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Rent It

THE FIGHTER
[*Warning: Obvious spoiler ahead*]
Great care was paid to ensure that The Fighter be as authentic a true story as possible, which is also why its ending feels a tad misguided. Was it necessary to close the film on a note of uplifting triumph? That’s the expected conclusion, certainly, and it’s not as though there’s ever a moment where The Fighter seems like it might be veering down a path that hasn’t already been laid out for it in countless other sports films. But the humanity of the picture stems from its acrid family dynamics, and it’s in those moments that the film transcends the genre in which it’s forced to reside. In fact, so much time is dedicated to observing and developing the raw, complex relationships between the film’s central band of characters that when the pat, encouraging conclusion finally comes, it feels largely unearned. This is not a story with an easy resolution, and it’s a shame that The Fighter feels the need to provide it with one. The rest of the movie, thankfully, is good enough to overcome it. Christian Bale is mesmerizing as the jovial junkie who’s always the center of attention, and Mark Wahlberg is appropriately understated as the passive brother who’s continuously overshadowed by him. Their relationship is the driving force behind the film, and it’s also the narrative thread that satisfies most by the film’s end. While Bale steals the show early on, there comes a time when the character’s constant self-adulation grows (deliberately) tiresome, gracefully affording Wahlberg’s Micky the opportunity to step up and show his mettle—not merely in the ring, but amongst his controlling family. At that point, I was resolutely invested in the ensuing drama, and against better judgment, awaited a denouement that wouldn’t let an unwarranted “inspirational” finale undermine the complicated history of this combative lower class family. If only the film had the conviction to see all of its relationships through, rather than put the focus on the need to win a boxing match.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – A commentary by director David O. Russell, and a Warriors Code: Filming The Fighter featurette. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as deleted scenes, a Keeping the Faith featurette, and a digital copy of the film.

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BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
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When the full suite of Oscar nominations were announced a few weeks ago, squatting smack in the middle of the final five for the Best Visual Effects category was Clint Eastwood‘s film Hereafter. And a great many people went…  ‘huh?’

There are obviously effects in the film, which recreates the Indonesian tsunami from 2004. But against many of the other major effects players for 2010, the nomination still seemed strange. (The other nominees are Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Inception, and Iron Man 2.)

Here, then, is a five-minute video clip that offers an extensive, and often impressive breakdown of the film’s many effects. Read More »

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the final 15 contenders for the 2010 Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

This is only the first cut, though. Next, members of the Academy’s visual effects branch executive committee will select seven of the final 15. At that point, all the members of the visual effects branch watch 15 minute clip reels from those seven films and then select the five nominees. Eventually, one film will be given the Oscar on February 27 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. After the jump, look at the full list and join along in guessing which films will make the cut and which won’t. Read More »

TIFF Movie Review: Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter

Clint Eastwood‘s new film Hereafter is one of the most talked about films going into this year’s festival. When the schedule for the festival was announced, it featured one sole performance, and no press screenings.

Industry bloggers threw a fuss and Warner Bros responded that they planned to have a press screening sometime on the first Saturday of the festival. And they followed through with that promise. TIFF Press received an e-mail less than two hours before the newly announced screening. Most critics learned about the screening after it was too late. And what kind of screening room did they find to screen this highly anticipated movie? One that fit less than 140 people. To give you perspective, the biggest press screening room fits 557 people (I know this because we just saw Dustin Lance Black’s directorial debut on that screen).

Why would Warner Bros be so elusive about a press screening? Why screen the film only once publicly? Could it possibly be THAT bad? Might they be trying to prevent bad buzz from spreading fast? And if so, why submit the film to a film festival in the first place?

Update: I have talked to someone involved who says the press screening was scheduled weeks in advance. But the information was not available on any of the press schedule board updates. So I’m not sure why the majority of press were only alerted of it an hour and forty five minutes before the screening.

I can’t answer any of the questions above, but I can tell you what I thought of the film.

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hereafter-trailer-1

Is this a Clint Eastwood movie or one by M. Night Shyamalan? OK, I’m kidding, and now that I’ve completely stacked the deck against Hereafter by even mentioning that name I guess I should backtrack.

Clint Eastwood has called Hereafter his ‘chick flick.’ It features Matt Damon as a retired/reluctant psychic who brings together a boy (twins Frankie and George McLaren) who lost his brother and a woman (Cécile De France) who nearly died in the 2004. The film is certainly about loss and dealing with the ugly turns life takes, more than it is about the supernatural. Oh, hell, I’m probably not doing this one any favors. Just watch the trailer, after the break, and hopefully that will get the idea across. Read More »

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Last night we got a brief preview of some of the films that will appear in the always-entertaining Midnight Madness lineup at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Now we’ve got the full nine, which in addition to the three announced last night (Super, Bunraku and The Butcher, The Chef and the Swordsman) include John Carpenter‘s The Ward, Brad Anderson‘s Vanishing on 7th Street and Insidious, by James Wan.

But TIFF isn’t stopping there: a whole host of other high-profile films were announced for the fest today. They include Clint Eastwood‘s Hereafter, Casey Affleck‘s I’m Still Here, Matt ReevesLet Me In, Dustin Lance Black‘s directorial debut What’s Wrong With Virginia? and the Will Ferrell dramedy Everything Must Go, along with confirmation of Danny Boyle‘s 127 Hours, for which there’s a new photo. (Above.) This year’s TIFF looks like a good one: check info about all the films after the break. Read More »

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Clint Eastwood‘s upcoming Hereafter, starring Matt Damon, is now slated to close this year’s installment of the New York Film Festival. David Fincher’s The Social Network is opening the fest and Julie Taymor’s The Tempest is another of the big films; new additions to the program include Certified Copy, We Are What We Are (the ‘Mexican cannibal movie’), Another Year and Meek’s Cutoff. That is, most of the big Cannes films are in the fest, including Palme d’Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

Hereafter is written by Peter Morgan and features Damon as a reluctant psychic dealing with issues with his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) while Cecile De France plays a TV journalist who has a near-death experience during the 2004 tsunami. Their lives all come together along with a young boy dealing with the death of his twin brother. Early reports pegged it as a more supernatural film than it really seems to be. Rather, the movie is about loss and grief, and Eastwood has called it his ‘chick flick.’

After the break, the entire NYFF program as it currently stands. Read More »

buried-ryan-reynolds-5

The Entertainment Weekly fall preview issue is a bonanza of first looks and new images. Scans from the magazine are showing up online, and they have the first official still from the Coen Bros. remake of True Grit, new images from Let Me In and Buried, and the first look at Clint Eastwood‘s drama Hereafter. In addition, there’s a spy pic of Kristen Stewart on the set of On the Road, which is finally shooting after years of development by various filmmakers. Read More »

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