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Showing posts from December, 2011

The Vault: High Fidelity (2000)

Top five lists, we're all guilty of making them, film enthusiasts more than others. Music, movies, break-ups: all are rich subjects for debate and reflection. We chose what we watch or listen to and who we make time to spend with. They reveal so much more about us than our hair and clothes, they define who we are and Rob is defined by his top five ex-girlfriends. Laura is about to join their ranks.

Rob (John Cusack) spends more flicking through albums on his living room floor than picking shirts out of his closet. He is the owner of a record store replete with two slackers with a taste for snide remarks toward customers. They were hired for three days a week, they show up for six. He is unhappy and not necessarily without cause. Laura (Iben Hjejle) is leaving Rob; he's in arrested development and she doesn't enjoy living life as an angst song on loop. Now he has to break himself down and stroll through the top five again, to see why he keeps getting left.

Through half-dat…

Criterion Review: Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Balthazar is a service animal. Accordingly, he is beaten and burdened time and time again. His original caretaker Marie can relate: her life followed a similarly tragic path. As Balthazar is beaten by his owners, Marie is humiliated by a sadistic lover. Life is a cruel venture, Au Hasard Balthazar offers, and suffering through it with grace and dignity is seemingly the only way to transcend the brutality.

A tale of a donkey in rural France. Seemingly, nothing as compelling as the tale of a horse during the World War, but the message is the same. Balthazar's life is sequenced through his bucolic early days learning to take his first steps, all the way to his days of glory, finishing with his dying breath. We see life offered through the eyes of this animal, but never his   opinion of what transgressions occur. Too frequently animals on film are defined by a whinny, a trademark eye-roll, or clopping a hoof at a comedic time. Robert Bresson merely allows Balthazar to exist in front …

What I Want for Christmas

Is it too much to ask that Fight Club get the Criterion treatment? The fact that the film's presence is still felt more than ten years later should be enough. The film captured the zeitgeist of an era more solidly than anything else offered. Reward it.
Harrison Ford to stop pretending to care about acting and go back to the ranch. Look, I know you don't really care about doing films anymore and I don't care to sit through you mailing it in. You can't be bitter about audiences not going to see your films when you don't care enough to actually perform in them. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Better audience turnout. Granted, I understand that Jack and Jill absolutely commands your attention, but there were a lot of great, underperforming films out there: Drive, 50/50, and Take Shelter. And if that weren't enough to convince you, then let Guillermo Del Toro try, "When they ask why does Hollywood make such shitty movies it's because when they do make gr…

Review: The Adventures of Tintin

Tintin is a creation that has largely not made an impact on this side of the Atlantic, but the beloved creation of Hergé has been critiqued, studied, and read in Europe for the better part of several decades. In adapting the series into a new trilogy for modern times, the Holy Trinity of geek writers (Edgar Wright, Steven Moffat and Joe Cornish) have been brought in. The three very clearly hold the source material dear and what most moviegoers aren't familiar with could become a kid-Indy for future audiences.

After journalist, Tintin (Jamie Bell), purchases a model ship his life suffers a quick upheaval. His refusal to sell the ship to Sakharine (Daniel Craig doing his dastardly best) results in several murders and his kidnapping. Tintin awakens on a ship set for Morocco and finds that the ship that he has purchased is actually contained a map that could lead to untold fortune.

The crew of Captain Haddock (the inimitable Andy Serkis) have been paid handsomely to mutiny against Cap…

Review: Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Since J.J. Abrams took the reins of the Mission: Impossible franchise, there has been a sense of fun and exhilaration unmatched by other action series. The tone for the films prior to the 2006 release was an evolving one: Mission: Impossible played it dark and had very little room for laughs of any kind, the sequel dialed back the seriousness, but not enough to translate to a good time. Placing Abrams in the director's chair was a good start to revitalizing the series and once it was announced the Pixar's Brad Bird would helm the fourth film, anticipation went sky-high.

Ghost Protocol opens with Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) breaking out of a Russian prison to the tune of Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head”. From the opening on, the audience knows it is in the hands of a director who can compose action sequences cleanly and competently.

Newly named field agent Benji (Simon Pegg, one of two IMF holdovers from MI: 3) and Jane Carter (Paula Patton) await Hunt outside the comp…

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

David Fincher doesn't need great source material to turn in celluloid excellence: The Social Network proved that if one does than something great will occur, but the originalDragon Tattoo novels are not such material.
The Swedish adaptation left me feeling cold back in 2009, but given Fincher's track record, I felt like I owed this film a shot. When the opening scene of the film opens with Vanger's phone call, I started to get antsy, is this going to be a shot-for-shot redux? No. No, it's not, the pulsing opening credits scored to Karen O's "The Immigrant Song" made me quite aware of that.
Harriet Vanger has been missing for the better part of forty years, given that piece of information the fact that Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) keeps receiving portraits from his niece is disconcerting. Enter Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig). Facing a major libel suit and perhaps jail time, the last thing the journalist wants to do is add another opportunity to be…

The Vault: Juno (2007)

Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) doesn't take anything off of anyone. Her befuddled father Mac (J.K. Simmons), her sometimes prickly stepmother Bren (Allison Janney), or the jive-talking convenience store clerk (Rainn Wilson). Her buddy Leah (Olivia Thirlby) is a girl turned on by corduroy jackets and bald patches. Her unique lifestyle implies a snarky teen, but the truth is much different, she's ironic but insecure.

Paulie (Michael Cera) is enlisted in an experiment involving a life experience and a comfy chair that, of course, results in Juno's pregnancy. Pondering her options of whether or not to keep the child, Juno visits to the local clinic and changes her mind about aborting the child (and keeps the movie rolling along).

With a full head of steam, Juno embarks on carrying the child and remain a full-time high school student. First things first, she needs to find adoptive parents for the child. Cue best friend Leah with a copy of the PennySaver and a quick comment to go al…

Review: Carnage

Pleasantries are exchanged, food is offered, smiles are forced, secret resentments are harbored. No, this isn't an awards ceremony, this is a reconciling between the Longstreets and the Cowans. A school yard incident between their sons turns a meeting between parents in a New York City apartment into a summit of every conflict in the entire world.
Penelope Longstreet (Jodie Foster) and Nancy Cowan (Kate Winslet) are the respective mothers of Ethan and Zachary. Zachary knocked out two of Ethan's teeth and rather than take things to court, these two couples are trying to handle things civilly. Tempers are near flaring, but Michael Longstreet (John C. Reilly) is trying to keep everything at an even-keel without pissing off the Cowans or his wife.  However, everyone is irritated that Alan Cowan (Christoph Waltz) doesn't bother to express any feelings at all. He is more concerned with Walter's news that there could be a potential lawsuit against his company.

An amicable si…

Golden Globes Nominations Announced

All right nominations for the criminally underrated Brendan Gleeson in The Guard and Kristen Wiig for Bridesmaids. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association may not always get it right, but surprises like that are always appreciated. That said still no love for Michael Shannon and his ground-shaking performance in Take Shelter.


The rest of 2011-2012 Golden Globe Nominees are:


Motion Picture, Drama
The Descendants
The Help
Hugo
The Ides of March
Moneyball
War Horse
Best Director – Motion Picture
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
George Clooney, The Ides of March 
Michel Hazanvicius, The Artist 
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo Best Performance By An Actress In A Motion Picture  – Drama
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin Best Performance By An Actor In A Motion Picture – Drama
George Clooney, The Descendants
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Ryan G…

'Dark Knight Rises' Prologue Reaction

After retiring from a trip that saw a great deal of people dressed in cowls, joker make-up, and capes I am ready to report. You must see The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX. The experience is completely immersive. Given that a majority of the prologue's action takes place in planes at 10,000 feet in the air, you will appreciate the benefit of a larger screen. A few peeks were offered of Catwoman and the Tumbler, but the real treat was seeing Bane in action.

To address the elephant in the room, yes, Bane's voice is a little difficult to decipher at points, but it is synthesized and—I think—meant to emphasize his inhumane nature. Beyond that there is nothing to worry about on the villain front. The Joker may have been a master of psychological warfare, but Bane is all too willing to burn Gotham to the ground. A shot of him dropping Batman's shattered mask to the ground before the prologue ends is all we need to know. This is a monster of an entirely different sort.

Off to the 'Dark Knight' Prologue

If this seems like gloating, forgive me, I am just really excited. Thoughts will be posted after returning from the prologue screening. I would also like to thank Warner Bros. for hosting the event. Giving an advanced look at the most anticipated film-event of the year is always appreciated.

(Courtesy: Warner Bros.)

Review: The Descendants

It's often said that if you don't like the weather in Hawai'i just wait ten minutes. What's more true of Alexander Payne's The Descendants is if you don't like the mood of the film just wait a scene. That's not to say that the film's transitions aren't enjoyed--because they are, immensely. Payne's previous effort, Sideways,was famed for within seconds flipping from heartbreaking to hilarity.

Hawai'i, the name alone conjures magical memories and images for most. Sandy beaches that spread as far as the eye can see, skirted dancers and pigs on a roast. What could be better than this paradise? To hear Matt King tell it, "Paradise can go fuck itself". Tourists never had to deal with the condescending parents of their children's friends. Paradise never had to deal with a wife in a coma.

Matt was the backup parent, now he is thrust into the duty of raising his daughters. His wife handled Alexandra and Scottie, in fact, she handled ev…

'Amazing Spider-man' Poster

Impressive. Sony could have taken the status-quo marketing approach to the film, but they didn't. Good on them.

(Courtesy: Superhero Hype)

'Django Unchained' Poster

Granted, neither of these posters will be the official poster, though they are still quite fine looking. Better than anything The Weinstein Company will put out in a year anyway.

(Courtesy: Federico Mancuso)

NY/Boston Contest Winner

Well here we are a month later and the competition to win two tickets, courtesy of On Location Tours to sightsee either Boston or New York City has ended. And the winner is... Andrew! Front Room Cinema would have been the winner but the contest if for U.S. residents. Sorry.

FrontRoomCinema 12
Andrew 7
Dan 5
Rodney 5
Sliccy 3

Thanks again to On Location Tours for their partnership!