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|73 reviews in total|
Jeff Garlin plays James, a sad-sack actor who looks for love and a decent job. That's about it. I love Garlin, some of his stand-up is great and I think Curb Your Enthusiasm has gotten better with every season, but this is weak sauce. James is a very stoic man but this stops being endearing about halfway through. He is treated like garbage over and over and over and eventually it just seems masochistic. It doesn't help that the movie seems to be as in love with Sarah Silverman's character as much as James is, when audiences are likely to have the opposite reaction. In her last scene I wanted James to sit on her head until she died, but it's not that sort of movie. Still, it's great to see Garlin play the lead, the supporting cast are way more famous than you'd expect for such a tiny movie (his address book must be stellar), and there are some great lines, so it's worth a look.
A young girl moves into a Gothic mansion with her dad and his girlfriend...and a bunch of supernatural creatures who live in the basement. This should have been a lot better than it is but the PLOT HOLES, oh the many, many plot holes. Guillermo del Toro has signed up for about a thousand different projects since Pan's Labyrinth and it really shows. Katie Holmes is a terrible actress, Guy Pearce is usually great but not here, and the kid is OK considering a lot of her behavior makes no sense whatsoever. You hear creepy voices and scuttling noises in a dark room: what do you do? Here on Earth you'd hit the lights pronto but these characters have decided to take the title literally and flail about in the in the gloom like idiots. Every second scene has you rolling your eyes at something stupid. The overall design (sets, art direction) are well done and the special effects were pretty good, but I was never scared, nor was I entertained.
Faster is a shameless bait-&-switch. It opens with The Rock pacing back and forth in his prison cell. It's his release day, and the warden gives him a lecture before he leaves. The Rock replies with a pithy one-liner (best line in the movie, BTW) and walks out to start 90 minutes of bloody head-kicking. He wants revenge on the gang that put him away, thank God, and isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Unfortunately, the team behind the camera don't like dirty hands and they're not shy about letting the audience know it. At first we're shown a couple of efficient pay-back scenes, which is great because I hired an action movie, not a sermon. Guns, some blood, villains getting their comeuppance, all good. Then the pace slows to a crawl and we get scene after scene of the characters fretting about their ethics. "Oh, am I doing the right thing? What about my precious soul? Tell my son I'm sorry." It goes on and on. Then The Rock renounces violence and becomes a pastry chef at a children's hospital. (Not really, but at least that would have been funny.) I felt like Milhouse, desperately wanting Poochie to get to the fireworks factory already. This movie has such delusions of grandeur. George Tillman Jr. seems to think he's making a new Heat or Godfather. It looks great, and Billy Bob Thornton and Carla Gugino are so good in it that I suspect they thought they were in a different movie, but it's the sort of rubbish stupid people think is 'deep'. Not worth a rental, maybe worth watching on free-to-air TV.
An unorthodox small-town police sergeant (Brendan Gleeson) locks horns with an erudite crew of drug-runners and a bemused FBI agent (Don Cheadle). The Guard, easily one of the best I've seen this year, skilfully blends bleak drama, absurdest comedy and surprising thrills, often within the same scene. John Michael McDonagh hits the ball out of the park with his excellent screenplay and slightly Sergio Leone-esque direction, and the superb cast dig into their frequently outstanding dialogue with relish. But it's Brendan Gleeson who makes this film a small masterpiece. I never thought he could top In Bruges but he is even better here. His character is the biggest smart-alec you've ever seen and Gleeson is a constant delight to watch. I can't think of any other actor who could play this particular role so well. His remarkably subtle facial expressions, the way he uses his physicality, not a single gesture is wasted or superfluous. Daniel Day Lewis couldn't have done better, and that's high praise indeed. A must-see.
Neil Marshall leaves no cliché unturned in this shamelessly derivative Escape From New York/Escape From L.A./Mad Max/Mad Max 2/Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome/Aliens/28 Weeks Later/basically every other dystopian action movie ever made "homage". The story couldn't be any more predictable, the characters are the very definition of one-dimensional cannon-fodder, but Marshall knows enough to never, ever skimp on the action. There's blood and guts galore (fortunately). It's a shame the script isn't a bit smarter though, because it's soooooooo dumb in parts that your mind starts to wander a bit, even during the numerous competently-staged action sequences. For example: who would you expect to win in a fight? Heavily armed soldiers in body-amour, or a bunch of emaciated ferals wielding sticks with nails in them? Prepare to be surprised.
Inception has been justifiably lauded for its stunning action sequences and inventive story, but it's hardly a shock that such a talented group of people could come up with those. What really surprised me was how much emotional power it had. The dramatic tension builds gradually as we learn more about the lead characters background until it reaches a shattering climax that I haven't experienced in science-fiction since Aliens. It's a very different movie but that sense of desperation, that the person you love the most is in mortal peril, even doomed, is very similar. I actually cried *twice* near the end and I can't say that about Transformers. There really is something for everyone in Inception: spectacular action and effects; excellent acting (especially from Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard, who actually convince as a loved-up couple); an intriguing plot; and, if that doesn't tickle your fancy, some seriously hot stars. (I suspect Tom Hardy keeps fit by constantly beating off hoards of screaming fans with a large stick.) The only downside is that it's hard to see how all involved are going to top this one but I can't wait to see them try.
THIS MOVIE WAS INCREDIBLE. My friends and I walked out of IMAX on such a high that it was though we'd been the ones slaving away in orbit above the Earth, handling inexplicably razor-sharp circuits with our laughably fragile gloves, attached to our shuttle by what looks like a single strand of black wool. Before, I knew that being an astronaut was a dangerous job but now I understand that it's more than that: it's the most dangerous job any person has ever done, ever, in the history of humanity. The list of things that could go wrong at any second could take up a dozen movies but these men and women have nerves of steel. On top of that we get treated to a series of 3D journeys through galaxies that are millions of light years away, places that actually don't exist anymore because the images takes millions of years to reach us. At first I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was over-selling it, but about 45 seconds after we plunged into outer space I realized that he couldn't help himself. Understandably, the excitement and awe in his voice simply cannot be contained. He should get some sort of special narration Oscar because it must have been hard to talk with his jaw hanging down to his knees. There are a couple of boring bits (e.g. shots of a wife strolling down the beach and musing about missing hubby up in orbit) which were probably included only so your head doesn't explode with astonishment and stain the seats. My only genuine gripe is that I was greedy for more of the deep space stuff and it's too short, but there's nothing stopping me from seeing it twice. An absolute must-see.
The King of Escape is two movies in one. On the surface it's an oddball comedy about a gay, 43-year-old tractor salesman called Armand who has a midlife crisis and runs off with an infatuated teenage girl. The humour is both absurdist and deadpan and there's lots of it, so if you're in the mood for some laughs you can switch your brain off and enjoy the unpredictable antics. But underneath the surface this is a film churning with emotion. Armand is comical but his motivations are not. He is popular and social (very social - there's a LOT of sex in this movie) but he appears to have no family. His pastimes all seem to involve solitary exploration - cycling through the countryside, walks through the forest - because Armand is actually a desperately lonely man who is searching for a deeper connection. Nobody really *loves* Armand so he pursues this bizarre relationship because she seems to need him in a way that nobody else in his life does. The King of Escape certainly isn't the first comedy where the main character is motivated by suffering but it's definitely one of the best. BTW, Ludovic Berthillot is excellent as Armand. It's a very brave performance (and not just because he spends so much of it naked). Armand is a tough role but Berthillot never falls back on caricature. Some characters have a rough time and there are serious scenes too, yet Alain Guiraudie is a very generous director. There is no Office-style "cringe" humour and he has such a light touch that you take your medicine without realizing it. Outstanding stuff.
David Caesar and Susie Porter shake off the foul stench of Mullet with this superb local production that shocked the nation by actually being good. With a cast of mostly non-professional actors and such a painfully worthy-sounding scenario RAN threatens to be awful but is actually completely ace. Susie Porter is typically excellent but the big surprise is the total amateur Charles Passi. He excels as the shifty but charismatic Russ. The characters are three-dimensional and the story lines are genuinely interesting, rarely descending into melodrama or stale cliché. My only real complaint is that there are only six episodes and I was greedy for more when it ended. That said, the resolution feels very natural and the less-is-more approach ensures the quality doesn't dip. The Australian TV and film industry often seems like one giant sheltered workshop but this can be watched without covering your face with your hands in shame. Result!
Wow, what a great cast! Julia Roberts, John Cusack, Christopher Walken, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Hank Azaria...what's that? A script, you say? Now you're just being greedy! Surely such a charismatic bunch of thespians will weave such fetching tapestries of cinematic wonder that a script will be unnecessary? You'd think so, but no. America's Sweethearts is one missed opportunity after another. It's like everyone involved woke up before each day's writing/shooting/editing and thought "You know what? I've been working pretty hard lately, and this is guaranteed to be a hit with all these big names, right? I'm just gonna cruise along and let somebody else carry the can." So much potential, yet so painful to sit through. There isn't a single aspect of this thing that doesn't suck. Even Julia's fat suit is lame.
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