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Friday, June 3, 2011


He can bench press that.

I learned a word today. I think it perfectly captures my feelings of Priest. The word is "desultory"; adj. - lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm. Priest, in effect, is desultory. Loosely based, almost in name only, on a series of Korean graphic novels that found their way to American early in the 2000's, the film takes place on a post-apocalyptic alternate world, sometime in the future, where a church of warrior priests have eradicated an evil race of vampires. The film is directed by Scott Charles Stewart, whom you may remember directed Legion - another movie about men of God fighting the good fight against demons and undead alike. Stewart seems to have stonewalled his own career, essentially making the same movie twice. And he's taught moviegoers a valuable lesson - good trailers don't make good movies. 

More after the cut--

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2

The wild bunch

Perhaps the most important aspect of Kung Fu Panda 2, and I never thought I would type this, is that the series is aging with its fans. So much so that I could expect Panda 3 to be the most adult of the series. They've already started exploring more personal themes than the last entry, which mostly took the themes of following your heart and believing in yourself and employed them. Here, the story deepens more than you might expect, dealing with themes of adoption, unrequited love, and acceptance of others. More importantly, the imagination of the film has grown ten fold. 

More after the cut--

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Town

The Town - doing it better than Point Break since 2010.

In 1997, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon gave us a soft an emotional tour of Boston in Good Will Hunting, as they knew it growing up. They explored the values of hope and family. In 2007, ten years later, Ben Affleck went it alone and took us back to Boston with Gone Baby Gone, exploring themes of loss and grief, right and wrong. In 2010, Affleck took us to the doorstep, sat us down on the curb, and said "Watch." The town, Charlestown, to be specific, lives and breathes by itself - the central hub of bank robberies in New England. The film's opening quotes tell us that the trade is almost a birthright - something you're born into, or against. And for the four lads in this film, it's the only life they know. And they'll go to incredible lengths to protect it. 

More after the cut--

Please Give

Throw Mama From the Apartment

When Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets was asked "how do you write such great women?", his novelist character responds "Write a man, take away all reason". Nicole Holofcener didn't take that advice, and she's probably the best writer of women in Hollywood, behind in the indelible Woody Allen, that is. I don't think anyone can top him. But, as he's in a class of his own (it can be said that Woody writes Woody's women well, and that's it), Nicole Holofcener might be the best in the game. For a further example, seek out Lovely & Amazing, her feature from 2001, also starring Catherine Keener. Please Give and Lovely & Amazing aren't too similar in content, but the aftertaste is the same - you've just witnessed something daring and tangible. Something more exciting than most things studios push out these days. Please Give is a darkly sweet comedy about the destructive and oddly uplifting power of guilt - and, subsequently, what it does to a person. Or, rather, a group of people. 

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3D Fading Out

This has nothing to do with Jurassic Park. These people actually died. 

At least, that's the question posed by the New York Times columnists Brooks Barnes and Michael Cieply in their article published on May 29th, only two days ago.

For a link to the article itself, click here.

This is an editorial, and The New York Times is the only source I have for this. Except me. And, after interviewing myself for hours about this, I can safely tell you that I tired of 3D formatting just as quickly as it blew up. Yes, I still have a few pair of those ridiculous glasses that they require us to wear, and I still remember fondly watching Avatar. But, there's a difference between Avatar and most 3D movies. What is it? Avatar was actually made for 3D. It wasn't re-formatted because someone thought "Oh, this will drive up ticket prices be pretty cool."

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Dorian Gray

Caspian done goofed.

You would think that turning an Oliver Wilde novel into a sensationalized, nearly exploitative camp piece of pulp fiction might prove impossible. But, Oliver Parker would prove you wrong. Shamefully so, seeing as how his adaptations of other Wilde works, like An Ideal Husband or The Importance of Being Earnest, have been lauded and for good reason. Even more amazing, Dorian Gray failed to find a distributor in the United States, and was doomed to a "direct to DVD" release, after a theatrical release in the United Kingdom. As it stands, though, Dorian Gray is all about the atmosphere in this version, not so much about the preservation of Wilde's wit nor the story itself. It's unfortunate, but that's what we're left with at the end of the film. Lots of pomp, very little circumstance. 

More after the cut--

Monday, May 30, 2011

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974

Little dead riding hood*

*and no, that's not a spoiler.

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 is the first of three films, tracking a serial killer through Yorkshire between 1974-1983. The films take place, and mirror in a way, the actual Yorkshire Ripper and the police cover-ups and scams that took place at the time. The Yorkshire Ripper, thought at the time to be a mentally challenged man who had been caught (and forced to confess), had killed thirteen girls (could have been more) and continued to run free for years, despite the public demand to have him caught. Consider the Zodiac killer, around the same time, here stateside. Also consider the film Zodiac when watching this installment of the trilogy. They're practically identical. 

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The Hangover Part II

"You're way too hot for me, Lauren."

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have The Hangover Part II, a movie that takes everything clever and amusing about its first part and turns it into something of a retread. We've seen it all before, and we certainly know the story - a few friends get way too drunk, wake up with no memory of anything that happened, and have to go on a fact-finding mission to recover the pieces of the night before. The film falls into the trap of its formula and can't seem to get out. It worked in the first one because there's no reason that any of that stuff should have happened - it wasn't in the nature of those characters. But, now, it is in their nature, we're taught to expect it, and there's no reason it should have happened. Again. Maybe that's funny to some people, but it belies the originality of the characters. Characters I grew to love in the first film. 

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