Posts Tagged ‘Michael Caine’

Ezra’s Six Days Of Christmas Movies

Posted 23 Dec 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

A Muppet Christmas Carol is a delightful and remarkably faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic. Yes, I know this should be “12 Days of Christmas Movies.” Listen, it’s the holidays, guys; cut me some slack. Anyway, Christmas is far from my favorite holiday, as evidenced by my much more thorough Halloween article (over four times as many movies in that one, folks!), but I wanted to take some time this year to look at some rather off-the-beaten-path movies, as well as a couple I had seen before, but felt it was time to revisit. Here they are, in the order in which I watched them. Happy birthday, Jeebus!

THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL – a delightful and remarkably faithful adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic, starring Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge (Ebenezer apparently went the way of Adolph as a first name choice), Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, and the Great Gonzo as Dickens himself. The biggest deviation from the source material is the casting of not one but two Jacob Marleys, in the form of crusty old hecklers Statler and Waldorf. Michael Caine gives a typically excellent performance, with far more emotional depth than you’d expect from a Muppet movie, and the film ends on a positive, Sesame Street-esque educational note: “If you’d like to know more, read the book.” ****  Read More

The Prestige – Not That Exciting When You Know How It’s Done

Posted 09 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

The Prestige, USA / UK, 2006

Directed by Christopher Nolan

The Prestige, we live in the turn, while the pledge is revealed to us in flashbacks, and then the prestige isn't what the prestige is supposed to be, but rather something that cheats and gives an easy out. The prestige is only the third act. At least that’s what we’re told by Cutter (Michael Caine) in his opening monologue. It’s more a set of instructions for the film, we’ll discover, but that’s a later point. Every magic trick comes in three parts: one – the pledge, in which you give the audience something real to hold onto; two – the turn, in which you take that something and turn into something impossible, the part where the magic lies; three – the prestige, in which everything comes back to normal, and the audience (hopefully) cheers. Usually, magic is all about sleight of hand and misdirection. Christopher Nolan is great at that; recall the difficult but astonishing Memento (2000). There’s a pledge, a turn, and a prestige in that, but here, in The Prestige, we live in the turn, while the pledge is revealed to us in flashbacks, and then the prestige isn’t what it’s supposed to be, but rather something that cheats and gives an easy out.

Still, though, the pledge and the turn make the film exciting and the thriller it should be. Don’t be fooled – this film isn’t strictly about magicians. It’s a cat-and-mouse game about two men obsessed with one-upping each other, and who both end up destroying themselves in the process. Read More

Gnomeo & Juliet

Posted 07 May 2011 — by contributor
Category Animation, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Gnomeo & Juliet, UK / USA, 2011Gnomeo and Juliet Poster

Directed by Kelly Asbury

In what might become an anthem for the Gnome Liberation Front, Gnomeo & Juliet (very loosely) retells the story of William Shakespeare’s famed tragedy of nearly the same name. But, after all, a movie about doomed garden gnome love by any other name is still as dreadful. Oddly enough, a pastiche of Shakespeare puns and gardening jokes took nine writers – Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Mark Burton, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg, Steve Hamilton Shaw, Kelly Asbury, Rob Sprackling, and John R. Smith – to fully realize. That might be the funniest thing about the film. Between them, be it final touch-ups, penning the original stories, script drafts, or tossing in jokes here and there, they pulled off true movie magic: a film that feels like it has no screenplay at all, written by a small committee.

Most of us grew up knowing the story of Romeo and Juliet, and for the little kids who are for some reason seeing this film, a small gnome sets our scene: “Two gardens, both alike in dignity, in fair grass, where we lay our scene, from ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil dirt makes civil ceramic unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes a pair of star-cross’d gnomes pull through it all right; whose misadventured piteous overthrows do with their lame puns bury their parents’ strife. The fearful passage of their scuff-mark’d love, and the continuance of their parents’ rage, which, but their children’s end, nought could remove, is now the 86 minutes’ traffic of our stage; the which if you with patient ears attend, what here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend.” And if you’ll buy that, I have a bridge I need to get off my hands. Baz Lurhmann’s take, 1996’s Romeo + Juliet, was rooted in gang violence in Southern California. That feud was believable. All other versions, we’re committed to going along with simply because they’re direct adaptations of the play. Here, we’re expected to believe several key things without batting an eye. Read More

Thor – Let The Thunder Roll

Posted 06 May 2011 — by Nicole P
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott MartinThor, The God of Thunder

Thor, USA, 2011

Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Marvel movies know what they’re doing: clear action, sharp performances, and intelligent screenplays. Of course, the studio is allowed their mistakes after so many successes (here’s lookin’ at you, Iron Man 2), but more often than not, Marvel nails it, especially in their set-up for the long awaited Avengers film. We’ve had Iron Man, Black Widow and The Incredible Hulk, we’re getting Captain America, and now we have Thor – the god of thunder. Not just thunder, but lightening and fertility and strength (thanks, Wikipedia). And if anyone can embody fertility, strength, and inclement weather, it’s Chris Hemsworth. Tall, blond, beefy – he has to be the ideal casting – and in a film racked with political intrigue, light hearted hysteria, and Shakespearean grandeur, Kenneth Branagh has to be the ideal director. Read More

Inception – One Simple Idea, Quite Simply A Masterpiece

Posted 18 Jul 2010 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Jason A. Hill

Inception, USA / UK, 2010

leonardo dicaprio

In a story, and especially in screenwriting, writers often have a concept they refer to as the “controlling idea.” This is an idea that boils down all the complexity of a movie to one idea, one sentence.

In Inception, director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Memento) has crafted a story whose “controlling idea” is a controlling idea. That is, “an idea, planted deep enough into a person’s subconscious, will grow like a virus and become the very center of that person’s existence,” which is referred to as “inception.” This loop of meanings is just the surface of what is a multi-layered labyrinth of a plot, and can become very confusing for much of the audience this film will entertain. But if you can get past the vast complexity of the plot, where Nolan has spared no expense in giving plenty of action, suspense, and drama, you will have seen quite possibly the best sci-fi film in ten years. I know that’s a bold statement, and considering its very good but relatively tame 84% rating from RottenTomatoes.com’s composite of various critics’ reviews, it is still yet to be determined how it will resonate with viewers over the next few weeks. But having seen it for myself, I already know another viewing will be necessary to fully grasp all this film has to offer, and I may write another article just to explain. For now, I will try to justify my high praise for this film and attempt to apply the inception that it is not to be missed!

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