The Official Review Thread of 2013

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Sep 07, 2013 9:40 am

ELYSIUM
Cast: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Emma Tremblay, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Maxwell Perry Cotton.
Dir: Neil Blomkamp.

Well, it's not as good as District 9, first and foremost. The best science fiction are often allegories, a commentary if you will, on the present day. District 9 was one. This one tries to be one but it is no longer an allegory but more of a polemic. Despite the fact that I basically agree with the politics of the film, which tackle several currently controversial topics like health care, immigration and the whole 1% vs. 99%, the message is delivered with the subtlety of a jackhammer. The action is enjoyable enough but the lack of subtlety and nuance, oddly enough, neuters the important message that the film wishes to convey. It's overall a decent film but a wasted opportunity.

Oscar Prospects: A good chance for Visual Effects, Art Direction, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:35 am

KICK ASS 2
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, John Leguizamo, Donald Faison, Clark Duke, Morris Chestnut, Garrett M. Brown, Lindy Booth, Iain Glen, Augustus Prew.
Dir: Jeff Wadlow.

I liked the first Kick Ass movie though I'm not as big a fan as a lot of people were. This sequel, however, is a significant step-down from the original. The problem here is that writer-director Jeff Wadlow wanted to blend the over-the-top satirical dark humor and some genuine serious heart and pathos. Though there are good moments here and there, the film is overall a tonal mess. So much so that it becomes quite jarring and occasionally even unpleasant. Flashes of potential show that there could have been a great movie in there but alas....

Oscar Prospects: None.

Grade: C.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 6:45 am

LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER
Cast: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, David Oyelowo, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, Robin Williams.
Dir: Lee Daniels.

Over thirty years of the historical struggle for civil rights in the United States is seen through the eyes of the African-American White House butler, Cecil Gaines. Inspired by a real-life person, Lee Daniels' film hits many of the right and expected notes which personally I don't mind as long as it's done in earnest but unfortunately it's not enough to turn this into anything more than an above-average TV movie rather than a real piece of cinema. Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey were great. The supporting cast is uneven, particularly the presidents. I thought John Cusack was ridiculous and unbelievable as Nixon but James Marsden was outstanding as JFK. The real standout in the supporting cast is David Oyelowo as Gaines' elder son. The film is admirable and well-made but nothing really outstanding.

Oscar Prospects: If The Help could get in Picture, I guess this could too. Actor would be a bit of a challenge. Supporting Actress for Winfrey is possible but the most deserving candidate would be Oyelowo for Supporting Actor. Art Direction, Costume Design and Makeup are also possible.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Wed Aug 21, 2013 5:24 am

THE CONJURING
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Joey King, Shanley Caswell, Hayley McFarland, Mackenzie Foy, Kyla Deaver, Shannon Kook, John Brotherton, Sterling Jerins.
Dir: James Wan.

This is probably one of the best horror films in recent years. It's actually kind of scary! This is based on a "true" story (The skeptic in me doubts the film is super-duper accurate but who knows?) of a married couple who are paranormal researchers who help a family being terrorized by a malevolent spirit. Whether or not you actually believe this is even remotely accurate is irrelevant, it is pretty darn scary. Director James Wan shows remarkable talent utilizing all the horror tropes, cliches and tricks, turning it up to 11 and making it all seem fresh again and it's very effective.

Oscar Prospects: Due to the nature of the genre, none but I think it deserves at least a mention in Makeup, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories.

Grade: A-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:56 am

I saw the 2.5 hour cut.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby Precious Doll » Sat Aug 17, 2013 8:29 am

Anonymous,

What was the running time of the version you saw?

I'm curious because when I saw it at a screening in which the director was present (in early June) he said that it would be released in a shorter running time of about 2 hours. The version I saw was 2 and a half hours long.

I can't say a share your enthusiasm for the film and really felt it needed major editing work done to it as so much of it was repetitive. I also thought it was interesting that the director wanted to cut the film down given that it has received such an outstanding response for the 2 and a half hour cut of the film.
"I think he sexually assaulted a child and I don't think that's right…It's gotten very quiet in here, but that's true." Susan Sarandon on Woody Allen, Cannes Film Festival 2016

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Aug 17, 2013 7:55 am

THE ACT OF KILLING
Cast: N/A
Dir: Joshua Oppenheimer.

During the mid-1960's in Indonesia a group of government-supported paramilitary groups went around murdering "communists" i.e. groups of people they perceive to be threats. Over 2 million people were killed. I had no idea about this grim chapter in history probably largely because it's not seen as wrong by a majority of the population in Indonesia. These mass murderers are seen as heroes rather than criminals. The documentary actually lets them tell their story and chronicles what their lives are like today. However, they tell their story in a very unique way: They actually do their own re-enactment of the events in any way, shape or form they want to. So their dramatizations could take the form of a gangster movie, a musical, a Western or just plain straightforward re-enactments. The result is often disturbing, occasionally darkly humorous, fascinating and very thought-provoking and even moving and heartbreaking in a way. This film brings to light the capacity for human beings, and indeed they seem to be pretty nice, normal people, for doing evil monstrous things and of course, without giving away anything, the transformative power of film as an art form. It reminds me why I love film so much. It's an extraordinary piece of work, not just as a documentary film but as a film period.

Oscar Prospects: I hope this gets AT LEAST a nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

Grade: A.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby Reza » Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:39 pm

Big Magilla wrote:Or as Rex Reed says:

”Gruesomely grotesque and pathologically pretentious, a diabolical horror called Only God Forgives may not be the worst movie ever made, but it is unquestionably in the top five. There is nothing remotely compelling about this one. Ultra-violent, demented, plotless, creepy, meat-headed and boring, this is nothing more than a depraved travesty of abstract expression that wastes the film it’s printed on. When his sub-mental brother rapes and slaughters a teenage whore, her father slices his head off. Enter a catatonic cop, who proceeds to Cuisinart everyone in sight, and Gosling’s mother Crystal, the despicable, drunken, pill-popping bottle-blonde nymphomaniac head of a family drug empire who travels 10,000 miles to lick her pomegranate-red lips over the corpse of the rapist son, with whom she has obviously been having an incestuous affair for years. This hag is played by none other than Kristin Scott Thomas, who may think she’s slumming, but instead trashes a big chunk of her otherwise respectable career. Is Mr. Refn just another no-talent from the Lars von Trier school of Something Rotten in Denmark flummery? How many times will audiences pay to watch Ryan Gosling’s face black, battered and bleeding like a hamburger run over by a motorcycle? What is he doing in this dung heap at the top of his career, giving a performance that makes roadkill look like Road Runner? Part schlockfest, part campy fairy tale, this is a movie that begs you to bring your own barf bag.”


Didn't somebody once call Rex Reed a "cunt"?

His words above are just as pretentious as the film (Only God Forgives) he is writing about. Only he is serious while the film is not to be taken at face value. It is a delicious black comedy. Yes it goes overboard but it's fascinating to watch and never boring like Mr Reed.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 10:37 am

THE WOLVERINE
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, Will Yun Lee, Ken Yamamura, Famke Janssen.
Dir: James Mangold.

I had relatively low expectations on this one but I thought what the hell. As it turns out, it's pretty darn good. I thought the entire concept of combining samurais, ninjas and the Yakuzas and just plopping Wolverine in the middle of it was a pretty darn good idea. It felt like director James Mangold wanted to make a Japanese action flick and the only way he could do it was to incorporate a superhero on it. It was a cool conceit but the third act could have a hell of lot better. Wolverine is still one of the more interesting superhero characters and Hugh Jackman plays him very well. Decent enough.

Oscar Prospects; None.

Grade: B.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jul 21, 2013 6:35 am

Or as Rex Reed says:

”Gruesomely grotesque and pathologically pretentious, a diabolical horror called Only God Forgives may not be the worst movie ever made, but it is unquestionably in the top five. There is nothing remotely compelling about this one. Ultra-violent, demented, plotless, creepy, meat-headed and boring, this is nothing more than a depraved travesty of abstract expression that wastes the film it’s printed on. When his sub-mental brother rapes and slaughters a teenage whore, her father slices his head off. Enter a catatonic cop, who proceeds to Cuisinart everyone in sight, and Gosling’s mother Crystal, the despicable, drunken, pill-popping bottle-blonde nymphomaniac head of a family drug empire who travels 10,000 miles to lick her pomegranate-red lips over the corpse of the rapist son, with whom she has obviously been having an incestuous affair for years. This hag is played by none other than Kristin Scott Thomas, who may think she’s slumming, but instead trashes a big chunk of her otherwise respectable career. Is Mr. Refn just another no-talent from the Lars von Trier school of Something Rotten in Denmark flummery? How many times will audiences pay to watch Ryan Gosling’s face black, battered and bleeding like a hamburger run over by a motorcycle? What is he doing in this dung heap at the top of his career, giving a performance that makes roadkill look like Road Runner? Part schlockfest, part campy fairy tale, this is a movie that begs you to bring your own barf bag.”

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jul 21, 2013 6:20 am

ONLY GOD FORGIVES
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Rhatha Phongam, Gordon Brown, Tom Burke.
Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn.

Oh, God. This was a difficult one. This is a case of having great high-quality ingredients but coming up with a lackluster, AT BEST, dish. This is a film that's strictly style over substance, with spurts of shocking violence and features very unpleasant characters. All those don't necessarily make a bad film but in this, but writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn severely miscalculated nearly everything! The cinematography and art direction are nice to look at but often self-consciously artsy. It doesn't have enough of a sense of humor for it to become something campy (& fun) but instead comes off as at best ridiculous and at worst unpleasant. It doesn't have enough substance for it to justify the unpleasant things going on. It's an exercise in style but with really nowhere to go and all in all pointless. Plus the style that's in there has been done better by other directors and other films. It's too bad. There are REALLY good things there. It's really sore miscalculation on the part of an otherwise very talented filmmaker. It's an interesting failure of a film.

Oscar Prospects: In a better film, Kristin Scott Thomas' scenery chewing performance could've had some buzz but it's doubtful. Ditto the Cinematography, Score and Editing.

Grade: C.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:16 am

PACIFIC RIM
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Clifton Collins Jr., Diego Klattenhoff, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Burn Gorman.
Dir: Guillermo Del Toro.

Oh, my. This is probably my favorite summer blockbuster of the year so far. It's basicaly giant robots fighting giant monsters. It's big, loud and silly like any summer blockbuster. But the main difference is that it manages to inspire a sense of wonder and it surprised me. There were moments when I went "WOW!" and "HOLY SHIT!" I felt like a 12 year old again. This is exactly what this movie feels like: A loving tribute to monster movies that director Guillermo del Toro saw when he was a kid. The big fight scenes are spectacularly staged. You can actually see what's going on and they don't feel at all monotonous like these scenes tend to do. Plus they don't overstay their welcome. I will admit that the human elements of the story could have been a bit better but they were just good enough that I actually gave a damn about the characters so it's a minor quibble rather than a major one. I have to say, this is the summer blockbuster where I had the most fun! It's kind of refreshing to see original material from a visionary director who obviously loves it.

Oscar Prospects: Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Art Direction.

Grade: A-

BEFORE MIDNIGHT
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick.
Dir: Richard Linklater.

This is probably my favorite film of the year so far. This is the third film in what is, SO FAR (I'm thinking this may continue) a trilogy of films chronicling the relationship between Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) that started in Before Sunrise and continued to Before Sunset, both films I absolutely loved. This time, they're living together, they have twin girls and are middle-aged. Like the first two films, the film is basically entirely conversations but thanks to the great script, acting and direction, holds your attention and engages you throughout. Having seen these two characters "grow up" so to speak before our eyes and all the many ups and downs of their relationship, one can't help but hold onto to their every word and seem like we already know them as people. The film does not shy away from harsh realities and real-life issues yet still manages to be sweet, funny and romantic which makes the romance MORE romantic.

Oscar Prospects: This deserves Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Adapted Screenplay.

Grade: A.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sat Jul 06, 2013 9:48 am

THE BLING RING
Cast: Emma Watson, Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann, Carlos Miranda, Gavin Rossdale, Stacy Edwards.
Dir: Sofia Coppola.

Sofia Coppola is, of course, one of world's cinema's most exciting directors working today. Going in, I'm thinking this film is going to be at least interesting. But it was more than interesting. This film is a true story about a group of upper-middle class teens who were responsible for a string of burglaries targeting the houses ot the rich and famous including Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. With this, Coppola treats the world of upper-middle-class, spoiled teens like an almost alien subculture that's inherently weird and detached despite the fact this world has been chronicled in numerous reality shows. Emma Watson is the top-billed name here and she, like the rest of the cast, was terrific but the discovery here is Israel Broussard, who plays the main male member of the Bling Ring. He should get more roles. The beautiful cinematography here co-photographed by the late great Harris Savides reminds us cinephiles what a truly great loss he is to the medium.

Oscar Prospects: Wouldn't mind a push for Israel Broussard (probably Supporting Actor but he's really a Lead) and maybe a belated nom for Harris Savides wouldn't be completely undeserved.

Grade: B+

DESPICABLE ME 2
Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeong, Dana Gaier, Elsie Kate Fisher, Kristen Schaal, Nasim Pedrad, Moises Arias, Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud (voices).
Dirs: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud.

I liked this film just about as much as I liked the first one. It's fun. It's entertaining. There's some pretty neat visuals. There are clever gags. There's some great voice work. There are funny jokes. It's cute. Like the last one, those Minions are the best part of the film and they get plenty of screentime this time around. The rest of the film is just barely okay without them. It's a good thing they're getting their own film (or is it a bad thing? Sometimes things are only good in small doses/supporting roles). I have to say those adorable little creatures are genius creations. Deceptively simply in their design, their funny noises, physical humor and cute appearances are truly fun to watch.

Oscar Prospects: Since the first film didn't get a nomination, I doubt this one will.

Grade: B-

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:34 pm

The Way Way Back is definitely a minor movie, reminiscent of plenty of earlier Sundance hits and other young-man-comes-of-age efforts (all of which come with a conveniently pretty, understanding girl next store). But in this dread season it comes as something of a tonic, for a couple of reasons.

One is that the director/writers don't push the comic material; they let it spin lightly so that even characters that might be grating in a Hollywood effort are amusing instead (thinking primarily of Allison Janney, who, especially at the start, lights a fire under the movie). Even when the story goes in predictable directions, things don't get cloying.

The other big reason is, this is the best chance Sam Rockwell has ever had to break out as a movie presence. I know: he's consistently good -- but, for whatever reason, his career has never really taken off with a signature role. He's wonderful here; has most of the best lines, or at least makes it seem that way, with a perfect throwaway delivery. And he also creates a pretty rich character, one who's charismatic but also, I sensed, full of disappointment in himself. The movie makes it feel as if he'd be a wonderful guy to know when you're, like the main character, 14, but not anyone you'd want to hang around with your whole life. Letting us see a character in sharp relief like that, without overtly expositional speeches, is a fairly amazing feat. Rockwell's performance is (faint praise, I know) the most impressive I've seen so far this year.

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Re: The Official Review Thread of 2013

Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:29 am

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY
Cast: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Steve Buscemi, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Tyler Labine, Alfred Molina, John Krasinski, Bill Hader, Bobby Moynihan, Julia Sweeney, Noah Johnston, Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger, Betsy Behrs. (voices).
Dir: Dan Scanlon.

PIXAR's first prequel may not be up to the high standards of the Golden Years of the studio (1995-2010) but it's still a really, fun visually eye-popping (as usual) animated feature. The plot is straight out of many college frat comedies (minus the sex and alcohol) as Mike and Sulley lead an underdog frat to their university's scare games though to their credit, it's given a fresh twist here. The film introduces a lot of wonderful and interesting new characters and opens up the monsters' world quite nicely. It provides laughs but also has a surprising amount of depth.

Oscar Prospects: Could it get the Best Animated Feature Oscar that Shrek stole from the first one? Doubt it but who knows?

Grade: B+


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