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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Dark Knight Plateaus
The Dark Knight Rises, released on July 20, 2012, is the third and final film of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. With the enormous commercial success and striking critical acclaim of The Dark Knight, expectations for its sequel rose to a level matched by no film this summer season. Overall The Dark Knight Rises has been well received by critics and the general public alike, with some even proclaiming it to be the best of the series. Yet, as it will be pointed out, The Dark Knight Rises is not without its faults.
The story takes place eight years following the death of Harvey Dent, posthumously celebrated as Gotham's white knight hero. Amidst a time of relative peace and unity a new villain takes Gotham by storm: Bane (The name is only fitting as the very definition of it is a person or thing that ruins or spoils). Bane is bent on revolution, or so he insinuates with rhetoric involving mantras of "liberation" and the plight of the people. Without second guessing, the audience knows none of this to be true and that he intends to serve up the nuclear annihilation of Gotham. Except none of these are really his intentions, but those of Miranda Tate (played by Marion Cotillard), a philanthropist who turns out to be Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra's al Ghul (Liam Neeson), the driving evil in Batman Begins.
Then there is the mysterious John Blake, with the name Robin entered into the mix. Joseph Gordon Levitt as Blake had the strongest performance delivering depth were at times there seemed to be none. For example, in an exchange between Blake and Bruce Wayne, Blake reveals his knowing that Wayne is Batman. The reasoning given that Blake could somehow sense Batman within him. The idea is weak, but the exchange on screen did not come across as absurd. Yet, just as Blake in The Dark Knight Rises was disgusted with Commissioner Gordon's manipulation of Harvey Dent's death, thus basing Gotham's peace on a lie, many found the connection between Wayne and Blake (Batman and Robin) to be held up on weak footing.
Casting Tom Hardy as Bane was a great selection. Hardy has depicted pure unrestrained brutality in Bronson and Warrior, a clever sleek touch in Inception, and subtlety in a supporting role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. All of that, and more, could've been illustrated via the character of Bane. Yet, depicting Bane as a mere stooge of Talia reduced the power and intrigue of the role.
Much of the problem lies within the placement of the character of Talia in the final film. Returning to the villainy of the League of Shadows allowed for no growth beyond what was already established in the first two films of the series. Christopher Nolan has gone the route of implicating multiple villains throughout his Batman series. This could've been extended with Catwoman as the duplicitous female character rather than Talia. Talia al Ghul and her connection to Ra's al Ghul bore similarities to the Die Hard series with its own blood-related pair of villains in Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons). Although this provides for instantaneous entertainment, there is nothing beyond that which can be said to lie here. Not adding the character of Talia would've allowed for the rest of the cast to put their talents on a fulfilling display.
Associating Bane with the League of Shadows was not an outright mistake, but inserting the character of Talia came off more as a sly gimmick than any substantive twist. Talia's insertion came at the expense of Bane. Putting more of an emphasis on the revolutionary aspect of Bane's character would've taken the series and the entire film genre to a region not ventured into before. Inevitably though, this would lead to a firm political statement on the part of the Nolan brothers. In light of Christopher Nolan's latest comments on a possible connection between the film and current events, it would seem he'd never consider such a course.
Nevertheless, growth in the character and plot development of Nolan's Batman series would've been seen. Throughout, Nolan looked to be at philosophic crossroads in the direction of the characters and the plot. The eerie connection between Bane and Batman would've carried more weight and make for a battle that would be evermore colossal and simultaneously more profound in the statement that would be made on the part of the film itself and the series as a whole. Story-wise The Dark Knight Rises rounded out the trilogy in admirable shape, but its intellectual intrigue in the series plateaued in its predecessor.
Frigid in Form, Frozen on Film
Fernando Rey states at the conclusion of "Quintet" that "life can only be felt when death is near." It can be said with certainty that this film engenders one to wholly realize the infallibility of this proclamation.
However, the star of Quintet is Paul Newman. He plays a man named Essex living in a post-apocalyptic ice age world. Returning to what is seemingly one of the last areas of abundant concentration of human life, Essex finds mankind singularly concerned with a game; quintet. A game to which the rules are never seriously attempted to be made clear nor one in which it's meaning to the characters could ever be understood. As the game went so did the film.
Vincent Canby may have said it best, "All great directors must be arrogant to the extent that they will follow their dreams through to the bitter, sometimes banal end." When considering Quintet was written, directed and produced by Robert Altman, Canby's statement is undoubtedly assured.
The banality is felt increasingly with every coming scene. It is felt through the frigid performance of Paul Newman, who comes across more as a depressed introverted Han Solo. They're many scenes that only cause utter confusion. In fact, the scenes without dialog are a bit more stimulating than those of interaction. Quintet is not a film for recommended viewing. Yet, if you are unable to resist the aura Newman and Altman, beware of frostbite.
The King's Speech (2010)
Point of Purpose
Colin Firth yelling "I have a voice" elucidates the power of thought, opinion and conviction. It also sums up the courage taken by King George VI to simply conjoined and deliver a message through the art of the spoken word. For Firth's character though, King George VI, such an action cannot be looked at as an art, but as an impediment that can only be accomplished in the most trying and basic of steps.
The King's Speech so smoothly nails down the basics, while incorporating a warm exuding spirit. It includes suiting complimentary performances from Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter as well as a slightly more than cameo role for Guy Pearce. This is the breakout film for director Tom Hooper, who has directed HBO miniseries such as John Adams and Elizabeth I. It is also the most notable screenplay written by David Seidler to date.
Although The King's Speech is not a revolutionary film by any stretch, it is one delivered by way of experience, maturation and a point of purpose.
Green Zone (2010)
Simply Good but Yet Simple...
Over the past six years Paul Greengrass has developed a reputation for seizing the attention of the audience. Visually this was most apparent in The Bourne Ultimatum and emotionally with United 93. Green Zone is a film in which Greengrass attempts to integrate both. The film is centered upon the beginnings of the Second Gulf War and the search for WMDs. Immediately creating a connection with the audience by jumping into an event not too distant in our past, in fact still ongoing.
The main character of the film is a United States army officer whose task is to find the WMDs for a much too anxious public. The officer is played by Matt Damon whose now been a part of three Greengrass films (Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Ultimatum and The Green Zone). Although his performance cannot be quite framed as complete, Damon does a serviceable job in portraying his character's thought process, actions and a need for truth. This applies to the rest of the cast as well; Brendan Gleeson and Greg Kinnear as CIA operatives, Amy Ryan as a journalist and Yigal Naor as an ex-General who was under Saddam Hussein. All characters represented different quantum on the spectrum of United States involvement in Iraq but for the most part were kept in relatively simple form. The lack of complexity in the characters provided for more of the film to be plot driven as well take shape around the pace and action.
The Green Zone is not astonishingly well written nor is it character based. In essence the film is played safe, no risk is taken with no complexity. At certain points the plot can be sketchy because of the lack of character based details but it holds up. Greengrass shows that he knows how to play it safe. His direction delivers a sold film that can make you ponder over the setting of The Green Zone. It is fairly suspenseful and is able to maintain a good level of interest from start to finish. The film though may not be quite memorable, it just does not take enough risks. I cannot say if Greengrass is at fault for this or not but considering the material from what was shown on the screen, it seems it was maximized. The Green Zone showed glimpses of promise, but just did not open up enough to fully fulfill them or present more.
The Hurt Locker (2008)
A Rare Occurrence of Thought Provoking Action
Over the past three years, give or take, there have been an assortment of films that have attempted to articulate and illustrate the many complexities of the Middle East. Paticuluarly in the aspect of Western involvement in this tense region. The Hurt Locker is that: tense and at times nerve racking.
The generation of such sensations and feelings of anxiousness and distress should be much accredited to Kathryn Bigelow, the director. Yet the reason for her success which of course is her direction, is quite unorthodox. The most tense and debilitating moments are done so in slow pacing and seemingly tranquil moments rather then rushing into rapid action and quick camera-shots. The screenwriter of the film, Mark Boal continues to rise with The Hurt Locker as only his second screenplay, the other being In the Valley of Elah. The two combined together create not just greatly done action sequences but ultimately thought provoking ones.
The performances as well were quite convincing from almost seemingly upcoming stars in Jeremy Renner, Brian Geraghty and almost certainly Anthony Mackie considering his powerful résumé. There are also greatly meaningful quintessential cameos from such well accomplished actors such as Guy Pearce, David Morse and Ralph Fiennes.
Films on this subject have tried focusing on very focused and specific aspects of this plight and find themselves wandering off into unnecessary and confusing aspects of the story. Others have attempted to assess the situation broadly but with doing so, most often make the mistake of presenting the different facets in a much too mundane or simplified fashion. With this it is obvious very few films have succeeded in presenting a thorough, accurate and sensible look at this tense region. The Hurt Locker creates a tension that I last felt from Apocalypse Now. I'm certainly not saying the film is of the status of Apocalypse Now but I certainly advise to watch at the least a very good war film.
Mr. Woodcock (2007)
....trailer I have ever seen in my life. Whoever did the advertising for this "film" should get some sort of special achievement academy award because it had me totally fooled. The trailer did many things to fool many people, as in show scenes that weren't even amusing in the film and then edit them together in a way that actually gave you quite a laugh to see in the commercial. I usually do not say this but I regret having watched this. This crap that got thrown on the wall and did less then just not stick, it boomeranged.
For a bit of a stretch you could say I like others admired some of Billy Bob Thornton's work. Mr. Woodcock didn't exactly push me farther then that feeling of admiration. What it did do though is lose interest in any future projects involving him. As for Susan Sarandon her career like other well respected actors and actresses has turned into a bit of an uneventful one, which is just fine but don't perform in garbage like this. What is quite baffling though is that the director of this film, Craig Gillespie, had simultaneously had another release of his own in Lars and the Real Girl which contrasted in so many ways to Mr. Woodcock. For one, it was at the very least above average. Mr. Woodcock was at the very most, a disaster.
Obviously I would not recommend this film. It is not funny and if you are looking for films that contain the same sort of jokes or themes they're plenty of other films Thornton has made before Mr. Woodcock. If you've already seen those then just watch something totally different. It won't make you laugh and it isn't even corny enough to mildly warm your heart. It is a hollow movie that will only make you remember that you at one point watched one the greatest trailers ever.
Far Ahead Of Its Time And May Always Will Be
M is a monumental film and seriously should be watched by all. For a film like this to be made in 1931 is just shocking. Even if the film was released today it would still be nothing like we have seen before. In our modern age of film making there has been a considerable rise in the production of films about serial killers, their complexities and particularly about pathological ones. Yet, M is the first movie that comes to my mind when I think of the themes that have been in Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, Seven and not to mention countless more.
The film is lead by Peter Lorre in a transcending performance who plays the serial killer and rapist in which the film is centered around. In this performance Lorre is successful in something that at the very least is rare to see in any kind of film, compassion for a child killer and rapist. Lorre makes the viewer see, that he is not a criminal by choice but by a sickness of compulsion. Too often then not is our perception of a psychotic killer having that look that puts fear into his or hers victims' eyes. Lorre doesn't do that but rather displays a frightened man, a scared man. One in which his desperation leads to his hazardous behavior. His portrayal of a killer is not of a fearless one but of one consumed by fear. Something that even today we as a people cannot understand, let alone in 1931.
The direction and writing of Fritz Lang is beyond comprehensible as he taps into the mind of a serial killer and his complexities. He does so in such that we get an empathetic and compassionate illustration of all sides of the story. This in which by then end of the film all points of view are more then well delivered to the audience. Fritz Lang here, has simply created here a timeless masterpiece. One that excels in its technical aspects and enlightens the audience on a topic that other films still have not yet to match M in.
I highly recommend this film for many obvious reasons and conclusions. This film was created by one of the all time great directors in Fritz Lang, Lang's command for the screen is mesmerizing and a joy to witness and so on and so forth. Yet much of this is mostly superficial and a waste of time to continuously state. M, as I mentioned before takes a strong and original stance on an issue that we as a society yet have not fully resolved. This film may not give you THE answer on this issue but it may sway that moral compass of yours that lies inside of all of us.
Finding Neverland (2004)
I am not one to warm up to movies centered around themes such as this film. This is not because the idea of adults finding their inner child is ridiculous or immature to me. Its a result of films facing that theme also face a very big challenge on managing to correctly portray a transformation of an adult by children. Also if it actually extremely benefits the adult character in many profound ways. Most of the times films never succeed at this and are done so irresponsibly promoting dangerous styles of living that could be just as hurtful to others around us. Now the major question that is posed then, is why does this film succeed where others do not? What makes this film so precise yet so open?
With Johnny Depp as the lead character, James Matthew Barrie, you know he will be ideal for the role of someone inspired by creativity considering the unique feeling Depp can bring to any film. At the outset of the Finding Neverland, Depp's character is in dire straits to not only find himself as a writer but flat out just find himself. Eventually he does succeed at both through the help of three children he befriends whose mother, played by Kate Winslet, is ill. Depp discovers what he had long been missing, imagination and open mindedness. The children bring him that which is throughout is so wonderfully conveyed. His new lifestyle in no way endangers the people around him rather it enables his decisions to be more enlightened and thought out. Yet it still brings him into question. The cast is filled with talent ranging from of course Depp and Winslet as well to Julie Christie and Dustin Hoffman. What the cast does not just play their characters, their characters are embodied by them all the way down to the performances of the kids.
Marc Foster takes on this challenge of an adult searching for himself with complete success. The writing and dialog is always engaging as well as the music and all the other technical aspects that go into making a movie. Still, remains the question what sets this film apart from others that attempted to be like it? Unlike other films this film is centered around youth equaling imagination and creativity. Not always is it a must to abide by the rules, maybe not the rule of law but the unwritten rules of being an adult, being a writer or any other sort of unwritten or written rule relating to anything. Nonetheless this must be done at a responsible and safe level which this film never fails to display. These rules can limit our creativity which limits the capabilities of our mind and ultimately drastically decreases the chances at happiness on any pure or genuine level.
Too often is youth simply associated with fun, stupidity and meaningless entertainment. It never falls into that trap. What this film shows is that we make meaning of our lives and this should start from our youth but not dissolve as our lives become further complex and self contradictory. Depp shows with his reclaimed youthfulness his life can only go up as does his happiness yet this is unjustifiably rejected by "responsible", "sensible" and "mature" adults. Depp's characters knows they are wrong through his writing and newfound appreciation of life but more importantly the people close to Depp know it and can see it to be true. In this way though, Finding Neverland may give us the key clue on how to find ourself.
Terminator Salvation (2009)
More Baseless Then A Video Game And Less Involving Then One
Terminator Salvation was actually a movie I was looking forward to see. Then I read who the director was, McG and I dropped any idea of this movie being spectacular on any level. Still that left me hope of some mediocrity and a clichéd but yet for the most part fun ride. Well trust me you will get all of that except the fun or even the ride, and that was me in the movie theatres.
The film was hardly ever engaging, yet they were some great elements to the film. Such as the visual and sound effects along with the music, that is probably about it. Then came all the problems, and the most glaring one was Christian Bale. Not only was he a disappointment but he wasn't did not even give the best performance in the film nor even the second best. His performance was incredibly dry in a way that you would have never thought the character he was playing, John Connor, had made his first appearance in a film. Of course this is not true with the first three Terminator films but Bale in no way makes you think the latter instead. With Bale setting the bar so low it was a surprise to actually see Sam Worthington, a virtual unknown to most, have a some what fascinating performance as well as that of Anton Yelchin. Even with these characters do we ever get the feeling of caring about them? That answer is an easy not. There was an opportunity to possibly do so but as the movie winded down, more screen time was given to the "star" in Christian Bale and the film was at the point were wouldn't careless about what really happens to him.
If you have seen any of McG's movies you will know from the opening minutes this film follows along the same sort of line as his past films. During moments of his movies you wonder if you're even watching the same movie you started out with and that is by no means a good thing. Its as if scenes are stolen straight out of other movies that have been successful and rolled together to make a movie that barely surpasses that of cable TV movie that would premiere at 3 am. Even with that his movies usually have some sort of a point, no matter how corny or clichéd the ride was to take us there.
So who is to blame then? That only leaves the screenwriters left who I bare no compassion for, mind you these are the same pair of writers that brought us Catwoman. Michael Ferris and John D. Brancato are their names and considering their extended history of mostly co-screen writing movies this shouldn't come as much as a surprise. If there is anyone looking for salvation, it is not the humans of John Connor's world but the screenwriters of our world that helped create this.
Obviously I would not recommend this debacle of a film. Nevertheless there is still something to take out of this film; before ever watching a film, don't look at the cast, not even the director (which if you remember was the mistake I made), at least not at first. Make sure you take a peak at who the writer is even if it is an action film. This is assuming you are interested in seeing a movie that has something which is at least on the verge of containing a real plot or on the realm being a credible film.
About Schmidt (2002)
Life Is A Joke
Of course we would hope that is not the case but watching a movie like this certainly puts the idea of life into question. This is a funny movie but looking back its probably not quite the kind of jokes you appreciate laughing at.
In the lead role as Warren Schmidt is none other then Jack Nicholson, with an already astute résumé, only further strengthens his long career with his subtle and charming performance. The charm never wears off with the audience as Schmidt's morals and interest for the most part stay in place in his heart and mind. Unfortunately in the tale of Schmidt in the film not only does his charm wear off but he is seen as a liability by those who he thought of as his loved ones. His life takes this crash when he retires from his career and an insurance agent. Soon after he realizes he may have wasted his entire life away. The downward spiral of his life and his sense of purpose hangs on the thread of a boy he has never even met.
As subtle as Nicholson's performance is, so is the writing. It is quietly very witty which almost inconspicuously gives off a whole lot of cynicism. Along with Alexander Payne writing the screenplay he directed the film as well. The movie is certainly not all style and why should it be when that could possibly be the only thing that could really hurt this film. The film is about humanity in a raw and complex way, sometimes the best method of showing this is through simplicity to the point where you are almost certain there is something else that lies behind the curtain of it all.
There is no doubt I would recommend this film but don't expect a pure comedy. Instead try and take a fresh and real look at the entire movie and the events that take place. Depending on who you are, you may find certain points of this movie to be either sorrowful and dejected or slightly uplifting and optimistic. Just don't make a heartless joke of it, because none of us want to think of our life as that; a joke.
Trivializes the Book and Its Purpose
Before watching Charly I had been told to avoid watching this film having just read the book. Of course I didn't do myself justice and decided to watch the film anyway. The film simply rushes through the whole storyline trying to fit too many themes in a minimum amount of opportunities in a mere hour and forty minutes.
As stated before the length of the film was much too short in order to get across the message in an efficient way let alone in a strong manner. This had a large indirect or maybe direct effect on the performance of that of Cliff Robertson who plays Charly. The transformation of his happens at lightning quick speed which undermines the book in not displaying the long and grueling process Charly had to face in which he was constantly being treated like a lab experiment. Also the way he deals with his feeling on loneliness and lack or respect is in no way the same as he did in the book which was much more understandable and seemingly much more realistic in the way Charly would have reacted. Instead in the movie he drives off and becomes wild and crazy without a second thought. A rushed script here leads easily to a rushed movie with glaring problems, even more so then the leading character.
Ralph Nelson, the director of this film, took the wrong approach here trying to have Charly change so drastically at such a fast pace. The transformation in itself is shocking enough. There is no need to further try and make the lead character undergo this rapid change because it takes away from the substance of the film and ultimately the rest of the film with it. The entire film rests on this one leading character and the director certainly displayed that challenge here, unfortunately it was not displayed in the way that it should have been.
I would not recommend this film especially if you read the book because it is filled with just to many contradictions throughout and faces its own themes in a overly simplistic way and method. The film fails miserably in trying to describe such a complex problem effectively and certainly doesn't give any answers in a precise or convincing manner. Sadly this film becomes a parody of itself.
An Unorthodox But Brilliant Biopic
Lenny is the story of the controversial comedian Lenny Bruce whose wild antics and crude humor lead to rise and ultimately his fall. This film though takes the risk of being shaped in a documentary-esquire design. Watching the opening minutes of the film worried me that this film would retreat into itself rather then expand in the so many aspects in which it actually did.
Lenny is portrayed with extraordinary and edgy depth by Dustin Hoffman. For me, this is the film that convinced me that Dustin Hoffman is truly a first rate actor. The range shown here by him from beginning to end is astounding in not his portrayal of the change in his personality, but in the drastic but slow transformation in his mental and psychological state. The range of the cast in general is quite commendable in the break stints in the film in which they are shown to be interviewed individually on the life of Lenny Bruce.
With this unique style of film making, much credit should be given to Bob Fosse who brings an original visual experience. Also the screenplay by Julian Barry is totally engaging. In my opinion this movie is indicative of the revolutionary style brought to movies during the 1970s. Lenny might be one of the most courageous movies ever made and it reaches its full potential.
The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
You Can't Ask For Everything.......Especially With Joel Schumacher
The Phantom of the Opera is of course a very well known story and has been adapted so many times that you would probably lose count if you tried. This of course is the musical adaptation if you may have not realized by now. Now if any part of your criticism of this film has to do with it being a musical then you probably didn't enjoy viewing it. I, myself are in no way a fan of musicals but in this case I found the experience of watching this film to be extremely gratifying.
For once I did not find myself feeling disgusted at the direction of Joel Schumacher. Joel Schumacher definitely handled this storyline with much more care then he has with other films throughout his career. Right from the opening minutes the film became extremely engaging and really never slows down. One thing for sure, and most people would agree, is that the set design and visual glamour of the film is astounding.
Yet one aspect of the film that certainly has not caught on with everyone is the acting of Gerard Butler who plays the Phantom. Such criticisms as he is not scary at all or he is lacking in the area of singing. For me his singing did not bother me one bit and the fact of him not being scary enough is just ridiculous to fault him for that. This film is a musical, not a horror movie. You simply can't expect a singing murderer to ever really be scary. If there is anyone to pick at for falling short it is Patrick Wilson. In my view he never presents anything unique or appealing in his performance. He, in a way, just seems to be just there. Emmy Rossum though certainly asserted her presence in the film. Her feelings as well as the Phantom's are always felt not despite the singing or music but rather with the help of it.
Personally this is my favorite musical and I definitely recommend it even if you're not a fan of musicals. Keep in mind as I stated before there won't be much of a horror factor but that is not really the point. This is by all means a romance and tackles the theme of loneliness in a very touching, poignant and compassionate way. The Phantom of the Opera is certainly gruesome but instead poetic.
A Small Movie That May Make Big Things Happen For the People Involved
RocknRolla seems to be the beginning of the resurrection of Guy Ritchie's career. Not to anyone's surprise he does this with what he has been so potent with throughout his career; a British gangster film. If you've had any experience with Ritchie movies you know exactly what you're getting into here, a comedic thriller. This of course may seem problematic, in Ritchie's case it is not.
The writing and dialog is fast paced and quite witty and entertaining to watch. The movie as a whole maybe be a bit of a head scratcher here and there but the pay off is good and the idea is a bit of a parody of itself which is what makes this film so fun.
What Ritchie accomplishes though, in the same way he has with his past successful productions is putting together an extremely diverse and yet correlating cast. This starts with the lead man in Gerard Butler whose notoriety has steadily risen largely through his performances of comical caricatures (not an insult). With RocknRolla Butler seems to have found a role perfect for his appeal and charm he brings to the screen. This is largely because of a witty script and great, fun performances all around.
Then of course there is Mark Strong who until this year was largely a total unknown, at least in the American mainstream. While Gerard Butler may have found a genre he is most strongly suited for, Mark Strong could certainly use this along with Body of Lies to launch to the very least a respectable acting career. His posture, range and ability to change tone and style subtly not only between films but within them is something that should be and surely will be recognized.
The Proposal (2009)
Is There Really Anyother Way To Criticize Movies Like This
Was this supposed to be a great movie? Of course not, but was it supposed to be funny and sweet? Well, I think anyone can answer that. Just in case you have not seen the advertisements, The Proposal is about an executive, played by Sandra Bullock, for a publishing company who is startled when she finds out she will be deported from the US due to a technicality. Quickly she finds a solution, that solution is her secretary, played by Ryan Reynolds, his next job will be to marry the woman he is working for. This beginning sets us up for yet another bland and predictable "romantic comedy" to come out in recent years.
The acting in this film was about as good as it could get in a romantic comedy. Reynolds was actually quite likable as he seems to bring a nice and appealing charm to the screen. Bullock played her character to same type of tune she has done over the past decade or so, an uptight and ill tempered woman hiding her true feelings of loneliness and insecurities.
The writing which is just essential to a comedy as the performance of its characters just didn't work. Jokes that have rehashed and overused were applied in this movie just as well. Was this surprising? No, it was not but could it have been better applied? Yes, there was a lot of room for improvement here. Its not necessarily a bad thing for a movie to be predictable but it is a bad thing when the execution of the story falls apart within itself. The film is just to implausible and is sloppy in the way it is put together. This is a poorly handled script that is choppy and just can't sustain itself after the first five minutes.
Would I recommend this movie? It seems like a no but if you enjoy movies like this there is no reason why you should miss this film, especially based off my critique or others like mine. If your looking for an escape go watch this movie, but other then that I don't see a good reason to spend $11.50 to watch this.
Ocean's Thirteen (2007)
A Good Movie To Watch And Multi-Task With
Have you ever watched a film while multi-tasking? Well if you have, you should do it again but this time put on Ocean's Thirteen. I would not describe myself as a fan of the Oceans' movies but I have pretty much enjoyed all of them. In light of that though this is the worst one of the series.
The movie is very well acted in that it appears the whole cast has fun with the material from top to bottom. That does not make it a good film though it just makes it a nice to get together. One thing I could say though was this time around I actually noticed Casey Affleck because of his recent breakout performances in other films. So with that, he and Al Pacino just adds to the fun of watching all the great actors and stars in the film. The script is very witty at times and did have me chuckle more often then not. What was missing though were the star actresses. Tangle in all the fun of a crazy scheme to rob a casino, gambling and just Las Vegas is the women. It would have been great to see Julia Roberts or Catherina Zeta Jones or even both back for the film. Instead we had to settle with Ellen Barkin who has not nearly as an impressive career or persona as her counterparts.
As the rest of the series this film really is not too thought provoking or deep. It won't inspire you to do something so honestly it won't be too necessary to focus all your thoughts on this film. This is an entertaining film considering George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac and Casey Affleck are in it but yet it isn't as well made or enjoyable as its predecessors.
I Almost Died Of Laughter
This of course is not a great movie but I just have to give it a 10/10. I have never laughed more in my life. Even the jokes that aren't funny are funny. This film's comedic build up is about the best you will ever see. It doesn't even matter what the punch line is, its how they get to it thats hilarious.
Now this cast was perfect. Anytime you have Randy Quaid in a film you just know the film is going to make you life just by looking at him. Kingpin couldn't have shown this any better as he plays an Amish man who just happens to be amazingly talented at bowling. Woody Harrelson plays a has-been ex-professional bowler who makes a comeback with managing through Randy Quaid. Together they go on a ride across the country making money left and right. Along the journey they are great supporting comedic performances given by Bill Murray and Vanessa Angel who certainly makes the look of the film more appealing.
The Farrelly brothers in my opinion give their best direction they've yet to have. Yet it is the writers who so perfectly set up one joke after another. It seems as if the script is so sharp that their are jokes within jokes. The Farrelly brother handle this material so well by virtual unknowns.
As I have said before this is not a great film but I would highly recommend this if your in the mood of watching something spontaneous. It may not be the most technically sound movie ever made or the deepest but I have never laughed so much in life and that in it self is what comedies are about.
Toy Story (1995)
Every Kid's Fantasy
Toy Story is the film that started Pixar Animated Studios into its long string of never ending success. What Pixar does is not just absorb the younger demographic and keep the older ones mildly entertained. It completely absorbs everyone watching no matter the age or the level of maturity, films of Pixar, starting from Toy Story, have kept a certain magical touch around it with an unexpected amount of depth. Everyone as a child imagines their toys will come alive and go on their own adventures. One of the great things Pixar does is that it does not attract audiences with its overloaded superstar casts but rather with its material. The only superstar here is Tom Hanks and Tim Allen is the next most aforementioned voice over. Unlike what most people think their is an actually a method to casting for animated films as there is to a live-action one. As a result of this Pixar stays faithful to its material and creates a great genuine and warm feeling around the film and its characters.
The Departed (2006)
A Perfect Blend Of Vintage and Contemporary Scorsese
The Departed is a great film to say the least. The film centers around an entire police department's chase of a top boss in Boston. The plot may not seem original but the film gives you a feeling of something new with the intensity of that of a drama and the awe of an action flick.
The acting of the cast all around is great with the likes of actors such as Leonardo Dicaprio playing a rookie cop getting his first assignment. As a result of his family's history of criminal activity his first job is to be working undercover gathering intelligence in the dealings of a mob boss played different yet brilliantly by Jack Nicholson. This goes without notice as Nicholson has his man on the inside as well. On the opposite side of the spectrum Matt Damon also plays a rookie cop starting out of the box with a good job though as a result of his honorable family history. There also plenty of great supporting performances by Martin Sheen and Ray Winestone as well as a breakout performance given by Mark Wahlberg.
Despite so many explosive performances this film is driven by its story so perfectly directed by Martin Scorsese. With this film Scorsese uses his skill to show the hard and gritty tough life on the streets as he once did so often as well as his fine attention to detail with amazing plot dynamics. What both of these things culminate into is a well rounded and balanced film with an unlimited scope of cops and gangsters. The depth of the film is limitless as it is so well layered. Scorsese here makes the film of his life here throwing out everything he has. Scorsese and William Monahan, who so adapts this film so vividly, combine for one of the most thrilling and psychologically explosive movies in ages as the film so perfectly illustrates nothing is as it seems as well as a chain is only as strong as strong as its weakest link. We may think we know it all from profile and background checks but as long as we don't know whats going on inside a person's mind we won't ever know what the person is truly about.
Not Something To Really Laugh At
Juno was a good movie at the most but certainly not anything close to a great movie. This movie tries too hard to be witty and cute when in reality it comes off as annoying and unrealistic. For example: If your teenage daughter gets pregnant I doubt you will start cracking jokes about it especially 2 minutes after you hear it. There were a few nice aspects of the film.
The acting of Ellen Page was pretty good and a had a nice warm feeling surrounding her. There was also Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner who came off as the only realistic characters in the film as a married couple about to adopt Juno's soon to be born baby. The rest of the characters (partly because of the writing and acting) in the film who were supposed to be quirky and unusual were just too laid back at the situation at hand. This movie plays itself off a realistic to a tone of that of Little Miss Sunshine yet the characters come off as corny and unaware of the delicate situation that is the central theme of this film.
Despite many of these flaws I do not think there was much of an area the film could have been improved upon. The film's idea was a bit too ambitious in trying to make a comedy out of a teen pregnancy in the way it was. This film has been often compared to Little Miss Sunshine yet there is a reason for why that movie is considered original. Of course it is because of the balance it was able to create between comedy and a realistic drama. Juno tried to do this as well but failed to accomplish simply because the idea of the film simply isn't that funny, at least not in the way this film presented it.
American History X (1998)
The Most Dangerous Person To Us Is Ourselves
American History X is a movie of its own. It has a little bit of everything in the way it touches you. This of course making it a very though provoking film. There isn't a genre you can place this film in because it is a not a crime story, action or even a simple drama instead it is a humanistic thriller. What it is about, is the battle over ourselves.
Who better than to display these wild but common complexities within people than Edward Norton. The range he shows here is astounding in only his fifth movie. Norton plays Derek Vinyard, a skin head that realizes through cruel yet necessary events in his life that he has gone down the wrong path. When he comes out of jail he attempts to stop his brother played Edward Furlong from going down the same road he had done. Through all his efforts though some things just prove to be inevitable. Avery Brooks also gives a great performance as Derek Vinyard's former teacher and now principal of his former school. His words may not be of the most inspiring but his actions and messages sent across are subtle yet strong and to the point.
Norton's performance though wasn't just about range but exploring different dimensions of life. Whether it proved to be psychological, social or even political on a certain level. It is a transforming performance revealing something mind blowing and eye opening. That we, and this includes anyone, can take a devastating turn in life no matter how intelligent we are or thoughtful. That the person that determines the outcome of your life is yourself whether it is good or bad. Norton's realizations aren't through teachings such as the ones that got him in jail but they are through the events in the time he spent in jail. He saw the truth for himself realizing then what is false and what is real.
The screenplay written by David McKenna is about as versatile as the performance Norton gives. Not only because of the Derek Vinyard character but because of the characters involved in his life. For example the root of his evil did not come from the murder of his father but rather his father himself. Through just a conversation at breakfast did his negative thoughts get really embedded eventually then leading to them dramatically taking over his mind and way of life. Only when his father got killed did these negative thoughts seem justified. The way this screenplay and direction was able to display this message in just a plethora of other underlying tones was spectacular.
What makes this movie great though is that you can truly find yourself in the messages delivered. As much as the main character might not seem relevant or connected to many people it his emotions and functioning of his mind that all of us are able to connect with. Yet what makes a movie great is not simply the message or messages sent across but how powerfully they are delivered. American History X delivers its multiple and intertwining messages about as powerfully as I've seen from a film.
Iris seemed to have all the makings of a great film at the outlook. It is supposed to be of an interesting person and who many consider a genius. The cast seems to amazingly put together and the film is made of a notable director. Yet this film is lacking a lot in many aspects.
Now the acting is the one thing that was not lacking, especially considering the way the rest of the movie went. The performances were the only thing that gave me hope for a fulfilling movie. Especially when it came to that of a prominent couple and a famous well rounded woman. That woman is played by two of the finest actresses; Kate Winslet and Judi Dench play Iris Murdoch at the opposite ends of her life. These casting choices were perfect as well as the choice of Jim Broadbent who plays the role of the older Jim Bayley. These choices are ideal and the film is came some what alive only because of them. They gave depth to their roles were not too much was given and made us feel emotions for characters that didn't come off as too interesting in the film.
Where this film does very much fail is the directing and writing by Ricard Eyre. The pacing of the film is horrible and our view of Iris Murdoch and Jim Bayley is extremely limited. Rather than them coming across as intellectuals, we are simply just told they are that. The story basically surrounds that of Iris Murdoch's battle with Alzheimer's disease and for not really any logical reason the telling of her early life is wasted. If you take Murdoch and Bayley for what they are in the film they come off as desperate and pathetic. Also in the movie their is not enough of a build up towards the end to make us feel anything emotional towards the characters. The film drags on with no climax at all and this movie is only about 90 minutes. This movie was supposed to be a short romance instead of a biopic and that proved to be very costly in a very boring and seemingly pointless film.
Six Feet Under (2001)
This Show Does The Impossible
When using superlatives with this show it is totally fair. This show does something all other movies, shows, etc cannot do: it can safely apply any genre and still function as a deep and very entertaining show. As everybody episode goes by the show only becomes more addictive. It taps into almost every aspect of life. Every emotion is shown; love, hate, forgiveness, triumph and the list goes on and on. In fact this show depicts life the most realistically. The strangeness and peculiarity of the many themes perfectly displays the confusion in life and how it affects us. The show displays confusion in the clearest way making it almost impossible not to some how relate to the characters in the show. Not to mention also the series ends on one finest note you will ever see not just satisfying the viewer but taking the show to a level far and above anything else I have ever seen before. This show does the impossible twice over.
The Bounty (1984)
The Film Succeeds In One Way The Past Bounty Films Do Not
The Bounty in all rights may not be a great movie. From time to time it drags on but what sets it apart from its predecessors is that its portrayal of Bligh has much more depth. The Bounty does not simply show men as good and evil but as more complex figures.
Bligh is played here by Anthony Hopkins and is done so wonderfully. In the movie he is being court-marshaled for the events that took place aboard ship. Unlike the past films here his actions seem to have more logical motivations rather than him being Captain Hitler. Yet for all the depth Hopkins puts in his performance Mel Gibson comes up short in that he is just there. He is supposed to take on the role of a leader but instead fades into the background time after time.
I like the way the movie was directed taking the flashback approach from the view of Hopkins. It gave the movie some sort of originality which is very hard to do with remakes. This film though was strictly carried by the performance of Anthony Hopkins and his complex portrayal of Captain Bligh.
In Life All You Need Is A Quill And A Paper
Quills is a movie about the man The Marquis De Sade. If you are not familiar with him watching the movie would be advisable even though your own research might be better. The film follows him played amazingly by Geoffrey Rush in a insane asylum. Michael Caine who is an expert at "curing" people of their madness wishes to take a new approach at solving the mental in-capacities of the inmates of the Charenton. This of course it that of more brutal methods than that of the Abbe played by Joaquin Phoenix. What does seem of the least cruel of the punishments in this movie turns out to be the most costly, Sade is no longer allowed to write. This had dramatic affects on him and his state of mind.
In the movie Geoffrey Rush simply shines. Here he proves once again how he has undoubtedly one of the most under appreciated actors around today. His performance is unique in that he plays a man considered perverse yet brilliant, a man of many self contradictions. As the film wears on Geoffrey Rush does not take the easy way out in making his performance extraordinary flashy, in fact it remains quite subtle. His subtly is what truly makes his performance great with the many underlying tones he carries. Michael Caine whenever in a film carries this great presence with him and continues to do so here. He is obviously a man of many secrets and I had wished he was given more screen time to study his more of his character motivations and actions. Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix play well in this movie but have had better performances which is a true testament to their abilities.
The writing of the movie is very good in that the movie remains interesting throughout. What fails though is the directing. It was solid but refused took unnecessary turns in the film. The romantic tension between Winslet and Phoenix was pushed upon the story a bit too hard and at times dragged away from what was a compelling enough of a theme: freedom of expression.
Freedom of expression is something that we all have to have in our lives. If we do not have it we will go crazy like many of the inmates of the Charenton. Our ideas is what keeps us going and when that right is taken away from us our problem do not disappear they erupt. For example some people express their ideas through writing such as the Sade in this film. If that is taken away not only do we lose our sanity but along with it our very humanity. We can no longer differentiate between fantasy and reality as Geoffrey Rush so perfectly illustrates. That is what this film showed but unfortunately did not show enough of. If it had stayed more consistent with this theme and picked it apart in other aspects it would have reached at the height of greatness. Yet it did not and is very good recommendable film but not what it could have been.