Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rock of Ages (2012)

Just a small town girl...

Sherry leaves Tulsa to seek out fame and fortune in LA.  She meets Drew and they fall in love.  The rest is rock n' roll legend.  If you love rock music, movies about music and/ or musicals, you will probably like this film.  I usually don't like musicals, but since the songs are mostly from my youth, I was way into this movie (I was singing along from the opening credits).  Rock of Ages doesn't take itself super seriously and is downright cheesy at points, but it was entertaining and made me laugh out loud.  It doesn’t just perpetuate stereotypes, it embraces them and pokes fun at them.  It might not win any awards, but it is definitely funny, and fun too. 

Rock of Ages gets 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Adam Shankman
Writer: Justin Theroux, Chris D'Arienzo
Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta and Tom Cruise
Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
Metacritic: 47 out of 100

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sound of Noise (2010)

An assault on the senses

Amadeus is a police detective who is tone deaf and also detests music.  When a group of renegade musicians begins staging very avant-garde percussion performances around the city, Amadeus begins investigating.  This film is quite funny, a bit ludicrous (by intent), and very poignant.  The Swedes sure can make some great movies.  Another great Magnolia release!

Sound of Noise gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Ola Simonsson, Johannes Stjärne Nilsson
Writer: Ola Simonsson, Johannes Stjärne Nilsson
Starring: Bengt Nilsson, Sanna Persson and Magnus Börjeson
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Metacritic: 72 out of 100

Friday, November 23, 2012

Extraterrestre (2011)

So what happened last night?

Julio wakes up in a strange apartment with a strange woman.  Neither of them remember much about the previous night's exploits.  And to make things even more confusing, apparently aliens invaded earth while they slept.  From the director of Los cronocrimenes (Timecrimes) comes a lighthearted approach to the alien invasion genre.  The bigger sci-fi concepts sreve as the backdrop for what it really, a romantic comedy.  This film is funny and endearing.  Great writing, great acting and great cinematography make this film more than just a sci-fi flick or just a romantic comedy.  Most definitely one of my new favorite movies. 

Extraterrestre gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Writer: Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Michelle Jenner, Carlos Areces, Raúl Cimas and Julián Villagrán
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%

Metacritic: N/A

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

A new Spider-Man?

I was sad that Sam Raimi's trilogy fell apart at the end.  But even Spider-Man 3 is better than this film.  The first half of this film is unbearably slow.  Andrew Garfield makes Peter Parker look like a total douche.  Sally Field and Martin Sheen are too recognizable from other work to be believable in their respective roles.  Once the action starts (about an hour into it) the film gets good.  But the first half fails to make an impression.  The stunts and effects are good, but overall, this film is a big waste of time.  It could have easily been 30 minutes shorter, and thus much better.

The Amazing Spider-Man just barely manages to get 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer)
Writer: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent,Steve Kloves
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Metacritic: 66 out of 100

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hodejegerne (Headhunters) (2011)

My baby's got a secret

Roger Brown has secrets.  He uses his position as a corporate headhunter to gain intel on prospective hires.  And the intel he seeks is about art - do they have precious artwork?  If he finds out that they do, he steals and fences to fuel his luxurious lifestyle.  Then Clas Greve enters the picture.  And the next two hours is one big Norwegian thrill ride.  Scandinavians (Danes, Swedes, Norwegians) can make some really great films.  Such as Let the Right One In, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, The Trollhunter, and others I've seen in the past couple of years.  Hodejegerne is very intelligent, yet not too cerebral to be inaccessible to the average movie goer.  But, sadly, a Hollywod remake is in the works which as most remakes do, will pale by comparison to the original.

With more plot twists that a pretzel, Hodejegerne thrilled me and gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Lars Gudmestad, Ulf Ryberg
Starring: Aksel Hennie, Synnøve Macody Lund and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Metacritic: 72 out of 100

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cloud Atlas (2012)

Have we met?

Several different stories from different time periods, past, present and are woven together.  Each story is bound to the other by common elements - a piece of music, a birthmark.  I read the book of the same name by David Mitchell and have been jonesing to see this ever since I heard it was being translated to the big screen.  And the filmmakers didn't disappoint.  Cloud Atlas could have been really good (which it is) ot not so good.  Everything about this film was great - the acting, the sets, the cinematography, the FX, everything.  One mark of a truly good film is wanting to see it again.  And I lay down to sleep last night, all I could think about was this film and how I wish to see it again. 

Cloud Atlas earns its 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski
Writer: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, and Andy Wachowski
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae (The Host), and Hugh Grant
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Metacritic: 55 out of 100

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mesrine: L'Instinct de mort (2008)

Dehors ou mort!

When Jacques Mesrine returns home from the army to start a new life, he falls in with some unsavory characters.  Then he becomes an unsavory character as well - a murderer, bank robber, and fugitive from the law.  Part one of a 2-part story, this film is well written, beautifully shot and powerfully acted.  Plus I am a big fan of Vincent Cassell (Black Swan, Eastern Promises).  He is a great actor, but came to life in this role in a way I'd never seen him come alive before.  Fans of films based on true stories and gangster movies will love this one.  I can't wait to see part 2, Mesrine: L'ennemi public no. 1.

Mesrine: L'Instinct de mort gagne 4 de 5 Poblanos!

Director: Jean-François Richet
Writer: Abdel Raouf Dafri
Starring: Vincent Cassel, Cécile De France, Elena Anaya, (The Skin I Live In (2011)and Gérard Depardieu
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Metacritic: 71 out of 100

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jori Dreams of Sushi (2011)

Raw fish never looked so good

This documentary tells the story of Jiro who left his family at age 7.  Since then he has worked hard to become a master sushi chef.  Now at 85 years of age, Jiro's sushi restaurant is a Tokyo landmark which has been awarded 3 Michelin stars (their highest rating).  At $300 per meal, it is a dining experience, one which requires advance booking, sometimes months in advance.  This film is a cut above most documentaries.  I don't even like sushi, but this film makes me want to eat some.  What a great story and another great release from Magnolia Films!

Jiro Dreams of Sushi cooks up 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: David Gelb
Writer: N/A
Starring: Jiro Ono and Yoshikazu Ono
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Metacritic: 77 out of 100

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mandrill (2009)

I've waited my whole life for this

Antonio's parents were murdered in front of his eyes when he was a child.  He has spent his life since then seeking revenge for their deaths.  And he finally gets his opportunity.  The first hour or so of the film was great, one part James Bond, one part Austin Powers and one part Oldboy (a Korean revenge flick).  I lost interest after that as the tone of the film and the characters themselves changed.  The film becomes almost a caricature of itself, which might have been the director's intent.  Directed by Chilean director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza, this action film is very stylized with acrobatic choreography and slow-mo enhanced sequences.  The fighting is more akin to dancing than martial arts.  It could just be a style I've never seen before. 

A good solid action film which pays tribute to the 1970s, Mandrill gets respect with 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Ernesto Díaz Espinoza
Writer: Ernesto Díaz Espinoza
Starring: Marko Zaror, Celine Reymond and Alejandro Castillo
Rotten Tomatoes: 63% (audience reviews only)
Metacritic: not reviewed

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Don't go into the woods

A group of friends go off for a weekend in the woods.  The cabin they're staying in seems a bit creepy, but the group chooses to make the most of it.  Then the zombies come.  The rest, could be fairly predictable, even cliche, if not for Joss Whedon doing a bit of reconstruction on the horror genre.  This is one of those great genre films that manages to pay tribute to the genre while exceeding it at the same time.  I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

Cabin in the Woods scares up 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Drew Goddard (Cloverfield,  Alias, Lost)
Writer: Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dollhouse, The Avengers),  Drew Goddard
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Fran Kranz (Dollhouse), Bradley Whitford and Anna Hutchison
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Metacritic: 72%

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beyond the Black Rainbow

A long strange trip

Elena is held in a facility, seemingly against her will.  She is controlled by a glowing pyramid.  And yes, it gets weirder.  Set in 1983, this film is billed as an homage to sci-fi thrillers of the 1980s.  The visuals are very striking, the cinematography is great, but Beyond the Black Rainbow lacks a lot.  The story is very thin, and at times is non-existent.  This is resolution to the story at the end, but it could have been arrived at in half the time.  It might have worked well as a short film, but fails as a feature.  To say it is weird is an understatement. 

Beyond the Black Rainbow gets 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Panos Cosmatos
Writer: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Eva Allan, Michael Rogers and Scott Hylands
Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
Metacritic: 49 out of 100

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Town (2010)

One more hit

When a group of Boston thieves decide to pull one last big job.  That's pretty much it.  But the writers and director make this way more exciting than I did in that sentence.  I like Affleck much better as a director than an actor.  He is a great actor, but I feel like he is best when he is writing and directing.  There is a great story here (based on a novel), great characters, and some great action.  An intelligent, well made film.  I am a Ben Affleck fan.

The Town gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Ben Affleck
Writer: Peter Craig, Ben Affleck, and Aaron Stockard
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, and Rebecca Hall
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Metacritic: 74 out of 100

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Missing Person (2009)

Who's after who?

A hard drinking private detective is hired to track a man down.  As he follows him across country, the detective realizes something is not quite right.  Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) does a superb bit of acting playing an archetypal PI in this neo-noir flick.  He manages to act either drunk or hungover in a very convincing way.  Amy Ryan does a great job deadpanning as Miss Charlie.  Definitely worth watching. 

The Missing Person gets a respectable 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Noah Buschel
Writer: Noah Buschel
Starring: Michael Shannon, Frank Wood and Amy Ryan
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Metacritic: 57%

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Raid: Redemption (2011)

Did we just walk into a video game?

A swat team enters notorious tenement to take down a local crime lord.  They learn very quickly that they have bitten off more then they can chew.  The rest of the film is pure fighting mayhem as the swat team tries to fight their way to the top, then fight desperately to escape.  Gareth Evans (Merantau) returns with a vengeance in this grimy, yet slick, action flick.  And oh yeah, this film is awesome.  I've been foaming at the mouth to see on DVD like a couple of other recent films that I've reviewed.  This film is very easily better than 90% of all Hollywood action films. Even if the story was worthless (which it definitely is not) the fight choreography alone would make this worth watching. 

The Raid: Redemption kicks its way to the top with 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Gareth Evans
Writer: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais (Merantau), Ananda George and Ray Sahetapy
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Battle Royale (2000)

Kill 'em all!

When young people in Japan become virtually uncontrollable, the Japanese government organizes the Battle Royale.  Each year, one class is chosen, taken to a remote location, and is forced to kill each other as punishment.  Sound remotely familiar?  It is a little like the Hunger Games but this film satisfies where the Hunger Games disappointed.  Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the Hunger Games (the book more so than the film), but Battle Royale is like the Hunger Games on speed.  And that is a good thing.  B.R. has lots of action, some humour and a certain band of quirkiness that only the Japanese can manage.

Battle Royale gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writer: Koushun Takami (novel), Kenta Fukasaku (screenplay)
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda and Tarô Yamamoto
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Metacritic: 81 out of 100

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011)

Another last day

This film generated some buzz last year at some festivals and on some websites. I have been jonesing to see it for months now.  It got a very limited cinema release and never came anywhere near me.  I finally got it from Netflix the other day and very much wish I could go back in time and take it off my queue.  This film was bad.  Really bad.  Like terribly bad.  The filmmakers jumped on the bandwagon of 'earth disaster' films, but they forgot to bring a good story or decent acting.  The acting was bad.  The writing was bad.  Everything was bad.  Its like a B-movie gone wrong.  It felt very contrived as if it were trying too hard to be important.  Instead of watching this train wreck, try Melancholia, Another Earth, or Tres Dias. 

4:44 Last Day on Earth gets 1 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Abel Ferrara
Writer: Abel Ferrara
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Shanyn Leigh and Natasha Lyonne
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Metacritic: 54 out of 100

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Catfish (2010)

That girl can paint! (or can she?)

Nev receives paintings from a young girl named Abby.  Slowly he gets to know Abby's entire family.  As time goes on her realizes things are a little fishy and mpt entirely what they seem.  When Nev and his friends decide to make a surprise visit to Abby's house in Michigan, things get a little weird.  Very well done and convincingly well told.

Catfish grabs 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Writer: N/A
Starring: Yaniv Schulman, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Metacritic: 65 out of 100

Sunday, August 19, 2012

1981 (2009)

The misadventures of Ricardo Trogi

Written and directed by the adult Trogi, 1981 recounts young Ricardo's move to a new neighbourhood.  I love, I repeat, absolutely love movies about childhood.  The Goonies and Stand By Me are the standards followed closely by The Sandlot.  1981 holds its own against those classics.  This film is really funny and very poignant.  It is also a French Canadian film and is heavy on the dialect.  Ricardo's mom has such a thick accent that I could hardly catch a word she said.  To me that makes her even funnier.

1981 is one of those rare, near perfect films and earns its 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Ricardo Trogi
Writer: Ricardo Trogi
Starring: Jean-Carl Boucher, Claudio Colangelo and Sandrine Bisson
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Metacritic: Not Reviewed

Thursday, July 26, 2012

La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In) 2011

Vengeance is mine?
Roberto is a well known, well respected surgeon with a haunted past.  His life has taken tragic turns so he throws himself into his cutting edge work.  Vera, one of Roberto's patients, is held captive by him in his home.  Told in a dual timeline form, this narrative weaves from present to past and back to the present as we learn how Vera and Roberto ended with their lives thus entwined. This is my first time seeing Banderas in a Spanish language film and his performance makes me like and respect him much more than before.  Very well told and extremely intriguing, this film is worth a watch. 

La piel que habito gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar, Agustín Almodóvar
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya and Jan Cornet
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Metacritic: 70 out of 100

Saturday, July 21, 2012

NEDS (2010)

John McGill is an intelligent young boy.  His brother however is a miscreant.  As John gets older, he falls in with the same rough crowd his brother used to hang with.  His life begins to spiral out of control.  Wonderfully written, shot and acted, NEDS is a truly great film.  It is a coming of age story that show how wrong things can go and how they can be made right again.  Note: 'Neds' is Scottish slang meaning the equivalent of a hoodlum or hooligan.

NEDS gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Peter Mullan
Writer: Peter Mullan
Starring: Conor McCarron, Greg Forrest and Joe Szula
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Metacritic: 71 out of 100

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

30 Minutes or Less (2011)

Drive carefully
Nick, a pizza delivery guy, gets kidnapped, has a bomb strapped to his body, and is forced to rob a bank.  This movie is laugh out loud funny.  Actually, Aziz Ansari is the funniest guy in the whole movie.  For me, he makes the movie. Apart from him there are a few other funny moments, but most of the laughs come from him. 

30 Minutes or Less gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland)
Writer: Michael Diliberti
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Dilshad Vadsaria, and Michael Peña
Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
Metacritic: 49 out of 100

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Green Lantern (2011)

Its not easy being Green
Another comic book character cash cow.  This one is a real snooze fest.  Its not so much that it was predictable because to a certain extent all superhero movies are predictable.  Its not even that Ryan Reynolds was the absolute last person that should be playing Hal Jordan (much love to Ryan, star of the outstanding Buried).  I'm even a fan of Blake Lively, but the story was not interesting, the writing was poor and I didn't care about the characters.  And I feel asleep during the action sequences toward the end. 

The Green Lantern gets a very unheroic 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Martin Campbell
Writer: Greg Berlanti (screenplay), Michael Green (screenplay)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard
Rotten Tomatoes: 27%
Metacritic: 39 out of 100

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Get out while you still can
With looting and rioting happening in Paris, a group of hoodlums flees to the countryside.  They find themselves besieged by a family of neo-nazis.  This film was actually not as bad as it sounds, or at least not as bad as it could have been.  Think Hostel, but in French.  Having seen The Divide also by Xavier Gens, I had an inkling of what kind of film this would be.  Some of the visuals were very striking.  Gens managed to create a fair amount of tension.  The story is decent, but quite predictable.  Worth a watch if you like horror flicks. 

Frontiere(s) gets 3 out of 5 Poblanos

Director: Xavier Gens
Writer: Xavier Gens
Starring: Karina Testa, Aurélien Wiik and Patrick Ligardes
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Metacritic: 44 out of 100

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Prometheus (2012)

Never trust a robot
The scientific crew of the Prometheus is tasked to find evidence of an ancient civilization on a distant planet.  Upon arrival, the crew discovers a structure .  And if you're ever seen any of the Alien films, you can guess what happens next when they begin to explore it.   Ridley Scott has made another fantastic sci-fi thriller.  And while it is not specifically an "Alien" story, this film still fits well into the existing Alien cannon of films. The only thing keeping me from giving it the maximum '5' is a couple of ridiculous situations.  But despite any minor flaws, Prometheus delivers an engrossing story, great action, gorgeous sets and lots of entertainment.  And after all, isn't that what films are about?

Prometheus extracts 4 out of 5 Poblanos! 

Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Jon Spaihts (The Darkest Hour), Damon Lindelof (Lost)
Starring:  Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbende, Idris Elba, and Charlize Theron
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Metacritic: 65 out of 100

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Darkest Hour (2011)

Back in the USSR
A group of young people are trapped in Moscow during a worldwide alien invasion.  While trying to survive, they also figure out how to stop the aliens.  This film got panned by the critics, but I really liked it for several reasons.  Firstly, the concept is interesting and original.  The alien invasion story has been done (and overdone), this film explores it in a fresh way.  Also, no character is safe; anyone can die.  Lastly, it is just a fun film, something that is missing in Hollywood.  Everyone wants to be edgy and cool, but where's the fun?  Sure some of the action is implausible and there are a couple of plot holes, but the film remains enjoyable (unlike some big budget films, Fast Five being one) and is much better than most things Hollywood puts out.  The Darkest Hour is produced by one of my favorite directors Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Day Watch, Wanted)

The Darkest Hour gets a respectable 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Chris Gorak
Writer: Jon Spaiht
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby and Max Minghella
Rotten Tomatoes: 11%
Metacritic: 16 out of 100

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Road to Nowhere (2010)

A story within a story
A filmmaker's latest film attempts to tell the true story of betrayal, murder and suicide. As he gets deeper into the narrative and further into the film, tensions rise between he and his crew.  Road to Nowhere is a little bit Get Shorty and a little bit Mulholland Drive, but is nowhere near as good as either of those films.  Road to Nowhere is very slow, painfully slow at times. It is a good film and is very well made, but comes up lacking.

Road to Nowhere might not go anywhere, but still gets 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Monte Hellman
Writer: Steven Gaydos
Starring: Tygh Runyan, Dominique Swain and Cliff De Young
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Metacritic: 59%

Monday, May 28, 2012

Grave Encounters (2011)

Things that go 'bump' in the night
The crew of the reality show Grave Encounters, a show about paranormal activity, film an episode in an abandoned insane asylum.  Letting themselves be locked in for the night, their plan is to film all night and leave at sunrise.  But while locked in, they get way more than they bargained for.  Yet another 'found footage' film.  This one is not too bad.  The filmmakers manage to craft an interesting story with some genuine thrills.  This one is very reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project.

Grave Encounters gets 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: The Vicious Brothers
Writer: The Vicious Brothers
Starring: Sean Rogerson, Juan Riedinger and Ashleigh Gryzko
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Metacritic:33 out of 100

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pontypool (2009)

Its not what you said...
A morning radio host and his crew get some interesting reports of weird happening around town.  As things get more and more weird, the radio host and his two person crew find themselves trapped in their station building.  And then come the zombies.  This film is very tongue in cheek and very funny.  Pontypool offers a totally different take on the whole zombie genre.  Definitely worth watching.

Pontypool says it well with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo
Writer: Tony Burgess
Starring: Stephen McHattie, (The FountainWatchmen), Lisa Houle and Georgina Reilly
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Metacritic: 54 out of 100

Friday, May 18, 2012

Essential Killing (2010)

How did I end up here?
When a man kills a soldier and two civilians with a rocket launcher, he is taken into custody by the military.  Disoriented, imprisoned, interrogated, he is then transferred to an unknown location.  When the van he's in crashes, he gets free from his captors.  He runs, but has no idea where he is or where he is going.  His only goal is to survive.  Essential Killing transcends the medium and becomes an experience unlike few films I've ever seen.  There is almost no dialogue.  The film consists almost entirely of action.  The general tone of the film is tense.  This is an experience in film watching. 

Essential Killing earns all 5 Poblanos!

Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Writer: Jerzy Skolimowski, Ewa Piaskowska
Starring: Vincent Gallo and Emmanuelle Seigner
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Metacritic: not reviewed

Monday, May 14, 2012

Isolation (2005)

Eat more chicken
Dan owns a dairy farm.  When one of his cows is giving birth, the vet is bit by something in the birth canal.  Things go from bad to worse in this as Dan discovers that the whole thing is a genetic experiment gone wrong.  A cross between Alien and a nature show, this mildly creepy Irish mini-monster movie is better than it sounds.  There were a couple of good thrills and some creepy little creatures.

Isolation is thrilled me for a respectable 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Billy O'Brien
Writer: Billy O'Brien
Starring: John Lynch, Ruth Negga, Sean Harris and Marcel Iures
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Metacritic: not reviewed

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Sell the Dead (2008)

Invasion of the body snatchers
Arthur Blake is scheduled to be guillotined.  A priest is sent to hear his confession.  Arthur narrates the tale of his life leading up to how he ended up in the current situation.  With some humorous moments, I Sell The Dead is light popcorn fare.  As always though, British comedy always seems to be way funnier than American. 

I Sell The Dead manages to snatch 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Glenn McQuaid
Writer: Glenn McQuaid
Starring: Dominic Monaghan (Lost, LOTR), Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy, Bunraku) and Larry Fessenden (Stake Land)
Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Metacritic: 62%

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My Week With Marilyn (2011)

Blonds have more fun
Young Colin Clark has managed to get a break in the film industry and is working on his first film.  Marilyn Monroe travels to England to make a film with Laurence Olivier.  Colin becomes a sort of confidant to Ms. Monroe.  The story is interesting enough, but not engrossing.  After a while, I stopped caring about the characters.  The most poignant moments of the film were when Ms. Monroe alluded to her past.  Michelle Williams captures her essence brilliantly.  She made me forget I was watching her play Marilyn Monroe; she seemed to be channeling instead of acting.  Oh and did I mention Hermione (Emma Watson) is in it too?

My Week With Marilyn is an average film with one standout performance which gets 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Simon Curtis
Writer: Adrian Hodges (screenplay), Colin Clark (books)
Starring: Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine), Eddie Redmayne and Kenneth Branagh
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Metacritic: 65 out of 100

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Divide (2011)

when people stop being polite... and start getting real...
When an apocalyptic event descends on the Big Apple, a small group of survivors take refuge in the basement of their apartment building.  Trapped with no hope of escape, knowing that the world outside is a post nuclear wasteland anyways, the group hunkers down.  The situation is grim, but the survivors actually manage to make it worse.  This film takes place almost entirely in a basement. The director's use of the confined space is impressive (think Buried or The Exam).  The tone  is reminiscent of Tres Dias and Bellflower and has an ambiance similar to Alien and Sunshine - gritty, scary, out of control, and little depressing.  This film is powerful.  Watching it is like being run down by a truck that you know is going to hit you no matter what you do to escape.  The only thing that keeps The Divide from getting the maximum 5 Poblanos is pacing - the middle of the film drags a tad; 10 or 15 minutes less of this film could have made an improvement.  Nonetheless, I think it is brilliant and I absolutely loved it.

The Divide gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Xavier Gens
Writer: Karl Mueller, Eron Sheean
Starring: Lauren German, Michael Biehn (Grindhouse, Tombstone, The Abyss, Aliens), Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes), Courtney B. Vance, Rosanna Arquette
Rotten Tomatoes: 26%
Metacritic: 28 out of 100

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dante 01 (2008)

What just happened?
A group of scientists cohabit a space station with convicted criminals who live as prisoners.  The scientists do research on the prisoners.  One of the newly arrived prisoners has some kind of mystical powers.  Beyond that, I'm not sure what the point of this film is.  Some of the visuals are impressive and there is one particularly strong visual sequence towards the end, but it takes more than effects to make a good film.  The story of Marc Caro's solo directorial debut is weak, and the characters are little more than caricatures.

Dante 01 is a little lost in space with only 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Marc Caro (co-director of Delicatessen and La Cite des Enfants Perdu)
Writer: Marc Caro, Pierre Bordage
Starring: Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men), Linh Dan Pham and Dominique Pinon (La Cite des Enfants Perdue, Micmacs)
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Metacritic: not reviewed

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

Martha runs away from a bad situation.  She is reunited with her sister after two years. As the narrative unfolds, we see that she was a part of some kind of cult.  I was so bummed that I missed this when it was in the cinema.   So I've been jonesing for months to see it.  It is a great film - great acting, great storytelling using a dual timeline and flashbacks, and a great overall tone.  Elizabeth Olsen, younger sister of the Olsen twins, is pretty phenomenal and already puts anything her sisters has done to shame.  The story telling, production and camera work are all great, but Olsen's performance is the highlight of this film.  And John Hawkes gives another great creepy performance. 

Martha Marcy May Marlene gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Sean Durkin
Writer: Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson and John Hawkes (Lost, Me You and Everyone We Know)
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Metacritic: 76 out of 100

Monday, April 9, 2012

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Sally is sent to live with her very inattentive father and his girlfriend who live in a big old house.  The house has a history which Sally discovers, but no one believes her.  Much to everyone's dismay, she's not making any of it up.  This film skips from cliche to cliche and whilst doing so manages to be not be scary or even interesting.  I watched the second half mostly in fast forward.  It is doubly disappointing since I am a big fan of both Guillermo del Toro and Guy Pearce.  Verdict: seriously not scary and quite disappointing. 

Don't be Afraid of the Dark barely scares up out 2 of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Troy Nixey
Writer: Guillermo del Toro & Matthew Robbins
Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and Bailee Madison
Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Metacritic: 56 out of 100

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chronicle (2012)

I can fly!
When three high school students discover something in a underground tunnel, they start to change.  They discover they all have telekinesis and begin to explore the boundaries of their newfound powers.  And not all three agree on how to best use these powers.  Filmed as a 'found footage' film, this one manages to more than exceed the genre.  With no recognizable stars and a relatively unknown creative team, Chronicle manages to outdo most Hollywood sci-fi films by a long shot.  I highly recommend seeing Chronicle if you like sci-fi and/ or super hero stuff.

Chronicle soars with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Josh Trank
Writer:  Max Landis and Josh Trank
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Metacritic: 69 out of 100

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012)

First, please read my book review to get the gist of the plot.  Having read the books, I was pleased with, but not overexcited about this film.  It was a good exploration of the book's ideas, but the book is so much better.  Nothing against the film, because I enjoyed it a lot but it is hard see a film based on a book that I love and not pick it apart ('they left this scene out' or 'hey, that didn't match the book').  Also, the jerky camera work was a bit distracting.  In general I don't enjoy that technique.  I can understand when people are running through the woods, but not when they're standing still.  But all in all, I enjoyed this film.

The Hunger Games film can't compete with the book, but still gets 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Gary Ross (writer of Big,  Seabiscuit)
Writer: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Starring:  Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men: First Class, Winter's Bone), Josh Hutcherson (Zathura: A Space Adventure, Bridge to Terabithia), Liam Hemsworth,
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Metacritic: 67 out of 100

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Midnight in Paris (2011)

Gotta go back in time
Gil is a Hollywood screenwriter who is struggling to become a novelist.  He takes a trip to Paris with his fiancée Inez and her family.  One night on a midnight stroll, he inadvertently goes back in time to Paris of the 1920s where he meets Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and lots of other artists from that time period.  This is a great film, which is to be expected from Woody Allen.  The dialogue is sharp and laugh out loud funny.  A great concept film and easily the best romantic comedy sci-fi film of 2011.

Midnight in Paris takes me way back with 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdamsKathy Bates, and Michael Sheen,
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Metacritic: 81 out of 100

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pi (1998)

Just because you're paranoid...
Reclusive Max is a mathematician who sees mathematical patterns everywhere, is the sky, in the trees, even in the stock market (or so he thinks).  As he searches for patterns, his paranoia grows.  People seem to be watching him on the subway.  Shady corporate types try to strong arm info out of him.  This psychological thriller has been on my Netflix queue for awhile but that have just never watched.  Overall, I enjoyed it, although Aronofsky's films don't really bring joy in the truest sense.  They do challenge the viewer to think.

Pi racks up some impressive numbers with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Darren Aronofsky (The Fountain, The Wrestler, Black Swan)
Writer: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Sean Gullette (Requiem for a Dream), Mark Margolis (Black Swan, The Wrestler) and Ben Shenkman (Blue Valentine, Requiem for a Dream)
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Metacritic: 72 out of 100

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kommandør Treholt & ninjatroppen (Norwegian Ninja) (2010)

Arne Treholt is the leader of a black ops ninja brigade in Norway.  The funny thing is that Arne Treholt was a real person in Norway during the Cold War era who was convicted of treason against Norway.  This film is a historical fictional film which spoofs the martial arts and espionages genres  There are some really funny moments.  There are also so slow and boring moments.  Overall, not a bad way to spend an hour and a half. 

Norwegian Ninja gets 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Thomas Cappelen Malling
Writer: Thomas Cappelen Malling
Starring: Mads Ousdal, Jon Øigarden, and Trond-Viggo Torgersen
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%
Metacritic: not reviewed

Sunday, March 18, 2012

OSS 117: Le Caire Nid d'Espions (OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies) (2006)

How's the veal stew?
French secret agent OSS 117 is dispatched to Cairo to investigate the murder of his colleague.  His local contact, Larmina aids his investigation.  A tale of covert ops and counter intel, this is a spoof of the spy film genre, in the vein of Austin Powers.  Created by the same team that brought us the Oscar winning The Artist, this film is good clean fun at its best (I had this on my Netflix queue for awhile before I figured out the connection between it and the aforementioned Oscar winner).  However, far from being left in the shadow of that other film, OSS 117 stands up well on its own.  And unlike so many spoof movies, this one is actually funny.  Not just amusing either, but laugh out loud funny. 

OSS 117 gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Writer:  Jean-François Halin, Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, François Damiens, and Aure Atika
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Metacritic: 62 out of 100

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In Time (2011)

Living on borrowed time
Human beings are genetically engineered to live only 25 years.  After that, they're living on earned, borrowed, or stolen time.  For a big budget Hollywood sci-fi film, it is not too bad, certainly not as bad as it could have been.  The concept is a powerful one and the story is interesting, albeit ridiculous at points.  Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried do passable jobs while Cillian Murphy performs well, but doesn't stand out like he has in other films.  There is a social subtext for those who care to see it. 

In Time comes in just under the buzzer with 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Andrew Niccol (director of Gattaca and writer on The Truman Show)
Writer: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia! Red Riding Hood) and Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Sunshine, Batman Begins, The Dark Night, Inception)
Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Metacritic: 53 out of 100

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Guard (2011)

Call in the FBI
A rural Irish policeman finds himself in the middle of an international drug smuggling case.  An American FBI agent is working to catch the smugglers.  They are forced to work together.  Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson star as a sort of odd couple in this police drama comedy.  Gleeson shines as the smart mouth Irish cop while Cheadle manages to not do much of anything. 

The Guard gets 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter, 28 Days Later), Don Cheadle and Mark Strong
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Metacritic: 78 out of 100

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Future (2011)

This future is not so bright
A slacker couple in their thirties decide to make something of their lives.  I saw this film listed on a "Top 10 Films of 2011" listed and decided to watch it.  I had seen this director's first film, Me and You Everyone We Know and did not enjoy it. So I watched this against my better judgment wanting to give Miranda July the benefit of the doubt.  This film is needlessly slowly and borders on boring.  I appreciate the film as art - there are some great shots, the characters quirky and amusing.  But overall the film feels self indulgent and is more boring than anything else.

The Future is not promising with only 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Miranda July
Writer: Miranda July
Starring: Miranda July, Hamish Linklater and David Warshofsky
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Metacritic: 67 out of 100

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hard Core Logo (1996)

Its only rock and roll
Hard Core Logo was one of Canada's great punk bands.  A film crew follows them as they tour across Canada for their reunion tour.  This is a great mockumentary, one of the best I've seen.  At no point did it ever feel like a spoof or a send up.  If I didn't know it was a mockumentary, I never would have guessed that's what it was. Recommended if you like music and/ or funny movies.

Hard Core Logo gets 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Bruce McDonald
Writer: Noel S. Baker
Strarring: Hugh Dillon, Callum Keith Rennie (Momento, Battlestar Gallactica), John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica), and Bernie Coulson
Rotten Tomatoes: Not Reviewed
Metacritic: Not Reviewed

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bellflower (2011)

Crazy, just plain crazy
Woodrow and Aiden are obsessed with building a flame thrower.  They dream of being Mad Max.  They have dreams but their lives are going nowhere fast.  Bellflower is thoroughly depressing and a bit brutal.  It is also awesome.  This film was made for only $17,000, which is surprising because the production quality is so good.  The story is engrossing, the characters intriguingly tragic.  Not for the faint of heart, but worth it for everyone else. 

Bellflower sets the place on fire with 4 out of 5 Poblanos

Director: Evan Glodell
Writer: Evan Glodell
Starring: Evan Glodell, Tyler Dawson and Jessie Wiseman
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Metacritic: 72 out of 100

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stake Land (2010)

After the plague
The world had been infected by vampirism.  Humanity struggles to survive.  Martin is found by Mister and taught how to survive.  They are headed north towards New Eden, a refuge for humans.  The film chronicles their trip north.  This is a serious film reminiscent of the best post apocalyptic stories.  For a film that I knew very little about, this was surprisingly good.  A genre film mixing vampires, action, horror and post apocalyptic elements, Stake Land succeeds in being an entertaining and engrossing genre film that never descends into cliche.  Thanks to Twitch for the great recommendation.

Stake Land goes right to the heart with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Jim Mickle
Writer: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle
Starring: Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Danielle Harris and Kelly McGillis (Top Gun)
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Metacritic: 66 out of 100

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tres Dias (Before the Fall) 2008

I see the human dark potential
A meteor is hurtling towards the earth.  The governments of the world have known about it and have attempted to stop it.  Unable to do either, they announce the imminent disaster to the general population three days prior to the impact.  And people go bonkers.  A little bit of suspense, a fair dose of brutality, and a whole lot of bleakness, Tres Dias is interesting, although not necessarily enjoyable.  This is the bastard cousin of Melancholia.  The two films share a premise - a large object will collide with the Earth and destroy it.  But Tres Dias shows how bad people can get when things look bad.  Not my favorite film ever, but not bad for F. Javier Gutiérrez's first feature film.

Tres Dias gets tres out of cinco Poblanos!

Director: F. Javier Gutiérrez
Writer: F. Javier Gutiérrez, Juan Velarde (original story)
Starring:  Víctor Clavijo, Mariana Cordero and Eduard Fernández (Biutiful, The Skin I Live In)
Rotten Tomatoes: Not reviewed by critics, 53% (audience reviews)
Metacritic: Not reviewed

Monday, February 13, 2012

Die Welle (The Wave) 2008

Rainer is the cool teacher - he wears t-shirts and jeans to school, listens to rock music, and lets his students address him by his first name. When given the task of teaching a week long class on Autocracy, Rainer becomes Herr Wenger and teaches his class about authority, discipline, group harmony, and unity. Based in part on an experiment by a California high school teacher, Die Welle reveals how easily people can be motivated and manipulated, especially young people. Parts of the film seem implausible. For example, could high school kids really get this engrossed in something in such a short amount of time? Also, are high schoolers really this impressionable? With a strong script, engaging subject, and great young actors. They make the film feel more like a documentary with genuine high schoolers rather than a scripted film.

Die Welle made me a believer with 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Dennis Gansel
Writer: Dennis Gansel, Peter Thorwarth
Starring: Jürgen Vogel, Frederick Lau and Max Riemelt
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Metacritic: Not reviewed

Friday, February 10, 2012

Love & Other Drugs (2010)

I need an Rx for a better film please
Jamie is a salesman who becomes a pharmaceutical rep for Pfizer.  His job is to get doctors offices to prescribe his drugs.  Then he meets Maggie and blah, blah, blah.  The idea behind this film is a good one, but the translation to film unimpressive.  I made it through about 30 minutes of then turned it off because I didn't care about the characters, wasn't interested in their lives, and didn't care how about the ending.  It was disaapointing, especially since I am a fan of Jake Gyllenhall

Love & Other Drugs disappoints with only 1 out of 5 Poblanos

Director: Edward Zwick
Writer: Edward Zwick, Charles Randolph, Marshall Herskovitz
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, and Anne Hathaway
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Metacritic: 55 out of 100

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Bothersome Man (Den brysomme mannen) 2006

Where am I?
Andreas arrives by bus to a gas station in the desert. He is then driven to the city and is given a new life, job and a place to live. All his needs are met, but he is dissatisfied: Food doesn't taste the way it used to, alcohol has little effect. His life is bland and and drab so he begins searching for more. With echos of The Truman Show, this Norwegian film explores satisfaction and existentialism. For example, do material goods, security and comfort really satisfy? And if we had everything we needed and wanted, would we be happy with life? A decent film, but not one I would recommend except to serious film watchers.

An interesting and ambiguous film, The Bothersome Man gets 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Jens Lien
Writer: Per Schreiner
Starring: Trond Fausa Aurvaag, Petronella Barker and Per Schaaning
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Metacritic: Not reviewed

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


One crazy summer
James' summer plans fall through.  Instead of going to Europe, he ends up at home with his parents, working in an amusement park called Adventureland.  This film is laugh out loud funny.  It is also a bit heartbreaking.  Overall, it is very entertaining.  Its fun to see these actors outside of their big films - Twilight, The Social Network, and Buried.

Adventureland has thrills and spills and lots of laughs to get 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Greg Mottola
Writer: Greg Mottola
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart and Ryan Reynolds
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Metacritic: 76 out of 100

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Artist (2011)

When you say nothing at all...In the era of silent films, George Valentin is a superstar.  When 'talkies' become all the rage, he scoffs at them as a passing fad.  He watches other actors gaining stardom while he loses everything.  This film is a tribute to silent films and save for the last couple of minutes, has no dialogue at all, only music.   Superbly acted and
beautifully shot, this is a great film.  And by great I don't just mean 'good'; I mean Great, as in one of the greatest films this year.  It is a film that is a close to perfect as a film can be - the story, the acting, the painstaking recreation of the silent film era - and I've got nothing but love for this one.

The Artist gets 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Writer: Michel Hazanavicius
Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo and John Goodman
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Metacritic: 89 out of 100

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Priest (2011)

I thought vampires were supposed to be cool
The world was once overrun the world by vampires.  Then the Church trained a special group of priests to subdue them.  Vampires who have been mostly conquered and live in reservations.  This film could have been good, but it is not.  It is convloluted, confused, and cliched not to mention a rip-off of Blade Runner and other films.  I only made it about halfway through.  The best part of the film (that I saw) was the animated back story at the beginning.  After that, I either didn't care or was unconciousness.  I finally stopped watching because it was unwatchable.  Who let this out for public consumption?

Priest made vampires boring with only 1 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Scott Charles Stewart
Writer: Cory Goodman,
Starring: Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind, the Tourist), Karl Urban (LOTR), Cam Gigandet (Twilight), Maggie Q  (MI 3)
Rotten Tomatoes: 17%
Metacritic: 41 out of 100

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Drive (2011)

Get your motor runnin'...
The Driver is an auto mechanic who also drives Hollywood stunt cars.  In his spare time, he is a getaway driver for hire.  Ryan Gosling gives an eerily powerful performance as as the morally ambiguous Driver.  As a getaway driver, he helps people commit crimes but has a strong sense of right and wrong, abiding by his own ethical code.  He will do whatever he can to protect those he cares about, even if it means murder. It plays like a hybrid of a neo-noir thriller and an 80s action film.  The title font screams early 80s action (think Beverly Hills Cop or Miami Vice).  The story is gripping and there were several scenes that really got my RPMs racing - my heart was literally pounding because the action was so tense.   The first five minutes of this film are as exciting as any action scene in any film.This is one of those crazy good films that should stand the test of time. 

Drive revved up to 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Hossein Amini
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Metacritic: 79 out of 100

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rubber (2010)

Born to roll
Robert goes on a killing spree. He uses his newly found telekinetic powers to make heads expode. Robert also happens to be an old tire. If it sounds ridiculous, it is. But that's one of the main things that I love about Rubber - it is ridiculous and doesn't take itself too seriously. The film is part parody and part homage. It is very well made, well plotted, the pacing is good, the FX are quality, and the cinematagraphy is great. It seems like an experiment in filmmaking but it doesn't seem experimental or unaccessible. Fans of good films in general, and especially horror fans, will get a kick out of this one.

Rubber bowled me over with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Quentin Dupieux
Writer: Quentin Dupieux
Starring: Stephen Spinella, Roxane Mesquida and Wings Hauser
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Metacritic: 59 out of 100

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Elevator (2008)

Is this my floor? Please make it stop!
Two young people are stuck in a elevator and can't get out. Here's another film that explores the limitations of a confined space. Elevator is a bit amatuerish and views like a student film. The pace drags and the film runs about twice to three times as long as necessary. The editing was a bit schizophrenic. This is only my second Romanian film ever, the first being 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, one of the best things I've seen in the past few years. But being Romanian is the only thing the two films share.

Elevator barely makes it out of the cellar with 2 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: George Dorobantu
Rotten Tomatoes: not reviewed
Metacritic: not reviewed

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bunraku (2010)

Vengeance is dish best served cold
A mash up between a comic book, a Tarantino flick, Natural Born Killers, and The Science of Sleep, Bunraku plays out like a dystopian fairly tale. I love the mix of animation, origami, and live action. The sets are fantastic as are the costumes. There are some really amazing shots (be on the lookout for Josh Hartnett's jail break-in). Very watchable, very enjoyable, and very fun. 

Bunraku knocks me over with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Guy Moshe
Writer: Boaz Davidson (story), Guy Moshe (screenplay)
Metacritic: not reviewed

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tropa de Elite (The Elite Squad) (2008)

Extreme prejudice
In Rio de Janeiro, the police are corrupt.  Rookie cops Neto and Andre are frustrated by the corruption and aspire to BOPE, Rio's elite task force.  Capitão Nascimento is looking to leave the squad and is searching for his replacement.  Tropa de Elita is a gandland tale with lots of action that is inspired by true events.  Told with a semi-non-linear narrative (the first half is non-linear, the second half is mostly linear).  The story was engaging and the subject new and interesting (I knew nothing about life in Brasil).  It is a gritty and realistic film which presents corruption and violence without glorifing or romanticizing it .  On a technical level, the camera work is great especially considering that a lot of the film involved running through the slums of Rio.  This is my first Brazilian film and I loved it. 

Tropa de Elita is a ball of hot smokin' police justice 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: José Padilha
Writer: José Padilha, Bráulio Mantovani,
Starring: Wagner Moura, André Ramiro and Caio Junqueira
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Metacritic: 33 out of 100

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2011)

Can't we all just get a long?
A group of college kids go camping in the Appalachians and are terrorized by two hillbillies.  At least that's what they think.  But Tucker and Dale are not trying to scare them or even kill them.  These kind and well meaning country boys try to communicate with the college kids, but send the wrong messages.  For me this the new Shaun of the Dead (and that's saying a lot).  And like SotD, it pokes fun at the genre without being cliché; it's a horror film that also happens to be funny, very funny.  I've wanted to see it since it came out earlier this year, but it was not released in my area.  Thankfully, Netflix has it now. This is Eli Craig's first full-length film as writer/director, and I can't wait to see what he does next. 

Tucker and Dale vs Evil scares up 5 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Eli Craig
Writer: Eli Craig, Morgan Jurgenson
Starring: Tyler Labine (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Alan Tudyk (Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) and Katrina Bowden
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Metacritic: 65 out of 100

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

Who you gonna call? The Marines!
When the world is invaded by menacing aliens, human beings fight back.  Well, the military fights back.  A platoon of US Marines are tasked to enter an alien occupied zone in LA, secure a police station and rescue any civilians before a massive air strike levels the city.  The first 10 - 15 minutes are slow but serve to set up the action.  And once the action gets started, it doesn't stop.  Although is descends briefly into cliches and sometimes feels like a recruitment film for the US military, Battle: Los Angeles is nonetheless a solid action film. 

Battle: Los Angeles fights its way to 3 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writer: Christopher Bertolini
Starring: Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Ne-Yo, Michelle Rodriguez (Lost), Bridget Moynahan
Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
Metacritic: 37 out of 100

Sunday, January 1, 2012

In the Loop (2009)

2 nations separated by a large body of water
The US and Great Britain are planning a war.  Nobody seems to know what is going on, each side is trying to guess the other's real agenda, and the two sides are trying hard to get on the same page.  Both sides have their share of misunderstandings.  The British hurl insults like no other nation on earth. This is laugh out loud funny for the duration of the film.  Political satire at its best, In the Loop is based on the British TV show The Thick of It, which I've never seen but have to track down.  Apparently only about 80% of the dialogue is scripted.  And the creators have a 'swearing specialist' that they consult with on a regular basis.  Recommended if you like the faux documentary styling of The Office or A Mighty Wind.

In the Loop is on fire with 4 out of 5 Poblanos!

Director: Armando Iannucci
Writer: Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
Starring: Tom Hollander (Hanna), Peter Capaldi and James Gandolfini (The Sopranos)
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Metacritic: 83 out of 100