Archives For review


If you haven’t heard of Snowpiercer, I recommend steering clear of trailers and going to see it blind. That’s how I saw it—and afterwards I watched a trailer that spoiled lots of things, and I’m glad I didn’t watch it beforehand. All you need to know is that this is a high-concept, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi (ish), fantasy wherein the world’s last survivors live on a train, with each car acting as a literal reinforcement of class structure. I know. It sounds weird. If you have seen the trailer, I don’t think it does the film justice. So, there.

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Robot & Frank is set in the near future, when robots can cook your meals, clean your house, and create a garden in your backyard. Frank suffers from memory loss in his older years and receives a robot as a gift to help him with daily tasks.

While I waited for this film to start, I sat in an artsy theater, surrounded by people who were obviously many years my senior, and I wondered if I’d made the right decision in seeing this film. Apparently I’m ageist, but I wondered if I’d be able to relate to the main character enough to enjoy the experience. It turns out I related to him terrifyingly too well.

As someone who fears the loss of tangible media, as well as the thought of robots someday being much smarter than me, I had no problem seeing Frank’s point of view. But as Frank’s mind deteriorates, the robot becomes a sounding board, reflection, and retainer of Frank’s thoughts, fears, and talents. Initially, I was turned off by the film’s tagline: “Friendship doesn’t have an off switch.” But by the end of the film, I had an emotional connection to the robot, too, since it represented an “out” for a crumbling mind, not the actuality of a sentient friend.

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Feminism and Avengers

Ashley Walton —  May 16, 2012 — 1 Comment

I’ve now seen Avengers a couple of times, but I hadn’t written a post because I didn’t know what I could say that hadn’t already been said. It was awesome, everything I hoped it would be. Whedon stood tall and rose to all my expectations. The arrangement of strong characters was well-balanced and well-written, each contributing a unique personality to the whole. Roger Ebert is an idiot. Moviefone is sexist. The end.

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Go see Drive. Like, now.

Ashley Walton —  September 20, 2011 — 3 Comments


I sat in the theater, long after the credits had ended, long after several pubescent theater workers grumbled while shuffling around me. I had never been so shocked into silence after watching a film. I remained thoughtful and quiet walking out of the theater and to the car and throughout the car ride home (much to the worry of my boyfriend who was with me). Okay, I wasn’t completely silent. Right after the film ended I looked at my boyfriend and said, “Holy shit,” but that was it.


Drive is the kind of film that doesn’t come around often. It’s a film that reminds you of the potential artfulness of filmmaking. Actually, it’s a film that reminds you that humans are capable of making things that are so incredibly beautiful that they seem to transcend the physical space that they inhabit. As cheesy as it sounds, I left that theater with a renewed hope in the creative powers of man, and I don’t mean that as hyperbole. I don’t have a single negative thing to say about this film—and I can’t recall any other time in my life-long career as film critic (and critic of all things, in general) that I’ve uttered such a phrase.


This film was exceptional. The acting, writing, editing, cinematography, music, pacing—everything—was impeccable. That’s not to say it was safe. As Guillermo del Toro said of the film at Comic-Con, this is balls-to-the-wall filmmaking. It’s gutsy and experimental in the way it’s put together, and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s rare to see something so fresh and new that actually works as a harmonious whole.


I now have an enormous amount of respect for Nicolas Winding Refn, who rightfully claimed best director at Cannes for the film, and also for Ryan Gosling (turns out he’s a total badass—could’ve fooled me). In fact, as I learned at a Comic-Con panel, it was Gosling who had the rights to the book Drive is based on, and it was Gosling who sought out Refn to be the director. After a horrible first meeting over lunch, the two bonded through an REO Speedwagon song in Gosling’s car and realized they shared the same vision for the film, as Refn broke down into sobs and they discussed their vision of a character who cannot feel real emotion unless he’s driving (and listening to ’80s pop). Crazy, right? The stuff of fairy tales.


At Comic-Con, I was stunned by the footage that was shown, and I was equally stunned by Guillermo del Toro’s gushing over Refn, but being the cynic that I am, I worried that they had showed us the best scenes. How could every scene in the film live up to the scenes that they had shown us? Oh, my friends, how wrong I was. The scenes shown at Comic-Con were even better in the context of the film, and those scenes were not the exception to the rule. Every scene was phenomenal.


For those of you who were fooled by the marketing ploy and believe this to be Fast and Furious 6, it’s not. In fact, I heard many disappointed movie-goers leave the theater with complaints: “That was so slow and boring” and “That did not have enough action.” Yeah, I’m sorry you guys were tricked into seeing a brilliant film.


P.S. I bought the soundtrack. Of course, it’s awesome.

I’m just gonna forgo any pleasantries, along with any pretenses that I can look at this film in anything approaching an unbiased manner. I like Woody Allen. I like Paris. I like writing and I like art. I loved this film. Sure, it had its problems, but I was charmed by the main character, Gil, played by Owen Wilson (a blatant representation of Woody Allen) and his sincere (if sometimes sappy) dialogue. Some of my favorite lines that I’ve ever heard were in the film, like when Wilson insists that “No work of art can compare to a city.” 

Although it’s difficult to talk about a work of art in terms of feelings, I couldn’t help but love the feel of this film. Yes, no work of art can do a city justice, but this film captured the feeling I had gallivanting about Paris.Some would say that the film romanticized Paris from a tourist’s perspective, but I would disagree and toss in my lot with Allen. I think there are cities that can be appreciated as a work of art, regardless of whether you grew up there or whether you’re visiting for the first time. And Gil’s enthusiasm for Paris is contagious and understandable.

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, because I didn’t know much about it, and I found myself giddy as certain events unfolded (I even slapped my viewing companion in the arm, grinned, and sat up straighter in my chair a few times in sheer excitement). That’s not to say it had a perfect plot. In fact, I was disappointed that for such a creative premise, the film ended up making some pretty cliché moves, and I was surprised that the film had such an elementary take-home message. Despite its plot clumsiness, I loved the film and I would happily see it in theaters again, which is not an action I take lightly.

I know I haven’t blogged in forever, and this review is less than relevant, since the movie is no longer in theaters, but I feel it is my duty to make this report (and this is the last film I’ve seen in theaters that I’ve been truly impressed by… I’m looking at you, Bridesmaids and Hangover II… okay Thor was pretty good– nobody kill me). I really enjoyed Scream 4 (and I don’t appreciate any pretentious eye-rolling at the suggestion that the third sequel in a horror franchise might have some artistic merit). This film echoed back to the self-aware genre witticisms of the first film, but this one took the meaning of meta to a whole new level, and I laughed out loud at a lot of jokes pointed at itself. This was the smartest horror film I’ve seen since Jennifer’s Body, and I urge you to not be turned off by the “4” in the title. It was well-paced and well-written, and I look forward to seeing it again, which is a rare thing for me to say in the horror genre. I dare say I will purchase the DVD, and I hope others will be motivated to give it a rent.

Okay, I know I’m a total dork, but I really enjoyed this movie. This alien-comedy by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg (the blokes who brought you Shawn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) was self-aware, self-referential, and packed full of geeky goodness. References to Star Wars, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The X-Files,and Star Trek (and I’m sure many others that I missed) were plentiful and fun to spot, and believe it or not, they didn’t feel trite. In fact, the writing was clever, simultaneously making fun of and paying homage to the genre stereotypes. The overall plot was simple, but it allowed for hilarious and endearing character development and interaction.

Although my geek goggles might be skewing my vision, I laughed heartily and obnoxiously throughout the film, and I give it a heartfelt recommendation.

Rental Release: Mary & Max

Ashley Walton —  January 31, 2011 — 1 Comment

Mary & Max, a beautiful claymation film from Australia, is the right mixture of sweet, hilarious, and bleak. The film is about two lonely hearts— a young girl and a troubled older man who become strange and awkward pen-pals. Both characters lead pretty depressing lives, but the film shows the charm and hope that shines through simple human interaction.

Max and Mary are voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette (both Academy Award winners) who deliver their deadpan lines with perfect cadence. As much as I loved the claymation, the writing was my favorite part this film, chuck full of fresh, interesting, and (cautiously) playful dialogue. I definitely think it’s worth watching. However, you may want to watch it with a comforting pint of Ben and Jerry’s—it’s not exactly cheery.

This film was much more intelligent and complicated than I initially gave it credit for. As usual, I don’t want to give too much away, because this film unwraps itself deliberately and poignantly. I do want to make it clear that this film is not about Banksy. And it’s not even a film about graffiti/street art. Rather, this is a film about what art means and how people interact with it, and the vehicle through which it explores these questions is so interesting and so grounded in a terrifying reality that it took me by surprise. Halfway through the film I thought, “Why is it lingering on these odd moments?” but it made sense as the film progressed (as does the film’s title), and it ended up being one of the most thought-provoking films I’ve seen in a while. It was clever, funny, and earnest, leaving me satisfied and smiling. I recommend this film to anyone who is remotely interested in art and its relationship with the public.

If you haven’t seen True Grit, you need to stop reading and buy a ticket right now. I mean it. If you’re reading on, I’ll be upset if you haven’t bought a ticket already. Hands down, this is one of the best films of the year– really fun and really well done: well-paced, well-written, and well-acted.

Before embarking on this adventure, I worried that this western (which one critic compared to Treasure Island– WTF?) would be too contrived; but my worries were put to bed within the first 10 minutes of the film. The way in which Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld delivered their lines blew me away, each snarky remark perfectly timed and full of sincerity. (I could have done with or without Matt Damon– he was clearly outshined by both his castmates.)

I was in the moment and along for the ride throughout the entire film, swept up by the story and charmed by the dialogue. However, the last 15 minutes of the film pull a flash-forward, which almost always bugs me on principle. But alas, it’s a small complaint for such a great experience. I’m already excited to own this film, so I can repeatedly rewatch and chew on the dialogue some more.