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  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon

    Transformers: Dark of the Moon

    ★½

    Offensive tripe. The underlying purpose for any Transformers motion picture is to sell toys. That's it. And if you're making a toy commercial that's TWO AND A HALF HOURS LONG, you need to either give it an extraordinarily compelling story or make it consistently entertaining by poking fun at your ludicrous excess in spending millions upon millions of dollars on it. Now, Bay is not good with serious storytelling, and his excesses tend to work best when executed tongue in…

  • Boogie Nights

    Boogie Nights

    ★★★½

    A very ambitious film, this is overall very well-made, but Anderson's relative immaturity as a feature filmmaker is apparent and detracts from the general impressiveness. He overindulges in visual acrobatics, his roving camera voraciously devouring as much of the mise-en-scène as it can. It's great camerawork, but a good number of the flourishes are superfluous and stretch their moments longer than necessary. The brief quick-shot montages punctuate the film wonderfully, but the images they repeat, such as camera lenses and…

  • Moonrise Kingdom

    Moonrise Kingdom

    ★★★★

    Probably Anderson's best in my estimation (I still have yet to see Life Aquatic and Tenenbaums). Usually his aesthetic, heavy with forced artifice and quirkiness, annoys me, but it works remarkably well with the children's story here. The film makes great use of a staging of 'Noye's Fludde,' and Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts are used wonderfully (his 'Carnival of the Animals' carries a special place in my heart from my own childhood). Roman Coppola is a much better writing partner for Anderson than the smug Baumbach; here they conjure a movie of genuine warmth, humor and wonder.

  • Spring Breakers

    Spring Breakers

    ★★★★

    Spring Breakers is an extravagant film that manages often quite well to strike that precarious balance between irreverence and sincerity in examining the culture of trashy hedonism that for some might exemplify what the American Dream has come to. The narrative resembles a parody of both 'escape' fantasy and 'values'-oriented people's fears of the ramifications of youth culture - teen restlessness and disconnect from family leads to crime, signifying overall 'societal degradation' (as one IMDb viewer, who takes the message…

  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    ★★★

    This is a pretty bad movie, but it's rather compelling if you're interested in the transitions in adaptation from stage to screen and in 'film-within-a-film' narrative techniques. The main story, the Joseph story, is presented as a 'play' performed for schoolchildren, who are the 'outer' audience yet also participate in the play as Joseph enters their environment and they enter the performance at certain points. The narrator occupies both worlds as well. The adults in the 'outer' environment are the…

  • Brave

    Brave

    ★★★★

    After my relative disappointment with Up, I was rather surprised by how much I liked this. The film is exhilarating in its early stages. It becomes less so once the rather standard main plot sets in, and the film is clearly disjointed, but the movie remains engaging and enjoyable. Once again, the movement of the camera/viewing-eye is wondrous - it's Pixar's specialty, and better here, I think, than it was in Up - and the humor is impeccable for the…

  • Night Across the Street

    Night Across the Street

    ★★★★½

    The late Raúl Ruiz's final film is a perfect way to draw a cinematic life to a close. It's a beautiful meditation on approaching the end of one's life, with memories, dreams and phantasms of the mind exquisitely interwoven. We often can't really tell which is which amidst the film's quirky and surreal humor, which is also sustained throughout. The film is characterized by languid camera movement with meticulous scene choreography and composition; unanticipated revelations lie just around corners and…