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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Haiku Review: ‘Inglourious Basterds’

April 3, 2011

I promised myself that I’d one day get around to reviewing this movie (for whose benefit I DON’T KNOW) and now, nearly two years worth of days later, that time has come. My parents could have had no idea how much I’d take the term “late bloomer” to heart.

Mature filmmaking
In just 9-10 perfect scenes.
(With room for scalping!)

Way back in 2009 I said, when it might have been a timely claim, that Up was the best movie of the summer. This was before I caught Inglourious Basterds, which turned out in fact to be the best movie…wait for it…of the YEAR. I’d by lying to say that I was eagerly awaiting this one’s release. Based on the trailer — which heavily emphasizes the QUENTIN TARANTINO-NESS of it all — and also the simple fact that this was a revenge movie about scalping Nazis, I thought it might be at most fun, and at worst Kill Bill with swastikas. Suffice it to say Basterds turned out to be a wildly different movie than the one I (and probably a lot of people) was expecting, and definitely for the better. In place of what most of us assumed would be a patchwork homage to old war movies and spaghetti westerns was instead a deeply original, thoughtful film. One that, while still embracing QT’s beloved hyper-violence, transcends its premise — and maybe its promise — to become a genuine classic.

Keep reading!

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Haiku Review: ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1’

March 31, 2011

Four months. Sue me.

Running, tears, Nick Drake.
Magical teens meet Zach Braff?
I mean, it’s still good.

With very nearly the same beat-for-beat literary evolution of the books, the Harry Potter film series has grown from mildly diverting popular entertainment in its earlier entries to thoughtful, sometimes challenging CINEMA as we near the end. The acting improvements alone are worth a full navel-gazing essay, but the changing color palettes, source material revisions, butterbeer references — it’s a series that’s come into its own in all the right ways, and ten years from the starting line is no longer that far from Lord of the Rings in quality. #5, Order of the Phoenix, remains unquestionably (unquestionably means “this is the right answer,” Alfonso Cuaron fans) the best of the bunch but with the release of Deathly Hallows, Part 1…it may have found some competition.

Accio Review or whatever!

Haiku Review: ‘Toy Story 3’

August 31, 2010

In one week we’ve managed to cut our lag time from three down to TWO MONTHS. Imagine what we might do next week!

You’ll love this movie
Unless you’re, like, a Nazi
…You’re not a Nazi?

Rotten Tomatoes may be to Metacritic what MySpace is to Facebook (does an analogy still work when none of the items is tangible and all are pointless?), but it’s worth noting when a movie has achieved 99% “Freshness” and certified crazypants Armond White is the only one offering a bad review. If you can’t tell by the title of this post (or the picture to the left with the toys and the giant yellow “3”), Toy Story 3 is that movie. Fifteen years after the release of the first Toy Story and the dawn, really, of the CG animation era, Pixar has once again created a film that manages to be both technically impressive and emotionally satisfying at the same time. In about five minutes it puts to shame every animated (and most non-animated) sequels ever made. It’s a part three that was never really called for but perhaps most remarkably…makes you feel it needed to be made.

To infinity and beyond (the jump for the rest of the review)!

Haiku Review: ‘Iron Man 2’

August 25, 2010

Some might say that three months is too long to wait to review a movie. Of course some people don’t have the foresight to consider that eventually that movie will be released on DVD, and people will NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH. We are never not looking out for you at Lifting Fog.

Iron Man was fun
Iron Man 2 is less fun
(Too many robots)

It is one of the great truths of Hollywood that barring some fortuitous circumstance — as in the involvement of Francis Ford Coppola, Pixar, or Boba Fett — a sequel will never quite live up to its predecessor’s mantle. Stuff it full of name actors and spike the budget all you want — it doesn’t change the fact that things are different this time around and the chances of recapturing the magic of the original are slim. Which is not to say that this sequel will always be BAD or POINTLESS, just that there is a reason “2” follows “1” in any sort of medal ceremony: not quite good enough. And so it goes with Iron Man 2.

Keep reading about how this movie does not live up to expectations!

Haiku Review: ‘Up in the Air’

May 17, 2010

No sooner do we get (back) to reviewing this year’s Oscar crop than we find ourselves staring down the barrel of the NEXT movie season. ‘Iron Man 2’? ‘Just Wright’? Already?!? WE NEED MORE TIME!! (Just…humor us.)

An actors’ movie
At once breezy, heavy, and
Filled with Clooney smirks

Once upon a time in a land called Who Cares?, Up in the Air was the movie to beat at this year’s Academy Awards. It was an adult comedic drama overloaded with the kind of stuff you roll your eyes at it sounds so blatantly false: a “timely, buoyant script”; “energetic performances”; a de-Juno-fied Jason Reitman. (Not to mention a feature article in American Way magazine, the premiere periodical of the skies!) Basically a movie just waiting for its Oscar night coronation, when it would waltz past James Cameron and Gabourey Sidibe en route to a tidy gold statue cleanup.

But anyone who remembers Sideways‘ Oscar luck in 2005 knows that we don’t live in Who Cares?, we live in FANTASYLAND. And Up in the Air, despite meeting — and exceeding, in my opinion — all pre-release expectations rises from the dusty cinematic battlefield of late 2009 as just another also-ran. A near-flawless, unfairly snubbed also-ran.

We straight TELL IT after the jump.

Haiku Review: ‘Avatar’

April 26, 2010

Lifting Fog continues its (belated) Academy Awards countdown roundup today with a review of another Best Picture nominee (…loser): HMFIC James Cameron’s ‘Avatar.’ “We see you,” jerks!

Story? …Just enough.
But who cares! Special effects
Will make you shit bricks

and
So is it Star Wars
For a new generation?
I mean kind of, but…

Say what you will about G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but 2009 was a pretty great year for movies. And across the board, too: boundary-pushing sci-fi in District 9; the (hilarious!) revisionist history of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. The Hurt Locker, Precious, Watchmen, Up. (500) DAYS OF SUMMER?!? Really just one of the more thoroughly satisfying — and amazingly diverse — array of films assembled in recent memory. We’re spoiled. But one movie unquestionably stands out even in that accomplished crowd, a movie that pushed the technological edge of filmmaking farther than it’s ever gone and silenced critics (…including me) who had written it off as “that Ferngully sequel” months before its release. The movie in question, of course, is Avatar, directed by a guy so ego-maniacal even his baseball cap seems to YELL at you. And while the story isn’t much, there’s no denying one thing: it sure looks great in blue.

Now hop into that Avatar-linking neuro-chamber and let’s GO.

Haiku Review: ‘The Hurt Locker’

February 25, 2010

No apologies this time — that is SO 2009 — but we’re about a week away from this year’s Academy Awards and waaaayyy behind in our reviews. In the pipeline are ‘Avatar,’ ‘Inglourious Basterds,’ ‘Up in the Air,’ and… ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,’ but first we’ve got some things to say about the best-yet movie about the Iraq War, ‘The Hurt Locker,’ Bombs away!

A war movie that
Isn’t POLITICAL or
IMPORTANT. Just great.

or
Hitchcock-like tension
Except in place of psychos
You’ve got f**king bombs

At next Sunday’s Oscars, the fight for Best Picture and Director will come down to two movies — The Hurt Locker and Avatar — directed by two people who were once married. The former Mrs. James Cameron made a tense war movie brimming with authenticity; Mr. Kathryn Bigelow used 3-D cameras to tell a story about giant blue cats. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is all about inclusion this year in a BIG WAY. But if they’re separated by subject and budget (and by law), the two movies are united in their creative accomplishments: Avatar, for pushing the boundaries of film and galvanizing a relatively new technological movement; and The Hurt Locker, for finally “cracking” the Iraq War by telling a story whose focus isn’t squarely political. They are both winners in my book!

And so are you, if you keep reading!

Haiku Review: ‘(500) Days of Summer’

October 14, 2009

Holy smokes! Summer 2009 has officially been over for ALMOST A MONTH NOW and we’ve still got six reviews backed up, their window of relevance rapidly drawing to a close. So without further ado, let’s start with the most aptly titled entry: ‘(500) Days of Summer.’ Kleenexes at the ready!

five_hundred_days_of_summer_xlgYou know those movies?
Like, “This one was made for me”?
…They read my diary.

When we decide to catch a movie, it’s for any number of reasons. Sometimes we want to see something we’ve never seen before. Or we want to escape the mostly boring lives we lead. Occasionally we might watch something hoping it’ll lend us an air of sophistication (“I didn’t even notice the subtitles!”) or a conversational in at the water-cooler (“I saw Juno TOO, dude!”). We’ve all got our terrible, terrible motives. Ultimately, though, the biggest draw of any movie — and any creative work, really — is the hope that we’ll see something that reflects our own lives. To know that someone out there has experienced what we’ve experienced, or felt what we’ve felt. As cliche and emo as it sounds…to know we’re not alone.

Yup, it’s one of THOSE days. Keep reading?

Haiku Review: ‘District 9’

August 25, 2009

Did you see ‘District 9’? Of course you did. You didn’t? WHAT?!? Time to rectify that, starting with a…well, not TOO late review of the summer’s second best* movie. Go, baby, go!

hr_District_9_posterDrama? Sci-Fi? Whuh?
A film about prejudice
And blowing shit up

The first thing you need to know about District 9 is that it’s difficult to explain with any real clarity. The alien part isn’t complicated — seemingly stranded extraterrestrial lifeforms land in Johannesburg and, without anywhere to go, are shepherded into a slum that becomes the titular District 9. There’s alien decay and alien customs and alien lightning-shooting weapons. Awesome! But then there’s the documentary-style footage woven in with “is it real?” ease. The not-so-subtle social/political themes. Plus buddy comedy moments? And real drama? This movie is a functioning schizophrenic, deftly maneuvering between tones and tropes in a way even Kanye West would find sort of remarkable. It is a hybrid that never runs out of gas.

I am telling you this movie is a Prius. What? Keep reading!

Oh Woe is ‘Brüno’

July 13, 2009

Unlike most movies I’ve had the pleasure of viewing this summer, I absorbed Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest opus in a relatively empty theater with family instead of friends. In this sense, the mood may not have been right for me to appreciate the follow up to Cohen’s wildly successful feature length debut, Borat. I was fully aware that the type of shock and awe Brüno was capable of delivering should ideally be experienced with a large, packed theater where the awkward moments in between graphic dildo-based jokes would not seem quite as awkward. Instead, I took in the film with about 20 other people in the middle of the day in an empty theater in an area where the USA hats and t-shirts worn by Brüno’s victims hit closer to home than some other places in America. Consider that my disclaimer.

You’ve been warned. Continue?