Archive for the ‘ Award winners ’ Category

The Instant Critic travels to Dirt

Greetings, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, the poorly done Limitless caught our attention.

This week, we head into the world of computer animation to take a look at a Johnny Depp-led feature!

RANGO (PG, 107 minutes – features the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, Ned Beatty and Bill Nighy)

After years at sea with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, director Gore Verbinski successfully ventured into the world of computer animation with the brilliantly madcap Rango.

The story is as ingenious as they come. After being stranded in the desert, Rango the lizard (Depp) comes across the town of Dirt, a miniature Dodge City filled to the brim with stock Western characters. After the town’s water supply goes missing, Rango falsely dons the persona of a gung-ho sheriff and leads the townsfolk on a quest to find the culprit.

The vibrant animation pops out of the screen, as do the zany cast of critters. The screenplay thrives on originality, offering a wondrous alternative the typical theatrical fare.

Depp’s voice work on the character shines, though. He and Verbinski are always such an effective duo.

The film qualifies as a rarity – a zany, sharp excursion into sheer creativity. This film deserves your immediate attention.

If you are feeling like the silver screen would be more satisfying than the one on your computer this weekend, I wholeheartedly recommend The Hunger Games. I’m sure I don’t have to do too much persuading on that front.

The film Undefeated, a documentary filmed in Tennessee, focuses on a Memphis high school football team looking to win its first playoff game. The film compels and moves in a way that stands unique. If you are through with the Districts for now, I hope you give this powerful documentary a try. The film is currently showing at the Green Hills 16.

What say you? Do you prefer watching a movie in the theater compared to your computer? Let us know in the comment section.

Next week, we will wrap things up with the final post of the semester.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movie wonderful.

The Instant Critic

Watch the Mane Attraction: Reviews of Secretariat and High Noon

Welcome back, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, I offered insight on two of the finest films on Netflix.

This week, we’re headed to the stables to take a look at movies featuring everyone’s second favorite four-legged animal, the horse. By request, I’ll offer some thoughts on Disney’s Secretariat. Also, I’ll take a look at the Gary Cooper classic High Noon.

SECRETARIAT (PG, 123 minutes – featuring Diane Lane, John Malkovich and Fred Dalton Thompson)

When I think about Secretariat, I can’t help but remember the stunning horse-racing sequences. No matter the medium, a good horse race will always catch my attention. The filmmakers should be thankful for the fact that these scenes worked. When I say thankful, I mean thankful.

Without the horse racing, Secretariat amounts to nothing more than the typical melodrama found on the Hallmark Channel. I found some merit with the performances, but the film struggles early on to find its narrative footing. Is this truly a story worth telling? The last 45 minutes seem to indicate so. If you can stomach a little Disney-approved inspiration alongside a slightly overlong runtime, this film warrants a viewing.

Now, let’s look at a film where the horses serve as transportation instead of entertainment.

HIGH NOON (NR*, 84 minutes – featuring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Lloyd Bridges)

High Noon refuses to go down in history as anything else but a classic Western. Two-time Academy Award winner Gary Cooper, unarguably one of the greatest actors of all time, gives a demanding performance as Will Kane, a retiring Marshal who must garner courage to face an old enemy. Director Fred Zinnemann gives Cooper the perfect stage – a world where Kane, forsaken of all help, must solemnly walk alone into his possible doom. It’s a striking portrayal of true, unflinching grit in the face of evil.

Despite the high quality of the work, some viewers might be afraid to watch an entire film in black-and-white.

Please don’t let the cinematography turn you away. Titles like High Noon set out the blueprints for the films we love today. If you want to see where modern-day adventure and drama gained inspiration, watch the classics. It doesn’t hurt that they’re also fantastic films.

High Noon really is something special, largely in part to Cooper’s portrayal of a truly courageous individual. If you love a good Western, here’s your movie.

And if the theme song doesn’t get stuck in your head, I don’t know what will.

*I would equate this film to about a PG rating. There’s a little violence, but that’s about it.

So, what do you think?

Am I being too hard on Secretariat? Are you affected by black-and-white cinematography? Does it really matter to you? Let me know in the comments section.

For next week, I’ve offered a poll to see which genre I should focus on. Be sure to cast your vote!

As always, if you’d like to see a certain movie reviewed, let me know. I’ll feature it with next week’s post.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies wonderful.

The Instant Critic

Hold the phone: The two must-watch movies currently on Netflix Instant.

If you have a Netflix subscription, I’m about to give you some of the best advice you’re likely to hear all day long.

Here are the two movies currently streaming on Netflix Instant that are, in my opinion, required viewing.

  • The Iron Giant (PG, 86 minutes – featuring the voices of Eli Marienthal, Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., Christopher McDonald and Vin Diesel)

For his first animated feature, Brad Bird (best known for his directorial work on The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and last December’s blockbuster sequel Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol)  helmed this whimsical-yet-poignant tale about a boy and his gigantic robot. I’ve always had a soft spot for the “boy and his dog” genre, but to me, The Iron Giant does it better than most. Before I get overly sentimental, not many films have impacted me the way The Iron Giant has. By providing a Cold War era small town backdrop, the film brilliantly infuses the time’s paranoia of the unknown with its tried-and-true plot-line in a way that naturally strikes your emotions. The Iron Giant captures childhood innocence and wonder to a degree of rare beauty.

  •  Toy Story 3* (G, 102 minutes – featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen)

Another animated title? Say it ain’t so! Well, if you have any vague idea about the Toy Story series, you’ll know what I mean. I’ve talked extensively about this gem on various platforms over the past year and a half or so, so forgive me for keeping this brief. Toy Story 3 is a near-perfect film. It’s a film that has received critical acclaim in a way that not many titles have. It’s the perfect ending (?) to one of the best franchises of all time.

*The film was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 2011. 

There are plenty of other fine films available on Instant that I’ll cover in later weeks, but for now, here are the two I can’t recommend enough.

So, what do you think? Have you seen either of these films?  Do you wish to agree or disagree? Leave a reply, and let’s get a discussion going.

Also, do you have a film that you would like to see reviewed that’s currently on Netflix Instant? Leave a comment and let me know. I’ll feature it with next week’s post.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies wonderful.

The Instant Critic