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It is a shame that PARANORMAN didn’t find the audience it should have. For me, it was much smarter and more heartfelt than say, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA. With a terrific cast including Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher MIntz-Plasse, Leslie Mann and Casey Affleck, this dare to be different tale is one that I will return to next Halloween, and on and on.
This Swedish charmer stars a very likable Bengt Nillsson as the police officer and the strikingly attractive Sanna Persson as the woman he is tracking. The drumming here is fantastic as are the clever ways the musicians find to play their music. Sometimes it makes little to no sense, yet you can’t help finding yourself tapping your feet to a different drummer.
Jack Black is sensational as Bernie, the effeminate stranger that romances the grumpy old maid played by the legendary Shirley MacLaine. Black gives what is easily his best performance to date as the real life criminal, so much so that I hope he continues to take chances like this. BERNIE also features another terrific character for Matthew McConaughey who had a pretty damn impressive year with this, KILLER JOE, MAGIC MIKE and THE PAPERBOY. Yet as a fan of Linklater, this is easily one of his finest and of course, funniest films.
With all the big summer blockbusters, THE AVENGERS was far and above the most enjoyable. The last act was especially exciting, with a massive battle that would decide the fate of the world these avenging superheroes protect. Clearly Joss Whedon cared about these heroes and thankfully he had the talent to bring them all together and make it work. Extra points for the casting of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/ The Hulk as he and even his CGI counterpart almost entirely stole the show.
Writer/director Stephen Chbosky based the screenplay on his own novel creating a perfect blend of pop culture and character. The music is inspired and even when the story gets a little too sappy, the wonderful performances and snappy dialogue bring it quickly back to life. PERKS is a sweetly heartfelt telling of a young man growing up in a crazy mixed up world with good friends by his side.
PLAYBOOK’s sympathetic look at a bipolar man trying to readjust to the world around him is sometimes painful, yet always involving. We are all a little crazy on the inside, yet the severity of his issues is not treated with kid gloves, there are times when Cooper is downright detestable. Honest, heartbreaking and hilarious, this is simply a brilliantly done film that I plan to revisit soon.
Bear in mind that this is a musical through and through and hardly a single line of dialogue is spoken, every emotion and every thought is put into song, which for the most part is not a bad thing. Sure Russell Crowe’s voice isn’t suited to this style of music, but Hugh Jackman knows his way around a Broadway musical which elevates their bitter rivalry. Yet it is the superb work of Anne Hathaway that brings this feature film to a whole new level. She is absolutely perfect. Sometimes this is nearly much too personal but I applaud its daring and inventive approach.
One of the many impressive qualities of SKYFALL is cinematographer Roger Deakins. This film is visually stunning. The Shanghai high rise fight sequence was gorgeous as well as nearly every single set piece in the film. And in the end, Craig is a damn good Bond and I can’t wait to see where he takes this iconic character next.
The film plays on an even field focusing on this story without feeling like simply propaganda. It also helps that Jessica Chastain is phenomenal as the one person who never gave up her search. The actress carries an already powerful and provocative feature. Whether or not this is all absolutely one-hundred percent true I don’t know. Either way it is a brilliantly told tale that will haunt you for days after.
Steven Spielberg has created an exceptional film about the president’s attempt to abolish slavery and bring an end to the Civil War. It is a graceful and inspiring film that is well deserving of the praise. Aside from Lewis, Sally Field gives another wonderful performance as Mary Todd Lincoln. As I walked out of the theatre, one of the audience members mentioned how beautiful the movie was… I agree wholeheartedly. This is one of the most beautifully directed, acted and written films of the year.
One of Affleck’s many strengths is the talent he puts in front of the camera. Not only does he give a terrific performance himself – in a leading role no less – he knows how to pick great co-stars. The casting choice of Alan Arkin and John Goodman is superb. The same can be said for the rest of this amazing cast, including Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochran, Christopher Denham and Kerry Bishé. Affleck has become one of the best directors working today… who knew?