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Monday, June 27, 2011

True Grit Jeff Bridges Matt Damon Movie Review

I have never seen the original film starring John Wayne. With that in mind, I have to think that Jeff Bridges' performance in True Grit would make The Duke proud.

True Grit is the classic eye-for-an-eye western.  A young girl's father is killed and she sets out for revenge by hiring a gritty US Marshal to track him down.

If you saw the movie Crazy Heart, a tremendous effort by Bridges, you'll know the performance. A flawed, out of shape, sloppy, grizzled, cowboy, worn down by the years looking for the next gig that doesn't promise much else but another meal ticket. Bridges is simply terrific and, I might add, virtually unrecognizable in the film.

Matt Damon does a nice job too as the not so nice Texas Ranger who reluctantly partners up to catch the bad guys.

The Coen brothers dialog is just great.  Very gritty but also  poetic. The exchanges between the characters feel so raw and genuine yet every line is virtually quotatable. You'll love the abusive exchanges between Damon and Bridges. Their biting words show they have a history that is not all friendly.

I was pleasantly surprised too when the bad guys finally show up.  Sure, you know they are rotten but there isn't that over the top sinister contrived black-hat disposition that can so easily be over played in a Western film.

There is nothing wry or quirky in this film, which is shocking for a Coen brother's film.  The Coen brothers stepped out of their own skin to make this a true Western film and created a masterpiece.

Check it out.


If you get a chance, please check out some of my other TurtleDog film reviews

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Another Interesting End of the World Film

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Black Swan - Wow! Awesome

Another End of The World Movie That You'll Love  - Click Here

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Last Night ( on Earth ) Sandra Oh Movie Review

Ever wonder what the final hours on Earth would be like if everyone knew the world was going to be destroyed?  The movie "Last Night" takes a crack at that very question.
Last Night is a 1998 film starring Sandra Oh.  It also costars Don McKellar. McKellar is also credited for writing and directing the film.  Last Night is set in a Canadian city where everyone has long known that the world is going to end soon at an exact date and time.  You never really know exactly what is causing the world to end but you get the impression, whatever it is, it is pretty hot out all the time and it never gets dark any more.

There are six hours left before the Earth is destroyed and a very diverse bunch of characters cross paths each of who have their own distinct and determined idea of how to spend their last six hours on Earth.

The film has a very deep, dark humor throughout with much irony.  This film is not at all a laugh a minute film but it is not a particularly depressing film either.  The characters don't show any particular melodramatic dread that their end is near. They just stay committed to their final plans.

The acting is pretty low key and effective.  Sandra Oh shows terrific, wryly funny, anguish and frustration at her often thwarted plans to spend her final hours with her husband.  Don McKellar does a decent, understated, acting job himself though I didn't feel as though his character posed any tremendous challenge.

The direction and writing (by McKellar) was excellent and took the movie on a course that I didn't expect.  I loved how he has the world, in its final hours, being rather blasé  toward the world's end.  Sure, there is some danger and chaos in the streets but the film isn't a free for all of suffering and panic. This is a relief and shows that McKellar takes some low key but effective risks in the script.     A great job on the setting.  The Canadian city is wonderfully empty, eerie and calm, yet you know things are not quite right or even safe for that matter.  
This is not the greatest end of the world film ever (and I've been watching a bunch lately) but it does a good job of putting a new twist on the 'world-is-ending' genre.

Rated R
2 hour

Please Read Some of My Other Reviews Below as Well

Gritty Nuk War Film - Threads

Another Interesting Nuclear Armageddon Film

Great Argentina Cop Flick

Denzel Washington - Runaway Train Movie

Black Swan - Natalie Portman Shines

Another End of The World Movie That You'll Love  - Click Here

Monday, June 20, 2011

The King's Speech Colin Firth Geoffrey Rush Movie Review

Directed by Tom Hopper and Written by David Seidler, is set in England on the eve of World War Two.  Colin Firth plays King George VI who has a speech impediment that causes him great anxiety leading to stammering when speaking in public.   Geoffrey Rush plays Lionel Logue, a speech therapist hired to train the reluctant king.

This is a terrific film.  No surprises that it won so many awards.  At first I thought it would be another overly elaborate, pompous, costume flick but to my surprise it could not have been further from it.

I had also worried that it would be, well, boring.  I mean c'mon, we're talking about a royal highness who has every luxury in the world handed to him and here's a therapist trying to get his majesty over a little stuttering, right?  Wrong.   For a movie that has virtually no actions scenes, there is a tremendous suspense to the film, especially as the viewer realizes that the British resistance to Nazi Germany and perhaps the fate of the war itself, rests in King George VI ability to speak to England.

The writing and acting in the film is tremendous.  Geoffrey Rush performs beautifully.  He carries his character with great panache yet manages to remain wonderfully (somewhat) understated throughout the film. His subtle mannerisms, and hound-dog expression held my attention during every scene.

Colin Firth is terrific as well.  You can feel the anxiety of King George VI every time he opens his mouth. The scene where is struggles to tell his children a story is both heart breaking and heart warming at the same time. The final climatic scene where he gives his speech is as suspenseful as just about every sports movie ending I can think of.

Wonderful writing. The characters are neither superheros nor evil villains. They are just as vulnerable and human as the rest of us. They have good days and bad and carry the burden of all their subtle flaws.

When you watch The Kings Speech, check out how each scene is set up.  Very interesting how Tom Hopper uses tight spaces when shooting film. Congested hallways, tiny elevators, closed spaces and a film shot almost entirely indoors. Is this just because building designs were smaller at the time or is this to emphasize a man whose voice is trapped inside himself?

The Kings Speech is not without its flaws.  The film itself is very cliche. You have the struggles of a flawed teacher and an unwilling student. They come together, they drift bitterly apart, then reconcile and seize the day.  Think Good Will Hunting and you'll know what I mean. It is that sort of film. Two people from two very different worlds forced together with their own ideas and their own flaws, learning more about themselves the more they learn about each other.   What prevents The Kings Speech from being overly cliche is the subject itself is supposedly, largely, historically accurate and rather unique in itself.
This film deserved every award it received. See it sometime.

Gritty Nuk War Film - Threads

Another Interesting Nuclear Armageddon Film

Great Argentina Cop Flick

Denzel Washington - Runaway Train Movie

Black Swan - Natalie Portman Shines

Another End of The World Movie That You'll Love  - Click Here

Thanks! Please check out some of my other TurtleDog movie reviews if you get a chance

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Threads Movie Review - Life After Nuclear War

What is life like after nuclear war? The British movie "Threads" takes a very somber look at this very question.

Threads was produced for television in England in 1984.

In the film, NATO forces and the Warsaw Pact forces badly underestimate each others willingness to engage in nuclear conflict. The buildup to nuclear conflict can be heard through numerous television and radio broadcasts.  During this time British authorities make civil defense preparations in hopes of saving as many people and resources as possible. The two side engage in conventional warfare. Eventually conventional conflict ceases and nuclear war begins. The movie follows the surviving characters up to 13 years past the nuclear exchange.

If you ever saw the American-made nuclear holocaust film, "The Day After" you'll only have the slightest idea of the power of the movie "Threads". Threads makes The Day After look like a lighthearted film.  I know nothing of ICBM's and nuclear air bursts but after watching Threads I feel as though I have a very good idea of what traumatic horrors to expect during, and after a nuclear conflict.

The feel of the movie is bleak and somber.The mood of the film is directed perfectly. You feel the horror of war at its worst without all the melodrama and heroism so often built into films. The horror never lets up as the atmosphere is heavy both in psychological despair and suffering. The devastation is absolutely complete and leaves nothing to spare. No buildings, no food, no friendships, no piece of mind.  The atmosphere of each scene is as wonderfully heavy as the rubble of the cities.

The film is not perfect. There are some faults. In one scene parents forget their child is playing outside when they know the bomb is coming.Wouldn't that be the first thing you'd worry about? 

Another flaw is late in the film. To paint a picture, everything is rubble and without hope. Humans are so consumed with survival nothing has been rebuilt. So.... why are there still some electric lamps working?  Do light bulbs really last that long?

That said, Threads is by far the most powerful nuclear war film I have seen yet.  In spite of its flaws, the movie is really impressed me with all the details it contained regarding the speculation as to what would happen after such a battle and how fragile society is.

This is a disturbing film that very much impressed me.

My Posts by TurtleDog - Please Check Them Out

Another Interesting Nuclear Aftermath Film - Intriguing Mockumentary

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Terrific Murder Mystery Film from Argentina

Denzel Washington - Do You Like Train Movies? Check out This Runaway Train

Black Swan - Natalie Portman is a Great Actress

Another End of The World Movie That is Excellent  - Click Here

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The War Game - What Happens After Nuculear War - Movie Review

What happens after a limited nuclear war?  What kinds of social changes are there? How many people die? How will the survivors suffer? What can trigger such a war?

The film "The War Game" is a 1965 mockumentary that attempts to answer those questions. Filmed as a mockumentary, The War Game takes a look at the town of Kent, England, which is hit by a Russian Nuclear missle.

This film was banned by the BBC for being too horrifying for British television, then it went on to win Best Documentary.

The War Game It shows the effects of a nuclear shootout and gradual degradation of society over the course of a few weeks after a nuclear strike.  The most fascinating part of the film is how it graphically portrays the effect of the nuclear blast up to a 60 mile radius from ground zero.  The instant retina burning flash, the spontaneous burning of flesh, the severe shock waves that follow the first blast, the 100 mile and hour winds created by, of all things, the intense fires in the towns and cities.  Very eerie.

The film has an appearance of a nightmare filmed in an 'old fashioned' newsreel program It is a black and white film, shot mockumentary style by a camera man (who you never see) with one camera. An unflinching, steady, voice over provides narration for the film.

The film really takes some big chances that I didn't think would go over well in 1965, if ever. The film more or less blames the United States for the first-strike that instigates the limited nuclear war that causes the most harm to England. Pretty bold considering it would be much easier to blame The Soviet Union or communist China than British ally The United States.

The War Game also takes some interesting shots at the Catholic church, portraying the church as ignorant and misguided yet insistent on giving their opinion on nuclear war.

The movie is only about 45 minutes long. If you have a chance to see it, check it out.

More Movie Reviews By TurtleDog

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Black Swan - Did it Deserve Best Picture? Learn Here

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Thanks for reading my "The War Game" film review. Please check out my other posts!

The Secret In Their Eyes - Foreign Police Mystery Movie Review

Slick, Smart, Argentine murder mystery movie.  The Secret in their Eyes is subtitled foreign film set in Argentina about a crime investigator that becomes obsessed with solving the murder of a young newlywed woman who is brutally raped and murdered.

The old murder movie mystery theme might sound overdone and cliche, but The Secret in Their Eyes is really intelligently written, directed and acted.

There is a lot going on in this film which keeps every scene fresh and lively.  The movie is police thriller without overdone action at every turn; It is a romance that can not be fulfilled; The scenes have the character of an well shot art film, without being too artsy; There are twists and turns that keep surprising but not confusing.

The characters are wonderfully flawed and vulnerable.  Each character clearly has a jaded past, but not exactly corrupt or horrible. The characters have lived long lives and, like so many, bear the weight of life's experiences.

This is a film that is hard to define. Juan José Campanella writes and directs in a style that almost has an Alfred Hitchcock style to it. The twist in the end is terrific.

There are some disturbing scenes but these moments are not fatuous and fit the film well and drive the plot.

The Secret in their Eyes won Best Foreign Language Film.  It deserved it.


Rated R

129 Minutes

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Another Year Movie Review - Great Character Study Film

So rare is there a film anymore that can simply make it on great writing and great acting alone.  Another Year is one of those true gems that is completely void of melodramatic conflict, over the top tragedy, profound humor and intense love making.

Another Year succeeds because Mike Leigh writes and directs a terrific film with a wonderful, not so A-list cast.

Another Year follows a family and friends through one year of their lives.  There is nothing particular remarkable about this family other than you just fall in love with how genuine they are.

This film is a beautiful mix of great acting and directing. Writing too, of course, but the true pulse of this film comes in wonderful way director Mike Leigh and the terrific cast  bring the movie to life in wonderful harmony.  

Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen are terrific as loving husband and wife.  A true study in acting. They way they interact through simple gestures and expressions really makes you believe they are lifelong partners.

While there is a lot of dialog, Mike Leigh does not let the talking do the work for the audience. There is no talking down to the viewer in this film.  The dialog alone does not dictate what emotions the audience should feel. Watching this film, the emotions just come through naturally as if you were really there, with this family.

I really loved Mike Leigh's film and hope to see many more.  If you like a lot of action and suspense, this film might not be for you.  If you enjoy a movie that is well written, directed and acted, without over the top melodrama, you'll love it.

Something to look for in the film.... I can't speak with any expertise on this, but pay attention to how the scenes are blocked. It is the first film I have ever watched where the actors are positioned so ingeniously while remaining completely natural.  What do you think? Any film students out there?

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Rescue Dawn - Werner Herzog Christian Bale Vietnam Prison Movie Review

The rescue dawn is a Vietnam War film based on the capture, imprisonment and escape of American air force pilot Deiter Dengler.

The film is a predictable POW Vietnam war film. A pilot is shot down, attempts to avoid capture, is captured, told to denounce his country (which he doesn't), is tortured and imprisoned in deplorable conditions.  Then, of course, there is the escape. Because it is the same formula, the film really needs that extra effort by the performers and a few surprises along the way.  (As a side note, there is much debate about the authenticity of the film, so for anyone to excuse the film's predictability because it is 'the truth' should be aware that much of the 'facts' in the movie are in dispute)

Christian Bale (Batman, The Fighter) plays Deiter Dengler, the captured US pilot.  His acting is sound and he does go the extra mile by losing a ton of weight to play a more convincing, depraved prisoner of war. Bale plays the formula war hero. Likable, charismatic, unflappable, selfless soldier who makes the best of the situation. Bale plays such a seen-before character that he never really has the chance to achieve any great level of performance. A nice job, but not extraordinary.

Jeremy Davis, plays Gene (aka Eugene Henry), another prisoner of war. Davis, who played Charles Manson just two years prior in the made for TV movie "Helter Skelter" never seems to leave the Manson character.  He looks just like a young Charles Manson and acts just like Manson throughout the film. His intention was to play a character losing his mind from years of imprisonment but he merely copies his "Helter Skelter" performance.  It is disappointing that Werner Herzog could be so oblivious  to the copy cat performance, and appearance. Davis wears the same hair style and nearly the same facial hair as Manson. Couldn't have Herzog suggested a different but equally destitute hair style?

Come to think of it, there was another POW-fail in this film too. There was an Asian prisoner of war in the camp that was quite big compared to the others.  Was he slipping out to Outback for steak dinners while the others ate bugs and rice?

I can not say I hated the film, I just couldn't find anything that would redeem it above mediocrity. It didn't help either that there is at least one Internet site that denounces the movie as completely untrue and offensive to the Dengler family and former prisoners of war.

For the die-hard POW war film lovers out there, I'd say check it out sometime. For the rest of us, I wouldn't put this too high on your NetFlix queue.


Rated PG-13

2 Hours 6 Minutes

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