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18 reviews in total 
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Due Date (2010)
9 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
In a Nutshell (Short Review): "Due Date" (7/10), 8 December 2010

From the director of "Old School" and "The Hangover".....but I feel the urge to tell you more!

Ever since the astronomical success of "The Hangover" everyone is been waiting for director Todd Phillips to come back to us with a follow up, or at least something to keep us going until the release of "The Hangover 2" next year. Well, "Due Date" does the job, it is no Hangover but it is quite funny, entertaining and has two hilarious dudes that we all love.

A classic mix up in Atlanta airport ends up getting Peter (Robert Downey Jr.) and Ethan (Zack Galifianakis) kicked out of the plane. Even though they've just met and hit it off on the wrong foot, they both share a furious ride to LA with different motives; Peter in a hurry to make it to his child's birth and Ethan to get to Hollywood and become an actor.

Galifiankis side by side with Downey Jr. is what I call good casting, and it serves the movie right. The story, however, may seem a bit overdone at times specially on Downey's character side; it gets tense and you may even hate him for a few seconds which should not happen in such a comedy, but apart from that it's one long series of unstoppable laughing.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
In a Nutshell (Short Review): "Unstoppable" (7/10), 8 December 2010

For the fifth time it is Denzel Washington in a Tony Scott movie, and for the second time in a row, it's both of them with one big train. They've evidently fell for the thrill of the subway action in "The Taking of Pelham 123", they thought why not take this baby to the railroad. Then again, Washington plus Scott equals A-class action, and that's what you get when you watch Unstoppable.

Picture "Speed", but this time, it's a train, it's a true story and it's directed by mastermind Tony Scott. Inspired by rather bizarre, yet true events, this picture tells a story of a fatal railroad engineer's mistake that leaves a freight train carrying toxic chemicals unmanned, uncontrollable and unstoppable. Veteran engineer Frank (Denzel Washington) and rookie conductor Will (Chris Pine) take on the mission of preventing the disaster.

As usual of a cinematic course served by Tony Scott, Unstoppable is an intense thriller with gripping suspense from beginning to end. Add to that, the notable chemistry between Denzel Washington and Chris Pine, flavored by Rosario Dawson's performance. With cinematography and visual effects worthy of such a journey, I found Unstoppable quite entertaining. You may get the feeling that it could be better, but after all, it's an unstoppable train thriller, how good can it get?

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
In a Nutshell Masterpiece: "Requiem for a Dream" 2000 (9/10), 8 December 2010

Requiem for a Dream...The psychologically disturbing path of self destruction.

Defining a cinematic genre of its own kind, Requiem for a Dream enriches you with an experience, though severely troubling, yet morally fulfilling. It tells the story of Harry (Jared Leto), his mother Sara (Ellen Burslyn), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans); four dreamers whom drug addiction, coming in different forms, is their ultimate downward spiral.

As if actors have been casted before the story has been written, every character falls into place with its portrayer making the film as real in the viewer's eyes as it could ever be. The human desperation to become wanted and desired is vividly presented by Ellen Burslyn who performs an Oscar nominated role of a life time with a character that walks pitifully through the pathway of sanity to insanity undergoing the painful transformation from human to clown in search for a wild dream. On the other hand, Leto, Wayans and Connelly, each in his own frame succeed in playing their very intense roles compellingly.

Director and mastermind Darren Aronofsky accomplishes a tough yet a necessary mission of putting the audience in a state of acquaintanceship with the complicated characters of the movie. As the story goes on, you feel attached to them, like you're a part of the group, as if you're another junkie on quest for a sniff or a desperate old timer hallucinating from diet pills. And then, with the speedy snapshot-like frames, the split screen scenes and the shots from the characters' view angles, we see cinematography and editing giving the director a well deserved helping hand that contributes to the making of a masterpiece.

Generally in the world of film making, music has always played a huge role in creating a film's identity. However, in "Requiem for a dream" music has played the center role, the lead which everything follows. The remarkable original theme coming from composer Clint Mansell stands out as the one thing that will always remind you of this film. Throughout the movie it makes you feel that all events revolve around it. It provides quite the goose bump effect required to let the audience appreciate the dramatic depth of what they're watching. And even in scenes where the main theme is not used, deep psychedelic music plays on pushing the audience forward to a unique state of euphoria that makes them feel exactly the same way the characters do.

In a nutshell, "Requiem for a dream" is a tale of sex, drugs and shattered dreams. It is so well-woven it takes control of the viewers' mood. As dark and grim as it is, it is also inspiring in its own way. Appreciate the acting, understand the lesson and fix yourself with a stand up comedy a while after to alter back your mood.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
In a Nutshell Masterpiece: August Rush (8/10), 8 December 2010

August Rush..."The music is all around us. All you have to do is; listen!"

Wishing for a perfect mood-fix that will revive your senses and leave you with a smile? There you have it. This film will top everything your cinematic desires will wish for in a light, romantic, musically influenced picture. August Rush cannot be categorized as just a story, it is a fairytale, though without unicorns and butterflies, still very inspirational and uplifting in an indescribable way. It's a story about Evan "Freddie Highmore", a young music prodigy separated at birth from his parents, who uses his magically inherited musical talents in his quest to reunite his family.

What's unique about this movie is though it is set in the real world, it is nonetheless filled with endless fairytale elements that give it its special identity. From love at first sight on a roof of an NYC building, to the derelict, Oliver Twist like, children and their Wizard of a leader, to the magical musical and spiritual bond between three family members yet to be united. All these elements contribute in making August Rush an epic on its own terms.

Music is the fundamental rudiment of this picture, and it is undoubtedly a strong base for a stronger structure. With the assistance of the sound mixing and editing, almost every sound in the movie is transformed into rhythm. You can hear melodies through the blowing wind and beats through the sound of a dribbling basketball. The original soundtrack of August Rush is very powerful and it only adds the right flavor to the very simple, yet very touching story. The song "Raise it up" is arguably the only thing that is not left underrated in this film and that is due to its Oscar nomination in 2008 for best original song.

I can go on and on about how August Rush is satisfying on all levels, but there's one undeniable fact; that acting, especially that of Freddie Highmore is the corner stone of the whole thing. This is the same kid that fascinated Johnny Depp when they worked together in "Finding Neverland" and made him request him one more time to be the Charlie in "Charlie & The Chocolate factory". His smiles, his gestures, his calmness and his ability of transforming his character's inner thoughts and feelings to the audience, these all are factors in leaving the viewers no choice but to enjoy what they're seeing.

On top of that and besides the satisfying performances of Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Keri Russell (the parents), you get the perfect portrayal of the caring Child Services officer by Terrance Howard and the leader of a gang of street performers by Academy Award winner Robin Williams. Their characters, though secondary, they serve tighten the story and give it more meaning and morality.

In a nutshell, August Rush is a fairytale of music, magic and love. It is like that song you'd play on regardless of your mood. It starts with a thought and ends with a rhapsody. It definitely leaves its audience with the perfect rush. So, let the music fill you up and make the most of it. It is a very pleasant experience!

In Bruges (2008)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
In a Nutshell Masterpiece: In Bruges (8.5/10), 8 December 2010

In Bruges..."You've got to stick to your principles"

Defining the genre of Dark Comedy, In Bruges presents a cinematic course of continuously entertaining dialogues in a classic clash of humour and drama. A story of two hit men, "Ray" (Collin Farrell) and "Ken" (Brendan Gleeson), sent on time off in Bruges, Belgium by their boss "Harry" (Ralph Fiennes) after a tough job. During the few days they spend in the little gloomy town, circumstances lead them to show more of their characters and their thoughts on different matters of life.

As you watch In Bruges you can't help getting pulled right into the plot and what it presents from dramatic reality. The key to that is none other than the actual setting of the movie. Think about this; the most preserved medieval town in Belgium, old buildings and little canals, and two Irishmen trying to make something of it. It all makes the place itself very interesting to the viewer even while Collin Farrell keeps going at it as being a s*** hole. Bruges may not make it to the top the viewers' favourite cities list but what makes it very fit for this film is its dull atmosphere and cloudy layout where morning scenes are as dark and gloomy as night ones; an essential element for shooting a black comedy.

Evidently the strongest, most significant factor that makes In Bruges an anything but ordinary kind of film is its Oscar nominated screenplay. A rich flow of dialogues and random conversations, so irrelevant and so inappropriate sometimes that it daringly shows the awkward reality of different life situations usually acted out differently in the movies. This appears clearly in what I consider one of the most enjoyable phone conversations ever acted on the big screen; it's Harry (Fiennes) vs. Ken (Gleeson) talking about Bruges and how Ray (Farrell) feels about it. Even the excessive swearing and the use of the F word 126 times throughout the film help darken the dialogues and perfecting them for one of the most inspirational black comedies in the history of the genre.

But there's always something special about any movie that's written and directed by the same person. When you take a closer look at In Bruges, you figure that Martin McDonagh has shown pure brilliance in directing his very own tight script. Having created the story himself, his presentation constantly gives a hint of pure originality in every scene. The dramatic depth of In Bruges is only deepened even more by what I believe to be the perfect cast; it's one of those rare movies where you think the writer thought of the actor even before the character itself was written. Farrell, Gleeson and Fiennes, each an acting phenomenon on his own, fill in their roles in a quite convincing manner; good enough to earn Collin Farrell a Golden Globe in 2008.

In a nutshell, In Bruges is one deep sophisticated yet simple story, full of morals and symbols. It is funny, it is dark and it is fully entertaining. The piano score, the medieval city and the awkward conversations, all make it quite the ride, the kind of ride you don't miss.

In a Nutshell: "Toy Story 3" (8/10), 8 December 2010

Toy Story 3...Lovable "To infinity and beyond!"

It is usually a tough task to get satisfied when you walk into a movie after your expectations have been shot to the extremes. With Toy Story 3, the story is different. You may have seen 1 & 2 and in case you haven't, they tell a story of a bunch of toys belonging to a kid named Andy. These toys go through various adventures trying to spend most of their time with their owner and not get away from him for any reason. In the 3rd part, Andy is off to college and no longer in need for his toys, but through a classic mix up, the toys get delivered to a day-care center instead of the attic, and there begins a new adventure.

Animated features, especially Pixar's, have always been presented in the form of a funny, well entertaining story with a deep moral lesson behind. However, a turning point to the history of Pixar and the whole animation industry was "Up", which won 2 Oscars and was nominated for 3 more. Some of the reasons to that success were adding a few more dramatic elements to the plot, surrounding the movie with high class music and making the story constantly eye catching. In Toy Story 3, Pixar looks back at "Up" and builds upon on its success using almost every aspect involved. You get the music, the laughs, the drama, and the cliché moments and end it all with a perfect resolution.

The similarities with "Up" go even deeper with the significant character resemblance between the villains in both movies. Both Christopher Muntz, the explorer from "Up" and Lotso the notorious teddy bear of "Toy Story 3" appear to have been good hearted at the earlier stages of their lives, which are presented in flashback forms in both films. Pain and grief ignite hatred and corruption in their personalities and turn them to who they are now.

Like "Up", "Toy Story 3" is full of well crafted dramatic moments and overwhelmingly funny ones as well. It's a pretty satisfactory journey from beginning to end for the viewers regardless of their expectations. As the story builds up, it turns so realistic; not until Buzz starts speaking Spanish that it hits you that you're watching an animated movie not a real one.

In a nutshell, Toy Story 3 has something definitely special and different to present to the series fans. It will leave you knowing for sure that it's the best of the trilogy. It has a unique plot, a beautiful score and a hilarious bunch; we've learned to laugh with long time ago. I guess the Pixar lot are expecting to add another Academy Award to the collection in 2011. Watch it in 3D!

Inception (2010)
0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
In a Nutshell: "Inception" (9.5/10), 8 December 2010

Inception...You think you know about dreams, think again!

8 years is how long it took "Inception" to cook in the head of mastermind writer, producer and director Christopher Nolan. During that time he has successfully served us with things like "Memento", "The Prestige", "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight". This picture is one of a kind to say the least and will undoubtedly be noted through decades to come.

Dom Cobb (Leo DiCaprio), a master dream invader, leads a team of thought manipulators each of his own specialty, through the ultimate mission of their craft. After many jobs of stealing corporate secrets, they're now assigned to be creators rather than thieves. They're off to implant ideas rather than taking them away.

A good story could always be a solid foundation to making a good movie, now imagine a story so genuine like almost nothing that's been told before. "Inception" is one of those films that are likely to go wrong, with an idea that could potentially have numerous loopholes unless written by someone like Christopher Nolan. The mind bending thoughts that you get throughout the movie keep you alert, attentive and almost on edge that you may miss something. But then again it's taken him all those years to produce that coherent script, how many times you think he has read and reread every scene?

Needless to say that this movie is likely to be on top of the nominee list for Film Editing at the next Oscars, other areas of film making have been presented in a, more than a world class, layout. Look at it this way, if it hasn't all come together, "Inception" would've gone straight to DVD. You hear a train cutting through a hot pursuit on a side street, and you think of sound mixing and editing. You see buildings twisted and world physics messed up, you think of visual effects. Let alone, the cinematography and the art direction that constantly stand out from the opening scene right through the last minute.

In many ways Inceptions's main feature is simplicity of complexity. More of that is obvious in the movie score. Edith Piaf's "Non, Je ne regrette rien" is featured as not only a song but a main factor in intensifying the story at some point. Take that tune, put it on a very low pitch and you've got yourself Zach Hemsey's Mind Heist which is the main Inception theme. That well distorted trumpet you hear in the trailer and all over the movie is none other than a tempo adaptation of Piaf's music. If time is slower during a dream, so should music. Talk about story coherence. Furthermore, Nolan simplifies the complex even in front of the camera many times, to name one, rather than using visual effect in low gravity scenes, he decides to put the whole set on hydraulics and spin it so that it'll look more real. Wait till you see Joseph Gordon-Levitt walk on the ceiling.

Having all, behind the scene, aspects as tight as they've been, Nolan's following mission was to put a team together in front of the camera. With roles high in diversity, choosing actors had to be anything but an easy task. It is established that Leonardo DiCaprio was Nolan's first and last choice for the role of Cobb, but he's gone through a whole list of names before choosing the rest. The way I see it, he made all the right choices. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was James Franco's contingency to play "Arthur". Ellen Page, our beloved Juno, who played "Ariadne", was considered among names like Emma Roberts, Rachel McAdams and more. And Tom Hardy "Eames", Cillian Murphy "Fischer" together with Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe "Saito" has successfully filled in their characters' shoes in a way that is up to the standards of something as big as "Inception".

More to the list of stars, Academy Award winners Michael Caine and Marion Cotillard each represent an important relationship to Cobb in "Inception". The later plays a very complex role from an acting perspective leading the audience through a roller-coaster of confusion and emotional disturbance; she nonetheless represents a very important side of the story that if talked about more, may spoil much, despite what master critic Rogert Ebert said about the movie being "Immune to spoilers".

From beginning to end, you don't get to turn your head. You're right in the creative hands of a film making genius who knows what your mind loves and feeds it. Exceptional talent surrounds every bit of this journey. Enjoying it is not an option, it's forced upon you.

In a nutshell, Watch it!

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
In a Nutshell Masterpiece: "The Graduate" 1967 (8/10), 8 December 2010

The Graduate...Here's to you Mrs. Robinson!

40 years ago they made a romantic drama as fast paced as 21st century sci-fi action blockbusters. Starring Dustin Hoffman in his late 20s, The Graduate is a story of Ben Braddock (Hoffman), a recent college graduate who gets involved in an affair with Mrs Robinson, a family friend. Later on, Ben also falls in love with her teenage daughter Elaine, and there starts the complications.

In many ways, the significance of this movie lies mostly in acting and dialogue. Having said that; there are three main characters that contribute to more than 80% of it; first of all, there's Dustin Hoffman who plays the lead role of Ben Braddock, picturing the ultimately realistic confusion of a recent successful college graduate, unsure of what to make up of his life. His tone, his gestures, his actions, his reactions, all showed worthy enough to gain his first of seven Oscar nominations in his career.

Secondly, there's Academy Award winner Anne Bancroft, who plays sort of the center piece of the movie, in other words "Mrs Robinson"; a hot, rich and strong woman in her 40s who finds satisfaction in trapping Braddock (Hoffman) in an affair. Anne Bancroft, a much bigger name then than Dustin Hoffman himself, was a necessary base for the whole acting cast to be built on, especially that the other two pillars of the movie were recent talents at that time. Bancroft has later earned a Female Lead nomination for her role in The Graduate.

Last but not least, there is Katharine Ross who portrays Mrs. Robinson's teenage daughter Elaine; a young naive extraordinarily beautiful girl, who instantly strikes the liking of her mother lover Ben Braddock. Katharine Ross here excels in presenting the female equivalent of Hoffman's character, planting thoughts in the viewers' minds of what should and should not happen if they both had existed in a perfect world.

Needless to say that if a movie's main reason of success is good acting, that we can only relate to a strongly genuine script. The Oscar nominated screenplay provided not only the complex reality in similar real life situations but also the blatantly realistic conversations that come with it. Now take that script, those actors and hand them over to Mike Nichols who's just made his directing career debut with "Who's afraid of Virginia Wolf", a picture that earned no less than 5 Oscars. If the first movie you direct earns you an Oscar nomination and wins another five, it's only fair that you win one on your second film, and that's what happened when Nichols walked away with his first Oscar for directing The Graduate and the only one won for the movie out of 7 nominations.

The Graduate's identity is finally perfected by a soundtrack that spices its visual entertainment and takes it to a deeper dramatic level. Folk- rock duo Simon & Garfunkel's music fills up the film with various songs and background music from beginning to end. "The Sound of silence" has become a constant reminder of the picture for whoever watched it and the hit single "Mrs Robinson", which knocked off The Beatles from the top charts in 1968, forces whoever comes across it to recollect the whole Graduate experience, especially its ending.

In a nutshell, The Graduate is a cinematic landmark of the 1960s with a directing Oscar win and 6 other nominations, and with a lead acting debut for legendary actor Dustin Hoffman. It is, without a doubt, an acting, writing and directing cinematic icon.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
In a Nutshell: "The Expendables" (7/10), 8 December 2010

The Expendables...A humorous action flick, little better than expected!

I guess you only need to look at the poster to know what you're in for. A bunch of tough guys with tougher names who've most been able to carry major action flicks on their sole backs before. In "The Expendables" they all come together within an entertaining story about a line-up of mercenaries led by mighty Stallone, who go on a rather rough mission in Latin America; to find a little more than their common day to day action waiting for them.

Despite the long list of big guys, their contribution to the story varies greatly. While the Statham, Stallone duo eats up most of the action, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis make their mere guest appearances. You still, however, get a little bit of humor from Jet Li, some wise man talk from Mickey Rourke and some bad guy acting from Oscar nominee Eric Roberts.

In "The Expendables" two time Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone takes his eighth shot at directing and his twenty second at writing a screenplay. Having the experience in combining both, together with acting, in titles like "Rambo" and four of the "Rocky" series, Stallone successfully employs each of his players' charismatic characters in their best fit. It reaches a point where if you try to reverse roles in your head you'd think it's impossible.

Like any action flick, you'll get the crazy gun shooting, the wild fist fighting and the anything but real moves from the guys with the big arms. If you're not planning on swallowing ideas like someone grabbing a taking off plane by his hand a hopping on it, then this is not for you. On the other hand, the film is overall quite entertaining whether you're into this kind of things or not; like Terry Crews said in an interview about the making of "The Expendables", that it is going to impress everyone that's a fan of genre and even the ones new to it.

In a nutshell, The Expendables is more than just your average action flick; it has an ensemble of Hollywood's most prominent action stars. It's got the eye candy alright and it's got a little laughing to offer as well. It is not a waste of time!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
In a Nutshell: "The Social Network" (8/10), 8 December 2010

The Social Network..."A million dollars isn't cool. You know what's cool? A billion dollars!"

Alright, put it this way; you wake up on a good morning and you say I'm gonna make a movie about something 500 million people use, like and spend time on every day. How do you think this movie is going to do? The answer is really one of three options; one, it earns loads of money and tops everyone's expectations. Two, it becomes as horrible as any twilight movie and just makes the money based on anticipation. Or three, it sinks in so bad, you regret waking up that morning. My fellow movie goers build your hopes up, it is option one.

As you may have seen, read or heard, this is the story behind the creation of one of our current time's most prominent inventions, Facebook. But, as interesting as it may sound, I thought it's quite scary; because such an idea is not one that gets a second a chance. If a movie is made about it, there isn't a big chance another one will be. The good news is, the minds behind making such a picture aren't of some average movie makers.

This is a tale of success and a parody of emotions, a blend of sophisticated intellect and willful deceit. The story goes around college life of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg , a man who, as depicted on the poster, is a punk, a genius, a traitor and a billionaire. From a college nerd hacking into Harvard's network, to the world's youngest billionaire, the road isn't as bumpy as you may think, but as Mark manages to make 500 million friends, he gets himself some enemies.

On the movie making side, the genius bunch, behind the scenes, lead this project to a quite impressive outcome. Executive producer Kevin Spacy, Hollywood's infamous screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and Academy Award nominated director David Fincher of "Se7en" and "Fight Club", all combine their efforts to take a few uprising acting talents and one of the coolest ideas for a movie this year, and make a blockbuster.

From the opening dialogue of the film you know you're in for a screen writing treat. But as it moves forward, chemistry arises between all sides, from acting to editing to screenplay and ultimately to directing. I recall 20 minutes into watching this, all I wanted to do is find out who's editing; the answer is Kirk Baxtor and Angus Wall, editors whose last project had been Fincher's "The curious case of Benjamin Button". The artistic mix and mash of scenes from the past and the present, and the clash of flashbacks and flash forwards in "The Social Network" depict the exceptional talent of the editing team and off course David Fincher himself.

In this film, upcoming youngster Jesse Eisenberg plays the lead role of the man behind Facebook; Mark Zukerberg. I remember a few weeks before the movie release I saw a picture of Eisenberg online captioned "The next Michael Cera?!!". I guess an opposite scenario would be Cera's best fit now because Jesse Eisenberg has just stepped his game up quite a few notches. We've seen Eisenberg before, the clumsily funny side of him in "Zombieland" side by side with mighty Woody Harelson, and the awkwardly confused teenager in "Adventureland" against the world champion of the awkwardly confused "Kristen Stewart". This time, however, Eisenberg takes it deeper into serious drama accepting the challenge of portraying a real life significant character that everyone can relate to. The way he did it makes me think he'd probably watched every video and heard every speech of Zuckerberg since he's made it to fortune and fame. A little award shower on Eissenberg's head wouldn't be much of a surprise in the next few months.

And how can I forget, our beloved Justin Timberlake who's probably finally found his perfect acting fit in the role of Sean Parker, creator of Napster, the other punk that inspired Zuckerberg's success. Eissenberg, Timberlake, together with Andrew Garfield who plays Zuckerberg's best friend Eduardo Saverin are about the 3 faces you'll be looking at all movie long. They'll do anything but bore you.

In a nutshell, even if "The Social Network" doesn't strike the liking of Mr 26 year old 6.9 billion dollar Mark Zuckerberg, it will serve the opposite to its viewers. Set your expectations on watching a realistic drama about the life of the planet's youngest self-made billionaire and his most controversial story in the business world today, and you won't be disappointed.

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