Archive for August, 2010

Oceans

Posted in Documentary with tags on August 31, 2010 by Mark Hobin

French nature documentary film by Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud, distributed in the United States by Disneynature. The film was shot over the course of four years and explores the Earth’s five oceans: Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern and Arctic. Stunningly intimate window into a wide array of sea life.  There isn’t much penetrating information, however.  Story doesn’t have the narrative focus of  March of the Penguins for example. Just lots and lots of hauntingly beautiful images of sea life. In this case, that is enough and it’s pretty darn entertaining.

Piranha 3D

Posted in Action, Comedy, Horror, Thriller with tags on August 27, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketSilly horror film about an exceptionally vicious group of piranhas that attack spring breakers at Lake Victoria.  Combining blatant 80s-style nudity with the movie Jaws, this action thriller fails to inspire fear as it goes for the laughs at every turn.  As a parody, there are indeed some funny bits, but it’s too self-aware of its own campiness.  The cynicism gets a little tiresome after awhile.  From the actors, there are no performances, just random attractive 20-somethings being devoured for 90 minutes.  As a result, there is no sympathy for the personality-free victims.  The cartoonish violence reaches an apex when a girl’s face gets ripped off as her hair gets caught in the propeller of a motorboat. A better title would have been When Animals Attack Girls Gone Wild.  Remake of the original 1978 film Piranha.

Zoolander

Posted in Comedy with tags on August 25, 2010 by Mark Hobin

A male model is manipulated into assassinating the Malaysian Prime Minister.  Deliberately dumb comedy has moments of greatness but it‘s a scattershot affair.  Will Ferrell as evil designer Mugatu is hilarious.  His brainwashing technique is delightfully memorable.  And that gas station scene with the young male models, underscored to the tune “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” is genius.  Writer, director, producer and star Ben Stiller is indeed talented, but his excessive mugging in the title role, grows a tad tiresome after awhile.  We get it, Derek Zoolander is dim-witted and vain.  Overall an enjoyably stupid farce.  3 words: “Orange Mocha Frappuccino!”

Don’t Look Now

Posted in Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller with tags on August 20, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Psychological thriller about parents who retreat to Italy after the tragic death of their daughter in a drowning accident.  Director Nicolas Roeg masterfully creates an almost dreamlike atmosphere using the canals of Venice as a backdrop.  The surroundings are hauntingly eerie.  The story develops in such a way that impels the viewer to keep watching.  Indeed a genuine sense of dread permeates the action.  At times, certain stylistic devices of the filmmaker like glass breaking, the recurrence of the color red and the use of slow motion, can feel a bit self consciously arty.  And that infamous love scene which awkwardly intercuts footage of the couple getting dressed for dinner with unusually graphic sex, is hopelessly dated and unsexy.  However these are minor criticisms in an intensely absorbing, spooky mood piece of a film.  Based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier who also wrote the short story The Birds and the novel Rebecca.

Nanny McPhee Returns

Posted in Comedy, Family, Fantasy with tags on August 20, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Delightful family-oriented comedy has the titular nanny returning once again to assist a struggling mother with her mischievous children and their two cousins.  Christianna Brand’s Nurse Matilda character is adapted for a second time with satisfying, albeit conventional, results.  The story is sweet and there’s a mood of decency and goodness that graces the proceedings.  Star Emma Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay, is enchanting as the Mary Poppins-like governess.  Perhaps unexpected is how captivating the youthful cast is, particularly actor Eros Vlahos who suggests Little Lord Fauntleroy in his hilariously fussy portrayal as the city living Cyril.  Wholesome fun for the young and the young at heart.  Film named Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang everywhere but the U.S. and Canada.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Posted in Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance with tags on August 13, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Action comedy about a passive rocker that must contend with the 7 evil exes of the new girl he is dating.  Plays fast and loose with plausible reality in exchange for utterly original hilarity.  The jokes are relentlessly fanciful, turning traditional movie conventions on their ear, with a playful nod toward comic books and video games.  With rapid-fire editing, displays of surrealism and non-sequitur humor, one can hardly catch their breath before the story takes off on another tangent.    The film is a true visual delight and it’s all a rather dizzying display.  English director Edgar Wright, best known for Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, tops himself with this imaginative gem.

The Other Guys

Posted in Action, Comedy with tags on August 10, 2010 by Mark Hobin

PhotobucketBuddy cop parody about a forensic accountant and a disgraced detective with anger issues, who join forces to apprehend a corrupt investor. Don’t bother making sense of the elaborate plot. The needlessly convoluted story is irrelevant. Absurdist comedy simply exists to have Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) act like an imbecile while Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) grows more exasperated at everything he does. For the most part it works. A running gag on Gamble’s success with attractive women is hilariously hard to explain and his obsession with the Little River Band song “Reminiscing” is delightfully annoying. On top of that, film has a high ratio of clever dialogue destined to become quotable classics. Director Adam McKay has worked with Ferrell in 3 movies prior: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and Step Brothers. Those films are a good standard by which to judge whether you’ll enjoy this film. It’s not essential viewing, but it is a worthwhile way to spend 107 minutes in search of a few laughs.

The Crazies

Posted in Action, Horror, Thriller with tags on August 9, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Something is causing the residents of Ogden Marsh, Iowa, to behave strangely and it’s up to a small town sheriff to investigate why.  Given the sheer number of bad horror attempts, the bar is already set pretty low for these types of films.  With that said, this slickly produced B-movie is a competent, but uninspiring entry in that genre.  It begs the question, why was this made?  Admittedly, this predominantly routine effort does have a few tensely exciting scenes that build suspense, and British born actor Joe Anderson is memorable as the American deputy.  But It falls short of similar but superior efforts like 28 Days Later.  Perhaps flaunting nauseating gore might have been the purpose.  That infected high school principal killing the patients strapped to their hospital beds is the nadir.  Script’s underlying “fear of the military” subtext feels chillingly all too real.

The Kids Are All Right

Posted in Comedy, Drama with tags on August 3, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Domestic dramedy about Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), a committed couple whose lives change after their 2 children contact the anonymous sperm donor responsible for being their biological father.  Completely modern setup initially feels like a writer’s conceit.  It’s the honest script that substantiates the film.  Each actor in the ensemble inhabits their character like a comfortable pair of jeans.  The vibe is relaxed and lived in.  The realization that this unconventional family is plagued by the same dysfunctions as traditional families isn’t earth shattering however.  Also, there is one strange shift in tone where a critical plot development is treated as a joke than with the seriousness it deserved.  Notwithstanding these flaws, the exceptional ensemble acting from the entire cast is what ultimately raises this quirky slice of life above the norm.

Invictus

Posted in Biography, Drama, History, Sports with tags on August 2, 2010 by Mark Hobin

Reverent account of how newly elected South African president Nelson Mandela used the nation’s rugby team to unite a divided country. The aftermath following the dismantling of apartheid is a fascinating subject, one which could provide material for several epics. Indeed, the movie is a handsomely mounted, beautifully shot, nicely acted effort that begs to be respected. It’s just that this sports drama is such a conspicuous plea for Oscar acceptance, it‘s more predictable formula than emotional storytelling. Focusing on the country’s involvement in the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a way to deal with larger political issues, is an interesting choice. Unfortunately the resulting matches aren’t especially exciting and only superficially address what was happening out in the streets. Furthermore, Nelson Mandela is so saintly, so utterly beatific in his bid to reconcile white and black South Africans, his character doesn’t seem human. To critique a story with such noble aspirations, feels almost iniquitous. Its heart is in the right place. Regrettably, the resulting film is one that is easy to respect, but hard to love.

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