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Non-Review Review: The Family

I can’t tell you what The Family is. Not because of omerta or anything as cliché as that, but because it seems like The Family itself doesn’t know. I can describe what happens in the film, taking you through the events as they unfold on screen. I can describe the set-up. I can talk about its obvious influences. But I can’t tell you what exactly Luc Besson’s latest film actually is, because it seems like Besson himself can’t make up his mind.

Is it an action film with a quirky and unconventional set-up? Is it a gangster comedy about a former crook trying to go straight? Is it a fish-out-of-water comedy of manners about Americans arriving in northern France? Is it a pitch black comedy about a self-justifying sociopath attempting to carve out his own place in the world? Is it a high-stakes thriller about a family putting their lives on the line? Is it a weird coming-of-age drama? The Family is all of these things at various points, but it never commits to any of them.

Instead, it uses these elements to just keep circling until the running time is over.

Family values...

Family values…

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Non-Review Review: People Like Us

People Like Us has an endearingly earnest premise and a solid enough cast, but it’s let down by clumsy writing and somewhat awkward direction. People Like Us is never sure whether it’s only getting started or nearing an emotional resolution, to the point where it seems like there’s a string of false endings in this under-two-hour feature. Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks make for two endearing leads, but they find themselves struggling against an overly melodramatic script and direction that never seems to entirely trust the cast.

A close shave…

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A Look Back at Burton and Keaton’s Batman (and Bruce Wayne)…

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

With the release of The Dark Knight Rises just around the corner, it seems like Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of Batman is getting a lot of attention and generating a lot of reflection. I have to admit, I think that the director’s take on the character presents the best live action interpretation ever, and probably the single best take on the character since Batman: The Animated Series during the nineties. However, I can’t help but feel that Tim Burton’s take on the character gets brushed aside a little too easily, dismissed from consideration far too quickly. In particular, I’m especially fond of Michael Keaton’s superb central performance as Bruce Wayne and Batman. While I wouldn’t necessarily rank his performance as better than Christian Bale or Kevin Conroy, I do think that Keaton’s Batman (and especially his Bruce Wayne) get unfairly overlooked.

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Non-Review Review: Dark Shadows

I really liked Dark Shadows. Of course, the film comes with the proviso that it’s probably nothing at all like anybody is expecting, at least based on the trailers. While there are elements of a comedy about a vampire lost in time, Tim Burton is far too busy constructing an elaborate spoof of a gothic melodrama to every really develop that thread. Instead, it’s a movie that seems wry and self-aware more than it is side-splittingly hilarious, an old-fashioned homage to the melodramatic horrors of old rather than a compelling story in its own right. I don’t think anybody could argue that this is truly “classic” Burton, measured against Ed Wood or Batman Returns. However, it is a director who seems to be having a great deal of fun playing with some rather esoteric toys.

Collins family values…

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Non-Review Review: What Lies Beneath?

What we’ve got here is a solid, old-fashioned ghost story with more restraint and grace than any number of Hollywood shockers. A slow, moody and intense look at the collapsing marital relationship between Claire and Norman Spencer after their daughter goes to college, it takes its time getting were it’s going, but manages to seem a classy flick.

I was also shivering a bit after watching the movie...

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Non-Review Review: Batman Returns

I adore Batman Returns. It tends to be a rather polarising film, and certainly a polarising Batman adaptation. It was famously too dark and too weird for mainstream audiences, with too much creepy and freaky stuff serving to distress the parents of children who gobbled up Batman-themed Happy Meals. I think it holds up the best of the four Burton and Schumacher Batman films, because it finds a way to balance Burton’s unique approach and style with that of the Caped Crusader. While Burton’s Batman occasionally struggled to balance the director’s vision with a relatively conventional plot (to the point where Vicki Vale stuck out like a sore thumb, and the movie wasn’t the most coherently plotted of films), here there’s a much greater sense of balance at play, and a feeling that Burton isn’t compromising, and yet is working with the characters.

Shine a light…

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