Searching for Bobby Fischer – 1993 – Steven Zaillian

An endearing look at a little boy’s precocious chess talent interwoven with the larger-than-life tale of chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer. For a ‘based-on-a-true story’ flick threads a fine path between senetinmentality and drama. Superbly acted by the kid and a great supporting cast. One for all the family.

The Air I Breathe – 2007 – Jieho Lee

It must have been a slow day in Hollywood for this to have got the green light. Think Crash/Babel – the director most certainly did – convince a few well-known actors to come on board and then proceed to make one of the most awful films of the decade.  JJ

The Fighter – 2010 – David O. Russell

A working class boxer beset by his working class family tries to succeed in the world of professional boxing despite his crack addict-trainer brother who once knocked out Sugar Ray. Based on a true story. Brian Murray

When I think boxing and movies it goes something like “den-nen den, den-nen den” followed by running up the steps of that Museum in Philly in a tracksuit – not crack and Massachusetts white trash. Sweet camera work, great cast and punching. Poi-fect. JJ

The Next Three Days – 2010 – Paul Haggis

Paul Haggis makes slick popular movies – Crash, In the Valley of Elah.  TNTD is adapted from a French flick, reworked as a two-hour long advertisement based on a prison break starring a Toyota Prius, Google and an iPhone amongst other things you should have/buy. An entertaining featuremercial. JJ

Hell’s Kitchen 4 -2008 – Reality? TV

Contestants had less personality than previous seasons; great to see that bitch Jen  get hers. The ultimate winner was a disappointment; ended with an amiable final episode too.  Has Hell’s Kitchen started to lose some of it’s sparkle? Brian Murray

Saw 3D – 2010 – Kevin Greutert

I didn’t see it in 3D, but I suspect it would have added to the experience. More blood, more traps, more twists and turns, and a wholly unbelievable plot. Good for blood, but watch the earlier ones. Brian Murray

 

Defendor – 2009 – Peter Stebbings

An under the radar superhero film starring Woody Harrelson as a deranged but hopeful vigilante. Armed with a jar of angry wasps and a trench club, he takes to the streets and encounters crooked cops, whores, and the mob. A solid flick but not as good as the similar but better Special starring Michael Rapaport. Bill Hill

Airplane! – 1980 – J. Abrahams and D. Zucker

Never saw it till Leslie Nielson died. Before this movie, Leslie was an unsuccessful dramatic actor but this role redefined his career. I assumed the humor would be dated. Wrong! There are too many great one-liners to list. If you’re a diehard comedy-fan, then you should love this one. Bill Hill

Brother – 1997 – Aleksei Balabanov

Mesmerizing despite the poorly translated subtitles. Two brothers who become hit-men in St Petersburg. Oddly surreal in that despite the violence in the foreground, the story is in the background – immigration, sub-cultures, castes, and more. People that try to disconnect from their reality create a distorted sense of morality. Bill Hill

Kick-Ass – 2010 – Matthew Vaughn

This is the under-the-radar comedy of the year. Even Nicolas Cage couldn’t sully this gem. Einstein said genius is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. A lonely high-school student takes similar logic in reasoning why can’t he be a superhero. Before long he finds out that he isn’t alone. Bill Hill

A Prophet – 2009 – Jacques Audiard

If film reviews are sometimes a roll call of adjectives then A Prophet is grim, brutal, brilliant. The eponymous prophet,  a Machievellian prototype,  serving six years in a Paris jail, gets played and plays.  The soundtrack, plot, production and acting – all magnifique. Audiard just gets better.  More please. JJ

Inception – 2010 – Christopher Nolan

Indisputably well-produced but it’s nothing more than a solid action flick. Hailed as imaginative, it lacks honest creativity. Hailed as intellectual, it is mundane. Add to that wooden characters that aren’t interesting or convincing and it’s a bit of a dud for Nolan compared to his best movie yet…MementoBill Hill

The Fantastic Mr. Fox – 2009 – Wes Anderson

Some screamed blasphemy over this Roald Dahl adaptation but having never read the book I can only sing praise for this stop-animation masterpiece. Anderson nails everything about this – pacing, script, dialogue, and even the voices: Clooney, Streep, Schwartzman and Murray. I watched and re-watched…my favourite from 2009.  Bill Hill

The Killer Inside Me – 2010 – Michael Winterbottom

Winterbottom sets off a shit storm with that scene – extreme violence meets Jessica Alba’s pretty face – and the camera never looks away. Casey Affleck is a piece of work as Texas lawman Lou Ford who kills the things he loves, but he can’t explain it and neither can the film. JJ

Freakonomics – 2010 – Various Directors

Pop economics served up in a slick power point documentary by smarmy talking heads with non-stop smarmy elevator music throughout.  Considering this is a lecture mostly dealing with incentives, I can’t justifiably concoct one to recommend spending 90 minutes staring at this waiting for it to finish. JJ

Animal Kingdom – 2010 – David Michôd

There’s a rare quality to this bleak and violent Australian drama about a teenager who moves in with his aunt’s fucked-up family following his mother’s death from an overdose.  All manner of shit happens, and yet AK straddles a fine line, somehwere between a dream and a nightmare. Watch it. JJ

Despicable Me – 2010 – Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Very cute and funny animation about the world’s biggest villain being outvillained and his quest to outvillain the outvillainer with his dastardly plan to shrink the moon. Along the way he learns there’s more to life than shrinking the moon. Brian Murray

127 Hours – 2010 – Danny Boyle

This is a movie about a mountain climber who got his hand caught between a rock and a crevice in a canyon. Come on Danny, an hour and a half… Brian Murray

Unstoppable – 2010 – Tony Scott

A train without a driver carrying explosive material takes a scenic trip through Pennsylvania only to be rescued by Denzel and friends. I thought it would be a train wreck, but it turns out it wasn’t:) Brian Murray

True Grit – 2010 – Ethan and Joel Coen

The only thing remarkable about this Coen brothers remake is that it’s pretty unremarkable. The pair stick rigidly to the strictures of the Western: horses, guns, whiskey, a smart-talking marshall, violence, vengenance and ahhhh the Wild West. All the right ingredients, but undercooked. JJ

Ghetto Stories – 2010 – John McDougall

A movie, surprisingly, about black people in the ghetto. Selling drugs, “fronting,” driving Escalades, being in gangs, taking drugs, calling each other ‘bitches’ and ‘niggas’. Unoriginal, and a waste of time. Go cut the grass. Brian Murray

The Kids Are Alright – 2010 – Lisa Cholodenko

The kids are alright but the adults are screwed up. A lesbian couple and their teenage kids’ become entangled with the kids sperm donor father in a frank and funny depiction of 21st century family life. Messy and triumphant, just like any family. One to watch. JJ

Exit Through the Gift Shop – 2010 – Banksy?

For his latest piece Banksy has created an ‘artist’. And he’s shit, but that’s hardly the point. As maddening as this film might be for an artist with something worth painting, it’s worth looking at for shits, giggles and post-modern moans. JJ

Green Zone – 2010 – Paul Greengrass

Time Magazine called Green Zone the eight best film of 2010. More like 156th. Greengrass casts his go-to-guy Matt Damon as an army brass who suspects there is more to the second Iraq war than WMDs. A poor companion to Hurt Locker, In the Valley of Elah and especially Generation Kill.JJ

Wall Street:Money Never Sleeps – 2010 – Oliver Stone

Gekko returns and inevtibaly greed does and predictably it divides and conquers. For Stone it seems Wall Street is just an extension of the family; a hotbed of manipulation, moral hazards and meltdowns. The result is cliched crap with a Hollywood ending. I`d rather watch the ISEQ index of shares. JJ

The Social Network – 2010 – David Fincher

I like Facebook as much as I enjoy other peoples’ holiday diarrhoea stories but Fincher pulled off an unexpected and thoroughly entertaining hit with this reconstruction of the bitchy beginnings of the world’s most popular website. And Mark Zuckerburg doesn’t come off too bad; I might even send the über nerd a friend request.JJ

The Town – 2010 – Ben Affleck

I half wonder if Ben Affleck sees himself as filling the boots of Clint Eastwood. Back once again in Boston, Affleck is the brains behind a crew of successful Charlestown bank robbers but he wants out. Cue the girl, a “fahmah hastage.” One of 2010’s better omlettes. JJ

Toy Story 3 – 2010 – Lee Unkrich

Toy Story 3 was my first introduction to Woody et al. and it confirms what I always suspected; toys, penguins, pigs, they are all pretend people. The existential, but unanswered, question implicit in TS3 is, “Is it okay to bring toys to college?” Despite not crying, good story and great animation. JJ

The Brave One – 2007 – Neil Jordan

11.jpgI read somewhere that every story has already been told, and that is the case with this movie. It’s like Charles Bronson on estrogen and aired just before Oprah, minus the juicy parts. As my mother says: “They ruined the action with a love story.” Go and watch Death Wish for vigilante justice. Brian Murray

Jodie Foster is a New York DJ turned urban outlaw who is transformed into a bloody killer following a brutal attack in Central Park. More’s the pity they didn’t kill her and the film. Pass. JJ

Quantum of Solace – 2008 – Marc Foster

bondTake one clean shaven spy, two sultry chicks, endless car, plane and boat chases, mix in some exotic locations, vendettas, diminutive villains, public transport, touchscreen technology, the CIA, – and Canadian intelligence, who knew? – shake it all up and you have yourself another Bond installment. No classic, but it goes down okay. JJ

Watchmen – 2009 – Zack Snyder

watchmenThe longest three hours of my life; it should have been cut in half, or never made at all. The convoluted and unraveling plot spins all over these barely likable characters, not to mention the digital blue cock and balls all the way through the movie. (Brian gave it three expletives) Brian Murray

The Genius Club – 2006 – Timothy A. Chey

mv5bntk4mjcynzq3ml5bml5banbnxkftztcwmtm1nji0mq_v1_sx100_sy134_An intellectual thriller, debatably, about the greatest American brains gathered together to play a game with a nuke-wielding sociopath in order to save humanity, or at least the US. It does, however, deal with a lot of contemporary issues, while the “ostriches” of this world bury their heads in the sand. Brian Murray

After Sex – 2007 – Eric Amadio

2002912227954374937_rsAfter sex comes the seriousness, or comedy, or fighting or reality. This is a low budget comedy that uses sex, or the moments afterward, to focus on the relationships of eight different couples. Cliched at times it’s a reasonable diet of light entertainment with potential and some minor laughs. Entertaining.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona – 2008 – Woody Allen

vcbAn unconvincing and largely unfunny comedy, if only Woody Allen would stop and be content with the canon of work he has created. It was good when it was in New York, sometimes it was great - Bullets Over Broadway. But a muse doesn’t make a movie, even if she is drop dead gorgeous. JJ

Alice in the Cities – 1974 – Wim Wenders

30032-large2A charming and effortless road movie which sees the eponymous Alice, a nine-year-old girl, entrusted to a bewildered German journalist returning home from the US after an unsuccessful assignment. The pair have a lovely on-screen relationship and Wender’s fascination for trains, planes and monorails is marvellous. JJ

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – 2008 – Steven Spielberg

Calling all Hollywood stereotypes! All-American hero fights evil Russians with funny accents, check. Gets the girl of his dreams, check. Solves the mystery and saves his friends – all without breaking a sweat – or losing his hat, check check check! Perfect – if you’re in the mood for some cheap thrills. Cristina Pittelli

Spielberg has done this the old-fashioned way and the texture and color of the film are a testimony to this. Indy looks for a crystal skull that would gives supreme power. Brace yourselves for a close encounter of the 4th kind! Omid Nikfarjam

Adventures rarely beget the levels of fantasy in an Indiana Jones escapade. Despite the sluggish start it does pick up when the swashbuckling hits the jungle. However, I can’t help feeling that it was a cynical exercise by Spielberg, more interested in keeping the franchise alive than making a fine Indy adventure.JJ

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – 2007 – Andrew Dominik

assassinationofjessejames.gifTAJJbtCRF (even abbreviated it’s a mouthfull) brings the eponymous cowboys together for a train heist. Beautiful cinematography and well acted, it tries hard not to be a typical Western; loaded with flowery narration and poetic visual sequences. Succeeds in leaving one feeling bored and emotionally detached from a potentially great story.
Cristina Pittelli

Narrated in prose, directed in poetry – Cristina is correct, this is not a typical Western. Shoot-outs are few and infrequent, but this is more of character study than a “go for your guns.” Boring – okay a little at times, but Pittelli would rather have you sing karaoke to Mariah Carey! JJ