Reviews written by registered user
aciessi

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215 reviews in total 
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Stick-men or Straw-men?, 18 October 2017
5/10

What starts out as a fascinating character study and inventive crime thriller becomes a by-the- numbers caper with a phony story about father and daughter. Almost completely abandoning the fact that Cage's character has a devastating case of OCD. In terms of story structure and character development, this is a huge error. Nicholas Cage is at his all-time best when he gets into the character of Roy. His ticks and his habits. It's Leaving Las Vegas good. If he isn't fully functioning person, commit to it and take the situation as far as it could go. Ridley Scott decided to play it safe. Ultimately, we suffer with a scattershot film. Arguably, a forgotten Ridley Scott film and it's easy to see why. Considering a man with titles like Alien and Blade Runner under his belt, Matchstick Men almost seems like amateur hour.

Southern Fried Murder, 18 October 2017
10/10

The Coen Bros. have had their heyday long before the release of No Country for Old Men. Had they left the 90's burnt out, it would've been completely understandable. But 10 years ago, they crafted an ingenious comeback by making perhaps the most convincing, powerful film about pure evil in history. No Country for Old Men is one of the greatest films ever made.. but you already knew that. I'm sort of late to catching up to this one and I regret it entirely. Visually speaking, it captures the darkness of our world in ways no film has ever been capable of. In terms of acting, it absolutely soars. Broiln and Jones are incredible. Javier Bardem is terrifying as Anton. He eats at your soul. As far as films that depict serial killers, this is as real as it gets. Right down to his weapon of choice, an air-powered captive bolt gun. The savagery is what gets me the most.

No Country for Old Men explains to us in no uncertain terms how malicious and conniving humanity can be. What's even better is the fact that movies like these aren't rare to come by. They've been made time and again. The Coens just decided to make one more. Bless them for it.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Smuggler's Rhapsody, 10 October 2017
9/10

It's been advertised as another dopey Tom Cruise action movie. In reality, American Made is the true story of Barry Seal given the full GoodFellas treatment. Yes, this film is in the tradition of such Scorsese inspired biopics of the past decade. It shares the political intrigue of War Dogs, the border smuggling decadence of Blow, the high octane energy of The Wolf of Wall Street and the comedic chops of The Big Short. It's deja-vu for sure, but who the hell cares? Real life is a Scorsese movie. Deal with it.

You will sit back and giggle with glee as this is, evidently, the best thing Tom Cruise has been involved with in years. He soars as Barry Seal. He captures the "aw-shucks" naiveté of a southern airline pilot way in over his head in a massive CIA conspiracy that at least 4 U.S. Presidents were complicit in. American Made takes no prisoners as it mocks political corruption and hypocrisy. But like GoodFellas and all the biopics after it, it tells the timeless story of just how far man will go to achieve unspeakable riches and the fatal cost of it all. Doug Liman makes the film fast and loose, especially on the cutting room floor. Between shaky, documentary style cinematography are countless archival clips from news reports, presidential speeches, pop-culture and even mock VHS recordings of Barry himself. Everything moves at lightning speed. This is a biopic for the age of the smartphone. You won't be distracted by anything. Fall 2017 has already proved to be a comeback season for moviegoers and American Made has already fallen under the radar in favor of other great films. Don't miss it.

5 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
A Beautiful Visual Feat, 6 October 2017
8/10

Blade Runner. An 80's futuristic film noir that some filmgoers revere as one of the all-time great films.. with a caveat. Which of the endings did you see? The right one? or the really bad happy ending? Few films give the viewers their own personal ultimatum for the characters, but the first Blade Runner was that indecisive. So is it then, wise to give Blade Runner a 35 year old sequel/reboot? It apparently is. It turns out that Denis Villeneuve was destined to make it and truth be told, if you never saw the first Blade Runner, never fear. This is a film entirely of it's own.

Blade Runner 2049 is the best looking film of the year. In terms of it's cinematography, it is a masterpiece. The production design brings us back to the incredible world that Ridley Scott introduced us to, but expands upon it exponentially. Our world is almost entirely replaced by holograms. 2049 focuses in on the idea of a society completely removed from humanity, where perfect virtual realities and artificial romances take the place of the human condition. Villeneuve and Roger Deakins work wonders on the ideas and the mis-en-scene that surrounds them. What we get is a film, though bloated in run time, fascinating from beginning to end. You will spend nearly three-hours in the theater, but entirely fixated on the image. You don't want to keep your eyes off of it. I know I didn't.

Stronger (2017/I)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Boston Strong, 4 October 2017
8/10

Man's inhumanity to man is something none of us will ever understand. This week, America is reeling from the worst mass shooting in it's recent history, topping only the last record setting mass shooting just one year ago. All seems hopeless to those who only see the worst in humanity in times like these. But in tragedy's wake, typically, heroes are born. First responders, police officers and yes, the victims themselves. Stronger is a film about such people. Stronger is the film of the moment and a film we desperately need at this moment.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jeff Bauman, the famous man who lost both of his legs in the horrific Boston Marathon Bombing of 2013. He miraculously survives, despite his legs, and instantly becomes the symbol of the "Boston Strong" movement. Throughout, Bauman deals with becoming famous and living a newly disabled life, all the while stuck with the excruciating memory of the moment his legs were blown up in the bombing. It doesn't take long for a devastating case of PTSD to kick in. Despondent towards his family and friends, Bauman slips into alcoholism, laziness and carelessness which results in him getting his girlfriend pregnant. Not only does he endure an unrelenting pain, but he inflicts it on everyone that is near him. But after meeting his first responder Carlos, Bauman is finally reminded of how important he truly means to everyone around him. Hero or not, legless or not, he gave hope to all of those who lost hope in the face of terrorism and evil.

Stronger itself provides the same amount of hope to it's viewers, as well as capturing a grueling, painful account of rehabilitation. Gyllenahaal, despite being an abled human being, knocks it out of the park as the disabled Jeff Bauman. Tatiana Maslany also gives a stirring performance as the emotionally spent Erin. David Gordon Green gives a seasoned directing expert's approach to the tragedy of the Boston Bombing and the true story of Jeff Bauman. To those with a heavy heart following Las Vegas, make it an effort to see Stronger wherever you can.

It (2017/I)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
We'll All Float On, 22 September 2017
9/10

You'll float too.

You'll be floating on air after seeing It. The creepiest, coolest film of 2017 so far. Easily, the most entertaining popcorn horror film in ages. Most of today's horror genre consists of dull jump-scare ghost movies and gnarly gore fests. It takes us back to the golden age of Horror, the 1980's. The film takes place sometime in 1989, complete with soundtrack and memorabilia. But the film itself could've easily been made in 89'. It's scary without being gratuitous. It's funny, without being a comedy. It's over-the-top, without being purposely terrible. It's got a standout cast of profane kids. Think of Stand By Me or The Goonies. You will sit back and smile away. You'll say to yourself "If only every movie could be this way!".

Pennywise, while not played by the incomparable Tim Curry, is freighting in his new incarnation by Bill Skarsgard. This clown isn't a jokester. He's a shape shifting homicidal maniac and this time, that's a good thing. We have both versions and you can compare which one is superior if you wish, but you must concede that both are entirely different takes on the character and each stand on their own merits. The jump-scares all work here, which is something I don't usually say for horror movies. The creatures that Pennywise turns into are all terrifying and awe-inspiring. You may jump out of your seat, but you will appreciate the nuance.

Seeing It in a large theater is also something you shouldn't go without doing. The audience reactions are priceless. The screams, the laughs, the shout outs! DON'T GO IN THERE! It was made to be a sheer crowd pleasure. An event of a movie and we sure are in need more of those.

Mother! (2017)
133 out of 239 people found the following review useful:
Moab (Mother of all Box-Office Bombs), 16 September 2017
9/10

These days, we live in a world where most things are terrible and don't make any sense. Yet, a film like Mother! can still come along and disgust audiences. A film so off-putting, Rex Reed declared it "The worst film of the century". Make no mistake, Mother! is a profoundly polarizing film. But that is only because it went mainstream. It stars mainstream actors. It's distributed by Paramount. In recent years, the art-house and the multiplex have never crossed paths. But as the era of the blockbuster fades away, it was only a matter of time for Hollywood to return back to it's roots. To bring us back to the late 1960's, where most films meant something. Films that grab you. Films that push serious boundaries. I rarely leave a theater shaken. But Mother! did just that. It is a beautiful, terrifying assault on your senses.

Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a lovely couple. Bardem is a struggling poet, while Lawrence tends to her house obsessively. Everything seems fine on the surface. What's that, you ask? The house has a heart! I admit the deed! Tear up the planks! Here, here! It's the beating of his hideous heart! ... and scene. Thank you for indulging me. No seriously, the house has a heart.. and internal organs. It's a living entity. I heard of the phrase "Home is where the heart is" but this is ridiculous. Is it? Lawrence plays someone that wants to be a mother to something. Her house? What happens when adoring fans come rushing in to see Bardem? Unwelcome visitors all! They wreck the house and impede on Lawrence's hard work. This must not go on. To fill the void, Bardem and Lawrence conceive a child. As the days go on, the guest list becomes bigger and bigger. By the film's midpoint, the house becomes a small city of thieves and squatters. After that, I must not share anymore. Because if you're already confused by what I'm telling you.. you don't know what confused is, my friend.

How does one interpret Mother! It's the quintessential art-house/midnight movie. Therefore, anything is plausible. Aronofsky intended it that way. He juggles many concepts and critiques about life itself. Motherhood, paranoia, fame, claustrophobia, selfishness, lust, rage, war, peace, religion, gender, history.. Mother! is whatever you want it to be and more. If you know that going in, this will be a breeze. If you don't, you will loathe every second of this film and I won't blame you. It is a lot to swallow. The climax of the picture is well orchestrated insanity. Arguably, the most intense sequence of events captured on screen since Children of Men. By comparison, Requiem for a Dream is almost entirely palpable. You sit back in your seat and think "Enough already. This is too much. Wow. It's not stopping. Please stop.". But that is precisely the point. Aronofsky does not let up until you are mentally drained from watching. But at least to ease some of the pain, you see a lot of Jennifer Lawrence's face, up-close. Most of the film is on her face. In real life, she is in a relationship with Aronofsky. Coincidence? No, not a coincidence. This is the mark of a filmmaker madly in love with his star. On an emotional level, that shows.

Mother! is not a film to go into blind.. but that certainly helps the experience. Polarizing, disturbing films are not crowd pleasures by any stretch, but that's never been an area that bothers me. Films like these fascinate me. Their lack of decorum fascinates me. The reactions from the audience fascinate me. On Lars Von Trier's best day, he couldn't have conjured a film like Mother! .. and if he did, he would've have let it be seen in a shopping mall.

zzzzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzzz, 8 September 2017
3/10

If you came for Bill Murray, you won't be too disappointed. If you came for anything else, keep walking. This is phony, feel-good, message-at-the-end, holiday season trite. It's Hollywood's interpretation of "the struggle" of the average suburban kid moving to the big city. How many times have we seen that? When Bill Murray is on screen, it felt like Bad Santa with none of the filthy language and disgusting antics. Without Murray, it's a Lifetime network cut of a lost Judd Apatow movie. Chris O'Dowd even plays a Irish-Catholic school teacher... uh, typecasting much? A half hour was all I needed. It wasn't going to get any better.

Big Eyes (2014/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not Keen on Keane, 8 September 2017
4/10

I've said time and again that Tim Burton's dark quirkiness can be quite grating. But never has he made a movie so sorely missing it than Big Eyes. If you've seen any kind of biopic, you've already seen Big Eyes. Anyone could've made this film. If you didn't tell me who directed it, I would've never guessed Tim Burton. A wonderfully twisted world is waiting to be explored from Margaret Keane's haunting paintings, but that world is never discovered. Amy Adams is always a striking cinematic figure, but Burton doesn't allow her to bring that much life or personality into Margaret Keane. Christoph Waltz is Walter Keane and unfortunately this is his least convincing role. Hard to believe and even harder to watch, Waltz chews up the scenery, but brings no nuance to Walter Keane, other than being manic and insecure. He has captured the silver screen as a cold-blooded Nazi and a cunning bounty hunter, but playing an everyday schnook proves to be too oppressive for Waltz. I wasn't moved or engaged. The opportunity for a feminist revenge tale is hinted at early on, but the film gives up on it halfway through.

Shave and a Haircut., 8 September 2017
8/10

Tim Burton and I have a rough past. I've admired some of his dark/quirky films that spark from the most creative of places (Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride), while I've thoroughly detested some of the others (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland). He's a director who's unique touch hasn't always hit the mark. But Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a career high point. It is his bloodiest, darkest film to date and it is nearly his best. If you've noticed, my soft spot for musicals continues.. I honestly can't explain. Adapting from Steven Sondheim's genius Broadway creation, Sweeny Todd comes alive. Johnny Depp is electric. His performance here is tied with his portrayal of Hunter S. Thompson as his all-time best. He was born to sing, quite frankly. All of the others shine from Carter, to Cohen to the late Alan Rickman. The lyrics shake you to the core and the imagery shocks you as it cascades in blood. Sweeney Todd is a cut above the rest (rimshot).


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