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Thursday, Jan 31, 2013
As it stands, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a thoroughly engaging, often rip-roaring, old school yarn. It's got scope, excitement, and above all, emotional heft.

From the moment it (finally) ended, fans frothed over the idea of Peter Jackson taking on the rest of Tolkien’s literary world. The New Zealand auteur, previously best known for his outrageous horror films, had successfully translated the mammoth Lord of the Rings into a trio of terrific films, earning billions of dollars, numerous accolades, and several Oscars in the process. So why wouldn’t Jackson want to take on The Hobbit, the famed “kiddie novel” that started it all? Well, for one thing, he didn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a fantasy filmmaker solely. Also, the idea of taking on another massive moviemaking project just didn’t appeal to the director. He was tired. So he handed over the challenge to friend Guillermo Del Toro - and the countdown to the Mexican geek maverick’s take on Bilbo Baggins and his trek through Middle Earth began…


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Monday, Jan 28, 2013
The end result is a joy ride through the ridiculous, a movie whose meaning may be lost in the manner in which it's approached.

In a future world where people pay others to “perform” for them,  Mr. Oscar (a brilliant Denis Lavant) is tired. As he rides around in his stretch limousine, his faithful driver Celine (Edit Scob) making sure he stays on schedule,  he puts on various masks and make-up personas, the better to serve his client’s needs. Over the course of this very long day, he will “play” a grieving father, a CG stand-in for virtual porn, a diabolical criminal, a jaunty accordionist, and perhaps most significantly, a deformed fool who seduces a supermodel (Eva Mendes),  taking her to a graveyard for some surreal, pseudo-sexual bonding. All the while, he sighs and struggles, his efforts becoming more and more wearisome, his tasks taking over and draining him of his true personality.


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Monday, Jan 21, 2013
As we continue with our look at some year end favorites, we stumble upon Quentin Tarantino's latest... and make no mistake about it, Django Unchained is a joy. It's fun and foolish, unhinged and unapologetic.

As he makes his way through the memory bank of recollected movie genres, Quentin Tarantino argues for his place as cinema’s greatest thief. Not that this is a bad thing. Indeed, his legitimate larceny has amped at least two generations of fanboys and girls to revisit past masters in a way no other filmmaker has found. He inspires inquiry, asking for the clueless and clued in to play along with his game of spot the homage. With canvases so broad - crime, WWII, The Shaw Brothers - he’s managed to make his name off the obvious references of those who came before. And yet, like any great chef, he doesn’t merely mimic. He pours over previous recipes, extracting the best bits to turn into his own masterful (and tasty) creations. They may seem similar, but they remain wholly his own.


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Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013
Between now and the Oscars, we will be revisiting the films that make the 2012 Awards Season sizzle. This time out, we look at Kathryn Bigelow's amazing follow-up to her previous Best Picture Winner, The Hurt Locker

In 2008, Kathryn Bigelow’s career was at a concerning crossroads. Her last film, 2002’s poorly received K-19: The Widowmaker was considered a major box office bomb, and the heyday of such classics as Near Dark (and for some, Strange Days and Point Break) were decades past. Life is hard enough for a female filmmaker in the male dominated dominion of Tinseltown, let alone for a perceived failure whose best work was a distant memory. Then came The Hurt Locker, and things changed dramatically. Bigelow went from pariah to pioneer, becoming the first woman EVER to win the Oscar for Best Director. Some argued her nomination and victory were part of some calculated mea culpa conspiracy on the part of paternalistic Hollywood. With her stellar follow-up, the amazing Zero Dark Thirty, such silliness should be put to rest once and for all. It’s a brilliant thriller by a more than capable moviemaker, gender be damned.


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Wednesday, Nov 28, 2012
The twist ending in recent films: Delightful? Or Disingenuous?

There is nothing new about the trick or “twist” ending. Long before Pam Ewing ‘dreamt’ an entire season of Dallas or the Ape Planet turned out to be Earth all along, filmmakers and novelists were pulling the rug out from under unsuspecting readers/viewers with their last act switheroos. In general, people like a good plot ploy. Being able to see events in a totally differently light can bring both clarity and a sense of calm. Suddenly, the weird way a character was acting is explained away. Similarly, a side element not easily recognizable quickly comes into focus, arguing for its ability to con you just as easily as the creative wizard working behind the media scrim.


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