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La grande bellezza (2013)
Not that great of a beauty!
Sorry, but I did not find great beauty in the Oscar-winning Foreign Language Italian flick "The Great Beauty". Call me not cultured enough, but I did not find enough intriguing qualities in this movie to hail at as a deserving Oscar-winning foreign language movie; but what do I know, as long as I inject great beauty in my corny movie puns, that is all I need. Anyways, Writer-Director Paolo Sorrentino's movie stars Toni Servillo as Jep Gambardella, a 65-year-old Italian socialite who wrote a classic Italian novel decades ago but never wrote another book again. Gambardella preferred to gamble his lifestyle instead in the world of lavish parties, beautiful women, and daring adventures. Let's just say that Gambardella is no geriatric Cinderella. This premise of him living the aforementioned lifestyle instead of focusing on his writing artistry is beated on by a dead horse so much by Sorrentino, that it made me transcend to a great boredom mode. Now, I must say that the film's cinematography is tops. it is a love letter to Rome. But that is all I really found beauty in "The Great Beauty:, but what a beauty it was. Servillo's performance was fair but not great. So "The Great Beauty" is not a totally ugly movie, but I have done, I mean, seen better. *** Average
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Not faulty at all!
There are not too many faults in the emotional "The Fault in Our Stars". The movie is centered around Hazel and Augustus, two teenagers with cancer who form an exceptional friendship and romance. It is based on John Green's best-selling book which made plenty of green in the literary world. The ascending Shailene Woodley marvels again with another solid performance, here as Hazel; Shailene fortunately has not diverted herself into the poisons of Hollywood demise. Newcomer Anton Elgort is an unfaulty star-in-the-making with his work here as Augustus. And I also thought Willem Dafoe was stellar as novelist Van Houten; but a Dafoe performance is usually outstanding just at default. Josh Boone's direction of the film was authentic as he did not convert "The Fault in Our Stars" into a weepy Lifetime movie by incorporating a myriad of themes in the picture. I loved how love for a novel became a potent point in the movie; yes, I even read into that. Sure, this type of film will bring the handkerchiefs and kleenexes out, but I refuse to call "The Fault in Our Stars" a tearjerker. I rather describe it as a strong movie about the power of love; and maybe I am reaching for the stars, but last I checked, there is no fault in that. ***** Excellent
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Pretty good movie, AAAAA I am dead! Pretty good movie, AAAAA I am dead! Pretty good movie, AAAAA I am dead! ......
Director Doug Liman's "Edge of Tomorrow" is "Groundhog Day" on steroids with some mean looking aliens. The movie stars Tom Cruise as Lt. Colonel Cage, who is sent into battle against mimic aliens who have destroyed much of the world. Cage is not really programmed for battle, probably because he was caged too much in military offices instead of the battlefield. Cage is scared out of wits, but then something miraculous happens; he dies in battle, and then relives the same day repeatedly. Why that happens? Let me not spoil if for you, but let's say that he became a blood brother of the Omega alien mimic fraternity; they have that? The stunning Emily Blunt co-stars as Rita, a fierce warrior who was pivotal in destroying many of these mimic aliens in a past war. Cage groundhogs into Rita's world and the two team to destroy the Omega mimic plan to destroy mankind. The first two acts of "Edge of Tomorrow" kept me on the edge of my seat with its inventiveness in a futuristic action movie. However, the third act of "mimic aliens vs. human soldiers" action unfortunately mimicked many other formulaic battle-oriented action flicks. I did like Cruise and Blunt in their performances; and to be blunt with you it was refreshing to see Cruise as a coward character and not cruising with the same old "machoman saving the world" typecast character he has played many times before, while Blunt cruised with another bravado performance. So let me finish this review before it ends on the edge of tomorrow. But if you got nothing going on tomorrow, it's not a bad idea to live & relive the "Edge of Tomorrow". **** Good
Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)
My viewing contract expired early in this one!
Sorry, but I am going to whip, I mean rip this film apart with my review! Oh you poor servants who have been dominated by a novel to go see the film adaptation of "Fifty Shades of Grey". Director Sam Taylor-Johnson constructs an uneven, unbridged, and unexciting film in "Fifty Shades of Grey". With all due apologies, Taylor-Johnson is the grey goose here. I think she should have spiced it up with an 80's soundtrack consisting of "Back on the Chain Gang", "Whip It", and of course "Sex (I'm A....). As most of you know, this film is about a literary student named Anastasia Steele who meets a young billionaire named Christian Grey. Grey is soft spoken and sly, but he has a fetish for bondage, S&M, whipping, etc. Grey romances Anastasia and tries to persuade her to sign a "dominant-submissive" to-be-my-lover contract. It was about this time that I felt that the filmmakers of this garbage needed was a good spanking from their studio heads; even though that is far from happening since the movie has brought in chains of box office gold. Jamie Dornan plays Grey and Dakota Johnson is Steele; Dornan was dormant with his performance and Johnson did not provide any scene-steeling work in my book. "Fifty Shades of Grey" was as shady as they come; and I mean that literally. * Failure
Inherent Vice (2014)
What the hell happened here, Sir Master Anderson!
My favorite writer-director is Paul Thomas Anderson! He has created such cinematic gems as "Boogie Nights", "Magnolia", and "There Will Be Blood". His films are extremely cerebral, captivating, and powerful. But then came along "Inherent Vice"! One of the most major disappointments I have witnessed created from a genius auteur. "Inherent Vice" is Anderson's latest, and it should be retitled "Incoherent and Not Nice". What a disaster!!!! Where is Dirk Diggler, T.J. Mackey, and Daniel Plainview when you need them! "Inherent Vice" stars Joaquin Phoenix as a drug-fueled hippie Private Investigator named Larry "Doc" Sportello. He gets a surprise visit from sexy ex-girlfriend Shasta who contracts Doc to investigate a scheme by her lover's wife & her lover to frame him; or something like that; who cares? I lost "Inherent Vice" interest quickly with this convoluted & dull narrative. The film is set in 1970 in Gordita Beach, California. It's probably called Gordita Beach because of all the stoners there that have the munchies. Anyways- during Doc's investigation, he gets involved with a crazy cast of characters and a wide array of issues from politics, cults, prostitution, the drug trade and dentistry, much of it surrounding the mysterious "Golden Fang". But most of the time I was saying "What's up Doc?" or more like "What's up PTA?" with this unnecessary complex storytelling. Now, I do have to give Anderson a little credit since his movie was adapted from a Thomas Pynchon novel that seemed impossible to adapt to screen; and it's still impossible. If Anderson can't do it, nobody can. Phoenix is solid as Doc, but his weed-loving P.I. act runs its course. Josh Brolin delivered a worthy performance as the hippie-hater Lt. Detective Christian "Bigfoot" Bjornsen. My favorite performance, which was criminally underutilized in this Vice, was Benecio Del Toro as Doc's lawyer Sauncho Smilax who specializes in marine law. Nevertheless, I utterly despised "Inherent Vice" and it is not worthy of a cinematic viewing investigation. * Failure
"Cake" defrosts quickly!
I'm sorry but the independent drama "Cake" just doesn't cut it for me."Cake"stars Jennifer Aniston as Claire Bennett, a woman who is struggling with chronic pain due to an automobile accident she was involved in. Claire is not exactly the happy-go-lucky poster girl. She is very rude to her supporting maid Silvana, is separated from her loving husband Jason, and gets kicked out of her support group for her blunt verbal jabs. There is no clarity in Claire, and her chronic pains get the worst of her. Without getting too much into the frosting of the film's plot, I must state that the tragedy of her accident unfortunately gets Claire in a deep demise of life. Director Daniel Barnz directs "Cake" without too much gusto; and keeps the major points in a redundant manner. Aniston is sharp as Claire, but I would not consider it an Oscar-nominated worthy performance. Adriana Barraza does have it "made" though with her astounding performance as Silvana. "Cake" does have a few positive tastes but its mostly missing layers of intrigue and captivation. So yea, you can have your "Cake" but not enjoy it too. *** Average
The Imitation Game (2014)
I love this game!!
"The Imitation Game" is not a bio movie based on the life of infamous comedic impersonator Rich Little; even though that would have been a nifty little film. "The Intimation Game" however is a bio flick based on British Mathematician Alan Turing, who with his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain's top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, tried to crack the Enigma Code to obtain German transmission during World War II; not an easy math problem, that's for sure! Unfortunately and unjustifiably, Turing was persecuted for his homosexuality which was illegal in Britain during that time. Director Morten Tyldum's breakthrough direction is one of the finest of the year. Tyldum is no dumb-dumb by putting us right in the middle of the codebreaking challenges & actions, while also masterfully presenting the complex humanistic persona of his protagonist, Alan Turing. Graham Moore also delivers solid write play on his fine screenplay delivery to "The Imitation Game". It is not an enigma that Benedict Cumberbatch's astounding performance as Turing broke the Academy code for a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar nomination. Keira Knightley does not completely imitate the grand performance of Cumberbatch, but the lovely Keira does shine with her supporting performance as Joan Clarke, the fellow mathematician who ends up engaged to Turing for non-conventational marital purposes. The much underrated Matthew Goode does good work once more as Hugh Alexander, who is part of Turing's dream team of codebreakers. So get on your game, and play "The Imitation Game"; no code required, just an admission movie theatre ticket is what's needed. I loved this game!!!***** Excellent
It has many rights!
I vote "Yes" for "Selma" as a quality biographical movie, and that is my cinematic civil right to do so. Now I will try to be civil as much as possible, but I liked this movie better when it was called "Lincoln". I am kidding! Please don't start the protest. All kidding aside, "Selma" is an important piece of filmmaking that chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King's campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Like "Lincoln", "Selma" is the kind of movie that should be shown to every high school student in their American History class. Director Ava DuVernay might just be marching on to more directorial gigs with her accurate orchestration of the picture. Paul Webb's screenplay of "Selma" marched on to the applicable verbal beat of the story it was telling. Oye esto, David Oyelowo was majorly snubbed of a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his triumphant performance as Dr. King. I don't want to get too political but Tom Wilkinson and Tim Roth pitched in with solid supporting performances, respectively as President Lyndon B. Johnson and Governor George Wallace. Now, "Selma" is not a "I have a dream of a perfect movie" type of film, but I still think you should march on to it.
Liked this movie better when it was called "Rescue Dawn", and that was a much better movie!
"Punbroken" is the story of how I got pun writer's block!! Wait, Wait don't leave! Angelina Jolie's "Unbroken" is based on the incredible true story of Olympian track runner Louis Zamperini. Louie Louie won full medal in the 1936 Olympics, and then went full metal by joining the armed forces. During his tour duty in World War II, Louie was involved in a plane crash that left him and two of his fellow patriotas in a life boat for close to two months. Louie was rescued from death on the lifeboat, but the bad news is that it was the enemy Japanese who did it; consequently, Louie was a prisoner of war in two concentration camps. Jolie directed "Unbroken" by mostly concentrating on the concentration camp, and lacked character development of her protagonist. The infamous Coen Brothers wrote the film's screenplay, and surprisingly so it was an "uncoen"-like script that lacked ingenuity. Jack O' Connell did deliver a bravo performance as Zamperini. Also, there was some solid cinematography by the cine steady Roger Deakins. But those pluses were not enough to fully salvage and rescue "Unbroken" from the mediocre cinema concentration camp. *** Average
Now whip it! Into shape, shape it up, looks great! Whip it real good!!! I just had the Devo inside in that intro for my movie review of the fabulous movie "Whiplash". What a gem!! "Whiplash" stars Miles Teller as first year music student Andrew Neiman. Andrew is a student drummer who is more than just a little drummer boy in his pursuit to excel at his beat craft. However, he has to prove his skills to the extremely rigid music school instructor/conductor Terrence Fletcher. Let's just say that Fletcher is trying to make a newman out of Neiman. As Andrew tries to excel in the battery, Fletcher's own authoritarian battery charge is always on full in pushing Andrew to the edge. Damien Chazzelle orchestrates "Whiplash" with a magnetic flow that hits all the right beats in his direction of the picture; and his screenplay also hit all the write verbal notes. Miles Teller delivers yet another stellar performance in his rising career; here as Neiman. J.K. Simmons was terrible as Fletcher! Wait, wait! I was J.K. (just kidding!) Simmons' work as Fletcher might just be the best delivered by any actor or actress this year. Paul Reiser also delivered an impressive supporting performance as Andrew's supporting dad; but I was not as mad about his performance as I was in Simmons' classic masterpiece thespian conduction. So here is my final drum roll of this picture.......... "Whiplash" is one of the best movies of 2014! ***** Excellent