best Foreign Language Film is another good reason to check it out.




Evan Crean
Story by Starpulse contributing writer Evan Crean, a movie trivia guru and trailer addict with a practically photographic memory of actors and directors. Get a first look at the movies premiering each week, which which ones will be worth your $10, which ones you should wait to rent and which ones aren't worth your time.