Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Post on Win Win at

I've posted a new film review--finally--at a new blog: That's probably where they'll be going forward unless I  get a bunch more follows or comments asking me to come back here, which I'm doubting. But if you're reading this, thanks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Contagion & The Conspirator

This was definitely not a feel good film, and it did border on being a horror movie, which aren’t my usual type of cup of tea. It was well made, well acted, and suspenseful. Not escapist, either, nor very close to it. So if you have fun at horror movies, you might not have as much with Contagion. The real horror will probably be felt by people with OCD-type tendencies, and for the rest of us, well, there isn’t much to make you feel too good. If you’re someone who is hygienically disgusting, then I would recommend that you do watch Contagion and pay attention, however.

Generally, this is a better movie than the majority of them being put out. I was a bit surprised at first that the guy who wrote The Informant! wrote this one as well, but only because of the genre switch. I think he could have a real gem on his hands if he can fuse the tones of that previous film with the one in Contagion, or rather meet them in the middle for another film, one where there’s the usual display of intelligence but also opportunities for the audience to feel like they can smile.

The Conspirator

I enjoyed this one, and also felt a loss of faith in earthly, absolute power afterwards. I read the book Lies My Teacher Told Me, about how certain high school and college textbooks present history in boring and inaccurate ways, and the story in The Conspirator seems to me to be one which the author of Lies My Teacher Told Me might possibly approve of to be included in his ideal history book.

I can't elaborate on that without spoiling the film, but I will say that I don't remember much of the events that The Conspirator depicts being taught in any of my high school history classes, but perhaps I would've paid more attention if they had been mentioned--aside from the already well-known "John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln" thing. Perhaps some current students will be fortunate enough to have a cool history teacher who'll show The Conspirator in class.

Anyway, this post over at's forum can pretty much sum up how I liked The Conspirator, excepting the gripe about lens flares, which I didn't notice during my viewing of the film.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Paul & The Debt


Well, Paul was a bit of a disappointment to me. The stuff about religion is already well documented, and that was a let down for me too, but the first thing that took it down a  notch was the realization that this was going to be another “alien on the run from the government” film. I guess, for the first time in awhile, I wanted less plot, or rather less reliance or obligation to one, and more “hanging out” for the characters, seeing more of what Paul could do when not under stress. Maybe next movie, when the cast doesn’t include an extra-terrestrial.

The Debt

Great movie, but not easy to watch. The unease is a consequence of well-directed scenes calling for pain and blood, and these scenes deliver, almost, if not necessarily. There’s two time settings here, one close to modern, and one in the past. Helen Mirren anchors the later time setting, and she’s excellent--no surprise there. And Tom Wilkinson plays a damned dirty bastard--real good at that, he is. The earlier time setting is great because of the inter-play between the main characters--three actors with a nice range of emotion among them. And the guy playing the younger version of Wilkinson’s character is pretty good at being a bastard, but he’s no Wilkinson. Helen Mirren’s counterpart is haunting.

The Debt isn’t like smooth James Bond, and it’s not even smoother than Casino Royale/Quantum of Solace Bond. Well, it’s not James Bond at all. I only bring that name up because the characters in The Debt are secret agents. And to me, they can be put up there along Bond, closer to Bourne (as in 'Identity'), but more real than both. And The Debt is a real good one, whether you’re a fan of James and/or Jason, or not.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Arthur & Rango


There wasn’t much that’s terribly original or special about Arthur. But I really liked it anyway. Russell Brand did a great job, pretty much playing himself, but he’s the best at it, and I find him and his fast quips entertaining. Helen Mirren shined as well. Maybe she’s too good an actress to be in movies like Arthur, but I’m glad she doesn’t think so, or at least didn’t let any thought like that stop her from being in it. There’s a great chemistry there with Brand, and it was able to provide for some really touching moments. Again, not terribly original or special, and definitely not perfect, but I was more than satisfied with it. I’d love to see more films with the Mirren/Brand tandem.

Also, Arthur makes me believe Brand could be a good fit doing something with the director of 500 Days of Summer. I don’t know if that would happen, with demand for Brand possibly having waned considerably--as Arthur likely underperformed at the box office--but maybe such “failure” will give Brand a sort of openness to seek out smaller budget films with filmmakers who shine in such films, allowing Brand to stretch out even more, dramatically.

Brand really does have a side of him that makes me believe he can go there and do it well. Certainly, his could be an interesting career to track, and I do hope that it is. I’d consider Arthur a good one on his resume.


I liked this. I fell asleep somewhere in the middle, but not really due to the film. It didn’t last long, and what I saw from that point until the end was pretty nice. I wish they had really were able to have Clint Eastwood work on this. But as it stands, it’s really good. The music was great. Liked the humor, and the animation was top notch.

Friday, August 5, 2011

On the Marvel Studios Flicks

My problem with the Marvel movies since the magnificent (--I know, I’m in the minority in this opinion--) Incredible Hulk is possibly boiled down easiest to one issue. That issue is editing. I was hyped for the Avengers movie after Iron Man, but there wasn’t a mention of it until the after-credit scene of that film. And then Incredible Hulk comes along, and instead of giving that film the Avengers-thing scene the post-credit treatment, the editor went ahead and made it the pre-credits rolling scene (the final scene of the film), when it obviously doesn’t end the film in the best way the way the scene before that one did (where Edward Norton’s eyes turn green and we cut to black).

Then Iron Man 2 comes out, and the whole movie is Avengers-things, basically. Thor makes about half of itself an Avengers thing, and then Captain America goes back to the way Hulk did it, with a scene with Samuel L. Jackson to close out the film, plus one with him as well post-credits, going into a teaser for the Avengers film.

So yeah, with the exception of Iron Man 2, and Thor, it’s pretty much editing. Also, maybe I would’ve been happier if, before we get a movie where everyone meets for the first time, there are movies where some meet each other first. Perhaps instead of Iron Man 2 and Thor being made into independent films of their own, they could’ve made that one movie, somehow, where they end up crossing paths, teaming up, kicking butt, etc. Maybe that’d make for one good film instead of the two okay ones we got.

I’m not sure I’m still hyped about The Avengers (and that probably means I’m not) now, because of my issues pointed to above, but I have at least a little bit of faith in the director, Joss Whedon. So I intend to at least rent the thing when it’s available.