Monday, December 26, 2011

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Written by Steven Zaillian (screenplay) Stieg Larsson (novel)
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Christopher Plummer

Daniel Craig is fantastic in this one. I’m not a huge fan of James Bond remakes and so I’m not about to become a Daniel Craig enthusiast but he does a good job in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ with his GQ outfit and quiet stare.

The film explores two plots that end up connecting halfway through. Roony Mara plays a young woman being exploited by her employer (financially) and Probation Officer (Sexually) and still seems to excel at her work, private investigation and surveillance. Craig finds out she has done investigative work on him and so he decides to bring her on as his assistant. They become love interests but there is not much chemistry between them.

David Fincher directed this film and his style is distinctly recognizable. I’m a proponent and an enthusiast of his over focused and highly dramatic focal work. If you have seen Fight Club, Seven, The social Network, or Benjamin Button you know what I’m talking about. His colors and perfect, his sets are clean, his concentration is clear every time. He makes it look good without being obvious.

This movie keeps you following the plot and tries to get exciting. The excitement gets misplaced along the way because the plot has very little suspense built in. As the audience you will go through two different emotions as you watch, at first you will be uncomfortable with the exploitation of Mara’s Character, then interested in solving the mystery of the killer.

Unfortunately there is still more to the story that seems like it could have been an entirely new film about a heist of some rich tycoons money.

Top 5. I enjoyed it. It was fun to watch. And I’ll definitely read the book now that I know what I’m getting into. As far as I could tell it was a good Tent Pole Project.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Top 5 Movies of 2011!

  1. Limitless
  2. Super 8
  3. Crazy Stupid Love
  4. Drive
  5. The Artist

Limitless is the best film of this year. My reason being is that the message you are left with at the end of this great film is a desire strengthen your brain chemistry and brain function.

Super 8 is one of the best thrillers / Sci-Fi films of this year. It has love, it has zombies, It has aliens. 

Crazy Stupid Love is a great movie about the trials of love and the difficulty of maintaining healthy relationships. There’s also some comedy in there too.

Drive is a strong film of this past year. Was an experience that is worth at least one viewing. 

The Artist. I haven’t seen it yet… but I’m sure this on will wow anyone who goes to see it. The fact it’s a silent film makes me interested.

Full Review… (coming soon)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Melancholia (2011)

Written by Lars von Trier

Directed by Lars von Trier

Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg

The film Melancholia is an exploration of the human condition regarding death. There are three characters in this film, a married rich couple (Gainbourg & Sutherland) and a single woman (Dunst) that all interact in very interesting ways.

The film is broke up into 3 parts. The first 10 minutes of the film is a slow motion montage of highly graphic images depicting elements of nature acting in unusual ways with each character of the film. The soundtrack to this and most of the film is from Richard Wagner’s Prelude to his opera Tristn und Isolde.

Part 2 is a wedding reception where Dunst is feeling like she can’t go on with the charade of her marriage.

Part 3 is the main act of the film that is devoted to a planet called ‘Melancholia’ that has been hiding behind the sun and is now immerging and going to pass by earth. Although Dunst’s character believes melancholia is on a collision course with earth.

Through out this film the theme of despair and hopelessness in incredibly apparent and is the main conflict with each character. Sutherland represent the blind optimist, Dunst the depressed pessimist, and Gainsbourg the realist who has healthy doubts and fears.

This film has poetic undertones and fantastic images of elegance and beauty but is then mirrored with dark undertones of misery and desperate isolation.

Bottom 5 rating. This film is well done and speaks to me on a basic human level, which makes me want to recommend it as a great film…

BUT I’m afraid Lars von Trier, as a person, has destroyed this film for me. I don’t know much about him or his body of work but the little I do know I don’t like and I don’t want to look much deeper then that. He may have started out with good intentions but somewhere along the way he went terribly wrong. He seems like a skilled filmmaker but I’m assuming he suffers from personal issues like depression. 

*Disclaimer: Everything about this review is my personal opinion and should not be taken as fact.

**Disclaimer: Lars Von Trier’s comments at the Cannes Film Festival were "unacceptable, intolerable and contrary to the ideals of humanity…”(1) and Triers was declared persona non grata which means he was unwelcome at the festival.

(1) Hoyle, Ben (May 20, 2011). "Von Trier gets kicked out of Cannes after his 'I am a Nazi' joke fails to raise a laugh". The Times (London): p. 9.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Limitless (2011)

Written By Leslie Dixon (screenplay) Alen Glynn (novel)

Directed By Neil Burger

Starring Bradley Cooper, Anna Friel & Abbie Cornish

Bradley Cooper shines in this psychological thriller about brain function and drug use. He meets an old friend who gives him an experimental drug that helps him use 100 percent of his brain. This drug helps him turn his life around and become much more confident and successful.

This film is full of one great montage after another, plus the jump cuts get your mind racing to keep up. The interesting thing is that’s how the main character feels in the fillm as well. Its almost as if your being put into the main characters head as you watch. The scenes are crisp and the cinematography is clean. It’s a great movie to watch because of the experience it provides.

I’ve been a fan of Cooper since Alias and he always seemed to get small parts in big movies. For example, he plays the douche bag boyfriend of the main love interest in wedding crashers,

 or in Failure to Launch and Yes Man in which he plays the main character’s good friends.

Unfortunately his most memorable roll was in the hangover were he played the good-looking guy who progresses the story forward as the team of goofballs look for their missing friend.

But all that’s behind him now.

‘Limitless’ is a fantastic movie for Cooper because it shows him as a leading man. The film shows how much potential the human mind has to offer. The movie doesn’t glorify drug use, which is easy to do, instead it shows the harm and dangers of drugs. It’s a movie about brain function and what’s possible with concentration. A message I very much enjoy

Top 5 rating. This film is an exciting story that has lots of turns and surprises. The film leaves you with the idea that you can change your brain chemistry and brain synapses (connections) so that you don’t need drugs to help you focus. Definitely check this one out!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Super 8 (2011)

Written by J.J. Abrams

Directed by J. J. Abrams

Starring Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka, & Kyle Chandler


This is an adorable film about indie school kid filmmakers. The plot takes a turn when these 12-14 year old kids end up filming a horrific accident that has unexpected consequences within the town they live in. Interestingly enough the entire plot is almost unknown to the audience until the third act of the film.

None of the actors are well known except for Kyle Chandler who does a fantastic job playing the upstanding father and policeman. He is a good role model for the audience and gives the movie an authenticity that is welcomed in this coming of age story.

Usually a mirrored plot of a filmmaker as the subject of a film or struggling author as the subject for a novel makes me roll my eyes in disappointment from unoriginality… but this film seems to pull it off nicely just as Hemmingway did in ‘A movable Feast’

J.J. Abrams is one of my favorite directors at the moment. His ability to make hit after hit and bring content and value to each project deserves our attention and respect. I can’t help but sit back and marvel at his talents. I’m stunned at every new turn in his career.  

Top 5 rating. This film has the power to make you want to be a filmmaker and find yourself getting in over your head in some mystery, sci-fi, fiasco. Great film!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hugo (2011)

Written By John Logan, Brian Selznick (book)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Asa Buterfield, Ben Kingsley & Chloe Grace Moretz
This was a good movie about a boy in search of his place in the world. Also it was a story about a filmmakers love for movies and his shame of failure. It has a lot of elements and amazing cinematography. The visuals are stunning. The intricacies of the clocks, trains, and devices are clever and complex. It’s a wonderful film for the whole family.
The film has almost no attributes of a Martin Scorsese film and that's not a bad thing. It’s a children’s coming of age story that has little direction or conclusion. The story revolves around an old filmmakers (Ben Kingsley) past. What’s strange is the story of the boy takes a back seat to Kingsley’s character and we learn and feel for Kingsley’s character more then for Hugo (Butterfield's character) ...and this becomes confusing.
Interestingly, the character that steals the show is the train station inspector played by Sacha Baron Cohen. He struggles with his feelings for the girl selling flowers and his strict polices on orphans and thieves when he was an orphan himself. Cohen is a fantastic character actor with and mix of subtlety and slapstick humor that blossoms here. He really shines as a wholesome character in this family film. I personally would like to seem him in more of these kinds of roles.
This film gets mentioned but no rating because it was a good movie to watch. The movie expresses lots of love for the history of film (as I do) and so it has lots of fun and interesting moments that are well done. The film falls short with the main characters’ struggle at over coming obstacles. There's no real thesis or conclusion to this film, it's just kinda good.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Midnight In Paris (2011)

Written by Woody Allen

Directd by Woody Allen
Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, & Kathy Bates

This movie is kind of a Woody Allen Film!

It’s set in modern day Paris with Owen Wilson as a Hollywood screen writer who wants to retreat to Paris and finish his novel. His fiancĂ© is played by … and she is hoping to have a romantic vacation. The couple don’t share much chemistry and its not a surprise because they are not supposed to be the couple that end up together.

Owen Wilson goes walking late after a few drinks at a bar and gets picked up by a cab full of drunk twenties looking men and women. As the clock strikes midnight they drive off into the city streets that have been transformed into wonderful imagery of Paris that were romanticized in the twenties as if he has traveled back in time.

I like the actor Owen Wilson from the films, The Royal Tenenbaums, Bottle Rocket, & Wedding Crashers, but in this he seems a little down played. His jokes are much more Woody Allen style and I find it to be misplaced.

I’m a long time fan of Woody Allen’s films. To name a few of my favorites, Manhattan, Annie Hall, Sweet and Lowdown, to name a few but this film seems to be a little trite. Woody Allen and Owen Wilson can do much better and this is just a movie that misses the mark for me.

Bottom 5. Not my favorite. Something about this feels old. I’m not sure if it’s the mind set or the values but all in all its for people who remember Woody Allen’s movies that will like this film. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thor (2011)

Written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zach Stentz, & Don Payne
Directed By Kenneth Branagh
Starring Chris Hemsworth & Natalie Portman

This movie was Fun to watch.

The graphics and visuals of this movie are almost unbeatable. I would say better then lord of the rings in terms of stunning imagery. The story does lend itself to this kind of grandiose creativity but for the most part I’m quite impressed.

I did like mythology elements although that should be directly attributed to the comics.

Ultimately this movie falls short in my eyes. The story have little to no motive, the characters have no connection, and I found myself not interested in finding out how this mess resolves. I liked almost everything about this movie but for some reason it just fell flat.

I must say, I was a big fan of the first 'Iron Man' movie and have lost my taste for it since the sequel came out, so my mind maybe hijacked for this review on grounds that I have already started to hate the ‘Avengers’ movie scheduled for summer 2012.

Bottom 5 rating. Not the best movie for a true fan of the comics or an avid moviegoer.  Maybe the 'Avengers' movie will change my tune on this one…

*** This rating system is the expressed opinion of this blogger alone. Please reference the first blog post for more details.
Good movie = Top 5 Rating
Bad movie = Bottom 5 Rating
Middle of the road movie = No Rating

Friday, December 9, 2011

Crazy Stupid Love! (2011)

Writen By Dan Fogelman

Directed by Glenn Ficarra, John Regua
Starring  Steve Carell, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, & Julianne Moore

This movie rocks!

At first we see Steve Carell, go through an emotionally traumatizing experience when his wife tells him she had an affair and asks for a divorce, and then we see him jump out of a moving car. This says everything you need to know about this movie. It’s tragic humor is dark and bitter but ultimately has depth and fills out the story and characters.

My favorite scene is when Gosling reaches out to Carell for some style and wardrobe mentoring to help him find his inner playboy. It’s Carell’s square’ness that makes this scene pop with humor but also Gosling's swagger that brings this point home. What’s interesting about this dynamic is that later we learn Gosling’s Character is terribly empty and miserable, which ironically is how Carell’s Character feels as well.

I laughed through the movie even though every scene has frustrating relationship dynamics between various characters, Carell and his ex wife, Julianne Moore , Carell and Gosling and Gosling and Emma Stone. But if you take it at face value and enjoy the struggle, this movie will warm your heart in the end. All in all, the film has lots of tenderness and value. 

Top 5 rating. I’m surprised when I ask people “what did you think about crazy stupid love?” because often I get a response like “eeehh” or “it was ok!”  Not everyone finds these characters deep and powerful and the comedy enjoyably gloomy... but I do.

*** This rating system is the expressed opinion of this blogger alone. Please reference the first blog post for more details.
Good movie = Top 5 Rating
Bad movie = Bottom 5 Rating
Middle of the road movie = No Rating