Friday, December 31, 2010

Little Miss Sunshine

A- (8.8)

How does it feels to live in a family where everybody is totally f**ked up and you just didn't care because you have won or went into a prestigious event like a beauty pageant. Well it will take a car trip, suffering, wacky situations and failings in it to know the answer. You want to know the shortcut. Watch Little Miss Sunshine.

Little Miss Sunshine is an indie flick from 2006 distributed by the studio which gave us Juno, (500) Days Of Summer and Black Swan. Its focused on a family the Hoovers on the edge of failings and who have already failed. SO they are a family of failures or losers. There's the matriarch Sheryl (Toni Collette) who is overworked and is pro-honesty. Her husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) is a motivational speaker and he want his family to become winners, not losers and more of pro-success. Her brother Frank (Steve Carrell) a Proust scholar who attempted suicide because his lover went for another man. And then there's her kids. Her teenage son Dwayne (Paul Dano) who came from another marriage is silent until he becomes a test pilot and daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin). Richard's dad Edwin (Alan Arkin) is evicted from the retirement home for using heroin. When Olive is selected at the Little Miss Sunshine pageant in California, they take a 500 mile trip with their Volkswagen since they have little money and cannot leave Frank, Dwayne behind. During the trip they face death, disasters and glitches.

Little Miss Sunshine is directed by Jonathon Dayton and Valerie Plume and written by Michael Arndt. Arndt's screenplay seems to have worked because like he wrote for Toy Story 3, it's really dark but at the same time its realistic (well not for Toy Story 3) and holds an honest portrait of one really fractured family and when entering the real world it will hold you back. But it also have heart and compassion and gives us a harsh message. Dreams can't come true.

Greg Kinnear show idiosyncrasy in his character who suffers when he realizes his motivational success program collapses. Alan Arkin is hilarious as the grandfather who supports Olive all the way to the paegaent and Abigail Breslin whose character has little flaws while everyone has troubles steals her scenes and gives us a surprise from what he taught her. Most of the cast are great. This is Carrell's best performance of his career so far and Dano is really wicked as the regularly distant son who like Kinnear suffers when his goals are ruined. Dano's character feels like he's has Aspergers because he is distant from everybody and still he's tightly into his interests. And Collette makes a great impact as the overly supportive mother.

Little Miss Sunshine has a bit of undertone from American Beauty. It's the question of what's beauty and the fact that in Little Miss Sunshine everyone breaks down where conflict, suffering slowly destroys their dreams. More importantly it's more into the insight of these people as the search of the American Dream is wrecked. 

But when the've finally reached the beauty pageant you'll know that it's going to be full of snobby contestants and mothers that once the Hoovers found out, its either enough is enough or let Olive do her own thing. LMS is hilarious where Arkin actually is the majority of the humor and the glitches they've faced is also part of it.

It may goes into the old cliche where you are reaching your dreams the most important thing is the people supporting you, which is your family. But where the Hoovers are really dysfunctional and conflicted it's really understanding and connecting. 

LMS has this somewhat political stance where it's really liberal with Sheryl's pro-honesty stance and conservative with Richard's pro-success beliefs which kinda has let down this movie. but otherwise it is great movie and I recommend to anyone who's dreams are cursed and are pretending to be normal.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lost In Translation (revised)


As much as I thought Lost In Translation was a pretty crafted piece of cinema, I finally come to terms today that this is one of the overrated movies of all time. Given how this is one of the movies in Bill Murray's 'second' career in indie filmmaking (mind you, I've never seen any of his films except for this one) and introduced Scarlett Johansson to every man in the world and opened up their fantasies... before Megan Fox.

Here's a confession. I watched this movie only because she's in it and given how shallow I am when it comes to her films, she's never a great actress and not a good one, what was I thinking?

But given how Sofia Coppola's latest film Somewhere, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and how polarizing it is to the public, when I've first seen the trailer, it has too much familiar territory to this empty box.

Anyway the first thing I know is the story. Murray plays Bob a famous Hollywood actor who goes to Tokyo so he could shoot an ad of Japan's finest whisky. What was that all about? Johansson meanwhile plays Charlotte who's married to a famous photographer also in Tokyo. I learned about travelling. That is you literally get a hard time sleeping. So when both these Americans cannot sleep they escape together and bond over Japanese culture.

I think that the Coppola family is getting way too dispirited with everything that has got to do with movies especially with Hollywood. Nicolas Cage will be cursed if he returns to another studio-based movie, Jason Schwartzman will be forgotten and Coppola shows his displeasure with this movie.

Inspired by her father's experiences with Tokyo, this is a movie you will love, but rather forget. There is absolutely no way that you can actually believe in these characters. They are messed that even though the performances are endearing, the characters are not. If I had met these characters in real life and they later become sullen if they are in an Asian country, I'll tell them get a life!

Murray may have pulled off a performance of a lifetime, but all he does is looked depressed and drink a bit of whisky. Johansson on the other hand plays Charlotte as some loner who is too afraid of going into a freakin' temple she then start crying. Also I don't get how her ass in the first shot of the film is there. I swear to god that it does nothing to do with her emotional status. That shot never has any kind of symbolism.

Independent filmmaking shows a bleak and grim portrait of our lives in the early 2000s. But what I'd like about it is that it shows great depth and honesty. Honesty is one of Hollywood's most cursed words. Films like Being John Malkovich, The Royal Teneumbums and Memento are some examples. I would give credit to Coppola who gives a beautifully crafted and experimental direction to this movie with its gritty photography and such.

But it seems that Coppola wants to show us a message and it's way too puzzling to tell because there is but it's almost vague like the title itself. Are Americans racist? Are we too depressed to be given attention? Or is Coppola too depressed to be given attention that she had made this movie for nothing?

The flaw that had made this movie less appealing is less in layer with its screenplay which makes it completely boring. The more boring, the more you feel to that close of watching an overrated movie.

Lost In Translation is a great movie, but not of all time. It may either make you feel good or feel devastated, unfortunately it's rather forgettable.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

DVD Shorts: Inception, Kick Ass, Scott Pilgrim,

Ok, I have reviewed all of these movies titled above. All of them I loved. All of them I've listed in my Best List. But I would keep these reviews short since I have bought and owned all of the DVDs. And some of them have been revised and rating. (These are reviewed in DVD form)


Christopher Nolan's dazzling and multi-layered masterpiece has turned one blockbuster like The Dark Knight the transformation to a work of art. The charisma follows with the rest of the cast including Leonardo Dicaprio, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Ellen Page who extract secrets in a person's subconsciousness and at the last minute changed a very person's life when putting an idea in his subconsciousness. 
 Nolan is not an reincarnation of any cinematic pioneers, but earns a reputation as one of the best filmmakers there is. The screenplay written is the cleverest in story and in concept. Visually stunning Inception is a great movie to own.
 This may look like a tribute to The Matrix where a person goes into another universe, but nevertheless  is very original and may get an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Key Scene: Scene featuring the first dream involves a shootout and a freight train coming in. Good for people who have a surround sound system

Film Rating: 10/10

Extras: DVD contains four featurettes explaining the film's concepts. Shame that I didn't get the Blu Ray

Extras Rating (DVD): 6/10

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Warning_Spoiler Alert!

 Michael Cera plays a new character named Scott Pilgrim which unlike the same people he portrayed, is a slacker to many of his peers especially his band Sex Bo-Omb's drummer Kim Pine (wonderful Allison Pill). When he literally dates the girl of his dreams the hair-changing Ramona Flowers ( a non-stereotype Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he meets her Seven Evil Exes who are out to kick his teeth in unless he obviously and simply defeat them.
 The incredibles visuals involved are the sounds you hear, pop culture references including Seinfeld, bleeping and most importantly all of that are the things you see in a comic book and a video game, tightly held together to make this one movie all thanks to Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz).
 Most of the cast steal their scenes with Kieran Culkin as Scott's gay roomate, Ellen Wong as Scott's pretend-girlfriend and the Evil Exes (with Jason Schwartzman as the final Ex). But the highlight is Wright who empowers this movie to a visual orgy.
 It's a shame that Cera's and Winstead's chemistry was way too short as most of the movie are up close with the repetitive fights.
Scott Pilgrim wasn't great at the box office but will become an instant cult classic years to come.

Key Scene: The second last fight between Scott Pilgrim's band and the second last exes is empowering. Great with High Definition TVs

Film Rating: 8/10

Extras: DVD includes deleted scenes, outtakes, commentaries and galleries. Collector's Edition includes alternate footage, behind the scene footage, music promos and trailers

Extras Rating: 9/10

Kick Ass

Like Scott Pilgrim, Kick Ass was underappreciated from critics and the public alike given how the ultra-violence in this movie was performed by 11-year old Chloe Moretz as a real-life superhero.
 Based on a recent graphic novel from the artist of Wanted, Kick Ass asks the oh-so-old question: How come there's no superheros in real life? It was asked by a comic book geek Dave (Aaron Johnson) and when he experiments a wetsuit and batons as the no powers Kick Ass . He'd finally got the answer: because you get stabbed in the chest.  
 He then realizes that he's not the only one there is with father-daughter duo Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl.
With a completely sharp screenplay that mixes the Tarantino-esque violence with a Coen-styled black comedy and some delightful performances that also see Nicolas Cage not to suck in this. A fanboy called it Kill Bill meets Spiderman. I have to agree.

Key Scene: The final scenes of this movie where Hit Girl and Kick Ass enters the mobster's lair makes it great for HDTV and Surround Sound

Film Rating: 9/10

Extras: Extended Edition contains The Making Of Kick Ass, The Art of Kick Ass and several featurettes including storyboards & designs and commentary.

Extras Rating: 8/10

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top 10 of 2010: Movies of 2010

Let's review 2010. The year was not a bad year for all cinephiles, however it is more of the year where the younger audience never cared about movies and its integrity to entertain. What I'm saying is 2010 is mediocre and superficial. Sure there are some great movies, but the relentless number of sequels, remakes and movies made out of 3D had made this an exhausting period. Yet again many films independently made are still good and might get a spot at the Oscars next year.

But more so when I was in the mood with movies that are really great, many peers at school dismiss my tastes in these kinds of movies. They either watched it and for no reason think it's boring or generally avoid it for the worst movies there is. This is the moral: kids will never respect you when you are doing or playing different whether it's movies, fashion or music. They go for the same mainstream music. After I learnt this lesson, I realize that I shouldn't care about what people are saying to you.

However there were some movies made by Hollywood runned by great filmmakers that had made some movies not just one of the best films of the year, but the greatest of its time. Maybe of all time. There are movies that made me think, that made me enjoy, laugh, cry and more fascinated by their stories.

OK, here's how I would arrange my best movies:

- All movies released in my place (i.e. Australia) should be released in 2010 (so if one movie was initially released in 2009, it would be released in 2010 if it wasin Australia)
- These is my own words
- My reasons on picking these movies are exact.

Oh and before we get into the list here's a review of 2010 in movies:

So let's get into it, shall we?

#10 - Up In The Air*
A lot of the public will either find this a great movie or a movie they have wasted their time on after being bored for 108 minutes about a guy who fires and consult his company for a living while flying around America to earn a million flyer miles along with a mysterious companion and his competitor.
Jason Reitman's film takes a witty and clever insight of employees working their asses off during the economic downturn. When their employment is terminated, they wreck everything in the room.
But you see George Clooney, even if you hate him because of his philosophy of life and his ambitions, playing this character doing things so unbelievable that it makes him believable.

Look Out for: There's a moment where Zach Galifinakis appears breaking down in the most hilarious ways

Great for DVD? Sort of. Deleted scenes and featurettes about the movie including an onlook of Jason Reitman's famous title sequences

#9 - The Town
We've seen this kind of story a million times. But Ben Affleck's The Town about a bunch of robbers who rob banks in the Boston area of Charlestown, is handled with true grit as both actor and director, proving that his last film Gone Baby Gone is no accident.
Crime in Boston is at times hard to combat. And Affleck proves that with some great action sequences including two car chases and a heist but at its heart some compassion and remorse.
This may be a director's film with Affleck the starlight for this flick, but Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall and Pete Postlethwaite had some great things going on.

#8 - The Hurt Locker*
Winning the Oscar (I prefer the Academy Awards as many while the Oscar as for Best Picture) this year, The Hurt Locker deals with a bomb diffuser in the Iraq conflict who's unorthordox methods frustrates his colleagues considering him as reckless.
Jeremy Renner makes a great persona for his character William James who creates a climatic tension between character and story just like it did in Hollywood.
Even if Kathryn Bigelow made me sick with the extreme hand held camera work, it's an important outline of the war today. Pity this arthouse film has to deal with pirates.

Look Out For: When William James is introduced the name of the base he's spearheading has some political issues.

#7 - In The Loop*
Another movie about the war in Iraq. This isn't about soldiers. It's about the stakeholders focusing on the most questioned issue in the early 2000s. The stakeholders: generals, public servants and politicians. All are which are idiots and one of them so acid tongue you would want to applaud him.
Based on the BBC's acclaimed TV series The Thick Of It, In The Loop involves looping your head with the biggest situation in politics whacked up into dry and potty-mouthed humour.
It's a modern update of Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.
But what is more interesting is that these characters fail in spectacular style that is unrelated with the Iraq War.
And what's more interesting is that sadly it might be apparent on Wikileaks.

Look Out For: Many pop culture references including Keira Knightley and Shrek.

#6 - Animal Kingdom
This and Winter's Bone were joint winners at this year's Sundance Film Festival. For some reason they're both considered boring to the public. I  might agree with Winter's Bone given how overrated it is but for Animal Kingdom I don't.
It takes place in Melbourne where a small criminal family runned by matriarch Smurf, played by an excellent Jacki Weaver, is taken down by authorities. And the boy J has to find his place.
Gritty and uptight, it's a psychological exploration of the criminal family, somthing we had never seen before. This is the best Australian movie in years.

Look Out for: Air Supply's "Outta Love" is featured where one of the characters die.

#5 - Toy Story 3
This may not have been a perfect film, but it is flawless and awesome. Even the most cynical could love this movie (except for Armond White). Toy Story 3 is a fun and entertaining animated ride filled with richly animated toys that has lot of heart. At the end of the day this is about being together and willing to belong to someone who would take care of Woody, Buzz and Jessie in a gentle stance.
But there is something that needs to be explained. It's not really the #1 animated movie of all time and also why do so many guys cry.
This is Pixar's best material. It keeps getting better film after film. It also proved to be the best movie trilogy of all time. Take that, Lord Of The Rings!

Look Out for: There's a Totoro toy in one scene which makes this movie cuter.

#4 - Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
By far the most ridiculous story that has a completely niched audience, Edgar Wright's adaptation of Scott Pilgrim is very awesome.
Michael Cera plays a new character he has never played before as the eponymous name who date the girl of her dreams (literally!) and when he does he face seven ex-boyfriends. in this case, seven Evil Exes.
I don't get why the niche audience never saw this coming (maybe because it's released with one gender movies The Expendables and Eat Pray Love), it's visually exciting, and witty that even though it shamelessly borrows from spaghetti westerns, Bollywood musicals, Hong Kong action, comic books and video games it proves something. This is the surrealist state of art in cinema.

Look Out For: When Michael Cera comes in, there's the usage of the Seinfeld theme music.

Great for DVD? Probably. The two disc editon which is the collector's edition has deleted scenes, alternative footage and music promos.

#3 - Kick-Ass
Anyone who criticize this movie for its ultra violence and an 11 year old girl doing it is a prude. That include moralistic, conservative film critics, parents and priests.
This wonderful movie where it ask why there's no superhero in real life, a comic book geek gets that answer when becoming a no-power super is that you get metal plates when doing so.
Of all the comic book movies I've seen, this is a breakout for Chloe Moretz and a strong performance from Nicolas Cage who both play the irony of a generalised daddy-daughter relationship but they're still strong together.
This is a movie never to be taken seriously. It is refreshingly and darkly funny, this movie was considered an abomination.

Look Out For: The name of the weapon Hit Girl wanted for her brithday

Great for DVD? Probably. An extended edition incluedes the Making of Kick Ass

#2 - Inception
Christopher Nolan had brought us great movies including Memento and The Dark Knight. But Nolan's latest epic is Inception, a mind blowing and bending movie about Leonardo Dicaprio's character who's an extractor and go into someone's dreams and steal secrets. But he, along with his crew has to plant an idea to someone that would have influence the lives of that person.
It is visually enhancing as Nolan creates a milestone. This film used a minimal amount of CGI for its main sequences and instead used a range of practical methods for these scenes including a shoot out and a fight sequence done in zero gravity .
Dicaprio has a lot of heart and compassion inside it and he's also melacholy and poignant given how he'd lost his wife at her dream state and had never seen his children since he is accused of his wife's death.
Nolan had been making this movie for ten years and whilest its screenplay is smart, multi-layered and original, it's pretty hard to understand. I really think this is one of my favourites of the year since it does something an average blockbuster had never done. Make the audience think. This is how you can like this movie. If you can't, then you just can't take this movie.
I was disappointed that no one in my school had got the balls to see this mind bender. Inception is one movie you should watch a few times and is great science fiction flick.

Look Out For: When the music plays as a warning that the dream is collapsing, the song Non Je ne regrette Nien is sung by Marion Cottilard who sung that song in the 2007 movie La Vie En Rose for which she recieved an Oscar.

Great DVD? Absolutely. People are anticipating the Blu Ray since it has extra features and goodies including a replica spinning top.

#1 - The Social Network
David Fincher's movie about the largest social gathering on the web (i.e Facebook) has much irony to the website's purpose. The owner, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has made nothing social to his colleagues leading to two seperate lawsuits between the Winklevoss twins suing him for stealing their website and his co-founder Eduardo Saverin for freezing the company's share.
Facebook started because Zuckerberg was dumped by a girl. Is it because he was desperate for social acceptance as he wanted to be in Harvard's finals clubs.
Jesse Einseberg brilliantly executes the contrasting yet reflective persona of the Facebook founder in Fincher's darkly timed epic.
Fincher has brought up a great crew to this movies including Aaron Sorkin (West Wing creator) who fills his screenplay with politics at a bullet speed, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails as the composer and Kevin Spacey who is the executive producer, to bring up a zeigeist defining movie that also defines a generation of Net users.
For the first time since American Beauty, The Social Network is the most talked about movie by both the public and the critics. A strong chance of winning the Oscar, Fincher's movie has poignancy to a person who is not just a billionaire and a creator, but a genius.

Look Out for: Aaron Sorkin makes a cameo as an advertising executive.

Honourable mentions to:
Fantastic Mr. Fox; Shutter Island; Green Zone; Easy A; Robin Hood; Boy; Four Lions; Tron Legacy; The Kids Are All Right; A Single Man; Greenberg

Best Upcoming Movies (Movies I wanted to watch):

1. Black Swan
2. 127 Hours
3. True Grit
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
5. Tintin: The Secrets of The Unicorn.
6. Paul
7. Sucker Punch

And the worst...

Seriously, 2010 hasn't been a great year for movies especially comedies which are getting broader. And the more broader, the less attention younger audiences get to the movies like the ones mentioned above. When Inception asked What is the most resilient parasite? The movies that are made for grabbing cash. Most of these movies I haven't watched yet observed so you would argue how did I made this list. But when the numbers are high, it's apparent that younger audiences are immature and lazy at the cinemas.

#10 The Last Airbender
Was a fan of the TV series that turned into the big screen with nadir results from the direction of M Night. Shylamalan, performances of the cast and the worst 3D visuals.

#9 Eat Pray Love
This chick flick based on the memoirs promoted by Oprah Winfrey would be a waste of your spare two hours. Add in the ten minutes and like a boring traveller's TV show. Julia Roberts who was pretty in the 90s returned as this self-absorbed women who just travel for no apparent reason other than to 'find herself'. Yeah right   

#8 Killers or Life As We Know It
The more rom-coms Katherine Heigl appears, the more society will hate her. Baby jokes and literally killer jokes are so lame.

#7 Marmaduke, Yogi Bear and Cats & Dogs 
There's something I'm uncomfortable with. Talking animals in a live action kids flick. They can't shut up.

#6 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Along with Justin Bieber and Jersey Shore could somebody get rid of this abomination we have in this society?

#5 Sex and the City 2
Another torturous waste of your spare two hours. And twenty minutes.

#4 Vampires Suck
Makes #6 looks better

#3 Resident Evil: Afterlife
Hand me that dog and I will rip it in half - Robert Downey Jr

#2 The Last Song or Dear John
Like #6, Nicholas Sparks is an abomination. Why does he has to be brainwashed by Hannah Montana to write this turkey?

#1 Grown Ups or Cop Out
Grown Ups has to put down everybody in their system while Cop Out just been copped off. Grown Ups was watched by everybody at my school. I resented it because they think it is funny. It's not.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tron: Legacy

B (6.6)

Almost 20 years ago, Disney had produced and created a movie called Tron which has Jeff Bridges as  Kevin Flynn, the head of Encom a video game corporation who coincidently went into a arcade video game and has to survive several programs to get out. The original performed poorly at the Box Office, but recieved a cult following and a Lifetime Achievement Oscar since it was the first studio produced movie to achieve computer generated effects

Now we have Tron Legacy. In this longly awaited sequel and the lastly anticipated films before the calendar year ends, Bridges appear as the same character and has a son named Sam (later played by Garrett Hedlund) who promised the day after he finish work, he and Sam would spend time together at the arcade in 1989. Kevin Flynn goes missing again and his company Encom has to replace him with another CEO. 21 years later SAm is the largest shareholder for the company and when he becomes curious about his father's whereabouts, he goes into the arcade he and Kevin supposedly hang out and ends up into the same arcade game where Kevin is trapped. He finds his Dad who is stuck in his virtual reality from a chracter he had created named Clu (also played by Jeff Bridges). Sam must defeat Clu and escape from the Game Grid.

Tron Legacy has pretty much the same story structure as its predeccesor. A man's trapped in a computer game and trying to escape to reality while surviving battles with other 'programs'. As the original inspired many great science fiction movies such as The Matrix, it's almost predictable to see the main character Sam Flynn to follow that kind of order.

But the visuals are excellent than ever. The lights are brighter. The 3D is built into vividness and the design is almost perfect. The battle sequences featuring several programs riding each other between light cycles. Awesome. The music by electronica duo Daft Punk which mixes its kind of music with such an emotive score. Really cool. Unfortunately all of it isn't perfect. Half of the film isn't entirely in 3D which is a pity given how we could enjoy this when it was eagerly awaited. You might as well take the glasses off when you are currently watching a 2D sequences.

Jeff Bridges coming back from an Oscar winning performance in Crazy Heart is pretty neat as the previous heart from Tron but more powerful as Clu in here. Whilst Bridges may be having a ball with this flick, it rounds out Olivia Wilde, Beau Garrett and Michael Sheen as respective programs. Where the latter's makes the most entertaining character in this flick, the women seems so pointless as they have nothing to do here.

One main element Tron: Legacy lacks is heart. It has almost half of it, where Sam Flynn isn't the person you should think of the most. In fact it's both Sam and Kevin Flynn where there are important. They both have this relationship that is really moving and needing. But to its heart, it feels so wasted. WE just feel that Garrett Hedlund only makes a decent not revelating performance.

But Tron just goes into every cliche there is. Kids will enjoy this movie as your average popcorn flick relying on the special effects, however it fails to balance between the story and its characters where it is more important.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Avatar: My Initial Opinion

B (7.4)

It's been almost a year since Avatar is first released. It is still in cinemas at the moment currently grossing $2 billion at the box office so far the highest grossing movie of all time beating out Titanic. So what hae I've thought about this movie. Well, here's the story.

I've first seen this movie at its first weekend. I didn't know it would be on 3D, so I just went with 2D. Avatar is great, but it's not a movie that I had never fully experienced. It was a sort of an alright movie. Before I saw it, I know it was directed by James Cameron. I know that there are blue people in their and I know for one thing it would be epic. So to me Avatar was just an alright movie.

In here, Sam Worthington plays Jake Scully a paraplegic soldier who's on the ground of the planet Pandora. Here, Earthlings are almosted numbered and the only source they can rely on for survival is the dimwitted named substance Unobtainium. It is hidden beneath the surface of Pandora and since the planet's natives the Na'vi could get harmed and threatened, Scully is turned into one of them which is called an Avatar. For the first time, he could walk and for the first time he experienced love with the Na'vi woman Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). But things get into trouble when the humans destroyed the rest of the Na'vi's nature and environment to excavate the substance and Scully's involved.

The great things about Avatar is let's say this movie, if it was based on cinematic quality, is visually inventive and innovative. It is so stimulating, I mean if you didn't enjoy Avatar as much as everybody you would give a pass card to its setting and its visuals. Greatly directed by James Cameron who after Titanic had set pessimism to his critics on this movie and had set a landmark example on how to bring motion capture to life

There's an allegory to this movie which is based on environmental and social justice. The Na'vi being all kinds of Indigenous people in this world. We're talking Native Americans, Inuit and Aborigines. So what is this. It's that Indigenous people are being upbrought by every national government and are restricted access to rights particular human rights and land rights. I really like that hidden meaning. It has a message that this movie wanted to show.

Unfortunately, Avatar has its flaws. The screenplay for this film is certainly unoriginal. IT's a ripoff from either Dances With Wolves or Pocahontas. You could describe Avatar as Pocahontas with Smurfs. The acting is not focused as it is overwhelmed with the massive CG effects. Despite that, Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana does have some chemistry.

The reason why Avatar is so special is because James Cameron does what it takes to make one grandiose idea into a major epic of a film. Cameron may be the Master of Science Fiction Movies but he doesn't keep balance with the visuals and story, it confuses you whether the effects are important or is the story important.

Avatar is almost a movie franchise. Believe me. It has a huge fan following like Star Trek. It has its own language literally, spawned numerous DVD editions including a Collector's Edition. Unlike movies like Inception, The Matrix, Donnie Darko, Fight Club or Blade Runner, Avatar fit in with everyone no matter what movies you like. No matter how you are. you will like it.

For me, it's just an ok. Saw it once, but I'll never see it again mainly because of its hype. They're addictive and add something special to what movies I like. Avatar just feels too big and I was wondering if Cameron's films like The Terminator or Aliens were better than this.

Believe me. Avatar will never join the ranks as one of the greatest movies of all time. But Avatar will be an unforgetable experience. It introduces a whole new level for the movie theatre.

One reason why I didn't like about Avatar is the 3D. Why would you spend an extra $3 on movies that requires you to watch with glasses capable of watching these movies. Many films work like that, but it seems so edgy and totally ruins the film.

I might be the only guy to feel like this wasn't the movie for me, even though it was fantastic. I believe there might be more people who felt the same.

I also wondered whether Avatar was science fiction or a fantasy movie. The setting makes it look like the setting from Alice In Wonderland. But people still say it's science fiction and I never thought of that since Avatar has less imagination based on scientific thoughts. It never has a kind of philosophy or an idea of what it is.

And James Cameron. I don't know if he's a genius but he makes great movies.

Avatar is a film you could no doubt pay for. But you have to be aware of the story apart from the visuals to enjoy this movie.

Monday, December 6, 2010

In The Loop

B+ (8.0)

Picture this. The biggest news event around is Wikileaks right now. But what if Julian Assange leaked conversations of British minsters and American diplomats discussing about the war in Iraq. Then right now the people would be embarassed if these politicians' talk were displayed to the public like the film In The Loop.

When humans are being animals, it is usually because they are angry. Well meet Malcolm Tucker (Pete Capaldi), England's director of Communications for the Prime Minister. He is a skeleton who spat out profanities if something went wrong.

Tucker has to deal with Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), the Minister for International Development (if there is one) who accidently referred about the war in Iraq during talkback radio. This had America interested with a war-supporting Senator, a narrowed minded Sergeant, a sort-of pacifist public servant and the Assistant Secretary for Diplomacy interested when both Britain and America are going to war. So, Tucker and Foster has to deal the situation with the stakeholders who would await the UN to vote on going into conflict.

This is the modern and updated version of Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or Barry Levinson's Wag The Dog. It is fantastic to see this witty movie look into each the lives of politicians and public servants with the littlest brains dealing with the biggest issue in national security, foreign affairs and anything to do with terrorism.

The characters are much important than the story. IF you can focus on them, you will laugh out loud as these people meet their downfall in spectacular form. From document leaks to a public scandal that is as big as it seems.

By the time you hear Malcolm Tucker dropped the F bomb for at least 6 times a minute, you will start laughing. And you'll know that he wasn't at the right place at the right time. Tucker is so memorable and you know that by the end, he's the hero of this movie. He's the guy you should feel sorry for because he has to be looking after mindless politicians who couldn't even handle war very well.

There is a countless list of pop culture references in the dialogue. From Keira Knightley, Julie Andrews, Gweneth Paltrow, The Omen to Shrek. This is the only thing kids will understand from the movie if they are watching since a massive amount of swearing will break the glass of their ears.

As much pop culture references there are quotes that are most memorable including 'to walk the road of peace, sometimes we have to climb the mountain of conflict' by Simon Foster who doesn't have the balls to say that Britain is at war with Iraq.

Given how the Coen brother's black comedy Burn After Reading look the same way as the dumbest people in public is involved in politics, In The Loop deals with just people involved in Parliament and Congress. And when you're fighting in the 'war' room, it's in Congress and with public servants and interns who swear at you if things unrelated to them piss them off.

The one thing that I wish this film would be better would be that if the characters would go into wacky situations, it would be more funnier since the humor can only rely on the dialogue. Look at all the political comedies like Burn After Reading or Dr. Strangelove. It is really funny because their characters go into situations that are so not really funny until these films come along.

At the end of the day, you will learn that politics can be really messed if you're trying to find a job so important and it's becoming a public servant.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


B+ (8.3)

Working at an amusement park. Not so bad for a summer job though. Or is it?

That's what I thought if you are making an effort at school, don't have much to save which you can use to spend on something you want then get a job that last until you come back to school.

Anyway this is Adventureland probably the most awful theme park you would ever visit.

It is 1987 and James Brennan (Jesse Eisenberg) had just graduated from college. When his plans on travelling to Europe fell short, he decided to get a summer job to save up for the trip. He gets a job in Adventureland where he meets some fellows. When he started work he sees that Adventureland is bankrupt and couldn't give away a giant stuffed panda at the games. He sees Emily (Kristen Stewart), a person working at the same section as he is. He becomes infatuated with her and meets along the way his co workers: the dry Joel (Martin Starr), the promiscious yet sweet Lisa P. (Margerita Leviera) and the good looking yet infideled maintenence employee Cornell (Ryan Reynolds).

As Brennan becomes attracted to Em, she is secretly meeting up with Cornell despite the fact that Cornell has a wife.

Director Greg Mottola, who previously directed Superbad, goes back to his roots and shoots a film based on his actual life working as an employee at an amusement park. Guess what. It is somehow a great teen flick.

The amusement park has familiar territory to high school where different personalities of each teenage employee are explored widely within each character. Like John Hughes, this is where we feel for these characters and understand them. It is clever and yet moving

Parallel and similar to John Hughes' Pretty In Pink, Jesse Eisenberg and Ryan Reynolds fight for Kristen Stewart. Eisenberg plays the nerdy student while Reynolds play the good looking sort-of preppie. It is interesting that the story goes into the love triangle since Eisenberg, Stewart (who doesn't even suck one bit at this movie given how she's famous for Twilight) are the most interesting characters there is. While Ryan Reynolds take in some serious acting (he previously done Van Wilder and terrible rom coms), he doesn't give the fact that you should care about him. But it is nice to see that he doesn't get into that stereotype where the good looking people aren't that arrogant.

There are some nice people from the cast including Martin Starr, and Bill Hader who does most of the comedy for this film.

In fact the one thing you will like about Adventureland is the soundtrack of songs from the 80s. It would connect not just teens but adults because they will be familiar of their youth from that decade such as The Cure, Crowded House and INXS.

The problem of this movie is that there is a pace where the movie becomes so slow it feels so boring and complicated.

Adventureland has a screenplay original even if part of the plot is similar to other teen comedies. But the characters are the most important and takes you back to your youth. But anyway it's adoring, witty and makes Jesse Eisenberg also known as the poor man's Michael Cera just Jesse Eisenberg

Review of Fight Club

A+ (10.0)

Where to begin? Just 10 hours ago, I was watching Fight Club where it was the first time I had watched an R rated movie (just to let you know, this was in Australia and you have to be over 18 to watch). So it was high time that it was the one of the last movies I had bought at the rental store before I moved houses.

David Finch's masterpiece starts off with Edward Norton as the nameless Narrator. He is the voiceover in here where he suffers insomnia, his exhaustion from work and is under the influence of IKEA in his spare time. He also visit social groups where he pretend to suffer from testicular cancer or any other remedy to experience the suffering of victims where he meets Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) who like him go to these groups to feel pain inside victims.

When the dude meets with a soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) they bond together when the Narrator's condo was bombed. Once they did, Tyler seduces him to hang out at a rundown place, form a Fight Club and things spiral out of control for the Narrator. Fighting was a man's sport where seeing people being beaten to a pulp was fun.

Comparing this film to current trends is almost easy. These days we fight when we are drunk and somehow women are joining the fight to be beaten up. Now we are becoming an immoral and dumb society. But Fight Club is a movie not for the faint hearted even it is a classic. It is one of these movies where like A Clockwork Orange or Sin City to show violence as to bring up a point.

Fight Club is a generation-defining movie. It is a psychological thriller handled by Fincher with great grit. It is conceptial at every level with the issues explored. It's Fincher's main style of direction where his subject matter is the main instinct and flair where his movie would work.

Fight Club is based on deception, insomnia, masculinity, betrayal and sacrifice and most importantly... the mind. Even consumerism where there is a lot of product placement for IKEA which was the subject brand.

It's visually entertaining from the opening sequence and to the cinematography. But more importantly the violent elements of the film especially the fight scenes are disgusting at first but then you realise that the violence shows the total anarchy of men who do it to feel like they are real men.

Edward Norton deliver a visceral performance as The Narrator who we would feel for him. We know that he is an insomniac. We know he goes to social groups for a living so he could give sympathy to victims and to feel pain. We know that he is a 'slave' from IKEA because it would represent who he is. HE is someone who defines a zeigiest feeling in every male Xer. His life is changed because of Tyler Durden, who is someone you can become if your dreams had never made an impact towards life. If you want to become desired, you should be anti-social and self destructive like Durden.

Speaking of Durden, this is Brad Pitt's greatest role. Durden is socially irresponsible. He put porn on your movies when you go to the cinema. He pisses on your food. He put fat in your soap. He doesn't care for himself and everybody looks at him as the person they want to be because of his anti-social behaviour, his leadership turning America into fascist wannabes. In the end, you will hate Durden, but at the same time, you want to applaud him.

Shot in every technique that makes this look like a film noir, Fight Club is expansive and witty. It is a commentary of how today, the testoterone of men wants to be in the destruction of society if it rages. It is what men feels if they don't have power or are weak.

The fact that there is a lot of gay overtones, it makes the movie so much edgier and challenging. There's also some humour that is blackly funny if you've listen closely to the dialogue. Even the soundtrack. It is so pretentious and eerie it almost reminds me of the scores Trent Reznor had done for The Social Network

The main highlight of the movie is the final 30 minutes. THe final confrontation between Brad Pitt and Edward Norton is so fusing and the ending is so twisted you'll either realize how unpredictable this movie is or you've just got confused. It moves from one direction to another.

When I look at Fight Club, I kinda wondered whether this movie is so familiar with The Social Network, Fincher's recent material. It is zeigeist, both soundtracks are similar and the characters are also similar, however adds to the fact that David Fincher is Hollwood's most innovative filmmaker.

Fight Club is a bit of mess which is one thing that almost makes this a perfect movie. At the end of the day, Fight Club is a favourite because of the violence, but then you realise that it's about the characters, the opinion of their worlds and the violence that only adds to the appeal.

One of my favourite movies before the end of the millenium

Saturday, December 4, 2010

For Your Consideration, can you stop?!?!

As Awards Season is opening, and the countdown to the Oscars started, movies like The Social Network, The Kids Are All Right, and Inception are getting real awards buzz that await for the Oscars. Critics, bloggers and film freaks would predict movies that would be recognised as the best films of the year. But seriously I hate it.

The problem with Awards Season is that voters and board members of each organisation that hand out movie awards nominate movies we never heard of and/or just focus with at least two movies that are certain to win a Best Picture award especially at the Academy, we skip each award event because of these movies. This was my problem with last year's award season. People were looking at two movies: a $2 billion grossing movie (made from Hollywood) Avatar and a $46 million grossing movie (independent) The Hurt Locker. The Hurt Locker was the champion of this battle ultimately winning Best Picture at the Oscars. (Interesting fact - Hurt Locker was released the same week as Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen. Ironically, Transformers was named Worst Picture). The movies that were recognised but were not part of the close battle was Precious. It was adopted from Oprah and I was wondering whether that the screenplay was almost patronising, it mustn't won the Best Adapted Screenplay which would have been reserved for Up In The Air.

However the biggest problem I have with the season was For Your Consideration.

For Your Consideration is three words made by Hollywood studios to advertise movies in websites, newspapers and magazines and DVDs to convince organisations that give out awards (the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Screen Actors Guild) to nominate their movies which they think is great and they would spents millions of dollars to advertise their movies for the sake of them being submitted for a nomination or two

What causes this. I don't know. Hollywood studios would like to cash in because they have sympathy towards directors, actors and writers who make movies for their studio. If it was a box office or critical success or both, then the studios will likely to show these film again in ads in every entertainment publication for a better chance of having the movies submitted.

FYR is getting really obvious and at the same time oblivious of the conseqences it would have on the studios. If the movies submitted for voting weren't nominated, then they would have to lose $70 to $80 million in advertising revenue. This is going too far

Last year, studios submitted Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen for the Oscars as well as 2012 because they both grossed around $800 million. However both were also critical disasters receiving a 20% and 42% by Rotten Tomatoes respectively. Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen was later honoured for Worst Picture at the Golden Raspberry Awards. It was weird given how it's absurd to see Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich nominated for a Best Director

But there were some movies that were putting great risk of advertising and for that matter was recognised by others. When the Academy announced ten Best Picture nominees, Warner Bros. put in ads for The Hangover. It was a box office hit as well as acclaimed. It wasn't nominated for any Oscars, but won a Golden Globe for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy).

One thing I hated about For Your Consideration is that it doesn't achieve anything for each film unless the films advertised were submitted for voting were then nominated. Studios are so desperate for the recognition they want for the films they've produce, that the more advertising the less chance it has for a spot at the Oscars.

FYC had some movies successful for an Oscar nomination that it became a total loser. For example Martin Scorsese had Harvey Weinstein, the studio owner for The Weinstein Company to advertise his movie Gangs of New York for a bid at the Oscars. It did, received nine nominations and not a single win. It is a pity cos it was a waste of $50 million.

But when Scorsese hit back with The Departed receiving his deserved Oscar for Best Director, there was no marketing with the three worded heading. So he might have learnt his lesson... sort of. He now has Shutter Island in the FYC heading and it is possible that his latest flick has a one in 34 chance of being nominated. If it was marketed for Best Picture then it would belong to The Blind Side slot (the nominee that was nominated for no reason).

This would be a grim story for Toy Story 3 which Disney heads are so desperate to have the film winning Best Picture, it named it the Best reviewed film of the year (with a 99%). This movie would have an impossible chance from winning from any categories nominated except the Best Animated Feature category in which much of Pixar had dominated. No voter would be voting for an animated feature for the prestigious award even if it was the highest grossing animated feature or was part of the greatest trilogy of all time.

I would say that when they (the studios) use FYC, it is because they had wanted to be recognised since the awards season had officially lost their mainstream appeal. Precious, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, and There Will Be Blood were all well known because they were critically acclaimed and when they are popular with the public it's during awards season. Juno had grossed $300 million with a $10 million budget.

Last year, when Avatar became the highest grossing movie of all time it is $2 billion in counting. Now we see Avatar to be the total loser of every awards event with the exception of the Golden Globes while The Hurt Locker wins big.

Now if I guess, if a movie became so big based on word of mouth or box office hit they are likely to get pwned by the voters. This was what happened with Brokeback Mountain which had lost to Crash for Best Picture in 2005. Many people claimed that homophobia was a factor of it winning, but I believed that Brokeback focused too much on its FYC that it lost.

FYC is also a way of manipulating the voting process. It is a form of propaganda to convince voters to nominate their movies. It's like an political election where your movie campaigns to be recognised. These can be the movies that are produced for the stupid. If my theory is correct, I would expect Grown Ups to be campaigned for Best Picture and Best Ensemble.

It is the greed of studio heads to cash in so their movies can be recognised. Movies are not nominated if a movie was bad or if the movie was great. Unfortunately studio owners as well as the members of the Academy are the stupidest people on Hollywood for decision making on toast.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Top 10 of 2010: Music of 2010

2010 might have been the year where many genres including hip-hop, rock, alternative had gone into underground mode. You have to listen to Linkin Park, Muse, Vampire Weekend, Alicia Keys, etc. in niche radio stations. Because of RnB and stupid electronica in where it is the same cliche in every song. Getting the girl and these songs' never actually contain lyrics. If you listen to Usher's OMG or Cheryl Cole's 3 Words they're just a bunch of pick-up lines piled up to make a song. Not only that, our tastes in music is getting dissed because of one thing... teenagers. THey just want to hear Bieber (and yes boys listen to Bieber to get some pick-up lines from 'Baby') and at times will panic if they hear a guitar riff.

Anyway let's see what is the best songs of 2010. It's really hard to decide but you get the feeling:

10. Gorillaz - On Melacholy Hill

'Up on melacholy hill in a plastic tree/are you here with me?'. Well that's the starting point of Gorillaz, who's concept album Plastic Beach is a wonderful piece to listen. It had been six years since the cartoon band had released some material. But after their success from their song Feel Good Inc., they decide to go experimental with their recent album. If you have bought the album, you'll know the message Gorillaz's trying to deliver. An environmental message about our shores? Close. Beside Melacholy Hill works because of its catchy riff and trippy melodies.

9. LCD Soundsystem - I Can Change

LCD Soundsystem is the survivor of electronica now vague from DJs such as Duck Sauce and Yolanda Be Cool. LCD Soundsystem's album This is Happening might be their very last material they would recored. But their album may have been better. Instead of going into loud beats and one word lyrics, they go into electronic melodies with a deep concept about substance abuse and deep partying. I Can Change is one track I like since it could be darker and deeper with drinking and how its dysfuctions towards relationships.

8. Angus and Julia Stone - Big Jet Plane

Mesmerising and chilly. Two words I wanted to describe about this song. Honestly, Australian music had gone rusty and downgraded. Never had been played on radios since. But this radio-friendly song is almost had us want to ride on a jet plane and want to experience our youth and come back to our home. Gonna take you for a ride on a Big Jet Plane is one lyric way unforgettable and open our imaginations of the skies. Funny and yet weirdly this would have been the song for George Clooney's travel flick Up In The Air.

7. Florence & The Machine - Cosmic Love

The first person I have been fascinated about this year. Florence and The Machine is a powerhouse vocalist adored by the public as the 'next Kate Bush'. Her debut album Lungs was a powerful piece featuring a cover version of "You've got the Love" (was a top 10 hit in Australia) and "Dog Days Are Over". But Cosmic Love is more bellowing with its maleviolent language and issues. If Jeff Buckley had fooled men with lovers, then Florence And The Machine may be it for the girls.

6. My Chemical Romance - Na Na Na Na Na Na 

For My Chemical Romance, emo was a trend that had themselves to blame for the suicides of teenage girls (Well only one person died). In Danger Days (The Lives Of The Killjoys... I think?), Na Na Na Na just goes on as a Green Day-lite anthem that kinda upliftingly worked. One of the prime examples of bands leaving their roots out, Romance's anthem actually tells the background of the Killjoys, the band's persona which was the main concept. If this was their American Idiot, this song may be their... well, American Idiot.

5. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

The Suburbs is one album of 2010 that I've been addicted to. Arcade Fire had become the biggest bands in the world... literally. Given how there were 6 members in the band. Arcade Fire is an orchestra, would be Canada's answer to Radiohead. The Suburbs is a concept album about the life in the streets (the surburbs) and since it contains great ambition, it makes this a better album that many mainstream fans can access. The title track has a great opening with its dark yet cheerful tone disguised in the track that is so witty.

4. Cee Lo Green - F**k You!

To me, this is the antithesis of many songs from Bruno Mars, Jason Derulo and especially Justin Bieber. If I meet Bieber on the street, I would tell them to f**k himselves. If people tell me that I listen to my music too much, I would tell them to f**k themselves. But if they hate this song, then go f**k yourself as well. This song has wit. It has a story. And like Kanye West's Gold Digger it shows how women are so misleading these days. If you had enough of voice enhanced songs with pick-up lines then this song is for you.

3. Muse - Exogenesis: Symphony

How I could I hate Muse? It's impossible I wouldn't (yes, I would forgive them for making the theme song for Twilight). What I like about them is that they takes risks like Radiohead. Exogenesis: Symphony to me is like the first song to act as a true orchestra and Bellamy's vocals had turned this into a real concerto. It's like the soundtrack to a grand science fiction epic. The massive highlight from their album The Resistance, it's likely that these rockers would topple U2 and become one of the biggest bands in the world now.

2. Kanye West - Runaway

West would have us speechless with this song. To everyone this might be the true apology for interrupting Taylor Swift's moment. Runaway begins with a chilling piano riff that has West looking down to himself of his behaviour and to people who are the same as him. It is a very progressive song and yet very moving.

Runaway was accompanied with a 35 minute video that may get a chance for the Oscar for Best Short Film. Beautifully directed by Kanye West himself this song is one of the main highlights of his latest masterpiece My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Runaway is almost a mixture of Late Registration at the beginning and at the end it's 808s & Heartbreak. The song has a story. A persona had expressed regret for destroying a relationship because of his antics. It is self-critical because the lyrics expressed remorse of West's antics at the MTV Awards. Runaway is a blueprint and more importantly it makes hip hop turned into an art form.

To say that Kanye West is a genius would be an exagerration. But we know that he moved on from the incident and his latest album Twisted Fantasy would let us focus on only his music. IF you wouldn't forgive him, here's a line: Let's have a toast to the douche bags/let's have a toast for the assholes
1. Vampire Weekend - Cousins

2010 started off with Vampire Weekend's second album Contra. Released on January 11th, it started off with Cousins, a song so catchy over two minutes and fast paced, it had hipsters dancing... before Bieber crashed. Cousins feels like a song worth celebrating with its continuous guitar riff and drum solo.

Contra feels and kinda looked like an audio equivalent of a Woody Allen film (more specifically Vicky Cristina Barcelona). I can tell. But Cousins has lyrics so smart, so catchy and energetic, it is more catchier than a Black Eyed Peas song. The song deals with being a hipster. Weekend would assume them as cousins. The persona is greatly defined. From Interest in colours I'd discovered myself/ If your art life is gritty you'll be toasting my health to You can turn your bitter back on the bitter world.

If you have a revolt with hipsters, think again. Believe me. Hipsters have brought us the greater things that make us feel good. Movies like (500) Days Of Summer put a smile on my face and this is one of those indie songs that gives us great energy and had us back to our youth. I feel happy when hipsters are around. If Vampire Weekend makes you angry you might have had a hangover.

If these songs are appropriate to you, it doesn't matter. These are my favourite songs and most of these songs have in common. And this is my theory. Since we're all tired from Bieber and such, these kinds of music are the rebellion against the meaninglessness of our self-obssessed, ignorant society. 

But what is your favourite music of 2010. Let's discuss

PS- you might not know this people