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Thursday, January 28, 2010

[6.75/10] Dorian Gray (2009)

"Dorian Gray"'s story is adequate at best and a disappointment for anyone who read the book, but for anyone who hasn't read Wilde's classic, will be thrilled! There are enough sexual escapades, both male and female, and exhilarating scenes to keep them enthralled through the film. Barnes displays promising talent as a star in the making but the weakness of the script is the downfall to this classic. Barnes' porcelain face and innocent demeanour captures the malevolence and pleasure that is Gray. Oliver Parker applies the talents of Colin Firth again and as result Firth dazzles in his performance as Wotten; a cynical womaniser who is responsible for Gray's adoption of a wicked lifestyle. He implores the depths and characterises of a human to the very core of peer pressure and introduces Gray to a lifestyle he couldn't have dreamt up in his stable days. Visually, "Dorian Gray" is stunning! You'll be dazzled by a myriad of immaculate cinematography showcasing the artificial mess that was 19th Century London The editing and framework is pretty good, and in some places atmospheric and quite artistic. Also, there are some nice uses of sound, constantly building anticipation toward a final glimpse of the decaying picture of Dorian Gray. Parker's take on the story is dark and surreal, placing slightly more emphasis on the real than imagined. "Dorian Gray" is entertaining and effective!

  • My Rating: 6.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 47% (5.1/10)
  • IMDb: 6.6/10

[6.50/10] It's Complicated (2009)

It's Complicated (2009)

Short review: "It's Complicated" is a pleasant enough romantic comedy that is not decently-done, but it is also quite formulaic and there are a lot of situations that will not be all that surprising. Director Nancy Myers again comes up with another film about the female psyche, driven by its main female protagonist, like her previous output "The Holiday" and "Something's Got to Give". While the script may be a little problematic, the film remains to be watchable and likable because of the wonderful star performances. Streep is funnier than the script, adding wonderful mimic to several scenes, and Baldwin is a joy to watch making fun of his aging, not-so-well-kept body. He and Streep are well cast opposite each other, never stealing the scenes for themselves. John Krasinski highlights his comic talent in a small, but charming role as the boyfriend of one of Streep and Baldwin's daughters. Steve Martin is a really good actor that is unfortunately too seldomly used for quasi-serious roles as here. He is an interesting choice for a character that is not un-funny, but not hilarious either, in a movie that is, taken as a whole, a comedy. All in all, "It's Complicated"is entertaining enough and Streep-Baldwin on screen chemistry is very enjoyable to watch.

  • My Rating: 6.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 57% (5.8/10)
  • IMDb: 6.8/10

[4.25/10] The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover (2009)

Short review: Forget the hype! Here's the fact! "The Hangover" is simply below average! Other than Zach Galifianakis everything here has been done and even his character would simply be the clichéd bumbling idiot if not for Galifianakis' genius. The plot itself is very thin and poorly though out. If these guys simply utilize the logic that everyone else uses when something goes missing the movie would be over very quickly. Instead they go on this over bloated journey full of insanely obvious red herrings and numerous secondary characters that never seem to fit in with the atmosphere of the movie. But again this is comedy and because it is, it allows itself room for illogical plot holes and unnecessary silliness. There are plenty of comedies that are more outrageous than this one, but they pull it off because they have the comic delivery to make us laugh enough that we just don't care. In the case of "The Hangover", the delivery is just not funny, witty or foolish enough to make any of the major comic devices work. As a result, most of the content just seems gratuitous and annoying, and falls really flat. "The Hangover" is not awful! It's watchable enough, and you will laugh a couple of times, but don't let the over-the-top reviews fool you. It's just not that great. Not even good! It's ridiculously overrated!

  • My Rating: 4.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 78% (6.7/10)
  • IMDb: 8.0/10

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

[8.00/10] An Education (2009)

An Education (2009)

Scherfig's skilfully directed film of Lynn Barber's poignant memoir of growing up in England in the 60s contains some outstanding performances in the main roles. In particular Carey Mulligan is utterly convincing as the sixteen-year-old Jenny despite the fact that the actress was herself 23 when the movie was made. Peter Sarsgaard is very good as the rotten Goldman and you would not know that he is an American actor. Well done him! There is also a fine cameo from Emma Thompson as Jenny's disbelieving and condemnatory headmistress."An Education" is a movie whose focus is on the choices that people make, why they make them, and what their repercussions are. We come to see that Jenny isn't the only one being forced to make big decisions, but these decisions all have big consequences for her. The director completely nailed it with the overall focus and tone of the movie. It presents some morally questionable activities without being preachy or condemning. Given that the subject matter of the film is somewhat sordid, "An Education" is quite funny, with the main humour coming from Jenny's overbearing but clueless and easily manipulated father, played by Alfred Molina and David's friend's stupefyingly dim girlfriend Helen, played by Rosamund Pike. Nick Hornby's screenplay is tight and realistic and true to the period, as is Ben Smith's brilliant art direction. "An Education" is not only one of the best character-driven movies of 2009, but also the strongest British movie of the year! A gem!

  • My Rating: 8.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 94% (7.9/10)
  • IMDb: 7.7/10

Monday, January 25, 2010

[7.75/10] Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Short review: After a slew of cinematic atrocities, Guy Ritchie has finally managed to conjure up a successful formula once again and will undoubtedly keep the franchise of Holmes successfully safe in the majestically talented hands of Downey Jr. Adding a gritty tone, he's playing around with the speed of shots and some exciting action, Guy has reinvented Sherlock without losing the essentials. The plot is brilliant, with plenty of twists. It will keep you guessing, and the ending is tremendously satisfying. The script is in general impeccable, with hilarious British verbal comedy , sharp and witty dialogues and well-written, thoroughly developed and credible characters and relationships. Every acting performance is spot-on. Downey Jr. continues to illustrate his exquisite acting chops while Jude law provides a notable performance. Strong is the dark horse that captures and portrays his character unexpectedly well and almost steals the limelight. Rachel McAdams provides excellent backing performance. Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" is a visually spectacular feature! It has the perfect balance of mystery, drama and action, with a charismatic cast and a brisk pace which should entertain everyone that is willing to go along for the ride.

  • My Rating: 7.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 69% (6.1/10)
  • IMDb: 7.7/10

[7.50/10] The Blind Side (2009)

The Blind Side (2009)

"The Blind Side" is a sports story, yes this is a biopic, but it is also in large part an interpersonal drama. It is rare to see a movie these days that relies on drama to carry it. Not special effects, lush historically accurate wardrobe, or astounding make up, but just a story that resonates with the viewer. That this story is based on contemporary facts makes it all the more resonant. Events that might have been handled superficially, predictably or exploited for dramatic purposes were instead presented in a nuanced and profound manner. The actors brought plenty of life to the characters they were playing. It was a pleasure to watch Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy, making a somewhat minor character in the film memorable. Quinton Aaron's portrayal of Oher leans heavily to the strong, silent type, but there is a quiet grace and gentleness that comes through. Frankly, I've never seen Sandra Bullock like this before, because for one, she's embodied a character fully and completely, and secondly, she's not the center of attention. It's a nice change. All in all, "The Blind Side" is an emotionally satisfying drama featuring a bravura performance by Sandra Bullock as Mama Tuohy and an excellent script by director John Lee Hancock.

  • My Rating: 7.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 70% (6.2/10)
  • IMDb: 7.9/10

[4.00/10] The Stepfather (2009)

The Stepfather (2009)

"The Stepfather" is yet another movie remade and re-imagined but they couldn't really take it to far as the original did. By-the-numbers is probably the best term I would use to sum up my impression of the new 2009 "The Stepfather". It offered nothing new or different! Characters in this movie were poorly thought out and extremely static. The way many of them acted was so unrealistic that it was hard to watch at points. Amber Heard's character was undeveloped and pointless, merely a factor of eye-candy as she was in her underwear or a bikini almost throughout the entire movie. Thankfully, Dylan Walsh in the title role manages to be effective enough. As an obsessed family man who murders one wife and set of children after another and keeps moving on, ever in search of the perfect household, he is suitably intense and deranged when he needs to be. But as the latest divorced woman he chooses to shack up with, Sela Ward isn't especially memorable here, and the best that may be said for her is that she looks pretty good for a lady in her 50's. The soundtrack was riddled with horrible music choices that clashed entirely with the mood of the movie. And the plot was extremely predictable and overdone. "The Stepfather" is a definition of cliche and overall a poor remake!

  • My Rating: 4.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 11% (3.4/10)
  • IMDb: 5.2/10

Thursday, January 21, 2010

[8.25/10] Los Abrazos Rotos a.k.a. Broken Embraces (2009)

Los Abrazos Rotos


Broken Embraces (2009)

The usual Almodovar themes of love, sex and death are revisited in this film and there are some beautifully written and acted scenes around all three of these subjects. Almodovar one of the best storytellers out there with films under his belt like "Talk to Her" and "All About My Mother", has again touched on the essence of what makes us tick-including our dark sides. The film journeys between the past and the present, and interweaves diverse stories and viewpoints, to construct a fascinating drama full of twists and turns. Almodóvar's direction in this film is full of passion, and his precise work is mostly noticed on the extraordinary performances from the cast. Direcotr's fabulous muse, Penelope Cruz, is back and in full splendor. Pedro has always had a talent for exciting and fully developed female characters and here, both Ms. Cruz and Blanca Portillo are absolutely fascinating. "Los Abrazos Rotos" is absolutely powerful, both visually and emotionally. The music score by Alberto Iglesias is simply alluring. Cinematography by Mexican Rodrigo Prieto is beautiful. But the beauty of the film is basically due to the enormous talent of Señor Almodóvar.

  • My Rating: 8.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 82% (7.0/10)
  • IMDb: 7.3/10

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rewind: George Beremov's TOP 10 Favorite Movies of 2005


George Beremov's
TOP 10
Favorite Movies of 2005


1. Kung Fu Hustle (10/10)

2. Sin City (9.75/10)

3. King Kong (9.75/10)

4. V for Vendetta (9.75/10)

5. Batman Begins (9.50/10)

6. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (9.50/10)

 7. Wallace & Gromit:
The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (9.50/10)


8. Brokeback Mountain (9.25/10)

9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (9.25/10)

 10. The Chronicles of Narnia:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (9.25/10)


[5.50/10] Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Short review: Director Spike Jonze succeeds in one respect with "Where The Wild Things Are", but he fails utterly in another respect. Great production designs and costuming distinguish this avant-garde film, but an abysmal plot with narrative gaps and unsavory character like the abusive, juvenile delinquent protagonist who bites his mom on the shoulder and runs away detract from the film. The monsters in the film are marvelous, taken right from the books illustrations and very life-like. It is the direction and, especially, the cinematography, that is greatly lacking in "Where The Wild Things Are,". The film just does not have a good pace, nor good editing, and the photography is downright horrible, resulting in a movie that looks like an afterschool special on a tight budget. Faulty, also, is the decision to include some violent behavior, especially by Carol, and the overall 'dark' tone of the film. "Where The Wild Things Are" is a mediocre film, but it is a mediocre film with a lot of good stuff. Unfortunately, in this case, the bad outweighs the good.

  • My Rating: 5.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 73% (7.0/10)
  • IMDb: 7.6/10

Friday, January 15, 2010

[8.50/10] Invictus (2009)

Invictus (2009)

"Invictus", directed by Clint Eastwood, refuses to be your typical biopic, and that is where it is most charming. Rather than give you the typical play-by-play analysis of Mandella's life, like pretty much every single biopic ever made, they simply took a small slice of Mandella's long and illustrious career and put it to the big screen. Eastwood and screenwriter Anthony Peckham should be applauded for giving the audience a full summation of who Mandella is and what he's like, without doing this long and boring backstory, they just jump straight into the meat of the story and capture the audience from the very beginning. Though, this film isn't just a biopic, it's a sports film as well. Freeman absolutely disappears into his role as the iconic leader of post-Apartheid South Africa. This is an especially impressive feat for such a well known actor; it's not Morgan Freeman we're watching, it's Mandela. Damon does a good job as well. And while I'm no expert on accents, both sounded convincing to me. True this film is an inspirational one that's connected to athletics yet deep underneath it's more about the changing times of a nation lead by forgiveness and inner working of politics. The film moves along well as Eastwood paces the action field shots well as the rugby scenes are entertaining as you cheer for victory even though you know the Springboks are gonna be winners. "Invictus" is one of Clint Eastwood's best movies with an incredible performance by Morgan Freeman and a deep philosophy of life which should inspire all of us.

  • My Rating: 8.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 77% (6.7/10)
  • IMDb: 7.6/10

[4.00/10] Love Happens (2009)

Love Happens (2009)

It was pretty hard for me to enjoy movie "Love Happens", owing to its sad lack of wit, convincing pathos or engaging characters. In spite of the clear emotional resonance of the subject matter I found myself feeling utterly apathetic about any of the characters or the shallow, boring relationship formed between the two protagonists. Director Brandon Camp doesn't give the character of Eloise much substance, and seems content just to let Aniston do her usual work. He seems to have focus mainly on Burke. At first, it seems to work, but not for long. Unfortunately, the of the movie revolves around the relationship between Eckhart and Aniston's characters, that develops when Burke and Eloise bump into each others and begin to know each others. Their interest for each others is uninteresting and lacks credibility, in part because Eloise is so poorly sketched and also because, as we learn to know Burke's real issues, it just seems wrong. Martin Sheen is OK in a role which is deceitfully sold initially as one thing but turns out to be quite another. Judy Greer has a small, but entertaining role. All in all, Love does not Happen in this film. The whole movie is wrapped in a sort of romantic relationship that never happens, and played out with two actors who have little to no chemistry together.

  • My Rating: 4.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 18% (3.8/10)
  • IMDb: 5.4/10

[6.00/10] Mulan (2009)

Mulan (2009)

The story of Mulan whilst unbelievable was somehow made believable in the Disney movie, yet sadly very little attempt of believability is made for this live action movie., directed by Jingle Ma. In the space of around 20 minutes we are led to believe that Mulan was able to escape her father, enlist in the army, excel at training and win the respect of Wentai. The sequence of events is so rushed and badly framed that it truly damages the rest of the film. The battles were uninspiring and poorly-paced. Fast-motion fight scenes intended to conceal the fact that most of the actors were physical inadequate for their roles, coupled with too many slow-motion sequences of people getting impaled or killed, made for lousy, lousy battles. Thankfully the performances all round provided that lift to the film, and made it bearable. Zhao Wei is no rookie to period war dramas and her performance as Mulan is pretty decent. Chen Kun also held his own against the veteran actress, although one can feel that since this is a Mulan film then he's playing second fiddle. Unfortunately, there is no chemistry between Wei Zhao and Kun Chen to make us believe that they are truly star-struck lovers who would sacrifice life and limb for each other. Supporting roles range from Jaycee Chan to Hu Jun, who seem rather functional than to add any emotional depth to the film. Production design is top-notch and the acting is good. Otherwise, there is nothing special about "Mulan" that hasn't already been done before. Jingle Ma's version is a decent version... nothing less, nothing more.

  • My Rating: 6.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: N/A
  • IMDb: 6.5/10

Thursday, January 14, 2010

[5.25/10] Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

Law Abiding Citizen (2009)

"Law Abiding Citizen" has an intriguing premise at first glance but it quickly fizzles out as we watch a once good father become a sociopathic killing machine whose intent is to teach a corrupt lawyer and a corrupt justice system some lessons. The most disappointing aspect about it to me is that you could see the good idea in there waiting to get out, but that good idea is muddled by poor writing and direction. While the deaths are staged as thrills or shocks, they are each so heavily foreshadowed or so clichéd that it lacks any genuine excitement. What works here is Gerard Butler. He looks like he is enjoying himself as he sits back and watches his plan unfold, teaching people 'lessons'. His twisted lecture series for Foxx is a hoot and captivating. Every time he is on screen, you can't wait for what he is going to do or say next. What doesn't work is Foxx, or at least the script of his character. We know that he has acting chops, he played so well in "Ray", but there's no way he convinces me as a D.A., simply because there are just too many things someone of his intelligence would never do. There is potential in the scenario of a suspect seemingly wreaking havoc from behind the prison walls, but the explanation, when revealed, is so preposterous, and the ending, just plain stupid. "Law Abiding Citizen" is a mixed-bag!

  • My Rating: 5.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 24% (4.3/10)
  • IMDb: 7.3/10

[7.00/10] Adventureland (2009)

Adventureland (2009)

"Adventureland" is not a film that is going to wow its audiences with big laughs or A-list talent. While the movie is slow and predictable, it manages to please on many levels. It's refreshing that Hollywood is willing to release films that provide more than just trite sentiment regarding youth relationships. The script, written by Motolla, is often sharp and funny, and the characters are believable, even though most are two-dimensional. For the majority of the film, it is runs from being funny to very funny, thanks to the antics of Bill Hader and Kristin Wiig, who partially steal the show. The rest of the "Adventureland" is serious and emotional. The tightrope between comedy and drama is a difficult one to walk and many of the dramatic scenes come off as forced. The director, Motolla manages to show the awkwardness of the main character to great effect. Unlike many teen comedies, the producers let the writer, who directed "Superbad", take the helm. Motolla doesn't simply turn the camera on, but knows how to mine for laughter, and how to direct actors into giving realistic performances. From the direction to the cinematography to the editing, the film is well-made. As with all films, it is the acting that ties the whole thing together. Kristen Stewart gives the best performance, balancing humor, sadness and anxiety well, and creating the deepest character in the film. Jesse Eisenberg gives a strong performance and is successful in making the audience forget that he is acting. The rest of the cast all gives good performances that make the film feel realistic. "Adventureland" pushes us in an altogether different direction, running us through the pain, laughter, and desperation of young-adulthood.

  • My Rating: 7.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 88% (7.3/10)
  • IMDb: 7.2/10

[7.75/10] (500) Days of Summer (2009)

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Short review: "(500) Days of Summer" twists the stereotypical 'boy-meets-girl' rom-com love story formula on its head, in this case, boy meets girl who doesn't believe in love. What ensues is a far more realistic and totally un-Hollywood account of two fascinating characters unsure of what they've got themselves into. Instead of the film telling its story chronologically, the 500 days are shown non-linearly. We know right off the bat Tom and Summer's so-called friendship, since this isn't a love story, doesn't work out. Naturally, we go back to when they first met, when they became intimate, and so on. The two leads were quite charming, enthusiastic and had a wonderful chemistry. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, particularly, continues to amaze me, as he did in "Mysterious Skin". As for Zooey Deschanel as Summer, she has the cool girl next door appeal with something extra that makes her somewhat unattainable yet hard to resist or dislike. She's not bad, she's just honest and doesn't seem to believe in love. There are some interesting visual finds, but overall it's rather conventional in terms of camera work. The score and soundtrack also suit the film's quirky tone and sharp screenplay. For anyone who appreciates originality, and uniqueness, "(500) Days of Summer" is definitely a must-see.

  • My Rating: 7.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 87% (7.5/10)
  • IMDb: 8.1/10

[3.75/10] Whiteout (2009)

Whiteout (2009)

Short review: "Whiteout" begins with a clever setup and even more interesting location: the bottom of the world! However, after the arresting opening aboard a Russian transport plane in 1957, the story reveals itself to be a rather clichéd exercise in futility. A lot happens in the story, but it's all artificial, uninteresting or unbelievable. The acting throughout is competent, but the cast have little to work with. Dialogue is functional, existing to further the plot and providing essentially no characterisation, much less character development, for anyone but the lead. Kate Beckinsale's character backstory is dealt with through an increasingly repetitive sequence of CSI-ish flashbacks that mercifully end around the half-way mark and which predictably explain the heroine's icy response to her partner. This iciness ends abruptly about a scene later. "Whiteout" is a mess. The whodunnit plot is bolted, crudely, to a setting which is largely irrelevant, and is simply not told well. There are a few moments of visual splendour, but not enough to elevate the movie from the mediocrity it provides.

  • My Rating: 3.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 06% (3.4/10)
  • IMDb: 5.3/10

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

[7.00/10] The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)

The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)

Short review: "The Time Traveler's Wife"'s warm-hearted with some shades of drama and bits of recurring comedy. It's paced well and is more interested in what the time-traveling can or will do to love rather than the phenomenon itself. Here's where it gains it's strengths from - the fact that underneath all the explanations, antics, and gimmicks, it's still interested in examining feelings and emotions. That helps ground the movie and keeps it more poignant. The gorgeous Rachel McAdams, who seems to always devote herself to every character, played her role very passionately, on her part, the feelings and the romance were completely believable. Eric Bana was fine as Henry but he lacked a little something at times. Both leads are likable, and they have enough screen chemistry to be convincing as a couple. The supporting characters who are let in on the time traveler's secret are adeptly played, too. In addition to the wonderful performances of the leads, the vibrant cinematography and visual style of the film enhance the themes of life, death and eternal love.

  • My Rating: 7.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 38% (5.1/10)
  • IMDb: 7.2/10