An Education (9/10)

Posted in Entertainment, Movie Reviews with tags , , , on February 10, 2010 by Brandon
A man pulls up to the curb in the rain, feigning concern that the cello you’re carrying in a bag will suffer water damage, so won’t you please put in his car so he can drive alongside you, because you’d have to be a fool to get into the same car with a strange older man. So you oblige him, until the rain bothers you enough that you ask to get into the car, fooled into thinking that you, not he, made the decision. Continue reading

The Spy Next Door (4/10)

Posted in Entertainment, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on February 10, 2010 by Brandon

Hooray, another groan-worthy “family friendly” flick that aims to reach new levels of mediocrity! Only this time, they’ve roped Jackie Chan into the proceedings! How fun! Well, actually, it is kinda fun, and Chan and his Kung Fu antics are the only saving grace of a movie that includes such humor black holes as George Lopez and Billy Ray Cyrus.

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Precious (7/10)

Posted in Entertainment, Reviews with tags , , , , on February 8, 2010 by Brandon

If you haven’t figured out the movie’s true intentions by the time Precious’s mother, Ruby, has sent a TV hurtling over a staircase in an attempt to crush Precious and her newborn beneath its weight, you probably never will. On the surface, it’s about the age-old tale of an oppressed person escaping an oppressing situation through sheer hard work and the unconditional love of non-oppressive people. “Precious” follows this formula to a “T,” but its intent is more subversive and clever than its plot would have you believe. Continue reading

The Princess and the Frog (5/10)

Posted in Entertainment, Reviews with tags , , , , , on February 8, 2010 by Brandon

Picture in your head the “Ain’t never had a friend like me” song from the classic “Aladdin.” Remember how crazy the visuals were, how epic and fast-paced the lyrics? Every single song and dance number in “The Princess and the Frog” aims to be just as show-stoppingly insane, and the result is a film that tries way too hard to push all the buttons and pull all the levers of the Disney musical animated classic, to a point where, much of the time, it loses itself in over-zealous incoherence. Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Film Criticism, Part 2

Posted in Entertainment, Movie Discussion, Rant with tags , , , , , on February 6, 2010 by Brandon
This is a continuation of this blog post: Some Thoughts on Film Criticism
This is a long one, but bear with me, if you will. These past few months have been a bit of a roller coaster for me, which is why my writing has gone down, but I don’t blame the lack of it on anyone but myself. I started a blog almost three years ago, and writing reviews almost five years ago. And except for the occasional freelance article last year, I never got paid for any of it – I did it purely for the love of film and writing, and told myself, especially on days where I didn’t feel particularly like writing anything, that in the long run it would pay off. But then a little thing called laziness set in, I wrote less and less, and somewhere along my motivation bottomed out and I wrote practically nothing for the longest time.

The Book of Eli (8/10)

Posted in Entertainment, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on February 1, 2010 by Brandon
Post-apocalyptic films are a dime a dozen. It seems every other filmmaker is only interested in either the world being destroyed or the world already having been destroyed. That being said, “The Book of Eli” is a surprisingly heartfelt and effective tale about a world ravaged by some kind of war that “tore a hole in the sky” and through which a lone man on a quest trudges, carrying a book of some significance that nobody but he is allowed to read.
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My Picks for the Decade

Posted in Entertainment, Movie Buzz, Movie Discussion, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2010 by Brandon
Why 25? Because I can. A decade only comes along like what, once every eight years or so? So much goes into a movie, and so much more goes into our experience of viewing it. As such, this list may seem puzzling to a lot of readers (you forgot THAT movie? How could you possible include THIS movie??), but what I chose to do is pick the movies that impacted me the most, affirmed and rewarded my love for film, while also showcasing exceptional filmmaking quality and memorable characters and storylines that I believe will transcend this decade and last for many more down the road. The further you go down the list, the more the distinction between the numbers gets fuzzy – the final five are all so close to each other there’s debatably no point to numbering them at all, but hey, that’s part of the fun of list-making.

Good art is a tricky subject, perhaps especially in film, but I think what it does is leave with you with a sense of something beyond just what you see on screen, that penetrates deep into your heart and leaves you hungering for something truly new and wonderful. All of these films, in one way or another, took me places I never quite expected and unleashed the true creative power of film, so I hope you enjoy them.

25. Napoleon Dynamite

The success of this movie can be seen in how much money it grossed: 44 million dollars; about 100 times its budget, but a paltry sum compared to most releases. So why was it so popular? Because few movies have dared to show the utter and slightly unpleasant normality that every day life on the fringes of popularity can bring. If you were one of the popular kids, you probably didn’t really get this movie. But if, like Napoleon, you never really found yourself fitting in, had a hard time making friends, and spent your time learning super sweet dance move skills and drawing fantasy creatures in the margins of your notebook, then he speaks to you, like few other movie “heroes” ever have.
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