Friday, April 17, 2009


generous loyal readers:
Insider Film Review is now a KDworld enterprise!

~ it's like the truth, only real.

hope to see you there even More often than you've been here. thanks for your support!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

fool me once....

while superstars clive owen and julia roberts prove capable sparring partners in central dance of lust and mistrust, pic is all about setup. and writer/director tony gilroy (michael clayton) knows a thing or three about Smart dramatic tension. wordless slo-mo clash of titans paul giamatti and tom wilkinson serves as perfect prologue--epic feel, hilarious, brilliant. script continues cracking along briskly, cleverly flashing back & forth to reveal depth of complex cons and twists, well played. lets itself down mightily in endgame, however, when all comes revealed a la perry mason mysteries: smug victors gather around to retrace their steps of genius for apparently less intelligent audience. plus, all that fancy footwork and our heroes come up short? where's the payoff for Us?
setup: B

Sunday, March 15, 2009

nightmare reality show

an in-depth, from all angles look at one of contemporary italy's most dangerous mafia families. based on novel that apparently hit so close to home, author and contributors were/are targeted with death threats. pic boasts documentary-style immediacy. cast comprised of primarily non-professional actors, locals hired for authenticity. end credits even feature statistics decrying camorra crime clan's most vile perpetrations, ranging from environmental pollution to mass murder. winner of cannes 2008 grand prize of the festival and nominated for 2009 golden globe for best foreign language film.
immediacy: B+

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

who's watching...?

first, if you're upset pic is not enough like the source material, quit your bitching. author alan moore refused to attach his own name to film, suggesting no movie version could do justice to his work! was that not enough of a clue for you? if you're such a rabid fan, you shouldn't have even Gone (the more contemptible complaint), and thus have only yourself to blame whichever way you whine. besides, truth be told, Only film to cling tighter to graphic novel roots was sin city--nothing to be righteous about.
brightest aspect of 150 min. geekapalooza is director zack snyder's already evident (too early to call Signature?) visual style. he also definitely knows comics, reveres his players and shows them off well, delivers kick-ass seamless sfx, and won't skimp on graphic sex & violence. heck, he frames fights and fornicating Brilliantly. political themes certainly are outdated, and many characters standard comic fare, so although moore's warning may appear prescient, don't shoot the director.
geekapalooza: B

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

anybody order the underwhelm?

the international--
feels, in every way, like your average james bond film. haven't seen naomi watts in such a thankless role in years, certainly not since she became a star. clive owen does what we'll call the heavy lifting, yet in such thriller-by-numbers material, it's very often the bad guys (read: character actors) who stand out. here it's broadway star brian f. o'bryne who comes off looking like a (most unassuming) badass. director tom (run, lola, run) tykwer's one slick shoot-em-up not enough to lift pic out of big budget mediocrity. he could use some help staging intimate talking (non-action) scenes. we're set up to be frightened by premise--who controls the Debt is in control; i.e., omnipotent financial power structure--yet resolution sure proves awfully simplistic.
bond: C+

crossing over
oo, this one had me cringing from the get-go. writer/director wayne kramer somehow assembled a generous cast of A-list actors--harrison ford, ashley judd, ray liotta--to have a go at his passion project. no amount of star power, however, can rescue pic from such stock direction and rubbish diaolgue. when these venerable thesps are not looking wooden, they're certainly sounding ridiculous. ambitious? sure; connect-the-dots stylings of Crash. comparisons end there.
rubbish: D

Friday, February 20, 2009


i am heartbroken, and i can barely stand it. yes, it sounds And feels awfully melodramatic. i'll be brief:

i worked for more than 10hrs, easily, on my oscar breakdown & predictions--had it finished and polished, even--and now the text is forever lost. all of it. irretrievable.
it was almost certainly my best academy award piece ever, undoubtedly my most extensive.
i will not be writing another one for sunday's ceremony. it just takes too much time, and i have lost my drive.
i will list my forecast here, below. although there will be no big surprises this year (ah, but isn't this very attitude what enables a true surprise...?), i expect you'll do very well in your office pool if you copy my picks. if you want to Win your office pool, you May want to switch a select few. i will even suggest which ones might be smartest to switch (read: if i Don't mention it, don't switch). if you have a weighted scoring system and/or if you're interested in further breakdown, have Any questions/comments, etc., you are welcome to contact me directly. i Luv talking about this silliness.

not-so-subtle reminder lessons: copy & paste material periodically In Addition to auto save procedure; more importantly, enjoy this life of easy unattachment.
hope you have a Great oscar night. more soon (when i get my drive back)....

in order (hopefully):

supporting actress--penelope cruz

supporting actor--heath ledger (absolute #1 lock of the year)

animated feature--wall-e (high value certainty for weighted system)

costume design--the duchess (also high)

film editing--slumdog millionaire (darkhorse--i.e., Could win--the dark knight)

makeup--benjamin button (bank on it)

sound editing--the dark knight (darkhorse = wall-e)

sound mixing--the dark knight (ditto)

documentary feature--man on wire (longshot--i.e., only if there's no justice in the world--trouble the water)

foreign language film--waltz with bashir (darkhorse = the class)

original score--slumdog millionaire (high)

original song--"jai ho" from slumdog

visual effects--benjamin button (high)

art direction--benjamin button (darkhorse = dark knight; [paints an appropriate picture, eh?])


original screenplay--milk (longshot = wall-e)

adapted screenplay--slumdog (longshot = ben button)

live action short film--spielzeugland (toyland), (low); Should Win = auf der Strecke (longshot = new boy)

animated short film--presto (darkhorse = this way up)

documentary short--didn't see Any of them. pundits claim the witness = Will Win. my educated guess says Should Win = the conscience of nhem en

actress--kate winslet (contender = meryl streep), (low)

actor--sean penn (darkhorse = mickey rourke), (low)

director--danny boyle

picture--slumdog millionaire (longshot = ben button)

feels less melodramatic now that i've done That. and i obviously had to have Some drive to crank even That out. humph.

Monday, February 16, 2009

what you see is what you get

nobody does international action thriller like producer luc besson. this one's as tidy as they come, no fluff, and thankfully not begging--like most within the genre--to be cool. clocks in at 93min and feels even quicker. star liam neeson's smarts, size, and composure make him easy sell as retired CIA badass. he's jason bourne 25 years down the line. maggie grace does a perfectly bouncy 17 as well. a pair of truly indelible scenes more than make up for a couple that take the easy way out.
tidy: B+

another animated gem from stop-motion wizard, director henry selick (the nightmare before christmas, james and the giant peach). another dark, magical realm, somewhere very far from land of shiny happy kiddie flicks. really must be seen in 3-D to be fully appreciated, as nuances of the painstaking handicraft don't fully translate to flat bigscreen medium. not the wild-ride, involved Adventure i hoped for, yet wondrous and full of imagination just the same.
imagination: B

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

see all the nominees!

oscar nominated short films--
good news: these standout works, in years past only publicly available in l.a. & nyc for the one week preceding the big ceremony, have opened Early and are now also (allegedly) available via itunes. i haven't been able to find them online, but maybe You can. here, a brief rundown on the two options available (as separate admission tickets) at theaters:

considerably more commercial crop than last year's, and better for it. extraordinarily deep competition warrants inclusion of highly commended (just shy of nomination) bonus few. familiar powerhouse names, like pixar, shine again.
deep: A-

live action
not one within this dour quintet excites. quality filmmaking, to be sure, yet it feels more like governing board is out to represent international flavor than to showcase true elite. and why so short on Fun, y'all? we want Fun!
dour: C

and WOW! check This out: best picture showcase!

feb 21, day before the oscars, amc theatres will offer all five best picture nominees on select screens nationwide for only $30 (only $25 for moviewatcher members)--large bucket of popcorn included w/ free refills all day! plus you can come & go as you please. for all pertinent details go to:

Friday, February 6, 2009

noble undertaking

the class--
feels as much like a documentary as any fiction you'll see. story is, in fact, written by a teacher, who stars alongside many of his actual colleagues and former students. scenes are, in effect, recreations of situations familiar to them all. notably unfamiliar to all of us, however (unless you're an instructor of teens in city as massive & multinational as paris), is just how monstrous are the challenges--and how few and bittersweet the rewards--within such a setting. winner of top prize at cannes festival 2008, and worthy nominee for best foreign language film at this month's oscars.
bittersweet: B+

Monday, February 2, 2009

site move in time for oscars

you may (or may not) have noticed that i've offered up very little writing here in the new year. naturally, there are not many new releases out in pre-awards season that float my boat--very few, at least, that i've not already seen.
also playing a significant factor is my impending move to another blog site--one that filters through a privatized domain. official announcement soon to come; do be on the lookout.
and in the meantime, get your ass out to see all of the nominated films (oscars, independent spirit awards, razzies). you've got less than three weeks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

oscar nom eve

less than 12hrs from now the nominations for the 2009 academy awards will be read live here in los angeles. very exciting day for the town. now, i'm not getting my ass out of bed to See or Hear the noms read live--i'll simply pore over the list online as so many millions will upon rising--however, let my appreciation for sleep fool thee not: i am Full with anticipation.
and this is Not a great year for movies. again. certainly not as good as last year. a few real gems within the heap of mediocrity. i don't expect there will be a lot of surprises in the nominations, either. maybe two or three in the major categories. yet let my confidence in the surety of the early returns fool thee not: i am anxiously awaiting Official word.
yes, a thrilling morning awaits us--one that is to be followed by an entire Month of speculation, congratulations, and of course anxiety. and i'll be one of the many thousands in this magical town who's swimming in it all and counting down the days (and counting down the daze...). feb22 is the date to save. i'm Excited.
10hrs, 25min, and....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

visions of war

amended 1/14:
decided to try letter grades in 2009 instead of star ratings. with this change you can expect a more accurate reflection of my assessment of each film. i welcome your comments.

waltz with bashir
one of the boldest, most creative films in years in any genre. this decorated documentary's also collecting distinction in foreign, animated, screenplay, and mixed media categories. brilliantly explores the universal power & mystery of memory while translating traumatic personal experience into silver screen magic. art direction and original score are also stellar, and the back-to-reality ending devastating.
magic: A

producer edward zwick has an impressive track record with history pics--painstakingingly dissecting fascinating actual events, reshaping meaningful moments into digestible hollywood morsels. this here, however, amounts to nothing more than captivating true story filled with tired war cliches. dramatic scenes consistently feel stagey. the score is thrilling, and daniel craig is fun to watch--a natural leader. accents, although not egregious, are not so natural. if choosing between WWII pics, go see valkyrie instead.
stagey: C

Monday, January 5, 2009

best of 2008?

talking with friends over the past month or so, i became convinced that creating a Favorites list would be a cool thing to do. it would give Me a much-needed chance to reflect on the year in film, and revisit the lot before awards season, while providing you readers an easy opportunity to peruse by category the pick of the proverbial litter, plus a few stinkers.
so here it is!
now a reminder, or what you might even call a bit of a disclaimer: films listed are not what i'm labeling the Best of '08. no, instead, they are my Favorites--the ones that got me, grabbed me, touched me, moved me.... my favorite performances, on the other hand, simply Are the year's best. (take it to the bank.)
there is no preset number of listees, just a record of what really Worked. and i've picked some memorable "genres" to which i feel you're likely to favorably respond.

for a full breakdown of the Best, be sure to check back here for my oscar preview around the beginning of february. i'll give full-blown analysis of every nomination in every category, and offer my take on both who will win and who should win.
(click or copy/paste link below to see last year's predictions.)

standouts by category:

the bank job [yep, the Only one i Really liked all year; but Man, is it good!]

kung fu panda

the orphanage
the strangers

tropic thunder
role models
baby mama

the dark knight
iron man

vampire flick--
let the right one in

how i saw 'em:

others with 4 or 5 star rating (highly recommended)--
the fall
seven pounds
man on wire
the curious case of benjamin button
the edge of heaven
the wrestler
slumdog millionaire
vicky cristina barcelona
the visitor
snow angels

least favorite films of the year--
10,000 bc
in bruges
the happening
madagascar 2

standout performances:

anne hathaway (rachel getting married)
sally hawkins (happy-go-lucky)
angelina jolie (changeling)
melissa leo (frozen river)

richard jenkins (the visitor)
frank langella (frost/nixon)
sean penn (milk)
mickey rourke (the wrestler)
brad pitt (the curious case of benjamin button)

supporting actress--
emma thompson (brideshead revisited)
rosemarie dewitt (rachel getting married)
taraji p. henson (the curious case of benjamin button)
penelope cruz (vicky cristina barcelona)
viola davis (doubt)

supporting actor--
heath ledger (the dark knight)
robert downey jr. (tropic thunder)
ralph fiennes (the duchess)
eddie marsan (happy-go-lucky)
josh brolin (milk)
michael shannon (revolutionary road)
michael sheen (frost/nixon)

wow, i really hope i didn't Forget anything. if i Did, i'll make a note of it in my next post.
later this week i'll be reviewing several new releases--the first batch from the 2009 crop.