The Official Review Thread of 2011

Mister Tee
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Postby Mister Tee » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:17 pm

I'll risk scorn by saying I pretty well enjoyed Limitless. It's strictly popcorn, with some silly plot turns, but its premise is intriguing enough and it moves along quickly. I know some here have no taste whatever for potboilers like this (Damien, certainly, and Sonic usually turns his nose up, as well). But for those just looking for anything diverting during this dry season, even only on the level of a fun airport book, this is maybe the most enjoyable one of its sort I've run across since the Gosling/Hopkins Fracture a few years back.

And it may say something about how far down my expectations for him have fallen, but I found deNiro's work here more pleasurable than usual.

Oh, and, has Abby Cornish always looked like Charlize Theron's younger sister and I just never noticed till now?




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Postby Sabin » Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:41 am

I don't know if I will see Win Win. I find Thomas McCarthy films to be pleasantly average, more in the pro than con if only due to the prevalence of positive virtue. But The National has recorded a song for the film called "Think You Can Wait" that is another one of their dependable anthems. I hope it's one of the songs nominated for an Oscar this coming year, but after this past dismal lineup, I doubt it.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:58 am

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Ne-Yo, Michael Pena, Lucas Till, Will Rothhaar, Noel Fisher, Adetokumboh M'Cormack, Bryce Cass.
Dir: Jonathan Liebesman.

I went in with way lowered expectations due to some harsh critical drubbing it got. It has a wonderful solid concept: an alien invasion movie shot like an intense war film a la Black Hawk Down. It has a decent cast and great special effects and action sequences. Unfortunately it's still quite a huge disappointment. The plot, characterizations and dialogue are painfully cliched, copy/pasted from hundreds of war movies from the past, it's almost a parody in its predictability. This film really needed a more imaginative screenwriter to bring it to life. It's more a very disappointing film than a truly godawful one.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing are possibilities but the bad reviews will make people forget it.

Grade: C

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Postby Sabin » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:47 am

I'm nowhere near ready to formulate my thoughts on Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami), but I want to share a passage that I've read, as I've been ravenously doing since having seen it a few scant hours ago.

(Ed Gonzalez @ September 22, 2010)
Certified Copy appeals to me as a lover of Buñuel—even before Jean-Claude Carrière, Buñuel's greatest collaborator, pops up in a illusory scene wherein it looks as if he is verbally abusing his female companion (Agathe Nathanson), I was already smitten by its surreal consideration of identity and romance—and as a lover, period. I can't say that I understand everything Kiarostami has to tell me about life, art, romance, and tradition, from Michelangelo's "David" to the silly ritual of tasting freshly corked wine bottles in restaurants, at least not consciously, but I know I feel haunted, elated, enriched by his wily and impassioned view of relationships as bodies in constant flux, of disagreement and individuality, and of the transformative power of a simple, sincerely felt timeout in a moment of bitter crisis, such as a tender hand on a shoulder, to remind a lover, however scorned, that they are still loved. From its gorgeously prismatic visual style, Kiarostami's latest is very much a work of art, but its enlightening emotional feeling proves that it's also a certified copy of real life.

Now, the latter portion of the last sentence is what I responded to. I feel a smidgen of resistance to Certified Copy when I read certain erudite reviews, but Ed pretty much nails its physical power. You watch Certified Copy for all its meta debate-clubbing, and you feel some kind of alive.




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Postby Damien » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:33 am

Zahveed wrote:Both Anonymous and I gave Rango an A- and we're not critics. We're part of the general public. IMDB's score of 7.8 seems more accurate.

But you're both also more intelligent and discerning than most Academy voters.
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Postby Sabin » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:52 am

Rango (Gore Verbinski)

I'm certainly closer in esteem to anonymous & Zahveed than Cinemascore. For me, the problem with Rango is that it doesn't quite maintain its anarchic and I would assume somewhat alienating tone from the first third. At its core, Rango is a story about actors, about playing a part, about forging your own destiny. Not the most kid- (or audience-) friendly topic, even if the filmmakers somehow managed to make the animated creatures somehow adorable. These are ugly, ugly characters...which I kinda loved. At times the film approximates the bestial energy of the Muppets, a puttin' on a show jokiness. Quickly though it sets into the groove of a Leone western and finds it difficult to balance Star Wars jokes with thematic Chinatown homage. Ultimately, where can one audience be when it attempts both?

It's not for kids. At all. But it's a dazzling thing to sit through.
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Postby Zahveed » Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:18 am

Both Anonymous and I gave Rango an A- and we're not critics. We're part of the general public. IMDB's score of 7.8 seems more accurate.
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Postby Damien » Sat Mar 12, 2011 10:04 pm

anonymous wrote:
Damien wrote:
anonymous wrote:Oscar Prospects: One of the Animated Feature slots is locked up.

Not so fast. Rango received a Cinemascore of only C+, meaning the people didn't like it and word of mouth will be poor. And as Miss Media Junkie writes, "Older audiences were particularly hostile, with those over 25 giving "Rango" a flat C grade."

And here's another reason why this idiotic category should be jettisoned -- the name "Gore Verbinski" should never ever be uttered in connection with an Oscar nomination.

It's got an 89% Fresh on RottenTomatoes. The film is a love letter to spaghetti Westerns, Damien. If you like those types of films, you may enjoy it inspite of yourself.

But as we have seen time and time again, Academy voters are much more in sync with the general public than with critics. Hence, for Oscar purposes, I'd say the Cinemascore is more relevant than the Rotten Tomatoes.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:50 pm

Damien wrote:
anonymous wrote:Oscar Prospects: One of the Animated Feature slots is locked up.

Not so fast. Rango received a Cinemascore of only C+, meaning the people didn't like it and word of mouth will be poor. And as Miss Media Junkie writes, "Older audiences were particularly hostile, with those over 25 giving "Rango" a flat C grade."

And here's another reason why this idiotic category should be jettisoned -- the name "Gore Verbinski" should never ever be uttered in connection with an Oscar nomination.

It's got an 89% Fresh on RottenTomatoes. The film is a love letter to spaghetti Westerns, Damien. If you like those types of films, you may enjoy it inspite of yourself.




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Postby Damien » Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:01 pm

anonymous wrote:Oscar Prospects: One of the Animated Feature slots is locked up.

Not so fast. Rango received a Cinemascore of only C+, meaning the people didn't like it and word of mouth will be poor. And as Miss Media Junkie writes, "Older audiences were particularly hostile, with those over 25 giving "Rango" a flat C grade."

And here's another reason why this idiotic category should be jettisoned -- the name "Gore Verbinski" should never ever be uttered in connection with an Oscar nomination.
"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

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Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:44 am

RANGO
Cast: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Bill Nighy, Alfred Molina, Stephen Root, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant (voices).
Dir: Gore Verbinski.

Oh my. This is not only Gore Verbinski's best work, this probably displaces Monster House as my all-time favorite non-PIXAR CGI-animated film. This film is such a fun spoof/homage to spaghetti Westerns (I laughed when I recognized that familiar sound effect from Once Upon a Time In the West). The film is chockful of references but unlike most other animated films that uses them, this one's actually clever and organic. Johnny Depp redeemed himself after Alice in Wonderland here. It's the first great film of 2011.

Oscar Prospects: One of the Animated Feature slots is locked up. Also a strong contender for Original Song, Original Score, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, perhaps even Original Screenplay.

Grade: A-

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Postby Sabin » Thu Mar 10, 2011 7:55 pm

Les Amours Imaginaires (Xavier Dolan)

To refer to this film as "Heartbeats" is to miss the achingly immature heart beating at the center of this film. It is Imagined Love, but more so Those Who Engage in Imagined Love. Monia Chokri plays Marie, a sometimes duckish, sometimes statuesque model of romantic insecurity. She and Francis (writer/director Dolan) lock eyes with their mutual adonis, Nicolas (Niels Schneiber), at a party, and engage in a bout of imagined love. There are myriad affectations both stylistically and narratively that I had limited use for, but what Les Amours Imaginaires is rather brilliant at is in constructing a mini-narrative of falling for someone who is too distant to reciprocate your affections...which does not stop you from going through the motions with them vicariously. Dolan's film understands how you can grow nauseated with yourself, how you can end up on a vacation with someone you desire long past the point where a tryst is truly viable and wonder why you are even there?

This is a slightly wonderful film full of music, beautiful people, and humanism. It is also in possession of derivatives I had little use for. Dolan loves the shit out of Wong Kar-wai. That much is clear. The film is full of slow-motion tracking shots, pop songs, and gorgeous decoration. Sometimes these techniques are used for narrative ellipses, sometimes to simply admire something beautiful. On the whole, I think Dolan is coming into his own and will gain a more sure-footed manner of exercising these indulgences, especially considering that the most "Wong"-ian of his scenes is as simple as Francis opening up a bag of marshmallows, tasting one, and then leaving the store as the strains of an ambient pop song slowly encompass him with all traces of other sounds vanishing. Even then, he can't resist an image of Nicolas with marshmallows raining on him. Subtract that, and it's a portrait of quiet yearning that would make his master proud.

The film also utilizes a series of vignettes, stories recounted of romantic yearning, some more engaging than others. While certainly intermittently engaging, I would have just preferred more of the story told instead. The film is still pretty wonderful, worth basking in for a while after it is finished.
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Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:47 am

The Adjustment Bureau

If there could ever be a vanity piece in celebration of the wonderfulness not of a particular star but of the Hollywood star system in general, this is it. For the first hour, I was actually kind of enjoying this obnoxious, preachy film, feeling that this much-delayed film was well-suited for its release date: not exciting enough for a summer film, not weighty enough for an Oscar platform, it's at least an entertaining little oddity - sort of a mystical "Before Sunrise/Sunset" with a lot of major studio cash propping it up - that's right at home in March. The Bureau itself is a sort of other-worldly by-the-book agency that makes sure the planet goes "according to plan" and occassionally has to interfere with people's lives so as not to throw everything off-track, and the budding romance between Damon and Blunt is a severe threat that they try to break apart, because *gasp!* there is something out there that's bigger than the both of them. (It's also very considerate that the filmmakers reduce the mysteries of the universe into a few rules... to enter a portal, you must always wear a hat, etc.) But the filmmakers don't want the film to be cold and fatalistic. They want everything warm and comforting. So - despite their hatted all-business appearance - certain members of the Bureau are very kindly, willing to drop by on Damon every once-in-a-while to console and advise him. And us, of course. And all the spontaneous chemistry between Damon and (the impossibly forgiving) Blunt and the ample New York location photography can't save the film from its own touchy-feeliness.

SPOILERS

In the end - I told you this was a spoiler! - after outrunning the Bureau long enough, we reach the film's climax, which is... ready?... the Bureau gives up. This corporate stand-in for God is impressed with how hard Damon has fought to keep the love affair intact, that - as explained in a treacly speech - they change "the plan", the fate of the world in order to give way to their beautiful romance. Their wonderfulness is now beyond question, bless 'em! In the end, we see these two beautiful people - more beautiful than you, gifted with the correct genes - beaming mightily, a confirmation of the moral superiority of the Hollywood star system, which is the real theme of this movie. No Academy Awards broadcast could be as self-congratulatory as what I've just seen.
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Postby Zahveed » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:13 am

RANGO
Cast: Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, Ned Beatty, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant, Harry Dean Stanton
Dir: Gore Verbinksi


Everyone knows I like weird shit. At least anyone that remembers me knows that. That being said, this is definitely up my alley. It's a story we've all seen before. A stranger enters a town and pretends to be someone he's not and then you can figure out the rest of the movie from there. That isn't even a problem. It's just executed so well that any cliches are forgiving. If anything, the movie is well aware this tale has been told hundreds of times and just plays along with the adults in the audience. The allusions to other westerns and Nevada based films are abundant. There isn't an 8 year old out there that knows who Hunter S. Thompson is, but there he is driving down I-15 with his lawyer strung out on drugs in the backseat.

Surprisingly, the humor isn't for most kids. There are some silly antics to keep their attention, but most of the dialogue will go right over there heads. It's not even because there's sexual innuendo because there is very little if any. It's just so absurd and witty that the youngest kids wouldn't get it. Unfortunately all the older kids at the theater I went to went to see Just Go With It. They missed out. It reminds me of The Fantastic Mr. Fox in that respect, just not as quirky. More zany.

Now, the animation is top notch. I don't think any animated film this year can top this movie technically and don't even say Pixar can do it. I refuse to believe Cars 2 is going to be anything other than a giant toy commercial. The movements are fluid and timed just right to make the most sober joke hilarious. I recommend this to anybody that like goddamn cartoons. Those who don't like it will probably appreciate Hop...

J/k That looks horrible

Grade: A-

Oscar Prospects: Best Animated Picture. Maybe Sound Editing and Mixing but that's unlikely.




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Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:32 am

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU
Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Terence Stamp, Michael Kelly.
Dir: George Nolfi.

Romantic thrillers are kind of rare in films these days. Rarer still are romantic thrillers with philosophical and even religious undertones. This is just what this film is. It's also very well-made and very well-acted and very entertaining but it's also quite sweet, moving, romantic and has more substance and intelligence than your average thriller or romance. It's a very respectable effort.

Oscar Prospects: I'm not optimistc. Maybe Adapted Screenplay?

Grade: B


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