Desperately sad to hear about Roger Ebert today. He was one of my favorite writers… period. Not just a great film critic, but a great writer. His website and blog were a daily visit for me and I have been following the man since the mid 1980′s on his TV show with Gene Siskel. A few years ago, Roger quoted / mentioned me on his website and it was one of the great moments I’d ever had. He was so intelligent and witty, insightful and empathetic. He had great taste and taught me more about film than I ever learned about anything at University. I will miss him and his daily thoughts more than I can express.Continue Reading... Post a comment (0)
This is not a “Die Hard” movie! It should be called “A Bad Day for a Generic Straight-to-Video Action Flick”. It is a drab, uninventive mess of a film. In fact, it is more reminiscent of a low budget Dolph Lundgren turd than a sequel to an action classic.
“Die Hard” – A legendary four-star action epic that will reign forever as one of the great guy-movies of all time.
“Die Hard 2: Die Harder” — A quality three-star sequel that retained most of the best elements from the original.
“Die Hard with a Vengeance” — Slots in between the first two as a three-and-a-half star effort with a great plot.
“Live Free or Die Hard” — Barely eeks out three stars despite a ludicrous sequence of events and suspect acting.
“A Good Day to Die Hard” — A one star piece of shit that has nothing in common with any film in the series.
For some reason, the film is set in Russia. For some reason, the writers felt the need to include John McClane’s son as one of the leads. For some reason, there are bad guys — They are so generic that we don’t know or care who they are or what they really want. For some reason, there seems to be an arbitrary and obligatory father/son relationship problem in the McClane family. For some reason, there are some terribly absurd action sequences that have to be endured rather than enjoyed. For some reason, the plot gets more bizarre and unbelievable as each minute passes. For some reason, this sequel was made. And for some reason, I kept watching.
I think I kept watching because I felt some loyalty to the franchise. If it weren’t called “Die Hard” and it didn’t have Bruce Willis, I would have shut it off faster than a feature length gay midget porno… and that’s pretty fast!!!
The dialogue is so corny and wretchedly delivered that you’d think it was a Saturday Night Live skit. There is nothing of note here. There is nothing good to say. In fact, I am not really sure why I am giving it a full star. Perhaps I just can’t bring myself to give this once proud action franchise the worst grade imaginable. “A Good Day to Die Hard” will have you scratching your head in disbelief at its utter lameness. This is a total dud.
Jamie Chung plays a young Korean girl who mistakenly accepts a ride from the wrong guy. She is kidnapped and driven deep into a remote American landscape of depravity and corruption. She is one of many girls held against their will in a concrete compound. They are sold off for sexual entertainment by a group of men led by a corrupt police officer. It is a world that seemingly has no escape.
Based on a true story, this film tells the story of this young girl as she learns the ins and outs of the business and slowly works her way into a position of power amongst the other girls. She manages to elevate herself above the demeaning sexual slavery — becoming part of the booking process and accounting of money. It is a cold and calculated, long-term effort to find a window for escape.
The film is well made and well acted, especially by Chung. It is a depressing movie — as is any that deals with the subject of human trafficking. However, it moves swiftly and deserves to be seen.
1. I usually love Seth MacFarlane’s comedy… but he was atrocious. Bad timing. Bad delivery. Weak jokes. Poor taste.
2. Happy with the Supporting Actor and Actress winners… Waltz and Hathaway were both superb.
3. Best dressed — Jessica Chastain, Amanda Seyfried, Charlize Theron & Jennifer Lawrence.
4. Worst dressed — Melissa McCarthy, Jane Fonda & Halle Berry.
5. General Show Impressions — Bad host. Uncomfortable audience. Too many musical numbers (as always). Too long.
6. Most Pleasant Surprises — Ang Lee winning Best Director for the amazing “Life of Pi”.
7. Most Pleasant Snub — “Lincoln” being almost completely shut out.
8. Best Actor Reaction — A foregone conclusion from the day the film was announced. Joaquin Phoenix should have won.
9. Best Actress Reaction — JLaw has decades in front of her and will have many more chances. Chastain or Riva for me.
10. Best Picture Reaction — “Argo” was the least disliked film… but it will never hold up as the best over time. “Zero” or “Pi” for me.
I love the Oscars… never missed one since the early 1980′s. However, this was one of the shoddiest and least memorable ceremonies over the past 30 years. Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler should be hired ASAP for next year. Seth Macfarlane can go back to what he does best… “Family Guy”. He does not fit well with the Academy Awards.
The show needs to stop with the old-school musical numbers — very few people like them. They also need to squish the least cared about categories (The 3 Short Film Awards, The Special Effects, The 2 Sound Awards etc) into a quick five minute highlight package. No one ever wants to hear an unknown schmo thank his lawyers and agents and wave hello to his sleeping kids.
Winners should only be allowed to thank people who we have heard of. Anyone else can be thanked backstage in the press tent. Do all that and the awkward “play-them-off” music wouldn’t ever be necessary.
Overall, the Oscars needs to stop trying to be GRAND all the time. Embrace the more relaxed atmosphere that suits the modern world! It still plays a little too much like a 1960′s variety show. Modernize! Adapt! BE FUCKING COOL FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!!!
The Oscars are inherently grand… they don’t need to try so hard to prove it.Continue Reading... Post a comment (2)
This movie gets the benefit of a lofty subject. It also fits the profile of what should be a great film. Spielberg directs. Daniel Day Lewis acts. The supporting cast is a who’s who of Hollywood. It is like a paint-by-numbers manifesto on how to get double-digit Oscar nominations. However, under closer inspection, “Lincoln” is a flat and pedantic retelling of what was a momentous time in American history.
We are witness to the last few months of President Lincoln’s life, as he pushes through the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery, and tries to end the war. That process involves dozens of congressional debates, war room conferences, private conversations and solemn speeches. In fact, this movie feels far more like a low budget play than a high-dollar Hollywood production. I felt like I was watching a “behind the scenes” political documentary on the history channel.
There is nothing fundamentally bad about “Lincoln”… But there is nothing fundamentally absorbing about it either. It is a colossal bore, delivering no insight or information that is not already common knowledge. Essentially, the viewer is forced to endure two and a half hours of dry dialogue delivered by crusty old white men.
Spielberg brings very little to the table here. There are no directorial flourishes… Not a single “wow” moment or shot. It is, by far, his dullest effort in his forty magnificent years behind the camera.
Daniel Day Lewis does a good job as Lincoln — but I fear his acting reputation has been coupled with the admiration for the historic President to generate overly lavish praise. It is a very nice performance, but very far from being the best of 2012.
Tommy Lee Jones has also been getting a lot of nominations in the supporting actor category all throughout the awards season. I fail to see why. He is a sour-faced mope who hasn’t ever been on my Christmas list. In fact, I think he always delivers the standard Tommy Lee Jones character whether or not he wears period piece clothing.
The supporting cast is a distraction too. They made a massive error casting so many famous faces here. Every time one of them shows up, the viewer is taken right out of the film, asking themselves who it is and where they know them from.
Listen, “Lincoln” is made with care and it has some good qualities which I don’t have the inclination to detail. However, I was bored after 30 minutes and it never recaptured my interest. I watched it at arm’s length and ho-hummed my way to the final credits. The famous President is a fascinating historical figure, but you wouldn’t know it based on this film.
The end of life is usually so very anticlimactic. It can be a dull, monotonous trudge toward the inevitable. It is often consumed by medicine, paperwork, sleep, mumbling gibberish, pain, loneliness, boredom… etc. We are embarrassingly helpless during the final months, weeks and days — and we can only hope that we have someone, who loves us very much, that will help us fade away with as little discomfort as possible. That is the story told in “Amour” — an intimate masterpiece that ought to be seen by everyone and won’t be forgotten by anyone.
Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) has a minor stroke, beginning the spiral that will eventually end her long life. Her husband, Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant), promises her that he won’t take her to a home or a hospital. Instead, he takes care of Anne himself… Washing her, feeding her. For the first few weeks or months (the film is unclear about the timeline), it seems manageable. But she soon becomes too much for an elderly man to care for without some assistance. A nurse comes three times a week.
Anne is losing her memory. Her mobility is a thing of the past. Her mind is soon unrecognizable. It is a heartbreaking and sad process that ages Georges quickly. He is fiercely determined to care for his beloved life partner. It is clear that they have shared a lifetime of experiences that no one else will ever be privy to. They are “together” in every sense of the word. His love for her is unquestioned and immense.
Riva and Trintignant are quite simply astonishing in this film. Riva seems to be getting all the acting plaudits and awards this year, but that is imbalanced. I chose the above still image of “Amour” because it is the reverse angle of the iconic poster photo that everyone will be familiar with by now. Trintignant is equally as mesmerizing here. This is a couple. This is a dual performance unlike any you will have seen this year. Both of them are award worthy and their efforts will not soon be forgotten. A huge reason why this film is a masterpiece is the work they deliver on screen. The always superb Isabelle Huppert is also noteworthy as the elderly couple’s daughter.
Michael Haneke is an unsympathetic director. He and his work are hard to love because the emotions are cold. He is very careful to avoid any manipulation of sentiment. His films are very matter-of-fact… Sometimes to a fault. However, in “Amour”, that technique works with astonishing power. We observe the intimate moments of this tender couple in their most private of times. We are spared nothing — the camera lingering for what seems like eternity on the most gentle of scenes. Haneke’s lack of camera movement is reminiscent of the great Japanese director, Yasujirō Ozu. We are just a fly on the wall… and nothing is hidden from us.
“Amour” is not a film that many will ever revisit. It is emotionally draining. It may be a scenario that we will have to endure toward the end of our own lives. However, it reminds us that love is the only true key to happiness. Some will endure that end with no one to love them — and that is truly tragic. At least Anne has Georges to hold her hand when she hurts. At least Anne has Georges to feed her gently. At least Anne has Georges to cut her flowers.
Hushpuppy is a five year old girl surrounded by uneducated, unwashed, alcoholic human trash. Her father is an abusive, lowlife piece of scum, who has neither the inclination nor the wherewithal to help her rise above. She is the only character in this godforsaken part of the world with any redeeming qualities. However, we fear that she will become one of them, unless a miracle intervenes and carries her away from the squalor.
Quvenzhané Wallis plays the lead, narrating her own story poetically, as if she were in a Terrence Malick film. It is a remarkable performance that has been coaxed out of the six year old actress. Most of the credit for that performances has to go to the director, Benh Zeitlin. Clearly, a kid that young isn’t “acting” in the normal sense. The director almost has to trick the emotions out of her. It is a manipulation of sorts. But it works and it is one of the best performances of any pre-teen in recent cinema history.
We follow the narrative as Hushpuppy’s father is dying from years of self abuse. She ventures on a journey to find her long-gone mother. She busies herself exploring the poverty stricken world around her. Through trial and major error, she fends for herself when it comes to finding food and attempting to cook it. It is a horrific existence that clings onto any thread of hope she can imagine.
The problem with “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is that the director seems to want viewers to recognize this community as a pure one, uncorrupted by the evil outside civilization. It wistfully portrays this “bathtub” of poverty as something to hold on to and treasure in some way. Hushpuppy’s journey home near the end of the movie is greeted as some sort of noble decision — when in fact, it is the only one she understands and it happens to be the worst possible one she could make.
I recognize that this film is metaphorically complex. There are many interpretations to be had here. It can be seen as a story of fierce determination and hope for the future. It can be seen as a celebration of loyalty and love of home and family. But I read it as a tragedy of irreparable damage done to a young soul… a soul that had potential until a community, which time and civilization forgot, crushed her and rendered her doomed to follow the same path. It is a cycle of despair that is impossible to break.
I hope for Hushpuppy, but I fear it won’t help.
Directed by Robert Redford, “The Company You Keep” seems like it is going to be an absorbing thriller. The huge cast is very impressive and the plot looks quite promising.
However, it is really disappointing to see Shia LaBeouf included. He is a talentless tool who should stick to crap like “Transformers” movies. I have disliked the guy since his “Project Greenlight” disaster, which showed him to be an arrogant jerk. It’s going to take about a decade of good work to turn his image around. He is now, where Ben Affleck was about a decade ago. Affleck’s second act has turned out well. Perhaps Shia TheBeef can take some lessons from that.
The film opens on April 5th and stars Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Brendan Gleeson, Stanley Tucci, Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins, Chris Cooper, Brit Marling, Julie Christie and Sam Elliott.Continue Reading... Post a comment (0)
Milfs Mothers” looks like a great vehicle for Naomi Watts and Robin Wright Penn, two of the best actresses in movies today. Early buzz is good on this film. It just has to avoid becoming a “Lifetime TV Network” melodrama.
Having already played at the Sundance Film Festival in January, it will become widely available later in 2013.Continue Reading... Post a comment (0)
As we are all aware, there are only three types of people worse than a cappella groups — nazis, al qaeda and the westboro baptist freaks. Nothing gets people as angry as a bunch of dorks harmonizing American Idol or X-Factor karaoke songs with huge grins plastered across their smug fucking faces! It is quite literally worse torture than being waterboarded with corked wine. So, I have to give “Pitch Perfect” some credit for not making me want to carve my soul into bite-sized chunks with a rusty spoon.
The relentlessly adorable Anna Kendrick plays the lead who tries out, against her will, for a collegiate a cappella group fronted by an unimaginative and very strict girl who takes an immediate dislike to her. Their routines are boring and they always lose to the Treble Makers, their all-male rivals on campus. The film follows the formulaic path through qualifications, regionals and the National Championship.
There are a few things worth mentioning about “Pitch Perfect”. Many of the gags work well. The tone and pace of the film make it an easy watch. Many of the girls are insanely hot. Some of the characters are memorable. And Anna Kendrick’s performance is really nice. She carries the movie.
Unfortunately, there are easily as many bad things to note. Many of the gags are killed with repetitiveness. It stumbles from time to time with cheap, crass vomit humor — a low-brow level of comedy that feels out of place here. Cliches arrive thick and fast. The “Glee” error of overtly including a token black girl, a token lesbian (2 for 1 in this case), a token Asian girl, a predictable stick in the mud “bad girl” etc. It all feels very forced and by-the-numbers. The sidebar romance is also utterly unnecessary and not remotely believable. There is no chemistry and the guy might as well be played by dryer lint, as he has no personality whatsoever.
“Pitch Perfect” makes the typical and egregious error of trying to combine wacky comedy with heartfelt emotions. They do not go well together… and yet, many modern comedies try to mix them. I do not want to see goofy humor followed by serious speeches about why parents get divorced or why certain characters are so guarded that they won’t allow love in their lives. It is tantamount to having a water balloon fight at the end of “Schindler’s List”.
This movie works best when it is lampooning the cheesy world of group karaoke, delivering silly characters and dumb jokes. It works worst when it tries to make us care. All in all, it is a very mixed bag that just falls short of a passing grade, but manages to remain ever so slightly watchable despite the horrid music.