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2011 Films, Ranked = http://www.imdb.com/list/m7JGjaiNOgU 2012 Films, Ranked = http://www.imdb.com/list/huF8TGPaAFQ 2013 Films, Ranked = http://www.imdb.com/list/DRU4W-0uneM
2011 Films, Ranked = http://www.imdb.com/list/m7JGjaiNOgU 2012 Films, Ranked = http://www.imdb.com/list/huF8TGPaAFQ 2014 Films, Ranked = http://www.imdb.com/list/p5gSdyBFHgI/
PS: If it was released in theaters in the US in 2013 then to me it was a 2013 film. Doesn't really matter when it was "made."
2011 Films, Ranked = http://www.imdb.com/list/m7JGjaiNOgU 2013 Films, Ranked = http://www.imdb.com/list/DRU4W-0uneM
The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
A fulfilling, memorable, and complete film. (short review)
What a fulfilling, complete film. It's pretty much Drive meets Killing Them Softly with family themes thrown in. But it's better than either of those films. It's never dull or boring even with a 140 min run time because it keeps changing things up and has three very distinct acts. In fact, I feel that it was too short for its high ambitions. I would not have been against it being three hours long.
The direction is superb and the one shot takes that are frequently used are breathtaking. Acting was great with Gosling stealing the show. It's not perfect, but the flaws that some people mention are rather nit-picky. Not going to forget this admirable story and its hard-hitting themes anytime soon.
Evil Dead (2013)
A Love Letter to Evil Dead Fans
The best horror remake since The Ring. I wouldn't call it a remake though. It's more of a re-imagining of a classic horror story. It takes the perfect amount of goodness from the horror classic to make it nostalgic without the "been there, done that" feeling and adds many new elements to it that make it its' own.
While this may not hit cult classic status like EDII did, this is still an amazing horror film. The effects are admirable. You can tell they didn't use computer generated effects by the quality. I'm not a gore fan in horror films because they usually substitute the story for the gore, but this wasn't the case here. While I didn't laugh as much as I did with the original Evil Dead films, this was still one of the funnest theater experiences I've had in a while.
You already know if this film is up your alley or not by the trailers, so critics are irrelevant in this case. A lot of love was put into this re-imagining by Raimi and the promising director Alvarez. The female lead was also wonderful and, as far as lead females in horror go, could potentially become iconic. She absolutely steals the show with some very memorable scenes and a face made to show fear. By the end of the film, with the perfect conclusion and the sound blasting into my ears, I couldn't help but think I was watching something special.
Refn chooses style over substance when the style isn't nearly as good as the substance.
If I were to describe my thoughts on Drive in one sentence it would be that... it's probably the best film I have ever been so disappointed with. Yes, that pretty much sums it up. I hadn't been this excited to see a film in a long time. Needless to say, I expected a lot out of Drive. However I left the theater disappointed.
The first half of the film is simply beautiful. You sort of envision what's to come. The characters are interesting, the scenes are tense, and the story builds along smoothly.
The acting is wonderful. Despite what many say, I thought Gosling had a certain presence and mystery to him that a different actor might not have had. He played his role to near perfection and made it easier to imagine being put into his shoes. I enjoyed the subtlety of his performance when he's with his neighbor and her son; the way his face lights up when it's never shown but rather more "felt" on-screen. Carrie Mulligan also did a wonderful job. I would say that the acting was spot on throughout. Even the little boy had the acting chops, and Bryan Cranston played his part as good as you'd expect (although a bit weird seeing him in a different role than Walter White from Breaking Bad).
The story is well-told. The story has a lot of things going for it. You care about the characters and are interested in where it will head. Unfortunately, it ends on a very anti-climactic ending that takes a lot of the atmosphere away from the film, and it felt a bit rushed.
I also thought the direction was hit-or-miss. Not being a fan of Refn (the director), I was surprisingly loving the direction he was taking the film by the mid-way point. After that, it seemed clear that he had run out of ideas. He over-uses the same shots and it gets tiring. The music, although in the first half of the film was extraordinary, in the second half it is borderline cheesy. It took me right out of the atmosphere, which is disappointing. Refn in my mind has always been the most pretentious filmmaker today, and sadly I still feel the same way after viewing Drive. He seems to love being different and doesn't care if it hurts or enhances the film, which in the case of Drive, his decisions do a little of both.
To give an example, I thought the Refn's direction was sort of like how a child thinks. If a child does something funny, and you laugh, they will continue to do the same funny thing over and over, expecting you to keep laughing. You'll laugh, but only to make them happy. This is the same feeling I got from the direction. Refn throws something cool at you, then throws it again and again and again, while at the same time you're trying to focus on the story. It just doesn't work and for a relatively unknown director it's inexcusable, especially when you're engaged and immersed in the story.
I still enjoyed Drive. Although leaving the theater I was disappointed by the missed potential, it was still a ride worth taking. Although not the best film of the year, it will still be one of highlights of 2011. Which is sad, because the outstanding first half made it seem clear that it was going to be one of the best films in the last few years.
I would also like to warn the viewers about the trailer. I'm sure most of us have seen trailers for comedies that tell all the jokes, and same holds true with the trailer for Drive. It gives away many of the best scenes in the film, including my favorite scene. It is best to stay away from the trailer.
That sort of sums up my experience with Drive, a lot of potential but doesn't deliver the whole based on the sum of its parts. Refn chooses style over substance when the style isn't nearly as good as the substance.
The Perfect Host (2010)
The Host that Took a Giant Dump on his Viewers
I was excited to give this one a watch after seeing the first trailer. It seemed unique, and David Hyde Pierce was back in a starring role. While watching it, I began to notice many annoyances. This isn't much a review as it is a list of reasons why "The Perfect Host" wasn't so perfect:
1. David Hyde Pierce's performance was not ONCE funny, scary, or unique. This just wasn't his role. You may think it's cool because on Fraiser he played a sort of weakling, tidy, well-mannered sort of person, but my god he was just awful. It feels like he attempts to pull a Christian Bale in "American Psycho" but fails miserably.
2. The direction. My god.. AWFUL. They keep banging us over the head on what's real and what isn't. They could have done this to introduce it for the first 10 minutes, but no, we needed it for the entire film. It gets tiring and old, and shows how gimmicky this film is. It's trying to be many things and it fails in just about every one of them. I don't want to actually go into detail with this, because I suppose it can be a spoiler for some. (Not that you'll care)
3. Rest assured, it is one of those films where you'll be screaming at the characters on how unbelievably dumb they are. I know you hoped it wouldn't be, but come on, it's a modern horror/thriller flick. The script manages to do a great job of ruining the whole premise by the end of this film, taking away any belief viewers had in the story. There is a huge "really? -_-" moment towards the end that I'm surprised the filmmakers even kept. It's difficult to understand some decisions, and this particular one certainly shows that A) they're all new filmmakers with little experience or B) they don't really give a crap.
4. Am I supposed to be scared? I could literally beat the living crap out of David Hyde Pierce with both hands tied behind my back. He's weird, I suppose, but there's a difference between weird and psychotic. It doesn't help the fact that he seems like a normal person in his day life, which.. is sort of like putting on an act for the screen.
So what's the point? I wouldn't even call it entertaining. It's not scary. I wasn't on the edge of my seat. I didn't laugh once. I didn't care about any of the characters. I was bored. For what could have been a unique comedy/horror mash-up, turns to be a sad disappointment because the script, the actors, and the direction. Yes, pretty much everything.
An Emotionally Disturbing Reality of Internet Obsession
Trust is an important film. This isn't fantasy, this is reality. For whatever message Trust has, it's also about the emotion, pain, and internet obsession.
If Trust was to be used towards educating, it isn't geared towards the victims, but rather the people around the victim. The victims won't be watching this film (for the subject matter), and it was a smart move to portray the daily lives of teenagers realistically while still showing the pain that occurs when situations like this happen. It's something special when you can believe and feel what is happening on screen and the creators of Trust did a terrific job keeping it true. There are other subjects involved, such as how internet communication is "breaking" the formalities of communication, how easily predators can manipulate people by knowing their strengths and weaknesses, and how you may not actually know your loved ones as much as you think you do. There are many subject matters thrown into Trust, and they all play out realistically to the point where the viewer will most likely relate to them.
The performances were outstanding and, even if this is a 2010 film, should be nominated at the next Academy Awards. Newcomer Liana Liberato steals the show with one of the greatest performances I have seen portraying a broken teenager. In a year where there were a few outstanding performances by young actors (Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit), I think Liana Liberato's underrated performance was the best of last year. Clive Owen gives his most dramatic performance to date and Catherine Keener has a few brilliant moments. Chris Coffey, who plays Charlie the predator, gives a creepy (if brief) performance in the vain of Stanley Tucci in "The Lovely Bones".
David Schwimmer (Ross from the show "Friends") did a surprisingly good job directing Trust. He got the most out of the actors and, considering the serious subject matter, had a bleak, disturbing tone to the film. The combination of a happy neighborhood/school/family worked well with the one black spot which is the daughter, the victim. After the assault happens, you see the world change and everyone's life becomes a little darker.
Should you watch Trust? Yes. The performances and the story alone make it one not to miss. There are a couple of moments where you may shed a tear. It's haunting for any age or gender. These crimes DO occur, and they happen often. While it's not a film you watch with friends; it's not an enjoyable film in the least, Trust is just one effective tale that may stay in with you for a long time.
The Resident (2011)
A Highly Suspenseful Film Plagued By Terrible Acting and an Uneven Storyline
I enjoyed The Resident. It's more thriller than horror, but it does contain a few cheap scares that never deterred from any enjoyment. It's a suspenseful tale; one that feels like a late 90s thriller that I enjoyed at a younger age.
The storyline is basic. A new tenant, through various events, suspects that something abnormal is occurring. Maybe she is not alone in her loft, and maybe it all has to do with the landlord. There's no mystery hidden in The Resident, everything is spoon-fed to the viewer and there are no surprises what-so-ever.
Let's just get this out of the way: The Resident has many elements that make certain modern horror films terrible. The acting, even including Oscar-winner Hilary Swank herself, is terrible throughout. The storyline is never fully explained. Things just seem to happen in order to move along the film rather than to tell a satisfying story.
The camera work is brilliant. Every shot was memorable and at certain moments it features many iconic filming styles that were immediately noticed. The Resident is also suspenseful to the point where my heart started to pound. This truly shows that the filmmakers have the ability to make a quality thriller. Here's hoping for a better script next time around.
Overall you will not be disappointed with The Resident. Hilary Swank, surprisingly, made this film her own simply by her presence. Even though it contains many flaws seen in most horror films nowadays, you'll find a lot of enjoyment from this short, thrilling major film debut from Antti Jokinen. Just make sure you give it a chance before completely disregarding it based on its' weaknesses - the strengths do outweigh the weaknesses in The Resident.
Black Swan (2010)
Aronofsky Perfectly Mixes Real and Surreal in an Intense Masterpiece
Ever since I saw the first trailer, I counted down to the day I would watch Black Swan. It has my favorite actresses Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, one of my favorite directors Darren Aronofsky, and ultimately it had the feeling of a David Lynch film. I've tried everything to stay away from any clip, review, or piece of information, even blocking advertisements with my hand on the screen. I was pumped. So pumped the night before seeing it I could barely sleep. With this amount of hype towards anything, it's easy to be disappointed. Black Swan surprised me.
First and foremost, the performance Natalie gives is haunting. She always plays the character she began with even when the script demands more and her mental frailty shows throughout Black Swan. She handles every situation with passion and intensity. Mila Kunis also gives her usual performance that always boosts the quality of any film.
Having seen all five Aronofsky films to date, I would rank them as:
Black Swan > Requiem for a Dream > The Wrestler > The Fountain > Pi
All of his movies offer something unique and interesting, but Aronofsky was never able to mix the unique with the realistic as perfectly as he did in Black Swan. This is his best work and, looking at his upcoming work, which in my opinion will underutilized this brilliant director/writer, it will continue to be his best work for years to come.
Who knew a film about ballet would be so interesting? The story is brilliant. It's intense, passionate, frightening, sexual, sad, funny, demoniac, romantic, and above all artistic. Everything you could ever want in a film plus more. With that said, I don't believe Black Swan is for everyone, but if you found interest in the trailer than there is a great chance that you will love it as I did. I look forward to watching it again and again in the future. It's THAT good.
With a year of massive disappointments, a year where boundary-breaking films were nonexistent, Aronofsky comes in and makes 2010 worthwhile. Black Swan has a safe place as one of my favorites in life. That's right, 'favorites'. It breaks away from being just a film and takes a place as a brilliant memory and piece of work that will stay with me for the rest of my remaining life.
An American Crime (2007)
An Under-appreciated True Story of Imprisonment and Torture
This film is much better than given credit for. It is a true story of imprisonment and torture of a young girl in the 1960s.
The performances here are outstanding. Ellen Page gives a brutally good performance and Catherine Keener steals the show with her truthful performance. An American Crime is set in the 1960s and it's evident that it is from the look to the carelessness compared to today. Their take on the 1960s is a strong point in An American Crime.
The story is well-structured. It takes place in a courtroom but the movie itself is a retelling of what had occurred through the witnesses. I never found myself bored, even in the beginning, and it only ratcheted up until the conclusion. When finally I thought that these filmmakers messed up some where, they take the audience by surprise and completely trick us. I found it brilliant.
Another film, "The Girl Next Door", is also based on the same incident and was also released in 2007. While it is a good film in its own merit, "The Girl Next Door" is much more of a horror-type film where the idea was taken simply to make a disturbing film where as An American Crime feels like a much more professional and serious effort.
An American Crime is a must see. It has all the qualities of a fantastic film and is a flawless one at that. Forget what the some critics may tell you, and check this one out. However you may feel about An American Crime in the end, you will undeniably have seen a unique, under-appreciated gut-wrenching masterpiece.
Burning Bright (2010)
A Horrific Gen Filled with Suspense
Burning Bright is a horrific gem. One of those films where you ask yourself, "why wasn't this released in theaters?" That is exactly what I was wondering while watching. I felt my heart beating throughout the 50 minute action sequence. The premise will immediately catch your attention, a young women and her autistic brother are trapped in a house with a hungry tiger during a hurricane. The house is barricaded.
~How did the tiger get into the house? Will they survive?~
It's surprising the amount of things occurring throughout and it's a nice change from almost every one-dimensional horror films nowadays. It is also extremely believable; this can happen to anyone of us. If you thought Freddy Kruger was scary, try taking on this tiger. It's unfortunate that it was never credited because the tiger is the star of the film. Briana Evigan also gives a terrific performance as the hot women in trouble and fits this film perfectly.
There are no real flaws in Burning Bright. It is quiet perfect of how to make a suspenseful thriller. It's a thriller that actually thrills. It goes the extra mile making sure your heart is pounding out of you chest at every moment. A couple of scenes are simply unforgettable.
Burning Bright is a bright light for every inspiring filmmaker out there. It doesn't matter if your film gets the attention it deserves, someone will notice and appreciate the work that was done. The filmmakers know how to make a great film. They didn't just think of the good plot, they also spent time perfecting it and it's noticeable.
Burning Bright was never released in theaters, and frankly it should have been. It's one of the most thrilling films I have seen in years. The suspense will eat you alive.
Gut-wrenching Entertainment at its Coldest
Frozen is a slow-paced indie horror film that surprises and frustrates. Three friends are trapped in a chairlift at a ski resort. Great plot for a horror movie, right? Going into it I wasn't sure if I would be surprised or disappointed, and by the end I got a little of both.
Where Frozen surprised me the most was the acting and the writing. Adam Green, who wrote and directed Frozen, is talented when it comes to writing the dialogue. These characters feel realistic and thus you care about them more than most horror films. They all have a back story and you get to know these characters through the 90 minutes. The script is also top-notch and I never once said "why don't they just..." These people are screwed from the get-go. The directing gets the job done, but nothing amazing.
What I found disappointing is how held-back Frozen was. It could have easily been better. Right as the credits started rolling, many ideas popped into my head on what could have been added to make a more interesting and tense-filled horror flick. Despite its' interesting plot, it was underwhelming.
There's more good than bad in Frozen, and every horror fanatic should certainly check this one out. It's not perfect; that feeling of pointlessness certainly came into effect, it is a bit slow-paced, and a tiny bit repetitive. That said, you will not find many modern horror pictures with characters you actually get attached to. It's gut- wrenching entertainment at its coldest.