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