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Imaginative and Real Science Fiction
A wonderful, imaginative, and finally real sci-fi premise takes us on a journey to the outer-limits of imagination. Very Imaginative yet keeping within the realms of real science fiction as opposed to fantasy, Interstellar may be what Sci-Fi people have been waiting for since 2001 A Space Odyssey. Interstellar, undeniably influenced by 2001, will likely join 2001 within the pantheon of the greatest sci-fi epics ever made.
The film goes on an exciting journey though space to explore other worlds and reaches other dimensions. This premise and story line paired with the big budget extravaganza of wondrous visuals and state of the art effects make for an amazing movie going experience.
Attempting to connect this Sci-Fi with mass appeal as opposed to challenging us with novelty as Kubrick did, make Interstellar fall slightly short of that most legendary sci-fi film - 2001. For example, the wonder and amazement of the unknown of space travel will be fused with thriller/action sequences and characters that suddenly and implausibly become evil bad guys, so that the awe and amazement stemming from the unknown of space/time travel alas merge into the more routine, "entertaining", unrealistic Hollywood thrill rides with its loud music and edge of your seat, fake scenes. Fortunately those sequences are only a small, ignorable part of the grandiose film.
The wonders of space and imagination simply needed to stay within that theme to capture the audience; instead these wonders become diminished by implementing Hollywood drama and emotions expressed by the astronauts chosen to embark on the mission. Feeling a bit miscast, when seeing Ann Hathaway (who plays one of the astronauts) putting on her singing in Les Miserable face, also Matt Damon, and even Mathew McConaughey (despite decent acting from him), led the mesmerizing journey into the unknowns of our universe(successfully accomplished in 2001, where its sterility from its astronauts made the actual outer-space become more of the character), to a mood that is a bit more ordinary and mainstream than some may hope for. I guess I personally wished for a slightly different film, one that didn't need to dwell as much on the human emotional world and chose to be where the setting actually was in outer space. A film explaining a bit more about the scientific phenomenon going on in planet earth that led to the need to seek out habitable planets and more explanations of what is going on in space. By the conclusion, there was a typical Nolanesque, mind bending, brain twisting conclusion challenging the audience to decipher what happened. The truth is the conclusion might be genius and really work brilliantly if it is able to be correctly understood or it might be something meant to be subject to interpretation.
These tarnishes could not hold back the film from reaching and attaining those outer-limits. Since the premise and story were undeniably there and visually we were exposed to the imagination of the wonders and awe of space, time and other dimensions.
Gone Girl (2014)
New Film Genre
Similar to this filmmakers other films such as Fight Club and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the dark anti-societal theme and sort of pseudo-realistic film noir genre are present in this movie. The anti-society theme in Gone Girl is the dark, eerie commentary on marriage.
This along with the director's other films seem to create a new film genre. This new genre contains elements of film-noir/thriller/horror/comedy/fantasy yet it can not really be described as any of those. Gone Girl has a superb exciting flow and it was unpredictable if you did not read the book and don't know the story.
Gone Girl is about a missing wife, the search for her and the mystery of her disappearance. There was nothing typical about this seemingly mundane sounding mystery premise. The whole film, its theme and story reflect and comment on the darkness of marriage. This commentary on marriage is satirically, darkly humorous as well. It asks the question, do we really know what our spouse thinks.
It was a well created film that is unpredictable if you did not read the book or know the story however the film was not without flaws. The pseudo-realism creates improbable events that are difficult to swallow. The unconvincing pseudo-realism works less in Gone Girl than other movies like Girl with Dragon Tattoo and fight club because Gone Girl was more of a mystery than the other films and less of a fantasy. The whole film was mystery so what I expected is more realism. The settings seem to be realistic but the story ends up in this realm that is so far from reality that it is almost a fantasy. I did not believe the practically supersonic abilities to manipulate the circumstances that the wife had.
Another flaw was that there was no connection to the wife and her monstrously diabolical persona. This was a problem since we were granted a window into her past through flashbacks yet no understanding of how she became a truly menacing character.
Overall a unique interesting film that was really well created. It thematically commented on the possibility of the truly dark, eerie side of marriage. It holds interest with the unpredictable story and curiosity created from the odd characters.
A Profound Rebellion
The mundane and commonplace premise of the "typical circumstances" of growing up actually rebels from traditional film formula in two major ways. Thus the mundane premise becomes one of the most profound meditations on film and the meaning of life ever made.
The rebellious nature of this film is subtle. We are accustomed to films that usually utilize a formula. This formula trains us as viewers to expect a climax, a tragedy, a sudden dramatic element. This film frees itself from this formula and opens our ingrained and adapted film mind. Scenes purposefully made to cause our mind to anticipate the typical and necessary dramatic moment, instead, innovatively "back off" from the drama or edge, these scenes prevent immediate drama to happen, and let in a more likely, believable reality to surface. This passing over of the immediate drama, creating a reality (because for much of us reality is dramatic but not film dramatic), gives us something surprisingly more interesting and profound. So this innovative feature of holding off on the drama is both a rebellion and a commentary on traditional film, (the commentary that films don't need the dramatic element to be profound. Immediate drama is not necessary to draw an audience in ). The result is a refreshing and believable slice of reality over 12 years.
It is a slice of real life about a boy growing up. Almost as relevant as the boy is the family saga. The mother, the father and the sister are all part of this showcase of human development and change.
The second great innovation is the well done psychological and physical human development played out on screen in one 3 hour film sitting. Physical development is witnessed over 12 years as we see the characters actually age and grow simultaneously with the actors. We see the children develop into adults and the adults physically alter to middle age.
Even more than the physical, the psychological/cognitive development reflect the appropriate stage that the boy is in. In the beginning, when the boy is very young, things take on a very sensory perspective. Things are unclear and if something confusing for a young boy is introduced it is almost passed over without much thought or much dialogue. The dialogue and thought processes going on at this age are completely appropriate for that stage of life. As the boy develops into different stages, his psychological mind develops to a more intuitive nature, he becomes more intellectually and emotionally curious about the people in his life. He eventually becomes a teenager and in this most interesting stage, he develops his own soul. As a teenager his words and perspectives create a more individualistically philosophical being. There is more dialogue reflecting a more nuanced detailed thought process that appropriately coincide with a more matured stage of boyhood.
It was quite a remarkable feat to witness this progression of the different stages of childhood over a 3 hour period. We were able to see how various influences and people in his life perhaps formed this boy's soul and personality. He isn't someone incredibly shocking or magnificently great or terrible he was just idiosyncratically normal. He was his own unique individual which is the most normal and realistic thing a character can be.
The family developed too and it was mesmerizing to see their changes as well as the boy's throughout the years.
Thus a slice of life tale about a more or less normal boy growing up ultimately became that movie that asks the biggest most interesting questions. It asks the deep philosophical questions, about time, about our place in the world and the meaning of life. Even the most grand questions of all is asked whether to be or not to be on Facebook. Finally in the last moments of this film we are granted an answer to these deep, grandiose questions.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Playful without taking itself too seriously, the Wolf of Wall Street knows exactly where it belongs and it is a finely executed and well made movie. We are brought into a fake looking fantasy world of debauchery bliss. This is not the film to explain the inner workings of wall street or what an IPO is or how exactly the company makes money from exploiting people. DiCaprio says outright speaking to our faces, "you don't care about this technical stuff lets just say I'm making a lot of money and its illegal" - YEEEAAY! And that expresses the point follow me on a roller coaster ride of extraordinary decadent, nasty, fun, the kind that those of us in this business get to have. The movie doesn't show the hard work that is done to make the millions it only explores the fantasy that the millions brings to these young eccentric personalities that make it big fast. It is not satirical, nor is it a down to earth slice of life tale or even a much of commentary it is mostly pure playful entertainment.
Over the Top Caricatures are created as opposed to real people which add to surrealism. DiCaprio as the leader and Jonah Hill as the sidekick are an amusing frat boy/wallstreety combo that opens up new levels of laughably painful debauchery throughout the entire three hours. The plot moves fast but the pace is well managed since time slows and we can witness wonderfully creative, amusing scenes of the raw over-the-top decadence in its full manifestations. These scenes have a pseudo-realistic flavor and therefore are more laughable than anything else.
The invincible arrogance of DiCaprio's character is a lot of fun to follow. He knows he is doing wrong and seems to relish in the evil of it. Women are degraded and co-workers are humiliated in this dog eat dog machismo company that the Wolf creates and the Wolf loves every minute of it. There is only one brief instant when he becomes almost stupefied by his unbelievable invisibility.
This character trait doesn't really glorify wall street since it shows these types to be so perverse and not only corrupt but inherently a bit evil, a bit sick in the head. Scorcese is making fun of them by showcasing them in ridiculous sequences of slow motion while they are under the influence of this weird drug qualudes, that the film goes into. The exaggerated affect also gives a playfully over-the-top tease to these wall street types and that is what makes it different from other movies in this Wall street genre that took themselves more seriously. The fantasy of the pure debauchery bliss might seem glorious to some of us but overall most of us, I think, will root for the Feds getting the Wolf.
This is another extremely enjoyable highly re-watchable movie. Like during a late Sunday afternoon of channel flipping when you stumble on other Scorsese greats, such as Good-fellas or Casino, which ushers you into stopping for an indulgent peak, and all of the sudden finding yourself once again for the 10th time becoming so engrossed that you can't help but to continue watching to the end.
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
The protagonist has his life sucked out of him due to failure from trying to make it in the music scene. And the only redeeming quality is the connection felt to this character since you will likely have the life sucked out of you after viewing.
Its about a man trying to make it in the folk music scene in new York city. Inside Llewyn Davis needed but lacked something smart to envelopment the audience into the folk scene. It needed to present us with whats going on in that scene. If they couldn't do it technically (since all that was done regarding the setting was showing cold, muted colors and bleak dark environs that do not transport you anywhere except to a place of gloominess) they should have at least tried to put in some dialogue about the scene, a bit of a historical perspective, something about folk music itself, anything to get the audience into the 1960s folk scene setting which was what the movie was about. Perhaps the movie wasn't really about the folk music scene but rather a metaphor for the man who fails in his vocation. The film was about portraying a face that is not able to make it and perhaps the difficulty of trying to be a folk singer during that time period. The music was portrayed and listening to it was a delight and the only redeeming quality unfortunately is was barely discussed.
The reason this film really fails is it exposes the worst of the worst film-making techniques and styles that the Coens are capable of. Quirky and boring caricature like characters that are trying to be amusing or maybe funny but you absolutely don't care about. Characters who are arbitrarily literally dropped out of the story which is OK because you don't care about them. There is really no character study of Lllewyn Davis he is sad, a little frustrated without very minimal backdrop to why he does what he does.
The second major film-making problem was that it seemed put together in a very amateurish way since it has a disjointed feel, lacks flow, contains scenes of random nothingness infiltrated with characters of such banality. This was the worst Coen Film since the random characters which are sometimes amusing in their film were carelessly put in, had nothing of interest to say and completely failed to amuse. The random scenes in their films that usually don't fit in can sometimes have this quirky suspense about them but there was no suspense in this movie. The movie seemed lazily put together, the main character was tired and it may ultimately leave the audience tired.
The only pleasantness derived from this is the actually folk music we get to hear. A complete song was played which is the only enjoyment I can foresee an audience deriving from this poorly put together depiction of bland misery. Devoting significant movie time to playing complete songs is also a problem. So the only good thing about this movie even added to the problems since by having a lot of time devoted to playing the complete song; the character development, the story and the substance were all forfeited.
La vie d'Adèle (2013)
Coming of Primordial Essence (Age)
The film devours you into the main actress. Her acting, the interesting methodically developed transformation of her sexual identity, her ignition of passion towards the feminine of her choice, the love affair and the eventualities of how the love affair plays out. Reality created true to life nuanced passionate love story. True lived in character became profoundly interesting as the youthful passion became inflamed. Creation of passion was well done by the actresses and director capturing the subtleties and slowness of the developing love, the pause during the eye contract. Her awakening into a sexuality orientation and leap into her identity took dramatic alteration from who she thought she was and it seemed at the end of the movie her transformation is still somewhat being discovered. Sequels can fully explore her sexual identity whether lesbian or perhaps someone who loves the person despite their sex.
Sexuality was utilized to explain and showcase the passions she felt and contrast them to her other love affairs especially the one with the male. Not everything in film needs to be imagined sometimes stark portrayals can truly take the audience into whats going on. We get to be completely immersed into the passions seeing some of the sexuality between the characters. We can therefore not only understand but feel more the character's spiritual love, her painful anguish, her desirous passions since we were allowed to voyeuristically step into the bedroom and take a peak. The relationship was unpredictable and you did not know what would happen next. The movie could have exploited this sexuality giving more of a thrill yet it remained controlled by holding back and focusing on the relationship and the psychoanalysis of love. This created more interesting characters.
A world that delights in the delectable sensuality of life. Not only regarding sex but food takes on a symbol of pleasure. You see side characters not so much indulging as taking real genuine sensual satisfying pleasure in eating.
The exquisite, philosophical, thought provoking, literary referenced, writing coupled with unbelievably believable acting portrayals made this possibly the best made film this year. Philosophical conversations not related to the thrust of the story but its themes such as the comparison of male vs female pleasure, gave the film another level of substance.
It was very long at 3 hours and you were left with wanting to literally follow the main protagonist and find out what would happen next in her life. A sequel was suggested at end credits and it would be wonderful to see more well made explorations of these subject matters following this amazing actress. Further learning and discovering her primordial essence with her and witnessing how she will indulge in it.
This would have been an extremely bland, poorly written movie if it were not for the unique premise. A premise that gets imaginative and asks the question about where our society is heading. The question posed is just how close are we going to get with technology? Are we going to have a real intimate relationship with it/her? Movie did a good job reflecting that idea as the main character becomes virtually lost within his relationship. He is so possessed by the operating system (as we are arguably becoming possessed by our technology) that it seems as though he is just waking up whenever he looks somewhere else or interacts with a "real" person.
You almost already "know" the movie without having to see it because it really didn't go into a lot of territory. Brutally typical dialogue and tediously typical turn of events such as is portrayed in any run of the mill romantic movies became the essence of this film. The character was that one-toned, perpetually mellow, melancholic soul we've seen before (for example; Bill Murray in Lost in Translation). Long drawn out scenes of wistful sad faces further slows down the pace and holds back the potential of this premise.
The Atmospheric filming style conjures a moody feel of the slowness and calmness of just waking up on a lazy Sunday morning and going outside into the sunny day. This meditative sensation felt by this technique was relaxing to watch and took the film out of the run of the mill territory.
More could have been done with this nicely imagined sci-fi premise however, the character, the writing, the tone, the film itself muttered mediocrity.
American Hustle (2013)
fun plastic world
In this exaggerated, over the top world the human drive is to get one over and out hustle the fellow man. The hustle is the theme of life in this 1970s New York City world. The convoluted plot was fun to follow, seeing where it meanders with tensions intensifying ultimately crescendo-ing into chaotic surprises. The chaos of the film may reflect the chaos the characters are feeling as the "hustle" ignites and explodes into danger.
A boring beginning with not the most thrilling characters ever created evolves into a more fun tricky plot. In order to preserve the mystery of the hustle we must be kept at a distance from some of the characters. We are never quite able to enter some of their heads until the very end, so throughout the movie the characters are vague and lack substance in our eyes. This distancing makes connecting with them difficult. So you ultimately don't really care too much about these characters.
American Hustle glorifies its actors and actresses. The overly exalted Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence are showcased in many scenes strutting their stuff with haughty confidence and moxy in slow motion. These are all good actors and I'd like to see them brought into more of a reality instead of put on pedestals and thrust down our throats. Overall each of the actors had their moments and at other times they were over the top.
American Hustle can be watched for a fun plot that makes you think during the viewing about the motivations of the characters and who is trying to hustle who. And afterwards the thinking continues as you digest and connect the dots to the puzzle that was just witnessed.
The road trip movie is an expression of an existential bleakness of life. Story of an elderly man with perhaps a mild case of dementia goes on a road trip with his son to claim what he thinks is a winning ticket of a million dollars but the ticket is in actuality an advertising come-on . The central part of the story is a stop in a small town in Nebraska where the father grew up. Showcased is the spiritual nowhereness of these people in the town mostly consisting of the man's extended family. They are living nowhere of consequence, they don't really communicate about anything interesting or of relevance and they are likely going nowhere. It seemed perhaps the impetus was this man's break against these themes he lived with his whole life since he is trying to grab onto something and get something (the million dollar winning. This is not to say that the film is not entertaining since infused within it is distinct very dark humor and very interesting characters.
The ordinary/realistic look of the characters surprisingly draws you into them more than familiar faces do. We are presented with fun realistically conceived main characters highlighted by the mother. Her raw essence expressed through her off-color, blunt and uninhibited comments amusingly stole the scenes.
The road trip takes us from Billings Montana to Lincoln Nebraska. The naturalism of the sets and people freshly created an immersion into mid-American blandness. It was refreshing and a bit of a novelty to portray realistic settings of these cities and towns. The bleak environs of the road from Billings to Lincoln, the utter mediocrity of the cities, towns and environment created a visually moody empty beauty as though the feeling of time is slipping away from these middle age or mostly elderly characters. The existential sensation was felt as questions arise concerning whether or not it really matters that time is slipping away. The use of black and white wisely further emphasized the world without color further adding to the essential emptiness that was exposed within the characters.
A Work of Art
This documentary is a bold, encompassing lengthy journey into film history. By delving into movies he deems to be monumental and the particular scenes that make these movies monumental we are granted a very subjective interpretation of film history. It is not simply a history lesson in film. The chronological documentary is the creator's expression of how he views films and is therefore a work of art in and of itself.
Wonderful to enter this man's portal into film since it exposes us to not only movies we never heard of but gives us an expert's view of what makes certain film's and scenes so important. It is innovation that is important and innovation which becomes influential. He sometimes emphasizes world cinema perhaps influencing the great American film makers. He'll choose to show a particular scene from a movie and go into the lighting, the camera strategies, the technology, the atmosphere created, the acting, the writing, the political and sociological situation of the moment when made....everything. He wonderfully makes it long so we can get deep into this. We might not agree on quite the level of importance he imparts on particular films but we can sense he is a passionate expert with a hyper-awareness. This creates a rich tapestry for us to soak in and will enrich our artistic souls and how we will forever see a movie in the future.
By delving so deeply into film history it actually goes into a bit of world, cultural and politically history. It is a minor travelogue as well with some nice scenes of the foreign lands. The maker feels films reflected the time and place in which they were made. Sometimes as essences and shadows of the era and locale and other times rebelling against it. Film is both impacted by culture and politics and film can also even influence and change society.
A lot of films that we love might shockingly only get mentioned for a mere minute. I felt that perhaps the Godfather and Lawrence of Arabia were more influential and deserved more time in this lengthy tapestry of film history. But every other documentary on film has berated us with how great these movies are. We already know it and can see documentaries just on the making and symbolism of these films or these great American filmmakers. The exposure to the rest of the world is one of the great achievements this documentary accomplishes. There are a billion people in India where the movie Shoaly played for 7 years. It had a profound impact on that country of a billion plus and I never heard of it until I saw this documentary. Perhaps Shoaly might be more influential to more people and the world than my favorite movies are. There are still whole episodes dedicated to films made in the United States. There is an episode that went into American movies from the 70s. There is a whole entire episode on Hollywood in the 1920s. Despite being a documentary about world cinema the US still is the largest country represented in the story of film.
The most amazing part is his understanding of the artistic and political expressions emanating from particular scenes. Absorbing his critiques and commentary on film can gave not only a new way to look at film but a new way to look and think about many different art forms. Things that can do this are the greatest things ever created.