Archive for the ‘Movies We Watched’ Category

  • Movies We Watched

    9

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

    (3/5)

    2011 USA. Director: Rob Marshall. Starring: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush.

    The best since the original, the two in between were well-directed in need of scripts, here is a film that has a script in need of a director. Rob Marshall is serviceable, and visually there are some great moments (the mermaid attack for example), but you can instantly tell despite the same visual palette and same general actors and characters, something is off, something is not quite right in how they are playing out. It is not the script, it is just as funny and adventure-heavy as the original, but Marshall is no Verbinski, say what you will about the quality of the franchise under his direction, he did give some life to the proceedings, made all the more apparent from his absence here. Despite this deficit, because there is an actual story capable of being followed and because it feels at times like a Allan Quatermain romp in search of the Fountain of Youth, I will gladly take On Stranger Tides over the previous sequels, flaws and all. [Originally published on Letterboxd]
    -ROT


    The Women

    (5/5)

    1939 USA. Director: George Cukor. Starring: Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard, Mary Boland, Joan Fontaine, Virginia Weidler, Marjorie Main, Lucile Watson.

    Don’t ask me to count how many times I’ve seen this movie. I couldn’t do it, and yet every time I’m just as delighted (probably more) than if I were seeing it for the first time. It’s gimmick film to a degree, with its no-men-on-screen conceit, but it hardly depends on that gimmick, relying rather on an incredibly sharp script by Anita Loos (from the play by Clare Booth Luce) and some of the cattiest, most entertaining performances by some of the biggest stars of the era. The dialogue and delivery is enough to praise on its own, but I also love the way it brings so many different perspectives on relationships and marriage into the spotlight. I wouldn’t call it a particularly deep look at marriage, but pretty much everything is represented here, from the woman who loves her husband almost unconditionally, to the young wife who’s still figuring out how to make decisions jointly to the hopeless romantic who’s been married six times to the one who’s just after what she can get to the mother of eight to the matron with decades of experience to the young child who can’t understand why her parents don’t just “do something” to save their marriage. It’s got everything, and everyone has surprises up their sleeves without ever breaking character. Can’t get enough of it. [Originally published on The Frame]
    -JANDY

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  • Movies We Watched

    1

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    The Graduate

    (3/5)

    1967 USA. Director: Mike Nichols. Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross.

    When it comes to classics of American cinema, I usually find myself as something of a sheep – I tend to adore the majority of the classics, oftentimes chalking my opinions up to the consensus existing for a reason. That is not to say that I have not disliked any classic, but rather that I am more willing to overlook the faults and embrace the sense and mood of the halcyon days. With The Graduate, however, I was decidedly underwhelmed, and mostly disappointed. It is essentially a two-part film, half brilliant, half pathetic. The relationship between Ben (Hoffman) and Mrs. Robinson (Bancroft) is wonderfully executed, with their almost palpable shared desire and intimacy. Their interactions – in particular, their reactions to each other’s ebbs and flows within the scope of the affair – are not only believable, but almost voyeuristically so. And, in general, the filmmaking is quite good. However, as the story ventures into the relationship between Ben and Elaine (Ross), the film loses itself in a haze of poor pacing and inexplicable character actions. The crux of the film, at least for me, is this unexpected romance between Ben and Elaine … a romance that is never really explained or explored, finding itself out of place. As a result, I am left with a wholly unsatisfactory climax and conclusion, left wanting for the promise birthed by what came before.
    - DOMENIC

    Netflix Instant


    The Turin Horse

    (4.5/5)

    2011 Hungary. Director: Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky. Starring: János Derzsi, Erika Bók, Mihály Kormos.

    Over a blank screen we’re told the famous tale of Nietzsche seeing a horse being beaten in the streets of Turin, running to the horse, and throwing his arms around its neck, weeping – the beginning of a mental breakdown from which he never fully recovered. But what of the horse, asks Béla Tarr, and of its owners? Instead of the heady philosophy or dramatic psychosis you’d expect from a story that begins with Nietzsche, Tarr gives us a mundane, human, and deeply moving glimpse into a very difficult and despairing existence. The man and his daughter depend on the horse for their lives, such as they are – and we see them throughout a week as the horse, stubborn because of illness, gets weaker and weaker and their own hold on existence gets more and more tenuous. You don’t (or shouldn’t) sit down to a Tarr film without knowing what you’re getting into, and this one is nearly two and a half hours long of basically watching these two people do mundane chores over and over in very long takes. When things are so much the same, the differences become enormous, and Tarr maximizes that by varying camera placements, or by using slight changes in demeanor or action to telegraph the changing states of mind and being of these extremely taciturn people. Settling into the film’s rhythm yields an experience that makes mundanity into something transcendent, and by the end, seeing these two simply sitting at their roughhewn table was enough to bring me to the brink of tears. Tarr has said this will be his final film, and if that’s true, it’s a pretty masterful work to go out on.
    -JANDY

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  • Movies We Watched

    7

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    The Proposition

    (5/5)

    2005 Australia. Director: John Hillcoat. Starring: Ray Winstone, Guy Pearce, John Hurt, Emily Watson.

    Without venturing into the realm of gushing hyperbole, I am uncertain that I would be capable of providing my thoughts on The Proposition. At its very core, it is a story of utilizing the ends to justify the means – kill a monster (your elder brother, purveyor of atrocities), save a saint (your younger brother, tragically along for the ride), so to speak. In this version of the tale, however, nothing is black and white, with dulcet tones of gray (a)morality seeping through every frame – the viewer is fully capable of empathy for the protagonist, but there is no semblance of a cliché ‘rooting interest.’ The acting, particularly from Winstone, Pearce, Watson, and the always impressive Hurt, is top-notch, and painfully believable. The score and cinematography are brilliant, drawing you into the well-crafted environs without hesitation. And yes, I am painting with broad strokes, with the hope that those who have not yet seen The Proposition will do so immediately, and experience the film without bias or stilted expectations … beyond my own admiration.
    - DOMENIC


    Mission to Mars

    (2/5)

    2000 USA. Director: Brian DePalma. Starring: Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen.

    Made a deal with Andrew that if I rewatched Mission to Mars he would rewatch Red Planet. Clearly, I got the short end of the stick. I have grown to like a handful of DePalma’s films, and know all too well how inconsistent he is with the quality he puts out. I remember loathing this film when I saw it in the cinema; now, over a decade later, I am merely seething. The film does a decent job of depicting Mars, more so than Red Planet, and it pleasures in the afterglow of Kubrick’s 2001 with all of the play inside the spaceship. The script, however, is insufferable, eye-rolling on repeat insufferable. The difference between this and Red Planet is Red Planet never forgets it is a b-movie, and while some of its dialogue is equally bad it is contained within a film that is shorter and lighter, it feels like a dumb escapist movie whereas Mission to Mars feels like it is trying to teach you something about humanity. The final revelation of what is on Mars and what it means is all celestial and self-important and misses the mark so entirely it is laughable. Also, I will take Val Kilmer and Carrie-Anne Moss over Gary Sinise and Tim Robbins (and Jerry O’Connell!) any day. Don Cheadle, what the fuck are you doing in this movie?! It hurts to watch him try his hardest to make the dialogue work, if there was ever proof of his talents it is how hard he tries to make something out of nothing in this script.
    -ROT

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  • Movies We Watched

    2

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    Red Planet

    (4/5)

    2000 USA. Director: Antony Hoffman. Starring: Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Benjamin Bratt, Tom Sizemore, Simon Baker, Terence Stamp.

    This is my kind of B-Movie… one that actually takes itself deadly serious but remains no less shitty and fun to watch. I enjoyed this so much I am almost inspired to rewatch DePalma’s Mission to Mars to see who out-camps who. The writers of Red Planet sought to compile the most space cliche elements they could find into 90 minutes, it is kind of remarkable how many films it emulates, worthy of a drinking game. Despite being the captain of the spaceship and worthy of some nominal authoritative import, Carrie-Anne Moss is perpetually leered at by the camera, including a goofy shower scene, and some downright absurd nipples-popping through shirt shots as she barks order over an intercom to Houston. Now that is my kind of captain. Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore are at that point in their careers where they still got it, and they are pretty fun to watch. Terrence Stamp fumbles through the film with some of the worst dialogue to spew, as the writers crowbar in the science vs. religion theme in laughable doses. Despite all of these goofy parts of the film it at times is surprisingly competent visually, some interesting ship and costume design, a couple interesting action sequences. I am giving it four stars not because it is so bad it is good, but because it is that unique hybrid where the bad parts are fun but there are good parts that kind of hold it all together to make it as a whole, an enjoyable space romp.
    -ROT


    The Sitter

    (3/5)

    2011 USA. Director: David Gordon Green. Starring: Sam Rockwell, Jonah Hill, Max Records, Ari Graynor.

    Not horrible, but not very good either. At this point, David Gordon Green needs to earn back my trust before I see anything he does ever again. Jonah Hill is kind of funny and he keeps the movie watchable. I definitely lol’d a few times. I also liked the idea of giving each of the kids their own story arc even if it is kind of shallow and obvious. It was interesting watching this movie with Adventures in Babysitting sitting at the forefront of my brain. Comparing and contrasting always gives a film some sort of merit. Altogether, funny bits but fairly disposable stuff.

    Jonah Hill is funny.
    -ANDREW

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  • Movies We Watched

    4

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    The Iron Giant

    (5/5)

    1999 US. Director: Brad Bird. Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Aniston.

    It seems as if many view The Iron Giant as a precursor, of sorts, to the (allegedly) greater things to come from Brad Bird and Pixar as a whole. There is a grain of truth embedded in there, as Pixar has yet to have a true ‘miss’ (though I have not yet seen Cars 2) and two-dimensional animation has sadly become a relic, of sorts. Rest easy, as this is not going to become some half-assed or preachy bit of nostalgia … at least no more so than it already is. Rather, I feel that The Iron Giant has unfortunately been lumped with the somewhat underwhelming middle ground between ‘classic animation’ and the Pixar juggernaut … and yet The Iron Giant is, in my mind, the very best that the animated medium has yet to offer. The animation is crisp and beautiful, the characters are fleshed-out, believable, and lovable, and Michael Kamen’s score is simply stunning. Moreover, I am not sure that any recent film has crafted a greater portrait of 1950s sensibilities, particularly insofar as the Cold War is concerned. Would it be blasphemy to suggest, if not outright state, that this is a better version of E.T.? Perhaps … but it’s true.
    -DOMENIC

    Netflix Instant (USA)


    Alien

    (5/5)

    1979 USA. Director: Ridley Scott. Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt.

    A masterpiece of genre splicing in sci-fi and horror… for the art house. What makes Alien stand the test of time is it’s unwillingness to try and look futuristic and cool; rather it spends it time worrying about how the film looks, not what it should look like based on the time setting. It also works like a good Hitchcock thriller in its tension building. And dammit, did this thing win any awards for its sound design? Because it damn well should have walked home with a win for every nomination it received in this respect. Watching the Blu-ray of the theatrical cut really does seem like watching the movie anew. For the first time, my eyes were finally open to the gorgeous, artfulness of every conceivable detail.
    -ANDREW

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  • Movies We Watched

    32

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    There Will Be Blood

    (2/5)

    2007 USA. Director: Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Dylan Freasier, Ciaran Hinds.

    A beautiful looking but otherwise empty movie experience that has nothing much to say about anything, and this, irrespective of the glowing praise by the likes of Tarantino. Everything goes down just as one would expect, without much of a fight, just aimlessly going through the motions of belittling Church and Commerce, and guess what, money doesn’t buy you happiness. I am a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson but frankly the two stars I am giving this have more to do with Johnny Greenwood’s killer score and Daniel Day-Lewis’ grizzled performance. Everything else is as plain as the desert landscape this story is set against. Scholarly papers have been written about the choice use of camp in the final scene, to me it still just feels like a movie desperate to do something, anything to seem special.
    -ROT


    A Separation

    (5/5)

    2011 Iran. Director: Asghar Farhadi. Starring: Leila Hatami, Kimia Hosseini, Merila Zarei.

    Ego. Shame. Fear. Guilt. All are underscored here insofar as problems can spiral out of control when people push each other to the limit. Even moreso, A Separation shows the true ineffectualness of any bureaucratic legal body to sort out problems that are best suited to dramatization. Thus, we are armed with the God’s Eye view, and A SEPARATION appeals to logic, empathy, and yes, judgement. It’s the Iranian version of THE SWEET HEREAFTER, in its own way, and damn if that isn’t a compliment of the highest order. I had a plethora of reactions to the film and all of them, I believe, were earned. That is to say: the film doesn’t ‘cheat’ (sorry for opening a can of worms) by going all Lars Von Trier with its plot points. And that ending is perfect.
    -KURT

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  • Movies We Watched

    5

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    Everything Must Go

    (3.5/5)

    2010 USA. Director: Dan Rush. Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Michael Pena, Laura Dern.

    This is Will Ferrell reminding us that he can do more than his usual loud comedy schtick – which gets tiresome quite quickly – and proving he’s a more than decent dramatic actor (he did the same thing with the underrated Stranger Than Fiction a few years back). Ferrell plays a recovering alcoholic whose wife leaves him, and as a result leaves all of his belongings on the lawn. With nowhere to go and pressure from the law to move on, he decides to hold a yard sale to buy himself some time. Nice supporting performances from Rebecca Hall and relative newcomer Christopher Jordan Wallace and a script that walks the comedy-drama line pretty well. Altogether a little too slight to leave much of a lasting impression but a pleasant, enjoyable watch nonetheless.
    -ROSS


    Pickpocket

    (5/5)

    1959 France. Director: Robert Bresson. Starring: Martin LaSalle, Marika Green, Jean Pélégri, Dolly Scal, Pierre Leymarie.

    The film postulates that humanity cannot find salvation without first making a lot of dumb and irrational mistakes. I do not disagree with this assessment. Salvation for our eponymous compulsive thief comes from a woman who, at the time it is safe to assume, was the most attractive woman on the planet (Malika Green, who apparently is Eva Green’s aunt). Three things struck out at me visually while watching this brand spankin’ new 35mm print of the film: First, the director favours his actors constantly walking at the camera from the long distance in a single unbroken shot. It happens often enough that it has to be intentional. I’m not sure what that means in terms of story, but it has the effect that the thief is coming for you, or your wallet, or your to await your judgement. It’s a pretty swell visual strategy. Second, there is a wallet-theft montage which takes place in a train-station and on a train in the latter third of the film that is pure joyous art. Really wonderfully done. Third, the splicing right before fade out transitions is so obvious such that you can perceive the cut every single time by a brightness shift. I wonder how often this was the case for films of that era, because never was it more obvious here. I know we should leave these things intact, but really, someone should fix that, it’s distracting and pulls you out of the film.
    -KURT

    Hulu Plus (US)

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  • Movies We Watched

    19

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    Stalker

    1979 USSR. Director: Andrei Tarkovsky. Starring: Alisa Freyndlikh, Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy, Anatoliy Solonitsyn.

    Stalker asks the big questions by asking why we ask the big questions. A film this dry and humourless (but ultimately, quite hilarious) could only be made in Russia. It bleakly proposes that art, science and religion are all male dodges to responsibilities at home, which I guess questions the very nature of why the film itself exists. I’d say this is ripe for a SCTV or Monty Python parody, but I guess, The Meaning of Life kinda covers some of the bases. Ultimately, it’s doom and gloom (pre-Chernobyl in the same way Fight Club is pre-9/11) premise says to me, “It’s not the end of the world, it’s just the end of the fuckin’ day.” (Apologies to Tony Burgess, and Pontypool for that…)
    -KURT


    Intolerable Cruelty

    (4/5)

    2003 USA. Director: Coen Brothers. Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones.

    Some would classify Intolerable Cruelty as a minor Coen Brothers work and I suppose that actually would be accurate. But as often stated, lesser Coen Brothers is better than 90% of the shit out there. And this movie is solid solid solid. Even with all the cliche tropes of conventional movie making (slow claps, fingers on the lips, etc.) the Coens somehow manage to make it their own and everything in here is goofy fun with pure magic backing it up. George Clooney recently gave the “performance of a lifetime” in The Descendants, but damn if his turns in Coen films aren’t right on the heels of that performance. He knows exactly how to ham it up for the camera and he is outright hilarious here. All of the side characters are of almost equal charm and hilarity – gotta love Billy-Bob as the paper-eating oil man. The story feels predictable but mysterious at the same time and every moment feels fresh and new – even though you’ve seen it before. The Coens have stuck with the same DP and set decorator since Miller’s Crossing, and even though this one is a bit brighter and glossier than their other works, these attributes of the movie stand tall. In short, fantastic Friday night date movie that everyone should love. If you don’t love it, we’re divorced.
    - ANDREW

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  • Movies We Watched

    1

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    Here

    (5/5)

    2011 US. Director: Braden King. Starring: Ben Foster, Lubna Azabal, Peter Coyote.

    A longer review is forthcoming, but I felt it prudent to scribble down a few thoughts as I will likely re-watch Here prior to providing more fleshed-out thoughts. At this juncture, however, I am uncertain that I saw a superior film from the 2011 calendar year. Foster and Azabal were jointly and severally fantastic, displaying beautifully believable chemistry whilst maintaining their independent characters and characteristics (and without stumbling into the cliché). The cinematography and editing were reminiscent of a Malick or Herzog film, both in terms of fluidity and beauty, with King and cinematographer Lol Crawley conveying landscapes and scenery through both elemental and humanized means. The lack of discussion to-date (as well as the lack of a proper release) is equal parts maddening and saddening, and I’m very hopeful that Here begins to generate some buzz.
    -DOMENIC


    Haywire

    (4.5/5)

    2012 USA. Director: Steven Soderbergh. Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Bill Paxton.

    For me, this is exactly what a popcorn action movie should be. It’s not cerebral, it’s not complicated, it’s not flashy, and it doesn’t rewrite any rules of the action thriller genre. But it is solid, well-shot, well-acted, well-directed, as clever as it needs to be, and has some of the best fight scenes I’ve seen ever. The story is pretty much what’s laid out in the trailer – Gina Carano is a private security operative, she’s betrayed by her employers, and then she beats the crap out of them. Carano’s MMA background shows; every hit looks (and sounds) sickeningly real, and the way she moves, the way she fights, even the way she runs are all totally believable. Soderbergh knows just how to support her, too, holding long shots instead of cutting away, as if to say, yeah, she can really do this. But it’s not just a showcase for a fighter – the story is simple, but it works, and Carano is nearly as convincing an actress as she is a fighter (her rawness actually works to her advantage), and the supporting cast is all superb, fitting in perfectly with the ’70s aesthetic Soderbergh pulls out here. I’d trade most any big-budget blockbuster if we could get two mid-budget action films like this in their place.
    -JANDY

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  • Movies We Watched

    2

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) HuluPlus (US only) or just on You-Tube, we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    Moscow-Cassiopeia

    (4/5)

    1973 USSR. Director: Richard Vicktorov. Starring: Misha Yershov, Aleksandr Grigoryev, Vladimir Savin.

    Clearly, in the early 1970s, episodes of Star Trek, The Prisoner and prints of 2001: A Space Odyssey were sneaking through the Iron Curtain and finding their way into the impressionable minds of filmmakers. Every strange in-camera technique – from the Alien3 Wide-Dolly shot to the kaleidoscopic lens to a fish-eye shot (actually from a fishes eye in this case) – was used in conjunction with some pretty spiffy production design to yield a fun feast for the senses. The film is aimed at children, as the protagonists are 15 year old kids trained up on earth and sent on a 50 year space mission to the star system Cassiopeia such that they will be 40(ish) when the vessel arrives. But these kids are smart, and the script is smart; Einstein’s Space-Time relativity is discussed at length (maybe too much), as is the concept of folding space, and Star Trek’s Holodeck and Q are both effectively used here 16 years before the ST: THe Next Generation Show even was made! It may be a kids adventure, but it is never dumb-ed down. Even sweeter is that the thrust of the character development of this young space crew centres around a folded sheet of paper love note passed around in school. It’s a superbly acted (by actual 15 year olds) and well told story that a lot of care and money were invested – the soundtrack alone is wonderful – and very much worth your while looking up the DVD or watching in 8 parts on Youtube.
    -KURT

    YouTube


    Adolescents in the Universe

    (4.5/5)

    1974 USSR. Director: Richard Vicktorov. Starring: Misha Yershov, Aleksandr Grigoryev, Vladimir Savin.

    Not wasting any time, and arriving with clearly a lot more money and strange ideas, the sequel to Moscow-Cassiopeia finds our 15 year old crew accidentally breaking the barrier to faster-than-light travel (a fortunately placed worm hole, or the films “Q” – named ASA – meddling again) and arriving at their destination 25 years too early. Here they discover more The Prisoner references (those white security balls), but also a race of albino-bipeds that have been conquered and ousted by their own created machines. The machines want to make their creators so happy that they relieved them of responsibilities, creative impulsiveness, and eventually, the will to live. Looking like Daft Punk (with bell bottoms, and freaky dance moves to boot) the machines split up our intrepid adolescents until they can figure out a way to escape and thwart the fascist/Cylon/AgentSmith regime. Something tells me the production design team for David Lynch’s DUNE spent as much time with Adolescents in the Universe as they did with H.R. Geiger’s concept art. For all the remake-itis going on in Hollywood (in TV land), nothing makes a stronger case for a modern update in long-form TV than Vicktorov’s pair of films. It could be made into the greatest ‘smart-kids’ television, period! As it stands this is a true cult-kid-cinema experience. Watch for the ‘defective obsolete robot ‘husband and wife’ in this one, they are great.
    -KURT

    YouTube

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  • Movies We Watched

    14

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

    (4.5/5)

    2000 China. Director: Ang Lee. Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Pei-pei Cheng.

    I was pretty pleasantly surprised at how amazingly well this films holds up after almost 12 years; both in its wire work and it’s visual prowess. The storytelling is as simple as it is classic. Watching with English dubs makes it feel even more like a classic Kung-Fu movie but with the beautiful look only a hefty budget can provide. The choreography is still a marvel and loads of fun. Top notch Chinese actors help make this classic tale light years more impressive than a corny Kung-fu film of the late 60′s/70′s. Though it drags a bit in the middle, this comes by highly recommended by yours truly.
    - Andrew

    Netflix Instant (CANADA)


    Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

    (4.5/5)

    2010 US. Director: Eli Craig. Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden.

    Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a worthy successor to the superlative Shaun of the Dead, ably bridging the divide between horror and comedy without sacrificing quality. While this is certainly more dependent upon slapstick and shock value than its British predecessor, it did not sacrifice any characterization or charm in doing so – and I certainly found myself attached to the characters within the first act. Labine and Tudyk play off of each other wonderfully, and their bantering, quirks, and mannerisms solicited more laughs than the over-the-top violence and mayhem (which is truly impressive). Also of note, the cinematography and audio editing are very impressive, and the attention to detail is top-notch.
    - DOMENIC

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  • Movies We Watched

    3

    Sometimes we watch stuff that we want to talk just a little bit about, not a full review worth. These are those films. If any of the films reviewed are available on Netflix Instant Watch (US or Canada) or HuluPlus (US only), we’ll note that by putting a direct link below the capsule.


    Trust

    (4/5)

    2011 USA. Director: David Schwimmer. Starring: Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato, Jason Clarke, Viola Davis, Noah Emmerich, Chris Henry Coffey.

    I had been avoiding David Schwimmer’s film about online sexual predators for a while because it had the potential to be an absolute disaster that mishandled the subject matter. Luckily that wasn’t the case. Although a little on-the-nose, Schwimmer’s latest effort is actually an affecting and powerful little film, one that should be important viewing for those wanting to know about the potential dangers of children surfing the web. Crucially it doesn’t paint the entire idea of using the internet as bad but just alerts to some of the possibilities. And it’s truly amazing Schwimmer went from Run Fatboy Run to this.
    -ROSS

    Netflix Instant (USA)


    Repulsion

    (5/5)

    1965 UK. Director: Roman Polanski. Starring: Catherine Deneuve.

    An early Roman Polanski masterpiece that tracks the mental breakdown of a young Belgian woman, Carole (Catherine Deneuve), as she tries to make a life for herself in the hustle and bustle of London with her sister. Imagine being a literate cineaste in the 1960s just having just seen the previous year’s candy coloured French musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (a coming out party of sorts for Ms. Deneuve as a major new film star) and then selecting Polanski’s film to get more of the same only to receive a black & white cramped apartment mind-fuck! Miss Deneuve tackles the role with relish, gets raped and has a sort of misplaced revenge before a climactic mental and physical collapse. Half is in the mind, half is in reality, but the audience gets the complete package of horrors doled with with an exacting precision that belies its loosey-goosey camera-work and overabundance of supporting characters. Repulsion has been called “Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho turned inside out” and certainly it has its own fair share of surprises and lasting images; not the least of which is reportedly the first on-soundtrack-if-not-onscreen female orgasm to be shown in regular British Cinemas. I’m not sure if there is a conscious subtextual inversion of Alice in Wonderland, but rotting and skinned rabbit is might be a clue. The closing shot may be a revelation of sorts as to why things are happening to poor Carole, (and it is a doozey in retrospect that is prescient of a litany of other Polanski themes) but here it is as much the journey as the destination.
    -KURT

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