I died for your sins, so accordingly, here are some inane musings to contemplate...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Moofies in 2010 - July (42 / 98)

The Pixar Story - a great doco about the formation of Pixar, the trials and failures of their beginnings, the trust and money that Steve Jobs poured into the business, and then their wonderful successes. Loved it and could easily watch it again, it's all about the business side of animation and really is quite fascinating. 4/5

Paranormal Activity - I really have to applaud the fact it was made for $15k and made millions at the box office (though I doubt the maker and actors saw much of that). Mostly done quite well but frankly I didn't care about the characters in the least and I was ambivalent as to what happened to them. Some pretty chilling scenes and effects through with a couple really cheesy ones. Some idiotic leaps in illogic, but overall good scary fun. 2.5/5

Shutter Island - wonderfully shot and fantastically acted Scorsese psychological drama. I picked the main "twist" from the very beginning but, surprisingly, that didn't actually detract from me enjoying the film at all. I really quite liked the slightly ambiguous ending. 4/5

*The Spongebob Squarepants Movie - idiotically stupid fun. I was hungover and tired and this was perfect for my mood. Not as many laughs as I recall though :( 2.5/5

The End of the Line - yet another scary doco about how the stupidity and greed of humans is destroying a precious and finite resource. I honestly don't think fish stocks will ever recover and I think we're going to see a lot more famine and desolation in the next few decades because of what this doco tells us of what we're doing to our oceans. The doco is slightly more hopeful. 2.5/5 - lost points for some poor directing and editing choices, it could have been shorter and packed more punch.

Blindness - an extremely bleak tale of people coping with a sudden mass onset of blindness with one woman still being able to see. A bit of an allegory on how badly society can break down and even though someone has the power of sight they are only moved to act in great desperation - reacting instead of acting. A brilliant performance by Julianne Moore and I really am starting to dig Mark Ruffalo as an actor. Gael Garcia Bernal was great in his role as well. 3.5/5

Daybreakers - an ambitious vampire movie by the Aussie Spierig brothers that almost works but just doesn't quite find its legs. Had a really great premise where the majority of people have become vampires and Humans have become an increasingly rare food source. Once again it was weird seeing so many Aussie actors act with American accents - when there's one or two it ain't bad, when 90% of the cast are Aussie it's just plain weird. Some pretty good effects, some dodgy ones, and some extremely wooden acting from most involved. 2.5/5

The Men Who Stare At Goats - some truly funny moments and a brilliantly snide turn by Kevin Spacey couldn't save this somewhat pedestrian comedy. Ewan McGregor doesn't quite manage to engage the audience as he tells the tale of Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), one of the US Army's most successful Psy Ops agents. Clooney himself once again proves he can do comedy without sinking to absurdity but it's just not enough to save this film. 1.5/5

Red - Avery Ludlow (Brian Cox) is accosted by three teenagers who attempt to rob him and then, cruelly and with no reason, shoot dead his dog Red, the only living link he has to his departed wife. With a burning intensity, he seeks redress from the boys that killed his dog - all he really wants is for them to admit what they did and apologise for it - but he is constantly stymied in his attempts at justice by not only the boys' uncaring father (Tom Sizemore) but also a justice system that considers animals no more than property. With reporter Carrie (Kim Dickens) helping to get his story out into the public, Avery's quest for justice starts to spiral out of control as we see his dogged determination - deeply seated in an horrific event from his past, revealed in a scene of masterfully understated acting on Cox' part - start to spiral out of control. A simple story of a man's search for justice and how one event can twist the lives of many until only tragedy can stop the landslide. 4.5/5

Winter's Bone - was part of MIFF but I got to see an advance screening the week before thanks to ABC 774. It's a rather bleak tale of a young woman in search of her drug dealing and drug addicted missing father without whom she and her dirt-poor family are likely to lose their home. Well acted but shot so bleakly and with an extremely grey colour palette, this is really quite a depressing film. Even so, I still quite enjoyed it. 3/5

Repo Men - over the top sci-fi gore-fest with Jude Law going from a psycho serial killer with a licence to kill as he repossesses artificial organs where the owners are late on their payments to one of the victims themselves. It's over the top, silly and great fun. For once the ending surprised me, I really wasn't expecting it but it was just so perfectly appropriate for this film and where it was headed. Features the sexiest self-surgery/butchery scene in film history. 3.5/5

Creation - I went into this free screening of the tale of Charles Darwin and how he had a crisis of conscience whilst writing "On the Origin of Species" really not wanting to see the film and thinking I'd be dead bored. Instead I was mesmerised from the very beginning mostly due to Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly's absolutely stellar performances as Darwin and his wife. The tale has elements of tragedy in it which are handled perfectly by cutting up the timeline (notably with no visual clue beyond the actions/look of the main characters, an affectation I absolutely loved - it never needs to be obvious and is easy to follow) and truly by the end I was almost brought to tears by Darwin's self recrimination and self loathing. It's an almost perfect film let down by occasionally poor edits and running ever so slightly too long. 4.5/5


Mai Mai Miracle (Japan) - young Shinko befriends new girl Kiiko, they spend their days running through the wheat fields imagining what life was like in the area 1000 years ago with real life constantly imposing itself on their daydreams, they can't always avoid the harsh realities of things they don't quite understand. A lovely little anime with some interesting themes about death, loss and how lives can change. Has a number of quite funny moments and some really touching ones too. 2.5/5

Osadné (Czech Republic/Slovakia) - a quirky little doco focusing on the Slovak village of Osadné, where the local priest has, in the past five years, buried 50 residents and baptised only two - the young people are moving away in droves and the town, and the resident native Rusyn population, is dying. Ha some quite amusing characters whom we follow as they work hard to think of ideas to attract tourists to their little slice of heaven in the middle of nowhere. 3/5

Cities on Speed - Shanghai & Mumbai - two interesting docos about the changes coming to these megalopolis cities. The Mumbai one was quite amusing as ti focused on people from 3 different levels of society with regards to transportation.3/5 & 4/5

Air Doll - quirky Japanese film where a man's sex toy comes to life and wanders out into the world to discover what it means to be human. Interesting premise with some genuinely funny moments and a reasonably disturbing conclusion. 3.5/5

Red Hill - predictable but still fun Aussie revenge thriller set in a little country town. Over the top performance by Steve Bisley gives it that great tongue-in-cheek nod while Ryan Kwanten acquits himself well as the main protagonist. 3.5/5

World's Greatest Dad - Robin Williams stars in this very black comedy about a high school teacher trying to deal with his delinquent son whilst trying to write the next great American novel and keep his new relationship with a fellow teacher intact. Didn't end on the dark note I was hoping for but was dark enough I suppose. 3.5/5

1428 - extremely poorly made "doco" showing the aftermath of the 2008 China earthquake. Fascinating subject, appallingly made doco, I walked out 3/4 through. 0.5/5

City of Life and Death - brilliant black and white film about the Rape of Nanking as seen from the invaded Chinese soldiers and civilians and a select few of the Japanese soldiers. Features some truly disturbing moments, though I suspect much worse occurred, and some great and understated performances. 4.5/5

The Housemaid - interesting premise but it unfortunately ultimately pulls its punches a little. I was hoping for a bit more oomph but was still an interesting film with some high standard performances. 3/5

Love in a Puff - rather amusing but somewhat stilted romantic comedy about people meeting on their smoko breaks. 3/5

Rubber - one of the most bizarre films I've ever seen - an old rubber tire goes on a psychic killing rampage whilst an audience watches. Achieves what it aims for which is a lot of laughs and a major WTF was the point of that? 3.5/5

Poetry - beautifully shot, scripted and acted film about an old Korean grandmother looking after her grandson. She is trying to rediscover the poetry in her life whilst also dealing with the horrendous actions of her son and his friends. One of the best ending to a film in years. 4.5/5

The Red Chapel - piss funny doco about a coupe of South Korean born Danish comedians (one a spastic) being allowed into North Korea to perform a comedy routine. Hi-jinks soon ensue when the straight laced Korean minders step in to try and change the performance more to their liking. Darkly satirical and often crazy in what they get away with, it also had a sadness to it that they really explore in the film. 4/5

The Tree - bit of a ho-hum Aussie/French film about a girl who thinks her dead father lives on in the giant tree next to their proerty. Has a pretty good turn by Martin Csokas but I just can not like Charlotte Gainsbourg and was constantly unsympathetic to her character. The kids were all pretty good. 2.5/5

Garbo: The Spy - fascinating doco (although a little too long and with a really cool but strange soundtrack) about the guy that pretty much started the end of WW2 by becoming a double agent for the British - through him the Nazis pretty much funded the British intelligence service! Absolutely amazing that this could happen, truth really is far stranger than fiction. 4/5

The Messenger - heartfelt and realistic film focusing on two soldiers tasked with the awful task of delivering news of a soldier's death to their loved ones. A brilliant turn by Woody Harrelson and a damn good one by Ben Foster turn what could have been a very maudlin weeper into a strong and uncompromising look at an often overlooked aspect of war. 4.5/5

Border - walked out 15 minutes in - I'm not gonna spend an hour and a half watching a water buffalo do nothing. 0/5

Apart Together - wasn't sure what to expect but came to really enjoy this quirky film about a man returning to Shanghai to see his wife and family after being forced to live in Taiwan for many years for political reasons. Has a real heart to it and captures the love held between the main characters perfectly. 4/5

The Day Will Come - Alice tracks down her mother who abandoned her daughter when she went into hiding with a German terrorist group. The mother has a new family now but Alice wants her to give herself up and admit to all her past misdeeds. Interesting story, executed well with some fine performances. 3.5/5

The Special Relationship - fantastic film about the relationship between Bill Clinton and Tony Blair during the former's sex scandals being aired and the Balkan war. Brilliantly acted - Dennis Quaid is startlingly spot on as Clinton, with a great script and wonderful direction. 4.5/5

The Kids Are All Right - funny drama about the children of two lesbian parents wanting to find out about their sperm donor father, only bringing him into their life might nto be the best idea ever. Has some brilliant laughs and a real heart its core with great performances all round. 4/5

[b]Boy[/b] - an absolutely hilarious NZ film about a young boy in the 80s who thinks his absent father is away on amazing adventures, only to find out his dad was in jail and upon his return isn't all he's cracked up to be. Laugh-a-minute kinda film with an hilarious performance by writer/director Taika Waititi as the father. Seriously go and see this film as soon as you can. 5/5

The Unloved - sad tale of an abused young girl as she gets processed through the welfare system after one too many hits from her dad. A bit of an autobiography from Emily Mortimer there are some good performances here, and it's not as depressing as it sounds, but some of the direction just left me a little cold. Still, it's a good film. 3/5

The Trotsky - quite a funny Canadian film about a young man who thinks he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky, he tries to unionise his school and so comes into conflict with the school Principal and Board. Probably the funniest thing Jay Baruchel has been in, I certainly laughed a number of times, but the script just seemed to jump around too much to be a smooth experience. 3/5

Four Lions - I was expecting a lot of laughs from this black comedy about UK Muslin extremists, and I got them, but it just didn't have the kind of appeal I was looking for - I think it's another case of the best jokes going into the trailer. The end really was quite disturbing and sad. 3/5

Cities on Speed - Bogota & Cairo - more insight into the way other major cities of the world work. The Cairo one was dead boring (being all about garbage) but the Bogota one was absolutely fascinating. Seriously see this doco and see how one or two men wanting social change can enact it if they just push hard enough. 4.5/5 and 0/5/5 respectively.

Piggies - disturbing little film about young Polish kids on the German border going into the sex trade to earn cash. All non-actors perform admirably in their roles and the script was solid. 3.5/5

Paju - confusing Korean film that I gave 30 minutes and then left, I was drunk at the time but really it made no sense at all. 0/5

Doco Shorts - some good docos, some bad ones, some very average ones.

Accelerator 1 - some great short films, some bad ones, some average ones.

Moofies in 2010 - June (14 / 56)

Mother & Child - really great drama with some fantastic acting by Annette Bening, Naomi Watts and Kerry Washington. Focuses on mothers and the relationship they have with their child, Annette Bening's prickly and unlikeable character and the act of giving her child up for adoption that has so tainted the rest of her life was such a powerful story to watch. Bening was just pure perfection in it. Wrapped up a [i]little[/i] too neatly but I guess that's kinda where it was "supposed" to head anyway. Will make every mother out there cry (even I teared up a little), guaranteed. 4.5/5

Traitor - quite an interesting take on the whole terrorism thing, kept me interested the whole way through. 3.5/5

The Number 23 - meh, was just plain silly really. 1/5

Pathfinder - interesting premise - Vikings attacking Native Americans (or Canadians) and a Viking child grows up to be a warrior for the Indians - but poorly executed. 2/5

I Sell The Dead - rather amusing but not brilliant story about some 18th century grave robbers who end up getting into the lucrative undead market. Some genuinely funny parts, especially the sci-fi grave. 2.5/5

Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time - good, dumb fun with an obvious story, frenetic action, silly romance and good comedic relief. 2.5/5

City Island - dead-set funny film about a family of New Yorkers who are all keeping secrets from each other. Genuinely good comedy with a script that is acted to perfection. Doesn't rely on smut or rudeness and I think this is the kind of film that could be genuinely appreciated by all comers. Everyone in the cinema was laughing quite loudly throughout all of the appropriate parts. If you liked Little Miss Sunshine or films of that ilk, you'll love this. 4.5/5
2012 - stupid story, dumb acting, over the top effects and situations, great fun! It was completely idiotic but there's just something I love about watching the world get destroyed. 3/5

She's Out Of My League - rather ho-hum comedy, still not sure if I like Jay Baruchel or not, maybe only as a voice actor. 1.5/5

The Road - bloody depressing and very well acted all the way through. Hillcoat really likes his dark and dreary films eh? 3/5

Percy Jackson and the Olympians - The Lightning Thief - totally stupid and ridiculous but good, dumb fun. 2.5/5

Green Zone - actually really quite good, it has a relentless pace to it and not over the top use of shaky cam. 4/5

Hot Tub Time Machine - it's stupid from the beginning, it knows it and revels in it, has some seriously funny moment. 3/5

Toy Story 3 - absolute Pixar perfection. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Better than the second, on par with the first but with better animation. Saw it in 3D which was nice but would be just as good in 2D, still not 100% sold on 3D. 5/5

Moofies in 2010 - May (5 / 42)

Iron Man 2 - a lot of great one liners, the interplay between characters was spot on, but in the end it was quite pedestrian story with minimal action. They're really using this as a vehicle to set up the other Marvel films and the Avengers with more about S.H.I.E.L.D. and nods to Captain America and Thor. Was more of a Tony Stark character study and growth story more than anything. The 30 seconds after the credits was a waste of time and should have been before the credits or maybe just into them. 2.5/5

Harry Brown - Michael Caine brilliantly portrays a sad old pensioner looking forlornly into the last few years of his life who finds renewed anger, vigor and purpose when his best friend is murdered by local thugs and he decides someone needs to stand up and be a man. Although quite violent at times and rather shocking, it's Caine's performance as the titular Harry Brown that just mesmerised me. He gives no justification for his actions, he gives very little reason, he's just a man who decides something needs to be done and then tries to do it.

Also has a great turn from Emily Mortimer as a Detective Inspector with an empathic response to Harry's situation and features a twist that for once I did not see coming - probably 'cause I was just so involved in the film. I have to reiterate how great Caine is, especially in the quiet moments where the camera just focuses on his face and you can see the inner turmoil burning through his eyes. A very dark palette is used with some very murky sets and situations and it suits the film perfectly. 5/5

The Girl Who Played With Fire - second in the Millenium Trilogy. Meh it was OK, a bit contrived in parts but pretty good. I'll check out the third but it doesn't make me want to read the books despite all the great praise they have garnered. 2.5/5

*Star Trek
- came home drunk from the pub and my housemate had just started watching it so figured it was worth yet another re-watch. It's still a great, fun flim with some plot developments that are just plain stupid (the whole Old Spock thing and really the villain in general) but whatevs.

The Darjeeling Limited - weird and wacky and really not my kind of flim. I watched it 'cause my sister wanted to but if she hadn't been there I'd have switched it off half way through. I'm really not that much of a fan of Wes Anderson's films though I do still want to see Fantastic Mr Fox. 1/5

Moofies in 2010 - April (2 / 37

The Invention of Lying - was mildly amusing in parts but it irked me that just because you can't lie it doesn't mean you need to tell everyone exactly what you think or are doing. DVD extras and outtakes were funnier than the film. 1/5

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - a pretty good murder mystery and I'll certainly be checking out the sequels. There were a few skips or jumps in logic and the story that irked me but basically it's a very entertaining film. Has 2 quite rough rape scenes so you wanna be careful going in. 3/5

Moofies in 2010 - March (11 / 35)

*The Mothman Prophecies - one of my favourites for a supernatural freaky film. 4/5

Bastardy - interesting doco, he has certainly lived a hell of a life. 3/5

*The Hurt Locker - confirmation that it deserved the Best Picture Oscar and I still liked it the second time around. 4.5/5

C.R.A.Z.Y. - quite a good film but not quite great. Some good performances. 3/5

Planet 51 - so-so which is a shame as I was looking forward to it. A few good jokes but overall far too predictable. 2/5

Tooth Fairy - actually quite enjoyed it, The Rock is a legend. 3.5/5

Zombieland - watched it again with housemate, still just as funny and main chick still just as gorgeous.

The Eclipse - such a weird mix of romance, comedy, supernatural/ghosts and sadness but strangely it really works. Some really good performances (who knew Aidan Quinn could be such a dick?) and a very understated but lyrical directing style with pitch perfect cinematography of a dreary but beautiful Irish seaside town. 4/5

How To Train Your Dragon - a predictable storyline doesn't detract from this well paces and funny romp from Dreamworks animation. I'd say on par with Kung-fu Panda. The 3D aspect was good but I'm still not sold on it as something that truly adds to a film experience - it is what it is. Only qualm was the fact the adults were all Scottish and the kids were all American, I thought they could have put something funny in there along the lines of you only gain your accent when you kill your first dragon or something, but it was a very minor point. One or two slightly scary bits for he very small kids but otherwise it's a total larf and good fun. 4.5/5

*Signs - caught it on TV the other night and I still really enjoyed it despite this being viewing number 8 or so. One of Shyamalan's better films with a great premise, good acting and some really freaky moments. I know the water thing is a little dumb but whatever, I still like it. 4/5

Welcome - Bilal is an Iraqi refugee in France trying to make his way to his girlfriend in the UK, Simon is a local who takes pity on the boy and starts training him to swim the English channel. A rather sweet and quiet film, I really enjoyed it. The minimalism in the acting was spot on and the film ended the way it should have ended (thank Christ they didn't go too mushy). 4/5

Moofies in 2010 - February (7 / 24)

Fish! A Japanese Obsession where a UK guy traveled all around Japan for 6 weeks exploring all aspects that the Japanese have with seafood and with sea life. It really was quite interesting to see all the aspects of it and how pervasive a food stuff is within the history of a culture. He even went to Taiji and ate whale meat and although he was against the idea of whaling, he wasn't all preachy about it - he showed that this was part of their culture and how the pressure from the rest of the world was making these basic fishermen seem like monsters.

Anyway, great doco and I highly recommend it. 4/5

I Heart Huckabees - I gave up after 30 minutes, couldn't stand Jason Schwartzman's character. 0/5

*Avatar - saw it at IMAX, no real difference between that and the normal big screen.

*Return of the Jedi - wow, I forgot just how clunky it is, ah well, was still good fun. 2.5/5

Julie & Julia - brilliant turn by Meryl Streep and good performance by Stanley Tucci. Good, fun film. 3.5/5

Fighting - quite dull and predictable, I can't stand Terrence Howard's mumbling. 1/5

*Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - fun but not brilliant. 3/5