Posts Tagged ‘Gary Oldman’

Kung Fu Panda 2 – More Black Than White

Posted 21 Jun 2011 — by contributor
Category Animation, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Kung Fu Panda 2, USA, 2011

Directed by Jennifer Yuh

Kung Fu Panda 2 is a 2011 3D American computer-animated action comedy film and the sequel to the 2008 film Kung Fu Panda. Perhaps the most important aspect of Kung Fu Panda 2 (and I never thought I would type this) is that the series is aging with its fans; so much so that I could expect Panda 3 to be the most adult of the series. They’ve already started exploring more personal themes than the last entry, which mostly took the themes of following your heart and believing in yourself and employed them. Here, the story deepens more than you might expect, dealing with themes of adoption, unrequited love, and acceptance of others. More importantly, the imagination of the film has grown tenfold.

Of course, there’s a bit of formula; you can’t escape the fact that it’s a kid’s movie, but it gets further away from the drama-killing formula that impeded the first film. When I sat down in the movie theater in 2008, I knew exactly what I was getting. It was going to be a film about a goofy “man-boy” (bear-cub?) panda who doesn’t quite belong, who gets a Jungian call to duty to learn kung fu and save his village. Here, that formula is side-stepped in favor of a generally engrossing and slightly depressing storyline. Po (voiced by Jack Black) finds out that he’s adopted and wants to find his biological parents, he’s in love with Tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie), who may or may not share his feelings, and the entire country of China is under attack by a villain who has a cannon that shoots a blast so powerful it wipes out any trace of the kung fu that seems to be the nation’s bread-and-butter. So Po and his Furious Five – Tigress, Crane (voiced by David Cross), Mantis (voiced by Seth Rogen), Monkey (voiced by Jackie Chan), and Viper (voiced by Lucy Liu) – go off to defeat it; but how do you use kung fu to stop something that stops kung fu? “By finding inner peace,” Po’s mentor, Master Shinfu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman), tells him. That’s heavy. Read More

Faces Of The Street – Two Short Films From Minneapolis

Posted 16 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Grinning Faces, USA, 2010

Written and Directed by Noah Tilsen

Street Hassle, USA, 2010

Written and Directed by Roger Davidson

Grinning Faces is a disturbing and impressive film debut from Noah Tilsen.

Here we present a look at two films that many people will not only not “get,” but may have some difficulty in even seeing for themselves, as they are not widely available for viewing as of yet. Noah Tilsen’s Grinning Faces and Roger Davidson’s Street Hassle are two micro-budget indie shorts, both approximately 30 minutes long, made by two of the more promising filmmakers currently at work in the Twin Cities of my home state, Minnesota. Both films are dark (both in cinematography and content), stylish and disturbing, with a bit of gallows humor and a strong sense of impending doom and madness. It is this reviewer’s opinion that short films are too often overlooked, and I try to rectify this oversight by occasionally reviewing them here; in fact, my first article as an official writer for this site was a lengthy analysis of one of my favorite films, Luis Bunuel’s 16-minute masterpiece, Un Chien Andalou (1929): http://moviesididntget.com/2011/01/17/un-chien-andalou-kill-your-symbols/

Full disclosure: though I had nothing directly to do with the making of Grinning Faces, several of those both behind and in front of the camera are friends or acquaintances of mine, which is also true of Street Hassle; additionally, I have a minor, non-speaking role in Hassle, though my influence on the film is so minimal, I feel that it is not a conflict of interest for me to review it here. I thought it best to be up-front and honest about this, and I will do my utmost to provide unbiased reviews of both.

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Red Riding Hood

Posted 20 Apr 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Red Riding Hood, USA / Canada, 2011

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke

Red Riding Hood has the Brothers Grimm rolling in their graves. I grew up wanting this film. Not this film, strictly speaking, but what this film could have been. I’ve often said that the most important part of film criticism is to not judge what could have been, but what is, and simply that. I know that I was a fan of the fairy tale from a young age, even to this day, and I know that the film I always wanted to see made from it was more The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), a truly terrific and terrifying film, and less Twilight (2008), which I enjoy, for what it’s worth. But what we got was Twilight, not The Ghost and the Darkness.

What sets them apart is this: Red Riding Hood could have been a film about a wolf hunt, about the strength of family, and a feminist’s wet dream. Instead, it wound up being a teenage love story between an outsider and a pretty girl, and a whodunit about a werewolf. A careful distinction: the original “Little Red Riding Hood” story is almost exactly like the former, and Catherine Hardwicke’s version is exactly like the latter. Remember that Catherine Hardwicke gave us the first Twilight. She almost ruined that, and she did ruin this. Beyond repair. Read More