The Official Review Thread of 2007

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Eric
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Postby Eric » Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:21 pm

I'm mixed on Once as well. But for me, the most interesting aspect of the film was how it observed people working on their musical instruments and enjoying their talent in a rather limited palate. (I'm sure there will be those who disagree, but after hearing almost each song in the film not once but twice, I'm prepared to say the reactions of everyone else in the film acting as though Guy and Girl's music was to the level of Chopin or, I dunno, Neil Young were wildly overstated.)

Other than that, though, it wasn't much. Lump never came close to my throat. Pain frequently visited my eyes, however.

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Postby Sabin » Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:15 am

'Once'...

...on the one hand, it's about a lovelorn troubadour and the woman who loves his music...

...on the other, this is some pretty saccharine stuff, right here. All throughout, I felt as though I had written and directed this film...and I was embarassed to see it.

Not without merit (much of it left me with a lump in my throat), but overall I have to stick with my resistance on this one.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 02, 2007 7:29 am

ZODIAC
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, John Carroll Lynch, Donal Logue, Dermot Mulroney, Phillip Baker Hall, Charles Fleischer, Zach Grenier, Chloe Sevigny, June Raphael, Clea DuVall, Adam Goldberg, James LeGros.
Dir: David Fincher

The best movie I've seen this year so far. This is an endlessly fascinating and gripping account of the infamous, still unsolved case of the Zodiac killer. It really, really felt like it was shot right in the 1970's and features a fine ensemble of great actors with Downey Jr. as the standout.

Oscar Prospects: Deserves Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actor (Robert Downey Jr.)

Grade: A-

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Postby kaytodd » Mon May 28, 2007 12:01 am

WAITRESS
Cast: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto, Adrienne Shelley, Cheryl Hines, Andy Griffith, Lew Temple, Eddie Jemison
Director (and Writer): Adrienne Shelley

The dialogue and plot contrivances are those of a TV movie, albeit a very good TV movie. But I had a smile on my face almost the entire time. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Yes, it has its share of those "delightfully quirky" characters you find in films set in small southern U.S. towns. And much of the dialogue contains things nobody would say in real life. But I found myself getting into these characters and being affected by that dialogue. And the credit must go to the woman who directed the performances (including a good one by Adrienne herself).

I do not know anything about Adrienne, other than remembering her from several films and TV shows. And, of course, her tragic death late last year caused her to be in the news. She must have been a very generous director and actor. All of the acting was terrific. None of the scenes or dialogue seemed forced, even when the situation and dialogue, were you to read it, would ordinarily make you roll your eyes.

Adrienne must have had a touch with her fellow actors and created a good atmosphere on the set. I don't expect there to be any Oscar buzz for this film or for any of the performances. But I enjoyed this as much as any film I have seen this year and I predict I will feel the same late this fall.

GRADE: A-
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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 26, 2007 7:45 am

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END
Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Chow Yun-Fat, Bill Nighy, Stellan Skasgard, Jonathan Pryce, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally, Naomie Harris, Lee Arensen, Mackenzie Crook, Keith Richards.
Dir: Gore Verbinski

There were fun parts, particularly in the last hour but all in all, this film is largely unimpressive, overblown and, yes, quite boring. Not even Johnny Depp can save it. Full of disappointments all around. This one doesn't even qualify as decent entertainment since many, many opportunities were squandered (particularly wasting Chow Yun-Fat), the topflight special effects, costumes and sets all amount to largely a whole lot of nothing. Even Keith Richards' much-hyped cameo was a disappointment.

Oscar Prospects: I think the costumes deserve a nod (long overdue nod for Penny Rose). Apart from that, nada.

Grade: C

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Postby Precious Doll » Sat May 26, 2007 2:11 am

dws1982 wrote:Regular Lovers

It should probably be pointed out that a lot of people are going to be bored to distraction by this

I can confirm that is the case for most people who see the film. Last year I attended a screening of Regular Lovers in a cinema that seats about 550 people. The screening was sold out.

Within one hour only about 50 or so people were left. Just like they do for Bela Tarr.

I liked the film but founds some passages of it rather ponderous which actually makes sense given the subject of the film.
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Postby dws1982 » Fri May 25, 2007 12:59 pm

Regular Lovers

It should probably be pointed out that a lot of people are going to be bored to distraction by this: It's basically a plotless film that shows the lives of a group of young adults in the aftermath of the May '68 Paris riots. The riots are over around thirty minutes into the film, and the rest of it shows the aftermath; the riots don't turn them into political activists--the riots are basically just a diversion from their usual routine of sex (although there isn't any nudity at all in the movie--a surprise given the subject and title), drugs, art, and talking politics. So it's basically a movie about people disconnected from the world, at a time in their lives where they don't have to make any commitments or plans. Eventually, of course, they have to make decisions, whether they want to continue in this aimless existence or actually go out and actually become a part of the world. There aren't many movies about that limbo between adolescence and adulthood that so many people go through in their early twenties, and this one really does a good job capturing that. It is a little bit long at almost three hours, but now that it's on DVD, it's well-worth a spot on your Netflix queue.

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Postby Damien » Sat May 19, 2007 10:46 pm

I agree with BJ on Away From Her -- a beautiful and quietly devastating film.

What I especially admire is high clear-eyed Sarah Polley is. This is potentially maudlin material, but the movie is very even-keeled, almost matter-of-fact in its treatment of the characters and the situations. Therefore despite the sense of sadness that permeates the picture, one is able to react to it intellectually, not just emotionally.

BJ is right -- one of the most memorable aspects of the film is Polley's non-judgmental attitude, and even minor, potentially-stereotypical characters are given depth and humanity.

Christie is superb. She conveys so much with such little facial gestures -- emotional pain, sadness, humor, frustration, anger, impatience. But Gordon Pinsent -- an actor with whom I was unfamiliar despite his long career -- in a necessarily more low-keyed performance, is every bit her equal. The confusion and hurt he is able to express under an outer core of great strength and quietude is superb acting.

And if any of you have had to spend time visiting a nursing home, you'll know that the manner in what Polley captures all the details of such places -- down to the personae of the various workers -- is uncanny.

With Away From Her and Alain Resnais's Private Fears In Public Places, 2007 has already seen two films of extraordinary kindmess and sagaciousness.
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Postby Sabin » Thu May 17, 2007 12:53 am

(I will warn ahead of time: the word 'subversion' will find its way throughout my post)

'28 Weeks Later' has successfully terrified the everloving shit out of me like few films I have ever seen. It is unrelentingly bleak and possibly the most politically subversive summer film in history. Although too frenetically edited by far, there are at least fifty frames I would isolate out of time for their individual brilliance. The film is less a satisfying narrative than an outright plunge into dread, fatalism, and allegory. The film condemns both emphasis on the state as well as the individual. This is nihilism that has its cake and eats it too and my god it deserves to.

The opening sequence is amazing in how it subverts our expectations and continues into a cycle of grief, responsibility, and blame until outright mayhem. Suffice it to say, this is one of the more unserendipidous family reunions on film, one that leads within an hour into an example of quarantine gone somewhat wrong. I don't entirely feel comfortable recommending this bleak movie to people for its lack of humanity on any level, and yet my biggest problems in the film are instances of connection that I could've done without. '28 Weeks Later' should not have gotten made, and I think it's pretty amazing.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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Postby Hustler » Mon May 14, 2007 2:10 pm

anonymous wrote:SPIDER-MAN 3
Cast: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rosemary Harris, J.K. Simmons, James Cromwell, Theresa Russell, Bill Nunn, Elizabeth Banks, Bruce Campbell, Cliff Robertson, Willem Dafoe.
Dir: Sam Raimi

Entertaining, well-crafted piece of commercial Hollywood filmmaking. The screenplay here has far flaws than the first two. Church is pretty much wasted as Sandman since the CGI did most of the work (and what fantastic work it is though) and his one actorly scene was pretty much stolen from him by Theresa Russell. Grace was great as Venom but he's not in it enough. I would like also to say that Rosemary Harris does not get enough credit for these films. Raimi writes her good material and she runs away with her small, quiet part and elevates all the scenes she's in.

Oscar Prospects: Sandman alone has pretty much nailed the Visual Effects Oscar for them. It can also get nommed for Sound and Sound Editing. Maybe Makeup too.

Grade: B-

Didn´t like it at all. At this point I was expecting to see a well constructed movie when I was havily disappointed by Raimi´s film. I found Maguire`s character boring and his conflictive approach to his girlfiend an excuse to conform the trilogy. Three villains are too much.Russell is absolutely wasted. Agree with Harris´magnificent performance.

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Postby The Original BJ » Sun May 13, 2007 10:50 pm

It's been out in LA for two weeks.

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Postby Penelope » Sun May 13, 2007 5:56 pm

It's playing here in Chicago.
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Postby flipp525 » Sun May 13, 2007 5:43 pm

Is Away From Her out yet?
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Postby Penelope » Sun May 13, 2007 5:05 pm

I agree with pretty much everything BJ says about Away From Her -- I particularly agree with his comment about Polley making sure that even the most minimal characters were sketched with depth and humanity.

That said, there was something distant in the film that prevented me from completely loving it; perhaps it was the fact that, being based on a short story, it seemed to be a bit too long.

Still, Christie is, as usual ravishing to behold, and devastating with her performance; I don't see how she can miss a nomination.
"...it is the weak who are cruel, and...gentleness is only to be expected from the strong." - Leo Reston



"Cruelty might be very human, and it might be cultural, but it's not acceptable." - Jodie Foster

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Postby The Original BJ » Sun May 13, 2007 2:01 am

I found Away From Her to be an overwhelmingly powerful moviegoing experience. I saw the film in a packed house, and can't remember the last time I saw an audience exit the theater so devastated. I hope I don't make the film sound like a tough sit, though, because it's certainly the most engrossing picture I've seen this year, but everyone should know going in that it's a film of tremendous sadness: my eyes were on the verge of tears nearly the entire running time.

This is a remarkably assured debut from director Sarah Polley, whose quietly heartbreaking style recalls that of her sometime director, Atom Egoyan. From the stately compositions of chilly landscapes to the almost ethereal close-ups of the actors, Polley's film is consistently beautiful even as her style remains visually subdued.

And her script is even better, filled with lovely details that chart Fiona's gradual succumbing to Alzheimer's, and Grant's helpless attempts to deal with it. A particularly sharp scene depicts Grant's first visit to the hospital facility. The attendants' cheeriness seems insensitive to Grant's pain, and yet Polley and the actresses never turn these women into caricatures. They are committed to performing their jobs meticulously and with enthusiasm, as they should be. That their attitude nearly devastates Grant is a cruel side effect of an impossible situation. While the characters in this scene (and throughout the film) may hurt one another, Polley never judges any of them; her ability to sympathize with every side of her characters' situation results in a film of great complexity, one in which, to paraphrase a terrific speech by Olympia Dukakis, no one is good or bad, right or wrong, but all have been beaten by life. The ultimately hopeful message of the film is that we must pick ourselves up and trudge along regardless. Grant's final decision is one of selfless generosity, and, to paraphrase another heartbreaking line from a wonderfully etched cameo character, we should all be so lucky as to have someone love us so much. This is an incredibly humanistic film, one that celebrates goodness even amidst the unceasing despair of our world.

The actors are uniformly superb. Gordon Pinsent handles his own character's breakdown with tremendous restraint, the subtle shifts in his eyes and the sound of his gruff voice conveying a world of hurt. Olympia Dukakis is equally fine as the female counterpoint to Pinsent, a woman who longs for companionship as she watches her husband deteriorate.

And then there's Julie Christie, who gives one of the finest performances of her great career in this film. In her early scenes, she injects welcome and unexpected humor as her character copes with the early stages of her disease. And as she physically breaks down, she never resorts to the histrionics and emotional tics that so frequently plague actors playing diseased. Her final scene, as she conveys her character's actual loss of memory, as well as her retainment of the feelings for love she could never lose, is simply devastating. I've eaten my words with this statement before, but I think she's a slam-dunk for an Oscar nomination. I couldn't imagine a veteran actor in such an award-bait role ever missing. And, like The Queen last year, Away From Her is a small picture that could be headed for big glory based on its great appeal to older voters.

I think this is a lovely film and I hope that you all will have a chance to see it soon.


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