Posts Tagged ‘2009’

The Hangover – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, September 29th, 2010


Having your bachelor party two days before the wedding in Las Vegas is a bad idea – especially when the groom-to-be is missing. So the three friends try to figure out just what the hell happened in their night of debauchery and hilarity ensues. No, seriously, it actually ensues. Despite nothing in the film actually being particularly funny, the film as a whole is quite hilarious – no idea how they pulled that off. Probably by being better craftspeople than I am.

Random Observations:

The Hangover at the IMDb

Zach Galifianakis, of the unpronounceable name, is probably the funniest ingredient in this very entertaining film. He plays the not-all-there brother-in-law of groom-to-be Justin Bartha.

I wonder: is Bradley Cooper in any way related to Chris Cooper? Probably not, but the new IMDb design doesn’t allow me to painlessly look it up. And it would be very funny if it were the case. So I am just going to pretend that he is Chris’ son.

The comedy here is painted in such broad strokes, that it is sure to appeal to almost everyone.

Antichrist – Minute Movie Review

Montag, September 6th, 2010


After the loss of their only child, Charlotte Gainsbourg is overcome by grief while her husband Willem Dafoe, a therapist, decides that he himself should help her. They go to a secluded cottage in the woods where things quickly get out of hand as her delusions begin unhinging their life. Brilliantly acted, perfectly filmed, the film is one of the most abhorrent films I have ever seen. Brutal and unrelenting, the film is anything but a pleasure to watch. But the story, the mythology and the themes make it worthwhile – and give you plenty of opportunity to muse about the film afterwards, even though what you really want to do is purge your mind of the images.

Random Observations:

Antichrist at the IMDb

Lars von Trier said that he tried to make a horror film with this, but ultimately failed. As I see it, however, he made a much more horrifying film than any of those so-called horror films today. Saw XVII or whatever they may be called.

Co-produced by just about every country in Europe (Denmark, Germany, France, Sweden, Polen and Italy, to be precise), set in the US, and filmed in my home state, Nordrhein-Westfalen.

I’ve wanted to delve into Lars von Trier’s work for a long time, but I’m not sure whether this was the right starting point. Especially since the film does not even follow the Dogme 95 rules. At least I sincerely hope it doesn’t.

Personally, I found the opening sequence, set to a beautiful piece by Georg Friedrich Händel (‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from the opera Rinaldo), much worse to bear than any of the psychological and physical torture and mutilation later on.

I briefly considered making this Lars von Trier Week, but I really need an easy comedy now.

I Love You Phillip Morris – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, Juni 1st, 2010


Jim Carrey starts out life as a good family man, but then he decides to openly declare his homosexuality and live the life he wanted. This is a good idea, but it turns out that being gay is very expensive (at least if you lead Jim Carrey’s lifestyle). So he becomes a con man, constantly increasing the games to make more money. When he is finally caught and sent to prison, he meets fellow inmate Phillip Morris, more commonly known as Ewan McGregor, and, you can have guessed it, falls hopelessly in love with him. The film, based on a true story (in Texas, of all places!), is a good mix of comedy and drama, but often slips on that fine line. Jim Carrey is a far cry from his best dramatic work and the depressing ending casts a pallor over the light entertainment the film often is. But hey, it’s still extremely funny and certainly pushing the boundaries for main-stream Hollywood cinema, which is always a good thing.

Random Observations:

I Love You Phillip Morris at the IMDb

This unscheduled post was brought to you by the fact that this film is currently in theatres in many countries and it would be a real shame to deprive people from reading my expert opinion on it before they see it, so I wasn’t going to push it to September 17th…

Speaking of pushing the boundaries for main-stream Hollywood cinema: the US release was postponed several times and it now looks like the film will at best get a limited release. It would be certainly interesting, what the regular Jim Carrey fans would think of this film – and one scene in particular. If you’ve seen the film, you know which one I’m talking about.

Ewan McGregor in blond and with a disappearing Texas accent is very odd. Good, but a far cry from his best work, which is truly great.

Best bit: when the hardened prison inmates pass along love notes between the two men.

In real life, con men are horrible. In films, they are amazing fun!

Fantastic Mr. Fox – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Mai 26th, 2010


Mr. Fox has gone straight since the birth of his son, but he still wants nothing more than one last big heist, taking on the hen houses and cider cellars of his three human neighbours. They, in turn, decide to retaliate, and so the war is on. Based on Roald Dahl’s beloved book, this stop-motion animation by director Wes Anderson is a fun extension of the story, a funny film that is fun to watch. Anderson’s signature style, a combination of a bright palette, a lot of whimsy and something to far removed from words, lends itself perfectly to the animated format. The film doesn’t have the depth that his best works – Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums – have, but it’s simple good family entertainment.

Random Observations:

Fantastic Mr. Fox at the IMDb

Saying “cuss” instead of “fuck” or “shit” might have done wonders for the rating, but is damn annoying. (This post has been rated “R” by the MPAA.)

Some great talent is voicing the characters, including George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman.

Who does Eric Anderson, who voices Kristofferson, sound like? He reminded me of another actor, but for the life of me I can’t figure out who.

The film has only 12 frames per second (compared to the usual) 24 to ensure that everybody recognizes the stop motion technique.

Ajami – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, März 17th, 2010


Ajami, at the southern end of Jaffa/Tel Aviv in Israel, is a district made up of poor Arabian families, both Christian and Muslim. The film follows several characters as they make their way there, in a world where crime often seems like the only option and everything can change at any minute. Central is the story of a family whose eldest son fears to be killed for what his uncle did after his neighbour is mistakenly assassinated. The story spreads from there and is sadly told in such a confusing fashion that the ultimately satisfying pay-off, when the different threads come together, is too late to save the film. Nevertheless, it is a ruthlessly realistic look at a world that is governed by principles, both religious and political, that are hard to comprehend to an outsider and have lost all reason for those living in it.

Random Observations:

Ajami at the IMDb

The film was nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film, but lost to the Argentinian entry El secreto de sus ojos. This was the third year in a row that an Israeli film was one of the five nominees.

Directed by two young directors, one a Jewish Israeli, the other an Arabic Christian. The film is largely in Arabic, although some passages also deal with Jews and thus are in Hebrew.

Oscar Predictions and Preferences – 2010 Edition

Samstag, März 6th, 2010

Award Season is Crazy Season. If you follow these things at all, you have been bombarded by information about the superiority of one film above another for months now. If you blissfully ignore all that stuff, you might even not have heard that a producer on The Hurt Locker is in trouble for trying to convince Academy voters to vote for his film instead of Avatar. His crime: sending an e-mail to his friends. Yes, things are crazy. So it is a good thing that with the Oscar telecast on Sunday, Award Season will be over. Until May or so, when the first discussions for next year’s favourites and winners will begin once more.

But before the Oscars, the most important of all the meaningless awards, are handed out on Sunday, it is time for my annual Oscar predictions. Last year, I picked 19 of the 24 winners. This year, let’s try to improve on that. But unlike last year, this year I actually feel like I am entitled to my own opinion, having seen 20 of the 58 animated films, 18 of the 38 feature films, and actually having seen all nominated films in three categories. So not only will I now predict the Oscar winners as promised, I will also tell you who should win. (Yes, my opinion constitutes objective truth in these matters.) The following list is ordered rather randomly and incomplete, an alphabetical and complete breakdown of all categories and predictions follows at the end.

(weiterlesen …)

Crazy Heart – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, März 4th, 2010


An alcoholic former Country star, now reduced to living in squalor and playing in bowling alleys, reconsiders his life when he meets a young journalist and falls for her. The story of the film is fairly trite and unoriginal, and the direction by débutante Scott Cooper is lacking in many ways, but the film is nevertheless made bearable by decent actors who take their caricatured characters to a better place than they belong, and some truly great Country music.

Random Observations:

Crazy Heart at the IMDb

The film is nominated for three Oscars. Best Actor for Jeff Bridges (okay, par for the course for him), Best Supporting Actress for Maggie Gyllenhaal (not okay, she is far below her usual standards here) and Best Original Song, The Weary Kind, which is all kinds of awesome.

This concludes my pre-Oscar Oscar-nominated film-watching. I have now seen 20 of 58 nominated films or 18 of 38 if you don’t count the shorts and documentaries, which nobody does any way. Tomorrow: my big Oscar piece with winner predictions, including the ever popular “Who should win” aspect, and Sunday the Awards show.

I actually really like Colin Farrell’s performance as the young pretty-boy country music superstar.

In sharp contrast to the cast of Nine, the actors in this film can actually sing.

Nine – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, März 3rd, 2010


In 1960s Italy, a master director tries to recover from two flops, but while everyone is set for his new film, he hasn’t yet written a single word for the script. He examines his decay while being influenced by the seven women who have shaped his life. The best that can be said about the film, based on the Broadway musical, which in turn is based on an Italian musical, which in turn is based on Federico Fellini’s Film , is that it is not as terrible as most reviews make it out to be. It’s a decent enough musical that suffers from an absence of plot and an array of characters that remain bland, which is especially surprising when one considers the acting talent involved.

Random Observations:

Nine at the IMDb

Nominated for three Oscars, for Costumes, Art Direction and Penelope Cruz as Best Supporting Actress, which is surprising, considering that the only actress with even a half-way decent performance is Marion Cotillard.

I really, really hate it when people playing foreigners in a film fake their accents. It’s one thing for the Italian to have Italian accents when they speak English, but since all of the dialogue in the film is really in Italian and just translated to English so the viewers can understand it, there is no reason for the fake accents. But that’s not even the worst here. Most accents disappear and reappear throughout the film, most notably Daniel Day-Lewis’, where it is so distracting that his performance apart from this is barely noticeable.

Also annoying: inserting random Italian words into the English dialogue to “add flavour”. Grazie and Prego do not make the film more Italian than Thank You or Please.

Fittingly, the musical number with the title “Nine” that could have actually shed some light on why the film is called that, was cut from the movie version.

The Lovely Bones – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Februar 24th, 2010


A bad story poorly told – and yet not a completely worthless film. Based on the novel by Alice Sebold (which people assure me has a much better story than the film), the film unsuccessfully tries to tell both the story of the murdered girl Suzie Salmon in between heaven and earth and how her family tries to cope with her death. Now, the art direction and the cinematography of the film are great and the actors really try, but the film never finds its footing and has no emotional resonance whatsoever. It’s (rightfully) in love with the perfect visuals, but since those add nothing to the story, they are pointless and ultimately just a distraction. There might have been a good film in there somewhere, but it’s almost impossible to find.

Random Observations:

The Lovely Bones at the IMDb

Stanley Tucci is nominated for an Oscar for his performance as the creepy murderer.

Saoirse Ronan plays the lead role, but never reaches the greatness of her Atonement performance. Mostly, she is simply not given enough to work with.

The plot is riddled with holes and the intent of the story – to show how a family deals with the loss of a child – is completely lost.

The film features extensive voice-over narration that rivals Harrison Ford’s original Blade Runner narration for worst ever. Only not because of the delivery, but because of the content.

If I understand it correctly, most of the scenes with Rachel Weisz as the mother were cut from the finished film, which certainly would explain the disjointed nature of her storyline.

The comedic intermission with grandmother Susan Sarandon doing housework was the most horribly awkward and painfully misplaced scene I have seen in a long time.

Invictus – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, Februar 23rd, 2010


In Post-Apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela is elected president. He struggles with the reconciliation between black and white people that he knows is necessary for his country to have a future, so he decides to task the national rugby team – a sport just for the white people – to win the world cup and bring the nation together. The story, based on true events, is predictable enough, but it is well staged and powerful enough to be moving on its own. The political messages mixed in with the average sports underdog drama make the film a bit unusual, which works to its advantage. It’s not a great film by a long shot, but it’s good enough.

Random Observations:

Invictus at the IMDb

Morgan Freeman in the lead role is very good and very convincing. He certainly deserves the Oscar nomination he got.

Matt Damon as the captain of the rugby team, on the other hand, is rather bland. My guess is he got nominated for the Dutch accent he sports.

The nicest staged interactions between the (formerly) warring factions are those between the black and white bodyguards of the President.

I don’t know much about rugby, but it’s certainly a more interesting (and intense) sport than its American cousin, which they call football despite having the ball in their hands all the time.

I’m always fascinated by the power of mass sports events to bring people together and bridge their differences. Smart move by Mandela to use that for his political goals.