Friday, June 24, 2011

PCP on DVD - Oscar pictures 2010 7 pack of reviews

Time for your next hit of PCP:  Pop Culture Panorama.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have developed about a 60 movie backlog of films to review, of films I’ve watched over the past couple months.  I’ve had enough time to watch the movies and jot down some observations, but not enough time until now to actually write the reviews.  So, I will be doing shorter than normal reviews of these films until I am caught back up, in convenient multi-packs of movies by genre.  Today I’m going to do new reviews for 6 films that were heavy Oscar nominees last year, and also reprint my review of Inception from last year that I wrote for my friend’s blog.

The Social Network – 2010, Rated PG-13.  Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, and Justin Timberlake.  My rating:  10 out of 10.

If you’ve ever wondered how Facebook was created, or if you are a heavy Facebook user like me, then this is a film you have to see.  This was a great film from director David Fincher, the man behind two of my all time favorite films – Fight Club and Seven.  All of the cast members were great, and the script from Aaron Sorkin was outstanding.  The time jumps between the two different settlement hearings were a great way to tell the story and to keep things interesting and fresh during the story.  By not being linear, it actually makes the story more compelling.  It’s actually a great story, and I can see why Zuckerberg felt compelled to donate hundreds of millions of dollars right around the same time this film came out, because it totally makes him look like a giant douchebag.  Jesse Eisenberg was excellent as Mark Zuckerberg, he gave a great performance in this film.  He’s going to have a great future in the movies.  I loved his line about the Winklevi – “If you were the guys who invented Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”  Timberlake turns in a good performance as Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, who convinces Zuckerberg to drop the The from The Facebook to make it just Facebook.  As a user of Facebook since back when it was still The Facebook, I actually remember when they did that drop.  Andrew Garfield was also outstanding as the betrayed cofounder of the company, Eduardo Saverin, and I also liked Armie Hammer playing both of the Winklevi twins thanks to some computer trickery.  In short, it is a great film that truly does define our generation.

Read the other 6 after the jump.

True Grit – 2010, Rated PG-13.  110 minutes.  Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, & Hailee Steinfeld.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

I had very high expectations for this film.  Since it is starring some of my favorite actors in Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, and Josh Brolin, and directed by the great Coen brothers, and considering that the original version of this film won John Wayne an Oscar, I was expecting this film to be the best western movie ever.  Unfortunately, the film didn’t quite live up to the very high expectations I had set for it.  That’s not to say it’s not a good movie, because it is a very excellent film.  It is very deserving of the praise that it has received.  The film is beautifully shot, the great filmmaking of the Coen brothers is on full display with their gorgeous panoramic shots of the west.  Bridges is excellent as the aging gunslinger Rooster Cogburn, giving a performance that rivals John Wayne’s original take on the character.  I also really liked Brolin and Damon in this, they were great.  This is definitely a better western for Brolin than the piece of garbage that was Jonah Hex.  I was also impressed by the performance of Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, the tough as nails girl determined to avenge her father’s death.  That was a great feature film debut for the young actress.  All in all it is a good movie, it just sadly wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be.

The King’s Speech – 2010, Rated R.  118 minutes.  Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, & Guy Pearce.  My rating:  10 out of 10.

Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Actor for Colin Firth is definitely deserving of all of the praise that has been heaped upon it.  Firth’s performance as King George VI is extremely impressive.  He is so great with the stammer that the King had that you come to believe that Firth had a stuttering problem himself that he had to overcome to be an actor.  Geoffrey Rush is great as the oddball speech therapist; his character kind of reminds me of his performance in Shine, only without the mental illness.  I also liked Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen; she carries herself with the regality of the position naturally and believably.  The film itself is paced on the slow side, but that’s what you expect for this type of period historical drama.  Aside from the slow pacing, this film is a great film about overcoming adversity, filled with rock solid performances, great directing, and a little bit of humor as well.  In a nutshell, it is an excellent film that I highly recommend to everyone.

Black Swan – 2010, Rated R.  108 minutes.  Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder, & Barbara Hershey.  My rating:  9 out of 10.

Natalie Portman was outstanding in this film as Nina, the star of the ballet who is possibly/maybe/definitely losing her mind as the film progresses.  The insanity that she shows spreading and growing through her in the film was a very believable portrayal of a person with mental illness, she totally sells it.  She definitely deserved her Oscar for the movie.  Mila Kunis is smoldering as her rival for the role of the Swan Queen in the production.  Vincent Cassel is great as the sleazy ballet director who uses his dancers as his own private harem.  Winona Ryder also turns in a great performance as the bitter older star of the ballet that is being replaced due to her age.  The film itself is rather trippy, with much of the movie making you wonder what exactly is happening in Portman’s mind and what is happening for real.  Even the ending of the film has multiple potential interpretations, leaving the viewer wondering what the heck just happened.  Despite the vague ending, I did enjoy this film, and I’ll probably watch it again just to figure out what exactly was in Portman’s mind and what was reality.

Toy Story 3 – 2010, Rated G.  103 minutes.  Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, and many more.  My rating:  10 out of 10.

Pixar studios is great at making movies that entertain people of all ages with their blend of humor and touching moments.  Toy Story 3 continues that trend, with a number of moments that will have you reaching for the Kleenex, and a number of moments that will have you laughing aloud.  Most of the gang returns for this third and likely final film in the series, and there are some great new additions as well, especially Ned Beatty as the manipulative Lotso, Michael Keaton as a great Ken, and Timothy Dalton as a funny hedgehog that has a deep love of Shakespeare.  The film is basically a jailbreak movie at its core, and it tells that story very well with some great moments.  Ken steals every scene he is in, and it is obvious for the jokes aimed at the adults that they are heavily implying Ken’s sexuality belongs in San Francisco.  In addition to the prison break part of the story, the film is also about growing up and moving on, as Andy, the toys’ owner, is off to college and has to decide what to do with his beloved but now mostly ignored toys.  This movie is just as good as the first two in the series, and it proves you can make a great trilogy without running out of ideas or going flat – I’m looking at you Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean.  This movie is going on my owned shelf, right along side the first 2 Toy Story films, and also every other Pixar film they’ve made so far (although Cars 2 doesn’t look all that good).

Blue Valentine – 2010, Rated R after appeal, originally rated NC-17.  112 minutes.  Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

When this film first came out, it was originally awarded the dreaded NC-17 rating.  The MPAA changed the rating to an R on appeal, without the director making any cuts.  Having now seen the film, I can’t understand why the MPAA decided to make this an NC-17 in the first place.  The scene in question has Ryan Gosling going south on Michelle Williams, but all you can see is the side of her thigh as she still has her shirt on.  The exact same thing, but with 2 women, happens in Black Swan and they didn’t try to hit that film with an NC-17.  Clearly the MPAA is stupid and has no clue how to properly rate a film.  Aside from that however, the film was otherwise interesting with a very gritty and realistic look at modern marriage, without any sunshine or a Hollywood ending.  The film is bleak and depressing, not a very uplifting film at all.  It jumps back and forth between the past, where the couple meets and falls in love, and the present where their marriage is falling apart.  The scenes of them fighting as their world falls apart around them are so very realistic and nothing like almost any other Hollywood portrayal of marriage.  Gosling and Williams are stellar in their performances.  I’ll watch either of the 2 of them in almost anything, as they are both superb actors, some of the best young talent working today.  Williams deserved her Oscar nomination for Best Actress, and Gosling really got shafted by not getting a Best Actor nomination himself.  This was a good film, but not one that I’m in any hurry to rush back and watch a second time, due to how bleak and depressing it can be when set in the present.  The scenes in the past, while touching, only further drive home the depression you feel because of where the characters now are versus where they were.  Still worth watching once though, just because of the great performances of the two leads.

Inception – 2010, Rated PG-13.  148 minutes.  Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, Marion Cotillard, & Pete Postlethwaite.  My rating:  10 out of 10. 

Note:  This review originally posted by me back in July 2010 on my friend’s blog.

Falling under the category of better late than never, I’m finally reviewing this film.  I actually saw Inception over a month ago, and absolutely loved it.  I held off on doing the review for awhile because of a combination of a number of factors, but I’m finally putting my thoughts to paper for this movie.  If you haven’t seen Inception yet, go see it now, before it’s too late and it’s gone from theaters.  It is definitely the best movie I’ve seen so far this summer.  Featuring an uber-talented cast and crew that has 2 Oscar winners [Michael Caine (supporting winner for The Cider House Rules, Hannah and her Sisters, 4 more noms for leading actor The Quiet American, Educating Rita, Sleuth, Alfie) and Marion Cotillard (Lead actress La Vie En Rose)] and 5 Oscar nominees for acting [Tom Berenger (supporting actor Platoon), Leonardo DiCaprio (3x nom –leading actor for Blood Diamond, The Aviator, supporting actor for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), Pete Postlethwaite (supporting actor In the Name of the Father), Ken Watanabe (supporting actor The Last Samurai), Ellen Page (leading actress Juno)], and a number of winners in the production and effects side of the film, and you have a picture that has a lot of talent, and it shows on the screen.  The acting is phenomenal, and the twisty plot is amazing.  Christopher Nolan is a sensational director, proving once again why it is worth it to see every movie he makes.  This movie has so many layers on top of layers, little clues and hints, its worth watching more than once, and this movie is atop my holiday wishlist for this year.  I was most impressed by the visuals in the city-folding scene and the rotating hallway fight scene, which have to be seen on a big screen to be truly appreciated.  Wally Pfister probably just earned his fourth straight nomination for cinematography, joining his noms for his last 3 Chris Nolan films The Dark Knight, The Prestige, and Batman Begins.  There’s not really much I can add to this review that hasn’t been said by countless other reviewers, other than go see this mind-bending movie right now before it is too late to see in theaters.

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