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FilmStallion

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44 reviews in total 
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The Words (2012)
28 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
The Words...3 out of 4 Skittles, 8 September 2012
7/10

The Words is an engaging film, and almost feels more like a book on screen. And like a good book, it quickly reins you in and keeps entertaining until the end. The writer/director team of Brian Klugman & Lee Sternthal is miles away from their script for the forgettable Tron: Legacy. With The Words they take their time by using their catchy story within a story technique to develop their intriguing characters. The Words may not have the heft compared to other favorites for Best Original Screenplay come this Oscar season, but it is respectable feat for the writer/director duo. Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Limitless) delivers a nice subtle performance as a struggling writer drowning in a sea of desperation. Cooper continues to hack out diverse performances that continue to show his range and win over more fans. He's proving that he is not just Hollywood's latest flavor of the week. The rest of the cast is strong, and headlined by Jeremy Irons (The Man in the Iron Mask, Being Julia) as a broken down old man surprised to see his long lost book on the best-seller list with some young punk's name attached. The Words was dumped into theaters on what is historically known as the worst weekend for movie attendance, and most likely won't garner much of an audience. The film will also have trouble living up to the competition come Oscar season, but it delivers an entertaining and appealing film on the first weekend of fall award season releases.

6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Bachelorette...2.5 out of 4 Skittles, 8 September 2012
6/10

If you took the characters from Bridesmaids and stripped them of their likability, then you would have the characters from Bachelorette. Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man, Melancholia), Lizzy Caplan (True Blood, Mean Girls) and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers, Confessions of a Shopaholic) play three friends who were the popular girls in high school, but are now just a pack of bitter, quarter life crisis bitches. Brought together the night before the wedding of the 4th member of their crew, (the highly underutilized Rebel Wilson), the jealous girls go on a drug fueled rampage and seem to be hell bent on destroying their so-called friend's wedding. They don't like themselves, or anyone around them…which makes it hard to like them.

That being said…the script written by newcomer director Leslye Headland is brazenly honest. Although the characters produced by Headland's script are hard to like, they are easily believable and bizarrely funny. You see these kinds of selfish, materialistic and egocentric women all the time. I guess this is just a story told from their side of things.

Another highlight of the film is the chemistry put together by Caplan & Adam Scott (The Vicious Kind, Step Brothers). These two were great together on the extremely entertaining albeit short lived show Party Down, and continue the magic on screen here as former high school sweethearts who's relationship ended badly. They kind of feel like this generations love dove team of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Hopefully the Party Down movie continues down the pipeline and gets made so we can see these two together again.

If you can make it past the anger and deep emotional scars that these kinds of girls leave on everything around them, then you will probably enjoy the harsh humor that comes Bachelorette. Dunst, Caplan, Fisher and Wilson are all funny together and deliver solid performances that help keep this tale of grown up mean girls afloat.

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Branded (2012)
46 out of 95 people found the following review useful:
Branded...0.5 out of 4 Skittles, 8 September 2012
1/10

Branded should be shown at every film school across the country to aspiring screenwriters with dreams of one day writing that next great sci-fi classic as an example of what NOT to do.

The screenplay's character development is an absolute joke…not to mention the pathetic garbage in disguise as dialogue that spews out of everyone's mouth. Not sure in what world this is supposed to take place where people actually talk like these characters do. It's also funny and convenient how every plot point seems to happen at just the perfect time, like when the characters fall in love so suddenly, or bump into their boss at that oh-so-awkward moment while having sex in bumper to bumper traffic jam (a scene that would make Too Fast Too Furious proud). It's the kind of timeline cuteness and perfection that only happens in really dumb movies.

The acting is abysmal, but with written words like this it's hard to blame the talented cast. Max von Sydow (Minority Report, Shutter Island), Leelee Sobieski (Joan of Arc, Joy Ride), and Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development, The Hangover) must have needed to make a quick check, because it's hard to explain how they would get themselves tied up in this train wreck. However, lead actor Ed Stoppard (The Pianist, Joy Division) can't blame his troubles on the script. His overacting at every turn grows tiresome very quickly. Newcomer director duo Jamie Bradshaw and Aleksander Dulerayn screwed the pooch by not reigning Stoppard in.

If Branded were half as interesting as the catchy and energetic preview that first grabbed my attention then it could have been a great sci-fi pic. Sadly…it's not even close to what's advertised. Maybe that's part of the joke since false advertising and marketing brainwashing make up the film's weak theme. Branded is a major disappointment and an epic waste of time. And like most crummy commercials...it's very forgettable.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Jeff, Who Lives At Home...3 out of 4 Skittles, 6 September 2012
7/10

The Duplass brothers, kings of the indie film world, are back with their fifth feature film delivering on their reputation for telling strong stories with the idiotically named mumblecore camera style that has put them on the map. Jeff, Who Lives At Home, like their 2010 film Cyrus, has a much healthier budget and name stars, but still continues the natural realism and spirit of their early films The Puffy Chair and Baghead.

In Jeff, The Duplass brothers experiment with the meaning of life… is everything in life connected and happen for a reason? With a theme this heavy you might expect the film dig in deeper than their past endeavors, but the writer/director sibling team keep things light. Although Jeff feels less ambitious than Cyrus or The Puffy Chair, the guys keep the film moving forward at a fun, entertaining pace.

The strong cast seems to have a lot of fun working with the Duplass Brothers highly improvisational style. Jason Segal (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets), Ed Helms (The Hangover, Cedar Rapids) & Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, Dead Man Walking) truly feel like a fractured family that know too much and weirdly not enough about each other at the same time.

Jeff, Who Lives At Home may not be a huge leap forward for the Duplass Brothers, but it's a nice film opposite from most main stream movies that forget to include a story as a backbone of their special effects display. Jay and Mark Duplass will always have a purchased movie ticket from me.

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Martha Marcy May Marlene...3.5 out of 4 Skittles, 6 September 2012
9/10

Martha Marcy May Marlene is hauntingly honest, showcasing a portrait inside the life of a cult and the eerie routine of how things are run. First time writer/director Sean Durkin tackles the subject on his own terms by continuously refusing to do what's expected and never attempts to appeal to all movie-goers.

Durkin's script doesn't dumb it down and spoon feed the audience every last detail. At one point it is mentioned that the cult leader only has male children, but leaves it to the audience to figure out why. A subtle trick that keeps you thinking about the framework of the minds lost inside this world.

The cast is nothing short of fantastic. Elizabeth Olsen (yes, she's the younger sister of Mary Kate & Ashley) is fearless. She leads you on a journey inside her lost mind, showing how a young woman can get so trapped in such a bizarre life. Olsen delivers an amazing performance that doesn't allow you to take your eyes of her.

John Hawkes (Me and You and Everyone We Know, Winter's Bone) is subtly frightening as the cult leader. He easily shows how a young woman looking for refuge from a painful life could get sucked into his world…from his sweet (or harsh) pep talks with the members around him, to the way he quickly changes a woman's real name after first meeting her, to the haunting song he plays on his acoustic guitar for the group titled 'Marcy's Song'. The song lyrics speak volumes of the true relationship between him and Marcy May when he sings "She's just a picture, who lives on my wall". So beautiful and creepy at the same time.

Martha Marcy May Marlene shows how great independent film can be when it's not slowed down by Hollywood studio heads that demand major stars, or box office profit predictions before they will make it. It doesn't try to be liked by everyone, and refuses to play by the rules. Martha Marcy is immensely powerful, cuts deep, and sticks with you long after the credits roll. God...I love when a film does that.

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The Sitter (2011)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The Sitter...0.5 out of 4 Skittles, 6 September 2012
1/10

The Sitter starring the uber-famous, used to be chubby funny man Jonah Hill as Noah, a fat unemployed slacker still living at home with his single mother (Jessica Hecht). Noah's mother guilts him into a babysitting job so she can go on a double date with the neighbors. The night of babysitting goes awry when Noah takes the kids out in their parents mini-van in search of first time sex with his new girlfriend played with usual ditsy club girl attitude by Ari Graynor. Think Adventures in Babysitting meets Superbad...without any of the humor.

The Sitter falls flat in every way. The story is generic, the jokes unfunny & the outcome of every scene is predictable. Hill is so far away from his solid recent performances in Cyrus & Moneyball, and Pineapple Express & All the Real Girls director David Gordon Green continues his slide with this directorial follow up to the early 2011 bust Your Highness. The script by new comers Gatewood & Tanaka makes you wonder how it ever got made in the first place. Even an unusual performance by the usually great Sam Rockwell can't save this sinking ship.

Any parents who may get tricked by their younger kids into thinking this could be a funny family film...think again, and take a closer look at the 'R' rating. This is not a film for the kiddies, and with the unfunny and dumb story...not one for the grown folks either.

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Young Adult...2.5 out of 4 Skittles, 6 September 2012
6/10

LOGLINE: Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), an alcoholic and washed up Young Adult genre ghost writer who heads out of the city into her rural Minnesota hometown with plans to steal former high school boyfriend (Patrick Wilson) away from his happy home with wife and new baby. The story is a dark comedy that rarely if ever leaves the dark side.

Audience members looking for the same cutesy smootsy dialogue found in Juno, Reitman and Cody's last team-up, will be sadly disappointed. Even with a solid performance by Theron, Cody's messy script leaves her character without any redemptive qualities, and never gives the audience a chance to rout for her. She is broken, uncaring and a grown up spoiled brat....the worst kind of spoiled brat.

'YA' eases into the story like an old man dipping into a warm bath, but finally picks up when Mavis runs into an old classmate that she doesn't remember Matt Freehauf (Patton Oswalt) at the local dive bar. Oswalt delivers a dynamite performance as the loser always looking at the in crowd from the outside. Those who saw Oswalt knock it out of the park in 2009's Big Fan won't be surprised by the performance, but those only familiar with Oswalt's scene stealing scenes in the popular comedy sitcom King of Queens are likely to be happily surprised. Oscar season should have a Best Supporting Actor nomination waiting for Oswalt.

Even strong direction from Reitman and solid performances by Theron, Oswalt, Wilson and a quietly great outing by Elizabeth Reaser as the new wife, can't save the story from derailing. The story leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, and the sad realization that sometimes bad people never change.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Descendants...4 out of 4 Skittles, 6 September 2012
10/10

The Descendants thrusts us into the life of Matt King (George Clooney), a lawyer and inherited land baron living in Hawaii who must take over the care of his two young daughters after a boating accident leaves his wife in a coma. Matt, the so-called 'back up parent' struggles with his new solo parent duties as he deals with the forced sell of a large area of pristine and unspoiled land passed down to him from several family generations.

Alexander Payne is a proved master in telling realistic human stories that showcase superb drama and subtle comedy that never seem to miss a beat as seen in his past films Sideways and About Schmidt. The Descendants is no different. The film has a way of making you laugh, then tear up within seconds.

Clooney is a stand out as Matt King revealing hints of overwhelming sadness, but hiding it from his daughters (Woodley & Amara Miller). Woodley, best known for her role on TV's The Secret Life of the American Teenager is a revelation as the wild daughter sent away to private school for drugs. Amara Miller steals several scenes as the youngest daughter Scottie, who finds acting out and text bullying an over weight girl at school as the best way to deal with her mother's condition.

Nick Krause, Robert Forster, Matthew Lillard, Beau Bridges & Judy Greer all deliver knock out punches in the tiniest spaces. The Descendants is pitch perfect and should find itself among the Best Picture race this coming Oscar season.

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Like Crazy (2011)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Like Crazy...3.5 out of 4 Skittles, 6 September 2012
9/10

Like Crazy was the toast of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival walking away with the Grand Jury Prize for best film, and deservedly so. The film opens with Jacob (Anton Yelchin) meeting Anna (Felicity Jones) in class of their L.A. area college. Anna nervously leaves a cute love note on Jacob's car windshield wiper, the two go on a date, and the sparks fly. After graduation, immigration issues for Anna result in the forced separation of the two love birds and proceed to show the couple fight to stay together over the next several years.

Like Crazy is a new love story for the ages. Yelchin & Jones deliver incredible chemistry together as we follow them on their first date. The scenes are so real it feels more like a documentary than a live action scripted film. A chemistry found in the days of Woody Allen & Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, or more recently with Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Zooey Deschanel in 2009's underrated 500 Days of Summer.

As the story progresses over the years, the two fight for the survival of their love, and the film fights any sense of the normal Hollywood formula to become something more real. Just when you expect the story to follow the path we are used to seeing in the mass graveyard that is the Rom-Com, it swings away proving that life and especially love are unpredictable.

Kudos to director Drake Doremus, and actors Yelchin, Jones and a small, yet stinging performance by Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence. They could have easily made another romantic film made for fantasy land, but instead took the harder path and made something real. Like Crazy is a small movie with a small budget, and may fall under the Oscar radar, but hopefully indie film lovers and those looking for something outside the holiday blockbuster landscape will find this small beautifully made gem.

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Hugo (2011)
5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Hugo...3 out of 4 Skittles, 6 September 2012
8/10

LOGLINE: Set in 1930's Paris, a young orphan who lives in the walls of a train station and works maintaining the public clocks within. After an accident kills his father (a short and memorable performance by Jude Law), Hugo works to finish rebuilding an automoton found by his father believing that a mysterious message will be released to him once it is complete.

Hugo is breathtaking, but not because of the over-hyped 3D. Although the 3D is a step above the scores of other movies released in the recent 3D boom, it doesn't rely on the technique to wow the audience. Hugo relies more on heart from John Logan's amazing script and Martin Scorsese's direction rather than on the thrills to be found wearing your cheesy 3D glasses.

Scorcese directing a kids movie seems like a weird move, but the master of telling intense crime dramas handles this challenge with ease. Hugo is not your usual children's tale. In fact, I'm not sure I would even label it as a children's movie. The story may go over the head of the kiddies used to seeing dumbed down garbage such as Alvin in the Chipmunks or Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill. The story line runs parallel to a time when movies were truly a magical escape, and gave the audience a live look into what dreams must look like. With Scorcese behind the wheel, Hugo delivers the same excitement as the first movies ever made.

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