Jim Burke

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Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter Review


Very Good

This smart riff on the Coen brothers' 1996 classic Fargo is is a blend of wonderfully offbeat black comedy and much darker themes involving a central character who seems to be mentally unstable. It's also a strikingly original movie, packed with knowing wit and astute references, as well as a complicated central performance from Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) that borders on the surreal. There's sometimes the feeling that the entire movie is a big joke that we don't quite get, but it's also mesmerising.

The story begins in Japan, where 29-year-old Kumiko (Kikuchi) works as a clone-like tea lady in a big corporation. Except that she refuses to behave like a clone. Rebelling by refusing to settle down with a husband and kids, she indulges in little treasure hunts. On one, she finds a VHS tape of Fargo pointing to a specific moment when a case of cash is buried in the snow. So she contrives to travel to icy Minnesota and find it. Not only is she clearly delusional about the nature of movie fiction, but her obsession has blinded her to the realities of this kind of journey. Quickly becoming stranded in the middle of nowhere, she gets some help from a kindly old woman (Shirley Venard) and a friendly local cop (director David Zellner). But she can't give up on her quest.

Kumiko is a remarkable movie character, so odd and tenacious that she's both worrying and inspiring at the same time. Her embroidered treasure maps are hilariously minimalistic, as is her inventive approach to finding housing and winter-wear. But is she mentally ill, or has she just snapped back against the oppressive demands of her mother and all of Japanese society to be something she has no interest in becoming? Kikuchi cleverly drops all kinds of hints into her alert performance, but never tries to spell everything out for us. This makes Kumiko a remarkably likeable young fugitive, a liar and thief with a deep yearning for life on her own terms.

Continue reading: Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter Review

Jim Burke and Academy Awards Sunday 26th February 2012 84th Annual Academy Awards (Oscars) held at the Kodak Theatre - Arrivals

Jim Burke and Academy Awards

The Descendants Review


Extraordinary
As with Sideways and About Schmidt, Payne finds clever ways to blend sharp comedy and warm drama to create a seriously involving and entertaining film.

And Clooney has never had a role that was quite as emotionally resonant as this.

In sunny Hawaii, Matt (Clooney) has coasted through marriage and parenthood, focussing on his career and managing the estate of his family, which is descended from Hawaiian royalty. But now his wife (Patti Hastie) is in a coma, and he has to take responsibility for his free-spirited daughters, 10-year-old Scottie (Miller) and 17-year-old Alexandra (Woodley). Meanwhile, his cousins want to sell off a gorgeous tract of ancestral land in Kauai. Amid all of this, Matt finds out that his wife isn't going to wake up, and also that she had been having an affair.

Continue reading: The Descendants Review

Jim Taylor, Alexander Payne and Jim Burke - Jim Taylor, Alexander Payne, and Jim Burke Friday 13th January 2012 37th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards held at the InterContinental hotel - Arrivals

Jim Taylor, Alexander Payne and Jim Burke

Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Odeon West End - Jim Burke, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Payne and George Clooney London, England - The BFI London Film Festival: Descendants - Photocall at Odeon West End. Thursday 20th October 2011

Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Odeon West End
Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Odeon West End

Cedar Rapids Review


Excellent
This goofy fish-out-of-water comedy is deeply endearing. As it follows its central character on a clumsy voyage of discovery, we can't help but laugh even as we try not to recognise ourselves in him.

In Brown Valley, Wisconsin, Tim (Helms) is an earnest mid-30s insurance salesman in love with his 7th-grade teacher (Weaver), who's only using him for sex. Oblivious to the moral failings of people around him, Tim heads to an insurance convention in Cedar Rapids, the biggest city he's ever seen. There his worldview is smashed by the outrageous antics of his colleagues, including party boy Dean (Reilly), married but flirty Joan (Heche) and repressed nice guy Ronald (Whitlock), as they all contend with insurance president Orin (Smith) for coveted Two Diamonds status.

Continue reading: Cedar Rapids Review

The Breed (2001) Review


OK
In the near future, vampires exist peacefully alongside man until a renegade group seemingly tries to rebuild a kind of Nazi regime, with bloodsuckers herding humans into concentration camps. This strange WWII allegory is unfortunately neither very successful as a political drama nor as a monster movie; the flashbacks are too obvious, and the buddy cop plot is overwhelmingly impossible to follow. Our cop heroes (Adrian Paul and Bokeen Woodbine: one's human, one's a vampire) jump from suspect to suspect without so much as a word of explanation why. The moody atmosphere (pitch black, everywhere) and illegible computer readouts with dossiers on each character don't help.

The Breed Review


OK
In the near future, vampires exist peacefully alongside man until a renegade group seemingly tries to rebuild a kind of Nazi regime, with bloodsuckers herding humans into concentration camps. This strange WWII allegory is unfortunately neither very successful as a political drama nor as a monster movie; the flashbacks are too obvious, and the buddy cop plot is overwhelmingly impossible to follow. Our cop heroes (Adrian Paul and Bokeen Woodbine: one's human, one's a vampire) jump from suspect to suspect without so much as a word of explanation why. The moody atmosphere (pitch black, everywhere) and illegible computer readouts with dossiers on each character don't help.

Walking Tall (2004) Review


Good
Ironically, Walking Tall runs short. Credits included, the testosterone opera two-fists its way through 77 sweat-soaked minutes, and it's just enough. You won't be hungry for seconds by the time the last baddie hits the floor, but you won't be checking your watch repeatedly, either.

Let's not sugarcoat it. Tall remains a one-note genre picture specifically tailored to its shining star - The Rock. For what it is, though, Tall is quite good. It has fun with its limitations. It boasts strong fight choreography and interesting direction by Kevin Bray, who keeps the spotlight on its charismatic and camera-friendly leading man.

Continue reading: Walking Tall (2004) Review

Jim Burke

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Jim Burke Movies

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter Movie Review

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter Movie Review

This smart riff on the Coen brothers' 1996 classic Fargo is is a blend of...

The Descendants Movie Review

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Cedar Rapids Movie Review

Cedar Rapids Movie Review

This goofy fish-out-of-water comedy is deeply endearing. As it follows its central character on a...

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Walking Tall (2004) Movie Review

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Ironically, Walking Tall runs short. Credits included, the testosterone opera two-fists its way through 77...

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