with the bold text in the example below:

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Wolverine by James Mangold, 2013 (PG-13)

with Hugh Jackman (Scoop), Will Yun Lee (Total Recall), Tao Okamoto, Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rila Fukushima, Hal Yamanouchi, Famke Janssen

Enigmatic superhero Wolverine travels to the Land of the Rising Sun in this kaleidoscopic battle epic based on the Marvel Comics character. There, Wolverine confronts his long-time adversary Logan in a spectacular battle that rattles the universe.

First thing is I am a huge fan of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), so the fact that she was in it was The motive. But, on the other hand, because she is some sort of ghost in it, it kind of lost my interest. Aside from that, the story is a little bit interesting, not really in the style of X-Men, so don't expect to see another X-men. The good news is the ending, I believe also looking into IMDB that we will soon have another X-men (X‑Men: Days of Future Past). Oh, and I think they want to merge both X-men and X-men First Class so it might be a blast... July 8th, 2014!

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pitch Perfect by Jason Moore, 2012 (PG-13)

with Anna Kendrick (The Company You Keep, Up in The Air, 50/50, Twilight), Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games, Man on a Ledge, Our Idiot Brother, The Next Three Days, People Like Us), Kelley Jakle, Wanetah Walmsley, Adam DeVine, John Michael Higgins (We Bought a Zoo, Bad Teacher), John Benjamin Hickey

Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school's all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.

You know some movies are simply stupid romantic comedy. And they use loud humor and really bad bad guys. And you wonder why people are still doing that kind of movies. And you know their box office is doing well. And you wonder therefor about your country and the worlds' future, perhaps imagining it like in Wall-E perhaps? Anyway, that's the kind of movie Pitch Perfect is. I wonder why Elizabeth Banks and Anna Kendrick are wasting their time doing them. Perhaps it is fun to make, perhaps paycheck is a good enough motive... Anyway, the point... I watched it... Yes... I love musicals, and I love a Capella singing, and choirs, and harmonics... So I am ashamed to say that I enjoyed some of it. Because the music arrangements are good... And the rest, oh well, I survived... I do recommend tho to watch Florida State University AcaBelles - Royals (opb. Lorde), instead...

Ocean's Thirteen by Steven Soderbergh, 2007 (PG-13)

with George Clooney (The Monuments Men, Gravity, The Descendants, Out of Sight, Up in the Air, Michael Clayton, The Men Who Stare At Goats), Brad Pitt (world War Z, The Tree of Life, Moneyball, Across the Tracks), Matt Damon (The Monuments Men, Behind the Candelabra, Invictus, Margaret, True Grit, We Brought a Zoo, The Informant!, Herafter, Inside Job, The Adjustment Bureau, Promised Land, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Contagion), Michael Mantell, Elliott Gould (Ruby Sparks), Al Pacino (Scarface, Simone, You Don't Know Jack), Eddie Jemison, Don Cheadle (Iron Man 3, Out of Sight, Traffic, Flight), Shaobo Qin, Casey Affleck (Tower Heist), Scott Caan (Enemy of the State), Bernie Mac (The cooler), Carl Reiner, Eddie Izzard, Ellen Barkin, David Paymer (Payback, The Five-Year Engagement), Vincent Cassel (Trance, Adrift - À Deriva, A Dangerous Method, Black Swan), Andy Garcia From the director of Magic Mike, Out of Sight, Traffic, Haywire, Contagion, The Informant!, Erin Brockovich, Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve, Side Effects, Behind the Candelabra

When Reuben Tishkoff is double-crossed in a luxury hotel business with business partner Willie Bank, he has a heart attack. Danny Ocean and Rusty Ryan plot a heist with their friends to avenge Reuben by breaking Bank's casino.

I don't know why the first time I had the chance to watch it, I was completely lost and gave up. It is a pretty straight forward robbery, with that many characters, but that is alright since we know them since 11 and 12. The scenario is fast, witty as usual, perhaps missing some ladies, sad because I really enjoyed Julia Robert's character, but she must be too expensive to afford. And why is Catherine Zeta Jones missing as well?... Anyway, the story is solid, the acting perfect, perhaps I didn't like the fact that it was the third episode and not much had changed, like a perfect formula, therefor quite commercial and a little boring. No?

watch trailer:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Inch'Allah by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, 2012 (R)

with Evelyne Brochu, Sabrina Ouazani (Of Gods and Men - Des Hommes et des Dieux, Le Passé - The Past), Sivan Levy, Yousef 'Joe' Sweid, Hammoudeh Alkarmi, Zorah Benali, Carlo Brandt (Korkoro - Liberté), Marie-Thérèse Fortin, Ahmad Massad

Chloe is a young Canadian doctor who divides her time between Ramallah, where she works with the Red Crescent, and Jerusalem, where she lives next door to her friend Ava, a young Israeli soldier. Increasingly sensitive to the conflict, Chloe goes daily through the checkpoint between the two cities to get to the refugee camp where she monitors the pregnancies of young women. As she becomes friends with Rand, one of her patients, Chloe learns more about life in the occupied territories and gets to spend some time with Rand's family. Torn between the two sides of the conflict, Chloe tries as best she can to build bridges between her friends but suffers from remaining a perpetual foreigner to both sides.

We cannot be indifferent to this movie. I wrote something far more heated when I just saw it and now decided to not look at it, and write with a calmer pace. Evelyne Brochu, which I just discovered in a total different role (Orphan Black) really impressed me here. She was our eyes on a situation that I think is a little too real, and the same way the movie depicts it, a circle. The progression makes us understand the same event with a different perspective. Because of the things Chloe is witnessing, because the movie is set mostly in a refugee camp where Palestinians have been moved with very poor living conditions, the movie takes a turn in which we cannot avoid be partial. At the same time, it keeps us viewers in a position where we are allowed to be smarter, and get angry at the simplistic views Chloe has, no matter how involved she is. It allows to see how tension is now based on the lack of communication. And how dangerous and saddening in both side the conflict has become.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Scarface by Brian De Palma, 1993 (R)

with Al Pacino (Simone, You Don't Know Jack), Steven Bauer (Traffic), Michelle Pfeiffer (People Like Us, Dark Shadows), Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham (Homeland), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Richard Belzer (Fame)

Al Pacino chews scenery as lowly Cuban refugee Tony Montana, who becomes a Florida drug kingpin but makes the fatal mistake of "getting high on his own supply." Michelle Pfeiffer has a small role as "the blonde" Tony lusts after. A remake of the 1932 film starring Paul Muni, Scarface gets a face-lift by transferring its venue to Miami, reflecting the drug rackets of the early 1980s.

Ok, that movie was a trip... I get it that at the time, it was a story that had some appeal, and the performance of Al Pacino was something to remember, and unlimited quotes for each appropriate setting, but oh my... This is loud, long, way to violent to be realistic. I mean maybe it was that bad at the time, but surely, there are more subtle ways of showing it... The characters are also caricatures, which really bothered me, the plot is therefor quite predictable. Or is it that it has been followed by so many movies which tried to tell that story, over and over? I don't know, maybe it is that, or maybe it is just not my type of movies... Looking forward for your feedback on it...

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Despicable Me by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, 2010 (PG)

With Steve Carell (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Hope Springs, Crazy Stupid Love, Dan In Real Life, Get Smart), Jason Segel (The Five-Year Engagement, Jeff Who Lives At Home, Bad Teacher), Russell Brand, Julie Andrews (Brave, The English Patient), Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig (All Good Things, Bridesmaids, Date Night, How to train your dragon), Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher, Pierre Coffin

In a happy suburban neighborhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden beneath this home is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by a small army of minions, we discover Gru, planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon. (Yes, the moon!) Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad. The world's greatest villain has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo, Edith and Agnes.

A good friend of mine who is doing amazing animation movies (See Creamen) recommended me this one, saying it was one of the best animation movies ever made (also flattering my ego by saying French people did it, and you know how proud we French can feel about our compatriots :)... Anyway, took me forever to watch it (obviously, since they even already came up with a new one), but now I'm all good. I have seen it. Well... Yes, it's good, cute, got all the perfect tools to create amazing merchandizing, think of all the minions you can collect as teddy-bears... ok, it has all of it, the sentimentalism, cynicism, humor, action. Had a good time watching it. Perhaps, I might say, it had too much of the perfect mix, because therefor it is a little difficult to imagine the final product to actually be French... Anyway, I still love Steve Carell, and was wondering if from the beginning, the directors were not thinking of him, to create Gru, they have some moves and faces that are really similar. :)

Watch trailer:

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Juno by Jason Reitman, 2007 (PG-13)

with Ellen Page (Inception, To Rome With Love), Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club, Valentine's Day, Deconstructing Harry), Jason Bateman (Up in The Air), Allison Janney (Masters of Sex, The Help, The Hours, Margaret, Liberal Arts), J.K. Simmons (The words, Contraband, Thank you For Smoking, Up in The Air, Young Adult), Olivia Thirlby (The Darkest Hour, Margaret), Rainn Wilson, Darla Fay
By the director of Thank you For Smoking, Up in The Air, Young Adult

Facing an unplanned pregnancy, teenage Juno (Ellen Page) devises a plan to locate the proverbial perfect parents to adopt her baby. But the seemingly ideal couple Juno chooses still has some growing up to do. Now, everyone in Juno’s world must do a little soul-searching. Michael Cera co-stars while Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner play the pair of affluent yuppies anxious for a child in this offbeat coming-of-age comedy, which won the 2008 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Definitely not at all a conventional story. Took me a while to get to watch it. While I think I saw pretty much all the movies of Jason Reitman (Ah, no, the new one came out yesterday, haven't seen it yet... "Labor Day"). I have loved most of them and really hated Young Adult. So Juno is an interesting journey of a 16 years old girl, smart, witty, secure, which perhaps doesn't define all women of her age, but she is realistic. Her relationship to her surrounding seems of an ordinary girl, and we follow her unusual journey with a sense of ordinary, very casual and taken day by day, which therefor makes it for a unique feeling of belonging, and normality. You come out of the movie refreshed, wiser, and somehow without judgement, where all other movies tend to have a moralistic view of anything pretty much. Thank you Jason Reitman.

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Francis Lawrence, 2013 (PG-13)

with Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games, Winter's Bone, Silver Linings Playbook, X-Men: First Class, The Beaver), Josh Hutcherson (The Kids are All Right), Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson (The Messenger, Now You See Me, Game Change), Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Man on a Ledge, Our Idiot Brother, The Next Three Days, People Like Us), Lenny Kravitz (Precious), Stanley Tucci (The Company You Keep, Margin Call, Captain America: The First Avenger, Julie and Julia), Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman), Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Moneyball, The Master), Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields
Part 2 of The Hunger Games from the director of Constantine

The film begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) - a competition that could change Panem forever.

Exhilarating. Beautiful. And most important, sticking to the book. Which I found really good. I enjoyed reading the trilogy after watching the first of the trilogy Hunger Games. The tone evolves to a lesser entertaining and deeper theme of a society where the rules of totalitarianism are shaking, and the characters become more complex, defined, and therefor more interesting. The first one was a basic survival story. The second one is about breaking the rules, playing the system, thinking a little bit more of a strategy of longer term. The third part is mostly about waiting and thinking. So in this trilogy, the teachings are definitely about establishing a plan, short term, middle term, and finally long term. And you can see through the eyes of Katniss little by little that she is making the journey that already before her, many wiser people have made, definitely not something we tend to teach these days, as it has all become about short term, problem solving society.

watch trailer:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Red 2 by Dean Parisot, 2013 (PG-13)

with Bruce Willis (Looper, Bandits, Surrogates, RED), Helen Mirren (Hitchcock, The Debt, RED), John Malkovich (Disgrace, RED), Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock, Thor, 360), Mary-Louise Parker (Solitary Man, RED), Byung-hun Lee, Catherine Zeta-Jones (Playing for keeps, Traffic, Ocean's Twelve, Side Effects, Broken City), Neal McDonough (Philly Kid), David Thewlis (War Horse, Harry Potter)
From the director of Galaxy Quest

Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device. To succeed, they'll need to survive an army of relentless assassins, ruthless terrorists and power-crazed government officials, all eager to get their hands on the next-generation weapon. The mission takes Frank and his motley crew to Paris, London and Moscow. Outgunned and outmanned, they have only their cunning wits, their old-school skills, and each other to rely on as they try to save the world-and stay alive in the process.

Ok, the first one was funny, and ok the trailer for the second one was funny. The only problem is that the movie itself, I mean RED 2, is not funny long enough and gives too much space to combat, with constant close ups from a very doubful hand camera work, which basically blinds us from any possible choregraphy, movement, or even meaning. The actors would be good, but there is no space for them, and the story is not that great. Catherine Zeta-Jones and David Thewlis allow for some time of humor, but so little it feels a little stingy. From the director of what could be called an actors' movie, Galaxy Quest, it feels like he tried everything possible to do the exact opposite of what he achieved in the past. Sad...

watch trailer:

Galaxy Quest by Dean Parisot, 1999 (PG)

with Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver (Snow Cake, Avatar), Alan Rickman (Love Actually, Alice In Wonderland, Snow Cake, Harry Potter), Tony Shalhoub (Men in Black, MIB 2), Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell, Enrico Colantoni, Justin Long (The Conspirator), Missi Pyle (The Artist), Patrick Breen, Jed Rees
From the director of Red 2

Decades after the success of the sci-fi series "Galaxy Quest," the show's washed-up stars Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver) and Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) are recruited by actual aliens to pull off an intergalactic rescue mission. At first, the actors assume the so-called Thermians are just another group of die-hard fans. But as the plot thickens, they realize they're working with real-life extraterrestrials.

Yes, by now, it is a cult movie. Actors are brilliant playing actors, bored to death in the reminiscence of their past success and overwhelmed by the craziness they generated, until they really get overwhelmed, and I guess that's my favorite part, the time they adapt to the reality they are so familiar with in a fictional way, such as Gwen repeating the computer's voice, or Tommy (Daryl Mitchell) trying to fly the ship he invented the driving for in a really virtual way, reaching this very long moment of everyone's incredulity when scratching the whole side of the ship exiting in a straight line... And the best being Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) in a complete euphoria, the whole time. Anyway, lots of fun.

watch trailer:

Sunday, December 22, 2013

True Blood by HBO, 2008-2014 (TVMA)

with Anna Paquin (Margaret, X-men), Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Chris Bauer, Nelsan Ellis, Carrie Preston, Alexander Skarsgård (What Maisie knew, Disconnect, Melancholia), Todd Lowe, Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks), Kristin Bauer van Straten, Jim Parrack (Annapolis), Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike), Lauren Bowles, William Sanderson (Blade Runner), Michael McMillian, Kevin Alejandro, Janina Gavankar, Marshall Allman, Adina Porter, Dale Raoul, Lucy Griffiths, Jessica Tuck, Denis O'Hare (Milk, Duplicity, Michael Clayton), Tara Buck, Mehcad Brooks, Fiona Shaw (The Tree of Life), Valentina Cervi, Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, Mildred Pierce, Simone, The Conspirator), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex, 127 Hours), Michelle Forbes (Battlestar Galactica)

Cast of True Blood

True Blood is an American television drama series created and produced by Alan Ball. It is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels by Charlaine Harris, detailing the co-existence of vampires and humans in Bon Temps, a fictional, small town in northwestern Louisiana. The series centers on the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic waitress with an otherworldly quality, and how her life is turned upside down when the Vampire Bill, walks into her place of employment two years after vampires 'came out of the coffin' on national television.

True Blood Season 2 featuring Michelle Forbes
My first impression about this series is there was no way to take it too seriously. They always turn out doing something so off the ridicule hits and gives us a reminder this is all for fun, and there is some serious drama going on. Still, it is good that this didn't turn out as a Twilight, and instead, its very own taste of what vampire-fairy-werewolf cohabitation may look like in a human world. I grew fascinated by the strangely aging Barbie-like SM Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and the war vet gentle-crazy Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe). Tara (Rutina Wesley) has perhaps the most interesting turn, stealing somehow the light from Anna Paquin. The supporting roles - the enormous cast is great, holding it together into a little village feeling of belonging, over the six seasons. Of course, as a good fan of Battlestar Galactica, it was good to see Michelle Forbes again, and since I learned to really like Alexander Skarsgård (Disconnect, What Maisie knew) and have fallen in love with the amazing Lizzy Caplan, whose performance in Masters of Sex is impeccable.
Update Sept 21, 2014: the final season tries to settle some history, and transition to a future where things are settled, and besides the radical losses (what the f*** happened to Tara?!?), people find finally each other, vampires and humans, and life goes back to ordinary, of course with Pam and Eric on top of the world. Ok, everything has to have an end... But I guess HBO could still develop on further adventures, since the writer of the original book keeps on going...

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Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous by John Pasquin, 2005 (PG-13)

with Sandra Bullock (Two Weeks Notice, The Blind Side, The Heat, Miss Congeniality, Gravity), Regina King (Enemy of the State), Sam Fuller, Enrique Murciano Jr., William Shatner (Miss Congeniality), Ernie Hudson (Miss Congeniality), Heather Burns (Two Weeks Notice, Miss Congeniality), Diedrich Bader (Ice Age), Treat Williams (127 Hours, Hollywood Ending, Hair, Deadfall, Reaching for the Moon - Flores Raras), Abraham Benrubi, Nick Offerman (All Good Things, The Men Who Stare At Goats), Eileen Brennan, Elisabeth Röhm, Leslie Grossman, Molly Gottlieb, Regis Philbin, Lusia Strus

After her triumph at the Miss United States pageant, FBI agent Gracie Hart (Sandra Bullock) becomes an overnight sensation — and the new “face of the FBI.” But when the pageant’s winner, Cheryl (Heather Burns), and emcee Stan (William Shatner) are abducted, Gracie springs into action with the help of skeptical, businesslike agent Sam Fuller (Regina King).

Definitely not as interesting as Miss Congeniality, and sort of a premise to what would be The Heat missing somehow the connection between the two partners. Sandra Bullock as the transformed to be elegant PR for the FBI is probably the only interesting part of this movie. The story is not the main focus, and we tend to forget what it is we are exactly watching. At least on the original side, there is no love story, and that's refreshing... A little bit like in The Heat...

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Seeking a Friend for the End of the World by Lorene Scafaria, 2012 (R)

with Steve Carell (Hope Springs, Crazy Stupid Love, Dan In Real Life, Get Smart), Keira Knightley (Anna Karenina, A Dangerous Method, Never Let Me Go, Love Actually), Connie Britton, Adam Brody (Thank you for Smoking), Rob Corddry, Gillian Jacobs, Derek Luke, Melanie Lynskey (The Informant!, Up in the Air, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), T.J. Miller (Our Idiot Brother, How To Train A Dragon, Unstoppable), Mark Moses, Patton Oswalt (Young Adult), William L. Petersen

Set in a too-near future, the movie explores what people will do when humanity's last days are at hand. As the respective journeys of Dodge (Mr. Carell) and Penny (Ms. Knightley) converge, the two spark to each other and their outlooks - if not the world's - brighten.

A very cute romantic comedy that reconciled me with Keira Knightley after a long time disapproving her overacting drama choices. She can actually be funny, and fast and witty. Therefor charming. I think Steve Carell always lost in translation kind of guy suits him well, although I don't believe he will ever be better than in "Dan In Real Life". The story is set with a timer and flows in a natural way till its end, which sorts of differs from "Melancholia" or "4:44 Last Day on Earth" and the feeling of precipitation to the end. It feels like the way movies end with happy ending and exiting the theater thinking this is their ending, never thinking how the next years of their lives might be altered by family drama, economy, weather and else. This is an actual ending. Blackout.

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