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An unexpected masterpiece
24 February 2013
I'm not sure how or why or where I heard of this film, and even less sure what prompted me to buy it. I remember being slightly intrigued by the prospect of a (very) dark comedy about a young boy's dramatic life and loss of innocence, but it still stayed on my "to-watch-list" for a very long time. The simple fact is that this film seems to be largely forgotten and ignored, which, as I discovered when I finally watched it, is a real shame. It's the story of Francie, a boy with a depressed mother and alcoholic father, who escapes to fantasy worlds to deal with the real one. One by one the things that are keeping him somewhat sane are taken from him and as they are, he lashes out ever more drastically and violently. All this is set to the background of the Cuban missile crisis, which also enters the story in the last act. What sets the film apart from other such efforts are two things: amazing actors, especially newcomer Eamonn Owens, who plays Francie, that manage to make the story come alive, and a tenderness in the telling of the horrific tale that makes it both bearable to watch and yet drives home the horrible situation even more. This film is not for everyone and there are also many flaws, but it managed to draw me in and fascinate me as few films have done before. If you can manage to get your hands on it, I highly recommend it.
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The Master (2012)
Completely unnecessary
19 February 2013
With this, his sixth film, Paul Thomas Anderson enters the hallowed halls of master craftsmen like David Fincher or Steven Spielberg, by creating a film that is very well made yet completely devoid of meaning, honest emotion or inspiration. It all starts with the end of Joaquin Phoenix service in the navy during World War II, accompanied by a Johnny Greenwood score so painful to hear it could be taken straight from There Will Be Blood. Luckily, Anderson learned from that film and the music becomes bearable before a debilitating headache makes it impossible to follow the storyline further. Phoenix leaves the service insane, probably even more so than before he entered it, and drifts around America looking to piece together a life, unsuccessfully, until he comes across Philip Seymour Hoffman's cult that appears to be modeled on Scientology. What follows is a rather by-the-numbers story about their interaction. Yes, there is plenty here to like. The acting of Phoenix is excellent, while Hoffman partly disappoints, never coming across as charismatic enough to draw so many people to his crazy religion. And Anderson is a very good director. But there is very little reason to watch this film. It really lacks inspiration. It's solid, but there is nothing out of the ordinary here. Anderson's latest, There Will Be Blood, tried for something far greater and while I personally regard it as a failure, at least it was ambitious and daring. This one you can take or leave, it won't make any difference. Just as it wouldn't have made any difference if it had never been made.
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More of the Same
28 January 2013
Quentin Tarantino is quite possibly the master of popcorn cinema - entertaining films that give an illusion of depth while actually being incredibly shallow. This is another fine example of this genre and if you take it for that, you'll be sure to enjoy the film immensely. Especially the first half is incredibly funny and Christoph Waltz shines as the incredibly subtly named "Dr. King" that frees Django and turns him into a bounty hunter. There's good dialogue, decent action scenes and just enough of a story to keep you entertained for almost two hours. Sadly, the film lasts for almost three and would have greatly benefited from some serious editing. At some point, I just wanted it to end, especially when Tarantino's usual gore-fest took over in the last third of the film. If you are trying to find out whether you'll enjoy the film: that's quite easy. If you like any other Tarantino film, you'll like this one. If you don't care for his "style", this one won't change your mind. So really, it's just more of the same, solid albeit uninspired entertainment.
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My Bodyguard (1980)
Minute Movie Review of My Bodyguard
25 January 2013
At his new school, fifteen-year-old Chris Makepeace is bullied, so he decides to hire the one guy everyone is scared of, Adam Baldwin, as his bodyguard. The business relationship soon develops into a friendship as their limits are severely tested. The film doesn't quite know what to do with the premise. It crams a few too many plot elements into the erratically told story and waivers between serious drama and light-hearted comedy. There is much promise here, but ultimately very little pay-off. Solid performances, especially from Ruth Gordon as Makepeace's grandmother, make for an entertaining film, but it's kind of sad to think what it could have been.
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