Movie Madness

My movie reviews and rants at your fingertips.

Monthly Archives: July 2010

Winter’s Bone

Ree Dolly is a 17 year old girl dealing with a great deal more than someone her age should. Her mom is basically catatonic and her father is constantly evading the law, forcing Ree to raise her 2 younger siblings on her own. The film follows Ree as she tries to keep her family together and keep the house from being turned over to the bondsman her dad dealt with. When he skips his court date, she must scramble to keep her family from being homeless.

Seeing this movie in the summer is a pleasant break from the hot sun. The color pallette of the cinematography is sullen and cold, like a cloudy winter’s day. The film, based on the book of the same name, unfolds slow and deliberate. It isn’t sluggish, but the plot unfolds like a true literary film. It concerns itself more with what is going on with the characters than with specticle. And that is what makes it resonate.

The characters are rich and real, many times I forgot these area actors. The sets (I overheard) were shot on location, with almost everything being found looking like it does. The attention to detail takes you into Ree’s world and you feel it wash over you. A great summer indie, 4 out of 5 Stars

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Inception

This is leaps and bounds the best film of the summer and one of the best films of the year. Christopher Nolan takes a break from the Batman franchise to give a film so original, the mind can barely grasp the genius of it. Complete with an international cast that is perfect, Inception is THE film to see.

Inception has a plot that is intelligent but a bit complex. To avoid giving too much away, I’ll give a brief sweeping description. Leo DiCaprio plays Tom Cobb, a man who enters people’s dreams and extracts their deepest darkest secrets. That is until he gets hired to do a job that takes his skills to a whole other level.

The cast of this new kind of heist movie is better than I could have imagined. Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Marion Coitilard all excel at helping Nolan and DiCaprio with making an amazing mind-bender. In hopes of avoiding spoilers, just go see this movie. 10 years from now, we will still be talking about this movie and the brilliance of it. The fight scenes are crisp but also take on a whole new dimension. The acting is sharp and yet realistic given the fantasy element. 5 out of 5 stars.

**If you can, see it on IMAX like I did. It made it even more awesome (in the dictionary way, not skateboarder landed a sweet jump way)

Cyrus

John C. Reilly is a rare actor. One that can move seemlessly between comedy and drama and convey both quite well. Here, he is given the opportunity to step up his game. Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei give each other a run for the money.

John stars as John, a lonely divorcee who can’t get over his ex from 7 years ago. After being dragged to a party by his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) and her fiance, and some failed attempts at a conversation, John meet Molly. Molly, played by Marisa Tomei, is a lovable and adorable women who seems to be taken by John almost immediately. After a VERY fast couple of days, John “just happens” upon Molly’s house and meets her son, Cyrus. Here is where the movie takes off.

The movie draws heavy from the oedipal relationship between Cyrus and Molly. The closer John seems to be getting to Molly, the more Cyrus attempts to tear them apart. At first it appears playful, but it quickly becomes apparent to John that what Cyrus is doing is intentional.

The comedy feels very easy to get but the best parts seem to be improv. All three leads do a great job of playing off of each other; challenging each other to go further. Though the final act is predictable, it still feels mostly genuine. It’s everything Greenberg is without the pretentiousness. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Let me first say that these movies are a guilty pleasure for me. I want to hate them and everything they stand for, but I can’t help but love them. So there is my disclaimer…

I find it interesting how the Twilight franchise continues to get talented directors for their films. I can’t think of another franchise that had multiple directors, all of the same credibility (that being a good thing). In Eclipse, David Slade takes the franchise to new heights. And in this way, he continues to improve on the second film as the second film improved on the first.

This time around, Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard replacing Rachel Lefevre) is using an army of young bloods (rookie vampires) is find our dear Bella. Also, Bella must confront her feelings for Jacob as she approaches her wedding date. Edward must work with Jacob to stop the young bloods and both try to dissuade Bella from becoming a vampire.

Now this plot sounds rather basic and thin, and it is. The strength of the film comes from fleshing out the characters more. Jasper and Rosalie, quite one-dimensional in the first two films, find room to breathe as we learn their backstories. The film, like the others in its franchise, do an excellent job of marketing to its core audience. Though I’m not a 12-year-old girl, I enjoy these films for what they are…and that is simple entertainment. Yes it has its flaws and yes Stephanie Meyer is a horrible writer, but Eclipse is good, mindless fun. 4 out of 5 stars

Micmacs

Jean-Pierre Jeunet has a reputation of being a sort of French Wes Anderson. His movies are whimsical and have little pieces of fantasy. This time around, the parts aren’t as good as the whole.

Micmacs is a great film for people who enjoy Amelié or Delicatessen. The story follows  Bazil, a gunshot victim who is trying to live after the accident loses him his apartment and job. He works as a street performer until he meets a small family of similar people who reside in/protect a landfill. With their assistance, they avenge his accident by pitting the two responsible arms dealers against each other.

I found many similarities between this and The Fantastic Mr. Fox (a Wes Anderson film no less). Both deal with the prey becoming almost predatory. Since Bazil doesn’t have a lot of dialogue (some characters don’t talk at all), the film also reminds me a bit of the films of Monsieur Hulot or Bean, comedic characters who talk through expression and action.

I found the movie quite fun to watch, I even laughed out loud a few times. Unfortunately, many will say this isn’t as good as Amelié, but it doesn’t have to be. The mere idea that Jeunet is still the crafty and ingenious director (minus Alien Resurrection, of course) makes him a man whose films are always worth seeing. A good example of a foreign film that could cut through the American distrust of foreign language movies…hopefully. 2.5 out of 5 stars