The Official Review Thread of 2009

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kaytodd
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Postby kaytodd » Sun Jun 28, 2009 12:47 am

Away We Go (dir. Sam Mendes) 7/10

A lot of people on this board are going to hate this film. It is highly contrived. A long time couple (Maya Rudolph and John Kransiski) find out they are going to have a baby and find themselves in a situation in which they are free to settle down anywhere they wish. They visit family and friends in various cities to see if they want their children to be raised there. Maya and John's characters are far from settled down but each couple and family they visit are dysfunctional in a different way, often in comic but over the top ways. These lead to several moments during which I laughed out loud. But my favorite thing about this film are the performances of Maya and John and their chemistry together. Absolutely delightful. The other characters are caricatures meant to serve as bad examples to Maya and John (a notable exception are the scenes between Maya and Carmen Ejogo, who played her sister. Their scenes together are lovely), but Maya and John seem very real and in love and every conversation they had, even the comic ones and those in which they were irritated with each other, moved me. I may be raising this one a letter grade because I want to compliment Sam Mendes for making a film I would never expect from him. This film feels lived in by its characters, not staged. Even the Mendes films I did not care for (actually, that would be all of them) had some beautiful memorable images. Nothing like this in Away We Go. It is a small film whose central characters are very real people. I can understand someone not sharing my enthusiasm and, except for the screenplay, I do not expect this one to be a player at Oscar time. But I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it.




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Postby Okri » Sat Jun 27, 2009 5:41 pm

The Brothers Bloom

Awesome.

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Postby Penelope » Mon Jun 22, 2009 12:52 am

The Brothers Bloom (Rian Johnson) 6/10

Intermittently entertaining con man caper flick. Obnoxious music a major deficit.
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Postby Damien » Sat Jun 20, 2009 3:18 am

I've only seen 2 2009 releases, The Somg of Sparrows (go Iranian intellectuals!!) and Summer Hours. The latter will be hard to beat as the best picture of the year. It's pitch perfect in every way and Assayas's best film since Late August, Early September.



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Postby Penelope » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:23 pm

Summer Hours is my favorite film of the year so far. I would LOVE to see it nominated for Picture, Director, Actor (Charles Berling), Supporting Actress (Edith Scob), Original Screenplay, Cinematography and Art Direction...but suspect it will barely manage a screenplay nod.
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"Cruelty might be very human, and it might be cultural, but it's not acceptable." - Jodie Foster

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Postby Okri » Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:46 pm

I didn't know Penelope had already seen Summer Hours. After it was over my first thought was that he would love this film. In particular, I loved the dual ending (with the father and then the kids).

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Postby Mister Tee » Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:07 pm

Are posts disappearing? I know there was some discussion of The Hangover, but I've gone back a month both here and in Last Seen Movie, and I can't find a thing.

My wife and I have a phrase for a meal one of us has cooked that's perfectly edible but not worth ever having again. We say, "It's not horrible". The Hangover is not horrible. It's not all that funny, either (I don't think it comes close to Wedding Crashers or Knocked Up for out-loud laughs, even on this lowest level). But -- and this is an odd thing to say about a movie of its ilk -- it's reasonably well-crafted. Small items (the man-purse, the door that locks) are planted reasonably subtly, so the story (except for the stupid Mike Tyson interlude) actually makes some narrative sense. I'd have to guess this plot is what's satisfying audiences enough to turn it into such an outsized hit beyond its awesome-dude demographic . (Though I can't believe women aren't put off by the misognyny -- the Melissa character is an insult to humans everywhere, and her comeuppance feels so ugly even the likable Ed Helms can't totally redeem it)

On a completely different note...I'll agree with Penelope's praise of Summer Hours. It's a delicate movie that, in the end, transcends even its characters to make broad observations on the inevitable but sad fact of time and generations moving on. The scene of the son looking at his mother's furniture in a museum is heart-breaking -- even though the arguments the other siblings made to place them there were not only convincing, they were utterly rational. This is a true art-house effort, almost on the level of Rohmer's 70s films, and well worth seeing.

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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:59 pm

Had I seen Departures before the Oscars, I would have almost certainly predicted it to win Best Foreign Language Film. It's about a musician forced to give up his dream of playing the cello (struggling artist!!!) who takes a job preparing dead bodies for their "departures" into the next life (death as important theme!!!!) It's very traditional storytelling that goes nowhere you wouldn't expect (quick, show of hands -- who thinks at least one older character will die in this movie?)

It's got moments of power and others of humor. And it's quite engaging, watchable. But some of the sentiment is laid on pretty thick -- I had had just about enough of that cello score by the mid-point, and if one more stone had popped up in the storyline (SYMBOLISM!!!) I'd have freaked. Apparently others disagree -- by the end, there wasn't a dry eye around me. While I wasn't misty-eyed, I also understood why many would be moved. It's a nice movie.

Still, it's yet another disappointing Oscar winner in my least favorite category this decade. The Class and Waltz With Bashir weren't without limitations, but both had a wow-this-is-fresh uniqueness that Departures can't even begin to approach.

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Postby Sabin » Sun Jun 07, 2009 3:45 pm

Thank you.
"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 MovieWes » Sun Jun 07, 2009 3:14 pm

Sabin wrote:Jim from The Office (not looking up his name) has a sitcom charm that transitions fairly well (though with egregious seams) but Maya Rudolph is effortlessly lovely.

You mean John Krasinski?




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Postby Sabin » Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:48 am

This is the kind of movie I've been wanting to see Sam Mendes make for ages. Just better.

This epitomizes the shaggy dog follow-up, deliverance from the post-production hell of menopausal Eisenhower angst. A pregnant couple go on a massive roundtrip meeting their crazy relatives/friends/associates along the way on their journey to find that elusive H-O-M-E. Every meeting is interchangeably wacky and sitcom-ish and those that threaten to become something more are immediately truncated. Jim from The Office (not looking up his name) has a sitcom charm that transitions fairly well (though with egregious seams) but Maya Rudolph is effortlessly lovely. Can I please see more of her in the future?

I wanted to like this film as it but there's nothing to gain from this film that watching the trailer looping for an hour and a half while playing the soundtrack won't provide. Pleasant enough. My sister and parents flat-out adored it. It's lonely being the only one who's seen The Brothers Bloom.
"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 anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 06, 2009 8:56 am

DRAG ME TO HELL
Cast: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adrianna Barraza, Chelcie Ross, Molly Cheek, Reggie Lee, Bojana Novakovic.
Dir: Sam Raimi

Director Sam Raimi returns to his Evil Dead roots with a bang with this mostly successful scary-funny horror movie about a loans officer who is about the pay the price for the wrong she did to a creepy gypsy woman. Lots of genuine scares, slapstick and gross-out effects is anchored by an above average script. It is pure old-fashioned crazy ghoulish fun.

Oscar Prospects: Maybe Makeup, Sound and Sound Editing.

Grade: B+

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Postby Penelope » Sat May 30, 2009 8:27 pm

The Soloist (Joe Wright) 5/10

Maudlin, ponderous tale of a homeless musician and the LA Times columnist who discovers him. Trite script, hammy acting (especially by Foxx), but the music is gorgeous and while Wright's visual flourishes might be too much for others, they at least made the film more interesting than it had any right to be.
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"Cruelty might be very human, and it might be cultural, but it's not acceptable." - Jodie Foster

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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 30, 2009 7:36 am

TERMINATOR SALVATION
Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Moon Bloodgood, Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, Jane Alexander, Helena Bonham-Carter, Michael Ironside.
Dir: McG

It is an improvement over Rise of the Machines but alas, the film though quite entertaining never quite takes off due to a script that is in desperate need of rewrite. Director McG displays a talent for staging action scenes and admittedly, there are some pretty darn cool ones here and the actors try their best.

Oscar Prospects: Sound, Sound Editing and Visual Effects.

Grade: C+

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Postby Penelope » Mon May 25, 2009 2:21 am

Summer Hours (2008; Olivier Assayas) 9/10

[Listed here due to current U.S. release.]

Delicate, subtle, moving, unpredictable examination of death and memory, beautifully directed, gorgeously photographed, with a superlative cast (Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, Jérémie Renier, Edith Scob); at least, I hope the script will be remembered come Awards season.
"...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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