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T.S. Spivet Review


Excellent

As he did in Amelie, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet tells a simple fable with witty visuals, colourful characters and a warm heart. It's an utterly winning story of tenacity that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like an outsider in their own family. Which is pretty much everyone. So even if it feels a bit light and goofy, it has a strong emotional kick.

On a sprawling Montana ranch, 10-year-old TS (Kyle Catlett) couldn't be much different from his twin brother Layton (Jakob Davis). While TS questions the laws of nature, Layton is a boyish cowboy like their dad (Callum Keith Rennie). And their teen sister Gracie (Niamh Wilson) and insect-obsessed mother (Helena Bonham Carter) are just as individualistic. So no one notices when TS enters his perpetual-motion machine into a competition and wins a top accolade from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. But the competition official (Judy Davis) hasn't a clue that TS is only 10, or that he has run away from home to hitchhike cross-country to accept his award.

Based on the Reif Larsen novel, the story has a whiff of the fantastical about it, only occasionally reflecting the real dangers the young and prodigious TS would face on his epic journey. But that's not the point: told through TS's limited perspective, this is a story about discovery. TS may think he's capable of anything a grown-up can do, but there are some very hard truths waiting both on the road and back home. And he's also about to learn that there might actually be some benefits to being a little boy.

Continue reading: T.S. Spivet Review

The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet Trailer


T.S. Spivet is a child prodigy fascinated with the world of cartography and invention and only 10-years-old. He lives in an isolated part of Montana on a ranch with his cowboy-obsessed father and his entomologist mother, as well as his teenage sister Gracie and his twin brother Layton. One day, he receives a telephone call from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. who wish to offer him the prestigious Baird Prize for his latest invention. He wants to accept the award, despite the institute thinking he is an adult scientist, and so he sets out on a journey by himself, intending to catch the next freight train. Meanwhile, however, he is haunted by a dark secret involving Layton, and he must learn to come to terms with past events.

Continue: The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet Trailer

To Rome With Love Review


Good
After Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen remains in a cheery European mode for another breezy comedy tinged with magical realism. This one's actually four separate stories that are very loosely interwoven as people struggle with the unpredictability of romance and fame. And like Midnight in Paris, it shows off Rome in the most beautiful light imaginable.

Baldwin plays an architect who returns to his student stomping grounds and meets Jack (Eisenberg), who seems to be living his old life, even as he falls for a friend (Page) of his girlfriend (Gerwig). Meanwhile, there's Leopoldo (Benigni), a dull businessman who suddenly becomes a celebrity for no reason he can see, is pursued everywhere by the paparazzi and starts to enjoy the high life. Across town, Jerry and Phyllis (Allen and Davis) arrive to meet the fiance (Parenti) of their daughter (Pill). Then Jerry pushes a future in-law (Armiliato) into becoming the latest opera sensation. Finally, a young couple arrives from the country to start a new life in the city, but the husband (Tiberi) ends up having a farcical day out with a sexy prostitute (Cruz) while the wife (Mastronardi) meets her favourite actor (Albanese).

Continue reading: To Rome With Love Review

To Rome With Love Trailer


Woody Allen takes us on a romp around yet another beautiful European city with his latest film To Rome With Love. Set in one of the most beautiful and romantic cites in the world (unsurprisingly) Rome, the film is broken down into four parts and the tale follows the escapades and relationships of holiday makers and local residents alike, each story individually unravels and gives us a glimpse into their -generally complicated & quirky- lives.

Continue: To Rome With Love Trailer

The Break-Up (2006) Review


Grim
In most romantic comedies, some find themselves pining for the two leads to finally put their differences aside and reunite, slow dancing while an overused R&B tune plays in the background and the comic relief best friend tells a last joke. It's a genre that's been done to death, of course, but perfectly enjoyable when all the elements are in alignment. When the elements aren't there, however, the result is fairly ugly. The Break-Up -- a solid argument against real-life couples being allowed to play opposite each other in purportedly romantic films -- spends about five minutes setting up Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston as a couple and then proceeds to fill the rest of its running time with all the reasons why they really should break up; and well before it's over you'll be wishing they'd just call it quits.

Accomplishing the quite difficult task of neutering the normally volcanic presence that is Vaughn and further dampening Aniston's already meek comedic abilities, The Break-Up takes some quite considerable assets and squanders them completely. Vaughn and Aniston play Gary and Brooke, a couple who meet-cute at a Cubs game, are shacked up together in a nice downtown condo before the end of the credits, and are relentlessly bickering and splitting up just a few minutes later. Vaughn plays Gary as a more muted and oafish version of his standard motormouth self -- not a pleasant creation -- which leads one to believe that the film will eventually allow him to use his charm to win back the uptight and angry but still in-love Brooke. The critic's oath precludes this writer from giving away the admittedly surprising (though not necessarily in a good way) ending, but what can be said is that little in this film goes as expected.

Continue reading: The Break-Up (2006) Review

Marie Antoinette Review


Good
The word "soft" summarizes the world of Sofia Coppola, perfectly. Each film she has made has the tenderness, vagueness and, ultimately, the sensibility of a fluffy, white cloud in the middle of a blue sky. With two near-perfect films on her resume, 1999's The Virgin Suicides and 2003's majestic Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola's third film should have been an easy play. Instead, we are given the beguiling Marie Antoinette.

There's the famous Marie-Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst): the one who so insipidly said "Let them eat cake" when learning of the famine and starvation of the French people and the one who had her head cut off and displayed, with ample delight, to the same people she told to eat said cake. Then there's the private Marie Antoinette: the one who was forced into a French marriage (she was Austrian originally) by her brutish mother and who would eventually lose a newborn baby right as her kingdom was crashing down. Coppola seems very confused as to whom she wants to show in Marie Antoinette.

Continue reading: Marie Antoinette Review

Where Angels Fear to Tread Review


Grim
Insanely overwrought British period drama (based on E.M. Forster's first novel) has corset-ready standbys like Rupert Graves, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, and Helen Mirren headed to turn-of-last-century Italy. The story gets off to a promising start as the wealthy Mirren decides to marry an Italian of low status (Guidelli), finding a culture clash that only gets worse with the pronouncement that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, Mirren's character dies during childbirth, launching the movie into its primary plotline -- the war over the child, fought by her family and her no-Ingles husband. Sadly, this plot is melodramatic, incredibly phony, and nearly unwatchable. Unless you've just got a thing for corsets and petticoats, give this one a pass.

Alice (1990) Review


Good
Alice in Wonderland gets a Woody Allen update and makeover in this oddball story of a woman (Mia Farrow) who is stricken with a backache and seeks the advice of a Chinese herbalist/hypnotist, who diagnoses her with emotional problems instead. Soon she's hallucinating, invisibly eavesdropping, communicating with the dead, and otherwise curing herself, all while navigating the waters of her heart. Allen earned a screenwriting nomination, but Farrow is charming in her red hat, and William Hurt is memorable as her straying husband.

Marie Antoinette Review


Good
The word "soft" summarizes the world of Sofia Coppola, perfectly. Each film she has made has the tenderness, vagueness and, ultimately, the sensibility of a fluffy, white cloud in the middle of a blue sky. With two near-perfect films on her resume, 1999's The Virgin Suicides and 2003's majestic Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola's third film should have been an easy play. Instead, we are given the beguiling Marie Antoinette.

There's the famous Marie-Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst): the one who so insipidly said "Let them eat cake" when learning of the famine and starvation of the French people and the one who had her head cut off and displayed, with ample delight, to the same people she told to eat said cake. Then there's the private Marie Antoinette: the one who was forced into a French marriage (she was Austrian originally) by her brutish mother and who would eventually lose a newborn baby right as her kingdom was crashing down. Coppola seems very confused as to whom she wants to show in Marie Antoinette.

Continue reading: Marie Antoinette Review

The Break-Up Review


Grim
In most romantic comedies, some find themselves pining for the two leads to finally put their differences aside and reunite, slow dancing while an overused R&B tune plays in the background and the comic relief best friend tells a last joke. It's a genre that's been done to death, of course, but perfectly enjoyable when all the elements are in alignment. When the elements aren't there, however, the result is fairly ugly. The Break-Up -- a solid argument against real-life couples being allowed to play opposite each other in purportedly romantic films -- spends about five minutes setting up Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston as a couple and then proceeds to fill the rest of its running time with all the reasons why they really should break up; and well before it's over you'll be wishing they'd just call it quits.

Accomplishing the quite difficult task of neutering the normally volcanic presence that is Vaughn and further dampening Aniston's already meek comedic abilities, The Break-Up takes some quite considerable assets and squanders them completely. Vaughn and Aniston play Gary and Brooke, a couple who meet-cute at a Cubs game, are shacked up together in a nice downtown condo before the end of the credits, and are relentlessly bickering and splitting up just a few minutes later. Vaughn plays Gary as a more muted and oafish version of his standard motormouth self -- not a pleasant creation -- which leads one to believe that the film will eventually allow him to use his charm to win back the uptight and angry but still in-love Brooke. The critic's oath precludes this writer from giving away the admittedly surprising (though not necessarily in a good way) ending, but what can be said is that little in this film goes as expected.

Continue reading: The Break-Up Review

Husbands and Wives Review


Good
Woody Allen took a turn toward the exceptionally nasty with this bleak yet strangely compelling look at modern romance. Between Mia Farrow and Judy Davis, it's tough to find two actresses that exude contempt more readily, and there's indeed plenty of shrieking and hitting in the picture, which opens with Davis and husband Sydney Pollack announcing their divorce. A whirlwind series of affairs and acrimony follows, all captured on nausiating shakycam. Lots of hate in this movie, but it's strangely endearing. I'm not quite sure why. It's also worth noting that the film came out immediately after Allen and Farrow split up.

Children Of The Revolution Review


OK
A true oddity, in keeping with Australian cinema. What with F. Murray Abraham as Stalin (yes, the Stalin), who fathers a lovechild in the 1950s with a visiting Australian radical played by Judy Davis, how can you expect anything but weirdness? With early-career appearances by Rachel Griffiths and Geoffrey Rush, Children of the Revolution is remarkable for its sheer ballsiness, but the story is likely a bit too circuitous, self-referential, and unbelievable for most tastes. Ostensibly based on a true story, the sarcasm eventually gets so thick you find you need a mint.

Naked Lunch Review


Unbearable
Quick, off the top of your head, tell me all you know about this movie.

If you recalled fondly the line that Nelson said in an episode of The Simpsons after Bart uses a fake ID to get into this film ("I'll tell you two things wrong with that title"), then you're like most of America. I knew a little bit more coming in: that it was based on a novel by William S. Burroughs that is the quintessence of non-linear narrative and that it was directed by David Cronenberg.

Continue reading: Naked Lunch Review

Where Angels Fear to Tread Review


Grim
Insanely overwrought British period drama (based on E.M. Forster's first novel) has corset-ready standbys like Rupert Graves, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, and Helen Mirren headed to turn-of-last-century Italy. The story gets off to a promising start as the wealthy Mirren decides to marry an Italian of low status (Guidelli), finding a culture clash that only gets worse with the pronouncement that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, Mirren's character dies during childbirth, launching the movie into its primary plotline -- the war over the child, fought by her family and her no-Ingles husband. Sadly, this plot is melodramatic, incredibly phony, and nearly unwatchable. Unless you've just got a thing for corsets and petticoats, give this one a pass.

Absolute Power Review


Terrible
Really lame thriller about the president and the cover-up that ensues when he murders some hot chick. Can't believe William Goldman wrote this crap, or that Eastwood, Hackman, Harris, and Davis bothered to get involved with it either.
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