Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Review: The Rum Diary (2011)

* *

Director: Bruce Robinson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michael Rispoli, Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard, Giovanni Ribisi

The Rum Diary has the feeling of being a labour of love. Originally set to begin filming in 2000, the project ended up stuck in development hell until finally being filmed in early 2009 and then having its release delayed until now. The novel on which the film is based has a similar history, having been written by Hunter S. Thompson in 1961 but not being published until 1998. The film version plays like a love letter to Thompson, but one which unfortunately never reaches a level of cohesiveness that matches its affection.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Training Day (2001)

* * * 1/2

Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke

In terms of bad movie cops, Denzel Washington's Alonzo Harris ranks right up there with Popeye Doyle and The Lieutenant from Bad Lieutenant. Crooked and violent, he completely undermines the concept of "to serve and protect," a concept which his new partner, Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke), considers as gospel. Bad cops and mismatched partners are nothing new in the world of fiction, of course, but few such stories have been brought to life with as much intensity as Antoine Fuqua's Training Day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

* * *

Director: Jake Kasdan
Starring: John C. Reilly

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is, quite possibly, the most underrated comedy of the last five years. I remember seeing trailers for it when it was out in theatres and thinking that it looked really lame, but it's actually pretty much entirely awesome from beginning to end. Written by Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan (who also directs), this is a sharp and hilarious send up of the musical biography genre.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)

* * * *

Director: Werner Herzog

I hate 3D. Really, really hate it. Nine times out of ten, I think it's completely unnecessary and little more than a money grab. But then there's that tenth time, that film that makes you grateful that 3D technology exists. Werner Herzog's documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams is one of those films, a spellbinding and thoroughly awe inspiring film about art and its capacity to bridge unfathomable temporal distances, drawing the echoes of the past into the present.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Review: The Ides of March (2011)

* * * 1/2

Director: George Clooney
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, George Clooney, Evan Rachel Wood, Marissa Tomei

"Because how one ought to live is so far removed from how one lives that he who lets go of what is done for that which one ought to do sooner learns ruin than his own preservation: because a man who might want to make a show of goodness in all things necessarily comes to ruin among so many who are not good. Because of this it is necessary for a prince, wanting to maintain himself, to learn how to be able to be not good and to use this and not use it according to necessity."
- Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Meek's Cutoff (2011)

* * * 1/2

Director: Kelly Reichardt
Starring: Michelle Williams

Kelly Reichardt's Meek's Cutoff is the kind of movie that only a cinephile could really like. It is minimalist to the extreme and consists of a lot of scenes which are simply long shots of people in pioneer garb walking through the desert, growing increasingly despondent. It's the kind of film that could easily be called pretentious were it not for Reichardt's abilities as a craftsman.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: The Conspirator (2011)

* * *

Director: Robert Redford
Starring: James McAvoy, Robin Wright

History is not linear; it’s circular. What goes around comes around again and again, which means that the best way to understand the events of the present is to look towards the past. Though Robert Redford’s The Conspirator takes place in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, it is equally about the current war on terror and the way that governments and the public react in times of uncertainty and political instability. At its core, the explores the question of how liberty can be of any value when governments can suspend during the times when it is needed the most.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

* * 1/2

Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal

Sometimes you just have to turn off your brain in order to enjoy a movie. If you actually thought about it and took it seriously, Roland Emmerich's disaster epic The Day After Tomorrow... well, actually, you can't take it seriously. It's an inescapably silly movie. It is quite possibly even sillier than the parody version South Park did. The good news is that none of that means that the film is without a bit of entertainment value.