Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The day Hawaii bombed Japan?


A lethargic if occasionally lovely slog through the legend of the forty-seven ronin, as tarted up by $175 million worth of Hollywood fantasy, and even though I know that I'm supposed to be totally offended by that, the fanciful nonsense parts are also by a huge margin the best parts.

Directed by Carl Rinsch
Written by Chris Morgan, Hossein Amini, and Walter Hamada
With Keanu Reeves (Kai), Kikuchi Rinko (The Witch), Asano Todanobu (Kira), Shibasaki Ko (Rika), Sanada Hiroyuki (Oishi), Yanamoto Takato (The Fat One), Akanishi Jin (The Young One), Sogabe Hiroshi (The Mean One), and Zombie Boy (Sir Not Appearing In This Film)

Spoiler alert: severe

Monday, December 30, 2013

Of Mars and men


Forgive me.  I didn't know.

Directed by Andew Stanton
Written by Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon, and Andrew Stanton (based on the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs)
With Taylor Kitsch (John Carter), Willem Dafoe (Tars Tarkas), Lynn Collins (Dejah Thoris), Samantha Morton (Sola), Mark Strong (Matai Shang), Dominic West (Sab Than), Bryan Cranston (Col. Powell), and Daryl Sabara (Ned)

Spoiler alert: high

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Earth vs. Rape


"Scenes of violence and sensuality" is MPAA code for "completely unacknowledged sexual assaults," so it's got that great Twilight flavor the kids can't get enough of.  But what does Andrew Niccol add to this crock of shit?  More than you'd think, more than this awful, baldly mercenary stab at box-office success deserved, or would ever reward; but when you look at the end result, you wonder how this movie could ever have these moments when it also has those moments.

Written and directed by Andrew Niccol (based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer)
With Saoirse Ronan (Melanie Stryder/Wanderer), Diane Kruger (Seeker), William Hurt (Uncle Jeb), Chandler Canterbury (Jamie Stryder), Max Irons (Jared), and Jake Abel (Ian)

Spoiler alert: severe

Damn near killed her!


Far less than the sum of its parts, almost every opportunity in Stoker is a missed one, with the exceptions being Chung Chung-hoon's photography, which is almost reason enough to recommend the film, and the two and a half great performances so unfortunately underserved by an underwritten script.

Directed by Park Chan-Wook
Written by Wentworth Miller
With Mia Wasikowska (India Stoker), Matthew Goode (Charlie Stoker), and Nicole Kidman (Evelyn Stoker)

Spoiler alert: high

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The reason for the season


Did the militant atheist enjoy spending the afternoon of his last day off watching a right-wing Christian fundamentalist film about humanity's inherent worthlessness in the absence of God?  The answer may surprise you!  Especially if you don't look at the tags!

Directed by Mel Gibson
Written by Benedict Fitzgerald and Mel Gibson (based on the books by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
With Jim Caviezel (Yeshua), Maya Morgenstern (Maryam), Luca Lionello (Yehudah), Hristo Shopov (Pontius Pilate), Francesco De Vito (Shimon), Christo Jivkov (Yochanan), and Monica Belluci (Magdalen)

Spoiler alert: N/A

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Jasper Johns of tonally confused tae kwon do


You see, because his compositions were vivid but muddled and stupid too.

Directed by David O. Russell
Written by Eric Singer and David O. Russell
With Amy Adams (Sydney Prosser), Christian Bale (Irving Rosenfeld), Bradley Cooper (Richie DiMaso), Jennifer Lawrence (Rosalyn Rosenfeld), Jeremy Renner (Carmine Polito), and some bullshit stunt casting

Spoiler alert: mild

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Basically, it's The Eternal Jew, but with Millennials


As in, "Ha ha ha ha ha.  You're fucking kidding.  Aren't you?"

2012 (2013, for the uncool)
Directed by Noah Baumbach
Written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach
With Greta Gerwig (Frances), Mickey Sumner (Sophie), and Michael Esper (Dan)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Taste the rainbow, feel its length


A delightfully throwback thriller that's far more about crafting imagery than it is about anything you're particularly likely to give a shit about, like sensible or comprehensible plotting, how brains work, or, until its last surprisingly functional moments, character.  But it's so gorgeous, I rarely minded.

Directed by Danny Boyle
Written by Joe Ehearne and John Hodge
With Rosario Dawson (Elizabeth), James McAvoy (Simon), and Vincent Cassel (Franck)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

But what if it had music by Queen?


I didn't have half the issues I expected to have with it, but Frozen doesn't disappoint: it's still a deeply problematic, rather frustrating film, that through lovely imagery and basic entertainment value takes a spot just barely on the right side of wrong.

Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Written by Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, and Shane Morris (based on the story "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen)
With Kristen Bell (Anna), Idina Menzel (Elsa), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), Josh Gad (Olaf), and Santino Fontana (Hans)

Spoiler alert: moderate