Reviews written by registered user

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84 reviews in total 
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47 out of 55 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Historical Drama, 3 March 2010

This was an excellent historical film based on the relationship between Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) and his wife, Sofya (Helen Mirren), during Tolstoy's final years. The film also explores Tolstoy's relationship with his Assistant, Valentin (James McAvoy) and his cabal of acolytes, lead by Vladimir Chertkov (Paul Giamatti). The main tension comes between Vladimir, who wants Tolstoy to bequeath his copyrights to "The Russian People" and Sofya, who naturally would like the copyrights reserved for herself and family.

Mirren earned an Oscar nomination for Lead Actress and Plummer received one for Supporting Actor. I believe both were well earned. I liked the performance from the entire cast, particularly McAvoy as the adoring Assistant to Tolstoy. The screenplay was excellent and the Director, Michael Hoffman, did an outstanding job bringing pre-Communist Russia to life. The time period is 1910 and the cinematography beautifully captured the era. During the closing credits, actual film of Tolstoy and his Wife was run, underscoring what a great job the Director did in filming this.

A great movie and well worth seeing or renting.

7 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Great Zombie Flick, 27 February 2010

Zombie flicks are becoming far too over exposed. The film "Zombieland" had a good run making fun of this fact. The central premise of this film has been done many times already. But what makes this film better than most is the strength of the acting. Timothy Olyphant was great in the lead role. Radha Mitchell plays his wife. They are stuck in a small town in Iowa suffering the after effects of a military accident.

Is this like most other Zombie movies? Yes. But is it good and worth checking out? Absolutely. This was a very well written, acted, directed, and filmed horror flick. I had a good time watching it. I wish I could say the same for my Wife. Poor thing couldn't take it & walked out. But my daughter thought it was good.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Andrew Wyeth meets Stephen King, 23 February 2010

This was an unforgettable movie experience. I don't recall ever seeing such starkly beautiful cinematography, where every frame seemed like an Alfred Stieglitz black and white photograph. The artistic nature of this film seemed to combine the rustic simplicity of Andrew Wyeth's paintings coupled with the literature of Stephen King. The trailers seemed a bit pretentious, but the rave movie critic reviews now seem well deserved. The story itself had a slow but ominous development, where the people of a rustic pre-WWI German village are experiencing various accidents and wanton acts of vandalism. It's unclear who is at fault, and much of the storyline falls around who the culprits could be. I found the pace fit very well with the plot development. The movie really kept me on the edge of my seat. The dialogue and plot are all very good, and the camera work and photography are truly one of a kind.

Many might find the plot too slow and the characters too harsh and unlikable. Yet the character development was excellent and the screenplay seemed as though it could have been written by Thomas Mann. I hadn't seen any of the other Best Foreign Movie Oscar nominations but it wouldn't surprise me at all if this film walked off with the prize. It was outstanding.

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Best Movie of the Year, 15 February 2010

I just saw this movie for the 2nd time yesterday, and I enjoyed it even more than the first. The performances by the supporting cast were awesome, with Robert Duvall in a great role as "Bad" Blake's friend, helping him overcome his alcoholism. The other minor roles, mostly of Blake's devoted fans and fellow musicians, really made this a great movie. Of course, Jeff Bridges as "Bad" Blake was outstanding and should be the runaway favorite to win Best Actor. But he had great material and a stellar cast helping him out.

Why this movie did not make it onto the expanded list of Best Movie Oscar nominations is baffling. Was it too "Red State" for the mostly liberal movie critics that comprise the Academy? They didn't overlook Jeff Bridges or Maggie Gyllenhall for their performances (for Best Actor & Best Supporting Actress) and it rec'd a nod for Best Music. But why not Best Picture? Or Screenplay? The entire story was very well written, the cinematography was outstanding, with excellent panoramic scenes of the western US, the music scenes were all perfectly choreographed, even when "Bad" Blake was too drunk to stand, and the character development was pitch perfect. As good as Bridges was as Blake, the writing had much to do with his ability to connect with the movie goer. This was some very excellent screen writing and deserved an original screenplay nod.

A truly worthwhile movie experience and should most definitely have been nominated for Best Picture. Go see this gem.

Brüno (2009)
6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Crazy Brave or just plain Crazy?, 3 January 2010

This movie was one long gay joke. I don't see how a movie like this is even permitted to be made, given the homophobic nature of its humor and Hollywood's proudly gay leanings. The bit with his boyfriend "Diesel", the pygmy flight attendant, was perhaps the most homophobic bit of comedy ever shown in movies (and yes, it was extremely funny). Yet Bruno was probably considered politically correct because it captures some of the anti-gay bias of the "redneck" culture, but the way it does it is highly questionable. It uses homophobic based comic satire to the point that the movie itself becomes homophobic.

The stunts he pulled were so egregiously offensive, it's a minor miracle he wasn't murdered. He actually went to Beirut, Lebanon and asked the local chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade to kidnap him so he could become famous. He told the local chief: "Your king Osama looks like a dirty wizard or a homeless Santa Claus". I thought the chief was going to unsheath his scimitar and behead Bruno on the spot. He looked as though he wanted to. But man was it funny.

He also pulled a stunt at the end where he posed as "Straight Dave", a cage match professional wrestler whose schtick was being straight while fulminating against homosexuality to the screaming crowd. After a brief setup with somebody from the crowd who called him a "faggot" (his assistant) he then had simulated gay sex with his male assistant in front of the rabidly anti-gay mob (stoked into a red hot fury by "Straight Dave" a/k/a Bruno himself). People were throwing chairs into the ring, just missing Sasah Cohen's head by mere inches. He was very lucky he wasn't killed or grievously injured. Again, it was one of the funniest bits I'd ever seen.

After all of this, I believe that Baron Sasha Cohen just might be the bravest man in show business. Or maybe just the craziest.

Up in the Air (2009/I)
12 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Most Overrated Film of 2009, 3 January 2010

This was a good movie but I'm not sure why it's on top of all the movie critics top 5 lists. It seems to push all of the politically correct anti-business buttons in terms of heartless corporations mass firing downtrodden proletariats from their soul sucking jobs in the private sector while enlightening the movie viewer with the redemptive story of Ryan Bingham (Clooney) whose full time job is firing people while bedding down different women along the way. He is a "termination consultant" who is contracted by different companies to tell their employees they are fired. There are a number of scenes of him firing people with the predictable tears, violence, suicide threats, and so forth. You see, life in the private sector is really like this, day in and day out. Capitalism is exploitation, property is crime, we are all expendable components of an evil machine that ends up destroying us in the end. No wonder the left wing film critics love this movie.

Anyhow, Ryan falls in love with a fellow business traveler, Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga) whose soul is even more shriveled than his own. Ryan also develops a relationship with a newbie to his "firing" company, named Natalie (Anna Kendrick) who eventually becomes disillusioned with firing people for a living. Go figure. Ryan becomes humbled by Natalie's humanity, not to mention his own experience of being used and discarded by Alex. Thus, we are lead to believe, Ryan becomes a better person for being on the receiving end of what he is usually dishing out. This aspect of it wasn't remotely believable.

A good movie, but for my money, the most overrated of the year.

Avatar (2009)
10 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Avatar 3D - See it for the visuals, not the plot itself, 3 January 2010

Saw this in 3D Imax and highly recommend it in this medium. I am sure it is also outstanding in the standard format but the visuals ARE the movie and if you have a 3D screen within driving distance, definitely take advantage and go see it.

The plot itself is somewhat generic. It's the stereotypical military / industrial complex (i.e. – The USA) exploiting the natural resources of indigenous peoples (i.e. – Iraq) with ruthless and inhuman efficiency. The protagonist is Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who is an Army soldier who is transformed into one of the indigenous natives in order to better exploit them (ie. – steal their oil, or "unobtainium" in the film). The natives are 9 feet tall blue people who can communicate with other organic beings in their universe through their hair. If this sounds dumb, it is. But the visuals are stunning and well worth putting up with the D grade movie plot.

I don't have much else to say about his movie. Dumb plot and insipid dialog, but breathtaking technical wizardry making this an incredible experience.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Sherlock Holmes Adaptation, 3 January 2010

This was a very good adaptation of the classic detective series. While purists of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels may sniff at the liberties that Film Director Guy Ritchie took with the title character Holmes and his faithful sidekick, Dr. Watson, the movie was highly entertaining with great cinematography and a fast paced plot that didn't let up throughout and kept the viewer in suspense up until the very end. In other words, it was well worth the money and I will be looking forward to the next installment, which will feature the better known nemesis, Dr. Moriarty.

Robert Downey Jr. was excellent as Holmes. He is one of the best actors for this type of role, a flawed super hero who doesn't take himself too seriously. Jude Law was up to the task of playing Dr. Watson, and Rachel McAdams was excellent as the mystery woman who is both the object of Holmes affections and a possible adversary. The rest of the supporting cast was also first rate. Guy Ritchie deserves a lot of praise for pulling all of this together. It's nice to see him making entertaining films again.

Great movie and well worth checking out.

7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
1st Half Great, 2nd Half Incoherent, 3 January 2010

This was a good comedy for the 1st half but the 2nd half was largely laugh free and thus seemed incoherent overall. The viewer wasn't sure if this was a comedy or a drama. Some of these dramadies work (see "500 Days of Summer") but this didn't work because the ending didn't close well and the viewer wasn't sure what to make of it.

Part of the problem was Alec Baldwin was such a likable character but was written up to be a cad who we aren't supposed to feel the least bit sorry for. Steve Martin wasn't all that likable, but the way it was written he came out on top. But why? I can't see how the Producers, who focus group these things eight ways to Sunday, thought this ending was a winner.

The children were also incoherent. We are lead to believe they loved their Dad (Baldwin) but when he discloses he wants to get back with their Mom (Meryl Streep), they seem to go catatonic with grief, curling under the covers with tears in their eyes. One minute they love him and want him around all of the time and the next minute they are numb with confused feelings of disbelief. It was all a bit confusing.

In any event, it's worth seeing just to see the performances of Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep. They were both great and Baldwin's was particularly noteworthy. It might be the highpoint of his movie career.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
When Did Emily Blunt Become a Great Actress?, 23 December 2009

She was outstanding as young Victoria. Deserves an Oscar nomination, absolutely. It seems I was just watching her as a working class lumpen prole in "Sunshine Cleaning" and now she's pulling off this role. It's simply incredible. I am now a devoted fan.

The character who played Prince Albert was also outstanding. He really did an excellent job and played it perfectly I don't think your average movie goer can appreciate what an outstanding movie this is. Like it's earlier historical movie gem, "Bright Star", this film was simply mind boggling in its ability to portray life as it was back in the 1830's ("Bright Star" was a tad earlier, 1820's).

As for the rest of the film, it was first rate. The screenplay and cinematography was first rate. I am a devotee of historical dramas of this type, but it was truly an outstanding film and brought to life the relationship of Victoria and Albert. A truly great film worth checking out.

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