Archive for the “Camera 7” Category

2010

January 16, 2011
Camera Cinema Club
Spain / Mexico
Spanish / Wolof / Cantonese
147 Minutes (though seems longer)
Drama
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu [Amores Perros; 21 Grams; Babel]

Even Javier Bardem’s broad shoulders can’t carry the weight of this much hopelessness. Within the first five minutes of this feels like three hour “epic”, Bardem is given a cancerous death sentence, communicates with the dead, pisses blood, and attempts a reconnection with his bi-polar mess of an ex-wife. Who’s an abusive mother. And ex-drunk. And sleeping with his brother. Oh yeah, and he has two small children to care for and his only job apparently is picking up a couple of bucks from grieving families who need closure, and his “business ventures.”

In true Inarritu fashion, there are interconnected lives, though not to the degree of his past three major films. In this case the three story lines are Bardem’s dying, a sweatshop full of Chinese illegal immigrants who make knock-off purses in sweatshop conditions, and the Senegalese men who sell those purses illegally (along with some drugs) on the streets. Bardem pays off the crooked cops, argues with the Chinese about quality-control, and befriends the Senegalese sellers and warns them off the drug sales.

Bardem does all of this with the deep, soulful eyes, he’s famous for. He may have smiled twice during the film’s running time. Everywhere he turns, the world is against him, someone is taking advantage of someone, and he feels is. Or at least we’re supposed to think he feels it. Although the Chinese workers are locked in a freezing basement at night, we are led to believe that Bardem’s character, Uxbal wants to treat them better. Even though only one of the workers has any lines–his babysitter–Uxbal’s face tells us that he really, really cares about the plight of the immigrant workforce, both from Africa and Asia. Unfortunately, the screenplay affords us only two members of this downtrodden lot who we will recognize. The rest serve as background noise to the “immigrant experience” in Barcelona.

Bardem’s burden is so heavy that when one of his Senegalese sellers is deported, he feels responsible enough to look after the man’s wife and small child. When his ex-wife engages in behavior that would cause most of us to cut ties to her, he gives her another chance. When he hears of the poor conditions of the Chinese workers, he tries to do the right thing in a telegraphed tragedy–no good deed goes unpunished.

There’s not getting around the fact that the sheer shape of Bardem’s face can keep an audience’s interest for more than two hours. In fact, upon further review, his mopey face may be the only reason to recommend this film at all. It is two hours of sadness, dressed up in fancy colors and quick edits and showy focus tricks.

Bardem’s mopeyness doesn’t even stop when he meets his brother at a strip club where, no joke, the dancers have a single huge breast where there heads should be.

7.6 IMDB
5.3 Metacritic

BIUTIFUL

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2010

December 20, 2010
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
115 Minutes — December 17, 2010
Biography / Drama / Sport
David O. Russell [Spanking The Monkey; Flirting With Disaster; Three Kings]

Mark Wahlberg; Christian Bale; Amy Adams; Melissa Leo.

Disappointingly traditional sports story about two brothers from Lowell, MA who enjoyed different levels of glory as professional boxers. Wahlberg plays Micky Ward, who is younger brother to Dicky (Christian Bale), who remains a big-shot in Lowell because he once held his own in the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard. In that fight, Leonard fell down, and the town continues to argue over whether it was a knock down or simply a slip. Either way, Dicky is chummy with the whole working-class town, especially with a group of crackheads he spends time with. Micky has looked up to Dicky (yes, the names are annoying) his entire life and is hard at work training for his shot at the title. Dicky acts as trainer, but with a crack habit like his, he isn’t exactly the most punctual worker.

Micky excuses Dicky over and over again, until a fight in Atlantic City when the original opponent of Micky’s is unable to fight. He reluctantly agrees to fight a man fresh from prison, who outweighs him by 25 pounds. Micky’s clock gets cleaned. Meanwhile, their not-exactly-classy mother, Alice, played by Melissa Leo, acts as a sort of manager to Micky. She is fiercely protective of her two sons. She is also protective of her seven daughters. She and Dicky often speak of the importance of family even as that same family is keeping Micky from any real success.

Micky spots Charlene (Amy Adams) in a local bar, where her cleavage and famous rear end are two of the main attractions. She is feisty and smart and holds her own against the drunks in the bar. Micky is instantly smitten (as was I).

Will Dicky drag Micky down? Will Micky turn his back on the family? Will all seven of his sisters hate Charlene for making their brother happy? Will Alice smoke another pack of cigarettes? Will Micky get his shot at the title?

Do you really have to ask?

Wahlberg plays Micky as a timid, though buffed, brother who seems to love the shadow of his hyper-verbal older brother. We never get a real feeling for why he wants to box. It doesn’t seem to give him any joy. His scenes with Adams are pretty good, but when she sticks up for him, it sure seems like he’s substituted one mouthpiece (Dicky) for another (Charlene).

Amy Adams is adorable. She attended some college before dropping out due to partying too much. She was an elite high jumper, but now works in a bar. She’s one of those movie constructs where a hot woman makes a man the best he can be, even if she needs force him to go against everything he knows.

Melissa Leo is just this side of a caricature. If she wasn’t such an acting stud (see FROZEN RIVER or HOMICIDE), it would be laughable. She’s all tight skirts, a poofed up hairstyle, animal prints, and potty mouth. Why she continues to worship the ground her crackhead son walks on is never explained. Unfortunately, each one of the sisters is there to make the audience feel superior. They appear to be real women from around the way in Lowell. Each sister’s hairstyle requires more Final Net than the last. Each accent is stronger than the last. Each pair of white Reeboks and acid-washed jeans and half-shirts is more stereotypical than the last. The film takes place in 1993 and some allowance can be made for their fashion sense. But oh, the hair. My goodness.

The sisters immediately hate Charlene because she’s been to college and has engaged in, you know, book learnin’. There is no group of sisters so ridiculous. When they all cram onto a sofa for a family meeting, it’s like a rouge’s gallery of the rejects from a Whitesnake video. Whitesnake, incidentally, is the music played when Micky enters the boxing arena. Here I Go Again, indeed.

The entire film would have crumbled under it’s own seriousness if not for the performance of Christian Bale. He’s already rightly famous for the lengths he goes to physically in changing his body to fit the role. Here, he needs to be crackhead skinny, but not only that. He also needs to look strung out, yet energetic. He needs to be lanky and unwashed, but ready to spar in a boxing ring. His eyes are hollow and he’s got the accent down. He also made me tear up several times. He is all bravado and self-delusion. A camera crew from HBO is following him around–he says to film his comeback, they say to film stories about crack addiction. I believed that he was HNIC in Lowell. He is charming enough for people to look the other way at his drug habit, a fact that hurts him obviously more than it helps him.

The boxing scenes were pretty good. There aren’t many ways to film fight scenes that hasn’t already been tried, but this film finds a way. All of the action that takes place inside an arena is filmed on video, like we’re watching the HBO tapes. It really was effective. I forgot once in awhile that I was watching a movie and wondered why Adams and Bale were in Atlantic City watching a fight. Wahlberg is passable as a boxer, I suppose. We don’t really see that much boxing, though.

The announcers are the real team from HBO and Michael Buffer does the intros. I’m not sure if they used the actual transcripts, but this is the kind of film where an announcer will say “Micky’s finished, someone should stop this thing” exactly when Micky finally lands a punch that hobbles his opponent. Perhaps to someone new to boxing films, the things done in this one will be spectacular and riveting, but I was tired of hearing “he’s getting killed” and “this unknown is taking way too much punishment”.

Good use of locations. Exciting editing and pretty great use of music. That is, when it wasn’t hitting us over the head. “Back In The Saddle” by Aerosmith is played, when not one, but two characters are shown “back” where they belong. This film had the surprising inclusion of the greatest bass drum song of all time, “Good Times, Bad Times.” I’d always heard that Zeppelin was too expensive to license (see ALMOST FAMOUS).

I’m a sucker for sports movies. I inevitably tear up a little when our hero’s dreams are fulfilled (“Rudy, Rudy, Rudy”; “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky”; “Hey Dad, Wanna Have Catch?”) and this one was no exception. And Bale is remarkable. I hope he’s remembered during awards season. The rest of the film, is way too paint-by-numbers to be anything above the ordinary.

8.5 IMDB
7.8 Metacritic

THE FIGHTER

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2009

June 14, 2009
Camera Cinema Club
USA / UK
English
98 Minutes — June 26, 2009
Comedy / Drama / Romance
Sam Mendes [American Beauty; Road To Perdition; Jarhead; Revolutionary Road]

5.7 Metacritic
7.8 IMDB

Away We Go @ Amazon

AWAY WE GO

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2009

June 3, 2009
Campbell CA — Camera 7 — 3D
USA
English
96 Minutes — May 29, 2009
Animation / Action / Adventure / Comedy / Family
Pete Doctor [Toy Story; Toy Story 2; Monsters, Inc.; WALL-E] & Bob Peterson [Finding Nemo; Ratatouille]

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UP is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 72. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:
• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 UP Discussion
• Break
• 20:31 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 21:23 The Last Five®
• Break
• 49:49 Listener Feedback/Eli Stone discussion
• 1:00:34 Credits and Outtakes

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**** Ebert
**** Phillips
A Schwarzbaum
8.8 Metacritic
9.0 IMDB #15 All Time (ha!)

Up @ Amazon

UP

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2009

May 6, 2009
Campbell CA — Camera 7
Mexico / USA
Spanish
96 Minutes
Crime / Drama / Thriller
Cary Fukunaga

The Greatest Sin Of All Is Risking Nothing.

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SIN NOMBRE is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 70. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:
• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 SIN NOMBRE Discussion
• Break
• 19:09 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 20:08 The Last Five®
• 1:04:59 Credits and Outtake

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**** Ebert
***^ Berardinelli
B- Gleiberman
B- Tobias
** Phillips
7.7 Metacritic
7.2 IMDB

SIN NOMBRE

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1981

April 19, 2009
Camera Cinema Club
USA
English
115 Minutes — August 14, 1981
Comedy
Peter Bogdanovich [The Last Picture Show; Mask; The Thing Called Love; Northern Exposure; The Sopranos; Broken English]

Three agency detectives fall in and out of love in the course of their duties.

The guest this Sunday morning was writer-director, Peter Bogdanovich. Which was cool.

* Halliwells
6.0 IMDB

They All Laughed @ Amazon

THEY ALL LAUGHED

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2009

March 31, 2009
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA / Germany
English
125 Minutes — March 20, 2009
Crime / Thriller
Tony Gilroy [The Devil's Advocate; Armageddon; The Bourne Identity; The Bourne Supremacy; The Bourne Ultimatum; Michael Clayton]

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DUPLICITY is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 68. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 DUPLICITY Discussion
• Break
• 22:14 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 22:46 The Last Five®
• Break
• 45:15 Listener Feedback (3)
• 59:56 Credits and Outtakes

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*** Ebert
*** Phillips
6.9 Metacritic
6.7 IMDB
6.6 Critical Consensus

Duplicity @ Amazon

DUPLICITY

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2008

March 15, 2009
Camera Cinema Club
USA
English / French / Wolof / Spanish
91 Minutes — March 27, 2009
Comedy / Drama
Ramin Bahrani [Man Push Cart]

8.7 Metacritic
8.2 IMDB
8.2 Critical Consensus

GOODBYE SOLO

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2009

February 15, 2009
Camera Cinema Club
USA
English
90 Minutes — April 3, 2009
Comedy / Horror / Sci-Fi / Thriller
R.W. Goodwin

She Was A Waitress. He Was A Space Alien.

Well-done, but extremely light story of a flying saucer that crash lands in a California desert town. Filmed as if it were a monster movie from the 1950s. Everyone is playing it straight. Much like FAR FROM HEAVEN looked and felt as if it could have taken place in the early 1960s, everyone in ALIEN TRESPASS is taking their job seriously. There is slang from the time period, everyone smokes, no one believes the first guy to see the crash site, a teenage couple watches the crash from inspiration point. There are some fairly well-known actors involved. Eric McCormack, Robert Patrick, etc. It is literally a one joke film, but that joke (this film was lost in the vaults of a major studio only to be unearthed in 2009) is done very well.

No one winks at the camera. Everyone is horrified at the ridiculous looking space alien.

IMDB

ALIEN TRESPASS

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2008

January 21, 2009
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
104 Minutes — December 12, 2008
Drama / Mystery
John Patrick Shanley [Moonstruck; The January Man; Joe Versus The Volcano; Alive]

My overriding impression of DOUBT? Boring.

Streep, Hoffman, Adams. Great cast. But it’s just so slow moving and ponderous. And every time something important is about to happen, the wind blows or rain hits a windowpane or a tree branch crashes down in the courtyard. And then the music swells.

It’s 1964 in Brooklyn. Hoffman is a Catholic Priest (hazard alert). Streep is the principal of the attached school. Amy Adams is the naive, wide-eyed character that we’re supposed to chuckle at and then feel for. Adams thinks she sees Hoffman put a boy’s shirt back into his locker. This boy is the only black kid in a sea of white, which is the excuse Hoffman uses when confronted with the suspicion that he plied the boy with alcohol. But not just any alcohol, mind you; the holy communion wine, the very blood of Christ. Viola Davis plays the boy’s mother who is remarkably nonchalant about the accusation, preferring to hide her head in the sand until summer when her boy graduates.

Streep is on the warpath against Hoffman and the two play several loud, spittle-rattling scenes where they try to scare the other one into backing off. We know Streep is the humorless disciplinarian because we see her walking the aisles of the church scolding anyone slouching or whispering while the sermon is taking place. She strikes fear in the children and other nuns alike. She is a cartoon movie archetype along the lines of the guy in Lean On Me (I’m the HNIC, now), and every other film about school and an evil paddling headmaster.

Hoffman appears to be kind, he connects with the kids, he write sermons that don’t immediately cause his congregation to sleep. But what earthly reason does he have for taking such a shine to the young black boy? We have two choices: 1) he’s a closeted homosexual predator who can’t wait to add another notch on his priestly bedpost; OR 2) he’s a caring priest who ministers to his congregation. Which one do you think the film favors?

We aren’t given any reasons for the actions that the characters take. Except maybe Amy Adams. She sees something and she goes to her superior to discuss it. Fine. Streep makes it her mission to kick Hoffman out of the parish. We are only given hints about the characters’ pasts. Hoffman is apparently at his third church in a short period of time. With 2008 eyes, this is a warning sign. Not so much back in 1964. Streep’s character is a widow who has known life outside the convent, but now finds herself ruling one. She is probably the only non-virgin on the campus.

If there’s a well-rounded and nuanced character, it’s Viola Davis as the mother. The boy has an abusive father, the mother thinks that the boy is gay (although you can bet that word is never used by anyone in this film), and if the priest needs a little loving while he protects the boy from the racist bullies in the hallway, well then, that’s a small price to pay. Davis hits a “if my nose runs and I don’t wipe it during a crying scene I’ll get an Oscar just like Jane Fonda in Klute” move perfectly. Then when we’ve been sufficiently mezmerized by her dripping nose, she miraculously finds a kleenex, wipes herself, and heads off to work like nothing happened. The words that the two women say to each other in the Davis v. Streep walk-and-talk are pretty good. But then the whole scene is ruined by the “foreboding wind of doom” that causes several dozen leaves to press up against Streeps legs. God help us.

So let’s see, Streep thinks that the priest is guilty, Hoffman maintains his innocense, Adams is first sure one way, then the other, and Davis doesn’t really see the big deal either way. You see, they all have DOUBT about what happened. Adams’ doubt puts her on Hoffman’s side and Streep finds a way to keep her doubt at bay. So we all know what the dilema is.

Wait a second, I have an idea. Why doesn’t someone ask the kid what happened? He’s not five years old, he’s in 8th grade! Wouldn’t he be able to at least give an impression about what happened or didn’t happen in the vestry? Is he so in love with the Father that he’d lie under questioning? He’s the only other witness.

I just don’t get it. Any verbal fireworks this film had were more than countered by the clumsy staging, and hit-me-over-the-head symbolism. It saddens me to report that my favorite part of the film, the only point when I wasn’t near dozing, was the spectacular church choir and organ song played loudly over the credits. What a shame.

Oscar Nominations: Meryl Streep Actress; Philip Seymour Hoffman Supporting Actor;Amy Adams Supporting Actress; Viola Davis Supporting Actress; Adapted Screenplay John Patrick Shanley;

7.0 Metacritic
7.1 Critical Consensus
8.2 IMDB

Doubt (book) @ Amazon

DOUBT

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2008

Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA / UK
English
119 Minutes — December 26, 2008
Drama / Romance
Sam Mendes [American Beauty; Road To Perdition; Jarhead]

How Do You Break Free Without Breaking Apart?

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REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 66. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 THE WRESTLER Discussion
• Break
• 23:58 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 24:54 REVOLUTIONARY ROAD Discussion
• Break
• 45:06 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 45:35 The Last Five®
• 1:03:53 Credits and Outtakes

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6.9 Metacritic
7.4 Critical Consensus
7.9 IMDB

Revolutionary Road @ Amazon

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD

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2008

January 11, 2009
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English / Hmong
116 Minutes — January 9, 2009
Crime / Drama / Thriller
Clint Eastwood [Per Qualche Dollaro In Piu; Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo; Play Misty For Me; Dirty Harry; High Plains Drifter; Magnum Force; Thunderbolt and Lightfoot; The Eiger Sanction; The Outlaw Josey Wales; The Enforcer; The Gauntlet; Every Which Way But Loose; Escape From Alcatraz; Bronco Billy; Firefox; Sudden Impact; Heartbreak Ridge; Bird; The Dead Pool; Pink Cadillac; White Hunter Black Heart; The Rookie; Unforgiven; In The Line Of Fire; A Perfect World; The Bridges Of Madison County; Absolute Power; Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil; Mystic River; Million Dollar Baby; Flags Of Our Fathers; Letters From Iwo Jima; Changeling]

MichaelVox Twitter Review in 160:
Gran Torino (08 Eastwood C) Clint as Catskills comic–A Don Rickles Capt. Amer–inhabited by stereotypes, not characters–Get Off My Lawn!

I’ve listed all 33 movies that I’ve seen where Clint Eastwood appeared as an actor or as director. That is a lot of baggage and Hollywood history to overcome when you need to take on a new film role. Which is the fatal flaw of GRAN TORINO. We’ve seen Mr. Eastwood for too many years. While watching GRAN TORINO, it borders on the impossible to “forget” Dirty Harry or The Man With No Name, or more specifically for this story, the hot-headed drill sergeant he played in Heartbreak Ridge.

Eastwood plays a grumpy widower who has just buried his wife and is now free to complain about how his Michigan neighborhood and the country at large has changed for the worse. We are hit over the head with this belief of his when, at the very funeral itself, the first scene, one of his grandkids shows up in a Lions jersey and another in a belly shirt, navel ring glinting. Then we see a woman in the back text someone something. At this point, it’s okay to agree with him. We really have become a nation of ugly Americans. But that agreement will end shortly. Eastwood will turn into a jokester Archie Bunker–one who carries a gun and uses language that Television doesn’t allow.

His next-door-neighbors are Hmong. Grandma, mother, daughter, and weak teenage son. We know that every time we hear Eastwood use another all-asians-are-the-same racist remark, he’ll make up for it at the end by respecting and helping and realizing that the world is one great big melting pot. Or something. There are the scenes where he is indoctrinated into the customs of the Hmong; where he tells his drinking buddy the one about the jew, the mexican, and the colored fellow who walk into a bar (punchline: The bartender says “get the hell out of my bar”); where he will flashback to his days during the Korean War, where he’ll have a racist-off with his buddy the barber. Many of these scenes work. None of these scenes are unique or surprising.

The first hour of the film is like watching Eastwood the Catskills comedian. He even narrates his own life. “Why does that grandma hate me so much?” he says to his trusty golden retriever. Eastwood is playing a stereotype, not a character. And unfortunately, so do the other characters. We have the wigger, the three tough black guys, the sassy asian girl, the Hmong gang who sound like they’ve listened to too much T.I., the veterans, the construction supervisor, the shaman, the catholic priest who even has red hair, the money-grubbing daughter-in-law, the selfish grandkids. Everyone who comes on screen is playing a genre, not a person.

But can I say something here? The crowd I was with loved it. They wanted to hear Eastwood say “Get Off My Lawn!” while holding a rifle. They wanted to see him squint and say with his gravely 79-year-old voice “I’m the guy you don’t want to f**k with.” They laughed when he called his neighbors zipperheads and slopes, his barber a dago half-jew, and the young man next-door a pussy. He was like Don Rickles trying to be Captain America. It didn’t work. Eastwood is supposed to be so taken with the son-next-door that he teaches him a trade, gets him a job, protects his honor and even gets him a date. And this was after the boy tried to steal his beloved car.

I’m under the impression that the Hmong cast was non-professional and while it made it a bit more realistic, it also made the film a bit harder to decipher. With Eastwood grumbling and the Hmong speaking too quickly and with inconsistent accents, I’m not entirely sure about half of the dialogue. Sometimes you want realism and sometimes you want people to be able to act. I wanted actors this time. The ending is exactly what you’d expect, but what will stay with you is the dumbed-down script. Way overrated.

7.2 Metacritic
8.4 IMDB #125 All Time
7.1 Critical Consensus

Gran Torino @ Amazon

GRAN TORINO

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2008

January 11, 2009
January 2, 2009
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
115 Minutes — January 9, 2009
Drama / Sport
Darren Aronofsky [Pi; Requiem For A Dream]

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THE WRESTLER is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 66. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 THE WRESTLER Discussion
• Break
• 23:58 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 24:54 REVOLUTIONARY ROAD Discussion
• Break
• 45:06 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 45:35 The Last Five®
• 1:03:53 Credits and Outtakes

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MichaelVox Twitter Review In 160:
The Wrestler (08 Aronofsky A-) much better mortality tale than BButton, Rourke as good as advertised, Tomei deserves more praise.

Some of my bullet points referred to in the podcast:
–The music is perfect—opening Metal Health Quiet Riot, Cinderella, Round and Round, Sweet Child O’Mine, Balls To the Wall by Accept
–Set design perfect—trailer, backstage, we could probably navigate the grocery store, VFW halls
–glasses/hearing aid/boots, jeans, duct tape on jacket
–tanning/hair/shaving/roids
–bar scene (“just one beer”) among the most romantically perfect I’ve ever seen. An old song, even a terrible one, brings people together. They are happy for five minutes. What Rourke does is amazing, singing terribly, dancing ridiculously, all in front of a woman he’s trying to impress.
–Sweet Child is a perfect song. It is now 22 years old, isn’t it? It’s not just perfect for the film, it’s just perfect.
–Every word of regret that Rourke says can be seen on his pounded up face
–Tomei has the harder role—her femininity is on display, her sexuality is being questioned, her only power (as she sees it) is slipping away from her—drunken customers tell her to her face that she’s too old to be seductive—no one will remember a particularly fabulous pole dance she did once—she was a star in an even less highly-thought-of profession than Ram
–Wrestlers are friends, Ram is supportive, doesn’t have any self-pity that I can see. If he doesn’t pay rent, he sleeps in his van; he doesn’t whine when staples are taken out of his body; he quietly works the deli counter, and then becomes an expert who is comfortable with customer contact.
–The run at the end to make it to the big match was too Hollywood. The speech, while also a movie convention, made sense in this context.
–Aronofsky doesn’t show us Rourke’s face for several minutes at the start. We are always following him at shoulder level, like his sheer size can protect us. That backstage room is full of huge wrestlers, but Ram is their leader.
–Little things: Ram can’t get out of his jeans at the tanning place, the shopping trip to the dollar store, the video game with the kid, the payphone, the autograph session, the kid playing with the action figure, the way Tomei knew how to get money out of Ram but didn’t feel exactly great about it, the way Ram goes through curtains to the cheers of the crowd or the silence of the deli counter.
–Not sure about the fireman girl. She has posters of fireman he of Angus Young
–Daughter stuff didn’t work. Evan Rachel Wood, who I’ve loved since Once and Again, is too angry without explanation. A mad face and brief “not again” are not enough for me. His scene at the beach with her worked in spite of itself.

8.1 Metacritic
8.7 IMDB #59 All Time
8.7 Critical Consensus

The Wrestler @ Amazon

THE WRESTLER

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2008

December 30, 2008
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
159 Minutes — December 25, 2008
Drama / Fantasy / Mystery / Romance
David Fincher [Se7en; The Game; Fight Club; Zodiac]
Brad Pitt [Less Than Zero; Thelma & Louise; A River Runs Through It; Kalifornia; True Romance; Interview With The Vampire; Legends Of The Fall; Se7en; Twelve Monkeys; Sleepers; Seven Years In Tibet; Fight Club; Spy Game; Ocean’s Eleven; Troy; Ocean’s Twelve; Mr. & Mrs. Smith; Babel; The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford; Burn After Reading]

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THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 65. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON Discussion – Part 1
• Break
• 17:17 THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON Discussion – Part 2
• Break
• 33:20 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 34:18 The Last Five®
• Break
• 49:02 Listener Last Five (Aaron in Washington, DC)
• 1:03:07 Credits and Outtakes

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7.0 Metacritic
8.6 IMDB #74 All Time

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button @ Amazon

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON

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2008

December 9, 2008
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
128 Minutes — November 26, 2008
Biography / Drama
Gus Van Sant [Drugstore Cowboy; My Own Private Idaho; To Die For; Good Will Hunting; Psycho; Finding Forrester; Elephant; Last Days; Paris Je T’aime]
Sean Penn [Taps; Fast Times At Ridgemont High; Bad Boys; The Falcon And The Snowman; At Close Range; Colors; Casualties Of War; We’re No Angels; State Of Grace; Carlito’s Way; Dead Man Walking; She’s So Lovely; U Turn; The Game; The Thin Red Line; Before Night Falls; Mystic River; 21 Grams; Into The Wild]

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MILK is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 64. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

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Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 MILK Discussion – Part 1
• Break
• 18:04 MILK Discussion – Part 2
• Break
• 32:58 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 33:34 The Last Five®
• 1:02:52 Credits and Outtakes

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8.4 Metacritic
8.5 Critical Consensus
8.3 IMDB

Milk @ Amazon

MILK

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2008

November 5, 2008
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
141 Minutes — October 31, 2008
Crime / Drama / Mystery
Clint Eastwood [Play Misty For Me; Dirty Harry; Magnum Force; The Outlaw Josey Wales; The Enforcer; Escape From Alcatraz; Sudden Impact; Heartbreak Ridge; Bird; The Rookie; Unforgiven; In The Line Of Fire; The Bridges Of Madison County; Absolute Power; Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil; Mystic River; Million Dollar Baby; Flags Of Our Fathers; Letters From Iwo Jima]
Angelina Jolie [Gia; Pushing Tin; The Bone Collector; Girl, Interrupted; Gone In Sixty Seconds; Mr. & Mrs. Smith]

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CHANGELING is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 63. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 CHANGELING Discussion – Part 1
• Break
• 16:12 CHANGELING Discussion – Part 2
• Break
• 33:12 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 33:58 The Last Five®
• 1:03:16 Credits and Outtake

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6.3 Metacritic
6.3 40 Critical Consensus
8.1 IMDB

Changeling @ Amazon

CHANGELING

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2008

October 15, 2008
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
113 Minutes — October 3, 2008
Drama / Romance
Jonathan Demme [Melvin And Howard; Swing Shift; Stop Making Sense; Something Wild; Married To The Mob; The Silence Of The Lambs; Philadelphia]

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RACHEL GETTING MARRIED is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 62. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 RACHEL GETTING MARRIED Discussion – Part 1
• Break
• 18:17 RACHEL GETTING MARRIED Discussion – Part 2
• Break
• 33:07 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 33:37 The Last Five®
• 48:56 Credits and Outtakes

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8.2 Metacritic
6.8 IMDB

Rachel Getting Married @ Amazon

RACHEL GETTING MARRIED

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2008

Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English / Hebrew / Arabic / Persian / Spanish
101 Minutes — October 3, 2008
Documentary
Larry Charles [Borat; Curb Your Enthusiasm]

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RELIGULOUS is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 61. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 RELIGULOUS Discussion
• Break
• 27:42 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 28:24 The Last Five®
• Break
• 46:51 Listener Last Five® (12-year-old Charlie)
• 54:28 Credits and Outtakes

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5.5 Metacritic
7.4 IMDB

Religulous @ Amazon

RELIGULOUS

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2008

September 17, 2008
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA / UK / France
English
96 Minutes — September 12, 2008
Comedy / Crime
Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

Intelligence is relative.

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BURN AFTER READING is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 60. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:

• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 BURN AFTER READING Discussion
• Break
• 22:19 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 22:44 The Last Five®
• Break
• 49:15 Fall TV Update/Show Notes
• 1:02:40 Credits and Outtake

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*** Ebert
*** Berardinelli
** Phillips
C Schwarzbaum
6.2 Metacritic
7.9 IMDB

BURN AFTER READING

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2008

July 19, 2008
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English / Cantonese
152 Minutes — July 18, 2008
Action / Crime / Drama / Mystery / Thriller
Christopher Nolan [Following; Memento; Batman Begins; The Prestige]

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The Dark Knight is the subject of Cinebanter Podcast Number 55. After you’ve seen the movie, listen to the spoiler-filled review by Tassoula and I by clicking the play button right here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Show Description:
• 00:00 Intro
• 00:32 THE DARK KNIGHT Discussion
• Break
• 25:22 To Sum It Up
• Break
• 25:48 The Last Five®
• Break
• 51:28 Listener Last Fives (Len in PA and Kate in VA)/Show Notes
• 1:05:46 Credits and Outtake

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Christian Bale [Empire Of The Sun; Henry V; Little Women; American Psycho; Captain Corelli’s Mandolin; Laurel Canyon; Batman Begins; The New World; The Prestige; I’m Not There]

Heath Ledger [10 Things I Hate About You; The Patriot; Monster’s Ball; Brokeback Mountain; Candy; I’m Not There]

Aaron Eckhart [In The Company Of Men; Your Friends & Neighbors; Any Given Sunday; Erin Brockovich; Nurse Betty; Thank You For Smoking]

Why So Serious?

8.2 Metacritic
9.2 IMDB #1

THE DARK KNIGHT

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2007

July 9, 2008
Campbell CA — Camera 7
Germany / Kazakhstan / Russia
Mongolian
126 Minutes — June 6, 2008
Biography / Drama / History / Romance
Sergei Bodrov

Greatness Comes To Those Who Take It

AAN: Foreign Language

7.4 Metacritic
7.5 IMDB

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2008

July 7, 2008
Campbell CA — Camera 7
USA
English
98 Minutes — June 27, 2008
Animation / Comedy / Family / Romance / Sci-Fi
Andrew Stanton [Toy Story; A Bug's Life; Toy Story 2; Monsters, Inc.; Finding Nemo]

An Adventure Beyond The Ordinar-E

9.2 Metacritic
8.7 IMDB #26 All Time

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2002

November 20, 2002

Camera 7

USA

English

In Life And Love, Expect The Unexpected–MOONLIGHT MILE.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon, Holly Hunter, Ellen Pompeo.

Surprisingly, when looking at that cast above, the true revelation of this film is Pompeo who plays a fragile, but tough-acting postal carrier/bartender. She is unconventionally beautiful, tragic, and brave. This is the first time I’ve seen her, but she’s slated to be in a whole bunch of films coming out soon. I can’t wait to see her again.

Gyllenhaal’s fiance, the daughter of Hoffman and Sarandon, has been killed during a coffeeshop confrontation. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This happens before the film starts. The movie then traces how the family and friends find a way to get through the tragedy without pushing each other away.

With subject matter like this, it’s not like the sadness is going to be a surprise. We know there will be drunken memories, secrets unearthed, guilt about interactions, friends who know how to say exactly the wrong thing, and the inability to move on afterwards. What was a pleasant surprise for me was just how funny the dialogue was. Sarandon has cornered the market on the cynical, brassy, who gives a shit middle aged woman character, and Hunter could be a tough District Attorney, who spouts expletives, in her sleep.

There are several incredibly memorable snippets of dialogue.

Sarandon to Gyllenhaal: You want to know how we ended up together? I do four things before going to sleep. I drop my robe, crawl between the sheets, turn on my left side, and back my ass up. He finds me there and holds me. No matter what we’ve been arguing about or what kind of mood we’re in, I know I’ve found home in his arms.

Pompeo to Gyllenhaal during an profoundly touching moment: Why me?

Gyllenhaal to Pompeo during an argument: You let people learn 60% of you, but it’s the other 40% that’s important!

This film was actually much better than I thought it would be. The music was all 70s inspired, and it was fun to see the huge cars and clothing of that era. Gyllenhaal has developed into quite an actor, his eyes seemingly three sizes too big for his head. Hoffman is hyperly anal and Sarandon is the voice of reason. Tears aplenty here.

6.0 Critical Consensus

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Written by Michael W. Cummins