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Foreign Movie Fridays

I forgot a throwback review yesterday but decided to add a new feature to my blog: Foreign Movie Fridays.  

And just to show you how weird my taste is  I will start it off with this unique Greek Gem.

DOGTOOTH

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This movie was interesting to say the least. Aside from the shaky chopping off heads camera work, it was a brilliant movie. There was no structured plot in the traditional sense,  just really snap shots of three teenagers’ confined lives and how they dealt with being so isolated. The movie at times felt like a mess, but I think that was the point: the messy cohesion of children being trapped by their parents’ ideas. In the end you have a well-made movie that was well acted with an intriguing premise. Avoid if you are a run of the mill, plot must have beginning-middle-end kind of person but if your taste is as eclectic and unusual as mine then give it a go.

 

9/10

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When The Game Stands Tall

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Directed by: Thomas Carter

Written by: Scott Marshall Smith

Starring: Jim Caviezel, Laura Dern, Alexander Ludwig

 

This is one of those movies where every important plot detail is given away in the trailer that is even more unnecessary given its clichéd and predictable sports movie plot. The movie is complete with stereotypical tough love dad who only cares about his son wining football record, loving black grandma who is proud her baby is getting out of the bad neighborhood, and superstar jerk who thinks he doesn’t need the team. The only cliché they are missing is the devoted cheerleader girlfriend, and that’s probably because the movie didn’t take the two minutes to develop any female characters outside the supportive wife. Although the football games were executed nicely, there was no suspense because you knew which games they were going to win and lose and all the false build up felt forced. Jim Caviezel gives completely uninspired performance and it’s a wonder how he was able to rally his team back together again since he sleepwalked through every interaction he had with another human being. This was suppose to be an inspirational story about how a team dealt with its first lost in forever, but instead it came off as whiny white kids with problems while it glazed over black kids dealing with actual tough situations.

 

5/10

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If I Stay

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Directed by: R.J. Cutler

Written by: Shauna Cross

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz

This film had such an interesting premise but was brought down by a bland script and average acting with the exception of Chloe Grace Moretz. Moretz does her best job to save this movie from being a clichéd teen love story with an over-the-top melodramatic score. Even more amazing is how she was able to act off Jamie Blackley’s way too laid back rocker Adam.  Blackley played the rocker part well but love-struck teen was no where on the radar, he had a blank look every time he interacted with Moretz, and his body language said “I don’t give a f**k.” Somehow Moretz was still able to look into his eyes and emote enough for the both of them because I felt her slowly fall in love, the pain over their fights, everything about her performance was completely earnest. With the cello being a central part to story, it could have served as the perfect narration tool, the audience could feel what’s going on in Mia’s head, instead we got clunky heavy handed dialogue that bogged down the script further. This is the type of movie that’s suppose to have you crying along with the characters, and believe me, I’m a huge crier, but for the most part I was just rolling my eyes.

 

7/10 (really 9/10 for Mortez’s performance, 5/10 for the movie)           

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Throwback Thursday Review

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Dirty Dancing

Original Release: August 21st, 1987

Directed by: Emile Ardolino

Written by: Eleanor Bergstein

Starring: Patrick Swayze & Jennifer Grey

As a female child of the 80’s it might be blasphemy for me to say this but aside from the killer soundtrack “Dirty Dancing” is nothing but your average boring star-crossed lovers story. Swayze “bad boy with the heart of gold” caricature barely straddles the line and he plays neither side well. As for Grey’s sweet innocent Baby, she plays the poor little rich girl routine nicely. I always forget it’s a movie set in the 1960’s because the movie as a whole has a very 1980’s feel. I find Baby and Johnny’s final dance to be cheesy and hardly entertaining. I wish I loved this movie more, but its flat characters and basic script made the love story incompatible with me.

7/10

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Magic in the Moonlight

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Written & Directed by: Woody Allen

Starring: Colin Firth & Emma Stone

You have to love Woody Allen, he’s found his magic formula and sticks to it: witty dialogue, whimsical score, unique plot, and interesting characters.  Sometimes the combination churns out brilliance, other times something average, and rarely a failure. “Magic in the Moonlight” falls in the average category, nothing to rave about but still enjoyable. I’ll admit I was distracted thinking about how Colin Firth played Amanda Bynes’ father 10 years ago and now is playing Emma Stone’s love interest and she’s younger than Bynes. Despite the awkward chemistry between Firth and Stone, they both deliver great performances. Although the movie starts out with a unique premise, it quickly turns into a predictable run-of-the-mill romantic comedy that leaves you chuckling in the right places but for me rolling my eyes at the cheesy genre conventions.

7.5/10

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Throwback Thursday Review

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Pretty Persuasion 

Original Release: August 12th, 2005

Directed by: Marcos Siega

Written by: Skander Halim

Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Ron Livingston, James Wood

This may not be an Oscar worthy movie in the Academy’s eyes, but it’s perfection in my book. The script is biting, witty, pushes boundaries without going too over the top, and the humor is wonderfully dark and edgy. The score delights flowing from light bouncy tunes to sharp instrumentals to whimsy romantic tunes. Evan Rachel Wood plays the conniving teen and every line she delivers is with the perfect amount of seduction, bitchiness, and heartbreak. All the supporting cast adds to this superb film, from James Wood playing the asshole father, to the Elisabeth Harnois play ditzy Brittany, and Jane Krakowski playing the determined news reporter. Although I do consider this film a “guilty pleasure”, I wish I didn’t because it’s pure entertainment.

10/10

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R.I.P. Robin WIlliams

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Robin Williams, one of my favorite actors, passed away today, even more tragic it’s of apparent suicide.  In his honor, here are two reviews from some of his best work.

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Mrs. Doubtfire

Original Release: November 24th, 1993

Directed by: Chris Columbus

Written by: Randi Mayem Singer & Leslie Dixon

Starring: Robin Williams, Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan

This 90’s classic is arguably Robin Williams’ most iconic role and after many repeat viewings, it’s easy to see why.  Williams effortlessly plays the dual role of sassy Scottish housekeeper, Mrs. Doubtfire, and sweet devoted father, Daniel. He hits the highs and lows of both emotional arcs of his characters. The script is witty, endearing, and fun with an energetic soundtrack. The characters are intriguing, well rounded, and relatable being brought to life by a terrific cast. As a family friendly movie it deals with serious issues in a super smart way, making me laugh and cry as child and even now as an adult.

9/10

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One Hour Photo

Original Release: September 13th, 2002

Written and Directed by: Mark Romanek

Starring: Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan

Williams gives a brilliant performance in this psychological thriller. He plays lonely but creepy Sy, the photo guy, with such an intense subtlety. From when gets his photo taken to arranging the photos he’s taken at the end, he draws you in and makes you feel such sympathy for Sy but fear him at the same time. The cinematography moves swiftly from scene to scene, but lingers nicely when necessary. The score is a weird mix of eerie and bright. This movie, but more so Williams’ performance, deserves a bit more recognition and accolades.

9/10

 

 

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