Monthly Archives: May 2013

Terse Movie Review – Bronson, dir. by Nicolas Winding Refn

Bronson poster.jpg

It’s not usual for me to comment on the DVD of a film in the stead of reviewing the film, but for Bronson, which is a pretty good movie, carried by a magnetic and awe-inspiring performance by Tom Hardy, a philosophical point on DVD extras seems appropriate.

It has always baffled my why so films shot in English but with a foreign accent — British, Australian, etc. — show up in America without English subtitles.  Just because we’re speaking the same basic language doesn’t mean that language is easy to understand when spoken with a different accent.  See. e.g., Bronson.

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Terse Movie Review – Robot & Frank, dir. by

Robot and frank poster.jpg

Just because this series is called ‘Terse Movie Reviews’ doesn’t mean I necessarily have to be negatively critical — in fact, I don’t have to be critical at all.  And with Robot & Frank, how can you possibly be?

Wonderfully charming, with great, subtle work from Frank Langella — get to the end of the film and you see how subtle it really was — that is also funny, tender, and a bit sad.  And in a way, it made me think of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the notion that, if two people are really meant to be together, they’ll find each other, no matter what’s happened.

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Terse Movie Review – The Queen of Versailles, dir. by Lauren Greenfield


Easily the best film about two people you want to punch in the mouth.  Especially the wife.  The husband?  Not as much.  I actually feel sorry for him, but since he’s her enabler, he has to get one.  Just for good measure.

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The Best Picture Project – The Greatest Show On Earth (1952)

Greatest.gifDirected by Cecil B. DeMille

Screenplay by Fredric M. Frank &  Barré Lyndon   &  Theodore St. John, story by Fredric M. Frank   &  Theodore St. John   & Frank Cavett

Starring Charlton Heston,

It’s a fact: sit around and talk to anybody about the Oscars long enough and eventually you’ll get around to arguing over which was the worst Best Picture Winner – that I s, which was the worst film to win in a given year.  Inevitably, people in my generation, or at least those with no sense of history, will make strong arguments for Crash, Shakespeare in Love or maybe Titanic being the worst choices in recent memory.  Those with any real sense of history will instead bandy about two other choices:

  1. Citizen Kane, one of which is arguably the greatest film of all time,  being bested by How Green Was My Valley, a film that isn’t even one of the five best films by its own director – for John Ford, his best films obviously include The Grapes of Wrath, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, and one of about ten other films not named How Green Was My Valley.
  2. The Greatest Show On Earth winning Best Picture over Ford’s own The Quiet Man and a little Gary Cooper movie called High Noon.

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Terse Movie Review – In The Loop, dir. by Armando Iannucii

Official UK poster, showing some of the main cast (left to right: James Gandolfini, Anna Chlumsky, Tom Hollander, Peter Capaldi and Steve Coogan).

I came to this movie after digesting the first season of Veep over the course of two days with my wife on DVD — Veep and In the Loop share the same creator, if you didn’t know.

Anyway, think of In The Loop as being like Veep, only with a different cast of characters, and where the stakes aren’t whether the vice-president is pregnant or getting a clean jobs bill passed — in this instance, it’s war.

For those who haven’t seen Veep, think of In The Loop as being The Office — American or British version only more insane, and instead of selling paper, they’re selling war.

Also, as a creepy, there-are-some-thoughts-you-should-keep-to-yourself side-note — definitely into Anna Chlumsky.

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Terse Movie Review – Pain And Gain, Dir. By Michael Bay

Pain & Gain film poster.jpg

I know this is going to sound absurd, in the same way as saying that of all the mass murders in the world, one of them is not as bad as the others — because can any mass murderer truly be better or worse than another? — but seriously, Pain and Gain might just be the best movie Michael Bay ever directed.

In the past I’ve had a mixed relationship with Michael Bay — see this for proof — and I had good reason to feel the way I did.  After all, of late he’s done nothing to really inspire me to change my mind.  I mean, with three straight Transformers movies to his name, it was starting to look like he’d basically given up any shred of integrity he ever had.  If he ever had any to begin with.

But with Pain and Gain, which I only saw because the tickets were basically free, I was pleasantly surprised  — I guess that’s the advantages of lowered-expectations.  Sure, it’s got all the usual over-the-top excess and fetishization of women and cops and guns his other movies have, but for once Bay’s style and the subject matter come together perfectly.  And as much as I loved The Island, and as much as I liked Pearl Harbor — I’m not ashamed to admit I liked it, even if I might’ve been the only one — Pain and Gain might just be better than both.  It’s energetic, it’s witty, it’s fast paced, has chemistry and charisma to spare, all held together by deliriously-unhinged and intensely-watchable performances from Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, and catchy supporting turns from Stanley Tucci and Rebel Wilson.

My only issue: it’s too long.  Sordid excess has it’s limits and in this case, clipping out about ten minutes of the film wouldn’t have hurt it at all.

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The Best Picture Project – Wings (1927/1928)

Directed by William Wellman

Written by Hope Loring and Louis Lighton, from a story by John Monk Saunders

Starring Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, Richard Arlen, Clara Bow and Gary Cooper

Some movies deserve the scorn heaped upon them.  After all, they’ve been given every chance to succeed, been given all the money to succeed, and failed and deserve to whither on the vine and die.  These would the pretentious, the superficially-important, and the later-career Michael Bay movies — in other words, films that could have — should have — been better, but just weren’t. Continue reading

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Terse Movie Review – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: The Double Feature

 Tinkertailor.jpg Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Poster.jpg

Well, actually not a double feature, given that it would have made for 8 hours or more of viewing in one day if I’d taken in these two films back-to-back, though I did watch them over a successive number of days during the course of one week.  Still, it was close enough. Continue reading

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