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Monday, November 30, 2009

[9.00/10] Zombieland (2009)


Zombieland (2009)


You know "Zombieland" is going to be a bit different as soon as the movie begins. Columbus does a rundown of some of the most important rules he's learned while living in Zombieland leading up to the credits playing over very cool slow-motion scenes of people being chased and eaten by zombies with "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica playing the entire time. The cinematography and the way the characters on screen interact with the letters in the opening credits is incredible. Blood splattering on the screen, glass shattering, and the way everything seems to be jumping out at you. Best movie opening so far this year! Woody Harrelson perfectly captures the insane, grizzled hero of the bunch. Jesse Eisenberg, as he tends to be in his roles, works as the awkward kid with a crush. Emma Stone is sweet and cute in her own wicked little way. And then there's the sweet Abigail Breslin who really never fails and still maintains her place as one of the few tolerable child stars left out there. On other technical levels, the writing was very good. The dialogue is often hilarious, especially in the times of character spats. The story never gets too complicated and stays very interesting throughout. Director Ruben Fleischer, who makes his directorial debut here, really captures the action of the zombie-killing lifestyle well and manages to wrangle the movie into something both simple and expansive. Very well done on all accounts. The gore is fantastic, brutal, and sometimes over-the-top. "Zombieland" is witty horror entertainment with a great cast and clever cinematography. A roller coaster ride you immediately want to ride again as soon as its over. What's surprising is it might just wind up being the best horror film to come out this year!

  • My Rating: 9.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 89% (7.3/10)
  • IMDb: 8.1/10

[6.00/10] Jennifer's Body (2009)


Jennifer's Body (2009)

Short review: Other than Megan Fox, the other factor that was pushed really hard in the advertising campaign for "Jennifer's Body" was the fact that Diablo Cody, the screenwriter of "Juno," was attached to this film. The dialogue and humor of the film are both witty and laugh out loud funny at times. This film does not apologize for its odd premise nor does it try to compensate for it. "Jennifer's Body" plays it straight, recognizing the plot is entirely superficial. This premise doesn't hold the film back. The plot throws enough fun details in the mix that drive this film forward, making it a fantastic platform for the starts of the film, obviously the cast and Cody's writing. The characters themselves are funny to begin with. Megan Fox brings the classic evil beauty queen to life, and her acting is surprisingly good. Sure, in context of the film, the things she says and does may seem ridiculous, but she owns the role. Amanda Seyfried is equally good in the cliché good-girl role, and she's proved her talent before with her bubbly role in "Mean Girls"; she's cute and lovable and the audience is able to sympathize with her, and yet she can be a smart ass herself. "Jennifer's Body" ends up as being very entertaining and funny modern horror film that is a nice change of pace after so many remakes and rehashes.

  • My Rating: 6.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 45% (5.1/10)
  • IMDb: 5.5/10

Friday, November 27, 2009

[4.00/10] Surrogates (2009)


Surrogates (2009)

Short review: There are a lot of good ideas floating around in "Surrogates". For whatever reason, though, the movie is just never really able to mesh them into something that's engrossing or as thought-provoking as it should be. As the movie progressed with it's anti-technology message, Bruce Willis became less like a hero and more like a pain in everyone's neck. Tom Greer's backstory is so run-of- the-mill that it borders on being laughable, and we're never really given a chance to connect/identify with this situation. Moving at a breakneck 88 minutes, the whole thing feels more episodic in nature than it does a full length feature film. The pacing is often mired by plodding tedium at times as well, which is oddly contrasted by the convenient, very "Hollywood" final act that we all see coming from hundred miles away. More interesting is the lack of production skills on this movie. Bar a few scenes, "Surrogates" has a made-for-TV feeling much of the time. The outside lighting looked odd, the interior shots often seemed badly framed. Somehow, this movie either lost money in production or maybe never had much, and that definitely showed.

  • My Rating: 4.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 39% (5.4/10)
  • IMDb: 6.4/10

[9.25/10] Star Trek (2009)


Star Trek (2009)

"Star Trek" was going completely in a tailspin until "Lost" creator J.J. Abrams, came aboard to jolt the aging Trek franchise with a much needed rush of adrenaline! This is easily the best Trek film in twenty years, bringing back the excitement of James T. Kirk, Spock, McCoy and all the original crew back to their full glory. It is a true 21st-Century Star Trek - explosive, exciting, character-driven and a miraculous spectacle to behold. The movie follows the great action reboots before it in returning "Star Trek" to its origins: how the U.S.S Enterprise, the golden ship of Starfleet, protectors of the universe , came into being and how its characters forged their relationship on board its deck. The most impressive aspect of the film is the cast. The acting talent on display here is terrific, balancing the difficult task of capturing the soul of the well known characters and fleshing them out, without falling into the trap of merely impersonating the original actors. They succeed admirably: Chris Pine captures Kirk's cockiness and Zachary Quinto is great as the hotheaded younger Spock, but the most plaudits must go to Karl Urban as Bones, who is so good, you'd swear they cloned DeForrest Kelly. The supporting cast is also very effective, with Bruce Greenwood's Captain Pike the standout, adding earthy notes and depth to a character previously relegated to a horrible accident on the TV show. Visually the film is stunning, taking a leaf out of Star Wars book and hosting massive chaotic space battles, yet remaining much darker in tone. Director J.J. Abrams and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have outdone themselves by doing what many believed was impossible. They have not only revitalized the Trek franchise by making a great sci-fi/action saga that appeals to a wider audience, they have done so while capturing the spirit of the original Trek series.

  • My Rating: 9.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 95% (8.1/10)
  • IMDb: 8.3/10

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

[7.00/10] Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)


Ice Age:
Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)


With so many animated movies flooding the market these days, it becomes quite hard to come up with new ideas. Talking animals certainly isn't one, but if the characters have enough history and emotion, it really doesn't matter. "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" really profits from a slightly new approach to the material, which includes some very obvious parodies. The amount of comedy in this film exceeds any other animated flick this year, and it is a hilarious watch. The films humour is at a neutral level at first, but enters into craziness when the gang encounter Buck. Simon Pegg is an excellent voice for the deranged weasel, and does an amazing job. The lack of Sid in the movie does decrease the humour slightly, but Buck is now one of the funniest characters in animated history. Then we have the dinosaurs, who are, of course, extremely evil and always hunt down the main characters. The baby dinosaurs are very cute and hilarious, and Manny and Ellie's little baby, Peaches, is adorable! And the scenes involving Scrat and his new girlfriend are just as funny as they have always been. Noticeable improvements in the film's animation are clear when compared to the first two Ice Age movies. The fur effects have improved, as has the overall quality of the animations look. The backgrounds still retain the same soft, beautiful look the first two movies had, and the film is an even more enjoyable watch in 3D. m"Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" is entertaining and enjoyable, but certainly not the best animated movie of the year. Still it is a good 90 minute time filler, and those who enjoyed the previous Ice Age films, will definitely also like this one.

  • My Rating: 7.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 45% (5.4/10)
  • IMDb: 7.1/10

[2.50/10] The Crypt (2009)


The Crypt (2009)

Quickrating: An amateurish "Descent" rip-off, that is poorly-made, poorly-scripted, terribly-acted, unimaginative and forgettable! "The Crypt" has no reason to exist.

  • My Rating: 2.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 4.0/10

Friday, November 20, 2009

[6.75/10] Public Enemies (2009)


Public Enemies (2009)

Ignoring a couple of lame scenes, and certain lack of emotion, "Public Enemies" comes across as decen gangster movie, designed with an eye towards slick prestige without reaching artificiality. It recreates the atmosphere of the time, the so called golden era of bank robberies through the escapades of John Dillenger. Shooting in digital Mann brings his usual expertise at accuracy, authenticity and lends an epic scale to the story as well as creating a number of thrilling action sequences particularly an elongated shoot out at a country lodge. The acting is generally high calibre and both leads are convincing, and Depp is admirably restrained as Dillinger when compared with his more recent wilder roles. Marion Cotillard transforms a generic girlfriend role into a force of nature. Although she's absent for much of the film, she steals literally every scene she appears in. And then there's Christian Bale, a once extraordinary new talent who has lately been letting the side down with a string of one-note performances as boring alpha males. Here, he is marginally better but sadly isn't strong enough to maintain the conflict established between himself and Mr. Depp. Ultimately Mann has the characters, era and time to create a true classic of American crime but clings too close to the well worn confines of the genre and ultimately the film could really be about anyone and set anywhere and have a near identical plot. That is not to say it's a bad film, it's a solid one, but Mann had the scope and actors to aim so much higher that it is hard not to be disappointed and a little frustrated with the end result.

  • My Rating: 6.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 67% (6.3/10)
  • IMDb: 7.3/10

Thursday, November 19, 2009

CineMarvellous Preview: Zhang Yimou's A Simple Noodle Story (2009/2010)


Zhang Yimou's

A Simple Noodle Story


a.k.a.

Amazing Tales: Three Guns (2010)

a.k.a.

San Qiang Pai An Jing Qi
(2009 - China release)


Chinese poster of Zhang Yimou's "A Simple Noodle Story", formerly known as "Amazing Tales: Three Guns", was released today.

Sony Pictures Classics has announced its production partnership and the acquisition of rights in North America, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand to Zhang Yimou's A Simple Noodle Story, a remake of the Coen Brothers' 1984 debut feature, Blood Simple. The film will be produced by Bill Kong.


The film will mark the eleventh collaboration between Zhang Yimou and the Sony Pictures Classics team, dating back to 1991's Raise the Red Lantern. The relationship includes such films as The Story of Qiu Ju, Shanghai Triad, House of Flying Daggers, and Zhang's most recent film, the 2006 martial arts epic Curse of the Golden Flower starring Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat. Sony Pictures Classics also owns the rights to Zhang's first film, 1987's Red Sorghum.


Sony Pictures Classics Co-Presidents and Co-Founders, Michael Barker and Tom Bernard jointly stated: "The idea of a remake of 'Blood Simple' as seen through the eyes of Zhang Yimou's masterful visual elegance and clever narrative twists is genius. Our continued partnership over the years with both Zhang Yimou and Bill Kong has always been so fruitful. We are excited to be back in business with them."


The film will also be SPC's fifth collaboration with producer Bill Kong which began in 2000 with Ang Lee's Academy Award winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the highest-grossing foreign language film in U.S. box office history, and includes House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower.


Zhang Yimou stated, "I am very happy working with Sony Pictures Classics again, they have always done a great job and I am looking forward to be with them again."


"I am so excited to be with Tom and Michael again, especially as this is the first film from Zhang Yimou after his 2008 Olympic Opening Event," added Kong.

Zhang's film will be a thriller-comedy remake of Joel & Ethan Coen's Blood Simple, set in a Chinese noodle shop in a sand dune-specked desert, rather than a bar in an unnamed Texas town. The owner of the noodle shop's seemingly simple plan to murder his adulterous wife and her lover quickly spins out of control after the introduction of a gun into the lives of characters more accustomed to knives and swords.

Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in North America in 2010, but since the picture opens in China next month, on 11th of December.

Source: ComingSoon and MonkeyPeaches

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

[5.50/10] Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)


Transformers:
Revenge of the Fallen
(2009)


"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" felt like Michael Bay was high on cocaine because of the hyperactive pace, the obvious continuity errors, and the overuse of crude comedy. Either that or he's intentionally trying to sink this franchise now. With "Revenge" you're given frenetic action, which is okay and expected, but then your given gratuitous scenes of moms eating hash brownies, idiotic stereotypes, and John Tuturros butt. Then, as expected in a Bay film, there are undeveloped characters that you're expected to care for, only it's worse than usual. With a budget of $200 million, "Revenge of the Fallen" should be expected to have the same astounding CG effects the first movie had. It doesn't disappoint in the technical department. The CG for the robots is incredible, and the little scratches on their metallic bodies just add to the realism. The transformations are still clever and realistic, and just amazing to watch. Some of the robots do look quite cartoony and silly, which decreases the realism, but overall the CG is outstanding and some of the most realistic computer effects in a film. It's not like Bay cares about acting, but some of the actors that participate in his movies at least care about their performances. Take Shia LaBeouf, for example, who tries to inject some humanity into his character despite the fact that the screenplay uses him only to run and shout. If Sam is charismatic and worth rooting for - and ultimately works as a compelling leading character - it's because of LaBeouf, not due to the filmmakers' work. I also liked Josh Duhamel, and Kevin Dunn and Julie White as Sam's parents were pretty funny. John Turturro, reprising his role from the previous movie, gave a memorable performance as always, although his character has somehow changed. On the other hand, I didn't get the point of Megan Fox's character. Okay, so she's incredibly hot, but she was also incredibly useless. Pure eye-candy, no substance. Overall, despite the spectacular special effects and insanely monstrous new enemies, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" can't offer enough truly fresh material to warrant this overlong, mind-bogglingly destructive summer blockbuster.

  • My Rating: 5.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 19% (3.9/10)
  • IMDb: 6.1/10

[5.00/10] The Last House on the Left (2009)


The Last House on the Left (2009)

The new version of Wes Craven's 1972 exploitation classic, "Last House on the Left", is a way, way softer and far less sleazier film. It is not that there is anything specifically horrible about "The Last House on the Left"... it is just the fact that it seems so monotonously made. Even for those who have no knowledge of the original film, the remake still plays like a paint-by-numbers of modern horror. There are practically no scares and everything plays out in a predictable fashion. As fantastic as the trailer for the film was, it sets up every death scene and almost every beat the film takes. It may say there are twists and turns, but the major twist is in the setup. It feels stale right after its unconventional opening, and it never tries to freshen itself up at any point. It just plays right into everything you ever imagine happening. The remake attempts to make each character a bit more developed than they were in the original film, but it falls into the same trap as the original. The characters seem to just run on instinct, and their actions and motivations do not always gel with who their character is supposed to be. Where the film does succeed, much like the original, is in its ability to make the viewer feel increasingly uncomfortable. The aforementioned rape scene is nowhere near as disgusting as the one featured in Craven's original film, but it still manages to successfully border on being exploitative. The acting is about as great as it can be from a film that baits-and-switches its character developments and dimensionality. The remake of "Last House on the Left" is neither great nor horrible. In my opinion, it sits comfortably in the middle somewhere.

  • My Rating: 5.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 41% (4.9/10)
  • IMDb: 6.7/10

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

[5.25/10] A Perfect Getaway (2009)


A Perfect Getaway (2009)

Short review: "A Perfect Getaway"'s story unfolds around three couples and a mysterious murderous duo stalking the Hawaii sland. A 97 minute running time is commendably tight, but the characters are offered as little more than stereotypes which devalues audience sympathies. There is a twist, which is effective, but genre fens will anticipate it because the options are so limited. The actors are good though. Steve Zahn, in a rare dramatic role is good as Cliff. And there are strong supporting performances from Timothy Olyphant, Milla Jovovich and Kiele Sanchez. The cinematography, filmed on location is Hawaii is simply stunning. Helipcopter shots provide a perfect excuse for those swooping panoramas which thrill, excite and delight in equal measure. "A Perfect Getaway" is a little thriller that serves its purpose - it entertains. But if you're expecting more then that you're going to be disappointed.

  • My Rating: 5.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 58% (5.8/10)
  • IMDb: 6.5/10

[4.50/10] Pandorum (2009)


Pandorum (2009)

Short review: "Pandorum"'s story isn't actually bad, but it is told in such utter darkness with such frenetic camera work that it is often impossible to follow exactly what's going on. Add to this dialogue which is often incomprehensible in the middle of sudden ear-splitting noises, and a sequence of obstacles which exist, video game-style, for no other purpose than simply to be another obstacle... and some elements of "Pandorum" become annoying. The film is only intermittently scary. Indeed, the flesh feasting mutants provide a clear and present danger to our heroes and they amount to worthwhile adversaries. Unfortunately, since they can no more communicate their ideas in English than Manh can, they are one-dimensional and exist for the shock factor. "Pandorum" has a lot going for it, but Alvert and Milloy's poor storytelling skills undercut their best efforts.

  • My Rating: 4.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 27% (4.2/10)
  • IMDb: 7.1/10

Monday, November 16, 2009

[9.25/10] Up (2009)


Up (2009)

Pixar has found a home with Disney and, with apologies to Dreamworks and other animation studios, no one has come close in recent years to their fresh, inventive, and importantly, timeless spirit in computer animation. In "Up", a tale of loneliness and friendship is told in a simple, heartfelt way. This is one of the best films of the year and puts live action films to shame. The main strength of "Up" lies in the action and its characters. The film has plenty of exciting and perilous moments that keep you guessing how it's going to end. And then, there are the hilarious characters: Carl himself is likable, but doesn't provide as many laughs as Russell, and the eventual animals that are involved in their quest. Like previously stated though, "Up" is a very tough pill to swallow in terms of its dramedy. The first ten minutes of "Up" are among the most heart-wrenching in recent memory, and towards the climax we have another moment in which you can't help but feel that lump in your throat. Like all Pixar movies, the voice cast is spot on. All of "Up"'s characters are brought to life with well read lines, vocally emotional undertones, and an assortment of talents. Pixar's trademark CGI animation also breathes life into the characters, all of them are given convincing facial animations and gestures which could match any Hollywood A-lister's. All of the CGI is done beautifully. The scenery is breathtaking and the jungle sets sometimes look as if they were ripped from an issue of National Geographic. Pixar's signature animation is always cartoonish, yet photo-realistic and of course, ahead of their competition. Pixar has yet again raised their bar even higher. "Up" is a beautiful adventure film filled with rich characters, great animation and very real emotion.


  • My Rating: 9.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 98% (8.6/10)
  • IMDb: 8.5/10

Thursday, November 12, 2009

[9.25/10] Watchmen (2009)


Watchmen (2009)
[Director's Cut]

After twenty years the ultimate graphic novel, a tale many hold to be amongst the greatest stories ever written, has finally been brought to cinematic life! "Watchmen" is a visual feast from start to finish. But not just that; it is also an excellent film overall, because of a terrific screenplay, stylish direction and great acting. The cast is a stellar! With Malin Akerman being the only weak link, there is little left to be desired. Billy Crudup's passive monotone is exactly what you'd imagine from Manhattan, Matthew Goode's affluent inflection and precise delivery of his words just the right amount of ego and genius Ozymandias contains, and Patrick Wilson's bumbling loner-geek brings Dan Dreiberg to life, showing all the insecurities that vanish when inside the Nite Owl suit. Where the true brilliance lies, however, is with Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Comedian and Jackie Earle Haley's Rorschach. The visuals in "Watchmen" are truly stunning and hypnotic. Director Zack Snyder caters to comic readers by striving for artistic mimicry in imitating specific panels from the graphic novel. The drastic color scheme creates a mesmerizing, innovative style, pleasing to the eye and reminiscent of comic art. The visual approach is apparent from the opening credit sequence (It opens with a chilling scene of a vicious super powered fight). Through iconic, almost photographic stills Snyder elegantly presents the superheroes' history. It effectively introduces the audience to the world of the Watchmen. Brutal violence is beautified through split second slowmo shots to enhance powerful punches and emphasize the bright, agonizing gore. The fight scene choreography feels like watching a comic book in action, showing the audience every hit, every bullet wound, every blood splatter. The film utilizes its parent text by truly capturing the comic book on screen. The music suited the time period and captured the intended emotions. Overall, Synder delivers a movie rich in cinematic bluster and verve whilst creating a dark atmosphere in a world rife with paranoia and fear. The story ticks over nicely with plenty of educating flash-back sequences which enables the new viewer to get to grips with both plot and characters. Whether its colorful, chilling scenes of graphic violence, various ex-superheroes representing the best and worst of humanity, or a whodunit mystery, "Watchmen" proves to be a ride of pure adrenaline. It'll make you squirm, laugh, gasp, and most importantly think. One of this year's best movies!

  • My Rating: 9.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 64% (6.2/10)
  • IMDb: 7.8/10

[8.25/10] Paranormal Activity (2009)


Paranormal Activity (2009)

First and foremost, the movie is great for what it is - a low-budget, scary, mysterious flick for those nights where you want to experience some creepy moments. To get the most out of it, draw the curtains, light some candles, cuddle under a blanket and enjoy the dramatic development of the two main characters: a lovable, young couple you can actually relate to. "Paranormal Activity" succeeds mainly because of the mood filmmaker Oren Peli creates. We are given a nice back story for these characters and we feel for them. It's almost like watching a home movie. This realistic effect enhances the supernatural aspect of the story, making every bump in the night and strange occurrence that much more believable. The film also has a real authenticity feel to it, especially the exchange between with actors Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat, whom both pull off very fine and realistic performances. There is no music in the film, one thing that most good horror films don't use. Silence is the ultimate suspense enhancer. If you can cut the sound, make your audience lean in a little, and then blow them away with a scare, you have won them over. The triumph of "Paranormal Activity" is in the fact that it was made for so little, but has the ability to terrify so many. It works on so many levels that its few faults are more than easily redeemed. The film is short enough to not overstay its welcome, and scary enough to make even the most hardened film-goer wince in fear!

  • My Rating: 8.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 84% (7.2/10)
  • IMDb: 7.2/10

[8.25/10] Trick 'r Treat (2009)


Trick 'r Treat (2009)

Short review: Very effective in spots, "Trick 'r Treat" is highly recommended for those who want to reminisce of the 80-90s horror films, especially "Creepshow". Now, this one does take it a step further by continuously overlapping and backtracking on four stories of horror. Each story is infused with energetic performances from all the lead cast members, while instances of suspense followed by a brief splattering of dark-humour send your emotions on a hugely enjoyable roller-coaster; you'll be cowering one minute and laughing out loud the next! However the real splendour and genius in Dougherty's film is in the beautifully shot and composed sequences, shot by cinematographer Glen MacPherson, which bring alive the tradition of Halloween that we all remember from being a child. It's fun, it's exciting, it's suspenseful, it's scary and it is the perfect movie to watch on a dark, cold and windy all Hallows Eve night! It's a shame for such a fine film to languish on the shelf, only to be seen by a select few at sympathetic festivals, for "Trick 'r Treat" is virtually an instant classic of the genre, even if its only audience exposure ends up being via direct-to-DVD.

  • My Rating: 8.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 85% (7.6/10)
  • IMDb: 7.3/10

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

[8.50/10] Drag Me To Hell (2009)


Drag Me To Hell (2009)

Director of the classic "Evil Dead", Sam Raimi, returns to horror in fantastic fashion. The film's plot is basic, but the techniques, imagination, sheer quality in film-making and acting performance helps elevate this film to a horror classic. The blending of comedy, horror, suspense, bewilderment and disorientation is pulled off to perfection. From the first minute you are hooked on the film and its electricity in terms of its images and pace. he film effects your state of mind and body...you are constantly anxious and tense as you wait excitedly for the next moment of suspense and horror. The film delivers so much pure quality to the audience with its emphasis on pure entertainment with horror and comedy. It wouldn't be achievable without the fantastic rhythm and pace of the film which is all achieved through Raimi's masterful direction for the genre the film is exploring and bending. The acting is top-notch and the lack of familiar faces is another element contributing to the freshness of the picture. The films technical quality is breath-taking with new mind-bending approaches and camera-work mixed with the fantastic musical score and sound use take the films quality to an even higher podium. Simply put, "Drag Me to Hell" is one of the most enjoyable horror films of recent times. It has an interesting, supernatural storyline with interesting characters, good acting and intriguing cinematographic design. The shining achievement of "Drag Me to Hell" is that it does what a horror should: not just simply gross out the audience but rather aim to scare and entertain them!

  • My Rating: 8.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (7.6/10)
  • IMDb: 7.3/10

[8.00/10] Coco Avant Chanel (2009)


Coco Avant Chanel (2009)

"Coco Before Chanel" truly is a breath of fresh air in the stagnant summer season at the movies, when the box office is clogged with mindless and saturating Hollywood blockbusters. It is a divine film from Anne Fontaine – a relative newcomer to films of this scope, apart from a few French movies – and is impeccably tailored and coiffed, much like its titular character, with very high production values, an excellent script, glorious music and a soaring performance from its leading lady - Audrey Tautou... a luminous presence on the screen ever since her triumphs in the charming "Amélie" and "A Very Long Engagement". In the film she plays Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel, as the title suggests, before she was that iconic creature. Her performance is as rich and multi-layered as the material can provide. The film ss not strictly a biopic. It is a rather dreamy interpretation of Chanel's early years – with tendencies for romanticism and historical inaccuracies, and the script written by Fontaine and her sister, Camille, with a treatment from the revered writer, Christopher Hampton can be rather featherweight at times and yet it never outstays its welcome. The lushness of the cinematography and the faithfulness to the period can be attributed to the creative team, whose keen eye for detail, is mesmerizing- from the sprawling estate of Etienne Balsam, to Chanel and Capel's excursion to St. Tropez and the triumphant fashion parade that is the finale, the film has the most wonderful aesthetics I have seen recently. The film certainly nails the patina of pre-war France to a tee. Beautifully made, "Coco Avant Chanel" is a lovely, moving film!

  • My Rating: 8.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 66% (6.1/10)
  • IMDb: 6.7/10

[7.00/10] Angels & Demons (2009)


Angels & Demons (2009)

Langdon is back and this time he's in Vatican, where a secret society, the Illuminatti, are threatening the cardinals and the city. To be brief, "Angels & Demons" is better than "The Da Vinci Code" mainly because it's more fast-paced, it's full of disturbing facts and there's more action. The plot is, well, present, but not really important. This movie is much more about the structural hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the evolving relationship between science and religion than about any conspiracy, as was the case with the first film. The Illuminati are more of a distraction than anything else. The cast isn't anything special, the only two actors who stand out are Ewan McGregor and Tom Hanks. Hanks' performance as Robert Langdon is much more relaxed, I suppose he feels more comfortable in the character. Ayelet Zurer, who plays Vittoria Vetra, is on the blacklist: her acting is nothing spectacular and her character is useless, mainly because she contributes little to the actual plot. Due to the controversial status of Dan Brown surrounding the Catholic Church, the Vatican denied the permission to film "Angels & Demons" in the original churches in Rome. Anyway, the production designers did a terrific job recreating the interiors, with all the artwork and nostalgic charm you can only find in a place like that. Hans Zimmer's music is bombastic and powerful, making several scenes more exciting than they are anyway. "Angels & Demons" is a fast-paced, thrilling action flick, that does pretty much everything right. "The Da Vinci Code" didn't disappoint and managed to entertain for its total running time, which after all is more than two hours.

  • My Rating: 7.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 36% (5.1/10)
  • IMDb: 6.8/10

[5.50/10] Goemon (2009)


Goemon (2009)

Short review: "Goemon" was a mixed bag for me. Director Kazuaki Kiriya tries hard to explain the background of the story and it become dragging in the first 20 minutes of the movie while also getting to confuse the audience. It should be more plain and simple story background as so much history character has been involved. The acting was mediocre and way over-the-top! The effects were strange! The lighting was often unusual and nothing ever looked real be it castle, forest or grassy plain. Combine this with super jumps, one vs. thousands fights and CGI straight out of last years video games and the result is an audience questioning if we are supposed to take the melodrama seriously. And since it seems more time and effort was spent stylizing fights than smoothing out a plot, I'm guessing the answer is no. There are some beautiful images and creative fight choreography, but as a whole "Goemon" failed to deliver!

  • My Rating: 5.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 6.6/10

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

[5.00/10] Antichrist (2009)


Antichrist (2009)

QuickRating: "Antichrist" is beautifully shot, visually superb, and the performances by the two actors are quite good. Some may view this as an art piece but for me it does not achieve this. The plot is fanciful, pedestrian, and unrelentingly grim. There is simply no reason to feel anything other than mild disgust and puzzlement as you watch this bleak and largely soulless story drag itself to it's completely pointless conclusion. A film should engage its audience and provide a reason to keep watching, but unfortunately, "Antichrist "completely failed on this most critical of points.

  • My Rating: 5.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 48% (5.3/10)
  • IMDb: 6.9/10

[8.50/10] District 9 (2009)


District 9 (2009)

"District 9" is one of those seemingly rare examples of science fiction in movies done right. Although it isn't without a handful of hiccups, "District 9" still manages to be a fairly thoughtful piece while providing wallops of entertainment. And for providing both substance and plenty of explosions, I'm pleased! The story is established via a mashup of faux-documentary footage and standard third-person camera, a technique that I actually found a little jarring at times since switching between the two wasn't exactly systematic, but, despite its chaotic nature, it generally worked. In terms of action, there are only a small handful of action set pieces, with chases and bursts of combat amidst the drama. Some of the crazy effects of the alien weaponry seem inspired by videogames and seemed a little random, because of the diversity of the effects. Some of the props also seemed a little toy-like as well. Still, it's all designed pretty well. The film is shot convincingly, with the found footage hitting all the right notes and the omniscient eye staying close with a cleaner look, but still gray/neutral. Acting had to be largely held by our leading man and the newcomer South African, Copley, manages to hold his own through the running time of the film. Many of the other characters are rather one note and so the other actors don't have much to do. The rest of the production does really well given the fractional budget. Above all, "District 9" manages to become a truly reflection of classic sci-fi, action, and a gritty depiction of social interaction, and humans' "print" on anything that opposes or bewilders it.

  • My Rating: 8.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 90% (7.8/10)
  • IMDb: 8.4/10

[8.00/10] Ip Man (2008)


Ip Man (2008)

Short review: "Ip Man" is simply a superb and inspirational biographical movie about the father of modern Chinese martial arts. Shot in a modern style but embodying all the virtues of The Good Chinese Hero of Confuciansim this is a really marvelous and very good watch. Director Wilson Yip, along with action director Sammo Hung and choreographer Leung Siu-hung, have created a seamless series of breathtakingly memorable action sequences of awesome martial arts prowess, neatly integrated into this dramatic story of personal and national pride. In the center of all this is the fantastic portrayal of lead actor Donnie Yen. His humility and generosity as a family man and friend is counterbalanced with his graceful yet deadly skills as a martial artist. Mr. Yen effectively captures this unique spirit for all of us to cheer for and admire. "Yip Man" is indeed a must see for all fans of Chinese martial arts movies.

  • My Rating: 8.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 8.1/10

[6.75/10] Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)


Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)

Short review: Luckily this Jerry Bruckheimer produced flick has Isla Fisher as its headliner though. Not only is she gorgeous but she will probably grow to be one of the most gifted comic actresses around. A lot of what makes "Confessions of a Shopaholic" work is based around Fisher's performance. She's an adorable red-head and wild comedic actress that you can't help but like. She has good chemistry with a well cast Hugh Dancy, charming as the tightly wound British editor. The screenplay, by a trio of writers, bases all the laughs in broad comedy, mostly all about rabidly insane women and their shopping obsessions. It's sometimes funny, like when Rebecca ruins the progress of a support group for recovering shoppers, but soon all the talking mannequins and department store craziness just gets silly. It's an amusing little story though and while it takes a little long to finalize the romance, correct the debt, mend friendships, and learn a thing or two about financial responsibility, the themes here are identifiable and timely enough to keep interest. And director PJ Hogan avoids dumbing it down by taking a classier approach and finds affection for these characters. "Confessions of a Shopaholic" is Fisher's show though and it's a solid enough piece of work to support her while she shows off her considerable skill. The movie on the other hand is something you wish were funnier but is still pretty harmless, amusing and even nice to watch.

  • My Rating: 6.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 23% (4.3/10)
  • IMDb: 5.6/10