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Monday, January 31, 2011

'Enter The Void' At Your Own Risk

Enter the Void:  3 1/2 out of 5
Oscar:  Do you remember that pact we made?  We promised to never leave each other.
Enter the Void is self described by the film's director, Gaspar Noe, as a psychedelic melodrama, and that is a pretty decent way to sum it up.  Given that this film is inspired by, among other things, 2001: A Space Odyssey, basically replace that film's various themes and imagery with a trippy stroll down the world of a drug addict's disembodied soul, as he travels Tokyo and witnesses various events of his life and the future.  Also be warned that this film has the kind of audio and visual craft to plunge you into a world that could induce a seizure if you are not careful.  It is also quite graphic.  Still, on a technical level especially, this is certainly as far from mainstream cinema as one can get and certainly straddles the line between pretension and intense art.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

‘The Mechanic’ Provides A Few Spare Parts For A Quick Time Killer

The Mechanic = 2 ½ out of 5
Arthur Bishop:  The best jobs are the ones where no one ever knows you were there.
Those in need of a new, quick action fix from Jason Statham should be pleased enough with The Mechanic.  I would give it a barely passing rating.  However, this recommendation is not really due to the movie being that good (it’s not really), nor because of the presence of modern action hero Jason Statham (although that helps).  No, I would recommend this movie mainly because the ending is ridiculous enough that I want others to see it so I can talk to them about it, since I don’t want to spoil it here.  The film, itself, is a straight-forward action movie, with a hitman at the center of the story and the added bonus of a “buddy film” element.  It’s fairly generic, but also silly fun, and fills the quota for brutal violence.  Do with that what you will.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

'The Wolfman' Is One Lost Puppy

The Wolfman: 2 out of 5

(My thoughts on The Rite made me take a look back at my thoughts on last year's Anthony Hopkins starring film.)
Sir John Talbot: Terrible things Lawrence, you've done terrible things.

The biggest problem with this film is how it takes no chances. It plays out exactly how it should, with nice production values, a talented cast, and some decent makeup and special effects. However, all of these things only add up to a bland film that isn't very scary or exciting.

‘The Rite’ Does Right With Its Actors, But Wrong With Its Story

The Rite:  2 ½ out of 5
Michael:  That’s all?
Father Lucas:  What were you expecting?  Spinning heads and pea soup?
When it comes to scary movies, or at least movies that attempt to scare people, the demonic Possession/exorcism sub-genre of horror films does little to get me stirring in my seat.  For example, I think the 1973 horror classic, The Exorcist, is a brilliantly made film, but it is not a film that really gets under my skin.  That being said, what these sort of films generally have going for them is the acting on display, particularly on the part of those under some sort of possession, who must be willing to put on both an effective emotional and physical performance.  This aspect may be the one of few things that The Rite does right, but because there are so many other aspects that The Rite does wrong, I can’t really recommend this film.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

'The Triplets of Belleveille' Are A Delight

 The Triplets of Belleville: 4 1/2 out of 5


(Because of a new film from this director, Sylvain Chomet, is coming out, I've decided to post my old review from this film, which I absolutely adore)
The Triplets of Belleville: Swinging Belleville rendevouz/ Marathon dancing, doop-de-doo

This is a strange French animated feature that combines interesting and absurd visuals, a satirical sense of humor, and sweet lead characters. It also combines jazz, noir, mafia, bicycle racing, frogs, and car chases into a great comedic mix.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

‘No Strings Attached’ Or Much Else


No Strings Attached: 2 out of 5
Emma:  I need someone who’s gonna be in my bed at 2 AM who I don’t have to eat breakfast with.
Adam:  I hate breakfast.
Emma:  Good.
Another bogus premise for a rom-com that manages to be awkward, long, and poorly handled in the laugh department, despite having a number of talented supporting stars.  To say that this is Ashton Kutcher’s best movie, is like saying, “this is Ashton Kutcher’s best movie.”  While I can understand that formula in films can still work, as long as it is handled well enough, that is not the case here.  You know where the film is going, and the journey getting there is kinda boring and fairly laugh free.  It is nice that the film has some likable people in it, but having warm faces guide me through a bland movie still makes it a bad movie.

Find ‘The Way Back’ To An Old Fashioned Adventure Story


The Way Back:  3 ½ out of 5
Janusz:  I have to get back.
Given that The Way Back has had practically no marketing going for it, despite opening in several hundred theaters this weekend, I should probably explain what it is pretty quickly.  This is a film, based on a true story, about a group of men escaping a Siberian prison, during World War II, and walking a 4,000 mile journey over mountains, through Mongolia, and across the Gobi Desert, in an effort to reach India and, in essence, freedom.  Filmed on location, the movie is incredibly well shot and features two particularly great performances.  While watching the film can sometimes be arduous, just as the circumstances were for these men, it certainly offers enough to be seen from a story that is fairly simple.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rockwell Has His Work Cut Out For Him on 'Moon'

Moon: 5 out of 5

(I continue to throw up some older reviews, now and again.)
Sam: Sam Bell reporting to central. Everything running smoothly. Rock and Roll, God bless America. Over and out.
Just awesome. Another example of a film where I'm just sitting back trying to pointlessly find reasons to criticize it, when I honestly just enjoyed the whole thing. Why should I hold back? I was completely engaged and loved this movie. Its a true space oddity (more on that overused joke later) and it once again solidifies Sam Rockwell as pretty much my favorite current actor.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Aaron’s Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of Spring 2011

Here is a list of some upcoming releases that I am looking forward to the most.  While the opening beginning months of 2011 will be a bit slow, theatrically speaking, worthwhile new releases will soon pick up for the better.  I have put “spring” in the title, but let me clarify:  I am counting all movies that fall between February and up to the end of April.  The summer may start in June, but the beginning of May is when the summer movies start happening.  As far as these choices go, the dates are subject to change, but at this point, they should all be sticking to these release dates.  So with all of that out of the way, let’s get to the flicks:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

‘Barney’s Version’ Is a Well Told Tale

Barney’s Version = 4 out of 5 Stars
Barney:  Have I ever given up, when it comes to you?
Miriam:  Never.
Barney:  So what makes you think I’m gonna start now?
Barney’s Version is a comedic drama, based on a very popular and prize winning Canadian novel, by Mordecai Richler.  The film stars Paul Giamatti, in a fantastic performance, as a man who has led an interesting life, which we follow through several decades.  The film boasts a solid supporting cast as well and manages to be a very entertaining picture throughout, as we see Giamatti’s character deal with the challenges he has faced, mainly involving his multiple marriages.  While I could pick more of this film apart, based on what I have heard about the structure of the novel, the fact is that I really enjoyed watching this film, and it is on that merit that I would easily praise what it has to offer.

Monday, January 10, 2011

‘The Green Hornet’ Strikes, But It’s Not Quite A Thrilling Adventure

The Green Hornet:  3 out of 5 Stars
Brit Reid:  Think about this Kato.  I haven’t done anything good my whole life.  We’ve been wasting our potential.  You a little bit more than me.  This city needs our help.  We could be heroes.
When it was announced that Seth Rogen would be starring as the Green Hornet, many first asked, “Wait, who’s the Green Hornet?”  The second thing asked was, “So he’s kind of like The Shadow…wait, who’s The Shadow?”  But finally, people asked, “Wait, Seth Rogen is going to play a superhero?”  And so he was, and now, some time later, the time of The Green Hornet is finally upon us.  After many months of delays, different directors, cast members, and a post-conversion to 3D, the film stands as a potential blockbuster (even with its January release date).  Fortunately, I had fun with this film overall.  Unfortunately, I would simply describe it as “ok”.  Despite the many different talents involved, the results of this movie were pretty mixed.  While the film has its action moments and is quite humorous, the film moves pretty slow and only really finds its grove in the third act.

Sofia Coppola’s Latest Will Either Take You ‘Somewhere’ or Nowhere

Somewhere = 4 out of 5
Reporter:  Who is Cleo, the name on your cast?
Johnny:  That’s my daughter.
Recommending a film like writer/director Sofia Coppola’s latest feature, Somewhere, comes with a certain kind of note:  as a person well traveled in various types of theatrical features, I found a lot to appreciate in this film; however, the way that it has been assembled and what it has to offer will most likely appeal more to those with a slant towards arthouse-type cinema and more obscure features.  I am not a fan of so specifically dropping a film into a certain category and only recommending certain people to see it, but that being said, if you know about this film already or are familiar with Coppola’s previous work, you probably know what you would be getting yourself into.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ Is a Fun Time Away From Lockdown


I Love You Phillip Morris:  3 ½ out of 5

Phillip Morris:  You going back to prison again, Stephen?  You promised me we’d always be together.
Stephen Russell:  And I’m keepin’ that promise.  We’ll never be apart.  Never!

To be very matter-of-fact, I Love You Phillip Morris is based on a true story about a gay con artist who managed to escape prison many times and also fell in love with one of his fellow inmates, Phillip Morris.  Despite its seemingly unique premise and presence of Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor in lead roles, the film has been bouncing around for a couple years, trying to find a U.S. distributor.  The difficulty in this process was likely due to the presence of some explicit sexual content in the film (despite having already been a success in Europe), which tends to throw American marketers the wrong way.  Fortunately, this film was picked up, which is great, because this is a fun film and features two strong lead performances.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Centurion Goes Medieval With Its Action

Centurion: 3 1/2 out of 5
Centurion Quintus Dias: In the chaos of battle, when the ground beneath your feet is a slurry of blood, puke, piss and the entrails of friends and enemies alike, it's easy to turn to the gods for salvation. But it's soldiers who do the fighting, and soldiers who do the dieing, and the gods, never get their feet wet.
A fine enough chase film that uses the 2nd century Roman conquest of Britain as its backdrop.  While there is solid action throughout the film, once it settles down on its B-movie-like plot, the film works quite well.  However, while some of the storytelling is a bit clunky, the visuals present in this film make up for it.  Some great scenery is blended with ample amounts of bloodshed that is shot in a very brutal manner.  It doesn't hurt that a few good character actors head up the cast either.

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