Matt Richter's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Ernest & Cťlestine

this charming and beautifully drawn/painted french-belgian animated feature is one of the more adorable things i've seen in awhile.

La Cara Oculta

a deliciously clever and stylish spanish-colombian thriller.

Upside Down
Upside Down(2013)
½

fantastically original premise & stunning stunning visuals meet cringey acting and silly silly story.

Man of Steel
Man of Steel(2013)
½

i couldn't get over how much amy adams' portrayal of lois lane reminded me of jenna fischer's pam beesley from 'the office' & how henry cavill's clark kent reminded me of joe manganiello's alcide from 'true blood'-but at least this was more suitable. it was really russell crowe (jor-el) who stole the show tho. and that's quite a compliment coming from me, cos i'm generally not the greatest fan of our russ. overall i guess the film hit all the marks it needed to and i particularly liked the opening on krypton. zack snyder certainly has an inspiring handle on modern visual effects and it was wonderfully utilised. i'm so over the whole aliens-and-their-tech-causing-chaos-in-a-major-city shtick tho. we seem to have had so much of it in recent years with transformers and the avengers and others. unfortunately 'man of steel' follows this without bringing too much innovation. i'm eagerly anticipating how Guillermo del Toro's upcoming 'Pacific Rim' will show us all how these films are really done!

It's a Disaster

Great characters, hilarious script and an ensemble cast (featuring David Cross, Arrested Development's Tobias!) with impeccable comic sensibilities ensure that 'It's a Disaster' is no disaster. I laughed heartily many times throughout. What's with this current spate of end-of-the-world comedies though? Last year had the hilarious Spanish film 'Extraterrestrial' and the awful 'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World'. Seth Rogen's 'This is the End' just opened & in a few months there'll be Edgar Wright's 'The World's End'. Have I forgotten any?

Stoker
Stoker(2013)
½

Chan-wook Park is undoubtedly one of my most favourite directors, so I've been really looking forward to his newest film Stoker for some time. It's also his first English-language feature, so I was intrigued to see what spin that might put on his work. So here's the deal: I pretty much loved it. It's not gonna displace 'Oldboy' as my favourite of his films, but it's still a tremendous showcase of his talents. As expected, it's a highly atmospheric, somewhat twisted, experience with exquisite imagery & visual symbolism and contains some sequences that i could only describe as the work of a true master. This will probably sound quite amusing, but when i see most films these days, i actually think that with about 10 years of training and experience and the right opportunities, i could produce something as good or better (of course, i'd probably discover quite quickly how untrue this is, haha). But when I see a Chan-wook Park film, I know that even if I devoted the remainder of my entire life to the craft of filmmaking, I could never hope to achieve something as special as what I'm seeing. One thing that surprised me about Stoker was how impressive the sound design was! And somewhere along my journey of anticipation I'd forgotten that Clint Mansell, one of my favourite film composers (he scored 'The Fountain' OMG), was providing the music and it was great too. Despite the glowiness of my words so far, Stoker certainly won't be appreciated by everyone. It wouldn't qualify as mainstream and its dark undercurrents and tone that moves from disconcerting to downright disturbing, will certainly turn some away. Even a fan like me found something about the setting of the film keeping me at more of a distance than I'd have liked. I'm not sure if that had something to do with Wentworth Miller's script (yep, the same guy who starred in the hit TV series Prison Break a few years back) cos for the most part it seemed ok. The decidedly Aussie flavoured cast (Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Jacki Weaver... along with Brit, Matthew Goode) were great. I think I'd have to see Stoker again to decide whether I'd give it 4 or 4.5 stars, but I'm feeling generous for now, so I'll go with 4.5 ;)

Zarafa
Zarafa(2015)
½

a beautiful hand-drawn animated french film filled with an endearing grand adventure vibe.

Side Effects
Side Effects(2013)

A very high quality psychological thriller from Steven Soderbergh. Unpredictable and clever in the best ways. Great cast and very handsomely shot.

Thale
Thale(2013)

a beautifully haunting little norwegian creature thriller. a great example of focused genre filmmaking.

Dredd
Dredd(2012)
½

this straight-up hardcore sci-fi action spectacle is basically 'The Raid' set in a dystopian future. whilst i generally prefer films which are smarter, this is ok once in awhile-especially when it's as stunningly well shot as this one is.

Premium Rush
Premium Rush(2012)
½

a very fun and lively little action thriller. one of the better ones. it features a heap of frenetic bike messenger riding thru the busy streets of NYC. and the time pops up on screen so often you'll feel like you're watching '24'! joseph gordon-levitt, who i quite like, stars as wilee (yep, like the coyote) and michael shannon plays an antagonist with a voice that sounds like he should be doing voiceover on a looney tunes cartoon‚"but it works ok.

Ruby Sparks
Ruby Sparks(2012)

a quirky rom-com with a poignant and clever psychological foundation. it'll probably please people looking for something fun as well as leave a lot to ponder for those more cerebrally-motivated.

The Secret World of Arrietty

not as epic or grand in scope as some other studio ghibli films, but it's still filled with their signature beauty and charm. i loved the sense of calm in this film. i find western animated features regularly attempt to throw your emotions to extremes. arrietty isn't void of drama, but it's a more soothing, peaceful, family-friendly experience. a big standout of this production was the sound design. i suppose in a similar way to how macro photography opens up a whole new world of detail, when the faintest of sounds are suddenly brought into the fore, it creates a wondrous new soundscape which immeasurably helps us experience the world of the little borrowers.

Moonrise Kingdom

wes anderson. he certainly has a unique and singular style. i'm not sure if i can do a good job of describing it, but i'll try. character dialogue is very prominent, a bit like a tarantino film, and delivered with a matter-of-fact deadpan-ness, and all infused with a quirk somewhat reminiscent of the coen bros. every shot has been thoughtfully and painstakingly composed with a definite emphasis on symmetry, straight horizontal and vertical lines and movement, and a distinctive warm vintage colour tone. the only other wes anderson film i've seen is 'the fantastic mr.fox' and it didn't really work for me. but maybe you have to see at least a couple of his films to appreciate the style, cos i liked this tale of two young runaways a lot. quirkily endearing in the best way. hugely impressive cast including bruce willis and bill murray. and young star jared gilman looks like a mini J.J. Abrams! and i can't end this without mentioning that scripty typeface they use for the poster and all in-movie titles. it must've been carefully selected to suit the style, but i think it looks awful!

My Wedding And Other Secrets
½

adorable and touching NZ indie coming-of-age, cross-cultural-relationship, semi-autobiographical film with songs by Bic Runga, yay.

Looper
Looper(2012)
½

in my experience lately, hi-concept sci-fi has been quite good ('source code', 'the adjustment bureau', 'inception') or very bad ('in time' and by all reports this year's 'total recall' remake tho i haven't seen it yet). thankfully 'looper' proves to be a very positive entry in the genre!

388 Arletta Avenue
½

a terrifying, nightmare-inducing, tale shot entirely thru a malevolent stalker's surveillance cams.

Abandoned
Abandoned(2010)

i watched this movie. don't make my mistake.

Friends With Benefits
½

director Will Gluck's follow-up to the very enjoyable 'Easy A' is just as fun. within an expected rom-com structure is sharp writing and a fantastic cast. cameos from rashida jones & jason segel were hilarious (they even feature in the scene after the credits) and even masi oka (heroes :) is in there! as you may expect, its MA15+ classification is well deserved. another 2011 film, 'No Strings Attached', was based on the same idea, but 'Friends With Benefits' is infinitely more watchable.

The Woman in the Fifth

a melancholy, arty, euro-drama with a psychological twist in which nothing really happens until the last 15 mins. and when it does, it all seems a bit ridiculous.

The Amazing Spider-Man
½

i'm more into grittier superhero films and the spider-man deal doesn't really go there. this lighter stuff can still be pretty cool though and the start of this rebooted spider-man series is certainly that. the casting is exceptional and director marc webb ((500) days of summer) injects definite substance into these characters and their relationships. the action style and minority-report-ish visual effects look great too. i can't decide whether the success of this film justifies Sony rebooting the franchise so soon. i reckon it has more promise than sam raimi's recent trilogy, but that doesn't change the fact that half of this story is the same as raimi's first one. and this created a deja-vu effect that i found a bit distracting. now that the origin stuff is sorted tho, the following films will probably take on more of a unique identity.

Our Idiot Brother
½

i thought this would be funnier. but even if it's considered a dramedy, the necessary charm is largely hidden by inconsistent character writing & awkward directing. so the talented ensemble cast don't get much of a chance to shine. still, it was just good enough to keep me watching.

Contestant (Concursante)

this spanish film is a frenetic black comedy about a man who wins a huge tv show prize. it's packed with the kind of european quirkiness you'd see in something like 'Amelie', but it's a very different story which serves more as cutting economic satire. anyone with a background in finance will have an even greater appreciation for this film. i only came across Concursante after enjoying director Rodrigo Cort√ (C)s' more recent film 'Buried' and wanting to see what other films he'd made.

Martha Marcy May Marlene
½

disturbing and unsettling, but incredibly powerful. very strong filmmaking.

Repo Men
Repo Men(2010)
½

a violent, low-brow, unconvincing variant of 'minority report'. near-future visuals, production design & futurey jazz/lounge soundtrack are all strong tho.

Batman: Year One
½

with this latest DC/WB animated feature, i applaud their intention to do a more character/themes focused story‚??and indeed this is probably a little more about james gordon than bruce wayne/batman‚??unfortunately i felt it all just came across as a bit flat. the cast were ok...i mean, bryan cranston (breaking bad) as james gordon seems like a piece of masterstroke casting and eliza dushku does well as selina kyle/catwoman, so it's more likely that the weak link is the execution of voice directing and writing. the frank miller graphic novel this is adapted from is quite highly regarded. and tho i haven't read it, i suspect it works better as a GN than in this animated feature form. visually the feature looks pretty good tho. the standout of this release for me tho was the additional/bonus 15min catwoman animated short written by paul dini. there's some outstanding action editing and fanboy moments on display here... now if only it was the main feature ;)

Office Space
Office Space(1999)

if incredibly overacted performances can also be perfectly nuanced, then that's what everyone in this cast manages to pull off. the success of the film comes from the uncanny way these office life archetypes are portrayed. for me it occasionally fell a little flat, but never for long.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
½

a very fun and at times surprisingly tense doco about the 2 best players in the world of the retro arcade game 'donkey kong'. initially i found this so enjoyable because some of the geek personalities were so pronounced, i found myself wondering if this was a parody-doco. of course they're fully legit though, which made it all very endearing. and as it went on, i was genuinely drawn into the emotion of their unusual rivalry.

The Debt
The Debt(2011)

an intelligent espionage drama thriller whose tension and geniune emotional involvement were much stronger than i was expecting. extremely well directed and shot, but the highly impressive editing made it even better! the tone was expertly handled at every turn. this is indeed smarter and more impacting than your average film. jessica chastain and helen mirren playing the same character in time periods thirty years apart were both superb.

Haywire
Haywire(2012)

haywire is certainly one of the better stylish action/thrillers i've seen. extremely well shot and well directed with a sensational cast. the hand-to-hand fighting sequences have a refreshingly 'real' style about them where gina carano's mixed-martial-arts background comes to the fore. cool poster too.

The Beaver
The Beaver(2011)

i wouldn't have been interested in seeing this at all, except that i learnt it was written by kyle killen, whose work i admired very much from his recent tv show 'awake'. i was still surprised at just how strong, engaging and affecting i found it. sometimes quirky and funny and other times dark and impacting, jodie foster handles this tricky directing feat very well indeed. and the whole cast are fantastic.

The Disappearance Of Haruhi Suzumiya (Suzumiya Haruhi no shŰshitsu)

if you're a fan of the anime series 'the melancholy of haruhi suzumiya', you probably already know this movie continuation is a must-watch (if you aren't, you'll have no interest in it whatsoever). the extremely generous running time of 2hr44min makes this into basically another half-season :)

Black Heaven (L'Autre Monde)
½

engrossing french psychological thriller surrounding some dark links between an online game and the real world. interestingly, the main musical theme reminded me of the music in the anime series .hack//SIGN which deals with the same themes.

John Carter
John Carter(2012)

so you're probably in a spot of bother when your best character is an (albeit adorable) monster-dog sidekick. all the other main characters seemed like try-hard indiana jones/star wars archetypes. the film was largely filled with cheese, melodrama and overacting. the storytelling wasn't particularly well focused and the musical score was more reminiscent of a 30-yr old adventure film. but on the good side, there was that loveable monster-dog! oh and some reasonable concepts. and i felt it did get better in the final third. so overall worth a bare pass mark of 2.5 stars. but i did very much like the ending... well, the last 10 minutes or so which almost acted as more of a coda. so i bumped it up to 3 stars ;) the big disappointment of course is that for all the money and work put into this film, it really should've been so much better. if andrew stanton decides to direct another live-action film, i hope he's learnt valuable lessons from the missteps of this project. otherwise i'd be happy to see him return to making awesome pixar animations like his previous WALL-E.

A Little Help
½

the writing, acting & directing really nailed that difficult tragicomedy/dramedy vibe in this enjoyable indie film. one spot of intercutting repeatedly between two scenes was very clever! Jenna Fischer is probably even better in this than in her popular role as Pam on 'The Office' (US). I was only gonna give it 3 stars, but then I did actually pause this about 20 times throughout to play 'Draw Something' on my iPhone and I'm sure that interrupted the flow for me somewhat ;)

The Hunger Games
½

it is kinda nice to see a much-hyped blockbuster more-or-less live up to the hype. my only issue with it was the overall effect was less intense than the book it's based on. if i edited this film, i would've hit the key moments significantly harder... then we would've had something really special! although perhaps my cut wouldn't have qualified for the US's PG-13 rating which they were undoubtedly aiming for to maximise audience size (tho my imagined cut would've been fine for Australia's M15 rating which is what it got here anyway). So if you're wondering whether to read the book(s) first or see the film, i'd def recommend the books. but if you're not so into reading, this film is still an effective adaptation. very watchable and entertaining.

Redline
Redline(2011)

this futuristic racing anime feature is packed with style

Perfect Sense
½

a beautiful, haunting, profound and impacting film. a love story in glasgow set against the backdrop of a unique apocalyptic vision where everyone on earth first loses their sense of smell and the other senses systematically follow. you kinda have to be in the right mood for a film like this tho. i found it all strangely compelling, thanks in no small part to the astounding cinematography. oddly tho, it has one of the worst film posters i've seen for awhile.

The Muppets
The Muppets(2011)

my fav bits were the 80's robot, the kidnapping of jack black & the man or muppet song :)

The Wackness
The Wackness(2008)

sorta reminded me of '(500) days of summer' mixed with 'breaking bad' mixed with 'daydream nation' along with an over-infatuation of mid-90's NY culture. some of character stuff was beautifully authentic and affecting, but the rest of it didn't gel that well for me. josh peck was great tho and it was shot really well.

Restless
Restless(2011)
½

a bittersweet, quirky, whimsical indie drama about a boy who has conversations with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot and also attends memorial services of strangers and about a free-spirited girl he meets at one such service. well written and acted and filled with an ethereal, authentic quality. tho not especially well shot and perhaps just a little too flat and morbid... for me... on this occasion anyway.

Justice League: Doom
½

could've been one of the best DCAU features, but fell a little short in complexity and depth... and running time. nevertheless it did have some strong ideas and a fantastic voice cast. i'd still rate it as one of the more enjoyable entries in the popular dvd series.

Rio
Rio(2011)
½

follows the familiar playbook for hip hollywood CGI animated features. without being a huge standout, it still manages to be quite heartfelt and fun with a great voice cast, good music and fitting art direction (tho a bit too saturated for me). i certainly liked it better than say 'ice age' and 'madagascar', but it's not in the league of stuff like 'ratatouille' and 'how to train your dragon'.

Chico & Rita
Chico & Rita(2012)

this spanish/british animated feature (in mostly spanish language) is one of the lesser known nominees for this year's best animated feature oscar. it's a sweeping and somewhat 'classic' love story between a pianist/composer and singer/performer beginning amoungst the lively music scene of cuba in 1948, but then expands to New York and beyond. it has the humble-beginnings/rise-to-fame counterpoint, wonder, treachery, heartache etc. but the highlights for me were the beautiful art direction/animation and stunning cuban jazz soundtrack! i'd be happy if this wins the oscar (tho i also have a soft spot for 'kung fu panda 2' ;) unfortunately i have a feeling my least favorite of the 5, rango, will probably win.

The People vs. George Lucas

i thought this doco would be all about fan disappointment at the star wars prequel trilogy. well, the entire second half of it is, so i was half right. the first half is all about fan disappointment at the 1997 re-released special edition of the original star wars. i guess it raises some interesting questions about artistic ownership and control (albeit in a very one-sided approach ;) but it was the exploration of the extraordinary level of fandom star wars has created that made it such an enjoyable watch for me.

30 Minutes or Less

i still can't work out how this film starring the hilarious aziz ansari (parks & recreation) and also re-teams jesse eisenberg with director ruben fleischer (who both made the hilarious 'zombieland') could turn out being this un-funny. if only i'd watched it for 30 minutes or less instead of losing 83 minutes of my life.

A Cat in Paris
½

this stylised, french, traditionally-animated film is one of the lesser known nominees for this year's best animated feature oscar. i found it genuinely charming, suspenseful and funny. there should be a name for the art style it utilises, but unfortunately i don't know it. i'm glad CGI features haven't completely taken over the category.

Puss in Boots

i didn't find it as engaging or funny as dreamworks' other recent animated films 'kung fu panda 2' and 'how to train your dragon', but the quality is still there. it probably just comes down to personal taste. i loved the dance fight scene tho ;)

Texas Killing Fields

this 'inspired by true events' serial killer investigation film has a fantastic cast (jeffrey dean morgan, chloe moretz, sam worthington) and is shot in a style that drips with atmosphere. the overall feel is pleasingly moody and unglamourised (albeit somewhat dour and a touch flat). it's such a shame that its strengths are negated by confusing and unfocused writing, editing and directing.

The Whistleblower
½

this is one of those important films that made me upset and angry to my very core‚"which is undoubtedly the intention. inspired by true events, it explores the atrocity of a sex trafficking operation which was facilitated/organised by internationals otherwise working in Bosnia as UN Peacekeepers! I suppose we're lucky in comfortable Australia to not often be exposed to this level of human evil, but it's extremely important for us to realise that such things are a constant reality for people in our world, near and far. I certainly hope films like this raise awareness and cause people to follow the central character Kathryn Bolkovac's example and speak up/fight for the powerless victims of such horrendous evil and work to obliterate all forms of modern human slavery/trafficking.

Hugo
Hugo(2011)

i'm extremely fond of the book this film is based on, so was a bit nervous that the film wouldn't live up to its source. and martin scorsese doesn't generally (hasn't ever?) attempted to direct a film like this. Thankfully I found the adaptation an amazing success filled with rich atmosphere and a magical sense of genuine wonder at a level that is rarely achieved.

Win Win
Win Win(2011)

particularly well acted by a great cast! a little slow in the first half, but it certainly won me over. visually not shot with any flair tho.

Real Steel
Real Steel(2011)

there is some entertainment value here, but the tone of it reminded me of an 80s disney family film complete with cheesey dialogue, cringey over-acting, a schmaltzy musical score and cliche-laden directing. it would probably work well as a kid's film, except the level of language and violence ensures that it gets an M rating. so i can only surmise that they were aiming for serious filmmaking and just horribly missed the mark. it is however well shot and the urban music contributions work well enough. as an aside, a film that focuses on fights, really needs to vary the fight scripts a little. i could correctly predict the winner of each fight in this film by who was losing at the start.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

i've heard this referred to as the surprise hit of 2011. and now i can see why! incredibly involving and entertaining.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

i read the book, didn't see the swedish film adaptation, but i hear it's meant to be good. there's a few reasons why david fincher is a wonderful choice to direct this english-language adaptation. so much of this mystery is made up of characters looking through old documents and photos. and in 'the social network' fincher showed that he can make quite an interesting film from somewhat boring material. but 'girl with the dragon tattoo' also has a dark, serial killer angle which fincher has also proved he can handle exceptionally well in a film like 'se7en'. the writing, directing and editing are all great. i particularly liked the music, the stylish opening title sequence, and the wonderfully cold cinematography (often featuring some fantastic modern architecture). daniel craig is wonderfully cast and this is the best i've seen him since 'casino royale'. rooney mara is very good too. and i really like the poster which is done by one of my favourite movie poster designers, neil kellerhouse. so this is quality filmmaking, but the reason it falls short for me is that i found even fincher wasn't able to keep it engaging throughout the mammoth running time of 158 minutes. at one point i sort of stopped caring about the complexities of the plot. if i hadn't read the book already i think i would've had even less patience or been kinda frustrated with it all much earlier. but the pace is still fairly snappy and there's not really anything in there that should've been left out, so for me i think it's just one of those stories that works better as a book than a film. and btw, it really pushes the boundaries of Australia's MA15+ classification. I'm mildly surprised it wasn't certified with R18+

The Adventures of Tintin
½

It's been awhile, but I have read all the Tintin books & enjoyed the animated TV series a lot. This feature film adaptation does chop together material from 3 different Tintin stories, which is always a risky endeavour, but thankfully it's done in such a way that it still works well. I did appreciate the smaller touches throughout the film which showed the filmmakers' respect for the widely loved Herg√ (C) source material. The rollicking, pacey adventure conveys the whole Tintin vibe pretty well. It did feel a bit like the (admittedly very enjoyable) action set pieces had a greater share of the film's emphasis at the expense of genuine heart and greater connection to the characters themselves, but not to the extent that this wasn't still a charming and fun experience. I'm very much looking forward to the next instalment where I believe they're planning to adapt my favourite Tintin adventure "The Seven Crystal Balls/Prisoners of the Sun".

Point Blank
Point Blank(2011)

at 84 mins long, this no-nonsense french action-thriller doesn't waste any time. the plot about an everyday guy who gets caught up in the middle of a cops, crooks and corruption deal is nothing new, but it's executed with exceptional style and pace and very attractively shot.

The Thing
The Thing(2011)

this is a direct prequel to the 1982 film of the same name‚"i mean, it leads right up to the opening shot. so it perhaps would've been better to give it a unique title. but the scenario plays out in a similar fashion such that it does also have the air of a re-make about it. the '82 film clearly called for a prequel, and i reckon they cleverly got this unique prequel/re-make approach to work well. i prefer this film tho, cos of the extra sci-fi imagery & i also prefer seeing a cast lead by mary elizabeth winstead (ramona from 'scott pilgrim vs the world'!!!!!!!) to kurt russell ;)

The Thing
The Thing(1982)

a 1982 sci-fi horror about an antarctic research team who discovers an alien being. it very successfully conveys that whole isolation/paranoia/tension vibe. i don't check out many old films, but thought i'd watch this before seeing the 2011 remake/prequel. i didn't realise though that this 1982 version is itself a remake of a 1951 film. does this film have to be re-visited every 30 years or something?

Space Battleship Yamato

this is the japanese live-action film adaptation of the 80's anime known in the west as 'Star Blazers'. the space dogfight scenes look pretty cool, but that's about all it has going for it. the acting and directing are sadly very b-grade melodramatic (or maybe it's a cultural stylistic thing that works for a japanese audience?). and the costumes adhere to their anime counterparts far too closely. i could never get past the feeling that i was just watching a lot of cosplayers at a convention. a grittier, more realistic interpretation would've suited the live-action medium better. but for star blazers fans, it is kinda moving in the moments where the score picks up the musical themes you remember from back in the day. for japanese stuff, i think i should stick to anime.

Tanner Hall
Tanner Hall(2011)

it's a coming-of-age drama about 4 teenagers in a prestigious all-girl boarding school. has an AWESOME soundtrack! is really beautifully shot! and rooney mara is really quite good in the lead role. unfortunately i found the directing and/or writing not really able to adequately convey the depth necessary for the themes it was dealing with.

Terri
Terri(2011)

some parts of this indie/coming-of-age film were quite likeable‚"particularly scenes with john c. reilly. i never really knew where it was going‚"which can turn out to be good or bad. ultimately though i thought it was pretty uneven, a bit too flat, and had one of those annoying non-endings.

50/50
50/50(2011)
½

geez, this drama-COMEDY about dealing with cancer was really good! imagine how many possible pitfalls there are when you set out to make a film like this! but when it's done right, the results are quite special! this is genuinely funny, but wonderfully sensitive and full of heart. the writing/directing is remarkable. joseph gordon-levitt is fantastic. seth rogen is exactly as you'd expect him. and hey, there's a dog in it named 'skeletor'! i mean that's a good enough reason to check it out right there!

Colombiana
Colombiana(2011)
½

essentially this is a fairly uncomplicated revenge action/thriller. but it gets bonus points for very very stylish visual execution!

Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
½

and now the latest M:I spectacle! I was very interested in seeing Brad Bird's crossover to live-action filmmaking (previously he's done awesome animated films like 'the incredibles' and 'ratatouille'). in some shots i thought i noticed a unique visual impression, but mostly it just looks like normal modern action filmmaking. what he does bring tho is a surprising direction to make this film consistently lighter than all the others... and this is where Simon Pegg really comes into his own, with a much larger role than in M:I 3. His performance made this film quite funny all throughout, which is something the franchise hasn't attempted til now. and thankfully it mixes in really well with all the usual action and thrills‚"cos this could easily have derailed the whole film. ving rhames only has a cameo this time, hopefully he's back in a full role next time. not my favourite of the plots & a touch longer than it needed to be, but still very entertaining. i'd be pleased if they decide to forego the 5 or 6 year gap before the next instalment ;)

Mission: Impossible III

another 6 years on and they made the 3rd film. more critically acclaimed than the first 2. And directed by JJ Abrams who i'm quite a fan of!! I was set to really enjoy this in '06 but remember feeling quite disappointed by it. it seemed to have less heart and could've just been subtitled 'watch ethan run'. but oddly, watching it 5 years later, i really liked it... perspective ey? weird. this time around i was much more appreciative of the slick, styilsh way in which it was shot and everything seemed to work together well to produce a smart, modern, action thriller spectacle. philip seymour hoffman is certainly my favourite M:I villain with a fantastically cold & evil performance. and it was great seeing Maggie Q in the cast. & simon pegg joining the franchise to add lighter moments worked really well.

Mission: Impossible 2
½

so 4 years on they did this sequel. i loved it back in 2000. i remember not loving it so much when i re-watched it at some point. so i wasn't sure what i'd think seeing it now. it's shot with a lot more style than M:I 1, although it's kinda debatable as to whether it's a good style or not. it certainly treads the line of being painfully cliche (what?! slo-mo again!! not the double-gun diving shot!) but, for me at least, just managed to avoid crossing the line and at least succeed in conveying the thrills and emotion of such a film. it attempts to be a more romantic film than the first and stunning british actress thandie newton is a huge asset to the film in this regard. it has a fairly strong sense of location (mostly in sydney) too which i didn't find as nauseating as other american films set in oz.

Mission: Impossible
½

with a new M:I film in theaters, i'd thought i'd re-watch the previous 3. i have very fond memories of this first one. but it's 15 years old now (!) & i was interested to see how well it's aged. it was certainly nostalgic and enjoyable to watch again and there's some great moments in it. but i did notice some poor plotting this time around, along with some mildly cringey writing and acting‚"but it probably would've seemed fine back in '96. surprisingly what i found dated it most was the score. i guess that's how they did music for action films (all grandiose and orchestral) back then, but i reacted to it a bit watching now. fantastic supporting cast though. emmanuelle beart is stunning and jean reno & ving rhames are great. i'd forgotten about henry czerny as kittridge. it seems hugo weaving might've taken some inspiration from this performance when he later played agent smith in the matrix ;)

Another Earth
½

this haunting and thought-provoking indie sci-fi/drama made quite a buzz at film festivals this year. it's steadicam style and sparse soundtrack certainly enforce the lo-budget vibe. no hollywood gloss here. i can see why it's popular with some critics, but i think it needs an acquired taste to enjoy it.

Crazy, Stupid, Love.
½

probably has just enough genuine drama to make it a romantic-dramedy rather than standard rom-com. certainly one of the better examples of either that i've seen. great cast.

Drive
Drive(2011)

so imagine a film pitch like this: "let's make an action-thriller that's arty and nuanced, both main characters are people-of-few-words and take at least 5 seconds too long to answer questions, oh and even though it's not set in the 80's we'll fill the soundtrack with 80's style songs and while we're at it, create the biggest uproar in the typographic world since Avatar used 'Papyrus' by choosing the gaudiest 80's-ish script font for the title on the poster and all titles within the film‚"in pink!". surely no one would fund such a film! but as it turns out, it's a good thing someone did cos Nicolas Winding Refn has blended all this in expert fashion into a film where the tension and emotional impact reach levels rarely found in any normal action-thriller. This film says SO much in the spaces without words! and Ryan Gosling is superb as the deadpan stunt-driver by day/getaway-driver by night. even the music strangely works and i'm not even a fan of 80's music. i would've gone a different way with the font though ;)

Arthur Christmas

i'm not so into christmas-themed films err these days, but found this animated offering from sony/aardman highly enjoyable! i was laughing throughout the whole thing, but it's also charming and heartfelt and has something a little deeper to offer (mostly regarding imperfect family dynamics) than you might expect from such a film. basically it's a very well written and executed family/holiday animated film experience which children and adults will both appreciate.

Griff the Invisible

after 'kick-ass' (which i really liked) kick started this little trend of DIY super-hero films, we had 'defendor' with woody harrelson (which was pretty fun) and then 'super' with rainn wilson (which i found a bit disturbing). and now we have 'griff the invisible' with ryan kwanten. it's possibly worth a little more than 2 stars, but the vibe in most aussie films just doesn't work for me at all‚"which is kinda sad seeing i am australian. there's some nice songs in the soundtrack tho... i certainly don't have the same issues with aussie music :)

Cowboys & Aliens
½

i'm not crazy about westerns, but i love sci-fi. i'd call this genre mashup a straight western where the added sci-fi elements feel a bit gimmicky‚"so, not really my kinda deal at all. but by far the biggest problem i had was with the flat and cliched script. and i'm actually a fan of daniel craig & olivia wilde, but i didn't think these roles suited them at all. harrison ford, walton goggins, keith carradine and clancy brown were all good tho.

The Art of Getting By
½

some films manage to portray a particular emotion you went through or remind you of a particularly poignant period of your life such that the experience of watching it becomes kinda personal, emotional and powerful. for me this film struck that special kind of chord‚"but only in parts. so at times i felt like giving it 4.5 stars, but at other times like 2.5 or less (so i ended up splitting the difference ;) cos as a piece of filmmaking it certainly has issues. my interpretation is that it tries to be a sensitive, nuanced, indie relationship/high-school drama with some mainstream crossover appeal. perhaps, the kind of thing that, for me, a film like '(500) days of summer' achieves so well. however, i found it so unfortunate that the crossover elements often fell into cheesey rom-com cliche territory and made the script feel very uneven. i really liked the cast tho. and this is director gavin wiesen's debut, so i'm hopeful his following films focus on the aspects he's so very good at.

Green Lantern
½

a very poorly conceived script. so many plot holes, and examples of unforgivable story/scene misdirection. incredibly disappointing for a film this size. if you're after some green movie action, avoid this and see 'green hornet', or better yet, 'the muppets'! my childhood gave me much love for the DC Universe, but with feature films lately, Marvel is consistently doing so much better (e.g. 'X-Men:First Class' OMG; 'Thor' FTW; even 'Captain America' was good!)

Flypaper
Flypaper(2011)
½

hilarious and clever heist film where 2 separate groups of bank robbers (1 of extreme pros & 1 of hillbillies) end up robbing a bank at exactly the same time. amidst all the laughs and great characterisations, the film unexpectedly twists its way into a pretty slick closed-room mystery. and patrick dempsey is actually really great leading the fantastic cast as an amped, OCD-ish hostage.

Horrible Bosses

i'm always a bit nervous checking out these critically-acclaimed, MA-rated comedies, ever since i saw supposedly one of the best, 'the hangover', and really just thought it was unfunny. for me, 'horrible bosses' was the same deal. so if you liked 'the hangover', maybe you'll be into this too, but i felt the ad-libbed vibe between the 3 leads here was just awkward. jamie foxx in his supporting role was pretty funny tho.

Bad Teacher
Bad Teacher(2011)

not laugh-a-minute funny or anything, but i liked the characters and cast. mediocre in many respects but i found it good for lite-entertainment.

Helvetica
Helvetica(2007)

fantastic doco about the helvetica typeface which should appeal to a wider audience than just design and type nerds like me. it includes fascinating interviews with graphic & type designers from different generations. my favourite was probably erik spiekermann.

A Town Called Panic (Panique au village)

it's like toy story, except all the characters have drunken 50 cups of coffee, and then the whole thing been re-imagined into a madcap, french, stop-motion animation! extremely fun and riotously funny.

Kung Fu Panda 2

woah, this was every bit as enjoyable as the first one. stunning art direction!! i loved the switch-up to 2D animation in the flashback sequences. and the closing titles were great too. once again fantastic script and voice cast. hilarious and fun and full of heart from start to finish. dreamworks animation are showing some mad skills with this and last year's 'how to train your dragon'. they might even catch up to pixar sometime.

In Time
In Time(2011)
½

if ur after some awesome hi-concept sci-fi, do yourself a favour and avoid this staggeringly botched, try-hard effort and go watch 'source code' or 'minority report'. it gets 1.5 stars mostly for using nouvelle vague's awesomely smooth song 'in a manner of speaking' in one of the early scenes ;) i'm not even gonna try and describe how awful everything else was.

Hereafter
Hereafter(2010)
½

a thoughtful, effective and well written and directed drama which uses 3 initially unrelated stories to intelligently explore the related themes of death, grief, near-death experiences and the afterlife. watching it made me feel quite grown-up ;)

Attack the Block

this fits nicely beside other british genre cult favourites like 'shaun of the dead' and 'hot fuzz' (and has the same producers). but i enjoyed it more than both of them. i'm not even lyin! beleev!

Priest
Priest(2011)
½

in all visual aspects, the dystopian world of this dark sci-fi action/horror film is stunningly realised! it reminded me somewhat of 'pitch black' and maybe a bit of 'dark city'. and when they eventually get around to making stephen king's 'the dark tower' series into its mixed film/tv adaptation, i can imagine it looking a lot like this too. the action scenes were very watchable and the animated introduction sequence was a nice gesture towards its graphic novel origin. and maggie Q was awesomely badass. unfortunately the writing was unbelievably cliched and all the character dialogue and plot stuff came off as so monumentally try-hard that i went beyond cringing at it, to simply laughing at it. so it's actually a fun watch, if you take it about 100x less seriously than it takes itself ;)

Eden Log
Eden Log(2007)

i suspect only the most ardent genre fans will have the patience for this weird french art-house sci-fi horror piece. it's shot in a creative atmospheric dark monochromatic visual style which has some appeal, but unfortunately turns out to be quite tedious when used exclusively for the length of the feature.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
½

as a big fan of the original transformers animated series i would've preferred to see michael bay's 3 films have less human focus and instead give more character and personality to the actual transformers. cos for all but a few, they've almost been reduced to nameless, indistinguishable hunks of metal flying across the screen (and no, giving them absurd accents doesn't help give them 'character'). but aside from this, i thought the first film was reasonably balanced and enjoyable in its own right. the second was an absolute disaster of storytelling and unbalanced to extreme proportions. thankfully this third instalment restores some respectability to the effects-laden franchise. some shots are totally kick-ass and there's some very clever editing throughout. the script contains the same successful brand of genuine humour which i was surprised to find in the first film. and the cast, including alan tudyk, shia labeouf and frances mcdormand are pretty good‚"heck, even patrick dempsey was pretty good. and it was awesome to have leonard nimoy rejoin the franchise voice cast. overall, i'd call it a slightly overlong, but entertaining spectacle film.

The Guard
The Guard(2011)
½

i really like this style of irish humour. a very well written film with great characterisations and another fantastic performance from brendan gleeson. i found it overall not quite as clever as McDonagh's outstanding previous film 'In Bruges'. but in bruges fans will still enjoy 'the guard' quite a lot i think.

The Myth Of The American Sleepover
½

a refreshing look at teenagehood. no overacting, snappy mainstream editing, big-name stars or neat story arcs. but this allows for a very honest, 'real', indie feel to develop nicely.

Thor
Thor(2011)

another winning effort from marvel. and probably my favorite of their recent films. the cinematography in this one was quite a standout (for me anyway). creative use of diagonal composition and unusual angles were great. the story spent far more time away from earth than i was expecting and the prominent CGI imagery in Asgard was highly impressive. but on top of all the style is a film really well paced with deftly balanced drama, action and humour. and the cast was great. it featured anthony hopkins and natalie portman which is always a good start, but was rounded out with two of my favourites in supporting roles ‚" idris elba and kat dennings!

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
½

no doubt capt. jack sparrow is a wonderfully realised character. unfortunately he's often been caught in very mediocre films. the exceptional first pirates film was the errr exception. the 2nd was some creative action scenes hobbled together by some kind of plot. the 3rd supposedly had a plot, but was so convoluted it basically escaped everyone. and this 4th entry in the bloated franchise plays out as a very flat indiana jones try-hard piece which unfortunately the inclusion of mermaids couldn't even save.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs Evil
½

slot this into the category of 'sequels gone bad'. the first hoodwinked was charming and hilarious. this one's preposterous, overdone and try-hard all thru. surprisingly hayden panettiere taking over the lead role doesn't really cut it. and for a film that's (often badly) throwing jokes out there at an alarming rate, red takes herself far too seriously. if you enjoyed hoodwinked, don't tarnish your memories of it by watching this disappointing and unnecessary sequel.

Super
Super(2011)
½

this film starts off as "kick-ass goes indie" in very promising fashion. rainn wilson is awesome as frank/the crimson bolt and the result is superbly quirky and funny. but slowly at first and then quite spectacularly the film loses any semblance of a moral compass, loses control and loses the plot (ok, not quite) to such an extreme level that basically all virtue it showed in the opening third is well and truly lost and i ultimately found it reasonably disturbing and distasteful.

Sucker Punch
Sucker Punch(2011)
½

look i can see why this was panned by critics. and i wouldn't call it 'a complete film' or anything. but omg it's such a mind-blowingly awesome spectacle! i cranked up the vol, hit play, sat back and enjoyed the hell out of it! it overflows with stylistic panache, visual flair and sonic delight. some sections felt like video game trailers (but like the best ones you'll ever see), some like awesome, affecting music videos (the use and placement of music in this film was outstanding! "sweet dreams are made of these" in the opening sequence OMG) and there were also a few unfortunate, awkward scenes (mostly with oscar isaac) as well. so not everyone will go for this, and i get the whole 'style over substance' complaint (tho i didn't find the substance quite as lacking as many critics seemed to), but for me it just comes down to how much you enjoy the 2 hours you spend watching it. it rocked my world and i'll unquestionably watch it again.

In Bruges
In Bruges(2008)
½

superb! an expertly crafted, hilarious, dark tragicomedy thriller. when trying to pack all that into one film there's a thousand ways you could fail. but thanks to the brilliant writing, execution and fantastic performances from colin farrell, brendan gleeson & ralph fiennes (& the entire supporting cast) this is an unbridled success. i haven't laughed so much watching a film for a long time! and there's so much cleverness, depth and beauty about it to enjoy as well. and the cinematography in bruges is sublime :) and this was director martin mcdonagh's first feature film! after this i'm very much looking forward to seeing his soon-to-be-released 2nd film "the guard" which also stars brendan gleeson and appears to be generating similarly-themed ecstaticity from critics.

Hanna
Hanna(2011)
½

joe wright brings an awesomely creative and fresh approach to shooting the action sequences of hanna. and this is helped in no small part by the astounding score provided by british electronic duo 'the chemical brothers'! and saoirse ronan is fantastic in the lead role! and i love the typeface used for the movie title (which also appears full screen white on red at the start and end of the film, so the producers must've been happy with it too). but sadly i can't find any information about whether it's a custom job or not. but back to the film... the plot is nothing too astounding or overly-clever, but still told well. on the negative side, i always feel a bit ambivalent about eric bana, and did again with his performance here. and i felt this didn't turn out to be a good role for cate blanchett at all. so i'm not sure if it's a bit of miscasting at fault or just her unpleasant american accent, but i certainly enjoyed the scenes she wasn't in more.

Super 8
Super 8(2011)

i really enjoyed this. lots of heart, lots of fun. an extremely well executed homage to/recreation of classic spielberg 80's adventure movies (incidentally, i'd be interested to know whether the expression "guys!" appears more often in this script or in 'the goonies', i think it'd be a close call). i loved the whole 'kids making an amateur zombie film' deal running thru this story. The young cast are fantastic. Ryan Lee, playing pyro secondary character Cary threatens to steal the show at every opportunity. but all the writing is great. JJ Abrams seems to have become a modern master of storytelling in film & TV.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

ending something as epic as the harry potter franchise is quite an undertaking, but i think david yates and his team have done a solid job. this film is certainly a 'part 2' in every sense. it doesn't have the beginning/middle/end deal at all. just a bit of middle and a lot of end. which means you don't really get the variety of tone in this film that you get in the others... it's pretty much all serious, epic, climactic drama. which is totally what it should be... it's just best to watch it very soon after seeing part 1. in fact if you don't, you may get rather lost with the somewhat complex happenings (in fact i did see part 1 only 2 nights before seeing this and i still got a bit lost). like the last few HP films, it's wonderfully shot with fantastic dark tones and some of the editing is quite special. the visual effects once again look great. but for this film i noticed the amazing sound design much more than in previous chapters. also, alan rickman's performance is more of a standout this time around. so all the elements are there and are executed and balanced well, but the overall effect for me was just slightly too mechanical and overall just a little flatter than i was expecting. but when you walk into the final film of one of your favorite series knowing it has a RT score of 97% and have heard basically nothing but glowing praise for it, it can raise your expectations to unachievable levels. so maybe that's what happened for me and when i watch it again sometime down the track, i'll probably love it to bits ;)

Rammbock: Berlin Undead

If you're into zombie survival films, this recent German-language release is a must-watch! originally titled "Rammbock:Berlin Undead", but later released in English regions with the rather unoriginal-sounding title "Siege of the Dead", this 61 minute feature is quite a rarity. it's certainly longer than a short film, but isn't really a full-fledged feature either. but it's highly engrossing and the character-driven focus packs an emotional punch that many full-length zombie features don't manage to achieve. and the colours in the quality cinematography just ooze the whole grimy, dour, apocalyptic tone perfectly. there's certainly some quality zombie stuff that's been released lately, especially the recent tv series 'the walking dead' and 2009's much lighter toned film 'zombieland' ;)

The Warrior's Way
½

i couldn't tell if this piece of genre mashup was attempting to be epic drama, but only managing hokey melodrama or if it was all tongue-in-cheek (which really means it failed either way). i suspect it was a bit of both. but visually it was pretty stunning and had some awesomely kickass martial arts sequences.

The Lincoln Lawyer

this must be at least the 3rd time i've seen matthew mcconaughey play a lawyer. but the lincoln lawyer is certainly my favourite! really well written and paced and well with a great cast (including josh lucas [daydream nation] william macy [mystery men] and even bryan cranston [breaking bad]!)... it all comes together to provide this engrossing legal thriller.

The Brothers Bloom

i recently heard that japanese actress rinko kikuchi had been cast in guillermo del toro's upcoming film 'pacific rim'. her name sounded familiar, and i discovered that it was because i'd seen and liked her performance in 2006's 'babel'. so i decided to check out this other film she's in, 'the brothers bloom'. the tale of con-artist brothers has many delightfully quirky moments. unfortunately it has even more awkward, cringey moments. so i found myself liking the film, disliking it, liking it again, disliking it again (etc) in very quick succession... for pretty much the entire running time. if it had settled on taking itself less seriously, i would've enjoyed it much more. kikuchi's ultra-quirky, almost silent, role is a delight tho!

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

This is the 11th animated DVD feature in DC's current run. It'll probably be awhile before they do another one as good as last year's 'Batman:Under the Red Hood', but 'Green Lantern:Emerald Knights' is probably my 2nd fav of the whole lot. instead of one main story, it's basically six 14min stories (1 main one, with 5 others cut into it). usually this would dilute the overall impact, but i found the short-form storytelling was so strong in each section that the result was just a different type of triumph. I guess it also succeeds at introducing newcomers to the green lantern universe and characters in preparation for the upcoming live-action film (not that it's a prequel or anything). I always enjoy listening to Nathan Fillion (Firefly) who voices Hal Jordan in this. and Kelly Hu's performance is also really good.

Gnomeo and Juliet

very impressive visually! and the voice cast was packed with stellar A-Listers (James McAvoy & Michael Caine FTW + many more). and the music from Elton John was fun and worked ok. and that hotted up lawnmower the TERRAFIRMINATOR was awesome!! However I could never quite get past the feeling that all the film's great elements never really worked together well enough to produce the level they must've been aiming for... considering how much money they must've poured into it.

I Am Number Four

not that startling in any department, but still passable and entertaining enough. i think one thing it lacked was charisma in the lead performance. i mean the producers probably told alex pettyfer to do his best brooding, robert pattinson impersonation to cash in on the current trend in their target demographic, but it felt like a mis-match for this film.

Red Riding Hood
½

much of the writing and acting in this fantasy whodunnit is atrocious! really quite bad! however i somehow still managed to mostly enjoy it partly because it effectively kept me guessing (despite heavy-handed storytelling), but mostly due to it's stunning visual prowess. director catherine hardwicke's (previously directed 'twilight'‚"which i thought was awful) background as a production designer certainly shows.

HappyThankYouMorePlease

i guess this is sorta a "feelgood" movie. but instead of being the tired, formulaic, hollywood variety, it's the engaging, real, indie-vibed variety and i really liked it. josh radnor (the star of 'how i met your mother') wrote, directed and starred in this and is seeming more and more like the next 'zach braff' ('scrubs'). and in a strange coincidence the main character he plays, sam wexler, has the same surname as the main character of the last indie film i watched (and also loved)‚"'daydream nation's caroline wexler played by kat dennings.

Daydream Nation
½

i was totally into this canadian indie film! it's full to the brim of every kind of indie-ness you can imagine. awesome indie soundtrack. brilliantly shot with healthy doses of all that gorgeous indie washed-out, shooting-into-the-sun style. it's a story that's quirky, funny, heartwarming, a little wrong, dramatic and dark‚"and manages to blend it all with great success. and kat dennings is awesome :) and the supporting cast is also awesome. and the writing is awesome. i like how it's officially described as "juno as re-imagined by david lynch (creator of twin peaks) or a funnier, sunnier donnie darko". however despite my glowing praise for it, i can understand why this got mixed reviews and might not be everyone's cup of tea.

The Green Hornet

sorta fresh take on the superhero genre. the bad guy was funny in a 'mystery men' kinda way ;) the action scenes were directed with some unique visual flair. and that coffee machine that kato made...OMG i want one!

Source Code
Source Code(2011)

this smart, high concept, sci-fi thriller is basically the definition of 'my kind of film'. duncan jones' follow-up to his excellent 2009 debut 'moon' is every bit as good, but with more heart and wider appeal. with his first 2 films as good as these, i can't wait to see what he creates next!

The Ghost Writer

an intriguing and unpredictable thriller. i found it quite engaging, but it's certainly a moody, slow-burn, even-paced kinda experience, so it may be a bit draggy for some.

The Karate Kid
½

far better than i was expecting. probably more enjoyable if you regard it to be not associated with the 1984 original‚"which isn't difficult considering it's so different. jackie chan is an incredible asset to this film and lifts it immensely! there's also moments of inspired cinematography. could've benefitted from more judicious editing, but still a decent movie.

Unknown
Unknown(2011)
½

well made and gripping psychological action thriller. films like this that are shot in europe (in this case berlin) seem to have a deep, rich atmosphere. a film that keeps you guessing for so long like this one will live or die on it's ending/explanation/payoff. so if that works for you, then you'll love this film. for me tho it took things too far exposing a few plot holes and implausible character behaviour. which is a shame because it does do many things right. liam neeson is great tho and the film sometimes reminded me a little of 1993's 'the fugitive'.

Trollhunter
Trollhunter(2011)
½

very entertaining norwegian mockumentary about a group of young filmmakers who suspect a mysterious man of being a bear poacher, but when they learn the truth about what he does they end up joining him and documenting his dangerous and fantastical work!

The Switch
The Switch(2010)
½

a few sweet/quirky/touching moments, but mostly quite awkward.

Mean Girls
Mean Girls(2004)
½

fun high school movie

Unstoppable
Unstoppable(2010)

first-rate action thriller!

Ondine
Ondine(2010)
½

beautiful and touching irish film. sort of a real-life fairytale about a fisherman (colin farrell) who finds a woman in his boat's fishing net and suspects she is a selkie (sorta the scottish/irish folklore equivalent of a mermaid). the melancholy cinematography captures the irish coast beautifully :)

Limitless
Limitless(2011)

very enjoyable high concept thriller! creatively shot and a good lead performance from the very likeable bradley cooper. the ending was a little too consequenceless, but everything else hit the mark.

The Adjustment Bureau
½

totally my kind of film! entertainingly and intelligently deals with some of favourite themes like fate/free-choice and butterfly/ripple-effect and could even cause one to consider how they approach life and relate to the idea of a higher power. but if this cerebral stuff is not your thing, then rest assured that it also works just fine as a satisfying drama/romance/sci-fi/thriller experience. it's not really a surprise that i'd be into this, as i've very much liked other films based on the works of author philip k dick (minority report, bladerunner). quite well written and really well cast and acted and a promising debut from director george nolfi. my only criticisms are that the ending felt just a little weaker than it needed to be and the whole thing could've been strengthened a touch with a more distinctive visual style. but still, highly recommended!

Morning Glory
½

filled with such a high level of hollywood feelgoodness that i must admit to being somewhat nauseated by it. but that's not to say it's a bad film. if you're in the mood for something light and frivolous, it delivers. and the supporting cast is great. i particularly liked harrison ford's ultra-gravelly voice which sounded like he was channeling whoever played the batman villain two-face on 'batman:the animated series'.

Let Me In
Let Me In(2010)

genuinely touching as well as chilling and horrific. very strong performances from both the young lead actors chloe moretz & kodi smit-mcphee. also features extremely strong cinematography. this is "western remake of a foreign film" done right... in a big way!

The Last Airbender

it's visual prowess couldn't rescue it from being the most disappointing film i've seen in quite some time. it certainly deserves all its recent "wins" at the recent razzie awards. the writing, directing and pacing are so consistently flawed that i found it all quite cringe-inducing. what makes this even more unfortunate is that it's based on such amazingly strong source material--the critically acclaimed and much-loved nickelodeon animated series.

Waking Sleeping Beauty
½

a doco that goes behind the scenes at disney during their lowest point in the early 80s and shows how they survived and built towards releasing classics such as 'the little mermaid', 'beauty and the beast', 'aladdin' & 'the lion king' from 1989-1994. i've often been intrigued with the widely varied levels of quality & success of disney animated features at different times, so i found it quite illuminating to learn what was actually happening at the studio during these times. as a doco it's been put together in a somewhat utilitarian but serviceable fashion. thankfully the content alone kept me quite engaged. in my view, disney took quite a dive after this period and are only really finding some form again with last year's release of 'tangled'. hopefully this marks the start of a third golden age for them. and perhaps a sequel to this doco (re-waking sleeping beauty??) will be called for in due time covering the next cycle of years.

Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics

fascinating doco about DC Comics & the history of comic books in general. Well narrated by Ryan Reynolds.

Megamind
Megamind(2010)

really very very nearly almost as good as the other supervillian animated feature 'despicable me'. yeh, possibly just as good... almost.

127 Hours
127 Hours(2010)

i guess this film will be well liked for what it says about human endurance and survival and whatever. but for recent films about a guy trapped somewhere, i much prefer 'buried' with ryan reynolds. 127hrs was quite creatively shot and edited tho.

Les aventures extraordinaires d'AdŤle Blanc-Sec (The Extraordinary Adventures of AdŤle Blanc-Sec)

This fun Luc Besson film is like "The Mummy" re-imagined as a quirky, slapsticky french comedy.

All-Star Superman

This latest DC animated feature is a Superman story focusing much more on emotion and drama than action‚"and I'm glad they took this direction. It's really well executed and I found it very satisfying. The whole voice cast (which includes Matthew Gray Gubler of Criminal Minds as Jimmy Olsen ;) give first-rate performances. If you're into Superman at all, this is a must-see.

Monsters
Monsters(2010)

a returning space probe deposits alien creatures over mexico. now 6 years later, half the country is a sealed off infected zone. circumstances force 2 people to cross thru the zone to get back home to the US. that's the setting and i thought it was executed remarkably well. it's made with a very fresh/real/unscripted vibe, but avoids feeling awkward. it kinda has that quasi-doco feel as well (y'know with that handheld steadicam deal), but thankfully doesn't sacrifice picture quality or stylish cinematography, as many such films do. the same guy did the directing, writing, director of photography-ing, production design & visual effects. go gareth edwards!! oh and a very tasteful muted poster design by kellerhouse!

Buried
Buried(2010)

ordinarily i would call this film about a guy trapped in a coffin with a lighter and mobile phone one of the best thrillers i've seen. but because i can still say that about the film considering it's entirely shot within said coffin and there's only ever one guy on screen, is a tremendous testament to the cleverness of this piece of filmmaking. major props!

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)

omg. horrifyingly brilliant. or maybe brilliantly horrifying? either way, it's an extremely intense, multi-layered, psychological work from darren aronofsky.

The Social Network

this film is strongly favoured to win the oscar for best picture and i've even heard it described as the masterpiece of this generation. i'm not sure i'd go that far, but it's certainly a very good film. for a taut drama like this, you'd expect the writing, directing and acting to be top-notch (and they are) but i was really pleased to see that cinematography, editing and especially the score were also quite astounding. the only thing is it's not the kinda film where i'd say 'oh yeh i'd enjoy seeing that again sometime'.

The Kids Are All Right

a very strong and engaging drama. wonderfully written, directed and acted. certainly deserves its 4 oscar nominations (incl. best picture & best original screenplay)!

Easy A
Easy A(2010)
½

really cleverly made high school comedy that i found a lot of fun to watch. emma stone is great!

Tangled
Tangled(2010)
½

omg, this is certainly disney's best animated feature in a long, long time. it started reminding me of their early 90s classics and i thoroughly enjoyed it. great characters, witty writing and superb animation made for a very fun, dramatic and touching fairytaley experience. i'm more a fan of 2D hand-drawn animation, but at least with the CGI animation in tangled, they've achieved a beautiful, softer, more painted look than what i've seen in pretty much any other CGI film. my only minor criticism is that the songs had a generic musical theatre vibe about them‚"certainly not like the standout music in earlier titles like 'the little mermaid' and 'aladdin'. also it might've been nice if the "breaking into song" moments were a little more nuanced, but it doesn't really detract from the overall experience. so yeh, go see it.

Frozen
Frozen(2010)
½

i was expecting a taut thriller and i suppose technically it is, but it was terrifying!! and felt more like a survival horror film. my biggest problem with it tho was that both the male leads were total douchebags so i didn't care what happened to them.

Four Lions
Four Lions(2010)
½

the trailer for this comedy about a group of bumbling terrorists looked promising and i totally loved the image on the poster of the crow with a bomb tied to it! some might find it all in poor taste, but i just found it not as funny as i was expecting.

Funny People
Funny People(2009)
½

ok so i decided to watch this movie just cos i've kinda become a fan of aubrey plaza recently (she plays julie powers in 'scott pilgrim vs the world' & april ludgate in the awesome tv comedy show 'parks and recreation') and she has a support role in this. i was expecting an average mainstream comedy and was pleasantly surprised to find that it's actually more like an indie dramedy. y'know that kinda indie vibe where it's equal parts funny, dramatic & touching. it's set in the world of stand-up comedy and i thought it was intriguing to see how supposedly 'funny people' deal with normal and major life crises i.e. much like the rest of us. whether you enjoy this film will hinge largely on whether you identify with the characters or not. and i think i also needed to be in just the right mood for it (and thankfully was). cos it could rightly be criticised for occasionally lacking focus and being too long. but it does have a refreshingly 'real' feel to it and i actually liked adam sandler's lead performance... and all this combined was enough to keep me engaged from start to end.

Despicable Me

90 mins of awesomeness! this production is filled with great ideas, and executes them perfectly. it's funny, touching, cool, cute... should please a very wide audience. really great music too! i very nearly enjoyed it as much as 'how to train your dragon'.

Let the Right One In

a chilling and surprisingly emotional swedish vampire film centred around the friendship of two 12 year olds. i'm also keen to see its recent hollywood remake "let me in" starring chloe moretz (kick-ass, 500 days of summer). it seems to have largely escaped the critical scorn often imposed on such foreign film remakes.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

oh yes! outrageously fun film! damn fine adaptation of the graphic novels (differs a little towards the end, but quite acceptably). i've definitely never seen a film like it. cleverly and awesomely executed.

Cypher
Cypher(2002)

an intriguing sci-fi mind-bender about futuristic corporate espionage. shot in an attractively sterile fashion which looks great, but does give a rather sparse and cold feel. unfortunately i was able to see the main twist coming a mile away.

Splice
Splice(2010)
½

a very well made (and at times considerably shocking/disturbing) sci-fi genre piece dealing with genetic engineering.

Red
Red(2010)
½

i found it quite a joy to watch this mega-experienced cast (willis, freeman, mirren, malkovich) perform the scenes in 'red' SO effortlessly. and if you like mary-louise parker in 'weeds' you'll love her performance in this too. it's a fun action romp that's a bit tongue-in-cheek and hits all the right beats. the plot is really quite secondary tho and filled with the usual nonsense about government conspiracy.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)

very cool! finally a 3D film has arrived that actually has a legitimate, ungimmicky reason to be in 3D. and visually cos the film is quite dark with high contrast, the effect of 3D glasses dimming everything is lessened. as a piece of storytelling it's serviceable but unspectacular. what really lifts the film is the stunning visuals and superb soundtrack from 'daft punk'. similar artist 'the chemical brothers' are also trying their hand at film scoring for next years "hanna". i wonder if they'll be just as successful :)

2001: A Space Odyssey
½

i'm not usually a fan of classic cinema, but thought i'd check out this sci-fi classic. i don't think i've seen anything quite like it and for large portions found it wonderfully atmospheric, peaceful and thoughtful. later on it got too trippy and self-indulgent for me, but i'm still glad i saw it.

Code 46
Code 46(2004)

visually reminded me of that futuristic/asian/urban deal similar to what you see in "push" (which is a good thing), but went for a very odd, doco/reality/improvised acting style which seemed like it was attempting to be a bit like "once" but (for me at least) it didn't work in this context at all.

The Hangover
The Hangover(2009)

meh. not all it's cracked up to be.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
½

so full of plucky characters and matching dialogue that it was often hard to take this film seriously. but if you're happy to forego dramatic tension for a lighter rollicking, fun-filled, action adventure, this film certainly delivers. it's quite a cinematic spectacle. i'm assuming the film is based one or more of the modern prince of persia games‚"which i haven't played. I have played the original games tho and got quite kick out of seeing how the style of the acrobatic sequences in the film gave a nod towards the action style from the games ;) i enjoyed jake gyllenhaal's acting performance in the lead, but found his physicality quite unconvincing. to pull off the smooth, acrobatic movements, i reckon you'd need a more lithe figure and it therefore came across as a little fake. and for some reason i couldn't get over the fact that he appeared about 5 years too old for the role. still, overall i enjoyed the film more than i thought i would and would've awarded it 4 stars except that they made the awful typographic decision to use the 'papyrus' font for the in-film titles‚"and even after all the backlash 'avatar' got for using it!! if they make a sequel, i hope it has a draker and more dramatic tone.

Existenz
Existenz(1999)
½

a good concept, but its bizarre and flat delivery make it highly unenjoyable

Paris Je T'aime

this collection of 18 little 5ish min unrelated vignettes each by different directors somehow comes together beautifully to give a touching and unique portrait of paris. my favourite was Joel and Ethan Coen's "Tuileries" which was set on the Tuileries underground Metro platform and shot by extraordinary cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel (Amelie). but i also really liked Tom Tykwer's "Faubourg Saint-Denis" which featured Natalie Portman. I imagine the film "New York, I Love You" is sort of a follow up to this. Has anyone seen it?

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

unfortunately my favourite of CS Lewis' Narnia books has been adapted into this rather generic lite kiddie adventure fantasy film which lacks the emotion and rich epic tone of its predecessor 'prince caspian'. none of the cast are really given a chance to shine as the rushed and unconvincing screenplay rarely explores any meaningful character depth. 'dawn treader' is a full 30 mins shorter than both the previous narnia films and it suffers greatly at this truncated length. that all sounds a bit scathing, but the film is still enjoyable, just far less than it could've been. director michael apted is new to the franchise, but i hope they return andrew adamson to the helm for the 4th narnia film.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1
½

when i read harry potter and the deathly hallows, i thought it'd be the toughest book in the series to adapt into an engaging film. then when i heard they were gonna make it into TWO films (for what seemed a decision based on financial gain rather than for any artistic reason) i thought all hope for a great ending to the franchise was lost. and in less capable hands, i'm sure my fears would've been realised. i was very pleasantly surprised to find that david yates and his team managed to create a film very different to all the others, but with a highly satisfying tension from start to finish. the 2-film format has allowed them to explore a depth and tone that would've otherwise been lost and i think it really works. i'd rather have seen bruno delbonnel continue has mind-blowingly outstanding cinematography from "harry potter and the half-blood prince", but his replacement, eduardo serra, does a very adequate job in this film. i loved the use of the Nick Cave song. i wish i didn't have to wait a whole 8 months to see Part 2.

The Lost Thing
½

wondrous and whimsical animated short film (about 15mins long) created by australian artist shaun tan. if you like his books, you should definitely check this out :)

The Book of Eli

visually this film is outstanding! the gritty post-apocalyptic world is incredibly textured and atmospheric. loved it! unfortunately i found everything else about the film quite disappointing :( tonally it reminded me a little of stephen king's book "the gunslinger", but didn't come near to matching its quality. i'm intrigued when a pair of films are coincidentally released at almost the same time and are basically just a slightly different take on the same setting/idea. with this, the corresponding film is "the road". in 2006 it was "the prestige" (OMG, what an incredible film!!) and "the illusionist". and in 1998 it was "antz" and "a bug's life". can anyone think of other examples?

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

i'm mystified by the highly varied level of quality in these DC Animated Features. After their sensational effort last time (Batman: Under the Red Hood), they serve up this bizarre, cheesey cringe-inducing, eye-rolling nonsense. Really only worth 1.5 stars, but i'll give another 0.5 cos well they did cast summer glau as supergirl ;)

How to Train Your Dragon
½

loved it! y'know i'm more a fan of 2D animation, but this 3D one made me go 'geez they've come a long way with 3D CGI'. of course, i did watch it on my brother's sweet blu-ray HD setup, which i'm sure contributed to my whole jaw-dropping reaction deal. but like any film, it's not gonna be that great if they only get the visual elements right (tempted to insert "*cough* avatar *cough*"). thankfully this is written really well and the cast (particularly jay baruchel in the humorously dry lead role) were great. and on the blu-ray release (i assume it's also on the dvd) there's a bonus animation short extra (which at around 15mins isn't really that short) which serves as a hilarious and fun little epilogue story and probably had me laughing even harder than in the actual feature. i'm glad they're planning a sequel to this :) bring it on!

Exit Through The Gift Shop

i'm not largely into doco's, but enjoyed this one a lot. a fun look at street art and a bit about its evolution into the proper art world featuring some highly entertaining characters.

The Losers
The Losers(2010)

fun and frivolous (and disposable) hollywood action to the very core

Operation: Endgame

a decent cast and some funny scenes, but it didn't seem to know if it was trying to be a parody or genuinely B-grade. it fully deserves its direct-to-dvd status.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
½

a fairly standard adventure story executed quite well. the screenplay felt a bit rushed and would've benefited from a bit more length to achieve the epicness the production was aiming for, but it was certainly still enjoyable. visually it was pretty spectacular with a few moments of glorious fantasy design and thrilling (even somewhat vicious) battle scenes sprinkled liberally with effective slo-mo. all you 3D lovers out there (i'm not one of you) will appreciate the work put into this one. the cast all gave good performances, but i found the overly aust/nz flavour mildly distracting.

Triangle
Triangle(2009)

an extremely intense psychological thriller with a whole time loop paradox thing going on. when this kind of mind-bending material is done well, i really enjoy it... and thankfully this film is one such example. in addition to all the cleverness, it's also shot amazingly well!

Pandorum
Pandorum(2009)

i quite like these dark, sci-fi, spaceship films. i'd call this one of the better ones even if it's not especially original (at different times it reminded me of Alien, Event Horizon, Sunshine and even Titan A.E.). well executed and great production design. certainly kept me entertained! it didn't get much love from mainstream audiences or critics, but more highly regarded by genre fans & press‚??so if you're into this kinda thing, it's definitely worth a look.

Event Horizon
½

i liked the first half of this, but found the payoff quite disappointing. it initially seemed to be aiming for intelligent/dark/gritty, but then opted for cheesy/cliche/shock. not a good move. production design was impressive tho. generally shot well too but i don't know how they got away with so much strobe.

Batman: Under the Red Hood

the darkest and most hardcore batman animation i've seen. they pulled out all the stops for this one! compelling story that's fantastically written and with stunning vocal performances. visually first-rate. this is superhero animation at it's finest. (definitely not for youngsters).

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
½

a fun watch, but nothing special. great vocal performances from james woods and gina torres. action scenes aren't executed nearly well enough to warrant their excessive screen time. a few too many characters, but decent story.

Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance

absolutely epic and stunning! can't wait for the final two films to be released to see the extent of this new vision for evangelion.

Summer Wars (Sama Wozu)
½

it certainly had it's moments, but i didn't go for it nearly as much as their previous film 'the girl who leapt thru time'.

Chasseurs de Dragons (Dragon Hunters)

fun little fantasy action film which does well as lite entertainment. a bit cliched and sometimes comes across as more of a video game than a film, but it's always beautiful to look at and has quality voice acting.

Youth in Revolt

another great addition to the films of michael cera, where once again he plays his trademark awkward coming-of-age character. it's clever, has some wacky fun and is also quite touching. it also has some cute animation sequences sprinkled throughout!

Micmacs (Micmacs ŗ tire-larigot)
½

delightfully quirky in the jean-pierre jeunet signature style. extremely well shot. i didn't find it nearly as endearing as his earlier masterpiece 'amelie', but still had many smiley moments :)

Clash of the Titans
½

seriously?! this was more of a CGI showreel than a coherent feature film. so overpaced you never got a chance to feel anything for the characters or what was going on. and those sweeping establishing shots were so overused to the point of being nauseatingly pretentious. and sam worthington's uber-aussie-ness was just laughable. 1¬Ĺ stars for exceptional visual accomplishment‚??but that's all.

Push
Push(2009)
½

hugely wasted potential. a fascinating sci-fi concept and shot really, really well‚??but implemented in an overly convoluted fashion and with zero emotion. you have to be like christopher nolan to pull off this kinda thing.

Death Proof
Death Proof(2007)
½

i haven't seen any grindhouse films for which this is supposed to pay homage to, but still found it pretty entertaining. particularly liked the stylistic messy editing, excessive film artefact look and the soundtrack.

Clerks
Clerks(1994)
½

very indie vibe and strongly driven by witty dialogue. it just didn't really make me laugh much.

Inception
Inception(2010)

a mind-blowing masterpiece! it's complex enough that one watch was definitely not enough for me to grasp it all, but even without getting everything, i knew i was watching something very special indeed. very very few filmmakers could pull off this type of high-concept material. christopher nolan is a genius and his cast were fantastic.

Brothers
Brothers(2009)

i really quite liked this one. powerful, chilling drama. great performances from natalie portman, jake gyllenhaal and tobey maguire. great movie poster too featuring some tasteful subtle fracturing on the image and title text which suit the film perfectly.

Sleepy Hollow

outstanding art direction and a wonderfully quirky portrayal of ichabod crane by johnny depp! but i found the story delivery to be quite convoluted.

Tekkonkinkreet (Tekkon kinkurÓto)

it starts off as a somewhat innocent looking story about 2 orphans on the streets of an urban japanese precinct, but ends up being rather psychotic and surreal. the plot kinda labours along. but the big winner in this film is the artwork quality! animation, design and directing are at times outstanding. it's a japanese film, but the visual style reminded me more of recent french animation.

The Hurt Locker
½

this kinda film is not usually my thing, but i was pleasantly surprised to find it far more captivating than i was expecting. some very deft directing produced a highly taut and gripping atmosphere. and i found the underlying theme, about war being a drug, quite affecting.

In the Loop
In the Loop(2009)
½

very cleverly written and uproarious political satire. i'm not sure i've ever seen a film whose dialogue contains such a constant stream of (hilarious) insults as this.

Ocean Waves (Umi ga kikoeru)
½

the tone of this 1993 feature by studio ghibli is much more japanese-centric and therefore less appreciated by wider western audiences than their other more popular films. also as a telemovie, the production quality of this release doesn't match studio ghibli's much grander cinematic projects. still i'm glad i saw it.

Shutter Island

for 75 mins or so i really enjoyed this taut psychological thriller. snappy, intelligent editing, great cinematography, chillingly atmospheric & well acted. then it lost its way a little for 20 mins or so. and while i concede that some would find the ending clever, i just found it unsatisfying and therefore ended up feeling disappointed.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

i didn't go for the animation style or production design or character designs at all. however the writing had an interesting indie/witty kinda vibe to it and the voice acting was impressive‚??especially from jason scwartzman as mr.fox's son, ash.

The Princess and the Frog
½

i'm very glad to see disney return to hand-drawn 2D animation. the music in this was quite good too, but not nearly as memorable as, say, aladdin. the film was full of disney animated musical cliches (to the point where it started to feel somewhat formulaic & not so organic), some of which held up very nicely while others i felt were quite outdated. there were some very fun side characters and some hilarious scenes that were reminiscent of classic looney tunes shorts ;) the biggest problem in this film for me was some odd pacing. it seemed that less important sections were artificially extended (usually just to fit in a song or other disneyesque brand element) while important plot sections were rushed over. so while this is certainly not a classic, i'd be happy to see what disney come up with next if they continue in this line of filmmaking :)

A Time to Kill
½

quite a powerful film, well written (tho a bit long) and probably the best performance i've seen from matthew mcconaughey.

Superbad
Superbad(2007)

pretty fun comdey. tho it certainly earns its MA rating and therefore won't appeal to everyone. i'm usually not interested in this type of film, but thought i'd check it out cos i liked christopher mintz-plasse in 'kick-ass' (and he was good in this too) and usually like michael cera (even tho his characters are all the same). the cops in this were hilarious.

Law Abiding Citizen
½

quite an enjoyable thriller... one of the better ones i guess. but the end seemed quite rushed and not as clever as the highly intriguing buildup throughout the film.

Nine
Nine(2009)
½

well shot and edited and good costumes. marion cotillard was great. there were some strong sequences, but a lot of the music didn't really stand out for me as much as i thought it should... and generally i wasn't drawn into this film much at all. if you like the style of marshall's other film 'chicago' you might like 'nine' more than i did.

Once
Once(2007)
½

awww... this is lo-budget, handheld camera, irish film, described as a modern day musical, probably has more heart than you'll find in any film. it's raw and beautiful and disarming and melancholic. i was astounded at how real and accessible these characters were. it's about 60% music... all singer-songwriter/indie/folkie kinda stuff‚??definitely my kinda thing. highly recommended! (the only reason i didn't give this a full 5 stars is cos i'm not so into the handheld cam style of filming‚??tho it completely suits this film)

The Road
The Road(2009)
½

very well shot & highly atmospheric. in fact, a very strong film all around. just be prepared for unrelenting desolation.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

i'm not sure if this is a 'love it or hate it film', but i know i hated it! i've seen very few films that i simply cannot put up with any longer and stop watching cos they are so cringe-inducingly awkward (although 'land of the lost' comes to mind), but this was one of them for me. lily cole was quite cute tho & some of the fantasy sequences looked good (albeit in jarring contrast to the quality of the normal shots).

Defendor
Defendor(2009)
½

This quirky little superhero/vigilante film falls just a little short in the comedy department (or maybe i was just not quite in the right mood for it at the time), but is overflowing with heart! Woody Harrelson is great in the title role, but i particularly liked Kat Dennings‚??I'm becoming quite a fan of hers. Also, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this film was shot! v nice job cinematographer person!

Rounders
Rounders(1998)
½

a few days ago i heard they were thinking of making 'rounders 2'. and i thought 'yeh i'm in the mood for a poker movie, i'll check out the original 1998 rounders film.' unfortunately i found most of it quite flat. and the music was cringe-inducing audio cheese.

Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2(2010)

i've heard people liking this more than the first iron man and others liking it less. it certainly has its differences but in the end i think i enjoyed it about the same. the pacing was a bit different from most movies of its type, having quite an extended slower section in the middle. usually it would've been edited much tighter and run about 15 minutes less than its 124 minute runtime. but i still found everything that was happening in this portion interesting enough and it didn't put me off. also the political commentary (arms race stuff) from the first film wasn't in focus this time. instead there was a more minor exploration of "one man having ultimate power vs government control". but this allowed room for the film to take on a new focus‚??and it retained its flamboyant comedic charm. i don't know much about these characters from their comic book origins but it seemed that scarlett johansson was well cast (and had a very cool fight scene towards the end), tho i'm not convinced about the decision they made to re-cast rhodey. robert downey jr was his usual charismatic self and mickey rourke was great as the antagonist (though understandably not a role for him to show off much of his considerable acting chops as he did in 'the wrestler'). the 'minority report' styled control interface visual effects were good too. overall a lot of fun to watch.

Up in the Air

there's really not much wrong with this film. i just personally didn't find it as interesting or insightful as i was expecting it to be.

Zombieland
Zombieland(2009)

an incredibly fun zombie film

The Time Traveler's Wife

what an odd film. exceptionally well shot! beautiful lighting, sets and production design. but the overall tone of the film was so mellow‚??to the point of it seeming apathetic about itself.

The Lovely Bones

i didn't think especially much of alice sebold's book, but i found peter jackson's film adaptation of it quite remarkable. i know the film has been criticised for being "visually suffocating", but i disagree. for me, the ASTOUNDING visual qualities made this a very memorable experience. it's the only film i recall that has reminded me a little of darren aronofsky's "the fountain" (an all-time fav of mine). the cast were great and the music was amazing (especially the use of cocteau twins' track 'alice' for a montage sequence in the middle).

Hairspray
Hairspray(2007)

argh, all the bright colours, they hurt my eyes! i'm tempted to use words like lurid and garish to describe the look of hairspray, but that's probably a bit harsh. i didn't really like how it was shot either, but they were probably trying to infuse 60s style production values to give it an 'authentic' look. It was a bit too over-the-top happy for me, but i totally understand that was the point of it. the music was fun tho and john travolta was great. so was christopher walken.

9
9(2009)
½

i can't think of a 3D animated film that i've visually enjoyed more than this. the stitchpunk stylings in the dysotopian world are breathtakingly realised! and there's a prevailing inventiveness that recalls a feeling of old-world automatons. however a story of this epic nature really needed more development of its world, characters & plot in order to achieve the emotional impact it was aiming for. at only just over 70mins, it barely qualifies as feature-length and unfortunately the storytelling suffers. the voice cast did really well with what they had to work with tho. overall, i'm still very glad i saw it and still regard shane acker as a director to watch.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass(2010)
½

omg, i haven't had this much fun watching a film in a long time! it's very extreme and will offend many‚??but i loved it! the editing was a real highlight and chloe moretz as hit-girl was awesome! totally does justice to the fantastic mark millar comic book it's based on. this is yet another film from matthew vaughan (layer cake, stardust) that i've really enjoyed. i look forward to whatever he does next... and hopefully a sequel to this won't be too far away :)

Cold Souls
Cold Souls(2009)
½

this intriguing film explores what it would be like if humans were able to extract their souls... and so looks at soullessness, carrying someone else's soul, soul trafficking and the effects these might have on you and those in your life. it's very well written and features a great performance from paul giamatti (who acts as himself) somewhat channeling a morose version of george costanza with a touch of bill murray's lost in translation character. the tone carries an ever-present sense of subtle humour and is also quite heartfelt and thoughtful. it's shot very stylishly and has a great soundtrack.

Los CronocrŪmenes (Timecrimes)

this spanish thriller is one of the best time-travel-paradox films around!

The Soloist
The Soloist(2009)
½

i must admit to being somewhat cynical about "inspirational human drama" type films. too often i reckon they come across as heavy-handed and even fake, thus achieving the opposite of what they set out for. thankfully "the soloist" doesn't fall into those traps and has a whole lot of other stuff going for it too. the performances by Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx are outstanding, it's very stylishly shot and well edited, and has a great musical score. it deals intelligently with the complexities of homelessness and mental illness without going overboard. i'm really kinda into people realising their creative (and particularly musical) dreams, so i guess that was another thing i appreciated seeing this film deal with.

A Serious Man

a bit pointless...but in a kinda good way. the eccentric characters are well acted and directed in typical coen bros style. i prefer 'fargo' & 'burn after reading' tho.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler(2008)
½

so i loved darren aronofsky's previous film 'the fountain' like heaps!! all-time fav! so naturally i was very excited to see what film he would work on next. it turned out to be 'the wrestler'. i saw the trailer and thought, 'this is totally not my kind of film'. then it got all this critical acclaim and everyone loved mickey rourke's performance and i was tempted to check it out. then i saw the trailer again and there was just so totally nothing in there that made me want to see it. so i didn't. then i heard that clint mansell who did the unbelievable score for 'the fountain' also did the score for 'the wrestler' and so i thought 'geez perhaps i should check this out'. i still put it off for ages but eventually saw it tonight on dvd. and i didn't think much of it at all!

Astro Boy (AstroBoy)
½

it would've been cool if they'd gotten the voice cast (or at least tried to match the voices) from the beloved 80's cartoon for this feature. instead they followed the trend for such 3D animated films in getting a hollywood all-star cast of voices. some were ok and some weren't, but mostly i just found them jarringly different from what i loved as a kid. for the film as a whole, i liked the middle section, but not the start or end. the comedy elements were by far the strongest‚??i loved those 3 robots from the RRF. i really disliked the score. they chose to go with ultra-cliche-cinematic-orchestral, whereas i thought this film was crying out for a bit of tasteful electronica at least fused into the mix. artwork is bright and glossy (again nothing special) but character animation (especially hands) was a notably lacking. overall i'm saddened that such an iconic figure was basically brought down to the level of any average generic 3D CGI offering. Osamu Tezuka's Astroboy deserves a much more special treatment.

Edge of Darkness

i think i was expecting a bit more from martin campbell who directed 'casino royale', but this was still a serviceable thriller.

Surrogates
Surrogates(2009)
½

after reading the Graphic Novel this film is based on, I actually thought the story could be more successfully executed as a film. Well this production proved me wrong! My expectations of the film were significantly lowered by initial weak reviews, but even then i was still quite disappointed with it. I think I felt that even if the script was suspect (and it definitely was rather pedestrian and disengaging) that at least it would be visually pleasing with a futuristic I:Robot-ish visual slickness‚??but it failed miserably on that account also. Overall, highly regrettable.

Alice in Wonderland
½

disappointingly i found this quite disjointed and overly paced. there were some nice examples of visual design, but it was so CGI-intensive that the overall affect was visually suffocating and the actors always seemed like they had no sense of their surroundings. i watched it in 3D and it pushed me even further towards the "i hope this 3D thing is just a fad" side of the argument. i would much rather enjoy the strong vibrant colours of 2D (especially in a film like this) and lose the 3D visual confusion (which for me makes things less immersive).

Moon
Moon(2009)
½

this is intelligent, psychological sci-fi. i love the places that stories like this take your mind to. a fantastic debut film from british director/writer duncan jones. clint mansell's score was not quite as standout as his work in 'the fountain', but was nevertheless perfectly suited to this film. sam rockwell's performance is highly commendable.

Constantine
Constantine(2005)

visaully one of the most stunning films i've seen. such a shame that everything else about it is so weak. its screenplay keeps you at a distance and ensures you never really care about the events or characters. the events seem to happen conveniently rather than naturally, so the whole thing feels contrived and staged. the odd, dour tone never lets up.

500 Days of Summer

inventive & highly successful storytelling techniques. totally my kind of soundtrack. fantastic production design, graphic design and cinematography. great script and cast. heart-warming. quirky. bittersweet. genuine. funny. affecting. this film had it all for me. total win! +fav

A History of Violence
½

great script and cast. tho for an adaptation of a graphic novel it certainly wasn't shot or edited with any particular distinction.

Drag Me to Hell
½

not usually my type of film, but this one was very well shot and surprisingly quite funny. very effective filmmaking from sam raimi.

TRON
TRON(1982)
½

28 years later, they're making a sequel to this film called 'tron legacy' and i'm hearing some exciting things about it. so i thought i better get up to speed and watch the first one‚??i don't think i've seen anything quite like it. a very creative concept and innovative visual approach (especially when you consider it was made in 1982). it certainly holds up for one viewing, but i imagine would quickly get tedious on repeated viewings. flynn reminded me a bit of han solo. and the dialog, infused with old-school programming terms certainly gave me a few chuckles. with the tools available to filmmakers these days, i'm excited at how they could build on this concept in 'tron legacy'. it'd be a graphic designer's dream to work on. but i'm most looking forward to hearing what 'daft punk' come up with for the film's music. This is definitely a project they were born for!

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

i was hoping for something a bit more epic and with a bit more heart. instead, this young adult fantasy is scripted and (over)acted like an american sitcom. it is however an interesting spin on greek mythology.

Julie & Julia
½

i wasn't nearly as enamoured by this film as some of my friends were. i didn't warm to meryl streep's performance at all. and i really disliked the production design and especially the lighting. ugh. it's not a bad film tho... just didn't work for me.

Road to Perdition

expertly filmed with great performances (especially jude law's macabre charcater) and a score that often reminded me of the fantastic music from 'six feet under'. it deserves more than the 3 stars i give it, but i just found the whole mob story thing a bit dour.

Adventureland

jesse eisenberg seems like he's just doing his best michael cera impersonation the whole time. ryan reynolds feels miscast. kristen stewart is ok. i hated the 80s setting. give me "nick & norah's infinite playlist" any day over this.

Where the Wild Things Are
½

the children's book this is based on isn't very long so there is a lot of scope for how the film adaptation could've been handled. spike jonze certainly doesn't opt for the most typical or expected adaptation. instead he courageously provides an offbeat, intelligent film that could possibly keep child psychologists busy dissecting it for quite awhile. i wasn't sure how to take this film for awhile‚??it's really not like anything else i've seen‚??but enjoyed it more the longer it went. the lighting style was somewhat unexpected also, with strong use of an indie-looking brown/yellow palette, with overuse of solar lens flare, which admittedly i wasn't that fond of. but there was a smattering of quite special photographic moments also. the jim henson company's work on the creatures was great and the acting and voice-acting were also strong.

Sword of the Stranger (Sutorenjia: MukŰ hadan)
½

fantastic artwork & great character designs along with some well directed action sequences. i'm finding the whole mysterious wandering swordsmen with no name deal a bit old though‚??and story-wise, this re-iteration of it is nothing special. and the music, which is highly reminiscent of one of the main themes in 'the lord of the rings', was annoyingly repetitive and ill-suited.

Priceless
Priceless(2006)

utterly delightful french romantic-comedy. audrey tautou is as lovable as ever... but her co-star, gad elmaleh, is very nearly just as lovable ;) very well shot too.

Paper Heart
Paper Heart(2009)

it's not so much a doco about love as an offbeat, quirky story about a girl making a doco about love and possibly or possibly not finding love in the process. so before i confuse you further, i'll just say that i really liked it. people were interviewed on the topic of love and my favourite parts were when some of them recounted personal stories, these stories were visually recreated with puppetry scenes which were made and shot with endearing handmade charm. and charlyne yi's deadbeat delivery throughout the film gave a really honest and disarming quality.

I've Loved You So Long

a powerful film with very strong performances which has likely gotten critics and film festival attendees very excited. to begin with, the film wasn't what i was expecting and i found i wasn't really in the mood to watch it, but by halfway through i was really drawn into the characters and emotional complexities. it deals tenderly with some very deep human issues and would possibly be a good candidate for a film to be studied at high school level. the french family on which this film is centered has two young adopted vietnamese girls who were both adorable!

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

this film like really captured something. and surprisingly i like totally connected with it. y'know. it was sweet and a little quirky funny and muso-y. kinda sorta made me wanna go to gigs again. well, like maybe.

Terminator Salvation

damn i wish i'd decided to watch this in the cinema instead of 'transformers: revenge of the fallen'! the outstanding visual, special and audio effects, cinematography & production design (along with some stunning action sequences) create an awesome dysotopian post-apocalyptic experience. of the cast, sam worthington totally steals the show, but it was good to see helena bonham carter in there too! i'm glad i decided to watch all the previous terminator films (which i'd previously never seen) before watching this...otherwise i might've been a little lost.

Avatar
Avatar(2009)
½

a technical and creative marvel with stunning creature and world creation. just a shame about the one-dimensional, stereotypical, black-and-white, un-nuanced story and characters. and my particular pet-peeve‚??the use of the 'papyrus' typeface for the logotype and all subtitles! i mean, they created a whole language for the film... surely they had the budget to get a type designer to create a far more appropriate custom typeface than to use a stupid novelty font!!

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

it's sad when one of your favourite shows ends. this final BSG feature displays dramatic directing, intelligent writing, fantastic music & gorgeous visuals... all aspects that fans have enjoyed throughout the show's run. now i'm even more looking forward to the first season of prequel series 'caprica' :)

Land of the Lost

i really liked brad silberling's previous film 'a series of unfortunate events', so i thought i'd check this one out. then it got absolutely panned by reviewers in the US, so i decided to not waste my time with it. then UK mag sfx said it wasn't as bad as all the US reviews said it was. so i decided to check it out & found that i wholeheartedly agree with initial reviews. aside from some brief glimpses of decent production design, this film is awful and categorically unfunny.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
½

fantastic character designs & voice acting (especially from none other than Mr.T!!). A very humourous and well executed script, albeit in what has become a formulaic approach to animated films.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

if WB Animation finally got it right with their previous DC Original Animated Movie (Green Lantern: First Flight), then they REALLY got it right with this one! Made me wanna go and read the Jeph Loeb graphic novel that it's based on. The voice cast were great, and this one had particularly good audio effects. Now that WB seem to have their act together, I wouldn't mind seeing them do an adaptation of 'Hush' or another popular DC comic arc.

Day Watch
Day Watch(2007)
½

handsomely shot with snappy editing. but everything else must have been lost in translation cos i could hardly follow it at all.

Phoenix 2772
Phoenix 2772(1982)

space firebird 2772 (1982) shows many examples of tezuka's disney influence. unfortunately it suffers from a poor execution of storytelling, is a bit long for its own good and feels rather disjointed. i stopped caring what was happening or trying to understand it somewhere in the middle.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
½

stephen sommers has delivered an action spectacle that's so heavy on visual effects that i got exhausted watching it. kinda like 'transformers: revenge of the fallen', except with more visual variety and at least an attempt was made to give the characters some depth (even if it wasn't overly successful). it's chock to the brim with ridiculously cliched one-liners, but that's what you expect from this kind of hollywood fare. if you're into this kinda stuff, then GI Joe is a pretty good example of it. (wow, i've watched two films in the same day with the word 'cobra' in the title...without even trying to ;)

Space Adventure Cobra

'space adventure cobra' (1982) certainly delivers up some awesome retro sci-fi anime designs! reminded me of a racier version of 'star blazers' complete with james-bond styled intro and some 'cowboy bebop' & 'the fifth element' flavourings thrown in for good measure.

Green Lantern: First Flight

on their fifth attempt, WB Animation finally produce a decent DCU Animated Original Movie.

Snow Falling on Cedars
½

a deeply moving and hauntingly beautiful film exploring issues of prejudice when a Japanese-American man stands trial for murder in a small US town in 1950. A local journalist discovers important evidence, but is conflicted about presenting it due to his history with the defendant's wife. The film deals with an often overlooked part of WWII history‚??the internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans in the US during WWII. It masterfully blends deeply personal emotions and events with wider reaching issues of humanity. Scott Hicks directs with a measured pace and poetic feel enhanced with a gorgeous soundtrack & stunning cinematography (for which the film was Oscar nominated).

The Spirit
The Spirit(2008)

visually this film kicks all kinds of ass (very similar to 'sin city'‚??a fantastic way to shoot a film adaptation of a comic/graphic novel)! but this is one of the most cringe-inducing and poorly-paced screenplays i think i've ever seen. the decision to go for extremely overacted and melodramatic delivery is exceedingly regrettable.

Burakku Jakku (Black Jack)

an enjoyable medical thriller anime feature based on a work of manga legend osamu tezuka. very well paced and balanced to capture interest from start to finish (it felt a bit like watching an extended episode of 'house'). also has some interesting stylistic directorial touches.

Michael Jackson's This Is It
½

i've never particularly been an MJ fan, but he does have some great music and watching this felt like it gave me a window into his upcoming concert tour. as a muso, i found it pretty inspiring.

ByŰsoku 5 senchimÍtoru (5 Centimeters per Second) (A Chain of Short Stories about Their Distance)
½

the art direction of this 63min feature is stunningly beautiful. it tells a simple story, but focuses very strongly on emotional depth. i found it very touching indeed.

Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)
½

i thought this was a largely unconvincing & bizarre time-traveling tale that does a poor job of mixing serious & oddball material. i wouldn't call it a bright spot in the careers of bruce willis or brad pitt either. the film did however receive critical acclaim. oh well.

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade
½

this story involving an alternate post-WWII Japanese history was a bit dry and political to the extent that the impact of clever twists was kinda lost. it was however also somewhat character-focused, metaphoric & poetically psycho-surreal and was very handsomely made. but overall it was probably a bit too heavy... at least for what i was in the mood for on this occasion.

Witness
Witness(1985)
½

i don't check out that many 80s films these days, but i'm glad my friend recommended this one. it's a measured and sensitively made thriller which i also found quite touching. it was good seeing another strong film with harrison ford in the lead. unfortunately the fully-synthesised score does date the film significantly.

Monsters vs. Aliens

the comedic timing often just missed the mark and some background art was a bit stark‚??but it was good to hear will arnett (arrested development) in the voice cast!

Syriana
Syriana(2005)
½

a complex political film with multiple only semi-related threads spread across the globe which make it feel a bit like 'babel' except almost totally devoid of any human element to connect to. far too dry for me.

Tokyo Godfathers
½

an unexpected but rewarding film from satoshi kon about a homeless trio who find an abandoned baby girl on christmas eve. it starts off feeling like a light, feel-good story, but develops into a heartfelt tale dealing with quite mature themes.

Sukai Kurora (The Sky Crawlers)

the stunning background art and top-rate CGI visuals look great, but sometimes don't blend well with the overly-simple character designs. The rest of the film is filled with emotionless characters in a slow, dry, uninteresting story.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine
½

doesn't have the depth (in terms of social commentary etc) of the other x-men films, but achieves its origin story goals quite well. it includes some very tight action sequences, adequate writing and some decent cameo appearances.

Twilight
Twilight(2008)
½

The strongest element of this film was hair & makeup... and i also liked the overall cool blue look. But for everything else I'd use words like try-hard, unconvincing, awkward and wooden... and I can't quite decide on the proportion of responsibility that should be assigned to the director, writer & actors for producing this unfortunate piece of work.

The Reader
The Reader(2008)

A powerful, affecting and high quality film with very strong performances from the cast. Also very cleverly edited. I can see why it was so prominent in this year's Oscars.

Origin: Spirits of the Past
½

a post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure with some of the most stunning fantasy artwork i've seen in an animated feature! i was visually captivated from start to finish. i wish it was about 20mins longer so that the fascinating world and characters could've been even further developed. it explores some potent ecological themes and is very much in the vein of Studio Ghibli's masterpiece 'Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind'. unfortunately, it still has some instances of Studio Gonzo's penchant for poorly integrated 3D-CGI, but thankfully these are reasonably few and don't detract much from the overall splendour.

Hancock
Hancock(2008)
½

pretty well written and shot. but the thing that served this film the best was casting. jason bateman did well and will smith's comedic sense was great. worth watching for it's light-hearted charm.

State of Play

this smart and gripping thriller is one of the best i've seen for awhile. i'm actually not a big fan of russell crowe, but the rest of the cast, director kevin macdonald (last king of scotland) and co-screenwriter tony gilroy (michael clayton) produced outstanding work in this film.

The Last of the Mohicans
½

author john eldredge has referred to this film a number of times in his books with great affection, so i thought i'd check it out. but i wasn't nearly as affected by the underlying themes or impact of the drama. i guess these epic historical war dramas just aren't my kinda thing. there was some strong nature cinematography though.

Steamboy
Steamboy(2005)

steamboy is a visually breathtaking, british period, steampunk anime adventure feature with some poignant themes regarding the arms industry and the role of science. It could've benefited from sharper pacing and does sometimes get bogged down in its mechanics and thematic exploration, but the likeable charcaters, extremely high production values and particularly noteworthy musical score provided me with an experience filled with surprise and wonder.

Spriggan
Spriggan(2001)
½

this anime feature has a kinda james bond meets indiana jones type plot except with the main charcater being a plucky 17 year old elite japanese agent. it has moments of impressive directing and visuals, but these are unfortunately marred by a very murky and grainy dvd transfer. overall i found it a bit too clichéd.

Up
Up(2009)
½

a brilliantly imaginative, if somewhat random, adventure! pixar once again show that they're industry leaders in both animation and pure filmmaking. the opening section was particularly strong and setup the film wonderfully. it did look great in 3D too. i'm so glad for the number of great animated films released this year... and possibly still more to come!

Inglourious Basterds
½

of tarantino's films i still prefer kill bill, but i still enjoyed this WW2 tale. in typical tarantino fashion it's very script-heavy, but when it's written this well, that's not a problem. once again he's created some very memorable characters which are fantastically portrayed by this strong cast. and i'm glad for the decision to have large portions of the script in french, german and *ahem* italian with subtitles.

Ponyo
Ponyo(2009)

definitely amoungst my favourites of hayao miyazaki's delightful and magical films!

District 9
District 9(2009)

very effectively combines normal and 'mockumentary' footage to tell the story. much funnier than i thought it'd be, but also a fantastic example of sci-fi being used for serious social commentary. very entertaining and well-made.

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood
½

this supplementary dvd project to this year's watchmen film includes the secondary/background material from the watchmen graphic novel not present in the film in the form of a 24 minute animation and an 80s style television interview‚??both appropriate choices for the material. it's admirable that this was produced for comprehensiveness, but i found it quite lacking in terms of actual entertainment value. i'd only recommend this to someone who's an absolute watchmen fanatic.

Waltz with Bashir
½

very nice graphic novel visual style in this israeli animated doco about the first Lebanon War. animation occasionally comes off as a bit stilted. it's all critically acclaimed and was nominated for this year's best foreign language film oscar, but i just wasn't drawn into it at all.

Transsiberian

this is one of the best shot films i've seen. visually stunning‚??and not just because of the gorgeous russian locations. even the shots in standard conversation scenes are thoughtfully framed and the whole film has a stunning high-contrast cool green/blue look. thankfully the film's visual appeal is matched by high calibre intelligent writing, directing and acting. a highly engaging thriller.

Roman de gare

the entire first half of this french film felt like a bland arthouse character piece paced so slowly that i almost stopped watching. then within one scene it transformed into an entirely clever and engrossing psychological thriller‚??which is what it was intended to be all along. it's rare that i get such highly opposed reactions within the same film!

Coraline
Coraline(2009)

coraline was everything i was hoping for and even a bit more. it's delightfully wondrous, quirky & macabre-lite (i.e. just what you'd expect from henry selick) and filled with awesomely creative design and engaging stop-motion animation. this i the first film i've seen in 3D, which ultimately was well worth it‚??tho it did have a fatiguing/straining effect on my eyes.

The Science of Sleep

The Science of Sleep certainly has some charm and features many scenes full of playful, creative and surreal visuals...to varying degrees of success. i think a more vibrant colour palette would've been more suited, but Michel Gondry seems satisfied with a slightly-desaturated look. overall it's a little too bizarre for me. but my biggest issue with it is the amateurish acting which is probably intentional, but i found just plain cringey‚??especially the english portions.

Memories
Memories(2004)
½

this anime feature, made up of three separate stories with different directors and art styles, understandably feels somewhat experimental. i found the 1st episode quite meaningful, the 2nd was kinda fun and the 3rd was ugly and undeveloped. so watching this as a standalone feature is an odd experience. the animation quality is every bit "mid-90s" and doesn't hold up that well 13 years later.

Madagascar
Madagascar(2005)
½

not as fun as i was led to believe. some strong voice acting‚??particularly from sacha baron cohen & david schwimmer‚??but otherwise i found it only mildly funny and with very average 3D character models and art direction.

Lust, Caution
½

a masterfully measured emotional espionage thriller from director Ang Lee.

Sexy Beast
Sexy Beast(2000)
½

well it's certainly a unique take on the crime genre‚??but except for a few well edited sequences, all its supposed wit and style went completely unappreciated by me.

A Tree of Palme (Parumu no Ki)

this anime feature borrows elements of 'pinocchio' and (the infinitely superior) 'nausicaa of the valley of the wind' attempting to produce an artsy ghibli-esque experience. unfortunately the result is a confused & bizarre narrative with an incongruous visual mess. i can't fathom how they thought a successful look could be achieved by combining occasionally stunning fantasy backgrounds with highly simplified & flat-coloured character designs. the characters are slightly reminiscent 1980s astroboy except lower in quality. the only redeeming qualities are one or two endearing side characters and some creative world design ideas.

The Game
The Game(1997)
½

oh this was good! for sure one of the best psychological thrillers i've seen. this is the film david fincher directed between "se7en" and "fight club", both of which i really enjoyed, hence i decided to check out "the game" and i found it to be utterly gripping and thought-provoking. a fantastically executed concept and handsomely shot with a similar look to "se7en". also easily the best performance i've seen from michael douglas. fincher's sense for all aspects of filmmaking is truly special!

Igor
Igor(2008)
½

this film had such a lot of potential. a wonderfully unique premise along with strong conceptual art direction. sadly, both of these good ideas are so badly implemented that i found the film incredibly difficult to watch. the script is pretty cringey, the animation is under-done and the visual effects are inconsistent with the overall look. as for vocal work, john cusack & molly shannon are good, john cleese is good but seriously under-utilised and everyone else, especially eddie izzard, aren't good. overall, i was very disappointed, cos in different hands this could've been quite special.

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman(2009)
½

When Warner Bros announced a new direction for their DC Comics animated properties in the form of Direct-to-DVD original films, with A-list vocal casts and without PG-limitations, i was excited. This Wonder Woman origin story is the 4th such endeavour and unfortunately I'm yet to be impressed by any of them. This feels like a mediocre double episode of their Justice League TV series and it really should be so much more. Keri Russel (Felicity) and Nathan Fillion (Firefly) along with the rest of the vocal cast are quite good, and the WB animation team maintain their reasonably strong level of action directing. Unfortunately the character designs and character animation are too simplistic, making it difficult for the viewer to engage with the characters. So in the end, it all felt quite derivative, despite the world-threatening storyline. i'm not holding my breath for any greatness from the green lantern feature in a few months time, but who knows maybe i'll be surprised.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
½

this is a deftly balanced film, expertly blending dark subject matter with some warm poignant humour throughout. all the acting is great and almost every shot is amazingly photographed. the dark, muted look--often with a slight glow--is really something to behold. it's a welcome return to form for the franchise (cos i didn't really like the last film 'order of the phoenix' as much... or the third one 'prisoner of azkaban').

Ghostbusters (1984 Original)
½

I never saw this piece of 80s hysteria back in the day. Watching it now I found it to be a fun supernatural comedy‚??thanks primarily to bill murray's classic performance. (and once again, reginald veljohnson has a bit part as a cop! was this guy ever cast in a different role?)

Bolt
Bolt(2008)
½

i'm glad it didn't turn out to be a generic spy kids clone like the first 7 minutes suggested. it actually turned out to be a pretty clever script. the animation quality is great too‚??it seems disney have learnt a few things from their association with pixar. i didn't like the songs or the americana montage sequence in the middle‚?? but i guess they still work ok in the film.

The Tale of Despereaux
½

an odd story told with a very unconventionally paced script which, for me, didn't really work on any level. also not helped by ill-suited voice casting. this tale was far more successful in book form.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

if you're into huge CG action, you might dig it (and indeed it was technically and visually pretty amazing‚??tho also fully overdone). but for me, it was unbelievably lacking in substance. any attempt at some heart comes across as excruciatingly cheesy and try-hard.

Tintin et moi (Tintin and Me) (Tintin and I)

a fantastic documentary about the belgian cartoonist hergé and his famous creation tintin. discovering what hergé was experiencing in life at various times over the 50 year period when he wrote/drew tintin adds an entirely new level of appreciation for and understanding of his popular books.

Harvie Krumpet

this is adam elliot's 2003 academy award winning short animation. I never got around to watching it til now‚??after seeing his full length feature 'mary and max' which came out earlier this year. it's just as enjoyable and filled with elliot's unique biographic style. elliot's additional short films on the dvd are great too.

Closer
Closer(2004)
½

this is the type of film that probably nearly every actor wishes they'd won a part in‚??because Mike Nichols' direction is so strongly focused on the acting itself. half the scenes don't even have any score, which emphasises the emotion of the acting even more‚??and thankfully natalie portman, julia roberts, jude law & clive owen perform to the degree that these scenes never feel awkward or empty. it's an intelligent film which feels like a study on modern relationships. i particularly liked how on a few occasions you would only work out a few minutes into a scene that a significant period of time (3 months or 12 months or whatever) had passed. it probably deserves more than the 3.5 stars i give it‚??but for me, it had the odd affect of afterwards feeling like it was less than what i'd thought it was the whole time i was watching it.

The Abyss
The Abyss(1989)

a quite enjoyable undersea sci-fi adventure epic from james cameron. i saw the extended cut which goes for nearly 3 hours and was perhaps a little overdone, but still remained engaging throughout. it was funny seeing a younger ken jenkins (who currently plays dr bob kelso in the tv show scrubs) playing a minor role. one of my personal hates is when resuscitation scenes are overly drawn out to heighten drama. a scene in this film is the worst offender i've come across ;)

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder

A humourous return to form for the last of the 4 futurama dvd movies. i hope they make a new season!

Shaun of the Dead

not nearly as funny as i was hoping it'd be. i liked their next film 'hot fuzz' better.

Blade Runner
Blade Runner(1982)

visually, this film is breathtakingly beautiful & atmospheric from start to finish. i'm amazed that this level of production design and cinematographic quality was achieved in 1982! it has a very measured pace and poetic feel which leans it more towards arthouse than mainstream. it seems quite multi-layered and after seeing it twice now i still have the feeling that i haven't grasped everything it's trying to say.

Die Hard 2
Die Hard 2(1990)
½

made 2 years after the original die hard, this sequel unfortunately looks and sounds every bit as dated. it was nice to see john amos in this film... he previously played Cleo McDowell in the 1988 classic "Coming to America" ;)

Inside Man
Inside Man(2006)

probably the best heist thriller i've seen. great cast, stylish production, well shot and very clever. unexpected but effective choice of A.R. Rahman world music in the classy opening titles and closing credits... i really liked it.

The Usual Suspects
½

a very clever film. but it never caused me to care what was happening at all.

Terminator 3 - Rise of the Machines

i'd been repeatedly warned that this was an awful addition to the terminator franchise. consequently i'd set my expectations so low that when i saw it, i thought it was actually ok. the terminatrix was hot! but the script was kinda weak and it felt very thin compared to T2. oh well... i guess i'm ready for terminator salvation opening in a few weeks now.

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)

Awesome! JJ Abrams has pulled off the unenviable task of rebooting such a huge and complex franchise in stunning fashion!

End of Days
End of Days(1999)
½

arnie is supremely miscast in this laughably unconvincing supernatural action-thriller which comes across as completely try-hard in every aspect except one: outstanding production design and cinematography! (and robin tunney is pretty good as the female lead)

Die Hard
Die Hard(1988)

a fun action film which unfortunately looks and sounds much more dated than i was expecting. it took awhile to get going and i thought the score (i.e. music) wasn't well suited at all. it was cool seeing co-star reginald veljohnson who later played the role of carl winslow (another cop) in the 90s sit-com 'family matters'. that sure brought back memories ;)

Dawn of the Dead

i'm astounded by how much i enjoyed this film! only recently i wouldn't have gone near this genre. then my friend got me to read Robert Kirkman's excellent comic series "The Walking Dead". so I thought sometime maybe I'd check out a few of the better regarded zombie films... and this one is awesome! perfectly balanced with interesting characters, intense action, tragedy & moral dilemmas. but what surprised me most was the light-hearted stuff. fully this had some of the funniest moments i've seen on film for ages!! on top of all this, it's really well shot, directed and edited! if you can stomach this kinda stuff, then it's definitely worth a watch.

Copycat
Copycat(1995)

Sigouney Weaver is great as agoraphobic criminal psychologist Helen Hudson. It's stuff like this that probably serves as inspiration for the current TV show 'Criminal Minds'. In stark contrast to 'Se7en' (also released in 1995), Copycat is let down by mostly bland production design (except for Hudson's awesome loft apartment). However it still succeeds as a gripping serial-killer thriller.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

a much more developed and enjoyable film than it's prequel! i loved the terminator role reversal & the new bad-ass sarah connor. there's some interesting time paradoxes to ponder. and in total contrast to 'the terminator', T2's special effects look really great.

The Godfather, Part II

a more powerful and multi-faceted film than the first part. two different stories set in different generations are smartly juxtaposed adding a new level of depth. still not really my thing though.

The Godfather

for awhile i've been thinking that i should check this film out seeing as it's often regarded as the best film ever made. so i eventually did. i thought it was good--well written and well acted--but perhaps i'd need to have a greater appreciation for films of that era to understand why it's so highly revered.

Alien Resurrection
½

i guess this is the kind of sci-fi film you'd expect to get when jean-pierre jeunet directs and joss whedon writes the script. it's not a bad film, but it's a complete mismatch for the alien series. the characters are an eclectic bunch of oddball, quirky, even goofy personalities and the chilling nature of the previous alien films is replaced by something laughably parodic. there is some fantastic sci-fi imagery, but it would've looked even better with sharp, clinical lighting as opposed to jeunet's preference for softer, warmer visuals.

Alien3
Alien3(1992)

the third alien film is stunning to look at, but with unlikable charcaters and a very awkward script. and this is a big problem when director david fincher (who later made se7en, fight club & more recently, the curious case of benjamin button) is trying to be more character focused than the prequels, because it amplifies the film's problems. the only interesting character (except for ripley of course) is killed off very early and the rest of the scenes are filled with awkward dialogue between people i care very little about. so i found watching this film an uncomfortable experience--but not for the intended reasons. but as i said, it has stunning cinematography! visually amazing! also it takes advantage of the improved visual effects available in 1992 (the previous two films did reasonably well with the visual effects capabilities of 1986 & 1979) and shows much greater alien detail than we've previously seen. also ripley's buzzcut looks awesome! far better than her "hairstyle" from both previous films.

Aliens
Aliens(1986)

james cameron has taken the comparatively basic premise of ridley scott's first alien film and developed it about 300% in every aspect. the result is a highly successful and much grander sequel. some sequences felt overly long and if it was made today the whole film would probably be around 20 mins shorter--not that this would've necessarily made it better.

The Bank Job
The Bank Job(2008)
½

very smartly directed heist/conspiracy film. nicely shot and well edited. jason statham is fantastic in the lead role. easily more substantial than the oceans films. unbelievably, it's based on true events. personally i'm not a big fan of the 1970's era it's set in, but this certainly doesn't make it a weaker film.

Alien
Alien(1979)
½

i suppose you'd call this a classic little piece of sci-fi survival horror... or something. i generally find survival horror a bit mindless. it often seems more like you're playing a video game than watching a film. nevertheless i still enjoyed this film because the production design was quite impressive. it actually doesn't look as dated as you might expect for a 30-year old film--except for the hairstyles! the ship (especially the exterior shots) is quite reminiscent of star wars. the idea for title design at the start was simple but quite stylish. i wish they'd spent more time in the alien ship, i would love to have seen more of that.

Seven (Se7en)

an extreme triumph in production design and cinematography!! superbly gritty and dark visual presentation throughout the entire film. The opening title sequence is totally my kind of style... amazing visual design! the closing credits look great too.... sharp grungy style! all the acting was great, sound design was strong and the directing, exceptional. the neo-noir mood and feel of the film is perfectly created and the plot quite gripping. the only disappointment i had with se7en was that the ending really didn't hit the mark for me. the lead up promised something more clever and, for me, didn't deliver. which is such a shame! it's certainly not terrible though and is really just a personal taste thing.

Mary and Max
Mary and Max(2009)
½

heartwarming, endearing, melancholy, honest, sad, engaging... an exceptional filmmaking achievement and probably my favourite australian film. wonderful claymation and design. very effectively uses a muted, desaturated colour palette. i must go and watch elliot's previous academy award winning animation, "harvie krumpet".

Sunshine
Sunshine(2007)

one of the most visually stunning films i've seen. an amazingly successful blend of first-rate visual effects, creative editing & phenomenal cinematography. about 15 minutes in, there's the most magnificent fade from red-gold to lime-green that i've ever seen on film! damn i wish they made more films like this.

Buena Vista Social Club
½

some great music and an inspiring insight into some wonderfully authentic cuban musicians. unfortunatuely the whole thing is shot with a very average quality steadicam. nothing is sharp and all the colours are almost completely washed out. so the amazing visual charm of havana and it's gorgeous colourful grungey locales is not captured in this doco.

Hannibal
Hannibal(2001)

in stark contrast to the silence of the lambs and red dragon, this film is brilliantly shot! stunning cinematography from beginning to end. the tone of the film is far more stylish and is easily my favourite of the three. i felt "that scene" towards the end moved into the realm of contrived shock value and i would've preferred something a bit more clever/subtle/stylish to match the tone of the film. but then i guess it wouldn't have created such a stir. i imagine most people would be disappointed that jodie foster didn't reprise her role as clarice starling, but i preferred julianne moore's performance. anthony hopkins has an even greater opportunity to shine in his famous role this time around. the rest of the cast do a fantastic job also.

The Silence of the Lambs
½

whilst certainly intense, i found this film not nearly as dark or chilling as i was expecting. the style of shooting, quality of the picture and even the title designs and score are markedly dated. unfortunately i have a very low tolerance for the qualities and styles of the 80s & early 90s and so my ability to enjoy this film was significantly hampered. if i'd watched it 15 years ago i might've felt differently. the brightest light is anthony hopkins' standout performance.

Red Dragon
Red Dragon(2002)
½

this is the first hannibal lecter film i've seen (i'll watch the others soon). anthony hopkins was outstanding. and even tho i often think edward norton feels miscast, he still manages to pull off a decent performance. i felt there were some minor pacing issues in the middle, but otherwise directed reasonably well. the film reminded me of hopkins' 2007 film 'fracture' with one big difference--visual quality. fracture is exceptionally shot and i felt red dragon looked very disappointing. for a 2002 film, it should look much sharper -- unless, they purposely made the colours washed out and the whole thing grainy to suit the early-80s setting of the film (but if this was intentional, it's a production decision i find quite lamentable). but i'm certainly looking forward to seeing silence of the lambs :)

Amťlie
Amťlie(2001)

surely this must be one of the most delightfully whimsical and best shot films ever made.

28 Days Later
½

after enjoying danny boyle's more recent films "sunshine" and "slumdog millionaire", i thought i'd check some of his earlier films. 28 days later is really quite an intelligent apocalyptic film. it has strong subtext, is well paced and has some very effective use of music. unfortunately i can't give it more than 3.5 stars because visually it is awful! the whole damn thing looks like it's been shot with a tiny security camera. i know it's been done intentionally, but that doesn't make it any easier to look at.

The Terminator

even tho i grew up in the 80s--with only a few exceptions--i don't have much love for it or it's films. i've never seen any terminator film until now. i decided i'd watch them so that i could get up to speed on the story and be prepared for the recent tv series based on the franchise. so without having any of the "classic love" that many have for this film, i found it pretty dated and simple and with a strong 80s vibe (especially in the synthesised score) that i have no love for. the effects were nowhere near the standard of the original star wars trilogy (all of which were made before the terminator). i did however find it interesting to ponder the time paradoxes in the plot and i hope they're developed further in the films to come.

Millennium Actress (Sennen joyŻ)

i usually like films that keep you guessing between reality and fiction (which seems to be one of satoshi kon's favourite themes), and the premise for millennium actress sounds intriguing (an eldery retired actress re-telling her life story to a small documentary crew--but her story seems to blend strongly into the stories of her many films...and how does the documentary producer fit into her story also?!) ... but it totally failed to grab me. but even now i can't quite work out exactly why. certainly i was highly annoyed with the poor visual quality of the dvd transfer (the colours were dull and it was all grainy and had many unwanted artifacts), but mostly i guess i just didn't connect with the characters or story. however the film still succeeds in showing satoshi kon to be a director adept at handling multi-layered storytelling that challenges his audience.

Persepolis
Persepolis(2007)
½

a highly effective insight into life in iran over the last 30 years, told with a very personal feel through the story of Marjane from when she was young until her mid-20s. I loved the visual style of the film which seems to faithfully adapt the look of the acclaimed graphic novel on which it is based.

Taken
Taken(2009)
½

a very well executed, if somewhat simple, euro-thriller (well it's still a hollywood film--but at least it's set in paris :) it's fully a one man show, but liam neeson does well with it.

Mind Game
Mind Game(2004)

some bits looked amazing, some bits looked terrible, all highly experimental and in the end just a bit too bizarre for my taste.

My Blueberry Nights

i never thought i'd find a film as visually stunning as '2046'. it's perhaps no surprise that when i eventually did, it was an offering from the same director, wong kar wai -- 'my blueberry nights'. this film looks so amazingly good that it would need only a half-decent story and i'd give it 5 stars. but i found the simple story most touching. it was told with quite a measured tone that may not suit everyone, but i found that it was a perfect balance allowing a lot of space to focus on the film's exceptional visual qualities, acting performances and soundtrack. norah jones gives a wonderfully vulnerable debut performance and jude law's co-leading role was done with great warmth. the supporting cast also featured some of my personal favourites in rachel weisz and natalie portman--although not their most memorable roles in this film, (and natalie portman's hair was awful) i was still pleased that they were cast. the soundtrack includes wonderful songs from norah jones and cat power and a score by ry cooder. but what will stay in my mind the longest are the array of visual delights this film serves us.

Burn After Reading

this is classic coen brothers comedy (which is an odd thing for me to say considering the only other coen brothers comedy i have seen is fargo -- but it had the same quirky comedic tone as fargo). the whole cast were great. brad pitt was in a surprising role, but he was fantastic. there are some classic moments and i laughed many times throughout.

Eagle Eye
Eagle Eye(2008)
½

an extremely slick and well produced typical modern hollywood action thriller. it had all the formulaic elements of a winning production and achieved what it set out to do admirably. but the sacrifice for these sorts of films is almost always the scope for any genuine emotional involvement.

Watchmen
Watchmen(2009)

an extremely good adaptation of the famous graphic novel. in fact i found the novel harder to digest due to the heavy literary tone -- so i highly enjoyed this strong film version. visual effects, editing, casting, action sequences and just nailing the whole watchmen tone were the main highlights of this production for me. I think, however, I would've found it overly convoluted and hard to follow if i hadn't read the source material first. but in most respects, a huge triumph. and i'm always glad to see a "superhero film" presented as a deep and epic piece of filmmaking.

Perfect Blue
Perfect Blue(1999)

this is one of the most perfectly taut psychological thrillers i've seen. an amazing directorial performance from satoshi kon in his first animated feature! Unfortunately anime as a medium is a bit of niche thing and so this film won't achieve the recognition it deserves for pure filmmaking. Many years ago I was dissuaded from seeing Perfect Blue from reports of excessively graphic material, and whilst I realise some will still find this an issue, I'm glad it didn't stop me from eventually discovering this masterpiece. My only concern is visual quality. Most 10 year old Japanese animation doesn't strike me as "dated", and while Perfect Blue did, I'm willing to blame that on a remarkably poor quality DVD transfer. A remastered edition or proper DVD transfer from a pure source would certainly be warranted.

Match Point
Match Point(2005)

reasonably well shot and acted... tho i found the main character distinctly unlikeable. the middle section was too drawn out and i started losing interest. on reflection, there's some interesting themes and subtext to consider tho.

Requiem for a Dream
½

if you wanna see a film with drugs, this is your film! lots and lots of drugs! watching this film is a highly visceral, intense and disturbing experience. if you've ever thought drugs might be the way to go in life, this film might just scare those thoughts clean outta your head!! there's some very clever and creative editing on display here, and some striking musical moments in the score. but it certainly didn't add up to an experience that i could say i enjoyed. in fact i can't imagine anyone particularly "enjoying" this film, but that's almost certainly not the intention. if you rate it on creativity and impact, it should get a very high score, but for me, actual enjoyment is well... kinda important.

The Jammed
The Jammed(2007)
½

certainly one of the better australian films i've seen. it looks into the horrific and sordid world of human trafficking/sex slave trade. being set in melbourne, it had an even greater impact for a melbournian like me. an effective film to help raise awareness of this important issue. also had some nice haunting music throughout the score.

Dodgeball - A True Underdog Story
½

let's just say 'mystery men' easily remains my favourite ben stiller film ;)

Little Children

i found 'little children' highly engaging. i'm tempted to use the word 'poignant', but i think i've been using it too much without fully understanding what it means... so i'll stick with 'insightful' -- but with the distinct possibility of being 'poignant' ;) i'm feeling really 'mature' having an appreciation for this kind of film. maybe it'll spark some kinda mini midlife crisis ;) but seriously, the screenplay was fantastic. i particularly liked the sections of narration -- it gave a deep and literary feel. it was shot really well and the acting was great too. the last 25 mins or so started to remind me just a little of 'crash' which isn't a particularly good thing, cos it was a bit heavy-handed for me. so even though 'little children' never went there, the similarity in tone was a little off-putting. but that's just a personal thing. i always used to associate this film with 'the last kiss' cos i think they were released at a similar time and seemed to deal with the same kind of subject matter. but now that i've seen (and enjoyed) both, i reckon 'the last kiss' has a little more of a lite/mainstream edge to it, while 'little children' is more like serious filmmaking. it got 3 oscar nominations (including best adapted screenplay) in 2006 which are certainly deserved.