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MichaelMargetis

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329 reviews in total 
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Atonement (2007)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
One of the Best Period Pieces I've Seen, 29 December 2007
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Cecilia Tallis: I love you. I'll wait for you. Come back. Come back to me.

Sweeping, Involving, Well-Acted, Masterfully Directed, Entertaining, Long and Extremely Dramatic. Exactly the way I like my epics. Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, but certainly not one about romance between two teenage lovers. Usually I'm not a big fan of the period piece genre, especially the "romantic" period piece genre. In 1996, a romantic period piece won best picture. Despite it's immense critical acclaim, one of the most boring films I've ever seen was 'The English Patient'. As I sat there on my couch watching I almost began crying because I thought this cruel form of punishment in the form of a DVD would never end. Of course, I could have taken the DVD out of the player, but I always complete a movie once I start it no matter how bad it is. However, I'm not reviewing 'The English Patient', I'm reviewing 'Atonement'. So walking into 'Atonement', I wasn't expecting something I'd be too excited to recommend to people. But, after those ending credits started to roll I was absolutely shocked at how brilliant the piece of film-making was I had just witnessed for the last two hours. 'Atonement' is perhaps the best romantic period piece ever made and without question one of 2007's very best films.

On the outside, 'Atonement' may seem like something Jane Austen would write. However, it is not. First of all it's too rough around the edges and secondly it's far better than anything she wrote. It's not a sappy, unrealistic, "feel-good" movie but a hard-hitting, painfully realistic and uncompromising masterpiece of a motion picture. The story takes place in 1935 England, when the country is just on the cusp of World War II. There's a rich family plantation owned by Tallis family. Cecilia Tallis (Keiria Knightley) is the good-looking and desirable late-teens rich girl who the not-so-simple clean-cut farm boy Robby (James MacAvoy) falls in love with. One day, Cecilia's younger sister Briony (Sairose Ronan) witnesses Cecilia and Robby physically expressing their love for each other what the twelve year old understandably mistakes for forced sexual violence upon her sister. When Robby mistakenly gives Briony a letter addressed to Cecilia explaining how Robby would like to taste Cecilia's nether regions and there is an "incident" in the house, Briony comes forward and indicates Robby as a sexual predator. Robby gets arrested and sent away never to see his love Cecilia again. The story then shifts a couple of years later in 1939 where Robby is a soldier in the war and Cecilia a nurse. That's about all I'll tell you about the plot.

The biggest achievement of 'Atonement' is perhaps while the film isn't always fast-paced, it's never boring. This is due partly because of the exquisite acting. James MacAvoy who has usually been upstaged by other actors in his previous films (cough, cough, Last King of Scotland, cough, cough), finally gets his moment shine and he's brilliant in his performance. Keira Knightley is great as well in a small part, but the best performances come from the three actresses who play Briony. Vanessa Redgrave is remarkable in her five minutes on screen and Romola Garai is extremely powerful as Briony at age 18. The best of these three is 12-year-old Saoirse Ronan as the 13-year-old Briony. She's absolutely incredible if not creepy in her role that will no doubt be remembered at Oscar time. Joe Wright's directing and the film's cinematography is without question some of the finest of 2007, and Christopher Hampton's screenplay is outstanding.

There's really nothing I have to complain about 'Atonement'. It may not take the #1 slot on my top 10 list of 2007, but it will be there around #2 or #3. 'Atonement' is not only one of the best movies I've had the pleasure of seeing this year, but it's also one of the best movies I've had the pleasure of seeing ever. Grade: A

81 out of 125 people found the following review useful:
Refreshing Political Satire, 29 December 2007
8/10

In one of the better movies of the year, Tom Hanks stars as Congressman Charlie Wilson in this sardonically funny and extremely relevant (given reasonably current events) historical comedy-drama surrounding the 1980s Afghan/Soviet fiasco. The Soviets were attacking Afghanistan killing hundreds of people. Why should anyone care? People are dying, right? No, the reason the United States got involved through Charlie Wilson was because the Afghans, in fear they would get blown to sh_t, started illegally coming into Pakistan which in turn p_ssed Pakistani President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq off. Charlie Wilson in an effort to fix this situation teamed up with the sixth richest woman and religious fanatic in Texas, Joanne Herring (Julia Roberts) and a amusing and robust American spy for the CIA, Gust Avrakotos (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to help supply Afghans with high-tech weapons to destroy Soviet fight air-craft that would try and attack their land.

Although certainly not a serious Oscar contender for Best Picture, 'Charlie Wilson's War' is probably one of the best of the many political films of the year. Academy Award Winner Mike Nichols provides solid directing as to be expected while Emmy Award Winner Aaron Sorkin (Sport's Night, The West Wing) provides a remarkable screenplay that near-flawlessly balances comedy and drama. The acting is great for the most part as well. Tom Hanks delivers his best and most enjoyable performance since his 2000 Oscar-nominated turn as a FedEx worker stranded on a tropical island in 'Cast Away'. Hanks takes a slimy character like Wilson and with his trademark charm turns him into a likable guy. Amy Adams and Ned Beatty are reliable as always, but the real stand-out performance of the film is from Philip Seymour Hoffman. Arguably the finest actor working in the film industry today, Hoffman takes a small supporting role and upstages everyone around him. From his first scene where he's screaming at his boss before violently breaking his window, Hoffman sucks you in. The only disappointing cast member is unsurprisingly overrated Hollywood starlet Julia Roberts. Hamming her way through yet another movie, Roberts' overbearing and over-the-top portrayal of a rich Texas oil woman hits all the wrong notes and is at most times flat-out annoying. At 97 minutes, the movie is short and sweet, and that isn't to say it doesn't drag at some points but when it does drag it's for a very brief amount of time.

In conclusion, 'Charlie Wilson's War' is not a perfect film by any means, but it's certainly worth a look. Grade: B+

A Bit of a Let-Down but Still Funny and Charming, 29 December 2007
6/10

Homer Simpson: We have a great life here in Alaska, and we're never going back to America again! What an extraordinary and refreshing television series the Simpsons is. What an average, over-hyped movie it is. Is it because the movie isn't as good as the series? No, the movie is practically identical to the series, it just works far better with a 30 minute television format rather than a 90 minute film format. The Simpsons Movie is funny and entertaining but it leaves you wanting more. There are scenes that will have you laughing hysterically but after the hour mark it starts to get kind of repetitive and a bit tedious. Now there are heartfelt sappy Kodak moments, but for the most part they work well in the movie. All in all I recommend The Simpsons Movie only if you are a fan of the series. If you like the television show you'll like the movie, if you don't like the television series you won't like it. Grade: B-

6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
The Most Disappointing Film of 2007, 28 December 2007
3/10

Frank Falenczyk: It isn't that I'm sorry I killed them; it's that I'm sorry I killed them badly.

Wow! Talk about a swing and a miss. You have a great cast and a great plot with endless possibilties...how do you f_ck that up?! Well, apparently John Dahl has found a way. With an atrocious screenplay featuring jokes about as funny as a malaria epidemic and dialogue so painfully dry it makes none of the characters likable, 'You Kill Me' might be the biggest cinematic failure of 2007. On a positive note, Ben Kinglsey provides another great performance as the alcoholic Polish hit man trying to get clean but the material he has to work with is crap. Tea Leoni is good as well as is Luke Wilson, Dennis Farina, Bill Pullman, Philip Baker Hall and the rest of the cast. I guess the best way to describe 'You Kill Me' is a terrible movie with good performances. Grade: D+

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Good but Disappointing, 28 December 2007
6/10

Gary Spargo: My old man used to say to me, probably the only thing we ever really agreed on, was that whoever has the money has the power. You might wanna jot that down in your book. It's something you're gonna need to remember.

Disappointing would be the best adjective to describe very talented screenwriter Scott Frank''s (Out of Sight, Minority Report) directorial debut. A great plot is ruined by unrealistic dialogue and a cop-out ending. 'The Lookout' builds up this great story, but it never takes off. I kept waiting for the film to get interesting and when it finally did it only had 15 minutes left in the runtime. The best aspect about the movie is perhaps the acting. Joseph Gordon Levitt is outstanding as always as the film's hero suffering brain damage, while Jeff Daniels provides a powerful dramatic turn as Levitt's blind roommate. Isla Fisher is solid in an unimportant role, but I was not impressed with Mathew Goode's inarguably average performance as the movie's antagonist. Scott Frank's direction has moments of innovative brilliance but for the most it's average and uninteresting. Scott Frank's screenplay is absolutely devastating though. For such a great screenwriter, Frank turns out some pretty trite stuff. Like I previously mentioned, the plot is solid but the dialogue needs some serious work. All in all, 'The Lookout' was disappointing to me after reading all these positive reviews. 'The Lookout' is overall a good film whose positive qualities outweigh the bad qualities. I recommend it, but just don't be expecting anything groundbreaking or Oscar-worthy. Grade: B-

16 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
The Farrelly Brother's Return to Raunchy R-Rated Comedy, 28 December 2007
5/10

Sure the new raunchy Farrelly Brothers movie 'The Heartbreak Kid' is stupid and disgusting, but one thing it is not is sappy. In an age where most comedies with a romantic angle have a sweet sentimental side, 'The Heartbreak Kid' is completely free o...(read more)f that. It's insensitive, gross and completely unpretentious. But that doesn't mean it's good. While side-splittingly funny at some parts, a great deal of the film swings and misses with it's jokes. Ben Stiller is very funny playing the emasculate pussy he always plays and Malin Akerman is adequate in her role. The rest of the cast is decent with the exception of Carlos Mencia who overplays his part so much he becomes annoying. As far as Farrelly Brothers go 'Heartbreak Kid' is certainly not on par with 'There's Something About Mary', 'Kingpin' and 'Dumb and Dumberer', but certainly better than 'Stuck on Me'. I recommend 'The Heartbreak Kid' to someone wanting to see a gross-out comedy lacking in plot. Grade: C+

2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
The Most Overrated Film of 2007, 28 December 2007
7/10

I think I was expecting something else. 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead' wasn't as thrilling as I anticipated, but more of a depressing, slow-paced yet painfully realistic kind of a movie. I was surprised to read such rave reviews of this film, seeing as though I didn't find anything particularly outstanding about it. It's a good film, but certainly nothing worthy of an Oscar like some critics seem to believe.

The story is about a jewelry store robbery gone awry. Andy (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his younger brother Hank (Ethan Hawke) are running low on money, so they decide to rip off their parent's jewelry store. Even though they planned everything out carefully, something terribly wrong goes wrong during the robbery and tragedy ensues.

The best part of the film is Philip Seymour Hoffman. Although it isn't one of his best performances, Hoffman owns the role like always and makes 'Andy' a sympathetic character despite the awful things he does. Ethan Hawke, not nearly as good, excels in the role of Hank. Marissa Tomei is great as Andy's wife and even better when she doesn't have any clothes on! Just kidding, but not really, she's a very beautiful girl. Albert Finney is powerful in a kind of nothing role as Andy and Hank's father, and Broadway actor Brian F. Byrne (Doubt) is genuinely creepy in his role.

The acting is the high-point of the film. The story is very good, but the screenplay is awful. The dialogue is solid, but Kelly Masterson has some serious problems with pacing. Everything seems to run into together, which result in a film that isn't as compelling as it has the potential to be. The film's editing and cinematography are amateurish and teeter on the point of being annoying, and Sidney Lumet's directing is nothing to shout home about. Lumet, a director I highly admire for his work on such masterpieces as 'Dog Day Afternoon' and 'Network', really phones it in for his latest feature.

In conclusion, 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead' is a good film with some great performances, an intriguing plot but some serious problems. Grade: B

Talk to Me (2007)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Entertaining and Well-Acted Biopic, 28 December 2007
8/10

Petey Greene: I'll tell it to the hot, I'll tell it to the cold. I'll tell it to the young, I'll tell it to the old. I don't want no laughin', I don't want no cryin', and most of all, no signifyin'. This is Petey Greene's Washington.

What a fascinating person Petey Greene was. What an important person Petey Greene. Sure he might have just seemed like a sharp-witted loud-mouth smart-ass, but his courage to speak out against the racial injustices of the 60s broke ground for later radio disjockeys such as Howard Stern, Don Imus and a lot more. 'Talk to Me', Kasi Lemmon's latest feature chronicling the rise and fall of radio dis-jockey turned talk show host Petey Greene is flawed but moving.

The film's biggest problem lies in the writing. There's a few parts in the middle of the film that really drag. The dialogue is realistic and often quite funny. Kasi Lemmons directing is adequate, while the cast is sensational. Don Cheadle is hysterical and compelling all at the same time. He perfectly embodies Greene, doesn't create an over-the-top character but a man we can relate and sympathize with. The multi-talented Chitwel Ejofor (Kinky Boots, Children of Men) is just as good in a less showy role as Greene's manager, and Tarj P. Henson is amusing to say the least as Greene's girlfriend. Martin Sheen and Mike Epps are solid in their small roles, and Cedric the Entertainer is decent in a role that really doesn't require much acting range.

All in all, 'Talk to Me' is a powerful movie wrapped around an intriguing real-life story. Grade: B+

Fido (2006)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Flawed but Delightfully Bizarre, 28 December 2007
6/10

Bill Robinson: Now, I know you're not supposed to have a hand gun until you're twelve... but it can come in real handy.

I think I love the concept of 'Fido' far more than the actual movie. How original is it to have an alternate reality set in 1950s Leave it To Beaver Era in a perfect little neighborhood where all of the inhabitants are devastated after the great zombie wars of the 1930s. That's right, instead of WWII this reality faced a military conflict with flesh-hungry corpses revived from the dead. Now everything is quarantined, and a company called 'Zomcom' controls basically everything. 'Zomcom' is a company known for converting and brain-washing zombies with electronic collars to become servants.

After the first five minutes of FIDO my hopes were set sky high but by the end I was sorely disappointed. 'Fido' is a good film and a great film in it's genre, but there is so much that could have been done with this groundbreaking and shockingly innovative plot that the final result is almost appalling.

The performances are are solid. Carrie Anne-Moss is excellently creepy as the mother, K'Sun Ray is great as little Timmy, Dylan Baker, best known for his outstanding and haunting portrayal of a conflicted pedophile serial-rapist in Todd Solondz's 'Happiness', is solid here in the stereotypical uptight white male role he is always type-casted in. The real stand-out is Billy Connolly, who with essentially no dialogue is side-split-tingly funny with his priceless facial expressions as the zombie we all cheer for, Fido. It's also nice to see the always reliable Tim Blake Nelson here as Mr. Theopolis, the neighborhood's Quagmire who uses his zombie as a sex slave. The writing is solid on the ideas scale, but the screenplay gets tedious and slow for a big chunk in the middle of the film. Andrew Currie's directing is solid for the most part, but nothing special.

All in all, I highly recommend Fido to any fan of the horror/comedy genre and only lightly recommend it to the rest of you. It's a good film, but it could have been so much better. Grade: B-

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A Solid Indie Flick, 28 December 2007
7/10

Ashoke Ganguli: Not at all. You remind me of everything that followed. Everyday since then has been a gift... Gogol.

Powerful but a bit disappointing. One thing you can definitely not say about Mira Nair's coming-of-age tale 'The Namesake' is that it is filled with bad performances. Every actor in their role is near-perfect. Kal Penn whom you may dismiss as a bad actor because of his previous roles in such films as Van Wilder and Harold and Kumar, shows some amazing range here and gives an emotionally-charged dramatic performance as Gogol. Irrfan Khan is excellent as Gogol's father but the real-standout is Tabu as Gogul's mother who strikes all the right chords with her exquisite performance.

I walked into this movie expecting something sappy but I got something else. 'The Namesake' isn't sappy at all it's at times painfully realistic and sad, and anything but contrived. It's an original and exciting story, but it has some serious pacing problems. My only huge complaint with the film is it's pacing can be extremely slow at several times. This detracts from the mostly good qualities the film has to offer. I feel the conclusion would be a lot more powerful if not for the slow pacing especially during the first half of the film.

All in all, I recommend 'The Namesake' to anyone wanting to see something new, different and relevant. Grade: B


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