Monthly Archives: April 2012
Contraband was a pretty decent crime flick based on an original film called Reykjavik-Rotterdam (an Iceland-Germany-Netherlands co-production). Pacing was good, and overall it had a gritty feel to it. The details surrounding smuggling through the Panama Canal seemed well researched. This is a solid rental movie for anyone who like crime stories with a bit of action. Excellent performance by an ensemble cast.
In The Land of Blood & Honey, directed by Angelina Jolie, is a pretty grim story about the sexual enslavement of women during the Bosnian war. Anyone who remembers the conflict knows it was pretty horrifying, and led to the worst use of ethnic cleansing since World War II. Jolie doesn’t hold back on the details, which can be pretty disturbing at times. But the film features actors from the region, and uses a Bosnian / Croat language track, giving it a real sense of authenticity. There’s nothing “Hollywood” about this production. Some critics complained that it’s far too bleak, and while it’s difficult to like a movie that deals with topics like genocide, I thought it was extremely well done.
M:I Ghost Protocol is the fourth film in the franchise, and by that point, most franchises have become a near-parody of themselves. Not this time. I would go as far as saying this is the BEST movie of the series, mostly because of a fantastic support cast. Recruiting both Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner to suit up with an aging Tom Cruise was a genius move, and it pays off. This was a great movie.
Shame, on the other hand, has mixed results. It’s a well-shot piece of work, with a deep sense of place, but the story itself has a few frayed edges. It got a lot of press mostly because of Michael Fassbender’s full frontal scenes, but these are actually pretty tame compared to European standards. Another case of the North American press getting itself in a tizzy after seeing a penis. I think there’s actually a lot going on in the subtext of this movie, and I found that conversations about it with customers actually revealed much more than I realized was there. It’s very much for the art-house crowd, and even though I think reactions will be mixed, it’s worth a watch.
Although I enjoyed The Iron Lady, especially Meryl Streep’s performance, I couldn’t help thinking there was something missing. The film seemed to dwell for an unusually long time on Thatcher’s later years, when she struggled with dementia, and using flashbacks to her “power” years. I would have liked to have seen a bit more info on her rise to politics.
The Divide was a relatively unknown movie with a cast of character actors and unknowns. It was compelling in the same was as a car accident. You slow down to check it out, but brace yourself for the unpleasantness that’s sure to follow. A movie about survivors of a nuclear war who turn on each other in unimaginable ways doesn’t exactly scream “Disney”. It was bleak, and didn’t have much good to say about humanity. I think that’s why I liked it. I’d never watch it again, but it was pretty riveting.
War Horse was a great historical film. I was a little wary of it because I had seen a few preview clips involving the use of horses in battle (not real big on seeing animals hurt in film). However, in the context of the story, the scenes were well done and not gratuitous. The story is very old-world, hearkening back to the golden age of Hollywood lore.
We Bought a Zoo was another surprise. I’m a fan of Cameron Crowe’s work anyway, but this was a bit of a departure for him. Essentially, it is a family film, but neither as vapid nor maudlin as so many other kid-friendly movies that come down the pipe these days. Kids should love it, and I suspect lots of parents will also enjoy the story.
Toast is a hidden gem. A coming-of-age story set in 1960’s Britain, it’s a quirky and clever comedy with a mix of popular and unknown actors. Anyone who loves film-festival movies should find this one to be a treat.