Year in Film: 2009

A Serious Man

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When A Serious Man was released last year it was widely billed as a “black comedy,” leading me to think it would be something in the vein of The Ladykillers (2004).  The only thing about the Cohen Brothers that is predictable is that each of their new films will offer something unpredictable. Aside from banter […]


Against the Current

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I generally catch new movies at film festivals, and when watching stuff at art house, at home, or with friends, generally watch movies that are at least 25 years old. I occasionally feel that it is somehow my responsibility to keep up with more recent films, but this usually turns into a disappointment, like the […]


Drag Me To Hell

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I am not sure if there is such a thing as an anti-defamation league for little old Hungarian ladies, but if there is they should band together and protest this film. I spent a year in Hungary, and never knew little old Hungarian ladies to be anything other than sweet and friendly. Not is this […]


Hidden Diary

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Titled Mères et filles (“Mothers and Daughters”) in French, this is the story of three generations of women in the same family. Audrey (Marina Hands) plays a single woman who works in Canada as a kitchen appliance designer. She comes back home at short notice and stays for a while with her parents (Catherine Deneuve […]


Julie & Julia

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This movie is really two movies in one, with stories of two women, set 50 years apart in separate continents. Although great pains were taken in the script and editing to draw parallels between the two, Meryl Streep in her spot-on portrayal of TV chef Julia Child really overshadows the rest of the movie. It […]


Looking for Eric

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Although I have been getting into Ken Loach’s movies, I have never been much of a soccer fan, or a fan of any sport for that matter, and so I was not so sure that I wanted to see Looking for Eric. It has also been heavily advertised here in Japan as Loach’s first movie […]


Moon

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With his debut film, Duncan Jones take the science fiction film right back to the era when he was born, in the early ’70s, that is when the genre still had some ideas and social commentary to offer. Moon, about man on a three-year solitary mission to harvest helium3 from the dark side of the […]


My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?

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I was about to begin this sentence with “Werner Herzog’s latest film…”, but it turns out that the always prolific Herzog has already completed two documentaries since he finished My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? In 2009. Anyway, at least I can write “Werner Herzog relatively recent film is a successful experiment in […]


Orphan

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The Bad Seed, about a cute little girl in pigtails who murders when no one is looking, must have been pretty shocking when it was released in 1956. It also established the whole evil kid genre, which has had its high points (The Exorcist, the original The Omen, and Rosemary’s Baby, if that counts) as […]


Sherlock Holmes

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I watched Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes twice in the same day. It wasn’t that I loved it so much the first time around, but I couldn’t understand half of the lines. Robert Downey Jr. had pulled off a perfectly acceptable English accent for Chaplin (1992), so I was not really worried about that. The problem […]


Splice

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How could a film with some rather interesting ideas turn out to be such an unsatisfying viewing experience? The mind baffles. I am also shocked that no less a publication than The New York Times gave this a glowing review. In summary: a couple who both work as genetic engineers have been assigned the project […]


That Evening Sun

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That Evening Sun is really a remarkable little film for a number of reasons. The script, based on a short story by Southern writer William Gay, is engaging and believable, telling the tale of an old man who runs away from the nursing home his son has placed him in and tries to take back […]


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

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Terry Gilliam’s films used to be an endless source of magic for me. Time Bandits is a film I remember watching countless times as a child on TV and the family’s top-loading VCR, and I always felt special that I shared a first name with the protagonist. When I started watching cinema with a slightly […]


Vampire Girl vs.Frankenstein Girl

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I’m continuing to watch films by Yoshihiro Nishimura ahead of my magazine interview with him later this week. While Tokyo Gore Police was a low-budget but very ambitious film about a dystopian Tokyo of the near future with some pretty serious ideas between all the gore and splatter, Vampire Girl vs.Frankenstein Girl, as the name […]


Whatever Works

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Woody Allen has never made a movie I didn’t like. Even the ones that no one seems to like, like Interiors, September, and A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, I love. But as I settled into the first 5 minutes of Whatever Works, I was afraid that a new precedent would be set. I don’t really […]


Where the Wild Things Are

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Like so many other people of my generation, Maurice Sendak’s book was a childhood favorite, and I still have my original, well-worn copy of the book. Many early fans of the book now have kids of their own, and when this film was announced I imagined a lot of young parents forcing their kids to […]


Yuki & Nina

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Yuki & Nina is a beautiful film and my only regret after seeing it was knowing that it would probably never be seen by a wide audience. Yuki (Noë Sampy) is a 9-year-old girl living with her Japanese mother and French father (played co-writer and co-director Hippolyte Girardot, who is directing for the first time). […]


Random Quote

“Oh, they accelerated the growth rate.”
-Dr. April Sommers (Vanessa Williams)
from Ice Spiders