Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Under The Skin

What I've learned from Scottish film makers: Babies must die. Under The Skin is a sci-fi thriller about an alien (Scarlet Johansson) who prays on young men in Scotland and harvests them? Question mark? Maybe. You may think that was strange that I don't know what exactly was done, but that was kind of the point of the film; nothing is told exactly to the audience, but rather is allowed for the viewers to piece it together, themselves. The film had no exposition and was a perfect example of "visual storytelling". It's a great thinking film, and I don't recommend it to people that prefer action films. It really reminded me of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, at times, which is funny because both movies have a similar poster. If you like to be stimulated on an intellectual level, I think you will really enjoy this, other than that, this film may be a bit too much for you. This is the kind of film that I like, but you may not have the same taste as me. It's dark, brutal, has some dicks, and most of it is open to interpretation. That's the best part of it, is that it is a film that you talk about after its finished. It is very memorable, has a lot of interesting ideas and was perfectly executed. It's not my favorite movie of the year from a viewer stand point, but it is my favorite film of the year from an artistic stand point. I applaud Jonathon Glazier for the risks he took and his willingness to put what he wanted in a film and not care about making anyone uncomfortable. I will say: see this at your own risk, but I think your gamble will pay off
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bad Words

Bad Words is about a sociopath that enters a children's spelling bee through a loophole in the rules, and beats the pants off them. Not much to say about this, but if you like simple adult comedies, you will be thoroughly entertained. It is basically Jason Bateman's one man show, and he is amazing in this, as always. The plot is a bit deeper than my initial synopsis, but I don't want to give away the plot. Although juvenile on the surface, the film is surprisingly grown up, despite the potty talk and the childish premise. Some people seem to be turned off by this, which is disappointing, because I think those are the people who would end up enjoying the movie. It isn't the best movie so far, and certainly not the funniest, but it is well worth a ticket price if you are in the mood for some grown up laughs.
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the new Marvel studios action film about Metal Gear Solid 4. It has a very dark tone, that involves loss, loneliness, identity, and paranoia. It has an Ed Brubaker tone to it, and it will be all the more pleasing to fans of the modern Captain America. I was very surprised with this film, and it went in a direction that I didn't expect, even though I wasn't sure what to expect. The action sequences were very grounded. There were a lot of foot chases, gun fights and hand to hand combat scenes. It was like a Daniel Craig James Bond. It kind of has that Skyfall feel to it, and the action doesn't feel like an excuse to show action scenes, like the other Marvel movies, but rather as a way to show how hopeless the characters really are. The Winter Soldier (who has always been a favorite of mine) is badass, and I would really like to see him in future Marvel movies, especially as Captain America. One funny thing about this is a trend that I'm noticing in the Marvel movies where the sequel has a black sidekick, but come the Avengers, they are all gone. I expect that The Falcon will be absent from Avengers: Age Of Ultron. The moment that really got me hooked was a surprise twist in the second act. This is essentially me gushing as a fanboy here, but a character that I was not expecting made a fantastic appearance, and the film, from that moment on, had my full attention and emotional investment. I keep using the words "expect" and "surprise" because those are the key words. It compliments the film's post modern and paranoid political tone, and it may be the smartest (and best?) Marvel film to date. I recommend it to everyone, and this is, so far, the best film I have seen this year, and by a good margin.
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Grand Piano

Grand Piano is a classy fucking thriller about a concert pianist who is being held at gunpoint to put on a perfect performance. Frodo plays the pianist, and John Cusack plays the gunman. It's a very simple story that is, basically, Frodo at a piano for an hour with John Cusack talking to him. This film is the black tie gala of thrillers. In order to keep it from getting boring, it keeps you entertained with a constant classical score, marvelous cinematography that allows the audience to take everything in, subdued performances and a very laid back pace, all of which reflect the setting of a symphony orchestra. It also has the feeling of a Giallo horror film at times; it's great. It isn't what I expected it to be, but it is hypnotically watchable. The film is very similar to the movie Phonebooth. Each one is shot in a manner that is complimentary to the setting: Phonebooth takes place in a dirty city, so it has handhelds and quick cuts to keep it exciting and on the edge of your seat, and Grand Piano has long shots and elegant lighting, in order to keep it feeling fancy. This is a film that is made by somebody who understands the language of cinema. It is the equivalent of a classical music piece: it has a lot of moments of rage and unease, but overall, it is just an elegant piece of art that should satisfy anyone who is in the right mind set to take in its beauty.
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Saturday, March 8, 2014

300 2

300 2 is a movie about the unification of Greece that takes places during the battle of the hot gates. It has more of the same visual splendor, visceral action and boobs that make the first one great. Overall, this is a better movie than the first one. The reason the first one is so revered is because of the visual style that it had; that and the quotable moments. It was like a new Matrix. But with this film, although it isn't as fresh as the first one, it is more like a Hollywood film, rather than a comic book adaptation. It follows the same structure as the first film, except for the ending. In that regard, it is very Hollywood. It's not as grim, but it is much more violent, and gory. That, though, is the film's strongest point. Normally, I would think the excessive action without an interesting story to drive it would end up boring, but this is one of those action films that makes you want to see more action. The filmmakers identified what was good about the first one, and just improved on that formula: The action is still thrilling, the visuals are still striking (and more consistent), and the drama is kept to a minimum. There is just enough back story to justify the motivations of certain characters, but it never feels bogged down with it. The movie goes by at a thunderous pace, and never feels boring. That is very important for a film that's main selling point is the action. And the pristine bow that ties the whole package together is total commitment from Eva Green. She is so phenomenal as the villain, and I can't really picture anyone else doing a better job, and the film might feel kind of silly with any other actress. She is a classic diabolical femme fatale. For a movie that really had a lot going against it, 300 2 is a surprisingly great pre-summer blockbuster, and I heartily endorse it as the first great live action film of the year. If you are into violence, that is. If you aren't into blood and gore, I suggest you pass on this, but otherwise I highly recommend it, especially as a big screen movie.
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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Top 30 Most anticipated films of 2014

I waited a few months to do this, because I wanted to get a little more of a glimpse into the films coming out this year, plus I was inspired to do so because of the Oscars this year. So, again, you will have a good idea of what films to give your money to, here are my top 30 most anticipated films of 2014:
30. Sabotage/Rating: R/Director: David Ayer. And then there were none
29. Tusk/Rating R/Director: Kevin Smith. A serial killer obsessed with Walruses kidnaps a stranger and forces him to act like a walrus.
28. Godzilla/Rating: PG-13/Director: Gareth Edwards. Godzilla is back.
27. Zero Theorum/Rating: R/Director: Terry Gilliam. A hacker tries and find a reason for human existence.
26. Noah/Rating: PG-13/Director: Darren Aronofsky. Noah's Ark.
25. Transcendence/Rating: PG-13/Director: Wally Pfister. A dying scientist downloads his mind to a computer.
24. Intersteller/Rating: PG-13/Director: Christopher Nolan. Sci fi film about interplanetary corn harvesting.
23. Maleficent/Rating: PG-13/Director: Robert Stromberg. A retelling of Disney's Maleficent.
22.Expendables 3/Rating: R/Director: Patrick Hughes. 80's action heroes fight Mel Gibson.
21. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Rating: PG-13/Director: Jonathon Liebesman. Reboot of the Ninja Turtles franchise.
20. 22 Jump Street/Rating: R/Director(s): Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Jenko and Schmidt go to college.
19. Dumb and Dumber To/Rating: TBD/Director(s): The Farrelly Brothers. Harry and Lloyd go searching for a long lost son.
18. Exodus/Rating: TBD/Director: Ridley Scott. Moses leading the slaves out of Egypt.
17. The New (as of now) Unnamed Terrence Malick Film/Rating: TBD/Director: Terrence Malick. Who the fuck knows, but, Terrence Malick.
16. Dead Snow: Red Vs. Dead/Rating: R/Director: Tommy Wirkola. The Nazi Zombies are back.
15. Oculus/Rating: TBD/Director: Mike Flanagan. A woman tries to exonerate her brother by proving a crime he committed was supernatural.
14. The Babadook/Rating: TBD/Director: Jennifer Kent. A mother who grieves her husband's death realizes there is a sinister figure lurking in her house.
13. The Grand Budapest Hotel/Rating: R/Director: Wes Anderson. Whimsical mumbo jumbo from Wes Anderson.
12. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes/Rating: PG-13/Director: Matt Reeves. The monkeys are back!
11. Deliver Us From Evil/Rating: R/ Director: Scott Derrickson. A cop teams up with a priest to fight possessions in a city.
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier/Rating: PG-13/Director(s): Anthony and Joe Russo. Cap fights that old asshole, Robert Redford.
9. Wolves/Rating: R/Director: Big Boss. Werewolves with balls
8. Grand Piano/Rating: R/Director: Eugenio Mira. A concert pianist with stage fright learns that a man watching him has the pianist's life in his hands.
7. Foxcatcher/Rating: TBD/Director: Bennett Miller (Note: This was on my list last year). The story of an Olympic wrestler that was killed by a paranoid schizophrenic.
6. Inherent Vice/Rating: R/Director: Paul Thomas Anderson. A detective in the 70's investigates the disappearance of his former girlfriend.
5. Gone Girl/Rating: TBD/Director: David Fincher. A woman disappears on the day of her wedding.
4. Frank/Rating: TBD/Director: Lenny Abrahamson. An aspiring musician gets in over his head when he joins a pop band led by a crazy Michael Fassbender.
3. Guardians Of The Galaxy/Rating: PG-13/Director: James Gunn. The Marvel event of a lifetime.
2. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For/Rating: R/Director(s): Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez (Note: This was on my list last year). More visual and striking thrills in the underbelly of Sin City.
1. X-Men: Days Of Future Past/Rating: PG-13/Director: Bryan Singer. Shirtless Hugh Jackman and prejudice Robots.
That's my list for this year. Initially I didn't think there was a need to do this, but after the Oscars, I saw that a good amount of the films that I wanted to see last year ended up nominated for that illustrious golden prize. This year looks pretty good, especially since most of these films here are horror films, and they don't look cheap or cranked out for quick profit (Paranormal activity). We are a bit light on the comic book front, and the indie dramas, but I think we all earned a break from both, with just a few Marvel Blockbusters, and less guilt trip inducing Oscar bait. You may be wondering what the Ninja Turtles reboot is doing on this list, but I am a big TMNT fan and I am optimistic that they are going to try and make an entertaining film about the Turtles, but not bloody likely.
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Friday, January 17, 2014

My All Time Top Twenty Films

Because ten, is just not enough
20. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The end of the 80's. Dark, gritty, violent and very grown up. No more parties for the kids, but it is also a great adaptation of a silly book (which was dark and violent). It perfectly balances humor and action in a way that is both fun for kids, but very grown up.
19. Ghost. A classic tale about how love doesn't end in death. Ghost is both a great story of true love and of betrayal. One of the most entertaining movies I have ever seen, and, like Chinatown, it has something for everybody.
18. X-Men. The most mature entry in the Superhero genre. X-Men pretends to be an action movie, while it is really a drama with some big action set pieces. It's a pretty modest film, considering the time. It is probably the riskiest Superhero property, because of what it has to juggle. Not only is it juggling so many characters, but it does it with, virtually, no name actors. X-Men is, arguably, the most influential action film of the last 50 years, considering what it launched.
17. James Bond Films. The point is that 007 is such an important part of my life that most of the films in this series could fill up this list, so I just gave the series this spot. The greatest spy of all time, and the greatest franchise of all time.
16. Mississippi Burning. I love Alan Parker. That is a man that really knows how to capture emotions on film. Mississippi burning is not great because of the story that is being told, but rather how the story is told. Brad Douriff is one of the greatest actors, and to see him at the mercy of Gene Hackman, is truly powerful. And the only thing more uncomfortable than the south, is the south during the civil rights movement
15. Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. playing himself in a robot suit, combined with Jeff Bridges as a villain, perfect film. I don't even want to go into detail about this one, other than, while not as deep as other films in the genre, but what it lacks in depth, it more than makes up for in fun charismatic performances, and untold replay value.
14. Wes Craven's New Nightmare. Expanding on the formula that made the original so great and terrifying. Freddy Krueger is reinvented as a darker, sleeker, and much more menacing boogyman. One of the greatest and best excuses for a sequel in horror films.
13. Alien. As far as I'm concerned, the greatest thing that Star Wars ever did, was force Hollywood to make space films. And the greatest thing to come off that fallout is Alien. Alien is one of the coolest looking movies, and it was done on a tiny budget. It's dark, smokey, claustrophobic, and there is LOGIC IN A HORROR FILM. When you are on a space ship with a creature that you know nothing about, what are you going to do? You can't leave the ship. It's not Star Fleet. And the Alien (Xenomorph) is probably the greatest monster ever put on film.
12. Mortal Kombat. The only decent adaptation of a video game, but it also faithfully adapts the source material (for a PG-13 audience) even down to Reptile being a secret character. By no means is this a great film, but it is watchable, and I just happen to be a huge fan of the Mortal Kombat series, and I always get a kick out of the splits ball punch.
11. Boogie Nights. Both an amazing coming of age story about a boy who was trying to find his way, and a horrifying tragedy about the golden years of the porn industry. Paul T. Anderson makes whatever the fuck he wants and however the fuck he wants, and the end result is always golden. Anderson is easily one of the top directors working today, and this is his masterpiece. I love California in the 70's and I am absolutely enthralled by the behind the scenes of the porn industry. The movie is just as polished and shiney as the decade it takes place in.
10. Freddy Vs. Jason. Although Freddy already appeared on this list, I had to include this because of how much of a perfect fan service this film was. It's never boring, and, surprisingly, it is very well shot and made. Sure it's schlock, but it is the best damn schlock ever made
9. JFK. Who can you trust? JFK dares to ask questions that may never be answered, but what earns this film this spot on the list is the calibur of the film making. Perfect direction, editing, cinematography and acting. A true cinematic achievement
8. True Romance. A match made in heaven: The slick direction of Tony Scott, and the super cool/quirky/witty writing of Quentin Tarantino. It lives up to its name, wonderfully, and the time not spent building character development is spent with some super tight and stylish action sequences that bridges everything together, all the while encompassed by an amazing score by Hans Zimmer
7. L.A. Confidential. A great satire disguised as a mystery. The film is in itself a metaphor for the 50's (like I said in a previous review). Just read my review if you aren't satisfied
6. Shame. Not for the feint of heart, at all. This is the only film here that I wouldn't recommend to anyone because it is such a depressing film. But, apart from being depressing (which it is the whole way through) it is actually wonderfully shot, and features one of the greatest performances I have ever seen, set masterfully against a New York backdrop which perfectly captures the dark, gritty and (no pun intended) shameful feeling of the film.
5. Before Sunrise/Before Sunset. It is so hard to rank these in individual spots because, not only, is it one story about these characters but both films are just different enough that one could be better than the other. The first film is such a magical and wondrous tale about two people meeting and spending a night together, and the second film is a more mature tale of the same two people a few years later, with some more impressive and tighter film making.
4. Full Metal Jacket. There was no way Kubrick would be left out of this list. Stanley Kubrick is the greatest director of all time, and Full Metal Jacket is his masterpiece. This is a perfect example that shows the horrors of war and how people deal with everything in between combat. it is really 2 brilliant movies in one, and has one of the most iconic and hilarious (unintentionally) performances of all time. It moves at a great pace and features a lot of great shots that are a staple of Kubrick films, all the while just showing some average Joe's fighting in one of America's biggest mistakes.
3. The Usual Suspects. Not only is this a perfect example of film making, but it has one of the greatest endings in all cinema. Mystery is my favorite genre, and The Usual Suspects is a film that retains its magic after the ending is revealed.
2. Take Shelter. A cinematic masterpiece. Take Shelter is the closest a film has ever come to being called a perfect movie, in my eyes. It's a great original film, with some brutal moments, a monumental performance from Michael Shannon,
1. Less Than Zero. Probably the most gorgeously shot film I have ever seen, Less Than Zero is the only film that perfectly captures both the youth and the decadence of the 80's. It shows that behind all the glitz and glamour is terrible tragedy, and non stop debauchery. It also shows the evils of cocaine, without pandering, or being too heavy handed with it. The performances are top notch, especially from Spader and RDJ, and it included the sexiest sex scene I have ever seen. No nudity is shown, but rather, it relies on genuine passion, and it shows love for what it sometimes is; innocent, but superficial. LA was the place to be for the youth of America, but sadly, there was no place for the youth of America in the 1980's.
If you haven't seen any of these, you may like them, and I say give the ones you don't know a shot, because a lot of these didn't have a lot of media attention, but I am biased towards some of these because I respect them for what they are, but the other ones are pure cinematic genius.
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