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Movie Tally 2012: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Movie Tally 2012The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Directed by Justin Lin

Viewed: 1/13/2012 (Home Viewing – Bluray)

Still has terrible dialogue. Still dumb as hell. Still buttloads of fun.

    3.5 out of 5

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Movie Tally 2012: The Killing (1956)

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Movie Tally 2012The Killing (1956)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

Viewed: 1/12/2012 (Netflix Instant Watch)

First time viewing for me, despite being a Kubrick fanatic.  Pretty much loved most of it, specifically the unique and unorthodox style of storytelling.  You can start to see little bits of future Kubrick peeking out in the camera movements and experimental film making.  This might be blasphemous to say but I really did not care for the sort of out of place narration throughout. It’s what keeps the movie from becoming truly great Kubrick.  I would still consider the film classic noir despite the troublesome narration.

    4.5 out of 5

Movie Tally 2012: Man on a Ledge (2012)

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Movie Tally 2012Man on a Ledge (2012)

Directed by Asger Leth

Viewed: 1/10/2012 (@ Regal Westgate 11 in Austin, TX)

Unfortunately this will likely be a quick few thoughts since the movie didn’t really make me feel much of anything.  It’s the epitome of “well, that was something I watched”.  Overly long and far too obvious, Man on a Ledge kills any sort of tension it might build up through the first act with uninspired performances from a typically solid cast featuring Sam Worthington(not typically solid), Ed Harris, Ed Burns, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Anthony Mackie and Kyra Sedgwick (although really, does she even count?  she’s barely there and might have 2 lines for a poorly written character).  Everyone’s on autopilot barely scrounging anything that’s given to them with tedious dialogue and logic defying character choices.

The story, if you even care at this point, is a man sent to jail for a crime he didn’t commit decides to step onto a ledge to distract everyone from an actual crime he has planned in the next door building carried out by his brother in order to prove his innocence.  Don’t cry spoiler, because seriously, that synopsis is exactly the entire movie.  There are no big twists (save for one but if you can’t see that coming from a mile away you simply weren’t paying attention) and no particularly interesting character revelations but it does feature every cliche in the book.  The movie not only holds your hand throughout the entire run time but dares to act as if these “revelations” are heart attack inducing.

Man on a Ledge is just plain boring and forgettable.  Nothing great about the performances, a cliche ridden script and lazy direction make for yet another January radar blip that people will struggle to remember by the end of 2 hours much less the end of the weekend. Skip it.

    1.5 out of 5

Movie Tally 2012: Kill List (2012)

January 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Movie Tally 2012Kill List (2012)

Directed by Ben Wheatley

Viewed: 1/7/2012 (iTunes HD Rental)

Many people got to see this movie last year, I’ve been jealous each time I’ve had to hear about it.  Kill List was finally made available to more people through On Demand, iTunes and Amazon On Demand this past week.  As excited I was to finally see the movie, I had to temper my expectations just a bit, you know just in case it doesn’t live up to all of the high praise I had been hearing for almost a year.  Whatever I was expecting, it certainly wasn’t this.

I’m a fan of Ben Wheatley’s previous movie Down Terrace primarily due to the wonderful naturalistic dialogue and cinematography.  The movie felt improvised without actually being improvised, the characters felt real and when the hard hitting stuff finally came it felt all the more rough because of the layered characters and situations they were put in.  Kill List covers similar territory both plot-wise and the way it’s made.  Wheatley is starting to find his voice and style and it’s nice going into the film already familiar to the odd, off kilter slow burn it presents.  Financially trouble former hitman Jay, played by Neil Maskell, is in the middle of a failing marriage while also dealing with being unemployed until his fellow friend and hitman, Gal played by Michael Smiley, offers him a job that may get him out of the mess he’s in.  To go any further would be a mistake, it’s best to go in knowing as little as possible.

I’m not going to spend too long retreading what I’ve already said.  Wheatley’s style and trademark naturalism is still completely intact and just as well done as before.  Where the film really distinguishes itself is halfway through when the line between drama, thriller and surprisingly horror is blurred.  I’m not completely sold by the eventual outcome of the movie and the way it gets there but I have to admire the guts to take a dark path toward something unique and different from what we might be expecting.  The performances from Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley are incredible and help sell the insane twists and turns the two friends take while trying to complete the “kill list”.  I haven’t mentioned MyAnna Buring who is completely convincing as Jay’s fed-up wife, Shel.  The fights they have are as brutal as the hits, it’s strangely entertaining watching the two completely disappear as the characters are at each others throats.

The cinematography at the beginning of the movie retains the very naturalistic approach previously explored in Down Terrace but as the movie progresses into darker territory the naturalism is mixed with a stark light and dark contrast that absolutely terrifies.  The clever use of darkness in the frame and when light is introduced becomes powerful in displaying a potential horror around each corner.  This becomes especially effective during the intense twists throughout the movie culminating in a terrifying and claustrophobic final sequence.

Kill List is a great movie that unfolds with a wildly unpredictable turn of events that will have people gasping at the final frame.  It’ has some issues but it’s confidence helps overcome any problems I might have with the overall product.

4.0 out of 5

Movie Tally 2012: The Devil Inside (2012)

January 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Movie Tally 2012The Devil Inside (2012)

Directed by William Brent Bell

Viewed: 1/5/2012 (@ Galaxy Highland in Austin, TX)

Riding on the back of the popular Paranormal Activity series, Paramount snatched up The Devil Inside with the hopes that a new found footage series would be born.  However, instead of haunted house style horror, what we get is an even more worn out genre retread: exorcism.  Since 1973, any exorcism movie made has been a direct result of the success and frankly genius work of William Friedkin and The Exorcist.  It seems like every year we get at least one ripoff of the classic, some better than others (most of The Last Exorcism) but most I can barely get through.  The Devil Inside is terrible, quite possibly one of the dumbest and most pointless movies in recent memory.

The idea of the movie is pretty basic.  A documentary film crew follows a young American woman as she investigates whether her mother is possessed by a demon.  The investigation takes her to Rome, where her mother is being kept in a Catholic mental institution.  Why Rome? No fucking clue as it’s never really explained why she had to be shipped out of the United States in the first place.  While in Rome she meets two ordained priests that conduct exorcisms without the knowledge of the church.  Together the three attempt to prove that her mother is in fact possessed and possibly help her.  Yep, rogue priests exorcising people.  The movie very nearly lost me here.  Then a dog barked and scared the crap out of me.  This is important because it was the only part that actually scared me.

Riddled with cliche after cliche and attempting nothing new, The Devil Inside, is an absolute failure in nearly every single aspect.  Generic concepts and script elements kill the otherwise mildly creepy exorcism scenes.  Note creepy, not scary.  There’s a fairly interesting scene involving a cool contortionist performance, again completely ripped off other great movies, however all the tension is drained from the scene by the silly placement of cameras all around the room for no real discernible reason other than to give the editor lots to cut to.  Speaking of which, what was the editor doing?  Scenes often end mid-tension, mid-scene with a cut to black with text.  If anything it made the movie feel ridiculous and silly.  I laughed but not with the movie but clearly at it.  It’s a mess and you can tell the filmmakers had no idea what to do with it once the footage was completed and looked at.

The ending is the cherry on top though.  I won’t go into details but at this point if it wasn’t already apparent the filmmakers didn’t know what to do, they give a big “fuck you” to the audience.  There is no third act, there is no real resolution at all and everything you thought was the point of the movie isn’t the point.  The entire audience booed, and everyone hated this movie by the end of it.  By the way they saw it for free.  The Devil Inside is stupid, worthless and worst of all an embarrassment for Paramount.  Looks like the joke’s on us though,  the movie probably has a 15 million dollar profit so far with a killer opening weekend. They suckered the entire country, and we all fell for it. Fuck this movie and fuck the inevitable sequel.

1.0 out of 5

Movie Tally 2012: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)

January 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Movie Tally 2012Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011)

Directed by Thomas Alfredson

Viewed: 1/3/2012 (@ Regal Arbor in Austin, TX)

A wonderful cast killing a sharp script with some of the best directing of the year from Thomas Alfredson.  The cinematography opens a small window into the 60’s style spy genre.  The haze that coats each scene lures the audience in and doesn’t let go until the final thrilling moments.

Short and quick review but I loved the movie and can’t wait to see it again.

4.5 out of 5

Movie Tally 2012: The Arbor (2011)

January 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Movie Tally 2012 – The Arbor (2011)

Directed by Clio Barnard

Viewed: 1/2/2012 (Netflix Instant Watch)

Off-kilter, strange and utterly fascinating, The Arbor shows the devastating destruction of a family over the course of a few decades.  Shot with unconventional techniques, Clio Barnard chooses a more cinematic approach for the true story of playwright Andrea Dunbar and her dysfunctional family.  The dialogue is recorded and dubbed over a few actors, each representing a different person of the Dunbar clan.  The results are at first strange and unsettling, but soon the odd depiction settles and becomes absolutely necessary to the story being told.

In addition to using actors to mouth the dialogue recorded off screen, the documentary is shot in a more cinematic style using cinematography more at home in a narrative rather than a documentary.  It aids the first 45 minutes or so, as that’s when the film is at it’s most interesting.  Unfortunately the movie at 94 minutes feels about 20 minutes too long with an extended portion of the second half devoted to Lorraine Dunbar, Andrea’s drug ridden daughter.  The story is captivating but all the energy seems to drop out around the 60 minute mark.

Much of that energy comes from the aforementioned techniques but also the unconventional performance of the actual play, “The Arbor”, that Andrea wrote so early in her life.  I found myself completely entranced by the mini performances put on by the multiple actors, specifically the young man who plays Andrea’s brother.  More of this later in the movie would have better setup the parallels between the Dunbars and what Andrea was writing about as well as break up a somewhat dull stretch of Lorraine’s personal choices.  At a certain point I understood that Lorraine was a terrible parent.  I understood that it might have been because of Andrea and because of her violent childhood, I didn’t need it beaten into my skull.

Despite the lull in the middle, I found the entire story incredibly interesting and the unique approach to telling it fascinating to watch.  At the end of the day I can’t get this stuff out of my head.  The brutal realism will stick with you.

4.0 out of 5