Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews
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Anti-Union Film 'Won't Back Down' Has One Of 'The Worst Debuts Ever' For A Wide-Release Film | Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC)

Anti-Union Film 'Won't Back Down' Has One Of 'The Worst Debuts Ever' For A Wide-Release Film | Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
This anti-union movie bombed at the box office. Earlier this week, we educated you about the right-wing billionaire who produced Won't Back Down, a fil
Christopher Lock's insight:

A BAD FILM YOU SHOULDN'T SUPPORT: It's that time of the year when anti-teacher-union films come to theaters and in case you didn't know --they're always funded by the same right-wing billionaire Phil Anschutz and his conservative Walden Media Company who hates public schools, loves charters, and caters to homeschoolers even more. His meddling in plots and toning-down classics have a long history of complaints. When he fiddled with "Dark Star Rising" everyone on the project noted that nothing of the original remained. At all. I give him credit for keeping his preaching mostly out of his Narnia projects, but anyone who's read the books knows most of the remaining stories work brilliantly on paper, not so well on film, are theologically complex and as he discovered, money losers at the box office, and due to his trend of dumbing things down for "family friendly" approval, his muted stories often lose money -- and this year's annual teacher-bashing breaks the records!

"Won't Back Down is one of the worst debuts ever for a wide-release movie, ever"; "Earning an atrocious $921,000 from 2,515 locations, it will earn around $3 million this weekend"; "At little more than $300 per theater, most screens had less than thirty viewers all weekend"; "in it's category, a new record breaker" (many reviews below)

Last year's simplistic anti-public-school "Waiting For Superman" also did badly, and this year's "teachers unions still bad/charter schools still good" flop teaches a good lesson: you can spend millions making propaganda for privatizing falling schools, but if the forest of people don't see it, did it ever make a noise?

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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:54 PM
PS: Close to my heart are all my friends who actually went to this one-sided argument because they're very much interested in helping education. I contemplated seeing it myself before thinking better of increasing its miserable profit. Films like this use a public's concern, alas, to the ends of privateers who's game plan always has been to do to schools what they did to hospitals: turn them into money machines.

http://boldprogressives.org/anti-union-film-wont-back-down-has-one-of-the-worst-debuts-ever-for-a-wide-release-film/

Anti-Union Film 'Won't Back Down' Has One Of 'The Worst Debuts Ever' For A Wide-Release Film | Progr
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:54 PM
http://boldprogressives.org/right-wing-billionaire-wont-back-down/

Meet The Right-Wing Billionaire Behind The Union-Bashing Film 'Won't Back Down' | Progressive Change
boldprogressives.org
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Life of Pi

Life of Pi | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
A 3D adaptation of a supposedly
Christopher Lock's insight:

Ang Lee is a remarkable director and I guess I'd have to say he makes the most of a problematic book in this touching film. After so many friends disparaged the novel (I'm not such a fiction reader myself) I'm glad I spent two hours being told the story by such a masterful director rather than spend days or weeks dying on a raft of a book, only to discover near the end that it was all a metaphor, or a repressed memory, where the monkey got murdered by the kid -- but that was his mom, so he must have killed her -- wait a minute. What?

Life of Pi is a meditation on grace versus survival, and if I tell you the lion represents the pure will to survive, I don't think I've spoiled anything. The film elicited conversation after and then contemplation of layers of meaning for hours after that, though I'm not sure it all adds up. Like "Inception", much of this breaks down in thoughtful retrospect, and I'm not sure either has much profundity about life once the complications are unwound.

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Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Silver Linings Playbook walks a tricky thematic tightrope, but David O. Russell's sensitive direction and some sharp work from a talented cast gives it true balance.
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Lock's Mini-Review: I never doubted for a moment that these people truly had the mental challenges they were depicting, never over-the-top crazy but as it must be in real life (and you quickly sympathize) managing to take every waking moment a little too seriously, reacting too strongly, interacting with others often in high-strung ways, pushing things a bit too far until simple episodes become an explosive mess, windows get smashed, the police come, life spirals out of control, again. What's a particular treat are the performances of the great actors around the main couple. They're a bit "off" too, some because of the family they must deal with day to day, some, because they're a bit odd too. And that's the real insight in this film, being able to show how everyone handles reality a bit differently, how there probably never has been such a thing as "normal", just some people being better at handling life than others, and all the ways we cope with what we're dealt. It's pretty amazing that a film this honest that deals with the one kind of character Hollywood learned long ago to avoid ("never do a film about crazy people because no one likes spending two hours with them and they sure won't sympathize") makes you admire them, enjoy being around them with all their differences, admire the people near them, and end with optimism and good feelings while never shirking from the tangled truth. Worthy of its awards.

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Margaret

Margaret | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
A surfeit of ideas contributes to Margaret's excessive run time, but Anna Paquin does a admirable job of guiding viewers through emotional hell.
Christopher Lock's insight:

This is a LOCK MINI-REVIEW -- The film "Margaret" was made in 2011 and I've only now caught it. It stars Anna Paquin who will infuriate you as an over-the-top high school senior who grows more intolerable, more frenetic, more screachinglyadolescent in her hysteria that the world is, indeed, a mess and incredibly unfair. Really unfair. But after you've thrown some shoes at the TV and contemplated shutting her off (good LORD would she just settle DOWN!) you will find this to be an exceptionally good, interesting and honest film. She can't stand the world because the world is basically allowing her to get away with murder. I won't go any further than that but, wow, what a daring and masterful performance by our favorite Ms. Paquin who really does remind us why those teachers should be paid more, and what a terrific film can do that doesn't let us off easy, that dares us to say, "enough!" and in shoving the mess of reality at us makes us appreciate the struggles each of us has in living. So if you're ready for THAT sort of an evening, I find this to be one of the best, most brave films I've seen this winter (but go ahead and throw something at her, because you'll honestly feel better if you do).

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Oblivion

Oblivion | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Visually striking but thinly scripted, Oblivion benefits greatly from its strong production values and an excellent performance from Tom Cruise.
Christopher Lock's insight:

MINI-REVIEW: This is a hard call. It's not awful, and the art direction is stunning, it's just not that good, toward the end mostly. Now it's nowhere near as bad as Tron 2, which also had incredible art direction. Like that sleepy trip (I honestly fought sleep for two hours. Lavish as that world was, I really couldn't care less about it) one almost is paying the ticket price to view a futuristic house. In the dismal Tron 2, it was a really amazing home set just outside the computer grid where whatshisname has been living all this time. The camera obsessively moves through the place until you know it, which made up for not caring about anything happening in the movie. Great house! It's similar here, in that the Jetson's-style house-on-a-pole they live in is fantastic! It really should win design awards. And when they go skinny dipping in that glass infinity pool! Wow! Very cool! The ships are cool, the drones are cool (and have this very effective noise), and many shots are so vivid and bright, it seems they should be in a better, more intricate film. I guess that's the problem. It's the problem with so many sci fi dystopian stories these days, the concept fits on a postage stamp, and once you've gotten the basic idea, um, well, who cares? Though it's not like this basic idea actually became clear very quickly. Somewhere near the end of Act II Tom Cruise goes off to meet himself. I won't explain further and I haven't spoiled anything, but just because he does this, suddenly I guess he believes some cocamame story Morgan Freeman told him, which makes no sense because the oddities of one thing don't prove another, and since it consigns him to possibly destroying civilization ... well, it seemed a bit careless. Oh, I loved the cabin in the mountains, and I loved the women sub plot that seemed aimed at winning over husbands of overbearing wives (who couldn't get over their first girlfriends or something). So it's great to look at and a decent flick most of the way through, and that's better than most things, though I'll accept boycotting this because Mr. Cruise, as good as he actually is still defends an evil cult (I won't join the bandwagon of hate on this guy. He's a good actor -- did you SEE Mission Impossible 3? -- even if he is in a cult and benefits from slave labor by remaining "unaware" of those very slaves all around him). If you go, go for the house tour. It's a great house!

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Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into Darkness | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Visually spectacular and suitably action packed, Star Trek Into Darkness is a rock-solid installment in the venerable sci-fi franchise, even if it's not as fresh as its predecessor.
Christopher Lock's insight:

Mini-Review: Yeah, surprise, I loved the new Star Trek movie. It's a frenetic roller coaster so fast you honestly have to run through scenes later to fathom a lot of what all that running about was for. They pack so much stuff in this, it's perfect for arguing over dinner with fellow trekkies after, "Why does Scotty have to run across half the ship to push a button? Don't they have computers?" or tossing for hours at night as you turn one of its seventy-five plots in your head, "Wait a minute, they were pushed out of warp-speed?" What struck me was how much of it referred to the old film and television stories, the theater constantly "ahhh"ing at old lines said in a new twist, or old plots switching roles, or the name "Carol Marcus" requiring whispered explanations to those who don't know Kirk's family tree of romantic encounters (every port in a storm, Cap'n). In fact, it's probably the most "meta" movie I've ever seen (I'm not sophisticated enough to get the hundreds of Tarantino references) in that each action resonates with earlier references, the whole film is almost a non-stop tribute to originals, even as its bizarro-universe gives a strange and funky new take, like watching the original in a funhouse mirror. J.J. Abrams makes the future look incredibly strange and frightening, yet iron-hitting-iron real at the same time -- though for the second film now, I still don't know what a starship needs with a warehouse of beer fermenting vats. There's actually a serious theme about responding to terrorism behind it all, though I'd forgive teenagers for never catching much of that since everyone's brain is just trying to process the complicated imagery flashing at us. At its heart he captured the joy of characters bantering, liking, hating each other, like a college gang pulling some prank, and it's that fun that glues the breathless blur together.

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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:15 PM
One of he million things discussed after was noticing the poster art. I'm convinced it alludes (everything in that film alludes to something) to Caspar Friedrich's famous romantic painting, which was once the cover of my worn copy of Frankenstein, the...See More

http://www.angelfire.com/ar2/libros/Caspar2.jpg
www.angelfire.com
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Arbitrage

Arbitrage | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Arbitrage is both a tense thriller and a penetrating character study, elevated by the strength of a typically assured performance from Richard Gere.
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:58 PM
A luxurious film to look at, if not slightly easy-going in the suspense department.
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:58 PM
(full review was lost by Snippet.com)
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:13 PM
(Review found) A Lock mini-REVIEW-- This is a sophisticated, beautifully-shot thriller where you follow Richard Gere's deft maneuvering to escape punishment for a myriad of trespasses: hiding his mistress, her horrible death, the weaknesses of his financial firm that's for sale and massive fraud. It's this last whopper that elevates the story into a metaphor of the 1% getting away with murder. You come to understand that the very skills that gift them with selling companies also make them experts at finding loopholes, screwing the rest of us, and getting what they want while we pay for it. My sister and I thought it was first class: fun, smart, and a greater message overall. Dress up for this one.
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Chronicle

Chronicle | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Chronicle transcends its found-footage gimmick with a smart script, fast-paced direction, and engaging performances from the young cast.
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:21 PM
(Review lost by Snippet.com) This was a surprisingly great adventure no one heard about or saw in the theaters, last year. It feels almost like a dream, the way you're moving things with your mind, then flying... it all makes sense somehow. A fun ride.
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The Master

The Master | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Smart and solidly engrossing, The Master extends Paul Thomas Anderson's winning streak of challenging films for serious audiences.
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:11 PM
(Review located!) I hope you'll consider making it a point to catch this film when it comes: "The Master". It's about science fiction author and cult leader L. Ron Hubbard, the fake-psychotherapy cult-creature he created and perhaps a bit about its legacy. I haven't seen this yet, with such a limited launch, not many cities can view it yet; obviously there's a long roll-out to build word-of-mouth raves; so when it does hit town, people will actually support it. Besides having one of the greatest actors in it, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and top director, Thomas Anderson, this is an act of courage that should be supported with spreading the word and attending opening weekend (whenever it comes). After decades of lawsuits silencing journalists, book publishers and citizens attempting to spread the word of the con that is Scientology and its sick operations, this film is a first, exposing the cult for the sad exploitative monster that it is. Living in California for many decades, I met many refugees from that cult and a few still defending it. It preys on the naive and needy and this is a critical part of bringing it down. It'll be attacked with the ferocity of a criminal enterprise seeing their secrets exposed, so I hope you pay attention to when it DOES open near you and reward its honesty. We've been waiting half a century to see the truth come out.
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:11 PM
(Responding to a writer -- permission not secured to reprint) I've been friends with more than a few who were deep deep deep in the "Org". Though reading the few books that have managed to get out provide plenty of thrills,, at its heart its a sick con on people in need, that's my impression. Knowing these people, some were deeply damaged by it, others wasted years in its labyrinth. Like most successful cons, it's sprinkled with enough useful "truths" to make it enticing, but in the end, it's all in service of enriching the cult, empowering its megalomaniac leaders, and in the process, impoverishing its followers in every way -- just the opposite of what an institution should do.

It doesn't sound like this film will educate people on Scientology's details, its history or its way of luring in the gullible, but it starts the inquest all the same, and hopefully, with a portrayal of its founder and his fascination for sheepish followers to give their lives to him, even as "he makes it all up right there", it brings to public discussion something that should have been driven out of existence long ago.
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:12 PM
Roger Ebert found it murky, so I caution that it's not going to be a history lesson but more an exploration of cult leaders and their followers. Still, it's the first time Hollywood has dared examine the fringe little saucer cult that grew in the shadows of its back lots and exploited thousands, some who are quite famous delusionals this day:

Ebert says, "All around the film's edges are possibilities that Anderson doesn't explore. What, exactly, does the Cause believe, with its talk of past lives and ingrained prenatal injuries? "He's making it all up as he goes along," says son Val (Jesse Plemons). But "The Master" is not an expose, not a historical record of the Cause, Scientology or any other group and not really the story of its characters, who remain enigmatic to the end.

Enigmatic, but far from boring."
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Grown Ups

Grown Ups | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Grown Ups' cast of comedy vets is amiable, but they're let down by flat direction and the scattershot, lowbrow humor of a stunted script.
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:00 PM
(Review lost by Snippet.com) This is a horrible "film". It shouldn't even be placed among real movies. It's the documentary of a bunch of old comics hanging out for a few weeks, making up a lame comedy, and getting your money. You have been warned.
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Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Its sprawling, ambitious blend of thought-provoking narrative and eye-catching visuals will prove too unwieldy for some, but the sheer size and scope of Cloud Atlas are all but impossible to ignore.
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:48 PM
This is the kind of movie I'd try to make, imaginative, sprawling across all time, historical glimpses, grand message of human rights and compassion; alas, I'd make it much, much better. I appreciate what they tried, I'm disappointed as with all their flicks (it's from those Matrix brothers) that in the end its a shoot-em-up gun pic wearing a dim "be peaceful, Buddhist" greeting card message. Trying to connect the three hundred story plots, which at first was exhilarating ("wow, this is going to be epic!") quickly grew tedious ("wow, I don't care. What the hell is going on?") and became a game of "Tom Hanks from that stranded-on-the-island flick intercut with some pirate scene intercut with a bad 70's flick intercut with an IMPOSSIBLE laser battle/escape = I have no idea what's going on." (cont. below)
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:49 PM
As the end closed in I sort of appreciated the grand "declare your human rights" thing, and that Soilent Green factory was almost unwatchable, but that brings up the unbearable violence, blood spurting carnage that I'd forgive if it served something profound instead of, "kill people in a revolution to preserve your freedom."
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:49 PM
ALSO: intercut among this "box-o'-plots" is this ridiculous old man story of one brother imprisoning another brother in a rest home and then a zany, hi-larious break out where Scottish soccer hooligans save the day. Riiiiight. Kudos to some glorious/scary views of the future and great effects, and a feeling that this is important. But it's not. Wait for the credits to see what a nightmare the script must have been as each actor has twenty roles (seriously, it's fun to see).
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Detropia

Detropia | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Detroit's story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the...
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:13 PM
I haven't seen this yet but it's getting great buzz and its premier in the Motor City was totally sold out within minutes. Word has it that it shows you what Detroit is, in all its tragedy and complex triumph, highlighting the new wave of dreamers and doers who won't let the fifth largest city go quietly into ruin. Having grown up just down the road from what is essentially a science fiction dystopia, visiting great grandparents mansions (all my people once lived there) as caved-in ruins with grass growing among the fallen brick, Detroit hovers as a place that could be new and wonderful again, but also a place that horrifies as a land abandoned and the people struggling to exist there still. I look forward to catching this new view of the place we can't forget.
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Elysium

Elysium | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
After the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Elysium is a bit of a comedown for director Neill Blomkamp, but on its own terms, it delivers just often enough to satisfy.
Christopher Lock's insight:

MINI REVIEW: I thought Elysium was terrific. Oh, it's a sci-fi action flick, but Matt Damon usually picks thought provoking work and beyond exo-skeleton-wearing vs. exo-skeleton-wearing battles (many fights, and again, and again) we get those terrific space station visuals I pored over as a kid. 

Now, this space wheel has no roof, interestingly. I suppose the idea is that the centrifugal rotation of the wheel keeps the atmosphere pressed inside the inner rim, intact and breezy, though with all our space debris, I'm not sure I'd trust that, and any alteration of that rotation would mean the precious atmosphere would instantly float away and kill everyone, but hey, it's a summer flick. It's also really a writer's "exception" to allow bands of immigrants to land in the shrubbery (air locks would be more realistic but them beg the question, "Why not just lock them out?") and try to break into mansions where Health Care Beds await... until evil Jodie Foster sends robots to send them back (or kill them, which happens plenty too). So it's really a giant metaphor about immigration and health care, which is why the Right is bad mouthing it (Rush's rant below).

L.A. seems to have let itself go a bit too, in that it's now mostly mud huts and dust. I'm not sure if I'd set it so far in the future for this, as it requires little invention for the next century, but whatever. Women are left to be fearful, child-clutching props, which is a big failure in an otherwise well done action pic, but then, I guess it's to appeal to 12-22 year old boys who like their fantasy heroins helpless and shrieking, ala video games. So don't expect complexity or depth here, but I saw it on an IMAX screen and thought, "Stanly Kubrick would smile at what we can do for a summer flick these days."

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Christopher Lock's comment, August 15, 2013 12:50 PM
Rush Limbaugh hates this film, so it's got enough going for it right there to support:

http://thecontributor.com/ari-rabin-havt-elysium-biased
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Les Misérables

Les Misérables | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Impeccably mounted but occasionally bombastic, Les Misérables largely succeeds thanks to bravura performances from its distinguished cast.
Christopher Lock's insight:

We all appreciated what they did here, even if, despite giant ships and swooping crane shots, the film version of "Les Mis" felt surprisingly "small". It's not what I expected from the initial teasers six months ago, but if a stage demands full bravado singing then a camera two inches from an actor's face calls for murmers and quiet song. It's a more intimate show and perhaps some were disappointed in its lacking "oomph", but I followed the events better in this and appreciated it as a sort of assembly of several personal stories.

Yes, Russel Crow's strangely half-hearted singing in the high choir-boy register wasn't what we were used to when hearing the super-hunter: it was a new interpretation, a Javert who is a functionary cog in the machine of oppression, a worm, a rule-abiding bureaucrat. What it lacked in power it made up for in truth -- most evil is undoubtedly performed by slubs just doing what they're paid to do, without thinking through the consequences.

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Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
It suffers from some tonal inconsistency and a deflated sense of wonder, but Oz the Great and Powerful still packs enough visual dazzle and clever wit to be entertaining in its own right.
Christopher Lock's insight:

Lock's Mini-Review -- Oh, I liked this overall. It wasn't quite as "Great and Powerful" as it could have been and, yes, James Franco seems to always have a goofy "I'm only half here" grin to all his roles (think Oscars -- but he steals the show in Spring Breakers, reviewed later), but he's a fun character and the story is pretty well-thought-out, it sets up the classic perfectly (you realize how much backstory is alluded to in the original), and Sam Rami always has a good time in his pictures (and the Detroit native shot this in Pontiac, before the Republican governor cut the film incentives that now leaves an abandoned studio there). 

Visually, I thought they could have done better. I'm noticing a similarity these days in CGI landscapes. The sun is always dramatically low, the colors are over saturated, and these hills and whimsical land bridges seem familiar -- because we saw almost the exact same shapes in Charlie's Chocolate Factory and other Tim Burton films (who has nothing to do with this one, but I'm told they took the ad campaign directly from Alice In Wonderland, literally overlaying the new titles, and it looks like they took much of Alice's CGI landscape as well). Still, for trying to avoid copyright lawsuits from MGM, the Emerald City looks like the one Dorothy walks up to a generation later and scarecrows, poppy fields and Munchkinland are similar enough to make this a believable prequel.

I never really understood the motivation for the witches, which is too bad since it centers on them. Someone killed the father and someone else is gullible, but it's more about Oz not being so money-driven and using his con-artistry for good.

What won me over was the lack of big magic in this. That James Franco could evade a witch by hiding behind a tree, then sneak up to grab a wand -- it was like kids playing a game. No God-like superpowers, if people turn away then others might slip past. The triumphal ending is accomplished by essentially inventing a film projector, which when you think of the original, is essentially the extent of Oz's power. Such simplicity. Amid the usual super powers that can throw villains into space or smash buildings or destroy city blocks, a film reminding you that heroes used to win by sneaking quietly about or talking their way through conflict or, in this case, frightening others with suggestions of power they don't really have -- hey, now this has become unique.

Yeah, the monkey and china doll are a bit boring, and I'm not crazy that the blonde is of course good and the black-haired witch must be evil, but it's a movie that tries to be a little different while still being faithful to a story you realize was talked about extensively in the original but never shown. And now it has.

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Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Spring Breakers blends stinging social commentary with bikini cheesecake and a bravura James Franco performance.
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Lock's Mini-Review: The few who manage to find this barely-released, much-anticipated artsy-shock film will be in for a veeery looooong hour and a half in which exhilaration of bikini-clad Spring Break ritual turn tedious within about three minutes, then the horror plays out slowly, with unbearable repetition, echoing around you like a five-hour jazz poem, always teasing that it's going to go to a really bad place, but thankfully won't, and then, after a day-glow florescent eternity of gun shot sounds and squeals and a vow to never watch a Spring Break video or go to Florida ever ever again, it ends. And then in conversation after, you and most (most, but not all) of your friends find so much wrapped up in its sick and expert layers that you come to praise it as a really interesting film, if not exhaustively unbearable to actually watch.

This film helped me understand what normally-art-film-loving friends must have suffered through when watching Tree of Life. I loved that moody tone-poem without a plot film and thought it should have won best picture (OK, Sean Penn was confusing, but this review isn't about that film). Like that film, you're either in it totally or you're left out and angry that anyone wouldn't demand their money back (I heard of family members who left their theater). In this one, the waves of identical dialog and repeated music and calliope of circus sounds swirling around for what seemed days and the inability of time to actually move forward from that same moment we seem to have been dwelling on forever only to get trapped in another forever moment -- were intolerable. But I thought it all served the purpose well and we talked about it for hours.

Without going on about how I thought this very accurately described a real portion of the consumerist American Culture in which not-too-inquisitive youth is victimized and destroyed and ten brutalizes back in a money-centered plastic and reptilian system (this is a mini-review), let me assure you that despite the graphic imagery, hyper violence, and torturous suggestion by the filmmaker that much, much worse things could happen to these not-so-innocents at any time (the director made Kids, years ago, another disturbing film that wasn't as well made as this and much more exploitative), it's actually a fairly moral story in that bad things happen to those who stray but thoughtfulness leads to being spared.

Do not bother trying to explain the damn thing. If they haven't gone on the multicolored booze-fueled Spring Break Ride they can have no opinion. You have to endure it, and then you must discuss it, for as many hours as it seemed the film went. You will find these rare and brave others who didn't walk out and who also might find it one of the most worthy-of-discussing films of the year by whispering over and over again the words, "Spring Breeeeaaaak. Spriiiinnnggg Breeeaaak. Spriiinnngg Brreeeaaak Foooorever!" And it is faithful to that forever promise, but also worthy of forever conversation about its truthfulness, its layers of meaning, its messages about our sick culture and if it is part of that sickness, and how daring you all are to have suffered through it, because it really is an intolerably interesting and banal film.

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42

42 | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
42 is an earnest, inspirational, and respectfully told biography of an influential American sports icon, though it might be a little too safe and old-fashioned for some.
Christopher Lock's insight:

LOCK MINI-REVIEW -- I wanted to financially support this film in its opening weekend and wound up actually caring a bit about baseball, revering the balancing act that Jackie Robinson had to do, and shed a few tears before the film, a basic story, admittedly, but well-told, was through. So many films skirt around just how bad things were for a huge portion of our population "back then". Oh yeah, they'll give a little taste of being ordered to enter in the back or some villain "showing them their place" but "42" does a much better job of giving us a few doses of the heaping hatred some had to endure, especially those who dared step out of line to fight for a better day. It's not the most complex film you'll see and though I really liked Harrison Ford's character, I don't think it's his strongest performance, but Chadwick Boseman is a terrific new actor and you'll be glad that you spent some time appreciating what this guy, Robinson, did for the country. Bring the whole family (and warn about some strong language).

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The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
While certainly ambitious -- and every bit as visually dazzling as one might expect -- Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby emphasizes visual splendor at the expense of its source material's vibrant heart.
Christopher Lock's insight:

This is a Lock Mini-Review: It's almost impossible translating great and popular books to the screen. The words that make such books famous are left on paper in a medium composed of color, sound and image. The way that an author tells a story is replaced by actor's actions, director's choices, and an editor's cuts, which is why as engaging as someone, say John Irving's books are, most of the attempts to capture his stories become an incoherent mess on screen (Cider House Rules being in my opinion to be a magnificent exception; but Garp became Robin William's schtick, Hotel New Hampshire made no sense or money, and Owen Meany was so bad, Irving forced them to change the title and hide any connection, orphaning the nauseating Simon Birch as the truly awful after-school special it had become). It's not an easy thing to do in the least. Add to that director Baz Luhrmann's fixation with music and tendency to lose his stories into endless swooping psychedelic Bollywood-style dreams and you get an idea of the sort of train wreck some would say is inevitable for this newest spin in a long line of past attempts of The Great Gatsby. 

I'd say it's not perfect and, yes, you may suffer a bit of air sickness from a few too many aerial camera swoops, but you know, it's the best cinematic rendering of the great American Classic I've seen. Oh, it does get lost in its colors two-thirds through, the scenes seem more lost in the shirt fabrics and marble halls and we drunkenly start wondering where we are or what is going on here at all... but isn't that the story anyway? Goofy-smile Toby Maguire is perfect as Midwestern hopeful Nick Carraway, Leonardo DiCaprio is at the top of his game as confident smiling Jay who makes everyone he pats feel special (my, he does love playing obsessive millionaires), and Carey Mulligan as Daisy was not only born to be a 20's flapper, but you see why Gatsby lives for her, even as she is a bit of an illusion, a simple dream, maybe even a bit shallow and pointless and careless as revealed in the end.

With a nod to Life of Pi, this must be the most beautiful film I've ever seen. I mean a million-tinsel color, ultra-detailed fabric, stunningly gorgeous flower parades with fireworks -- every hand-painted frame dazzles, to excess, which is the whole theme here. It's beauty so intense, like the golden art deco designs that coat every surface (even the writing pens) it starts to suffocate you with its ornate beauty. Gatsby's car is more than a yellow car, it's a deep roaring flash of yellow light essence, chrome and power, careening like the age around the past. The famous billowing white curtains are alive and create a silky gossamer world where the women float -- before being snapped away. Even the pool water shimmers with a whole spectrum of turquoise (I could never stop admiring the pool water, it was hyper-clear-blue). I mean, even the psychologist's office gains flowers over time (the shrink, an added narrative device that allows Fitzgerald's evocative words to be spoken throughout, and often literally written over scenes which are also some of the most beautiful shots I've ever seen). Gatsby is in love, you see, and has the power to transform Nick's simple shed into a Garden of Eden. Everything in the self-made American hero's gaze blooms transformed, just as the Jazz Age and all of America (or New York at least) seemed to explode in youthful wild possibility -- until it's just too much.

It will be too much, I guarantee, and the story does get lost a ways through, but I think he's captured the whole point of it all. It's about an exuberant time when the rules had to be broken to get what we wanted, and it's about what that hyper-vivid exuberant love is like, and it's about the magic that becomes real when everyone wants to believe, even for only a while, and as Nick must return to his job on Wall Street hints, nothing this beautiful can last, and in most ways, it doesn't even make sense because it's so tethered to dreams and not to reality... but go for the beauty of it all, even if it's all a bit much.

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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:19 PM
Maybe it's not as compelling for women, but it's one of my favorites. It's an easy sell to teach High Schoolers. What American lad can't relate to a guy who becomes a flashy gazillionaire -- all to impress his true love. But perhaps true, for women, Daisy is such a guy's dream, and a shallow one, and all her friends are horrible pigs, so I can see that this classic appeals (as always, sigh) mostly to men. But see the movie, it's got layers and it's a good time!
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:19 PM
Today's news -- Gatsby Makes Millions: "Not too shabby, old sport. Baz Luhrmann's "Great Gatsby" opened to an impressive $51.1 million weekend. The adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's celebrated novel performed strongly at the box office, bringing an estimated $19.37 million on its opening day." (Iron Man still beat it, but for yet anther retelling of the classic 20's novel, not too shabby).
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:20 PM
Reviews keep coming in. Love it or hate it (it's about even), it's the first to make such money without superheroes flying around. And many scholars LOVE it, because while an entire psychologist-writing framing device was added to allow Nick to speak the famous words of the novel, scholars are noting that many of those words are Fitzgerald's own, that Fitzgerald was no stranger to sanatoriums (his wife, Zelda) nor for checking in for alcoholism. So it's bigger than Gatsby but many approve because it's also a bit about Fitzgerald:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/13/baz-luhrmann-great-gatsby_n_3265327.html

'Gatsby' Director Responds To Criticism
www.huffingtonpost.com
Baz Luhrmann was ready to take the blame if "The Great Gatsby" flopped.
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Amazon.com: The Way: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Deborah Kara Unger, Julio Fernandez: Amazon Instant Video

Amazon.com: The Way: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Deborah Kara Unger, Julio Fernandez: Amazon Instant Video
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:17 PM
(Review Lost)

This is a quiet, thoughtful, spiritual film. One of the best this year. Quite moving, you will rave to others once you've seen it. It's a quiet gem.
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Hysteria

Hysteria | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Hysteria has an amusing subject but its winking, vaguely sarcastic tone doesn't do the movie any favors.
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:47 PM
MINI-REVIEW: "Hysteria" is hysterical. It really is naughty fun. I like period pix to either be super-realistic time-travels or goofy romps that make fun of a time's mores and habits. This is the latter, feeling very much like the brilliant "Topsy Turvey" and set in the late 1800's, showing the horrors of leachy, fake-pill modern medicine as an absurdity, and the practice of early psychotherapy "talking cures", mesmerism, and, um, doctor's massage techniques for female stress. Yes. It turns out to be the light-hearted history of the vibrator; its invention, specifically. The kids might catch on, so maybe watch it after bedtime, but the telling is so sly and winking, they may laugh throughout never really catching what this is all about.

Having read a bit on those Victorian "professional" practices, this isn't a fiction, mostly, though the film has fun with the whole wealth-catering business. Handled in a different manner the show would be painfully awkward, stupid or creepy, but they hit the tone just right and the group I was with were enchanted with its feminist approach (Maggie Gyllenhaal is especially spirited among other talents, Rupert Everett playing a cad named "Edmund St. John-Smythe", the name itself cracks me up).

'Not sure why it doesn't score higher, though the reviews are hardly bad. It hits a giddy tone and plays it through to the end. Watch through the credits to get a final Victorian joke involving The Queen. Naughty fun, well done.
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This is 40

This is 40 | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Judd Apatow definitely delivers funny and perceptive scenes in This is 40, even if they are buried in aimless self-indulgence.
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:04 PM
My brother and I caught this a few weeks ago in Madison; I thought it was mildly amusing, he pretty much hated it.

One of the stranger aspects for a comedy built on sympathetic nods and chuckles ("aint it the truth, Judd Apatow...") is that the couple we follow is ridiculously wealthy compared to most everyone watching their antics, so the crowd is smiling, "oh yeah, you got that right," while slowly getting jealous of massive houses, cars, careers as execs in the music industry and the final straw, teaming up in a principal's office to destroy a hapless other parent who's a bit on the heavy side, not as perfect looking, maybe a bit poorer (um, that would be all of US) and then cruelly joking about it like a dark legal team that's just suckered the townsfolk. Yeah, weird twist.

"Are we supposed to kinda' start hating these two?" It's a strange place to take us in a comedy. I notice 50% or reviews didn't care for it, 50% mildly liked it. You have been warned.
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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Peter Jackson's return to Middle-earth is an earnest, visually resplendent trip, but the film's deliberate pace robs the material of some of its majesty.
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:00 PM
(A Snippet Commentor Writes) The only problem I had with the Hobbit, after seeing it was why The Lord of the Rings hadn't been given the same detail. Prior to seeing it, I wondered how 3 films could be needed to tell the story, compared to the material in the prior films. In general, your review is closer to my thoughts on the Hobbit than any others, I have read.
Maybe, it is just the depth of my Tolkien nerdiness, but I'm thankful it was made as it was and can't wait for the next installment.
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:01 PM
(Another writes) Your mini-review is spot on. We saw it yesterday in 3D/HFR; I found the effects distracting, even dizzying at times. We too will go back, but to see the 2D version. Best was having seen it together with my 11YO son and his renewed interest in the books.
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:01 PM
We're already forming a crew to see the high-frame version and compare. I'm delighted with all the interesting films we have right now (still must see that Le Mis epic, it's my favorite musical) but pleased that the sweet and vivid Hobbit rules them all --

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/the-hobbit-holds-lead-at-busy-movie-theaters/

'The Hobbit' Holds Lead at Busy Movie Theaters
artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com
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How did 'Battleship' escape the 'John Carter' flop furor?

How did 'Battleship' escape the 'John Carter' flop furor? | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
If there is a truism in Hollywood when it comes to the media, it’s that people in the industry never think you’re nasty, mean or vicious enough when writing about someone else’s movie.
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Django Unchained

Django Unchained | Christopher Lock Mini-Film Reviews | Scoop.it
Bold, bloody, and stylistically daring, Django Unchained is another incendiary masterpiece from Quentin Tarantino.
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Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 2:44 PM
Django Unchained is related to Tarantino's revenge-on-the-NAZIs film, this alternate universe depicting Christoph Waltz's good German ancestor (I surmise) who teams with a freed slave to go a' bounty huntin' in the horror-filled South.

After a century of sympathetic films (D.W.Griffith's klan-tribute, Birth of a Nation, launched the medium) and revisionist "they were happier then" B.S. and landscapes littered with monuments to The Confederacy that never mention racism, there's something deeply satisfying in this unapologetic fantasy where the depravity and hypocrisy dance with hilarious tension, inevitably to be blown up in bullets, dynamite and fireballs... again and again with skill and humor, degenerating to a cartoon by the end.

It's that long wait for the payoff that does grow a tad exhausting as we near the third hour of the film Also, the violence will burn you out a few days, leaving you a bit empty. That said, it's interesting poison: justifiably, giddily, angry.
Christopher Lock's comment, May 26, 2013 3:03 PM
An interesting perspective on Tarantino's "Spaghetti Western" making use of a painful histroy that black people still suffer from :

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-django-reax-2-20121228,0,1771716.story

'Django' an unsettling experience for many blacks