Friday, December 23, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Steven Zaillian

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker.

I declare The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the best film of the year. David Fincher has done it again, created pure gold. It was hard to imagine this book being made into a movie, again, after the success of the previously adapted film series but Fincher knew what he was doing and it all started with the casting of the main character Lisbeth Salander, Rooney Mara.

Lisbeth is a socially awkward, computer hacking, rape victim that brings a powerful punch whenever she is on the screen. If you have read the books then you know to expect some graphic scenes with Lisbeth and Fincher was not afraid to show these scenes. In fact, these scenes locked Rooney Mara for an best actress nomination, maybe even a win. Daniel Craig was great as well, but was on the back burner compared to Mara.

The film stayed very to the books storyline and was a close adaptation. It being a lengthy book, it was a long movie at 157 minutes and got to include everything, including the long ending. It all leads into the second novel but it was a 20 minute ending that could have been wrapped up quicker.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a thriller at its best. With a terrific mystery to solve, heart pumping suspense and great chemistry and acting from Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, it is not a film to miss. I really hope and would not be surprised if this is a hit, which could mean we can get the other two installments. If this happens, Fincher must direct it otherwise I would prefer no movie. As great as Mara was and her power to control the movie, nobody would be able to keep the same tone and direction Fincher just created.

Rating: 9.5/10

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish

Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock's ancestor. But someone else is in search of the ship.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this film. The trailers looked just okay and I had never read a Tintin comic before. But it did not matter, as the amazing motion capture animation, the spectacular camera movements, and clever editing sucked me right into the adventure of the film right from the opening credit sequence, which set the tone for the entire movie.

Spielberg really was the right choice to helm this project. He completely understands how an adventure story works and has even stated that Tintin was a huge influence on the Indiana Jones films. His choice to use motion capture was his best idea though. It would not have worked as live action with the dog and he wouldn’t have had the camera movement range if it was all CGI, and the camera movement made the movie. With one of the best scenes being a motorcycle chase done with no cuts through a village.

So I was trying to figure out whether Tintin was a kid or an adult. He looks like a kid and everybody calls him kid but sounds like an adult, carries a gun, lives in his own apartment. I hear the comics also keep his age ambiguous but this bothered me a little bit as did his annoying catchphrases. It shouldn't bother me because it is staying true to the comic, but I have never read it so it bother me.

If you have read the comics then you will surely fall in love with this film. I did the research and it stays true and accurate to the comics which is always nice to hear. It was a fun film that took you on a wild ride with some laughs along the way. I will not be surprised if a sequel is made, but I would have to dissaprove if Spielberg was not apart of it, since it was very obvious his mind was behind the heart of the film.

Rating: 7.5/10
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (129 min)
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Written by: Muchele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney

Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.

I am not going to lie, when the first Sherlock Holmes film came out, I was not that big of a fan. I mean the film was entertaining but it was just okay and I thought something was missing. Well, this time around Guy Ritchie must have found that something, and put that something into A Game of Shadows, because this film rocked. It was well paced, witty, funny, smart, great action and one of the most untraditional, traditional Hollywood endings, if you follow my logic.

Well, I hope you can follow that logic because if you can’t, your in trouble because my only quarrel with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is that it can be hard to follow at times. There is so much going on and Sherlock is such an intelligent character that when he battles wits against Professor James Moriarty, you now have two characters that are super geniuses working against one other. Although this film really demands your full attention, it is fun to be inside the minds of both of these characters.

What makes this franchise so great is the bromance between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. I think the chemistry between the two of them is one of the strongest duos on the big screen. Downey Jr. gives a manic on the verge of psychotic performance and he makes a heroic and comedic action hero. The action scenes were fantastic, as Ritchie takes Sherlock’s logic and slows down the action again. This time around, he used this trick more often, which I thought was great. If you have scene the trailer, then get ready for the great slow motion action through the woods, because it is a wild ride.

I am happy to say this is a sequel that was better than the first, as this rarely happens. If you want to go see a fun, smart movie around the holidays then Sherlock Holmes is for you. 

Rating: 8.5/10
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Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Written by: John Orloff

A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays; set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her.

What a poorly structured snore-fest. In a world that questions whether Shakespeare was a fraud, Roland Emmerich, takes an interesting concept and hacks at it with a machete. Not only structurally but historically. Emmerich and John Orloff (the writer) claimed that this film was “unbelievably historically accurate” and “obviously a lot more people do think Shakespeare wrote the plays. Obviously, in my movie, he didn’t, so a lot of people will say that’s not historically accurate and they are totally welcome to that opinion. But, the world within the movie, that that story takes place in, is incredibly accurate, like the Essex Rebellion and the ages of the characters.” So he pretty much just said that this movie is accurate based on the fake world I created. Also facts on the Essex Rebellion and the characters are not completely accurate. It’s worth the research.

Anyway, right from the first 25 minutes, I had already given up on this film. They start you out in modern times at a theater, then flash you back to the time of Shakespeare, then flash you back 5 years earlier, and then flash you back even further another bunch of years that is not specified. I couldn’t believe how sloppy it started out and the film never got back on its feet. 

The film was also full of crappy costumes and horrific acting. The only actor that held his own was Rhys Ifans, the only star of the film. The films lack of star power hurt this film because this film was full of stand still scenes of just conversation. I couldn’t take a lot of the conversations seriously because of the “traditional” outfits they were all wearing. I think it was a little over the top and it only made be think the acting was worse. 

I apologize if you have already seen it, because everyone that has deserves their money back. I do not recommend this film.

Rating: 2/10
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Friday, December 9, 2011

The Sitter

The Sitter
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka

A comedy about a college student on suspension who is coaxed into babysitting the kids next door, though he is fully unprepared for the wild night ahead of him.

I am surprised how much I liked The Sitter. If you liked Pineapple Express and Your Highness than this movie is for you. David Gordon Green has become the go to director for the action comedy. What should have been a quiet night of babysitting blows up in Jonah Hill’s face and everything goes wrong. From coke dealers to gangsters, from kick boxers to bat mitzvahs, this film takes you everywhere and gets you laughing along the wild ride.

The Sitter is a film that really tries to push the line of what is comedy. In one sense it is your classic Jonah Hill comedy and you tell his humor is written all over it but then you get some over the top scenes, like Sam Rockwell being a coke dealer surrounded by a bunch of gay weight lifters and believe it or not it kinda works. But along the way, I think there were some lines crossed with Jonah Hill’s character, Noah, dealing with the kids. If you have a twisted mind like me, you will find it funny, but I am at least aware that it was kinda fucked up. 

The real reason you should go see this film is for the three child actors in this film. Each with a very distinct characteristic that makes them hilarious. Especially the little girl, played by Landry Bender. The first twenty minutes of this film when everything and everybody was being introduced was just non stop laughter. From that point on it was still hilarious and gave me belly laughs but their were some slow parts where Jonah Hill just sat down and talked about how his life is shit and he needs to change, which made the film drag a little. For a 75 minute film this shouldn’t happen.

Either way I recommend checking this movie out as it is a comedy that can not be missed. Plus this is the last film fat Jonah Hill will appear in, so you don’t want to miss that. It will be interesting if audiences will still find him funny now that he is in better shape. 

Rating: 8/10
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Take Shelter

Take Shelter
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Written by: Jeff Nichols

Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.

I don’t know if you have checked out the trailer for Take Shelter but it is an enthralling experience. I mean the trailer hooks you in and makes you want to see more, but this trailer’s intensity is misleading, since the film’s intensity was just the opposite. In this 120 minute feature about a man who is losing his mind and trying to figure out why, it just dragged on and on. I looked at my phone to check the time 45 minutes into the film and every 15 minutes after that. It’s a shame that the Boardwalk Empire boys (Michael Shannon and Shea Whigham) wasted such great performances on such a slow, unsatisfying film.

The film follows Michael Shannon’s character, who is hard working small town man just trying to get by with the money that he and his wife (Jessica Chastain) makes. On top of money issues they have a daughter that has lost her hearing. When Shannon’s character starts having hallucinations and delusions about a storm coming he starts building a storm shelter to protect his family, even though they are short on money. Only thing, his family and everybody else in town thinks he is crazy for doing this. 

Michael Shannon is a fantastic actor. If you have not gotten chance to see Boardwalk Empire, you should. Not only because it is a great show, but because Shannon puts on some phenomenal performances. He continues his good work here in Take Shelter. Shannon straddles the line of sanity as he also tries to be a husband and father. His emotions all bubble under the skin until one day he snaps in front of the community in what made for the most powerful scene in the film. 

I think this film would have been a lot better if say 30 minutes were cut out. By the time the ending came, I didn’t have very much interest. But I think of what could have made it a better ending. Shannon was a Noah figure and nobody would believe him that everybody should build an Ark (storm shelter).

Only check this film out if you want to see the performance of a possible best actor nod but otherwise miss this one, since you won’t get a fulfilling story and will most likely be let down

Rating: 3/10
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Friday, December 2, 2011


Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: John Logan

Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.

Martin Scorsese is a genius behind the camera. Hugo is unlike any other film Scorsese has ever made, but might be the closest film to his life. I mean it must have been so great for him to make a film about one of the fathers of narrative cinema. Scorsese’s Hugo is a homage to the silent cinema, specifically the films Georges Melies created and the overall backstory and the main points made about Georges Melies’ life are accurate. I am currently taking a Silent Cinema class and Hugo was relevant to what I am learning, which made it that much more enjoyable.

I think what will surprise many people is that Hugo is not a kids movie. It is family friendly, but the film gave something a lot deeper then a family friendly children's movie. Not only is the film heart warming, but the visuals are spectacular. Right from the very opening sequence I was entranced. The way he dissolved clockwork into the city of Paris was unbelievable. 

As much as this was a film about a young orphan who lives in a train station, it is very much about Melies and his early cinema which was lost. Scorsese uses vintage clips of Melies cinema and re-imagines his work, doing recreations. He also used 3D to show them in a way that Melies could never do or dream of, but I am sure if Melies was still alive he would be simply amazed. Ben Kingsley played Melies and put on a spectacular performance.

As for the young ones in this film, Asa Butterfield (what a name) and Chloe Moretz were both fantastic. At some points I couldn’t believe that the two of them were just children because they were making such powerful performances. Asa Butterfield was just cast as the lead in the upcoming Enders Game project and I can’t wait to see him in it. As for Chloe Moretz, I love everything she has been in up to date, Kick Ass, 500 Days of Summer, her cameo in 30 Rock, and now Hugo can be added to this list. Both of these actors have great futures ahead of them.

This film really hits a soft spot, and pulls at the heart cords, but Sasha Baron Cohen was an added pleasure in this film. Always coming in at the right moment to give you that comic relief. 

There is not too much to say about what was wrong with this film. The only thing that felt off was that Hugo’s father’s death affected his life so greatly and the resolution of the film did not seem fitting to his life altering experiences. Either way it was barely noticeable and did not bother me. This was a wonderful film to watch and hopefully will spark a love for film into the younger audience, to join the ranks of cinema lovers like me and so many others. 

Rating: 9/10
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