A Nutshell Review: The Blind Side
Much of the hype in this film comes from Sandra Bullock's fine performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy, a God fearing rich woman who had chosen to adopt a kid off the street out of plain human compassion, offer him a home, school, even introduced him to football, and essentially turned his life around without ever wanting anything back in return. Incredible as it may sound, it's actually based on the true story of Michael Oher's life given a new lease to stay off the streets, and the opportunities extended to him as part of the Tuohy family, to turn him into the pro-footballer he is today.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/blind-side.html
A Nutshell Review: Chance Pe Dance
Well it seems like Dance movies are the rage these days, and this week alone we have two films that seemingly centers on dance, with Jump coming from China/Hong Kong, and Chance Pe Dance from Bollywood, both being romantic comedies appealing to their respective distinct demographics. And it's not too surprising that unlike dance films of old where there's a male-female pair who would exhibit some signature moves on the dance floor, the contemporary films this week have absolutely none of that, which in some ways is a pity.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/chance-pe-dance.html
A Nutshell Review: Law Abiding Citizen
Law Abiding Citizen is one of those thrillers that has a great premise and idea, but bogged down by so many plot loopholes that it becomes an effortless comedy. What was supposedly an excellent run riddled with implausibilities became even more ridiculous in the final 10 minutes that you'd wonder if anyone had any inkling of a logical conclusion, or had decided to cop it all out to avoid being branded as anti-establishment, and as a result, just plain ordinary lacking the guts to just stick with its plan to the end.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/law-abiding-citizen.html
A Nutshell Review: Santau
Expectant mothers and those with heart conditions take note. Santau is not for you, so says the cliche warning (used to drum up curiosity no less), and in some ways I found it quite true, because it's one heck of a guilt trip down the old school horror lane, except that this one starts with a bang and never quite take a breather, opting for a thrilling roller coaster ride of scares and inevitable comedy that go down best with a jumpy, vocal audience.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/santau.html
A Nutshell Review: 20th Century Boys 3
The best way to really enjoy this installment of 20th Century Boys, is to quickly break out the DVDs of the previous two films, watch them to jog your memory, before turning up for this one. Given the myriad of characters and the lag between the local releases, a revisit is somewhat necessary since there's very little recap, and the juxtaposition of timelines through flashbacks also provide that additional narrative challenge, not to mention that memories, being memories, tend to be faulty as well, for both you, as well as the characters in the storyline.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/20th-century-boys-3-redemption-20-seiki.html
A Nutshell Review: Legion
The trailer had me thinking that this would be one heck of a slice and dice fest in the same vein as Feast or even The Mist, with a group of rag tag survivors being huddled together in a diner / supermarket, and the fight for survival against invading monsters of all shapes, sizes and surprises. The latter film also had a bible-thumper, and religion forms the basis of the premise here, when you see how it all becomes a modern day reimagining of the tale of Mary, Joseph, and the prophetic messiah baby.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/legion.html
A Nutshell Review: Veer
As the story goes, Salman Khan plays Veer, a Pindari general's child whose clansman were massacred through a betrayal by Madhavgarh King Gyanendra (Jackie Shroff). Fearsome in battle and men of their word, the warrior clan Pindaris are not taking this lying down, and have scattered with a vow to one day exact their vengeance against King Gyanendra. The first child born during their exile, Veer gets taught the ways of the warrior kind, before being sent to London with his brother Punya (Sohail Khan) in order to learn the ways of the Britishers (yeah) and especially their cunning minds, one small step toward their goal of overthrowing the Madhavgarh king through the exploiting of his backer's weaknesses and to circumvent their strategy of divide and conquer over India.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/veer.html
A Nutshell Review: Brothers
A remake of the Danish film Brodre, what this version boasts is the star presence of Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular brothers Sam and Tommy Cahill, with Natalie Portman starring as the former's wife Grace, in what would be some powerful dramatic performances delivered by all three actors in a story that deals with the pain of loss, the exhilaration of purpose, love and family, and the confusion that comes when jealousy starts to creep in a relationship no thanks to the presence of another man in one's home.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/brothers.html
A Nutshell Review: The Warrior and The Wolf
Nice poster, nice trailer, disaster of a film. I didn't expect to discover something so bad so early in the year, but I did. If you're looking for a film that's self-indulgent to the point that the narrative doesn't make sense, nor even attempted to tell a proper story, then look no further than Chinese director Tian Zhuangzhuang's The Warrior and The Wolf.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/warrior-and-wolf-lang-zai-ji.html
A Nutshell Review: The Spy Next Door
While we anticipate Jackie Chan's Asian production with Little Big Soldier this Lunar New Year, he continues his journey in the West with yet another kid and family friendly production with The Spy Next Door, which would fit into the Disney Channel stable given Chan's penchant to appeal to the lowest denominator to draw in the family crowd, and you know just how safe the stunts of Hollywood tend to be when appealing to this demographic.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/spy-next-door.html
A Nutshell Review: Hachiko: A Dog's Story
I came to know of the Hachiko story from one of the film screenings during the Japanese Film Festival more than two years ago, and having visited Tokyo, who would not have heard and noticed that one of the exits of the busy Shibuya station had one exit named after the famous dog? Why an American version of the story would be made baffles me, if not only to tell of yet another dog story following the likes of the Lassies and the Marleys that because dog is Man's best friend there will always be a ready market for it?
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/hachiko-dogs-story.html
A Nutshell Review: The Boys Are Back
Mention Clive Owen, and chances are you'll think of that suave persona playing no less than roguish characters ranging from secret agents to well, erm, the go-to man if you want things done. Like Jackie Chan in The Spy Next Door, he's about to discover that the biggest challenge of his cinematic career is parenting, and in The Boys Are Back, Owen sheds his larger than life, indestructible spy characters for the role of Dad, and a complicated one too in having to reconnect with two boys from different marriages.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/boys-are-back.html
A Nutshell Review: 14 Blades
It's about time Donnie Yen made an impact yet again in the fantasy wuxia-pian genre, given the rather recent dismal films with Painted Skin (where he only had a supporting role), An Empress and the Warriors, and Tsui Hark's Seven Swords back in 2005. Most of us went ballistic with his more modern action roles ranging from SPL to Ip Man, and his 14 Blades character of Qing Long (Green Dragon, thanks to those mean looking tattoos adorned all over his upper torso) here looks quite set to become yet another memorable role similar to his morally ambiguous one in Bodyguards and Assassins.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/14-blades-gam-yee-wai.html
A Nutshell Review: Edge of Darkness
Edge of Darkness heralds the return of Mel Gibson back to the front of the camera, and it's been 8 years since he last left a starring role for the director's chair, having to make films like Passion of the Christ, and Apocalypto. I would have hoped he might have taught Martin Campbell a thing or two about how to deliver a film that can hold an audience's interest, because Edge of Darkness is just so boring, that you'll find tracing the lines on Mel's face a lot more interesting than to tune in to a bunch of characters that you couldn't care less about.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/edge-of-darkness.html
A Nutshell Review: My Ex
My Ex serves as a cautionary tale to us guys out there to be careful when making promises to the opposite gender. If they turn out to be some psycho, you'll get your Fatal Attraction. If they harbour their vengeance into the afterlife, then well, they'll haunt you wherever you go, making your life extremely miserable, exacting their jealousy onto whoever your main squeeze currently is. This serves as the basic premise of what was Thailand's largest box office response to their homegrown horror show, My Ex.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/my-ex-fan-kao.html
A Nutshell Review: Universal Soldier: A New Beginning
I have a confession to make â€“ I have never seen a Universal Soldier film, not in its entirety anyway, nor even the original way back in 1992 when it starred Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren as these programmed super soldiers who are impervious to pain, and a small troupe can take out battalions of a conventional army. For those like me who are not well versed in the mythos, fret not as this film's subtitle â€“ a new beginning â€“ made it a point to do a quick recap of the secret super soldier programme to bring us all up to speed to where the film now takes place.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/unversal-soldier-new-beginning-aka.html
A Nutshell Review: Rann
The media is also known as the fourth estate in certain democracies, where politicians and their policies go through intense scrutiny by those wielding the pen or the camera, going behind the scenes to dig, probe and investigate, to expose misdemeanors and wrongdoings, to act as the non partisan check and balance. Of course it can also be manipulated to the advantage of certain quarters, and just where our own lies, well we all should already know.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/rann.html
A Nutshell Review: The Box
The trailer goes nowhere near and only scratches the surface of the film and rightly so too, not because it has that obligation to keep its real narrative under wraps, but because what actually transpires, will provoke entirely different lines of questioning, some of which are frustratingly not answered in the film, leaving you to your own devices to interpret the series of events. Which of course means plenty of material for an after-show discussion.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/box.html
A Nutshell Review: Everybody's Fine
Based upon the 1990 Italian film Stanno Tutti Bene, Kirk Jones' Everybody's Fine follows up the very fine contemporary films that had gone past which dealt with the aged and their families, such as Last Chance Harvey starring Dustin Hoffman, and Away from Her starring Gordon Pinsent. Everybody's Fine would work fine as a Thanksgiving or Christmas movie given its theme on the family, but I suppose having a release right about now would be apt as well given the upcoming festive period of the Lunar New Year which has the reunion dinner component, to take stock once again of the ties that bind.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/everybodys-fine.html
A Nutshell Review: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
If you're well aware of Terry Gilliam's movies, then you'd know what to expect from his own Imaginarium of stories that get translated to film, stopping short of saying that they're fairy tale fantasies for adults. No doubt the main draw of the film would be that it's Heath Ledger's last working film before he passed away, and with a clever rewrite of portions coupled with Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell all stepping up to the plate to take over (and bring along their own legion of fans), I'd dare say this film had benefited from its own near death of being shut down, and probably exposed writer-director Gilliam to a wider audience.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/01/imaginarium-of-doctor-parnassus.html
A Nutshell Review: Paintball
I'm still waiting for the day that I'll break my duck and participate in a paintball game, especially if going back for in-camp training every year isn't enough that I'll want to wield a rifle with paint ammunition, and go around fragging peers or strangers in the opposite team. Best played with a big group of friends (or against people you dislike), this sport is picking up momentum, and specialized shops selling paintball gear have been sprouting up, giving indication of its popularity.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/02/paintball.html
A Nutshell Review: Kisses
Written and directed by Lance Daly, Kisses is one of those little enjoyable gems that had its main leads breathe life to a fairly simple plot of a road movie of sorts, set around Christmas in the streets of Dublin, following the adventures of two children Dylan (Shane Curry) and Kylie (Kelly O'Neill), neighbours who decide to run away from their dreadful family members, and spiteful peers with whom they cannot clique.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/02/kisses.html
A Nutshell Review: 72 Tenants of Prosperity
You know there's magic in the air when Shaw and TVB come together to create comical mayhem to usher in the Lunar New Year through cinema, and the opening shot would put any Hong Kong cinephile to cloud nine with its extremely nostalgic take on one of Hong Kong's most successful comedy film, House of 72 Tenants, from which this updated version took its titular moniker from.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/02/72-tenants-of-prosperity-72.html
A Nutshell Review: The Tournament
It's Mortal Kombat meets Battle Royale meets The Condemned, and just about any other film that has its premise put together a bunch of strangers who have to kill one another, or die. Fueled by high net worth individuals who have too much time on their hands and lusting after a blood sport spectacle, they pool their money together in a huge gamble, while paying off ten million dollars to the victor amongst assassins who enter The Tournament, a death match Royal Rumble of a competition where it's all man (or woman) for themselves, each assigned a random weapon to take to the streets of a chosen city of battle.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/02/tournament.html
A Nutshell Review: I Hate Valentine's Day
I haven't seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding from start to end, but from what I gathered from scenes, Nia Vardalos is quite the force to be reckoned with, although it took her quite a while to come up with yet another cinematic romantic comedy, and wearing triple hats of responsibility in writing, directing and starring as the lead in I Hate Valentine's Day, a title which I thought was quite the misnomer for a film about a would be couple who has to learn that the games people play have to be thrown out of the window should they find that perfect chemistry between themselves, but felt constraint by artificial, social rules that worse of all, got made by and illogically adhered to themselves.
Continues at http://anutshellreview.blogspot.com/2010/02/i-hate-valentines-day.html