The Official Review Thread of 2009

anonymous1980
Laureate
Posts: 5035
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:01 am

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, David Thewlis, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, Bonnie Wright.
Dir: David Yates.

Although not QUITE as great as The Prisoner of Azkaban (still the best Harry Potter movie) this one came VERY close. It's probably the least faithful among the movies but very effective. It's nice to see the three leads grow immensely as actors and the first-rate supporting cast all have fun with their roles. Broadbent and Felton, in particular were outstanding. Cinematography (by Bruno Delbonnel) and art direction are also quite great.

Oscar Prospects: I'd say it's a contender for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects. I wouldn't be against a Best Supporting Actor nom for Broadbent.

Grade: A-

User avatar
Damien
Laureate
Posts: 6331
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:43 pm
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Postby Damien » Thu Jul 16, 2009 3:13 am

Bruno -- In its best sequences, the film is extraordinarily funny, ingenious and subversive, and there are moments of jaw-dropping audacity. But overall, it's pretty ramshackle and the pacing is off. Still, it's on the side of the angels, and I was never so happy to see Fred Phelps's lunatics as I was when they showed up here.

6/10.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

User avatar
Damien
Laureate
Posts: 6331
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:43 pm
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Postby Damien » Thu Jul 16, 2009 3:06 am

kaytodd wrote:The Times-Picayune has published its list of the best films and performances of the first half of 2009:

The Oscar Minor winners: TP film movie critic hands out mid-year wards
by Mike Scott, Movie writer, The Times-Picayune
Sunday July 05, 2009, 5:00 AM

God, let's hope the second half of 2009 is better than the first.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7136
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Postby Sabin » Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:32 am

The Girlfriend Experience (Soderbergh)

All of Steven Soderbergh's films are about transactions of one thing or another. He makes blockbusters of joyous artifice and experiments of joyless transactional confession. The ones that aren't (like Erin Brockovich) are essentially (O.C.) transactions of commercial merit for artistic freedom. His masterpieces from both these worlds are sex, lies, and videotape and Out of Sight (where two transactors find something real) and The Limey (where what is found can never be returned). The Girlfriend Experience is an evocation of his themes, gorgeously shot and edited, explicitly about a world of transaction in which nothing is real and everything is for sale. But it's more than simply saying that nothing is real and everything is for sale. It's that it's being offered. At a certain point, how can you say no when you can have everything personal now? Especially when the ability to offer is power?

There is an innate pull to that which is private, that which is confessional and intimate. Soderbegh does it very well but in The Girlfriend Experience it cannot sustain an entire movie or hide that what Soderbergh rejects in the editing process is failed morality, empowered fake sexy weakness. The world between real and fake offers leaves the world in ruins. It's not cool, it's scary. The Girlfriend Experience is cool in collapse, but what it collapses into is the hug it denies itself. Worth seeing as a film but more worth rejecting as an idea. Still thinking about it. Don't know if I like it. The movies I enjoy of Soderbergh's feature SOMETHING that survives the black hole of Soderbergh's confession booth.
"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

User avatar
Penelope
Site Admin
Posts: 5663
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:47 am
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

Postby Penelope » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:52 am

The Hangover (Todd Phillips) 7/10

Yes, the script is a bit clod-headed and misogynist, but Phillips brings a clear-eyed visual perspective to it and the three leads are engaging enough to let the audience have a good time.
"...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

User avatar
kaytodd
Assistant
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2003 10:16 pm
Location: New Orleans

Postby kaytodd » Sun Jul 05, 2009 10:43 am

The Times-Picayune has published its list of the best films and performances of the first half of 2009:

The Oscar Minor winners: TP film movie critic hands out mid-year wards
by Mike Scott, Movie writer, The Times-Picayune
Sunday July 05, 2009, 5:00 AM

In the hit-or-miss first half of 2009, Pixar's animated film 'Up' stands out as a clear winner.If there's one thing that's certain in the wake of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' decision last week to expand its field of Best Picture nominees for 2009 to 10 films, it's that movies released before September will have twice as many reasons to feel snubbed come Oscar time.

Because unless the expanded field also expands the memories of Oscar voters, few movies released before this fall can expect to hear their names called when nominations for 2009 are announced. That's just how the Academy Awards work.

And that's why, since 2004, The Times-Picayune has been honoring those sure-to-be-forgotten gems with its mid-year Oscar Minors.

The five main categories match those of the Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Actress). After that, however, we take a few liberties (Best Animated Film not From Pixar), just to keep things lively. The only requirements for a film to qualify is that it must be a 2009 release that gets a full theatrical run in New Orleans by June 30.

There are no trophies, no long-winded acceptance speeches, no regrettable wardrobe decisions -- just eternal glory.

That being said, let's get right to it ...

BEST PICTURE

The nominees: "Up," "Star Trek," "The Hangover," "Sin Nombre," "Away We Go"

Even with an expanded Best Picture field, by the time the real Oscars roll around, the only one of these that has a realistic chance at being nominated in this category is "Up." That doesn't mean the others aren't worthy of notice, though. "Star Trek" can expect nominations in the sound categories at least. "Sin Nombre" could get a nod in the foreign-language category. "Away We Go" could see a writing nod. And "The Hangover"? Well, is Best Naked Asian Crime Lord a category yet?

And the Oscar Minor winner is: "Up"

I wanted to type "Star Trek" here sooo bad. J.J. Abrams' ripping update of the old sci-fi series is just that much fun. But "Up" combined fun with artistry, as well as a wonderful sense of emotion. There's a reason why this is one of the best-reviewed movies of the year: because, so far, it's the best movie of the year.

BEST ACTOR


Liam Neeson deserves at least some praise for his enthusastic performance in the unapologetic popcorner 'Taken.'The nominees: Robert Downey Jr., "The Soloist"; Liam Neeson, "Taken"; Seth Rogen, "Observe and Report"; John Krasinski, "Away We Go"

Year after year, this is generally one of the more crowded races come Oscar time, but 2009 hasn't brought many knock-your-socks-off performances so far. Downey's solid in whatever he does, and his performance in "The Soloist" is no exception. Same with Neeson, even when he appears in an unapologetic popcorn flick such as "Taken." Then there's Krasinski doing what he does best -- that is, playing a lovable goofball -- in "Away We Go," and funnyman Rogen in a darker-than-usual role in the hard-to-define-with-a-single-adjective mall-cop comedy "Observe and Report."

And the Oscar Minor winner is: Rogen.

I know, a bit of a surprise. (I was kind of surprised myself when I typed it. Sorta was rooting for Downey.) But since storming onto the scene in 2007 with "Knocked Up," Rogen has been rock-solid, cementing his popularity among audiences and studio execs alike. Sure, he always seems to play a vulnerable idiot with a big heart, but that doesn't make his performances any less effective. Maybe one day the shtick will get old, but in the tonally bizarre "Observe and Report," he hits all the right notes -- and rescues the movie in the process.

BEST ACTRESS

The nominees: Sandra Bullock, "The Proposal"; Maya Rudolph, "Away We Go"; Tilda Swinton, "Julia"; Rachel Weisz, "The Brothers Bloom"

Funny. Normally, this is one of the weaker categories, the result of the continued scarcity of great roles available for women in Hollywood. This year, however, there are some real gems. The weakest link here is Bullock's nomination, simply because "The Proposal" is such a cream puff of a film. She displays such impeccable comic timing in it, however, that she earned herself a spot. None of the others require such disclaimers, however.

And the Oscar Minor winner is: Rudolph.

The Sam Mendes romantic comedy "Away We Go" has taken a surprising amount of critical brickbats -- few of them justified, by the way -- but even those who aren't fond of the movie seem to be drawn to Rudolph's surprisingly authentic performance. The former "Saturday Night Live" player is, in a word, a revelation, showing an on-screen ease that simply can't be taught. She has said in interviews that she's still committed to doing full-on comedy, but if she doesn't mix in some dramatic roles like this one, she'll be cheating herself -- and audiences.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR


What's not to love about Ken Jeong's over-the-top supporting performance in the comedy 'The Hangover.'The nominees: Ken Jeong, "The Hangover"; Simon Pegg, "Star Trek"; John Travolta, "The Taking of Pelham 123"

The field in this category perfectly illustrates why the Oscar Minors were dreamed up in the first place. Because there's almost zero chance that any of the names on this list will be recognized come Oscar time. All will be forgotten when the fall movie season arrives and the studios trot out their "serious" movies. But each one is memorable -- former New Orleans resident Jeong for his unforgettable entrance, Pegg for his perfect Scotty and Travolta for his complex villain.

And the Oscar Minor winner is: Travolta.

Few people thought remaking "The Taking of Pelham 123" was a good idea. The original is just that well done. But Travolta's performance -- along with a nicely updated script and director Tony Scott's relentless momentum -- is a big reason why the new version works. His celebrity status seems constantly to vacillate between respect and punch line. Here, however, he shows why nobody's giving up on him. His subway hijacker is menacing but sympathetic, brash but believable, larger-than-life but not over-the-top.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The nominees: Amy Adams, "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian"; Rinko Kikuchi, "The Brothers Bloom"; Kristen Scott Thomas, "Easy Virtue"

If the cutoff date for qualifying had been just one or two weeks later, then Kathy Bates and Patricia Clarkson would have earned spots here, for "Cheri" and "Whatever Works," respectively. They probably wouldn't have changed the outcome, though.

And the Oscar Minor winner is: Kikuchi

Her role is a mostly silent one -- she has only two lines, one of them unprintable here -- but the former Oscar nominee (for 2006's "Babel") makes the most of her time on screen as Bang Bang, an explosives expert in Rian Johnson's con-man caper. She steals scenes at a criminal pace, but she does it so delightfully that there's not a jury in the world that would convict her.

BEST MOVIE BASED ON A COMIC BOOK, GRAPHIC NOVEL OR TOY


'Watchmen' earns a nod in the category of Best Movie Based on a Comic Book, Graphic Novel or Toy.The nominees: "Watchmen," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"

Holy misfires, Batman. Not a real standout in the bunch. In fact, there have been so few superlative comic book movies so far this summer, I added "or Toy" to the category just so I could have three nominees. All three came to theaters with great promise and even greater hype, but none quite lived up to its promise. For sheer entertainment value, I'm tempted to cast my vote for "Wolverine," but instead ...

And the Oscar Minor winner is: "Watchmen."

Zach Snyder's ambitious and very grown-up adaptation of the revered graphic novel was a vast disappointment from a storytelling standpoint, unable to keep audiences interested even with its huge budget. The visual effects, however, were nothing short of stunning. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it get awards-season attention in several technical categories. (Given Dr. Manhattan's constant state of undress, it might even crop up at the Adult Movie Awards, too.)

BEST ANIMATED MOVIE NOT FROM PIXAR

The nominees: "Coraline" and "Monsters vs. Aliens"

Sorry, "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" -- you're just a day too late to be included. Even if Scrat and the gang had been invited to the party, however, this still would have been another category with surprisingly few entries. That'll be remedied later this year, as a handful of promising animated films hits theaters -- "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," "The Princess and the Frog," "9" -- but, for now, there's really only one movie that comes close to matching the artistry of Pixar's "Up" ...

And the Oscar Minor winner is: "Coraline"

If there's a category that's resistant to the forget-the-Oscars-if-you're-released-before-September rule, it's this one. That's why it wouldn't at all be a surprise to see "Coraline" grab a nomination come Oscar time. Henry Selick's creepy-cool adaptation of Neil Gaiman's book is a visual and storytelling delight, using stop-motion animation to bring Gaiman's weird world alive.
The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. Oliver Wendell Holmes

User avatar
Penelope
Site Admin
Posts: 5663
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:47 am
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

Postby Penelope » Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:57 pm

Moon (Duncan Jones) 7/10

Thought-provoking, leisurely paced sci-fi one man show where Sam Rockwell discovers that mining the dark side of the moon is a mindfuck. The twists-and-turns are sometimes obvious, and a few questions aren't ever fully resolved (which can be ok in some films, but isn't here), but Rockwell's committed performance and Jones' steady approach make it quite effective to a point.




Edited By Penelope on 1246751860
"...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

Reza
Tenured Laureate
Posts: 7542
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:14 am
Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Postby Reza » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:31 am

The Original BJ wrote:I will say that it's nice to see Michelle Pfeiffer back in a lead role again. It's not a great performance, but she's always a resourceful actress, and hopefully her turn here will inspire more filmmakers to give her a go at something meaty again.

What a pity Pfeiffer is not upto mark in this film.

She needs to get back in the Oscar race.

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4015
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:24 am

Emotionally unsatisfying is a good way to describe Chéri, Penelope. I've sometimes had that feeling towards Stephen Frears's films. He's the kind of director who seems intelligent enough to pick scripts wisely, and a lot of his films are quite enjoyable. But I'm not sure he really brings a ton to the table directorially, and so, when faced with subpar material, it can feel a little lifeless. That's how I felt about Chéri.

You're also right-on about Pfeiffer. I think she's a terrific actress, but here she doesn't seem quite right for the part -- much less carnal than the character required, I think. Which isn't to say the film is anything like a bore, and I think it's fine as far as this thing goes. (The fashions alone are pretty eye-catching.)

I also think there's a bit of a tonal problem with the film. Most of the picture is so feather-light, I thought it had a bit of trouble adjusting to some of the theatrics in the final scenes. I didn't really feel the weight or intensity of the Lea-Chéri romance, so that final narration REALLY caught me off guard.

I will say that it's nice to see Michelle Pfeiffer back in a lead role again. It's not a great performance, but she's always a resourceful actress, and hopefully her turn here will inspire more filmmakers to give her a go at something meaty again.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15324
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:18 pm

The Hurt Locker has received unanimous raves across the board. Even the two Bens made it their number one pick of films curently in release even if it is only in extremely limited release. It's only playing at four theatres, two each in New York and Los Angeles, but all four theatres have been playing to sold out audiences. This kind of reception almost guarantees a wider release for a film that has been pretty much staying under the radar even though it won four prizes at last year's Venice Film Festival.

Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie were both nominated for Independent Spirit Awards last year.

User avatar
Penelope
Site Admin
Posts: 5663
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:47 am
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

Postby Penelope » Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:54 pm

I've also heard fantastic praise for leading actor Jeremy Renner. The trailer is fantastic. Can't wait to see it.
"...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

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6189
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:50 pm

Maybe this isn't the spot for it, since I haven't seen the film yet, but I couldn't figure out where else to put it, and...it seems, on a site focusing on the Oscars, someone ought to mention that The Hurt Locker opened on Friday to VERY strong reviews -- at least here in NY -- and did big enough limited-release business this weekend to be a bona fide best picture possibility, whether in the five or ten film format.

User avatar
Penelope
Site Admin
Posts: 5663
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:47 am
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

Postby Penelope » Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:29 pm

Pfeiffer is good, but a bit too reserved--the way she played the role, I honestly had a hard time believing that she could've been a courtesan at all--essentially, it's not a very seductive performance, which is what the role requires (as you point out, with your mention of Kathleen Turner--I daresay even Demi Moore or Sharon Stone might've been a better choice!). This isn't to say that Pfeiffer can't be seductive--see The Fabulous Baker Boys--but here she doesn't seem to be doing that. She does, however, hit the emotional points--Lea's love for Chéri is quite palpable in her eyes, and her final scene (reminiscent of Queen Christina) is magnificent.
"...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

User avatar
kaytodd
Assistant
Posts: 846
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2003 10:16 pm
Location: New Orleans

Postby kaytodd » Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:11 pm

Thanks Penelope. Cheri has not opened in my town yet. I am glad to read favorable reviews because I enjoyed the book so much. But I did not think of Michelle Pfieffer at all as Lea. Lea in the book struck me as a strong formidable woman, more like Kathleen Turner. Do you think Michelle was a good choice? What did you think of her performance?
The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living. Oliver Wendell Holmes

User avatar
Penelope
Site Admin
Posts: 5663
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2004 11:47 am
Location: Tampa, FL, USA

Postby Penelope » Sun Jun 28, 2009 6:37 pm

Chéri (Stephen Frears) 7/10

A gorgeously mounted adaptation of Colette's novel about a Belle Epoque courtesan (Michelle Pfeiffer) who has a passionate affair with a frenemy's young son (Rupert Friend). Exquisite production values (the sets and costumes are genuinely dazzling), a marvelous score by Alexandre Desplat, and a Christopher Hampton script littered with deliciously funny bon mots make it entertaining, but Frears' somewhat reserved style and a lack of chemistry between the two leads make it emotionally unsatisfying.




Edited By Penelope on 1246232332
"...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


Return to “2009”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest