Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World 7/10
Wow, Michael Cera is such a dork. And that makes him perfect for this role. This is a fun and imaginative adaptation of the graphic novel from the director of "Shuan of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz". It's like a guy-chases-girl love triangle romantic comedy with hipster kids, mashed with a Street Fighter type video game, which doesn't sound promising at first, but it works wonderfully thanks to Edgar Wright's apt direction.
Monday, November 29, 2010
A Prophet 8/10
Forget recidivism. "A Prophet" shows us how prison can generate new hardcore criminals, as evidenced by the protagonist Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim in his superb film debut) and his unexpected rise to power within prison. Director Jacques Audiard is in his element, crafting a realistic and chilling look into life within the walls of a French prison where gang-related and racial tensions permeate the facility, rising to a head in a few notable instances which result in a change in the prison hierarchy and Malik's standing within the prison. Malik uses the most of his prison furloughs to do dirty work for Luciani (the in-prison boss, played brilliantly by Niels Arestrup) while also organizing other business for himself. By the time he is set to leave prison, he has positioned himself in such a way that it is easy (and scary) to see that prison might have been the best thing that ever happened to him.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
A hilariously over-the-top campy comic book adaptation. Aaron Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are pretty good in their dorky roles. But Chloe Moretz is awesome as Hit Girl and has some laugh-out-loud one-liners. She steals every scene she's in, complementing or offsetting Nicholas Cage's uneven performance as Big Daddy. The film also serves as an interesting social commentary about our passive, spectator YouTube culture, a satire about the glorification of violence and our modern devolution into a world of social apathy. Perhaps that is why the premise of the film -- real-life superheroes -- is so foreign to the audience at the outset until the extreme violence reminds you to sit back and enjoy: it's just a comic book.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
The White Ribbon 8/10
The White Ribbon is a beautifully shot, deliberately paced film about a small agrarian village in northern Germany just before the first World War. The cinematography appears to be inspired by Ingmar Bergman and Carl Theodor Dreyer. Viewers who look for a literal explanation to the mysterious goings-on in this village will be sorely disappointed. Considering the historical context, the overriding themes in the film, and director Michael Haneke's professed intentions in making the film, one can see how it explores the roots of evil and theorizes that repression and fundamentalism beget extremism, violence, and brutality. These circumstances sowed the seeds for the rise of fascism and totalitarianism in war-torn Europe.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Acid House Kings - Are We Lovers Or Are We Friends?
Swedish indie pop fans, take notice. This is the first new single from the Acid House Kings since 2005. Their new album 'Music Sounds Better with You' (I guess named after the Stardust dance classic?) comes out next March.
Monday, November 08, 2010
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo 7/10
The Girl Who Played With Fire 6/10
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest 6/10
Noomi Rapace is brilliant as Lisbeth Salander. Michael Nyqvist is also quite good as Mikael Blomkvist. Martin Vanger (played by Peter Haber) is chilling in the first film. The rest of the performances are merely adequate, but overall, the films are better than I expected. However, the books are much better. While the Swedish adaptation of the first book is fairly faithful to the text, the second and third take some liberties for the sake of time and feel rather disjointed. Interestingly, the first installment was meant to be a major motion picture release, while the sequels were originally meant to be TV movies only. However, because of the success of "Dragon Tattoo", they decided to make the sequels into feature length films as well. Apparently, there are extended (~180 minute) versions of each film that I am going to have to check out, as these may be a better reflection of the intentions of the director. Anyway, the first film succeeds in every way that the sequels fail: pacing, suspense, and character development. Other than Lisbeth and Blomkvist, the characters are a bit flat in the sequels, particularly in "Played With Fire", which is lacking in sufficient screen time for Lisbeth as the numerous subplots are cursorily dealt with instead. Zalachenko and Niedermann are not very imposing or menacing; they are mere caricatures compared to their presentation in the books. I am afraid to see how they are going to sanitize this for the US remake; good luck on filming the Bjurman scenes. I have a feeling that the books would be more suitable as an HBO miniseries than as three feature films. There is just too much ground to cover in too little time.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
I seem to have missed the news of Ari Up's untimely passing. RIP. Interestingly, John Lydon's was her stepfather, but more importantly, she was frontwoman for The Slits and her influence on punk, ska, and artists as diverse as Courtney Love, Lily Allen, and M.I.A. is underappreciated.
The Slits - Typical Girls (MP3)