Review / “Hugo”

My review of Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is now available over at Parcbench.  An excerpt:

“Though Martin Scorsese’s Hugo has been marketed as a “family film,” I can assure you that only the young ones who have taken a shine to cinema will really get something out of it.  Yet some critics seem to be reviewing Hugo based on what it’s marketed as, versus what it actually is.  What Hugo isn’t, is a homogenized romp that is “fun for the whole family,” as the marketing would have you believe.  What it actually is, is a family-friendly celebration of the human touch that made the silent-era of cinema so special, and indeed makes a great deal of art so charming.  Aesthetically, Hugo is a very modern film, making liberal use of CGI and 3D effects, yet it uses today’s technology to create a magical lens through with it looks back fondly on a time when a special effect was created by the simple act splicing two frames together with glue.”

Head on over to Parcbench to read the rest!

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Blu ray Review / “Conan the Barbarian”

My review of the remake of Conan the Barbarian is up, now available on Blu-ray.  An excerpt:

“There was a refrain among film fans when it was announced that Conan the Barbarian was getting a reboot that no one could replace Arnold Schwarzenegger in titular role.  It’s a tired line of thinking that happens any time a role a certain actor made famous is getting recast (remember when no one could replace Jack Nicholson as The Joker?).  In regards to Conan, people forget (possibly because they’ve never bothered to read the source material) that Arnold’s version of Conan barely resembled the character created by Robert E. Howard, the mad, young, suicidal pulp writer from Cross Plains, Texas who conceived the character.”

Head on over to Parcbench to read the rest!

Review / “Melancholia”

My review of Lars Von Trier’s haunting film Melancholia is now available over at Parcbench.  An excerpt:

Melancholia is a film that lives up to its title, as Lars Von Trier’s latest film perfectly captures the state of someone with a hopelessly depressive worldview.  It would make an interesting double-bill with Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, in that while Malick’s film celebrates the beauty that life itself has to offer, Melancholia‘s tone imbues the audience with a feeling of what it’s like to see life as an ultimately futile experience.  It’s like the teenage son who utters “What’s the point?” with disdain when his mother asks him to just get out of bed already by noon.  This sort of angst seems obnoxious to those who aren’t depressed, but it doesn’t mean those feelings aren’t somehow genuine.

Head on over to Parcbench to read the rest!

Review / “The River Why”

My review of The River Why, now available on Blu-ray and DVD, has been published over at Parcbench.  An excerpt:

The River Why is one of those rare films about fishing, an activity that seldom gets dwelled upon in movies.  Mostly, it’s a film about the relationship between man and nature, a subject that has been explored by many different artists with many different takes on it.  The River Why is a movie that does a couple of things well.  Like most movies that take place in nature’s kingdom, the cinematography is lovely, courtesy of Karsten Gopinath.  Given that it deals with fishing, it also captures a few moments in a way that seasoned fly-fisherman can relate to, such as unwanted encounters with less-experienced fisherman who inadvertently ruin a local spot by plunking in with their amateur rods and reels.  This is roughly all the good stuff The River Why has to offer.

Head on over to Parcbench to read the rest!

Review / “The Ides of March”

My review of George Clooney’s The Ides of March went up yesterday over at Parcbench!

A sample:

“George Clooney is Hollywood star who has never been shy about his left-of-center politics, so whenever he directs a politically-oriented film, it causes ears to perk up.  His latest movie, The Ides of March, features Clooney as a politician running in the Democratic primary, who plays as a mix of Bill Clinton’s governor running on his record and Barack Obama’s vapid cult of personality, all wrapped in Clooney’s screen charisma.  This gives Clooney a few opportunities to espouse what are clearly his political views from the podium, which contain various liberal talking points and, much like our current president, promises no one could keep, including the elimination of the internal combustion engine in four years and free puppies for everyone.  But Clooney wisely keeps his politics in the background for the most part, not using it as a vehicle for his views, but rather as the setting for a tight, solid thriller that is well-acted, well-written, and directed with a steady hand.”

Head on over to Parchbench and read the rest!

Review / “Real Steel”

My review of Shawn Levy’s Real Steel, starring Hugh Jackman, is now available over at Parcbench!

A sample:

            “Boxing movies are about as American as Budweiser, apple pie, and hitting mailboxes with a baseball bat while drunkenly speeding down a residential road.  Ever since Rocky gave America reprieve from the wave of cynical movies raining piss on this great nation of ours in the seventies, Hollywood has consistently made boxing movies for our enjoyment.  Even when they suck, there’s something about seeing a plucky underdog take on the champ and either win the day, or lose for the right reasons.  Seeing that little scrapper train his way from zero to hero has had audiences shadowboxing their way out of the theater and contracting diseases from consuming raw eggs for decades.  Then, for some reason, Shawn Levy, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, and Don Murphy, decided that robots had to be involved this time.  Now we have this thing called Real Steel.”

Head on over to Parcbench to read the rest!

Anthrax Returns to “Worship Music”

I’m going to start writing album reviews for Parcbench more regularly, with a primary focus on metal releases, since that’s obviously my forte.  I’ve been talking a bit on this site about Anthrax’s heavily anticipated new album, Worship Music, and I finally have it reviewed, so go take a look.

30 Minutes or Less Cooks a Lean Crime Comedy

My review of 30 Minutes or Less, which comes out today, is now available over at Parcbench.  An excerpt:

“With this film and Zombieland, director Ruben Fleischer is proving to be one of the better comedy directors working in Hollywood.  Comedy is a genre that works well in the short form, the longer you stretch it out, the tougher going it’s going to be, so anything longer than ninety minutes is pushing it.  There are plenty of great comedy films that clock in at two-plus hours (The Blues Brothers comes to mind), but most comedies that stick it out that long wear out their welcome.  The army of comedy actors, writers, and directors that dominate comedy today are largely the product of L.A. sketch comedy troupes, and the films they make have become increasingly sketch-based, and therefore less focused in terms of narrative.”

Head on over to Parcbench and read the rest!