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84 reviews in total 
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135 out of 219 people found the following review useful:
Bullock's Masterpiece, 27 November 2009

I don't think I've seen a Bullock movie since "Speed" that didn't leave me watching my cell phone for the time. Her movies have been pretty awful and worth skipping. Not this one. The story received a lot of press and one has to give her much credit for snapping up the rights to it. She also did a fabulous job as the heroine. I was simply amazed. It was really one of the most amazing career rehabilitations since Travolta in "Pulp Fiction".

I loved the story. It is a genuinely heartwarming tale of an abandoned teenager adopted by a wealthy family and guided to success. And it's all true. This is what make me love movies. What a great film! Go see this movie. I loved it and so will you.

The Road (2009/I)
160 out of 233 people found the following review useful:
Outstanding Adaptation, 25 November 2009

I read Cormac McCarthy's novel a few years ago & figured it would be made into a movie (this was when "No Country for Old Men" was playing) but I wondered how they could make this extremely grim tale into something that people would want to see.

This film was every bit as grim as the novel and it seemed to be a faithful adaptation of it. The characters seemed more believable in the film than in the novel. This is probably due to the medium but Viggio Mortenson did a fabulous job as the Protagonist (the unnamed father) and his son was also great. They both were tremendous and brought a lot of character development and engagement to an otherwise totally bleak story.

I loved Robert Duvall's turn as the grizzled survivor. It was a supporting role sure to win an Oscar nomination. I think this will win more than its share of Oscar nominations, for Viggio at the very least.

Great film, go check it out.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Superb Version of Scrooge, 22 November 2009

I just saw this in 3D and I was amazed at how good this was. I'm glad I saw the 3D version because the special effects were phenomenal. The portrayel of Dickensian London was breathtaking. The screenplay adaptation by Robert Zemecki was pretty straightforward but what really set the film apart was the incredible graphics. It was simply mind boggling. I think this is going to be a Christmas classic.

When the movie first came out, the critics were lambasting it but I think they largely missed the mark. This was a great adaptation & the 3D effects will make this a holiday tradition. Jim Carrey was great in multiple roles (he played Scrooge but also Ghost of Christmas Present), Colin Firth as the nephew and Gary Oldham as Bob Cratchitt were very good.

This is great holiday entertainment. If you can, go see the 3D version but standard version is good to.

7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Poignant Mummer's Tale, 4 November 2009

This was a fascinating "reality show" type movie set in Philadelphia from Jan 2004 to Jan 2005. The subject matter of the film is a working class family in South Philly going through a messy divorce, the relationships between the Father, Mother, Daughter, & Son. There is a great deal of tension due to the impending divorce. The Father & the Son belong to the South Philly String Band, which marches in the annual Mummer's Day parade each New Year's Day. The story is thus twofold: the dynamics of the family going through the divorce process and the Mummer's Day parade backstory, which is actually the main story and what gives this movie a special edge, especially if you live around Philadelphia and watch these parades each year.

The casting and screenplay did have the appearance of a "reality show". I'm sure there was a screenplay but it's hard to tell while watching the movie. That's not to say the dialog was anything less than outstanding, it just had a spontaneous character to it. It seemed very genuine working class Philly.

The cinematography was outstanding, with many excellent pictures and scenes of South Philly, Mummer's preparing their costumes & practicing their music & dance routines, the screenplay and backstories were great.

As a Philly native, I really loved this movie, but even if you live in LA or NY or Dallas, this is worth checking out. It's a very good movie and as Indie movies go, quite excellent.

9 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Great Film, 29 October 2009

Everything about this film was superb. The acting, screenplay, cinematography, the plot and pacing of the story, all of this worked to create this gem of a film.

The movie explored the degree to which people will rationalize their actions based on perceived material interests. It was a fascinating morality tale and very well told.

I really liked the work of the lead actress, Carey Mulligan, who plays 16 year old student Jenny, in 1961 London. She develops an unlikely affair with an older man, David, played by Peter Saarsgard. While the affair seems hard to believe, David charms Jenny and her family, overcoming their doubts about his intentions. He seems, by all accounts, a wealthy and successful businessman, and Jenny's father, played excellently by Alfred Molina, believes that his daughter would be well provided for, negating the need to pay for college.

There is much more to the story, but suffice it to say, things are not what they seem. The film goes into a lot of detail on Jenny's school, her relationship with her family, teachers, David's business partner, and her dilemma between her personal aspirations of attending college at Oxford or the "good life" with her wealthy and dashing boyfriend. The story was beautifully crafted and should garner some nominations for screenplay, at the very least. I would think Carey Mulligan and Alfred Molina would deserve some recognition to. The entire cast was fantastic. Rosamund Pike was excellent as Helen, the street smart but otherwise dense girlfriend of Danny (Dominic Cooper), who was Davids business associate. There were many great performances by many different supporting actors.

It's a shame great movies like this don't have a wider release. It was only playing in a few theaters in the greater Philadelphia area. More people should see quality movies like this. They are a rarity these days.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Book of Job as told by Coen Brothers, 23 October 2009

Larry Gupnik is a Physics Professor in Minnesota during the late 1960's who is facing a number of different trials and tribulations, all at once. His wife wants a divorce so she can marry someone else, he's up for tenure at his university, but that is in peril due to a series of anonymous poison pen letters the tenure committee has been receiving, alleging "moral turpitude", his neighbor on one side of his house is planning to build an extension that encroaches on Larry's property, and his neighbor on the other side is a temptress who sun bathes in the nude, which Larry finds out while repairing his roof antennae. Larry's good for nothing brother "Uncle Arthur", played by Richard Kind in one of the standout roles in the film, mooches off of Larry, much to the chagrin of Larry's family. This and more is what Larry faces in the film.

Larry cannot understand why God (Hashem) has afflicted him with such misfortune. He seeks the counsel of different Rabbis, who have nothing to offer by way of consolation, other than bromides that are both hilarious and pathetic.

The movie is a morality tale that seems to indicate that if God exists, he certainly has a weird sense of humor. The plot seems to recall the stories of I.B. Singer in terms of Yiddish superstitious folklore. There seemed to be a sense of Imps or Demons at work, doing the bidding of Lilleth, rather than the hand of God.

The Coens film work here is stunning. I really enjoyed this movie, even though it was very dark and the morality of it all seemed somewhat nihilistic in nature.

The casting and cinematography was outstanding. The screenplay and plot were also excellent. This is their best movie since "Barton Fink".

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Things that go bump in the night, 18 October 2009

This was a film that cost practically nothing to produce yet offered up a host of scary moments and a plot that kept the viewer on the edge of their seats right up to the wild ending. Kudos to the writers and producers who made this film. They struck gold and I'm sure they already have their next project funded and in the works.

This type of movie is similar to "The Blair Witch Project" in that it's a documentary with the main characters filming themselves while attempting to prove the existence of paranormal activity in their house. Katie has been haunted most of her life by a ghost or demon, and the ghost follows her regardless of where she lives. Now the ghost resides in the home of her boyfriend Micah, with whom she now lives. Micah is initially skeptical but then comes to see that the ghost is a real presence. He isn't intimidated, but wants to show the ghost "who's the boss". A big mistake on Micah's part, as things later prove.

This was a very good movie and as horror movies go, this is one of the more clever ones I've seen. There's not the blood & gore of the typical horror movies, but a very subtle type of tension in the development of the plot. The tension builds throughout and peaks at the films ending.

The release of this film during the Halloween season was a smart move. I'm sure it will do fabulously well, as word of mouth gets around. I definitely recommend this movie.

52 out of 64 people found the following review useful:
Indie Film Perfection, 10 October 2009

Just saw this at the Ritz East. There wasn't much else playing & this had an 8.1 rating on IMDb so I thought I'd check it out. My instincts were well rewarded because this was one of the best movies I've seen. It was a very well constructed film detailing the relationship of the Romantic poet John Keats with his lover Fanny Brawne, as well as Keats' relationship with his friend and patron Charles Brown.

The actors were relatively unknown to me. I'm pretty sure I've seen Paul Schneider, who played Charles Brown, in other films. But Abbie Cornish, who played Fanny, and Ben Whishaw, who played Keats, are new to me. They were great. I can't imagine anyone doing a better job.

Jane Campion, the Director, brought the period to life. And the character development was outstanding. The viewer really felt a connection to the characters in the film, even minor characters, like Fanny's mother & siblings, were highly engaging. Fanny's younger sister was the most adorable little girl in film since Gretl in "The Sound of Music".

The music and mood of the movie fit the period and subject perfectly. I was mesmerized from the beginning to the end of this great film. I think I'll go back and see it again. It was that good.

The movie ended, while the credits rolled, with Whishaw reciting "Ode to a Nightingale" set to classical music. The audience stayed up until the last credit rolled. It was a nice touch to finish the movie with.

This movie will likely be the definitive film about Romantic poets. Maybe Campion will direct a movie about Byron in Greece or Shelley in Italy. One thing is for sure, she set the bar pretty high with "Bright Star".

Surrogates (2009)
72 out of 107 people found the following review useful:
Excellent Sci-Fi Flick with Great Action Sequences, 28 September 2009

This film was an interesting twist on the robot as human concept, with a plot that managed to keep the viewer interested right up until the dramatic ending. A high tech company has specialized in mass producing surrogates, or personal robots, which are sold to the American middle class. They are quickly adopted to perform routine functions and then essentially perform high level functions (like one's job). The main theme was how the surrogates assumed people's lives and identities to such an extent the flesh & blood owner of the surrogate could stay home and presumably pursue higher level interests. The reality was most people simply fell into a spiritual stupor, resorting to alcohol or drugs to pass their time.

The actors were all very good and up to the task of portraying themselves in robotic fashion (this doesn't require great acting skill but the screenplay was quite good). I thought Bruce Willis did a good job in the lead role(s) as FBI Agent Tom Geer (he also played his "surrogate" as a very low key robot). Bruce's surrogate is investigating the death of the son of the founder of the corporation that invented and produced the surrogates. This kicked off the main plot, which centered around an armed resistance group opposed to surrogates and attempting to defeat the surrogates and the corporation that produced them.

If the plot sounds confused, at times it is, and the ending may be less than satisfying. But for a far fetched sci-fi movie about robots, this was one of the better ones I've seen.

Big Fan (2009)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
As an Eagles fan, I loved it!, 4 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Oswald Patton plays Paul, a 30 something pathetic loser living with his elderly Mom in her Staten Island home. He's a cashier in a parking garage, where he passes his time planning his next talk sports radio call in stint, the object of all his affections being the NY Giants football team, and their star player Quantrell Bishop, who he obsesses over. Paul has a particular hatred for the Philadelphia Eagles, and a rival radio caller, an Eagles fan named "Philadelphia Phil".

While out getting a bite to eat with his friend Sal, they spot Quantrell Bishop and decide to follow him all over Staten Island (where they see him making a clandestine visit to what could be a drug house) and into a Manhatten strip club, where Paul brazenly introduces himself as a 'big fan', and inadvertently lets Quantrell know he followed him in from Staten Island. Quantrell goes berserk and gives Paul a brutal beating, putting him in a coma for 3 days, with brain injuries that recur after the initial hospitalization.

Quantrell is suspended from the Giants for his aggravated assault, yet Paul refuses to help with the police investigation, because he wants Quantrell back on the field to help his beloved Giants beat the hated Eagles.

Much of the dynamic of the movie is between Phil, who doesn't want to prosecute, and Paul's family (Mother, and his brother who is a lawyer) who want Paul to sue Quantrell and get some money so he can have a better life and, less importantly, because it's the right thing to do. The NY media and the police are also constantly harassing Paul for info regarding the attack.

The movie ands up with a dramatic denouement in South Philly, where Paul and Phila. Phil finally meet up with each other.

Some might find the film a bit too dark. Is this a comedy or what? It kind of reminds me of DeNiro's "King of Comedy", about a fan's obsession and the lengths to which it impacts one's life.

As an Eagles fan, I say go check it out. I had a lot of fun watching this.

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