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The Counselor (2013)
A all star cast, a well known director and a screenplay by a best selling author, you'd pretty much think this movie had to be great....only it's not. It's mediocre and predictable. It's your standard underworld criminal movie with a few eccentric characters, a lot of wealth thrown around and a central criminal plot. As things progress you kind of expect some action or something to kind of happen but it's really just standard story line that takes you pretty much where you would actually end up given the circumstances. By the end of it, and really through it all you don't really find yourself caring for or even wanting to care for any of the characters or feel much sympathy for them. There is little violence in this movie, which works for me since I'm not a fan of violence but my guessing is that most people who are into this genre loot forward to a few grizzly scenes now and then, and you really won't find much of that there, there is a lot of implication, but only 1 really violent scene. In short, if these types of low end, criminal underworld movies appeal to you, you'll like this, if not, you probably won't.
There isn't really anything new about this movie, it shows the same lonely and detached world that other futuristic movies show, and follows along a somewhat predictable storyline that leaves you feeling somewhat melancholy, yet, it's so good. I suppose that's the beauty of good direction, to really bring a story to life and completely pull you into it, of course it's backed up by an interesting script and great acting, but it's the direction that really puts this a cut above the rest.
As a side note, there is a orange-white theme running through out the movie, I don't know why, but I liked it. Also the outdoor scenes did not look like L.A. to me, it looked much more like China or Singapore.
In short, watch this if you like sad, romantic movies and are willing to welcome futuristic themes.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
It's like a Spring Break party
People might, and unsurprisingly so, go into this movie expecting that it's a stellar drama with fantastic everything, but in reality it's just a giant frat part. Yes, that's right, a frat party, you know the kind, Jackass and all that, yes, this is exactly like that. Sure there is an underlining message, that Wall Street brokers and bankers are soulless money hungry animals, but then we already knew that, and so there was really little need to nail that point in 5000 times in this movie. This sort of has a story, but it's mostly just people doing drugs, having crazy parties and showing the average IQ span of about 50, once again, like the American Pie movies, and when you do eventually find the story it's not that great, pretty much just "guy cons people....gets rich....then gets caught. The story, perhaps because it's so weak, has been filled with endless interludes of Lenardo DeCaprio doing cocaine; he does cocaine of his desk, he does cocaine of a plate, he does cocaine of a hooker's tits, he does cocaine on a boat deck, he does cocaine of his side table, he does cocaine.....oh well you get the picture. In short, watch this if you want to see an amalgamation of the Jackass movies and a Spring Break party.
The Motel Life (2012)
Well it seems like an interesting indie movie on the surface, but in reality the story just fails to establish itself. All through out you can just never really find yourself caring for the characters or what has happened to them. That of course isn't helped by the fact that the acting is quite very poor in places and the directing too seems somewhat amateurish at times although is reasonably acceptable as a whole. The movie is also cluttered with songs, at times you just go from 1 song onto another which is not only annoying, but, in my opinion also takes away some credibility from what is going on. Not to mention that it is plainly obvious that the numerous use of songs is just a cover to try and pull you into a story that can't hold its own. The end is anti- climatic and utterly unsatisfying, leaving you wondering what exactly this whole story was about anyway and why it just bounced around for so long and never really went anywhere. The illustrated cartoons within the movie however are really good, well animated, well narrated and properly manage to capture the setting of the movie and the characters. So in short, watch this if you feel like watching a cavalier, semi- romanticized movie about impoverished life in midland USA.
Summer in February (2013)
This was billed as a period romance, but in reality all it really is is a bunch of people roaming about the British seaside in 1913 with some art and poetry thrown in. The story is so weak and predictable and the characters are so bland even the most ardent Romance lover will end up disappointed. As far as the acting goes, Dominic Cooper is just horrible, and Dan Stevens is duller than cardboard, Emily Browning however, is thankfully somewhat better. I know the story here is based on real life events, and so calling it "weak" might not sound very just, but I feel that it is, for even if they were dealing with common themes and stories they could have at least tried to make them more interesting or even engaging, but sadly they don't. The only good part about it is that you get really beautiful views of the English seaside, so, in short, watch this is you really really really want to spend some time on the English seaside.
Breathe In (2013)
It was okay
A foreign exchange student comes to live with a family in New York and ends up causing trouble and testing the bounds of their relationship. Predictably there is an attraction between her (the student) and the father, he seeing her as opportunity to recapture his failed youth and she seeing him as the father figure she never had.......all standard stuff. The story could have been built up better, because it really just jumps from point A (a foreign exchange student coming) and point B (an attraction between her and the father) in pretty much 5 minutes. Added to that you get a bunch of unrealistic scenarios and a few intense scenes that well....aren't really that intense. What is good about the movie, is the suburban New York setting and lifestyle, the house and the neighborhood were really beautiful and I enjoyed watching the drama play out there, but I don't suppose a lot of people would want to watch a movie just for that. In short, it's an okay movie, but don't expect any surprises or greatness.
The Way Way Back (2013)
Pretty much your standard coming-of-age movie; isolated teenager with a troubled family life finds comfort and friendship with an outside parental figure. It's well done all around with good performances and really flawed parental characters that make you buy into the story more than if it was just the pretense of bad parenting. The ending too is very satisfying, I was afraid it would end in a cheesy everything-is-right-in- the-world-now sort of way, but the ending suited the plot and the story nicely. The 1 downside to the whole thing however was the character of Owen, he is just so exaggerated and unrealistically over the top that, to some extent, he pulls the seriousness and plausibility out of the story. In-spite of that, it's still a good movie, and better than most of the others in the same genre. In short, you'll like this if you like coming- of-age dramas.
Sunlight Jr. (2013)
Dull and depressing.
A small time drama set in small town America.
The movie revolves around Melissa, her handicapped boyfriend and her low-life ex who keeps harassing her. You would think that would lead to an obvious plot line, where the ex steers up things and makes life Hell for them ending in a violent showdown, but no, that doesn't happen. As the movie progresses Melissa gets pregnant and they start facing financial difficulties, and you start to think that the boyfriend or her, desperate for money well end up doing something illegal and get arrested or caught up in something, but no, that doesn't happen. Then Melissa gets put on the graveyard shift at her grocery store job, and you think that she's going to get raped or attacked (probably by the ex) in the night and that's going to be tragic and horrible, but no, that doesn't happen. Melissa and her boyfriend are now so short for money that are forced to go live with Melissa's mother, who rents a house from the low-life ex, you'd think that would lead to the ex taking advantage of them or throw them out or just harassing them more, but no, that doesn't really happen. So what does happen then, well nothing. This is just a dull, sad portrait of life in rural America which will leave you either utterly bored or utterly depressed.
I suppose you could categorize this as a relationship drama, but really that just makes it sound more interesting than it is.
In short, you probably won't like this.
Low Winter Sun (2013)
1 of the best shows of 2013
This is without a doubt 1 of the best dramas of 2013. A compelling story spread out over 10 episodes, with complex characters, a solid storyline and a satisfying ending.
What to me stands out the most about this show is the story. This is not some cheesy drama with bits and pieces stitched together or some crap show where they started off with a good story and then scrambled to fill the pages. There is no scene that doesn't really add up, or make sense in the larger story; There is no little annoying episodic arc story that only lasts a few episodes and doesn't fit in to the greater arc of things; there is no moment where you feel that a character has acted out of turn, said or done something you know that they wouldn't. All those things that make you feel like you're watching some hammy, episodic, so- called-drama which has no substance and will probably carry on for years without going anyway. No, this show is not like that, this for a change, is a good show.
To go along with that, the acting and directing is fantastic. Lennie James is brilliant as Joe Getties, 1 of the most interesting characters to come on TV in the past few years.
Sadly I don't think this show will get picked up for another season, as it always is, very few people appreciate a good thing. Honestly though, I don't mind, it's better to go out on top rather than have multiple season of crap. The show doesn't end in a cliffhanger, or have any loose ends, so even if it does get canceled, this season will still be satisfying to watch.
In short, you'll like this if you like good, fast passed, well told, well acted, drama.
(Season 1 review)
Ain't Them Bodies Saints (2013)
A mood setter.
Well I expected more from this, but then again I usually expect more from things. This basic story, although somewhat cliché, is still good and might have worked if it had been told better. A lot of what takes place seems just to be a general overview of things lacking complexity and intercity, had there been better character development and an a more detailed plot-line, this would have been a good movie. The acting is standard, the characters are pretty flat and so there really isn't much opportunity to compliment or criticize the acting. The directing however is great, it is perhaps what really saves this movie, the slow placed, silent sequenced, coupled with fantastic shots of the rural Texas countryside add structure and really pull you into the story, something that the script sadly does not. In short, you''ll like this if you like minimalist, mood-setting, romanticized drama.