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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
No boos in this Wes Budapest creation!
"The Grand Budapest Hotel" is more of the unique craftsmanship of Writer-Director Wes Anderson, which many Wild Wes Wes Lovers will adore. The movie stars Ralph Fiennes in an excellent performance as Hotel Concierge M. Gustave of the titular hotel. Gustave is a suave concierge with his ways of romancing geriatric women heiress who stay in his hotel. One of them would be Madame D, who dies and leaves Gustave a priceless painting in her will and testimony. Madame D's ferocious sons have another plan in mind to relinquish Gustave of the painting. Gustave confides in a young lobby boy named Zero, who saves Gustave out of many near brushes with death & disaster; maybe Anderson should have shown Gustave singing The FIxx 80's tune "Saved by Zero" in one of the film's scenes. As in any Wes cinematic offering, there is much quirkiness involved in the film's scenes and characters. But as much as I enjoyed the film's creative ways, I do not think "The Grand Budapest Hotel" resides in the presidential suite of the greatest independent movie comedies of all-time even though it did have some elements of a first-class stay; which included Fiennes' grand work as Gustave, and other grand thespian works coming from F. Murray Abraham as the older Zero, Jeff Goldblum as Deputy Kovacs, and even the young Zero himself played by newcomer Tony Revolori who is quite a revelation in this picture. Anderson should be credited with another worthy idiosyncratic screenplay and direction of an independent movie. In all, I do think you should check-in and check out "The Grand Budapest Hotel". And for those of you who did not like this review, just please "get your hands off my copy boy", it was not his fault. **** Good
The Spectacular Now (2013)
Now is when you should see this!
Put on your specs (if you need them) and take a closer look at a luminous teen romance movie which is very reminiscent of the classic teen flicks of the 80's such as "Say Anything", "Pretty in Pink", and "Some Kind of Wonderful". The present-day some kind of wonderful movie I am referring to is "The Spectacular Now". The movie stars Miles Teller as Sutter, a hard-partying high school senior who has some internal emotional battles going on. Sutter is a pleasant guy but his hard- partying ways might be a recipe for disaster. He has just been dumped by his ex Cassidy which puts him even more in the partying mode by dealing with the heartbreak. But things quickly change for Sutter, as fast as a Bruce Sutter fastball from the 70's (OK, only baseball fans got that one), in the like of Aimee played by Shailene Woodley; she is a nice, pretty, but not-too-popular classmate of Sutter. They first meet when Aimee finds Sutter passed out on her front lawn. That is when she gets a rifle points it at him and says "get off my lawn"; Kidding, Kidding! I am writing this as am riding in a Gran Torino. OK, enough. What that lawn incident really commences is a friendship then romance between Sutter & Aimee. Director James Ponsoldt spectacularly orchestrates "The Spectacular Now" not with a caricature stereotypical aspect of teenage characters, but with a refreshing authentic look at modern teenage life and the challenges & situations brought upon them in family life, high school environments, and romantic relationships. Sutter lives with his single mom who is estranged from Sutter's father. Sutter is upset with his mom why he cannot get in contact with his father; and that sets up a major "BabySutter" moment in the movie; OK, maybe not that baby, but its an integral part of the narrative. Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber's screenplay of the movie was touching, comical, and endearing. Tell him and tell her about it when I say that Miles Teller reminds me of a young Tom Hanks! Did I Sutter, I mean Studder!! His work as Sutter was nothing short of phenomenal. Woodley also brought the acting hardwood here with her astounding work as Aimee. Other admirable acting performances were derived from Brie Larson as Cassidy, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Sutter's sis Holly, Jennifer Jason-Leigh as momma Sara, and Kyle Chandler in a small but poignant role as Sutter's self-absorbed poppa Tommy. "The Spectacular Now" might not be the most spectacular film of 2013, but it is one of the most spectacular movies I have seen about teenage life in a long, long time. So live in the now, and go see it right now! ***** Excellent
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Coenheads disappoint here a bit, but Mr. Isaac is where is at!
As I went "Inside Llewyn Davis" (please please please, don't take that the wrong way) I discovered I was watching a mediocre film that was a bit overrated by the film critic industry. But Inside Joel "Meeza" Mesa there is a disturbed pun cerebral cortex that causes Mr. Mesa to actually think he is part of the film critic industry; so there you have it. Anyways, this Coen Brothers feature stars Oscar Isaac as Lllewyn Davis; a struggling 60's folk singer who leaches of acquaintances, strangers, and other musicians for places to stay as he tries to make a folking name for himself in the music industry. Llewyn is not a nice guy; he is bitter, abrasive, and narcissistic; but boy does he love pussy. Get your mind out of the gutter, cause the pussy I am referring to is a cat of a couple friend of Llewyn who accidentally gets stuck with him, and he does go beyond the call of duty to safeguard the cat. Joel & Ethan Coen are filmmaking legends, so it's hard to nitpick them; not good to nitpick a Joel anyways. But I don't think their direction and scribe of the picture captivated me, but at the same time it was not a folking bore either. Many say that Oscar Isaac got snubbed of an Oscar nom for his starring role here. I do agree that Isaac was phenomenal, but with such a heavy competitive field in the Best Actor race this last season, I think Oscar was properly snubbed; but Oscar's Oscar time will come, try saying that six times in a row at a fast pace. Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake give fair performances as the folk duo singing couple Jane and Jim, or is it Jim and Jane. Llewyn impregnates Jane by folking around too much with her; I guess he was having too much fun with "Dick and Jane". "Inside Llewyn Davis" was not the movie I thought it would be, but as an outsider looking inside to the film critic industry, I still suggest you take a look for yourself. And if you did not like my review, Folk You!! Kidding! Kidding! *** Average
I Give It a Year (2013)
I give it an 10 out of 10!
The British rom-com "I Give it a Year" is not the movie of the year, but it had mucho charming wit and earnest comedy for you to give it a chance. "I Give it a Year" does resemble the monarchic film of British rom-coms- "Four Weddings and a Funeral"; but I would not propose it to be in the same category. "Four Weddings" is in a class in itself. "I Give it a Year" stars Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall as British newlyweds Nat and Josh. The movie chronicles the ups and downs of Josh and Nat's first year of marriage. As in "Four Weddings", the film also includes an eccentric group of friends of the leading protagonists; with one friend being Chloe (Anna Faris) who just happens to be Josh's ex-girlfriend, and another being Danny (Stephen Merchant), the zany "play by no rules" clown of the clan. Nat and Josh are challenged by several circumstances during their first year of matrimony which includes this guy named Guy (Simon Baker), who is a Solvents business tycoon and is working an advertising deal with the ad agency where Nat is employed at; but what this Guy really wants to do is close the romance deal with Nat. Writer- Director Dan Mazer did an amazering I mean amazing job in helming & scribing this picture; especially how he was able to get around the formulaic rom-com maze and give the movie an authentic cool wit to it. My only problem though with Mazer's effort is how he depicted the Guy character falling hard for Nat without knowing anything about her. I adored the performances of the movie. Spall and Byrne were a jpy to watch in their leading roles; give this Spall chat a year, and he just might be a wholesome name in the industry. Faris was fairly good, and Baker was a bit too alike like a similar role he had in "The Devil Wears Prada", but he fit the bill. The Comedy Merchant Acting Marine (is there such a thing?) should sign up the British comedic talents of Stephen Merchant, who was just a riot in his small role. Hey, how can I forget? Even the Minnie Driver rode smoothly into "I Give it a Year" with her role as another friend of the clan, who is quite hilarious with her insult bits of her husband. I do give my blessing that "I Give it a Year" is worth walking down the cinematic aisle with, so please don't separate from watching it. ***** Excellent
The Counselor (2013)
Counseling madness or badness!!
"The Counselor" was misguided in so many different ways that it needed some major counseling in effective filmmaking, very pronto!!! Director Ridley Scott, who by great scott is a legendary film auteur, should have canceled his "counseling" plans in helming this picture; this just might be the worst directorial effort in Scott's career. Ridley, believe it or not, but it's true. This atrocious movie stars Michael Fassbender as a (yea, you guessed it) a counselor lawyer who gets involved with some shady dealings involving luxurious diamonds, a Mexican cartel, and a nasty-looking murdering instrument. It's so ridiculous how everyone called our leading protagonist Counselor and not by his real name; It did not add any mystery to the character just some bad old formulaic tactic. The movie co-stars Javier Bardem as Reiner, a conniving businessman whose electric-follicle look reminds me of Young Einstein's cerebrally-challenged uncle. Cameron Diaz also gets into the counseling scene with her role as Malkina; Reiner's lady-friend who might or might not have some bad teaching up her sleeve to the counselor and many others. Penelope Cruz, Bardem's real life wife, also pops in here as the Counselor's girlfriend Laura. Brad Pitt, yes that Brad Pitt, is in the supporting plan also playing Westray, a west-end urban cowboy who ends up in one of the most outlandish gruesome gore scenes I have seen in a movie, and I mean that in a "pitiful" way; sorry Brad. Yes, these are all well-acclaimed actors who have shown their thespian worth, but not here. However, to give them the benefit of the doubt, they were all entrapped with a profoundly silly screenplay by Cormac McCarthy. Yes, that same McCarthy that wrote the great book "No Country for Old Men". Unfortunately, McCarthy's scribe of "The Counselor" was not meant to entertain any old or young men; and of course women. It has to be the worst screenplay of the year! Yes, I said it! Are you gonna excuse me now of McCarthyism!!! I am still trying to figure out what "The Counselor" was all about, not because it was a cerebral challenge but because it was cinematic bore. So my good counseling "movie tip of the day" is to not seek counseling from Ridley Scott's "The Counselor". ** Needs Improvement
Don't carrie on with this one! Another remake hell!!
Why o why do Hollywood filmmakers get "carrie" away and decide to remake classic horror 70's movies to a new generation that can care less about the 70's movies? And this monstrosity of a mistake has once again been executed in the remake of Brian DePalma's classic telekinetic revenge horror flick "Carrie". Director Kimberly Pierce, most famous for directing the gripping "Boys Don't Cry", sure made me cry in how she remade "Carrie" into a ridiculous imitation about a bulled teen named Carrie who just wants to be liked; but circumstances lead Carrie to end up in a bloody prom affair that causes her to go all telekinetic cra-cra against her tormentors and the entire school population for that matter. Oh and of course, Carrie does not have it too good at home either living with a maniac overreligious psychotic mommy. Well, I don't know why I got "carrie" away there with the plot of "Carrie" which is known to most of you. Chloe Grace Moretz does a decent job playing the title character, but it was not Sissy enough for me;, if you get my Spacek homage there for Sissy's brilliant leading work in the original. The great Julianne Moore goes acting overboard in her clownish work as Carrie's mother Margaret White. The film's screenplay was very dull and cliché-ish and did not cut like a knife and did not feel so right, sorry Bryan Adams. Her name is still "Carrie", but her cinematic power has faded. So run away far from this remake as fast as you telekinetic can! ** Needs Improvement
All Is Lost (2013)
The old Sundance kid goes boating solo, has damage to his boat, and then is on a plight to survive in the solitaire open seas. That pretty much describes the plot of Writer-Director J.C. Chandor's mini-dialogue but gripping flick "All is Lost". The Sundance kid I am referring to is none other than the grand Robert Redford, whose nameless character titled "our man" is the main man (and only man , literally and cinematically) in "All is Lost". Redford, who has been lost himself pretty much in the acting field for some time now, delivers an extraordinary physical performance. His non-verbal gestures and behaviors brilliantly capture the challenging situation of his character's ordeal. Our man vehemently uses his smarts and boating skills in order to survive in the seas with no one in sight; no Coast Guard, Boat, Captain Phillips, Solami Pirates, or even the volleyball Wilson in sight. Maybe "our man" should have communicated with our woman" in "Gravity" and thrown a "lost in water & space" party. OK, enough; before all of you will be lost in my review here. Writer-Director J.C. Chandor does a credible job in channeling in the open seas what "our man" goes through in his orchestration of the picture. There is not much dialogue in "All is Lost" so I can't really comment on the scribe that the man Chandor wrote up. But I think you should man up or woman up as filmgoers, and find yourself with "All is Lost". **** Good
Enough Said (2013)
Can't get enough of "Enough Said"!!
The outstanding romantic comedy "Enough Said" is one of the best movies of 2013!!! Enough Said! My review is over! OK, it is not really over, as you know there will be plenty of puns said or written (pick ur poison) in my movie reviews; and this one is no different. Director Nicole Holofcener, who has mastered the art of independent romantic comedy movies, has developed her supreme film in "Enough Said". The movie stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Eva, a middle-aged divorcée masseuse and mother of a teen female on her way to college. Eva falls for Albert; he himself being middle aged, divorced, and a parent of a teen female on her way to college. During the same time of the Eva and Albert blossoming romance period, Eva befriends an uptight Marianne, who happens to be Albert's ex-wife; let's just say that Marianne does not think at all that Albert is a PHAT Albert. Holofcener again does not do hollow work with her expert direction and enigmatic screenplay of an independent movie, but "Enough Said" is her best. Julia Louis-Dreyfus had the right touch with her captivating starring performance as Eva the masseuse. The late great James Gandolfini was a hit with his low-key but attention-getting performance as Albert. Holofcener favorite Catherine Keener once again delivered with her supporting work here as Marianne. I cannot say enough how much I was enamored with "Enough Said", but I think I said enough for you to rub into this one, now! ***** Excellent
Blue Jasmine (2013)
All that Jasmine sounds great to me!!!
Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" is more than a witty comedic diamond in the rough, it is one of his best films. Yep, that is True Blue! Cate Blanchett sparkles as Jasmine, a former New York wealthy socialite who hits "blue Jasmine" rock bottom when her conniving adulteress husband Hal is imprisoned for his Bernie Madoff-like white collar crimes. Without a dollar to her name, Jasmine reaches out to her working class sister Ginger in San Francisco to stay with while she gets herself back on her feet again. The problem is that Jasmine is dealing with some mental issues, most notably seen in her self-talk behaviors. Love him or hate him in his personal life, but one thing for sure is that Woody Allen can never be charged for lack of filmmaking ingenuity; as he has orchestrated and scribed another great movie embodied with authentic neurosis, anxiety, and personality in its magnetic narrative and character development. Blanchett's stirring starring performance as Jasmine is deserving of all the critical & award praise it has received. Sally Hawkins was no "white Hawk down" herself with her marvelous performance as Ginger. Hickory Hickory Dock, an 80's comedian's acting work was worth a million bucks. Yes, I am referring to Andrew Dice Clay who out of nowhere put up a great supporting show with his work here as Ginger's revenge-seeking ex-hubby Augie. The extremely underrated Bobby Cannavale was spectacular as Ginger's smothering boyfriend Chili; it was a travesty that he did not get more supporting actor recognition love during award season, yea I know I should just take a "chil pill" and deal with it. Other notable supporting performances were soundly delivered by Peter Sarsgaard as a Jasmine love interest, and Alec Baldwin as the pompous Hal. So go blue, and take your blues away with a "Blue Jasmine" screening. **** Excellent
August: Osage County (2013)
In the County of Great Acting!
"August: Osage County" is a dysfunctional family explosion that might go over the county-line on occasion with "over the top" family frenzy, but it's otherwise a worthy flick. The film stars Meryl Streep as Violet Weston, an outspoken Oklahoma mother of three adult females. She is a pill-popping drug addict who has succumbed to mouth cancer and is going through her last round of chemotherapy. She is an angry woman who tends to criticize all of her daughters and their significant others. When Violet's husband Beverly runs off unannounced, Violet's three daughters and company go to her home to support her and help her find Beverly, who might have just ran off to Beverly Hills. However, what turns out is a dysfunctional family verbal and even physical showdown; especially in the film's eventful dinner scene. So yea, here there are plenty of feisty dog days in August in Osage County. The movie is actually based on the award-winning play by Tracy Letts. And the film's director John Wells even Letts let in the fun by having him write the film's screenplay adapted from his critically-acclaimed play. Letts did not let us down with his gripping screenplay, and Wells did pretty well himself in the movie's osagestration, I mean orchestration. However, it was the ensemble acting of "August: Osage County" that was its strongest point. Streep was being her streepish self with her thundering starring performance as Violet Weston. And the rest of the Weston Girls were pretty darn good themselves; especially Julia Roberts as Violet's eldest daughter Barbara, and Julianne Nicholson as Violet's cousin-kissing daughter Ivy. Roberts though has not been this good in a while; it was satisfying to see the pretty woman revitalize her pretty thespian chops again. Other notable standout supporting performances derived from Margo Martindale as Violet's sister Mattie Fae, and Chris Cooper as Mattie Fae's husband Charlie; who presents the most comical dinner table prayer in the history of motion pictures. So even though it's not flawless, I still recommend a viewing trip to "August: Osage County". **** Good