Quick Reviews: Marie Antoinette (2006), Iron Man 3 (2013), The Living Daylights (1987), The Iceman (2012), The Unknown Woman (2006), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Licence to Kill (1989), Man of Steel (2013), This Is the End (2013)

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Marie Antoinette (2006)

Brilliantly funny hipster period piece. Extremely well shot, directed, acted, everything, especially the first two-thirds. Loved it. Sofia Coppola is a female Kubrick in a way; truly the best mainstream female director working today, and one of the best directors to come out in a long, long time. Better than her father, at least, who’s certainly no slouch himself.  The woman has such a strong filmmaking voice, maybe even a born filmmaker. She’s not for everyone, I’m sure, but man, to those who get her, what a treat. Who says women can’t make good films? Not this guy. Not anymore, at least. Strongly recommended.

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Iron Man 3 (2013)

Wacky action film that doesn’t always work. Weird plot, kind of goofy, stupid. Guy Pierce is good, as is James Badge Dale who plays his second banana, and the little kid, and Ben Kingsley of course, despite the SHOCKING BIG REVEAL in the second act. It’s entertaining and has its moments, but I didn’t like it as much as I enjoyed the second one. It’s just silly when you get right down to it, especially compared to the sort of realism the series established in the first two films. And what was with the “fire-breathing” scene? Dumb. Eh.

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The Living Daylights (1987)

Awesome, epic Bond. Romantic and sweeping; really takes the series to a whole new, totally unexpected level. It’s the Lawrence of Arabia of Bond films. Great acting all around too, especially from Timothy Dalton who certainly looks the part. He’s not as good as Roger Moore, but he’s definitely very good in the role. Better than Connery, that’s for sure. And the Bond girl is actually not just the eye candy for once, not totally at least, and the plot is so easy to follow. And what a great ending action set piece! Just a truly great piece of filmmaking, and one of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with this series. Strongly recommended.

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The Iceman (2012)

Decent, very well acted film with a premise that keeps things interesting enough despite the thing’s lack of conflict and plot for almost half its running time. Michael Shannon is brilliant as the sociopathic hit man, as are Ray Liotta and Chris Evans. Just extremely well acted all around. The editing is a bit odd at times though, and could have used some more stationary shots, and the dialogue is kind of clunky here and there, but nothing too terrible. The film is just a simple, solid, straightforward story with no big surprises or revelations or insights of any kind. It could have been deeper, sure, but it works as it is, I guess. Good, but not great. Watch for the acting.

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The Unknown Woman (2006)

Disturbing, rape and violence filled film I knew nothing about going into that left me crying and shaking in a corner by the time it was all said and done. The main character is really good here, especially considering what she’s put through. Granted it’s all movie “make-believe,” but man, those must have been quite the hellish scenes to shoot. The story itself is sick and disturbing, yet full of passion and immense, almost overwhelming sadness and longing. And it’s all held together by a strong emotional backbone that helps elevate the thing to a state well above what would otherwise be little more than exploitation.

But man is some of it hard to watch, especially the horrific flashback scenes of…I don’t even know what they were exactly. And that’s what makes the thing so frightening; you don’t know what happened to her exactly, or how she ended up where she did. You just get a few glimpses of it, some pieces of the puzzle, but you’re never told exactly what or why or how. I also really enjoyed the film’s distinct style and pace, and what a great, suspenseful first act. The ending didn’t make a whole lot of sense, what with the whole **SPOILERS** jail aspect, **END SPOILERS** but whatever. Pretty damn good film, but really hard to watch. Recommended, if you have the stomach for it.

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Pretty damn good, brainless sequel to a movie I hated. Yes it’s stupid and the plot makes little to no sense, like **SPOILERS** how the hell there wouldn’t be any space ships to provide security around Earth to prevent the kind of thing that happens at the end of the second act of this movie from happening, **END SPOILERS**, but so what? It’s fun and entertaining and well acted, and it has some pretty great moments of action, like the **SPOILERS** warp drive chase sequence where the Enterprise is blown apart and people get sucked into hyperspace. **END SPOILERS** Awesome. And so much running. Everything is frantic and fast paced and flashy, like living in a world run entirely by Apple, and that Benedict Cumberbatch, man, what a villain. Just mindless fun. Not sure why I enjoyed it way more than I did the first, but it was a definite improvement. Recommended.

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Licence to Kill (1989)

Violent, brutal Bond that reminded me a lot of Scarface. It’s very different, but not in a bad way, though it did take a while to get used to. It’s just a lot more grisly and violent and downright gory than most other Bond movies, with lots of mutilations and scenes torture and dismemberment. A sign of the times, I guess. There’s also a lot less sexism here, which I imagine is another sign of the times. And what a great end battle. Pretty good Bond, though very different.

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Man of Steel (2013)

An okay, overwhelmingly chaotic film with a few good moments here and there and some great action, though way, way, WAY too much destruction and death for a PG-13 film, especially at the end. And what was with all the 9/11 imagery? What the hell, Hollywood? Stop using tragic real life imagery to infuse your dumb, otherwise lifeless action movies with a sense of unearned emotional gravitas. It’s manipulative, lazy, and, frankly, a bit immoral. This isn’t a historical piece, folks, it’s just a stupid Superman movie. The guy flies around in a pair of tights, for crying out loud. No need to bring September 11th into it.

The editing too is quite terrible; it’s just too quick, and makes the whole thing feel like a two and a half hour commercial. There’s no sense of pause, no moment for any of the characters, and, in turn, the audience, to breathe. As a result, every scene of this movie feels exactly the same. Everything is shot at you at breakneck speed, faster than a speeding bullet, you could even say, har har. But seriously, there’s no tension, and very little suspense. Terrible, terrible editing. And such a stupid plot.

But it’s not a terrible movie, not completely. Like I said, it has its moments. It’s also very dark, especially at the end when Superman does something to someone you don’t quite expect a benevolent superhero to do. It definitely plays around with the mythology of the character, and I can see why some people would be angry with it, though I thought most of the changes it made were for the better. Still, it’s not a great movie. Not the worst thing in the world, but it certainly could have used a hell of a lot more work, namely with its editing.

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This Is the End (2013)

What the hell did I just watch? Ridiculous and clunky and way too long and self-indulgent. Very little of the film works once it kicks into gear after about minute 20 or so, and what does work makes very little to no sense. The film feels like it was written by a bunch of 12 year olds, and shot on a budget of $500. The cinematography/editing is awful and the mythology the thing tries to establish is spotty at best and highly inaccurate at worst, as much as a comedy about a bunch of celebrities stuck in the middle of the apocalypse can be inaccurate, that is. But, it has its moments. It’s very funny throughout, and some of the acting is pretty damn good, not just from Danny McBride who of course steals every scene he’s in, but also from lead Jay Baruchel who’s actually a pretty damn good actor. Why don’t people put him in more stuff? And the CGI actually doesn’t look half bad for a comedy. Not half bad at all.

But man, what a terrible story, and so poorly directed. Ugh. Felt like I was watching a student film at times. At least we get to see **SPOILERS** stupid James Franco and fat ugly untalented overrated Jonah Hill **END SPOILERS** bite the dust in a series of gruesome and twisted ways, the latter especially. Certainly didn’t see that coming. Not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but not terrible. Has its moments, but not something I’d recommend going to see immediately. Or ever if you’re not a fan.

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