Babies (2010) ***½
Director: Thomas Blamés
Writers: Thomas Blamés (adaptation), Alain Chabat (idea)
Starring: Ponijao, Bayar, Mari, Hattie
The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008) ***
Director: Ji-woon Kim
Writers: Ji-woon Kim, Min-suk Kim
Starring: Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, Woo-sung Jung, Je-mun Yun, Seung-su Ryu
The great comic actor Kang-ho Song takes the primary focus of the plot as The Weird of the titular triumvirate. Like the Sergio Leone western, the trio of the title is seeking a treasure. The Good and the Weird are at odds with each other, but often work together in their efforts to prevent the Bad from getting to the booty first. There’s a great deal of comedy milked from the strange situations the Weird finds himself in. And there’s even more action. Looking at a movie like this, you begin to wonder what happened to the spirit of American cinema. Korea is now where it’s at.
28 Up (1985) ****
Director: Michael Apted
Starring: Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Bassett, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, Peter Davies, Suzanne Dewey, Nicholas Hitchon, Neil Hughes, Lynn Johnson, Paul Kligerman, Susan Sullivan, Tony Walker
Louie, season 1 (2010) ****
Director/Writer: Louis CK
Starring: Louis CK
Most episodes are broken into three distinct segments interwoven with each other. There are stand up segments of Louie at work in small New York comedy clubs. Some episodes have cold opens with very strange conversations. The meat of each episode is usually slice of life stories that involve subjects like dating, fatherhood, sex, play dates, school volunteering, growing old, and God. The subjects of each episode generally start out as awkward situational comedy, but Louie frequently faces these comic situations with a good grain of seriousness that suggests these aren’t mere jokes to him. These issues are things that really matter to Louie. They often strike fairly universal cords and rarely go down expected roads.
Winter’s Bone (2010) ****
Director: Debra Granik
Writers: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, Daniel Woodrell (novel)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Dale Dickey, Garret Dillahunt, Shelley Waggener, Lauren Sweetser
“Winter’s Bone” is at once a tense backwoods noir and a heart wrenching drama about survival at the poverty level. Ree has a neighbor that does what she can for her, but they aren’t much better off. She has a good friend that talks to her about the realities of sacrifice necessary in marriage. One such sacrifice is possibly not being there for a friend in need. Her uncle, John Hawkes in a career defining performance, shares the tough love adopted by most of the extended family, but since he’s in almost as much hot water with them as his brother seems to be, he shows mercy on Ree. For that matter, the young Jennifer Lawrence shows as much gumption and determination in her performance as Ree as the character shows in her resolve to save the shabby but love driven life of her and her siblings.
Splice (2010) ***
Director: Vincenzo Natali
Writers: Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, Doug Taylor
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, Delphine Chaneac
Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley put in two solid performances as scientists who create a new lifeform in order to extract genes for curing human ailments. However, they get caught up in the whole paternal implications of what was intended to remain a scientific experiment. Complicating things further is the experiment itself, which prefers to be seen as a lifeform more so than a science project.
The middle act is a tough sell, as the characters are forced into some betrayals that I don’t feel the screenplay fully earns. But the brains behind the script are too hard to deny as producing a movie worth seeing. As you might expect, there are some scares that the filmmakers earn very well. It’s far better than the similar in atmosphere “Species”.
The Girl Who Played with Fire (2010) **
Director: Daniel Alfredson
Writers: Jonas Frykberg, Stieg Larsson (novel)
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Michalis Koutsogiannakis, Yasmine Garbi, Georgi Staykov
Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon (2010) ***
Director: John Puglisi
Writers: Peter Steinfeld, Jeff Snow (story), David Moses Pimentel (story), Ken Morrissey (story), Johane Matte (story), Aimée Marsh, Cressida Cowell (book series)
Starring: Craig Ferguson, Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, TJ Miller, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, Gerard Butler
How to Train Your Dragon (2010) ***
Director: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Writers: William Davies, Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders, Cressida Cowell (novel)
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, TJ Miller, Kristen Wiig
Second viewings often bring new perceptions to good movies and this time around this disabilities angle of the story really struck me. There’re the fairly obvious mirrored disabilities in Hiccup and Toothless in the final scene of the film, but even before Hiccup is physically handicapped, his social handicaps present a very large hurdle he must overcome. There’s this illusion that such situations require a personality shift, something all but unheard of in real life but fairly easy when a script is involved. It’s nice the way the screenplay here embraces Hiccup’s personality flaws, instead of disregarding them to present us with a more typical hero. I really like how he has to struggle to articulate his feelings for Toothless when pressed by Astrid. This is the best animated film I’ve seen this year.
Read my original review here.