Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Transmission

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Artist

The Artist - Film Review

Once every so often, a unique film comes along that sweeps us away into a world far from the one that we know so well. This time it's a little film called The Artist and it makes us feel the magic of cinema in its purest form. It not only acts as a time machine that teleports us back into the 1920s, but also as a miraculous drug that catapults us into a positive, enchanting, and delightful state of wonderment.

The story begins in 1927, where we meet silent Hollywood movie star George Valentin. He is the ultimate artist of his time. Everyone is entertained and enthralled by his onscreen and onstage presence. At some point, he bumps into a young woman named Peppy Miller and they immediately hit it off. Peppy starts dancing in some minor roles in silent films and dreams of co-starring with George Valentin some day. However as the 20s come to an end, a new innovation is taking Hollywood by storm and that is none other than the introduction of synchronized sound in film. It seems like Valentin is suddenly outdated as a silent actor. Meanwhile, Peppy Miller is rising to the top with talking movies..

The Artist is a perfectly made film. The direction is amazing, the acting is superb, the black and white cinematography is beautiful, and the screenplay is terrific. Did I mention that the film is almost completely silent? That's right. It manages to keep our full and undivided attention for one hour and forty minutes without the use of dialogue. In a day where every film talks our ears off with mindless unnecessary chatter, The Artist conveys important meanings and emotions through visuals. In the end, the most important goal of a film should be to tell a story through pictures and not so much in words as is the case for literature.

Producer Thomas Langmann and director Michel Hazanavicius bring back the silent era with uncanny precision. Everything about the sets, the costumes, and the actors' gestures and expressions, are intricately laced together to create a true experience of the 1920s and 30s. I won't give anything away, but there are also some very clever techniques that play around with the film's style used to construct extra layers of meaning. In addition, the music in The Artist could not have been better suited for the content and intensifies all the different moods of the storyline. It is remarkable that this movie was made on a 12 million dollar budget and easily rivals other period films that were made with over 100 million dollars.

The acting is top-notch all around. Jean Dujardin is astonishing in his role as George Valentin. His acting is multifaceted and covers a wide range of emotions. Watching him in this film, one could easily confuse him with a star from the silent era. Berenice Bejo is splendid in her portrayal of Peppy Miller. She looks the part and makes a nice match with Dujardin. Not only do these two actors play their roles so wonderfully, but they also dazzle us with a number of dance routines. It is also important to note the secondary performances by John Goodman, James Cromwell, and Penelope Ann Miller. All together the cast is magnificent.

The Artist is a flawless film and I highly recommend to everyone to go and watch it!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Movie Review

David Fincher is back with his latest film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and he leaves us less than impressed.. That's right. David Fincher did not make a masterpiece this time. I am not going to be one of those people who thinks everything he touches turns to gold. His last movie, The Social Network, was brilliant - you can read the review right here on Mozart Films. Fight Club was great, Seven was amazing, but The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn't even come close to those classics.

I want to be as objective as possible. This mystery thriller takes us along on an investigation for a young woman who has been missing for over forty years. The team searching for the missing pieces to the puzzle is comprised of an unlikely pair. A journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, in his forties, works together with a punk-fashioned-computer-hacking young woman, Lisbeth Salander, to solve the dark mystery. As most of you will know by now, a film of the Stieg Larsson novel was first released in Sweden in 2009. I strongly believe that version is better and I'll tell you why..

First, let me begin by pointing out the positive aspects of the American version. The opening credit sequence is simply astonishing. It is by far the best part of the movie and one that was surely difficult to make. In addition, the original musical score by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Atticus Ross is chilling and atmospheric, much like their contribution to The Social Network. Without their music, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would have had much less to offer. Also, there are a couple of solidly made sequences scattered throughout the film that have thankfully not been toned down for this version, but nothing really noteworthy.

Now, let's move on to the parts of the movie that are not so impressive. To begin with, the direction of the film is monotonous. Every scene rolls out at the same level of intensity, even when something supposedly important is happening or whenever there is a twist to the storyline. Where is the suspense, the emotion, and the thrill to it all? Nowhere. The acting is mediocre at best. Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara give just the minimum amount of effort to keep us going for the 158 minute running time. Craig is boring as usual. He has very little diversity in his facial expressions. Mara's performance is irritating to say the least. Does she really have to be that angry every second while she's in the frame? Of course, there is a bit of good acting as well in the film provided by Stellan Skarsgard and Christopher Plummer.

The Swedish version of the movie, directed by Niels Arden Oplev, is far superior to the American version. The actress playing the girl with the dragon tattoo, Noomi Rapace, IS the girl with the dragon tattoo! Her performance fully embodies everything about the main character, from looks and style to emotion and intensity. Also, Michael Nyqvist turns in a solid performance as the journalist. Although it's running time is roughly the same as the American version, you hardly notice it due to the overbearing mystery and high level of suspense.

The Swedish film is raw, tough, and on the edge and gives us a deeper look into the psychology of Lisbeth, unlike the new version. It was also produced at a fraction of the cost that Fincher's film was made with, which goes to show you that more money doesn't necessarily amount to more striking cinema. In conclusion, watch the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and you'll be pleasantly surprised. The American take on the story is unfortunately below expectations, which is too bad because the whole style of the project matches David Fincher's directorial approach and body of work. The potential was there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

J. Edgar

J. Edgar - Film Review

Over the past decade, we have come to expect a certain level of quality from director Clint Eastwood who has turned out some great films such as Gran Torino, Changeling, and Mystic River. However, it seems that he is slowly losing his touch. As much as I admire Clint Eastwood, not only as an actor and a director, but also as a man, I must state the obvious. His last three films, including J. Edgar, have ranged from average to just plain bad. Eastwood's latest effort, J. Edgar, is a biographical drama about the life and career of the first director of the FBI, and how he changed the face of law enforcement in the United States. If you're thinking about watching this movie, there are a few things you should know..

J. Edgar is boring. That's the simplest way of putting it. This is one of the rare times that I have said something like that in one of my film reviews, but unfortunately it's true. This movie could not have been more uninspired or less entertaining. First of all, the film just starts off right away with J. Edgar Hoover, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, rambling away about past events in his life. There is basically no music to build the atmosphere of the beginning sequences. There is no proper introduction to the main character to make us care about him. Second, the film had no form whatsoever. You could literally start watching it at any moment, or rearrange the order of the scenes, without losing any dramatic momentum or plot development. This made the movie extremely monotonous. Thirdly, it was way too long at 137 minutes for what it had to show, and could have easily been edited to under two hours. Lastly, the make-up of the actors in the scenes where they were old was horrendous. In fact, the supporting actor playing Clyde Tolson looked not only as though he had been aged too much, but as if he had died and was later mummified. Not to mention the obvious mistake of how DiCaprio's body was aged but for some reason his voice wasn't. He looked like an 80-year-old man talking with a teenager's tone.

Having said that, there were a couple of positive things about the movie. The sets, for one thing, were all nicely built and looked fairly accurate for the time periods that the story takes place in. In addition, the main actors - Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, and Naomi Watts - did a decent job and were able to bring some emotion to the screen during some of the harder moments of J. Edgar's life. Other than that, there is really nothing else that can qualify this film as being watchable. That's all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Rum Diary

The Rum Diary - Movie Review

Johnny Depp is back in another Hunter S. Thompson adaptation, but will this one be as memorable as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? That will probably depend on how big of a Thompson fan you are. The Rum Diary follows the story of journalist Paul Kemp who goes to work for a local newspaper in Puerto Rico during the late 1950s. However, as he gets used to the vibrant and exciting lifestyle of Puerto Rico, Kemp finds himself involved with some rather corrupt businessmen.

Let me break it down for you. The Rum Diary may not be the best novel to film adaptation possible, but it still manages to be fun movie watching. It's a great two hours of escape from your everyday reality. The mood of the film is light, carefree, and hilarious. So if that criteria is enough for you to go to the movies, then by all means go. If, however, you believe that you are the type that will scrutinize every minute of the movie to see if it has done justice to the HST novel, then please forget about it. Thankfully, I belong to the first group.

Bruce Robinson's directing here is nothing special. You could say that the film, technically speaking, is somewhat poorly made. In spite of this, The Rum Diary has an excellent cast that keeps it alive and saves it from sinking. This movie would be nothing without the charisma and on-screen presence of Johnny Depp, and that's true for a lot of the movies he's been in. I would say that his portrayal of the main character is the most Hunter S. Thompson thing in the whole film. Michael Rispoli and Giovanni Ribisi are also superb in their supporting roles as Paul Kemp's friends.

The Rum Diary will not please everyone. There are many things left to be desired. Regardless of the film's mistakes, my verdict is to give it a chance, or should I say, a shot!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

50/50

50/50 - Film Review

50/50 is a comedy/drama that will both make you laugh and move you. This film takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions as you follow the 27-year-old main character's difficult struggle once he has been diagnosed with spinal cancer. He is not alone, however, as he is supported by his best friend Kyle, his parents, and his therapist. His odds of survival are 50/50. Will he beat the cancer.. It's definitely worth watching to find out!

Director Jonathan Levine did an excellent job of bringing this movie together. He created a perfect balance between the funny and the serious moments in the story. His approach to the film is quite simply very human, showing the everyday lives of the characters without exaggerating things. The acting is natural and believable, and the director's choice of shots and music creates a powerful atmosphere while dealing with the delicate subject matter of cancer. 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns in an intense performance as the main character Adam. Gordon-Levitt's portrayal of his psychological journey from being diagnosed to denial, to anger, to depression and alienation, and finally to acceptance is heartbreaking to watch due to the sheer realism with which he approached his role. I can easily say that it is probably his best acting to date. His best friend in the movie is played by Seth Rogen, who is utterly outrageous as usual but at the same time convincing. It's great to have his character in the film because of the way he lightens up the overall mood. The reason he is so helpful to Adam in coping with the situation is because he is just himself and doesn't treat Adam like a patient at all. We also see some nice secondary performances from Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Anjelica Huston.

50/50 is a unique blend of comedy and drama that you should not miss while it is in cinemas. The combination of a touching story together with extremely funny moments, and superb acting, makes this film irresistible and highly watchable. All in all, it is a must-see! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Carnage

Carnage - Movie Review

Roman Polanski's new film Carnage is a 79-minute-in-your-face-dialogue-fueled-comedy-drama. The basic premise of the movie is that two sets of parents decide to meet up to talk about how they should handle a fight that happened between their young sons. Over the course of the film, the meeting that takes place slowly exposes the many hidden aspects of these parents' personalities. It's a great little movie that grips you from the start and entertains you every minute of the way!

Carnage, adapted from Yasmina Reza's play "God of Carnage", stars four actors that all give brilliant performances. The first couple is made up of Jodie Foster and John C. Reilly, and the second is played by Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz. Each actor portrays a character with a different personality and style, and brings their own unique viewpoint to the discussion taking place. This creates a huge conflict among them and is the cause for a lot of laugh-out-loud scenes. Roman Polanski, who has directed such classics as Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, and The Pianist, does a superb directorial job once again. He creates a nicely paced story in one of his most minimalistic films yet. His use of close-up shots of the actors puts you right in the middle of this heated arguement.

All in all, Carnage is a very fun movie to watch. It entertains you and makes you think deeper about the close relationships between people and the communication (or lack of communication) in society as a whole. Good stuff!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin - Film Review

The trailer for this new psychological drama grabbed my attention the second I saw it. It was at once strange and unsettling, so I decided to give it a chance.. We Need to Talk About Kevin is a psychological thriller that focuses on the mother of a teenage mass murderer. The film is a study of a mother dealing with horrific psychological grief and trauma following her son's disturbing act of violence - a high-school massacre. So is it worth watching? It depends on what your expectations are, but I would say that the movie has above average qualities making it a noteworthy piece of cinema.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is not for everyone. It is a raw and disturbing experience. Lynne Ramsay's directorial talent does not go by unnoticed. She really manages to put us in the shoes of the depressed mother, played by Tilda Swinton. The story, based on the novel by Lionel Shriver, is shown in a nonlinear fashion. The director creates a lot of intricate shots and sequences that reveal hidden emotions and thoughts. Tilda Swinton gives an amazing performance as the main character, Eva. In fact, her performance is probably the strongest element of the film. She truly delivers in a difficult role.

For the most part, the movie is realistic in the way it shows a family dealing with a problematic child. But there is one thing I didn't quite agree with. I do not like the way the filmmakers decided to portray the disturbed son, Kevin. It really was a little over the top that Kevin was angry ALL the time. Almost every single word or action by Kevin from birth to adolescence was evil in nature. This aspect of the film, unfortunately, deteriorates the overall style and atmosphere. In any case, Ezra Miller turns in an adequate performance as Kevin but doesn't quite hit the mark. John C. Reilly is good in his role as the father, but his acting is nothing out of the ordinary.

The movie's soundtrack just didn't do it for me. The filmmakers tried to use light old country style rock tracks over the heavy psychological imagery to create mixed feelings in the audience. This trick has been successful in other cases, but I definitely think they could have made some better musical choices to get a stronger reaction. Although Jonny Greenwood created an epic score for the film There Will Be Blood, his original music for this film doesn't live up to my expectations. We Need to Talk About Kevin is a solid movie, but it falls into the category of films that I can only watch once. This won't be true for everyone, so give it a shot and who knows - it might just hit the bullseye for you!

Drive

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Drive - Movie Review

This new action thriller will literally have you on the edge of your seat! Drive, starring Ryan Gosling, packs a mean punch from start to finish. It is as intense and as raw as one could wish for! The story is as follows: a Hollywood stunt driver, who occasionally doubles as a wheelman, gets involved with a woman whose husband is in jail. When the husband is released, he is forced to rob a pawn shop to pay back money that he owes to some dangerous guys from prison. The driver decides to help the husband on the heist in order to protect the woman and her child from the bad men, but that's when everything goes wrong..

Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, is as I see it a near perfect film in every aspect. First of all, the story is pretty complex. It weaves together many different characters into one dangerous plot. We have a love story and a heist gone bad. Second, the direction is flawless. Each scene builds up on the previous one with a heavy atmosphere and mounting suspense. You can easily see a strong visual style that connects all the images together. I must warn you here that Drive is not for the weak at heart, since it contains very brutal and bloody violence. However, it is not mindless and unnecessary violence. Each kill adds layers of suspense to the story. The chase sequences are incredibly powerful. You can feel the engines roaring and the tires screeching. The director really did a great job of choosing the best shots so as to put the audience in the driver's seat. The film has a good blend of both fast paced and slow paced dramatic scenes. In the midst of all the crazy action and mayhem, we also have a love story flourishing. The director manages to show this to us without going too deep into the emotions of the main characters.

Ryan Gosling is, of course, once again amazing in this film. It seems that he has the ability to turn every role he approaches into pure gold. He is one of those rare actors that shows his thoughts and emotions through very subtle expressions. I could easily compare his style of acting to that of James Dean, where the actor's intensity lies just behind an empty stare. This adds an element of mystery to the character Ryan Gosling is portraying. The little dialogue he has in conjunction with his subtle acting makes you hooked to the screen to see where he is going to take you next. Carey Mulligan is great in her role as Irene. It's interesting to watch her as she is slowly consumed into the criminal world that the driver is taking her into. Albert Brooks does a superb job of portraying the bad guy, bringing an intimidating force to the screen. In addition, the movie's soundtrack was awesome. It complemented the visual style of the film and added so much in terms of originality. Drive is one of the best movies of 2011, so watch it if you haven't had the chance yet. Just remember: buckle up!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'll be back...

Thank you for visiting my blog.. I will be back very soon with new reviews, so stay tuned. Hasta la vista, baby!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

True Grit

The Coen brothers have gone and done it again... True Grit is a film that will not settle in the dust! This new movie starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, is destined to become as classic as the Old West. The story of the film is as follows: An extremely clever and courageous fourteen-year-old girl is determined to find her father's killer and hires one of the toughest U.S. marshals around - Rooster Cogburn - to track him down. A Texas Ranger, who is also intent on finding the murderer, joins them on their perilous journey. True Grit is very characteristic of the body of work the Coens have produced throughout their careers. As with all their films, you either get their style, or you don't... Either way, True Grit is undoubtedly a well-made film with a unique cinematic atmosphere.

The acting in the film, which is executed perfectly, manages to transport the viewer back to the Wild West with originally delivered dialogue and old time mannerisms. Jeff Bridges gives a performance that is entertaining, memorable, and priceless. He embodies the character of Rooster Cogburn in every way and he is, simply put, the man! Bridges is also incredibly funny in the film, blending his own comical touches with the typical Coen brothers' sense of humor. Hailee Steinfeld plays the central role of the young girl who is on the path of vengeance. Thanks to both her acting and the Coens' direction, Hailee turns in an original performance of the stubborn Mattie Ross. Rooster Cogburn and her form an unexpected team in the film despite their very different personalities. Matt Damon's role in True Grit is something he's never played before as an actor, so it was good to see him experimenting. He does a great job as LaBoeuf, the Texas Ranger who is constantly coming in conflict with Rooster Cogburn. In addition, Josh Brolin also looks and acts the part of the killer, Tom Chaney, decently.

The form of the film's plot is quite inventive, giving the viewer some surprises and unexpected turns along the way. The Coen brothers did an excellent writing, directing, and editing job with True Grit. It is a very solid film that keeps you in the mood of the story from beginning to end. Roger Deakins' cinematography is amazing as usual. He has been a director of photography on so many good films, including Revolutionary Road, No Country for Old Men, A Beautiful Mind, The Big Lebowski, and The Shawshank Redemption, just to name a few. In short, True Grit is a movie that you should watch by any means necessary if you're a Coen brothers' fan and if you're not, then you should at least give it a try. True Grit is truly gritty!!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

127 Hours

Let me start by saying that 127 Hours is simply the most powerful film I have seen in years! I was speechless after seeing this film, it had a profound effect on me.. 127 Hours, directed by Danny Boyle and starring James Franco, is based on the true story of how a mountain climber, Aron Ralston, survived for five days while being trapped under a huge rock deep inside a canyon. The film shows all the things that Aron had to do to stay alive, and here I must warn those of you who are squeamish that there are some disturbing images. The story focuses not only on the physical aspects of Aron's dilemma, but also on the psychological. As Aron is trapped, we drift in and out of his thoughts as he recalls all the important people and moments from his life. I won't tell you if he makes it or not, you have to go and see it for yourself.

Danny Boyle has proven his genius as a filmmaker with 127 Hours. You may recall some of his other movies such as Slumdog Millionaire, Sunshine, and Trainspotting. The directing in 127 Hours is truly original and sensational. Every image and sound is calculated with precision to put the viewer right into Aron's shoes. The cinematography and editing are amazing and create an intense atmosphere. In addition, the music in the film is perfectly matched with the feeling of the story. James Franco, who plays the main character Aron, puts on an unbelievable one-man show. His performance is very realistic, which is vital for a film like this. It is easily his best acting to date. In conclusion, 127 Hours will leave you breathless and will make you view everything around you in a new light. It is nominated for six Oscars and I hope it wins in every category. I urge you to watch it immediately if you haven't yet, the clock is ticking!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The King's Speech

There were many great movies in 2010 and this year so far.. The King's Speech was one of them! This new historical drama is nominated for a staggering 12 Oscars, that must mean it's pretty good. Right? Oh yeah! The film stars Colin Firth, who reinvented himself as an actor after his role in A Single Man in 2009 and continues to amaze everyone with his versatile acting abilities in his latest effort. The story of the film is quite simple: The man who becomes King George VI suffers from a speech problem and is considered too weak to rule a nation. He eventually seeks the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush. The therapist, however, uses very unconventional techniques to cure his patients. The King, also known as Bertie, forms a strong friendship with Lionel as they work together to cure the King's speech..

The film was a pleasant surprise. The King's Speech, directed by Tom Hooper and written by David Seidler, has a unique cinematic style. It is original in its simplicity and its down-to-earth human approach, despite the fact that it deals with royalty. The cinematography is top-notch thanks to director of photography Danny Cohen, who keeps the visual style of the movie minimalistic to match the story. In addition, the original music in the film is great, which was composed by Alexandre Desplat who has done work on many films including The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The music comes together perfectly with the story and visuals to create an emotional backdrop for the metamorphosis that Bertie goes through. Although all the aspects of the film that I have commented on are important, the thing that really makes this movie shine is the terrific acting.

Colin Firth, who portrays Bertie, does an incredible job of breathing life into a complex character. Firth has proved his worth as a gifted actor once again by completely submerging himself into his role. This is not an easy task given that his character not only has a troubled personality but who also suffers from a speech impediment. Despite all of these obstacles, Colin Firth manages to deliver a truly realistic performance and takes The King's Speech to a higher cinematic level. Bravo! Another acting gem in this movie is Geoffrey Rush's performance as Lionel Logue. His portrayal of the speech therapist is colorful and original, and gives the story a lot more depth. Rush's character is also responsible for a lot of the funnier moments in the film. Finally, Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Queen Elizabeth, does an excellent job. Her character has a dynamic personality and provides support to her husband, Bertie, throughout his trials and tribulations. Overall, I strongly recommend you watch this movie in cinemas if you get the chance. The King's Speech is a compelling story of one man's triumph over fear and doubt.   

Monday, February 14, 2011

Black Swan

This is probably the most talked about film of 2010 and 2011 so far! There have been hundreds, maybe even thousands, of reviews written about it. Now it's my turn to give you my piece of mind on the subject. Why should you read one more review? I can't give you a good solid reason. So if you want you can continue reading, or go check your mail, or watch some videos on Youtube, or go on Facebook. Are you still here..? Okay, for those of you who made it this far, I thank you sincerely.

Let me begin.. Black Swan as you all know by now is the new psychological thriller from director Darren Aronofsky, starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, and Vincent Cassel. The story is as follows: Nina, a ballet dancer, is determined to get the lead role in the play Swan Lake. To do this she must be able to portray both the graceful White Swan and the dark and sensual Black Swan. Although Nina is perfect as the White Swan, she is not cut out to play the Black Swan. Then, all of a sudden, a new dancer appears, Lily, who is the absolute embodiment of the Black Swan. A rivalry begins between Nina and Lily to impress the artistic director of the play, and Nina's determination to become the Black Swan leads her down the path of self-destruction. The result is a beautiful cinematic study into the dark side of human psychology..

Darren Aronofsky has proved time and time again that he is a master of intense psychological thrillers. He is responsible for creating one of my favorite films, Pi, and also other famous films such as Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and The Wrestler. Aronofsky does an incredible job directing Black Swan! The film probably could not have been any more perfect in conveying the obsessive nature of the world of a ballerina. Every shot and camera angle takes the viewer deeper into Nina's horrifying thoughts, greatly due to the amazing work of cinematographer Matthew Libatique and editor Andrew Weisblum. All of this is, of course, intensified by the original music created by composer Clint Mansell.

Everyone involved in the production of Black Swan is a professional, and that includes all the actors. Actress Natalie Portman, who plays the leading role of Nina, is superb. She captures every emotion with precision and every obsessive thought with mastery. Both Portman and her on screen rival Kunis were trained and choreographed in such a way as to make them realistically believable as ballet dancers. Mila Kunis was perfectly matched in her role as Lily. Vincent Cassel was great in his portrayal of the play director. In addition, Barbara Hershey is terrifying as the overbearing ex-ballerina mother and Winona Ryder is excellent as the washed-up has-been dancer. In conclusion, Black Swan is a stunning film with five Oscar nominations that should not be missed!  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Fighter

Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale star in one of the best films made in 2010. The Fighter, directed by David O. Russell, is a powerful real-life drama with performances that will leave you breathless. The true story centers around boxer Micky Ward, played by Wahlberg, and the difficulties he faced both in his profession and his personal life. The greatest inspiration for Micky is his half-brother Dicky Eklund, played by Bale, who used to be a professional boxer but who later turned into nothing more than a crack cocaine addict and a petty criminal. Dicky tried to be a boxing trainer for Micky, but was unsuccessful while he was still addicted to crack. This film follows the story in which these two men struggled to bring about a positive change in their lives and live on as legends in their home community. It is a touching story about redemption and hope...

The Fighter is beautifully written, acted, directed, and edited. David O. Russell, who had previously directed I Heart Huckabees and Three Kings, does a great job of bringing this true story to the big screen. He manages to show real life with all its happy moments, depressing moments, and little insignificant moments that matter to us in the long run. Having personally grown up in Massachusetts, I can tell you that all the characters and settings in the movie are true to life. Also, the boxing scenes are intense and riveting, and there are original camera angles and shots to put us right in the middle of the action. The Fighter has a rawness that is vital to conveying the subject matter of the story, much like the feel of the 2008 film The Wrestler. However, don't worry if you're not really into boxing because this film has to do a lot more with the events happening outside the ring.

The performances in The Fighter are amazing. Mark Wahlberg is perfectly cast in the leading role of Micky Ward. There is nothing more that you could have asked of Wahlberg's acting in a role such as this. Not to mention that he looks the part, as a boxer. Now.. Christian Bale. What can anyone say about Christian Bale's acting in this supporting role? The truth is that you can only stare in pure awe at the metamorphosis of Bale into the character he is portraying. Not only has he physically changed, but he simply IS Dicky Eklund! I could not have wished for anything better from him. If he doesn't win the Oscar for best performance by an actor in a supporting role, then the actor that does win it should proudly hand it over to Bale. That being said, the rest of the supporting actors in this film did a noteworthy job. Both Amy Adams and Melissa Leo were terrific in their roles and deserve praise. In addition, Mickey O' Keefe actually plays himself as Micky Ward's mentor, so he couldn't go wrong or be less realistic with his acting.

In conclusion, The Fighter is a must-see film! It is nominated for seven Oscars and is definitely worthy of your time and money. It's as strong as a punch to the face... Knockout!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Love and Other Drugs

The trailer for this film gave me the impression that it was going to be AWFUL! It turns out that this was not the case. Love and Other Drugs, directed by Edward Zwick and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, was a pleasant surprise. As far as romantic comedies go, this was a decent effort with a unique style. The story is as follows: Jamie Randall (Gyllenhaal) is a confident ladies' man with a quirky edge. He has just embarked on a new career in pharmaceutical sales, but realizes that it's a very competitive industry. While doing his job at a hospital, he crosses paths with Maggie Murdock (Hathaway). Although Maggie is in the early stages of Parkinson's disease, her self-esteem does not seem to be affected by this and she is just as full of herself as Jamie is. The two of them seem like an unlikely match, but will they soon become addicted to the drug called love...

Edward Zwick did a great job in directing this movie. Having previously worked on films such as Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai, and Courage Under Fire, Zwick is no stranger to movies dealing with serious subject matter. This serious tone even rubs off on Love and Other Drugs, in a good way. The film does indeed take a turn towards a heavier mood in its second half, which is nice because deeper social meanings behind the concept of love are developed. We are shown that love is blind and that it can appear when people least expect it. This movie is original in the way it actually conveys love as being a drug, just like any other that we can take to feel better. So the direction of the film was pleasing. The visual style of the movie is fun because it transports the viewer back to 1996 and at times there are shots that bring to memory the films from that time period.

The acting was more than acceptable. Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway have great chemistry on screen. Hathaway's role was more complex because she had to portray some of the difficulties a person with early Parkinson's disease is faced with. She also did a decent job of showing a character who tries to give the impression of being fine on the outside, but who struggles with inner torment due to her disease. Gyllenhaal had a somewhat difficult role as well because his character's personality and values do a complete 180 degree turn over the course of the film. In addition Josh Gad, who plays Gyllenhaal's on-screen brother, delivers a lot of outrageous humor that makes the movie funner to watch. Overall, this film was entertaining and satisfying. Give Love and Other Drugs a chance!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hereafter

It is always a special occasion when a new Clint Eastwood film is released. The man is simply amazing! Clint has been an iconic figure of cinema for longer than anyone can remember. He is not only a charismatic actor, but an extremely talented film director. In the last ten years, we have been astonished by Eastwood films such as Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Changeling, and Gran Torino. His latest effort, Hereafter, is unlike anything he's ever tackled before. The new film aims to raise the question of whether or not there is "life" after death. Where do our loved ones go when they pass away? There is a hope in all of us that the people we lose never really leave from our side. This is something very human that we feel, but is one of the greatest mysteries that we will never know...

In Hereafter, three people are affected by death in different stories. In one story, we have George Lonegan, played by Matt Damon, who used to work as a psychic that would communicate with the deceased. However, George viewed his talent as a curse and believed that he wasn't really living his life. Now he lives a quiet solitary life as a factory worker, who goes to sleep every night while listening to audio recordings of Charles Dickens' novels. In the second story, we have a french woman journalist, played by Cecile De France, who experiences a near death experience that affects her deeply. During her terrible ordeal, she sees extraordinary visions of the afterlife which she cannot stop thinking about. The near death experience affects her everyday life by alienating her from her lover and friends. The third story follows a London school boy as he is confronted with the sudden death of his beloved twin brother. The young boy, Marcus, feels completely helpless and alone in the world and desperately seeks a way to communicate with his deceased brother, Jason.

The acting in the film is beautiful. Matt Damon turns in a subtle yet very true to life character performance with all the qualities that make him human. Damon conveys the essence of being misunderstood and feeling alone in the world through his character, George. I especially liked some of the soft touches to his character's personality, such as his fascination with the life and work of Charles Dickens. Although he has a great gift, George is still a simple man. These are the kinds of characters that Clint Eastwood loves to work with and what makes his films stand apart from others. Cecile De France delivers a good performance as Marie. It is easy to empathize with her character when she loses the meaning in simple day-to-day routine activities and when nobody believes in the visions she has witnessed. Finally, Frankie and George McLaren's performances as the twins Marcus and Jason are intensely heartfelt. It is rare nowadays to see so much emotion from such young child actors. They are both very talented. The direction of the film was great. Clint Eastwood seems to have put in a lot of effort to confront a style of film that he's never made. Even though Hereafter deals with supernatural subject matter, Eastwood managed to give the film a down-to-earth feel. In addition, the original music in the film creates an emotional atmosphere. It was perfectly matched with the visuals, adding a beautiful element that accentuates the characters' conflicts. In conclusion, I recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a simple story about real-life people. There isn't a lot of action taking place throughout the movie, but the stories of these characters move you and the film makes you question some of the deeper meanings in life...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Little Fockers

Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Owen Wilson, and the whole Meet the Parents gang are back in part three, Little Fockers, to take the story to the next level. Greg Focker has met his wife's strange parents, her parents have met his crazy parents, and now it's time to see what happens when kids come into the equation! I remember when I saw Meet the Parents back in 2000.. It was one of the funniest movies ever! If you liked it, then you probably watched Meet the Fockers too, which was okay for what it was. Now, Little Fockers is here and I must say that I had a fun time seeing it!

Little Fockers, directed by Paul Weitz, is not one of those comedies that's going to stick in peoples' minds forever like Office Space or The Big Lebowski have. It's a simple comedy to spend 98 minutes of your time with. It will keep you entertained. There were no parts where I felt like the movie was dragging. There are some dynamic story elements that keep the laughs going. One of these is how Robert DeNiro's character, Jack Byrnes, feels as though his role of looking after the whole family is coming to an end and has to make Greg the "Godfocker" now. Another funny element is the ongoing rivalry between Greg Focker and his wife's ex, played by Owen Wilson. Wilson's character is the "perfect man" in every aspect and this makes Greg's life very difficult. Owen Wilson was great in this film. I suggest you go and watch Little Fockers these holidays for a great time!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All Good Things

This psychological thriller is a masterpiece in its own right! All Good Things, directed by Andrew Jarecki and starring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst, is one of the top contenders for my favorite film of 2010! I am really excited about this film and I'm glad I had the chance to see it as it has had a limited release in cinemas so far. This movie aims to bring to life one of the most mysterious unsolved murder cases in New York history. In the story, Katie meets the charming David Marks and they begin their beautiful life together. They get married and move into a luxurious house, but slowly Katie starts to realize that there's something peculiar about David. Katie hasn't really learned anything about David's life yet; the deep psychological trauma that he has lived with since childhood. I don't want to give away any important story elements, so go and check this out for yourself immediately if possible..

The acting is simply astonishing in this film! First off, Ryan Gosling delivers an unforgettable performance as the psychologically troubled David Marks. We have all seen Gosling's talented acting many times before in movies such as The Notebook, Stay, Half Nelson, and Lars and the Real Girl, but now he has just risen to another level in my mind. He is definitely one of the best actors working today. In his role as David Marks in All Good Things, Ryan Gosling manages to show us an amazing range of emotions that seem to lurk hidden within the dark waters of his character's personality. Now, that statement might sound a bit exaggerated but believe me there are no words to describe his acting in this film. He brings an intensely disturbed character to life. Bravo! Second, Kirsten Dunst is superb in this film. Her role as Katie Marks is easily the best performance she has given in her career so far. She also delivers a quite complex character and shows that she is an actress with great potential. Third, Frank Langella, who I also mentioned in my review of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, gives a very noteworthy performance as David Marks' father in the movie. He is perfectly cast as this character creating for the protagonist, Gosling, a strong family conflict.

The directing is amazing! All Good Things is a very original film and it is clear that the director, Andrew Jarecki, had a strong vision that influenced all the parts of the production. The film has a very solid visual style and a sinister atmosphere. The cinematography is inventive as it nicely blends together 'old' homemade film footage of happy moments with the grim reality of the present. The whole film is beautifully shot creating an eerie feeling that is palpable. In addition, the editing is excellent! The scenes were all cut together perfectly, at times flowing smoothly one into the other and at other moments abruptly cutting between images to create suspense and symbolic meanings. Also, the original music in the film more than complements the visuals, giving us a dark score that is suitable for our strangest nightmares. All in all, this movie is breathtaking. I could go on and on about it but I think you get the picture. As with everything, just remember that All Good Things must come to an end!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1,000 Pageviews, Thanks Everyone!

Mozart Films has passed the 1,000 pageviews mark thanks to all of you! I hope you will continue to read my film reviews, and feel free to post your comments and sign up as members to Mozart Films. Thank you for the support!!!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Next Three Days

This new crime thriller from director Paul Haggis starring Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks did not live up to my expectations. Paul Haggis, who also directed Crash in 2004, failed to hold this film together and make it a memorable experience. Unfortunately, the script was just a big mess, especially in the second half of the movie. The story goes like this: John Brennan's wife is accused of murder completely unexpectedly and all the case evidence shows that she is indeed guilty. John, played by Crowe, will never accept that his wife is capable of murder but soon his chances of proving his wife's innocence run out. Faced with a difficult dilemma, John decides that his only option left is to break his wife out of prison. Sounds like a good premise for a thriller right? It did to me and the trailer made it look intense! I thought I was going to love this film, but after two hours in the theater it just left me apathetic..

The Next Three Days wasn't all bad, don't get me wrong. There was quite a bit of suspense and action. The acting wasn't bad either. Russell Crowe was the star of the show as usual. His brand of acting is pretty unique in the Hollywood world and it's always interesting to see what he'll bring to the table. Although he wasn't as powerful as he was in The Insider or A Beautiful Mind, Crowe still pulled it off and is probably the main reason why anyone should see this film. The accused wife in the movie is played by actress Elizabeth Banks, who also does a fairly decent job in her role. Acting aside, let me tell you about the movie's script.. It was tedious! The pacing of the scenes was off. There were many scenes that could have been deleted from the final cut. In the last half hour of the film, there was a lot of unnecessary switching back and forth between different scenes that had probably been edited like that to keep the viewer in suspense but resulted only in causing annoyance. Although Paul Haggis has written some interesting screenplays for movies like Million Dollar Baby and Crash, this time his screenplay needed a lot of rethinking and rewriting. Haggis' directing, on the other hand, was fine for a film like this. It didn't have anything groundbreaking in terms of camera angles and shots, but it was solidly shot. In conclusion, The Next Three Days is an average movie to pass your time with. I'll let you decide if you should check it out in theaters or wait for a rental.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Due Date

This was an extremely funny and entertaining film! Due Date is brought to us by Todd Phillips, the director of movies such as The Hangover, Starsky & Hutch, Old School, and Road Trip. The film, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, is a laugh-til-you-cry comedy. The story is as follows: architect Peter Highman is on his way home to L.A. to be with his wife when she gives birth to their first child, but at the airport he comes in contact with a stranger who ends up getting both of them kicked off the airplane and put on a "no-fly" list. This strange man is none other than aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay, accompanied by his small dog. To cut the story short, Peter has no other option but to hitch a ride across the country with Ethan in order to make it to his child's birth on time. If only he knew how painful the journey was going to be...

Due Date is better than The Hangover in my opinion. The Hangover had its laugh-out-loud moments but the plot was a little exhausting and ultimately was a movie that I wouldn't really want to see again. On the other hand, I would gladly watch Due Date again and would even be so bold as to say that it will become a classic comedy with time, like Dumb and Dumber. Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis had great chemistry together on screen and made me laugh very hard. The recipe of having a completely 'normal' serious individual next to a totally weird guy is what makes it work. There are so many hilarious scenes in this movie. The dialogue is excellent and the gags are quite original. The music in the movie is also complementary to the various scenes and enjoyable. Overall, Due Date is a must-see comedy, and there aren't too many good ones nowadays so go and have a fun time!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Harry Potter is back again with the final book in the series, which has been divided into two films. Although this franchise is a worldwide phenomenon, I must admit that I've never really been into the whole thing. I have seen all the Harry Potter movies so far except the sixth one, and that's because I was completely sick of them after the fifth one! But.. There was nothing else playing at the movies, so I decided to give it one last chance. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is by far the best in the entire series and had just the perfect combination of film elements to finally win me over. It has left me with an excitement to watch Part 2 as soon as it is released in July of 2011. I never expected that to happen!

The film was directed by David Yates who did an excellent job. Although he had directed two other Harry Potter films, he gave this movie an edge that was missing in the previous movies. Deathly Hallows, Part 1, is much darker and more mature than any adventure Harry Potter has lived through so far. The film was shot in incredible settings and had a mysterious atmosphere throughout. That is just one of the noteworthy aspects of the new film. Another is its relative minimalism with regard to storyline. It was easy to follow, even though I remembered very little from the previous Harry Potter movies, and the characters' motives and goals were established well. The acting was stronger than ever before tapping into deeper emotions. In addition, there was also an animated scene in the film that was just great and added more depth to the story. I believe that this film and Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will stand apart from the previous six movies. I highly recommend you watch this intense journey in cinemas. Can't wait for Part 2!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Unstoppable

This is Tony Scott's new action suspense thriller starring Denzel Washington, whom the director has worked with many times. Tony Scott's resume includes movies such as The Taking of Pelham 123, Deja Vu, Man on Fire, Spy Game, True Romance, and Top Gun. Unstoppable proves to be a thrillride from start to finish. The story centers around an unmanned freight train that is heading towards a populated city. The train is a half mile long and is carrying explosive materials, in addition to its huge fuel tank, so it is basically a speeding bomb that must be stopped before it decimates an entire area. After multiple failed attempts to stop the train, the last hope lies in two men to run it down. And so the chase begins...

Denzel Washington and Chris Pine are the two railway workers that take it upon themselves to stop the train. Washington's character in Unstoppable is very similar to characters that he's played in other films. He is once again the wise and confident good guy who loves his family but risks his life to do the right thing! Well, at least it's a character Denzel can play perfectly and we all love him for it. Chris Pine's character is a young rookie train conductor who clashes with Denzel's character due to their differing ages and work experience, but soon they hit it off and become a good team. Rosario Dawson is decent in her role as the railway supervisor helping the two men. She gives a realistic performance. Really though, this movie is all about the action and suspense and Tony Scott delivers a solid film again in a genre that is right up his alley. The script could have been better and there was a little unrealistic acting here and there, especially by the two actresses playing Denzel's daughters who were cheering for their dad risking his life on the TV news as if they were watching a basketball game. Also there may have been a few holes in the plot, but I can understand that it can be difficult to make a story like this work on the big screen. The cinematography and editing were done nicely, setting a good atmosphere and pace to the film. The special effects were all great and looked real. Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed Unstoppable. It managed to fulfill its role as a suspense thriller and kept me on the edge for its entire running time. It's worth seeing this in theaters for the whole intense experience!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Other Guys

The Other Guys is the new comedy from director Adam McKay starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. This movie isn't about the two hotshot detectives who catch all the bad guys and look cool while doing it. It's about the two "other guys" who do office work in the police department, get made fun of, and never go out on the streets to solve cases. These two disgraced detectives, Allen Gamble and Terry Hoitz, are about to get their chance to shine as soon as a huge investigation lands in their hands. The only problem is that these guys are not your average police detectives..

This movie is hilarious! There are a ton of laugh-out-loud scenes scattered throughout. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are perfectly cast as partners. I must admit that, although Will Ferrell is usually the top funny man, Mark Wahlberg made me laugh just as hard. Their personalities came together nicely to create a good chemistry on screen. Their police captain, played by Michael Keaton, also added a lot of funny touches to the film. Even though this movie is worth seeing just for the laughs, I have to point out that the plot was hard to follow and really didn't engage me as a viewer. There were many action scenes especially in the second half of the movie where I was just staring at the screen without thinking. It felt like it was all just a little too much. I couldn't decide if it was important to follow the whole investigation these two guys were conducting or if it was just a background story for the crazy gags. Either way, I have to recommend that you watch this movie because it is extremely funny. I was crying from all the laughter, so go and check it out for a good time!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Social Network

David Fincher, the director of such films as Seven and Fight Club, is back again with The Social Network. This new film takes us deep into the story behind Facebook and its creator Mark Zuckerberg. The story is as follows: Mark, played by Jesse Eisenberg, is a Harvard University student in 2003 who wants to become popular among his fellow classmates but at the same time is feeling down because his girlfriend Erica has just dumped him. At some point, a prestigious university club finds Mark and asks him if he would like to help them develop a new social network for college students at Harvard. Mark agrees to this, but instead decides to create a social network on his own with the help of his dorm roommates. Being something like a prodigy programmer, Mark quickly gets the network up and running within a short time and names it The Facebook. As the social network gains popularity and spreads from one college to another, problems begin to appear. The three Harvard students who had asked Mark to work with them on the project, are now suing him for stealing their idea, even though its obvious that Mark has conceptualized and programmed everything for the network on his own. Soon after this, conflict arises between Mark and his only real friend Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook. Now Zuckerberg is caught between two huge lawsuits, Facebook is in danger, and Mark has lost both the only girl he cared about and his best friend Eduardo...

The Social Network is an excellent film! The acting is great. Jesse Eisenberg becomes Mark Zuckerberg. He is both robot-like and emotional. Eisenberg's character is a complex one and he manages to deliver a solid performance. Andrew Garfield is very good in the role of Eduardo Saverin. He perfectly conveys the feelings of someone who has been left behind and betrayed by his best friend. Rooney Mara, who plays Mark's ex-girlfriend Erica, is also effective in her role of being a girl with brains and not just another stupid groupie. Her attitude is what commands the attention of Mark, who happens to be really down-to-earth, and distinguishes her from the rest of the girls in the film that only care about money and popularity. In addition, Justin Timberlake actually gives a good performance as Napster co-founder Sean Parker. His superficiality and his manipulative ways are nicely brought to life by Timberlake. Another noteworthy perfomance is given by Armie Hammer who surprisingly acts the roles of two characters, twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, with the aid of computer effects.

The directing is amazing. Fincher really brings this whole film together nicely. He catches all the expressions and emotions of the actors on camera flawlessly. The script, written by Aaron Sorkin and based on Ben Mezrich's book "The Accidental Billionaires", is brilliantly complex. In fact the original screenplay was 166 pages, while a two hour film script should only be 120 pages. Fincher had to make The Social Network two hours long under contract, so he made the actors speak the dialogue much faster than they normally would. As a result, we hear a million words a minute but this matches with the atmosphere of the movie. The cinematography and editing really set the mood and pace of the film, but the music is where the movie really shines. The original music of the film composed by Trent Reznor (of the Nine Inch Nails) and Atticus Ross manages to beautifully underscore the film with dark tones and a heavy atmosphere. I loved it! Overall, The Social Network is a great film that deals with an idea that has defined a new generation. Do not miss this!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Town

This film is one of the most powerful of 2010! The Town, directed by Ben Affleck, is a dramatic crime thriller that packs a punch. The story is as follows: Doug MacRay, played by Ben Affleck, is a bank robber in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston, which is an area infamous for its criminal activity. MacRay and his crew wear masks and rob a bank in the first scene of the film, during which they kidnap the bank manager Claire Keesey, played by Rebecca Hall. They let her go after they use her as a hostage and later decide that Claire might pose as a threat to them. Doug decides to follow Claire and eventually starts falling in love with her. This becomes a huge dilemma for Doug because he is now caught between the criminal world that he's known all his life and his relationship with Claire, who could potentially give them up to the FBI. You'll have to watch the film to find out what happens..

There is a lot of great acting to mention in The Town. First off, Ben Affleck is perfectly cast in the role of Doug MacRay. His character is not your typical hard criminal. We notice that Doug is different from the rest of his criminal friends right from the start through the way he treats people, especially Claire. While the rest of Doug's friends use violent force to get what they want, Doug is more thoughtful and just wants to get the job done without hurting anyone. We see a more emotional side to his character. Ben Affleck does an excellent job in balancing all the sides to his character's personality. One of Doug's accomplices is his longtime friend James Coughlin, portrayed by Jeremy Renner. James is quite different from Doug. He is very violent, hurting and killing people every chance he gets. Renner acts the part very well. He is believable as a hardened criminal from Boston. The FBI agent Adam Frawley who is onto MacRay and his masked crew is played by Jon Hamm. Hamm's character contributes a lot of the suspense in the film because he is clever at putting all the clues together and as a result is constantly close to catching the bank robbers. Rebecca Hall's portrayal of Claire is another good performance in the movie because she is sort of psychologically damaged after the robbery and is later emotionally confused. We also have some strong performances by Blake Lively as James Coughlin's drug-addict sister, Pete Postlethwaite as an Irish crime lord, and Chris Cooper as Doug's imprisoned and troubled father.

Ben Affleck did a remarkable directing job once again with The Town, as he also did for his film Gone Baby Gone. The Town is really powerful in all aspects. Both the high intensity bank robbery scenes and the emotionally driven scenes are brilliantly shown on the big screen. While there may be comparisons to Michael Mann's crime thriller Heat, Ben Affleck adds his own unique touch to The Town. The action sequences are beautifully shot and put you on the edge of your seat. The sound design of the film is amazing. The machine guns are loud, just as they should be in a movie like this. There is also a really good scene where the regular sound is suddenly cut off and all we hear is a ringing noise, and this really puts us in the atmosphere of the action. Overall, The Town is a must-see movie. I highly recommend you not miss this in theaters. So put on your bulletproof vest, fasten your seatbelt, and get ready for a good ride!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Last Exorcism

This is one evil piece of film! The Last Exorcism, directed by Daniel Stamm and produced by Eli Roth, is simply put: a thriller that succeeded at thrilling me (and to a very shocking level). This purely satanic movie is made in the style of a documentary, much like The Blair Witch Project. The story is as follows: an evangelical minister decides to let his last ever exorcism be filmed as a documentary. The film starts off by showing us how the minister, Reverend Cotton Marcus, lives his everyday life delivering sermons in his church and giving to the general public the impression that he is a strong religious figure. However, Reverend Marcus reveals to us that he is actually unsure as to whether he believes in God. We then learn that he has performed a number of exorcisms in the past. The Reverend himself does not believe that he actually released demons from the victims, but rather helped these people psychologically by giving them a false impression that the evil spirits had left them. Rev. Cotton Marcus decides to expose the fraud behind exorcisms by choosing randomly one of the many letters that he receives asking for his help. And man does he choose the wrong letter.. A farmer claims that the devil lives inside his daughter. Oh my God!

Let me start off by saying that this film has had mixed reviews. It is one of those movies that you will either love or hate. I enjoyed The Last Exorcism a lot and I would say that it's worth the risk to watch it because you may like it as well. The directing was excellent. I truly felt the whole way through the movie that I was watching a real documentary. The shaky hand-held camera work, the turning on and off of the camera, the loss of lens focus because you don't know in advance what you're going to shoot, and some other innovative directorial ideas all worked together perfectly to build an unforgivingly intense atmosphere. The acting in the movie is very close to perfect for what is necessary in a film of this type. Ashley Bell, who plays the possessed girl, was particularly convincing in her role. The script, the editing, the lighting, and the sound design of this film were all done in a way that achieved the unnerving realism that we witness on screen. I highly recommend this movie if you enjoy a good heart-pounding thriller. "If you believe in God, then you have to believe in the devil."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Legend of the Guardians, directed by Zack Snyder, is an adventurous animated film that's not just for kids. I had the chance to see it in 3D and it was awesome. It was the second movie that I've seen in 3D, the first one being Avatar. So as you can see I'm not a huge fan of this new technology. However, it completely worked with this film. LOTGTOOGH (I'm calling it that for short) is based on the first three books of the series of novels "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" written by Kathryn Lasky. The story centers around a young owl named Soren who is kidnapped along with his brother by an evil owl army that wants to turn them into soldiers along with many other owls. There Soren meets Gylfie, a young owlet, who he escapes with to go and find the mythical Guardians on the island of Ga'Hoole so that they will fight against the dark army that has abducted so many young owls from their homes. On the journey, Soren and Gylfie will find a few new friends to help them on their quest. It is a very well-developed story about friendship, betrayal, imagination, and courage.

LOTG is an incredibly beautiful film. You can tell immediately just by watching a few minutes of the movie that a ton of work went into animating it and bringing it to life. There are a lot of breathtaking visuals to be seen. The director, who has also done Watchmen and 300, has truly put together something original with this film as far as the animation genre is concerned. The actors that play the characters' voices are all terrific and put a lot of emotion into their owl counterparts. You can feel the atmosphere and empathize with the characters so the film goes beyond simple 3D animation. The story has many symbolic meanings as well that are important for anyone to consider. Overall, the whole team that worked on LOTG did a superb job. I recommend Legend of the Guardians to everyone, regardless of age, and try to see it in 3D because it adds another layer to the excitement as you fly through the skies with the owls!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Devil

I know this movie was released about a month ago, but I just got the chance to finally view it and I have decided to review it anyway. Devil, conceived by M. Night Shyamalan and directed by John Erick Dowdle, is a thriller with a pretty simple story: five people become trapped in an elevator with the devil to keep them company.. Sounds promising to me! In fact, as soon as I saw the trailer the first time, I got the chills. The title of the film alone made me want to see it.

Devil didn't live up to all my expectations of a great thriller, but it wasn't half bad either. The film's beginning is powerful with upside down shots of a city skyline combined with intense music. It really puts you in the mood to see something mysterious. From then on, the film builds up slowly with some scares along the way but I felt at times like something was missing. It needed something more to really get my heart pumping. As soon as the film starts to pick up speed, the suspense and horror increases substantially. There are some truly frightening scenes leading up to the shocking climax. I swear to you that I almost crapped on myself when the satanic mystery was revealed! That was by far the most horrifying scene of the movie and was worth the wait. The directing was good, putting in some original camera angles and movements. The acting was adequate enough in general to keep you in the mood. I also liked the musical score quite a bit; it added some nice dark touches to the film. Overall, Devil was better than average and I would recommend you give it a chance if you like supernatural thrillers. Just remember to say your prayers before you go into the movie theater..

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Buried

Buried, directed by Rodrigo Cortes, is a truly original thriller in many respects. The protagonist of the movie Paul Conroy, played by Ryan Reynolds, puts up the fight of his life to get out of a coffin in which he's been buried alive. In the coffin he has a lighter, a cellphone, and a very limited amount of oxygen. It is as claustrophobic as hell! Is there a way out of this? You'll have to watch it to find out..

This is 95 minutes of non-stop torture and I loved every second! The minimalism of this film is what makes it so great. You have one character in one tight setting and he has to solve a puzzle to save himself. I've heard comparisons of this movie to Alfred Hitchcock's work, and I would agree to that. The film builds up suspense in the viewer through an original story, which is exactly what Hitchcock was all about. Ryan Reynolds delivers his strongest performance by far. Yes, it's the same guy who was in the TV show Two Guys and a Girl and in the movie The Proposal! Believe me though, Reynolds was perfectly cast to play in Buried. His acting is very realistic and putting yourself in a situation like this is no easy task for an actor.

The director for this film was innovative in showing us the intense atmosphere building up in a tight coffin by using a lot of original techniques. Disorientating shots and strange camera angles made us feel as doomed as the main character, like we were right there with him. Lighting was used in many stylized ways and played an important role in this film considering that we're trapped in a dark coffin. The writer, Chris Sparling, must also be mentioned. His story is so solidly constructed with twists and surprises, and emotional intensity, that keeps us intrigued until the end. Mind you that this is very hard to achieve with a story that is contained all within one small space. I also liked the way we never leave Paul's side and see every single thing from his viewpoint. In addition, the music was terrific and nicely complemented the images, creating a mysterious atmosphere. This film truly grips you from start to end and buries you in suspense. I personally have never seen anything quite like it. I strongly recommend this film to you, it's one of my favorites this year!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stone

Where do I start? Stone is an intense film. It is as powerful as a film can hope to be nowadays. The film, directed by John Curran, tackles a lot of social and religious issues that are often found in society and it delivers some very strong messages. Let me tell you the story in a brief summary. Convicted arsonist Gerald "Stone" Creeson (Edward Norton) is finally eligible for release from prison after having served eight years of his sentence, but in order to do this Stone must convince his parole officer, Jack Mabry (Robert DeNiro), that he is a changed man. In an attempt to increase his possibility of being released, Stone decides to use his wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) to manipulate Jack. As a result, this deceptive plan has a profound effect on everyone involved.

Stone is one of the best films of 2010! This dramatic thriller is essentially perfect. The script is amazing. The acting is amazing. The directing is amazing. The cinematography and editing are amazing. Amazing, amazing, amazing! Okay, maybe that was one "amazing" too many but you get the picture. Robert DeNiro is a man who has fallen apart over time and who feels a big emptiness inside. His character, Jack, is a complex one because on the outside he seems like a "normal" person with a good family, an ordinary job, a nice house, and a formidable reputation, and yet this couldn't be further from how he really views himself and his life. DeNiro delivers one of his best performances here. He is so subtle and focused that it is hard to distinguish his character from a true life person. Edward Norton's character, Stone, is the exact opposite of Jack. Stone is a man who has thrown all the cards on the table and is perfectly content with who he is. He doesn't feel like he has anything to hide. Even though he is a criminal, he is in actuality a more honest person than Jack has ever been. However, Stone also has problems of his own. He is depressed and contemplating suicide but also trying to figure out the deeper meaning of his existence. Like Jack, Stone is a very complex character and Edward Norton brings him to life in a flawless performance. Milla Jovovich's character, Lucetta, is a young woman who doesn't really believe in anything and is simply content with satisfying her needs. She appears to have a careless nature but she too seems to have problems under the surface. Jovovich's portrayal of her character is exactly what is needed on her part to complete the connection between Stone and Jack. One more noteworthy performance in the film is that of Frances Conroy, who plays Jack's wife. Her character is psychologically lost and tormented from years of being neglected by Jack, and she turns in some great acting.

The script is as solid as they come and John Curran, the director, does a respectable job of bringing the story to life on the big screen. I really liked the shots and the camera angles he used and in combination with the settings of the film created a unique atmosphere. I also must mention that the editing was great and was used to build a lot of intensity in certain scenes, creating strong symbolic connections between images that were interlaced with one another. The film in general has a very heavy feel to it and deals with pretty depressing situations. It also requires a good deal of thinking. So if you're not in the mood for philosiphizing and just want to have a good time, then watch this movie some other time. On the other hand, if you are in the mood to see something that comments on our society and its ethical rules, I strongly recommend you see this movie!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Splice

This new sci-fi thriller, directed by Vincenzo Natali, is a movie quite different than what you might be expecting going into it. Splice stars Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley as a scientist couple, Clive and Elsa. They have decided to go ahead and combine animal and human DNA without anyone's permission. In addition to having broken the law, Clive and Elsa have created something which is potentially very dangerous..

I don't want to say much more in terms of plot, you'll have to watch it for yourself to find out how this story.. evolves! I can tell you however that there are some unique story developments in terms of psychological directions. It's not just a movie about an alien lifeform which goes about terrorizing people. It goes a little deeper than that. We start to get into the psychology of this new creature called "Dren", played by Delphine Chaneac. And in these new realms of psychological tension is where the real horror lies. I wasn't completely pleased with this film, even though the story had the potential to become something I would really enjoy. Just to let you know, I am a big fan of both science fiction films and psychological thrillers, so this was right up my alley. Unfortunately, it didn't have everything that was required to make it a film that will be remembered forever. At least the acting was better than average for the most part. Adrien Brody was better cast in this role than some others he has played, namely the tough dude in Predators (see my first review)! He did a decent job of getting into the ethical and psychological dilemmas faced by his character. Sarah Polley was just as good as Brody, often having the opposing viewpoint to him and creating a lot of conflict. However, Delphine Chaneac had the most difficult role as Dren. Her character was very demanding in that she had to express herself without dialogue. She did an excellent job.

The directing was pretty good. The director managed to create a lot of suspense, putting me on the edge many times during the film. I can say that there were a couple of scenes that were really impressive, which took me back to some classic sci-fi thrillers such as Ridley Scott's Alien. The special effects were done well and looked realistic. In addition, I also enjoyed the music used in the film. There were just a few things in the movie that I would have wanted to see done differently. Overall, Splice was a better than average film. I suggest you go and see it if you haven't yet. But I warn you.. Some images will stay in your mind for a while and creep you out!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Note from the Author:

Hello everybody. Thank you for visiting my film reviews blog! This is the place you can get reviews on all the new releases hitting the movie theaters. I will be back with a new review very soon!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Oliver Stone's new film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is here as the sequel to the original Wall Street film from 1987. The film brings back the original Wall Street trader character of Gordon Gekko played by Michael Douglas. Gekko has been in prison for eight years for illegal insider trading and we meet him the day he gets out. We are introduced to two new characters as well, a young Wall Street trader named Jake Moore played by Shia LaBeouf and Winnie Gekko who is Gordon's daughter, portrayed by Carey Mulligan. Jake's mentor, played by Frank Langella, is pushed to commit suicide and Jake is left looking for answers as to why. That's where Gordon Gekko comes in and joins forces with Jake to get revenge on whoever it is that was responsible for his death. Meanwhile, Winnie who is Jake's girlfriend and soon-to-be wife wants her father Gordon completely out of her life. So Mr. Gekko agrees to help Jake with his problem if Jake helps him fix the crumbling relationship he has with his daughter. 


I found the film to be good overall. I can say that it was well-made and that it was pretty entertaining. The storyline was not difficult to follow and was gripping. A lot of times, movies dealing with economic or political issues tend to lose the viewer by overanalyzing boring details. This was not the case here. There were scenes that dealt with some difficult to understand financial concepts, but they did not stop me from relating to the characters or feeling suspense, and even helped in making the film more realistic. I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Douglas' performance. He had a strong screen presence and was very funny at times. I've been a Douglas fan ever since I saw him in the legendary film Falling Down, released in 1993. A lot of people can't stand him, but I don't have a problem. Shia LaBeouf was also great in his role. I believe that he brought a good intensity and cleverness to his character. Carey Mulligan was a little weaker in her role as anti-Wall Street woman and leftist website creator. I think she could have done a better job had Oliver Stone directed her to do so. There are too many other actors in this movie to criticize in detail so I'll just use one word for each of them. Josh Brolin: tolerable, Eli Wallach: great, Frank Langella: strong, and Susan Sarandon: okay. There were also a couple of cameos from Charlie Sheen and Oliver Stone that were simply unnecessary and sad. 


I think the directing was executed nicely. The camera angles and shots matched the feel of the story perfectly. The film had a good flow and the music worked harmoniously with the images of New York City and Wall Street. I just had one problem. What on earth were all those horrible special effects and transitions. Seriously.. They almost ruined the atmosphere of the film for me. Luckily, they didn't. I really can't understand why CGI has to be used in every single film nowadays. Anyway, there were some good points the movie wanted to make and aside from its few flaws I recommend watching this film. Nice one Stone!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Killer Inside Me

Michael Winterbottom's new film The Killer Inside Me, starring Casey Affleck, is based on the novel by Jim Thompson. Some of you may know that Thompson had collaborated with Stanley Kubrick a couple of times on films like The Killing and Paths of Glory. Kubrick himself stated the following about the novel The Killer Inside Me: "The most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered." Wow! As soon as I heard that Stanley Kubrick said that about this story I had to watch the film based on it. So I saw it and it wasn't exactly what I was expecting..

Casey Affleck was good in his role, not great. He is obviously a talented actor and has proved it many times before, so I don't think it was his fault if the movie failed. It was all the elements of the film together that didn't quite work for me. Affleck's character wasn't the stereotypical murderer. He was more low key and he seemed like a character that had a very strange upbringing and had carried all these bad feelings inside him for years. There were a bunch of subtle things you had to observe in the killer's personality in order to somewhat understand his disturbing nature. However, I needed more than what this film offered me to really feel scared. Also, a lot of light-hearted music was used, which didn't allow me to really get into the mood of examining the messed up mind of the killer. The 1950s were recreated very well in the film. It was a totally believable world. I just thought that a darker atmosphere was needed to build up the terror. Don't get me wrong, there were a good number of disturbing scenes but something was keeping me from getting more involved in the story. In addition, none of the performances of the secondary actors in the film stood out as something noteworthy. I wasn't impressed. Overall, I have mixed feelings about the movie. It wasn't very bad and it wasn't really good. The potential existed for this film to become immense, but it will sadly be forgotten with time. I recommend it as a rental only.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Salt

I'm going to be honest. I wasn't going to watch this movie, but I decided to see it anyway just as an experiment! I was not thrilled by the trailer, so I wanted to give it a chance and this is what happened.. Salt, directed by Phillip Noyce and starring Angelina Jolie, started off nicely. Almost too well. I liked the whole setup and was actually thrilled. There were some ultra-sweet chase sequences and a ton of suspense! I was becoming enthralled in the intensity of it all. Jolie was being pursued by the CIA and the FBI while trying to clear her name. She checked into a hotel and was dyeing her hair black and I was pretty much on the edge of my seat.. And then the last thing I remember was that the whole movie fell apart, scene by scene. I won't tell you what happened, but I will say that it was confusing without any logical explanation. A multitude of unbelievably impossible stunts followed and the whole thing turned into a scriptwriter's nightmare. Not to mention, the film suffered from a host of stereotypes to the point of turning into propaganda. It wasn't Angelina's fault this movie turned out the way it did. I thought both her and Liev Schreiber were decent in their roles. One positive note is that we see a strong female as the main character, something not too common nowadays. Overall, this movie is just barely worth watching once. Better luck next time Angie.. You're going to need it considering your next film is The Tourist with Johnny Depp!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Going the Distance

Going into this new romantic comedy, directed by Nanette Burstein, I didn't have the highest expectations in the world. I actually enjoy these types of movies sometimes and this was one of those times. Lucky for me, this film turned out to be very entertaining. Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, although at first seemed to me like a mismatch, were successful in being believeable as a couple. One aspect of the movie that was done well was the dialogue. The two main characters felt like real people in a real relationship. You could definitely feel the chemistry between Barrymore and Long, which is not something that is easy to achieve. And a lot of the time you could understand the emotions they were going through when they each had to go their seperate ways and when they were apart, one in New York City and the other in San Francisco. Long's best friends, portrayed by Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis (the one with the moustache), were responsible for a lot of the funnier moments. Christina Applegate as Barrymore's sister was pointless and not even worth the mention, so I don't know why I'm mentioning her (I just had to because she used to be in the classic Married with Children). There were a few cliches in the film, but in the end they weren't enough to ruin the flow of the story. All in all, I would recommend this movie if you like the romantic comedy genre. Going the Distance is worth seeing and a fun time to be had.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Predators

Predators.. When I heard this was coming out, I thought back to the original action Sci-Fi thriller from 1987 and thought this could be something. Obviously one of the main elements that made the first one so great was missing: Arnold Schwarzenegger. Nobody messes with Schwarzenegger, not even a dangerous alien predator is a match for 1980's Arnie. He could kill anything with his bare hands! However, in this new film by director Nimrod Antal, we get Adrien Brody. That's right.. The Pianist! Don't get me wrong. I liked the Pianist a lot, but what is this scrawny skinny dude doing up against a huge vicious Predator monster? Have you seen the Predators in this film? They are horrifying to say the least. I hope this guy knows what he is doing because this time he's not on a fun train ride through India with Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman! Joking aside, Adrien Brody managed to do a decent job as the leading man (except for his unnecessarily deep manly voice). The atmosphere is darkly intense. You can feel the claustrophobia of the main characters. The predators have been made to resemble the original and are totally successful at making you crap in your pants. This movie has almost all the guns, gore, and mindless violence you could ask for when you go to see an action film. On the whole, it is worth seeing. So get your large coke in one hand and your popcorn in the other, and get ready to see something that we rarely get nowadays: a fun 80's style action movie (with no Schwarzenegger unfortunetaly), but you get to see Laurence Fishburne completely wacko!