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Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Matthew McConaughey is fantastic in this one
Sex addict, junky, drunk, redneck, racist, homophobe, trash, scum, asshole, prick, one of the many adjectives that define our protagonist in Dallas Buyers Club. In fact through out the film our protagonist never changes except for one thing - will to live. Amazingly, we love this guy throughout the film. This film appears to be the Gran Torino of this year.
If someone went up to me five years ago and were to tell me that Matthew McConaughey will be one of the finest actors in 2014 I would of not only laughed but would have gotten angry. But it's true. Our shirtless texan would win actor of the year at the Roscars (Ryan + Oscars). He's in two Oscar nominated films (Dallas Buyers Club and The Wolf on Wall street) and in a very underlooked film called "Mud" which he also excels most performances this year.
Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée who really hasn't put out anything worth caring about is a true story (kind of a rag to riches of human nature) of Ron Woodroof. A gambler of bull riding (rides a pretty good streak because if he loses he usually just runs) that lives day to day and tomorrow isn't a certainty until he receives news that he is HIV positive.
Given only 30 days to live he ignores every doctors orders and finds his own cure by visiting Mexico and finding a non FDA approved substance that prolongs his life. He smuggles this back into the United States dressed as a reverend and swears it's for his own use. He sells it on the black market saving many other AIDS patience teaming up with Rayon (Jared Leto) a cross dressing faggot - words of Ron.
Ron learns not only learns how life is precious but also accepts (I use this term loosely) homosexuals, cross dressers etc. Calling it Dallas Buyers Club allowing people to join with 400 dollars for a month of meds. Making lots of money and extending others' lives until the FDA shuts him down.
Dallas Buyers Club is a comedy by most means but it is an excellent character study and you'll get plenty of private moments with Ron. Jennifer Garner plays Eve, a doctor that attempts to befriend Ron while keeping her job at the same time which doesn't approve of Ron's new business. Probably her best performance since "Juno".
The movie definitely mocks the FDA (Food drug administration) which is the villain in the movie. One of the best lines in the movie when Ron is called a "common drug dealer" he responds "Oh, I'm the drug dealer? No, you're the F*****' drug dealer. I mean, goddamn, people are dyin'. And y'all are up there afraid that we're gonna find an alternative without you." The FDA is nothing but a business. Ron shops in a grocery store and tears up every bit of food which has the "FDA approved" slogan but still reeks of pesticides and unnatural hormones. Excellent screenplay in this one.
I think I might start giving most actors that I had the displeasure of watching before another shot. It took Matthew McConaughey till he he was 45 to take better scripts (roles that require the shirt on most the story). I have to admit this is my favorite acting performance this year. Even over the great "12 years a Slave".
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
A simple story with complicated results of kind of a rag to riches feel but with lots of f-bombs and cocaine. Martin Scorsese brings back his protégé Leonardo DiCaprio who stars as Jordan Belfort.
Perhaps one of the funniest hooks in years we see a midget about to smash into a target with a large group of midget-fancy idiots cheering him on. Belfort's voice over (only Scorsese can do voice over this good) explains his love for drugs, sex and of course money.
Belfort lives in a small apartment with his wife trying to provide for his wife as a stock broker but after an amazing words of advice by his coked-out boss Mark Hanna (brilliantly played by Matthew McConaughey) he quickly embarks into the world as a successful broker. Though he his work goes under he finds penny stocks and successfully manipulates people into buying garbage slots after he learns he can take 50% commission. This giving him the money to build his own emperor and the real fun begins when he meets the bizarre Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill).
Greed is an understatement for Belfour after falling in love with a barbie-like blond, divorcing his wife, illegally earning money, but he does do good as he takes in a lot of single moms and down-on-luck employees and we still love the guy know matter how many coke lines he sniffs off of hookers.
The supporting cast is brilliant as in most Scorsese films. Himself and a few other directors only can get the best out of anyone but his screenplay is even better here. In fact, the whole time I was on the edge of my seat waiting excitedly for the next ridiculous, comical, out of control dialogue that was to be delivered next. One of the best paced three hour films I've ever seen even over "Blue is the warmest color" (Great year for the three hour mark).
Fantastic direction even though I'm not sure how accurate this film really is. The most comical scene being when Belfour was so drugged up he had to literally crawl to his car and somehow managed to drive "perfectly home without a scratch." But the scene with Balfour and Agent Patrick Denham was my favorite and smartest written. Both on different levels of dialogue and perfectly executed in everyday.
Easily be in my top five for the year and Scorsese's best film since the Departed.
9.25/10 - TGW
The Convincer (2011)
cop out ending
Very similar to Fargo we have Thin Ice. A cocky convincing insurance agent (Kinnear) thinks he's found his answer to all his problems when he finds out that after making a sale with a senile, lonely, old man (Arkin) that the old man has a violin worth thousands. Everything goes to plan to steal the violin until he meets a locksmith.
So here's the thing. We have an engaging thriller. Each scene does an excellent job escalating keep you biting your fingernails. You don't think anything could get worst but it always seems to. In fact it's very awkward and nerve racking.
Kinnear does an excellent job playing a sleazy salesman where at times literally steals and manipulate his clients. He's ahead of the game and for some reason we root for him. (Not sure about the unnecessary voice over) Arkin does an excellent job as the lovable elder man whom seems to only have a few years left in the tank. And then there is Billy Crudup, the crazy psychotic locksmith.
I got to tell you I loved this film. Well that is until the last ten minutes which not only left my jaw drop in disgust but also to many critics. It completely ruins the great performances and tone of the film. In fact, I hated the ending.
But all in all it was a good ride for a while.
My rating: 5.75/10 or C+
Postia pappi Jaakobille (2009)
small cast with a huge message
Very simple story, Leila (Hazard) gets pardoned from jail and gets a simple job and a roof over her head by working for the blind Father Jaakob (Nousiainen). The job is very simple. All she has to do is take care of him which isn't much and help him with his favorite past time which is read and write letters that come to him.
Quickly you learn to love father Jaakob and understand he is just as human as everyone else is. Right off the bat we understand that there is some type of anger stored inside of Leila's head while we also wonder how she made it to jail in the first place. She also seems to neglect every time Jaakob offers some words of wisdom.
The only other supporting character that we see throughout the 75 minute film is the postman (Keinonen). He has seemed to of developed a close relationship with father Jaakob over the years and loves seeing Jaakob's face light up when he delivers the mail. Of course Leila doesn't seem to be to happy with the man on the bike.
It's a simple film. It is much like the simpleness of The Bycycle Thief as of both movies will keep you intrigued throughout the whole film.
Very enjoyable. My rating 8.5/10 or A-
This one stuck with me for a while
Just like Kickass, Defendor, Special, etc., Super was just as enjoyable and still able to stand out and add new material to the Super hero with out no powers group. It's more violent than the others and has laugh out loud moments but what exactly is the tone of this film? We know the plot. Frank (Wilson) becomes the Crimson Bolt after his wife (Tyler) is literally stolen by the drug-lord pimpish Jacques (Bacon). After watching the corny bible action hero The Holy Avenger (Fillion) he goes on a quest to hide behind dumpsters and wait for some crime to happen. Equipped with a monkey wrench, he eventually teams up with Libby/Boltie (Page).
At first this movie looks like a low budget version of the films announced in the beginning but as we progress into the movie our two heroes become more and more violent and literally insane especially Libby which was creepily played by Page. When it comes down to almost beating a man to death and even his annoying girlfriend for cutting in line, the dark comedy really escalates. We ask the question "Why are we rooting for these two?" We should be labeling them as kind of pathetic or psychotic.
It's nice to see Rain Wilson do a film like this. I didn't see Dwight from the office but a depressed man who simply wants his life back. Frank is very religious (watching the Holy Avenger played brilliantly by Fillion - the few scenes he was in) and tries to ask God what's his next step in life. We know that he was a "geek" in is younger years but how does he land Tyler - which is answered in the film.
Page is a very underrated actress. She picks her roles wisely. Once in a while finding that blockbuster (Inception) but this film you know she wasn't paid much and same to the rest of the cast. But her character Libby is very innocent and that plays along well with the message that Gunn might be trying to establish. She's only twenty two. We don't know too much about her except she hangs out with a bunch of pot smokers. She doesn't seem to care about the direction she's going but just in the moment.
I've never seen Slither. I hear it's also a dark comedy but the reviews are split in half usually asking the question "What is Gunn trying to do in this movie?" The unusual shift changes of comedy and drama has you wondering but those who can answer the question will probably end up enjoying this film. At first when I left the theater I was happy and upbeat. But during the hour and a half ride home - I believe I figured it out. I was actually kind of depressed that I did. Violence isn't something to laugh at but you can't help to in this film. Is this suppose to be a dark comedy? I didn't find Taxi Driver funny (which seems to be a closer comparison than the list of films I mentioned).
Check this little film out. 8.5/10 or B+
Hey, finally a thriller where the phones work!
Not predictable but thrilling and a fine piece of film making, Monsters works very well with very little budget it has to offer. We were impressed that District 9 was only done for about 30+ million - try 800 thousand!
Very simple plot, photographer Andrew Kaulder has to escort his boss's high maintenance daughter across the border. We know it's not going to be easy (the title kind of gives it away). Hell, we know what type of relationship that our two main characters will be having. Oh well, I'll let it slide for this one.
We are thrown into the after effects of the infected zone. Most houses are in crumbles and everything that requires moving to safety cost a ridiculous amount of money. But is it really only the monsters that are creating this mess? In fact, who are the monsters really?
I'm still in awe with the world they created with the little budget. Gareth Edwards should have a very nice future ahead of him. It's a very solid piece of filmmaking and best yet, it wasn't as predictable as I expected.
my verdict 7.5/10 or Grade B
The Parking Lot Movie (2010)
They rant for us
I've never worked at a parking lot before but I've had a very similar job at a private owned video store arguing with customers over late fees etc. I'd sit there all day doing nothing - sometimes even sleep.
It's amazing what people would do not to pay a dollar. Some one would argue in the film that she was only there for five minutes and would not pay the 1.00 fee. Someone at the video store would bring a movie back late and would refuse to pay a 1.00 late fee. It's frustrating but a lot of us have been there.
My favorite part of the film was the parking lot crew's understanding on frat kids. How they throw up all over there cars drunk off their ass but yet somehow become our next senator or lawyer.
The guys at the parking lot don't want your trouble or your sorrow. They just want to get through the day.
Check this little film out. Grade: B or 8/10
Entre nos (2009)
A mother left by her husband has to face raising her children with no money. Like a very low budget version of Pursuit of Happiness, this film works because it was truer and grittier (nothing against The Pursuit of Happiness).
Paola Mendoza is excellent. We feel for the entire time. We are always alone with her. Her children cooperate with her. I'm pretty sure 99% of most children would react a lot differently. They are with her when she collects/sell cans. They are with her when she sleeps. They are with her when she looks for another job.
The music really holds this thing together. There are times where I get tired of the suffering but the music reminds us that there is still hope.
A nice little piece of film making. 7.25/10 or B
Black Swan (2010)
To become the black swan . . .
Not many movies do I sit through the credits but this was one of them. I now have a new respect for Natalie Portman whom I never was too impressed by in the past. She was something special in this one.
What would you go through to be the best? Nina (Portman) is a very good dancer but according to her teacher, Thomas (Cassel) she is just a one dimensional dancer. If she's going to be the swan princess than she'll have to experience nightmares at their worst.
Portman was just wonderful. Her and Mila Kunis spent hours a day for months to get the credibility of appearing as actual dancers and it shows. Portman plays a selfish but motivated girl who is treated like a 12 year old by her mom (Barbara Hershey). Her mom is secretly disappointed by having to end her career for her little girl. Everything is going great for Nina until she meets Lily (Mila Kunis). We all root for Nina even if she is very spoiled.
The movie acts almost like a thriller/horror but it's so carefully worked by Darren Aronofsky who doesn't seem to know how to make a bad movie. As the film continues to run, the more you want to know how it ends. This being something that films can't seem to establish nowadays.
This movie is special. It is powerful. You won't stop thinking about it for a long time. If you're lucky enough to have it play near you, please check it out but pay attention to every detail - every sound. It all adds up to a very powerful finish.
Grade A or 9.5/10
yes, ed norton has a cornrows
Deniro and Norton, back together again. Stone's first two acts are great. You're intrigued, it's unpredictable, and interesting. But the third act leaves you confused and almost unaffected by the story at the end. Stone (norton) is up for parole and wants to get out. Why not throw his sex-crazed wife (jocovich) in front of Jack's (Deniro) feet. But one of these three is starting to see life under a new life. How will this play out? Norton was great but nothing spectacular. Will remind you of his primal fear days. But what makes his performance so good is how he makes his character so likable considering the ridiculous offensive lines that come out of his mouth.
I don't think they went far enough with Deniro's character. It wasn't written well enough. It starts off with a flashback on his broken relationship with his wife and what extremes he goes to keep her. But this ins't really paid off well in the film.
Interesting film. Not predictable. Good performances. Less than mediocre writing.
My verdict B/C
Amazing how one person can keep your attention
When you have just one lead and see only one other person through a cellphone video, you have to find a way to make the lead character likable. Amazing job directer Rodrigo Cortés for keeping out attention.
Ryan Reynolds steps out of the comedy box and does something brilliant. I knew the guy had potential, but he never picks decent scripts. This movie relied on a strong male and strong enough plot twist that don't become far-fetched and confuse the audience. It's a quick 90 minutes with it's thrills but also laugh out loud moments especially with frustrating with answering services.
It's location and extras consist of 125 dollars of flashlights, cell phone. glow stick, lighter etc. Amazing what you can do with do little.
Jack Goes Boating (2010)
the man can work a camera
I was fortunate enough to see this movie a few days early in eastern Manhattan. Of course I had to deal with a frustrating (talkative) audience but I not only saw a great little film, I got to see the whole cast do a little q&A session with Peter Travers afterward.
We know the plot. An awkward man meets an awkward girl both surrounded by a couple who has a lot of problems with their marriage but don't mind bottling it in at the moment. Jack (Hoffman) is very lovable. You feel for him and he wins your hearts from his first swimming lesson with his best friend Clyde (John Ortiz). Clyde's wife Lucy(Daphne Rubin-Vega) introduces Jack to her co-worker and friend Connie (amy Ryan). Jack and Connie actually hit it off right off the bat. Connie enjoyed telling ridiculous stories such as her father being in a coma (trust me, there is a lot more to that story - had the audience roaring) but means well and wants to pursue a relationship very slowly with Jack. Jack so gentle that he'll wait till the summer to go on their first date if needed for the relationship.
This cast was very good. For those who like them Oscars, Hoffman should get an acting nomination. Though is uncomfortable behavior might get a but repetitive, you still can't keep your eyes off of him. Him and Ryan shined with excellent chemistry. The supporting cast were also great.
The direction of the film was remarkable. Hoffman is a natural but also brought some new ideas. One scene was so beautiful. Jack and Clyde were sitting in the car. Clyde started to get things off his chest in such a emotional way. Something that would secretly hurt Jack. A plow comes by and pushes dirt on the windshield. After Clyde is about done ranting, Jack hits the windshield wipers. It clears the snow but little drops of water still move down the windshield. Because the camera is shot from the back, the windshield was almost a reflection of both of the character's faces as if they were tearing up. So many great shots. I love when Hoffman is underwater and I love his little dream sequences.
I really enjoyed the film. a great study of characters. Hoffman said he'd love to direct another film if given another great cast. 7.5/10.
The Runaways (2010)
better than expected - Kristen Stewart was good
Sure the Runaways were the first all female rock group and made it a huge for such a short time but their music never impressed me. Patti Smith is still way more punk rock than all the members combined (even at 60 plus years old). This movie wasn't so much about the music or their attitude but about growing up and maturity.
Kristen Stewart probably secretly can't wait to be done with her type-casted twilight days and show her real talent than the vampire soap opera. She was great in Into the Wild and Adventureland but I believe her performance in The Runaways has been her best to date. She portrayed Joan Jett's attitude very well (even cut her hair to look like her) and sounded very much like Jett's voice.
Dakota Fanning on the other hand . . . not so much. She bored me. She seemed to try to hard. Fanning at age ten acted like a thirty year old so I feel her ego got in the way of this movie. That and she was so miscasted to begin with. It's a shame they couldn't get Evan Rachel Wood. Her part required lots of range and all we got was her half blank look and a voice that never even sounded like Cherie Currie.
The movie is short. Without credits at about 96 minutes. I liked the way it ended. It left me wanting more but not in a bad way. My biggest complaint was the lack story with the other three members. The big message I got out of the movie was Jett wanted everyone to be equal in the band. The lead singer shouldn't be the only member everyone remembers but all we got out of Sandy West was she's was very sweet? Lita Ford seemed like a bully while Robin never really said a word except for maybe a "yeah" a couple of times (which is a shame because I like Alia Shawkat). The whole movie was 95 percent Currie and Jett. In fact, at the end we find out what happen to only them and the producer.
Michael Shannon was a pretty good playing the crazed and perhaps controlling producer Kim Fowley. Though his performance was over the top at most parts, it was probably written that way. Shannon is a very skilled actor (watch Revolutionary Road).
In short, The Runaways won't stick in your mind by the end of the week but it does get a thumbs up from me and turned out to be a much better movie than I expected. I didn't expect really anything.
*** / *****
There is nothing like this
After seeing the cast, I couldn't wait to see this movie. I completely over-hyped myself. Who wouldn't though? My two favorite young actors of Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cilian Murphy, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Leo, etc. The icing on the cake was it was directed by Christopher Nolan who doesn't understand how to make a bad movie. After one and a half years of waiting, I finally caught a midnight showing. I decided to write this review three days later.
We know the basic plot. Leo and crew attempt to steal from people's dreams, etc.
This movie was incredible. It exceeded my expectations which were as high as possible to begin with. It starts up with action in the very first five minutes and never really lets up. The portrayal of dreams was spot on even if they were lucid dreams. Such an example, Leo runs out of a room and ends up in another that looked completely different with some different characters from before. The further we get through the movie, the more controlled the dreams were until someone from Leo's pass gets in the way.
The film is very multilayered. I don't want to give much a way but it is very hard to follow. If you notice a lot of the critics who didn't care for the movie, you'll notice that the theme of their review hinted that they couldn't really absorb most of the information processed throughout the film. I still haven't fully grasped everything in the movie but that's what I love about it. I plan seeing this movie at least four more times so I have a decent interpretation of everything. That and the special effects are still worth every price of the ticket alone.
For first time viewers, pay close attention to Ellen Page's character, Ariadne (I think Nolan is tired of traditional names). She explains a lot of key information throughout the movie. The cast was very good. I think Cilian Murphy really stood out the most to me.
Inception reminded me of Jean-Pierre Melville films which involve a long heist sequence. This movie is almost one long heist. Of course the matrix and eternal sunshine come to mind but in no way does this film rip them off. Inception is guaranteed to stay with you for a long time and most likely blow your mind. The two and a half hours flew by. I didn't want this movie to end.
Inception is a masterpiece. Taking eight years to write a movie pays off.
Alcohol and more alcohol - even if you don't want it
Very similar to 500 days of Summer. A young man (Hyuk-Jin) just broke up with his girlfriend, attempts to go on a road trip with his friends. His friends flake out leaving him stranded in a town he doesn't know. His only friend seems to be the bottle.
Very low budget. Just made it to the Charles in Baltimore (Wish I got to see it). Just made over 2,000. A little two long at almost two hours but still kept my interest all the way through.
Relatable film that might go a little far at times but overall gets the chuckles it was meant to bring. Alcohol leads to miscommunication. At the end you can only smile and remember that yes, this life.
The Lucky Ones (2008)
I'll give it a 'lucky' seven out of ten
After being a huge fan of Neil Burger's first big movie, The Illusionist, I was very intrigued in seeing his next film. With an interesting cast of Michael Pena, Rachel McAdams, and Tim Robbins, I was very interest in seeing how the chemistry of these three would be together. They were very good.
We have the older vet, Fred Cheaver (Tim Robbins), who just wants to go home and enjoy his remaining years with his wife and son. T.K. Pool (Michael Pena) got wounded in his private area and is afraid he can't 'get it up' with his girl where the relationship is apparently based on sex. And then we have Colee Dunn. She's the outgoing outsider with a broken family but means well with attempting to bring a guitar to a family she doesn't know where her friend and their son was killed in combat. She expects to live with them.
The chemistry between the main leads are very good (especially Rachel McAdams). They don't have a ego problem as you might see in most post war movies (see Stop-Loss). I believe Burger's biggest point was to demonstrate the bond the the army has on each other and how they would go to big lengths to make sure one another is OK and safe while of course testing one another with impossible questions. T.K. didn't like Colee's deceased friend Randy even though he never knew him. Randy robbed a casino according to Colee and T.K. felt that's what the military doesn't want. Soldiers escaping their problems. Fred would always be there to babysit the two if any issues between the two would get out of hand but the truth is, the three of them loved each other.
This film has no comparison to the very special "The Illusionist" but that is a very good thing. Variety seems to be an issue for a good portion of new coming directors in this new century. Neil Burger relied on a tight script and painted characters with ridiculous recurrences and run ins that made you one again understand why it was called 'The Lucky Ones.' My favorite was when Fred went to see his wife, she nonchalantly asked for a divorce. Moments later his son came home and said he needed tens of thousands of dollars to get into Stanford. After Fred went back out with his friends to relieve some tension, he ran into an old friend that he worked with who explained that the company that Fred and him worked for was out of business obviously meaning that Fred had no job and really no way of giving money to his son at the time.
Solid film and lots of problems bit it saved by very good chemistry and performances.
My Summer of Love (2004)
New aged Fellini perhaps?
I've now seen both of Pawel Pawlikowski's big work (My summer of love and last resort) and will come to the conclusion that this guy has loads of talent. His films are not long but speak so much with sometimes, very little words. This film perhaps, is one of the best of 2004.
Mona (Natalie Press) meets a girl very similar to herself named Tasmin (Emily Blunt) and begin to bond as they learn how each others' past are very much the same. They need each other and begin to have a relationship that turns into an obsession. Each other.
Mona's brother Phil (Paddy Considine) tries to forget his rough past by finding God. Mona isn't very happy with it. This sets off sparks of jealously and rage.
Right after this film ended, I got butterflies in my stomach. Being a huge Fellini fan (la Dolce Vita is one of the directors favorite films), I was so impressed by the similarities that this film provided with Fellini's work such as La Dolce Vita, Nights of Cabiria, and Variety Lights. The Cinematography was excellent and incredibly beautiful. The performances were also memorable.
Check this film out. One of the best of th year!
Pride and Glory (2008)
It had its problems but it was still quite exciting
The critics destroyed this movie. I believe just a 35 percent or something on rotten tomatoes. But being an Ed Norton fan and being very impressed with Colin Farrell's previous performance in In Bruges, I decided to check it out anyways. yes the movie had its problems but it was still a solid movie.
One of the biggest dislikes of Pride and Glory is how it doesn't stand out to other good cop bad cop films such as The Departed, We Own the Night, Training Day, etc. I disagree. The performances were still solid and the movie was still a thriller all the way through - perhaps excluding the first half hour - but it did pick up.
The biggest problems I had with he film was the ridiculous amounts of misplaced f-bombs. It got ridiculous. I didn't care for the opening scene where Farrell was playing football and it sounded like there were twenty thousand people watching the game when you only really see fifty people in the stands. It was laughable. The movie did have some unforgettable moments such as the baby and the iron scene where you cringe and pray the Farrell's character doesn't go through with what he's hinting he's going to do. I also loved the fist fight at the end which really bolds the the title of the story.
I guess I went in the theaters not expecting much and left the theaters with something to discuss for a while with my friend that I went with. I give the movie a B- or 6.5/10.
An American Crime (2007)
A unique vision by Tommy O'Haver
I was very disappointed by the negative reviews that the critics throughout at this movie. But I didn't care. I specially ordered it and received it early and quickly put the movie in. It was a lot different than what I expected.
I'm a huge Ellen Page fan and love all the work that she has done. She was fantastic and it was nice to see considering everyone is labeling her for her Juno role. James Franco was barely in the movie but he did a decent job and played his role well. I have to disagree for Catherine Keener. Gertrude to me, is considered to be one of the most ruthless manipulators ever to live. How she got everyone to torture an innocent girl makes me sick every time I think about it. Keener's role wasn;t well written and she wasn't horrible enough for people to despise what she's done. Keener is also attractive and after seeing pictures of the real Gertrude, they could have done something to make her look a lot more run down. Supposely in real life she was incredibly stressed out (took care of eight kids and even neighbors would drop by). But then again, the film was lower budget.
The biggest question was why the filmed was very tamed. After reading many articles, it was said that what Slyvia went through was so sick that it probably would have been too hard to film. I was expected a hostel like gore but instead got more of a Hard Candy film style where you know what's happening but you don't see it. It worked but then again what was the purpose of the film? This story of Slyvia should be remembered but why shouldn't we forget it? Look at the Passion of Christ. Just interesting questions I ask myself.
Anyways, my verdict is 7/10.
The Tracey Fragments (2007)
77 minutes is the perfect length for this experimental film
Tracey Fragments is a very experimental film. 95% of the film is shot with two or more screens. Sometimes it's even split up as much as 100 screens! Not often do you see a film where there is more art in the editing than anything else in the film. In fact, some of the split screens act as shattered glass which seemed to be the symbolic meaning of the film where a girl's life is pretty much shattered throughout the film.
Tracey Berkowitz (played by Ellen page) is a fifteen year old girl who thought it would be funny to hypnotize her brother into being a dog. She hates her parents and her school mates. She dreams of starting a rock band with the boy of her dreams, Billy Zero. Very independent, she decides to run away from home to look for her brother. there she has her day from hell.
The first thing I'd like to comment about the film is I thought the script lacked. Ellen Page made this movie watchable but I disliked some of the scenes. In fact, some parts were so ridiculous it almost made me laugh nervously as if they were trying to make the movie corny at times. With that said, I'd have to say that Bruce McDonald did a very good job capturing Tracey with the budget that he had. It's obvious that the film was shot with a hand-held camera but it fit very well with the dark behavior and life that Tracey endured throughout the movie. I also loved the score. I read on one of the message boards for this movie that some replied that they loved and hated this movie. I agree. Some parts were so beautifully captured while some seems completely lacked and didn't fit (once again, the lacking script). The movie is exhausting at times but the last thirty minutes began to pick up again and make the movie interesting.
Ellen Page is a versatile actress and I like her a lot more when she plays darker roles such as this movie and her best performance to date, Hard Candy. I did love Juno but I like these type of roles more. The most memorial seen in the movie is when she stares her mom down and points her finger in her face while screaming at her. It's almost freaky but so well done.
If you love Ellen Page, this movie and Mouth to Mouth need to be seen with an open mind. 77 minutes of this film could feel like two hours.
My verdict 6.25/10
In Bruges (2008)
If there is a person that hates Bruges the most, it would be Ray in the movie In Bruges played brilliantly by Colin Farrell. I can't say I'm a huge fan of Farrell but I couldn't think of anyone else I'd rather see play Ray in this movie.
If you like dark humor than this movie is way up your ally. As you might of read in IMDb's trivia section, the word %$#@ is said 125 times in this movie and every time it makes me crack up. Interestingly, Ralph Feinnes doesn't make his mark until the last half hour of the movie. Every scene he is in made me laugh so hard. So many brilliantly played out awkward moments that always have a punch line even if it was meant to be serious. The script was brilliant and very original. The movie only made around 7,000,000 in The United States but then again, most of the little films these days seem to be the better movie.
Ray and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) are trying to settle down from there wild lives of being hit-man. But it isn't easy for hit-man to blend in as tourist. The big turn of the movie comes around forty minutes but it acts like a small twist so I won't say anything else.
They're really isn't much out there on DVD right now so as long as violence, profanity, and drugs (and there are lots of all the above) don't offend you, give In Bruges a try. Could be the biggest surprise of the year.
Into the Wild (2007)
Society - you ugly breed
Sean Penn directed and wrote an excellent film about a young boy named Chris (played by Emile Hirsh) who literally gave away all of his money and went off on an adventure to try to identify with himself and leave behind the world that he couldn't fit in. During the adventure he relates to many people that help guide him to his long journey to Alaska where he will live alone Into the Wild.
Perhaps it's the fact that I can relate to Chris's character myself where I feel like I can't live like everyone else with the 9 to 5 lifestyle. The pressure of everyday beats down on you where you just want to leave everything but don't have the courage to do so. I consider Chris McCandless a hero and perhaps one day I can break out of this shell and be free just as he does in the film.
Eddie Vedder's soundtrack was perfect for the film. I'll admit that Pearl Jam is my favorite band (I wish I could see Rats live), but it doesn't mean that Vedder could screw up a film. In this case, he was completely on. The song society is my personal favorite. The lyrics are right on to the film's message.
All the supporting performances were great. Vince Vaughn (not being a fan) was the biggest surprise to me as he was very good for the role. You'll see other familiar faces such as Catherine Keener, Marcia gay Harden, and Kristen Stewart. Interestingly Hal Holbrook was nominated for an Oscar even though he wasn't in the film until an hour and forty-five minutes later.
This will easily make my top three favorite films of 2007.
My verdict, 9.5/10
Great start but a disappointing finish
I didn't hate this movie. Sure it was a very long wait but I still enjoyed it for what it is which is family entertainment. It didn't have the heart that the others had (especially Last Crusade and Raiders) but whatever.
The movie starts off great. Indiana Jones is in a pickle just like the other movies and he has to use his quick thinking to get out. Col. Dr. Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) thinks she has Indy cornered but he makes his escape. During the escape you do see the ark from Raiders which was awesome. He then meets Mutt Williams had goes off to find the crystal skull. During the journey he also reacquaints with his ex girlfriend Marian. Everything was going great until the last twenty some minutes. Things started to get way out control and far fetched such as when Mutt was swinging on vines to catch up to a speeding truck or when they fall over three waterfalls in a row and not a bump on them. Sure it was meant to be funny but no one in the theater was laughing. Sure the other Indiana Jones had some far fetched moments but not nearly as ridiculous or annoying as the Crystal Skull provided. To top it all off was the ending. Of course I won't give it away but it just didn't excite me at all. I can almost say it was terrible.
Some blame the mistakes on Lucas and I do agree. He doesn't write like he use to and has pretty much hurt the great stories he has done in the pass. But all in all, it wasn't a bad movie and again, it was enjoyable for what it is.
My verdict: 5/10
The Air I Breathe (2007)
Cheesy start, solid finish
Similair to the movies such as Crash, 11:14, and Go, The air that I breathe also is told from different points of view.
There are four stories told starting with Happiness (Forest Whitaker) who must find 50,000 dollars so Fingers (Andy Garcia) doesn't cut off his fingers or even kill him. That story was the weakest and the most far fetched but it all ties in very well later on in the movie. Pleasure (Brenden Frasier) surprisingly was my favorite character. This coming from someone who can't stand Frasier's other work. He works for Fingers as he takes his nephew, Tony (Emile Hirsch) out for a good time and showing him the work that his uncle does. Sorrow is next (Sarah Michelle Gellar), as she also works for Fingers as a musician. She struggles to maintain her image and find herself and eventually meets up with Pleasure. Finally there is Love (Kevin Bacon) whose in love with his best friends wife, Gina (Julie Deploy). Something terrible happens to Gina as Lovewill do anything he can to save her life.
After forty-five minutes in the movie picks up and things start to make sense and tie into each other. The whole love, pleasure, Happiness, and sorrow thing doesn't work for me. A lot of cliché phrases are randomly placed such as when Frasier's character tells Whitaker's character that sometimes you have to risk it all. Whitaker does such that and Frasier then says "why the ---- did you do that? Watch this with an open mind and watch it all the way through. It does have a 14% or something on rotten tomatoes and the critics that did like it, will say the same thing. The movie works for me and it payed off to watch it all the way to the end.
My verdict 6.5/10 or B-
The Mist (2007)
A horror movie that actually has chills!
There have been only been a few horror movies in this millennium, that have actually been somewhat memorable to me. They go by he names SAW, THE DESCENT, and now THE MIST. What do these movies have in common? Perhaps it's because they were all directed very well and actually gave some chills down my spine or maybe they were all original in their own way. Anyways, The Mist could even be my new favorite horror movie.
I'll admit right away, I'm not a huge fan of horrors. Usually they are a crappy PG 13 horror with no scares or they just throw as much blood and gore as they can which doesn't even help entice the story. Yes, The mist is very disturbing and you will see someone cut in two or wrapped up in a web but it just makes the movie even more frightening.
Thomas Jane (might remember from the Punisher) was perfect as the lead in this movie. He was so likable in the first five minutes of the movie that you cared for him and hope that he does make it through the entire movie as in some horrors, you want the lead actor die as soon as possible because of how stupid they are. Marcia Gay Harden, who I can't stand, played the perfect villain. Maybe it's because I can't stand her and hated her character in the first line that she delivered but they really couldn't of picked a more disturbed woman who thought everyone deserved what they got from The mist.
The movie takes place in a shopping mart. All the customers are scared to leave the store as a giant mist has devoured the city. people turn on each other as they go crazy from being isolated so long from the mist. Sides are also made. This movie keeps your interest all they way through.
What really made this ending as for what made SAW to me was the ending. The ending for the mist was so disturbing but yet so perfect and will haunt your mind for weeks after you watch it. Kind of like the ending of American History X.
So you horror fans who are trying so hard to find a decent horror, the Mist shouldn't disappoint. Even though I would consider it more as a Sci-fi drama, I'll also call it a horror to give myself hope that their is still hope that horrors can be just as effective again as they once were.
THE MIST 9/10 or A