Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol (3.5)


The 2011 sequel by Brad Bird.

Tom Cruise. I didn't want to like you but you are great as Ethan Hunt in these films. You do the action thing well and without the Bond cockiness. Age was been kind to you too sir, keeping all in shape and stuff.

I liked how they keep the come-and-go comedy in this movie like they have in the previous films. Simon Pegg (The Adventures of Tintin) DEFINITELY helped in that. I heart that guy. He makes me laugh when he isn't even doing anything. I enjoyed him a lot in this movie.

Jeremy Renner was good next to Cruise and I thought he was suited to this roll. I have to admit that I haven't been overly impressed with him in his last couple of films. Not saying I hate him but I feel like he has sooo much to offer but the roles just aren't suiting him well enough (in my humble opinion). I'm just waiting for that next movie where he blows me away...

Everyone and their dog was telling me that this was such an amazing action movie and that I had to see it and blah blah...

I will admit, there were some cool, new ideas in this movie and there were some scenes that I highly enjoyed and made my heart beat a little faster. Still, a lot of what was happening I knew was going to happen 5 minutes before it did. Also, the whole bomb/Russians being the bad guys thing is OLD NEWS! I literally rolled my eyes when I knew that that was where the movie was heading. So, unlike the previous movies when the things they were trying to stop seemed interesting to me, this one wasn't from the start, so it had that going against it the entire time.

For an action movie it was good though. This would've been a great summer action flick me thinks, but after watching Moneyball, The Artist and War Horse it just didn't overly impress me.


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (3.5)


The 2011 Thriller/Drama by Tomas Alfredson starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy about finding a mole within M16's spies during the Cold War.

Once again, this movie was on almost every single must see movies of 2011 list that I stumbled upon and so naturally I had to check it out.

It's been a long time since I've seen a solid drama based movie about espionage and/or the Cold War. Most of the time the drama is masked by pop-bang-boom action and not so impressive performances. This movie is one of the best spy related films I have seen in years. It just focused on finding the mole and there was nothing else. Well, if there was, there was a reason for it being there and I want to explain more but I'll spoil the ending and so I wont. But yes, any extras comes together in the end.

This script is INSANE. There were so many characters and the film was fast paced and just threw information at you from every angle and you had to go along for the ride.

Gary Oldman was great as Smiley. He played the veteran spy with ease and although he was monotone and without expression for most of the movie there was a coldness to him that made me feel uneasy, like I couldn't entirely trust him or know what he would do next. Brilliant.

Tom Hardy, Colin Firth and, well, everyone in this movie were fantastic. I actually couldn't believe all the familiar faces that kept coming and coming in this movie. What a stellar cast. It must have been quite the experience to be a part of this film. Great casting.

Okay. The story was beyond fantastic and the performances were great so let me explain why this wasn't my favourite movie of 2011. I quite enjoy films that test me and make me attempt to figure out what's going on aka use my brain. This movie was too much of a puzzle to me. First, there were A LOT of characters. Not only is that hard when the film is so fast paced but they all had code names as well so most of the time I was trying to understand who people were talking about. Second, the use of cutting from past, present and future without warning confused me. It was hard to see the difference as no one looked overly different and everyone is moving around from country to country and room to room and I was tripping over myself trying to see who was dead or where they were, etc. (if I could remember their code names anyways). Finally, the lingo. They used a lot of lingo, which is great, if I knew what they were talking about. And there was no explanation as every character in the movie knew the lingo so they would nod and walk out of the room and then a new scene would start but I would've had no idea if they had decided to kill someone or if someone was caught or who even knows. Jesus, a goddamn puzzle. haha


If that long paragraph didn't explain it enough than I am a loss for words. It was a great movie but I spent more than half of it trying to understand ANYTHING that was happening and was getting really frustrated. Yes, I know that in the end that it was brilliant to put me into this spot as they were trying to also find out who was who and find the mole within their operations but ultimately it made the film less than enjoyable to me.

Now, when I watch it for the second time I'll probably love it to bits as I'll understand who people are but alas...


A Separation (4.5)


A 2011 Oscar nominee for best foreign language film by Asghar Farhadi starring Peyman Moadi, Leila Hatami and Sareh Bayat about a man and a women going through a separation but neither are willing to give up their 11 year old daughter.

I had seen this movie on a few best of 2011 movie lists and after it was nominated for an Oscar I had to check it out...

Wow. What a story. My muscles are still tense from this film. Right from the start it's a battle and it only gets worse. I really had no idea where the story was going to go but once it did I was glued to the screen. The characters, situation, cultural differences and each characters personal fears were so strong and very powerful. I think I forgot to breath for full scenes because the suspense and tension were so intense. My stomach actually hurt a bit too because I got so caught up in the story that their personal worries had become my own. Craziness.

I honestly don't know what more to say about it except that, even though I haven't seen the other nominees, I wouldn't be surprised if this won the Oscar. In fact, I'm sure it will.

If you like pure dramas this is a movie for you. I also liked how it completely took me out of my living room in Ontario and placed me in an entirely different world and didn't let me go until the credits rolled...and maybe even a few minutes after that.

Powerful film. See it.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Artist (5)


A silent film about silent films by Michel Hazanavicius starring Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo and John Goodman.

I had to think hard before I gave this a 5...I don't give a lot of films perfect ratings but I honestly cannot think of one thing I didn't like about this film so alas. 5/5. And BRAVO!

Bestill my cinema heart, I get it now. I understand why this movie is up for so many Oscars and why it was on everyone's top movies lists from 2011. This movie is brilliant, creative, funny, original, romantic, charming and all around beautiful. They thought of everything. Script, characters, music, music, music, performances, settings, actors and did I mention the sound?

The scene that really got me is when he is having a nightmare when sound effects happen but he has no voice. Ohhh man. That actually gave me chills and all it was was a glass being put down or some girls laughing. The meaning and power behind this movie surprised me in all the right ways.

I could go on and on but all I have to say is that this movie inspired me to love movies even more than I thought I could. I watch a lot of movies but after awhile it's hard to pay attention to the small details and really see a movie.

I saw this. And I'll see it again and again, and so should you.

Magnificent and magical. Thank you to everyone involved. I feel refreshed, excited and ready to watch more cinema! Bravo.

Bonus: John Goodman. Love it! Oh, and James Cromwell.


The Three Musketeers (4)


The 2011 remake by Paul W.S. Anderson.

I thought this movie was passable and was going to suck. Then I saw that Quentin Tarrantino had it on his favourite movies of 2011 and I raised my brows and wrote it down on my to watch list. I doubted him a bit for having it on there when so many other movies came out that are mention worthy...alas, I get why.

What an action/adventure film. This was even more fast paced than Tintin and more exciting than Hugo. The sword play alone is worth watching this movie. Things happen and I just dropped my jaw in awe. It was insane, the fight choreography is INSANE in this film. The vibe and pace of the movie reminded me a lot of the first Pirates of the Caribbean film.

The story was good and I will admit that there are a lot of things you need to just accept and go along with in order to really enjoy this movie. Things like...flying war ships. Ya. Not so original but once I accepted it it didn't matter.

I was happily surprised by most of the performances. I do not like Milla Jovovich and haven't since The Fifth Element so that doesn't count. Matthew Macfadyen as Athos was fantastic. Luke Evans and Christian Oliver were nice bonuses.

Logan Lerman was great as D'Artagnan. I wasn't sure at first but he handled the action really well and made for a perfect balance next to Macfadyen and the others. Orlando Bloom as the 'evil' dude made me giggle a bit.

This movie got bad reviews and it came and went quite quickly but I think people should go back and give it another chance. It's not an Oscar winning movies but it is one of the most entertaining films I have seen from 2011.


Monday, January 23, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (3.5)


The 2011 remake by David Fincher.

You always take a chance when it comes to remakes. Some are good and most are awful but some are harder to discuss.

There are many reason why I didn't like this movie, but almost all of them have to do with the fact that I love the original Swedish films starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist and I have read all the books.

There was nothing wrong with Rooney Mara as Lizbeth Salandar, her performance was a lot better than I was expecting. That being said, I found things were missing from her character this time around. Noomie Rapace is and will always be Salandar to me in physical form. Rooney seemed a little less scary, two-faced and dangerous. Her eyes did not convince me of her intelligence and her physicality did not make me uncomfortable. The whole point of this character is that her outward appearance and reactions do not dictate her thoughts...I didn't feel it. Maybe I just can't accept Rooney because of Noomi...

I was shocked by my liking Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens) as Blomkvist though. I rolled my eyes mostly towards him as this character when the remake was first mentioned. I liked him though. I didn't want to but I did.

I thought what they decided to focus on and what they decided to leave out was strange. I didn't get the same feel for the characters or get as much information as I wanted. In fact, I found the film a bit rushed, patchy and confusing at parts. I'm not sure how I would've felt if I had not known of the story before hand but the tension was as intense as it should've been.

The awful scenes and horror that was in the original is definitely left out in this film and instead they added some more sex scenes and, well, made it American. I love this story though and the characters are so interesting that I will always like these films and books.

It was still a good movie but I can't say I would tell people to see this one over the original. In fact, I still don't understand WHY it was remade at all but meh, that's what happens.

Bonus: Christopher Plummer.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Descendants (4)


2011 Alexander Payne film about a business man who tries to re-connect with his daughters after his wife goes into a coma after a boating accident.

This movie was on a few top movies of 2011 lists so I had to watch it. I have been slow on the whole George Clooney obsession thing but now I would definitely consider myself a fan so I had nothing to lose.

George Clooney's (The Ides of March, The Men Who Stare at Goats ) performance is amazing in this movie. If it has nothing else, it has that. While I have been saying that about almost every Clooney movie I've seen over the last few years that doesn't mean it was any less amazing. He made me cry. A lot. You jerk.

The story seemed less than impressive at first. The whole sick wife, aloof dad and kids acting out thing has been done. What hasn't been done is the shift to the story that is revealed near the beginning of the film and the story thickens and then boils before the credits roll.

I will admit that I found some parts boring or obvious. I called what as going to happen a bunch of times but that doesn't mean I was prepared by how each character evolves during the film and how they react to one another. That was what I really loved about this movie; the characters.

Shailene Woodley. No idea where she came from but she was awesome as Clooney's oldest daughter. There was just something about her that I liked. Wonder if she'll stick around or not...

Decent story, very interesting characters and an emotional roller coaster. This is a strangely hilarious but serious drama and Clooney shines.


She's the One (2.5)


1996 comedy/romance starring, written and directed by Edward Burns.

Ohhhh the 90s. I've been watching a lot of romcoms from the 90s over the last couple of months for some reason. They are all hard to review because the style, problems and acting in general have all changed.

Acting. The acting in this was laughable. While it wasn't meant to be a serious drama I found 75% of the scenes to just be lacking in general due to my lack of interest in any character. Mind you, Cameron Diaz did play the slutty character well. And Edward Burns is strangely attractive. Jennifer Aniston was honestly the best part about this movie and John Mahoney is always a treat as I think he is a great actor but...meh. Together they didn't work for me.

Their problems were hilarious to me. Also, they didn't make sense. I couldn't figure out why some characters were so angry with the others and why one was sorry or not. It was weird. The plot itself has been done a million times with the whole cheating and love triangle thing but the order of things confused me.

It's a 90s romcom. Basically. I didn't hate it but I wouldn't tell anyone to watch it either. It was a good sit on the couch and do nothing and forget about it kind of movie.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Secret of Kells (4)


The 2009 animation directed by Tomm Moore and Nora Twomey about the boy behind the famed Book of Kells.

This film has been on my movies to watch list for a very long time but I sort of forgot about it until I was roaming Netflix and stumbled upon it.

This was some of the most interesting and original animation I have seen in a looong time. It did a fantastic job of combining the imagination of the character with the historical essence of the story to create beautiful scenes. I completely understand why it was nominated for an Oscar.

I loved this movie. I wasn't sure at first, it seemed weird, but that was only because I hadn't seen anything quite like it before. If I were a kid though I would go bat shit for this film. I mean, I highly enjoyed it as an adult but this really is meant for the family. A little scary but nothing more intense then when I would watch the original Hobbit movie when I was very young.

The only thing I didn't like, and it is probably because as an adult I wanted more to everything, but I felt the ending sort of just ended. That's usually what happens with family fun flicks but I personally wanted a little extra to the end of the story.

History, imagination, originality and an over-all interesting story and character made for a highly entertaining and dream-like movie to watch. My only regret is not having seen it sooner.

Bonus: Brendan Gleeson.


Friday, January 13, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin (4)


This movie was such an adventure. Some of the stunts they had in this movie made me laugh and also put me in awe over what was happening on the screen. Beyond everything else this movie is one of the best adventure films from 2011.

I loved this show when I was a kid. At that time it was mostly for Snowy, his dog. They actually put a lot of character into Snowy that I was giggling over many times throughout the film.

The animation was beyond extraordinary. There were times when I thought for sure that a person or animal was real. The 3D was pretty neat as well but with animation they really had the chance to take advantage of that.

I really enjoyed the fact that even after they made it into this huge adventure that they didn't lose sight of the fact that Tintin is a journalist who is always investigating and thinking outside the box.

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as Thomson and Thomson made me so happy. Andy Serkis was amazing as Haddock (obviously), I couldn't even tell it was him. ]

With Steven Spielberg directing and Peter Jackson as a producer there was no way this movie could suck and it was a coupling that I hope we see again in the not so distant future.


Shrink (3)

2009 drama by Jonas Pate about a pothead shrink loses his wife and spirals down hill.

This film is all about Kevin Spacey (The Life of David Gale, The Men Who Stare at Goats). Kevin Spacey is the man (in case you didn't already know). I liked him in this movie and I thought he did a good job of balancing the two sides of his character.

The other characters were interesting and I liked how the script joined them all together in this mass of intertwining relationships. Yet, it didn't feel original at all to me. The characters were obvious and the "what is going to happen next" was obvious with each passing scene. That was why I ended up not being impressed by this film.

Also, at certain points, everything was just weird. Like they were trying to be different but it just confused me and shook the flow of the story.

Like I said, Kevin Spacey is awesome. There were some funny parts to this movie and I liked it over all but it didn't do much else for me.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

War Horse (4)


A boy raises a magnificent horse and they share a bond that nothing can break, not even a war.

I was in the exact frame of mind to go see this film. I wanted action but wasn't looking for shaky explosion scenes or car chases with overly loud sound effects. I wanted drama, I wanted to think and feel, and maybe cry a little.

War Horse gave me everything I wanted with a little more passion.

Let me put it this way: this movie made me and an entire audience cry over a horse. An animal. Spielberg made people legitimately care for an animal they never met before and who ultimately doesn't exist. At one point I found myself on the edge of tears, covering my mouth with my hands, with all the muscles in my body stiff with stress. I caught myself and went "Hang on, am I over reacting?". When I took a moment to look around me I noticed the 18 year old boys in front of me in the exact same pose and a line of 60+'ers in tears. Tell me this isn't a successful film.

I've never had to review a horse before. haha. He was beautiful though and they did a good job of picking the horse. It might be weird to say but while it was an amazing beast it didn't look overly special when next to another horse. That's really all I can say about that.

The kid reminded me of Ethan Hawke inWhite Fang, except far more whiny. I've heard that people are laughing at Jeremy Irvine over his performance and I sort of see why but I don't really have any thing to complain about. He was a bit whiny but I'm pretty sure that was a directorial suggestion. I liked that I hadn't seen the kids face before though, it was nice not having Channing Tatum up there looking all...Tatum.

Spielberg does war so well. I thought he did a good job of showing WWI and to be honest it was nice that it wasn't another WWII flick. I thought some of the scenes were breathtaking or horrifying or emotional for reasons that I cannot explain. The first half of this movie is not overly exciting but the rest makes up for it. Except the very ending...that was the only time I thought they were digging for emotions.

I cried. I laughed. I wondered where the story was going and then I couldn't look away. I liked it.

Bonus: Emily Watson.

Ps - I cannot wait to see this on the stage.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Moneyball (4.5)


The true story of Billy Beane, the GM for the Oakland A's, who was the first person to use computer generated analysis to draft his players.

Wow. I cannot believe how good this movie is. Everyone told me and I read so many reviews but a part of me, for whatever reason, couldn't let go that it was just some sports movie and therefore I wasn't going to like it.


And it had nothing to do with the sports (besides being about baseball). I mean, the story sounds boring but it wasn't at all. It's impossible to convince you of that until you see it but the story is so much more than baseball. It's about the General Manager who went against everything he had ever learned and everyone told him was wrong to do what was right for his team. It's about breaking the rules and changing the game (not just with baseball, but in terms of a certain way of thinking).

I found it inspiring, passionate, funny and moving. At times I found it powerful. At times I found myself forming tears over a scene about baseball. While I did play it when I was a kid and have a mother who has loved the sport her whole life, I wouldn't say I'm this huge fan. Yet, after this movie was over, I wanted nothing more than to go see a baseball game.

If that doesn't make it a successful movie than Brad Pitt (The Tree of Life, Inglorious Basterds) and Jonah Hill (Get Him to the Greek, Funny People) will convince you. I was actually blown about by Hill's performance in this movie. I enjoyed him more than Pitt yet Pitt was still fantastic. I'm not sure why but Hill's character and his part in this story was the most interesting to me. Pitt was a great lead though.

I was hoping that Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Ides of March, Pirate Radio) was going to be in the film more but it was great to see him none-the-less.

If you like sports at all see this. If you don't like sports but like a good story see this. If you aren't the biggest fan of dramatic movies or sports but like movies and want to see why this is a must see of 2011 then see this.


Hugo (3.5)


A boy loses his father and moves into the train station with his alcoholic uncle. Once he disappears it's up to Hugo to wind the clocks at the station and stay out of trouble. There he meets a girl who has something he and his father were looking for for a very long time...

The first 30 minutes of this movie was kind of boring. It was some boy running around crying about his dad and winding clocks. Then what you think the story is has nothing to do with it and the plot thickens. Then it starts getting interesting. THEN the story flips over and it's not even about the boy but about a completely different character and once it's about this character the movie is AMAZING (trying not to spoil anything).

So. A lot of the movie meant nothing to me. I sort of sat there and thought to myself "So people only put this on their best movies of 2011 lists because is's Scorsese..." and for the most part I still think that's true. The last 30 minutes or so of this movie are beautiful. The story is rich, the character that it is really all about is fantastic and passionate. It's like two different films. I liked the second one. I could do without the first.

I was disappointed because I wanted a little bit more magic and adventure and a lot less tears and wasted humour (at least I found the humour less than laughable when there was some).

It's hard though because I get why so many people liked this movie. I have to admit that I liked it too but only for Ben Kingsley (Lucky Number Sleven) and the story that the film is really all about. I didn't care for Hugo at all.

Still, interesting plot and I liked the idea behind the characters but it just didn't amaze me or seem enough like a wonderful dream for me to really enjoy it.

Bonuses: Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) and Christopher Lee.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Singles (3)

(Watch the Trailer)

A cult classic comedy/romance by Cameron Crowe from 1992 about dating in Seattle in the early 90's.

How did I miss this movie? I've seen Empire Records and Wayne's World and all the other teen hits from the 90's yet I missed this film. Now I have seen it...

I think it would've had a bigger impact on me if I was a teenager. Or still single. Or was a teenager in the 90's (hides from the glares she is probably getting).

I loved the music though (Alice in Chains is in it) and I loved the over-all 90s-ness of this film. I liked the quirky way it was filmed with the weird asides and voice overs and the characters in general. I did like the characters even though their situations were unrelatable to me but I did laugh at a couple scenes concerning what the guys and girls were thinking about how to handle a relationship. Jokes.

I found myself getting kind of bored though only because I couldn't entirely relate to any one character and this movie is all about the characters. I was entertained though and can totally see why teens went bat shit for this when it came out.

One thing I can't get over is how CREEPY Matt Dillon is. I know people probably had his face all over their bedroom walls when younger but give me Eddie Vedder over that guy any day. It's more than just long hair and fake brooding eyes. haha He made me laugh though.

I'm sure I'll like it better when I see it again.

ps- Bridget Fonda is far less impressive than Kyra Sedgwick who is a babe in this flick. Just sayin'.


Greenberg (2.5)

(Watch the Trailer)

2010 drama/comedy about a 40 year old who is fresh out of a mental hospital for having a melt down and decides to try doing nothing for awhile.

Ben Stiller used to impress me but I can't say he has caught my attention very much over the last few years except by maybe seeing a movie trailer that looks awful and deciding not to go see it.

There was something about this movie thought that interested me so I put it on the list and finally got around to seeing it.

This is a weird little movie. There is no doubt about the fact that I generally enjoy strange films, especially ones of the indie variety, but this one was a little too strange. By that I mean that I didn't really "get" it. I know that is a bit vague but I mean it. There were many times when I was just frowning and thinking "What?!" to myself. Many times.

Ben Stiller was interesting and he did a good job being who ever his character was supposed to be. At first I liked the character but then he just seemed like an asshole who was stuck being 16 and couldn't get over himself.

Greta Gerwig was a little easier to connect with but then she also goes a little too far and her character takes off in all kinds of directions and left me behind. I liked her the best though.

The movie was funny and then it was weird and then it was just strange, depressing and boring. It started off on such a good note and I was liking what I saw but then it just went down hill and never came back up.

Ya. Not a must see but if you enjoy questioning strange movies about depressed people and sick dogs then you might like it.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (3.5)

(Watch the Trailer)

The sequel to the 2009 blockbuster hit starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law.

I loved the first movie. I thought it was refreshing and might just be the best representation of Sherlock Holmes to date. If you go back and read the books Holmes is a druggie, fighting, sarcastic genius and Downey Jr. really nailed it. I absolutely loved Jude Law as Watson and I liked him more than I have in any other film.

As it goes with sequels, they are rarely as good as the original. This held true for this movie as well but that doesn't mean it was a disappointment. I think the element of surprise was gone even before this film was made (in terms of the new look to an old classic).

Robert Downey Jr. (A Skanner Darkly, Due Date) is still 100% Sherlock Holmes. He is beyond amazing as this character and his performance was nothing but amazing and hilarious. I still love how he can do the action shots but then turn around and switch completely to comedy or drama or whatever else they have him do. Love him in these films.

Jude Law (Repo Men, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) was equally as amazing in this movie than in the first. He makes me laugh but also wins my heart as Watson and he hadn't lost any of his charm and sarcasm for the second film.

I was uber pumped when Noomi Rapace came on the screen. I totally missed that she was going to be in this movie and I heart her for her absolutely flawless and stunning performance in the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films. So happy to see her in another film.

So, why did I not like this one as much as the first? The characters and performances were bang on but the story was lacking. I wasn't feeling it. I guess Lord Blackwood in the first movie seemed a better villain than Professor Moriarty and the chase was therefore less exciting for me. This time around I got a little bored now and again with the 'wild' ride to find the bad guy. I liked how they tried to add a sense of history with a mild dose of our present day problems masked by an adventure/get the villain story line. I just didn't get into it as much as I wanted to.

Still, the action scenes were good. I still love watching the slow motion fight scene thing that they do with Sherlock. The scene with them running through the forest was stunning and was easily one of my favourites of this film. Really cool concepts and shots but the story didn't rattle my brain or my excitement levels enough.

If you like the first definitely see this one, just be prepared to not get utterly blown away.

Bonus: Stephen Fry.
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