Movie Ratings and Reviews

Somewhere
Somewhere (2010)

I usually adore coppola's subtle atmosphere generation and gentle pace. But this film didn't pack a punch during and was too easily forgotten afterwards.

Black Swan
Black Swan (2010)
½

a creature of terror and beauty

Ricky
Ricky (2009)
½

Magical realism is my genre of choice and as an example of the genre this film works very well. Unexpected elements are not completely jarring although some moment prompt unintended chuckles. I was frustrated by the main character's maternal journey (she says she and her daughter are a team but little lisa seems to bear more of the burden of keeping their little family running than she should have to) but only in a way that I would be frustrated with a real person. The characters are all complex and fairly well developed and you still feel for them/are dissappointed in them in a realistic way even as the more fantastic elements of the story take over.

a weird little treat.

Away We Go
Away We Go (2009)

This is a film about finding a home and creating a family so I was bound to enjoy it. Usually I am partial stories about people creating families in the post modern sense -unrelated misfits coming together with common ground and mutual acceptance. This is about creating a family the old school way, a man and a woman being in love and getting knocked up and, in spite of being hip sort of arty young adults, they are certainly from a mainstream conservative core learning what to do and not do from a series of families that are in one way or another 'other'.

We sympathise with them, hope for them and worry with them as they discover that there are desirable and undesirable things about all created families. They are required to be relatable, personable, lovable centre for the road movie to parenthood and they fulfil that role very well. If you're a sentimental sort it's fun to watch them watch each other decide what sort of family they are destined to become, if you're not there is plenty of incidental humour and drama to keep you following the journey.

The fact remains that they are very traditionally, conservatively 'normal'. In one way or another they are differentiated from the other families because they are committed to and love each other, the concieved their child in the usual way, and they are committed to making a life together as a family all the while not having any remotely extreme or unconvential ideas about parenting. Not that there's anything wrong with that, being normal I mean, but it does occasionally feel a bit like a film to make the status quo feel good about being the status quo.

The heart of the film for me came from the peripheral character performed by Melanie Lynskey whose family at first seems like exactly what the lead couple desire. The sadness, longing, love and heartbreak in her performance gave me insight into something i have never experienced and have always found difficult to understand on paper. Taking up very little screen time this chapter added dramatic depth to the film that i had not expected.

In the end it is a film about going home as much as it is about finding a home. the message seems to be that the only way to create something authentic is by drawing from what you already have and know. So in spite of my comments about them being a sort of 'middle ground' inoffensive couple, the final message has resonance for anybody. Becoming adult and making a family, can't be learned entirely from how others are doing it, the heart of it comes from who you already are.

The Lovely Bones

Don't you hate it when heaps of people recommend something to you, and it's awkward because you can tell you will hate it, and then you give in and watch it and you do hate it? Well Lovely bones was terrible in every way I expected it to be and a few I didn't.

The performance of the lead is very good and her character was always going to be sympathetic but that's half of the trouble. The drama and emotional weight of this film relies on assumptions so obvious that they are cliched (losing a child is hard, child murderers are more monsters than people, people who die young miss out on things they would like to have done with their lives) and adds nothing to these cliches to make them anything more than that or bring them to life. One source of joy is, Sarrandon's grandmother character but she is more of a distraction than someone who actually advances the plot.

The film is not alive, the good guy and bad guy are two of the 'types' you just can't mess with; of course the murdered child is good and longs for her life; of course the murderer is creepy and isolated and has no redeeming qualities -but how i wish they had messed with these types even just a little to make either of them seem remotely human. It is THIS that makes the film a fantasy tale and not the magical afterlife world, but trying to view it as purely fairytale it comes of unfocused, cheap and unsatisfying. How are we supposed to feel about the murdered girls giggling and playing in surreal dreamscapes?

It is a film were the most horrific event happens in the first chapter and from then appears to have no idea where it is heading or what it wants to say. So watching it is rather like being in purgatory.

In our real world child predators have a strong grip on our collective consciousness. They are the monsters everyone fears, loathes and does not understand. The fear that they may be around any corner on any street has begun to effect behaviors and social planning. To make a film that takes advantage of this fear without adding anything to the picture is cheap and lazy. To make it a saccharine visual explosion of girly fantasy is, if not offensive, at least uncomfortable.

You could argue that the film should not have to contribute anything in terms of insight into this issue of child predators and grief, it's just a story about people dealing with something bad that has happened to them. So perhaps my problem is that my interest in the main characters 'development' after her death (letting go of her own life on earth, obsessing over a crush) is pretty much non existent. Seeing a murdered girl come to terms with her own death in the afterlife does not have any resonance for my own life or for empathising with the lives of others. It's a personal journey of growth that, odds are, nobody will ever actually have to take, and if they did it would have no effect of any living person. So it's unfortunate that it's the only unique perspective in the film.

So, it is bad to murder children, it is no fun to be a murdered child or their familiy, but maybe they go to a magical rainbow fantasy land and besides, everybody dies -you'll learn that in the end...what the eff.

Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance
½

when you love a piece of film, be it tv or big screen, rewatching it becomes an almost ritualistic experience: a certain scene within the context of already knowing the whole, makes painful moments all the more heartbreaking, offers the comfort of knowing what will happen a fated perpetual repetition. should something rewatched offer something new it allows the opportunity to evaluate how you have personally changed or advanced to cause you to experience it differently.

Then there is the Rebuild of Evangelion, never before has something I have loved been remade, by it's own creator a mere decade later. Initially, being the cynic that I am, it seemed like it was going to be a godawful travesty for the sole purpose of building Hideaki Anno another wing on his house. After watching 1.0 and now 2.0, I feel it is something far more rich and exciting. the original still exists so you can always go back to it, but now you can watch what seems to be that same old scene, the same ritual, but something changes: a character stands up for herself where she had previously taken a blow, a character who used to resist change both learns and reaches out. a higher power has intervened in the ritual, something new has happened to the same materials you had laid out. It is an unparalleled and invigorating experience.

Imagining what it would be like to watch this film as a standalone is patently impossible so that's not what i'm doing. My subjective experience here is of someone who adores the original material to an absurd degree; that was the position that I thought would entirely disallow me from enjoying these films but has instead offered a unique existential experience.

So unique that I am 3 paragraphs into a review without discussing content!

The visuals here are second to none, the way the reimagined 'angels' move is a creative miracle. while the mastery of the visual style of the series was it's ability to provide maxim impact with an almost comic book degree of flatness and stillness one could watch up to 2 minutes of the exact same art without realising it hadn't moved. The film is another beast entirely, everything is in dizzying, spectacular motion. A scratchily rendered shadow on a nose or jaw provide the human touch to what is quite saturated in cgi -even though, ironically the original, more traditionally animate series would keep colour blocks solid and flat- and the overall effect is quite the thing of beauty.

While the original could have been described as an exploration of human isolation, in this retelling the characters are more invested than before in their inevitable connections. It's difficult to comment on this thematic difference without seeing where they will take it in the final two outings. This still seems to be a story about individuals ability to form meaningful connections with each other, the difficulties associated with this and how people are able to deal with extraordinarily brutal circumstances.

Before I accidentally slip into a thesis of what evangelion says about gender from a corporeal feminist reading as i am prone to do...let me end my review here. As ever the evangelion is a sophisticated psycological drama stretching to the extremes of human experience, cleverly encased in mecha. The new case is dynamic, terrifying, shiny and exciting. If like me the originals are ingrained in your psyche you may surprise yourself and enjoy the changes in the ritual of viewing evangelion. i for one was more disturbed by slight rewordings (which may have just as easily been translation differences) in 1.0 fretting over their possible meanings that I was by the near complete do-over of this film.

In life we can't go back and redo our experiences to change the outcomes, but our beliefs about life and self are built upon in a spiralling fashion. One doesn't change in a linear way but returns to old pillars of self in new ways past information adding meaning to new information. For this reason a rebuild of evangelion is true to life in a way that something entirely new or exactly like the old could never be.

372 le Matin (Betty Blue) (37.2 Degrees in the Morning)

After watching Dylan Moran send up the french in his stand up I had a craving for something typically french and sexy and chic. "Betty blue!" my companion suggested and I suppose the moral of that story is that something can seem to fulfill a brief without satisfying at all.

I was fairly instantly turned off by both leading characters,the furstration Betty expresses early on about zorg wasting his life painting houses when he's actually a hugely talented writer mirrored the frustration I felt with both of them and the film for most of it's epic duration. Lolling around in eclectic, weathered-but-beautiful settings with barely any clothes, lashing out at bystanders and each other for the most trivial occurrences, getting out of any truly difficult situation with luck so uncanny that it became a joke in itself...for me none of this read as 'love' and none of it translated into characters whose outcomes I cared for in the slightest.

Halfway through I was sure that that the film had been written by a man, not that there's anything wrong with that, but it was written by a man about a woman who is a force of nature, a creature, an adventure; someone who is to be distantly marvelled at and saved and at close range utterly intoxicates and destroys. I felt shut out because Betty did not seem at all like an actual human, troubled or otherwise and Zorg was little better as her worshipper/zookeeper.

Perhaps at 20 years of age one can't fault Betty for grating 10-year-old laugh or for lamenting that life has it in for her een though she does literally nothing to help herself and aspires to nothing for herself. Perhaps. Perhaps it is a lesson in empathy, people can struggle with situations that seem utterly trivial to others but, all things being relative, probably feel like the end of the world to them...perhaps.

All in all the film on me did not work as it was intended to work, where others had found brutal honesty I found stagnant falsisty, where others found aspirational romance I found irritation that these utterly selfish people probably exist and others care whether they live or die.

upon realisation that it was a directors cut that seemed like it would never end i gave up, i could see where it was going, i was encouraged that i would like the ending but felt there was no ending that could really satisfy. i felt strongly enough about it that i decided to review it anyway. so there.

Gentlemen Broncos

While Napolean Dynamite hit the mark with awkward charm its' creator is fast taking his stylistic quirks to a place of unavoidable failure. There was a lot to make one uncomfortable while watching this film, it was trying to hard, trying to hard to avoid appearing to try to hard, poo and vomit gags and a ridiculous premise that might have been interesting had it non been buried under a sea of affectations.

The lead is so understated he barely has a personality at all but is nonetheless a relief from the swarm of overdone supporting characters. I enjoy a good taxidermy deer visual joke as much as the next guy and Jemaine Clement (of flight of the conchords fame) is solid as the snooty sci-fi-author bad guy but this was verging on turning-off quality, i just can't help myself and have to see movie's to the end once I begin them. My loss, don't make the same mistake, avoid this one.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
½

12 minutes is certainly not very much time to deal with the theme of love's indescribability; with an hour and 36 minutes however you can certainly begin to skim the surface.

a qualm I have with woody allen films is that other performers and characters slip into sounding just like him now that he's no longer present as a character/performer himself. It's part of the signature of his films but sometimes it pulls me out of the moment seeing Rebecca Hall suddenly inhabited by Allen. It's likely the way he directs and writes dialogue. In annie hall nobody but allen seems allen-y because here's there doing it at 110% but as soon as you pull him out of the picture almost all of the characters, as is the case in this film, start to have random allenesque moments.

in any case there is much to distract from that minor annoyance, sunny picturesque spanish villages, beautiful people with their impossibly beautiful hair and a love polygon with a confusing number of sides. Over it all is a narration that reminded me of a bittier, less whimsical Royal Tenenbaums (I realise anderson was likely influenced by allen but forgive me, I am young, this is the way my head puts it) that somehow makes one feel better about indulging in viewing these indulgent lives.

As distant as these privileged lives may be from most people, there is great thematic ground covered here that I would expect to resonate with many. I could relate to Christina's feeling that she was searching and new only what she did not want, in my experience this had applied to things like career path, geographical residence and work/life balance I had never considered it that it could be applicable to love ands the number of ways one can incorporate it into one's life. wasn't love something that just happened and could not be planned for? perhaps but the film provokes that choices steer the way to the kind of romantic situation you are open to.

some degree of fatalism remains in the form of the unchangable nature of people's characters. juan antonio and marie elen are passionately in love but unable to overcome some unkown missing element that keeps them passionately at each others throats, christina is possibly perpetually dissatisfied and Vicky is fearful of her own passion as it diverges from her plans. Over the course of the film each character finds a secret key to a magical place where these unchangable features of their nature are overcome and they are given access to different world of experience. These trips are by there very nature transient. How sad this makes the film depends on whether you think people can continue to find such keys, will eventually find what they really want or will become trapped by their nature never to find real harmony with others.

I Heart Huckabees

Gosh darn it I like this film. It's silly and funny and well performed. It pokes fun at pretentious wankers but makes them sometimes endearing too. It pokes fun at pretentious wankery but still provides sudden moments of sense and insight.

Most will be put off by the content from the get go - but in spite of the strange conceit of an existential detective investigation which steers the entire plot- I assert that the film is not aiming for any sort of intellectual or philosophical heights. It's not trying to show you how clever it is or reveal a decipherable deep truth, most will assume that it is and get off on the wrong foot.

It works best as a sort of comical character study about people whose goals conflict, which is the simplest kind of story there is really. One of the more interesting subthemes in my opinion is that of middle america's view of people from developing countries. the 'tall african man' of the coincidence Albert investigates is limited to being a symbol in the main characters analysis of his life. He is used by Albert and those helping him to understand his feelings towards his parents- Mr. Stephen Nimieri's orphanage, adoption and immigration are not subjective a biography in their own right but tools in the main characters philosophical journey.

I also find it interesting that the one woman that takes on the existential detectives has a journey that is all about how she is looked at and how she appears while the male characters journeys are more about their actions and interactions with each other. this isn't too much of a bother since the female detectives are delightful, flawed, strong characters; I just can't help but casually gender study everything.

As a story about middle class white people trying to do good, getting it a bit wrong and being utterly baffled by this; i heart huckabees is a neat little story. Not as clever, profound, original or strange as other films it clearly admires eg being john malkovich. but still nifty.

No Country for Old Men
½

I think it's a movie about chance vs choice but I only figured that out in the last chapter and by then I had already given up interest. good performances for sure but overall I found it unfulfilling from any angle I could think of to view it from.

Inland Empire
½

I am David Lynch, I am making another film in which reality and fiction blur, in which identity is fluid or at least questionable, in which acting is sometimes being and being acting, in which directing is keeping a viewer unnerved by any means...I think...maybe this time I've alchemised the right elements, pushed the right boundaries...to open a door to a truer, primal reality where I am so fluent in the language of the collective unconcious that the connection between me and the viewer will be magical, and resonate and change our lived experiences...

...sadly for lynch Inland empire is not that time. There's no point introducing the narrative because it's particularly bare here (an actress gets a role in a film which turns out to be a cursed remake of a film based on a polish folk tale which was never finished due to the murder of the two leads, as life and film plot blur a nightmarish journey ensues, no further plot development occurs) I'm not saying that in criticism because its clear that narrative simply isn't the point. It is not clear however, what is the point. When interviewed lynch typically only ever offers the opinion that film should not be easily comprehended or experienced. Still, i thought i had come to appreciate the director's work enough that i could no longer feel such venomous frustration as i had after first viewing mullholland drive. If anything if feel more frustrated after inland empire, it had little more to offer to me than an exercise in endured cruelty.

With an outstanding cast of lynch regulars there are moments of light, but there's simply not enough to hold onto for 3 hours;the final hour in particular is like being led around an unfamiliar dark interior waiting for an inevitable sudden nightmarish vision of you-don't-know-what-yet. One is so fatigued by the journey that one wishes for this inevitable lynchian moment to be scarred on one's brain ASAP, "why is this still going?" and still, when it does, "why did i wish for that?". His bag of tricks: dialogue that is subversivley realistic but out of place, drawing out a moment so far that the length of time itself is the main cause of tension, heavily repeated visual clues (this film wants us to fear lamps for some reason) and disorienting structure. These elements are all used here, perhaps more heavily than ever and although not inelegant it is unfriendly and self indulgent.

It is a shame then that laura dern gives an exceptional performance, supported by other excellent performances, because few will endure the murky sea of the film to see them. Acting and being ...when one stops and the other begins...is a key theme here but if it weren't for the dern's apparent skill this too would have been unintelligable; you can see when she's acting at acting, when she's being an actress and when she's confused about which she is doing, it is quite a feat. in the first scene with Dern the long cuts of her face show an expression of increasingly perplexed fear and discomfort, it was a sign of what was to come both that this was the expression she would be directed to hold for the vast majority of the running time and that is was the expression the viewer would most likely have also. When she is given more action and more words to work with she shines and i was truly engaged but these moments are few and far between and by the multi-end ending I was just begging for another rabbit sitcom scene, a death and for it to all be over.

I usually wouldn't review a film like this without rewatching but the three hours was a big ask the first time around and i doubt I'll feel inclined to lose another three unless life takes a very dire turn indeed.

Teeth
Teeth (2007)

Never something I would have chosen to see but this turned out, bizarrely to be a fair bit better than the movie I paid to see earlier in the night! Once you get used to the tone and the severed penises it is actually quite beautifully filmed, funny, appropriately disturbing and oddball. the lead seemed to struggle early but she really grows on you and the character is quite the little trooper considering the absurdly awful week she is having.

The only problem I have is the notion that instant revenge somehow brings justice to sexual assaults. Not to say that i'm sure the film had that message but just that it would be worrying if it were read that way.

This is on the good side of trash, you know, the side where the bad things are good because they're so bad and there are enough little touches of actual greatness to keep it above average. It is entirely possible that my surprise at my very low expectations being surpassed has affected my judgment in this instance but what the heck give it a chomp.

The Men Who Stare at Goats

hmmm...yet another movie that I'm sort of wondering what the point was. i'm thinking in this instance the point was just to be funny, which it occasionally was. Clooney put in a likeable good performance everyone else was quite good as well but the tone was uneven and there was not nearly enough payoff for the premise. ho hum

Beautiful Kate

Ben mendelsohn get's a star and all to himself, one star for cinematographic beauty and another for the tex perkins score. This had been talked up a lot but I couldn't really figure out the point of it all. Don't raise your kids in isolation?

American Psycho
½

While the film is intended as a commentary on the hedonism of the 80s, I can't help but read it as an illustration of contemporary corporate behaviour. Bateman is very much like a corporation, considered to be a human entity by those around him which works to his benefit even though he doesn't quite consider himself human, uncontrollably driven by pursuit for wealth, incapable of empathy... I could go on and on. Most importantly, though, is the fact that Bateman gets away with horrendous deeds-more than even he thinks he should get away with-and the world around him mysteriously allows it.

Christian Bale's creation of the Bateman character is some of the best acting of the 1990s, for this alone the film would have been worth watching. Some have found the gender relations in the film problematic because of the violence against women. I have not read the book but I think the depictions of women in the film are balanced and varied. Witherspoon and Mathis' characters are a cartoonish part of the dark side that is being satirised, while the sex worker and the assistant are the only truly sympathetic characters in the film. The role of women in the film is consistent with the themes and character being explored.

Bateman is a character who is fiercely ammoral, superficial and objectifies all of the people in his life primarily through violence. By all accounts the book is a great deal more graphic and disturbing. What is terrifying in the film is not the violence itself but the character's sheer lack of empathy or beneficial social purpose, this is so perfectly depicted that I cant see how more graphic gore would have added to the point.

Overall this should probably be at least a 4 star movie there is much dark humour to enjoy, it is tight and well executed with outstanding performances. So i suppose it lost half a star for sheer personal preference; I can't fault the film but it's horror is distant and self contained, it is nihilistic and does not stir one to any particular action or keep one up at night either. Like Bateman, the film is what it is: a perfect monster with intellectual pull but without stirring emotional resonance.

Up
Up (2009)
½

honesty. wonder. fun.

Synecdoche, New York
½

I was sold in the first 10 minutes.

For me this movie succeeded in every way that I thought Adaptation failed. I found Adaptation impenetrably self absorbed, self concious about it's structure and devices and just basically mean spirited and joyless; Synecdoche NY could easily have these same criticisms levelled at it but it just felt so right to me. It was self concious in a way that rang emotionally and philosophically true, It was loving towards humanity while still achingly honest about our failings, it was a intricately specific portrait of a character but still resonated widely.

Moments rush into each other- with some of the best editing I've seen in years. Yes, you see the film-making, you never doubt that this is a piece of writing by a screenwriter, you notice the quality of the performances rather than just experiencing them because they are set within a surreal landscape, but all of these factors only made the experience more profound for me rather than less (like Adaptation or badly staged Brect). By the end I was exhausted it was certainly long and that will probably be the main reason people react against it.

I will be surprised if Kauffman ever manages to make another film because this felt like a "life's work" project, it felt like he put everything in it and made it about everything. Perhaps he will make short films on specific topics like greyhound racing or baking the worlds biggest cake.

Zombieland
Zombieland (2009)

America's answer to Shaun of the Dead opens with an American flag and anthem and then turns out not to say much about america specifically or zombies for that matter. Although these zombies vomit blood a lot, that could be new.
What it does do is use the zombie genre to make a simple, succinct little film crafted for a particular target market that I am probably part of.

*spoilers*
Such yummy ingredients as: Bill Murray cameo, mindless destruction of stuff in postapocalyptiic landscape, that guy who does comedy sorta how Michael Cera does (and may or may not have been doing it earlier and better...I don't want to start trouble), post-modern family of friends/misfits, Emma Stone doing her job by being likeable for both genders. These elements manage to push a film with simple structure, single step character developments and an unoriginal premise into the win column.

It will probably remain fun with reviewings too so, kudos. Still, it's not an epic win, I wont be chuckling or pondering upon it far into the future. So here's hoping I can remember the rules when the zombiepocalypse comes.

The Singing Detective

Charmless, uninteresting and bizarrely un-entertaining.
Surely it was weird and gimmicky enough to at least be a little interesting? surely!? but no. I didn't even like Robert Downey jr in this and that guy has likeability to spare. supporting cast do next to nothing with their roles, as if their brains are on holiday. Oh lord and the editing: do we really need to see montages including voiceovers of dialogue from the previous scene... we remember, it just happened. I'm sure it was all part of the style but there's no heart or substance to back it up here.

I usually don't give up on movies before the end but I went to bed 90% of the way through this one, in the firm belief it was unredeemable. This film is uncomfortable in it's own skin which is just no good to watch.

The Object of My Affection

It's not cool to love this movie. It's the least cool movie I own and the only 'romcom'. That I do love it may even discredit some of my other movie opinions.

I am unashamed. I watch this on pretty much a semiannual basis and have done since it came out on VHS. The cast, the performances, the message, the 90sness - I'm buying it all.

I hypothesise that the mind-blowingly stupid premise- a straight woman falling in love with a gay man and asking him to raise her child with her -probably lost it most of its star ratings and potential viewers.

This film is what I imagined being a grown up was like...oh wait it still is. It's about love, of course, but primarily it's not about sexual/romantic love but rather the rest of the loved ones. The ones that become your family from circumstance or because you choose them to be.

In regards to the romantic side of things, well, I don't want to spoil it for you but they key messages non-sickening and well delivered. The film is peppered with insights into class, NYC, theatre, relationships and family. Dialogue gems such as "freud doesn't know DICK about women", " and "don't set up your life so that you are alone just as you come to the middle of it". Best of all it doesn't treat you like an idiot...good-hearted optimist perhaps but not an idiot.

watch it, go on...you know you want to.

Mulholland Drive

Mulholland Dr. is a broken dream‚?¶
‚?¶ so it is fitting that expressing how I feel about it is akin to explaining a dream.

Lynch has made a career out of exploring the American dream and it‚??s dark underside. If Twin Peaks was the dream of wholesome small town life and Blue Velvet the dream of love and safety in suburbia then Mulholland Dr. is the dream of hollywood glamour, fame and romance.

Our leading characters are based on classic film archetypes the femme fatale and ‚??the good woman‚?? but neither remains true to type throughout. Without a male hero these types cease to function as perceptions of gender. Instead they are types people play in intimate relationships; who is being saved, who is being lured and who decides how these roles are cast? Do we wish that we could cast them differently?

The attempt to make dream like art is so rarely achieved. Dreams are too organically absurd to be written, and it‚??s difficult to capture the nothing-as-it-seems fluidity, the way people and objects are many things simultaneously and the unsettling atmosphere of the boundless internal unknown. This film is one of the few artworks to succeed at this without being pointless. The film is also an exploration of the other sense of the word dream- something we desire, hope and strive for, the flipside being the failure and disappointment of unfulfilled dreams.

I recently watched this film for the fourth time, my first viewing many years ago, and found that my ambivalence towards it had unexpectedly become love. I remember hating the film after I first saw it, I resented its incomprehensibility and this distracted me almost entirely from enjoying the ride. I thought the concept was a copout and that a plot so complex deserved more of a plot payoff. I know feel that the plot is quite simple just told in a complex way. The nature of the film, and perhaps its greatest failing, is that the narrative is indecipherable upon fist viewing. Granted, it is possible to figure most of it out in the last half hour but there‚??s so much working against you (that this is the most emotionally involving and least linear section of the film) that it‚??s a pretty big ask.

There is much to enjoy on the ride: the director‚??s terrible horrible no good very bad day; the noir mystery and romance; the contrast between candy coated hollywood and it‚??s cold corrupted reality; not to mention outstanding performances and masterful manipulation of suspense.

500 Days of Summer
½

As sweet as it is excruciatingly honest this is one of the best films ever made about a relationship that was not 'the one'. Just like an actual relationship you relish the sunny joy and it hurts to watch the cracks form. Both leading performers glow (and they're easy on the eye) you break with them even though you are warned.

My only criticism is that the last few minutes weren't neccesary to the message of the film and weakened the credibility of the plotting. It was like a lollipop after a doctor visit -it made you feel cheery for a moment but the work the doctor did in the appointment is what will really keep you healthy in the long term. This was all that made the film less than perfect for me.

I was actually expecting a bleaker outlook but the film actually maintains the highest romantic ideals that it threatens to call into doubt. While the message is not easy it's one everyone needs to hear.

I had the uncomfortable experience while watching this film of realising that I am a target market. The soundtrack could have been a play list on my ipod, the mix of emotional reality and stylised backdrop was spot on, the cast were the kind of people I could imagine being friends with or falling in love with. I am confident however that the appeal is broader than the target market of me; recommended to all humans

Wuthering Heights

While successful in some aspects it lacks a lot of the conflict and emotional pull that made the novel a classic. A lot of characters and plot points were 'nicened-up' too much and the portrayal of Heathcliff wasn't compelling enough to drive you to either love or hate him. Even throwing in some extra sex didn't save it from an early death.

Moon
Moon (2009)

Pleasantly surprising, tight little film with big thoughts behind it. I was expecting an extremely bleak, soul destroying experience in the vein of Solaris, Sunshine, Event Horizon etc etc. I was still nervous this would be the case early on but was surprised more than once.
Teeny tiny screen debut for Kaya Scodelario of Skins fame but a gem nonetheless, Sam Rockwell deserves stardom and we should all keep an eye out for the shining future of Bowie jnr.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Oh come on, how can you not like this film. John hughes was the grand overlord of putting all that's absurdly cheesy and sitting it beside moments of real emotional honesty. I would argue that the relationships are more complex than a surface viewing would reveal which always keeps me interested on re-viewings. At the same time it's just a glimpse at these characters, a short, fast, lighthearted adventure, fun for fun's sake.
Makes you want let loose and to live to full, at least for one day :)

Pretty in Pink
½

Is it aproblem that myfavourite john hughes movie isn't even directed by John Hughes? I think not. Pretty in pink is like Jane Austen in the 1980s, sweet simple love story with dramatic elements that still work emotionally even though it's all bit silly. I even buy the chemistry between ringwald and her creepily-always suit-jacket-wearing 'richie' crush. Ducky is rad. I feel his new-romantic pain. I have always enjoyed the Father's performance in this too, even moreso now that I sit it next to his ominous turn on Big Love.

Yummy 80s deliciousness. this will be the highpoint of your girly sleepover video night.

Sixteen Candles
½

oh man so much awkwardly racist and crude badness. still contains truthful elements and loads of fun making it worthy of an 80s video night.

Sleepless in Seattle
½

Overflowing with 1990s heartwarming-ness. Hanks charms, Ryan tries to charm and jilted lovers take rejection unrealistically well.
The premise: that love should be magic, with undertones of fatalism and stalking. You want it to end well for the characters so the script does it's job.
Not something I'd come back to with a tub of icecream on a lonely night though.

The Ring
The Ring (2002)
½

I guess I thought that with such an absurd premise the execution and atmosphere would be superb to make it creepy enough to be a thriller. They were not. Likely they were better in the original.
Furthermore the kid that you're meant to care about is creepier than the kid that's meant to be creepy. the stars I have given are for naomi watts who did her darndest to make this thing float.

Bad Manners
Bad Manners (1998)

To be fair the context in which I saw this was late night on tv. I kept expecting it to become soft porn the way movies at that time sometimes do. It didn't.

Instead it was an exploration of trust. Sort of like the play 'proof' but with ethnomusicology instead of mathematical theory. a 'quote' of an old religious composition appears in a contemporary composition that has been created by computer programs from random sequences or something. also $50 goes missing.

mistrust makes everything descend into a chaos of accusations and interpersonal misconduct between wordy academics. the moral: don't invite ex lovers to stay over. come on kids that's an easy one.

the other moral: probably when there's an ethnomusicologist character giving a dissertation at harvard it's not going to turn into hilarious soft porn. oops.

An Inconvenient Truth

The impact this film made cannot be questioned: it created widespread awareness of one specific aspect on humanity's destruction of the environment.

I didn't see the film at the time because I was already environmentally aware and having seen it now I am a bit shocked it managed to stir such a response in people. I like the films message and I like Al Gores work, but I didn't like that the film was pleading for hero worship -it was desperate in the wrong way.

If you already understand global warming and especially if you have broader interest in environmental issues this film has nothing to offer but emotional manipulation, simple visuals to explain it to you like you are a child and lot's of people cheering for Al Gore.

I agree that much needs to be done but carbon is not the only problem and industry not just individuals need to make big changes.

Watchmen
Watchmen (2009)
½

After an engaging opening sequence the film dissintegrated for me.
How can something be so heavy-handed and still leave me wondering what the point of it all was. I suppose it was about whether or not the end justifies the means- a theme I usually find interesting- but it didn't add anything new to the discussion nor did it explore it with great depth.

Were these superheroes?They never showed any of the superheros doing anything heroic or straightfowardly good...except for the cheesy fire rescue scene. They did show them all doing awful things though. Were we meant to assume they did good things too, at some point in the past? Apart from dr Manhattan we don't have an explanation fro why any of them were 'super' what made them qualified to do this? did they just train hard? it seemed like they just chose to be superheros like you'd choose to be a dentist.

It was hard work connecting with any of the characters for me. and there was not enough contrast between them. the 'nice' ones were wishwashy dull. Rorshach's dark knight-esque voice distracted me from what he was actually saying but once i got used to it he was often humorously dark.

Visually stunning, it went from 2 and a half stars to three because of Rorshachs mask alone.


Overall uneven: there are brilliant moments but at such a length these weren't enough to make a convincing whole.

The Thief of Bagdad

I think this is sort of my new favourite movie! Make way Donnie Darko and Fight Club; schooch over Royal Tenebaums and eternal sunshine!
Maybe it was late night delirium setting in when I caught this on ABC or maybe it was how much fun it ways to count the ways Aladdin had copied it but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I now begin my hunt for a dvd copy!
Any of the effects that sucked by contemporary standards were nonetheless enjoyable for comic or nostalgic value. It's much nicer to see the prop horse turn into an actual horse than see both these things done in cg any day and the blue 'green screen' glow only adds to the magic.
For something older than my mother this film sure has spunk!

Lila Says
Lila Says (2005)

Half a star for performances alone another half because the filmaking itself is obviously competent. Neither of these necessary elements could save me from the outrage and disappointment this film stirred in me.
It is predictable for all the wrong reasons. Lila is an all-talk sexually provocative young girl, she doesn't care what people think of her especially when she deems them not worthy of her time or energy (and is proven right on all counts). The viewer is invited to enjoy her as an erotic object, be shocked by her openness and judge her all at once. I suppose this could be fair since the film is from the perspective of a bewildered young man but, it's nothing novel and nothing is learned from the experience. Although the lead comes off as a good guy who was in over his head in his misunderstanding of this bold and unusual girl, I thought the film as a whole was deeply misogynistic.
*subtle spoilers follow*
The final 'revelation' of Lila's innocence was possibly the most offensive aspect of theplot because it implied that if she had really done all the things she talked about her bleak fate was, if not justified, at least understandable.
It should make no difference and suggesting otherwise was storytelling.
As a character study of Lila it fails because she is not given a voice after the climax of the plot, as coming of age drama it was disturbing and as a window on society's failings I fear that it perpetuated the problems it thinks it was just illustrating.
I'm not sure which it thinks it was, but it is rumored that it may have been a true story, which explains why the conclusion's focus is unjustly skewed on the protagonists feelings of failure and confusion instead of the perspective of the victim-and I hesitate to call her that because she's stronger than the lot of them albeit troubled- Lila.
The title isn't ironic for the reason it is intended to be, it's ironic because lina get's no final word in the tale.

Battle Royale 3D

The concept is more disturbing than the gore itself. It's possible you wont get over it for the duration of the movie. I certainly didn't.
There are layers of interest however; black humour, social commentary and suspense. the pace is fast yet as a viewer i was constantly thinking rather than just being swept along.
Still some things miss the mark and are just plain cheesy. This was my second viewing with some years since the first and I found that I preferred it the second time although it probably had more emotional impact the first time.

Once
Once (2007)

Sweet and simple. Power to them.

Sex and the City
½

The experience of seeing this film, in a room full of (at least 85%) women some of whom dressed up for the occasion and sipped the free cosmopolitan cocktails provided by the cinema was culturally an exciting experience -there is cheering and unity that the non-sports fans like myself can find in few other situations. Still the film itself was cheesier and more predictable than I ever could have imagined. I think it let down the tv show somewhat in this regard. I also felt the tv series ending was far more satisfying. Still it was nice to be reunited with these charming, iconic characters as they embark on a more grown up stage of life and it's good to see women over 40 dominating the big screen with such popular success.

This Film is Not Yet Rated
½

Although the intentions were good I was unconvinced by the core of this movie. Rating isn't censorship-obviously the films that get the nc17 have a huge market shut off but they aren't banned. The most interesting theories were that the rating board are uncomfortable with female sexual pleasure and that more films get nc17 for sexual reasons that violence ones. Nonetheless these arguments weren't very strongly supported since more of the examples they gave (American psycho and Boys don't cry) did also contain some pretty high level violence. Kevin Smith was surprisingly the most insightful interviewee suggesting that gory violence where you can see the consequences should be the only kind allowed to children while the kind where you shoot a dozen people and none of them bleed is only safe for adults that understand how un-real this is.
The part about revealing the identities of the raters may have seemed like a worthwhile exercise but it was not compelling viewing. And when the filmaker has his own ratings review hearing I start to question his social intelligence.

The Nanny Diaries
½

Pulled on emotional strings but not in any original sort of way. Love interest (and many other cast members) unengaging. but there are worse ways to spend 2 hours. At least it made it's point.

Stardust
Stardust (2007)
½

sweet fantasy indulgence and what a stellar cast!

Be Kind Rewind
½

simpler, happier, less ambitious movie than his others. fun sweet and worth seeing.

I'm Not There

It seems like an age since I first heard about this film and began to look forward to it. Reasons that I would like it seemed to be mounting as it drew nearer: splitting an identity into different characters seemed like such a novel way to tackle a biography, I am interested in multiplicity, in personal mythologies, I was impressed by the cast and I like Dylan well enough. Furthermore as one of the minority that actually enjoyed Velvet Goldmine I thought I was in with a good chance of liking this film a lot. It is with sadness that I must say my high hopes were, perhaps inevitably, let down.

Disappointingly, one would have to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the life of Bob Dylan to find this film truly engaging. That is the only thing that could give a viewer enough solid ground on which to stand to truly enjoy this cinematic tornado. For the average moviegoer (or even art house movie frequenter) it is an exhausting experience. It‚??s not the disjointed, non-linear plotting itself that causes this but the disjointed energy levels, which rise and fall so frequently it makes one seasick. If there was any shape it all it was that of rambling journey movie with each Dylan at some time running from his other selves or those who love them. The strongest through line is between the young ‚??woody guthrie‚?? character and the old ‚??billy the kid‚?? character who both literally chase trains to carry them away to new destinations.

The viewer finds themselves clinging to certain characters they can engage with and being hurled away from them a moment later. For me those were Charlotte Gainsbourg‚??s long suffering wife character who found resonance of her ending marriage in the end of the Vietnam War and Cate Banchett‚??s Jude.

I could never have enough praise for Cate Blanchett and this performance further cemented my belief that she is the best actor working today. I am willing to sword fight anyone who doubts that. There was enough contradiction and interest wrapped up in her depiction of the Dylan around the time that he plugged in and became Jud(as) that the other 5 characters are almost redundant at showing that he is a complex and conflicted individual. But I have to admit that a great deal of the pleasure I derived from these scenes was a result of having seen one of those 60s Dylan documentaries that follow him on the road and that even these parts of the film would hardly have been so compelling without that background. I should stress that it‚??s not just a pleasure in imitation- although Blanchett nails the lines that were largely lifted from these interviews and placed in different settings- but pleasure in their interpretation. There were things that I was able to understand in a different way hearing them this way, filtered through these layers of artifice, than having heard them documented originally.

That‚??s how I imagine a lot of the rest of the film must have been like for viewers who knew a great deal more about Dylan. This was a kind of mythologising that was only valuable if you knew what reality it was referring to. It was not as I had hoped; that the film would show that myth is a truer way to see someone‚??s life than neatly stringing together events, that it can serve as a window into collective unconscious or at least as a window into one person‚??s subconscious in whom we can see reflections of ourselves. Even during the parts you are ‚??in‚?? on you feel alienated because there seems to be little point to the artifice of naming a character Coco who is so clearly Edie Sedgewick (in spite of a clumsy performance by Michelle Williams). At times there‚??s something disquieting, as it was in parts of velvet goldmine, about mythologising real people for example the extension of the character of dylan‚??s interviewer from the 60‚??s documentaries into some kind of grand enemy figure in more than one of Dylan‚??s lives. It feels too artificial without adding much in return. Each time you hear jack or Robbie you are again thrust out of the illusion because they are all Bob Dylan but as the title suggests, he is not there, he is not allowed or forced to be a single, whole person at any time. Even when we are left with one of the versions of him for any length of time the others are felt as ghosts in voiceovers or music-video-like cut scenes. None of them are a ‚??primary‚?? or ‚??main‚?? Bob Dylan and each is used as a strengthening metaphor to accompany moments of apparent reality in one of the others‚?? stories.

Perhaps some people will be able to enjoy it on that music video like level but its one very long music video. You really feel the length of this movie and my two friends and I all came out feel drained. A group of three people walked out of our cinema with only about ten minutes remaining which perhaps wasn‚??t a great loss for them because it felt as though it could have ended about 6 times before it actually did with the ending no more satisfying than earlier cut offs would have been.

The films very existence poses a challenge to the notion that a life can be unproblematically depicted in a traditional film structure but it does not go very far in offering good solution or alternative. I still think there is a great deal of promise in some of the biographical techniques employed and hopefully will not scare other filmmakers away from trying similar techniques with more success.

Assuming you can afford ticket price it‚??s worth it for Blanchett‚??s performance alone. There are bound to be other scattered moments that anyone can appreciate but as a viewer you have to work hard for them; shifting in your seat, tolerating directorial masturbation and trying to piece together a skeleton of Bob Dylan from all these people‚??s parts.

Lost In Translation

Another movie that I adore for it's tone more than anything. But then the tone is always, more than half of a Sofia Coppola film's substance.

She seems to intuitively understand the language of film. She is masterful at creating a feeling unique to each film within a style that is uniquely her own. I appreciate strong voices in direction.

oh dear I can't begin to discuss content because I wont be able to stop.

Secretary
Secretary (2002)

It's all about the look on her face at the end of the film. It is a loud and proud look just daring you to judge her.

I think of it as being a very honest film and also very brave. The message for me was that one should define their desires and needs for themselves. These two characters have an understanding and an (unexpectedly) equal relationship.

Challenges tired but trusted ideas about female sexuality. Especially that there is no power in a passive role/position. Passive is perhaps not even the right word as we see how active such a role actually is, the energy, intelligence, thought and commited effort that the character puts into it.

It could have gone horribly wrong in the wrong hands but the direction is smart, witty and unexploitative and the actors are intelligent, sensitive and in control. Structurally and emotionally it's much the same journey as in conventional romances which is part of what makes it such an effective film.

"You are the child of god's holy gift of life. You come from me. But you are not me. Your soul and your body are your own, and yours to do with as you wish. "

I, Robot
I, Robot (2004)
½

aint it just the longest shiniest converse commercial you've ever seen

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

You know what? I really liked this film. I really did. I think it got an unfairly bad rap from most people. Perhaps it was because it was slightly disturbing or cold, perhaps the length perhaps people were just damn tired of haley joel osment.

It is emotionally manipulative but not in a way that made me resent it. It highlighted already frightening aspects of the pinocchio story as well as issues about love especially parental love and what responsibility we have to those who love us.

Part of the disturbing tone comes, I think, from the confused meeting of kubrik and speilberg. We can feel the concerns and tendencies of both here and it's never a harmonious meeting.

There are a few particularly disturbing scenes - some in a grab-some-tissues emotionally manipulative spielberg way some in a twisted hopeless kubrick way but odds are you'll be disturbed by something.

It actually takes well to repeated viewings if you are unsure and willing to give it another go. It looks shiny and stark. It glows but is never warm. Even the charming talking teddy has a metal core.

but it's too damn long isn't it? the edurance effort is part of the experience of he film. and it's appropriate it gives a sense of being a robot - stuck here for so damn long you outlive real people.

Akira
Akira (2001)

I've heard it said that the problem with akira was that it tried to fit diverse and complex plots into a single -and not lengthy -movie.
Perhaps this is true although at the time of viewing i couldn't pinpoint why I felt dissatisfied. was it just that I had it in mind that it was supposed to be the best Anime movie of all time?

In any case Apart from sympathising with the magical old children people in the institution I could form no other conection with the charcters. Nor could I find anything particularly impressive or compelling in the plot. For these reasons I watched it as if it were more of a passing freakshow.

On this level it was quite good. As a rule I enjoy narratives in which order descends into chaos. So I enjoyed the shape of it even though the slope towards chaos began almost immediately.

What has stuck with me most are the strking images of Tetsuo's climatic deformity and the giant "scary" teddy made from milk and toys. There was certainly something fearful about a body that is increasing explosively and repulsively. Fear of ones own body and lack of control over it are very interesting to me. the (not so) scary bear was just wicked cute.

I regret that it did not live up to either the hype or the potential of it's promising introduction. still worthy viewing.

Adaptation
Adaptation (2002)

Clever but there wasn't much beyong the cleverness that I was able to conect with. Nice performance from Nicholas Cage who I don't usually like. It's a film thats hard to like since it I wants us to be detatched - with the plot and structure of the film turning back on itself you can't journey through it the way you normally would. Again, admirable and clever but hard to like.

Garden State
Garden State (2004)

A disarmingly charming film. For once I felt like i was part of a target audience AND that the film satisfied the demands of my comrades and I.

Revelant, honest insights into life direction, priorities and the importance of finding conection with others. Endearing characters well portrayed by a capable cast. Revealed Zach Braffs potential as a creator of film and a performer.

Sweet without making you gag!

Requiem for a Dream

A thoroughly traumatic , though well executed, vision of the hell people make for themselves.

I appreciated that the Mother characters original addictions to crappy tv and caffiene were also shown to be destructive. Sometimes addiction itself is what drains life of worth not the particular substance or what other subtances it may lead to. Smart cinematography and exceptional performances from the entire ensemble.

Nonetheless I could not watch it again. It was two intense for me to be able to stand back and viewit intellectually or in appreciation of it's art.

This makes it all the more sucessful in my mind -not great for dvd sales.

Birth
Birth (2004)
½

I am strangely generous to this film. It's pace and tone were quite unique in spite of visual /plot reference to other films like the shining and rosmary's baby.

Kept me thinking.

Shin seiki Evangelion GekijŰ-ban: Air/Magokoro wo, kimi ni  (Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Eva

practically perfect in every way. everything upsetting, confusing or disturbing is nonetheless perfectly so. watch me bow down and worship this false prophet.

V for Vendetta

strange film. I'm not entirely comfortable with it's philosophy/morality although some aspects are both inspiring and liberating.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

classic. the bicycles the glowing fingers these are images that continue to echo through my visual conciousness. sweet story.

Love Actually

not as impressive as the hype made it seem.

Mean Girls
Mean Girls (2004)
½

Again not my kind of film but very good for what it is. A highlight of the teeny genre. why is this film is the love section? at it's best moments it's funier than any that were listed in the comedy section?

There's Something About Mary

the half star is for the "Build me up buttercup" in the credits otherwise it wouldn't have gotten any

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

i loved this back in the day. I'm sure it wouldn't be getting such a igh rating from me if i had watched it now.

Spider-Man
Spider-Man (2002)

a lot of fun for the kind of movie it is. Nonetheless batman is the only caped crusader who can ever truly command my attention

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

and all those stars are for the cg rendering of aslan, the battalion of gryphons, the faun and the pdugy cheeked cute little girl. which as a percentage of the screen time of the overall movie doesn't leave so many stars.