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Monday, April 30, 2012

Prometheus Trailer - It kind of kicks ass

If you needed a reason to get back in the theater that did not include men in tights or girls with arrows, this may be the movie.  I don't plan on spoiling it for you and also offer some advice - let this be the last trailer you watch for this film.  There are a couple others out there that show way too much for my liking.  Sit back.  Enjoy.  And then tell me what you think in the comments.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Total Recall Trailer

Yet another remake or reimagining or reboot or rehash, WHATEVER you want to call it. The first time I saw the original film it blew my mind. This looks too slick and clean to be a mind blower, it does look entertaining though.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Zero Stars: Film Review In Peril


For years we have trusted them.  They were the experts.  They had the knowledge.  They knew what was best for us.  They were the film critics.  And for years they mislead us.  The same people whose newspaper and magazine, website and television show reviews were used to shape our film viewing schedules were unknowingly (hopefully) using an inadequate system to deliver their message.  More specifically,  I am referring to the rating systems used to review films.  Are these actions malicious in nature?  I highly doubt so.  There are many ways to rate a film; numerical scores, letter grades, thumbs up or thumbs down to name a few.  The problem, only one rating system is the correct way to deliver a review; allowing universally interpreted rating and the proper increments needed to properly classify a film - providing potential film goers an easy way to filter through the numerous films on screen each week.  If you guessed the 10-point rating system (10 Stars) then pat yourself on the back - you are correct.   Let's take a look at some of the flawed rating systems.



The thumbs up/down is probably the best known of all rating systems.  It was created by an idol of mine, perhaps the best film critic of all time, of course I speak of Ben Lyons.  I kid, I kid.   I of course am referring to critic and TV icon, Roger Ebert.  Let me clarify, the Thumb System is an effective, straight forward way to rate film and can be quite helpful if, and it is a big IF, you have access to hear the argument supporting the thumb decision.  Otherwise, films are clumped into too few categories 2 thumbs up, 2 thumbs down, split decision, thumbs sideways, sitting there with your thumb up your ass, Tom Thumb, Thumbelina, etc.  It is too broad of a rating system.  How can you give the same exact rating (two-thumbs-up) to both The Godfather and the beloved Matrix Reloaded?  Maybe they did like both films, perhaps they loved the action or the effects, but one simply does not hold a candle to the other.   It is fine to give a thumbs up to any film you see fit, but to a novice film viewer it is a disservice.  If the options are between two identically rated films he/she may skip over an evening watching Michael, Veto, and Fredo, choosing instead to watch humping rave parties, albino twins and a Colonel Sanders looking dude in the inferior Matrix sequel.  Not very responsible film reviewing.  Sorry Rog, thumbs down to your system.  Without the show's review commentary it is too flawed to recommend.  On a side note, (I know it is sacrilege) I preferred the more recent variation - the See it, Skip it, Rent it system used on the show after Roger's exit - not perfect, but less room for interpretation.  FLAWED

Onto The Letter Grade System.  Seems like a fine choice... sure ON THE SURFACE.  Upon further review, the system is flawed and can be confusing.  The biggest problem is that the letter grading system differs country to country, state to state, school to school.  There is no universal letter grading system therefore a review is left for interpretation.  The system is also affected by the fact that we are all at varying levels of intelligence our grades in school probably reflected that.  Because of that the ratings are subjective.  If I was a D+ student I may be thrilled with a C/C+ rating.  This C+ review could mislead me and have me off and running to the theater to buy tickets for "John Carter."  Big mistake.  A straight A student may never consider watching any film rated below a B-, preventing them from enjoying just about every Adam Sandler film - oh wait maybe that is a plus.  The letter grades themselves may be objective, but how we interpret them certainly is not.  FLAWED+

The most commonly used rating system is also the most flawed one, the dreaded Four-Star Rating System  (commonly referred to in many professional film circles as the Very Super Shitty Film Rating System...That Stinks Too.)  I know, very technical terminology, but as always I will try to keep this simple to everyone can follow along.  The Four-Star Rating System simply lacks enough stars to properly distinguish between the good through fair films.  If a 4 star is excellent and 1 star is poor, what is a mediocre film's star rating, a film that is worthy of viewing, but not very good?  Two and a half stars?  That seems to be the standard which makes me question how a film that is only a half star better can get a glowing review - IT IS ONLY A HALF STAR DIFFERENCE.   One critic mentioned earlier gave a 3-star review to both Burt Reynold's family film, "Cop and a Half" and "The Matrix." Either Cop and a Half is extremely overrated, the guy loves Burt Reynolds or he did not have enough stars to properly review the film.  Having seen both of these films I can firmly say, both do not deserve the same grade.  The reviewer may have enjoyed Cop and a Half, but did not want to associate it with the other 2.5-star films since they are just above the recommendable bar, so he bumped it up to the 3 star review.  Unfortunately for The Matrix and any other film that deserves a higher rating, this devalues the 3-star rating.  More stars are needed to make the subtle distinction between the films.  A half star may seem like a minor adjustment, but it makes all the difference.  FLAWED BEYOND REPAIR

That brings us to a system that offers many more grading options, The 100-Star Ratings System.  Let me start by saying rating out of 100 stars is ridiculous.  Opting for a 100-star rating system that allows the use of half stars increments is just asinine and will never be mentioned againo n this website...until now.  Sorry, I just had to mention this.  I recently saw a site that reviewed films not only on a 100-point system, but broke it down to decimals.  Are you kidding me!?!  Do you hate yourself?  Do you hate your readers?   I believe the rating was 79.2.  Even if there was some sort of equation that was used to deliver such a specific rating, for categorizing purposes why not just round it up or down to the nearest integer.  To inflict pain like this on yourself makes me fear the reviewer suffers from some sort of psychosis.  It just cannot be natural.  It is not right.   FLAWED AND SCARY

Purists will say, "FilmSnork, the only true form of review is that with no stars or thumbs, a long form essay."  To that I say, horse puckey!  In the current day and age, a time where we need an app to solve every problem and make everything "easier," the odds of people reading entire reviews that do not contain a star rating are pretty slim.  In these times, too many people are now hooked on instant gratification - obtaining the answer without really knowing the question.  Readers want to get to the point - a recommendation - a simple yes or no.  It is disheartening to those that spend hours crafting the perfect, but most readers will bypass it all to get to the star-rating.  Live with it.  Other will avoid reading the review itself for fear of being influenced too much or having the film spoiled.  Without the star rating that long form review may as well be your social security number and detailed directions to the family treasure - most people are not reading it.  The most basic rule of film review: offer a Ten-Star-Rating or be ignored.  If you have read this rant to this point you are the exception to the rule.  Congrats.    FLAWED SOCIETY

In the case of the FilmSnork110 it was necessary to choose a rating system and since I was going to be reviewing such a vast number of movies in such a short period of time, I needed one without flaws.  Of course, I went with the best system for ratings film know to man The Ten-Star Rating System (aka the jacked up 5-star system.)  10 really comes into play when you get to the upper echelon of films and need to carefully assign a score - there are few 9 star reviews, fewer 9.5 star reviews and the vary rare 10 star reviews.  There MUST be a distinction between great films and the greatest films of all time - 10-Star allows for that.  The public MUST be given proper reviews.  Doggone-it! The flawed Four-Star Rating System (yuck) has those films all clumped into one rating 4 stars.  You "professional" film critics with your 4 stars, blah blah blah... and your Thumbs ups, whip those things out with such reckless abandon, sending trusting viewers out into the world of film to fend for themselves.  YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED! Your reviews are nothing less than a disservice to the public.  You... YOU...   Hold on.  Let me compose myself.  Sorry about the outburst.  I never came hear to brow beat anyone, but I snapped.   Where were we.  The 10-star rating system (when allowing use of half stars) allows reviewers to break down a rating into required increments needed to differentiate between a good film and a very good film, but does not provide too many options to drive the reader over the edge.  Not too few, not to many, just right.  THE PERFECTLY UNFLAWED RATING SYSTEM

The critics of the world are a gift to us all, combining their passion and knowledge to provide insight to the arts.  Now is the time they accept that they may have been using the improper rating system, take the hit to the ego and correct the issue.  It is a two step process: 1) a heartfelt apology to the readers, followed by 2) the simple task of reevaluating every single one of their film reviews and translating their review using the 10-Star-Rating System will suffice.  Roger, for you that would be somewhere in the range of 5-10K reviews... get busy.


(#filmsnork110 journal entry 3/27/2012)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Join us on FACEBOOK or TWITTER to WIN (2) MOVIE TICKETS and More.


Want to win 2 MOVIE PASSES on us?  It is simple.  Just LIKE our FilmSnork Facebook Page and/or follow on Twitter @filmsnork.  Everyone that follows on FB or Twitter gets entry to the giveaway.  In addition, if you get a friend to sign up you will receive an additional entry to the giveaway.  At the end of the 30 days we will randomly select a user from all the entries - the winner gets two passes to AMC theaters.  (Click the above logos to go to the pages, click "Like" or "Follow" when you do.)

Upon LIKE-ing the page, notify us who you signed up friends send me a message with your name so we can give you credit.

The more people you sign up the more benefits.


If you sign up:
5 new users = $5 amazon GC
10 new users = $10 amazon GC
20+ new users = $20 amazon GC

If, by the end of this contest, we reach our goal of 250 FB followers and/or 250 Twitter Followers (not spammers) there will be a additional award ($25 amazon.com GC) given to a random site member.


This could be the easiest contest you will ever win, all you have to do is bug your friends to sign up.  If it is a strong enough relationship they will forgive you for hounding them.  Look at the odds, they don't get much better than that.   It is simple, it is rewarding and will give you an excuse to call that old friend that you have lost touch with. 

If you live outside the USA an alternate prize will be offered.

Thanks for the support and get those members signed up!

FilmSnork


This contest lasts from April 11th to May 11th.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mad Men Awesomeness JCVD Style

I saw this and just had to share it because of the sheer level of joy it will provide to your day. A little holiday gift from FilmSnork.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Hunger Games - Film Review


#TheHungerGames #FilmSnork110 (63) 

The books are everywhere.  The buzz has reached monumental levels.  But how is the film?  I am here to say, go see it... but don't expect too much.  It is not that this is not an entertaining film; it is.  The problem it suffers from is the constraints of being on the big screen. Essentially, there is too much to cover in too little time; and because of that the characters are not developed enough for one to care about them.  Once you’ve established this disconnect from the characters, you need something special to keep the audience from losing interest.  That something special is Jennifer Lawrence who, luckily for the producers, is on screen for 93.6% of the film.


For those of you who do not know, the film is about a futuristic, dystopian society (which seems to be the only future writers think we are going to have) where people are divided into districts and left impoverished and reliant on the government.  As a form of punishment for a revolt, years before, each districts' children have their names put into a lottery where a total of 24 will be drawn and sent to a wilderness arena to fight to the death.  The heroine, Katniss Everdeen, bravely volunteers herself as a replacement for her younger sister, Primrose, in the Games.  The local baker’s son, Peeta, is also selected. From that point on we watch the preparation of the warriors (some possibly too young to read, others built like gladiators) followed by the actual games themself.   Katniss teams up with Peeta, a boy she barely recalls from her past (save for one poignant moment); and they work together to survive.  In the end, only one will stand to win the games



As someone that read the books, I knew what to expect going in, and the film did deliver on many levels.  It was visually satisfying, had great action, and a suitable cast. But where it failed was not spending enough time developing the characters.  During the Olympics the networks spend hours presenting each athlete’s story so that, by the time they win or lose, you actually feel like you care... only to forget most of their names in a few days.  During this film there are 24 game participants, alone.  Some were described in detail, some had a few lines of dialogue to develop them, and others were simply just faces... and (other than Katniss) not one did I care about.  I understand the shock of children killing children was supposed to add weight to the scenario; but after the first few kills you grow numb to the violence.  It is repetitive, and not very engaging, for two reasons:  1) the lack of character development (as said several times already), and 2) the battle arena kills were shot with such wild camera movements that it was hard to tell who was being killed or how... hence taking away any weight they would usually carry.  If I’m already lacking an attachment to the character, then failing to show their face – killer or victim - at such a crucial moment is a disservice to the story.  The eyes are the window to the soul.  Gary Ross would rather you just see a bunch of blurred images.  Do not get me wrong, I do not want gore.  I cringe at the thought of a child being hurt or even sick - but if you are making a film where you are killing children as part of a larger metaphor, make them mean something.  Make me care.  Make me cry.  Instead, you made me dizzy.  I admit I was choked up, early on, when Katniss sacrificed herself, and entered the Games, to save her sister.  Unfortunately, that was the peak of my emotional connection.


Coming in just short of two and a half hours the film could not go much longer.  It would have been better to divide the book into two films – one, that opened in March, showing the story up until the games; the next, in May, showing the actual games.  This would have been long enough to allow audiences to go out and see the first film, absorb it, and have them salivating for more;  yet, not too far apart that the story loses all its buzz.

Overall though (hard to believe after that lecture) I enjoyed the film.  One of the main reasons was Jennifer Lawrence.  There is something fresh about her.  She is a great actress (see Winter's Bone for more proof) and adds a certain on screen presence that is refreshing.  So many actors come across as if they are doing just that – acting.  She does not.  She seems natural and unaffected by the camera.  Perfect casting, no matter what the folks that wanted her to lose weight have been saying.  If she had been replaced as the lead by some Hollywood starlet it would have been a death blow to the film.  Other members of the cast do well enough, too, even though they suffer from having their characters cut down tremendously.  The biggest crime against the film was trimming down the role of, the perfectly cast, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson); the drunken, former Hunger Games winner and mentor to District 12's participants.  Perhaps the second most memorable character in the book, he becomes just a sidekick in the film - even his drunkenness is cut back.  Another shame.


So, overall, if you read the books prepare for the standard Hollywood stripping-down, and fill in the blanks with your book knowledge.  For those who have not read the book, I recommend you read it before you see it.  Otherwise you will probably find the Games a bit hollow as I did.  6.5 out of 10.

Monday, April 2, 2012

#FILMSNORK JOURNAL

#FILMSNORK110 JOURNAL - After numerous attempts to make this easy to navigate I have chosen this setup for your reading needs - a separate journal and review posting for the FilmSnork110.  I hope you enjoy my writings and can overlook the typos.


(02/01/2012)  It has begun.  The 110/100 is being kicked off with some films that are currently in the news, Oscar nominees.  Expect micro-reviews for every film viewed and full length reviews for a certain few.   I just got recommendations from Ben Mankiewicz of Turner Classic Movies and the former co-host of "At the Movies."  Thanks Ben!

(02/05/2012)
I am 4 and half days in and I reach my first speed bumps a missing disc and Super Bowl Sunday.  Like a Boy Scout I am always prepared.    The first hurdle, Super Bowl Sunday - the odds of me fitting in a movie after the Super Bowl are slim to none, especially if I am out with my brother-in-laws smoking cigars if (er) WHEN the Giants win.  The solution a morning movie when we just sat down to watch.  New hurdle.  As we sat down to watch "The Help" I realized the disc was MIA.  Luckily this is 2012 and films are avaiable on my computer, mailbox, phone, TV, Xbox, BluRay player, tablet and OnDemand - I went with Amazon streaming in HD (of course) on the BluRay.  We were up and running in minutes.  On to the show.

(02/09/2012)
After getting off to a good head start an illness and a visit from family has put me off track, meaning today I will need to kick it into high gear.  So far, the films have been quite enjoyable.  Currently I am watching all films that have been nominated for this year's Oscars.  Overall, I am underwhelmed with the top 9 films.  I have two more to watch and a few others in the other major categories.  Once I do I will be writing an entry ranking my least favorite to favorite of the year.   Today, in addition to some viewing, I will be adding the reviews for all the films watched in its own article otherwise this one will be way too long.  

(02/14/2012)
As I sit down to begin my 16th film in 14 days I have a few observations.  First, I have noticed that I have become much more critical as the challenge carries on.  It has only been 16 films of the 110, but something has occurred that I did not expect... I am growing tired of movies.  Not viewing them, rather the time it takes to do so.  Squeezing a 2 hour film into my Valentine's Day when the theme of the week is Oscar Nominees is not easy - time constraints, spousal patience and a lack of interest are all going against me.  I would love to be watching "Some Kind of Wonderful" or another 80's Hughes romance instead of a doc on Afghanistan, but a deal is a deal.   The second observation, film flaws that may not have been voluntarily overlooked before are driving me insane right now.  An example, War Horse - not a bad film, but the English speaking Germans had me wishing I could fast forward.  My patience is wearing thin mainly because my film options are under the constraints of the selections of the Academy.   So here I go.  Valentine's night and it is time to start a documentary about war.  Romantic.

(02/16/2012)
As the "Oscar Nominee Weeks" of the challenge come to a close I have reached my goal to see the majority of nominees in every field.  All Best Picture  to the point that I have seen just about every nominee I will be seeing this year, with the exception of 3.  The remaining films I have to see all come up on my list of the nominees I want to see the least.  So in order to keep up the current viewing pace I have been supplementing my vieiwng with addtional films, most notworthy "Birdemic" possibly the (no exageration) worst film I have ever viewed - check it out.  Also, after watching Oscar caliber films, many of a depressing nature, it was time to get some films in some lighter fare.   That is why I took the recommendation of one site user and watched "There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane," another kneeslapper.  Ugh.   I had an observation about time that I will share later. 

(2/26/2012)
I have worked my way through the majority of Oscar films and am so ready to move on to other territory.  Being consticted to such a narrow selection of films takes a little of the fun out of the whole experiment.  There were numerous films I would have rather been watching instead of some of the overblown Oscar duds - War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly close which is why when this is all done I plan to watch whatever film grabs my fancy.  I love when things grab my fancy.


(2/27/2012)
The Oscars are over.  My annual picks were quite successful, perhaps the most successful ever.  20-4.  Only misses were in a category which I did not see any of the films (Doc short), Visual Effects (chose Apes over Hugo - if I had reviewed the effects before voting I would have gotten it,) Cinematography (where Dragon Tattoo surprisingly beat Tree of Life.)  The biggest upset, for me, was Meryl Streep winning which ended my long streak of having seen every Oscar winner (in the major categories) before the awards - when Viola Davis lost to to Streep's portrayal of Margaret Thatcher the steak died.  Long live the streak.  Overall the Oscars show was a acceptable, nothing more than that.  Billy Crystal's act was tired and he did not turn off the autopilot until about mid way through when he started to improv his way through it.  I hope this is his swan song.  Eddie Murphy would have brought something new to the tired show that was surely missing this year - maybe next year.  Watching the few moments when Billy was on mad me realize why Anne Hathaway and James Franco were such busts - their scripted batter was okay, their complete lack of anything improvised was not.  When something unique occurs you need to be witty enough to comment on it, not just to go into schtick.  As for the awards themselves, I thought they were predictable and safe - just like the nominees.  Unlike some people I do not have a strong distaste for all things The Artist.  I found the film to be sweet, charming and technically exceptional.  In a year that was lacking one great film, The Artist was worthy of the trophy.  There were plenty of very good films, just not many that will be make their way into my collection or being discussed years down the line. 

(3/02/2012)
I am back to picking films without restrictions (at least before I start some theme weeks.)  Surprisingly, I am finding myself to be less motivated to view.  Is it the lack of a deadline that is causing it, the films I currently have available to me aren't compelling enough or is it just plain old burnout.  The goal of this experiment is not just to watch films, it is to get something out of each film - sitting in a room while a movie is running will not do.  My guess is the lack of time, juggling daily life, family, work and of course the occasional bout of sleeping.  With the right film selection I can literally watch movies ALL day.  In my heyday during college, I would go to the movies for the first show of the day (usually around 11am) and leave after the last film of the day.  The amazing part is not the sure endurance that I am sure you are privately praising in your head, but rather the forethought put into the event.  The logistics: one ticket was bought, five films were viewed, 13 hours of film viewing, all food and beverage were brought with me.   The secret to my success was a game plan - I would figure in running time, show times and theater locations (I knew the theater quite well.)  Atop of the aforementioned details I also had to account for the actions of my mortal enemy, the cinema employees.  If I was seen too often, in the wrong theater at the wrong time or, worst of all, asked for my ticket my cover would be blown.  Being invisible was an art form which involved ducking into other theaters as my upcoming theater and previous theater were being cleaned... worst case scenarios lead me to extended stays in the cinema bathrooms - fun stuff, but anything for your craft.  Those days, as mischievous as they were are in a way missed.  Now I buy my tickets like everyone else - no 5 film days or even double features.  If you have it in you I recommend you try it out one day.  It will test your will, endurance and cunningness as well as provide an adrenaline rush that was strong enough it could even make "The Spice Girls" movie palatable.


(3/04/2012)
In the middle of documentary week (a #filmsnork110 week will be 5 days) and am finding inconsistent results.  Some docs are grabbing my attention, others are making me wish I cancelled doc week.  Nothing terrible so far, but with the last few weeks of stress I could use some more light fare rather than this list:
Project Nim
Pearl Jam Twenty
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Tabloid
Troll Hunter
Every Little Step


I am looking forward to the upcoming days off when I can enjoy a gin and tonic, a cigar and watch films in a state of relaxation rather than aggravation.  I use films as a way to escape and find with documentaries that escape rarely happens.  It often just adds to the stress found in life in some odd way - even though these stories are not mine they weigh heavy on me.  One film I recommend (it is streaming on Netflix now) is Microcosm.  The film consists of shot after extremely shot of the most beautiful insects.  I put it on now and then when I am reading or writing to give my eyes and mind a visually filling break.  Check it out.
(03/08/2012) Doc Week is wrapping up early after some ambitious late night viewing. #TrollHunter is the final doc on my list, a foreign film about people that hunt trolls like some people chase storms. Looking forward to it.

Some of the observant, loyal fans of FilmSnork have noticed that I skipped over entry #41. Actually I didn't - there was a numbering issue back a couple dozen films ago, ironically at unlucky #SaturdayThe14th. Unlucky for me I came across the film and decided to watch it. Once again I am winging my viewing options for a few days and I break from the norm. Next week I am going to need your help though. I must film in a few missing films for certain theme weeks. Another idea on my mind is having everyone submit and actor/actress then voting for one from the submissions (hopefully you're not too cruel to me) and creating a theme week where I will only watch films starring the chosen thespian. Look for that next week.

Until then, I plan minimal postings for a few days (even though i will continue to watch films) as I take a breather.
(03/13/2012)  I am back. A weekend of cigars, late nights, craps and Scotch, but enough about my niece's 4th birthday party at Chucky Cheese. Time to post some of the latest reviews. Surprisingly the long weekend in Vegas only threw me off by one day as my body worked double time to make up for not only the daylight savings time shift, and the 6 hour flight with 2 kids, and the 3 hour time zone adjustment, but also staying out until 4am shooting craps...and winning (only to be woken up at 6:30). As tough as it was to get enthusiastic about anything other than sleep, I knocked out 3 films in four days - one that I enjoyed tremendously. I will be tossing the reviews up the site and FB throughout the day.

 

(03/17/2012)  Another year, another birthday.  As I get older, I do as many people do, I reflect back on my life.  Remembering what has gotten me to this point - not only the accomplishments and victories, but also the failures and regrets.  One thing that has had a constant presence in my life has been film.  It has been a passion and a dream.  These are just a few random moments from my movie viewing history that came to mind.


The mysterious moment when we all packed into the family van on an undisclosed trip at sunset - not one of my 5 siblings knew where we were going to.  The curiosity turned to joy when my mother walked in with the cooler of drinks, bags of homemade popcorn and the pillows.  We were going to the drive-in!!!  So many memories of the drive-in theater James Bond films, 101 Dalmatians, the refreshment stand the wonderful intermission countdown videos "5 minutes til showtime."  The one memory that stands out is when my parents choose to see something beside Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Are you kidding me!  Not sure what we were supposed to be watching, but my feature (through the side window and without audio) was Indy in all it's face-melting glory.


I clearly remember crying when my mother walked me to bed as I tried for the fourth and final time to convince her that I CAN stay awake to finish watching The Ten Commandants.  It was our annual Easter viewing of the film with Grandma and Babcia taking the prime seats on the couch.  My mother had seen my eyes close and head bob multiple time.  Knowing it was the right thing to do she walked me to bed.  I cried myself to sleep pretty quickly.


Then there was the time we were all playing wiffle ball in my best friend's backyard and one of the gang was talking about how he saw Pee Wee's Big Adventure.  My focus instantly shifted completely from the game at hand to the movie I wished to so.  I wanted to see that movie.  I had to see that movie.  I had to know about that movie.  It baffled me, how HE (a common man) not me (the young film connoisseur) could have been lucky enough to learn the secret of the Adventures of Pee Wee.  My pestering for details proved to be too much for my friend.  After countless attempts to gain knowledge of the Adventure - during huddles on the mound, between at bats and during big out high fives, I was told to wait until after the game before he would tell me more... he never did.  :(




The time I went to visit my college roommate and his wife for the first time in a long time and convinced them to see Superman Returns during my short visit.  Neither wanted to, both did even though it was my second screening of it in two days (forgot if that detail was disclosed or undisclosed.)  They were underwhelmed.  I felt bad... a little.  Oh well.


Then there is a tale of romance.  It was an average Saturday night.  I was on a date with a beautiful woman with a plan, a nice dinner, drinks and movie.  Dinner and the drinks went well and off we went to an old restored theater to see Leaving Las Vegas.  We enjoyed the film and I did not want the night to end just yet so I could get more time with this girl I was smitten with.  I offered up the idea that we see another movie to which she was open to.  The challenge what film and where?   The film, easy, I had in mind the classic date film Dead Man Walking with Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon.  As for where, back in those days it was not as easy... no internet, no smartphones and for that matter, no cellphones.  In those days you would have to have a quarter to call someone that had the local listings on them or the number to the theater to check the showtimes.  The other option, carrying around a newspaper and checking the times, by hand, on paper - like a caveman.  Luckily, I was prepared and had the entertainment section in my car and off we went.  We made it to the theater just in time and enjoyed the show to the point that my date was sobbing uncontrollably.  I guess she liked it.  After she calmed down we went to a little bar and grabbed another drink.  As we sat there enjoying the cocktail and eachother's company and idea came to mind.  Let's see one more film.  There was a second-run theater on the way home that we called the dollar-fifties.  One film for one dollar and fifty cents.  You can't beat that.  To extend the evening a bit longer I decided to offer the idea of one more film.  There was no way she would.  No one would be interested in three films in a row after an evening already full of two harrowing films.  There was no way.  Wait.  Scratch that.  She wanted to go.  Off we went to see 12 Monkeys.  A perfect evening.  A few drinks, a nice dinner, a beautiful date and great movies.  Afterwards, I did the only thing that seemed appropriate, I married her.


There are additional tales I could tell, hundreds of them.  The midnight screening of the Burton/Keaton Batman film with a group of friends where we were literally chased around by two girls.  That was a magic evening.  The time my dad did not anticipate E.T. being sold out and we had to settle for a family outing to see the beloved children's film starring Ben Kingsley, Ghandi.  I enjoyed it.   My daughter's first movie and how it ended in tears after it finished and she told me, "That was my favoritist, favoritist movie ever.'  Oh yeah, the tears were mine. 


The stories go on and on and on.  I had trouble stopping here, but I will have mercy on you.  Movies have been a part of my life since as far back as I remember.  These short tales may sound like just another story, but to me they are just a few of those that shaped  my life and made me who I am.  So many people helped create these memories, from all different stages of my life.... all important.  Someday I may forget them which is why this one paragraph entry in the FilmSnork110 Journal has become the epic entry is now it.  I had a dream that my name would one day be synonymous with film and not just because of this blog.  Let it be known the dream still lives on.  It will never die.  Whenever I begin to lose focus of the dream I simply buy a ticket to my local cinema and am reminded all over again.

(03/23/2012) 
We are currently wrapping up the polling on actor or actress whom I will dedicate a full week of viewing films to.  I have to admit, I am not too excited about where it seems to be heading... a week of Ed Norton.  Don't get me wrong, I am a big Norton fan - have been since I saw his first major motion picture, "Primal Fear."  He came out of nowhere and made a great impact on me and most people that saw the film.  The problem is I have seen just about every single film he has done and the rest I have litte interest in.  There are not even any cheater films I can use, cameos or voice over work to pad my selections.  Based on the rules I placed have put upon myself for the FilmSnork110, I am allowed to only use 10 previously viewed films to fill out the 110.  So either it is time to sit down and watch a few films I have no interest in or take up the precious previously viewed slots of the challenge.  

I went through the rest of the nominees contributed by the site users... same problem.   John C. Reilly, Kevin Spacey,  Matt Damon - all the same problem, I have seen almost all their work.  Even Freddie Prinze Jr. (somebody's idea of a joke) is not an exception, I have seen them all.  I am not sure if I am supposed to be proud or ashamed of the fact.  Not just the Freddie Prinze admission, but the rest.  Seeing movies to me is like breathing-  it just comes natural.  The first question I ask people in conversation, "have you seen anything lately?'  No matter how many times I ask I am always thrown back when they tell me, nothing (and it is almost always nothing.)  Some people will say, "just fill in the blank," as if there is a film not worth discussing.  I usually get it out of them.  When, or better yet, IF people were to ask me that I have a list to offer.  This is not bragging.  Not sure if someone should be bragging that there life is consumed with anything, be it sports, drugs, video games, alcohol, etc... is it ever good to be that lopsided.  Sure, I have other interests, but nothing compares to film.  Maybe it is time to step away from it for awhile.  Maybe that is the greatest discovery of this whole challenge.   Maybe.

NAH.  The day I stop watching movies is the day I die.  Back to Ed Norton.  It looks like he will be the winner of the poll.  Somebody better call his manager and edit his IMDB page, this is an honor.  When he does win, I think I will have to re-visit Fight Club.   Although I have owned the DVD since its release years ago, I have not watched it since the theater.   Another victim of film is like wine approach to viewing (to be covered very soon on the site.)  I also plan to watch The Incredible Hulk again.  I know, not most people's first choice of Ed Norton films to watch, but for some reason it is the first film I thought of.  Beyond that my selections are two films I did not want to see and a direct-to-DVD film (and you know how those usually work out.)  

When I allowed users to pick an actor/actress I was expecting a John Wayne or Sam Jackson to be thrown in the mix - I could proabably fill a month with the films I have yet to see of theirs.  Oh well, you picked your poison.  Edward Norton it is.  At least it wasn't Freddie Prinze Jr.


(03/27/2012)
 For years we have trusted them.  They were the experts.  They had the knowledge.  They knew what was best for us.  They were the film critics.  And for years they mislead us.  The same people whose newspaper and magazine, website and television show reviews were used to shape our film viewing schedules were unknowingly (hopefully) using an inadequate system to deliver their message.  More specifically,  I am referring to the rating systems used to review films.  Are these actions malicious in nature?  I highly doubt so.  There are many ways to rate a film; numerical scores, letter grades, thumbs up or thumbs down to name a few.  The problem, only one rating system is the correct way to deliver a review; allowing universally interpreted rating and the proper increments needed to properly classify a film - providing potential film goers an easy way to filter through the numerous films on screen each week.  If you guessed the 10-point rating system (10 Stars) then pat yourself on the back - you are correct.   Let's take a look at some of the flawed rating systems.



The thumbs up/down is probably the best known of all rating systems.  It was created by an idol of mine, perhaps the best film critic of all time, of course I speak of Ben Lyons.  I kid, I kid.   I of course am referring to critic and TV icon, Roger Ebert.  Let me clarify, the Thumb System is an effective, straight forward way to rate film and can be quite helpful if, and it is a big IF, you have access to hear the argument supporting the thumb decision.  Otherwise, films are clumped into too few categories 2 thumbs up, 2 thumbs down, split decision, thumbs sideways, sitting there with your thumb up your ass, Tom Thumb, Thumbelina, etc.  It is too broad of a rating system.  How can you give the same exact rating (two-thumbs-up) to both The Godfather and the beloved Matrix Reloaded?  Maybe they did like both films, perhaps they loved the action or the effects, but one simply does not hold a candle to the other.   It is fine to give a thumbs up to any film you see fit, but to a novice film viewer it is a disservice.  If the options are between two identically rated films he/she may skip over an evening watching Michael, Veto, and Fredo, choosing instead to watch humping rave parties, albino twins and a Colonel Sanders looking dude in the inferior Matrix sequel.  Not very responsible film reviewing.  Sorry Rog, thumbs down to your system.  Without the show's review commentary it is too flawed to recommend.  On a side note, (I know it is sacrilege) I preferred the more recent variation - the See it, Skip it, Rent it system used on the show after Roger's exit - not perfect, but less room for interpretation.  FLAWED

Onto The Letter Grade System.  Seems like a fine choice... sure ON THE SURFACE.  Upon further review, the system is flawed and can be confusing.  The biggest problem is that the letter grading system differs country to country, state to state, school to school.  There is no universal letter grading system therefore a review is left for interpretation.  The system is also affected by the fact that we are all at varying levels of intelligence our grades in school probably reflected that.  Because of that the ratings are subjective.  If I was a D+ student I may be thrilled with a C/C+ rating.  This C+ review could mislead me and have me off and running to the theater to buy tickets for "John Carter."  Big mistake.  A straight A student may never consider watching any film rated below a B-, preventing them from enjoying just about every Adam Sandler film - oh wait maybe that is a plus.  The letter grades themselves may be objective, but how we interpret them certainly is not.  FLAWED+

The most commonly used rating system is also the most flawed one, the dreaded Four-Star Rating System  (commonly referred to in many professional film circles as the Very Super Shitty Film Rating System...That Stinks Too.)  I know, very technical terminology, but as always I will try to keep this simple to everyone can follow along.  The Four-Star Rating System simply lacks enough stars to properly distinguish between the good through fair films.  If a 4 star is excellent and 1 star is poor, what is a mediocre film's star rating, a film that is worthy of viewing, but not very good?  Two and a half stars?  That seems to be the standard which makes me question how a film that is only a half star better can get a glowing review - IT IS ONLY A HALF STAR DIFFERENCE.   One critic mentioned earlier gave a 3-star review to both Burt Reynold's family film, "Cop and a Half" and "The Matrix." Either Cop and a Half is extremely overrated, the guy loves Burt Reynolds or he did not have enough stars to properly review the film.  Having seen both of these films I can firmly say, both do not deserve the same grade.  The reviewer may have enjoyed Cop and a Half, but did not want to associate it with the other 2.5-star films since they are just above the recommendable bar, so he bumped it up to the 3 star review.  Unfortunately for The Matrix and any other film that deserves a higher rating, this devalues the 3-star rating.  More stars are needed to make the subtle distinction between the films.  A half star may seem like a minor adjustment, but it makes all the difference.  FLAWED BEYOND REPAIR

That brings us to a system that offers many more grading options, The 100-Star Ratings System.  Let me start by saying rating out of 100 stars is ridiculous.  Opting for a 100-star rating system that allows the use of half stars increments is just asinine and will never be mentioned againo n this website...until now.  Sorry, I just had to mention this.  I recently saw a site that reviewed films not only on a 100-point system, but broke it down to decimals.  Are you kidding me!?!  Do you hate yourself?  Do you hate your readers?   I believe the rating was 79.2.  Even if there was some sort of equation that was used to deliver such a specific rating, for categorizing purposes why not just round it up or down to the nearest integer.  To inflict pain like this on yourself makes me fear the reviewer suffers from some sort of psychosis.  It just cannot be natural.  It is not right.   FLAWED AND SCARY

Purists will say, "FilmSnork, the only true form of review is that with no stars or thumbs, a long form essay."  To that I say, horse puckey!  In the current day and age, a time where we need an app to solve every problem and make everything "easier," the odds of people reading entire reviews that do not contain a star rating are pretty slim.  In these times, too many people are now hooked on instant gratification - obtaining the answer without really knowing the question.  Readers want to get to the point - a recommendation - a simple yes or no.  It is disheartening to those that spend hours crafting the perfect, but most readers will bypass it all to get to the star-rating.  Live with it.  Other will avoid reading the review itself for fear of being influenced too much or having the film spoiled.  Without the star rating that long form review may as well be your social security number and detailed directions to the family treasure - most people are not reading it.  The most basic rule of film review: offer a Ten-Star-Rating or be ignored.  If you have read this rant to this point you are the exception to the rule.  Congrats.    FLAWED SOCIETY

In the case of the FilmSnork110 it was necessary to choose a rating system and since I was going to be reviewing such a vast number of movies in such a short period of time, I needed one without flaws.  Of course, I went with the best system for ratings film know to man The Ten-Star Rating System (aka the jacked up 5-star system.)  10 really comes into play when you get to the upper echelon of films and need to carefully assign a score - there are few 9 star reviews, fewer 9.5 star reviews and the vary rare 10 star reviews.  There MUST be a distinction between great films and the greatest films of all time - 10-Star allows for that.  The public MUST be given proper reviews.  Doggone-it! The flawed Four-Star Rating System (yuck) has those films all clumped into one rating 4 stars.  You "professional" film critics with your 4 stars, blah blah blah... and your Thumbs ups, whip those things out with such reckless abandon, sending trusting viewers out into the world of film to fend for themselves.  YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED! Your reviews are nothing less than a disservice to the public.  You... YOU...   Hold on.  Let me compose myself.  Sorry about the outburst.  I never came hear to brow beat anyone, but I snapped.   Where were we.  The 10-star rating system (when allowing use of half stars) allows reviewers to break down a rating into required increments needed to differentiate between a good film and a very good film, but does not provide too many options to drive the reader over the edge.  Not too few, not to many, just right.  THE PERFECTLY UNFLAWED RATING SYSTEM

The critics of the world are a gift to us all, combining their passion and knowledge to provide insight to the arts.  Now is the time they accept that they may have been using the improper rating system, take the hit to the ego and correct the issue.  It is a two step process: 1) a heartfelt apology to the readers, followed by 2) the simple task of reevaluating every single one of their film reviews and translating their review using the 10-Star-Rating System will suffice.  Roger, for you that would be somewhere in the range of 5-10K reviews... get busy.



(03/30/2012)
Watching movies is usually not as perplexing as this.  This last week of films had big name actors, director and buzz.  The issue was the only running theme I found was the fact they were all big letdowns.  "Cowboys and Aliens," (with Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Jon Favreau directing) "The Dilemma" (directed by Ron Howard, starring Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder,) and "The Resident" (starring Hilary Swank) and even "The Adventures of Tin Tin" (a Steven Spielberg film) have starred and even been directed by some of the biggest names in the business, several Academy Award winners - usually a great sign of things to come.  The problem, after viewing these films once I feel safe saying I do not think I will ever watch any of them again.  Not the reaction I was expecting to have.  Sure, they may be on TV as I fall asleep in a drunken stupor or on during a party as I sit around in a drunken stupor or playing at the old folks home I donate my time to as I sit around in a drunken stupor or at the... I think you get the point. When did Harrison Ford become a has been. He has been making great films for decades and suddenly he can't make a good film. Is it a curse put on him by a gypsy for making Sabrina? Let's face it, we are closing in on two decades of 'meh.' Hillary Swank has been a bust since Million Dollar Baby... sinking down to the level of acting in "New Year's Eve." That's pretty bad. Hilary, I know you started with "The Next Karate Kid," (which I actually liked, you can too if you get over the lack of Ralph Macchio) but, you also won some Oscars. Act like it.

Where have all the good times gone? There used to be a list of people you could count on to always provide quality entertainment. That list is shrinking. Even names as big as De Niro and Spielberg are in a rut. Spielberg has not made a very good film in, believe it or not, seven years. Has he lost his touch? Is he losing his instincts? De Niro is not as bad off, at least in years, but his lows are MUCH lower than Spielberg's. Seriously Bobby Dee, "New Year's Eve." Seriously??!? I do not want to even discuss "Little Fockers." It almost makes me tear up. I do not care how much money you can make on these shit films. YOU ARE ROBERT FOCKING De NIRO!! Stop it now.

It is just sad as you watch heroes fade or in some cases crash and burn. Hopefully we will see at least one more great film for all of the mentioned here and the dozens of others that can be put in the same category - if for no other reason, do it so I can cut down on the crying.


(04/02/2012)
As I write my reviews I often wonder who I am writing them for.  Am I writing them for other film fans that probably have already heard of the films I am reviewing?  Am I writing the reviews for the average film goer that may be unfamiliar with many of the films reviewed?   What are people expecting from the reviews?  Are they helpful?

My biggest hope is for my reviews to provide the reader with enough information to lead you to see a film or avoid a film  (both those films you have heard of and those you have not) but not too much detail to spoil the experience.  One rule I have imposed upon my reviews: absolutely NO spoilers.  It amazes me how professional critics will make reference to major plot twists or cameos or even a twist ending with no warning.  There have been reviews in the past that would say things like, "the film is great you'll love the big twist at the end, it's a shocker."  Yeah, really?!?!  Not anymore it is not.  Is that ever really necessary?  The same thing with cameos - "wait till you see xxxxxxx show up playing his dad."  How about shut your damn mouth and let your readers have the same joy of experiencing the moment for themselves.   Every detail noted in the review steals the chance for us to have the film revealed to us as the filmmaker intended.  If we are anticipating a twist then we watch the film different - playing the role of a detective looking for clues to what the twist will be.

If the film being reviewed is a classic film where just about everybody knows the ending, then, in some instances, it is alright to reveal some major plot points, but only if necessary to make a point.  In those situations I am still careful with my wording to keep the reader in the dark as much as possible.  If the film's hero surprisingly dies, there is no need to EVER announce it in a review.  NEVER EVER.  I would permit spoilers to be discussed in an essay that delves deeper to analyze a film or elements of a film - even then warning "spoilers ahead."  A review is a totally different story.  Reviews are often the first contact most people will have with a film besides with the viewing of the film itself.  Just because a critic has obviously seen the film, they should not act as if everyone else has.  

Another review element you will not find in FilmSnork reviews, full film recaps.  Some reviewers take a film review as an opportunity to give scene by scene breakdowns of the ENTIRE film.  Unnecessary and unwanted.  There is a reason we go to the movies to see a story unfold before our eyes on the big screen - not a recap.  If we wanted to read the story we would buy the book. 

Most people look to film reviews to provide one of two things a) direction to see or avoid a film b) if on the fence, then are they any elements of this film stand out enough to sway them.  I hope my reviews provide you with enough guidance to help you make that decision and perhaps provide a little bit of entertainment along the way.  If you know of a way I can improve them, please let me know. 

(04/06/2013)  It has been a while since I have taken the time to write down all the thoughts going through this head of mine.  Over the last year I have hit a major age milestone (if you believe in age,) been turned onto some exciting new adventures, started working toward a healthier me in hopes of extending this life long enough to enjoy copious amounts of film.  Over the last few weeks I had been completely film free.  Partially by choice, more realistically by necessity.  The time and focus have not been available for give any film the devoted attention it deserves.  If a few hundred (maybe thousand) people are going to spend years of their life to make a film then I am obliged to give it my undivided attention.   There has not been a day that has gone by which I did not yearn to watch a film, to write a review, to communicate with my audience... however big or small it is you are appreciated.  Now I have reached a point where I think my brain will allow me to return to film viewing,  unfortunately my available time outlook is not so positive.  Even so, I will be finding and making the time.  My movie marathons may be put on hold for the time being, but they too shall return.  Two days ago, Roger Ebert passed away after a battle with cancer - the guy lived film - it was amazing.  Sadly he dealt with the health issues he did, even so he lived a great life.  I look at him as a source of real inspiration.  If he could continue through multiple bouts with cancer, a half dozen surgeries (the latest which left him without a lower jaw - rendering unable to speak and eat) and he still returns back to his craft, then I can continue with this website even if my time is less plentiful than I would have like.  Expect more reviews to being soon.  How many?  That will be determined by how well I can juggle things.  Please, keep checkng back.  I'm not going anywhere.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

#FilmSnork110 The Reviews

Below you will find all 110 reviews associated with the FilmSnork110 -  110 Movies In 100 Days Challenge.   Enjoy and please let me know what you think of the reviews - agree or disagree, I can take it.

THE #FilmSnork110 REVIEWS
(1)  TheDescendents - The word that sticks out to me to describe this film is 'natural.' The way the complexity of life unfolds, the emotions portrayed and the acting of George Clooney. Some actors you watch actors, others disappear in their role and not in a pretentious "look at me I'm a serious actor" way, Clooney disappears. The film is at times devastating, hitting too close to home for me. Labeled a comedy, it is not the fun, quirky film some of the ads sell it as. It is a story about family told in a natural way never setting out to make you laugh or cry, but it may succeed at doing both. Shailene Woodley is excellent. 8.5 out of 10   (feb. 1st)
(2)  Warrior - Full of sports movie cliches, a fairly predictable story and yet somehow totally awesome. You read that right. Awesome. I never got into extreme fighting and still enjoyed this film. By focusing on the fighters and the people closest to them for the first half the film by the time you reach the fights you actually care. It is not a film about the sport it is a film about a family. Overcomes the cliches to become a surprisingly touching film. 8 out of 10.  (feb 1st)
(3)  A Better Life - Bichir is terrific as a father that is doing whatever he must to provide for his son, all while staying true to himself and his heritage. The film tackles issues of immigration and family in a familiar by-the-numeros yet respectable fashion. Its perspective is at time eye-opening when focusing on the condition of this nation's immigrants. 7 out 10  (feb 2nd)
(4)  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - #FilmSnork110 (4) - I did not like this movie. I felt the use of 9/11 as a plot device was disgusting, manipulative, crass, and cruel to anyone affected by the terrible event. So ten minutes I was already pretty fed up with the film and in the spirit of the lead character I decided to keep a list of just some of the elements that annoyed me. Most items on the list felt like a director's added touches meant to win some Oscars. Sorry, you don't even deserve nominations, let alone the trophy. If you do see the movie after this review, please print this out and keep score (even add to the list.)  Here is the list:
  • obnoxious child actor
  • list of lies
  • martial arts psych up
  • LeeLee Sobieski poetry/rant/freak out
  • running across a bridge screaming something over an over
  • the tambourine
  • "I wish it were you"
  • the gasmask
  • father/son oxymoron "fun"
  • 4.4 feet per second
  • no tears, just dripping snot noses
  • sweater vest
  • fun 9/11 pop-up books
There were actually a few quiet moments that worked well (of course as I was being manipulated by 9/11 footage, so maybe not) and showed what the film could have been. The vast majority just made me realize how I hate some people's ideas of parenting and the obnoxious bratty monsters (er...) children it produces. I hate pretentious filmmaking. I hate when people try to use other people's tragedy to make a buck. And I HATE, HATE, HATE that I paid ($10) for this film. I do like that I purposely bought a senior citizen ticket and that no one pays attention anymore so I saved a few bucks.   3.5 out of 10 stars      (feb 3rd)
 (5)  Kung Fu Panda 2 - Although it is not that fresh, it still provides its share of action, laughs and a couple of genuinely touching moments. The blatantly obvious sequel setup at the very end is off-putting. If you liked the original you'll like this. If you did not see the original, you may like this better.  7 out of 10  (feb 4th)
(6) The Help - Lightweight approach to the race issues in this country; at the same time is still able to work up the emotions through some great performances.  Fits in the same film vein somewhere between "Forrest Gump" and "Fried Green Tomatoes." 7.5 out of 10  (fen 5th)
(7) Moneyball - Offers a look at the world of baseball I only imagined before. Sometimes that inside look (fact or fiction) was more interesting than the story itself. The ninth inning of the film is where is falters - when the story of the man does not have his team to rely one. Sharply written dialogue. 7 out of 10.  (feb 6th)
(8)  Real Steel - How does one root for a robotic boxer? You don't. The combination of a moronic premise and plotting/characters that are just about as predictable as they come leads to a visually appealing film (both effects and actors) film that, like its robotic fighters, lacks heart. It is not a terrible film, just one you have seen too often to care - this time with robots.
I must not be the target audience; perhaps on the right day I would have enjoyed this more - today was not that day. I just found it tough develop any attachment to the cliche characters and even tougher to care about a giant, remote controlled robot. When Rocky was being beat down by Apollo you could not get out a wrench and fix him. See "Warrior" instead. 5 out of 10.  (feb 7th)
(9) The Artist -  Sure the novelty of a modern era silent film will draw in a certain audience, but it is the sweet core of this film and its genuine charm that has sold this picture.  9 out of 10  full review  (feb 8th)  
(10) Midnight In Paris - Allen at his best. Perfect for fans & non-fans. Charming, magical, sentimental, romantic, funny. Owen Wilson is a great fit for the Allenverse. At the very least this love letter to Paris will make you want hop a flight and walk the streets in the rain. 9 out of 10 (feb 9th)
(11) Puss In Boots - There are enough witty gags and clever cat references to keep adults interested - especially cat owners. Overall several times better than all the Shrek sequels which spawned this character. The story is a little thin for the 90 minute run time. Acceptable family fare. 6 out of 10. (feb 10th)
(12)  Ides Of March -  A political thriller full of fine performances from a high caliber cast. Regrettably, the are held back by a script that never kicks into high gear. Interesting, well made, just not all that memorable. 7 out of 10  (feb 11th)
(13) Rise of the Planet of the Apes - A prequel that would have been better off solely as a flashback in the inevitable sequel. Awkward plot structure, overly-long setup all leading to a relatively uneventful payoff. The trailer (and the name of the film) give away so much that the setup needed to be more creative than it was to be satisfying.   Instead we get a morality tale about treating caged animals better. The most bizarre part, the credits reveal the whole other half of the story. There's a lot of potential, poor execution ruined it. Don't be tricked by the effects. Here's the FilmSnork Litmus Test for film: if the same story cannot be told in an entertaining fashion by sock puppets then it is not a very good story. 5.5 out of 10 (feb 12th)
(14) WarHorse -  Is Spielbergification the new Disneyfication?  Taking a film and softening it then coating it with a sappy sweetness that may be movie magic to some, but others simply cannot stomach.   A technically wonderful film that only takes a few minutes of "Ah shucks Pop" dialogue to wear out its welcome. This film feels like it was from the 70's Disney era... not a bad thing if that is what you are expecting to see... I expected something a little more intense.   Pet Peeve alert: If you are going to have German soldiers speak let it be in German with subtitles, not English. What is this, It's a Small World War I?    6 out of 10.  (feb 13th)
(15) Beginners  - a quiet story about one man's discoveries about life and love; from his father's homosexual revelation and death to his struggles to connect anyone beside a dog. It is a little broad overall - it is not just cover one story, but rather one lifetime up until now. Good performances across the board. 7.5 out of 10. (feb 13th)
(16) To Hell And Back Again  - Documentary that uses cross cut editing to not only tell you the story of a soldier dealing with life after returning home severely injured during from war, but also the days in the field leading up and including the incident. Poignant. These men are out protecting the interests of our country. They may not agree with them and they still give it their all, sometimes literally. A reminder that these freedoms come at a price - not everyone will use their lives to protect them but we must use our votes, voices and money to stay free. It is the least we can do for these heroes. 8 out of 10 (feb 14th)
(17) If a Tree Falls -  Documentary tells the story of a man labeled an Eco-Terrorist. Not a very compelling film with a disjointed message. I think it goes something like this: Fight for what you believe in, but betray everyone once you get caught so you have less jail time. Some of the message is very important, but needs a better messenger. 6 out of 10 (feb 15th)
(18) There's Something Wrong with Aunt Diane - A horrifying account of an average mother that gets in a minivan and drives herself, her children and nieces down the wrong way of a highway; leading to a terrible crash and the death of eight. Toxicology reports reveal the equivalent of 10 drinks and pot in her system. She was not known to have more than the occasional drink. This is a sad, yet intriguing documentary that in the end seems to go nowhere. It is not an expose as much as it is a documentation of one family's denial of reality. Perhaps there is more to the story - perhaps not. The questions you have coming in with you will leave with. 7 out of 10  (feb 15th)
(19)  Birdemic - The cautionary tale of man’s effects on nature will scare you to your core when you realize you are not getting those 90 minutes of your life back. I have seen plenty of bad movies in my day, this may be the worst. Boasting special effects and dialogue that make Ed Wood look like Scorsese, this romantic thriller (as it has been categorized) lacks any romantic sparks and comes negative on the thrill-meter. Luckily for audiences, unintentional laughs are plentiful.

You will find it difficult not become engrossed sharply written dialogue such as, "Hi. The eagles killed our friends. Do you have a phone I can use to call the police?" Captivating stuff – all delivered with the all the on screen personality of an empty pizza box. The extended periods of silence, lengthy stretched of unnecessary dialogue, extended scenes of clapping and the slowest opening credit to ever hit the celluloid it seems as they may have been considering it "Stall: The Movie." As in, let’s stall this shit until something good happens. SPOILER: Nothing good happens.

This is the film you watch because you hate yourself. It provides some of the worst sets and by far the worst sound design I have ever witnessed in all my years of film watching. As for effects, prepare to be dazzled by the wizardry some guy that used his home computer, After Effects and a single shot of a bird flying to scare audiences across the globe. As a romantic thriller I give it a 1 out of 10. As a film you watch with your friends while downing a case of beer 9 out of 10.  (feb 16th)
(20) Bridesmaids - Had a good amount of laughs, still a bit of a letdown after all the hype. Not a letdown, Melissa McCarthy - even after seeing many of her work in advance, still funny. I do not think I was the target audience - I cannot fault a film for that. 7 out of 10 (feb 17th)
(21) BitchSlap - As obvious as its title, this sexploitation parody aimed the bar too low to take advantage of any potential it had. Tries to hard to be a so-bad-its-good film and turns out to just be bad. What you end up with is cross between "Sin City" and old late night Cinemax with too much plot. Plenty of violence, T&A, cheesy innuendos and bad green screen. Not exactly sure how this film ended up in my queue. 3.5 out of 10 (feb 18th)
(22) Horrible Bosses - Once the premise is revealed it seems to go into a holding pattern, finishing the rest of the film with funny yet stupid scenarios while not much happens. The film provides nothing too original and somehow feels older than it is. A better cast than the film deserves deliver laughs that would not come from a lesser cast.  6 out of 10  (feb 19th)
(23)  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo  - After reading the book and seeing the Swedish version of this film I was wondering how interested I would be watching a third variation of the same story in less than a year. It turns out I was very interested.  Fincher finds the right tone and maintains a great pace. Mara Rooney is great in her brooding, understated way - creepy looking, but great. I loved the opening credits, captured the right tone off the bat.  8 out of 10 (feb 20th) 
(24)  The Beaver  - This family drama has three things working against it: 1) its unfortunate title 2) it's about a stuffed beaver 3) many people despise Mel Gibson. Somewhat surprisingly it turned out to be a pretty good film.  Gibson's performance reminds you what we liked about him. The question on my mind, without his recent troubles would this have been an award winning performance? Not the light film you may be expecting from a beaver puppet film. 6.5 out of 10.  (feb 21)
(25) Being Elmo - A sweet documentary that tells the story of one man's dream to become a pro puppeteer and ultimately his creation of the puppet icon, Elmo. Great insight to the magic behind The Muppets and puppeteering. 7 out of 10  (feb 22)
(26) Tree of Life - A very unique film that tells uses the story of a family in the 50's to take on much loftier concepts. It is told in an unorthodox, experimental way - still finds a way to be touching. Not for all audiences. Beautifully shot. Proves avant-garde does not have to be a bad thing. 8 out of 10  (feb 23)
(27)  Saturday The 14th - I have wanted to see this film since I was a kid. I anticipated is cheesy send up of the slasher films of my youth (that sounded weird.) Instead what I witnessed was a mix of a community haunted house and a very bad episode of Scooby-Doo. A letdown 31 years in the making. 2 out of 10  (feb 24)
(28)  JoanRivers: A Piece Of Work - Was never a fan of Joan Rivers. After seeing this I still don't think I am. I do have a better understanding of her and the life of a comic as well. The film is insightful - Rivers' insecurities, flaws and troubles are all on display. Her fall out with Johnny Carson, husband's suicide and plastic surgery are all discussed with great candidness. 7.5 out of 10  (feb 25)
(29)  The Odd Couple - a slow start for modern tastes, but once it gets going there are plenty of laughs. Matthau/Lemmon are hilarious.  Timing and delivery are perfect.  Watching this will make you wonder if there will ever again be comedy teams that are actually funny, not just raunchy.  8 our of 10 (feb 26)
(30)  The Sure Thing  -  Unless you have never seen a rom-com before this film is beyond predictable - still charming.   The real treasures are the young #JohnCusack and its ability to serve as a time machine back to the #80s.   Also look for Boyd Gaines as the stuff shirt boyfriend, classically bad.  7 out of 10.  (feb 27)
(31)  A Prophet -  A French film about a young man's transformation as he rises through the hierarchy of prison.  What starts as the story of a victim becomes the fascinating tale of an opportunist.  Dark and violent.  Does not glorify prison, unless you like strip searches.  8 out of 10  (feb 28)
(32)  Thor  - Thor possesses a certain degree or realism that the rest of the superhero films of this year lacked. It did not play out like the typical guy-in-costume film (if that makes sense.) #CaptainAmerica seemed like a costume party. This is more in the vein of #IronMan even though it requires much more suspension of disbelief. Mixing in Natalie Portman to the mix helps as well - she has little to do, but she can't hurt a film. 7.5 out of 10  (feb 29)
(33)  Contagion - If you have #Purell on your desk you may think twice about watching this if you want to sleep again. Scary and realistic film about the response to a terrible pandemic.  Effective because tells stories of people and not just science.  othing is scarier than something that can really happen. Oddly it could be a followup for the most recent #PlanetoftheApes films. 8 out of 10  (Mar 1)
(34)  Paranormal Activity 3 - The weakest of the series because it make the fatal mistake of horror franchises, it explains too much. Still intense and had my heart racing at times. For the first time the series felt like a horror film, not just found footage.  6 out of 10  (Mar 2)
(35)  Another Earth - For a story about a duplicate earth in our atmosphere, it is not a story about that at all.   Instead, a quiet story about a woman living with regret, grief and attempts at redemption. Expect scifi and you will be disappointed.  7 out of 10  (Mar 3)
(36)  Bad Teacher - Simply put #CameronDiaz & #JustinTimberlake are not funny.  Add to that some tired humor, a poor attempt at being #BadSanta, unrealistic characters & you've got a stinker.  Its played too safe; if it was darker, dirtier or goofier you'd have a better film.  4.5 out of 10  (Mar 4)
 ROCK THE DOCS WEEK
(37)  Project Nim -  Story of a chimp experiment - taken from the mother at birth, raised by humans. Bizarre, intriguing, sad. The chimp's story is interesting, the people that surround it are often even more so. 8.5 out of 10 (from the director of Man on a Wire)    (Mar 5)

(38)  Pearl Jam Twenty - A flashback to the 90s that provides a history of #PearlJam.  You will not learn anything too insightful, but there are several good stories.  Like their music though, only the real fans will be captivated after their first couple albums. Real fans will love it.  Long live #MookieBlaylock  6.5 out of 10   (Mar 6)

(39)  Cave Of Forgotten Dreams - an amazing archeological discovery doesn't always make an amazing movie.  The find is incredible, but I got the point pretty early on.  The films was twice the length it needed to be.  Maybe if I saw it in 3D I would have been mesmerized instead of glazed eyed.  5 out of 10  (Mar 6)

(40)  Fright Night - From what I remember from the original this was supposed to be funny and scary.  It is neither. Nice to see #DoctorWho make an appearance.  It is a serviceable vampire story, it just happens to lack the suspense, laughs and chills needed to make it exceptional.  I enjoyed it much less than I could have.  Sorry to say, but Anton Yelchin is no William Ragsdale.  6 out of 10  (Mar 6)

(41)  Tabloid -  The sad, strange tale of Joyce McKinney, a beauty queen run amok straight to the front page of the tabloids.   Would probably play much better to a crowd that knew of her before this - with that said, its 88 minute running time is a little long for my liking.  She's a strange, strange cat.  6.5 out of 10  (Mar 7)

(42)  Every Little Step - Thanks @BenMank77 for suggesting this behind the scenes doc about performers auditioning for #aChorusLine. When I first saw the recommendation I thought, "really, Ben, really!?!" Gave it a chance and was captivated at the first minute all the way through the credits.  The stories of each of these artists fighting for their dreams release an array of emotion, at the same time can be both inspiring and sad - definitely easy to relate to.  They are not just the stories of dancers/actors/singers, but rather a metaphor for every man/woman that has a dream they want to fight for...that wants a place on the big stage. One of my favorite scenes has the father of one of the auditioners tells his story, "You never know what is the next day. Each night is opening night...but it also closing night."  If you are someone struggling to obtain your dream goals that is considering compromising you should watch this.  Surprisingly, one of my favorite docs ever.  Michael Bennett does Buffalo proud. 9 out of 10  (Mar 8)


(43)  Trollhunter - This documentary tracks the work of a professional Trollhunter in Norway. The footage compiled for the doc comes from video cassettes found in the area.  What amazes me is there has not been more, if any, media coverage of this story.  I was able to obtain this from Netflix so this is not underground, it is available for all to see.  The hunting of these beautiful creatures should be a concern to us all. As a film, the doc it holds its own even if it suffers from uneven pacing and tone. Informative pieces of rogue filmmaking are not unheard of.   personally was privy to view some shocking footage of a witch that killed some teens in Maryland (assuming that is the case - as of right now they are still declared missing,) and hours worth a a family that has be haunted by a poltergeist for several decades.  Shocking stuff, I know. Don't feel left out, some people are just important enough to be given access to these type of things; FilmSnorkjust happens to be one of them. I decided it was time to stop hiding these secrets - the world needs to know.

This doc did not put the fear into me that the witch/ghost doc were able to. I never noticed a heightened pulse or any sense of tension. Interesting, entertaining, informative - not scary. God bless the subjects of these tapes. May they be found safe and unharmed.  6.5 out of 10.  (Mar 9)



(44)  X-men: First Class  -  Now THAT is how you make an X-men film.  A franchise that has had two major missteps in a row comes back strong with a cast creates characters that are interesting enough to stave off the need for a never-ending onslaught of effects found in too many films in this genre. Not over-saturated with character; instead the film brings back some well known and a few lesser known characters that tells an origin story that is actually quite interesting since I do not know the X-men universe all that well. This is not nearly as intelligent as films like "The Dark Knight," but what it is I enjoyed.  8.0 out of 10  (Mar 10)

(45) My Week With Marilyn - A stellar performance by #MichelleWilliams is the main attraction in a rather uninteresting film. No new ground is traveled, the male lead is a bore and the 90+ minute running time is even too long for my taste. With that said Williams portrayal of Monroe is incredible because it is not just another imitation - it IS acting.  Not the typical "Happy Birthday Mr. President type performance.  5.5 out of 10.  (Mar 11)

(46)  Everything Must Go - An alcoholic, recently unemployed guy whose life that left him now living on his front lawn played by #WillFerrell - sounds hilarious, right?  It wasn't and I am glad for that.  Ferrell's Schtick can grow tiresome. His dramatic acting is surprisingly natural (check out Stranger Than Fiction.)  If you go in expecting a quiet, small story about a man in need of redemption instead of The Anchorman, you'll enjoy it. Rebecca Hall is great.  7 out of 10  (Mar 12)

(47)  The Hangover 2 - Have you ever laughed a joke as hard the second time you heard it?  That is what you are dealing with here, the same joke you enjoyed being told again with only a few minor adjustments and not nearly as successfully.  This is the MadLibs of film with a huge dose of sequelitis (i.e. popular minor characters returning with major roles, the rinse and repeat storyline, multiplication of quirky characteristics, unlikely return of majority of characters - some day soon I will write a column about sequelitis.  You'll see world, I'll do it.) Besides that it is often predictable, crass and just plain stupid.  I loved the first film - this was a chore to watch. They started a joke that got the whole world laughing, now I see that joke is on me (and anyone else that paid to see this mistake.)               4 out of 10  (Mar 13) 

(48)  Cedar Rapids -  A naive insurance salesman has his eyes open to the world while visiting the big city... Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It took a while for me to grasp the tone of this film; once I did it was quite enjoyable. John C. Reilly is great (check out the underrated #WalkHard .) 7 out of 10  (March 14)


(49)  Alice In Wonderland - Just about every frame of this film would make a beautiful painting. The visuals are absolutely gorgeous. As for the story, not as successful. It is a confusing, unengaging - there is so much going on at all times that none of it sticks. #TimBurton is one of my favorite directors. This is one of his weakest entries and it did not need to be - the source material is a classic. This is close, but just is not a recommendable film. A shame.  5 out of 10  (March 15)

(50)  Despicable  Me - Satisfying family entertainment. Offer some laughs for all ages, but may scare the littlest ones. I think the marketing that was a disservice as it focused almost solely on the little yellow sidekicks. The movie does not offer anything too original (seems like a mashup of Pixar films crossed with Looney Tunes) and is softer/sweeter than expected. 7 out of 10  (March 16)

(51)  Talhotblond - Doc about an internet relationship gone wrong. Loses steam early. Reaches a point where it seems lack anything new to say & runs in place. Not uninteresting, just bloated even with an miniscule 75 minute running time. Technique of posting the IMs on screen wears very thin quick. 4.5 out of 10.  (March 18)

(52)  Super - Another average guy becomes a "super" hero film that is more violent than it needs to be. Suffers in that it always feels like it too is playing pretend; never committing to the correct tone. Lack the fun needed to save it. Even Ellen Page couldn't help it... bad sign.  4.5 out of 10 (March 18)

(53) Win Win - The always dependable #PaulGiamatti comes through again in this indie dramedy about a father w/ money problems that takes in a troubled boy as part of a scheme to save his business. A hard film to explain, but an easy film to watch. A great cast deliver performances that do not feel forced or gimmicky. Does not try to hard to play on your emotions. Small and simple. 8 out of 10 (March 19)

(54, 55, 56)  Red Riding Trilogy  - A gritty, dark trilogy full of corruption, murder, coverups and mystery (set in England during the years 1974, 1980 & 1983.) Should be watched together for full effect since the three films have intertwining storylines. Kind of a cross between LA Confidential and Se7en although not as praiseworthy. Many familiar faces throughout. 8 out of 10 for the trilogy. Individually (1974) 7.5, (1980) 8.5, (1983) 7.5   (March 20, 21)

(57)  Lincoln Lawyer - Follows the standard courtroom drama formula with the expected, unexpected twists. Starts off on the right foot and then hits the almost laughable last third when the twists become outlandish and the tone changes, sinking a good start and some nice performances (surprisingly even by McConaughy). Marissa Tomei is wasted here. 6 out of 10  (March 22)

(58)  The Adventure of Tin Tin  (58) So much action that you never get a chance to breath or connect with the characters, therefore it is overall uninteresting. I can't say I was bored, just unengaged. The lead character is the least interesting on the screen - a huge problem when the entire franchise revolves around him. It tried to be Raiders of the Lost Ark, it's not even The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Between this and #WarHorse, has Spielberg nuked the fridge? 5 out of 10  (March 23)

(59)   Cowboys and Aliens - Indiana Jones and James Bond in one film, what can go wrong? Everything. There was a lot of buzz about this film. My first look at a trailer killed the buzz for me. The film never takes off...a dud from the opening scene. Someone forgot to tell Farveau that movies are supposed to be fun. The most fun part of the film is the clever title - beyond that it is a waste of an unique premise and a great cast.  4 out of 10  (March 24)

(60)  Our Idiot Brother - I was expecting a great indie feel and instead it was more like a formulaic Hollywood film - too many characters taking up screen time, everything wrapped up too neat and conveniently. Instead of fleshed out characters we get caricatures - a terrific cast wasted. Paul Rudd delivers, besides him there are few too many laughs. This should have been great, instead of a home run we get a weak double. 6 out of 10  (March 25)

DOUBLE FEATURE FROM HELL

(61)  Grownups - The most incredible part about this film is the fact that it cost $80 million. Yes, you read that right. EIGHTY-MILLION DOLLARS and not one laugh, not one shred of plot. The entire film is a long string un-liners (a term I coined because this film required something special to explain the terribly unfunny one-liners.) You can tell when Sandler wrote a film, because other than being shot on film stock they tend to completely lack any other film qualities. A painful mess to watch. 1.5 stars out of 10  (March 26)

AND

(62)  Just Go With It - The film actually has a little bit of plot and is somewhat watchable - a rave review for an Adam Sandler film. The discovery of any inkling of a plot sent me into research mode and as expected Adam Sandler was not a writer on the film. Makes sense. There are a few chuckle worthy jokes here. The film is ultimately too predictable and undermined by the film poison know as #NickSwardson with his third rate Sacha Baron Cohen impression - unbearably tough to watch. I am sure this film was far better than #JackandJill which I was also considering as the second feature of my Double Feature From Hell. Thanks for sparing me. Only in the movies would Jennifer Aniston and Brooklyn Decker be in an Adam Sandler love triangle. There is more slow motion shots of Brooklyn Decker than in Michael Bay film. 4.5 out of 10 (March 26)

(63)  The Resident - The most shocking thing about this thriller is 2-time Oscar winner #HillarySwank taking the paycheck. There is nothing about this film that has not been seen before. A woman moves into a new apartment and is unknowingly stalked. It lacks the tension to make it worth watching. I am a fan of Swank, not sure how her career has gotten to this.  A shame.  Probably a better film to watch with a group and laugh rather than looking to be scared.  4 out of 10 (March 27)

(64)  The Dilemma - A movie about infidelity is a tough act and surprisingly #RonHoward fails at it. The tone is so off that it is just not funny. Instead, it is makes for uncomfortable viewing. Another observation, Kevin James is not funny either. I never laugh at his brand of humor - he plays it in such an obvious, trying to please way that the humor is lost. There is a great cast (other than the aforementioned KJ) that is left struggling to try to jam together incorrect puzzle pieces. Vince Vaughn plays a variation of his typical character - someone needs to challenge him, I think he could do so much more. Not worth viewing even for fans of cast or director.  4 out of 10  (March 30) 

(65)  The Hunger Games - Read the full review here.  7 out of 10  (March 29)

(66)  I Am Number Four - Forgettable sci-fi flick that borrows a lot and offers nothing new. The hero, villains, storyline are all generic. It is as if the writers were told to cut the scripts the least interesting scenes and someone made a film out of them. Not bad, just definitely not good. 3.5 out of 10  (March 30)

(67)  Young Adult - A rather sad film that just happens to be a comedy. It about a woman #CharlizeTheron that returns to her small home town to relive her glory days. Her life is in need of some direction, but she is operating life without a map. The film has some laughs, but it is the cringe inducing moments define the film. Great performances by both Theron and #PattonOswalt. Theron's performance would have been the perfect fit for the recently reviewed #BadTeacher - it is genuine, brash and does not hide the ugly bits. Not much of a feel good movie, but one to watch. 8 out of 10.  (March 31)

(68)  In Time - aka #JustinTimberlake cannot carry a film. In a future where time is used as currency (the more time you have, the longer you live) I could not help but check my wrist several times to see how much time I had left. A brief summary: get time, almost run out of time, run, get more time just before you die, be preachy, almost run out of time, run... rinse and repeat. In the hands of the right writer, director and actors this could have been more than a waste of time.   3.5 out of 10  (April 1)

LOTS OF SUBTITLES WEEK

(69)  Memories Of Murder - Strange mix of genres that works. A series of rape/murders are investigated by inexperienced two cops that sort through numerous false leads. Slower paced and less direct than most serial murder films, this is a much different experience than a #SilenceOfTheLambs style thriller. To blend polar opposite genres and still keep the viewer consumed is a sign of good direction #Joon-huBong. Personally, I loved that in the middle of a scene out of nowhere one of the cops would fly across the table and kick the suspect in the head - you don't see that often.  8 out of 10  (April 2)

(70)  Mother - Another film that combines genres which usually do not mesh - murder mystery, comedy & drama. A mother uses everything in her means to clear her son of murder. Its style echoes that of the forementioned #MemoriesOfMurder (69) which I quickly found out was directed by the same director, #JoonhuBong. He has a great way of bookending his films that are effectively thought-provoking. Korean cinema is a great source of films if you have you have not delved into it. Offering some of the wildest films that provide unconventional stories and methods to tell them. 8 out of 10  (April 3)

(71) Sin Nombre - Violent, shocking film that will make you appreciate who and where you are. Follows a pair of young adults as they try to break free from their lives and make their way into the US. The girl that has recently reunited with her father, the young man is looking to break free from the vicious gang lifestyle. It feels authentic which makes the tale much more harrowing - this is life for many people. Scary stuff. The characters are not well developed, but in a film that's title translates to "The Nameless" I feel very deep characters would take away from the terror of the situations. 8 out of 10 (April 4)

(72) Battle Royale The film many credit as the inspiration for #TheHungerGames is often more effective than the blockbuster. It does not have the detailed world created in THG or a strong central character, but the deaths tend to carry more weight. The audience is given a chance to connect with the characters, although briefly. Most do not last on screen for more than few minutes, but I felt something unlike with the recent blockbuster. I guess that is what you get when you have the guts to focus the camera once in a while instead of swinging the it around like it is attached to a paddle ball to keep that PG-13 rating. A violent film that is not afraid to be what it is. If it was only deeper you probably would have heard of this before. Not for everybody. Oh yeah, and no unnecessary love triangle. Combine the films and you have a real winner. 7 out of 10. (April 5)

(73) Jesus Christ Superstar Perhaps I am a little bias on this since I loved the stage version, but I quite enjoyed it. It is schlocky and silly, just the way I like it. Captures the 70's in a way that today's youth may find almost alien. Whenever they attempt to recreate this era it comes across as stereotypical and staged. I can't help but think the entire cast and crew was some level of high while shooting this. If not, I'd be disappointed. 7.5 out of 10  (April 6)

(74) The Skin I Live In  A dark, twisty and twisted Frankenstein tale, this time the monster happens to be a gorgeous woman. A bit disjointed, almost like two films stitched together. Just when you think you know where it changes. It should keep your interest the whole way through, but something is missing. A lack of connection with any character makes it tough to for this film beauty to go beyond skin deep. 7 out of 10 (April 6)

(75) I Am Love  A peak behind the facade of a successful Italian family. The narrative can't support the entire film; even though there are some good moments it deteriorates during the second half. Definitely not a complete waste of time, you can watch the film for the exquisite art direction - shot after shot could easily be transformed into a beautiful painting. Rich colors and stunning settings. If you have not seen Tilda in "Julia" you are missing out a great, underrated thriller.    6 out of 10  (April 7)

(76) Broken Embraces  Interesting film that keeps you in the dark until the very end. When you get there the payoff is not all that worthy of the work taken to get there. My question, was it necessary to be as complex of a film? Was the broken timeline of the film simply done to make a rather simple film more interesting. It is entertaining, performances are very good - in the end not as satisfying as I had hoped. 7 out of 10 (April 8)

ED NORTON WEEK

(77)  Stone  Not the way I wanted to start off #EdNorton Week, with a highly forgettable drama that never gets out of first gear. Norton as an arsonist and DeNiro as a parole officer, sounds good, right? I thought so too. Sadly, there is not much to recommend here. Norton's accent may have worked in the past, but he is too recognizable now and the character is not developed enough to make you think, "hey it is Ed Norton with cornrows doing an accent." The film went direct-to-DVD - a bad sign. Another bad sign, Milla Jovovich. The film wants to be important, you may feel otherwise.  4 out of 10  (April 9)

(78) The Incredible Hulk  Upon 2nd viewing I did like this better than I originally did. The movies's rather stale first half and a one-dimensional villain hold it back. Although it turns out to be fun to watch an injection of some humor would have really helped. This may be sacriligious, but enough with the Stan Lee cameos - they were cool at first. 6.5 out of 10  (April 10)

(79) Pride and Glory  Another cop-family story that will feel completely familiar. For some reason though, I enjoyed it. A great cast of #EdNorton, #CollinFarrell and #NoahEmmerich are all overqualified for what they given to do here. It is a shame the story doesn't offer anything that has not been seen in just about every cop procedural, because the core was there. One unintentially humorous aspect is the stereotypical Irish pub that seems to only play the Irish drinking standards 24/7. Good stuff. I did enjoyed a nice display of fisticuffs. 6 out of 10 (April 11)

(80) Kingdom of Heaven  Remember for awhile after #LOTR that it seems just about every film had to have swords and massive battles...okay, not every film, there was #capote. Well, this is one of those films. There are great fights, but we have seen too many like them before to be interested. There's a hero. Did I mention it is Orlando Bloom? Not that interesting now, are you? It has everything, it is expensive, huge scale, epic and yet, boring. It wants to feel important, but to be important you have to hold our attention. Watched as part of #EdNorton Week, these is little to Ed Norton's character than a silver mask. 4.0 out of 10  (April 12)

(81) Fight Club  #DavidFincher and his team do some incredible work on this film. The production design alone is worth a viewing - add to that some stellar performances, a unique story and you have a winner. Its dark, violent, comic tone is one that I have seen copied, but never duplicated. It takes an artist to develop a style and embrace it in a way that it is not simply a bow on a present, but the present itself. Revisiting films can be like visiting with an old friend. Once you take the time to do it you question why you don't more often. Perhaps it is time you revisit this old friend.  9 out of 10 (April 13)

(82)  Melancholia  The film is almost dreamlike in its delivery the pacing, tone and imagery set the stage for a surreal film - half the life of a young bride dealing with depression, the other half the possible annihilation of earth by an approaching planet. Not your standard cineplex film. Opens with an incredible 9-minute sequence of imagery that is both beautiful and haunting, set to classical music. #Kirstendunst floats through the film like a directionless feather in the wind - and it kind of works. 7.5 out of 10  (April 14)

HELL IS WAR WEEK

(83) Come And See  a sobering film about a young boy's experiences following the Russian army during WWII. Has its fair share of horrifying images. Quite uncomfortable as we witness the loss of innocence as the biy transforms from a enthusiastic volunteer to brink of insanity. Not much fun. 7.5 out of 10.  (April 15)

(84) The Longest Day  What a cast!  #SeanConnery #JohnWayne Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Red Buttons, Robert Wagner, Paul Anka, Rod Steiger, Eddie Albert and plenty more are all part of this old school, large scale war film set during the events of D-Day. Tame by modern war film standards. This is the epitome of what I had always pictured when I envisioned a war film growing up. Not without it's faults, the film gains points for charm from what modern audiences may be construe as corniness. One of my favorite things is the way death is depicted. In modern films there is plenty of blood and often gore - not here. When a soldier is shot it is bloodless and they just throw their hands up and fall over dead. Classic. 8 out of 10 (April 16)

(85)  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol  #TomCruise is back w/ the help of #TheIncredibles director, #BradBird and a slick new cast.  Breathing lots of life into a franchise that looked to be ready for a reboot.  The action is quick, the stunts are incredible - to the point that I prefer not to know what was CGI and what was real, I'll just play naive. #PaulaPatton #JeremyRenner & #SimonPegg are all welcome additions to the cast.  8 out of 10  (April 17)

(86)  Gettysburg  Offering up more than just scenes of the battle, the real draw here is getting to listen in on the move by move strategies of both sides. #JeffDaniels proves again to be one of the most underrated actors out there. I have a personal connection (kind of) to this film. When it was released I was working as an usher in a theater at the mall.  For the opening of the film dozens of reenactors showed up in full uniform - geeky cool.  Would have been better if not held back by the restraints of being made with the intentions of airing on TV.  7 out of 10  (April 18)

(87) Hell Is For Heroes  Undermanned platoon must hold of the German army.  Does not romanticize the war or the soldiers. #SteveMcQueen does what McQueen does, plays the outsider. #BobNewhart, yes that Newhart, offers some unexpected comic relief - for a war film, hilarious stuff.  Much smaller scale than some war films.  Strangely abrupt ending yet effective ending. 7.5 out of 10 (April 19)

(88)  The Sitter  #JonahHill plays a babysitter that teaches the 3 oddball kids he is watching they are perfect being just who they are and learning a little bit about himself along the way... all while shitting rainbows. A wannabe comedy with artificial heart. Each character a stereotype, every situation phony - prevents any of the humor from working. The movie's so formulaic you can literally guess the fate of each character as they are introduced. This is the definition or lazy film making. 1.5 out of 10  (April 20)

(89) Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark  What kid would not run after hearing a voice from the furnace whispering, "come down, see what it's like down here,"? Or after finding a handful of teeth in that same furnace? Like comedy, horror needs to be based in reality otherwise it is not effective. This horror film was never engrossing, I always was aware I was watching a movie. If I cannot disconnect from that self-awareness than a horror film is not working. The film doesn't go dark enough to at least be gory and misses every opportunity to add the slightest humor, which may have really worked. Spoiler: the creatures look like wingless bats with Steve Buscemi heads - not as scary as it may sound. It saddens me to see #GuyPearce in mediocre films like this. May need to watch L.A. Confidential to build up my faith in cinema again. And #KatieHolms is here to make you question exactly how tough it is to get into actin, again. 2.5 out of 10 (April 20)


(90) Ip Man  A martial arts master comes into conflict with many that want to challenge his unique brand of Kung Fu. The fights are great to watch, but the surrounding story is too familiar for my taste. Interesting enough, but not unique. If you are a fan of martial arts go see it, otherwise flip a coin. 6 out of 10  (April 21)

(91)  Take Shelter  A man is either teetering on madness or is witnessing visions of upcoming destructions. The film is more than just a guessing game of are the visions real or not - it is about a man battling to keep his life and mind together. Does not rely on too many CGI effect or over the top score, just uses the fears most people share to escalate the power of the situation. #MichaelShannon is awesome as he does more acting with his eyes than some films have with all actors combined. 9 out of 10  (April 22)

(92)  Blue Valentine  A marriage on the rocks continues to disintegrate in this painful to watch examination of love gone sour. It feels like we are eavesdropping on the pair as they try to keep the relationship alive. How #MichelleWilliams and #RyanGoseling were not nominated for this is beyond me. Good acting is when you see real people you know on screen, not characters. Between this and #TakeShelter, great couple days for acting. The intercutting of present day and the passion of the first few months of the relationship is very effective. 8 out of 10  (April 23)

(93)  After The Wedding   It turns out I do have a soul. This film reveals its hand slowly. Instead of a simple story about a man trying to get funding for a foundation it evolves into several intertwining threads, creating the opportunity for some moments of raw emotion. The film possesses a certain level of realism not often seen; like in life, it take turns that you don't expect or have easy answers for. 7.5 out of 10  (April 24)

(94)  Martha Marcy May Marlene  A young lady attempting to reclaim her life struggles to move beyond her disturbing past. The film works as a portrait psychologically damaged girl. Has its share of confusion and terror. Fails to deliver a satisfying ending. I understand many films have ambiguous endings, but this film should have continued a little further before concluding. A great performance by an Olsen sister that never had to kiss Bob Saget (that we know of.)  7 out of 10 (April 24)

(95)  Troubled Water  Two perspectives of the same story of a man who is released after serving time for his involvement in the death of a child. Sounds like a ton of fun, right? It is a quiet film that examines how people deal with the tragic incident. Provides plenty to think about, but doesn't try to steer your emotions with a heavy score or over the top performances. The story is not easy to stomach, but is worth watching and discussing. 8 out of 10  (April 25)

(96)  Biutiful  A dreary story, a father dealing with his own mortality, is cluttered with too many storylines. The story thread that you will be most interested in does not get the proper amount of screentime. I wanted to be affected by the film, but was given too little connect with. Javier Bardem is great, just wasted. A good performance does not make a film. 5.5 out of 10. (April 26)

(97) Morning Glory  An ambitious young producer tries to revive a TV morning show, but does not have enough spunk to revive this film. Lacking the laughs and likeable characters needed for a successful comedy it shows signs of what it could have been if not for the miscasting of Harrison Ford. His ornery older man routine seems to be more of him playing himself than a character (based on recent interviews I have seen.) Not unwatchable, just not very good. 5.5 out of 10 (April 26)

(98) Hereafter  Three people with connections to death search for a way to continue living. The problem here is like the characters, the films seems to be lost and in search of something that it never finds. There are sentimental moments, but nothing that really drives it home as you would expect. Probably too low key of performances for its own good. All of three leads mope around from scene to scene making the audience feel just as directionless. 5.5 out of 10   (April 27)

(99) Meeks Cutoff   If you like films with little dialogue, little action and a ton of walking...this is for you. A band of travelers get lost while crossing the dessert leading to a lot of nothing. Not meritless, but definitely not a film for everybody. More of the experience of life in those times than a story. I did enjoy it, don't hate me if you don't. 6.5 out of 10  (April 28)

(100) Twelve  A portrait of a drug dealer & the rich, beautiful people his actions have an effect on. It is deja vu cinema, so much of it you will insist you have seen before. Even though it is weighed down by its spotty acting, predictability and a beyond obnoxious narrator, somehow, it is still better than I had expected. Perhaps the low expectations of the collaboration of Fifty Cent and Joel Schumacher worked in its favor. If you want to see a better film about drugs and/or youth check out "Go" or "Requiem for a Dream." 6 out of 10  (April 29)

(101)  Blindness  As the the world slips into global blindness. Plays well as a study on the animal instinct of man (kind of like a blind Lord of the Flies) but as and allegory it seems to unfocused. Some terrifying ideas, glumness replaces message. 6 out of 10.(April 30)

(102)  The Cabin in the Woods An innovative horror movie for people that feel all horror movies are the same.  Scary, funny, cool.  Read the full review here. (April 30)

(103)  Shane  A quiet drifter stays with a welcoming family that in turn may need his help to save their farm from some ruthless hired guns. A classic western - men in white hats, men in black hats faceoff in a battle of good and evil.  Something is a little strange about the realtionship with the drift, the boy and the wife...maybe you shouldn't trust a drifter.  8 out of 10  (May 1)

(104) The People vs George Lucas  If you were one of the many letdown by the #StarWars prequels then this film if for you.  Fans from across the globe explain why they feel George Lucas has gone to the darkside - from the otrocity known as Jar Jar Binks to the Greedo-Shoots-First movement, the tampering with the classic trilogy to the embarassing "Nooooooooooo" of Darth Vadar - it is all discussed.  Star Wars fans will enjoy the doc.  But even those that have not embraced the trilogy may enjoy watching the freak show that is geekdom.  It reminds you just how much fun the original trilogy was and how poorly Lucas has managed the franchise since then.  8 out of 10 if you know what a tauntaun is, 6 out of 10 if you don't.  (May 1)

(105) Das Boot  A claustrophobic experience of following a U-boat during WWII. It is a tense war film that mostly takes place in rooms not much larger than a kitchen. The film accomplishes an incredible feat, it has you rooting for the Germans, even knowing that they were the enemy. The crew transforms from being just the enemy to human beings you understand and empathize with. I have never been a huge fan of boats. After this I'm definitely not a fan of submarines.   8.5 out of 10    (May 2)

(106) Goodfellas  The gangster film of a new era. Separates itself through its rich characters, stylish delivery and pitch perfect soundtrack. Violent, explosive, consuming. Scorsese it a master craftsman at mixing technique, art and bloodshed. Pesci's performance is one that no one forgets for good reason. So many great scenes. Keep an eye on the bit players, many of them have taken off to be stars. 9.5 out of 10 (May 3)

(107) The Avengers  Joss Whedon supplies us with the best fast food superhero film, perhaps ever.  Full review here. (May 4)

(108) True Romance  An oddball falls for a prostitute and somehow ends up with a briefcase full of cocaine, leading to an adventure full of violence, sex, shart dialogue and unique characters. I started to think the film did not age well, but by then end I remembered what I loved about it. Some scenes probably would not make the final cut in this pc world. The one thing that does show its age is the soundtrack - someone should re-cut the film with better music. 8 out of 10  (May 5)

(109) King Kong  It is a classic but, not perfect. The island scenes are too plentiful and repetitive. How many creatures must we watch King Kong fight? The real attraction are the scenes that take place in Manhattan. Iconic. The effects are very impressive for the time period and breath life into what could have just been a horror story. The film has what perhaps may be my favorite closing line in any film. 8 out of 10 (May 6)

(110) We Bought A Zoo  Family film that has its charms even thought it does not deliver much more than the title states. Not challenging, predictable and safe. Still entertaining in a fairly wholesome way. Sure it is sappy at times, it is about a family that buys a zoo - what did you expect? When I first saw the trailer I questioned how they were able to wrangle the great leads. That is until I saw who directed it, #CameronCrowe. Not his best effort, not worthless either. 7 out of 10.  (May 7)

(111) Rear Window  Jimmy Stewart is penned up with a broken leg w/ nothing better to do than peep on his neighbors You know, good wholesome entertainment that is until he suspects he witnessed a murder. A suspenseful film that ranks as one of the best of all-time. 10 out of 10  (May 8)

(112) Mars Attacks  When aliens invade earth it is up to an assembly of A thru C list actors to save the world. There is something about this film that strikes the right chord with me.  It is funny when it needs to be and as bad as it wants to be. Tim Burton's most under-appreciated film.  I haven't watched it in years, but just days after watching it I would kind of like to watch it again.  8 out of 10  (May 9)

(113) The Godfather  What can be said about this film that hasn't already been said 1000 times?  Here's one, I don't run around with orange peels in my mouth chasing my kids for fear that my death will have great irony.   Great performances, great script.  Cinematic excellence.  10 out of 10. (May 9)

(114) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull  An Indiana Jone adventure that would have been better off not being made.  The film falls apart with the arrival of the Shia Labouf where the focus shifts to storylines that no Indy fan cared to see.  It has a terrible case of Sequelitis: the addition of a character(s) that weren't needed, but brought into fill the holes left by the absence of a previously loved character (the great Sean Connery,)  the unnecessary/unlikely return of characters in an attempt to revive some of the cinematic magic of previous outings.  It is tolerable until the moment the title location is found, then we have a true debacle - truly terrible.  With so many Indy-esque movies and videogames this just seems forgettable.  The saddest thing is the most memorable scenes are remembered mostly because people hate them.  If you want to enjoy the film it is simple: watch until the famous nuke-the-fridge scene, upon the detonation of the atom bomb turn off the TV and pretend Indy dies.  Hum theme song and smile.  5 out of 10.



If you want to read more about the FilmSnork110 check out the journals, found here.