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Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
When patriots become heroes
Filmmaker(s): Joe Johnston

During World War II, Steve Rogers is a sickly man from Brooklyn who's transformed into super-soldier Captain America to aid in the war effort. Rogers must stop the Red Skull – Adolf Hitler's ruthless head of weaponry, and the leader of an organization that intends to use a mysterious device of untold powers for world domination.

Shifting Interiors It just doesn’t make any sense to me, how consistently bad Marvel‘s films are. Perhaps someone who loves the comics can be transported out of the movie into some well established fantasy world. In that case, all you need are a few cues....
Published February 9, 2024
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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
The game is afoot.
Filmmaker(s): Guy Ritchie

There is a new criminal mastermind at large (Professor Moriarty) and not only is he Holmes’ intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil and lack of conscience may give him an advantage over the detective.

Intermediaries This is a new genre, I think. You go to it not so much for what it is, but what it points to, and what filters have been applied. Perhaps the genre was cemented with the Depp Pirate movies which had noise and story,...
Published February 9, 2024
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Red State (2011)
Fear God.
Filmmaker(s): Kevin Smith

Set in Middle America, a group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter Christian fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.

State Shifting Suppose you are a filmmaker with one skill only. You know it; you have milked it as much as you can and want to grow. Kevin Smith has one talent only: to create and effectively present a world that is a bit different....
Published February 9, 2024
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Gamer (2009)
In the near future, you don't live to play... you'll play to live.

Mind-control technology has taken society by a storm, a multiplayer on-line game called "Slayers" allows players to control human prisoners in mass-scale. Simon controls Kable, the online champion of the game. Kable's ultimate challenge becomes regaining his identity and independence by defeating the game's mastermind.

Controlled Iris The story is that insipid kind made fun of even by Robert Rodriguez. The characters are not worthy of the concept. But never mind that. What interests me in these projects is how the cinematic vocabulary is pushed, and how we adapt our...
Published February 9, 2024
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Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
The invasion we always feared. An enemy we never expected.
Filmmaker(s): Michael Bay

The Autobots continue to work for NEST, now no longer in secret. But after discovering a strange artifact during a mission in Chernobyl, it becomes apparent to Optimus Prime that the United States government has been less than forthright with them.

Panopticon Defects Sometimes you simply get proved wrong. I was wrong and I admit it. When I saw the first Transformers movie, I thought I was seeing something that advanced the cinematic vocabulary. The movie was still otherwise worthless, and the advance was in the...
Published February 9, 2024
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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
No plan. No backup. No choice.
Filmmaker(s): Brad Bird

Ethan Hunt and his team are racing against time to track down a dangerous terrorist named Hendricks, who has gained access to Russian nuclear launch codes and is planning a strike on the United States. An attempt to stop him ends in an explosion causing severe destruction to the Kremlin and the IMF to be implicated in the bombing, forcing the President to disavow them. No longer being aided by the government, Ethan and his team chase Hendricks around the globe, although they might still be too late to stop a disaster.

The Unused Helo I saw this close to seeing the third Transformer movie, and the lessons are clear. That other film was unconstrained, had no coherence other than the external reference to the world order established by the toy manufacturer. This film in contrast is...
Published February 9, 2024
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Deep Water (2006)

DEEP WATER is the stunning true story of the fateful voyage of Donald Crowhurst, an amateur yachtsman who enters the most daring nautical challenge ever – the very first solo, non-stop, round-the-world boat race.

Magellenic Trim There are the things you do and things you do not, the line between describing a life. Ideally at the end you will have drawn something beautiful. Superficially, this is one superb documentary. It is really well put together and by grace has...
Published February 9, 2024
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Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
First Contact. Last Stand.
Filmmaker(s): Jon Favreau

A stranger stumbles into the desert town of Absolution with no memory of his past and a futuristic shackle around his wrist. With the help of mysterious beauty Ella and the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde, he finds himself leading an unlikely posse of cowboys, outlaws, and Apache warriors against a common enemy from beyond this world in an epic showdown for survival.

Golden Womb I’ll let others talk about the nature of the disaster here. There are so many disintegrated narrative chunks in this stew that you are forced to grab onto one. The one that fascinates me is what ‘the girl‘ is all about. In the...
Published February 9, 2024
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Red Cliff (2008)
The future will be decided.
Filmmaker(s): John Woo

In 208 A.D., in the final days of the Han Dynasty, shrewd Prime Minster Cao convinced the fickle Emperor Han the only way to unite all of China was to declare war on the kingdoms of Xu in the west and East Wu in the south. Thus began a military campaign of unprecedented scale. Left with no other hope for survival, the kingdoms of Xu and East Wu formed an unlikely alliance.

Tectonic Extremes I am not a fan of Woo, and the reason becomes more stark when you compare this to Zhang‘s work. Zhang creates a world of grace in which people move, affected by the laws of that world. They can act, based on the...
Published February 9, 2024
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Ong Bak 2 (2008)
Warrior. Conqueror. Legend.
Filmmaker(s): Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai

Moments from death a young man is rescued by a renowned warrior. Realizing unsurpassed physical potential in the young boy he trains him into the most dangerous man alive. As he becomes a young man he goes on a lone mission of vengeance against the vicious slave traders who enslaved him as a youth and the treacherous warlord who killed his father.

Costume Trunk I was directed to this because I am interested in cinematic choreography. From a practical perspective, that usually means martial arts. Further, it means Asian films. But gee they sure get tedious after the first few unless there really is a master behind...
Published February 9, 2024
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