9 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
Away We Go (2009)
Horrific stinking mess!
9 July 2009
This is convoluted, although trying to be simple road-movie; conceited, although trying to be simple-minded; unrealistic, although trying to impart a sense of satire. The protagonist couple is so fuzzy cuddly to the point of being disgusting. And who are these people? Are we supposed to believe that the guy, the husband, is a seller of complex insurance investment products? Where have the writers seen such scruffy laid-back mushy finance types? The rest of the characters are just crass caricatures of wacky hippie family, callous self-centered parents, frantically pro-creative but fiercely child-hating folks, or fiercely child-loving but confused and almost deranged couple (in Montreal). Is it supposed to be satire? If it is, it is blanket misfire across the board. It never touches on the surface of reality. Is it supposed to be romantic coming-of-age young family story? It fails here as well, since it never goes anywhere in this sense . There are feeble attempts to make some jokes, but all of them simply fall flat. And that stilted dialog just goes on and on. I forced myself to see this to the end, hoping there there would be some redeeming features. No, it ends with some deus-ex-machina open finale, that made me regret I spent my 100 minutes on this mess.
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Woody has done it again
5 July 2009
The critics have missed on this one. Don't believe the negative reviews. It's the funniest one from Woody since maybe Deconstructing Harry. Everything works. From the very original script, combining Allen's bleak view of life with effervescent farcical plot line, to uniformly fine performances from Larry David, Evan Rachel Wood, Patricia Clarkson, and the rest of the cast. Comedic sparks fly non-stop. Not just light chuckles here and there at Woody's witticisms, but loud all-out laughter. The scenes with Ed Begley's and Patricia Clarkson's transformations of 'classic text-book right-wing material' are especially hilarious. And in the end I came out from the theater, thinking that in a paradoxical way it was one of the most life-affirming pictures from the master.
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Two Lovers (2008)
This hard candy is placebo.
12 March 2009
It's one of the most thinly written movies I've seen recently. OK, we get it from the very start that Phoenix's character is depressed and tries to commit suicide. Then for the whole duration of the movie he's trying to act normal, trying to choose between one hot brunette, that's he doesn't love (but doesn't mind banging), and one hot blonde, he's mad about. We never know what are the reasons for his condition, and we don't know anything interesting about him or his two lovers. For the film that tries to be serious psychological drama it's pretty shallow and underwritten. And allusions to Dostoevsky that are dropped by the film-makers and picked up here on the Board are just an attempt to bring some weight and cultural baggage to otherwise vaporous script.
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Ghost Town (I) (2008)
Sophisticated comedy, for a change
10 March 2009
Amid the Apatow/Sandler gross-out bulldozer comedy industrial complex that continues to dominate Hollywood, something like this comes along. It's a breath of fresh air. Ricky Gervais is the best thing that happened to Hollywood comedy recently. He finally made it to the leading role in a big picture.

Comedic fireworks do not stop. Everybody's great. Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni, Kristen Wiig (absolute riot!). Beautiful cinematography by Fred Murphy: fall in New York has rarely been seen so gorgeous! Awesome script and direction by David Koepp.

Some of the best moments:

Gwen: So, you hate crowds? Dr. Pincus: not so much the crowds, but individual people in them

Dr. Pincus: Yeah. So, um, how would you extract information from a hostile? Dr. Prashar: Well... as a... Hindu person... I would just... ask him... politely...

Dr. Pincus: So, when did you get the horse?

This one's a keeper. Saw this in the cinema, got it on DVD for multiple viewing pleasures.

P.S. Don't waste time on seeing the original '30s "Topper" with Cary Grant. It's a very loose structure for "Ghost Town" and it's a dud.
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It's not a movie, it's an embarrassment
23 January 2009
Gee, it was painful to watch. Constructed as a Hollywood satire in the vein of Altman's The Player, the whole thing is just a huge misfire. Boring unoriginal script, totally devoid of any interesting ideas, mundane and pedestrian performances from the A-list actors. There was absolutely nothing to keep me interested. The only moment that could get you chuckle was when Turturro character gets a shovel in his balls and falls into the grave. The problem with with that though, that it was in the last 20 minutes, so you may just fast forward to that. Otherwise, it's really that bad. Total waste of time and money. Was the crew on drugs, or something?
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Top 250! Are you kidding?
5 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is a total failure. Totally devoid of any cinematic merits.Waste of money and talent. Seriously, I struggle to find in it just a single redeeming feature.

First, the script and structure. It's 1 hour long exposition when a viewer is just bombarded with very thinly motivated events. Frank Lucas is the bodyguard, driver and sometime enforcer of some crime boss, then his boss dies. Lucas makes a phone call to Thailand and goes there and gets wads of horse. All of sudden without any interference from drug-overlords he becomes a major purveyor of best heroin, which sells for half-market price. At the same time, a story told million times before about a good cop within corrupt police environment, who has some family troubles. Secondly, the acting. Washington just can't play mean types. He lacks a mean streak in him. It's simply unconvincing, especially when in crisis he starts mumbling something frenetically. And this guy shoots a competing gangster in the face in the middle of busy street (again without any consequences). And Crowe just doing his Crowe thing - nervous wrecked action man thing. Thirdly, pretentious attempts to give the whole thing some historical context. Constant reminders of Vietnam war going on in the background. It's so cliché. Was it so necessary to pipe this thing every 15 min or so of valuable screen time? And last but not least, putting an air of deep message behind this razzle-dazzle with statements about America, American dream, etc. It's been done many many times before with much more effective results.
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Zodiac (2007)
Fincher misses the mark
8 March 2007
6000 votes and 8.0 score!!! I can't believe that close to 6000 viewers were so entranced by this new Fincher's 2h50min opus. Or, maybe someone's been cooking the books here? Say, social-networking-style marketing ploy? Fincher has been highly regarded for his very stylish edge-of-the-seat suspenseful thrillers, like Fightclub, Seven, Panic Room. But here, he completely missed it. The script is beyond criticism. Suffice it to say that it's less than fascinating to watch Jake Gyllenhal's retarded character being obsessed with chasing the Zodiac mystery killings in SF, or Downey Jr. doing his trademark over-the edge persona just for the sake of it. And intended lack of traditional denouement is supposed to mean something, or isn't? The camera-work is top-notch, though. Kudos to Harris Savides for brilliant crane shots, and the 2-second shot of Golden Gate bridge in the clouds almost warrants the entry fee.
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Capote (2005)
One-trick pony
9 April 2006
I don't know why the filmmakers of "Capote" had a bone to pick with Truman Capote as a person, but it certainly doesn't justify the 114 minutes of this excruciatingly dull and simplistic movie. The whole film is based on one idea: Truman Capote was a jerk. A flamboyant, self-conscious egotist. That's it! Nothing more, nothing less. He uses the murderers of the Kansas farmer family as the subjects of his "In Cold Blood" novel, manipulates to work out the trust between him and the perpetrators, paying the lawyer fees, etc. By the time killers had been expecting the most his friendship and financial support, he dumped them because "In Cold Blood" was finished . This film does a great disservice to the readers of Truman Capote – a fine writer, the author of such great American classics as "Breakfast of Tiffanys', "Other Voices, Other Rooms", "Grass Harp". Although Capote may have been quite an ugly person, it doesn't justify this one-sided portrayal.

On P.S. Hoffman as Capote. Truman Capote with his queeny mannerisms and lisp voice is an easy target for a character actor like Hoffman. So, what does he actually do with this material? He just replays his ostentatious gay character in "Flawless". Besides the lack of drag outfits, there's not much difference. This would do fine on a comedy show like SNL, but on a feature-length movie, it becomes annoying.

Overall, I would expected much more subtlety and, dare I say, "depth" in portrayal of such a complex individual as Truman Capote.
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So, where's the beef?
7 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers

Based on an enormous praise from the critics and IMDb comments, I had very high expectations before I came to the cinema. Critics were ranting about a deep message on the inherent violent nature that lies under the surface of a common man in America, about a subversive method of violence exploitation in that film. Unfortunately, I did not find in the film anything like that.

The movie is based on a century old formula of a seemingly simple family man, who is forced to meet face to face with his dark violent past. Cronenberg managed to pull some weird laughs out of combination of gory violence and humor. This comes off like something really funny if you forget that Tarantino and many of his followers pulled this kind of tricks a little while ago.

Granted, the story is told very well. Short outbursts of violence and sex are interlaced with spare moments of small-town ordinary life. The actors are all excellent. Viggo Mortensen is very good as coffee-shop keeper and a family man with a dark past, as well as all supporting characters. Ed Harris and William Hurt give outstanding performances as ruthless bad guys. But all this doesn't add up to a truly great picture. Just a fairly good modern film-noir, done with competent hands. One must have a whole different movie in his head to come up with the conclusions and generalizations that many critics came up with.

Ultimately, the movie leaves you empty-handed, or empty-minded as a middle-of-the road thriller, high on promise and low on delivery.

My rating: 6 out of 10.
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