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