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Road To The Oscars 2013

IN THE February 18 ISSUE

FROM THE 2013 Articles,
andMovies
SECTIONS

by KRL Staff

It’s that time of year again–time for the Oscars! So once again we are reviewing several of the Oscar nominees this week as we lead up to the Oscars on Sunday on ABC with coverage beginning at 7e/4p. Check back daily for more Oscar movie reviews and check out Oscar 2013 event page for a listing of all of the nominees!

Life of Pi
Review by Summer Lane

One boy. One boat. One tiger.

Thus begins possibly one of the most unorthodox survival stories of all time. When the 16 year-old Indian boy Pi Patel gets stranded on a lifeboat with a 450 pound Royal Bengal Tiger, things don’t look so good. But you might be surprised at how one tiger and one boy can help each other survive.

Life of Pi, to me, was a book that I misplaced in my closet for three years before I found it again. When I read it, I couldn’t put it down and found myself finishing the entire novel in just one evening. Naturally I had to see the movie when it was released in November. I wasn’t disappointed.

Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s brilliant literary masterpiece is simply incredible. Everything from the acting to the CGI tiger is breathtaking. The scenes in the lifeboat and everything in between–especially the scenes during the storm–are amazing. The music is beautiful, the graphics are beautiful, and the story is beautiful. It is, as Pi says, “A story that will make you believe in God.” It’s a movie that leaves audiences with hope and a belief in the most unlikely of friendships, perseverance against great odds and dealing with tragedy. There are few movies that can measure up to the outstanding story and lovely setting of Life of Pi. Seriously. This one is Oscar gold.

Life Of Pi Is Nominated For:
Best Picture
Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Summer Lane is a freelance writer with thousands of published articles on a variety of topics. She’s also a published novelist, publicist, book reviewer and cat lover. Her book, Snappy Social Networking, is available now! You can contact Summer for reviews or writing on her blog.


Zero Dark Thirty

Review by Ryne Preheim (reposted from January 2013)

Zero Dark Thirty is a slow-paced, political and military filled informational movie. The movie starts out in Pakistan with an interrogation scene between Dan (Jason Clarke, Public Enemies, Lawless) and an Al Qaeda informant. Into the interrogation you meet the main character of the film Maya (Jessica Chastain, The Help, Tree of Life). From this point you will follow Maya and her search for information leading to the capture or death of Osama Bin Laden.

Now be warned, this movie is not for the faint of heart, but it is very informational. This movie stumbles at points when trying to convey information to the audience. I would often find myself trying to tie pieces together to figure out what was going on within the story line. The plot will often shift from entirely different years, and give you new information to process, which makes it hard to differentiate between what information is viable and what information has been thrown out.

Character development is hard to notice in anyone besides Maya herself, and even then it leaves something to be desired. I often felt detached from the characters to the point where one of them could die and you wouldn’t even bat an eye. Throughout the film, names are left out; I found myself listening closely to conversations just to try and pick up the name of the person Maya was talking to. And don’t expect any last names besides one or two. Characters are often introduced by their first name and only their first name, so good luck trying to figure out anything about the characters, and at points they would introduce a new character and expect you to know who they were or what their position was within the C.I.A. without even a name.

The actors portrayal of the characters left me wanting more, but I can’t really blame them, the script didn’t really give any of them (besides Jessica Chastain) a chance to express their character emotions fully. It was hard to create a bond between yourself and the person on the screen. Jason Clarke and Jessica Chastain did the best job out of the entire cast, but that is only because they had the most screen time and the most opportunities to express their characters and their motives.

In conclusion, while there were moments that I did like about the film, I often found myself confused and wanting to know more about the story being portrayed in the film. I think this movie might have been rushed out of production and not polished quite enough for the audience to understand the movie without seeing it once or twice. Finally, if you like military thrillers then this movie could be interesting to you, but keep your ears open to every single detail or you will miss something vital in the story line, for everyone else, I would not recommend this film, it deprives the audience of information and is too long to sit through, overall I give it a 2.5/5.

Zero Dark Thirty Is Nominated For:
Best Picture
Actress In A Leading Role Jessica Chastain
Film Editing, Sound Editing, Writing (Original Screenplay)

Ryne Preheim is a junior at Immanuel High School, he enjoys acting, and improv comedy. He has acted for four years now mostly for the Immanuel High School drama program. He has lived in Reedley his entire life. He is the son of Paul and Candi Preheim and has three siblings, Mallory, Courtney, and Hayley.


Other Oscar Nominated Movies That KRL has reviewed:

Skyfall
Snow White And The Huntsman
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
Wreck-It-Ralph
Prometheus

Argo
Review by Hannah Hudson

My friend Matt hates Ben Affleck with a passion. But he is fair in his judgments, however sharp. When some friends and I saw that Argo was up for Best Picture, we wondered what Matt would say. He was pulling an all nighter and decided to watch it and report back to us. Before he saw it he said, “I’d say it is a 100% chance [of winning Best Picture]. Hollywood saves hostages? Slam dunk.”

This synopsis hadn’t occurred to me. But I can see it. In the movie a very hairy Affleck-the-Actor plays hero Tony Mendez, a CIA technical operations officer, who is brought into the situation room to give his opinion on the greatest rescue plans the government can scrape together to rescue Americans trapped in rioting Iran. Bicycles and costumes?! This is how we’re going to get six souls out of hostile territory?!

Tony later is inspired by his young son’s interest in science fiction things and works together with Hollywood moguls to make a fake movie/real rescue happen. Along the way, he faces doubting higher-ups and on the ground ‘almost caught!’ anxiety, all climaxing with a phone call lynch pin series that I’ve seen too many times before.

All throughout the movie I kept thinking, “Ah, this is a method Affleck-the-Director is using to keep us on the edge of our seats. It probably didn’t happen like this. But it’s still fun.”

Matt reported, “I thought it lacked a character to relate to. Affleck was boring. It will win the Oscar because it was a story of Hollywood saving people’s lives. I just thought the whole thing was predictable.”

I found the movie a good story and left the theater satisfied. But much like Avatar, it’s a story line that’s been seen before and is successful; it just has different ‘skins’ on the players and environment. Which, by the way, I thought was the best thing of the movie! People dressed like that when I was a kid! Those big glasses and clothes really took me back.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I wouldn’t pick it for Best Picture compared to some of the other ones, but it’s definitely an interesting story ‘based on real events’.

Argo Is Nominated For:

Best Picture
Actor In A Supporting Role Alan Arkin
Film Editing
Music (Original Score)
Sound Editing
Sound Mixing
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) Chris Terrio

Hannah is a Social Media Manager based out of Reedley, CA, where she attends college for Forestry and Recreation. She’s a native of Detriot, MI and found herself in the Central Valley after a summer working at Sequoia Lake YMCA camps. Valley life has been good to her, and she’s currently looking at ways to get involved in her community and make a difference.

Silver Linings Playbook
Review by Jesus Ibarra (Reposted from earlier this year)

If you saw the trailers for Silver Linings Playbook, you probably thought you would be getting another raunchy romantic comedy starring two of the hottest actors right now: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Well let me tell you these trailers were completely misleading. I am not the biggest fan of rom coms, but I loved the talent involved with this movie. Aside from the leads, the film also includes Robert DeNiro, Jackie Weaver, and Julia Stiles.

I figured it would be more of the raunchy comedies similar to Judd Apatow movies, but boy I was wrong. I loved this movie though for very different reasons than I thought I would. The basic plot is Pat (Bradley Cooper) moves back into his parents home, played by Robert DeNiro and Jackie Weaver, after getting released from a mental health facility after an eight month stay as part of a plea bargain. (Pat is diagnosed as bipolar) Determined to get his job, house and estranged ex-wife back, Pat stumbles on to widowed Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who is mysterious, hot, smart, has a witty foul mouth, and her own mental health problems. The interactions between both characters is where most of the movie happens.

This may sound like your typical rom com setup, but it isn’t that at all. This movie is about people struggling with mental illness and trying to function with reality. The first half of the movie or so shows you exactly how messed up Tiffany and Pat are, but it isn’t incredibly depressing. But if you have experienced any of what the characters have gone through it will strike a chord like it did with me.

My favorite part of the movie was Jennifer Lawrence, who has amazing chemistry with everyone. She is just freaking amazing, not to knock Bradley Cooper’s performance which was great too. Every scene she is in she kills it. She is just perfect, you would not believe she was only about twenty when she filmed this. She sells the material, and is so damn talented she held her own with every actor including Robert DeNiro.

The other highlight is the fantastic dialogue which just flows from actor to actor sounding natural and witty. These characters sounded like actual people. The movie is more of a drama, with some romantic and comedic elements. However, the ending is a bit cliché, but the movie and the actors sell it. For me as someone who isn’t particularly normal, I loved the movie because it highlights how non normal people can be.

Editor’s note:
I just saw this movie myself and loved it. I loved it because it was real, and it gave hope. Bradley Cooper has talked in interviews about the stigma of mental illness and the way this David O. Russell directed film treats mental illness as something that doesn’t have to beat you if you have the right support system. I will definitely be rooting for Silver Linings Playbook during this year’s Oscars!

Silver Linings Playbook is Nominated For:
Best Picture
Actor In A Leading Role Bradly Cooper
Actor In A Supporting Role Robert De Niro
Actress In A Leading Role Jennifer Lawrence
Directing David O. Russell
Film Editing Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) David O. Russell

Jesus Ibarra is 20 years old and currently attends UCLA; with a love of all media, he’s always on the lookout for the best finds.

Les Miserables
Review by Terrance Mc Arthur (Reposted from 2012)

I tried to read Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, once. I didn’t get very far.

I saw the stage musical of Les Miserables, once. I was really impressed.

I just saw the Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) directed film of the musical, and I cried in the emotional parts, grabbed on to the nearest hand at some shocking moments (Sorry, lady, whoever you are), and this movie is battering away at the brain cells of my memory, carving its way into permanent residence.

For those of you who hate musicals and are wondering who this guy Les is and why he’s so miserable, I will give a quick explanation while all the fans complain about the parts I’m omitting:

Near the end of Napoleon’s reign, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) serves 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread and trying to escape from custody. Falling to temptation, he steals from a kindly bishop (Colm Wilkinson, the original star of the stage musical) who forgives Valjean and sets him on a path of kindly actions. Breaking parole, Valjean becomes a businessman and a beloved mayor, but is sought by Javert (Russell Crowe), a strict-constructionist lawman who doesn’t believe in the possibility of rehabilitation. In remorse for mishandling a workplace dispute that set Fantine (Anne Hathaway) into a spiral of degradation and death, he vows to look after her child, who is in the “care” of the Thénardiers (Sasha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter), two slimy innkeepers. In 1832 Paris, the girl, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), now a beauty, attracts the eye of Marius (Eddie Redmayne), a student involved in a political revolt (Not THE French Revolution, only one of many French political upheavals that most Americans have never heard about). Marius is loved unrequitedly by Eponine Thénardier (Samantha Barks), and a lot of characters cross when the barricades arise and the fighting begins.

Hooper tells most of the film in tight close-ups that let you count Redmayne’s freckles, but the camera also soars from the depths of the slums to panoramic heights above the streets of the city. I love the stage musical, but the intimacy of the screen allows us to see more of the details and moments that would take watching many productions to catch. Onstage, there is a necessary stylization, but the grit here is real and really gritty…and it’s in your face.

Jackman appears gaunt and haggard as a prisoner, gradually acquiring a nimbus of saintliness as he strives to help others and do what is right, even if he has to knock out people and steal their clothes to do it. His singing (and almost everything is sung—this is closer to Grand Opera than My Fair Lady) creates the emotional framework for his character’s journey from hate to hope. Don’t expect metal blades to sprout from his hands, but they would have come in handy in several situations.

Crowe has a singing style that doesn’t match most of the cast, but you have to watch his eyes as he tries to understand the mercy shown by Jean Valjean. Hooper puts Crowe atop a lot of parapets and railings, walking the edges, a metaphor for Javert’s view of the law.

Seyfried (Big Love, Mamma Mia!) is supposed to look pretty and sweet, and that’s all that the role allows an actress to do, the equivalent of the Prince in classic Disney animated features. She does it. Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn) sings well, shining in the “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” number. I’m concerned that I have actually liked Sasha Baron Cohen (Borat) in two movies (Hugo and here), but he makes a wonderful scoundrel and works well with Carter in the “Master of the House” sequence (the credits list a Pickpocket Consultant, and you have to watch their moves to believe it!)

Hathaway morphs from her usual Goody-Two-Shoes image into an emaciated, dying prostitute with enough energy to sear “I Dreamed a Dream” into your heart with a boatload of Oscar buzz. She loses her job, her dignity, her hair, and her teeth (It’s in the book!), but she remains defiant against her fate.

Even if you don’t like musicals, there is something for you: (to quote The Princess Bride) Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…(OK, no giants or monsters, but you can’t have everything).

Les Miserables Is Nominated For:
Best Picture
Actor In A Leading Role Hugh Jackman
Actress In A Supporting Role Anne Hathaway
Costume Design, Makeup, Production Design, Sound Mixing
Music (Original Song) Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg
Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Terrance V. Mc Arthur is a California-born, Valley-raised librarian/entertainer/writer. He lives in Sanger, four blocks from the library, with his wife, his daughter, and a spinster cat.

Flight
Review by Larry Ham

Sometimes we as human beings do something human beings have been doing since the beginning of time – we assume. I won’t repeat the old saying about assuming, but the old assumption bug bit me good when I watched Flight. What I thought I was going to get, I didn’t get, and I felt disappointed and slightly cheated in the end.

Flight is the story of an alcoholic airline pilot who saves a doomed jetliner and still must face the consequences of his lifestyle. Denzel Washington stars as the pilot, Whip Whitaker, and gives a great performance, as he always does. In fact, the reason I wanted to see this movie is the fact that Denzel Washington is perhaps the best American actor out there right now. Kelly Reilly is also very good as a drug addicted woman befriended by Whitaker.

I have no problem with the acting in this movie, and the cinematography is wonderful, especially the scenes of the plane flight and crash, but I have a serious problem with the story line and the outrageous amount of foul language.

I wanted to love this movie, and I was very much looking forward to seeing it. Flight could have been a compelling story of a pilot who performed a heroic act and had to go through the process of proving that it was a mechanical failure somewhere in the plane, and not pilot error, that caused the accident. That’s certainly the way the film was portrayed in the trailer, but instead, director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter John Gatins chose to turn it into a seemingly endless series of profanity laced tirades and alcoholic binges.

I’m not a prude. I worked at a bowling alley, so I know all those words and I’ve heard them all recited in every combination possible. But the over the top profanity in Flight was unnecessary. Period. The need to portray Whitaker as a sleaze ball who drank 24/7 and was only able to fly a plane after a few toots of coke could have been accomplished with one tenth as much profanity, and I really feel it was a distraction from what was going on, on the screen.

Washington won an Oscar nomination for his performance, and Gatins was nominated for best original screenplay. It’ll be interesting to see if they win. I can see Washington winning, but I’ll be disappointed if Gatins wins. He took a potentially great story and turned it into Scareface meets Airport 1975.

Flight Is Nominated For:
Actor In A Leading Role (Denzel Washington)
Writing Original Screenplay (Written by John Gatins)

Larry Ham is an ongoing contributor to our
Area Arts & Entertainment section where he covers local sports–something he has a great deal of experience in having covered many an area school game through the years for KRDU radio in Dinuba.

The Hobbit
Review by Summer Lane (reposted from December 2012)

“My Dear Frodo…while I can honestly say that I have told you the truth, I may not
have told you all of it.”

Yes, it’s story time.

Bilbo Baggins, a respectable hobbit from Bag End in the Shire, doesn’t like adventures. They “make you late for dinner,” as he says. But when a nomadic wizard who we all know and love drops in with a company of dwarves on a quest to retrieve a lost treasure, Bilbo finds himself in the middle of a…well, an adventure.

How quickly Bilbo (Martin Freeman) goes from smoking his pipe, reading books and stowing away goods in his pantry to braving the wilderness of Middle Earth with Gandalf (Ian McKellan), Thorin Oakenshield (the Dwarf Heir) and the other members of the troupe. Pretty soon they’re running away from Orcs, Goblins and in Bilbo’s case, a weird looking creature that lives in a cave with a ring.

You see where this is going.

I love The Hobbit, by J.R.R Tolkien. It’s one of the most classic stories of all time. The Lord of the Rings movies were completely amazing. And how couldn’t they be, with all that sweeping landscaping, fantastic acting and beautiful music? The Hobbit film follows in those big footsteps with an epic soundtrack, a solid story and entertaining characters. The only thing that I didn’t like (and I adore everything in Middle Earth) was the sheer amount of overkill when it came to CGI. Obviously we can do a lot more with special effects today than we could when the first LOTR movies came out, but it added a cartoon-like quality to many of the characters – like the Pale Orc and the Goblins – because here you had these completely ugly, scary, animal-like creatures spending all this time talking, which made it corny. None of the Orcs or Goblins talked in the first three films, and it was considerably better that way, and they were much more intimidating as bad guys. I didn’t think the Pale Orc was a very good villain simply because he was completely CG. I remember the big Orc that Aragorn fought in The Fellowship of the Ring, and that thing was SCARY. But the Pale Orc wasn’t. He talked too much, and he was blue. I mean…come on.

In conclusion, I will pay any amount of money any day to see Ian McKellan become Gandalf the Grey, and hear Howard Shore’s awesome music move with the camera as it sweeps over the misty mountains. It’s a wonderful story, in a wonderful world, and besides a little too much CGI, it’s easily one of the best movies of the year.
Go see it, please.

Watch the trailer on the movie website. And check out our review of the book right here at KRL.

The Hobbit Is Nominated For:
Makeup and Hairstyling
Production Design
Visual Effects

Summer Lane is a freelance writer with thousands of published articles on a variety of topics. She’s also a published novelist, publicist, book reviewer and cat lover. Her book, Snappy Social Networking, is available now! You can contact Summer for reviews or writing on her blog.



Django Unchained

Review by Hannah Hudson

Blood spray on cotton. This was the image from the trailer that sold me on Djagno Unchained, and the image still dripping in my mind after the credits rolled. Other scenes show blood stained white pillars in a southern gentleman’s grand estate. If you read into these visual collisions, you might see a statement about the injustice one race inflicted on another. Actual examples of the horrors of slavery are played out for the viewer to see in agonizing detail throughout the movie. Several times, I had to look away for the anguish I saw in the eyes of the victims.

So be warned! The name “Quentin Tarantino” tends to be synonymous with blood and language, but also an enjoyable ride for the right audience. Django Unchained delivers both a shock and a good time.

Brilliant Austrian actor Christoph Waltz plays German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz. Waltz has worked for Tarantino before, playing the chilling Nazi Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds. Mastery of four languages served him well in Inglorious Basterds, set in war time Europe, and here in Django Unchained– Tarantino’s attempt at a pre-Civil War American Western- Waltz’s language skills are bolstered by a quick-witted businessman’s flair and an almost happy-go-lucky attitude. Django’s world is presented as very set in its ways, and Dr. Schultz’s presence is surprising and refreshing. At first you might wonder whether he really is a ‘lawman’, or insane.

While colorful characters like Dr. King abound, Django Unchained is largely lacking in dynamic characters. The story is still good, but it is just a story about something that ‘happened’, not so much about how a character was changed by what happened. From the moment Django throws off his threadbare sackcloth blanket to don his captor’s fine winter coat, you see he is a willful, powerful man set free to complete a personal mission. Jamie Foxx brings a steady, on-the-mark performance that is as accurate as his character (Django)’s aim. Unflinching, he stands alongside Dr. Schultz for the first half of the movie learning the ropes of bounty hunting. The two form a VERY unlikely pair that stirs up trouble as they do their job. This trouble propels Django to step up to the plate for the second half of the movie leaving an impressive a body count in his wake.

There’s humor, both subtle and obvious. There’s adventure through and through. Django Unchained also has a few treats in the form of cameo appearances, Tarantino’s trademark. Those familiar with 1954’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers might be delighted to hear that the then-young actor Russ Tamblyn, who played “Gideon”, appears in Django, as does his daughter, a little more recognizable for her roles in TV’s Joan of Arcadia and the Big Screen’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: Amber Tamblyn. They both appear in the first town Django and the Doctor ride through. Keep an eye out for someone YOU might recognize!

Django Unchained is nominated for:

Best Picture
Actor In A Supporting Role Christoph Waltz
Cinematography, Sound Editing, Writing (original screenplay)

Hannah is a Social Media Manager based out of Reedley, CA, where she attends college for Forestry and Recreation. She’s a native of Detriot, MI and found herself in the Central Valley after a summer working at Sequoia Lake YMCA camps. Valley life has been good to her, and she’s currently looking at ways to get involved in her community and make a difference.

Brave
Review by Jesus Ibarra (reposted from 2012)

Pixar’s latest animated film stars hopefully a new Disney princess, Merida. Set in Scotland during the 10th century, the princess defies the old age custom of marrying the first-born son of the clan chiefs under her father’s rule by competing for her own hand to avoid getting married. All this much to the chagrin of her mother, the Queen Elinor, who has been preparing her, her entire life as a princess.

Much of the beginning of the film has Merida questioning whether we can change our fate, and how it can be done. So when she has the opportunity to do so she takes it with disastrous results. I won’t give away the twist because I applaud Pixar for keeping it hidden until I watched the film. I will say it’s clever, providing a lot of the film’s humor and some of the more poignant moments that involve Merida’s family.

I wanted to watch this movie just so I could listen to Scottish accents for an hour and a half. I love those accents, and the time period in which this film is set.

I had expectations that this would be another kid oriented film with some very poignant lessons that adults can enjoy, and it did not disappoint. It had some of the best voice acting, and the animations were gorgeous that sold the more emotional moments in the film.

My favorite part of the film though is Merida herself. She is stubborn, willful, a talented archer, overall a more realistic and good depiction of what a young woman should be. She is an excellent addition to the Disney princess family. I hope that Disney continues this trend of having great and strong good female heroes for girls to look up too.

I won’t give anything else away because the plot is fairly straight forward with a very funny and interesting twist. Even if you don’t have kids, go watch this because it’s Pixar so you know it won’t just cater to kids, but have themes and sequences for everyone.

Check out the trailer on the movie website.

Brave is nominated for:
Animated Feature

Jesus Ibarra is 20 years old and an ongoing contributor to our Teen Talk section; with a love of all media, he’s always on the lookout for the best finds.


Lincoln
Review by Diana Hockley

Starring DANIEL DAY-LEWIS and SALLY FIELD
Produced and directed by Steven Spielberg

The killing fields of Gettysburg must surely leave people with the saddest memories of any place in rural America. The depiction of the war in this film made me ache for the loss of those thousands of young men of all races and levels of society, whose ghosts inhabit the ancient ridges and the woodlands surrounding the bloodied vista.

The film, Lincoln, opens with the President at the battlefield where the loyal and steadfast armies for the Union confront him. The film explores the other battle fought during the last four months of his life, and chronicles Abraham Lincoln’s determination to drive through the changes to the 13th Amendment in the Constitution to ensure the abolition of slavery.

Steven Spielberg’s direction and the towering talent of British actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, combine to produce a brilliance which is all too lacking in many films today. If you are contemplating an easy, laid-back viewing, forget it. This film demands you pay attention.

Day-Lewis, as Abraham Lincoln, is riveting. Charismatic, at times cynical, the consummate politician, the humanitarian, and the husband helpless in the face of his wife’s grief at losing their eldest son to war. Sally Field shines as Mary Lincoln – in fact one would almost not recognise her in the role which she handles with great skill – so much so that I shed tears on her behalf.

The House of Representatives, where an “aye” vote is crucial to passing the changes to the 13th Amendment is a hotbed of intrigue. Lincoln orchestrates his inner Cabinet to wheel and deal to obtain the twenty votes they are short of to win. Tommy Lee Jones, usually known for his hard-headed police roles, is superb as Thaddeus Stevens, Republican Congressional Leader.

Spielberg has chosen to film many of the scenes in sepia colors and shadow, which makes it difficult to see what is happening on screen occasionally, but there is no denying that this is most effective. One scene in the film shows the House of Representatives almost as a painting, so still and focused are the figures.

The dialogue is excellent and the plot presented so that one who is not American can understand what is happening.

Toward the end of the film, Lincoln rides across the battlefields and it is then that the enormity of the war and loss of life is shown in heartbreaking detail. These are not scenes for the faint of heart and I was lost in admiration for the director, who set up such evocative imagery.

Lincoln is a film well worth seeing and I highly recommend it to those for whom their country’s Constitution is paramount and to those who wish to experience an incredible, intelligent and highly visual film of history in the making.

Lincoln is nominated for:
Best Picture
Best Actor- Daniel Day-Lewis
Actor In A Supporting Role- Tommy Lee Jones
Actress In A Supporting Role- Sally Field
Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Sound Mixing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Diana Hockley is an Australian mystery author who lives in a southeast Queensland country town. She is the devoted slave of five ratties & usually finds an excuse to mention them in her writing, including her recent novel, The Naked Room. Since retiring from running a traveling mouse circus for 10 years, she is now the mouse judge for the Queensland Rat & Mouse Club shows. To learn more, check out her website.


The Avengers
Review by Jesus Ibarra (Repost from 2012)

Wow just wow. Those were the first words that I could utter after watching the midnight premiere of Marvel’s The Avengers directed by Joss Whedon. After two and a half hours of just being blown away with constant amazing scenes I was literally spent. The amount of comic book fanboy moments in this film was insane and they were all so amazingly well done.

As a comic book nerd and film enthusiast who leans more on the Marvel side of things I will now say that this is the definitive comic book movie of all time, it surpasses everything Marvel has done, and every superhero movie made in the last decade (yes that includes The Dark Knight). Now let me get my bias out of the way: I was going to love this movie even if it sucked, why? Because even if the movie sucked, the pure ambition, scope, and pieces this movie had to bring together was going to be incredibly difficult if not impossible. In fact, part of the whole appeal of this movie is watching how the hell they pull off an ensemble movie with six, that’s right, six established characters in their own right and all famous actors with some serious acting chops. But man did they pull it off, and I attest that to Joss Whedon’s vision for the film and the love everybody involved seemed to have for this film to be made.

And it’s not just Whedon’s take on the Avengers, it is the Avengers come to life. In addition, I think Joss Whedon understood that he couldn’t just hijack the movie, although the classic Whedon wit and banter came through Tony Stark and some awesome sight gags, just like the actors portraying the Avengers knew they couldn’t hijack the movie either. So after having seen it twice I am telling you to go watch this movie. For the next part of my review I am going to highlight some of the best things I loved about the film, I will be as light on spoilers as possible, but if you want to avoid any spoilers even perceived then stop reading and go watch the movie already! Oh and please stay after the credits, especially if you are comic book geek, because someone familiar makes an appearance that you will love.

1. This is the best translation of comic book movie, without using the whole comic style shooting done by some other movies. The core of the characters, the actions sequences, and the banter feel like they came from some of the best Avengers comics without relying on the comic book format. There is a sequence near the end of the movie where the camera pans to all of our heroes from one to another kicking ass and it is probably one of the best sequences I have ever seen.

2. The stakes are real, and our heroes know it. The line in the trailers where Loki tells Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury how desperate he is to have been forced to bring together a group of people who have no business being together is true yet they come together anyways. Although I won’t spoil the catalyst, our heroes come to an understanding that not one of them on their own will be able to be THE HERO, that if they want to win they have to work together. Once they get there, man do they work together, and what’s even more amazing is that they genuinely want to be there in the thick of it, there are no reluctant heroes here that are forced to be heroes. Which leads me to my next point.

3. The film celebrates the innate nobility of humans. By which it explores our ability to stand up for what’s right, and to would be tyrants. Most of this is quickly explored through Thor, who unlike his brother Loki who wants to crush and rule humanity, has come to love humans and respect them. The movie dispenses with cynicism and goes for the optimism that people will do the right thing when it comes down to it. There is a scene early in the film, where one old man stands up to Loki telling him there will always be men like him, and they will always fail.

4. It’s actually funny. It’s not funny in the comedic joke sense, but the sight gags, and banter are funny in the sense that it’s witty humor. And some of the best sight gags come from Mark Ruffalo’s the Hulk who probably has one of the best lines of the film following a fight, “Puny god.” Yea I let you think about what happened before that film.

5. It’s the best Hulk done ever. They finally got the Hulk right, and not just in the CGI motion capture sense, but Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner was perfect. I’ll admit I wasn’t too excited when he was cast, but man was I wrong. His mannerisms, way of speaking, and interaction with the rest of the cast was amazing and convincing of who the character was.

6. The character team ups and relationships formed were so freaking satisfying. Without getting overly spoilerish the characters that team up together or actually become friends was so awesome to see. Thor and Captain America fighting alongside each other and eventually getting some mutual respect for each other was so good. And Tony Stark and Bruce Banner hitting it off on a scientist level was so fun, that it left the Hulk loving Tony Stark which you see in the end of the film.

7. This had some of the best acting I have ever seen, everyone gets their moment. The problem with such a big film with six leads is that maybe not everyone would have gotten their moment. Well that isn’t the case here, every single character got their moment. No line of dialogue was wasted, it all served its purpose. From Samuel Jackson’s sorrowful Nick Fury to Chris Evans’ Captain America who is out of time in a country he doesn’t recognize as he left it in the 1940s, it was all spectacular. Which leads me to my final point.

8. For me Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark steals the movie. Many people have been saying the Hulk is the scene-stealer, but for me it was Tony Stark the Iron Man who stole the film. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an Iron Man film, it didn’t revolve around just the character of Tony Stark, but man did Robert Downey Jr. act his ass off to make me love his arc here. Where Steve Roger’s Captain America is the definitive leader of this group, Tony Stark’s Iron Man would have to be the heart. The climax of the film is about Iron Man and the team’s reaction and involvement with him. But more, that final sequence with him made me so sad and happy. And Robert Downey Jr.’s face at the climax was so perfect that I nearly died of happiness.

Check out the trailer on the movie website.

The Avengers is nominated for Visual Effects.

Jesus Ibarra is 20 years old and currently attends UCLA; with a love of all media, he’s always on the lookout for the best finds.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 M.M. Gornell
Twitter: @mmgornell
February 24, 2013 at 10:11am

This was an excellent pre-oscars article. I very much enjoyed reading about the movies, most of which I haven’s seen yet. And the type of details and comments the reviewers made where the kind of information I was interested in. Great job!

Madeline

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