Oz the Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer (Flick’s Double Review)

Posted on | March 15, 2013 | 1 Comment

On March 1st, Jack the Giant Slayer, a Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men, X2, Superman Returns) directed fantasy, hit theaters. On March 8th, Oz the Great and Powerful, a Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, The Spider-Man Trilogy) film, hit theaters. Instead of reviewing one at a time, I’ve decided to do a double review because both of the films have a few things in common. The question? Who succeeded: Singer or Raimi? Which film is the m0re enjoyable March blockbuster? Read on to find out which film is this month’s better film. First? Up the beanstalk we go!

Jack the Giant Slayer

3 1/2 stars

Jack, “a simple farm boy”, receives some magic beans from a monk and after getting them wet, beanstalks are grown…And giants are reborn. He embarks on a journey to save a princess, show his courage, and battle some massive meanies.

I was expecting little. I got more than I bargained for. To tell you the truth, I bargained for almost nothing. But, what I got was an entertaining film, flawed, yes, but still enjoyable enough to last most of it’s 115 minute running time. I’ll begin with the actors.

Many critics disliked Nicholas Hoult who has the lead role as Jack. Personally, I didn’t adore him, but I found he was…Let’s just say he’s better than James Franco. Eleanor Tomlinson is just okay, so is Stanley Tucci as buck-toothed villain, Roderick. But the best work comes from Ewan McGregor as the dashing Elmont. He displays what the film could have used a little more of: cleverness.

The effects? The giants are superbly animated and they look as disgusting and gruesome as intended on the big screen. Plus, the beanstalk’s writhing madness is a joy to watch. There are also some grand-scale action scenes that, if long, are fun.

The 3-D is not worth wasting your money on. There are under five pop-out moments that catch your attention. The best being when a giant barrels through a stone floor and when beanstalks grow into your face.

I’ve discussed the pleasures, but it’s not all great. Too many jokes fall flat. Too many battles drag. Too many characters die without any heartfelt emotions. (It does become a “Let’s pluck ’em off one by one!” type thing after a while, so couldn’t they have done it in a meaningful way?) One moment there’s a booger joke, the next a gross-out eyeball squishing. Who is this for? That’s what Singer should’ve decided before tackling the giants. Maybe next time.

My favorite character is Elmont because of his ’30s type action heroes qualities. His charisma and humor drags the film along when it starts to lag from an overlong fight.

My favorite scene is when Jack and Isabelle are hiding from the giant, General Fallon, because if the rest of the film’s action was as uniquely staged, this would have been all of the more worthwhile. This is the kind of scene the film needed!

Jack the Giant Slayer is rated PG-13 and I agree. There are some scary moments that could give little kiddies nightmares. But, there are also the rude humor gags that’ll keep the giggles flowing.

A good bit of amusement, yet lacking real substance. Not enough to last generations of enduring fans.

Oz the Great and Powerful

4 stars

How did the Wonderful Wizard of Oz become, well, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz? After being wiped into the cyclone, Oz finds himself in a land named Oz. He encounters three witches and learns that before he can become the wizard, he must kill the wicked witch.

Wow. Similar to Jack the Giant Slayer, I wasn’t expecting much, but I got quite a bit. Sam Raimi did a fine job with Spider-Man and a great job with Spider-Man 2. But after Spider-Man 3, I wasn’t so pumped for his next venture, let alone a stab at re-imagining the world before the classic The Wizard of Oz. Yet here is an adventure that is fun, yet filled with thrills and an abundance of chills.

After a very enjoyable title credit sequence, I was excited. After the twenty minute B&W beginning, I was ready for it. After a fantastical first meeting in Oz, I was thrilled. The film continues to throw dazzling CG wonder after dazzling CG wonder. There is also real emotion; one scene that introduces China Girl, a young doll, who has been, as not not to give it away I’ll paraphrase, hurt. Raimi doesn’t throw in an action scene right away, to rush the scene off and keep the kids satisfied, he slowly paces a heartfelt moment.

The acting is very good from all three witches. Of course, we know which two will die, but there’s still fun to be had with their delightful acting. Michelle Williams is Glinda and she includes all of the likable qualities that are required for the part. Mila Kunis is Theodora. (I have to be careful now because I’m treading on spoiler water.) The character is much more interesting than first meets the eye: she starts off dancing with Oz and then…GO WATCH THE MOVIE!!! Rachel Weisz is Eveanora, another witch that is sooo very much more fascinating than you might first suspect. It’s not just the characters though, it’s the actresses. Even Mila Kunis who had been in a bunch of raunchy blockbusters before this, is great. Zach Braff is also funny as the voice of Finley, a nice flying monkey. (Don’t panic: there are plenty of vicious baboons!) But guess who’s not so memorable?

Franco. After the Oscars, there wasn’t much hope for him. But, in the back of my mind I kept hoping that maybe because he was working with his Spider Man Trilogy director, some magic would be conjured. Alas, no. He falls short in many emotional scenes when the heavy burden of the entire film is on him. Joey King is fine as China Girl, the animated doll, but whenever her sassiness was supposed to be funny, she fell flat.

The movie, amazingly still worked for me. And trust me, you won’t mind swirling into the cyclone one more time with a talented director like Raimi at the helm.

My favorite character is Eveanora because I think Weisz was the best actor in the film. She captured the many sides of her witch.

My favorite scene is when Oz crashes into Oz because the visuals are so amazing. It’s a great way to be reintroduced, after being away from the land for seventy-four years.

Oz the Great and Powerful is rated PG and I agree. There are some scary endings to a few characters, but if you can watch the original, this isn’t too much worse.

Action, emotion, wonderful witches. It’s all there and it’s all so good. If you get past Franco, you’re in for a good ride.

The Winner: Oz the Great and Powerful

Coming Soon: Fantasy Double-Feature Review

Posted on | March 9, 2013 | Add Comments

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

Flick and Flack are busy at the movies. A recent attempt has been made by studios to blockbusterize gentle fairy tales. The pinnacle of this was the first attempt: Alice in Wonderland. Do the two latest cash ins (or are they masterpieces?), Jack the Giant Slayer and Oz: The Great and Powerful, earn their grand scale? Flick and Flack will each be posting their own articles critiquing both films. Expect the posts next week…but first we’re off to see the movies!!! La, la, la, la!!!

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | December 28, 2012 | Add Comments

Bilbo Baggins and some dwarves in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

3 1/2 Stars

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey tells the beginning of Bilbo Baggin’s epic adventure. Bilbo lives a comfortable yet uneventful life in Bag End. But when Gandalf the Grey, a tall and powerful wizard, comes to persuade Bilbo to go on an adventure, things get complicated. 13 dwarves arrive at Bilbo’s house, eat all his food, and ruin certain parts of his home. Eventually Bilbo decides to go along with Gandalf and the dwarves. But what is this adventure, exactly? It’s a quest to reclaim the dwarves’ castle. Invaded many years ago by a dragon named Smaug, their home is filled with treasure! In an attempt to reclaim what is rightfully theirs’, Bilbo, and Gandalf face treacherous obstacles along the way during the first segment of (for Bilbo, at least) an unexpected journey…

I will start this review off by saying that I have read the book The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, but have not read The Lord of the Rings books or seen The Lord of the Rings movies. And as for the decision about making The Hobbit into three films, I am a bit skeptical though more excited by all the possibilities, than some at least.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey begins the way I expected it, based on all the critics’ reviews and the decision to make a trilogy out of a single book: the film starts off slow. We spend a long, long, long (I’ll just say overlong, to keep my sentence not too, too, too overlong..long…long!) time at Bilbo’s house. I must say the dwarves’ slapstick comedy as well as the funny dialogue (Gandalf talking about “the game of golf was invented” takes the cake, I just gotta say!). I also can’t think of anything I’d leave on the cutting room floor from the scenes in Bilbo’s house, but it just felt a little… uneventful (not unexpected).

A dwarf and a troll in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)Once the adventure does get going, however, I didn’t get much more pleased with the film. While the beginning is actually rather daring for a blockbuster (can you honestly name a big budget extravaganza from this year that spends 20+ minutes in one character’s house, without any action scenes?) the middle is overly conventional. We simply get one action scene. And then another… And then another… And then another… And then you get the idea, already! While the middle third of the film is no slog and some of the fight sequences are really entertaining the film doesn’t head in one, concrete direction.

Galadriel and Gandalf in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)Things slow down (and get a bit weird: Galadriel seeming in love with Gandalf and then just oddly disappearing) when we take time to visit Elrond, played nicely by Hugo Weaving, and some other visitors: Saruman, portrayed by Christopher Lee, and Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett. This not in the book sequence is a nice break from all the action (and I assume) a chance for Lord of the Rings fans to catch a peek at former favorite characters, but it just didn’t grab me. Though it may be, as I already said, a good chance to “slow down” the movie it’s just not interesting enough for Peter Jackson to grant it an ability to be as lengthy as it is.

However to make up for the disjointed beginning we get an amazing third act. There’s the riddle packed Bilbo and Gollum confrontation, a big goblin battle, and a flaming pinecones filled fight with Thorin’s old enemy, Azoc. Honestly these three climaxes could’ve been in separate movies. Bilibo and Gollum in this one, goblin fight in the sequel, and the pinecone sequence in the last installment (with added Smaug). Or a better idea would be to have added the dragon to this film, saved some money for other films, and stopped all the criticism of expanding the story. And with just that they could have made one film, not three. Maybe two films would’ve been the right fit.

Martin Freeman is great as Bilbo Baggins, turning in a mostly comical role. All Freeman needs to do is win an Oscar, star in some other blockbusters, and complete The Hobbit trilogy. If he can survive all that he’ll become a full fledged movie star. Alot of the times the star of a movie series will disappear once their franchise has ended, but that normally happens to younger actors (Elijah Wood of The Lord of the Rings, just 20 when The Fellowship of the Ring was released in 2001, is a prime example). Freeman is 41 and, despite the fact that his biggest role up unto this point was starring as Arthur Dent in franchise hopeful turned disastrous flop The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, he’s great here. He shows just the right amount of comic verve and jolly vigor. He does a commendable job without ever turning into a bland macho man. It’s a fine performance…but just that… fine. There seems to be just a bit lacking there. It’s not Oscar worthy or classic, for that matter, either. But it’s good, nonetheless. And, FINE, I’ll stop complaining already!

The supporting cast is strong but unsurprising. Ian McKellen (as Gandalf the Grey) and Richard Armitage, as Thorin Oakenshield, are okay but nothing different than the normal type of actors who appear in fantasy franchises. Meanwhile, Ian Holm and Elijah Wood have totally unnecessary screen time, reprising their roles (Old Bilbo and Young Frodo, respectively) from The Lord of the Rings. They do NOTHING interesting in an opening prologue that isn’t returned to for the rest of the film. As for the dwarves, they’re “quite a merry gathering” though no single actor stands out.

Technically the film is wonderful, with dazzling sets, amazing effects (both sound and special), weird yet great make-up, and a terrific score by Howard Shore—featuring a hummable theme melody and the so-so Song of the Lonely Mountain by Neil Finn.

A rock monster battling the heroes in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)Now to quickly sum up my thoughts on seeing this film in IMAX 3-D; brilliantly incredible! Seriously, Hugo and The Amazing Spider-Man are the only films that could rub shoulders with The Hobbit in my pantheon list of The Greatest 3-D Films (if I ever did one!). And after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark, back in it’s September re-release, and this (these are the only two IMAX films I can vividly remember watching) I now feel like IMAX is one of the ultimate ways to experience cinema in this day and age. Combine them together and shake the pot and…and…and…TA-DA!!! You’ve got movie magic, especially for a cinematic event such as this one (take note of the awesomely in-your-face moving and/or living rock mountain scene!)!

Gollum hiding from Bilbo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Jouney (2012)

My favorite scene is the triple climax. I’ve already talked about the goblin battle and the Azoc-pinecone fight. But just to review: while the goblin battle is particularly thrilling the Azoc fight has particular emotional resonance, thanks to Thorin’s tragic connection to the made up big baddie. As for the riddle sequence, Andy Serkis turns in an unsurprisingly great as Gollum, even if he doesn’t pour emotion (as in Rise of the Planet of the Ape’s Caesar) or slapstick comedy (as in The Adventures of Tintin’s Captain Haddock) into the small role. But as for the scene there’s not much to it, apart from the fun yet creepy riddles. Nonetheless it’s probably the most satisfactory scene of the film for fans of the book. While each third of the climax may not be wholly satisfying on it’s own, added up they create an entertaining finale.

My favorite character is Bilbo Baggins. He’s not the ideal protagonist for a big budget fall film but that’s what makes him great. We spend a great deal of time seeing his decision making process of whether or not to go on an adventure with Gandalf. But despite this overlong showcase of one Hobbit’s predictable decision we still get to know the character and savor Martin Freeman’s witty performance enough to be happy with Peter Jackson’s big screen interpretation of one classic character (or I should say Hobbit!).

Thorin Oakenshield prepares to battle Azoc in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images. I agree but would add that anyone over 11 or 12 will be fine, depending on your level of sensitivity. NOTE FOR THOSE OF ALL AGES: The flashback to the death of Thorin’s father is revoltingly gross, no matter how old you are.

The movie wants to be a comedy. It wants to be an epic. It wants to appeal to toddlers, teenagers, and people who read The Hobbit when it was first published. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it doesn’t. But no matter what, this is a journey worth taking. A precious fantasy adventure that is is flawed, fun, and ferociously thrilling all in one. Bring on the sequels to a prequel! But for whatever reason Peter Jackson has decided to make three Hobbit movies. And that’s the way this epic trilogy will play out. I kinda want to shout out “Bring on the sequels to a prequel!”, but something tells me not too. At least we get some emotional highpoints, even if not nearly enough. “From the smallest beginnings come the greatest legends.” reads the poster’s tagline. But from one book expanded into three films we get a visually awesome (especially in IMAX 3-D) yet overall ho-hum first installment.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Flick’s Review)

Posted on | December 18, 2012 | 1 Comment

4 1/2 stars

Bilbo Baggins, an adventure hating hobbit lives quietly in the Shire. That is until a company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield and overseen by Gandalf, turn up at his door. They are looking for “a fourteenth member of their company”, as thirteen is unlucky. Gandalf believes he has found that member. What say the other dwarves? They couldn’t disagree more. But, Bilbo joins and their perilous journey to take back the dwarf”s home begins.The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey is not your average blockbuster. Peter Jackson, the director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is helming this epic saga. Saga? That’s right! Jackson’s initial plan was to split J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit in to two films. The same was done for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the same will be done for the next Hunger Games film, Catching Fire. And the same was also done for the final Twilight book, Breaking Dawn. So it didn’t come as much of a surprise when Jackson gave us the news. So why is this Hobbit film business so unlike anything else? That’s because Jackson uncovered roughly 125 pages of notes from Tolkein, “deleted scenes”, if you will. He will be interspersing them throughout the films, and has already included some in An Unexpected Journey. Jackson thinks that with all of the notes he has found he’ll have enough material for a third film. “Count em’ on all three fingers: it’s what we call epic!” That’s what some think of this plan. While others are leaning towards “HE’S GONE MAD! MAD! JACKSON IS A MAD MAN!” Personally, I do think that the scheme is aimed to make money and will result in at least one very, very poor film. But for now we can merely speculate about this first film. So I will…

After all of the hullabaloo about the fact that this is going to be a trilogy, can we actually enjoy this film? I can and I did. I think the film is entertaining, and found it to be surprisingly funny. Jackson included just about everything from the first six chapters of the book, climaxing with a Gandalf, dwarf, and Bilbo vs. Orcs battle. Plus, there are some extended and added parts from the notes! Because there is not a central villain in the book (except for Smaug towards the end), Jackson has decided to add an Orc who has a long and dark past with Thorin. I’m not sure if this was found in the notes or what, but it works okay for the film. I don’t have too much of a problem with adding this character, but I would prefer for Jackson not to tamper with the books so much. The Rivendell sequence, on the other hand, is gloriously designed. Characters from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy that were not in the book are included in this sequence. They include Elrond, played by Hugo Weaving, Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett, and Saruman, played by Christopher Lee. The actors are all wonderful and their is some humor and mystery thrown in there, so all in all, it adds up to an enjoyable sequence, if a bit long.The film received a mere 65% rating from critics on rottentomatoes.com. Many critics found it boring, tedious, and way too long. And, of course, they are remembering that two more films are on their way. But I, for the most part disagree. Yes, the film could have completely cut about three of the action sequences. Some of the sequences are beautiful, especially with the glorious IMAX and 3-D .

The film does at times start to feel, not boring, but certainly tiresome. The nearly three hour running time starts to show and my popcorn was gone long before the halfway benchmark. And I’m not a fast popcorn muncher! Let me explain how I could help Jackson out in the editing room. Jackson uses the 3-D to great effect when Bilbo and the dwarves are struggling to stay on the cliff. That’s exciting and wonderfully choreographed, but the moments of the rock giants bashing each other is not nearly as exciting. I would rather it to be replaced with…nothing! Jackson and his longtime editor, Jabez Olessen could have trimmed a good half hour. If Smaug was thrown into the climax this could have ended here! Okay, okay, I guess that’s not correct. There are many more moments to cover: the dwarves in the river, more added scenes, the final Smaug confrontation, and much, much more. And yet…as I sat in the theater watching the film, I couldn’t help but think in the back of my mind: two more three hour IMAX 3-D extravaganzas will be coming soon!

I said that I would get to the IMAX and 3-D critiques later. So now I’ll get to them.  First off, the IMAX. Originally, the plan was for us (Flack, our family, and I) to view the film in IMAX and only IMAX. But at Providence Place theaters, you can only watch the film in regular format or IMAX and 3-D. Nevertheless, we saw the IMAX and 3-D version. I will admit that the IMAX screen is unbelievably massive. I know all critics say this and you’re probably not believing me (I didn’t believe the critics), but it really is about seven stories tall and you can tell. There were several moments during the film where I could feel the ground literally shake. My shirt moved a centimeter or two. Even though you have to empty your pocketbook for this massive screen and “earth shattering sound”, I think for a film like this that you can truly title an event, it’s worth it.

Onto the 3-D! I don’t dislike 3-D as much as some do, but I will admit that the glasses I was given at this showing were unusually annoying. But after the first hour, I did get used to it and I managed to just sit back and enjoy the show because this 3-D is spectacular. It’s absolutely thrilling in every sense of the word. There are a few scenes in particular that stand out. They include: rocks chipping off mountains falling into your eyes as rain drips down and Bilbo and co. struggle to keep their lives and the final climactic battle is given an interesting depth that involves flaming pinecones (I don’t want to give anything else away). There is also a very long trailer for J. J. Abrams’ Summer 2013 sequel, Stark Trek Into Darkness that uses 3-D wonderfully (more on that in the future).I’ve told you about all of the 3-D and IMAX and chit-chat about the fact that this is a trilogy, but is there any emotion behind the action? Yes, in fact there is. I will be purposefully vague as to not give anything away, but I will say that there is a nice portion of emotion at the end and every so often throughout. In other words, on the whole, this is a journey worth taking. WARNING: SOME UNEXPECTED THREE-DIMENSIONAL ROCKS MAY MAKE YOU JUMP. JUST A WARNING!

My favorite character is Bilbo because of his human qualities. He is the central protagonist, but fortunately Jackson paints him as a human and relatable character. Plus, he has some fun action scenes and those hobbit ears…Oh my!

My favorite scene is the adaption of “Chapter 6: Riddles in the Dark” because of…GOLLUM! It’s been nearly a decade since The Lord of the Rings Trilogy began (I haven’t seen the films, but I can judge from photos and trailers), so the Mo-Cap technology has evolved enough to create a truly creepy 2012 Gollum. Howard Shore’s score is just about at it’s best here with the track merely titled Riddles in the Dark. The last reason? That wonderful quote: “What has Bagginses got in it’s pocketses?”. Pure, genuine Gollum.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is rated PG-13 and I agree. There are some creepy off-headings that will push you to keep the youngsters home.

A cinematic event if there ever was one. A true spectacle with some emotional tidbits. Highly entertaining, if overlong.

Lincoln (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | December 2, 2012 | 6 Comments

Lincoln (2012)5 Stars

Lincoln tells the inspiring true story of Abraham Lincoln and his attempt to persuade the House of Representatives to vote for the 13th Amendment.   In doing so slavery will be abolished. If Lincoln loses the vote he will have to wait until the war is over. And if the Union wins and the South rejoins the US, the South will surely vote against the Amendment. You probably already know how the vote turns out but you don’t know how Lincoln, Secretary of State William Seward, and others try to persuade Democrats to help pass the Amendment. The time is mid 1860’s and the Civil War is almost over.

Steven Spielberg directs this movie. Along with the rest of the crew one of his greatest achievements in the film is accurately representing the mid 1860’s. The filmmakers create an impeccably authentic sense of time and place by vividly rendering everything from the way people talked to how African Americans were treated. All of the actors talk in a way that seemed surprisingly modern to me but since I didn’t live when the film was set I can’t criticize this aspect. Everyone who made this movie should definitely be commended for their historical accuracy. Clothing, a Civil War battle scene: the film is shockingly realistic. There are a few factual errors and goofs but none that would be painfully noticeable to a regular non-historian moviegoer. And at least Lincoln rides in a buggy rather than a VW Bug.

Lincoln (2012)
The story and events in the film are also highly factual (despite some inaccuracies). But the story itself is what makes the film so great. Anyone who knows a single thing about history will know how the climactic final vote turns out but it’s hard not to be wrapped up in the suspense. Steven Spielberg directs the film like the pro he really is. Many people are saying it’s the best film he’s made in a decade. While he is my favorite director, many of his films I haven’t seen (not because I don’t want to) simply because I’m not allowed to watch them yet. Apart from Lincoln I’ve only seen three of his films of the 2000’s. They are in chronological order: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), The Adventures of Tintin (2011), and War Horse (2011). Lincoln is definitely better than the first two (albeit respectable films) but I might need to see the criminally underatted War Horse again to compare. It’s a simpler movie that you can enjoy without knowing all about the politics of a century and a half ago.

But back to the direction of Lincoln. Spielberg puts together all of his pieces in a way that reminds me of Ulysses. S. Grant commanding all of his Union soldiers. Everything is carefully constructed with the kind of precision I imagine this film must have been some very hard work for Spielberg. He has said he can direct Indiana Jones-type action flicks in his sleep. That can’t be true. Even for one of the most advanced filmmakers of all time every project comes with a new challenge. But I made an educated guess that he meant only action films like nothing he’d ever done before (an IMAX 3-D motion capture family film like the animated Tintin)  will from now on be added too his resume. Maybe that’s a good choice, though I’d love to see a fifth and final, nostalgically fun and Mutt-free, new Indy movie of course starring Harrison Ford. But for Lincoln Spielberg spent 12 years doing researching (while making other movies). I’m surprised it took that long though he wasn’t studying nonstop. Nonetheless his research shows. But was this film fun to make for him? I’d need to ask myself to find the true answer (something I’d love to do) but I’m guessing yes, in a way. The film was probably difficult and stressful at times yet rewarding and fascinating at others. And yet no matter how hard it is to create celluloid gold when a director is on the red carpet for their film’s premiere I am sure they are undeniably happy because it is at a time before people have had a chance to say their opinions of the new film. When Lincoln premiered at the New York Film Festival on October 8th  I’m sure Spielberg was a bit nervous but boy did it pay off.

Research, overseeing, and orchestrating all tiny parts were probably the three most important parts for Spielberg on this film. But every other department on the film is equally great. Most notably of course are the actors. Daniel Day-Lewis is fantastic in a part originally intended for Liam Neeson but was changed to Day-Lewis when Neeson was considered too old, though only five years his senior. Day-Lewis is perfect as Lincoln. Many critics have said he’s the real thing, so to speak, but no one knows the truth. If I’m not mistaken there aren’t any living film critics from a little over 150 years ago. But based  what historians have told us and photos have shown us Day-Lewis is really the real thing. He nails the part. And in fact he might be a better way to study Lincoln than any 100% factually correct history book. Every muscle movement just seems right. Only a few flaws of Lincoln are shown. Was he really so perfect? Probably not. But no one wants to create fake bad things to say about the man and that’s a good thing. I can’t imagine anyone else playing this part as well as Day-Lewis does. This is the first film I’ve seen him in and I can already see why people are calling him our greatest living actor. He’s won two Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscars: first for Gangs of New York (2002) and then for There Will Be Blood (2007). He’s also been nominated for two Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscars: first for his breakout role in My Left Foot (1989) and then for In The Name of the Father (1993). He’ll definitely get nominated as Best Actor for Lincoln and surely win.

Mary Todd Lincoln (2012)
As for the rest of the cast there are plenty accolade deserving turns. As Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, Sally Fields turns in a quietly understated performance much like Day-Lewis’. She doesn’t get alot of screen time but is memorable in her scenes. The only other female in a promininent role is Elizabeth Keckley Gloria Reuben, who has only done B-movie action films and ER up until this point. Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar predictor Anthony Brenzican listed her as a “Consider This” possibility for Best Supporting Actress. While she has two big moments her work in the film was a little too supporting for my taste and I think Fields deserves the Oscar.

The rest of the cast is dominated by talky male politicians: David Strathairn as William Seward, Secretary of State and Lincoln’s right hand man with conflicting ideas; Hal Holbrook as Preston Blair, another older helper in stopping slavery; James Spader, John Hawkes, and Tim Blake Nelson, hired hands and drunken lobbyists; Michael Stuhlbarg as George Yeamen, a quiet politician with beliefs that transform; and many more nameless characters. These are all great performances.

But then there’s Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, a fierce fast talker of an all out abolitionist. Jones plays the character as a man who isn’t afraid to get across his point. In a scene of verbal jousting with Mary Todd Lincoln, Stevens surprised me by being rather confrontational with the First Lady. After the two moderate summer smashes (for their expectations) Jones is back in Oscar form. He is great as K in the Men In Black trilogy, and critics liked him for reprising that role in Men in Black 3, and playing Arnold in Hope Springs. But the pure energy Jones gives this character makes him a top contender for Best Supporting Actor.

As Lincoln’s children we see Joseph Gordon-Levitt finely playing Robert and Gulliver Mcgrath turning in a wonderful small role, though I wish he had one big emotional moment to show off his acting chops. Since it’s such a long and packed movie there’s not really any space for extra character development. That’s okay; there’s nothing I’d cut and I’m not asking for a 3 hour movie.

I hope the movie will win the Best Ensemble Cast award at the SAGs. But for individual Oscars Sally Fields may win Best Supporting Actress and Tommy Lee Jones has an even better shot at winning Best Supporting Actor. And in a busy Best Actor race Daniel-Day Lewis will claim that prize for sheer historical accuracy alone.

The script of the film by Tony Kushner is undeniably brilliant. The sharp Congress arguments, the solemn presidential speeches, and the funny “stories” are all terrifically written. Kushner does a great job and he’s already started a new Spielberg script that nobody knows about. Perhaps he could be Spielberg’s new great collaborator.

Walking Lincoln (2012)I’m now going to not technically spoil anything but those who have never heard of the death of Lincoln should stop reading! As for the final scene I was surprised we didn’t see Lincoln get shot. There’s already plenty of other disturbing scenes and you’re expected to know about the horrors of war and death going in. But the part that bothers me more is the flashback choice. In a well spoken and written speech we see Lincoln adress fellow politicians. But I already forget what he said. The Gettysburg Adress would have have been a good one to use, considering it’s perhaps his most quotable. But that could be a little over the top. Maybe a flashback to the scene a minute before where Lincoln hauntingly walks down an empty hallway to the theater. The film could’ve ended there. Another bothersome image is when the scene transitions from the candle to Lincoln’s face because it looks awfully weird. A much better ending would be after we see Willie screaming at the theater we then cut to a quick shot of people remorsing over Lincoln’s body. Then we see Lincoln walking down the corridor. And then a cut to a shot of Lincoln’s face. Then the credits roll.

Lincoln Clock (2012)There’s also no special effects and only one minor battle scene. And even the battle scene is less than a minute not an unnecessarily overlong set-piece. In fact the fight is more of a blurry flashback and probably took a day to shoot during the film’s 3 and a half month production (rather short, I feel). Meanwhile, the sounds are mainly real. The ticking of Lincoln’s clock is the real ticking. But of all of the sounds blend in which shows that the audio mixers did a great job because they didn’t draw attention to realistic noises during dramatic scenes. One type of sound that is often under the spotlight is John William’s seriously subdued score. Many have complained it’s too loud and annoying but apart from the terrific theme song William’s blends the music in with everything else.

My favorite scene is the voting climax. It’s thrilling even though I (and all decently educated people) knew what was going to happen. All of the elements blend together adding up to a thrilling whole. My other equally favorite scene is the opening. It’s very well put together. We see the horrors of the Civil War, preparing us so that we understand what people are talking about for the rest of the film. We also watch Lincoln baffled by strong minded African American soldiers and some vain white ones as well. And then finally one of the African Americans walks away reciting the Gettysburg Address. This scene is a perfect summation of why the film makes history down to earth, fascinating, and enthrallng. And that music doesn’t hurt either.

My favorite character is…..hmmmm. Oh yes! There’s a guy named Abraham Lincoln in the film. He’s portrayed as a magnificent man by Daniel-Day Lewis and we also get to see his sad side as well.

The MPAA has rated Lincoln PG-13 for a scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language. Anyone studying Lincoln, slavery, or the Civil War will not see anything worse than what they’ve studied. Kids watching the film might be bored if they’re expecting an action fest (so don’t). Everyone will be occasionally disgusted by the horrific images of war. Some kids and adults will be glued to the screen thanks to the constant debating, historical significance, and gloriously old fashioned spectacle. Anyone over 12 is probably fine. I’d rate it PG-13 for the same reasons as the MPAA as well as a little more than brief strong language.

Lincoln debating (2012)Combine the witty, fascinating script by Tony Kushner, John William’s stirring score, the wonderful adaption of Doris Kearne Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, a mindblowingly magnificent cast, and the epic direction of Steven Spielberg and you’ve got an excellent historical drama. I think it’ll be Argo vs Lincoln for Best Picture and for now I can’t decide which I love more. Go see this movie if you want to know why 2012 is a great year for movies and why Spielberg is our greatest living director. See it to discover the reasons Lincoln is still remembered today. He was smart, savvy, truthful, inquiring, sophisticated, and gave everyone a chance to talk. He was our 16th President. He was Abraham Lincoln. Go see this movie. To be honest I haven’t seen a more classically cinemactic movie all year.

Movies To Be Thankful For (Flack’s Article)

Posted on | November 22, 2012 | 4 Comments

A Charlie Brown Thangsgiving (1973)This Thanksgiving is going to be a great time for going to the movies. Here’s a rundown of what’s opening this week as well as if I think they’re worth seeing.

Red Dawn (2012)I’ll start off with the most lowbrow of the new releases: Red Dawn. The film is about a group of teenagers trying to save their town when North Korean Soldiers invade. The movie is a remake of the 1984 film of the same name (and which tells the same story). “It was fun to shoot, you know. That was what the plan was. The plan was to create chaos.” That’s what Chris Hemsworth, the star of the film, (a.k.a. Thor himself) says about the production. And based on the trailer and featurette it looks like they have succeeded in doing so. Except it seems there is only one slight step they forgot while making the movie: write a good script. Once the story gets going Red Dawn seems to be a nonstop action film with explosions, guys jumping through glass, teenagers blowing up everything they possibly can, a massive bus crash, and much, much more. If you want mindless action spectacle this is the film for you! Otherwise only Razzie members will want to see this film. Ages: The film is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language. There is also likely a bit of kissing.

Life Of Pi (2012)Now for something a little more Oscar friendly… Life of Pi! Based on the big time bestseller by Yann Martel this film tells the story of a boy named Pi. He recounts his tale to a writer as an adult. What is this tale? As a teenager Pi and his parents decide to move from India to Canada but while traveling on a freighter they get shipwrecked. The only survivors are Pi, a zebra, an orangutan, and a 450 pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. And soon Richard Parker has dispatched everyone on the lifeboat except for Pi. Will Pi survive despite the odds? Will he run out of food? Will he find land? Will the tiger get hungry and…? Find out in Life of Pi, a visually beautiful mix of religion, adventure, tragedy, and a feel good story. The film took a while to get made. The book was considered unfilmable by readers but the rights were optioned in 2002 and since then names such as M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuaron, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet were tossed around. Eventually Ang Lee was chosen to direct. Lee took two big risks by casting unknown Suraj Sharma as Pi and shooting the movie in 3-D, even though it wasn’t a movie that typically seemed 3-D. However these risks payed off when Life of Pi premiered at this year’s New York Film Festival (which also celebrated it’s 50th birthday this year) to great applause. I’ve read the book. It’s a good read but there are some odd scenes and chapters where nothing happens. While the book was aimed for adults the movie has been rated PG and seems like it could be a hit with older children and adults alike. Roger Ebert says the film has the best use of 3-D he’s ever seen and I’ll definitely be seeing the movie with the extra dimension. Of all the Thanksgiving releases Life of Pi is the one that will please the whole family. Ages: The movie is rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril. There could also be some swearing but anyone over 10 (maybe younger) should be fine.

Hitchcock (2012)Anthony Hopkins stars in this biopic about one of the most beloved directors of all time. The film is titled Hitchcock. The drama focuses on the making of Psycho and Hitchcock’s relationship with his wife Alma Reville (played by Helen Mirren in the movie). Reviews have been mixed and Anthony Hopkins seems to be the only shot that the movie has at an Oscar. Even though the title is Hithcock the tagline is “Behind every Psycho is a great woman.” I’m not expecting Mirren to get an Oscar (or in such a jam packed year, Hopkins for that matter) but she might get a nomination. If she does I was expecting it to be for Best Supporting Actress but the reviews have forced me to reconsider. Could a Best Actress nom be in the bag? Probably not but we’ll see when the Oscar nominations are announced. Another surprising fact about the movie is that it’s only 98 minutes long, a shockingly short length for a film that is about the making of a classic film. That isn’t a bad thing just an interesting one. Anyway, the film will probably be the My Week With My Marylin (which was one minute longer, was put into limited release last November, and got two Oscar noms). And it should also be a good evening at the movies, as Rex Reed of The New Observer said in his review. If you want to see evry Oscar contender possible go see this movie but if not it’ll probably be a good rental. Masters of old movie trivia will enjoy learning more about The Master of Suspense. Ages: The movie is rated PG-13 for some violent images, romantic content, and thematic material. It’s likely appropriate for anyone who has seen Psycho (which is also rated PG-13). Teens are probably the youngest age group that will be allowed to see this movie.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)The most Oscar friendly, Silver Linings Playbook, of the group was actually released into 16 theaters last week but will continue it’s arthouse run by opening into 367 theaters this week (it will likely have a wide release soon). The film tells the story of Pat, a man just released from a mental institution. A former teacher, Pat wants to try and rekindle with his former wife but he soon gets attracted to another woman, Tiffany. And then things get complicated. The film is a mix of romance, drama, and comedy. Critics are calling it one of the best movies of the year and Entertainment Weekly’s Oscarologist Dave Karger calls it the best film of the year so far. Perhaps reminiscent of classic Woody Allen movies this rom-com has shots at winning Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (the film was based on a 2008 book by Mathew Quick), Best Picture, and quite possibly more. For adults looking for a great new movie to see that can promise laughs and tears this is the Thanksgiving film to see. Ages: The movie is rated R for language and romantic content/nakedness. It’s most likely appropriate for older teens and up.

Rise Of The Guardians (2012)Rise of the Guardians will certainly appeal to children. It’s the latest animated family film to hit our screens since Wreck-It Ralph became a surprise hit with critics, a smash at the box office, and an unstoppable crowdpleaser with audiences. Now Guardians is looking to reach those same heights. Though I haven’t seen Ralph one thing that helped make it a blockbuster was the something for everybody trailers. They featured jokes for young and old ones, tons of videogame action and references, and some amazing animation. Guardians has action and stunning visuals but one thing it doesn’t seem to have in abundance: lots of laughs! However it still looks like a fun time at the movies and as it gets closer to Christmas expect more and more money to be made by Dreamworks. Another sign that gives me good hopes for the film’s success: slim competition. Last year The Muppets, Hugo, and Arthur Chritsmas. All three were family films that got great reviews, but none of them made over $100 million. In fact, none of them made back their budgets (apart from The Muppets) in the US. Nonetheless no matter how good Guardians does at the box office and even though critics are saying it’s fun but uninventive I’m still looking forward to seeing the film. Ages: The film has been rated PG for some thematic elements and mildly scary action. Anyone who’s seen other animated blockbusters should be fine as they will be used to the intense yet silly action sequences. However this one looks like it has nonstop battle scenes.

Don’t forget there are many films that have been already released that are still playing. Argo is a must see and I can’t wait to watch Lincoln, which I will be seeing very soon. For adults only Flight looks good and for kids Wreck-It Ralph seems fun. And for anyone looking for an action movie go see Skyfall, and be thankful for 50 years of James Bond!

Here’s Box Office Mojo’s predictions for the weekend. I agree with most of them. Don’t forget to comment on which of these movies you want to see or have seen! Anyway have a great time at the movies, the dinner table, and with friends and family (and a boy on a lifeboat with a tiger)! Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks to evreyone who has read and commented on Flick Flack Movie Talk.

A Look at Skyfall (Flick’s Preview)

Posted on | November 9, 2012 | 2 Comments

You can party all day long for every day this year in order to celebrate fifty years of 007. So of course Flick is here so you can stock up on your knowledge about the twenty-third Bond film, Skyfall. It’s directed by Sam Mendes and for his third outing, Daniel Craig returns as the iconic super-spy. Will the film honor the fifty year benchmark? How could they possibly go somewhere different than the last twenty-two films? In Casino Royale and Quantam of Solace the action was done by real humans, is that the case this time round? Is Craig done with it after this? Want to know the answers? Read on.Last night, Bond once again hit silver screens everywhere. His new film Skyfall, looks like it’s harkening back with a classy vibe. In my opinion that’s a great way to celebrate half a century of the ongoing franchise. The director is an odd choice, Sam Mendes, who previously was at the helm of dramas like American Beauty or Revolutionary Road or Road to Peridition. Judging from the video blogs that have been released (especially the first that focuses on Mendes) it seems like the film is in good hands. The action is still there, but a new sort of depth is also intact.Let’s go from behind the camera to in front of the camera. Daniel Craig is back. His first turn in the role, was in 2006’s Casino Royale. It was a return to form according to fans and, for one of the first times ever, critics. Two years later, Craig returned for the commercially successful Quantum of Solace. This time however, critics weren’t so happy and neither, entirely, were fans. So for Skyfall, Craig is bringing Mendes along with him and is hoping for the best.

There are also two Bond girls on board, played by Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe. From the footage that has been seen so far, both of the Bond girls seem half allies, half enemies. Ola Rapace is also in a supporting role as one of Silva’s (played by Javier Bardem sporting some blonde hair) henchman. Of course Judi Dench is still here and according to spectators she has a past with Silva.

So will Skyfall do well? It already $321million in it’s pockets from overseas so even if it’s a flop here (which it won’t be) they have already earned back their budget (an estimated $200 million) and more. My prediction for the opening weekend is a stellar $73 million. It should get the Fall movie season rolling. If you see the film comment on this post. I think that’s it… Bond-jour!

An Epic of Intricately Complex Proportions

Posted on | October 26, 2012 | 1 Comment

Cloud Atlas (2012)In the following article Flack talks about the Wachowski siblings career and how they have teamed up with German director Tom Tyker to create the visionary, mind bending Cloud Atlas, out today.

The Wachowski siblings have had an extremely respectable career. If you’ve ever wanted to be a Hollywood director you probably wouldn’t mind being in their position. But lately they’ve been faltering. Lana (previously Larry) and Andy debuted with the crime thriller Bound in 1996. Not everybody loved it but Roger Ebert did, calling it “Pure cinema spread over several genres”. The film made $6 million but cost $4 million to make. But the sibling had much bigger plans. In 1994 they completed a script for a sci-fi trilogy called The Matrix. In 1999 the instant action classic was released to commercial and critical success. As Rotten Tomatoes says the movie is “An ingenious combination of Hong Kong action, ground-breaking Hollywood FX, and an imaginative vision.” This, so far at least, is the high point of their career.

The Matrix (1999)After a massive blockbuster there’s always the same route. Make a sequel! And the Wachowskis did that. In 2003 a collection of 9 animated short films titled The Animatrix were released on DVD, though some were available online and one showed before the 2003 Stephen King adaption Dreamcatcher. The shorts were produced and in some cases written by the Wachowskis but they directed none of them, leaving the job to others. On May 15, 2003 the highly anticipated The Matrix Reloaded was released, which showed out of competition at the Cannes film festival that year. On November 15th The Matrix Revolutions wrapped up the trilogy in the same year. Both sequels cost $150 million each and were shot at the same time but while Reloaded is the highest grossing installment of the series, Revolutions is shockingly the lowest.  And even though the original film has an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes the sequels have a 73% and 36%, respectively. On the whole, the sequels are not remembered fondly and was often a tragic shoot. However one reason the Wachowskis should be proud of the series altogether is that they made a lot of money. So how to follow it up? Wait five years before releasing a new film. But on May 9, 2008 Speed Racer (the only Wachowski film that’s not rated R) was released. The project had been in development since 1992 and is based on a Japanese anime TV show from the 60’s. But the movie didn’t even earn it’s budget back in worldwide grosses, let alone make a profit. Critics nor audiences were fans of the movie and is thus reflected on as a candy colored, unnecessary flop.

Cloud Atlas (2012)But after the harsh reaction to their recent movies the Wachowskis are poised to make a comeback with an epic of intricately complex proportions. The movie is titled Cloud Atlas and is also co-directed by the man behind Run Lola Run, Tom Tyker. Together these three directors have taken the book Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, and turned it into a film. The book and film feature six different stories of different genres that eventually connect. On top of that the many, many actors play two roles each, while Halle Berry and Tom Hanks play six each in different stories. The movie is a mishmash of ideas, stories, and genres. The first story is set in the 19th century and tells the story of a lawyer sailing from the Pacific to California. As he sails home he records his voyage in a half finished diary which eventually resurfaces to a poor musician in 30’s Belgium, in the second story. The pianist’s friend also appears in the third episode in which Halle Berry as a reporter falls in love with Tom Hanks as a scientist during 1975 set against a possibly deadly nuclear conspiracy. The story of Berry’s character next lands in the hands of a murdering publisher who gets trapped in a prison taken care of by a very nasty care worker in the fourth adventure set in early 21st Century London and once again featuring Tom Hanks this time as a gangster type author. The publisher has ties with Sonmi-451, a clone trying to gain her humanity with the help of a man trying to bring down a totalitarian society in the near hi-tech future. In the final installment a tribesman played by Hanks (living after the apocalypse called The Fall) tries to escape Hugh Grant as a cannibal and a recurring evil, Devil type creature along with the help of companion survivor Meronym, played by Berry.

The Wachowskis and Tom TykerThe movie cost about $120 million to make and just by watching the trailers you can tell. But the directing trio has called it an independent movie despite the fact that it’s being distributed by Warner Bros. Still even the gigantic budget doesn’t seem large enough. The novel by David Mitchell was published in 2004 and was greeted by acclaim, awards, question marks, and mixed reviews. While on the set of V For Vendetta, written and produced by the Wachowskis, the star of Vendetta, Natalie Portman showed Lana, Cloud Atlas a book she’d just read and loved. So Lana read it, then Andy, and within a year they had written a first draft. They had wanted to work with Tom Tyker for a while and knew this would be the perfect opportunity. So the three of them spent a year in a Costa Rica writing more drafts and laying out index cards and rearranging them. Natalie Portman was promised the role of Sonmi-451 but had to drop out. James McAvoy and Ian McKellen were both considered for roles but the cast is extremely respectable as it is. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturges, Ben Winshaw, Doona Bae, Keith David, James D’Arcy, and many more are among the stars.

Cloud Atlas (2012)Despite these big names, will audiences actually turn up for a movie that is so long and complex? Well it’s not just confusing mind boggling interconnecting story lines you’ll find at this film. You’ll also receive the bang for your buck. The fifth story especially features lots of action. Watch the trailer and you’ll see what could be the best chase scene of the year. And of course there’s lots of special effects throughout. But the movie is 172 minutes long and there’s a guarantee that it’s not a 2 hour, 52 minute action scene. But no matter what you’re wanting or expecting from Cloud Atlas you’re going to get something. How good is that something? Well, reviews have been flooding in since the 10 minute standing ovation that the movie got at it’s premiere at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival. (Flick and I attended the kids version April of this year). Some critics LOVE the film some critics DON’T. Roger Ebert (and the Wachowskis) have compared the film to 2001: A Space Odessey in a good way. Ebert gave it 4 out of 4 stars while others have been much less kind. But most like Bob Mondello, who largely disliked the film says “Cloud Atlas is now a film, for better or worse. Mostly worse I’d say, but give these folks credit …” I think the film, no matter what, was worth making. The Wachowskis and Tyker have reportedly had a great time working on the film, and so have the actors. There have been plenty of advertisements on TV, talk shows, and the Internet as well as a five and a half minute trailer released over the summer, a second and shorter trailer, and three behind the scenes featurettes. The movie however is rated R, which always reduces the number of viewers. Yet it is in IMAX, which costs more (thus adding money). But you don’t have to see it in IMAX. There are so many reasons why it will and won’t be a blockbuster success. If I was allowed to see the film I would see it opening day in IMAX. However, not everybody feels that way and so I’m guessing the movie will debut to $9.5 million on it’s opening weekend. Terribly disappointing but sadly likely. However I’m guessing the movie will do great internationally, thanks to the German Tom Tyker and partly foreign cast, and can at least make back it’s budget.

Tom Tyker (who composed the music for Cloud Atlas before shooting began) has no upcoming films he is currently working on. The Wachowskis are producing, writing, and directing a sci-fi action adventure starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum and set to be released sometime 2014. Jupiter will likely be commercially successful. And so after all the future may be bright.

Now go see Cloud Atlas and remember everything is connected. When you see Cloud Atlas there is one word that will come out of your mouth (to quote a certain other Wachowski film): whoa.

Cloud Atlas (2012)Tell us if you’ve read the book and then your opinion in the comments after seeing the movie (and what you think of these director’s other work and if you even want you see the movie)!


Vertigo (Flick’s Review)

Posted on | October 25, 2012 | Add Comments

5 stars

John Ferguson is an aerobic policeman. After retiring, John is pulled back in to it all by one of his old college friends. The old friend tells John that his wife has been acting like another person lately, she’s been driving ninety four miles without his knowing. As things get even more complex, the lines between who is who are blurred.

Vertigo is a film that will, currently is, and should be remembered for the ages. I saw the entire film., my brother fell asleep in the middle of it, so the next morning I watched the second half with him again. The second viewing of the second half (I hope I’m not giving you vertigo… yet) let me sink my teeth into all the tiny little details that I had missed the first time around. I know what you’re thinking: “That’s what happens every time you watch a film the second time. You pick up everything you missed the first time.” But there’s something about Vertigo (I’m still trying to wrap my head around it), it is the rare film that is almost flawless. It is so well rounded; in every scene we witness something even more mind boggling than the last.

The plot is incredibly interesting. I don’t think I have ever watched a film more complex than this, but the sophisticated storyline only builds the suspense. If the storyline was simple and uninteresting, then the suspense could only get as far as half baked. Why? Well if we don’t care about what’s happening, then there goes our interest. Right out the window.

This film is what everyone says it is: it’s a physiological puzzle that twists your brain until it hits the floor. If you want to watch something while folding laundry or doing work, let me suggest that Vertigo be last on your go-to list. If you do watch it at the right time however, you won’t be able to stop watching it, I couldn’t.With every good movie (and yes, I mean just plain old good movie), there is something that aids the brilliance. The layering on the cake, if you will. Here it’s the acting, the sets, everything. But there’s one element that you can’t miss. As I’m writing my review I’m listening to it now. It’s frighteningly sophisticated. It’s quiet, and then it will blare the horns and you’ll know it’s the tower scene. That’s right: it’s Bernard Herrmann’s nail bitingly unforgettable score.

It would be truly impossible to write an entire review of an Alfred Hitchcock film without mentioning the master of suspense, himself. Well there you go: I mentioned Hitchcock and I’m not done yet. Anyway, Hitchcock is a brilliant director. With each of the eight and a-bit-of films of his I’ve seen (North By Northwest, the original The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rear Window, To Catch A Thief, Notorious, The 39 Steps, the first half hour of Lifeboat, Rebecca, and now Vertigo) he tries to push himself a little farther. And here, if ever, he does.

My favorite character is Madeline because of the many different phases she goes through (I’m not going to give anything away), each one twisting your mind even further than the last.

My favorite scene is the second tower scene because it has amazing performances, Hitchcock masters it all with frighteningly exact precision, and oh the music. It is also one of the best finales in all of cinema history. Yes, ALL OF CINEMA HISTORY!

Vertigo is Not Rated, but I would rate it PG-13 for scenes of peril and complex situations.

A suspense film like no other, Vertigo may not be Hitchcock’s best, but it still is wonderfully good, bizarrely complex suspense.

The 50th Anniversary Bond Crossword Puzzle

Posted on | October 11, 2012 | 4 Comments

We know that Global Bond Day is over with, but the year isn’t over yet and Skyfall still hasn’t hit screens. So to kick-start a series of posts ranging from reviews to news, all celebrating 50 years of Bond, here is a crossword puzzle created by Flick and Flack that features information collected from many sources that range from our heads to 007.com and more.  Make sure you watch the minute and a half Bond 50 video in 007.com, that plays automatically at the very top of the page, showcasing all of the films.

We hope you enjoy this crossword puzzle that features questions that range from your knowledge of Dr. No, the first Bond film, to Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig’s November 9th release, Skyfall. For the first time ever we are in crossword puzzle form, no less, to test you on one of cinema’s most popular, successful, and intriguing film franchises.Before you begin the crossword puzzle, here is just a quick word on how to do it. It’s pretty simple:

  • Click on one of the squares with a number (1, 2, 3, etc.) and at the top of the page you’ll see a clue. It should say, for example, “Across 1: Longtime Bond Producer pair”
  • Then, in the blank space next to the Enter button, write your answer.
  • Next, press Enter and it should show up on the grid.

Other notes:

  • All of the clues are listed together on the bottom of the page, so you can view them at the same time. However you cannot write directly in the grid, you must write in the blank spot at the top of the page.
  • If you think you got it wrong, or just want to see how you’re doing, press the Check button. All of the incorrect letters will disappear, leaving only the correct letters.
  • Also, for questions with people’s names as answers, last names and full names are used but never just first names.
  • If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of all this or if you want to do it on the go, you can print the page as you would print anything on your computer.

That’s just about it, so good luck!

Note: This puzzle ranges from laughably easy questions to frighteningly challenging ones. In other words we’re sorry if your left, well, shaken… not stirred.

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