The Official Review Thread of 2011

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Damien
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Damien » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:10 am

The Green Hornet (Michel Gondry)

It starts amusingly enough but soon becomes a travesty. Seth Rogan – who’s a combination of an unfunny version of Albert Brooks and an unfunny version of Robert Wuhl – is grotesquely miscast and “acts” grotesquely. (Other than Pineapple Express, I’ve mercifully managed to avoid this person, and intend to continue to do so in the future.) The movie takes marvelous source material – the old radio series – and trashes it, even completely re-tooling the relationship between the Hornet and Kato, turning them from stalwart colleagues into puerile rivals who belong in some Judd Apatow piece of crap, while the other characters are hardly characters at all. And Britt Reid -– one of the all-time great pulp heroes -- here becomes an idiotic over-age frat boy The plot itself is B-movie basic and simplistic, even for this type of movie. Gondry uses a few “Look, Ma! I’m Directing!” show-off effects that evidence his hack director of music videos roots but mostly his direction is lazy and phoned-in. This film is a disgrace.
3/10
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby flipp525 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:52 am

We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011) 8/10

***SPOILERS***

This is a very good adaptation of one of the most compelling novels I’ve read in recent years. The story of what a person does who has no connection to their own child and, who in fact, views their child as kind of a sociopath is not something Hollywood ever seems to address without adding some kind of heightened psychotic terror injected for high drama and a bang-up cliffhanger climax. The very fact that Kevin’s final school rampage is largely left off-screen is a testament to his mother’s ownership of the narrative, since she can only really imagine the carnage inside the gym at Gladstone High. The structure of the film is very The Bad Seed meets The Tree of Life—scenes appear from the depths of Eva’s memories in order to understand and reflect upon what has happened and how it has happened. Lynne Ramsay’s use of muted sound played against discordant images (the cries from the gym overlaid upon the fluttering curtains at the house) and the constant images of red (paint, a sea of tomato sauce, blood) allude to Columbine –like carnage without ever seeming to be overkill.

There were certain details that I was glad to have had the book to fill in for me. Eva’s success as a travel writer, for example, is only briefly alluded to in the film whereas it’s a large part of who she defines herself as in the novel. Similarly, the scenes involving Celia’s accident are graphically mused upon by Eva in the letters to her husband culminating in Kevin’s macabre souvenir once he’s been incarcerated. With that said however, the art direction is impeccably true to the novel down to the stark architecture of the family’s house and the dilapidated hovel in which Eva finds herself at the beginning of the film. The costume designer seems to have fully understood how Eva and Kevin must dress. Kevin’s too-tight clothing constantly downplays Ezra Miller’s true age as if constantly leaving room for the possibility that he's too young to have committed his atrocities.

Tilda Swinton’s performance as Eva Katchadourian is so natural and compelling. If she never completely disappears into the role, it’s because Eva herself is so uncomfortable in her role as a mother that it makes complete sense that Swinton, too, would glide ungainly through her own life. The dark hair against the paleness of not only her skin, but the washed out world in which she lives, lends a deathly pallor to her character. I’m shocked (and very happy) that this performance is being greeted with awards traction. This is the kind of consistently dutiful and daring work that Swinton has been turning in for years. It’s nice that she’s now being fully embraced for it. And it’s interesting to bookend this character as the alternative to the one she played in The Deep End a decade ago. Eva Katchadourian, in many ways, is just as fiercely devoted to Kevin’s protection in the end as Margaret Hall is to her son, Beau’s.

The three Kevins are exquisitely cast, especially newcomer Ezra Miller who plays the oldest version. His leonine body, spongy lips and dark eyes play out a kind of seductive trance over the audience and Eva herself. In the scene where she asks her son out on date, you can almost see the quick heartbeats and nervousness. John C. Reilly, although he makes his best attempts, seems utterly miscast in the role of Franklin, Kevin’s hearty, apple-pie American father. From the novel’s description of him (which is only really Eva’s description of him), I would say a Greg Kinnear would have been more fitting.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby dws1982 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:34 pm

One Day
Let me begin with the good: Jim Sturgess makes a very good romantic lead--perfect casting, really. It's not an earth-shattering piece of acting, but I thought he worked really well in the context of what he was being asked to do. Pity about Anne Hathaway, every bit as miscast as Sturgess is perfectly cast, playing the frumpy working-class girl who becomes the great love of Jim Sturgess's life. She's just not credible, and her accent is all over the place, and her performance is just not very deeply felt. Dump her and replace her with her more talented co-star, Romola Garai, and you'd be on the track. The other big problem is that it needed a clear, distinct director's hand in order to make the whole concept really come together--Lone Scherfig is the wrong person for the job. Rachel Portman totally rips off the theme from Romeo and Juliet for her score. Didn't know she had gone the direction of James Horner. A shame.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:28 am

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly, Rachel McAdams, Eddie Marsan.
Dir: Guy Ritchie.

I wasn't a huge fan of the first movie though I did find it entertaining. I did like this one a bit better but not by much. It seems it has everything going for it. The cast is very good, there are some thrills and laughs along the way and Guy Ritchie does some cool things with the visuals and all but everything adds up to it being entertaining but ultimately disposable and forgettable.

Oscar Prospects: Art Direction, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Costume Design.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Sabin » Sat Jan 07, 2012 3:40 am

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apitchatpong Weeresethakul)

(I'll preface this by saying it's entirely possible I was just not in the mood for this one.)

I'll coin the phrase "dis-awe-ffection" wherein a state of true awe need not be mutually exclusive to regarding said object of awe with the same mundane observatory punctuation as one would a microwave burrito. This is basically the entire mindset of Uncle Boonmee..., Weeresethakul's fourth feature and third I have seen (still haven't checked out Blissfully Yours). And I'll lump this one alongside Syndromes and a Century as something conceptually impressive that left me a little dry. Syndromes tells the same story twice so as to emphasize the how the constraints of industrialized society renders that which would be otherwise intimate and provincial suddenly antiseptic, yet still not without hope. The result is a work of art that kinda bored me. Uncle Boonmee... welcomes a parade of guests for the passing of the titular uncle who are greeted with kindness and curiosity. I had a similar reaction. This is not a film that directly questions death, but rather posits a world where death is merely a transitionary state into the next world...and also there are kindly monsters. Scene for scene, Uncle Boonmee is rather transfixing. As a whole, again: I found it a bit dull.

Weeresethakul is the kind of filmmaker who makes movies so unique that it's a little difficult to pigeonhole aspects of his work. He resists dissection like few people working today. I'm inclined to just say "Ah, it's just what he does." But what I respond to so much in Tropical Malady is this central thrust, this exploration of the hunt for love/sex/companionships, and how that can transform. It's a film that marries his playfulness to something so universal and propulsive that the result is just endlessly fascinating to watch. Syndromes and a Century and Uncle Boonmee... can't help but feel rather ornate by comparison. What I responded to in Uncle Boonmee... more than anything else was the act of introducing said guests and occurrences, life's unexplainables. When Boonsong first arrives...Huay's arrival...a gloriously unsettling moment where the monk observes himself...this is a staggering command over the medium that Weeresethakul is demonstrating. I'm less enamored by his pseudo-doc journeys and his endless static imagery. At his heart, the man is a pop filmmaker. Look at his love of music concluding every film he makes! The man wants to evoke sensation. Uncle Boonmee... is always an interesting film, but there's something I must resist in a film that is as resigned to inevitability as its main character, especially considering that resign is not what the man does best.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Damien » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:25 pm

Pina (Wim Wenders)

Germany's entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar is absolutely mesmerizing, gorgeous and quietly heartbreaking. The film consists of performances of Pina Bausch's choreography and performance art pieces, as well as brief comments/memories from members of her company and a few sequences of archival footage of Bausch at work. Although not a documenary in the traditional sense -- there is, for instance, no biographical background given and no examination of her personal life -- one nevertheless feels that you completely know this women through her choreography (which is pretty extraordinary, and runs the gamut from foreboding to wondrously playful) and the recollections of her troupe. It's also by far the best use of 3-D I've ever seen, greater than even the 3-D Three Stooges shorts. The immediacy and expressiveness of the dancers -- and of Bausch's ideas and themes -- through the 3-D is breathtaking. Scorsese needs to watch this a dozen times before he ever deigns to play with 3-D again and realize that less is more. It's a unique and quite extraordinary film.
10/10
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:05 pm

Bridesmaids (Paul Feig)

I aovided this like the plague all year but finally broke down and streamed it due to all this crazy Oscar talk. It's a worse piece of crap than I thought.

Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudlolph may be good at what they do on Saturday Night Live. I don't know I don't watch it enough to have an opinion, but they are not competent film actresses. All they do is mug. Melissa McCarthy, despite the outrageousnous of her character at least plays it with a straight face.

I can't for the life of me understand how this thing is turning up on ten best lists and McCarthy is seriously being considered for major awards. She has a couple of scenes that are amusing at best and she has one big cliched dramatic scene. That's it.

For something that is supposed to be feminist hip, it's retrograde nonsence. Alll the women depend on men to make them happy and Wiig's character doesn't win the man of her dreams until she bakes him a cake. And where are the laughs? I didn't find anything remotely funy until we got to the plane secene and that's cute at best. Then we have to wait until the big backyard scene at the bridal shower which looks like something out of a dozen other films.

The subplot about Wiig and her loser roommates was painful to watch. Even Jon Hamm was dreadful. Only Rose Byrne, Jill Clayburgh (in her last role) and Chris O'Dowd (the cop) manage to rise above the material.
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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Sabin » Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:40 pm

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (Brad Bird)

Yup. Best summer movie of the year in a walk. All I demand from this or any escapist blockbuster is just that: escape! As I get older, it becomes more and more difficult to sit in a theater and watch a movie and just shut my brain off because the stupidity of the plot keeps jarring me or "waking me up". Well, M:I-GP is stupid all right but in pretty much all the right ways. It has an absurd, shallow plot that seems to exist to leapfrog from set-piece to set-piece, set-pices which are anything but stupid. Brad Bird invests a cheeky sense of humor into each of them that is wonderful contrast to the angst that permeates most flicks these days. The villain is a bit faceless, the world never seems to be in incredible danger despite what everyone says, but I wish we had a few of these every year. Great fun.

I remember when Tom Cruise announced that there would be another Mission: Impossible film, I groaned. Then I remember hearing a fourth one would come out, and was relieved of my louder groaning by the news that Brad Bird was directing and became fascinating as to whether or not he was a capable live-action movie director (ho, yeah!). I'll give Tom Cruise this: after years of M:I seeming like a vanity franchise that was running on the fumes of nothing but the man's perseverance, it turns out that he was absolutely right. This is a promising franchise, this does be fit his persona, one that if treated properly (like in the first Mission: Impossible and in Ghost Protocol) is a competent, enjoyable one. And if Brad Bird is sequence for sequence the primary auteur, the Film-as-Good TV secondary auteur is certainly J.J. Abrams, and there's something to be said for that. M:I-GP is the light antidote to Bay/Scott/Scott.

Another secondary auteur is Tom Cruise, who has always injected something personal, something fatalistic and melodramatic into the Mission: Impossible films. In M:I3, it was his relationship with his fiancé. Ridiculous, if not quite ridiculous enough to sink the film. Without getting into it, our favorite Scientologist (huh, that word still gets a red squiggly...I weirdly like that) gives of himself yet again in a subplot that nobody asked for or cared about. The film is incredibly shrewd in keeping it as far in the background as humanly possible, and should be given credit for that. It's a balancing act of propulsive action vs. I'm Tom Like Me that he's never pulled off so well, although admittedly it's a balancing act he should probably bail on in the first place. But it almost acts as an admission of self, of fatalism, of self-imposed loneliness that reads kind of interesting in his oeuvre. Again: I won't give it away, it's not a necessary part of the plot, and one is very capable of just ignoring until it's over. But I will give Cruise (and Abrams and Bird) credit for tucking it as far into the background as possible so as not to disrupt the fun. Whether this is newfound maturity and awareness on Cruise's part, or an uncanny feat of manipulating Cruise until he ended up thinking this was a better idea than soaking it throughout the film on the part of the producers and director. Either way, mission accomplished.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Sabin » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:32 pm

Damien wrote
Sabin wrote
Damien wrote
...here Simon (always my favorite Chipmunk) often takes center stage here and it's a hoot when an insect bite affects his brain and turns him into a suave French adventurer, sort of like Gérard Philipe or Jean-Paul Belmondo in their swashbuckling days.

...or when Buzz becomes Spanish Buzz in Toy Story 3.

I wouldn't know.

But from the snippets of Buzz film clips I've seen over the years, he's no Simon.

From the snippets of Simon clips I've seen over the years, I completely agree. :)
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Damien » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:20 pm

Sabin wrote:
Damien wrote
...here Simon (always my favorite Chipmunk) often takes center stage here and it's a hoot when an insect bite affects his brain and turns him into a suave French adventurer, sort of like Gérard Philipe or Jean-Paul Belmondo in their swashbuckling days.

...or when Buzz becomes Spanish Buzz in Toy Story 3.


I wouldn't know.

But from the snippets of Buzz film clips I've seen over the years, he's no Simon.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Sabin » Fri Dec 30, 2011 11:17 pm

Damien wrote
...here Simon (always my favorite Chipmunk) often takes center stage here and it's a hoot when an insect bite affects his brain and turns him into a suave French adventurer, sort of like Gérard Philipe or Jean-Paul Belmondo in their swashbuckling days.

...or when Buzz becomes Spanish Buzz in Toy Story 3.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Damien » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:46 pm

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Mike Mitchell)

Although not as narratively rich nor emotionally heartfelt and affecting as the first two entries in the series, the film is filled with pleasures. Because of the setting, there are last satirical digs at contemporary society and popular culture, you can't believe what kind of scrapes the guys -- and the Chipettes -- get into stranded on a tropical island and their resourceful is highly inventive and amusing. Whereas Alvin was the clear star of the first picture, and Theodore came into his own in #2, here Simon (always my favorite Chipmunk) often takes center stage here and it's a hoot when an insect bite affects his brain and turns him into a suave French adventurer, sort of like Gérard Philipe or Jean-Paul Belmondo in their swashbuckling days. There's also a cool natural disaster climax, reminiscent of such 30s classics as The hurricane, San Francisco and In Old Chicago. Although some of the humor is silly, this is a charming film that puts the swill put out by Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks to shame. And it struck me that Jason Lee looks a lot like Rick Santorum, which is, to say the least, disconcerting.
6/10
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Sabin » Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:28 am

It's more than that. This could be not just good but incredible stuff. There is a conveyance of narrative information that juxtaposes between sensory implication, direct conversation, and character action that constitutes pretty much every single shot in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that if you stop paying immediate intuitive attention to what is going on, you're just left behind. And for a film that doesn't offer much by way of human connection, I'm just not sure if it's worth it. I admire it enough as a work of filmmaking that I can't dismiss it entirely, but I don't know who to recommend this film to. I don't know if I can tell a friend that this film is truly worthwhile.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Reza » Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:58 am

Sabin wrote:I have absolutely no idea what happened in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Almost none. Alfredson wants to create a film that is both gorgeously atmospheric and...well, coherent. So he shoots the film in a series of interconnected images that communicate a shit load of information and strings them together. This is very ambitious of him with a plot this confusing. The result is a series of impossibly beautiful and evocative imagery that for me refused narrative cohesion or human connection. This film is maybe the most handsome production of the year, but almost like a Harry Potter flick in what it assumes I understand.


That's John le Carré for you in a nutshell.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Sabin » Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:06 am

I have absolutely no idea what happened in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Almost none. Alfredson wants to create a film that is both gorgeously atmospheric and...well, coherent. So he shoots the film in a series of interconnected images that communicate a shit load of information and strings them together. This is very ambitious of him with a plot this confusing. The result is a series of impossibly beautiful and evocative imagery that for me refused narrative cohesion or human connection. This film is maybe the most handsome production of the year, but almost like a Harry Potter flick in what it assumes I understand.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver


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