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2010 Film List (Reviews, Discussion, Tracking)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Adam Lenhardt, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. Justin_S

    Justin_S Well-Known Member

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    The Crazies - this remake of the 1973 George Romero film sees the rural Iowa town of Ogden Marsh become unhinged when it's residents begin exhibiting odd behavior, usually culminating in acts of violence. Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) is at a loss to explain what's happening to the people he's known all his life, but the discovery of a dead pilot in a marsh leads him to the answer, a downed plane infecting the town's water supply. It isn't long before the military has blocked all methods of communication and descended upon the town. Determined to render a final solution, they don't intend to let anyone out alive. Following the basic setup of the original, this update expands upon the story and throws in a few new directions and surprises. If you ask me, there was plenty of room for improvement. Romero's film is decent, but highly flawed. You could blame the budget, but Romero's done some fantastic work with low budgets. It definitely had bigger problems than that. This is the type of remake I wish there was more of, the type that can improve on a weak original. We spend the majority of the film with the four main characters as they attempt to escape the madness; David, his wife (Radha Mitchell), his deputy (Joe Anderson) and his wife's secretary (Danielle Pannabaker). I was already a fan of both Olyphant and the lovely Mitchell before viewing this, and they're once again in solid form here. This is basically Olyphant's show, and he owns the screen when he's on. I'd love to see him get more leading roles after this. Anderson and Pannabaker are also impressive, getting me to care about the fates of their characters, something that many horror films have a hard time doing. One of the major differences between this and the Romero original is the lack of focus on the military's point of view this time aroud. We spend the duration seeing the events from the perspective of the leads and various other townsfolk. While the POV shown in the '73 film did offer some levels of interest, I think it works better as far as menace goes to not do that here. The crazies themselves are well rendered, each person reacting differently to the virus. Some are completely gone while others still retain some semblance of a thought process, the hunters for instance. After seeing the trailer, I was worried that they'd turn this into another zombie movie, but I was happy to see that wasn't the case. Speaking of the crazies, Lynn Lowry (of the original, Shivers, I Drink Your Blood, etc.) pops up very briefly as one of them. A nice little nod there, and I noticed another potential nod to a similar film, 1984's Impulse, in which contaminated milk leads to people acting on there base impulses. A scene of Olyphant running after a mysterious vehicle that has been documenting the carnage mirrors a sequence from that picture. Also of note is Maxime Alexandre's gorgeous cinematography. Eisner was smart in getting him, as he's done equally stellar work for Alexandre Aja in the past. Thankfully, the use of CGI is minimal. In fact, I don't believe any pops up until the end, and when we get to that, it actually works just fine. We get a number of suitably tense setpieces, particularly one involving a pitchfork, a scene in a car wash and the aforementioned ending. On the downside, there are a few cheap jump scares thrown in. The music also struck me as being rather pedestrian at times. Overall though, I can safely say I'll be returning to this one more often than the 1973 effort.
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    I'm running behind in getting my thoughts up on several recent viewings, so I'll be back here and in the 2009 thread when I have a little more time. I also hope to begin posting thoughts on pre-2010 films soon, something that I intended to do this year, but have so far really procrastinated on.
     
  2. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    Just got back from seeing To Kill a Mockingbird at the Palace Theatre in downtown Albany. It was one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences of my life. The Palace is an old RKO movie palace that was converted into a more traditional theater when the city bought it in the 1970s. When it opened in 1931, it was the third largest movie theater in the world, and even today seats 2,844. Designed by John Eberson, it is a baroque theatre with absolutely gorgeous detail and mural work. The Rolling Stones played there during their third world tour.

    Unfortunately, white flight out of downtown in the 1960s made it unprofitable for movie showings; only live entertainment like stand-up comedians and musicians can charge high enough ticket prices to keep the building open. Only rarely does the theatre still screen movies. The last movie I saw there was The Lion King when the theatre was experimenting with second-run showings in the mid-nineties. I've been itching to see another movie there for years.

    The entire floor section was packed; I'm not sure about the balcony. Years of movie going experience has ingrained in me the stereotype that three groups, on average make the worst movie audiences: poor black families, old white people, and teenagers of every color. This crowd was full of the first two groups, but you could have heard a pin drop the entire way through. Extraordinarily respectful crowd in a theater that, due to its sheer size, amplifies background chatter. The 35mm print of the movie itself wasn't pristine, but it was in very good shape. And unlike the multiplexes, properly focused! When the movie was over, the crowd broke into applause.

    Gregory Peck is rightly revered for his performance as Atticus, but Mary Badham's supporting actress nom (despite being the star of the picture) was very well deserved. Not only was she perfectly cast as the Scout in my head when I read the book, but she gave probably the first great child performance. A Scout that mugged for the camera like Jerry Mathers on "Leave it to Beaver" would have killed this picture. I still find her delivery of "Hey, Boo" incredibly moving. When you consider that "Amos 'n' Andy" was still playing in reruns when this film was released, it was by no means guaranteed that we'd get the serious and dignified performances we got from Estelle Evans, Brock Peters and Bill Walker. And of course, you can't forget Robert Duvall's haunting performance as Arthur 'Boo' Radley. His Boo is suitably creepy, almost ghostlike in his silence and his gliding walk. Duvall is the master of melancholy performances, and he did a wonderful job showing the gentleness and the sorrow underneath the creepy exterior. Just a wonderfully fulfilling night at the movies.
     
  3. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    I envy you Adam. One of my all-time favorite films.
     
  4. judithscott

    judithscott New Member

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    Most importantly, though, the twists are perfectly in keeping with the themes of the movie, rather than turning the movie on its head.
    -------------------------------------
    Home Theater Seating | Home Theater Chairs
     
  5. Justin_S

    Justin_S Well-Known Member

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    The Wolfman - new version of the Universal classic with Benicio Del Toro in the titular role. In spite of all the production problems and incessant delays, this isn't a terrible film. It feels very pieced together, but it has it's moments of promise. Unfortunately, most of that promise is never capitalized on. The CGI, while not as bad as I expected, is very noticeable. As for Baker's make-up work, it's quite good and should've been seen more. On the acting front, Del Toro is decent if kind of one note. Emily Blunt is one of my favorite actresses, and while she's fine, she isn't given a whole lot to do here. This cut of the film sorely lacks character development. I say that while fully acknowledging that the screenplay isn't anything to write home about in general. The story isn't particularly remarkable or even cohesive, and there are also some definite leaps in logic, including one that makes for a pretty sizable plot hole. I could have done without the climactic fight as well. In the end, I'll just say that it's not a good film, but it's not unwatchable either. I admit that I probably gave it an extra half star simply because it's good to see a werewolf onscreen again.


    Triangle - Jess is a single mother struggling to raise her autistic son. While working her job at a diner, she become friends with one of the customers, a playboy type who invites her on a yachting trip with him and his friends. Desperate for a break from her son, she takes him up on his offer. It's smoothe sailing at first, but an out of nowhere storm leaves the boat capsized and the remaining passengers stranded. They think they're in luck when an ocean liner passes by, though boarding the ship is just the beginning of things going from bad to worse. This is the third film I've seen from director Christopher Smith. Creep left me unimpressed, but I liked Severance well enough, shoddy ending aside. This, however, is easily the most rewarding of the three. What looked like it would be your typical slasher set on a ship turns out to be something far more intriguing. What we get instead is a mind-bending little trip with an obtuse mood and a curving story. I can see some people thinking of the film as being too repetitive, but I was caught up in the mystery right off the bat. This is a well put together film with some interesting questions at it's core. While it's not completely fresh (there are some definite similarities to Timecrimes), it still kept it's hooks in me for the duration. Smith put a lot of time into the script, reportedly a few years, and I feel that it paid off. Triangle also wraps up with it's own unique explanation, one that's Sisyphean in theme. Another of the film's strong points would be the strength of some of it's visuals, the most notable example being Sally crawling amidst something that I will leave unspoiled. A wicked sight and a sure shock when it pops up.

    Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever - the DTV sequel to Eli Roth's film debut. Director Ti West reportedly wanted this to receive an Alan Smithee credit after LG took things in a different direction, though he didn't get his wish. I'm an unabashed fan of Roth's film, but this really felt nothing at all like the original. Even the Deputy Winston scenes felt a bit different in tone, excluding the sequence where he's talking to the water company's night watchman. The aforementioned scene did crack me up, but for a film that was clearly trying for laughs, it isn't good when that's the only scene that did get me to laugh. Aside from seeing Winston again, the main aspect of interest here was seeing two guys who played memorable psychos in two other genre titles (Deadgirl and The Lost, respectively) as rivals in this. Segan in particular seems to be playing the exact part his Deadgirl co-star played in that film. Anyway, there didn't seem to be much continuity between the effects of the virus in the original and what we see in this one. There is some pretty nasty and over-the-top stuff, though. Most characters were OTT too. I wish the film had spent more time with Lindsey Axelsson (Sandy, the prom queen). The last ten or so minutes with the strip club feel very tacked on, but I guess that makes sense, as West said the producers did the ending their way. I also didn't like the final cartoon bit in the least, not to say that the opening cartoon segment was any great shakes itself. If you like pure splatstick with not much sense involved, I guess you might enjoy this on some level. At one point, with chaose erupting around them, two teens continue making out even after they vomited blood into each other's mouths. That pretty much says it all. I wouldn't mind seeing the original cut for curiosity's sake, but doubt LG will release it. It took them forever to release the DC of the first.
     
  6. Justin_S

    Justin_S Well-Known Member

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    Caught up with three 2009 releases recently:

    Dare - unique coming of age drama about three high school seniors and the shady relationship that develops between them. Alexa is a wannabe actress who becomes uncomfortable at the very mention of sex. She hangs out with her childhood friend Ben, who's only friend is Alexa. They're both in drama class (Ben handles the stage lights) with Johnny, the most popular jock in school. He's only there because he has to be, much to the chagrin of Alexa since he's her acting partner. Following a truly rotten performance, a popular actor gives Alexa a piece of his mind, basically telling her that only through proper life experience will she ever have a remote chance of being a good actress. Devestated, she decides to get some experience through Johnny while perhaps escalating their on-stage chemistry in the process. None of this sits well with Ben, who has his own encounter with Johnny. It all leads to an unexpected triangle where the most unlikely person might wind up getting hurt.

    Early on, I figured this would be your typical quirky teen indie, but it takes a turn into darker territory. It ends up taking on a more psychological route as it tackles themes of discovering yourself sexually and popularity sometimes only being skin deep. Emmy Rossum, who hasn't been in many films worthy of her talent, is solid as the naive good girl turned manipulative user. The change in her character may be a little abrupt, but she handles it well. Saying that, I still think the writers could've spent more time gradually exploring her transformation. Ashley Springer is okay as Ben, but his character turns into too much of a perverse oddball by film's end. Good choice for the role of outsider, though. The real star of the picture is Zach Gilford of Friday Night Lights fame. He gives a layered turn as the tortured Johnny. It's a very different role from his awkward, somewhat shy FNL character, and he shows that he has the depth to pull it off. Rooney Mara also makes an impression as Courtney, Alexa's best friend. Looking at her IMDB page after viewing this film, I was very surprised to see that she's playing Nancy in the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake.

    While the acting is mostly strong, I will say that Alexa and Ben are hard to relate to as the film goes on. Again, a little more time on their transformations would have been nice. The ending also leaves something to be desired. It just isn't wrapped up in a very satisfying manner. As it stands, Dare is far from perfect. The story and characters both could have been better developed, but I'd say it's worth a look for those who don't mind teen dramas that are a bit off of the beaten path.

    The Last House on the Left - I finally got around to seeing this redo of the infamous 1972 Craven pic. I didn't have a great desire to watch this, but heavy praise from several members of another forum I frequent convinced me to bite the bullet. I should thank them, because I'm really surprised by how much I liked this one. It's not the fact that it's a remake that kept me away. Craven's version itself was already pretty much a remake, and I've seen countless ripoffs that might as well be remakes as well. I figured a studio film wouldn't have too much to offer beyond the envelope pushing copycats. Anyway, Paige and Mari are two teen girls who meet Justin, a teen himself who offers them pot if they come back to his motel room. They take him up on his offer, but they stay too long and are still there when the boy's criminal father, Krug, shows up. Along with his equally sadistic brother and girlfriend, Krug forces the two girls to come along as the gang flees town. Their drive is cut short when Mari goes on the defensive, the vehicle going off the road during the conflict. With their method of transportation ruined and nowhere to go, the trio decide to have their way with Paige and Mari, subjecting them to torture and rape as Krug's son watches in disgust. Paige is killed while, unknownst to Krug and company, Mari survives the ordeal. After leaving her half dead in the water, they seek refuge at a nearby house, the very house that belongs to Mari's parents.

    While this film follows the original pretty closely, it does deviate from it's source in a few major ways. The main difference is clear, that being the survival of Mari. I was against this at first, but it wound up working better than I expected. Still, I will say that I didn't care for the plot point of Mari being a swimmer. It felt like a contrived character trait thrown in just to get her into the water during her escape attempt. It's been several years since I last watched the Craven version, but I would say the brutality against the girls isn't as graphic this time around. It's still an effective sequence, but there's nothing like pulling out intestines or making someone urinate on themselves. On the other hand, the violence against the villains is far more graphic in this version. We also aren't subjected to stupidity like with the original's Sadie carelessly running into a swimming pool for no reason. Oh, and no comedic cops this time either. I liked how Krug's son showed more signs of guilt in this one, though the actor portraying him was somewhat of a cinder. Thankfully, he's the one weak leak in the acting chain. Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter are both good as the parents who struggle with what's happened to their daughter. As for Krug, Garret Dillahunt is very strong in the role. While I'd likely say that I prefer David Hess in the part overall, I found that I didn't think of Hess once while watching Dillahunt in action. He does the character differently and really makes it his own. All of that aside, I think that the best performance in the film undoubtedly belongs to Riki Lindhome. In Craven's original, I didn't think much of the Sadie character. She was annoying and just seemed to be along for the ride. Here though, Lindhome makes the character just as evil as Krug. She bails the attitude, and even her movements seem like those of a snake in the grass. I also give her kudos for her final fight scene, probably the most exciting segment in the film for me personally.

    The location photography is another high mark for the remake. It's nothing like the gritty look of Craven's, but it doesn't need to be. Speaking of the '72 movie, it did make more sense how Krug kept his son doped up in that one. You would think the kid would be long gone in this version without that to stifle his efforts. I also have to mention the ending here, which is quite poor and doesn't make much sense. I really don't know why they decided to end things on that note, as it wouldn't be too hard to think of something better. Taken as a whole, I was pretty impressed by this remake. An incredible film it isn't, but as far as modern remakes go, you won't find many as successful as this one. The only one that comes to mind is The Crazies, which I would rate higher.

    Surrogates - another in a long line of films exploring the dangers of becoming too dependent on technology. In this one, most people have adopted a stay at home lifestyle while they experience the rest of the world through robotic surrogates. Able to jack into and control these mechanical puppets from the comfort of their own homes, they can experience life as anyone they want, be it someone who looks completely different or as an idealized version of themselves. Naturally, some people want no part of this lifestyle, but they are the minority and have their own separate "camps" set up throughout the world. For some bizarre reason, there hasn't been a murder in years (couldn't one easily use their surrogate to go into a user's home and kill them while they obliviously control their own surry?), but that changes when the son of the technology's creator is killed while hooked into his surrogate. Detectives Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) are on the case, but it will go deeper than they expect. The themes explored here are nothing new, but that doesn't mean the film can't be entertaining or offer a new way of viewing said themes. It doesn't really succeed in the case of the latter, but it is entertaining from time to time. It all comes off feeling a little generic, but I wasn't bored. A big problem with the film is that at a scant 89 minutes, it doesn't really have enough time for it's story to properly find it's footing. Some movies work better with a shorter running time, but I feel that this one could've used a bit more fleshing out. The Greer character has an interesting arc involving the relationship between him and his wife, though it would have been better with added character development. As is, Bruce Willis is adequate as Greer, but nothing more. There's not a lot to work with. He does get more to do than Radha Mitchell, who's talents are wasted. I would likely say that just seeing her was the best part of the film for me. There are also some easy to spot plot holes and I noticed a really bad bit of CGI involving an out of control helicopter. There's not much of substance here, but people looking for a way to kill some time could do worse.
     
  7. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    Added Cop Out, the first Kevin Smith feature he didn't write and easily his most reviled since Mallrats. I loved Mallrats, and I liked Cop Out quite a bit too. I found Zack and Miri Make a Porno to be a flabby, self-indulgent mess so I was happy to see a more disciplined hand at the helm here. The humor is undeniably dumber than what Smith writes, but offers plenty of hilarious moments throughout. Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan have better chemistry than the trailers would lead you to believe. Willis's cop is a more patient version of John McClane and Morgan's cop processes the comedian's usual schtick through a more intelligent veneer. The score, by Beverly Hills Cop, Fletch, and Tango & Cash composer Harold Faltermeyer, is a definite eighties throwback, but not in a bad way. Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody have supporting roles as even more troubled cops than our protagonists, while Michelle Trachtenberg cameos as Willis's daughter and Jason Lee pops up as her prickish new stepfather. Rashida Jones has fun as Morgan's wife, while Seann William Scott steals the movie with the kind of role he does best.

    NOTE: This movie must be a theater hopping magnet. Throughout the running time, new people continued to file in and jostle for seats well past the halfway point. Some of the worst behaved theatergoers I've had the displeasure of sharing a theater with in quite some time.
     
  8. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Well-Known Member

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    Mother is the latest film from Bong Joon-ho, the Korean writer-director who managed the remarkable trick of making a monster movie that wasn't predictable with The Host. Mother is even less predictable, and I'm not even sure how to describe it -- thriller? murder mystery? family drama? It has elements of all three, plus more. The mother of the title is an apothecary and unlicensed acupuncturist, but her true devotion in life is to her 20-something son, Do-joon, who is what used to be called "slow". She cares for him as if he were still a little boy, but he's a grown man, as becomes clear when he and his friend Jin-tae get into an altercation with some golfers and are hauled in by the police. Later, Do-joon is accused of more serious crimes, and that's when the film enters territory that is truly unmapped. To reveal more would be a crime.
     
  9. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    Das weisse Band/The White Ribbon, an Austrian film about a small German village in the years immediately preceding World War I, is a difficult film to pin down. On the rubric by which I would normally judge a film -- an enticing plot, enjoyable dialog, exciting action, interesting ideas -- it fails completely. It poses questions, suggests answers, but finally leaves the audience without a firm resolution of its plot or a firm statement of its relevance. What you are left with is a village where mysterious, awful things suddenly started happening; some triggered by festering injustices, some for reasons completely unknown. The neorealist style presents cruel and at times horrific events with a slow, calm pacing that robs the events of their drama even as it underscores the slowly unveiling horror. The power centers of this pre-industrial community are concentrated in the Doctor, the Baron and the Minister. The first event that signals something has gone wrong comes when the Doctor is severely injured after his horse is felled by a trip wire. Subsequent revelations suggest a couple obvious perpetrators: the midwife he continually humiliates, for years subject both to fulfilling his carnal impulses and suffering the guilt his carnal impulses conjure, and his own young teenage daughter, who has succeeded the midwife as the object of his base desires. The Baron comes under attack after an infirm peasant woman suffers a fatal accident at his sawmill. His cabbage is destroyed, his building is burned down, and his son is assaulted. It quickly becomes clear who ruined the cabbage, but what about the other "accidents"? The Minister's sober piety is the weapon he wields against his eldest two children. His eldest daughter, a tall and rigid sort of girl with a cleverly silent demeanor, retaliates. His eldest son, trapped between the opposing poles of his father and his older sister, suffers wearily. In the wake of these events, which go unsolved and unpunished, the Old Order's power is crumbled. The New Order, represented by the village's polite, withdrawn and almost uniformly blonde children, are menacing in their sheer presence. They're found at the end of dinner tables, behind wooden school desks, in the choir section above the church, seen and not heard. Implicated in unspeakable violence and cruelty. Waiting until they're the ones to have power.
     
  10. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    Hot Tub Time Machine. That's all that needs to be said, really. I haven't laughed that hard at a movie since The Hangover; perhaps even longer. It's takes the time travel implications more seriously than you'd think, based on the trailers, but takes virtually nothing else seriously. It's a hard-R comedy with hard-R crudeness. If there's a certain over-reliance on puke jokes, well, that's what happens when your protagonists spend the entire movie drinking. John Cusack is particularly fun as 2010 John Cusack playing a classic 1980's John Cusack role. Lizzy Caplan would have fit in as the quirky, accessible female lead in any one of them. Rob Corddry steals the movie and runs with it as the alcoholic Lou, whose drunken and half-baked suicide attempt sets the events of the movie into motion. Usually any performance this in your face comes across as completely obnoxious, but with Lou just enough intelligence filtered through the boozy haze to keep him interesting. Craig Robinson has several standout moments as the repressed, domesticated husband who is suddenly able to let himself go. Clark Duke, who played the most memorable character in Sex Drive, spends his time here running around and preventing the three grown-ups from screwing up the past and preventing him from being born. His bemusement at a world in which people had to talk to each other in order to communicate was hilarious. And then, just when you think the movie has reached its absurdity limit, they go back to the future (did I mention Crispin Glover's supporting role as the one armed bellhop?) and see the effect their trip back in time has had on the world.
     
  11. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    Caught a matinee of Date Night this afternoon with a friend. MUCH better than I expected, surely the best film of Shawn Levy's rather undistinguished career. The film takes a good twenty minutes or so to explore the live of Phil and Claire Foster under normal circumstances. We learn that their quiet suburban lives are boring and exhausting, that their friends' marriages are starting to fall apart, and that Phil and Claire themselves are still quite happy with one another. They share the same values of what is important, and perhaps more importantly they share a sense of humor. Their first date night is utterly mundane, but they keep each other laughing the whole way through. All of this background development pays off when things finally do take a wild turn, because we know and like these two people and understand why they react the way they do when they do. Much like Jonathan Swift's titular protagonist in Gulliver's Travels, they serve to introduce us to an increasingly zany and dangerous cast of characters even as they themselves change as the plot thickens. Kristen Wiig, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Mila Kunis, J.B. Smoove and especially William Fichtner each steal the show in their respective cameos. We've seen nearly all of this before, but never executed this well. Highly recommended.
     
  12. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    Saw Kick-Ass, which was an incredibly well-crafted film that moved effortlessly between comedy, superhero violence, and coming-of-age story. Aaron Johnson stars as a geeky, extremely introverted high school student with no particular skills or accomplishments who gets the superhero bug shortly after his mother drops dead at the breakfast table of a brain aneurism. His innocence and naivete grounds the film even when it ventures into very start territory. It doesn't take long before he finds himself trapped between a sadistic former cop with a costume fetish and revenge fantasy on one side and a ruthless mob boss on the other. Chloë Moretz steals the show as the ex-cop's lethal twelve-year-old daughter, who is extremely well-adjusted considering the circumstances. She is stellar at making a preteen assassin credible without being overly precocious. Mark Strong stands out among the long line of cookie cutter mob bosses for his excellent comic timing, and Nicholas Cage adds another bizzare performance to his bio as the ex-cop Big Daddy. If you loved Christopher Mintz-Plasse as McLovin in Superbad, you'll enjoy his character here as well. Clark Duke and Lyndsy Fonseca from Hot Tub Time Machine pop up here as Johnson's best friend and girlfriend respectively. The ending leaves things primed for a sequel.
     
  13. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    Added Death at a Funeral, which just knocked Hot Tub Time Machine out of contention for funniest movie of the year. Incredibly well-constructed film with a perfect cast. James Marsden shows to anyone who hasn't seen Sex Drive that he is a master of comedic timing and delivery. Danny Glover is also terrific as a sort of Greek chorus, muttering judgment about all that transpires around him. Each comedic turn spins out half a dozen other comedic gems so that I spent the entire film laughing. Packed house, and it was very well received.
     
  14. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    Nothing about what I'd seen from Iron Man 2 left me very optimistic. I went tonight mainly because a friend in the area from out of town wanted to see it and because I was so fond of the first movie. Despite an increasingly severe headache over the course of the evening eventually paired with a fever and dizziness, the movie completely won me over. Is it as good as the first movie? No. The climax disappoints and the larger cast of characters dilutes some of the impact. But unlike many superhero sequels, it doesn't make the mistake of focusing on action and interesting looking new bad guys and sidekicks at the expense of the hero. This is still unquestionably Tony Stark's movie, and it's still unquestionably Tony Stark's arc. I liked that it played out the implications of such a terrifying war machine, and raised the question of what happens when Tony Stark's not the only one to possess it. The effort to integrate S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers came at the movie's expense, but still fufilled a purpose that moved the film forward rather than distracting from the plot. Scarlett Johansson has never been hotter than she is here, but that would have all been for naught if she didn't help drive the story forward. While the movie again would have probably worked better without her character, the use of her as a smarter, fiercer, sexier iteration of Pepper Potts was interesting because it tested the relationship between Stark and Potts in a very interesting way. Sam Rockwell was likewise interesting as a sloppier, slower doppleganger for Tony himself. He made a much better villain than the very one-note Russian that Mickey Rourke played. It was a joy to see Clark Gregg return as Agent Caulson, who manages to match wits with Stark while being almost impossibly square. Garry Shandling was also in fine form encapsulating everything we all hate about the current generation of politicians.
     
  15. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Well-Known Member

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    I don't have time right now to write a review, but Winter's Bone is an amazing film. If it plays in your area, go see it.
     
  16. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    I've heard great things about Jennifer Lawrence's performance, which suprised me since I've only seen her as the glamorous teenage daughter in "The Bill Engvall Show" on TBS. The trailer makes it look like Fargo transplanted into a Ozarks, where a seemingly simple and mundane matter -- in this case, deadbeat daddy skipping out on a court appearance after putting his home up for collateral to the bail bondsman -- becomes something far more sinister. Unfortunately, I'll probably have to wait until it makes it to the Redbox much like I had to for Frozen River.


    Caught Get Him to the Greek, which takes the most crowdpleasing character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall and gives him his own spin-off. Like Sarah Marshall, this one gets off to a slow start after an absolutely hilarious opening montage of Aldous Snow falling off the wagon. But once it gathers steam, it proves to be a superior if less relatable story than its predecessor. Snow is complex, angry, selfish, fiercely intelligent and incredibly wounded. Jonah Hill's straight man protagonist defies conventions by judging the drug-fueled fivrolity as an irritating pain in the ass rather than a life changing experience that we should all envy. Like Sarah Marshall, it occasionally pushes into uncomfortable territory and takes things too far. But that's part of its visceral power. I'd love to see a third movie to complete the Aldous Snow trilogy, where maybe he finally finds peace.
     
  17. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Well-Known Member

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    Lawrence had a small part in The Burning Plain, which I reviewed for HTF on Blu-ray, but I was struck by her intensity. Given the company she was in (Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger), standing out as she did was an impressive achievement.

    Winter's Bone rests on her shoulders, because the entire film is told from her character's point of view. You don't see or learn anything except what her Ree Dolly sees and learns. The tone is very different from that of Fargo. It's dark and dangerous and very creepy, as the fate of an entire family rests in the hands of a 17-year-old girl who's being threatened and pushed by everyone around her: the law, the criminal element, her neighbors, even her own relatives. About the only person who treats her decently and respectfully is an Army recruiter; it's one of the film's best scenes.
     
  18. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    That sounds right up my alley. I'll definitely check it out when/if it comes to the Albany area.


    Added Män som hatar kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women; released here as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) which played two showings at the GE Theatre at Proctors in Schenectady today. Having loved the English translation of the book, I was eager to see the Swedish film adaptation and I've wanted to check out the GE Theatre since it opened a few years back. Here I had the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. The movie was quite enjoyable. Roughly half the time, it's apparent that Noomi Rapace is taller, prettier and more mature looking than the Lisbeth Salander described in the book. The other half of the time, I could have sworn my mental image had lept out of the page and onto the screen. Everything from how she was dressed to how she carried herself to how she moved was exactly what I'd pictured reading the book. Rapace does an excellent job with her performance of walking right up to the edge of autistic without going over. The pacing is superior to the book; while the mystery at the heart of the story unfolds almost exactly as written, events are resequenced so important revelations surface at a pretty uniform rate throughout the movie instead of heavily stacking the excitement to the back half of the movie. The movie favors the Lisbeth character over the Blomkvist character too much; because she solves nearly everything in the movie, the balance between his old school investigative methods and her digital methods was lost. The sex is toned down from the book. Blomvkist's many and varied sexual exploits were extraneous and thankfully left on the cutting room floor. The sexual assault scenes are still present, because they have to be, but were somewhat less barbaric than described. The restraint added rather than subtracted from their power, since they didn't come across as over-the-top torture porn like on the page. The frank way they were shot, in such contrast to American cinema's fleeting and chaotic treatment of sexual violence, was shocking enough that people in the theater audibly gasped. My only other complaint was the movie's occasional tendency to engage in Hollywood excess when something more subtle or direct would have been more effective. Some of the concluding scenes differ substantially from their equivilants in the book, tying the film much more closely to the two sequels than the book did. I was particularly stuck by the fact that Blomkvist's jail cell (don't worry, his incarcaration is revealed in the opening scene so I'm not spoiling anything) is nicer than apartments I've paid to live in. And ethernet access to boot!


    The GE Theatre is one one of the most technologically multpurpose spaces in New York. The screen is several stories high and curved, much more of what I'd think of IMAX than the IMAX branded digital theater at Crossgates Mall. The sound system is excellent, and the ceiling is equipped with a full armament of theater lighting, turned off tonight. Unfortunately, because it is a multipurpose space, the seats are retractable and thus, very uncomfortable. The presentation was obviously digital (you could see blocking in the shadow areas); probably the BluRay of the movie. If that was the case, how does BluRay hold up on a screen half the size of a football field? Very well indeed. Like I said, it was obviously a digital image, but it wasn't distractingly so.
     
  19. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    The A-Team was exactly what I wanted from a movie version of the A-Team. Unlike many feature adaptations of old TV shows, this one didn't feel the need to reinvent the concept or wink too regularly at the audience. Probably because Stephen J. Cannell's production company produced, they took the concept, adapted it to the contemporary timeframe, and left well alone. The characters of Hannibal, Faceman, B.A. and Howlin' Mad Murdock come across intact, and more importantly the group dynamic comes across intact. I never felt like the movie was more focused on the explosions than the characters, and there were plenty of points where I laughed out loud and grinned. Excellent casting across the board. The opening sequence showcasing how the team came together -- and explaining why B.A. hates to fly so much -- was absolutely inspired. The remainder of the movie can be summarized as follows: "A crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped" to hunt down the men who framed them. The movie ends with the setup of the series firmly established: "Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team."
     
  20. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Well-Known Member

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    Tonight's excursion to the local multiplex took an interesting turn; right at the climax of Inception, as the van is inches from the water, the projector died and the lights went out a second later, plunging the theater into total darkness. A few seconds went by, and then the emergency lights came on followed by the regular theater lights. As we were all sitting there wondering if we'd been treated to an immersive, avant-garde ending, one of the Regal people came in and let us know that the power had been knocked out and screwed up the projector. After ten minutes went by (just enough time for people to get up and move about), the theater lights dimmed and the movie continued, first vertically stretched to 1.85:1 over the matte and then a couple minutes later back to its proper aspect ratio and framing.


    When we got out of that film, the wall of floor to ceiling windows of the third-floor lobby treated us all to the sort of natural theatrics that Noah and his family must have seen from the Ark; lightning coming so fast and furious that it looked like a strobe light outside, the nearly constant rumble of thunder, the kind of pounding rain that you see Weather Channel guys standing in as hurricanes approach. My companion had a twenty-something mile drive ahead of her and didn't feel safe traveling in the deluge, so we made the night an impromptu double-feature with the last showing of the night for The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which continues Jon Turteltaub's trend of perfectly serviceable, family-friendly adventure movies that I would have loved watching if my mother had brought them from the video store on VHS back when I was a little kid. Fun, unpredictable night.
     

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