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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Great Shots From Mirror Mirror...

... That nevertheless fail to make me want to see it.


Although Tarsem Singh's films would appear to be getting progressively shallower on a thematic level, you can still expect something visually great, with...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: The Muppets (2011)

* * *

Director: James Bobin
Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams

At times it's difficult to say who The Muppets is really geared to, a new generation of young viewers, or older viewers looking for a hit of nostalgia. I'd give the edge to the nostalgia crowd, but ultimately The Muppets is a film that can appeal to viewers of all ages. Although it is not without a few weaknesses, it's one of the more entertaining musical comedies to come out in quite a while.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Carnage (2011)

* * * 1/2

Director: Roman Polanski
Starring: Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly

In Luis Bunuel's The Exterminating Angel, guests arrive at a home for a dinner party, enter a room, and then find that they cannot leave. Nothing impedes them from leaving the room; they simply find that they cannot step out. Carnage, based on the play God of Carnage is a lot like that, focusing on four characters who, despite their growing need to be away from each other, find that they just can't leave the Brooklyn apartment which belongs to two of them. As politeness gives way to long simmering resentments, the apartment becomes a battleground of upper middleclass problems.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Scariest Movie Dystopias

#5: Idiocracy

"Scary" because sometimes it seems like it could easily happen. It depicts a world in which idiots have out-bred the intelligent, resulting in an anti-intellectual society that can barely function and is covered in garbage and where a sports drink has replaced water both as a beverage and as a means of irrigating crops. Oh, and Luke Wilson is the smartest guy in the world. I mean, c'mon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Jack and Jill (2011)


Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Adam Sandler

Yes, this happened. Don't ask me how. I'm not proud. Please... look away...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Puss In Boots (2011)

* * *

Director: Chris Miller
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifinakis

After four films the Shrek franchise may have run out of steam, but luckily there was some life left in one of the series' break out characters, the eponymous swashbuckling cat. A delightful if thematically slight film, Puss In Boots is a terrific addition to the much-loved franchise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

* * * 1/2

Director: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly

The obvious question that arises from We Need To Talk About Kevin is "why," though it doesn't get asked until the end and the answer remains vague. The film, which charts the lead up to and aftermath of a school massacre, offers no simple answers or comforting solutions. It's a harsh film in many ways, one in which none of the characters comes out looking particularly good, but it's also a thought-provoking and masterfully acted film that ought to be seen.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: A Separation (2011)

* * * *

Director: Asghar Farhadi
Starring: Peyman Moaadi, Leila Hatami

It's hard to define what makes a movie great. If there was an exact science to it, we'd be overwhelmed by cinematic greatness all year round, but that's not the case because "greatness" is a precious quality, one that cannot be engineered, but has to be left somewhat to chance. What all great films have in common, though, is that they resonate, striking a chord in the human experience. Asghar Farhadi's Oscar winning A Separation is one of those great films, a story of moral and emotional complexity that transcends its particular political context to become something universal.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Movies Inspired By Pulp Adventures

#5: The Shadow

The Alec Baldwin-starring adaptation of Walter B. Gibson's stories about a crime fighter with psychic powers was a box office bomb (and didn't do much better with critics), but has since become something of a cult classic.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: Take Shelter (2011)

* * * *

Director: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain

Take Shelter is a horror film in which no one dies, a psychological story that cares more about instilling a deep set feeling of dread in you than giving you the temporary scares that come from creatures popping out behind corners and massive gore. It's a well acted and perfectly crafted piece of work and so terrifically unsettling that I believe will one day be considered a classic of its genre.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: A Better Life (2011)

* * *

Director: Chris Weitz
Starring: Demian Bichir, Jose Julian

When Demian Bichir earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in A Better Life, it took a lot of people by surprise. It's such a low key, low profile movie, particularly when compared to some of the much talked about films that failed to net nominations for their actors, and things only get more surprising when you realize that this gentle drama comes from the director of such bombastic fare as Twilight: New Moon and The Golden Compass. Once you see the film, however, it's easy to understand how Bichir's performance gained enough notice to earn a nomination as it is so wonderfully naturalisitc and incredibly moving.