Công việc bận bịu đã gần như "giết chết" thói quen viết review của tôi, vì thường hiếm khi tôi tìm đủ thời gian để xem phim chứ đừng nói là thời gian ngồi tĩnh tâm suy nghĩ để viết một cái review tử tế. Thật may là thói quen viết mấy dòng bình luận ngắn trên Rotten Tomatoes thì vẫn còn, nhược điểm là vì viết ngắn nên tôi phải viết bằng tiếng Anh, một phần vì gần như chưa bao giờ tôi đọc sách vở gì về nghệ thuật, điện ảnh bằng tiếng Việt, thứ nữa là đúng theo phong cách "mặt lạnh" của dân Hà Nội (có lẽ tương đồng với phong cách stiff upper lip của dân Anh mà tiếng Việt dịch rất hay là phớt Ăng lê) mà tôi rất ngại bày tỏ tình cảm "ra mồm" bằng tiếng Việt - đâm viết ca ngợi phim ảnh bằng tiếng Việt lại phải mất thời gian đào xới vốn từ vựng nghèo nàn về "bày tỏ tình cảm" của mình. Thôi thì đành bằng lòng với tiếng Anh vậy.
01. Your Highness (2011): 2.5/5
Awful mixture of Western and Alien.
02. Contagion (2011): 3/5
Too realistic to be enjoyable. I like the way the film depicts the scumbag "journalist"/blogger, though.
03. The Debt (2011): 4/5
04. The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (Long môn phi giáp, 2012): 3/5
Conclusion: CGI will kill wuxia for good. By the way, why the hell even LoveHKFilm likes this film, I cannot understand.
05. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011): 4.5/5
The ending is a little bit low-key but the ambiance is superb, the cast is perfect and the story is thrilling - a true spy film in quite a while. Tomas Alfredson - welcome to the English-speaking film world!
06. 50/50 (2011): 4/5
07. In Time (2011): 3.5/5
37% on Rotten Tomatoes, really? The tempo and setting are dumb but the concept is genuinely great and Amanda Seyfried is convincingly attractive. If only the film had a better visual director, let's say David Fincher?
08. Margin Call (2011): 4/5
A tough subject but very well handled by the director and a superb ensemble cast, a little bit dry and uncertain toward the end, though.
09. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2011): 4/5
The ending is somehow disappointing but the film in a whole is terrific, a “Cidade de Deus” about the Brazilian police.
10. A Separation (2011): 4.5/5
An extremely complex plot covered by a very ordinary scene of life - a separation. The ending is uncertain, but how could one be certain about human feeling?
11. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011): 4/5
12. Hugo (2011): 5/5
13. The Artist (2011): 4.5/5
14. Chronicle (2012): 4.5/5
The first half is fun although a little bit dull, the second half is predictably painful but deeply convincing, not the human lust for supreme power but the troublesome teenage makes this one a film-to-watch
15. God Bless America (2012): 3/5
Not as good as the trailer, just a “Fight Club”-wannabe but lack the philosophical depth, which was lousily covered by the melancholic talks of the protagonists. The nonsense, mindless violence and terrible acting by the "Hit-Girl"-type character only add to the film's disappointment.
16. Marvel's The Avengers (2012): 3.5/5
Fun to watch, that's all. Ruffalo's Hulk is not that good in comparing with Norton's. Still, worth the ticket money.
17. 21 Jump Street (2012): 4/5
So much fun!!!
18. Senna (2011): 4/5
Will they ever have a documentary about football this good?
19. Project Nim (2011): 3.5/5
Not as good as the trailer (again!), the concept (of the experience) is utterly original and the documentary itself is quite compelling though.
20. J. Edgar (2011): 2.5/5
Too many voice-overs make the film boring to no end. And the idea of making such an alpha-male star like Leo a gay is no good either.
21. You Are the Apple of My Eye (Cô gái năm ấy chúng ta cùng theo đuổi, 2011): 4/5
Charming cast, light-hearted story, full of nostalgic frames, simply an awesome film (who cares about the "artistic value" or consistent plot?).
22. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012): 2.5/5
Typical simple Hollywood-made animation plot, entertaining characters, terrific 3D effects, I would have given this film 4 stars, if not for the dirty (and also typical) joke about Bolshevik at the end of the film and all the other bored-to-death Hollywood stereotypes of Europeans, and last but not least, the awful French by Frances McDormand.
23. Haywire (2012): 2.5/5
Unbelievably slow tempo for a Bourne-like feature, a style-over-substance film with a boring, untwisted plot and a poker-face female lead who might have been a promising action star if she had possessed a little acting capability, unfortunately she has none.
24. Iron Man 2 (2010): 3/5
Fun to watch but easy to forget, the cast & crew cannot be blamed though, since this is nothing but an "introducing" piece to The Avengers, which, by the way, has a plot of the same quality.
25. In the Line of Fire (1993): 3/5
Dated film, really dated. Clint Eastwood & John Malkovich were still awesome as ever, though.
26. We Bought a Zoo (2011): 2.5/5
Deeply disappointed with such a long-awaited film by the “Almost Famous”'s Cameron Crowe, simply a feel-good film without a solid plot and a strong cast, only the shining smile by the utterly charming Maggie Elizabeth Jones could not save the film from drowning into obscurity.
27. Toy Story 3 (2010): 4/5
With a well-established set of characters, an environment full of Pixar ingredients and a typical Hollywood-like melodramatic plot, this film just can't go wrong (4 stars for not destroying the super trilogy).
28. American Reunion (2012): 3/5
Every ingredients of an “American Pie” are here, the characters (every single one!, from the Sherminator to even Nadia!), the dirty talks, the boobies (of course), the out-and-in-again plot, even Bic Runga's Sway, but the chemistry is not there anymore. It is really sad to observe the ageing faces of those familiar characters to 90s' teens, it is even sadder to think about the never-rise-again career of each of them, but still, the reminiscent memories are priceless and a film reminding you of a wonderful high school time with true friendship, with lot of fun, with first loves, with hope, is still a worth-watching film.
29. From Up On Poppy Hill (2013): 4.5/5
Utterly delightful! The beginning is a little bit slow and the plot details are not so special, but the film in a whole is wholeheartedly charming, from the characters, the setting to the simple but impressive drawing - The return of Ghibli to its origin: Japanese simplicity at its best.
30. The Inbetweeners (2012): 2.5/5
More vulgar, more profane, more blasphemous than any single Apatow's film of the same kind (and typically for an English film: more cocks and less tits - a reversal to its "colleagues" in Hollywood). The tiring and disoriented first half (for those who are not familiar with the original sitcom) has cancelled all the fun and warm-hearted moments of the second half. How I miss the old good Ritchie and Boyle!
31. One Day (2011): 3.5/5
A confusing relationship butchered (or murdered?) into multiple fragments with almost next-to-none connection. Still, some fragments are really (emotionally) good with uber level of romance and the irresistible charm of the Hathaway-Sturgess couple, not to mention the warm colour, beautiful costumes and marvellous setting of each frame (similar to the previous film of Lone Scherfig - An Education). If only the inconsistent plot had been refined to create a stronger link between fragments - a link to solidify the emotion of viewers and their affection for the lovely couple (the wardrobe of Hathaway for this film is incredibly elegant). For the same idea about an ever-on-off-and-on-again relationship, this film should learn from the French film "Jeux d'enfants" (Love Me If You Dare).
32. The Raid: Redemption (2012): 3/5
Typical example of guilty-pleasure films, the plot is equipped with enough twist-and-turns but still thin like a paper, characters are under-developed and cheesy (normal for a martial art film, though) as hell (some simply disappeared into thin air after an awesome introduction - where are those snipers?), the Silat-style fighting is brutal, very well-choreographed and from time to time creative and stunning (or at least, fresh to Hong Kong/China fanboys) but inconsistent and somewhat tiring towards the end of the film - nothing more than an "Indonesian Ong bak", but interesting enough.
33. Batman Begins (2005): 3/5
Putting it in the context of "muscle" superhero films everywhere, this dark version of Batman (as he is not dark enough?!) might be an excellent one, but viewing from afar, this film is way too slow, full of melodramatic and obnoxiously pseudo-philosophic quotes, lack of an "evil enough" supervillain and strong supporting cast - Katie Holmes had no charisma, Gary Oldman was misused as a subdued policeman, the brilliant Cillian Murphy just vanished by the end of the film, only Michael Caine's Alfred stood still (and even possessed the best moments of this film with his father-figure butler character). As a premise for the Trilogy, this film makes sense for its very good character build-up of Batman and its superb introduction of the dark Gotham, but as a stand-alone one, this film just went to nowhere.
34. Midnight in Paris (2011): 4.5/5
A film deeply charming and delightful to watch! Everything suits me very well, the witty conversation, the "petit" surprises everywhere, the immerse feeling to see the Great Masters of the old time resurfaced with the least forceful script possible (I was so happy and emotional watching that!), the charming (of course!) Owen Wilson who was a perfect casting for the role of a down-to-earth but naive as hell writer, the mystic and always lovely Marion Cotillard, and about all, the obsession about the past, the forever question about what is better, past or present, about how past can affect present is narrated at ease by a very Woody Allen manner. And last but not least, Paris, my “second hometown”, was beautiful like ever in the film, yes, at least in the film.
35. Tokyo Godfathers (2003): 5/5
(re)Watch Tokyo Godfathers for the tenth time something. Still moved by the subtle humanity, utter warm-heartedness of the film. Realize another thing that the original soundtrack of this film is also superbly arranged, just like the string of surprises laid along the plot, which can brighten up any lonely soul in the cold weather of Christmas.
36. The Dark Knight Rises (2012): 3.5/5
The most anticipated film of the year turns out to be a good but not great, not even close, one. Some stunning CGI, a few amazing action scenes or twist-and-turns, and the flashy "Bat" devices cannot fill up the holes caused by the troublesome storytelling, inconsistent character development and numerous illogical details throughout the film. It seems that the Nolan's ambition to depict various stories-in-story and "philosophize" a simple superhero tale has failed him. Still, Michael Caine's Alfred is still as emotionally good as ever.
37. Ninja Scroll (1995): 4.5/5
Typical for an excellent anime - beautifully crafted characters, well-constructed plot, and above all, compelling storytelling, made the film as interesting as one can expect, and created one of the most memorable "ninja couple" in the history of manga-anime: Jubei and Kagero!
38. About Cherry (2012): 2/5
It is kind of weird when you realize that the film is actually less hot/intimidate than its very own poster!
39. The Four (Tứ đại danh bộ, 2012): 3/5
The idea of imitating X-Men in a Chinese wuxia context is interesting enough, but the lackluster storytelling and the wrong focus on the confusing and weepy "love triangle" (instead of each character, which desperately need background build-up and personality differentiation) almost killed the film for good. Hope the sequel will be better, which is not a difficult task considering the quality of this predecessor :))
40. Ted (2012): 3/5
Based on a very weird and unreal concept, the film still somehow works with the ultimate hotness of Mila Kunis (she's at her prime right now, I think) and a bunch of quite good homages of the old films. However, the very ordinary story, without any kind of twist-and-turn (at all!), an incoherent plot including some very awkward and ill-timed cameos, and the 80ish action cannot get the film to the above-average comedy level. Three stars only for the uplifting ending.
SPOILED: Although, this film is recommended for those who want to see why Mark Wahlberg left NKOTB or desperately need to watch the angelic Norah Jones' dirty talk.