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Real Steel (2011)
Courage is stronger than steel.
Filmmaker(s): Shawn Levy

Charlie Kenton is a washed-up fighter who retired from the ring when robots took over the sport. After his robot is trashed, he reluctantly teams up with his estranged son to rebuild and train an unlikely contender.

Frankenstein It seems that a successful Hollywood script is one that seems to do something new by recycling trusted parts of bankable film ideas. This one — to judge from the tickets sold — picked good enough bits. Father stuff; coming of age stuff; techno;...
Published February 9, 2024
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Never Let Me Go (2010)
These students have everything they need. Except time.
Filmmaker(s): Mark Romanek

As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy spend their childhood at an idyllic and secluded English boarding school. As they grow into adults, they must come to terms with the complexity and strength of their love for one another while also preparing for the haunting reality awaiting them.

Love, Loss and Lasting Movies are first and foremost a personal adventure from which we choose urges. Some of these we use to grow, and others to reinforce the accidents of self. Because of this, movies that depend on romance are necessarily in a different...
Published February 9, 2024
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The Rum Diary (2011)
One part outrage. One part justice. Three parts rum. Mix well.
Filmmaker(s): Bruce Robinson

Tired of the noise and madness of New York and the crushing conventions of late Eisenhower-era America, itinerant journalist Paul Kemp travels to the pristine island of Puerto Rico to write for a local San Juan newspaper run by the downtrodden editor Lotterman. Adopting the rum-soaked lifestyle of the late ‘50s version of Hemingway’s 'The Lost Generation', Paul soon becomes entangled with a very attractive American woman and her fiancée, a businessman involved in shady property development deals.  It is within this world that Kemp ultimately discovers his true voice as a writer and integrity as a man.

Accusatory Giblet I have no idea whether powerful art requires pain in the creator. I suspect not. But it is an unhappy fact that the actors that I appreciate must be seriously incomplete when not acting. Sean Penn and Robert Downey are the most interesting...
Published February 9, 2024
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A Dangerous Method (2011)
Why deny what you desire the most.
Filmmaker(s): David Cronenberg

Seduced by the challenge of an impossible case, the driven Dr. Carl Jung takes the unbalanced yet beautiful Sabina Spielrein as his patient. Jung’s weapon is the method of his master, the renowned Sigmund Freud. Both men fall under Sabina’s spell.

Dream Wetness Doggone. Here is one of the most compelling and deep stories in history. And we have a filmmaker who knows the territory well and has changed my life elsewhere. But the magic is missed here because someone made the decision to show us...
Published February 9, 2024
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The Artist (2011)
A breath of fresh vintage air
Filmmaker(s): Michel Hazanavicius

Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.

Dustcovers I am spending a lot of recent time with my list of essential films, reviewing and enhancing it. Several readers have suggested this film for that list. It has several characteristics that appeal. It is a movie about movies. It is made with movie-making...
Published February 9, 2024
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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
A fire will rise.
Filmmaker(s): Christopher Nolan

Following the death of District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman assumes responsibility for Dent's crimes to protect the late attorney's reputation and is subsequently hunted by the Gotham City Police Department. Eight years later, Batman encounters the mysterious Selina Kyle and the villainous Bane, a new terrorist leader who overwhelms Gotham's finest. The Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.

Dickensian Cleanliness What, what a difference between this and any Marvelmanaged film! Nolan (with wife and brother) have clearly refined this script a few times. There is a lot of story to cram in, and a few necessary inflection points to destabilise us. They impress,...
Published February 9, 2024
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Life of Pi (2012)
Believe The Unbelievable
Filmmaker(s): Ang Lee

The story of an Indian boy named Pi, a zookeeper's son who finds himself in the company of a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck sets them adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

30 Million Sephiroth How is it that Scorsese can get 3D so wrong and someone like Ang Lee get it so right? Sure, there is some dimensional silliness — a hummingbird in the first few moments… a message thrown into the water that lands in...
Published February 8, 2024
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Innocence (2004)
The end of innocence...the beginning of life.
Filmmaker(s): Lucile Hadzihalilovic

At an unusual private school for girls, new students, including young Iris, show up in coffins. The establishment's teachers, Mademoiselle Eva and Mademoiselle Edith, introduce Iris and her fellow pupils to the school's curriculum, which includes fairy-like dances through a nearby forest. When night falls, the older girls, who are on the threshold of womanhood, are then given mysterious, life-changing lessons.

Moving Into “Institute Benjamenta” folded into “Picnic at Hanging Rock” “Maladolescenza” folded into “Stalker” “Yume“ folded into “Drowning with numbers” “Au revoir les enfants” folded into “Suspiria“ “Sex and Lucia” folded into “Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary” These movements formed into a star. That...
Published February 7, 2024
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The Great Gatsby (2013)
Dream dangerously.
Filmmaker(s): Baz Luhrmann

An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Long Island-set novel, where Midwesterner Nick Carraway is lured into the lavish world of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. Soon enough, however, Carraway will see through the cracks of Gatsby's nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.

Moulin Green When I saw Moulin Rouge,’ I knew that life would change, because film would have an added mainstream vocabulary. We would embrace it and adjust our dreams and intuitions. And indeed we have had Nolan ascendant. Even TeeVee has shifted. Oddly, after that...
Published February 6, 2024
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Gravity (2013)
Don't let go.
Filmmaker(s): Alfonso Cuarón

Dr. Ryan Stone, a brilliant medical engineer on her first Shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky in command of his last flight before retiring. But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The Shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone-tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness of space. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.

The Other Red Shoe One use of science fiction is to purify the threads of a story by displacing them from the distracting familiar. This gives more than clarity; it often frees the narrative to rest in our souls rather than our eyes, rather like...
Published February 6, 2024
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