Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - The Year in Review - Best Movies

We come to it at last. I loved this film year, and I'm definitely not one who declares, each December, whether or not it was a good year for movies. I simply had a ball. I saw and reviewed more movies in 2010 than in any other year, and 12 of those movies landed in my 5-star column (if we must compare, last year there were only 9).

You can read my Top Ten of 2010 list now at, complete with honorable mentions and the two runners-up that were very hard to demote. CLICK HERE.

*For more year-end fun, check out my Worst Films of the Year, as well as my essay/exercise, "If I Were a Movie." 

*Still here? Then read my best and worst of 2009, 2008 and 2007.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

'Rabbit Hole' Review

I can't say my tastes align with all of the awards bodies this year (I simply do not get the whole Mila Kunis thing), but in a year packed with great female turns, I'd be very happy to see Nicole Kidman among the Best Actress nominees for Oscar. Though she's made some interesting choices through the better part of the last decade, I don't believe I've ever seen Kidman give less than a fine performance, and her work in "Rabbit Hole" is her best since "The Hours."

And on that note, I've never been with the consensus that the actress's "work" has gotten in the way of her work. I'm talking, of course, about Kidman's lips and whatever else she's altered, which critics have notoriously cited as a barrier against her plausibility as an actor. I disagree. Either that or I'm just missing something. I've always felt she's embodied her characters in whichever ways they require.

Read more on what I had to say about her and her new film in my review of "Rabbit Hole," now online at CLICK HERE.

Monday, December 27, 2010

'If I Were a Movie'

In one of multiple year-end articles, I put myself in the shoes of my favorite and most-detested films of 2010. So much fun was this exercise, I made it my Year in Review round-up for

To read the article, and thus check out my Top 10 films of the year for the first of three times, CLICK HERE. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays

...from Your Movie Buddy.

Hope you're all getting your Holiday rest. CHEERS.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Animal Kingdom' Review

I'm finally chiming in on the superb Australian crime thriller "Animal Kingdom." Read my mini-review, over at my work blog, Popcorn for Dinner. CLICK HERE.

I'm rooting for you, Jacki!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 - The Year in Review - Worst Movies

I think I'll let my boo (hehe) from "The Princess Bride" introduce this year's bottom-of-the-barrel cinema:

"Boo! Boo! Rubbish, Filth, Slime, Muck. Boo...Boo...Boo!!!"

It's true: these movies royally sucked. So much so that they get their own special year-end article from moi. To read all about it, in my special feature over at, click the link below.
(Next week: the year's BEST.)

'True Grit' Review

Oh, Hailee Steinfeld. You were such a revelation in the Coen Brothers' "True Grit." I'm sorry I cut you out of my "If I Ran the Oscars" article, which arrives next week. I didn't want to buy into the category fraud that's been dropping you into the Supporting Actress field, and, frankly, you weren't quite good enough to unseat any of my five Best Actresses (it's been a very strong year for leading ladies, as you know).

I did, however, sing your praises in my new review of "True Grit," which is now online at CLICK HERE to read it. And fear not, you're probably going to get an Oscar nomination anyway.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

'Was I good?'

Yes, dear, you were, and I don't think I would have wanted anyone else filling in as Nina Sayers's understudy. But...

...awards-worthy you were not. I don't care what the HFPA and SAG have to say.

Friday, December 17, 2010

'I Love You Phillip Morris' Review

I only just "liked"  this long-delayed gay crime comedy, which largely pleases then starts to test your patience. But I sure did love Phillip Morris himself, played by an impossibly endearing Ewan McGregor. Best Supporting Actor nomination?  If only.

Read my mixed review of "I Love You Phillp Morris," now online at CLICK HERE.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Posters of the Year 2010

It's that time of year again! To count down the best movie posters of the past 12 months. I opted to compile this year's countdown over at my work blog,'s Popcorn for Dinner. It's a fun read, I promise you. Are your favorites on the list?

CLICK HERE for the countdown. To check out my poster picks for the last three years, CLICK HERE and HERE and HERE.

'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader' Review

If you've never seen a "Narnia" film, and you're curious, the best one to give your time to is "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," which is guided by a better director and fashioned with far better visuals. But seriously, why waste your time with this flick during awards season? I can count on at least 10 fingers the wiser options waiting for you.

The "Narnia" kids search for a better script.

Read my full review of "Narnia 3," now online at CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Things I Love About 'The Social Network'

Last night I treated myself to a second screening of "The Social Network," the smartest, speediest, coolest and, most likely, best movie of the year.

I didn't want to take notes again, but I started jotting down what I loved and my hand couldn't keep up. Repeat viewings of great movies are the best. You've got the foundation down, and now you can focus on the struts.

Let's take a brief, mostly chronological look at my select highlights from this most inspiring -- and consistently refreshing -- of films.


* "Stairmaster."

* That its perpetually low lighting requires you to watch it in a very dark room (and that my theater during this viewing was completely empty save one late-arriving couple).

* That the ambient sounds in the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross make you think of circuits working, or brain cells firing, or code...coding.

* That at the same time Zuckerberg is whizzing through the Frankensteinian creation of FaceMash, we see an elite batch of Phoenix Club partiers, who didn't invite the geek but will soon be enamored with the fruits of his genius.

* "Moving right along..."


* That Fincher can occasionally put Armie Hammer and double Josh Pence in the same frame by keeping Pence just slightly out of focus.

* How the simple wearing of sandals can speak volumes about a new type of entrepreneur.

* That geeks have never looked cooler, mainly because these particular geeks have changed all of our lives.

* "I can't stop staring at that loop of Niagara Falls, which has nothing to do with the Caribbean..."

* The fun connotations you can apply to that dart Mark plays with while hacking.

* That it's just shy of being JUST as engrossing and exhilarating the second time around.


* That Mark lifts his legal pad during depositions to reveal a page full of doodles.

* How the moments of creative spark and innovation could put a great many bajillion-dollar action sequences to shame.

* "The site's live." [voice fails]

* That it boasts the year's finest and tightest ensemble cast, and all of the principal actors are under 30.

* That it makes you feel like you've been given an insider's tour of Harvard.

* That Natalie Portman managed to sneak into not one, but two of the year's best movies ("Which movie star?").

* "It will never be finished, like fashion will never be finished..."


* How beautifully Rooney Mara's Erica stands her ground when confronted by Mark in the club ("I don't want to be rude to my FRIENDS").

* That Fincher and Sorkin take only the most delicious opportunities to liken Zuckerberg to a mad scientist ("We have to expand...").

* That the new setting of Stanford is revealed on the panty-wearing butt of a coed (sorry, it's an appreciation-of-tone thing, not a sexist thing).

* "You're Sean Parker?"
   "Aha...the shoe's on the other..."

   "Table. Which is turned."

* The priceless cameo performance by film producer Douglas Urbanski as the dry and unaffected Harvard president, Larry Summers, whose shooting down of the Winklevi is a joy ("I don't know who they are, but they look like they want to sell me a Brooks Brothers franchise").

* The sound Mark makes while falling asleep and humiliating Eduardo in a meeting with a potential New York investor (played by Aaron Sorkin, no less). It's like a "glottle stop," or a "gag reflex." In fact, it's kind of like the sound Colin Firth makes in "The King's Speech," the movie that's seeming less and less a worthy adversary for Fincher's masterpiece.

* The brilliant casting of Justin Timberlake ("A Sean-a-thon").

* "Private behavior is a relic of a time gone by..."


* The amazing smoothness and effectiveness of Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall's Oscar-bound, cross-chronological editing.

* The sad pain of a shattered frienship that you feel ping-ponging across the deposition table.

* The awesome power and earth-shaking resonance of the words, "Welcome to Facebook."

* That the boundlessly gifted stylist David Fincher has one of the savviest, most bad-ass 20-somethings around living inside his 40-something body.

* The isolated, dreamlike, frozen-in-time beauty of the regatta scene -- a reason in itself why DP Jeff Cronenweth should net an Oscar nom.

* Thinking about Eduardo hunting for advertisers in Manhattan (personal reasons).


* The parallel that's created between Christy setting fire to her scarf in Eduardo's apartment and the company catching fire with a $500K investment.

* The terrible emotional impact of Eduardo's "ambush" and eruption -- easily one of the strongest emotional moments in film this year.

* One million users ("REFRESH!!").

* Sean Parker's "paranoia."

* "Farm animals."

* The f**k-you postscript that insists on noting the Winklevi placed sixth when rowing for the U.S. team in the Beijing Olympics.

* Friend request -- REFRESH, REFRESH, REFRESH.

* And finally, moving out of order a bit, the mini-monologue that should be filed away in the annals of great mini-monologues...the one that knocks you back in your chair...the one, some variety of which, I'd like to fire at a heaping pile of other movies that dared to ask for my...attention:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

'Burlesque' Review

So, everybody knew the majority of critics would boo "Burlesque" off the proverbial stage. But, I'm sorry, I don't exactly trust you if you didn't have a good bit of fun in this all-for-entertainment musical. It entertained the hell out of me, crap script and all.

Read my full review, now online at CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kerry Washington Interview

I don't need to tell you I was thrilled to sit down -- for a full half-hour -- with one of my favorite movie-improvers, the gorgeous and gifted Kerry Washington. She really was a joy to talk to, playing by her own breezy rules and not the rules of an agent or studio. The full feature is below.

Kerry Washington means business
...sort of
The traffic-stopping star of Night Catches Us and For Colored Girls has used her formidable skills as a serious actress to build an enviable career. But off camera, she balances her heavy work load by keeping her mood light.

By R. Kurt Osenlund

Kerry Washington is busy. As I enter her hotel suite on a late afternoon in mid-October, the 33-year-old actress is seated at the far end of the room, huddled over a long wooden desk topped with notes, folders and a datebook. With pencil in hand, she's on the phone, fielding questions from another journalist about her role in Night Catches Us, a Philly-made indie she's in town to promote during its run in the 19th Philadelphia Film Festival.

“The rewards are different when doing a smaller film,” I hear her say as I make my way past. She's wearing a stylish, knee-length dress with a painterly print; a black blazer tailored to her lean physique; and cream-colored platform pumps that must make a mean clack when she moves through a hallway. With everything but the stare-sharpening glasses, she looks like a hotshot editrix, or maybe a no-joke CEO, more than ready to snap her fingers and bark orders.

But that's not at all who I meet when Washington slips in to greet me in a small room next to her all-business headquarters. Flashing a smile too perfect for real life, the star of such films as Ray, Lakeview Terrace and The Last King of Scotland suddenly seems quite incapable of barking. She's cordial, unfussy and refreshingly off-script. She's the sort of person you almost instantly wish were part of your social circle.

“You've got some great hair going on here,” she says to me, motioning toward my head. I smile, mainly at the irony that this gorgeous woman, with her pristinely-in-place black curls resting softly on her shoulders, is giving me hairstyle compliments. Washington is smaller than she looks on screen, which is of course partly due to the fact she's no longer stretched to a size of 70 by 30 feet.

“No one should see themselves that big,” she says with a laugh, acknowledging that she has yet to master the skill of “gracefully” watching her own work. She admits to being the only actress from Tyler Perry's ensemble drama For Colored Girls who hasn't seen the finished cut. Winding back the clock, she recalls the time she first saw herself in action. While watching TV with a boyfriend, she flipped to a channel that was playing Save the Last Dance, the 2001 urban romance she refers to as her “first big movie.”

“It was very surreal,” she says, “like, 'who is that person?'”

Washington with Julia Stiles in Save the Last Dance.

The person in Save the Last Dance was an unknown just starting to show her knack for stealing scenes. The person sitting across from me is someone who's grown into one of the more intriguing actresses of her generation – someone whose association with a film can affect whether or not you're going to see it. She can ably raise the tough-girl factor while playing sidekick to Angelina Jolie's assassin in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, or, as a fiery potential mistress, bring a sassy allure to an otherwise forgettable film like I Think I Love My Wife. In the role of a blind love interest, she can add grace to ungraceful fare like Fantastic Four, or brighten up the casts of Spike Lee films like She Hate Me or Miracle at St. Anna. Quite simply, she makes movies better.

This year, Washington has eschewed big Hollywood films and stuck strictly to more personal, art house titles. In May, she appeared opposite Annette Bening and Naomi Watts in Mother and Child, a maternal drama from female-centric filmmaker Rodrigo García. She played Lucy, a woman looking to adopt but encountering problems with the birth mother. In For Colored Girls, the powerhouse adaptation of the landmark play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Washington is Kelly, another character searching for alternative paths to motherhood. And in Night Catches Us, a unique tale of former Black Panthers living in Philadelphia in 1976, Washington finally plays a mother, whose devotion to her daughter impacts a key portion of the plot.

“It's so much fun,” she says of working on independent projects, speaking again of the “rewards” she was discussing when I entered. “I love what I do, really love it, so I enjoy working on any film, but smaller films can be more creatively fulfilling. You get to see more of the process. That's what I'm drawn to right now.”

Washington with Anthony Mackie in Night Catches Us.

Regarding the motherly themes she's been exploring, Washington says she found a lot of inspiration from her own mother, specifically for her latest film. In Night Catches Us, Washington stars as Patricia, an ex-Panther who's invented a new life for herself in an attempt to leave her activism, and the strife that surrounded it, behind her. Washington's mother, Valerie, informed the actress' approach to her character's desire to make things perfect, the way she tolerated the polyester costumes on hot production days (“How'd you wear that stuff, Mom?!”), and her understanding of her character's politics.

“My parents weren't involved with the Panther party, but they had friends who were,” Washington says. “It's definitely something that was talked about in our home. What I like about this film is it breaks down the stereotypical images people see when they think about Black Panthers – the fist in the air, the machine guns – and gets to the humanity of real people on an intimate scale. In my experience, any political group, be it Panthers, Tea Partiers, Democrats, Republicans, whatever, is essentially based around people doing what they believe to be the best things for themselves. It may not be the same as what you or I believe, but I think it basically comes from a good place.”

Written and directed by local filmmaker Tanya Hamilton, Night Catches Us (now playing in limited release) was shot in Philadelphia. Washington's never lived in the city, but she's familiarized herself with a lot of its hotspots, thanks to her father's longtime involvement with the Penn Relays.

“When I was a child, we'd come every year as a family,” she says. “We'd stay in hotels and visit the Art Museum, the Franklin Institute, the Liberty Bell.”

Washington says a lot of what drew her to her role in Night Catches Us – which also features her friend and She Hate Me costar Anthony Mackie – was the film's honest depiction of an under-examined aspect of black culture in America. It's the same thing she and so many other people appreciate about For Colored Girls, which plumbs the experience of the black American female like few texts ever have. Washington lights up when talking about For Colored Girls, and for good reason. Apart from its cultural significance, the superbly acted movie (now playing everywhere) places her in a super-stellar cast that includes Loretta Devine, Whoopi Goldberg, Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, Kimberly Elise, Anika Noni Rose and Janet Jackson.
Washington with Phylicia Rashad and Anika Noni-Rose in For Colored Girls.
“My favorite memory from the shoot was when we finished the last scene,” Washington says. “We were all on a rooftop, and when we finished and went back downstairs, we just saw this line of chairs with the names of all these incredible women on them: Whoopi Goldberg, Loretta Devine, Phylicia Rashad... To be able to see the names of all these accomplished and talented women of color in one place was amazing.”

One of the names, of course, was Washington's, and it's hard to think of a better way to illustrate the heights to which this Bronx-born star has risen. She deserves to be included in a lineup of great talents. She can command your attention on the big screen, starring in one of the movies she's improving, or face-to-face, in three dimensions. She's looking ahead, saying among other things that she dreams to work with Clint Eastwood, and even as we speak, she needs to wrap up and get to an interview with ABC. But it's not all work and no play for Washington. Before we part ways, and she exits the elevator we're now sharing, her heels indeed clacking, she offers a final confession.

“I have this image of being this serious actor person,” she says, “and that's definitely a big part of who I am. But my family would tell you different. They'd tell you I'm really just goofy and silly.”
*This article was previously published in the December 2010 issue of ICON Magazine. It has been reprinted with permission.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

'Love & Other Drugs' Review

Ed Zwick's wish-it-were-more-adult dramedy "Love & Other Drugs" surely aims to be this year's "Up in the Air," and for a while it seems like it might be a passable distant cousin, but a schizophrenic devotion to crude humor and unconvincing sap squashes its hopes.

For more, and a bit on Annie Hathaways breastesses, read my full review, now online at CLICK HERE.

Happy Thanksgiving

Soak up some holiday spirit.

Love, Your Movie Buddy

Monday, November 22, 2010

'127 Hours' review, Take 2

I already reviewed "127 Hours" about a month ago, but whaddaya know, I went ahead and did it again.

Why not read both? The new, more concise version is now online at CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guest-Blogging at The Film Experience

Earlier this week, I had the great pleasure of guest-blogging at my favorite film blog on the planet, The Film Experience, while its creator, Nathaniel Rogers, took a trip to Iceland. I've been reading his site for a number of years, and it was quite exciting to be featured on it. Fun fun. Here's hoping my fellow TFE readers didn't find my posts too snarky or verbose.

If you're curious, please take a peek at my contributions. On Monday I turned the spotlight on a memorable snippet of Peter Sarsgaard's terrific performance in "Shattered Glass," and on Tuesday, I gave a breakdown of new DVD releases, praising "The Kids Are All Right" and sticking it to a few other titles.

It was a treat to be included among Nat's insightful contributors, and I hope to pitch in again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Not Just 'For Colored Girls'

I don't have the precious minutes to do a lengthy write-up on Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls" (nor did it find a spot in my film-review agenda), but it really left a glowing impression on me. I even found myself liking the things I didn't like (I'm talking to you, Ms. Jackson).

This is a rare and wonderful trip to the movies, despite the grossly excessive melodrama, cliches and nonstop suffering. It really kills me that all the performances will likely be ignored by the Academy -- on top of more obvious reasons, it just doesn't have the reviews -- because they are without question some of the year's best. Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine and Anika Noni Rose are particularly great. No lover of actors should dare miss out.

Meanwhile, have you been to the Web site? It's a beaut, which is typical of Tyler Perry film marketing. Also, check back next month, when I post my feature on the lovely and gifted Kerry Washington, co-star of "For Colored Girls." I for one am very excited about it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

'Morning Glory' Review

Sure, you'll giggle and smile a bit in "Morning Glory," the new media-biz flick from the writer of "The Devil Wears Prada." But don't think for a second you're going to get the kind of quality time you enjoyed with Andy Sachs and Miranda Priestly. "Morning Glory" wants to be a vintage farce and an edgy new comedy at once, and it never finds its groove.

My full review of "Morning Glory is now online at (Note: In the review, the line, "...Diane Keaton plays Colleen Peck..." is supposed to say, "...Diane Keaton plays Diane Keaton..." Guess that got lost in translation.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

THR's Actress Buffet

I'm way behind the eightball on this, but I didn't want to just proceed as if The Hollywood Reporter's delicious roundtable with six major actresses didn't happen. You can watch clips of the full hour-long interview at THR's Web site (and by god, don't interrupt the feed -- you'll be forced to start over!). For now, enjoy the exceedingly monochromatic cover:

If you don't have the patience to watch the whole video (trust me, it's addictive), Nathaniel Rogers live blogged it last week over at The Film Experience.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

'Saw 3D' Review

This was, truly, an excrutiating film to sit through. The shallow slicing and dicing is easy to brush off once you exit the theater (which I did alongside a man of about 70 -- what did he think of it?!), but so many moments throughout are deeply sick and cringe-worthy. It feels like someone's scooping at your insides with a shovel.

Read my review of "Saw 3D," which I braved last week while visiting New York. It's now online at CLICK HERE.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

'Rosemary's Baby' Steps

Happy Halloween, y'all. I've been trying like hell to get myself a copy of Roman Polanski's satanic classic, to no avail (yes, I know is always an option, but I'm determined to find an in-store copy -- don't I remember seeing them just last year in every Halloween bargain bin?). Anyhoo, in place of my purchase, I'm linking to a handful of articles on "Rosemary's Baby," the movie I wish I were watching today.

* Roger Ebert's 1968 review of the film can be found HERE.
* The Guardian calls it the No. 2 horror film of all time HERE.
* Terrifying news that Michael Bay is remaking the movie (news which, THANK GOD, was later denied) can be read HERE.
* The 2007 New York Times obituary for "Rosemary's Baby" author Ira Levin can be found HERE.
* Love this -- names Rosemary's little demon among the Top Ten Baby Halloween Costumes HERE.
* Nick Carr at The Huffington Post looks at the Dakota, then and now (well, 2009), HERE.

'Hereafter' Review

Sorry, Clint, but your latest really killed my evening. Don't I remember feeling this sort of disappointment before? Ah, yes -- last year, after "Invictus."

Read my review of "Hereafter," Eastwood's new misfire, now online at CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

'Rabbit Hole' Poster and Trailer

I'm a big John Cameron Mitchell fan, and I'm really hoping this based-on-a-play grief drama marks the renaissance of Ms. Nicole Kidman. Behold, something to still be excited about as 2010 winds down:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

'Conviction' Review

Great performances and on-point casting go a long way in this Betty Anne Waters biopic, but not long enough. It's all way too "Law & Order" for the big screen.

Read my full review of "Conviction," now online at CLICK HERE.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

'Red' Review

Helen Mirren fan, are you? Then you may want to see her wield weapons like a pro in "Red," an adaptation of a comic book few people have ever heard of. Otherwise, this perpetually depreciating action comedy isn't much worth your dough.

My full review of "Red" is now online at CLICK HERE.

'Never Let Me Go' Review

I finally caught up with the Mark Romanek drama "Never Let Me Go" last night, after sadly missing a screening a few weeks back. I whipped up a quick review this morning, facing some fears and offering some criticisms, of course.

The review is now up on the soon-to-be-revamped Good Life Blog. CLICK HERE

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

19th Philadelphia Film Festival preview

This year's Philadelphia Film Festival boats the finest lineup I've seen in close to six years of covering and/or being involved with film fests in Philly. The roster includes "Black Swan," 127 Hours," "Uncle Boonmee" and the lovely and heart-wrenching "Blue Valentine," which had the great pleasure of seeing on Monday (it's the love story of the year). Below is a snippet of the preview article before the jump.

FROM BUCKS LOCAL NEWS: I've never been so excited over a local film festival as I was at the press party for the 19th Philadelphia Film Festival, where reps from hosting organization The Philadelphia Film Society announced a stunning roster of hotly anticipated movies. Based on the hype out of previous 2010 fests and what I've seen myself, I've culled a list of 10 can't-miss picks from the crop of over 100 domestic, foreign and documentary features. You'll see language like “best” and “finest” used generously in the passages ahead, and it's no hyperbole, folks. It speaks to the quality of the programming of this year's event, unfolding from Oct. 14 through 24 at six venues throughout the city.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Difference Makers in the Movies

My latest assignment for South Philly Review is an article pointing out individuals in films who make a difference, a topic selected especially for the paper's "Difference Makers" issue. With this guideline, my choices are narrowed down to, oh, every other film that's released.

I tried to keep my selections within the brackets of the last 20 years, and also tried to highlight a few less obvious change-makers, whose good deeds don't necessarily make headlines or follow formulas.

Check out which movies made the cut over at CLICK HERE. And, tell me, which titles would you add?

'It's Kind of a Funny Story' Review

Actually, it kind of sucks.

Read my full review of "It's Kind of a Funny Story," now online at CLICK HERE.

'The Tempest' Trailer

Well, it certainly looks tempestuous...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

'The Social Network' Review

I haven't stopped thinking about "The Social Network" since I saw it last Thursday. This is going to sound foolish and hyperbolic no matter which way I say it, but unless you're Armond White, this staggeringly sharp, zeitgeist-grabbing master stroke is going to be among your favorite movies of the year.

My rave review of "The Social Network" is now online at CLICK HERE. And expect more commentary to come on this most inspiring of films.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

'Catfish' Review

"Catfish" thinks it's ultra-important, and it's highly interesting, to be sure, but methinks this guess-if-it's-real DIY doc is going to slip swiftly from memory as that other, hugely superior Facebook film begins to occupy the thoughts and conversations of critics and audiences alike.

But that's not to say "Catfish" isn't worth seeing and discussing, too. Read my review of the film, now online at CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Talk of 'The Town'

I feel compelled to write a bit more about "The Town," which I in no way expected to walk out of with such smiley satisfaction. "Did you like it?" a fellow critic asked me, to which I usually offer at least some degree of half-heartedness. Here, it was full-on enthusiasm. My admiration for this film spreads well beyond the film itself and into the reality of what it means for its maker. I will admit that I was perhaps less critical of the craft because I was so suprised at how good it was for who it was made by, and I may well have picked more nits if it were the work of a seasoned pro. But how I feel about what a triumph this is for Ben Affleck directedly affected my experience, and I can safely say few theatrical experiences this year have been as enjoyable.

That's something I don't think should be discounted, as so many films are, at minimum, dusted with disappoint, choking up the entertainment value. There's never a point where "The Town" disappoints, never a point where it bores. The pacing is one crucial element I didn't heavily touch upon in my review, but it deserves acknowledgement. And while my mention of a lack of a compromise may seem contradictory when discussing a film with so conventional a narrative, there's no denying the uncompromising nature of the movie's tone and style, which are both of a grit and verve that so many other Hollywood flicks would have simply glossed over. That final showdown with Jeremy Renner? Gripping and ugly -- it brings you back to films with balls, which in this genre are scarce despite copious promo material advertising the contrary.

I know this all sounds defensive, and perhaps I'm defending myself against myself. So much of me felt that awarding 5 stars to a movie like "The Town" was simply preposterous, especially when the few other films who've drawn that honor from me this year have had titles like "Winter's Bone" and "I Am Love." "The Town" -- a generic crime thriller born of Hollywood that from the outset looks terrible, is made by a seemingly slumping superstar, and really has nothing of luster apart from its intriguing cast. It's not really my cup of anything. Or so I thought. Turns out it's a shocking, galvanizing reward and one of my favorite movie stories of the year (that is, the story outside of the movie). Calm down, self: this bitch is impressive, and it deserves those bloody stars in its own right.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

'Resident Evil: Afterlife' Review

In the words of Agent Smith, "Why, Mr. Anderson? Why, why, why?"

Catch my review of the awfully unnecessary fourth installment in the sadly undead "Resident Evil" franchise over at CLICK HERE.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

'The American' Review

So, given the box office totals, the new Clooney "thriller" was a successful bait-and-switch, drawing crowds of mainstream moviegoers into a film as slow as honey. Many of those folks were no doubt ready to claw their eyes out; I, of course, thought the whole thing was pretty superb.

My full review of "The American" (which, apologies, reiterates some of that bait-and-switch chatter) is now online at CLICK HERE. Keep poking around for a brief word on "Casino Jack and the United States of Money," a film that's as overstuffed as "The American" is super slim.