Monday, April 5, 2010

Irreviews, 2010: Issue VII

Corpse Bride (2005)
Director: Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
Writer(s): John August, Caroline Thompson, Pamela Pettler
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson
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Tim Burton's follow-up to The Nightmare Before Christmas was a long-time coming (12 years or so, in fact), but it was well worth it. Thought not as groundbreaking as its predecessor, neither narrative nor conceptually, Corpse Bride is a more traditional film and is likely to appeal to a wider audience. Funny, witty, and disturbingly cute (or is that cutely disturbing), let's hope Burton knocks more of these types of film out on a more frequent basis.
Verdict: SEE it.

Frost/Nixon (2008)
Director: Ron Howard
Writer(s): Peter Morgan
Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon
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Ron Howard is good at what he does. And what he does is take real (or otherwise plausible) situations and turn them into good dramatic fare. Armed with Peter Morgan's screenplay (based on Morgan's stage play of the same name), Howard gives us a peek into the admirable, controversial, and conniving mind that was Richard Nixon. Surprisingly middle of the road in terms of politics, the film is better for it. Both Frost and Nixon are portrayed as normal people, driving by extraordinary motivations (greed, in this case). Still, the film is nowhere near as good as Howard's best works and is far from great, but it's certainly a good one. Rife with typical "Howard-esque" emotional tugging, it's important to keep in the mind that the film is based on the play and not necessarily on what really happened.
Verdict: SEE it.

Precious (2009)
Director: Lee Daniels
Writer(s): Geoffrey Fletcher, Sapphire (novel)
Starring: Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton
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A hard-hitting fictional memoir into the life of Clareece Precious Johnson. And I do mean hard-hitting. Brutal, in your face, unapologetic. Every moment of hope experienced by the protagonist is taken away by a moment of despair. Though the film ends on somewhat of a high note, this is not a film with a happy ending. Gabourey Sidibe and Mo'Nique are excellent in their roles, and even Mariah Carey knocks out a very good supporting role. There are character moments that seem a little stereotypical, but perhaps that was the point. Overall, a great film. Unlike The Hurt Locker, this one earns its press.
Verdict: SEE it.

Repo Men (2010)
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
Writer(s): Eric Garcia, Garrett Lerner
Starring: Jude Law, Forrest Whitaker, Alice Braga, Liev Schreiber
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Yet another fantastic concept ruined by an unwillingness to diverge from standard Hollywood action formula. Repo Men is supposed to be about an industry centered on recovering artificial organs from recipients who can no longer afford their installment payments. Sounds great, right? It should've been, that's for sure. Instead we wind up with nothing more than a banal action film, replete with inexplicable love story (Hello!!! The protagonist was happily married!!!), and gratuitous plot twist (and a retarded one, at that). The film looks great for the most part, and is very well acted (Liev Schreiber's the highlight), but the whole thing just falls flat on its face. You can repo my kidney if you refund the ticket price.
Verdict: SKIP it.

Sunshine Cleaning (2008)
Director: Christine Jeffs
Writer(s): Megan Holley
Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin
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You ever wonder who cleans up bloody crime scenes? This film answers that question. A dark-ish comedy that revolves around a woman who is having an affair with her now-married high school boyfriend. The high school boyfriend is now a cop. She is a cleaning lady struggling to survive. The cop hooks her up with crime scene cleanup. And, hey, it works as a plot. A subtly funny movie, fairly charming, and very enjoyable (thanks mostly to great performances). There is some unauthentic emotion, as if the writer just wanted to get to the punchline (there's a "CB radio to heaven" motif that is poorly setup and even more poorly executed)
 and the subplot involving the sister and the daughter of a "client" sometimes overpowers the main storyline, but all in all it's worth a watch.
Verdict: SEE it.

4 comments:

  1. nicw. precioua was great. will check out sunshine cleaning.

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  2. I thought Frank Langella did a fabulous job as Nixon, even better than my beloved Sir Tony.

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  3. Haha Brian's had a couple of Merlots I think! I know unfans of Tim Burton accuse him of being samey both with his animations and live action movies but I just love the look of them. Dark and whimsical. Loved the Corpse Bride and the Nightmare Before Christmas, perfect for kids HAHA! And relax about the Hurt Locker already! It's just a film! Ah must watch Sunshine Cleaning, I've come really close to picking it off the shelf.

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  4. do watch sunshine cleaners...it's a good little film--and i'll get around to precious, but it looks so damn depressing.

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