I don’t know if I picked that circus. But something told me that circus picked me.
I was so pumped to see this film you have no idea. I loved Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In (which was given an American remake released last year, Let Me In) and the cast was literally INSANE. The cast list was a who’s who of spectacular character actors, most of whom are highly underappreciated. You’ve got Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Stephen Graham, and the list goes on and on. The trailer looked spectacular, the reviews were excellent, and I was just ready to be blown away by this movie.
The theater I went to see this at is a broken down old theater that nobody except for senior citizens and the film crowd really goes to. The theater had no heater so it was pretty chilly while watching this film, which I actually think greatly improved the dramatic atmosphere of the film lol.
It seems that there has been a disconnect between International critics and American critics about this movie. Internationally this film has been getting rave reviews, whereas domestically it has been getting more lukewarm reviews.
I’ve heard people say that this film was cold/austere and they’re pretty much on the money. It is hard to garner an emotional response or connection from the events that transpire when we are given so little reason to care. These characters are merely enigmas with very little insight into their motivations. There’s a scene early on with the brilliant Ciaran Hinds (who was criminally underused in this film) where he basically says “We’re the only people coming between World War III,” but we never see exactly how close they actually are to actually starting a world war.
What is great about this film is how subtle it is and the lack of explanations for certain things. There are several small little visual cues or bits of dialogue that the movie just expects you to understand. This makes you listen and watch the film twice as closely as you would with most regular films. If you’re easily bored or not a patient viewer, this movie will put you off. Take a few minutes or sometimes even a few seconds of your attention off the film and you will have no clue what is going on.
There were some sequences in this film that had me completely hooked. My eyes were locked onto the screen and completely locked into what was going on. The espionage sequences were just crafted so well. Each little story told felt like its own short film. I especially admired the Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman segments. The opening scene with Mark Strong is so fantastic that I thought I was in for what would easily be one of the best films of the year.
What ultimately prevents this film from being an incredible film is how unengaging most of the characters are. There is a lack of personality and motivation from almost every single character introduced. It is hard to get attached to the proceedings of the film or any character involved when everyone just plays it mysterious. It feels so anticlimactic when the spy is revealed. Maybe that was done intentionally, but it doesn’t make for a satisfying movie going experience and the follow up explanation is so nonchalant and casual that I couldn’t discern what the spy’s ultimate purpose was. Every single character moment feels rushed and unearned. What saves the movie from being a total waste is that every single actor puts in amazing work. You can’t watch this film and NOT be impressed by the acting that’s for sure, but I don’t think you’ll ever garner any real emotional response to the story or characters.
Ultimately, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is not nearly as rewarding or amazing as I hoped it would be, but I did find much to like about this film. While the characters and the payoff may leave much to be desired, the entire cast is firing on all cylinders and Tomas Alfredson provides such cool, guided direction throughout. If you do see this, don’t expect a masterpiece and make sure you pay attention, otherwise you won’t get much out of this film.
I seem to be one of the few people I know who likes this movie >_>. And I wasn’t coming into this film in the best of spirits. First off, War Horse was very long so I was kind of tired and I was extremely annoyed at the amount of disruptions during that film; so by all accounts if The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was boring or not good, I would have completely lost interest, but I didn’t. I was hooked into everything right from the start and didn’t lose interest once during the 2 hour and 38 minute runtime.
I’ve seen the 2009 Swedish adaptation and while the plot points are similar, I think that Fincher adds just enough to make this his own. First off the acting is phenomenal, Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are fantastic as the leads, and, secondly, Fincher is as meticulous a director as they come and the way the film is pieced together is a work of art.
Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara are just infinitely watchable leads. Craig does a great job as Mikael Blomkvist, but this is clearly the Rooney Mara show because she OWNS every second of screen time that she gets as Lisbeth Salander. There is a reason this trilogy of books has become one of the most popular books in recent years and Lisbeth Salander is it. She is just such a fascinating antihero; An enigma that you want to find out more about and Mara plays it perfectly. She is a world of contradictions: intimidating but soft hearted, cold but affectionate, indifferent but caring; Lisbeth is one of the most interesting characters ever created.
A big reason this film works despite using the exact same story adapted just a few years ago is David Fincher. Fincher is known as a perfectionist, sometimes he’ll do up to 80 takes of a scene in order to get it 100% PERFECT. Some may criticize him for this approach, but Fincher is a director who knows EXACTLY what he wants and that always comes through in his films. When you watch a scene, everything feels like it was done with careful thought and purpose. The way Fincher puts this film together keeps you interested in everything going on and keeps the film moving at a swift pace. He showed this skill in Seven, but Fincher has a knack for making what should be boring - like say… gathering clues by looking through books - extremely exciting.
A lot of the problems of the film are due to the fact that the book itself has similar problems with structure and plot mechanics. This film streamlines some of the side relationships which helps a lot, but it also doesn’t tie the main relationships together strongly enough. As with the Swedish adaptation, I don’t think they ever fully establish just how much Harriet’s disappearance tore at Henrik’s soul. There’s maybe a scene or two, but Henrik vanishes for a good 90-100 minutes in the middle to focus on the investigation. I also found it odd that a few huge discoveries that break open the case in the book and the Swedish version become minor plot points in this one.
I do wish that there was a little more attention to detail on the villains of this film. The book does a great job of building up those characters by showing us how they came to be, whereas in the movie it seems like they’re just crazy demented motherfuckers who are sick in the head. Even in the Swedish movie they had one scene where they discussed the psychology behind these kind of people. Disappointing that they didn’t delve into that in this film.
David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an engrossing film that draws you into the mystery of the disappearance of a young girl. While there are some flaws with the plot mechanics of the film, the superb performances and stellar direction propel the story. I will say that if you have no idea what The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is, this movie is not for the faint of heart and it keeps up the tension throughout the film. If you’re looking for a great thriller over this winter break, give The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a shot.
Just a few details I want to get into to that contains spoilers. So don’t click on “read more” unless you’ve seen the movie and read the book!Read more
The second team up between the director and writer of Juno, Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody. That was an indie that blew up and even received a Best Picture nomination in 2007 (which I thought was bullshit, but that’s another story lol, 2007 was SO GOOD for film), would their follow up be as satisfying? I actually liked Juno, but it’s a good film at best, not great. Putting that film up against 2007, let alone movies in general, it’s not that amazing. Young Adult is a much more compelling and entertaining film than Juno.
The main set up of Young Adult is that Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron) goes back to her hometown in an effort to win back her ex-boyfriend (Patrick Wilson), who is happily married with a child.
Let’s just start off by saying that Charlize Theron’s performance is remarkable. She is fully committed to Mavis Gary and this shockingly crass mess of a person. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Charlize Theron as the main character of a film so it’s nice to see that she still has the acting chops to pull a role like this off. Mavis is a character who just cannot let go of the past and the ideal reality she believes she deserves to have.
This film contains a slew of great performances from under the radar actors. I loved Patrick Wilson and Elizabeth Reaser as the typical suburban couple. Especially towards the end of the film where they really get a chance to shine. Patton Oswalt as Matt Freehauf was fantastic as the counterpart to Charlize Theron. He is the other character who is so caught up in his past that it weighs him down.
While I found Charlize Theron’s character to be fascinating, she bordered the line of believability at times. I don’t doubt that there are people who are as egotistical and narcissistic, but she’s pretty much bat shit insane lol. That’s definitely part of the appeal of this film, the whole cringe worthy embarrassment comedy tone. What I like is that the film doesn’t just create this crazy character, we get small little glimpses into her life and see how she became this way. She’s an author of semi-popular young adult novels, she’s “beautiful” by society’s standards, and her world is warped by the kitsch of modern day pop culture. The Diet Coke eye openers and reality TV constantly playing in the background should give you a clue as to what her values are in life. Much credit must be given to writer Diablo Cody who clearly has improved since her Juno script.
The main idea I got out of this film is that people see the world the way that they want to see it. So many people in this film (and in real life) are so caught up in the past that it allows them to overlook the good in the present. Mavis Gary is so caught up in her own past and oblivious to the fact that her ex-boyfriend is clearly happily settled down and Matt Freehauf is so caught up on one incident in his past; it doesn’t allow them to fully grow as people and live normal happy lives.. The film also strangely enough reminded me of The Wire and the ultimate message of that TV show with institutions and how things typically don’t change.
Young Adult is a cringe inducing (in a good way) embarrassment comedy that you can’t keep your eyes off of. It’s like when you watch a TV show or movie and something so embarrassing happens that you have to cringe or close your eyes slightly, but you keep on watching the train wreck unfold. What does unfold in this movie is pure hilarity and a savagely depressing streak about the unfulfilled lives of those stuck in the past. Young Adult also happens to be one of the more thought provoking films of the year. I would highly recommend this movie because I think everyone will get something different out of it.
There’s one bit that’s spoilery that I want to get into, so don’t hit “read more” unless you’ve seen Young Adult AND Juno.Read more
Some of these movies I actually enjoyed somewhat but ended up not living up to the expectations I had. Also, just so you know these are my subjective picks for disappointing films, not an offical “these were the DEFINITIVE disappointing movies of 2011.”
10. The Hangover 2 - 2/10
The only reason this movie isn’t higher on this list is because I had a feeling that it was going to be a train wreck and good God it did not disappoint in that respect. This is one of the most utterly worthless movie experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I liked the first Hangover film, but it wasn’t THE FUNNIEST MOVIE EVER for me like it apparently was for many others. When I heard they were making a sequel, everything about it just screamed cash grab to me and I was 100% right on the money with that assumption. It’s like they literally took 30 minutes to write out the basic story structure on cocktail napkins and just recycle everything from the first with no ingenuity. Complete trash and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went back to milk the cow for a third one SMH…
9. Transformers: Dark of the Moon - 6/10
To be honest, I enjoyed quite a bit of Transformers 3, but that doesn’t mean the movie as a whole was good. The only reason this wasn’t higher on my list is because after Transformers 2, my expectations were dwindled quite a bit. I remained cautiously optimistic after the trailers for this one hit because it looked good, but so did Transformers 2 from the trailers. The CGI, 3D effects, and action were all pretty good, but anything tying those things to any resemblance of a plot or characters was utter shit. If this movie was a 100 minute balls to the wall action excursion, I would’ve loved this movie, but instead we got a bloated 153 minute movie filled with inane story beats and unfunny gags.
8. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - 6/10
I generally liked the first Sherlock Holmes film. It was light on the detective work and a little more heavy on the slow motion and action, but it was a fun romp. All I wanted out of the sequel was more of the same, but what I got was an over the top version of the first one with even less heart and brain. I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed it as a popcorn action flick, but when I see that “Sherlock Holmes” name on the title I kind of expect more than just that.
7. Cowboys & Aliens - 6/10
Another film that I still found enjoyment in as a popcorn flick, but considering the pedigree of the people involved one would expect the next great summer blockbuster. Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), executive produced by Steven Spielberg, produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, and starring a plethora of the biggest names in Hollywood including Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, etc. Those filmmakers with that cast should have created something incredible, instead we got a lukewarm film that is totally forgettable.
6. Cars 2 - 5/10
It’s Pixar… these guys have never made a bad movie. Cars was easily their worst film, but it was still enjoyable. When they said they were making a sequel to Cars though, I started hearing those sirens go off in head that screamed “CASH GRAB!” I knew that Disney made billions off the toy licensing of Cars and making a sequel would be a good excuse to make even MORE. I had faith in Pixar though because they wouldn’t just make a movie to make money, but maybe I was wrong. After the first 10 minutes of this movie and the opening action set piece I thought “Fuck the critics! This is going to be awesome!”, but then everything else hapened. Whoever thought it was a good idea to make Mater the main character really needs to have their fucking head cut off. This movie would have been bearable had he not been in it. Pixar’s next film Brave looks worlds better than Cars 2, so hopefully they’ll be back on the ball this year because Dreamworks Animation has been kicking their asses lately with the Kung Fu Panda series and How to Train Your Dragon. As David Chen from the /Filmcast put it: “2011 was the year we saw a Brett Ratner film reviewed better than the Pixar film,” and that is a fucking shame.
5. Pirates 4 - 4/10
Fuck everyone involved in this fucking movie. I thought that now that they didn’t have to worry about multiple plotlines and wrapping up everyone’s story that we could finally get a Pirates of the Caribbean movie on par with The Curse of the Black Pearl. Clearly I was wrong. This is one of the most lifeless movies I have ever seen in my life. The most I can say for this movie is that I didn’t fall asleep and the mermaid sequence was cool, but that’s about it. Whoever decided that Captain Jack should be THE main character should kill themselves (he was always a brilliant diversion from the Will/Elizabeth plotline). Whoever decided that having Penelope Cruz on board should be beaten down. Whoever cast the bad ass motherfucker that is Ian McShane and then decided to not have him do anything needs to be savagely eaten by panthers. As my friend once said, “Rob Marshall can eat a fat one,” FUCK THAT GUY. Also, Sam Claflin, I really hope you’re in like 10 minutes of Snow White and the Huntsman because you really fucking suck. FUCK THIS MOVIE!
4. Green Lantern - 4/10
It takes a lot for me to get bored during a movie, but I was bored as hell during Green Lantern. I checked my watch about a dozen times during this movie and couldn’t believe how brutally slow it was going. One cool action set piece does not redeem your entire movie of crap. Martin Campbell… what the fuck, man? The cast is talented but entirely miscast; in what world does Ryan Reynold, Blake Lively, and Peter Sarsgaard (who all look about a decade older than another) grow up together!? One of the most uninspired films I’ve seen in a long time.
3. In Time - 6/10
I enjoyed In Time somewhat, but I can’t help but be disappointed because Andrew Niccol wrote The Truman Show which is one of my favorite movies ever. I guess I shouldn’t be as disappointed as I was because I thought Lord of War was all right and that was also written/directed by Niccol, but the concept of this film was so cool! I was so disappointed at how little he got out of this premise, hopefully someone remakes it in a few decades.
2. Warrior - 6.5/10
Probably the best movie in this entire bunch, but the reason it’s so high on this list is because I expected an AMAZING movie. Critics unabashedly LOVED this movie and I had heard things like “Warrior does for MMA what Rocky did for boxing,” THAT is the level I expected this film to get to and I don’t think it ever got there. The performances from the main three actors were phenomenal, but everything else about this movie felt so trite and tired. They were just laying on the cliches and stereotypes so thick that I couldn’t buy it. Also, I have no idea what the people who are praising the fights in this film are talking about because I thought the fight choreography was horrendous. Shake the cam as much as you can and cut to so many different angles that you can’t even tell who just got thrown down or who’s winning! Do it over and over again! NOW! Not to mention the fact that the fights for each brother are EXACTLY the same! They might as well have shown us the EXACT SAME fight on replay leading up the championship. The only thing this movie had going for it was not knowing which brother would win but after seeing each fight end in EXACTLY the same way, the movie shows its hand and removes that element.
1. Battle: Los Angeles - 3/10
An amalgamation of the worst that Hollywood has to offer. I can imagine the conversations that took place before this film was greenlighted by the studio a few years back. “What do people want to see? Well District 9 just did really well, we could make it about aliens. Yeah! We’ll make a sci-fi action flick where aliens invade. Okay, what about the story? We’ll throw in one for everybody! The sergeant who comes back for ONE last job! The young upstart who thinks he’s prepared to be a leader but finds that in the heat of the moment he’s not! Bonus point, he has a pregnant wife as well! The guy who’s about to be married! The virgin guy! The guy who messed up on the last mission and has to redeem himself!” The trailer for this film was SO GOOD, but the movie ended being such a colossal waste of time.
Here’s to better films in 2012 (hopefully).
After a 3 year absence Steven Spielberg hit us with not one, but TWO movies in a single year. Not only that, but he released them a mere 4 days apart in America. The first to come out was The Adventures of Tintin and the second was the World War I drama War Horse. I loved Tintin, but how would Spielberg’s first war movie since Saving Private Ryan fare?
War Horse probably ranks in the middle his filmography in my opinion. It is still quite an enjoyable film, but nothing that will remembered quite as fondly as his other war films such as Schindler’s List or Saving Private Ryan.
I’m going to sound like a goon saying this, but clocking in at 146 minutes, this movie moves brutally slow at some parts. The beginning didn’t really have a hook that got you interested right out of the gate. Once the war gets underway, the film picked up in a pace, although the balance between the stories of our war horse and protagonist wasn’t always there.
War Horse feels too polished, slick, and “Hollywood” at times. The lighting felt very artificial as if they wanted to get perfect Hollywood style lighting. As beautiful as the film was and as great as some of the shots were, the glossiness was a bit distracting for me. Considering how grim in nature some of the content was, that Hollywood feel felt a bit off.
As grim as the film can be, I was greatly surprised at how much humor there was in this movie. If you look at the trailers it just looks like a serious war movie, but there are some nice lighter moments that feel pure Spielberg. I liked the fact that this movie does not shy away from the nastier, more depressing aspects of war. There are several moments where I thought to myself “No, no, no! Please don’t let that happen!” and it did and it crushed my heart. A few of those moments were just executed so spectacularly.
The top rate cast adds a lot of gravitas to the smaller roles. I thought Eddie Marsan was criminally underused (same as his role in Sherlock Holmes 2), ever since Happy-Go-Lucky I’ve always wanted to see him in more roles. Toby Kebbell (the Rocknrolla himself) has a great segment near the end of the second act. Emily Mortimer as the mother in particular was quite great, adding a fierceness to the matriarch of the family. Peter Mullan is another actor I’ve been looking out for (ever since I saw On a Clear Day) and he does well as the war veteran father. David Thewlis was awesome in his little side role as a total douchebag haha. I thought Jeremy Irvine as the lead suited himself admirably as well.
One thing that completely helps this entire film is the fact that it feels like Spielberg left his imprint on it. There is so much in this movie that is inherently Spielberg. From the transitions, the shots, the movement of the camera, to the wonder of it all, this feels like a Spielberg film through and through.
War Horse is a film that I would recommend to anyone; I had a good time at the theaters watching this film. Whenever Steven Spielberg releases a film, you almost owe it to yourself to catch it in theaters because it’s clear that the man is so in love with movies and the movie going public. War Horse will depress you at times, but it will also make you feel good. There are several moments that are just pure movie magic, something that Spielberg is adept at catching on film. Definitely go see this film if you’re interested.
(And yes I bumped my score from what I previously put lol)Read more
First off let’s note the films I haven’t seen and my honorable mentions.
Still need to see: http://inezco.tumblr.com/post/14720890639/2011-in-film (note: I’ve caught up on SOME of those movies in that list).
- Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
- Young Adult
- Kung Fu Panda 2
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- The Adventures of Tintin
- Attack the Block
- Midnight in Paris
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
That being said I have seen 60 movies released theatrically in 2011 and these are my 10 favorites! Let’s begin!
10. Win Win - “Whatever the fuck it takes!”
Tom McCarthy’s Win Win sounds very plain from the synopsis (a down on his luck family man takes in a troubled teenage wrestler), but just like another fantastic American director, Alexander Payne (more on him later), McCarthy manages to get to the heart of the story and explore complex characters with questions of morality. Paul Giamatti puts in a nuanced performance as a man who has to decide what the “right thing” to do is. McCarthy is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors and Win Win is just yet another fantastic film from him.
9. Rango - “No man can walk out on his own story…”
Rango is one of the nice surprises on this list because I never would have guessed before the year started that this movie would have come anywhere near my top 20, let alone my top 10. Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp managed to put together an animated adventure that annihilates the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels in terms of action, adventure, and fun. Johnny Depp’s voice acting in particular is chameleon like in how deftly he becomes this character Rango.
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - “Always.”
One of the most emotional movie going experiences of my entire life, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will always have a special place in my heart. As a lifelong Harry Potter fan it was somehow depressing and joyous at the same time. When the credits rolled I just had this big smile on my face because I couldn’t help but be drawn into this story and be moved. This is blockbuster franchise filmmaking at its finest and I’m glad that I got to see it all from the inception.
7. 50/50 - “I’m just probably having a nervous breakdown…”
This story about a man who fights cancer is one of the most affecting films I’ve seen all year. What I love most about this film is how it proves that you don’t need a big budget, fancy CGI, insane action, or a high concept premise to make a legitimate great film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a brutally honest performance and the movie just makes you want to go out and live life to the fullest.
6. Hanna - “I just missed your heart.”
Hanna is a film about a teenage assassin out for revenge and the end result is glorious. Joe Wright and the actors make the most of every single second of this film. The acting is refreshingly subtle and rich, the action choreography is insane, the score by The Chemical Brothers is fantastic, and Joe Wright’s direction throughout is top flight. Combining art house sensibilities with fairytale like themes, Hanna is one of the most interesting films of the year.
5. The Artist - “If only you would let me help you, George Valentin.”
A black and white silent film in 2011? If you were like me, when you found that out you said to yourself “WHAAAAAA?” The Artist manages to outdo most modern “talkies” and do in silence what other films could only wish to achieve with dialogue. Even in silence, this movie managed to garner a bigger emotional response from me than most other movies released in 2011. A charming film that reminds us of the way that things used to be done and how it can still be just as satisfying.
4. The Tree of Life - “Unless you love, your life will flash by…”
The Tree of Life is as intriguing a film as any I’ve seen in my entire life. It sacrifices a typical movie narrative for grander overarching themes of nature versus grace. While this movie may not suit most of the movie going public, I believe that everyone should watch this film at least once to see what you can get out of it. Terrence Malick isn’t interested in applying to conventional movieisms, but instead wishes to explore what makes us who we are in life.
3. Drive - “If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours, no matter what. I don’t sit in while you’re running it down. I don’t carry a gun. I drive.”
Drive takes stock action heist thriller cliches and makes them fresh with a blend of slick direction, minimal dialogue, an incredible score, and an ultra cool vibe that permeates throughout the film. Ryan Gosling’s understated performance as the Driver centers the events of the entire film. Nicolas Winding Refn’s throwbacks to classic driving films and his own unique vision add much to what should have been a typical heist film. Even as it pays homage to the films before it, Drive still manages to make itself one of the most original pictures to come in a long time.
2. Hugo - “If you lose your purpose, it’s like you’re broken.”
A film that will speak volumes to cinema lovers around the world. Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is truly a passionate love letter to the wonders of film. This movie explores the medium of film and the purpose of art in our lives. It speaks to so much about what makes us who we are and why that is important. Plus, it also includes one of my favorites lines ever, “You don’t like books!?”, brilliant!
1. The Descendants - “Do they think we’re immune to life? How can they think our families are less screwed up? Our heartaches less painful?”
Alexander Payne is truly one of the best directors of his generation. He goes beyond just making movies and gets at the heart of what makes people who they are and why it is they do what they do. The Descendants contains everything that makes up life: joy, sadness, heartache, laughter, and Alexander Payne just understands how to translate everything about life and put it to the screen for us to watch, enjoy, and examine for ourselves. It hits all the highs in life and never forgets to remind us that the lows are just as important as the highs. It’s a damn shame that Payne isn’t a more prolific director because he’s made some of the most entertaining and thought provoking films of the past 2 decades.
So that’s my top 10 of 2011! If you read through my entire list, thank you! And I hope that you consider watching some of these films if you haven’t seen them already. I’m super excited to see what 2012 in film will bring us!
I have never seen a full length silent film before so I didn’t really have any sort of measuring stick as far as what I expected. I was extremely curious to see how this film would do because almost everyone nowadays is used to seeing movies with dialogue. This film has garnered a ton of critical acclaim so far and seems to be the front runner for the Oscar for Best Picture and after seeing this film, I can definitely see why.
In a way, acting with no dialogue can be easier because you don’t have to worry about good writing, remembering lines, or getting the right tone/inflection; in another way it is much more difficult because you only have so much to work with and that’s what I find most impressive about this film. Through the use of just visuals combined with a sweeping score and minimal text dialogue, they are able to garner even more emotions than most films with actual dialogue.
The two leads of the film, Jean Dujarin and Berenice Bejo, just seem like they were cut from a different cloth. They both have faces and demeanors that reek of Hollywood past. Even with no dialogue, they’re so expressive with everything else at their disposal. They are able to convey the personality of characters without outright telling us. One of the rules of cinema that I usually abide by is “show us, don’t tell us,” and The Artist as a silent film obviously adheres to this rule. I wouldn’t be surprised if both Dujarin and Bejo receive some Oscar love this coming Spring.
I’ve heard complaints about the film being too self masturbatory about cinema and not providing enough creativity for the future of film, but I highly disagree. Yes, this film is reflective on the fact that silent films used to be prevalent before the introduction of “talkies,” but I think that the overall message of the film does support looking towards the future. George Valentin is stuck in the past with his silent films and does nothing to support the new medium of talking pictures. The final shot alone signifies that movie makers should look to new enhancements and technologies to improve the movie going experience.
The Artist has been one of the best theater experiences I’ve had this year, maybe one of the best in my entire life. It is a unique experience to see a new silent film made with all the hindsight of having an additional 80+ years of cinema to draw on. If you’ve never seen a full length silent film and are apprehensive about whether or not it can work in today’s day and age, you owe it to yourself to experience this film. A delectable experience that is just as powerful (if not more) as any film you will see this year.
“Unless you love, your life will flash by.”
Just watched Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life on Blu-ray (which is 15 bucks for the Blu-ray/DVD combo set, plug, plug, plug! lol) and was kind of blown away by it. The last time I was this captured and immersed by a film is probably Enter the Void. The film employs a scatter shot narrative, but it speaks volumes with the bare minimum shown and spoken. I want to write a full review for it but it’s difficult to know where to begin… This movie has had a polarizing effect on most movie going audiences. Even people I respect as film buffs were put off by this movie so while I won’t say that everyone will love this film as much as I did, I think that it’s worth a watch just to see what you get out of it.
I saw The Artist today and I was kind of blown away by it. I’ve never seen a full length silent film before so I had no idea what to expect as far as cinematic tropes employed for silent films, but The Artist hit all the same emotions for me as a regular film would. I’ve read some people say that The Artist is merely a fun/charming film with no substance and I couldn’t disagree more with statements like that. I guess I’ll save my explanation for my full review.
It’s interesting that The Artist and a movie like Hugo both came out around the same time because they both feel like intimately crafted love letters to film and the power of cinema. Currently working on my review of The Artist, but I just wanted to make this quick post to highly recommend that you go see The Artist if it is playing in a theater near you.
I generally enjoyed the first Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes film that came out in 2009. While it had a ton of flaws and was lightweight on the detective work, it was still a fun popcorn flick and I thought that the Downey/Law chemistry as Holmes/Watson was pitch perfect. The first film was a huge success so of course they immediately greenlit a sequel. Would the sequel improve upon the negatives of the first and deliver the same goods that made the first such a crowd pleaser?
Unfortunately, this is probably one of the most brainless movies I’ve seen in a long time. There is very little going on in the intellectual department of this film. This film suffers from even more of the problems from the first film which was too much action and not enough detective work. Off the top of my head I think there were about 6 or 7 action set pieces and while they were fun to watch at times, they became tedious, repetitive, and tiresome very quickly.
On a popcorn “turn off your brain” level Sherlock Holmes 2 is a fun romp. This movie is unfortunately what you get when you let Hollywood run rampant with the “Sherlock Holmes” name: a ton of action and barely any detective work.
Guy Ritchie kind of goes off the wall with his trademark use of rapid editing and insane slow motion. I thought his direction was one of the weaker parts of the first, but in this one he goes all out (for better and for worse). I dug the fact that they used “Holmes vision” more than twice (which was all they did for the first film). The action set piece in the woods was pretty phenomenal stuff. I’m very surprised that Warner Bros. didn’t force Ritchie to shoot in 3D, because that set piece would have been INSANE in 3D the way that he was zooming in and out of the woods and the way that the depth of the field/focus was employed. Many times the direction was completely headache inducing though. Rapid cuts with about 30 different shots all in order will do that to you. This film did seem to bear more of Guy Ritchie’s personality than the first film, whether you enjoy that or not is up to you.
What I disliked the most about this film, besides the fact that it felt really dumb, was how impersonal the whole affair seemed. The action of this film could have really driven the plot forward had they established a greater emotional connection between the characters at hand. Instead it sort of just feels like we’re trying to create an excuse for the next action set piece.
The detective work in this film is a joke. At least in the first film they go around and inspect environments for clues and try to piece the mystery together. In this movie Sherlock Holmes literally just looks at some stuff, cut to close up of item, and then later on in the movie he explains the relevance of it. That is on some National Treasure “the protagonist knows everything but you don’t” bullshit, and it doesn’t make for a compelling mystery because you can’t put those clues together yourself. The evidence he brings into play all require additional knowledge that the audience simply doesn’t have. The first film’s detective elements were weak as well, but at least they kept us informed about what each clue meant and didn’t just save it for later explanations.
Every character outside of Holmes and Watson feels wasted. Well, Jared Harris actually has some really nice moments as Moriarty, but other than that no one else in this film mattered. Noomi Rapace was merely okay as the female sidekick. Her character doesn’t really add anything to the film and while her performance wasn’t bad, it wasn’t anything noteworthy. Oh yeah, Stephen Fry does get to have some comedic relief moments, which was nice.
This film is basically the Bad Boys II of this Sherlock Holmes series. I love Bad Boys II unabashedly for the insane action, but almost everything else about it is stupid and I can fully admit that. Sherlock Holmes 2 takes everything from the first film and amps it up. More Downey/Law bromance, more insane editing/slow motion, more ridiculous action, and even less intellect than the previous film.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a crowd pleasing popcorn film, but I was certainly expecting much more than just mindless action and explosions from a film calling itself “Sherlock Holmes.” If you go in with the notion that this is just a fun flick to turn your brain off to, I think that you will find a lot to enjoy as I did, but if you go in expecting something more in the vein of Sherlock Holmes and detective work you will be very disappointed.
So I saw Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (that title looks so weird with the colon and dash haha) today with @darthluzader and both were enjoyable, but MI4 definitely takes the cake in this showdown. Sherlock Holmes was some of the GOONIEST shit I’ve ever seen in a movie, but I think I just appreciate the Downey/Law bromance more than most. It’s a crowd pleasing romp that is enjoyable on a popcorn level (although some would call that a major flaw to any film with the “Sherlock Holmes” name attached to it). MI4 was a pretty spectacular action film, definitely go and spend your money on that before Sherlock Holmes. So glad to see Tom Cruise start making films I can actually wholeheartedly tell people to “go and see this!” Review coming soon…
Hugo is Martin Scorsese’s first foray into 3D and a children’s movie. I’m a huge fan of Scorsese (what cinephile isn’t?) and I was curious to see what a family friendly movie would look like coming from him. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive: 94% with an 8.3/10 average rating from RottenTomatoes and 83/100 on Metacritic. The film is already garnering a ton of awards and has a lot of Oscar buzz around it. Could this movie possibly live up to the hype?
My concise answer is yes, and this is one of the most enjoyable films I’ve seen all year. I do have to stress that even though this is a family friendly film, I’m not so sure how kid friendly this movie is in the sense that I think kids would probably be bored during this movie. It’s over 2 hours long and the movie doesn’t cater to kids at all with the story or humor. I would recommend that everyone see this film, but if you have a particular fascination with film then you will get even more out of Hugo.
Hugo is a movie that is made for film lovers, period. If you have an appreciation for the history and craft of movies, this movie will definitely pull at the heart strings. Those of us who have fond memories of movies and what they can do for us will undoubtedly enjoy this film.
The 3D in this film is probably among the best films I’ve ever seen in 3D (up there with Avatar, How to Train Your Dragon, and The Adventures of Tintin). It’s Martin Scorsese so you expect greatness, but he still manages to unquestionably deliver. The way he uses 3D is something we haven’t seen before and is quite different from James Cameron’s use of it in Avatar or Steven Spielberg with Tintin.
I found the story to be quite powerful and emotionally resonant. The film ponders big questions like what our purpose in life is and accepting your past instead of hiding from it. I don’t really want to get too much into the story because it isn’t even hinted at in the trailer and I think that if you go in fresh without expectations, you will be even more pleasantly surprised.
I will say that there is this one bit where Chloe Moretz says “You don’t like books!?” And I just have to say that I can’t wait until someone makes a GIF of that line of dialogue because I just felt that that line represents me so much and my general thoughts on the lack of reading in our generation.
The one knock that I have against the film is that it feels like it takes a bit too long to set up the story and while I was never bored during this film it did seem to lack a “hook” at the start. Also, for a “family film,” I would say that this movie would definitely put most kids to sleep. That’s not a huge knock against the film because the end product is fantastic, but do not see this movie if you are looking for an enjoyable time at the theater where you can turn your brain off. This movie constantly engages you on a visual and narrative level.
Hugo is cinematic marvel that anyone with an appreciation for film should love. Martin Scorsese’s use of 3D is wonderful, the story is unique, and the themes are quite deep as well. Definitely make sure you see this over the holidays!
I was lucky enough to get to see one of the biggest releases of the year a few weeks in advance. The Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson collaboration, The Adventures of Tintin. Spielberg hasn’t released a film in 4 years (the last being Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), could he recapture his movie magic mojo with one of the most beloved properties in the world? To put it simply, absolutely!
This is the first time Steven Spielberg is using the new motion-capture 3D system technology (popularized by James Cameron’s Avatar) and one of my biggest questions was, how was he going to use it? Even with the technology being used, this film feels like a Steven Spielberg film. Spielberg likes to operate the camera when he shoots his films and with this being a mostly animated film, he instead controls a virtual camera that basically has no limits. I’ve always admired the way that Spielberg uses the camera to help tell the story and create momentum in the plot. His use of 3D is so inventive and takes full advantage of playing with the depth of field, great stuff.
As far as the animation goes, this is some of the best CGI I’ve seen to date. I won’t say that the film looks photorealistic all the time, but there were moments in this film where I said to myself “wow, if I didn’t know about the technology they used to make this film, I might think this was a 100% real location,” and THAT in and of itself is an accomplishment. What felt a little odd is that some of the characters looked extremely realistic and others looked more obviously cartoony. It’s almost exactly the same with the environments where some looked photorealistic and others you could tell were CGI creations. That being said, it didn’t ruin the experience or suspension of disbelief for me at all. The CGI was top notch and some of the best I’ve seen in a film to date.
What I really love about The Adventures of Tintin is something that is a Spielberg specialty, the action. The action set pieces in this film are INCREDIBLE. I feel like Spielberg was like a kid in a candy store with this new motion capture technology because this is Spielberg unhinged and unrestrained, and it is a glorious sight to behold. There are scenes and stunts in this film that you literally cannot see anywhere else because it would simply be impossible to do in live action. The two stand out action set pieces are the ship sequence and the motorcycle chase, the latter in particular literally made my jaw drop. If you are a film fan and you appreciate good action, that sequence will do nothing short of astound you. The way Spielberg moves the camera, the action, the choreography, the chase, the score, everything just combines so perfectly. This movie feels like an amalgamation of everything that Spielberg has wanted to try/do since he started making movies but just couldn’t because it was impossible to do in live action. The action scenes are well paced and extremely diverse; the action scenes are so varied and no two set pieces feel the same.
The John Williams score was quite good, but not anything extraordinary. I thought that it enhanced the scenes on screen, which is usually my standard for scores. I may be alone on this opinion about the music though, but I don’t think that it’s as good/inventive as his scores for Catch Me If You Can or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There’s certainly nothing here to match the classic themes of Superman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or Harry Potter.
There are a few things that dragged down my overall experience. I felt like the story and characterizations were a bit weak. That made me a bit sad because the writers of this film are Steven Moffat (Dr. Who), Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block). That is an incredible trio of writers collaborating on this plot, but the script was disappointing overall. I didn’t find the film to be very funny either (again, considering those writers I would’ve thought otherwise), gearing more towards kiddy slapstick humor, which works at times and doesn’t at others.
The story also starts off a bit slowly. The mystery is intriguing at first but it takes a little too long to get into gear, and then when you find out the motivations behind the characters it feels too simplistic. There are also little plot contrivances that are too easy and feel cheap, although I am willing to be a bit more forgiving in this film.
I’m very curious to see how well this film will do with American audiences. I’ve made this comparison in the past on my blog, but Tintin is sort of like soccer: the biggest thing in the entire world, but doesn’t do much for Americans. Will American audiences come out to see this film? It’s being positioned as a winter tentpole film in the vein of Avatar, but I wonder just how successful this film will be at the box office. Of course I hope it does gangbusters because it’s a wonderful film and definitely one the entire family can enjoy, but I’m a little worried about how this film will do in America.
The Adventures of Tintin is a good old-fashioned crowd pleaser. Steven Spielberg proves that he hasn’t lost his touch and takes full advantage of the 3D technology at his disposal. While the story and the characters feel slightly weak, this is still a damn enjoyable movie that children and adults of all ages will enjoy. Don’t forget to front the extra cost for the 3D, it is well worth it!
I will disclose here at the end of my review that there some fucking guy right next to me who was laughing like a fucking hyena at EVERYTHING. Even shit that wasn’t a joke or funny at all. Just like my Like Crazy viewing with the fucking MORON who pulled out a fucking LAPTOP, this might have affected my viewing subliminally. Just putting that out there that I might have enjoyed the movie more if this guy was not in the theater lol.
Like Crazy is one of the movies that I’ve been anticipating since I first heard about it sometime last year. It’s won a bunch of critical acclaim for Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, and it even won Best Drama at the Sundance Film Festival. It has a solid 75% on RottenTomatoes and a 70/100 from Metacritic. I’ve read some great reviews online calling it a modern classic. Unfortunately, I came out underwhelmed with the film. It’s a solid film, but I was definitely expecting more from it. I have a laundry list of problems that really brought down my overall enjoyment of the film.
I will say up front that my viewing of this film was not an optimal experience. There was this fucking beezy to my left who kept pulling out her bright ass phone every 5 minutes. The fucking “coup de grace” was when she pulled out a fucking LAPTOP and just started using it like she was watching a movie at her fucking house. Fortunately I was wearing a jacket with a hood and I was able to put my hood up to block my peripheral view and only see the screen. That was a bit irritating and it may or may not have subliminally affected my thoughts on the movie.
The biggest complaint that I have is that there are several time shifts in this film that are not clear and where character motivations are not explained at all. There was literally a point in the film where I thought one of the main characters was a douchebag for a good 15 minutes before they finally say that they had agreed upon a decision that is NEVER SPOKEN ON in the movie. And this isn’t one of those cases where it’s like “oh yeahhhh, that was a nice little subtle touch. I’m glad they didn’t spell it out for me like I’m a fucking idiot.” This was a case of MAJOR decisions about a relationship not being dealt with on screen and just in a time jump, and NOT letting the audience know about it. So narratively, the time jumping was a bit odd.
While the film was shot well, there were several moments where they added some cinematic flourishes such as rapid editing or a speed ramp that really clashed with the overall natural almost documentary-like style. The direction is meant to be non-intrusive in a Blue Valentine sort of way, but then they just add these cinematographic techniques which are jarring. That’s more so a nitpick though because when the film wasn’t calling attention to itself I thought it did great. Loved the way the movie was shot and the whole natural feel.
As far as a character development standpoint, I never felt like we learned anything about these characters except for how much love they each other. They rush the scenes where they’re supposed to get to know each other so that the audience can say to themselves “yeah, these two are the perfect couple.” They basically just say “yeah I design chairs” and “yeah I’m a writer” and then it was like “BUT I FUCKING LOVE YOU!!!” for the rest of the movie LOL. I nearly cringed at the generic “falling in love” montage that is so common within these kind of movies. When they’re with their OTHER significant others, those relationships never feel like a viable option.
I also thought that this movie could have used the fact that it takes place in the here and now a little better. Not saying that long distance relationships are easy, hell no! But the use of cell phones, webcamming, internet, etc. aren’t really used that well.
What I did like was just the main conflict of the film itself. How do you stay in love when the person you love is literally thousands of miles away and you can’t see each other? This isn’t a typical long distance relationship either because Felicity Jones is banned from entering the U.S. because of a Visa violation. That’s gotta be fuckin’ difficult because both sides have their doubts about whether or not they could work this out and whether or not they’ve stayed faithful to each other. I applaud this movie for essentially saying that there are some people in our lives whom we would go to great distances and lengths to stay with. Also dug the way they explored every possible option for these two characters.
If there is anything that holds this film together it has to be Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones as the two leads. Their chemistry is just electric. Even if the characters aren’t that strongly written, their performances are commanding. Yelching is turning into one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars with his turns in Terminator: Salvation (terrible movie, but he was great as Kyle Reese), Star Trek, Fright Night, and now this. This is a star making role for Felicity Jones and I can’t wait to see what she does next after this.
I know a lot of this review has just been me ragging on the film, but I still enjoyed quite a lot of it. My expectations were probably just too high for this film to reach. I wanted it to become the next classic romance and it never reaches that level. It does some things well, but I can’t help but think that this was a missed opportunity. I still liked the film, but not nearly as much as I was anticipating.
I want to talk about the ending of Like Crazy, but I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen the film. SPOILERS after the “read more” break, you’ve been warned…Read more