November 25, 2011

Harry Potter (film series) (2001-2011)

Daniel Radcliffe is a poor orphan who goes to magical magic school that you can only get to from an imaginary train station on the London subway. There he meets jailbait Emma Watson but stupidly doesn't do her 'cause he's all upset about his dead parents and instead she shacks up with his best friend. In retribution Harry bones his best friend's little sister. There's also an old good magician that runs the school and evil Ralph Finnes with a missing nose that's the evil magician that killed Harry's parents. For basically movies 2-7 harry runs around looking for "magic trinkets" with Latin sounding names, doing magic stuff like riding brooms and learning potions and spells (also with Latin sounding names) and interacting with an ensemble cast of every known british actor ever (John Hurt, Alan Rickman, Helena 'crazy bitch' Bonham Carter, Kenneth Branagh, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Gary Oldman, Bill Nighy, John Cleese). at the end he finds out that 'a bit of evil' flew off Finnes when he killed Harry's parents and that evil is now in Harry, so in order to defeat him he needs to die himself. so he does, then comes back from the dead to avenge his parents (and himself?) and to find that Finnes destroyed the school and killed a bunch of the cast. Harry defeats him and everyone's happy. The end.

November 13, 2011

Monsters (2010)

Here is something that was filmed for $500k, a budget that’s under even that for an episode of a show on HBO, but that nevertheless manages to create images that one would find in many other big Hollywood productions. That alone, however, is not enough to make a film compelling to watch, which is why I was very pleased to discover a film that goes well beyond conventional sci-fi. It’s part-post-apocalyptic, near-future fare, part-political commentary (those Aliens and the fence keeping them away from the united states are a pretty obvious comment) and part-relationship-drama. Oh, and I didn’t even mention that it works best as a suspense thriller, since the uncertainty of it all (most often not due to the aliens) serves only to make this even more compelling to watch. There really isn’t much out there to compare this to and the closest relatives I can think of are District 9 and Children of Man (and no, this has nothing to do with Blair Witch or Quarantine/REC, despite the obvious parallels, and in fact comparing it to them would be an insult to this movie). It is at once subdued and burning with immediacy, revealing yet obscure, fast paced yet slow-rhythmed, in short, most definitely a must.

The Ides of March (2011)

Another great political drama that aims to ‘expose’ the delicate balance between ideology and the struggle for power, that old Machiavellian idea that has been at the center of politics since forever, but merely admitting its existence might throw a politician into disadvantage brought forth by pulling back the curtain on the political show revealing that ideology is meaningless without power. This is nothing new, but with the great performances from Gosling, Clooney, Hoffman and Giamatti we develop a new-found interest in the matter. Add a little intrigue, controversy and backstabbing and you got yourself a compelling piece of cinema that doesn’t make you feel too guilty for enjoying. definitely worth it.