Cinema Mishmash

A personal and random look at movies, past and present

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Entries from January 2009

The Magic Flute

January 31st, 2009 · No Comments

When one of the masters of both cinema and the theater decides to make a film (albeit for television) of a beloved opera, chances are that the results will be unexpected. Such is the case for Ingmar Bergman’s retelling of The Magic Flute. Because it is faithful to Mozart, there are fewer clues than one [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Comedy · Director · Foreign Language · Musical · Romance · Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Under the Same Moon

January 26th, 2009 · 1 Comment

With a title like Under the Same Moon and a story about a nine-year-old Mexican boy who longs to be reunited with his mother (who crossed the border four years ago in order to send money back to support him), one might expect to grab a hanky and be taken on an emotional ride. And [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Drama · Family · Foreign Language

The Year My Parents Went on Vacation

January 25th, 2009 · No Comments

Set in Brazil in 1970, The Year My Parents Went on Vacation tells a very personal story through the eyes of its 11-year-old protagonist while simultaneously commenting on two compelling national issues: the student communist movement against Brazil’s dictatorship and Brazil’s historic World Cup soccer championship.  In addition, we get an intimate look into a prominent [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Drama · Foreign Language

The Duchess

January 25th, 2009 · 5 Comments

Of all the opulent, high-budget period costume dramas ever made, The Duchess is certainly one of them. Which is to say, the film is visually impressive but not otherwise outstanding or likely to be memorable. Keira Knightley is fine as Georgiana, the before-her-time woman of influence and Duchess of Devonshire. Ralph Fiennes is well cast as [...]

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Tags: Biographical · Capsule · Drama · Romance

The Forbidden Kingdom

January 21st, 2009 · No Comments

If you were to cross the scripts of The Karate Kid and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, then ask your casting director to find the teenage version of Fred Savage from The Wonder Years, you would end up with The Forbidden Kingdom. The visual spectacle of the effects and stunt choreography, as well as the slapstick [...]

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Tags: Action/Adventure · Capsule

The Architect

January 19th, 2009 · No Comments

HDNet Films, by navigating the divide between satellite television and traditional film distribution (its sister ventures being the HDNet channels as well as the Landmark cinema chain), is pioneering the unknown future of cinema. With films like Bubble and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, there is reason to be hopeful about the future.  If [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Drama

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

January 11th, 2009 · No Comments

Director Guillermo del Toro is a long way toward establishing himself as one of the greatest contemporary storytellers, and this sequel to his 2004 comic book adaptation solidifies his ability to bring his distinctive visual and narrative style to commercial ventures as well his more personal projects. If there is indeed now a Hellboy [...]

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Tags: Action/Adventure · Capsule · Comic Book · Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Azur & Asmar

January 8th, 2009 · No Comments

It’s a shame that Michel Ocelot’s charming, visually stunning Azur & Asmar has had such little exposure to date. The film first screened in France in 2006, and yet is credited with only some festival appearances and a limited release this past fall – its weeklong run this month at the Gene Siskel Film Center [...]

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Tags: Animation · Capsule · Drama · Family · Foreign Language · Romance

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

January 7th, 2009 · No Comments

The X-Files television series was a thoroughly enjoyable conceit. The 1998 film was a success because it parlayed the energy of the series and yet embraced the language of cinema. Series creator Chris Carter wasn’t wrong to think that people would want the opportunity to spend more time with Mulder and Scully, but in toying [...]

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Tags: Action/Adventure · Capsule · Crime/Noir · Drama · Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Wanted

January 4th, 2009 · No Comments

I have a great deal of respect for Russian director Timur Bekmambetov, whose visually innovative films Night Watch and Day Watch look better and work better than many, many movies made with much, much larger budgets. The allure of those films, though, is that they took a well-worn concept (an immortal race, e.g. vampires) and told stories which [...]

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Tags: Action/Adventure · Capsule · Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Tropic Thunder

January 3rd, 2009 · No Comments

Parody is tough to do well, and the proof of this can be found on several shelves in your local video store (file under Scary Movie).  Tropic Thunder is a ridiculous lark of a film, but a delicious one, to the credit of the vast talent of Robert Downy, Jr. (may he continue to stay out of the [...]

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Tags: Action/Adventure · Capsule · Comedy · Ensemble

The Day the Earth Stood Still

January 2nd, 2009 · No Comments

The generally accepted principle of genre-based criticism suggests that the assessment of the quality of a film requires consideration of its genre, because the genre supplied the “contract” between the filmmakers and the audience. A comedy must deliver laughs, an action film must deliver excitement, a thriller must deliver thrills, and so on. In 1951, [...]

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Tags: Action/Adventure · Capsule · Sci-Fi/Fantasy