Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Well, didn't Argo do well at the Oscars?! Best movie, best adapted screenplay, and best editing -- not a bad haul at all.

It had always quite taken my fancy, and unimportant Academy Awards notwithstanding, I finally checked it out. It's a true story, y'know, based on a just-so-crazy-it-might-work plan to rescue American embassy workers stuck in Iran in 1980. And a fascinating story at that.

Pretend to be location scouting, give the Yanks some Canadian passports and new identities, and smuggle the muthas outta there. Yep, nutso.

And Heisenberg's involved, so you know it's gonna be a hair-raising adventure! 

Actually, it's a pretty incredible all-star cast, and that can often be a bad thing. But here it all works out fine. All the performances are solid, and nobody has one of those OTT turns that upstages everyone else, thankfully.

Of course, John Goodman is in it, because he is now officially in every movie made since 2004. Are filmmakers trying to make the most of him before he drops dead from his obesity or something? I like him enough, but sheesh... enough already.

Anyway, I really liked it. It was a fun ride with a few laughs along the way, coupled with some great casting of convincing enough lookalikes of the real folks involved. And Ben Affleck did a lovely job at the helm, as well as putting in a decent bit of acting.

Scores: 75 out of 100. And if you don't like that, Argo fuck yourself.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013


I've been kind of interested in seeing Doubt ever since it came out, but what with one thing and another, I never quite got around to it. When it popped up on TV a couple of nights ago, though, I thought I'd stay up and watch.

The titular doubt is what we have as a viewer over whether priest Philip Seymour Hoffman is up to a bit of cloister-room kiddy-fiddling, given that he apparently has taken an unhealthy interest in the only black boy in an Irish/Italian neighbourhood church school.

Meryl Streep launches a bit of a character assassination, even going so far as telling the boy's mother.

The story trots along well enough to keep you interested and guessing. And the performances are not bad overall, though it's far from the best performance I've seen from PSH. Amy Adams was fine, though, and Meryl was okay as a vile old nun.

The direction -- by the writer of the Pulitzer Prize-winning original play and this screenplay, Moonstruck writer John Patrick Shanley -- was a bit pedestrian.

For me, though, ultimately the film was let down by its ending, which kind of made me wish I hadn't bothered with the film at all.

Numbers: 44 out of 100.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Marley & Me

I missed the first 20 minutes of Marley & Me on TV, and to be honest it is a film that was never really on my radar. But dogs are fun and funny, so I stuck with it and found myself laughing at the dumb shit dogs do.

But of course, you know as well as I do that dogs don't live forever. (You did know that, right?) And as sure as night follows day, tragedy follows comedy in quirky American movies.

Listen: the dog dies. And you will fucking cry like a baby.

So, is it a good movie? Well, it's what you'd expect of Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson and a dog. But it's all right for a gentle diversion. (Until they start breeding. Kids ruin everything.)

Score: 60 out of 100 if the wind's behind it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Where the Truth Lies

I don't think I've seen an Atom Egoyan film all the way through until this one. I'm not really sure why. Anyway, I had seen a bit of this one on a previous occasion, and the wife suggested we record it and watch it at our leisure when it came around for a second time in the space of very few months.

The premise of Where the Truth Lies is about uncovering the truth about the murder of a young female hotel worker who was last seen making her way to the hotel room of a cabaret double act, played by Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth. Charged with uncovering the real story is young reporter Karen (Alison Lohman).

Well, the story jumps back and forth from the late 50s to the early 70s with gay abandon, as well as from one person's perspective to another's. It's all quite twisty-turny and a pretty fun ride. It may even benefit from multiple viewings; or maybe that would simply reveal how many plot holes there are! Hard to say.

Good performances all around, although perhaps the set decoration could have exaggerated a little the different eras, since it wasn't always absolutely clear when the hell the action was taking place!

I'd probably watch it again sometime in the future.

Score: let's say 67 out of 100.

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Driven to Kill

Every week, I'm sure, there's a different Steven Seagal movie on TV. The guy must've made hundreds (actually, surprisingly, not even 40), but I really can't say I've seen more than one prior to Driven to Kill. The one I saw before was Executive Decision, and he died about halfway through that, if I recall correctly, so it's not really a Seagal movie, I suppose.

Interestingly, Steve here decided to play a Russian, putting on a hideous accent. But he still came out of it sounding better than most of the cast. I guess he has to work hard to fill his films with as many shitty actors as possible to make him look good. Or as good as possible.

Blah blah blah.

I actually managed to watch the whole thing, though, which I think says more about the state of British TV between 10pm and midnight on a Sunday than it does about the film itself.

Score: 23 out of 100.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

The Artist

Finally, last night I went to see The Artist.

People who know me personally might already know that I really wasn't convinced this film was for me. Not because I don't like silent films (though I admit to not having seen huge numbers of them). Not because I don't like black-and-white films. And not even because I don't like homages.

I just felt, from seeing the trailers, that it didn't look as though it was offering anything original.

Nevertheless, I booked the tickets and found myself reasonably enthusiastic by the time the film came around.

Well, let's not beat about the bush, eh?

What an incredibly slight bit of nothing this film is.

Just fluff, seriously.

It's nicely made. It's nicely played. But the story can be summed up in half a dozen sentences. This film absolutely does not deserve all the awards and accolades piled upon it.

It. Just. Doesn't.

In my opinion, if the director wanted to make a film outside of the norm, he should have gone all the way and made a short. It's all this story deserved.

I give The Artist 48 out of 100.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

When I first heard that David Fincher, one of my favourite directors of the past 20 years, was due to helm a second film version of Stieg Larsson's novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I was not exactly over the moon. Before too long, though, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, if only because there was the original source material to draw from and [ick] re-imagine, thereby (maybe, possibly, kinda) not making this a remake per se. (What d'ya mean, I'm stretching?!)

Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed the book and its two sequels. And I enjoyed the Swedish films, even though the first one was by far the best of the three, and all of them left plenty to be desired. [NB: I watched the "short" versions rather than the extended cuts.]

So, was it necessary to have a "remake" of this story? And is the new take on it significantly better than and/or different from the first?

Let's start with the opening-credits sequence. I really didn't like it. Fincher usually makes good opening credits, but this one left me cold. Yes, I could see the parallels with the story; I'm neither blind nor stupid. But I just didn't like it. It seemed out of keeping with the film and the story, frankly. I had that sinking feeling...

Thankfully, though, from there onwards, everything goes much more to (my) plan, and the plot starts to unfold almost painfully slowly, just like it does in every version of the story. But once all the expostion is out of the way, we get down to the meat in fine style. And this is where it becomes real Fincher territory, of the ilk of Se7en and Zodiac: investigation.

Some random thoughts: Early on, Fincher sticks closer to the source material than the Swedish film did. But he changes things up at the end. Both versions of the film made changes, yes, and of course that is to be expected with any adaptation of a novel.

A bit of comparisony stuff: Fincher's version is better made, too -- of that there is no question. But of course he has the action taking place in Sweden, with Swedish characters speaking English, which is jarring in its own way.

Q&A: Was it necessary to have another film version of this story? Honestly, probably not. Will I watch either version again? Yes; probably both of them.

So, how to score this puppy? Actually, I'm gonna give it 78 points, the same as I gave Zodiac on first viewing. But I think Zodiac is better overall and, having now seen it a second time, deserves to be scored a tad higher.

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Dark

Sean Bean and Maria Bello, ably assisted by Maurice Roëves, star in The Dark: what could possibly go wrong? At the very least, we are sure to see Maria with her tits out and/or getting head (like she seems to in almost every film), no?

Alas, it was not to be this time around, on either count.

Instead, she runs around like a blue-assed fly shouting "Sarah!" a lot, Sarah being the name of her daughter, who is missing presumed drowned on a trip to see her father (Bean) in Wales.

I know Mr Bean (heh heh) has his admirers, but I can't help but say I think he's a really poor actor. I don't think I've ever seen him good in anything, with the possible exception of Patriot Games and an honourable mention for Flightplan, the latter being the only film in which I can honestly say Sean Bean was underused, so awful was everything else.

I can't even bring myself to say much more. Really rather bad. I dunno: 28 out of 100?

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