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Article Type: Review

Blogs CTN-X: A Student's Perspective

By Dan Sarto | Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 2:00pm

CTNX is for the young and hungry, boasting a crowd of current students and the recently graduated, who are looking at an angle into their beloved, but notoriously tough, contemporary animation industry. There’s no doubt the event will keep on drawing in professionals, studios, and students, but it remains to be seen whether it can live up to high expectations. Seeing young talent engage with their idols, and feeling their way into a field they are clearly passionate about, is where CTN truly shines.

Blogs THE ARTIST (2011) (****)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 11:11pm

Michel Hazanavicius' effortlessly charming dramedy is really like discovering a lost film from the silent age. The director of the popular French OSS 117 spy spoof series recreates every aspect of a black and white silent film of the 1920s. From the classic 1.37:1 aspect ratio to the title cards to the dramatic pitch, he gets all the details right. His performers nail the acting style, which is a key to the film's success. But it's not just a gimmick. It's a reminder that sometimes words get in the way of visual storytelling.

Blogs Blu-ray: ANOTHER EARTH (2011)

Your appreciation of this AVC transfer relies heavily on knowing the source of this indie sci-fi drama. Filmed with a 720p camera on a next to nothing budget, the picture contains a great deal of grain that increases exponentially under low lighting conditions. One scene in the snow at night really highlights its digital origins. Banding and aliasing often creep up in higher contrasted scenes. Color are muted and natural, which fits the cool mood. But when compared to the DVD version, clarity is greatly increased with the grain issue minimized. All things considered this 1080p release is about as good as this material can look.

Blogs HUGO (2011) (****)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 6:13pm

What could a 3-D family film from Martin Scorsese be like? With HUGO now as an example, the answer is magical. And it's a magic that Scorsese is best suited to bring to life — the magic of the movies. At one point, a young boy visits a movie studio and the director leans down to him and tells him if he's ever wondered where his dreams come from this is where they are made.

Blogs Perry’s Previews: Happy Feet 2

By Perry Chen | Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 3:06pm

I found quite a few flaws in this film, although they are mostly on the scientific side. First of all, male elephant seals do not stay with and care for their young. Also, puffins, which live in the Arctic, cannot fly the great distance to Antarctica (which is about 22,000 miles away). Puffins are not built for flying long distances and are better adapted for swimming.

Blogs A DANGEROUS METHOD (2011) (***1/2)

David Cronenberg is not director shy in exploring the strangeness of sexuality. So it seems obvious that he would tackle psychoanalysis pioneers Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Based on Christopher Hampton's screenplay adaptation of John Kerr's book, the conflict between Freud and Jung centers around their relationship with patient / future psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein, who will challenge their thoughts on repression.

Blogs THE MUPPETS (2011) (***)

Jason Segel has made his love letter to the Muppets. This nostalgic comedy is clearly made by fans. It takes some vibe from the TV series and some from the features. While it might not have the spark of the original MUPPET MOVIE or the very best of THE MUPPET SHOW, it respects those origins and presents a heartfelt film for a cynical world.

Blogs THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 1 (2011) (**)

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 11:37am

This is a movie for fans. While I haven't read the books it feels like every detail is here, because it's a slog to move through. If you don't care about these characters going in, it's not really going to change your opinion. For non-fans it really is like getting invited to a stranger's wedding.

Blogs HAPPY FEET TWO (2011) (**)

If George Miller's original dancing and singing penguins film has a happy surprise than its sequel is the opposite — nothing about it is surprising. The story borrows a little from the original and attaches it to a familiar family/action plot. The first incorporated popular songs into the fabric of its world and the characters, while the songs here are uninspired, obvious or just not that good. Not even two krill that sound a lot like Brad Pitt and Matt Damon can save the day.

Blogs IMMORTALS (2011) (***)

Tarsem Singh brings his unique visual style from his previous films THE CELL and THE FALL to this Greek myth epic. Within his surreal CG landscapes and strange, but beautiful, costumes, he gives us a classic hero and a maniacal villain. These elements worked for me. If you allow the simple man vs. man story and the visuals to sweep you along, you will find enjoyment in this 300-inspired actioner.

Blogs J. EDGAR (2011) (***1/2)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 10:45pm

Interwoven throughout Clint Eastwood's biopic of J. Edgar Hoover is Hoover dictating his "Untitled FBI Story" to a series of young agents. One agent asks if the story of Hoover and the FBI can be separated. It's hard to say because for better or worse Hoover was the FBI for most of its existence. He became the Bureau's head in 1924 and stayed there through eight presidents. He asks another agent who the most famous man in the world is and the agent replies, "You, sir."

Blogs MELANCHOLIA (2011) (***1/2)

Depression is an oppressive force. It filters all light through murky waters that the sufferer is drowning in. Lars von Trier finds a metaphor for it that seems so obvious and yet it comes off ingenious. A mysterious planet is headed for a collision course toward Earth. That's a big weight on your shoulders.

Blogs TOWER HEIST (2011) (**1/2)

For a heist to work it needs a good plan, but it also needs perfect execution. Brett Ratner's heist comedy has a good plan, but doesn't deliver on the details. It's inspired by the Bernie Madoff scandal where the fraudulent investor bankrupted the savings of thousands of people. In the film, a wealthy investor runs a similar Ponzi scheme, but in this fiction his victims set out to steal the millions he has hidden in his penthouse apartment.

Blogs Blu-ray: CARS 2 (2011)

Disney continues their winning streak with this showroom quality release. The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer has impeccable detail from the slightest dents and rust on the cars to the vast crowds of vehicles at the races. Color quality is electric, giving viewers vibrant primary colors, especially the neon in the Japanese sequence. Digital anomalies are pretty much absent. With so much red in the palette, the absence of banding and aliasing is impressive.

Blogs Blu-ray: ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 10:26am

While it's not perfect, Sony does bring a handsome transfer of this low budget production, which is destined to become a cult classic. The MPEG-4 AVC encoded Blu-ray is true to its source. The color palette is desaturated and dark due to the low light. This lessens detail in the outdoor night sequences, as well as suffers from limited pixelation, but the picture becomes richer in the brighter indoor scenes. Film grain is natural and unobtrusive. Black levels, however, are inconsistent, but shine in the inky black of the alien invaders, which are meant to look like black holes running across the screen. And boy do the glow in the dark teeth of the aliens pop.

Blogs Blu-ray: WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (2011)

From Fox comes a beautiful transfer of Francis Lawrence's romantic ode to the circus. The AVC encoded 1080p transfer is a nearly perfect. The color palette is rich and nuanced. The bookend sequences, which have a heavier film grain, have a more natural tone. When the film moves to the Depression era, the saturated colors pop. The lavish red of August's ringmaster jacket. The rustic circus banners. The detail provides that virtual 3-D appeal. Look at the detail of the face of elephant and the vintage costumes. The only blaring problem is pixilation during the scene where Jacob catches the train at night. This is probably due to the scene being shot day for night and digitally rendered dark.

Blogs Perry’s Previews Movie Review: Puss in Boots

By Perry Chen | Friday, October 28, 2011 at 3:18pm

Most people know and love Puss in Boots, the charismatic feline companion of Shrek, but who knows his mysterious past? Puss in Boots, a new animation from DreamWorks reveals the thrilling adventures the swashbuckling orange tabby went on before he met the ogre. The film is a clever mash-up of many well-known nursery rhymes and fairy tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Mother Goose, and Humpty Dumpty.

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