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I do not pretend to speak for the People here but here are a bunch of great movies the Academy should've showed more love....This is a work in progress and forgive me my limited vocabulary. Me no native,brother...
American Sniper (2014)
Uneven,thematically schizophrenic film that none the less is watchable.
I am not quite sure what Eastwood was going for here. To mess with and twist up our expectations and views of brave soldiers or to bring a true American real-life hero to life in a pretty accurate accounting of his tours in Iraq.
See,what we know of Chris Kyle is what he himself said;He liked killing. He wants nothing more then to protect his countrymen and when he's at home with his lovely wife(Sienna Miller,for the second time in 2014 playing the wife of an ill-fated character)he is distant,thinking about all the people he is not able to keep safe.
Cooper plays the role very well,making Chris socially awkward and introvert,clearly very often displaying signs of an anti-social personality,only at home in war.
The screenplay seems to suggest that 99% of all Iraqis want Americans dead,even the friendly ones...they are however referred to as"Savages"by our lead character and nothing in the storyline seems to criticize that even remotely as very small children and women fall prey to the....justified?...bullets fired from our protagonist.
The action scenes are very intense and well-edited,filmed with a sure hand by Eastwoods number one,Tom Stern. American sniper has some really nail-biting sniper-moments(Though the title is a bit misleading,only on parts of his first tour and last is Chris Kyle actually a sniper).
The film really is lacking though when it comes to having fleshed-out characters(Cooper,yes,Miller mostly just gets to be upset and frustrated) or even remotely interesting support. A powerhouse like Whiplash can not only survive but thrive with a two-character setup,this film has problems since the problems the couple face pretty much just goes round in circles and circles,same issues facing the couple at the end of tour 1 as tour 4 and any other character just drifts off in the periphery while the main character here doesn't really develop a whole lot.
It was a powerful enough film to warrant a viewing. Maybe a second one would make it more clear what Eastwood was going for;As a portrait of a sociopath and an unrelenting patriot,this film works. As a tribute to a true American hero,the film can come off as repulsive and very manipulative. I chose to see it as the first of my two options,though I highly doubt that is what Clint was going for.
The hype is pretty much justified. Whiplash is a superbly acted adrenaline-shot.
Being a film that won three Oscars and being ranked nr.36 on IMDb's top 250,this film had a lot to live up to and based on the trailer,I had no huge expectations in any way...but I was curious. And my curiosity was answered,met and extremely satisfied.
This is not a film with many important characters,most of the support,like Paul Reisers odd but concerned dad exist only in the periphery....and that is completely okay,a film does not have to go all Magnolia and have half of Hollywood in it,sometimes all you need to make true sparks fly is an overlooked character actor and a newcomer,eager to prove himself.
Miles Teller,of whom I've never heard,delivers a star-making performance. Truly impressive,showing an extreme range juggling Andrews insecurities,obsession,frustration,inner turmoil and rage. I expect great things from this young man.
I have never held J.K Simmons in extremely high regard. I really dug him in OZ and as Jonah Jameson in the Spider-man series but otherwise,he often didn't really register,having a face that God seemed to have shaped to define the true expression of constant dead-pan sarcasm. Simmons completely sheds his usual on-screen persona here. Sure,his Fletcher is mean,a bully,a tormentor,a sadistic perfectionist....but he is given so much depth and complexity,handled by Simmons without missing a note,not one moment rings false.
This man will sacrifice his own career just to find the next Charlie Parker;What first comes off as cruelty is a test of our young protagonists ambition. I might hate to admit it,as a big fan of Ruffalo's work in Foxcatcher and Norton's in Birdman but this veteran actor truly deserved his golden statue.
This is a film about obsession,narcissism,competition,ambition and music. Both of the main characters have the same goal;For Andrew to achieve absolute greatness. The road to that possible goal is unfortunately for Andrew paved with abuse,torture and self-torture,all instigated by Fletchers harsh but effective coaching.
One of them must take the role as antagonist for both to be able to reach their common goal,which might be easier said then done. This film,especially Andrews bleeding fingers,makes drumming seem more intense and endurance-demanding then Mixed Martial Arts,it sucks you in and refuses to let go.
No,none of the two leads(Maybe Simmons should've been up for a lead Oscar)are especially likable,Fletchers vulgar persona is pretty quickly presented to us,while Andrew in a hilariously awkward scene breaks up with his girlfriend based on elaborate,selfish speculation on how she would react to him having drumming as his number-one-passion. They may not be that likable but they are very human and though not admitting it,they both know they're flawed individuals.
The editing is amazing in this film. The frantic rhythm,the close,effective cuts in a rhythmic,musical tempo,especially during the films drumming-sessions,are hypnotic. Along with the flawless sound-mixing,that makes for three very well deserved Oscars. What a film!What an energy! What a masterpiece! I can not wait to see what the confident newcomer Damien Chazell brings us in the future. If this is not your tempo,then I don't know what is.
It's a Pawn that's played well and serves it's purpose to entertain. Gifted Actors.
A pretty weird mix of actors,isn't it? No doubt there is talent here. I expected an awful Direct-to-DVD(or is it in theaters a week?),I got something a bit differently. You know the genre,you know the players,know the twists will come...but thankfully,Pawn relies more on straight up,unpretentious suspense,realistic,down-to-earth dialog with exceptions for some brilliance and a little silliness(Chiklis attempt at cockney or assassination of it,maybe) and its sudden outbursts of violence with consequences then trying to be a new Memento. It's not innovating or new....it has its share of clichés,some so obvious,we're supposed to be very aware of them and there are a few scenes you feel you've seen before. Still,in the end,it's a tight,impressive lowbudget actionthriller.
It's frustrating with all these "thrillers" where the writers corner themselves,stacking surprises we don't care about on one another until the only logical way out is for them to outsmart themselves and make us giggle in shame. It's tiresome and Pawn,part;Young ex-con at the wrong place at the wrong time,part;Hostagesituation more complicated then it seems,keeps it somewhat simple but never stupid.
It has one or two minor twists and that's just fine.Í appreciate when stories don't completely derail midway in its urge to be clever plus the great bonus of not knowing in which order people here get clipped.
That Whitaker won a Leading actor Oscar for a big supporting role isn't his fault...but his career seemed better off before being the king,right? Now he works with my Swedish,untalented Malin Åkerman and Willis...poor bastard. Mostly a part of this film for a sarcastic or cynical reason,though you can chose to look at it from it's pointless,morbid angle. He's reliable as usual but anyone could've played Thompson(And with all the downloading,DVD-release,ensemble...HOW much did he make?).Pawn starts with an adrenaline rush and remains fast-paced,bloody and overall,a well-acted piece throughout.
Michael Chiklis hopefully gets less work now since his British-love-bloody-geezer psycho-cliché felt more like an American who's seen Lock,Stock 67 times or a cartoon then scary...but then he starts blasting and I at least get that the characters dangerous. If he didn't watch the dailys or read the script,he might have hubris,dyslexia etc,don't care. As long as I don't have to see an acting job like That again.
Was this enjoyable is based on whether I cared or not. And yeah,I sympathized with Tom Cruise's nephew Faris as our desperate hero,who has aged backwards since Never back down. I cared if his girl,played by(so tasty)Nikki Reed made it through the film. You could feel her increasing dread,was way better then I thought,since she never impressed. I wanted to see if crooked Barnes got what he deserved. Cops...let's talk about Ray for just a second.
Liotta is like the A-films Michael Madsen or William Forsythe. Would be (Even)more respected if he didn't work all the time. A gangster-role made him and after that he decided to be the one actor in Hollywood who'd personify THE COP.
From the slightly dirty one with a moral code and a good heart(CopLand,Narc,Phoenix), to corrupt, and sinister(The place beyond the Pines,Son of no one), to corrupt,greedy,misogynistic sleaze-cop with brain..s(Hannibal) to sadistic,womanizing cop(Youth in revolt) to the righteous or bland,pointless,career killing cop(Smokin'Aces,Street Kings 2,La Linea,John Q,Hero wanted) to murderous,deranged and charming(Unlawful Entry) to the mysterious cop(Identity) to the hard-case veteran assigned to babysit the idiot-rookie(Observe 'n Report.)...
Haha,say what you will of the man but to have such a decent career,one even going up(getting billed besides Gosling and Cooper for a small role? Impressive.),he must have done something right while portraying these men of the law of all kinds. Here he taps into the well he did just recently to great effect,in The Iceman;his mobster.
Don't agree. I don't feel he was phoning it in,his calm and polite persona hiding his true nature only on the necessary civilized level where both we and his potential victim see what he's capable of with one look. I think his performance stood out,much thanks to a memorable,chillingly delivered monologue about a certain clock,very smoothly edited,sound and image,his not too subtle metaphor paced along with the hectic events at and outside the diner.
Should've been in it more,as should an unusually sympathetic Lang,very good veteran actor. Marton Csokas has something very slimy about him I appreciate in thrillers and he's effective as twofaced scum.
The one to me unknown actor was crying for the films duration,88 minutes(God,wasn't watching that film like dying 88 times?),every time this semi-cute Sfohr chick popped up,she was in tears. Constantly,believable...and in the end a bit annoying. Common played it alright as a negotiator,subtle and safe.
A slightly mixed bag with mostly great ingredients that I recommend for any rainy night or sunny day,no dull moments,a confident directorial debut and I only guarantee this;It IS a lot better then you think and the trailer suggests. B-movie,fine,a very entertaining,well-acted(mostly) one.
Django Unchained (2012)
Django is off the Chain!! Quentin manages to tread carefully,perfectly on the Sensitive issue/Westerngore line,
....though aware that many,most...no directors have walked here and there's nothing to compare with doesn't make Tarantinos film in any way less then all that it is and that is cinematic gold for those not faint of heart. But first,just this...
First,Quentin has taken a lot of heat for handling the subject and depicting this part of American history in a very insensitive way. But why are those comments even uttered,WHY are they unfortunately something that has to go hand-in-hand with this film?
Spike Lee"himself"refuses to even see it. Good for you,Spike,trashing a film you haven't seen,one regarding a shameful American past you once could've given us a vision off. You base this on the material being important and should be handled with respect....well if that is the case and it is important....where Is Your film about slavery in America,Spikey? Bad loser. You wish you had the stones to make a film you're not gonna see based on extreme prejudice on your behalf?
Quentin is getting somewhat punished cause of the lack of vision,balls and gift for dialog the ones who came before him possessed...since we're not talking films and directors that tried and failed big time,we're talking about no directors even touching this subject. In 2012....cause what,we respect the past best by not retelling it or better yet,artistically reshaping it? That he with this film is ahead of his time,Now,is bizarre and sad.
So the film. Django Unchained takes a little time to get an identity,create its universe,the premise. About an hour actually,which I in 99.4% of all films would see as too long but meanwhile,Django's finding himself by going from Andre 3000 Purple clothing to a bad-ass with sunglasses and all and we get what I think is the funniest scene of the year.
Klan members about to lynch Schultz and Django..but as Don Johnson's Big Daddy says"I can't see shi- out this thing. Hold on,.just fuccin'with mah holes here." when the lynchbags are messed up. A soft-spoken,seemingly harmless,slightly feminine supremacist is the highlight.
When a not too logical/clever plot to save Broomhilda,Djangos bitch,is set in motion,Tarantino enters Candieland and a less blood filled environment but 6 times as tense. Calvin Candie is a plantation-owner,sophisticated and civilized on the outside,inside an ignorant sociopath,volatile,though not Maybe unreasonable.
Tarantino didn't write magical one-liners for DiCaprio but not needed,he handles the material like born to be Candie,more a cold business man then supremacist.
Walz is the good white guy in this tale,a German is the good guy. Polite,manipulative,educated,charming...yes,i get it. He's Landas righteous twin. It works,he is having a lot of fun,I think it's a good performance,I laughed,dug him but Walz inability to portray true anxiety and frustration is a slight problem.
Stephen is played by Jackson and as an old man who has adopted and adapted to his oppressors,owners culture,not a free man and the sight of a free black man makes him lose it...he is better then he's been the last ten years,he rally acts. It's a bold role and he nailed it.
Stephen is one thing in public and a trusted confidante and friend to Calvin behind closed doors...and Stephen notices things white folk don't.
I get that it's whites settling a score with them/ourselves, Candie conversing with Schulz but the structure of the story combined with Tarantino focusing on Django almost improvised,or rather let's him speak...it gets a bit uneven,it derails in a few ways when our title character is silent and not the kind you can't take your eyes off,hard to care all that much for even,with three other great actors on game here.
You don't dislike Django and his revenge on the racist slave-owners,it's magic...Foxx just isn't that interesting.
When two characters,the most interesting,disappears like they were a couple of extras,it's Djangos show. There will be blood,buckets. And now the focus is on the revenge Q probably tried to delay as long as possible,while delivering it brutal. Limbs fly,blood gushes...while we mourn a character.
DU works better when the threat of violence is in the air then when things get there;then it's almost secondary. Clipping two great characters with 30 minutes to go was not the wisest,as in;DU could easily be 25 minutes shorter. Most songs like Rick Ross"I got a name" work and fit like a glove,one,two doesn't...
It's tense,people pretend,act polite and Candie might not believe all his guests are telling him but money and his narcissism risks becoming his losing hand.
PS.Kerry"eyecandy" Washington is a sweetie who got real blood in her face,poor thing. She's in it too,yes.
This is a film that crackles,sparkles and is on fire with its signature Tarantino dialog. Like tennis-players.the actors love doing their part before hitting the ball to their opponent. He sure knows how to get the best out of an actor.
Django's a flick with some ugly,heinous,despicable sights of where "we" were in 1858,some 150 years ago. The use of the N-word among people like this is necessary and disturbing,these creeps don't see the problem with their legit business,they commit no crime,not cruel in their eyes. You don't get tird of it,you understand more and more how sick it all was,how little a black life was worth. Literally.
I sometimes choked on my popcorn during a funny line that came 2 seconds prior...cause sometimes,this genius creates a line of dialog both hysterically funny and unbelievably offensive,creating some embarrassment,as maybe it should...
Would be a 10 if not for some obvious but few flaws... But slaves in chains walking along to bling-bling rap...no,it did Not work. Think sometimes,Q.
I'd say this is the most entertaining,original and bold film of 2012,albeit not a true masterpiece. He should've been Oscarnommed for best director. Go see,now...now!!
It's a real Rich,cinematic experience and I don't use that term often. Check that,never.
Cruise,Ruffalo and Foxx shine in a tense,philosophical thriller. But it redefines suspension of disbelief and the third act prevents true greatness.
7,8,7,7,8...this is yet another time I wish the rating system had more options. But we can't always get what we want.
Like Collateral ending up a film that is more then the sum of its parts,a film that delivers an end-result that lives up to its ongoing promise of a classic and make you feel content and blown away when the credits roll. Collateral in the end becomes slightly schizophren,going from intellectual,tense and intriguing to chase-action,script out the window.
But it's never a bad film and for so long,it's a brilliant,hypnotizing film. Cruise manages to portray his nihilistic,cold assassin,a man who lacks depth cause it seems he wants to(though humanity shines through when he lets his guard down)....with depth. It's hard to explain and even trickier for an actor to pull off. Vincents grey suit and whole persona is on paper DeNiros McCauley in Heat,yet he creates something unreplicable. His best along with Magnolia.
A man with very little soul but who's a doer,a man of action takes Foxx's cabdriver hostage,a man with heart and a soul but a dreamer who lies to himself to get through the day without even knowing it with plans that remain just that. Polar opposites.
Vincent see through Maxx facade but doesn't bully him,sort of respects the working man. It takes a bit longer for Maxx to both get the balls to speak out and see Vincent for what he truly is but he gets there.
Good and evil debate,rationalize and share their very different views on life,there's a verbal and moral battle going on,a fight with words,culminating in both men calling the other out,holding up a mirror of the other mans twisted perception of himself.
Vincent isn't the kind of villain that will pistol-whip you if you say something he doesn't want to hear,no matter how harsh or true. He will defend his point of view and make Max confron his own selfdelusions and hypocrisy. The dialog between the two men is excellent written,Beattie does so much right for so long and the actors deliver. Foxx makes Max likable,we feel for him,how long can he let his fear get other people killed? He has to maintain an artificial cool for his safety at the same time as we see his increasing anger and frustration. Still,Oscarnom? Hmm...
Critics want to call L.A the third lead and though the city is as Vincent and Crash says"sprawly and disconnected,no one knows anyone.",it is a place Mann likes to root his crime sagas in,it's a soulless,cold city and makes it a unlikely but fascinating location for faiths to intertwine as they do here....still the third lead,minor one though and not from start to finish is played by Mark Ruffalo. His det. Ray Fanning is everything Harrelson failed to be in No Country for old men,without him it's a different film. It would get a bit claustrophobic in that cab for 2hrs,so the (Badass)introduction and subplot involving hope for Max is very welcome.
While not his best role,it might be his best performance. Gone is the shy rom-com guy or lovable loser we're used to. With swagger,facial hair,earring,backslick hairdo and mannerisms of a confident man,clothes look pimp,he Becomes Fanning. The eyes are restless,gears in his head grinding,a man of intuition and conscience.
Sure,it helps that his partner and the F.B.I are borderline-retarded but he still comes across as a street-smart,respectable cop and as the bodies pile up,he's the one who sees a pattern. Vincent's a wolf,so is Fanning,he's got the scent and can't ignore it. His obsession for the truth puts him in harms way.
The cop"with the crazy theory on his own" is a cliché-role but always a leading one,here it fits the story. We identify with him since he is the voice of reason...steals the flick,barely.
Jada Pinkett-Smith is an attorney we see briefly(It's almost a cameo) and we know we will see her again. From her chat with Max,we get that she is a workaholic and like the three men,a creature of the night. Four professionals who all are great at what they do and all will collide and paths will cross...and credibility will take a beating.
You see Annie get into Max's cab. Then Vincent gets into his cab. Fanning goes to see his snitch shortly after snitch has been payed a visit. Cop and baddie manages to end up in the same elevator. And that's just the beginning. Fates intertwine,really?
In the end,it is a tale with so many(Just one or two too many) unrealistic coincidences that Manns digital camera that gives it its realistic feeling make that effect slightly backfires.
The tension rises and after a very exciting but somewhat preposterous scene where an important player disappears from the story,unfortunately a lot or most of the scripts depth and ambiguity goes with him. Critics,you,me,we all agree the plot and film was more intriguing when it focused on the dynamic between Cruise and Foxx,with a plot in constant,unpredictable development.
Mann knows action,its not a dull moment but he goes overboard and the superassassin both becomes too super and too incompetent for no good reason except...we're"supposed" to want this. Compared to what came before,I didn't and suggest all fans of suspense to see this once,enjoy it and savor the memory of it.
It has a,lot of great moments(wolfs,man),great acting(Javier Bardem and Irma P.Hall put in good support),awesome editing and good music...it's just that it was headed towards a masterpiece. It's two thirds of that. One third mediocrity:(
Benicio is a classic Savage, Stone finally stones you again as the blood pours...
Are critics sheep? Afraid to praise certain films colleagues don't and miss out on being part of their respective critic associations who hand out awards that predict the Oscars? Does Haywire have 80% at Rotten tomatoes and Savages 53%? Have they become so stiff and mature and numb that Stone feels like a youngster in his prime on Ritalin in comparison? Or does he feel like that regardless? I'll just say yes to all the above.
This is on the whole,regardless of genre,one of Stones finest. It is. The 2 hrs flew by and the film was one big rush,it felt new though we know this material isn't groundbreaking.
Those saying the Mexicans are made out to look like the more respectable Savages though they rape,torture and murder because they ask God for forgiveness afterwords and the Americans are predicted as shallow,have no honor must've been TOO affected by Stones obvious admiration/fascination for communism and the Latino world instead of watching the screen. Misguiding,manipulative and seems to come from those locked into a thinking of Stone he himself isn't. ONE Mexican does the Christ cross after he killed someone. But it is his first and last murder and he is not cut out for the drug trade-The ill-fated kid"is too sensitive."
The three young "leads" have taken turns taking crap for their performances. And though maybe a bald Garrett Hedlund a'la death sentence had been to prefer,Kitsch finally works. He might not have a lot to work with and can't always convince us of his badassery but mostly,he does. Lively gives us one of the silliest lines in cinematic history....yes,the one involving wargasms but as a young blonde California chick who takes pride in and gives herself an identity by having two men(in her mind,one could never hold her down. A defense-mechanism)works fine cause she looks like a spoiled,empty,unsmart,pretty slut with the heart in the right place.
Johnson,who I've only seen in Kick-ass does best,though. I expected his characters arc and journey to be a bit slower,gradually sinking down to a level of brutality this pacifist never thought he would. It wasn't and it mostly,sort of comes down to one scene where he slowly walks towards a tortured man with a burning thingy. Still,it's a powerful moment and Johnson is believable and likable all the way.
His Ben is pragmatic,logical,a Buddhist and naive,Chon violent,cynical and hardened. The best buddies complete each other and get each other when business is good. When things go sour,their different mentalities might get them stuck in the middle.
However,I agree,the opponents are more compelling. Hayeks queenpin is unusually nuanced. A very cruel and heartless woman but half the times,it's a mask she wears in a mans world and the self-loathing and maternal instincts make her very human,her best work...ever. Travolta is a sleazy man of the law who plays for both teams,which means his own and doesn't disappoint.
Bechir gets respect for going from a Oscarnom last year to Alex Reyes,Elenas attorney,both as a classy guy with a menace hidden under cool and when he sheds exactly all vanity in a disturbing and too realistic scene.
But who walks away with the picture in a film filled with a lot of talent? Again? Oh yeah. Benecio Del Torro. Benicio Toro? Ah,come on! If you don't know how to spell this cult-actors name with his resume,you do not know cinema. He has gotten to portray some classic characters,Jackie Boy,Fenster and Dr.Gonzo were all in different ways dangerous and/or demented....but they didn't get to put the hurt on people like this. Here he gets to fully embrace the stereotype of a cartel enforcer and turn it up to 11,clearly enjoying himself as he just creeps under Lados skin. A man who is so depraved,vile,deceptive, unpredictable and psychotic,he is constantly amusing and scary. Intentional and unintentional humor of the very darkest sort comes thanks to Anton Chigurhs cousin. That he's a familyman makes the monster human. A scene involving spit and him licking his fingers is as nasty as it is wonderful.
Wonderful cause Oliver Stone has been let of the leash,is also once again as unhinged as Lado and just doesn't give a shi- if this isn't up your alley. It's everything Tony Scotts Domino wished it was.
The dialog is mostly great(Del Toro vs Travolta in the kitchen,magic.),not every criminal tale with wit and cool lines is wannabe-Tarantino...though it can be lovely,gory,unforgiving pulp. It has a few parts where money is moved around,accounts hacked that slow
the story down. The story is not so much"undeniably messy"as it is somewhat rushed. Taking its time to get things rolling,it could easily have been 20 minutes longer,Lively could've sacrificed herself for film,showed some ass(wanna slut it up,be a slut all the way,please)and we got less of her voice-over. Though several parts are fitting to the narrative,some are just too corny.
The ending didn't screw things up as I thought,you can pick one or you can switch endings,if something on screen might go on in a characters head,the truth might be your decision.
One of the most enjoyable films of 2012 so far and no,I didn't cry or bite my nails,I was just very impressed by a veteran of cinematic brutality of all sorts showing he still can entertain us with bullets while having fun doing it. And I didn't check my watch one time. Awesome nonsense sprinkled with some moral,geopolitical and capitalistic themes. Dan Mindels cinematography and Benicios mustache-twirling should get Oscarnoms...but won't(Though Streep can WIN an Oscar for a film with 53%.Hmmm...). A dark crime saga you should go see. It's not J.F.K...but certainly not another World Trade collapse.
The Grey (2011)
Close to a masterpiece. It's brutal,moving,haunting....and Grillos breakthrough.
A man who felt existence was pointless finds a bravery and strength within,determined and focused taping a knife to one hand,broken bottles to the other,about to face off against a equally focused,intimidating wolf. Another man,earlier claimed how bad he wanted to live,sits down on a log injured, calmly stating that his journey and his life will end here. Smiling,he reflects on his mundane,petty existence consisting of booze and work and realize that it's not all that. Pointing at the beautiful,snowy,landscape,he says-"I feel like that's all for me. How do I beat that. When will it ever get better?"
These two mens actions when it comes to facing their likely end are as different and far away from one another as possible. Yet they are the same. None of them is letting anyone else,not wolves,chance or fate choose their fate. They don't let death decide for them,this is on their terms.
Man...what a punch. Right to my gut. No,it's not Taken 2 with Neeson fistfighting an organization of insane wolfes to get his daughter back...ya dummie. Carnahan tells this tragedy with a beautiful,visual clarity,an unsettling sense of real dread, patience and respect. Respect for death,our fear for it,for camaraderie,for our fate. The cinematographer from Warrior does an amazing job,there's always beauty...even when there's carnage.
That's a big part here;contrasts or contradictions if you will. We are never more alive then when we feel death is close,our hearts pumping. When these men fight for their lives,hunted by The grey,they also,at every second,exist in The grey. You have the precious gift of life,the light within all of us,emphasized by the constant,white,bloodstained snow.
Then you have the ugly,brutal,black beast(Wolfy)that is eternal death. And these men walk every step in the grey,with both feet in both worlds,as nature both becomes one enemy that spawns another. It's philosophical in a very primal,natural way,it won't raise any new questions about death but will deal with the timeless,painful ones in a very honest,dignified way.
The unsentimental,though never detached or distant directing makes us feel like a part of the group in when the men conversate and in the presence of death,the likely topic will be life in all it's forms,all the little and big things we take for for granted;Sex,food,family,kids,every breath...and I found myself laughing when they did,knowing they may never laugh again. Yes,hypothermia would strike somewhat soon. Yes,Ottway should tell them to sharpen sticks. But wolves in a pack,as the tacticians they are,will either stay away...or move in for a slaughter if they feel threatened and outnumber men. One killed man in 100 years? Hehe,no,not correct.It's not a documentary,it's a tale of survival but Carnahan isn't completely off base.
Like the wolves have an alpha who's challenged,so does the humans. Though the screenplay initially forces them against each other in a somewhat contrived manner (What do dead men need money for?),Neesons Ottway and Frank Grillos Diaz give us some of the films greatest moments. They have a lot in common,despite their clash.
Diaz's friend just got chewed up but he's protecting his macho-ego with chestpuffing,swagger and knife cause that's all he has and knows. Until extreme circumstances make us see another side,or the side we saw hidden all along.
Grillo. Impressive what a mustache and a tan can do physically. But internally,the actor from Pride and Glory and Warrior(Both Carnahan projects),who mostly has felt Very soap opera pretty boy to me(49 in June?Wow,decent genes.) pulls off something special,the transformation from a confrontational, dangerous liability to a man who lets go of pretends and posturing and opens up,earns our sympathy(plus makes a spectacular reflex redemption)is the surprise of 2012. Oscarnom? Best support so far.
Dallas Roberts's Henrick is a sensitive,collected guy you just want to see survive. Mulroney is a likable everyday dad. Unfortunately,some of these 7 are too undeveloped. Another contrast,not perfect. With his superstar-status,Liam Neeson stands out,every now and again reminding us a bit too much that we're watching a film. Still,he has officially perfected the wise,bad-ass mentor/killer.
He brings a bold,naked vulnerability to Ottway the bad-ass,making us at times wonder how good his advice is,considering his love for living. Oscarnom? Yeah,he's great.
Suspense of disbelief has never been more approved by me then here. The animals represent death,period. Logic's not the point,just like the seconds after the credits roll are Secondary;the outcome's not what was important. Obviously.
We'll do everything to survive but how will we handle the moment when we realize the good fight isn't gonna be won? Will we go out on our knees or on our feet? Is it about how long we live or how we punch out? The grey's a beautiful,raw,honest film. Let this one slide over ya.
The Three Musketeers (2011)
WHAT? An adaptation that isn't an exact replica of books or films? The horror...
Lighten up. See the name of the director and gladly stay away or have complaints that aren't based on logic.
"What would those wires trigger,an electronic alarm?" Eeh...no,bells probably... "How come Aramis can make a leap from that height without even twisting his ankle?" God damn it,wh...Well,the musketeers are so legendary and mythological,maybe it was time to have fun with and present these guys as something close to superheroes,which the source material in a way view them as,larger-then-life...fitting words for this updated,laid-back version.
"Sophisticated" people,often say;You should read a book now and again instead of just watching simple movies." In this case,I have to reply"Take the time to see a movie and view it as a movie instead of just reading books."
Everything evolves(not always for better of course),that's everything and just cause something's classic doesn't mean that it's gold. Dumas's stories about his musketeers isn't Shakespeare,no metaphor for the afterlife,it's adventure with a splash of thriller plot-wise.
Who wants to see the same film over and over with the only difference being the actors? Not me. Adapt or die...
Most of the story is intact. Milady is still a double-agent,the musketeers still have their virtues and flaws.Dartagnan will still run into a few men during a chase and challenge them all to duels and all will show up at the same location and time and...it's silly. I said it. And that's from the book.
It's not a film that stands still,there's chasing,slicing and goofing and we get crisp cinematography for once by Anderson,good camera-work and everything about the surface is beautiful....I DO feel like a lot of hate just comes based on Andersons resume;If you"know"movies,you shouldn't like this,hence judging and sentencing it from a biased view.
The cast is mostly able and sufficient for this kind of easygoing entertainment. Walz doesn't reek of menace and evil,I hear as complaint...but what kind of Cardinal would that make? As he says"Evil is just a point of view" and lends a sophisticated,calm malice to Richelieu,who if we're honest looked a bit like a daft pedophile in Tim Currys flesh. Stevenson IS Porthos,Evans compensate lack of good material with charisma as Aramis and McFayden is funny as Arthos.
Lehrman is certainly the weak link. Don't know his age but he looks 17 tops and him challenging menacing villains and big heroes...doesn't really work and you almost laugh. An androgyn actor.
Jovovich,the directors wife,looks alright for 48:) but has way too much screen time and way too little range as an actress. Anderson should learn to separate career from personal life,at times it's almost"De Winters adventure".
Bloom in the "controversial" role as the cunning and arrogant Buckingham gives a flamboyant performance to say the least and is enjoyable,though clearly over the top.Things simmer along with not that many things to get excited about or to complain about,a solid but too familiar adventure that doesn't put our protagonists in serious harms way. Enter Mads Mikkelsen and TTT's most spot-on performance.
As Rochefort,at times a thankless role,he again stands out and rises above the material. The one-eyed captan is at his core far from a coward,which we will see but he wants results,quick,sees no point in honor and is indifferent to how an adversary is beaten. A sleazy,cool baddie worthy of walking in Lees and Wincotts footsteps. Every time he strays from the narrative,things get a bit too harmless....and the movie is most fun when it strays actually,high in the sky.
The third act raises The musketeers from a somewhat fun,somewhat hollow 5 to a 7. In the end,I judge Andersons job here,not on his own merits cause then this is a masterpiece but for it's genre. It's a fast-paced ride with airships,300 slow-mo,a finale with a duel on a rooftop to a majestic score that despite weaknesses and changes(NOT the same thing) is well worth the watch.
I don't think Dumas would be spinning in his grave even remotely,I think he'd pop up and say:"This was brave and fresh...slightly dumb but thank you for breathing new life into my work. I liked this."
The reason for one character being welcome in a probable sequel and another one not is slightly obvious and annoying though.
A beautiful surface,hollow content. Gifted cast wasted and Nolan gets stuck between reinvention and desperate pretensions.
Inception makes the average moviegoer feel smart and I would have zero problem with that,unless fans weren't so extremely elitist and condescending. I DO get it...and neither love or hate it. Limited vocabulary but maybe a good read?
DiCaprio has reached such super-stardom that can only be compared with Stallone,Schwarzenegger and Will Smith. Meaning:No matter who stars alongside him,he's the only one who sells the film.Just like in Shutter Island,Inceptions trailer only mentions LEONARDO.DICAPRIO.
If Watanabe,Cotilliard,Murphy and the rest(Oscarwinners and Oscarnominees,come on) co-star,I might want to know. Studios,respect actors...and ON PAPER,the mix of actors intrigues.
Plotwise though,it's all about Mal.Nolan had all the time he wanted to create a caper that was provocative or involved fates of main characters,danger! Morally ambiguous maybe! Yet,planting the seed in a business-mans head that selling his fathers company is his own idea is the result. HOW PG and unpersonal can we get? No room for both a new concept,a bold plot and developed characters...? Nope.
Understand it could've been to get a mail-man to call in sick the next day,heist irrelevant. 80% of Inception evolves around the caper,still it merely becomes window dressing,a distraction from the core,the human heart that occasionally beats,being the relationship between Dom and his bad conscience in the shape of Cotilliards Mal.
All scenes involving her are superb,it's a nuanced performance worthy of an Oscarnomination. Mal is dangerous,sad,disturbed, beautiful and Very dead. One scene especially involving a ledge is great,heartbreaking cinema. That the person who's most alive and complex is deceased..Paradox...but a good hint at the misuse of actors.
Several actors could just've switched names,their characters don't have personalities. What did you do here,Christopher? They describe rules for the dreamworld,dream-extraction,describe what's happening at the moment, that's it.
When Swick casted Watanabe in The last samurai,he knew the screenplay matched the mans potential. Nolan has with Batman begins and Inception twice wasted his talent...Murphy? Think I rather see him type-casted as sophisticated sociopaths alá Red Eye then see him as a blank page.
Inception's the star and while a detailed construction, intentionally confusing and complex,you DO have to pay attention,complex does not equal intelligent. As you take the ride,things move fast and you're not allowed to break and examine. It's only when it's over you realize you were standing still all along.
You are cleverly manipulated into believing the story makes you think(Cause you understand what you saw.Not the same..)or that your mind discovers philosophical metaphors. That you are witnessing something deep is shoved down your throat but depth is mostly absent.
Sure,the film deserves the Oscars. Things sound great,look great. Buildings become bridges. An orgasm for the eyes. Pfisters camera-work here is great,very colorful,crisp,clean. Imaginative art direction. I dig Zimmers less-is-more score. In general the whole film's eye candy,perfect surface. The inside...?
1.Alright,WAY too much shooting and "violence" going on here, considering everyone's sound asleep on a plane and thoughts are murdered. Would've been more intriguing with psychological tension instead of train-crashes and explosions but lack of a REAL physical threat only manages to turn suspense into a dream as well.
Sleeping boy vs. thought in zero gravity is so pointless,the impressive CGI just confirms Nolans smug self-awareness of his competent,VISUAL execution and just cements the surface statement.
2. Limbo. Wouldn't a dream-extractors worst nightmare be LIMBO,wouldn't it come up in a conversation between professionals at some point probably? No...not even mentioned until drama occurs.
3.For the 5th time,a womans accidental death consumes a wealthy,white man between 30 and 35 with guilt that will define him and her role is again pivotal. It's getting old and predictable,I hope the issues are worked out by now.
4.Last scene. It defines and sums up Inceptions feeling of surface reaching for depth and jaw breaking response,artistic pretensions,strained complexity for the sake of complexity rather then genuinely clever.
Nolan in desperation wants to wrap it up so it leaves us scratching our heads... I was banging my head against the seat in front of me when the end credits rolled.
He leaves you with two options,no scenarios or reasons that make or should make you come up with an own conclusion. Far from a thinking mans thriller. One of the two is a joke used when referring to funny,lousy twists in B-thrillers. So...
No why or how,just IF...IF films were people,Nolans own Memento,The usual suspects or Fight Club would blush,look at 8.8 and put a pistol in their mouth when the words"Smart,thought-provoking thriller" puts Inception next door to them.
The ending insults us,a cop out. Definition of a writer not knowing neither how to quit while ahead or how a journey is gonna reach a classic destination worthy of the plots seemingly intricate layers and ambitions. Sooo...he passes the ball to you and washes his hands with 15 seconds to go,smart lad.
A picture this celebrated for being smart should hold up under a magnifying glass. It burns up without you even turning it towards the sun,man. This is an experiment and Nolans monster looks good,but at times,it comes close to the IQ of Dr.Frankensteins creation.
DiCaprio gives a solid and mature performance,Hardy makes the most of what little the script offers and gives Eames mannerisms,charisma and a sense of humor. Cotilliard is amazing like stated.
The rest could've been portrayed by Gary Busey,Eric Roberts and Lindsay Lohan...
Nolans 1st failure is a mix of beauty,superficial intelligence and posturing. Caught between a flawed,pretty entertaining film and a bad one. Mediocre becomes bad when it comes to this director....so shallow.
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
A flawed,inconsistent but entertaining thriller with a good ensemble...and the wrong Lincoln Lawyer.
Meet Michael Haller. A smoothtalking,grinning,charming lawyer who will defend exactly anyone,he knows most of his clients are guilty,as long as the prize is right.
Did I say meet Michael Haller....? My bad.I,of course meant meet Matthew McConaughey.Now,I haven't read any of the Haller books and I don't know if he's supposed to be in great physical shape,have a thick Texas accent and the the standard McConaughey haircut...but I kinda doubt it.
Come on directors,if he refuses to try to transform into the character...make him.Cut his hair,force him to get get a accent coach,something...I feel as he is miscast and Josh Brolin,Eric Bana or Mark Ruffalo would've been to prefer.
Anyhow,once you established and can accept that McConaughey really isn't a great actor but this time around actually seems to try(And by the end of the film,you realize that here and there,he was actually pretty good as hims...as Michael Haller.),you might find yourself pretty entertained by this L.A. light Noir thriller.
Ryan Phillippe,as the rich snob Louis Roulet,Hallers client and accused of attempted murder to which he claims his innocence is also usually pretty wooden but here,he and McConaughey have a good chemistry and Phillippe is surprisingly restrained and believable.
The rest of the cast includes a small but good and a bit unusual(Not so nerdy) turn from William H.Macy as a detective and close friend to Haller,Marisa Tomei delivers as Hallers ex-wife and is still hot,still has a great screen presence.John Leguizamo is reliable as always and Bryan Cranston(Breaking Bad)is a cop giving Haller a hard time,poorly written role but solid performance.Frances Fisher(The Kingdom) portrays mother Roulet very well,oozing of upper-class stiffness and coldness but none the less a caring and worried mother.Josh Lucas on the other hand seems extremely uninterested and bored as the prosecutor,appearing to read his lines with the help of a small earpiece.It's the only bad performance of the movie...
While going through Roulets case,Haller finds a connection to one of his previous cases and realizes that he might've helped put an innocent man in jail,a young latino named Jesus Martinez played by Michael Pena.He only has two scenes but delivers a strong and very moving performance...
Here,The Lincoln Lawyer fails a bit and gets a bit stressed.Hallers fall from grace when realizing what he MIGHT'VE done...he goes from smug,carefree and cynical to a very sweaty man who questions his values,his moral,his whole life and career while chugging down whiskey straight from the bottle...In about 4 seconds....but it's quickly followed by new developments in the story,new people to suspect,a tragic event that is sort of a minor semi-twist,so I can overlook that part.
There aren't many dull moments in The Lincoln Lawyer,the pace is quick,the score is subtle and effective,the editing solid,you will get your minor share of both predictable and unpredictable twists and the screenplay isn't extremely original but at least feels pretty authentic and only has One plot hole according to me and for a Courtroom thriller year 2011,that's pretty impressive.And as I said,overall it's a good acting job by this ensemble.
The lawyer is at times exactly like this review...a bit inconsistent,meaning the director gives us some great scenes that are very dark,atmospheric,violent and tense in true noir style,only to loose a lot of emotional and suspenseful impact when his direction in a few key scenes feels pretty uninterested,too PG-13 and lifeless,almost TV-movie of the week-like.Especially in the third act when moral preaching,standard legal system criticism and cleverly constructed plotdevelopment end up replacing a part of the suspense.
If 3 outta 5 means good,then 6 outta 10 is the verdict overall.It passes for a good thriller that you will have forgotten about a few hours after you've seen it.
A Brilliant Cast And A Bold Screenwriter.Thank God There's No Gods!!
Oh,how terrible this movie could have turned out,had it stayed faithful to The Illiad.It' s a timeless classic,I like it but it's a story that relies and focus so much on the Gods that the humans in the story pretty much don't control their own destinies.A faithful adaptation would've made it look like...you know it would be beyond silly to watch.Luckily,talented writer Benioff(25th Hour and Brothers)had the balls to create a blasphemy....to many of you,not me.
However,pay attention to details.Like the words seen directly after the Warner Bros.Logo....INSPIRED by The Illiad.Not based on.Inspired by...
The gods are honored and spoken of,most people fear and praise them,one man has clearly been raised to believe and honor the gods but who's experiences of life and war has made him skeptical to say the least(Hector) and one man who believes they exist but who,you know...basically urinates on them(Achilles)...so the gods are completely absent, which makes Troy a story about humans, power, love, greed.loyalty and revenge.A "this is what the Trojan war Might've looked like.",approach...bold,indeed.
Now I must admit,Petersen is no Scorsese in my book.Poseidon,Outbreak and The perfect Storm confirms that.But he did a great job here.Troy is epic in the best sense of the word!Not just long as the word basically means but it's larger then life,beautiful,realistic violence and just impressive from art direction to costume design(Its only Oscar nomination)to camera-work.
The two armies are MASSIVE and the CGI here is very effective and simple,turning 200 men into about 20 000.Massive and so is the battles,we have 2 extremely realistic and intense duels between main characters,the editing's really good,the Cinematography:beautiful ,And man,the cast...mind-blowing.
Eric Bana as Hector:No Oscarnomination?Insane!!Bana is brilliant as the prince who wants peace,knows his side is wrong,but fights for his beloved country. Fearless,emotional,respectable,tragic;Bana gives Hector a range of emotions.He's the show-stealer...Peter O'Tooole as Priam,the naive but humble King Of Troy who puts all his faith in the sun-God Apollo:His best performance in a very long time,delivering the sometimes clunky dialog in a way that makes it sound poetic.
Brendan Gleeson as Menelaus:Too little screen-time,but Gleeson makes him very memorable.You sympathize with this humiliated and furious king,and we applaud when he gets a little taste of revenge.Had Gleeson been cast today,now that he has become somewhat of a leading man against all odds(Fat.Ugly.Ginger.Irish.Old....but so beyond talented,great actor and Hollywood has finally realized that),Menelaus would no doubt have been an even more fascinating character.
Sean Bean as Odysseus:Sly, intelligent, charismatic, diplomatic...Bean portrays the king of Ithaka with style and ease.Saffron Burrows as Andromache,Hectors wife:So beautiful,natural and passionate.Bloom makes us despise the cowardly Paris,which means he did a good job.Diane Kruger as Helen is not that hot or extremely talented but Brian Cox do alright as Agamemnon,chewing the scenery in a sometimes very enjoyable and a few times over-the-top way.
Pitt however is the Achilles heel...incredibly fierce and intense in the action-scenes but he handles the dialog like he's on General Hospital. He doesn't quite get us to care about Achilles but bonus-points to the screenwriter for giving us a Good guy or Bad guy-dilemma...it's up to you to decide who to root for.Paris or Menelaus.Hector or Achilles.Greece or Troy.Except for Agamemnon,there's no black or white,no evil against good.Both sides do wrong for very different reasons,so does the characters.WHAT other epic offers you this intriguing dilemma?Everybody thinks they're right in a war.Magic.Extrastars for that alone.
On the downside,Troy gets a bit rushed in the end when it's time to sum things up and the fate of certain characters become something it's hard to really care about cause of exactly that quick pace.The score is not really fitting for big parts of the film,a bit too cheerful,outdated and doesn't always fit the mood.However,that is forgiven when Hector goes toe to toe with Achilles..Less is more has never been more true when it comes to movie-scores.
Anyhow.Just see this movie! For its,intensity,amazing scenery,great plot(THANK YOU,HOMER.I MEAN IT),uncompromising brutality and the acting of Bana,Gleeson,O'Toole and Bean especially.It's not a masterpiece,but it comes pretty close.
Bad Parents Make For A Bad World....
Swedish director Jonas Åkerlund debuted some three-four years ago with the movie Spun.It had a great cast(Mickey Rourke,John Leguizamo,Peter Stormare,Brittany Murphy and more),good energy and editing,but it was just posturing.It was completely hollow and lacked any form of real human emotions. The second time around,Åkerlund seems to understand that less is more and with the help of only one big star,the absence of flashy cinematography and a script that might be a bit predictable,but in the end is very unsettling and disturbing,he has created a horror thriller that(though in the serial killer genre its pretty impossible to avoid All cliché's.)chocks,chills and very much stands on its own two feet.The Horsemen is no masterpiece,though.Its just 90 minutes intense,brutal and honest entertaining.
The story evolves around detective Aidan Breslin(For once Dennis Quaid is not on auto-pilot and delivers a solid performance.He also looks 12 years younger than in Vantage Point.Can someone say Plastic Surgery...?),who ever since his wife's death has been consumed by his job and doesn't spend much quality time with his two sons,Alex and Sean.(ALL mentioned happens in the first 25 minutes,really not spoiling so much.)One day he gets called to a crime scene where he sees the words "Come And See" written in white paint on four trees and in the middle there's a plate with human teeth.Teeth thats been pulled out while the victim was still alive and conscious.
Soon enough,Breslin and his partner Stingray(Clifton Collins Jr. from Traffic looking bored out of his mind.And what's with that seventies porn mustache on his lip?You kidding me?)arrive to the scene of what seems to been an unusual sadistic and organized ritual murder.The victim was a mother of two biological children and one adopted daughter named Kristen(cute 30-year old Ziyi Zhang from "Crouching tiger..."who looks 18 tops.And it's disturbing that a girl adopted by American parents talks like Kim Jong-Il from Team America.Herro,Arec Bardwin...).During a walk with Breslin,Kristen reveals a horrible secret that is presented in such a way,that it really gets the hearts pumping,both the audiences and Breslins.Soon,by cheer coincidence,he finds out that the brutal murder just was the first of many.The unidentified suspects have studied the Bible a little too hard and see themselves as The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse;War,Pestilence,Famin and Death.So it looks like it's one down and three to go.But whom?And from the viewers point of view more intriguing;Why....? When we learn that Kristens father(Peter Stormare,he's unfortunately just in two scenes)have molested her for years,things get really interesting....
In many ways The Horsemen is a standard(Bloodier,better and with a darker tone,yes,but still kinda)serial killer thriller.And please... don't ask yourself how a guy can put meat hooks in his arms and back and string himself up 20 feet high in the air...I don't know man,it's a movie! But its when the movie is over and you take a breather and you think about what you just saw....That's when you realize this film wasn't so much about the physical torment and pain we humans cause each other(in this movie it's a lot!),as much as it tells us what can happen when we get mentally damaged.When we get abandoned.When we get manipulated,get misunderstood,get lost.And no one cares or takes time to see the desperate and obvious cry for help and attention.That's how i interpreted it,I could be wrong(that's a joke,I'm never wrong).
In The end,The Horsemen isn't that complicated.It makes it's point very clear and very effective,much thanks to Åkerlunds uncomplicated and unsettling storytelling.Collins Jr.'s acting however,for some reason brings The Bold And The Beautiful to mind.but the rest of the cast does a really good job(Young"thumb-sucker"Lou Taylor Pucci is going places...)so you almost(only almost)forget his dead,soulless eyes and blank expression. So yeah,I recommend this one strongly.That is if you like...no, I'm not gonna compare it to 7even or anything.Like i said,it stands on it's own two feet just fine. I give it 7.7/10