Category Archives: Reviews

The Artist: The silent film you never heard coming

Am I dreaming? I just walked out of a movie theater that had more people in attendance than any I’ve been in all year (save Harry Potter at midnight). The audience refused to talk throughout the 100-minute-long picture.  We hesitantly munched our popcorn, or opened our candy, afraid to disturb the tranquil silence which had descended upon us. We laughed in unison, gasped together, and when the lights came back up, all of us, and I mean all, applauded.  I just saw a silent film with more than a hundred people and all of them loved it more than I’ve ever seen an audience love any movie, including the final installment to the largest franchise in movie history.  I just saw The Artist. Continue reading

Attack the Block will rock your socks

Around the same time J.J. Abrams was showcasing his ode to Spielberg, Super 8, Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block was in limited release and getting none of the attention it deserved.  In contrast to Spielberg and Abrams’ penchant for quaint middle-American childhoods, Attack the Block is all about urban hoodlums putting their life of hard knocks to use when they have to fight an alien invasion.  They aren’t going to share Reese’s pieces or heartwarming moments with the invaders – they’re going to fuck ’em up. Continue reading

Mission Impossible 4: Amazing fun without costing brain cells

Numerous films barely remain lively after their sequels, much less reach their fourth installment without going straight to DVD.  Seeing Tom Cruise, closing in on fifty, return to the screen as super spy Ethan Hunt hardly seems a selling point, but The Incredibles director Brad Bird brings us a film that hearkens back to when action films produced real stunts and real thrills.  In the words of James Lipton, it’s a delight. Continue reading

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fails to live up to feminist roots

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is David Fincher’s second film featuring computer wizards emotionally remote, and both narratives leave one feeling similarly disconnected when the credits roll.

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Young Adult teaches mixed life lessons

The last time we saw director Jason Reitman he provided an incisive look into the life of an aging bachelor and the consequences of the lifestyle in Up in the Air.  Reitman’s latest film Young Adult,  with a screenplay by Juno writer Diablo Cody, is a similar analysis of solitude approaching middle age. This time around, it involves more booze, trashy television, and denial. Continue reading

Cinema magic and spectacle stunning in Hugo

3D films have hit a steep decline since Avatar director James Cameron was able to swindle theater owners into converting to 3D projectors.  Rather than new projects, a string of recycled 3D offerings has been appearing in theaters: Disney has failed to properly compete with the computer animated films of Pixar or even Dreamworks, so they’re opting to re-release their hits from the 90s in 3D.  Even Cameron himself has been working on Titanic‘s 3D conversion instead of making another film.  Who would have thought that Martin Scorsese, a director known for portraying the most unsavory of gangsters, would be the one to remind us of the possibilities of 3D?

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Fright Night re-make’s cast gives it bite

The 1985 horror film Fright Night is an imperfect classic:  The oscillating tones of hilarity and horror are undermined by goofy over-dramatic synth soundtrack (yet still charming), as the whiny Charlie Brewster decides what to do about the vampire next door.  Due to these imperfections in the original, the recent remake is a worthy re-telling of the 80’s original. Continue reading

Immortals: Fancy headgears can’t hide lifelessness

When it comes to The Fall, either you’ve never heard of it or you love it.  The Fall director Tarsem went globe-trotting for two years seeking out vibrant, other-wordly buildings, locations, and natural environments to tell his children’s story without the crutch of CGI.  Even his tryst with Hollywood in 2000, The Cell, is a disturbing psychological horror film thanks to the director’s aesthetic.  Recent Tarsem converts are salivating for his latest, Immortals, which returns Tarsem to Hollywood filmmaking with the Greek-gods-centered epic Immortals.  They’ll have to grab a napkin though, ’cause Immortals only underscores Tarsem’s weaknesses as a director – he needs better scripts and narrative substance to back up all that style. Continue reading

Bellflower – A Smoke-Belching, Fire-Spurting, Apocalyptic Love Story

Every January, when Sundance buzz hits its peak, film buff restrained to their local cinemas sift through all the reviews just to salivate over what might make it to our hometown.  This year there was a rumor, the faintest hint, that a film like  Bellflower existed: a film full of emotion and power, a film filled with muscle cars and flamethrowers, a love story at the end of the world.  Bellflower, by most accounts, seemed to be hardly contained by the very screen it was projected on.  Having now seen it, all I can say is that everything I had heard fell far, far short of the actual film. Continue reading

A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas should have gone back to White Castle

The Hangover made Warner Brothers half a billion dollars worldwide and became the comedy favorite of many, but it owes a serious debt to Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.  Before The Hangover posse woke up to a lion in their midst, Harold and Kumar rode a cheetah through the woods; random celebrity cameo from Mike Tyson?  Neil Patrick Harris’ recent career revival is directly related to his cocaine cameo in the franchise’s first outing.  Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle was the reigning champion of surrealist, insane, shenanigan-filled movies.  Which is why it’s so disappointing that despite a bigger budget and a chance to make up for the lack luster sequel Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the boys still fail to live up to the hilarity standard they set in 2004. Continue reading