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Hara-Kiri (1962)
Wicked, smart and beautiful.
23 September 2017
Kobayashi making a superb Samurai film in the early '60s is like David Vs. Goliath. Kurosawa was on top of his game at this time, and somehow Masaki Kobayashi managed to create a Samurai film on par with the quality of Kurosawa, while staying true to his own style and merit instead of copying what others did before him.

The first thing that struck me was that this film, more than 50 years later, still looks fantastic. Especially the great use of high contrast lighting, something you barely see in Japanese productions, set the tone both visually and thematically. The director of photography uses a lot of symmetric shots which look beautiful but tell a story as well.

For me the highlight of this film was Motome Chijiiwa's seppuku. This scene was shocking, absurd and also very unpredictable. Excellent editing and cinematography created an unforgettable, yet uncomfortable moment.

The turn of events, which slowly unfold as the film progresses is unexpected and will surprise you. But most of all, it will impress you. The director uses some very (without giving too much away) notable techniques to strengthen the effect.

Tatsuya Nakadai, one of the greats in Samurai cinema, has some of the most amazing body language you will ever see in movies! I noticed how much work and detail he put into this character by not focusing on his eyes, but rather on his feet - which show that he really is portraying a Samurai.

My only flaw is that the beginning of the film, the first twenty minutes or so, does not set the tone which I found to be a bit confusing and off putting.

This is one of the greatest films from the golden age of Japanese cinema. It holds up very well and you will walk away very satisfied. If you get the chance, go watch it!
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33 Years Later
11 September 2017
Nowadays, with the world wide web, countless social media and mass advertising how can one not know the name Freddy Krueger? A Nightmare On Elm Street is the most iconic horror film of the '80s and is constantly referenced in pop culture, such as Stranger Things (2016), It (2017) and Rick and Morty (2013).

Such hype and praise really raised my expectations for this film.

Sadly, these 91 minutes of film I got was a rather forgettable experience.

It may have been ahead of it's time, but the uninspiring cast of characters and their progression is very outplayed in the year 2017. A leather jacket wearing jock, the dumb blonde, the not-so-bright boyfriend and the girl who knows what's actually going on. As the mystery becomes clearer, one by one they get killed off by the horror icon.

The thing is, this horror icon I am speaking of is still incredible. Robert Englund and the make up department were mostly responsible for the reason people like this film. No one is going to root for those teenagers, when there's such a great antagonist out there.

This film is about as '80s as it gets. The sounds and opening title indicate this a lot, and that's fine. But I feel like the only reason people like this film so much is because of Freddy (which is a fair argument) and plain nostalgia for the setting.

All in all, not as good as I expected, but I can understand why A Nightmare on Elm Street can be considered a cult classic.
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Twin Peaks (2017)
Lynch' still got it
23 May 2017
I'm a huge fan of the original show. I loved how it was bizarre and scary at times, but it could also be very warmhearted and funny.

I had very high expectations for this sequel, but somehow David Lynch surpassed my expectations.

Not only is this a continuation of the show from 1990, it also feels like a throwback to all his other works. It feels like Inland Empire, Lost Highway and Eraserhead are also part of this show.

The story so far told in these first four episodes is very compelling backed up with some solid direction and acting.

It's great to see some of the old cast back on the screen. Kyle MacLachlan still looks the part, and I am very happy how Lucy and Andy are doing. The new characters seem like very interesting figures, and I can not wait to learn more about them.

The golden age of cinema may be over, but truly we are living in the golden age of television.
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Modern Family: All Things Being Equal (2017)
Season 8, Episode 20
Has some good jokes, but most of it will make you cringe
5 May 2017
I've been following the show for a while now and I'm happy that it still hasn't jumped the shark. The writing has been alright this season, nothing too spectacular, but nothing bad either.

This episode, however, wasn't written as a Modern Family episode for the most part.

The obviousness of pushing a pro-Clinton agenda is painful to see. Even spreading feminist myths, which have been debunked from time to time is something I didn't expect the writers would do. Sadly, they did. Modern Family has been a show with some liberal episodes (which fits in with the Los Angeles setting), but this episode felt like propaganda.

The Jay & Phil storyline in this was good though. It was humorous and very well paced. So I guess the writers did a good job on that.

Overall, not one of the best episodes, but if you like the show a lot you should watch it.
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Logan (2017)
The Best Superhero Movies Aren't About Superheroes
3 March 2017
One could ask himself what Logan is really about. Is it a good vs. evil story? Is it a story about a superhero being overwhelmed by his fears?

To me, Logan is about an aging man who finds a purpose in his empty life. That's right, a man, not a superhero. Logan is humanized in this film, the audience gets to learn about about the human side of James "Logan" Howlett. Without giving too much away, Logan's character grows a lot in this film, and it all feels very natural. So that's where the writers did a great job.

This film is more of a character study, than a comic book film. In a comic book film, there is tons of CGI, a bad guy who wants to destroy the planet and almost succeeds and a two dimensional character who is supposed to be the love interest gets kidnapped or dies. Logan stands out by being a movie which takes place on a smaller scale, so that characters can be developed and that the audience can show empathy when something good or bad happens to these characters.

The story of this film does not feel unique. The escort type of story has been overdone since Children of Men perfected it. I would've loved to see something a bit different, but I can't deny that this type of story has helped Logan grow as a character.

The pacing in this film is so-so. The second act contained a lot of exposition, which ultimately slows down the journey we're on and makes you feel bored.

Since Avengers Age of Ultron I stopped caring about superhero movies. Thinking they're all the same, and the sad truth is, is that they are all very similar. Thanks to the great trailer of Logan, I was interested because it reminded me of The Dark Knight and Captain America., which are movies starring a superhero dealing with humane issues, instead of superhero movies.

I hope other writers take a look at this film and learn from it. The people don't want another CGI-fest, we want movies about actual people who deal with relatable issues featuring some good (practical) action scenes.

It lived up to expectations. 8/10.
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The Player (1992)
It's a movie movie movie
17 February 2017
If you are a film buff, then The Player is one of the films you have to see.

This movie feels fresh, but also feels like a great homage to classic filmmakers which are mentioned throughout. It has Welles' camera movement and look, Hitchcock's suspense and madness and a story which would suit Billy Wilder (and Hitchcock as well).

While watching this film I couldn't help but be impressed by the sheer cleverness of the writing. The movie is referencing, foreshadowing and contradicting itself non stop. Which makes the movie predictable and surprising at the same time. It's like a very subtle fourth wall break which keeps coming back.

Movies about Hollywood are usually satire with a bit of a comedic spin, but this film is very straight forward with it's anti-Hollywood approach. Our lead played by Tim Robbins (who gives a great performance) is not a good man, yet he's very successful backstabbing the people that care about him.

The editing of this movie is good, but the 2nd act needed work. This movie has no right being two hours long and the middle just needed to be sped up a bit, no matter how many great cameos there are.

This is the first time I have watched a movie, about movies about movies.
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The (first) child of Andrei Tarkovsky
22 January 2017
Tarkovsky said that children understood his films better than adults.

After watching Ivan's Childhood, I can agree to some degree with that statement.

Ivan's Childhood is not so much about war, but it's about the troubled mind of a child. Everything we learn about Ivan is unfolded in such a natural, innocent and sometimes harsh way. Many aspects of the behavior of a child is shown in Tarkovsky's first film.

In one scene we see how the angry Ivan is disobedient to adults, in the next scene Ivan with tears in his eyes.

Tarkovsky does a fantastic job portraying dreams (not as good as his later work, but still very immersive). Ivan sees the things that makes him happy in his dreams: his mother, his friends, him playing games, and him doing the unthinkable. While he's awake, he has to suffer. Not physical, but emotional.

The director makes such a great balance between the dreams and the reality Ivan has to face. Nikolay Burlyaev has got to be one of the best child actors I have seen in my life.

Together, these two managed to make a fantastic piece of art.
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A blueprint for the perfect narrative
21 January 2017
Many people always see The Empire Strikes Back as the best movie in the Star Wars saga, but I will always see A New Hope (aka the original Star Wars) as the superior chapter.

This is so functional on every level. Every piece of dialogue has purpose and is at the same time interesting, funny or impressive to say the least.

It's filled with great character arcs, and good symbolism in the costumes of the characters. Han Solo, once a scoundrel non-believer, turns into a faithful man who has seen the power of the force. His black and white costume shows that he is neither a good guy, nor a bad guy. That's why he wears different clothes in the sequel, to show his growth as a person.

I get that some criticism of this film may be that it's too mainstream, and that we've grown tired of the countless tropes this movie has, but I try to look at it with a filmmakers perspective. I see Star Wars as a very original Kurosawa homage: it's got the symbolism, the action and the same type of characters.

Conclusion: This will always be one of my favorites. It's hard to beat a film with structure as good as Star Wars, and that's why I rate this film ten stars.
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Snowden (2016)
The modern battlefield is everywhere
16 November 2016
Snowden provides a solid character study, while it also focuses on very relevant social, economic and political subjects.

Our main character is not portrayed as a good guy, he is a man seeking refuge from the law: just like a criminal would. Him being some sort of an evil man is contradicted by JGL's performance. His character shows both confidence and trust when we get to meet him. Speaking of which, Edward Snowden has a brilliant introduction in this film, the Rubik's cube he is holding is a symbol of his intellect.

The story in this film is not paced very good. The combination between Ed's relationship drama and his job does not always work. While the relationship between the two characters is actually very interesting, it's brought down by constantly switching from drama (the relationship) to suspense (Snowden's job).

Like many other Oliver Stone films, this movie once again gives an interesting commentary on modern day America. Oliver Stone is not afraid to show the actual truth. As you're reading this, you're most likely being watched. That's what this film is trying to tell you. There is no such thing as privacy anymore. Nowadays, the US government can listen to anything you say. They know where you are, they know who you're talking to, and trust me, they know about your fears. You turn on a cell phone or a computer, and you're doomed. This was what Edward Snowden was fighting against, since this was manipulated very heavily by the US government.

As I'm writing this review, on November the 17th, it's been almost ten days since the US presidential elections have ended. Snowden's other political undertones focus on the media. Edward Snowden knows that the mainstream media likes to spread false narratives, he knows that not everything you hear/see on the news is true. This election has proved him right. CNN, MSNBC, ABC News and other networks like that have all been exposed creating false narratives. Even Donald Trump makes a short (off-screen) cameo.

Snowden made me think. There is one philosophical question I got out of this film: Is it rational to break rules to help people? Edward Snowden, mainly seen as a good person is a criminal, which is a fact. But he did break those rules for the greater good.

I walked out of the theaters satisfied once it was finished. I thought the story and structure needed some work, but I am once again very happy to see Oliver Stone's take on American politics and society. Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers a fantastic performance of an American hero, which happens to be a very well written character.

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Hell or High Water (II) (2016)
A landmark in the Neo Western genre
25 October 2016
After a very disappointing summer, I was very happy to see a good film like this in the theaters.

Hell or High Water has all the elements I am looking for in a good film. It's engaging, it has beautiful cinematography, a killer soundtrack, great acting (with great chemistry between the characters), a nice and interesting political message and very good writing.

Chris Pine plays a very three dimensional character and so does Jeff Bridges. Their characters are both morally imperfect, but they are portrayed as the good guys. I think it's interesting to think about who really are the good and bad guys in this film, but one character for sure is evil: the banks

Hell or High Water is not afraid to address a flaw in American society. Banks are ripping us off, who cares if they get robbed? The banks control the human, of course there will be resistance. The banks are the reason our protagonists rob banks after all.

One thing I didn't like about this film is mentioning how native Americans got their land taken, it's sad but true but I didn't think it belonged in this film. Maybe the screenwriters wanted to be a bit politically correct, or the message about natives just didn't get to me, since I'm not American myself.

Apart from it being set in Texas and having lots of wide shots of deserted landscapes, there are some very recognizable tropes from the Western genre. First of all, the white hat obviously resembles the good guys, while the black hates represents the bad guys. But that's why only Jeff Bridges' character can be seen with a white hat in the poster. He's a police officer, he brings criminals to justice. However, beneath this white hat lies a broken man coming to his end. Furthermore, the story of this film felt like a western, two men robbing banks must've been influenced by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Also, we can't forget the accents, that also give this film a western feeling.

I was very happy with this film, it lived up to expectations (this film was on my radar for a while), it's a great addition to the Neo Western genre and it got me excited for David Macenzie's upcoming projects.
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This is a product, not a movie.
23 August 2016
I went to a Sneak Preview where nobody got to hear what movie we were going to watch. I was hoping they put on the new Woody Allen movie or Hell or High Water, which looks very promising. When I saw Jason Statham his name on the screen I realized which movies I was going to watch.

The trailers didn't interest me at all, so I was skeptical prior to watching this flick.

This is one of the most generic films I have seen in a long time. There are many problems and just a few things that are actually "good" about this.

Characters: As many filmmakers know, characters are key for moving the plot. The only person who moves this plot is the antagonist, who's name I have already forgotten. Jason Statham and Jessica Alba are not very good leads in this. They have done some promising things in the past, Statham did great in Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Jessica Alba was pretty good in that time she appeared in The Office and she was promising in Dark Angel, which I gave up on quite quickly. The actors are not the ones to blame though, the writers and the director are. Character development is barely in this movie and none of the characters except for Tommy Lee Jones are interesting or intriguing in any way.

Now I know there are people out there who think characters do not matter in an action flick like this, but I think it does. Go ahead and look up an action scene from a summer movie that you haven't seen yet. Pretty unexciting right? That's because you don't know and don't care about the interaction of the characters in that scene, and that was one of the biggest problems in this entire movie. Everyone is bland and forgettable.

Plot: It's like I was watching Killer Elite, from 2011. The story is exactly the same with the same lead actor: -A hit-man who makes his kills look like accidents stars in both movies -A loved one is captured -The antagonist tells the protagonist to kill three targets and the loved one will live

That's how generic this is: it's been done exactly the same years ago.

Action: Action gets bland and boring quick. It's uncreative and uninspiring, there is nothing original, cool or crazy about it. There is not much to say about it, except that you can find this action in any summer action movie.

Now why did I rate it three stars instead of one? Well, the skyscraper scene was entertaining for a minute and Tommy Lee Jones's character was the best character in this film, every time he was on screen the film felt much better. And that's not because Tommy Lee Jones is a good actor, it's because this character had a personality unlike the rest of the cast.

Don't waste your money as this is another pathetic attempt of Hollywood trying to earn a few more dollars. Go watch Killer Elite if the plot sounds interesting or if you want to go to the cinema go watch something that isn't this. I'll do you a favor.
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29 July 2016
If I had to describe this film in just one word it would be the word struggle. That's what we go through when we go inside Llewyn Davis. The struggle artists have to go through to get out there.

If you're a musician, a filmmaker, a writer, a poet, a painter, an animator or anything else in the creative industry then I highly recommend this film to you, to give you a possible vision of your future. Life is tough, and that's what Llewyn Davis shows us. We go through unfortunate and very relatable events with our protagonist in this story. We all had moments in our life where we screwed up. We all made mistakes and we all have said things we didn't mean to people we love.

Aside from this film being very relatable, it's a really well directed piece of art.

A thing you will notice if you're a fan of the Coen's, like myself is that this film didn't have Roger Deakins as the DP, who at the time probably was working on Prisoners. This time we get Bruno Delbonnel behind the camera's and he does a fantastic job. The lighting is very impressive, especially in the opening scene. The shot-reverse shot can also been seen a lot in this film, which makes it feel very familiar to the Coen's previous works.

The music, acting and overall direction is great. After I watched this, Oscar Isaac instantly became one of my favorite actors working today. John Goodman once again teams up with the Coen's and delivers a solid performance. Other actors and actresses do a good job as well, Carey Mulligan is a great singer and she is a really diverse actress. I hope she appears in more movies from the Coen's.

My only complaint is that the second act in this film had bad pacing. It felt like it didn't fit in with the rest of the film and it didn't do the characters a lot of justice. The third act makes up for it though.

Overall, I feel like this is a very overlooked film with beautiful music, great screenplay and good performances. How this has a 7.4 on IMDb is quite surprising to me, then again I can understand if some people think this movie drags, because there doesn't happen a lot aside from character interactions.
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An interesting take on politicians and their power
1 July 2016
A film like this would be impossible to make in the current year, here's why:

Absolute Power makes a sad but true political statement, a statement about corruption, dishonesty and the dark nature that all people have inside of them.

This is what we see in Absolute Power. The president of the United States of America is portrayed as a corrupt, criminal person. While the thief, who would be seen as the bad guy in reality is actually the good guy. Corruption is our greatest enemy.

This movie couldn't be made today, because nowadays we live in a more sensitive world than we lived in back in 1997 (the year or release). Absolute Power would have no chance of being released due to it's political undertones.

Enough about the politics, let's talk a little bit about the movie.

This film is not a stand out thriller, but it's not a bad one at all. We have a great cast with Clint Eastwood, my personal favorite actor, Gene Hackman and Ed Harris. They're all doing a fine job, but they're all not even close to their best performances.

A thing this movie lacked for me was that big "WOW" moment. There are a few tense scenes scattered across the two hours, but there is no standout moment, action wise or character wise. The only moment that really got me was Luther watching TV at the airport, which was an interesting piece of character development.

Absolute Power is a well written movie though, the plot ties together pretty good and it's not as predictable as most thrillers are.

A fine movie overall, not highly recommended but if you're interested about political statements in film, then this is a good pick for you.
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Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Overlooked Little Gem (no spoilers)
26 March 2016
While I wasn't expecting a lot from a modern horror-western, Bone Tomahawk got me quite by surprise. However, the movie is a mixture of great and not-so-great.

The great thing about this movie is how compelling the story is. There are lots of tense and intriguing scenes that really got my attention and surprised me at times. Another great thing is the setting, it's been long since we've seen a good movie set in this time with a cowboys and Indians plot. No, The Revenant is a great "western", but this is more the type of westerns I'm looking for.

The ensemble cast is good as well. Kurt Russell mainly plays Kurt Russell, he's a lot like his character in The Hateful Eight, nothing too special but very amusing and lots of charisma in his role. Patrick Wilson was a mixture of great and bad, the anger his character showed was very well done, but in a neutral state he just felt bland. The same goes for the rest of the cast: when they have to show emotions they're great, but when they don't they just seem very average. Except for Kurt's character. Speaking of which, the characters are not very memorable or relatable at all, but that's not not what the movie is about. So if you're expecting that, don't watch this. Simple as that.

Now what are some actual flaws? The dialogue felt so unreal and unnatural at times, all characters except from Kurt Russell all have some cringe worthy dialogue or just very bland. Another flaw I have with this movie is the cinematography. For some reason, the cinematographer chose to put the focus on things that weren't the focus at all, such as the scene where Patrick Wilson's character is reading his 'poem'. The cinematography is my biggest complaint.

Anyways, most people will probably overlook those flaws and they didn't bother me THAT much. Bone Tomahawk is a fresh idea converted into a good film. I'm very curious to see what the director will bring out in the next few years.
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