Cinema Mishmash

A personal and random look at movies, past and present

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Entries from August 2009


August 31st, 2009 · No Comments

Some have credited producer/writer/director Judd Apatow as a power transforming (or reinvigorating) cinematic comedy. However, I can’t reconcile a film like Superbad with a good number of the films that bear the Apatow mantle. (Not just  Step Brothers, which I’ve recently suffered. Take a look at his producer resume, there are some marginal and poor [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Comedy · Drama · Romance

Race to Witch Mountain

August 29th, 2009 · No Comments

Anyone of a certain age is sure to remember the Witch Mountain movies of the late 1970s, in which a pair of otherworldly kids with telepathic and telekinetic powers were constantly on the run from some threat of another. (Okay, I don’t remember the details, only that the girl Tia had a cool name and [...]

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

Step Brothers

August 28th, 2009 · No Comments

All I can say is, watching Step Brothers wasn’t my idea. However, I couldn’t have been prepared for just how sophomoric, crude, and stupid this film is. Which might be fine, for some, but there’s more: it isn’t funny. The idea of a pair 40-year-olds, each with a severe case of arrested development, being thrown [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Comedy · Popcorn


August 28th, 2009 · No Comments

The time travel thriller is no easy nut to crack. On the one hand, you can’t entirely ignore the logical and physical conundrum of what would happen if one person traveled back to a time and place he had already existed. On the other hand, if you try too hard to come up with a [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Foreign Language · Sci-Fi/Fantasy · Thriller

Mister Lonely

August 26th, 2009 · No Comments

The opening sequence of Harmony Korine’s Mister Lonely is transcendent, pure cinema. The moment it ended (with a cut to a close-up in a dingy Paris office), I was hopeful to spend the next 110 minutes experiencing an overlooked gem of a film.
The remainder of the first third of the film maintained my hope. Diego [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Comedy · Drama · Ensemble

The Garden

August 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment

The subject of Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s second documentary, The Garden, has all the elements of a juicy story: righteous class struggle; feckless, if not crooked, politicians; the changeable and uncertain application of the law by various courts; capitalism as the universal nurturer of self-interest, and even the occasional celebrity cameo. Thankfully, Kennedy has leveraged all [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Documentary

Ornamental Hairpin

August 23rd, 2009 · No Comments

I decided to initiate my foray into the four-film Eclipse series set entitled “Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu” with the lesser-known Japanese director’s most recent film, Ornamental Hairpin. For the end of this Sunday of hard domestic labor, the selection had everything to do with the film’s running time (70 minutes), although the title is also [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Drama · Foreign Language · Romance

The Class

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

Hearing clapping at the end of a film is unusual these days (in most American cinemas, anyway, outside of special screenings with actors or filmmakers in attendance). Hearing clapping at the end of a film screening in my home theater is more unusual. That kind of expression seems a little silly, especially when the “audience” [...]

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Tags: Drama · Ensemble · Foreign Language · Review

To Joy

August 20th, 2009 · No Comments

Only Ingmar Bergman could make a film chronicling the entirety of a couple’s relationship, one marked by only moments of sunlight breaking through the dark clouds of unmitigated angst, ambition, and sarcasm, and get away with calling it To Joy. The title holds secondary meaning, though, since both the singularly self-obsessed and self-destructive central character, [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Director · Drama · Foreign Language · Romance

Inglourious Basterds

August 18th, 2009 · 4 Comments

If the societal revenge flick genre didn’t exist before, it does now with Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, a multi-threaded re-imagining in which Hitler and the Nazis get what’s coming a lot sooner than historical truth and, as one would expect from the reining cineaste auteur, with a visual and narrative flourish that no one could [...]

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Tags: Action/Adventure · Director · Drama · Foreign Language · Review · Thriller · War

Breaking and Entering

August 6th, 2009 · No Comments

Breaking and Entering, the last film by director Anthony Minghella before his tragic early death, has so much going for it on its surface that it’s true value — the ideas that lie underneath — almost go undetected. That just might be the definition for the ideal of entertainment cinema. The surface here is adorned [...]

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Tags: Director · Drama · Review · Romance

Eagle Shooting Heroes

August 5th, 2009 · No Comments

If you thought that slapstick kung-fu comedy began with Kung Fu Hustle or Shaolin Soccer, or that gravity-defying, supernatural swordsmanship got is contemporary cinematic debut with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, you would be off by (at least) the better part of a decade. Among the many Chinese and Hong Kong films of which western audiences [...]

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Tags: Action/Adventure · Capsule · Comedy · Foreign Language · Popcorn

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

August 3rd, 2009 · 1 Comment

And the award for the most misguided holocaust drama goes to . . . The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. This film is so misguided in its concept, it’s story, it’s motivations, and it’s message that it would have been a great consolation had the acting and production design also been poor. Sadly, though, David [...]

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Tags: Drama · Review · War

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

August 1st, 2009 · No Comments

The title of Kevin Smith’s latest film is likely to turn away those people who probably shouldn’t see the film. And that is likely just fine with Smith, who isn’t afraid to offend or alienate. But make no mistake, the presence of Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks aren’t the only reason that this new film [...]

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Tags: Capsule · Comedy · Romance