Saturday, November 19, 2011

Film Reviews: The Ides of March, Barry Lyndon, The Road

The Ides of March

The days of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is long past. Cynicism is in for political movies, and George Clooney’s newest movie (directed, that is) reflects that. While the system isn’t presented quite as darkly as in something like Syriana (also featuring Clooney), it certainly fits into the mold.

The Ides of March stars Ryan Gosling as Stephen Myers, the idealistic but ambitious young deputy campaign manager for the charismatic and talented Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania Mike Morris (Clooney), who is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination for president. While Morris is the favorite, and leads in the polls, the election is hardly decided, and may hinge on the upcoming Ohio primary. Former candidate Senator Thompson of Ohio (Jeffrey Wright) still hasn’t endorsed anyone, and his support (and his delegates) could be key to victory, but how much will his support cost? As the day of the primary grows closer, Myers gets a call from the rival campaign manager (Paul Giamatti), who insists that there are things Myers doesn’t know. Other plots involve a tenacious reporter (Marisa Tomei), Myers’ semi-paranoid boss (P.S. Hoffman), and a pretty young intern (Evan Rachel Wood).

Friday, November 4, 2011

TV Roundup: Breaking Bad

While its more famous and popular older brother Mad Men* gets most of the attention from AMC’s crop of original programming, Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad is quietly putting an astonishingly high-quality. In fact, I’m going to make a bold claim: Breaking Bad is the best thing I’ve seen on television since The Wire ended its run in 2008.** Having seen up through the third season of this amazing show, I want to talk a little about it. Hard as it’s going to be, I will refrain from spoilers.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Paul's Cinema Chronology, 1997-1998

What I’ve Seen

Air Bud
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Boogie Nights
Cats Don’t Dance
Dante’s Peak
George of the Jungle
Good Will Hunting
Home Alone 3
Jackie Brown
Life is Beautiful
Liar Liar
Men in Black
Princess Mononoke
Starship Troopers
The Big One
The Boxer
The Game
The Rainmaker
The Sweet Hereafter
The Tango Lesson
Wag the Dog
A Night at the Roxbury
Almost Heroes
American History X
Dark City
Jack Frost
Meet Joe Black
My Date with the President’s Daughter
Perfect Blue
Quest for Camelot
Rush Hour
Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love
Smoke Signals
The Big Lebowski
The Opposite of Sex
The Parent Trap
The Prince of Egypt
The Truman Show
48 Total

Friday, September 30, 2011

The 10 Funniest Examples of Unintentional Innuendo in Harry Potter

And now for another dose of juvenile humor, even less mature than last time. My justification for including this on the blog is that there were 8 Harry Potter movies. So what if all of these are from the books? Hopefully I'll have some real content finished soon.

Drumroll Please...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Superman is a Dick

Just 'cuz

Thanks to the hilarious for that.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

TV Roundup: Season 5 of Friday Night Lights, Season 1 of Game of Thrones

Friday Night Lights Season 5

The usually stupendous and occasionally transcendent Friday Night Lights had to come to an end at some point, unfortunately. The show featured a large, expensive ensemble, and was watched by so few people that NBC had no problem pawning it off to DirecTv. And so one of the best things to air on television—and especially on the networks—in many years finished its amazing run with a stellar final season. Note: Spoilers ahead for the first four seasons. If you haven’t seen them…do.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Paul's Cinema Chronology: 1995-1996

What I’ve Seen


Twelve Monkeys

Toy Story

The Usual Suspects






Ghost in the Shell


Dead Man Walking

Canadian Bacon




Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls


Waiting for Guffman


The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Birdcage


Space Jam

Sgt. Bilko


Romeo + Juliet

Muppet Treasure Island

Mission: Impossible


Jerry Maguire

Independence Day

Happy Gilmore


101 Dalmations

33 Total

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Paul's Cinema Chronology: 1990-1994

What I’ve Seen:

Back to the Future Part III
Dances With Wolves
Die Hard 2
Home Alone
Presumed Innocent
The Godfather: Part III
The Hunt for Red October
The Rescuers Down Under
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
Beauty and the Beast
Dead Again
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
The Rocketeer
The Silence of the Lambs
A Few Good Men
Glengarry Glen Ross
Honey I Blew Up the Kid
Malcolm X
My Cousin Vinny
Porco Rosso
The Last of the Mohicans
White Men Can’t Jump
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Groundhog Day
Ninja Scroll
Jurassic Park
Look Who’s Talking Now
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Schindler’s List
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Three Colors: Blue
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Dumb and Dumber
Forrest Gump
Hoop Dreams
Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills
Pulp Fiction
Quiz Show
The Crow
The Hudsucker Proxy
The Lion King
The Mask
The Santa Clause
The Shawshank Redemption
The Swan Princess
54 Total

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Film Reviews: The Tree of Life, The Hangover Part II, and X-Men: First Class

The Tree of Life

Wow, where to begin with this one? I have the strong suspicion that over the next few months and years many critics much more insightful and articulate than I will be writing about this film, and I feel almost presumptuous talking about it. And yet, here I go.

Friday, May 27, 2011

TV Roundup: Season One of Archer, Battlestar Galctica, and Boardwalk Empire

Today I’m debuting what will hopefully become a fairly regular addition to this blog. I write movie reviews with some frequency and have mentioned television quite often, but I have yet to actually review tv shows. In accordance with this being the lair of the Film Czar, that changes today. And yes, I consider television to be film. After all, TV shows are filmed, no? (I plan on writing an essay comparing and contrasting the two media some day, but that’ll have to wait).

I don’t have the time or patience to individually review episodes of television—I recommend this blog for that—so instead I think I’ll step back and review whole seasons of shows after I finish them (or however far I get with a show with which I decide not to continue). I’m starting with three cable shows, for all of which I recently finished the first season. And why not do it alphabetically? So first up is FX’s Archer.

Archer, Season 1

What if there were an American James Bond, only instead of a suave gentleman he was a juvenile, petty, petulant man-child? This is essentially the premise of Archer, a consistently funny animated show that comes, somewhat surprisingly, from FX (it looks like, and has the sensibilities of, something from Adult Swim or Comedy Central).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Film Reviews: Babel, Source Code, The Machinist


It’s a good thing that I generally don’t fault a movie for being “award bait”. Sure it can be funny when they try and miss spectacularly (Australia), or were clearly mismarketed as such (The Men Who Stare at Goats), but unless it ludicrously obviously calibrated for an awards crowd (Crash), I’m usually not offended. Which was good for my enjoyment of Babel.

Paul's Cinema Chronology: 1985-1989

What I’ve Seen
Back to the Future
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The Great Mouse Detective
An American Tail
Three Amigos!
Little Shop of Horrors
Castle in the Sky
The Chipmunk Adventure
The Untouchables
Full Metal Jacket
The Brave Little Toaster
The Princess Bride
Wall Street
Bull Durham
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
A Fish Called Wanda
Die Hard
The Land Before Time
Rain Man
Cinema Paradiso
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Talk Radio
The Naked Gun: From the Files of the Police Squad!
The Abyss
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Back to the Future Part II
34 Total

Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Movie Rating Methodology

Due to criticism from certain dissident elements of the general public, I’ve decided it’s time to lay out how exactly I assign scores to the movies I review. A rubric, so to speak.

Before I go into what each number means, I want to briefly explain how I judge movies. I also want to give a disclaimer: I have officially taken the Hypocritic Oath, which allows me to freely contradict myself whenever convenient. I wouldn’t want any reader to think I’m unlicensed. Anyways, here are the two general elements on which I judge a movie:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Paul's Cinema Chronology: 1980-1984

What I’ve Seen:

The Empire Strikes Back
Clash of the Titans
Raiders of the Lost Arc
Heavy Metal
Blade Runner
The Scarlet Pimpernel
The Secret of NIMH
The Meaning of Life
Return of the Jedi
This is Spinal Tap
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Streets of Fire
Ghost Busters
The Terminator
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
24 Total

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Paul's Film Chronology: The 1970s

What I’ve Seen

The Aristocats
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Dirty Harry
A Clockwork Orange
The Godfather
The Exorcist
Robin Hood
Charlotte’s Web
Young Frankenstein
The Godfather: Part II
Blazing Saddles
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Apple Dumpling Gang
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Barry Lyndon
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Taxi Driver
All the President’s Men
The Rescuers
Star Wars: A New Hope
Saturday Night Fever
Cross of Iron
The Star Wars Holiday Special
Animal House
Life of Brian
Apocalypse Now
32 Total

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reviews: Black Hawk Down, Centurion, Rango

Black Hawk Down

One reviewer famously concluded that Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down was “Saving Private Ryan without the slow parts”. Hyperbole aside, there is something to that. Black Hawk features as visceral battle scenes as any movie ever made, and there is little to no down time once they start. It’s an exhausting experience.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The First Annual "I'm Right" Awards

Welcome to the first annual I’m Right awards, wherein I second-guess the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I’m going to look over the 2011 Oscar race category by category, and reveal my picks. The Shyamalanian twist here is that I’m not going to limit myself to what the Academy nominates; if I think an aspect of a different film is more deserving than any of the nominees, then that’s my pick (which may not happen all that much, actually. By my count I’ve only seen 21 movies from 2010. So we’ll see). Also, whether or not my pick is from the existing nominations, I’ll give a quick rundown of the existing category and how I think they measure up to each other. There a few categorizations with which I disagree (like Hailee Steinfeld being nominated as a supporting instead of lead actress despite having more screentime than any other character), so where that happens I’ll note it and omit it from my order.

And of course, there are a number of nominated movies that I have not yet seen, so those I’ll just ignore.

Here are my arbitrary Oscar picks. In random order.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Paul's Cinema Chronology: The 1960s

What I’ve Seen



Inheret the Wind



One Hundred and One Dalmation

Judgement at Nuremberg


To Kill a Mockingbird

Lawrence of Arabia

Dr. No


The Sword in the Stone

From Russia with Love


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Neindeer

Mary Poppins


Dr. Strangelove


The Sound of Music


A Man for All Seasons

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum


The Jungle Book


Yellow Submarine

Romeo and Juliet


2001: A Space Odyssey


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Age of Consent

24 Total

Monday, February 21, 2011

Paul's Cinema Chronology: The 1950s

What I've Seen

A Streetcar Named Desire
Ace in the Hole
Alice in Wonderland
Roman Holiday
Peter Pan
Seven Samurai
Rear Window
On the Waterfront
Les Diabolique
Lady and the Tramp
Nights of Cabiria
12 Angry Men
Paths of Glory
The Seventh Seal
North by Northwest
The 400 Blows
Some Like it Hot
21 Total

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Paul's Cinema Chronology: Film Until the 1950s

Today I’m debuting a new feature, which I’ll call Paul's Cinema Chronology unless and until I think of something better. The idea is for me to write about the movies I’ve seen in a given year. If I have any specific thoughts on the year I’ll give them, although I doubt I’ll have many. The plan is to list all of the movies I’ve seen from that particular year, then give a top and maybe bottom five with a brief explanation (only a couple of sentences), and finally to mention any notable films from that year that I haven’t yet seen.

Obviously this will be a long-running series, but it won’t be quite as bad as it might sound. For the first few installments I’ll be conglomerating the years; until the late 90s I usually have seen only a handful of movies from any given year. The plan is to cover everything up to 1950 in this first (and probably shortest) entry, then have one each for the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I’ll probably do two to cover the 80s, and then one that covers the first half of the 90s before I get to year-by-year. Also, the point of this isn’t any sort of essay on how a particular time period affected film history. I might possibly write a few things, as I mentioned above (about a particularly interesting Oscar race, for example), but for the most part this is strictly about me. So there.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Ballad of Jack and Rose (Film Review)

The Ballad of Jack and Rose

There are very few actors about whom I can honestly say I’d see anything that they appear in (a larger number of actresses, but that’s not exactly for the same reasons). Of that very small group, Daniel Day-Lewis surely tops the list. He is an incredible actor, one of the best working today, and has impressive screen presence to boot. His appearence in Gangs of New York is one of my top ten favorite movie performances by anyone ever, and he’s almost as good in There Will Be Blood. In addition, he’s one of the most selective actors, willing to spend five years as a cobbler in Venice if he doesn’t like a project.

Black Swan (Film Review)

Black Swan

A movie aptly described (by me) as a live-action version of Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue, Black Swan is a grand example of the ‘mind-fuck’ genre. It’s confusing, f-ed up, and very, very weird. But it’s also engaging, interesting, and visually very cool. And I’m not just referring to a surprisingly steamy scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Love You, Man (Film Review)

I Love You, Man

I Love You, Man is a generally clever and sometimes very funny inversion of the romantic comedy genre. There have been movies about bromances before (Superbad is a well-known recent example), but I’m not aware of one that so gleefully embraces bromantic comedy-hood. The writers have a lot of fun taking very familiar tropes and clichés from more standard romcoms and plugging them into a bromantic context. There’s the “meet-cute”, the friend jealous of the relationship (in this case, of course, it’s Paul Rudd’s fiancée, not a male friend), the awkward meeting with the parents, and dozens more.

Election (Film Review)


When I learned that Bravo Network had named Election as #61 on its list of the 100 funniest movies of all time, I figured they must have been being facetious. That, or presenting a subtle but devastating commentary on the failure of many in the Hollywood machine to come up with something that’s actually clever and humorous. For, you see, this movie is not funny.

Monday, January 17, 2011

To Pixar

In 1995 an unknown animation studio, with a name playing on the word ‘pixel’, released a little movie called Toy Story and changed the way that movie viewers regarded animation. No longer was computer generation reserved for blockbusters' special effects. Instead, within a decade it had almost entirely supplanted the traditional 2D animation, the hand-drawn sort that had dominated the industry since a man named Walter Disney brought Mickey Mouse into the world seventy years earlier.

Which is not, of course, to say that this revolution has been necessarily a good thing. Putting aside the issue of computer versus traditional animation artistically, CG (like any other tool in the industry) has been used to turn out a lot of crap. I saw Barnyard. But the granddaddy of the trend, the seemingly venerable Pixar, has been remarkably successful. In the 16 or so years subsequent to Toy Story they’ve released ten more movies, all of which have been more than profitable. It’s a remarkable streak by industry standards, but perhaps even more astonishing is the sustained quality. Sixteen years and ten movies later, Pixar has yet to release a movie that’s even mediocre, let alone bad. And so, in honor of the American movie studio with the highest batting average, here’s a ranking of all eleven Pixar films, from least good to best.