Tag Archives: film reviews

The Artist (2011) Movie Review

Disclosure #1: I watched The Artist for the first time in the middle of a 14-hour trans-Pacific flight. I didn’t even have an aisle seat. Not the best conditions for enjoying quality film, but do not be mistaken–The Artist is certainly a quality film.

Of course, the Oscars have come and gone, and The Artist won basically everything. Naturally, the usual backlash against the film occurred before the ceremonies were even over.

Disclosure #2: I wasn’t rooting for The Artist. My personal favorites were Midnight in Paris and Tree of Life, but the French tribute to silent film was a shoo-in. Now having seen the film (finally!), it’s clear to me why it won. Not that I have anything against horses or baseball.

Much has been said about the sound–or lack thereof–in The Artist. As a silent film about silent film, the choice of background music and sound effects shines through each chiaroscuro scene.

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Thor (2011) Movie Review

After a ten-year break from directing, Kenneth Branagh has scored big with international hit Thor.  The movie retcons the history of Marvel’s Thor, key member of the eponymous team in 2012’s The Avengers. The action/superhero film stars Chris Hemsworth‘s abs*, and has been #1 for two weeks in a row here in the U.S.

As an early runner for this summer blockbuster season, Thor has set a high standard for the next few months. The movie was fun, energetic, visually arresting, and adequately epic in nature. It ran light on emotions, but there really wasn’t time enough for too much depth.

The purpose of this film was to set up the backstory for Thor, the character, so that audiences would understand, recognize, and automatically invest in the character when he appears in The Avengers.

Well, that was one of the purposes anyway. The other purpose was to make an obscene amount of money for everyone involved. Purpose fulfilled on that front. Continue reading

Avatar Movie Review

Do I need to spoiler-alert when the movie’s two years old? I assume most of you have seen this film, given it’s astounding blockbuster numbers.

I was late to the Avatar party, and I might have gone my entire life without seeing Toruk, the great leonopteryx.  I do admit, it would have been quite an empty life.

Sometimes, I lag in seeing new films. It took me months to see Inception, though I loved it from afar since the first preview. Unlike Inception, Avatar never quite captured my interest. Pocahontas with aliens? Fern Gully, but the trees are replaced with magical unobtanium? Color me unimpressed.

Having finally seen James Cameron’s science fiction fantasy, I can safely say that, while I didn’t love the movie, I liked it.

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Hanna Movie Review

Hands down, my favorite movie of 2011 so far. Of course, it’s only April, and I am, admittedly, a sucker for well-made action movies with female leads.

The movie is gripping, suspenseful, and I must commend The Chemical Brothers for sound mixing in this film (the latest in the trend of successful artists creating film scores–see Daft Punk, Trent Reznor, et. al).The pulsing, driving techno beats make the action sequences–especially the escape from a government facility–heart-thumpingly intense.

The entire segment conducted in the government facility is one of my favorite parts of the film, and not only for the music.

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The Kids Are All Right Review

So is the alt text.Hats off to Ms. Cholodenko for managing to create a film that dealt with many LGBT issues without being a movie solely focused on LGBT themes.

The kids are all right have two mothers, and it is refreshing to see the family act completely like the rest of mainstream America. There are arguments at the dinner table. An overachieving first child, a troublemaking younger child. Tension in the bedroom. An embarrassing and hilarious scene involving gay porn.

Then the children reach out to the sperm donor their mothers used to conceive.
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Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Review

I had heard buckets about Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives before it finally came to my part of town. Moving, ethereal, confusing, more art than film… I couldn’t miss it. Indeed, the film was all of those things.

Long title

French poster used because American promotional materials were, IMO, atrocious. Edit: Don’t hate me! My local theatre didn’t have the Chris Ware poster, but yes, that one is not at at all atrocious.

The film begins with a prolonged, and very dark*, sequence involving a water buffalo. Boonmee is dying, and he begins seeing his former lives. Is the water buffalo one of Boonmee’s past lives? What does it mean for his current life, if so?

The latter is the question that most interested me during and after watching this film. The movie is rife with what seem to be either flashbacks (to prior lives?) or dream sequences. Or perhaps, these vignettes are merely side stories attached to the main narrative for perspective or distraction. Just as we are wondering what impact Boonmee’s past lives have on his current, we must also wonder what impact these bits of dream have on the main narrative.

The mystical nature of the quasi-dream world leaks into the real world, as Boonmee’s wife’s ghost appears at the dining table. Their son also appears, having transformed himself into a “monkey demon.” The reaction at the dining table is probably the only laugh-out-loud scene in the movie, so it is a pity that almost every review spoils the admittedly funny line.

I spent at least a third of the movie with my mouth gaping in surprise.  Continue reading

Inception Review

“I never sleep on planes. I don’t want to be incepted.” – “Jack” on 30 Rock

These people are so pretty.

I remember the Inception ad campaign pre-release. First there was that bizarre 20 second promo that told you nothing other than that Chris Nolan was directing some new flashy action movie and it was probably going to Blow Your Mind. Then slightly longer promos where the audience discovered that everyone – literally, everyone – was going to be in this movie: Leo, JGL, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy (always a plus, in my book), Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, and even Michael Caine.

The promos started getting longer. Media hype grew to a frenzy. Everyone was going to see this movie.

Me? I was ready to watch it after the first previews. I love – love – movies like Inception. Action thrillers or slow, creeping dramas with twists and turns and surprise endings that still leave you guessing. I am also a fan of all the actors previously listed. Nolan, I can take or leave, but I haven’t watched Memento*.

I was excited. However, as the media frenzy escalated, I became less and less enthused by the prospect of watching this film. By the time I had time to watch the movie, everyone had already seen it, and I decided not to bother until it showed up on Netflix.

After months of diligently avoiding spoilers, let me present some to you here, in my Unified Theory of Inception. Continue reading