Archive for the ‘Rating – 3 Stars’ category

Moonrise Kingdom (Anderson, 2012)



Anti-gun culture rant. Just took my chirrens to see Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. Granted, the film had a visible gun but when Ed Norton’s character gets stripped of his “Beige Scout” leadership, Harvey Keitel strips a badge off his shirt and removes a work knife from his pocket, not a gun. The film is for mature tweens and up as it involves a love affair between two 12 year olds but its bereft of the now commonplace gun violence our kids are exposed to in the average American PG-13 film (see Dark Knight Rises). Since the DNC, gun sales (and gun company stocks) have surged in part for fear of gun regulation under a lame duck liberal administration (proven historically) but also due to general fear of public unrest in our poor economy. Anyway, kuddos to Wes Anderson’s film that does not feature any character being shot. Imagine getting shot and dying from it. Does is feel like a warm feeling that starts in the head and travels to the feet, as described in medical journals? Horrifying thought. Also, kuddos to the average European film that pushes ratings based on violence as opposed to sex. Don’t bother robbing my gun cabinet because I don’t have one and never will.

*** / *****

5 Quick Pics



The Girlfriend Experience (Soderberg, 2009)

LOVE the way this film looks and I found the script very funny.  At the end the amateurish acting doesn’t distract.

*** 1/2 / *****


Drag Me to Hell (Raimi, 2009)

The scariest film I’ve seen in years.  Alison Lohman charms as usual and the kitsch works throughout.

**** / *****

In the Heat of the Night (Jewison, 1967)

Satisfying in the way Rod Steiger’s sheriff slowly develops a vague appreciation of Poiter’s Mr. Tibbs without being overly preachy in the slightest way.  Instilled with a wry sense of humor and stands up well to today’s better pictures concerning race relations.

**** 1/2 / *****


Body of Lies (Scott, 2008)

Even though I had to watch it almost three times to get most details I didn’t mind it.  Very cool treatise on modern day warfare.

*** 1/2 / *****

Downfall (Hirschbiegel, 2004)

Had to check it out after all the parody.  Bruno Ganz is a god of acting in a pretty straight forward run of the mill thriller.

*** / *****

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (Carlos Saldanha, Mike Thurmeier, 2009)



Back are the familiar herd from Ice Age:  The Meltdown for a pretty charming if forced narrative involving a “mystery” world of dinosaurs in this third installment of the animated series Ice Age.  Sid (John Leguizamo), the beloved and simpleminded sloth steals three eggs of an unknown species anticipating and jealous of the forthcoming birth of his “brother,” the son of his elephant leader Manny (Ray Ramano) and his “wife,” Ellie (Queen Latifah).  The eggs hatch and out come three baby tyrannosaurus rex, whoops.  Mommy rex finds the young and snatches them back along with Sid.  Thus begins the journey of Sid’s herd to rescue him – not before stumbling into a new world conveniently connected with the ice age by a simple pass-through – with all sorts of plant eating and meat eating dinosaurs on the other side.

The other familiar protagonists are there and I won’t name them here.  What follows are textbook anticipatory scenes of pre-labor (with elephants), trysts between squirrels Scrat and Scratte over that dastardly acorn and scenes of strife involving the dinosaurs climaxing with a really fantastic sequence involving a huge pterodactyl.  Enter new key character Buck (a scene stealing Simon Pegg), the wily pirate weasel, to save the day.

As I said, the conditions creating the world for the drama feel pretty forced (and so for the kind and gentle mother rex) but the film is charming kid fare and a 3rd sequel is an inevitability.

*** / *****

Burn After Reading (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2008)



I think its fits in nicely within the Coen ouevre (i.e. people, sometimes dumb, sometimes not, getting involved in situations way over the heads) and they must have needed a break after they’re masterpiece of No Country for Old Men and the grand attention it got….the problem with the film is that the thriller aspects of the film occur too late into the third act. So, in the meantime, the audience has to get by on enjoying the wild, over the top acting…..which is pretty good for the most part. However, if you are going to cast Pitt AND Clooney its going to be a distraction anyway – but when they are both trying so hard to give it that “Raising Arizona” intensity its alot to take in. 

John Malkovich, Francis McDormand, Hilda Swinton and Richard Jenkins, all great actors, are sucked into the mayhem of the wildness of the script and are overwhelmed by it.

*** / *****

Standard Operating Procedure (Errol Morris, 2008)



I believe the main principles involved lacked a little something upstairs if you know what I mean.  I say this with sympathy because its clear, and Morris proves it so, that these MPs were out of their element and seemingly just obeying orders with their wheels (and psychotic in the case of Graner) off behavior.  This is a film about the power of photography and Morris crafts it in such a way that even makes his more excessive sequences (e.g. the rather drawn out bit that lines up the three Sony camera images and timeline) acceptable.  Morris’ “interrogation” technique is fascinating – the long pauses, the appearance of somebody really opening up to him.  My main complaint with the film is Danny Elfman’s score – a silly Batman reprise in my opinion.

*** / *****

Midnight Express (Alan Parker, 1978)



I was pretty intrigued to see this given the numerous pop culture references:  The Cable Guy (oh, Billy…), The Simpsons, Airplane (Joey, have you ever been in a… in a Turkish prison? ).  Presented is a very accurate depiction of what its like to “get caught.”  The opening is pretty scary as well as the courtroom scenes.  The film is not a nice portrayal of the Turkish people and this has been a controversy since its release.  The prison sequences are pretty raw but not so intense by today’s standards.  The lead, Brad Davis, is a rather dull presence.  Surprising performance by Randy Quaid (not any more after watching The Last Detail).

*** / *****