Monday, December 10, 2012

Flight (2012)

Written by John Gatins
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Starring Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez, Don Cheadle & John Goodman aka the banana man

Robert Zemeckis isn’t a well known director despite being the director of a list of great films such as, Forrest Gump, What Lies Beneath, Death Becomes Her, & Back to the Future. Zemeckis doesn’t disappoint with Flight either.

Flight is a wonderful film that starts with an amazing plain crash and follows the story of a pilot, Washington, who deals with the ramifications. Each step of the movie reveals another lurking truth about Washingtons character that would have been better off hidden.

The film revolves around three separate but intertwined subjects: The first is Alcoholism & addiction, Washingtons character, Whip, wakes up in a hotel room and snorts a line of cocaine before running off to fly a passenger jet airliner.  The second is religion, after surviving a horrific plane crash, new meanings in Whip’s life start to highlight the existence of the divine. The third subject is the ramifications and politics of a plane crash or any act of God where someone has to be blamed. Often it becomes obvious that Whip doesn't deserve the scrutiny he is under because of the accident. 

The film actually does an amazing job of intertwining these subjects and themes into an incredible film about deliverance and judgment. The movie doesn’t feel good all of the time but the movie play as an honest representation of life and the human experience. Nothing about this movie is flawed.

No rating. I really enjoyed this film but it doesn’t hold much relevance to my life. Addiction is an important message to get to those dealing with such a problem but for others it has little relevance at all. Everyone should see this movie but not everyone will find it meaningful.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Killing Them Softly (2012)

Written By Andrew Dominik
Directed by Andrew Dominik, George V. Higgins
Starring Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Scoot McNairy and Richard Jenkins

This is an amazing feature film about politics and gangsters. The subject of the film is a robbery of a card game. Simply put a bunch of gangster types love to play high stakes card in back rooms and small houses and they get robbed every so often. No one gets hurt but all the money gets stolen and the mobsters want revenge. Generally somebody has to die. Interestingly enough the film deals with this situation of revenge while paralleling the 2008 presidential election of Barrack Obama. It's more then confusing and at times insulting. 

The theme of the movie is hard to understand and quite jarring in the beginning of the film. The story opens on McNairy’s character walking out of a tunnel while splicing in fragments of a crowed cheering while Obama speaks in fragmented edits. The opening makes the audience uneasy and not sure about what statement is being made. Racism, sexism, and general hatred are all present in this film along side cold calculating procedure of criminals and mobster politics.

The cinematography is outstanding in its clean natural angles and stylistic action sequences. Brad Pitt plays a hitman who claims he doesn’t like kill people who know him because it gets messy. There are “too many feelings” Pitt’s character complains “I like to kill them softly from a distance”

The film wraps up well after a long struggle to figure out what’s going on and finally the story resolves. Interestingly at the very end of the film, Pitt’s character makes an incredibly bold and interesting statement about what America is. And it's as if the entire film was just a buffer to put in context what this real point of the movie is. In this way the movie is incredibly rich with meaning, prolific in its ability to entertain you and submit a Pearl of insight.

Top 5. This film is very well done and has a gift for the view in the end. It’s not terribly uplifting or warm but the film is trying to say something and that is all a audience member can ask for.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Lincoln (2012)

Writen by Tony Kushner
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis

This film is simply good without argument or bias. Steven Spielberg is an amazing director but this film has the potential to be his historical film that lasts through time. About one of this nations greatest leader, this film creates a much stronger understanding of what was so confusing yet ingrained in our national history. Slavery is a hard issue to talk about, especially in America, and this film does it’s best to honestly represent the culture and feeling of the time period.

The film has an all-star cast. This is not just a film directed by Steven Speilberg, which is enough to make it an instant classic. Daniel Day-Lewis portrays Lincoln in this film with such subtlety and grace while being surrounded by a cast of characters. Sally Fields, Joseph Gorden-Levitt, James Spader, Tommy Lee Jones, Lee Pace & Jared Harris all add an perfect backdrop to the film.

The film runs like a play and each scene is smoothly crafted to deliver a message to the audience about the time and place and situation Lincoln was in. This film is very much centered on Lincoln and his desire to legally and legitimately pass the amendment that freed the slaves in America.

Interestingly, as you watch the film you might find yourself drawing pop culture references and making connections with current events with the films historical subject matter. Its odd to think that a film such as this would have relevance to our culture today but it’s a testament to how deeply ingrained these historical events play out in our daily lives.

Top 5. This one was a slam dunk before it even hit theatres. Spielberg and Day-Lewis together make history come alive with this amazing film about Lincoln. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Life Of Pi (2012)

Written by David Magee, Yann Martel (novel)
Directed By Ang Lee
Starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan & Adil Hussain

Life of Pi is a fantastic tale. This film is an event to go see on the silver screen. This film is a dance of lights and sound that truly create a sense of world travel and univeral experience. The mystic world of imagination is present throughout this film.

The story is of a young boy who grows up learning all about the world and becoming more spiritual in his humanity. He suffers a great deal of lose when his family is killed in a ship wrack and he is stranded on a raft with a tiger in the middle of the ocean. The story is a coming of age tale that hints at the existence and experience of god and the humility of life.

This film has amazing cinematography and CGI graphics. The tiger and ocean of fish truly capture the mind's eye of the audience while at the same time look hyper real and crisp. The film speaks of imagination and wonderment as if the audience must watch through the eyes of a child. Each moment the movie becomes more and more real while it become more and more fantastical.

The film ends poorly. What you were supposed to believe turns out to be something you have to choose to believe. This is not to say the film has little to offer. In fact, the film may offer more then, what at first, you might think. Religious belief and story telling play their own part in this story strangling arguing for themselves. But the whole of the film still holds up in the end.

Top 5. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen, this film has a family friendly plot that has lots to offer both children and adults. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Looper (2012)

Directed by Rian Johnson
Written by Rian Johnson
Starring Joseph Gorden-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt

This film was interesting. What’s not to love about back to the future, Star trek, somewhere in time, or the lighthouse? Really they all have lots to offer the viewer. The magic of movies is time travel in more ways then one.

A film can transport you back in time to the early 1900s like in the film ‘There will be Blood’ making each view image a harsher life and reality. A film can push you forward in to the future where cyber warfare and laser guns are comment place and everything is new. Film can even bring us back to an earlier time in our lives where we recall childhood dreams and fantasies.

Looper doesn’t really do any of that but its still fun to watch. The best part of this film about closing the time loop is when Bruce Willis the future self of Gorden-Levitt says “if we talk about this will be here all day.” Or something to that effect. And that is so wonderful to take that attitude with time travel. It’s not very explainable.

The film revolves around this problem of the future self attacking the present self and ruining his life. Even saying it now makes everyone’s head spin….

No Rating. Honorable mention. This film was something to see. I recommend it as a rental. 

Taken 2 (2012)

Directed by Olivier Megaton
Written by Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace & Famke Janssen

Did you see the first taken? If so the, you’ll enjoy this one too.

Liam Neeson was born in 1952 (quick math) he’s getting old. But the filmmakers of Taken 2 Megaton, knows what he’s doing because its hardly noticeable. Yes, in a few of the scenes Neeson looks stiff and off balance but that’s just flavor for the character. “He’s tired of the BS” and the film makes a great action movie for the aging action movie goer.

Maggie Grace does a wonderful job of being a recovering victim of kidnapping. She plays a girl coming of age in a world locked down by her controlling father. This film captures a good connection between a father who is trying to protect his daughter and a young girl becoming an adult. The film doesn’t capitalize on this relationship but the portrait is solid. Come to think of is, nothing about this story is wrong or confusing. All the motivation and plot points are there and focused on properly

So what goes wrong? Well, nothing exactly. The film just doesn’t have enough. The story slowly goes along fine but it’s just a repeat of what we have already seen. The mystery isn’t really there. So the audience losses its interest quickly even though everything is done right.

Bottom 5. Not a movie to see in the theatre. Just rent it if you want to see it. You’ll be disappointed if you pay more then a few dollars. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Argo (2012)


Directed by Ben Affleck
Written by Chris Terrio Joshuah Bearman (article)
Starring Ben Affleck, John Goodman & Bryan Cranston

Argo is the name of a fake movie this movie (same name) is all about. As you can image, a movie about a movie is always unsettling in one way or another.

Ben Affleck stars and directs this film and is well know for his other projects he’s directed like ‘The Town’ & ‘Gone baby, gone.’ This film stays in that line of directing and plot ark. Ben Affleck has been cultivating through his directing that has become a very dependable voice. In other words, when you hear Affleck is directing you know what your going to get…

So what are you getting when you buy a ticket to Argo? The story is a glamorized historical event that took place in the 70’s that may or may not have anything to do with our current situation in the Middle East. Having said that, this film does an amazing job of cultivating a interest in the history of American foreign policy.

This film has the potential to be a groundbreaking film like the acclaimed ‘All the Presidents Men’ or ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ but something about it feels forced. The film proposes that the CIA would send a team of agents posing as a Hollywood film crew because it’s the only option to hide in plain sight. The problem with this idea is that it’s just not true.

No rating. It’s an enjoyable film with all the excitement of escape. Affleck does all the right things and makes all the right decisions as a director. It’s just not a compelling tail. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cloud Atlas (2012)

Directed by Tom Tykwer, Any Wachawski
Written by David Michell, Lana Wachowski
Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, & Hugh Grant

This is an amazing film. For anyone looking to be awakened, if only for a few minutes in the theatre, this film will give you chills. It’s the kind of film that is hinting at a larger Truth that is hard to perceive or keep in focus. Directed by the same people responsible for the Matrix (and the matrix Sequiles) expectations where perplexing at best.

Tom Hanks has been a beloved character actor for a good 30 or 40 years now and nothing makes an audience member happier then when they see a familiar face. Interestingly enough Hanks plays so many different characters in this film you’ll get that wonderful feeling several times throughout the movie. All the actors are recycled so you making connections within the several different story lines that might have been hard to discern otherwise.  

Everything about this film is well done. Hanks, Berry, Grant & all the others all operate at the highest performance level here. The cinematography is majestically diverse in each story. The movie flows at an interesting pass that some people may fall asleep while others are on the edge of their seat.

The overarching story is more like a collection of life experiences. Each story has a compelling and rich story line that revolves around oppression and the rising up of the weak. A line that is mentioned a few times in the film speaks to the theme of the story “the weak are meat and the strong shall eat.” as bone chilling as that may be the film creates a safe place to explore the idea of oppression and the security of our spirit life.

Top 5. If you see one film before Christmas this year… Go see this one. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Master (2012)

Written By Paul Thomas Anderson
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, & Amy Adams

Amy Adams is a wonderful actress. She shines in almost every roll she is cast in. Along Side Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams is one of the best faces on the silver screen these days. Both shine in this original piece by Anderson who has done other masterpieces like Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, & Punch Drunk Love.

The Master is incredibly hard to watch. Joaquin Phoenix does an exemplary job of making himself into an animal of a man. The character he plays is incredibly unloveable and he plays his part with such believability that its uncomfortable to watch.

Hoffman and Adams are an incredibly strong duo playing husband and wife, trying to start a religion. This movie is strongly based on the beginnings of scientology and the plot focus on the hypocrisies and perversions of this type of religious practice.

The cinematography is perfect. the sets are time period clean set in the 1920's. The images roll over on eachother so quickly and comphertably the movie glides along while being equality awkward.

Top 5. It's not totaly clear what the movie means but it's definitly saying something that we should all atleast experience once. Anderson has an incredibly unique voice.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

End of Watch (2012)

by David Ayer
Directed By David Ayer
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena & Anna Kendrick

Have you ever seen the Television Show Cops? Well, if not this will be an eye opener for you. The film is basically an episode of cops that lasts for about 2 hours. Actually that's exactly what it is.

Jake Gyllenhaal does a great job of making this film interesting and Michael Pena does a superb job of co-staring. Pena is the perfect friend who uplifts and supports Gyllenhaal's character through all his tough cop like attributes.

After you get used to all the camera jerks and the quick cuts the movie starts to feel like a character driven piece. the camera plays a very strange roll in this film. at times the camera is being whiled by the characters explained as a film project for a college course. but often the camera turns into just an observer of the action and has no character handheld motivation. basically the camera plays two different roles; one as a observer of the action, two a gimmick for the character to explain himself and talk to the camera.

the film ends with a gang violence showdown that ends in a bloody mess. but the message of the film is pure and comes across very well. all the chacacters have heart and play well on camera.

No Rating. the film could have been better. the biggest complaint is the camera's roll of being a movie or a documentary. you kinda have to pick one and stick with it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hit & Run (2012)

Written by Dax Shepard
Directed by Dax Shepard, David Palmer
Starring Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell, and Bradley Cooper

This is Dax Shepards baby. Shepard made this film with his friends and wife. He wrote it himself. This movie is a part of him and a window into his soul if you will. This movie is a dream of his.

This was a good fun film. It had lots of great action and character development. Lots of the film takes place in the car. Dax Shepard looks like he does most of his own driving in this one. The movie really plays well as an action chase adventure.

Bradley Cooper plays a very interesting role as a hipster type bank robber who spent a some traumatizing time in jail. Bradley Cooper is a long time friend of Shepard and obviously had fun on this film set. Kristen Bell does an amazing job of being cute and sweet and pretty. Tom Arnold adds a great sense of comedy to the piece that really makes everything work well together.

Michael Rosenbaum is an amazing actor but known for playing Lex Luthor in the TV Show Smallville. He is the antagonist in this film and does a wonderful job of being believable and horrible at the same time. Simply put he is a total jerk!

Top 5. The movie isn’t great but the accomplishment by Shepard is something I respect. Go see this just to support Shepard’s dream! You wont be disappointed. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hope Springs (2012)

Written by David Frankel
Directed by Vanessa Taylor
Starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carrell

This was a fun movie.

Meryl Streep is fantastic in this film. Streep shows all of her skill with this roll playing a repressed and uptight housewife who is exposing her self to help heal her failing marriage. Streep is known for her powerful feminine characters that are mold breakers and stronger example of feminism. Her feminity comes off in this as tender and meek. She is truly a wonderful actress and this role is a new Streep. It’s as if we are being let into a much more intimate woman who we thought we knew well.

Tommy Lee Jones shows his willingness to show himself in an unattractive light. Jones makes a wonderful character out of a grumpy old man. Where other actors might make you fear or resent his disposition you’ll find yourself laughing at his absurdities. Jones is so convincing and yet so unthreatening he becomes a lovable example of a scary personality. Isn’t that what acting is all about.

This film is simple and honest. The therapeutic moments with Carell are intense and awkward.  It’s uncomfortable because that’s what intimacy is. This film is opening up an aging relationship and showing the audience the underpinnings and connections that need maintenance. That’s what makes this film a great date movie.

Top 5. Enjoyable for almost everyone. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Words (2012)

Written by Brain Klugman, Lee Sternthal
Directed by Brian Klugman, Lee Sternthal
Starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Zoe Saldana & Olivia Wilde

I love Bradley Cooper and this is another great role for him. He is a struggling writer who falls upon an old manuscript of the great American novel. Cooper is a very believable character in everything he plays. His insecurities and his vulnerabilities play on screen. He isn’t of the same caliber as Philip Saymour Hoffman or Gary Oldman but he is more of a Hollywood leading man. His physic and his abilities are vastly appreciated on film. Cooper has vast amounts of subtlety and depth to his character that a Channing Tatum or a Josh Hartnett wouldn’t be able to portray.

Olivia Wilde makes an appearance along with Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, and Zoe Saldana. In truth its an all-star cast and a wonderful mix of faces and characters. Everything fits cleanly and properly together.  The cinematography keeps it simple and bright making each actor shines with talent.

The story plays more like a novel then a film. The characters don’t jump out of exploding buildings or stab each other in the back. Its much more of a think piece. The film plays with the idea that each word has meaning even in its familiarity. The characters have strong relationships and meaningful expressions of life and love.

The plot is very much rooted in real life and the meaning of life. Its hard to watch at some point because of how grounded it is. This is the kind of movie that really makes you think. The entertainment value is given in the spirit of wisdom not distraction. If you are a deep thinker this movie will stimulate your brain vain.

Top 5. This is a film about life and the meaning peaks through the lines of a filmstrip and burns it’s image on the walls.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Campaign (2012)

Written by Chris Henchy, Shawn Harwell
Directed by Jay Roach
Starring Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis

Will Ferrell is a comedy giant. Seriously, he’s a very tall man. Galifianakis is a very fat man. Both are comedy wizards wielding vast amounts of power and influence. Both star in this film and yes the laughs are all over the pace.

The movie is about a Senate seat in South Carolina and its between these to guys. The film revolves around how dirty and mean spirited the film campaign is. The movie is not a epic battle, more like a epic error. One by one the pressures of the powers that be unravel both candidates and the become unhinged. 

If you’re a fan of Ferrell or Galifianakis then you should support their movies and go see this one.

No rating. Just another comedy with a kinda good plot and a kinda good ending.

Anti Christ (2009)

Written by Lars Von Trier
Directed By Lars van Trier
Starring Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg

This movie is not good! Obviously by the name its meant to scare you. But unfortunately this movie does not.

Willem Dafoe is an amazing actor and he does nothing but a superb job in this film. Its amazing to watch such a master of character play this role. Dafoe is a theropist dealing with his grieving wife after losing their son who jumped out their apartment window as a toddler. Dafoe ties to council his wife Gainsbourg by giving her a ful-time therapy session.

The film doesn’t make you very comfortable about anything. Lars von Trier does have a unique voice through this piece. Therapy, nature, despair & guilt all play large roles in Trier’s work and this film is no different.

If you enjoy artistic films and wonderful cinematography then you’ll enjoy this film. The camera work is wonderful. It makes the audience wonder “how did he capture these images like this?”

Bottom five. This film is depressing and leaves you with very little to take away. Don’t watch this unless you have nothing better to do or feel like beating up on yourself. 

Friday, August 31, 2012

What's Your Number? (2011)

Written by Gabrielle Allan, Jennifer Crittenden
Directed by Mark Mylod
Starring Anna Faris, Chris Evens, & Ari Graynor

How many men have you slept with? Well, this films is all about how many is too many? Apparently 20 is too many because that’s what Anna Faris is trying to stay under.

The film does a wonderful job of making Faris look fun and silly and adorable. She has cute idea, cute close, and cute everything. She is dead set on marring one of her ex boyfriends so that she stays under that horrible number 20.

The main complaint about this film would be that 20 is kind of a lot. Most guys don’t rack up that kind of number. I would say 12-15 is a lot. In any case the film blows by that with a short example. Faris takes a poll from her friends and finds out they all are under ten. This is embarrassing and helps puts the film back into reality.

No rating. There are lots of laughs and if you like the actors you'll enjoy the film. 

Total Recall (1990)

Coming soon

Fight Club (1999)

Written by Jim Uhls
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Brad Pitt Edward Norton & Helen Bonham Carter

The First Rule of Fight Club is…

The Second Rule of Fight Club IS...???

Top 5. This is by far one of the best movies I have ever seen. A must see! 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Total Recall (2012)

Written by Kurt Wimmer, Mark Bomback
Directed by Len Wiseman
Starring Colin Farrell, Bokeem Woodbine Bryan Cranston & Jessica Biel

Good movie! At least its better then the original 1990 film with the same name.

From the get go the action in this movie is enough warrant a viewing. The special effects are breathtaking and well thought out. You won’t find much to be board with. Your eyes will dance across the screen with each bullet whizzing by and every explosion. You won’t be disappointed in the visuals.

Colin Farrell does a good job also. The acting is believable and the characters seem to be, for the most art, on the same agenda. Bryan Cranston plays the bad guy and is always impressive as the unlikable villain.

Unfortunately the movies falls a bit flat by the ending. Nothing seems to carry any wait and ultimately the character losses his motivation. The movies does a good job of making you want to see success but doesn’t deliver on that promise.

Bottom 5. Why remake a bad movie? 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

To Rome With Love (2012)

Written By Woody Allen
Directed By Woody Allen
Starring Woody Allen, Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, & Ellen Page

If you love Rome, Comedy, Alec Baldwin or any of Woody Allen’s films you’ll love this one.

A lot of things can be said about Woody Allen; he’s a narcissist, a sexual deviant, a immoral liberalist, a genius, and such a cad. His political opinions and personal life aside Allen is more or less a wonderfully successful filmmaker. Allen has made such masterpieces as Manhattan, Crimes and misdemeanors & Annie Hall. Approaching the age of 78 Allen continuously tries to make contemporary movies like last years film Midnight in Paris.’

To Rome With Love is a feature film poking fun at celebrates, the paparazzi and the common man’s craving to be desired. (Common man meaning common person) It’s a breath of fresh air to see Allen having more fun with his storyline and less self-conscious preaching of a particular philosophy like we have seen in his past few films. Sex, lust, lies, embarrassment & general bad behavior fill the screen as the bulky cast of characters proceed to tangle up their lives in petty circumstances.

Wonderful irony of this film is that all of it is so enjoyable. Each character has very well thought out points of view and comes off as authentic and meaning full as the next. This truly is a testament to Woody Allen’s talent as a filmmaker. His story is not only superfluous but also becomes incredibly compelling. To be human is to be a person who makes juvenile blunders for irrational and all to obvious reasons.

Top 5 rating. A true masterpiece from a master of the human conundrum.