Category Archives: Film Review

Underworld: Awakening

The going trend for movie series is that by the fourth film is that it’s not a matter of more story telling to be had but just more money for Hollywood to make.  The stories tend to dwell off original course or tend to re-tell what has been told in a slightly different way.  Well…with the fourth installment in the Underworld series, Underworld: Awakening is the dwell off original course type.  Don’t get me wrong the premise of vampires versus werewolves is still the main focus but the element of human involvement takes a step forward here.

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Director Spotlight: Panic Room

Panic Room, the 2002 film by David Finch, is a prime example of a close-quarters thriller. Now I am biased in favor of this type of movie—limited set and location, small cast, tight focus—to begin with; Sleuth, from 1972 and again in 2007, is another excellent example. It forces the filmmakers to focus more than usual on their craft, storytelling, acting, etc., and less on spectacle. Read the rest of this entry

We Need to Talk About Kevin

We’re introduced to Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) when somebody throws a bucket of red paint over her car and the front of her house. We see her applying for a low-level office job, ignoring the whispers and dirty stares of everyone in the room. On her way out, a random passerby angrily yells at her and slaps her in the face. Eva barely reacts, to any of it. We wonder if she is even alive.

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Devil’s Playground: Movies to See Before Ixpiyacoc Comes

Friends, Ixpiyacoc is coming. The world is supposed to end on December 21 of this year (12/21/12, get it? Get it?), so you have only a short time left to watch movies. What I have for you here is a schedule for your pre-apocalypse film-watching schedule. You do four/month, then two in December. You can do it; I believe in you. I believe in you so hard. Read the rest of this entry

Fracture (2007) DVD (Just For The Hell Of It)

Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) murders his wife upon discovering she is having an affair, then, after phoning the police to tell them what he has done, waits for them to arrive.

A vengeful husband, found at the scene of his wife’s murder, a murder to which he has willingly confessed. Surely, it should be a simple open and shut case?

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Norwegian Wood

Taking its title from the classic Beatles song of…experience…Norwegian Wood is director Anh Hung Tran’s film adaptation of the work that launched author Haruki Murakami to international literary superstardom. The movie stars two of the more internationally recognizable young Japanese stars working today, Ken’ichi Matsuyama (who has appeared in Nana, Linda Linda Linda, and played L in all three of the Death Note movies) and Rinko Kikuchi (Academy Award nominated for her role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel). With all of these separate pieces, you can imagine how eagerly anticipated this movie has been – in Japan, in the States, all over the world.

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Devil’s Playground: 2011 Top 10

Welcome to my first weekly column. You may know me from being the goofy one on many of the fine Devil’s Advocates podcasts featured on this very site. Here I will talk about movies; you like ’em, I like ’em, they sometimes like us? (I don’t know where I was going with that.) Basically, this column is a way for us to get outside the normal site format of just reviewing movies. We’ll talk about what makes ’em tick, weird trends and habits, all kinds of fun stuff.  Read the rest of this entry

The Artist

Not having grown up watching many silent films, it didn’t occurr to me until watching The Artist how international silents were and could be, uniting film audiences around the globe who nowadays may hesitate to see a movie just because it is in a language (or even an accent or dialect) with which they are unfamiliar. In this case, we have a silent movie made by a French director (Michel Hazanavicus) with two French leads (Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo), alongside familiar faces from America and Britain (John Goodman, James Cromwell, Malcolm MacDowell, Penelope Ann Miller, dozens of others), telling the most Hollywood of stories, and flirtatious starlets are the only ones batting an eyelash.

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Martha Marcy May Marlene

Martha Marcy May Marlene is the story of a young woman who joins a cult and has difficulty re-acclimating to the world after her return. For people who have not seen the film, the one question that will arise is, what kind of cult are we talking about? Are they religious fanatics? Gun nuts? Republicans? All of the above? Read the rest of this entry

Carnage

Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie and read the reviews that critics have given it, then think I watched a different movie. Carnage is like that. I didn’t think anything could beat Your Highness for the worst movie of 2011 until I saw this. I’m sure on paper this movie sounded like a good idea. You have a talented director who has made excellent movies before. You literally have a cast of nothing but talented actors and actresses. How can you have Roman Polanski directing Chris Waltz, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly and Kate Winslet yet, the best you can up with is the most boring movie I have seen all year?

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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Five years after the last Mission: Impossible mission Ethan Hunt returns for another assignment and yes he chose to accept it.  Of course once again Tom Cruise is back as Hunt and shows us once again no mission is impossible.

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Remakes are tricky business. The rules have been thrown out the window, but back in the day the rule of thumb was that you waited long enough a) for people to have forgotten about the original, b) for people to have properly digested, processed, and internalized the original enough to dream up an interesting reinterpretation, or c) at least until the next generation (i.e., the next graduating class of film school) comes along with fresh eyes and a new perspective on the story. David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a 2011 remake of a 2009 TV miniseries based on a 2005 novel, of course, satisfies none of these rules, but that’s okay because it’s David Fincher, right?

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Event Horizon DVD (Just For The Hell Of It)

Event Horizon is a favorite film of mine for many reasons. Chief amongst those reasons is the attention to detail within the film. Rather like Alien and Aliens, great efforts have been put in to the costuming and equipment shown on-screen. Each member of the crew on the Lewis and Clark has their name and medical information on their shirt, to aid in the event of an emergency situation. Their space suits actually look like they should work, with their simplistic design and the little lights on the side of the boots that signal magnetic lock. Everything is, well, practical, when it comes to the rescue craft and its crew. They feel like a unit, with their little jokes and jibes, and Fishburne as the no-nonsense Captain Miller feels perfect as their leader. Even when he is bouncing around in the coolest command chair this side of the Enterprise’s he gives of an air of cool calm. That is, until they arrive at their destination.

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Arthur Christmas

I don’t always get to go the theaters for animated movies since I don’t have any kids myself currently so when I do go it sometimes is a treat and makes me feel like a kid again.  Plus with me being so busy lately and lacking time for Christmas movie watching, I was excited to be able to see Arthur Christmas.  It came done to that or Puss in Boots but thankfully the kids I was with selected this.  Nothing against Puss in Boots but I wanted to get into the holiday spirit.

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Two years have passed since Guy Ritchie brought us a new version of Sherlock Holmes to the big screen.  Bringing back the dynamic detective duo of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, Ritchie gives us the latest in his storytelling in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

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Young Adult

The “young adult” market, in case you don’t know, refers to that segment of the reading audience that is perhaps too old for Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh, but not quite ready for Faulkner or Fitzgerald. Late grade school thru junior high, roughly – the “tween” years. Though these books are written for 11 and 12 year olds, the subject of the books themselves is, more often than not, high school – a time just far enough away to seem glamorous and even magical, while not so far away as to be inconceivable. Funnily enough, that’s basically how nostalgia works as well –  the “young adult(s)” of Jason Reitman’s Young Adult refers to people well into their 30s, arrested in and obsessively replaying their glory days, generally trying their best to look, act, and feel like they did back in high school. We’ve all been there. Haven’t we?

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The Sitter

The Sitter – this generation’s answer to Adventures in Babysitting – may be our last glimpse of the spherical Jonah Hill. And based on the trailer for 21 Jump Street, perhaps those worried about the correlation between weight loss and funny loss may be right.

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Dagon DVD (Just For The Hell Of It)

I am a huge H.P Lovecraft fan. I discovered his world of indescribable and unspeakable terrors at a tender age, and was instantly fascinated by the ancient gods and eldritch creatures that inhabited the mind of this undeniable brilliant man. His blend of horror, sci-fi, suspense and terror was just the thing the mind of a young wulf such as myself needed, and in no time I was hooked.

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Clue DVD (Just For The Hell Of It)

This for me is the best film of Tim Curry’s career. His performance as Wadsworth, the butler of Hill House herding the guests of a dinner party turned murder scene is one of the most frenetic examples of scene stealing I’ve ever seen. Even ammongst all the screaming, intentional over the top acting and insanity, Curry stands out as the star performer. That doesn’t mean that the other performers are slouches. Each one of the actors portraying the guests at the mysterious dinner party play their part with comic skill not often seen in today’s comedy films.

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The Muppets

After a decade-plus absence from the big screen, those loveable Muppets triumphantly return in, you guessed it, The Muppets. And those Muppets are as self-aware as ever, taking their Hollywood and mainstream hiatus as a reason to rally the troops for a welcome comeback.

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The Descendants

I’m going to admit to something that has rarely happened to me in the movie theaters. I was almost brought to tears by The Descendants. I had to walk out during the showing for a few seconds to compose myself. It came out of nowhere for me. One second, I’m laughing at something and in the next scene I was so moved I got choked up. That’s the kind of movie The Descendants is. It’s a movie about life and the surprises that can change everything in an instant.

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Lonely Devil Review)

My name is Paul Allan Colbourne, and I have seen all the Twilight films. I didn’t get forced to watch them by a Twilight-obsessed wife or girlfriend. I made the conscious decision to sit down and watch the films, by myself, out of curiosity. Why was this much-mocked film series, based on a collection of also mocked books, so popular and loved, I wondered. So I watched them myself to find out.

Phew. I feel better now I’ve got that off my chest.

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Immortals

Evil (and impractically helmeted) King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) blames the gods for the death of his family and plots to free the Titans from Mount Tartarus so that they can destroy the gods. On the side of good is young Theseus (Henry Cavill) who, despite being the spat-upon bastard son of a peasant mother, is fated/groomed by Zeus himself (John Hurt when in disguise; otherwise, Luke Evans) to defeat Hyperion and save all mankind. Thus begins Immortals, director Tarsem’s (a.k.a. Tarsem Singh, Tarsem Dhandwar Singh, Tarsem Singh Dhandwar) long-in-the-making answer to Louis Leterrier’s rather unfortunate 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans.

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Melancholia

Melancholia is the newest film from director Lars von Trier  staring Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman), Charlotte Gainsbourg (21 Grams) and Kiefer Sutherland (24). I don’t see many art house films, mostly because they play in downtown Chicago which is a bit out-of-the-way for me. I do occasionally get to see a few before they hit DVD and am sometimes pleasantly surprised as was the case with Tree of Life. Tree of Life captivated me with its mix of visual scenes cut in between it’s story. Melancholia, while similar, engrosses the viewer in its story and visual style while also having a running narrative.

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Reign Of Fire DVD (Just For The Hell of It)

A really “Marmite” of a film, this post-apocalyptic dragon yarn delivers a nice slice of B-Movie fare, though its character-based rather than balls to the wall attitude to storytelling seems to infuriate many.

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The Adventures Of Tintin – The Secret Of The Unicorn (3D)

Providing a good old-fashioned adventure story, and featuring some outstanding computer animation, Spielberg’s Tintin managed to appease my childhood love of Herge’s work as well as entertain for the duration of the film.

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A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

It’s been a few years since we last saw our two favorite potheads Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn). The last time we saw them, they had just escaped from Guantanamo Bay and crashed a wedding with some help from  George W. Bush. It’s been a few years and the boys have grown up and grown apart. Well, Harold’s grown up and Kumar’s still Kumar. Harold’s moved up in the world, both at work and at home. Meanwhile, Kumar’s still a slacker and a pothead.

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In Time

At some unspecified time in the near (or not?) future, time has replaced money as currency and human beings have been genetically engineered to stop aging at 25, at which point you are given a year to die or to start “earning” more time. Of course, the rich have decades, even centuries of time stockpiled to give to their children and each other, while the poor must work, it seems, a whole day’s work just to earn another day’s life…in order to work another day to earn another day, forever. I wonder how much time it would cost to watch a movie in this world, i.e., would the length of the movie itself be factored into the cost? Would you, in other words, “pay” 2 hours of your life to watch a 2-hour movie (net cost: 4 hours)? Would the “price” of a longer movie be higher, or lower?

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Footloose (2011)

My wife and I decided to cut loose and put on our Sunday shoes and make our way to the theaters.  27 years after Kevin Bacon danced his way onto the silver screen Hollywood brings us another remake.  This time it was the dancing sensation Footloose.

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Paranormal Activity 3

When we last left our extended family of paranormal activitiers, we discovered that the activity in part 1 was caused by the activity in part 2, and the demon-possessed Katie had upped her body count to at least three before stealing her sister Kristi’s baby and spiriting off to parts unknown. Wisely (or so I thought), rather than showing “The Further Adventures of Possessed Katie” (shot, presumably, thru gas station security cameras and whatnot), Paranormal Activity 3 decides instead to delve even further into the past, to offer us what I hoped to be a seamless, well-integrated story of how it all really began. No brainer, right? Right?

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