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RE: Mini Reviews - 21/2/2009 6:48:38 PM   
matthewforan


Posts: 21051
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: My Hometown
Milk    

Directed by Gus Van Sant
Written by Dustin Lance Blank
Starring: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Alison Pill, Victor Garber    


Plot  

In the true story of a young gay man uprooting from his home in New York to San Francisco Harvey Milk (Penn) sets about to change the way cops, politicians and the vicious right wing of American politics treat him and other homosexuals. He and his friends are treated like second-class citizen; he decides to lend his voice to the cause by setting about to change their lives from within the administration. After many failings he finally sets about getting a team together to finally nudge his way into office. If he does he'll be the first openly gay man elected to office but many will do anything to see that he doesn't but many will rise with him to fight.  


One question must have gone through writers' Dustin Lance Blank's mind who will play his leading man after all the movie business has really yet to have a hugely successful gay man to take this film and make it their own. Of course not to long ago it was African Americans that had this problem then along came Sidney Poitier, Will Smith and of course the always charismatic and charming Denzel Washington. But in Sean Penn they have found an actor who has probably just had his role of a lifetime, a really fantastic performance by a man whose career is full of them.  

He is joined by some other marvellous performances, although the Academy seems to have singled out Brolin for a Best Supporting Actor role yet again I'm in disagreement as both Emile Hirsch who plays activist Cleve Jones and James Franco playing Milk's ex love interest are superb in their roles. The both of them take on not only Brolin but they don't look at all out of place next to Penn especially Hirsch.   

Along with the cast, other departments really have to take a bow, both in the art direction and the director himself. Van Sant might even have gone one better that Good Will Hunting and knowing my love for that movie that praise isn't dished out easily. His choice of bringing in archive footage really gives you a small insight into the country that America was at that time. When right wing politicians didn't hide anything, they knew what they were against and they said so. Some of the footage is very scary but it is the darkness to the film that is needed so you really appreciate the good.  

During the scenes when Harvey and his friends are finally able to celebrate their triumph I don't believe I've eve experienced a moment in film where I've been that happy for someone. Yes even the moment when Red and Andy finally meet again. But I honestly think that no one will not shed a tear of joy when they see when Harvey is finally elected to office. But don't let this fool you there are some incredible dark moments in the film, since I don't know if people have already seen the movie and it's based on a true story I really don't want to spoil anything but it's safe to say that more than a couple of people will be shedding tears at a few points in the film.  

I'm not going to lie, I knew nothing of Harvey Milk before seeing this film. I'm a fan of Sean Penn and that's basically what got me to see it and I've been thankful for it everyday since. Because Milk is a superb and uplifting story, it has much the same effect as the Shawshank Redemption, not a subject that you'd find yourself feeling that way but you do. It is put together by the great feel of Van Sant's directing, the authentic look of San Francisco and some truly wonderful performances Milk will be a film you remember with fond thoughts for a long time to come.    

Verdict
 
93%


< Message edited by matthewforan -- 21/2/2009 6:50:08 PM >


_____________________________

"The Irish have always been victims of negative stereotyping. I mean people think we're all drunks and brawlers. And sometimes that gets you so mad all you wanna do is get drunk and punch somebody"

Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can't Lose

Punchdrunk RIP


(in reply to matthewforan)
Post #: 1861
RE: Mini Reviews - 22/2/2009 5:57:39 PM   
SadFace

 

Posts: 1816
Joined: 1/1/2008
From: Derbyshire / Leicester
Great review, Matthew!

Milk has been one I really want to see but have not had the chance yet because of bloody GCSE revision


In the meantime, however:



Expect a review later next week. I thought Changeling was excellent, so I have high hopes for this.


_____________________________

Tobias, you blowhard.

quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

That's the most wrong I've ever seen someone be on this forum. And both Gimli and Elab post here.

(in reply to matthewforan)
Post #: 1862
RE: Mini Reviews - 23/2/2009 10:22:54 AM   
matthewforan


Posts: 21051
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: My Hometown
I'm expecting a thank you basket of fruit any minute now because I think it was my review that nudged Penn to winning his Oscar. So so happy for him much deserved. 

_____________________________

"The Irish have always been victims of negative stereotyping. I mean people think we're all drunks and brawlers. And sometimes that gets you so mad all you wanna do is get drunk and punch somebody"

Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can't Lose

Punchdrunk RIP


(in reply to SadFace)
Post #: 1863
RE: Mini Reviews - 23/2/2009 9:35:39 PM   
wgamador


Posts: 20320
Joined: 17/1/2006
From: A polluted womb...
niiice. Waiting for a solid Gran Torino review.

Matthew, great review, confirmed by Penn's triumph last night.

_____________________________

"And as he, who with laboring breath has escaped from the deep
to the shore, turns to the perilous waters and gazes..."



(in reply to matthewforan)
Post #: 1864
RE: Mini Reviews - 23/2/2009 10:04:17 PM   
wgamador


Posts: 20320
Joined: 17/1/2006
From: A polluted womb...
quote:

ORIGINAL: Amelie_Scotland

Amelie's Oscar Season Review Post!
 
Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle - 2008)

The Indian police arrest Jamal (Dev Patel) after he reaches the final question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. He is one right answer away from winning 20 million rupees, but the police refuse to believe that a lowly team boy and slumdog could know all the answers. After torturing him for a confession doesn't work, Jamal tells them his life story, and how the answers were written into his past.
 
 

Ignore the backlash and listen to the cries of acclaim. Slumdog Millionaire is, and I do not regret saying this, the best movie out of all the ones I've seen these past few days. How odd that a tale that contains a game show I cannot stand (Anil Kapoor is wonderfully sneering as the Indian equivalent of Chris Tarrant). The game show isn't the film's centre though. What Boyle is really interested in is India itself. Although the film doesn't shy away from the extremities of the country and it's harsh conditions, it's clear that the film loves India deeply. Filmed with urgency and brightness, it's a country of colours and full to the brim with life. Using handheld cameras, Boyle throws you right into the middle of the action and doesn't stop for breath. The score is equally exciting and features an excellent use of Paper Planes by M.I.A. You don't stop moving, just like Jamal.

It's really an ensemble piece, with 3 actors playing the 3 main characters of Jamal, his brother Salim and the love of his life he spends years looking for, Latika. If I had to pick a standout piece of acting, then the honour would fall on Dev Patel. Previously best known as Anwar from Skins, he has a wonderful ability of appearing to do nothing yet being completely grabbing. I hope this leads to big things for him.

The story is contrived but you really don't care. There's a Capra-esque joy in the story and the direction that Jamal's life takes in the pursuit of love. It's an old fashioned tale of the underdog, one you want to get the money and the girl. There are some wonderfully funny moments, such as Jamal's attempts at being a tour guide in the Taj Mahal. Don't go to the film under the impression that it's the feelgood film of the year like it is advertised. A film that opens with police brutality and features orphans being blinded and prostitution isn't your happy-go-lucky sort of viewing experience. The final 10 minutes are pure gold though, including the best dance sequence you'll see all year. The romance is of the fairy-tale variety but no less enjoyable. Frieda Pinto is very underused, though she is incredibly beautiful.

  

Slumdog Millionaire is an odd film but it's one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had at the cinema. I laughed, I cried, I sat on the edge of my seat with awe and I loved every second of it. Ignore the haters and hope that the Academy make the right choice because this is the best film of the year.



Tally:

Nominations:

Slumdog Millionaire - 10
Milk - 8
Frost/Nixon - 5
The Reader - 5
Doubt - 5
Revolutionary Road - 3
Vicky Cristina Barcelona - 1

My choices:

Best Picture - Slumdog Millionaire
Best director - Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Actor - Sean Penn (Milk)
Best Actress - Kate Winslet (The Reader)
Best Supporting Actor - Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Best Supporting Actress - Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Best Original Screenplay - Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Slumdog Millionaire (Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup)
Best Animated Film - Wall-E.




They got it right, Amelie!!

Wooooooooooooo!!!

and wow! You were correct in your predictions!!! You are officially a movie God.

_____________________________

"And as he, who with laboring breath has escaped from the deep
to the shore, turns to the perilous waters and gazes..."



(in reply to Amelie_Scotland)
Post #: 1865
RE: Mini Reviews - 23/2/2009 11:17:33 PM   
Amelie_Scotland


Posts: 17468
Joined: 13/10/2005
From: Take a guess.
quote:

ORIGINAL: wgamador

quote:

ORIGINAL: Amelie_Scotland

Amelie's Oscar Season Review Post!
 
Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle - 2008)

The Indian police arrest Jamal (Dev Patel) after he reaches the final question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. He is one right answer away from winning 20 million rupees, but the police refuse to believe that a lowly team boy and slumdog could know all the answers. After torturing him for a confession doesn't work, Jamal tells them his life story, and how the answers were written into his past.
 
 

Ignore the backlash and listen to the cries of acclaim. Slumdog Millionaire is, and I do not regret saying this, the best movie out of all the ones I've seen these past few days. How odd that a tale that contains a game show I cannot stand (Anil Kapoor is wonderfully sneering as the Indian equivalent of Chris Tarrant). The game show isn't the film's centre though. What Boyle is really interested in is India itself. Although the film doesn't shy away from the extremities of the country and it's harsh conditions, it's clear that the film loves India deeply. Filmed with urgency and brightness, it's a country of colours and full to the brim with life. Using handheld cameras, Boyle throws you right into the middle of the action and doesn't stop for breath. The score is equally exciting and features an excellent use of Paper Planes by M.I.A. You don't stop moving, just like Jamal.

It's really an ensemble piece, with 3 actors playing the 3 main characters of Jamal, his brother Salim and the love of his life he spends years looking for, Latika. If I had to pick a standout piece of acting, then the honour would fall on Dev Patel. Previously best known as Anwar from Skins, he has a wonderful ability of appearing to do nothing yet being completely grabbing. I hope this leads to big things for him.

The story is contrived but you really don't care. There's a Capra-esque joy in the story and the direction that Jamal's life takes in the pursuit of love. It's an old fashioned tale of the underdog, one you want to get the money and the girl. There are some wonderfully funny moments, such as Jamal's attempts at being a tour guide in the Taj Mahal. Don't go to the film under the impression that it's the feelgood film of the year like it is advertised. A film that opens with police brutality and features orphans being blinded and prostitution isn't your happy-go-lucky sort of viewing experience. The final 10 minutes are pure gold though, including the best dance sequence you'll see all year. The romance is of the fairy-tale variety but no less enjoyable. Frieda Pinto is very underused, though she is incredibly beautiful.

  

Slumdog Millionaire is an odd film but it's one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had at the cinema. I laughed, I cried, I sat on the edge of my seat with awe and I loved every second of it. Ignore the haters and hope that the Academy make the right choice because this is the best film of the year.



Tally:

Nominations:

Slumdog Millionaire - 10
Milk - 8
Frost/Nixon - 5
The Reader - 5
Doubt - 5
Revolutionary Road - 3
Vicky Cristina Barcelona - 1

My choices:

Best Picture - Slumdog Millionaire
Best director - Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Actor - Sean Penn (Milk)
Best Actress - Kate Winslet (The Reader)
Best Supporting Actor - Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Best Supporting Actress - Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Best Original Screenplay - Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Slumdog Millionaire (Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup)
Best Animated Film - Wall-E.




They got it right, Amelie!!

Wooooooooooooo!!!

and wow! You were correct in your predictions!!! You are officially a movie God.


Yay I did damn good! In my final predictions I swapped Wall-E for Milk in original screenplay so I got the big ones all right (honestly) The academy made all the right choices and I'm ecstatic that for the first time ever my personal choices were the winners!

_____________________________

I'm clean, I'm conscientious and I travel with my own tits.

You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.

(in reply to wgamador)
Post #: 1866
RE: Mini Reviews - 11/3/2009 11:15:03 PM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 78111
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
It's been a bit slow in here recently.


I'm surprised we haven't had about 9 Wachmen reviews. It's the kind of film you'd expect a wide range of opinions on in here. Start writing folks



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Amelie_Scotland)
Post #: 1867
RE: Mini Reviews - 11/3/2009 11:34:45 PM   
DJ Rob C: Mark II!


Posts: 34879
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Christmas town
I really need to write one... tell you what, I will definetly try and do one for the next big film I see.... though that'll be Duplicity or LBK now... so maybe just maybe I'll do a surprise review of a random movie 

_____________________________

When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die

Third Highest Post Count on the Forum, sad but proud!

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 1868
RE: Mini Reviews - 12/3/2009 4:56:17 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 78111
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
I haven't done a proper review in ages. And not wishing to break that run...

Watchmen


Positives











Negatives




Overall


4/5




_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to DJ Rob C: Mark II!)
Post #: 1869
RE: Mini Reviews - 12/3/2009 8:27:28 AM   
SadFace

 

Posts: 1816
Joined: 1/1/2008
From: Derbyshire / Leicester
I'm sorry I didn't do a Gran Torino review. I've had exams all week, so I haven't had time.

But it was good!
 
That'll do.

_____________________________

Tobias, you blowhard.

quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

That's the most wrong I've ever seen someone be on this forum. And both Gimli and Elab post here.

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 1870
RE: Mini Reviews - 12/3/2009 12:47:39 PM   
Zaphod121


Posts: 10146
Joined: 20/1/2006
From: Central City


POSITIVES:
It was awesome

NEGATIVES:
Perhaps a bit convoluted a times, espec if you haven't read the book.

Overall: 4/5

< Message edited by Zaphod121 -- 12/3/2009 12:48:27 PM >

(in reply to SadFace)
Post #: 1871
RE: Mini Reviews - 12/3/2009 1:15:37 PM   
DJ Rob C: Mark II!


Posts: 34879
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Christmas town
Watchmen

Good:
Patrick Wilson
Jackie Healey
Carla Gugino
The Special Effects
The Soundtrack
The IMAX (though it wasn't shot for IMAX, it looks great just as 300 did)

Decent:
Jeffrey Morgan
Billy Crudup
Matthew Goode
The plotlines
The changed ending

Below Par:
Malin Akerman
Nixon
The sex scene

4/5


_____________________________

When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die

Third Highest Post Count on the Forum, sad but proud!

(in reply to Zaphod121)
Post #: 1872
RE: Mini Reviews - 12/3/2009 4:58:06 PM   
Amelie_Scotland


Posts: 17468
Joined: 13/10/2005
From: Take a guess.
Watchmen (2009 - Zack Snyder)
 
 

Set in an alternate 1985 where Nixon is still president, costumed vigilantes have been outlawed and the world is on the brink of nuclear war, The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is killed. Believing that former costumed heroes are being eliminated, the masked Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) sets out to solve the case.

Alan Moore is considered the king of graphic novels and Watchmen, illustrated by Dave Gibbons, is his magnum opus. Filled to the brim with excellent characterisation, several narratives and more questions than most novels, it's more than just a comic book. In fact, it's the only graphic novel on Time's 100 must read books. It was always going to be difficult to adapt such a monster of a story, especially with the hype and the fanboys (scary folks). But I think Zack Snyder deserves a well done for his work here. A self confessed fan of the comic, he clearly loves his source material and takes the time to draw attention to even the smallest detail. As a fan of the novel, I had a whale of a time spotting the miniscule details that probably went over the heads of the uninitiated, such as The Comedian's change in costumes over the years, and the numerous historical figures that pop up (David Bowie is in the best opening credits I've seen in a long time.) I took my friend to see it and she'd never read the comic so I did spend a little time running over a few plot points as the film went on. Snyder's clearly not pandering to the uneducated masses and as a fan I can only be happy for this. I worry that many people will go to see the film based on the action packed trailers, believing it's a huge superhero bust up block-buster. Despite it's excellent moments of action, it's not your typical story.

Moore's strengths lies in his characters. Watchmen's heroes are more human and complicated than the better known heroes, like Batman and Spiderman. Each has their problems and see their pasts as crimefighters as both gifts and curses. Nite Owl (the excellent Patrick Wilson) a.k.a. Dan Dreiberg, is a bored, middle aged, chubby man who finds himself weak and impotent (in more ways than one) without his former alias. Laurie Jupiter (Malin Ackerman, the weak link in the line up) yearns for normality she'll never have and Adrien Veidt (Matthew Goode, surprisingly good) has made a fortune from franchising his former alias, Ozymandias, yet fears for the state of the world. Overall the casting is good, with rhe stand out being Haley. Rorschach is a popular character with the fans. His unique form of do-gooding brings out gasps of shock and respect in equal numbers. Spending most of his time wearing an ink blot mask which changes with his mood, Haley still manages to bring out the complexities of his character, making him somewhat admirable but never shying away from his wrong doings, no matter what his intention. He sees himself as a man surrounded by filth which he needs to fix. Between this and his Oscar nominated role in Little Children, he's fast becoming onr of my favourite actors. The most normal of the bunch, if they can be called that, is Dan and Wilson nails the everyday monotomy of his thoughts and his awkwardness. I couldn't quite decide what accent Goode was using for Adrien but he played the role better than I thought he would. He's still too youthful looking but he gives you reason to understand and trust Veidt. I had a real problem with Ackerman as Laurie. Silk Sceptre II isn't a chatacter I particularly like. I found her to be whiny, self centred and a little slutty. But at least she had some sort of a personality. Here, Ackerman plays her like an orchid - beautiful but not up to much. The costume change works if you think about it (the fetishising of the super-hero) but other than a great pair of legs and a nice wig, she just doesn't have the necessary skills. Stand out supporting characters include Carla Gugino as the original Silk Spectre.

But the biggest challenge for Snyder was always going to be Doctor Manhattan. Formerly a nuclear scientist called Jon Osterman, Manhattan (Billy Crudup) gained super powers after a freak accident that left him with the ability to experience all of tie at once and be used as a weapon by the US military. He's almost completely devoid of emotion, detached from reality and he's a naked, glowing blue man with his cock out. Kudos to Crudup for giving Manhattan enough humanity yet keeping his cold exterior. The effects work better in close ups than they do in long shots (the overtly muscular physique is accurate to the comic but looks off on screen. And the penis is distracting.) I'm glad the film was made in a time where effects have come so far. The America of Moore's world is dirty, gloomy and occasionally grotesque. It's a world that could end at any moment and brief flashes to newspaper headlines and the cabinet meetings with Nixon (really bad make-up, he looks like a circus clown) heighten the fear.

While Snyder isn't completely successful in his adaptation (unavoidably, some bits are missed out and scenes are cut) but 80% of his work is excellent. He doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of the story which is both good (the unflinching violence is pitch perfect, especially when tied to Rorschach) and bad (The single funniest sex scene you'll see all year.) The fight scenes are perfectly choreographed and even though he lays on the slow motion a little too much, it looks pretty damn cool (a shallow thing to say but it's true, except for that sex scene.) Equipped with an excellent soundtrack it's good for the ears as well as the eyes. The biggest fanboy quibble is with the ending which has been changed from the comic, the only major change that has been made. I may be a little controversial here but I prefer the movie ending. It works better, doesn't lose any of the power of the finale and it allows Snyder to take out some of the plot lines that would have bogged down the story.

It's not an easy story, it's very long and if you go in expecting a big latex covered punch-up then you'll be underwhelmed by Watchmen. It's a film by a fan for the fans and Snyder has proven himself worthy with such a difficult project. It's obvious throughout the entire movie that he cares about this story and will do anything to protect it. It's not as good as The Dark Knight but between the two movies, the superhero is finally being taken seriously. Read the graphic novel, then see the film.


_____________________________

I'm clean, I'm conscientious and I travel with my own tits.

You may not be able to change the world, but at least you can embarrass the guilty.

(in reply to DJ Rob C: Mark II!)
Post #: 1873
RE: Mini Reviews - 12/3/2009 6:17:50 PM   
DJ Rob C: Mark II!


Posts: 34879
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Christmas town
She swoops in again and shows us all up  Great work!

_____________________________

When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die

Third Highest Post Count on the Forum, sad but proud!

(in reply to Amelie_Scotland)
Post #: 1874
RE: Mini Reviews - 13/3/2009 7:19:09 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 78111
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
Indeed, another excellent review, Amelie!

We all seem to like it so far

_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to DJ Rob C: Mark II!)
Post #: 1875
RE: Mini Reviews - 14/3/2009 10:27:49 AM   
SadFace

 

Posts: 1816
Joined: 1/1/2008
From: Derbyshire / Leicester
It's not fair!

You guys get to go and watch Watchmen but I can't, 'cause it's an 18!

Blast, parents!


_____________________________

Tobias, you blowhard.

quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

That's the most wrong I've ever seen someone be on this forum. And both Gimli and Elab post here.

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 1876
RE: Mini Reviews - 16/3/2009 1:23:56 PM   
wgamador


Posts: 20320
Joined: 17/1/2006
From: A polluted womb...
quote:

ORIGINAL: SadFace

It's not fair!

You guys get to go and watch Watchmen but I can't, 'cause it's an 18!

Blast, parents!







< Message edited by wgamador -- 16/3/2009 1:25:16 PM >


_____________________________

"And as he, who with laboring breath has escaped from the deep
to the shore, turns to the perilous waters and gazes..."



(in reply to SadFace)
Post #: 1877
RE: Mini Reviews - 16/3/2009 2:07:07 PM   
Stewie_Griffin


Posts: 6968
Joined: 3/10/2005
From: St.Albans, Hertfordshire

quote:

ORIGINAL: SadFace

It's not fair!

You guys get to go and watch Watchmen but I can't, 'cause it's an 18!

Blast, parents!


Don't blame your parents, blame the BBFC.

_____________________________

Welcome to Sesame Street, kids. Today's word is "Expiation"

(in reply to SadFace)
Post #: 1878
RE: Mini Reviews - 16/3/2009 4:31:08 PM   
SadFace

 

Posts: 1816
Joined: 1/1/2008
From: Derbyshire / Leicester
I'm blaming my parents because they should have conceived me earlier!
It's not that they won't let me, 'cause they've never been strict about things like this, it's just that I'm not 18 for another year-and-a-half!


And the BBFC!

Fascists.


_____________________________

Tobias, you blowhard.

quote:

ORIGINAL: rawlinson

That's the most wrong I've ever seen someone be on this forum. And both Gimli and Elab post here.

(in reply to Stewie_Griffin)
Post #: 1879
RE: Mini Reviews - 18/3/2009 7:57:43 PM   
wgamador


Posts: 20320
Joined: 17/1/2006
From: A polluted womb...
I really apologize for the delay with the Reviews of the Month and Year. I have been very busy here at work.
So hang in there. Plus I have a few reviews to write myself

Benjamin Button
JFK II: The Bush Connection
American War on Drugs : The Last White Hope
In Bruges
Vantage Point

_____________________________

"And as he, who with laboring breath has escaped from the deep
to the shore, turns to the perilous waters and gazes..."



(in reply to SadFace)
Post #: 1880
RE: Mini Reviews - 20/3/2009 11:04:56 PM   
wgamador


Posts: 20320
Joined: 17/1/2006
From: A polluted womb...
 
Mini-Review of the Month
 Presentation
 
February '09
 
 
Hello fans and media members. Welcome to the 2009 Mini-Review Oscar Awards. Enjoy the winning nominees and dont forget to make yourself eligible next year.
Without any more delays lets do this thing.
 
.....and the Oscars go to:
 
 
   Oscar for Best Review:  Amelie_Scotland ......Pages  61
 
Amelie's Oscar Season Review Post!
 
Well, it's that time of year again in the movie calendar. Armed with my student discount card and several packets of Digestive biscuits I watched 7 films over the past two weeks that have been nominated for Oscars. Here are those reviews, with pictures stolen from Livejournal to jazz things up.
 
Doubt (John Patrick Shanley - 2008)
 
 
In a church run school in 1960s New York, Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep) the headmistress is uniformly terrifed by all. She runs the school with an iron grip and strict rules. She is suspicious about the parish priest Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and instructs her fellow nuns, including the wide eyed Sister James (Amy Adams) to look out for any incriminating evidence against him, leading to an accusation of molestation against the only black boy in the school.

With a cast like this (3 Oscar wins and countless nominations) and the prestige that precedes the play (a Pulitzer prize winner) you'd be forgiven for thinking that the Oscar voters had put it on their ballots before even seeing the film. I'm led to believe this more after seeing it myself. Shanley is a stunning writer but his directorial skills leave a lot to be desired. His only previous experience behind a camera was in the film Voe Versus The Volcano, not the best example. There are far too many uses of jaunty camera angles which adds nothing to the atmosphere of the film (thank the genius Roger Deakins for that) and the examples of imagery are as subtle as a brick. He's a man used to the stage and the main problem with adapting theatre to film is the difficulty of opening the story up to a wider audience without the constraints of a stage.

His direction does ultimately effect the quality of the performances. Meryl Streep could rest on her prestigious acting laurels but I admire her for continuing to seek meaty roles, such as the one of Sister Aloysius, but she doesn't fully succeed in bringing the needed uncertainty to the role. Aloysius is portrayed as a complete ogre for the first half of the film. She seems to be going after Father Flynn for the sole reason that she doesn't like him. Streep inhabits her character with too many ticks and scornful looks. She is much better in the second half but her final line is delivered in such a ham fisted way, any meaning it had just floats away. Hoffman, another great actor, is good but he's been so much better. He brings a lot to Flynn but once again, we need the doubt and it isn't quite there. Sister James is supposed to be a naive but well meaning woman who cares for her class and the truth. I can understand what Adams was trying to do with the role but, dear god, she acted like a squirrel! I was convinced she'd walked straight in from Enchanted, put on a black dress and bonnet and continued. She laid it on too thick and it was a little weird to watch. She fares better in some scenes (like getting serious with her class) but it's a low point for Adams. In her 5 minute scene, Viola Davis gives the film it's much needed doubt and finally gets you thinking about what the film wants you to think about. In her role as the possible victim's mother, she sets the screen on fire and brings even more questions into the equation. I'm glad she's been recognised for this role, as small as it is. She even gives Streep a much needed bounce and there's a wonderful sparring of words between the pair.

The strength of the film lies in Shanley's script. Adapted from his own play, it's a battle of honesty and lies. You just don't know who is telling the truth. Accusations are made, lies are told and the basic belief in God is questioned. It's a stunning tale. But the weak direction really hinders it. The performances, predominantly Streep, needed to be reeled in and the simple rules of directing needed to be obeyed. A much better, more experienced director, could have done wonders with this tale. His adaptation could have done with some work too to keep it from being too 'stagey.' Some of these lines ask to be bellowed out in front of a crowd and that doesn't translate well to a screenplay. There is a wonderful film here, it's just gotten lost amongst the mess.

Revolutionary Road (Sam Mendes - 2008)
 
Frank and April Wheeler (Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet) had big dreams for their futures. But several years down the line they find themselves stuck in the typical suburban mould with a house in a nice neighbourhood, two young children and Frank stuck in a job he loathes. They come up with a plan to move to Paris and be free, but it seems that they make fall apart before they get that chance.
  
 
It's been 11 years since Winslet and Di Caprio had that romance on the boat called Titanic and it's wonderful to see them together again. Sadly the romance here isn't as sweeping and beautiful as Jack and Rose's. April and Frank are deeply unhappy with the routes their lives have taken and have begun to take that deep hatred out on each other. Love does exist between the pair but the dissatisfaction of their present and future is too much to contain. Mendes captures the unhappiness of not just the Wheelers but the entire cast of characters. People have dreams and they are often left to turn to dust, instead returning to the monotony of their actual lives. It's also a rather harsh dissection of marriage and it's pitfalls. The scenes of life in the 50s are wonderfully shot and rather beautiful. If you liked Mad Men you'll love this. The constraints that family life placed on April and Frank evoke both pity and a little anger in the viewer. April in particular is rather unlikeable. The main problems with the script, adapted from the novel by Richard Yates, lie in the unanswered questions about why they are unhappy. The monotony is understandable but her constany belief that they are somehow special is grating. The mentions of the dullness of family life don't make much sense when the kids appear so little as well.

  
 
Performance wise, I can't fault anyone. Di Caprio has a sensitivity hidden underneath his character's anger that makes him easy to pity. He knows how to make a devastating impact and I applaud him for that. Winslet is also brilliant. It's been a great year for her. April often isn't easy to understand or even like but she fills her with such pain and confusion that it helps in your understanding of the suburban housewife. The battle between husband and wife is like a car crash, one that we all fear. Their emotions flicker and change so often, you wonder how things are going to change with every scene. They are often cruel and it's wholly depressing to watch but both actors bring everything they've got to the roles. How refreshing to see another Titanic star, Kathy Bates back on screen in a role worthy of her talents. Her character isn't in many scenes but she is superb. The only cast member to be acknowledged in the Oscar nominations is Michael Shannon, as Bates' mentally ill son. In two scenes, he unleashes an acid tongue and brutal honesty on the Wheelers, letting them know just how bad their lives are. Nobody else will say what they really mean in the film and it's left to Shannon to address the problems. It's a stunning performance that may have been overlooked because of the bigger names in the film, but I'm glad it wasn't.
  
 
It's a darkly pessimistic tale that suggests your dreams will never win over reality. Watching the Wheelers fall apart at the seams even as they fight the inevitability of it all is heartbreraking. It's compelling stuff but don't go in expecting Titanic 2. Some questions go unanswered and it's not an easy watch but it's wonderfully directed, acted and told.
 
Frost/Nixon (Ron Howard - 2008)
 
 
 
In 1974, the Watergate scandal was revealed to the world. leading President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) to resign from office. 3 years later, top British television star David Frost (Michael Sheen) puts together the possibility of an interview with the now reclusive Nixon, thinking it will lead to stardom in America. With no money, no network support and a group of cynical yet eager investigators supporting him (Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell), the interviews go ahead, with the hopes of a confession being extracted. But Nixon begins to live up to his Tricky Dicky nickname more than they had thought.

  
 
David Frost and Richard Nixon are two men you couldn't create yourself. At the time, Frost was a charismatic, if slightly slimy, TV star who enjoyed the public eye and many women in brought to his feet. Nixon, now a common figure of ridicule and caricature (see Futurama), was responsible for one of the biggest crimes in US history but clung to the stubborn idea that what he did was the right thing. Both had big ambitions they could have gained from the interviews and they both fought for them, turning manipulation into a fine art. It's apt that Howard directed Cinderella Man because the battle here is much like a boxing match. The opponents take each other's verbal punches and aren't afraid to get a little dirty. Howard is a director I can usually take or leave and I find he can often be a little over sentimental but he is at his finest in this film. Part mock documentary, you get a chance to see the inner workings of the interviews and their organisation but it never feels cloying or fake. With some great close ups and constant tension throughout the interviews, it's stirring stuff. When the camera zooms in on both interviewer and interviewee's faces during that climactic moment, you see the truth burst through.

  
 
Both Sheen and Langella originated the roles on stage but Langella was the one who received the lion's share of praise. His Nixon is an excellent imitation and he fills Richard with an unusual ambiguous feeling. He nails the all to easily mocked grumbles but very occasionally slips into parody. He can do a lot with a simple look but there's not enough of these moments for him to shine as Nixon the person, not just Nixon the figure of hate. However, Sheen gets it perfect. He has done so well playing real life figures, from Kenneth Williams to Tony Blair, and his Frost is right on the money. He plays the role with different parts - playboy TV darling to mocked dreamer to interrogator. One can't help but wonder why he hasn't become world famous yet. Bring on The Damned United and his well deserved Oscar nomination! The American cast amply support the heavyweights of the title, from Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell as the investigators for the interviews to Kevin Bacon as Nixon's supremely loyal aide. Rebecca Hall, the only real female role of the film, is underused but lights up the screen.

  
 
What surprised me most about the film was the wit in the script. Peter Morgan adapted the story from his own play and keeps the verbal sparring as potent as possible. There are some very funny moments too which I didn't expect. The energy is high throughout and enhances the feelings of the US public at the time. People were crying out for Nixon's head and due to the pardon he received from President Ford, he would never stand trial for what he did. Morgan infuses his script with the regret and desperation people had, especially highlighted in Rockwell's character. It's an excellent piece of work.

Consistently exciting, a real return to form for Howard and hopefully the film that will catapult Sheen into superstardom, Frost/Nixon could be the dark horse of the Oscar race. It's a riveting story worthy of your time and hopefully Oscar's too.

Milk (Gus Van Sant - 2008)
 
 
Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), sick of being in the closet, moves to San Francisco with his lover Smith and open up a camera shop in the Castro district. As the area, a haven for openly gay people, begins to be effected by the bigotry of the police force and locals, Milk decides to run for city supervisor, becoming the first openly gay man to do so. He wants to make changes but with opposition in every corner, it becomes clear that he is severely outnumbered.
 
Usually a more avant-garde filmmaker, Van Sant is strangely conventional with Milk but it works to his advantage. He avoids the overused elements of film-making and sticks to a simple story, with the help of documentary footage, lots of colours and an occasional narration from Milk. It's not a story that needs to be dressed up in unnecessary stylistic direction, it's potent enough on it's own and still feels important in the 21st century, especially with the vote in California to uphold Proposition 8.
 
Milk was a man that inspired hope in thousands and still does to this day. He wanted gay people to be able to walk freely in the street without fear of attack and he fought for the rights of his friends and the millions that were oppressed around the country. During his many attempts to be elected, the anti-gay campaigner Anita Bryant (seen in the film through real news footage) was fighting for dismissal of all gay teachers in America. Watching the footage of her is haunting stuff and adds an extra element to the story. As Milk, Sean Penn is the best I've ever seen him. With a heart of gold and desperation for change, he leads the masses with a strong desire for a different world. He is perfection in the role, pure and simple. You never doubt his pain or his power. Sign me up for Team Penn. James Franco is also excellent, putting to rest any concerns that his acting is wooden, as seen in Spiderman. The young cast is full of wonderful actors, such as Emile Hirsch and Diego Luna, but the supporting gem is Josh Brolin. Securing an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Supervisor Dan White, he is a frightening example of pent up rage and discrimination that ultimately results in tragedy. It could have easily fallen into pantomime villain waters but Brolin keeps it subtle.
 
Danny Elfman's score is one of my favourites of the year, helping to keep the emotions flowing. I think I cried on three separate occasions during the film, much to my own embarassment. The story is inherently melodramatic but avoids the typical biopic pitfalls in favour of something more authentic and ultimately effecting. The screenplay by Dustin Lance Black dives head first into the issues that surrounded Milk and doesn't shy away from the uncomfortable moments.
 
For such a heartbreaking story, there is a lot of joy in Milk. The joy lies in the hope and the realisation that one man can make a difference. You cry at the shocking injustice of one man ruining so much but the power that one man caused was enough to change so much and you cheer for Harvey. One of the best films I've seen in a long time, Milk is a heartfelt movie with a staggeringly good leading performance and enough power to make you want to change the world.
 
The Reader (Stephen Daldry - 2008)
 
Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes) is a top German lawyer who reminisces about his youth (the teenage Michael is played by David Kross) in the 1950s and a passionate affair he had with an older woman (Kate Winslet) which involved him reading aloud to her. Several years later, Michael attends the trial of several female Nazi war criminals who are being convicted of 300 deaths. One of the criminals on trial is his former love, Hanna.
 
The film that might just get Kate Winslet her severely overdue Oscar is an admirable piece of work, but not a great one. The direction is so stagnant and there were so many scenes crying out for more attention that just wasn't given. It leaves you cold and the ambiguity is far too much. Some scenes are pretty but never spectacular like you'd expect from Roger Deakins. Daldry has done so much better. The main problem I had with the movie was that it felt like two different tales stuck together - the sexual awakening tale of Michael and the moral courtroom battle regarding the holocaust. It may work as a novel but as a film, it feels awkward, especially with such ridiculously hot sex scenes taking up the first 45 minutes of the story. The relation between Hanna and Michael is the most interesting aspect of the story. Hanna takes control of everything, deciding when they shall make love and when he shall read to her. The books are like foreplay for her as she devours each tale he tells her. She is like a colder Mrs Robinson, taking charge of a young boy's life and ultimately affecting him in the future. Winslet is terrific, but then again she is never anything else.
 

Hanna is a tough character - we never really learn anything about her but she begins to need Michael on more than just a sexual level and she's difficult to understand. Winslet can bring a lot to a role without even trying, and she gives the role the performance it deserves, even when naked. David Kross is a face to watch in the future and Fiennes is morose and confusing but you understand why. The German cast includes Bruno Ganz and Alexandra Maria Lara, all underused but good.

The theme that I did enjoy in the film was the importance of reading. Words are as important a character in the story as Hanna and Michael. They tie characters together, reveal the truth and destroy lives. In many ways, books propell the characters' decisions and lead them to do things they'll soon regret. As an avid reader and English literature student, I felt the strength contained in the stories Michael read to Hanna, as well as the book written by a holocaust survivor that leads to Hanna's trial. Sometimes the theme is laid on a little heavily but overall it's the element in the film that really saves it from total averageness.

As a total Winslut, I shall be openly screaming for Kate to win the Oscar for her terrific performance but in the other categories I can't help but feel The Reader is in a position of undeserved acclaim. Unaffecting and often strangely empty, it's admirable in it's attempt to dissect a topic like the holocaust but doesn't succeed. It's a shame to use the term generic but it definately applies.
Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle - 2008)

The Indian police arrest Jamal (Dev Patel) after he reaches the final question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. He is one right answer away from winning 20 million rupees, but the police refuse to believe that a lowly team boy and slumdog could know all the answers. After torturing him for a confession doesn't work, Jamal tells them his life story, and how the answers were written into his past.
 
 

Ignore the backlash and listen to the cries of acclaim. Slumdog Millionaire is, and I do not regret saying this, the best movie out of all the ones I've seen these past few days. How odd that a tale that contains a game show I cannot stand (Anil Kapoor is wonderfully sneering as the Indian equivalent of Chris Tarrant). The game show isn't the film's centre though. What Boyle is really interested in is India itself. Although the film doesn't shy away from the extremities of the country and it's harsh conditions, it's clear that the film loves India deeply. Filmed with urgency and brightness, it's a country of colours and full to the brim with life. Using handheld cameras, Boyle throws you right into the middle of the action and doesn't stop for breath. The score is equally exciting and features an excellent use of Paper Planes by M.I.A. You don't stop moving, just like Jamal.

It's really an ensemble piece, with 3 actors playing the 3 main characters of Jamal, his brother Salim and the love of his life he spends years looking for, Latika. If I had to pick a standout piece of acting, then the honour would fall on Dev Patel. Previously best known as Anwar from Skins, he has a wonderful ability of appearing to do nothing yet being completely grabbing. I hope this leads to big things for him.

The story is contrived but you really don't care. There's a Capra-esque joy in the story and the direction that Jamal's life takes in the pursuit of love. It's an old fashioned tale of the underdog, one you want to get the money and the girl. There are some wonderfully funny moments, such as Jamal's attempts at being a tour guide in the Taj Mahal. Don't go to the film under the impression that it's the feelgood film of the year like it is advertised. A film that opens with police brutality and features orphans being blinded and prostitution isn't your happy-go-lucky sort of viewing experience. The final 10 minutes are pure gold though, including the best dance sequence you'll see all year. The romance is of the fairy-tale variety but no less enjoyable. Frieda Pinto is very underused, though she is incredibly beautiful.

  

Slumdog Millionaire is an odd film but it's one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had at the cinema. I laughed, I cried, I sat on the edge of my seat with awe and I loved every second of it. Ignore the haters and hope that the Academy make the right choice because this is the best film of the year.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen - 2008)

Two best friends - the careful and cautious Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and the footloose and fancy free Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) take a holiday together in Barcelona. Vicky is engaged to be married to the nice but dull Doug and is studying Catalan culture while Cristina is confused about her life and recovering from another break-up. During their visit they meet painter Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) who invites them both to a weekend of sex and food. The pair soon become messed up in the lives of Juan Antonio and his mentally unhinged ex wife Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz).


The thing I loved most about the movie was it's views on sex and relationships. It's so refreshing to see a story where women can openly have sex without being looked down upon. The girls, including Vicky's distant relative (Patricia Clarkson), are intelligent woman and make decisions based on their desires as well as their better judgements. Vicky is sensible in her life, picking a lovely fiance and good life, but her desires for Juan Antonio surprise her while Cristina is happy to experiment with whatever life throws at her. Juan Antonio himself is a definite lampooning of the archetypal Latin lover, even down to the red silk shirt. Bardem is clearly having a lot of fun playing the seductive painter. It's an incredibly sexy film - with a cast that gorgeous, how could it not be? Seduction and sex are important to the story and show how big a part they play in the building and destruction of love. Fidelity and commitment are ignored in favour of living for your emotions. Not a concept I particularly agree with but it makes for interesting viewing.


Rebecca Hall gets all the good lines, the sort Allen would usually reserve for himself. They're so much funnier when said by a level headed and usually careful woman. Johansson isn't an actress I particularly like, she has never done anything to back up the praise she has received over the years. She is beautiful and does Cristina's fickle desires well but compared to Hall, who shines, there's not much to say. The real star of the show is the scene stealing Maria Elena, played with feverish panache by Penelope Cruz. Her moods change at the flip of a coin, she is highly unpredictable but wholly sexy and seductive. Cruz doesn't so much set the screen on fire as flamethrow it!


Filmed through a tourist's eyes, Allen's 4th film outside of USA and his first in Spain delights in capturing the Spain you see on postcards, with particular concentration paid to Gaudi's architecture. He knows beauty when he sees it. The narration is pretty annoying, though I see why it was used. It speeds things along and lets you get to the good bits. It's not a serious movie, although Allen occasionally slips in his philosophising about relationships. It's fun, frothy and sexy.

For an interesting take on relationships, I'd definately recommend Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Cruz's turn is definately Oscar grabbing stuff and for sheer beauty, you can't beat it.

Tally:

Nominations:

Slumdog Millionaire - 10
Milk - 8
Frost/Nixon - 5
The Reader - 5
Doubt - 5
Revolutionary Road - 3
Vicky Cristina Barcelona - 1

My choices:

Best Picture - Slumdog Millionaire
Best director - Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Actor - Sean Penn (Milk)
Best Actress - Kate Winslet (The Reader)
Best Supporting Actor - Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Best Supporting Actress - Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Best Original Screenplay - Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Slumdog Millionaire (Simon Beaufoy, based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup)
Best Animated Film - Wall-E.
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 Oscar for Best Supporting
 Mini-Review:  Homersimpson_esq  .............Page 62
 
[Contains Spoilers]


[Preamble]

I was ambivalent about seeing this initially, despite the obvious attraction of seeing Winslet in the buff, but its several Oscar nods coupled with it actually showing at a local cinema pushed me into seeing it. At an afternoon showing, amidst a sea of grey hair from the blue rinse brigade (and appropriate gasps at key moments), I was somewhat glad I did see it. The film stars the aforementioned Kate Winslet as Hanna Schmitz, a mid-thirties tram ticket inspector who embarks on a questionable affair with the young Michael Berg (David Kross - Ralph Fiennes plays the older incarnation). Her dark past is not mentioned at all until an hour into the film, whereupon it transforms into a courtroom drama, and then a prison movie.

[minus]

The first hour is sadly devoid of focus. The film cuts clumsily from the older Michael in the 1990s to his younger self, as he disembarks from a tram in the 1950s. Throwing up in a doorway he is helped by Hanna, who takes him home. Some weeks later, having recovered from Scarlet Fever he goes and finds Hanna. The scenes between Winsley and Kross suffer from a poor script and directionless, um, directing. Events transpire to force the two together unnaturally. To whit, Hanna peremptorily sends Michael to fetch some coal and, upon his return seeing his face covered in soot, demands he take a bath. Surely a wash would have sufficed? There was also something slightly unseemly about this mid-thirties woman having an affair with a 15 year old, despite Kross looking older (he was 18 at the time I believe). It became more clear when one changes the genders around - a mid-thirties man and a 15 year old girl is all kinds of wrong.

The story meanders along, with little happening other than a series of explicit encounters that see Michael become more and more infatuated and in love with Hanna, and Hanna unmoving, her character arc oddly static. Here is the titular reading, whereby before or after their amorous encounters, Hanna has Michael read to her. It seems a curious request, but Michael is more than happy to acquiesce if it made her happy too. There are moments with Michael's family that are never developed beyond a few encounters and it seems they are extraneous to the plot, and one wonders whether they could have been excised completely. As the summer wears on, Michael wants more of the relationship, Hanna not so much. Eventually the romance fizzles away. This first half of the film adversely affects the whole, and it is impossible to consider the film as great because of it. I have no problem with the explicit detail, as this is necessary to demonstrate the extent to which Michael has been utterly affected by Hanna. But it is the unfocused directing that creates a poor first half.

[plus]

The good news is that things improve drastically when we jump from the 50s to the 60s. The film metamorphosises from a summer-in-love film (if that's even a genre) to a courtroom drama. Michael is now a law student and he and his four classmates are taken to see a landmark legal case - the trial of Nazi war criminals. Following publication of a book incriminating several female Nazi concentration camp guards, they are arrested and sent to trial. This is what Michael is attending. For the first time we discover that Hanna was one of these guards, and the conflict on Michael's face is palpable. Betrayal? Anger? Love? Regret? These all pace over his features and more.

The courtroom scenes are taut and well-executed. There is a real presence of tension as Hanna's fate is meted out across the courtroom. When a key piece of evidence hinges on Hanna's fellow guard's accusation that it was Hanna who wrote a damning report, we know it is over for Hanna. It becomes obvious (to those of us who, like me, didn't realise earlier) that Hanna cannot read. She had Jewish prisoners read to her, just as she had Michael read to her. But her shame at her illiteracy is not enough to save herself from a lifetime in prison and she effectively condemns herself. Torn with emotion, even Michael cannot bring himself to see her to presumably ask her to tell them she could not have written the report.

The film cuts across the decades as the older Michael returns home, discovers one of the books he read to Hanna, and decides to tape himself reading them and send them to her. It is this simply human expression that is Hanna's one contact with the outside world and through it she not only lives through prison, but teaches herself to read. It's emotive stuff, and it's handled well. (Glimpses of Michael's diary as an older man shows us lists of meaningless numbers whose meaning is revealed later in the film.)

From a faulty start The Reader manages to redeem itself, barely, with a well-handled, if slightly temporally-jumpy second half. Earlier elements garner greater significance in the latter half to great effect. I can't help wondering if perhaps it might have worked better had it started at the trial, and interspersed the earlier scenes as flashbacks. Certainly it would have tightened up the narrative and given greater contrast between the facts of the trial, and the explicitness of the earlier scenes.

[to sum up]

The Acting - 7/10: Ralph Fiennes does well with relatively little to work with. David Kross as the young Michael Berg makes little impact early on, with awkward scenes between him and Winslet creating little on-screen chemistry. He is slightly redeemed come the courtroom section as he manages to get across the conflicting emotions.
The Look - 7/10: It's a period film, so it's going to have a strong look to it. Coming from the theatre, Daldry was always going to have a strong eye for visuals (cf: Sam Mendes) and he doesn't disappoint here.
The Sound - 6/10: Nico Muhly's music was emotive and haunting, although ultimately it hasn't left with me any great memories (unlike, say, the brilliant score to Australia).
The Story - 6/10: Poor first half, great second half.
Success of Intent - 7/10: As much as I enjoyed the second half, which left me leaving the cinema in a good mood, the first half did let the side down, so to speak.
Overall - 33/50, or:
66%
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 Oscars for Best Original Mini-Reviews:  Matthewforan and Deviation 
 
 
 Milk  ................Page 63

Directed by Gus Van Sant
Written by Dustin Lance Blank
Starring: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Alison Pill, Victor Garber    


Plot  

In the true story of a young gay man uprooting from his home in New York to San Francisco Harvey Milk (Penn) sets about to change the way cops, politicians and the vicious right wing of American politics treat him and other homosexuals. He and his friends are treated like second-class citizen; he decides to lend his voice to the cause by setting about to change their lives from within the administration. After many failings he finally sets about getting a team together to finally nudge his way into office. If he does he'll be the first openly gay man elected to office but many will do anything to see that he doesn't but many will rise with him to fight.  


One question must have gone through writers' Dustin Lance Blank's mind who will play his leading man after all the movie business has really yet to have a hugely successful gay man to take this film and make it their own. Of course not to long ago it was African Americans that had this problem then along came Sidney Poitier, Will Smith and of course the always charismatic and charming Denzel Washington. But in Sean Penn they have found an actor who has probably just had his role of a lifetime, a really fantastic performance by a man whose career is full of them.  

He is joined by some other marvellous performances, although the Academy seems to have singled out Brolin for a Best Supporting Actor role yet again I'm in disagreement as both Emile Hirsch who plays activist Cleve Jones and James Franco playing Milk's ex love interest are superb in their roles. The both of them take on not only Brolin but they don't look at all out of place next to Penn especially Hirsch.   

Along with the cast, other departments really have to take a bow, both in the art direction and the director himself. Van Sant might even have gone one better that Good Will Hunting and knowing my love for that movie that praise isn't dished out easily. His choice of bringing in archive footage really gives you a small insight into the country that America was at that time. When right wing politicians didn't hide anything, they knew what they were against and they said so. Some of the footage is very scary but it is the darkness to the film that is needed so you really appreciate the good.  

During the scenes when Harvey and his friends are finally able to celebrate their triumph I don't believe I've eve experienced a moment in film where I've been that happy for someone. Yes even the moment when Red and Andy finally meet again. But I honestly think that no one will not shed a tear of joy when they see when Harvey is finally elected to office. But don't let this fool you there are some incredible dark moments in the film, since I don't know if people have already seen the movie and it's based on a true story I really don't want to spoil anything but it's safe to say that more than a couple of people will be shedding tears at a few points in the film.  

I'm not going to lie, I knew nothing of Harvey Milk before seeing this film. I'm a fan of Sean Penn and that's basically what got me to see it and I've been thankful for it everyday since. Because Milk is a superb and uplifting story, it has much the same effect as the Shawshank Redemption, not a subject that you'd find yourself feeling that way but you do. It is put together by the great feel of Van Sant's directing, the authentic look of San Francisco and some truly wonderful performances Milk will be a film you remember with fond thoughts for a long time to come.    

Verdict
93%
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CRIES AND WHISPERS.................Page 61
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
 
Till now, I still haven't seen a Bergman that is below greatness. Did Cries and Whispers break this chain of great films by Bergman? Absolutely not. It's not perfect, but it is still a good film. However, I think I prefer his earlier work, not because his later work is poor, but because of the themes he used and the way he examined them. His later works, or at least the ones I've seen, seem to cover people and their relation to the members of their family, while his earlier covered issues involving faith and the relation of man to God. Family was always a common theme in Bergman, but in his later works, it became a more central idea.


Cries and Whispers focuses primarily on the relation between three sisters, Agnes who is dying of cancer, Maria and Karen. As Agnes' condition deteriorates, so does the relationships between the sisters as fear, distrust, jealousy and resentment start to surface. Agnes is abandoned by her sisters, with her only comfort being Anna, her maid. The is one of Bergman's bleakest stories, not as sad as Autumn Sonata or Winter Light (one of my favourites of his), but still quite depressing. However, unlike those films I mentioned, this was somewhat a cold experience. Not saying it is not a work of genius, but somewhat it didn't feel as emotionally touching or draining as his other films. However, the way it represents its themes elevate it as high as those films.



Red, there is a lot of that colour in this film. From the opening we know we are about to see something special. It is masterfully filmed, and the cinematography is stunning. Red dominates the picture, creating a stark contrast with the other colours. The walls of the room are red, the floor is red, it looks like a painting. The other colours like white or black just fit in the picture perfectly without looking out of place. They are saturated colours, giving an effect similar to a chiaroscuro one. The costumes and colour look beautiful. Sven Nykvist deserved that Best Cinematography Oscar, his work here is incredible. Red is here for a reason, it reinforces a theme. Red is the characters feelings, those that are kept inside, those hidden in the walls of the mansion and those they keep secret from each other. When they show them, this crimson colour is shown on their dresses or their faces, whenever the film will tell us something about these characters.


The film is a bit similar to The Silence in terms of themes, the lack of communication and hiding of feelings between the family, and the effects of when they are released, also seen in a later work, Autumn Sonata. What it separates it from these two is the focus on how the characters react to the presence of the death in the mansion. Men, or their husbands are not much in the film, they are both detached from the audience and their wives. There is a lack of real relationships in the film, the only real affection shown here is between Anna and Agnes.


Acting is great, Bergman regular Liv Ullman gives another great performance here, Ingrid Thurin is quite creepy in this, while Harriet Anderson does a good job convincing that she is suffering from a cancer. The minor characters like the priest and the husbands are also well performed and hold the film well. Kari Sylwan gives the most human and compassionate performance here, being the heart of the film, considering the other performances required a cruel coldness. That said, this is a cold film. There is a distance between audience and characters, and when the audience gets to know these characters, they are hardly that worth our empathy. We also have the most shocking moment in a Bergman film since The Virgin Spring, when one of the characters puts a piece of broken glass into her vagina. This all benefit from a mature and well written script. It is very well edited and the pacing and narration is one of Bergman's finest


It was also one of those rare foreign films nominated for Best Picture. It might be too cold to be emotionally engaging, but it is a very well made film... so an 9.1/10 or an.............
A
---------------------------------------------------------





Congratulations!!!
 
Thank you for stopping by and hope you enjoyed our awards ceremony.
Get those March reviews in......there's still a lot of month to go!!
 
Great reviews! Brilliant work!
See you in MARCH!

Please drive home safely.


< Message edited by wgamador -- 20/3/2009 11:07:07 PM >


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Post #: 1881
RE: Mini Reviews - 20/3/2009 11:14:54 PM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 78111
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Well done all. Amelie's was one of the very best reviews ever in this thread.

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Post #: 1882
RE: Mini Reviews - 20/3/2009 11:16:10 PM   
matthewforan


Posts: 21051
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From: My Hometown
Taking mini to the next level well done Miss. Scotland, and to Homer and Devo too.

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Post #: 1883
RE: Mini Reviews - 20/3/2009 11:49:15 PM   
Amelie_Scotland


Posts: 17468
Joined: 13/10/2005
From: Take a guess.
*squee* Very honoured Wags, thanks a million. And well done to everyone else (Yay Matt for liking Milk as much as  I did.)

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Post #: 1884
RE: Mini Reviews - 20/3/2009 11:54:09 PM   
DJ Rob C: Mark II!


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Milk is far away one of the best films I've seen in a long time

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Post #: 1885
RE: Mini Reviews - 21/3/2009 12:42:27 AM   
Amelie_Scotland


Posts: 17468
Joined: 13/10/2005
From: Take a guess.
I've decided to do something a little bit different for this review. It's a TV drama, not a film but don't let that put you off.
 
Margaret.
 
It's 1990 and the leadership campaign for the Conservative party is about to begin. Current leader and prime minister Margaret Thatcher (Lindsay Duncan) is confident of re-election but after a cutting resignation speech from her former cabinet member Geoffrey Howe (John Sessions) that causes stirs amongst her confidantes, things begin to change and she looks back on her rise to power.
 
I'm Scottish through and through so on principle, I loathe Thatcher. The mere mention of her name can send shivers of the backs of the hardest Scots, my family included. Her legacy in this country is not a positive one. So I was a bit apprehensive about watching Margaret, wondering how it would make me feel and if it would still manage to be entertaining instead of making me want to hurt someone. I'm pleased and a little surprised to say that I thouroughly enjoyed this and actually liked Thatcher. I stress that I liked the character of Thatcher because this is not a biopic and is fully aware of that. Episodes of the story feel completely made up and almost fantastical (Thatcher? Crying? Eh?) yet it grabs you from the opening, where the prime minister is dressing sharp for her next meeting. This is because the made for TV drama is about the woman, not the Iron Lady. Of course in the medium of entertainment she needs to be humanised and it's mostly successful, although a few bits feel a bit too unbelievably even for TV. Credit to the writer, Richard Cotton, for keeping it balanced and not ranting like most writers would. The audience watches from a distance as Margaret reminisces about her rise to the top, past the sneering men who scoffed at her ambitions, and the family she hesitantly put aside as she succeeded. These descriptions make Margaret seem like a rather admirable character, and she is, despite her many faults that aren't hidden away. But it's difficult for the audience to separate Margaret from Thatcher.

Physically, Lindsay Duncan is far too beautiful to completely immerse herself in the role of Thatcher. She is willowy, elegant and almost model-like in her strut where Thatcher was hunched, stompy and a little frightening looking. She doesn't nail the voice or mannerisms either but in the quieter and louder moments she excels. A scene where she discusses her childhood manages to ring true despite the sheer impossibility of it, while her screaming at her cabinet after Howe's supposed betrayal are such examples. I believe she will receive lots of TV Bafta attention come April, unless there is a revelatory TV performance in the next few weeks. There is a marvellous game you can play whilst watching Margaret - Match the Cabinet member to the Spitting Image puppet! If your only previous experience with the Thatcher government is with the comedy show, you'll have a ball with this. The sheer amount of eyebrows is entertainment enough. Overall the men of the film are mixed. Some nail their roles and others feel like the latex models come to life. There are too many to name but I shall give special credit to Robert Hardy as Willie Whitelaw, Kevin McNally as Kenneth Clarke, Michael Moloney as John Major (who is pretty evil in this) and John Sessions as Geoffrey Howe (he actually did the voice of Howe on Spitting Image which explains how he nails the voice!) The evil from the men is mounted up to almost pantomime proportions at points, as they stab her in the back one after the other. There are lots of shots of darkened rooms and shadowy phone calls whispered to one another. It's almost, as one Newsnight Reviewer pointed out, like a sex offender video! Outside of the cabinet, Ian McDairmid was excellent as Denis Thatcher, the loyal, loving and down-to-earth husband of Margaret. As he quietly tuts at the 'toe-rag' behaviour of the cabinet and pours his wife copius amounts of whisky, you can understand why Thatcher regarded him so highly. She wouldn't have gotten as far as she did without him.
 
My biggest problem with the show was its avoidance of major events during Thatcher's years. The miners' strike isn't mentioned once, and neither is the Falkland War. I understand that the show was not about her leadership but her as a person but these events were far too important to lose completely from the story. The flashbacks aren't as well executed as they could have been, punctuated by a sound not unlike an overhead jumbo jet.

I feel conflicted for liking this drama and sympathising with Margaret. A woman who genuinely believed what she was doing was right, she fought through all the sexism and difficulties to become the most powerful person in Britain, only to have it taken from her through treachery. If you take these figures as characters and the events as a thriller of sorts, then Margaret is highly entertaining and well performed piece. Worth watching for the acting and tense drama, I do recommend you hunt it down and decide for yourself if you're ready to watch a sympathetic portrayal of such a hated woman.


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Post #: 1886
RE: Mini Reviews - 23/3/2009 10:03:05 PM   
wgamador


Posts: 20320
Joined: 17/1/2006
From: A polluted womb...
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


Positives
1. Great storytelling. No surprise since Eric Roth wrote the screenplay.
2. Incredibly convincing special effects and make-up. Reminds us that anything is possible with todays technology.
3. All scenes are masterfully crafted with incredible detail, even the slow boring scenes.
4. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett performances are an honor and a joy to behold.
5. Really felt transported to the time periods throughout the film.
6. Really cool way to work out the concept of someone aging backwards, and all the complications that would result from it.
7. The character who gets hit by lightning should have his own movie. Funniest moments in the movie without a doubt.
8. The ending with the floodwaters filling the rooms implied that curious and countless stories in people's journals and photo albums were destroyed and had Daisy not kept the journal close to her heart, Benjamin Button's story would have been lost forever.
9. The "What If" scene was pretty cool.....although it did have its negative point too.



Negatives
1. While Pitt and Blanchett give great performances, the chemistry seemed forced in places. I really didnt buy the "eternal love" between them. Probably because I didn't accept Benjamin's decision to leave Daisy with their child in her womb.
2. If Benjamin had really missed his child, why instead of writing postcards couldnt he just get off his motorcycle and go home to be a father.
3. The revelation that Benjamin was "Julia Ormond's" father in the hospital was laughable at best. I mean, she says to her dying mother something like .... "This is how you tell me" and then she attempts to smoke a cigarette INSIDE the hospital! Then just goes back to reading the journal.
4. The whole father-daughter revelation sucked. It's like me never meeting my father but 40 years later, my mother hands me a bunch of postcards and a diary that my father had written--saying things like, "I wish i coulda been in your life", etc....
5. Someone wrote this in an online review:
"This is such a sweet and tender love story. Benjamin and Daisy find themselves "meeting in the middle" and sharing a love for the ages. Their love is often messy, sometimes sad, and at all times electric just like a mature love should be. Bring your wife, husband or date. Sit back and let yourselves be reminded why you fell in love in the first place."
Give me a break....mature love? Having your baby daddy walk out on you so that he can age backwards on a boat, travel the world and abandon the responsibilty of raising a child...yep, thats mature. Full of casual sex and once you find someone who really cares and loves you, cheat on them with an old flame........cause that's mature. Wow. no wonder the USA divorce rate is 50%.
6. The transitions between Benjamin's story and the hospital scenes were very jarring and i found them very distracting.
7. The short tale of the blind guy who builds the clock backwards just seemed uneccesary and had nothing to do with Benjamin Button.
8. The "What If" scene was both good and bad.........because how in the living piss did anyone know all those details that i find a hard time accepting that all those details would be found in the police reports. But i forget, its a magical film.



* Final Verdict...............4/5.................



* I did not let my negative feelings spoil the films general theme and message for me, hence why it gets 4 stars....and had i not watched Slumdog Millionaire, i would have agreed that this deserved the Oscar for Best Picture. I found it a bit like Forrest Gump in places but its understandable and there would be more outrage had Eric Roth not written this film. Lots of credit goes to him, considering all the details he had to work on to make the film work.
I recommend the film, but do not watch this while depressed because more sadness is the last thing you need.



< Message edited by wgamador -- 23/3/2009 10:06:01 PM >


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Post #: 1887
RE: Mini Reviews - 30/3/2009 9:45:20 PM   
wgamador


Posts: 20320
Joined: 17/1/2006
From: A polluted womb...
The Haunting In Connecticut (my home state)



Positives
1. Most of the film is based on the actual events of the hanuting in 1987.
2. Some decent 'jump' moments, eventhough you try to brace for them.
3. Gives me encouragement that I could someday write a ghost story themed screenplay and if it's real good, it will probably be bought and made.
4. The set designs are creepy and without them, the film would lose much of it's scares.
5. The story that was created to explain the reasons for the haunting was interesting and was food for thought.
6. Makes you appreciate the unkown gems like 'Session 9'.



Negatives
1. The actual documentary I watched the morning I went to see this was more frightening and had more tension than the film and certainly more interesting. The doc was 2 hours, the film was 2 hours.......the doc was better.
2. Except for a few jump moments, it isnt really scary at all.....which is upsetting considering all the 'real' paranormal things that did happen to the family.
3. Hated the ending because it was nowhere near the true event. But i could see how they had to 'Hollywood' the ending.
4. The movie is pretty much forgettable. 'Session 9' stayed with me days after watching it (in the comfort of my home), this lost its impact by the time I got home. By the following day it had completely worn off leaving me saying "I could write a better paranormal screenplay".
5. Made me heavily crave the viewing of the film called "Paranormal Activity", I CANNOT wait to see that.



* Final Verdict.............2/5...........



To the untrained eye, this is a decent ghost story based on actual events.
To the trained eye, this is a weak attempt to revive that story.
In the actual haunting, the catholic church is summoned to perform an exorcism to help this family. Although it could've mimicked 'The Exorcist' in that sense;  it would have made for a better set-up than the ending chosen by the studio.
Wait for this to show up on cable or rent it on a night you are bored. There are so many other 'ghost' movies that are much better. In fact some episodes of the shows 'Ghost Hunters' and "Most Haunted" are 3 times more frightening.



< Message edited by wgamador -- 31/3/2009 9:41:50 PM >


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Post #: 1888
RE: Mini Reviews - 6/4/2009 5:04:52 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 78111
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo


88 Minutes






Synopsis

Serpico does Jack Bauer! On the day that serial killer Jon Forster is to be executed, the man instrumental in putting him behind bars, Dr Jack Gramm, gets a phone call to say his has just eight eight mimutes to live! Who is responsible? Has the wrong man been convicted? And can Gramm unravel a conspiracy that could rock the very foundation of his American society?



Positives

Al Pacino. Accusations that the great man is past it are proved wrong here. Showing a level of understanding for his character that you can only provide from being at the top of your game for 30 years+, Pacino delves right into the psyche of Dr. Jack Gramm, a man haunted by his past, his orange tan and carefully crafted facial fuzz subtle metaphors for the tortured soul within and weight of the world carried on his shoulders. Giving one of his most astute and nuanced performances, Pacino reminds us why he’s regularly named as one of the finest actors of all time. Jack Gramm will go down in history alongside the likes of Michael Corleone, Sonny Wortzik and Frank Serpico.

Alicia Witt. Surely one of the most versatile actresses working in film today. Who can forget her star turn in Urban Legend, bettering performances in similar films by actresses as diverse as Janet Leigh and Neve Campbell? What about her seductive turn in Two Weeks Notice? Or the lonely, lovestruck Princess Kriemhild in Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King? It is here though that she gives the performance of her life, a role that should send her into the acting stratosphere. With her flaming red hair reflecting the fiery temperament within, the role of Kim Cummings should become as iconic as Ripley or Sarah Connor.

We mustn’t foget the rest of this sublime cast. Amy Brenneman, Leelee Sobieski, Deborah Kara Unger, Neal McDonough, William Forsythe and Benjamin McKenzie. Rarely has such a range of talent ever come before the camera. This is possibly the best cast for a thriller since, well, it is the best cast for a thriller ever.


Behind the camera we have director John Avnet, Responsible for such classics as Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, The War and Up Close and Personal, not forgetting the sorely missed TV show Boomtown, his years of experience are evident and the auteur’s assured, guiding hand can be subtly felt as the plot unfolds. And that plot comes courtesy of Gary Scott Thompson,. Having spent the last 5 years producing and writing the smash hit TV show Las Vegas, here he reminds us that he’s best as writer of blockbuster films, and 88 Minutes joins a CV filled with genre masterpieces – Hollow Man, The Fast and The Furious and K-911. As elements of the story come together nothing, despite the real-time element, seems rushed or forced, and come the finale the viewers feels as though they’ve lived through these events themselves. The depth of writing here rivals the masterpieces of American Cinema, the allegories, metaphors and parables beautifully woven into the story. This is Chinatown for the noughties.



Negatives

How can you find fault with perfection?


Overall

Without a doubt, one of the best films of the last 30 years, and sure to make my top 50 of all time.



_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to wgamador)
Post #: 1889
RE: Mini Reviews - 6/4/2009 10:05:34 AM   
DJ Rob C: Mark II!


Posts: 34879
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Christmas town
That should win! 

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Post #: 1890
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