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The Avengers (2012)
An absolutely BREATHTAKING experience. Nothing sort of entirely remarkable
I am a relatively new convert to the world of Marvel. I did not grow up reading comic books, or knowing ANYTNIG about these iconic characters. My experience with Marvel began in 2008, when I first saw "Iron Man" in theaters, and fell in love with it. I was blown away by the level of storytelling and ESPECIALLY by Robert Downey Jr.'s phenomenal performance as Tony Stark. That movie shaped my idea of what storytelling and what movies could be. I kind of put that movie in the back of my mind for two years, but, when Iron Man 2 released in 2010, I TRULY began my love of Superhero movies. Over the next two years, I immersed myself in the Marvel universe. I have been blown away by Iron Man 2, Thor, AND Captain America: The First Avenger. All of those movies have been fantastic as stand alone movies. But, Joss Wheadon, the man who gave us the TV adaptation of "Buffy The Vanpire Slayer", "Firefly", and it's follow-up "Sernity", SOMEHOW finds a way to bring all these standalone characters and the elements of the past movies in the Marvel Universe and combines them perfectly together to make something wholly original, intelligent, and extremely breathtaking.
After Loki (Tom Hiddelston) comes to Earth from the otherworldly kingdom of Asguard and decides that these new people, and this new planet, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the leader of a government agency called S.H.I.E.L.D., is forced to bring together the world's most powerful superheros, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Dr. Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) together in order to combat his menace. Along with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Natasah Romanov/Black Widow (Scarlett Johannsen) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jermey Renner), the heroes must battle Loki's "Army".
What makes this movie GREAT is the fact that the Avengers don't get along well, at ALL, when they first meet. Captain America and Iron Man take an immediate dislike to one another, and no one seems to like Thor, as he disagrees with Cap. and Iron Man on just about everything. These confrontations make for some of the FUNNIEST scenes in the movie. THis is a deeper, more philosophical and mature Super hero movie, while STILL being an entertaining, fun, popcorn movie, while STILL being the BEST Superrhero movie OF ALL TIME. This is more than JUST an action/adventure/popcorn movie. This is every sense of the term, a MASTERPIECE of filmmaking. I would say that this movie is worth seeing if you've seen ANY of the other Marbel films, or even if you've never seen the movies, Wheadon does a damn good job filling in all the blanks of the past movies perfectly for those who haven't seen them. Either way, SEE THIS MOVIE, see it in 3D, if possible.
The Artist (2011)
Equal parts beautiful, Eerie, atmospheric, charming, and ORIGINAL
"The Artist" is one of those films that you go into not expecting very much out of it, and, in the end, you're left truly moved, and inspired. This film is certainly unconventional, but that adds to what makes it so GREAT!
The year is 1927, the place, Hollywood. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is one of the most successful and beloved silent movie stars, and along with his canine companion and sidekick, Uggie, charms his ways through Hollywood. While making his newest movie, George meets an up and coming dancer and actress, Peppy Miller, who dreams of making it big, and the two start an unusual friendship/partnership, which makes George's already jealous wife (Penelope Anne Miller) even MORE jealous, because she believes that there is something more between the two coworkers One day, the director of George's newest film, and a frequent collaborator and close friend (John Goodman) shows George something new, something that he calls "the future"- movies with sound, or Talkies. For some reason, George is not willing to speak in the movies, and is convinced, as is everyone else, that he will soon become a thing of the past.
Over the next few years, Peppy becomes one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, while George sinks deeper and deeper into obscurity. When his next movie, "Tears of Love" opens alongside Peppy's newest Talkie, and proceeds to bomb, he slumps into a deep depression that leads him to fire his butler and closest friend, Clifton (James Cromwell), and on two occasions, attempts to commit suicide, until Peppy comes to his rescue, and saves not only his life, but also his career.
What makes "The Artist" so terrific is the director and cinematographer's decision to shoot the film in black and white, and make it silent, to add to the authenticity of the time period and the subject. The added bonus of VERY FEW duologue cards allows the audience the opportunity to create duologue between the characters. Combine that with Ludovic Borec's score, which ALSO fits the time period, and you have one hell of a authentic film set in the 1920s. The chemistry between Jean Dujardin and Bernece Bejo is ELECTRIC, and their performances speak magnitudes even though the film is silent. This is ONE HELL of an amazing movie, and it leaves you speechless after the film ends.
Young Adult (2011)
A VERY pleasant surprise.
In 2007, a up and coming director named Jason Reitman teamed up with a first-time screenwriter named Diablo Cody teamed up to bring us "Juno", a film that became a cult classic, and who introduced American audiences to the utterly charming Canadian Actress, Ellen Paige. Now, 4 years later, they have re teamed to create a dark comedy called "Young Adult". And, fans of "Juno", be warned, this film is FAR MORE darker than their last collaboration.
"Young Adult" is the story of Mavis Gary-Grey (Charlize Theron), the ghost-writer of a young adult series of novels called "Waverly Prep", which had it's short lived success a few years earlier, and has now been canceled.
An absolutely MAGICAL film! A work of ART
Three years ago, I picked up a book that I knew almost NOTHING about, save a couple of paragraphs of a review that I had read. That book was "The Invention of Hugo Cabret", the debut novel of established illustrator Brian Selznick. Faithful to his previous illustration work, Selznick chose to tell his story in a rather unusual fashion- using pictures and words. But "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" is far from a GRAPHIC NOVEL. It is a novel with some breathtaking sketches. When I read that Martin Scorsessee was attached to adapt the book into a movie, in 3D no less, I was actually VERY excited. I felt that 3D was the BEST way to tackle such a visual novel, and it turns out that I was right, in some ways.
Scorsessee's adaptation of the novel, which went through several title changes before settling with "Hugo", received much praise for it's storytelling, and especially for its use of the "overrated" medium of 3D, particularly from "Avatar" and "Titanic" director James Cameron, who called the film the "Best use of 3D ever." Mr. Cameron knows his 3D, I trusted his word, and rightly so. As soon as the opening credits started, I became fully aware that I was in for a REAL TREAT.
"Hugo" is the story of a young orphan, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), who lives in the Paris train station during the 1930s. He has been alone since his father (Played in flashbacks by Jude Law) was killed in a tragic fire, and his uncle Claude (Ray Winstone), a frequently drunk man who worked as the timekeeper at the station disappeared. Hugo must move throughout the train station carefully, so to avoid the watchful eyes of Gustave (Sacha Baron-Cohen), the often comical station inspector. It's his sneakiness that gets him in trouble with an aging man known as Papa Georges (Sir Ben Kingsley), who runs a small toy stand at the station. Along with Georges' god-daughter, Isabel, Hugo embarks on a journey that is equal parts remarkable and magical, and one that is filled with long- lost secrets from the past.
"Hugo" is FAR from a carbon copy of Selznick's REMARKABLE novel, but it IS remarkable in it's own right. Scorsessee and his team PERFECTLY capture the look and feel of the novel's settings, and ESPECIALLY the characters. In the end, this is certainly Scorsessee's love letter to classic cinema, and to the French Filmmakers who he truly admires and looks up to. By the time the film ended, I was left truly moved, and with the impression that I had just had one of the most MAGICAL movie going experiences of my life.
Man Push Cart (2005)
A strange, quiet, and yet BRILLIANT portrait of human life.
With "Man Push Cart", Ramin Bahrani crafts a truly unusual and haunting tale. This is the story of a former Pakistani musician who now lives in New York and works a push cart. His life is mundane,and relies basically around his job. When he meets a fellow Pakistani, who recognizes him, he begins to open up to him. He also starts a strange, quiet relationship with a woman who also mans a push cart. But, slowly, his life begin to fall apart.
This film is not for everyone, but, for those who like offbeat, strange, and quiet films, "Man Push Cart" offers an unusual look at human life, and loneliness, as well as living in the past, and establishes Bahrani as one of the more underrated directors working today.
Person of Interest (2011)
Realistic, Gritty, Fresh, AMAZING
"Person of Interest" is the brainchild of Jonathan Nolan, the brother of director Chirstopher Nolan. Jonathan wrote the screenplays for Christopher's movies "Memento", "Batman Begins", "The Prestinge", "The Dark Knight", as well as the upcoming "The Dark Knight Rises", and "Man of Steel", which Christopher is producing. But, back to "Person of Interest". John Reese (Jim Cavezil. OK, I did NOT spell that right. It's the guy that played Jesus in "Passion of the Christ", is a former government agent who experienced a tragic event in his past, and wants to conceal it from everyone. He is essentially homeless, but possesses some pretty impressive fighting skills. It's these fighting skills that make him noticed by two people: the first is an NYPD agent, Carter (Taraji P. Henson), who doens't really know who Reese is, and Reese doens't want to reveal anything to her. The other person is Finch (Michael Emmerson), a mysterious millionaire who was hired by the government after 9/11 to create a Big Brother like machine that would help save innocent people from being killed. But, eventually, the Machine began to take on a mind of it's own, and Finch took matters into his own hands, helping these people on his own, without the help of the government. It's this that leads him to Reese. He sees in Reese someone like him, a person who can't get over past tragedies, and it's those tragedies that are holding him back from being successful. Finch and Reese become somewhat of business partners, with Finch using Reese to find ways to save innocent people. But, sometimes, these people are not as innocent as they seem.
Johnathan Nolan has created a truly original show here. A gritty world filled with corrupt, and often complex characters. That's partially what makes this show so good. It's ORIGINAL. The world that it portrays may be unfaltering, and corrupt, but something about it feels REAL. You can relate to Reese, however, you don't know enough about Finch's mysterious past to really care about him. However, Michael Emmerson DOES portray this extremely strange and complex character in a way that makes him strangely likable. The action and fight sequences feel like something that belongs in a movie, particularly, one that Johnathan's brother, Christopher, would probably direct, and that Johnathan would probably write. This IS a VERY VERY good show, and it's one that will certainly surprise you.
One of the best shows I've ever seen.
This is the story of two sisters who share the same face. The first is Bridget Kelly (Sarah Michelle Geller), a former stripper and drug addict, who is the only witness to a brutal murder committed by a brutal crime boss. When she gets in invitation from her twin sister, Siobhan (also played by Geller), to come stay with her in New York for as long as she wants, she sees it as her only way out. Siobhan and Bridget had a falling out several years earlier, and haven't spoken since. But, when Siobhan kills herself while the two sisters are out on a boat off the Hamptons, Bridget sees an opportunity to get away from the trouble she's in. She assumes the role of Siobhan, believing that her life is perfect. But, everyone has secrets, and Siobhan is no different. She lives a life of extravagance in New York, with her husband, Andrew (Iaon Gruffod. I did NOT spell that right. OK, that guy from Fantastic 4.) She soon realizes that not only is her relationship with Andrew is going down hill, but that Siobhan is also having an affair with Henry, the husband of her best friend, and soon, discovers that someone is out to kill Siobhan.
"Ringer" is a smart, sly, devilishly sexy, at times gritty, original and fresh thriller that appears almost like a impossible to solve puzzle. While the duologue is at times cringe-worthy, it's the intriguing characters, and the fantastic performances from Geller and Nestor Carbonell, who plays an FBI agent, that make this show as good as it is. This show is a must watch.
The Fountain (2006)
A beautiful, but very strange, hymn to life, death, and love
Darren Arenofsky has created an EXTREMELY original film in The Fountain. And, while it may not connect with most people, I found it to be beautiful.
Tommy(Hugh Jackman) and his wife Izzi(Rachel Weiz) live an idyllic life in the 21st century. But, appearances are never as they seem. Tommy is a brilliant scientist. His goal: cure Izzi, who is dying of Cancer. But, before Izzi dies, she plans to finish the book she's been writing, a book titled The Fountain. The Fountain details the following story: In The 1500s, Queen Isabella of Spain sends her best Conquistidor, Thomas to the jungles of Mexico to hunt for a mysterious hidden temple of the Mayan people. According to Mayan legend, the Mayan creator, First Father, sacrificed himself in this temple in order to create the Mayan people. His body became a tree, and his soul, its branches. This is known to the Mayans as The Tree of Life. It is said that anyone that drinks its sap will be able to live forever. She gives Thomas a ring, and tells him that if he should find the tree, and he returns to Spain, he and the Queen will be married, and together, they shall live forever.
Tommy seems to recall these events as if he has lived them himself. But, seeing as there is 500 years difference, that is physically impossible. Except, that is, if Thomas found the Tree of Life.
In the year 2500, a aging Tommy is reacing through Space in a strange bubble. The only company he has is a tree, which is the body of his deceased wife, Izzi. His target, the Mayan underworld, Xibalba (pronounced "shibalba"),which is, in actuality, a Nebula wrapping around a dying star. Tommy is heading here in order to be reborn, so he can live with Izzi forever.
As odd as this film sounds, everything ties together in the end, and makes a strange but powerful tale of one man's undying love for the woman he loves, and how far he will go to be with her forever
The King's Speech (2010)
My favorite film of 2010 by a long shot!
Tom Hooper last blew viewers away with his critically praised HBO miniseries "John Adams", which starred Paul Giamati in the title role. Now, he returns to his native England to tell a bit of a different story.
Prince Albert, The Duke of York (Colin Firth) is in a bit of a rough spot. His father, King Goerge V is dying. With his father's deminishing health, all of the King's messages are delivered to the people of England via radio, and it's up to people like Albert to delever those messages to his people. The only problem is that Albert, or Bertie to his family, has suffered from a severe stutter since the age of 5. Despite the fact that he's seen every single speech therapist and specialist on the entire continent, his wife (Helana Bonnam Carter) stills feels that there's hope for her husband. So, against his wishes, she hires an eccentric Australian Speech Therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). If Logue fails, then nothing can help Bertie.
Logue and Bertie don't exactly hit it off, and their freindship, as well as Bertie's life is filled with speed bumps including the death of his father, the fact that his brother, David, will be the new king, and the fact that David (Guy Pearce) is marrying a woman named Wallis Simpson, an American who has been married twice. After David finds himself unfit to rule, he avdocates the throne to his younger brother. Unfortionatly, soon after Bertie takes the throne, Adolf Hitler announces his plans to attack England. This shoves the country into WWII, and forces Bertie to conquer his fears.
Firth and Rush are at their best here, playing two very unique people who form an even odder bond. What makes this film all the more remarkable is the fact that both Albert, who later became King George VI, and Lionel Logue both existed in real life, as do many of the otehr characters, including Bertie's young daughter, Elizabeth. Fantastic cameos by actors like Derek Jacobi as the Archbishop, Cosmo Lange, and Timothy Spall as Winston Chirchill. But NOTHING can take away from the spellbinding performances by Colin Firth and Geffrey Rush
Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)
A remarkable tale of undying devotion.
Hachi: A Dog's Tale never got a US release, which is quite sad. This is a very heartwarming movie, that is VERY mature, despite it's G rating. There is no language, violence, sex, or drug content in this film. Just pure, raw, emotion.
Hachi is loosely based on a true story. A professor in Japan in the 1920s discovered a Akita puppy at his local train station, and adopted him. One day, the man had a heart attack at work and died. The dog, named Hachiko never figured this out, and waited for his master to return every day for 10 years.
Replace Japan with northern Maine, the 1920s with the 1990s, and add Richard Gere, and you have Hachi.
Prof. Parker Wilson (Gere) discovers an Akita puppy at his local train station, and adopts him. His wife Cate, is not exactly keen to the idea of having a dog, but Parker's daughter falls madly in love with this sweet puppy. Through learning more about Akitas through his Japanese friend (Akitas are a Japanese dog breed), Parker and Hachi form a wonderful bond. Then, unexpectedly, Parker, a music professor, has a heart attack while he's teaching, and dies. Hachi never figures this out, and, so every day for 10 years, Hachi makes the trek to the local train station to wait for his master, who he believes will one day return. This is a WONDERFUL movie that is quite sad. As I stated earlier, this is not exactly something to show to younger kids, despite it's G rating. I am 16, and I bawled my eyes out. This movie is a MUST for any dog lovers.