Review – The King’s Speech (2010)

January 25, 2011

The King’s Speech [2010]

Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Claire Bloom, Orlando Wells, Derek Jacobi, Jennifer Ehle, Eve Best, Timothy Spall, Anthony Andrews
Director: Tom Hooper
Screenwriter: David Seidler

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be born into royalty. That kind of life, for all the material wealth it provides, must be in so many ways devoid of any real human interaction. It’s a world that is so distant from “commoners” that imagining the rigidity of daily life is almost incomprehensible. Even more so are the expectations put upon each individual within that family. It is with this in mind that The King’s Speech develops itself. It is, as many have said, a rousing crowd pleaser. But to dismiss it as just that misses the point entirely. The film, acted with perfection and deftly scripted and directed, slowly reveals itself as a beautifully observant story of friendship between two unlikely men.

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Review – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

January 14, 2011

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World [2010]

Starring: Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Ellen Wong, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick
Director: Edgar Wright
Screenwriter: Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright

Scott Pilgrim is, in many regards, the movie of this generation; of my generation. The cultural references are to video games, comic books and new media. Its outlook on life is one that feels uniquely in touch with many of the sensibilities I feel myself and my peers hold. It’s also a movie that I can imagine people saying, “maybe I have to read the comic to fully understand it”. Although I agree that it’s difficult not to think of an adaptation in how it relates to its source, I also believe that adaptations should stand on their own and not rely on an understanding of the source to get the most out of them. Fortunately for Scott Pilgrim, it does stand on its own.

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Review – Nosferatu: The Vampyre (1979)

January 12, 2011

Nosferatu: The Vampyre [1979]

Starring: Klaus Kinski, Isabelle Adjani, Bruno Ganz
Director: Werner Herzog
Screenwriter: Werner Herzog

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more beautiful vampire film, and I’ve seen quite a few. Writing this review when I’m writing it, with the onslaught of tween-themed vampire franchises like Twilight, and even more enjoyable fare like HBO’s True Blood, I think makes me appreciate Herzog’s film more than I might have ever been able to appreciate it in a time when vampires were not the “in” thing. Now, it seems so fresh.

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Review – Kick-Ass (2010)

January 11, 2011

Kick-Ass [2010] 

Starring: Aaron Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenwriter: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman

Here is a movie that begins with promise and ends with disappointment. It’s a movie that tries so hard to be different, and to find a niche that separates itself from other so-called “comic book movies”. Its premise relies on that very idea. Unfortunately, it’s a premise that doesn’t carry through to the end, and along the way quickly unravels.

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Review – Antichrist

February 23, 2010

Antichrist [2009]

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Director: Lars von Trier
Screenwriter: Lars von Trier

I tend to be the kind of person who likes to judge a piece of art (and remember: bad art is still art) without taking into account the artist himself. A work should be able to stand apart from its creator. Lars von Trier is a filmmaker that I’ve found makes that an extremely hard rule to follow. Antichrist is a film in which von Trier makes damn sure you know he’s the filmmaker, and the presumptuousness of such a thing makes the film difficult to swallow. The film has been plagued by controversy. People at Toronto and Cannes walked out of screenings. I, like I believe most people who pick up this film will do, watched it “to see what all the fuss is about.” I wish I had read more about it beforehand.

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Review – Shutter Island

February 21, 2010

Shutter Island [2010]

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow
Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenwriter: Laeta Kalogridis

Note: There are inevitably going to be some spoilers in reviewing and discussing this film. It’s impossible. I’d rather just review it honestly than try not to reveal its secrets. If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read this review (unless you’re a masochist and like spoilers). You have been warned.

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Review – District 9

February 8, 2010

District 9 [2009]

Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James, Mandla Gaduka
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Screenwriter: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell

The best science fiction utilizes itself as a catalyst to discuss issues and ideas that are relevant to the world we live in. It’s not about lasers and stars, spaceships and warp drives – although it can include some, or all, of these things – it’s about worldly ideas expressed through otherworldly circumstances. District 9, although not one of the best science fiction films, aspires to this brand of sci-fi. Most of the film takes a thoughtful and realist look at not only the idea of extra-terrestrials coming to planet Earth, but also makes itself into a commentary on the apartheid government in South Africa. The director, Neill Blomkamp, doesn’t even make this an allusion, but an outright statement, setting the film in Johannesburg.

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