February 8, 2009
I was recently told that I had 40 films in my coming soon list which made me think that I better give up my goal to write substantial reviews for all of them. Instead, I am simply going to mention the film, my rating and a one or two sentence summary of my opinion. If I get the chance to see any of the films again, I will make sure that I write a full length review.
Hamlet 2 (2008) ***1/2
Directed by Andrew Fleming
Hamlet 2 is a solidly funny spoof of classroom movies like Dangerous Minds and To Sir with Love. Since I used to do theater, I love any movie that pokes fun at the pretension that often accompanies those who are obsessed with life on the stage. Steve Coogan gives one of the best comic performances of the year. Luke Wilson is inexplicably in the film... and I don't know what he was thinking. His role isn't funny at all.
Labels: 2008, Three and a Half Stars, Comedy
Flight of the Red Balloon (2008) *****
Directed by Hsiao-hsien Hou
A deconstructed, cinema verite reimagining of the classic short French film The Red Balloon, Juliette Binoche is tremendous in this slice of life glimpse into the world of a young boy and his caretakers. Many will be disappointed by its pacing and narrative structure. Yet, once one is able to simply co-exist with the characters, he or she will probably be blown away by the aching reality so brilliantly shown! This is one of the very best films of 2008!
Labels: 2008, Five Stars, Drama, Foreign Film, French
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) ****1/2
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Volume 2 in Tarantino's brilliant Kill Bill series doesn't quite match the novelty, purity and risk of its predecessor. However, the theme of humanity drives this film in fascinating ways. We experience the horrors of a woman buried alive and an eyeball swipped from its socket. Honor, loyalty and discipline take root in a storyline about The Bride suffering through rigorous training from a martial arts master. Finally, an extended sequence shows the stakes The Bride takes on if she does decide to Kill Bill. This last sequence doesn't quite work within a project so immersed in sensationalism. Still, the love of filmmaking comes across loud, clear and bloody once again!
Labels: 2004, Action, Thriller, Four and a Half Stars, Quentin Tarantino Mini-Marathon
The Duchess (2008) ***
Directed by Saul Dibb
Feast your eyes on this silly costume drama starring the actress most at home in costume dramas--Kiera Knightly. She's quite good, as is Ralph Fiennes who plays her cruel husband. The story, unfortunately, comes off like a mediocre daytime soap opera. There's enough that works in The Duchess that might make it worth a viewing on DVD.
Labels: 2008, Drama, Three Stars
Transsiberian (2008) **1/2
Directed by Brad Anderson
Woody Harrelson sucks, while Emily Mortimer shines in this uneven Hitchcockian thriller set on a train running through Russia. If you like your conspiracy tales wrapped in a blanket of snow sprinkled with heavy-handed foreshadowing which doesn't ultimately pay off at all, then Transsiberian's the film for you. Like oil and water, the attempt to blend graphic violence with low-key tension and suspense sadly does not add up to anything palatable. Brad Anderson ought to lock himself in a room and watch every movie Hitchcock ever made. Maybe then he might learn how a film like this one ought to play out.
Labels: 2008, Thriller, Two and a Half Stars