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.

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