Category Archives: 2010 Films

Rabbit Hole-2010

Rabbit Hole-2010

Director John Cameron Mitchell

Starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart

Scott’s Review #1,115

Reviewed February 23, 2021

Grade: A

Rabbit Hole (2010) is a raw and brutal film. I say that with major praise because it’s also a great film with much humanity and pathos. The dreariness of the film makes one relate to and empathize with the characters and perhaps recall a loved one who has died.

It’s truly brilliant if the viewer can withstand the sadness. I was able to tolerate the tone and immerse myself in it.

Thankfully, there are snippets of humor to offset the heavy drama.

Every film is not meant to be feel-good and enjoyable but they all should conjure emotions and Rabbit Hole succeeds in spades.

Yes, it’s a downer given the topic of the day is the loss of a four-year-old child but it’s a tragedy worth enduring to experience the powerful acting from its stars.

It’s a gem because it shows how people deal with and recover from loss if there is a way to cope with, live, and feel again without destroying oneself.

Eight months after the accidental death of their son, Howie (Aaron Eckhart) and Becca (Nicole Kidman) struggle to overcome their grief. He wants to hold on to everything that reminds him of Danny, while she would rather sell their home, relocate, and make a fresh start.

Trauma and conflict begin to appear in the relationship as Howie bonds with a member of his therapy group and Becca reaches out to a teenage boy with telling facial scars.

The drama is based on David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name and the film version has the look and feel of a stage production.

Not much is shown before Danny’s death. I love this because it asks that I use imagination. The cleverness is that Danny was not killed by a drunk driver or a speeding car.

It was an accident and this point feels genuine.

The pain is watching a once-loving couple crumble from the weight of the devastation they have been dealt. Neither parent is to blame but do they blame each other? Do they resent each other because each reminds the other of Danny’s death?

A pivotal and necessary story point is watching Becca and Howie become drawn to other people, some of them surprising. Becca bonds with the teenage driver of the car that killed Danny. Howie nearly is drawn into a lurid affair with Gabby (Sandra Oh) whom he connects with at group therapy.

Is it healthier for Becca and Howie to go their separate ways? Do they stand a chance?

Most can ask themselves the same question as their partners if faced with devastating qualities. How does one pick up the pieces alone as part of a couple?

Kidman is breathtaking in her ability to generate the emotions she does. She was recognized with an Academy Award nomination. It’s terrific, but Aaron Eckhard, forever an underappreciated actor missed out on a nomination.

This is a shame because he is just as good as Kidman. Together, they are flawless, building and playing off the emotions and feelings of the other.

A film about grief, Rabbit Hole (2010) bravely tells the story of how an incident can ravage not only a relationship but our inner being turning us into someone we don’t know. This is a terrifying thought and the stellar acting and pacing only make us feel the pain others can suffer.

Oscar Nominations: Best Actress-Nicole Kidman

A Nightmare on Elm Street-2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street-2010

Director Samuel Bayer

Starring Jackie Earle Haley

Scott’s Review #1,023

Reviewed May 14, 2020

Grade: C-

Rather a pointless remake, but unsurprising given the speedy attempts at re-doing almost every successful horror franchise in recent memory, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) offers nothing that the original did not provide better.

Any film that is considered a dud with the word “nightmare” in the title is ripe for the picking as far as jokes and mockery go. The film is not too terrible but is rather mediocre and average to the taste.

There is no reason to watch this offering over the 1984 original, besides perhaps a moment of curiosity.

A quick recap or re-introduction. Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley), a serial killer who crosses the worlds of dreams and reality to slice and dice his victims with his razor-sharp blade-fingered glove, is on the loose in small-town America.

As Nancy (Rooney Mara) and her pals fight for their lives, they also uncover clues to a shocking secret from their past. Freddy was a known child molester decades earlier and was tracked down and burned alive by angry parents seeking revenge after he escaped prison.

He has vowed to destroy the children of those parents who all conveniently still live in the same town.

Capitalizing on the box-office success of a commercially successful yet critically sub-par 2009 offering of Friday the 13th, the light bulb went off and A Nightmare on Elm Street was green-lit and born.

The intention was to make Freddy and the film harsher and scarier than the 1984 original.

This is a severe misstep as what made the original so good was the character of Freddy. What 1980s teenager doesn’t fondly recall oozing with delight at Freddy’s one-liners and quips as he playfully toys with his pray before slitting their throats?

New Freddy is sinister, violent, and banal. Boring!

Earle Haley, a character actor known for 1977’s Breaking Away and finding a well-deserved career resurgence with the brilliant Little Children (2006) is cast as the brutal villain, sans any of the humor.

The actor, small in stature, is cast well on paper and doesn’t purposely ruin the role. It’s just that he is not Robert Englund and therefore never has a chance.

While admittedly Earle Haley is menacing, he lacks the charisma and charm to do very much with the role except try to recreate something that is not his to begin with.

The rest of the teens in the cast are decent but hardly spectacular. The “final girl” is Nancy Thompson (Rooney Mara) changed to Nancy Holbrook in this version in another eye-rolling mistake since no reason is explained for the name change.

It’s like changing Freddy Krueger’s name to Freddy Kelly.

Regardless, Mara champions on in a role she is way too good for. The actress, about to reach stardom for gems like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) and Carol (2015) needed a start.

Fair enough.

From a visual standpoint, the film has some jump scares and frights that are stock fare for slick, mainstream horror films, almost now becoming clichés.

The sets are decent with some of the houses and, a church, worthy of mention. Darkness is the main ingredient of this film- it is horror after all, and the filming has a very dark texture even during bright scenes.

Some nice kills flesh out the rest of the experience.

If there is money to be made in Hollywood, it will be made. The true motivator of remaking A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) was profit over art. This is a reality and not so much a criticism, after all, it’s called the entertainment biz for a reason.

The changes made to the script do it no favors and if a remake had to be done, it was better left alone and not fooled with.

Jackie Earle Haley does his best, but he is not and never will be the real Freddy Krueger. Robert Englund has that dubious honor.

A Cat in Paris-2010

A Cat in Paris-2010

Director Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol

Starring (ENGLISH) Marcia Gay Harden, Steve Blum 

Scott’s Review #1,006

Reviewed April 1, 2020

Grade: A-

For any lover of all things cats or all things Paris, A Cat in Paris (2010) is a double-punch winner in themes alone and a pure treat.

The French-made film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature along with Chico and Rita (2010), another foreign language animated feature, both considered surprise entries.

This was monumental as it aided subsequent non-American features to be allowed into the mix.

The former is a moody and mysterious caper story involving a cat and a young Parisian girl and the adventures they share. The traditional ink colors and hand drawings are lovely and creative, adding to the inventive mood.

The feline-centered story and feminist empowerment angle provide a unique and worthy experience to be well remembered. The French language version contains native language voices while the English version has English speakers.

The main protagonist of the film is Dino, a pet cat who leads a double life. By day he lives with his friend Zoe (Lauren Weintraub), a little mute girl whose mother, Jeanne (Marcia Gay Harden), is a detective in the Parisian police force.

He sneaks out of the window each night to work with Nico (Steve Blum), a slinky cat burglar with a heart of gold, who regularly evades captors as he glides and swishes from rooftop to rooftop with the picturesque Paris skyline serving as a backdrop.

Dino’s two worlds collide when one night Zoe decides to follow Dino on his nocturnal adventures and falls into the dangerous hands of Victor Costa (JB Blanc), an intimidating gangster who is planning the theft of a rare statue.

Now the cat and cat burglar must team up to save Zoe from the bumbling thieves, leading to a thrilling acrobatic finale on top of Notre Dame.

In an acute tongue-in-cheek final moment, Nico gives Jeanne a snow globe with the Cathedral of Notre Dame in it as a Christmas present.

Despite the film being an animated one, this fact does not take away from the cultural and sophisticated Parisian experience.

Delicious views of the distinguished Eifel Tower and the luminous, glowing skylines of the City of Lights assuredly will captivate each viewer fortunate enough to have ever visited the magical city in person, or those who have daydreamed an afternoon away imagining experiencing the grand city.

Alfred Hitchcock’s work is mirrored throughout A Cat in Paris, specifically his film To Catch a Thief (1955). That film is set along the French Riviera instead of in Paris but features a cat burglar, a thrilling rooftop climax, and enough cat and mouse-thrills to last a lifetime.

The director’s work is easy to spot, and the filmmakers are wise to adapt to his style, carefully weaving elements into an animated film with the hopes of exposing children to intelligent filmmaking.

Adults will equally love the film.

At a mere one hour and five minutes, nearly teetering classification of a short film instead of a full-length feature, A Cat in Paris (2010) more than accomplishes what it sets out to in the limited time.

Utilizing fantastic silhouettes and lit shapes and angles, the visual treats alone make this one exceptional. Adding tidbits of the greatest film director of all time’s work without outright stealing it is a wise choice.

May more intelligent international animated films like this one receive their deserved exposure to mass audiences.

Oscar Nominations: Best Animated Feature Film

127 Hours-2010

127 Hours-2010

Director Danny Boyle

Starring James Franco, Kate Mara

Scott’s Review #967

Reviewed December 13, 2019

Grade: A

A biography of epic proportions, 127 Hours (2010) provides a stunning account of one man’s journey and near-tragic fate. If not for his resolve and determination this would surely have been the result.

Director, Danny Boyle casts the charismatic James Franco in the role of the hiker who was forced to amputate his arm after becoming pinned by a rock. The effective title gives a non-stop active feel, a five-day in-life production if you will, and a pulsating ninety minutes of crafty filmmaking.

The film starts a cheery story of an excited mountaineer, Aron Ralston, (Franco) who prepares to embark on a long-awaited adventure.

The time is April 2003.

His goal is to enjoy a few days of hiking, reveling in the freedom the fresh Utah air offers him. Somewhat of a daredevil, he happily anticipates adventure as he begins his journey.

He meets two attractive young women, Kristi (Kate Mara) and Megan (Amber Tamblyn) and the trio swims in an underground pool before going their separate ways.

Had 127 Hours been a horror film there would be a sense of suspicion or dread surrounding the female hikers, but the scene is enchanting and pure innocence.

Once again on his own, Aron suddenly slips and falls, knocking over a boulder that crushes his right hand and wrist against the wall. He calls for help but realizes that he is alone. Aron begins recording a video diary and reflects on his past, for example forgetting to leave a note of his whereabouts while becoming more and more desperate to escape.

Most of 127 Hours is set within a state of claustrophobic peril in the tiny walls of the rocks that Ralston is trapped between. The film quickly becomes an emotional and personal experience as the camera is focused on Franco, mostly in the close-up form.

At times the shots are too close for comfort, but this is a necessary way for the viewer to experience events the way that Aron did, the style is tremendously effective.

At the risk of diminishing the amazing direction, editing, and cinematography offered, the film belongs to Franco.

As Aron faces peril, growing frantic with each passing hour, but trying to remain calm and focused, Franco does a tremendous job of balancing and revealing the proper emotions. He whimsically recounts memories while forbidding himself to lose sight of escape, rationing what little food and water he has.

The gruesome amputation scene is gory and powerful and may necessitate closing one’s eyes.

The remainder of the elements come together perfectly. The editing, cinematography, and pacing of the story are all spot-on. The musical soundtrack is key to the pacing of the film. At first energetic and excitable, the music slowly becomes darker and more subdued, while at the end it is low-key.

Aron is thankful to simply be alive as he walks a lonely walk to help as the film concludes.

Since the real-life figure is still very much alive, the historical accuracy of the experience is preserved, as confirmed by the hero. He only showed Kristi and Megan basic climbing moves and they never swam together, but the remainder is a brilliant documentary-style film experience.

The real Ralston himself, along with his wife and son make cameo appearances at the end of the film, providing good authenticity.

127 Hours (2010) scores big, creating an experience that is breathtaking, disturbing, and real. Inspiration will be given to each viewer and a lesson in endurance and perseverance will resonate in their own life.

The film deservedly received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Film Editing, but sadly coming up empty-handed.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor-James Franco, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Original Song-“If I Rise”, Best Film Editing

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: 1 win-Best Feature, Best Director-Danny Boyle, Best Male Lead-James Franco (won)

The Social Network-2010

The Social Network-2010

Director David Fincher

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer

Scott’s Review #753

Reviewed May 3, 2018

Grade: A

When released in 2010 The Social Network was a timely and brazen look into the world of social media and the powers and dangers it encompassed.

Any film of this nature that chooses to incorporate either a current event or a current fad runs the risk of either being forgotten soon after or becoming irrelevant as the years go by.

So far, almost a decade later, The Social Network is even more of an interesting film in the age of embattled political turmoil involving the social media world- with Twitter and Facebook constantly in the headlines.

Director David Fincher (Zodiac-2007, Fight Club-1999) creates a stylistic piece masked behind the biography of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (still relevant in 2018) and tells of his rise to fame from a Harvard student to an internet genius.

Throughout all of his meteoric success, the driven young man let his relationships suffer as feuds and backstabbings encircled his life resulting in bitter legal entanglements.

The film is flawless in every way- the screenplay, the score, the acting, the cinematography, and especially the editing all lend themselves to a memorable experience.

We first meet Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) as a teenager, recently dumped and bitter, he posts a scathing editorial on his blog and somehow hacks into the college site to allow the student body to read.

Along with his friends Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss  (both played by Armie Hammer), they came up with the initial concept of Facebook.

This leads to others becoming involved in the project including Napster co-founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) as events spiral out of control due to deceit, jealousy, and conflicting accounts.

Fincher’s style is riveting and fast-paced with snappy edits and lightning-fast scenes giving the film a crisp and sharp look. The story is told via the Harvard events interspersed with the numerous courtroom scenes as each of the principal characters is represented by legal counsel adding drama.

The point of the film is cynical and despite being a biography of Zuckerberg’s rise to fame, the overall theme is the effects that social media has had on the entire world- in this way, the film elicits a message without being preachy.

Trent Reznor, from the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, creates an amazing musical score that adds a modern touch with both techno and electronic elements.

This is not so overdone as to take away from the main theme of the film nor is it too distracting, but rather provides a moody yet intensive element that is highly effective to the overall film.

What riveting acting The Social Network provides!

Young upstart Eisenberg is perfectly cast as Zuckenberg and the similarities between the two are uncanny. With his quick wit and neurotic mannerisms, intelligent yet insensitive to others, Eisenberg not only looks the part he seems to embody the character and deservedly received an Oscar nomination for the role.

Garfield and Timberlake are nearly as compelling in supporting yet important roles. Finally, Hammer portrays indistinguishable twins with a smug, cutting edge perfect for the way the parts are written.

The Social Network (2010) is a tremendous film with modern technologies and a brilliant screenplay. Beyond the spectacular writing, the film contains other top-notch qualities that make for a memorable experience.

The film holds up exceptionally well with current relevance and features a stellar cast of young actors (Eisenberg, Garfield, Hammer, and Timberlake) who all went on to become heavy hitters in the world of cinema years later.

Oscar Nominations: 3 wins-Best Picture, Best Director-David Fincher, Best Actor-Jesse Eisenberg, Best Adapted Screenplay (won), Best Original Score (won), Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing (won)

Black Swan-2010

Black Swan-2010

Director Darren Aronofsky

Starring Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey

Scott’s Review #735

Reviewed March 22, 2018

Grade: A

Darren Aronofsky, the director famous for the psychological and bizarre, most notably 2000’s Requiem for a Dream, 20008’s The Wrestler, and 2017’s mother!, can easily add 2010’s Black Swan to this category as he weaves an unsettling tale involving the world of ballet centered around the Tchaikovsky work Swan Lake.

The film is dark, eerie, perverse, and utterly mind-blowing in its creativity- in short, Black Swan is a masterpiece.

The film reaped several Academy Award nominations including a win for Natalie Portman as Best Actress.

In the competitive New York City ballet company, art director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), is preparing to open the season with the compelling and difficult, Swan Lake.

Deemed “too old”, star ballerina Beth McIntyre (Winona Ryder) is forced into retirement, much to her chagrin, allowing others to audition for the coveted lead role.

Aspiring talent, Nina Sayers (Portman) gives a flawless audition as the White Swan but lacks the depth to succeed as the Black Swan. Despite this point, Nina wins the role and slowly becomes psychotic as she begins to embody the Black Swan in her quest for perfection.

Center stage, Portman embodies her character with mystique as we never know if she is living her dual role or if someone is messing with her.

As strange events begin to occur, Nina is insecure and on edge throughout- as she desperately wants to give testament to White Swan/Black Swan she does not feel confident in the skin of Black Swan and she eventually teeters toward the edge of insanity.

Deserving the Oscar statuette she won, Portman delivers the best role of her career.

Black Swan would not have been the success that it was without the talents of the three most prominent supporting characters- Cassel, Mila Kunis (at the time unknown), as Lily/Black Swan, and legendary talent Barbara Hershey as Nina’s the supportive yet haggard mother, Erica.

Just as Nina grows both suspicious of and distrustful of each of these character’s motivations, so does the audience.

Is Lily a trusted friend? What does Nina know of her? Is Cassel’s Thomas manipulating Nina for a great performance or does he have sexual designs on her?

Is Erica a loyal confidante, a jealous bitch, vengeful about her stalled career?

The final scene of the film is a masterpiece in itself and perfectly wraps up the film in a perplexing, grotesque style. As the big night finally arrives and doubt is cast on whether or not Nina will perform successfully, the entire scene is a riveting, climactic experience.

One will never forget the final shot of Nina, gushing with blood, and a grimace caked in stage makeup, as she professes a perfect performance to her musical director and castmates.

With this scene, we are left wondering whether she will ever recover from this performance.

The fabulous musical score is haunting and effective and each piece is perfectly placed within the appropriate scene. The heavy use of violins gives the soundtrack a frightening, almost horrific screeching quality, and the Chemical Brothers’ electronic songs, importantly used during Nina and Lily’s wild night out clubbing, are tremendously effective.

The 1948 masterpiece The Red Shoes, directed by the controversial Michael Powell, must have been an influence on Aronofsky.

Both contain similar subject matters of ballet and dancing on the edge of sanity, I can hardly think of two better films to serve as companion pieces, watched in tandem, than these two timeless greats.

Darren Aronofsky, along with a perfectly cast company with stellar, bombastic actors, and a classical music score by the great Tchaikovsky, with electronic elements mixed in, delivers a piece that works in spades.

2010’s chilling Black Swan is a modern-day classic that will be discussed as much as it is remembered as an incredibly important film.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Picture, Best Director-Darren Aronofsky, Best Actress-Natalie Portman (won), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: 4 wins-Best Feature (won), Best Director-Darren Aronofsky (won), Best Female Lead-Natalie Portman (won), Best Cinematography (won)



Director Douglas Langway

Starring Joe Conti, Stephen Guarino

Scott’s Review #626

Reviewed March 19, 2017

Grade: B

BearCity is a small, independent, LGBT, coming-of-age film that tells of a young man living in New York City, and his exploration of a sub-culture within the LGBT community and the subsequent romance that follows.

The film is a comedy and has a “Sex in the City” or “Queer as Folk” approach to its storytelling- a group of close-knit friends and raunchy and gratuitous to be sure.

The budget is very small and some aspects are rather amateurish, but the film is enjoyable, especially for those exposed to the LGBT lifestyle.

The film is not heavy nor are any of the characters dealing with “coming out” issues, but rather it is a fun sex comedy romp.

Our central character, Tyler (Joe Conti), is a young man in his twenties, an aspiring actor, who moves to New York City to pursue his career, with a mind for casual dating.

His roommates encourage him to date Abercrombie and Fitch types, but Tyler comes to realize he prefers “bear” types- mature, hairy men.

On the sly, he begins to pursue this subculture and makes many friends. The apple of his eye, handsome Roger (Gerald McCullough) is a popular mature man, distinguished in the bear circle, and risks his reputation with “the bears” by falling in love with Tyler.

The two men spend the greater part of the film conquering their respective fears and finding their way into each other’s arms in a predictable ending.

BearCity is a fun farce and nothing very heavy and the feature of a strong circle of friends is a nice, positive portrayal- all of the friends connect well and stick by each other through thick and thin.

Comical sub-plots abound such as one couple (Brent and Fred) awkward parlay into the world of threesomes with unsuccessful results.

Another bear who is unemployed, and grossly obese, decides to undergo weight loss surgery much to the chagrin of his hunky boyfriend.

The main story though belongs to Tyler and Roger and their inevitable reunion can be seen miles away. The film throws various hurdles in their ways, such as a third-person briefly dating Roger, or Roger’s commitment issues, but the climax of the film will be no surprise to anyone.

Tyler and Roger make a nice couple as a whole, but perplexing is how the film makes Roger the undisputed leader of the bear group when he is a lean, muscular man- not a “bear” at all!

This is odd to me, but BearCity is so light-hearted that I suppose I can let this detail slide in favor of a good romance.

Critically, the film is nice but quite amateurish, and super low-budget. The acting, especially by some of the supporting characters (the pre-surgery guy’s boyfriend is the most glaring example), is not great.

I half-expected him to accidentally look at the camera.

Additionally, the film has a low-budget look and feel, which on one level is fine, but combined with the not-so-stellar acting, enhances the inexperience of the cast and crew. The film is tough to take too seriously- if this is even the intention of the filmmakers.

The film is a logistical treat for anyone privy to popular gay hangouts in New York City- specifically The Eagle and The Ramrod, both locales are featured prominently, and the use of many real-life people who hang out at those establishments are used throughout the production.

BearCity (2010) is not a bad experience and a film that is light and comical within the LGBT community seems rather fresh compared to the myriad of dramatic and heavy films that exist.

At the same time, the film teeters towards goofy too much with more than one silly, sex-crazed, stereotypical gay man, that it almost gives a bad impression, so the film has mixed results for me.

The Crazies-2010

The Crazies-2010

Director Breck Eisner

Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell

Scott’s Review #568

Reviewed December 27, 2016

Grade: B+

The Crazies (2010) is an example of a very rare instance of a remake (especially in the horror genre) being better than the original (Cape Fear also comes to mind).

Despite the original film being made in 1973, a wonderful time for creative film-making, I was not such a fan.

The remake is more slick and stylized, but I think it works well and makes the film an above-average effort.

There are many thrills during The Crazies and jump-out-of-your-seat scares (car wash scene), and I may never look through a keyhole again!

I felt tense watching several scenes and I genuinely did not know what was going to come next, which is quite an achievement for the modern horror genre.

I love the heartland, small town, middle of nowhere elements. A feeling of isolation and vulnerability is apparent and a must for successful horror.

The acting is above average for a horror flick, though, let’s not kid ourselves- who watches horror films for the Shakespearean acting?

This film was sort of a cross between 28 Days Later (2002) and Night of the Living Dead (1968) but set in mid-western surroundings.

A must for fans of modern horror.

Shutter Island-2010

Shutter Island-2010

Director Martin Scorsese

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio

Scott’s Review #567

Reviewed December 27, 2016

Grade: A-

Shutter Island (2010) is a great, psychological thriller, that being a Scorsese film, I had high expectations for. Lo and behold, I was not disappointed in the slightest.

Scorsese has a knack for making taut films, very violent, and with an edge. This film does not have the gore nor the blood that some of his other films have- especially since the subject matter is not mafia-related.

After Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio), a World War II veteran, turned U.S. Marshall investigates the disappearance of a female patient at a local psychiatric hospital, the case develops unforeseen layers.

The time is the 1950s.

Shutter Island is not your typical, run-of-the-mill thriller- it is much more than that and the complexities build and build. Not to be secondary to the interesting web of plot, but the art and set designs and visual effects are quite impressive- particularly during the storm scenes.

Leonardo DiCaprio is quite the gem, carrying the film in a demanding role, and working so well with Scorsese, as proven by his being a repeat player in his films.

All the performances (even tiny roles) were played with perfection- with flawless nuances- I mainly mean the hospital staff and patients.

The unpleasant violent images may upset some as well as the ending, but I found it to be an edge-of-your-seat, extremely well-made film. I hope that it is remembered for some time.

Clash of the Titans-2010

Clash of the Titans-2010

Director Louis Leterrier

Starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson

Scott’s Review #566

Reviewed December 27, 2016

Grade: B

Though I went to the theater begrudgingly to see Clash of the Titans-2010, (fantasy blockbusters are not typically my cup of tea), I have to confess to being moderately impressed by this film.

I had no real expectations other than it is a tale loosely based on the Greek myth of Perseus.

I have heard some people compare it to the original in an unfavorable way, but I have not seen the original- released in 1981 so any comparisons are a moot point.

At one hour and fifty minutes, the film is a perfect length and does not drag.

The plot is basic and focused. Perseus (Sam Worthington)  must save the life of the beautiful Princess Andromeda, as he leads a team of warriors into battle against vicious enemies.

Some of the creatures they meet along the way are fascinating.

Clash of the Titans (2010) is not fine cinema, and the acting is not spectacular, but the effects are worth mentioning and the look of the film is impressive.

My only real criticisms are the way Medusa is portrayed (said to be ugly, she really is a beautiful woman with snakes on her head) and the 3-D, which was pretty much unnecessary- this is probably an attempt by the studios to capitalize for profit.

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work-2010

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work-2010

Director Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg

Starring Joan Rivers, Melissa Rivers

Scott’s Review #563

Reviewed December 26, 2016

Grade: A

I found Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010) to be a great documentary.

For fans of Joan Rivers, the film is a treat, but for people unfamiliar with her, it is an amazing journey into her personal life, and we see her at her most vulnerable.

At the time of this documentary, she was a very busy seventy-seven-year-old entertainer. The film exceeds as it shows not only her stage persona, and quick wit, but a more intimate, personal side to the woman.

According to Rivers, the documentary makers were allowed free reign of what made the final cut, with no approval from Rivers.

Joan Rivers must be the hardest working, driven, seventy-seven-year-old alive. Not only is she the foul-mouthed, hysterical comedienne most know her as, but she also has an insecure, sensitive side that few see.

Moments of this documentary are hysterical, others are heartbreaking.

As she is mocked in a crappy club in the mid-west by a man offended by her jokes, Rivers lashes out at the man and later shows a sense of regret as she speaks to the camera.

The documentary is set up as a year in the life of Joan Rivers mixed in with her forty-plus years in showbiz, how she got her start, breaks, etc. We experience the pain she felt when her husband committed suicide, forcing her to take almost any job as a way to pay her bills.

This is a documentary that reveals much, much more than the public sees her as. It is an intimate portrayal of a courageous woman that few wholly see.

I loved it.

Toy Story 3-2010

Toy Story 3-2010

Director Lee Unkrich

Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen

Scott’s Review #562

Reviewed December 26, 2016

Grade: B+

It’s not easy for sequels to succeed in the creativity or originality categories, but surprisingly, Toy Story 3 (2010) is a fresh, imaginative, fun film.

The characters are charming, interesting, and heartwarming, and the film can avoid a sappy result.

Pixar has another hit.

Andy, now grown up and headed off to college, sees no reason to keep any of his childhood toys, now irrelevant and headed for the scrap box- at least that is what Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and friends, fear will happen as the dreaded day approaches.

They must scheme to avoid their fate.

Many interesting new toys are introduced to this franchise with unique personalities, thereby giving a fresh approach, yet not forgetting the past.

I adore how Toy Story 3 has many dynamic themes (loneliness, abandonment, togetherness), that play very well together with a nice message.

On a deeper level, the film reflects the modern era. People are so easily thrown out, forgotten, and abandoned, whether through a job, relationship, etc. so that makes this film a sad reality if one chooses to look at it that way, which most won’t.

Great movie for kids and adults alike with a meaningful, relevant message. The film is not a sugar-coated affair and offers a cold reality while remaining accessible.

Oscar Nominations: 2 wins-Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Animated Feature Film (won), Best Original Song-“We Belong Together” (won), Best Sound Editing

The Kids Are All Right-2010

The Kids Are All Right-2010

Director Lisa Cholodenko

Starring Julianne Moore, Annette Bening

Scott’s Review #560

Reviewed December 24, 2016

Grade: A

The Kids Are All Right is a fantastic film!

In my opinion, the film is one of the best of the year 2010 and was rewarded with a deserving Best Picture nomination.

Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo were also honored with acting nominations. Bening gives the best performance in the film.

Continuing the trend of more exposure to LGBT issues, The Kids Are All Right tells of a same-sex-centered family dealing with real issues.

Though not dark, the film is not light or played strictly for laughs. It is a family drama that shows how same-sex family units face problems like everyone else, and how they deal with them, never forgetting how much they love each other.

The writing is intelligent, deeply layered, and rich. The acting is superb, and the characters are complex.

The best scene is one where the entire family is eating dinner- suddenly the camera focuses on one person and goes in slow motion, the other voices become muffled and distant, and painful emotion is portrayed on one of the character’s faces as a revelation comes to the surface.


Even the seemingly unimportant dialogue throughout the film is smart as it shows the bond of the family that cannot ultimately be broken.

The Kids Are All Right (2010) is a worthwhile and compelling film.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress-Annette Bening, Best Supporting Actor-Mark Ruffalo, Best Original Screenplay

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: 1 win-Best Feature, Best Director-Lisa Cholodenko, Best Female Lead-Annette Bening, Best Supporting Male-Mark Ruffalo, Best Screenplay (won)



Director Christopher Nolan

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page

Scott’s Review #558

Reviewed December 22, 2016

Grade: A-

Inception (2010) is the type of film that will leave you astounded, baffled, confused, bewildered, and many other adjectives. To put it more simply, this film needs to be pondered after the fact.

This is a high compliment as it is tough to remember such a complex (in a good way!), savory film.

Inception is visionary and meant to be processed.

A highly intelligent film, of sorts, that will leave you thinking afterward. The story is immeasurably complex and will leave many completely confused, but just go with it.

In a nutshell, it tells the story of a man who intercepts people’s subconscious minds through dreams. Different layers of their minds are revealed as the film goes along. There are also virtual levels to each person’s mind- complex, yes.

The film reminds me quite a bit of The Matrix- but better.

The film has many twists and turns throughout and will keep the viewer both perplexed and fascinated. My only slight criticism is the dream sequences do not feel like dreams at all but are highly stylized action sequences.

Many props have been given for being so inventive, though.

Oscar Nominations: 4 wins-Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing (won), Best Sound Mixing (won), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (won), Best Visual Effects (won)

Never Let Me Go-2010

Never Let Me Go-2010

Director Mark Romanek

Starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley

Scott’s Review #555

Reviewed December 21, 2016

Grade: A-

Offering a unique experience in creative story-telling, Never Let Me Go (2010) is an excellent film that I was happy to discover.

A mixture of romance and science-fiction, tells of young love and tragedy interestingly- sacrifice and science can lead to dire results.

Based on a 2005 novel of the same name.

A small British drama about a private school where the children are raised as typical children, but at a certain point are expected to donate organs to save other lives, the concept is quite fresh and original.

The film deals with both the moral and psychological effects of the chosen ones as they attempt to allude to ending their lives- if they can prove they are in love.

My initial reactions were multiple emotions-thought-provoking, touching, and sad is what I felt.

This film will make you think. It is equally evocative and thought-provoking- many times I imagined myself in a similar situation.

As Andrew Garfield’s character gets out of his car on the side of the road and screams up at the sky, it is the most powerful scene in the film.

Excellent acting by the three leads (Mulligan, Garfield, and Knightley), with special praise for Carey Mulligan.

Charlotte Rampling as the mysterious headmistress of the school is brilliant.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best Cinematography

Inside Job-2010

Inside Job-2010

Director Charles Ferguson

Starring Matt Damon

Scott’s Review #552

Reviewed December 20, 2016

Grade: A-

Directly derived from the financial crisis of 2008, Inside Job (2010) explains what led up to, the factors involved, and who is responsible for the 2008 crisis.

The documentary is very important to see- if nothing else but a lesson in greed and corruption.

It is mainly divided into segments to make it less confusing and the content is easily digestible. The basic concept is greed, and how people are predisposed to being greedy.

Those responsible for the crisis and the subsequent effects on millions of people attempt to defend themselves and what they did to the end. Sadly, they are still in power, as immoral human beings as they are.

Many times the interviewer will either catch the subject in a lie or leave them tongue-tied- one subject even threatens the interviewer. There is a sense of satisfaction that erupts as they squirm and attempt to quickly think of ways to evade the questions.

Inside Job shows how Wall Street is incredibly powerful, and how most politicians are puppets, who are influenced greatly by them.

It is a sad and discouraging documentary, but incredibly honest and thought-provoking. I left the theater feeling angry and depressed, but feeling that the filmmakers did an excellent job of educating the viewer about the woes of the world.

Narrated by Matt Damon, Inside Job (2010) is one of the best documentaries I have seen in recent years.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Documentary Feature (won)

The Fighter-2010

The Fighter-2010

Director David O. Russell

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale

Scott’s Review #546

Reviewed December 11, 2016

Grade: A-

The Fighter (2010) is an excellent film. Being a sports film there are the inevitable cliches, which make the entire sports film genre rather predictable.

But this film is a very well-done story and based on real-life figures (the Ward brothers).

Tremendous acting by Wahlberg, Bale, and Melissa Leo, in the role of Mama Ward- a role of a lifetime.

The telling is a true story of Mickey Ward, a boxer from Massachusetts, and his battle to stardom, dealings with family members, and his love life.

The characters may be ever slightly overdone in the rugged, rough, Bostonian way, almost appearing New Jersey-Soprano-ish instead of New England, but the message is clear- they are in the boxing world and are tough guys (and gals).

This film is much more character-driven than many similar sports movies, thank goodness and the casting is spot-on. There are the inevitable final boxing match and the standard reaction shots, but again sports films are riddled with cliches.

The real win is with the character’s layered, complexities as they love and hate each other.

Bale and Leo deserved their Oscars for their respective roles in The Fighter (2010), specifically Bale for the shocking weight loss and spot-on character imitation.

Oscar Nominations: 2 wins-Best Picture, Best Director-David O. Russell, Best Supporting Actor-Christian Bale (won), Best Supporting Actress-Melissa Leo (won), Amy Adams, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing

How to Train Your Dragon-2010

How to Train Your Dragon-2010

Director Dean DeBlois, Chris Chambers

Starring Gerard Butler, America Ferrera

Scott’s Review #537


Reviewed December 5, 2016

Grade: B-

How to Train Your Dragon is a  decent, but less than spectacular, animated film from 2010.

Undoubtedly targeted toward youngsters, it contains G-rated elements and I may have enjoyed it more if I were nine years old.

The film is loosely based on the British book series of the same name.

A subsequent sequel has commenced in 2014.

From a story perspective, the film does tell a story with a nice message. Young Hiccup is a teenage Viking on the cusp of becoming a man. As a ritual, he is expected to kill a dragon to prove his worth as a warrior to his tribe.

When put to the test, Hiccup finds that instead of desiring to kill the dragon, he wants to befriend it. Of course, the traditional Vikings want no part of any unity between the tribe and dragons, who are long-time enemies.

Mixed in with the main story is the inevitable love story between Hiccup and Astrid, a tough Viking girl.

There are way too many endless aerial battles between the tamed and vicious dragons, that it begins to feel more like an effort to fill time rather than furthering the main plot in any way.

This film has a nice message of kindness and togetherness but is very predictable and does not take any risks. There is nothing wrong with it, and animated fans may look at it differently, but to me, How to Train Your Dragon (2010) is quite run-of-the-mill.

Oscar Nominations: Best Animated Feature Film, Best Original Score

Exit Through the Gift Shop-2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop-2010

Director Banksy

Starring Banksy

Scott’s Review #531


Reviewed December 1, 2016

Grade: B-

Exit Through the Gift Shop is a documentary from 2010. I am a fan of documentaries if the subject matter interests me.

The topic of this documentary is street art, which is not especially appealing to me, but it is also nice to be open to new experiences and perhaps learn a thing or two.

Bansky, who both directed and stars in the documentary, is the main feature and his story is told. We meet a man from Los Angeles, who carries a camera with him wherever he goes.

Through his cousin in France, he decides to do a documentary on street artists.

He is fascinated by the mysterious and secretive, Bansky until he manages to one day meet him. He then begins to film Bansky’s street art activity.

So the documentary has some plot and is not the standard type of documentary.

Some claim that the film is staged and that a bit of a hoax has run rampant, but those allegations have not been proven.

I respect this feature as a nice, telling, documentary, but it drags a bit, which may be the result of my limited interest in the topic.

Great for anyone into street art.

Oscar Nominations: Best Documentary Feature

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: 1 win-Best Documentary (won)

Piranha 3D-2010

Piranha 3D-2010

Director Alexandre Aja

Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames

Scott’s Review #529


Reviewed November 29, 2016

Grade: C-

2010’s Piranha 3D is a tongue-in-cheek horror comedy that saves itself from being a complete drivel by having some sense of humor.

Remarkably, it stars some decent talents- Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, and Elisabeth Shue.

The film is pure fluff- not high art in the least, with no message or purpose to be found.

The film is terrible, but kind of fun at the same time. It’s camp and not to be taken at all seriously.

The plot is simplistic and standard horror fare- a school of piranhas are unleashed after an underwater earthquake, kill a fisherman, and ravage a college vacation party on a lake.

The college kids come to Lake Victoria to party and lounge on the beach, and typically, are dressed precariously. They are unceremoniously ripped to shreds by the angry and hungry killer fish.

Shue and Rhames must have hit rough times, and have required a paycheck to star in this. They play a Sheriff and Deputy- laughably unbelievable- as they try to protect the beach-goers from a grisly fate.

Dreyfuss plays a ridiculous and unnecessary role as the aforementioned fisherman.

On a serious (and sour) note, the objectifying of women is shocking in this day and age. Haven’t we seen enough stereotypes in one lifetime?

A few cool kills and humor, but Piranha 3D (2010) is a dumb, popcorn horror film.

The Last Exorcism-2010

The Last Exorcism-2010

Director Daniel Stamm

Starring Ashley Bell, Patrick Fabian

Scott’s Review #528


Reviewed November 27, 2016

Grade: B+

The Last Exorcism (2010) is an enjoyable independent horror film.

I found it unique and creative and it’s shot documentary style, so there is a level of watching something new and different in the horror world, that I appreciated.

The usage of either hand-held or documentary footage has been done before, but this film feels fresh and not cliche-driven.

Horror master Eli Roth produced the film.

A doubtful preacher (Reverend Cotton Marcus) who lives in Louisiana, sets out to perform his final exorcism with a documentary crew in tow, only to find a girl who is possessed by the devil.

Cotton is assumed a con artist, so we doubt he actually can help the girl, which is what makes the film so interesting and unpredictable.

What will happen next? Could the girl or her family be frauds?

The film is really scary and contains a dark, creepy, ambiance. It reminds me a bit of The Blair Witch Project (1999) with its shaky camera, dark, raw tones, and independent nature.

Recommended mostly for fans of horror.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best Supporting Female-Ashley Bell, Best First Feature

Despicable Me-2010

Despicable Me-2010

Director Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Starring Steve Carell, Jason Segel

Scott’s Review #526


Reviewed November 25, 2016

Grade: B-

My immediate reaction upon seeing Despicable Me (2010) is that it’s a cute film, just custom-made for the masses- children and families alike. This is fine, but I was honestly hoping for something a bit edgier or of more substance, but I did enjoy it at the same time.

The film is a fun, family-style affair for all ages with a nice story.

It tells of a villain, named Gru, who is in competition with other super-villains and hatches a plan to shrink and steal the moon.

He is reformed through three orphans (Margo, Edith, and Agnes) he first uses in his plan, but later comes to love and eventually adopts.

The orphans predictably reform Gru and bring out the nice man within him.

They change his life for the better.

There is nothing wrong with this film, nor is there anything tremendous about it either. I know some people loved it.

To me, Despicable Me (2010) was decent, but I wanted a bit more and perhaps a more complex or interesting plot, but that is just my taste talking.

True Grit-2010

True Grit-2010

Director Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin

Scott’s Review #525


Reviewed November 24, 2016

Grade: A-

Having not seen the original, 1969 version of True Grit,  starring John Wayne,  I cannot compare the two, but the remake in 2010  is excellent.

I do not profess to be the greatest fan of the western genre as the stereotypes are usually peppered throughout and the good versus bad cliches done to death, but True Grit is a different, contemporary western.

Fantastic looking with numerous big, current stars, humor, and quirkiness.

True Grit is a mainstream (in camera and style) Hollywood Western (the Coen Bros. usually are more gritty in their stories), but a well-made one.

The odd supporting characters make this film fantastic and there is an edge to it that enamored me. The film also contains some Quentin Tarantino elements making it left of center in some ways.

It tells the story of a tomboy-like fourteen-year-old girl, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), also the narrator of the film, who hires an aging U.S. Marshal to avenge her father’s death.

The story is well told, and the cinematography and attention to detail are great, giving off a crisp feel of really being in the Wild West.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director-Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Best Actor-Jeff Bridges, Best Supporting Actress-Hailee Steinfeld, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design



Director John Erick Dowdle

Starring Chris Messina

Scott’s Review #523


Reviewed November 23, 2016

Grade: B

Devil (2010) is an enjoyable thriller/horror film deemed the first in a trilogy, though it is unknown if the subsequent films will see the light of day since this film was not a smash success at the box office nor was it critically acclaimed.

A fun fact is that the screenplay is based on a story written by respected director, M. Night Shyamalan.

The premise is delicious;  set in Philadelphia, a man suddenly jumps from a tall skyscraper to his death. We learn from a narrator that the devil takes many forms and makes his presence known by suicide.

Detective Bowden (Messina) is called to investigate the death.

Eventually, five people are stuck in an elevator and one is a killer, presumably the devil. The film is a whodunit of sorts and a tale of morality, good versus evil.

Parts of the film are a bit hokey and suspension of disbelief is certainly required, but Devil is also a decent, edge-of-your-seat thriller.

Being only rated PG-13, the film tones down the gore and the death in favor of lighter, tamer activity.

The revelation of the actual killer is surprising and rather enjoyable.



Director Phillip Noyce

Starring Angelina Jolie

Scott’s Review #522


Reviewed November 20, 2016

Grade: B+

Salt (2010) is a very good, fast-paced, political thriller starring Angelina Jolie as a woman accused of being a Russian sleeper agent, who must go on the run to clear her name, all the while being chased by officials attempting to accost her.

The film offers nothing that has not been seen countless times before in movies like this, but seeing Jolie in a role typically played by a male (the role was originally written for Tom Cruise), is cool and makes the film unique in itself.

She is great in the role.

There are some twists and surprises along the way that keep the viewer on edge- numerous action and car chase scenes abound and will keep the action flick viewer quite pleased.

It is quite fast-paced and very big budget.

On the downside, I couldn’t help but think are they making movies about the United States vs. Russia again?

They are, but I could not help but enjoy it for what it was.

Oscar Nominations: Best Sound Mixing