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anitram 11-03-2007 08:47 PM

Spider-Man 3. 4/10.

It sucked. The end.

If you want a longer review....it was pure fluff. Dunst can't act her way out of a wet paper bag, but this is nothing new. I haven't loved the other two either but they weren't this bad.

Lancemc 11-03-2007 10:37 PM

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead - 9/10

At 83 years old, Sidney Lumet has just crafted another cinematic masterpiece. It's nothing we haven't seen before, but it's something we rarely see done quite this well. Devil revolves around two brother (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke) who plan to rob their parents' jewelery store to ease their financial woes. Obviously, things don't wuite work out according to plan.

What impressed me most about this film, other than the Oscar-worthy performances across the board, was how Lumet placed considerably, sincerely real people, family people, under the typical circumstance of the crime drama we're so familiar with. It's fare to find such vulnerable, sad, and real characters in situations as otherwise ridiculous as those found in the film. Or maybe it's just because of how sincere these characters are that makes the situations seem ridiculous. Either way, there's no escaping the casts' phenominal performances.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is possibly America's finest living actor, and he's in top form here. I wouldn't be too surprised to see him garner an Oscar nom here, despite the already stiff competition for the shortlist. Hawke and Albert Finney also turn in fantastic performances, but the real treat here is the always-phenominal Marisa Tomei. It seems as though she's topless in half the scenes she's in, which might be the case, but either way, she still proves she's got the chops to play opposite of The Big Man Hoffman.

The plot here is at first deceptively familiar. Lumet plays with chronology, directing a high frequency of key events, though we never see them from quite the same perspective each time. This now industry-standard for the genre isn't gimmicky under Lumet's control, and it painstakingly builds the tension to a near-absurd breaking point.

Having seen American Gangster just the night before, I relished in the depth and personality of these characters. It's a character-piece, that's not mistaken. It's a painful exposition of a broken family, and the crime itself merely serves as a catalyst for the release of tension these people have been buckling under their entire lives.

Please, if you have the opportunity, go see this film though. It's currently my second favorite of the year so far, and might even be able to assume the top position if I were able to see both this and Eastern Promises a second time, but I can't promise anything.

Lancemc 11-03-2007 10:38 PM

I also saw Anton Corbjin's Control tonight which was absolutely beautiful, and remarkably heartbreaking and depressing.

I won't review it formal tonight, because it still needs to digest a bit. It's been a while since I've left a film in such a morose mood, but that's what Curtis' story will do to you.

Lancemc 11-04-2007 02:03 AM

After long and considerable pondering, I've decided that Before The Devil Knows You're Dead is my #1 of the year.

Go see it.


lazarus 11-04-2007 12:37 PM


Originally posted by Lancemc
After long and considerable pondering, I've decided that Before The Devil Knows You're Dead is my #1 of the year.

The Russian mafia will NOT be pleased.

Lancemc 11-04-2007 12:39 PM


Originally posted by lazarus

The Russian mafia will NOT be pleased.

I will fight them all


anitram 11-04-2007 12:48 PM

A Mighty Heart. 8/10.

I'm usually not a fan of movies which are true stories of a very recent event. It's too fresh in my mind and sometimes I think having time elapse allows for some clarity. That said, I really did enjoy the movie. Thought Angelina Jolie did a fine job. If you've seen Mariane Pearl in interviews, she's a very calm, serene sort of person (not surprising given the branch of Buddhism she practises), and that came across very well in the movie. The sights and sounds of Karachi were good too, even if the film was made in India. There was a nice authenticity about it regardless.

monkeyskin 11-05-2007 05:21 PM

The Shining
This was my Hallowe’en movie of the year along with Freaks, but I’m not sure I’ve completely digested that one yet. Anyway, this is probably the film that scares me more than any other I’ve seen. I remember the first couple of times I saw it the lights were out and I could barely look when Danny encounters the two girls on his trike. Now that I know what’s coming the scare scenes don’t get to me as much, but it’s the constant tension and Jack’s breakdown that still freak me out. I was still getting the chills when I was just expecting the two girls to make a sudden appearance, or when Danny was outside room 237. And then of course there’s Big Jack’s performance. Get past that devilish grin and unhinged act he usually turns out and there’s a real sense of menace and terror in what this man is going through and what he might do.

The use of steadicam is also well known and as I’ve mentioned before I’m a huge fan of long takes. Here though, rather than let the viewer feel as though they are there in the scene, it gives a sense that we’re looking through someone’s POV, stalking the actors. I think it’s because the camera feels like it’s gliding and can be very stop-start, it just doesn’t feel right.

Talk To Her
A film by Pedro Almodovar, and out of the three of his I’ve seen now I’d rank it above All About My Mother but below the magnificent Volver (how that never got a Best Foreign Oscar nod I’ll never know). This one focuses on male protagonists but like the other two mentioned it starts off as fairly intimate and reflective between a small group of people before leaping off into an unexpected direction.

Told through a good deal of flashbacks, this is at heart two love stories but neither of which are particularly happy. Indeed, while one is broken by adultery the other is… I think unrequited is the best description. There is a lot of love in the film, a great deal of lust, passion and longing, but given that it’s a surprisingly cold and unromantic one. But before I make this sound too depressing I should mention that visually it’s absolutely stunning. Almodovar has struck me as a director with flair and who likes to show it off whenever he feels he can get away with it. Locations and scenery are lush and beautiful and the Spanish buildings add an air of the exotic. But the main talking point, visually, is the five minute silent film he slips into the middle, just when the plot tilts. You’ll have to see it to appreciate it, but amazingly it works. Just like the rest of the film.

Saw this before Eastern Promises (review in that thread) and like that film I was a bit torn in my reaction. On the one hand it raises many issues and for the most part they are brought up by a capable, starry cast. But it never really seems to deliver any convincing answers and winds up almost exactly where we expect it to. I saw almost because there’s a completely unnecessary narrative twist that only succeeded in making me lose concentration for a few moments as I tried to piece together what had just happened. Smart for the sake of being smart if you ask me.

Structurally it’s similar to Syriana, Traffic and all those other multi-strand dramas with a social conscience. As a result no one is given the opportunity to hog the limelight and unfortunately only one character ever earned my interest and sympathies (the Egyptian-American placed under rendition leaving wife Reese Witherspoon frantic at home). In fact, some didn’t even seem to be trying to gain my interest (Jake ‘sleep walking’ Gyllenhaal I’m looking at you). But overall it’s a decent enough thriller that means well and worth a look. There’s far worse on at the moment.

Wings of Desire
I’m guessing I’m not the only one familiar with Wim Wenders video for U2’s Stay (Faraway, So Close!). That video was essentially a condensed version of this classic German film about two angels watching over a divided Berlin, but never able to interfere. They can hear people’s thoughts and comfort those in need, but sometimes that isn’t enough for either party. One of our two angels, Damiel (Bruno Ganz, absolutely electrifying in The Downfall by the way) decides after a chance encounter with Columbo that he wants to become human. Sure he’s sentencing himself to a mortal life full of pain and difficulties, but he is also finally able to experience the simple pleasures that have so far been unattainable for him, like warming his hands around a hot cup of coffee on a cold day. And of course, acknowledgement and reciprocated love.

The plot is actually quite thin, but that’s not the point. Watching these two angels move between the citizens of Berlin, flicking between thoughts like radio stations and watching everything from far above the city is oddly soothing. I’ll admit it took me a while to adapt to the unhurried pace but hey, I was pretty tired at the time. But the gorgeous cinematography and sheer joy of the second half is enough to keep anyone transfixed.

At the very least it’s worth checking out just to spot the parts reused in the Stay video.

corianderstem 11-05-2007 11:27 PM

The Ex


I didn't think it could possibly be as bad as the reviews made it out to be.

I was wrong.

What a painfully unfunny movie. Why, Jason Bateman ... whyyyy???

Lancemc 11-05-2007 11:29 PM

I love how everyone always cries when Jason Bateman appears in a shitty role in a shitty film.

The man's virtually worthless outside of Arrested Development. I'd call AD a lucky fluke if anything.

LMP 11-05-2007 11:31 PM

He's pretty funny in Dodgeball, but you're generally right. I do think he'll be good in Juno.

corianderstem 11-05-2007 11:32 PM

Because I want to like Jason Bateman - is that so wrong?

He's in Juno, which is getting some really good buzz. So there. :wink:

And hey, the best thing about the movie? It was only 77 minutes.

lazarus 11-05-2007 11:47 PM

How does one keep up with your brilliant capsule reviews, monkeyskin?

Regarding Talk to Her, I loved the film, but I'd rank recent Almodovar as such:

Bad Education > Volver > All About My Mother > Talk to Her.

They're all fantastic films, though, so that ranking isn't meant to slight any of them. Don't know if you've seen Bad Education but it focuses on the men even more than TTH does. It's also stylistically much more striking than his other films. He's considered such a great writer and director of actors that it's easy to forget how great of a visualist the man is. Not with that film, which has a great Hitchcock feel to it.

I've only seen one other Almodovar film besides those, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. I feel like I need to go back and check out some of those earlier films to consider myself a real fan.

Lancemc 11-05-2007 11:59 PM

Short reviews tonight, because my brain hurts:

Ran - 10/10
Let me just say that I love watching perfect movies for the first time. I don't think there's a more satisfying experience to be had staring at a screen than watching a director at arguably the peak of his career (yeah yeah, choosing a peak for Kurosawa is impossible, but I'm generalizing now) churn out an absolutely masterful piece of cinema. Ran's a true masterpiece, and that's really the only criteria for me scoring a film 10/10, so there it is.

Color Me Krubick - 7/10
This was a bizarre little film I picked up at Hollywood Video for 3 bucks. It's really only worth seeing because of Malcovich's highly entertaining performance, and the several references to Kubrick's more famous works. The film only half-succeeds at studying celebrity-worship and the quirks of show-business and fails entirely as a character study. Even still, it's worth the 3 bucks and 80-some minutes I spend on the film.

Days of Being Wild - 9/10
It's official. I'm in love with Wong Kar-Wai. I've only seen two of his films, but they've both gotten under my skin in ways no films have ever quite managed before. They aren't necessarily the MOST powerful ones I've seen, but I haven't seen anything remotely the same as them either. This one in particular is clearly an earlier work, but his command over the medium is dumb-founding, and was a clear leader of setting mood through style in film during the 90's. The Tarantino comparison is one far too easy to draw, as both artists were influenced by one another's work to an extent, Tarantino moreso by WKW, but the T man can't even begin to grasp WKW's insight into the human emotion or his inherent aptitude for translating it to celluloid.

In The Mood for Love is waiting on my shelf for me to watch it now, which I will then follow with a repeat viewing of 2046, which I'm absolutely dying to see again now. As for the rest of his catalogue, I'm currently eying the DVD box set on amazon which included his first 6 films minus Ashes of Time. If I can possibly find a way to afford that soon I will be mine, or I wait until the holidays are over. Either way it's no more than 2 months away from me, and I'm already hungry for it.

lazarus 11-06-2007 12:20 AM

I love your WK-W love.

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