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Sunday, February 24, 2013

[7.25/10] The Sapphires (2012)

QuickRating: It's no "Dreamgirls", but "The Sapphires" is an engaging and uplifting based-on-a-true-story Aussie musical, mashed-up with a touch of romance, drama and even action bits, that has a cutting-edge wittiness, strong characterization, and even stronger performances, and stylish retro vibe about it, that makes it as visually appealing, as it's entertaining. Not to mention the singing is beyond impressive, and the musical numbers are a joy to watch, and, of course, listen.

[7.00/10] Mental (2012)

Mental (2012)

QuickRating: With its peculiar story, colorful characters, sharp script, vivid cinematography and vibrant visuals, this unique Aussie dramedy, "Mental", lives up to its title, and proves to be mental, indeed, but in the best possible sense of the world. Every single one of the youngsters involved do an absolutely brilliant job in their difficult roles, but it's Toni Collette that makes it as special as it is, and takes the delightful quirkiness of the film to a whole new level.

[6.25/10] Wish You Were Here (2012)

Wish You Were Here (2012)

QuickRating: Although hardly memorable or particularly original, this Aussie mystery thriller has an authentic sense of realism, that makes the whole story a lot more believable, plus, its intriguing plot full of twists and turns will keep you wondering throughout the entire running time, as well as entertain you, thanks to the truly wonderful performances by Australian stars Felicity Price and Joel Edgerton.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

[6.00/10] The Campaign (2012)

The Campaign (2012)

QuickRating: It has a pretty weak start, it's silly, crude, clumsy and raunchy to the point of being vulgar, and both Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis' characters are total douches, but "The Campaign" is actually s funny, at times so funny, it's absolutely hysterical, plus, it has an emotional side nobody's actually expecting, which side turns it from an over-the-top political comedy to a feel-good story that will melt your hearts as well as make you laugh out loud. Real hard.

[6.00/10] For a Good Time, Call (2012)

QuickRating: Sure, the constant indoor environment hardly works in the movie's favor, and makes it look  a bit too cheap, and honestly said, Jamie Travis' direction is nothing to write home about, but that doesn't change the fact that "For a Good Time, Call" is sexy, seductive and shamelessly lascivious and dirty comedy, filled with many hilarious moments, as lots of joyous ones, that is further elevated by Graynor's sweet, lively performance.

[4.50/10] Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

QuickRating: The oddball romance between the two protagonists has its charm, and the whole idea of finding someone to share the last ours of the world is intriguing enough in itself, but its the complete lack of genuine chemistry between the two leads, monotonous, at times moody narrative, and unappealing settings that bring the film down, and make the overall experience rather dull, and the movie instantly forgettable and deeply unsatisfying.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

[5.50/10] Would You Rather (2013)

Brief review: Debuted at last Fall's 'ScreamFest', but actually released this February, "Would You Rather" is a torture-esque horror thriller in the same vein as "Saw" films, but not as gruesome, and definitely not as pointless. "Would You Rather" actually wears the title of the nasty game the characters in the film are forced to complete in. It's a 'nasty' game, because in order to win it, they need to either hurt themselves, or one of the other strangers they've been trapped with. The fact that this tough dilemma affects not just the characters, but the viewers as well, makes the whole experience somewhat effective. On the other hand, you may find it hard to feel sympathy for most of the characters, since those are unlikable, and downright obnoxious. Thankfully, that can't be said for the protagonist, Iris, played wonderfully by Brittany Snow, whose character's charm, expressiveness and fragility will win you over. She basically saves the film from being poor. While far from terrifying, "Would You Rather" is certainly disturbing, and makes you wonder if rich people are actually capable of doing horrible things like this just for fun. "Hostel", anyone? Some of the torture scenes are difficult to watch and hard to sit through really, but at the same time not in-your-face graphic or gory. Since most of the movie takes place in a posh dining room, this pretty limited setting becomes a bit tiresome at some point, but the director compensates that with a grim, and shocking twist ending, that works perfectly fine.

Overall summary: The majority of the performances are questionable, and the sub-par execution leaves a lot to be desired, but "Would You Rather" is still a fairly original take on 'torture porn', with some truly nasty tricks up its sleeve, that will keep you entertained for 93 min.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

[8.25/10] Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Brief review: Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow succeeds yet again with another bold and daring project for the manhunt of enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden, based on actual events. Bigelow lets us witness the near decade operation, revealing interesting details and hidden facts, making the experience not only gripping, but informative as well. The films also benefits from Kathryn Bigelow's incredible ability to keep things as realistic, and plausible as possible. There's nothing exaggerated, or Hollywood-ish about this movie, even when the action kicks in. The whole thing is stripped down to the bone, but that only helps to Bigelow for maintaining the intensity level, even when the film is slow and talky. The last 30 minutes are so thrilling, you may find yourself on the edge of your seat, but unfortunately the climax, namely the killing of Osama is nothing special really, hence, it may leave you slightly unsatisfied. Featuring lots of hand-held, camera work, intentionally simplistic cinematography, and washed-out colors, "Zero Dark Thirty" has a slightly documentary-ish feel about it that works to its advantage, plus, there's a certain grittiness to Kathryn Bigelow's shooting style, that adds further realism to the story. The film wouldn't be as great without Jessica Chastain's award-worthy performance as the workaholic CIA officer, Maya, whose angelesque femininity contrasts beautifully with her self-confidence and often intense personality, and the rest of the cast all do a brilliant job as well.

Overall summary: It drags a bit in the first half, and the slaying of bin Laden could have been  way more dramatic, but nonetheless "Zero Dark Thirty" is a smartly-scripted, superbly-made, and truly engrossing piece of cinema, jam-packed with sheer, nearly obsessive intensity.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

[5.25/10] The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013)

Brief review: Claiming it's based on a true story, which somewhat hard to believe, "The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" is some sort of sequel to "The Haunting in Connecticut" from 2009, or more like a sister film, to be exact, as it has nothing to do with the original story-wise or otherwise. Let's face it, the first movie was cheesy, yet entertaining, and the case with this one is pretty much the same. Unlike the original though, this one doesn't spend any time in building suspense properly, as it starts off straight away with the cheap scares, and the stupid ghost visions. The whole "I see things" premise is so familiar, it hurts, and the plot is basically 'been there, done that', at least the first half of it - there's nothing particularly exciting about it, let alone scary. Thankfully though, this sequel proves to have some tricks up its sleeve, as the second half is stronger, much more thrilling, and at times even frightening, mainly due to the appearance of The Station Master, who looks pretty creepy, indeed. Visually, "Ghosts of Georgia" looks much more polished than your average straight-to-DVD/VOD affair. The cinematography is rich in color and tone, and the camera work is decently diverse. The movie also delivers acting-wise, thanks to some very credible performances. Abigail Spencer and Morgana Shaw both do a solid job as the two sisters, the adorable Emily Alyn Lind is mostly fantastic as the little ghost whisperer, Heidi, and the hunky Chad Michael Murray is the only weak link.

Overall summary: It doesn't look bad at all, and the performances are adequate to say the least, but "The Haunting in Connecticut 2:Ghosts of Georgia" is every bit as generic and unoriginal as its silly title suggests, plus, in spite of a thrilling final act, it fails to avoid the cliches.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

[5.00/10] The ABCs of Death (2013)

Brief review: Shown at a numerous festivals last year, but officially set to be released in 2013, "The ABCs of Death" is a horror anthology, that consists of 26 shorts, each helmed by a different director, each of whom assigned a letter of the alphabet. "Apocalypse" is over-the-top gory fun. "Bigfoot" ain't about Bigfoot, and doesn't work. "Cycle" is confusing, but cool and well-conceived. Stylishly-shot in slow-mo, "Dogfight" is a man vs. dog fight, you have never seen before. "Exterminate" is badly-acted, and plain dumb. "Fart" stinks... literally. "Gravity" is overly short, and way too simple. "Hyrdo-Electric Diffusion" is Nazi torture fun, it's as simple as that. "Ingrown" is well-shot, intense, and one of the best segments, along with "Dogfight". "Jidai-geki" is a joke. "Klutz" is animation about crap, but it ain't crap at all. "Libido" is nasty and sick, yet genius. "Miscarriage" is uninteresting and simply unnecessary. "Nuptials" is hilarious, while the following "Orgasm" is artistically-shot, yet ultimately boring. "Pressure" is well-made and lives up to its title. "Quack" tries hard to be original, but falls short instead. "Removed" is gore-fueled, and nicely-executed. The best thing about "Speed" is that it ends quickly. The animated "Toilet" is superbly-crafted, gory, and somewhat shocking. "Unearthed" is pointless piece of sh*t. "Vagitus" is refreshing, but looks cheap. "WTF" is WTF, indeed. "XXL" is sheer brilliance. "Youngbuck" is sick, bloody, and stupid, and the closing "Zetsumetsu" is just a crazy Asian softcore porn.

Overall summary: Conceptually-genius, yet overambitious, "The ABCs of Death" has some strong and memorable segments, as well as some terrible ones, hence the end result is a mixed bag of utter lunacy, twisted imagination, ludicrousness, lots of gore and very few scares.