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Scream 4 (2011)
8/10
Fun and Fresh
17 May 2011
Despite the lack of enthusiasm in the area, I was SUPER excited to catch horror icon, Wes Craven's, newest bloodbath, Scream 4 (2011)—along with only seven other Scream enthusiasts who made up the pathetic turn out at the 5:30 showing on opening day. In this self-satirical sequel of the highly popular Scream franchise, Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), with completion of her most recent self-help book, is in the midst of wrapping up her nationwide book tour. Final stop—Woodsborro. Here she is once again greeted by familiar faces—Dewey (David Arquette), Gale (Courtney Cox), and of course, Ghost Face. But, amongst these veterans, you'll see some young, fresh faces including Emma Roberts as Sydney's teenage cousin, Jill, and Hayden Panetiere as Jill's sassy best friend and horror buff, Kirby. The fact that Craven chose ACTUAL teenagers for the fourth installment truly provides an interesting tone to the film. If we think back to the original Scream, the "teen" ensemble included a cast of full-grown adults PLAYING teens. Neve Campbell was 23 when she took on the role as 17-year-old Sydney Prescott. But because our protagonist, Sydney, has grown into a strong, mature, almost motherly female figure, we have to identify with her this way. We have walked through the four-part narrative in her shoes, and Craven's choice of younger casting only reminds us of how old we've grown with the Scream story. 15 years! It's a nostalgic feeling. Now, this is a great idea…in theory. However, there was still something keeping me from appreciating the new characters (almost a "what do they know" feeling; they're only kids!). Sexuality remains a huge part of the horror genre and in terms of this particular film; I could not recognize the young cast as "sexual" or even "desirable" beings. This installment probably involves the least amount of hyper-sexual teens ever depicted in Scream—maybe even slasher movies in general. Sex does NOT sell in this case. What Scream 4 DOES sell is intelligent humor and brilliant predatory scenarios—what the Scream story has always sincerely given us. Though the story's grown old, the content certainly hasn't. In Scream tradition, we assume we know all the tricks and trades of the horror genre, but this sequel's fresh shockers teach us otherwise. Scream 4 tastefully utilizes traditional elements in combination with creative slaughter surprises. Ones that may or may not make you pee yourself, but will ultimately deliver a guaranteed great time. Although, I must say, I'm still a little impartial about the ending. Everything builds up so well in terms of plot, but the last half hour, one might feel a tad let down. It's an original ending, and certainly not a cop out, but it just seems like it doesn't fit. It just does not represent what the Scream franchise is all about—you'll know what I'm talking about after seeing it. Perhaps the DVD will provide alternate endings! Hey, a girl can dream… or scream…
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8/10
Well constructed and eye-catching
17 May 2011
Brad Furman's The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) will not leave anyone in dissatisfaction. In this well constructed courtroom thriller, Lawyer, Mickey Haller (Matthew McConaughey), defends a Beverly Hills socialite, Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe, who has been accused of rape. Even though Roulet promises he is innocent, Haller's dive into evidence tells him differently and may even connect him to a previous burdening case. I was pleasantly surprised to find this is quite an enjoyable film! It effectively takes thoughtful plot lines and intertwines them to create a fresh, intelligent narrative. Just when you think you have it all figured out, well… you don't. Matthew McConaughey gives an outstanding performance with the help of Marisa Tomei and William H. Macy. It's nice to see McConaughey break out of the rom-com mold. Ryan Phillippe isn't so bad either, but I guess he's just easy to dislike (I just hate to praise that bastard. You can't just cheat on Reese Witherspoon and expect me to forget about it—because I won't!). The showing in which I attended was presented in a digital format and this complemented the visual style very well. The gritty, maze-like streets of Los Angeles reflect the perfect setting for this crime drama. It also works as the perfect backdrop for Haller's flashy Lincoln Sedan. The Bluesy soundtrack isn't too shabby either!
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6/10
A glorified home movie
17 May 2011
We live in a DIY culture, where filmmakers graduate from fancy-shmancy schools and think they can just make a film about themselves and call it art. Exhibit A (or Exhibit Gazillion): Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture (2010). A glorified home movie. Tiny Furniture tells the story of recent college grad, Aura (Lena Dunham, who also wrote and directed the film), who must deal with the transition from alternative, lazy student to an actual full-grown woman. Post- grad confusion constantly pedals itself across independent cinema, and frankly, I'm sick of it. The narrative is rather dull, but this isn't anything out of the ordinary for mumblecore. However, I do admire Lena Dunham and her character as Aura (where she is essentially playing herself). She may not be anything special, but she's real. She's accurate—naïve, narcissistic, and completely disoriented. Ultimately, I think that's why this film (amongst other post-grad films) is so successful. It's built for a certain demographic—post-grad losers. They (We) find these movies comforting because the lost characters are just like them (us). I'm not going to say I didn't enjoy this movie, but I probably wouldn't have hadn't I found it extremely relatable to my current lifestyle. Hopefully, this film will work as a serious reality-check for those of us graduating soon. I don't want to be Aura. That's for sure. Aside from its tired plot, Lena Dunham actually has a great visual eye and hopefully this will reflect in her future work, when she isn't delving into self-exploitation any longer.
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9/10
An emotional roller-coaster
17 May 2011
Get ready for 112 minutes of tears and sorrow! In Derek Cianfrance's Blue Valentine (2010), we peak into the lives of a dissatisfied, working-class, married couple, as key moments in their lives unfold through a scattered narrative. Right off the bat, we learn what we're getting ourselves into. We watch a tired, disconnected 30-something-year old (or perhaps late 20s) couple, and we cannot help but wonder, how did it get this way? This is where the film takes off. The audience works as a fly on the wall through the deconstruction of their relationship, taking note during the bittersweet scenes that we're not meant to be enjoying this as much as they are. We have the high-power of knowing they're doomed. There is no solution. Michelle Williams as Cindy and Ryan Gosling as Dean work as a tremendous on screen couple under these emotionally demanding roles. Unbelievably (or should I say believably) strong acting from the both of them. You feel like you already know them because you, most likely, do, in fact, know a couple just like them—our neighbors, our parents, anyone. It's such an honest portrayal of contemporary marriage—one that we all hope to defy, but heartbreakingly know is bound to happen. The cinematography is also greatly astounding with shots that accent their deteriorating relationship and truly allow you to suffocate with the broken characters. Blue Valentine will take you on quite the emotional roller-coaster in a disappointing world without hope.
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Limitless (I) (2011)
6/10
A fun time if you don't take it too seriously.
17 May 2011
We've all thought about it (or maybe only us fatties and losers). What if there was a pill that could alter your entire universe, allow you to learn ANYTHING you wanted or be whatever you wanted to be? Adderall? Perhaps, but not to the level of this concoction. Neil Burger's Limitless (2011) tells the story of Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper), a pathetic, dried out writer who acquires the newest pharmaceutical, NZT. This revolutionary drug allows him to recall anything he has ever learned and soak in as much new knowledge as possible. What could go wrong, right? Wrong! Once word gets around that Eddie has the untested drug, he must do anything he can to hide his stash, for if he stops taking the pill, serious side effects will occur. The movie definitely owns up to its potential as an entertaining thriller, although I would have really enjoyed seeing this concept with a more psychological tweak. This is a fun, fun movie to watch, especially for people who have actually taken drugs (not that I have, I'm just sayin'), but it's no Inception, folks. In fact, you might enjoy this movie more if you just sit back and turn off your brain for 105 minutes. Over-analyzing will just take the fun out of it. Sure, the writing is a bit illogical, but one can't exactly perfect a strong fact-based narrative for a product that doesn't actually exist. Where this movie really tries to excel is in its visual style. It's all, like, zing, zing, zing when we get a glimpse of Eddie's point of view! Quick-cuts, very trippy, but also a little bit tacky. I'd describe its look as being what straightedge people assume tripping is like. Imaginative little chumps, they are! Limitless: A fun time if you don't take it too seriously.
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Source Code (2011)
7/10
High concept at its best
17 May 2011
First off, I'd just like to say I had absolutely no desire to see Duncan Jones's Source Code (2011) upon hearing of it, but since the majority of my friends are male, I've come to accept that despite the fact that I'm a film student, I don't always get to pick the flick, and I will constantly suffer through exposure to explosions, muscles, bad accents, and aggressive one- liners. However, Source Code offered none of those things (well, except for the whole explosive device on the train part of the plot) and I was pleasantly surprised to find that. In this (romantic) action-thriller, Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds himself thrown into a serious mission where he must find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train—here's the shocker…. while inside the body of another man! Essentially, Colter's mind is utilized as an experiment with a new program, "Source Code," which somehow magically allows him to be in the mind of another man's body for the last eight minutes of his life— this man being a passenger/victim of the commuter bombing. This is a smart movie, or it at least comes off that way. I was so busy trying to keep up that I didn't even have time to think about whether or not certain aspects were actually plausible. I had accidentally left my diagram that lays out the development of a structured narrative involving time travel, the cerebral cortex, and existentialism in the car. My bad. But like many say, "It's just science!" Jake Gyllenhaal succeeds in this role, where other actors may have failed. He brought character to the character. Anybody can read a script out loud and call it acting, but Gyllenhaal had the perfect persona for this role. He's got a forceful attitude with a sympathetic face. Yes, this could be another macho thriller, but instead of a bulky, apathetic protagonist, we get an emotional, relatable, well-developed character. Source Code will provide you with an exciting 93 minutes of mind-bending. Sure, what you're getting is a high concept film, but it's high concept at its best.
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Your Highness (2011)
4/10
One long yawn
17 May 2011
When I'd found out Danny McBride put on the writer's cap, I was a tad nervous. You know, I've got that women's intuition, and it was like, "Whoa, Danny. Check yourself before you wreck yourself." Naturally, I was right. Therefore, I directly blame myself for the failure of David Gordon Green's Your Highness (2011). I should have sent out a telepathic warning to whoever green-lit this pathetic excuse for entertainment. In this adventure comedy, Prince Fabious (James Franco) sets out to save his future bride, Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) whose been kidnapped by the evil wizard, Leezar (Justin Theroux). Sounds simple, right? Well, no. Thadeous (Danny McBride), the pampered, lackadaisical brother of Fabious, accompanies his fair brother on this fantastical journey. If you're thinking' trouble, you're thinking' right. Swordfights, mythical creatures, and Natalie Portman's breast's work as an all-inclusive joy for whatever demographic this flick was aiming for. But, ultimately, it's a huge disappointment. You'd think the combination of medieval timey sorts and a hint of modern- day jargon would function as 100 minutes of genuine entertainment (cough—Robinhood: Men in Tights; cough—Monty Python), but sadly, no. The jokes are forced, unoriginal, and overused. I mean, I obviously wasn't expecting a masterpiece going in, but I thought I might get in a few light chuckles. Poop and fart jokes are only funny for so long. They're usually even funnier when coming out of Danny McBride's mouth, but this time it was just a tired attempt at a comedy we've already seen over and over again. The only thing that kept me even remotely interested were James Franco's beautiful, flowing locks—what a dreamboat that guy is, am I right?!
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Black Swan (2010)
9/10
An intoxicating film
16 May 2011
Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan (2010) intoxicates its audience with compelling art-house thrills. This is the kind of film that reminds us why we love the cinema so much. 2010 was a year filled with box office flops—major disappointments in prequels, sequels, and remakes. Finally Aronofsky hits us up with something fresh and genuine, something that finally gets the wheels turning up there. When ballerina, Nina (Natalie Portman) is cast as the two part lead in Swan Lake, she easily proves herself as the graceful and innocent White Swan. It is the dual role as the cunning and seductive Black Swan that will be the challenge, especially with Lily (Mila Kunis) standing as a major threat to Nina's shining moment. This fantasy drama takes you on a surreal ride through the mind of an obsessive perfectionist—one who is certainly 'losing it', if you know what I mean. It is a glimpse at the underbelly of ballet, an act we so often understand to be glamorous and beautiful. Black Swan is wildly over the top and will have you thinking about its content and imagery for hours, even after leaving the theatre. The narrative's ambiguity is what makes it so fun to watch. It is a film you must see more than once, taking a different mindful approach every time. So many interpretations! Natalie Portman gives an outstanding performance and any recognition given to her because of it is well worth it. Definitely a smart career move. Though, I sadly would not make any bets on it winning best picture at the Oscars this year, I will say its nomination is certainly deserved.
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9/10
A Winning Film
16 May 2011
Tom Hooper's The King's Speech (2010) stands as my favorite film of the Oscar season. I would maybe even go to say it is my favorite film of the year. After the death of King George V (Michael Gamdon) and the abdication of King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), Bertie (Colin Firth) a.k.a King George VI must ascend to the throne and overcome the struggle of his awful stammer in order to prove himself as a strong, confident king. To do so, he hires Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a failed actor and spirited speech therapist, who, with unique methods, must help Bertie successfully deliver an inspiring radio-address. This period piece is amazingly uplifting. Bertie carries himself courageously and is an easy hero to identify with. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll pinch the person sitting next to you if Bertie screws it up! It is brilliantly written and performed. Colin Firth gives an incredible performance. With the stammer attached to that child- like face, one couldn't help but sympathize with this man every time he speaks. No doubt, he will be taking home the Oscar this year for 'Best Actor in a Leading Role'. Simply put, The King's Speech is a great story and a joy to watch.
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Unknown (I) (2011)
6/10
You might have fun, but I'm not making any promises
16 May 2011
Well, it's February, and what does that mean? For some of us, that means it's the worst time of year for movies. Oscar flicks are milked December through January, leading us into February, where everyone has already seen the major front-runners and nothing new even comes close to appealing in comparison to those masterpieces. So, out of boredom this past weekend, I caught Jaume Collet-Serra's newest film Unknown (2011). I guess the best word to describe my experience would be "meh." We've got Liam Neeson as our big star—who doesn't love Liam?! That is, when we're not getting him confused with Ralph Fiennes (or is this just my bad?). Anyway, Neeson does what he does best, playing a bad ass, and for a quick second you want to accept this movie as an okay flick. But, after a few awesome car chases, you sink back into the story and say to yourself, "Um—What the hell? There's no way that's even possible." No spoilers here, but the conclusion is completely implausible. Unknown is filled with major plot holes, and perhaps too much plot to begin with. The enjoyment of Unknown truly lies with Liam Neeson's performance. Let's get real; he's actually a talented guy. On the other end of the spectrum, we get Diane Kruger's performance, which blows major chunks. Okay, great, she's got a German accent. Well done. But her performance as a pseudo-punk, illegal immigrant, taxi driver was a huge miscast. She and Neeson are a horrible duo with no on-screen chemistry. So, basically what I'm saying here is, it's got some good, some bad, and some even worse, but it's not the crappiest movie I've ever seen. You might have fun, but I'm not making any promises.
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7/10
Entertaining for everyone
16 May 2011
Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us? Matt Damon stars in this thriller as a man who accidentally comes across what his future has planned for him and realizes he wants something else. To get it, he must pursue the only woman he's ever loved across, under and through the streets of modern-day New York. On the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, ambitious politician David Norris (Damon) meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt)-who he immediately falls in love with. But just as he realizes this, mysterious men (the adjustment bureau) work to keep the two apart for the sake of the plan. In the face of overwhelming odds, he must either let her go and accept a predetermined path… I've been waiting for a movie like this to come out for years. If there really is a plan for me, why is it necessary to factor in a 15-minute period where I can't find my keys or I spill coffee on myself and I have to go home and change? What's the point of it all!?! This flick gives you a fun theory as to why; a highly improbable one, but also a thought provoking one. When I watched it, I kept asking myself, "How did it take so long for a movie like this to come out?" Sure, it's a little far fetched, but fun never the less! Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have great on-screen chemistry, and this truly makes the rather sloppy narrative more believable. This film's got it all—romance, mystery, drama, and even a wee bit of comedy, but I feel the romantics will love it the most. However, I was rather disappointed with its unchallenging ending. Despite God's plan, maybe, JUST MAYBE, love conquers all.
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7/10
A heartbreaking look at Nazi inhumanity and manipulation
16 May 2011
It was with great pleasure that I was able to attend a screening of Yael Hersonski's A Film Unfinished (2010) this past Sunday afternoon at the documentary film festival. However, this pleasure was followed up by immediate sadness, as this film is not exactly one to lift your spirits. This documentary exposes discovered footage of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 that was later found in a buried East German archive with a simple name attached, 'Ghetto'. The original implications of this lost footage are unclear as it captured the true disgust of the harsh, cramped living conditions, the unsanitary environment, and the famished people within it, while ambiguously presenting staged scenes of Jewish people enjoying a 'comfortable' life in the ghetto—dining in restaurants, wearing clean clothes and fine jewelry, enjoying the privacy of their spacious living facilities, sanitary circumcisions, and proper funerals. It almost seemed as if the Nazi filmmaker's original intent was to present a sort of social or cultural dichotomy within the ghetto. Perhaps a piece of propaganda meant to make people believe the ghettos were acceptable forms of alternative housing—a kind of paradise, but the Jews were the ones who made them unsatisfactory. I found the images within this film to be absolutely haunting. The piercing eyes of these victims as they break the fourth wall, and stare straight back at you will leave you with an unsettling feeling that will linger within you for hours, even after the film's end. Looking into the sorrowful eyes of these victims is a guaranteed way to make you feel extremely privileged. A Film Unfinished is a heartbreaking look at Nazi inhumanity and manipulation. It is a piece of evidence that will forever represent one of the most tragic events in history.
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127 Hours (2010)
8/10
A beautifully told story
16 May 2011
Danny Boyle has always been a favorite of mine with his record of consistently making amazing films across the genres. Once again, he has kept up the flawless work with his latest film, 127 Hours (2010). James Franco gives an absolutely outstanding performance in this true story about a mountain climber, Aron Ralston, who becomes trapped inside a canyon when a boulder falls onto his arm. From here, we stick with Aron as he tackles the struggle of survival for the next 127 hours (We can thank elliptical editing for only having to sit through 94 minutes of this brutal attack by nature). To say it is a story of survival would be an understatement. It's a story of what it means to live—why we do the things we do, what's important, what isn't. It's about human will power, but Aron Ralston did not just suffer 127 hours of physical pain. This film takes us on an existential journey in discovering what his life truly meant to him. Despite the pain and suffering Aron must manage, we get to admire the beautiful cinematography. It's pretty safe to say that in the wrong hands, this film could have been a major let down—a lifetime movie, perhaps? Luckily, the visual imagery by cinematographers Enrique Chediak and Anthony Dod Mantle will capture your attention and hold it for the length of the film. Their collaboration successfully captures the landscape's harsh beauty. The visual style most definitely supports the story telling. Aron may be pinned into immobile suffering, but the camera sure isn't. The constant movement works omnisciently, allowing us to understand every aspect of Aron's entrapment within the canyon and his conscience. Take my advice, go catch this flick, but bring your barf bag if you have a weak stomach!
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Let Me In (I) (2010)
5/10
An Unnecessary Adaptation
16 May 2011
I will fully admit that my opinion of Matt Reeves' Let Me In (2010) is entirely biased, as Tomas Alfredson's Let the Right One In (2008) was one of my favorite films of the decade. Going in, I thought to myself, "What exactly is the point in recreating a two year old film, that so many consider flawless?" My answer (at least in this case): There is no point. Reeves has emphasized in numerous interviews that he absolutely respects Alfredson's work and that he simply wanted to retell the story in a way that is more accessible to an American audience. Well, he certainly followed through with this statement. In terms of plot, these films are almost identical. However, Reeves took the simplicity and the subtle beauty of Let the Right One In and molded it into an exaggerated, classic Hollywood horror film. What I love about Let the Right One In is that it is just so real. Yes, vampires are fictitious, but this film truly exemplifies what life would be life for vampires if they walked this Earth. Eli is not intentionally evil or dangerous. She's just trying to survive. But, this is just my opinion and there are a number of ways to interpret Let the Right One In, but with Matt Reeves' Let Me In, various interpretations fade and our attention is directed to only one analysis. Now, I do not want to spoil anything, so I will not go into detail, but I can tell you through obvious exaggeration in narrative and aesthetic, Reeves took his interpretation of the Swedish story and tweaked it, using aspects of cliché Hollywood horror, to make that interpretation more defined and evident in his American version.

Word of advice: Save yourself the $10.00 and watch the more genuine, well-crafted Let the Right One In on Instant Play Netflix.
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9/10
A Brilliant Era-Defining Film
16 May 2011
As I'm sure many of you know, David Fincher's The Social Network (2010) is a riveting story about the creation of the social networking site, FACEBOOK, and the whole mess in between. I must say, I was not exactly sure what to expect going into this movie. I remember seeing the trailer for the first time and thinking, "What the crap? FACEBOOK movie already? It's just too soon." To my great surprise, The Social Network ended up being quite a treat. It's the perfect film for this era, where anyone between the ages of 15 and 30 dive into social media as a means of communication. First off, the performances are absolutely phenomenal. Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Mark Zuckerberg, the 'creator' of facebook, plays this role in a way I could not have possibly imagined. Normally, I would refer to him as "poor man's Michael Cera." However, I've gained an incredible amount of respect for the actor after catching this flick. Let's just say he was made for this role. The script is so quick and witty, and he delivers his lines so freely, as to create one of the most accurate youth pics I've seen (in terms of dialogue) since Greg Mottola's Superbad (2007). I was even proud of Mr. JT in his role as Sean Parker. He's the perfect parasite. I haven't disliked a character so much since Mo'Nique as Mary in Lee Daniels' Precious (2009). This film grips you and drags you into a world where you can't identify with anyone. Everyone is flawed, but, this works. That's what makes it so real. The Social Network is not just about FACEBOOK. It's about friendship, greed, and betrayal. It illustrates how far one is willing to go, even if it means risking everything,; even if it means throwing it all away; even if it means sacrificing all of your real friends for 500 million facebook friends. This film is not simply for entertainment. It's art for art's sake. A true masterpiece of our time.
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A Not-So-Funny Story
16 May 2011
It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010), directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, focuses around a teenage boy, Craig (Keir Gilchrist of United States of Tera) and his interactions with other patients after he checks himself into a psychiatric ward. The film is not horrible by any means, but it's not necessarily the most marvelous film I've seen either It's pretty safe to say It's Kind of a Funny Story stays fairly true to its title. Despite it being set in a psych ward, this film is cute and light-hearted. However, I wasn't blown away. The characters were genuine, but I couldn't find much depth to them. Zach Galifianakis, stepping outside his normal comedic roles, proves that he can successfully take on intellectual parts, but this choice may have been a miss for him. Not because he is not talented, just because of bad writing. It's an optimistic film, but highly forgettable. This film just felt out of place in this time. It's Kind of a Funny Story is "kind of" lots of things, but I just can't put my finger on something that it fully establishes itself as. If you need a dose of laughs and loonies I'd stick with Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
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Catfish (2010)
7/10
Highly Enjoyable
16 May 2011
Living in the shadows of David Fincher's The Social Network (2010), Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's Catfish (2010) was at the top of my list of highly anticipated films this year, so I was completely stoked when it dropped into the Champaign area. This reality thriller tells the haunting story of Nev Schulman (Himself) and his budding cyber-relationship with Megan Faccio (Herself). All of the hype over this movie revolves around the shocking 'twist.' A twist so unsettling, you will leave the theatre with complete unease and a handful of questions. Well, folks, they are not lying. However, I have to say that the trailer is entirely misleading. You are actually in for a way better treat than you are expecting. This documentary is absolutely haunting, but in a completely different respect from other hand-held horror flicks (The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Paranormal Activity (2007)) because it is real. It is a product of our time. We live in a world where human interaction is just an emoticon away. You can completely connect with someone without actually ever seeing his or her face. This review is so difficult to write without containing spoilers, but I highly recommend this film. It is a true exploration of identity and the need for human compassion. Catfish will turn you from investigator to voyeur in a mildly suspenseful account of tragic and disturbing manipulation.
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True Grit (2010)
8/10
A Must-See Film
16 May 2011
Joel and Ethan Coen's True Grit (2010) is undoubtedly one of the best films I have seen all year. Westerns seemed to have fallen off the wagon in Hollywood these past few decades, but the Coen brothers have truly worked their magic, once again, to resuscitate this genre. In this beautifully constructed Western remake of Henry Hathaway's 1969 version, 14-year-old girl Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) sets out with an eye-for-an-eye attitude to capture Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who has mercilessly killed her father. In order for justice to be served she teams up with Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a man of "true grit" and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon). True Grit is simple, straightforward (not words one would typically use to describe a Coen Brothers film), but as usual, it's an f-ing masterpiece. What struck me the most about this film was its skillfully crafted ambiance. Everything presented from the costumes to the settings to the dialogue— I felt completely immersed in the narrative. Thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins for that visual thrill-ride! It's pretty apparent that Jeff Bridges had some major shoes to fill in his role originally played by John Wayne. It's safe to say it was a job well done. His style was completely powerful in this unforgettable performance. Every step he takes or word he speaks is done with thought. If there was an Oscar for 'baddest ass' Jeff Bridges would clearly hold the title, hands down. I was also quite impressed with Hailee Steinfeld's performance. As a newcomer to the Hollywood scene, she makes it pretty clear she means business. Even next to Damon, Bridges, and Brolin, she holds an extremely professional and talented composure. This is most definitely not the last time we will see her on the silver screen.
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