The Official Review Thread of 2007

Mister Tee
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Postby Mister Tee » Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:54 pm

Magilla, I presume you won't see this till after the weekend, but to respond: I think Fracture is a trifle -- never aspiring to more than potboiler-hood -- but the trick revelation is really pretty ingenious...it never occurred to me, but was there in plain sight all the time. That (along with a better Gosling performance than the material deserved) elevated the film to slightly more than two-hour time-waster.

I think The Lookout was somewhat more ambitious, and, as I say, I liked the first half hour, which was all character stuff. The problem for me was, I didn't think it had enough meat to be a serious drama, and the blandness of the thriller elements made it less than satisfying on that score as well.

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Postby Big Magilla » Wed Aug 15, 2007 4:21 pm

I liked The Lookout. A minor film, yes, but a failry decent one. Gordon-Levitt gives the best portrayal of a "slow" character since Tom Hulce in Dominic & Eugene almost twenty years ago. As for first time director Frank, he's harder on himself than anyone else as he beats himself up mercilessly on the DVD documentary over what he regards as his poor directoral choices.

I also liked Fracture, an even more obvious thriller but one that does have a twist I didn't see coming. Another good performance from Ryan Gosling and a not bad one from Anthony Hopkins, though he can probably do these evil characters in his sleep by now.

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Postby Mister Tee » Wed Aug 15, 2007 1:15 pm

I've liked alot of Scott Frank's script-work, but I found his directorial effort The Lookout quite disappointing.

The odd thing is, I liked the way it started. Despite some similarity to Memento, Gordon-Levitt's plight is poignant one, and creatively rendered. Early scenes with Carla Gugino and Jeff Daniels are sharply written.

When the film starts to fail is when the plot kicks in. A bunch of scumbags take advantage of the brain-damaged/feeling-deprived-of-his-life main character and lure him into a bank robbery, with a hot babe as honey trap. The film doesn't even attempt to camouflage what's going on (e.g., showing the babe, Isla Fisher, in an embrace with chief scumbag just after Gordon-Levitt's departure). The robbery goes wrong, in a fairly predictably disastrous way, and the final reel sees some gunplay, but nothing you wouldn't expect. (The blurb on the back on the DVD promises "a twist you'll never seen coming" -- but, if it came, I never saw it at all) As far as I'm concerned, everything unfolded in as pedestrian a way as possible. And one plot element -- which, shall we say, recalls a famous Chekhov pronouncement -- is introduced in so obvious a way they might as well have used John Madden's tele-strator.

Gordon-Levitt is good, as usual -- though after this and Brick, I'm starting to connect him with movies that are unaccountably over-rated (fortunately, there's still Mysterious Skin). And Jeff Daniels shines in a fairly different sort of role. But it's all in the service of not very much.

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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Aug 15, 2007 6:40 am

Saw Stardust Monday and I don't get how critics have given it such positive notices.

I was annoyed almost from the very start. Charlie Cox was terrible. It was sad to see Peter O'Toole put to such waste. Claire Danes was rather awful. Robert De Niro aggravated me. I liked Michelle Pfeiffer right up to the end.

It seemed like a fanboy's tribute to fantasy films. I've seen better fan films captured from video games. The plot was somewhat original, but felt more like Baron Munchausen than it probably should have.
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Postby The Original BJ » Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:34 pm

I was mostly underwhelmed by this summer's efforts. (Though I haven't seen Bourne yet.)

I liked Ratatouille a lot, though I don't think it's quite up to par with Pixar's best efforts (better than Cars, though.)

I enjoyed Knocked Up, Rescue Dawn, Sicko, Hairspray, and The Simpsons Movie, but all with reservations.

I don't have much animosity toward A Mighty Heart, but it (and Angelina Jolie) are completely unnecessary.

Once...I've accepted that I just don't get it. Ditto Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose.

I have no idea what happens in Paprika. Or Pirates 3. Shrek was irritating, Spider-Man overlong, and Harry Potter put me to sleep.

And Transformers is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen.

Wow...typing that just made me realize how little I cared about everything released this summer. Bring on the fall, PLEASE!

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Postby Franz Ferdinand » Tue Aug 14, 2007 10:55 pm

How did everyone find this summer's movies compared to past summers? Now that the summer is essentially over (barring Superbad, which will likely be amazing), what are everyone's thoughts on the quality, box office performances, etc., of this summer's releases?

Hits:
1) Knocked Up - great reviews, terrific box office, made Seth Rogan a star. Kinda.
2) The Bourne Ultimatum - improved on the previous movie in every aspect.
3) Ratatouille - deserved to earn much more than it has, considering it was the best movie released this year so far.
4) $300M - for the first time ever, four movies cross this blockbuster mark.
5) Big July - in four weeks out of five, we saw movies open with $70M or more, an unprecedented event, even in this age of mega-opening weekends.

Misses:
1) Evan Almighty - giant budget, giant stinker.

Meh:
1) The Big 3 - all well below previous installments (though Spidey gets extra points for its mammoth opening weekend), even though all made over $300M, all sub-par efforts.

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Postby ITALIANO » Fri Aug 10, 2007 11:26 am

I didn't find it boring at all. You were probably very tired that day.

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Postby Sonic Youth » Fri Aug 10, 2007 9:10 am

I did, and I fell asleep. It may have been my fault, not the movie's.
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Postby ITALIANO » Fri Aug 10, 2007 3:21 am

Sonic Youth wrote:In honor of Italiano's birthday

:D

You should see Respiro, by the same director. It's a better movie.

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Postby Sonic Youth » Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:25 pm

In honor of Italiano's birthday, I went to see Emanuele Crialese's "Nuovomondo (Golden Door)". Okay, okay, that wasn't the reason why. I was going to see it anyway, because how often do subtitled films make their way to the boondocks of central Pennsylvania?

Basically, it's a yarn about a peasant family from Sicily making their way to America's Ellis Island via steamship. As a filmmaker, Crialese is disciplined and has an outstanding sense of period and local color. From the opening shots, she establishes herself as an almost obsessive classicist, and when she cuts from the male to female sleeping quarters on the steerage class (where the sense of claustrophobia is palpable) it's as if I could smell the difference. Some statements about the inequity between races and genders are quietly hinted at, but there's no real overriding theme and I felt denied the sense of epic that I was expecting from a multi-continental tale. The entire film feels as if it were wedged in on the shipboard - confining, as if we're not allowed any sense of the world beyond what's immediately portrayed onscreen - and the family's plight feels more like a case history than a personal story.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Jul 25, 2007 7:40 am

RATATOUILLE
Cast: Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano, Ian Holm, Brian Dennehy, Peter Sohn, Peter O'Toole, Janeane Garofalo, Will Arnett, Brad Garrett, James Remar, Julius Callahan, John Ratzenberger. (voices)
Dir: Brad Bird

I got hungry watching this. This hilarious, visually amazing tale of a rat who wants to become a chef continues on the streak of PIXAR of making films that do not suck. This one is a rebound from last year's Cars (which was also pretty good). Superb voice work from the cast especially Oswalt and O'Toole. The animation is breathtaking and Michael Giacchino's score is simply outstanding.

Oscar Prospects: Best Animated Feature is a lock. Also deserves Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song ("La Festin"), Best Original Score, Best Sound and Best Sound Editing.

Grade: A

THE SIMPSONS MOVIE
Cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Albert Brooks, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Karl Wiedergott, Tom Hanks.
Dir: David Silverman

We have now found the reason why a lot of the episodes of The Simpsons these days aren't up to par with the earlier episodes, all the hilarious gags were reserved for the movie. The writers of the best episodes of The Simpsons team up to create an extended episode that seldom runs out of gas and pretty much worthy of the big-screen. Jokes fly in a rapid-fire manner but never forgetting the heart and soul of what makes The Simpsons leagues above it's imitators. Stay for the credits.

Oscar Prospects: Best Animated Feature and maybe Best Adapted Screenplay.

Grade: A-

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Postby Penelope » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:37 pm

There's a moment in Transformers which, to me, encapsulates Michael Bay's approach to cinema in less than a minute: a robot is hurtling over a nearly destroyed Los Angeles street while in the foreground a bosomy brunette screams her brains out, all of this occuring in slow-motion.

I can only assume that after the immense failure of The Island--and years of critical brickbats--Bay decided to make a movie that wasn't just brainless, but self-mocking as well. True, it isn't self-mocking enough to raise it to "art," but there are touches here and there that I appreciated amidst the mayhem. It's the first Bay film that I can honestly say I enjoyed, though, of course, with reservations (an overly complicated plot that, as Sabin correctly points out, makes one think there are several different movies going on being the primary culprit; and unless you're a str8 white male, you seemingly have no value in a Bay film).

That said, I didn't find Transformers to be as jingoistic hoo-haa-ish as previous Bay efforts. And Julie White seems to have joyfully wandered in from a different movie altogether--that one scene in LaBeouf's bedroom is, truly, funnier than any moment in Knocked Up.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:14 pm

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helen Bonham-Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Richard Griffiths, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Bonnie Wright.
Dir: David Yates

Though it does not reach the heights of The Prisoner of Azkaban, it is a bit of an improvement on The Goblet of Fire. For his first big Hollywood FX blockbuster, David Yates passed with a high grade (but only parts of it in flying colors). Some parts felt rushed and clunky. But still, as a Potterhead, I was satisfied immensely. The FX were, as usual, dazzling (Yates could tell and Radcliffe has grown as an actor. Staunton was superb as Umbridge. Perhaps the best performance from the adult cast in the entire franchise. It's also the best shot film, gorgeous cinematography from Slawomir Idziak. Overall, it's a very good film.

Oscar Prospects: Deserves nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Staunton), Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.

Grade: B+

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Postby OscarGuy » Tue Jul 10, 2007 8:18 am

While my typical gripes about action movies exist in Transformers, I have to say it's the summer's best action movie so far. Now, I haven't seen Live Free or Die Hard and Harry Potter doesn't count as an action film.
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Postby Uri » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:16 am

Sonic Youth wrote:"Breach", about the capture of American spy Robert Hanssen, is a very average movie with a very great performance from Chris Cooper.

Like all the people here, I usually know too much in advance about movies I see to be really surprised by them. So at first, based of what I heard – or rather didn’t hear – about it, I wasn’t going to see Breach. Despite the cast (I’m a sucker for both Cooper and Linney) it looked quite lackluster to me. But a favorable review by a good critic here made me try it, and yet I wasn’t really prepared to the complexity I found hidden in it. Yes, as far as thrillers or espionage flicks goes, this one is on the pedestrian side, and yes, Phillipe is somewhat, dramatically speaking, a non entity, but this is not what Breach is all about.

In The Good Shepard (an utterly out of the blue subversive study of the very essence of the American psyche), when Damon’s character is recruited by the founder of the CIA, a point is being made about the fact that Jews and Catholics are practically excluded from such an organization, which in itself is being conceives as the outmost incarnation of what being an American is all about. In a way, Breach is a thematic spin-off which explores this very notion. It confronts the vertical, linear, target oriented Protestant approach, (brilliantly embodied by Linneys portrayal of the almost caricature of the agent-who-has-no-life-other-than-protecting-the-USA), against the complex, spiral, this constant circle of sins and pardons which what being Catholic is about. Hanssen’s religious devotion is what propels him to explore the darker side, whether it’s sexually or as traitor, because the greater the offence the greater the redemption that follows is. And for him, this constant process doesn’t make him a bad family man or a lesser patriot, it only enhances these elements in his persona. Cooper’s dry combination of constant agony, ecstasy and irony is indeed perfect. And in a way, Phillipe’s blandness is just right for this person who leaves the heavy textured, alluring, intriguing option Hanssen represents behind to pursue the crispy clean All American dream.


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