The Official Review Thread of 2010

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6023
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2010

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:26 am

A few thoughts on some late catch-ups:

Barney's Version needed some kind of framing device to make its story cohere. It seems the creators want the "was it murder/manslaughter/accident?" event to serve in that capacity, but 1) the event itself, in flashback, is the least believable, worst-staged scene in the film; 2) the subject is then dismissed for a long period of time, and only prefunctorily/hazily returned to near the end; and 3) it doesn't do anything to actually make the events of Barney's life feel of a piece. What happens to Barney in the final reel also proceeds from nowhere; it's simply a random development, and does nothing to make the material form an organic whole.

All of this is a disappointment, because by and large I found the film more enjoyable than most others I saw last year. A picaresque it may be, but an often witty one, peopled with vivid characters/performances -- Pual Giammatti unsurprisingly, but also Rosamund Pike in a pleasingly full-bodied characterization. I recommend the film and only wish it had the structure to make it more fully memorable.

I'm not sure Nicole Holofcener's films will ever be completely my cup of tea -- I have a preference for plot that it doesn't appear she shares -- but Please Give certainly comes far closer to achieving her shimmery goals than my previous encounter with her (Lovely and Amazing) did. She's found a way to make her loosely connected stories feel like they mesh into something grand, and the film has a keen sense of observation throughout. Her casting is also quite strong -- it was fun spotting such familiar (to me) faces as Amy Wright and Sarah Vowell in smalll parts, and a flat delight to see Ann Guilbert (who I adored as Millie on The Dick van Dyke Show) in what must be her strongest role in 40 years.

Made in Dagenham is much worse than I'd anticipated -- shallow, insultingly simplistic, and cheaply manipulative. It suffers chiefly from an utter inability to see events/issues from the viewpoint of 1968 rather than today. There's no attempt to deal with the fact that, back then, the idea that men were breadwinners and women primarily housewives was close to universally held (probably even by some of the real-life female characters who populate the film); here, nearly every female character seems to have read and embraced all of Betty Friedan/Simone de Beauvoir/Susan Faludi. This leaves the film no alternative but to make anyone taking another side -- a side that, again, was not only widely held, but had some economic facts behind it (even if exaggerated) -- into a hissable villain (if not a corrupt one, like the union leader). If the film were taking place in 1988, it might make sense, but everyone here seems to have had their consciousness raised way beyond where they believably could have (like Rita's husband, who listens to one speech and realizes/acknowledges all his faults as a husband). I wasn't expecting alot here, but, wow -- what a piece of crap.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6023
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2010

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jun 18, 2011 5:03 pm

I know there was some discussion of Mother end of last year, but I can't find it in this thread, so it must be in the dread Last Seen Movie -- a haystack I don't intend to comb.

SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW -- FAIR WARNING

I was a bit shaky on the opening 45 minutes of the film -- the story seemed rambly, the son character was so maddening he felt like a device, and the tone struck me as inconsistent. But eventually it locked in, and went places I wasn't remotely expecting. In the end it had the narrative strength of a thriller, but also the thematic resonace of a non-genre piece.

One pure spoiler question: why was the junkman's picture on the cell-phone? Was there some indication the girl had seen/photographed him earlier? There didn't seem time for her to have done it during the key scene. Obviously it was a necessary plot device, but I don't see how it makes sense. Maybe i missed something.

I point this up because, in other ways, I think this film shows a level of craft that makes one marvel -- especially regarding the climactic flashback. I'd fully expected when the Mother spoke to the junkman, she'd find the thread stretched further than him. But I was expecting someone else to walk into the scene...until the moment the girl said "You retard". In that flash moment, I (and assume everyone) knew he'd killed her and why. But I also quickly realized the creators had set it up in plain sight. You could almost here them say, We showed you this TWICE (in the police office and the jailyard). We even had Do-Joon EXPLAIN it. How could you have missed it?

The answer, I think, is the second usage -- and Do-Joon's explanation -- was so quickly trumped by the "You tried to poison me" memory recapture that we didn't register it as important information. It seemed to have only been placed there to ignite a new, even more baroque plot element, and thus we didn't file it away as a potentially crucial plot device. This is truly solid sleight-of-hand, the kind of craft you don't see often enough in Hollywood films.

And the poisoning story has thematic richness, as well. It raises the question, is Do-Joon's condition congenital, or did his mother bring it on with the failed poisoning? And did she do some damage to her own brain at the same time, that contributes to her character and actions? All fascinating stuff.

Very interesting movie. I'm going to be tracking down his Memories of Murder now.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15149
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2010

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:44 am

The Company Men (John Wells) 8/10

This is the film Up in the Air was supposed to be, a realistic look at what happens when middle managers lose their jobs due to corporate downsizing.

The experiences Ben Affleck's character goes through in the film are what I know others in his situation have experienced, though it's difficult at times to sympathize with a guy who makes $120k plus bonuses per year and despite struggling to make ends meet after losing his job insists on keeping up his country club membrship for appearance sake. The interviews that go nowhere, the condescending professional motivators, these are things that others earning much less can relate to.

Affleck has never been better and Tommy Lee Jones is also excellent as his company's second in command, thrown under the bus by his boss, a snarky Craig T. Nelson. Chris Cooper is also quite good as a professional ass-kisser who earns our sympathy in the end.

Speaking of throwing under the bus, the Weinstein Company did exactly that with this film, barely releasing it while promoting The King's Speech.

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 6940
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2010

Postby Sabin » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:32 pm

(by dws1982 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 8:11 pm)

So did Damien never find us at the new location, or did something happen that made him leave? Because he's definitely been missed.

Maybe it's a good thing he's not here right now to see this post though: I loved Another Year. I'm not the full-on Mike Leigh hater that he is (I reserve those feeling for that OTHER left-wing British filmmaker--Ken Loach), but his working-class miserablism has never struck me as very interesting or insightful. Topsy-Turvy has its moments, but I haven't much care for his work before. He's critical of his characters here, but he doesn't look down on them, and that's key. Trying to come up with some extended thoughts on this one.

Yup. I love it too. One of his best. He's incredibly critical of these characters and he recognizes something profoundly sad when two lovely people enable a pathetic person who they view as a charity case while that person sees them as truly family. It's a vicious cycle of a movie that also demonstrates his best use of cinematography I've seen in a while.
"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

Reza
Laureate
Posts: 7409
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:14 am
Location: Islamabad, Pakistan

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2010

Postby Reza » Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:32 pm

Mister Tee wrote:The AOL address is Damien's current one, far as I know. I sent him an email a day or two ago asking the very questions dws proposed. He's yet to respond, but I know from the AOL Received feature that he's read it.



I inboxed him on Facebook. Let's see if he responds. Hope all's well with him.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6023
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2010

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:53 pm

The AOL address is Damien's current one, far as I know. I sent him an email a day or two ago asking the very questions dws proposed. He's yet to respond, but I know from the AOL Received feature that he's read it.

I'm still getting the knack of this new system. I'd posted a reply to dws, which also included a few comments on Another Year, which I just watched last night myself. But Magilla's post had been placed prior to my publishing, and I got that "Another post made since you started to write" message. When I went to look at it, somehow my post got lost. Grr.

I'm interested in hearing what you say about Another Year, dws. I had more difficulty with it than you -- I thought Leigh (with some help from his actress) made Manville's character so nakedly desperate I'd have expected the others to shrink from her in horror rather than simply rolling their eyes at her. On the whole, though, I liked the film more than any other Leigh save Vera Drake -- definitely way better than the irritating Happy Go Lucky.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15149
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2010

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:39 pm

dws1982 wrote:So did Damien never find us at the new location, or did something happen that made him leave? Because he's definitely been missed.


Dunno. The e-mail address I have for him is an AOL one. If anyone has a more up-to-date one they might try contacting him. Same goes for other missing members.

dws1982
Tenured
Posts: 2845
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 9:28 pm
Location: AL
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2010

Postby dws1982 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:11 pm

So did Damien never find us at the new location, or did something happen that made him leave? Because he's definitely been missed.

Maybe it's a good thing he's not here right now to see this post though: I loved Another Year. I'm not the full-on Mike Leigh hater that he is (I reserve those feeling for that OTHER left-wing British filmmaker--Ken Loach), but his working-class miserablism has never struck me as very interesting or insightful. Topsy-Turvy has its moments, but I haven't much care for his work before. He's critical of his characters here, but he doesn't look down on them, and that's key. Trying to come up with some extended thoughts on this one.

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4978
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat May 14, 2011 7:14 am

THE KING'S SPEECH
Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Jennifer Ehle, Timothy Spall, Anthony Andrews, Claire Bloom, Eve Best.
Dir: Tom Hooper.

FINALLY! The Best Picture winner arrives into our local theaters. This film follows the inspiring historical biopic formula: A famous historical person during World War II era has a disability he has to overcome to do something important/inspiring in the backdrop of great sets, costumes and cinematography and a soaring musical score. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad since the film is sincere and its heart is in the right place. Nothing feels cheap as you get swept up by the end. This is all thanks to the great performances by the cast especially Colin Firth, who deserved his Oscar win.

Grade: B+

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15149
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:21 pm

Fair Game (Doug Liman) 7/10

With the limited exception of The Bourne Identity, I've never been a fan of Doug Liman's movies. This one is an excpetion if only because of the covered material, but it's still no All the President's Men.

What makes it work is the conviction of the stars, Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, to bring passion to their portryals of Valerie Palme and Joe Wilson who went up againt the Bush adminitation and survived. It's not so clear what happened to the people in the filed whose lives were compromised by the White House leaks and flat-out lies.

These are not great performances, but they're good ones. Too bad Watts didn't reive a Best Actress nomination which might have spurred mroe interest in the film than it seems to be getting. She was at least as good as Nicole Kidman and Michelle Williams.




Edited By Big Magilla on 1302718900

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15149
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:17 am

Made in Dagenham (Nigel Cole) 7/10

I wasn't expecting much from the director of Saving Grace and Calendar Girls[/i], but this is a very effective film about Rita O'Grady, the British Norma Rae played by Sally Hawkins in a very ingratiating performacne.

She receives strong support from Bob Hoskins, Geraldine James, Rosamund Pike and Miranda Richardson, who had she more to do, might well have been a major Oscar contender instead of just an also-ran as Labor Secretary Barbara Castle. The British Independants and London Critics were right in singling out Rosamund Pike instead. Her role is even smaller, but she is amazing in her few scenes as a character with more grit and determination than is apparent at first glance.

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

Postby Damien » Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:03 pm

Green Zone (Paul Greengrass)

Another mess from Paul Greengrass. Once again, this out of control director mistakes constant motion, frenetic editing and spastic camera editing for some sort of viable cinematic language and the result is a horrific hodgepodge of noise and visual fury all signifying nothing. The narrative is also ludicrous – a liberal pipe dream and a risible rewriting of recent history – as all-American, Boy Scout-esque army officer Matt Damon not only questions the claims of WMD mere weeks into the War on the Iraqi People but sets out to expose the lies many of us knew about even before the war began and also becomes involved in a plot in which Iraqi truth-tellers are targeted. Combine the visuals and the narrative and you get sheer incoherence. The only thing that rings true is Greg Kinnear’s subtly officiously sleazy performance as a Paul Bremer stand-in – he’s both amusing and chilling. But this is a movie in which even the Judith Miller character happily acknowledges the error of her ways. Completely phony from start to finish and utter garbage. And also a complete bore.
4/10
=======================

Harlan: In The Shadow Of Jew Suss Felix Moeller)

The material covered in this documentary has a great story to tell: the various ways in which the children and other relatives of Veit Harlan - -who directed the notorious anti-Semitic Third Reich film, Jew Suss – have dealt with his legacy. Emotions ranging from anger, resentment and radicalism to stoicism and familial love are on view, and they are expressed most eloquently, actions from committing suicide to marrying Jews (including Stanley Kubrick). Unfortunately, with a documentary a filmmaker can only go with what material he is given, and in this case one desires to hear more and have more psychology exposed and examined. In other words, a fictionalized or docu-drama of the Harlan family would probably have been more successful. And this is a film in which you can’t tell the players withput a program – it’s difficult to keep straight which talking head is which. Still, it is fascinating and very well-crafted, and some of the footage from Harlan’s films themselves is pretty amazing.
6/10




Edited By Damien on 1301812470
"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

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6023
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:33 am

I was sure someone had written about Easy A a while ago, but a semi-exhaustive search failed to turn anything up.

What Sleepless in Seattle was to the chick flick, Easy A is to the teen movie -- it brings us in on the joke by knowingly sharing all the conventions of the genre, but in the end relies on those conventions to make itself commercially viable. Yes, there's a faint nod in the direction of The Scarlet Letter, but, once past using that as plot-setting mechanism, the film discards it and goes to its real inspiration: the works of John Hughes. Let it be said it gets as much as it can out of this approach. There are alot of laughs along the way. I don't want to oversell the movie. In any "real world" terms, it's ridiculous/contrived. But, matched against the Hollywood monolith that spawned it, it would have to be viewed as a fairly witty diversion.

Alot of this is due to the actors. I don't know if Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci took their roles as a favor to filmmaker friends -- their parts are smaller than ones they'd generally play -- but they're both consistently funny in unexpected, cut-loose ways. Lisa Kudrow and Thomas Haden Church are also funnier than I've seen them in some time. Some of the younger actors don't fare as well: though the guys do well enough (if in somewhat bland fashion), the two primary supporting females -- the "best friend" and the fundamentalist -- play it way too shrill.

Fortunately, at the center is Emma Stone, who really comes into her own. In any real sense she's miscast -- a high-school girl who's supposed to be utterly unnoticed by her peers would need to be about 50% less hot than Stone. But casting someone like that -- say, a Garolfalo when she was a teen -- would have made the story considerably sadder than this lark of a film wants to be. Casting Stone -- the barely hidden fox -- in the role keeps us firmly in the realm of fantasy. Anyway, Stone easly justifies her casting with not only a striking presence, but with some of the most inventive line readings I've heard in some time. I kept finding myself thinking, that was a pretty clever line, but the spin she put on it made it REALLY funny. This is an actress to follow.

I've probably already given the film more band-width than it deserves -- it's superior Hollywood filler, nothing more. But the laughs provided make it worth the 90-minute investment.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15149
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:57 pm

Not quite done with the year or so it would seem:

Another Year (Mike Leigh) 6/10

I think Leigh makes a huge mistake in opening the film with a compelling performance by Imelda Staunton as a depressed woman in search of a prescription for sleeping pills. She's so good you wish the film were about her, but after she's given enough sleeping pills to get by for a week and advised to undergo tests in the meantime, she's gone from the film, which then moves to the home life of her "advisor",

The advisor's name is Gerri, her husband's name is Tom - Tom and Jerri, pun intended. They've been happily married for forty years. For the remainder of the film's running time we see them open their home to various friends and relatives. Gerri must be a good cook because they keep coming back for more.

Gerri's best friend is Mary, a secretary at her clinic, played by the lauded Lesley Manville. She's an annoying character for half the film, complaining too much, drinking too much, and crying too much. In the last half of the film she's sad and pathetic as her fifty year-old alcoholic's heart is broken when Tom and Gerri's thirty year old son brings home a girl who seems to be a younger version of Mary.

The question is not whether Manville was shut out of the Oscar race because they couldn't decide whether her performance was lead or supporting - it's definitely supporting - but whether she deserved to be considered at all.

Hereafter (Clint Eastwood) 5/10

No as bad as the reviews would have you believe but really only about half of a good movie. The opening tsunami scene is tasteful and restrained with just enough special effects to make it realistic.

The film unfolds Babel style with three stories coming together at the London Book Fair near the end.

Matt Damon is fine as a reluctant psychic, but there is too much filler to his story. The subplot involving Bryce Dallas Howard is hackneyed and has nowhere to go. I don't get the early speculation for an Oscar nod for her at all.

The section involving tsunami survivor Cecile de France is, aside from the special effects, routine and obvious.

The best part of the film involves twin boys Marcus and Jason played interchangeably by George and Frankie McLaren. I'll say only that their section of the film involves special effects as well and they are as well done as the tsunami effects.

Inside Job (Charles Ferguson) 5/10

This won an Oscar for Best Documentary? Documentaries are supposed to be informative. Tell me something I haven;t heard incessantly on CNN and MSNBC for more than two years.

Waiting for Superman (Davis Guggenheim) 8/10

Now this was a documentary. All I'll say about it is see it, you will learn something. Why this failed to even earn an Oscar nomination I don't know, although I can guess. My guess is it that the anti-teacher's union slant did not go over well with documentary guild members.




Edited By Big Magilla on 1300679903

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

Postby Damien » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:56 am

Eyes Wide Open (Haim Tabakman)

An exceptional and memorably mournful picture about a love affair between two Orthodox Jewish men in Jerusalem, it marks a remarkable self-assured debut by Tabakman, whose mise-en-scene (camera placement, blocking of characters, editing) is very precise The look and feel of the film is not exactly rigorous, but it is very structured. The narrative is a bit constricted (the relationship occurs without the film providing a strong foundation), and some aspects of the proceedings are slightly elusive to one not versed in Orthodox Judaism. But Tabakman’s compassion is very clear indeed, and finds a perfect conduit in the sad face of the older man’s wife, a lovely actress whose name is Tinkerbell. And his occasional use of symbolism is understated and highly effective. Even the “villains” in the film are not so much cruel as fearful, confused or sheltered. The music score is in keeping with the resigned sadness of the piece.
8/10
====================

The Secret In Their Eyes (Juan José Campanella)

Finally caught up with last year's Foreign Film winner. Campanella is a veteran of a lot of American series TV and it shows. Much of the film is a perfectly enjoyable well-crafted policier. I can also understand why it won the Oscar: In addition to being completely accessible, it also touches upon Big Themes like the meaning of time and how the past affects the present. But it's in this area where the film stumbles badly; it's very glib and tenuous. Also undoubtedly adding to its appeal to Oscar voters is a second chance romance between two middle-aged characters, although this does not ring particularly true. And contrivances do abound in the narrative. An entertaining movie, greatly aided by the warm, strong performance by Ricardo Darín in the lead. But still, it's patently absurd that this beat The White Ribbon, Ajami and Un prophète at the Oscars. (I haven't seen The Milk Of Sorrow.)
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


Return to “2010”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest