2. Ex Machina
3. A Brilliant Young Mind (X+Y)
4. Beasts of No Nation
6. Love and Mercy
7. Inside Out
9. Straight Outta Compton
10. Kingsman: The Secret Service
1. The Revenant
2. Ex Machina
3. A Brilliant Young Mind (X+Y)
4. Beasts of No Nation
6. Love and Mercy
7. Inside Out
9. Straight Outta Compton
10. Kingsman: The Secret Service
I found this gem at a used movie store for $3 and I think it might have been my best movie purchase ever. Wow, just wow. I was told that this film was extremely slow and not that great, but to me this is one of the greatest tragedies in modern cinema. Sure, the film is a bit slow but the buildup is worth it. As the plot progresses, the drama increases to a point that I honestly did not want to blink in fear of missing a single moment. Yet, I was forced to blink several times as I could feel myself tearing up from the sheer beauty of what I saw and heard on screen.
The acting is a great place to start off my review. Let's just say that I have never been fond of Channing Tatum in any film. In Foxcatcher, I am finally forced to accept that Tatum has a talent for acting. In fact, I would not have minded at all if Tatum took home an Oscar for his part in the film. As always, Mark Ruffalo is superb in his role which breaks out about halfway through the film. But maybe an even more shocker to me in the film was Steve Carrel. Where did this personality come from? How was Carrel even cast in such a role? Well, I don't even care because he was amazing and probably the greatest casting choice for the role. Who knew that such a comedian could have such great power over a film's plot? I thought he was fantastic in The Big Short but that was nothing compared to this.
Foxcatcher deserves even more praise because of its artistic aspects. The movie is dragged out, keeping the audience sunken in their seats. Somehow I felt like I was falling further and further into the story though. Trapped in the delusional minds of each of the three main characters I was falling into a hole of tragedy that was simply inescapable. This might sound crazy, but it is exactly how I felt as the movie fell deeper and deeper into the plot. The string instrumental score helped keep me down with its sustained tones of buildup. The film was simply one of the greatest tragedies I have seen in quite a while and possibly ever.
The Bottom Line: Its an art film, a tragic film, and certainly a unique film that is worth every second of your attention.
With many great films under his belt, I have come to expect near-perfection in Tarantino's films. Proud to say that he is my favorite director of all time, I am always astonished with his direction. The Hateful Eight is another film that astonishes me because of its cast and style. Taking on a great task of creating a 70mm roadshow film in the modern day, Tarantino creates another movie that exceeds many of my expectations. However, I will say that in my opinion it is not one of his strongest films. Clocking in at three hours and seven minutes, the movie moved along quite quickly but never hit a climax that could compare to his previous films.
The first half of the film displays Tarantino's skill at bringing out great performances from his directing and writing. All of the characters clearly have some hidden background that are brought to the forefront of the film. As with every Tarantino movie, the audience is forced through a tense buildup until the second half of the film where everything will be revealed. That being said, the first half of the film showed off a brilliant script that was well-crafted by Tarantino himself. Yet, the second half of the film fell short in my opinion with its overly-dramatized violence. Of course violence is a crucial aspect of Tarantino's other films, but this one did not have the plot support to go along with the violence. Rather, the backstory of the characters falls a bit short of what I was expecting and hoping for. Nonetheless, the actors do their part in bringing justice to the screen. Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, and Tim Roth really shine while acting out a very well-written script.
In the script, race issues are directly tackled in a setting that occurs right after the end of the Civil War. As with Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight tackles slavery and the racial power struggle. Furthermore, Tarantino adds sexism into the mix with Daisy Domergue's character played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. The development of Leigh's character and Jackson's character twists around different power positions for both women and African-Americans in the post-Civil War society. Without any spoilers, you can expect a lot of violence that is used to sort out these social matters.
With this film, I must include the technical aspects which were truly superb. Starting off with the camerawork, Tarantino truly revives the 70mm format with the wide shots at the beginning of the film. The landscape is spectacular and reminiscent of old western films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I assume that trying to capture a blizzard on camera can be awfully hard, but the screen is often filled with snow and great winds that made me feel happy to be in the theater in the middle of winter. With that being said, all of the camerawork is what should be expected in a Tarantino film. Another great expectation from a Tarantino film is a deep music score. Once again, Ennio Morricone delivers exactly what Tarantino needs for The Hateful Eight. This is a dramatic score that has a very small western aspect to it. More than feeling like a western score, the music feels like a very subtle but hard-hitting score that works perfectly for Quentin.
The Bottom Line: Tarantino delivers another great film that is technically astonishing with familiar acting but falls a bit short in its overall plot-line.
From the creative mind of Adam McKay comes another comedy that is based on a more dramatic premise. The Big Short is a new type of film for those of us familiar with the Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers form of McKay movies. Rather than creating a straight comedy, McKay turns to drama with comedy to support the story. For an issue that is so hard to understand, McKay makes it entertaining and maybe more understandable. To be honest, I still have no idea how the economy collapsed in 2008 but the film definitely kept my attention. Maybe if I watch it about five more times it will all make sense!
The Big Short also has a star-studded cast that meshes quite well together. Seeing Christian Bale as a person who cannot fit into society but somehow ended up work at an investment company was awesome. Also, McKay's use of Steve Carell in a dramatic role was great. Certainly Carell has proven himself to be capable of taking on just about any role. Surely, the skills seen from the many actors and actresses will gain some Oscar buzz and hopefully quite a few nominations. Not to mention, this film had the greatest cameos and placement of cameos I have ever seen.
Put together all of these factors and you get a solid dramedy reminiscent of The Wolf of Wall Street. However, this film strives on more of an ensemble cast and it uses some more unique film devices. Often times, the actors break the fourth wall by talking directly to the audience. This always tells the audience that something fishy is up with the film and it builds a direct connection with the audience. This is just one of the tools that McKay uses in creating this glorious comedy or drama. I am not exactly sure which he was going for mostly, but it definitely works as both.
The Bottom Line: Expect a film reminiscent of McKay's previous works, but also deeply dramatic and full of crazy cinematic devices that might somehow leave you with no knowledge on the issue that it is trying to explain.
Now that Christmas is over, you probably think that you already have all your gifts. You thought wrong, here is my review of Krampus:
On December 25, 2015 I had the pleasure of watching this film in theaters. I must say that it is and isn't what I expected. I expected the odd CGI that was involved, but I did not expect the sort of quality that the film had. Also, I expected to be bored of the film within twenty minutes, but the film felt as short as twenty minutes. As you all know I am not the biggest horror fan around, but horror comedy is a different story. Krampus had a few jump scares here and there, but overall the film knew what it was trying to be. Odd interjections of comedy in the fashion of Troll 2 created a laughable, but also creepy product. Nonetheless, I did like the film for what it was.
Also, the cast was fun to watch with Adam Scott as a father, Toni Collette as a mother, that one creepy actress who played the grandmother, and David Koechner as every other character he usually is. To be honest, it seems to me that Koechner always plays the same exact role. This is a shame because he is such a great actor. I hope he eventually ends up in a situation similar to Steve Carell, where he can get some serious drama roles and show everyone just how talented he really is. With that little rant on David Koechner, I will leave you guys to watch the film yourselves. Let me know what you think in the comments below if you want to.
The Bottom Line: This is a fun horror comedy that could easily have a cult following if it were just a bit lower budgeted in production.
With tickets to see Tarantino's new film, I had to go back and watch the others again. Whether this will be successful or not, I have made it through the first film and have nine to go. After starting with Reservoir Dogs, I think that this task will not be too hard. I truly love this film and it is a film that strives off of witty dialogue, plot twists, a fantastic compilation soundtrack, and of course Taratino-esque violence. The classic shows off a star-studded cast that Tarantino still constantly works with. For example, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen are both appearing in The Hateful Eight and I am truly grateful for this. What amazing actors these two are, playing off of each others characters and giving there all for the dramatic story.
Of course, the plot brings quite a bit of ingenuity to the films. The who-dun-it model keeps the audience guessing until the very end. Not only that, the timeframe is unique as it shifts to past events and back into the present day. This helps the plot reveal itself in a much more mysterious method. This type of directing really set up and foreshadows a lot of Tarantino's later films as he has often used it over and over again for his sleek style.
Finally, it is crucial to bring up the compilation soundtrack for this film. This is another tool that Tarantino has used to compliment his movies. All of the 70s music really brings the audience into the time period that the movie supposedly takes place in. Maybe I just love 70s beats, but every scene has some sort of iconic piece of music that keeps me focused on the screen through its constantly pushing tempo. The music creates a flow that the film might not have without it.
The Bottom Line: This is a fantastic film that foreshadows most of Tarantino's later films through its unique style and method.
Well, looks like Will Smith is back on the big screen with another movie that had high expectations but fell short of them. Most of the blame for this one falls on the pacing of the film. For the first hour or so, the film seems utterly cluttered as it constantly shifts the story around. The audience is dragged around to a point where I felt that the focus of the film was completely lost. The odd thing is the film could easily find a focal point in the NFL story, but maybe there was too much backlash from the organization.
The really crappy part of the film is that Will Smith is actually quite good in the film. At first I thought that his Nigerian accent would get in the way of the film's progression, but it actually felt authentic to the point that I almost forgot that I was watching Will Smith. Yet, he was wasted since the film got muddled down in its lack of focus. While Smith was great, I still would have liked to see someone who could better fit the role. That's great that the casting crew got a big name actor and all, but come on. Let's start getting some fresh talent on the big screen!
My last critique is that the film felt quite safe. Sure it jabbed a bit at the NFL, but it could have gone so much further into the story. This probably contributed to the overall clutter of the film that fell short of my expectations. One memorable line uttered from Smith's character is "Tell the truth." Funny how this film managed to tell the truth and yet refuse to uncover the full story. Its as though the studio valued its relationships more than its morals. Oh well, guess that's just Hollywood.
The Bottom Line: Here's another film that had potential, but fell apart because of its lack of authenticity.
It has been quite a while, but I promise I am still here and ready to post quite a few more reviews in the upcoming weeks. This past week, I have spent much time preparing for the new Star Wars. In fact, in the past two days I watched episodes 1,3,5, and 6 to refresh my memory before viewing the new one. Before I go on, I will now rank the Star Wars film from my most favorite to my least favorite. Yes, some of you will be mad about this but my opinion is my opinion:
1. A New Hope
2. The Force Awakens
3. Return of the Jedi
4. Revenge of the Sith
5. The Empire Strikes Back (HERE IS WHERE EVERYONE STOPS READING MY BLOG FOREVER)
6. Attack of the Clones
7. The Phantom Menace
Now I will go into a brief review of the new film, so beware that there are a few spoilers ahead. First off, I truly do love J.J. Abrams as a director. He brings great vision into every one of his movies. While many Star Trek fans were mad about Into Darkness, I still enjoyed it quite a bit because I thought it was well made and clever. To me, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was very similar to the last Star Trek film in the sense that it was similar to older Star Wars films, but had a twist that worked well. Overall, the mix of the old cast with a new cast worked perfectly and I cannot wait to see where Abrams is going to go with the franchise from here. Gender reversals, diversity, and other thematic aspects contribute to a respectful revival of the franchise for a modern audience. This is something the prequels could not seem to figure out!
The Bottom Line: This film is an epic revival of a franchise that seemed to be lost in the clutched of George Lucas.
Janis Joplin truly lived a struggled life. Yet, she was somehow able to portray herself as a bubbly and outgoing individual. This film clearly states this by showing her background, but also using footage from concerts and footage of her with friends and bandmates. I loved the way that the film went through her early life, hitting the head of the nail with how she was treated as a girl. It seems as though most famous musicians go through the type of childhood that Joplin went through. The film gives us a superb view of her life in Texas and it teaches everyone in the audience something new. To me, that is the point of a documentary.
The documentary is also quite creative in how it tells the story. The filmmakers combine footage of Joplin with letters she wrote. The footage is well-picked and always relevant to the film's message. Often times concert footage can be overused and used poorly in music documentaries but this one does it right. The concert footage pieces the storyline together and keeps the audience's eyes on the screen. At times there were so many images on the screen that I wished I had a remote to rewind and look at them all. I guess I will just have to re-watch the whole film!
To conclude, I have to talk a bit about the music. I have not listened to much Janis Joplin personally, but I loved the music used in the film. It really made me want to explore her music more with the concert footage and just the relation of her songs to her own life. In fact, I am listening to her music right now as I write this. All of her songs seem so deep and hard-hitting, truly portraying her personality and background.
The Bottom Line: This is a creative and very insightful documentary of a tortured soul.
Hope you guys had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! I finally got around to watching Jurassic World, so that was pretty awesome. I have been quite busy between school, work, my radio show, and trying to keep up with the blog. Unfortunately, this has effected my consistency with the blog but I am hoping to get back to watching more and writing more reviews. Of course with winter break coming up, there should be some more time for me to watch films! I am probably going to see a lot of new films since the Oscar season is upon us. This month's theme is holiday films and there are plenty of those for me to watch. Also, at the end of the month look out for my top ten list for the year. Other than that, happy holidays y'all and keep checking back in for new reviews!
Highest scored movie in November: Skyfall
Lowest scored movie in November: The Night Before
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