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I Am Number Four (2011)
There were nine of us. Three are dead...
Filmmaker(s): D. J. Caruso

A teenage fugitive with an incredible secret races to stay one step ahead of the mysterious forces seeking destroy him in this sci-fi action thriller. With three dead and one on the run, the race to find the elusive Number Four begins. Outwardly normal teen John Smith never gets too comfortable in the same identity, and along with his guardian, Henri, he is constantly moving from town to town. With each passing day, John gains a stronger grasp on his extraordinary new powers, and his bond to the beings that share his fantastic fate grows stronger.

The Bad Guys I suppose we will have to endure a succession of movies which feature adults pretending to be high school kids. There will be the girl next door falling in forever-love with a supernatural guy, who is threatened. There is not much here...
Published February 16, 2024
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Tokyo Drifter (1966)
Filmmaker(s): Seijun Suzuki

After yakuza boss Kurata dissolves his own criminal empire, a rival kingpin offers a position to Kurata's top operative, Tetsuya "Phoenix Tetsu" Hondo. When the fiercely loyal Tetsu declines, Otsuka taps unstoppable Tatsuzo the "Viper", a ruthless gun-for-hire, to assassinate him. As the Viper trails his target through the countryside, the agile Phoenix Tetsu grows concerned that one of his former associates has betrayed him.

Holy Cheese Knives If you are fed up by ordinary manufactured campiness, but still have normal levels of humour.. Which is to say if you find Austin Powers not only boring but trivial, you might check this out. It is high camp. It is ridiculous...
Published February 15, 2024
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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Live Forever Or Die Trying.
Filmmaker(s): Rob Marshall

Captain Jack Sparrow crosses paths with a woman from his past, and he's not sure if it's love -- or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard, Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know who to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.

New Ships The franchise has shifted. The ‘first trilogy‘ was visually-centred. It was quite literally a ride, allowing Depp room to creatively be silly. Some of the cinematic stretch was significant, and I still remember the Shackleford reference fondly. This is something entirely different. Sure,...
Published February 14, 2024
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Thor (2011)
Courage is immortal.
Filmmaker(s): Kenneth Branagh

Against his father Odin's will, The Mighty Thor - a powerful but arrogant warrior god - recklessly reignites an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans as punishment. Once here, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth.

Shakespeare, Shouted I continue to maintain that the least imaginative and cinematically effective production group is not Michael Bay‘s, Jerry Bruckheimer‘s, or that gleeful combination of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. It is Marvel, who time after time think a hard punch is an effective...
Published February 14, 2024
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Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)
Filmmaker(s): Takashi Miike

A nameless gunfighter arrives in a town ripped apart by rival gangs and, though courted by both to join, chooses his own path.

An Unworthy Opponent Sometimes a film presents itself to you as a character, whole in definition, with whom you have to deal. This is possible either because the film has a soul that the artist has created, or because the filmmaker borrows one by hijacking...
Published February 10, 2024
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The Mystery Man (1935)
Stark Drama! A Shadow Creeping Through the Night!
Filmmaker(s): Ray McCarey

Hard-boiled newspaper reporter Larry Doyle (Robert Armstrong) goes a bit too far in celebrating a work bonus and wakes up on a train bound for St. Louis with only a buck on his person. To remedy the problem, Doyle pawns the revolver he's carrying. When the gun is subsequently used in a murder, Doyle's problems only multiply. In the meantime, he's also fallen in love with a comely stranger (Maxine Doyle) he convinced to impersonate his wife.

Prehistoric Fishing Cinematic archeology is what this is all about. The film has lost all its appeal as the hooks have gone out of style. But we can see major chunks that have evolved to what we have now. The basic setup is the fold...
Published February 9, 2024
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Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (2011)
Filmmaker(s): Robert Rodriguez

Eight years after the third film, the OSS has become the world's top spy agency, while the Spy Kids department has since become defunct. A retired spy Marissa is thrown back into the action along with her stepchildren when a maniacal Timekeeper attempts to take over the world. In order to save the world, Rebecca and Cecil must team up with their hated stepmother. Carmen and Juni have since also grown up and will provide gadgets to them.

Multiple Copies I‘m aware that many people like to encounter films as a small, unchallenging adventure. That isn’t possible with me, but I have something similar: sometimes a simple film is a relaxed encounter with the filmmaker, a sort of illustrated visit in his home....
Published February 9, 2024
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Hanna (2011)
Adapt or die.
Filmmaker(s): Joe Wright

Raised by her father, an ex-CIA agent, in the wilds of Finland, Hanna's upbringing has been geared to making her the perfect assassin. Sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys across Europe, eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative. As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence.

Young Angelina Some films spring from the human soul; others are mechanised. A problem is that the commercial process that brings films to us is itself a machine, so we are faced from time to time with the clumsy act of that machine valiantly trying...
Published February 9, 2024
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Colombiana (2011)
Revenge is beautiful.
Filmmaker(s): Olivier Megaton

After witnessing her parents’ murder as a child in Bogota, Cataleya Restrepo grows up to be a stone-cold assassin. She works for her uncle as a hitman by day, but her personal time is spent engaging in vigilante murders that she hopes will lead her to her ultimate target: the mobster responsible for her parents' death.

Episodes of Death Long form is so hard that most films will do anything to get out of it. A standard escape is to have three acts that the viewer will accept as belonging together. Each of these can then be a small story by...
Published February 9, 2024
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Valhalla Rising (2009)
Filmmaker(s): Nicolas Winding Refn

Scandinavia, 1,000 AD. For years, One Eye, a mute warrior of supernatural strength, has been held prisoner by the Norse chieftain Barde. Aided by Are, a boy slave, One Eye slays his captor and together he and Are escape, beginning a journey into the heart of darkness. On their flight, One Eye and Are board a Viking vessel, but the ship is soon engulfed by an endless fog that clears only as the crew sights an unknown land. As the new world reveals its secrets and the Vikings confront their terrible and bloody fate, One Eye discovers his true self.

Teen Dorm Room Posters I recently saw ‘Drive‘ and it puzzled me a bit. It was more effective filmmaking than I was prepared for, and at the same time had less to deliver that I require. The puzzle was why had I not encountered this...
Published February 9, 2024
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