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Review: Hanna

Written by John Forbyn on . Posted in Film

Jason Bourne and Beatrice Kiddo have a Finnish baby daughter who, big surprise, was conceived as some sort of super soldier but is now being sought for elimination by the very agency who created her, thus prompting her to cut a bloody swath of independent vengeance up to the front door of the secret program’s director (directrice, in this case), eh? Well, we’ve already played it out in our heads, but, sure, we’ll buy it. Of course, we will. Formulaic, but it’s the formula for awesome, so sign us up.

No, Ludlum’s and Tarantino’s characters are not explicitly alluded to or literally borrowed from, but the flavor is inexcapably familiar. Here’s the good news, though: Hanna is significantly more than just a tundrafied teenager mashup of these new classics — it has a meaningful story all its own sneaked in between the fights.


Review: Rango

Written by John Forbyn on . Posted in Film

“Well, well, well, the director of the first Budweiser frog commercial and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (listed in order of dramatic excellence), has combined the two and stuck them in a Western atmosphere for yet another CGI-candy-with-barely-enough-of-a-plot-to-hold-together-what-is-essentially-a-string-of-technical-showings-off, eh?”

That’s what you said to yourself upon your first exposure to a trailer for Rango, isn’t it? Well, that or “Yeah, I guess Johnny Depp hasn’t been a chameleon yet. :: audible sigh :: ”

Well, it turns out it was awesome.

We all know, as has been proven in a series of very scientific method-y studies, that 99 percent of CG animated films are cranked out by tremendously, really stupendously talented animators, illustrators, and virtual physics masters who, when some conscientious minority interrupts the sketching party with “Shouldn’t we have a bit of narrative in there, too?”, go “What? Oh, yeah… One of those… Sure, I guess.” BUT not Mr. Verbinski and friends.


Review: Black Swan

Written by John Forbyn on . Posted in Film

Black Swan
— starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent  Cassell as professional ballet dancers whose lives revolve around staging the most guttingly pure and potent production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake — is the latest cinematic opus offered by Darren Aronfsky, a still-young director who is definitely keeping on his toes. And here’s the thing about Aronofsky (and I hope he would hear this as the high compliment I intend it to be): I am never in the mood to watch his films, yet they win me over every single time.

See, I’m a pretty stressed-out guy, frequently beleaguered by dragging around an interminable queue of ambitious projects and almost never disposed to sit down and contemplate a cinematic experience wherein the protagonists are coping with similar burdens times-one-thousand (and this is exactly what Aronofsky’s protagonists almost always are.) Yet, on every occasion where his films are put before me — because a friend is begging to pop the DVD in, or because it’s the only unwatched disc left in the house — I relinquish, looking forward to two or so hours of I’m-not-in-the-mood-for-this, but finding myself pleasantly ambushed instead by two or so hours of whoa-mood-or-no-mood-this-is-compelling-as-all-get-out.