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146 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Slightly over-hyped, yet still one entertaining piece., 6 June 2016

Knowing David O Russell's style, I knew going into this that I was going to have to deal with some over the top quirkiness in the characters and style, which I can usually tolerate in his films. On one hand, he handles his actors extremely well with top notch directing and handles his script very carefully as well. On the other hand, he lets his style slip out of his hands and spill out all over the screen in an over abundance of random bantering from characters, and depraved scenes of sexual frustration that get played off as comedic.

Christian Bale and Amy Adams are two con artists who are forced by an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to set up an elaborate sting operation on corrupt politicians, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey (Jeremy Renner). Meanwhile, he has to deal with his estranged wife (Jennifer Lawrence) who constantly gets in the way of his plans. I was invested because this is the first time David O Russell has tackled crime drama. He still manages to blend black comedic undertones with the colorful, sporadic writing on the surface.

The casting and performances are probably the film's biggest strong suit. Christian Bale is hilarious and convincingly serious at the same time. Anytime he's on screen, he squeezes every last drop of investment into his character that the scene calls for, and it pays off. When he gets upset, angry, or scared, you really see it on his face. In a film like this that's really flashy, it's amazing how much emotion he displays while the audience is getting energized by the soundtrack. Amy Adams is sexy and deceitful, which we get out of every single scene she's in. Bradly Cooper is quickly becoming one of the most promising actors in this day in age. He is unpredictable in every scene he's in, but he manages to keep it straight and real at the same time. Jennifer Lawrence is unstoppable, portraying yet another emotionally distressed woman with husband problems, and no filter on her mouth. The only thing I wasn't sure about was the random Robert De Niro cameo.

One main issue I do have with the film is that the style, while entertaining, distracts from the plot. I usually encourage this behavior from Russell in previous works, but this time it left me a tad overwhelmed. It hammered itself in scenes that were completely unnecessary. The film went on a tad too long, and definitely could have trimmed some scenes that were needlessly thrown in there for stylistic purposes. The writing is solid, but the quirky character trope just throws me off at times and makes it hard to focus.

Overall, the film really energizes and excites you in each scene, making for one very entertaining film. I feel like a few people love the flashy style, which I can appreciate, even if it distracts a little. For that reason, I find it a tad over hyped, but not enough to take away any enjoyment. Russell is getting more mainstream, which is showcasing in his films. I just hope it doesn't get to his head, and I look forward to what he can do in the future.

Kills more than just ladies., 20 March 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Coen's attempt to recover from the disaster that was Intolerable Cruelty by jabbing at the 1955 black comedy by Alexander Mackendrick resulted in what I believe to be their worst movie.

Tom Hanks plays a charming Southern professor who rents a room from landlady Marva Munson, (Irma P. Hall) who isn't aware of him and his crew's plan to rob a casino underground right under her nose. But they aren't quite aware of just how observant she is.

This film is so awkward, which I understand was a main intention, but awkward in an annoying way. Casting Tom Hanks, Tzi Ma, and JK Simmons is one thing, but casting Marlon Wayans in an adaptation of this classic? Cmon! Not even the good actors can save it. J.K. Simmons is completely suppressed and annoying, Tzi Ma just says nothing and eats cigarettes all day, and Tom Hanks in his possible worst performance ever snickers and snorts like a pig five different times, as if it's supposed to be an interesting trait of his.

The tone is very off putting. It's a goofy light comedy with cheesy, fake characters, while at the same time having people getting blown up and hung. It's all over the place. Erma Hall as the landlady is very entertaining in her scenes and very commanding in her role, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Unfortunately, we don't get much of her. Instead we get forced humor with repetitive gags. To be fair, I wasn't expecting this to be good, but I wasn't expecting to hate it this much. The moment Marlon Wayans robs a store and gets lifted up by his nostrils, I just wanted to cry. The scene where J.K. Simmons blows himself up while testing an explosive on the wall was actually a pretty fun scene to see the house shake from the outside, until we see he loses nothing but a finger in that huge explosion. I know it's a comedy, but in a film like this, suspension of disbelief doesn't apply.

Overall, this film is atrocious, not just for a Coen's film, just in general. I'm glad this is as bad as it gets for them because if it got worse, then I'd question their motives.

The dark ages for the Coen brothers, 20 March 2016

This is the first time the Coen's usually clever comedic tones didn't sit well with me. I get what they were going for, but it missed the mark for me completely.

George Clooney plays a hot winning divorce lawyer who gets involved with a deceiving gold digger (Catherine Zeta Jones) who marries him to make a fortune in the divorce, resulting in plain, cheesy, goofball comedic misfortune.

I normally enjoy the Coen's full blown comedies with Hudsucker Proxy, O Brother, Where art Thou?, and Raising Arizona, but this just went too far in my mind. It overdoes the slapstick, overdoes the zaniness of the characters, and overdoes the absurdity of the situation to the point where we can't take it seriously or get invested anymore because you made us care more about guys getting kicked around by cartoon sound effects than to care about our characters. Even for those who love goofball comedies, and is a sucker for Coen brother absurdity, it's still by far one of their weaker films. The storytelling is simply not that intriguing, the characters are extremely clichéd, followed by extremely clichéd romantic pieces, and it gives us no reason to stay together. The one positive thing I guess is that George Clooney and Catherine Jones are decent, despite not being that interesting of characters. Aside from that, I didn't hate it, but it's quite an uninteresting, uninspired bore fest with nothing new to offer.

Spotlight (2015/I)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A film that does its job without feeling the need to add more., 28 February 2016

Spotlight, the four person team working for the Boston Globe, investigates into the repeated acts of priests sexually abusing children over the course of 30 years, resulting in the unfolding of hidden secrets that this team desperately determined to reveal.

Compelling, investing, and brilliantly detailed account of a story that people tried to hide for so long. This film goes into so much detail about the emotional distress, the determination from the team, the struggle with the legal system in getting the truth out, etc. The ensemble cast is well picked out, with everybody doing a great job. Mark Ruffalo and Rachel Mcadams both give Oscar worthy performances, and Michael Keaton was surprisingly amazing, showing that Birdman was not a one time hit for him.

For a touchy subject matter like this, It's really risky to put it out there, as some people (including the Academy) don't like films with uncomfortable topics. This film handled it so perfectly and so maturely that it deserves every bit of credibility. It's very historically accurate, resisting the temptation to make the main characters out to be superheroes that save the day, but instead just portrays them as people simply doing their jobs, which is what this movie does. It doesn't go out of its way to blow itself up bigger than it is, or try to establish any bit of greater importance, it simply does its job, and does it great. It is completely airtight, there is no fat on this film whatsoever. Every scene is escalating the plot further in some way, and is packed full of the meat of the story, which I savored every little bit of.

Tightly written, tightly edited, tightly acted, and tightly directed, this is a unique and impressive quality film that will inspire you until the end.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
One of the most visually intricate films I've ever seen., 28 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After being mauled by a bear during a hunting expedition in the 1820's, fur trader Andrew Henry (Leonardo Dicaprio) is left for dead and buried alive after his half breed son is killed by John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), resulting in a fierce and brutal struggle for survival as he attempts to make his way back to civilization for revenge against Fitzgerald.

Opening with a visually masterful fight scene between the hunting crew and the Arikara tribes, Alejandro Inarritu brilliantly captures (through extended takes and natural lighting) the complete feeling of being in the freezing wilderness. From walking in the rain to running in the snow, you feel every single nit bit of detail within the scene. Like Birdman, he likes to capture everything in one, making for a very strong directing job.

Overall, it is rich with environment, which is its main factor. Leo spends most of his time in the wilderness on his own, trying to survive. His desperation increases more and more as you see him progressively determined. From sleeping inside a horse to eating rotten boar flesh, Leo goes all out in here and is completely immersed in every scene he's in. I wish Tom Hardy got more screen time, there was some good potential for a very unique character study. Even though it was still good, I feel like they might have missed out.

Even though style over substance is usually not good, this is one of the most masterfully filmed movies I have ever seen. It makes me wonder how they got some of these shots. Compliments to them for the use of natural lighting, which is a good touch, and really pays off. I wish Alejandro did what he did in Birdman, and have more dream sequences, and more spiritual scenery to add to the gritty feeling. Once you factor out the detailed environment and long structure of it all, what you get is a pretty basic revenge story. With that said, it is so technically marvelous it overshadows it completely.

Regardless of its few complaints, it is one of the most riveting experiences I've ever had with a film. Watch in on Blu-Ray, on an HDTV, turn out the lights and turn on the surround sound, and get ready to travel to a new world, because this is the movie to do it.

Billy Bob Thorton's best performance., 24 February 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Set in the late 1940's, low key barber Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thorton) inadvertently blackmails his wife's boss, which leads to him killing him to cover it up. This triggers a complicated police involvement with Ed, as well as a psychological breakdown, all while he narrates the events in his mind.

Billy Bob Thorton is not only greatly cast, but he is top notch in this film, you feel what he feels, and what he's going through not just through the narration, but through his facial expressions. The Coens captured the psychological feeling through the excellent cinematography, eerie music, and classy set pieces. The events in the film are fairly simple and play out like a pretty standard neo- noir drama, but his narration is what makes it so deep and unforgettable, and what makes it stand out. This is a rare instance where it isn't style over substance, both are very strong in this film. We get the classy black and white cinematography, along with some strong character reading.

I had a couple issues. Like I said, it is a standard neo noir film, and the narration kind of over escalates the film itself, and doesn't play out on its own at any point. It also takes a bit of time to set up the plot, and even though it has great payoff, it's still rough to get through. Overall, it's a super solid Coen film that stands out as one of their more psychological films, as well as one of their most stylistic.

Welcome back John Turturro, 24 February 2016

Inspired by "The Odyssey", three escaped convicts from the South in the 1930's set out to find hidden treasure, a rumor told to them by an old man.

I was very entertained by this film. It has a realistic depiction with a touch of fantasy to it, one that will really skew into some goofy scenes. It's a film that plays with your suspension of disbelief for a little, but stays focused nonetheless. The cast was well picked out, with George Clooney and John Turturro as the lead, as well as Tim Blake Nelson, all of which do an amazing job. The tone is one of the best parts of the movie. It should be a drama, given the source material and the setting, but it plays off as a light comedy, with several over the top scenes that set up for an excellent music score. The songs in this had me humming for days, T Bone Burnett really did a good job in capturing the tone and time period for the film, and it pays off.

The film at times feels a little clustered, with some big stars that don't get as much screen time. Holly Hunter is pretty top billed, but isn't around until three fourths of the movie. The film is adapting itself into The Odyssey, so there are some appropriately added scenes that are there to be symbolism, and even though it's well done, it kind of slows down the adventurous pace. With that, the fantasy element of this film is strong, I feel like anything can happen in this movie, and that anything is possible, a free feeling I don't get in movies very often.

Not one of my favorite Coen's, but entertaining nonetheless, with some great characters, interesting storytelling, and a fun tone and excellent music.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Classic Coen Brothers., 20 January 2016

After being beaten by thugs who mistake him with somebody of the same name, Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) confronts millionaire Jeff Lebowski on the mistaken identity, a confrontation that will lead to several bizarre and unforeseeable twists for him and his two bowling buddies, (John Goodman, Steve Buschemi).

I'll be the first to say I do not see what all the buzz is about with this film. For some reason hipsters like to blow this up to be an absolute masterpiece, which is endlessly praised, quoted, and cos played. I like it a lot, but to me it doesn't stand out nearly as well as some of Coen's others, even though I still enjoy it. To me, it's a clever, fun, stoner comedy with a great cast and characters, but that's where it stops for me honestly.

The characters are very colorful, Jeff Bridges is perfectly cast as the Dude, an icon that is mercilessly cos played, and he is funny in the movie. John Goodman as former Vietnam lieutenant Walter Sobchak is a great backup for The Dude as he mostly plays the muscle for all the predicaments they get involved in. Steve Buschemi's character was good overall, even though he doesn't get much screen time. What's great is that even the small roles in the film who get one or two scenes, still make an big impact on the film in the few scenes they're in. I can't very well make a Big Lebowski review without mentioning Jesus, the bowler for an enemy team of the Dude's bowler team, excellently cast by John Turturro, one of my favorite Coen alumni. Others like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore are also quite entertaining for the few scenes they are in.

When I first watched it, I thought the plot was very bloated, lots of scenes and subplots that really go nowhere. Even though it adds to some funny scenes, overall it doesn't amount to much, but oh well. Regardless of my small complaints with this movie, it's a very fun, well made film with some entertaining characters, with some slight editing issues. Solid nonetheless

35 out of 82 people found the following review useful:
One of Tarantino's heaviest films., 31 December 2015

This is a Tarantino film that emphasizes every bit of content in this film. The characters, the environment, the food they eat, the liquor they drink, etc. Nothing in this film is not addressed in some point or another. One of his most dialogue heavy films, and one of his most gruesome films as well.

Everybody in this film gave an amazing performance. Has one of my favorite Samuel Jackson characters ever, followed by the phenomenally cast Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kurt Russell, making for a great duo. Michael Madsen and Tim Roth were a little underplayed but still fun to watch. The cinematic view is glorious, even if it is all mostly shot in a cabin. Though few, the shots of mountains with horseback carriages in the distance makes for some beautiful scenery. Once again, this has one of the longest screenplays in any other Tarantino. Every scene has at least five fifteen minute discussions about a backstory, or some food or the cabin or the owners of the cabin. Many critics have considered it one of his slowest movies, though it is filled with story and it makes you feel informed throughout.

Hateful Eight is right, because this is one of the most hateful, mean spirited movies ever, with probably the highest number of N- words in any movie. Even those who have an understanding are at each other's throats in this. There is zero friendliness in here. I will admit I was hoping for less white and black confrontation in this, since that's a big discussion in the film, and it feels worn at this moment in Tarantino's career.

Overall, It's very different from what he's done in the past, and it's better than his two recent films. Even though it isn't perfect, it's a story to remember with some very colorful characters and plot.

Fargo (1996)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
My favorite Coen film of all time., 1 December 2015

This my favorite, and the best Coen film of all time. Even though it's a fairly simplistic story, it has comedic elements of all sorts. Frances McDormand as a pregnant Minnesota cop investigates homicides that are connected to a family man hiring hit-man to kidnap his wife to collect the ransom money from his rich father-in-law.

The story is told fairly straightforward, with extremely funny jabs at Minnesota culture, particularly on their accents. The funniest is the jabs at Steve Buschemi being described as nothing but funny looking, really goes to show how the Coens feel. William H. Macy as the husband of the kidnapped woman is a nervous mess in every scene he's in, going out of his way to cover up anything that goes wrong. Steve Buschemi is an absolute riot every time he's on screen, being a bumbling screw up in almost everything he does.

This is the best Coen film because it is not only a comedy, but it's a comedy of different varieties. If you tried to explain why these scenes are funny, you couldn't because they're that clever. Very recommended!

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