Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
An unique meditation on mortality.
"Tempus" is a contemplation and examination of time's passage, created with visual flair while possessing a poetic soul that produces an uncanny effect. Director Ian Clay displays a sensitive touch, maturity, and a prowess for digital filmmaking. While Clay demonstrates his technical virtuosity, Jason Shulman's striking visual effects and Ben Griffin's cinematography seamlessly blends together setting the stage for this unique meditation on mortality. Additionally, Jose Villalobos's affecting musical score adds a dimension of delicacy and grace to the proceedings. Spellbinding and expertly crafted, a lovely elegy to both youth and age.
Sin City (2005)
Black, white, and red all over.
"Sin City" is pure film noir and crime pulp and one of the best if not the best comic book adaptations brought to film ever done. Extreme brutality and full of rampant violence, visually arresting cinematography, and nothing short of pure genius. Robert Rodriguez uses a combination of live action performed by real actors while incorporating a technique of colorization and filming in black in white to transform Frank Miller's graphic novels into moving pictures. There isn't a screenplay written for the film --instead-- it's more like a comic book brought to life and pumped with steroids. While other directors have attempted to remain faithful to the look and "feel" of their source material, Robert Rodriguez has taken things a step further by using Frank Miller's graphic novels as storyboards and immersing the audience neck-deep in the noir currents of Miller's immorality. The end result is a one-of-a-kind film that's both incredibly offensive and undeniably entertaining,
Disappointing return for Stone.
Given his past ability to explore complicated issues in compelling fashion, you might expect Oliver Stone to offer up an intriguing look at drug trafficking. Working from the book by Don Winslow who spent six years researching the DEA and cartels, would give Stone a solid resource from which to draw. A welcomed return to Stone's darker side; "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" and "World Trade Center" were almost insultingly faceless, a definite problem for a director whose best films exude righteous anger. Unfortunately, "Savages" generates little momentum from its moments of ruthless savagery with far too much downtime in between.
California dudes Ben and Chon (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) are dragged into a turf war with the expansion-minded Mexican cartel run by Salma Hayek's drug-war widow Elena, and her brutally amoral deputy Lado (Benicio del Toro). The Mexicans regularly show their power by creating and disseminating videos documenting torture and a litany of beheadings. Meanwhile, eighty miles over the border in Laguna Beach, Ben and Chon supply their ultra-potent genetically engineered strains to legal medical dispensaries but make their real money illegally shipping out-of- state. The product and its profits fuel the boys' lifestyle of neo-hippie decadence, embodied by the business partners' enthusiastic bedroom sharing of eco-friendly, hippie Ophelia (Blake Lively).
The Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move into their turf and demands that the trio partners with them. The merciless head of the cartel, Elena, and her brutal enforcer, Lado, underestimate the unbreakable bond among these friends. Ben and Chon -- with the reluctant, slippery assistance of a dirty DEA agent (John Travolta), wage a seemingly unwinnable war against the cartel. And so begins a series of increasingly vicious ploys and maneuvers in a high stakes, savage battle of wills.
Soul is something "Savages" sorely lacks and it feels inherently hollow. The screenplay (co-written by Stone) is a bit of mess, sloppily assembling a wide range of characters. One of serious issues with the movie usually occurs when the film's three young leads occupy the screen. Though they're competent, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, and Aaron Johnson are hardly scintillating. Their performances fail in comparison to the completely outrageous performances delivered by Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, and John Travolta. Plus, the young threesome and their love triangle never convincingly seduce the audience. "Savages" is a waste of Stone's time as he falls back on old habits of mayhem and provocation best left in the past.
Vastly superior to the original.
José Padilha's "Elite Squad: The Enemy Within" explores the deep-seated corruption riddling Rio de Janeiro through a visceral, powerful Brazilian drama. Building on the success of 2007's "Elite Squad," Lt. Colonel Nascimento is back to take the fight to the drug cartels as well as the corruption within Rio's law enforcement and political system, exposing the true depths of the city's social problems. Breathless, brutal, and thrilling. It's a gut punch of an action movie with political undertones.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Nascimento (Wagner Moura) has devoted his entire life to taking down Rio de Janeiro's most notorious criminals. He leads a special ops group (NOPE) known for its uncompromising effectiveness, but his efforts haven't received a lot of support from the corrupt authorities. When Nascimento's attempts to defuse a prison riot, it turns into a blood bath, and the media creates a public frenzy. The government is eager to use the incident as an excuse to fire Nascimento, but the level of public support for the Colonel's actions is overwhelmingly positive. As such, Nascimento is promoted to a high-ranking security position. Initially, it seems that this new power will grant him the ability to fight crime even more effectively. Alas, it doesn't take long before he realizes that the corruption runs even deeper than he could have suspected. The system has no center, Nascimento tells us, and it always wins.
The corruption of the Brazilian political system serves as a backdrop to the unrestrained violence and tension that permeates throughout the film. The action sequences are swift, violent, and sharply crafted. "The Enemy Within" presents the question -- which is worse: the amoral politicians who run the city, or the violent cartels who oversee the slums? Padilha's film offers no easy answers, but the title is a tip-off as to where at least his sympathies lie.
The film, with its slick production and on-point narration by Moura as Nascimento is an edgy, action-drenched thriller dipped in blood and dirty politics. Still, even during its slickest Hollywood-style action sequences, it's hard to ignore the unyielding, socially conscious anger which fuels the movie. While "The Enemy Within" is not as punchy as its trigger-happy predecessor "Elite Squad," is an intriguing slice of drama with the advantage of a much more balanced standpoint. Previous crime dramas such as "City of God" (2002), "Carandiru" (2003) and Padhila's own 2002 debut "Bus 174" have helped make Brazilian cinema an international critically acclaimed medium. Thankfully, "Elite Squad: The Enemy Within" successfully continues with this trajectory.
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
A timeless political thriller.
Director Fred Zinnemann's "The Day of the Jackal" faithfully follows the Frederick Forsyth best-selling novel (The Dogs of War), which presents an unpretentious and precise reconstruction of the story. Zinnemann's low-key approach is a textbook example of how to make an exciting and sophisticated suspense film without relying on overblown action sequences or flashy visual effects. Zinnemann establishes a pace that is deliberate, but never boring.
An underground terrorist group in France, the OAS, decide to hire a professional killer to assassinate French President Charles De Gaulle (Adrien Cayla-Legrand) after their previous attempts have failed. Their next move is to hire a professional assassin, an English hit man responsible for several high-profile assassinations. Charles Calthrop (Edward Fox) accepts the contract to assassinate the President, and takes on the alias of 'Jackal'. The Jackal methodically prepares to put his plan into action: gathering a new identity, collecting forged documents and a French passport, and finally a custom-built rifle. Top French police investigator Lebel (Michel Lonsdale) learns the name 'Jackal' from an informer in the plotter's ranks and cleverly pieces together the identity of the killer-for-hire.
As with all good thrillers, it's the chase leading up to the climactic finale that is the best part of watching the plot unfold. In relating its tense tale of political wrangling, the intricate and meticulous story develops with a parallel structure that details the Jackal's preparations for the assassination, and Lebel's ongoing efforts to stop him. Fox is superb as the coldly impassioned assassin, and Lonsdale is magnificently analytical as the obsessive detective tracking him down. Despite its measured pace, the tension slowly mounts as the Jackal closes in on his high value target, and the authorities pull out all the stops to find him first. A taut, fascinating, and timeless political thriller.
The Arrival (1996)
Sci-fi thriller that overachieves.
While the monumental and most expensive alien invasion picture of 1996 was declaring our independence, a small budget sci-fi thriller overachieves with an intriguing storyline and a well-written script. David Twohy, a screenwriter ("Waterworld," "The Fugitive") makes his feature debut as both a writer and director with "The Arrival." It's a lean piece of writing that moves quickly, and has some unexpected twists along the way. Those who crave conspiracy theories and cover ups, your time will not go to waste.
Radio astronomer Zane Ziminsky (Charlie Sheen) believes he's picked up a cosmic noise that signals extraterrestrial intelligence. But after turning over the tape to his boss, Zane loses his job, his girlfriend gets transferred, and his once partner is found dead. Zane's desperate search for answers leads him to a mysterious power plant in Mexico generating much more than just electricity, and run by people who are not what they appear to be.
The film's main strength arises from Twohy's writing, which manages to maintain decent dialogue, even when the plot mechanics take over. The movie never sinks into the realm of straight-to-video disaster. Sheen isn't ideally cast in the role of a scientist, but he is respectable and maintains a high level of intensity. The responsibility for the movie lies fully on Sheen's shoulders, and he carries the burden admirably. A overachieving low-budget sci-fi film with an interesting premise that is hampered by only a weak ending.
"Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner."
In Michael Mann's epic crime drama "Heat," the thin blue line grows thinner by the minute. The centerpiece of Mann's film isn't a showdown at high noon, but a conversation over a cup of coffee featuring two expert tradesmen on opposite sides of the law who satisfy identical impulses through opposing means.
Set in contemporary Los Angeles, "Heat" stars Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley, a prolific, cold-as-ice career criminal. Al Pacino is Vincent Hanna, a homicide/robbery detective with the LAPD who recognizes the work of professional criminals and spends the film's three-hour duration tracking down McCauley and his crew. When Hanna and his unit of detectives begin to pick up McCauley's trail, a cat-and-mouse game develops between the two men. Two expert tradesmen on opposite sides of the law, a virtual dance if you will, keeping in step with one another.
Neil McCauley has enough money to get away and becomes deeply attached to his girlfriend Eady (Amy Brenneman). Neil decides to leave his life as a criminal in the past and move to New Zealand with Eady after one last major heist. Lieutenant Hanna is now obsessed with taking down McCauley, and his devotion to the case makes his private life a disaster zone. For both men, their unrelenting commitment to their profession leaves the only other people in their lives in a path of devastation and abandonment.
"Heat" fits the classic definition of a film noir -- the conventions and elements from the hard-boiled detective to the urban setting, the interplay of lights and shadows in the final scene, to the neon lights illuminating the dark corners of Los Angeles. There's a certain uniqueness to the mood of the film achieved by its icy-blue palette which sets the atmospheric tone. Some films are great primarily because of the visuals, others we appreciate for the rich characters, sharp dialogue, or an entertaining story. Rarely do we get a combination of textual and visceral elements fitting the same grand theme of a film, which in this case is loneliness. Both Neil and Vincent are consumed by their work and inherently lonesome, and the same is true for Mann's representation of Los Angeles. It's one we've never laid eyes on before, depicted as a silent milieu of isolation; a car driving along on an empty highway, the flickering city lights on a soundless night, an empty apartment reflecting on a endless ocean, the lights of an airport runway fading into darkness.
When Hanna's incessant pursuit finally catches up with McCauley, the result is one of the most well executed heist scenes in film history. Mann masterfully builds the tension and intensity with the use of montage editing. Above all, the dialogue is complex enough to allow the characters to say what they're thinking: They are eloquent, insightful, fanciful, and even poetic when necessary.
"Heat" is a crime drama masterpiece -- stunning cinematography by Dante Spinotti, a cast of characters that speak for themselves, an engaging storyline, and fantastic action sequences. Disregard Neil's advice, and don't walk if you see the heat coming around the corner.
An intelligent, engaging, multi-layered storyline that blends strained family relations, unsolved murders, and infuses some Icelandic customs keeping the viewer captivated from beginning to end. Despite the lack of shock value, the film maintains a consistent sense of suspense throughout. "Jar City" is chilly and cerebral, but also morbidly and powerfully alive.
In 1974, a young Icelandic girl dies at the hands of a murderer, and the crime was never solved. In present day, the aged and exhausted detective Erlendur begins to investigate a link between that notorious unsolved crime, and the unrelated homicide of a local criminal years after the fact. Erlendur has a difficult private life, his wife has passed away, and he has a pregnant daughter Eva Lind (Agusta Eva Erlendsdottir) who is a drug addict and roams the streets.
Meanwhile, Örn (Atli Rafn Sigurdarson), an employee at a DNA-mapping lab, struggles with the death of his own daughter, who suffered from a brain tumor. In time, the two men's lives will intersect in a myriad of ways that neither can even begin to foresee -- and the motivation for Holberg's original crime will become resoundingly clear.
Director Baltasar Kormákur elegantly churns out a first-rate mystery by dressing it with organic cinematography and a score reminiscent of eerie Gregorian chants. But his best move is a focus on an unlikely secondary character - Iceland itself. He wisely employs this unique, almost otherworldly qualities of its setting--presented as both beautiful and threatening. The cinematography is simply stunning, truly enhancing the ambiance to an ominous storyline and landscape.
"Jar City" turns out to be intricate, haunting puzzle of motivations. The murder, of an old man named Holberg, opens up a nest of older crimes and brooding secrets. Erlendur finds himself investigating a possible rape from 30 years before and unraveling a tangled history of police corruption and petty brutality. What it all has to do with Holberg is no more clear to the audience than it is to the detective. But Erlendur's combination of bluntness and analytical acumen informs Mr. Kormákur's storytelling technique, making "Jar City" an unusually forceful and thought-provoking thriller. "Jar City" (or Mýrin), is adapted from Icelandic writer Arnaldur Indridason's 2000 best-seller, "Tainted Blood."
Pusher III (2005)
Fantastic final installment of the Pusher trilogy.
Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn directs and writes the third and final film of his gritty Pusher trilogy that explores the character of Milo played by Zlatko Buric, who hasn't given up his dominance of the Copenhagen underworld. Refn shows how hard this ruthless, feared man can fall over a harrowing twenty-four hour period, in which bad judgment, naiveté, and addiction nearly cost him an empire. He's frustrated, insecure, and tired of being taken for granted. And just like Tonny in "With Blood On My Hands," he can only be pushed so far.
A decade later, we find Milo in a NA meeting on the morning of his daughter's 25th birthday, for which he has promised to cook for 50 guests. A task now seriously derailed by the unexpected appearance of 10,000 hits of Ecstasy. Gripped in a nightmare of multitasking and becoming increasingly strung out on drugs, Milo must maneuver his way through the consequences of a botched drug deal and a new generation of pushers who covet the infamous title of "Kingpin of Copenhagen."
It's striking how dissimilar "Pusher III" is from "Pusher II," given that the two films are made back to back on a very tight timetable. "Pusher II" is full of poetic abstraction as an attempt to express Tonny's inner torments. 'Pusher III" relies on the repetition of frames, locations, and narrative beats. Except in a few key moments, it's not nearly as hectic as the others. You can't argue with hard-hitting, powerful filmmaking, and that is undoubtedly what's on display here. Refn's movie renders a nasty, harsh existence among the world of criminals competing and scheming well below law enforcement radar.
Buric offers a terrific performance as the unraveling drug lord being steamrolled by demands he is not equipped to deal with. The movie digs deep into the angst of a drug kingpina junkie himselfnagged by business details while being taunted by younger rivals. Like everybody else in the Pusher films, Milo contemplates what it would take to leave the mob life behind. "Pusher III: I'm the Angel of Death" pulls no punches. Viewers beware: it doesn't get much darker than this.
The Machinist (2004)
A mesmerizing performance by Bale.
"The Machinist" is a bleak, psychological and deeply disturbing piece constructed by director Brad Anderson that examines raw terror which lives inside every man. Bale's physical transformation for the role is unreal--he lost 63 pounds. In addition to his radical physical transformation, he provides a marvelously terrifying performance as well. "The Machinist" is an expertly manipulated exercise in psychological horror, as it reveals itself gradually, allowing us the pleasure of slowly putting the fragmented pieces together.
Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) hasn't slept in a year. The shocking deterioration of his physical and mental health make his every waking moment as an unrelenting state of confusion and paranoia. He hallucinates and begins to have trouble discerning reality from fiction, and the story begs the question, "what is real, and what is not?" Neither Trevor nor the audience may answer until the final moments of the film. One man's struggle with his very essence -- living in a state of severe physical decline, confusion, uncertainty, and self-doubt -- represents a horror that supersedes all others.
"The Machinist" looks appropriately dreamy and visually detached from reality. The visuals are subtly hypnotic and the movie seems to reflect Trevor's life, which is devoid of certainty. It presents a surreal series of events surrounded by equally surreal imagery, but remaining ever-so-slightly planted in reality that adds a tremendous amount of doubt and confusion as to where the story is going. The film conveys a state of mind, and Bale does that with disturbing effectiveness. Bale offers a spellbinding and haunting performance from a mental and emotional perspective to his physical transformation as a tortured soul on the brink. Not until the very last moment do the pieces snap into a completed puzzle that's as tight as a steel trap.