The Official Review Thread of 2011

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 3854
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:53 pm

dws1982 wrote:Like Crazy
Well, BJ, will you hate me forever if I admit that I loved this?


Forever is such a strong word. :P

dws1982
Tenured
Posts: 2814
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 9:28 pm
Location: AL
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby dws1982 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:24 pm

Like Crazy
Well, BJ, will you hate me forever if I admit that I loved this? As a portrait of a first "real" romance (as opposed to casual high school and college dating), this resonated very, very deeply with me. It's possible that I'm being lenient because I went in expecting a quirky romantic comedy, and was relieved to find something very different from that, but I was really taken back by this one. I'm feeling like there's a lot to say about this one, although I don't know when I'll find time to say it in the next week. (Got AP Calaculus training which is going to take up most of my time.)

bizarre
Temp
Posts: 484
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 9:35 am

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby bizarre » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:45 pm

I think if you look at the structure, the grand guignol soundscape, the focus on unreliable memories and, yeah, the fact that the film never actually attempts to probe Kevin's psychology, and then look at Lynne Ramsay's previous two films which both attempted to illustrate a psychology by using formal abstraction to emulate subjective thought patterns, I think it becomes pretty clear that's what the film is doing? I've read a lot of criticism that takes issue with the heightened sensibility and, yes, the comedy that Ramsay uses to work towards these ends but I think it's a blinkered stance to assume that this is an attempt at a Serious Prestige Drama About A Difficult Situation when it doesn't look like one, walk like one or quack like one.

FilmFan720
Tenured
Posts: 3365
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 3:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby FilmFan720 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 8:43 am

bizarre wrote:
FilmFan720 wrote:I don't normally post too much here as I catch up on films from last year, which I have been doing very slowly, but every so often I have such a reaction to a film that I can't pass this up.

We Need to Talk About Kevin might be one of the most insultingly horrible films I have seen in several years. It takes a really probing idea, and tells a story that needs to be explored, and turns it into a Bad Seed-esque camp horror film that says almost nothing of interest or intelligence about its characters. By making Kevin a devil-baby (and some of those scenes, especially the carriage scene, are what the sequel to Rosemary's Baby would probably read as), it takes away any sort of nuance from the characters in the film and makes them the one-dimensional caricatures you expect from a late-night HBO horror film. This means that the mother can become the worst parent ever, and she does some idiotic stuff, and let her off the hook completely because no one could deal with demon child. Not to mention that it also allows the filmmakers to make the father the dumbest character of the year in a film, so oblivious to what is going on around him. I felt no attachment to any character in this film (especially the son, who gives the worst performance of the year), and found the whole thing just insulting, to those involved in tragedies that the film is inspired by and myself for sitting through it.

On the other hand, with all of the praise that this film has received, it completely overshadowed a film last year called Beautiful Boy. That film covered this exact same territory with so much more grace, humanity and depth, and Maria Bello and Michael Sheen are heads and shoulders over the performances in this film.


We Need to Talk About Kevin is a riotous black comedy which is essentially a record of its lead character's 100% subjective, guilt-wracked fever dream. So few people got past its 'cartoonishness' and realised that it being a cartoon was totally the point - a way for its central character to rationalise her own role in a horrifying trauma. Dizzyingly well-shot, well-mixed and very clever with a very good Swinton performance to boot.

Judging films by what you think they should be forces you into some pretty small boxes.


I'm not judging anything by what I think it should be, I am judging it by what it is. If you want to read it as a black comedy, that is fine, but I don't think that is what the filmmakers are intending at all. The film thinks that it is putting forward a deep psychological study when it is something that a 13-year old might think up and think is deep.
"Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."
- Minor Myers, Jr.

bizarre
Temp
Posts: 484
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2011 9:35 am

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby bizarre » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:58 am

FilmFan720 wrote:I don't normally post too much here as I catch up on films from last year, which I have been doing very slowly, but every so often I have such a reaction to a film that I can't pass this up.

We Need to Talk About Kevin might be one of the most insultingly horrible films I have seen in several years. It takes a really probing idea, and tells a story that needs to be explored, and turns it into a Bad Seed-esque camp horror film that says almost nothing of interest or intelligence about its characters. By making Kevin a devil-baby (and some of those scenes, especially the carriage scene, are what the sequel to Rosemary's Baby would probably read as), it takes away any sort of nuance from the characters in the film and makes them the one-dimensional caricatures you expect from a late-night HBO horror film. This means that the mother can become the worst parent ever, and she does some idiotic stuff, and let her off the hook completely because no one could deal with demon child. Not to mention that it also allows the filmmakers to make the father the dumbest character of the year in a film, so oblivious to what is going on around him. I felt no attachment to any character in this film (especially the son, who gives the worst performance of the year), and found the whole thing just insulting, to those involved in tragedies that the film is inspired by and myself for sitting through it.

On the other hand, with all of the praise that this film has received, it completely overshadowed a film last year called Beautiful Boy. That film covered this exact same territory with so much more grace, humanity and depth, and Maria Bello and Michael Sheen are heads and shoulders over the performances in this film.


We Need to Talk About Kevin is a riotous black comedy which is essentially a record of its lead character's 100% subjective, guilt-wracked fever dream. So few people got past its 'cartoonishness' and realised that it being a cartoon was totally the point - a way for its central character to rationalise her own role in a horrifying trauma. Dizzyingly well-shot, well-mixed and very clever with a very good Swinton performance to boot.

Judging films by what you think they should be forces you into some pretty small boxes.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15024
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jul 08, 2012 4:22 am

I had the same reactions to We Need to Talk About Kevin andBeautiful Boy.

FilmFan720
Tenured
Posts: 3365
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 3:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby FilmFan720 » Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:31 pm

I don't normally post too much here as I catch up on films from last year, which I have been doing very slowly, but every so often I have such a reaction to a film that I can't pass this up.

We Need to Talk About Kevin might be one of the most insultingly horrible films I have seen in several years. It takes a really probing idea, and tells a story that needs to be explored, and turns it into a Bad Seed-esque camp horror film that says almost nothing of interest or intelligence about its characters. By making Kevin a devil-baby (and some of those scenes, especially the carriage scene, are what the sequel to Rosemary's Baby would probably read as), it takes away any sort of nuance from the characters in the film and makes them the one-dimensional caricatures you expect from a late-night HBO horror film. This means that the mother can become the worst parent ever, and she does some idiotic stuff, and let her off the hook completely because no one could deal with demon child. Not to mention that it also allows the filmmakers to make the father the dumbest character of the year in a film, so oblivious to what is going on around him. I felt no attachment to any character in this film (especially the son, who gives the worst performance of the year), and found the whole thing just insulting, to those involved in tragedies that the film is inspired by and myself for sitting through it.

On the other hand, with all of the praise that this film has received, it completely overshadowed a film last year called Beautiful Boy. That film covered this exact same territory with so much more grace, humanity and depth, and Maria Bello and Michael Sheen are heads and shoulders over the performances in this film.
"Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."
- Minor Myers, Jr.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 5930
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Mister Tee » Mon May 21, 2012 7:03 pm

Late catch-up with a few of last year's items:

I had the same issue with Another Earth that I did with Win Win: when a plot relies on one character deceiving another, I sit there squirming, waiting for the ineviable ugly revelation. The deception here ("I had something to do with your mate's death") has also been fairly played out -- in Monster's Ball and Bounce, for two. The relationship between the two leads wasn't wildly interesting; I liked the whole second-earth concept alot more, and wish it had been integrated more fully into the story (with more detail, anyway). Oh, and I guess we're not supposed to complain about things like this with indies, but this movie really had an ugly, cheap look.

I liked Higher Ground for some of the same reasons dws did -- it was refreshing to see a film about fundamentalists that didn't "expose" them as hypocritical horndogs. The film did a pretty honest job of dealing with someone for whom religious practice is central to life, or at least appears that way. My problem with the film is it might actually suffer from an excess of honor/integrity (the fact that it's not fiction but based on a memoir might make that inevitable). Watching Vera Farmiga's character respond to the things that irk her about how women are treated in the church -- especially seeing how her friend being reduced to near-vegetable status is not only tolerated but almost viewed as a positive, since it makes her more obedient -- I'm expecting a rebellion that's bigger and louder than the one we get. I accept that such an uprising is difficult for someone who's had these values ingrained in her. I also note that her final speech is, by the standards of the flock, a fairly strong statement (by "preaching", she's doing one thing she was specifically told to avoid.) But I have to say, for me, this no doubt true-to-life finish felt a bit soft in dramatic terms. Still, Farmiga gives a very solid performance, and also acquits herself quite well behind the camera, so I look forward to her future work.

Certified Copy is not what would generally be my kind of movie: a tony art film that poses "what's the reality?" questions is something I outgrew long ago. But I enjoyed the film more than I'd have expected, for reasons others mentioned way back in this thread. The conversations in the early part of the film -- prior to when the writer "becomes" her husband -- are engaging in their own terms, and even the later ones have dramatic value beyond the framing concept. And, above all, Juliette Binoche gives a performance that, even by her lofty standards, is pretty exceptional -- she shows more colors than I think I've ever seen from her before. Whether I ultimately invest in these characters or not, she makes me feel, for the course of the film, that I SHOULD care about her. On the whole: the film didn't exactly motivate me to go out and rent the Kiarostami library...but I liked this effort well enough.

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4964
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun May 20, 2012 6:42 am

THE ARTIST
Cast: Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, John Goodman, Malcolm McDowell, Missi Pyle.
Dir: Michel Hazanavicius.

I wanted to see this film for the first time on the big screen theatrically. I wait and I wait. It doesn't look like it's gonna happen. So I thought, fuck it, I'll just see the damn thing on DVD. However, I made a promise to myself that I will see it on the big screen again if I like it enough. I'm happy to say that I do really like it enough that I would definitely see this again should there be a theatrical run. I can see how it won Best Picture. This is a (mostly) silent film made in the style of the classic silent films. However, it never feels like a gimmick because the story feels like it should be told this way. It's very lovingly made and superbly acted by the two leads. As a lover of film, I smiled throughout most of it. This is a very worthy Best Picture winner, I must say (even though I like two of the nominees a little better). Gotta love that Uggie the Dog though.

Grade: A-

dws1982
Tenured
Posts: 2814
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 9:28 pm
Location: AL
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby dws1982 » Fri May 11, 2012 9:29 pm

Higher Ground (Vera Farmiga)

Somewhat surprisingly, I loved this. Any movie that deals with religious funamentalism (hate the term, but it's the best way of describing the milieu so that people can understand) treads on very thin ice with me, because I've spent most of my life around people who could be described as religious fundamentalists. Sure, I've met my fair share of nuts, and close-minded, self-righteous people, but I've also met plenty of genuinely kind, loving people who would do anything they could do to help others. The nuts and the bigots tend to be the only ones we see in movies, and since this movie is about a woman and her struggles with faith, I expected to see the nuts out in full force here. Surprisingly there aren't any real nuts or cheap shots at all. The people Farmiga's character are around are probably more extreme than anyone I've spent much time around, but the religious community depicted here is believable--a group of people who spend their lives together, trying to help each other through their struggles. Farmiga is excellent with her actors. If you're making a movie about a community of people, making them believable as a group of people who've spent much of their lives together is a big thing, and these actors are all very believable as members of this community. She's also excellent with her camera. There's a long monologue by Farmiga towards the end about her struggles, and it's very well written (and performed), but just a few shots later, Farmiga frames a shot from her character's POV as she observes a religious service that she just somehow can't connect to, followed by a cut back to Farmiga as she stands in the doorway of the church (the last shot in the movie). Those two shots manage to sum up everything that was just said in the monologue, and really, the whole central theme of the film. I think she has potential to be a major filmmaker.

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 6856
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Sabin » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:48 pm

/Crazy, Stupid, Love/ (John Requa & Glenn Ficarra)

The stuff that doesn't work still ires me. The beyond cheesy third act, the miscast moppet, the fact that at times the film seems to hear its own VH1 soundtrack. But the stuff that does is still incredibly winning, an almost glowing miasma of rom-com and suburban angst roundelay. I remain a bigger fan of his performance in this film than quite a few of the Best Actor nominees this year. Who could have guessed that The Daily Show's Produce Pete would be able to ingratiate himself into an ensemble so successfully, and pull of a three dimensional human being in some ways better than Jim Carrey ever could? But I noticed this time around (around the time I saw that he also was a producer on the film) that he tended to be a bit too bemused, too knowing and not desperate enough in his middle-age, at times the kind of bad habits that Richard Gere developed. When he works, it's probably his best performance to date. When he doesn't, it feels like he's treating his character's mid-life crisis with kid gloves.

The screenplay by Dan Fogelman is a bit too tidy, but the direction by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra is still quite inspired. These are my guys. And that I once thought Ryan Gosling was a lead in the film is testament to how strong a performer he is. In truth, he's absent for most of the film's second act and serves largely at the disposal of Steve Carell's character, but he is indeed a supporting actor, and my favorite of 2011.
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 5930
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Mar 31, 2012 4:46 pm

I think I'm largely with Sabin on TinTin. The film seems far more in Spielberg's wheelhouse than War Horse did. (In retrospect, I'm not sure what possessed him to do War Horse at all) For the first 40 minutes or so, I enjoyed TinTin pretty thoroughly -- it zipped along, had alot of clever framing. But Sabin is correct, that Spielberg apparently assumed we were all familiar with the character and those in his orbit, which for me is emphatically not the case. (I guess the clever animated opening was meant to give me this exposition -- "Previously, on TinTin" -- but it went right over my head) Because of this, as the plot later drifted into areas that didn't much interest me (seemingly another variation on Pirates of the Caribbean), I had no grounding to keep me attached to the milieu or characters. The film's final half hour seemed all frenetic action -- much like the worst of Temple of Doom -- and I was bored by the finish. I wasn't that wild about Rango, but I'd say it deserved the animated award over this, nominated or not.

I also just watched The Skin I Live In, and agree with most of what was written about it months ago (except by Okri, who apparently rated it more highly than I or anyone else). As usual, Pedro twists his narrative so we have no idea where we're going for the longest time, but enjoy the trip immensely. I didn't see the big twist coming till it was pretty much in my face. I really have to salute such narrative surprises, in an era where they seem so hard to come by.

Despite enjoying it that much, however, I can't say I think it's to the level of Talk to Her or Bad Education. Those films wound around and eventually cohered into something resembling a statement about the human condition -- they had "Aha; now I know what this is about" moments. This film, for me, doesn't. It feels like a collection lurid details that are cleverly arranged and make for an engrossing watch, but don't coalesce into anything that feels like a coherent whole. Still well worth watching, but not, for me, Pedro's best.

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 6856
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Sabin » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:19 am

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt)

When I heard talk of Andy Serkis being a dark horse for a Best Supporting Actor nomination, I shrugged it off as nonsense. Had I seen the film, I think I still would, but I wouldn't begin to have a problem with it happening. It should be said that Cesar is simply just not as complex a creation as Serkis' Gollum for which the actor deserved a nomination and a win (one of many for the incredibly underrated middle chapter of the somewhat overrated trilogy). What Serkis does here is essentially a series of variations on I AM UP TO SHIT! I AM GLOWERING AND THINKING THOUGHTS NO MONKEY SHOULD THINK! But Cesar remains a fairly mesmerizing camera study. I watched the entire time completely divorced from any thought that I was watching CGI. Shame on the Academy for honoring Hugo over this film!

Rise... is at heart an incredibly expensive B-movie that deserves much praise for taking its time and trusting us to want to spend time with Cesar as he rallies his troops slowly but surely. This is a strangely patient film that allows for precious little sympathy for any human, making the final takeover kind of an enjoyable sick joke. This is a powerfully dumb movie that takes itself the right kind of serious. Franco is completely lost here, but it doesn't much affect the proceedings.

More than just having a good time, I was impressed that everyone involved were smart enough to be so...dumb!
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!

anonymous1980
Emeritus
Posts: 4964
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 10:03 pm
Location: Manila
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:46 am

THE MUPPETS
Cast: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Peter Linz, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel, Jack Black.
Dir: James Bobin.

I grew up watching the Muppets on TV as well as watching many of the Muppet movies so imagine my delight and surprise that this was gonna happen again. And for the most part, it largely works. Screenwriters Jason Segel and NIcholas Stoller and director James Bobin successfully transfers the formula of the Muppets to the 21st century without trying too hard to make it "hip". Certain moments from this film feel like pure child-like joy captured on film.

Grade: B+

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 6856
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: The Official Review Thread of 2011

Postby Sabin » Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:08 pm

Two leftovers that I in no way really needed to say...

The Adventures of Tintin (Steven Spielberg)

More so than War Horse, Spielberg's other winter offering represents something special. With near-infinite angles at his disposal, the marriage of Spielberg and Motion Capture yields a masterwork of spatial relationships. This film moves in beautiful ways. And yet, I wish there was something moving Tintin's quest besides the fact that it's a Tuesday. I don't know who Tintin is, I have no emotional investment in him, and that's ultimately Spielberg's greatest sin. He assumes we know all there is to know about this unicorn-coiffed ragamuffin. The [beautiful] animated opening doesn't so much tell me all there is to know as about Tintin as it does approximate the lack of emotion in the rest of the film. It's a glorious thing to look at, even if Motion Capture can't quite yet replicate eyes and mouths (I do like the noses though), but it's adherence to what I assume is proper Tintin devil-may-care adventurism leaves me utterly divorced and watching from a distance. A great look. I vastly prefer it to War Horse.


Captain America: The First Avenger (Joe Johnston)

You know when you watch a film shot digitally and you'll see a scene that just looks...digital? Let me say it a different way. You'll see a scene more likely at night and it'll just look fake -- which is to say, it looks like actors running through a stage, and it looks like something is glitchy with the camera? Like Public Enemies? That's because Public Enemies, like Captain America, was shot on the Genesis, a shitty, shitty Panavision camera that filmmakers still use because they want to use Panavision lenses. You can't use them on the Red. That's probably going to change soon, but it's a product of monopoly, basically. The problem is that those awesome Panavision lenses don't matter for shit if the image looks as bad as it does. The reason you see what's called "Motion Blur" (for the layman, it's also called "Why Does That Look So Shitty/Digital?") is because in areas of low-lighting, you have to open the shutter up all the way or you won't get an image. When you do that on a digital camera, it creates Motion Blur because the camera is just letting everything inside in an uncontrolled fashion. One of the reasons that Michael Mann shot Public Enemies the way that he did was that he wanted to see the muzzle blasts of the shotguns. I can only assume that because this is Joe Johnston's first film to shoot digitally, he just didn't know what he was asking for w/r/t cinematography. The film looks like ass. The post-conversion 3D isn't bad though.

As far as the storytelling goes, well, he bungles a lot of it. The first bit of it with "Skinny Steve" is pretty good. "Skinny Steve" is a pretty miraculous effect. Apparently, the reason the film looks like such a mess w/r/t CGI backdrops is that no fewer than THIRTEEN effect houses tackled the effects of this film considering how much effort was put into "Skinny Steve". As I said, not bad stuff. Chris Evans is a little bland in the role. He doesn't bring us into Steve's plight or reformation, skinny or buff, and is a little too mannequinish, but it's enjoyable. And then comes his transformation scene, and his buff reveal -- completely devoid of magic. What is it with these hacks like Brett Ratner (Johnson admittedly is a step above) who lose their sense of intimacy, of wonder, of the little moments in superhero films? Captain America becomes a frenetic, impersonal video game. Unlike Tintin (which is very much a video game), it's one with very little to marvel at.

I see what Johnston is going for and his prior helming of The Rocketeer makes him a good call, but it all goes wrong with Evans. This isn't a lovable performance like Chris Hemsworth in the otherwise execrable Thor, where you sense the joy, the charism, the honor. Evans isn't a Super Soldier. You don't see the joy to stick it to the bullies. He's just there on the screen. Aside from Stanley Tucci who has some nice pluck as a expatriate German scientist, nobody else fairs any better. Red Skull is especially dull. Nothing in this film feels like it matters, and worst of all...it's not fun! This is a WW2 movie with laser guns! That should be a little fun, goddamnit!
Philomena is one of the year's best Philomenas!


Return to “2011”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest