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Category Archives: Mini movie reviews

Capsule reviews #3

Time once again for another bunch of short reviews. I considered doing these as a podcast, but since I haven’t written much lately I thought I’d go that route instead. Quite a variety this time: art house, spy, action, drama, period, horror, and more. Something for everyone, I hope. Enjoy!

A Dangerous Method (2011) – A very, very talky film about Freud and Jung. I thought the acting was pretty much impeccable (Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley). I just found the movie itself to be a bit of a slog. I liked David Cronenberg’s last couple of outings (A History Of Violence and Eastern Promises), but this one left me a little cold. It’s just a very non-cinematic subject, as evidenced by several scenes showing the main characters writing snotty letters back and forth to each other (read to us in voice over). Perhaps the original stage play might’ve been more my speed.

Certified Copy (2010) – Quite an unusual film that left me wondering what I’d just seen. I don’t want to say too much about it, but simply put it’s a more philosophical/arty version of Before Sunrise/Before Sunset. Although that’s perhaps a poor comparison, since I loved those movies and only generally liked this one. Like A Dangerous Method, this movie is extremely talky. In fact, the whole thing is basically one long conversation. But the conversation takes some really interesting turns, and I found myself engrossed in it in a way that I wasn’t with Cronenberg’s movie. Juliette Binoche is characteristically excellent, and William Shimell holds his own opposite her in his film debut.

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Some thoughts on The Avengers

There’s been a somewhat shocking lack of anything related to The Avengers here on the site. I mean, it is crushing box office records worldwide. And two years ago I called it my most anticipated upcoming film. So what gives? Well, for one thing, what can be said about it that hasn’t already been said? I mean, there are 255 reviews of this thing on Rotten Tomatoes right now. And most of those were up before I even saw it.

You don’t need me to tell you the movie’s awesome and well worth your time. But it just seems really strange to pass it by without any kind of comment. Maybe when the DVD comes out, I’ll revisit it then.

For now though, I thought people might be interested in a short conversation I had about it with Michael Walls-Kelly (WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND).

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Capsule reviews #2

Well, it’s been awhile since the last podcast, and the movies are starting to pile up at my feet, so it’s time for another round of capsule reviews.

I’m going to do these a little differently this time. I often watch groups of movies that fit together. Sometimes it’ll be a bunch of westerns, or maybe some film noir. This time around, I’m going to talk about three pairs of films: two from the mind of Hunter S. Thompson, two more from Charlie Kaufman, and a couple of sci-fi classics.

… And maybe one more just for kicks.

The Rum Diary (2011) & Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)

Alright, let’s break this down. Both these movies are based on books written by Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. Both books were fictionalized accounts of Thompson’s actual experiences. And both movie adaptations feature Johnny Depp playing a (sort of) journalist. Still with me? Awesome.

Watching these movies back-to-back was a strange experience. I’d seen Fear And Loathing previously, but I’m just now catching The Rum Diary on DVD. Both films are largely plotless, but while this works well for Fear And Loathing, it really doesn’t for The Rum Diary. Fear And Loathing makes up for its lack of story with oodles of drugged-out insanity as rendered by the demented mind of director Terry Gilliam. You might not like the film, but I defy you to find it boring to watch.

In contrast, The Rum Diary has a much more subdued esthetic. I get it, in a way. It’s set in San Juan in the late fifties. The whole atmosphere should seem sedate in comparison to seventies-era Vegas. But even taking that into account, this movie just feels dull, and there’s really nothing to distract you from the aimlessness of the plotting.

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Capsule reviews #1

As you know if you listen to the podcast, I watch a lot of movies. So much so that sometimes I have to decide which to talk about and which to omit entirely. No more! I’ve decided to start posting capsule reviews of anything I don’t discuss on the podcast. They won’t have a ton of detail – maybe just a paragraph or two. Enough to tell you how I feel about each movie.

There won’t be any particular theme with these posts. It’ll be a random sampling of stuff that didn’t make it into the podcast for whatever reason. And I don’t know how often I’ll need to do these little round-ups, but they’ll probably happen every once in awhile. So anyway, here’s the first batch.

Narc (2002) – A fantastic film from Joe Carnahan that I felt compelled to revisit after the disappointment that was The Grey. Okay, so most people liked The Grey –  I’m just saying I thought it could’ve been better. Anyway, the opening scene of Narc grabs you by the throat with some wild shaky-cam action, but Carnahan doesn’t overuse it the way a less skilled director might. Once that chaotic first scene is over, he switches to a more traditional shooting style for the remainder of the film.

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