Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks (2013, Dir. John Lee Hancock)

Saving Mr. Banks Movie Review

While a film about the acquisition of rights and the subsequent adaption of P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins by Disney may seem and sound like an absolute treat, Saving Mr. Banks isn’t at all. Instead, it is cliché-ridden, predictable, and completely dull.

This film follows Travers (Emma Thompson) as she attempts to maintain her serious vision of the magical nanny in the film adaption of her novel. Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has a conflicting vision involving musical numbers, animated dancing penguins, and Dick Van Dyke. Travers has immediate say over everything through a loophole, so they have to find a way to compromise. Quote-unquote HILARITY ensues.

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Movie Review: What’s In A Name? (2012, Dir. Alexandre de La Patellière & Matthieu Delaporte)

What's In A Name? (2012, France) Movie Review

With Christmas fast approaching, many of us are dreading dinner with the family. Most of the time there will be huge smiles and small talk, and everyone will leave without having said anything that’s really on their minds. Sometimes we secretly wish for the cathartic release that would come with spouting everything that you want to say to that one cousin. You know the one.

The comedic French film What’s In A Name? takes this premise and runs with it. The film, at the surface, is about a simple dinner between family and friends. College professor Pierre (Charles Berling) and his teacher wife Élisabeth (Valérie Benguigui) play host to close family friend Claude (Guillaume de Tonquedec), a classic trombonist. Joining them is Élisabeth’s brother Vincent (Patrick Bruel), a brash real estate agent, as well as his wife Anna (Judith El Zein) who is expecting.

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Movie Review: Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013, Dir. Abdellatif Kechiche)

Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013) Movie Review

A problem I have with some coming-of-age films is that they feel far too rushed. In many movies of this genre, the audience does not have enough time to connect with the main character. Instead, they merely are shown that she or he is at an uncomfortable point in their life. We do not see the character’s life before or after, just at that awkward stage, and how it is dealt with.

Blue is the Warmest Color does not have this problem. It delivers three segments, each roughly an hour long, allowing the audience to understand how the main character, Adèle, has changed psychologically and emotionally. To make a film this length was an incredibly risky move by director Abdellatif Kechiche which brought wonderful results. It is an unbelievably intimate film, as Adèle becomes increasingly more nude (figuratively and literally) to the audience, who feel as though they really understand her perspective.

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Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World (2013, Dir. Alan Taylor)

Thor 2

Contrary to common opinion, I found Thor (2011) to be the best entry of the first generation of the Avengers Assemble franchise. None were particularly good, so that may not be too wild of a statement, but Thor did not take itself too seriously. The others did the opposite, seeming to believe that their content needed to be as gritty and dark as possible. Thor was different. It acknowledges its premise is silly, that it is essentially about an unkillable guy with a massive hammer who hits people with said hammer. This made it quite a bit more entertaining than it might have been otherwise.

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Movie Review: Gravity (2013, Dir. Alfonso Cuarón)

Gravity Movie Review 2013

Alfonso Cuarón directs Gravity, which follows Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), a space engineer and an astronaut respectively, who attempt to survive in the most impossible environment possible – space.

Many critics have lauded the film for its technical prowess, all for good reason. Cuarón’s direction is top notch, utilizing some of the greatest and most ambitious CGI ever seen. The director of photography, Emmanuel Lubezki, makes these shots possible, and I believe he will win the Oscar this upcoming year for this film. The first shot of the film is about 17 minutes long, and it is smoooooooooth. The camera changes from an extreme long shot to an extreme close up to a subjective shot to a rolling shot, all within the same take. Is this directorial masturbation like some recent films with great style have been (we’re looking at you, Stoker)? No, this is Cuarón and Lubezki understanding how to use the camera to enhance the film, as opposed to using it for their own indulgence.

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Movie Review: A.C.O.D. (2013, Dir. Stu Zicherman)

A.C.O.D. Movie Review

A.C.O.D. is a comedy flourished with dark touches about Carter (Adam Scott) who, in order to rally family support for his younger brother’s wedding, tempts the delicate peace it has taken him a lifetime to forge between his divorced parents (Richard Jenkins & Catherine O’Hara), who have been living in complete enmity. The stress involved leads him to visit his childhood therapist (Jane Lynch), only to discover that she was not counseling him during his childhood, but researching him for a book about children of divorce – C.O.D.. Carter’s visit leads his therapist to launch a follow-up to her successful book entitling it Adult Children of Divorce.

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Movie Review: Blue Caprice (2013, Dir. Alexandre Moors)

Blue Caprice Movie Review (2013)

It was a scary October in 2002 when random victims in the Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. area were being picked off by an unknown sniper. Were there going to be copy cat killers? How long was this going to continue? How wide was the circle of victims going to spread? Finally, 3 weeks later, the horror came to an end when a father and son were arrested for the random crimes. There wasn’t really a huge media push to find answers. The trial wasn’t really sensationalized as I remember. The whole thing just kind of faded away. I think many people expected the usual, trashy, movie-of-the-week to give an explanation, but nothing came.

At last, Blue Caprice directed by Alexandre Moors has arrived as a movie that profiles the perpetrators John Allen Muhammad and his “son” Lee Boyd Malvo, but captures the events without the cheap thrills and clichés of many other disaster-type films. Instead, we are taken on a meditative journey through the mysterious men behind the shootings.

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Movie Review: Short Term 12 (2013, Dir. Destin Cretton)

Short Term 12 Movie Review

Short Term 12, written and directed by Destin Cretton, is a somber, naturalistic glimpse into the troubled lives of teens in a foster care way station, and the young, wry, sarcastic staff who care for them. It is a world that has given up hope of others understanding it as exposition comes mainly through the orientation of new employee-cum-surrogate audience Nate (Rami Malek) – naïve with good intentions, but not ready for this environment.

At first, it may seem like we are in a bizarre Charlie Brown universe where the “adults” are mumbling forces off-screen, but it becomes clear that this is a slice of these kids’ lives as they are being watched by the 20-somethings, specifically the figure head among them, Grace (Brie Larson).

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Movie Review: Paranoia (2013, Dir. Robert Luketic)

Paranoia (2013) Liam Hemsworth

There’s not much paranoia going on in the new Liam Hemsworth film Paranoia. I guess you’re supposed to be questioning who is lying to whom, but there’s so little happening on screen, it’s hard to invest any feelings at all in this insipid thriller. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another film that needed a RiffTrax accompaniment as badly as Paranoia does.

Adam (Liam Hemsworth) is a brilliant twenty-something working with a group of his friends to come up with ideas for cell phone innovation for the corporation owned by Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman). After a bad mistake, Adam is blackmailed by Wyatt into becoming his spy and getting hired at rival company Eikon, owned by Jock Goddard (Harrison Ford). Soon he is in too deep and realizes not only his life is in danger, but his friends and family as well. Robert Luketic directs, and the film is based on a novel of the same name by Joseph Finder.

Paranoia is just about smartphones. The film attempts to put the weight of life and death on who has a more impressive smartphone. This is only the first of its many, many mistakes.

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Movie Review: Prince Avalanche (2013, Dir. David Gordon Green)

Prince Avalanche, 2013, David Gordon Green

David Gordon Green returns to his austere film making roots with Prince Avalanche seasoned by, I guess, Your Highness and The Sitter. I must say I am very happy he has made a departure from those treasures. Starring Paul Rudd as Alvin and Emile Hirsch as Lance, Prince Avalanche is quite the literal road movie. Set in Texas at the Bastrop State Forest during the summer of 1987 after a devastating wild fire ravaged the area, Alvin and Lance work for the county painting yellow lines on the main road of the park and camping along the way. Alvin is the mature, close to nature, forthright one where Lance is the impatient, anxious-to-get-laid, prodigal of the two. Their almost opposite sensibilities play very humorously off each other with Rudd exhibiting his standard and much appreciated playfulness as Alvin. Hirsch reveals a funny side quite different from the emaciated youth with the weight of the world on his shoulders we saw in Into the Wild.

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