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if-i-could-stay

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4 reviews in total 
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246 out of 389 people found the following review useful:
Sharp Satire, 14 August 2008
7/10

'Tropic Thunder' is the sharpest, nastiest, and most honest parody of Hollywood since Altman's 'The Player'.

If Doweny Jr. in black face, the script's use of "retard", or the politically incorrect humor offends you, you're missing the point.

Only Russel Crowe, Robin Williams, and Harvey Weinstein should take offense. The parodies of their personalities, their films, and their business tactics are downright cruel. (But, so, so true, and so brilliant.) I must credit every actor -- particularly Downey Jr. and Cruise -- for their performances, and for making their characters more than stereotypes for cheap laughs.

The more you know about Hollywood, the more you will appreciate the film. If not, just go and laugh at the genre. It takes balls to leave in a scene discussing how Blue-Ray conquered HD-DVD (and expect anyone to fine it funny). But it is funny.

To utterly relish the insanity, brush up on 'Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse'.

They got it so right. So, so, so right.

8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
The Dark Knight: a 'Comic' Greek Tragedy, 20 July 2008
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The hype over The Dark Knight reached preposterous planes before the midnight release, and I won't lie: I scoffed at the Oscar buzz. The Academy would never dismount their high horse and reward a "Batman" or a "comic book" film.

Now I believe. I believe in Harvey Dent, and I believe Nolan created a tour de force worthy of Best Picture. If the film had been directed by Scorsese, it would be in a sure in (or maybe not, you know, took him only twenty years to get the damn thing). Nolan created a modern Greek Tragedy.

Tragedy is the downfall of a great man caused by either the Gods or by hamarita (a tragic misstep). Harvey Dent was a great man, the "White Knight" to Batman's "Dark" – and The Joker, a self-described agent of chaos, swoops into Gotham like an angry messenger from the Gods.

Did you feel the fear and pity? I did. And I felt it for every character – most of all, I felt disturbed. Watching the Batman beat The Joker in the holding cell is probably the most haunting scene in the film. I almost could not watch it.

I've seen the film three times. Its elegance only grows on me, right down to Aaron Eckhart's cleft chin. Not only is Aaron just as good as Heath – if not better – the casting director selected a man whose face visually splits in half, even before the transformation.

I cannot speak highly enough of Gary Oldman, as the supreme Jim Gordon. Oldman brings all the sentiment without sentimentalism, all the fragility without weakness, and all the humanity without melodrama to our beloved commissioner.

As for Batman becoming a secondary figure to the villains, I say reread your source material. Batman is an elusive figure that not even members of the Bat Family understand. Here Bale plays Bats as the detective on the trail, and Wayne struggling with his choice to become The Batman. It's a quiet performance, and full of the grace.

The convict on the boat steals the film. His actions in the time of crisis live with you long after the credits roll. He is the essence of the film: brief rays of dawn over coming the darkness. For anyone that calls this film too dark, too depressing, too sadistic, and too nihilistic, I say look again. If it wasn't Batman, I'd said it believed in Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Just a 21st Century version.

(The only problem I had with the film: why Jim Jr instead of Babs at the end? Why!)

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Boom!, 8 May 2006
7/10

I want JJ Abrams to rot in hell. No, scratch that: I want JJ to rot away in limbo while other members of the Alias production crew rot in hell. But, I'm not here to discuss the season five Alias fiasco. I'm here to discuss, well, Alias: The Movie. Oops, I mean Mission Impossible III.

Months ago, during the height of my Burn JJ at the Stake wrath, I knew MI3 would suck me into the theater because it starred Philip Seymour Hoffman. My Hoffman love affair dates back to my pre-teenage years. Growing up I wanted to be his Lester Bangs. To this day, he's my favorite actor. I cannot resist a film with him in it, even if it stars Tom Cruise and JJ Abrams directed it.

Today I succumbed. I shelled out fifteen dollars (ticket, coke, and chocolate covered raisins) to see The Man. OH, I was not disappointed. The hype and critic reviews nailed it: this film is all boom, and all Hoffman. Fine with me. The film opens on Tom Cruise's battered face, and Hoffman's cool, sadistic voice demanding Cruise give him the "rabbit foot" or he'll kill Cruise's pretty little wife. Hoffman delivers his lines with conviction and menace; he's a bored sociopath. He's delicious and alluring. I felt giddy watching him taunt Cruise's Hunt. You catch your breath when he appears on screen – which is not nearly enough.

The rest of the flick – this really isn't a film, more an elaborate (and expensively) staged action sequence that lasts two hours – is a showy, loud, over-directed escapist rip off of JJ Abrams's 'Truth Be Told' (the pilot episode of 'Alias'). Question: can you sue yourself for plagiarism? If you know the plot of 'Truth Be Told', you know the plot of MI3. There is not a scene, not a shot, not a character, that he did not "sample" from Alias. Thankfully, Jennifer Garner is nowhere in sight. When Marshall appeared on screen, I yelled: why didn't you just cast Kevin Weisman and be done with it, Jesus! If it wasn't for Philip Seymour Hoffman and a spectacular action sequence on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, I might have hated this flick. I walked out with the polar opposite reaction: I relished in its outrageousness and chutzpah. It had nothing to say, and said it with such flare and jazz. The actors and characters are merely devices for more boom. Again, fine with me; the boom entertains like woah.

Serenity (2005)
4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Well this settles it: Joss Whedon is Brilliant, 4 October 2005
10/10

In 2002, creative genius Joss Whedon launched "Firefly," a sci-fi western about rebel smugglers trying to elude the Alliance's radar. The subtle show filled with reproductions of his Buffy characters (example: Jayne is Spike and Kaylee is Willow), was far too intelligent for normal programming audiences: FOX canceled it after nine episodes. Thankfully, the DVD sales did well enough for Universal to take notice and gave Joss Whedon a film deal.

This background history actually provides the most problematic aspect of the film: the illusion of inaccessibility. I say illusion, because there is no denying that your viewing pleasure increases if you understand the nuances of the characters, but you can watch and enjoy the film without them. I dragged two friends with me who never even heard of 'Firefly'. Both followed the plot with ease and loved the film every minute of it.

'Serenity' opens with The Operative, a brilliant government assassin, tracking down the disappearance of River Tam, a prodigy with psychic abilities. Her brother, Simon, rescued her months before from government facilities; then took harbor with, Mal, the captain of those rebel smugglers, and his crew on their ship Serenity. The film follows the crew as they discover River's secrets and try to survive Alliance prosecution – and that is only the first act. To divulge the solemn and dark twists of the second act and the 'Angelic' climax would be unfair. Be prepared, some parts are difficult to watch (the three grown men behind me wept), even with the classic Whedon banter undercutting the drama. He also stays true to from by pulling a Miss Calendar.

Some critics in the upcoming month or years will compare 'Serenity' to 'Star Wars'. At times, I felt The Force (after all, it is just a good old fashion space opera). However, Serenity could never be Star Wars: it is far too complex, intelligent, and compelling. While Star Wars consisted of cumbersome dialogue, woolly acting, and flat archetypes mistaken for characters drenched in sentimentalism; Serenity soars with witty and dry dialogue, spectacular acting (watch Gina Torres in the final act, she is divine), and complex characters that break their stereotypes. The characters completely drive the plot; nothing happens for show, nothing happens without reason. Furthermore, Joss Whedon hints at themes ranging from: the power of a secret, science verse nature, government control, free press and power of internet, God, Belief, fundamentalists and the nature of history (if only briefly due to the two hour run time). Camp Lucas should take notes.

Fans of Joss Whedon will rejoice: his directing has never been better. The sets and CGI are amazing, along with the fluid and beautiful cinematography. There is one shot of River at the end that confirms his Wonder Woman will be godly.

Even if you are not huge fan of Joss Whedon's canon, go and enjoy. Every frame is thrilling and entertaining. This is the epitome of great film-making.