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998 reviews in total 
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Insightfully Meaningful, 1 March 2014

After three years of avoiding watching this film because I knew I wouldn't like it, especially the title character, perhaps I had been channeling Steve Jobs or something, but now that the deed is done, I must admit I was wrong. There is subtle elegance in how all the characters came across. What makes this movie so meaningful and powerful is its deliver of non-stereotypical, flat, overly dramatic characters and instead the audience is offered up a more complex and deliciously appealing set of characters that seem real and sympathetic in almost every person presented. I enjoyed how the movie ended and how each character seemed to be a victim of the system of economics of business development, each with their own honorable take on how it should be.

This movie isn't so much about right and wrong, but how one's own personal identity interacts with the innate conflicts and tensions of anything new. There is both sufficient anger and sympathy to go all around. While I didn't like the constant flashback technique used in this movie as the background method of presenting the main story, I can't really come up of another way it could have been done, which says a lot in itself.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Deep Fusion of Genres, 23 January 2014

The biggest question about Saving Mr. Banks is even how to describe it. There doesn't seem to be any single word or even several words that captures this movie. It doesn't easily fit a movie genre or category. The fascinating weaving of past and present unfolds a movie that is a mystery, a comedy, a drama, a psychological thriller, a historical biographical, a period piece, that incorporates music numbers, relational themes, family, and even alcoholism.

The movie offered a well edited, weaving of past and present that seamlessly enhanced the movie. This multi-layered, substantively faceted movie was rich with subtexts and deeper emotional and cognitive insight. In some ways, Saving Mr. Banks is unique in its rich delivery and depiction of the human condition, using historical facts, imagination, and popular myth to create an apparently serious magical experience.

While no movie might be directly compared to Saving Mr. Banks, this movie retains or captures the tone or some of the qualities of such movies as Finding Neverland (2004), a Johnny Depp vehicle where fantasy and reality collide in a bittersweet love story about the man who wrote Pan Peter; The Weatherman (2005), a strong drama about a television weather man played by Nicolas who is going through the disruptive experience of divorce, his attempts a reconciliation, coping with challenging children, and a father played by Michael Caine who himself undergoes a life-altering experience; Moliere (2007), a French produced period comedy drama that provides laugh at in a layered movie about the comedy actor who must disguise himself at a rich man's estate and deal with a love interest at the same time; Punch-Drunk Love (2002), a new type of love story starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson; and Hitchcock (2012),a movie that provokes visceral, intense human emotions of sorrow, fear, passion, and redemption packaged in a movie premised around a horror film.

Emma Thompson's performance is of particular note for her portrayal of Mrs. Traver's who wrote Mary Poppins. Her character performance under the direction of John Lee Hancock was memorable for the delicate balance between the nastiness and unpersonable personality such depicts and the more appealing nature of the overall tone and theme of the movie. Meryl Streep accomplished as much in The Devil Wears Prada (2006).

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Surrealistic Coming of Age Adventure Comedy Drama, 27 December 2013

Ben Stiller coming of age as an adult comedian actor. This movie directed and starring himself as Walter Mitty brings to the screen a rather imaginative fantasy in a way that Danny Kaye's 1947 version didn't not. There is surprisingly a strong undertone of drama along with the rather sad comedy. This fusion of surreal from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), the recession employment drama from Up In the Air (2009), and the exotic geographic adventure of the rather lame but gorgeous The Loneliest Planet (2011) offers a riveting musical score that enhances the entire movie. Ben Stiller just manages to restrain the over the top fantasmagorical craziness before it rips the balance of the movie apart. Both serious and yet comically, Ben Stiller has incorporated a rich everyman story of fear, courage, romance, and liberation of the spirit in this playful movie. Much like Adam Sandler break out performance in Punch Drunk Love (2002), Ben Stiller has offered the audience with a superlative movie.

Frozen (2013/I)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Strong Female Animated Storyline, 24 December 2013

Like Brave (2012) before it, the female characters as well as the emotional undertones of this animated adventure musical, brings back the song and dance of the traditional animated extravaganza. With musical elements from such Broadway hits as Chorus Line and Aida, this fusion of vibrant animation along with subsequent Shrek (2001) humor, this big screen version of love and the power of love with a twist (with only one glaring logical flaw with the return to the Castle timing( makes for a entertaining and wonderfully captivating animation feature film of the year. Certainly worthy of an animation and Best Picture Oscar nominations.

You Again (2010)
Surprisingly Substantive Depth for This Fusion Genre Movie, 28 November 2013

You Again is a rather fascinating fusion of the typical coming of age comedy drama but in an unusual twist it also combines a sort of mystery thriller element into its plot making this movie much more untypical than the run of the mill stereotypical two-dimensional good vs. bad girl as might be found in Mean Girls (2004) or even the more stylistic and luscious high-end youthful comedy Princess Dairies (2001). Odette Annable has a rather stand out role and performance that is much more balanced and poignant than the flat out role as a foil in most movies like these and thus much more difficult to carry out well which she did. The mystery thriller element isn't about some murder or criminal activity, but follows a more circuitous path in regards the real motives and intentions behind the key starring roles in this movie. The plots does a good job of keeping the audience off balance and at times even closely and dangerously almost but never quite going over the line with its devious, edgy elements of vengeance.

This movie is about "redemption" rarely seen in movies nowadays and this movie accomplishes its mission without resort to magical potions or fantastical plot devices. Instead it uses ordinary but strongly hurtful actions that perhaps might actually occur in the lives of almost anybody whose been to high school and that may have long-life personal consequences. What makes this movie difficult to ultimately rate is its approach to a plot resolution which in some ways isn't quite a intense as the build-up, yet in some ways it follows along the lines of a more authentic real life convergence of outcomes.

You Again might be compared to the more substantive youthful movies such as Hillary Duff's The Perfect Man (2005), Brittany Murphy's Uptown Girls (2003), or Scarlett Johansson's Nanny Diaries (2007).

Christmas Twister (2012) (TV)
An Average Disaster Thriller, 25 November 2013

Take Pierce Brosnan in the volcanic disaster movie Dante's Peak (1997), set it during Christmas and replace the volcano with a twister instead and you have the basics for Christmas Twister. With little originality and some not very convincing acting, a number of logical plot problems (security or emergency personnel seem to be more superficial decorations having little to do) or omissions, and at times obvious faked special effects of exploding fires, this movie is hard to watch at times.

Overall, however, the plot has some semblance of continuity with holes, each lead character get their fair share (perhaps excessively so) of screen time. This is just another exploitative television commercial movie filled the cliques and typical disaster tidbits that the audience has already seen before but just in a different package.

Dear Santa (2011) (TV)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
An Above Average Romantic Film, 20 November 2013

While one of those predictable romantic lightly ironic comedies, the character of Crystal played by Amy Acker (Angel, 2001-2004; Person of Interest, 2012-2013) is offered a role that expands on the traditional relational depth especially with the young girl in the movie. Amy also portrays Crystal without the stereotypical hard edged elite finish, offered used by snobby, spoiled women on screen. Instead Amy brings a more softer but just as effective naive, selfish demeanor to film. Her transformation is appealingly fascinating. If not for another Amy, an actress named Amy Adams, who has been more successful in transitioning from television to the movies with the breakthrough in Enchanted (2007), Amy Acker (Man of Steel, 2013) might have been much further in her career.

There are moments especially with the energetic rhythmic music that there are flashbacks to 80s delightful romantic comedies such as Mannequin (1987) and Electric Dreams (1984). Dear Santa has the same tempo and tone as Sarah Michelle Geller's Simply Irresistible (1999) but without the literal "magic". Overall this is an above average romantic film that doesn't resort to extraordinary plots, melodramatic performances, but relies on decent performances to depict an entertaining romance, coming of age movie with a simple but enjoyable plot outline. Other romance, coming of age movies might include a deliciously beautiful performance and locale for Diane Lane directed by Audrey Wells in Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) or Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown (2005), or German romantic comedy Mostly Martha (2001) and remade as No Reservation (2007) starring Catherine Zeta Jones or the coming of age of Scarlett Johansson's character in Nanny Diaries (2007).

Café (2011) (V)
A Surprisingly Surrealistic Black Comedy-Drama, 3 November 2013

Unlike most other Jennifer Love Hewitt movies, especially with the presence at the time of her former boyfriend Jamie Kennedy who plays against type, this movie isn't a fun loving light romantic comedy. Instead, what the audience is offered up is a rather strange but fascinating dramatic fantasy about relationships and infinite possibilities using an ensemble cast and short story plots, some connected and others not. All these characters their interspersed stories are also presented in an almost theatrical manner using the same diner set as the singular location throughout the entire movie (like a play) over a period of days starting with an shooting incident and then the movie told in flashback.

Cafe directed and written by Mark Erlbaum comes across somewhat like a movie based on a screenplay by the Oscar-winning Charlie Kaufman screenwriter Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Being John Malkovich (1999). Less weird and strange than the even more surrealistic The Devil's Carnival (2012), but more unusual than the traditional ensemble movie with various relational plots like Love Actually (2003) or the more serious dramatic presentation like Traffic (2001) or the more dramatic thriller Bobby (2006) or the dramatic television presentation of Separate Tables (1983).

Cafe might best be compared to another fantastical series of life stories as revealed in the Japanese fantasy movie After Life (1998) or the more polished and foreign but mainstream light comedy Chocolat (2001) or the rather distinctive mystery drama of Dogville (2004) with its creative theatrical set design. While the ending of the movie might be consider too sanguine and too cute, Cafe does presents a surprisingly ambiance and charm with its off-beat and creative approach to cinema.

4 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
A Surprisingly Deeply Emotive and Substantive Sci Fi Action Thriller, 31 October 2013

Curiously enough Starship Troopers (1997) and Star Trek (2009) have similar parallels in plot outline and action sequences, yet with a huge difference. The dichotomy between even younger cadet students, the focus on younger, more pliable, but creative, out of the box minds and the older, aging generation of warriors offers a fascinating psychological and moralistic interplay. The emotive and deeper substantive emotive and philosophical, humanistic issues at play here provide a much more solid and meaningful foundation making this movie pertinent and relevant to a mass audience.

Three minor weaknesses appear in this movie that don't really diminish the overall impact of the quality of this movie: Below average set designs and special effects especially at the beginning of the movie, the less than convincing training of the Dragon Team, and less than emotionally compelling and appealing huge change of Ender's mind in the movie. However, there is a wonderfully interesting and strangely emotionally riveting shot of a world in transformation at the end of the movie that speaks powerfully, much more than a transformative planet scene from an earlier Star Trek movie.

Ender's persona is one of the most fascinating to be presented on screen and depending one's perspective this maudlin and politically correct movie or perceptively astute middle way movie that contains an especially sharp edge to both its violence and compassion, usually lacking in most action, adventure movies and reserved for theatrical dramas for the screen. When Orson Scott Card wrote the original novel upon which this movie was based in 1985, it was among the leading edge of sci fi and the fusion of creative ideas of space warfare and alien communication (or perhaps the "apparent" lack of it) taken from this book and incorporated into this movie remain fresh and excitingly potent.

There is a unique sci fi bench mark set in this movie in terms of sci fi psychology and the human psyche as The Matrix (1999) set in terms of virtual reality and Avatar (2009) and Inception (2010) in terms of visual effects or even Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) in terms of a revealing hard core sci fi alien plot element. Ender's Game might be compared to the youthful version of Gerard Butler's Gamers (2009), a hard-edged futuristic, high-tech, new wave sci fi movie, some resemblance to a less hard-hitting 2002 sci fi movie adapted from the classic juvenile book A Wrinkle In Time or a sci fi version of the parallel fantasy movies The Chronicles of Naria: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (2005) and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008) which is also based on C.S. Lewis books which focus on deeper humanistic issues.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A Fine Presentation With Pacing Issues, 20 October 2013

There's seemingly a fine line between authentic portrayal and dramatic pacing and with Captain Phillips, the problem, and perhaps the only one, seems to be that authentic portrayal won out much more than the pacing so that the captivating elements of the movie were not always consistently presented. The beginning and especially the ending of the movie, one of the most penetratingly intriguing scenes in film, another Tom Hanks' Saving Private Ryan (1998) moment featured at the end of that movie, were compellingly presented in their almost vicarious, documentary style that brought the audience into a vividly convincing world, almost as if one were watching a real world quality homemade film capturing real living of particular interest on screen. Yet like a homemade movie, there were moments that seemed to stall and lose their energetic vitality so that the editing just didn't allow the audience to maintain that zestful interest throughout the movie. Even a movie based on a true events such as Fly Away Home (1996) or the fictional dramatic documentary style presentation of sci-fi horror Apollo 18 (2011) had a continuous flow to their presentations. Even as long ago as the 60s, Milton Krasner was nominated for best black and white cinematography for Fate Is The Hunter (1964) a pseudo-documentary style of an investigation into a major airline crash that presented its material in a well edited, serious, but well-paced fashion. Other well edited and audience-friendly paced movie of Captain Phillip's likeness might be United 93 (2006), the military drama Jarhead (2005), and Munich (2005), even Argo (2012). What does really shine about this movie is its focus on the primary characters and the psychological interaction and the natural ambiance about the entire movie making this authentic presentation much more meaningful and penetrating for the audience.

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