Alice in Wonderland (2009)


Tim Burton through and through and a decidedly non-Disney feel despite the studio support. Given the problematic material, this reimagining/sequal is entertaining and has some truly wonderful performances. As a whole, it is prettier to look at than it is a good movie, but it is more of a romp than it is a movie to begin with–that Burton managed to provide a good arc amidst the madness is impressive.

The Ghost Writer


Beyond being a tense, quiet indictment of Blair/Bush, Polanski manages to create a (I think) purposefully flawed mystery that leaves you to untangle what was conspiracy, what was coincidence, and what was truth. THe more I turned it over in my head, the less sure I became, but that was mostly due to one or two rather large logic flaws in the script that leave you with contradictions. Thus why I think they were purposeful. If there is a perfect solution to this movie, we didn’t find it, but even with some of its predictability and issues, I do respect it. If you like vintage Hitchcock and conspiracy theory films (without explosions), you’ll likely enjoy this one.

Ghost World


Think Clerks with girls… and, and with a bit of plot. (Nope, sorry, really didn’t like or get Clerks). Not knowing the original comic, can’t speak to its authenticity, but it feels more like a slow, intense coming-of-age movie more than an adapted graphic novel. Also, this is another fun “spot the actor” film as there are a number of soon-to-be-knowns and a couple established in the supporting cast.



If you’re willing to give the movie one absurd premise and let it go from there, there is some fun world-building and thought experiment going on. The action is on the gorey side, though it has one rather unique car chase and it isn’t afraid to play nasty with some of its characters. Wasn’t quite sure what we were going to get, but wasn’t disappointed for our time investment.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant


Overall, well conceived and filmed and, if it hadn’t bombed in theaters due to its extremely dark nature, I’d have watched the sequels. Ok, yes, this is aimed at tweens and the main hero is at the beginning of his journey (and therefore somewhat unformed). But if you can forgive HarryP in book 1, you can forgive this kid. Really expected less than we were served and there are some very nice touches throughout, though it is a bit light on the active female characters. But it doesn’t take itself too seriously all the time, which made for an entertaining viewing.

The Secret of Kells


Simply wonderful. Heavily influenced (I suspect) by the style of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack, but with a Celtic pallet. Much as Jack’s world is Japanese paintings come to life, so is Kells an illuminated manuscript taking form. It is a just dark enough to be entertaining for older kids and adults alike, though perhaps a bit scary for younger children. For lovers of the craft of anime, this is a must see.

The Road


This is one of those rare times that Netflix and several friends were wrong. WRONG, I say. First, let me admit that I haven’t read the book. This means that I get to approach the movie as its own entity; which it had better survive if it is to be taken seriously. While there was a great sense of disaster and unblinking, post-apocalyptic ennui, unless you take the whole as allegory it is absurd because of the son. The son, who has known no other life violates everything in world building that I’ve ever learned. He is clearly our representative in this horror wrought upon mankind (and I say that specifically because apparently all women have been eaten or committed suicide other than a very few in this world), which in allegory or metaphor or whatever else you want to dress this up as, could work–except he’s a whiny git that just grated on us. If you take this as a story, the son’s actions and emotions are horribly wrong since he’d have no reference for most of what he says and does. Honestly, we were shouting at the screen and finally, after giving it over an hour, zapped to the end… and were even more annoyed. What the chatter was about this film other than its color-bled bleakness. Just lousy writing and pointless story. A Boy and his Dog did this much better *and* you got to laugh.

Art, writing, life explained… or at least commented upon…