samedi 29 décembre 2012

Pleasantville — A profound movie with a light hearted facade — 10*/10

Pleasantville can be enjoyed by everyone and watched on a regular basis. The depth of its analysis on how we judge others, how we facet ourselves to fit, on bigotry, education, and civil society is well hidden by an all enveloping funny light tirade.

Anyone can enjoy the humor of the movie, which has a rib-cracking prevalence in the beginning. However, if you so choose, you can easily explore all the issues it brings up as the story line develops.

All the characters are well played. Tobey McGuire is certainly giving a much better performance than in any of his Spiderman movies where there's little room for psychological development. Reese Witherspoon is adorable as she explores the evolving duality of Jennifer. And Joan Allen will tug at each and every one of your sensible chord.

Visually, its all subtleties and perfection. The dialogs are powerful, the story entrancing, the editing flawless, as is the scenario.

You can watch it many times, until you get every nuance, and then you'll watch it some more just appreciate the real nature of the movie and how it all comes together.

A must.


vendredi 28 décembre 2012

Good Advice — A light romantic comedy about a guy hitting rock bottom and redefining himself — 7*/10

Good Advice is the sort of movie you can see over and over and over. I know I do. It's easy on the eye, charming, slightly insightful, positive, and entertaining.

Charlie Sheen's acting is a bit pinched, though, but it's still good. Most character are a bit over played, but in line with the comedic tone of the film. I love Angie Harmon's character, I find it so cute and charming, in lots of little ways, but I suspect she might be at the edge of what she can do. Still, can't help rooting for her.

The advice column itself is quite insightful, and well written. If a columnist could write with such a voice, it would be popular indeed.

See it whenever you want to be lightly entertained and see a cute relationship.


The Witches of Eastwick — A light magical comedy about empowering women — 7*/10

The Witches of Eastwick is a light comedic tale about women in a small town, their status as single parents or divorcé, and about magic.

The story itself and the plot are quite interesting, well written, directed and edited. No complaints on that level. You're rapidly plunged into the thick of it, and everything moves at a rather rapid pace. Each scene is well set and linked with the others. The intrigue thickens with each one passing, and the end is nice, logical, and well rounded.

Now for the bad. The three main female characters are probably the least well acted. Cher's, from the get go, is over acted or maybe simply over done, but in Hollywood, that happens often at the beginning of movies. Michel Pfeiffer's is probably the most balanced and best acted of them. Susan Sarandon over does hers in the middle of the story. Maybe that's the director's fault, maybe he pushed them a little too much.

That being said, I must say that some of the monologs of Veronica Cartwright and Jack Nicholson are impressive in delivery and content.

It's a movie that's easy to watch and will make you think if you stop a minute to consider the implications. I recommend it.


jeudi 27 décembre 2012

The Lord of the Rings — An epic trilogy for all, a must for fantasy lovers — 8*/10

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is comprised of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.

At over 9h of playing time, it is not for the faint of heart. Even I, who has lived and breathed medieval fantasy for over 20 years do not listen to it in a single sitting. This Holiday Season, I even took three nights to watch it, and took breaks mid-movie, at the change of disk, to have a bite.

That being said, it is absolutely worth it. You'll get immersed in and transported to the universe of Tolkien to live a most epic of saga. The visuals are breath taking, the story gripping, and the characters well played.

Now, the special effects are aging a bit, not enough to lessen the experience, but noticeable. Some still look extremely good, like the Nazguls, the Balrog, the orcs, and the oliphants.

You might find the dialogs are a bit over sentimental at time, but they never fail to bring a tear when drama is near.

The single faceted Legolas seems to be the extent of what Orlando Bloom can play, but the tween girls love that elf. On the other hand, Vigo Mortensen's performance of the brooding scruffy Aragorn is excellent, and probably the best performance of the lot. Women of all ages fall that ranger. Close second to him, is Gollum.

My favorite chapter? The Moria. I've always been fascinated by it, and it's extremely well rendered.

All in all, it's a must see, a landmark of our time.


lundi 24 décembre 2012

Star Wars — The original trilogy — 7*/10

Star Wars, the original trilogy which includes Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, is a timeless classic.

I'll make this short:

Mark Hamill is the worst actor of the bunch, Harrison Ford, the best. The soundtrack is impeccable.

Concerning Lucas' revisions:

The modifications done to A New Hope, especially the Greedo-Shot-First debacles, and all the cut scenes with those less than appreciable CG creatures.

The Empire Strikes Back fared much better. The enhancements clustering around the city in the clouds are more subtle, better integrated, and led credence to the story.

samedi 22 décembre 2012

Transformers — A lot of bang, action, and special effects — 7*/10

Transformers, the first installment, brought me back to my childhood right away, especially since they got the original voice for Optimus Prime, my unconditional favorite. With impeccable visuals and special effects, seeing on the big screen was an incredible experience for me.

Even without watching it in theater, it's a lot of fun. It's a roller coaster thrill ride, with a punchy soundtrack of epic proportion and likable characters.

Now for the bad. The dialogs are a bit too easy, it kept to its roots in that aspect. Shia Laboeuf's character can be a bit unnerving with its over-dialoging, especially in the beginning, since you haven't really had time to get to know him. The story line is unimaginative and the characters one dimensional. Finally, lots of departure from the original stories and robot design can break the mood for hardcore fans. That last was most probably to please a new generation and have all cars of american design, which is really lame.

That being said, it's difficult not to enjoy this flick, if only on a superficial level. The men in the audience will certainly appreciate Megan Fox.


vendredi 21 décembre 2012

Cruel Intentions — High society teens ruining the reputation of others with sex and deceit — 10*/10

Cruel Intentions is the perfect romantic drama. This fruit did not fall far from the Romeo & Juliet tree. Romance, love, plots, and drama are all turned modern and splendidly rendered. Add to that a great soundtrack, beautiful shots, tension, hot eroticism, sex, and you get the perfect mix for that type of flick.

All the actors are playing their best game, without exception. The story line is gripping, interesting, and it delivers without fail. The twists are numerous, non-repetitive, and scandalous.

This movie showed everybody that Sarah Michelle Gallar could play anything, because this role is as far from the vampire slayer as you can get.

A must see.


mercredi 19 décembre 2012

The Green Hornet — A nice silly action caper — 7*/10

The Green Hornet certainly isn't a serious movie, but I wasn't asking it to be, especially not with Seth Rogen. The action scenes are good, same as the photography, the special effects and the car. The dialogs are slapstick and appropriate to the tone of the film, which fits Mr. Rogen perfectly (unsurprising since he is a writer/producer on the piece).

The bad guy gets silly by the end, even though he starts really serious (except for his gun). I guess he caught whatever infects Seth on a daily basis.

The take on the anti-hero is a mix between the goofball and the over eager. It's a good thing the whole flick is silly, or it might get weird. Let me reassure you, the silliness stays reasonable, because it's not repetitive and the actors do not let themselves become caricatures.

It's not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but if you're feeling like watching something funny with a lot of bang, you'll be entertained.


lundi 17 décembre 2012

Domino — A brilliant if violent action movie — 9*/10

Domino is nothing short of brilliant. The action (except for the RV flipping head over heel), the editing, the score, the subject, and the ending. It also goes for Keira, Mickey, Lucy, and that priest. Awesome.

Most of the actors were pretty good, some less so, but all in all, nothing to complain about, really. The movie is heavy, so I had to take off a star, because it's not easily digested by everybody.

Beyond that, what can I say? The story line is gripping, even if the in depth material didn't bring any new stuff. I'm thinking about the mafiosi and the casino owner cross deal, as well as the FBI. The none linear story telling is not new, but well used. So is the staccato of images, and the off-color finish.

If you have no aversion to violence, it's a must see.


dimanche 16 décembre 2012

Four Christmases — Funny comedy with an interesting idea — 6*/10

Four Christmases is funny, but a certain number of flaws make it less appealing to me.

First off, Vince Vaughn uses some of the same tricks he did in Wedding Crashers, but at least he's toned down a bit. For the most part, though, the acting is good, if purposefully over caricatured, even Vince. Reese Witherspoon is obviously leading the pack. Robert Duval is not far behind: you just love to hate his character.

Second, the scenario gives us two characters with out of the box ideas at the start, but we loose them by the end. Well, not completely, however, it's enough to put a damper on my appreciation.

Lastly, there are some illogical sequences of event in the story, especially at the start.

Despite all that, it's still funny, and the premises are quite original. If they could only have continue in the same vein, the final product would have been great.

If you wanna a see a positive Christmas story with an interesting setup that requires very little thinking, I think you should go for it.


Dirty Girl — A rough comedy with good values — 6*/10

Dirty Girl is well named. That girl certainly has an uncouth attitude. I liked her right away. The scenario doesn't bring much of anything new except that liberating sensation you get when you watch a promiscuous girl be the star of a film without an undertone of she-should-change-her-ways. Everything is in the rendering, particularly the acting.

The 80s/redneck campy attitude can get on your last nerve by the end because it's heavily plastering everything, and the end itself is kind of overdone, but that's on purpose to give it a special feel. I could have lived without it.

You hate the guy's father, find his mother very sweet, and finally can't help but understand the girl's real father.

If you want to watch a different comedy, with a touch of drama, it could be for you. It's entertaining.


samedi 15 décembre 2012

Women in Trouble — Hot, interesting, open-minded, and at time quirky medley of lives — 8*/10

Women in Trouble has bright colors and several captivating story lines. It's all about sex really, but isn't life about sex? Of course it is.

The ideas presented in this movie are of the open-minded sort, which I adore, to the exception of the recurring fact that anybody in the sex industry should be trying to get out. Beyond that, you get taken in for a nice ride, with events that surprises you at time. It's a bit quirky, funny in passing, and never dull.

The acting is good. However, it could have been better but that might be the fault of the scenario or the director. The rest is pretty much invisible, which makes for fine entertainment. The only negative would be that the whole could have been a little bit tighter, more researched.

If you're looking for a bit of drama, a bit of sex, some laughs, and a jumble of scenes all about women that tie up together, then you should watch it.


The Housemaid — A rich Korean family, a new housemaid, and sex — 8*/10

The Housemaid (original title: Hanyo) will present to you a young woman trying to take her destiny into her own hands. She lets her desire run free and the result is a very hot sex scene.

The scenario is nothing new, but the plot is interesting is not always obvious. The intrigue of that high class family is very interesting.

The house is gorgeous, the setting push, and the actors beautiful for the most part.

If you're in the mood for a asian subtitled drama about the a rich family and its secret with a dark humorless story and a steamy undertone of sex, you should watch it.


It's All Gone Pete Tong — From rave king to nothing, how do you get up? — 9*/10

It's All Gone Pete Tong has a incredible dichotomy. You go from rave scenes with large uncontrolled crowd to complete isolation. From incredible super loud techno music to silence. The man looses it all, yet finds something.

The settings are captivating, the music is off the wall, the acting on spot, the scenario very interesting, the situation unusual, and the drama gripping. What more can you ask for?

Well, you have to like techno music and its usual scene to appreciate fully, but it's not a prerequisite, really. The fall is very human in nature, as is the end. You'll smile, I guaranty it.

Take a peak at least, and you'll finish the movie, I'm sure.


Transfer — A German sci-fi about eternal life, romance, identity, and human rights — 8*/10

Transfer is a slow movie that will gently pick you up and make you face reality. It's all about life eternal, what we humans are ready to do, what can technology bring us, to what extent should we embrace it, and how much control do we have over our future.

The technology itself is totally bogus, but that is extremely easy to ignore. Once the situation is set, conflicts arise. You never know exactly where you're going to end up, and the screen writers make sure you get what you need to keep your eyes riveted to the show.

The disappointments are few. A bit slow, not a lot of action, and subtitled. That's about it.

See if if you're ready for an unconventional romance set in a sterilized view of the future.


Slovenian Girl — An Eastern European call girl trying to get an education — 8*/10

Slovenian Girl (original title: Slovenka, alternate title: A Call Girl) will give you many chills, but it's not a suspense. It just presents the facts. It's not always pretty, it never gets dirty, it has its good sides, some bad too... neutral seems to be the theme.

You'll see her origins, her work, her life, all in a quiet voice. Drama will not become action, pain will not be torment. However, being used to Hollywood, you can expect to be gripping your chair a bit, because all the trappings are there, just not that pre-chewed scenario that would lead you to jump out of your seat.

I can only pull a few negative points: the colors are a bit off, the camera work very simple, and the story a bit sombre. My guess is it's low budget movie that was able to pull off a great performance.

If you don't mind reading subtitles, go for it.


X: Night of Vengeance — A really bad night in an escort's life — 8*/10

X (Night of Vengeance) will get you blood pumping. All along the ride you will want the two girls to get out of it clean, but trouble will hound them mercilessly.

It's gritty, it's dirty, it's sexy, it's not what you want to happen when on the job. You get to see the two very different sides of a single coin. You'll enjoy, because you'll get to understand some things, and imagine many others. It will grip you and it won't let you go until it is finished with you.

A few things are off with this movie. Sometimes, you want a tighter scenario, editing, a more experienced camera work, or more fine tuning on the dialogs, but it's easily forgivable.

Watch it only if you're ready for suspense and a good dose of the underground.


About Cherry — A sweet little movie about a sweet little girl and porn — 9*/10

About Cherry pulls every punches to make sure you can see Cherry's sweet side. Reality is there, you can see it clear as day, but the story is all about her innocent nature. The bad things are presented, but not dwelled upon. You get to know her and by the end you just wish to get to know her more, that's how sweet she is.

The camera moves are well chosen, the point of views and focus done just right. The scoring is just as sweet as the main actress and all the characters are well played. The scenario is a great balance in time and subjects, presenting you a lot of tidbits, in a concise manner that you can easily ingest.

It's almost perfect. The only reproach I can make is that it is so sweet, it has no punch. I must admit, I didn't care that it didn't. I will watch it again many times, that is a guaranty.

Easily listening. I highly recommend it to the naughty one waiting for a candy inside of you.


vendredi 14 décembre 2012

The Grifters — What is the best con? Who's getting conned? — 6*/10

The Grifters will twist your head around until you're unable to tell who's conning who. The uncertainty is very entertaining and will keep you guessing until the end.

However, there's a few problem with the movie. First off, the score. Instead of being invisible and underlining the  visual, it can at time jar you into reality. Second, the two main actresses are inferior to what John Cusack is doing. Actually, most other actors are pretty average if not below. Third, the "mob" felt cartoony. Fourth, the blood and injuries are so fake, I think I could do better. Finally, it's old enough to look like a period piece out of the eighties, but was made to seem current. That felt odd.

All in all, it's entertaining, just don't mind the odd things lying about.


Killing Them Softly — Gritty realistic crime movie — 9*/10

Killing Them Softly has the very idea of Pulp Fiction behind it: people involved in crimes are real people too, not just criminals. The result is slice of life of those people.

The difference lies in the way it is presented. KTS is less comedic than PF, it has laughs, but not that surreal effect that comes close to caricature. It is a more realistic version without all the flowery prose, with more in your face camera moves, instead of the odd, yet effective, choices that Tarantino makes.

Pitt is excellent, and I like his choice of tone. A very mature Brad, letting us know he can do things in a more muted format.

Violence is there of course, the rhythm is very casual, the story interesting, and the bits of action gripping.

Very effective movie. I highly recommend, unless you can stand that kind of violence. The only reason I didn't give it a perfect mark was the fact that being a very brutal film, I won't able to watch it as often as my favorites.

See it, well worth it. The theatre will bring an addition dimension, but it that's my point of view.


Skyfall — A much more personal James Bond — 7*/10

Skyfall has the basic requirements of a Bond movie, hot women, action, soft intrigue, and easy dialogs, but it's missing many of the other clichés, such as at least one torrid sex scene (we barely have the beginning of one) one or more Bond girls (in the sense that he develops some kind of relationship), a world threat, the villain's second in command, and the gadgets.

The villain is there, but he's not interested in world domination, or some such, he's going after individuals, for personal revenge. How prosaic. I imagine it's on purpose, but that's not what I want from a James Bond. The new Q is annoying to say the least, and we're missing the iconic equipment, and their excessive use.

All in all, it's an acceptable movie, and an easy entertainment. Do not look here for the thoughtful camera moves, the interesting editing, the smart diatribe, or riveting story. This is your basic blockbuster, no more, if a well made one.


lundi 10 décembre 2012

The Butterfly Effect — A sci-fi suspense about alternate life timeline — 10*/10

The Butterfly Effect is a gripping suspense. I saw it twice in theatre and both time I was in thrall of the scenario, the first time, I even jumped out of my seat. It's imaginative, with flawless logic and powerful character buildup.

It puts up Ashton Kutcher as a major actor by showcasing his more dramatic and serious side. The romance leads the story, but remains a side character. What really captivates the audience are the questions: "What will happen next?" and "Why did it happen?" What keeps us coming back, is the details and the soulful rendition of each persona. You might love them, you might hate them, but you sure want to see them again.

This should be on everyone watch list. Do not miss it. Rent it, buy it, or borrow it, but you must see this.


samedi 8 décembre 2012

High Fidelity — A movie about a breakup with humor and lots of intelligent inner monologues — 10*/10

High Fidelity is another of my all time favorite. John Cusack excels at brooding philosophical monologs loaded with sarcastic humor, and this movie really makes him shine.

He plays a sort of half-decent asshole which he admits being. However, the jokes and the situation makes it hard to see and kind of love him, which in turn enables you to really appreciate the whole story.

The characters are well played, Jack Black is his exuberant early self, and even the other sales clerk provides us with a lovable quiet self-effaced persona (a great balance to Cusack and Black). John Cusack himself is great, if a tiny bit over the top (which makes the movie, I must say), and his sister, Joan, is particularly well casted.

The dialogs are near perfect, the montage is without reproach (I especially like the one live mental alternate possibilities), and the soundtrack amazing.

See it, especially if you like lots of smart text.


Groundhog Day — A deceptively sweet comedy packed with details and some romance — 10*/10

Groundhog Day is one of my very favorite movie. I watch it on a regular basis because it is packed with details. It's easy to appreciate right away, but its richness takes a while to seep into you because of the subtle way it's presented to you. Only a year ago I finally understood the depth of the evolution of the main character.

It's funny, the laughs are numerous and the humor contagious. The romance is key, but almost secondary. The cameraman and the insurance salesman are the only characters that really tick me off, but they still fit well within the whole movie and do not detract you from appreciating this little marvel.

The dialogs, which are Bill Murray's strong suite, are excellent. The scenario is without flaw, none whatsoever.

It's a must see movie, even if it's a family movie.



mardi 4 décembre 2012

My Summer of Love — A brooding romantic drama with unexpected turns — 7*/10

My Summer of Love brings the subject of girl-girl romance in a straight forward manner, no fanfare, no fireworks, just a series of event that leads those young women to love.

In the same way, drama comes around, but every time you expect the scenario to turn right, it turns left (except for one particular instance near the end). It's nice to see that originality is not dead.

You get to love to hate the brother, and you keep on hating him more and more until the end. The end itself leaves you torn between impotence, anger, and sadness. The characters being as they are, who can you blame? Life is not pretty and so is the film.

It's an easy movie to watch, and its simplicity makes it a good choice. Do not expect big deployments, but the story will captivate you.


Krippendorf's Tribe — A very intelligent family comedy with a flair for the exotic — 10*/10

Krippendorf's Tribe has achieved something special, an incredible balance of fun and smarts accessible to all.

There's a bit of exaggeration that will hold the interest of those who want primal fun, but little enough as not to displease those who do not want to be submerged by unrealistic situations.

The intelligent humor of the dialogs and scenario will easily enthused those who need smarts to appreciate a comedy, but not so much as to rebuff those who do not want to work their brains to laugh.

The acting is without reproach, even if a few of the secondary characters are a bit caricatured. The photography, soundtrack, and editing are as perfect as they are invisible, yet remarkable. The story is without logical flaw.

A must see, easily enjoyable by anyone.


samedi 1 décembre 2012

Buddy — Of sensible Norwegian romance and friendship — 7*/10

Buddy is a movie that offers a good mix of laughter, friendship, and romance, with a dash of drama.

Compared to a fictive Hollywood version of this flick, its tone definitively much more nuanced. At first the two best friends start as very emotionally immature young men, but without exaggeration. Every character evolves, but sensibly. There are romantic gestures, but nothing over the top. The only thing to muddle those calm waters is at the very end. In real life nobody would do that, but it's easy to excuse it given the quality of the overall performance.

The scenario is nothing new, yet interesting enough with a wide variety elements combined in a pretty homogeneous fashion. You'll have a pleasant evening watching this film.