Revolutionary Road Review

January 25, 2009

revolutionary_road_hautReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: Based on the Robert Yates novel, Revolutionary Road tells the story of the Wheelers (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett) as they experience life’s struggles.

Review: Let me first say this–from the previews it seems like all the Wheelers do is argue, and while there is a great deal of back-and-forth between the couple–it’s not all the movie has to offer. The Wheelers live in the suburbs of Connecticut and in doing so are quite out of place. While they are admired by the neighbors, they have always dreamt of a bigger life, a better life. Their discontempt with this suburban lifestyle, complete with two kids and a bad career, is driving an insurmountable wedge between the marriage.

The performances of Winslett and DiCaprio are noteworthy, but Michael Shannon absolutely steals the show. He plays John Givings, the psychotic son of the Wheeler’s neighbors. His role is to deliver the ultimate truth–and he does so with no apologies, no sincerity, and no regard for human feelings. I have to say that I love this character. I wish everyone was more like this psychotic ox of  a man–and I think the Wheelers share my sentiment. At one point they even reference the absurdity of living in a town where the person they most relate to is on short-term leave from the town’s mental institution.

This is a solid film strictly due to its wonderful acting. As mentioned, outstanding performances were turned in by Winslett, DiCaprio, and Shannon–but also by Kathie Bates and Dylan Baker. The story is interesting enough, but this could have easily become a film in which you have to sit through the dry, boring story to benefit from the courage of this plot. However, with this great ensemble–the audience feels bound to the success of the Wheeler family–cheering when they succeed and sorrowing when they fail.

Also, the score for this film is wonderful. I cannot believe it was nominated for an Oscar. It is one of the few times I have ever noticed a score, but I think it is a huge part of this film. It’s almost like an additional character. Look forward to it.

Rating: 7.8

Recommendation: If you’re a dialog fan like I am than this is a movie for you. There are great life truths embedded throughout the picture. If you’re taste is more tied to action or comedy than you need to avoid this film at all cost–although, John Givings does deliever one ridicilously funny line to Mrs. Wheeler–so that’s something I suppose.

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Oscar Nominations: Analysis, Snubs, Predictions

January 23, 2009

Average Joe and Mr. Film Snob make their radio debut with The Net Flicker’s inaugural radio show entitled … Yeah right. We didn’t think to title it. Maybe next time.

The two prolific film critics discuss the Oscar nominations for best supporting actress, best supporting actor, best actress, best actor, and movie of the year. The 30-minute clip features analysis, predictions, and potential snubs.

Check out the show and give us feedback because we want the next one to suck a little less!

Until I can get the embed to work out, check out the show by clicking here.


Frost/Nixon Review

January 23, 2009

frost-nixon-cp-2825677

Reviewed By: Average Joe

Synopsis: After three years of silence President Richard Nixon agrees to a one-on-one, all-inclusive interview with British television personality David Frost.

Review: Yeah. I know I thought the same thing. I anticipated good acting from Frank Langella (Nixon) and Michael Sheen (Frost), but a very wordy, slow and boring movie. To my surprise (and maybe it shouldn’t have been with Ron Howard at the helm), I was enthralled by the suspense throughout.

The movie uses 1st person interviews from supporting characters to advance the spots where it could potentially lag. Speaking of supporting characters, both Kevin Bacon and Toby Jones were solid, but I was especially impressed by Sam Rockwell’s portrayal of crack researcher James Reston Jr.

The analogy is completely overdone, but since I’m just an Average Joe I will tell you upfront, this movie is like watching a brilliant boxing match, but not necessarily of two heavyweights, as most people would have you think.

No, Nixon was a once esteemed prizefighter grasping to his legacy and yearning for one last battle that will enable him to avenge the end of his career (i.e. Watergate). Frost was a journeyman, having achieved solid success, but certainly never held the crown. But like most fighters, he had one astounding performance in him, and needed the right competitor to bring it out.

It’s easy to see why Nixon wanted this battle. Tricky Dick would easily out manipulate the aloof television personality and restore his place atop the elite. What some people won’t understand is why Nixon fueled the fire to ensure an epic battle. (Side Note: This was a brilliant rant that Mr. Film Snob will probably appreciate). The short answer is that competitors want competition; it’s more gratifying if you had to let it all hang out to prevail.

The best part about the movie for me wasn’t even the carefully crafted dialogue (I’m telling you Film Snob – you’ll appreciate it), but the subtleties and nuances that drive the suspense. I loved the stare down between the two camps, the reference to getting punched in the face, and the significance of the shoes (you’ll see what I mean).

Nixon’s incapable of being ‘human’ until he’s free from his burden, and Langella conveys this struggle to the point that even those that thought Nixon was a monster might empathize (or at least come to understand) why he was the way he was. Credit Langella for a brilliant performance, one worthy of his Oscar nomination.

If I have one nit-pick it might be that it was actually a little anti-climatic after being built up well; so strategically.

Rating: 8.9

Verdict: Go in like I did with expectations of a wordy, boring, slow movie, and come out feeling impressed and energized by one of the top 5 films of the year. Witness a solid story, great acting, and make sure you aim to catch all the subtleties of this surprisingly suspenseful tale of Tricky Dick’s prizefight fight with Frost.


Defiance Review

January 20, 2009

defianceReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: The Bielski brothers avoid German capture, and lead by Tuvia (Daniel Craig), the brothers form a band of resistance fighters. As more individuals are looking for an escape from the Jewish Ghetto, the band’s numbers increase. With mouths to feed and German soldiers to avoid, the gang works to defy death during the second world war.

Review: Here it is folks, we have it–ladies and gentleman–Defiance is the best film of 2008. That’s right, my best film of the year has achieved a whopping 53% on the Tomatorater. Even one of my favorite critics, A.O. Scott, says that “the film unfairly implied that ‘if only more of the Jews living in Nazi-occupied Europe had been as tough as the Bielskis, more would have survived.'” Hey A.O.–if that’s the perception that you were left with than you missed the whole point! This movie was as much about toughness and defiance as it was about choices. These hunted Jews didn’t know what to do, who would? They were being hunted, their families were being hunted, their way of life–their religion was being hunted. The movie does not attempt to portray Tuvia Bielski as a know-it all hero who used his wisdom and muscle to lead his people to safety. Rather it emphasizes the dubious decisions these people were forced to make. In fact, there is one exchange among the Bielski brothers where they wonder aloud why they survived while so many of their loved ones had died. There’s also one moment where a group of Jews are deciding whether to remain in the Jewish Ghetto or flea to the forest. How do you know what to do? They obviously didn’t know their end fate. The film does not EVER question the toughness of the Jewish people–instead it tells what a coin flip these decisions were. There were 4 or 5 life-altering decisions that come about–decisions that no human should have to make. So no, it is not about muscle, it is about chance. These decisions were a coin flip. This particular group was lucky enough to have happened to choose the right path, many others were not afforded such an opportunity.

The film also has a bit of a biblical flare, as it relates this story to Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt and away from its tyranny. While Tuvia is no Moses, certain parallelisms do exist. I suppose you can either see this as a story of chance or a story of personal faith. Either way, it’s a great tale to tell.

Rating: 9.6

Recommendation: Go to your local cinema and check this one out. It’s apparently not for everyone (53% Tomatorater), but  I thought it was the best of the year. Don’t expect it to be 100% historically accurate–yet it is a great story–I mean just an absolutely wonderful story. Some critics are also discouraged by the way the film was shot, I am not one of them. The story is too good to care too much about such trivial details.


The Edge of Heaven Review

January 19, 2009

edge-of-heavenReviewed by: The Film Snob

Synopsis: A few people have sad stories.

Review: I know I know–this the review you’ve all been waiting for. This foreign film had a quite release in the U.S., but has earned solid reviews from film critics. I just don’t get the appeal. The movie tells the stories of six individuals—each of their stories has a sad twist to it. The only problem is–who cares? I found these characters to be without substance–I could not care less about their fates.

I really don’t know what this movie was trying to accomplish. Again, the critics like this movie–Robert Ebert said he found the characters to be fascinating. Let me say this–having a sad story does not make a person interesting! You want to know what happens in this movie–let me tell you–a few people die and a few more mourn their death. That’s it. And I would be fine with that–if only they had anything interesting to say! Some of my favorite movies consist of nothing more than people talking for 90 minutes, but you see here’s the difference–they actually talk about something! This was two hours of talking, yet nothing at all was said. You know what I felt at the end of this film–mercy–that’s what I felt–mercy that it was finally done with. I am mystified about what the attraction is for these critics. I think they confuse a sad story with a good story–just because a character has suffered in their life, this doesn’t make their story worth telling.

You know what the upside to this movie is? One of the characters looks like Topher Grace, that’s it! baki_davrak_11And what sticks me is that I like foreign movies and I like movies that tell the human story–and that is exactly what this film is–the problem is that they did a terrible job of telling the story–because the plot goes nowhere–at the end of this thing you are aware of this sequence of events that happened, but you have nothing to do with it–I watched it, thought “ok”, and turned the tv off–having been no better off for the experience. I could just outline the plot for you right here and you will have the exact same experience that I had–except you would have yourself the two hours.

Rating: 2.9

Recommendation: Please don’t waste your time with this thinking it’s a story about the human element, what it’s about is wasting two hours, nothing more.


Mr. Film Snob’s Credibility

January 17, 2009

Just in case you have read one of Mr. Film Snob’s reviews and found yourself questioning his credibility (I do it all the time), you should let those fears subside. Why?

Because Mr. Film Snob imparted some intellectual film wisdom to the greatest sports writer alive, and this wisdom appeared in one of his recent columns. If Mr. Film Snob’s vast movie knowledge and opinions are good enough for Bill Simmons, then they should certainly be good enough for you.

billsimmons

Here’s the quote in question:

(Speaking of rewatchable movies, a number of you e-mailed about last week’s “Cast Away” rant and were equally bothered by the husband’s disappearance in the climactic Hanks-Hunt scene, but Kyle in College Station, Texas, had the best theory: “What makes you think the husband is sleeping? He needs to let his wife resolve the situation so he’s up there wide awake listening to every word — it’s not like he can forbid her to see him. I think Hunt is the Packers, Hanks is Brett Favre, and the husband is Aaron Rodgers. The Packers thought that Favre was long gone and had moved on, beginning a relationship with Rodgers. Now when Favre came back, Rodgers could not have forbid the Packers to talk to Favre, nor was Rodgers turning a blind eye to the situation. See, just like “Cast Away”!”)


Seven Pounds Review

January 17, 2009

Seven Pounds Smith Dawson

Reviewed By: Average Joe

Synopsis: The jist of the story is that Will Smith’s character, Tim Thomas, has a dark secret, and he sets out on a quest for redemption by changing the lives of seven people.

Review: Here’s a movie that the critics hated, and the regular viewers seemed to love. Well this Average Joe falls somewhere in the middle.

First of all let me preface this review by saying that I usually love Will Smith’s work, and have always been a fan. Not in the sense of an acclaimed actor, but as a talented actor who is always entertaining and solid in the sense that you know what to expect and it won’t be bad. Well, I got news for fans of Will Smith, he wasn’t very good in this film.

Why does this matter? Because I think a great performance from Smith could’ve made this a good film, but what I got was disconnected garble. Though I had some inclination, I wasn’t really sure what Smith was up to until halfway into the film, and by that time I didn’t really care. There were a lot of holes in this film, and that really disappointed me because I was so intrigued by the trailer.

As Smith’s character works towards his goal, he begins to fall in love with Rosario Dawson’s character, Emily Posa, a woman with a severe heart condition. There are people that will say the romance took away from this intriguing jigsaw puzzle of a plot, but the romance and the genuine, authentic way it came about was one of my favorite parts of the film. Dawson’s performance wasn’t bad at all.

I’m not going to give away the nuances of the plot or the ending, but I will say that for me the jigsaw was one that’s pieces weren’t really going to fit together from the start. The ending itself didn’t bother me as bad as the way we’re left with no explanation for why Barry Pepper’s character, Dan (Thomas’ best friend) would take part in all of it (best friend or not).

The movie aims high with its message, but it doesn’t make me care enough throughout to give the ending the umph it set out to achieve.

There are a lot of ifs here. If there were a few less holes in the plot, if Smith turned in a stronger performance, if it didn’t try so damn hard to be mysterious and puzzling. Those ifs are what separates it from being a really solid film.

Rating: 6.1

Recommendation: Had the potential to be a really good film, but fell short. If you’re a Will Smith fan, you might be disappointed, but this one is worth a casual rent if you have already seen everything you really want to see.