19 items from 2009
Observe and Report is best described by a line of dialogue issued by a cop who hides in a closet at a key point where mall security guard Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) is about to get some devastating news. The cop and his partner, Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) plan to take sick pleasure in Barnhardt’s failure, but he exits the closet mid-scene. “I thought this was going to be funny, but it’s actually kind of sad,” he says of the situation. Observe and Report is lined with moments of ridiculous humor, but in its approach to Barnhardt’s character takes more cues from Martin Scorsese’s dark Taxi Driver than screwball comedies like Superbad. The mix of comedy and humor could work incredibly well – thanks to Rogen’s solid performance that has the ability to make viewers laugh one second and truly care for the character the next »
- Bill Jones
When is a sports movie not a sports movie? When it's Tom Hooper's terrific The Damned United, yet another feather in actor Michael Sheen's cap and another in his expanding gallery of film roles based on real-life characters. Sheen plays Brian Clough, a British legend as a football (read: soccer) coach, all but unknown in the United States. The film, written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon), focuses on an explosive moment in Clough's storied career, when his blend of talent, vaulting ambition and hubris led to a crash-and-burn encounter that is fascinating in its audacity. The story is built around Clough's hiring in 1974 to coach Great Britain's championship team, Leeds United. He arrives as an already-controversial figure with a giant chip on his shoulder. The baggage he brings is based on his long-standing animosity toward and rivalry with Leed's storied coach, »
- Marshall Fine
From .The Piano. to .In the Cut,. writer-director Jane Campion always puts strong women characters at the center. Whether she.s a mute woman like Holly Hunter.s Oscar-winning role in .The Piano. or Meg Ryan.s writing professor in .In the Cut,. Campion.s heroines are mostly disempowered women living outside mainstream society.
In .Bright Star,. Campion.s heroine is Fanny Brawne (the breathtaking Abbie Cornish), a smart, young dressmaker who will do anything if someone tries to break her relationship with the man she loves, the great romantic poet, John Keats (Ben Whishaw).
Inspired by the acclaimed biography of Keats written by Andrew Motion, Campion focuses on the love story between Brawne and Keats. Told through the eyes of the poet.s love and inspiration, their romance inspired some of the most beautiful love letters ever written. Their correspondence would later scandalize Victorian society.
Told during the last »
Photo: Apparition Why do Fanny Brawne and John Keats love each other? They don't know and don't worry, Bright Star writer/director Jane Campion isn't interested in exploring the whys of their relationship as much as she is concerned with boring you stiff with a lifeless melodrama adapted from the private writings of Keats, his poems and Andrew Motion's biography on the poet. This is a love story beholden to exaggeration and so sappy you can't get out from underneath it. Of course, being a hit at the Cannes Film Festival and finding fans around the world already, I seem to be relatively alone in this opinion, but it's my opinion nonetheless. The film starts off perfectly fine by introducing us to Brawne, played by Abbie Cornish just as I would suspect Charlize Theron would have played the role at that age. »
- Brad Brevet
Check out the new Japanese poster for Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island thanks to kino-govno, which once again proves that everything from Japan looks a tad bit cooler (click here to see the previously released American one-sheet). You can see the full poster after the jump. Also, after the jump we have a reader submitted review of Scorsese's latest. A /Film reader, who has asked to remain anonymous, had the chance to screen an early cut of Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island. All the regular contextual disclaimers apply: The reviewer is not a professional critc, and his observations are based on a work in progress, and not a final cut. The plot rundown contains minor spoilers. Skip the red paragraph to avoid story information. With that out of the way, here is the review: I got to see a screening of Martin Scorsese's new movie "Shutter Island". So what's Shutter Island about? »
- Peter Sciretta
When Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant was released 17 years ago and slapped with the scarlet “A” of an Nc-17 rating, the film’s shock value overwhelmed any discussion of its aesthetic value. Given the extreme badness of Harvey Keitel’s out-of-control detective—and Ferrara’s eagerness to live up to his billing as the scuzzy Martin Scorsese—that’s somewhat understandable. Between a drunken three-way, a nun getting gang-raped (intercut with Jesus screaming from the cross), a virtual tutorial in how to take heroin, a notorious scene where Keitel harasses a couple of underage girls, and random incidents of »
Midlife: A Beginner’s Guide To Blur attempts to squeeze the recently revived British band onto two discs, but its music resists being converted into a coherent story. The collection hits the considerable highlights of Blur’s seven-album stretch, but those highlights often don’t sound like the work of the same band. Which is the real Blur, anyway? The clean-cut, clever, Madchester-derived followers behind catchy early-career singles like “She’s So High” and “There’s No Other Way”? The arch, Kinks-inspired observers of end-of-the century Britain—from the working class to the leisure class—found on Modern Life Is »
Chicago – If you haven’t seen HBO’s “Generation Kill” or “John Adams,” then you haven’t seen two of the best mini-series of the last several years and the absolute best of 2008. These are both pieces of amazing television, must-sees for fans of intense, adult drama and now available on Blu-Ray.
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0 The brilliance of “Generation Kill” was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that HBO produced one of the most critically-acclaimed mini-series of all time in the stunning “John Adams” in the same year. With both titles finally available on Blu-Ray, now viewers who may have seen only one of the two or not had a chance to catch up with either can see both in the format most people watch HBO in nowadays - HD.
“Band of Brothers” has long been one of the most successful DVD (and now Blu-Ray releases) on the market and anyone who »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
The world of dystopia; a place where human civilization has finally hit rock bottom or are pretty damn close to doing so. Offspring of George Orwell's 1984, the dystopian societies found in such films as Brazil, A Clockwork Orange, Blade Runner and the recent V for Vendetta are dark, dreary places of oppressive, totalitarian rule that despite their fictional origins often serve as a mirror to troubles in the real world. With the exception of Vendetta, few of the aforementioned movies exactly set the box office on fire proving yet again that even if critics rally behind it, people do not go to the movies to be reminded about how dreary the real world is or could be. This certainly was the case with Alfonso Cuaron's brilliant cautionary tale Children of Men, finally available on Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The critics and the audiences who turned out for »
A sharp-tongued obsessive as alert to his own failings as to the inequities of the world, Jarvis Cocker spares no one. With Further Complications, his second solo album following Pulp’s dissolution, he directs most of his dark wit back at himself. “This is no mouthwatering proposition,” he tells a prospective lover on “Leftovers,” a track that starts with him admitting he has a few more years behind him since his days as Britpop’s intellectual pin-up of choice. But he still sounds seductive in spite of it all, which says a lot about how good he is at what »
Director/co-screenwriter Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert) had his work cut out for him in adapting one of Noel Coward's more obscure plays. Coward continues to cast a long and glamorous shadow as American audiences currently enjoy his better known and well-loved play Blithe Spirit on Broadway (with a cast that includes Angela Lansbury, Christine Ebersole, Rupert Everett, Jayne Atkinson and Susan Louise O'Connor). Easy Virtue was originally written in 1924 when Noel Coward was 23 years old. It was later adapted into a silent film and dark thriller by Alfred Hitchcock in 1928 and now, back into a light comedy about post-wwi English mores and manners at the dawn of the modern Jazz Age by Stephan Elliott and co-writer Sheridan Jobbins. A wildly naive and »
- Penelope Andrew
Goodfellas has much to answer for. Since Martin Scorsese’s iconic, wildly influential 1990 mob drama burned itself indelibly in the minds of moviegoers and filmmakers, the film’s stylistic innovations and signature arc—lavish good times punished with a third-act drug-induced moral reckoning—have been ripped off constantly, sometimes artfully (Boogie Nights), sometimes less so. Carlos Cuaron’s otherwise terrific new comedy Rudo Y Cursi barely survives its third-act Goodfellas descent into seedy coke-and-crime drama. Reuniting the stars (Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna) and part of the creative team (writer Carlos Cuarón, making his directorial debut »
Pet Shop Boys has matured more easily than a lot of groups of its longevity (a quarter-century and counting). Ever since 1993’s Very, Neil Tennant’s lyrics have become more overtly vulnerable, and while that’s a natural progression from the archer albums that made the duo’s name, they’ve continued to keep abreast of current dance-pop conventions—see last year’s “I’m In Love With A German Film Star,” which they produced for British artist Sam Taylor-Wood for the hip Kompakt label. It’s also true that they haven’t been nearly as inspired as they »
An artist stares longingly at a blank canvas. A parent stares lovingly at their newborn child. There is a difference between these two events, though they are extremely similar. In both cases, the mind is filled with infinite potential, the incredible power of the existence of something with limitless possibilities, and because nothing has happened yet, nothing has gone wrong. The difference comes after the work begins. After the first strokes of the brush. After the formative years. After the thing has started to develop. The difference is that the artist has the ability to look at what has become of that blank canvas, and say, “This is crap.” In bringing about ‘Gangs of New York’, Martin Scorsese is no longer artist, he’s parent. He got it in his craw to make a movie that would relate this part of history, or so the ending would have us believe, »
- Marc Eastman
DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0 Chicago – They have yet to perfectly adapt the great author Philip Roth’s tone from page to screen, but Isabel Coixet’s “Elegy” comes the closest. With other modern masters like Ian McEwan (“Atonement”) and Cormac McCarthy (“No Country For Old Men”) finding a new audience through the successful adaptations of their work, maybe “Elegy” will bring fans to Roth.
With the best performance from Ben Kingsley in a long time and a turn from Penelope Cruz that deserved more consideration in the year-end awards season conversation, “Elegy” certainly deserves a look on DVD. It’s the kind of adult, mature drama that seems to be made with less frequency every year.
Elegy was released on DVD on March 17th, 2009.
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Home Video
Kingsley plays David Kepesh, a perfectionist through and through who believes that not only is life planned out but that he wrote the plan. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
Simon Pegg may be snarky, but he can also be charming. His dry wit charms his way through this tale based on the memoir by Toby Young with an all star case. It tends to run out of steam by the end, but it is fun getting there. Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) runs a failing film magazine in London. He.s trying to crash a party hosted by magazine publisher Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges). Earlier he had tried to get into a film premier by taking a pig with him and claiming it to be the star of Babe as his way in. Unfortunately, security saw through his ruse so he has to sneak into the after party to »
- Jeff Swindoll
DVD Rating: 1.0/5.0 Chicago – Considering the talent on display, “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” is jaw-droppingly, shockingly bad. If this was just another straight-to-video National Lampoon comedy, it might be easier to forgive, but how so many funny people got involved in a project so misguided will remain one of the biggest movie mysteries of 2008.
Based on the autobiographical memoir of Toby Young, “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” is about the way an egotistical, slobbish writer works his way through the celebrity scene in New York by whatever means possible.
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People was released by MGM on February 17th, 2009.
Photo credit: Fox.
Renamed Sidney Young, the great Simon Pegg plays a bumbling hero who was clearly never well-defined by the writer, director, or star. Is Sidney a jerk? If so, casting one of the most likable actors alive was probably not a good idea. »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Directors Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola have repeatedly emphasized their abhorrence of gangsterism. And they’ve had to since, no matter what price their characters end up paying, movies like Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Casino, and Coppola’s Godfather trilogy inadvertently glamorize gangster life. Which is not to diminish their greatness or claim they’re irresponsible by any means, but there’s an outlaw allure to the life that cannot be denied; it’s a little like François Truffaut’s famous statement that you can’t make a war movie without making war look like fun. Say this »
Nothing about Antony's voice sounds appealing in description. It's highly mannered, decorous, tremulous, cold, withholding, adenoidal, mercurial—something alien choked from the throats of Nina Simone and Scott Walker with a pair of frilly gloves found in the back of a cabaret dressing room. But that same voice is what makes Antony dramatic—and, on The Crying Light, absolutely devastating. Part of his power owes to the ways his manneredness can be misconstrued, which seem very much on his radar: Whenever it becomes most tempting to write off one of his trills or throaty quivers as an affectation »
19 items from 2009
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