mercredi 31 juillet 2013

Rufus — Much greater than the sum of its parts — 9*/10

Rufus is a low budget small town canadian emo vampire movie. That being said, once it's over, you can't but acknowledge that it's a solid production. Each scene and each character is meticulously crafted and it shows. All the ideas behind this piece are great and imaginative. The atmosphere is well built, and, even if the rhythm is a bit slow, especially to establish the setting, the pace suits the style. The only thing that annoyed me was the intro credit scene. However infuriating it is, I'll admit that it sets the tone of the film.

A must see if you don't mind slow development.

White House Down — Quips, actions, and explosions — 6*/10

White House Down is an action movie, nothing else. You'll laugh at the easy quips, be amazed by the action and the explosions, but don't be attached to reality, because it barely flirts with it. The story line is simple and just this side of brainless. The scenario is well paced and gets your heart racing, but has no novelty. You'll cheer the heroes, but there's no depth to any characters. It's better than Olympus Has Fallen, but barely.

Good mindless entertainment, nothing more.

mardi 30 juillet 2013

The Wolverine — A disappointment — 5*/10

The Wolverine is a failure as super hero movies go. Bad intro, bad ending, and logical flaws all over the place. There's a few funny moments, lots of action and it stars Hugh Jackman, but that's it. I mean, even the bear CG was bad. My guess is the movie was build thinking 3D and the rest was secondary.

Skip it, even if you like super heroes, and you should especially stay really far from it if you're a Wolverine fan.

dimanche 28 juillet 2013

Crash — Life is made of all us mixing, meeting, crashing... — 10*/10

Crash is a tapestry of lives about all the shades of gray of our collective existence. The story is simply captivating and it won't let you go, even after it ends. Almost every member of the cast gave the performance of their lifetime and it shows.

There's something for everyone. Action. One or two laughs. Lots of drama. Gut wrenching situations. Anger. Love. Touching moments that will bring a tear or a flood. Social criticism. Everyday heroism. Crime. Corruption. Mistakes big and small. Doing wrong, doing right. Compromises. Consequences. Inequalities. Karma. Going crazy. Finding sanity.

Actors include: Ryan Phillippe, Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Tony Danza, Keith David, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Ludacris, Thandie Newton, and Michael Peña

A must see. A masterpiece.

samedi 27 juillet 2013

The Pursuit of Happyness — One man's battle against the odds of life — 10*/10

The Pursuit of Happyness is an incredibly moving drama where Will Smith and his real life son Jaden Smith shine like only true stars can. The story is at time incredibly bitter, bad luck mixing in with bad judgment, unfair turn of events, as well as bad people. At other times, it shows sweetness that touches you deeply. It is about perseverance against all adversity.

A must for everybody.

vendredi 26 juillet 2013

The Way Way Back — Have a laugh, a tear, and some frustrations — 8*/10

The Way Way Back is a coming of age movie. It has some very sweet moments, some fairly embarrassing ones, lots of funny ones, rough ones, and enough drama to make it a realistic teen or reconstituted family life. The story will tug at everyone, especially those who have lived through divorce and step parents. The end is very solid, with no crazy stuff, just a little bit of self affirmation.

You just want to strangle Steve Carell, and Liam James truly is great as the hero of the tale, but my smile unsurprisingly goes to Sam Rockwell.

It's not spectacular or life quacking, but I highly recommend it.

mardi 23 juillet 2013

Before Midnight — Explore how love really accounts for the ups and downs — 9*/10

Before Midnight is a couple having a long discussion, or fight depending on how you see it, for two thirds of the movie. The intro is very solid, and the whole film is interesting and forces us to think about those recurring unpleasantness you can face in a relationship.

Both positions are somewhat stereotypical and the production runs a bit long, but it's real. You can see both points of view and that they both had many opportunities to quiet things down but mostly didn't because they were hurt, just like anybody else. In the end, by spending so much time on their these clashes, it makes the point, not explicitly, that it's all a bit silly.

It's great, but only for those wishing to explore the idea of love with imperfection.

The Bling Ring — Wild and different where misfits thrives — 10*/10

The Bling Ring is about the mistakes of youth. It's real and doesn't pander. It's a space where you can make your own mind. It's another genius movie by Sophia Copolla.

She plunges us into the subject and sets the mood right away to snare our attention. Great score and music for a vibrant lush captivating story.

A must for everyone, even guys.

lundi 22 juillet 2013

R.I.P.D. — Entertaining for some — 6*/10

R.I.P.D. is an entertaining science-fiction flick but that's it. It has an imaginative background concept and some interesting monsters, however that's the extent of its qualification. It could have been a great movie...

The cowboy thing almost got to my last nerve, the special effects are barely adequate, the characters over simplistic, the story is predictable and very linear.

If you want to see something different, it might be for you, otherwise, don't bother.

Traffic — Gritty drama and action with a star studded cast — 9*/10

Traffic is a solid drama by Steven Soderbergh that's all about the drug war an its real life futility. The scenario is a nice mesh of stories that are captivating with lots of drama, some excellent action, a bit of intrigue, and some suspense.

The acting is uniformly great for this star studded cast. Here are those that truly distinguished themselves: Benicio Del Toro, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Erika Christensen, and Don Cheadle. They admirably portrayed the main characters.

In secondary roles, I also liked Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, and Luis Guzmán. In an uncredited and very small part, you can briefly see the beautiful Salma Hayek.

A must see, unless you don't like tough movies.

samedi 20 juillet 2013

The Ice Harvest — Funny with a dark streak — 8*/10

The Ice Harvest is captivating story. Really funny at times, it also has a dark streak. It's a smallish town setting, with smallish town expectations. It has some heart, it will make you think, and it will make you laugh.

Billy Bob Thornton is good, John Cusack is great, but Oliver Platt is perfect and makes the movie. You could also say that Ned Bellamy does the same in a more secondary manner.

Don't miss this quirky film, just don't mind the blood and petty violence.

Runaway Jury — A movie not to miss — 9*/10

Runaway Jury is not well known by the general public, but a gem nonetheless.

The good. Engrossing story with nice twists to the plot. Great suspense with a slow developing intrigue. Imaginative and smart scenario. The main characters have a lot of depth. Solid photography, camera work, editing, and score.

The actors. John Cusack and Rachel Weisz both are just right as the young intelligent and dedicated puppeteers. Gene Hackman once again plays a despicable persona and manages not to over do it making the result very believable. Dustin Hoffman plays brilliantly the lawyer with a social conscience, one of his best, if very simple, role. Playing secondary characters, Bruce McGill, Jeremy Piven, and Bruce Davison have given us very commendable performance.

The bad. One or two minor logical flaws, but that's it.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. A surprisingly entertaining legal battle. For everyone.


vendredi 19 juillet 2013

Terminator 2: Judgment Day — A sci-fi masterpiece with action and suspense — 10*/10

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the superb sequel by James Cameron of the original cyberpunk movie, The Terminator.

The good. Slick polish to the production. Tons of superb action. Great liquid metal special effect. Gripping score. Riveting story that just won't let you go. Imaginative background and settings, just like the first one. Tight suspense. Attention grabbing intro with some laughs. Absolutely perfect ending. A few funny scenes, with the best line of the film being: "I need a vacation." Hilarious. Great acting on the part of all the cast.

The actors. By that time, Arnold Schwarzenegger had acquired enough polish to really give some dimension to his machine role, especially one who can learn. Linda Hamilton shed off some of her beauty to better portray an action role, and she did great being finally mature as an actress. Edward Furlong was perfect and very natural as the young John Connor even if it wasn't probably very far from who he was at the time. Robert Patrick played his role so well it took years for him to shake it off and play any other one with credibility.

The bad. A few minor logical flaws and awkward projection screen, but that's it!

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. A sci-fi masterpiece. A must for everyone.

Personal note. I went to see it without knowing any details of the plot. It was quite a surprise.


jeudi 18 juillet 2013

The Terminator — The birth of many things — 9*/10

The Terminator is the father of cyberpunk and is one of the very first movie directed by James Cameron where he really started to build his name. He showed his talent with this small budget independent production. The star rating of this film is mainly due to the fact that its a landmark in the industry.

The good. Very imaginative background and setting. Well paced scenario. Interesting characters. Captivating story. Solid suspense. Nice action.

The actors. The machine is a good role for Arnold Schwarzenegger at the beginning of his career since it doesn't require much pronunciation. I've always loved Michael Biehn and even if he's not at his best, he did great with what he was given. Linda Hamilton hadn't yet bloomed and her limitations are showing a little bit, yet she gave us a great portrayal.

The bad. A few overly simple dialogs. The stop motion animation is good, but nowadays, it's an old technology. The mechanical puppet doesn't have human fluidity it should have. The latex stand-in is pitiful by today's standard.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. Everyone should see it because it's a landmark, especially sci-fi fans.


vendredi 12 juillet 2013

The Lone Ranger — The western hero in full action and fun — 7*/10

The Lone Ranger is an action hero movie mixed with a western.

The good. Lots of intense action. Spectacular photography. Solid special effects. Very funny. Interesting story. Very detailed sets, costumes, and scenes. Well paced scenario.

The actors. Johnny Depp is once again absolutely amazing in this cooky character. William Fichtner as the evil Butch Cavendish gives us a great performance. In a lesser role, Helena Bonham Carter has a surprising presence.

The bad. Unbelievable action since we're not talking about super heroes here.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. If you like westerns with improbable action or if you're a fan of Depp, this is for you.


jeudi 11 juillet 2013

This Is the End — Brain off, fun on — 7*/10

This Is the End is a slapstick comedy where fun is based on basest human behaviors.

The good. Incredible special effects. Constant ridicule for maximum laughter. Interesting story with an awesome end and some twists. Well paced scenario.

The actors. Although I like Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel a lot, I think James Franco here has the best performance.

The bad. Very simple and linear story. No smart jokes.

The ugly. Danny McBride as his character is incredibly annoying.

The result. Don't expect anything intelligent and you'll have fun.


mercredi 10 juillet 2013

Match Point — Solid drama to capture your attention — 9*/10

Match Point is a drama by Woody Allen, but personally I think it has only very few things that makes it Allen. You can see his style in the score, camera work, and pacing of the story. However, the rest doesn't feel enough like him to put off his detractors. Very refreshing.

The good. Slow developing and riveting story filled with details. Tight scenario with an excellent pace. Lush decor. Beautiful photography. Superb acting.

The actors. I love Scarlett Johansson and she's great in that very emotional and sexy role, but I have to hand it to Jonathan Rhys Meyers for his portrayal, even though his character is despicable. On a different level, Brian Cox gives a great if subtle performance.

The bad. That dream scene is a bit awkward, but it still works.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. A Woody Allen that anybody can appreciate. It's a bit dark and can be emotionally difficult, but it's a great piece.


mardi 9 juillet 2013

Monsters University — A must see prequel — 9*/10

Monsters University is the prequel to Monsters inc., a wildly popular animation by Pixar. It's basically a college movie set in the monster world, but with a nice deviation from the standard.

The good. Still the same incredibly interesting world with all its colors, fantastic creatures, and quirks. Interesting story, especially for the twist. Great animation, as usual. Easily enjoyable by adults. Perfect ending. Excellent voice acting.

The bad. Lots of college movie, underdogs, and jocks versus nerds clichés.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. If you liked the first one, you'll like this one too.


lundi 8 juillet 2013

Pieces of April — Get a dose of reality and oddity to think a little — 9*/10

Pieces of April is about being the black sheep. It's a critique of family life.

The good. A sweet, yet starkly realistic, family story, sometime touching, often surprising, with a few laughs and oddity to soften the drama. A solidly paced scenario well rendered by the editing and the camera work. Soft music and score. Complex and very varied characters with nice depth. Hard hitting dialogs that reflect the harshness that sometime life can have. Great acting on the part of all the cast.

The actors. The most notables are definitively Katie Holmes, Oliver Platt, and Patricia Clarkson.

The bad. Nothing.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. Not everyone will appreciate this film, but I still recommend it to those willing to see life for what it is.


Sideways — A few laughters with serious matters worth your time — 9*/10

Sideways is truly looking at relationship sideways, and from two different point of view, a romantic one and a philandering one. The issues are not taken straight on, they are viewed from afar, judged by indirect actions and their consequences.

The good. Well built, realistic, almost down to earth, and interesting story with lots of psychological details and some laughs. Excellent camera work and editing giving you a nice emotional perspective. Characters with depth. Perfect ending. Great panoramas. Solid acting.

The actors. Paul Giamatti is in one of his best role, suits him admirably. I can't judge Thomas Haden Church, because I don't know him enough, but his performance was right on the dot. Virginia Madsen is great as the understated perfect chance. My favorite of the bunch, though, is Sandra Oh who serves us another one of her great interpretation, this time with a flair for very hot yet realistic sexiness.

The bad. The neurotic behavior and a few extreme reactions to some events can get a bit much at time.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. Everyone should see this. Perfect for those who are not looking for romance, but a relationship. You'll smile, you'll frown, you'll shake you head, but you'll appreciate.


samedi 6 juillet 2013

Closer — A razor sharp look at relationships — 9*/10

Closer is about the key wrong move you can make in an intimate relationship.

The good. Nice music and score. Beautiful photography. Solid characters with great depth. Very realistic. Excellent scenario construction which tells a long story in a very short time while making us understand what really makes or breaks a relationship. It mostly follows chronology or otherwise makes it easy to understand, but never shows any time stamp. That makes the viewer's mind work and thus plunges us into the story rather quickly, a fascinating tale of change and turnabout.

The actors. Natalie Portman gives a great performance, and shows her talent with a complex yet subtle role. Clive Owen as the clever bastard definitively gave the performance of a lifetime, it's by far his best one. Jude Law as the neurotic romantic indecisive love lorn control freak certainly gave us one of his best. Julia Roberts gave a nice performance, but it just not on par with the others.

The bad. Nothing.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. Not for everyone, but should be watched by everyone.


vendredi 5 juillet 2013

Top Gun — See what an 80s pop movie looked like without the quirks — 6*/10

Top Gun is a 80s classic.

The good. Interesting academy rivalry. Nice choice of music and score. Great footage of fighter planes. Beautiful San Diego photography. Funny scenes.

The actors. Tom Cruise plays the hothead excellently. Val Kilmer as his ice cool competitor is just perfect. However, the best and smoothest work is done by Meg Ryan. On the other hand, Kelly McGillis is unfortunately performed poorly and wasn't given much to work with. The rest of the cast does a pretty solid job. I'll just mention the better ones: Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerritt, and Michael Ironside. We can also see a small cameo by Tim Robbins.

The bad. Easy dialogs. Poor romance plot with lots of cliché and a weak female lead. A few continuity problems. Cockpit filming, lighting conditions mainly, doesn't correspond to fighter plane footage.

The ugly. Very awkward stick handling that looks ridiculous.

The result. A classic, mainly for those interested in seeing what really launched Cruise's career.


jeudi 4 juillet 2013

Romeo + Juliet — To perfection from tragedy — 10*/10

Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann a perfect modern transposition of Shakespeare's timeless tragic romance.

The good. It's perfect, I could list everything, but I'll concentrate on what makes it special. Superb designs, very colorful, for all the sets and costumes that are the result of great ideas demonstrating a lot of imagination. That alone is worth the watch. Imagination was also present in large amount in the translation to modern time. Luhrmann used all kind of artifice to enact the scenario for our delight, but also to make us understand that piece of dramatic literature. Excellent music and score, entrancing, irresistible.

The actors. I feel like I have to name them all... even the boys from each family performed exceedingly well. I'll try to be brief and go for the gold. The young Leonardo DiCaprio and the young Claire Danes are the dream protagonist, simple, eager, sincere, emotional... Of the others, I'd say the most striking play came from Harold Perrineau as the energetic Mercutio, and John Leguizamo as the vengeful Tybalt. Of the lesser roles, I have to mention Pete Postlethwaite as Father Laurence, Paul Rudd as the suave Dave Paris, Dash Mihok as Romeo's cousin, and M. Emmet Walsh as the apothecary. Of course all four parents were also excellent.

The bad. I would only remove the flashbacks just after the final death scene. It's very minor.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. A must for all. Easily enjoyable by men and women, from teen and onward.


mercredi 3 juillet 2013

World War Z — Strap in tightly because you're in for a hell of a ride! — 10*/10

World War Z is a zombie movie that mixes a number of sub-genres together. It's global war mixed with survival, gun-ho fights, local low-tech thrill ride, and cure hunting. You'd think that with such a mix, you'd get a mess, but no, Marc Forster pulled it off.

The good. Almost everything. I'll just name the best parts. Very realistic approach, nothing is easy, and characters die. Extremely solid tension, your teeth might ache from all the jaw clenching you'll probably do. Very intense and well made action with eye-popping special effects. Lots of attention to details. A tight scenario that gives the ride of a lifetime. A riveting story that avoids a number of zombie clichés. Great score. Very attaching characters. Finally an American movie with a global event that gives more than just a passing nod to other nations.

The actors. Brad Pitt offers us his action hero type with a coating of realism. The other solid performance, beside the two daughter (and to a lesser degree the wife), is given to us by Daniella Kertesz. The rest of the cast performed well, but nothing distinctive.

The bad. The "I need credentials before I talk to you" is kind of a little bit much, but easily forgivable. The flashback could have been made better. Some little weakness when it comes to some acting of secondary character, but so very few. The plot might be simple, but it doesn't divulge where it's going ahead of time, and there's enough surprise to counteract that.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. The best zombie movie ever. Also highly recommended to thrill seekers and action lovers.


I highly recommend you see the unrated Blu-ray version which is slightly longer but brings about certain things with just a bit more explanation.

mardi 2 juillet 2013

Much Ado About Nothing — Nicely done transposition — 8*/10

Much Ado About Nothing by Joss Whedon is the latest adaptation of the Shakespeare's comedy.

The good. Excellent ideas. Very funny settings and actions. Nice choice of actors. With visual, it's always possible to add non spoken actions to original dialogs and Whedon made some clever extensions. Great photography.

The actors. My favorite performance were by Nathan Fillion, Sean Maher, and Tom Lenk, although I came to appreciate those of Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof a lot.

The bad. The concept of war as spoken in the piece doesn't translate well in modern time.

The ugly. Nothing.

The result. Solid entertainment for those who like modern transposition of Shakespeare's work, A must for any Whedon fan.


lundi 1 juillet 2013

All the Right Moves — It's nice, but getting old — 6*/10

All the Right Moves is about how a simple mistake, made because as a youth you didn't know better, can change your future radically, and how your arrogance can crush your life or someone else's.

The good. Excellent 80s small steel town period piece. Very nice acting. Well built scenario with an interesting story.

The bad. The music is also very much 80s and pushed on the viewer a little bit much.

The ugly. It's getting old.

The result. If you're a Tom Cruise fan, it's a chance for you to see him at the beginning of his career. If you like 80s movies, this is a nice one. The others might want to abstain.