JT Film Review

74 – Youth in Revolt (2009)

Youth in Revolt REVIEW

3/5 stars

Director – Miquel Arteta

Cast – Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Steve Buscemi, Ray Liotta, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Long, Adhir Kalyan

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Michael Cera continues his run of awkward teen roles with Youth in Revolt, a comedy based on the 1993 book of the same name by C. D. Payne. The book, by all accounts, has quite a cult following. The movie may get a cult following of its own I think, as it certainly has its own unique brand of charm. Michael Cera is his usual self, but the rest of the cast performs well.

The movie has a great opening and a good last half, but the middle is uneven and stunted. There are moments where it seemed that they were trying hard to earn its R rating (although here in Canada it is just a PG 14.). There would be some hard swearing that would really throw us out of the relatively light hearted tone of the movie. It threw me a couple times, as if it seemed out of place.

This charming tone is helped by a few animated segments, done in a “claymation”/Robot Chicken style. These sequences are mainly when the main character is traveling, etc. The little figures don’t look exactly look like Cera and Co., but they have are absolutely irresistible.

With all the comedic talent in this movie (Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, etc.), the standout performance to me was by an unknown, Adhir Kalyan. His mastery of accents and subdues comic timing is impeccable. He switches with ease from what I think is his native British accent to an Indian accent with lightning speed and wonderful clarity. I personally hope to see this guy get more roles.

OVERALL

While Youth in Revolt has some great stars and a story rich in potential, it just doesn’t quite come together as well as it should. It is draggy, and seemingly without focus, even though the story is quite simple. With some things that should have been played for laughs and aren’t, it is very hit and miss.

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TRAILER

“Youth in Revolt” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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January 26, 2010 Posted by | 3 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Comedy, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment

73 – Fracture (2007)

Fracture REVIEW

3.5/5 stars

Director – Gregory Hoblit

Cast – Ryan Gosling, Anthony Hopkins, David Strathairn, Rosamund Pike,  Billy Burke, Embeth Davidtz, Cliff Curtis

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Fracture is a mostly successful thriller from the director of Hart’s War and Primal Fear. It features the Great Anthony Hopkins as Ted Crawford, a man who killed his unfaithful wife and Ryan Gosling as Willy Beachum, the ambitious and young (is there any other type?) attorney who is assigned to prosecute him.  Crawford regularly taunts Beachum, sending him things in the mail, trying to spook him; while Beachum digs to find anything with which to convict him. The intellectual battle between the two of them is the main focus of the movie.

Fracture starts off quite well. After some excellently shot driving sequences and a brief scene showcasing Crawford’s job as an aeronautical engineer, we are actually shown Crawford’s wife cheating and then getting shot. The fact that we know that Crawford is guilty, and that we have seen him carry out the murder in a quite chilling and cold-blooded manner, builds up his character and makes us root (and fear for) even more for the protagonist, Willy Beachum.

The film unfortunately starts to lose ground about half an hour in. The plot is bogged down with a couple extraneous side-plots, and towards the end of the movie when it starts navel-gazing a bit too much. We have been told that Willy will lose credibility and most likely even a new job if he loses the case, yet we are constantly given scenes where he worries about it, then a scene where he is told that he’s worrying too much, then a scene where he tells someone he is worrying too much, etc. We got the point the first time, and while a little repetition of a theme can sometimes be good, here it is just like a hammer hitting us over the head. Repeatedly. It drags the pace down considerably as well. Ryan Gosling is a good actor, and he manages to muddle through these scenes, but he doesn’t quite save them.

Anthony Hopkins really shines in his role also, and it is a pity that there isn’t more of him in the movie. He can do heartless yet compelling murderer like very few others. (He was Hannibal Lector, after all.) A strong villain really makes a good thriller (we’ve seen this most prominently in superhero movies) but here we want to see more of him. What comparatively little screen time he gets though, is thoroughly enjoyable.

OVERALL

Fracture is a 3 star movie which is made a 3.5 by its stars. Anthony Hopkins is unbeatable, and Ryan Gosling more than adequately gives us a leading man to choose from. The plot is fairly interesting, but we are left with a hunch that the details of the crime and the solving of said crimes wouldn’t quite hold up to closer inspection. However the ride is, for the most part, enjoyable.

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TRAILER

“Fracture” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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January 26, 2010 Posted by | 3.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - Thriller, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment

UPCOMING MOVIES – January 2010 Part II

Upcoming Movies – January 2010 Part II

I haven’t done an upcoming movies list in a while so there are quite a few here, and it is a two-parter (continuing from Upcoming Movies – January 2010 Part I). Just to clarify, this is not a list of My Eagerly Anticipated movies, just an observation of what we see coming to us in the future. (Though some of them of course I will look forward to seeing.) In no particular order, here is the Upcoming Movies – January 2010 Part II post.

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—– Edge of Darkness —–

Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Goldeneye) re-directs a story he has previously done for BBC TV as a mini series. This marks Mel Gibson’s first acting gig after the under-rated Signs. The trailer looks a bit generic though…

Release Date: January 29, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– I Love You Phillip Morris —–

Jim Carrey, talented as he is, hasn’t has a great movie in a while. Team him up with Ewan McGregor and I am definitely interested. While it doesn’t look like the movie will get a huge distribution, I’m sure I’ll see it on DVD somewhere. I hope…

Release Date: March 26, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– The Ghost Writer —–

Roman Polanski’s latest. He can be a hit and miss director, (what the heck was Ninth Gate?) but this looks kinda good.

Release Date: Sometime in mid 2010 —– TRAILER —–


—– The Company Men —–

The trailer for this is very vague, but from what I understand it is about men losing their jobs and dealing with the aftermath. I personally am not an Affleck hater, and would like him to get a good movie, so I’m optimistic.

Release Date: 2010 —- TRAILER —–

—– Chloe —–

I for one think this looks intense. Liam Neesom is usually good, Juliane Moore is well-respected (I’ve never been a huge fan, but I haven’t seen many of her movies), and Amanda Seyfred is good as well. Here’s hoping…

Release Date: March 19, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– From Paris With Love —–

The director of Taken, Pierre Morel, returns with From Paris With Love. This movie adds to John Travolta’s resume of bad ass action roles. Jonathan Rhys Meyers (from The Tudors) gets a lead role here, which is interesting.

Release Date: February 5, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– Repo Men —–

I must admit I’m a big fan of Jude Law, so this movie caught my attention. I’m also rather big on sci-fi, so there’s a double whammy. The trailer, however, looks like a Minority Report rip-off. A man in a system gets in trouble with the system and must fight his way to innocence. We’ve seen it before. And yet I’m still optimistic, I don’t know why.

Release Date: April 2, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

– Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief –

This movie looks like the lamest, by the numbers, rip-off movie I have ever seen. It is directed by Chris Columbus after all. Sean Bean? Pierce Brosnan? Uma Thurman? What the heck are you doing in this? Yes I guess I’m not that optimistic about this one.

Release Date: February 12, 2010 —– TRAILER —–



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What do you think? Interested in any of these? Any other upcoming movies you really want to see? Leave a comment!

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January 22, 2010 Posted by | List, Upcoming Movies | Leave a comment

UPCOMING MOVIES – January 2010 Part I

Upcoming Movies – January 2010 Part I

I haven’t done an upcoming movies list in a while so there are quite a few here, and it’ll be a two-parter. Just to clarify, this is not a list of My Eagerly Anticipated movies, just an observation of what we see coming to us in the future. (Though some of them of course I will look forward to seeing.) In no particular order, here is the Upcoming Movies – January 2010 Part I post.

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—– Sex and the City 2 —–

I think that poster says it all doesn’t it? Whoever wants to see 4 wealthy, beautiful women prance around New York (and apparently Morocco as well) and deal with life altering questions like which purse with which sandals, please raise your hands. Ah, half the women in North America. I guess I’m not the target demographic…

Release Date: May 28, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– Robin Hood —–

Russel Crowe and Ridley Scott team up (for the fifth time) for a decidedly revisionist take on the Robin Hood legend. No green tights here. The trailer is awful in my opinion, but I think because it was badly edited. Lets hope the movie is better than what we see here…

Release Date: May 14, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– The Karate Kid —–

Another remake heads our way, this time of an ’80’s “classic”. Will Smith’s boy, Jaden Smith, stars, alongside Jackie Chan. Apparently the plot will be a bit different, as the filmmakers are making their own story for this one.

Release Date: June 11, 2010 —–TRAILER —–

—– Iron Man 2 —–

One of the best received movies of the last few years has its sequel, due in May. Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard, which should be interesting, and we are introduced to more villains. Movies with many villains tend to be harder to get right, and this one apparently has 2 major ones. We’ll see…

Release Date: May 7, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– Knight and Day —–

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star in this new action comedy. Now I’ve always more or less liked Tom Cruise (couches and religion nonetheless), but this doesn’t really look all that extraordinary. Cameron Diaz seems to me to be a death knell to any movie. Maybe we’ll be surprised, but I doubt it.

Release Date: July 2, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– Furry Vengence —–

Oh good Lord, spare us.

Release Date: April 2, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– Crazy on the Outside —–

Tim Allen’s latest has many stars that we all like and would love to see do well in a good movie. This doesn’t really look like it unfortunately. I for one would love for Kelsey Grammar to get a nice juicy part in a really good movie. He’s proven he can be awesome in a bad movie already (15 Minutes).

Release Date: January 8, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– Grown Ups —–

Continuing in the vein of lame looking comedies with big casts…

Release Date: June 25, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– Greenberg —–

Ben Stiller may not be the first name that pops into your head when you think of indie dramedy, but here it looks like he’s trying to do the “Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love” thing. Personally I’m intrigued. From Night at the Museum to a movie that delves into question of self-identity, purpose in life, and aging? Yes please!

Release Date: March 26, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– Terribly Happy —–

There’s not too much to say about this one, except that it looks interesting. If only this would get distribution like some of the crap that does get circulated.

Release Date: October 2, 2008 (in Czech Republic, not sure when we’ll ever see it) —– TRAILER —–

—– She’s Out Of My League —–

Do we need more of these? Seriously? Do we need any of these?

Release Date: March 12, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– The Bounty Hunter —–

Come on! We’ve seen Butler try the rom-com thing with The Ugly Truth. Yeah, that turned out well…

Release Date: March 19, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– Green Zone —–

It may seem like Bourne 4 (what with the same actor, director etc.), but this one is peaking my interest mildly. When a director sticks with a particular star it can be interesting (Scorcese and DeNiro/De Caprio; Christopher Nolan and Bale/Caine etc.)

Release Date: March 12, 2010 —– TRAILER —–

—– Kick-Ass —–

Kick-Ass is a spoof/loving tribute of superhero movies. It has a lot of geek cred apparently, and is based on a comic book series. It could be half decent I think. You?

Release Date: April 16, 2010 —–TRAILER —–


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What do you think? Interested in any of these? Any other upcoming movies you really want to see? Leave a comment!

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January 20, 2010 Posted by | List, Upcoming Movies | , | 1 Comment

72 – The Hurt Locker (2009)

The Hurt Locker REVIEW

2.5/5 stars

Director – Kathryn Bigelow

Cast – Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, David Morse, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes

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The Hurt Locker follows a hotshot American bomb defuser, William James, as he makes his way through a tour of duty in Iraq. James is played by Jeremy Renner, previously appearing in 28 Weeks Later.

First of all I would like to mention that I am fully aware of the massive critical success of this movie. 97% on Rotten Tomatoes is nothing to laugh at. Maybe I do need to watch the movie again. However, I don’t see what else I can do to try to like this movie. I was extremely excited about seeing it, went in with an open mind, etc. Nothing doing, though. After watching it I realized I did not like the movie at all. Where to start…

The major problem with the movie (in my view) is an extremely episodic and uneven story. I felt throughout that I was watching a series of TV episodes, unconnected except for the main characters and a vaguely similar tone.The most infuriating thing is that some of the individual sequences are quite good, riveting even. But there is very little story here, and what there is is heavy-handed and full of cliché. We’ve all seen the fully dressed guy go into the shower to show his inner turmoil; the rough military guys play-fighting and it gets out of control, thus showing how fragile war makes us, etc etc.

It isn’t like the movie is lacking in ideas either. There are probably half a dozen different plot points touched on in the movie that could have gone somewhere, but instead they stop dead, usually before they’ve had a chance to develop. The young boy whom James thinks dies, the private contractors they meet in the desert, etc. All of these could have been molded into a story, but were not.

I have also never seen a worse depiction of the Iraqi people. Every single one (with one exception) is shown as a jabbering, stupid, illogical savage who must be grabbed, pushed, or cordoned off if there is to be any order in the country. Is Bigelow trying to just show us how the US Army may see these people? If so, that didn’t come across, nor was there any addressing of the huge issues involved in the American involvement in the area. In fact the point of the movie (from what I gather, that war sucks and is addicting) gets buried by little ideological side roads, each one tricking the viewer into thinking that it will be an issue to be explored.

As I said, the movie seems like episodes of a show shoved together. Any story issues are “solved” by just bringing another celebrity in for a cameo, killing them off, and then giving us a meticulously shot explosion. With no story arc, no character development, and with no clear point of where we are going, how can we as an audience expect to care? While I do plan on watching it again to try and see why everyone else seems to like it, I didn’t care about anyone or anything in the movie on the first viewing.

OVERALL

The Hurt Locker consists of some amazing sequences, some extremely contrived ones, and no story to speak of to tie it all together. The performances are good (especially an amazing small cameo by David Morse). But HOW CAN WE CARE if there is no story or any character arcs? Search me.

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TRAILER

“The Hurt Locker” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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January 19, 2010 Posted by | 2.5 Stars, Film Review, Genre - War, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , | 2 Comments

71 – Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Enemy at the Gates REVIEW

4/5 stars

Director – Jean-Jacques Annaud

Cast – Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes, Rache Weisz, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins, Ron Perlman, Gabriel Thomson

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Enemy at the Gates follows famous Russian sniper Vasily Zaytsev, played by Jude Law. It focuses on a prolonged duel with German sniper Koenig (Ed Harris), but also touches on his dealings with a political officer Danilov (played by Joseph Fiennes) and a love interest, Tania (played by Rachel Weisz).

There have been many war movies made throughout the years, and they tend to fit in one of a couple of categories. On the one hand, you have movies about war. Examples would be A Bridge Too Far and Tora, Tora, Tora. These films tend to focus on the larger war effort, and generally have ensemble casts. The other type uses war as a backdrop, while we focus on a handful of characters in the foreground; examples of this would be Pearl Harbor and Saving Private Ryan. Enemy at the Gates is of the latter, yet still branches out enough to show that the main character isn’t all there is to the story. The main criticism of the movie is that the love-triangle story between Zaytsev, Danilov, Tania feels tacked on. Personally I feel that would be a problem if the movie was of the former group that I mentioned, but as the point of this movie is to focus on a couple of people, it worked.

We are shown both sides of the conflict (at least where Vasilky’s duel is concerned), which is interesting and builds up the tension even more. But the best thing about the movie is an attention to detail that should make most other movies blush. Annaud ignores the traditional use of “setup shots”. Often we see a main character (or whoever is the focus of a scene) moving around (before the close up) in the “long shots”, shots used usually to set up a scenes environment before the lead triumphantly makes his way on-screen. It is a seemingly insignificant detail, but it really adds up to create a feeling of a bigger world.

The heart of the movie, however, is the tension involved in a snipers job. Ed Harris and Jude Law have a great ability to say much with little facial expression. Their eyes just burn through their sniper scopes, making the whole war seem to revolve around their battle, ignoring their political ideologies.  Jude Law’s Zaytsev is Communist, but he seems to not know or care what regime he lives under. He’s an average Joe who was drafted into the army, and he just wants to survive the war. Ed Harris’ Koenig is also not interested in political ideology, but just wants to do the job he was brought on to do. He is a professional, and Zaytsev must bring his all to beat him. You want to see tense, you have it here.

OVERALL

While there are a couple of predictable moments, Enemy at the Gates more than delivers. Its combination of sincerity, an insane level of detail, and great acting makes this a firmly enjoyable movie. And… am I the only one who thinks Jude Law is very under-rated?

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TRAILER

“Enemy at the Gates” on other websites:

IMDB —– Rotten Tomatoes —– Wikipedia

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January 14, 2010 Posted by | 4 Stars, Film Review, Genre - War, Year - 2000-2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment