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I Went To Film School - Reviews and Such

Scott Pilgrim, vs the world

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is unlike any movie I've ever seen, and judging from its performance at the box office, it will take a long time for anyone to try anything this insane again. Does it work though? That's a matter of opinion. While I didn't fall in love with it like most people I've talked to, it was still fun and I can still appreciate the originality behind it. Plus, anything that makes me nostalgia that hard has to get some credit.

For some audiences, the movie will feel like a barrage of images that feel video-gamey in nature. Those who actually played the referenced games will realize just how specific some of these little nostalgia bombs actually are. Some are more obvious than others, but at any given time there must be about ten different references happening. The music, the sound effects, the dialogue, and even some of the settings were picked up from somewhere, and my brain was going a mile a minute trying to nail down even half of them.

This is where the movie hit a couple of speed bumps, there's just too much going on. For every ten things happening at once, seven of them might work for me, but three of them will fall flat. This still comes out as a positive ratio, and I realize the movie was supposed to be as over-the-top as possible, but sometimes this wasn't as charming as it wanted to be. It felt a little bit like a kid with ADD trying really hard to impress me. Cute, but a little too much at times.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a giant nerd movie. You don't necessarily have to know the references to enjoy it, but you do require an appreciation of most things geeky. While it didn't win me over as much as I hoped, the film is still visually spectacular and highly original. Since it may be a while since anything like this is ever produced again, do yourself a favor and see it if it even remotely appeals to you. The experience is certainly one of a kind.


Annie Hall

Annie Hall made me wish for a time machine more than almost any other film that isn't part of the Back to the Future franchise. This isn't because I want to live the types of lives the characters live, that would be terrible, but I really want to know what it is like to experience this movie when it was revolutionary. I know it was original and brilliant for the time, but so many of the charming features have been imitated since then that they are part of the mainstream romantic comedy landscape and harder to appreciate.

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton play their parts perfectly, and brought a genuine feel to the characters. Even though I found neither Annie nor Alvy particularly likable, the dialogue and directorial style was interesting enough to hold my attention. There is something incredibly charming about a romantic comedy where no one is perfect, and for every scene that didn't work for me, another quickly followed that I adored.

Allen's style has become his signature, but for the time he made some incredibly brave choices. The fantasy sequences, breaking the fourth wall, and having characters present their own flashbacks are all elements the average film goer wasn't used to, but he managed to make them digestible for nearly any audience. He might stick to a repetitive formula, but Allen's films still have a truthfulness which is still absent from most comedies today.

While I can sincerely appreciate Annie Hall, it certainly isn't a film for everyone. I always enjoy Woody Allen doing his thing, but if his style hard for you to tolerate then this film is practically unbearable. If you enjoy romantic comedies with a slower pace that are more about conversations than falling down, Annie Hall is a breath of fresh air. The film is actually about the characters and conversations, not just awkward situations they find themselves in. No "vibrating panties at a business meeting" jokes here.



After watching Unthinkable, I had to take a couple moments and think about what I just saw. It was a pretty intense experience, and a lot of stuff went down. I was supposed to like it, I mean Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Sheen were on the screen. Plus, I've always been a sucker for movies that predominantly take place in one room. The concept it neat, I like the idea of exploring the moral dilemmas that surround torture. What the hell was missing then? Oh right, anything remotely resembling good writing.

You know those movies where you take a step back and say to yourself "oh... alright", Unthinkable had one of these every few minutes. It wasn't cute in a "I wonder what will happen next" way either. That, I would approve of. Unthinkable was an attempt to make a movie about the shades of grey that exist within an issue that people treat as black or white. The result? Little more than a glorified torture porn which can barely hold the audience's attention because there are no characters worth relating to.

Despite the shortcomings in terms of plot, most of the acting can't be criticized. Carrie-Anne Moss was a little bit annoying, but the rest of the supporting cast fit their roles nicely. Samuel L. Jackson defended his "Lord of the Badasses" title well, and Michael Sheen... I'm not entirely sure why an actor as credible as Michael Sheen was even in this role but at least he pulled it off. Seems a little bit like overkill though, all they needed was a man who could scream convincingly.

Who would enjoy Unthinkable? I'm not even sure. Fans of movies such as Hostel would probably find it too tame, fans of good movies about ethical dilemmas will find it too stupid. You'd think that a movie where Samuel L. Jackson does nothing but torture some guy for an hour and a half would at least have some redeemable qualities, but I would honestly have a hard time recommending this movie to anyone. What wasn't forced was lame, and everything between was pretty much forgettable.


Salt: Interesting Flavor

August 11th 2010 19:04

You know when you get out of a movie and you spend half an hour trying to figure out whether or not you liked it? For me, Salt was that movie. It has much more depth than your traditional action flick, but it was also a lot less fun. Salt is certainly more Bourne than John McCain, but the story was a little lacking for something that took itself so seriously.

Although I can see the plot being a topic of debate among viewers, I admired the decision to do something different. Unlike most action films, this one kept me guessing the whole time, even when I thought I had it all figured out. Even though I didn't think the story was particularly special, I really enjoyed the way it was told. It's a fine line between giving into genre conventions and toying with them, and Salt never made it obvious which one was happening at the time.

Jolie holds her own as an action star, and the supporting cast does a good job without stealing her thunder. The action scenes don't do too much of that "we're going to shake the camera to show you how intense it is" nonsense, and I was able to buy that Jolie was a badass without needing to surf on a jet or anything.

I'll probably see Salt again, and then I'll have a better idea how I feel about it. Far from a must-see, but certainly not terrible, the movie does a great job of being a fresh genre flick. Considering the way this summer has gone for movies so far, a fresh direction, no matter how slight, is a positive thing.


Domino: They All Fall Down

August 10th 2010 15:46

Domino is an interesting film. It certainly isn't a good one, and I'm not sure how an entire film shot like a terrible music video managed to be boring, but at least Keira Knightley's character was pretty cool... most of the time. She was tough and all, but by the end of everything I had absolutely no idea why they chose to make a movie about this girl. The times she did anything interesting were parts that were fabricated to give her story some weight, so why base anything on her at all?

Don't get me wrong, I still think they did a good job of portraying her as a badass, but it never felt like anything worthwhile happened. I kept hoping that the movie was going to build to something I would be invested it, but the entire narrative was told rather than shown, with a wholly unfulfilling end. I could forgive the absence of a good story if the action was good or something, but no aspect of the movie managed to win me over.

The visual style was interesting, but felt annoying and douchy pretty early on. Everything was all over the place, and the entire experience felt like a crack-head was telling random stories about someone he knew for a couple hours. The movie jumped over any details I was becoming interested in, and kept leaving me questioning the character's thought process as much of their motivations seemed without logic.

While I appreciated that Domino tried to be more than a typical action movie, the style couldn't distract me enough to forget how boring the plot was. Scott's other movies may be more superficial, but at least they're still mostly entertaining. This one just feels like a failed experiment.


Suicide Kings

Oh man, did I like Suicide Kings as I was watching it. The premise was awesome, the execution was good, and it felt almost like the movie was made for me... or so I thought. To express my experience as an exaggerated metaphor, this movie was an awesome cross-country road trip to Disneyland, only upon arrival you discover it had burnt to the ground. I'm not sure who the ending was made to please, but it entirely derailed by enjoyment of the film

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The Grifters: I Feel Cheated

August 4th 2010 20:03
The Grifters

I like noiry-type things. If a movie is about a room of chain-smokers getting screwed over by some dame, chances are I'm a fan. While The Grifters has that old school vibe, hell at times I'd even say it felt like a Hitchcock movie, there was something missing. The film is a little slow, the plot entirely uninteresting, and as much as I love John Cusack, he is terribly miscast this time around

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Inception: Oscar for Leo? Dream On

August 4th 2010 01:35

To refer to Inception as hyped-up is an understatement. All of the buzz is fantastic, Leonardo DiCaprio is always a huge draw, and Nolan could have followed up The Dark Knight with an avant-garde film about making a sandwich and people still would have flocked to see it. I'll admit I was super excited for this movie for a really long time, and although it managed to meet my high expectations, some of the talk around the film is a little bit crazy

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District 9

It's always tough seeing a movie like this so much later than everyone else. The Internet has spoiled half of it, and over-hyped the rest, so going in with a "fresh" perspective is almost impossible. Is District 9 one of the better science fiction films to come out in the last few years? Certainly. Is it the best movie of the year? I don't think so

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Man on Wire: Ah, the French

July 28th 2010 17:06
Man on Wire

Man on Wire is one of those documentaries that's so crazy, it feels like it was all made up. Every single odd was stacked heavily against Philippe Petit and his team, but nothing could stop this man from reaching his goal. The movie doesn't focus on the feat itself (tightrope walking between the World Trade Center towers), but the bravery and determination that one needs to muster up in order to make his dreams come true

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