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All reviews - Movies (44) - TV Shows (2) - DVDs (4) - Games (30)

Certified Copy review

Posted : 5 years, 10 months ago on 22 January 2012 09:07 (A review of Certified Copy)

If I were to sum up Certified Copy with one word it would be passionate. Passion seeps from this film. It is in the lead performances of Juliette Binoche and William Shimell and certainly present in the way Abbas Kiarostami shoots the scenes. It's even sporadically present in the odd disjointed romance that is central to the story. Measured in moments of beauty and fine acting Certified Copy stands alongside other cinema heavyweights. Taken as a whole, however, it can be a strange, meandering overly ambivalent experience. This might appeal to those looking for a challenge but not those looking for a movie to get lost in.


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Prey review

Posted : 6 years ago on 23 November 2011 03:02 (A review of Prey)

Prey was stuck in development hell for almost a decade. Initial anticipation was fervent, but when it was finally released in 2006, no one really seemed to care.

That is a shame because not only did Prey offer some enticing gameplay gimmicks with its portals and gravity defying gunplay but it also served up a rather stellar story. The atmosphere and environments experienced by Tommy as he strives to save his loved ones from an alien menace.

It is one of a few first person shooters that actually tries to humanize its characters and it, in my opinion, serves up one of gamings more memorable and likeable leads in reluctant Native American Tommy. It treats his back story and heritage with a respect not often found in the stereotype filled gaming world. Combine that with tricky, puzzles, solid gameplay and great writing and you have one of the more under appreciated shooters of the last decade or so.


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Elite Squad review

Posted : 6 years ago on 22 November 2011 03:25 (A review of Elite Squad)

Elite Squad is a mostly fine piece of action film making that manages to separate itself from its brethren through its frenetic, kinetic pacing. The story itself is serviceable - elite BOPE leader craves retirement, searches for a replacement in two seemingly different personalities. One is the live wire Neto, the other is idealistic lawyer in training Matias.

The action set pieces themselves aren't particularly memorable outside of the Brazilian favela setting but the movie does an excellent job at examining the complicated relationships between the Brazilian police and the general public. It's the rare action film that actually has something meaningful and important to say as is expected from Bus 174 director Jose Padilha. It is this skillful combination of social commentary and pure shooting action that makes the film stand out. That being said the documentary style cinematography quickly grates on the visual nerves and the ending is a bit of a cop out - albeit a cop out that really leaves the story open to interpretation. It is one of those ending that will either leave your mind blown by the bold artistic decision or will really aggravate you because it fails to wrap up the film's most important central question how far can nobility take a man in an ignoble, inhuman world? It won't be for everyone but it is still a rather fine movie.


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Parks and Recreation review

Posted : 6 years, 2 months ago on 12 October 2011 06:10 (A review of Parks and Recreation)

The first season is quite uneven but this show really picks up stride in seasons 2 and 3. The ensemble cast is impressive and entertaining and are able to take the departures of key cast members in stride. The story lines stay fresh and interesting and the town of Pawnee is fleshed out by goofy side characters and odd bits of background information.


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Vanishing of the Bees review

Posted : 6 years, 2 months ago on 30 September 2011 07:35 (A review of Vanishing of the Bees)

The documentary has a fascinating likely under appreciated subject: the unexplained mass disappearances of one of nature's most important insects - the honeybee. It explores potential roots of the problem (placing much of the blame on big chemical) and takes a very systematic approach to explaining the issue. However, while the subject matter is fascinating the presentation is shoddy at best. The personalities here are mostly droll and the film is filled with obnoxious narration and cheesy illustrative animations. It's an intriguing watch for the revelations within but is by no means, a rip roaring fun ride.


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Heaven's Gate review

Posted : 6 years, 3 months ago on 5 September 2011 11:46 (A review of Heaven's Gate)

Heaven's Gate is a beautiful film. Almost every frame perfectly captures the allure of the classical romantic West. Sadly, the rest of the film is essentially a disaster. If one looked up maniacal ego trip in the encyclopedia there would likely be a portrait of director Michael Cimino slapped on the page. The beauty of the film is hindered by a mess of a story, countless wasted minutes, horrible sound design and boring unrelatable characters.

It would take a while to document this film's crimes against cinema but some are so egregious they have to be mentioned. Important expository dialogue is drowned out by unrelenting "arty" background noise. Every scene seems to drag on longer than necessary and some sequences, like the near 30 minute prologue, are almost entirely unneeded. The immigrant characters you are supposed to root for are annoying and "fleshed out" via tediously long dance and cockfighting sequences. The core personal conflict of the story (the love triangle between Kris Kristofferson and Christopher Walken's characters) isn't introduced until the last third of the film and is poorly explained and unrealistic. By the end it's hard not to root for the heartless mercenaries to massacre every major character introduced in the film.

It's sad because Cimino obviously has considerable skill as an artist. He chooses amazing locations and builds wonderful sets. But the core important elements of the film are so flawed that instead of being noted for its beautiful imagery it stands as a testament to misguided self indulgence and excess.


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Out of the Park Baseball 11 Deluxe review

Posted : 6 years, 3 months ago on 25 August 2011 03:48 (A review of Out of the Park Baseball 11 Deluxe)

One of the best pure baseball simulations out there. Its not at all flashy and can be less than user friendly but it has tons and tons of options to match any imaginary GM's play style. You can start a career mode in any year of MLB history, run expansion drafts, use real historical players, work your way up from a single a manager to a big league job and that's only scratching the surface. This is the best baseball business simulation out there.


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Paul review

Posted : 6 years, 3 months ago on 23 August 2011 04:48 (A review of Paul)

With this cast, this director (Greg Mottola from Adventureland and Superbad)and an interesting concept this should have been, at the very least, a great comedy. Sadly, it disappoints. It's only funny in small non-sustained stretches and the comedy potential of a rude, pop culture obsessed alien is mostly wasted. Most of his humor is way to obvious pop culture references (how many tie ins can you you have to E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and blatantly telegraphed. The core story of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost taking a road trip is the most interesting but it often feels as if the film is vacillating between the raunchy comedy of Superbad and the more straight forward storytelling of Adventureland without ever choosing a consistent approach. One second Paul is dropping f-bombs and showing his ass out the window the next he is a selfless life saver with no real character exploration given to explain his random life changes.

Its odd to say - especially based on the Paul centric advertising - but the human story here is far more interesting than anything Paul brings to the table.



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Highlander review

Posted : 6 years, 4 months ago on 13 August 2011 06:25 (A review of Highlander)

This movie reeks of the 80s and not in a good Amadeus kind of way. The special effects are often brutal, the acting is in the alley of an off off off Broadway play quality and the story makes random unexplained leaps. Not of the he's immortal so now he's flashing back to Scotland kind of leaps. More like the let's just shove a girlfriend who's supposed to be the love of his life into this story with absolutely no exposition or she loves him even though she just tried to stab him to death with a knife kind of leaps.

The highlights are the sparky swords (though they only sometimes spark for some reason) and a very brief appearance by Sean Connery doing all kinds of scenery chewing. The core concept is also pretty interesting and some of the set pieces work pretty well but overall the movie feels like the creators just threw cool ideas at a dartboard and kept them even if some of the darts missed the mark by 27 feet. It is recommended if you like campy as hell high fantasy action flicks but if you're looking for anything deeper there might only be one and this is definitely not it.


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The Human Condition I: No Greater Love review

Posted : 6 years, 4 months ago on 9 August 2011 03:37 (A review of The Human Condition I: No Greater Love )

This is an amazing beginning to Kobayashi's trilogy. It follows humanist Kaji's assignment to a Japanese ore mine staffed mostly with Chinese laborers. The story follows Kaji's trials and tribulations as he is put in charge of the "special laborers" (aka Chinese prisoners of war).

Despite the fact that it is only one part of a trilogy the emotions and human experience No Greater Love touches on are sweeping. The film is filled with searing social commentary, highly politicized character battles and more personal dramatic stories. In the hands of a lesser craftsmen the inclusion of all of these story elements would likely leave quite a bit to be desired. At least one story arc would feel inferior or under developed. In the hands of Kobayashi, however, the mixture works beautifully. It helps that Tatsuya Nakadai gives an amazingly emotive performance in the lead role - giving what probably should be a one note character depth.

The film looks beautiful, deftly tells a complex story that touches on everything from the difficult history between the Japanese and Chinese to the complications of war to gender roles to (no matter how hokey it sounds) the power of love all the while serving up some great acting performances. It is three and a half hours long but the tale it tells is so gripping that it is really hard to turn it off or take a break. One of the best wartime dramas I've seen in any language.


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