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1/10
A waste of time
26 March 2019
All I wanted was to see Beau Mirchoff's full frontal and they could not even deliver that. The writing is so bad that it fails to answer a even a single question. NOTHING makes sense in this show.
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Sex Education (2019– )
9/10
An absolute must watch
12 January 2019
Sex Education is an excellent show with some witty, genuinely funny and honest writing; diverse and beautiful cast; and stories everyone can related to. Performances are just magnificent, especially by Asa Butterfield and of course, Gillian Anderson.
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Pistorius (2018)
6/10
It get's better
7 September 2018
Pistorius case was probably one of the most widely covered murder cases in this decade. I was very much interested in it, because everyone had a split idea whether he meant to murder Reeva.

This documentary gives pretty good general idea of the case from the perspective of both, prosecution and the defense. However, the start is a bit bumpy. Episode one tells the story of Pistorius's success and it feels like the documentary is trying to paint him as a hero to show that he is no murderer. However, in later episodes, the story is much balanced.

The third and fourth parts are excellent with some dramatic touch in addition to documentary storytelling.
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7/10
Don't believe the critics
7 March 2018
Even though Sidney Hall is not perfect, it's a compelling story with some nice writing, and in my opinion, superb acting by Lerman and Fanning. It has a weird way to tell the story, starts somewhere in the end and then jumps through timeline several times. But after all, it does make sense. In fact, I loved last 20 minutes of the movie. It gave all the answers, they made sense, and it was kinda sad.
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Deadpool (2016)
9/10
The best valentines gift from Marvel Universe
18 February 2016
Deadpool is Marvel's the most entertaining film to date. Yes, we have seen cooler superheroes, better effects, more intense fight scenes and mind blowing CGI, but none of it succeeds to be as memorable as Deadpool's hilarious screenplay and Ryan Reynolds.

Reynolds is the most perfect casting not only in Marvel films but many many others I've seen in last of couple year. He steals every scene, where he talks, moves or gets naked.

The movie makers know that Deadpool is no Captain America or any similar franchise hero, but also they realize that even anitheroes can excite people. Consequently, Deadpool never takes itself seriously and it jokes the sh*t out of everything. Sometimes it may seem to be 'politically incorrect', too R rated but trust me, you'll never stop enjoying it.
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9/10
She is painfully hilarious
19 October 2015
My face muscles hurt after one hour constant laugh.

No matter how big fan of Amy you are, you still should appreciate her frank humor. I consider her self- defaming jokes to be a really funny way to talk about so many important issues and mostly the over judgment women are still facing.

Live at the Apollo is Amy's one of the bests. It combines old and the most hilarious jokes with the fresh ones and builds up in an hour long joy. The whole stand-up is exceptionally well written. But most importantly, Amy owns the audience, she keeps everyone on her side and makes people laugh about things, in other circumstances they would be grossed out about.

Live at the Apollo is something I am gonna rewatch many times, because it needs to be.
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The Martian (2015)
9/10
In your face, Interstellar! (or any other sci-fi this year)
13 October 2015
I always get excited for adaptations of my favorite books, just like I did last year. Gone Girl ended up to be my most favorite. Even further, The Perks of Being a Wallflower sneaked in my all time favorite list, just as I rewatched it multiple times.

The Martian turned out to be an amazing adaptation - as joyful and entertaining as Weir's brilliant work. In fact, I loved most parts of the book, because it was smart, with quirky humor and delightful main character. Andy managed to create the most realistic story about living on Mars, so realistic that you will never cast a doubt on anything he writes. Having said that, there were few parts where a though of skipping couple of pages crossed my mind. Anyways, I read all of it.

Shrinking this huge book to 141 minutes film is unimaginably hard but Ridley Scott did it. Luckily, he left out my least favorite parts of the book, like long travel to MAV. In the end he made one of the most enjoyable films of his carrier and directed Matt Damon to his best performance in years.

Speaking of cutting the film, the long time duo of Scott and film editor Pietro Scalia (who won his second Oscar for Ridley's Black Hawk Down) did an amazing job. Most scenes are so well edited that they take your breath away, especially in the final part of the movie, where a lot spinning and floating happens. For the sake of protecting you from spoilers, I will not breakdown each scene.

I had more expectations for cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, who shot beautiful Prometheus. I always think of sci-fi as a genre, where camera crew and special effect supervisors have enormous chance to invent something extraordinary, to go beyond the imagination and surprise the audience. Just like Emmanuel Lubezki did in Gravity. Despite some gorgeous shots in The Martian, there are few scenes which I can remember for a long time - one of them pictured above. I think that shot is just amazing, it is freakishly symmetrical. The line where board ends is like separator of two different worlds: cosmos and the earth. And the way colors interact with each other, ugh, can't even describe my feelings.

Cast that huge always works. But kudos to two times Emmy winner Nina Gold for such an amazing collaboration between A list actors. I am quite sure I will be speaking for everyone when I say that Matt Damon is the best Mark Watney we could have probably hoped for. He is naturally as charming as I imagined Watney while reading the book. I am not saying it because his ass popped in my face in 3D, but because he's got very likable face and voice and Damon nailed all the jokes. His portrayal of arrogant, straightforward, smart, optimistic and all positive astronaut proves Gold's phenomenal casting choice. Above of all it, every other actor is a perfect fit to their characters, but especially, Donald Glover whose few minutes on the screen as Rich Purnell is a moment of joy. In contrast with the book, his character was one of the most memorable ones in the movie.

When I left the cinema, there were few things I wished I remembered more vividly. One of those is music. Harry Gregson-Williams's original soundtracks neither impress nor stays memorable for a long time. I remember watching Interstellar and no matter how much you like the film, Hans Zimmer's music never leaves your mind. And I wished someone like him (is it even realistic?) composed for The Martian. It would have made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. Music has a vital role in living through the film, especially in a (mostly) single character movie, where non verbal details express the verbal emotions. A good music could have made Mark Watney's experience both more dramatic and funny the same time.

I feel like I have to say few words about the outraging comparison to Interstellar, which is both unfair and incorrect. While Nolan told the story with superficial, yet complex and utterly boring science, The Martian looks like more practical survival guide for those stuck on Mars. It does not have a claim of solving all mankind problems, or exploring the human nature, or pursuing the destiny of persons, it merely tells a story of courage and dedication. In fact, the only common thing for both movies is a space and I'd be true to myself if I say that I enjoyed Ridley Scott's work a lot more.

To cut it short, The Martian is the most enjoyable blockbuster movie I've seen in 2015 so far. And people, who say that it is the best work for both Ridley Scott and Matt Damon in years, are absolutely right.
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Trainwreck (2015)
6/10
Amy Schumer plays Amy from Inside Amy Schumer who plays Amy Schumer
27 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
You are confused, right?

Well, try to watch Trainwreck and complain then.

While I absolutely understand the reasons for Schumer's success, I still believe that every her role should not be alike to Amy the comedian. I adore her stand-ups, her jokes, her quirky humor and disregard of political correctness. Having said that, I should admit, I enjoy Inside Amy Schumer a lot, but Trainwreck was too much.

I have the biggest concern about Amy's character, who is an exact copy of Amy we see on the stage or in Inside Amy Schumer. Even if we consider that this movie is about real Amy herself and somehow resembles her life or "life-style", there should be a way to make it work without reminding me every other joke I've heard on her stand-ups or TV shows. I don't mean it wrong, they are funny and painfully true, but I did not spend two hours just to rehearse them.

I should also confess that I loved seeing Ezra Miller here. Why this fellow can't make more movies?

To conclude, if you have not seen any other acts by Amy Schumer, I bet you will enjoy Trainwreck a lot. Otherwise, you will hear or experience nothing new.
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Sense8: Demons (2015)
Season 1, Episode 6
10/10
Pure brilliance!
10 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Episode "Demons" was the best one in my opinion for so many reasons. First of all, this is where most of characters start bounding with each other and the plot really started to make sense.

But most importantly, here the Wachowskis shoot the most intimate, beautiful, raw, bold and eye-pleasuring sex scene on TV. You just need to watch it. It is perfection how almost every character experiences each others arousal and how they "participate" in this pleasure.

I think the cast and crew need a huge applause because they just filmed something that TV has never shown before. Because honestly, most sex scenes in other shows were either too vulgar or too dishonest about the feelings of partners. But not Sense8. This was masterful
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5/10
BDSM thought provoking film with extremely cliché love story line
12 February 2015
Fifty Shades of Grey has two main characters: Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). As in most love stories, they belong to two different social classes - the girl being a poor, beautiful student, while the boy is a rich, powerful, handsome billionaire. They meet each other by chance and fall in love. For now you might think that you've seen it hundreds of times and you are definitely right about it. Most things in this movie is so well known and familiar that it bores you. Accordingly, if you continue watching it as another complicated love story, you might walk out of theater or order a cup of coffee to keep yourself awake. What I tried is to look at this story in a different perspective, something alike to Nymphomaniac or even more, Blue Is the Warmest Color (the comparison does not necessarily mean they are equally good). At the end of the day, not many films, at least in Hollywood, talk about BDSM or dominant/submissive sex experience.

Having said that, I was very surprised that the film is R rated. And it's not only a rating, it perfectly describes what approach director Sam Taylor-Johnson took while filming it. To shortly say, it could have been much more erotic and as they say, book has lots of it.

I will try to talk about the love-story side of Fifty Shades of Grey. We all know it's shitty cause it's very average and not original. By saying that I mean everything, including relationship lineup, dialogues, character development and extremely predictable "twists". Instead, I will focus on Grey's fetish - BDSM.

Dornan's character is an absolute cliché of rich playboy - handsome, full of gadgets, self confidence and kindness. But his sexual life is nothing alike of others. The only way he gets sexual satisfaction is pain, pain of other partner who is always submissive. In any world, one can not easily find an absolute submissive person, who is ready to enjoy the physical stab because other person does. So, Christian has to negotiate with Anastasia step by step, tries to talk her into his dangerous game. Miss Steele is ready to try for sake of love. I don't want to spoil anything, if its possible, so I'll just generally tell the idea.

The film provokes many thoughts on BDSM: whether it's normal; whether it's naturally born attraction or later formed due to specific life events. Fifty Shades of Grey gives a definite answer, which you might not agree, just like me. But it does give an answer. Another deal-breaker is how another person can accept this sexual behavior and if the denial is really about the pain or humiliation.

For Grey, bandaging, spanking, slapping is a form of endearment, a form of loving and the only way to experience orgasm. He means nothing degrading by that. To the contrary, Anastasia perceives it in a different way - the way most of us probably would do. While she sometimes enjoys it, since Christian seems to be very professional/good at it, there is a part of her that feels wrong, as if being submissive has nothing to do with love.

As I mentioned above, this film has some similarities with Nymphomaniac, which also talks about masochist sex. But the latter is more sincere and open about it, showing sexual desires more naked and a it is. For me, Trier's film was sometimes too hard to watch, too explicit and very true. While Fifty Shades of Grey demonstrates BDSM in more acceptable way, which I enjoyed to watch. I mean, it maybe something most of us have never experienced, but I have to acknowledge that each sex scene was beautifully shot, perfectly shooting the pleasure of both parties. The biggest complain I have is that it could have been more +18. In it's core, dominant/submissive sex has nothing to do with shame or diffidence and filming this scenes with shyness does not feel frank enough.

As for Blue Is the Warmest Color it had more explicit sex scenes that, everyone agrees, was one of the most pleasant scenes in years. So what director Sam Taylor-Johnson could have done is to adopt the same attitude by filming her movie in more "pornish" way that would be equally acceptable.

Even though Dakota Johnson is an exact pretty face a girl like Anastasia should be, her performance was far below average. Her tears, drama scenes were somehow irritating. But Jamie Dornan was quite much better, especially in the last sex scene, where he finally gets what he wants and you can see it in every move, emotion and wrinkle on his face.

Danny Elfman, who has created some magnificent music for Good Will Hunting, Milk and Big Fish, did nothing special for Fifty Shades of Grey. In fact, at the end of the movie, I remembered none of track played during the film. Only Beyonce's memorable song captured the spirit of film perfectly.

Oscar nominee cinematographer Seamus McGarvey did not have much to do here, but he did picture several sex scenes in a very good way, focusing on important parts (!) sometimes, moving through bodies of lead characters and giving glimpse on their faces. It created an impressive motion that kept audience engaged in sexual act, at least, sometimes.

In conclusion, if you are looking for groundbreaking, philosophically deep discussions on sexual behavior, Fifty Shades of Grey will disappoint you. If you are going to watch it as a love story, it will disappoint you. But if you try to look at it as a discussion of BDSM and not generally accepted sexual life, it will definitely provoke some controversial thoughts
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4/10
Jupiter Ascending is the only movie where Sean Bean should have been dead
6 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
When it comes to creation of cult movies, The Wachowski siblings are among few directors who created something so outstanding that it still defines the genre - I mean The Matrix Trilogy. Then it was Cloud Atlas with rave reviews and my personal favorite. Logically, I expected something very extraordinary, that would blow my mind in any ways their films do. Honestly, the casting of Jupiter Ascending should be giving a clear vision of what would the movie look like.

Movie starts with introducing Russian immigrant Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) waking up at 4:30 in the morning, rushing to her job which merely includes cleaning toilets of rich people. She's obviously hating her life, because there is nothing happening until some unearthly creatures try to assassinate her at the hospital. Being saved by ex-military member named Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) she learns that one of the members of galaxy's most influential families wants her dead. Balem (Eddie Redmayne) has inherited Earth after his mother's mystical death. His other sibling Titus (Douglas Booth) wants to take over control on our planet, because it is such a treasure. The reason why Jupiter needs to be killed is that she is a reincarnation of Balem's mother and accordingly the sole owner of the planet, meanwhile Titus is trying to save her, marry her and claim the title. For that reason, he sent Caine as a savior.

And here starts Miss Jones's voyage through galaxies to meet her "family" and prove that she owns the Earth, in order to keep it safe. As visually spectacular Jupiter Ascending is, as messy the story seems. It's two hours of Jupiter's stupid decisions, number of drama scenes between Wise and her, tons of fights and flights.

What Wachowskis did here is making a visually stunning motion picture, a bunch of beautiful images and views on cosmos. I appreciate that, I wished Nolan did the same in Interstellar. But visuals can not be everything in the film, because those colorful clouds and stunning planets get boring after an hour and you are left with the most illogical plot ever.

Basically, if you've watched Thor and some other similar films, you know every "plot twist" in Jupiter Ascending. Everything here is so predictable - you know when the main characters make stupid decisions, when they are saved, when they fall in trouble and the way it ends. Looks like director/writer siblings did not try to think of something new that would genuinely be remembered. Instead, they went with a lot of bla-bla-bla dialogues, naming tons of different names and families, you won't remember in couple of minutes and need not to remember. Characters are ultimate boring and cliché. We have here: a pretty girl who is so important and needs to be saved - that would be Jupiter Jones; a brave soldier who's just doing his job but falls with the main character - Wise; an old military friend who is always there - Stinger (Sean Bean); an evil man with enormous ego - Balem; disobedient sibling - Titus; creatures that convince us that not everyone in the universe look like us - the crocodile things and a lot of soldiers and inter galaxy armies who do nothing at all.

The eye candy cast is doing its job - eye candy-ing. Mila Kunis proves that she's a pretty face some guys love to see on the screen and even though she's actually cute, her face or emotions never change. Tatum and Redmayne do their MUSTS - shirtless scenes. I even tweeted that I love Eddie since I saw him in Les Miserable, but he was frighteningly awful in here. He was the most average villain in terms of everything - from facial expressions to voicing and gestures. I expected so much more.

There is one moment I really liked - the scene where Jupiter is trying to claim her title and interacts with galactic bureaucracy is hilarious. Even her lawyer, who is a robot, gets irritated and tries to bribe people to make it faster. This is probably the only interesting thing this movie tries to demonstrate.

If one wants to praise directors, this would solely be about the universe they created, which suggests not much new, but it is very spectacular with brilliant mixture of colors and stunning production design. For that reason, I am angry. I am angry as a fan of Wachowskis, I am angry as a fan of 4 their biggest films and I am angry as a movie goer. Even if no one claimed it would be a masterpiece, I still expected something genuinely memorable. The only memorable thing about Jupiter Ascending was my disappointment.
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Force Majeure (2014)
8/10
Avalanche of relationships, feelings and family commitment
4 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Force Majeure is a Swedish film shortlisted by The Academy in best foreign film nomination. It's director Ruben Östlund's fourth full feature film, were he tells about a family of four that is about to fall apart, because their perceptions of each other were actually far from reality.

Thomas and Ebba with two children are having a vacation in French alps. On a fine morning, while they are having their meal on veranda, allegedly controlled avalanche cascades towards the hotel. They all panic but behave differently. Ebba grabs kids to cover them, Thomas, to the contrary rushes inside, leaving hopeless family members behind. This is when his, as a family patriarch's status is questioned leading the relationships to unwilling direction.

Östlund's film talks about a lot family relationship issues, that are either openly, or vaguely discussed in different societies. The problems demonstrated here seem to be very common for any culture, even for Swedes, who are perceived as the most open people in terms of domestic obligations and gender roles. The avalanche accident leads to the biggest problem this quiet family faces - questioning Thomas's status as the guardian of the family and suddenly everybody, and most importantly wife, feels desperately unprotected. Even though the children are scared, their feelings are more about the physical threat they've experienced, than about trusting to father's instincts. While Ebba sees her husband's image falling apart, she no longer sees the man she though she married to.

Force Majeure is a test of marriage, values, relationships and feelings. It basically questions everything that particular and most families stand on, but it never fails to balance between different options until the very end, where I think, Ruben gave a clear version of his answer to all questions. Primarily, the events happening in the film test Ebba's believes, her image of marriage and love and care. But it's not only about avalanche. Her female friend tells a story of her multiple relationships with different men, while being married to one and having children. Ebba, a woman fully committed to a family, has no understanding of it - she can not picture herself flirting with other men and still loving husband, children. Female friend, who has very short screen time, is a very well written character. She's calm type, who tries to explain the perks of open relationship, that there is no correlation between love to family and one night stands, that she's afraid to be dumped as much as other women. And here, she has one brilliant line: "I can't go building my entire self-esteem on being a woman in a relationship or being a mother" It's exactly opposite what Ebba has been doing whole her life and obviously the reason of her doubts in husband, who was seen as a sole protector and responsible person in family. Since Thomas made an unforgivable mistake he can not be trusted - that's what wife thinks. But to some extent, it's not really about being father or mainstay of family, it's more about how comfortable Ebba feels. That's why she tries to "negotiate" with husband so that they had the same story of what really happened on that morning and they practically make up a new version of it which is acceptable for both of them. However, she can not hold it for a long time, it's eating her out from inside and later explodes in front of their friends, among whom Ebba tries to find like-minded people. When she succeeds, she becomes more calm.

Meanwhile, Thomas is acknowledging the whole dramatic perspective of his actions. Still, he is more concerned about wife's reaction that on some level ruins relationship with children, who more are afraid that parents are gonna divorce.

Almost entire movie is a discussion whether a parent can make such mistake - putting its own safety before others. And you feel like that the answer is a definite NO, but the way Ruben Östlund ends film, makes you start questioning this position. In the final scene, when the family leaves hotel, they take a bus on a very dangerous road. Ebba is freaking out, asking to stop the bus, because they might fall through the cliff any time and what she does when it's stopped? Immediately jumps out of it leaving her children behind. So, basically, she made the same mistake in arguably more dangerous situation and this is where it becomes clear that making a mistake can not define good parenting. Director also proves it in one of the latest scenes, where Ebba is lost in misty mountains and Thomas goes to rescue her - it's an indication that he still remains the guy who can take care of beloved people.

Ruben Östlund managed to build a quite interesting movie on issues that has been discussed in probably a lot of films. But the approach director took here is quite unique and simple. Probably, closest to reality and real family troubles. The main characters are well written, interesting and still easy to generalize.

One thing I loved most here is music - Vivaldi's Storm - one of the wisest use of old classic. It perfectly matches the rhythm of movie, it goes on and off on the rights scenes and just booms the effect of events happening on the screen. If you watch this, you can not miss the brilliance of this choice. Still, some other sounds I found a bit loud, but nothing really disturbing.

The last thing I want to say is that English translation of title - Turist - is totally inappropriate. It has nothing to do with tourism and original title Force Majeure is a perfect match.

To conclude, Force Majeure is a must watch, an amazing experience.
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Enemy (2013)
8/10
Enemy is a mesmerizing piece of art with Gyllenhaal's amazing performance
21 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Adam Bell (Jake) is a history teacher, has a girlfriend Helen (Sarah Gadon) and lives a quiet life. His life mostly takes place between school, where he teaches and home, where he merely has sex with Helen. Once his co-worker very randomly suggests a movie and he decides to give a try. The movie turns out to be as plain and not really special. But it does not end here, since he's seeing scenes from that movie in dreams and he sees himself in some episodes, or a guy who just looks like him. It turns out that this guy is Anthony St. Claire (also Jake) - an actor and exact copy of history teacher. This is where life gets messed.

In fact, Adam and Anthony are the same person, more precisely two different identities of the same person. First of all, because if they were two different people that would be sorta very simple and second of all, because so many symbolism in the film would not make sense. This theory is proved by either behavior of those characters or Helen (Anthony's wife) - who actually knows that her husband has personal identity problems (let me get back to this later).

At the beginning, when Adam finds out that he's got a "twin", he is shocked, obsessed, terrified and reacts mostly negatively. So does Anthony, who is even more not willing to see alleged "brother" anymore. My first, very sincere, reaction was why would anyone react to this kind of fact in a not nice way?! I mean what is wrong with having a brother, who just looks like you?! Later, when Helen meets Adam and tells about this meeting to Anthony, she seems really scared and emotional. Then actor Jake says that he has no idea what she is talking about to which she replies that "I think you know". My guess is that she in fact guesses that those two people are the same person - her husband. In reality, if you found out that your spouse has an identical twin, would it bother you so much that you get depressed?! But this is not what happens here, Helen is trying to accept the fact that her husband has an identity problems and he's living two different lives.

There is a scene with his mother, where she tells that he's got a respectable job and he has to quit his acting fantasy. It makes me think that he unsuccessfully tried to act in those films and then went back to teaching. It seems that Anthony has not been to his agency for six months and Helen is also six month pregnant. It clearly shows that for last half an year, he switched to school, trying to make things work in the life.

It turns out that actor Jake had been unfaithful to his wife, because he is a type of guy who easily sleeps around. He is not capable of keeping things too serious, taking responsibilities and does not definitely enjoy being controlled by someone. And his wife and a little baby in her is definitely trying to control or censor him. Opening scene shows him being in a strip club, where men can watch women masturbating and doing anything to satisfy their thirst. This is the place where Anthony feels great, because he is free, no obligations, no control, no censor.

Speech of professor Adam Bell about dictatorship, control and censorship clearly echoes how he feels in reality. He says that control is possible only by lowering education and that's why he started to teach - to resist the control two women have on him - mother and wife.

Spiders in the movie are women. The first spider - in strip club, a stripper is about to step on and kill - is wife. Because this is to where Anthony escapes from marriage responsibilities. The other spider roaming over Toronto is mother (played by Isabella Rossellini). She only appears only for three minutes and still she tries to control son in her own way - dictate what to eat, where to work, how to live. She also says that he (Anthony) had always had trouble to stay with one woman, which confirms my doubt that those two characters are the same person.

In this scene, she offers some blueberries, Adam rejects it saying that he does not love it. Then mother replies "of course, you love it". In fact, Anthony loves blueberry and the reason why Bell refuses to like it that he wants so much to run from mom that he refuses anything she suggests.

Basically, the movie is about one person trying to fight his own demons. Car crash in the end of the movie is a symbol of end of this fight, killing the bad part of main character's personality and Adam Bell finally stays with his wife, saying her sorry. It definitely implies that he kind of let go his passions and decided to commit to family. However, it did not stay unchanged for a long time. Earlier while giving a lecture, Adam said that history repeats itself and it is neverending circle. And when he finds a key to that strip club, he once again decides to cheat, this is why Bell tells wife that he has to go out at night. Then wife does not respond and entering the room we see a huge spider in the room. It is Helen, who feels that her husband is going to be unfaithful again and wants to attack him as means of self-defense.

To conclude, Adam/Anthony was a man who tried to escape reality of family, responsibilities and control. That's why he decided to invent another him. One part lived that hard life and another easier one. But in the end, he realized that all this is farce and his life turned into a big mess. And then he panics.
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9/10
Exceptionally original piece of art, with phenomenal cast
20 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Birdman is a type movie that does not impress until I watch it, because there are films that grab my attention from the very fist teaser. However, it got my heart the moment I finished it and realized how genuinely original and masterfully done it was.

Alejandro González Iñárritu's new film is a story of a washed-up actor Riggan (Michael Keaton), who once played an iconic superhero Birdman and now he has to overcome his ego, family trouble, relationship and reclaim past glory, by directing a Broadway play. Ongoing financial problems make it harder to find a proper lead actor for the play.

First thoughts about Birdman - how crazy it is to cast Keaton, who played Batman in two films, as a widely loved superhero. And especially, when his career was also faded for such a long time. Nevertheless the true masterful acting, it's been a good catch. The same time, Birdman is not an easy movie to review, it's just an experience you should feel by watching the film, because if I start describing what's going on there, you'll never get the enjoyment I had during almost two hours.

But Birdman is brilliant for so many reasons. Let's begin with Keaton who did a performance of his career. He is always in between many layers of his character: sometimes genius, sometimes on the edge of mental breakdown and personal disorder and sometimes a hardworking artist. And he is perfectly introducing all sides of Riggan, who still thinks that he is the superhero once everyone loved.

Birdman, as we may call the alter ego, the past of Riggan, constantly reminds Michael's character that he can easily reclaim past glory, all he needs is to go out, forget everything he does and just become Birdman once again. On the other hand, Riggan, who still believes to be a hero in the bottom of his heart, does not want to give a try, he keeps refusing until a new lead actor Mike (Edward Norton) joins his cast and messes his work up.

Obviously, Riggan has no superpowers, he can not fly or move subjects with his mind, these all, including Birdman, is inside his head. Do not believe any person telling that all these are real. Two simple fact from film witness that it's just an imagination. First, when Riggan is alone in the room, camera shows that he moves objects without a physical connection and the moment anyone comes in, that person sees how Riggan actually throws those objects. Second, after the "flying" scene, we see a taxi driver who chases Keaton's character asking why he did not pay for the service. It means, he never flew, he just draw a cab.

Speaking about flying scene, once again, great job Emmanuel Lubezki, whose camera work just made every scene unbelievably enjoyable. Especially, the one, where Riggan believes he flies through New York skyscrapers. But honestly, every other scene had a great beauty in it. The stage scenes, with thunderstorms is a great example of perfect work with lights.

The rest of Oscar and SAG nominee cast is no less good as lead. Edward Norton as an eccentric actor, who tries to get the control over play, is amazing, entertaining and witty. His scenes are so dynamic, weird and funny. So is Emma Stone, who is my favorite in this film. Her portrayal of Riggan's troubled daughter Sam is the best job she's done so far.

Truly best part of Birdman is the job Iñárritu did for this film, both directing and writing. The idea itself is beyond originality. Story as a whole is wonderful focusing on so many things, while dialogues, character and scenes are both complex and interesting. He as a director managed to craft a movie that will make you think and enjoy your movie going experience. I don't think any other person could do it better to show what is going in the mind of main character. Birdman has also one of the best endings I've seen so far. The scene where Sam looks up in the window and smiles, as if she saw her father.

A lot discussions have been about this controversial ending. Even director was asked and he obviously left the question open for interpretation. One definite thing we can say is that, Riggan did not fly, so Sam did not see him in the air. It would be just out of logic. Alejandro used "flying" as an metaphor of freedom, of chasing dreams, of doing whatever you want. Everything about superhero Birdman was an indication of personal liberty, escaping from reality that killed, consumed Riggan. Having said that, final scene should be interpreted that he finally did what he wanted to to, broke out and reclaimed the freedom.

But how did he do it? If we consider that he disappeared from window, then it might mean he killed himself. This idea would be true if we remember the stage scene where Riggan, by mistake (?) shoots a gun, in nose. So, if he committed a suicide, why is Sam smiling? Metaphorically, this should mean that finally, she was seeing her father as he always saw himself and wanted other to see: important, still strong, beloved and a person who matters.

So, I more go with suicide, because disappearing from the window can not be imaginary, but imaginary is what happens later: Sam first looks down, and sees her father dead, then looks up to show that she finally got Riggan the way he always wanted to be perceived.

In conclusions, Birdman is one of the best works this year in every sense. It succeeds to create an interesting story, being perfectly acted, directed and written.
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Tiflisi (2014– )
2/10
Exceptionally poor writing makes this show horrible
16 January 2015
Tiflisi, which is an old name of Georgia's capital Tbilisi, is new history TV show about period of 19th century, after serfdom was abolished. It mostly concentrates on wrangling between nobles of the city to gain the control of capital and therefore regulate slavery, which turns out to be the most profitable "job" in the period.

While police has no control over crime, a group of people, mostly those of convicted in different type of crimes, decide to stand against upcoming force and stop the human trade. In the end, it's a battle of three parties, two noble families and one "robin hoods".

Having a look at the show, it looks like it cost a lot, because the producers did really try to give some production value and it is evident from massive production design, costumes and how they tried to recreate old views of Tbilisi. In some cases they succeed but a good show is never about technicalities at all.

I did not like Tiflisi, for mostly it's terrible writing. The story, which only focuses on the problem described above, is nothing close to reality of the corresponding period and even it was, it lacks some plot twists and interesting characters. The dialogues are poorly written and mostly because the speaking language it extremely modern, which is hugely different from the one spoken two centuries ago. Honestly, it's a quite easy job to resurrect old fashioned dialogues, at least, based on multiple novels from the same period or any other source material. What I saw here, is just modern characters, with modern vocabulary and behavior, living in a town which looks like old capital.

This problem is evident in most scenes and especially in those of swearing and they are a lot. I am not sure how common it was to swear in every sentence, back in 19th century, but I believe it was different from what we say now.

As for characters, they all are fictional and unfortunately absolutely underwritten. None of them, have this common "character development" process throughout the first season. Even though the writers went with cliché characters, they are nothing close to an average person you could imagine in similar show.

First look gives an impression that Tiflisi is technically well done. In some way it is, especially with notably good production design, but then you notice something very modern in the streets, for instance metal gratings on the windows which became popular a century later, or marble streets, which is not even real today.

Camera work is OK. Just better than most Georgian shows and it succeeds to capture some good images and colors. And I also liked score. It's a mix of traditional folk music with something modern and it really sounds well, perfectly capturing general spirit of show.

Another problem with Tiflisi is acting, which looks very theatrical, nothing alike what I've seen in other TV shows. I understand that most actors there are theater actors and they perform as they'd have done it in a play, but the fact that they have not transformed in any sense as an actor, is just unprofessional. Left this alone, I find casting of some of them to be inappropriate, for instance, Goga Barbakadze, who is a good comedy actor, but he as a dramatic noble does not work for me.

To conclude, Tiflisi is unsuccessful attempt to create something authentic and mostly because it fails to create an engaging story and characters one would feel some affection for.
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9/10
One of the best war/biopic dramas with two brilliant performances by Benedict and Keira
9 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The Imitation Game isn't simply a biographic movie, it's rather complex, detail oriented story of morality, of heroism and of what really matters in life, on the example of one particular brilliant mind - British mathematician Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). Because of its many layers, the film starts with voice over of Alan, urging someone (a policemen interrogating him? or the viewers? or both?) to listen carefully, to pay attention and if you decide to stay, than everything is your responsibility. I found the start very intrigue, as if it prepared for something very big, very deeply emotional and satisfactory.

We meet Mr. Turing in his lab, at his house, which was just robbed, working with some chemicals and he is instantly introduced as a work dedicated person, who cares less about other's opinions and is extremely pragmatic. Then the scene switches to his interview with Commander Denniston (Charles Dance of Game of Thrones), who's looking for smart people to do some extremely confidential work. And here Alan becomes even more awkward and smarter the same time. Whole dialogue is a battle of two different minds and personalities, where Benedict's character is a determined, super intelligent person, who exactly knows what he capable of is. He gets the job with one word Enigma and joins a group of scientists working on decoding German messages. The team includes Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode of The Good Wife), John Cairncross (Allen Leech) and others. Basically, what they do is checking 159 million, million, million (18 zeros) code variations in exactly 18 hours, which sounds and is impossible. That's why, Alan decides to create a machine that reads every message, every day, instantly. It takes almost 2 years of mistrust, fights and number of speeches to convince everyone that the machine will work.

Graham Moore's screenplay is smart enough to tell a story of Turing and the same time deliver a lot about the life in the Great Britain that time, stressing out some important problems and moral dilemmas. Much has been told how inaccurate the story of Alan is, that it almost forgets about his sexuality, or troubles. But I will never adjoin the complaints about homosexuality. Because whoever's life we talk about, their sexual life is not much relevant and especially if the movie is about one of the greatest scientist of XX century. The Imitation Game tells enough on Turing's troubles because of his orientation, but never defines his character as a result of it. In fact, the last scene is only about a "gay Alan" and his suffers. Basically, I found the screenplay very well written, with really smart and interesting lines and especially those of Cumberbatch's character. They are witty, somehow funny and very natural. Each dialogue precisely defines the true self of Alan. Even though he always behaves like a really bad guy, in heart, he is extremely caring and friendly, just in a different way.

Though Joan Clarke - a young brilliant scientist - Moore's screenplay shows the struggles of women in the last century. The scene where she is not believed to solve the newspaper puzzle by herself is masterful and the way Joan reigns over everyone in the room almost made me applause. But true message, in my opinion, is the morality of war. When the group decode German messages, they have a choice - either make it public and save everyone under imminent threat, which means Germans change the communication system and Alan's work is useless, or let Germans continue killing and just prevent mathematically calculated maximum number of human losses. The latest is a smart decision, but it also means that these scientists should decide who lives and who dies, but it also guarantees to win the war. They choose winning the war.

Director Morten Tyldum transforms the whole drama from words to the screen. He crafted story with cast of masters and threw us in the era of enigma, making the viewers emotionally attached to every decision or action of main characters. And you will feel that when Enigma machine decodes the first message. It just gave me goosebumps. Morten's work with camera is enough reason to praise him, the vision how he shows us things, the production design and some beautiful shots. He has made a movie that is both eye candy and smart.

However, the reason most people will remember The Imitation Game is two outstanding performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. It's arguably Benedict's best performance so far, even better than Sherlock. There are some similarities between Turing and Holmes, both are bad at people, both are socially awkward, so it could not have been easier for him to portray Alan. But he does something extraordinary here, expressing his character in every his word, look and nerve. His brilliant performance made possible to feel the despair of character in the last scene, where Turing is already on medication. While Keira's character does not have such emotional scenes, she still is mind-blowing bringing Joan to the screen. There is one scene, where Knightley is exceptional and perfectly shows strength of Clarke - where Alan breaks up with her and she gives a speech how strong she is and that she will not give others chance to ruin her life.

The rest of cast does equally good job, from Charles Dance to Mark Strong, who plays head of MI6 special unit, in between including Matthew Goode, Alex Lawther - young Alan Turing and Matthew Beard. Even though Goode was amazing here, I'm still waiting for his time to shine, because he's damn great actor.

Movie is technically well done with great production design, cinematography, costumes and editing. Oscar winner editor William Goldenberg (Argo) cuts the scenes so that it feels well-paced and never gets boring. Cinematographer Oscar Faura (The Machinist) captures some beautiful shots of destroyed city, battle field and Bletchley Park.
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Pride (I) (2014)
8/10
Pride is a hilarious British film with lots of British humor and great cast
8 January 2015
This is not a fiction or product of some creative mind, it's all the nearest history of the Great Britain. During the British Miner's strike in 1984, a group of lesbian and gay activists decided to raise some money to help families of those affected by the strike. Having decided so, they contacted to The National Union of Mineworkers - the organizers of almost two year strike - and suggested their full support. However, the Union declined it due to the union's worries about being openly associated with a gay group. So the activists decided to directly take their donations to Onllwyn - a small mining village in Wales. This is considered to be the birth of organization Lesbians and Gays Support Miners (LGSM) that finally managed to help affected citizens recover from this long running problem.

This is the 80s, when homophobia in Britain is still real and well supported. But the movie opens and ends with two gay prides, where the first one coincides with closeted young boy's birthday, he's name is Joe (George MacKay) and it's his first ever march. This is where he meets Mark (Ben Schnetzer) and his friends, who genuinely believe that they can do some good for miners in Wales. Uniting in a group of several people, they decide to meet Dai (Paddy Considine), who unofficially represents the workers. This is where the story of solidarity, community and inner fears starts.

Pride genuinely feels so good, it's funny, delightful with lots of heart in it. It got everything one could ask from a good comedy: British humor, honesty and a lot laughs. The primary reason why this film works is its amazing cast of many unfamiliar and some familiar faces, like Andrew Scott, who plays a boyfriend of Dominic West's character Jonathan. But they all are brilliant as a whole. Stephen Beresford's screenplay is very smart, witty, focusing on many things, including AIDS panic, characters personal life and social issues, that definitely can make a lot people think. While it may sound a bit dramatic, Pride does not suffer from the lack of funny moments and by funny I mean hilarious to tears. Each scene which includes the old ladies from Onllwyn can make anyone cry with laughter, because the way they deal with first encounter with "actual" gay and lesbian people is just devastatingly joyful.

Beresford manages to demonstrate the difference between generations by making old local folks meet the young Londoners and the way they discover each other is so entertaining that you never feel the length of almost two hours. It has number of quotable lines, that are very natural and exemplary comic (my favorite - "Where are my Lesbians"). Director Matthew Warchus, on the other hand, managed to turn a very good screenplay and great cast into most adorable movie this year.

Film has some uniquely memorable moments. For instance, Jonathan's first dance in Wales, which made him super popular even among mine workers, who despised LGSM members before. Or the ladies visiting gay clubs, fetish clubs for the first time or them finding dildo and porn journals in Gethin's room. And if you think that this is not funny on paper, then you should definitely see Pride. The art of this film is that it makes small moments exceptionally haunting.

As I said before, the cast works perfectly as a whole. There are no single outstandingly good performances, that can be memorable for a long time, but everyone doing their job is what makes a good cast.

Considering all above said, Golden Globe nomination for Best Comedy/Musical did not come as a surprise for me. Pride can absolutely be deserving nominee for Original Screenplay at Oscars and I won't whimper if it takes some other film's node in this category.
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Whiplash (2014)
9/10
Whiplash is incredibly tempered film with two brilliant performances by Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons
29 December 2014
Whiplash is mindblowing story of success and dreams and the question of how far would we go to achieve those goals. Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller) went all the way to be the best at Shaffer Conservatory of Music, in New York, in the whole world. At Shaffer, being the best means to be accepted by Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) at his class and still, it's always just the beginning and the road is never easy. Fletcher is an eccentric, charismatic, harsh, indifferent asshole. He is the best teacher and the worst person the same time, so it's always intense to be in the same room with him. Nieman, to the contrary, is an young boy full of dreams, skills and guts who is just starting to step into the jazz world. His temper and obsession with jazz grabs Terence's attention who invites the newbie to the class.

Even though Andrew has heard a lot horrible things about Fletcher, he experiences something only one man had experienced before - and he then committed a suicide. Even though Teller's character is extremely talented, there is never enough for his teacher, who does literally everything to turn his students into someones exceptionally brilliant. Unheardly difficult practice sessions are the least of problems, when you might be thrown a chair at, if you play a note slightly faster or slower. But Nieman is never ready to give up - ends relationship, sleeps with drums and does everything to get a permanent drummer place. And it all ends up with mind blowing competition between two brilliant minds creating a spectacular journey from day one of their meeting to its end.

Whiplash is a masterful movie for so many reasons. Even though it's a small film, it has a lot interesting and memorable to suggest - two phenomenal performances, good story, number of crucial questions/answers and it will make you fall in love with Jazz.

Fairly, I'd start with performances and by performances I not only mean J.K. Simmons, who gets all well deserved attention/awards, but Miles Teller, who definitely delivered so far his best and career changing performance, that I will remember for a long time. Teller is unbelievably perfect as Andrew Nielsen who has plenty of important, emotional, twisty moments that can be a dreamy material for any Hollywood actor. He nails all of them, started from teardrops on the first lesson, to late-night practices, in the middle with rage, fights against Fletcher. He completely becomes his character, this young, confused, though very strong kid who decides to go against the tyrant intimidating the whole NY music world.

There is not much I can add to what has been said about J.K. Simmons's performance: it's breathtaking. He managed to create a monster from a man who was really a monster and the same time he somehow feels sympathetic. Because of his brilliant acting, whenever you see Fletcher on the screen you freeze just exactly the way his students do and this emotions stuck in my head very deeply even though I saw Whiplash couple of weeks ago.

Besides the fact that Damien Chazelle's screenplay is an amazing material for both actors, it's a very challenging story. It makes you question so many things and most importantly how ready are you to fight for being the best. Showing the relationship of those two people gives you multiple answers and then it's up to your choice. Being written and directed by the same guy, Damien manages to craft a beautiful story and deliver it in the way that you feel every second of it and never gets boring. The reason why I appreciate his work is that it influenced my attitude towards jazz in a good way, it actually made me to listen to it, to feel it and it's not something many films can not do out there. The way he shot scenes, with close-ups, made feelings more acute and sequences were changing as fast as the rhymes of music. Each second, where they play an actual music named Whiplash is a masterpiece of editing, masterpiece of sound and as a whole hugely influential scenes.

I loved how Chazelle played with blood scenes - showing Andrew's bruised hands, blood spots on drums and sticks - it all aggravated emotions how hard it was for the character to follow the his own and his teacher's ego.

In conclusion, Whiplash is one of the most memorable movies I've seen this year, with two unforgettable performances, a quality writing and directing. It's an absolute must see.
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Interstellar (2014)
7/10
Not one of Nolan's classics that could have been at least more beautiful than Gravity
25 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Imagine the Earth on the edge of extinction, cataclysm and windy storms, that threatens lives of everyone and probably the generation we live with may be the last one. The only way out is to think of new home, where mankind can safely reside with all its species. Interstellar is a story of the voyage that aims saving our civilization and this journey takes place not only within the space, but minds of each character. It's a plain illustration of who we really are, what is our destiny (if there is any), if there is anything superficial than human mind and what is beyond the space we see.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a farmer living with his two kids and father-in-law in the corn fields. He is an ex NASA astronaut, who's given up the job after the tragic incident and abolition of NASA itself. His ten year old daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) believes that she's seeing ghosts in her room, who try to talk to her, to give some kind of signs but of course, nobody believes it. Until Cooper himself finds encrypted coordinates in the dust storm and gets to secret NASA base. Professor Brand (Michael Cane), who is the head of this secret mission, explains that the organization has been working on options to save humanity, by sending astronauts through a wormhole in another galaxies. Obviously, Cooper turns out to be a perfect candidacy as a pilot to save the world. While deciding to be the hero, his daughter Murphy is not that happy thinking of father gone for indefinite period of time, baring in mind that her "ghost" urges to "STAY" on the earth. But who listens to kids!

So, now retired farmer leaves home with three other astronauts, including Brand (Anne Hathaway) heading to wormhole and landing on Miller planet, where time moves too slowly - an hour of Miller planet equals to 7 years on the Earth. It takes exactly one hour for them to understand that humanity can not survive gigantic waves and they have to seek another options.

Without spoiling everything, here is what I think about Interstellar - it could have been so much better in both substantive and visual ways. But it failed to impress and it's just an ordinary sci-fi, with great cast and phenomenal music.

No matter how good director Nolan is, he is not that good writer and this film just witnesses it. There is nothing original about the idea of Earth dying, or moving through space to seek safe heaven, there is nothing original in spaceships or different dimensions. The movie lasts 169 mins and there is almost zero character development, all of them are utterly underwritten, maybe except Murphy - she was OK. You could notice nothing much about dialogues or plot twists, except the idea of 5th dimension. Because 5th dimension is a theory, Nolan created three dimension scene (bookshelf scenes in the end) to demonstrate that there can be 5 dimensions where past, present and future are interrelated and you can change any of them.

Many people, and mostly freak fans of Nolan, saw number of biblical parallels - for instance, 12 missions sent to space as an allusion of Jesus 12 apostles and that Cooper was 33 when he left Earth to sacrifice himself for other (just like Jesus did?). They can be right, but come on, does referral to the bible count as original? Anyone can do this and think of these analogies and there is nothing exceptional in "stealing" ideas from a (pardon to Christians) fantasy book.

Nolan has the answer what makes universe work and defines all gravitational, time/space laws - LOVE. Through Hathaway's character, he explains why love should be a moving force for everyone and that love is the power that enhances our survival instinct. Shortly, I found it odd and could not connect much.

Another probable reason a sci-fi can be really good is its visuals. Well, we leave in the era after Gravity, which just stunned every single shot in the space and gave totally different understanding what it looks like out there. And logically, Nolan could have outdone it, taking into consideration that actions take place in many different galaxies and planets. But no! Honestly, there was nothing exceptionally good about cinematography or art direction. There were few good shots, but mostly, it all was black, dark and least colorful. While Alfonso Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki captured the most beautiful shots of our planet.

The most valuable thing in Interstellar was Hans Zimmer's music, which may not be his best work, but it worked well, the main theme was breathtaking and I think he deserves some award love for this work. To compare, this score is nothing close to Inception but it's better than The Dark Knight trilogy.

Cast was good. Especially young actress Mackenzie Foy who did a brilliant job portraying young Murphy. She felt very emotional and true all the time and her character was the most sympathetic one to me. McConaughey had a good scene, when he watches a video from his son, who turns out to be grown a lot in the past hour, while he resided on Miller planet. He has an emotional breakdown and even though it's almost silent scene, Matthew's eyes tell it all. But there is something wrong with his performance - he sounded like he whistled all the time, just like he did in The Wolf of Wall Street. It just draw me crazy.

Christopher, as a director, could have done more serious work by making the film more technically complicated, visually stunning and creating more consistent plot. Anyone who saw both Gravity and Interstellar will fairly admit that the first one was more impressive and beautiful.
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9/10
Arguably, Anderson's best work and the most memorable film this year
25 December 2014
The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson's look at a story of Gustav H (Ralph Fiennes) - a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel and a lobby boy Zero Moustafa, who found themselves in a huge scandal between wars. Movie starts in 1985, under a late-Communist town of cemeteries. An old writer (Tom Wilkinson) drives away his grandson and recalls the time in 1968 when his younger self (Jude Law) stayed Grand Budapest Hotel and became friend with its owner, Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham).

Moustafa on his behalf tells a story of him working at the Grand Budapest Hotel with its owner Mr. Gustav. He was a man of particular character, loved by rich old ladies who felt a lot younger in his company. This characteristic of him brought a lot loyal customers, I should say, mostly fake blond grannies. Among them was Madame D. who seemingly was in love with hotel owner. The story of Gustav starts with her departure from Grand Budapest willing to take late-lover with her. Shortly after that, he gets a notice about death of this extremely rich lady and Gustav decides to pay her a farewell visit.

As it turns out, Madame D. has a huge family of sisters, brothers.and son, who all are fighting for her wealth. Among others, concierge gets some part of it - the most valuable painting A Boy with an Apple. Being disgraced by will of departed, her son Dmitri (Andrien Brody) questions validity of the will and accordingly, Gustav has to steal the painting.

This is where the fun starts - heirs hunting over stolen piece of art. This is where Wes delivers haunting dark comedy and plenty of enjoyment.

The Grand Budapest Hotel has everything we appreciate in Anderson's works. Most importantly, great visuals and easy to follow fun story. First thing, obvious from very beginning is how stunning everything looks in this film - production design, costumes, cinematography. Last year, Moonrise Kingdom had something we don't often see in contemporary movies and this year, Wes definitely improves any his previous works.

This amazing work with colors, designs and decorations brings whole story to another level of enjoyment. It entertains eyes and gets us closer to events happening on the screen. The darker story becomes, the more colorful art direction is. On the paper, the combination of such visuals and screenplay looks quite weird and experimental, however in practice I can not imagine The Grand Budapest Hotel without either of them. It takes place in plenty of different locations, started from Hotel to Mountains and prison in between. Each of them is as spectacular as it is.

Anderson, the same time, perfectly deals with storytelling with light, dark and definitely funny humor. It does not disappoint you, even more, it makes you sure that you've got the most engaging and diverting an hour and a half ahead.

What I also liked is how quickly everything happens. Movie consists of five chapters and they all play in speed of light. Therefore, it never shows unnecessary layers.

Films would not be that perfect without this all-star cast, that includes Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, William Defoe, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Nilson and many others. They all do great job and especially Ralph, who's portrayal of Gustav H. is beyond hilarious. But biggest kudos to Tony Revolori for playing Zero aka the Lobby Boy, who was both funny, sad, interesting and did something new and very good. He in fact co-leads with Fiennes and is no less good than him, if not better.

And finally, the music by Alexander Desplat makes all above said a lot better. Desplat, who I think composes one of the best music currently, made another award worthy scores that absolutely is in cosistance with everything director tries to tell.

All in all, The Grand Budapest Hotel is the most entertaining movie of this year. Don't hesitate to watch it.
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9/10
One of the most delightful films this year
25 December 2014
The Skeleton Twins is director Craig Johnson's second movie, starring Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as twins who've been apart for a while and are reunited after Milo's (Hader) suicide attempt. Every siblings' story has a background, deeply buried in their memories but somehow sticking up to the surface of each's mind time after time. Maggie and Milo have their own.

Milo is out gay man with romance history with his professor, whose career and life was almost ruined when Maggie learned about their relationship. Even though all went well, Milo lost love of his life, which contributed him moving to L.A. to pursue an acting career. Just because he dreamed too big, he kept feeling like a real loser which boiled down to unsuccessful act of suicide. Now Maggie - who really enjoys playing a big sister - is the one to take care of him. When they are forced to go back to each other, they re-examine their relationship and personal lives.

Maggie is happily married to "nature frat boy" - a hardworking, sweet, hottish and brilliant lover named Lance (Luke Wilson). But her happiness is tested whenever she feels presence of some good men, like her scuba instructor Billy (Boyd Holbrook) - an extremely sexy, tattooed, blond guy. Even though she truly loves her husband, she can not help herself having sex with Billy. Maggie knows she is f*cked up and then here comes a twin brother, who can make any miserable life feel like perfection. Coming back to hometown is not easy for Milo, because he never got over with breakup. A good closure is needed in the end every relationship, so he drops by a library his ex - Rich (Ty Burell) - works. Even though both know how bad idea a "reunion" can be, they still get together "for the sake of old times".

On the paper, all that I told looks very ordinary, something you can expect from any dramedy out there. But I'll still defend this one, if it needs one. Mark Heyman (known for Black Swan) and Craig Johnson's screenplay is just amazing in all aspects a good screenplay should be: it has a very natural, witty, interesting dialogues, with enough humor and drama in it. It never goes too deep in philosophy, but it genuinely brings some delightful fun. It is true that none of the characters are either original or complex, but they perfectly fit the average description of any person around us, but I did not care. The story was good enough to keep me watching and that's what matters. What I liked here is some scenes with a huge heart and emotions in it, for instance, the twin dance scene on Starship hit "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now". With the majestic acting of both leads, I absolutely enjoyed it.

Most importantly, I loved The Skeleton Twins because of Hader and Wiig. Never been their huge fan, but what Bill did here was beyond exciting. His portrayal of young, unsuccessful gay man was very emotional, true and memorably. I will remember his performance for a quite long time. I am not sure what is this about, but I found him extremely entertaining and funny, also real. And Kristen sold some great lines and thoughts of her character perfectly. This duo had unimaginably great chemistry on the screen.

I'd gladly praise Johnson's work here, because be brought a dysfunctional family drama and comedy together and crafted it into something very memorable. Maybe comedy directors don't have to deal with a lot technical work, or think about camera angles, but filming a movie in such a lovely way, whatever it needs, amounts to a good job.

To conclude, The Skeleton Twins is one of the best movies I've seen so far and my favorite. What we've seen so far, it does not get much awards attention, even though I believe Bill Hader deserves one.
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7/10
A good film that mostly works because of two perfect leads
25 December 2014
The Theory of Everything is a James Marsh's movie about the life, struggles and greatest discovery of today's greatest physic Stephen Hawking (played by Eddie Redmayne). The movie starts when Stephen - a Cambridge science student meets Jane, his future wife, an arts student and leads to the point where they divorce and Mr. Hawking becomes widely acknowledged scientist for his black hole theory. Anthony McCarten's screenplay tells the whole story in between, how those two fought against motor neuron disease, Stephen was diagnosed while attending Cambridge.

This movie caught my attention from the very first trailer, which gave a brilliant idea about masterful acting of Eddie. It's always fancy to watch an actor playing someone living in the same decade as you, a person you have admired, read about, watched and especially, if that person has such some kind of disability - it definitely makes acting work a lot harder. So, I was very much wanting to know how Redmayne, who I'd loved for Les Miserables, dealt with it. Accordingly, it would be fair if I start with performances and especially him.

Eddie Redmayne would not necessarily be an obvious choice for this role. He has not done much before it and in the beginning, I could not fully get the idea of him playing such an important person in today's science. But then I watched The Theory of Everything and I was assured. I think he is good in every sense he could have been and especially in the second part of the film, where motor neuron disease takes over his life.

To begin with, shooting of the film has not been as successive as events in the film, they had to shoot parts from the beginning and the end the same time and Eddie had to switch form "healthy" Stephen to "disabled" one. Surprisingly, he nails both part of his job. In the beginning he is a shy, nerdy student, having his own world and visions, meeting a girl of his dreams and falling in love. As the story evolves, Hawking becomes more attacked by his disease and his physical capabilities become more limited. Eddie perfectly captures both emotional and physical condition of persons having the same problems. On the one hand, he is a scientist who wants to live just become he has something to prove and other other hand, he is a person in love who want to live because of a woman in his life.

However, his good acting is mostly defined by complexity of physical work, rather than emotional. But this struggle never goes away without mental stress and I think Eddie manages to bring the whole pack of feelings on the surface.

Felicity Jones received raving reviews - good ones and bad ones. I think mine would be more positive, than negative, because I really liked her. She was not extraordinary, or did she neither have some big emotional moments. To the contrary, her character is a quiet act, a person behind everything and still invisible. She comforts every her scene in the movie and masterfully captures the devotion Jane Hawking had towards her husband.

The rest of cast is not memorable at all, not in a good way, not in a bad way. They just were there, doing their job and I honestly don't remember most, even though I watched the film a week ago or so.

Anthony McCarten adopted Jane Hawking's book and transformed it in quite a good piece of screenplay. I would not dare to say that it was brilliant, or something, but it had some witty dialogues, with a lot quotable lines. My favorite is this one: - I study marriage of space and time - A perfect couple

It's somehow weirdly romantic, isn't it?

So, the reason I only remember only romantic lines is far too obvious, this is where director and writer took it. I don't want to believe that biography of Stephen Hawking does not go further than his relationship with wife or children. I am sure there have been quite many ups and downs in his career or scientific works and telling a story about him, without actually showing Hawking working on something that made Stephen known, is just stupid. The only think I understand is that they filmed an award-bait movie, mostly focused on two leads and giving them anything that can grab couple of honors.

The Theory of Everything was visually well built with some quality production and costume design, good camera shots (the one pictures above) and impressive makeups. Most importantly, music was very good. Jóhann Jóhannsson created a romantic music that perfectly accompanied film's dramatic sequence and helped to tell the story a lot. I found myself pausing and rewinding the movie just to listen to specific track.

To briefly say, The Theory of Everything is a good movie in the sense of two lead acts, who very much will be remembered this award season and I am sure, at least, Eddie gets a lot attention. I honestly hope for Felicity's big chances, but you can never be sure if such a quiet role gets huge feedback.
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Gone Girl (2014)
10/10
Gone Girl is one of the best adaptations ever screened with Rosamund Pike's performance of decade
20 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The Book has the most intrigue start, I've ever read: When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with" Enough suspense to later blame Nick Dunne in disappearance of his wife, on the exact day of their 5th anniversary. But even later, Flynn gives a lot reasons to believe that a good wife, amazing Amy, loving woman became a victim of unfaithful husband. And you will partly be true.

It was a wise decision that Gillian herself adopted it as a screenplay, because she was the only one who could fully capture the suspense, characters and story behind the lines. She basically brought everything to the screen, tiny details, all important dialogs and presented characters as she wrote couple of years ago. Because of this precise adaptation we first meet husband and get him fully known, thinking that he is an asshole, cheater and Amy Elliott-Dunne - a smart, beautiful, charming, interesting wife. Definitely a good one. And then we start exploring Amy's character, step by step and the truth just opens up to shock us.

Film gives a lot to think about, but most importantly how false can things be in life, even marriage, how people can destroy you for "nothing" and how important job media does in it. It's a worst nightmare of so called American Dream: a perfect girl, a perfect boy = perfect life! But no. "what are you thinking? How are you feeling? What have we done to each other" - these are questions marriage is all about, just understanding and learning each other. Because if anyone thinks that people stay the same after they sign some formal papers, they are wrong - just like main characters. They both thought they married persons of their dreams: Nick was the one who "saved" Amy and Amy was a sweet, loving wife. When time passes, and because "marriage is hard work", they expose true selves and marriage stops working. And when marriage stops working, Nick makes mistakes and Amy decides that he shall not be excused. She decides to rebuild a husband she married to, the perfect man for her, the one she can control, who would admire Amazing Amy and make him feel important.

Both lead characters are perfectly written. He is a guy who loved her wife for who she pretended to be. And yes, I think Amy was different in the beginning and as relationship got deeper, he started to look beyond the surface of wife's character. He did not like it and never tried to make it work. Just went out and enjoyed the first tw*t he met. While Amy behaves differently - she prepares a lesson for husband, to make him perfect again, because Amy Elliott-Dunne is not one of those who lose.

A lot has been told about misogyny in Gone Girl. Are you kidding me, people? This is a movie, and a book, with probably the strongest female character and it's nothing but any feminist dream come true. Amy is the woman who had controlled any man in her life, who has won any battle against people who thought she was just another Cool Girl. She is smart, strong, unbeatable, capable of manipulating her husband the way she wants. The movie itself criticizes misogyny in society for victimizing women and envisioning Amy as someone who needed to be protected. I think that Gillian wrote one of the most memorable and solid women in fictional movie/book history.

Flynn also changed the ending in film. I think it tells technically the same story. But I kind of preferred book where Nick tells Amy: ... I feel sorry for you... because every morning you have to wake up and be you It hinted some important things: first, that they finally decided to be themselves and most probably, Nick would spent the rest of his life with Amy - and it means that she wins, forever. The movie ending, makes it a little more vague.

Most of book readers wanted to know how they would screen Amy's diary entry about The Cool Girls. And you know? Fincher nailed it. Amy passing these all kind of girls and being full of hate was one of the best parts of film.

Among other things, Gone Girl has some brilliant cinematography. Camera captures some brilliant shots, which are equally creepy as the story itself. Scene of Nick Dunne and the cat with background of camera flashes blew my mind. It helps to imagine him as a killer and as a bad guy. There are so many scenes, where camera angles can tell the whole story, you should just see it.

Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor once again created brilliant score. The music plays huge part here and their creepy soundtrack, especially in the beginning and end, sell spirit of the movie. Each scene has very carefully chosen music, matching with dialogs, it keeps you ears entertained but focused on the plot.

This film would not be anything without two brilliant lead performances. Most importantly, Rosamund Pike. She delivers performance of her career. I can not imagine anyone being so perfect portraying such complex, weird, creepy, sociopath intelligent woman, who turns out to be the strongest. Rosamund literally disappears in her character, nailing every scene, from smiles to witty dialogs. Her voice makes it all pure enjoyment. It even caused goosebumps in me. Terrifying. That's why I believe Pike is the best actress this year. Sorry all overdue veterans, but she deserves all awards. No doubt.

And Ben Affleck, so widely hates as an actor, is also brilliant. I know these fake smiles are almost natural, the reason he got this part, but still, he absolutely sells Nick's character.

Gone Girl is definitely the best film of the year, so far.
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The Good Wife: Shiny Objects (2014)
Season 6, Episode 5
10/10
6th seasons best episode so far: Alicia's campaign has just kicked off
20 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Last week episode Oppo Research mostly explored Alicia's past in the perspective of her candidacy as a States Attorney. Her new manager, Jonathan, tried to dig out every possible loophole in her and her family's past that lead us to secrets we never knew. Practically, 4th episode was a single subject one, having almost nothing to do with Mrs Florrick's new firm or litigation.

Shiny Objects, to the contrary, suggest multi-plot episode taking us into the courtroom, in Florrick/Agos/Lockhart office and guiding us through Alicia's campaign start. In this case, once again, The Good Wife writers managed to bring an amazingly paced episode, very smart story and witty dialogues - whole package of what we love about this show.

I should start with appearance of Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), who has always stealing the show here. Her being one of my favorite characters in the Good Wife, was the reason I had huge expectations. In fact, it was a lot better.

Alicia and Dean represent a female client who's been fired because of her gender and now they are suing for sexism. Unexpectedly, the second chair for defense is Miss Tascioni, for the very first time, Alicia is Elsbeth are on the opposing sides of courtroom. This was a tough battle, because Carrie's character is extremely smart, original and logical, while Julianne's character is the best at talking and law. I am sure it would be hard to pick a winner between those two, so writers came up with a better solution - to reunite the disputing parties against States Attorney charges and it seems, in the next episode, we will be seeing Alicia and Elsbeth defending their joint clients together from more serious crime.

The court scenes was nothing but pure perfection, as it has been in previous 5 seasons. It was competitive, live, energetic and very interesting, equally focusing on both parties. I liked how Mrs Florrick built her defense against Miss Tascioni and how full of surprises her cross examinations were. I sometimes genuinely think that writers team are the best lawyers in the US.

Alicia's campaign is officially kicked off in Shiny Objects. She's getting an endorsement of Peter and Finn Polmar. Governor and Eli are not happy about it and force to reject ASA's endorsement on open event, however she's as stubborn as ever. The tension leads to a brilliant "tunnel scene", where Alicia just busts Peter's balls, playing the strongest version of herself. She had a clear message that now she is a lot stronger, more determines and independent. That scene had very good lines and brilliant acting from both actors.

As the result, Alicia Florrick gets two endorsements, which shall be considered to be a very successful start of campaign.

Something very serious happens inside Florrick/Agos/Lockhart, the company is under malware attack blocking all and any corporate files and denying access to them. Even after paying requested 50,000 USD the computers still remained locked. Kalinda traces the attacker to Russia and tries to negotiate.

As for performances, Julianne Margulies was just outstanding. The tunnel scene was her best acting in current season. Carrie Preston was no less good, she absolutely stole every second of her appearance in the courtroom. Chris Noth's good moments should also be noted, especially during the endorsement talks with his wife. I think that Diane Lockhart visiting David Lee was a great scene, where both actors did their best to make it enjoyable.

To conclude, Shiny Objects was the best episode in this season and probably one of the best as a whole.
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The Good Wife: Oppo Research (2014)
Season 6, Episode 4
10/10
Good enough to keep engaged
13 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
In previous episode, Alicia approaches to Eli Gold regarding her running as States Attorney. And of course, he was more than ready for this moment and start of new exciting campaign. So, Oppo Research mostly concentrates on Alicia's issues, her background check and chances of winning the elections.

Since Eli is head of Governor's Office, he can not run another Florrick's campaign, that why he hires one of the best managers Jonathan Elfman. The first meeting between him and Mrs Florrick takes place in her residence discussing backgrounds, pros/cons of her candidacy. It seems, both, Eli and Elfman have done their job, digging out a lot about Alicia, including some news, she had no idea of, for instance, Zach's girlfriend's pregnancy and abortion, his brothers affairs and her mom spanking little child in the mall. Oppo Research is simply about how Alicia starts dealing with her family and her clients after she officially starts to run.

She has to drop Lemond Bishop and she negotiates with Cary and Diane to do so, but Mr. Bishop is neither happy about it, nor is going to change his attorney. Despite the fact that it's been a file motioned about his real estate and it's definitely happening because of Agos, he does not go away.

In this episode, Alicia has to deal with many things, including her family, their reactions and her work. In the meeting with her future campaign manager, we see how strong she is, how she responds to the questions and how strong she feels about herself. I also liked how sincere her character is, not trying to hide any uncertainty and just gives straight answers.

The best part of this episode was Alicia meeting with Finn. They have some connection, bond, that can be evolved to a very pleasant romance, and I am for it.

Oppo Research was a good episode, not one of the bests, but very well written and interesting. It mostly happens in one room, which is Alicia's apartment and it does not have this breathtaking pace, that overwhelms and explodes your mind. It's just a start of something very very big and I hope it comes soon.
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