Allow me to wax nostalgic for a moment – not an unusual thing to do when discussing Tintin. For I discovered the beloved graphic novels when I was a wee lad visiting my grandparents in Norway. At the local general store – they really lived in the middle of nowhere, some 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle – I… read more!
Movies Released in 2011 (in alphabetical order)
This tragicomic look at the end of the silent movie era is noteworthy for actually being a silent movie, shot on black and white with the old aspect radio of late '20s/early '30s cinema, complete with title cards, old-fashioned transitions, and a sweet musical score that is (mostly) reminiscent of the era. France's Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin, a top… read more!
I'm one of the few people who really liked – or even bothered to see – graphic designer/music video director Mike Mills's feature debut Thumbsucker. Though it was a little self-conscious, I think it showed promise for the filmmaker. So I was somewhat disappointed that his sophomore effort, the semi-autobiographical Beginners, toned down the imaginative visuals in exchange for that… read more!
The Marvel juggernaut just keeps forging ahead, with its third – I think – summer 2011 superhero movie, and the fifth(!) official prequel to 2012's much-hyped blockbuster The Avengers. One thing I will give Marvel credit for: the studio has shown panache in picking just the right director for each title. Since this movie is set in 1942, who better… read more!
I am not a fan of this current wave of 3D movies. I've only seen a handful of studio pictures that use the format, and it seems as though the directors are so hell-bent on avoiding the hammy old "Gotcha!" shots – the paddle-ball-at-the-camera stunts from '50s 3D flicks like House of Wax – that they've drained the joy out… read more!
Ed Helms plays the squarest dude in America, a small town Wisconsin insurance salesman who is sent to a modest industry convention in the "Big City": Cedar Rapids, Iowa, population 126,000. It's clear from the get-go that the story will be this wide-eyed innocent's journey along the road of excess to the palace of wisdom, but once you settle in,… read more!
When I first saw the trailer to this movie, something did not compute: avant garde Iranian filmmaker Kiarostami helming a Tuscany-set romance, starring Juliette Binoche, and pitched to audiences as kind of a middle-aged Before Sunrise? Huh? Well, it's true that the movie consists of Binoche, as alluring as ever, strolling around picturesque Italian villages with a handsome older English… read more!
Contagion opens with Gwyneth Paltrow coughing into her cell phone at a Chicago airport, with the title "Day 2" ominously burned into the frame. Two days later – and just a few minutes into the movie – her character is dead, as is her six year old son. Thus begins the fast-paced tale of a fast-paced fatal virus, and the… read more!
I'm kind of a Shakespeare geek. But only kind of. What I mean is that I inherited this massive tome of his works – complete with photos of famous British actors performing the roles from the 1950s, neat! – and many years ago, while bored, I read through several of his plays. Even the lesser-known ones. Two seldom-performed plays stood… read more!
I'm a big fan of Alexander Payne. Ever since his brilliant sophomore effort, 1999's Election, I've found him to be a filmmaker whose work consistently rewards viewing. Okay, I didn't totally adore Sideways, but I could still appreciate it. Payne has a fondness for exploring the petty and banal aspects of human behavior, but even in his films' more outrageous… read more!
Odd little thriller about a half-Italian, half-Slovenian hotel maid (Kseniya Rappoport) who, shortly after witnessing the suicide of a guest, meets a kindly security guard (Filippo Timi) at a "speed dating" session and starts going out with him. What follows first hints at a romance, then becomes a crime movie, then takes a sharp turn into the supernatural, then... becomes… read more!
Having seen Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's previous two features, Bronson and Valhalla Rising, the idea of this very weird stylist tackling a "Hollywood" movie made me wonder: Would he sell out? Or would his blend of artful lighting, postmodernist deconstructions of tough guy antiheroes, and scenes of sudden, horrifically grisly violence survive his transition into mainstream American cinema? The… read more!
Decent political drama about a Spanish film crew (led by an apparently Mexican director, played by Gael García Bernal) who come to Bolivia in 2000 in order to shoot a feature about Christopher Columbus's early subjugation of South American Indians, only to find out that the local Quechua actor they cast as a martyred Indian (Juan Carlos Aduviri) is simultaneously… read more!
My wife Miki is vegan. Years ago, before I started dating her, like most people I treated veganism as a joke: What a bunch of kooks! Meat's great! Nowadays, although I still eat meat once every two weeks or so, my own diet has become primarily vegan simply because Miki is an excellent cook. So I have a rare vantage… read more!
July's long-awaited followup to her wonderful debut Me and You and Everyone We Know is every bit a proper Miranda July work, in that it explores her usual obsessions with communication, loneliness, guilt, sexuality, and repulsive '80s fashion. But it takes a murkier, gloomier path than her last film. July once again stars, this time as a woman in an empty… read more!
Considering the countless superheroes that Marvel has taken to the big screen, it must be kind of embarrassing to be Marvel's longtime rival DC, who until now has only managed to make movies out of Batman and Superman – again and again and again. But now we finally get the cinematic debut of their Superfriends cohort Green Lantern. I never read the comics, but the story… read more!
And so we come to the end of the most successful book and film franchise history has ever known, with the surprisingly short Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (well, at two hours, it's comparatively short for a Potter movie). Picking up right where Part 1 left off - so quickly that I had actually forgotten several key… read more!
I am usually disappointed by contemporary comedies. Most are just not funny. Yet once in a while I inexplicably feel a calling to head to a movie theater and watch one. I guess it's the optimist in me, because I find very few to be sharp, witty, inventive or surprising – elements that I think make for good comedy. And… read more!
Those even slightly familiar with the life of Martin Scorsese know about his fabled childhood, where little asthmatic Marty became enthralled by the movies, as he was too sickly to play outside with the neighborhood kids. Only Scorsese knows how true this legend exactly is, but the image of him forlornly staring out of his Hell's Kitchen window at the… read more!
This bare bones indie about a Japanese tourist stuck in a listless California town has much more going for it than meets the eye. The film opens with the brother-sister duo of Atsuko and Rintaro (played by Atsuko Okatsuka, who also cowrote the story, and Rintaro Sawamoto) arriving in the titular Littlerock – an hour's drive east of Los Angeles,… read more!