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The Trust (2016)
A surprisingly well made crime drama!, 17 February 2017

'THE TRUST': Four Stars (Out of Five)

A heist flick, starring Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood! The two play down on their luck police officers, that decide to rob a drug dealer together; by breaking into his secret safe, that they just recently learned about. It was directed by Alex and Benjamin Brewer, and it was scripted by Benjamin and Adam Hirsch. The movie features Sky Ferreira, Ethan Suplee, Steven Williams and the legendary Jerry Lewis in supporting roles. It's received mixed reviews from critics, and it got a limited indie theatrical run at the Box Office (as well as a VOD release). I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to!

Sergeant David Waters (Wood) and Lieutenant Jim Stone (Cage) are friends, that both work for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department together (in the Evidence Management unit). They're both struggling financially, and they're also both tired of their jobs. So when Jim learns that a local drug dealer keeps all of his valuable merchandise in one building, the two decide to rob it together. Stone is completely committed to the idea, and quite obsessive about it, while Waters is reluctant to go along with the plan. David quickly regrets his decision, when things become much more complicated than they expected.

The movie is a surprisingly well made crime drama; it's often intense, and involving, and the characters are pretty well developed. Wood and Cage are also both perfectly cast in their roles; and you get to see another great manic performance from Cage, but this time in a good film (which doesn't happen frequently enough lately). I also really like the style and music of the movie. It's just an all around entertaining heist flick. It's a little dark, and depressing, but it's also a lot of fun.

Does a good job of showing how a veteran cinematographer views the world; and now, so do we., 17 February 2017

'CAMERAPERSON': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

A critically acclaimed documentary, based on the life work of veteran cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. The movie is a collage of samples from all of the different films she's worked on (over several years, in multiple different countries). Johnson also served as the director of the movie, while Doris Baizley and Lisa Freedman are credited as the writers. It has 100% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and it's considered one of the most critically acclaimed movies of 2016. I think it's a tad overrated, but it is a well made (and beautiful looking) film.

The movie cuts together clips from several different films, all shot by Kirsten Johnson. It cuts back and forth, through the different movies (and through many different scenes), and it takes place over several years, and in several different countries. Johnson uses all of the different selected footage, that she's filmed, to tell a broad story about her life as a cinematographer. She even interviews her mother in it.

I think the film does a good job of showing a very wide selection of many different people's lives, all around the world (and in many different walks of life). It actually reminds me (quite a lot) of the YouTube documentary 'LIFE IN A DAY' (I did like that movie a lot more though). This film feels more aimless; but the individual scenes, on their own, are always interesting. It definitely does a good job of showing how a veteran cinematographer (like Johnson) gets to view the world; and now, thanks to her, so do we.

Paterson (2016)
A well made, and quite memorable, movie; in classic Jim Jarmusch style., 17 February 2017

'PATERSON': Four Stars (Out of Five)

The new film from writer/director Jim Jarmusch. It's another critically acclaimed quirky drama (that's received nearly unanimous positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes) about an aspiring poet, that's working as a bus driver in Paterson, New Jersey. The poet is coincidentally also named Paterson, and he's married to another aspiring artist, named Laura. The movie stars Adam Driver and Golshifteh Farahani, as it's two leads. I found the film to be just as quirky as Jarmusch's other work, and it's also just as interesting. Driver is a perfectly quirky lead actor for a Jim Jarmusch movie too, and Farahani is quite lovely in it!

The film takes place over one week in the lives of Paterson (Driver) and Laura (Farahani). Paterson is a bus driver (in Paterson, New Jersey) who also writes poetry, which he keeps to himself. His wife Laura is always encouraging him to do more with his poems, while she works on her own art as well. Paterson's days follow a similar pattern each day; as he listens to the passengers' converse on his bus, as well as the patrons at a local bar he visits, and he also writes poetry in his spare time. This week, Paterson's life takes a sudden turn for the worse though.

What I like most about the film, is when Paterson is just listening to the conversations of people on his bus. You get a brief look at the lives of all kinds of different people. The movie really does feel like just a week in the lives of everyday folk. People with ambitious dreams, that are stuck doing monotonous things every day instead (much like myself). Driver and Farahani also make a beautiful couple in the film (even though she's far too stunning for him). It's a well made, and quite memorable, movie; in classic Jim Jarmusch style.

I'm sure the real Srinivasa Ramanujan deserved a much better film adaptation of their story!, 17 February 2017

'THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY': Three Stars (Out of Five)

A British biopic about a brilliant mathematician from India, named Srinivasa Ramanujan, who made history in mathematical theories, during World War I. The film stars Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Devika Bhise and Toby Jones. It was directed and written by Matthew Brown, and it's based on the book, of the same name, by Robert Kanigel. The movie performed decently in indie theaters, at the Box Office, and it's received mixed reviews from critics. I thought it was OK.

The story begins at the turn of the twentieth century, when Srinivasa Ramanujan (Patel) was extremely poor, and still living in Madras, India. His exceptional mathematical skills became very useful to his employers there, who began using him for multiple accounting jobs. They later encouraged him to go to college. A well known mathematician, at Cambridge University, named G.H. Hardy (Patel), then heard about Srinivasa (and he became very impressed by what he heard), so he invited him to come study under him. Srinivasa took him up on the offer, while he also married his girlfriend (Bhise), and he later became a renowned expert in mathematical theories, thanks to Hardy's guidance.

The movie is, how can I say this nicely, boring. I'm sure there's a very inspiring, and quite interesting, story that could have been told, but the filmmakers failed to do so. It's a shame too, because Patel and Irons are both really good actors. I'm sure they were both hoping they were working with a much better director, and screenwriter. I'm also sure the real Srinivasa Ramanujan, and G.H. Hardy, deserved a much better film adaptation of their story!

I'm not a big fan of stand-up comedy in general, unless it's really good (like Dave Chappelle)., 17 February 2017

'KEVIN HART: WHAT NOW?': Two and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Another stand-up comedy concert film starring Kevin Hart, who also co-wrote the screenplay (with Harry Ratchford and Joey Wells). It was directed by Tim Story and Leslie Small; who have also co- directed Hart's other stand-up comedy movies (Story has also worked with Hart on multiple other films as well). The movie begins with a spy skit, in which Hart plays a secret agent at an intense poker game, which leads into the concert part of the film. It's received mostly positive reviews from critics, and it performed decently at the Box Office. I found it to be mildly amusing.

The film begins with Agent 0054 (Hart), on assignment for MI6, entering a poker game. He meets his partner there, Money Berry (Halle Berry), and they're confronted by a Russian crime boss (David Meunier). After things turn violent, Agent 0054 rushes off to do a stand-up comedy performance; at Lincoln Financial Field, in Philadelphia (which Kevin Hart made history by selling out). The movie then proceeds with Hart's comedy performance.

I'm not a big fan of stand-up comedy in general, unless it's really good (like Dave Chappelle). I think Kevin Hart is a hilarious actor, in most of the movies he does, but (as with most comedians) I don't think his stand-up comedy is nearly as hilarious. His jokes feel too forced to me, and they don't feel very natural (so they're not that funny, in my opinion). If you're a fan of most stand-up comedy though, or Kevin Hart as a stand-up comedian, than I'm sure you'll really like this movie.

I'm really not sure how I felt about the film as a whole!, 17 February 2017

'A BIGGER SPLASH': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

A dark comedy-drama directed by Luca Guadagnino; who also helmed the outstanding 2009 Italian drama 'I AM LOVE'. The movie stars Tilda Swinton (who also starred in 'I AM LOVE'), Ralph Fiennes, Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson. It was written by David Kajganich and Alain Page. The film tells the story of four friends spending vacation together, on a remote Italian island, when things go horribly wrong. It's received mostly positive reviews from critics, and it's been nominated for multiple prestigious awards (and it's even won a few of them). I found it to be somewhat interesting, but it's definitely nothing special.

A popular rock star, named Marianne Lane (Swinton), and her filmmaker boyfriend Paul (Schoenaerts), are spending vacation together on the Italian island of Pantelleria. An old friend of theirs, named Harry (Fiennes), unexpectedly decides to visit them. He brings along his adult daughter, Penelope (Johnson), who he just met. Things become tense between all of them, and then things go drastically wrong as well.

The movie is bizarre, and it does take a really dark turn in the third act. I'm really not sure how I felt about the film as a whole. None of the characters in it are very likable; Swinton's rock star is actually the closest thing to a character you can really root for. The performances are all decent in it though, and the movie is somewhat interesting (at the very least).

The Duel (2016/I)
A western starring Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth; 'THE HUNGER GAMES' costars, and vegan buddies!, 17 February 2017

'THE DUEL': Four Stars (Out of Five)

A western starring Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth; 'THE HUNGER GAMES' costars, and vegan buddies (Harrelson, a vegan of 30-years, convinced Hemsworth to adapt the important philosophy)! It tells the story of a Texas Ranger, in the 1880s, that's sent to a frontier town in order to investigate some local murders there, and missing people. The movie also costars Alice Braga and Emory Cohen. It was directed by actor, turned director, Kieran Darcy-Smith, and it was scripted by Matt Cook; who also co-wrote 2016's 'PATRIOT'S DAY' and 'TRIPLE 9' (also costarring Harrelson). The film has received mostly negative reviews from critics, and it was only released in indie theaters at the Box Office (It also got a video on demand release). I enjoyed it.

Several people have gone missing, and several have turned up dead as well, near the border in the 1880s. A Texas Ranger, named David Kingston (Hemsworth), is sent to an old frontier town to investigate. His wife, Marisol (Braga), accompanies him. Once there, the couple meets a mysterious preacher, named Abraham Brant (Harrelson). Brant, and his ruthless son Isaac (Cohen), seem to be controlling all of the people in the town there (somehow). It's of course up to Kingston to stop them.

The movie is really dark, bizarre, and brutally violent; all good things in a western! Harrelson and Hemsworth are both good in their roles (and I don't always like Hemsworth), and the story is pretty interesting. The film does begin a little slow-paced, but it definitely picks up towards the ending. I definitely enjoyed it.

Jackie (2016/V)
I've missed seeing Natalie Portman like this in recent years!, 17 February 2017

'JACKIE': Four Stars (Out of Five)

The critically acclaimed biopic starring Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, arguably America's most beloved First Lady ever. The film depicts her life, following the assassination of her husband, John F. Kennedy, in 1963. It was directed by Pablo Larrain (a Chilean director, with little former knowledge on the movie's subject) and it was written by Noah Oppenheim (who also scripted the YA fantasy flicks 'ALLEGIANT' and 'THE MAZE RUNNER'). It was co-produced by Darren Aronofsky, who was originally set to direct the film (and he also courted his replacement). The movie costars Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup, Greta Gerwig, John Carroll Lynch and John Hurt (in one of his final film roles, before his death). It's one of the best reviewed movies of 2016, and it's been nominated for three Oscars (including Best Actress, for Natalie Portman). I found it to be extremely slow-paced, but at the same time it's also very involving and effective.

The film begins shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson); which is depicted in flashbacks. Jacqueline 'Jackie' Kennedy (Portman) is being interviewed by a journalist (Crudup) about it. Throughout the movie we see two sides of the First Lady; a more elegant and feminine persona, she presented to the public, as well as her more witty and dominant side, that she only showed people in private. We also see how strong she was, in dealing with such a historical tragedy.

The movie is only about 100 minutes long, but it feels like it's a lot longer. It definitely takes it's time developing it's characters, primarily Jackie Kennedy, but in that time I think we really feel like we get to know her. Portman is absolutely amazing in the title role, and I've missed seeing her like this in recent years. She's still one of the greatest actresses in film today, and I think this movie definitely shows why. The film is worth seeing just for her, but it's also an important, and very valuable, history lesson.

Rings (2017)
Loses it's way pretty quickly., 15 February 2017

'RINGS': Three Stars (Out of Five)

The third installment in the American supernatural horror franchise, following 2002's 'THE RING' and 2005's 'THE RING TWO'; the series is based on the 1998 Japanese horror movie 'RINGU'. This sequel has a college student, and his girlfriend, trying to survive the curse of Samara Morgan; which haunts you for a week, before death, after watching a mysterious video tape. The film was directed by F. Javier Gutierrez, and it was written by David Loucka, Jacob Aaron Estes and Akiva Goldsman. It stars Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki and Vincent D'Onofrio. The movie has been a hit at the Box Office, so far, but (of course) it's received mostly negative reviews from critics, and fans alike. I found it to be pretty disappointing.

A college professor, named Gabriel (Galecki), discovers the curse of Samara Morgan; after buying an old VCR at a garage sale, with a mysterious tape in it. He creates a college experiment out of the curse; where he assigns students to watch the tape, and then he finds them someone else to show it to (which saves their lives). Holt (Roe) is one new student that's unlucky enough to get the assignment. When Holt's girlfriend, Julia (Lutz), doesn't hear from him, she comes looking for him.

The film starts out pretty promising, and it's creepy enough (like the others), but it loses it's way pretty quickly. There's definitely some cool, and somewhat frightening, scenes in it; but they're mostly all in the first half of the movie. This sequel is definitely not as original, or as memorable, as it's predecessors; but it's worst crime is that it's just boring. The first half is mildly amusing, but the second half is definitely a bore!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Screw the critics!, 15 February 2017

'THE SPACE BETWEEN US': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

A sci-fi teen romance, about a boy that's born on Mars who wants to visit Earth, but it might kill him. The film stars Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino. It was directed by Peter Chelsom, who's also helmed a lot of other sentimental tearjerkers like this, and it was written by Allan Loeb, with Richard Barton Lewis and Stewart Schill. The movie has received mostly harshly negative reviews from critics, and it's also bombed at the Box Office so far. I loved it!

The story is set in the near future, when an astronaut who's sent to Mars, named Sarah Elliot (Janet Montgomery), discovers she's pregnant. Sarah decides to have the baby there, but she dies during childbirth. Knowing that it might kill the child, who's named Gardner, to try to bring him home to Earth, the remaining astronauts raise him there on Mars. At 16, Gardner (Butterfield) decides that he really wants to visit his home planet, but the man in charge of the space mission, Nathaniel Shepherd (Oldman), is afraid that he won't survive the visit. Gardner becomes obsessed with the idea though, and he also really wants to meet his father. A teenage girl, that he meets online, named Tulsa (Robertson), helps him.

The movie is very sentimental; but I love sentimental movies, when they're done right (like this one is). It's well written, and acted (you can never go wrong with Gary Oldman). It's also a very sweet, and quite touching, love story; and it's about outcasts finding their way in life. I think it's an extremely beautiful (and very well made) movie, and I don't understand the critical hate against it (once again). Audiences, that have seen it, all rave about it (it has an average viewer rating of A-). The film kind of reminds me of 'COLLATERAL BEAUTY' (which was also written by Loeb), from the end of last year. I loved that movie as well, and the critics hated it. Screw the critics!

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