My snarky reviews of Movies, TV series, Food and other happenings...
A new Spielbergian epic classic is born! Fantastic, beautiful direction with a rousing epic storyline that brings you from the back lands of an English farm to the trenches of war, from the French field of hope to barren cemetery of No Man's Land. An equine love story that unabashedly aims to make your eyes moist and heart cheer on for the most unlikely journey a horse can ever make. Jeremy Irvine has a stunning debut and his acting-naïveté is brilliant in bringing out the heart of the story. Nonetheless, all the cast which includes Loki's Tom Hiddleston, Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch and Emily Watson, are just there to support Joey, the eponymous horse. Spielberg's direction is top notch here; a master film-maker and storyteller that knows absolutely how to draw out the suspense and tension, tug at the heartstrings without being overly cheesy, immerse you into the chaos and tragedy of war, but yet also illuminates the ability of love to exist no matter what. He is of course accompanied throughout by the rousing, epic score of John Williams. "War Horse" is not just a story about a boy and his horse, but also about love and war, faith and compassion, equality and hope. The one fault is that this show is how plainly obvious that the film-makers/producers have designed it to break down one's inner grinch. Definite Oscar-bait! Front runner for Best Director, and tied for Best Picture with "The Artist" (drama vs nostalgia). Run, Joey, Run! Next up, "War Goose"!
Update (15 Jan 2012): Looks like many international critics/awards disagree. On hindsight, I still think it was a great show, perhaps too heavy-handed and lacking in the "acting"-wattage to shine.
An absolute crowd-pleaser for the whole family. Pixar has done it again with a four-quadrant winner that resonated across generations and culture. It may not be as (pseudo)-intellectual as Inside Out but it definitely pack a great emotional punch especially in its third act, with a strong story line on the evergreen theme of family vs self and obligation vs passions that never turned schmaltzy. Great voice work all around in particular Anthony Gonzalez and Gael Garcia Bernal, with great music and score from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the duo that gave us the hits from Frozen, and Michael Giacchino who is back - at last - with a mariachi-tinged score that delivered on the emotional journey.
Directed by Lee Unkrich, who also gave us the last real Pixar tearjerker, Toy Story 3, Coco continued Pixar's animation technological supremacy. The film was gorgeous to behold and tiny nuances like the translucency of the skin, the glow of candle light and the luminosity of the …
If nothing else, this was a singularly stunning, breathtakingly gorgeous, absolutely beautiful piece of film. Just give Roger Deakins his Oscar now! As for Dennis Villeneuve, the man is now five for five since his 2010 breakout film Prisoners, and he will surely be in the running for Best Director again this year. His film in itself - prior viewing of the 1982 original not necessary, but does inform the experience - was a surprisingly simple, yet layered noir/science fiction story that was effectively told despite its length (163 minutes) and also, ironically, satisfyingly unresolved. Ryan Gosling stood out and may get a nod but he is in danger of not breaking out of his comfort zone.
The IMAX experience was really worth it here. Not only as a canvas for Deakin's sumptuous cinematography, but also for the excellent sound design and mixing. So far, only this film, Dunkirk, Mad Max: Fury Road pioneer Avatar has really, properly utilised the capabilities of IMAX.
Together with the cast and the creative team, director Joe Wright and writer Anthony McCarten, created a film that was utterly riveting despite all the talking and the 125 minutes run time. But more than that, the film was also surprisingly funny, unexpectedly rousing and heartfelt. This was Wright's best film since Atonement. Gary Oldman was phenomenon in it, just give him the Best Actor Oscar already, and the supporting cast was also stellar, especially the underrated Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James and Ben Mendelsohn. In addition, the cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel and the score by Dario Marianelli (whom also worked with Wright on Atonement) were both absolutely top-notched; similarly, the costume design by Jacqueline Durran was outstanding, as were the makeup and production design. This film was an outstanding creative achievement.
Wright's direction was assured and he paced the story very well, except maybe for a slight lagging in the middle of the second act. Howeve…