Movie Review (drama): “Northfork” (2003)

September 4, 2011 at 10:40 pm (drama, fantasy, movies, Uncategorized)

I’m sorry this movie went completely under my radar when it first came out, because it must have been amazing on the big screen. “Northfork” is dreamy and magical, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

The year is 1955, and the town of Northfork, Montana is 72 hours away from becoming a lake. Almost everybody’s been relocated. A team of company men (featuring the always wonderful James Woods) has been dispatched to talk the few remaining, stubborn straggles into leaving.

Meanwhile, the town priest (Nick Nolte), who ran a school and orphanage in the town’s heyday, is caring for Irwin, a desperately ill little boy who is too fragile to be moved.

About half of the action revolves around the company men, and their efforts to move the eccentric stragglers. These semi-surreal set pieces are loads of fun, showing a quirky, dry sense of humor that isn’t common in American films.

The other half of the film takes place in the nearly comatose Irwin’s fevered dreams. He imagines a strange set of characters, Flower Hercules, Cup of Tea, Cod, and Happy, whom he hopes will take him “A thousand miles away.” The strangeness of his dreams seems to seep into the world of the company men.

Slow-moving but beautiful, sometimes very funny, and touching without being sappy, “Northfork” is a gem.

5 out of 5 stars.

Rated PG-13. The content is OK for older kids and teens, but most of them won’t want to sit through it.

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Movie review: (fantasy) The Secret of Kells (2009)

December 12, 2010 at 11:57 pm (fantasy, movies)

 This movie is seriously charming without being sappy. Lovely animation. I love how they work the actual Book of Kells into the story as a magical object. The kids and I loved it.

It’s not the fastest paced movie in the world. Younger kids m…ight find it boring. But older kids and adults, especially those interested in fantasy, will get a kick out of it. I wish I’d seen it when it played at SIFF this year!

-Not rated
-4 out of 5 stars
-OK for everybody

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Movie review: (fantasy) “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (2010)

December 12, 2010 at 11:39 pm (action, fantasy, movies)

This is a fun urban fantasy. Yeah, it’s about a young boy who discovers he’s a wizard, but the wizarding world isn’t split off from the regular world in this flick. Wizards have to blend in. Sometimes they do a better job of it than others. <g>

Nic Cage was fabulous as Balthazar, the young sorcerer’s teacher. It’s a pretty subtle performance for NC, and I think he played it spot-on. And hey, Alfred Molina plays his arch-nemisis. LOVE that man!

The kid who played Dave, the apprentice, is a fine actor. My only quibble with him is that he has the most annoying voice in the world, next to Elmo. I hope it changes as he gets older.

Fine effects, cool dragon, lots of stuff blowing up. I dug it.

-Rated PG
-4 out of 5 stars
-Fun for kids and adults

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Movie review: (fantasy/horror) Izo (2004)

December 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm (fantasy, horror, movies)

This is Takashi Miike in a strange, existentialist mood. Kind of like Miike meets Bergman. Then kills him and slips around in his guts.

Not that this movie sucks or anything. It’s pretty interesting. It follows the angry ghost of a rogue samuria as he pops around through time and space, killing everybody who looks at him funny. Not a lot by way of story, though. Plenty of blood!

I would say this one is for hardcore Miike fans or Japanese culture fans only.

-Not rated
-3 out of 5 stars
-Probably OK for older teens who like J-gore

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Movie Review: (fantasy) “The Lovely Bones” (2009)

December 11, 2010 at 9:35 pm (fantasy, movies)

 I really liked this movie. Yes, it’s a grim subject, but Peter Jackson makes a beautiful, hopeful movie with it.

I’m really not sure why this movie did poorly with critics. Sure, it’s a weird mix of stuff. The soul of a young murdered girl w…atching her family from her private heaven/purgatory is kind of bizarre. But the writing is excellent, and so is the acting.

I’m a fan of the book by Alice Sebold, and I think this movie really does it justice.

A few reviewers who were fans of the book ranked the movie down, because it downplays Susie’s actual assault and murder. It’s clear what happened, but you don’t really see much of it. And you know what? That’s FINE WITH ME. There are things that really should never be shown onscreen, imo. And if somebody out there wants to see the rape and murder of a child on the big screen…THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU. Just sayin.

Anyway. Gorgeous movie. Jackson’s Heaven scenes are awesome. The little girl who plays Susie Salmon is amazing. Highly recommended.

-Rated PG-13
-4 out of 5 stars
-May be okay for older teens

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Movie review: (fantasy) “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” (2009)

December 11, 2010 at 6:47 pm (fantasy, movies)

  This is an excellent movie, and well worth seeing. Fantastical and bizarre, this is classic Gilliam.

OMIGOD! TOM WAITS AS THE DEVIL! I’M in LOOOOOVE!

Sorry.

Heath Ledger was excellent, as were Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farell, who took his place in the Imaginarium scenes. And you know what? That whole thing worked. It would have worked even if it hadn’t been necessary.

I loved the characters and their development throughout the movie. And wow, there’s a shocking surprise toward the end. Don’t let anyone tell you about it!

And the movie is gorgeous, in a dark, creepy sort of way.

Unfortunately, it’s a little self-indulgent and overlong, as Gilliam sometimes can be. But still quite amazing. Don’t miss it.

-Rated PG-13
-4 out of 5 stars
-Probably OK for older teens

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Movie review: (fantasy) “Alice in Wonderland” (2010)

December 11, 2010 at 6:12 pm (fantasy, movies)

  Gorgeous, amazing, wonderful. Fantastic performnces and a deep story that reveals the backgrounds and motivations of the classic characters of Wonderland. I really have nothing bad to say about this movie, I loved it, and everyone should watch it.

Bonus–Crispin Glover! SQUEEEEE!!!

-Rated PG
-5 out of 5 stars
-Awesome for everybody

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