by James Gilmore
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the mantra of the 16-bit generation who grew up in the early 90s. A musical about adolescent love with a surprising amount of heart, only there’s fighting instead of singing. Although dressed with the trappings of video game culture, the film is actually a kung fu movie at its core, albeit a very surreal one.
Michael Cera plays himself as usual, although his transition from self-conscious nerd to super fighter is a welcome surprise. Co-stars Kieran Culkin, Ellen Wong and others are, despite their obscurity in American films, nothing less than refreshing and delightful, although Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance comes across as relatively flat by comparison.
This filmic experience proves overwhelmingly satisfying to the A.D.D. senses of the modern movie-goer, no doubt due to Edgar Wright’s brilliant artistic direction, and should be required viewing for the video game generations, although everyone else will find Scott Pilgrim completely senseless and perplexing at best.
Rating: 5 / 5
by James Gilmore
Black Swan is perfect in both conception and construction, although the plot and main character leave something to be desired. Despite a very good script, Aronofsky’s masterful directing far exceeds it, nearly surmounting the story’s shortcomings. Nina and Erica Sayers both lack adequate character depth, as does their relationship. The end result is a strange film whose story fails to engage the audience enough to match the superb filmmaking which surrounds it. Once again, a potential masterpiece is thwarted by a thin script. On the other hand, the exquisite filmic storytelling boasts powerful imagery and cinematography with a strong European—but especially French—influence.
Excellent casting with outstanding performances by the actors. Mila Kunis’ surprising performance demonstrates her capability to grapple serious acting weight while Vincent Cassel’s work falls nothing short of superlatively stunning. Natalie Portman delivers her best performance to date upon transformation into the Black Swan, but otherwise remains her usual self in which she appears to be perpetually on the verge of tears.
On a side note, one might almost call Black Swan “The Machinist for Women.”
Rating: 4 / 5
by James Gilmore
Christopher Nolan’s Inception sports an original but difficult concept, which the film explains surprisingly well, although more could have been left to the speculative imagination. The unfortunate side effect of having a difficult concept is that it requires a lot of time to illustrate, meaning the film takes 60 minutes to get to the heart of the concept, at which point it runs with the intensity of a driven madman. The close cutting adds to the dreamlike quality of the story but cannot alter the impression that one is watching two or three films rolled into one—the total of which ultimately seems lacking in a final or third-act twist whose gravitas is appropriate to the story. Fortunately, the aggressive pacing of the story helps blunt the ham-fisted dialogue and the glaring plot hole which serves as the crux for the third act. As for acting, Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance is adequate but overshadowed by the quiet show-stealer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Overall, a slight disappointment but a supremely wonderful, well-executed concept.
Rating: 3 / 5