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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Review: Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

* * * *
Director: Benh Zeitlin
Starring: Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry

Sometimes a film has to sit with your for a while before you grasp how special it is, and sometimes that specialness is immediately apparent. Such is the case with Ben Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild (adapted by Zeitlan and Lucy Alibar from Alibar's play "Juicy and Delicious"), a vibrant and fiercely original fantasy drama. I strongly suspect that come the end of the year, this is a film we'll see on a lot of critic's lists and picking up a lot of awards.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Dance Movies (Without Singing)

#5: Footloose

Everybody cut, everybody cut! Yeah, the story of Footloose, about a town which has outlawed dancing and the spunky teens who challenge the establishment, is pretty dumb but it remains a lot of fun.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: Jarhead (2005)

* * *

Director: Sam Mendes
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx

That war is hell has been demonstrated by countless movies of greater and lesser quality. In most films that hell is characterized by dodging death during nearly every minute, but in Jarhead it's characterized by the inherent boredom of not dodging death and trying to fill countless days in the desert. Jarhead isn't your typical war movie and while it falls short of the profundity to which it aspires, it's a solid piece of work from the most bizarrely underrated Oscar winning director working today.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

* * * 1/2

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I already feel bad for whomever is tasked with the inevitable reboot of the Batman franchise because even if they turn out a competent and perfectly fine film, it’s bound to suffer in comparison. What writer/director Christopher Nolan accomplished with his three Batman films so completely transcends genre limitations and expectations that it feels reductive to call the films “comic book movies” or action movies, and it’s difficult to imagine that a new take on the story can be anything but a disappointment. With The Dark Knight Rises Nolan brings his series to a close, and brings it full circle, leaving an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday's Top 5... Scenes from Christopher Nolan's Batman Series

#5: Batman Begins: Tumbler Scene

One of the most exhilarating scenes of Batman Begins, in which Batman demonstrates what the tumbler can do on the streets, and the rooftops, of Gotham. The sequence is all the more impressive when you consider that Nolan eschews CGI in favor of traditional stunt work.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

* * * *

Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Danny Glover, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray

"Family isn't a word... it's a sentence." Such was the tagline for Wes Anderson's 2001 gem The Royal Tenenbaums, a whimsical film about a toxic family that comes together after years of estrangement. Featuring a pitch perfect cast and arguably the most quotable screenplay of the first decade of this century, this instant classic is a movie you can watch again and again without it losing any of its luster.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Canadian Film Review: Take This Waltz (2012)

* * *

Director: Sarah Polley
Starring: Michelle Williams, Luke Kirby, Seth Rogan

It's difficult to think of Take This Waltz without comparing it to writer/director Sarah Polley's previous film, Away From Her, or to star Michelle Williams' previous film about an unhappy marriage, Blue Valentine (not to mention the wealth of other stories of this kind). Taken in consideration with those films, Take This Waltz is a bit of a disappointment. Taken on its own terms, it's a perfectly fine, though never great, film about restlessness in the face of commitment and finality (and, hey, if Williams is in danger of becoming the cinematic patron saint of unhappy wives, at least she finds different notes to play in each of them).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Review: Something New (2006)

* * *

Director: Sanaa Hamri
Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker

Sanaa Hamri's feature film debut Something New may be a trifle, but it's a delightful one. It plays to the familiar beats of the romantic comedy genre, offering nothing new thematically, but at least providing a fresh perspective on the old tropes. That films of its kind are so rare is a shame.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Canada Day Top Five... Canadian Movies

#5: My Winnipeg

Ostensibly a documentary about Winnipeg, My Winnipeg is instead a documentary about how director Guy Maddin feels about his hometown. Blending history and fantasy and that particular Maddin flair, this is an especially delightful and often moving film.