Friday, October 21, 2011

"Womb" - Benedek Fliegauf (2011)

"Womb" is brilliant and revolting.

I still don't know if I liked it or not.

But hey, anything with the 11th Doctor (or Eva Green, for that matter) is worth a look.

I believe I will wait a few months and watch it again.

Here's my review.

Also, I may have mispronounced Benedek Fliegauf's name.

If I did, apologies.





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Friday, October 7, 2011

"The Way" - Emilio Estevez (2011)








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Here is my video review of "The Way" complete with interviews from Martin Sheen & Emilio Estevez as seen on NBC Action News.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" - David Yates (2011)

I’ll break the suspense and just tell you right off the top the Harry Potter film franchise has ended on a fantastic note.




The film is paced perfectly. It makes perfect sense why the decision was made to split “Deathly Hallows” into two films. “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is so different from its predecessor that it really is in an entirely different genre.

From the opening Warner Brothers’ logo, it’s clear “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” was storyboarded and shot with 3D technology in mind. I have never seen a film use 3D to express so much of its theme and emotions of its characters the way this one does.

When “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” opens, dementors patrol the perimeters of Hogwarts, surrounding the school like smoke. Students trudge through the yard like inmates at a concentration camp or masses trapped in a “1984” dimension.
With those images, David Yates not only sets the tone of the film, but makes an immediate statement about the nature of totalitarianism: it’s simply the absence of joy.

The imagery of the Holocaust is so ingrained into our collective consciousness that films dealing with the most monstrous acts of the 20th century are emotionally devastating to begin with. It was an evil so incomprehensible, but so close and recent we can still taste it. Diagon Alley looks like the Warsaw ghetto.
But to say “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” uses these themes as an easy shortcut to elicit that tangible dread from us would be an injustice.

Once the tone of the film is set, the story kicks in and it stays in gear for the duration of the film. Daniel Radcliffe said in an interview that “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” starts as a heist film and evolves into a war movie.
That just about sums it up.

Without taking your hand and walking you through the story, there are just a few points to touch on.
Ghosts of Goering, and Josef Mengele haunt the corridors of Hogwarts. When Harry, Ron and Hermione arrive at Hogwarts after months of chasing horcruxes, they are greeted by a visibly bruised and battered Neville Longbottom.

As an avid fan of the books, I adore Neville Longbottom’s story arc and one of my complaints about the Harry Potter films was that he has been largely ignored. “Deathly Hallows Part 2” finally gives Neville’s character the justice he deserves.

Other Hogwarts students from earlier films are there too, emaciated and beaten down, but ready to fight for the hope Harry brings with him when he arrives at the school.
Cho, Seamus, Lee Jordan and others are gaunt, but assemble for battle nevertheless.

What follows is very heavy on effects, but basic-looking. Again, the 3D technology serves the story and characters rather than just being there for the sake of itself. The ghost of Helena Ravenclaw is enraged when she talks of the evil Voldemort has used her family’s property for and it’s a mix of Kelly Macdonald’s skill as an actress and the effects that convey that fury.

Even the battle sequences, with a couple of flashy exceptions, abandon the bright colors coming from magic wands as wizards duel. The fighting here, magical as it is, is vicious, to the point of bestial.
Oddly enough, the 3D technology and animated effects serve the stripped down look well.

From the moment the battle starts, there are shots of dead students littering the background.
Rowling and Yates refuse to shy away from horrors like the mass murder of children, even in a mainstream film like this. They don’t flinch as Hogwarts burns and people Harry love die.

Draco learns, as does Jeffrey Beaumont in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet,” that evil is not glamorous. When its allure is stripped away, it comes down to human suffering. Evil is appealing, but you don’t see how it hurts until you’re sucked in. I don’t think most people understand the statement Rowling is making about the fashion of evil, the glamorization of monsters in our society.

Again, the point here is more than helped along through the use of animated effects. With each horcrux destroyed, Voldemort’s appearance actually changes. He looks frailer each time one is finished off.
Ultimately, when we see the soul of the Great Lord Voldemort, we are faced with a creature that elicits pity and revulsion in equal parts.

If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. It’s an animated creature brought to pathetic life better than my imagination did itself when reading the book. By the way, managing to pull off something sadder and more grotesque than something that’s already in my head is quite an accomplishment.


The film climaxes with a dizzying one-on-one duel between Harry and Voldemort (it’s an incredibly nice touch when Harry simply calls his enemy “Tom”) and features a couple of deaths you must see in 3D.

It feels like I’m biting off more than I can chew, talking about all these different components in one post, but when you sit down and see the joyless Hogwarts castle for the first time, you’ll see exactly what I mean when I talk about 3D technology and animated effects fusing perfectly together with a film’s theme, tone and character development.

And Professor McGonagall is worth the price of admission alone, because watching an old lady just throw down is awesome.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Free Jimmy" - Christopher Nielsen (2006)



"Free Jimmy" is largely unknown, but thanks to the age of Nexflix, you have access to it.

I demand you see it at once.

That is all.


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Enjoy my video review.

Love, your Resident Film Snob.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wild Target - Jonathan Lynn (2010)


Funny movie that could have been better.

Still, it's more than worth your time.

Here's my video review.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Incendies" - Denis Villeneuve (2011)

I watched "Incendies" a couple of weeks ago and was just torn apart by it.

The film opens this Friday in Kansas City and everybody needs to see it.

This film is devastating and brilliant.

It's the story of a brother and sister who are each given an envelope when their mother dies.

One is a letter to a brother neither of them knew existed and the other is for their father who they both thought was dead.

The story unwraps at a perfect pace as Jeanne and Simon head to the Middle East to solve the mysteries they've been handed.

This is how their mother's story is told and it unfolds with brutality.


Revenge, war, violence and sadism don't just mark the landscape of the region, they marked this woman's life.

The plot has a couple twists, but they aren't just there for the sake of having a twist.

I'm afraid to say much more except see this when it opens this weekend.

"Incendies" wasn't the best film nominated for Best Foreign Language at the Oscars this year. That distinction still goes to "Dogtooth."

But it's pretty damn brilliant.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Von Trier's Cast Stands Behind Their Filmmaker (sort of)



Okay, let me explain. No, there is no time. Let me sum up.

Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier was kicked out of Cannes earlier this week for saying that he found pleasure in the fact that he was “really a Nazi.”
Not only that, but the distribution company decided to bail on him because of the controversy.

So, the cast was asked about the whole mess.

When asked if she would work with Lars von Trier again after his incendiary remarks at the press conference for “Melancholia” at Cannes, Kirsten Dunst said, "Yes, I would work with him, yeah.” But she qualified her endorsement of the filmmaker, saying, “It's unfortunate that he joked about that, it is very inappropriate."



But Stellan Skarsgard, who worked with von Trier in “Breaking the Waves,” threw all his support behind his director. "He can say anything, but what you always have to consider is the thought and meaning behind the words, not the words themselves and everybody knows he is not a Nazi, he was a Jew for 33 years,” Skarsgard argued. “It's absolutely ridiculous and it's embarrassing for the Cannes Film Festival that they behave like this."
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Von Trier Uproar

Hey folks, it's been a while.

I've more or less neglected all of my online personas to catch up on sleep for the past month.


Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier has been kicked out of the Cannes film festival for saying that he found pleasure in the fact that he was “really a Nazi.”

"Melancholia" is still in the competition for prizes, which will be handed out at a closing ceremony Sunday.

Von Trier said afterward he had been joking and apologized.

The best part is Kirsten Dunst’s reaction as he’s making the comments.


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cracks - Jordan Scott (2011)

Yes, I know "Cracks" made its debut at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival yet my title says "2011."

I've been going by U.S. Theatrical release dates. I decided to just pick a standard for the dates I use and stick with it for consistency's sake. So for the record, when there's a disparity between my dates and imdb.com's, that's why. It occurred to me that I have never explained that.

At any rate, "Cracks" was released in New York and L.A. on March 18, so it should be making its way here to Kansas City for a short run at some point this spring.

It has gotten mediocre reviews, but I thought it was a brilliant character study of a woman unable to tell narcissism from love.


If that sounds pretentious, there's a reason why the word "Snob" is in my title.

Here's my video review.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Dog Tulip – Paul and Sandra Fierlinger (2010)




"My Dog Tulip" Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films

“My Dog Tulip” is a milestone in animation. It is the first paperless, hand-drawn animated feature ever.


Of course that wouldn’t count for much if the movie wasn’t very good, but I’ll get to the analysis of the film’s content itself shortly.

Paul Fierlinger drew the film onto a digital tablet, using a stylus and Sandra Fierlinger filled in the images perfectly. She seems to know just the right colors to capture the right moods and just how much detail to use without giving too much away. They used a program called “TVPaint.”





Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films


“Tulip” is based on J. R. Ackerley’s memoirs of how he finally found true friendship late in his life when he got his first dog, Tulip. Ackerley is voiced by Christopher Plummer.



I have not read the book in more than 10 years, but I remember laughing out loud a lot and as I watched the film, I kept remembering bits of the book I’d forgotten.


The film, like the book, is pretentious, funny and literate. So naturally, your Resident Film Snob loved it to pieces.

Ackerley whittles the most complex human emotions and experiences down into the basest of animal urges and what he comes out with in his book, is a remarkably wise record, not only of anecdotes, but proverbs.

For example, in the midst of his meditations on Tulip’s bathroom habits, Ackerley takes her through a cemetery. He seems to think the dead should be grateful that his dog is blessing them by using their resting place as a place to unleash her bowels.

After all, they ought to be grateful to be serving any purpose at all, shouldn’t they?




Tulip diddles on the dead. Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films

The film’s style could not possibly fit the spirit of the book better. Paul and Sandra Fierlinger don’t draw “Tulip” with the realistic detail the Pixar generation has come to expect. After all, if it’s going to look so gall-darn realistic, why bother animating it? (That’s right, I said “gall-darn.” You’ll just have to pardon my French.)


Animation style dips several times into what the author sketched as he imagined his dog and sister home alone together. These sequences are simple doodles on paper.


Notice how, for some reason, as minimalist as his “style” is, he still takes the time to draw boobs on his sister. It’s either endearing or creepy. I guess it can be both. Hey, the guy wrote “The Prisoners of War,” so I’m not going to get all bent out of shape.





Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films


And what he projects of human sexuality onto dogs is hysterical and emphasized through this simple doodling that he does, more than it ever could through more sophisticated animated effects.

This is important, since roughly half the movie involves Ackerley trying to get his beloved dog laid.



Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films


Again, he goes about exploring sexuality by simplifying it through the eyes of his dog and again, the stripped down animated style is perfect here. It’s equally adorable and disconcerting how Tulip is drawn in a dress, like a lady of the night.




Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films

It’s touching how he marvels at the way Tulip allows a very small dog to hump her even though Ackerley clearly thinks Tulip is far out of the mutt’s league.



Please don’t make the mistake of trying to watch this with your kids. “My Dog Tulip” is a wonderful cartoon for adults.


This film will be showing here in Kansas City at the Tivoli for at least another few days, so you really need to catch it while you can.

If you miss it, put it in your Netflix queue pronto.

My Dog Tulip – Paul and Sandra Fierlinger (2010)


Midwest Association of Professional Animators: My Dog Tulip – Paul and Sandra Fierlinger (2010): "'My Dog Tulip' Photo Courtesy: New Yorker Films “My Dog Tulip” is a milestone in animation. It is the first paperless, hand-drawn animate..."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Paul – Greg Mottola (2011)


“Paul” reunites “Shaun of the Dead’s” Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and teams them up with an animated alien voiced by Seth Rogan.

Fair warning, the film is filled with vulgarity and potty-mouthed humor.

But it's highly recommended.

And check out thetop10blog.com for a feature from your Resident Film Snob.
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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dear Academy, Obvious Does Not Equal Good

Hey guys. By guys, I mean the Academy. And I know only like two of you are reading this and you already know what I think, but I'm going to pretend my opinion matters anyway.

We all knew Melissa Leo was going to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, but just because it was inevitable doesn't make it right.

I get tired of pointing it out, but I have to say it again: the most obvious performance isn't always the best one.

I'm sure Alice Ward was a shrill woman in her prime and Leo gave a shrill, bad, unwatchable performance.

"The Fighter" is a very good film and Leo's performance is the weak link that pulls it down and keeps it from being great.

But it does reach out and grab you by your eyebrows and make you pay attention to her and apparently, that's what the Academy deems "good."

Amy Adams was nominated for playing Micky's girlfriend, Charlene who had some of the same tough-as-nails qualities as Alice.

Yet her performance, even as she brawled with her future sisters-in-law on her front porch, was subdued and lovely.


I know I'm late in my criticism of the Awards, but I've been sick this past week and a half, so you'll excuse me. This is only one of the Academy's bone-headed moves, so more posts are forthcoming.

Please, hold your breath.

I command you.

Hold it.

That's better.

And just as an afterthought, how many of the voters saw "Animal Kingdom?"

Jackie Weaver was nominated, so a good chunk of the actors at least did, but you have to wonder, how in the world could they ignore that syrupy sweet demonic Smurf?

That woman is still giving me nightmares.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Worst Movies of 2010

This list is shorter than my list of the best films of 2010 primarily because I tend to avoid bad movies.

Still, you can't miss all of them.



Actually, I recommend you do miss all of these.







1) All Good Things - This was absolutely the worst film of 2010.

It was like a Lifetime movie, only worse.

The idea that this script not only got actual talent attached to it, but this movie ended up in those temples we call art-houses is deeply offensive.


2) Valentine’s Day - Wow. Romantic comedies already have a hard time winning me over, but this belongs in a special category of just don't.


3) Catfish - I hated these three guys. That's why I hated this movie so much. The protagonist was just such a tool I just wished bad things for him. This is especially problematic for a documentary.


4) Legion - Just bad. Bad, bad, bad.


5) A Nightmare on Elm Street - I almost had a heart attack and died from not-afraid.

6) The Social Network - I didn't know whether to hate Mark Zuckerberg (the character, I have no idea what he's like in real life) because he was being a jerk or because he was boring the crap out of me.


7) Megamind - The most boring cartoon of the year. And I saw a lot of cartoons this year.

The Quote That Wouldn't Fit


Here's a quote from Elle Fanning about meeting Sofia Coppola that just wouldn't fit anywhere in my video review of "Somewhere" but was too good not to share.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Somewhere - Sofia Coppola (2010)




















Easily one of the best films of the year.

In fact, if you check my top 10 films of the year, you'll find it.

It will be released here in Kansas City this Friday, the 18th.

Here's my review of Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere."


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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What the Academy Got Right and Wrong









Actually, they got more wrong than right, but that's neither here nor there.


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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Best Picture Predictions

This was a story that aired on January 23rd, several days before the nominations were announced.

If I may be so bold as to toot my own horn, I called all ten nominees.


Of course, none of them were any of the ten (or twenty for that matter) best films of the year, but I do know how the Academy thinks.


But enough bragging.

Here's the story as it aired.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

10 Best Films Of 2010 (Plus Honorable Mentions)

I know you've just been on the edge of your seats. Well, wait no more!

Here is my list of the 10 best films of 2010.



1)“Howl”

2)“Never Let Me Go”

3)“Animal Kingdom”

4)“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”

5)“It’s Kind of a Funny Story”


6)“Blue Valentine”

7)“Dogtooth”

8)“Fish Tank”

9)“Somewhere”

10)“Micmacs”


Honorable Mentions:

“Rabbit Hole”

“Enter the Void”

“Machete”