Short reviews for these films below.
Spread (USA, 2009)
Misleading trailer made me think it's just another "pretty boy is fooling around until he meets a girl, the one and the only, and decides to settle down" romantic comedy, always so typical for Hollywood. But I also spotted some dark vibe and decided to give it a shot. And I am glad I did.
This is definitely not a comedy, I would rather say this is more like romantic tragedy, there is absolutely no intentions here to make you laugh. The film is surprisingly smart and really not cheesy at all, it deals with serious and meaningful issues of reality, showing sometimes sad and harsh consequences of life. This is not another shiny and fake Hollywood product, and Kutcher maybe is one in real life, but in this film he does really good job to show the opposite and unpleasant side.
Great story that very interesting to watch, sometimes completely captivating, and with lots of sex scenes. This film can only surprise you.
Recommended for mature people, young kids that only want to see greasy Hollywood fantasies with hot girls and sex will be disappointed.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (USA, 2009)
Harmless and cute all family animation with a message. Not much laughs and gags, just another feel good and non-offensive fun movie to bring a smile on your face.
Apparently most of the people love just that, making it the highest grossing film in the world in 2009. Expect Ice Age 4 in a few years, because unlike the dinosaurs, this franchise refuses to die.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (USA, 2009)
Most definitely the best in the series. Somebody finally understood that when you adapt a book into a movie you don't have to show every single event. You just being very selective, showing only the central points and creating general mood, the viewers will connect the dots by themselves. Therefore the film flow is better than in previous installments, the story seems to be more focused and has certain and clear direction, the film is actually interesting to watch.
In the Loop (UK, 2009)
Very amusing and fast talking political comedy, based purely on conversations between the characters. Absurdity and spineless opportunism of politics are the main target for the mocking, and it is delivered with favorite English charm and funny rudeness through really great dialogs. I think Ari Gold has British brother named Malcolm Tucker.
The small scale of the film makes it less impressive, and the movie in general feels like a single episode in something bigger. Nice and pleasant waste of time.
Angel of Death (USA, 2009)
Riding on popularity she gained after her role in Death Proof and after a hug from Tarantino, Zoe Bell is no longer just a stunt-woman, she is becoming an actress. In this film she is a cold-hearted hired assassin, that after one of her jobs goes wrong, starts seeing ghosts of her victims and understands she can't do this anymore. So she decides to terminate the crime syndicate, that was using her, to make things right and get a closure.
The movie is very low budget, shot on HD camera, but this is actually turns to be one of its strong sides. It looks gritty, real, rough and stylishly minimalistic, the dialogs written well and I don't think I can use the word "Pathetic" towards anything in this movie.
The movie performs above what can be expected from such production, and it is pleasantly surprising. Zoe holds herself quite decently, but sometimes obviously lacking the acting experience when trying to display more complex sides of her character.
It can be easy to bash this movie for the cliche characters and average acting, but I think only real haters will do that. It's a B-movie, it's a silly script and a very low budget. It's all about how you approach such content, and open mind is the only way to enjoy it.
Public Enemies (USA, 2009)
Mostly disappointing. Very hard and scrupulous set design, recreating the reality of 30's, also good action scenes and shoot-outs, but it seems that this is all there is. There is no solid story, the design of the characters and their personalities is very dry and superficial, and the movie just seems to be pointless, when looking beyond the simple visual aesthetics.
The movie feels like Michael Mann didn't really decide what to do with it, either to use "news report" style with chronological display of events without emotional involvement, just facts, or whether take the viewers into the minds of two opposites, the gangster and he lawman, and show us what is going on inside on very personal level. Seems like he is trying to do both, and the final result is stuck somewhere in between, making the film boring, not suspenseful and absolutely anti-climatic. And in such place even the guns and the shootings are just annoying crackle noises with no meaning or purpose.
Great movies you want to see more than once, for whatever reason. I don't feel like seeing this film again.
The Ax (France/Belgium/Spain , 2005)
Ever heard such expression - "I would kill for this job"? Well, apparently Bruno Davert, the main protagonist of this film, took it a little too serious and actually started to kill people to get his dream job. But since he is everything but a killer, he is extremely clumsy in doing so, avoiding being discovered only by his incredible luck.
Dark comedy done right.
The Tale of Despereaux (UK/USA, 2008)
Whatever they tried to do - it didn't work. The plot builds so many story lines and introduces so many characters, that the movie was suppose to be twice longer just to develop all of them.
Moreover, it is based on the children novel, and as usual for such adaptations, the film cannot disconnect itself from the origin, heavily dragging the viewers through the story because it is desperately trying to imitate it. What can work as words not always works as visuals, and this movie is example for that.
Up (USA, 2009)
Skillful storytelling with a message, but I don't see anything special in this film.
Up is not as complex and interesting as previous Pixar's films, there is a strange feeling of forceful direction and false intentions, but it has number of strong moments, making the movie entertaining and acceptable overall. I think longer run time could fix some of the problems, because things feel a bit rushed and undeveloped. Still better than some other animated films I saw this year.
Chaw (South Korea, 2009)
I don't know what is it about Korean films, but even such washed up sub genre as creature horror suddenly receives fresh breeze of air when done by Korean filmmakers, and it doesn't matter that the story is pretty much direct rip-off of the Jaws.
Mixing dark humor, classic slapstick comedy and horror elements, this movie is one joyful ride.