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 Posted:   Jan 4, 2014 - 4:17 PM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) -- 7/10

Just finished watching a bit ago, still processing my thoughts so won't write much now except for my initial reaction and response...Insidious: Chapter 2 didn't quite work as well as the first film did. A few more clichés, a bit less originality, a bit more of the annoying "comic relief" characters, too little Rose Byrne...issues. However, the trademark James Wan Insidious nightmare cocktail of deliriously creepy music, shocking imagery, evocative colors, striking photography, and sharp editing still made it a decent horror film.

 
 Posted:   Jan 4, 2014 - 4:45 PM   
 By:   Sirusjr   (Member)

I like the image you selected Deputy but don't you think it is a bit spoilerific?

American Hustle (2013) - 10/10
"American Hustle" captures the style and flair of the 70s beautifully. Each of the characters has a unique personality and there is plenty of comedy in the dialog. It isn't easy to describe but instantly pulls in the audience. The trailers do a fantastic job previewing the characters and the feel of the film.The film has an enchanting aura that will capture most people and stick with you for quite some time. Though it opens with a statement that some of this actually happened, I expect the connection to real life is much attenuated.

Director David O Russel splashed into the awareness of modern audiences with the 2012 film "Silver Lining's Playbook." For "American Hustle" he manages to bring back a classic style of cinema that has all but disappeared from theaters. Though Danny Elfman wrote a few pieces for the film, I was hard pressed to identify any of it. The songs in the film take center stage and help drive home the 70s setting with plenty of jazzy tunes. I noticed a distinct lack of bass in the sound mix, refreshingly so. It is nice to remember a time before all music needed to be mastered so that the bass shook the room.

What makes American Hustle so refreshing is that it surprises audiences with many unexpected things. Little actions the characters take seem like what real people might do in that situation but yet are unlike what you typically see in a film. This also leads to quite a bit of comedy. I probably laughed more in "American Hustle" than I have for most comedies. Unlike a comedy, the rest of the film is engaging in other ways.

"American Hustle" has a cast that showcases the new generation of stars. Though some bigger actors show up at times, the film focuses on characters played by Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner. If there was any doubt of the talent of any of them the performances given here dispel that. Louis C.K. has a small role in the film as well and fits the part perfectly. Out of all of them, I found Christian Bale the most enchanting, in part because of how over-the-top his character was.

"American Hustle" is a delightful film that will enchant you from start to finish. I expect it would stand up nicely to repeated views. If you need a reminder of what made films so alluring in the past, "American Hustle" will renew your spark.

 
 Posted:   Jan 4, 2014 - 6:10 PM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

I like the image you selected Deputy but don't you think it is a bit spoilerific?

Do you think it is? Have you seen the movie? It didn't even enter my mind. I can't see how it would be a spoiler at all, and now I'm curious if you have an idea why it might be? In case my mind isn't working and I'm overlooking something I guess I'll change it. I chose the pic arbitrarily anyway. Probably is a good idea to change the picture, because every shock and surprise in these movies, even the smaller ones, are all part of the fun.

 
 Posted:   Jan 4, 2014 - 7:00 PM   
 By:   Sirusjr   (Member)

Well not a spoiler in the traditional plot sense. But it is always more fun to experience those scares for the first time in the film.

 
 Posted:   Jan 4, 2014 - 10:31 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Today I watched Antiviral, the 2012 film written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg, son of David. And I have very mixed emotions about it. It's a futuristic sci-fi thriller where people have become so obsessed with celebrities that they'll pay lots of money just to get their diseases, even if it could kill them! Caleb Landry Jones, whom I had just seen a few days earlier in Byzantium works in probably the biggest drug dispensary where you can get injections of those diseases and viruses and so forth, and he's obsessed with the company's cover girl, who, though seriously ill, still has a legion of fans clamoring for injections of the same ailment that has brought her to death's door. It's a creepy movie, not unlike some that Cronenberg's late father made, and there were times when I hated it, but other times I thought it approached a peculiar brilliance. To anyone thinking about seeing it, try to watch the lengthy making-of special, which is fascinating and makes you appreciate the efforts that brought this film to life.

Note: Please disregard what I wrote about the LATE David Cronenberg -- as I explain below, I confused Cronenberg with Crichton! Thanks, Cindy!

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 5, 2014 - 12:34 AM   
 By:   CindyLover   (Member)

It's a creepy movie, not unlike some that Cronenberg's late father made

Unless you meant David Cronenberg's dad, I'm happy to say Brandon's father is still with us.

 
 Posted:   Jan 5, 2014 - 1:20 AM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Wow! Sorry about that!!!!!! Don't know what I was thinking! Actually, I think I was thinking of a famous novelist who also directed … help me -- who was I thinking of? It was the author of "The Andromeda Strain" -- Michael Crichton! Sorry about that. Got my Crichtons and Cronenbergs confused!!!!!

 
 Posted:   Jan 5, 2014 - 7:47 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Wow! Sorry about that!!!!!! Don't know what I was thinking! Actually, I think I was thinking of a famous novelist who also directed … help me -- who was I thinking of? It was the author of "The Andromeda Strain" -- Michael Crichton! Sorry about that. Got my Crichtons and Cronenbergs confused!!!!!

Funny, I get my Crichtons, Croneberges, and croutons mixed up.

 
 Posted:   Jan 5, 2014 - 8:43 AM   
 By:   mastadge   (Member)

Wow. Been a long time again.

Watched Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott's delicious Big Night. Watched Mark Steven Johnson's Killing Season -- being from Johnson, I knew it wouldn't be good, but watched it only for Chris Young's score. (Why is it that so many scores are available but one by Young gets no release?) I can only imagine how different its goofiness would have been had it been McTiernan/Travolta/Cage instead of the Johnson/Travolta/de Niro thing it turned out to be.

I made a double feature of Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, of which I was surprised to find that the former was far the better movie. Not a good movie, but at least it had its moments of charm, and had a real human relationship at its core, and had Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson classily hamming it up. The Mortal Instruments, on the other hand, was completely plot/MacGuffin driven, mostly horribly acted, with an unfortunate aesthetic sense and tons of painful exposition.

Watched Edgar Wright's The World’s End, which I really enjoyed until the climax which seemed a little too easy, but at least fit the rest of the film thematically. Watched Paul Verhoeven's Tricked, a short (50-minute) film that was the result of some kind of crowdfunding situation where the same story was filmed both by him and by amateurs or something? Anyway, it's watchable but definitely a trifle and not worth importing except for die-hard Verhoeven fans. Watched Danny Boyle's Trance which was mostly surface without leaving the viewer much to chew on, but which certainly I think was better than the way it disappeared without a trace would suggest.

We’re the Millers gets a lot of mileage out of decent chemistry between its cast, but is undermined by the usual mean humor and casual homophobia and misogyny, as well as its extreme predictability. Elysium is a hot mess with some compelling sequences and elements that don't fit together well and never come together into a believable vision of the future. I mean, the social stratification and poverty and so forth was believable, but not the actual structure of things and core conceit of the film.

I watched Only God Forgives which is more accessible than Refn's more abstruse efforts like Valhalla Rising and, to my taste, better than Drive. A cinematic, hyperreal fever dream. My favorite Refn film remains Bronson, though. Followed Only God Forgives up with another, completely different sort of cinematic stream-of-consciousness, Upstream Color, Shane Carruth's extra-Hollywood follow-up to Primer, a Thoreauvian dream/nightmare/meditation on human nature which, I must admit, held my attention more in its horrific opening act than in its more abstract third act.

And that brings us to about two weeks ago and Linklater's Before trilogy, which I'll return to discuss a little this evening or tomorrow.

 
 Posted:   Jan 5, 2014 - 9:42 AM   
 By:   gone   (Member)

A Very Long Engagement : beautifully (stunningly) filmed with lots of spirit. I also like the score; simple yet poignant. I'm a big fan of Audrey Tautou.

I like that Jean-Pierre Jeunet keeps the camera steady on this one and doesn't go overly frenetic (Amelie) or silly (The City Of Lost Children). Note: I use 'silly' for TCOLC for lack of a better word. That movie should be right up my alley with respect to subject matter and the surreal intent, but I never made it to the end. I did complete Amelie, but felt like I had been on a roller coaster. Ended up selling both of them, reluctantly.

 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2014 - 7:10 AM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

(revisit)

Dreamcatcher (2003) -- 6/10

Went back and watched this again since I just finished reading Stephen King's source novel. An enormously difficult book to adapt, it didn't quite make it successfully onto screen. Great f/x and photography and a terrific cast, but some dialogue adaptations and changes became quite silly and pedestrian. The cast is great but their acting is very subpar, often laughable, and this applies even to talented thesps like Morgan Freeman, Damian Lewis, Thomas Jane, and Timothy Olyphant. I think the director, Lawrence Kasdan (usually a top-notch artist) and the writer William Goldman (also typically reliable) are to blame for the faults in adaptation and Kasdan in particular for directing some inept performances by capable actors. But then again, that's just a guess. Considering the levels of talent involved, this should have been so much better. Lots of good ideas, lots of poor execution. Terrific James Newton Howard score, featuring at least 30 minutes of knockout unreleased material including some of the best action music in his career.

 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2014 - 7:56 AM   
 By:   Mr. Jack   (Member)

I DUDDITS!

 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2014 - 12:43 PM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

(revisit)

Dreamcatcher (2003) -- 6/10

Went back and watched this again since I just finished reading Stephen King's source novel. An enormously difficult book to adapt, it didn't quite make it successfully onto screen. Great f/x and photography and a terrific cast, but some dialogue adaptations and changes became quite silly and pedestrian. The cast is great but their acting is very subpar, often laughable, and this applies even to talented thesps like Morgan Freeman, Damian Lewis, Thomas Jane, and Timothy Olyphant. I think the director, Lawrence Kasdan (usually a top-notch artist) and the writer William Goldman (also typically reliable) are to blame for the faults in adaptation and Kasdan in particular for directing some inept performances by capable actors. But then again, that's just a guess. Considering the levels of talent involved, this should have been so much better. Lots of good ideas, lots of poor execution. Terrific James Newton Howard score, featuring at least 30 minutes of knockout unreleased material including some of the best action music in his career.


LOL what a coincidence, I'm currently halfway through the book after having seen the movie again last week; I've been comparing the two quite a bit and the eye for detail in the set design is eerie as it's just as King described it. The first half is pretty faithful so far, I do look forward to the ending in the novel as the last reel of the movie was terrible. Agree about the JNH score, I hope they include that end title remix as well on a possible release!

I DUDDITS!



Ugh yes, this was embarrassingly bad big grin

You'll enjoy this review:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlwXGY8xoxo

 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2014 - 4:12 PM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

LOL what a coincidence, I'm currently halfway through the book after having seen the movie again last week; I've been comparing the two quite a bit and the eye for detail in the set design is eerie as it's just as King described it. The first half is pretty faithful so far, I do look forward to the ending in the novel as the last reel of the movie was terrible. Agree about the JNH score, I hope they include that end title remix as well on a possible release!

Cool! Hope you enjoy the book. I felt like the second half of the book is less faithfully represented onscreen than the first half of the book. The filmmakers made some interesting story changes, you'll see what I mean. Otherwise I thought it was a very faithful adaptation and I really enjoyed the book. Of course reading Kurtz's lines all I could hear was Morgan Freeman's voice. Let me know what you think of the book when you've finished!

 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2014 - 4:13 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Earlier I posted the following on a thread about the French film "Renoir":

I just watched this movie and had no idea who wrote the music as I watched it. At first the score reminded me of Carter Burwell's lyrical cues from "In Bruges," then other times it brought to mind Desplat's "Coco Before Chanel," so I wasn't surprised to see in the closing credits that it was by Desplat. It's quite lovely, and I re-watched big chunks of the film just to sample some of that music again.

So it was disheartening to read here that there isn't a soundtrack CD. I'll try to find some of it online.


Yes, quite disheartening, and since writing the above I've gone to various online sites and found narry a cue of the lovely score downloadable. Forsooth! Frankly, it's ironic that I would be searching for an Alexandre Desplat score after my blaming him for the dull film that the 2nd "Twilight" ("New Moon") became. But I would eventually realize that I was giving him a bum rap -- it's my least favorite of the 5, and the script had far more to do with that than Desplat's music, and, frankly, I was blaming him more for NOT being Carter Burwell (who scored the original) than for his actual score. Since then I fell in love with a lot of his music, including "Coco Before Chanel" and "The King's Speech." although this is probably the wrong place to talk about that.

 
 Posted:   Jan 6, 2014 - 4:15 PM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

Evil Dead (2013) -- 8/10

Very enjoyable!

 
 Posted:   Jan 7, 2014 - 12:06 AM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

2014 Film Journal:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Old childhood favorite, watched the DVD for the first time - nice to finally see the 2.20:1 aspect ratio. Some fun supplements as well. (1 Jan.)

THX-1138 - I've been especially attentive to 1970s American film lately, and this is one of the "whiz-kid generation" ones. First time in ages seeing this. Wonderful visual design, but standard, although clever, dystopia "hits." Insightful, but pompous commentary by George Lucas and Walter Murch. (1 Jan.)

The Uninvited (1944) - I very much enjoyed this atmospheric classic ghost story. Too often spooky films fall apart by the end, but this one holds up admirably to its conclusion. Gail Russell adds an appropriately haunting presence. (2 Jan.)

College Swing - 1938 all-star (George and Gracie, Bob Hope, Betty Grable etc.) nonsense of collegiate hijinks. More bad news than "Good News." Fun to see the talent, but let's just say that dumb comedies are not a recent innovation. (2 Jan.)

In a Lonely Place - My second time in two years seeing this Bogart noir classic. Better this time as I now know this is more character-driven than a fiendish mystery as I had been expecting the first time I saw this. (3 Jan.)

Wild Strawberries - I've seen this famous Bergman film several times in the past, but this was my first time watching the Criterion DVD with Peter Cowie's excellent commentary. (4 Jan.)

Renoir - Stunning color cinematography is the star of this good, though fairly conventional, biopic showing Renoir pere in his declining years and his son Jean on the cusp of his cinema career - and the woman who fascinates both of them. I want a sequel showing Jean Renoir and Catherine in the 1920s! (5 Jan.)

Hour of the Wolf - More Bergman, but one that seems minor coming in between the masterpieces "Persona" and "Shame." Interesting how "Hour" prefigures "The Shining" in several ways. This also displays a distinct Fellini influence. (5 Jan.)

Amour - My library copy of this much lauded Haneke film finally arrived. Nicely written and acted, although the Frank Langella film "Starting Out in the Evening" from a few years ago was more involving concerning the dementia subject matter. Even though I had read much about "Amour" beforehand, there were still some startling trademark Haneke tone shifts for me to discover. (6 Jan.)

 
 Posted:   Jan 7, 2014 - 1:58 PM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

(revisit)

Tape (2001) -- 10/10

Another Richard Linklater masterpiece. Just Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke, and Robert Sean Leonard. Just a motel room. So simple, but the brilliant screenplay (adapted by the original author from his play) is riveting and the performances are magnetic. Linklater's ability to bring such a simple stage with three characters to a rapid-fire dramatic interaction is a testament to his creativity and unique vision. The characters never leave the motel room from opening credits to end, but it never feels claustrophobic or repetitive; Linklater stages stretches of dialogue in different parts of the room, giving the film room to breathe and circulate. One of Ethan Hawke's finest performances, and my favorite performance by Robert Sean Leonard. This joins the pantheon of Linklater masterpieces alongside Suburbia, Dazed and Confused, and the Before Trilogy.



 
 Posted:   Jan 8, 2014 - 4:07 PM   
 By:   DeputyRiley   (Member)

Oblivion (2013) -- 9.5/10

Fantastic. A few cheesy lines and moments here and there, but what an accomplishment, I was riveted the entire time. Haven't had my imagination and sense of sight and sound that stirred up in quite some time.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 8, 2014 - 4:15 PM   
 By:   Michael24   (Member)

Oblivion (2013) -- 9.5/10

Fantastic. A few cheesy lines and moments here and there, but what an accomplishment, I was riveted the entire time. Haven't had my imagination and sense of sight and sound that stirred up in quite some time.


I really enjoyed the first hour as it set up and explored the world, and Cruise's day-to-day activities. Unfortunately, I didn't find the second half anywhere near as compelling as the first. The effects and cinematography were splendid, though.

 
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