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R.E.M. by MTV (2014)
Not automatic for the people
This is a movie for the fans of REM especially but I hope everyone else finds it and through it finds REM.
I guess that shows how biased I am - I am a fan of REM. My introduction to the band was however a bit slow to warm up: Some friends who's taste in music I respected loved REM but the songs I'd heard on the radio were Popsong 89' and Shiny Happy People and I really did not like either song. When I was made to listen to the Green album however it was the beginning of a long musical relationship.
I'm sharing that story as an illustration of the diversity of the band's music and I did feel that that came through in this documentary. By using mostly (or maybe only) existing footage from the entire career of REM one does put together a picture of a very diverse group of creative people that somehow not only survived longer than most bands but also managed to create some of the most enduring pop music throughout that time.
The film doesn't get bogged down in politics or controversies that have existed but fairly portrays them and while these merit a film of their own it probably makes it more generally palatable and I think a film most people can enjoy.
Patient Zero (2012)
Neither good enough or bad enough
There isn't anything new here and it has all been done a lot better before, but it isn't awful and considering the budget I'd call it OK.
They have borrowed a lot from other movies but primarily from Resident Evil (2002), although the limited budget means that it isn't on anything like the same scale.
If you do something that has very much been done before you need to have some twist or gimmick and here there is neither and the end leaves much to be desired as well.
If the ending had had a twist or at least tied it all together then this could have earned a couple of points more, but as it is you should only watch it if - like me - you watch everything with bio-weapons and even then there are very many movies that should be higher on your list like: Outbreak (1995), Contagion (2011) or 28 Days Later (2002) to name just a few that are in a similar genre.
Let Me In (2010)
Neither here nor there - a Swedish view
You'll find many reviews here and on the review page for the original movie "Låt den rätte komma in" that will either complain that this remake is to close to the original or still not quite close enough and in a way both views have a valid point. Here is why:
The original Swedish movie is a contemplative artistic piece that has a lot of references that are not only Swedish but that are typical of both the time period (early 80s) and the location (a working class suburb outside Stockholm). Having grown up in that area and time I can vouch for it's authenticity, but how does that relate to the remake? The director (Matt Reeves) could have done as the UK remake of "Wallander" (as Swedish detective series) and set it in the same location and time or taken the route of UKs "Sherlock" and built a new cultural framework.
Let me in chose not to do either. It retells much of the same story but cuts away a few scenes that are too Swedish which forces it to be more blunt and adds some effects that make if feel more like a horror flick but without adding any real horror.
This doesn't use any Hollywood muscle nor does it retain the original magic.
If you can't stand subtitles then see this and then read the book, but anyone else should see "Låt den rätte komma in" or "Let the right one in". You may not get all the cultural references (I certainly miss some when I watch for example Asian movies) but maybe that could be a good thing?
You Kill Me (2007)
Dark enough but not wacky enough
I enjoy dark comedy and I found myself drawn into the story in the beginning. Ben Kingsley is excellent as a Polish hit-man with an alcohol problem who gets sent to AA. Téa Leoni is equally good as his lover although their chemistry is less than perfect. For the most part the supporting cast do a good job, yet as a whole it is not good. For a dark comedy to be funny something has to happen, but here it's mostly a drama with incredulous characters thrown in together. Perhaps the quality of the acting here detracts from the film because as a drama the story fails and it never really becomes a comedy.
I get the feeling that director John Dahl realized it was to realistic and that's why he tried to get a comedic mood with some wacky music, but it doesn't help.
If you find peoples pain a laughing matter then you'll laugh at You Kill Me. No? Then you'll sit through a pointless but well acted film.
A Swedish Baron Münchhausen
The success this movie has achieved in (my native) Sweden speaks to the state of Swedish cinema right now. The high points are few and far between both here and in Swedish movies in general.
Mostly this movie is being compared to Forrest Gump. I find fault with that comparison in several ways. Like Forrest Gump this movie sets the main character in many pivotal historical moments and has a less than intelligent lead character but that's as far as it goes.
Mostly it's an unsympathetic old man telling tall tales - very much in the vein of Baron Münchhausen. The comedy is slapstick and only occasionally really funny and often cringe-worthy. I found myself wanting to like it because the premise is OK, but in the end I left this movie feeling disappointed.
John Carter (2012)
Baron Münchhausen for a new generation
With equal parts Baron Münchhausen, Flash Gordon and Prince of Persia - this is not a subdued tale. This story of a human who by accident ends up on Mars - a living Mars full of alien beings - is told in the manner of Baron Münchhausen and is equally unbelievable.
Bipedal sentient aliens and other creatures are as beautifully rendered as any you have ever seen. The action typically feels like Prince of Persia fight scenes set on a Star Wars speeder chase. Sure - it's all cheesy and clichéd, but also wonderfully entertaining.
There is nothing here in the way of character development or depth, but the ride is fun even without it. Watch it with the family for entertainment for all age.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Immaturity is not the same as embracing your inner child
I remember seeing a late night show with Pulp Fiction in a movie theater where half the audience was drunk. I was uncomfortable, not so much with the violence, but with the unabashed enjoyment of the audience. I thought I was supposed to have my laugh get stuck in my throat because of said violence. I may have been wrong. Since then glorifying violence has become a staple in Tarantino's films.
Pulp was the last Tarantino movie I actually enjoyed. I watch a lot of films and get many of Tarantino's references, but I rarely find a point to them nowadays. I think he became to enamored with his own movie- making. Today it's more self absorbed than an Andy Kaufman joke.
If you thought Kill Bill was grand then you will probably enjoy this. If a grand budget could turn a Barbara Cartland book (she's a really bad romance novelist) into Jane Austen, then this pulp fiction drivel would have become Kurasawa, but sadly it remains a shriveling mess albeit one in a beautiful wrapper.
Unreal but really fun
Enigma is not for the war buffs who want historical accuracy. Although the historical setting at the headquarters for code breaking during world war 2 is solid enough the characters we meet are fictional.
The main character Thomas Jericho clearly has some connections to Alan Turing, but the differences are equally apparent to those who know the historical accounts, so anyone searching for a story about Turing should look elsewhere.
If you can let go of this there is a good spy story to be had. Kate Winslet, Saffron Burrows and Dougray Scott are all excellent in the leading roles, but the supporting cast is equally good. Jeremy Northam's spy master is one of many highly entertaining portrayals.
The intertwined stories along the way are perhaps more captivating than the main plot, but the ride we are taken on is well worth it.
Extra beautiful and extra dumb
There are films where beauty can be enough to make it work, but this is not one on those. Having said that: without the gorgeous environments I would give this a 2.
So, what's wrong?
The acting? No, it's adequate although it never take center stage.
The story? There it is. The premise is alright but the way it's told is terrible. If you didn't find any plot holes in "2012", then you'll be OK here, but otherwise I'd prepare myself for disappointment. There are so many flaws in the story that it is mind boggling that this got green lighted. The really sad thing is that most of the problems could easily have been fixed.
I don't want my time & money back, because there where some good ideas here, but I'm sad that this isn't the classic it could have been with some more work.
Letters to Juliet (2010)
Old love is better than new love..
..At least in this instance. With a beautiful Italian setting and a cheesy but charming story of a love lost for 50 years the packaging is nearly perfect but still it fails.
The acting is slightly mixed: Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia, Les Miserables) does well and Vanessa Redgrave is mostly charming but Christopher Egan is even more lost than he was in Eragon Egan's failure may be caused by a character that is nearly impossible to portray well, and that is where this story fails: the male characters.
They don't feel real. None of them. In some romances there may be a question if the girl chose the right guy. Not here, because there is no right guy. It isn't so bad that it's painful, but I am left only with a longing to visit some of the gorgeous locations.