Sunday, March 23, 2014
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 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
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: Solid Snake. 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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