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Archive for May, 2009 Page 2 of 3

Neglected Gems: Monsieur Hire

In 1989, accomplished French director Patrice Leconte finally burst onto the global cinema scene with his creepy character study, Monsieur Hire. About a voyeuristic tailor’s obsession with a beautiful neighbor, the film, shown at Cannes, was immediately hailed by both critics and press. Criticker users, too, have almost unanimously praised this seldom-seen film, earning it a place in our list of Neglected Gems.

Michel Blanc plays the titular Monsieur Hire. Blanc is normally known as a funnyman, but he turns in a deadly serious, almost dour performance here as an obsessive-compulsive outsider. M. Hire’s own life is arranged perfectly, and he’s completely untrusted as a weirdo by the community with whom he lives. He spends his free time peeping on the gorgeous Alice (Sandrine Bonnaire), with whom he will eventually unite. A body appears, as does Alice’s handsome and abusive boyfriend, and a series of plot twists and rising tension build to an extraordinary finale.

Patrice Laconte has gone on to become one of France’s most influential directors, achieving moderate success in the States with well-received films like Intimate Strangers and Man on the Train. In the swift-moving, straight-laced and entirely engaging Monsieur Hire, his powers has a filmmaker are at their height.

New Enhancement – Link to Full Reviews

Mini-reviews have caused a lot of stress among the more verbose of Criticker’s users, and we’ve finally heeded the call to allow a longer format for writing film reviews (unrestricted, in fact) using the Forum Boards.

There’s a brand new forum called Full Reviews. If you want to write a review that just isn’t going to fit into 500 characters, write it here. You can then link your minireview to your forum post.

Anywhere your mini-review appears, so will a link to your full review, and anyone who’s wowed enough by your elegance and wit can click on it.

So get writing! Note that you can only utilize this feature after having ranked 50 or more films… just as a safeguard. And all links must go to the Criticker forum.

Hope you enjoy this new feature!

Collection Watch: Features under 91 Minutes

Now here’s an interesting idea for a collection — Features under 91 minutes.

Criticker user epiphany started this public collection a while ago, with just one criteria: the runtime must be between 60 and 90 minutes.

A Short Film About Love: Clocking in at 86 Minutes

The collection already has 276 films, added by 10 users, and some real gems among them. Let’s face it: sometimes, we don’t have the time or energy for a huge epic. For those evenings, consulting epiphany’s collection is a great idea.

Remember, this is a public collection so, if you know of other films which meet the criteria you can add to it yourself!

Hierro – New Spanish Thriller at Cannes

Coming out of Spain, a country that’s been popping out excellent films for years, Hierro sounds pretty exciting. Expectations are compounded upon learning that Guillermo del Toro and the producers of Pan’s Labyrinth are attached to the project. The plot, actually, sounds similar to another atmospheric Spanish flick about mysteriously missing children, The Orphanage.

“While travelling by ferry to the island of El Hierro, Maria loses her young son Diego. Has he fallen overboard? Has he been abducted? Nobody knows. Diego simply vanishes.

Six months later, Maria is fighting to overcome the pain of her loss, to pick up the pieces and continue with her life, when she receives an unexpected call. A child’s body has been discovered. She must return to El Hierro.

On the island, in this strange and threatening landscape, surrounded by sinister, malevolent characters, Maria is forced to confront her worst nightmares. As she travels the terrible path that will lead to her son, Maria will make the most unbearable discovery of all – that some mysteries should never be revealed.”

It recently premiered at Cannes and early consensus seems to be that while it’s stylish and beautifully shot, Hierro is unable to maintain a sense of dread and loses its momentum about halfway through. Umm… kind of like The Orphanage!

DVD Report – May 19th

A really wide-ranging collection of films makes up this week’s batch of new releases on DVD. Unfortunately, not many are very good. Still, if you like war drama, horror, indie comedy, stupid comedy or sci-fi, you might find something to interest you…

ValkyrieAverage Tier 5.69
Based on actual events, a plot to assassinate Hitler is unfurled during the height of WWII. Valkyrie @ Amazon

Paul Blart: Mall CopAverage Tier 2.66
When a shopping mall is overtaken by a gang of organized crooks, it’s up to the a mild-mannered security guard to save the day. Paul Blart: Mall Cop @ Amazon

My Bloody Valentine 3-DAverage Tier 3.73
Tom (Ackles) returns to his hometown on the tenth anniversary of the Valentine’s night massacre that claimed the lives of 22 people. Instead of a homecoming, however, Tom finds himself suspected of committing the murders, and it seems like his old flame (King) is the only one will believes he’s innocent. My Bloody Valentine 3-D @ Amazon

OutlanderAverage Tier 4.27
During the reign of the Vikings, Kainan (Caviezel), a man from a far-off world, crash lands on Earth, bringing with him an alien predator known as the Moorwen. Though both man and monster are seeking revenge for violence committed against them, Kainan leads the alliance to kill the Moorwen by fusing his advanced technology with the Viking’s Iron Age weaponry. Outlander @ Amazon

FanboysAverage Tier 5.11
“Star Wars” fans travel to Skywalker Ranch to steal an early copy of “Episode I: The Phantom Menace”. Fanboys @ Amazon

Headlines from Cannes

Probably the world’s most important film festival, Cannes got underway last week, attracting legions of superstars, auteurs, animators, critics and fans.

The amount of important premieres at Cannes is staggering, and we don’t have the resources to fully cover everything. So, here’s a quick rundown of some of the main headlines coming out of the festival.

Taking Woodstock; Un Prophete; Antichrist; Agora; Up

Ang Lee’s ‘Taking Woodstock’ Lame and receiving a lot of derision, according to the LA Times.

Astonishing French Thriller ‘Un Prophete’ Early Favorite; Jacques Audiard’s violent, intensely watchable film is a clear front-runner for the top prize, according to the Guardian.

Lars Von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’ Shocking, Shocking No One; the film is booed, mocked and lightly applauded. Read more at Reuters.

Rachel Weisz Gets Nude in Amenabar’s ‘Agora’ and brags about it to The Daily Mail

Pixar’s ‘Up’ Awesome; Was Safe Assumption — A strange, unadventurous pick to open the festival, Up nonetheless delighted critics, according to CNN.

There are probably a thousand other big news stories we could have written about. What has got you most excited out of Cannes?

Heroes of Contentiousness #21 – 300

A unique visual style does not by itself make a good film. That pretty much sums up the argument against 300, the 21st entry in our collection of contentious films. But perhaps a boldly unique visual style at least makes a film worth seeing. 300 was of 2007’s “event” movies, which you kind of felt obligated to endure, regardless of your interest level. It has almost equal numbers of defenders and haters, which explains its high FCQ of 47.62 (FCQ = Film Contentiousness Quotient: details here).

Style over substance? Definitely. An adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, 300 doesn’t bother itself too much with historical or visual accuracy. But that doesn’t matter to its legions of supporters — nor does the almost complete lack of a plot and possibly racist political undertones. But to many viewers, these shortcomings mattered a great deal. Critics, too, were almost evenly split about the film.

So let’s settle it. 300: great or terrible? I’m going to throw my hat into the latter category; I found it almost as tedious as it was offensive.


  • Great! (62%, 31 Votes)
  • Terrible! (38%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 50

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Here are a couple battling opinions from Criticker users.

krytonix: “Mythologized story of the 300 spartans. Despite the hype, it was still crap-my-pants entertaining and I was simply unable to look away at any point during this movie. I thought the simple yet emotionally evocative story and dialogue were enough for the stunning visuals to stand on. That’s all I was hoping for, and it fully delivered.”

Manhatta: “Another perfect adaption of a misogynistic, juvenile Frank Miller book. With added homophobia, as well. It looks just like the pages, and Gerard Butler gives a great Bill the Butcher impression, but the fight scenes got old quick, the rape scene was shameful, and everything else was tedious.”

Last week, you voted on Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, and Mr. Lucas will be pleased to learn that the final film in his much derided prequel trilogy has earned the Criticker community’s seal of approval.


And here’s our up-to-date list of the top 10 most contentious films at Criticker:

1. Across the Universe – FCQ 57.96 – Poll Result: GREAT!
2. Eyes Wide Shut – FCQ 56.05 – Poll Result: GREAT!
3. The Rocky Horror Picture Show – FCQ 53.21 – Poll Result: GREAT!
4. Stay – FCQ 52.7 – Poll Result: GREAT!
5. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith – FCQ 52.43 – Poll Result: GREAT!
6. The Butterfly Effect – FCQ 49.94 – Poll Result: GREAT!
7. Chicago – FCQ 49.71 – Poll Result: GREAT!
8. The Life of David Gale – FCQ 48.95 – Poll Result: TERRIBLE!
9. Dumb & Dumber – FCQ 48.21 – Poll Result: GREAT!
10. Brotherhood of the Wolf – FCQ 47.9 – Poll Result: GREAT!