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Old 03-20-2013, 03:37 PM

The Call(2013)-7/10
Old 03-20-2013, 04:09 PM
The Master - 6/10
Old 03-20-2013, 07:56 PM

There are movies that can get under your skin, albeit with overdone gore effects and/or blatantly horrific imagery. Not for South Korean director Chan-wook Park, he lets the camera and performances burrow underneath audiences’ expectations, then do everything he can to subvert what the individual would believe will happen in the next scene. There is no greater example for Park’s work than his American film debut Stoker, a simple film on how the dark skeletons in a family’s closet start to fall out in the open.

If there’s one thing that is never misused it’s the cinematography, and this is a Chan-wook Park film through and through. Each scene, transition, or edit feels like something so natural, never forced. Cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung makes every scene feel serene, beautiful, and most of all tight. He always allows the camera to move throughout a given scene with many characters on the screen, even keeping a sequence involving characters in different locations to never feel lost or confusing. It all feels like a symphony, with Park knowing when to build up the crescendo to a solid payoff.

Then there is the great cast, whom know what type of tense, uncomfortable story that they are being a part of and sink right in. Mia Wasikowski, in particular, is great as India Stoker, the reclusive daughter who loses her father to a tragic car accident. She feels like the ultimate wild card in the film, a protagonist that doesn’t know where she’s coming from or what she’ll do, and Wasikowski plays that perfectly. Nicole Kidman, as India’s grieving mother Evelyn, plays the part of damaged housewife and estranged mother perfectly. She’s the prim and proper female to India’s more dark and mysterious characterization, but Kidman doesn’t play the character as the ultimate antagonist. There’s a certain tragedy to what Kidman brings to the table, a mother who never seemed to fully connect to her own daughter. It’s a fine performance that could have certainly feel one note.

Then there’s Matthew Goode as Charlie, India’s uncle that stays with the family after the passing of Charles Stoker (Dermont Mulroney). Unlike Wasikowski’s India and Kidman’s Evelyn, there’s no doubt where Goode’s Charlie is played with the plot’s proceedings, but Goode nails everything effortlessly. There’s a certainty of the character’s motives, but not a true understanding on why and how he brings his life into the Stoker residence. Goode keeps that mystery at bay until it’s time to peel back the layers, then digs right in to the twists of whom Charlie is.

IF there’s anything that feels a bit lacking in certain areas is the script by Wentworth Miller. It’s nothing terrible, but there is one or two scenes that feel more like a way to bring a character to a certain point, rather than flow organically. But, while there are those minor inconsistencies, the film never feels boring for thanks to the directorial eye of Chan Wook Park. There’s also a confidence in never pulling punches or cheating out to the film’s conclusion, which some movies can be guilty of from time to time.

Stoker is a great American debut for Chan-Wook Park, allowing a cinematic eye that never feels filtered from his previous South Korean films, always willing to surprise and engage the audiences. Frankly speaking, if your looking for a film that wants to turn your expectations over your head and go down a path that feels spine tingling and uncomfortable, then Stoker is definitely a type of thriller to keep your eye on.

Old 03-20-2013, 08:02 PM
Kon-Tiki ('50) - 8/10
Old 03-20-2013, 08:36 PM
Suicide Fleet - A pretty standard film from the 30s in which three friends join the Navy during WWI. There's really nothing to distinguish this from any other similar film other than Ginger Rogers in a small role early in her career as a girlfriend for one of the three. 4/10

The Aristocats - I liked Eva Gabor as the voice of the mother of three kittens who tries to find her way back home. Granted the story isn't terribly original but the presentation was very good. 8/10
Old 03-20-2013, 08:48 PM
LIFE OF PI - 10/10

Fifth time watching it. Still love it. The 3d is awesome.
Old 03-20-2013, 11:12 PM

Strong performance from Winstead.


Il Posto

What I love about Italian neorealism is the no bullshit, "as is" cynical portrayal of life. This is up there with one of the best. Also, I had to see it because it's one of Malick's favorites. Did not disappoint. The loss of innocence and the hopeless portrayal of people's future of all ages and genders was gritty and honest.

Old 03-21-2013, 12:30 AM

The Rundown(2003)-7/10
Old 03-21-2013, 11:01 AM

Matteo Garrone's follow up to Gommorah. I didn't think I'd like the film based on the introduction, but the further I watched - the deeper I got pulled in. I'm a sucker for films with themes that deal with perception, paranoia, etc and Garrone manages to not only make it interesting but he dissects the obsession of modern day audiences with reality tv. The last 10 minutes are amazing.

Old 03-21-2013, 11:35 AM
The Bay - 5/5 Highly Recommended!

Just got a copy of this DVD, and it really creeped me out! A brilliantly executed film that is full of tension and suspense. Academy Award Winner Barry Levinson directs a "found footage" eco-horror, that shows a small Maryland town's decent into chaos as mutant parasites infect their water supply. After a government cover up, The Bay follows a wannabe news caster retelling story, through footage of various characters collected from the scene, of the day that devastated the community.
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:38 PM
Pasian - One of Rossellini's neo-realist films set during WWII. This one tells six separate stories that show the harsh realities of war. All of them were well told and brutal depictions of what happened in Italy at the time. 8/10

Robin Hood - Not many favorite Disney film and there are better Robin Hood stories (especially the Errol Flynn version.) There are still some entertaining moments however such as the archery tournament. 6/10
Old 03-21-2013, 07:50 PM
The Town That Dreaded Sundown

A cheapo Saturday night slasher special with mostly bad acting (especially by victims) and poorly choreographed murder sequences. With the exception of the cornfield scene. That was well done. But flaws aside, I think it ultimately benefits from the true story of the sadistic masked Phantom Killer that terrorized the small border town of Texarkana in 1946. It’s legitimately freaky. And the actor who plays the Phantom, Bud Davis, gives the chases and attacks their element of suspense and danger when director Charles Pierce couldn’t hack the basic mechanics. The heavy breathing creeped the shit out of me. Veteran character actor Ben Johnson redeems most of the B-list cast with a badass, focused performance as the Texas Ranger out to get Phantom, though I could’ve done without the hokey Andy Griffith Show antics of Pierce himself as the bumbling Barney Fife-ish Deputy Benson. What was intended as levity ends up just being annoyingly inept comic relief.

-> 5/10
Old 03-21-2013, 09:47 PM

Compliance & The Imposter

When making a film based on actual true events, there needs to be some tendency to develop that film in order to make it engrossing for the audience. Take, for example, the 2012 best picture Oscar winner Argo. Some of those events have been fabricated in order to make a more suspenseful and intense film, but it mostly stick to its guns to the actual real-life facts that it’s all the more inspiring for the audience to believe that this actually happen in the world. This also goes in the form of documentaries, where a real life story can be utilized to bring a powerful and spine tingling mystery that is much more suspenseful than a real life story brought to life cinematically. Which brings us to two films that go about adapting real life events in different ways, Compliance and The Imposter. While the former uses true events to create a film that is shocking but surprisingly empty; the latter is a solid documentary film about how things aren’t what they seemed, and how that uncertainty spreads through to everyone involved.

Perhaps the use of adapting Compliance into a suspenseful film is ultimately its Achilles heel. If people are aware to what the events surrounding director Craig Zobel’s film, then watching Compliance feels a bit like a wasted experience. It’s not all wasted, as the actors in the film are fearless in their own individual performances. Ann Dowd, in particular, is riveting as the fast food manager who receives a phone call from a supposed police officer that one of her employees (Drema Walker) has stolen from a customer. She exudes that manager who’s simply trying to do her best, while at the same time looking depressingly incompetent. Walker is also great as the accused employee, bringing that air of “holier than thou” that some teens exude to the superiors, but seems to relinquish that façade once she’s accused to be a thief. It’s a bit of a draining performance that Walker seems willing to jump into, and it makes the film all the more effective.

There is also an effectiveness behind the camera as well, with Zobel keeping the attention between simple call exchanges to feel involving and, as the stakes are raised, intensely creepy and uncomfortable. There’s no hack behind where the camera should go or how a scene is staged, there’s simply an interest to the actual events at hand, and the ability to adapt that as well as possible.

The inherent problem is that the film is presenting events that seem to have more meat towards character motivations and their thoughts at the time. Most of the film just simply goes through the motions, letting the plot go to its inevitable and shocking conclusion, while seemingly coming across as a cheap shock without much of the substance to back it up. Again, these events did happen and Zobel puts those scenes out as they happen, but how they come across in the film’s plot kind of don’t work. There probably should’ve been a bit more screen time in order to get a true grasp on where the characters felt at the moment, which is probably why this type of event should’ve been more engrossing and in depth as a documentary.

This is probably why The Imposter is more intriguing. Director Bart Layton switches from dramatization to real life interviews to present a story regarding a boy’s disappearance, and the discovery of him five years later. There’s no veil that Layton puts up to the audience, as he lays down his deck of where this story and perspective is going in the opening moments of the film. However, while the film’s reveal seems premature, there’s an underlining theme that Layton brings to the audience slowly but surely. The theme of how people react to things that aren’t what they seem. It’s this action that Layton completely subverts the audience’s expectations of what this film is about, and soon doubts, accusations, and confusion soon confounds the events of this tragic disappearance.

The switch between dramatization and real life doesn’t feel hacky or, more of cinematic reenactments that channels like ABC or NBC do for certain high-profile stories. The real juice comes from the interviews to all the parties involved, as there is a true sense of understanding, as well as skepticism, towards the events surrounding the disappearance and discovery came about. Every piece of the mystery is vital towards to the confounding conclusion that is pretty much utilized brilliantly in the final scenes of the documentary.

Each film handles their real life events in different ways, with The Imposter as a more documentarian feel, while Compliance goes more cinematically. While both films have material that is shocking and completely head scratching regarding what the people went through and discovered, The Imposter handles the material and story in a more competent manner, mostly because it trusts the audience on what the film’s story is about. Compliance has that inkling to its audience, but feels a bit dishonest and cheap towards the characters and events involved. That’s the difficulty of using a filmmaker’s eye towards real life events. Some things work cinematically, while others could be handled with a more deft hand.

Compliance: 6/10
The Imposter: 8/10
Old 03-22-2013, 12:43 AM

Striking Distance(1993)-7/10
Old 03-22-2013, 06:31 AM
The Words - 8/10
Old 03-22-2013, 03:54 PM

Old 03-22-2013, 03:59 PM
Olympus Has Fallen - ***

Such a fun movie. The movie that A Good Day to Die Hard SHOULD have been! The 20 minute takeover of the white house sequence is a virtuoso piece of action filmmaking. It's a sensational and spectacular sequence and if the rest of the movie doesn't quite live up to that scene, it's still solid, hugely enjoyable fun.
Old 03-22-2013, 08:01 PM
The Master

PT Anderson’s much-anticipated follow-up to the masterpiece There Will Be Blood is now officially my biggest disappointment coming out of 2012. It’s a decent film and an interesting character study to a point, but that’s about it. Ponderous, frigid, and ultimately so ambiguous that it eventually just disconnected me on an emotional level. Intellectual stimulation alone does not a satisfying film make. Freddie Quell’s journey of self-discovery through the charismatic influence of the Hubbard-inspired Lancaster Dodd felt increasingly inconsequential the longer it went on, and if it weren’t for Phoenix and Hoffman’s mesmerizing performances (especially in the first “processing” scene), I would’ve written most of it off. But they’re riveting to watch, especially together, and Anderson’s direction is assured and maturely focused on challenging the viewer in unconventional ways. The problem is that in the end, I just… didn’t… care all that much. Damn shame.

-> 6/10
Old 03-22-2013, 08:08 PM
Journey to Italy - Another Rossellini film set in post-WWII Italy. This one wasn't as interesting to me as some of his other work. Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders were decent as a couple in a failing marriage but I didn't really care about what happened to them. The seemingly tacked on ending made very little impact. It's a good thing he cast those two actors in the lead roles. 5/10

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - Three stories of Pooh's adventures and they were all fun. I liked the Honey Tree one best especially when Pooh tried to disguise himself as a raincloud. 8/10
Old 03-22-2013, 09:08 PM
Originally Posted by ilovemovies View Post
Olympus Has Fallen - ***

Such a fun movie. The movie that A Good Day to Die Hard SHOULD have been! The 20 minute takeover of the white house sequence is a virtuoso piece of action filmmaking. It's a sensational and spectacular sequence and if the rest of the movie doesn't quite live up to that scene, it's still solid, hugely enjoyable fun.
Or Live Free or Die Hard since it takes place in Washington DC.

Old 03-22-2013, 09:53 PM

Before I begin my rant, I must say that I respect the Wachowskis for “trying something different”. It’s not the first time they’ve swung for the fences, and as an example I quite liked “Speed Racer”, much for the reason of their attempt at injecting something different into mainstream theaters. It wasn’t a complete success, but it worked for me more often than not. OK, here I go...

This is one of those few times where I will refer to the book itself as a form of comparison and relative relation to the movie. I usually consider a book to be one medium, and the film version of any book is almost always going to be “something else entirely”. I don’t mind if it strays from the source material, as long as it does a decent job keeping true to the main elements of what made the story work for me. Or, if I just think the movie works great I don’t care HOW faithful it is to the novel.
Most of the flaws I have with the book, sadly, translate straight to the movie screen. The storytelling has roughly six main timelines, each with their interconnecting sub-plots. It sounds confusing, but it’s really not that tough to follow while reading it. With that said, I consider the book’s storytelling to be rather scattershot. Ther are loose connections from one timeline to the next, all culminating into a finale that ultimately reveals nothing other than a concept which could be understood by reading the back flap of the book. As I got closer and closer to the conclusion, I was thinking “OK, now is the time to drop that final ball.” 100 pages left, “here it comes, oh not yet.” Even with 50 pages to go I was thinking “now is about the time to present me with the result of your Master Plan”. Even with 5 pages left, I was hoping for something more. Instead, it just kind of ended. And that was pretty much it.

The books’ greatest strength, and perhaps the main reason to read it, is the masterful narrative. Each section of time is in the words of a character OF that time, making for a wide variety of writing styles and spoken dialects. This is completely lost in the movie.
There is a comet-like birthmark which is referenced in almost every timeline. This is a simple ploy to tell the reader how that person’s “soul” - or whatever - is reincarnated through a different person in a different time. I thought it would mean more than that, but not really. In the movie, some people have it that didn’t have it in the book. I thought this was because the Wachowskis were conjuring up some wonderful new addition for the film medium. They were going to use the birthmark to help bring together many loose ends I couldn’t tie together from the book. I figured this would elevate the story’s symbolic concepts into a beautiful revelation. But no...
Just like the book, it’s just kind of “there”. In a lot of ways, this birthmark is even less relevant in the movie, because the principal cast plays someone different within each timeline. That alone is enough to tell us “these are the same people but in a different life, crossing paths through time and space”. So, really, that birthmark is useless.
I kind of like them using the same actors with different “roles” through time. It is a neat idea, but I feel there was too much of keeping each actor stuck with the same flaws and strengths over each iteration. It could have been more interesting if for example, Tom Hanks’ lives started out with the scoundrels but then gradually transformed through each incarnation to something even slightly more respectable. I felt instead that although they live different lifetimes over these hundreds of years, the characters we follow rarely - if ever - evolve spiritually.
I have an even bigger issue; a lot of the age makeup, and ESPECIALLY the race-altering makeup is beyond reproach.
In Neo-Seoul, I was thinking perhaps these “Koreans” were not white people in botched vulcan/klingon hybrid makeup, but some form of “advanced” and genetically enhanced version of humans. Perhaps they were altered to adapt better to the environment of a withered and wasted future, thus the genetic “fabricants” that were created only to serve looked like a “normal person” as a kind of irony. It was to present the idea that in an evolved dystopia, we lose more of ourselves to become part of a larger collective. You have to change your physical self, and in doing so the ones that are “different” and less civilized happen to be exactly like the human race as it is today. I realized eventually that I am just a fool for thinking too deeply into it. It was about halfway through the movie when we follow the two main characters in this future down into the “depths” of civilization and NO ONE ELSE looks like these freaky vulcan/klingon knockoffs. So I had to resort to just accepting that it’s a really shitty makeup job.
There was an even more laughably awkward attempt at making Halle Berry white. She didn’t look white, black, or anything in between. She just looked like an alien creature trying to pass for human.
I will even look past the botchy “old age” makeup, in which only Hugh Grant looked good old. I even got a chuckle out of seeing Hugo Weaving as a mean old nurse.
But then something just pushed me over the edge.
There’s a scene with a “Mexican woman”, and I must say that I was insulted more than even seeing Halle as a weird white creature in 1920s Europe. Just.... not only was it a pathetic stretch (among many before) at keeping the “same actors in separate lives” theme, but it was just horrible, horrible, HORRIBLE makeup work. It was so bad that every fiber of my being was revolted by what I was looking at (and listening to). Why couldn’t it have been a real Mexican in that role, or perhaps change the character to a different race? She’s in the movie for two minutes, and has a stupid last line that made my insides do cartwheels. “Don’t call me -------!” You know what? I wouldn’t! NO ONE would! That line is straight from the book, but in this movie’s case it doesn’t apply to you.
Another really bad job was a Halle dressed as an “old Asian man”, but thankfully that was only for about 15 seconds.

Perhaps this movie’s biggest flaw is how uninterested I was in any of these people. They come and go... but if they die in one timeline you know they aren’t really “dead”, so it takes away any emotional desire to feel for their plight. So because everyone is coming and going, and we’re switching from one similar event to another several hundred years earlier... it quickly becomes tiresome and predictable. That is the saddest part of this movie. It’s not the shitty makeup, nor the useless integration of a birthmark which works in a book but doesn’t translate to film at all (especially with the same actors playing several roles)... CLOUD ATLAS’ most devastating sin is being emotionally vapid. Devoid of suspense or honest thrills.

It is an ambitious project, and I do give props for that. There could have been the chance to tie things together and/or present a theme or conclusive underlying metaphor that means more than the simple concept “everyone is intertwined, through the past, present and future”. This is all there is to it. In case this concept isn’t comprehensible after the phrase is repeated thirty times in the movie, then it’s further pounded to the audience by repetitious juxtaposition from one scenario to the next. Each timeline follows a sequence of events that are thematically similar, so when one thing starts happening in Neo-Seoul, for example, then you see something quite similar about to unravel in other timelines. Get it? “History repeats itself”, and/or “we’re all intertwined?”
If you “get” that, then you get the whole movie. Sad to say, there’s not much else to it. I recommend the book, only because although it is as flawed in its structure as the movie, the narrative prose is astounding.
Then you can skip the movie. You might thank me for it!

Grade: D
Score: 4/10
Old 03-23-2013, 01:46 AM
Spring Breakers - 6/10

For once I actually disagree with critics. Most are praising its unwavering condemnation of partying as a way of life. And I do, but to a point. This is probably Korine's most level headed film yet. He manages some crazy visuals and killer soundtrack. But the style at times lost me, and I felt he ran out of ideas about halfway. I get that its a message film, and the message for that matter but I've seen it so many times before. C'mon, break new ground!
Old 03-23-2013, 03:20 AM
Broken City - ** 1/2

Competently made, solidly acted but not terribly exciting or original. Ultimately it's just kind of meh.
Old 03-23-2013, 09:51 AM
I just posted my thoughts over in the Current Movies thread but suffice it to say I really dug what Korine and company did here.

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Old 03-23-2013, 12:07 PM

Old 03-23-2013, 04:50 PM
The Call - 6/10
Old 03-23-2013, 08:01 PM
The Rescuers - This was a pretty straightforward story of a couple of mice trying to save a young girl from an evil woman. The voicework by Newhart and Gabor were very good and I did like most of the characters. 7/10

The Fox and the Hound - This story was fairly predictable but at least the two main characters were fairly entertaining. The climactic fight was pretty good too. 6/10
Old 03-23-2013, 09:45 PM


Old 03-23-2013, 11:34 PM

Old 03-24-2013, 01:11 AM
Presumed Innocent

Anyone else sorta groaned at the expositional speech at the end?

Old 03-24-2013, 09:01 AM

Old 03-24-2013, 10:13 AM
Cracking Up 6/10

Earthquake meets The Kentucky Fried Movie. Not a well made spoof movie but not bad.
Old 03-24-2013, 10:36 AM
Sinister - 9/10
Old 03-24-2013, 10:58 AM

Short, grey, minimalistic, and full of despair - kept me glued til the end. This won the Palme in 1999 and inspired a new law in Belgium...

so far two-for-two with Dardennes

Old 03-24-2013, 12:34 PM
Hanna - 7.5/10
Old 03-24-2013, 04:10 PM
The Barrens - 7/10
Old 03-24-2013, 06:43 PM
SERENITY - 10/10
Old 03-24-2013, 07:38 PM
The Black Cauldron - This was a decent adventure tale but nothing more. Some of the animation was pretty good but none of the characters were very original or memorable. 5/10

The Great Mouse Detective - An entertaining take on Sherlock Holmes and a decent detective story as well. Basil was a fun protagonist and Vincent Price did some excellent voicework as the villain. 8/10

Oliver and Company - This is probably the weakest Disney film I've seen so far. I never really cared for the Oliver Twist story and this film didn't do anything to change my mind. The only good part was Dom DeLuise as Fagin but everything else was mediocre. 4/10
Old 03-24-2013, 08:23 PM
Miss Bala

An intense portrait of the everyday hell that is the drug war on the U.S.-Mexico border, told through the point of view of an innocent civilian. Said civilian is the gorgeous Laura (Stephanie Sigman), a girl of modest means with dreams of beauty pageant victory who runs afoul of a vicious cartel that ends up bullying her into being their drug mule and general gofer. With a brief period to get your bearings in Laura’s relatively sedate workaday world, director Gerardo Naranjo ditches the foreplay and turns up the aggression, and from then on the film grips you around the throat and threatens to suffocate you from scene to scene. You’re put in the thick of it with Laura, evinced by many tight, lingering closeup shots of her that serve to try making you as uneasy and edgy as she is by proximity. Or just to give you a sense of terrifying realism when bullets suddenly start ripping through the screen. This is visceral filmmaking that doesn’t pull punches or pretend to hold your hand and tell you it’s gonna be okay.

-> 9/10
Old 03-24-2013, 08:52 PM
Bamboo Gods and Iron Men 6/10
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