Archive | February 2011 RSS for this section

19- Fish Tank [4.0]

Fifteen-year-old Mia’s world is turned upside down when her mother brings home a new boyfriend.

Fish Tank hits you over the head with symbolism. There’s a chained white horse and a fish gasping for air out of water. First time actress (a casting agent found her after overhearing her fight with her boyfriend) Katie Jarvis does a fine job as Mia, but the film spirals out of control as it proceeds. You know who Michael Fassbender’s Connor is right away, and the end of his character’s arc is quite puzzling. Fish Tank is worth watching only if you wish to re-confirm that is indeed very often cloudy in England.

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18- The Men Who Stare at Goats [7.0]

The story of a secret unit within the US Army called the First Earth Battalion, whose paranormal military ideas mutated over the decades to influence interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay.

The biggest problem with The Men Who Stare at Goats is that the tone shifts frequently. It volleys back and forth between straightforward storytelling and slapstick anecdotes, never quite settling as a full-blown satire. Even though Jeff Bridges is playing a hippie character with long hair and shaggy beard, he manages to avoid being Jeffry Lebowski-esque. Ewan McGregor doesn’t nail his American accent, and doesn’t quite gel with George Clooney’s manic Lyn Cassady. Even still, it’s an occasionally funny, if not frightening look at what may go behind the scenes in the government.

17- Tron: Legacy [4.0]

A high-tech adventure set in a digital world that’s unlike anything ever captured on the big screen. Sam Flynn, the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn, looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the digital world of Tron where his father has been living for 25 years.

Tron: Legacy suffers from a number of problems: the plot becomes increasingly incoherent, Garrett Hedlund is incredibly stiff as the lead, and there’s no one to latch onto. The most commendable thing about the film is Daft Punk’s score. The film has a franchise feel written all over it (especially its ending), but it’s unlikely the universe is going to be worth revisiting again.

16- Daredevil [3.0]

A man blinded by toxic waste which also enhanced his remaining senses fights crime as an acrobatic martial arts superhero. A man blinded by toxic waste which also enhanced his remaining senses fights crime as an acrobatic martial arts superhero.

Believe it or not, Daredevil is one of the more accurate comic book-to-film adaptations (even with a black Kingpin). Colin Farrell alone takes the film into the cheesy stratosphere, but Matt Murdock’s relationship with Elektra and his buddy Foggy Nelson (as played by Jon Favreau) doesn’t help either. Apparently, the director’s cut is much better than the theatrical release, but I can’t imagine the overall product being anything more than mediocre.

15- Exit Through the Gift Shop [8.5]

The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner with spectacular results. Billed as ‘the world’s first street art disaster movie’ the film contains exclusive footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world’s most infamous graffiti artists at work.

This film will make you re-examine what art is and what it is worth. Exit zigzags through street culture, exposing some key artists and a fraud along the way. Part of the films playfulness is attempting to figure out who’s in on the joke and what is real. I’d like to believe the film is one big fuck you to Thierry Guetta, but even a month removed from my initial viewing, I’m not quite sure. It makes Exit Through the Gift Shop worth repeated viewings.

14- True Grit (2010) [7.0]

A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer.

I’m a huge fan of the Coen brothers, but was somewhat disappointed with True Grit. Even still, it’s an excellent film: Roger Deakin’s cinematography is as beautiful as ever (when will this man win an Oscar?!) and young Hailee Steinfeld puts in one of the best performances by a young actress I’ve seen. Carter Burwell’s score will make you want to pop in your favorite westerns from yesteryear. I can’t compare it to the original, as I haven’t seen it, but True Grit is an enjoyable western through and through.

13- Animal Kingdom [6.5]

Welcome to the terrifying Melbourne crime underworld, where tensions are on the brink of exploding between felons and renegade cops – the Wild West played out on the city’s streets in broad daylight. The Cody brothers, a gang of armed robbers, are in the process of initiating their teenage nephew Joshua ‘J’ into their frightening world after the death of his mother and under the watchful eye of his matriarchal grandmother, Smurf, a modern-day Ma Barker.

Animal Kingdom piles on one layer of fucked up after another. From the films depressing open scene, all the way to its conclusion, you won’t find yourself smiling at any point of this Australian drama. There’s a few shocking scenes that will keep you on your feet in spite of the films slow pace. The only noticeable flaw of the film is Guy Pearce’s laughable mustache.