The Woman In Black

May 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Posted in 2012 | 1 Comment

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Does this film answer the question, “can Daniel Radcliffe really act?”  I honestly don’t know but it does answer the question, “how seriously does he take his craft?”  Very.  This very standard gothic spook-fest hits all the right notes.  It is genuinely creepy without being the least bit gory.  The mood, scenery, set pieces, lighting, music, lack of music, acting (oh, especially that) are all gothic perfection.  This is a thoroughly Edwardian ghost story that gave me goose bumps more than once and provided a few good starts (though, admittedly, that is not hard to do to me).  Now, this is not Scorsese; nuance was not required of Mr. Radcliffe, but I could see the veins in his head positively pulsing with the effort of trying to get this exactly right.  And, to his credit, I think he did.  It would appear he is not a natural (like young Dekota Fanning) but rather he will carve for himself a set of skill through sheer force of will.  If this is true, he will find himself in good company; that is the category I would put Sean Penn in.


Jiro Dreams of Sushi

May 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Posted in 2012 | 1 Comment

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This lovely documentary is small in scope, focusing only on one man, his two sons, and his Michelin 3-Star restaurant located in the Tokyo subway.  The tiny place serves only sushi and seats about a half dozen people.  Though meals run ¥30,000 ($376.83, as of today), he is booked months in advance.  The film moves as slowly and as delicately as Jiro does when making his sushi but also has the same deliberate focus.  Jiro loves sushi and so do the film makers; never has the rhythmic preparation of the same piece of food been so enjoyable to watch.  Along the way, we also learn of Jiro’s past and of his sons’ efforts to live in his enormous shadow.  But, for me, the film’s true Zen beauty lay in those moments we got to watch the hands work.

The Avengers

May 26, 2012 at 11:55 am | Posted in 2012 | Leave a comment

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Given how run-of-the-mill both “Thor” and “Captain America” were, I had little expectations for this film and was happily wrong.  I believe this was the most fun I have had at a superhero movie in a long time.  It is, perhaps, one of the most capital “F” Fun movies in the genre (understanding that films like “The Dark Knight” and “The Watchers” cannot be called Fun in that same way.).  It had many of the qualities I liked about the first “Iron Man,” not surprising given how much air-time Robert Downey had, and gives us the only film-version Hulk worth watching.  It was a loud and very silly romp but a thoroughly enjoyable one.

The Hunger Games

May 22, 2012 at 10:55 am | Posted in 2012 | Leave a comment

◊ ½

I’m not really sure what I expected from this film.  The truth is, the book itself is only okay.  It is a quick read and, as such, I appreciated the escapism, but this isn’t Michael Cunningham here.  The film certainly stays true to the spirit of the book, even while changing a variety of plot pieces (mostly for the better, actually).  The action and special effects were about what I expected and the acting was certainly up to the task.  Perhaps, I was bothered by the waste of a talent like Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”), who can clearly act a great deal better than was required of her here.  Or, perhaps, just seeing the book on film, made me see just how silly so much of the story is.  Apparently, the trick to being a wealthy author is to not be another Michael Cunningham.

The Cabin In The Woods

May 19, 2012 at 10:49 am | Posted in 2012 | Leave a comment

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This delightfully clever film is a by the numbers slasher film that turns out to be so much smarter than every other slasher film (I would say smarter even than “Scream” but I have to give that film credit for planting the seeds that would become this one).  This movie takes self-referential and tongue-in-cheek to a new level.  It manages to deconstruct the horror genre in a way I have never seen before, allowing every scene to be absurdly funny and is able to (quite ingeniously) tie every single horror film ever made into an over-arching narrative; they are really all part of the same story, we just never knew it.  Brilliant.

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