Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

slumdog millionaire poster 5 rating  (5/5) drama, romance

Reference: imdb6 | wikipedia12

Reviews: Roger Ebert (4/4)| IMDb External Reviews | Rotten Tomatoes 94% | Metacritic 86%

This is a beautiful movie. It has an engaging story. The terrific cinematography captures India in a beautiful, yet realistic, way that I’ve never seen before. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) won Best Picture at the 2008 Golden Globes (see video). It deserved the win.

slumdog millionaire (2008) - young jamel trapped in an outhouse The casting was impeccable. Each of the three main characters age over the film. Three distinct actors played each of the three main characters (for a total of 9 actors) in childhood, youth and young adulthood. While obviously impossible, I really felt I was watching the same actor playing each character, aging through each stage of their respective lives. This was the first movie for all of them. All were very good.

slumdog millionaire (2008) - jamel answers questions on who wants to be a millionaireI’m glad I didn’t know much about the plot before I entered the cinema. I don’t want to ruin it for you beyond what is revealed in the trailers. An unlikely boy (Jamel) from the Indian slums becomes a contestant on India’s version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’. The story – how a boy from the slums got to where he is, how his devotion to a girl, as she grew into a young woman, propelled him through life – is revealed through flash-backs. The story is lovely.

If you enjoy shows like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, you’ll want to hang around for the entertaining credits. I highly recommend this movie.

Casino Royale (2006)

casino royale cover art 5rating  (5/5) action, adventure, thriller

Reference: imdb6 | wikipedia12
Reviews: Roger Ebert | IMDb External Reviews | Rotten Tomatoes 94% | Metacritic 81%

As I did before watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I went back and watched the fantastic Casino Royale (2006) in preparation for the forthcoming Quantum Solace (2008). Quantum Solace takes-up 15 minutes after Casino Royale ends.

daniel craig - casino royale (2006) opening credit - gun sites Casino Royale (2006) is a remake of thee earlier Peter Sellers, Casino Royale (1967). The remake follows the classic James Bond formula – exotic locals, fast action sequences, beautiful women and sports cars. But this time, Daniel Craig’s Bond is blonde haired, blue-eyed and superb.

daniel craig - casino royale (2006) - crane jumping action sequence

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The Dark Knight (2008)

batman poster thumbnail 5 rating  (5/5)

Reference: imdb6 | wikipedia12
Reviews: Roger Ebert | IMDb External Reviews | Rotten Tomatoes 95% | Metacritic 82%

Batman in The Dark Knight (2008)

Wow! The Dark Knight was so good I would have wanted to give it 5.5 Dale-heads out of 5. But, its whopping 2.5 hour length, and the fact that I don’t have a graphic for 5.5 Dale-heads, pulls it back to a meagre perfect 5 out of 5. 🙂

I quite enjoyed Batman Begins (2005). The Dark Knight was even better. In this instalment, Christian Bale‘s Batman, Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman ) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) had been making significant strides in reducing the crime-ridden Gotham City we encountered in Batman Begins until a new arch-villain, The Joker (Heath Ledger), rose up to challenge them. And challenge-them he does.

heath ledger as the joker in the black knight (2008)Heath Ledger as the Joker was spectacular and is a shoe-in for Best Supporting Actor. He steels the show from Christian Bale, though Bale’s performance was very good too. Ledger’s creepy, nuanced performance of a sociopath is acting at its best.

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Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Kung Fu Panda Poster 5 rating  (5/5) – animation, action, comedy 
Kung Fu Panda is a beautiful, vibrant, original and, dare I say, inspirational, movie. I had high expectations going in and they were exceeded.

With a few notable exceptions (Nacho Libre) I’ve enjoyed pretty much every movie I’ve seen that featured Jack Black. This role, which seemed written for him, is no exception.

Animated features are hardly a novelty these days. We take their high production values for granted. Yet this Dreamworks production is a notch above. It has an authentic Chinese and kung-fu look and feel. The directors and artists pay particular attention to the details of Chinese architecture, painting, sculpture and philosophy. The colours are more vibrant, more real than usual. It ‘feels’ warmer and more believable. During the movie I noted to myself that this movie should be well received in China. It’s as close to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) as an animated movie can get.

It’s funny. I laughed out loud many times. With one exception (hint, there’s a Nacho Libre reference) it does not rely on the inside-Hollywood humour that has become common in animated movies. Instead, the movie’s original story stands on its own.

Kung Fu Panda 2008 - Oogway Chooses Po as the Next Dragon Warrior

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Vertigo (1958)

5-rating (5/5) drama, mystery, romance, thriller
In Vertigo (1958) a retired police officer played by Jimmy Stewart is forced to confront his dizzying fear of heights (vertigo) in order to solve a  mystery.

A friend’s wife, played by Kim Novak, is suffering from a form of dissociative fugue (sudden personality changes combined with travel to non-customary places and the inability to recall what happened). As she wanders off, she behaves as though she’s embodied an ancestor that committed suicide a century earlier. The husband hires Stewart to follow her around to both protect her and to be sure of her illness before committing her to a sanatorium.

As Stewart becomes increasingly infatuated with Novak, a love triangle forms. His not-so-secretly-in-love-with-him buddy, played by Barbara Bel Geddes, becomes increasingly concerned over Stewart’s new obsession.

Stewart was 50 when this movie was made. Novak and Geddes were 25 and 36 respectively. As a 43 year old male, I like to fantasize that women in their mid-twenties to mid 30’s will be attracted to me when I’m 50. But, alas, this only happens in the movies. 🙂

Vertigo (1958) - Jimmy Stewart beseeches Kim Novak to take things one step furtherA Post Card from 1958 San Francisco

Vertigo (1958) - Barbara Bel Geddes sits by her window with 1958 San Francisco as a back drop Vertigo is shot in and around 1958 San Francisco. The city and surrounding countryside play integral roles in the plot. A first kiss at Cypress Point is punctuated with a wave crashing to the shore. A flock of birds takes off from the lagoon as the characters stroll past the Palace of Fine Arts. Coit Tower stands prominently outside the windows of both Stewart’s and Geddes’ apartments. The  streets of San Francisco are constantly highlighted as Stewart follows Novak around.

Vertigo (1958) - Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak kiss at Cypress Park    Vertigo (1958) - Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak stroll past San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Poster5-rating  (5/5) action, adventure
I had a silly Indiana grin on my face as I strode out of the cinema whistling the John Williams theme song. Did I like it? Yes indeed.

        "Too Much of Life is Wasted in the Waiting"

cate blanchett - indiana jones and the kindgeom of the crystal skullThis quote from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull(2008) imdb6 sums things up nicely. It has been a long 19 year wait since Indy and his father rode off into the sunset (literally) at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade imdb6.

I liked it despite a questionable plot, err, ‘twist’. It held fast to the winning Indy formula:

exotic locals, James-Bond-style action sequences, beautiful cinematography, ancient treasure hunts, pictogram puzzle solving, the supernatural, wise-cracking quizzical humour, whips and guns, hero vs. villain, feisty and reluctant love interest, implausible, yet engaging, fantastical story, snappy (and sappy) dialogue, snakes, critters and Harrison Ford’s trademark grin.

mutt, indy and marion - indiana jones and the kindgeom of the crystal skullHarrison was Harrison. A flawless performance despite 19 intervening years. It was great to have Karen Allen reprise her role as Indy’s original love interest Marion. I asked in my recap what happened to Marion? The Crystal Skull neatly answered the question and tied it up in a bow.  Cate Blanchett played a wonderfully eccentric and strangely sexy KGB agent. Shia LaBeouf (a relative unknown to me) adequately played Marion’s son and adventurer in training. The happy-go-lucky Denholm Elliot (Marcus Brody) passed away in 1992 so Jim Broadbent ably stood in for him as the dean of Indy’s college. If you look closely you’ll see a picture of Elliot hanging on a hall wall. But, you won’t have to look closely to see a statue of him. 🙂 Sadly Sean Connery, chose not to come out of retirement to reprise his role as Dr. Jones Sr.

The cinematography, music, special effects, lighting and costumes were all spot on. It was Spielberg’s and Lucas’s ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ movie, and it worked.

Another fun romp. Go see it in a cinema, where it was meant to be seen.

Reference: Roger Ebert  |  IMDB External Reviews | Rotten Tomatoes | Metacritic |wikipedia12

Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man 5-rating  (5/5) super-hero, sc-fi, action, comedy
Iron Man (2008) is as good as super-hero movies get. Up there with Spiderman (2002) (IMDb) and Batman Begins (2005). It is a visual, dramatic and comedic treat, worthy of several Oscar nominations, possibly even a Best Picture nomination.

Iron Man Cast Prior to Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. had not made a movie equal to his talents – though very good in both Chaplin (1992) and Zodiac (2007). Ironically, his previous inability to control his drug addiction (single handedly torpedoing the admittedly declining Alley McBeal TV series), combined with his undeniable acting talent made him perfectly suited to play the eccentric, alcoholic, playboy, munitions magnate Tony Stark.

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