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May 2010

April 2010

Film Review - Death at a Funeral (2010)

DEATH AT A FUNERAL Chris Rock Tracy Morgan

“Death at a Funeral” is a remake that updates the long-forgotten, lost-to-history, somebody-dust-this-one-off-please 2007 film of the same name. A whopping three years have passed since the original Frank Oz motion picture found a modicum of cult success, leaving this update a little too eager to redo what was already rather recently done.

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Film Review - Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky

COCO CHANEL & IGOR STRAVINSKY Still 1

Reviewed at the 2010 Florida Film Festival

“Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky” commences with a moment of sensorial confusion. The picture greets the viewer with a series of kaleidoscopic patterns scored to a roll of orchestral waves, building what appears to be something of an overture to ease the film into a reflective mood, not necessarily a dramatic one. Sensual and lush, the feature has an unusual combination of heavy sexuality and creative obstruction, shaping something that’s not exactly reality, but far from fiction.

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Film Review - I Am Love

I AM LOVE Tilda Swinton

Reviewed at the 2010 Florida Film Festival

Detached acts of tragedy don’t come more excruciatingly glacial than the Italian melodrama “I Am Love.” While the lavish attention to every last detail is valued, the tortoise pace of the picture is difficult to embrace, especially when director Luca Guadagnino seems more invested in his abstract visual fetishes than he is triumphantly communicating a thunderstruck tale of forbidden love. It’s undeniably gorgeous and perhaps the folds of the picture demand a thorough examination through years of study, but enduring the protracted pulse of this film is a grueling effort that doesn’t reward the concentration.

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Film Review - Harry Brown

HARRY BROWN Michael Caine Gun

Reviewed at the 2010 Florida Film Festival

We have the Jason Stathams and Channing Tatums of the screen world, but is there a more menacing image than Michael Caine bearing down on the baddies filled with bloodlust and brandishing a firearm? “Harry Brown” is the actor’s “Death Wish” fantasy, pitting the screen legend against England’s dreaded hoodie generation for control of the community underpasses.

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Film Review - Kick-Ass

KICK-ASS Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl

It’s difficult to tell exactly how “Kick-Ass” considers the comic book/superhero genre. On one hand, there’s a profusion of love offered to the subculture through a series of crafty inside jokes and tributes only a few knowing audience members will understand. On the other hand, “Kick-Ass” is a tone-deaf pantsing of the superman cause, creating an incredible ruckus as it breakdances on hallowed ground, preferring noise over wit when it comes to giving funny books a comprehensive noogie. Only vibrant in spurts, “Kick-Ass” is a distractingly frenzied picture lacking true satiric aim, making the oncoming mess of ultraviolence more bothersome than rousing.

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Film Review - The Joneses

JONESES Family

“The Joneses” contains an impressively timely premise that drills right into the heart of today’s financial crisis. It’s almost too sharp of a script, which is carried a surprising distance by writer/director Derrick Borte before it falls completely apart, but what works here works wonderfully, providing a painfully accurate depiction of materialism run amok.

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Film Review - The Perfect Game

PERFECT GAME Still 1

As much as I wanted “The Perfect Game” to be a fearless Mexican version of “The Bad News Bears,” the picture just wasn’t in a wish-granting mood. More of an inspirational tale compounded with a true story, “Game” is a feature of sheer earnestness, which tends to grate and persuade with equal determination. However, it’s easy to praise the film’s gushing heart, which might be enough to satisfy less demanding audience members in the mood for a few smiles and cheers; a sparkling tale of baseball triumph ideally issued for the first week of the season.

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Monday Links

Skeletor

He-Man had an art show (Under the Influence)
An interview with "Birdemic" director James Nguyen (Adam Corolla Podcast)
Learn everything there is to know about 1980's "The Apple" (Vinnie Rattolle)
"Twin Peaks" is 20 years old (Moviehole)
Norm MacDonald recalls his talk show adventures (AV Club)
Make an amazing R2-D2 cake (Bake at 350)
Got gold? Get cats. (Cats for Gold)
Wil Wheaton recalls the "E.T" Atari Game (Wil Wheaton)
Read abut the Encom press conference for "Tron Legacy" (Jim Hill Media)


Film Review - The Black Waters of Echo's Pond

BLACK WATERS OF ECHO'S POND Avellan Twins

A painfully low-budget horror turkey, “The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond” at least has a corker of a premise: think a satanic version of “Jumanji.” What director Gabriel Bologna actually does with this picture is less devilishly enchanting, punishing the viewer with atrocious acting, formulaic plotting, and ghastly scripting. Cinematic ambition is one thing, but execution is what matters most, and this feature is missing a stimulating directorial imagination to sell what could’ve been something amusingly heinous.

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Film Review - Date Night

DATE NIGHT Tina Fey Steve Carell

Tina Fey and Steve Carell are two extremely formidable comedians, and thank heavens someone, somewhere had the good sense to pair them up for a feature film. While wobbly at times, “Date Night” is a perfectly pleasant, often uproarious action comedy that makes good use of their gifts and their surprising chemistry as an exhausted married couple. Even with Shawn Levy directing, “Date Night” is a consistent delight.

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Film Review - The Runaways

RUNAWAYS band

“The Runaways” opens tight on a drop of menstrual blood. This image can be digested three ways: a sign of oncoming womanhood, a defiant stand of earthy feminism, or a wildly accurate reflection of director Floria Sigismondi’s irritating fixation on details that have little to do with the amazing story of the band in question. Take your pick, as any path will lead to the same conclusion: “The Runaways” is a dim, gutless approximation of the feisty group and their brief bath in the frigid ice waters of fringe celebrity.

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Film Review - Paper Man

PAPER MAN Daniels and Reynolds

Reviewed at the 2010 Florida Film Festival

“Paper Man” has the appearance of a deeply felt, earnest film concerning unfinished emotional business. It literalizes the burden of guilt in strange seriocomic ways, but the film as a whole is a woeful misfire of inexplicable outbursts and overpowering performances. “Paper Man” certainly reaches out for a hug and demands a few tears, but the execution of the film is irritating, making this sensitive picture dishearteningly hopeless and, at least during a few key moments of the feature, seemingly endless.

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Film Review - Don't Let Me Drown

DON'T LET ME DROWN still

Reviewed at the 2010 Florida Film Festival

Working without much of a budget or the comfort of a studio, the New York City drama “Don’t Let Me Drown” manages to pull off one of the most harrowing depictions of a post-9/11 world I’ve seen to date. Using disquieting images of ashes, the anguish of lost loved ones, and the confusion of a wounded city, the film evokes the fragile days that followed the terrorist attacks with heartbreaking, often chilling execution. There’s a love story wedged in here too, but that only gets in the way.

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Film Review - Cleanflix

CLEANFLIX Daniel Thompson

Reviewed at the 2010 Florida Film Festival

Imagine “The Matrix,” with all of its eye-popping violence, sensuality, and salty language giving the material its very identity, as intended by the filmmakers. Now picture “The Matrix” stripped of its coarseness, boiled down to a family-friendly adventure without bite and, for the most part, creative logic. In Utah, a war against sin has been waged for the last decade, pitting Hollywood legal firepower against a hungry Mormon movie nation, clamoring for blockbusters without balls.

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Restaurant Roam - The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios

P1050624

In February, I was coerced into celebrating a dark, impossibly depressing event that I’ve come to anticipate with all the hand-trembling, teeth-grinding joyfulness of tax day: my birthday. Barf. To help digest such a bleak occasion, I made a choice to visit one of my favorite Walt Disney World restaurants, The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s not an establishment known for its killer culinary lavishness, but solely for its spirited ambiance, and on a day like that day, I needed all the simulated enchantment I could seize. To me, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater is a home away from home.

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