ParaNorman (2012)

Nice throwback-style poster.

Nice throwback-style poster.

Directed by: Sam Fell and Chris Butler (haven’t seen any of their other movies, though I am interested in Fell’s Flushed Away)

Written by: Chris Butler wrote screenplay based upon Arianne Sutner and Stephen Stone’s story

Starring: the vocal talents of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman and others.

What it’s about: a young boy who can speak to the dead needs to save the townspeople from the spirit of a recently awakened witch

Movie Mash Up: The Sixth SenseThe GooniesScooby-Doo

What I liked: It is not often that I will actually hail the message of a film, but in this case the anti-bullying stance and accepting everyone for who they are is one that needs to be championed.  The film is absolutely gorgeous, and I hope to see more stop-motion animation movies in the future.  Now that 3D printers have been invented, it certainly streamlines the process.  The movie is dark, but fun.  The vocal cast is great throughout, and there are numerous little fun scenes throughout which showed off the sense of humour of the filmmakers.

What I disliked: Nothing in general, though I wasn’t really a fan of the big gay reveal at the end.  It really didn’t add anything to the character, and people trumpeting it as the “first openly gay character in a children’s animated movie”, well, there were absolutely no indications of him being gay until he said that he was.  It wasn’t a plot point, it was used as a cheap shock joke.  True, before that he was just another character in the movie, treated the same as everyone else which is in line with the film’s message.  I just felt it wasn’t necessary for the character or the movie at all.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is a fun movie for people of all ages, though I would avoid showing it to younger children.

Rating: 4/ 5

Best Animated Feature Oscar Rankings: 1. Wreck-It Ralph 2. ParaNorman 3. Brave

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

Someone make this alarm clock NOW

Argo (2012)

Cookie-cutter poster design here.

Cookie-cutter poster design here.

Directed by: Ben Affleck (I enjoyed The Town, but I found Gone Baby Gone to be better)

Written by: The screenplay was written by Chris Terrio, based off of “The Master of Disguise” by Antonio J. Mendez and “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman (WHAT A NAME.  BEARman)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Tate Donovan, Clea DuVall, Victor Garber and so many more.

What it’s about: based on true events that took place during the Iran Hostage Crisis, involving a CIA plan to use a fake movie shoot to rescue some hostages

B-Movie Alternate Title:

Movie Mash Up: Three KingsUnited 93 (minus all the horrific tragedy) + Munich

What I liked: I enjoyed about 90% of the movie (see below, but beware, slight vague spoiler).  Great acting, great “real life” story.  I don’t think Alan Arkin deserved a Supporting Actor nomination for his performance.  It was good, but not even on the level of his previous win for Little Miss Sunshine.  Bryan Cranston was great, Affleck was great but understated great, if that makes sense.  FINALLY, someone found a way to capture Clea DuVall in a way that didn’t make you feel weird for thinking she was attractive (unless I’m the only one?).  I liked the movie a lot in general, though I really can’t think of a time that I’ll re-watch it.

What I disliked: Almost the entire ending sequence.  I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, so SPOILER ALERT I guess.  The little things that kept taking time at the end kept piling up and I’m not sure if Affleck just wanted to push it as much as he could until the audience laughed in frustration or what.  I know there’s a lot of creative licence with “Based on a True Story” movies, but after that I had to do the research and it annoyed me so there.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, though it may move at too slow of a pace for some audiences.  I would preface my recommendation with that.

Rating: 4/ 5

Best Picture Nomination Rankings (so far): 1. Django Unchained 2. Argo

Ben Affleck IS Hart Bochner!

Ben Affleck IS Hart Bochner!

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

I’m a big fan of alternate posters

Completely by accident, I found out that this movie was being re-released in 3D in theatres today!

Directed by: Pete Docter (I like this movie, but Up is definitely his best film so far), and co-directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3and David Silverman (director of The Simpsons Movie)

Written by: Andrew Stanton and Daniel Gerson, based off a story by Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon and Ralph Eggleston

Starring: the vocal talents of John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Bonnie Hunt, Bob Peterson, Frank Oz, Laraine Newman and John Ratzenberger.

What it’s about: an animated tale of two worlds where monsters need to scare human children for an energy source

B-Movie Alternate Title: The Monsters in Your Closet

What I liked: It’s a Pixar movie, so I’m already pre-disposed to liking it.  Big fan of the creativity involved in making up all the various monsters, and in creating that alternate world that is similar to ours, but monster-centric.  John Goodman did a great job with his performance, as did the late James Coburn.  Oh and Steve Buscemi was perfectly cast as well.

What I disliked: This is probably my least favourite non-Cars Pixar movie.  It is hard to identify exactly why that is.  For some reason, the story just doesn’t resonate with me as much as most other Pixar movies do.  It isn’t quotable, and I am not a big fan of Billy Crystal.  Maybe that’s why it rates low with me: so much Billy Crystal.  It just doesn’t feel as polished of a work as most other Pixar movies do.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is a decent Pixar movie and a heartwarming tale for kids and adults alike.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

Sully signals for the GTS

Sully signals for the GTS

The Campaign (2012)

Directed by: Jay Roach (not a particularly great director, and while I did enjoy Mystery, Alaska and Dinner for Schmucks, his best movie is still his first, the first Austin Powers movie)

Written by: Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Brian Cox, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Dylan McDermott, Sarah Baker, Katherine LaNasa and many cameo appearances.

What it’s about: an incumbent congressman suddenly finds himself in for an election fight when a surprise candidate emerges

B-Movie Alternate Title: War in North Carolina!

Movie Mash Up: The American PresidentThe Other Guys – anything really funny or charming in either of those movies… I might have to selectively choose the movies I apply this category to

What I liked: Not a lot, that’s for sure.  There are some brief moments of funny, and all told, I didn’t hate the movie.  It is fairly inoffensive, other than some strong language which is just lazy writing.

What I disliked: There are a number of great actors in this movie, but other than Zach Galifianakis, everyone appears to just be phoning it in.  Even Brian Cox!  It’s a lazy movie, with jokes that are so easy and on-the-nose that at best it is boring and inoffensive.  Looking at the critical reaction to the film, I am surprised that it was so positively received since it is not particularly inventive or interesting or even featuring something “must-see”.  It is instantly forgettable.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: I dunno, I guess if you like Will Ferrell, go for it.  I never intend on watching it again.

Rating: 2 / 5

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

I promise you that I do still watch new movies and that I can still write new reviews, and that I don’t think everything is a 5-star movie.  Sometimes you just wanna watch something that you haven’t seen in years, and luckily I have a review already written that still applies.  And here it is:

This is going to be one of those reviews where the outcome is fairly obvious from the get-go. I’m a pretty big fan of the Coen brothers, as they always seem to make their movies because they love them, not just because they’re a hot property or shocking real life event. In fact, one of the tag lines behind Fargo was that it was Based on Actual Events, when in reality, it was just another one of those kooky Coen brothers ideas. Or an amalgamation of two previous crimes, whatever. Anyways, the Coens went so far as to say that they’d never read “The Odyssey” written centuries ago by Homer, when the whole movie is basically a modern retelling of that tale. Kind of like 10 Things I Hate About You, only with much less high school. And an Odyssey that they go on.

Besides the fact that O Brother is a gorgeous looking movie, it also boasts an engaging plot that pulls the viewer along. This wouldn’t be possible if the characters going on the journey were unlikable smart alecks. Thankfully, George Clooney infuses Everett with every bit of buffoonish charm that he’s been storing up since leaving “Roseanne” years and years ago. Clooney plays Everett as the leader of the trio of prison escapees, though I’d say it’s more by lack of smarts in both Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and Pete (John Turturro) rather than Everett being a born leader.

Delmar is a wonderfully naive fellow, while Pete plays the part of the cynical one. Both are remarkably winning despite having to play second fiddle to Everett for most of the movie. They do get their moments to shine in the sun though, have no fear. The rest of the cast reads like a Coen brothers Hall of Fame: John Goodman, Holly Hunter, Charles Durning, etc. All of them know what they’re getting into with the Coens, and know exactly how to play their parts. Bah, this whole review is just going to be saying how much I love this movie, so we’ll skip to my only minor quibble.

What is the time frame for this film? At the beginning of the movie, Everett mentions that they have four days to retrieve the treasure before it’s under a lake. Yet, once the Soggy Bottom Boys single takes off, it’s in stores THE NEXT DAY!? Then other customers come in and ask for it, and so on. Yet by the end of the movie, Everett and the boys make their way just in time to the place where the treasure was supposed to be. Plus, the pacing of the movie, what with the occasional montages and such, would seem to indicate that the whole journey took two weeks or so.

That’s just something that bugs me in hindsight about the movie. While I’m watching it though, I’m loving every minute of it. From Pete’s womanly screams when they encounter the hot Sirens, to Delmar’s hilarious frog assumption. Mostly though, it’s all about enjoying Clooney while he’s up there, acting like an idiot, purely for the love of the Coen brothers movies, and to prove that he’s a far better actor than he’s ever been credited for. Although I guess he did win an Oscar that one year for Syriana. Anyways, everyone should watch this movie and love it.

5 / 5

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

I’m not going to sugar-coat this one: movies like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close make me want to not watch movies anymore.  It’s such a transparently obvious Oscar-bait film that it enrages and frustrates me no end.  There are great stories to be told, and remarkably inventive ways to tell them, even ones that touch on such tragic events as 9/11, but this is not the way to tell them.  For further examples of this, see Remember Me.  Actually, don’t.  Movies that use 9/11 as a tragic plot device should not be allowed to be made, let alone seen.

I don’t have anything else to say about this movie, other than I hated the child actor Thomas Horn so much by the end of the movie that I wish something terrible would happen to him by the end.  His performance was remarkably grating and terrifically annoying, which is odd because director Stephen Daldry got such an amazing performance out of Jamie Bell at a young age in Billy Elliot.  Massive dislike for this movie.

1 / 5

Red State (2011)

I just watched Red State and I’m trying to muddle through exactly how I feel about the film, and I’m finding myself conflicted by how I feel about Kevin Smith.  Maybe conflicted isn’t the right word.  Maybe disappointed is.  I think he may actually be regressing as a filmmaker, or just has lost touch or something.  Perhaps there’s such a thing as TOO MUCH social media interactivity.  I don’t know, I don’t want to be a “hater” or whatever.  Chasing Amy is still one of my all time favourite movies, and my growing discontent with Smith has been bubbling since, I dunno, probably Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.  I had to unfollow him on Twitter because dude, just stop, yes you’re verbose, you love semantics, etc. just shut up.  Hell, I want to cut this short because it could just turn into bullet points of “I am disappoint”.  Dude was one of my favourite writers and directors, he made me interested in learning more about film and kinda made me think anyone could do it.  And he keeps doing it.

I don’t want to see another View Askewniverse movie.  I want to see Kevin Smith succeed, despite his own excess of personality.  I don’t need to see Jay or Silent Bob doing the same thing over and over again until they’re both pushing 50.  I want to see Smith grow as a filmmaker, I really do.  Cop Out was a slightly charming mess (still trying to figure out how I came to own it), but Red State, man, I was turned off of seeing it by Smith’s screening commentary on Twitter (sample paraphrased Tweet: “Oh I’m not spoiling anything but cats in the audience just reacted huge to that reveal about 56 minutes in”).  Yeah, Kevin, it is “nasty-ass”.  Congratulations, you had me worried you were treading into Hostel territory, thinking you had finally just given up or something and wanted to combine your love of porn with torture.

It is a grim fucking movie.  I’m trying to find something positive to say about it, but… it’s a complete departure from your typical Kevin Smith movie.  However, thanks to Kevin Smith talking incessantly about it, pretty much most of the intrigue about the movie is ruined for those that pay attention to Kevin Smith, and for the mainstream audience, it’s not that accessible either because as we’ve all learned, the mainstream audience isn’t interested in Kevin Smith movies.  Visually, it’s nothing that has ever been seen in one of his movies, and there are some good performances in it, just in regrettable roles.

I post these write-ups on the Internet, and I’m kinda terrified that this one is actually going to be noticed.  Feel free to attack my writing and such, I just don’t put a lot into these write-ups usually, and this one got away from me a bit.

2 / 5