Reviews by CasualTim
Fine enough
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I expect to be made to watch this movie several times over the course of my life; I think the current count is three. As the kind of movie a male gets forced to watch on a semi-regular basis, this one's far from the worst. There are entertaining stories with fun, quirky twists. Generally when the time comes, I don't object to sitting down to see it (again).

However, a few things: The story that takes a jaunt to the US was a bit over the top for how 'realistic' everything else is meant to be - though to be fair many of the stories are simplified quite heavily. And I'm sorry, but no matter how you spin it, the story with Keira Knightley's character is disturbing and icky. As is the little boy who plays Liam Neeson's son - that kid looks like an alien possessed by a demon (trivia - according to IMDB, he was in six Barney episodes, then less than a year later played a 10-year old Hitler before his role in "Love, Actually." Creepy, I tell you) .

Otherwise fine holiday fare. Not a classic, but above average.

7/10, (inclusive of +1 for any appearance of Alan Rickman, whom Bill Nighy nearly outshines in this film)
Probably only for serious robot skeletons
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This is an extremely matter-of-fact telling of Craig's life up to the point of winning the Late Late Show. So matter-of-fact, in fact, that I'm afraid Craig's let pass a lot of potential entertainment value out of some truly wild escapades. While I'll be glad I know certain parts of his past, and there are some very poignant moments in the work, much of the book reads like a very detailed list of facts. I can forgive this as a desire to appear honest, as proof that he is okay with exposure, but even in his deepest throes of alcohol and drug use, it felt a bit more like reading the police report than being right there with him in the moment. Perhaps I've just become more of a gossip than I was aware of.

The most entertaining part for me was at the very end, relating the tale of winning the Late Late Show. Much of the previous events do come together at this point, but I can see not being enthralled enough to make it this far unless you're serious about your Craig, or just plain stubborn

I see that Craig himself reads the audiobook which might help to make it a little more entertaining.
Galactic Greatness
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"Wall-E" is a grand achievement on many levels, and worth having around to watch many times.

Perhaps most talked about, the extended opening sequence (~40 minutes) of near-silence, will lead us to other brilliant points, but deserves to be mentioned in its own regard. Being a Pixar film, director Stanton surely had to make the case that 'yes, 40 minutes with practically no dialogue or human characters is perfectly fine for our huge demographic of children.' This is a level of confidence in both self and team that we should all be insanely jealous of. IMDB trivia claims that the Pixar team watched Chaplin and Keaton films at lunch every day for a year and a half to be inspired by 'the possibilities of pure visual storytelling.' It shows. This opening chapter is funny, heartwarming, and continually interesting. Most of all, though, is that it is immersive. No, I'm not talking about the as-yet-unproduced 3-D version of "Wall-E." I'm talking about real immersion - the kind that is skilled enough to put you in a fictional world, make you fall in love with the protagonist, and set you up for some real questions of conscience later on, all through a demonstration of situation and personality by action alone (rather than, you know, having the characters explain the plot to us). Not a moment passes, even on multiple viewings, where the viewer begins to wonder "how much longer?!"

About this quiet takeoff. My favorite critic who isn't me, Mark Kermode, noted that a perfect double feature (for adults, this time) would be the 1971 film "Silent Running" with "Wall-E." Not only do you have robot autonomy as a main aspect of each film, but you've got this great theme of the herculean weight of the loneliness of space that, without the more lighthearted aspects of "Wall-E" would be almost soul-crushing. Whereas much of "Wall-E's" commentary comes at the beginning of the film and maintains a constant hum in the background (for those listening for it), "Silent Running" builds to a maximum crescendo near its end. There's also a great discussion to be had about each film's placement of who will end up being responsible for the existence of Good as a force in the universe as humans become a more and more unsustainable species.

The serious contrast that's inevitable between the first half of "Wall-E" and the second doesn't seem out of place. It's only jarring in as much as we feel how jarring the change is for dear Wall-E. It backs up the feeling that Wall-E has been alone for such a long time, and it makes the humans, their antics and the environment they've created for themselves, all the more alien.

That sense of alienation might contribute to one of the more impressively-played notes in the film. "Wall-E" would only seem preachy to someone out to condemn it from the beginning, yet in being fully invested in the protagonist, the viewer experiences a pretty difficult conundrum: to also root for the humans, who are so clearly to blame for so much (including our Poor Robot's dire straits), or to hope that Wall-E and his newfound love find a way to make it on their own?

Luckily, we are given the answer in a way that leaves no room for second-guessing our choice: the one quality that makes us humans capable of great things - whether we choose to use it every day or once in million trillion years - is the thing that, well, I'll say it: brings the humans up to the level of morality (and innocence) that Wall-E is capable of. And of course, the willingness to utilize that quality is redemptive in the multiple ways that should be expected out of Pixar films.

Finally, about that quality we're capable of; I was referring to what A.O. Scott called "the drive to invent new things and improve the old ones," and which might more simply be described as the anti-entropy. However, it occurs to me that there is another quality in each of the characters we're rooting for that is perhaps even more important: they're all misfits. They all make the decision to break the rules when necessary (many of them are literally broken themselves), regardless of any danger, regardless of the personal price to be paid, regardless of programmed (either by chip or by habit) laws of behavior. They all help to show us the value of independent action and thinking grey in a world dictated more and more by black and white judgments (or, in this case, one and zero judgments).

A joy to watch.

9/10
The Diablo's Body of good work expands
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I'm going to start this one with the most surprising bit of praise I've offered up in a very, very long time.

Megan Fox gives a very good performance in "Jennifer's Body." Yes, it may have something to do with the fact that the character she plays is a mean girl in high school defined almost entirely (at first) by her looks, but listen: Megan Fox, acting well. (Seyfried does a good job, too, by the way. Simmons was a bit clunky, and has clearly not made the leap from his "Hotel for Dogs" maturity level, but some of his robotics can be chalked up to his being another 'innocent bystander.')

Okay. Feel free to let that soak in for awhile before you continue. It's true. It's impressive. It's shocking. Megan Fox, good job.

This is a good, entertaining movie. As a sophomore piece of writing for Diablo Cody, it shows promise of continued entertainment. The premise is simple and close to home in terms of what we sometimes imagine might be true. Cody's version of 'horror' includes some terrific inclinations - physical humor with good timing and sounds (kudos to director Kusama); the liberal use of stereotypes, twisted just enough to keep us entertained; a good balance between the seen and unseen creepies; and especially stretching out the tense moments well beyond what is reasonable (in a good way).

However, a warning: if you were unable to excuse all the rad, hip slang in "Juno" as unbelievable, if your first and continuing thought was "kids don't talk like that," and if that shaped your opinion of that movie, see "Jennifer's Body" with caution. The first two thirds of this movie has more and thrice-as-annoying CodySpeak than was in all of "Juno." But in "Jennifer's Body," it's not as excusable, both because it's no longer original and because the individual inventions are just so much more twee and smug. It also does not fit into the world we're seeing: Juno lived in a slightly skewed world. Jennifer - besides all the gore and stuff - is meant to live in a stereotypically-high school reality. It really, really bumped me, and it did so often.

But there is a shining light (of primordial black vomit) at the end of the movie: CodySpeak mysteriously vanishes for the last third of the film. This is when we get to see this work really shine. It's clear that this is not a movie with an ultrabudget. It's clear that this movie is better off because of it. Unlike "The Hurt Locker," which I recently reviewed in a mostly negative manner due to its complete and utter failure during the last six seconds, it's clear that Kusama took her time with the end of this one. It's a delightful wrapping up of the story that had me laughing and cheering.

7/10
A Last-Second Bomb
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It's not lightly that I criticize this Oscar winner for Best Picture. But, I do.

In general, "The Hurt Locker" is a visually stunning film that looks at a different aspect of war than we're used to seeing. I don't feel like the general story arc or the message are much different from other modern war films, but this one looks good and its scenes are interesting and disorienting enough to warrant attention. Much of it feels real, much of it feels heavy and it shows a moderately skilled hand at crafting tension.

Which may be why the end of this film is so unforgivable. Change the soundtrack and it would only be disappointing. Edit the sound so the last line in the film is audible (which it's not, even after playing it four times), and it would only be typical. Don't do any of this, and you have a film that doesn't know what it's spent 125 minutes saying. That wants to make sure the pubescent masculine demographic still tell their friends that "this movie is freaking awesome!" That is more about ducking out the side door, leaving the story standing, as it were, in a cold breeze in its underthings, than was "Lost in Translation."

To be perfectly clear, I'm not arguing against what happens at the end. With the proper treatment, this is the conclusion to the film that says the most. And it's a striking example of the power of music and attitude in cinema, the way this conclusion - the correct and proper conclusion - can nearly ruin the movie when given the absolute worst treatment possible.

This film is worth watching to anyone who hasn't been there. It's worth it for the reminder that there are things happening that we can never understand. Just, for goodness' sake, hit stop immediately after you see the protagonist mumble inaudibly to his child.

5/10