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The King's Speech


Being British and set in the 1920's the film is rather dry. Even the quirky nature of Rush's character, while seemingly defiant, is still very proper, but when paired with the stern, strict, royal Duke of York, Rush's character comes off as a circus clown. This is a testament to both performances.

The King's Speech really is a "buddy cop" movie at it's core. When I see a movie that has two distinctly different personalities reluctantly trying to work together for a common goal, that movie automatically gets places in the "buddy cop" genre. I hate "buddy cop" movies, but this one is classy, heartfelt, and, well true, which helps a little too.

While The King's Speech may not be for everyone, the story is wonderful and the relationship between Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush is what propels the movie forward. The ability of the film makers to elevate one of my least favorite film genres and make a british period piece is what ultimately lands The King's Speech in my top 20 films of the year.

Winter's Bone


There is so little plot in Winter's Bone that it can be summed up in one sentence: An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact. With this little amount story, the film relies heavily on the performances of it's cast. This cast delivers.

This movie belongs to actors Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes. Lawrence is able to convey hope in a world that seems to have none and Hawkes embodies exactly how I would envision what a mountain man drug dealer would be.

Winter's Bone brought me into a world that I'd heard about, but then quickly dismissed as an exaggeration of how it used to be. This is an eye opening film about poverty in our country. Anyone affected by the Bush tax cuts should be required to move to this region and see how people in the United States of America are being forced o live, or, at a minimum, see Winter's Bone.

The Fighter


The Fighter is a success because of Christian Bale with really strong support from Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. The movie was well made, but the writing and direction were just average and Mark Wahlberg was only at his best (which isn't necessarily a compliment), but Bale, Adams, and Leo were exceptional.

The story, which I thought would be the same typical underdog sports story, actually has a little something extra with the unintentional sabotage of Mickey Ward's career by his immediate family (specifically his mother and brother). Some of the worst things have been done with the best intentions and Dickie Ecklund and Alice Ward were just too self-involved to really be on Mickey Wards side.

The Fighter is a remarkable film and is sure to make a few appearances this awards season.

Black Swan


Beautiful and haunting, Black Swan is a powerful film that explores the physical, emotional and mental sacrifices an artist will make for his/her art.

Natalie Portman is amazing in this. I honestly never thought I'd see the day when I'd hear someone refer to her as Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, but not only will she definitely be nominated, she is almost certain to win. Her character's (Nina) obsession with perfection slowly destroys her and Portman's portrayal of Nina's downfall is absolutely breathtaking. Add to that her apparent background in ballet and you get the most memorable performance of the year.

Black Swan is a horror movie for snobs. It's very slowly paced, but is sufficiently creepy. The entire cast is perfect and Darren Aronofsky's direction is spot on. If dark psychological thrillers that mess with your head as much as it messes with the characters is your thing, do not wait another day to see Black Swan.

True Grit


My recommendation of True Grit is based almost entirely around the fact that I really don't enjoy westerns. The fact is that I just don't find them enjoyable as a genre. The color palette is filled with drab tan and brown colors, everyone talks with a southern accent, and action scenes are difficult to make exciting because of the lack of technology (horses and 6 shooters are no sports cars and machine guns).

When I like a western, and it's rare (I can only think of 3 others and one of them doesn't count), it has more to do with the actor's performances and the characters they portray. If the characters aren't intriguing I won't care about anything that's going on. In this case I was really impressed by Hailee Steinfeld's portrayal of 14 year-old Mattie Ross. I enjoyed her character's persistence and her ability to take charge of a situation and control the older characters in the movie. Obviously this would have been impossible without the great writing that she was reading from, but it was her job to convince me believe that this young girl was capable of doing the things she was doing. She convinced me.

Jeff Bridges was good although I couldn't understand most of his drunken, southern, old man, raspy dialect, and Matt Damon was fine too although it really was a strange role for him. Josh Brolin's character was weird and I'm not sure he was the best choice for the role.

I haven't seen the original and I have no desire to. True Grit (2010) was enough for me and since I actually kinda liked it even though I hate westerns, it was probably a very, very good film.



Tangled, Disney's interpretation of Rapunzel, is a fun, colorful and entertaining addition to the holiday season. It's very girly and may not appeal to young boys, despite the suave, witty and adventurous swashbuckling male lead, who is actually going to appeal more to moms than he would to a young male demographic.

This is a princess movie through and through, and I have to say, it's about time Disney went back to their Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty roots. Other than The Princess and the Frog (which I really didn't like) the studio had abandoned their classic tendencies and relied heavily on Pixar or individual "talent" (Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Lindsey Lohan) to rake in the dough for them. While Tangled may not have appealed to me personally, it's success will, hopefully, encourage them to produce more titles like Aladdin, and The Lion King.

Tangled's one flaw is that it might be too quirky for it's own good. Movies like the aforementioned classics take place in a specific time period and region of the world and the characters act appropriately. Tangled is a cartoon and the characters "act" like they're in a cartoon instead of a medieval kingdom; making this movie lighter and cuter than the animated stories from the 1990's.

You should absolutely take the time to check out Tangled. It's beautifully animated and a fun story.

Tron: Legacy 3D

sigh...  No...

... I wanted so bad for this movie to exceed my dismally low expectations and sadly, it was only able to meet them.

Aside from the special effects, Tron: Legacy has very little to offer other that a cool score written by Daft Punk. The performances are either over-epically serious or sickeningly cutesy-cute. Why Disney would put this tent-pole holiday release into the hands of a first time director is mind-blowing, but I'm really not 100% sure that it would have been all that much better in the hands of a seasoned director, anyway.

I think the biggest disappointment is probably special effects related. While the movie was stunning to look at, there was never any huge special effects climax or overly impressive stunt to "wow" the audience beyond the pretty standard effects that fill the movie. The visual effects are just a stagnant aspect of the movie that you'll take for granted by the 30 minute mark.

The story was both overly complicated and irritatingly unoriginal and while the effects were enough to keep me engaged for the length of the movie, I wouldn't necessarily recommend that anyone spend money to see Tron: Legacy unless you are only looking for eye-candy and your standards for what qualifies as eye-candy is on the low side.

The Kids Are Alright


The Kids Are Alright was released in theatres on 7/30/10 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/16/10.

I really liked The Kids Are Alright. Besides the stellar performances from he entire cast, it has an original storyline, great dialogue and an intriguing look into the concept of family without ever exploiting its subject matter.

The Kids Are Alright is a perfect fit for the "dramedy" genre. As long as you have an open mind, this fresh look at contemporary family unit has the perfect mixture of wit, charm, intelligence and earnest. Highly recommended.

The Tourist


Really? A Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture... what a joke. There is nothing "best" about The Tourist. The only explanation for the nomination is that the movie was just released so it  was fresh in the mind's of the Hollywood Foreign Press nominating committee.

That being said, I didn't absolutely HATE The Tourist. There was just nothing there to really like. The story was silly and we just arrived in the middle of it. There was so much going on before the cameras started rolling that they could have made a better movie just from what was left out. There was very little chemistry between Jolie and Depp, however, there was a very strange dynamic between Jolie and Paul Bettany; certainly there was a history (seemingly romantic, based on the tension) between the two of them that the writers failed to explore.

The action wasn't all that intense and the jokes weren't all that funny. I wouldn't even know what genre to classify The Tourist as. While I don't feel like I wasted 2 hours, if I had paid for a ticket, I would have been pissed.

Jonah Hex

No, come on!.

Jonah Hex was released in theatres on June 18th and on Blu-ray and DVD on October 12th.

I had absolutely no interest in seeing Jonah Hex from the second the first trailer hit the screen. I had a hard time watching it and actually had to take a break somewhere in the middle of the less than 90 minute run time, just because I was bored.

If you don't like a genre, it's still possible for you to like the movie because of powerful performances or an interesting, original story. There's very little a movie can to get you interested in the story if you're just not interested. The story in Jonah Hex is... well, virtually non-existent. Since the characters were ALL mean-spirited and ugly and I hate westerns, it was impossible to care about anything that was going on.

Don't bother with this one. Jonah Hex will just make you angry.

The Warrior's Way


I have no idea what that was. It was like a western, kung fu stage play. All of the sets looked like they were backdrops and cardboard cutouts... as did the actors. I mean they must have just told the actors to be as stereotypically westerny/kung fuey as possible...

... and it wasn't so much western as it was a circus movie... there were carnies everywhere and all so that they could put a sniper in the half-built ferris wheel. THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF THE MOVIE WAS BASED AROUND A SINGLE SET PIECE.

Absolute garbage. The movie was greenlit so that the studio would have something to release on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Love and Other Drugs


A good rule of thumb when writing a movie is that you should either put ordinary people in an extraordinary situation, or put extraordinary people in an ordinary situation. When you put ordinary people in ordinary situations, there isn't a whole lot to keep the audience engaged. A drug rep falling in love with someone with Parkinson's disease is a very specific version of an ordinary situation that could happen to anyone. Maybe he won't be a drug rep and maybe she has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Are they gonna make a movie about that, too?

Love and Other Drugs isn't unbearable, but it's definitely not worth the price of a ticket.

Morning Glory


I get when celebrated actors feel the need to do something light, and I'm sure Diane Keaton is a nice lady, but why is she allowed to continue to make schlocky movies. She gets nominated for an Oscar once each decade. The last time was in 2004 for Something's Gotta Give... a romantic comedy... costarring Keanu Reeves and Amanda Peet. Maybe it's time she tries something a little more weighty than the last 5 movies she made (Mad Money, Because I Said So, The Family Stone, Something's Gotta Give and Town and Country). Anyway, she's barely in Morning Glory at all, so I'm not sure why she angered me so much...

... Maybe thats why I didn't like the movie, though. I truly wanted to care about these people, but really didn't have enough time to get to know them. The movie was too much about the show they producing and not enough about the people who were producing the show.

Morning Glory is one of those movies that, as a two hour film, is pretty inconsequential, but as an HBO or AMC character study, where we might learn to like some of these people and get to know them on a deeper level, it might have been entertaining.

Due Date


Due Date was funny... but not funny enough for me to recommend. It really is just a road trip movie with Alan Garner (from The Hangover) and Tony Stark (Iron Man). The wackiness that ensues is all clearly set up leaving no room for surprises.

I have to say that, with Due Date coming from the same director as The Hangover, I really had higher hopes than I should have, so it's partially my fault. At the end of the day, Due Date just misses the mark.

It'll make a fine rental one day, but don't waste a trip to the theatre.