Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Big screen catch-up

Ever since I got back from Florida I've been swamped in one way or another, so I need to catch up with some big screen titles I haven't reviewed. By now, some of these are on disc or close to it; if that's the case, I will indicate as much.

The Adjustment Bureau: Endearingly silly thriller that becomes less credible the more one thinks about it, but it's actually rather smart about its loopiness - and it works primarily because Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have terrific chemistry. GRADE: B+

Blue Valentine: Searing anti-romance that haunted me for weeks. Features heartbreaking performances by Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling that sum up too many dysfunctional couples. And for me, the film shed a lot of light on that age-old question "How did that (lovely girl) end up with that (douche)?" GRADE: A+ (On disc May 10)

Gnoemo and Juliet: I expected nothing more than a cute kid-pic, and got basically that, but I also got something that was charmingly weird and not afraid to show it. The Elton John song score is quirky to say the least. GRADE: B (On disc May 24)

Hall Pass: A lot of folks slammed the Farrelly brothers' latest comedy, but I found it one of their better efforts in a while. As is the case in their best work, there's plenty of raunch, but the Farrelly's genuine affection for their characters grounds the film - even if the ending does get a bit too manic. GRADE: B

The Illusionist: A beautifully animated bore. I admire the intent in Sylvain Chomet's adaptation of a previously unproduced Jaques Tati story, and I loved the look of the film, but it never engaged or moved me the way most quality animated films do. I grinned once in awhile but rarely laughed. I had a similarly cool reaction to the overrated Triplets of Belleville. Chomet's work is too emotionally distant for my taste. GRADE: C (On disc May 10)

Insidious: The new poltergeist film from the director of the original Saw starts off very well, building suspense effectively, often by using silence. Then as the scares get more literal, the movie gets sillier, especially when one of the demons bears an unfortunate resemblance to Darth Maul. Still, I applaud it for relying more on character and less on blood. GRADE: B-

Rabbit Hole: Some might think this film depressing, and being about coping after the death of a child, it's certainly not a happy film. What makes it stand out is that it's about the distant aftermath of the tragedy, when the wound is not fresh, but the memory still is. Sensitively and thoughtfully rendered all the way around. GRADE: A

Rango: Delightfully quirky animated romp that looks gorgeous, and of all things, most reminds me of Chinatown. A nice return to form for director Gore Verbinksi, whose strength as a director got submerged under all the clatter and clutter of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. GRADE: A

Unknown: As was the case with Taken, Liam Neeson's presence and strong action scenes propel the movie, but if anything the plot is even more far-fetched. Like way too many movies these days, it tries to hard to pull the rug out from under the viewer via third act twists.  GRADE: B-

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