[Review] – On The Road

5 Jan

On the Road

Title: On the Road
Year: 2012
Director: Walter Salles
Writer: Jose Rivera, based on the novel by Jack Kerouac
Starring: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge, Danny Morgan, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard
MPAA Rating: R, strong sexual content, drug use and language
Runtime: 124 min
IMDb Rating: 6.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 45%
Metacritic: 54

It’s been a long time since I’ve gone into a movie feeling both such a tremendous level of excitement while also feeling dubious and guarding myself for potential disappointment. I know it’s said a lot, perhaps too much, but Jack Kerouac‘s On the Road is the type of book that changes lives if you read it at just the right time and age. It did for me, I remember having read this, Stephen Chboksy‘s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay during the same year and all three of them, paired up with J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, remain amongst the most influential pieces of literature I’ve encountered in my life.

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[Review] – The Impossible

4 Jan

The Impossible

Title: The Impossible
Year: 2012
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez, based on a story by María Belón
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images and brief nudity
Runtime: 114 min
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Metacritic: 73

The Indian Ocean tsunami from December 2004 is one of the deadliest natural disasters the world has experienced, caused by the third largest earthquake ever recorded. The numbers speak for themselves: over 230’000 people dead in 14 countries, waves that were up to 30 meters high, an earthquake that lasted for nearly 10 minutes and that triggered other seismic movements as far away as Alaska, $14 billion donated in humanitarian aid. We know those facts, but what’s most amazing about that event are the human stories at the center of it, and in The Impossible, Juan Antonio Bayona‘s new film, one of the most inspiring ones is front and center.

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[Review] – Barbara

4 Jan


Title: Barbara
Year: 2012
Director: Christian Petzold
Writer: Christian Petzold
Starring: Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Rainer Bock, Mark Waschke
MPAA Rating: PG-13, some sexual material, thematic elements and smoking
Runtime: 105 min
IMDb Rating: 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Metacritic: 88

I know it’s already 2013, but I still have about a dozen 2012 releases to catch up on before I finalize that yearly ranking and get cracking on my 2012 Best Of lists. One of those films is Christian Petzold‘s Barbara, which won him Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival and was selected as Germany’s submission to the Best Foreign Language Oscar race (it didn’t make the final shortlist for the award nominations, though), and it’s truly a very, very good film.

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[Review] – Not Fade Away

25 Dec

Not Fade Away

Title: Not Fade Away
Year: 2012
Director: David Chase
Writer: David Chase
Starring: John Magaro, Bella Heathcote, Will Brill, Jack Huston, Brad Garrett, James Gandolfini, Christopher McDonald
MPAA Rating: R, pervasive language, some drug use and sexual content
Runtime: 112 min
IMDb Rating: 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Metacritic: 68

David Chase is a man known mostly, of course, for his work on television. He worked on The Rockford Files and Northern Exposure, but of course he’ll be forever immortalized as the man who created The Sopranos. It really is hard to overstate the impact that series had on the current television landscape, being the biggest factor in having HBO become the absolute critical behemoth it still is, and really being the series that helped pave the way for the Golden Age of Television, without which shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad probably would have never come to fruition.

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[Review] – Amour

24 Dec


Title: Amour
Year: 2012
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Michael Haneke
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
MPAA Rating: PG-13, mature thematic material including a disturbing act, and for brief language
Runtime: 127 min
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Metacritic: 93

Michael Haneke is, of course, one of those absolute masters in the art of cinema. The stuff he does with his films, putting forward a rather dark and often disturbing approach to deal with problematic issues of society, is just stunning to behold and puts him in that rare league of filmmakers that every single film he puts out I will be first in line to check it out. From The Piano Teacher to Caché to The White Ribbon, seeing a Michael Haneke film is an experience that really gets to you.

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[Review] – The Guilt Trip

23 Dec

The Guilt Trip

Title: The Guilt Trip
Year: 2012
Director: Anne Fletcher
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Starring: Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen, Brett Cullen, Adam Scott, Ari Graynor, Casey Wilson, Colin Hanks, Yvonne Strahovski
MPAA Rating: PG-13, language and some risque material
Runtime: 95 min
IMDb Rating: 5.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%
Metacritic: 51

Anne Fletcher started out in Hollywood as a choreographer and, because of that, went on to direct Step Up in 2006, which was, of course, a big box office hit that pretty much helped launch Channing Tatum‘s career. She followed that up with 27 Dresses and The Proposal, two romantic comedies that also made a killing at the box office (especially the latter) and is now back on the director’s chair with another comedy, though this time not based on a romance but instead on a mother-son relationship, called The Guilt Trip. Though, after seeing how this one’s been tracking in its first few days of release, it doesn’t seem like it will be the big commercial hit her previous films have been.

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[Review] – Save The Date

22 Dec

Save the Date

Title: Save the Date
Year: 2012
Director: Michael Mohan
Writers: Egan Reich, Jeffrey Brown and Michael Mohan
Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber
MPAA Rating: R, sexual content, language and brief drug use
Runtime: 98 min
IMDb Rating: 4.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Metacritic: 54

Save the Date is my first encounter with the work of writer-director Michael Mohan (his only other feature-length effort is a 2010 flick called One Too Many Mornings), and though the film, which first screened at Sundance earlier this year, isn’t particularly great I can’t help but just giving him all the kudos in the world for being able to get so many cool people in his cast. I mean, seriously, this film is just adequate, you could say, just a totally lightweight kind of entertainment but one that’s totally watchable because of the tremendously likable cast it assembled.

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