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Old 08-31-2013, 09:13 PM   #33821
DjMethod DjMethod is offline
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From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)

[Show spoiler]Fans of Studio Ghibli won't have had much chance to see From Up on Poppy Hill. It enjoyed a brief limited release in theaters a few months ago, but the Blu-ray release on September 3rd will allow many other fans to check it out. I've seen it twice over the past two days and I urge Ghibli fans to buy the Blu-ray.

From Up on Poppy Hill looks like a Studio Ghibli film, and packs quite an emotional punch, but don't expect to see the fantasy element present in most of the studio's classics. This is more like Whisper of the Heart than Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro. The film is populated by good people doing good things, and there's not a villain in sight. It will appeal to anyone who remembers their childhood, school, young love, and friendship. Like most Ghibli films, it's full of great messages for us and our children.


Umi Matsuzaki (Bolger) is an eleventh-grader, living in 1963 Yokohama; she takes care of her family and a few boarders while her mother is away studying in the US. She cooks and cleans while trying to maintain her good grades, and is a responsible young woman. One day in school, she meets Shun Kazama (Yelchin). He performs a daredevil stunt to try to gain support for his campaign to save a clubhouse used by him and his friends. Umi and Shun form a friendship that is the heart of the film, but the story isn't quite so simple. This is not just a tale of teen romance; it's the story of a group of young people pulling together to achieve a common goal. Some of the twists are unexpected, and considerably more complicated than those found in typical animated fare.

One of Umi's habits is to raise flags on the pole on her balcony to signal to ships passing in the harbor. I had better not reveal the reason for that, but it's far from trivial and will help you to empathize with her situation. Umi's world is constantly changing. Her small town has a real community feel, and it's common for people to be friendly and help one another in their daily lives. The bigger picture shows Tokyo preparing for the 1964 Olympics, so there's constant pressure to join modern society and leave behind some of the antiquated life that Umi is used to.


One of the high points is seeing how the students work together to renovate their dirty old clubhouse, and the daring way in which Shun, Umi, and a friend attempt to get their message heard by someone who is actually in a position to make a difference.

Some of the themes in From Up on Poppy Hill are pretty serious. I know that I have probably failed to capture the interest of many readers, because this is another Studio Ghibli film without significant conflict. Instead of an evil villain, we are shown some of the problems young people might face while growing up. One twist is heartbreaking, and I won't dare reveal it here. However, I will say that by the end of the film, the mood is extremely positive. Like all good dramas, there must be some challenges and heartbreak in order for us to appreciate the good things in life. When the film ended, I was smiling. I wish my world could be as idyllic and charming.


I'm sure some of you are wondering about Goro Miyazaki's direction, and whether the future of Studio Ghibli is in good hands with Hayao Miyazaki (72) and Toshio Suzuki (65) probably approaching the end of their careers. Goro Miyazaki received plenty of criticism for Tales of Earthsea (2006), and openly admitted that he played it safe and didn't try to extend himself. From Up on Poppy Hill is a much stronger effort, and I hope it enables him to produce works of similar quality in the future. Hayao Miyazaki wrote the screenplay with Keiko Niwa, and I'm sure that it helps make the film feel familiar, and as warm as other Studio Ghibli entries.

Many of the established Ghibli traits are present. I love that the female characters are so strong; something that Pixar could learn from. The importance of family, friendship, and mutual respect is always on display. The young and the old both have a place in the world, and they care about one another. Notice also the scenes involving food. I can remember so many similar scenes from other Ghibli films. Perhaps they are present to remind us how good something as simple as a pleasant meal can be? There's also an umbrella; it's amazing how often they appear in Ghibli's other worlds.

Before I close, I must mention the Blu-ray special edition. Unlike most US Ghibli releases, this one is released by GKids and Cinedigm. The picture quality is wonderful, and the audio features both US and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 mixes. I was startled a couple of times by the immersive output from the rear speakers. The package includes a DVD, so you can introduce a new fan to Ghibli, and a rather informative 16-page booklet. Hayao Miyazaki talks about how the project originated, and Goro talks about his work on the film. The special features total more than three hours, and include the film in storyboard form, plus interviews with Goro Miyazaki and Hayao Miyazaki. For those who like to watch the film in the original language, the subtitles are white and unobtrusive.


Ghibli fans, or anyone who cares about life, people, and good storytelling, should not miss this release.

Overall score 4.5/5
Very nice review Steve. I can't wait to see this one again.

Did you see the lengthy trailer for The Wind Rises? Incredibly stoked for that one.
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:16 PM   #33822
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Very nice review Steve. I can't wait to see this one again.

Did you see the lengthy trailer for The Wind Rises? Incredibly stoked for that one.
Nope, but I can hardly wait to see it
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:19 PM   #33823
DjMethod DjMethod is offline
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Note: I'll be making some edits soon..



[Show spoiler]Upon skimming the production credits, I was confident this would be yet another lightweight Sundance summer romance. Helmed by the director of a couple well acted yet plodding sobriety dramas, adapted by the writer of (500) Days of Summer, and starring a pair of up-and-coming young actors, I thought this would be yet another quirk-fest about two diametrically opposed lovers that hurdle arbitrary obstacles (and montages) en route to true love. Simply put, my hunch couldn't have been more ill-founded. Each moment of The Spectacular Now is rooted in such disarming human interest for each of its characters. I expect as much from a marital drama about an over-the-hill couple, but not from a film about under twenty-somethings. What a lovely surprise!

Miles Teller (whom was electric in Rabbit Hole) stars as Sutter Keely, a high school senior with no ther interest but to live in the "spectacular now." His attention is so fixed on his social appearance that he neglects his studies, specifically his geometry class, often with the aid of a flask he keeps in his pocket at all times. This naturally causes a schism between him and his girlfriend, Cassidy, who lets him go in front of a dozen onlookers at a weekend house-party. In a town where people are referred to with their first and last name, such an event would keep a sensible person in their shell for the next several months, but not the cocksure Sutter. Immediately afterward, he begins his pursuit for a rebound at any bar he can coax the bartenders into.

One morning after a debauched night, he finds himself awoken by caring fellow classmate Aimee Finecky while on her paper route (which is actually her mother's, but true to her nature, she feels obligated to help). This scene is only one of the plethora that subtly avert sobriety and relationship drama tropes by keeping the encounter small and avoiding unnecessary melodrama. Screenwriter Scott Neustadter doesn't hand Aimee words of judgement to cast upon the wayward Sutter. She is genuinely endeared to him and that doesn't preclude his vices.

Back at school, the two happen to lock eyes from across the cafeteria, he walks over with the intention to get to know her. Their subsequent conversation informs the heart-on-a-sleeve honesty that will blossom over the course of the film. Sutter inquires what her "thing" is, which clique or group she identifies with. She answers simply that she has none. It is at this very moment that chills ran over my body and my eyes began to well up—which admittedly happened frequently, I must admit—at the level of empathy and human understanding on display. Too many films are broadly pitched today, not just by offering endless character archetypes, but selling themselves by the promise of even more in their marketing campaign. The Spectacular Now breaks free from both this calcifying impersonal mainstream mold and that of the indies riddled with a limitless stream of affectless quirk by rooting itself in reality. Even characters which normally get the shaft—his ex-girlfriend, her new boyfriend—were given their own arcs. The Spectacular Now proves building great characters should always be a priority. To wield yet another cliche, all of this came as a welcome respite from a summer season populated by big, dumb spectacle heavy blockbusters.

Aimee (like all great Aimees) harbors no self-doubt. She isn't yet another Molly Ringwald-type that buries the unflattering details about herself away from her lover to see. She likes comics and is proudly a straight-A student. In a scene midway through the film, over a dinner she reveals to Sutter's older sister (Mary Elizabeth Winestead, star of Ponsoldt's last film) and her lawyer husband, two virtual strangers, her goals of eventually working for NASA and operating a horse ranch. Sutter loves her for all of this, using foreign words such as "beautiful" when describing her to his best friend, but elements in his past (which also explain his dependency on alcohol) keep him from moving past the "now" and setting up groundwork, a game-plan, for the future. The way Ponsoldt subtly reveals the layers of Sutter's insecurities and his possible way out is a deft stroke of magic.

Further building the strong emotional core and detailing a real, lived-in place is Jess Hall's fine cinematography. Seemingly birthed out of a sweet memory; Athens, Georgia and its tightly knit community provide an arresting backdrop to a familiar story. K-Marts and has stations stand out against the lush green vegetation like asteroids in a vacant field. It is a place as virginally pure as Aimee herself—whom has never had a boyfriend before Sutter. This is only suiting as The Spectacular Now is a timeless romance. Little in the way of modern technology (save the Apple computer Sutter types his college application on) or pop songs are to be found here.

So, the film doesn't go for the expressionistic kill, grand gesture,by incorporating a musical moment akin to John Cusack blasting the wistful crooning of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" outside Ione Sky's windowsill, but that's what makes this film so special. Even at its most melodramatic, I never felt disconnected from its confessional intimacy; refreshingly, it stays small. The film harkens back to the similarly premised Say Anthing... in more ways than one—while gifted a light, inviting tone, both films are clearly reigned by a sensitive spirit whom understands the plight of that crossroads-age. The Spectacular Now is this generation's Say Anything... Coming from me, that is the highest compliment I can possibly bestow.


Loved, loved this film. However, I didn't like how quickly it ended after certain emotional punches. I also thought the
[Show spoiler]accident
was sloppily edited.
2017:
mother! | The Work | The Shape of Water | Lady Bird | The Killing of a Sacred Deer | Call Me By Your Name | Logan | Loveless | Blade Runner 2049 | Coco
All-Time
:
Amour | The Fountain | Modern Times | Princess Mononoke | Hiroshima Mon Amour | The Lion King | City Lights | Ghost in the Shell | The Artist | Alien | Babel | Persona | The Wrestler | Blood Diamond | Mulholland Drive | Amelie | Bicycle Thieves | Blue Valentine | Paprika | The Raid
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:21 PM   #33824
DjMethod DjMethod is offline
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Nope, but I can hardly wait to see it
You're welcome

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All-Time
:
Amour | The Fountain | Modern Times | Princess Mononoke | Hiroshima Mon Amour | The Lion King | City Lights | Ghost in the Shell | The Artist | Alien | Babel | Persona | The Wrestler | Blood Diamond | Mulholland Drive | Amelie | Bicycle Thieves | Blue Valentine | Paprika | The Raid
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:25 PM   #33825
DjMethod DjMethod is offline
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Short Term 12 (2013)
dir. Destin Cretton

[Show spoiler]
The Good: Brie Larson shines in an award-worthy performance as a supervisor of a foster home for at-risk teenagers. Larson's Grace is all calm and composed on the outside, but in reality, she's been battling some really dark inner demons of her own, internalizing the pain, and is on the verge of a meltdown. You'll empathize with her. You'll fall for her. You'll instantly become a fan. This is her Martha Marcy May Marlene. This is her Winter's Bone. Superb supporting turns from John Gallagher Jr., Rami Malek, and Alex Calloway, as well as a couple of breakout performances from Kaitlyn Dever and Keith Stanfield. Refreshingly believable and naturalistic aesthetic. Excellent character development. All the kids and supervisors are so fleshed out, you end up being emotionally invested in each and every one of them. Revelatory writing and direction by Destin Cretton, who based the film on his real-life experiences while working at a short term care facility. Favorite moments are Mason's (Gallagher) anecdotes, all the scenes involving newcomer Nate (Malek), Marcus' (Stanfield) emotionally raw and heartfelt rap, and Jayden's (Dever) octopus story -- hands down, the most depressing "children's story" ever written.

The Bad: Nothing major.

The Bottom Line: Other than Richard Linklater's incredible sequel Before Midnight, Short Term 12 is the only film this year to make me truly care about its characters. Characters you'll smile and laugh along with during their fleeting moments of happiness. Characters you'll feel really shitty for when they're down in the dumps. Characters who'll deeply move you. Characters who'll stay with you. Characters who feel so real, you'll forget what you're watching isn't a documentary -- it's all just acting, and some really ****ing good acting at that. Recommended.


I heard all about this one on NPR the other day. I want to check it out soon. Apparently she is the ex from Spectacular Now?
2017:
mother! | The Work | The Shape of Water | Lady Bird | The Killing of a Sacred Deer | Call Me By Your Name | Logan | Loveless | Blade Runner 2049 | Coco
All-Time
:
Amour | The Fountain | Modern Times | Princess Mononoke | Hiroshima Mon Amour | The Lion King | City Lights | Ghost in the Shell | The Artist | Alien | Babel | Persona | The Wrestler | Blood Diamond | Mulholland Drive | Amelie | Bicycle Thieves | Blue Valentine | Paprika | The Raid
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:31 PM   #33826
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Pitch Black (2000)
dir. David Twohy


The Bad:Odd stylistic choices, such as the editing and the distracting use of color filters.
I think the color and harsh contrast choices make the atmosphere five star. It is a scorched planet with multiple suns after all.
Because Calamari Marionette Ph.D sounded pompous, that's why.
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:33 PM   #33827
DjMethod DjMethod is offline
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[Show spoiler]Ideally, I would be writing about the 130 minute Chinese cut, but alas, due to Harvey Weinstein's lack of confidence in American audiences, I will briefly discuss the heavily truncated 108 minute version. It is immediately obvious where the clunky inter-titles and voice-over have replaced Wong Kar-Wai's signature brand of visual storytelling. During these stretches, the emotions did not land with the impassioned fervor I expect they would have had I been watching the original cut, but I was able to glide over them and soak in all the good. Traces of modern cinema's finest sensualist can be found here in the form of the expected highly saturated color palate and impressionistic editing into several camera feeds (especially during the action scenes).

The reasons I so desperately want to see the longer cut lie within the ways Wong Kar-Wai (whom also aided in writing the screenplay) diverges from the common impression of the Grandmaster (played by legendary actor, Tony Leung), which director Wilson Yip's Ip Man series has been partially responsible for. As opposed to portraying yet another traditional lone master martial-artist, the filmmakers place emphasis on his psychology—how he thinks during fights and how he sees the world. There is added emphasis (after, of course, the flurry of near incomprehensible exposition about the politics of the North and South schools of fighting) on the way Yip Man's life intersects with others, specifically, Gong Yutian's daughter, Gong Er. Initially a dynamic of rivalry, it becomes one of longing (a "dream of love") once Yip Man leaves the Gold Pavilion and the second Sino-Japanese War further drives a wedge between the two.

It is here where the film truly takes flight, and could possibly prove revelatory on e I see the Chinese cut. Sure, thematically it may only be a rehash of Wong Kar-Wai's earlier work—especially In the Mood for Love—but it is significantly more involving than the barrage of exposition and suffocating visuals (yes, the interiors of the Gold Pavilion are stunning, but after a while it almost felt like I was trapped therein). All scenes with Zhang Ziyi (most famous for her turn as Jen Yu in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) landed with rapturous crackle. Though not working with longtime cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, the look is in keeping with Wong Kar-Wai's other films. Philippe Le Sourde not only does a fine job of bottling Tony Leung's and Zhang Ziyi's sullen expressions, the way he captures the natural forces that surround them—rain and snow particularly—is downright awe-inspiring.

The music, here, may ultimately do too much with its ever-escalating sting sections, but it feels in tune with the melodramatic filtering of Yip Man's life (which I quite frankly prefer over the head crushing action thrills of the Ip Man series). The lifting of Ennio Morricone's soaring romantic theme from Once Upon a Time in America for the film's epilogue (or extended epilogue seeing as this film has about three) proves very effective even though the full breadth of emotions are not earned.
To reiterate, my problems with the lumpy storytelling may all be absolved once I see the original version. I plan on reporting back once I do so because there are elements of definitely elements of greatness here.

Lol "lumpy storytelling." Sounds like Ashes of Time- my only sour Wong Kar Wai experience.

I had to miss a sneak peek of this the other week... Very much looking forward to it!
2017:
mother! | The Work | The Shape of Water | Lady Bird | The Killing of a Sacred Deer | Call Me By Your Name | Logan | Loveless | Blade Runner 2049 | Coco
All-Time
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Amour | The Fountain | Modern Times | Princess Mononoke | Hiroshima Mon Amour | The Lion King | City Lights | Ghost in the Shell | The Artist | Alien | Babel | Persona | The Wrestler | Blood Diamond | Mulholland Drive | Amelie | Bicycle Thieves | Blue Valentine | Paprika | The Raid
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:46 PM   #33828
DjMethod DjMethod is offline
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I am between Netflix discs of Bordwalk Empire, so I am finally going to watch two movies tonight.

Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro.
[Show spoiler]







2017:
mother! | The Work | The Shape of Water | Lady Bird | The Killing of a Sacred Deer | Call Me By Your Name | Logan | Loveless | Blade Runner 2049 | Coco
All-Time
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Amour | The Fountain | Modern Times | Princess Mononoke | Hiroshima Mon Amour | The Lion King | City Lights | Ghost in the Shell | The Artist | Alien | Babel | Persona | The Wrestler | Blood Diamond | Mulholland Drive | Amelie | Bicycle Thieves | Blue Valentine | Paprika | The Raid
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:47 PM   #33829
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From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
[Show spoiler]Animation, Drama, Family, 92 minutes
Directed by Goro Miyazaki
Starring the voices (US dub) of Sarah Bolger, Anton Yelchin, Gillian Anderson, Ron Howard, Beau Bridges and Isabelle Fuhrman

Fans of Studio Ghibli won't have had much chance to see From Up on Poppy Hill. It enjoyed a brief limited release in theaters a few months ago, but the Blu-ray release on September 3rd will allow many other fans to check it out. I've seen it twice over the past two days and I urge Ghibli fans to buy the Blu-ray.

From Up on Poppy Hill looks like a Studio Ghibli film, and packs quite an emotional punch, but don't expect to see the fantasy element present in most of the studio's classics. This is more like Whisper of the Heart than Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro. The film is populated by good people doing good things, and there's not a villain in sight. It will appeal to anyone who remembers their childhood, school, young love, and friendship. Like most Ghibli films, it's full of great messages for us and our children.


Umi Matsuzaki (Bolger) is an eleventh-grader, living in 1963 Yokohama; she takes care of her family and a few boarders while her mother is away studying in the US. She cooks and cleans while trying to maintain her good grades, and is a responsible young woman. One day in school, she meets Shun Kazama (Yelchin). He performs a daredevil stunt to try to gain support for his campaign to save a clubhouse used by him and his friends. Umi and Shun form a friendship that is the heart of the film, but the story isn't quite so simple. This is not just a tale of teen romance; it's the story of a group of young people pulling together to achieve a common goal. Some of the twists are unexpected, and considerably more complicated than those found in typical animated fare.

One of Umi's habits is to raise flags on the pole on her balcony to signal to ships passing in the harbor. I had better not reveal the reason for that, but it's far from trivial and will help you to empathize with her situation. Umi's world is constantly changing. Her small town has a real community feel, and it's common for people to be friendly and help one another in their daily lives. The bigger picture shows Tokyo preparing for the 1964 Olympics, so there's constant pressure to join modern society and leave behind some of the antiquated life that Umi is used to.


One of the high points is seeing how the students work together to renovate their dirty old clubhouse, and the daring way in which Shun, Umi, and a friend attempt to get their message heard by someone who is actually in a position to make a difference.

Some of the themes in From Up on Poppy Hill are pretty serious. I know that I have probably failed to capture the interest of many readers, because this is another Studio Ghibli film without significant conflict. Instead of an evil villain, we are shown some of the problems young people might face while growing up. One twist is heartbreaking, and I won't dare reveal it here. However, I will say that by the end of the film, the mood is extremely positive. Like all good dramas, there must be some challenges and heartbreak in order for us to appreciate the good things in life. When the film ended, I was smiling. I wish my world could be as idyllic and charming.


I'm sure some of you are wondering about Goro Miyazaki's direction, and whether the future of Studio Ghibli is in good hands with Hayao Miyazaki (72) and Toshio Suzuki (65) probably approaching the end of their careers. Goro Miyazaki received plenty of criticism for Tales of Earthsea (2006), and openly admitted that he played it safe and didn't try to extend himself. From Up on Poppy Hill is a much stronger effort, and I hope it enables him to produce works of similar quality in the future. Hayao Miyazaki wrote the screenplay with Keiko Niwa, and I'm sure that it helps make the film feel familiar, and as warm as other Studio Ghibli entries.

Many of the established Ghibli traits are present. I love that the female characters are so strong; something that Pixar could learn from. The importance of family, friendship, and mutual respect is always on display. The young and the old both have a place in the world, and they care about one another. Notice also the scenes involving food. I can remember so many similar scenes from other Ghibli films. Perhaps they are present to remind us how good something as simple as a pleasant meal can be? There's also an umbrella; it's amazing how often they appear in Ghibli's other worlds.

Before I close, I must mention the Blu-ray special edition. Unlike most US Ghibli releases, this one is released by GKids and Cinedigm. The picture quality is wonderful, and the audio features both US and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 mixes. I was startled a couple of times by the immersive output from the rear speakers. The package includes a DVD, so you can introduce a new fan to Ghibli, and a rather informative 16-page booklet. Hayao Miyazaki talks about how the project originated, and Goro talks about his work on the film. The special features total more than three hours, and include the film in storyboard form, plus interviews with Goro Miyazaki and Hayao Miyazaki. For those who like to watch the film in the original language, the subtitles are white and unobtrusive.

Ghibli fans, or anyone who cares about life, people, and good storytelling, should not miss this release.

Overall score 4.5/5
Eager for this one too.
Because Calamari Marionette Ph.D sounded pompous, that's why.
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:57 PM   #33830
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Looks ambitious!
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:39 PM   #33831
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvince View Post


What Maisie Knew (2012)
dir. David Siegel, Scott McGehee

[Show spoiler]
The Good: Amazing performance from six-year-old(!) lead Onata Aprile. If Quvenzhané Wallis got nominated for last year's Beasts of the Southern Wild, then Aprile should get a nod too; she deserves it. Aprile possesses the charm, the skill, and the star power -- the complete package. She's simply too good for her age, it's unreal. The future is certainly bright for this budding star. Stellar supporting turns from Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, Joanna Vanderham, and Steve Coogan. A refreshing -- and oftentimes raw -- take on the subject of broken families through the child's point of view. Within an hour and a half, Maisie goes through so much harsh, depressing shit, you completely empathize with her.

The Bad: The characters come off as a tad one-dimensional. None of them really evolves much throughout the film's duration. Some might also have an issue with the screenwriters' decision to alter the ending. (The film was based on an 1897 novel of the same name by Henry James.) Personally, I think it's a fine ending. Tonally, it may not have been the perfect way to conclude the story, but one can't deny that it has its heart in the right place. Moore + Coogan = Worst. Parents. Ever. What a bunch of irresponsible, self-absorbed *******s. Who wouldn't want a great kid like that? Passed around like a puppy and ultimately abandoned. Damn you, Steve Coogan! ***** you, Julianne Moore!

The Bottom Line: A deftly constructed roller-coaster. A child's worst nightmare. A future parent's cautionary tale. Don't "Maisie" your kids, folks. It's not cool at all. Recommended viewing.

Another one I'll likely check out at some point. If I had more time to rent more movies, it probably would have happened already. Unfortunately I just have time for what I own right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve46 View Post
From Up on Poppy Hill (2011)
Animation, Drama, Family, 92 minutes
Directed by Goro Miyazaki
Starring the voices (US dub) of Sarah Bolger, Anton Yelchin, Gillian Anderson, Ron Howard, Beau Bridges and Isabelle Fuhrman

[Show spoiler]Fans of Studio Ghibli won't have had much chance to see From Up on Poppy Hill. It enjoyed a brief limited release in theaters a few months ago, but the Blu-ray release on September 3rd will allow many other fans to check it out. I've seen it twice over the past two days and I urge Ghibli fans to buy the Blu-ray.

From Up on Poppy Hill looks like a Studio Ghibli film, and packs quite an emotional punch, but don't expect to see the fantasy element present in most of the studio's classics. This is more like Whisper of the Heart than Spirited Away or My Neighbor Totoro. The film is populated by good people doing good things, and there's not a villain in sight. It will appeal to anyone who remembers their childhood, school, young love, and friendship. Like most Ghibli films, it's full of great messages for us and our children.


Umi Matsuzaki (Bolger) is an eleventh-grader, living in 1963 Yokohama; she takes care of her family and a few boarders while her mother is away studying in the US. She cooks and cleans while trying to maintain her good grades, and is a responsible young woman. One day in school, she meets Shun Kazama (Yelchin). He performs a daredevil stunt to try to gain support for his campaign to save a clubhouse used by him and his friends. Umi and Shun form a friendship that is the heart of the film, but the story isn't quite so simple. This is not just a tale of teen romance; it's the story of a group of young people pulling together to achieve a common goal. Some of the twists are unexpected, and considerably more complicated than those found in typical animated fare.

One of Umi's habits is to raise flags on the pole on her balcony to signal to ships passing in the harbor. I had better not reveal the reason for that, but it's far from trivial and will help you to empathize with her situation. Umi's world is constantly changing. Her small town has a real community feel, and it's common for people to be friendly and help one another in their daily lives. The bigger picture shows Tokyo preparing for the 1964 Olympics, so there's constant pressure to join modern society and leave behind some of the antiquated life that Umi is used to.


One of the high points is seeing how the students work together to renovate their dirty old clubhouse, and the daring way in which Shun, Umi, and a friend attempt to get their message heard by someone who is actually in a position to make a difference.

Some of the themes in From Up on Poppy Hill are pretty serious. I know that I have probably failed to capture the interest of many readers, because this is another Studio Ghibli film without significant conflict. Instead of an evil villain, we are shown some of the problems young people might face while growing up. One twist is heartbreaking, and I won't dare reveal it here. However, I will say that by the end of the film, the mood is extremely positive. Like all good dramas, there must be some challenges and heartbreak in order for us to appreciate the good things in life. When the film ended, I was smiling. I wish my world could be as idyllic and charming.


I'm sure some of you are wondering about Goro Miyazaki's direction, and whether the future of Studio Ghibli is in good hands with Hayao Miyazaki (72) and Toshio Suzuki (65) probably approaching the end of their careers. Goro Miyazaki received plenty of criticism for Tales of Earthsea (2006), and openly admitted that he played it safe and didn't try to extend himself. From Up on Poppy Hill is a much stronger effort, and I hope it enables him to produce works of similar quality in the future. Hayao Miyazaki wrote the screenplay with Keiko Niwa, and I'm sure that it helps make the film feel familiar, and as warm as other Studio Ghibli entries.

Many of the established Ghibli traits are present. I love that the female characters are so strong; something that Pixar could learn from. The importance of family, friendship, and mutual respect is always on display. The young and the old both have a place in the world, and they care about one another. Notice also the scenes involving food. I can remember so many similar scenes from other Ghibli films. Perhaps they are present to remind us how good something as simple as a pleasant meal can be? There's also an umbrella; it's amazing how often they appear in Ghibli's other worlds.

Before I close, I must mention the Blu-ray special edition. Unlike most US Ghibli releases, this one is released by GKids and Cinedigm. The picture quality is wonderful, and the audio features both US and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 mixes. I was startled a couple of times by the immersive output from the rear speakers. The package includes a DVD, so you can introduce a new fan to Ghibli, and a rather informative 16-page booklet. Hayao Miyazaki talks about how the project originated, and Goro talks about his work on the film. The special features total more than three hours, and include the film in storyboard form, plus interviews with Goro Miyazaki and Hayao Miyazaki. For those who like to watch the film in the original language, the subtitles are white and unobtrusive.

Ghibli fans, or anyone who cares about life, people, and good storytelling, should not miss this release.


Overall score 4.5/5
Definitely looking forward to this arriving on Tuesday. I likely won't watch it for a while since I still have several other Studio Ghibli Blu-rays to watch, but I have no doubt I will love this when the time comes.
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:48 PM   #33832
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Definitely looking forward to this arriving on Tuesday. I likely won't watch it for a while since I still have several other Studio Ghibli Blu-rays to watch, but I have no doubt I will love this when the time comes.
Sounds like a fun time is about to be had
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:00 AM   #33833
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This is one of the first times that I've posted in this thread, despite viewing it from time to time.

I have recently decided to attempt again to view all of my films in alphabetical order so that I can make a decision about whether they are worth keeping or not. I will try my best to post a short review of each film after viewing them (note, they may contain spoilers).

The first film that I am reviewing tonight is Robert Altman's 3 Women.



One night, Robert Altman had a dream and this dream transpired into his 1977 masterpiece, 3 Women.

This film, which can only really be described as a psychological drama, follows three separate women who are brought together by chance. Pinky, the first of the three women, is a newcomer to the state of California. When we first meet her, we realize that she is a lonely, socially awkward girl who tries to fit in with everyone for attention. When she begins a job at a rehab center for the elderly, she comes into contact with Millie, the second of the three women. Millie is a socially, non-social socialite, as is evident by her striking up long conversations with people who have absolutely no interest in her or her affairs. The third woman, Willie, is more of a supporting character. Willie is the pregnant wife of Edgar, a friend of Millie, and she spends most of her time with herself where we see her painting murals from time to time. Believe it or not, she is the strongest of the three women and actually plays the largest role in this entire film.

3 Women does not follow your typical, traditional storyline. What Altman pieces together is rather unpredictable and sometimes difficult to understand. Regardless, the film flows at a nice, easy pace, allowing the viewer to take in what is being shown. Perhaps my two favorite aspects of this entire film are the role reversals of both Pinky and Millie (which occurs approximately halfway throughout the film) and the symbols (Willie's murals which happen to foreshadow a lot of what is to come in the film).

There's no easy way to truly describe 3 Women and my review does not come close to giving it the justice that it deserves. While this film may require two or three repeat viewings to truly understand it better, it is well worth it.

Due to the moderately high replay value for me and strong interest in the subject, this is a keeper in my book.

½
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:42 AM   #33834
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Getaway, or soon to be known as the "movie where Ethan Hawke drives a Mustang Shelby possessed with regenerative healing abilities", is an assault to the intelligence of anyone blessed with more than a five-second attention span. It is an artless and repetitive ride whose only prospects of escapism lie in either picking apart logic gaps and huge contrivances or, simply, eyeing the exit signs as I did sporadically throughout its mind numbing ninety minute runtime. I sit here writing this with the after effects of a crushing headache and a sick stomach, but, alas, I must stumble forward.

The first images of Courtney Solomon's first film in over eight years (if we are lucky, it'll be a multiple of eight before his next film) swiftly plunge is into the dramatically bankrupt plot with the kidnapping of Ethan Hawke's wife. Soon, isolated shots of Jon Voight's mouth (oops is that a spoiler?) inform Hawke—his character name evades me at the moment, which is just as well seeing as the filmmakers failed to humanize him beyond a histrionic mess—he must drive a Mustang, equipped with several Go Pro cameras tracking his every move, and follow his orders to a tee lest he wishes his wife's execution. The plot then whirs Hawke to a parking garage where an armed and hoodied computer hacker in Selena Gomez demands that he give her back her car. Threat diffused. The voice then commands him to take off.

Nakedly embracing cliché, screenwriters Gregg Maxwell Parker and Seth Finegan then proceed, with ruthless economy, in recycling each expected car chase plot point (in transit revelation scenes, playing the hostage situation up to escape the cops, etc.) and near, no, past, parodic chase movie dialogue. Selena Gomez' (possibly the worst performance in a wide release this year?) half committed pleas—"you're going too fast", "slow down", "pull over", "you're crazy"—will more than likely find their place as objects of derision in movie forums for for the next ten years, at least. That and a single forty-five second shot late in the film are the only memorable elements in this film. When you find yourself more concerned with noting continuity errors (one side-view mirror...no side-view mirrors...two side-view mirrors), you know this was a production in which nobody involved had the faintest desire to make something, you know, good.

Oh, if someone seeks an opportunity to mull over poor action filmmaking, this is just the right movie. Jumping from one Go Pro camera feed to the next like an ADD riddled channel surfing eleven-year-old, the film is a spatially muddled, headache inducing (yeah, still there) mess. As a fan of Tony 'make it glow' Scott, I know it is possible to not only make freneticism work in action films, but prove rather resonant. I still think Domino is one of the new millennium's grand works of art, and it's not just because it is so visually stimulating, but because, there, the rapid cutting unearthed levels of Domino Harvey's psyche not present in Kiera Knightley's blasé front. Here, on the other hand, the filmmakers have no greater use for rapid-fire cutting than to mask sloppy action choreography. Where were they driving? Who cares. For all I know, all the chase scenes might have taken place in dozens of major metropolitan American cities. It is hard to make out any geographical features when each shot is either an interior shot of the passengers, one of Ethan Hawke's right foot slamming the pedal or shifting gears, and car crashes).

(Headache starting to clear) I haven't even gotten to the numerous face palm provoking "plot twists." Just note the spare pieces of personal backstory Selena Gomez reveals and you'll be able to predict each of them. Getaway achieves the remarkable feat of being contemptible without having to resort to morally debased content. That said, there is one shot, that forty-five second one I alluded to earlier—a feed from a the grille's point of view—that is actually pretty stunning, even if it was achieved with the aid of computer generated cross traffic. If only Selena Gomez would have looped that sequence for ninety minutes, I would have been all the happier.

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Old 09-01-2013, 03:15 AM   #33835
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In Delmer Daves' 1957 western, rancher Dan Evans is tasked with the burdensome duty of bringing notorious outlaw Ben Wade to Contention City in order to catch the 3:10 train to Yuma. Should he complete this task, he will be awarded $200, something that he and his family significantly need. What Dan Evans soon finds out is that this is no easy job. Not only does Ben Wade keep giving him promising bribes, but Wade's gang is also on their way to Contention City to try to free their noble leader.

While this film has a moderately decent storyline and great acting by Glenn Ford, it does not have much else going on for it. I personally prefer the remake to this original because it is a lot more intimate and it gives the viewer a more complete story. Although this original film is rather shallow, I found myself enjoying the strong start at the beginning of Act 1. Unfortunately as the film progressed, I noticed myself being less and less engrossed with the story and the characters.

My biggest recommendation to the script writers would have been to focus more on how the characters got from Point A to Point C, instead of choosing to rely too much on excessive dialogue to pass the time.

If you're a fan of westerns, then I would recommend this film to you. Otherwise, if you want a complete, less predictable and better acted story, I would recommend checking out James Mangold's 2007 remake of this film instead.

½
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:26 AM   #33836
KilloWertz KilloWertz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve46 View Post
Sounds like a fun time is about to be had
I've watched Whisper of the Heart and The Secret World of Arriety already and loved both of them so pretty much. If not, I might as well just sell my whole Blu-ray collection.
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Old 09-01-2013, 03:27 AM   #33837
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The World's End

For many people, there's that certain phase in life where they're crazy, sloppy, reckless party animals. It comes, it goes, some people move on and mature, but others don't and perpetually go back to the clubs and bars to have the time of their lives. The World's End starts off with a simple premise - four older gentlemen reuniting to re-attempt a pub crawl they conducted in their youth - and it takes off from there in pretty wild directions. The film blends in familiar plot elements from the other two films in the "Cornetto Trilogy" - Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz - but with its firm focus on the most epic pub crawl ever, the film delves into thrilling and amusing new territory.

The comedy in this film is generally good: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and the rest of the cast continue to manipulate sharp dialogue, witty word puns, crazy situations, and strong characterizations to illicit decent laughs. It takes a little while for the main action to pick up, but even when the big brawling scenes aren't taking place, the film maintains consistent pacing all the way through.

I was personally pleased with the story though: it takes place over a single night, but it crams in so much characterization that it's rather compelling. The core story borrows the essence of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, swapping out the "pod people" with machines (or "blanks" as the case may be) that remind me so much of the Suzuki robots from Gantz. It's the characters that drive the story though, not only through their discoveries and conflicts, but also with their rich backgrounds and psychologies, which dig up some very strong themes regarding friendship, maturity, aging, and being human overall. From the middle of the film onward, it struck me that much of this film is about the differences between those who live wild and free and those who don't - or perhaps the squares vs the rebels, or literally, the robots vs people. Regardless of how you look at it, the final message is that humans can't be inherently conditioned or reprogrammed to be obedient or conformist slaves. The ultimate conclusion is that "we wanna be free, we wanna be free to do what we wanna do,
and we wanna get loaded and we wanna have a good time!" Even for a square like myself, I found this message most inspiring.

If there's anything wrong with this movie, it's just that things get a little incredulous. The fight scenes seem a little out-of-place, with the unassuming characters busting out crazy robot-slaying moves at every chance they get. I started to wonder whether or not these events were truly plausible in modern times (surely, even a small English village could be connected to the rest of the world with the Internet. Surely, friends and family outside the town could have caught on to something weird going on. But no, it takes four random drunk guys to figure things out, late into the robots' master plan). It's also a little incredulous to believe that these guys would actually continue through all 12 pubs in their crawl, even though they sense danger from #6 onwards (I can understand their initial intentions, and Gary's ultimate obsession, but you'd think they'd try to escape town for the last act). But, in the words of a certain character, "Oh f**k it."

This film uses decent photography - it gets a little jittery during the fight scenes, but it is solid everywhere else. Editing is decent. Acting is top-notch: Simon Pegg is at his most outrageous here, and steals the show throughout. Nick Frost flexes some decent acting muscle, portraying a decent range of emotion, without sacrificing the comedy. Everybody else is good. Writing is loaded with great lines. This production uses authentic-looking sets, props, and costumes. Special effects are generally okay. Music is pretty good.

This film surpassed my expectations and delivered a rich story to accompany its rich comedy. It comes close to being my favorite of the three movies these guys have made (Hot Fuzz still being my favorite), and unless you're some kind of soulless machine, it comes recommended.

4.5/5 (Entertainment: Good | Story: Perfect | Film: Very Good)

Recommendation: Yep.
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Old 09-01-2013, 04:39 AM   #33838
Abdrewes Abdrewes is offline
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Originally Posted by iScottie View Post


If you're a fan of westerns, then I would recommend this film to you. Otherwise, if you want a complete, less predictable and better acted story, I would recommend checking out James Mangold's 2007 remake of this film instead.

½
Nice to see you're posting reviews. Yeah, the Manglod version is much more engaging (and lord knows I usually prefer the classics over the remakes).

Are you only going to keep "2.5 star movies or are stars insignificant?
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Old 09-01-2013, 04:42 AM   #33839
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Originally Posted by Abdrewes View Post
Nice to see you're posting reviews. Yeah, the Manglod version is much more engaging (and lord knows I usually prefer the classics over the remakes).

Are you only going to keep "2.5 star movies or are stars insignificant?
Thanks. It helps me get my brain working more, so I hope to write a short thing about everything I see.

I will agree with you about preferring originals to the remakes, but this is one of the rare exceptions.

Also, the stars do not matter. While it was a good one watch and while I was very generous with my rating, I do not see myself revisiting 3:10 To Yuma (1957) again. Therefore I will be getting rid of it. The remake, however, is a different story.
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Old 09-01-2013, 04:48 AM   #33840
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iScottie View Post
Thanks. It helps me get my brain working more, so I hope to write a short thing about everything I see.

I will agree with you about preferring originals to the remakes, but this is one of the rare exceptions.

Also, the stars do not matter. While it was a good one watch and while I was very generous with my rating, I do not see myself revisiting 3:10 To Yuma (1957) again. Therefore I will be getting rid of it. The remake, however, is a different story.
I have yet to see my BluRay copy of the Mangold version (although I have seen it twice). It was one of the first blurays I bought too. Now, I'm feeling guilty.

BTW, are you seeing everything you have in alphabetical order, or just Blindbuys and films you may change your opinion on?
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