1. The Life of Pi
A shipwreck halts the passage to a new life in America for A 16 year-old Indian boy aboard a freighter. He is left to fend for himself on a life raft with, initially, an orangutan, a zebra, a hyena and a Bengal tiger.
PG, 2 hr. 7 min.
Directed By: Ang Lee
Written By: David Magee, Yann Martel
Genres: Drama, Action & Adventure
Starring Suraj Sharma
Lustralboy says: Ang Lee can never be accused of working within comfort zones. His eclectic mix of subjects includes the gay cowboys of Brokeback Mountain, the Marvel comic hero, the Hulk, and the martial arts heroes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. His latest work must surely rank as the most beautiful film of the year. He has mastered every possible element of CGI and 3D technique without the special effects detracting from the magic realism of the story. The mystical tone of the book is captured rather than replicated, to leaving the viewer to decide which version of two contrasting stories is the "truth". Oscar successes seem assured.
In this, the twenty-third installment of the franchise, it is Bond's loyalty to M that drives the action as her past comes back to haunt her. An attack on MI6 is just the first act of the psychotic villain. 007 must eliminate the threat if M is to survive.
PG-13, 2 hr. 25 min.
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Written By: Ian Fleming, Robert Wade, John Logan, Neal Purvis
Genres: Mystery & Suspense, Action & Adventure
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Wishaw
Lustralboy says: Sam Mendes brings across a grasp of psychology from his theatrical nouse and has delivered a Bond movie with a brain. The stunts are as good as ever, but some serious plotting underpins the action, the suspense is taughtly maintained and emotions are engaged by a splendidly watchable villain in hot pursuit of a vulnerable M. Daniel Craig now outshines all former Bonds. Javier Bardem makes an outstandingly memorable villain. Ben Wishaw arrives as the new Q, geeky but fun. He could be in the job for at least another twenty years.
3. The Perks of being a Wallflower
This modest indie movie is an adaptation of a popular novel about a high school freshman who befriends two older students. They, in turn, conspire to change the direction of his life. The reuslt is a funny and touching coming-of-age story, a modern classic.
PG-13, 1 hr. 43 min.
Directed By: Stephen Chbosky
Genres: Drama, Comedy
Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
Lustralboy says: Three excellent performances save this drama from the embrace of forgetability that is the fate of so many teen vehicles. Charlie captures the look of a youngster desperately trying to find himself, the awkwardness never excessive. Watson relishes her chance to ditch her magic wand and play a teenager whose only powers lie in her smartness and sensitivity. And Miller, so chilling in "We Need to Talk About Kevin," is complex, outrageous and the film's comedic hub, completely dominating the scene any time he's on screen.
4. The The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
A group of British retirees decide to check out exotic India as the solution to their residential requirements. Lured by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel in Jaipur and inspired by visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace in an advanced state of decay. Dev Patel stars as the hotel's manager, despearate to restore its fortunes and enhance the lives of his guests.
PG-13, 2 hr. 3 min.
Directed By: John Madden
Written By: Deborah Moggach
Genres: Drama, Comedy
Starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel
Lustralboy asks: Need retirement mean boredom, emptines and loneliness? The members of this cast cling to the hope that it can mean much more and travel in search of their dream. Their chosen venue in Jaipur is the setting for each of their personal voyages, not all culminating in a happy ending. But the colours of India and the personality of scatty charmer, Dev Patel, make the movie a joyful ride.
5. The Hobbit
The adventure, a prequel to the epic Lord of the Ring story, follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the legendary, gold-loving dragon Smaug. Recruited for the challenge by the wizard Gandalf, Bilbo finds himself in the company of thirteen dwarves on a track that will take him far from his beloved Shire.
PG-13, 2 hr. 50 min.
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Written By: Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Guillermo del Toro, J.R.R. Tolkien
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish
Lustralboy says: Critics were less than swept away by Jackson's latest Tolkien adptation. Of course it lacks the epic sweep of the earlier trilogy. But it springs from a much lighter source document. Evaluating it on its own merits, it provides another visually stunning series of pursuits, confrontations and escapes. A more ruthless editor might have shed ten minutes from the languid opening but the later pace more than compensates.
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