Red Riding

1974's reporter, Eddie; 1980's detective, Peter; and 1983's lawyer, John

Every year, I go to the Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison, and wallow in the excitement of having literally hundreds of movies available to watch that I might never have seen otherwise. This was the twelfth year, and it’s huge now compared to what it was like the first time I went, way back in the third year, I think it was. Then, it was actually humanly possible to watch all the films over the two and half days of the festival. Most of them were shown at least two or three times.
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Clash of the Titans

The Kraken shows off allll his huge, sharp, pointy teeth.

I mentioned once before that in many movies, the best way to tell the heroes from the villains is to look at their offices. Impossibly neat and tidy office = villain. Terribly messy and disorganized office = hero. Well, no one has any offices here, but this time you can tell a lot by the tails. Anything with a tail (prehensile, not one that just hangs there) is trying to kill people.
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Repo Men

Jude Law pointing a gun and looking screaming mad.

Of course it’s easy to talk about the good movies. You leave the theatre still thinking about the film, reminding yourself to let Steve know how good it was, because he’ll love it, maybe even wondering when you’ll be able to buy a copy to watch at home. And it’s easy to talk about the bad movies, too. You want to find someone to vent to about the two hours you just completely wasted, not to mention the cost of the tickets and snacks. Maybe you also want to warn people away.
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Green Zone

Matt Damon as Roy Miller, trying to unravel the puzzle.

It’s 2003. Do you know where your weapons of mass destruction are?

I suppose that was a common joke back then, but luckily or not, I can’t really remember back that far. Truthfully, in spite of the awesomeness that is Matt Damon, I was a little unsure about this film because I’m so terrible at keeping track of politics and current events, which is basically the entirety of the movie. It’s okay, though; as I suspected, they spell everything out quite clearly for the politically challenged like me, so you have a good plot and the awesomeness that is Matt Damon. What more could you want?
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The Comic Book that Ate Hollywood

Kaboom! Pow! Kablooey! The art of the visual sound effect.

Well, took over Hollywood would be more accurate, but not as dramatic. The fact is, from Superman to Batman, Spider-Man to Iron Man, the movies have always had a place for heroes (at least as long as they have ‘man’ in their names somewhere, apparently). Okay, there’s also the Fantastic Four, but face it — they have probably the worst track record ever for comic book heroes making the transition to the silver screen. If you count characters like Zorro and ruthless anti-heroes like V of V for Vendetta, that makes for a lot of super-hero flicks.
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Alice in Wonderland

A shockingly red-haired, crazed, badly-dressed Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.

As soon as the movie starts, you know you’re watching the work of Tim Burton and listening to the work of Danny Elfman. It almost looks ordinary to start with — it’s a proper Victorian setting, with only a little girl’s dream to give any hint of the weirdness ahead. But you can forget about the little girl, because things quickly move ahead thirteen years, since this movie is about the 19-year-old Alice (Mia Wasikowska, who’s apparently twenty but looks more like sixteen), who remembers her adventures down the rabbit hole only as a vague, recurring dream.

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Shutter Island

Deputy Warden, Federal Marshal Daniels, and Federal Marshal Aule take a walk.

Personally, I still find Leonardo diCaprio to be kind of an iffy actor. He’s improved an awful lot since he first made me wince in the movie about the really big ship (he did fine in Blood Diamond, for instance), but he still seems to me to need a little help to manage a really good performance. Though I freely admit I might still be holding a subconscious grudge over The Aviator. And the movie about the really big ship.
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