The Official Review Thread of 2007

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Postby Sonic Youth » Sun May 13, 2007 1:40 am

Hot Fuzz

Lord help me, but sometimes I'll lose my aesthetical composure and put out for a stupid comedy. Scratch me the right way and I'm a slut, a cheap date, an easy laugh. And Hot Fuzz left me in hysterics. I feel so used.

But it's NOT a stupid comedy. It's a collection of stupid jokes wrapped in a maliciously smart package. It's smart precisely BECAUSE of aesthetics. Hot Fuzz is a shrewd satire of the Michael Bay/Tony Scott/Jerry Bruckheimer school of aesthetics, the strobe editing, the music blasts, the leave-no-camera-angle-unused, the perpetual five-second long flashbacks... all in the service of a tale about a small police force overseeing a modest, bucolic town in England. The techniques are used indescriminately in order to keep the adrenal glands occupied during the stretches when there's nothing going down... just like with Scott and Bay, right? The ridiculously disjointed care chases are technically identical to a sequence of someone peeing in the toilet, which took five cuts in two seconds.

So why is this smart stuff? Two reasons. First, it ain't The Naked Gun, in which the template being parodied is a dead genre. In Naked Gun's case, it was the cheesy television cop show that was dead for at least ten years, and therefore an easy target. Hot Fuzz takes on a living, breathing monster. Secondly, it ain't Scary Movie, in which mere replication of recent movies passes as acceptable comedy. As director Edgar Wright proved in his submission to Grindhouse, the coming attraction for "Don't!" ("DON'T look in the basement! DON'T open the cupboards! DON'T, etc.!), he's practically a savant when it comes to precisely capturing a genre's tone and style without duplicating the actual movies in quesiton. And the fastidiousness extends itself to the screenplay, in which every gag and character, no matter how small, eventually serves a purpose in the final denouement. Maybe you'll think the jokes are unfunny, but they're not throw-aways.

And, just like with Scott/Bay/Bruckheimer, it's too long. Which was probably part of the plan. (How many seemingly dead villians come back to life for one more futile attack? I lost count.) But that doesn't make it any shorter.

One-liners of the year: "Decaffinated?" and "Yaar!"

Nice Kinks songs, too.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 12, 2007 12:32 pm

28 WEEKS LATER...
Cast: Robert Carlyle, Rose Byrne, Jeremy Renner, Catherine McCormack, Mackintosh Muggleton, Imogen Poots, Idris Elba, Harold Perrineau.
Dir: Juan Carlos Fresnodillo.

This is the best 2007 film I've seen this year so far. Although that's not really saying much since we have a really paltry lot so far. Zombie movies (well, this is not technically a zombie movie anyway) are always my favorite type of horror movie and this is one of the reasons why.

Oscar Prospects: None really.

Grade: B+

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Postby Mister Tee » Tue May 08, 2007 10:50 am

My filmgoing has been pretty lackadaisical of late, but we did get to The Hoax over the weekend. Has anyone else seen it? I found it a perfectly enjoyable, if minor, effort. It's certainly way better paced than the typical recent Hallstrom film (I wished our old pal Editman were around so I could offer him praise for his snazzy editing). The story tries for a bit too much meaning in the final third, which slows things down some, but for the most part things stay buoyant, thanks to a fun plot and good performances. Gere seems to be enjoying himself a lot, and Alfred Molina is a hoot as a guy with a variation on Tourette's syndrome (he can't resist blurting out something incriminating on almost every occasion). It's hard to believe these two clowns got as far as they did with their scheme, but I suppose it just proves Barnum and Mencken had the American public right.

Anyway, recommended, though it could just as well wait for home viewing.

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Postby Precious Doll » Sat May 05, 2007 6:12 pm

Sabin,

I have become a big fan of Korean cinema over the past few years.

The impression I have been left with is that whole country is dysfunctional. Regardless of the genre the Koreans have the ability to throw just about anything into the mix and make it work.

Theirs is the most exciting film industry in the world at the moment.

I also belive that Universal will be doing an American remake of The Host.
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Postby Sabin » Sat May 05, 2007 3:23 pm

I understand your point but I think in showing the monster right off the bat, Bong sets the movie up for a more procedural look at a society in the midst of "monster crisis". Themeatically, I think it makes sense for the film that we see this scene within twenty minutes of the film's start and then the rest of the film we circle around societal disarray, political red tape, a family's thirst for vengeance, and a little girl's need for survival. If none of them are perfectly constructed, I think the audacity of Bong's undertaking more than makes up for his occasional missteps. And because 'The Host' feels like such a fresh entry into such a well-worn genre, that his flaws are as few as they are is rather noteworthy.

His characterizations are inherently thin, but the grace of his mise-en-scene is certainly not. I do however think that 'The Host' is a far greater example of familial dysfunction than 'Little Miss Sunshine'. And I never got tired of seeing the monster in the least.
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Postby Damien » Fri May 04, 2007 4:46 pm

I didn't much like The Host. I don't think Bong ever figured out what kind of movie he was making. The film is at different times farcial comedy, standard monster movie, social satire, serious social criticism, with none of the disparate elements coming together. Similarly, there is a lack of cohesiveness in the characterizations.

Bong also violates an important rule of the monster sub-genre -- he shows his creature way too soon in the picture, and this tipping his hat too soon prevents the film from building momentum.

The scene in which the family is writhing on the floor in grief is wonderful, but little else in the film even approaches it.

A one-word summation of The Host: Incoherent.
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Postby Sabin » Wed May 02, 2007 1:49 pm

'The Host' is fantastic. There is a humanism to it that shames more earnest films. It's extremely funny and the grace in which The Creature bounds around is pretty exceptional. I loved this film. I shall rent 'Memories of a Murder' as soon as humanly possible.
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Postby OscarGuy » Tue May 01, 2007 2:17 pm

I think the fact that they are covering three villains in one may be its downfall. It's going to suffer some from the Batman mentality of too much to pay attention to. Sure you have one of those villains sufficiently explained through backstory from the first two films, but these two new characters will need a lot of character development and if the previews are any indication, I think Sandman is going to get the roughest treatment.

We'll see how they handle it (after all, the X-Men series didn't get really going until they'd already had one film to establish all the characters and no offense, but Sam Raimi is no Bryan Singer for purposes of adequate exposition.
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Postby The Original BJ » Tue May 01, 2007 1:40 pm

Sabin wrote:...sigh...I love 'Spider-Man' movies. The 73% RT mention is worrisome.

As is two stars from Ed Gonzalez, who liked the first two films if I remember correctly.

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Postby Sabin » Tue May 01, 2007 12:51 pm

...sigh...I love 'Spider-Man' movies. The 73% RT mention is worrisome.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Tue May 01, 2007 5:07 am

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-

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Postby Mister Tee » Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:24 pm

Not a review, but a comment on reviews. This past Friday, Fracture received generally approving notices -- nothing over-the-top, but lots of respectful 3-star reviews. This struck me as odd, not because I have anything against the picture (in fact, I haven't seen it), but because I've seen lots of similar mediocre thrillers open in the past half-decade, and the general critical tendency has been to dismiss them out of hand with 2, 2 1/2 star reviews. Is this one so notably much better? Or -- my suspicion -- is Ryan Gosling in his golden period with critics, and are they granting his film a benefit of doubt they deny to films with less chic stars?

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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Apr 07, 2007 7:40 am

SUNSHINE
Cast: Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Cillian Murphy, Hiroyuki Sanada, Mark Strong, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh.
Dir: Danny Boyle

This could have been a ridiculous, mindless sci-fi thriller but it's actually pretty darn good. The horror movie-type third act may divide people but I thought it worked in that context. Strong performances from the cast and the amazing visuals (very much akin to Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey) uplift the flaws in the script. It's a good ride.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects and Art Direction are both possible. As is Sound and Sound Editing.

Grade: B+

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Postby MovieWes » Fri Mar 02, 2007 11:25 am

Breach (d. Billy Ray) ***

Billy Ray is a promising director, having shown lots of talent with his first film, Shattered Glass. Both that film and this film share similar themes: unethical behavior in the workplace, but ultimately his first film was far more intriguing than his second. This is unfortunate, since the story of Robert Hanssen, the CIA mole who was brought down in 2001 by his protege, is actually far more compelling than the story of the New Republic reporter Stephen Glass and, therefore, should've been far more cinematic. What we get instead is a by-the-numbers political thriller which is, at times, very entertaining but, more often than not, very ordinary. The major difference is the execution. In Shattered Glass, Ray offered us a portrait of a brash young journalist just trying to keep his head above water. Breach never digs deep enough into the Hanssen character to let us see the motivation behind his actions. Instead, by putting most of the focus on Ryan Phillippe's character, we only catch glimpses of what could've been a very compelling character study.

The cast is okay, although Ryan Phillippe is badly miscast as the young agent assigned to bring down his boss (one has to wonder how the movie would've fared under a more accomplished young actor like, say, Peter Sarsgaard). Most of the credit, however, should be given to Chris Cooper, whose performance as Robert Hanssen transcended the material and made the film feel a lot more interesting than it actually was. Laura Linney, in my book one of the most overrated actresses in Hollywood, coasted through the movie and brought nothing except the same damn performance that she gives in every movie she's been in.

In all, the movie is good, but it's nothing special.
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Postby Eric » Wed Feb 21, 2007 4:35 pm

I would prefer to watch even the worst blaxploitation, '70s porn or '80s horror film over almost any superhero film, even the best. The only superhero movie I think I've ever liked is Unbreakable, an anti-superhero movie if there ever was one.


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