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494 out of 810 people found the following review useful:
TIFF 2008: The Hurt Locker - World class war-action cinema, 10 September 2008

Simply put, action ace Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" is a near masterpiece of suspense and unrelenting intensity.

Her first film since 2002's "K-19: The Widowmaker," The Hurt Locker is definitely a return to form from the director of probably the greatest (in this man's humble opinion) surfer-action movie of all time "Point Break." The film follows Bravo company, a team of bomb technicians situated right in the heart of the Iraq war's modern IED warfare. Jeremy Renner, mostly known for impressive performances in "S.W.A.T" and "The Assassination of Jesse James," gives his most riveting performance yet as the lead, Staff Sergeant William James, a reckless but brilliant soldier who has taken down almost 850 bombs.

What separates this film from the bulk of mainstream cinema that has tackled the Iraqi situation is that it doesn't simply exist as a political polemic, or even a reminder of the humanitarian horrors that plague the Iraqi people.

Instead, Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal give us a story that transcends politics and can be seen as almost a straight up kick-ass action pic. The film is plotted by increasingly dangerous and fully realized defusion sequences, all of which were shot from beginning to end in single takes with DOP Barry Ackroyd's cameras continuously roving around set in order to create a tense realism that translates well to the screen.

Very elaborate attention to detail and mise-en-scene is in every frame of the pic, with Bigelow choosing to shoot in Jordan and locations being less than 10 KM away from the Iraqi border. And from a searing heat wave ranging up to 49C to actual Iraqi refugees used as extras to impeccable sound design and special guest cameos by Guy Pearce, David Morse and Ralph Fiennes, Bigelow has succeeded in creating an entirely memorable and visceral experience that will surely leave its mark in the pantheon of the very best war spectacles put to film.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One of the best spy thrillers ever made., 5 June 2006

A smart, intense and incredibly fun movie, television veteran J.J Abrams has taken his meticulous method of storytelling and has applied it to make Mission Impossible III the best spy thriller since James Cameron's True Lies back in 1994.

This film is not just the annual Tom Cruise summer action blockbuster kids; it's an example of the true strength of "Lost" and "Alias" creator Abrams' film-making muscle.

Here he has proved that it is possible that dense plotting and strong character motivation can rivet audiences through both dialogue and terrific, nail biting action sequences.

MI:3 also boasts of the strongest casts in any action film. Period. Led by Cruise, who as usual proves that he can carry any movie on his $100 million dollar shoulders, the cast includes Laurence Fishburne, Billy Crudup and the always incredible Jonathan Rhys-Meyers who all get major kudos from me, delivering solid, serious performances.

And unlike previous Impossible Missions, this time there is finally more of an emotionally dynamic relationship between Hunt and Ving Rhames' Strickell.

I guess my biggest problems with the film lie in the ending of the film...the final three shots of the movie specifically which completely devalue the previous two hours of an otherwise serious and smart film.

Mission Impossible 3 is the first real worthwhile blockbuster of the summer.

Juno (2007)
97 out of 194 people found the following review useful:
Juno --- The best film of TIFF 2007, 10 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Seen at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival


I have discovered my 5"1, 20 year old cinematic muse, and her name is Ellen Page.

I was one of the lucky patrons of this year's Toronto Film Festival to have stumbled upon one of the very best films of this year: JUNO, a breathtakingly hilarious and heart-breaking black-comedy directed by the uber-talented Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, a former stripper and first time screenwriter.

But the real praise here goes to Page, who (as quoted here by Reitman) "can go from hilarious to heartbreaking in seconds flat." To me, her talent truly lies in the way she brings a careful sensitivity and intelligence to all her roles. Here Page is Juno McGuff, a sarcastic and wise beyond her years 16-year-old dealing with the complexities of an unplanned pregnancy.

Reitman directs here with the same knack for visual charm we saw in "Thank You For Smoking" and elicits tremendous comic performances from the entire supporting cast, including Allison Janney as Juno's tough-talking step-mother (who has an unforgettable scene with an "ultrasound technician"), Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner as the adoptive parents of Juno's baby and fellow "Arrested Development" alum and newly minted "Superbad" star Michael Cera as Juno's high school track star love interest.

Come release in mid-December (a.k.a award season), I sincerely believe this well-crafted piece of genius will garner the audience it deserves.