Monday, December 31, 2012

The 10 Best Movies of 2012

What a year huh? Most years, I feel kind of weird about some of the movies hanging off the end of my top 10, feel that one or two at the bottom don’t completely belong there. This year? I wish I could have 15, 20 top movies. There are tons, and I mean TONS of movies that any other year would be on my top 10 (Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Chronicle, The Grey, Looper) and a bunch of others that would probably be in my top 5 (Seven Psychopaths, Django Unchained, Robot & Frank) that just, for one reason or another, aren’t in my top 10. So please, if something isn’t here, don’t assume I don’t think it’s good. Read my review to get my opinion. So, here they are, my top 10 Best Films of 2012:

With it’s cast and director, Lincoln was always going to be a good, or at least well executed, film, the main question being how good. But, instead of being a drippy Oscar Bait drama, Lincoln takes it completely in the opposite direction. With a darkly comic tone, tight political intrigue and brilliant performances all around, this movie surprised almost everyone. Congratulations Steven, for reminding us why you’re such a big deal.

This is one of those movies where I don’t think a lot of people who see it are going to like it. But if you do like it, you’ll probably love it, because it’s just such a weirdly interesting experience, alienating and compelling at the same time, like Cronenberg’s own Videodrome. If you’d told me a few years ago that Robert Pattinson would be in the best position, post-Twilight, of the cast, I’d have laughed. Funny how that works out sometimes?

Beasts is one of those movies that seems like an impossibility in todays movie industry. Environmental without being preachy, elements of magical realism that don’t overwhelm the plot, accurate representations of the poor that aren’t pitying or fetishizing, this kind of stuff never happens. With a performance from a 6 year old that will go down in movie legends, the best analogy I can make for Beasts is that it’s like a live-action Ghibli movie. And there can be no higher praise.

Oh shut up, I’m allowed one personal pick, aren’t I? And it’s still a brilliant, beautiful movie, everything it should be. Martin Freeman is a brilliant Bilbo, Richard Armitage a note-perfect Thorin, with gorgeous CGI and technical works, and subtle callbacks to the original trilogy, this is in an incredible return to Middle Earth. It’s been far too long.

Speaking of the kind of movies we never get anymore, it’s almost impossible to make a movie about a recent event in history without politics or mythmaking. But this movie, despite being about moviemaking, manages to do it, and still have time for a ridiculously tense final act. Good on Goodman and Arkin for doing so much to carry this movie, and good on Affleck’s continued penance for the previous decade of his career. I wonder if it’s possible to do this trick twice in a year…

Oh, it is. And this one is a much more recent and much more public event, so it’s even more of a miracle. Brilliantly directed and disturbingly dark, with underlying themes of what happens when you hunt monsters and a revelatory performance by Jessica Chastain, this is one of the truly great films on the War on Terror, of which there have been far too few.

One of these things is not like the others… Oh well, great is great. The horror genre is one of the most tiresomely predictable genres out there, but here comes Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard to remind us, it doesn’t need to be that way. If you haven’t seen it, there’s no excuse now, but I’m still not going to tell you what happens. Seriously, this movie is brilliant, so go see it now.

The day Paul Thomas Anderson makes a bad movie is the day I completely despair. Don’t go in expecting a Scientology takedown movie, that’s not what it is. Go in expecting the story of a despicable man, and his tragic friendship with a man trapped in the religion he created, with a insane performance from Joaquin Phoenix my best actor of the year.

In a year of such big films, with big stories and big characters and big action sequences, it seems weird to give such a high spot to such a small movie. But while it’s small and quiet, it’s also brilliant, softly moving and incredibly acted. Wes Anderson has made good movies before, but this is the one that, to me, brought it all together, and will be the movie for him to beat for the rest of his career.

The fact that this movie got made at all, is a surprise. That it got made not as a low budget indie movie, but as a big blockbuster with an all star cast and top of the line special effects, is incredible. But the fact that it works, works brilliantly, beautifully and perfectly, is just plain a miracle. A hauntingly beautiful score, incredible CGI and makeup, directors and actors putting in career best works, and the kind of editing that can and will be taught in film school for years to come, this is easily the best film of the year. And I’m sure, when we’ve all had time to adjust to it, it will eventually stand as one of the best films ever made.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: Dark Shadows

You know, I actually like Tim Burton. I’m not kidding, I think he’s actually pretty good director. He’s got a unique visual aesthetic, a talent for writing interesting characters and a working understanding of story techniques. It’s just…lately there’s something wrong with him. I’m not quite sure what, I don’t know if anyone does, and it’s not 100 percent down (he’s made some good films lately, like Sweeney Todd) but his output has been going steadily downhill since the turn of the millennium. Shit like Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factor and Planet of the Apes, are actively terrible movies, which is distressing from someone who’s not a terrible director. But while Dark Shadows is not bad in the way Alice or Charlie is, it’s just…not very good.

The plot, based on a 1960’s soap opera, is about a 200 year old vampire, imprisoned underground by a jealous former lover who turns out to be a witch. He breaks out in the 1970s to find his old money family has descended into squabbling upper class twits. He arrives and makes it his mission to revive the family’s fortunes, opposed by the witch who is, as it turns out, immortal.

If that sounds like a thin premise, it is, and the movie isn’t doing a hell of a lot with it. It’s got a few funny moments, and a unique visual design (which is nice, as a lot of Tim’s later movies have the same goddamn visual design) but overall, there’s just not a lot to it. It’s a little too focused in on it’s ‘man out of time’ humor, which gets old fast (although I will say, to it’s credit, the 1970’s setting works really well, mostly for music and thematic reasons). It also fumbles it’s character relationships a bit, giving a lot of screentime to the entertaining interplay between the hero and villain, but not as much as to his relationship with his love interest or the kid he becomes a surrogate father to (yes a Tim Burton film includes a character with father issues, what a goddamn surprise), which leads the villainess to be vastly more interesting.

But all of this is ignoring the movie’s biggest flaw: That it’s just fucking boring. And that’s the biggest crime it commits. Sure Depp looks more engaged than he has since Sweeney Todd, most of the cast is game for the material and Burton is working his ass off, but it’s still just…dull. Not particularly funny, not particularly exciting, it’s just boring. So I guess I’m going to cut this review a bit short. I’ve heard Frankenweenie is good, so I guess I’ll see that when it hits DVD, but as for this one? Skip it.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he’d like to remind all of you to go see Ed Wood.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End is a movie I’ve been anticipating all year, for 2 major reasons. Firstly, it’s the first feature directed by Don Coscarelli since 2002’s underwatched Bubba Ho-Tep. Secondly it’s adapted from an excellent novel, that Coscarelli’s directorial style seems to suit rather uniquely. So hopes are high going in.

The result? Pretty damned good. The story is devoted to David Wong (not his real name) living in an Undisclosed town in the midwest. When his best friend John takes a drug called Soy Sauce, he finds he can see creatures from other dimensions and remember things that haven’t happened yet. Soon, all sorts of shit is going tits up and it’s up to David and John to save the world.

As suspected, Don was a great fit for the extremely offbeat material. His direction is one of the best things about this movie, keeping the tone light and funny, even during the occasionally extremely dark happenings in the movie. It’s impressive when the movie manages to be both genuinely funny and genuinely scary, often at the same time. His choice, with the adaptation, is to take a series of some of the more famous moments from the book and adapt them to a slightly different narrative, that follows similar beats to the book while not being a slave to it. It’s a weird choice, but it works surprisingly well, especially since it’s tasked with boiling down a 450+ page book into an 100 minute movie. The dialogue and script, while mostly taken from the book it’s adapting, always manages to fit and never has the feeling that Watchmen had of character’s lines being divorced from their context.

The actors are all solid, which is especially impressive given how many of them are newcomers. The two actors playing Dave and John are both excellent, inhabiting their roles in a unique way. We’ve established before that Paul Giamatti is good in everything, and he proves it again here. Special mention must also go to Clancy Brown, playing Dr. Albert Marconi. He’s playing the character in a highly unique way, completely different from the book, but he sells it really well. And I have to say, as a Phantasm fan, seeing Angus Scrimm (aka the Tall Man) tell someone that he’s fucked over the phone really appeals to me in a weird way.

The movie does have issues though. The first is clearly the middling budget. I don’t know how much this movie cost, but it can’t be much (Don Coscarelli never gets a particularly big budget) and even though there’s very little of it above the line and he uses what he got well, the budget won’t let the effects get all the way there. The second is in the occasionally weird ways it does pay tribute to the book, even when it doesn’t really have time to. Good example, the movie includes the fairly prominent character of Amy Sullivan, but doesn’t really have a hell of a lot to do with her. Her role in the book is primarily concerned with backstory and dialogue, so there’s obviously not a lot they can do with her, but she’s still in the movie, just sort of hanging around. If you’re not a fan of the book, she and her role might seem a little baffling to you.

But those minor problems don’t prevent the movie from being a lot of fun. Right now John Dies at the End is playing On Demand, iTunes and Amazon Instant, and it will be in theaters come January 25th. And while this is a movie with something of a limited audience, I’m still going to highly recommend you check it out. If you’re into horrors, comedies, horror comedies or just any of Don Coscarelli’s previous work (in particular Bubba Ho-Tep or Phantasm) then I recommend it even higher. It’s not completely perfect, but it works surprisingly well and it’s a real blast to watch.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he wonders what they’re going to call the adaptation of the sequel? This Theater is Full of Spiders?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: Django Unchained

Here then is one of the shameful secrets of my film nerd-dom (that’s some weird English right there): I don’t always like Tarantino. Now, don’t get me wrong, I never dislike him (Deathproof being the notable exception for being as boring as tar) but I occasionally have issues with him. But, issues aside, he typically makes movies that are at least good and a couple movies, including his last film, have been actually great.

Based on this and 2009’s Inglourious Basterds, he intends to keep moving backwards in time (anything that keeps him from making his increasingly tiresome references to 70’s movies is good with me, though he still manages to stick one in) but Django Unchained is also a weirdly different breed from his other movies. The plot, or rather the setup, is very straightforward. A slave, the titular Django, is bought by a bounty hunter who needs his help to track down a group of criminals, on the promise of his freedom and the eventual rescue of his wife.

Based on that premise, and the fact that Tarantino is directing, what kind of movie are you expecting? A cheesy, over the top, gory, western, with maybe some spoof elements in place? Well that movie is there, yes, but it’s also occupying the same space as a weirdly sincere attempt to portray slavery as it was, with no sugar coating or excuses. And it’s from this place that the movie seems to get not only all of its weaknesses but a good portion of its strengths. But we’ll talk about that in a moment.

The other place it gets its strengths from is the acting. Jamie Foxx is quite good in the title role, but we knew he was good, and his character is a little too one dimensional for it to really be the best in the movie (he’s playing what amounts to a well written action hero, so he’s going to be a bit straightforward). Christoph Waltz is a little more interesting, but like the lead he’s a little too straightforward to be really Oscar caliber, but he’s still playing it incredibly. No, the real heavy acting is from Leonardo DiCaprio, in a villainous role that he digs into with admirable gusto, bring brilliant nuance to a role that could easily be a one dimensional villain. He's playing a character who thinks he's charismatic and interesting, but is actually just...vile, and the way his character works and acts throughout the second and third act is incredible. Second consideration must also go to Samuel L. Jackson as…well I don’t want to spoil it, but trust me he’s great.

The direction is, naturally, rather excellent, as Tarantino has long been settled into his directorial style and ability. The writing is also good, and the usual issue Tarantino has about all of the characters having the same voice appears to have relaxed slightly. The action sequences, while sparse, are well put together and exciting.

Of course it’s in the movie’s frank and brutal (and therefore accurate) treatment of slavery that it gets a lot of its power. A lot, and I do mean a lot, of Django’s character comes from his reaction to the ridiculously brutal things done to slaves, both his anger and, during his attempts to infiltrate plantations, his attempts to hide his anger. But it’s also where the movie gets it’s only major failing, in it’s occasionally schitzophrenic tone. A lot, and I mean a lot, of the early violence the main characters inflict, is played for laughs, to the point where I at first thought it was going to be a straight ahead comedy for the first half hour. This is all violently at odds with the darker tone of the slavery scenes, and the mood can cause whiplash occasionally.

There’s also some minor issues with the pacing, mostly toward the end, but then pacing and tonal issues are pretty much par for the course, and it doesn’t stop the movie from being excellently made, wildly entertaining and a trip and a half to watch. If you haven’t seen The Hobbit yet, you definitely need to hit this movie up, it’s worth it.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and can he use Lannister as a synonym for incest? Cuz he think Leo’s character was Lannistering his sister.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Worst 5 Movies of 2012

Well it’s actually been a pretty good year for movies. 2012 had some out and out masterpieces and much more than it’s share of good to great movies. But with every year, there must also be some shit involved, and this year had it’s share of that. So, since my top 10 list is still taking shape, here are the 5 worst movies of 2012.

There are going to be a lot of people who object to this being here, as I know a lot of people liked this movie. Well fuck it, I didn’t. I thought it was alternately boring, because half the time NOTHING was happening and irritating because the good character and interesting potential was being squashed. The best I can say for it is that, unlike some other bad superhero movies (Green Lantern, Catwoman) it doesn’t constantly assail you with how terrible it is.

The original may have been ridiculously silly, but it was a working silly. This lifeless, emotionless and boring remake just doesn’t work. It’s also kind of disconcerting seeing Colin Farrel here, given that he’s also in Seven Psychopaths, one of the better movies of the year. Just goes to show, you might have good people involved, but it doesn’t matter for shit if you can’t make it work.

I feel kinda bad giving this spot to a small movie that got a relatively limited release. But hey, I give high spots to those kind of movies all the time, so why not be willing to give a low spot to it. It’s energetic and creative, which is more than I can say for a lot of these movies, but that only highlights how little most of it works. And why wasn’t Tommy Wiseau in it? He’s in their show all the time.

George, George, George. No wonder you gave away Lucasfilm, if this is the kind of movie you’re putting out. I feel bad for the Tuskeegee Airmen, as they deserve a better movie than this, but also for Anthony Hemingway, who has to live with this embarrassing movie on his resume, and as his future feature film. Maybe we could try to give the Airmen another movie in a few years?

Aggressively terrible is the word that I think describes it. You know how I said Spider-Man doesn’t constantly assault you with how terrible it is? Yeah, this does. A constant, unceasing barrage of painfully bad filmmaking that left me empty and depressed. Even weeks later, I can’t summon the anger. Just depression. Congratulations Sandler, you dragged Andy Samberg down with you too. And you'll probably win next year too.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review: Les Miserables

Les Miserables the stage musical, itself an adaptation of a ridiculously huge Victor Hugo novel, is probably the biggest musical there is. Most musicals get by on one, maybe two, showstopper numbers. Les Miserables (hereinafter referred to as Les Mis) has, at last count, 6 (in no particular order: I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, Do You Hear the People Sing, One Day More, Stars and Bring Him Home). That’s a lot of big numbers, and a movie adaptation would need big, grand direction to go with it.

Unfortunately, Tom Hooper is directing, and any issues the movie has are directly related to his flat boring direction. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is definitely worth seeing. The acting is amazing, the costumes and sets spot on (well...most of the sets...) and all of my worries about the singing were way off. There’s a lot of good IN the movie. But I’m sorry, this movie is crying out for huge beautiful direction and it’s just not happening. Just as an example, the first major showstopper is I Dreamed a Dream, an incredibly deep and moving number, which is still probably the most famous number from this musical. In this movie, it is realized…via a 4+ minute close up on Anne Hathaway. I don’t usually offer specific direction advice, but I’m sorry, holding the same shot for 4 fucking minutes cheapens the shot; You save the close up for the end of the song.

The plot? It’s the universe shitting on this one guy every time he tries to be a nice guy, for like 3 hours. That about sums it up, do you really not know this? It’s one of the most famous stories in the world. Jean Valjean is a prisoner, put away for stealing a loaf of bread. When he’s freed and breaks parole, he is hunted by Javert, a borderline psychotic inspector, who will not rest until he’s returned to prison. Oh and there’s a romance and something about a student rebellion. But mostly? Life shitting on Jean Valjean.

If there’s a reason to see this movie, it’s the acting. Anne Hathaway has been getting the most press, and it’s well deserved, she really sells her role as Fantaine. She will be up for Best Supporting Actress come Oscar time, and she can probably win. Hugh Jackman is a close runner up, as he is the tasked with holding up the majority of the movie, absent the director’s assistance, and he does admirably, his Broadway experience shining through. Newcomer Samantha Barks does an excellent job, showing solid acting chops and great singing range. Russel Crowe proved my worries of him being out of his depth when it comes to singing, but he rules the acting part as much as he can, even if he's not giving it his all. And Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are welcome diversions in tertiary roles.

There are other minor issues, aside from the weak direction (seriously Tom, put in some goddamn effort, you are doing LES MIS!) While most of the cast is great, Amanda Seyfried is singing way out of her range and her acting is mostly flat. Also, Eddie Redmayne is disappointingly bland as Marius, but I think that’s more of a problem with the character than him (should have hired Daniel Radcliffe, like I said eh?) Also, the movie seems to want to jump back and forth between dark shots and light shots very quickly, which can hurt the eyes occasionally, but that’s a major nitpick.
I dunno. I feel bad, because it seems like I’m giving this movie a negative review. I’m not, it’s quite engaging and the acting is brilliant. But it’s an adaptation of one of the greatest musicals ever made, so saying it’s just ‘pretty good’ feels odd. It shouldn’t just be pretty good, it should be great, it should be one of the best movies of the year. With a little more directorial flare, this movie could be a modern classic. Instead, it just barely gets above being 'bad.'

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he’s also a little pissed they cut Dog Eat Dog.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Director Reterospective: The Coen Brothers Part 2

Here is the Coen Brothers Part 2:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: Zero Dark Thirty

The title means 12:30 AM in military slang, okay?

Anyway, the word of the title that stands out to me post viewing, is Dark. A film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden could easily be black and white, thrilling tales of heroics, etc. But Zero Dark Thirty opts to go a different route, showing us the horrible things the terrorists do, while still managing to remind us of the dark and morally grey things the government are doing. There are least 2 extended and incredibly brutal interrogation sequences, and they aren’t presented in a heroic Jack Bauer style. They are presented as brutal and dehumanizing, just another tool in the arsenal of the hunters, which includes bribes, intimidation, torture and occasionally murder, as they hunt people who do even worse things.

Aside from all of that morally grey stuff, the movie from 2012 that Zero Dark Thirty reminds me of the most is Argo. It’s a huge, real life story, taking place over several years, but the movie mostly ignores the importance of it’s own subject. It boils the story down to a straightforward procedural, drama, focusing in on a ground level perspective. In the lead up to this movie there was some debate about whether it would be pro-Obama propaganda, but he never once appears in it.

As a straightforward thriller, most of the weight is being carried by the directing and editing, which is extremely solid. Kathryn Bigelow has always been an extremely talented action and thriller director, and all of that is on display here. The sequence that stands out to me is the extended scene at the end, which shows the actual raid on Bin Laden’s safehouse. A lesser film or director might skip over it entirely, or reduce it in scale (especially since the movie had already passed the two hour mark at that point) but Zero Dark Thirty goes in the opposite direction, showcasing the tactics, difficulties and techniques of the SEALs who invaded the building. It’s a bold choice, but it more than pays off.

The weight of the story, the meaning if you will, is in the idea of becoming a monster while seeking them (I believe Nietzsche said something pithy about it), and all of that is embodied by its lead character, Maya played by Jessica Chastain. She’s a character who is obsessed with catching Bin Laden, even more than most people were, and the obsession is slowly consuming her. Chastain is damn near a revelation in the role, bringing subtly to a role that would be hard to play at the best of times, but that she pulls off excellently. There’s also great supporting work, mostly from Mark Strong and Jason Clarke, buoyed by a solid script.

There are nitpicks I can make, but they’re odd issues. Most notable is the semi-weird pacing, that makes it feel that the movie is moving too fast. The movie has a lot of ground to cover, going all the way from 9/11 to the night Bin Laden was killed, and some things feel that they’re getting rushed over. Still, if my biggest complaint about a movie can be boiled down to ‘I don’t think there’s enough of it’ that is a good movie.

Is Zero Dark Thirty accurate to what happened? I tend to doubt it, but it’s not really all that important. This is not the first movie made about the hunt for Bin Laden and I don’t think it will be the last. What you need to know is that it’s an excellent thriller, well made, engaging and really quite tense, even as you know how it has to end. It’s easily one of the best films made on the War on Terror, and a new high watermark for Kathryn Bigelow. I know it’s only playing in Limited Release right now, but the moment it gets to your area, you need to go see it.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he thinks the guy playing Bin Laden could have skipped the weeks he spent preparing for the role, given how much screen time he gets.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

If you’re under the age of say, 17-18, I wonder if you get how big a deal the Lord of the Rings movies were (says he, at the ancient age of 22). But seriously, they were. Fantasy movies had been in the shitter for a while, and most fantasy movies weren’t that good (sorry Krull). What’s more, the two biggest geek movie franchises, Batman and Star Wars, had just lived through Batman and Robin and The Phantom Menace. Then along comes this obscure New Zealand director, best known for offbeat horror films, and turns the most important work of modern fantasy into three of the biggest films ever made. And his financial, critical and eventual Oscar success with his adaptations of books previously thought unfilmable, changed EVERYTHING. It’s easy to say that without them, the geek dominated modern film landscape would not look like it does. Love it or hate it, they changed everything.

The thing is, The Hobbit is quite a different animal from Lord of the Rings. While LotR is a chronicle of Middle Earth’s massive apocalyptic war, Hobbit is a fanciful bedtime story. It would require careful adaptation to get across The Hobbit’s more humorous kid friendly story and tone, while still feeling like it existed in the same universe as the other movies. And look at me dancing around the obvious questions.

Alright, quickly: Is it good? Yes. Is it great? Yes. Is it the best movie of the year? No. Is it as good as Lord of the Rings. But as I said, it’s not really trying to be LotR, and all the better for it, but it also can’t have quite the same impact. Its less the massive game changer LotR was and more a really well played game. In a year with massive geek movies either already here or just around the corner, it feels only right that the king return to remind us why it changed everything.

As for the plot (for those of you who have been under particularly big and sturdy rocks for the last 50 years), Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit living an idyllic life in the Shire, when one day the Wizard Gandalf the Grey comes along and talks him into joining a company of 12 Dwarves on their quest to return to their home, which has been taken over by a particularly nasty dragon.

In order to work three movies out of the material, the movie works all this through and adds in subplots about Bilbo trying to prove himself to the Dwarves (mostly to give him a character arc for the first third of the story), Thorin, the leader and the king of the Mountain they are returning to, disliking Elves despite needing their help multiple times, and most notably, Gandalf and the other members of the White Council (Galadriel, Elrond, Saruman and Radagast the Brown) investigating a possible return of Sauron to Mirkwood. Oh and action scenes. Lots and lots of action scenes.

This is one the things that I find interesting about the adaptation, that it takes literally every opportunity to have an action scene. Escapes, rescues, last stands, even flashbacks, everything leads to action sequences of varying sizes. Some of them are quite elaborate setpieces (including an elaborate chase scene towards the end that will stand as one of the most impressive action sequences of the year, and that’s saying something) but most, albeit not all of them, are embracing The Hobbit’s more kid friendly origins, allowing the scenes to be bigger and less bound by physics.

The story is well put together and paced and the cutoff point is probably the best one we could hope for. The Dwarves are all visually distinct enough that you can generally tell them apart, and it must be said Thorin is fucking BADASS (wait till you see the movie’s reason to call him Oakenshield). All of the actors inhabit their roles well, in particular Martin Freeman, doing a spin on his earlier Arthur Dent character that works perfectly in the role, and reminds more than of Ian Holm’s Bilbo.

As for the technical details, well what do you want me to say? This is the same team that made Lord of the Rings, the movie where they put details inside Theoden’s armor, despite the fact that no one would ever see it. They’re an incredibly talented and dedicated team, in everything from visual design, to CGI to good old weapon and armor making, and it all looks great, as does the cinematography and the incredibly beautiful soundtrack.

There are some nitpicks here and there. The pre-story bit with Ian Holm and Elijah Wood goes a hair too long. The lengths the movie goes to keep us from seeing Smaug the dragon in the flashback to his attack on Erebor gets a tiny bit silly at times (as he’s clearly their big CGI creation for the next movie). And while the design on the Orc who will clearly be serving as the trilogies Big Bad is unique and wicked cool, the design on the Goblin King leaves something to be desired.

But none of that really matters (I had to work to think of those nitpicks dammit). On the way back home from the theater, I was grinning like an idiot the entire way, and I almost never grin. Hearing the Shire theme floating over the title font felt a little bit like coming home, and holy shit is nice to be back. Go see this movie.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he’s a little pissed we didn’t get to see Beorn yet.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Director Retrospective: The Coen Brothers Part 1

With the year winding down and me looking for ways to provide content (only 4 more movies I HAVE to see this year guys, but several others I want to see) I decided to try something new and see if it sticks. The idea: I watch the entire catalogue of a director (in chronological order) and give each movie a little bite size reviews, 3 or 4 movies at a time, and stagger them out over the course of several weeks. So, who else should I kick off this experiment with, but with what I still think are the world’s greatest living directors: The Coen Brothers.