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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Silver Linings Playbook is a refreshing addition to the rom com genre
While most romantic comedies usually contain bad acting, sappiness, and a large amount of predictable moments; Silver Linings Playbook is the exact opposite. There may be a little amount sappiness in this movie but there is bound to be some in any romantic situations. In reality though, all of the sap in Silver Linings Playbook can be overlooked due to the fact that the film is completely original, extremely funny, and contains outstanding acting from the two lead roles.
Written and directed by David O. Russell (The Fighter), Silver Linings Playbook is about a man, played by Bradley Cooper (Limitless, The Hangover), who was just released from an eight month stint in a psychiatric hospital. He wants to get his life back on track but is being held back by his parents and his unstable condition. After a little while, he strikes up an interesting friendship with a female played by Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone, The Hunger Games). Both of these characters are going through somewhat of the same type of problems which makes their friendship even more quirky and thought-provoking.
Because a large amount of romantic comedies are stale and overdone, Silver Linings Playbook is a breath of fresh air. Usually movies in this genre follow a very particular road map that entails: man is at rock bottom but then finds the perfect girl. After a while, man loses girl and must win girl back in a very cliché and unrealistic fashion. What's original about Silver Linings Playbook is that it doesn't follow that mediocre story line in the slightest making it unpredictable but at the same time, more relateable. Chris Tucker is in this movie and even he isn't predictable. Chris Tucker, the loud-mouthed actor who hasn't been in a film without the words 'Rush Hour' in the title for almost 15 years, was surprisingly mellow. Even though he was mellow, he was still very comedic and played a great role in the film.
The most surprising aspect of Silver Linings Playbook, however, was the performance of Bradley Cooper. Even though this is a comedy, Cooper plays what is maybe one of the most serious roles he's ever performed. After audience members witness his work in this film, there shouldn't be any more doubt if the man can act or not. Silver Linings Playbook is without a doubt Cooper's best work thus far in his career. Jennifer Lawrence has a performance of equal caliber but that is expected from the young Academy Award nominated actress. What was surprising about Lawrence's role in the movie, was how adult it was. Fans of Lawrence's work may have been worried that she would be stuck in teenage roles after playing the character Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, but she should silence those doubts after this film with a very adult, yet professional, performance.
Silver Linings Playbook is full of creativity and minimal on romance clichés. It is hands down one of the best romantic comedies to be made within the last couple of years. This film contains many laugh out loud moments and a number of scenes that will warm your heart to the point where you can't help but leave the theater smiling. Silver Linings Playbook is the perfect date movie that both men and women can easily enjoy. A-
Flight is an expert character study
Flight takes off with a pulse pounding opening that sets the tone for the movie. However, Flight is not an action movie but instead is an in-depth character study of an alcoholic. While the film itself is a good story and an interesting analysis of one man's addiction to alcohol, the real treasure of Flight is the superb performance from Denzel Washington.
In Flight, Denzel Washington plays a pilot who must crash land a commercial airliner to save the passengers on board. This may seem like a hero story since Washington was successful in saving the lives of the majority of the passengers. However, the results in Washington's toxicology report showed that he had a large amount of alcohol and cocaine in his system. Suddenly, this turns into a criminal investigation and Washington is faced with the difficult decision of either accepting he has a problem with drugs and alcohol or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Flight is a brilliant character study because throughout the movie you aren't quite sure whether you like Washington or not. The man is a hero but he cannot stop drinking which constantly puts himself and others in danger. The director of Flight, Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away, Forest Gump), successfully makes the audience care about a man that should go to prison. Even though Washington's character is constantly letting you down, you still find yourself rooting for him. A director that is able to accomplish that feeling within his audience is doing a great job at film making and character development.
It is clear that Denzel Washington devoted himself to this character. Every move that Washington made was true and you believed every action his character was doing because Washington was so convincing. This film could have been very boring. After the first half an hour there isn't much action and the story drifts from a plane crash to Washington's struggles with alcohol. This could have been disappointing but instead, the performance of Washington is mesmerizing to the point where you are completely drawn into the film. The film didn't need to continue having as much action as the first part of the film (the plane crash) because watching the development of Washington's character was so interesting.
Even though Washington steals the film, he is backed up with some very respectable supportive acting. Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Ocean's Eleven) plays Washington's attorney and delivers some powerful moments in the film. Although, no one would ever expect a poor performance from Cheadle. John Goodman (Argo, The Artist) plays the comic relief in Flight. Even though Goodman is only in the film for a short amount of time, he delivers some of the best scenes in the movie.
Flight may not be as exciting as some of Denzel Washington's recent movies but it is definitely worth the money. The film is a very accurate portrayal of the struggles and despairs of being an alcoholic. With a fine director and an expert lead role along with many great supporting roles, Flight is a film that shouldn't be missed. The only minor problem with Flight is that it's a little lengthy when it doesn't need to be. Other than that, Flight is a very well made drama. A-
Seven Psychopaths (2012)
Violent, original, gripping, hilarious!
Seven Psychopaths is the best film to come out thus far this fall. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), this movie is a one-two knock out with entertainment around every corner. The movie stars Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson. Colin Farrell plays a writer struggling with a screen play called "Seven Psychopaths." His friend (Rockwell) is desperate to help write the screenplay. In the midst of all of this however, Rockwell also has a business on the side with Christopher Walken where they steal dogs, return them, and collect the reward money. Unfortunately, Rockwell and Walken make the mistake of stealing Woody Harrelson's dog; a psychopath who will stop at nothing to get his Shiatsu back.
This script for this film is one of the most original I've ever seen. There are a lot of twists in this movie plot-wise and genre-wise making it a fantastic, unpredictable adventure. Many would think that a movie that jumps around through different genres would be a bad thing, but this movie is so fluid and every plot point connects so well, that you aren't bothered in the slightest about deciding what the genre is of this film. A film with the title Seven Psychopaths promises intense violence and you will get that, but not just that. This is not a mindless movie that uses just blood as entertainment. This is a smart movie that has plot and meaning. Yes, it's violent but there is also drama and a surprising amount of comedy. This is without a doubt, the funniest movie I have seen this year. The dialog in this film is perfect. All of the characters have a certain wit to them, delivering lines that are beyond hilarious.
The acting is superb. Christopher Walken is the best he's been in years. This could very well be one of my favorite performances from him. I liked Woody Harrelson in this movie more than I liked him in Zombie Land. I applaud Sam Rockwell for being in this movie. He is just so funny in this role and plays it perfectly. There couldn't have been a better cast for this film. Everyone was flawless.
If you enjoy creative writing, talented acting, and movies that are all-around completely original, then I encourage you to see this movie. Martin McDonagh has outdone himself and made an incredible movie. Seven Psychopaths is a must see. A+
Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
Was this movie really necessary?
Been there, done that is the attitude I had walking into Paranormal Activity 4 . However, I left the movie not hating it as much as I thought I would. Don't get wrong, there are a lot of problems in Paranormal Activity 4 but there is still some fun to be had. Don't expect to feel sheer terror while sitting through this movie. If you do expect that out of the fourth installment of this franchise then shame on you. Honestly, go into Paranormal Activity 4 with the lowest expectations possible and you might somewhat enjoy it.
Paranormal Activity 4 stars Kathryn Newton, a new addition to the franchise. The film takes place five years after the ending of Paranormal Activity 2 where Katie escapes with baby Hunter. Newton plays a young girl named Alex. Alex lives across the street from a strange a boy named Robbie who lives with his mother that no one seems to have ever met or seen. One night when Robbie's mother needs to be taken to the hospital, Alex's family decides to take Robbie into their home to watch him. However, the longer Robbie is staying in this house, the more Alex starts noticing strange occurrences.
Many of the scares in Paranormal Activity 4 are pretty generic. By that, I mean it follows some of the standard cliché jump scares. For example, Alex is sitting still on her bed when all of a sudden something grabs her and pulls her away really fast. But after that jumpiness subsides, we come to realize that nothing really happened and it was just her boyfriend pulling a prank on her. These are called fake-out scares and there are a ton of these in Paranormal Activity 4. Those kind of scares frustrate me because they aren't actually scary. It's just a loud noise and I consider it lazy. What did surprise me with this movie is that it contained a few moments that were actually scary. Some of these moments include times when you are looking at the screen and you are almost positive that something is going to jump out at you, but instead something really creepy happens. There are two things I like about that: one, it's finally something that I can't predict in a scary movie (if I predict that something is going to jump out at me and it actually happens, then where's the fun in that) and two, I can actually say, "Wow that was creepy," instead of, "Wow that was loud." I'm not going to give an actual example of this from Paranormal Activity 4 because I don't want to ruin the best scares of the movie for you.
Paranormal Activity 4 is actually pretty comical at times which is another thing I liked. There is nothing wrong with trying to lighten the mood in a horror film for some brief moments. It made the movie a little bit more fun to attend. There is one major problem with this movie though and that is the ending. It felt like Joost and Schulman (the directors) said to each other, "Well the film just reached the hour and a half marker so let's just end it." For those who don't know, the Paranormal Activity franchise is filmed in a found-footage style so in order for us to see this ending, a character needs to be holding a camera. The ending is the only time that there is no need for someone to be holding a camera. The rest of the movie is filmed using innovative ideas such as an X-Box Kinnect sensor or a web-cam but during the ending, Alex is holding a camera the whole time when any other human with a brain would have dropped the camera a long time ago.
Even though there are some good moments in Paranormal Activity 4, I hope this is the last installment of the franchise. The reason I say that is because this is the first movie that doesn't add anything to the overall story. In the other movies, you at least learn something new about the demon and its history but this film is just the demon terrorizing a new family. Since there is nothing new to add to the story, that means it is only going to get worse from here if the franchise continues. Unfortunately, there isn't a doubt in my mind that there will be a Paranormal Activity 5 because four will make money. The line for the screening was out the door of the theater. So if you're expecting a really terrifying movie with a gripping story then I suggest to stay away from Paranormal Activity 4 but if you want to see a semi-entertaining movie with your friends where you'll have to completely ignore logic and just appreciate the most you can get out of the film, then you might have a good time. C
Alex Cross (2012)
Alex Cross fails miserably
Finally, a Tyler Perry movie that is actually funny. For those who don't know, however, Alex Cross is not meant to be a comedy. It's supposed to be a serious action/drama. With all of its cheesy moments, corny dialog, and doubtful plot points, Alex Cross misses entirely.
Alex Cross stars Tyler Perry as an expert detective who is about to embark on his most difficult case. The case is to track down a deranged psycho-killer played by Matthew Fox. Matthew Fox enjoys torturing people to death and playing mind games with the detectives that are on his trail. I would like to say more about the plot of this movie but sadly, there isn't much more to tell. It's that basic. You'd think a plot where a genius detective is facing an intelligent serial killer would have more complexity, but it doesn't.
There are a lot of problems with Alex Cross. For starters, the script may as well have been written by a thirteen year old. This is probably one of the worst scripts of the year. In order to buy this script, you just have to believe everything the characters say with no explanation. The character Alex Cross never proves that he's smart. The audience is just supposed to believe he's smart because other characters say so. Cross just throws out theories without backing them up and of course, they turn out to be right. For example, when Cross and his partner (Edward Burns) walk into the first handful of murders committed by Matthew Fox, Burns guesses that this must have been the work of multiple guys. Cross replies, "Nope. This was one guy." Does he bother to explain why he feels that way? Nope. In another example, Fox is on a train and Burns comes up to Cross and says, "You need to get in his head and think like him. If you were him, where would you be?" Cross thinks and then exclaims, "He's on a train!" Care to enlighten us on how you arrived to that realization Dr. Cross? The problem is, the writers clearly aren't smart enough to come up with ways for their characters to solve the case. Because this movie is so poorly written, it is unbelievably predictable. I'm no Alex Cross, but I knew exactly what was going to happen throughout the film. Literally, every scene can be predetermined by a first time viewer.
Not only is there terrible writing, but there was also terrible directing. Matthew Fox and Edward Burns are both very good actors, but they can't do anything under poor direction. Everyone in this movie is horrendous except for one person and that's Tyler Perry. I found this very surprising because I can't stand Tyler Perry's work and I thought he would be the worst thing about the movie. However, he is the only thing that can be considered somewhat decent in the movie. You can tell Perry wants to branch out but unfortunately, he can only do the best with what he was given. There were so many bad decisions made by the director. For emotion, he tries to add some family value by adding in an old sassy black woman as character. Thankfully, this character was not played by Tyler Perry. Another terrible idea was to have the camera constantly shaking because that's an action movie cliché that everyone loves (sarcasm). The camera was shaking during the most still moments. For example, the camera was shaking ferociously when, I kid you not, a woman was typing on her computer. Perhaps one of the worst decisions from the director though, was to throw in a twist at the end. Not only did he add a twist, but he made it glaringly obvious.
The only reason anyone might find Alex Cross appealing is because they get a kick out of watching bad movies or they really might enjoy seeing Tyler Perry try and do something different. Other than that, there is absolutely no reason to see this film. The acting is horrific, the dialog is idiotic, the action sequences are poorly choreographed, and the plot is 100% predictable. This movie is so bad, that you will find yourself laughing at moments when you're supposed to be either gasping or crying. D
Sinister is creepy at times but still delivers some cheap scares
Just because something pops into a screen and makes a loud noise, doesn't necessarily make it scary. Most of us are more afraid of what we don't know. If you are on the edge of your seat because you are creeped out and you are anticipating something, but you aren't quite sure what that thing is going to be, then you are really scared. However, if you are anticipating a loud noise and then that noise that you are braced for actually happens, then you aren't scared at all. Predictable jump scares can ruin a movie.
Sinister is the latest horror film coming out this weekend that stars Ethan Hawke. Hawke plays a crime novelist that has just decided to move into a home where a family was murdered. He is hoping he can uncover something about the case so he has a story for his new book. During his investigation, he stumbles upon some old super 8 footage in his attic. After watching some of this disturbing footage, strange and unexplained events start occurring in his home.
There were parts of Sinister that I loved and then there were parts that I absolutely hated. There were moments in Sinister that were very creepy and I was genuinely scared. I was even thinking to myself, "Finally, a horror movie that is actually scaring me without resulting to cheap jumpy noises." Unfortunately, there are a lot of parts in Sinister, that lead up to cliché horror moments. For example, you hear a dull thud. The character goes to investigate and the music is slowly building up. He stops to peer into the darkness and the music comes to a quiet. After a long pause, BOOM! A face appears and a crash or a loud instrument sound erupts into your eardrums making you jump out of your seat. How many times have we seen that before? When you're expecting it, it's not scary.
Jump scares make me furious. I'm not mad because the movie startled me; I'm mad because this is lazy writing. Anyone can throw a loud moment into a scary movie. It takes real creativity to come up with something that is truly scary and completely unexpected. Fortunately, there are some of those creative moments that a fan of horror movies can appreciate. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of aspects of this movie that I enjoyed. I was very pleased with the performance of Ethan Hawke. Also, the music in Sinister is awesome. It has an edgy feel to it and it really sucks you into the scene you're watching.
Sinister could have been a fantastic horror movie and a breath of fresh air to a dying genre. The movie really did have a lot of good direction and great pacing with very scary moments. I will say that there are a tad more of the actual terrifying moments instead of the dull predictable moments making this more of a good movie than bad. For some reason though, the director decided he needed to throw in some clichés which may work for some viewers but will definitely anger the true fans of horror. B-
Three in a row for Mr. Affleck!
Argo, the third feature directed by Ben Affleck, is simply stunning. Taking place during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, Argo takes your breath away as it very accurately portrays the covert CIA operation, led by Ben Affleck, to extract six American hostages. In the midst of the Iran hostage crisis, six American citizens escaped out the back exit the of the U.S. Embassy. They took hiding in the Canadian Ambassador's home but were very much in danger as they were constantly being looked for by Iranian soldiers. CIA extractor Tony Mendez (Affleck) hatches a scheme to disguise the six citizens and himself as a Canadian film crew scouting Iran as a location for a fake movie called "Argo." The plan is then for them to hopefully sneak back into USA using the Iran International Airport, leading to a nail-biting finish.
At this point, Ben Affleck is a supreme director. The first two movies he directed (Gone Baby Gone and The Town) were outstanding and he has now outdone himself with his latest installment, Argo. Though Argo is not as gritty as the previous films directed by Affleck, the intensity level is just as high. As a viewer, you will have to wait patiently for the climax to build but I can assure you, you will be rewarded with one of the most tense movie experiences this year. Ben Affleck did a very nice job of letting the plot grow and develop on its own. You don't feel forced to care about these stranded American citizens. Instead, the movie sucks you into their dilemma and the film grows so organically that you find yourself worried and scared for these people without even realizing it. Even if you know the story, you will still be left in shock and awe as you witness this adaptation of the courageous mission that took place. Kudos to Ben Affleck for drawing me in and not letting go.
You may feel confused when watching Argo for the first 45 minutes of the movie. Like I said, the plot slowly builds. By this I mean, it almost seems like comedy for a brief period. Ben Affleck is trying to pitch a fake movie with Alan Arkin and John Goodman and there are some moments that are pretty hilarious. However, this part of the movie is very necessary as it lets the story shape into an exciting thriller with a huge pay-off.
Unlike Affleck's previous movies where the action is in, well, the action of the characters, in Argo, the action is all in the dialog. This is done with superb acting under the helm of Affleck. This is by far the best performance from Affleck thus far in his career. Bryan Cranston was amazing in this movie too but honestly, when isn't Bryan Cranston amazing? Cranston is one of the best actors around today and he shows that in this film. The best thing about Argo is that everything (the script, the performances, the dialog) was all very real.
Argo is an Oscar worthy picture. It really is a movie event at its finest and gives you hope for the future of film making. I will have to say that The Town is a little bit better of a movie but Argo is still a damn good film that leaves me eager to see what Ben Affleck does next. You do not want to miss this exciting political thriller. A+