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Thursday, 13 August 2009 ,  Written by Daniel Hirshleifer
District 9 (2009)
What wonderful bookends. While it wasn't the first big movie of the summer, Star Trek opened in early May, and became a blockbuster success, eventually grossing over $250 million and becoming the highest grossing entry in the series, even adjusted for inflation. Aside from its massive ticket sales, the movie was also a critical smash, earning top marks from many critics, myself included. And while it's not the last movie of the summer, District 9 feels like the last great entry of this summer's cinema. It's also the first movie I've seen since Star Trek that has made me feel as deeply or as effectively.District 9 is based on director Neill Blomkamp's short Alive in Joburg (a short that impressed Peter Jackson so thoroughly that he offered Blomkamp the directing gig on the halted Halo feature film). The short detailed ...
Editor's rating: 
Thursday, 13 August 2009 ,  Written by Daniel Hirshleifer
Ponyo (2009)
Out of all of Japan's cinematic exports, Hayao Miyazaki may be the most recognizable since Akira Kurosawa. Having directed feature length animated films since the late 70's, Miyazaki has risen to prominence in the United States on a wave of acclaim from other filmmakers, most notably John Lassiter or Pixar and Disney fame. In fact, Lassiter convinced Disney to buy the rights to the vast majority of Miyazaki's output (released in Japan by Miyazaki's own company, Studio Ghibli). And while Miyazaki has been known in America since 1997's Princess Mononoke, he became most famous after the release of his 2001 masterpiece Spirited Away, the first anime film to win an American Academy Award. Since then, the release of any Miyazaki film in the States is something of an event for animation enthusiasts, which brings us to his latest film, Ponyo.Ponyo ...
Editor's rating: 
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 ,  Written by Brittani Simberg
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
If you’ve ever been, you know as I do that downtown Los Angeles is an unlikely setting for a love story.  Of course, as the movie’s unseen narrator insists on warning us right away, (500) Days of Summer is NOT a love story.  You would be hard-pressed, however, to place it in another genre.  Though its setting, storytelling techniques and ending are unconventional, this film is ALL about what happens when boy meets girl.  And, no matter the outcome, it is better than most romantic comedies made today.A young boy misunderstands The Graduate and grows up to be a hopeless romantic.  He goes to work at a greeting card company where he falls for an amazing girl who doesn’t believe in love.  This is the basic set-up for the tale of Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel), whose bittersweet ...
Editor's rating: 
Thursday, 16 July 2009 ,  Written by Daniel Hirshleifer
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
It seems like a million years ago when tiny Daniel Radcliffe took a wide-eyed step into the world of wizarding as Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone if you live anywhere outside of America), and the world has collectively watched little Harry and his compatriots grow right in front of our eyes. Well, Harry and the crew are back for yet another installment of the unstoppable pop culture juggernaut, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is without a doubt the darkest and bleakest Harry Potter entry thus far.After a massive fight in the Ministry of Magic at the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the wizarding world now knows without a doubt that Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has indeed returned from the dead. Despite this, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) has ...
Editor's rating: 
Thursday, 16 July 2009 ,  Written by Daniel Hirshleifer
Moon (2009)
There are generally two strains of sci-fi films. One is thought provoking and puts an emphasis on "hard science" (2001: A Space Odyssey being the most famous example, but others are Solaris, Gattaca, and The Fountain). This is often referred to as "hard sci-fi." The other is an action film disguised as science fiction, commonly known as "space opera" (Star Wars, The Fifth Element, etc.). While there are a few properties that have straddled both fences (episodes of the various Star Trek series tended to vaccilate between the two poles), space opera is by far the most prevalent sort of sci-fi to be found in the United States today. That is why, when a hard sci-fi film is released, it's always worth investigating. And, in the case of Duncan Jones' (son of famed musician and actor David Bowie) Moon, the ...
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