The Official Review Thread of 2008

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Postby ITALIANO » Mon Jul 07, 2008 7:15 am

--Sabin wrote:I liked it.

No, you didn't - not too much anyway. But I mean - all these movies (which I admit I have been very careful to avoid, but that I've been told dreadful things about) don't make you doubt, even just for a short intense moment, that maybe even Eternal Sunshine really wasn't such an important "masterpiece"? I ask this to you, but I could ask to many others, even in Europe.




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Postby Sabin » Sun Jul 06, 2008 1:51 pm

Some charm to be found in 'In Bruges' and its condemnation of stray bullets. I like seeing the consequences of random gunfire. It has the charm of a rambling, enjoyable yarn that ties itself up a bit neatly. Colin Farrell's best in years. Brendan Gleeson is dependably rock solid. Ralph Fiennes, absurd. Somewhat worthwhile.
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

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Postby Sabin » Tue Jul 01, 2008 2:16 pm

Finally caught up with 'Be Kind Rewind' after early dismissive reviews scared me off and after the twee 'The Science of Sleep' I found all my goodwill for 'Eternal Sunshine...' dried up. When in one year we saw the raw content of Gondry's brain ('The Science of Sleep') v. his collaborative skill ('Dave Chappelle's Block Party'), it seemed apparent that Little Michel is an ADD little monkey who needs rules in life that only a seasoned cynical sensibility could tame. It turns out that Michel Gondry's career can be divided into those of the community of the brain and the community of community. His masterpiece, 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', is a glorious work of isolationist figures; and yet on the basis of his subsequent features, thankfully, Gondry seems to be gravitating towards people. There is a humane community spirit in 'Dave Chappelle's Block Party' and that same spirit is on display, admittedly diminished, in 'Be Kind Rewind' that makes it a worthy trifle.

There is something very touching about Gondry's knowing sense of revisionist history, about owning our histories and rewriting them as we see fit if they're to be rewritten at all. What is our history but VHS movies? These "Sweded" tapes are very amusing, more so than I would've imagined, and mainly because Jack Black and Mos Def are so perfectly matched with each other. I don't know where exactly it happened, but Mos Def has become one of the subtlest, genuine presences on film. His friendship with Jack Black, in one of his finest manic performances, is the stuff of believable knuckleheadery. In the end, 'Be Kind Rewind' becomes a community affair of embracing our legends even/especially as they threaten to be taken away from us. All of this is surface-deep but still welcome and enjoyable. I liked it.
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

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Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:11 am

WANTED
Cast: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Terence Stamp, Common, Thomas Kretschmann.
Dir: Timur Bekmambetov.

A better first act could've easily, EASILY have improved this very stylish action film based on the comic books. McAvoy makes for an appealing lead and he is supported ably by Jolie and Freeman who pretty much do what was expected of them and did them well.

Oscar Prospects: Sound, Sound Editing.

Grade: B-

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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:25 am

SERBIS (AT YOUR SERVICE)
Cast: Gina Pareno, Jaclyn Jose, Julio Diaz, Kristoffer King, Coco Martin, Bobby Jerome Go, Roxanne Jordan, Mercedes Cabral, Dan Alvaro.
Dir: Brillante Mendoza

Brillante Mendoza is already one of the Philippine cinema's current major filmmakers. His latest one, the first Filipino film to be accepted in Cannes in a long, long time (both Lino Brocka films during his heyday) is hopefully his first step in international recognition. Although I didn't find it quite as successful as his previous work, Foster Child, I thought this is still a rather exceptional piece of work that focuses on one day in the lives of a family who lives and runs a two-bit softcore porno theater which also serves as a meeting place for gay prostitutes. Stellar performances by the lead actors who are pretty much respected veterans of Philippine cinema: Jaclyn Jose, Gina Pareno and Julio Diaz.

Grade: A-

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Postby Sabin » Sat Jun 21, 2008 9:56 pm

'The Incredible Hulk' is pretty cool until the end when it becomes - in the grand tradition of 'Iron Man' and 'Transformers' - an overlong Godzilla movie that's admittedly, in this case, still just barely cool enough to maintain one's attention. Ang Lee's 'Hulk' is an ambitious folly that I have a lot of affection for even if it doesn't entirely work, but this is the movie they probably should have made in the first place. If anything, I found myself even more moved by the character dynamics within its cloistered genre trappings than in Lee's chamber drama. The film starts with a bang as Banner is in hiding and on the run and would have been perfectly satisfied to watch Norton's cat and mouse with the elusive Mr. Blue.

Worth seeing but a quick word: the park fight between the Hulk and what appears to be the entire U.S. army is unbelievable, an absolute triumph of blockbustery. There wasn't a second of it that I didn't love.
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

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Postby Penelope » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:55 pm

As with Tee's experience with Savage Grace, I, too, experienced what may be the wave of the future for cinema: tonight I watched Shelter on DVD, which had been released to both theaters and the satellite network Here! only a month ago.

Shelter tells the story of Zach (Trevor Wright), a young man from the other side of the tracks in southern California, only a year or two out of high school, living with his thankless father and slutty sister, essentially serving as a father figure for his sister's son. Zach's best friend Gabe is away and he soon finds himself spending time with Gabe's older brother Shaun (Brad Rowe)--and, of course, a romance develops between the two men.

It's the usual coming out storyline and doesn't break any real ground, though it benefits from strong characters and a particularly fine performance by Wright, who makes Zach's journey a deeply felt experience. Considering it's better than most of the gay indie films out there these days, it's worth a rental.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 14, 2008 6:02 am

THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Cast: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, Christina Cabot.
Dir: Louis Letterier

To me, this film has pretty much the inverse problems of the Ang Lee version of the comic book. The first Hulk film had a great, intriguing first 2/3rds, only to fall apart in the end. This one had a mediocre, flat, uninteresting and occasionally boring first 2/3rds and it's only on the last third that it got interesting. I declare a tie.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects, Sound, Sound Editing.

Grade: B-

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Postby Precious Doll » Fri Jun 13, 2008 5:50 pm

My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin) *****

I've long admired Guy Maddin films, in particular The Saddest Music in the World, Careful and Brand Upon the Brain, but was not prepared for the perfection that is My Winnipeg.

Maddin himself described the film as a 'docu-fantasia' and he mixes archival footage with re-enactments of his family life.

These sequences feature Ann Savage of all people who meet a very memorable end in Edgar G Ulmer's 1946 classic Detour, as Maddin's mother.

Ms Savage looks great (she was born in 1921) and her work her is a tour de force on par with her work in Detour.

I cannot recommend this film highly enough. I think anyone familiar with Maddin's work will love it.




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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:24 pm

I stepped into the future over the weekend when I saw Savage Grace.

Not because of the film itself, which is negligible bordering on vile. It combines a Dominick Dunne prurience ("the rich are so grody, let's wallow and watch them") with a Euro-trash, "we have every kind of sex and we're totally blase about it till we do something horribly violent" sensibility.

What made it notable was, I watched it at home. Though the film only opened in theatres last weekend, it's being offered by my TimeWarner Cable system for $5.99 -- only a dollar more than the standard pay-per-view charge for movies long out of theatres.

I'm a long-time proponent of Watching at home isn't the same intense experience, and certainly for any movie I care about I'd rather be in the more overwhelming movie house experience. But when it's a borderline movie I MIGHT see (in this case, because of my Julianne Moore admiration), the half-price offer plus the convenience is just too much to pass up.

I wonder how many movies will start doing this. I heard Joe Roth a few years back say we were only a few years from all movies being released in theatres and DVD the same day. As I said, the future.

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Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Jun 09, 2008 5:23 am

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN
Cast: Georgie Hendley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Ben Barnes, Peter Dinklage, Sergio Castellto, Warwick Davis, Tilda Swinton, Voices of Liam Neeson, Eddie Izzard.
Dir: Andrew Adamson.

This fits squarely into the category of NOT BAD BUT NOT GREAT movies, just like the first one. The visual effects are fantastic and Eddie Izzard is a hoot as the swashbuckler mouse. But the film is otherwise take-it-or-leave-it.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects, Makeup, Art Direction, maybe Original Song.

Grade: B-

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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jun 07, 2008 8:04 am

KUNG FU PANDA
Cast: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Seth Rogen, Randall Duk Kim, James Hong, Dan Fogler, Michael Clarke Duncan (voices).
Dirs: Mark Osborne and John Stevenson.

Surprisingly not bad Dreamworks animated feature. I'm not a fan of putting big name stars in voice actors just to get a marquee name on the poster, but this one is pretty darn good for what it is. No stupid pop culture references (apart from it being a loving parody of kung fu movies) or too many gross fart and belch jokes. Still a far-cry from PIXAR though.

Oscar Prospects: Best Animated Feature.

Grade: B

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Postby Sabin » Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:13 pm

I gotta say, this year isn't turning out so bad. I haven't seen a masterpiece yet but I kind of loved 'Paranoid Park', 'Reprise', 'The Band's Visit', and 'Shotgun Stories', and 'Iron Man' has to rank among the five best summer movies of the decade and that might be an understatement. For the first time in ages, I'm genuinely anticipatory for summer movies to come: 'Hellboy 2', 'The Dark Knight', 'Wall-E', and 'Pineapple Express'.
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

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Postby barrybrooks8 » Fri Jun 06, 2008 1:29 am

I saw two movies today:


"The Fall"

It was said earlier on here, a beautiful film. And it was at times. Sometimes the scenery and the location were very attractive, other times they seemed washed out. I also felt like there were times I was watching Madonna's video for the song Bedtime Story. The little girl was utterly irritating. I did not find her cute or talented or even bearable, unlike the audience I shared the theater with. Costumes may have been the best thing about it. Most of the performances were awful, and all the hammy jokes sandwiched in the drama got very tiresome. I don't understand Ebert's four-star review.

Grade: C-



The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian


I didn't set out to make it a fantasy double-feature, it just happened. This one was not as much of a win for me like the first Narnia. Same old same old when it came to the fantasy aspects, but more of the nice and tidy endings here and there. The art direction was one of the my favorite aspects of the first one, and here it lacked any inspiration. If there is a third one, I hope they realize what made the first one fun, and stay away from what made this one stuffy.


Grade: C+
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Postby Sabin » Wed Jun 04, 2008 1:36 am

I indulgently dug every minute of 'Reprise'.
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!


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