Posts Tagged ‘Seth Rogen’

Ezra’s Top 10 Favorite Films of 2012

Posted 15 Feb 2013 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Grey is nothing but desolate Alaskan wilderness and people being brutally murdered by wolves for two hours. What's not to love?I’ve been making these lists, in one form or another, for a dozen years now, and every year I’ve done my best to balance my own personal preferences with an objective and educated view of cinema in order to recommend not only my personal favorite films of any given year, but also those I believe to be the best. Well, no more! This year, and forever onward, I strive to give you only my own subjective favorites, the films that I have watched and am likely to watch over and over again throughout the years. When I look back over the last five years, for example, I have to admit that these have proven to be my actual favorite films, despite what I may have written at the time in an effort to recognize other worthy cinematic achievements to which I may or may not have returned even once in the years since: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007); The Dark Knight (2008); Inglourious Basterds (2009); Dogtooth (2010); and Drive (2011).

Of those five, only Dogtooth actually topped my list at the time. So, with this in mind, I present my favorite films of 2012, in all their highly subjective glory. Since ranking films in order of preference is often at least somewhat arbitrary, I should admit that some of these may have made it into the top 10, rather than the runner-up category, solely because they were more fun to write about. However, my top 5 is solidly made up of films I have already seen at least twice, and feel strongly that I would be more than happy to watch again at absolutely any time. Read More

Six Months On A Regimen Of Woman Filmmakers – Sarah Polley

Posted 21 Jul 2012 — by contributor
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Alice Shindelar

Sarah Polley has a knack for symbolism that would seem superfluous in dialogue, too on-the-nose, but which plays out beautifully in her imagesAway from Her, Canada / UK / USA, 2006

Written and Directed by Sarah Polley

Based on the Story The Bear Came Over the Mountain by Alice Munro

Take This Waltz, Canada / Spain / Japan, 2011

Written and Directed by Sarah Polley

Once in a while, an artist comes along who gives voice to your world, to your experience of life, better than you can imagine ever being capable of, and you’re left exposed. Young writer-director Sarah Polley did this to me with her second film, Take This Waltz, and then again when I subsequently saw her first film, Away from Her.

Away from Her, Polley’s faithful adaptation of Alice Munro’s short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain, follows Grant (Gordon Pinsent) as he watches Fiona (Julie Christie), to whom he’s been married since their twenties, descend into the throes of Alzheimer’s Disease. Forgotten, Grant travels through memories of their marriage as he stands by and watches his wife love a fellow patient at the nursing home, Aubrey (Michael Murphy). Like all marriages, Grant and Fiona’s wasn’t a perfect one, but the moments we spend with them in their home before she’s checked into the hospital, their quiet hours, the spark of lust between them that doesn’t need to lead to sex before they sleep, provides witness to the survival of their love – a weathered love. Amongst many other awards, Julie Christie (Darling, Dr. Zhivago) was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Fiona. She nails the role in her ability to let Fiona’s memories fall away with a grace that appears so effortless one cannot doubt the fear and pain she must feel. When you witness the maturity and insight with which this story is told, it’s next to impossible to believe that Polley was only 26 when she made it, and to top it off, it was her first feature.  Read More

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

The Green Hornet

Posted 09 May 2011 — by Nicole P
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

The Green Hornet, USA, 2011The Green Hornet 2011 Movie

Directed by Michel Gondry

It takes a certain kind of film to make me question the state of a genre. Certain horror movies make question the audiences that attend them, and certain movies that go on to win Oscars make me question the voters, but not since 1990’s Captain America (a horrid movie starring Matt Salinger as the first Avenger) have I sat down and thought about the state of a genre. I remember seeing that and being thankful that even after such a gigantic misfire we’re still allowed Batman movies and Spider-Man movies and even another Captain America film (which appears to be infinitely better). The Green Hornet, you should know, is one of those certain films – I’ve seen it twice now and both times I’ve thought to myself, “Is this the state of the superhero film? This is what we’ve come to?”

Michel Gondry, by all accounts, is an astonishing director; he’s a visionary. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the best films of the last ten or so years, and far and away the best film of 2004. The Science of Sleep (2006) is gorgeous. The Green Hornet is misguided and full of itself, but I mostly blame Seth Rogen for that. Rogen co-wrote, co-produced, and stars as Britt Reid, our hero (?), who puts on a mask and a trenchcoat and fights crime by pretending to be a criminal. I have no problem with the story at all; I’m a fan of The Green Hornet series and radio show and all other incarnations thereof. However, seeing it brought to this shameless level makes me wonder why it had to be done in the first place. My guess is that it was solely designed as a vehicle for Rogen, which doesn’t even make any sense because audiences already know him. He’s famous, and can open a film on his own. I generally enjoy him, specifically in supporting roles – Knocked Up (2007) is the exception that proves the rule. Read More

Paul

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

By Scott Martin

Paul, Spain / France / UK / USA, 2011

Directed by Greg Mottola

Paul is the new feature from director Greg Mottola.

Paul is the simple story of an alien with an attitude and a heart of gold. In fact, the entire point of the film is so sweet that it seems almost impossible to believe that most of the film itself is crude, and partly cruel. Unlike Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007), which were helmed by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have brought us an eager “who said it” film filled with countless references and … political poignancy. All this, from Superbad (2007) and Adventureland (2009) director Greg Mottola. Mottola’s filmography is small, but consistent – he’s a comedian’s director with a lot of his own to say. That’s a form of direction I’ve always appreciated; the ability to let others shine while imbuing your own specific messages into the forefront. But here, Paul has mismatched its intent with its delivery. And that, in retrospect, hinders a positive remembrance of the film.

When I saw this film about a couple of weeks ago, I remember that I laughed throughout. It’s a funny, sharp, and deliriously rich comedy. With the talents of Pegg, Frost, and Mottola, we also get Bill Hader, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Sigourney Weaver, David Koechner, and Seth Rogen’s voice as the alien Paul. Outside of Pegg, Frost, Rogen, and Wiig, all of the other actors have borderline cameo roles, but are given enough material to stretch their legs and get the ball rolling. Read More