Shin Gojira

Hasegawa Hiroshi

Ishihara Satomi

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The title for Shin Gojira is completely written in katakana, the Japanese phonetic alphabet usually reserved for foreign words or those whose Chinese character (or kanji) equivalent is so difficult, that using katakana or hiragana (the Japanese phonetic alphabet used for specifically Japanese words or words that have been in the Japanese language so long, their foreign origins have been forgotten like “tobacco”). Godzilla or gojira as he is known in Japan is also written in katakana as he has been since 1954 labeling him as something outre’, foreign, otherworldly. The use of kanji usually establishes, as with Greek or Latin roots what underlying meaning lies in any one word so the use of katakana in the shin of Shin Gojira leaves quite a lot open for interpretation. Does the film’s title mean New Godzilla, True Godzilla, Evolved Godzilla, The Relatives of Godzilla or all of the above?

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Ted 2

Mark Wahlberg

Amanda Seyfried

reviewed by Tom-Tom

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There are certain film characters you meet once and then the magic they possess runs its course leaving no room for successful continuation. Shrek was one such character and so is Ted. I’m sure you are now thinking of countless other likely candidates. The first Ted film was a gambit toeing the recently popular line drawn by Judd Apatow, Kevin Smith, and others balancing raunchy humor and characters with a big heart hiding behind (way, way behind in some cases) their profane language and obscene habits. Despite the absurdity of the premise, ie a Teddy Bear come to life, we felt for the characters and believed in their friendship which made the walking talking Teddy Bear aspect not merely shock value. The first film had some memorable and critical cameos which were jaw dropping and hilarious in their placement and timing. Unfortunately, that was long ago.

In Ted 2, after a remarkably beautiful opening wedding scene and a rather extended but very well composed, choreographed, and attired dance number by men in tuxes and top hats and long legged women in Broadway Showgirl attire complete with little Ted dancing along. This is Tony Prize level stuff and I couldn’t help but think it was wasted on the target audience: eg folks here to see a stoner/raunchy sex comedy. Seth MacFarlane has an affinity with Big Band that finds its way into his animated hit Family Guy, and here, at least only in the opening moments, we get a glimpse of this love of his. Fortunately (or unfortunately, perhaps) it itself is worth the price of admission.

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Pawn Sacrifice

Toby Maguire

Liev Schreiber

 reviewed by Tom-Tom

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Edward Zwick has made quite a few well researched, action packed, intelligent, and morally sound pictures from The Last Samurai to Blood Diamond. Here he levels the heft of his skills into the world of chess and the uncanny players therein. The American child prodigy Bobby Fischer, warts and all is performed in his various younger ages by a variety of talented child actors until being portrayed by Toby Maguire complete with tough New York accent. Fischer has to be the least likable role Maguire has taken on since the corrupt and abusive American soldier he played in The Good German. Chess is a game I’ve played for years without getting any better. I’m too impulsive to plan more than two or three moves ahead and I tend to concentrate too hard on my own strategy without accounting for that of my opponent’s which makes my own inevitable checkmate always a surprise. Bobby Fischer grows up never losing even once until he plays Carmine, the 25th best chess player in New York and loses. The experience shocks him. He replays every move in his head and sees what has gone wrong. He demands another game. And so continues the young prodigy’s rise in prominence. He’s not subtle about his skills. He is a braggart and a loudmouth but has the ability to support his quips. Unfortunately he occasionally suffers from paranoia, hypersensitivity to sound, and a general aversion to people in general. When he is winning, he is all confidence and energy. When his increasingly insane conditions for playing aren’t met, he whines and holes himself up in an apartment or hotel room listening to the taped ravings of the 1970’s version of the Westboro Baptist Church which raves about the “dangers” of Jews, Communists, etc and espouses equally drastic measures to “right” the world again. He sends rambling conspiracy theory ridden letters to his sister warning her about “Jew-owned New York.” In tears, when speaking with Fischer’s manager, Fischer’s sister wails, “He keeps talking about dangerous Jewish people. We’re Jewish. He’s Jewish!” Kudos to the filmmakers for keeping this very damaging side of Fischer in the film.

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Skyfall

Daniel Craig

Javier Bardem

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007 had been at it for nearly 50 years when this film came about. It’s classic and innovative at the same time. It’s quite different from the previous Daniel Craig James Bond films thus far which seemed intent on shaving away everything down to the absolute bare essentials shedding the excesses of gadgetry and high spy living. While we won’t be seeing invisible cars or exploding pens anytime soon, it was nice to see the franchise being taken seriously. I, for one, missed the presence of Q (for Quartermaster we now learn) in the first two Craig films and it’s nice to see him (played with restraint and subtlety by the great Ben Whishaw) back in action here. Another vital part of the Bond franchise is reborn here but is such a refreshing surprise at the end that I’ll leave you to enjoy it/him/her.

The film opens with a chase through Istanbul foregoing the initial “Bond in the Crosshairs” intro customary to classic 007 flicks. It’s a daring chase on foot, car, motorscooter, and even atop a moving train. Bond is pursuing Patrice (Ola Rapace) an enemy agent in possession of the MI6 version of NOC list from the first Mission Impossible Film ie a list of embedded agents and their real names and faces. Bond is aided in his pursuit by Eve (the sassy and beautiful Naomie Harris) whose driving skills are top notch although her abilities as sniper could use a bit of work.  The film’s opening theme begins with the sultry sounds of Adele’s Skyfall which is the best Bond theme in years at least since the 90’s anyway. The opening sequence, too is beautifully dark and gothic.

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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Chris Pine

Kevin Costner

reviewed by Tom-Tom

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Chris Pine is the fourth actor to play Tom Clancy’s compelling CIA Agent. He’s risen to the challenge of playing a role seared in the public consciousness before in the Star Trek reboot. Will he be able to go at least par for the course with Alec Baldwin, the charming analyst afraid of heights, Harrison Ford, the action hero and family man, and Ben Affleck … Ben Affleck? Let’s see.

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Hallthorn Approved!

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David Lynch’s “The Straight Story” has the proud honor of being selected as our very first “Hallthorn Approved” film. Please check out the Hallthorn Approved drop down menu for our separate reviews commemorating this landmark moment in Hallthorn Review History!

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darthall:

“The Straight Story is quite simply a beautiful, nigh on perfect little movie.

It may lack Lynch’s trade mark surrealist tropes and convoluted narrative structures. But it could be argued that this is far and away his finest hour.”

Tom-Tom:

” it is as fulfilling and satisfying an emotional payoff just as we’d hope it would be without necessitating long winded speeches. What a beautiful film.”

The Hallthorn Team

Introducing Hallthorn Reviews!

Greetings one and all and welcome to the beginning of an era. Some pals and I have created a website dedicated to the no-nonsense task of writing reviews for film, music, video games, and TV shows. Please visit our site at hallthornreviews.wordpress.com

Use the main drop down menu to find what we have to say about the present and past media in your lives. We’ve just begun so we look forward to any and all suggestions you may have. But, if nothing else, please enjoy reading what we have to say about what we love.

Thanks!

The Hallthorn Team