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#961 Bulletproof

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 05:22 PM

My 11/20 best picture list - all I have seen, otherwise noted. If I haven't seen it then I nominatet hem based by recommendations from friends whom I trust.

1. Hugo
2. The Artist
3. The Descendants
4. War Horse (Missed the screening, but was told it was epic)
5. Shame

I'll be seeing Dragon Tatoo most likely next Monday. Hopefully.

All films I will certainly be seeing and reviewing once they get theatrical releases, my most anticapted being War Horse and The Artist. That said, early reviews for Hugo have all been screaming Oscar, same for Shame and The Artist. Glad to hear you enjoyed The Descendants as it has a very good director behind it (same guy who did Sideways and ABout Schmidt whose name escapes me) and the trailer looked great. Friday is going to be Martha Marcy May Marlene if it's still playing in Montclair, followed closely by My Week With Marylin and Melencholia only because I promised myself I'd give Lars Von Triers one more shot. If this stinks, I'm done with him!
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#962 HellOnICE

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 09:19 AM

Bill, as you saw on my facebook. HUgo, I just fell in love with. Same for The Artist.

You know it's funny, I wouldn't give Martha Marcy a best picture nom, but I'd give it a best director, best actress, supporting actor, and editing.

I missed the Marilyn screening, people who were positive on it, but not best picture happy. It might get a nod from NBR because of the Weinsteins, although they'll be happy with The Arist getting nominated.

I'm seeing Dragon on Monday.
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#963 Pepperkorn

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 12:12 PM

I dont like the girl in The Artist. She's too modern. The blonde looks right but the brunette -- hmeh -not a fan. Everyone else looks good though. The male lead looks perfect - he's got the style down really well too. Girl doesn't --- too modern and smokey and not the right kind of broad expression. I'm all about authentic style.... but conversely I can see she's representing a new order so... I see the logic.

I want to see it regardless!!
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#964 Pepperkorn

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 12:25 PM

I'm seeing Dragon on Monday.


I HATE HATE HATE Daniel Craig cast as Blomkvist. He's supposed to look like Kalle Blomkvist :rant: and you know - I love that type and that's the whole point - he's not some tough guy. He's a dumb old (not literally) investigative reporter who's brain gets him in trouble (and out of it). He's a wise ass not a tough guy and it ruins it when they make him EXACTLY what he's not. Wiseasses can be tough - they're a wise ass first though. Tough guys who crack wise often just seem stupid. Wise asses who wax tough seem lucky. AND THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF THE CHARACTER! He's a lucky guy. Men dont like wise ass lucky guys. That's why they always ruin it and hire a tough guy.

Did you all see the Swedish version? He was too old and wimpy I thought - tried to go too Noir. He's supposed to be this un-noir guy caught in noir situation after noir situation.

Edited by Pepperkorn, 22 November 2011 - 12:26 PM.

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#965 Pepperkorn

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 12:30 PM

I hate to say it.. but if you could shake the soap opera out of him -- and shake the sitcom timing out of him... Mike would have been perfect. A Spoiled horses ass of a guy - who is honest even when he's honestly a jackass. oh and what a jackass he is... :doh1:
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#966 Bulletproof

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 05:19 PM

I HATE HATE HATE Daniel Craig cast as Blomkvist. He's supposed to look like Kalle Blomkvist :rant: and you know - I love that type and that's the whole point - he's not some tough guy. He's a dumb old (not literally) investigative reporter who's brain gets him in trouble (and out of it). He's a wise ass not a tough guy and it ruins it when they make him EXACTLY what he's not. Wiseasses can be tough - they're a wise ass first though. Tough guys who crack wise often just seem stupid. Wise asses who wax tough seem lucky. AND THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT OF THE CHARACTER! He's a lucky guy. Men dont like wise ass lucky guys. That's why they always ruin it and hire a tough guy.

Did you all see the Swedish version? He was too old and wimpy I thought - tried to go too Noir. He's supposed to be this un-noir guy caught in noir situation after noir situation.

I did see the Sweedish version, and while I see where you're coming from with the character, I thought the Blomkvist casting was spot on. In reading the book, I pictured him as an older fellow with a rugged handsomeness, a trait the actor pulled off quite well. Rememberr in the book, Blomkvist is quite the ladies man, and I think Michael Nyqvist really captured that side of the character. I do agree, however, that Craig will be too "ruggedly good looking", but if the intelligence is there, I think it can work out just fine. Really enjoyed the Sweedish version, so i'm hoping Fincher brings some of his trademark visual style to the American version.

However, this all goes back to what I wrote about in my Rum Diary review about how casting films from books is so difficult because everybody has their own mental projection of what the character should look like. Perfect example!!
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#967 Bulletproof

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Posted 23 November 2011 - 05:32 PM

MOVIE NOTE: Being the big Thanksgiving weekend, many of these movies are being released today, Wednesday the 23rd. Any film with an asterisk next to it (*) is already out in theaters for your viewing pleasure. Happy Thanksgiving!

Opening This Week – Nationwide

*Arthur Christmas (Also in 3d) – When I was a younger lad, I used to freak my sister out with tales of a high tech Santa. Ol’ Saint Nick didn’t cruise around with reindeer, he had a jetliner that cruised at supersonic speeds. Rudolph? A figurehead long replaced with sonar and radar. Good thing my sis is out of college, because if she had seen this brand new Christmas movie featuring a more modern take on the classic tale, she’d be screaming her head off. More of a story of a dysfunctional elfish family than anything else, critics have been hailing this animated feature as a new Christmas classic, on par in both feeling and tone to The Polar Express. While the bare synopsis’s I’m finding online don’t tell much of the plot, critics have said this movie is sue to satisfy adults and children in equal measure. Tired of the same old re-watching of Miracle on 34th St and It’s A Wonderful life? This film will certainly fill the void and provide some well needed cheer this Holiday season.

*Hugo (Also in 3D) – Getting some of the finest reviews this year and an early contender for a Best Picture Oscar, Hugo is the story of a young boy who is left a key from his father, a key that takes the child on a wild and magically journey. Directed by Martin Scorsese, this movie is not only getting rave reviews for the pure magical of the filmmaking, but for being the best 3D experience since Avatar. Nearly every review claims this is a must see in 3D experience, so it’s worth the upcharge. Technology aside, most critics are embracing this film, saying it not only has a sweet center, it’s filled with old movie references and homages to the past, perfectly balancing the new tech and classic cinema. A film buffs fantasty, Hugo’s extraordinarily high marks is making it a must see this holiday season.

*The Muppets- – It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights! Everyone loves Jim Henson’s magical creations but fans haven’t seen a Muppets movie since 1999’s lukewarm Muppets In Space. The film stars Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Chris Cooper but you don’t care about that. You, like everybody else, wants to know how those delightful felt puppets hold up in the new century and reviews are unanimously positive. The film centers around an evil land baron who threatens to raze the now famous Muppet Theater and an effort by the three super fans to reunite the Muppet team to help save the stage. The plan? To hold a Great Muppets Telethon designed to raise to $10 million needed to keep the building up. Critics say the film is on the nose, perfectly blending the charm of the TV show with the size of the films, creating a new Muppet classic. Another must see!


Opening This Week – Limited Release

*My Week With Marilyn – Michelle Williams stars as the titular blonde bombshell in this fascinating and well received film. Centering around a plucky 23 year old film hopeful and his week showing Monroe around the English country side, this film attempts to not only show us the movie star in action, give us a chance to really see a different, more honest side of her. Every writeup for the movie unilaterally praises Williams in the main role but as for the actual plot, reviews have been somewhat mixed. Still, Williams is one of the finest actresses working in Hollywood today and her performance along makes this more than worth seeing. Showing in select theaters throughout NY and NJ

The Artist – An early front-runner for Best Picture, this sumptuously made homage to 1920’s silent cinema has been getting awe inspiring reviews ever since it first screened at Cannes. Taking place in 1920’s Hollywood, the film focuses on a declining silent film star and his struggle to maintain relevance in the “age of the talkies”. Oh yeah, the film is shot entirely in black and white and, oh yeah, the film itself is a silent one. Luckily for audiences, this lack of sound isn’t just a gimmick, it allows the visual storytelling to really stand out and thanks to a brilliant performace by lead Jean Dujardin, the film is reportedly a triumph. Be sure to check this out, even if the idea of sitting through 100 minutes of silence seems completely wrong to you. Playing at City Cinemas Paris Theatre and the Angelika Film Center

*A Dangerous Method –Staring Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender, this film centers on Dr Carl Jung, a turn of the century psychologist who had a complex relationship with an unbalanced yet beautiful patient. Unfortunately, Jung’s mentor, the great Sigmund Freud also falls for the woman, creating a triangle of both science and passion. Directed by auter David Cronenberg, the film has been getting mostly positive reviews, despite the strange blandness of the filmmaking. Cronenberg has never been a director of restraint, making this effort seem out of place in the filmmaker’s catalog. Still, critics have been praising the work of the three leads and the chemistry between them, so I say See It, just so long as you’re not expecting something in the director’s signature style. Screening at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Landmark Sunshine Cinema

*Rampart – The acclaimed writer/director of 2009’s The Messenger, Oren Moverman, returns with his latest film. Again staring Woody Harrelson, this films find the actor playing a dirty cop embroiled in LA’s Rampart corruption scandal. Signorney Weaver, Ben Foster and Robin Wright all lend a hand in a film most critics are saying is tense, exciting and full of great performances. One esteemed critic even mentioned Harrelson himself should get a Best Actor nomination playing the unhinged, self-destructive cop, so if you’re a fan of flicks like Dirty Harry and Bad Lieutenant, this one should be a no-brainer. Showing at Landmark Sunshine


Opening This Week – Indie, Art House and Small Screenings

Romantics Anonymous – Charming French film about two awkward chocolatiers who works to save a struggling shop while developing a relationship. Critics have been very positive about the film saying that while it runs down the middle in its emotional tact, the charm and wit of the film, hallmarks of modern French cinema, make this a quiet joy to watch. Sure the film may be a bit uneven, but there’s enough positive buzz about it to make me say See It! Screening at the Quad Cinema


My 3 To See

The Artist – Sure, this bad boy may scream Oscar bait, but when 47 critics give it near perfect reviews, who am I to say otherwise. Give the silent film one good try with The Artist.

The Muppets – Oh, you need to actually hear your movies? Well, wrap yourself up in some nostalgia as you take one more trip into the weird with Jim Henson’s adorable creations.

Hugo – While you could make an argument for every film coming out this weekend, this Martin Scorsese film not only pushes the envelope with regards to 3D technology, provides a heartfelt and beautiful story to go with it. Prestige season is officially upon us!


Confused by the colors? Here’s the guide!

Green means that reviews are great, the trailer looks great, so this is definitely worth seeing!

Orange means reviews have been mixed but there’s enough here for me to say, “See It For Yourself”.

Red means this film should be avoided at all costs! Run, Devil fans, run!!

Edited by Bulletproof, 23 November 2011 - 05:33 PM.

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#968 Atterr

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 11:57 AM

Saw The Rum Diary but wasn't too impressed. Loved the book but don't think it was a very good adaptation. I was especially disappointed in the dance scene as it was brilliantly written, but in the movie it's over before you know. The movie just seemed to cash in on Hunter S. Thompson fans and the success of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which was a way better film that this. Johnny Depp is a great actor but he seems to take the safe route lately and take on roles that are more or less the same and it's getting tired already.
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#969 Bulletproof

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 04:17 PM

New Movie Review

The Descendants

Brutal honesty mixed with dark comedy has become the hallmark of director Alexander Payne. With films like About Schmidt and the Oscar nominated Sideways on his resume, Payne has become known for creating complex characters and putting them in strange yet often hilarious situations. With his latest film, The Descendants, Payne puts George Clooney and three young newcomers in a tropical paradise that provides a beautiful backdrop to a film that just may be the most emotionally gripping work he’s ever done. Fans fearful that this film fails to match the comic beats of his previous work have to little to worry about as Payne has become a master of balance, providing a nice dose of humor to go with the tragedy. The result is the best film he’s ever directed.

Clooney plays Matt King, real estate lawyer in his native Hawaii and absentee father of two children, Alexandra and Scottie, played by newcomers Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller. Clooney is wrapped up in a number of different issues: the sale of a premier piece of untouched Hawaiian beachfront that’s been in his family for generations, a life threatening accident that has left his wife in a coma and the sudden care of his two rebellious daughters. While this seems like more drama than a Lifetime movie special, Payne has an uncanny knowledge of human emotion, writing a screenplay that’s heavy handed but never overbearing. This is not a raucous comedy to be sure, but a well balanced one. I’ve often said comedy works best when it involves characters you care about and The Descendants does not disappoint in that respect.

On the acting front, Clooney has always been a very reliable actor and in the role of the daddy in tumult, he puts forth his best performance since 2009’s Up In The Air. Clooney creates a believable and complex character, fully channeling the pathos in the script. This is a tough role, even tougher than the one he played in Up In The Air and he hits his marks perfectly in what very well could be an Oscar nominated performance. The rest of the cast is equally wonderful, especially newcomers Woodley and Miller as Clooney’s children. Much like the kids in 2010’s The Kids Are Alright, the siblings are believable and engaging, propelling the film thorough the difficult subject matter.

The film is also benefited from a fantastic script and some fine direction from Mr. Payne. The setting of the movie provides some great juxtaposition between the toughness of the situation and the surrounding beauty. As somebody who has spent a good deal of time in Hawaii, I’m well aware of how revered tradition is to the native people and Payne elegantly captures this with the story point of the land sale. The film is full of nod and winks to the Hawaiian way of life and while many viewers may not catch these little nuggets, they were well received by a “haole” like me. The actors are also wonderfully directed, something that should be no surprise to those familiar with Payne’s previous work. The script is biting, sometimes shocking but always relatable, providing humor in the most dire of situations.

If you are really curious about what the central theme of the film is, all you need to do is look at the title. The children are dealing with being descendants of a wealthy yet absent father, the family is wrestling with being descendants of Hawaiian royalty and Clooney is swimming upstream against the pressures of keeping a crumbling family unit together. A complex yet fully entertaining film that hits all the right buttons, The Descendents should get more than a few looks for some awards come January. While I do think this movie will be pushed out by the influx of top contenders being released this month, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Golden Globe or two in the future for this well made film. One the most satisfying films I’ve seen all year, Payne continues his tradition of being a director of patience, empathy and wonderful storytelling.
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#970 Bulletproof

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 11:30 AM

The weekend after Thanksgiving is often a Dead zone of new releases and this weekend is no exception with no major releases out in theaters. Cineplexes are full to the brim with holiday flicks, Oscar bait and puppets, so there’s nothing big coming out this weekend. Still, there are some decent indie flicks hitting theaters, including the buzz worthy Shame. Enjoy the previews!

Opening This Week – Limited Release

Shame –Getting some Best Actor buzz for awards season, this weekend’s “big” opening stars Michael Fassbender as a sex addicted Manhattanite coming to grips with his life altering affliction. Also starring Carey Mulligan as his sister turned roomie, critics have said this movie earns its NC-17 rating but does so with validity, providing plenty of substance to go with the graphic nature of the film. Fassbender is a fine actor and even though this film may put off those who are on the more sensitive side when it comes to sexuality, this should be a must see for fans of “Awards Season”. Playing at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13

Answers To Nothing – When the tagline reads, “Dane Cook leads an all star cast”, you know you’re in trouble. Featuring a Crash style story of interconnecting lives all connected to a missing girl case in Los Angeles, the trouble is a) that style of filmmaking went the way of the Rio mp3 player and b) if the characters are boring, the connections don’t matter. Both of these issue plague this film, spurning terrible reviews from critics. That and Dane Cook is in it. ‘Nuff said. Screening at AMC Lowes Village, Kew Gardens Cinemas and Clearview Clairidge (Montclair)


Opening This Week – Indie, Art House and Small Screenings


Outrage – Directed by Japanese superstar Takeshi Kitano, this film about the Yakuza underworld has been getting fine reviews from critics. Most reviewers say the movie is well made, taught and full of entertaining action, a nice middle ground between the art house flicks currently in theaters and good, old fashioned action. Worth a watch! Screening at Cinema Village 12th St

Sleeping Beauty –This film stars Emily Browning as an apathetic college student who takes a strange job as a “lingerie waitress” in a strange sex club. Requiring her to be fully sedated before she can service her clients, this film has a sleepy, dreamlike quality to it that has been rubbing some reviewers the wrong way. As a result, reviews have been mixed for this film with some saying it’s precisely staged and others saying it’s just a bore. Watch a trailer or three before giving this a shot. Screening at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center and the IFC Center

A Warrior’s Heart –Dealing with the death of his father, a young man find solace and recovery in lacrosse. Yeah, I’m already bored too. Getting terrible reviews, this one isn’t even worth spending time on discussing…so I’m not going to! Playing at the Quad Cinema


My 3 To See

The Artist – Ton’s of Oscar buzz can’t be wrong concerning this silent film about a 1930’s actor struggling with his transition to the talkies.

The Muppets – Yeah, it’s awesome. I’m sure you’ve heard a ton of Facebook buzz about this already, so just see it!

Hugo/Shame – Since I already praised Hugo last week, if you’ve seen it already, switch gears entirely and see the latest sexual thriller starring Michael Fassbender.

Confused by the colors? Here’s the guide!

Green means that reviews are great, the trailer looks great, so this is definitely worth seeing!

Orange means reviews have been mixed but there’s enough here for me to say, “See It For Yourself”.

Red means this film should be avoided at all costs! Run, Devil fans, run!!
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#971 Devils Dose

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 07:07 PM

BP, where does one go to find out where movies in very limited release are playing?
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#972 Bulletproof

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 11:36 AM

BP, where does one go to find out where movies in very limited release are playing?

I get all my information from fandango.com, so that's a good place to start. That said, if a movie has a really small release, as in community theaters, libraries, "small room venues" as I like to call them, a great idea is to check out the film's website. Even the smallest of films have some sort of website, and from there they'll certainly have a list of screenings.

Good hunting!
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#973 Atterr

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 09:10 AM

Saw Moneyball yesterday and it's instantly one of my favorites films of the year. Great story of the general manager of the 2002 Oakland Athletics who went on a 20 game winning streak. It's a weird thing that for a sports movie, there isn't much sports involved at all. Most of it takes place off the field and not on it. Weirdly enough that's actually what makes this sports movie interesting. Add in the terrific script by Aaron Sorkin and good performances by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill and it's a must see film, even if you know nothing about baseball.
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#974 Bulletproof

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 09:56 PM

Saw Moneyball yesterday and it's instantly one of my favorites films of the year. Great story of the general manager of the 2002 Oakland Athletics who went on a 20 game winning streak. It's a weird thing that for a sports movie, there isn't much sports involved at all. Most of it takes place off the field and not on it. Weirdly enough that's actually what makes this sports movie interesting. Add in the terrific script by Aaron Sorkin and good performances by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill and it's a must see film, even if you know nothing about baseball.

Yeah, Atterr, I didn't get a chance to check out Moneyball in theaters but I'm looking forward to based on Sorkin's script alone. Thanks for the write up!
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#975 Bulletproof

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 10:10 PM

Review My Collection #15

Animal House

85% Rating


Whenever you bring up John Landis’ third film in mixed conversation, you’ll often get a dreamy gaze and a wry smile. Anybody who’s seen this 1978 comedy classic is immediately brought back to simpler times. Days of class schedules, wild parties and sleeping to noon usually comes to mind and even if you didn’t have that type of college experience, this film not only makes you wish you did, makes that debauchery seem more of a rite of passage than a waste of daddy’s money. In short, I’ve never met somebody who didn’t enjoy Animal House. One of the films that define the term “cult classic”, Animal House is a runaway train through the absurd, a juvenile take on college life through the eyes of the offenders. One of the originators of the “gross out comedy” genre, Landis’ tale of the drunken exploits of the Delta Chi fraternity is high on energy but low on story and character development, creating a fun yet slightly hollow look into early sixties college life.

Then again, this is Animal House were talking about. Rather than create a hard hitting look into early sixties college life, writers Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller instead penned a tale of heightened antics, punctuated with sight gags, slapstick and shameless nudity. Larry Kroger (Thomas Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst) are freshmen at Faber College and after getting recruited by the self proclaimed “worst frat on campus”, find themselves in the midst of mayhem. The competing frats find them repulsive and the school board wants them expelled, all for their propensity for toga parties, pranks and excessive drinking habits. The film does a fine job creating a sense of community amongst the wild boys, allowing the audience to root for them, bad taste and shameful behavior be damned. Landis also does a nice job drawing up distinct dividing lines between the “good guys” and everybody else, all of which who want the party to end. There isn’t much grey in the storytelling, but in the case of Animal House that’s a good thing, allowing for some exceedingly humorous situations and storylines.

And with actors this funny, why get in their way. Featuring an ensemble cast of mostly unknown actors, Animal House has some standout performances. Tim Matheson is great as the frat’s Dou Juan, Donald Sutherland has a memorable turn as the pot smoking professor and Kevin Bacon, in his debut role, is totally believable as an opposing Greek. One of the most underrated performances, however, comes from John Vernon, who plays Dean Wormer. Wormer is the perfect foil to Delta Chi’s shenanigans, playing it straight yet for big laughs as he schemes to get the lads kicked off campus. The performance is a bit one noted but when that note is deadpan hilarity, it’s perfectly acceptable. And yes, the line, “No fun of ANY kind” is permanently burned into my filmgoing lexicon.

Of course, all these performances pale in comparison to the career making role of Bluto, played by the late, great John Belushi. Pulled by Landis from a regular gig at Saturday Night Live, Belushi has perfect physical comedic timing. The catalyst for the entire film, Animal House soars on the edge of his energy, propelling the movie to classic status. What the film doesn’t do well is give us more than a series of episodic scenes that are all funny in their own right but do not lend themselves to a cohesive story. The relationship between Boone and his more mature girlfriend doesn’t really work, the situations are beyond ludicrous and there is absolutely no character development to speak of. These issues aside, there’s not much else you can say about a movie that defines cringe comedy. Despite the less than perfect score, this a landmark comedic film filled with funny performances and larger than life situations. While I never personally experienced the type of college the Delta Chi boys did, I still remember that sense of boundless optimism, a feeling like the world was yours to conquer. Animal House captures that sentiment perfectly, creating a world of youthful energy and timeless friends. And yes, it’s still really damn funny.

**Check out my RT blog entitled "Review My Collection" for the rest of the series!!**
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#976 Atterr

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 09:31 AM

Hugo
Martin Scorsese's latest is a long overdue love letter to film and pure cinematic magic from beginning to end. The first scene of the film where the title character and location are introduced is quite simply brilliant. Maybe it's the Parisian landscape but it reminded me so much of the start of Moulin Rouge, another movie that sucks you in right from the start and never lets go.

The story might not seem like typical Scorsese at first but actually it is: it's about the magic of filmmaking. You can tell how much fun cinephile Scorsese has had during the filming of the movie. There are numerous shots that pay homage to films from the 1900s as well as actual footage of those films throughout the movie. Even though every shot is so detailed, full of life and carefully framed, the real evidence of Scorsese as a great director is the 3D. This is not just a gimmick but it actually adds value to the film. It's one of the best uses of 3D I have ever seen. I won't say it's better than Avatar but supposedly James Cameron thought so.

The acting is strong throughout. Ben Kingsley is dependable as always and the young actors are decent enough. Sacha Baron Cohen might seem a weird choice but his character's redemptive arc prevents him from becoming just a caricature.

One final note has to be made about editor Thelma Schoonmaker. As great a director as Scorsese is, his films would probably not be this good without his long time collaborator, who once again does a beautiful job with Hugo.

Even though I still have to see a whole lot of films from 2011, Hugo just might end up being my best film of the year. Well done Marty, well done!
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#977 Bulletproof

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 05:41 PM

Hugo
Martin Scorsese's latest is a long overdue love letter to film and pure cinematic magic from beginning to end. The first scene of the film where the title character and location are introduced is quite simply brilliant. Maybe it's the Parisian landscape but it reminded me so much of the start of Moulin Rouge, another movie that sucks you in right from the start and never lets go.

The story might not seem like typical Scorsese at first but actually it is: it's about the magic of filmmaking. You can tell how much fun cinephile Scorsese has had during the filming of the movie. There are numerous shots that pay homage to films from the 1900s as well as actual footage of those films throughout the movie. Even though every shot is so detailed, full of life and carefully framed, the real evidence of Scorsese as a great director is the 3D. This is not just a gimmick but it actually adds value to the film. It's one of the best uses of 3D I have ever seen. I won't say it's better than Avatar but supposedly James Cameron thought so.

The acting is strong throughout. Ben Kingsley is dependable as always and the young actors are decent enough. Sacha Baron Cohen might seem a weird choice but his character's redemptive arc prevents him from becoming just a caricature.

One final note has to be made about editor Thelma Schoonmaker. As great a director as Scorsese is, his films would probably not be this good without his long time collaborator, who once again does a beautiful job with Hugo.

Even though I still have to see a whole lot of films from 2011, Hugo just might end up being my best film of the year. Well done Marty, well done!

I've heard nothing but raves for this movie and this review has helped bump it up to my next must see, even before The Artist, Shame and The Muppets (a flick that will certain fall by the wayside in favor of the first two). Really looking forward to this based on everyhting I've heard!
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#978 Devilsrock01

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 10:51 PM

limitless was crazy!
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#979 Bulletproof

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Posted 09 December 2011 - 10:18 AM

Newish Movie Review

The Tree Of Life

Writing reviews can be really difficult, especially when your opinion of a film flies in the face of your critical peers. The Tree of Life, the latest film from director Terrance Malik, won the Palme d'Or, has a respectable 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is almost assured a Best Picture nomination come February. So why didn't I think it was all that? Why did I glance over to my brother thirty minutes in and mouth, "I can't do another two hours of this"? Sure, I have my reasons but the real question is if you, the patient reader, should give this film a watch. The answer is a complex one, but let me try an experiment that should help you decide to spend 139 minutes of your life seeing this film.

Please read the following passage:

The morning glinted through the lowered slats of Bill's Venetian blinds that bright Monday morning, horizontal lines right out of a 40's film noir. It was a Monday, like the thousand before and the million to come, the beginning of a week drenched in opportunities lost and gained. Sitting on the edge of his queen size bed, Bill stares blankly at the ticking minutes of the dresser clock. Half dressed and already late, he struggles to pull a black sock over his left foot. Nothing. His mind knows he has to but his body refuses, a perpetual conflict of interest between duty and want. Two more minutes tick by and still he sits, bathed in the mid dawn daylight, unable to move. Inert. Motionless. The sounds of the morning rush leak through the window crack, the clock continues its steady march and the light grows brighter. Again Bill tries to pull the sock over his still sleeping foot and fails. Hands won't move, muscles won't tighten. The clock cries out a final digital squeal as the last tap of the snooze bar expires. Jerking to life, Bill tries one more time to secure the sock. Grip, pull and success! His socks are on, the day is in motion and, whether he likes it or not, Bill is officially dressed.

If you read the above passage and thought, "Wow, what an interesting depiction of getting dressed to go someplace he doesn't want to go", congratulations. You will love The Tree Of Life.

However, if you got halfway through it and said, "What a load of crap. He's putting his socks on. Get to the point!", congratulations. You will despise The Tree Of Life.

Of course, you could have said, "Sure it's pretty and all, but he's just putting a sock on. I see there's some sort of subtext there but I could have done without the overdramatic writing". If you did, congratulations. You, like me, will find the Tree of Life artistic yet pretentious, a frustrating mix of complex ideas rolled around in so much arthouse fluff, the message gets hopelessly lost.

The crux of the story lies in the recollections of Jack, a lost soul in the modern world who thinks back on his 1950's childhood. Being a Midwestern boy was tough for young Jack. With a stoic yet stern father (Brad Pitt) and a mother teetering in her beliefs (Jessica Chastain), Jack found himself torn between duty and rebellion. Much of the film is told through the sepia toned reenactments of Jack's childhood where we watch his growth from boy to confused adolescent and it's in this middle part where we actually get some of the best stuff in the movie. Young Jack is played very well by first timer Hunter McCracken and you really get a sense of his internal struggle, a big theme in the film. Everybody is struggling with issues of faith, life and direction, creating a mood that's unfocused yet tense enough to pull you through. Chastian is quite good as the mother but Pitt is his usual average self, playing the gruff disciplinarian as decently as one could expect. Sorry kids, but aside from Fight Club and maybe A River Runs Through It, Brad Pitt is not a good actor. His charm lies in his personality and when that gets muted, much like it does here, the whole experiences come off very blah. As for Sean Penn, who plays the older Jack, he says about five words and has about ten minutes of screen time. Enough said.

Luckily for filmgoers, the film isn't so much about the acting as it about the spectacle, and this is where most of the derision lies. Make no mistake, Terrance Malik is an artist of the highest order. The main storyline is bookended with a complex series of esoteric flares, swaths and images, all designed to evoke an emotional response. These scenes are admittedly stunning to look at and, much like a living painting, conjures up powerful feelings and emotions. Too bad it simply doesn't work. Many people have compared this film to 2001: A Space Odyssey and they're not half wrong, especially considering the man who did the visual effects for that landmark film, Douglas Trumbull, came out of retirement to contribute to Tree of Life. While the look of the two movies may be similar, there is one glaring difference, a difference that makes 2001 a classic and Tree Of Life a missed opportunity.

In 2001, things happen.

In Kubrick's film, the spacecraft dance whimsically to the Blue Danube. Why? Because they are orbiting a planet. The pod crawls out of the space dock to fix the radio dish. Yeah, it takes a mind numbingly long time to get there, but lo and behold! Something is occurring! The spaceship slowly lowers itself into the dock of the station. "For God's sake, get there already", I scream but at least, at the very minimum, the thing is landing. Eventually, the cursed spacecraft will hit the ground and we'll move on. Malik's error is that in midst of the light bending, mind warping madness, nothing is happening. No story is being told, no plot is being driven forward, no ideas are being exchanged. Instead, Malik expects us to conjure our own feelings from the ether and while that can work to a point, eventually you need to start telling us a story. Malik gets so wrapped up in his esoteric themes of worlds being born and destroyed, he forgets we're not in his head and forgets to simply tell a tale. Yes, we start to get something going thirty minutes in but by then it's too late. We're already dazed and confused, high on a trip of light bursts and dinosaurs, we're out of the movie, either stuck in our own heads or bored out of them. Shame to, as if he had just told the story, the film would have had the exact same impact.

Now, I'm sure I'm going to get my share of detractors on this review. Comments like, "You just didn't get it" or "You're too brainwashed by the Hollywood system" will come down the pike and that's expected. Let me say again, Terrance Malik has a lot to say about the world and he does his best to do so in The Tree of Life. Faith, belief, and indecision are all powerful topics and they are all nicely touched upon in the main arc of the film. However, much like the crazy guy on the six train who babbles about how Jesus is a cat, Malik doesn't know exactly how to synthesize his thoughts and instead takes us on an arduous journey through the surreal with diminishing returns. To answer my question from the beginning of the review, the one where I ask if you should see this or not, the answer is yes. If you are on this site, commenting on reviews, you are a film fan and every film fan should see this movie. There is some stunning cinematography, there are a couple of very good performances and the underlying story is a simple yet evocative one. Just be prepared to grit your teeth a bit at a director who reached for a question that exceeded his grasp, leaving a film that is just as annoying as it beautiful.
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#980 Cachorro Louco

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 02:45 AM


Well is not gonna be as good as the original, but looks promising
i remember watching the Three Stooges back in Brazil, The Stooges together with "Chapolin Colorado " and "Chavez " have some kind of magic, that even if watched the same episode a billion times, and now exactly what's going to happen next you still crack up
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"Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose."

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