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Film Review: Killing Them Softly (2012)

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | Comments Off

Anyone going into Killing Them Softly expecting an energetic or action-packed mobster movie will undoubtedly be disappointed.  If you thought last year’s Drive (2011) was too deliberately paced, then this will bother you even more.  It is heavy on dialogue and light on action but gripping at times nonetheless.  Moreover, it presents a sharp, albeit frank, critique on capitalism and America, which is referred to as more of a business than a country or community.  Despite its unhurried pace, morally vacant characters, and its story not amounting to a whole lot, Killing Them buy cheapest cialis online Softly is a stylishly shot and well-acted post-modern low-key crime drama.

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Film Review: Life of Pi (2012)

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | Comments Off

With astonishing advancements in technology as well as creative and resourceful direction, Yann Martel’s best-selling novel Life of Pi overcame its “unfilmmable” status.  Thanks to auteur director Ang Lee’s ingenuity and his crew’s technical talents, Life of Pi (2012) the film gracefully adapts the novel.  It is above all else a visual triumph with some of the most striking imagery of at least this year (and the 3D is pretty good too).  Furthermore, though the ending missteps slightly, the film is emotionally resonant with such a forthright lead performance and the dire situations Pi endures.  It is also a deeply thematic film about survival and faith.  Despite a somewhat jarring and misguided narrative framing and anticlimactic ending, Life of Pi is overall one of the top films of 2012 with gorgeous cinematography and an engrossing and emotional survival story (which rivals some of the best in recent years like Cast Away and 127 Hours); it is a joy, albeit frightful at times, to journey along with Pi.

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Film Review: Lincoln (2012)

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | Comments Off

After years and years of teasing with the possibility of giving audiences a definitive biopic on the 16th American President Abraham Lincoln, director Steven Spielberg has done just that, as the wait is certainly worth it for Lincoln (2012).  The film, though, does not cover all of his life; it just deals with the final year of the Civil War and his attempt to pass the 13th Amendment to free slaves for good.  Even with such a small window into the legendary man’s life, no other movie has captured the essence of Lincoln as adeptly and beautifully as this one, despite its humble scale and deliberate pacing.  Lincoln is a pretty accurate and poetically intimate portrayal of the 16th president filled with soaring performances, especially from the always-incredible Daniel Day-Lewis in the titular role.

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Film Review: Flight (2012)

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | Comments Off

After dabbling with three animated features, The man who brought audiences classics like Back to the Future (1985), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), and Forrest Gump (1994) finally returned to directing a live-action feature film with Flight (2012), his last being the excellent Cast Away (2000) – and it is a classy return indeed.  The film is alternately interesting and entertaining, if not entirely engrossing altogether.  The main downfall is its fairly predictable character arc, at least once it gets into the main story, and its Hollywood-ized ending, as positive the cautionary message is.  Even though it is not quite what you expect going into it, Flight is a remarkable and emotional, if not harrowing, character study and addiction drama severely bolstered by a solid ensemble cast led by a great Denzel Washington.

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Film Review: Skyfall (2012)

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | Comments Off

The Indiana Jones and James Bond film franchises had a major impact on my interest in and eventual passion for cinema.  So, when a new 007 movie is set to come out, I have awfully high expectations.  Fortunately, Skyfall (2012), the 23rd entry in the franchise, is not only worthy of the series’ 50th anniversary but also arguably the best or at the very least one of the best Bond films ever.  Apart from a few minor logical loopholes and tonal inconsistencies here and there, it is virtually bulletproof to criticism as it works on both blockbuster and dramatic levels. Featuring the absolute best visuals in the series and perhaps its best acting from a stellar ensemble cast, the ever engrossing and always entertaining Skyfall is one of the best films of 2012; it is visceral, spectacular, emotional and even relevant.

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Film Review: Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | Comments Off

Indeed, Wreck-It Ralph does for video games what Toy Story (1995) did for toys; it is Disney Animation’s equivalent to Pixar’s masterpiece.  Similarly, it is suitable for any age group, but especially those who grew up in the 80s and 90s with the golden age of classic arcade games and the rise of console video gaming, as it is full of nostalgia and subtle references that ardent gamers can pick up on.  Even with a straightforward formulaic Disney narrative, the movie excels emotionally.  Wreck-It Ralph is a clever, charming, memorable and overall marvelous film for all ages filled with copious amounts of humor and heart; it is likely the best animated film of 2012.

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Film Review: Cloud Atlas (2012)

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | Comments Off

Cloud Atlas (2012) is the epitome of a love it or hate it kind of movie.  It has largely divided audiences and critics between those who praise it as a masterpiece and those who criticize it as a colossal disaster of an experiment and wasting a massive budget. The truth lies somewhere in between. Indeed, it is experimental in nature given the epic scope and unique storytelling structure, but it is also an experiential film – one that should be felt more so than thought about, though there is much to think about as well (but probably best left for those willing to watch it multiple times). It is perhaps one of if not the most ambitious film of the year, at which it does not always achieve the greatness it seeks or even executes the fundamentals at all times.

Of course, one thing is certain: it is an immaculately crafted film, technically speaking, with gorgeous visuals and a sumptuous and engrossing original score but with the exception of poorly executed makeup that distracts at various times. Overall, Cloud Atlas is highly entertaining and thought-provoking, though at first glance it might be better experienced rather than dissected; viewers trying too hard to connect the dots will certainly be frustrated, whereas those who simply sit back and enjoy the genre-hopping stories for what they are ought to have a fun, fascinating cinematic experience – the subtext and message is another issue altogether, which for many can simply pass them by.

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Film Review: Sinister (2012)

Posted by on Jan 5, 2013 in Theatrical Reviews | Comments Off

Looking to rebound from the disappointing The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) remake and

recapture the potential displayed in his spellbinding debut The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), director Scott Derickson’s latest film Sinister (2012) infuses the tired found footage horror genre with some fresh blood.  He illustrates what it means to create a dread-filled atmosphere full of tension, though the film is not above cheap scares and jump cuts (pun intended).  Also, characters often resort to typically stupid horror movie behavior and the movie follows a clichéd structure, yet it is still a taut, absorbing movie.  Despite its predictability and formulaic plotting and characterizations, Sinister is an edgy, slow-burn found footage horror thriller that justifies the hackneyed device.  Furthermore, it is more disturbing and tense than it is gruesome gory and terrifying.

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Film Review: Argo (2012)

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Theatrical Reviews | 0 comments

Argo (2012) marks a three-for-three success rate for Ben Affleck who has reinvented

himself as one of Hollywood’s best young directors.  It may not be as gritty as Gone Baby Gone (2007) or as spectacular as The Town (2010), but it is still a great film.  It is based on the incredible true-story of the “Canadian Caper” mission to try and rescue six American diplomats from Iran during the tumultuous Ayotollah takeover and 1979 hostage crisis, and the screenplay was adapted from the 2007 Wired article “How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran” by Joshuah Bearman.  Given the continued tension between the West and the Middle East, particular Iran, it is a significant and relevant film.  Affleck’s taut direction mixed with a knack for the spectacle, as well as the comical this time around for some much-needed breathing room, help make it one of the year’s best films.  Argo is a suspenseful, well-acted, premier fact-based political thriller and detailed period piece (albeit with some artistic license taken with some facts) that is equal parts intelligent and entertaining.

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Film Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Theatrical Reviews | 0 comments

Rarely does an author adapt his own novel into a screenplay, but almost never does he also direct the film – Stephen Chbosky does exactly that with The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), which is based on his epistolary novel of the same name.

 Although this is neither the first screenplay he has written nor the first film he has directed, it is still a fantastic achievement.  The film is reminiscent of the late great John Huges’ classic high school/coming-of-age films like Sixteen Candles (1984) and The Breakfast Club (1985) but with even more depth given the surprisingly dark subject matter it delves into beyond the typical “angsty” teenage issues.  In all, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the complete package with a great deal of genuine humor and heart; it is a wonderful, smart, fun, nostalgic, poignant, truthful and ultimately valuable film for teens and adults alike.

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