Cinema Mishmash

A personal and random look at movies, past and present

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Entries from April 2009

W.

April 28th, 2009 · No Comments

W. is a strange little film. Throughout the first 15 minutes of the film, I was looking for clues as to the tone that Oliver Stone was trying to achieve, and am still confused as to where on the line between parody and earnest biopic the experience of this story is meant to reside. The opening cabinet [...]

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Tags: Biographical · Capsule · Director · Drama · War

Pinocchio

April 26th, 2009 · No Comments

For our son’s first birthday, my wife and I bought him a copy of the restored, blu-ray edition of Pinocchio. This time around he stopped his frenetic crawling and climbing long enough to gawk in delight at a few scenes, but bedtime came before the film finished. What struck me the most, watching the rest [...]

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Tags: Animation · Capsule · Family

Synecdoche, New York

April 24th, 2009 · No Comments

The script for Synecdoche, New York could have been written by the love child conceived of a time-bending one night stand between the Wachowski brothers, right after having created The Matrix, and Woody Allen at the height of his neurotic New York phase. But instead it was written and directed by Charlie Kaufman, a man who is easily one [...]

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Tags: Comedy · Drama · Ensemble · Review

Towelhead

April 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

If you are perusing the aisles of your video store, real or virtual, and have a hankering for a movie that will scare the hell out of anyone facing (or contemplating) the future adolescence of a daughter, Towelhead should do just the trick. Director Alan Ball (American Beauty, TV’s Six Feet Under) is nothing if not daring. While [...]

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Tags: Drama · Review

The Burmese Harp

April 21st, 2009 · No Comments

Japanese director Kon Ichikawa died last February at age 92 and after directing nearly 90 films. The Burmese Harp is the first of two films (followed by Fires on the Plain) which tackles the post-war Japanese ethos. In this one, a Japanese unit in Burma must submit to the allied forces after Japan officially surrenders. The [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Drama · Ensemble · Foreign Language · Musical · War

The Kingdom

April 19th, 2009 · No Comments

In what is essentially a slick, movie-length “CSI: Saudi Arabia,” The Kingdom combines the standard action flick with the forensic whodunnit and shakes it up with some international diplomatic intrigue.  There is something cathartic about a blow-em-up, shoot-em-up flick that is reasonably well constructed, and director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Hancock) is a technically skilled, confident [...]

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Tags: Action/Adventure · Capsule · Crime/Noir

Doubt

April 18th, 2009 · No Comments

Playwright turned movie director John Patrick Shanley has said that the concept of doubt, rather than any particular story or character, was the inspiration for the play and adapted motion picture which share the spare, if unimaginative, title Doubt. Ambiguity is a something to strive for in cinema (or the theater for the that matter), for [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Drama

Tokyo Sonata

April 17th, 2009 · No Comments

While Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa is often identified for his contributions to “J-Horror,” such as 1997’s Cure (good) and 2001’s Pulse (so-so), for me his best work is a beautiful and nuanced character study called Bright Future (2003). As a result, I was very excited to see Tokyo Sonata, after only having seen the film’s title and poster (which shows a young [...]

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Tags: Drama · Foreign Language · Review

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

April 16th, 2009 · No Comments

Every once in a while a light-hearted romantic comedy comes along which fulfills all of the expectations of the genre yet manages to do just a little bit more. Here Michael Cera plays Nick, a variation of his signature lovable geek, but this time he is coming to terms with the fact that the shallow, [...]

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Tags: Comedy · Ensemble · Popcorn · Review · Romance

The General

April 16th, 2009 · No Comments

There is a scene in Bertolucci’s The Dreamers in which the young cineasts debate whether Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton was the superior filmmaker. So when I recently saw that The Auteurs had Keaton’s The General available for online viewing, I figured I might as well find out for myself. In my grandfather’s basement, we kids were treated to [...]

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Tags: Action/Adventure · Capsule · Romance · Silent · War

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

April 14th, 2009 · No Comments

Whether good, bad, or somewhere in between, Woody Allen films, for me, have something in common: they form no lasting impression in my memory. The best ones are like a nice piece of hard candy, thoroughly enjoyable in the moment until the substance, and soon thereafter the flavor, dissolves away. Maybe that’s a flaw, maybe [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Comedy · Director · Drama · Ensemble · Romance

The Family That Preys

April 11th, 2009 · No Comments

By circumstance over this Easter weekend, The Family That Preys was my first Tyler Perry movie. I know this as a matter of certainty because a trailer for every other Tyler Perry movie ever made plays on the DVD prior to the main feature. I have followed his work and his success, but broad comedy [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Drama

When the Levees Broke

April 7th, 2009 · No Comments

During the production of Spike Lee’s New Katrina documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, I recall hearing a news story that the film was going to suggest that the New Orleans levees were intentionally detonated in order to protect the more affluent neighborhoods at the expense of the poorer communities. That notion immediately [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Director · Documentary

Rachel Getting Married

April 4th, 2009 · No Comments

The success of Rachel Getting Married owes a lot to director Jonathan Demme’s experience as a documentary filmmaker and to the Dogme ideals regarding live music recording and hand held camerawork. But the intimate way the images and sound are captured stick out as mere artifice were it not for the rich texture given to each of [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Drama · Ensemble

Patrick, Age 1.5

April 2nd, 2009 · No Comments

Nearly one year ago, I can recall my wife and I anxiously awaiting the arrival of our son, who was due to be born within a matter of days. And while that type of prenatal anxiety is universal, our experience was unique to the much smaller subset of adoptive parents. Thanks to the incredible generosity [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Comedy · Drama · Foreign Language