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Critics Just Wanna Have Fun: Why I Dislike the “They Don’t Get It” Argument…

I like to think I am open minded. Just a few weeks ago, I published an article defending big budget blockbusters from their detractors. However, I find myself growing frequently frustrated when it comes to fans using the old “critics don’t like fun” argument to defend a given movie from any sort of meaningful debate and criticism. It happens a few times a year, most spectacularly with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen back in 2009, but also this year with Sucker Punch. The film has received a critical lambasting, but fans are always quick to rush to the internet to critique the critics, claiming things like “they don’t get it” and “they don’t understand” or nonsense like that.

And, you know what? That’s just plain wrong.

Movie for suckers?

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10 out of 10: The Ten Best Movies of the Year

Contrary to popular opinion, I was actually relatively impressed with 2010 as a year in cinema. It was no 2008, with a consistent string of impressive hits (both big and small). However, it wasn’t as bitterly disappointing as 2009 was, with letdown after letdown. Sure, there weren’t that many hugely successful sequels or reboots, but the vast majority of them weren’t soul-destroying wastes of film. So I’m quite happy. This year I actually had to cut several items from the list to get it down to a perfect ten.

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Straight Up, With A Twist…

In the run-up to Inception, I got thinking about Christopher Nolan’s extensive filmography, and how many movies of his involve massive twists in the last third (The Dark Knight is arguably the exception, unless you consider the addition of a second villain to be a ‘twist’). It got me thinking about the nature of plot twists and how they can essentially harm and help a movie.

Yes, this would be the best twist ending ever...

Note: This article is going to discuss twists on the ends of movies and – as such – might be fairly heavy on the old spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

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Do We Give Too Much Kudos to Established Directors?

There was (as ever) a rather interesting piece in the Guardian a few weeks back which suggested – what with Alice in Wonderland and Shutter Island coming out within weeks of each other and dominating film discussion in March – perhaps we tend to focus too much on established directors like Burton and Scorsese.

Because it’s one thing for a studio to take a project and market it with such frenzied hyperbole that for a week or two seeing it becomes all but obligatory for anyone wanting to remain a la mode. It’s quite another for film-goers to convince ourselves we need to see that same project through an increasingly forlorn belief in its director as a still-vital and relevant force. Whatever the implications of Burton’s Alice may be for exhibitors and all that newly-installed 3D technology, the nuts-and-bolts issue here is surely the length of time any once-great film-maker is given in the cinephile heart purely on the basis of dusty triumphs a decade or more in the past.

I thought it only fair to wait until I had seen bother of those big films to comment. Being entirely honest, I don’t think it’s entirely reasonable to lump Burton and Scorsese together as some sort joint proof of that assertion. In fact, I’d argue the two are very different sides to the same coin.

Is Burton picking his own creative bones dry?

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No Man is an Island: The Ending of Shutter Island…

I’ve probably said too much in my review of Shutter Island already, but the ending of the film merits discussion on its own, away from the chance of spoiling the viewing experience for anyone – much like I did with the ending of Inglourious Basterds.

Maybe Elias Koteas can shed some light on the ending...

Note: As the title and text directly above imply (or explicitly state), this post is about the ending of a movie currently in major release that you may or may not have seen. Reading ahead may ruin your enjoyment of the film if you haven’t already seen it. You have been warned.

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Non-Review Review: Shutter Island

I’ll talk a bit about my more tempered analysis of the film in a moment, but I think it’s only really fair to open with my gut reaction – those few words that escaped my mouth as I turned to my girl friend as the credits started to roll.

“I want to see this again.”

Is your mind the scene of the crime?

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Did Paramount Back the Wrong Horse in the Oscar Race?

It’s fun to analyse the Oscars. It’s even more fun before any individual awards have been handed out. I’ve already given my thoughts on the Best Picture race and the acting nods, but I was just thinking specifically about Paramount’s Oscar campaign this year. Making the infamously misguided decision to champion The Lovely Bones at the expense of all others, they were left empty-handed and red-faced when the film imploded. In hindsight, it looks like they made the wrong choice in pushing forward their prospective Best Picture nominees. Maybe they would have been better-pushed to get behind Star Trek?

Saorse wasn't the only lost during The Lovely Bones...

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10 for ’10: My Most Anticipated Movies of 2010…

‘Tis still (barely) the season and all that…

I thought I’d very quickly jot down my most anticipated movies of the upcoming 12 months. This is a personal list and is by no means anything official or objective. It’s subjective all the way, baby. Keep in mind that I am a nerd who lives in Ireland, so two of these bad boys have already seen release and mixed reception Stateside. So, let’s get this thing started.

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To Read or Not To Read?

Every year hundreds of books are adapted into movies. The adaptation process is (if Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman are to be believed) hell for the writer – but it’s also somewhat of a complex question for the film reviewer. Unlike the few films these days that have started their life as a script and have never before been offered to the public, the ideas, themes, characters and contents of the work now being produced as a blockbuster have all been let loose years ago. If reviewers should aspire to be educated in what they review, should they read the books before they see the films in order to properly judge them, or should the film itself stand on its own two feet to be judged as a success or failure on its own merits? On a more superficial level, is a reviewer better able to access what the audience expects from the film if they’ve read the book or should they act on the presumption that few moviegoers read the original work? Should they even care – is an attitude towards literary adaptations necessary for consistency in a film reviewer?

Book him, Leo...

Book him, Leo...

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Awards Season Forecast…

It’s summer time! That means blockbusters, comic book movies! It’s comic con time! That means more blockbuster and more comic book movie gossip! It seems that everything from the Tron viral campaign to the impending release of the Alice in Wonderland teaser is generating a lot of buzz. And quite right, too. We do live in the era of the geek. However, once we get into autumn proper, there are more prestigious films approaching. Looks like the studios are sticking to the tried-and-true “cram as many Oscar contenders as you can into the least amount of time” method, and there’s a huge schlock of films coming out. Here are just some of the main ones I’m looking forward to during awards season.

Starring Morgan Freeman? Check. Directed by Clint Eastwood? Check. Story of an iconic figure? Check. Story of triumph over adversity/prejudice? Check. Set in the past? Check. Oscar Gold? Check.

Starring Morgan Freeman? Check. Directed by Clint Eastwood? Check. Story of an iconic figure? Check. Story of triumph over adversity/prejudice? Check. Set in the past? Check. Oscar Gold? Check.

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