Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Take 2)

I loved the Millenium Trilogy, as it was delivered in its original Swedish version.  Sweden being the country to which author Stieg Larsson called home until his death in 2004.  Talk about missing out on the party, in 2008, Lasson was the second best selling author in the World, currently having sold over 53 million copies Worldwide, since this series was first published.

Larrson is an amazing storyteller and when I saw a picture of him, I was shocked as to how much he looked like another storyteller, who also recently passed (in 2009), in John Hughes, the master of teen angst and easily understandable stories of real people, real problems, real emotions.  I only bring it up to fuel speculation that they were in fact the same person????  You decide:

At the very least, they had the same hairdresser, photographer, and optometrist, that much cannot be denied.

The books, I am told, are fantastic and there is no way that any film could fully represent Larsson's vision, given the length and breadth of detail, to which he wrote. The Swedish trilogy of films, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; Played With Fire; and Kicked the Hornet's Nest, all captivated movie goers, those who were willing to endure the subtitles, as these were Swedish spoken language films, populated with (mostly) Swedish actors.

Americans are ethnocentric....terribly.  Yep, I yanked that word straight out of my eighth grade civics means that we believe that we are the most important culture in the world and whatever doesn't fit our paradigm of entertaining, must be conformed to properly entertain us, the way that we like to be entertained.

To that, I say hell no!

I loved the SWEDISH version of all three of these films and they could have entirely stood as the filmic entries in this series.

I think Noomi Rapace was a force and she carried these films, shouldering a burden that was happily split with Michael Nyqvist, the original Mikael Blomkvist.  These two and the rest of the cast, crew, writers, and directors, crafted together 428 minutes of pure thriller/drama/mystery bliss.

So there you have it, I loved the original...BUT...

I have a director "crush" on David Fincher.  I can't help but be forgiving for this unnecessary Americanized remake, because it was helmed by Fincher.  The original trilogy never NEEDED to be remade; but we are better as film goers for having the David Fincher version in our lives.
FROM IMDB: "Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker."

Noomi Rapace was spectacular and it isn't fair to compare Rooney Mara's Lizbeth Salander to Rapace.  But for the amazing presence that Rapace provided, Mara's Salander held her own in comparison.  For being a New York born gal, playing a troubled Swedish computer hacker, she does a damn fine job.

Fincher directs DARK like a champ and this film is no different.  Danial Craig as Blomkvist is a fitting tribute to the original, as are Christopher Plummer as Henrik, the patriarch of the Vanger family and Stellan Skargard, his affiable brother, Martin.  

Robin Wright rounds out the cast of familiar faces, playing Erika Berger,co-editor of Millenium magazine and part-time lover of our hero, Blomkvist.  She is an American, through-and-through, but she pulls off her accent without notice.

From there, this film is populated by actors who will be mostly unknown to American audiences.  You see, this is also the point of my surprise...

I hadn't followed the Americanization of this film very closely, but given the remake so closely followed the original Swedish film, I assumed that there would be significant changes, perhaps even a change in venue to an upscale neighborhood somewhere stateside.  No such changes were enacted and in truth, this version is nearly a shot for shot remake of the original.  I haven't looked, but I wouldn't be surprised that many of the original actors are in this version as well. I need to look and see how many of the same sets were used. Visually speaking, there was little to distinguish the original from this current version.

Fincher is so talented, though, this film is 100% as enjoyable as the original.  Definitely see this movie. Don't watch the original unless you want to have the American version COMPLETELY spoiled for you.  Put it on your 2012 to-do, to check out the original, for it is worth seeing how well non-Hollywood pictures can be made, minus the BIG budgets and major hoopla.  

These books are a trilogy and one must figure, that in the next few years, Fincher will move forward with making this his own namesake film trilogy.  But if you can't wait, you are in luck.  As a consumer of popular media, I recommend whole-hearted either the books or the original films,to see how this story plays out.  

I have seen all of the originals and knowing how it wrapped up didn't change my enjoyment in the least.  The biggest diverging plot points came in the end, but it really wasn't a significant change, at least worth noting.

See this movie.  It is dark, graphic, and just very well made, as dark and graphic are two facets of film that Fincher does ridiculously well.  

4.5 of 5 HORNS for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I hope to get out and see We Bought a Zoo, The Adventures of Tintin, and most of all, I can't wait to see The Darkest Hour.  I very much hope this is a well made bit of science fiction fun .  If nothing else, it looks fairly original and quite unique.

Until later, take care...and just in case we don't speak again for a few days...Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, etc...and God Bless Us Every One...thanks Tiny, no...Thank You Chuck Norris. 

Reel Rhino

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year...For Movies

I am the victim of my own good fortune.  While I encountered a rather dry first few weeks of December, the last few days have been rich in movie going.  Three movies in three days.  I am short on time prepping for the holidays, so I am going to limit my words on Young Adult and Sherlock Holmes: Book of Shadows, and go a little heavier on Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol.  

The Reel Rhino is always looking for red hot leads...I have the good fortune of being friends with a fellow who had the good fortune of nabbing some free preview tickets to WAR HORSE, the latest epic from his majesty, Steven Spielberg.  I am 100% a fan of Spielberg and in my book, even when he's off, he's on.

Now my friend, in all his goodness, has yielded to his better half to be the latest guest contributor to the Reel Rhino family.    Ladies and gents, I give you....The Artist (forgive me Mrs. K, but that's the best I could do...correct me if you have a better choice of pen name.)

War Horse

FROM IMDB: "Young Albert enlists to service in WWI after his beloved horse, Joey, is sold to the cavalry. Albert's hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the war rages on."

I would like to see the statistics on how many books such as War Horse have enjoyed the privilege of being popular fiction, a broadway play, and now a major motion picture.  Now there's no guarantee that the Spielberg's adaptation of Morpurgo's book will be a hit with the public, but this movie is already generating some Oscar buzz.  I'll say this right off, this movie is not in the same category as Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, but it is worth a look.  Earlier this month, I won FREE passes to see War Horse before the general public from  If you don't know about this website, I have to give a shout out to them for fully embracing the power of the internet while simultaneously providing a way for people to enjoy books "in the flesh", so to speak. It's better than a library and cheaper than a book store, but I digress...

War Horse is a beautifully shot picture with that epic feel that has become classic Spielberg.  I might even rank it with E.T., because it's the non-human that steals the show.  I don't think it has the freshness and originality of E.T. but it's heart and soul are in the right place.  In fact, I dare you to leave the movie theatre with a dry eye.  My favorite scene from this movie was when Joey (the horse) gets into situation that for just one moment, inspires action action in the soldiers that transcends sides of battle and demonstrates the humanity that regardless of reason, exists in all men and women that fight for God and country.  The scenes that feature Joey on the field of battle are both astoundingly heart wrenching and surprisingly and appropriately gut busting funny.  

Thank you, Mr. Spielberg, for capturing all the emotions of these moment and giving texture and dimension to a fictional story that for a moment feels real and that's real good stuff.

Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol: The IMAX Experience

How long has it been since you've seen that many colons in a single title?  Impressive, I know. 

But impressive is just about the perfect word used to describe this film, this extremely impressive first live action effort from PIXAR wunderkind Brad Bird.  He made his bones in the action genre with The Incredibles, but the question was, could he do it without the support of the great animators and collaborative effort that makes every Pixar film shine so bright.

The answer is yes.

FROM IMDB: "The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name."

I'm over being over Tom Cruise.  Yes, he has a history of being a bit bizarre.  No, I don't understand Scientology.  But hey, people forgive celebrities who behave far more badly, and I for one, am done.  Tom, I give you a hearty round of applause, for reascending to the ranks of proper action star.

I think that it was as important to have the Bad Robot (JJ Abrams) team on-board as producer of this flick, as evidenced by JJ's recent successes, this film falling safely in line with his level of quality.

The rest of Hunt's team, played by Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, and the man of the hour, Jeremy Renner.  They play off each other well, in a comedic sense, as well as running missions like well oiled heists, making the impossible possible.

That is a part of the allure of the film...much like John McLane is seemingly the indestructible hero, Ethan Hunt closely follows suit.  There are some sequences in this movie that would have killed most people, but Hunt is the Energizer Bunny of movie heroes of late.

The action sequences really pop and to be honest, since Warrior in September, this was the most fun I've had in the theater.  And what a joy to see some good old fashion US/Russia hostility captured sublimely on the big screen.

I am all for world peace, but in the movies, if it bleeds, it leads.  Nicely done folks.

4.5 of 5 Horns

Young Adult

FROM IMDB: "Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now married with kids."

Jason Reitman is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors.  I will admit, I am favorable to him in part because I owe his father a great deal for creating my favorite movie of all time... Ghostbusters, that is.

The younger Reitman has mastered in short order the ability to convey massive amounts of emotion in sharing the misery of regular people.  Most notably, I am thinking of Juno, Up In The Air, and now in Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, and Elizabeth Reaser.

I went into this flick a little weary.  I loved Juno, and so did the Academy, as it won the best original screenplay Oscar for then first time screenwriter, Diablo Cody.  Ms. Cody came back firing, but sadly she missed the mark badly with Jennifer's Body.  Maybe it was her push for the silly teen lingo that worked so well in Juno, or maybe it was the trainwreck that is Megan Fox; whatever the problem, Jennifer's Body was God awful.

The trendy speech was left in the dust, and Cody strikes again here, with a real winner.  But this is a starkly dark film.  Where Juno was dark in its way, it was still bearable even at its roughest moments.  Young Adult raises the bar of depravity to new levels, and while it is evident in the trailer, this film really isn't even a dark comedy, but a tragedy.

Theron's Mavis Gary, pining over the high school and college sweetheart of days past, he, Patrick Wilson, here as Buddy Slade, now married with a new baby in his life.

This film is entirely a dissection of the deconstruction of a mentally ill person.  Sad, tragic, a train rumbling consistently from start to finish, until it finally leaves the tracks.

Patton Oswalt is a tour de force in this film, and if he is not nominated for an Oscar, I will be surprised.  His character's story is unreal and how he develops as the plot unfolds is masterful.  His comedic delivery is in stark contrast with his tragic past, but he makes it work, 100%.

I give Young Adult a very sold 4 of 5 Horns.  Check it out, if you dare.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
FROM IMDB: "Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty."

A word briefly on this latest Sherlock Holmes adventure.  I am nearing the end of my evening and I will keep this short and sweet...

First, a big shout out to my buddy Matt.  We had a man-date to give closure to a deal struck months ago, that involved a Ghostbusters movie poster, and a movie night, my treat.  Matt, you da man!!

Second, I really enjoyed this movie.  I didn't walk out of the theater blown away, but I enjoyed (most) every minute of this film.  I say most every minute because my only complaint with this effort, is the same as it was with the was just a hair too long.  These stories are so complex, that the 2 hour + running time gives you so much to follow and try and track, never knowing what elements of a set or the story are going to come back around later.  That said, I still really liked it!

I thoroughly enjoy Jared Harris, the face to Holmes Dr. Moriarty.  He is a formidable villain, and certainly does not let us down.

Props to Mr. AK-47 for pointing out to me, I forgot to assign the traditional horn rating...for Sherlock & Co., I give it a 4 of 5 Horn salute.

The highlight by far, though was a marriage proposal, via special presentation, after the show.  This guy put together a series of movie clips that told their story...on an average Monday night, which also happens to be their Movie Date Night, he made arrangements with the man, Ponce, AMC Barrywoods GM extraordinaire, to make this night a little extra special.  She said yes.  Congratulations to the happy couple.

The holidays are upon us, and I can't say when I'll post again.  I will try to hit a few flicks and post when I can.  You can rest assured, I will be coming strong on or around the new year with my best and worst lists, of 2011.

Until later, take care.
Reel Rhino

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Finally...A Decent Weekend Ahead! Oh Yeah...I Saw The Sitter

I think that the Holiday release season sits only second to the Summer Blockbuster Season.  It has something to do with extreme weather, I think  Granted, here in KC, we hit the low 60's this Wednesday with a Spring like wind, but the snow and the cold are certainly on the way.  

First, old business.  

THE SITTER: 3 of 5 Horns
Yes, you are correct...wrong movie, but this film was kinda a horror show, so I figured I wouldn't pass up such a pun-y opportunity.

Through the first half of this flick, I was thinking 1.5 to 2ish, at best, but somehow this flick pulled it together and rounded home towards a decent finish.

David Gordon Green's last effort was an absolute atrocity...Your Highness...a stoner comedy that left even the stoners running for the popcorn stand.

I stand by his directorial portfolio as a man with great promise, but efforts like this are tipping the teeter the other way.

The Sitter has a number of decent laughs...most of them directly tied to the antics of the youngsters said Babysitter is looking after.  The rest of the decent laughs come directly from Jonah Hill, who has a masterful comedic delivery, regardless of the material.

If you haven't seen the sitter yet, wait for the DVD or catch it On-Demand.  There's a bunch of popcorn-eating goodness headed for the big screen this weekend...

Yep, that's all I have for you on The Sitter.

This weekend shows some promise for the Big Picture Houses...

I will not mention that Alvin and The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked is being released this weekend...whoops, I guess I mentioned it.  But that aside, there is plenty of decent fare hitting the screen to keep that trainwreck from taking home the weekend title.

This weekend is the warm up week...some big flicks hitting, some in limited release, some flooding the market.

Take for example, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.  Admittedly, I was not blown away by the first in this series.  Everyone involved with the film, made it wholly entertaining, but I thought the plot was a little lacking.  I am worried that Guy Ritchie's early indie appeal is ever-tainted by Madonna's stink of commercialism.  Here's hoping he can overcome.  God knows I would watch Robert Downey Jr. read a phone book...he is damn charismatic!

This weekend also brings us a studio first...a release of a tent-pole release, in limited form, coming out on IMAX screens only.  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is coming to an IMAX near you, but that is it.  If you want to catch MI:4 on what some call a reasonably sized screen, you will have to wait a week.  In my opinion, it's a brilliant release plan.  This will most definitely siphon a few extra bucks out of those eager Tom Cruise fans who want to catch a glimpse of their hero ASAP.  Yes, that Tom Cruise fan base is dwindling, but throw in a dash of Jeremy Renner, and game-on  Have you heard of his flick coming out this March?  Hansel and Gretel?  In concept, it looks re-donk-u-lous.  MI:4 is sitting at a strong 91% fresh and at an early but promising 8.1 on IMDB.  Even Ebert lent a hand, offering 3 and 1/2 stars to this late series entry. I think it is going to be a very dangerous holiday movie season, dangerous indeed.  

You know what else might hook up MI:4 for the big win....3 words: Dark. Knight. Rises.  Yep, the DKR prologue, those six glorious minutes of film, will be playing before Tommy Cruise and Co. take the screen.  Another means for packing the house, as IMAX screens have felt the impact of such ridiculously high prices.

And finally, Young Adult.  The re teaming of the oh-so-successful team of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody.  Maybe this is what Cody needed to jump back into the realm of respectable.  Perhaps, Ms. Cody, we can forgive you for the mess that was Jennifer's Body.  That catastrophe could have been half horror, half Megan Fox sex tape, and I would have the same level of interest.  That was crapola.  That said, Young Adult has received some rave reviews and RT has it at 80% fresh.  Although Young Adult is not being cut as a new release.  It played in 8 theaters last week, so this counts as an expansion, and a meager one at best, playing in 1000 theaters as of Friday.

These past few weeks have been exceptionally weak at the cinema, and it has shown on the overall box office numbers.  I think this weekend will see people flooding theaters, but as to who will take the weekend, your guess is as good as mine.  

Will the IMAX upcharge be enough to push Tom Cruise back into the top spot.  

Will the commercial Holmes be the ticket with the return of Noomi Rapace, the girl with Downey Jr. and Jude Law?  I doubt that 1000 screens for Young Adult will be enough as it is also an R-rated flick, but it sure will help muddy the waters.  

And lest I forget Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, members of the Chipmonk trio that continue to plague my existence.  

The answers to all this and just 5 days.

A good weekend to all, and to all a good night.
Reel Rhino  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Arthur Christmas and the Weak 2 Weeks in Cinema

Look at font...nice.

I have been promising this Arthur Christmas review to people for the better part of this week.  I am currently under the weather, coming out of a week of teaching photography, and headed into the weekend needing a pick me up, that just isn't there.

What in the holy hell has been going on at the movies?!? 

Last week, no new releases, this week, just The Sitter and the star-studded but likely garbage-rific New Year's Eve.  So at this very moment, The Sitter is at 17% on Rotten Tomatoes and New Year's Eve is at a (just like I expected) 5%...garb-oni!

What a miserable 2 weeks at the theater...gimme gimme Ticker Tailor Soldier Spy...opening this week as well, but only on a miserable 4 screens.  Thanks a lot, New York and LA!

I understand the appeal of the masses for the Twilight flicks, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.  But for the love of Pete...we have set up Twilight to rock a FOURTH #1 week at the movies.  That is unless the milquetoast New Year's Ever manages to take the weekend.

For my money, as I have said before, the best options out there in wide release are still The Muppets (97% on RT) or Hugo (94% on RT), but also perhaps today's offering (sitting at 94% on RT)...

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS: 4.5 of 5 Horns
I saw Arthur Christmas last Saturday.  This capped a great run at the movies, which including those above along with My Week With Marilyn, was pretty fantastic.  That said, you can understand why I am so sick of these lame weeks of nothing new worth watching.

I went into Arthur Christmas having seen only one teaser trailer  

The truth of the matter is that I probably wouldn't have gone and seen this flick, if I hadn't exhausted all other options...except Jack and Jill, which I flat out refused to go see.  I have stuck by Adam Sandler through thick and thin, but with the atrocity that is Jack and Jill, I am hanging him out to dry.

Arthur Christmas is a wholly British film.  Eva Longoria, Laura Linney, and Joan Cusack are the only touch of Americana, with the real charge being lead by some of my favorites: Jim Broadbent (Santa), James McAvoy (Arthur), Hugh Laurie (Steve - Arthur's Brother and the heir apparent to the job of Santa), and Bill Nighy (Grand Santa) as the core four leads.

From IMDB: On Christmas night at the North Pole, Santa's youngest son looks to use his father's high-tech operation for an urgent mission.  

An urgent mission...what could it be?  True love?  Save the world?  Nope...a kid's been missed!  Young Arthur Christmas is sent into a tailspin while the rest of the Santa family is seemingly unaware or not concerned.


What really grabbed me with this flick was the absolutely stellar presentation of Santa's delivery.  Such a high tech effort, as is briefly evidenced in the first trailer, presented above.  It was an awesome display of tech and the animation was spot on wonderful.  Yes, I saw this in 3-D, which was certainly passable, but this was a wonderful film, no matter how many D's you see.

This film delivered great laughs, for the adults as well as the kids.  But unlike the obviousness of the Shrek in-jokes for adults, this film's jokes were absolutely hilarious.  Guffaws were heard throughout the land, soda spewing from many a parent's nose.

Give this one a chance.  The kids will love it...the adults will love it.  It was a damn fine entry into the films of Christmas.  Nothing like cursing when talking about the great gifts the holiday season brings us.

As a side note, I am a big fan of Pawn Stars, Auction Hunters, Hardcore Pawn, American Pickers, and perhaps most of all, Storage Wars.  I am happy a double dose of Storage Wars, with the addition of Storage Wars: Texas, but I am a little on the fence about these new characters.  They seems to have selected carbon copies of the type of people we are already dealing with on the original.  I will watch though, because I am an addict like that.

As a second side note, when my in-laws were in town, I was flipping through the DVR and my father-in-law caught a glimpse of Hardcore Pawn in my saved episodes list, and quickly looked away from the TV, saying: Oh, um, oh, we probably don't want to watch that....

Good times.

Until later, take care...
Reel Rhino

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Great Couple of Flicks: Hugo, My Week With Marilyn, The Muppets, The Descendants

REVIEWED THIS POST (It was a good week!):
The Muppets: 4 Horns
The Descendants: 4 Horns
Hugo: 5 Horns
My Week With Marilyn: 4.5 Horns

My posts have been few and far between, but hey, a big man's gotta eat some turkey!

I have a big weekend lined up and unfortunately, but most of it is happening outside of a theater.

Fortunately, there are essentially no new mainstream releases this week, and the only movie that really has my interest peaked is Steve McQueen's Shame, starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. However, it is not hitting the screens in KC anytime soon.  A fact I find surprising, given a recent Cliff Clavin like piece of info I picked up...KC has more cinema screens than any other US city.

No wonder I find it so easy to feed my addiction...

THE MUPPETS: 4 of 5 Horns
Not a perfect movie, but a damn fine piece of entertainment.  It perfectly struck the nostalgia chord while being sufficiently modern to stand up on its own merit.  Jason Segal is a muppet-fanatic, and it shows.  He co-wrote the flick with Nicholas Stoller, a talented comedic writer and director in his own right. 

I am especially fond of Jim Henson, being a fellow Maryland Terrapin.  If you ever chance by the Maryland campus, stop by Kent Hall, where Kermit was first created...the stuff of legends.  On the steps of Kent Hall, engraved in the stone stairway, is "Kermit."  Simply, elegant, fitting.

Amy Adams is perhaps the best young actress of our generation...she is adorable, she can act any genre, and she was a perfect fit for this movie, having great chemistry with Co-Star Jason Segal. 

Chris Cooper, Kansas City native, is glorious as the mean-spirited villain.
The main attraction, the Muppets themselves, were great as this isn't a carbon copy of the shows we remember, but it certainly carries on the great tradition of great family fun.  I read there was some dissension by the original cast, as to the worthiness of this entry into the Muppets cannon.

I disagree and I hope was ever bad feelings there were, it wasn't sour grapes...I can't think of any other reason, because this film was loads of fun.

The Descendants: 4 of 5 Horns
They say this one will be up for a load of awards...George Clooney as the patriarch of a family in turmoil.  On one hand, Clooney's Matt King is the chair of a land trust, overseeing the care of the largest remaining privately owned piece of Hawaii.  On the other hand, Clooney is struggling to connect with his daughters, while their mother is on life support, after suffering a head injury in a boating accident.

The movie is the product of Alexander Wright, a very talented writer/director, who's previous films include Sideways and Election, two very dark comedies.

Dark comedy sits in the heart of Wright's wheel-house, and he comes through strong here.  You see with the complexities of a wife on life-support and the handling of the sale of a billion dollar piece of property, the last thing you would want to learn is that your wife has been unfaithful...ugh.

Clooney does shine in his performance of the conflicted husband, but I think that Shailene Woodley, as Alexandra King, Matt's daughter, does a phenomenal job as a young and cute girl on the fringes between frustration and disrespect. 

Also adding flavor to this flick is a cameo by Robert Forester, one of my favorites, who for my money, stole the show in Quentin Tarantino's 1997, Jackie Brown.  An odd choice for a serious role was Matthew Lillard, but surprising, he knocks it out of the park...

Check this out, but don't expect an uplifting is very entertaining and memorable film, but is maybe one of the few decent movies playing right now in wide-release.

Hugo: 5 of 5 Horns
This was a great film.  It was a movie lovers film.  Not just because Scorsese was helming, but because when it gets moving, it actually becomes centered around a true classic period in cinema and the earliest of days in film as a form of entertainment.

This all is built around this young boy, Hugo Cabret...a watchmaker's son, orphaned and sent to live with his Uncle, a drunk who seems to have found a purpose keeping the clocks at the train station running on time.  But in the opening moments of the film, you learn that the Uncle has absconded and it is in fact Hugo, the orphan, running things at the station.

He steals a roll and a milk each morning and challenges the threshold of the Station Inspector, a role masterfully portrayed Sasha Baron Cohen, a man who for his silliness, can shine when given a role like this.

Young Hugo has refined the art of the steal, lifting occassional toys from the station toymaker, Ben Kingsley, playing Papa Georges, grandfather in name to a young lady, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), who befriends Hugo and wants to share an adventure with him.

From IMDB: Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.

This automaton becomes the focus of Hugo's attention, and he steals toys from the toymaker to try and find parts to make it work, thinking it holds a secret message from his father, who was snatched from his life in an accident at the museum where he worked.  This is why he steals from the get parts to try and get the automaton to work.

The adventure that unfolds is epic and the direction the story takes is wonderful.  I doubted Martin Scorsese could deliver from the trailers I saw for this.  I assumed it was some dream vanity project and it would amount to nothing short of an epic failure.  I was dead wrong.

This is rated PG and unfortunately, opening in week 2 of Twilight and against The Muppets and Arthur Christmas over Thanksgiving weekend, it barely held its own, coming in fifth to the three mentioned as well as Happy Feet Two

Yes, those other films have an immediate appeal, but Hugo struck me as something like a Forrest Gump or a more refined Goonies...films that have stayed with you for years.  The PG is a stamp of family friendliness and it holds true here.  Check this out as soon as you get the chance.

My Week With Marilyn: 4.5 of 5 Horns
This is film is excellent.the acting, direction, writing the overall look..everything.

Michelle Williams was haunting in her portrayal as the Blond Bombshell  In her first moment on screen, I saw Michelle Williams in a Marilyn Monroe costume  By the end, all I saw was Marilyn Monroe.

The beautiful thing about this film is that it is a true story, written by Colin Clark, an ambitious young man with dreams of a career in film.  His family was privileged and he had been promised a job on the set of Sir Laurence Olivier's (Kenneth Branaugh) next picture. When he showed up for a job, it was his persistence that finally paid off.

Third assistant director (uncredited) on The Prince and the Showgirl was the job he was given...basically a gopher.  Young Colin, played masterfully by a nearly 30 year old Eddie Redmayne...a dark in the eyes, brooding but funny, a newbie to the entertainment business who picks up savvy in a flash, mostly thanks to the ease with with Olivier takes him into his inner circle.

But whose side is he on? 

Enter Marilyn Monroe.  Beautiful.  Period.

By some stroke of luck, Monroe becomes affectioned to Colin, pulling him into her realm, vexing him with her sweet eyes and charm.  This is all exceptionally complex as Monroe is freshly married to playwright Arthur Miller, but by some accounts, running off the marriage reservation more than once in her past.

This is a sweet movie, and for some of the more insidious behaviors and undertones, it plays as more of a playful drama than anything darker.  We all know how it ends for Monroe, so it is hard not to feel extreme sympathy when you see her train running off the tracks.

And lest I forget to mention a great turn by Dame Judi Dench, playing Dame Sybil Thorndike.  Other great roles and performances here by Toby Jones, the seemingly ever-present Dominic Cooper (that guys been everywhere this year!), and in her first post-Potter performance, Ms. Hermione Granger herself, Emma Watson, as the costume girl Lucy, who for her limited screen time, has quite an impact.

Go see this movie, if you can find it.  It opened on a mere 244 screens to a paltry 1.75 million.  I guess that's one may to make an Oscar run, as scarcity seems to always make folks want even more.  I am willing to bet that this will see a King's Speech type wider release come late December or January.  We shall see, but for whatever the plan, this is a film that will have the Academy's attention!

For a wholly enjoyable adult-oriented go see this film.  For a wholly enjoyable family-oriented film, for see Hugo.

It's nice to have options.

For now, here's waiting to go see Arthur Christmas...that's all that's left.  Usually, a busy weekend devoid of movies is a Debbie-Downer, but for a no new release weekend, I guess I'll survive.  Here's hoping On-Demand is carrying something decent....

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Plethora of Movies, Including Twilight....oooooohhhh....Twilight

Jeffe, did you say I had a plethora of movies?  Ah, yes El Whoppa, I did say you have a plethora of movies.

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas - 2 of 5 Horns
Anonymous - 4 of 5 Horns
J Edgar - 3 of 5 Horns
Immortals 4.5 of 5 Horns
Our Idiot Brother - 4 of 5 Horns
Martha Marcy May Marlene - 4 of 5 Horns
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 - 3 of 5 Horns

Sorry for the delay folks!  I have been mighty busy...a garage sale, raking leaves, fighting takes a toll on a big fella!

As for the present moment (yeah, okay...this post is a few days old!), Mrs. Reel Rhino is out with some other ladies taking in the AMC Stubs Special Event, also known as, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I.  Ohhhhhhhh....Team Jacob....Team Edward!  Everybody get sooooooo excited.  Stay tuned for the Twilight review at the bottom of the page.

I am not a Twi-hater, but I do have fundamental problems with these movies.  I think the wooden acting has killed these films in a manner similar to the Hayden Christensen-Star Wars debacle.  This series would have been so better served by teens who could actual emote.  These kids, for their deep Shakespearean love, really fail to act like anything resembling real teens.  I hope these last two films are at least decent, as for all my complaining, I will have to still see it.

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas: 2 of 5 Horns
FROM IMDB: "Six years after their Guantanamo Bay adventure, stoner buds Harold Lee and Kumar Patel cause a holiday fracas by inadvertently burning down Harold's father-in-law's prize Christmas tree."  

A sub-par entry into the H&K series, there are a few decent gags, but otherwise, this film falls completely flat.  I mean that IMDB synopsis pretty much says it all.  This flick is saved by the presence of Neil Patrick Harris only, as everything this guy touches, seems to turn to gold.

I only wonder what "the community" will think about NPH forsaking his gayness, even if for the sake of a comedic bit.  His bravery to live out loud was praised, but the whole thing is proclaimed a gag in this flick, as a ploy to get chicks.  I get the joke, and perhaps his supporters will as well.  I am a firm believer that in the name of comedy, all can be forgiven, but for such a sensitive issue these days, maybe it was too much too soon.

Other than a very enjoyable role by NPH, this film is clearly a must miss.

Anonymous: 4 of 5 Horns
FROM IMDB: "A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays; set against the backdrop of the succession of Queen Elizabeth I, and the Essex Rebellion against her."

This is the "real" story of William Shakespeare, as told by the master of disaster, Roland Emmerich.  "They" say that this is the first film by Emmerich that actually is a truly decent film.  While I believe that this is a truly decent film, I do think that Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, and The Patriot were all wholly enjoyable, albeit somewhat guilty pleasures.

Supposedly, the works of William Shakespeare were actually written by "Anonymous," and in a moment of haste, when the call for the talents of the writer of a stage play was being chanted, Shakespeare stepped up and took the credit.

This film was at times hard to follow, as events unfold in 3 different times and in a variety of venues.  And it is very much a period piece, with everyone dressed in drab garb.

But for whatever this film got wrong, it got right the presentation of a really enjoyable film spinning a tale that for some scholars, may be an actual portrayal of the history of The Bard.  It is one part drama, one part comedy, one part action....Check it out if you get a chance, it is a really decent 2 hours in the theater.

J Edgar: 3 of 5 Horns
FROM IMDB: "As the face of law enforcement in America for almost 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was feared and admired, reviled and revered. But behind closed doors, he held secrets that would have destroyed his image, his career and his life."

I will lead with this: this film WILL take the Oscar for Best Makeup.  For the three leads, Leo, Armie Hammer, and Naomi Watts, they aged them perfectly.  The old detraction from their appearance was the jarring nature of hearing Leo speak through an old man's body.

This is a film with great potential, but far less delivery.  It is a thinker, not a doer, and it plays out as a procedural of J Edgars life, with too little action but for a couple of dynamic arrest scenes.

The speculation to J Edgar's personal proclivities is the interesting aspect of this movie.  There were some high points on the history of the FBI's major cases, most notably, the Lindbergh Kidnapping.  I found the presentation of the kidnapping and investigation very plain.  Now I speak from a position of insider authority on the Lindbergh case as I have studied it and presented on it professionally.  I think to an extent, this dulled this bit of the tale, and it covered a solid chunk of the flick.

What I did like, as a CSI myself, was the depiction of the creation of the FBI Crime Lab, not the first one in the country, but the first with the scope and impact that the FBI lab had on crime fighting, most notably at the time, the collection and categorizing of the fingerprints of known offenders.

All in all, I was entertained by this movie, but just not moved the way I have been in the past from the offerings of Clint Eastwood.

I will say there was a fair amount of hate in my theater, for every time the bits concerning the speculated homosexual behavior of the legendary lawman hit the screen, some of my fellow moviegoers felt the need to offer guffaws, and one guy actually yelled out "that's bullshit!" 

No my friend, you are the bullshit.

Immortals: 4.5 of 5 Horns
FROM IMDB: "Theseus is a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion, who is on a rampage across Greece to obtain a weapon that can destroy humanity."

I love the films of Tarsem Singh...for pre-viewing research, check out The Fall, from 2006 or The Cell from 2000...yep, The Cell...that flick with J Lo.  Both films are so vivid, the decent stories in each are forgiven for the stunning visuals.

Mirror, Mirror, the other Snow White click, is due in early 2012 and it will be Tarsem's fourth film and I have high hopes.  I also like the look of Snow White and The Huntsman.  If you haven't yet, check out the trailer.

Immortals is a really well made film, that like Tarsem's previous efforts, look beautiful.  This is an example of 3-D truly enhancing the product by giving great depth of field.

This is a fantasy, and there are bit with the Greek Gods intertwined with the story of the mortals, and the one who would save them.

Henry Cavill is Theseus.  Henry Cavill is the next Superman, in the Chris Nolan produced reboots.  Cavill shows himself here to be fully capable in the hero role.  His boyish looks have a sense of innocence that should translate well into the Clark Kent side of Supe.

Mickey Rourke plays King Hyperion in yet another role in which he seems to have born to play.

There is a fight sequence towards the end of the film that is Matrix-esque and for 2011, just as exciting.

Immortals is billed as being from the Producers of 300, and it is worth the billing.  Stephen Dorff is

Martha Marcy May Marlene: 4 of 5 Horns
FROM IMDB: "Haunted by painful memories and increasing paranoia, a damaged woman struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult."

This film may be best known for starring an Olsen, not one of the twins, even younger...Elizabeth Olsen, 22 years old, and a fragile being in this film, freshly escaped from a collective farm/cult.  She flees into the arms of a long lost sister, two years removed from each other's lives while she was living under the roof of "the family." 

The "father," Patrick, is played masterfully by John Hawkes.  Hawkes is coming off a banner 2010 having been nominated for best supporting actor for his role of Teardrop in Winter's Bone.  Not to typecast this force of the silver screen, but he was built for roles like this, a very similar character, hard and worn, to last year's Teardrop.

After two years in the family, Martha has had enough, and one morning, she hits the trail at the crack of dawn.  She calls her sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), and after being gone for two years, she is more than happy to reconnect with Martha.

Martha is not forthcoming with what she has been through, but it becomes obvious to Lucy, that something is wrong.  It is also obvious to Ted (Hugh Dancy), Lucy's husband, who had never met Martha, and who is very astute to Martha's oddities.

The film is told in two parts, toggling back and forth from the beginning of Martha's run with the family and the beginning of her time again with her long lost sister.

The tension in this film builds as the running time continues...but it never rises to its billing as a thriller, which is really my only complaint.  The tension comes from Martha's experiences in the family and the discomfort that grows as Martha's social awkwardness grows less and less tolerated. 

I enjoyed this film and I think that Olsen, Hawkes, and Paulson will all be contenders come Oscar season, as well as screenwriter and director Sean Durkin, who has already been nominated for Best Breakthrough Director in the Gotham Awards.

Check it out, if for no other reason, to see something different from the mostly trashy flicks playing in theaters now.

Speaking of trash...

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1: 3 of 5 Horns
Now the Mrs. Reel Rhino disagrees with my feelings of mundanity towards this penultimate entry into the Stephanie Meyer series, but it isn't the first time I have disputed with my lady, and it won't be the last.

There were a few decent moments in this flick, but my chief complaint remains this is such a far fetched presentation of teens, let alone teens in love.  I guess living as long as Edward has, you could do little else but be a piney little whiner.

If you remember a few posts ago, I gave the Team Jacob flick, Abduction, a passing 4 of 5 horns review.  That review stands, and I also think that T Laut is one of the few people in this flick that can actually act. Lautner, Billy Burke, and Ashley Greene, and Anna Kendrick are really the ones in this that I find palatable.  Billy Burke because he;s a cool dude, Kendrick because she is legitimately talented albeit misused as a comic sidekick honoring the role she created before she hit it big, and Ashley Green because, well as Mrs. Reel Rhino put is, is adorable.

Lautner had me going full on Team Jacob, until that scene were he was wolfed out and has the meeting with his wold pack, him proclaiming "I follow no one....I am the grandson of a chief!!!!"  The wolfpack scene was re-dick-U-lous.

I didn't hate this movie...I just find it more silly than it had to be, and for a richer bit of acting, the story may actually have stuck a little more solid. 

Notice how I didn't mention Kristen Stewart....yep, that was on purpose.  I only hope she is asleep through much of Snow White and the Huntsman, which otherwise looks pretty damn good.  I'm not trying to judge, but she is terribly melodramatic.

See this movie if you must.  See it on the big screen if you plan on seeing it, as it will accentuate it just a little bit...speaking of accentuating the movie going experience.  There was a crying infant front and center.  The screaming lasted from beginning to end...intermittently.  When the baby wasn't yelling, the other audience members the baby's parents.  Nice.  See also, my last post on being an ass at the theater.  These people qualified whole hearted as a bunch of asses.  Nice one.

Our Idiot Brother: 4 of 5 Horns
From IMDB: "A comedy centered on an idealist who barges into the lives of his three sisters."

A formulaic, but enjoyable film, featuring Paul Rudd as said Idiot Brother.  This film has a star studded cast in Rashida Jones, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, Steve Coogan, T.J. Miller, and Kathryn Hahn.

Basically, Paul Rudd is sent to jail for selling weed to a uniformed officer.  This act should give some insight to the intelligence level of the man, but what you also see out of the gate is the heart of this guy.  He is as compassionate and caring as he is idiotic, but most of his caring leads to more idiotic antics.

After being released from jail, we see him bounce from his mother's house, to each of his sister's, and back to his mother's.  In each scenario, Rudd's Ned gets involved in the lives of his family, and in each scenario, he gets them into hot water.

The formulaic part is that in the end, everyone is better for the chaos that has invaded their lives.  That is no spoiler, but only info as to the type of movie...for take away the f-bombs and weed dealing, and this would almost qualify as a feel good family film.

Instead, we have a really competent adult comedy with a decent feel good flow to it.

Check it out when you get a chance, which will likely be at home as this flick has already been through a pretty limited run in the theaters.


That's a lot of movies!  I am about spent and for now, I will bid you adieu.  Until next time, take care!
Reel Rhino