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|233 reviews in total|
The United States of Leland is about a meek teenage boy named Leland P.
Fitzgerald (Ryan Gosling) who has inexplicably committed a shocking
murder. In the wake of the killing, his teacher in prison (Don Cheadle)
tries to understand the senseless crime, while the families of the
victim and the perpetrator struggle to cope with the aftermath..
I just watched The United States of Leland for the second time and it is an outstanding piece of work and it's close to being one of my favorite films of all time. Why it was so poorly received by critics is beyond me because I think it's a good example of great film-making in all accounts. The backdrop of the film is the crime that Leland committed and from then on, the film becomes a character study giving us insight into Leland and also showing the viewer what happened prior to the murder trough flashbacks. But, despite being a character study, the film does so much more then that; it poses very interesting questions about good and evil, about life, about our nature and humanity and so forth.
The film was beautifully shot and the soundtrack couldn't be more suiting. These two things combined with an impeccable direction resulted in a great ambiance. The acting was absolutely fantastic with the exceptionally talented Ryan Gosling delivering an Oscar-worthy performance. The entire supporting cast did a good job but if someone hold its own with Gosling, that was Jena Malone. I was very, very impressed with her.
This is not a happy film, it's sad and melancholic and that will push some people away. Maybe you have to have gone trough depression or extreme sadness to relate to the film, that would explain why some people just can't connect with this story, I don't know. Either way, I think this is a truly amazing film and I hope Matthew Ryan Hoge returns to the business at some point.
After a sudden underwater tremor sets free scores of the prehistoric
man-eating fish, an unlikely group of strangers must band together to
stop themselves from becoming fish food for the area's new
Piranha is obviously an exploitation film and that says a lot about the film's goal and message, or lack of message. But still, an exploitation film can be good if it meets a certain criteria. An interesting and solid story is a good start. Unfortunately, the plot of the film is silly, ridiculous and boring actually. When it comes to the exploitation part, the film delivers, there's plenty of gore and nudity. A scene where a Piranha eats a human penis and then spits it out comes to mind. There's also a lot of shots of the beautiful Riley Steele's body.
Having said that, the backdrop for the film is absolutely awful. It all comes down to a lot of angry piranhas in the sea and a lot of people in town because it's spring break and that's it. You know from the start that some people are gonna be bitten, some will get ripped to pieces, some will die but ultimately, the "heroes" will survive. The story is just not satisfying, at all..
In conclusion, I love Riley Steele's ass as much as the next guy but if that's the best thing Piranha has to offer, wouldn't the viewer be better off watching one of her porn scenes? It takes less time and it will probably be a better experience.
In the Salinas Valley, in and around World War I, Cal Trask feels he
must compete against overwhelming odds with his brother Aron for the
love of their father Adam. Cal is frustrated at every turn, from his
reaction to the war, to how to get ahead in business and in life, to
how to relate to estranged mother. The film is loosely based on the
second half of the novel East of Eden by author John Steinbeck.
The story is obviously a modern take on the Cain and Abel biblical account and I quite enjoyed it. I found the film interesting, well paced and very emotional towards the end. The direction was pretty good as well. I specially enjoyed the way Abra and Cal's relationship was developed and handled. As in most "old" films, some things are a bit hard to relate but the core themes are very much timeless.
Raymond Massey and Julie Harris who played Abra and Adam Trask respectively, were both great but, the film belongs to James Dean. He was exceptional in the role of Cal and stole the show. He had a lot of charisma and good presence. It's worth noting that his role is very similar to the role he played in "Rebel Without a Cause" which leads me to think that he has an "affinity" with that kind of persona, the young angry outcast.
Overall, it's a very nice watch with a stellar performance by the icon, James Dean.
Knight and Day is an action-comedy centered on a fugitive couple
(Cruise and Diaz) on a glamorous and sometimes deadly adventure where
nothing and no one - even themselves - are what they seem. Amid
shifting alliances and unexpected betrayals, they race across the
globe, with their survival ultimately hinging on the battle of truth
I'm not gonna fool anyone, Knight and Day is 100 % pure formula. It has been done countless times and for the most part, it is corny and campy. At the same time, it's silly harmless fun and that's why I was able to enjoy it. Having said that, with any other two leads, this film would have been absolutely terrible. It works, mainly because Cruise is incredibly charismatic and truly, a movie star.
As in most films trying to be everything at the same time, Knight and Day has an identity crisis. The comedic parts are not that funny and the action sequences, and there's quite a few of them, are not that impressive, specially if you consider some Cruise's previous work. In fact, I would say this is probably one of Cruise's worst films and yet, he's the reason why the film is watchable. Cameron Diaz reprises her role as the silly and ingenious blonde which is basically all she ever does. Peter Sarsgaard has a very small role and isn't even worth mentioning.
Overall, Knight and Day is only watchable. It's one of those pop-corn flicks where you have to turn your brain off if you have any intentions of having a good time.
Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) is a pillar of the community in
his small west Texas town, patient and apparently thoughtful. Some
people think he is a little slow and maybe boring, but that he is
nevertheless ordinary and dependable. Nobody knows about what Lou calls
his "sickness": He is a violent sociopath with a taste for rape and
murder. It nearly got him put away when he was younger, but his adopted
brother took the fall for his crimes. But now the sickness that has
been lying dormant for years is about to surface again and the
consequences are brutal and devastating...
The story of The Killer Inside Me is actually pretty damn interesting. The film is delightfully nasty and brutal with one scene where Lou beats up a prostitute clearly standing out. Is it gratuitous? Some will probably think so, I disagree. Sometimes you do have to shock people to get your point across. Would the viewer truly comprehend how vicious Lou's acts were if we were shown a glorified death scene where the someone gets killed but there's little to no blood and the dead guy looks great? No, of course not. It's not the case with every film but in this one, graphic violence is an important device that serves the story.
The acting was pretty great, specially Casey Affleck. His performances are always subtle but at the same time extremely powerful. I was reminded of his great work in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford ". I wouldn't be surprised if he gets nominated for an Oscar. Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and the rest of the cast, all did a good job. The production values are great and the film was beautifully shot.
Why only 6.5 ? Because there's too many inconsistencies in the story, too many things remained unexplained and some scenes, specially towards the end, leave the viewer completely puzzled. Apparently, a lot of things that were in the book were omitted in the film and the result was a very interesting but incoherent story. In conclusion, it's a nice watch but The Killer Inside Me could have been a tremendous film.
Predators follows Royce (Adrien Brody), a mercenary, who wakes up
finding himself falling from the sky into a jungle. Once on the ground,
he meets other people who have arrived there in the same manner, all of
whom have questionable backgrounds, except for a doctor (Topher Grace).
As the film progresses, the group discovers that they are on an alien
planet that acts as a game reserve to which they are being hunted by a
merciless race of aliens known as Predators.
Here it is, yet another addition to the Predator franchise, a series of films that I'm well aware of its existence but had little contact with. Despite that, I decided to give this one a try, after all, a film should stand on its own. If I was afraid of not getting the story, that fear disappeared right away. It only took 5 minutes to see how incredibly flimsy the plot was. Absolutely no effort put into it and the beginning of the film felt extremely rushed with the characters taking the crazy scenario extremely well and not asking any kind of pertinent questions. But who watches a film called Predators because of the story you ask...and you're right. The film's strength is clearly the tense atmosphere and the action sequences.
The problem is, I've seen it all before. The film brings absolutely nothing new to the table. It's a group of humans being hunt by a group of monsters or aliens or whatever you wanna call it and for the first 20 minutes or so you don't get a clear look at the aliens so that there's a real sense of danger. Eventually, we get a glimpse of them, and yes, they're incredibly ugly and disgusting and then it's the same old, same old...countless shots of the predators walking very slowly towards their prey, the humans, with the humans somehow escaping. From time to time one dies but in the end we all know what happens right? There's a few moral questions thrown in the mix to add a little more depth like should one care for others or just ignore his humanity and fight for survival but this is a very brief storyline.
I don't necessarily think that the acting was bad but the characters were paper thin and completely stereotyped. Having said that, Adrien Brody showed once again that he can serve as lead and Alice Braga looked beautiful as always. Overall, it's not an awful film but it is a pretty weak effort and it has been done countless times.
Superbad came out over 3 years ago but I guess it's better to watch
something later then to never watch it. I heard a lot about and it is
clearly THE film that launched Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse,
Jonah Hill, Emma Stone and it kinda revamped the comedic genre and gave
super stardom status to Judd Apatow, who served as producer.
It revolves around two co-dependent high school seniors (Hill and Cera) who set out to score alcohol for a party, believing that girls will then hook up with them and they will be ready for college. But as the night grows more chaotic, overcoming their separation anxiety becomes a greater challenge than getting the girls.
To tell the truth, I was a bit disappointed by Superbad. Maybe disappointed isn't the right word because I wasn't expecting something that great, after all, great comedies are few and in between but since there was so much talk about it and since it was so well received by the critics, I was expecting something at least one notch above most comedies.
Now, I'll admit that Superbad has some truly hilarious moments but these are undermined by the usual raunchy jokes and the very flimsy story lines. When it works, it really works but when it doesn't, it stinks. For instance, the bit with the 2 cops, played by Bill Hader and Seth Rogen was so silly, so over the top, it just wasn't funny at all and worst then that, it went on for way too long. The acting was actually pretty good, and the entire cast did a good job with Jonah Hill really standing out.Now, don't get me wrong, Superbad is a perfectly nice film to watch if you want to have a laugh but it is far from having reinvented the genre.
Solitary Man tells the story of Ben Kalmen (Michael Douglas), a car
magnate who has to watch his personal and professional life hit the
skids because of his business and romantic indiscretion. The story
seems very simple but the subject however, it's quite complex. Solitary
Man is much more then a quirky little comedy or small well written
drama. While it combines elements from both genres, it's a journey of
self-discovery that makes the viewers think...think about life, about
themselves, about aspirations and desires and so forth and I really
I guess this is my favorite kind of film, a very personal story about every day life that focuses on the characters and their struggles and eventually tackles some big questions. So much better then a special effects bonanza without any real value or one of those A-list star studded comedies. Anyway, the script is pretty great and the film was extremely well directed. It has a great pace, very entertaining and never gets boring and more importantly, it's a clever film. One that you may actually think about a little after the credits roll.
Having said that, this film wouldn't been the same without the acting. Imogen Poots and Jenna Fischer were great and then there's Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary-Louise Parker and Jesse Eisenberg who all had smaller roles but made the best out of it. And of course, the always charismatic Michael Douglas. He delivered an amazing performance that really made the film. Absolutely expectational work by the veteran actor. Overall, a great film that probably won't reach wider audiences and yet, this is the stuff good films are made of.
With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero Iron
Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces pressure
from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology
with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, along
with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Don
Cheadle) at his side, must forge new alliances and confront powerful
Iron Man was a breath of fresh air in the super hero genre. While it was still a blockbuster and therefor lacked any true depth, it was fun, entertaining, enjoyable and definitely one notch above anything else we had seen in this category. Iron Man 2, the sequel, doesn't quite follow up. The one thing that remained is the great performance by Robert Downey Jr., he is one of the most charismatic actors today and the role of Tony Stark suits him like a glove. I would go so far as to say he's basically playing himself. Unfortunately, in all the other fronts, the film falls flat. The plot is extremely simplistic, too simple in fact, the new characters, Natalie Rushman, Ivan Vanko and Justin Hammer are paper thin and the action sequences, although enjoyable, just aren't impressive at all.
Regarding the new additions to the cast, I thought both Don Cheadle and Mickey Rourke did an OK job considering what they had to work with. Scarlett Johansson felt a bit underused. Maybe underused isn't the right word, I just though her character had no real purpose, if anything, she was eye candy. Sam Rockwell was pretty good but again, the material just wasn't that great. Overall, Iron Man 2 is not a terrible film but it's pretty inferior to its predecessor and nothing more then your typical summer blockbuster.
Ondine tells the story of an Irish fisherman named Syracuse (Colin
Farrell) who discovers a woman named Ondine (Alicja Bachleda) in his
fishing net, whom he believes to be a selkie or a mermaid.She says her
name is Ondine, which means "she came from the sea". His daughter Annie
(Alison Barry) comes to believe that the woman is a selkie, a magical
seal/woman creature, while Syracuse falls helplessly in love. In the
Celtic myth, a selkie is able to become human by taking off her seal
coat, and can return to seal form by putting it back on. However, like
all fairy tales, enchantment and darkness go hand in hand. Annie hopes
that Ondine has come to live on land for 7 years and that she can use
her selkie wish to cure Annie's kidney failure. Whenever Ondine is
onboard Syracuse's fishing boat, she sings a siren song, and his nets
and lobster pots are full of fish and seafood in tremendous numbers
hard to believe. However, being Irish, Syracuse is mistrustful of good
luck, with it comes bad. Is Ondine really a selkie, will she stay, can
love be trusted? What is Ondine's real secret? And who is the menacing
man lurking around town spying on her? Is he her selkie husband come to
claim her back to the sea?
I have to say that Ondine is a very pleasant little film. Definitely sweet and has a certain charm. The director toys with this idea of Ondine being a mythical sea creature and much of the allure of the film is, well, not a really a mystery but more of a indecisiveness in regards to what's real and what isn't. As a viewer I felt I didn't need to know the answer, and I loved the vagueness of the first half of of the story. Eventually it starts to move at a more steady pace and becomes a bit more serious. The film takes place in some very gloomy locations and yet it looks absolutely beautiful. It was incredibly well shot too. My only complaint would be about the ending which felt a bit rushed and out of place. Both Collin Farrel and Alicja Bachleda did a great job and the little girl who plays Syracuse's daughter, Alisson Barry, was amazing, specially considering how young she is. Ondine's far from being a masterpiece but this little indie is a very nice watch.
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