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345 reviews in total 
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Mud (2012)
69 out of 92 people found the following review useful:
A Ripping Good Yarn, 27 April 2013

Jeff Nichols' new film "Mud" is essentially a coming-of-age tale, but it borrows liberally elements of neo-noir, Southern Gothic and melodrama while being filmed as if it was based on some great novel that was never written. It makes for a ripping good yarn that should please a wide audience thirsty for drama with a bit of heart and some sentimentality (without ever being sappy).

The cast works extremely well together under Nichols' direction with McConaughey delivering an Oscar worthy performance as a troubled man hiding out on an island in the Mississippi River who is discovered by two young teenage boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland in two winning performances).

You won't want much more spoiled before seeing it. Highly recommended.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Power of Art, 27 January 2013

I love a documentary that is crafted like a fanciful film and not just some series of interviews with people telling a story (though there is some of that here). Amazing cinematography of Detroit USA and Cape Town South Africa is melded with the infectious music of 70's folk-rock singer Rodriguez - an enigmatic figure who never found the fame he deserved in the States and against all odds (and thanks apparently to some piracy) became the musical voice of a generation in apartheid era South Africa.

The film is about the search by some South African journalists for "the real Rodriguez" amidst rumors of his death.

"Searching for Sugar Man" is the best documentary since "Man on Wire" and is a beautiful story about the power of art to cross oceans and time. It proves the old adage - truth is stranger than fiction.

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Mama (2013/I)
16 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
A Huge Waste of Talent, 20 January 2013

In most horror films there is a suspension of disbelief required. I probably would've been okay with the overly convoluted plot of "Mama" had there been some sense of suspense...but there's never any mystery to it and the clueless director shows us Mama in all her glory in the first five minutes of the film before the opening credits even begin.

Decent cinematography and music score aside, the rest of this film is an absolute mess of clichés and underwritten characters. Poor Jessica Chastain is completely unconvincing as a punk-rock chick turned stepmother to two feral girls who were raised by an irate ghost in the woods. The ghost effects are unimaginative and the back-story of the ghost is one we have heard a million times. The ending is one of the worst of recent memory.

With Del Toro producing, I had expected so much more. This is a complete waste of his name and Chastain's acting talents.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Fantastic French-Canadian Drama, 31 December 2012

In Montreal, an Algerian immigrant (with his own tragic past) takes up the teaching post left vacant by a woman who hung herself in her classroom. Superb slice-of-life approach captures the place and the mood perfectly as we see how this new teacher helps the students through their varying degrees of trouble and heartache. Though mostly subtle, the film is not without some emotional powder-keg scenes, especially where a young boy finally breaks down in class and reveals his true emotions.

Discerning viewers will find much to chew on as moments in the film are rendered both troubling and comforting while appealing all too closely to real life.

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56 out of 87 people found the following review useful:
A Near Perfect Tear-Jerk Thriller, 31 December 2012

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami is brought to shockingly realistic life in J. A. Bayona's ten minute sequence near the beginning of the harrowing true-life survival tale, "The Impossible." With little to no CGI and using mostly scale models and a giant water tank, Bayona throws the viewers into the wave along with stars Naomi Watts (astonishing) and young Tom Holland (revelatory as Watts' son). Told from the point of view of a family on holiday in Thailand, the story makes for a riveting family-centered emotional drama. The rest of the cast is outstanding as well, and there's a strong humanist approach applied to depicting this wide-spread multi-national disaster.

It might pull on the heartstrings a bit "too much" in some sequences, but the manipulation is apt in telling this real-life drama.

Overall - an unforgettable, draining but uplifting film experience.

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Santa Claus is Coming to Town, 26 November 2011

On the eve of Christmas and at the height of reindeer hunting season in Finland, a mysterious corporation begins excavating a mountain near the Russian border while a little boy (Onni Tommila - looking like a prince from the kingdom of Bjork) begins reading up on the real story of Santa Claus - a Finnish fiend who kidnaps, boils, and eats all the naughty children - and begins to suspect the foreigners are trying to dig up the evil monster.

Oddly endearing and shockingly sentimental, it's as if the guys from "South Park" decided to make a Steven Spielberg film. Though never laugh-out loud funny and never really scary, the movie is entertaining and clever throughout. I actually enjoyed this better than the similarly-themed Summer Movie Hollywood flip-side that was J. J. Abrams' "Super 8." However, I can't say I wasn't a bit disappointed when it came to the action and gore, which there is a surprising lack of for an R-rated venture such as this.

Regardless, fans of oddball cinema and savvy older kids who aren't too far removed from the myth of Santa Claus should get a mad kick out of this.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
An Undiscovered Country, 16 October 2011

Coming across films like "Small Town Murder Songs" is akin to the discovery of a new world.

Yet the eeriness lies in the scents of past loves...echoes of the Coen Brother's "Fargo", Reygadas' "Silent Light" and Granik's "Winter's Bone" seep into this film and are as troubling as Jill Hennessy's character's hold over the detective played by Peter Stormare.

I don't know who this Ed Gass-Donnelly is, but he's a director to watch for in the future. Excellent cinematography and a soundtrack of bluesy rock gospel songs that I instantly purchased from iTunes make this tale of murder in a small Ontario Mennonite community stay with you long after its brief run-time expires.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
The Rise of Rupert Wyatt, 9 August 2011

In only his second film, director Rupert Wyatt (in tandem with smarter than your average producers and the great Weta Digital Effects team) teaches a master course on how to do a reboot/origin story in a way only Christopher Nolan has previously been able to achieve.

Skilled direction, a great performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar, emotionally involving character development, and a clever subversion of expectations help this Apes flick rise above the rest.

Watch out for some plot holes, leaps of logic, a goofy James Franco, and a vacant Freida Pinto...but don't worry, you'll still enjoy the ride.

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6 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
A Towering Tree of Life, 11 June 2011

Malick's trademarks show up in spades: exquisite use of classical music; a soaring/roving camera; an obsession with trees and water and beautiful shots of nature; and a desire to return to an innocence lost.

What makes this different from his other films is how personal it is. When not overwhelming us with ambitious imagery second only to Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" in their cosmic wonders, Malick tells a tale of childhood (probably not too far removed from his own) and of love and loss and growing up in 1950's Texas.

Magical while always staying grounded, philosophical without being didactic, and drenched in melancholy and memory, Malick's latest is a film impossible to forget and demanding of multiple views to take it all in.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Meandering Woody Allen in Paris, 6 June 2011

Charming latter-day Woody Allen film is crafted as a love letter to Paris and nostalgia. Though Owen Wilson (not as bad as he could've been) and Rachel McAdams (lovely but terrible as usual) are miscast, Marion Cotillard is perfect again as a dreamy muse for a writer who wishes he was living in the 1920's.

Though beautifully photographed and with a great soundtrack, this isn't as strong an entry as 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona', but should please Woody Allen fans and anyone who has dreamed of going back in time to more romantic and inspiring days - and nights.

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