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All reviews - Movies (58) - DVDs (72)

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 October 2010 11:16 (A review of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus)

Like many, I was hoping for a return to form for Terry Gilliam with this movie. And after reading a handful of reviews upon its theatrical release, I began to imagine that that is exactly what Dr. Parnasus would be. Unfortunately after watching the movie, I fail to see what all the fuss is about. (Could it be that many reviewers for major, visible publications are gutless, and simply paying the late Ledger lip-service. Call me cynical, while I call a spade a spade.) Truthfully, this is one of the most ho-hum films I've seen this year. It simply does not captivate. Much of the movie doddles along without much energy, as we watch the performers act out uninspired and predictable character arcs. The whole mystrerious stranger (Ledger) threatens the hopeful would-be suitor (some AWFUL actor guy) in his quest for the girl's heart, jealousy ensues, story-line is an absolute yawn. Every bit of overly-scripted attempts at humor (mostly involving mini-me) fall flat. And the solution to working around a dead lead-actor, while noble in its original concept (I agree, choosing ONE actor as a replacement would be disrespectful and tasteless), is, to put it mildly, flawed in its execution. Sure there are some clever self-conscious winks at the audience, but ultimately they only expose holes in the narrative and character-development. (Why, for instance, does Anton vehemently object to Tony's change in appearance, questioning who he really is, when only ten minutes later Valentina doesn't think twice about it? She can't be THAT blinded by love.) This film did inherently gain some of my interest in the fact that much of it plays out like a medieval or reformation morality play, both in its subject and its visual cues. (imagine the mirror-door as a hellmouth pulled straight from the Anglo-Saxson stage) But once through the mirror, while impressive at times, the visuals were by no means awe-inspiring enough to keep afloat an entire film weighed down by so much else.


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Taxidermia review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 October 2010 11:15 (A review of Taxidermia)

Taxidermia is a film that defies categorization. It is at once beautiful and horrific, engaging and repulsive, a serious-minded arthouse flick and a dark, disturbed comedic satire. I am admittedly unfamiliar with much of the history of Hungary between WWII and today and without having a feel for things like popular sentiment, national identity, etc. over that time frame its difficult to judge exactly what tone the director is trying to strike with this movie. Consequently, in most instances I find that his sheer skill as a film-maker shines through even the bleakest of subject matter, while at other times moments of such morbidness and absurdity are at play that I simply don't know what to make of it. In the end I do feel that this film has a good deal of worth, but be warned, discovering it won't be easy. One must first navigate through more than one erection, flaming ejaculate, a live and lovingly shot autopsy of sorts, and plenty of vomit...just for starters. I suspect that at Taxadermia's conclusion a good many viewers will regret ever watching it, while at least as many will immediately pull up the film's wikipedia page. You're the best judge of which one you are.


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Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (20th Anniversary) review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 October 2010 11:13 (A review of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (20th Anniversary))

A staple in thriller, horror circles. This is a disturbing, cold, intimate, devastatingly nuetral depiction of a mad man. A very controversial film at its time of release it was denied an R rating, and thus crippled box-office-wise with the NC-17 rating. Was later re-released unrated to video. It's bleak, but relavent, and oddly refreshing in the fact that nothing is glamorized or burdended with artistic attitudes or value statements. Henry is not the most fun movie to watch, but if you're like me, if you dont watch it you may feel like you're missing something.


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Audition (Uncut Special Edition) review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 October 2010 11:11 (A review of Audition (Uncut Special Edition))

Audition gets talked about a lot and is touted as one of the more disturbing pictures out there. It may have been a little too built up for me, cuz I wasn't really all that shocked by it, per-se. But it is a very good film, and what really struck me is that while watching the first half of it I felt like I was watching a non-genre japanese film for the first time in my life. You, know like I was watching a Japanese film that wasn't a horror flick, a samurai movie, or anime. Which I honestly don't think I've ever done before. And turns out, still haven't, cuz alas this IS a horror title in the end. But the story works, (mostly) and the characters are all well written and fleshed out. In fact, I was a little sad cuz I liked the characters in this film so much, but knew that some very bad things were eventually going to happen to them. Ultimately, like everything I've seen by Takashi Miike, I was a little put off by some of the directoral choices. Nonetheless, Audition is a memorizing piece of film most of the way through.


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Shadowlands review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 October 2010 11:09 (A review of Shadowlands)

Shadowlands is a touching and inspired love story, an earnest, compelling study of faith (and faith in crisis) and a profoundly mediocre film. But I suppose it is a BBC presentation afterall, and that said, there is nothing glaringly wrong with the film-making in terms of quality, but then again, theres not much to sing about either. The performances in this film are strong throughout, the cinematography stands up, and the music is dreadfully monotonous. I suspect most people viewing this film will have an inherent interest in the life of C.S. Lewis and they should walk away satisfied. Others, however, may find the depiction of their beloved writer and man of God a little disarming. Or they may struggle alligning their own world-views with the portrait of faith and Christianity presented here. Personally I've felt moments of spirituality just as, or more, intensely while sipping a beer in a bar room as I have inside any church. For this reason, in terms of the way Shadowland treats faith, I found the films ability to tightrope walk between the secular and the spiritual to be its greatest strength.


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Funny Games review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 October 2010 11:07 (A review of Funny Games)

Smug. Self-righteous. Sadistic. I wish I was only referring to the two young male antagonists of the movie. But this sums up the flim in its entirety. Relying on a bit of imagery that calls to mind the classic A Clockwork Orange and a whole lot of assumed moral superiority, Funny Games fails as a film and fails as a pious lecture to its consumers. Don't be fooled into feeling that you deserve to sit through this one.


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Thirst review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 October 2010 11:06 (A review of Thirst)

Chan-wook Park, known best for the stunning, nearly perfect revenge film, Oldboy, returns with Thirst, another strong, even brilliant effort. Thirst is a vampire story, but really a morality tale. A Catholic Priest is infected with vampire-ism thru a blood transfusion. As a priest he is accustomed to staving off worldly desires, but finds himself truly tested by his new Vampire urges. A very thoughtful film, tragic, stoic, and downright creepy at times, with just the right dose of sometimes silly, sometimes bizarre, sometimes morbid humor. The sound editing is also notable in the way it adds to the cringe effect at times, partly aided by the fact that music is used sparingly. Definately watch this one!


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The House of the Devil review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 October 2010 11:04 (A review of The House of the Devil)

Shot to look like a classic early eighties slasher movie, The House of the Devil succeeds on all fronts, from the haircuts, to the cinematography, to the cover art, to the sweaters. The premise is refreshingly simple-- college girl in need of money for down payment on new apartment takes baby sitting job. College-age girls, large house on the edge of town, mysterious old couple-- very basic stuff. This is a fun, stylish little picture with likeable characters and a coherent sense of identity all the way thru. It doesn't try to do everything, but instead does a few things very well. Also contains one of the best jump-cuts Ive seen in any horror movie. This is a MUST SEE for fans of the genre, especially for those with a soft-spot for late-seventies/early eighties horror.


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Paranormal Activity review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 October 2010 11:03 (A review of Paranormal Activity)

One of the most polarizing movies to come out last year. People either hated this one or loved it. If you haven't seen it yet, rent it, turn out all the lights, turn the sound up to movie theatre volume and give it your full attention. I was sold on this movie thru and thru. I think the film makers did danm near everything really, really well. The girl gives a fantastic performance precisely because at no point does it feel like she is performing. She is so natural, and so devoid of self-consciousness in front of this hand-held camera, it's unreal. It's as though it has never occurred to her that audiences are going to watch this someday. I wasn't bored at all while watching this. Rather, I felt like a privledged viewer, excited to see what happens next. The film wisely relies on subtlety, and strikes a eerie, menacing tone. It creeped my shit out.


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The Trouble With Harry review

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 3 October 2010 11:00 (A review of The Trouble With Harry)

Breath-taking scenery, a fun musical score, competent performances, a handful of laughs and...that's it. The Trouble with Harry is like a car without an engine. Its got most of the right parts, but nothing to make it go. As a Hitchcock lover thru and thru, I can't believe I'm saying this, but, I was BORED. There simply isn't any magic in this one. There's nothing that takes us to a more interesting, glamorous, dangerous, or plain old preferrable world. The characters are merely sketches and the story entertains meaningless gimmicks rather than dealing with urgent motives or important choices. After reading through some very thoughtful and very complimentary reviews on various sites I began replaying the movie in my mind, trying in vain to see what it is I may have missed. I've gone so far as trying to make excuses for my disapproval, or even for the film. But try as I might to find a way into liking this one, I'm afraid the truth is clear: The trouble with The Trouble with Harry is it just isn't very good.


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